Archive | November 2013

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Where to eat after you’ve won the Tour of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT, 23 November 2013 – I think we all can agree bike riding is good for your appetite and there are times you need a little more wow-factor than a free-ninety-nine PBR and a burger to satisfy that primal need for sustenance after a long day in the saddle.  After all there’s a time for celebrating like the KOM you wish you were, right?  And if you’re looking for someplace to celebrate your latest podium-worthy win, I suggest you try someplace with a little more panache than your usual post-win hangout.  Why not try putting on some Ritz and head over to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in downtown SL,UT.


For the uninitiated Ruth’s Chris is a steakhouse chain that has it’s humble beginnings in NOLA about the same time I was learning to walk.  Yes, that’s a long time ago but it means this place has a history going back to when Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney first started concocting plans to take over the world.  Luckily, more rational heads prevailed as did Ruth’s little steak joint.   Used to be you’d be required to wear a jacket at Ruth’s but times have changed in this respect, as well.  Though, on one visit we noticed a gentleman wearing his best Hanes I wouldn’t suggest following his lead since you’re going to drop a Ben Franklin and a few Alexander Hamilton’s on your meal it might be nice to dress with a bit more aplomb-like on Sunday but not.

You go to Ruth’s Chris for the steaks of course  They’re big, like Texas big, a whole pound of beef flesh in one serving and you can kindly ask your server to split it at the table.  Now if I had to suggest the perfect steak to enjoy when you’re dining at this joint it would be the New York Strip, Strip or club steak (if you’re visiting from the other side of the pond).  The strip is a well-marbled piece of prime beef that comes from the short loin.  Trust me, everyone goes for the tenderloin medallions but there’s a reason they have to wrap that little baby in bacon.  Without the bacon or some other pungent accompaniment this little-used muscle doesn’t have much flavor on its own.

Usually, in most parts of the world that is, you’ll want to enjoy a little libation, and preferably a good red wine with your libra pondo of steak.   Fear not, Ruth’s has an extensive selection of some of the best wines for your dinner if you happen to lean that way.  Granted Sister Holland would divorce me quicker than a New York minute if I even picked up the wine list; but it’s fun to dream anyway.  Since hopefully you’re not planning to order a good ol’ PBR as I so thoughtlessly suggested in my introductions you will find some beautiful bottles of such notable “high end” (don’t you just love that term?!?) wines from Shafer, Hess and Caymus, among others.

Ruth’s Chis isn’t a restaurant many of us would frequent on a regular basis, but if you’re going to celebrate, this is the place.  After the valet takes your vehicle safely off your hands for the evening, and as his assistant holds the door for you welcoming you and your party into Ruth’s realm, the maître d’hôtel will take your coats and ask what you’re celebrating for the evening.  The answer to this simple question will set off a waterfall of surprises to come.  Your table will have been decorated with confetti and a congratulatory card as you and your party are escorted to your assigned table.  You’ll also enjoy learning at the end of the meal that dessert is on Ruth.  Throughout the meal, the staff will stop by asking about the reason for your good fortune as they serve and cater to your every desire.

Ruth’s Chris may not be the trendiest spot in Salt City but when a celebration calls for white tablecloths and a reason to get dressed up, it should be on your short list of places that’ll make you feel special after your big win.


TRP HYRD Brakes – The Definitive Guide – Updated

Salt Lake City, UT, 21 November 2013 – By now you’re keenly aware that I’ve had a road bike custom built by Mike DeSalvo spec’d with TRP HY/RD disc brakes.   I’ll discuss the frame, which is, as one of my LBS’s race-experienced employees said, “the most beautiful bike I’ve ever seen,” in a separate post.


This bike turns heads and I can’t wait to tell you about it.  But first, I want to discuss the brakes since I’ve been hard pressed to find any user experience information about the actual performance of these brakes aside from the usual glowing product reviews.

Tektro Racing Products (TRP) has an office in Ogden, UT where I believe much of the design work originates.  TRP make aftermarket and OEM brakes under two product lines:  Tektro which you’ve probably seen on bikes outfitted with mid-tier Shimano or SRAM component groups, and TRP the company’s after-market performance racing line.  I was first introduced to TRP brakes when I began planning my foray into buying a custom titanium road bike last year.  The buzz about disc brakes on road bikes was just beginning to build steam at the same time the rumors of Shimano and SRAM’s impending road disc brake plans were speeding over the Internet.  There’s no doubt the technology is quickly filtering to road bikes as more manufacturers introduce disc brake versions of their bicycles.  Anyone planning a build has few options for hydraulic disc brake calipers and fewer if they’re interested in mechanical shifting.

During my investigative work I happened upon the few articles that exist about TRP HY/RD, “Hight Road”, hydraulic road disc brakes and was instantly drawn to the seemingly simplicity of the design.


Let me break off to a quick tangent to discuss the name HY/RD. One of the few criticisms I have for these brakes is their name.  Using the name HY/RD in the title of this article in WordPress will be impossible because of the slash.  I’ll have to use either HY RD, HYRD, or HY-RD, none of which is correct. This I’m sure makes finding information about these brakes even more difficult for the less tech savvy among us.  I suggest TRP change the name quickly and officially to something more Internet-friendly like HYRD.

HY/RD disc brakes are the only, or perhaps one of the few, hydraulic disc brake designs I’m aware of with the hydraulic cylinder integrated into the calipers.  This makes the calipers heavier obviously, but it also eliminates the need for the shifter/brake handles to integrate the hydraulic piston at the handlebar.  There are numerous mechanical disc brake choices available as well but the advantages of hydraulics including better modulation, dual piston and self adjusting pads are worth the added weight in my opinion.


Mechanical shifting systems take up most of the space in the shifter handle so there’s little room for placement of the hydraulic fluid reservoir and piston eliminating the ability to retrofit older component groups with hydraulic disc brakes.  With newer electronic shift systems microswitches replace cable guides leaving room for the hydraulics which is how the big-three component manufacturers are able to design hydraulic into their newer electronic groups.

This also means the bike has a three foot hydraulic line running the length of the frame from the shifters to the calipers.  I can only imagine what would happen if a rider falls and breaks one of these lines on their SRAM DOT-filled hydraulic brakes.  I think I’ll stop there leaving the potential for litigation over the cleanup of the EPA Superfund site from spilled DOT 5.1 fluid on Federal land to the Nature Conservancy attorneys.  But you can imagine the mess this would create in any crash where the hose was compromised.

TRP took the high road in their HY/RD hydraulic disc brake design by using mineral oil that’s not nearly as potentially harmful to work with as DOT 5.1 brake fluid.  The caliper body weighs 195 grams per wheel.  Shimano 6700 rim calipers weigh 317 grams for a set, 73 grams lighter than HY/RD.  Only the weeniest of weight-weenies will likely notice the 2.5 ounce difference.  The brakes can be connected to any mechanical cable actuated brake set.  Of course, you need a bike with the correct caliper mounts and hub spacing.

The HY/RD brakes come standard with a semi-metallic pad designed to be a good all around brake for general use.  TRP says the pad, “compound works well in dry conditions but may wear quickly in wet/muddy conditions.”   Since I tend to enjoy hill climbing and the requisite downhill  portions of my rides I’m not sure these stock pads will be the best choice for riders who push the limits of their cycling endeavors like I do.

I wanted to understand how the HY/RD brakes felt when they were used in less-than-optimal conditions.  So, on what will be standard ride weather for the next several months—wet roads, windy, with the potential for a cold mix of rain and snow blowing across my face—I set out on a ride to test my new brakes.   There’s a new hill I’ve added to my usual 20-mile loop that starts out steep and tapers off for a half mile before another steep climb to the top of a cul-de-sac.  The end point has an inspiring view overlooking the valley that makes me want a home upgrade as well.

On the ascent, the brakes became sufficiently wet so that on the descent they took a few seconds to start to grab, a sensation I fully expected.  I used the rear brake for testing so that should any problems arise I had the full force of the front brake to prevent a disaster.  After coasting down to the steeper of the two grades I held the brakes slightly for a good part of the steep descent.  Half way down I noticed the brakes were not holding the bike back and I had to squeeze harder and apply more front brake to get the bike to stop at the bottom of the hill.   I now understand what brake fade feels like.  Its not much different than the feeling you get with rim brakes in wet weather as you reach a stop sign while you’re hoping the bike will stop before it slides into oncoming traffic.  The difference is if you’re not riding the disc brakes all the way down a hill you’ll have more than enough power to stop the bike whereas with rim brakes you’re hoping the rims dry out and the brakes hold before you reach the corner.  The disc brakes give a rider solid modulation to slow the bike down quickly on a descent even when wet which is one of their general advantages over rim brakes in the rain.

Many early reviewers of HY/RD have said they are able to brake later heading into a turn.  For the novice rider, I’m certain what they mean is you no longer need to coast riding the brakes into the turn to slow down.  As a matter of fact, after three weeks with the DeSalvo I’m learning I have to employ a completely new braking routine, one that incorporates much later braking than I’m used to with less coasting to stops.   This tends to be a bit scary for less experienced riders who don’t feel as secure riding brake-free for a good portion of a downhill ride.   As with learning to ride a bike in general, though, we learn to change our behavior to suit the circumstances; this is how things will be, I can imagine, for those transitioning to disc brakes.

So, now that we understand even with less than optimal brake pad material you can stop a disc road bike on a dime heading down a steep hill in the rain, what brakes would be better suited for this riding style?

HY/RD brakes, according to TRP, use the same pads as Shimano Deore 525 brakes.  The pads can be either M08 or M05 models.  The difference in Shimano terminology is the M05 pads are slightly thinner and in the case of Shimano brakes cannot be interchanged with M08 pads.  I would imagine this is not an issue with HY/RD because the hydraulic fluid is constantly being topped off in the brake cylinder as the pads wear.  This is an advantage over mechanical disc brakes that have to be adjusted manually, and another reason I chose to outfit my bike with HY/RD brakes.


The most informative website I was able to find during my research for this article was from the people at Disco  They have what I found to be one of the most informative comparisons of disc brake pads on the Internet.   The comparison here comes directly from their website since there’s little need to mess with perfection.

Semi-Metallic Compound

  • Also known as Compound S (Semi-Metallic)
  • Semi-metallic compound for good wear in all conditions. Medium density with consistent wet and dry performance and good grip.
  • Advantages: Cheap, Above average all around performance
  • Disadvantages: Grippier and longer lasting pads are available
  • Suitable For: Everything
  • Conclusion: Best Value

Professional Grade Black Ceramic Compound

  • Also known as Compound C (Ceramic Pro)
  • These soft organic ceramic fiber disc brake pads are carbonized. The ceramic compound insulates the brake system from friction heat up to 400oC. The result is a very powerful, quiet pad with extremely low heat generation which all but eliminates the chances of brake fade.
  • Upgrade on original fitted pads
  • DIN 79100 Standard Approved
  • Organic Compound contains no metal material
  • Reduces damage to rotor
  • Carbonized compound reduces brake fading
  • Ceramic Fiber insulates brake system from friction heat
  • Advantages: Excellent grip, Low noise, Low heat, Consistent in all conditions
  • Disadvantages: Short life span unless rider is light on brakes
  • Suitable For: DH, Dry XC, Ti Rotors
  • Conclusion: Best Performance, Short Life

Metallic Sintered

  • Also known as Compound T (Sintered)
  • Superior power in all conditions
  • Long wear pads, great for DH or XC
  • Consistent braking power in the wet
  • Almost unaffected by rain and snow
  • Copper back plate
  • Advantages: Better performing and longer lasting than most pads
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than medium pads
  • Suitable For: XC, DH (low brake use), All weather conditions, Mud
  • Conclusion: Solid Pads and Best All Rounders

Red Ceramic Compound – Hard

  • Also known as Compound D (Ceramic Hard)
  • Harder than ordinary pads. This is the highest density, hardest, ceramic compound for performance and longer lifetime. These organic disc brake pads contain a high amount of ceramic fiber, which insulate the brake system from friction heat up to 400oC.
  • Advantages: Better performing and longer lasting than medium pads
  • Upgrade on original fitted pads
  • DIN 79100 Standard Approved
  • Organic Compound contains no metal material
  • Reduces damage to rotor
  • Carbonized compound reduces brake fading
  • Ceramic Fiber insulates brake system from friction heat
  • Advantages: Longer lasting than Black Ceramic pads
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than Black Ceramic pads and not as grippy
  • Suitable For: XC, DH (low brake use)
  • Conclusion: Advantages of a Ceramic Pad with Longer Life

Kevlar Compound

  • Also known as Compound V (Kevlar) Contains Kevlar® brand fiber developed by DuPont
  • Kevlar is a high strength synthetic fiber which dramatically improves the performance of these medium density pads and gives excellent braking power
  • Advantages: Better performance than semi-metallic
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than semi-metallic and known to wear out faster in bad weather
  • Suitable For: XC, DH
  • Conclusion: Performance Advantages of Kevlar

Other Factors

  • Low Noise: The black ceramic compound C is thought to be virtually silent
  • DH: Black Ceramic pads are great for Downhill as the ceramic compound insulates the caliper pistons from heat build up so reducing the likelihood of brake fade.
  • Rotors: All of these compounds can be used with any rotor. Ceramic pads cause less damage to rotors than metallic compound pads.
  • Titanium Rotors: We recommend black ceramic compound for titanium coated rotors, as it contains no metal, so will reduce damage to the rotor. The coating on titanium plated rotors is extremely thin (often just a few microns), so will ultimately wear off no matter what pad you use, but ceramic pads will prolong their life over pads containing metal.

My plan is to order a set of the Professional Black and a set of Kevlar pads from Disco Brakes to test during the crisp cold days of our forthcoming Utah winter cycling season. One or both should be better suited for my style of riding than the stock TRP pads.

I’ve reached a point after a few weeks of almost daily riding my most beautiful bicycle in the world in dry and wet conditions that I’ve finally been able to stop thinking about the brakes and the bike and how it rides and focus on the ride itself.  I find myself realizing, as my braking pattern slowly transitions to less coasting stops, I enjoy the strong finite stopping power of the HY/RD brakes and the fact I’m not grinding away at my $1,000 wheel rims every time I brake.  And the more hours I spend on a disc brake equipped bicycle, the more I am convinced this is the wave of the future for bicycles.  As with any innovation as time passes the innovation becomes the standard.  You can expect disc brakes to be around for at least 100 years before the next technology takes over; after all bikes have changed little in the last century, much slower than every other technology we’ve fully embraced.

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Vows: Mr. Duckett and Dr. Jones

Vows: Mr. Duckett and Dr. Jones

New York, NY, 46 Years Ago – This video and the relationship it highlights is exceptionally important in ways most people would never consider. In the past almost 50 years the difficulty of any couple to survive the stresses of life had a 50% chance of success. These gentlemen break the mold on several fronts. Enjoy the video for what it says about perseverence and consider the things they’ve endured the next time you’re thinking of not attempting to attack a seemingly insurmountable hill climb.

Together 46 years, Lewis Duckett and Billy Jones wrote coded letters to each other during Dr. Jones’s deployment in Vietnam. They adopted a baby, became grandfathers and then, finally, got married.

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