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  1. #1
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    First century...On a folder?? (swift)

    Hey all you folder fanatics!!
    I have signed up for the Cool Breeze Century taking place on 8/18 in Channel Islands, Ca.
    This will be my first century ever attempted. My initial intentions were to do this on my road bike, but after the last few weeks of hard commuting on my Swift, I got the silly idea of doing the century on my folder!!
    I know there have been many people who have done century's on their folders before, but I don't know if I should attempt it.
    I feel that I may be lacking in both the high and low gears.
    So I'm going to throw it out to the net and get some opinions from fellow small wheel riders.

  2. #2
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Prepare yourself to do a long ride on your folder this weekend or the next one. If you do 50-75 miles ( confortably or not) go for the folder.

    If after 30 miles or so you think this is not a good idea, jump back to your road bike.

    You (and the facts) are the most qualified person to answer your question. Instead of speculation, go for a trial ride and the facts will speak for themselves.

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.

  3. #3
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    I prefer a folder; I just did 200 miles on a towpath with 355 (18") wheels, and wouldn't have had it any other way.

    How does your Swift ride relative to your full size bike?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    So how are you going to get in a Century in the Oxnard area??? Over the Santa Monica Mountains or into Santa Paula the back way through Ojai or the back way to Santa Barbara or all of them?????

    Riding around Channel Islands/Oxnard/Port Hueneme/Ventura is FLAT, but to do 100 miles without doing laps I am assuming you are going to get out of the coastal plain.

    (Currently in the PNW, but still a Ventura County property owner)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by big boy phil
    Hey all you folder fanatics!!
    I have signed up for the Cool Breeze Century taking place on 8/18 in Channel Islands, Ca.
    This will be my first century ever attempted. My initial intentions were to do this on my road bike, but after the last few weeks of hard commuting on my Swift, I got the silly idea of doing the century on my folder!!
    ...
    I feel that I may be lacking in both the high and low gears.
    So I'm going to throw it out to the net and get some opinions from fellow small wheel riders.
    GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    For most centuries, the issue isn't gears, it's comfort. I like a nice balance between weight on the seat and weight on the hands. I am too upright on my DT Mini right now to consider a 1 hour plus ride, but I would consider riding a century on my DT VIIIH.

    A century will probably take you 5 to 8 hours depending on how fast you ride. That's a long time to be on a bike. I normally figure you can easily ride 3 to 4 times farther than your average ride without major discomfort. My commute is about 10 km each way, so I could easily ride 30 to 40 km without additional trainining. If you want to ride 100 miles you should try and ride 25 to 40 miles several times in the weeks before the century.

    Bike comfort is everything on long rides. Multiple hand positions are nice too, so when you get tired in one position you can move to another. I would recommend some sort of drop bars or long bar-ends with a curve or right angle out near the ends if you are riding flattish bars. Longer bar-ends are out of fashion right now, but they give you three distinct postions - normal on the bars, on the bar ends where they point out, and on the bar ends where they are more parallel to the handlebars. By comparison, the mini bar-ends that come on the DT VIIIH have only two positions, on the bars or on the bar-ends perpendicular to the handlebars. The DT Mini has no bar-ends on the stock bike which is why I added the Scott 4-Pro bars which have multiple positions.

    I also like to be streatched out enought to get a reasonable weight distribution between butt and hands. The old rule of bike measures is that distance from the end of your saddle to your drop bars should be about the distance between your elbow and fingertips (a cubit) to be in the right position. For flat bars I like that to be a couple of inches more than that.

    I don't see any reason why you shouldn't ride your Swift if it fits you. My first metric century was on an old Schwinn Varsity that weighted 40 pounds + and since I was used to riding it I had a great time!

    The other thing I would worry about for Oxnard in August is water and hydration, so make sure you have a hydration pack or at least two water bottles. Rest stops are OK, but I find I do better if I don't stop too long. For me it is better to stop less and rest more by riding slower. Don't forget to keep eating either.

    I think you will really enjoy your first century and it is definately a ride to remember and be proud of... The Swift should give you a psychological advantage since us small-wheelers know that most everyone else will think you are Superman for attempting a century on a kids bike!
    Last edited by Pine Cone; 06-21-07 at 11:18 PM.

  6. #6
    jur
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    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Cone
    The Swift should give you a psychological advantage since us small-wheelers know that most everyone else will think you are Superman for attempting a century on a kids bike!
    There is also a bit of a disadvantage, which is everybody says to themselves, "I won't be beaten by a guy on a toy bicycle" and so go hard at it.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  7. #7
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    Whatever bike you ride, be sure that you:
    - drink lots
    - eat lots (even if you don't feel hungry)

    If you don't, you'll bonk somewhere past the 70-mile mark. It's like the 20-mile "wall" in marathons.

    And don't blast out the first 10 miles because you're excited to be in a century. Ease into it, and you'll be fine.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #8
    Senior Member caotropheus's Avatar
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    I do not know why, but previously I posted the very same answer and I cannot see it now. So here it goes again.

    Quote Originally Posted by 14R
    Prepare yourself to do a long ride on your folder this weekend or the next one.
    I would say: "Prepare yourself to do a long ride on your folder this and next weekends..."

  9. #9
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    Wow--Pine Cone covered everything I was going to say, and better than I would have. So just a few reiterations--comfort is what matters, and while most people think about their butt and legs hurting, hands, shoulders, and neck are often most problematic on rides much longer than normal. I can't ride much more than 10 miles on flat bars without significant hand discomfort, no matter what gloves and grips I'm using. Adding bar ends helps a lot. But for me, drops are almost necessary when I'm spending more than 3 hours in the saddle. Drop bars give four distinct hand positions--on the flats by the stem, on the curves just past the flats, on the brake hoods, and finally the drops themselves. All but the first are more comfortable to me than any position on a typical mtn bar. Of course, ymmv.

    But putting drop handlebars on a bike with V-Brakes (which I assume your Swift has) is not so simple, as most brake levers for drop bars don't pull the right amount of cable. Yet it can be done. I had such a setup for a while, but the brakes were very grabby, and had minimal clearance. It was barely acceptable. See the drop handlebar thread which is current in this forum for more info.


    For carrying water, I really like the Tacx Saddle Clamp dual holder, which was recommended to me by someone else on this forum.

    I encourage you to go for it!

    Jack

  10. #10
    SWS: Small Wheel Syndrome kb5ql's Avatar
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    This is what you need:

    Drop Bars & 451 20" Wheels:


    Road Calipers



    And a really uncomfortable seat


  11. #11
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    OP:

    It sounds like your conditioning is good enough for a century, just work on the comfort and nutrition issues and you should be fine! Going to a drop bar will require significant time and expenses, however. What do you guys/gals think about using clip-on aerobars for change of positions? I sometimes use them on my full size bike on centuries. Haven't tried it on the folder, though.

    The next thing I'd check is to make sure I have a good saddle that can go 100 miles with me. Otherwise, !!!

  12. #12
    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    I did a solo near-metric (95km) on a single-speed low-end Dahon with no training to speak of (Ok, it was pretty flat), so I think you'll be all right

  13. #13
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    In terms of mechanical quality and stiffness, the Swift can definitely do a century.

    I did a very hilly century on my Swift last year. I had swapped out the cassette to get lower gearing, put on a nice pair of grips and bar-ends.

    My feeling is that after 70 miles or so, the harsher ride of 20" wheels does start to add up. Also it's kind of hard to do on-bike stretches, since you can't really ride no-hands. I had a saddle that fit me well, though, so most of the issues I had were with my hands and neck.

    (And after riding my road bike for most of the year, putting high-pressure slicks, and a less-than-ideal saddle on my Swift, I start feeling it after only 20 miles....)

    If I was going to do another Swift century, I'd use Big Apple tires and consider a Brooks saddle as well.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    The altitude profile for that century is here.

    3800 feet of climbing made up mostly of a lot of rollers. The big climb in the middle averages around 3% grade. If you are concerned about your low end, find a hill of similar steepness and see how you feel.

    Get those prep miles in.

    Don't go out too fast. Maintain a steady comfortable pace.

    Drink and eat plenty during the ride.

    For a lot of people a century is no big deal, but I've always felt proud about each one I've done. You should too.

    Speedo

  15. #15
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    WOW!! What an overwhelming response. I really was not expecting this. Thank you all for the encouragement and valuable tips.

    If anyone is interested, the website that has the info on the cool breeze shows a little topographical map of the ride, along with an elevation profile. The biggest climb is around the 30 mile mark, and is 800' or so. The total elevation gain is around 4000'. From what I can tell it is mostly along the coast, going inland for the hilly section, but majority is flat from there. It stars somewhere in Ventura county, and will go a lttle past Santa Barbara, then back down again.

    I plan on taking the swift on my usual saturday group ride, and hitting some hills to see how it does, and get some training in. I have done just short of 50 miles on my swift before, and was no worse for wear. That is one of the main reasons I am looking to use the swift, because it is just so darn comfotable to me. I would like to make it even more comfortable, to make sure I can make the full century though. I am thinking of adding a brooks saddle, just from all the recomendations and praise they get. But I would have to start breaking it in now.

    as for hand positions, I added Origin 8 clamp on drop bars to the stock flat bar. So I get the benefit of the flat bar, bar ends, and the drops. Plus I don't havr to change the grip shifter, or the brakes. Only bad thing is that it takes a second to get to the brakes from the drops, but on a long stretch like this, I'm hoping it won't be a problem.

    My other concern besides comfort is still the climbing. I think I will be ok on the top end, but climbing can be an issue. I have the stock cassette. Is there an easy direct bolt on cassette that will give me a lower gear? I believe I have read of people putting on a cassette with a 32 t gear. Not sure if it was on the swift though.

    Again thanks for all the encouragement. I appreciate any more tips and suggestions you can all offer as well.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    Go for it. You can finish for sure. Every ride I've done on my Dahon has been averaging 50 miles and I am confident I can do a century if there's ever such group and organize ride coming up. It's a goal I set to do a century or two before summer end. If you come short or finish last, you gave it your best and there will be more centuries scheduled for you to participate in the future.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big boy phil
    My other concern besides comfort is still the climbing. I think I will be ok on the top end, but climbing can be an issue. I have the stock cassette. Is there an easy direct bolt on cassette that will give me a lower gear? I believe I have read of people putting on a cassette with a 32 t gear. Not sure if it was on the swift though.
    I found at least one reference. (swift folders) I think there were a few others.

    Speedo

  18. #18
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Yeah, just pop the SRAM 11-32 on there. Same general model as the stock 11-28. Change the front chainring if that isn't enough.

  19. #19
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    Go for it, but get the wider range casette. I just did an 87 mile ride with lots of climbingon my Raleigh Twenty. The prime factor is your own conditioning and proper nutrition.
    Juan

  20. #20
    jur
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    Big breakfast. Eat lots. Drink lots. Stay comfortable seat-wise and hands-wise. The rest comes easily. Really. How long you take depends entirely on your fitness.

    (I am a master of restating what others have said before. )
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  21. #21
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    Well, I just got back from my Saturday group ride. We did approximately 50 miles with only one major climb of 1100'
    I did this on my swift, and actually felt better than I have in previous weeks on my road bike. I think I was a tad slower, but not so much that I could get dropped by the group I was with. The climb was rather nice I have to say. I did this exact climb on my roadbike last week, and I could have sworn it was a lot worse last week. So I guess I have myself a winner here. I am going to go forth with my Centruy on the Swift. I will work on some minor tweaks in the next few weeks, but I am going to go ahead and use my swift for sure.
    I am looking at picking up the 11-32 sram cassette, a Salsa 56t chainring, and possibly some big apples for the extra cushion when pushin'!!
    actually, what do you all think about running the big apples for this ride? I am currently riding IRC Metro's at 110psi or so. The ride is kinda rough, but I don't have anything else to compare to. I switched the stock Kendas out almost immediately. I like how the IRC's work for me right now, but if the big apples really are suspension like with little loss of speed, I wouldn't mind giving em a try.

    And thank you all again, for the encouragement, and tips. I am going to continue my training on the swift exclusively.

  22. #22
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    If you can do 50 miles without being dropped by the group on your swift, the only thing left to do is to drop the road bike.

  23. #23
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    By the way, how do you like those road ends? I've been looking at them...do you think they are a big improvement over more conventional barends? Are they _very_ ugly on the bike? I'd love a picture if you are able.

    Thanks!

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