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Showing posts from July, 2017

Not All Rainy Days Are Alike.

This was written the week before Last Tuesday's crit incident. The last line is more true than ever. I'm still going to ride and race in the rain.
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Tuesday it was raining.

A light rain that had just started darkening the pavement. I didn't wear a rain jacket, but tucked a packable one in my back pocket just in case. I didn't wear shoe covers. I slapped the fenders on to keep the rooster tail off my back. Pushing off, I didn't expect much out of the afternoon except low-intensity miles.

Turns out, it was a great ride. I settled into a groove that was a couple notches higher than expected. The rain didn't soak me, but was just enough to cool me off. The legs chugged away happily, and I added extra mileage in to fully use my allotted time. I'm came back a little damp, but happy.

Wednesday it was raining.

A steady rain was falling, pooling on the roads. I didn't even bother with the thin,…

Indications All Point To...

The other day I had a blinding moment of clarity.

I realized I had enough bikes.

You want to know how I know? Like with all things of any importance in cycling, my Garmins told me so.

I have three Garmins. Two are Edge 500s and one is an Edge 800. With the Edge 500s I'm limited to three bike profiles. The Edge 800 allows five.

I have seven bikes. The race bike, the crit bike, and the TT bike all are on an Edge 500, because it's always been my race computer (doesn't everyone have a dedicated bike computer just for racing?). The other Edge 500 takes care of trainer duties, mainly because the USB port cover popped off somewhere and they're near impossible to find these days. I think right now it has a couple profiles in there, but the only one I use is the Storck. The Edge 800 has my ti road bike, ti gravel bike, and Madone 5.2 Pro, as well as my TT bike and road race bike for warmup tracking.

Sometimes I have to think about which bike is on which computer, and more than once …

Another Year, Another Crash.

Don't you hate that feeling when you slam your hip, shoulder, and head into the pavement in rapid succession and then grind your flesh off as you slide across the tarmac? 

Yeah, me too.

Tuesday's crit was going well enough. I rode around with the D and C riders, pacing dropped riders around the loop and generally trying to stay out of their race. It was fun and didn't require a lot of energy to do. Hopefully I helped some of them.

When the combined A/B race kicked off, we had a pretty large group by our standards. Kaladi and Beaded Stream were well represented, and the race was characterized by constant attacks and counter-attacks. Other than bridging a couple gaps that looked dangerous, I mostly sat in. Breaks were never allowed much of a lead and usually were pulled back within a couple laps. I was just watching and conserving energy.

It had rained earlier in the day, but the roads were dry and I thought for a second we would be spared. Twenty minutes in, a light drizzle st…

Same Ol' Me.

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Every time you go on Facebook, you see a notification that someone has changed their profile picture. Maybe it's a significant moment in their lives that they are commemorating. Maybe it's a cause they're supporting. Maybe they just felt like changing their picture to something else.

My picture hasn't changed. I'm boring like that. A little lazy. Satisfied with the status quo. The reality is that I just like the picture.
It reminds me of a certain time in my life. It was taken by my wife during the Tour of Fairbanks downtown criterium after my race was over. This was the big-show year for the ToF, with an announcer, stage, and Saul Raisin as the race marshal. I was watching the fast guys race over the bumpy course, dodging the random transient who wandered out in front of the pack. This was taken before Alex Loan went down in a corner and the ambulance came.

Back then I could still carry my daughter around on my shoulders without budging a disc. Not that she's any…

New Cheapness.

My new 60mm fake carbon wheels showed up today. They're replacing my old 60mm fake carbon wheels.

By "fake", I mean they're a carbon wheel with an aluminum rim embedded. The carbon is structural, and the spokes attach to it. The aluminum part is for the brake track and tire mounting strength. Basically they look like fancy deep section rims, but they stop somewhat better and are a whole lot cheaper. The downside? Well, they are pretty heavy and my old ones could get a little wiggly above 35 MPH. But... cheap. When you think about it, what are teeth when you have the chance to save a few dollars?

These are actually considerably wider than my old ones, so maybe they're better. Maybe they'll get shaky at 15 MPH. Only way to find out is to ride them and see. Maybe I'll wait for the next sunny day. Right now it's threatening to rain. They're too shiny and I just installed brand new tires and cassette. Gooping them up in the rain just seems wrong at the m…

Ease Up There.

75 hilly miles on Saturday. Beautiful day. Have to make the most of it.

45 hilly miles on Sunday. Beautiful day. Have to make the most of it.

Monday rolls around and it's overcast with occasional light showers. The temperature dropped about ten degrees. The wife calls up and asks me if I can skip my ride and come home right after work. I jump at the flimsy excuse. Those last two rides capped off a week of intensity. I was cooked, and shifting around a rest day seemed like a good idea.

Tuesday arrived and the weather was still dreary. The moment I walked out of work to see how the sky looked, sparse-but-large drops of rain start falling. I looked around and decided I had zero enthusiasm for any of the routes in my immediate vicinity. It wasn't bad weather. It wasn't the kind that soaks you to the bone, even if you're not wearing a rain jacket. The road was wet, but the fenders were already mounted. I had everything needed to ride out of the parking lot but motivation. Turn…

A Bit Flat.

I had done a few miles at intensity the previous two days, and I was starting to feel the weariness around my eyes. I had the bike on the car, the bag full of kit sitting by my desk, and the sky was blue. I really couldn't say no.

As I walked out, I checked which way the headquarters flag was blowing. It was one of the rare days where I would get a tailwind on the way out. From the way the flag was stretched out, a pretty good one.

I went with it, pushing harder than normal and hitting waypoints far faster than I usually do. I almost felt like I had some talent. I knew I had to turn around and face the music eventually, but I burned the matches anyway. I'd put it in the small chainring and spin easy on the way back- I had extra time thanks to the enhanced speed of the outbound trip.

Sure enough, I hit a wall as I turned around. I ran out of gears, but that didn't prevent me for periodically looking for more. I ducked low, trying to reduce my profile any way I could. I cursed …

Not Good Enough.

Every time I do any kind of intervals these days, I'm reminded that I don't do nearly enough of them. Long ones, short ones... doesn't matter, I'm just not doing as many as I should be doing to gain my desired fitness. Then again, I have pretty unrealistic goals (e.g. not sucking so much), so it's going to take a whole lot of focused interval training to make any real progress towards them.

Today was 30 second VO2max intervals with two minute of recovery in between. My legs failed on the last one, which shows I was doing them right. With more recovery, I would have likely pushed more power across all of the intervals, but the goal was to train recovery from intensity rather than bump up peak power.

Hammering, resting for a brief period, and then hammering again is something the young take for granted. Their bodies can take a lot of abuse, because they don't have decades of accumulated wear and tear built up. They have vast quantities of substances naturally cour…

Take Your Medicine.

In the compressed world of my elevation graph, Hiland road looks like a seven mile steady climb.

The truth is, it's not all climbing. There's false flats, flats, and even a dip or two. Few of these are long enough that you'd notice them going up. What you're focused on is that next stretch of up that may or may not extend past that next corner. It's seven miles of suck.

I can't say I've ever had an awesome ride up Hiland. Mainly it's a lot of lactic acid and straining and sweating and going really, really slow. However, like a tetanus booster after you slash your hand on some rusty metal, it probably is good for you in the long run.

I picked a beautiful day to climb it. Sun and warm temperatures dominated, so I was melting as I climbed up. The lack of shoulder only was a problem when a car passed me, wheezing in its own way. Nobody was having a great time. No records were in danger of being broken, but I kept my steady pace.

At the top, which abruptly end…

It's Not Your Race.

Last week at the Kulis crit I saw something I don't particularly like. The people I saw do it are people I like and respect, but it doesn't make it any less wrong. In fact. that sort of behavior can have a seriously negative impact on road racing in the area.

Ever since we started the crit series, we've allowed riders to jump in other races if the field wasn't large. It fills out the pack and gives more people to draft behind. If there are no complaints from the field, it seems to work well. A lot of the time it's in a race higher than they usually compete in, to give them a taste of what the next level is like or a bump in intensity. I've done it, and I made it a point to sit at the back because:
I'm lazy.I probably don't have the energy/fitness/motivation to do anything anyway.I don't want my inevitable implosion to gap anyone off the back.The last one is the most important point. I don't want my actions to affect someone else's race. If I&#…

I'm Not That Guy.

Let me put it right out there- I am not a fan of triathlons.

A lot of this has to do with my knees preventing me from running anymore. Sure, I can run, but I want to walk and do other things when I'm 50. The wear and tear became too much, and I eventually found the bike, which I liked far, far more than I ever liked running.

I grew up swimming. I raced for a brief time when I was a kid, before I realized Speedos on my scrawny physique weren't appealing to anyone and my aptitude for competitive swimming was limited. But yeah, I spent a lot of time swimming in lakes and rivers. It was just something I grew up doing.

Like most roadies, I give triathletes a lot of crap. I also get my ass handed to me on a regular basis by triathletes, because they spend all of their times working on the diesel. If I can hold their wheel, I can usually come around them in a sprint. Again, if I can hold their wheel. Time trials? I get crushed. Hill climbs? Crushed. All I'm good for is wheel-sucking…

A Horrible, Horrible Miscalculation On Their Part.

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."    -Michael Corleone
There was a brief time in the not-too-distant past when I was on the Arctic Bicycle Club Road Division board. Then, for various reasons that aren't worth going into, I wasn't.

Now it looks like I am again.

I'm hoping to influence some positive change with my charismatic personality, irresistible charm, razor-sharp wit, rugged good looks, and tendency to argue a point of view long since discredited by peer-reviewed research studies with a fervor that results in the labels "asshole", "fucking asshole", "self-important fucking asshole", and some I can't repeat in such genteel company being cast in my general direction. They certainly can't be talking about me. Must be referring to someone standing behind me. Hate when that happens.

I'm hoping the other members can offset my dynamism, lest the whole organization become just a realization of my comprehe…

Reality Check.

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 Brett: No, no, I just want you to know... I just want you to know how sorry we are that things got so fucked up with us and Mr. Wallace. We got into this thing with the best intentions and I never... Jules: [Jules shoots the man on the couch] I'm sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue, you were saying something about best intentions. What's the matter? Oh, you were finished! Well, allow me to retort. - Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction _________________________________________________________________________ When I entered the A Race at this week's Kulis Crit, I got into that thing with the best of intentions and I never... Then they shot me. It was a most excellent retort. The goal of entering the A race was to shame a few of the sandbaggers out of the B race, opening up the field a bit for people to move up. What actually happened was I got shelled in a spectacular fashion two or three laps in. They hammered from the gun, a…

Burning It Up.

If I'm good at one thing, it's chewing through a crap-ton of brake pads.

The regular ones for aluminum rims last a sufficient amount of time. I buy good ones and replace them before I really need to, because I never know when I'm going to get into a bike neglect rut. The last time you want to find out your brake pads are a bit on the thin side is at the top of a steep, twisty descent.

When the weather has been good, I've been taking out the Madone 5.2 Pro. It has some relatively nice carbon clinchers on it, so it has a set of carbon fiber-specific pads in the brake calipers. These aren't the sawdust and toxic waste concoctions that come with my Chinese carbon wheels, but some nice SwissStop Black Prince pads. They aren't cheap, but stopping is often as important to me as going these days. Carbon wheels with rim brakes aren't known for stopping well if the relative humidity is above .001%, so every little bit counts.

Every time I take the bike out on Arctic Bik…

Haha, You Missed Me (For A Change).

Given the amount of mass I present to the physical world, it's almost impossible for raindrops to miss me. I generate a very specific gravity that attracts rain and wind. I'm like the cartoon character with a perpetual cloud over their head, with gale-force winds for good measure. I've come to terms with this, and even embraced it at times.

The forecast for the weekend called for rain and chilly temperatures, with an additional side order of rain. Weekends are when I do my longer rides, and I woke with a sense of dread for what I would face during my planned four hour cruise. I stumbled over to the window and was pleasantly surprised to see dry roads. The skies were threatening, but I rushed to get ready to take advantage of Mother Nature's brief oversight. I tucked a rain jacket in my back pocket and shifted my route for lower elevations. You couldn't see the mountains in the clouds, and twisty descents on wet roads weren't what I was looking for. Plus, fatty w…

I Feel Faster Already.

If I learned anything from my experiences racing in SoCal, it's that I never, ever want to be in a Cat 5 criterium again.

Problem is, I only have two finishes and a clinic on my USAC license, and you need ten points to upgrade. Based on my current rate of progress, I would be 70 by the time I made it to Cat 4. We don't have reciprocity with USAC, but I contacted the regional coordinator to see if there was a way to speed up the process. She was very nice, and responded that all I had to do was submit my race resume, which is basically just like a regular resume. All of the highlights are emphasized and all of the screw-ups are swept under the rug.

I had to search hard for the older stuff, which is a shame because that's when I was actually winning. However, eventually I had a series of race results that gave the impression of a somewhat decent cyclist that was steadily working his way up the ranks, instead of an old, tired man who can barely make the pedals go around anymore…

Sproing.

It was another rainy ride. A day for grinding out moderate miles while watching the steady drip off the brim of your cycling cap.

Drip. Drip. Drip. 

Then I noticed a rhythmic rubbing sound. I glanced down at my fenders, thinking they had shifted into the tires. Nope, they were centered and had plenty of clearance. The sound persisted. As I rode, I continued to search for what might be making the noise. It wasn't what I'd call a significant sound, like a grinding or popping, just a light scuff with every tire rotation. I couldn't isolate it to the front or rear, but it was definitely coming from the wheels. I thought maybe I picked up a leaf or a twig that was rubbing. Meh.

Eventually I got to a place where I could stop and check it out. Actually, I just stopped because I really needed to pee. I spun the front wheel and didn't get the sound. I spun the back, but the noise was immediately masked by the freehub ratcheting. When I stopped the rear wheel, a broken spoke flopp…

Expert Bike Mechanic.

On Sunday, July 2nd, I rebuilt my crit bike. I installed bling-tastic aero carbon handlebars, a carbon stem, new brakes calipers, and all sorts of odds and ends. The frame once belonged to Nate Brown when he rode for the Bontrager-Trek development team. 

On Monday, July 3rd, Nate, now riding for Cannondale-Drapac on the UCI ProTour, pulled on the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France.

Man, I'm a great bike wrench. You're welcome, Nate.

Actually, I just got tired of looking at the once proud bike sitting in a heap, cannibalized for parts during moments of bike-wrenching-procrastination-induced panic. I hope this will recharge the amount ofWinpresent in the bike. I'm sure Nate used up a large amount of the available Winbefore it was passed over to me, but with the handlebars and stem I have made a substantial addition to the amount of carbon fiber present in the bike. Carbon fiber=Win, or so every major bike manufacturer tells us.

At any rate, I am indirectly responsible f…

Reshuffling the Deck, Part III

Because I'm the smartest guy in the room (and trust me, I am) and because I have really large hands, I have come up with a solution to solve the sandbagging issue in Southcentral Alaska in a bigly way.

We're going to build a wall.

No, wait. That's not it.

No my solution is slightly less expensive, but still time-consuming. Instead of relying on people to self-classify themselves accurately, we can create a virtual GC to rank them across a variety of disciplines. We don't need to use a stage race to do it. We only race a finite number of courses, some of them multiple times a season. We could take an individual's times for certain single-day races and add them together.

Here's my proposal:
Time Trial- Moose Run is the local standard that is the most attended, and it's usually run a couple times a year. Pick the best time for the individual's last three attempts (can go back years if necessary) as their GC time, which will take seasonal fitness and weather mo…

Reshuffling the Deck, Part II

Last post I characterized the state of road racing and it's over-reliance on the existing pool of Delusional Fucktards™ to support the whole system. Instead, I believe they should be focusing their attention on creating new Fucktards™ by using devious and underhanded trickery like rider development programs and inclusive environments.

Part of this requires resources like volunteer time and brainpower to develop a framework for riders to progress through, benchmarks to clearly distinguish different levels of the framework, and curriculum/other development methods to assist riders make the transition to the next level. The days of throwing riders into a race without basic guidance to let them figure it out for themselves should be long gone. Because Anchorage doesn't have a strong road group ride culture, it's how I learned, but it doesn't make it right. The cycling skillsets that most people develop long before they enter their first race aren't taught here. Jumping…