Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Angels started singing and the skies parted and the snow melted. I took the shot at right of some of the remaining snow on my ride. Here in the northwest when the sun shines on otherwise cloudy days we call it a "sunbreak." Oh how sad the things that bring us joy..

The new cassette is a dream. My chain makes no noise. (Wipperman 10X1 chain sailing through the new campy Chrous 11-25 cassette). When I stomped on it the only sensation was POWER and no fear of chain slip that had made me tentative.

Let's hope we can get in some miles in the coming days before heading to Zmans graduation.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clay Bennett and David Stern are both dicks

Although I have rooted for the Seattle Supersonics for a few years now, I don’t take this stand based on any loyalty to this, or any other team. I am willing to admit I was one of the millions of American men raise playing team sports. As young boys we learned about sacrificing one’s self for the greater good of the team. Men raised playing team sports have put this principle to the test as they donned uniforms and defended this country with their blood in this and the previous century.

The sports field has long been the great equalizer. Boys who were from questionable backgrounds, or who lacked the pedigree for inherited respect in the community have been able to gain favor through athletic excellence. The dream of sporting achievement is open to all, while the avenue of academic success is not for everyone. Even the path of academic scholarship is not known to all, but the chance for athletic success knows few limitations.

Because competition reveals the truth, it is noble. Prejudices and favoritism must yield to superior talent and desire. All that could be subjective must give way to factual outcome. It is for these reasons that sports should be conducted as more than a business proposition.

I would have thought a commissioner would be the mediator between players and owners, between greed and fairness. Alas, David Stern exists for one reason, to make money for owners. I am as much of a capitalist as the next guy. Yet is there nothing noble about sports anymore.

Must we shun all that is good about sports to become a professional? If this is all about money, why ban performance enhancing drugs? Do we ban them in the name of fairness? What is fair about stealing tradition in the name of money?

I understand owning a professional sports team is a business. My understanding is that the definition of a profession is when it is self regulating. CPA’s, Lawyers, Doctors are all professions because they have organizations that monitor them and ensure they follow rules. I would think professional sports team ownership would likewise follow some rules. It appears to me they follow only their pocketbooks.

Spring, where art thou ? or Global warming my ass !

Snow. We have snow on the ground here in Seattle. Last Saturday it was 80 degrees and this Saturday there is snow. It started Friday afternoon but didn’t stick until later in the evening. Now I find myself snowbound and my new cassette is installed and ready to go, but I’m not about to muck it up by riding it in this crap.

I have decided not to attend the earth day celebrations and work toward a solution for global warming because I don’t believe global warming is real. I figure it this way; the earth at any given time is either warming or cooling as it has for the last four billion years. Our collective farts don’t seem to be making that much of an impact and I can find a short term trend in anything (and in the history of earth, recorded history is short term).

I will instead focus my efforts on something based more in fact like the witches and warlocks’ festival, or the 2008 horoscope convention where I can get down and get funky talking about astrological forecasting facts.

The shot is from my kitchen window.

Monday, April 14, 2008

80 ! It was EIGHTY degrees here Saturday !!

Saturday was eighty degrees and I got a sunburned nose. Now it is back in the low to mid forties and it is back to wool. Some more rides on the Cranberry Cruiser and I can’t get over how much I still love that steel ride. When I switch back from CC to the TR I always marvel at the ride of steel and then when back on the TR I am stunned at how easy the Record shifts as compared to the Centuar grouppo. I had been able to get in so much time on the TR that when I got on the cruiser I noticed how deliberate the shifting was. I guess that is what the new Campagnolo Record Red feels like. If you look close at some recent photos you may note that The Wizard (Mr. L. Zinn) has Centuar on his bike recently and he isn’t complaining.

Speaking of wool….
If you check out the Rivendale bike site (type Rivbike in your search engine) these guys love wool and with good reason. Wool sox make up one of Davo’s TOP TEN cycling tips. I am sure that if you ride in Arizona in August, those coolmax socks may work okay, but I’d still go with wool. Anything else; WOOL is it for socks. If you ride Cyclocross and may find your foot submerged then add the sealskinz over some wool socks. Otherwise, it is wool all year long.

I slipped in a shot of the recovering Hottie. Her back is still far from good; but we got in some miles under blue skies this weekend. She has seen enough of me, so she is looking out at Puget Sound. Wouldn't you ?

Friday, April 11, 2008

TR on the DL

Feeling a little like Joe Torre deciding not to let his superstar play injured, I left TR hanging in the garage and took the Cranberry Cruiser out for a spin in the sunshine today. The worn cassette is causing too much slipping and I keep finding myself debating about accelerating and that is no way to ride either for me, or TR. Colorado Cyclist has free shipping so I point and clicked, and a replacement is on the way.

Like an old friend the steel ride was welcome and familiar. Sure it flexed some when I climbed, or got out of the saddle, but it was so sweet on the rough pave’. The classic lines and tasteful paintjob are so trad I felt like an oatmeal eating, wool wearing downtube shifting curmudgeon.

I snapped a picture postcard of CC down by the water where I paused for some brake adjustment. She smiled and looked ready to go just leaning against the curb. 1,150 miles so far in 2008.

It sure felt good to have some sun on my back here in the northwest.

I put another candle on the birthday cake this week. It didn’t move my racing classification or have a “0” as the second digit, so no biggie. It was good to eat cake.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Clay Bennett is a Dick

Yes my friends, the truth is in.
Clay Bennett is a Dick.

That about sums it up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Catching up 4-8-08

Still not current, but on my way. I hold firm the assumption that nobody reads this, so if I am wrong please let me know.

The return from Solvang was pleasant. The nice weather followed us and we left rain in our wake. Here are a couple pics from the return along the coast.

Some riding since returning. 1,125 so far for 2008. Good start for an old fart.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Solvang Equipment commentary 2008

Seven Axiom
God rides this bike. Practically perfect in every way. Where is it lacking you ask? I don’t know yet. It remains my dream bike, and though I am still unworthy of it, it fits me and I ride it.

I do need a new cassette as I had some skipping when really powering in high gears.

I brought enough for five bottles and had some Hammer drink (the one with protein) at one of the food stops and it was gross. I don’t think it EVER dissolved. It was like water with flour in it. The Accelerade on the other hand was great. Not too sweet, but enough flavor to make you want to drink it. And electrolytes and no bonk.

Planet Ultra
Any color as long as it is black. And a lot of folks like black. I had no problems with the organization and staging of this ride. The only thing I noted was my impression of the absolute inflexibility of the Plant Ultra group. Thou shalt this and thou shalt not that, and they really meant it. While I didn’t have any direct criticisms, my impression is they wouldn’t change a thing, no matter how small, and no matter how many people asked. Maybe you have to be that way to put on as many long rides as they do in various places, but I kind of felt like I was in school again.

Hammer Gel
This is good stuff and the flask really does make sense. I hate seeing wrappers on the ground and being able to grab, pop and squeeze was much easier than fishing around in my pocket, gently tearing and then stashing a spent gel wrapper somewhere and then forgetting it at the food stop so I carry trash eighty miles.

This is great stuff as it makes dull water taste good without any syrupy grossness. Electrolytes are good. Two hundred miles, twelve twenty-two ounce bottles consumed (half drink mix half nuun) and lots of sweat, very little pee, and no cramps. What more can I say.

Spare saddle bag. Check the picture of my bike (TF) and you will see it !
I made my own and you can too. Just find an old windbreaker at a thrift store and cut off an arm and figure a way to close it on both ends (one that you can open and one that is closed permanently. Then strap it to your existing bag with toe straps or the like and stash your spare clothing in it and drink mix or anything you won’t need on the fly. Keep on the fly stuff in your jersey pockets. I stuffed my vest and earband and bag of drink mix, sunscreen, nuun in there and straped it up.

Just a good tool for not overcooking on climbs. If I see my heart rate getting above 172, I back off a little. Once I max in the 180’s I’m pretty much toast for the rest of the ride.

DeFeet armwarmers are the best.
Hincapie knee warmers are nice and long and we never too hot or too cold.
Castelli Proline gloves are great and the little loops between the fingers makes taking them off at food stops (for drying, eating) easy.
Toe covers, earband, PI vest. Why doesn’t everyone have these wonders ?
Castelli Y-Fuso bibshorts I find them almost frictionless in the chamois area. They do not have a lot of padding, so if the ride is on crappy pave’ these are not your first choice. They are silky smooth and look shinny fast. Since I was wearing Castelli jersey and gloves I thought I would complete the poser look.

Bontrager chamois cream You make this yourself with a 13oz tub of Vaseline, one ounce tubes of antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, and lanolin. Mix them all together any smear liberally on you and your chamois. It works better than the others and I have used Assos, Brave Soldier, Ozone3, Chammy Butt’r etc. I do find that a squirt bottle of Assos (or Chammy Butt’r) for touch up during a long ride is perfect. The Bontrager mix makes your saddle shine, but so what ?

While equipment isn’t the ride, it can sure make it a lot better.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Solvang Double Century 2008 Ride Report

After months of training in the rain and dreaming of sunshine I awoke on Saturday morning in Solvang. A hasty breakfast of instant oatmeal and fruit and some drink got me started. I showered and dressed in the clothes I had laid out the night before. There was a slight chance of rain on the north part of the course, and my memory of a chilly High Pass Challenge last year helped shape my clothing choices. Arm and knee warmers and a light vest were the right choices as were an earband and toe covers.

Making my way to the start I nearly departed without the requisite blue mark on my number, but once again my dumbfounded look told the tale and ultimately resulted in my getting the information and leaving around six thirty with the proper credentials.

I had mounted a small light I picked up from the REI Outlet for six bucks and it proved to be worthy of the task. Likewise a small tail light earned its keep. After about five minutes I had settled in with a group of about a dozen riders as we made our way toward the rising sun.

The temperature was in the mid forties, which for me was just fine. There had been a stiff wind the evening before, but now there was just a wisp of a breeze. The early pace was slow and I was tempted to pick it up, but I sure didn’t know the way so I was content to be a lemming for the present time. After a couple of turns, one a complete surprise, I determined my place was not near the front of this group. A steady climb up Foxen canyon and my group was cleanly split. I found myself among four other riders who were fit but wise (read old) enough to not burn out early. Most of the others had dropped back and I didn’t see them until the first food stop.

The climb warmed me up and I unzipped the vest and relished the warmth of the rising sun on my black lycra bib shorts. THIS was what I came for. On the downhill I ate a bar and caught a tandem FLYING down. Shifting into my highest gear we tooled along between 28 and 33 mph.

Soon we arrived at the first food stop where I topped off my Hammer gel (ok) and my Accelerade (orange – yum) and had some solid food. I removed my vest and put it in my second saddle bag. A quick squirt of Assos cream to supplement my chamois preparations and I was rolling again.

The course then follows some farms and is pretty exposed to sun and wind. I made my way alone and hooked up with two guys in matching jerseys only to have them slow with a mechanical issue. More solo and then I jumped on with a small group that seemed to know the way. By this time I was looking around and enjoying not just the scenery, but looking at the other riders. I was the ONLY rider wearing a plain jersey. They ALL either boasted of some he-man-woman-haters-tough-guy ride or were team jerseys.

I found myself riding among a larger group of riders outside Santa Maria including a fellow with a yellow and orange jersey and a snow white beard and ponytail. In my mind I nicknamed him Gandalf and later found out his name was Bob. We rolled into the 83 mile food stop together and I took a few minutes to call Hottie, eat and stretch. When I saw Bob and his group leaving I jumped on and joined in. By now it was in the low 60’s and the filtered sun was keeping it pleasant.

While I used a HRM to keep within myself, I noted a large percentage of riders with GPS and power output measuring devices. I am sure these guys got back and downloaded their heart rates, their altitude gains, watt outputs, speeds, farts and burps per hour and all kinds of other trivia that detracts from enjoying riding a bike. Guys, just get out a tape measure and be done with it !!

We made it through SLO with minimal trouble, although I can’t say the course was marked with great care. Following veterans proved smart here too. We left SLO on US Highway 1 and although there was a wide shoulder, we still had lots of road intimidation to keep you focused. By this time our train had swelled and another ten riders were latching on to our group of seven. There were two guys with Santa Clarita Velo jerseys and one of them was all over the place. This guy was side to side like he was sprinting and he speeded up and slowed down and wasn’t paying attention. Anyone who found themselves behind this impending train wreck left themselves lots of space. When the climb steepened I took the chance to move ahead of “crash” and held my spot. When things slowed suddenly I had to grab some brake to keep from going down and felt someone hit my rear wheel. I looked over my right shoulder and his mate was still there, so I am assuming he didn’t go down, but I can’t swear to it. After a long, but moderate climb we crested the pass and then exited the highway and dropped down to Morro Bay. There we stood in line to have dots added to our numbers to prove we made it out. 100 miles down and I still felt pretty good.

I ate a banana and started my homeward journey and waited for the legendary tailwind. After a long side wind I turned east and found the tailwind. I took a picture of my computer as I was sitting up and easily pedaling at 27 mph. Before too long I was at the food stop at 114 miles and just went with water as the hammer drink I got at mile 83 was horrid. I still ate fruit and gel and cookies. The bikes most riders were on were carbon or Ti or both. There were almost no older bikes and really very few bikes with second tier components.

I was expecting the portion from 114 to 144 to be rough so I kept my motivation high and, as I still felt pretty good, I was optimistic. The weather reports I had been reading leading up to the ride had indicated there was usually a good wind coming either north-northwest, or straight northwest. As the latter part of the course is a series of south, east and southeast roads, this is usually a Godsend. The wind today was totally from the west, so it was hard cross wind going south and wonderful tailwind heading east. The miles between 114 and 171 were a constant rotation of hard (south) and easy (east). The pavement on the ride also was constantly changing from good to bad to worse to glass.

Soon Gandalf was back and a new group had formed. I kept drifting back and having to claw my way up to the group. I guess I was just inattentive. At one point I was clearly off, but a steep hill allowed me to rejoin and hang for a few more miles. About mile 165 I lost contact and made it to the 171 mile stop all by myself. I checked in (cheaters beware) and ate and remounted quickly as I only had twenty miles to go. This rest stop was the most enjoyable for me as there was a better attitude in the air. The alpha male convention was recessed for a few brief moments and there was a mix of humility from being tired and optimism from knowing they were close to finishing.

The climb up Drum Canyon is steep. Surprisingly steep in places; and although it isn’t long by mountain pass standards, you can’t stand and push and hope to crest it before your pulse maxes out. So I settled into my climbing pace and just dreamed of a massage and turned over the pedals until I crossed the cattle grate signaling the top. I paused and talked for a minute before unleashing the Ti Flyer for the descent. It was horribly rough and the guys on carbon or Aluminum bikes I am sure had to slow way down. I let the TF go and she soaked up the bumps and kept me in control. Once down I put the hammer down and kept a high pace all the way to 246. My worn rear cogs reminded me they were due for retirement, and that I still had some horsepower.

The jarring had loosened my second saddlebag so I stopped and tightened everything. I also figured Hottie would take some pictures of me so I removed the reflective ankle straps that I had put on my handlebars after taking them off my ankles about sixty miles into the ride. This way if she used flash there wouldn’t be a huge reflection that would require explanation.

I crossed highway 101 and then got out of the saddle and attacked the climb into Solvang. I felt strong and my eating along the way had kept the bonk at bay. I finished before six with a ride time of 10:21 for 192.5 miles, or an 18.6 average.

I will detail comments about equipment, clothing and food choices in a later entry.

Friday, April 4, 2008

South !

Thirty-five freakin’ degrees read the thermometer as we snuck out of Seattle under the cover of early morning darkness. Hottie and I were both wearing light sweat pants, and I even had on sandals in hopes of the weather warming as we reduced our latitude. Before we hit Tacoma there was snow, yes snow, swirling in the air as black skies slowly turned grey. With Zen like focus and caffeine in our veins we piloted the beast south. Our last time in Portland was for the USGP of Cyclocross last December and the weather was epic then with snow followed by rain and wind and rain and rain. This time there were some flakes blowing and a low thermometer, but nothing of biblical proportions.

As we passed Eugene and then points south the sun was making itself known and my arms basked in the sunshine coming through the windshield. We ate a burger in Grant’s Pass, Oregon where folks were wearing T shirts. The sight of bare arms was refreshing.

Crossing into the golden state it was evident there we had lost some serious latitude. Less undergrowth among the pine trees signaled we were out of the Northwest. We arrived in time to see Hottie’s WSU Cougars exit the NCAA sweet sixteen in honorable fashion. After an improvised tour of Fortuna and a salad we settled in for a good sleep.

The next morning we awoke to the alarm and showered, packed, ate and were underway by six thirty. Ouch. Wearing shorts I was forcing the sun to come out. We made it through the Bay area without incident and sailed down the coast and arrived in Solvang and checked in.

Solvang is a quaint town with a Danish theme that thankfully does not take itself too seriously. Leavenworth, Washington, on the other hand, has grown men in lederhosen walking the streets much of the summer. Scary.

I picked up my number and signed the waiver and we went for spaghetti. Sleep would be welcome after eleven-hundred miles in two days.