Doing it all the hard way...

Friday, December 27, 2013

BtB ugliest lampshade ever

J-Pow is a good guy as are Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon.  This interview just reinforces how human Powers is.  You can find lots of other interviews with cyclists on the web, but you won't find one that features the Rapha logo in such close proximity to one of the most heinous lampshades ever to be captured on video.  I kept watching to see if one or the other might spontaneously combust.  I won't spoil it for you..

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Coffee and Lies #51 Biscuits and Gravy and FAT

While on our gentlemen's ride Sunday morning someone drove past and flipped us off.  You just can't make obscene gestures at Santa and not expect it to have major karma implications…

After illness voided my planned winter solstice ride, I opted for a very mellow ride with the team Sunday morning.  We actually rode the way we tell people we ride on these Sunday rides; mellow and as a group..
Despite the distraction of biscuits and gravy on the horizon, 
El Jefe checks on his beloved Packers. 
After the ride Hottie and I packed clothes and Tux supplies for a short get away.
Hottie and Hot Dog !
Lucky for us we didn't need the extended summer hours to enjoy our time on the lake.
Maybe we can't walk on water, but we can ride on it if it is frozen and the tires are wide enough.  This was so much fun.  It should be illegal.  We rented them from Winthrop Cycle and Sport.  Those guys are awesome.  Thanks Joe, Julie, Chris and Dave.  I loved the SRAM shifting.  Hottie, not as much.  She prefers her XT shifting.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Coffee and Lies and Ribs # 50

Even with a race later that day; El Jefe took some time for bicep curls.
This week saw Evo out of sync with his teammates.  I went for a long slowish ride Saturday morning while my racing brethren were resting up for the season finale on Sunday.  On Sunday whilst the band of brown brothers (and sisters) were suffering, I was ringing the cowbell and urging them on to glory.

My alarm went off before six and I left Casa de Evo in the dark. The forecast promised a dry ride and I dressed accordingly. I didn’t get a drop of rain from the sky, but my tires didn’t roll an inch on dry pavement as it had rained overnight.
It was dark enough that my headlight illuminated the yield sign up yonder. 
Leaving my house requires a climb and it served to warm me up.  Soon I was down and riding along Lake Washington and everything was working.  The plan was for 130-140k and I had pockets loaded with food for the journey.

I made it through Seattle and then past the airport in Renton. Once onto the Cedar River Trail I just spun my legs and watched the k’s roll by.  My route was deliberate as I wanted to check the hours for some of the stores that were on the route of the Winter Solstice 200K.
 As the sun brought some light to the sky I was rolling down the Burke-Gillman trail
After crossing Madison I got a great view before dropping back down to the lake
To make a long story shorter, not much will be open when we need it.  Oh well, plan accordingly.
OMG, I'm taking photos of road signs.  It's like I'm a Randonut !
 I didn't waste a lot of time contemplating taking a swim
The return journey covered some roads I had been on before and it was good to connect the dots so to speak and add this part of the world to my route index.   Soon I was over a hundred k and then just short of 130 I turned off the trail and headed home up over Perkins way.  138k on the day !
Maybe it says something about me, but I think my bike is in its glory when it is spattered with mud and organic matter.  I'm guessing Doug Curtiss of Curtlo bikes would agree !

Once home I showered and felt pretty good aside from some quad soreness which can’t really be a surprise.

The next day Hottie elected to rest up and watch our Seahawks dominate the New York Giants whilst I picked up Feral Dave and made the journey to Enumclaw for a day of racing.
 Guy partook of the glorious mud that is Enumclaw 
We arrived early enough to stake out a place and it was then that El Chefe’ and I were able to spring our surprise on everyone.  We had a team BBQ. Ribs, Hot links, BBQ beans, Cole Slaw, Cornbread with honey butter and hot apple cider. It was a good day to be on our team.
El Jefe inspecting the Ribs !
Oh yes, there was excellent food and excellent course proximity 
In the first race Feral Dave broke a derailleur hanger as he was literally taking over the lead.  Talk about bad luck !
Busted !
He was soon sitting in the tent watching El Chefe’ and Guy do the brown proud.  Unfazed, and this is something I really admire about Feral Dave, he borrowed a bike that didn’t fit him and entered the next race, the open cat 4’s and had a good race!!
Warming up to the aroma of hot links !!
El Jefe, Le Pirate, Seabiscuit and Mr. T joined Hot Pants and Coats and Daggers in a later race and had a blast. Faith and Lily represented La Femme de Marron in style. Finally Brad gave a beat down to the fast guys in the final race of the day. 
 He comes from Louisiana okay ?

We offered some hot link and rib hand ups and only a few wise (or crazy) racers dared partake.  

We were joined by Terry who, being a fan of the Rapha, can only be photographed in black and white.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


A little "Rapha for you today sir?
My hand fumbles along the top of the nightstand until it silences the alarm.  I am awake; I pause to get my bearings.  The room is like a sensory deprivation chamber. There is no light; there is no sound, the stillness even more acute after being broken by the alarm.  I turn my head listening for rainwater cascading down the downspout and hear none.  The only sound is an exhale from our dog who was also jarred from his dreams by the shrill alarm.   

Pushing back the warm, soft covers I swing my feet to the floor and stand up.  I am disoriented for a moment as my world shifts from horizontal to vertical.  I put my hand against the wall for balance as my feet search out their slippers. I pull the bed covers back up and then grope for the sheet that shields our bed covers from our dog. While the blankets are still warm from my body heat Tux will softly settle down atop my heat 
shadow and curl up beside my sweet slumbering wife.

While they sleep I change clothes and shuffle to the kitchen. As I walk I take a silent physical inventory. My legs aren’t too stiff this morning; my knee feels okay, my head is clear enough. I turn on a single sixty watt light and quietly extract a water bottle from the dish rack, fill it with cold water and drop in an electrolyte tablet. I turn out the light in the kitchen and feel my way down the stairs carrying my shoes and water bottle.  When the hand rail ends, I am at the bottom of the stairs and I grope my way down the hallway toward my private pain cave. 

I turn on the light and survey the room for a moment. My bike stands at full attention locked into the trainer and pointed toward the television. From behind it is almost like a rifle at a shooting gallery, begging you to use it. My helmet sits hooked on the handlebars with the TV and cable remote controls resting inside. There is a red towel on the floor under the bike and a yellow one across the handlebars to absorb sweat. The windows are dark mirrors because it is inky black outside; sunrise is well over two hours away.  The room is cold and I put on the wool beanie that was sitting next to the bike.  I will take it off when I am warm enough, but right now I am cold and it feels cozy on my head.

I slip my bottle into the cage and sit down to put on my cycling shoes. I push one foot into the shoe but the shoe slips from my hand and bounces away on the carpet. I chase it down and step into it and ratchet the buckle closed and soon I am ready to ride.

Cautiously climbing aboard, I start to spin. I’ve been awake only a few minutes and my bones are reluctant to move with any force. I turn on my cycle computer as the numbers will later provide a useful distraction from the monotony.

I have already decided what my visual stimulation will be for today and I turn on ESPN2 and catch Mike & Mike.  Some days I watch a DVD of a series of world cup Cyclocross races with 100% Flemish audio.  Other days I watch videos of EPO-juiced riders on famous French climbs.  I have a few other options, but most days it is a choice between broadcast sports, the Cyclocross DVD and Tour de France videos.

Before long my joints are loose enough and I shift into the big ring.  When my training dictates intensity I will do drills that range from as simple as standing during commercials to following scripted interval workouts, but today is all about spinning for an hour with moderate intensity for the middle thirty minutes.

The television eventually fails to hold my attention and I look to my cycle computer for distraction. I note my indicated speed and ramp it up. I check the time and commence my extended intensity block. At first the increased speed is manageable but two minutes later I feel my body asking to back off.  My head is starting to sweat and I pull off the beanie and toss it aside. Yep, I’m warm now.  I check the bike computer and hold my pace.  I glance at the TV and realize it won’t be inspiring me to push harder any time soon.

My basement in the dead of winter isn’t a social scene and I’m not doing this as part of a weight loss program.  I won’t be getting a tan nor is this connected to any charitable fundraising activity. This is training in preparation for racing. This is love of a sport and love of racing.  Few things say dedication more than fenders, booties or an indoor trainer.

I am on the road back from my injury and I have some aspirations.

This is no longer rehab. I have the ability call a lot of miserable things “fun, but this isn’t among them. Today is nothing but training. This is “give up your sleep, postpone your chores, test you relationships” training. This is “you may have dropped me in 2013, but that ain’t gonna happen in 2014” training. This is the time to make deposits into the pain bank so you can withdraw it during a race.  This is an “after burning 700 calories before six thirty in the morning, now I’m going to reward myself with a 200 calorie protein bar alongside my sugarless coffee for breakfast” kind of training day.

With the TV tuned out I close my eyes and imagine I am working as part of a breakaway at the Independence Valley Road Race (IVRR). On a different day it would be a different mental picture, but this is as good as any.  IVRR has humbled me every time I have raced there and I don’t want that to be my fate in 2014.  I drop my shoulders and get as aero as I can in my basement. I focus on my pedal stroke and pick up my speed.
I pedal harder and in my mind I am weaving along the forested section after the second hill and before the IVRR finish line.  There are four of us and we are flying.  When we hit the rollers I am feeling strong but I still take a short pull because I am saving my ammo for the finish.  We are flying and even when I am drafting it takes a lot just to hang on.  As we search the horizon for the 1k to go sign we are drilling it. “Stay smooth, nice pedal stroke,” I tell myself.   I look around sizing up my breakaway companions for weakness. My fantasy continues and I keep pushing myself as the minutes tick by.

I am sweating and I try to dry my hands on my shirt or shorts but can’t find a dry spot. I try my hair and that is wet as well.  My bottle is nearly gone and I am working hard. The trainer hums and my chain sings softly as it whirls under me. There are no unwelcome sounds that would indicate problems with the bike. 

My bike computer tells me I have completed my long effort and I back off.  The hard part of the workout is over. Now I just have to cool down another ten to fifteen minutes. I reach down to the drops and the bottoms of the handlebars are cold and wet. My sweat has made its way down to the drops and the cold room has chilled it.  I wipe it with the yellow towel and sit up and pedal easy for a while as I catch my breath.

I try to be interested in basketball which is the subject on the TV during my cool down.  I fail. My mind is already racing ahead to the day that awaits me. There is no finish line and no instructor that tells you that you’re done so ending a trainer workout is always kind of weird. I unclip and get off the bike (isn’t it funny that we all have clipless pedals that we clip into and out of?).  I remove my shoes and open them up so they can dry out. 

I take my bottle and turn out the lights as I leave the cave. The sudden darkness startles me and I look out the windows. It is as dark as midnight and I smile at that realization. I climb the stairs with tired legs.  Before I turn on the lights I notice my neighbors Chismas lights are still on. I brew a pot of coffee and make the calorie-deficient salad that will be my lunch.  I pour a cup of coffee and replace the pot to let the coffeemaker finish its assignment.
The hat says it all
I shower, feed Tux and have more coffee. I throw my soggy clothes into the washing machine and get it started. I fill a travel mug with joe and after kissing my sweetheart I head out the door. The coffee is gone before I arrive at work and after a brisk walk I am at my desk.  I’m about ten minutes later than usual and a coworker asks if I overslept.

“Something like that,” I reply with a smile.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Coffee and Lies #49 Put this one on ice !

We always like bike lanes !
We had quite the pre-ride debate; Robbery or Jihad ?
Six men who should all know better gathered in West Seattle to ride some hills in an attempt to warm up despite temperatures in the low twenties.  Evo is still on the road to recovery and that road pretty much stays on pavement for the foreseeable future.  Thus Evo stuck to the roads as the other five fools covered some of the Ronde route.
Along the Puget Sound
I made my way down to Three Trees Point and then managed to find my way back.
Coming back was pretty as well.
Yeah, just a vertical of the image I opened with.
We hooked up for coffee and lies following the ride.  It was a cold day and we were glad to be done.  The sun was out and the temperature was now almost thirty degrees. If you think twenty nine isn't much warmer than twenty four degrees, you are wrong.  We rode back to Case El Chefe and after some chilly farewells, we parted ways. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nine thousand a today’s Cold Commute

When I crashed on the 29th of October I had no idea I was only two kilometers shy of matching my total annual kilometerage for 2012. BTW, anyone who can contribute to quality of my metric lexicon and usage thereof, please feel free to do so.  

Following the crash I was pretty much off the bike for two weeks and then just a couple “test” rides in the weeks after that.  I’ve been gradually increasing my riding from there and while I am not yet logging any serious K’s, I did pass a milestone today. 

I have ridden over 9,000 kilometers for 2103.  Can I hit 10,000 for 2013?  Probably not, but you never know.  If my knee makes a peep, I will back off.  No number is worth any damage.  But if a number is worth squeezing in a couple extra long rides, it would be a number with five digits.

If I was playing word association games and someone said, “Mid-twenties,” most of the year my reply would be the age of one my children but today my answer would be the overnight low temperatures.

Today was my first post-crash bike commute. It was so much fun.  The sky was clear and the roads were dry.  The stars twinkled and some “Chismas” lights were on here and there. Our neighbor has dutifully erected his traditional Chismas Pig which proudly illuminates our corner of the neighborhood. It was almost silent as I made my way north in the frosty darkness. I dressed for a battle with the cold and aside from my toes getting chilly the last few miles, I was very comfortable. 
I was wondering what I would find in the seemingly perpetual construction zone on 52nd Avenue since it had been six weeks since I had been there. I was happy to find a wider, PAVED street that will no longer require a detour either because of endless road construction or the lack of a shoulder which preceded the construction.  The road still needs a final topping of asphalt but the “base” is down and it is like glass compared to the gravel I rode on this past autumn.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  I did pass a fellow idiot bike commuter and he had a lame tail light that seemed totally inadequate.  He didn’t look like a DUI cyclist, and I thought about saying something to him about his lack of offensive lumens, but in the end I just said, “Good morning” as I passed him.  I made it in and was showered and at my desk by 7:40 which was exactly when sunrise was today.  Man, these days are short!

I am flirting with the idea of riding the Winter Solstice 200K Brevet which starts at 8:00 PM on Saturday the 21st and finishes whenever you get done.  I have eyed this fool’s errand for a couple years now and it is more of a possibility this year. The challenge is staying warm, dry and comfy for eight to ten hours as well as illuminating the road and yourself for that long.  Since I am all about problem solving, this does present Evo with a unique opportunity.

In the less-than-likely event I do the Solstice ride I promised myself I would not photograph my food and would strictly limit my wool usage.  Between now and then I will try some different clothing combinations to find what I think might work for such an extended ride in cold conditions.

For my future reference here is what I wore today and how it worked:

HEAD: Wool Riv Beanie under helmet and thick neck warmer – Perfecto

TORSO: LS base layer, LS jersey and Thermal team jacket – Just a little too warm and team jacket didn’t breath as well as I would have liked.  Will try Showers Pass rain jacket next time and see how that does with same combo underneath.  As an alternative I could try a SS base layer with the previous combo.

LEGS: Bibs and PI Thermal bottoms – Not bad, but small gap at ankles and the knee of the tight didn’t cover my knee when I rode.  Will try my Hincapie tights next time.

HANDS: Monster PI gloves (the link is to a newer version) and thicker wool liners – Pretty fine.

FEET: Thick socks, MTB shoes and Neoprene overboots -  Not warm enough!  I will add toe covers and lil’ Hotties next time.  Maybe try thinner insoles so I can wear thicker socks? 

HOTCOFFEE: What a nice thing to have along..