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Robert Hamlin Bicycles is not open. I am available for repairs. Just call to set up a time.

Monday, April 16, 2018

How To Position Dirt Drop Handlebars On Any Bicycle

The purpose of dirt drop handlebars is to ride in the drops nearly all of the time. The drops of your dirt drops should be roughly positioned in the same spot as the grips of your flat bars on your mtb or in the same spot as your brake hoods on your traditional road bars. Sure, you can guess, trying different combinations of stem length, stem rise, and spacers, and seeing how it feels. Or not. Here is a method to position your dirt drops on any bicycle, even if you change wheels or fork. The only requirement is that you currently have a bicycle on which you feel comfortable when riding aggressively over rough terrain. This position is unique to you. Everyone is different.

Take that bicycle and set it in a corner with the rear wheel against one wall and the bars against the other wall. Stand the bike up as straight as possible and chock the front wheel. Make sure the wheels are equal distance (parallel to) from the wall the bars are leaning against.

Get down on your hands and knees. Measure the vertical distance from the floor to the center of the bottom bracket. Record this distance in millimeters and label it "stack offset." Measure the horizontal distance from the wall the rear wheel is touching to the center of the bottom bracket. Record this distance in millimeters and label it "reach offset."

Stand up. Measure the vertical distance from the floor to the middle of the spot where you place your hands while riding. On a flat bar mtb, it is the top middle of the grip. For a cyclocross bike with traditional road bars, it is the top middle of the brake hoods. Record this distance in millimeters. Subtract the "stack offset." Label this difference as "handlebar stack." Now measure the horizontal distance from the wall the rear wheel is touching to the middle of the spot where you place your hands while riding. Record this distance in millimeters. Subtract the "reach offset." Label this difference as "handlebar reach." Take your unique "handlebar stack" and "handlebar reach" numbers and guard them with your life. These two numbers stay the same for you, even if you change wheels, tires, or fork.

Now, make your best guess, and go ahead and throw on a bunch of headset spacers, high rise stem, and dirt drop bars. Repeat the above measurements to determine the dirt drop handlebar stack and reach. Are you close to your original numbers? Probably not. Now instead of guessing, you can calculate the number of spacers, stem length, and stem rise you need. Be aware that with some frames, you will not be able to exactly position dirt drops according to your original handlebar stack and reach numbers. If or when you get close to your original numbers, test ride in the drops only. Don't ride with your hands on the brake hoods. Position the brake levers so that you can easily reach them while riding in the drops. DO NOT position your brake levers based on how they feel when riding on the hoods. Again, DO NOT ride with your hands on the brake hoods. Do not wrap your bars yet either. Put a set of flat bar grips on the drops of your dirt drops. Slide them deep into the curve of the drop, and yes, the end of the bars will not be covered. Continue to make small adjustments and test ride in the drops until it feels perfect. If you still want to ride on the hoods, you really didn't want dirt drop handlebars in the first place.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Rant May Just Make Me Fill Better. Maybe.

The power meter has killed the joy of riding a bicycle. People looking at their power meters feel nothing.

Disc brakes on a road bike or a cross bike are stupid. Cross bikes with 70mm of bottom bracket drop and thru axles are even more stupid. Or, is that more stupider. The song of my people is not the whine of a disc pad hanging on a rotor during efforts, dismounts, or in sand or mud. The song of my people is the melody of a properly adjusted v-brake on a rim, singing only when the lever is squeezed.

Do I feel better? Nope.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I Know Why

I know why 40+ Masters racers cheat. Nice work Kayle. It is because they feel old. I feel old. I am not in race shape, but I'm not out of shape either. The problem is that at 52 it is really hard to maintain my current fitness level. It feels almost impossible to get back to race shape, even while training hard and eating healthy. I was fast in 2011. Since then it's been a downward trajectory, and I know there is no going back. That's why old guys cheat.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


It has only been seven months since my last post. Cyclocross season came and went. My successes were few, but in general I rode better in 2016 than I did in 2015. By the end of the season I was almost getting back into race shape, rolling head to head with teammate Rich Caramadre, at least for a few laps.

We spent the winter in Florida, and are still here now in late spring. For Florida, it is almost early summer. I can't blame the perfect weather for my lack of miles this year, but things are starting to turn around. I rode well over 100 miles this past week. Yesterday I rode 53 miles cyclocross fixed gear from Espanola back to the shanty. I have always wanted to ride the Old Brick Road, a 10-mile section of the original Dixie Highway, that was built in 1915. After about five miles it turned mostly to sand with a few bricks still visible now and again. I hit another mile or so of brick roads in East Palatka, then rode the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail on the way home.

There will be more rides to come before we head back to Utah, so I will do my best to post more ride pictures.

Friday, September 23, 2016

It's Only Been Eight Months

Looking at my last post, I did what I said I would do. I did some long rides this summer. No entry fees were paid. I rode from the house instead of putting the bicycle on the car. That all changes starting tomorrow when we load the bicycles up in the van and pay our entry fees. It is cyclocross season. It is going to be muddy. Good.

I wish for a new cyclocross rule, the one that would not allow bicycle changes. One bicycle only. You have to start, ride, and finish the race on just one bicycle. If you want to stop and spray the mud off, fine. Just no pit bikes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Know

I said I would, but I did not keep up the blog. I am sorry about that. I had plenty of insights to share, but like Cyclocross season, they somehow slipped away. It is time to make assessments and form new goals. So here is the plan. I will be doing more bicycling and less driving accross Utah and the country. I did not sign up for the Crusher, Grit, Fireroad, or any of the other big rides. Instead, I will be doing big local rides on those dates. Everyone is welcome to join. Entry fee, $0, self supported, and I will roll from the house for the most part. Instead of True Grit on March 12, 2016, I will be doing one of my local loops. Everyone is welcome.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Falling Down And Getting Back Up

I really am just about done with Facebook and Strava. I have more to say, and less desire for "friends" to see what I write. Unless they really want to see. Or read. If so, they can find it here. The blog has always been a diary, steeped and infused with my efforts on a bicycle. So, once again, I promise myself to try and post on a regular basis. Easier said than done.

Last week Lupine and I did not train much, still worn out from three races the week before. We ran stairs, did a few short intervals, and not much else. Last Saturday I started well by taking the path less traveled. The outside-outside line into first corner allowed me to move from the third row up into fifth place. For one lap. As I started to fade back to my normal 12th place, I tried to up my pace going into a chicane. I went down, lost another four spots, broke a brake lever, lost all my confidence in my over-inflated tires, and quickly went to the back. DFL probably. So I did the thing I hardly ever do. I quit. It has taken a week to get over it. I trained very little this week too, but tomorrow is another day. My plan for tomorrow is to have fun with an old friend. I will not quit this time. Probably.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

When I was young...

...the more I raced, the stronger I became. That is just not true anymore. I need to get that through my head. A moderately strong effort at a race on Wednesday led to dead legs last night, until the last two laps. Those last lap heroics led to a complete lack of energy, speed, and focus this morning. I almost quit. Three times. But I rode with all the effort I could muster, which was about half speed.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Like Sharp White Teeth

That's how it felt. The sky looked pretty good as I rolled out. I headed west to the unpaved roads. When I turned north the sky looked foreboding.

I pretended to be a Hardman from cycling's past.  As I pedaled the Pake fixed gear into the sharp snow flakes, for a moment, I almost felt like one. 

What To Do

It has been a long time since I have consistently written blog posts or ridden a bicycle with any intensity. Yesterday was my first ride in Utah in 2015. Lupine and I rode the cross bikes up to Third Damn. It was snowing, the trail was a little muddy, and our toes were cold, but it was wonderful to be out in the mountains on the bicycle.

There is really only one thing to do when you weigh nearly 20 pounds more than you do when you are in race shape: go ride your bicycle. OK, I'm going. It is 37 degrees and lightly snowing outside, but I am going. When I get back I will try to convince myself to write about how it felt.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Where You Been, Man?

I am still alive and kicking, just not posting.  I am still broken, but still working and trying to ride.  And yes, I promise to post more.  Soon.  I may even post about my next ride, which could be any day now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nothing New Here

It was so much fun and fulfilling to participate in a cyclocross race last Saturday, even if I raced from the back at less than full speed.  But, I must admit to myself that racing this season is over before it has really begun.  Saturday hurt.  Monday I got an X-ray.  Pictures don't lie. Today I tried to ride again.  It hurt.  So, I will be mechanic and coach for Lupine.  If anyone needs a mechanic during their race just ask.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


No Crusher for me because I am already crushed. I will be in the shop tomorrow all afternoon.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sorry folks, Robert Hamlin Bicycles will be closed for a few weeks. I will be open again on July 16.  Thank you for being patient.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Shop Is Open!

I plan to be in the shop all week.  The 2013 Marin bicycles are going fast, so come on buy.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Long Overdue Update

I am sorry for the lack of content, but one has to feel motivated to write.  I'm not, but I want to be.  This will do for now:  It has been more than three months since the big fall.  I am still in recovery mode.  The bone has not healed so well, says my orthopedist, but my head is much better.  I have been on the bike a little, but have not pushed any limits, other than one TT ride in Gainesville.  There is time for that.  We stayed in Florida from Christmas to late February.  Logan has been snow free and spring like, but I wish I was still in Florida quite often.  It is beautiful here, no doubt.  I can roll out from the house and be in Logan Canyon in a matter of minutes.  I have been up the River Trail four times on the Pake in the last eight days. It has never been snow free in early march, so it has been quite the special treat.  The shop is open.  Looks like it is going to be just me again, working when I can.  I will be headed up to Montana soon, just waiting for a weather window.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Looking Up

Three weeks have gone by, and things are looking up.  My head still hurts, and things inside my skull are still scrambled, but the last two days have been better.  I have not shed a tear in three days.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Flood

The flood of emotions that often accompany Post-concussion Syndrome (PCS) continue to ebb and flow in my brain: happy, sad, light, and dark.  I know it has only been two weeks, but I am growing weary of the symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of concentration and memory
  • Noise and light sensitivity

  • The pain in the upper left half of my body, I will learn to live with that (I am having major doubts about the Titanium plate and 12 screws, but I will save that for another post).  The difficulty for me is having my brain go from a "high speed connection" to "dial-up modem" with just one bonk on the head.  The disconnect between obtaining sensory information, mentally sorting that information, then physically responding, seems so gigantically-enormously huge for me right now.  So far, this post probably sounds well written, and you may be wondering why I am complaining.  Well, being a perfectionist, I have put in nearly an hour of work and have one paragrapgh to show for my effort.  Then, thinking about the effort, I get really sad.

    Then, I get happy again.  But, it is really hard.  I know.  Be patient.  This too shall pass.  One door closes and another opens.  Yes, I know all the answers to overcoming my PCS. 
    I watched this.  To get from trama to growth, I need four types of resilience: physical, mental, emotional, and social.  I am a lucky man, I have had plenty of all four my entire life.  And, I have a plan.  I am going to get some form of exercise today (no, not a bicycle ride).  I am going to finish analyzing pictures today for a report that is long overdue.  I am going to laugh again today with Lupine and Patty (last night we watched Elf).  And, I am going to race cyclocross next year.  I miss the social connections already, and it has only been two weeks.  I may not make the entire series, but I will be there.  It may be just a few races in Ogden, but I will be there.  I may be on the heavy steel fixed gear Pake, but I will be there.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    How Quick It Can All Come Crashing Down

    I know. I never update my blog, just my Facebook status. I need to remember to post here then provide a link on my Facebook page. Facebook has killed my blog. Facebook has killed everyone's website. Facebook is the Internet now.

    So, here is an update. I had a pretty hard crash in a cyclocross race almost two weeks ago. Yes, I have a surgically repaired broken collar bone, bad ribs, mangled fingers, and a messed up head. The following is a re-post I wrote this morning to the Gainesville tt group. It is long winded, really self-indulgent, but therapeutic. Here goes:

    My cross season is way done. I will miss the last three Utah races, the last two Idaho races (ID state championships), and nationals in Boulder, singlespeed and 45-49. Word of advice: never pre-register really early for races. The Florida Championships at the end of January are a possibility, but pointless at this point. Perhaps I'll show up just for the singlespeed race on the old 26 pound fixed gear Motobacon road bike wearing cutoffs, spd sandals, and tshirt.

    At this point I have no desire to race ever again. If I do race again, I sure as hell don't want to bunny hop sets of barriers going full gas at 20 mph. What I want is to set up the Pake fixed-fixed and do some long but easy gravel road and easy trail rides. I want to just ride for fun.

    Most of all, I want my headache to go away.

    I'm pretty messed up. Right now I don't know if I can even do the big drive to get home to Florida before Christmas. I'm suffering from bad post concussion syndrome: fuzzy, headache, hard to focus, hard to put simple thoughts into actions, can not think of the right words, strange emotions, and just no energy or drive. And those words really don't describe it at all. Mostly there is a disconnection between thinking about/wanting to do something and having my brain be able to easily tell my body to do it. It is hard to explain. When it all seems dire, I just have to sit or lie down and close my eyes, stop the inputs for a bit, and then get back to it. Not always easy to do. Yesterday I tried to put a skewer into a customer's front wheel. I know it's the short one but my hands repeatedly tried to install a rear one. Too long, every time I tried. Somehow, bright lights and sounds affect the whole process. Strange, no? The hardest part is to be a smart, thinking person, who has always thought about everything, and now, all of a sudden, not be able to clearly do so.

    The collar bone will heal. Been there done that, several times, but now I have a plate and a dozen Titanium skews. The fingers will get better too. I also have broken or bruised ribs on the left side of my chest under the clavicle. Of course I don't remember the crash or any part of it; I was out of it for at least an hour. But I think I went over so fast onto my shoulder and head that I never let go of the bars. One guy said I flipped like a coin onto my head. That's why the fingers are all popped. The bruise across my chest is from hitting the bar/stem with my hands still attached, perhaps. The left side of my helmet is gone. The back of my left shoulder still has big patch of road rash and is really sore. I see the Orthopedist again next week. He will look at the clavicle, which I don't think is quite right because of the intense shooting pain and the general ouch pain, and my fingers. I really don't want hand surgery. Thank you for reading my friends. Writing this has helped me. I will be home soon and see you all then. We can do a slow Fred ride on the rail trail.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

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