Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thanks Jury Duty

Jury duty.
My civic obligation.
Nothing I'd rather be doing on a Friday as business finally starts climbing out of the "economic down turn", or in layman's terms the "crapper".
Get to the court house all bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8:15 AM. Going through the metal detectors I become "that guy" (I'm pretty sure Thom discussed the "that guy" principal at length, but I couldn't find the exact post so, you can sift through his blog yourself if you need a in-depth explanation). First try, I walk through and the alarm goes off. The screener asks if I have any change in my pockets, oops, yes I do. He gets pissed, glares at me and snarls "Well that's METAL"! Second try, errrnt. No go. I suggest it's the zipper on my coat. "No, ya wearing a belt?!" Why yes I am. "Well the buckle is METAL"!
Try #3, Errrrnt. "Ya wearing steel toed boots"? Well, I suppose I am. "AHH, Go over THERE"! I go over to the specail steel toe boot lane, where a white haired veteran of the judicial system is working. Try #4, Errrnt. The white haired guard calmly wave his hand held metal detector over my coat zipper and sends me through.
I was hoping once I got up there I'd have the opportunity to plead my case that I'm self employed and me being there means my business is closed, which is a financial hardship for my family. No dice, I should plan to be there until 5:00 PM.
I didn't plan on that. I have to wait until lunch with nothing to do as groups of jurors are called to be interviewed for trials. Nothing to do but listen to people sneeze, sniffle, cough and gurgle in their own phlegm. I'm never called, and at 12:30 PM I'm released for lunch until 2:00 PM.
Fortunately I live close enough to the court house to go home for lunch. I change my belt, empty my pockets and change my coat.
Get back to court promptly at 2:00 PM, and confidently stride through the detectors.
Oh yeah, the boots. Try #2, the guard working the machine doesn't send me to the special "steel toe boot lane"....ERRRRNT!. He wands me. The buzzer goes off as he waves his tool over my ass. "Ah, you got any metal in your pockets or any thing"?
"Okay, you can go on through".
Must be my buns of steel.
Anyways, I get up there, again, sit around for another couple of hours (I was smart enough to bring a book this time), and released without ever being called to duty.
What does all this have to do with bikes?
Well, I now had to go to work on Saturday. The way I looked at it, I had two choices if I didn't want to be an inconsiderate douche bag (I'm an obnoxious prick, but I try not to be a complete douche bag whose own immediate pleasure outweighs the damage those actions might cause). I could ride my mtb early before work while the trails are still frozen, or I could ride my bike to work through the dusting to a couple of inches of wet snow while there were still flurries flying.
Seeing as Het Volk was in progress, I figured riding to work was the right thing to do.
About half way to work, I hear a horn that sounds like a locomotive's behind me. It's the snow plow. I pull into a side street so he can pass and use him as my symbiotic host. Not only is he clearing the shoulder of slush, but has to drive slow enough to allow me to draft him. Motor pacing the snow plow!
Get to work. Work. Head home.
For the first time this year I feel strong enough to not go the short way home. Get to add about 3 miles and 500' of climbing to the ride, which is nice.
So maybe I should be thankful for jury duty?
Oh, and coach Levi, I don't care if riding fixed isn't helping my pedal stroke, riding singlespeed on the road blows, so stick that in your supplements and smoke, drink or inject it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Petter Northug

I think I'm developing a man-crush.
Watching Northug devour a 37 second deficit, leap-frogging from 4th to Silver in the 4x 10k relay was inspiring.
The only reason I own XC skis is so the weather will never get good enough to use them and I can keep on riding my bike, but watching the Olympics almost makes me rethink that (for about 2 seconds).
I'm in awe of the effort the athletes put out too. I'm sure there is some dramatics to the collapsing as they cross the line, but on Northug's charge he passed a skier who was working so hard he was drooling! That's leaving it all out there.
And what about Biathlon?
Why isn't that covered on a regular basis? It's got laps and guns; what more could you ask for?
Hopefully it will stop raining long enough to play "hardman of the North" on the Fun Machine this weekend, pretending to challenge the cobbles and cols of Het Volk.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Italian Logo Style

NBC's coverage of the Olympics has put me on something of a US and A overload. Which of course makes me think of design and logos.
The Italians really have a way with branding. All we can come up with is writing our name or a big capitol letter. Here are some iconic examples of Italian branding, or at least some of my favorites.

In all fairness, there is the exception that proves the rule.

I must admit I love the Waltsworks logo in all it's gooofiness.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Field Trip

I really wanted to ride on dirt today. One of the beauties of CT is you can go from the foothills of the Berkshires to the sea in about an hour. Usually the coast line has less snow. But to make sure it wasn't a sloppy mess, one needs to get an early start.

A beach is a place where a man can feel he's the only soul in the world that's real...

If an 18 is better than a 20, a 17's better than an 18. Ding dong! You're wrong! I thought I'd give my King of Burlingame gear a shot. Either Rocky Neck is too technical, conditions were too snowy/ice/softening, I'm a little girl, or all of the above, because no workie for Charlie.
Umm. Cookies. Is it good or bad that these cookies are still "good" and my parents have been away for 2 months?
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Who to perform the song in my head.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tale of Two Cogs

I took a week off the bike.
7 days.
I was feeling completely worked over and had no strength what so ever on the bike. My affliction verging on addiction with accumulating hours had caught up to me and I was no longer even on a plateau, but starting to sink.
I was tempted to break my riding fast when news of snow came my way, but chose to just roll with what ever nature brought me and stick with the plan.
Saturday was the first day back on the bike after my self imposed cycling exile.
Because there was fresh snow, I put on a lighter, gentler gear (a 20).
Well somewhat fresh would be a better way to put it. It snowed on Wednesday, which gave hikers a few days to aimlessly trample the snow, and a little crust to form.
Super ass grinder.
Where hikers had tread was the worst. If you could find a stretch of trail that was still untouched it was much better, but getting up to those trails there was no way to avoid the hikerclusterfuck.
But when we did get to the ridge. Oh so sweet. Made the grind up worth it.
It was taking its toll though. I was wiped out. Kerry was feeling it too, but he had mas macho gearing on his bike so it was understandable (34x18).
After the ride my quads were killing me. Stretched, used "the Stick", stayed horizontal, but still ached. I sure hope I didn't jump the gun and push it too hard too quick.
Never the less, Kerry had given me an inferiority complex. He was pushing close to a 55" gear, while I wasn't even running a 47". I decided to at least go back to my regular 32x18, and see what happens.
Sunday, I'm still sore, but I figure I'll give it a go anyways.
I guess I was just walking around sore, and not bicycle sore, because even with the bigger gear things were going great. I made climbs I didn't the day before, and at no point did I regret running a bigger gear. Did I clean everything? Of course not, there's snow on the ground Silly.
Going back in the way back machine, I was running a 52" gear fixed last Winter, and I thought it was fine.
I have a theory why even though there is more resistance, you shouldn't gear down for snow; your wheels are going to slip at certain points of crank revolutions unless you gear stupid small and can stay seated spinning like a blender. That's not how I roll. Since at certain points you are going to loose traction, you should cover as much ground as you possibly can between slips. Or something like that.
Here are some pictures from the weekend:
Kerry es muy macho

Rich and Dash
Kerry managed to capture my inner evil elf
Charlie showing how it's done

Charlie riding away from me, beginning to hate me.Rich also competes in novelty boxing matches

Monday, February 8, 2010

One of My First Heroes

Franco Ballerini, one of my first "heroes" of road cycling was tragically killed in a auto rally accident.

I had just started being interested in road cycling in 1997 when I started Cycle Therapy and my neighbor gave me the Fun Machine. That was the year Ullrich won the tour, and I had yet to learn of the world of Pharmaceutical enhanced athletics. Cycling videos were beautifully edited and cued to the soundtrack of soft porn. Images of exotic and artfully rendered frames made of metal (the few carbon ones still were lugged, and at least had killer paint jobs) being raced across the ancient roads and paths came to me in through the mail.
1998 Ballerini won Paris Roubaix for the second time. Every year Velonews would do a feature on the technology of P/R. Franco won it on conventional 3x wheels. Like I build.
He was becoming one of the elder statesmen of the peloton at the time. Another thing that endeared me to him; anyone who excels who is older than me = hero.
His palmares were impressive.
When his days racing ended he successfully transitioned to the position of Italian National coach where his racers have scored gold in I believe 4 editions under his tutelage.
A true hardman.
He will be missed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


On the ride over to the Res. everything seemed good enough. Spinning well. The air was damp from the fringe of the storm blasting the Mid-Atlantic states, and there was a cold wind blowing from the North. Combined these two forces made the 23 F air seem colder than it should. But I'd be in the protection of the woods soon, so no worries.
First rise of any significance, first road rise that is, and I'm out of the saddle giving it all I got.
For the tiny gear I'm running, that mole hill really seemed like a mountain.
Get into the woods, where the hills are actually steep, and have snow on them and I've got nothing.
I've only been riding for a half hour and my stomach is rumbling.
I stop for a bit, take a drink. Get rolling again, feel a little better, until I actually have to get up and over anything.
I try and just ride easy the rest of the loop, but I don't have the energy and take an alternate, bailout route back to the black top. I can barely pull the front wheel up over a speed bump.
I had great ambitions for this weekend, but they ain't happening today.
Going to put in some horizontal time with a book, shove some calories in my pie hole and hope for the best.
If I don't feel somewhat rejuvenated tomorrow, I think I'm going to take a week off.

On a more positive note, we're mere moments away from Thom, James, and Monte representing for the Northeast out at SSUSA. Give 'em hell boys, I'm rooting for ya!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Day For a Ride

My morning wasn't going so well, which made me pessimistic about my chances of enjoying a ride after work.
It went sort of like this:
  • Google decided to play hide 4 turns on the directions to the jobsite
  • When I got to the site, a dumptruck had just pulled in and blocked the driveway while it was getting filled. When it's finally loaded, he backs down the steep Southern exposed (Southern exposure = mud) driveway so I can pull in to make my delivery.
  • Unload the truck, only to be blocked in by a propane truck making a delivery; driver would not make eye contact with me as he meticulously cleaned his hose
  • Get out of the driveway with minimal mud flinging and go to the bookstore to pick up a book for my son. Old confused lady in front of me at the information desk, line of old confused people in front of me at the register.
  • Must be "Old and Confused Celebration Day" because every driver on the road is such.
  • Also must be "Patch a Hole" day because they were doing so in both CT, and NY.
So you can understand my lack of optimism.
But on the return trip everything began to change. No road work headed East, and the elderly were either staying to the right, or already lining up for the early bird and I was beginning to make great time. Get back to the shop, return some calls, and how 'bout that, kind of late to start anything but late enough to slip off to the res. without feeling guilty!

Grunt up the Western fence line to the ridge, making the first tracks since I rode Tuesday morning.
As I get to the main loop (were others have ridden) I notice how the other riders tracks go around the ledges, rocks and logs that I'm going to ride over. 5 years ago, I'd be taking the easier line, but riding SS has given me new skills that give me the confidence to ride the more techie stuff.
As I get to the Antler Trail, I have a choice of riding an extra fireroad climb and drop back down the Chair Trail to the main climb to the Eastern Fence Line. I've got the daylight so I take the extra climb.
Some how the Eastern side of the Res. has gotten a lot more traffic than the West, which makes for a nice 12" singletrack of "Ski Resort Parking Lot" hard packed snow.
As I descend I'm very much reminded of my years skiing, squeezing in that last run with the last streaks of sun turning the snow pink. Of course I had told myself back at the truck that there was no need in bringing a camera, which I am now regretting.
I get back to the truck and I'm spent. Funny feeling so wasted averaging only 7mph. I noticed a stick sticking out of my helmet. I thought it looked funny so I decided to share.

What a great day!

What Was I Thinking?

This time of year my hours of exercise are reduced. So I like to try and limit my caloric intake to some degree. I still eat an obscene amount by some standards but I cut out the unlimited cookie buffet.
Which leads me to trying to find alternative snacks for work. I tend to eat a lot of "enriched" flour based snacks (enriched stands for "Ingredients Charlie can't pronounce"). Cookies, bagels, crackers. I have the impression that this isn't good.
I do eat a lot of fruit and yogurt, but how many apples and bananas can one eat in a day.
So in my search for an alternative, some how I thought prunes might be good.
My dad eats prunes, he's a pretty cool guy.
They taste good enough. Seem to satisfy my hunger. Maybe I've found something?
Then a gurgle...and a rumble...and I'm percolating like Mr. Coffee.
There isn't really any laxative effect, other than just a massive stirring of the pot if you will. I'm a pretty "regular" guy, and I really don't need to add anymore stops to the express, so maybe the prunes legendary effects are fighting with my already well oiled machine?
Prunes are not the answer to my quest.
I did write this lovely Haiku in their honor:

Tried a new snack, Prunes
Warm air bubble fills my pants
I hope it's not wet.

Maybe I'll try figs?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thinking Out Loud: Is it sandbagging?

Last year I raced Cat1 in my age group. I chose to race my age group instead of Cat1 SS open because the big guns, and most regular attendees from 2008 were going to challenge the Open/Pro class so I figured I wouldn't have anyone to race against (although racing Rob and James would have left me chasing for third).
In 2009 the participation in the Cat1 SS was better than I expected, some races were still pretty thin, but others there was a nice little field. But I had started in my age group so I was going to finish in it.
Fast forward to 2010 do I continue racing my age group, or do I race SS?
I was competitive last year, but on some of the flatter courses, and ironically the ski resort courses, I felt at a disadvantage to the geared riders I was competing with. I always just looked at it as "it is what it is", but never the less getting passed on a fireroad leading to the finish is still frustrating.
Another factor is I'm riding for someone, so I feel a responsibility to get results. Sure, there is a certain satisfaction doing the best you can do, against the toughest competition, but if your best is more likely to give you a higher placing in one class isn't that better for your sponsor?
Let's be clear about this, Singular has helped me out, but it's not like a full ride. I consider it more like getting a partial scholarship to play on the college squash team; "Sure we want you on the team kid, but it's Squash, what do you expect?". Still I feel responsible to represent the best I can.
That's not to say that the Cat1 SS open isn't tough competition; cross referencing the results, I would have done well, but there would still be a fight for the podium. Even so, the CAt 40-49 was generally faster.
One advantage of racing my age is I'm racing against other geezers (some very fast geezers) and not some young hot shot.
So, Cat1 40-49 or Cat1 SS Open?

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Rims

Tax time is upon us, and the first twelfth of the year has gone well, so I decided to succumb to a little upgradenitis.
I was debating if I should get a Niner carbon fork and drop 600g from my Swift, or replace the Sun EQ21 rims on my wheels with Stan's new Crest29 rims for an estimated 240g savings.
The fork would be an easy and quick way to drop some weight, but the rims would be half the cost.
Myth was, or is it a (sub) urban legend that with Stan's rims you can air up a tire with just a floor pump. If that was the case, the long term benefits of the rims might be more valuable than the instant weight loss of the fork.
Life being easier won out and I got the rims, which you probably already figured out by the title up there.
Also, I really love the fork on the Swift, and not sure if I want to mess with a good thing.
When I got them they seemed well made; other than a spoke hole that wasn't completely punched out, I'd say perfect.
I decided to be all scientific for blog sake and weigh stuff. The rims weighed 370g each.
My old wheelset, with rim strips, velox tape, and rotors weighed 2180g, just the wheels w/ out skewers weighed 1660g.
Back when I used to do bicycle repair and got parts wholesale, I wouldn't have thought twice about taking the bolt cutters to the wheels and extricating the hubs, replacing the spokes and nipples with bright shiny new ones, but seeing I had just spent about double what I had ever spent on rims before, such luxuries would not be afforded to me.
I Used the old tape the new rim to the old wheel trick which worked famously. I wish I had used this technique in the past, as it really didn't take much longer than starting from scratch.
All said and done, the new wheels with out skewers weighed 1530g. Nice.
Now lets put the yellow tape, valves, and rotors on...and the weight is 1790g! A weight loss of 390g!
Ah, wait a second, something doesn't add up. I dig the old rim tape out of the garbage, and weigh it and the old rim strips separately and get 160g.
I must have taken my first weight with skewers.
So much for being scientific!
290g net difference.
Now for the moment of truth; would they air up with a floor pump?
Not a chance.
BUT... Ignitors, not the easiest tire to set up tubeless, aired up without Stan's liquid with a resounding pop, with valve cores in. Plus it took a decent effort to break that bead to put the sealant in the tire. Usually I use 120ml of sealant, but with how secure the bead locked onto the rim, I went with 60ml (I probably have lost almost 60ml just trying to bead up tires before, so I guess I save another 120g).
Do I notice a difference?
There's three inches of snow on the ground, how would I be able to tell a 290g difference?
What I did notice was the almost 4mm wider rim really makes a difference with the profile of the tire. I think the short thin sidewalls really accentuate this, because I've had 24mm wide rims before, and hadn't noticed this much difference.

Sun rim
Stan's Crest 29

Can you see the difference?