Showing posts from June, 2017

Pardon Our Mess.

I took the corner at the same speed as I always do in preparation for the hill that follows it. The squeal of brake pads on carbon rims signaled my frantic attempts to slow so I could miss the "trail closed" sign and orange fencing.

That short segment of bike trail has been falling apart for a long time. The creek had eaten away at it. Bulges, cracks, and other deformities made negotiating it a challenge, especially if there was anyone else on the trail at the same time. It had been that way so long I had kinda gotten used to it. I thought they'd never fix it.

Now they are.

My detour led me down the main trail. This particular trail follows a creek along soft, marshy ground, because that's obviously the most stable surface they could find in the immediate area. Like most bike trails in the area, they didn't do much in the way of prep when they laid the path. Run a dozer through the woods, sprinkle a handful of gravel on the mud, and start laying down asphalt. In a f…

Fixing It.

Our society is disposable. When something is a little worn, broken, or slightly outdated, our first inclination is to throw it away and buy a new one.

I'm not immune to this. Despite working for most of my life in a business of fixing things, I still grasp for a new, shiny thing when something isn't as pretty as it once was or no longer operates as it did when it was new.

For instance, cycling shoes. Last year in the Tour of Fairbanks, when I went down in the Prologue, I scuffed my shoe on the pavement. No big deal, but it cut the stitching at the toe, which progressively unraveled over the season. By this spring, there was a small flap sticking out. I started looking for replacements, which weren't easy to find in my size. The ones that were available cost more than I was willing to pay.

Then I thought about it.

Otherwise perfectly serviceable shoes except for this one flap. If only there was somebody out there in this great big world that fixed shoes. Some of these trades ha…


I woke up one morning, intending to bring the newly-rebuilt Madone 5.2 Pro to work with me so I could give it a solid test ride afterwards. Maybe play around with handlebar positioning or just enjoy a creak-free experience for a change.

Then, as the grogginess finally faded, I heard the rain. I meandered over to the window and confirmed what I already knew- the Madone would be staying home that day. It's just not as suited to the abuses of a wet ride as the titanium bike is. There are very good reasons why I have a rain bike, and my view from the window ticked off just about every one of them.

Anchorage is getting to the part of the year where traditionally a rain bike just makes sense. The beautiful and progressively warmer weather of May and June sucker you in with promises of great days to come, and then July and August hit you square in the face with cooler temperatures, overcast skies, and light rain that seems to linger for days. I should qualify that, because the last couple …

Extra Rest.

Lately I've been taking more rest days than I used to.

I used to take one every week or so, whether I felt tired or not. I had them programmed into the plan, usually right after a series of progressively harder days. The squiggly graph lines on Training Peaks would trend upwards for a week, then drop when I'd take a rest day. Then I'd start again. If I worked harder, each week's squiggly line would be slightly higher on the graph than the last. Moving that trend upwards usually was result of a lot of work.

If I wanted it to trend downwards, all I had to do was take a day off. Do nothing. Skip a couple days and the line would plummet. The more days off, the more hard work was negated. At least, that's what the squiggly lines told me.

Sometimes I want the numbers to drop, because I need a break. Maybe it's winter and the amount of trainer time required to maintain those sorts of numbers don't appeal to me. I have a seasonal cyclical thing going on with my squigg…

Falling in Love Again.

I'm a faithless bike whole.

I flit from one pretty frame to the next, casting aside the tried and true for another shapely bit of carbon, rarely finding the lasting connection that will keep me from wandering.

The exception to this has been my Madone 5.2 Pro. I bought it on a whim, a used frame off of Craigslist. The price was reasonable, and although I already had more than enough completely serviceable bikes, I really liked the way it looked. I built it up, and from the first ride I was hooked. It responded how I thought a bike should, but didn't beat me up on longer rides. I'd long shied from Treks and Madones in particular because, Lance. However, this particular bike spoke to me in a way that even today sets the standard all other bikes I ride are measured against.

I finally got to ride the bike after a a long and frustrating day at work. Events conspired to keep me longer than planned, killing my intended after-work stress relief ride. I walked outside into a beautiful …

Musical Chairs.

As I was tripping over stuff in the garage and finding new excuses to buy stuff on eBay, I also made a note to do something about my Storck. As I mentioned Monday, Fathers Day was when I got around to starting the project. I could have followed my usual pattern of waiting until the last possible moment, which would have been a cold day in October. I probably would have been all kitted up before I realized that the bike was in pieces, and another bike would have been called into service. The Storck likely would have spent the winter on a pile of old wheel boxes while the replacement bike took the trainer abuse. Instead, I decided to get ahead of it and swap drivetrains with a couple hours of my precious free time.

I haven't ridden it on the road in almost a year, since the day its chain slipped off of the big ring and I was thrown over the handlebars. On the flight home TSA put a nice dent in the downtube that shaded in the cloud hanging over that particular bike, and I started cast…

Mid-Season Delusion Reset.

I'm one of those guys that has a certain over-inflated perception of myself and my abilities. I have this concept of where I fit in the big scheme of things which may or may not have any basis in reality. Inevitably I run into something or a series of somethings that cause me to re-assess. This year, thanks to nearly a month off the bike and a couple SoCal criteriums, my delusions are in a state of flux.

Swimming in a small pond, you never really know where stand among the larger population of fish. Occasionally you'll get a rider that competes outside, giving you a slight sense of perspective, but you never really know until you line up yourself and see how it goes.

On the surface, my results out in the great big world are anything but encouraging. Seventh in a Cat 5 crit and 5th in a Cat 4/5 crit aren't ProTour-level finishes. However, once I put them into context, they didn't look so bad. I can look at this from a couple directions:
I was cooked. Days of walking (gasp!…

Off The Wagon.

I'd been good for the last four or five days. I went to the meetings, made lists of all I was thankful for, and tried to occupy myself with meaningful pursuits. But then I couldn't restrain my urges any longer.

I got back on eBay.

The first time was for new (to me) pedals. I usually stay away from top-tier components, because they typically cost twice as much as the next tier down and last half as long. So, I had Shimano 105 pedals on most of my bikes and a set of Ultegras as my extra-special set. They pretty much worked as advertised, and I abused the crap out of them.

Then I bought my first set of Dura Ace pedals. These were the 7800 models. Actually, they were thrown in with my Madone 5.2 Pro frame, so I didn't actually buy them. The plastic inserts were worn, but $10 later they were as good as new (and pre-scuffed for extra street cred). They clipped in a lot easier, so I slapped them on my race bike. They actually had an advantage over the lower-tier pedals, in they had…

Time Served.

As a newly-minted SoCal USAC Cat 5 with two whole sanctioned crits under my belt, I now feel it is my right, my honor-bound duty to comment on Kayle LeoGrande. 

For those of you who don't know who he is, here's a pretty good summary.  The TL:DR version is that he was domestic pro busted for doping, and the investigation following that bunny trail eventually helped bring down Lance. Great, we're done with that guy, right?

Nope. A while back a SoCal Masters team stacked with heavy hitters, Team Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW, picked up Kayle because, as their Facebook page proclaimed, "It's all about fun and representing our sponsors!" And winning. Lots and lots of winning. Don't care how. Winning.

Well, everyone deserves a second chance, don't they?

I'm not so sure.

I kinda think once you're busted for "hi-test" PEDs like EPO, human growth hormone, or testosterone (without a TUE), you probably shouldn't be playing in the amateur ranks…

Fathers Day

Saturday the wife allowed me to drive all the way up to Palmer for a group ride. Two hours round trip for what was advertised as a 90 minute ride. I'm not right in the head, although in my defense I got to ride some new roads and added on an extra hour to loop around the Bodenburg road race course. Still, it wasn't exactly a logical choice. Few things related to this sport are.

Yesterday was Fathers Day. I woke up early and contemplated going for a ride. I rolled over and fell back asleep for a couple hours. When I woke up, I went to the store for doughnuts and other bad things and sat down with my youngest to see who could smear the most chocolate around our mouths. He won.

The wife and I went to the grocery store and stocked up on stuff for the week. I had every intention of going out for a ride when we got home. It was an absolutely beautiful day. Instead I took a nap. When I woke up, it was already time for dinner. No riding for me.

Instead, I wrenched a bit on the Storck, st…

Fit Moron.

I play around with my bike fit from time to time. Some times it's something minor like saddle angle or cleat positioning. Other times it's different stems, handlebars, seatpost offset, or other components. Sometimes it's completely intentional, other times it's "gosh, that sure is pretty" and I don't care how it feels.

I've always thought of myself as a 56cm frame kind of guy. That's what has traditionally worked for me, with minimal toe overlap and a comfortable balance fore-aft. Because 100mm stems usually come with 56cm frames, that's usually my starting point. Whatever handlebars I happen to throw on there (and what looks pretty) and a suitable seatpost finish out the fit. Then I just deal with the results or sell the bike as being "wrong for me".

My Russian titanium bike has really opened up my eyes in more ways than one.

I threw it together with a lot of parts I had on-hand. Parts I had laying around but never used because they di…


Stairs are my nemesis.

Lately I've been tryin to get in some more volume, some more hours to rebuild what the plague took away. Peak seems to be in the ballpark, but I just don't have any staying power. When I was down in Mississippi, I didn't do a whole lot of peak power stuff, but I did do a whole lot of base hours. A crap-ton of base hours. It seemed to work well enough, giving me a steady level I could maintain and launch from when it was required. 

Right now I'm launching from 'meh'.

So, even though I don't have "Mississippi free time" to ride, I'm making an extra effort to get out for some longer rides.

The problem with long rides is that they cause my legs to forget how to do something as simple as climb up and down stairs. I do this old man, sideways shuffle from step to step instead of taking them two or three at a time. Usually grunting and wheezing is involved. If I do more than three trips up and down the stairs, a handful of Ibuprofe…

Another Down.

I've never met John Walsh.

I've never raced with him. I don't think I've even met anyone who knew or raced with him. I don't know if he was a fast racer or a slow racer.

Doesn't matter- he didn't deserve to go out like this (video). Watch the footage, especially the front/rear views and the slow motion replay at the end. As someone who has raced, it's not something that is especially pleasant to watch.

After watching it, ask yourself, "did the rider who took him down have another option?"

My opinion (and granted I wasn't there) is that from the video he had the whole right side to pass on, but he tried to squeeze into the narrow gutter. It was already tight when he started, so he wasn't run off the road. He forced his way through in the most physical of manners. Apparently this wasn't the first time the rider in question asserted himself like this in a group situation. I'll be the first to admit I don't ride with the finesse of…

Outclassed Again.

For a self-styled sprinter (with absolutely nothing concrete to back the assertion up with), I haven't won much recently. Make that anything. I haven't even been in the mix. I've barely managed to hang on in the draft of the rest of the pack. I've tried to rebuild some form and played around when I could, but mostly I've just ridden around gassed while the big boys flexed their muscles. It's fun, but that sort of fun doesn't lead to eternal glory and 72 virgins in heaven like a win at a criterium nobody cares about. So why keep doing it?

Wanky pretty much hit the nail on the head.

While I may disagree most strenuously with #9 (Quit buying stuff), the rest neatly sums it up. Print the post out and tape it to your top tube for handy reference.

Getting In Touch With the Feels.

Last week we had a full day of touchy-feely sessions with various facilitators where I work. The intention (I'm guessing) was to mold us old, crusty miscreants into fully evolved human beings that treat each other with dignity and respect. Screw that crap. Our interactions are mostly about discovering each other's weaknesses and exploiting them for everyone's amusement, and we like it that way. Progressive social interactions are not our forte.

In one of the sessions, the facilitator passed out construction paper, markers, and various office supplies and told us to make thank-you cards. I guess this was supposed to teach us gratitude or something, which is something I think was in my syllabus about 45 years ago. As I recall, I failed that class, so I didn't have much hope for success in this one.

I decided to make my three-year-old son a thank you card, which was based on my deep understanding of our respective emotional wants and needs.
I hope he feels empowered by it to…

Watching the Show.

Initially I had every intention of going for the win. 

I was the first guy to sign up for the B race, hoping the field would fill out and we'd have a fun night at the Arctic Bike Club Road Division's Kulis Criterium #2. Although progress was extremely slow initially, by race day the roster had bloomed into four respectable fields (by Alaska standards). I've always thought that the Kulis crits had the most potential for creating a festive atmosphere like you'd see a 'cross race, we hadn't yet seen the right sort of chemistry to make it happen. Tuesday night I saw the glimmers of it, and I really hope the trend continues.

Starting with the new D race, you had kids and adults racing together, getting a partially-mentored experience and pushing themselves. Road racing can be a brutally selective sport, but having a welcoming and encouraging environment is a huge part of getting people to come back week after week. Having a crowd of fellow racers and friends, who all …

What Passes For "Training".

I haven't done any real training in a long time.

Mostly what I do is ride around in team kit and hope someone mistakes me for one of my more talented teammates. It never works, but I'm hoping one day the right elderly gentleman squints just right into the sun...

If you don't have performance goals, you can at least have impersonation goals.

I've just been lining up in races whenever I can and riding as many hours as I can squeeze in. Either I'll improve or I'll grind myself into a fatigue-induced 'meh'. Maybe a little of both.

Any sort of real structure is out the window. Even a rough, "easy-hard-easy-hard..." framework isn't happening. Every day I see how I feel, kit up, walk outside, and let the ride sort itself out. If it happens that I have something in the legs, I go with it. If it doesn't feel like a particularly good day, I ride easy or cut it short. Nothing scientific or planned here.

I still track everything, and as long as I'm…


If the previous series of posts didn't make it abundantly clear, I didn't have the greatest time down in Southern California. Other than the El Dorado crit, it was a ball of tension created by traffic, crowds, noise, and large cartoon rodents. I think the kids had fun, so we'll call it a tie.

As soon as I hit the ground in Anchorage, I immediately relaxed. I was also immediately exhausted, as the accumulated stresses of the previous ten days piled up. I didn't have energy for anything but crawling in bed and falling asleep.

Eight hours later my old man bladder woke me up with messages of great urgency and discomfort. I stumbled around, not feeling rested but not tired enough to go back to sleep. A trip to the grocery store to restock the pantry pretty much solved that. I put the bike together for a ride, but didn't have required energy or give-a-shit. I plopped down in bed for another four hours, woke up for a late dinner, and then got another eight hours under my be…

Bad Idea, Part III

As it turned out, the wife was getting almost as burned out fighting crowds and standing in lines as I was. Every day we left the park a little earlier. Tuesday came around and she announced that she needed to be back at the house at 4:00 for an online class. I pushed that back to 2:30 so she would have plenty of time to recover and to avert my pending daily migraine/brain tumor.

Just for giggles, I got on USA Cycling's website again and found out there was a 4/5 crit a little over 10 miles from the house at 5:30. Awesome. By the time I had my license purchased and all of the preliminaries completed, I had less than 35 minutes to get there, sign in, pin on my bib, strip the junk off the bike, do a quick loop of the course, and line up. Sure, 35 minutes would be plenty of time to ride there in rush hour traffic in Anaheim- if I didn't die.

I did a pretty decent time trial all the way to the park where the race was being held, and fortunately made minimal wrong turns before I foun…

Bad Idea, Part II

This is my actual race report from the GS Andiamo Spring Criteriums Category 5 Cluster-Fuck.
With the formalities out of the way, we lined up, got our instructions from the race director, and were off. The pack immediately went to full speed, which I kinda expected given the short duration of the race and the anxiousness of the pack. I sat near the back for the first couple laps, watching the riders and how they responded to each turn and surge. Scary. I reconsidered my positioning, jumping up a few positions on each straightaway as the already-gassed riders got gapped by the brake-surge riders.

Eventually I found my way up near the front, where a couple riders kept jumping off the front for a little while before blowing up and drifting back. I bridged to a couple of them solo, and despite the gap we had the riders sat up. Given the way the pack was riding, two or three strong riders could have stayed clear if t…

Bad Idea, Part I

In retrospect, the original version of this series of blog posts was a bit too negative. That's why I tend to write them early but not post them, so I can reflect a bit and get some perspective. Usually it turns out I'm a giant fuckwit and blame everyone else for my failures but the guy who is really ultimately responsible- Lance Armstrong.
As nice as the weather has been (relative to Anchorage) and as welcoming as the group ride had been, I was still needing a little more. Part of it was due to the steady diet of bad food I'd been ingesting ever since we got here. Also contributing were the flat, monotonous rides along the Ditch.

I hit the Google box and tried to find another group ride or something. The only published ride I could find in the area on Sunday was an easy pace affair along the Ditch. Gee, exactly what I didn't want. I wanted to get my teeth kicked in by some riders far better than…


I have several subscriptions to cycling magazines. Every month they show up in my mailbox, usually a week or so after they show up on the newsstand. They sit in a pile with bills and junk mail until I get around to sorting it, and they are eventually deposited on my nightstand where they sit around some more. Eventually I find the time to peruse an issue, skipping over the articles that don't interest me. I can't remember the last time I read the majority of one, much less cover-to-cover. After I "read" it, it falls off the nightstand onto the floor and is kicked under the bed, where it will remain until I get around to fishing it out from its light dusting of dirty socks. From there, it gets stacked with all of the other back issues, which I am retaining for archival purposes and because I'm a hoarder. In a couple years you'll read about me being crushed under an avalanche of Bicycling magazines, each proclaiming to contain the "Ultimate Core Workout!&q…