Powered By Physics: Finding the Right Gear

Before the advent of geared drivetrains for bicycles, the pedals and cranks were directly connected to the hub.  On these “direct-drive” bikes, one rotation of the pedals corresponded with one rotation of the drive wheel.  Accordingly, wheel size and pedaling rate alone determined a rider’s speed.  If a standard modern road bike used a direct-drive transmission, a rider pedaling at 80 revolutions per minute would travel at a speed of just 6 miles per hour. With virtually all cyclists pedaling under 100 revolutions per minute for any sustained period, the bikes required comically large wheels to achieve a reasonable speed.

Picture of a man dressed in 19th Century British suit and top hat pedaling a penny-farthing bike along the main street of a small sweedish town

A direct-drive Penny-Farthing bike. Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Velocipedist.JPG

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Posted in Mountain Biking, Powered by Physics, Road Cycling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What You Need To Know For Your First XTERRA Triathlon

In this post, I’ll share some tips on how to have a fun, fast, and safe XTERRA racing experience. If you are unfamiliar with off-road triathlons and why you might want to join in on the action in 2014, check out my introductory article here.

Picture of a steep singletrack trails in a lush green forest

Add a splash of off-road adventure to your triathlon schedule in 2014

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Healthy Living: Year-Round Bike Commuting Essentials

Photo of the author on his commuting bike. The ten numbered essential items

Ten essentials of year-round bike commuting

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Training: DC Trail Running Part II … Rock Creek Park

It’s fitting that Rock Creek Park, one of the oldest federally managed parks in the country, is situated in our nation’s capital. In the District, the park boasts 4.4 square miles of serene nature stretching from the northernmost point of DC to the Potomac River. The park is popular among hikers, bikers, horse riders, bird watchers, painters, photographers, budding scientists, and history enthusiasts. In my case however, it’s the extensive network of running trails that keeps me coming back.

Snow covered single track trail following a ridge above Rock Creek

Snow-covered Western Ridge Trail overlooking Rock Creek

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Dear Motorist

Every year in the United States, over 30,000 people are killed in collisions involving motor vehicles. This statistic is commonly compared to being the equivalent of more than ten 9/11 attacks per year, over five times the entire US military death from the War on Terror every year, and more than the annual death toll from prostate cancer. Motor vehicle related deaths are so quotidian that we have become numb to the effects especially when the victims are pedestrians or cyclists.

As a cyclist and a driver, I obey the rules of the road, signal my actions to drivers, and take great lengths to make myself highly visible on the road while on my bike. Despite all this, my life is literally in the hands of the drivers around me. While the allure of multitasking on the road may seem like an innocent action to many, over 5,000 of the annual motor vehicle related deaths are caused by distracted drivers. In my opinion, this public health crisis is exacerbated by countless court rulings that protect the perpetrators of negligent and/or reckless homicide rather than the victims and their families.

A fellow triathlete recently shared the video below by the Dear Motorist campaign on his blog. I was deeply moved by its message: “There isn’t anything that’s going to happen while you are driving that is more important than the actual act of driving.”

Please sign the pledge to share the road and drive responsibly. Ridding the roadways of distracted drivers will save thousands of lives every year.

Posted in Road Cycling | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Powered By Physics: The Science of Climbing

As a former Knowles Science Teaching Fellow, I remain committed to high quality math and science education in the United States. I’m particularly interested in math and science education that is grounded in real-life application and develops marketable skills. In my Powered by Physics series, I aim to provide content on the interplay between triathlon and science for students, educators, and triathletes alike. The series is inspired by the enlightening text Bicycling Science by David Gordon Wilson. In this post, I will focus on how an understanding of physics can help you maximize your hill climbing potential.

Standing beside my OPEN 29er on a gravel mountain road, beneath a bright partly coludy sky with views of the blue ridges of the Appalachian mountains in the background

Putting theory to practice on the hills of the VA-WV border

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Posted in Mountain Biking, Powered by Physics, Road Cycling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Training: Frederick Watershed

The off-road trails at Gambrill State Park and neighboring Frederick Watershed are the steepest, rockiest, and most technical riding within an hour drive of DC. I’ve had so much fun riding off-road in this area than I went almost a year without discovering a second biking gem within this pristine natural preserve: the access roads.

Towering slabs of flatrock layer on top of eachother, forming 30 ft tall pillars on top of a hill alongside the road

A stately rock outcropping along Mountaindale Road

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Gear Review: De Soto Sport – T1 First Wave Wetsuit

After a full season of racing with De Soto triathlon apparel and three first out of the water performances, here are my thoughts on the T1 First Wave wetsuit…

Alex with his arms straight up over his head in a streamlined position.

Great wetsuit. Unrestricted motion.

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Training: DC Trail Running… Part I


Glover Archbold Park is tranquil getaway from concrete and city noise in Northwest Washington DC. The long and narrow park runs three miles due south from Wisconsin Ave and Van Ness St to the Capital Crescent and C&O Canal trails at Canal and Foxhall Rd on the Potomac.
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Gear Review: OPEN O-1.0 Hardtail 29er

Rear view of the OPEN O-1.0 hardtail 29er, with the seatpost, saddle, handlebar, and for in view, bike is standing on a wide forest trail with ferns and pine trees lining both sides

The OPEN O-1.0 in its natural habitat

I jumped on the Cervelo bandwagon rather early in the game, buying their “Dual” aluminum tri bike in 2004.  It was by far the best value for the coin, with the best adjustability and the most confidence-inspiring geometry on the market.  Nine years later, it still works flawlessly as a tri bike and even holds its own on gravel roads and mountain passes. Last year, Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervelo, announced he was branching off to start a new company along with ex BMC CEO Andy Kessler. Together they founded OPEN, with a carbon hardtail 29er as their first offering. I knew it would be something special.

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