Friday, December 31, 2010
The promise of a new year and that baby wearing a 2011 banner also means that somewhere lurking there is a grumpy old guy with a 2010 top hat. In this case, we are that old guy (and yes, you can stay off my damn lawn). We are putting this blog on hiatus and will be starting up fresh and new in other spots.
First and foremost, please take a look at the baby-fresh blog at TwoWheelTransit.blogspot.com. The guys at the shop have started their own blog and will be telling stories about riding, talking about the cool things they do to support cyclists, the cycling community and our region as a whole. They will probably throw a few specials our way, announce some bike rides, and generally continue the cycling conversation. Look for the unique voices of most or all of the folks in the shop to make a contribution.
As for Team Two Wheel . . . High level negotiations are taking place, but I strongly suspect that Team Two Wheel will be expanding its membership, maybe taking on a couple of sponsors, and generally be making merry on two wheels again in 2011. Look for us at the shop blog (gratuitous link opportunity: Two Wheel Transit Shop Blog) and go to bed tonight dreaming of roads with a bit less snow, a bit more sun and without the impending threat of hypothermia. I know that I will.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Well, I didn't say I recommended either of these, did I?
Monday, December 6, 2010
Here is the story: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/dec/05/good-tidings-on-all-fronts-and-rears/
Next, speaking of doing good, but in this case, doing good for the world at large. Dr. Sam Joseph, a man to be feared any time you combine a bike and an incline, is literally healing hearts in Rwanda with a group of medical folks. It is an enormous and expensive undertaking that impacts lives in a way that most of us never have a chance to do. Here is their not-often-updated blog: http://healingheartsnorthwest.blogspot.com/. Tonight at 6 pm at the Steam Plant Grill, Dr. Joseph will be showing a few slides, making comments about how slow I go uphill on a bike and raising some money for this worthy effort. Oh, also, some free beer. Come on down and help make a real and significant difference in some worthy lives.
Well, thinking about biking at least. There are adverse conditions and then there are impossible conditions. At least for mortals. Maybe after this week's warm up we can go to wet, yucky, dirty slush instead of hard pack killer ice. In the meantime, the skiing was killer this weekend.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Actually, I have had a lot of good biking memories in 2010, like crossing the finish line at the Leadville 100 while there was still an "11" at the front of the clock; some rides with my kids that stand out; a long training ride this summer when my legs seemed to have reached back into an earlier age of strength and endurance; a training ride on which Rider One came along on a day when he probably had better things to do and a nicer ride to join but he came to be supportive of the training slog I was enduring; winning a race - you get the idea. But the memory of May 29 stands tall even among these.
For those of you with a keen memory or a calendar, you will note that May 29th was part of Memorial Day weekend, and it happened to be the Saturday of the 24 Hour Race. I was riding in the Solo - Clydesdale - Daylight Only division. I happened to have placed first in that category (also last, but that is the problem with 1-person divisions), but the gist of it was that I rode for about 7 hours starting at noon. At the end of that time, I had covered about 84 miles and I was tired, but really good tired. That fulfilling, exhausted, spent but smiling kind of tired where it feels good to have ridden long and hard and then be done.
I had the particular good fortune of not only being done, but then pulling on some clean clothes and sitting down to eat a couple of slices of David's Pizza and drink a couple of beers. I was sitting down with a couple of friends who had ridden all day also and with some other folks, including MS (owner of David's and a great guy) and the guy who I saw this week, TA (owner of Bicycle Butler). TA had been helping on the 24 Hour course, crashed his motocross motorcycle and had a brace on his knee that night, but thankfully it wasn't stopping him from enjoying a beer and shooting the shit.
As the pizza oven at my back gave a bit of warmth as the evening cooled, the beer and pizza were wonderfully filling my stomach, and a group of friends were around BS'ing after a day of riding or hanging out in Riverside State Park, I had a feeling of real joy and satisfaction that I can recall with perfect clarity six months later.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I have had reasonably good reasons for not riding, but it is better to be riding. I have had weeks at a time that I could not ride my bike to work, because of hauling around kids, appointments in nearby cities, etc., etc., etc. My older son had to be at school by 6.45 am for the first seven weeks of school, which responsibility fell to me mostly (and I was glad to do it, honey!), but it was hard to watch seven weeks of unseasonably mild weather go by without an opportunity to commute on my bike.
On the other hand, after a long hiatus, getting back to biking by commuting is a great way to get going again. There isn't anyone pushing the pace, the distance is reasonable, and even when the hills make it obvious how much fitness one has lost, the duration of misery is short and the smugness of leaving the car behind is always a boost.
In order to extend my ride season, I needed to add some lights to those I had; some more blinky lights on the rear and a helmet mounted light on the front. It was nice to go into Two Wheel Transit to buy the lights because a) they have the lights together in a nice display, b) everyone in the shop commutes in the dark so they all have ideas, suggestions and practical information and c) you get to tap directly into Mechbgon's extensive lighting knowledge (http://www.mechbgon.com/visibility/index.html).
As I rode home last night, I was pondering my lights. The addition of the helmet light was GREAT and I was amazed at how lit up I was from behind with a seatpost light, a blinky light on each pannier and a blinky light on my reflective striped messenger bag. As I was standing in the shop yesterday considering the prices, I did decide that I would really be unhappy to be lying in a hospital bed because I didn't put a crowbar in the wallet and get enough lights, so I think I erred on the right side.
It did occur to me, however, that I have to ride my bike a lot this winter to pay for the lights simply through gas savings from not driving my car. I have a 10.5 - 11 mile roundtrip commute, but I also have a fuel efficient diesel. The lights will last for years, but it still made me wish that the lights cost less, the trip was longer, my mileage worse or that gas cost more. Any of those would assuage the guilt a bit faster. Until then, look for me riding a lot at night to justify my purchases. In the meantime, I'm just really happy to be riding again.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sure, there was a bit more to the movie, but importantly, I SAW MYSELF! Oh, and also, I SAW MY WIFE AND CHILDREN AND MY BUDDY PW AND MY BUDDY PK AND I SAW MYSELF!
Of course, it's easy for the real message of the movie to get lost in the excitement. The message of the movie can be summarized as follows "Every person who rides the Leadville 100, from Levi Leipheimer in 6 1/2 hours to Rider Three is mere clicks of clock short of 12 hours, is a superior human to everyone else on the planet because of how tough and how cool they are. Also, the Leadville 100 is the toughest race, ever." Keep in mind, I'm not saying that myself, and I'm not even disputing how true it is, I'm just reporting the facts as I see them and I think that was the message of the movie.
Oh, there was also a bit about the human condition and overcoming struggles, but I kind of tuned out that stuff while I focused on watching crowd shots for a glimpse of my hulking mass puffing along somewhere. And my attention finally paid off.
Now, you may want to know where to look for images of Rider Three when you buy your own copy of the DVD. Well, this part is a mixed blessing. On one hand, if it weren't for this happy coincidence, then there wouldn't be any evidence in the film of my participation (I guess Levi's bulk hid me on a couple of early leader shots . . .). On the other hand, I have to confess that the reason I appeared in the film is that I reached the Twin Lakes aid station at the same time a grizzled 84 year old woman was being interviewed about her own ride and the difficulty of her husband battling Lou Gehrig disease. I would like to add this important caveat. While I rode the first 40 miles at the same pace as an 84 year old woman, I did manage to get ahead of her while she was focused on her film time and stayed ahead of her for the rest of the day, finishing well more than an hour ahead of her. Take THAT grandma!
And despite all of this, the movie wasn't perfect. For instance, they left out local two-time finisher DD and they gave my buddy PW too much screen time in a lingering shot on Columbine, but other than that, it was a great flick. I will be autographing copies and giving them to all of my family, relatives and friends for the upcoming holiday season.
And lastly, while the extras on the DVD won't include this feature automatically, if you just give me a call, I can come over and watch it with you and narrate my own running comments through showings over and over and over. It will be a little like Mystery Science Theater 3000, but if you ask Steev (not his real name, but cleverly changed to disguise his true identity) and my son, I got practice in last night leaning over one armrest then turning to the other offering my helpful comments and in-theater additions. Insightful things like, "Oh yeah, that was a hard part", "Wow, that part was really hard", "Oh my gosh, that part was so hard", or even, "Damn, I remember how hard that part was!" Should be good times. Get the popcorn going and let me know what time to be there.
PS - Make the DVD commentary honorarium checks out to: "Rider Three Foundation" Motto - Providing bikes for deserving and underserved populations of Rider Threes since getting the first check.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Years ago, there was a Gap advertisement (at least I think it was the Gap) that had a couple of Dieter-like German fashionistas exclaiming, "Everything Brown!"
Friday, October 22, 2010
Now I know what Major Taylor thinks when he rolls over in his grave, "We used to be great! We used to be popular and interesting, but now . . . these kids . . . they have no idea."
Maybe you don't know that of which I speak. Maybe you didn't catch the shark jumping, or recognize it as such, or maybe you don't know what it means to jump the shark.
For those of you old enough, you will recall a show named "Happy Days". Happy Days was a rosy look at 50's America that never really existed, but was warm and funny. It was an insanely popular show at a time when we all watched the same four TV stations. The show was on for ten years, from 1974 - 1984, although the last 3-4 years were a weak substitute for the prior years, but the actual jumping of the shark took place in 1977. In that episode, Fonzie was challenged to literally jump a shark on water skis. Actually, Fonzie was on water skis, but you get the point. And it is, in fact, a turning point, the one at which the show went from being good, interesting and maybe relevant and turned into a shadow of itself ("Nuking the fridge" is the same concept applied to the Indiana Jones series).
For us cyclists, the cold opening of The Office last night marked our own jumping of the shark. If you missed it, the gay accountant character, Oscar, is shown in the parking lot wearing cycling gear, with the de rigueur LiveStrong helmet, standing next to his shiny new Trek and spouting about his new found joy and meaning in life now that he is a cyclist. Sure, we've all been there, right? We cyclists have all had those geeky moments when we love cycling SO much that we have to tell non-cyclists, who really don't care. But we have never before turned on Must See TV and watched that scene lived out in on one of the most popular shows on television. No, cycling wasn't the focus of the episode, but it had raised to the level of mainstream consciousness that they felt comfortable making the reference to cycling and to Lance and knew that America would "get" it.
It has been a long period of rising to this level of awareness. Let's not focus on the fact that the Office made a parkour reference a year ago, but let's look at cycling's rise. It started, I think, with Greg LeMond. Greg and a sprinkling of Andy Hampsten spawned a group of young people who wanted to become Tour de France riders. Somewhat unbelievably, it spawned a phenomenal group that included Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and, of course, Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong. Lance has now transcended cycling to become a true national level abd world level fame. All of this inexorably led to Hollywood celebrities riding bikes, legions of professionals purchasing carbon fiber bikes that cost more than their first cars (yes, I did it too, but to be fair my first car was worth around $800), Rouleur Magazine, the success of Rapha and hipsters on fixies, and now, The Office making fun of all of it so that it rings true to the mass of non-cycling humanity.
From here, there is nowhere to go but down.
Looking back, it will be obvious. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it sure as hell didn't fall in a day. We have had an ongoing series of drug investigations, fallen heroes (Tyler, Floyd - we trusted in your boy scout/mennonite goodness!?), and hidden motors in seat tubes. We now are knowledgeable about plasticizers on blood and have to constantly explain to our children to not take too seriously any of the sport we love so dearly. Spain, never a bastion of drug control (Italy - I'm looking at you . . .) just arrested 32 people in a clenbuterol ring and we are awaiting the results of a federal investigation into Lance and a whole era of cyclists. Frankly, I'm not hopeful that one of these days a Federal Prosecutor is going to announce, "All good! Couldn't find any evidence of drug use in professional cycling!" No, I have to think someone is going to be charged, someone is going to spill the beans and all of us will be less happy even though it is better to know the truth.
Cycling, I loved you and am going to stick with you, but like Major Taylor, I'm glad I was here while it was good and I'm looking forward to the next cycle of ascendancy. The good news for us? From Major Taylor to today took 100 years. In this internet age, it will only take 100 weeks. Until then, beware of anyone simultaneously wearing a leather jacket and flotation device.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I am hoping, however, that this weekend I can get on my trainer to test out how my ankle is doing and hope that my back is better or improved by the cycling. In any case, for the first time in a long, long time or maybe ever, I am really excited about getting on my trainer. A few weeks from now, when there is slush on the roads, cold temperatures all day and misery in the air, I will be dreading the trainer as a poor substitute for joys of cycling, but today, I am really looking forward to it.
Wish me luck.
Monday, October 11, 2010
It wasn't supposed to be that way. After the Leadville 100, it only took a couple of days before I was thinking about cycling and wanting to ride my bike. I was with my family on vacation and after sacrificing time with them for training, I held off riding until I got back home, but that was just over a week from Leadville to my next ride.
On Sept. 11 I rode the Capital Forest 50/100. It was a hard ride as previously described, and I came home banged up, tired and ready for a break. It turns out that what I got was not a break, but instead a bad sprain. Of my ankle. This implies wrongly that these things were related, when they were not.
No, I needed a bit of rest and recuperation and after a lot of riding this summer, it was time. I took the subsequent week and weekend off since it was filled with work and non-profit obligations and a bit of rain. The following weekend I was supposed to spend both Saturday and Sunday helping with a move. That was good until late afternoon on Saturday when I stepped in a bit of grease and rolled my ankle. Hard. I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening having x-rays, having discussions of how old men shouldn't be partaking of some activities, and being warned to take it very easy for the next number of weeks. Fun times, my friends, fun times.
Today, a bit over two weeks later, I am itching to ride my bike, or, for that matter, walk in a straight line without pain. I can't remember the last time I have been off of a bike for one solid month and it doesn't feel normal. I suggested to my wife that I get back some of that feeling by spending money on cycling stuff, but she didn't second the notion. Something about rational behavior that I didn't catch.
Anyway, one month and counting off of the bike. I am planning to sit on the trainer this coming weekend and see how it goes, but I am not confident about the advisability of that even. Is this where the notion of "no pain, no gain" comes in?
Well, at least I have all that interesting news about pro cycling to keep me occupied in the mean time. By the way, anyone have a degree in chemistry analysis who could help me with the bike news?
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
This blog is usually reserved for silliness and discussions of recreational entertainment, but this accident and the vitriolic reaction is a cause for sadness and reflection.
The Spokesman-Review owes this cyclist and his family an apology for creating the impression that the cyclist caused the accident when he had the right-of-way. He may have "hit" the mini-van, but that is because the mini-van pulled in front of him when it had no right to do so.
The Spokane Police Department has problems more grave than this, but regardless of the contributory cause by the cyclist potentially exceeding the speed limit, the driver who pulled out deserves a ticket and it is yet another example of "our" police department not respecting the rights of citizens.
I was in a motorcycle accident many years ago caused completely by a car. The police officer walked up to me while I was attending to my wife (who had been on the motorcycle with me) and said something like, "What did you do?" Not, "What happened?", or even, "Is everyone okay?", but instead led with the conclusion, before he knew anything about it, that the motorcycle had been the cause of whatever had happened. Thankfully the driver of the vehicle behind mine took the time to find and explain to the officer what had happened, gave me his card and then did the same thing to insurance adjuster. I wish I had this gentleman's name to thank him again, but it is a reminder of how some police officers view motorcyclists and cyclists.
And lastly, the idiots and ignoramuses who have no understanding of how roads and maintenance are paid for, no understanding of the laws concerning cyclists and have the arrogance to bluster about in their hatred and ignorance owe every cyclist and sensible person an apology. And they should also shut the hell up.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
My wife feels strongly that I should not have a blog post with the title, "Bikeaphobes Should Shut the Hell Up." And maybe I shouldn't, but I am tired of people offering such stupid "arguments" about whether bikes should be on the roads or whether we should be forced to stay on the sidewalks or maybe rounded up and put in detention centers where the true Americans who pay their taxes can keep a wary eye on us cyclists who would otherwise just be out there using up their precious roads without paying our fair share.
So, as a public service I offer you the following point/counter-point for future cyclist vs. ignoramus discussions.
1. Bikes Should Stay OFF the Roads and Stay ON the Sidewalks where they belong.
According the the laws of our state and every other of which I am aware, bicycles have the legal right to be on the roads with very limited exceptions. Those exceptions include high-speed interstate-type roads where there are appropriate alternatives for bicycles. Other than that, we cyclists have the legal right to be there. If you don't like it, please contact your local political representative to propose changing the law, but leave me out of it until you get some dumb-ass legislator to go along with you.
You should also know that it is illegal for cyclists to use the sidewalks in many areas, specifically in downtown Spokane. In my many years in this area, I can only recall one instance of a cyclist injuring someone else, which was a bike rider on a sidewalk who hit a pedestrian. My recollection, which may not be correct, is that the pedestrian was stepping out of a doorway and was hit and quite seriously injured, and I think disabled permanently in some fashion.
On the other hand, I can think of numerous instances in which car drivers have hurt cyclists, including at least two deaths in Spokane this year.
So, how is that car drivers are getting the worst of this deal? Are there seriously people out there who still can only see cyclists as a 1950's version of Leave it Beaver children riding on the sidewalk to go to Jimmy's house? Anyone who wants to have any credibility in discussing transportation or cycling issues should have left this argument behind about the same time cavemen invented fire.
I read a comment yesterday that cyclists should pay registration fees and the money can be put towards creation of bike paths. This is frankly dumb in so many ways that it is hard to fathom. Let's at least be a little bit realistic in this discussion.
2. Bike Riders Should Be Forced to Obey the Rules of the Road, or alternatively, Bike Riders Shouldn't be Allowed on the Road because the Don't Follow the Same Rules!
Okay, as a starting point on this one, how about if we agree that all cyclists do not obey the rules of the road. Both cyclists and ignoramuses can agree on that, right? But more importantly, can the ignoramuses recognize that not all car drivers obey the rules of the road? Or, as a corollary, would the ignoramuses like to be considered as ALL being rule-breaking, law-flouting idiots because there are, in fact, rule-breaking, law-flouting, car-driving idiots on the road? Would that be the best way to proceed having a thoughtful conversation? I thought not.
So why is that idiot drivers who see a cyclist (or even more than one) run a red light decide that ALL cyclists run red lights and that ALL cyclists must therefore be godless communists who are a menace to our patriotic, apple pie and motherhood way of life? How many times have you seen Letters to the Editor saying that they saw a cyclist almost cause and accident and therefore ______________. Fill in your own blank because there are lots of options, but all of them start with the gross and absurd assumption that seeing one cyclist do something means that all cyclists must do exactly the same thing. Sure, just like all gun owners do the same things with guns. Or all smokers obey or disobey no smoking signs. Or all car drivers behave the same. Or all teachers or students or parents or cops or politicians or christians or muslims or gays or straights. They're all the same right? Each and every single one of THEM. By the way, important note. Please remember that gross generalizations only work for THEM. When it is US, that is really unfair.
3. People Who Ride Bikes are Wholly Different and Completely Separate People Than People Who Drive Cars.
A Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 2nd Spokesman-Review suggests that bike riders are getting a "free ride" on the car drivers expensive roads because bikes themselves are not licensed and/or registered and further that we use the example of car drivers and horse riders learning to get along and not make one side pay for all of the improvements necessary for cars to be on the dirt paths. http://www.spokesman.com/letters/2010/oct/01/bicyclists-getting-free-ride/
The letter writer, by the way, is Kat Fiessinger, who shares a first name with the person who commented at the Inlander and on this blog in a similar vein - http://teamtwowheel.blogspot.com/2010/09/tete-tete-brews.html and http://teamtwowheel.blogspot.com/2010/07/inlander-cheers-and-jeers.html.
So, putting aside the compelling argument that horse riders and horseless carriage drivers worked together, harmoniously and hand-in-hand, to pay for roads so that cars could then run down and displace the horses, could we briefly consider Ms. Fiessinger's main point? Which is that cyclists don't pay for roads but use them.
In Ms. Fiessinger's world, people who ride bikes do not own cars and pay taxes, licenses or fees for them; do not buy gas and pay taxes on it; do not own homes and pay property taxes on them; do not buy any goods and pay sales tax on them; and do not have jobs or incomes and pay income taxes. Because a person, no, excuse me, a cyclist, would have to do each and every one of these things to avoid helping to pay for the roads. In other words, every cyclist Ms. Fiessinger sees disobeying traffic laws and damaging her precious roads are also amazingly fiscally-adept anarchists, communists or otherwise dirty hippies. That is simply remarkable!
Also, this revelation that Ms. Fiessinger has brought to my attention makes me feel singularly foolish. You see, I ride bicycles with people who PURPORT to be among other things, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, business owners, consultants, firemen, teachers, construction workers, sales people and a whole variety of other jobs and professions. I CANNOT believe that they have all fooled me for so long, just pretending to be contributing members of society when IN FACT they are using up our ROADS and NOT PAYING FOR THEM! HOW DARE THEY!
And here I am, being fooled like that AND I am still paying all of those damn taxes! Clearly, something has to change.
Oh, wait just a moment, I have an idea. What could change is that ignoramuses could pull their brains out of their henies and recognize that all members of a society contribute to that society and should have a say in how the society resources are allocated.
Oh my god, I just realize I have become a communist! Well, it was a slippery slope and the day I threw my leg over a bike it was just a matter of time. I guess this is the end of this blog as I will be dropping out of society so that I can ride my bike and not pay taxes full time. It looks like that is my only option. Either that, or we could, possibly, maybe, try to have a rational discussion about people having the freedom to choose whether they drive a car or ride a bike and how to allocate the resources that we ALL contribute to supporting that freedom.
No, that wouldn't work.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Inland NW Cyclocross Series event kicks off season at Valley Mission Park on Sunday
First of nine races in the Inland NW Series with a course favorite in the Spokane Valley.
(Spokane, WA) Valley Mission Park in the Spokane Valley will host the Inland Northwest’s top cyclocross racers this Sunday with the first race of nine in the Inland NW Cyclocross Series on October 3, 2010. The Valley Mission Park venue features a classic ‘cross course with varied terrain such as grass, sand, elevation, and pavement as well as being a very spectator friendly course. “This course has been a favorite of the riders over the years and are excited to be back at Valley Mission after taking a hiatus from this course for a couple of years”, said Marla Emde, co-promoter of the race.
“We are expecting 150-200 cyclocross racers this year and we’ve seen the numbers grow steadily the last couple of years. Cyclocross is the fastest growing discipline of USA Cycling and we are starting to see the excitement here in the Inland Northwest”, says Emde. The series also features the second annual Bike Expo on October 10th at the Riverside State Park venue featuring a “bike car” from Pullman, local area bike shops and industry vendors will be showing their wares from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Cities hosting races within this series include Coeur d’Alene, Walla Walla, Ephrata, Moscow and Liberty Lake. This year marks the 11th year of the Inland NW Cyclocross Series in the Inland Northwest.
Competitors in the Inland NW Cyclocross Series compete for prizes and prize money given at the series final on November 21st. Registration is on race day only and athletes must be members of USA Cycling or may purchase one day licenses at registration for an additional $10.00. For more Inland NW Cyclocross Series information and future results, please visit www.emdesports.com.
Schedule of Events for Sunday October 3rd:
11:30 am – Master Men 40+, Master Men 50+ (all categories)
12:30 pm – Mountain Bike Men and Women, Cat 4 Women, Junior Men and Women (all categories)
1:15 pm – Women Cat 1-2-3 and Cat 4 Men
2:15 pm – Men Cat 1-2-3
About the Spokane Regional Sports Commission
The Spokane Regional Sports Commission provides leadership in economic and community development through sports. Our vision is to position the Spokane region as the premier site for adult and youth sports events, generating a significant economic impact, improving quality of life, and bringing prominence and recognition to the Inland Northwest. For more information, please visit our website www.spokanesports.org.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
To Rider Three;
Remember me? Your old Niner EMD? The one you dumped for that "sexy Gary Fischer Superfly" because it "handled" better? That was a hard time for me. I felt hurt, jilted, betrayed, and angry that you in effect sent me to the glue factory by selling me to some old fart who had never owned a mountain bike before, whose idea of "race conditions" was running a yellow light on his way to 7-11 for a slurpee.
But I've worked through all that and I'm really enjoying my new life.
Shortly after we parted, my new rider packed me into a crate and 5 weeks later after a transcontinental truck ride and an ocean crossing, I was unloaded at the port of Roseau on the island of Dominica.
The riding is challenging and technical here, and I haven't even been off road yet. There's virtually no flat. The coast road is a narrow, crumbling ribbon of relentless big rollers over ridges and into ravines with sharp hairpins, huge potholes, drop offs into ditches instead of shoulders, frequent sections with grades >20%, and fortunately only light traffic. Oh yeah, it's the rainy season here, which means that several times a day, one is subjected to drenching cloudbursts that come out of nowhere, turn the roads into muddy rivers, and then are gone all in the space of 5 minutes. The scenery is fantastic- seacoast, jungle, cliffs, mountains, rainbows and waterfalls.
Today we took a road across the island from Caribbean side to Atlantic side that went through a dormant volcano caldera after an extremely steep 5 mile climb- only encountering 1 car the whole way.
Due to the omnipresent high heat and humidity I am sweated upon profusely, but my new rider's BO is somewhat less offensive than yours, and unlike you, he has the courtesy to lift his butt off the seat when passing gas, which occurs often, in keeping with the adopted local diet consisting largely of breadfruit, yams, plantain, and other fiber rich starches.
So life is good. I'll probably retire here. You're welcome to visit.
Give my regards to riders 1, 2, and the AM ride group.
PS- Congrats on your fine performance at the Leadville 100. I only wish I had been there.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet
This was a small book that I purchased after reading an excerpt from it, along with an interview with the author, in Roleur Magazine. Jean Bobet was a super domestique in the 1950's who primarily rode in service of his brother, Louison Bobet, a French rider with an impressive palmeres and who was the first cyclist ever to win the Tour de France three times in a row.
While his brother was much more famous, this isn't a biography of Louison Bobet. It really is the story of Jean and his relationship with his brother. Jean was four years younger than Louison and Jean was drawn to more intellectual pursuits. As a result, Jean bounced between academia and cycling and spent time as a journalist after his ultimate retirement from cycling.
This book is a translation from French and it sometimes becomes apparent in the language, whether from the use of terms that aren't familiar to an American audience, or just in the tone or structure. In any case, either the style of writing or the translation gives the book a gentle and lyrical feel that belies the underlying difficulty of bicycle racing and the struggles at times the Bobet brothers face.
Jean Bobet is a doting protector of his brother's legacy and this means that details are sometimes short on the negatives either of his brother's character or difficulties they faced. Nonetheless, it is a charming and engaging story of both Bobets.
Don't read this book looking for the blow-by-blow of any of the Bobet's numerous victories. Sometimes even monument races are dismissed with a phrase like, " . . . and that was the year that Louison won Paris-Roubaix." Some books are written just about that single day in someone's life, but Louison both had so many victories and Jean is so unassuming that if he wasn't there for the race or it doesn't fit into his story, the narrative just skips forward to something he believes is more important.
Do read this book if you are interested in an overview of Bobet's career and life, and even more, ready this book if you are interested in the bond between brothers who were also cyclists during the post-World War II reconstruction of Europe. It is a somewhat rosy view of the time period, but ultimately a very enjoyable and readable book.
And now, back to your regular programming . . .
Friday, September 24, 2010
Bike Snob - Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling. By BikeSnobNYC (aka Eben Weiss)
Here are a few things about BikeSnobNYC. First, his name is Eben Weiss. This is less interesting to know than we were hoping when none of us knew. Second, he writes the best known and funniest bike blog in America. There really is only one other widely known bike blogger, FatCyclist, so maybe being first isn't that big a deal, but he really is better and funnier than the 1000's of other bike blogs out there. (Oh sure, his is better than mine, blah, blah, blah.) Third, he is a very nice guy, which I know because we exchanged e-mails a while ago. I also harassed him about coming to Spokane to ride bikes, although I made no progress on this front, because I can't imagine a more extreme difference from riding in NYC than heading out to the Palouse or up Valley-Chapel Road. During our e-mail exchange and my harassment, he was unfailingly polite. Not at all like a "typical" New Yorker and quite milder than his acerbic blog.
So, about his book.
If his blog is a piquant mix of insults, barbs and cuttingly funny insight, his book is a milder version of his daily insights. The book is an overview of cycling really written for the non-cyclist or new cyclist, but with enough depth to keep most of us reading along. BikeSnob covers bikes, bike etiquette, some bike history, some riding lore and, as usual, he skewers those who deserve some skewering in the world of cycling. With my comment about his blog, I don't want to leave the impression that this book isn't funny, because it is, but it just isn't quite as funny as some of the broadsides often offered in his blog. In part that was because the scope was broader and it is easier to make fun of small things. I also suppose he toned it down to broaden the appeal, and it works from that perspective, but there was a bit of verve missing for those of us who are loyal readers of his blog.
If we are lucky this book was intended to be an intro course, or 100-level discussion and hopefully BikeSnob is working along at producing another tome that digs a bit deeper into the world of cycling where his wit and wisdom will flourish on the topics that are near and dear to his heart. Or, even better, those that cause anguish and disgust in him, which tends to bring out the best in him.
And regardless of the follow-up, we must all bow down to the man who brought widespread attention to the acronym, AYHSMB.
Oh, for those who don't know, it means: All You Haters, Suck My Balls.
Maybe you had to be there.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Oh, be quiet.
Rough Ride - Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist. By Paul Kimmage
This book was written in 1990 just a bit after Paul Kimmage's career as a professional cyclist ended and my edition included a 2007 update. I purchased it, by the way, at Powell's in Portland, which is an experience anyone who likes books should undertake, at somewhat coincidentally, while Rider One and I were perusing titles together before heading off to River City Bikes to look around. But I digress.
Paul Kimmage was a pro out of Ireland in the wake of, and riding at the time of, Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. These two were superstars of their day and Sean Kelly is one of the hard men's hard men. All those jokes we tell now about Jens Voigt being tough could be substituted with Sean Kelly except that he was arguably a harder man (if you can believe it). Kimmage was inspired by these guys and rose up through the semi-professional and then professional ranks at a time when English speakers able to do so were few and far between. Kimmage was not a "great" cyclist, but certainly had the makings of a yeoman in the ranks including being a decent climber. Unfortunately, in addition to be able to climb mountains, he also carried a chip on his shoulder the size of one.
Kimmage came to recognize the signs of the rampant drug use in the peleton around him and struggled with the issues. He never strayed very far into the use of banned substances, but he certainly understood the issue. If he had been able to write with more empathy or understanding, which you would think would be possible considering his own struggles, this could have been a great cycling book. Instead, he comes off as a bit of a sanctimonious prick which appears to have been his character from his earliest writing. It does not appear to me that his negative experience with drug use caused the bitterness, but he was just bitter or suffering from a self-esteem issue from the start.
It's too bad, then, that this book is so strongly tainted with the pettiness or insecurity that Kimmage shows, because his message is valuable and correct, which is that the whole system encourages the use of drugs and there are players at literally every level that make the whole thing possible. Ultimately the strength of the message and, for me, the first hand look into the peleton, make the book a recommended read for anyone who follows pro cycling, but be warned; while you probably will agree with his points, you probably won't come away with any warm fuzzy feelings for the author himself. Unless, of course, you are a sanctimonious prick yourself. But I digress again.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
We Might As Well Win. By Johan Bruyneel (with Bill Strickland).
Starting out with a more honest title than Lance Armstrong's "It's not about the bike", Johan Bruyneel gets straight to the point. If you are going to be involved in the highly, highly competitive world of cycling, "you might as well win."
This book serves a few masters. First, it is clearly "in" Johan's voice, which is an accomplishment for a book that may have been ghost-written. If you have heard interviews with Bruyneel, that same voice comes across the page and tells a few good stories. Second, this book goes out of its way to claim some of the credit for Lance Armstrong's success. This is a reasonable thing for a team manager in a team sport to do, but I suppose the enormous magnitude of Lance's success makes this a harder task and it seems slightly desperate at times in its tone. Third, this books sheds light on the cycling life of Bruyneel pre-Lance, where he was not a TdF contender but a damn fine cyclist and well-respected, and also on the personal side of the cycling races.
All in all, I have to confess that the general public maniacal admiration for Lance turns me off, but I really enjoyed reading this book. Johan is a fairly straight-forward, plain spoken person in this text and it works well. My guess is that Johan is also a hell of a poker player, metaphorically speaking, and it may not behoove him to shed unnecessary light on the dark underbelly of cycling, but as long as it is viewed in this way, it is a good read for any cycling fan and certainly for the cycling cognoscenti (or chamois sniffer as Rider One would put it).
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Racing Weight - How to get lean for peak performance - 5-step plan for endurance athletes. By Matt Fitzgerald.
I read this book last winter hoping for inspiration and suggestions for getting to a better weight for Leadville. The book is oriented towards fit, almost appropriate-weight endurance athletes who are looking to get "lean" for that extra bit of speed or racing ability, but the lessons applied to me as well. I won't go into my personal weight issues, but it is fair to say that I am on the heavier side of the fit and ready category; clearly Clydesdale and quite a bit above "racing weight". Nonetheless, as I said, this book does have a lot of common sense information for any athlete trying to lose weight.
I like the joke about the most effective weight loss book in the world having two pages. One page says, Eat Less. The other page says, Burn More Calories. There really isn't any more to it than that, but for every person who weighs more than they would like, it is aggravating how simple the equation is versus how difficult it is to implement. This book goes into strategies for helping with both of these points, by discussing timing of food, types of food to eat to control appetite and promote weight loss, as well as food to help with training, lean muscle mass building and fat loss.
If there were a secret in this book, I would be glad to share it, but really it is just a framework to consider common sense information that we know, almost know or should know.
Like most books for cycling/running that involve a "plan", whether for weight loss or training, you can either jump in and follow along point by point, or take the basics and apply them to your own plan. I did the latter and actually managed to drop about 20 pounds between January and mid-August. I have a secret desire to continue this process until spring and come out next year at a more appropriate riding weight, so maybe it's time to pick this book up again and get re-focused or re-energized.
I would recommend this book for any endurance athlete looking for some common sense advice for weight loss. It avoids some of the crazy diets that the general population are gravitating towards and considers the needs of endurance athletes. Even those of us on the larger side of the equation.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Ghost Rider - Travels on the Healing Road. By Neil Peart
This book chronicles the 55,000 miles that Neil Peart, drummer extraordinaire of Canadian rock band RUSH, rode on his BMW R1100 GS motorcycle after his daughter was killed driving to college in a one-car accident and his common-law wife of 20+ years died of cancer within the next 12 months. Peart, the thinking man's drummer and lyricist, or at least the thinking man that didn't mind toking up a bit in the 70's and contemplating life and mythology, was obviously distraught about losing his family in such circumstances and needed to contemplate and heal.
During the course of the book Peart does a fair amount of motorcycling, including some of it through our region, a bit of hiking and a smattering of mountain biking. The journey, and book, is tinged with sadness and is a bit self-indulgent, but in a completely understandable way considering the circumstances. I wouldn't consider this a great book, but it was an enjoyable read for a guy who likes riding a similar motorcycle.
I have to confess that it also started a new round of listening to RUSH, which I hadn't done in years. It also caused me to want to read another of Mr. Peart's books.
Roadshow - Landscape with Drums. By Neil Peart.
Similar to Ghost Rider, but written about the period two years later (2004, rather than 2002), this book is a travelogue of the BMW riding Peart does between concert dates on the RUSH tour. His band mates, Geddy Lee (derided as the ugliest man in rock and roll, but come on, he is at most the 8th or 10th ugliest man in rock and roll) and Alex Lifeson, travel by private jet and limo, but Peart is happy to be loading up onto a tour bus after the show, having the driver get him out of town while he sleeps and then taking up his own motorcycle from there the next morning.
The writing in this book is much better, probably from the experience from writing the prior book and because the subject matter was less personal and painful. This book is interesting and entertaining, whether Peart is talking about his drumming, the tour itself or the travels in between. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes RUSH, motorcycling or a bit of adventure with a side of celebrity interest.
After reading these two books, I get the feeling it would be fun to meet up with Peart for a day or two of riding in the Pacific Northwest, where he often makes a run on the way to Vancouver or a tour date. Barring that, however, these books take you along for a ride for a lot more mileage than that.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Apparently I mistakenly attributed a comment on the Inlander website to the wrong person (a mistake on the website), but the clarification involves a smack-down on my intelligence.
I can only hope to get smarter as I am schooled by "logical arguments" by people who think that bike riders pay no taxes to support roads and that we all disobey all traffic signals (unlike the highly intelligent group that operate cars and ALWAYS obey traffic laws). Maybe I will learn someday. In the meantime, go read the comments for yourself.
From: Mrs. Glenda Roberts.
Address: Kuala Lumpur, 50784, Malaysia.
I am Mrs.Glenda Roberts, suffering from cancerous ailment. I was married to Sir Bob Roberts an English shipping tycoon notable for his great charitable activities before his death in April 2nd, 2006. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of Thirty Million US Dollars ($30,000,000.00 USD) which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bank here in Malaysia and named me as the beneficiary of this trust fund. (All records are kept with our family lawyer).
Presently, this money is still with at the Bank. My Doctor told me recently, that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous problems that I have been suffering from. Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition with the cancer. This hard reality that has befallen me, I have decided to donate this fund to you and i want you to use this gift which comes from my Late husbands effort to establish a charity home for the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren-women and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially. I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are bourgeois and very wealthy persons and I do not want my husband hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures, which is the reason i took this bold decision. I do not need any telephone communication in this regard due to my deteriorating health and because of the presence of my late husband relatives around me.
Please I want you to contact me through my personal email address: email@example.com
Please assure me that you will act just as I have stated.
Hope to hear from you soon,
It touched me so much, that this old lady with cancerous ailments and a stroke had reached out to me to get help, that I felt compelled to dash off the following response:
Dear Mrs. Glenda Roberts – I am so glad that your e-mail reached me and that you were not forced to deal with your husband’s bourgeois and very wealthy relatives. I am, unfortunately, somewhat bourgeois, just because of my parents, but I assure you that I am not wealthy at all, so you can rest assured that you have reached out to the right person. It is also quite convenient that you do not require telephone communications, because I can’t make out-going calls on my cell phone. I am living in my parent’s basement (totally temporary!) and they won’t let me use their telephone at all anymore (LONG story! HA!). Sometimes I sneak up and use the kitchen phone to order a pizza because Dideo’s Pizza cut off my cell phone number from orders after I prank called an order for 19 pizzas to my old high school chemistry teacher’s house. I had a buddy who used to work there and I know they have a company policy where if you order 20 pizzas then they verify the order or get a credit card so I totally got Mr. Wankerhead (not really my chemistry teacher’s real name, but that is what we called him behind his back). I don’t want you to worry though that I would spend part of your husband’s $30,000,000 on pizzas just for me and my buds though (Or even for Mr. Wankerhead! Ha, like I would ever by HIM a pizza). No, I assure you that if I was going to spend part of that $30,000,000 on pizza, I would definitely share it with some destitute or down-trodden people. In fact, I know some destitute and down-trodden people and I could invite them over tonight, so if you could e-mail me a credit card number I could get started distributing that money like right away.
I do have a couple of questions though. Like, that thing about “barren-women.” Is that women who are old and ugly, or just like women who can’t have kids, because I don’t really like spending time with old and ugly people, women or men (HA!), but I could totally get into the idea of “spending time” with women who can’t get pregnant, if you know what I mean. I mean, not like that, but . . . okay, maybe we should focus on some of the other categories of people I could help.
The other thing that is totally cool about this is that you have avoided going to any of those greedy charities that pretend to take care of women and children. Probably most of those are really just big offices with fat cats collecting checks to pay for their private planes so they can go around the country asking for more money that they then just spend on themselves and their private planes. I have heard that is mostly what charities do. This way we are totally cutting out that middle man and we can just get the money directly to the down-trodden and barren people of the world. Of course, I might have a few expenses, but they would be totally appropriate. Like, I really need a new car and I think I should get something big enough to hold a bunch of down-trodden and barren people, so an Escalade or a Hummer might be a good idea. And it would need to be totally tight with a killer sound system and low profile tires so those down-trodden and barren folks would totally know that we care about them. We could even use it for taking physically challenged children to the fair and stuff, or even doctor’s appointments. That would be rad.
So now just let me know what we need to do to get this party started. I mean, like an expression, not like a real party. Also, would it be okay if I pay myself a salary to do all this work. That seems totally fair and l think it’s what your husband would have wanted. I don’t think he would want me showing up in my old clothes and with no money and trying to help people (HA! Like I was Jesus or something!), so it would be better if I had some new threads and some cash, so it would be uplifting for all those widows and widowers that even though their spouses were dead we were still here to take care of them, sport them some food (no cat food for you tonight grandma!) and then they would know that life was good outside of their nursing homes or whatever.
Anyway, it is so cool that we are hooking up like this and doing so much good in the world. I will wait for your e-mail, since I know how much old ladies dying of cancerous ailments and problems and strokes and stuff are totally into computers and e-mail so let me know what you need. I’m sure there will be some expenses, like for your family lawyer and the trust fund is probably locked-up so you can’t pay them, so I will need to come up with some cash or credit cards or something, but just let me know. I can give you my bank account number and routing number and whatever to get started. If it is too much money, I might need to ask my folks for some cash or I also just got an e-mail from this Nigerian Prince who has some money that he needs to get into this country, so maybe I can use some of that to help you out and get this charity stuff going.
Whatever it takes Mrs. Glenda Roberts, I am totally down with it! This was our lucky day!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
- I dug the Tour this year. And no, I don’t blame Contador for not waiting for Schleck. The Tour de France is a bike race, not a freaking episode of Band of Brothers. Contador didn’t wait for Schleck for the same reason that Schleck didn’t wait for Chavanel when he broke his bike, flatted, and crashed (in no particular order) while wearing yellow on Stage 3. It was a crucial moment of the Tour, and sorry, but you don’t wait during those moments. If Schleck could have, he would have ridden Contador off of his wheel on any of the many other climbs that littered this year's Tours. The fact is Schleck lost the Tour in the prologue, not because of a dropped chain.
- Jurgen van den Broeck pretty much killed it during the Tour. Not bad for a tall man from Belgium. But it made me even sadder to have broken his bike last summer. And no, I didn’t buy that bike on eBay from someone with the screen name of johaninjectsblood2004.
- If you’re a frequent reader of velonews.com you can’t have missed the comments pages attached to each article. I’m not sure whether to feel proud that cycling in the U.S. has so many fans now, whether to be irritated that cycling is no longer my own special little world, or to be embarrassed that there are so many chamois-sniffers in the world. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these wankers were lubing up three-knuckles deep with Assos Chamois Cream before watching the Tour each morning. Rider 3 has referenced this before, but I still remember a time when I would anxiously await my parents’ Sunday New York Times so I could catch up on what was happening in the Tour. And of course they recapped an entire week’s worth of racing. No content, just results. Nothing was covered any other day of the week. See, I WAS THERE FIRST!!!
- I’ve missed mountain biking. Way back when, I was more than a little involved in the world of dirt. I still feel fortunate for this experience. I visited four continents traveling to bike races, rode more race courses than I can remember, and was involved in during an incredible explosion of consumer interest, technology and race team funding. But this isn’t what I’ve missed. Over the past month I’ve spent more time on a mountain bike that I have in years. Riding in Winter Park, CO, and the trails around Spokane has been fantastic. It’s amazing how much different the experience of riding is depending on whether you’re on asphalt or single track.
- I recently borrowed a Gary Fisher Superfly 29’er mountain bike. Two words. Holy. Crap. More to come on this front. [Rider 3 Editorial Note - This means that he likes it. I was there.]
- Team Sky, hands down, has the best-designed jerseys and bikes. Those guys put the b in subtle. At least until you take a look at their bus.
- For you Spokanites, one final note. The proverbial grass, at least when it comes to cycling is most definitely NOT greener on the other side of the hill. Traveling lately has renewed my perspective. Cyclists in Spokane are very, very lucky. Great roads, little traffic, decent trails…life is good here. We need to do more to encourage good access, educate motorists and fight for transportation funding, but in general? Trust me, we’ve got a good thing.
From the Outbox of Rider 1's Mind, brought to you by the good folks at Team Two Wheel.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Having jumbled thoughts on this ride, please excuse the bullet points in place of the extraneous commentary that usually comes along with my ride reports.
- For a first time event, things were reasonably well organized, but could have been better. I have confidence the race organizer, who seemed like a very nice guy, will make the event better next year, so keep an eye out for it.
- The course is a 50-mile loop, done once or twice.
- The course is hard. It is fairly technical, fairly muddy in places even though it was considered "dry" by some locals, has a lot of vertical (about 5,900 ft each loop), and it is also hard. Oh, I mentioned that, didn't I?
- Course marking was very good except at a few key points where there was two way traffic, which included both aid stations out on the course, which resembled a figure 8 except that you stayed on the "outside" of it (does that make sense?).
- The volunteers could not have been friendlier or more helpful. No really, they couldn't have been.
- The ride time was billed at 6.30 am start with 8 pm close to the course. In the days before the event, they moved the start time up to 6.10 am. In reality, there wasn't enough daylight to start until 6.45 am and they had to close the course by 7.30 pm because there wasn't enough light to see after that.
- This is relevant for me because I wasn't riding fast enough to feel confident about riding the whole 100 miles, my intended distance, in the shortened time. My pace would have kept me inside 14 hours, but not confidently in 12.5 hours. Bummer for me.
- Crashing hard also took some spirit out of me. I had a stupid crash exiting a very slippery bridge after which there was an immediate rise to the left. I accelerated (I know it was stupid) with 5' of bridge left and managed to push my tire right out from under me. Hard hit on left side.
- My next crash (oh yeah, more than one) involved an upturned tree root grabbing my right arm and shoulder as I passed it too closely and ripping me off my bike in a painful twisting motion. As I rode away from this one, I could feel my shoulders, trunk and pelvis all pointing directions other than forward.
- My other crashes (yes, a few) were much more simple, but involved various tree roots and sticker bushes.
- Even though I rode whole thing with arm warmers and knickers, my arms and legs still have numerous scratches, small abrasions and I have a few king-sized bruises which are still surfacing two days later.
- The course, in addition to be hard and technical, was also beautiful. The Olympic Forest has 160 miles of single-track and the Friends of the Olympic Forest apparently volunteer to do most of the maintenance, so hats off to them. That much growth and greenery and mud must make it challenging to maintain.
- I recently read about a helmet mounted camera that is on my holiday gift list. I wish I had had it with me as this course was really beautiful in a "you have to see it believe it" way. Even the water/waterfall crossing where I thought I was going to die.
- While I am a long way from being an expert mountain biker, I was gratified to have guys who were experts talking about some sketchy areas or difficulties. It makes my assessment seem more reasonable.
- Did I mention that my rear hub failed? That didn't help. It would intermittently seize so that my chain was sucked into the wheel. When it was less bad, it barked at me like a loud, angry duck every other second. When it was bad, I literally could not coast for a single foot, having to keep tension on the chain continuously, which meant I had to brake downhill and had much less opportunity to move, stand or shift positions. When you can't, you get the idea of how regularly you stop pedaling on a mountain bike, even if for just a second or two.
- When I pulled into the start/finish area after my 50 miles, I was bummed that I made the decision to quit there instead of going for the second lap. I could have ridden more but with the 100% likelihood that I would have been pulled from the course at a later aid station, but there was a diminishing to non-existent return to this idea.
- Almost lastly, PW and I started out to ride this together; recognizing that PW would have to wait at the top of hills, and also at the bottom of hills, and also after technical sections, and probably some other times. He was a good sport about it, but it became apparent after less than auspicious start for me and then having a mechanic look at the rear hub (and suggested that I stop riding) that I was not on a schedule to do 100 miles, but PW still had a chance to do it if he took off on his own. I suggested we go with the Top Gear Rule - loosely translated as the failure of one to proceed shouldn't hold up the others - and wished him well.
- Remember when I said that the course marking was mostly good? PW got bad directions at the first aid station on his second loop, sent the wrong way and ended up at the Start/Finish area after 70 miles and a bit over 8 hours of riding. They wouldn't let him go back out since he couldn't finish another 50 miles and there wasn't a good loop for him to do another 30.
- Lastly, I spent the whole day feeling off my game, even before crashes and mechanicals. I thought that I would show up on the results list just before the DNF and DNS group and maybe a few other unfortunate types. I was therefore pleased to have finished in the top 2/3 of 50 milers and a full 30 places ahead of PW (no, that doesn't really make sense). To be fair, I averaged a meager 7 1/2 mph and PW was over 8 1/2 mph; still, that makes for a long, slow day.
In conclusion, I feel a bit better after having seen the results and realizing that there were people out there taking longer than me to ride the course. That's sad, in a way, isn't it, but it's also true. Final analysis - It was a hard day on a hard course. I'm ready to rest for a while.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Young that is.
I am not "old" yet, hopefully by quite a stretch, but definitely somewhere in between. Evidence of not being "young" anymore is plentiful, whether it is my waistline or my mortgage (neither of which is getting much smaller) or the fact that I have celebrated 21 anniversaries with the same wife. Similarly, it is a stark reminder of one's age to have two teenage sons. I am deeply happy to have these two chaps in my life, but it is hard to keep up the pretense of being a spring chicken when your children are large enough to beat you up and old enough to then drive you to the hospital.
This weekend I went on a remarkably quick road ride with both of them from one end of the Fish Lake trail to the other and back. It was fun to ride along with them and start the initiation process of making them into "riders". There is a sizable gap between the process of toodling along a trail with them on 400-lb "mountain" bikes versus going on a road ride with them. We talked about trail etiquette (yes, it does exist sometimes), the process of riding in a pack, the need to ride in a straight line (or for you old school types, "Hold your line!"), about gearing and hand positions. It was low-key and fun. I was, and this may be an important point, able to ride along comfortably with them and even caught the older one when he tried to "break away" from our pack. Just good clean "father and son" fun and nothing bittersweet about it.
The next day, however, was different.
My older son and I took a quick mountain bike ride along the bluff trails. My son led the way and he wanted to go ride a steep downhill set of S-curves that I had showed him a while ago.
Now here I am going to recount a conversation we had as we rode up the first long hill. I admit that I sometimes use artistic license in recounting conversations, but this is as accurate as I can be. As we rode up the hill, my son looked behind him to see where I was. I was still right on his wheel and I said, "I'm right here. You haven't dropped me yet." He laughed and my fifteen-year old said, "Dad, it will probably be ten years before I can drop you." My response, "G, I think it is safe to say that in 3-4 years you will be easily dropping me." His well intentioned response (from the mouths of babes, as they say), "It's weird to think about how over the next few years I will just keep getting stronger and you . . ." He paused, not sure how to finish his thought, at least finish it without saying something he didn't intend.
I finished his sentence and added, "Yes, I will just keeping getting older and slower. It's the way of the world."
He protested, kind of, because he had no intention of saying anything unkind or unpleasant. I may even recall through the decades that at times there is a satisfaction that comes from being young and looking forward to being "more" of almost everything. And it is weird to think about, particularly from the perspective of the aging and slowing old guy.
Not long after this we were getting to the top of the section that was his primary interest in the ride. It is steep S-curve section that turns tightly in a little V of ground, so that you ride down into the V and then as you go back up you take a tight turn heading back down to start the process over. For guys on skateboards and in X-treme sports videos, it is the stuff of life. For a 15-year old gaining strength and skill, it is FUN. For a reasonably fit 44-year old, it is rideable, but it isn't the kind of feature I seek out. Clearly, when something used to be FUN and now it is miss-able, like hangovers, it is a sign of maturity, or more bluntly, aging.
A while later I watched my son climb up some ascents that last year would have been beyond his ability and this year just made him eager to get it cleaner or faster.
And then it was time to head home. We rode together to the apex of the downhill back towards where we jump off the bluff and my son casually said, "I'll just meet you at the bottom." Translated from kid-speak, this means, "You go ahead and get a gap and then I am going to blaze downhill and catch you." These are moments as a parent when you have to weigh your options. Do you let Icarus fly too high or put him back in the softly-padded cage and tell him maybe he can fly next time? As a "Dad", I do think there is value in getting to try things for yourself, even when that means there is a chance of failure or even getting hurt. The day before, my younger son wanted to learn to change a flat on his own and ended up with a pinch flat in his tube when he tried to re-inflate it. He learned that lesson much faster than just based on my cautioning.
So on top of the hill I decided it was better to be behind him, so that if he did crash I would be close and not just at the bottom wondering what happened to him. I reminded him of the walkers and dogs and other riders that might be on the trail and then told him to go ahead. I let him get out of sight and then started my own descent. I was a bit behind but noticed on the way down that 1) he wasn't strewn about the trail and 2) I wasn't able to get him back into sight so he was going at least as fast if not faster than me.
As I came onto the last straight-away I thought to myself that I was glad he got to go his own speed and had made it safely. It was just a moment later that I turned off the trail and saw my son separated from his bike, with a look of shock on his face. He had, in fact, crashed his bike as he turned off the trail.
I think we had the same emotion at that point. He was both a little kid and a young man at the same time. He wasn't sure whether he needed a hug or whether he was okay without one and I wasn't sure if he needed a hug or his space. I jumped off my bike and approached him, asking if he was okay. He nodded and held up his arm to show me a large red area just below his elbow along his forearm. Struggling to catch his breath and his emotion, he said he was okay but his face betrayed the struggle to know whether he really was.
I have ridden with lots of guys who have crashed, but not usually with someone who used to sit on my lap and get bedtime stories. I want to both protect my son and help him make his way in the world. I joke about my Mom being worried that I won't return from Leadville in one piece, but it doesn't occur to either of us that it isn't my decision to make. My son is straddling that fence. He is getting older and stronger, and he will be dropping me on the hills soon. He has to figure out on his own how fast and how much and when and how and why and where and very few of those decisions will have anything to do with mountain biking. I've had my chances to make some mistakes and have some successes. I'm looking forward to watching him do the same. Even if I am going slower all the while.
Like I said, bittersweet.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
No matter what, however, you should either be out there riding or volunteering to help support this great Spokane cycling event that gives back to the cycling community.
For more info: www.spokefest.org!
If you don't make it, I will need to see a doctor's note.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It seems so simple, doesn't it? You use the brake pad to be a helpful little guy when you want to slow down, so how much harm could it cause when it just rubs a little itty bitty bit against the rim, huh? Let me put it this way, you were much, much smaller when you were born than you are today, right? Would you still go back to dear old mom and tell her childbirth was no big deal because you were just a little thing? I didn't think so.
Three vignettes come to mind regarding brakes rubbing. Indulge me if you will.
The most recent was the shop ride mentioned above. The rider in question is not a newbie, but on the other hand, he isn't an old hand yet either. Due to some fortunate weather and circumstances, this rider had the chance to ride for four of the five days up to and including this ride and, in a fit of enthusiasm, got out for a ride in the morning before the shop ride. As a result, when he was struggling to keep pace with the group, he was a bit mystified, but thought it might be a result of adding too many miles in too short a period. The rider in question, who has asked specifically to not be named and in a fit of responsibility I will abide by this request, is known to not be a complainer or whiner. In fact, there is a funny story on this point, but again, the rider in question has asked for his shellac-ed bagel story to be kept out of the public eye and I will, in a continuing fit of responsibility, abide by this request as well. Nonetheless, this rider just thought the problem was a fitness or riding issue and it didn't occur to him that it was a mechanical issue. I think that this is in part because unlike a flat tire that changes the characteristic of a bike, a rubbing brake pad just makes it harder, and that, my friend, is hard to identify as a mechanical issue.
I can speak with confidence on this issue because I too suffered through a bout of this myself recently. I even hearkened back to it in a recent post, but I had failed to align my wheel after replacing a flat and had the brake pad firmly against the rotor on one side of my rear mountain bike wheel. I rode a lap of the 24 Hour Race this way and the worse I felt, the worse I felt about it. I couldn't explain my sudden decrease in fitness or feeling, but it honestly never occurred to me that it wasn't an engine problem until after an hour and even then I didn't trip to it. I was quite embarrassed to see 1) how easy the problem was to find and fix, 2) how simple it would have been to notice, and 3) how long it took to get over the effects.
Which brings me to my 3rd and final vignette. In this instance, the person who suffered the impact of a rubbing brake pad has never gotten over the impact. You see, I did this to my wife on her first mountain bike event and she has never returned to the arena to fight again.
In this case, it was at the old-style Blazin' Saddles Chili Ride when it was held early enough there was often still snow on the ground. We parked near the Garage Mahal and rode over to the course on the new christmas present bike I had given her in hopes of getting her interested in riding. Unfortunately, it was my first experience with disc brakes and I did not know that squeezing the handle with the wheel out would cause the brake to bind up. As a result, we rode our first event together until my wife was at the point of exhaustion and utter misery, at which point, she wisely determined that cycling wasn't much fun. I felt bad about it then and still do to this day, because I am convinced that no matter how many times she has ridden since then, it felt so bad that day that the memory hasn't faded. A rubbing brake bad doesn't seem like much and no matter how many times I explain it, it is hard to grasp until you have lived through it and then lived to fight another day, or at least go ride your bike for long enough for the difference to fully sink in. In this case, my wife didn't know how it was supposed to feel, so she didn't have a frame of reference.
So, putting aside my guilt and shame for doing this to my wife, I will say the worst thing about a rubbing brake pad is the way it messes with your mind. You feel miserable while it is happening and it is hard to identify, but then the irony is the follow up rides when you feel miserable and it is NOT your brake pad's fault. You can keep checking and checking, but usually the next time it really is the engine. Which means that when the brake pad rubs again, you have it back in your mind it is the engine. And thus starts the vicious cycle again.
Now, about that bagel.