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Weer Fietsen in Nederland

My Ritchey Break-Away came with me on a trip to Cuba.  Unfortunately I didn’t do any riding in Cuba.  My bike stayed in its case in La Habana while the group I was with explored Cuba by van.  About 1,800kms / 1,100mi over nine days.

I saw a lot of Cubans on bicycles, especially in towns outside La Habana.  Some towns have pedal powered taxis.


A number of visitors were on touring bikes, especially on the south coast around Trinidad.  And we drove past these guys on road bikes in La Habana one evening.


I brought my bike with me because my biker chick and I had a stopover in Den Haag on the way home.  My bike was out of its case and I was on the fietspaden (bike paths) the day after we arrived in the Netherlands.  It was so nice to be back in the dunes.


It was not so nice to be back in the wind.


Welkom in Nederland!

The group I cycled with when I lived in Den Haag, the Not Possibles, is still going strong.  I joined them for their regular Saturday ride.

I say “joined.”  In reality I got dropped within the first five kilometers of leaving DAKA Leidschendam.  I blamed it on the flu bug I picked up in Cuba.

Fortunately Jeff was kind enough to ride with me as I sniffled and coughed my way around the Zoeterwoude-Rijndijk to Hazwerswoude to Kruisweg to Leidschenveen loop, and back to the Coffee Club in Leidschendam.

It was nice to see old friends, and to meet new ones, over a coffee or two.

I rode six more times.  Alone, or with Jeff, or with David and Jeff, and one more time with the Not Possibles.  By that second ride with the Not Possibles I had flushed most of the flu bug out of my system.  I can honestly say that I rode “with” them that day.

What a great place for cycling the Netherlands is.  There are bike paths like this one to explore.


The countryside is lovely.



And of course there is this to look forward to . . .


Now if the Dutch could find a way to eliminate getting something like this in your tyre, the Netherlands would be absolutely fantastic for cycling :).


That puncture was a small price to pay for a wonderful week on my bike.  This is what I will remember.



Down Under


My eldest son Arif graduated last December with a Masters in Architecture.  Attending his graduation was a high point of 2013.  Naturally my Ritchey Break-Away made the trip with me to Melbourne.

I have read a lot about the social cycling scene in Melbourne.  Much of it on the always-excellent Cycling Tips blog.  So I was keen to experience it.

I managed to ride every day I was in Melbourne.  The first was on the day I arrived.  I assembled the Ritchey and went on a very short ride along Beaconsfield Parade from Albert Park to the St. Kilda Pier.  I rode along the bike paths that are separated from the roads.

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

I rode along the pier up to the St. Kilda Pavilion.  The kiosk sits at the end of the pier, more than 400 meters from the shore.  The kiosk was destroyed in an arson attack in 2003.  Thankfully it was reconstructed to the original 1903 plans, utilising some of the salvaged components, such as the cast iron roof, decorative cresting and weather vane.  The kiosk was reopened in 2006.

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

I went further afield the next day, still sticking to the bike paths that wind beside the beach.  I was just south of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club when I turned around.  I had to get back to Albert Park in time for dinner with my hosts Nico and Jules.

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

It was a particularly windy day, and the kite boarders were out in force.

Photo courtesy of Luster Lai

Photo courtesy of Luster Lai

I soon learned that cyclists out for some fresh air and the view use the bike paths.  If you wear Lycra you use the bike lanes on the roads.  Safety is one consideration.  The bike paths are also used by walkers, joggers, and skate boarders.  So riding at anything more than a gentle pace on a the bike paths would be dangerous.  Another consideration is the difference in surfaces.  The bike paths are made from a variety of materials.  Concrete blocks and slabs, wood planks, and asphalt of varying quality.  The bike lanes offer a smoother and, more to tyne point, faster surface for cyclists.

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

The ride of the week was with Arif.  We covered 50 km or so on the road to Rickett’s Point and back to Arif’s apartment in central Melbourne.  We stopped on the outward leg for a very nice breakfast at the Brown Cow Cafe in Hampton.  Early birds get the bike racks.

Melbourne 04 Eat and be Merry

Arif and I didn’t pick the best day for a longish bike ride.

Melbourne 03

The heat made the ride back to central Melbourne a challenge.  This stop to refill our bottles was at the Foreshore Reserve.  I am not sure if Arif is smiling or grimacing.

Melbourne 02

There were lots of people on the beach, despite it being by far the hottest day of the week.  I can’t imagine that it was any cooler inside these cabañas.

Melbourne 01

My long solo ride was on day four, to Chelsea.  That ride also included a food and coffee stop at the Brown Cow.

Melbourne Route

The views along the east bay are spectacular.  Especially in cooler weather!

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

I had one last ride on day five.  You guessed it.  To the Brown Cow in Hampton for a coffee, and back.  It was a Saturday.  So I had lots of other cyclists for company.

Cycling in Melbourne was a treat.  The infrastructure is generally excellent.  There are lots of places to stop for a drink and a bite.  Including the BP station near St. Kilda Marina, where Arif and I took advantage of the air-conditioning on that 38° C day.

My Ritchey Break-Away is coming with me again the next time I visit Melbourne.

Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti / Carbon Review

Ritchey Breakaway Ti

I have had my Ritchey Break-Away for exactly two months.  We have done fifteen rides together.  I do try to be fair and alternate between my three bikes.  Although by default any rides that involve significant travel will now be on the Ritchey.  We covered 1,025 km / 635 mi.  There has been about 7,100 meters / 23,300 feet of climbing.

My other bikes are a steel framed Alchemy with carbon chain stays and fork, and a titanium framed Alchemy with carbon seat stays, chain stays and fork.  The Alchemys have identical geometries.  The Ritchey has a 56cm frame.  The tube lengths and angles of the Ritchey are as close to those of the Alchemys as dammit is to swearing.  All have SRAM group sets.  All have Ritchey carbon seat posts and cockpits.  All have Easton EA90 SLX wheels.  I like the tried and tested!

I include all that detail as a prelude to describing the differences between these bikes.  In the hope that it heads off a potential firestorm amongst all you aficionados out there around the relative virtues of steel versus titanium as a bike frame material, and the effect of tire choice, frame geometry, tube size etc. etc. on the ride quality of said bike frame materials.

The only differences that I can discern between the two Alchemys are that the titanium bike has a more ‘damped’ feel to it, and the steel bike has more flex.  A little less road chatter gets transmitted through the titanium frame.  I am no road racer but I can make the steel frame flex under pedaling load.  Not so with the titanium Alchemy.

I love the ride quality of my Alchemys.  They are very comfortable, even on the chip sealed back roads of Texas.

I love the ride quality of the Ritchey Break-Away too.  I don’t feel a difference between the titanium Alchemy and the Break-Away.  Logic tells me the Break-Away should not be as stiff as the Alchemy.  After all the Ritchey frame is in two pieces, connected at the seat tube / top tube junction and just in front of the bottom bracket.  Perhaps my senses are not tuned enough to pick up the difference.

That probably is part of the answer.  If I tested bicycles for a living my senses would be developed enough to feel some differences.  I think another part of the answer is in how well the Ritchey design eliminates flexing at the joints.

The top tube and seat tube are held in alignment by the seat post.  One bolt above the seam between the tubes and another bolt below the seam lock the tubes together.  What looks like a connection between the lower bolt and the top tube in the photograph below is actually a bracket welded to the lower bolt housing.  That bracket holds the rear brake housing stop slightly away from the top tube.

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

The down tube is split just ahead of the bottom bracket.  The end of the down tube has a neck that slides into the fitting at the bottom bracket.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A hinged compression clamp fits over the lips or flanges on either edge of the joint and holds the two parts of the down tube together.  The two derailleur cable couplers are visible below the down tube.

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

This simple design uses just three bolts tightened to 4Nm to hold the front and rear triangles together.  Very securely I might add.  Nothing worked itself loose during my rides.  The bike tracked as expected.  There were no vibrations or unexpected wobbles.  Even at better than 65 kph / 40 mph down the relatively straight Smithville Hill during the BP MS150, and close to that on the switchback descent from Genting Sempah.

Top marks for the Ritchey Break-Away as an excellent bike to ride.

That brings me to the differentiating characteristic of this bike.  The ability to fit into a case that meets airline size specifications for checked luggage.  66 x 66 x 25.5 cm / 26 x 26 x 10 in.  The staff at the check-in counters at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Denver International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New York City didn’t bat an eyelid when I put the case holding the Ritchey onto the weighing scales.  They tagged the case and sent it on its way without a second glance.

Speaking of weight, bike and case weigh 15 kg / 33 lb.  Well within the limit of 23 kg / 50 lb for a checked bag in economy class.

I opted for the S&S Edge Pull Butterfly Latch Hard Case.  I recommend it over the Ritchey soft case, which is universally panned in all the reviews I have read.  The hard case weighs more, but the added durability and protection is worth that extra kilo or two.

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

I recommend a set of compression members to keep external pressure from pushing the sides of the case into the packed bicycle.  These are strong enough to stop the side bowing inward under the weight of a person standing on the case.

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

I also like the TSA security net.  The net keeps the frame, wheels, compression members and whatever else you have packed together if a TSA inspector opens the lid of the case.

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

Photo courtesy of S&S Machine

Packing the bike takes some practice.  There are a number of suggested ways to fit all the pieces into the case.  Ritchey includes an instruction sheet with the bike.  Ritchey also has step-by-step videos on their website.

I tried a variety of packing methods.  I prefer the S&S packing sequence, which is actually for an S&S coupled bike, but works very well for the Ritchey Breakaway too.  The first time it took quite a while to wrap all the tubes in the supplied pads, and to get all the pieces properly aligned in the case so that the lid would close.  The tricky bit was getting the handlebars into the case, and lining up the front wheel such that things like the bottom bracket fit between the spokes.  I get better at it each time I do it.

The Break-Away came through two domestic flights in the USA and one intercontinental flight from the USA to Asia via Europe unscathed.  Reassembly after each flight was straightforward and the bike was ready to ride right out of the case.

I have had one road trip.  Knowing that the case would not be subjected to any abuse, I didn’t use any of the supplied tube wraps, and I didn’t bother with the compression members and security net..  I also left the crank in the bottom bracket and the rear derailleur attached to the hanger.  That made packing simpler.  The bike was none the worse for it either.

A big help was the shorter steerer tube.  As delivered the steerer tube made the fork too long to fit flush against the edge of the case.  Which put the rest of the front triangle in the way of some of the other parts.  I had the steerer tube cut down.  Everything fits in the case much better now.

On road trips I can get away without any padding because the titanium frame is unpainted.  One of the few complaints about the painted steel frame is that it scuffs, scratches and chips easily.

Top marks for the Ritchey Break-Away as a bike that packs easily into an airline-friendly case.

I am delighted with my Ritchey Break-Away.  There is nothing about it that I am unhappy with.  It says a lot about the clever design and ride quality of this frame that the only weakness other reviewers have found with this bike is that the cable couplers sometimes rattle against the down tube on rough roads.

If you want a travel road bike that doesn’t compromise performance, the Ritchey Break-Away is for you.  Just be sure to get a hard case to go with it.

Team 165 at the Kuantan Century Ride 2013

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Keat, Hans and I were in the state of Pahang over the weekend for the Kuantan Century Ride.  I named us Team 165, which is the sum of our ages.  For the mathematically inclined amongst you, I am a year older than Hans and a year younger than Keat.

Kuantan Century 2013 Promo

The sun in the promotional banner turned out to be a hint of things to come.

I took my traveling bike with me.  The Ritchey Break-Away.  The bike case and two other bags fit nicely in the trunk of my biker chick’s car.

Kuantan Century 2013 Ritchey

We spent the weekend at the Swiss Garden Resort.  Keat’s wife convinced the management to let us have breakfast at 5.30am on the day of the ride.  The coffee house normally opens at 6.30am.  We were expecting a few slices of bread and some butter and jam.  We were pleasantly surprised by the spread that the staff had laid out.

Kuantan Century 2013 Breakfast

Our hotel was about 18km / 11mi from the start at the International Islamic University Malaysia.  We discussed riding to the start but decided against it.  We would have been riding in the dark along a busy road.  Even less appealing was the thought of having to cycle back to the hotel after a long event.  So we loaded our bikes into Keat’s pickup truck and drove to the start.

Some 2,000 people had registered for the event.  It looked like most of them turned up on the day.

Kuantan Century 2013 Start Queue

As is always the case at cycling events in Malaysia, all types of bicycles were represented.  These guys were braver than I to attempt 160km on knobby-tired mountain bikes.

Kuantan Century 2013 MTBs

Here we are at the start in our “before” photograph.

Photo courtesy of Kuantan Century Ride

Photo courtesy of Kuantan Century Ride

The organizers impressed everyone by managing to start the event bang on time at 7.30am.  We even had a two minute warning.  We were led out by a string of police motorbikes.  The police and marshals did a good job of controlling traffic at intersections to allow us to cycle through without having to stop.

Kuantan Century 2013 Police Bike

A fleet of road crew on motorbikes and in cars and trucks, and an army of volunteers at the start/finish line and rest stops, made this a very well organized and supported event.

The route took us through Kuantan town and south along the coast for the first 40km / 25mi.  After the first rest stop we headed inland for a bit before turning right onto Federal Route 3.  The next 80km / 50mi were north or north-east into the state of Terengganu before heading east toward the coast at Cherating.

Kuantan Century 2013 Route

That stretch included the second rest stop at the 83 km / 51.5mi mark.  By then the sun was out in full force.  It got to 34°C / 93°F.  With the humidity at 90% the heat index was about 40°C / 104°F.  I was emptying my two bidons in double-quick time.  The good news was we got to the second rest stop just in time to grab the last of the water.  The heat made the demand for water far greater than the organizers had anticipated.  The riders after us had to wait for stocks to be replenished.

Kuantan Century 2013 Rest Stop

The bad news was all the 750 meters / 2,460 feet of climbing came in the second half of the course.  Mercifully there was another rest stop just after the big hill of the day.  There was still plenty of water at that rest stop.

From that point the heat became more and more of a factor.  The descent after the third rest stop took us to the Gebeng Bypass.  We had an out-and-back along the highway.  The 28km / 17.5 mi along that stretch of rolling highway seemed interminable.  The sun was beating down and the headwind on the outward leg made it even more unpleasant.  The sight of the final rest stop on the other side of the highway with the turnaround point still 3km / 1.8mi away was the final straw for some riders.  They chose to skip the electronic checkpoint at the end of the bypass and cut across the highway to the rest stop.

I was hyperthermic and was sorely tempted to take a shortcut as well.  I persevered but it was a very close call at the time.  So I was not happy to finally get to the rest stop only to find that all the water was gone.  Fortunately they had lots of ice.  I tossed my last  Nuun tablet into one bidon and filled both with ice cubes.  More water was on the way but I was too hot to wait.

Hans, and that ice, saved my ride.  Han pulled me the last 28km / 17.4mi.  I was chewing on ice cubes all the way to the finish, desperate to stay cool enough and cramp-free to make it to the end.  This is Hans at the finish.

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

I was happy to be just behind Hans.

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

At the halfway point Keat had told us to push on without him.  The heat got to him even before it got to me.  So it was great to see Keat smiling at the finish.

Kuantan Century 2013 Keat Finish

Can you spot the difference between this “after” photograph and the one of us at the start?

Photo courtesy of Wai Leng Mann

Photo courtesy of Wai Leng Mann

Apart from having these in our literally hot hands.

Kuantan Century 2013 Medal

Team 165 is already talking about doing a 120km / 74.5mi ride in the southern state of Johor next month.  Hopefully by then I will have figured out how to keep my  core temperature in check.

2013 BP MS150 Day One

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BP MS150 2013

The lead up to this year’s BP MS150 ride from Houston to Austin was faultless.  Barbara collected my rider pack and Hess jersey for me.  Malaysian Airlines and KLM got me to George Bush Intercontinental Airport as scheduled.  Tom and Donna were waiting outside Arrivals for me.  The Omni Houston Hotel at Westside had my room ready.  Most importantly Fedex had delivered my Ritchey Break-Away bicycle to the hotel.

The first thing to do was to put the bicycle together.  My bike came with a Ritchey torque key that fits the 4mm bolts on their bars and stems, as well as the bolt on the hinged clamp that anchors the flanged joint on the down tube.  Steve Dodds at Bicycle Doctor USA had told me to pack an 8mm Allen key to install the crank with.  I also packed 6mm and 5mm Allen keys for the seat post and saddle mounting bolts.  Four Allen keys and a pump were all I needed to get the Break-Away ready to ride.

The plan was to do the Thursday evening ride with the West End 6.30 group.  That would have been the perfect shakedown ride for my brand-new bike, if not for the rain that afternoon.  Instead Tom and I made do with a quick 8km / 5mi loop around Memorial Park on Friday.  If that short spin was anything to go by, the Ritchey Break-Away was going to serve me very well.  The ride quality was everything I expected from a titanium frame.  The SRAM Force group set shifted precisely.  The brakes had good modulation and stopping power.  I didn’t expect problems during the ride to Austin but we stopped at West End Bicycles to get the bike inspected anyway.  It is worth getting an official inspection sticker.  If I did have a problem during the ride I would receive free labor for repairs.

The weather when I arrived on Thursday was unusually cool.  When we started the ride from the hotel at 6.30am on Saturday morning it was unseasonably cold.  It was 4°C / 39°F.  That was a record low temperature for April 20th.  The previous low was 6°C /44°F set in 1901.

Needless to say in my group I was probably the least appropriately dressed for the temperature.  I was riding with Barbara, Laura, Dane, Joe, Skip and Tom.  Everyone was cold, but I was chilled.  It had warmed up by the time we got to the lunch stop at Belleville, but not enough for me to take my jacket off.  Barbara and Dane kept their arm warmers on, unlike  Laura and Skip.

BP MS150 2013 Bellville Group

Relatively normal temperatures for the time of year were restored by the time we got to the stop at Industry.  West End Bicycles was operating their customary service stand there.  Complete with yummy snacks.  There was time for a post-cookie fist bump with Tom before we hit the road again.

BP MS150 2013 Industry West End 02

Fayetteville is always a treat to ride through.  The residents come out in force to cheer the riders on.  And ring bells and blow whistles and generally carry on.

BP MS150 2013 Fayetteville Welcome 01

We had an additional treat in store for us at Fayetteville this year.  Skip knows a lady who runs an antique store out of a converted gas station.

BP MS150 2013 Antique Shop

For MS150 day she bakes all sorts of cakes and cookies which she lays out for anyone who wants some.  Not everyone knows about this though.  So hooray for Skip and his insider knowledge!

BP MS150 2013 Fayetteville Munchies

We had about 30 km / 18.5 mi to go to La Grange.  Dane headed out ahead of the rest of us.  His plan was to get to the VFW Hall early enough to reserve prime sleeping spots for us all.  We wanted a row of six camp beds near a wall socket.  We all had electronics that needed recharging.  We didn’t get the row we had hoped for, but we were near a coveted wall socket.  This is Tom watching Dane get sorted out after their turns in the private shower truck that Hess provides for its team.

BP MS150 2013 VFW Hall

This year the Hess bar featured recovery drinks made to order.  Just the ticket after a hot shower and before a massage.

BP MS150 2013 La Grange Recovery Drinks

We are all spoiled by the excellent support that Hess provides to its riders.  Air-conditioning, private showers, indoor toilets, an open bar, ear plugs in case the snoring gets too loud.  I’m not sure how we managed when we rode with other teams and had to endure conditions like this.

BP MS150 2013 Life on the other side of the tracks

Tom, Skip, “Sideshow” Dane and I went for a wander around the Fayette County Fairgrounds to stretch our legs before dinner.

BP MS150 2013 Dane 'Sideshow Bob' Schiller

We had ridden 160 km / 100 mi.  That made it my longest Day One in the three times I have ridden the BP MS150.  I was still a bit jet-lagged and very ready to call it a day as soon as I had finished my dinner.  Day Two wasn’t far away.

The National MS Society is still accepting donations linked to this ride.  The society is depending upon your generosity to raise as much as possible to put toward the search for a cure for multiple sclerosis.  Please click on the link below to make a donation to this worthy cause.

Donate to Multiple Sclerosis Research and Treatment

Now There Are Three

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What is the correct number of bikes to own?

Courtesy of Kickstand Comics by Rick Smith and Brian Griggs

Courtesy of Rick Smith and Brian Griggs at

I’ve seen a third variation:  S – 1, where S is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

While I do not intend to discover the value of S where my biker chick is concerned, I can report that in her case S > 3.  I took delivery of bicycle number 3 last month. And my biker chick and I are still a happy unit.

Thoughts of a new bike started percolating in my mind as I planned a trip to the USA to ride in the BP MS150 from Houston to Austin, and the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour in New York City.  My friend Keat and I had discussed the travails of flying with a bicycle.  Airlines charge between USD 100 and USD 150 to transport bicycles.  Despite the additional fee, there is the ever-present danger of damage in transit – see United Breaks Guitars.

One way to avoid the additional fee and to mitigate the risk of damage in transit is to have a bike that can be disassembled and packed securely in a case which meets airline size restrictions.  Keat owns such a bike.  A Ritchey Break-Away travel bike.  He showed me the bike in its case, then assembled the bike and let me try it out.

I now own a Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti / Carbon travel bike.

Ritchey Breakaway Ti

Ritchey has designed an elegant coupling system for their travel bikes.  The two halves of the frame are held together by three bolts and a hinged clamp.  Two bolts secure the top tube and the seat tube to the seat post.  The seam between the top tube and the seat tube is visible below.  Also visible below the top tube is a cable splitter.  In this case for the rear brake cable.  The two halves of the splitter screw together to join the cable.

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

A flanged interface between the bottom bracket and the down tube is secured by a hinged clamp.  One bolt holds the clamp in place.

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

Photo courtesy of Jon Sharp at

Also visible in the photograph above are the two other cable splitters.  The frame can be broken down into two halves in a matter of a minute.  Admittedly it does take more than loosening three bolts and three cable splitters to get the bike into its case.  I opted for an S&S Butterfly Latch hard case rather than the Ritchey soft case.  The dimensions of the case are 66cm x 66cm x 25cm / 26″ x 26″ x 10″.  The total length plus width plus height equals the airline standard maximum size for checked luggage.

In practical terms the case is just large enough to fit a 700c wheel.  It doesn’t look possible in this photograph, but with no air in the tire the wheel squeezes in.

S&S Hard Case

The first time I tried to get all the bike parts into the case it took me about forty five minutes.  With the help of ‘how-to’ videos and PDFs.  I have packed the bike three times now.  The third time was no faster, but I don’t need the visual aids anymore.

The easy step is separating the bars from the stem, removing the front brake from the fork, releasing the wheels, taking off the pedals and cranks, and unbolting the rear derailleur from the derailleur hanger.

The next step is to prepare everything for packing.  All the tubes and the fork go into the supplied wraparound covers.  There is an elastic strap that goes over the large chainring teeth, and a cover  for the chainrings.  Hub axle caps for the wheels and dropout spacers are also included.  The rear derailleur gets bubble wrapped.  I bought velcro cable ties to secure cables to the bars and the chain to the chain stay.

The final step is to fit everything into the case.  I prefer the S&S method to the Ritchey method.  The front triangle and fork go in to the case first.  The rear wheel is next.  Then comes the rear triangle.  The saddle, bars and crankset slide through and between the triangles and wheels.  Finally the front wheel goes on top.  There is enough space around and between the parts of the bike for shoes, tools, bottles and clothes.  It took a few attempts to position everything so that the case would close.  Here I am tightening everything down, ready for my first trip with the bike, from Houston to Denver.

The white disks and upright pipes are compression members.  Pressure is kept away from the packed bicycle by transferring loads from one side of the case to the other side through the plastic pipes which are held in place by plastic disks on either end.  The compression members work so well that I can stand on the case without deforming the sides of the case.

Photo courtesy of Azie Azizuddin

Photo courtesy of Azie Azizuddin

I ordered my Ritchey frame online from Bicycle Doctor USA.  This shop came up on Google as one of the larger Ritchey dealers around.  I emailed an enquiry about the availability of a Break-Away to Bicycle Doctor USA and two other shops.  Steve Dodds of Bicycle Doctor responded within three hours.  I didn’t hear from the other two places.

Steve and his son Eric have received many positive reviews and comments.  Those allayed some of my concerns about conducting what to me was a large transaction over the internet.  A telephone conversation with Steve put any other worries I had to rest.  Steve is easy to work with.  I get the feeling that Eric and he run a busy shop.  Despite that I always received prompt replies to my queries.  So it didn’t take long to decide to on the build kit for my chosen frame.  Steve kept me updated on the progress of the build, and sent me some photos as well.

As planned the built-up bike was delivered to my hotel in Houston a few days before I arrived there for the BP MS150.  Everything was as discussed and ordered.  Steve even emailed some hints and tips for assembling and packing the bike.  The first thing I did after checking in to the hotel was to put the bike together.  While taking photos of each step of the unpacking process (one of Steve’s great tips).

I couldn’t wait to go on a test ride.  Which is the subject of a post to come.