Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Avenir Woodsie

The cycling world is awash in multitools, Swiss army-like bundles of hex wrenches carried about by cyclists for on-the-fly adjustments and repairs. The Avenir Woodsie tools, available in 8-, 10-, and 11-function versions. A dollar or two more expensive than the Trail Tech series of basic tools, the Woodsies add a touch of style with real wood panels. Unfortunately, they're not as stylish as this Woodie:
The eight-function tool has all of the basic cyclists' needs -- hex keys in 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex wrenches, plus phillips and flathead screwdrivers. I've got no idea what on a bike takes a flathead screw, but I've had some 2.5mm adjustment bolts on random bits that frustrated me when all I had was a 2 and a 3! Realistically, 90% of fasteners on a modern bicycle are 4, 5, or 6mm.

Woodsie 8

Woodsie 10

Woodsie 11

The Woodsie 10 adds an 8mm hex wrench and a t-25 torx. If you've got a SRAM / Truvativ GXP crank, let me tell you from personal experience -- keep an 8mm wrench on you at all times. That single crankbolt is the key to the whole system. If it works its way loose on a harsh ride, you'll irreparably damage your crankset. As for the T-25 torx wrench, this roadie isn't sure where it's useful, since those Shimano chainring bolts need a T30.

Really, though, you should pay the extra couple clams for the 11-function tool, which adds a chain breaker. If you ever hopelessly garble your chain, this plus a Wipperman or SRAM masterlink will get you back on the road full speed, without resorting to the walk of shame in your cycling cleats! It's actually a fairly useful chaintool for a pocket one, with a flip-out lever to give you the extra torque you need for a feisty, gunky chain.

Some super fancypants multitools give you knives, pliers, and kitchen sinks, but, really, this is what you need without what you don't. Except the wood panels -- those are just neat.

One quick word to the wise -- refolding that chain tool is a bit of an origami game. I get best results opening the hex wrenches, folding the chain tool first, and then refolding the whole deal. The extra-leverage arm for the chain tool is curved to fit snugly against the rest of the tools.

Review and write up by: Tyler Stetson

Friday, May 15, 2009


May is bike to work month and here at Raleigh America Inc many of the employees take part in the event… many commute by bike year round. Here are their stories.
(Feel free to email your daily bike commute)

The image above is of the Raleigh and Diamondback tents that were set up right outside on the trail. We handed out coffee, snack bars, juice, bottles and CubeRider lights that were donated from Sigma. There were many cyclists who stopped by and talked it up.

Tyler Stetson – CSR – Average Round Trip 65 miles!!!
I’ve always heard that roads were initially paved for cyclists, and that the cars latched on later. Riding in Tacoma, this starts makes sense. In the past two months, I’ve broken two spokes, two fenders, a water bottle cage, and ten flat tires. The as-yet unbroken record is that I’ve never been stranded and needed to call for a ride. I’ve carpooled in a few days, though, and when I’m sitting in crowded traffic on the freeway, looking about at the fleets of cars, tapping my toes on the floorboards, I find myself looking down off the highway at the trees, wishing I were out there pedaling. The rain can even be comforting, though I’d be a lot happier if I figured out a magic trick to keep my fingers warm and dry through it all. If you find it, let me know.

Paul Giarratano - National Brands Product Manager – 3 time winner of Drive your bike to work day
It’s all about the size of my shoe…. I live only 3.25 miles from the Raleigh mothership, and both my house and the office are located right next to the trail. It’s a quick and easy commute by bike, assuming the weather is nice – maybe 15 minutes at a leisurely pace, or 10 minutes if I really speed it up. But even with living so close, driving isn’t the worst option in the world. In fact, since I live closer to the office than anyone else here, I have the smallest carbon footprint of any car commuter, so if anyone should be driving to work – shouldn’t it be me?

Karl Kunningham CSR – Voted 2nd Funniest guy on the Raleigh phones (Jay Roberts jokes are untouchable)
Whenever I turn over and hit my alarm clock at 4:55 in the morning it means one of two things:

1. I am going fishing, or

2. I am riding my bike to work.

This particular morning, just happens to be one of the cold wet mornings that I ride the 56 odd miles in to and from work.

Often I am faced with the question: Why do you ride your bike to work so far away? To answer the question, I have a few standard answers; it is good for the environment, saves money on gas, helps my fitness, gets me a tax benefit, and keeps me from sitting in morning traffic. Of course all of those are true and truthfully, they are all part of the reason I ride in to work. The number one reason that I ride in to work is because I love riding my bicycle. Simple. I like the way it makes me feel—even if it means getting up at 4:55 in the morning.

(Only photo we have of Jackie)

Jackie Irvin - CSR Asst. Manager - Bike to Work Day 2009
Yeah, I rode in today …
This morning I got up at 5:16, got ready, racked my bike on my car and drove 20 minutes to meet my co-worker Jay for a 5 mile bicycle ride to work. The temperature was 45, the sky blue and sunny. As we pedaled along the Interurban trail, we saw lots of people out riding as well. How great is that! We stopped at the Raleigh & Diamondback tents along the way to say hi to the gang. Got to work and was treated to a grand breakfast provided by Raleigh. Good ride, good company, good food, great day!

Jay RobertsCSR – The man who knows everybody
I took the 5 mile ROUTE as a DETOUR to Raleigh with Jackie during the RUSH HOUR. We also VENTUREd to get home at an early time.

Garrrrrrrry NoldCSR – Man of few words.
“Garry went one way on his One-Way.”

Rod EasterbyPurchasing P&A Manager – Man of many words
Began riding in with more regularity March of 2008. Mike Brown (Diamondback product manager) laid down the Ridetime Challenge to all of us to spend more time enjoying our Raleigh and Diamondback bikes. That prompted bit more concerted effort to ride into work often. Family schedule at that time dictated I would only get certain days in week to ride, so was doing the full 26.5 miles from the outer suburbs into the Raleigh offices. Often riding home in p.m--leaving car at work--then riding back in the a.m. after hearty meals and good night’s sleep. That split also kept the riding time to more like 1.5 hours those days vs. bit over 3 hours.
June of 2008 started getting free to ride virtually every day, and took advantage. As traffic volumes build when going from Pierce County into King County getting closer to Seattle/Bellevue, I am fortunate to have easy access to the InterUrban trail, that runs parallel to my highway route, just a few blocks away. Enables me to pull off to any exit when things stall and I get that sneaking suspicion that “I could RIDE faster than this!” Trailheads at 13, 11.75 and 7.5 miles give me options. Most typically, 10.5 miles from the mall to office is my primary 1-way distance. 10.5 x 2 at five days per week is solid 100+ miles and feels pretty good on the legs. 30-40 minutes of riding isn’t something I need to fret about energy level or cold weather issues much at all. (Although will admit, when your water bottle freezes on way into work, as it did often this winter, you realize it’s pretty chilly out.)
I believe the most important aspect of diligent commuting via bike is to have mindset you’re doing it unless you have something specific you must do after work that requires a vehicle. Don’t declare you’ll do it when…….weather is dry, and not too cool, and you can get good night’s sleep day before, and remember to leave clothes at office, etc., etc. Might as well wait for Haley’s comet to arrive early if you want everything to align that perfectly on a regular basis! Think of the bike as your primary mode and what you plan on using daily barring special circumstances; not considering the occasional bike trip as ‘special’. Personally, my habit for years has been to cycle, stationary bike or run nearly every day upon awakening. Might as well ‘cover some ground’ during that effort and propel self onto the job.
We’re all very thankful to have employer such as Raleigh America with provisions for indoor bike storage, work benches and of course a locker room with showers. The support and encouragement of great employer is invaluable in making bike commuting much more hassle-free.

Trevor Knesal - Diamondback Marketing Coordinator - The Man!!

Typically when I “ride to work”, I ride in a train 25 miles, then backtrack 2.5 on my bike. So to be honest; I’ve only ridden all the way in about 8 times in the 9.5 years I’ve been here. The pedaling to fun ratio is just too high to keep me very interested in that much pavement pedaling. I don’t mind pedaling, but there’s got to be a payoff at some point and ideally in the form of hitting some fun stuff (like kickers) along the way.

Ideally I scramble out my door in time to not only cross the tracks, but also to buy a ticket before I board the train. I live about 300 yards from the station, so it isn’t much of a ride there (about 300 yards), but I still find myself running a little later than I’d like to be on many mornings. I love the area I live in, but it is the wrong side of the tracks for showing up late. There’s nothing worse than seeing the train crossing the street before I cross the tracks to board it on the other side. I have thrown caution (and good judgment) to the wind a couple times and ducked in behind the train (and under the well-lit and reflective crossing gates) after its gone by, but that’s no way to live (not for very long anyway). I’m careful to look both ways and on both tracks, but the conductor still frowns on that kind of thing and understandably so. His program gets a bad rap every time they have to scrape a body off of the tracks (even though a train should never be blamed for using its tracks nor expected to stop quickly).

On to less morbid thoughts. Riding on the train is very nice, both in the morning and in the evening. It’s very relaxing and it’s nice to look out the windows and sometimes to talk with fellow passengers. I say sometimes because many of the people on the train are no different than many of the people on the roads in cars in that they think you are an inferior species because you ride a bike. They make mean faces and act like you’re in their way – even when you’re definitely not. They have a certain elitist kind of attitude toward you because you don’t commute and recreate with the same exact approach that they use. I guess they’re ironically pretty similar to a lot of people that I see road riding. I like the train, but because it is so expensive; it’s a real luxury and I don’t end up using it as often as I’d like to. I get off of the train in Tukwila which is the stop before Seattle, so I have to thread my bike and body through the people who are in my way standing in the doorway to be in better position to win the race up the stairs when the train arrives in Seattle.

I like to take my BMX bike on the train and on my commute. It’s not only easier to thread through the self-centered and inconsiderate people standing in the train’s doorways, but it’s a lot of fun to ride. Since a recent wrist injury, I’ve been riding the Diamondback Assault that I recently completed. The thing is sweet and is a very good time to ride around on. Lots of gears for great acceleration off of the line and top end too and still similar enough to a BMX bike that it is very fun to ride. It’s all bike path between the train station in Tukwila and the office, with the exception of a short ride up a sidewalk to get on the bike path that goes right past this office. Even though it’s only 2.5 miles; it’s a good time and I consider it to be an ideal distance that allows me to get my blood flowing in the morning, but not to the point that I show up a stinking and sweaty mess.

Most of my rides up and down the path are pretty uneventful, but once in a while I’ll veer off of it far enough to hit kickers and have fun. The most enjoyable ride I’ve had out there by far took place last summer when I reeled in and passed a couple in their early to mid 30’s who were fully kitted up and riding super expensive road bikes. This was super fun for me because I was not only riding a BMX bike but also rolling a mountain bike beside me that I was delivering to a friend at home. I laughed, but I made sure not to until I got far enough ahead of them that they couldn’t hear me.

I’m humored by many things I see on my commute and along the bike path; from the rabbits that insist on crossing the path in front of you (instead of safely waiting for you to go by and crossing behind you), to the variety of greetings and non greetings you see from the other path users. It’s all pretty interesting and entertaining stuff if you step back a few paces to take a look at it.

What’s my point? Riding bikes and not having to rely on cars (or sit in traffic) is a lot of fun!

Thanks for joining me, Trevor

Picture caption: This is my Assault. It looks to be in the way in this shot, but the train was boarding from the other side.

Send me your commute and i'll post it for you.