Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wring out the (c)old..

After what seemed like weeks of darkness and rain, Hottie and I enjoyed a beautiful ride today.
After a bit of a break with "Chismus," grandkids, ham and the like, I've done a bit of riding to close out 2012.
Despite the chilly temps we were out Sunday.  Nothing says "skip the stripe," like fenders.  Nothing says "I'm considerate" like buddy flaps on those fenders..
The clouds hide the tall buildings of Bellevue, giving the horizon the appearance that we are looking at an island in the great lakes.  We did the usual loop, stopping only to check the mail a couple times. 
Coffee and baked goods helped get us back to operating temperatures....
Today Hottie and I snuck out for an end of year ride to celebrate the sun break !!  Tux needed a quick trip to the vet for some paw repair first thing this morning, otherwise it was a quiet day.
That is Mt. Baker in the background.  
Water, snow capped peaks, colds, and a ferry.  This is Washington in winter !
Because the rules tell us we are tough, I took this shot with my camera in "Rapha" mode- so those reading this might think the ride epic.

Speaking of epic; here are my numbers for 2012.  324 workouts.  8,604 kilometers of riding.  Just under a hundred thousand meters of climbing.  Don't ask what the picture above is, it was the best image I could find with 8,604 in it..

Let's all have a great 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cubic yards on Boxing day

Eleven yards of 5/8" minus gravel. Roughly 32,000 pounds of rock. One hundred and eleven wheelbarrow loads at about twenty-five shovel scoops per 'barrow load.

I awoke this morning somewhat overcome by the guilt of lounging around the last couple days.  This task took care of that. I'd write more, but my back hurts and I have to go to bed and cry right now.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Miracle !

My prose would only distract from the sense of wonder and awe(someness).



Monday, December 24, 2012

Man Day

Clayton is giving a thumbs up to baseball.
I had to pick up a couple stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve. I knew the mall would be bombed, so I arrived at eight in the morning when it was opening. I apologized to the clerk for having to work so early. She didn't seem to mind at all and informed me that Christmas Eve was "Man day."

I looked puzzled and she said Christmas Eve was the day all the procrastinating men filled the stores walking around like uninspired zombies.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Did I say that?

How wet was it?
It snowed here yesterday and bombed rain last night. This morning I left our house, or as the survivalists like to say, "our compound," in full rain armor. Booties, rain pants, jacket, gloves, beanie, neck gaitor, etc. It was wet and windy. There was standing water everywhere. My headlight illuminated the blowing rain. Water was pooling in the folds of my inadequate rain jacket. Despite being more than fourteen degrees warmer than yesterday, my arms felt cold. I am too self absorbed in the image of myself as a Belgian hardman to describe a twenty kilometer ride as "epic."

As I was less than two kilometers from my place of employment, I approached an intersection where another bike commuter was waiting for the light to turn green. The hard rain was being driven at a forty five degree angle by the wind. The other rider, a woman, was likewise adorned head to toe in foul weather gear.

I stopped for the light and there we stood like two crew members on an episode of "Deadliest Catch" being pelted by wind driven rain. When she turned to me I said it was a nice day for a ride. She laughed and asked if I rode every day.

I smiled and said, "I ride two or three days a week." I paused and then added, "unless the weather is bad."


Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Cyclocross end of season maintenance

The famous Velo Jaune. Just looking at it makes my quads hurt...

One short week after my last race of the year I fulfilled my promise and over a few evenings I performed my end of season maintenance. After a deep cleaning I pulled my seat post and set it aside to allow the interior of the frame to dry completely.

I pulled the crankset and checked inside the BB; water. Water sitting on grease isn't too bad. I wiped it out and using the proper tool I injected grease into the Chris King BB. Out oozed some black (but not rusty brown) grease. Out came the torque wrench and I put the cranks back on.

Pull the stem and fork and check the headset. Water sitting placidly on grease. I'm okay with that. I let it all dry and reassembled it with some fresh grease the next evening.

I then lubed the pedals and rear derailleur. A thick coat of Dumonde on the chain that I left on until next summer.

I was able to put away the orange machine with clear conscience.

Road racing in 2013? It could happen..

I've been riding in the rain and it sure is easy to clean off a bike when it is just water and grime. You don't need a spoon and toothbrush, just a hose and a rag and some lube. We rode in the rain today; it was no big deal.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What we will be riding in 2016.. Zipp, ENVE, HED, Neuvation, Reynolds, Cole, Mavic, Stan's, Continental, Vittoria

I can tell you what we will be riding on in 2016. There are trends that seem to be independent, but they will no doubt converge shortly. The future belongs to the companies that can get us there first.

Let's look at some seemingly independent trends in tires. First off, fat is where it is at. In Europe they have been on 25mm tires for years, scoffing at our obsession in the USA with 23mm wide tires. At first it was just the big guys, but by now you've read the facts on rolling resistance and stability on corners, and everyone is going for wider tires. 25 is the new 23.

The second trend is strikingly similar to the first; wider rims. 19mm is out, 22 and 23mm are coming in. For reasons I cannot fathom, nobody is offering an aluminum rim that I can lace to a Classic 32 hole Chris King hub. I'm thinking that the company that offers a wider version of the classic Mavic Open Pro or the DT Swiss RR 465 that is available in a variety of drillings will corner the market. Neuvation offers a 24 spoke rear wheel with a 23mm wide rim, but I haven't seen the rim offered as a standalone product.

The third trend is the move toward tubeless road wheels. It makes so much sense we wonder why it took so long. The only thing holding this back is that the rims that Stan makes are so prone to cracks it isn't funny. I know other companies are making tubeless wheels, but only Stan is betting his company on tubeless. The other thing holding us back is the complete lack of 25mm wide tubeless tires. Because of this, tubeless may be the future, but it sure isn't the present.

Cyclocross has a trend as well, Disc brakes. But wait, I want wider (22-23mm) tubular rims with discs. I know my current set up will be passé in just a season or two at most. Cyclocross is a bit of a wild hare anyway, so we'll just keep that discussion on the shelf for now.

Here in 2012 I don't want to find myself feeling like George Hincapie at Paris-Roubaix. George rode carbon wheels on the cobbles before almost anyone else. What did he get for his troubles? A broken wheel and another year spent thinking, "what if?" Then he rode a Trek bike with a carbon steerer only to come to the same conclusion (along with a broken clavicle). The idea was right; the technology just wasn't mature enough

I went through all the hassle of micro-dosing for this?

Here we are with some companies focusing on wider rims, some focusing on tubeless and some spending all their energy just copying each other. What we need is some forward thinking.

In 2016, or maybe before, there will be 23mm wide rims with 24, 28, 32, and 36 hole drilling that are tubeless ready, just waiting for any of the awesome selection of 25mm wide tubeless tires available from all the top tire manufacturers. When that happens I'll buy new wheels for Hottie and my road bikes. Until then I'll just watch those guys keep scratching their heads and wait until they get there.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

My newest fan

This is Clayton. He is my youngest grandson. He is just over three months old. Although he has never even been to Oregon, he knows his Cyclocross.....


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Training update December 2012

Last year was the first time I rode over 4,000 miles in a year. Since my foray into the nation of wine, cheese and heavenly cycling, I've been all metric. As often happens some milestones, oops, kilometerstones coincide and this is the case today. Over the weekend, on a casual ride with Hottie I passed 8,000 kilometers for the year. For my more imperially based acquaintances yesterday may have been a more understandable kilometerstone as I passed 5,000 miles for the year.

That is a lot of miles, eh?

I will provide an update at the end of the year. Not to get all Kent Peterson on you, but hey, just go out and ride.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Encore performance WA State CX 2012

Like a weight watcher at a donut shop I could not help myself.  It was a smorgasbord of MUD !
Oh yeah baby !!
This is when my cross bike is happiest !
After a week of rain that would have made Noah nervous, Hottie and I went to bed Saturday night listening to the rain trickling its way down the downspout near our bedroom.  During the night as I tossed and turned, I heard the reassuring sound of never ending rain.  The race would be a bog of pain. I couldn't say no.  Last week I thought I was done, but my power to resist was weak.
Nothing like mud to make your teeth look white !
Our team was a co-sponsor of the race which is a polite way of saying we were the race "bitches."  We arrived early and worked registration.  It was pretty much uneventful, aside from a couple overly exuberant parents who were registering their offspring. One mom, was trying to register her son to compete in the junior boys ages 10-12. Based on his birthday the lad was a nine year old.  She insisted he race "up" a category. Since this was a USA cycling state championship, I guessed, correctly, that racing "up" wasn't an option.  When I informed her that her son would be racing as a nine year old she took on a tone and told me the fruit of her womb had WON the 10-12 age group in both the Seattle Cyclocross and MFG series races.  What I would have like to have said was, "I don't care if your son is freakin' Eddy Merckx, he is nine years old and will race that way." What I did was smile and say, "I'm sorry, he will have to wait until next year to race as a ten year old."

Hottie was forced to operate solo juggling camera, stool, umbrella and such as the sky alternated between damp, drizzle and downpour.  During a particularly heavy dump, I was glad I was working registration under a tent.

During a break I looked and saw the riders were finishing buried in mud. It was one of those surreal races where fast guys struggle to average eight miles an hour for complete laps.

I had contemplated taking it real easy and just rolling the race as if to honor a teammate who had died this year. Sadly, nobody died, so I had to think of another reason to ride slow.  I took a warm up lap and realized a person could not go "easy" on this course.  Anything less than full gas in mud sections would result in being overtaken by friction and stopping, perhaps never to be seen again....
Once again, facial contortions assist in bike handling !
A start on loose gravel that turned onto one of two paved sections. A long straight on asphalt followed by some intense braking then a log crossing that went well as long as you channeled your inner child and just went for it. If you over-thought it, you would biff.  Then onto the soul sucking grass.

How can I be working so hard and still going so slow?  It is the magic of mud! After a slalom and then a back and forth series of chicane turns you enter a bog and you had better have some speed going into it or you don't get out. Then through a slippery single track and onto the second (and last) bit of pave'. The pavement drops and then a wet, loose one eighty turn and you are on a run up with dry, clotty mud. Then when you would normally remount, the mud and grass combo was so gloppy there were footprints six inches deep. A bike tire sunk just as much.

The smorgasbord continued as you wove a path of pain through a grassy bog that was the cyclocross equivalent of a tractor pull.  Puddles, muddy sand sections and a spiral of death where you could make eye contact with those ahead of, and behind you.  Facial expressions were universally a combination of WTF and suffering.

By the time you encountered the barriers, you knew the end was near (nothing but mud and suffering between you and the line).  Finally one last bog, then a slippery corner and then some packed sand and finally a sharp corner on gravel (corners and gravel are a dangerous combination) that put you on the finishing straight.
For this race, they started the Cat 1/2 women ahead of us so we were catching them instead of them catching us !  If the grass behind looks fast; it isn't.  It is hell.

After my warm up I put on dry socks and pinned on my number. No skinsuit today.  I started near the back and we all knew we were in for some suffering. It was like volunteering for someone else's dental work.  I wasn't about to risk it on the pavement so I took it easy and then started moving up on the grass. It was a power course and I had some juice this day. We would be doing five laps. That meant I would be doing four assuming the single speeders caught me. Since the start order was shuffled (SS, W1/2, 45+3's, instead of SS, 45+3's, W1/2) we would be two minutes behind the Single speeders so I was confident we would be caught.

After two laps I got a shout out from the announcer that I was 23rd. I was chasing a guy named David who I had battled during the year. For atmospheric reasons I don't understand, and despite the fact it was about two in the afternoon, it got really dark. On the third lap we traded and then traded back. On the fourth lap I rode a section he chose to run and I had a gap. I realized we would not be caught by the single speeders and that we would get five full laps of pain.
The course was so nice, I wanted to take some home with me.
In the countless turns I could see he was still close. As we approached the run up I decided to push it and get a gap and hope to discourage him. I gassed it, got out of the saddle and got a little gap. I kept drilling it and the gap got bigger. On a corner I could see in his eyes he just wanted to be done. All I had to do was stay upright and I had him.

As I rounded the last corner the gap had grown and I was able to roll across the line and hear that I finished 17th.  I was on the lead lap, which in combination with my 17th was icing on the mud cake.  David, whom I had battled today, and all year came up covered wit mud and we shook hands.  We were done.
Belgian Thugs post-race.
Afterwards Hottie and I were both exhausted. Instead of the tired today, more work tomorrow feeling as if a dark cloud looms overhead, we had the satisfied feeling of having completed something hard.  2012 cyclocross is in the books.  It was fun.  Time to rest start building base for 2013....