Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bull Moose

Hiram Johnson proclaimed he felt as strong as a bull moose back in 1912. If you care to know more, look it up. The YMCA is open again after its annual cleaning. I did my full meal deal weight workout yesterday morning. I also rode at lunch with Paolo and he was just killing it on the hills. I was pretending to be Fabian Cancellara on the flats, so we were really rolling along. On one of the rollers, I just dug down and carried my speed into uphill and crested the top of the hill at 27mph.

I kept trying to take it easy because I knew today is my interval day. I was perhaps twitchy from racing the last two weekends, but I had a hard time going slow. I was worried that my back would be sore from my weight workout, but I still feel good. I feel as strong as a bull moose.

Intervals on the rollers this morning before sunrise with my music getting drowned out by the super cool Killer Headwind (let those who know, nod). I’m in full training mode. I’m so dedicated, I’ve even doing the all important push outs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cyclocross 2010 we are go !

The campaign begins anew.
On Saturday 9/18 my beloved Curtlo frame arrived at 12:15 and was rushed into the man cave. I cranked up the tunes and cranked up my bike assembly skills, and at 2:45 I was riding warm up laps at Starcrossed.

I hadn’t been on my cross bike since June, and I was predictably rusty. My rib and shoulder injuries had slowed my weight work as well. My legs were fresh and I felt I had some power. The carbon wheels required new brake pads and that set up wasn’t as dialed in as I would have liked so I was braking earlier for corners than I should have been. I was using the race as a tune up anyway, so I was happy with how everything worked. The new wheels have been wonderful so far. As a result of the new 80% rule, I was pulled before the final lap, so I actually didn’t get lapped.

On Sunday I raced my single speed bike, “The Baconator,” with moderate success. The course was pancake flat so I was geared a little low, but it worked out just fine. I had power and the tubie front dug in when needed. Hank said the course as “greasy” and that was an accurate description. As the rain increased dramatically during my race a puddle that had to be run across went from the size of a pizza to the size of a Volkswagen. I wore the skinsuit and tried not to feel self-conscious. It was good to be reminded how newbies feel when they put on bike shorts for the first time. I was not lapped and while others were pulled (or perhaps died on course) I was not. To finish on the same lap as Craig Ethridge is an honor.

Hottie was giving me a much appreciated massage on Sunday evening. After two races she noted some cuts on my legs and a bruise on my shoulder. Cyclocross has indeed begun.

This past weekend Hottie and I turned down multiple invitations on Saturday and forced ourselves to take some down time. On Sunday we caravanned down to the race with SFW.

Ask not for whom the pink bike rolls, it rolls for SFW. I took SFW on a wet loop while she got used to riding her rig on a real CX course. Well, kind of used to it...

I did the double and raced my age group at 10:15 and the Single speed at 1:30. It made for a long day, and the first minute of the Single speed race I thought my legs were going to explode. My age group race was going okay and I bonked on a short climb and lost about five places when I had been moving up.

My Single speed race was more fun and I beat some guys. I have to race against guys in their twenties, but they don’t mind, so I’m not about to complain. They are so welcoming I call them brothers as they pass me, or as I pass them….

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ride Cyclocross like a Girl !

A friend that has been featured in this blog took up cycling earlier this year. Following the natural evolution of things, she expressed an interest in Cyclocross. I would have loved to build her a top flight racing machine, but due to budget constraints, we had to opt for a frankenbike single speed. In the end, I am pretty pleased with the resulting machine. Expect to see it making the rounds at the Seattle Cyclocross events soon.

This is an environmentally friendly bike. That is my story and I am sticking to it. One could say that I selected some used parts that were gathering dust, but that would be perhaps a bit of an over-simplification. I would prefer to say we used some pre-owned components, or better yet; I used some parts that had successfully completed their break in period.

The frame, fork, headset and bars are new. The pedals, front brake, and seatpost are also making their debut on this bike. The frame and fork came in basic black which I considered to be a blank canvas awaiting completion. I obliged with some pink paint and decals.

The bike is race ready. The rear tire is a 30mm with aggressive tread so it can cut through the mud and grab, but the narrow width will give it lower rolling resistance for the fast sections. A wider front will allow better traction and perhaps some float when needed. The gearing is ideal and the new owner should be able to go as fast as she dares in this and slow down when she needs to.

The frame lacks a rear brake cable stop which I addressed rather deftly.

Check back for some shots of the bike in action..

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I can smell it

The perfect image for this post..

Our vacation in Hawaii was wonderful. It was warm, sunny, and, literally and figuratively, thousands of miles away. Now we’re home and the air is cool, the skies gray, and the ground is wet. Leaves are beginning to fall and the sun goes down earlier each day. Naturally when all these wonderful things come to pass a young man’s heart turns to Cyclocross. By the way, the same happens to an old man's heart.

I am excited to get started and see if my training will pay off. Based on my off season research the first thing one should do is develop a training plan. The plan will have phases depending on the time of year in relation to racing season. There are also different elements that receive different amounts of focus in each phase. Strength training, endurance training, specific drills such as intervals or one legged pedaling secessions. Since I organize, schedule and track for a living, this wasn’t a problem. I had my plan in place in January.

If you are Evo, the next thing you do is constantly alter those plans based on the injury that seems to be at the forefront at the time. Cracked ribs were a significant setback. Now my shoulder is acting up and I am wondering if I managed to tear my rotator cuff when I slipped while part of the Peloton of Discovery on our Oregon bike trip. This has affected my weight training and we’ll see how it works for cross.

I realize the fragile nature of my body as I continue to push the edge of what my aging bones will allow me to pursue. I don’t want to cross the line, but I do want to get really close to it. It reminds me of our boat trip to see the lava flowing into the ocean. The captain said people just want to get closer and closer. He said some private boats have gotten closer, but then something bad happens. While nobody wants the bad thing to happen, we all want to get closer don’t we?

I am getting ready for Cyclocross season with few expectations. I was disappointed in my racing last year, so I have made some changes. We’ll see if they help or not. Either way, Cyclocross is the coolest thing ever. I have three bikes I want to have ready by Saturday. One orange bike, another one is black and the last is a pink and black combo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post Vacation Report

It was a blast. I will try to keep this short.

Taking a vacation that was just a vacation
No racing, no family obligations, no objectives other than fun. I used miles for airfare and because of the economy I got a great deal on the condo and the car. We had been to the big island before and were able to do all that we wanted at our pace and only did one thing as part of a group.

This is so much fun. We enjoyed warm water with cool fish, and colorful coral. Our gear worked perfectly. Captain Cook was by far the best place to snorkel. We opened the gate because we were the first ones there. That made a big difference. 69 Beach was also great as was Mauna Kea resort beach (also the first ones in the water there). Swimming with turtles makes you feel like you are flying.

We hiked the Thurston lava tube and brought flashlights (or torches for my European followers) and went all the way to the end. Hottie took some photos with her weapon camera that revealed amazing colors in the tube that we couldn’t see with our lights. We got to see “the glow” after sunset. We took the expensive, but worth it, pre-dawn boat ride to see where the molten lava enters the ocean. That was an experience that involved all five senses.
We have never really used the video function on our cameras before and we went whole hog on this trip.

Gear Notes:
Patagonia “23” board shorts
These were amazing. I used to measure the quality of a vacation by how many days I could go without socks. Based on a comment from Big John M and my excellent experience with these board shorts I will be amending my criteria away from socks. They dried quickly and could go from ocean to restaurant to condo all in the same day. I now view my other shorts with contempt. I am considering using them on a backpack trip that I haven’t thought of yet.
Mini bieners
It would have been smart to clip my mini dry box to the key loop in my board shorts. I could have used a bunch on the trip. Mental note to self…

Lands’ End Lighthouse Duffle (size medium) Look at that baby..
When I realized my fins were too big to fit in my REI duffle, I put my REI duffle in my big orange Lands’ End duffle and put the fins inside that as well. The big orange duffle proved the perfect bag to dump fins, masks, towels, snorkels, sunscreen, etc. into. When we arrived to go snorkeling, just grab the bag and go. This was totally unplanned, but proved to be really handy. My REI bag has pockets and compartments galore. It is an organizers dream. In contrast, the Lands’ End bag is essentially a single compartment that swallows gear. Both have their ideal uses. This Lands’ End is a bargain and was perfect for our needs.
Dive booties
I worried they might be a bit of overkill; same with the shorty wetsuits. Both proved to be invaluable. Walking out on the rocks without recoiling like we were walking on a bed of nails was nice. Also, no blisters from the fins, and I attribute that to the dive booties. We were in the water for a long time, and the shorties allowed us to stay out longer.

Bose noise cancelling headphones
On the flight home these kept me from screaming. Hottie and I had two seats of the triple and were dreading an obese row companion. Not to worry, a woman with a one year old girl that acted like a monkey on cocaine sat next to me. I smiled and turned up the volume and pretended I didn’t feel the tiny arm that flailed and grabbed me for the next five hours. I made faces and played with her as much as I could, but she just kept squirming. When the mom purchased a fruit plate and a small bottle of wine from the flight attendant (by the way, they hate it when you call them waitresses) I prayed she would put the wine into a bottle and give it to the little girl. She selfishly drank it all herself.

Experience, Research and Recommendations
Having been there before we had an idea what we wanted to do. Friends and a great book, “Hawaii - The Big Island Revealed,” really gave us an inside track. The internet was a source for directions and personal accounts. We talked to everyone and got some good recommendations. This included friends here on the mainland, as well as locals on the island. Just slowing down and listening, people were happy to share their knowledge with two pale visitors.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lucky me

Don't look kids..

Hottie and I took flashlights and explored the Thurston Lava Tube. Way cool...

Hottie and Evo chillin'

Lava spilling into the ocean..

Too much desertn't

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Swimming with the fishes

Yeah, it was pretty cool

Life is a beach

Oh, and the water is warm..

The air is fresh as well...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pre fun Rant – “Smart” Signs ?

Well, at least I FEEL smarter..

As I slog home from work every evening I have watched a newfangled traffic control system get implemented here is Seattle. First came the anchors, then the steel beams overhead, and finally the dot matrix screens. After weeks of testing, the system finally went “live.” The “system” consists of a series of adjustable speed limit signs posted over the individual lanes. They are some distance apart, let’s say a quarter mile. They are designed to “control” the flow of traffic and reduce congestion. Kind of like the controls in place at the freeway on ramps. The concept sounds like it could work. I bet we’re not the first to try it. I sure hope we studied one of these in use somewhere else before we bought ours…

As I approached the first sign on the day it went live the sign said slow down speed limit 50. This would have been cool expect I was going twenty miles an hour. The next sign said speed limit 45. I was now going ten miles an hour. The rest of the signs said speed limit 40, but we never got above fifteen miles an hour. Every day since, my experience has had the same. It doesn’t work.

We paid twenty six million dollars for this well oiled machine. I am sure there is someone, somewhere who decides what numbers to put where; so there is an ongoing expense as well.

I guess I feel a little "Stimulated."