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Showing posts from August, 2016

Two Tons of Fun.

The weekend before I left for Biloxi, I carted years of accumulated debris from my house to the dump in a U-Haul truck. According to the scales, two tons of junk. This did three things:

It cleared up a lot of space. This space was promptly filled with other junk for future trips. It's a start, but the job will likely never be complete.It made me hurt. Moving that much weight was probably a bad idea, but as I won't return before the snow flies, waiting would have meant that stuff would have sat around until spring or summer, when hopefully I will be on round two. I paid for it, and spent a good bit of time in bed waiting for my shoulder to stop screaming at me. My doctor would not be pleased.It made me a little depressed. While a lot of it represented junk I just never figured out how to get rid of, some of it was hoarded stuff that I once saw as "valuable" but now realize has no actual value to anyone anymore. It was just taking up space. Some of it was outdated. Some…

Decision Point.

The first day after I was cleared by the doctor to get back on the road, I was presented with a choice in the form of a large cardboard box on my front porch.


Ride or build?


The box contained my latest project, a titanium frame. All of the parts were ready to go, set aside for just this moment. A few hours of ham-fisted wrenching and I would have a new toy to play with.


I went riding. I don't regret my decision in the least.


I can turn wrenches when it's dark. I can wrench when it's cold and raining. Despite mounting scheduling constraints, I should be able to find time to build the bike and test it out before my trip.


If all goes as planned, I'll take it with me down to Mississippi. The titanium frame should prove a better travel bike than the Storck, for a few reasons, among them:

It's easily serviceable. External cable routing. English thread bottom bracket. No exotic parts or tools required. With the Storck, a simple cable issue could involve a lot of work. With the…

Enablers.

A team mate of mine, a former elite-level athlete who is married to a world class-level athlete, shared this on Facebook the other day:
Washington Post Article by Sally Jenkins
I don't claim to have their level of perspective on competition, because no amount of doping in the world could lift me to that kind of performance. Michele Ferrari's best doping plan couldn't even put me at the front of a B-level crit. When you suck as bad as I do, there's only so much the drugs have to work with. Still, I felt the need to share my opinions with the world (as if they meant anything), because if I excel at anything, it's self-importance.

First. it's probably just me being hard-hearted, but I think Sally Jenkins should refrain from commenting on doping. She's written some good sports articles in the past, but she also helped put Lance Armstrong on the best-seller list twice, helping create the myth he hid behind for over a decade. She's been an apologist for him even…

The Paceline.

In my continuing search for the end of the internet, I stumbled across The Paceline Forum. Since most of the forums I frequent have either faded or devolved into an endless cycle of the same old topics discussed the same old way, I joined up looking for a fresh take on the subject matter.

So far, it looks like there's a healthy chunk of the active membership that could be classified as custom builder fetishists, mixed in with a bunch of people that just like to ride road bikes. Plenty of dogmatic beliefs on display that characterize all bike forums, but little of the "big man behind the keyboard" syndrome that make so many of them unbearable. People respectfully disagree, almost as if they recognize that other users are actual human beings. It's weird, and I'm not quite sure how to deal with it. It won't last. It can't last.

Other than the freakishly civil behavior, there's a very active classified section that has a lot of really nice parts. For a part…

Roadie Arms Race.

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When it comes to my bikes, I admit a certain amount of vanity. OK, a large amount of vanity. I like them to look fast just sitting there. Low and lean, with a certain aggressive air, even if the tub of lard sitting on the saddle exhibits none of those characteristics. Components that are too nice for the abilities of the driver. Like most roadies- dare I say most cyclists (even if they won't admit it publicly)- I like for my bikes to look the part.

Deep carbon wheels are a prime example. They just make a bike look faster. Since the advent of cheaper, open-mold carbon wheels, pretty much everyone can have that look on a budget. Of course, performance is another matter, because those wheels often have cheaper hubs and somewhat questionable braking characteristics. They can't roll worth a crap and won't stop worth a damn, but man, do they look cool. Slap a set of cheap carbon wheels on an entry-level road bike, slam the stem, and suddenly you have something that will impress t…

The Horse That Threw You.

I watched it carefully, making no sudden movements so as to avoid spooking it. This wasn't out of fear, but rather caution. Caution borne out of our last interaction, which didn't end up so well for me. I wanted things to go better this time around. I wanted us to be friends. This part of the ritual was delicate, where trust and faith and all of those sorts of things combine to make magical things happen. When the belief is gone, the magic goes with it. I wanted to believe again. I needed to believe again.


Since our falling out was my fault, I tried to make amends. I replaced the front derailleur and wrapped the bars with new tape, as I had shredded the old tape on the pavement. I wiped down the tubes as best as I could, and tried to double-check all of the alignments and adjustments. If I saw something that wasn't quite right in my eyes, I fixed it. Things I would have let slide before were corrected on the spot, lest they ruin the moment. I noted a small dent in the downt…

Lucky I Have Such Bad Luck.

So I came across it on Craigslist. The seller, essentially a junk dealer that picks stuff up at estate sales, auctions, and the like, had no idea what it was. I tried to set up several meetings to pick it up, did my research, and was ready to go.

It was a 2007 Giant OCR 1. A decent groupset on an entry-level frame for dirt cheap.

Drop a little money on it and sell it for a profit, or just sell it to a buddy for what I had into it. That was the plan.

Text messages flew back and forth. He still had it. I kept missing him at his shop. Finally, I caught up with him and he showed me a pile of rusty Walmart bikes and a beach cruiser. Nothing remotely resembling a road bike. Sorry about that, dude.

In retrospect, I dodged a bullet.

I have enough projects piled up in the garage waiting for my attention. I haven't finished working on the Storck and its crash-related damage. I only finished tacking together my crit bike yesterday. The new titanium frame should be in this week. The race bike h…

The More Things Change.

It's probably the same for everyone in the civilized world.

Periodically Facebook dredges up old pictures from my timeline and asks me if I want to share them again, as if anyone really cares about what I did four years ago. I barely care about what I did yesterday, and I'm one self-centered bastard. Usually the pictures are of my kids that my wife shared on my timeline, and I reflect on how cute they were when they were that age (or whatever parents do when they get old and forget how much work the kids were back then).


The picture that popped up today was of a project cyclocross bike. A cheap Nashbar disc 'cross frame and fork just out of the box. Nothing but potential. I think I sold it within a year and moved onto another 'cross bike, which I built up and then sold within a year when I realized running into trees and falling down was killing me.

I very rarely make money on project bikes, but that's not the point. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the poin…

Have A Great Ride.

This morning as I was driving to work, I couldn't help but envy all of the people I saw on bikes. Road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids... pretty much every type of bike was being ridden, with one notable exception- my bikes. I was jealous.

I go in to see the orthopedic surgeon today. he'll likely poke and prod and generally make me hurt. Like most people these days who fall down and get a booboo, I've read a bunch of articles on the internet that list widely varying timelines for how long this will take to fix itself. Not being the most patient person, I think the most optimistic estimates are still too long. I want to ride. Not on the trainer. Real riding.

We'll see what the doctor says, then ignore it.

I'm tapering myself off the drugs. Last night I substituted a couple Blue Moons for a Percocet, and was pleased with the results, although more research is required to confirm initial observations. I really don't like the way the Percocet makes me feel, but some da…

Thank You For Being Awesome.

Today I'm going to switch things up a bit and be positive.


It would have been all too easy lately to go into a deep, blue funk after the way my season has gone. From the series of child-borne illnesses I suffered this winter to the GC-killing wreck at the Tour of Fairbanks to the fractured clavicle, this year has been a rolling train wreck, complete with exploding HAZMAT boxcars dumping toxic chemicals into the main aquifer.


And yet, I feel fortunate. I feel happy. I feel relaxed from all of the opioids coursing through my body, but that's another blog post.


When I step back and think about it, I'm plugged into a whole lot of awesome. The cycling and alpine skiing communities in Alaska have a whole lot of people that work very hard to make life better for the rest of us self-centered bastards. They organize events, lobby for infrastructure, volunteer countless hours for projects, and generally try to leave things better than they found them.


I appreciate it. Even though I don&…

Equal Time.

Last week I wrote about the Olympic gold medal and approaching retirement of Fabian Cancellara. In the interest of fairness (and to avoid any Title IX litigation), I should also mention that Evelyn Stevens is also retiring at the end of the season.

If your first response is, "who?".... well, first off, you suck. Read up, you dolt. There are literally a million articles out there about her. She was one of the personalities and compelling stories that helped elevate women's professional cycling from "footnote" to "just above the footnotes". Much more needs to be done, but things are moving in a positive direction.

If Evie (I can use the overly familiar nickname because I am a super-important cycling blogger who has never had the pleasure of meeting her) was just a compelling story used in a NBC Sports "human interest" manner, I wouldn't mention her. Sorry, don't care.

However, she has the palmar├Ęs to justify the attention she's receiv…

And On The Tenth Day, He Rested.

Since I got on the trainer a few days after I bounced off the pavement, I haven't missed too many days. Two, to be exact. One of those was to watch the Tour of Anchorage crit, so I guess that can be excused. The other was something I pre-planned to avoid burning out, even though I didn't feel fatigued and really wanted to be on the bike. Usually I do six days straight on the trainer and then goof off for a day, but this time around I haven't felt the need.

I've been tracking how my body has been responding to the longer stretches of riding. My intensity has been slowly creeping up, so it would follow that my body would slowly be breaking down and require a day to bounce back. Because of the volume I was doing before I fell down, this deterioration took longer than usual. To be honest, the numbers remained steady for a while there, so I just kept climbing on the trainer.

On the ninth day of this particular stretch of workouts, I got off the bike after a particularly stren…

Why Not? Because...

After last week's rant about press-fit bottom brackets, I started thinking about what I wanted in a non-race bike. This would be a bike that would be used in the rain. It would be ridden in the early and late seasons, in less than ideal conditions. It would get packed up for flights periodically. It would probably end up locked down to the trainer for extended periods. It would have to perform reasonably well and somewhat mimic the position of my race bikes. It doesn't have to be at the pinnacle of bicycle performance, but has to be durable.

So, I came up with my list:
Frame material: Metal of some kind (steel, titanium, or aluminum). Quality metal frames generally hold up to abuse, with the nod going to ti and steel for vibration dampening. I do as many miles as I can when I travel, so a little less buzzing is always appreciated.Bottom bracket: English threaded. Period. End of discussion.Headset: While I really like tapered headsets, I'm fine with a standard 1 1/8" str…

Didn't See That Coming.

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After every ride or trainer workout, I download my data into an application. Lots of pretty charts and numbers that I have remained ignorant of by design. I don't want to geek out on the numbers, because I have a tendency to make the numbers the point instead of the riding. I like to know when the numbers are indicating a general direction things are going, but I try not to think about it too much.

To date, my philosophy on training could be best expressed thusly:
Looking at the numbers recently with my uncalibrated eye, I probably shouldn't have neglected base training so much this past winter. I would have caught on sooner if I buried myself a little deeper in the world of Training Stress Balances and Chronic Training Loads, which should be confused with how much of the "chronic" I can smoke and still train. Completely different set of numbers. The way my body reacts and recovers after a large volume block to increases in intensity tells me that I completely missed t…

Sparticus.

Yesterday I was late for work.

I was watching the Olympic men's time trial, won by Fabian Cancellara. Oh crap, I forgot to say spoilers in the title. Oh well...

Cancellara has been one of my favorite professional riders ever since he won Paris-Roubaix the first time in 2006. Fabian and Tom Boonen have pretty much dominated the cobbled Classics for more than a decade, and this year he announced he was retiring at the ripe old age of 35.

Although he was a four-time World Time Trial Champion and the 2008 Olympic Time Trial gold medalist, he was rarely mentioned as a favorite for another Olympic gold and instead was put under the heading of "these guys might have an outside chance, too".

He crushed it.

Nice way to wrap up a career.

I'll miss Cancellara. His post race comments were always entertaining and frequently confusing. His teammates lovingly referred to him as a prima-donna, who would ride for 160 miles over broken cobbles with cow shit and all sorts of unidentifiable s…

Press-Fit Fuckitude.

There are a few bicycle frame innovations I like.

For instance, tapered headsets. For a fatty like me that bring a put a lot of force on the headset in a sprint, that extra stiffness is noticeable and appreciated. It's not a large difference, especially if the fork itself is well designed, but it is noticeable. Plus, I think it looks better, and that's what matters.

At the top of the list of "innovations" I hate are press-fit bottom brackets. I just don't buy the justifications thrown out there for them.

I prefer a good old English threaded bottom bracket. They're easy to install and replace by a ham-fisted mechanic, generally don't creak until they're worn out, and are stiff enough that your average amateur racer will never know the difference. If the crank spindle is the same diameter in the press-fit and threaded bottom bracket, then the only difference is in the bearing size. If you can tell the difference between the two, then you can probably feel…

You Be The Judge.

By the time you read this, I will have logged over 3,000 "miles" on Zwift, all in the dank confines of my garage.

I will have "climbed" nearly 170,000 feet.


I will have spent over 145 hours on the trainer looking at a virtual version of myself who never seems to sweat.

I started on Zwift about ten months ago.

I've also done some real-life riding in that time, getting in about 3,500 miles on actual pavement. Well, probably only about 50 feet of it were on pavement, with the rest being on my bike. If it weren't for the frequency of me laying down on the job, that number would have been closer to 4,000 miles by now. Once back on the road at the end of this month (fingers crossed), thanks to an extended visit to the very flat state of Mississippi I will probably hit 4,500 to 5,000 road miles by mid-November.

I don't count trainer "miles" or "vertical", but I generally count the hours. I don't spend a whole lot of time with internet forum …

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I could hear it when I woke up.

I could hear it as I kitted up.

I could hear it as I tried to find the end of the internet on my computer.

I could hear it as I got on the trainer, until the road of the LeMond Revolution trainer drowned it out.

The sound of steady rain.

Being confined to a stationary trainer isn't quite as bad when the alternative is a very soggy ride in the mid-50s. It's not like I wouldn't opt for a squishy ride outside if I had the choice, but conditions like these take the sting out of it somewhat.

Instead, I tried to beat arbitrary times up imaginary climbs or sprinted for virtual jerseys. I ended up soaked anyway, but from inside out instead of outside in. Some things you just can't avoid unless you stop playing altogether. That's not an option for me right now. Stopping will let the fat catch back up, wasting all of the effort I put in trying to get away.

Cutting back on the NSAIDs and opioids is something I've been trying to do lately, and the …

Start 'Em Young.

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All of my kids have nice bikes. Bike shop-quality bikes that stay aligned, roll well, and don't weigh as much as a F-350. No Walmart bikes for my kids. Even the cheapest bikes in the inventory were bike-shop bikes purchased off of Craigslist, rebuilt from the ground up, and passed from child to child. I'd rather make the experience as pleasant as possible for them so that perhaps they will continue riding even when they have other means of transportation at their disposal.

In my enthusiasm to ensure a great start to what I hope will be a long relationship with cycling, I bought the two-year-old a Trek Trikester before he could walk. That was another Craigslist find, because I couldn't justify paying full retail ($200) for a tricycle, but I can't deny that I was tempted. When it popped up, I jumped on the opportunity, getting in a fender bender in the process. It wasn't my fault, but I was in the wife's car with the children in the back seat, so momma-bear was le…

The Douchebag Way.

Sprinting is a combination of well-timed, high-intensity, short-duration power and positioning. Two things. That's pretty much all there is to it.

The first is easy enough. You train to maximize whatever sprinting potential is contained in your DNA. Repeated all-in efforts with a little recovery/vomiting in between them until your legs fall off. Training for explosive efforts, designed to create separation or enable you to come out of a draft just before the line. As much as it sucks, it's actually the easy part.

The hard part is positioning. Picking that one wheel to follow to the finish that will provide you with the best launching pad. Assessing over the course of the race who is likely going to be well-positioned when the line is approaching. Calculating how far back to be in the last minutes of the race, fighting to not get pushed off of your chosen wheel, abandoning your lead-out man when a better option presents itself, avoiding getting boxed in... all of those sorts of d…

Sometimes I Forget.

This morning I woke up at 4:30AM, stumbled around for a while, popped an excessive amount of Motrin (Vitamin M), put on the cycling kit I had set out the night before, sat down at the computer, browsed a few websites, and waited for the drugs to kick in.

An hour of Zwift went well. I've been slowly adding intensity, although my sprint efforts are seated and light years from my peak. I can't really engage my upper body, but I do get the heart rate up and generate significant pools of sweat on the concrete.

I cooled off while I uploaded my workout file and browsed eBay for things I don't need but really, really want. I may be broken, but I'm still me. Once the sweating stopped (seems to have increased since the injury- drugs?), I jumped in the shower and got ready for work, slapping a big Lidocaine patch over my shoulder. The cool seeped in, and I was feeling relatively fine.

The commute went well, but as I pulled up to the gate I accidentally handed the gate guard my ID ca…

The Middle Men.

Thanks to the efforts of handful of people, most notably Justin Neff and Dave Henke from the Beaded Stream team (although the efforts of Revolution Racing and Alaska Velo Sport can't be ignored), the number of female riders has increased significantly this year- especially in the lower and middle categories. These ladies have been mixing it up all season. I'm not sure the exact voodoo Dave and Justin used, or what lucky set of circumstances led to this, but it's something I want to see continue. 

When women see a pack of their peers out there competing, they're less intimidated to jump in and give it a shot. While I can think of a zillion things more intimidating than a bunch of men in spandex riding bikes, I can see where not all women want to jump in the middle of that testosterone-fueled environment. Whatever it is that makes women feel more comfortable jumping into a road race, I want to promote. I bet if you polled every male racing the Tour of Anchorage this year,…

Too Much and Too Little.

As much as I hate to admit it out loud, I've made things worse since the Tour of Fairbanks.

Not the clavicle.

The knee.

The nagging, persistent, and slowly increasing pain in my left knee finally got to the point I couldn't shout it down anymore. In the middle of an otherwise unremarkable workout on the trainer, the ache got to the point that I had to sit up and spin for the remainder of the session. I just couldn't ignore the reality of the situation.

I dun gived muhself tendonitis.

Before the wreck on June 9th, I stretched fairly regularly. After June 9th? Not so much. I started cranking out the miles, increasing the volume while I was in Virginia for three weeks. There were too many miles of good pavement to back off for a little pain.

My tendons got tighter.

Yeah, the knee ached here and there. I generally ignored it until something hurt more, at which point it was effectively masked.

Then I wrecked and broke the collarbone.

Stretching was not a priority, because my normal rout…