Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 207 Maintenance – The ultimate upgrade

This trick isn't in Mr. Zinn's book
On a recent wet ride I squeezed my brakes and was stunned at the lack of stopping power. I rightfully pride myself on my brake set up and this was not acceptable. 

I was on my commuting bike in the middle of a combination training ride and errand expedition. It was bombing rain and while I would expect a minor decrease in stopping power this was dramatic.  At the next stop light I looked at my rear brake.  It was a dated TRP product that had been relegated to my commuter when I upgraded the brakes on my CX racer some years previous.

My front brake was a better model, and while the performance was superior to the rear it was still below par.  I came to a long downhill and as I gained speed I kept a finger on the brake levers and felt uneasy. 

Over the remainder of the ride I contemplated upgrading my brakes.

After getting home I hosed off the brake track on my wheels and then wiped them down with a clean rag.  The amount of dark grey slime that came off was sobering. After showering I returned to the garage and checked the brake pads. 

The pads were worn and coated with the same grey slime.  I decided to replace the worn pads and after adjusting the brake cables I took the bike out for a two minute test ride. 
 All good.
The brakes performed perfectly. As noted earlier I pride myself on the performance of my brakes.  Being able to stop quickly allows you to go faster.  It isn’t that I’m after speed, I’m really after safety and control and speed us just a byproduct of control.

In hindsight a couple things came to mind.  First, I should be kicked for neglecting my brakes.  Second and more noteworthy is that while we all get excited about the marginal gains that come with the latest and greatest; maintenance makes an even bigger difference. 

Brand new but dirty Dura-Ace brakes won’t stop you as fast as clean ten year old 105 brakes. In our lazy heads it is easier to spend a few dollars than to put in the work of cleaning and maintaining the stuff we have.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Take it with a grain of good

Starting off my morning with a whole wheat oat and pumpkin infused scone.  Life is good!

I've been an outspoken fan of Bob's Red Mill for years.  The stuff if good-for-you fuel.  

But wait, there's more!

It can also make stellar treats as well. 

As part of their Heroes of The Mill program I received a box from the folks at cake in a crate (@cakeinacrate).    They use ingredients from Bob's Red Mill so it had to be good.

Here is what happened next:
The box came with everything pre-measured.
Step by step instructions.....
Gotta have balls.  (And toasted pumpkin seeds in the background)
Baked (coconut) balls
Dip them to make them awesome
Maximum Awesomeness
Presentation counts.
I've made a lot of cookies in my life.  These were the best ever.
Thanks to Bob's Red Mill and Cake in a Crate.
I'm not a fan of excessive packaging and so at first I was wondering about this but the packaging was of a quality that it can be reused for travel or home storage. It's all good.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Sometimes I can be pretty full of myself.  
Life manages to keep me in my place.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Belgian Shower

Daylight is scarce these days and I’m usually at my desk before sunrise. Such is life close to the 48th parallel. I expected my commute to be chilly but dry and I dressed accordingly.  I arrived as expected and felt terrific. I plucked the expensive electronics off my bike and locked it up. 

In no time I was making my way to the showers carrying my shower supplies and work clothes, my bike shoes clomping on the hard floor. The space I will call a locker room for the sake of this story was one hundred percent empty this morning.  In June there are ten guys in there at this time of day.  Today it was all mine.

Following a routine that has become rote I soon stepped into the shower and swung the handle to ten o’clock.  There have been a couple times when I had to wait two or three minutes for the hot water to make it to the shower head from god-knows-where. I was glad when it warmed up quickly.

While I lack comprehensive data to prove my point, I am confident that in the winter my showers at work are a little warmer and last a little longer than in the summer. It is a brief moment to dwell on the good work of an hour plus of riding before work and think about the day ahead whilst I enjoy the warm water on my oft chilled toes.

I settled in and got straight to work getting Davo cleaned and lubed when I noticed the water didn’t feel as warm as it had a moment earlier. I turned the handle to eleven o’clock which is as warm as it gets and it didn’t get much warmer.  In fact, it kept on getting colder.

I am typically slow to accept change but the temperature of the water dictated prompt action.

With the urgency of a five year old boy that has to pee I hastened to finish as fast as I could. Soap suds were flying in the shower stall and I was rinsing and spinning and writhing as the water grew colder and colder.  With no forethought I heard myself utter a hushed profanity. 

Finally I shut it off with a definitive twist and grabbed my towel like it was a lifeline. I squeezed it in my hands as if I could somehow pump heat into it. The room wasn’t particularly warm and the water on my body was cold.  I dried off as quickly as I could and got dressed like I was in a race. 

Soon I was at my desk and seeking to find warmth through coffee consumption.  A few dozen ounces later I was still cold.  I dug my emergency sweater out of my drawer and by about two in the afternoon I was finally warm. 

I don’t know if I have become a wimp (perhaps I have always been a wimp and I just didn’t know it) or if I just forgot what cold feels like but this was the third time this season I’ve found myself cold and almost indignant about the discomfort.  The first was on 5130 with DG and the second was on a coffee and lies ride two weeks ago and today was numero tres. 

You can’t apply Rule #9 when it is in the shower.