Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010 The winter that wasn’t

Here is a shot of Paolo riding along the waters of Puget Sound. It took us about thirty tries before the pole lined up with his head, but I think the wait was worth it !

Humming along I tap my shifters to add a gear. My legs are spinning and I feel rock solid on my saddle. My speedometer indicates I am flying, but it feels easy. I recall George Hincapie’s favorite line when the pedaling is easy, “is my chain still on?” It feels that nice today.

The ground is dry and I left my fenders are in the back of the car. I’m riding on my lunch hour through rolling hills down to the waters of the Puget Sound. The residents of this neighborhood are at work and the streets are quiet and only a few cars pass by. We have been able to squeeze in more than our share of lunch hour rides, and every time we make it down to the water, and we stay dry, I feel like we are playing hooky.

We had some cold days in Mid December and since then it has been pre-spring around these parts. The ski resorts have had some nervous days, but our heating bills are way down. We still have February to get through, and I’ve seen some cold days in February so I know we’re not out of the woods. I do enjoy leaving my monster gloves and wool beanie in the box at home when I go riding.

Last winter was an endless series of 34 degree team rides. I have set my sights on a ride in California in May that will drive my springtime training and allow me to dream of riding with the sun on my back.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ode to Joy Fizik Aliante interm preliminary review

One thing, just ONE thing can make such a difference

More miles on the new saddle. I wish I could invoke trumpets to signal how much joy it brings to me. I was sad to bid goodbye to the Koobi. It did a good job, but without getting to personal, it kind of got too personal for me. Everyone said the Arione was the shizzle. I should have known better then to drink the kool aid on that one. Since the part of my body that goes on the saddle isn't flat, why would I think it would be comfortable on a flat saddle?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First impressions Fizik Aliante

My loyal followers will note that I usually wear something out before I feel I can provide an adequate product review of said item. Those of you foolish enough to check this space often are aware I am searching for a new saddle. I concluded the Arione was not for me and I tried an Antares. While drastically different than the Arione, my initial impression was that (like the Arione) it must be an acquired taste. I was resigned to the fact that my search would be long and painful.

When I plopped my backside on the Aliante today, I wondered if some Italian elves had secretly made a plaster cast of my butt and then built the Aliante, because the saddle felt wonderful. I may not be out of the woods yet, but I am hopeful. Perhaps there is cause for joy in Mudville tonight. If this does work, and I think it will be the one, I will give a full review when I have a several hundred more miles on it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fees and Freedom

This may be ending very badly

Here in the cowardly new world, profits are bad. When we had Bush in the Whitehouse everyone was angry at the government. Now that we have Obama in; everyone is mad about profits. Apparently the government is considering a fee, which is a new code word for tax (if you pay money to the government it is a tax) based on public opinion de jour. I heard that since Americans were angry with Banks that there is a movement to tax Banks for paying bonuses. Last month the government was going to limit bonus money for health care executives. Why not tax tire manufacturers? There are more cars than people with health insurance, so the need for tires is pretty universal. Shouldn’t having fresh tires be a right, not a privilege for the few who somehow found the money to buy new tires? The cost of new tires affects the poor disproportionately, so I think the government must step in and make it a fair. When I say fair, I don't mean fair as in equitable, i mean fair as in county fair. Because if the government keeps jumping into the private sector, it will be like a creepy country fair with Carnies running your healthcare, your banks, your communications (phone and internet) and eventually regulating your tire purchases.

Thomas Jefferson said:
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.

He also said:
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Down Time

Healing is the word of the season.

Busy days and busy evenings are my life. No worries though. This is what I was made for.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The long and winding road

Available in bulk ?

Hottie is back home and I'm not going to expose her private life to the slings and arrows of my readers. I'll just say she had some major surgery and will spend ALL of 2010 recovering. I am so relieved she is back and on the road to recovery. We all hear the words, weigh the odds and make the decisions. When you see the magnitude of the challenges those decisions bring to pass it stops you. It forces us to put on our brave face and go through the motions until we get our feeling back. Sometimes you are forced to be in a world that is so far out of your comfort zone you almost feel as though you are bluffing your way along. When I drove in England (on the wrong side of the road) I did okay. But when I finally finished my business trip and returned my car to the rental lot at Heathrow Airport I had such a sense of relief when I turned off the engine. I realized that I had been doing a challenging thing, that could have gone horribly wrong, and I was so relieved it was done.

That is where we are now. As I write this Hottie and Lily are sleeping. There is peace in the Evo Compound tonight.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fifty degree JANUARY Ride

There are more of the usual suspects when the mercury stays away from freezing

Nothing epic here. Just the usual Sunday ride with the fine fellows (and a lady today). The temps are about ten to twelve degrees warmer than usual for this time of year and I am so okay with that ! The Northwest winters are unique because usually we have our choice of clear and in the thirties or cloudy (and often rainy) and close to fifty degrees. We have had a fluke where our Sundays have been transition days that have been dry and nice temps.

The lads were in a friendly mood today and happily regrouped frequently.

We have provisioned the headquarters office in preparation for Hottie's looming downtime.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Crank Bros Eggbeaters Review

Evo's pedal of choice. Not a wasted gram of material anywhere !

In a cross race at Fort Flagler a few years ago there was a sand pit the full width of the course that was forty to sixty feet in length. There was solid grass before and after the pit. Turns before the pit drained all your speed on the approach. As you hit solid ground after the pit you had a short steep uphill and a sharp right hand turn to the finishing line. Some people rode the sand, some ran it, and many stalled part way through. A good run was as fast as a good ride. It was one of those beautiful Cyclocross spots where desire made the difference. On the last lap a rider I had been battling the whole race nosed ahead of me and I hung on his wheel approaching the pit. I moved next to him as we hit the sand. I dismounted and ran for all I was worth and remounted ahead of him. I churned up the hill and beat him across the line.

A few weeks before I had not been as lucky when remounting after a muddy Northwest run up. I jumped on and stomped on my pedal. There was no click. I tried the other side without success. My pedals looked like scoops of chocolate ice cream and my shoes were no doubt also caked with thick sticky mud. I scraped my shoe against my pedal to clear it and finally clipped in. In the time it took me to get clipped, I had lost several places. I fought hard and passed back some, but not all, of the riders who had passed me. After the race I was upset and swore I would replace my SPD pedals with Eggbeaters. By the next race I had installed the Eggbeaters and I have never looked back.

There are a lot of races where pedal selection doesn’t matter. Grassy courses, or ones that are dusty. Dry sand can be ridden with most any pedal. Soupy mud is amazingly easy on different pedal types. The thick cloddy, sticky stuff is where the pedals that contend and the ones that pretend part ways. I can’t speak to all the options out there; I can only say the Eggbeaters are outstanding.

Pedals are supposed to do three things, be easy to clip into, keep you in when you ride, allow you to exit predictably. Durability, serviceability, etc, are required for all components, so I don’t see them as specific to pedals. Exiting the Eggbeaters is as predictable as the sunrise. I’ve never had an unhappy ending in my years of Cyclocross with these.

This past summer I read how to service them, and accordingly removed the dust caps and lubed them. Frankly they had thrived even with total maintenance neglect. They are stout, simple and function great. In use, they shed mud because there is nothing for it to cling to. If you get mud in it, your cleat will push it out because unlike other pedals, there is nothing blocking the mud being pushed out. They release exactly when you expect and I don’t feel any flex.

These excel in Reliability, Simplicity, Predictability, and Performance. If there is something else you want a pedal to do, I can’t think of it. Five stars

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My eight month Cyclocross vacation is underway

A perfect day in central Washington

It took a few weeks, but I think I am finally getting warm after racing in Bend. While I love Cyclocross with great passion, I recall the words of El Presidente when we were riding in the seventy degree sunshine around Lake Chelan last June. As we swooped along a curvy downhill among vineyards and grass fields he recalled the frigid morning rides of the previous January and said, “I think I prefer riding in warm weather.”

Currently riding entails shoe covers, beanies, lights, fenders with mud flaps while wearing comical monster gloves and untold layers of clothing. Our sunglasses have either clear or yellow lenses and are worn primarily to keep our faces warm.

As I catch up on my reading and catalog perusing, I see the photos of riders with bronze arms, fingerless gloves and short socks and I realize I won’t complain when the sunrise comes before my alarm and the post ride laundry can be grabbed with one hand.

My scrapes are turning into nice scars and my fingers are healing from who knows what over the last several months. My shop has been cleaned up and the cross bike has begun hibernation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Saddle up. It's 2010

Now that I realize Jonathan Page checks my blog every day just before eating his Nutella slathered Waffle breakfast, I feel driven to maintain a more flowing dialogue in 2010.

Like an addict that must be compelled to admit he has a problem, I feel I must step up to the front of the room and tell you all, that although I don’t have anything against him, I’m not actually a friend of Bill W’s. I will, however, also say that my name is Evo and while I could continue ride on a Fizik Arione if I had to, I just don’t want to. Thus I find myself re-entering the scary world of saddle hunters. My spin instructor swears by his Selle An-Atomica, but I’m not ready to drink that Kool Aid yet. 500 plus grams is staggering for a saddle no matter how comfortable it may be, and from what I have read, like every other saddle, it works for some and not for others. In 2009 I went with the tide of popular opinion and tried the Fizik Arione. I tried and tried, and for a while even convinced myself it was okay, but for me, in fact, it is not. The saddle is so unique that I am amazed it has the fan base that it does. Maybe everyone else is as susceptible to the marketing hype as I was. In the final analysis it was very much like riding on the top tube.

I was looking at my riding companions last Sunday (we had a dozen brave souls do the Mercer loop this past weekend) and the saddles were as different as the people that went on them. I am listening to my friends and begin my journey with an open mind and fresh cheeks.

I will keep you updated on my hunt.