Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, January 2, 2017

White Gravel

....looks like this:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome to 2017

The men and women of 20/20 Fuel getting "Belgian" on the shores of Lake Washington
Clothing choices were "freeform"

First Aid was Jackets and FUEL Coffee
Long term recovery required a tub of Man-Soup

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 207 Maintenance – The ultimate upgrade

This trick isn't in Mr. Zinn's book
On a recent wet ride I squeezed my brakes and was stunned at the lack of stopping power. I rightfully pride myself on my brake set up and this was not acceptable. 

I was on my commuting bike in the middle of a combination training ride and errand expedition. It was bombing rain and while I would expect a minor decrease in stopping power this was dramatic.  At the next stop light I looked at my rear brake.  It was a dated TRP product that had been relegated to my commuter when I upgraded the brakes on my CX racer some years previous.

My front brake was a better model, and while the performance was superior to the rear it was still below par.  I came to a long downhill and as I gained speed I kept a finger on the brake levers and felt uneasy. 

Over the remainder of the ride I contemplated upgrading my brakes.

After getting home I hosed off the brake track on my wheels and then wiped them down with a clean rag.  The amount of dark grey slime that came off was sobering. After showering I returned to the garage and checked the brake pads. 

The pads were worn and coated with the same grey slime.  I decided to replace the worn pads and after adjusting the brake cables I took the bike out for a two minute test ride. 
 All good.
The brakes performed perfectly. As noted earlier I pride myself on the performance of my brakes.  Being able to stop quickly allows you to go faster.  It isn’t that I’m after speed, I’m really after safety and control and speed us just a byproduct of control.

In hindsight a couple things came to mind.  First, I should be kicked for neglecting my brakes.  Second and more noteworthy is that while we all get excited about the marginal gains that come with the latest and greatest; maintenance makes an even bigger difference. 

Brand new but dirty Dura-Ace brakes won’t stop you as fast as clean ten year old 105 brakes. In our lazy heads it is easier to spend a few dollars than to put in the work of cleaning and maintaining the stuff we have.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Take it with a grain of good

Starting off my morning with a whole wheat oat and pumpkin infused scone.  Life is good!

I've been an outspoken fan of Bob's Red Mill for years.  The stuff if good-for-you fuel.  

But wait, there's more!

It can also make stellar treats as well. 

As part of their Heroes of The Mill program I received a box from the folks at cake in a crate (@cakeinacrate).    They use ingredients from Bob's Red Mill so it had to be good.

Here is what happened next:
The box came with everything pre-measured.
Step by step instructions.....
Gotta have balls.  (And toasted pumpkin seeds in the background)
Baked (coconut) balls
Dip them to make them awesome
Maximum Awesomeness
Presentation counts.
I've made a lot of cookies in my life.  These were the best ever.
Thanks to Bob's Red Mill and Cake in a Crate.
I'm not a fan of excessive packaging and so at first I was wondering about this but the packaging was of a quality that it can be reused for travel or home storage. It's all good.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Sometimes I can be pretty full of myself.  
Life manages to keep me in my place.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Belgian Shower

Daylight is scarce these days and I’m usually at my desk before sunrise. Such is life close to the 48th parallel. I expected my commute to be chilly but dry and I dressed accordingly.  I arrived as expected and felt terrific. I plucked the expensive electronics off my bike and locked it up. 

In no time I was making my way to the showers carrying my shower supplies and work clothes, my bike shoes clomping on the hard floor. The space I will call a locker room for the sake of this story was one hundred percent empty this morning.  In June there are ten guys in there at this time of day.  Today it was all mine.

Following a routine that has become rote I soon stepped into the shower and swung the handle to ten o’clock.  There have been a couple times when I had to wait two or three minutes for the hot water to make it to the shower head from god-knows-where. I was glad when it warmed up quickly.

While I lack comprehensive data to prove my point, I am confident that in the winter my showers at work are a little warmer and last a little longer than in the summer. It is a brief moment to dwell on the good work of an hour plus of riding before work and think about the day ahead whilst I enjoy the warm water on my oft chilled toes.

I settled in and got straight to work getting Davo cleaned and lubed when I noticed the water didn’t feel as warm as it had a moment earlier. I turned the handle to eleven o’clock which is as warm as it gets and it didn’t get much warmer.  In fact, it kept on getting colder.

I am typically slow to accept change but the temperature of the water dictated prompt action.

With the urgency of a five year old boy that has to pee I hastened to finish as fast as I could. Soap suds were flying in the shower stall and I was rinsing and spinning and writhing as the water grew colder and colder.  With no forethought I heard myself utter a hushed profanity. 

Finally I shut it off with a definitive twist and grabbed my towel like it was a lifeline. I squeezed it in my hands as if I could somehow pump heat into it. The room wasn’t particularly warm and the water on my body was cold.  I dried off as quickly as I could and got dressed like I was in a race. 

Soon I was at my desk and seeking to find warmth through coffee consumption.  A few dozen ounces later I was still cold.  I dug my emergency sweater out of my drawer and by about two in the afternoon I was finally warm. 

I don’t know if I have become a wimp (perhaps I have always been a wimp and I just didn’t know it) or if I just forgot what cold feels like but this was the third time this season I’ve found myself cold and almost indignant about the discomfort.  The first was on 5130 with DG and the second was on a coffee and lies ride two weeks ago and today was numero tres. 

You can’t apply Rule #9 when it is in the shower. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 205 Saturation action and reaction

Our winter has been unusually slow in arriving this year.  Most years you can calibrate your calendars because the first good frost hits Seattle on Halloween evening.  We are past Thanksgiving and we still haven’t had ice in the morning.

I am not complaining. In fact, this supports my winter training goal of not breaking any ribs. It has allowed some riding without yet having to dress like I am a scuba diver.  On a recent Coffee and Lies ride we faced rain and temperatures below 10C (50F for you old school laggards).

With the exception of Big John most of us were underdressed.  The rain went from light to heavy and the mild temperatures were our saving grace.  We were in the early stages of hypothermia but all was good and it looked like everything would be okay until one of our clan flatted. 
 Sooner or later we all get a chance to be "the guy with the flat tire"
Moonlight Burnside displayed either kindness or impatience and took charge and made quick work of the tube replacement.  In less than five minutes we were rolling again.  The problem was that those five minutes of inactivity, in the rain, were enough to get way behind the hypothermia power curve.

Before the flat tire triggered the stop my socks were wet.  My feet were still warm, but they were wet. After we stopped they were still wet but now they were cold. Water that had soaked into the Lycra that wrapped my shins was likewise chilled now.
El Chefe’ commented that his gloves had become useless bags of cold water. When we came to a short climb I refused to get out of the saddle for fear the rain would wet my saddle and then get my chamois wet.  Since my chamois was the only thing below my waist that was dry I stayed seated and just downshifted.

Though I knew hard pedaling would warm me up I was still inclined to hold my steady pace.  I’ve seldom done a good job at really taking it easy for an extended period and I am somewhat determined to keep the rest of 2016 Z1-2, Z3 max…..

Finally I settled in with Big John and El Jefe’ and we just platooned back. John remarked that we the three of us formed a grupetto that had a cumulative nineteen feet of handsome and we didn’t argue.  Flattery is rare at my age.
 Hey, we're ALL good looking.....
The prospect of hot coffee kept us smiling and soon we were getting close. There is a shortcut that takes a more direct route but involves a crazy steep climb. Nineteen feet of awesome turned sharply south and wrestled up the hill.  As a result of the climb when we rolled up to Fuel for our post-ride cup of Joe we were finally warm.

When I stood up after sharing coffee and lies there was a puddle below my chair and my wet gloves left a ghost print of dampness on the table.  I felt like one of the fabled soggy bottom boys.
After putting a towel on the driver’s seat I left the hill and returned home and spent a good long time enjoying a hot shower.  

A week later we assembled to do it again.  Predictably, this time we were dressed for battle. Some wore better, some wore thicker and others simply wore more layers to protect them from the elements. I was reminded of a ride in the spring of 2012 when Hank, who had missed the previous week’s ride looked us up and down and commented, “Man, it must have been really wet last week.” If you are going to have a reaction it might as well be an overreaction.

In the true spirit of the off season our jaunt around the island was a refreshingly leisurely-paced affair. We chatted and savored our man time.  Maintaining a modicum of movement through the dark days of winter will allow us to resume in earnest in the New Year without the awkwardness of having to get reacquainted with our saddles.