Developing a Fear of God

On December 31st 2021, one year ago, our home narrowly escaped the worst fire in Colorado history. Above is a map of how close we were, surrounded on multiple sides. Six weeks later, we decided to move back to California to be close to family and also take advantage of reduced supply in the housing market. The latter part didn’t work out so well, but I consider myself fortunate nonetheless.

Finally: Cheap Prescription Cycling Sunglasses with Optical Factor

I’ve been searching for more affordable good prescription cycling glasses online for years. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many cycling glasses that support prescription lenses. Even for those that do, only a few places will actually make prescriptions. For glasses that have prescription inserts, I could never find a place that would only do the inserts; even if you found the sunglasses on sale, you couldn’t find a place to just provide the lens inserts.

The end result is that such glasses and lens combinations end up being well over $300. I’ve been against paying this because 1) it’s a lot of money 2) I didn’t know whether I would like the glasses. As far as I knew, there weren’t many places to try them for a ride. This was just too much risk for me, not even accounting for the fact that prescriptions change.

My past solution was to buy prescription sunglasses from Zenni Optical for under $70. Not amazing, not as “cool” looking as your typical wide frame full coverage cycling sunglasses, but they worked reasonably fine.

My Zenni Optical sunglasses (no longer being sold, find current models here):

Cycling glasses from Zenni Optical

Compared to the sexy Oakley Jawbreaker.

Oakley Jawbreaker

But now I’ve found a real cheap, better looking alternative, these Luke Prescription Cycling Sport Sunglasses Kit frames from Optical Factor.

I got both variations with prescription lenses for under $100. That’s me above trying them out on a very light family ride over the weekend. They held up well in those non-stressing conditions. I’m not going to claim some amazing optical clarity that the likes of Oakley claim, but I have previously owned an expensive Oakley Juliet that I was never impressed by.

Two pairs for $100 – I have no regrets getting these so far as an experiment. Other notes:

  • It took about two weeks to get the glasses manufactured and delivered from China.
  • There is no customer support. Don’t even bother reaching out. Since I paid with a credit card that has purchase protection, I was ready to attempt a reversal if this had been a scam, but they came through.
  • You can basically get the glasses flush to your eye ball, there isn’t a bridge to prevent them from getting too close.
  • You get pretty good horizontal and vertical wrap-around coverage.
  • They are very light.
  • The frames pick up fingerprints easily.

Gravel Riding with a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX

I have a 2018 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc. When I recently acquired a new wheelset, I wanted to use my old Specialized CL 32 for gravel, but I couldn’t tell how wide I could go. The official Canyon spec is 30mm, not much for gravel.

It turns out the answer is 35MM. I used a 700x33c (33mm) Vittoria Terreno Dry, which expands to 35MM at 40 PSI. There’s still enough clearance that I’m not afraid of dirt and a little mud. For reference, the CL32 wheelset is 21mm internal, 27mm external.

If you’re curious if 35MM is wide enough for gravel, the answer for bike-handling weenies like me is probably no. BUT for Mathieu Van Der Poel, “the only obvious change from the usual race-spec is the low-profile Dura-Ace C36 carbon tubeless wheels shod with what appear to be Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres in an assumed 35 mm width (to match the available room in the Ultimate frame).” (MATHIEU VAN DER POEL IS RACING A ROAD BIKE AT GRAVEL WORLDS)

Delusions of Aero: My Attempts at Budget Marginal Gains on the Bike

As part of a delusional attempt to buy myself faster on the bike, I made changes to my Canyon Ultimate CF SLX over the winter months. It took me almost a year, however to finally get my second tire in and have a chance to try everything out.

  1. Light Bicycle AR465 Falcon Pro X-Flow 46.5mm Depth Wheelset – $1237.14
  2. 2 x Continental GP5000S TR tires (25mm front, 30mm rear) – ~$200 from Amazon and BikeTiresDirect
  3. Aero water bottles – $20.60 from Amazon
  4. Shimano 105 Fc-R7000 Crankset – 160mm – $159.99 from Jenson USA

Let me start by saying that all these attempted gains are marginal, extremely marginal. 100G of weight savings is just .22 pounds, and yet I can’t help myself. Imagine trying to lose that weight off your body instead of buying it. People with this insanity are Weight Weenies, as popularized by the forum.

There are two types of changes, weight and aero. Reduced weight helps you ascend faster, particularly as you go above 6% gradients – the higher the gradient, the more reduced weight helps. Aero helps you with anything less than 6%.

The reality is I am unlikely to hold enough power for enough time to measure the difference any of these changes will make. I know this and I don’t need to brag to others about this gear, but I just like knowing for myself. I want to know I have a lighter rim, a more aero tire. But I want to know that I “achieved” all this at bargain prices too.

Wheels and Tires

Below is the configuration I opted for with the Light Bicycle AR465 Falcon Pro X-Flow 46.5mm Depth Wheelset.

  • Internal Nipples (more aero, but harder to service)
  • Flyweight (lighter version of the rim, but less strong – more of an issue for 200lbs+ riders)
  • Pillar Wing aero spokes

The X-Flow rim shape itself is supposed to be Light Bicycle’s new innovation, their faster, stronger, stiffer design. It looks like a very subtle version of the Zipp and Princeton Carbonworks wheels. The 46.5MM depth is their deepest in this rim shape, but I am also concerned about crosswinds and so this seemed like a good balance of aero gain, crosswind vulnerability, and light weight, especially with the decisions around the nipples, spokes and tires.

Or so I tell myself.

The wheelset came in at 1,364G (+30G for tubeless tape). If you’re new to weight weenyism, 1500G is a good solid non-heavy wheelset, like a B- grade. 1400G is the B, 1300G is the A-, and 1200G is an A. I think there are wheelsets that might break 1100 G. The difference in 150G (.33 lbs) in weight between wheelsets can often be $500 and greater.

I got the Bitex Hubs because they were lighter, cheaper, and came in the oil slick color. It was the only hub that could be paired with the Pillar Wing aero spokes that also came in the oil slick color.

On the tires, I’ve already run Continental’s original excellent GP5000 tubeless tires on my Roval CL32 32MM depth wheelset before. But but but! I needed to maintain aero efficiency through the so-called 105% rule (you want the tire to be thinner than the rim by at least 5% in order to create a smooth airflow interface between tire and rim). But but but! The new GP5000S tires were lighter than the originals due to removing a layer of rubber originally intended to remove the need for sealant. But but but!

So now, instead of two 28MM GP5000s on 32MM depth wheels, I’ll be on 25MM GP5000S TR on the front, 30MM GP5000S TR on the back (wider tires on the back wheel are of much lesser concern because they receive the disrupted airflow from your body) with these deeper 46.5MM depth wheels. The Light Bicycle wheels are 28MM to 30MM in width.

Actual tire measurements when inflated to 80PSI (front) and 65PSI (rear) were 26.6MM for the 25MM tires and 31.1 for the 30MM tires, perfectly hitting 105% in the front.

The weight difference seems to be about 50G per tire, 100g total not accounting for the front tire difference (Going from 28MM down to to 25MM). My Roval wheelset is probably 1450-1500G. In total, maybe this is a savings of 200G.

Lighter and more aero!

If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s actually something really cool about the wheelset. It was a special gift from my wife, and this kickstarted the entire exercise of “what else should I consider changing?” The wheels are customized with a cycling graphic decal around the rim and with the names of my two sons. (The customization was about $180, everything was $1,237.14) Matching the aero spokes, the name and Light Bicycle logo stickers on the rim, and Bitex hubs are these Muc-Off Tubeless Presta Valves.

Water Bottles

Water bottles are this bulging thing that disrupt airflow as it flows around your bicycle frame. Initially, I purchased the Elite Fly 950ml (33.4 oz) bottle with the idea of using a single bottle (and bottle cage) on the seat tube, removing the downtube bottle cage. The bottle is extremely light (thin). The rationale was using a single larger water bottle on the seat tube would create less aero disruption than two bottles on the down and seat tubes because a lot of the air that gets there has already been disrupted by your spinning legs. I like to carry a lot of water (just in case) so I needed the biggest bottle I could find.

I then saw these aero bottles based on an Elite design which is no longer being produced. Instead of bulging out of your frame, they’re basically inline with it, theoretically causing less turbulence. Together, they carry about 1000ml (35 oz) of liquid. I originally saw the bottles on Aliexpress but when I saw them sold on Amazon, I decided I didn’t want to wait a month for them to arrive from China.

There are two versions of these bottles. One uses a form fitting bottle cage. The other has magnets within a rail that holds the bottle. I got the latter as I saw some random comments that the cage didn’t hold the bottle tightly. I also liked the idea of magnets, though I did wonder about the weight difference….Overall, I decided that aero was going to be more important than weight.


This one was more straight-forward. I am shorter than most people at 167CM tall (5’6). I have long legs for my size (30″ inseam) but I still don’t have “long” legs. The length of a crank determines how high and low your legs go when pedaling. A longer crank means your knees get closer to your body as you pedal up – this can cause breathing discomfort as well as knee pain. Some people like longer cranks because they produce better leverage.

I just wanted shorter cranks in order to optimize my pedaling and make it easier to breath when hunched over in aero positions. I got a new bike fit right after the switch.

Previously, I had Ultegra R8000 170MM cranks. I have now switched to Shimano 105 FC-R7000 in 160MM. But isn’t 105 heavier than Ultegra you ask? Yes, the difference in these cranksets is a whopping 39.4g / .09 lbs! So not even worth thinking about. In addition, Ultegra cranksets don’t go as short as 160MM and retail for over 180% the cost of the 105’s. The 105 crankset blends in well the with rest of the Ultegra groupset too.

Much Ado About…

Me, on the right. I posed.

It took me almost a year to actually ride all these changes and I didn’t hold back through some test ride. I did Foxy’s Fall Century in Davis, CA, 100 miles and an easy day of 3100 ft of climbing.

I enjoyed the ride, but can I really tell the difference? No. Then again, it had been a year since I rode outdoors. I suppose this is what hobby is all about. Nothing but what’s in your mind.

How Real Estate Agents and Market Experts are Failing You

Expect home price appreciation to “fall further,” Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American and author of the report said, “as the hot sellers’ market of early 2022 turns in favor of buyers.” (Marketwatch, October 22, 2022)

There’s a home one minute walk from me that recently sold for $1.2M after 5 months on the market. A couple of weeks before they listed their house this past Spring, I had closed on my new house, reasonably identical, for $1.4M.

Seeing their house close for 11% below original asking and others’ thoughts about a buyer’s market, I had feelings of guilt that I had been made a fool. During the buying process, my agent had told me of another home, slightly larger, that just sold for 1.6M a few days prior. My price was supposed to have been a steal. But…

If I had waited six months, I’d be in a buyer’s market and look at the savings I could have had. I’ve screwed myself and my family for years.

I went deeper to understand the individual economics, and it turns out this is wrong. As I write this, mortgage rates today are around 7%. Someone who buys a house (standard 20% down, 30 year term) for $1.1M today is going to pay about the same in monthly costs that I did even though their price is 23% less (the difference in down payment is ~$60K). (Use Bankrate to see this for yourself)

Anyone who pays more than $1.1M is technically paying more than me for their house. To really see if I made a big mistake, I have to see if similar homes drop below $1.1M in the near future.

This isn’t what we’re taught however. The articles above, and even the agent who sold my house (more on that below), the story is prices drop = buyer’s market, prices rise = seller’s market.

What’s being missed is the actual cost to buyers and what rising costs mean to sellers.

For both buyers and sellers, agents should be comparing house prices based on costs, almost in deflationary / inflationary terms. Your targeted X monthly spend would buy you a home at $1.1M today, $1.5M 6 months ago, and $1.7M 12 months ago.

When I listed my previous house, my agent was very optimistic it would sell for over $1.2M. This was right at the beginning of the Ukraine/USA conflict and rising interest rates. Almost immediately, we (and everyone else in the local market) were dropping prices. It ended up selling 4.5 months later for just $870K. This was an incredibly deflating experience. My agent told me interest rates are rising, this is becoming a buyer’s market, etc.

Looking back on this, what she should have said is, when we went to market the typical buyer with $X spend would be able to afford $1.2M. What that spend looks like at this moment is only $1.1M. Should we change the price to match this?

Instead, it was more like, people think this is high, they can’t afford the same level of house, no one is selling in this market, we should lower. It was vague and reactionary.

If I had been given that information, it would have been very clear what to do, and to which target I needed to reach the same type of buyer.

To show you this, using the $870K price point:

  • 7% = $5300/month
  • 6% = $4838
  • 5% = $4400
  • 4% = $3983

Paying $1.2M at 4% rates (around the time we started to sell) would be $5219/month; buying my former house now for $870K would have been around the same monthly cost as buying it for $1.2M 6 months ago.

Does this imply a buyer’s market? I argue that this is neither a buyers nor sellers market.

If I had known what was about to happen (war, economy, inflation, interest rates) around the time I was make the decision to sell, I would not have put the house on the market. I ended up suffering an expectation loss of over $300K, nearly 30%. For new sellers, who already see these rising rates, why should they sell?

In other words, if I were to sell my new home right now I am totally screwed. We’ve seen that a buyer purchasing for $1.1M right now would have been able to afford $1.4M six months ago. I can’t expect more than 1.1M for it. I can’t afford to lose money on the transaction, so I hold off and wait. Even if I got a better job that required me to move, this impact of interest rates might make it impossible for me to do so in the coming years.

Over the long term, more sellers will hold off because they can’t get a worthwhile price, even though buyers will actually be paying the same amount in monthly costs. No one wins, buyers nor sellers.

The interest rate is a friction that prevents transactions and mobility around the nation. A hot real estate market is hot for both buyers and sellers. When sellers can benefit from selling, they’re more likely to do so. It doesn’t work for just one party, at least when it comes to mortgages.

Sellers need to understand changes in actual buyer cost and the affect on their selling price. Buyers need to understand their cost and how this relates to price in the market over time. (Is a house price rise of 20% fair? That depends on what the cost was at those moments in time)