Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Brotherhood of the Angry Bee

It is total magic that turns this into a killer wheel. A killer Bee Wheel to be exact...

Breaking something on a bike ride is the worst. Often, the only highlight is replacing it. In my mind’s eye, I take very good care of my equipment so I take it as a personal failure when something breaks. In the interest of brevity we shall just say the rear wheel on my steel rain bike died a loud and ugly death.

This is the bike (and the wheel) I planned to take on an upcoming multi-day epic. I stopped into 2020 Cycle on Capitol Hill (the coolest bike shop ever) and got some hardware on order. I wanted something bombproof and reliable. I didn’t need the latest bling; nor was I overly concerned about weight. Logic steered me to a Chris King Classic Cross hub and DT 465 rims. I would lace them with DT Swiss 14/15 gauge Double Butted spokes and of course any kind of nipples as long as they are brass. The DT rims are not the lightest, but neither is Evo. The CK hubs are a benchmark that my previous Campagnolo sponsorship prevented me from exploring.

The CK hubs are noteworthy for a number of reasons. The most noticeable cannot be seen. The hubs have a unique sound. They make that sound rather loudly. Most cycling freehub wheels make a clicking sound when they coast. The clicks correspond to the number of “engagement” opportunities. Campagnolo hubs have a very crisp click. DT Swiss hubs have a similar sharp sound, albeit in a different pitch. My dead Mavic hub had a soft click. The Mavic hubs have about twenty clicks per revolution. There are two pawls that pass the (approximately) twenty teeth on the freehub. The twenty clicks are really forty clicks, two at a time. The more engagement teeth, the more clicks per revolution. The more teeth you have the stronger the spring needs to be. The CK hubs have a 72 tooth ring running against a 72 tooth freehub. That is 72 clicks per rotation. But since there are 72 teeth passing 72 teeth per rotation there are really 5,184 clicks per rotation, 72 at a time. At eighteen miles an hour that is over 20,000 clicks per second. The result is a buzzing sound.

The work begun...
Chris King received a fabled letter from a Japanese cyclist named Akiyoshi Takamura, who reported on the hubs in his best English saying, "It rolls good with angry bee sound." The Angry Bee nickname stuck. Those who ride the hubs consider themselves part of the Brotherhood (or Sisterhood) of the Angry Bee.

That Angry Bee sound also means the hubs engage very quickly when you start to pedal. Though it may not be something you think about on your current bike, when you ride these, you notice it. In a road bike application it may not be any kind of performance increase, but you do notice it.

The parts arrived and Tuesday evening I built the wheel. It came together nicely and feel incredibly solid. The DT rims are tough. I put a nice high tension on the spokes and during the whole build and truing process the rim never got very argy bargy. The Classic Cross hub has a taller non drive side flange which is supposed to make a stouter wheel. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, I have digressed into total bike geek speak.

Look ! Wires and metal becoming a wheel !

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guest Post RACE REPORT Cascade Classic 2010

John racing Cyclocross Nationals in Bend in December 2009. Note the hint of intensity...
If I get some photos of John from the race, I will amend the post accordingly.

Big John is one of the cornerstones of team 20/20 Fuel and this was what his second year of the Cascade Classic looked like from his Italian saddle.

I finished the Cascade Classic Stage Race in central Oregon yesterday afternoon and am now here for a week with the family. I ultimately finished 27th in the GC. 38 riders started in my 45 + category. At the end of the grueling 4 races over 3 days, we were down to 28. As mentioned to some of you previously, the Masters category includes 35+ and 45 + riders. We race together, but are placed separately. There was no Cat 1 to Cat 5 distinction. Accordingly, there were 100 riders starting the race in our Masters group. All the riders that I recognized from Seattle were Cat 2's, including Kyle Farrell of Garage, who actually won the Cat 2 race here last year. Participating in this race was a humbling experience.

7/23/10 Stage 1 Cascade Lakes Road Race (71 miles) 28th place

88 degrees at the 11:50 AM start and it climbed to 92 during the ride. (The new 2020 white jersey was a Godsend. Whose idea was that?) With less than a minute to go at the start line, we were informed that there would only be one feed zone for water bottle distribution even though the Tech Guide had two shown on the map. Luckily, I had an extra 1/2 bottle in my jersey pocket with two full bottles in the cages. This race immediately started with a 3 mile climb toward the Mount Bachelor ski area and then turned to the left and headed downhill for about 11 miles toward Sunriver before it headed gradually back upward on Forest Service roads to the ski area parking lot from the back side of the mountain. The Forest Service roads undulated a bit. There was a strict yellow line rule in effect for the entire race. The race was fast from the beginning with surges and slowing in the pack that kept me on my toes at all times. I hung on well until the sanctioned feed zone at 49.1 miles. It was great to see my wife there in the 2020/Fuel jersey and she made a perfect bottle hand off with words of encouragement.

Leaving the feed zone, the pace quickened and I had to ride like hell to hang on up a rise for about a kilometer. Finally, things settled and I found myself safely back in a mid pack position near Greg Kauper and Todd Gallagher of IJM. I was starting to feel like I was up to the task at this point of hanging on with the big boys for the next 20 miles. There I stayed for another 10 miles. Unfortunately, at mile 61, the real climbing began with sharp acceleration. I tried to stay on, but realized quickly that I couldn't and kept in mind that I had 3 more races to complete over the next two days. I backed off and trudged up at my own pace.

After the surge, I passed several other 35 + and 45 + straggling riders and then was totally on my own. I began to feel horrible in the heat and wind as my water bottles drained. Luckily, I got an extra bottle from the wheel car as it passed me. Otherwise, I would not have made it. Eight of the last ten kilometers were a steep ascent in direct sun and I was happy to have 27 teeth to use on the inside of the cassette. Finally, with the road flattening a bit with 2 K to go, I was able to pick up speed for the big ride around the ski area parking lot to the finish. Exhausted, I finished 28th at 3:04:51. This was nearly 4 minutes slower than my finish in this race last year. Interestingly, to give you some idea of the strength of the masters field, my time in 28th position was still five, count them, FIVE minutes ahead of the Cat 4 winning time.

Overall, a disappointing result, but I survived to race the next day.

7/24/10 Stage 2 Skyliner Drive Time Trial (15.2 miles) 24th place

Finishing the road race in 28th place left me with an early 9:21 AM start time.

The course was literally 7.6 miles up and 7.6 miles down from the turnaround. I started out spry at a constant 25 to 27 mph out of the parking lot and onto the first relatively flat 1/2 mile, but then felt heaviness in the legs from the day before as the climb went on and on and on. Luckily, I saw the turnaround ahead just as I was contemplating giving up. I flew down at a constant speed of about 30 mph on average and finished at 38:46. All in all, I was not unhappy with the result and still felt that I had life in the legs for the crit later in the afternoon.

7/24/10 Stage 3 Downtown Criterium (40 minutes) 32nd place

This was an amazing course. Downtown Bend's main streets were totally blocked off. A huge crowd lined the course.

Why did I take that last pre-race ride around the course? As a result, I started one row from the back in a crowd of 100. From the beginning it was a rocket fast race on a superfast, clockwise, 4 corners course. One end of the course was a sharp turn protected by hay bales. I hung on for dear life looking at the radar speed sign near the finish line at each lap. Honestly, I never saw the reading go below 31 mph while with the pack. With about 15 minutes to go, I lost my grip and got dropped. I gave it all I had to get back on, but to no avail and was pulled with just about 10 minutes left. I worked really hard in this attempt riding solo and had good call outs on the PA system for 2020/Fuel from Seattle. Only later did I learn that I was one of the last riders pulled and that the chief judge gave me an additional lap because I appeared to be gaining ground in my second to last lap. Fortunately, I had enough time in when I was pulled to make the time cut to continue into the next stage.

Again, I was not happy with my placing, but gave all I had.

7/25/10 Stage 4 Aubrey Butte Circuit Race (67 miles)

This race was a 4 lap race run on a 17-mile circuit. In the last third of the circuit there was a significant 1 K climb at about mile 11 and 2 k's of climbing with a steep stretch at about mile 13. This was yet another course that Brothers Laesch and Wood would have eaten up. The second climb section was a bear, at least for me. However, I figured with my size I could make up time and hang on with the descents. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.

In the first lap, I hung front to mid pack, really moving forward on descents and keeping momentum up rolling hills. I stayed in place in the first 1 k climb and for most of the second big climb at miles 13 to 15. I dropped off a bit at 15, but with the pack in striking distance and a long descent, I figured I would catch on just after the sharp right turn at a traffic circle to start the second lap on the circuit. Unfortunately, I carried too much speed into the sharp right and had to abort the turn just ahead of the following official car and headed around the traffic circle for a ways to the left. By the time I turned around, the pack was well down the road and out of reach. This left me with a 50 mile solo ride to finish the race.

I rode at a steady pace alone for the remaining 3 laps, but it was tough in 90 degree heat and with a slight wind from the west. I came upon several other dropped riders early on, but no one showed interest in working together. I toyed with the idea of calling it a day after the third lap, but knew deep inside that I had to finish. The final lap was literally painful, but I ultimately finished 27th out of the 28 remaining riders in my category with a solid out of the saddle solo sprint at the end. I sprinted because I was so ready to get off my bike.

My time in this one, was over 20 minutes off my time in this race last year, but last year I stayed with the group into the third lap final climb. It was impossible to keep much speed riding alone for 50 miles. I was totally exhausted after the race and my feet were on fire at the pedal points. I was pleased that I simply finished the race. Looking at the results today, I noted that there were 3 DNF's among the 45 + riders and 5 DNF's among the 35 + riders in the race and that I also finished ahead of 3 other 35 + riders. This made me feel a little bit better about the result, as I sure felt like I was the very last rider on the course when I finished.


As mentioned, I finished 27th in the GC with 38 starting 45 + riders and 28 finishing. I had hoped to have a better result this year than last year, but things did not work out as planned. I believe altitude and heat, in particular, impacted me significantly. This is a tough race with a strong masters field. Today, I feel good about sticking with it and finishing each of the stages. Although last night, I was of a different mindset, today I am beginning to think I might try this again next year.

Being in central Oregon, I am well aware that CX season is just around the corner. Nationals will here again in December. Today, it was 100 degrees warmer than it was here on the first day of Nationals last December.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Work before Play this weekend

Mt. Baker from the ferry terminal on Lopez Island

My profession involves creating and executing plans. Hottie and I had talked about putting a patio surface under our deck for some time. When the ideas swirling around my brain began to coalesce, so did a plan. I began by excavating a four foot by four foot area next to a small cement pad under our back door. Using old boards I bounded the area and put down crushed rock because we needed to maintain an easement for Tux the wonder dog to come and go as needed. We had a small mound of crushed rock that was left over from a parking pad that had been a project last summer.

Understandably, this small section was unimpressive. Over the next two weeks I expanded the area, a bit at a time, in the evenings after work. Last week I stopped on the way home each evening and purchased thirty to forty bricks and two hundred pounds of sand. By Friday I had the required bricks and sand. I made a tamper out of plywood, an old 4x4, a broom stick and fifteen pounds of weights.

This is the drainage pipe buried..

Crushed rock having been "tamped" down. Note the homespun tamper to the right..

Saturday I made one last trip to Home Depot and attacked. Dig the final dimensions. Dig, route and bury a drain pipe. Pour on the crushed rock. Pour on the sand. Curse; buy more sand. Spread the sand. Watch Tux walk on the sand. Curse; spread the sand. Lay the pavers. Admire ever so briefly.

The actual laying of the pavers was cake !

This was a daunting task that is suited to men much younger than Evo. I was only able to accomplish it by working it a piece at a time. It would have been easy to dismiss the project as being too big for a man now known in some circles and “fiddy-cent,” but my perseverance paid off.

After running out of time only moments before my back muscles exploded in revolt, I showered and Hottie and I went and caught the races at the Marymoor Velodrome.

More Play:
Sunday we drove up to Anacortes and caught a ferry to Lopez Island for a leisurely circumnavigation of the Island with a nice lunch thrown in.

Evo leaving Annacortes

Hottie ready for lunch !

Seattle Summer Mondays

The goal realized

An ideal weekend for me is one that leaves me mentally refreshed and physically exhausted. This weekend hit the mark. We wait all year for these, and when they come, we go big. Looking around the office this morning, it looks like there was an epidemic. Well done all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Guest Race Report TTT State Championships

Team 20/20 Fuel Burning it up !

Race Report from the Washington State Team Time Trail Championships.
Tim was our guest writer. Thanks to him for letting us into his head...

Our team was the same as last year: Brad “I only let my legs explode after we cross the finish line”, Sam “the only thing I own are the tires”, John “at least they’re not making me try to draft behind Brad”, and Tim “I’m hypoxic but still try to do math”. Our primary goals were to beat our time from last year and look moderately competent when we passed Janet taking pictures.

The weather at the course in Elma was misty-grey overcast, slightly breezy, and surprisingly chilly after such a nice week. We took off at 9:24, had a nice steady start, and settled into our rotation, trying not to go too hard out of the gate. We were the ninth team on the road and started seeing teams heading back the other direction about a third of the way into the ride. Up to the halfway point, our rotations were pretty consistent and steady. About 45-50 minutes into the ride, we caught and passed the Byrne team which started 3 min ahead of us (definitely one of the highlights of the day). The suffering then began in earnest for the final stretch home. Heading into the last mile, we could see our “six minute” team about 45 seconds ahead of us which – in the rare moments we could see straight at this point in the race – was a nice final carrot. The last half mile is a slight downhill and we goaded Sam to give us a final “death pull” as we headed towards the last 90 degree turn. With all of us at our limits, we came apart just a bit at this point, splitting into two groups of two – but managed to get three of us back together for the last turn and 200m sprint to the finish line. Immediately after passing the finish line, Brad pulled to the side as his legs cramped from the last sprint and the rest of us slowly spun down the road waiting for our heart rates to drop back down to a level where we could talk again.

The results: we beat our time from last year by 1:25, finishing in 1:10:16 over the 32 mile course – an average speed of 27.4 mph. This was good enough for the silver medal (for the third year in a row), behind a bunch of guys from Wenatchee all of whom had very very tricked out TTT bikes and beat us by 1:45. We were 2:30 ahead of the third place team and 4:20 ahead of the boys from Byrne. All in all, a great - though thoroughly exhausting – effort which was rewarded with beers upon returning to Seattle.

Team 20/20 got extra credit for giving assistance to the Cycle U Cat 4/5 team that crashed badly when their lead rider rode off the road into gravel. He went down, taking down the rest of the team. One rider went to the hospital with a broken collarbone and another was badly scraped with a ring finger that will clearly need some tendon surgery. Evo Davo – who was out on the course with Janet taking photos – came to their aid and transported two of the riders and bikes back to the start area where Sam helped clean up the wounds.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blood on the Highway..

(Additional lyrics by J. Browne and G. Frey)

Don't try this at home kids..

Despite my nearly Jesuit-like training in topic sentences, today I don’t make my point until the end of the post.

This past weekend saw Evo and Hottie journey to the suburbs of Elma for the State TTT championship. Evo is still nursing cracked ribs from a crash at the Mountains to Sound multisport relay. The team did well and Hottie got some great pictures. This is for informational purposes only, I am just setting the stage.

While Hottie was shooting, Tux and I were relaxing when a car pulled up and said there was a crash down the road and the riders needed help. Tux the wonder dog and I jumped in the war wagon and zipped south looking for the downed riders.

I came upon four Cycle University riders laying/sitting in the ditch by the side of the road. When I stopped only two of them sat up. Their bikes were also lying in the ditch. Although all had some level of scrapes and torn clothing, two were clearly worse off than their teammates.

Of the two that were bad off, one rider had the classic posture of a broken collarbone. He was pale and quiet. Even my outdated First Aid training told me he was the one to watch. The other looked like he was going to a Halloween party as he had blood everywhere; but his cuts were real. Because it makes me squeamish to recall it, I won’t paint you any more of the picture than I already have. The guy with all of the cuts was talkative and appeared to be a strong fellow who was experienced with pain. My own experience with pain told me both of these guys were potential shock victims and in need of help.

With nobody else around I decided to take the two bad guys and their bikes to the start/finish area to get some help. As I was putting their bikes on the roof rack a first responder showed up and after the six of us had a brief discussion, he called for an ambulance for the broken collarbone guy. I decided to take the cut guy and one of the better off guys back so the better off guy could drive to the scene and get the remaining bikes and assuming the ambulance took the collarbone fellow, the remaining rider. It turned out all four bikes were unridible.

The drive back to the start/finish area went quick and when the better off guys started a sentence with the words, “Well, one consolation is…” The bloody guy cut him off and said firmly, “There is no consolation today.” He was sitting awkwardly to avoid getting blood on the car. I tried to think of a bright side and finally concluded there was none. I called ahead to one of our TTT riders who is a darn fine Doctor so he was waiting and attended to the bloody mess I brought there. Another Cycle U team had just finished, and with enough minds and bodies to help, I was able to step out of the picture.

As I was leaving the start/finish area to return to Hottie she called and said a team had reported another crash and asked her to call an ambulance. She called 911 and after some characteristic missteps, two ambulances sped to the fallen riders. We had no official capacity at the race, yet if we had not been where we were, things could have gotten ugly.

This morning I received an email survey asking me about my Mountains to Sound relay experience. That event and this had something in common. No clear methodology to deal with accidents. If you pay money to participate in any non Randonneuring event there should be a number to call, someone on the course, a nurse, a doctor, an EMT, something for Pete’s sake.

I will admit that despite being my Mother’s child, I almost never read the fine print. If there had been an emergency number I would have ignored it, but I would take responsibility for that. Having nothing was pretty poor and I expect race promoters to do better.

Jumping back to being my mother’s child, I do ride with my Road ID pretty much all the time. I wore it for Davis and TdB and anytime I am not riding with Hottie. It won’t call for an ambulance or anything, but if anyone can think of a reason not to wear one of these, let me know and we can start a loud argument.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fredfest 2010

I will try not to be an ass..

While I try to espouse kumbayah and there’s room for all in the big tent philosophies; this is a satiric post

Here in the Northwest the rite of passage for cyclists is the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride. It covers 200 miles and can be done in one or two days and is generally flat and very doable. The STP is held in mid July, and with summer traditionally starting July 5th there are not a lot of dry training days for STP riders. To prepare properly you have to start before May, which means riding in the rain. Lots of people wait for sun to ride. The result is the weeks before the STP the bike paths are jammed with seasonal cyclists trying to make up for lost training time.

Hottie on the left, Freds on the right

The STP itself gives one an opportunity to ride with eight to ten thousand of your closest cycling friends. If you are thinking it would be great to do a bike ride with ten thousand riders who know how to ride in pacelines, and are familiar with all of the courtesies of large rides, you are correct. The STP, sadly, is not that ride. I can’t back it up with statistics; but I believe there is a huge percentage of riders who do this one event each year and put the bike away the next day for ten or eleven months. Seeing a peloton on TV and knowing how to ride in a paceline or a group are very different. I have seen stupid crashes (pulling on a friend’s aerobars to help him up a hill….crash, surprise!) on this ride as well as pacelines with sixty riders, none of whom knew each other. It does have great support and a high percentage of riders finish, but it can be scary.

I recall renting a car in the UK and driving on the left side of the road for several days. When I was returning the car at Heathrow to fly home I would always breathe a sigh of relief that the ordeal was done. I had that same feeling the last time I finished the STP. I was glad to be unscathed. Most serious cyclists, including myself, are happy to skip this one.

You can spot the STP riders by the following indicators.
Helmet number – They never remove their number from the last STP, but consider it a badge of honor. It is in fact a flag of Fred and it helps us cynics to stereotype at a faster rate. I have even seen one guy who put clear packing tape over the number to preserve it.
Tyvek Jackets – In some years every entrant gets one of these portable stinky saunas. Designed for standing they expose several inches of forearm when in a riding position. It is tough being a Fred.
Camelbacks – While great for the trail, they look goofy on the road. This isn’t Arizona..
Toe Straps – Aside from spin class (and you should still have SPD shoes in there) there is no good reason to have toe straps on a bike. Arguing with me on this is a waste of time.
Cotton – You don’t see many riders without bike shorts, but you will see plenty wearing short and long sleeve T-shirts.
One outfit – I was this guy once – The way you spot these cyclists is they are wearing shorts and a short sleeved jersey when it is 45 degrees. The bright red arms and legs are the giveaway.
Gardening Gloves – No elaboration needed.

In late June and early July the bike trails are crowded with these Freds. The routes that are deserted in February come June are crowded with bikes, joggers, moms with strollers, rollerblades and recumbents. You can’t take your riding too seriously on the trails or you lose your mind.

No annoying clicking sound when you step on or off these pedals...

Your lips are cracked and bleeding from saying “on your left” so many times if feels weird when you don’t say it for a minute or two.

As the STP date gets even closer you can spot the panic in people’s eyes. Each day of July gets crazier and crazier. At the same time, the folks who are just weekend riders and not doing the STP flood the bike trails.

With the damp spring and non-summer we’ve had, we are so grateful for a sunny weekend we’ll be out there enjoying the Fredfest like everyone else. You may spend the weekend riding a bike and pointing at me and saying, “what a Fred.”

Hottie and a clear stretch of trail !!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summertime Nooner

Distractions abound

Paulo and I went for a ride today around Alki. To welcome the warm weather we took an extended lunch and got in just under 23 miles. I wore a sleeveless jersey for the first time this year and noticed it has a small zippered key pocket inside the right rear jersey pocket. We like those kind of surprises.

The route to West Seattle was true urban grit. Not the downtown with buses and bike messengers and girls with purple hair. This was the dirty manufacturing, with rusty nails, train tracks, loose gravel and zoned for heavy carcinogen production grit.

Then we passed under the spaghetti that is the west end of the West Seattle Freeway and we were smelling the water and feeling the sunshine.

After a long winter and disappointing spring of riding at noon under grey skies on wet roads, this was what we had dreamed of. We stopped and took it all in.

Seattle skyline from Alki.

Paulo looking lean and fast..

We proceeded around Alki and on down to Fauntleroy. The sun was warm and the road was essentially flat and we were in no hurry to shorten our ride time by going fast. Paul showed me a short cut that avoided the hill before the ferry and after a deep drink of nuun, we climbed from the water to cut across south of White Center to Boulevard Park and then to the office.

Time for lunch. Someone photo-shopped this so I have lines on my forehead and grey in my sideburns. What the heck ?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Only two more days till Summer starts

Tux completing the swim portion of the Event

Although it was a soggy morning, hope prevailed and the sun came out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Half Year Report

My training log..

June 30th marks six months of 2010 in the books.
Training report: 2,155 miles, 141 workouts, 161 hours of training.
Weather report: Summer has not yet begun
Vacation Report: TBD

My body is recovering from my crash last weekend. My bruises have turned green and when combined with the red scrapes on my white skin it makes my back look like an Italian flag, which is cool in a Campagnolo kind of way.

I’ve ridden twice this week with low motivation as I am still sore from the crash. My frame is on its way to the Frame God, Doug of Curtlo.