Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crusher made the short Journey from Lynnwood to Marysville for the first annual and consecutive McDiesel Classic Road Ride.

With Swiss precision, the riders rolled out the door from the FSI building. This was in sharp contrast to years past when riders would trickle out over a fifteen minute period and then scrounge for floor pumps and “oops, I forgot my helmet, just a minute” delays. In no time the elite peloton was assembled and ready to suffer.

Hammering man was astride the Black Mojo which was a spectacle to behold with its glossy carbon weave, matching carbon bars and American Classic Hubs laced to red anodized Velocity rims. The Zero Gravity brakes and Campagnolo drivetrain set off the ultralight climbing machine. The oversized seat pack must have held some secret propellant, as its bulky styling and excessive size seemed ill matched to the purpose built roadster.

I apologize, for once again, I digress.

The ride was to celebrate the departure of one Paul “McDiesel” from his current employ – thus exiting the peloton only to return for special occasions as Crusher had returned to honor his comrade. Uberman was decked out in stylish riding apparel that indicated his wonderful wife has continued to exercise her good taste in selecting and procuring his riding apparel. Captain Sunshine, though quiet, was likewise decked out like he rides fifty miles on his lunch hour every day and this was just another fast paced ride for him.

Always styling and consistently Euro, El Falcon’s appearance was intimidating as he looked ready to rip the legs of the pack when the road turned upward.

Up Marine View Drive the pack sailed as Crusher looked on in awe at the precision of the disciplined paceline. Taking turns, some longer than others, the group climbed and made small talk. The Orca turn off is usually a ride in itself but today it was passed without word as the peloton had bigger plans for this Thursday.

Hammering Man sprinted to the front at the base of the long climb of the day and got out of the saddle and wrestled his fourteen pound steed. Dancing on the pedals he splintered the peloton. Digging deep in our suitcases of courage we managed to claw our way up the seemingly endless ascent. Hammering Man retained his KOM jersey with a surprised Crusher closing the gap at the top. Uberman had quietly sensed the testosterone festival in the making and had gone from the Shepard at the back to shadowing Crushers wheel at the top. El Falcon elected to maintain his image and composure and the Captain made journeyman’s work of the climb. The powerful engine that is McDiesel was firing on all cylinders and reached the top showing no signs of strain at the climb that has claimed the lives of many would be cyclists.

The rollers on the remainder of Marine View Drive allowed for some leap frogging as the pack shuffled and then regrouped for a wee bit of drink and some smiles.

The suffering resumed on the rollers on 140th Ave NE as Uberman set a wicked tempo and Crusher and El Falcon struggled to keep on his wheel. Crusher popped a hill or two from the top of the 600’ hill and only El Falcon could match Uberman who was riding in a 53 x 12 the entire day, just to see what it would be like to ride a track bike on the road. The Groupetto arrived and the collective body looked downhill.

The assembled body waited for a sufficient break in downhill traffic and then launched. Taking the whole lane the group registered speeds between fifty and fifty five mph on the descent. Black Mojo, ignoring the laws of physics which would have the heaviest bike (and rider) going downhill the fastest again took his place at the sharp end of the pack as the group sped downhill.

On the flats the discipline once again returned and with exemplary execution the rotating paceline motored back at between twenty-two and twenty-five mph. After passing the Marysville school which saw the FSI re-run league (as opposed to a premier, which is new, the re-run league was for more mature footballers), the group broke into an all out sprint. Crusher ignored this, as the traffic light is the great equalizer for such escapades.

After the light McDiesel took up the charge in earnest and nobody granted him any favors as he led the speeding pack back into the parking lot. As the pack cooled down a willing bystander snapped a picture. With nothing else to say I was reminded of some wisdom I gleaned from a license plate frame I saw the other day. By the way, I get all my knowledge from license plate frames and bumper stickers. The subject frame read, “Happiness is driving a 1977 Nova.” If that guy can call that happiness, who are we to complain ?

25 miles, one hour 22 minutes 18.5 mph average 1,508’ of climbing.

Sprinter (Green Jersey) McDiesel
GC: (T-Shirt Jersey) Hammering Man
KOM: (Polka Dot Jersey) Uberman
Most Aggressive (Red Jersey) El Falcon
Best Young Rider (White Jersey) the Captain (maybe El Capitan ?)
Maglia Nera (Black Jersey) Crusher !!

Review of VDO cycle computer MC 1.0+

The Hottie got me this bike computer as a father’s day present. Last year I received the Park Wheel Truing Stand (TS-1) and was speechless. I recall hefting the TS-2 stand out of the box and setting the shiny silver behemoth on the carpet and admiring its beauty. The quiet understated strength of the stand’s heavy steel, speaking to its longevity. The stand will be in use long after I have crossed the finish line of life in the groupetto. It was a perfect gift and one I had not hinted at, so it was all the more wonderful.

But alas, I digress.

When I opened the little wonder I was quietly pleased as the constant failure of my Avocet Altimeter had relegated that little machine to the back of the drawer. As a cycling altimeter the Avocet was woefully inadequate; therefore anything that could capture cumulative elevation gain was a welcomed addition. But wait, it is so much more, and does it all so very well.

It is a wireless unit so the clean lines of the Seven were unaffected by instasllation. Set up was pretty easy with my two gripes being the microprint of the owners manual (talk about age discrimination – they should check their product demographics), and the fact that if you choose English units (feet and miles) you need to put your wheel circumference in using inches as your unit of measure. I have always had to use millimeters, so this was weird.

It displays the following all the time (when riding): Speed, current elevation, temperature (quite a nice feature), current grade as a percent (oh yeah, way cool) and an indication that your current speed is above or below your average speed for the ride.

It has three buttons that are wisely separated by function types.
One for typical cycling functions (distance, time, average speed, max speed, etc.)
A second for secondary functions (time of day, stopwatch, a second trip odometer, etc.)
The third for altitude functions (cum trip climbing, max elevation, average grade, max grade, total climbing)

So my experience has been as follows:
It is amazingly accurate. It doesn’t measure in five or ten foot increments, but in single foot increments. This is true both for current elevation and all of the cumulative elevation measurements. It measures grades with very good accuracy. I don’t know the interval it uses in either time or distance, but as the road kicked up, or slackened, it registered the changes pretty quickly. It updates trip accumulated climbing frequently, almost constantly, but there is a few seconds between updates.

The cycling functions are par, with the only gripe being that current speed is only measured in one half mile per hour increments. Accelerating you see 11.0, 11.5, 12.0, 12.5, etc.

I can read it with my old man eyes and that is a big plus. I am sure in winter with rain on my yellow glasses and a dark sky it will be hard to read, but in that weather, I’ll have other issues to contend with.


I wasn’t expecting a new computer, let alone this German made “ubertoy”, but if I was to scour the world for a cool unit, this is it. If you want more, relax, it is just a bike ride.

Five out of Five

Twisp to Carlton Ride report

This past weekend we went to our favorite spot in the universe, the Methow valley. For those of you not from around here, it is pronounced met-how not meth-ow.

There is a pleasant ride from Twisp to Carlton on the back roads that avoid most of the traffic. It is rural and very scenic. The hills are mild and there is a lot to see. I failed to take pictures of the cool barns, rusting cars, horses, cattle or the beautiful Methow River that you follow all the way to Carlton. Above is the beaver pond that you pass about a third of the way to Carlton.

The Carlton Mall consits of a sign and a building

Along the Methow River on the way back to Twisp.

One could return via the main highway if you wanted to live in constant fear of being taken our by an inattentive RV driver, but the route is so nice you don’t mind doing it twice and you return by retracing your steps. I had the round trip at 21 miles and 700’ of total climbing that felt like only 300’. It the heat of summer the breeze off the river keeps you cool.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Biking is fun


Biking is fun.
Sometimes it is cold.....

Sometimes it is REALLY cold..

Sometimes it is wet.

But it is nearly always fun.

Friday, June 13, 2008

ATMO Going faster, or just thinking you are..

Before you look at the picture and think; poor guy, count the arms. Lucky for me I am not the subject of this picture.
Longer ride early this morning. Part of my ride was along the Sammamish River and Burke-Gilman trails. There are some sections that are really bumpy with tree roots that have effectively made small, but sharp, speed bumps that require attention from riders.

I was riding solo and I caught up to a group of cyclists from behind and was looking for a place to pass. They hit a particularly rough section and they all got out of their saddles and hung on for dear life as their machines bounced across the bumps almost uncontrollably. It intimidated me enough that I gave a little space in case someone went down. I braced myself, but did not experience the same DO-160D vibration test when I crossed the same pave’. When I passed them I noticed they all had carbon fiber bikes from major manufacturers and believe I simultaneously diagnosed the problem.

My Hottie had an aluminum Cannondale that was stiffer than cement and she was a hurtin’ girl on anything longer than fifty miles. I agree that Carbon dampens road vibration and if you have rough road, like chip seal, the ride is markedly better, but for smoothing out bumps, look to steel or Titanium. These poor fellows were suffering from Viagra frame syndrome.

The feeling you get (ATMO) riding across a sharp bump (or pothole) on bikes made of different frame material:

Aluminum: Crack, crack
Carbon fiber: Whump, whump
Steel or Ti: Boing (note single impact, rather than two distinct impacts)

Training for long rides here in the Pacific Northwest means you have to ride in the rain, hence the term rain bike. Because of this I often spend May and June alternating between three bikes for my training rides. The three bikes are now, Ti, steel and aluminum, but used to just be carbon and steel. When I rode my carbon Calfee I always felt like I was riding faster. It had Mavic Ksyrium’s and they are pretty stiff, so some of this was a result of the wheels I chose. I noticed that some of my times (or average speeds) on a given route were just as fast on my steel rain bike (Jamis Eclipse) than on my Carbon Calfee. The thing was; I always felt like I was going faster on the Calfee because I was essentially beat up from the road, I realized I just thought I had been going faster. Now this is only my personal experience and I don’t have control groups and blindfolded test data, but it makes sense to me so ATMO it is gospel. Koobi, who makes the best saddles in the world, has a motto "comfort=speed" and there is some logic to it.

I feel for the guys who give up comfort for that little bit more speed. Since the “Davo data” shows that in fact that they may not actually be getting any more speed, I pity them because their sacrifice may just be the price of admission to bow down at the feet of the god of vanity and current trends.

So out on the roads as I pass riders on their carbon bikes, I smile and enjoy my ride even more.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Puget Sound low tide June 2008

Hottie has spent the last two midday’s photographing the low tide here at Richmond Beach and Edmonds. I had to save the photos at a lower res so they could be uploaded, but some amazing pictures if you ask me (and even though you didn’t ask I could sense that you were going to, so here they are).
Our local weather fellow said this was the lowest tide since 1916.
The ferry you see is on the Edmonds - Kingston run.
The colorful photo inspires me to ask why people think earth tones are subtle.......

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bike Fit - It IS all they say

So I have been trying to match the geometry of my Seven on my other bikes. My Seven fits me like it was made for me (sly wink). There are all kinds of methods for measuring bike geometry. I thought I would key off of the bottom bracket (BB) since that is something I can’t adjust. Starting from the BB I take the measurements straight through the seatpost to the top of the saddle. This is Dimension A on my little chart. Then I figure out how far my saddle is setback from the center of the BB. I would use a plumb line, but the easier method is to put the front wheel against the garage door and measure the distance from the nose of the saddle to the wall and then the center of the BB to the wall and subtract the two. This gives you dimension B on the chart. Then take a measurement from the nose of the saddle to the center line of the handlebar. This is dimension C. Then figure how much lower or higher the bars are relative to the saddle. I use the simple method of measuring both heights from the ground and taking the difference. This is dimension D in the illustration.

Assuming you have a bike that fits well, you can get your other bikes to match, or if you are traveling, it gives you the ability to set up a strange bike with a minimum of hassle.

I measured out and changed the stems on my other bikes. I added a centimeter to my stem length on the steel Jamis and used an old Newton stem I had in my garage. Here is a photo of the new set up.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Third Generation makes it !

I think the world of my father. He was really one of the walking to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways kids. He really had a dirt floor and the family sacrificed to buy him shoes so he could go to school. He broke his mother’s heart when he left his job at the gas station to head off to college. With the help of the GI bill he was the first of his family to graduate from College. With my oldest son getting his diploma(s) my dad was thrilled that three generations had graduated from college.
We had a party this weekend to celebrate the occasion before the lad heads off to post graduate study abroad. The typical Seattle weather was unpredictable and changed throughout the day. Here are a couple of shots of the event.
You can see Pete our greeter, decked out as a grad and My handson son on top of Mt. Pilchuck.