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Showing posts from April, 2015

Group Fun

Last night I was able to show up for the Speedway group ride. We usually only have a few road rides in the spring, before the trails dry out and my mostly-MTB team heads for the single track. I'd missed the first couple rides for illness and daddy duty, but I was very happy to be able to make this one.

I managed to get in a ride after work to ensure I was going to be suitably fatigued for the group ride later that night. I did a set of VO2max intervals to give myself a handy excuse in case I got dropped. I was primed.

The group was fairly large by our standards, and we kept the pace conversational as we wound our way through miles of bike trails. Once we got to a place where we had a little room to open it up a little, my front tire slipped on some gravel and into a grate. That resulted in a slow leak that shortly thereafter made my tire a little too soft, so I gave everyone a nice break while I gave a master class in slow flat fixing. The new tube was eventually installed, and we c…

Negative Nancy

I was just reviewing the last year or so of blog posts, and I couldn't help but notice the overall mood is pretty bleak. Sprinkled here or there are little glimmers of hope, but they're usually followed by a smack down or an extended period when I don't post.

A couple of years ago I was on a high (for me). I'd lost a bunch of weight, was racing well (for me), and was determined to keep the good times rolling. I failed. I gained the weight back and began a string of disappointing finishes or non-finishes.

This is odd, because riding a bike makes me feel better. I solve all of the world's problems during a ride. I scream profanities at the wind and work out all of the day's tensions, instead of taking them out on my family. I ride that endorphin rush for all it's worth, and it's glorious.

Some people would say that the problem is that I tie my standards of success or failure too much to how I measure up against others, that competition is the problem. I sho…

What I Expected, But Not What I Wanted

I knew I wasn't going to do well in the time trial, but I entered it anyway. As I got to the bottom of my antibiotics bottle, I knew it was time to start pushing myself again. I wasn't expecting much, after weeks of putting around at a mid-range pace. I didn't get a lot.

The night before I took the TT bike down. Bugs and dirt were still encrusted on it from the last time I rode it, during last year's disappointing Tour of Anchorage. I just wasn't enthusiastic about cleaning it up. I usually get hyper-excited in the weeks leading up to a new race season, but this year I am off my usual pace in more ways than one. So I took the bike outside and gave it a half-hearted scrub, so at least I wouldn't catch any diseases from it during the race. I packed up the car with a random assortment of race day goodies I usually don't need, plus a road bike in case I wanted to do a little extra riding while I was down there.

The weather was nice enough on race day, if a bit ch…

A Case of the I Don't Wannas

It happens every year.

When I finally am released from the trainer dungeon and can ride on actual pavement, my hours on the bike take a big jump. While the number of hours I'm actually riding is fairly pedestrian, an increase of 30-50% takes a bit for the body to get used to. I rarely ease into it during my annual spring euphoria, and eventually it gets to the point that the body cries uncle. This spring, thanks to the sinus infection, that point came a little earlier. It's not that I don't want to ride. I really do. It's just my body takes a bit more convincing.

Yesterday I had to ease into my ride, bargaining with my body that if it would get out there and turn over the pedals, we wouldn't have to push all that hard. I started slowly, then worked my way into a sustainable effort, instead of my usual, counterproductive hammering from the gun. It seemed to work, and although that overall physical sense of "meh" returned later that night, at least I got out…

The Waste Land

The Waste Land, by T.S. Elliot, opens with the line "April is the cruelest month". To be honest, I really can't stand poetry. This is probably because I'm not smart enough, in touch with my feelings, or have some other deficiency in that regard. I'm just not built that way.

However, in this case I can completely agree with ol' T.S.

Sunday I shed my jackets and arm warmers for the first time, basking in the balmy 50F air. The forehead-pounding headwind made it a bit chilly, but I enjoyed the chance to shed a few layers and show everyone on the road just what 20 excess pounds looks like in skin-tight lycra.

Monday I bounded out of my cave-like workplace ready to do it all over again. I was promptly smacked in the face by big, wet snowflakes. It wasn't sticking to the still-warm ground, but with the temperatures hovering just above freezing and the wet roads, I decided to the garage to grind out a workout while watching Stein Devolder win the 2009 Ronde van Vla…

Selective Memory

I remember the races I did well in far better than those I turned into a junk show.

Sure, I can remember the moment when it all became too painful to hang on and I got dropped, but the time leading up to that point is a blank. I know it sucked, but I can't come up with a mental image of just how much it sucked. It's a blank.

I suppose it's because when I'm at the point of breaking, chewing on the stem cap just to stay with the pack, my mind is more concentrated on survival functions than on making Kodak moments.

The one exception is the 2nd stage of the 2012 Tour of Fairbanks, which is (so far) the hardest day I've ever spent on a bike. Our small Sport class started with the Masters on the over-and-back Fox to Chatanika road race, and a couple of the wily and skinny Masters decided to fry some legs on the way up the mountain. One moment I was in the paceline, chugging up the hill, and the next I had to pull over because I started to black out and was seeing stars. Fo…

Pushing a Boulder Uphill

Yesterday I took my brand new 2008 Cannondale System Six out for a ride after work. Since I had bailed on riding the day before, the cycling gods saw fit to punish me with a 30-50mph headwind. One of the curious things about this particular route is that the wind is channeled so that this time of year heading any direction except south puts you into a headwind. So, for the vast majority of the ride, I was not moving fast. At one point, I saw that I was putting out over 300 watts on a flat section of road and only going 13 MPH. Now I know I'm not the most aerodynamic of riders, and my Cda approaches that of a barn door, but even I find that sort of ratio kinda disheartening. The only thing you can do at this point is put your head down, focus on the effort, and remind yourself what wonderful training this turned out to be.

When I finally turned and got what was more or less a tailwind, all grievances were forgiven. That's the way it works sometimes. Unfortunately, this period of…

Mother #@$%&!

So, I start building up the Storck, and it has a press-fit bottom bracket and internal cable routing, two "innovations" I'm not exactly a fan of when it comes to wrenching on bikes. The routing of the cables on this frame is infinitely more complex than on a carbon frame, because the cables go through small holes drilled in the bottom bracket shell. You have to fish the rear derailleur cable through a small hole, down the down tube, through a hole in the bottom bracket shell, through another hole in the shell, down the chain stay, and out to the back to the rear derailleur. Full-length cable housing, that hangs up on every junction and weld. It's not a quick job.

Then I pressed in the bottom bracket, making sure I had the cable housing routed above it as the instructions specified. That caused an excessive bend in the cable housing, which meant the cable wouldn't move. Kinda defeats the purpose.

I borrowed the proper removal tool from the awesome guys at Speedway C…