Happy birthday, Boulder Brevet!

It’s been over a year now since my Boulder Brevet frame arrived. Since that time I’ve built it up, changed a few things, changed a few more things, and stopped keeping track of the miles after I passed the 6K milestone sometime last summer. If I wasn’t so terribly lazy I would do a simple search of this blog to see the exact date that rubber hit the road – but there you have it: it’s far easier for me to admit I’d rather just type these words out than go to the trouble of researching the actual facts.

And because it’s much more convenient for me to recite my impressions of such things, I’ll begin with today’s ride, which was windy beyond reckoning. I watched as a plastic Porta-Potty blew over as I passed by a park. Not content at merely knocking the Johnny-on-the-Spot on its side, Mother Nature then proceeded to shove the mess across the parking lot. I’ve seldom felt as though the wind would stop me in my tracks, stand me up, and flip me back in the direction from which I’d come the way I did today. This was especially true as I found myself trudging directly into the wind for about ten miles: pedaling interminably in low gear and moving so slowly I felt as though I was climbing a stiff incline – when in fact I was on perfectly flat ground the entire way.

The crawl up Bluff Road starts out benignly enough. The distance itself isn’t great either – perhaps a mile or less – but one suddenly finds oneself pedaling furiously as the latter section of the climb suddenly grows exceedingly steep. I am usually a bit carefree about this climb; it gets my heart pumping and my lungs feel the burn. But today I was nearly spent after the slow miles of blustery wind. I stopped for a few minutes to snap a couple of pictures before heading uphill.

And it’s at this point I want to share a few impressions. We got a pretty good rain last night and despite the wind the roads are wet and there are large puddles across the road. I’ve always liked to sport fenders on my bikes when it’s appropriate to do so. I’ve had Velo-Orange aluminum fenders installed on my Boulder Brevet from the start. After a bit of fine tuning I eventually got the fender line where I wanted it, got things snugged down and all rattles eliminated – and most importantly, I’ve kept the road crud off of the bike frame, my feet, and my back for the past twelve months. Nice.

I like VO’s product line, which is probably apparent from looking at my bike. Front and rear racks, stem, handlebars  – oh, and crankset also – this bike is as much Velo-Orange as it is Boulder. Of all the VO gear, I’ve come to really appreciate the Grand Cru Chris’s Rando Handlebars especially. Unlike typical road bars – particularly contemporary “ergonomic” bar bends – the rando bars provide me with lots and lots of variety when it comes to hand positions. For long rides this is especially important. Although I usually wear cycling gloves, I do from time to time ride barehanded as I did today. Fact of the matter is that I’ve never wound up with numb or “buzzing” hands riding these bars as I have done with others. I’m reminded of the week I spent riding the KATY Trail a few years back. Midway through the ride my hands began to tingle… no matter how I changed hand position I couldn’t make it go away. For months afterward I continued to feel that damn buzzing in my thumbs and worried that I’d done permanent damage to the nerves. As professional artist, I make my living with my hands so I’m already a bit gun shy when it comes to those very important digits. I certainly haven’t tested all the rando bars available, but I know what I like – and I really like these bars.

I’ve been using an Ozette Rando Bag by Swift for a while now and honestly wonder how I managed without it for so long. Tough, durable, functional, good looking. I carry more gear than I really need sometimes – but then again, I also carry what I need. When I jump on one of my other bikes I’m constantly trying to cram stuff into my jersey pockets and the tiny, crappy little saddle bag. And of course there’s never enough space. So I love my Ozette Rando bag. Unequivocally. Unconditionally. Understand?

Which brings me to the bike itself. I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes: fast road bikes, heavy gas pipe monsters, slow and stable touring bikes. I like the variety. I’ve never had a bike though that I wanted to ride in just about every situation… until I got the Boulder. Long rides, of course, it excels. It’s not as fast as a racing bike, or as nimble, but it’s not a slow bike either and I can usually keep up with the weekend warriors out on the road riding their plastic bikes. And like my other Waterford built frame – my 1989 Paramount – the Boulder handles wind with aplomb. Even in tough cross winds I find that I’m not swerving all over the road trying to stabilize the ride.

So happy birthday, Boulder Brevet. Regardless of the actual date you hit the road, it’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to many, many more.

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7 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Boulder Brevet!

  1. I am not a big fan of HDR photography but I do like your work. I can see the talent of the artist behind the work. The photos remind me of paintings that are somewhat surrealistic. Well done.

    On another note, Mike Kone, Boulder Bicycles, is building my next bike – a lugged built brevet with 650B tires. My current bike is built around a 1987 Miyata 1000 LT touring frame and fork. It’s a great bike for loaded touring.

    I am very familiar with your hand problem. As you may have guessed, the carpal ligament is pinching the median nerve. I had the same problem. After about 5 miles, the fingers started to “buzz”. Riding on a gravel packed bike trail was the worst. I finally opted for surgery to correct the problem in January. You may want to purchase a pair of Shock Tech cycling gloves – http://www.shocktek.com. I have two pair now and they did help reduce the problem.

    • Rod, I’m with you on the HDR imagery: I’m not a big fan of something that is clearly a “techniquey” thing. It has it’s uses though, and seems to function fine for the imagery on the blog. I have grave doubts, however, that I’d ever want to print one of those images.

      Mike was a very good guy to work with, by the way. He was knowledgable and helped me to make what turned out to be some excellent decisions. One day I may move up to a Herse, but I’m not in a hurry – the Boulder meets my needs and as it turns out is one of the few bikes I’ve owned that I can easily imagine being with me for years to come.

      Thank you for the glove suggestion. I’ve never used those particular gloves (in fact my Pearl Izumi gloves are easily five years old and have 40 or 50K on them. They are thread bare and there is almost no difference from riding barehanded at this stage of the game.)

  2. Thank you for your reply. The padding on the Shock Tech gloves forms a “tunnel” when the hand is on the handlebar ramps or brake lever hoods. This “tunnel” prevents the handlebar making contact with the median nerve. When I ordered mine, I used Shock Tech’s sizing measurements and sizing chart. In the winter, I wear a pair of Ibex wool glove liners under the Shock Tech gloves. This combination is good to 40 F.

    Rod

    • Rod, I finally got around to ordering a pair of the gloves you recommended. They arrived yesterday and I’m planning to give them a three or four hour ride this morning. Just putting them on, they feel pretty good – I’ll probably write about them soon. Thanks for the “heads up” on these gloves.

      • Rod Bruckdorfer says:

        I hope they work for you. It’s the only glove I wear when cycling.

        On another note, my Boulder Brevet is finished and ready to ship. We are riding in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure hence I delayed shipping until we arrive home. I should have the frame and fork by June 24th or 25th.

        Cheers,

        Rod

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