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Showing posts from March, 2016

Full of Win.

I start every project bike with high expectations. As the parts get duct taped and super-glued to the frame, everything is still bright, shiny, and bursting with potential. I can envision this new bicycle carrying me to glory and ever higher levels of esteem within the local racing community.

Full of Win.
Then something strange happens. The first time I throw a leg over the top tube, a little bit of that Winstarts leaking out. Every mile I put on that frame allows just that little bit more of the Win to find its way out of the bike. Eventually a bike that spends too much time under my heaving carcass is depleted of Win, and is relegated to rainy and early/late season rides.

This theory is my justification for owning so many bikes and constantly refreshing the fleet. Something about how I sit on a bike and turn the pedals causes the Win to exit at a higher rate than with the comparable riders that are dropping me. I can only assume the massive amount of wattage I produce causes mic…

Why Would Anyone Want To Do It?

Look at the recent headlines:
Oregon rider dies in collegiate road race in WashingtonDaan Myngheer dies from heart attackAntoine DemoitiĆ© dies following Gent-Wevelgem crash41-year-old gets four-year ban for steroidsWho is Thorfinn-Sassquatch? The mysterious case of a Los Angeles Strava legendAge-group cyclist fails doping test at LAMBRA championships The takeaway? You're likely to get killed when participating in a sport that's infested with dopers. First it was the professionals that doped to get results and get paid. Then it was the elite amateurs that doped so they could become professionals and then presumably dope at a higher level. Then it was the pathetic Masters racers trying to gain some glory (as if anyone was watching), a pair of socks, or, if they were dedicated enough, a state/national championship jersey that wouldn't fit. There are even guys who dope for charity rides, gran fondos, or other "non races". In the age of social media, guys like Brandt-So…

Will You Take a Check?

Image
Like a moth to flame, I made a beeline to Speedway to get a look at the new Fatback Haul Road prototypes.

Taped headset, through axles, disc brakes, threaded bottom bracket, room for 40c tires...

Yeah, I may end up living in a van down by the river, but I want one. I have no idea how much it will cost or which organs I will have to sell, but I want one.

It could be the anticipation of the upcoming season influencing me. The pictures of the competition out on the roads on 'cross bikes. The ski season that never seemed to hit its stride.

Fortunately, since the bike is still in development, I have time to talk myself off the ledge...

...or to start buying parts.

No Time to Blog.

Thursday I had better things to do than write a new post for Friday.

I got out on the road earlier than I had and did pretty much the same route I'd done for the previous days. I added a loop at the distant end, which was pretty much a continuation of the same theme. Now and again I passed small groups of riders, and the same twinge of envy ran through me. My first inclination was to do a quick u-turn and link up with them, but each time I would evaluate the group and decide to pass. None of them were what I would call "sporty", and my intrusion would likely disrupt the group cohesion. I'm not the fastest rider out there, but I've been "that guy" before, and it's not a role I prefer.

I continued on my way, until a suitably aggressive group charged by. A quick check of the sun's position told me I had time for some fun, so I did a quick u-turn and caught them just as the group dissolved and the majority of the riders dispersed into their various ne…

Bonus!

Because I'm such a nice guy, here's a bonus entry:

Tonight I found a little slice of heaven. In San Antonio. Weird.

Let me lay it out for you as plainly as possible-
A comprehensive list of German beers on tap, served in half-liter and liter mugs. For a lightweight like me, that's a considerable amount of beer, and because it was good beer I felt obligated to drink the full liter faster than I likely should have.Giant pretzel. Nuff said.Two bratwurst, split down the middle and grilled, smothered in sauteed onions and cheese sauce, served on a pretzel bun. Like my culinary idol, Anthony Bourdain, I consider meat in tube form to be the ultimate expression of man's purpose on Earth. To have it laid out for me in such a awesome way that will ultimately lead to an aftermath of regret is beyond perfection.Unlike the Freds that write into Road Bike Action magazine's pointless, page-filling "why we ride" section, I don't ride for anyone else. I don't ride be…

Thwarted by the Mundane.

Tonight my ride was cut short.

It wasn't a tornado, a rattlesnake, a flash flood, a rouge steer, a redneck in a lifted truck, or any of the other dangers that I imagined as I rode tonight.

It wasn't even a cactus needle.

Nope, it was a small sliver of glass that did me in.

Ten miles into my ride, I felt my rear tire slowly go mushy. Even before I removed the tire, I found the shard of beer bottle glass wedged in the tread. I pulled it out, removed the tire, found the pin hole, and felt the inside of the tire for another sharp object. Finding none, I repaired the tube, inflated the tire, and got back on the road.

Ten miles later, I felt the rear tire slowly mush out again. This time I pulled the tire, again found no sharp objects, but replaced the tube with a new one just in case. Back on the road, I decided to cut it short because the sun was already grazing the horizon. I shorted my planned ride about 10 miles, but I figured I was done for the day. No need to kill myself.

For the s…

Still Here.

I had a text message exchange with Chris Knott last night about how riding conditions were yesterday and whether he should bring a road bike or a fatbike when he came down. Thinking he was doing a business trip, I said road bike and mentioned that I hadn't seem much terrain that would require a fatbike in the area and that the cactus might be an issue. Eventually I realized he thought I was in Anchorage, where as far as I know there's still snow and ice on the ground.

Nope, I'm still lost in San Antonio.

I am starting to work out some decent road routes that only take 5 hours to get out of the downtown area and away from traffic (about a mile as the crow flies).

Last night I fought the wind one way, pushing hard and creeping along. I looked down I was a bit concerned that my power was a bit on the low side, but realized that since I had forgotten a heart rate meter my calibration was likely off due to the change in temperature. Yeah, that's it.

As I rode into the wind, a s…

I Suck at Cities.

I'm usually fairly good at navigating. Give me a landmark or two, and I can usually find my way around well enough I don't burn a tank of gas and a lot of time in the process.

Living in Anchorage has spoiled me. Mountains are east, inlet is west. Hit one or the other (or look up and notice them), and you have a pretty good idea of what direction you're facing. The road can curve and wind around all it wants, but those two landmarks are pretty much constant.

In San Antonio, I've spent a considerable amount of time going down the wrong road. Even with a skyscraper landmark and a completely visible sun, I still manage to end up on dead-end streets in the worst parts of town, dressed in my very sexiest lycra. I even have a GPS bike computer with maps, and I still manage to waste a whole lot of time meandering around.

Sooner or later I'll figure out a route that will get me where I want to go in a reasonable amount of time. Where I really want to go is as far from San Anto…

Tardy Again.

So, after probably the most uncomfortable series of flights I've ever endured (thanks American Airlines!), I find myself in San Antonio. My back in knots, I threw together my bike in a semi-sufficient manner and meandered around the streets looking for a route that wouldn't result in my death at the hands of a Texan driver. I eventually settled on the MUT that starts as the Riverwalk near the Alamo and heads south towards some missions I really wasn't interested in. What I was interested in was finding a way to get away from humanity, which seems to be in abundance around here. As someone who hates people as a rule, I was glad to see the numbers thin out as I went. 

If it wasn't for the curious phenomenon they have here called darkness during what I would term warm weather, I would have kept going. It seems the locals disagree with my characterization, as they were bundled up like it was cold or something. I think I even saw a couple parkas, although that might have bee…

Lacking Kick.

Last night I planned on getting on the bike.

I didn't.

Instead, I kitted up early this morning and shuffled down to the garage. I haven't done more than a handful of pre-dawn workouts this year, so my movements while I was still waking up weren't as automatic as they have been in the past. Still, I started cranking away and little by little my mind caught up with my body. Looking at the numbers, it wasn't a bad workout. My peak power wasn't as high as it has been, but sustained sprinting power was in the ballpark. Between eye-bleeding efforts, my average power wasn't too bad either. Like I said, the numbers said it was a pretty good workout.

Numbers don't tell the whole story.

After a winter of repeated-yet-futile efforts to lose weight, I've added a couple of pounds. A near-weekly routine of sharing illnesses with my toddler has beat me down. Stresses at work have me crawling between the sheets in the afternoon for a nap instead of immediately jumping on t…

I Can't Even Scream Profanities Into the Wind.

Justice is dead.

I'll let Madisen Dusenbury Shannon explain, because I'm at a loss for words:


"It is with great disappointment that I'm sharing with our friends and the community that Superior Court Judge William Morse has granted Alexandra Ellis credit for the time she spent in an adolescent treatment center. This means that Ellis will NOT serve some 254 days of her 1 year sentence. Instead, she will serve a very modest 60-90 days for killing my dad.

It is an understatement to say that my mom and I are exhausted from the battle we have fought for the last year and a half. Our experience with this entire case has obviously been eye-opening and disturbing. Since Ellis has been charged, we have been treated unfairly by the judicial system and most of the "players" involved. Since her arrest there has been a deference to Ellis' needs over everyone else, including my father - the victim. Yet still the hardest part of it all is watching my father's killer, …

Cyclical Meh.

Lately it's been a lot of ups and downs.

Some days I tear the crank arms off the bike with my my fearsome displays of unrestrained wattage (graded on a curve, of course). The next day I can barely get out of bed. Then I'm back up and rolling, only to be knocked down by a general feeling of "I couldn't give a shit".

Figures.

On the upside, the roads are clearing and some of the braver roadies are already out there. Sooner or later I'll muster up the courage to join them.

First, though, I have a trip down to San Antonio for a few days of dodging tourists on Multi-Use Trails and close calls with Texas drivers on city roads.

Well, it beats the trainer.

I'm looking forward to it, because warm, dry air is probably exactly what I need right about now. I'll probably melt in the temperatures that could soar into the mid-80s, while the temperatures in Anchorage will probably peak at half that.

Suck it, Anchorage.

Sorry, that's probably the random drugs talking. Wha…

Slowly Sinking In.

The reality of my latest purchase has started to sink in, and there, mixed in with the sense of remorse and frantic shuffling of finances so the wife won't notice, is a glimmer of why I buy all of this crap:

Overly-Ambitious and Completely Impractical PlansTM
Since I was already planning on rebuilding the race bike, this gives me a chance to have a quiver of narrowly-focused bicycles. No longer will I have to suffer and ride the same bike in hill climbs, crits, time trials, or road races, because I will have a different one specifically configured for each discipline. I will still be slow and painfully inept, but I will look "Pro"at the


start line, which is what really matters. I'll be dropped before the first turn, but for those few seconds the uninitiated will look upon me in all of my glory with awe. Sure, that awe will turn to befuddlement, stifled giggles, open mockery, and finally pity, but at least I'll get my moment. With my existing quiver of far-too-many-b…

Idiot.

Friday's post was all about me having monolithic quivers of bikes and skis. The bright point in the post was that I might actual diverge from my current trend and buy a pair of skis that was somewhat different than all of the others, expanding the capabilities and ski gene pool in my garage.

I made inquiries about shipping (as is prudent when you live in Alaska), and it all went south from there. The shipping quoted would have been almost as expensive as the skis, making the whole transaction much less desirable than it once appeared. I opted out.

To soothe my bruised consumption instincts, I casually browsed through familiar territory. I was all to aware of the peril I faced, but I foolishly pushed on. Deeper and deeper I dove into the pile of treasures, casting aside the chaff as I found one gem after another that I couldn't live without.

Yeah, I was on eBay again.

Yeah, I was in the bicycle frames section again.

Yeah, I ended up bidding on and winning another frame.

Yeah, I reall…

One Trick Ponies.

I have several pairs of skis. Some would say a lot of skis, but those people don't know what they're talking about.

Thing is, they're all variations on the same theme.

The skis are all narrow-waisted race-oriented or outright race-stock models. Stiff, precise, unforgiving skis that are designed to go fast around plastic poles. Some are made for big turns, some for short turns, and some for in between. Hand-built, sandwich-construction, with binding release ranges from partial ACL tear to traumatic amputation. Serious skis for serious racer types. Problem is, I don't do much racing anymore.

I mainly ski around with a bunch of pre-teens, looking for bumps. jumps, steeps, and other fun stuff to develop their skills on. My race-stock slaloms are often completely out of their element, and require a lot of work to manhandle around the hill. While they're more versatile than my other racing skis, they're not what I would call the right tool for the job.

I have several bik…

Playing the Back Nine.

Saturday night I twisted to the side reaching for a light switch and felt a sharp snap run up and across my upper back. It was so unexpected that I think I peed a little when it happened. I stretched my back out and everything seemed to sort itself back into some semblance of normalcy. I chalked it up to one of the joys of getting old. I skied all Sunday, getting on the bike twice. No problems. Isolated event.

Yesterday afternoon the same muscle started jumping around like crazy, which wasn't pleasant. After an hour or so of this it gets a little irritated and fatigued, and makes life a bit unpleasant for the rest of the body. I popped 40,000mg of Motrin (better safe than sorry- can never have too much Vitamin M), stretched out on the bed, and found a contorted position that would allow my back to calm down. Hours later, I got up to cook dinner for the kids, then retreated back to my personal Cirque du Soleil.

My wife could tell each time it would seize up, because my normally long,…

Trainer Kit.

I have a rack of cycling kit in the downstairs bathroom. Hangers loaded with hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of lycra. I have bins of stuff I rotate in as the trainer season ends and the road season starts. Mostly I wear team kit during the road season. What I wear on the trainer varies greatly.

A lot of it is worn out and socially unacceptable. I inflict it upon my family because it makes me giggle, but also because I know what it originally cost and am too cheap to throw anything away until it grinds my lady parts into hamburger. Some of it is old team kit from previous sponsors. Some of it is replicas of professional team kit. Some is unbranded stuff I bought when I was new to cycling.

Yesterday I advertised a Belgian flooring company to the family and the mice that inhabit the trainer dungeon. Today I pimped a certain letter-carrying super-domestique doper's clothing line. Tomorrow it will be an old team sponsor that would probably appreciate my translucent bib shorts even…

No Crystal Ball.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but yesterday's post was written Saturday. I know you, my Micronesian readers, picture me hunched over the keyboard late every night, churning out the words before finally hitting "publish" at 2:00AM exactly.

Actually, a lot of posts are written days, if not weeks, ahead of time. If there's no pressing need to match a specific post to a certain time frame, some marinate in storage for a while until I get around to putting them out there. When my life gets busy, I can burn through a lot of marinated posts until things calm down.

Sunday I didn't go to the Dome to ride around in circles with the rest of the frustrated roadies. I got an hour of extra sleep instead, figuring I was in for a long day at Alyeska. I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of skiing through whiteout conditions on marginal snow. I spent an hour on the trainer, then rushed to get the daughter ready and on the road.

As I drove down the Seward Highway, I noticed there w…

Not Done With Us Yet.

Friday it snowed a little.

The roads were almost clear of the remaining ice and runoff. I was starting to seriously consider taking the bike out for a short spin.

Friday dumped just enough wet snow on the remaining ice to cause massive carnage on south-central Alaska's highways and sent my dreams of clear pavement back to bed for a while. The temperature dropped just enough to keep it hanging around longer than it deserved to. A meaningless little snow in Anchorage threw everything further out of whack during a year that has been nothing but whack.

I hope it goes away soon. I would have welcomed this a month or four ago, but now the joke is a bit tired. Downtown Anchorage roads are covered with snow brought down in train cars from Fairbanks for the ceremonial Iditarod start. We had to import snow for a dogsled race. Sad.

Tomorrow the Mighty Mites have a race, and I hope we're not faced with the knee-wrenching snow we had last week. I hope the kids have fun and come out more or les…

Trying to Roll Over.

I slapped the alarm clock a millisecond after some '80s rock song blared from its speakers, quickly enough to prevent the melody from being imprinted on my mind all day. The plan was to get up at 4:15AM and ride the trainer. I say was because it took about three seconds of careful deliberation before I decided to use the hour for attempted sleep instead.

I was occupying about 8 inches of the bed, with the remainder being dominated by the hell-spawn and my lovely wife. Any attempt to readjust my precarious position resulted in furious kicking and general disapproval from the child. I found a less-offensive orientation to all those concerned and tried to get back to sleep. Level of success achieved is debatable.

I'll climb on the bike this afternoon.

My wife is going on a scrapbooking retreat (mostly involves drinking) this weekend, so I may have a little more room in the bed. Hopefully this will lead to less eating.

According to a study that I heard about on NPR while driving to wo…

Failing to Recover.

This week is a recovery week.

After blowing off multiple workouts last week, I don't feel like I deserve it. I feel burnt out, but it has little to do with the bike. I know that fatigue is fatigue, but I still feel the urge to "make up" for the lost training time. So far I'm trying to follow the plan, because I really would like some energy back. A persistent "meh" is about the best I can muster, and the lows are depressing.

Meanwhile, teammate Tim Bernston just won the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350, becoming one of four people ever to have completed the course on a bike in under 2 days. Fairbanks genetic freak Tyson Flaharty finished second and Clint Hodges rounded out the podium.

Joey Bacala just completed a series of strong showings at Lower 48 stage races to earn enough points to upgrade to an USAC Cat 1 roadie.

Jamey Stull just earned the Masters 40-49 stars and stripes jersey at Fat Bike Nationals. Will Ross was in the mix in a very stacked Open/Pro fie…

Sneak Attack.

Last night I told myself I would sit down and write a blog entry for today after I got off the trainer, hoping that inspiration would strike as I sweated.

It didn't.

I didn't get on the bike until later, at a time when I should have been contemplating setting the alarm clock and trying to ignore the glow from and near-constant ding! my wife's iPhone as I drifted off to sleep. Instead, I kitted up and clomped out to the garage for a tepid hour on the trainer. When I was finished, I was truly finished, and a shower was all that separated me from sleepy time. Sometimes you have to prioritize, and my Micronesian readers would just have to deal with the delay.

Jotting down a few words doesn't sound all that time consuming, but I was actually planning ahead for the inevitable. While the toddler was snoring away in his own little bed, snuggled under multiple fleece blankets, I knew this was temporary, designed to lull me into complacency so he could strike.

At 4:00 AM he launched…

Bar Tape.

I have my own preferences on handlebar tape.
It can be any color, as long as it's black. Judging by the varieties of colors present at the local bike shops, some people really like matching their bar tape to their bike. I am not one of those people, unless the bike happens to be black. I just picked up a set of SRAM Red shifters with lime green hoods, which will be replaced as soon as possible with suitable black hoods to better match the bar tape. Black tape doesn't display road/body funk as much as other colors, so the illusion of proper maintenance and hygiene can be presented. This all falls apart once the bar tape starts to stink, but for a while you still appear respectable. White bar tape is the equivalent of white bib shorts, and should be banned by all sanctioning bodies.Cork. I've tried all sorts of materials and configurations, but your standard cork bar tape (right now I use SRAM) wraps well, provides a reasonable amount of grip, and provides a built-in stink ti…