Saturday, May 12, 2012

Specialized FATE Bike Review

As a member of Sorella Cycling I had the opportunity to demo a very nice mountain bike for three weeks.  Meet the women's specific Specialized FATE (size small).

I rode it a lot, and I rode it hard. I was lucky enough to ride it during a time I participated in two different mountain biking clinics. I'm short (5'2") and have always believed too short for 29" mountain bike wheels, but after three weeks I came away thinking I could ride a 29" wheel on a regular basis.

First off, as I suspected, I had more of a bend in my leg than I normally ride, mainly because I need to dab my foot. I'm a dabber which comes from years of riding on more technical trails in Virginia and West Virginia.  However, the trails closer to metro-Atlanta probably don't require the ability to dab.  Over time I could probably adjust to a higher seat location.

The next thing I noticed was the weight of the bike which has a carbon fiber frame.  It weighed in at 22.5 pounds which is about how much my old aluminum frame hard tail weighs.  My guy friends with huge full suspension bikes would say this is light, but I think I was hoping for less weight.

After the 29" wheels, the next biggest difference on this bike was the 26.5" long handlebars.  My current bike has 22" handle bars, and my first ride out on the FATE resulted in two handlebar whacks, one of which caused serious rib injury.  After confirming that this was a design choice on the part of Specialized and then taking a clinic with Gene Hamilton of BetterRide, I decided this is the best direction to head for correct position on the bike.  However, the majority of the time demo-ing the FATE was spent cringing (and slowing down) around tight trees.The gearing was also a change for me with a 2x10 set-up.  Didn't take long to get used to and think I would prefer this set-up in the future.

So how did it ride?  Great!  Loved it.  Felt light and crisp on curvy trails and rode over just about anything.  Even though it weighs the same as my current bike, the FATE felt "lighter" on the trail, which I assume is the carbon composite frame.  I especially liked the ease with which I could ride over rocks up steep climbs, in places I currently struggle with my old bike. On one steep hill I followed a group of riders up a trail I had never been on.  Halfway through I realized it was more than I had bargained for, but I just leaned forward, pedaled hard, and made it through.  When I looked back I realized some riders had chosen to bypass this hill. Yeah me....and thanks Specialized FATE. 

My only complaint is that as a person who struggles with tight left-hand switchbacks, this bike did not help and may have been worse.  Being tense probably doesn't help, but it felt hard to make the tight turn.  And when I fell, which I did a couple times, it was so far down.  I had way more bruises than normal after this demo.  I'm not sure if that is because I was pushing it further to test it's capabilities, or was it "more tippy" because of the height?  Maybe a combo of the two?

I'm sure I read about the FATE's other great features, but didn't really have time to take note on this demo.  There were, however, some time slots left in the schedule, so I signed up to demo it again in September.

Bottom line is that I am definitely going to get a 29" hard tail in the future thanks to the opportunity to ride the Specialized FATE for three weeks. I have been swayed away from a full suspension 26" bike and the FATE is definitely in the running for my new bike.  Now you might want to take all this with a grain of salt when you realize I currently ride a 13 year old Trek 8000.  One might say anything is an improvement of an old hard tail with v brakes.

Friday, May 11, 2012


In the midst of finishing a design submission, I was working on this popular pattern by Hilary Smith Callis.  Citron is a free pattern on that many Ravelers have tried their hand at.  I couldn't resist because it looked so light and lovely.  It is wonderful, and I have even been wearing it this spring in a very warm Georgia.  I'm not a fan of the m1 holes you can see in this first picture, but it looks like the original piece for Knitty has the same holes.  To be honest, I can't recall if I used kfb or lifted the strand in between to add a stitch.  Logically, I would have used kfb because it looks best on higher weight yarns (no hole), so let's go with that.

Very easy knit for a single skein of lace.  I might make another when I have time.  Good idea for Christmas giving.  I get lots of compliments from the "younger" crowd.

Biker's Biscotti

I'm a member of an all women's cycling group in Atlanta, GA called Sorella Cycling.  We hold an annual meeting for all members as a time to meet everyone, share info on our sponsors benefits, and distribute cycling kits (our uniform).  This year the food provided is themed towards homemade, nutritious, high-energy snacks that can be taken along on bike rides. Earlier in the year ,two members of our Race Team held a "clinic" featuring over 15 different samples from themselves and other members.  It was a mad success, and I volunteered to make my favorite for the Sorella Annual Meeting in April.

I am by no means a vegan.  In fact, I tend towards a Paleolithic (modern day cave-man) diet, but these energy bites are vegan as well as gluten free.

I made single recipe and a double batches for over 100 large bite size biscottis.  If you think you will save money by making your own high energy snacks, don't try this recipe. Based on the amount and cost of the almond flour and chia seeds alone, they have reached at least 60 cents per serving.

almond flour - 1 and 1/4 cup
arrowroot powder - 1 T
salt -1/4 t
baking soda - 1/4 t
natural peanut butter ~1/3 cup
raw pistachios - 1/4 cup
chia seeds 1/4 cup
flax seeds 1/4 cup
grape seed oil 1/8 cup
agave nectar - 1/4 cup
orange zest - 2 t


1. Combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt and baking soda and pulse well.

2. Whisk in agave nectar, orange zest, peanut butter, oil, chia and flax seeds..

3. Add in pistachios.

4. Form two logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet or lightly coat baking pan with grape-seed oil

 5.  Bake at 350 for 12 min.  Remove and cool for 1 hour.

6. CUT logs into 1/2" slices with a very sharp knife.

7.  Spread slices out on baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for approx 12 min.

8. Cool and enjoy

The logs seem to crack no matter how you small you make them.  Then the cut pieces like to break along these cracks.  They don't stay together very well in a biking pack, but they are still so yummy.

Next up in the food department:  Homemade LARA bars.