Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Done riding in France

I spent a lot of miles riding with Kevin. This was the last day and despite having, or maybe because I had, a super strong day yesterday, I opted to go for an easy 60 k ride. Kevin was like minded and we were joined by those not wanting to run their tanks dry.

It was like nearing the end of a good book, or finishing an exceptional desert, we slowed down and savored the last drop. As stated before, I will provide more details later...

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I will share more blow by blow reports later. In the meantime, here is a photo from today..

That's right, allergy sufferers must just HATE this place.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Galiber

If I told you the scenery was like a bunch of Alpine villages, would you, like me, pause and then realize the origin of the term, 'Alpine village?'

The views were amazing, the bike was like an old friend. I am not shattered, but sleep is pretty high on the agenda.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day two in France

A brute of a day. Still on the vintage French bike with vintage French pedals and gearing not suited for climbing.

Something between seventy and eighty miles eleven thousand five hundred feet of climbing. We finished on Alp d'Huez. In all my year of imaging climbing Alp d'Huez I never imagined riding uphill into a headwind. More later.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First day in France

Check out the bike.

Number one rule of travel ?

More later....

Friday, June 22, 2012

En Route

My past year of travel has been almost exclusively on narrow body aircraft. In the profession, we refer to these as, 'single aisle' aircraft. This is in sharp contrast to my years of international travel on wide body aircraft.

This second leg of my journey has been in a 777. I can't say I'm in a flying germ tube as it feels more like a theater in the sky. I was able to get some sleep. Finally my body let me know it was tired of pretending to be comfortable and so I gave up on trying to sleep. I would estimate I got in four hours of sleep-like consciousness, and I concluded it roughly at 7:45 CET (Central European Time).

I just made the fatal mistake of seeing the time in my home time zone. My iPad has no idea where we are and just as I was feeling downright 'perky' because of my sleep, a cup of airline coffee and my watch telling me it is 9:25, I see my machine indicating it is 12:25 in Seattle. Ouch. Like so many things, it is better to have a vague idea rather than to know the details.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Number one rule of flexible

The first leg of my trip was through San Francisco and due to fog, my Seattle departure was delayed and delayed until making my connection became a no go.

So here I am in Vancouver. Next stop Amsterdam, then Geneva and then a van ride to Morzine...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Locked and loaded

The plan in January was to be at 2,600 miles before heading to the Alps. I'm at 2,605 (pretty amazing if you ask me). My weight is where I had hoped. All my stuff fit into my bags. Aside from Tux snatching a handful of Clif Blox and turning them into a sticky mess, I have packed some ride treats for a taste of home whilst riding in freaking France.

The weather in France looks to be perfect. My manual (money saving) labor portion of the remodel is done. My only guilt is leaving Hottie while I play in Neverland with the other lost boys.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Packing for FRANCE baby !!

After a wet ride to the fictional ski station atop Cougar mountain on Saturday, I cleaned the bike I call Velo Noir and split it in two (actually into many parts) and packed it in the stealth case.

On the ride El Hefe was imagining Horst scouting the route of our upcoming cycling trip. Driving the backroads of France, navigating using a map generated by the French Resistance during the closing days of WW2.  That is what makes it special. Horst's knowledge of the area is unmatched.  The fact that Horst is German didn't cross my mind.

Just like Johan Bruyneel had to select his team for the Tour de France, my bike equipment (gloves, bibs, socks) have been competing for the chance to find their way into the orange bag and journey across the pond and get to do their job in France.  The white gloves made the cut, the long fingered black ones.....sorry son, you need to stick to the domestic racing scene for 2012...

It was wild to bid adieu to my teammates and say, "see you in Morzine."
This funky radio tower isn't in Morzine, but it is in Paris, where I change planes Friday morning..

I will do my best to keep you up to speed on the trip in real time..

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Days...just days

We had an event at work today and I was offered a donut.  I declined.  I haven't been working my ass off to then turn around and wolf down a (tasty) blob of grease and sugar that would then affix itself to my previously mentioned ass and force me to drag it up countless meters of climbing in France.

Thanks to a busy couple of weeks a work and nights spent doing work on our bathroom remodel the time has flown by.  I was counting the weeks before my France departure, but now it isn't even days, it is a week from Thursday.

I realize the trip will fly by and then what. I am a goal seeking machine and this has been a goal for many months.  The trip made many decisions non events.  Raining on a scheduled commute day? Ride.  Raining hard on a Saturday morning; pack a jacket. Short or long? Long.

Some of the suffering was epic.  The Medina Marge ride (also known as the gross socks ride) will be spoken of for years to come.  I'm not a Belgian hardman by any stretch, but since some of those tough rides, we don't complain, we just do it.  It is a quiet confidence that speaks for itself.

It has been rewarding to be able to execute the plan.  Now I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor and hopefully minimize the suffering in the Alps.  

Check out the framing!  I can barely bend my fingers. Sadly, I know the feeling will come back in a few days....  Hey, I get to ride in the French Alps..

Monday, June 11, 2012

Last big weekend pre-France

After a eighty-some mile Saturday with over seven THOUSAND feet of climbing we put on our still damp maglia Bruno and went out again Sunday.  It was an absolute throw down.  I guess it is like getting a new bike and wanting to show it off.  We couldn't keep our legs from showing off and we were smokin' around Mercer Island. How fast we were going?  Fred was dead.  The photo tells the story.  Don't ask me why Aaron was smiling.  Perhaps when he is old enough to race in the 45+ category he won't be so glib.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The summer of pizza


With school ending for children all across our nation my mind is cast back to a long summer of my youth. My father worked at a university in California. To say my parents were frugal is to say Stephen Hawking is AT LEAST a smart as David Hasselhoff. My mom washed and reused the plastic bags you get at the store when you buy fruit. If you had five thousands of those bags they would weigh about half an ounce.

My dad was likewise against spending any money he didn't have to. He could paint and my brother and I could cut grass. Luckily my dad was not a guy who was what you would call "handy" so it fell to me to fix things. This did give birth to my love of working on bikes. My dad had trouble with anything more complex that shoe laces.

When he bought a new dishwasher and they tried to tell him he would have to pay for installation; he pointed at me and said, "the lad will install it." I was fifteen years old and I installed it. I also found out that the circuit that turns off the lights in the kitchen is a different one than the one you need to shut off so you don,t shock yourself installing a dishwasher....

One day my dad announced that he would be bringing home some food from the University andw we would be eating pizzas for dinner over the summer. A couple days later he came home with five gallon buckets of tomato sauce and white cheese. I don't recall how the dough and pepperoni was packaged, but it must have been in something. Sure enough my mom followed the instructions and placed the pepperoni's with German precision and w had a two pizzas for dinner. My brother Doug and I were in heaven. The next night we did it again. I don't remember if we had it every night, or every other night, or two of three or one of three, but in my mind we had pizza every night. It didn't take long before we were sick of pepperoni pizza.

I know what you are thinking, "time to mix it up, mushroom pizza, Hawaiian pizza, sasuage pizza." My parents may be cheap, but they are creatures of habit. Stuck in a rut is a better description. I am sure it never occurred to either my mom or dad to not put the pepperoni on them. It would have been like forgetting the dough, it just wasn't done.

Oh, one more thing about my parents, they can suffer without complaining. Once my dad was pushing a rented rototiller around his yard. It was a monster, he had borrowed my truck to TOW the TRAILER it came in. This wasn't some lawn mower sized machine, it was the size of a refrigerator on its side. My dad showed me which lever made he tines go forward, and how to make them go backward. Then I pushed the other lever and the rear wheels started turning, pushing the behemoth forward. "Damn, it propells itself," my father said in amazement. He had been pushing it for three hours. My mother likewise has a Puritan view that suffering makes her a better person.

Suffer we did and our complaints fell on deaf ears.

If you want to invite Evo over for pizza, I'm all in. If you bring out a plate sized pepperoni pizza, I will still be your friend. Just don't pay too much attention to the expression on my face when you present the pizza. I'm not wincing, I'm squinting. I'm getting older and my eyes aren't what they used to be.

Headin home

Looking forward to seeing Hottie and speaking English...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

France bike

At the end of last year I contacted Doug Curtiss of Curtlo cycles about building a new frame. My rain bike frame was showing signs that made me think the end was near. My travel over the past six months has reinforced the notion of having a travel bike. I did the math and the savings on downstream travel made this a viable option. Doug is a skilled craftsman who makes a stellar bike that he sells at a very market friendly price. He isn't fast and I had to place my order and look the other way while biting my OCD tongue to keep from harassing him week by week.


The bike arrived a month ago and has proven to be all I had hoped. Doug built my Cyclocross frame a few years ago (and repaired it after a crash for almost nothing) and I am a huge fan of his work a well a his philosophy on bike building.

I opted for the S&S couplers and after starring at the joints in disbelief and carrying the coupling specific wrench, I have concluded the bike is solid. The geometry matches my road bike and when I set it, up using my measurements, it was an algebraic test to see if after setting up the saddle height and setback, and putting on the correct number of spacers on the fork, would the bars be in the proper X-Y coordinates? Yes. Thank you Doug.

I went for the matte black finish as I wanted the bike to be all business. I collected the stem and seat post after some patient eBaying. If you look close you will spot the only "France-specific” part, that would be the monstrous 32 tooth silver tortilla of a back cog. In talking with my more experienced companions they all said you can't be geared too low. Call it fear, or practicality for an old Evo, I made the call and should be able to climb, albeit slowly, up whatever I come across in France.

I got a deal on the magic case and I'm getting psyched for France.

The ride is awesome and I couldn't ask for more. Compliant, yet stiff enough when climbing, i have dubbed it Velo Noir.

I know I don't deserve such a fine rig, but I won't say anything if you won't either..

Friday, June 1, 2012

Panaracer Rivendell Rolly Poly Tire Review

Almost a year ago I bought a set of Roly Poly 28mm tires for my commuter.  I considered Gatorskins and the Specialized Armadillo, but out of love of the sport, I went the Rivendell route and bought a set of these babies.

They are amazing.  I've put over a thousand miles on them and haven't had a flat.  I even ride with a frame pump.  Based on the Chouinard principle (if you carry bivouac gear you'll bivouac, if you carry rain gear it will rain, if you carry a frame pump, you'll get flats, get it?) I should get flats all the time.

I should note I ride these through anything andy don't even work to avoid ugly stuff much.  Glass, road salt, gravel, crushed rock, the bark that makes up the Shire trail.  Nothing phases these monsters.

How do they wear?  See the boxes that look all checkerboard-like? Each box has diagonal tread that alternates direction.  A thousand miles and the little diagonal tread is still there.  I wonder if I park my bike under some pyramid that channels cosmic energy. Kind of like the guy who keeps his razor under a pyramid and hasn't had to change a blade in five years...  The wear is beyond epic, it's Devine.

They make my cheap frame feel plush and since they are fat I don't fret  about pumping them up every day. This morning I did pump them up and they were about 50 when I started pumping, so they were about that for my ride earlier this week.

Let's summarize what we've learned children; they wear like steel, they ride okay, I can't imagine what you have to do to get a flat, and they cost less than those fancy schamancy tires from Europe.

Five out of five.  A bargin at twice the price.