Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Trek Madone 6.5/6.9 Review: Part One, The Build

Readers of this blog know that last summer my bike was destroyed in an unfortunate crash during our state championship road race. The fact that I had nothing to do with said crash didn’t make me, or my checkbook, feel better. The good news? I walked away totally unscathed and it gave me the impetus to write what was supposed to be a sarcastic eulogy, but one that others took quite seriously. It also gave me an excuse to plunk down on a new bike.

After obsessing way too much over what should replace my old steed, I decided to go with Trek’s 2010 Madone 6.5 / 6.9. The other two bikes on the short list were a Pinarello Prince and a Look 595, in case you’re interested. In the end I ordered the 6.5 since I already had a set of deep section Aeolus 6.5s, although the rear one needs to be rebuilt. The only difference between the 6.5 and 6.9 are the wheels.

I actually started writing this entry last fall, and at the time I hadn't found a single Madone review. Still haven't found anything in depth, and I’ve had a ton of questions about the new bike, so thought this might be interesting for others.

For what it’s worth, I have more than a little experience riding many different bikes. I’m not going to list every bike I’ve owned or have been given, but trust me when I say it’s a long list that includes bikes made from steel, aluminum, carbon and titanium. I write this only because when it comes to reviews perspective is important. I’ve had bikes so whippy and flexible they were a bit frightening (a steel Gitane from the late-80s), bikes stiff in all the wrong places (a Cannondale from way back when), custom bikes (a very cool but garish “jungle green” Landshark) and more.

Anyway, Two Wheel Transit, my local bike shop, knows me well and saved unpacking and building the bike for me. The Madone arrived in a less-than-standard and impressively stout clamshell style box. The bike was strapped in with nylon webbing, and a series of foam tubes that covered just about every part of the frame.

For some early pictures, click here.

First impressions:
My wife can back me up when I say I was indecisive about what color the bike would be. Trek’s online Project One program is fun to play with, but there are too many options to pick from. Ultimately I chose the “team” paint with white, a clearcoat over the black carbon and pink. I know, I know, it’s pink, but I like it and it’s my bike, OK? I dig the colors and Trek’s painters did an outstanding job. The style I picked requires a ton of masking and the quality control is excellent. Masks are crisp and I can’t find anywhere there’s overspray. There’s a pretty deep looking clearcoat which looks very, very cool.

As an aside, as soon as I got home with the bike my wife exclaimed, “it’s Pinky Tuscadero.” Like it or not, the bike has a new nickname. Plus, I figure if the bike is Pinky Tuscadero I can consider myself The Fonz. Just kidding. I’m not in the biz of giving myself nicknames.

Other first impressions? It’s light. As soon as we had the wheels and stem on the bike Tomas at the shop threw the bike up on the scale. 14.1 pounds without pedals. For a bone-stock bike that’s pretty amazing in my book. My last bike was more like 17 – 18 pounds with race wheels.

So what’s next? The build.
Most normal people would have the shop finish off the assembly job that Trek started. Me? I evidently don’t have enough going on in my life with raising a 4 year old daughter, running a business, a fantastically dusty house remodel, etc.

Seriously though, I cut my chops in the pro bike racing world as a race mechanic. Thankfully I moved into team management pretty quickly, but I spent a lot of years working in shops and on bikes. I was interested in seeing how the bike went together and learning the ins and outs of Trek’s new design. So, I pulled out all of the cables and took most of the parts off the bike to start almost from scratch.

Here are some highlights about what I found:

  • The new Madone has internal everything. All the cables run through the frame. This creates a very clean look, but I’ll be brutally honest in saying that I was expecting the worst. Remember when I said I was a race mechanic? I HATED internal cables. I still get night sweats thinking about building a series of Hooker Elites for the Shaklee team the night before Redlands. Total nightmare…But threading the cables through the Trek was almost perfect. The brake and rear derailleur are a snap. The rear brake requires fishing the cable out of a small hole in the top tube(insert pic), but is easily accomplished with an old spoke or even a thin screwdriver. No problems there. And the rear mech cable pops right out of its guide. In fact I’m really impressed with how smooth the line is into the final loop of housing for the rear derailleur. Very slick. (insert pic)
  • Now let’s talk about the front derailleur cable. If you’ve ever bought furniture from Ikea you’ve probably learned the hard way that it’s better to read the instructions first. Well, I didn’t read Trek’s manual before stripping the parts and paid the price. That’s what you get for too much hubris about being a good mechanic. A special tool is required to guide the front derailleur cable out of the frame. I didn’t have this tool, and after two frustrating hours of trying to fish the cable (and reminiscing about building the Hookers) I called it a night and decided to drop the bike off at Two Wheel the next morning. Bummer. Thankfully Dave at the shop had better luck than I did and fixed my little f-up. Note: Trek makes a special guide that can be used, but it's not included with the bike.
  • This is interesting…Another thing I noticed was how the derailleur cables are run. The front derailleur inserts into the downtube on the right side of the frame. This is opposite from what’s usual. My guess is that this creates a cleaner line from the housing coming off of the bars. In fact we used to set up small riders’ bikes (typically women) this way. The smaller bikes created tighter bends for the cable/housing and weird friction/poor shifting would result. Anyway, think about the smoothest line between the housing coming off of your bars, and heading to the relevant derailleur. So far I haven't noticed that it creates extra friction or wears out the cables, and given that I haven't changed cables in months I think a problem would have shown up already...
  • When I replace the cables in the future I think I’ll run a piece of housing over the old cable before pulling the old cable out. This acts as a chase to run a new cable through, after which I can just pull off the “guide” housing.
  • Overall though, the internal cable system is very slick, and should be helpful for ensuring smooth shifts and braking, especially because the lines are so clean.

• The rest of the build was straightforward. The only other hiccup came when Dave noticed the derailleur hanger was out just a bit and aligned it for me. This is yet another reason to work with a good shop. I’ve rarely seen a frame come from a factory—ANY factory—absolutely perfect. You need an experienced mechanic to check things. Do yourself a favor. When you’re ordering a multi-thousand dollar bike, make sure you have someone that knows what they’re doing check the alignment and facing.

• The headtube and bottom brackets on the bike are massive. Lots has already been written about the Madone’s design, but at 90mm wide I’ve never seen such a robust bottom bracket. I was contrasting it with Rider 2’s Cervelo R3-SL and it’s pretty amazing to see the difference. Impressive.

The headtube is equally stout. 1.5” lower with 1.25” up top. Building things up I was excited to find out how this translated on the road.

• New wheels: Bontrager redesigned its wheels for 2010. I love the Aeolus 6.5s I’ve been racing on for the past year. They’re stiff in the right places, relatively light and give the best ride quality of any deep section wheel I’ve been on. They also have a wide rim that I’ve found helps improves the handling of the tires. I’ve glued on enough tubulars in my life to know that I’m done with that fun, and prefer to ride clinchers now.

Back to the new wheels there are some pretty big design changes. First of all, Bontrager finally got rid of its paired spoke design. Paired spokes, originally licensed from Rolf and also used (sort of) on some Campy wheels, are a great idea in principle. It creates a very stiff wheel, allows for extremely high spoke tension and requires fewer spokes, making the wheel lighter. The downside? When a paired spoke wheel fails, in has a tendency to fail catastrophically. Bang. Your ride is done and hopefully your teeth are intact.

The new wheels use a more traditional lacing pattern: Radial up front and a combo of 2x and radial in the rear. The hubs still look great. My Aeolus wheels have hubs made by DT (I think). Not sure if this is still the case but the quality appears good and they seem like a smart design. Hubs are one of the things on some wheels I have issue with. Rider 2 is rolling on some Hed Bastogne wheels this year with mixed feelings. They’re a light wheel with tiny hub flanges. The problem? At 6’ 1” and 165 he’s a powerful rider, but every time we go up on a steep climb I can hear his rims flexing and hitting his brakes. My guess is the hub has a lot to do with this and it isn’t a good thing.

How fly are the spokes? White looks very, very cool. I’m not sure how easy they’ll be to keep clean (they won’t), but in the mean time it’s a pretty slick look, especially with the rest of the bike.

Bontrager looks to have updated the rim this year as well, specing a scandium rim instead of straight aluminium. And thank you, thank you Bontrager for using external nipples. It will be nice to be able to true the wheel with a standard spoke wrench and without stripping the tire and rim tape. Total claimed weight for the pair under 1,500 grams. Impressive.

• DuoTrap. This is pretty slick. Trek build wireless integration into the non-drive chainstay. This acts as an internal pick-up for a speedometer and cadence, so you can toss your ugly and paint-scratching pick-ups in the garbage can. It works with any Ant+ wireless computer, which is pretty much everyone except Polar. What a surprise! Polar doesn’t play nicely with others! (did you notice the sarcasm?) I've been using mine with a Garmin Edge 500, and it couldn't be a simpler setup.

• Trek now has a replaceable dropout. It looks stout and being able to replace this easily is a good idea. Why? Well, here’s a picture of one of the things that happened to my last frame.

OK, up next is riding the new bike. After 6 months I have some pretty defined views on the frame, as well as on SRAM Red.

Paris-Roubaix Viewing @ Steam Plant Grill

This is essentially a re-announcement. I wanted to remind everyone that the Steam Plant Grill will be having a Paris-Roubaix party again this year on Sunday, April 11. The restaurant will open at 2 pm and the coverage is scheduled from 3 - 5 pm. Keep in mind that Versus pulled a fast one a couple of years in a row and changed the scheduled time right before the broadcast, but for now, plan to go race or spectate at the Ronde von Palouse on Saturday, our own local version of the Classics complete with dirt, gravel and short brutal climbs (so I've been told), and then come down Sunday to rinse the grit out of your teeth with some Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company beer.

The TV's are all in the bar area downstairs, so the Steam Plant Grill has arranged for this to be held as a special event and minors are allowed in this area for the duration of this party. This is done not just to get the GU Cycling Team in the door without the use of their fake ID's, but it will also help indoctrinate your children so that they see it is not just you who sits staring at the television for the month of July encouraging grown men to reach into their suitcases of courage and catch the break.

More details to follow, including rumors of pitcher specials, but get this on your calendar and come enjoy coverage of Paris-Roubaix with Spokane's cycling community at one of the restaurants that helps supports the cycling community through team sponsorships, race sponsorships, the Bike to Work Wrap-up Party and more.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shop Ride on Thursday, April 1

The first shop ride of the year is this coming Thursday, April 1. We will meet at Two Wheel Transit and leave at (about) 5.30 pm.

This is a casual pace, no-drop ride. There is no sign-up, no fee, no waiver and no responsibility. As in, neither Team Two Wheel nor Two Wheel Transit are responsible for accidents, injuries, death or maiming, but we will help with flat tires. It is an open road ride. It is not a race and it is not a ride for someone who has never been on a bike, but for people who would enjoy taking a group ride and are capable of getting around the course on their own power.

We will leave Two Wheel and head down Riverside Avenue, around to Riverside State Park, the Seven Mile Bridge and then back. If the road is open, we will ride the other side of the river and come back into town across the Sandifur Bridge and up into Browne's Addition.

Total mileage will be around 20 miles and the pace will be moderate, but no-drop. This is not a training ride for serious racers, but it should be a good recovery ride for racers and a reasonable pace ride for recreational riders.

I am anticipating primarily lycra-clad cyclists, but I wanted John Speare, Dean of local cycle blogging, to know that we will welcome his woolen knickers and newly appreciated platform pedals if he joins us. As for BiketoWork Barb, we don't know if the route will change next time, but show up and talk us into one or the other. The pace is described above and I think it would fit into your pre-Frozen Flatlands decrease in intensity and speed to rest and be ready.

Any other questions? No?

Good, then come ride with us.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Post-Work Ride Round-up

I hate "springing the clock forward". It seems silly and is highly disruptive to my sleep schedule. As a digression, I consider it a significant luxury to use an alarm clock very rarely. I wake up about the same time every day and early enough to get done what I need to, where I need to, etc. So when the clock is suddenly and inexplicably an hour off, my body doesn't understand and protests by being groggy and cranky all day long. Well, maybe the cranky is my natural personality, but groggy is definitely part of the protesting.

Oh sure, I admit that I adjust, but I don't like it. Now, on the other hand, bumping my clock back an hour in the fall - excellent idea.

Nonetheless, there is a short-term benefit to the clock nonsense. It means there is daylight after work to catch a ride. Last night I was sprung from work early with a dentist appointment (oh joy!) and got home in time to get outside for a ride. It was a game-time call so I didn't line up a riding buddy, but took my first ride in a few weeks alone.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy time on the bike alone. As an another aside, I rode alone in Spokane a lot of years. I wasn't racing, didn't have any friends who rode and my schedule worked better to just ride when I could. I logged a lot of "alone" miles and enjoyed most of them (I remember one killer bonk still that would have been good to have someone along to keep me from wandering into traffic, but that is another story). In the past few years I have found a few new friends who cycle, have had longtime friends take up the sport (sports injuries, anyone?) and found a group of avid cyclists that I can join most weekends and every morning I feel like slogging up Hatch at 5.30 am (starting up soon, MR?).

Last night, however, was just me pushing pedals for about 80 minutes and loving every minute of it. Random thoughts, blog ideas, enthusiasm for a few new ideas (Rider 3 IPA!) and a reasonable workout all included at no additional charge.

As the sun was setting and the wind getting chilly, it was a reminder that it is still March, but the promise of heat glimmering off the pavement and the welcome cooling breezes around sun set are just tantalizingly around the corner. Soon enough, though.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Take a look at Micheal Rogers at San Remo last weekend. Now go back and really, really look at Mick Rogers. Look at the dirt on his face, the lines and crags and suffering on his face. Look at his legs. Look at his posture. But mostly, go back and look at his face again (If you click on the picture, you can see a larger version).

If you have ever raced your bicycle you can probably empathize with that look. If you are reading this blog post you probably haven't ever been paid to ride your bike and you probably haven't raced up the Cipressa or Poggio, but that doesn't mean you can't understand the look on Mick Rogers face and at least get a glimpse of what it feels like.

Keep in mind that if Mick Rogers stopped by any of the local races, say anywhere in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, British Columbia or Alberta, he would toy with every single racer who showed up and then sprint away whenever he felt like it. It is not unfair to say that he is other-worldly when it comes to the gap between us mere mortals and the professionals. And yet, here in his work place he is attempting to ride away from the entire professional peleton to snatch glory in San Remo. Unfortunately, you can tell from the look on his face that it was not going to happen (and it didn't happen).

He may be suffering under team orders, or to "test his legs" or just to take his chances, but no matter the reason or the result, that dude is suffering.

One last thing that jumps out at me about that picture. When the pro's are fully kitted out, they look "cool" sort-of, but they are primarily traveling billboards. The contrast of the yellow advertisement covering his body and bike is a stark contrast to the look on his face and his suffering. It's like putting a clown costume on someone right before you torture them.

What a strange and horrible way to make a living.

Don't you wish you could?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Emerging from hibernation

Our bloggerific hero, Rider 3, has been a one-man writing machine of late. And trust me, I feel bad that I haven't contributed much. For the most part he's been understanding, but the blog is indeed meant to be a team effort.

It's said that there's no "i" in team, in this case meaning more than one person should ideally contribute to our little blog. It's also said that there is indeed an "i" win, but I'm not sure how you win at blogging. Unless you're a bigger dork that even we are, which is saying something.

Like Rider 3 mentioned at some point I have a multi-part review of my Trek Madone. Unfortunately a two-week sinus infection, work, training and getting my house ready to put on the market has made getting some pictures to go with the review a bit difficult to get to.

Nice excuses, eh?

In the mean time, here are some bike-ridey thoughts to pass along:

  • I have a favorite new blog. OK, I know the guy a bit, but still, I'm digging Michael Barry's updated site. Check out "Le Metier," at Great writing, insight, pictures and, well, overall outlook and perspective. Nice stuff.
  • I've been riding with a full-on geek factory on my stem this year. And I have to say, the Garmin Edge 500 is one pretty slick unit. It's small, lets you pull down all kinds of cool maps and ride info, and so far has been bomb-proof. I think my favorite thing though is how customizable the screens are--you can very easily set it up to show only the info you want, which is a nice change from some of the info overload systems that make you feel more like an airline pilot than a cyclist. Two Wheel Transit has these in stock, by the way.
  • Spokane has had the oddest "winter" I've experienced in 12 years living here. I think it's snowed once--and my five-year-old daughter was in charge of shoveling that 1/2 inch of snow. We also had pretty consistent 40+degree temperatures through January and February. Crazy. The result? People are riding awfully fast this year. Should make for an interesting spring racing season.
  • Sinus infections suck. Pardon the expression. But two weeks off the bike when everyone else is starting to go really fast? Not fun. But hey, if Cav can recover, so can I right? Wait, did I really just compare myself to Mark Cavendish. Sorry about that...
  • Back in the day I carried more than a little disdain for the guys that showed up to group rides looking a little too "PRO" for their own good. In other words, they looked the part, but couldn't always follow through, if you know what I mean. Something happened over the past couple of years. So now when I see a guy show up for a training ride rocking deep section carbon wheels, custom Oakley Jawbones and a bit of Assos thrown in, I mostly feel happy for him. Maybe it's a function of age, of getting slower or being worn down, but being a bike geek is a good thing. The caveat? If you are said bike geek, please don't expect the group to leave out dirt roads and bad pavement or whatever just because you pulled out your go-fast gear. We're still going out for fun and training after all.
  • Kudos to Rider Two. A couple of weeks ago he cracked his Cervelo R3 SL in not one, not two, but three places! All without crashing. Thankfully he actually brought it to the shop to attempt to warranty it. Not that riding around with a broken carbon fork is a bad idea or anything...
OK, more to come.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Rider 1 agreed to handle all the posts this week. How's that working out so far?

I will gloss over ride reports for this weekend except to say that they made me tired. I will also say that I don't like going up hills. I should also mention that it is not my fault that I don't like going up hill; it is my family genetics that gave me my height and my "big bones", a.k.a. excess weight. I had nothing to do with it; except the eating and drinking part for the last couple of decades. And lastly I will say that I thought we were going to have a weekend of sun and those glorious pre-spring rides that make you realize that warmer weather is just around the corner. Instead we had very "pleasant" weather that was without question nicer than the February weather, but just not as nice as the April and June weather I am looking forward to enjoying. And yes, that means that I will burn out and give up after June.

And that leads me to the point to today's post, which is that I went running today. See the connection? No?

I signed up for and made it through the lottery for the Leadville 100. That sentence alone could launch a thousand posts (and probably will), but I am going to start small.

I went to Leadville for the mountain bike race three years ago. I didn't finish. While I was pushing my bike up an endless mountain trail (which was literally started at about 9,300 feet of elevation and finished at 12,550 feet and includes pitches of 30% (yes, that is correct - 30%)), I said to myself that in order to prepare I should have realized that I would be pushing my bike and I should have done some training for it. I hate running and it is hard to know what could be worse than running uphill at 11-12,000 feet, except that I know for sure that one thing that would be worse is actually doing THAT and having done NO training for it.

So, this year I am doing some training for it. I have been running four times in 2010, so I am not exactly burning up the rubber on my soles, but so far in 2010 because of my work schedule, it's only been the last couple of weeks when I am home during any daylight and a not-unreasonable temperature except on the weekends, which weekends I usually reserve for cycling, which I enjoy, as opposed to running. But this morning I had a limited amount of time, I wanted a workout and I figured 40 minutes of running was more useful than 40 minutes on the trainer.

In retrospect I'm sure it was, but the pain in my legs and the memory of the experience make me wonder what the hell I was doing when I signed up for the Leadville 100 again. I thought, at the time, that the challenge would be motivating and it would give me the opportunity to finish the race (which is still bugging me from not finishing in 2007). Right now, a burger and beer seems like a better idea.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paris-Roubaix Viewing

I am very pleased to announce that the Steam Plant Grill will be having a Paris-Roubaix party again this year on Sunday, April 11. The restaurant will open at 2 pm and the coverage is scheduled from 3 - 5 pm. Keep in mind that Versus pulled a fast one a couple of years in a row and changed the scheduled time right before the broadcast, but for now, plan to go race or spectate at the Ronde von Palouse on Saturday, our own local version of the Classics complete with dirt, gravel and short brutal climbs (so I've been told), and then come down Sunday to rinse the grit out of your teeth with some Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company beer.

The TV's are all in the bar area downstairs, so the Steam Plant Grill has arranged for this to be held as a special event and minors are allowed in this area for the duration of this party. This is done not just to get the GU Cycling Team in the door without the use of their fake ID's, but it will also help indoctrinate your children so that they see it is not just you who sits staring at the television for the month of July encouraging grown men to reach into their suitcases of courage and catch the break.

More details to follow, including rumors of pitcher specials, but get this on your calendar and come enjoy coverage of Paris-Roubaix with Spokane's cycling community at one of the restaurants that helps supports the cycling community through team sponsorships, race sponsorships, the Bike to Work Wrap-up Party and more.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday / Saturday / Sunday

Enough blogging. Let's ride.

The sun is shining so Rider 3 can stop clicky-clacking that stupid keyboard and break a sweat the way real cyclists do.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jersey Bin

I got an e-mail this week from "Jersey Bin", which advertises itself as "the waterproof cycling pouch." Jersey Bin is having a sweepstakes in which they are giving away jersey bins. Aside from it being an illegal sweepstakes (you have to order something to enter - a no-no in almost every state I think), the whole concept of the Jersey Bin makes me scratch my head a bit. First, here is a picture of a jersey bin, just so we all know what we are talking about.

So, it is a clear or frosted (your choice) plastic, resealable pouch in which to hold objects and protect them from moisture and sweat. Okay, good idea. They sell them in pairs, either $6 for two small or $8 for two large. So, not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things and there are things, like cell phones and paper maps, as pictured here, that it is important to keep from getting wet. But there is still something troubling about this. Can't quite put my finger on it yet.

Maybe checking the testimonials from Jersey Bin will help. Here is one on their website right now: "I've been riding thousands of miles per year without a cell phone for fear of wrecking my expensive smartphone. The Jersey Bin is the perfect size for holding phone, house key and cash, fitting neatly in a jersey pocket. The price made ordering the pouch a no-brainer. I'll never have to pay a $15 collect call charge after flatting 50 miles from home again."

So, it appears that we have an entrepreneurially-minded guy who has solved a problem for his customers. I guess everything is good. Here is a customer who rides thousands of miles on his bike, but apparently doesn't have the ability to change a flat, and apparently didn't have any way of carrying his expensive smartphone with him, forcing him to make a $15 collect call to his spouse or S.O. to come get him 50 miles from home. Wow. And to think that it only took the creation of Jersey Bin to come to this guy's rescue so NOW when he is riding 50 miles from home and he gets a flat tire he can whip out his Jersey Bin-protected expensive smartphone and call his spouse or S.O. to get in the car and come get him. Maybe with the time and money he saves from not having to walk to a phone and make a $15 collect call, they will have time to swing by the bike shop on the way home and spend their savings on having a mechanic change their flat tire.

If I were Glenn Beck, I would have a tear in my eye right now. I would also have a chalk board, but that is another matter. The issue right now is the tear in my eye. Here is one reason that I might have a tear in my eye, a tear of joy. That it is the American way for entrepreneurs to solve problems with the invention of new products and it is also the American way for people to trade their hard-earned cash for these new inventions to make their lives better. It's a beautiful thing and all that is right about our God-blessed American way.

Here is another reason I might have a tear in my eye though, a tear of frustration. That this testimonial cyclist represents everything that is wrong with America today. Here is a guy who knowingly gets on a bike regularly and rides "thousands" of miles and doesn't have the sense to carry a spare tube or a flat repair kit. His solution for a flat is to call for a ride home, no matter where he is or how inconvenient that might be for his S.O. In America, we used to have this thing called "self reliance." I think that is how the pioneers managed to subdue this continent. I don't think they wrote home to Mother England to complain about the inconveniences and ask for a ride home. No, they made their rims out of wood and went on riding their bikes. They used possum spit and bear fur to plug the holes in their tires and went to the iron smithy to forge their frames. This is the spirit that America was built on!

If you are going to go on a ride, then you should have the ability to deal with the normal, predictable result of doing so. Does this guy call home for a banana and gatorade when he gets hungry or thirsty? Does he call home for a jacket when it starts to rain, even though it was cloudy and the forecast was for 90% chance of precipitation? Probably, but should he? No. These are normal and predictable needs on a bike ride and the credo of the bike rider should be such that he or she is ready to take care of him or herself. I strongly suggest that this particular rider confine himself to the trainer.

But really, here is the reason I am having a hard time with both this ill-prepared cyclist and the Jersey Bin. Because for less than the price of one single Jersey Bin, I can buy a box of 30 replacements. AND THEY ARE CALLED ZIPLOC BAGS!

If you are old enough to buy one and smart enough to use an "expensive smartphone", shouldn't you also have enough sense to recognize there are other solutions to carrying your smartphone?! And hey, even if you don't get the technology behind a ziploc bag when it is "just" a ziploc bag and not yet turned into a Jersey Bin, can't you get out your Bike Nashbar catalog and see those things call "bags" that some cyclists buy to carry things with them. They come in all shapes and sizes, so that you can carry a few essentials like your smartphone AND a spare tube!

I think I am going to cry.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt is a hard man. I don't know what else to say about the guy. He embodies so much of what is great and tough about racing bikes. So, if you are reading this, it means either you understand that or you aspire to that or both. So how do you become a bit more like Jens in your own cycling life. There isn't a 12 Step program; there isn't a list of 10 things; there is just one thing. Luckily for you, I was able to find two videos that embody this one thing.

Behold, learn, enjoy.

Can Jens condense this 40 seconds into 5 seconds? Yes, Jens can do any damn thing he wants.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Whistler Mancation as told by Werner Herzog

Part Man, Mostly Weasel
The Whistler Mancation as told by Werner Herzog
- An examination of five men

Our scene opens with a man sitting at a computer. An e-mail is open before him. It was an invitation, but what did this invitation really mean? Was it a journey to nature or to society, or was it a journey of madness, chaos and destruction? It would be all of these things and more. Much as the entire universe can be seen in a single drop of rain hanging from a jungle leaf, this trip was an entire life lived both within and without the constraints of society.

We next see a man walking out of a grocery store, but not any grocery store. No, one of inestimable hypocrisy as it pretends to be natural and kind to our world, when we can easily see through this veil of lies for what it really presents – an overpriced way for the privileged to salve their souls while they rape the landscape. This man is carrying bottles of beer and a sandwich. He is waiting. The sandwich is supposed to feed his soul, but is that possible? The bottles of beer are meant as a gift for the hospitality that he anticipates, but if he really believes this, then why does he drink most of it himself. We will ask him this question later.

A vehicle pulls up. Four men are in it, one wearing a hat to ward off the chill in the air. We will see him change that hat many times. Why? We will ask him this question later.

One man gets out of the car. The others seem very pleased by this. He climbs into the waiting car with the first man, the remains of his sandwich and the beer. Soon they are all traveling again. North. They have skiing equipment and technical clothing. Do they not realize the futility of trying to tame nature with such apparatus? They are applying a thin crust of technology over a world filled with chaos and murder. Do they not realize that the cold and snow, like the fearsome yeti of my dreams, will tear through that thin crust and leave them exposed and potentially overwhelmed?

They arrive at their destination. They carry their equipment and their alienation and their protective mantle of civilization into their dwelling place. They share the beer from the first man and then bed down in their false sense of security.

The next morning they go about their tedious rituals and consumption of crepes. I have often said that to be a tourist is a sin, while traveling on foot is a virtue. These men are sinners of the worst order. Sandwich and beer man taunts the young lady at the creperie with a comment about the Kentucky Fried Chicken not being open so they are forced to find their sustenance here. Does he think this is funny or does he realize how absurd and rude he is? Hat man has another hat upon his head. The man who caused such relief by switching vehicles also is here. Later we learn that they call him “part man, mostly weasel.” Is this a term of endearment or recognition of man’s basest motives and desires which seem so close to the surface in this person. A fourth man is here. He is quiet and we do not immediately see a reason to be derisive of him. This surely will change. The last man has stayed in their dwelling. Preferring quiet and oatmeal to this forced conviviality of crepes. Do these four not sense their lives slipping away from them as society slowly suffocates them and strips them of their individuality?

They do not.

Now, all five men don their equipment and make their way to the ski hill. Four of them are excellent skiers, but sandwich and beer man appears to have spent too much time with his sandwiches and beer and not enough time attending to his physical needs. Life is not lived in one’s head. Life is lived with one’s thighs. This man needs to do more living.

As we gaze up the mountain and beyond, I see planets that don't exist and landscapes that have only been dreamed. These men, however, are grounded to this landscape. They mechanically climb the mountains and then slide down them. Over and over again. They have moments of grace and they moments of treachery and chaos and destruction, for they are human. They have smiles upon their faces for they have momentarily forgotten that their time on this mortal coil shall surely be ending in a blink of the eye. If they are lucky.

The sandwich and beer man begins slowing down and holding the group up. Why do they tolerate this? Is this the crust of humanity that holds up over the deep sea of swirling chaos that constantly threatens to swallow us all? They eventually make their way to a bar. It is called the Dubliner and it reeks of faux authenticity. The servants appear in short plaid skirts and tall school girl socks. Does this appeal to their basest of all human instincts? To rut around the ground and do it like they do on the Discovery Channel? It does.

They leave. They drink more at their dwelling. They sit in a tub of hot water and try to forget the gaping chasm between their individual needs and the demands of society. They eat at Earls. Then, finally, we see them seek enlightenment, nay redemption. They pursue one of the only reasonable pastimes that our society has created. They watch one of my films, Grizzly Man, and learn of poor Timothy Treadwell, who does not tread-well, but treads too close to our animal nature as he seeks to break the barrier between man and beast. Poor Timothy takes such joy in scat of a bear named Sue, but he will eventually become the scat of another bear. We can only assume that he takes less joy in this. The men, however, take inestimable strides in escaping the primordial aspect of our world by engaging in this activity. Then they sleep.

The new day dawns. They take their time and don yet another set of equipment. This time they will not only slide down the mountains they will also walk back up them. Maybe there is hope for them after all. But we have to assume not.

The man with the hats wears yet another hat. The sandwich and beer man borrows equipment and believes he is masking his pain, but it is obvious to all. The oatmeal and quiet man we learn is a teacher; he demonstrates this through the day by teaching beer and sandwich man many things. The quiet one still escapes derision. Part man, mostly weasel continues as he was, although now he is insisting not only that everyone have a waffle, but that everyone ENJOY the waffle. Even without compote. What is he trying to communicate with this behavior? Every gray hair on my head may be called Kinski, but graying hairs on these collective heads shall forthwith be known as Werner. Facts sometimes have a strange power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable and yet it is so.

We see the men slide down hills, climb up hills and then repeat this activity. Why? Do they believe they will find their humanity within this nature, or that nature will find their humanity within these hills? We cannot know some things. And yet they do this activity until sandwich and beer man is past the point of exhaustion. And they keep going. Are they torturing this man for a reason or do they torture simply as a way to peak through the layer of civilization and embrace the chaos and murder that exist so closely but temporarily held at bay. They all start to tire. Their base instincts start to come through. They have reverted to pre-pubescent humor as a pair sing a ditty, an ode, to the titty. Another tells a tale of a man from Iraq. The reference ultimately to Bach does not add civility to this crude anecdote.

Finally they escape the mountains. Like Icarus, have they tried to fly away in these mountains, fly away to a place where society ceases to exist and civilization begins? If so, their journey must have scared them, as they immediately seek refuge in the closest place which most represents the oppression and strictures of society. They flee to the Chateau Whistler. A bourgeois attempt to cloak themselves in culture when they should have built a fire in the woods and asked the devil himself to join them.

Lasagna. The White Diamond. Sleep.

And then, for sandwich and beer man, this journey comes to an end. We can only speculate as to what happens to him after he leaves this compound. We can only speculate as to what happens to the others. I know, because I have seen into the cave behind the waterfall, but I will not tell you out of respect for their illusions that they so desperately cling to, foolishly believing it will save them from the chaos and destruction and murder that swirls around them as they swirl around the abyss. Ultimately, we must be grateful that the Universe knows no smile and that the weasel sings to the elephant only at night.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Prerequisite for Tomorrow's Post

Here are videos totally unrelated to cycling, Spokane or Team Two Wheel, except for the relationship to tomorrow's post. I have placed these in the order that they amused me. If you are not familiar with Werner Herzog, the most basic information is that he is a German film maker with a distinctive view of life, man and our relationship to nature.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Leg Shaving

A few posts ago there was a picture of Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong's calves and upon which he commented by saying that his unshaved legs were proof that he wasn't taking cycling too seriously yet. I think that is the best reason to offer as to why cyclists do shave our legs; it's because we take cycling seriously.

I have heard and read lots of reasons for shaving your legs. My favorite is when people talk about aerodynamics. If you are shaving your legs for aerodynamics, I also hope you are taking these similarly useful steps to improve your cycling performance:
  • Shaving off your eyebrows to smooth airflow over your face.
  • Either plugging your nostrils or never opening your mouth - your choice.
  • Shaving the bumps off of the tread of your tire to help with both aero and rotational mass.
  • Being careful to get just enough grease on your bike to keep the chain and wheels moving, but not so much to add to the weight or rotational mass.
  • Sanding the paint or clear-coat off of your frame, but only very smoothly.
  • Lowering your head whenever you exhale so you don't create negative forces against your motion.
  • Wearing latex gloves over your hands or shaving down your knuckle hair and uber-trimming your nails for airflow on the leading edge.
I think you get the point. Aerodynamics is NOT a good reason to shave your legs.

One really good reason to shave your legs is to aid with the massage process. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to a single cyclist that I personally know, unless self-massage counts. And no, I'm not following that up with more commentary.

So, for the average cyclist who races but doesn't have a soigneur (Here is an odd note - I spelled that word correctly without spellcheck, which means I devote too much of brain to this sport. I may need an intervention), what is the reason to shave your legs?

In complete honesty, I think there are three reasons. First, if you fall, and for most racers it is a question of "when" you fall, it does help with the wound cleaning, bandaging and healing process. Road rash on a shaved leg is indeed better than on a hairy one. Second, it helps with cleanliness. It is much easier to wipe off your legs, spray them with a water bottle or whatever, when they are shaved. Hairy legs do a better job of holding onto sweat, dirt and grit (please take note Mo'Nique). And for any rider who knows what chamois cheese is, you know that staying clean is a good idea. And lastly, and this may be a bit of blasphemy, it is stylish.

Now, I know that most guys are very hesitant to do anything that is considered "stylish", but the truth is that we could wear technical t-shirts to race in, but we wear jerseys with pockets. I'm not saying the jersey doesn't have a useful purpose, but there are rides we could do without pockets and we still wear jerseys. Heck, there have been thousands of words spilled across the internet about Armstrong's penchant for dark socks or longer socks. This is purely a style question (or almost purely), so let's not pretend that style is not a part of cycling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I don't speak French. I enjoy French Fries and am glad to drink French wines, but failing to understand in the 7th grade what an obsession cycling and the Tour de France would ultimately be I spent my formative years sitting in Spanish class instead of French. Please note that I did not say "studying Spanish" or even "learning Spanish", because, frankly, my years of Spanish were enough for me to be able to take one boondoggle "language" trip, in which I was able to order beer and a meal with confidence, but that's about it. Shortly after that trip, I carried the memories of the mischief and architecture for many years, but I appeared to carry the Spanish language for about 6 more months. It failed to trouble my consciousness much beyond that.

As a result, I watch a great deal of cycling on television that all comes from France, but I am not able to follow any native language discussion. And if it were just television coming from France it wouldn't be too much of an issue, but a lot of our cycling traditions and language comes from France. Words like peleton, echelon, domestique and suitcase-of-courage are all foreign to us. Another of these words is rouleur.

The word rouleur is much less common than domestique or peleton, but it has served as the inspiration for an obscure cycling magazine of that name. Rouleur is printed quarterly by the company that makes Rapha clothing. It is quite pricey even when you aren't paying for the shipping from England and it is literally double the pricey to get it from England. Nonetheless, this quarterly is an exquisite piece of the cycling world and I look forward to it immensely.

It is hard to describe the magazine without holding one in your hands. There really should be a word other than "magazine" for this publication, because it is printed on paper dramatically more substantial than that of any other monthly periodical. It is bound more like a paperback book than a magazine. The quality of the graphics and substance of the stories make it a shame to consider disposing of it. Although obviously, not everyone agrees with me.

From Misc Bike Pics

The stories in Rouleur tend to be very long and very involved. This is unlike Bicycling magazine, which I understand has studies correlating the length of its articles to the average time the American male cyclist spends on the crapper. They also tend towards insipid, but that is another matter.

Rouleur also tends to spend much more time on bikes produced between 1965 and 1985 than doting after the latest carbon fiber miracle. Much more leather saddle and steel frame than gel saddle and carbon frame. As a result, they focus on bikes that featured components either from Campagnolo or now-defunct companies. Shimano and SRAM just weren't competing for space on the derailleur hanger of the Molteni Team. A few issues ago they gave some time to the Dura Ace versus Record discussion, but it is hard to compare "efficiency" versus "history", when your prism is respect for tradition.

The latest issue, however, features a lengthy interview with Mr. Shimano and it includes numerous pictures from the factory. It also features a long article about the "Z" team, or Team Zed if you prefer, and pictures of the Tour of California that purposely feature the gray wet days of last year's race that make it look like it was held in the English countryside. Once again, it draws a spotlight to the beauty and anguish and joy and struggle and pain and elation that makes up this sport.

I just had time to glance through the issue, but as I put it down, I realized that the definition of Rouleur was not "good all rounder" or a moniker for guys like Jens Voigt and Sean Yates. No, the definition is "love". Of course, "love" in a manly way. No, not in a Roman gladiator movie-manly way, just manly. Because it is a celebration of the part of cycling that is so tough and, if we are honest with ourselves, that we love.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quicksilver's Saturday Ride Report

Rider Three spent time on Friday making a video which featured a character with an outhouse on his head. That was supposed to be me. I guess it was supposed to be funny. I was working and riding my bike instead. The way men do.

Here is my ride report. We met for a ride on Saturday and went for two hours. Weather was fine. I plan to do it again soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday Ride Report

Here is a quick ride report from Saturday. First, and of the most importance to me, is that prior to the ride I only had a couple of comments about the ride announcement, which I not-humbly called "The Best Ride Announcement Ever". I try to write things that are amusing, interesting and occasionally funny. On Friday I created the video announcement and I completely cracked myself up. I thought for sure that after I posted it I would get a few messages along the lines of "G-D that was the funniest thing I have seen since Caddyshack" or "Holy cow, other than getting the technology from BikeSnobNYC, that was very funny and clever". Instead, however, I got two complaints about not providing a text pronouncement (Thanks Bobs) and not much else.

As I rode up to the group on a beautiful Saturday morning, I honestly thought I was going to get a number of looks like "what is the matter with that guy?", and also, to be honest, I don't want to have a conversation about what is the matter with me. The list is too long to start. Anyway, I was pleased that the reaction was good and that people enjoyed it. In the post-Oscar glow, my inner-Sally says, "They liked it, they really liked it!" As evidence of that, the blog posted a five-fold increase in readership from the prior days.

But you are now asking, what does this have to do with a ride report? Nothing, but then again if I didn't digress, this blog would be filled exclusively with six-word entries from Quicksilver.

So, on Saturday at 11 a.m. the sun was shining and the temperature was rising slowly. The group grew and grew, until we had an impressive 27 people ready to go for a ride. Not bad for this early in March.

There was a wide range of clothing, from M. S. who looked like Nanook of the North to my fellow TTW riders who seem impervious to the cold and dress like it. As it turns out, those with the light clothing on were suitably attired. I ditched my wind vest approximately 3 minutes into the ride and the stops were used more for shedding layers than shedding water (if you know what I mean). Speaking of shedding water, or what the professionals call a "nature break", last week the group had turned a corner with a stop sign and had stretched out a bit. I was in the middle rear of the group with Rider 1 and we saw Rider 2 take off at a dead sprint off the front of the group. Rider 2 is usually the diesel motor type, not the pretty-pony type, so I said to Rider 1, "What is up with #2?" He said, "No idea", so I said, "Shall we catch him?" "Sure" was the response. So, feeling frisky and knowing that primarily all I had to do was sit on #1's wheel, we got quickly up to speed and started eating up the asphalt between us and #2. At that point, however, just as we were closing in at full speed, #2 pulled off the left side of the road to a, shall we say, private area. Unfortunately, we had pulled the group up to warp speed as everyone was getting onto the train before it left the station. This left #2 well and truly behind. Now, #2 had a theory that we could have turned off the gas, but jeez, we didn't keep speeding up, we just burned off the momentum we already had. Before you get feeling too bad for him though, it turns out that we were not far from a long downhill, which Rider 1 took at full speed, and then the road turned up sharply for a long hill. This is where I saw Rider 1 again. Going by. Quickly. Let's just he wasn't really in danger of being dropped.

Anyway, this week we had a couple of more organized nature breaks. Rider 2 took the time to complain about the deference offered to those with stops on Saturday.

The ride took the lower portion of the "new" Fish Lake Trail. This trail is definitely being discovered and we saw lots of people on it. Our group was very civilized and I can assume that T. W. was doing his "Gregarious Rider" impersonation to every person we passed. With 27 riders we needed to be courteous and I believe we were. At the intersection with the Cheney-Spokane road, we turned towards Cheney and stayed on the road. We had a bit of a city limit sprint and then made our way to Betz Road. By this time, we had shed a few riders off the back. I actually dropped off the back at one point to find out what happened, but the few riders must have turned around since they were not within sight.

As we headed up Betz road, one of Rider 1's favorite sojourns, we did have one fearless soul dash off the front who then served as our rabbit as the group kept up a good tempo. We eventually caught him as we left Betz Road and the group came together again for a few minutes. As we left Four Lakes we did have another burst of speed, first by a couple of speedsters and then by Rider 1 who decided, without warning I think, to open up the after-burners for a 3-minute threshold attempt to get an idea of how his Sunday 12k TT was going to go. Or at least planned to go, as it unfortunately did not, but I am proud to say that I caught up to him. I would like for this to stand as a testament to by speed and and fitness, but it was not. Instead, I used a bit of trickery, like cutting through a stop sign at high speed and then again at an intersection where Rider 1 had stopped traffic and I was just barely close enough to make it through the intersection before traffic started up. Yes, trickery was much more useful than speed.

Anyway, we made our way back to Thorpe, sped down to Vinegar Flats and then I headed home and let the rest of the diminished pack head up the fish ladder on the way home. It was largely an uneventful ride. A few got dropped, a few were frisky, and I think that everyone was tired after the two hours of effort, but the real news is that the sun was shining and the temperatures are getting hopeful. It was a ride that reminds me of why I enjoy cycling so much. Just the right mixture of BS, hard work and the easy camaraderie of a pack of like-minded souls. Thanks for the ride, guys.
Rider 3

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dr. Spalm - Round 2

Dr. Spalm - I have two follow-up questions from your last answer. First, you said the you removed the hyphens from Never-was-again's name for two reason, but you only gave one.

Second, the question was more of "how do I get benefit from drafting a smaller rider", rather than a "how do I make a smaller rider sorry for not offering more draft".

Still Curious

Dear Still Curious - While I am not a native English speaker and some of your ways are deeply foreign to me, I must note that I do have more than a basic grasp of your language. As such, I can clearly and definitely recognize that you, Still Curious, are an idiot. How, you ask? You have said you have two follow-up questions and yet if you look at your "questions", you will find they are statements and not questions at all. The lack of question marks should have been a tip-off for you.

Nonetheless, I understand that Family Guy and Sarah Palin came to an agreement that we personages of show business are supposed to be kind to idiots and not fling around the "R" word without sufficient justification. As such, I will pretend that your statements are questions and answer them as such.

First, you have stated that I said there two reasons for something and I only gave one. What are you, the pedagogical police? No, we have already established that you are a curious idiot and not simply pointing out the syntactical or structural error in my paragraph construction. Besides, why do you need to know? As it turns out, my grandmother met an early demise when she choked on a hyphen. There, are you happy now? And thank you for dredging up the memory of my poor Nana's death.

Second, you have suggested that I didn't answer the question asked of me by Never-was-again. I mean Never was again. I fail to understand your point. Clearly the Volkswagen gets more benefit from following the Semi than the other way around. This is basic physics and, without the benefit of a quantum physic-style extra dimension, this set of the laws of physics appear to be immutable. Therefore it is not possible for the Semi to get protection from the wind behind a Volkswagen and it is not possible for the meat wagon in question to benefit from his cricket-sized companion. Thus the only logical conclusion is that Mr. Cricket must be punished. Just as Semi's run the Volkswagens off the road. Next time you are on a car trip, keep an eye out for the rusted remnants of Volkswagens in ditches and ravines. I think it will prove my point.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Best Ride Announcement Ever

Dr. Spalm - Round 1

Dr. Spalm has recently returned from the Haiti. He was not there helping.

An astute and perspicacious reader sent in the following question:

Question for Dr Spalm - How does a 208 lb meat wagon effectively draft
behind a 135 lb cricket?


Dr. Spalm responds: Thank you astute and perspicacious Never was again. Before I go on, I should remark that I have removed the "-", or as you Americans call them, hyphens, from between your name. I have done this for two reasons. The first is that I am paid by the word to produce answers to these questions and those cold-hearted b*st*rds that make up Team Two Wheel would argue for an hour about whether "Never-was-again" was one word or three, but I have forestalled this issue by cleverly removing the "-" and by droning on for a multitude of words before getting to the topic.

Next, I should address that nickname, Never was again. I don't know you personally, although I have been told that you should shower more regularly, but I am guessing that this is clever word play on the concept of a "has been". I would argue, dear NWA, that you are not a "never was", but more of a "never could have been", but I guess that is for history to determine.

Now for the meat of your question. This is indeed a perplexing problem. On training rides with relatively few riders of the recreational variety, it is often the case that larger riders and smaller riders will appear. I have heard that one approach is to recognize that people come in every shape and size and that we should learn to love our brethren for their differences. This is nonsense.

I suggest that you do the following: 1) first, start the ride next to your cricket-sized friend; 2) if the wind is blowing or you end up in a paceline situation, take a short and hard pull and then quickly pull to the side while you examine your brake or crankset, which will cause the cricket to a) not understand that you are faking it and b) cause him to move up; 3) when Mr. Cricket moves over as if to allow you forward, simply move over behind him and, if possible, adjust your shoe and re-examine your brake or crankset; 4) when Mr. Cricket finally won't fall for this tactic anymore, ride up next to him on the non-curb side as if you were going to take a pull and then when you are 2/3 in front of him veer sharply towards the curb. Mr. Cricket's front wheel will be battered sideways causing him to head directly into the curb, gutter or gravel-strewn shoulder and crash. Since you were in front of him, you have no need to look back or recognize the anguished cries of Mr. Cricket and his cracked clavicle. He will, however, never dare sit behind you enjoying your massive draft while he offers no such similar protection from the wind.

One final caveat. If your cricket-sized friend is actually Paulo "The Cricket" Bettini, do not try this. He will cut you so quick you will be bleeding before you know he has his knife out.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Training in the Cold. Training through a Cold.

I had a phone conversation with a friend about being sick and missing training. He was complaining about not feeling well and missing a week of training. He sounded stuffy and miserable on the phone. So what did I do? I made fun of him and offered him some advice. I said that if you are sick “below” the neck, take time off; if you are sick “above” the neck, you can train. I forgot to mention what to do if you are sick “in” the head.

I think I read the "above the neck/below the neck" rule on in their oddly detailed Fitness Q & A. It is oddly detailed because they don't just answer general questions, they sometimes will give very specific advice in a series of e-mail that ultimately results in the reader buying a new pair of cycling shoes, moving his saddle 4 millimeters up and 3.2 millimeters back (this sound logical to Rider 1), saving his banana for after the ride and taking Psych 101 as an easy prerequisite. I just don't get that, but then again, I took Deviant Psychology instead. Anyway, I digress.

I was also recently sick. I have the landfill worth of Kleenex to prove it. BTW, Team Two Wheel is not endorsed by a particular brand of facial tissue. I just thought it was easier to use that brand name than drawing attention to the clumsiness of that sentence with the words "facial tissue" in the place of "Kleenex". Anyway, I digress.

The problem with my recent sickness is that I was really sick. Sometime I get a runny nose or sound bad, but I don't actually feel too bad. I can still ride my bike, but I have a built-in excuse. When I ride up to the group and it sounds as if I have my nose squeezed tight but my hands are no where near my face, it comes across as a nasally way of saying, "I'm here because I am such a hard man, but clearly it is like riding with one lung and therefore you can reasonably expect me to be at the back of the pack and if I am front of you it is just more proof of what a hard man I really am." Last week, though, I really was sick so that I not only had that nasal sound, but my chest felt tight and I was prone to intermittent coughing fits that forced me to the side of the road. It hasn't made riding any easier, but then again, we don't do this because it's fun, right? Wait. What? Anyway, I digress.

The point to this is that the early season can be a sloppy, cold, miserable time of year to ride, or it can be decent outside and just sloppy, cold and miserable in your head. The important thing is knowing when it is better to just get on with the riding and when it is better to rest and recover so that you don't make yourself sicker and miss more training as a result.

So remember this simple rule: If you are sick above the neck, go ahead and train. If you are sick below the neck, recover and wait on your training. If you are sick only in the neck, get advice from Dr. Spalm. In the meantime, move your saddle 4 millimeters in some direction and save your banana for after the ride.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GU Cycling

In Spokane we have a few racing teams, like Baddlands and Emde Sports, and a few shop supported teams like Rocket Velo and Vertical Earth (not to mention Team Two Wheel), and we even have a godfather of bike blogging in John Speare, but we only have one collegiate cycling team - the Gonzaga University Cycling Club.

They are a group of GU students who like to ride their bikes, who ride mountain bikes and who race in the collegiate series. As you can imagine, even when you are used to living like a college student (oh look! half racks and top ramen on sale!), it still takes a fair amount of cabbage to get a bunch of racers around the Pacific Northwest to a bunch of races. These folks race in a series with these colleges: Central Washington University, Gonzaga University, Montana State University, Portland State University, Oregon State University, University of Idaho, University of Montana, University of Oregon, University of Washington, Walla Walla College, Washington State University, Western Washington University, and Whitman College. That means that most of the time they have quite a drive, vehicle expenses, food and lodging expenses and race fees all to consider.

So, to support their efforts they have solicited sponsorships and are selling t-shirts on campus and online here: The t-shirts are very cool and it is only $15 to get one shipped to you.

Check out their website here, Gonzaga University Cycling Club, and then go HERE and buy a t-shirt to support these student-racers.

Shop Rides

Last year Team Two Wheel hosted one Shop Ride. We left from Two Wheel Transit at about 5.30 pm and did the 7-Mile Bridge/Riverside State Park loop. We had about a dozen people and had a good time. For a variety of reasons, we didn't end up getting another ride together, but we are back from the dead and bigger than ever. So here is the tentative schedule for Shop Rides in 2010: Thursday, April 1; Thursday, May 6; Thursday, June 3; Thursday, July 1; Thursday, August 5; and Thursday, September 2. Do you see a pattern here? Yes, yes. I used the Fibonacci sequence.

No, I didn't.

We are going to have Shop Rides on the First Thursday of each month until September.

Here is the overview. This is a casual pace, no-drop ride. There is no sign-up, no fee, no waiver and no responsibility. As in, neither Team Two Wheel nor Two Wheel Transit are responsible for accidents, injuries, death or maiming, but we will help with flat tires. It is an open road ride. It is not a race and it is not a ride for someone who has never been on a bike, but for people who would enjoy taking a group ride and are capable of getting around the course on their own power.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the shop or drop us a line. Get these dates on your calendar, get your bike tuned-up and ready if you haven't been riding and we will see you in a month.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ready to Race

The race season has started for the Pros. You have to throw out the Tour Down Under simply because it is in January and their water goes down the drain the wrong way. We have to have standards, right? And you have to discount those oil-sponsored desert races. They make office park crits look picturesque. We have to have standards, right?

Well this weekend we got the first of the "real" races with Het Volk (please, I am not going to call it by its new name until is has been 25-50 years) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. These are real races run in the face of rain, snow, hellish winds and misery.

Just around the corner here in Spokane our race season is about to begin also. The season kicks off with the Frozen Flatlands race. It is too long, too cold and has a miserable wall-style climb that separates me from the pack, but I will be there proudly supporting Team Two Wheel in my slightly slow but spirited manner. The omnium this year involves a 12-mile time trial, a 47-mile road race/misery-fest on the same day (what?) and in a change from the circuit race of prior years a 24.5 mile road race using the "old" finish line after a series of rollers. Should be interesting and painful.

So, how do you know if you are ready to race? I suppose that is in an individual question. I know I am ready when I can follow Quicksilver for an hour or two without wanting to throw up or curse him for failing to ever, ever notice he has a small chainring. Alternatively, I know I am ready to race when I can converse with Rider 1 on a ride and the conversation doesn't center on "my legs are shot", "my tank is empty", "I am sick", "I am hungover" or finally, "please, please make it stop".

Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong has a different way of knowing he is ready to ride. Here is a picture from a new Lance Armstrong book, the caption for which is, "You can see here I wasn't yet serious about cycling: I still have hairy legs."

From Misc Bike Pics

Here is another picture from about eight months later. The caption reads, "It was a day or two before the start [of the Tour] . . . Clearly those legs were ready to race."

From Misc Bike Pics

Um, yeah. He looks ready to ride. And no, Tom, we didn't mix up a picture of your calves with Lance's.

Quicksilver Rides Again

Quicksilver here. We are riding and blogging again. Well, I'm riding, like I usually do. Rider 3 is better at pushing on his keyboard than on his pedals, so I guess we will stick to our relative strengths.

New Vibe at Two Wheel

Because we are just getting rolling again, I will take the liberty of reproducing some information from the new Two Wheel Transit website. I think it tells the story reasonably well. Two Wheel Transit has been around a long time; I have personally been spending my money there for over 20 years. That reminds me of a funny story involving money, bikes and my wife, but I think I will save that for another day.

In any case, the shop has a lot of the same stuff about it, great guys doing great service work and selling great stuff. It also has some new stuff that Geoff and Bruce have brought along, like a cleaner, more organized look and feel to the showroom and a real enthusiasm for supporting the cycling community in Spokane.

Whether you are a long-time customer, a been-shopping-elsewhere-but-should-give-it-a-try-again customer (like you, Ken), or never darkened the doorway before, stop in and say hey to Geoff, Tomas or Dave. You can't say hello to the guys in the basement as easily, but Tom and Willy are down there (in what I have heard is a remarkably cleaned-up and well-lit shop area) turning out the pro work they always have.

I will let them tell their story though. Here is the new Two Wheel Transit as explained on the website:

Focus on Trek brands, a bike fitting physician and excellent customer service are all keys for success of Two Wheel Transit.

Geoff Forshag, CPA and Bruce Abbotts, M.D., have purchased the assets of long-time Trek Bicycle dealer Two Wheel Transit, Inc., which is located in downtown Spokane at 1405 W 1st Avenue. The store will continue under the name Two Wheel Transit and focus on Trek and Gary Fisher bicycles, and Bontrager clothing, parts and accessories. Fisher and Bontrager brands are both a part of Trek. The business also provides full service bicycle repairs and maintenance and welcomes all bikes regardless of brand or type.

Mr. Forshag and Dr. Abbotts are both avid cyclists and excited about the opportunity the store, Trek, Fisher and Bontrager lines represent. “We chose to keep the three existing lines for the quality, selection and customer service of these product lines. When you decide to represent one company, you need to choose the leader in the industry – which is Trek in this case.” according to Forshag. Trek and Fisher combined have over 100 models of bikes to choose from starting with a selection of kids bikes, comfort and commuting bikes, all the way up to custom Trek road bikes through Project One. Trek is a pioneer in designing products specifically for the needs of women cyclists with Women Specific Design or WSD.

Mr. Forshag will act as general manager and oversee the sales and operations of the store and has a few changes in mind for a better customer experience. One planned change is involves creating a dedicated bicycle fitting studio. Forshag stresses that proper bike fitting is one of the keys to the success of the store since it is an area where mass retailers are often lacking. “You are pretty much on your own when you roll your new bike out of a big box store, but if it isn't properly adjusted to fit the riding style, fitness level and other characteristics of the rider, the buyer will never be completely satisfied with the bike. We include this service with all of our bike purchases.”

Dr. Abbotts is a pediatrician at Valley Young Peoples Clinic and will focus on performing bike fitting sessions for customers in the studio. “We want to be known as the store that is easy to deal with and listens to the needs of our customers” says Abbotts. “This means learning about any physical limitations or issues and observing the riding position and pedal stroke of each rider. After this diagnosis, we begin making small adjustments to correct specific issues. Sometimes moving the bars or saddle a few millimeters can make the all the difference in riding comfort.”

The co-owners of Two Wheel Transit also stress community involvement as part of the store's mission. “Our community sponsors some great events like Bike to Work Week and Spokefest – supporting these and other venues which advance cycling in Spokane is part of our identity” adds Abbotts.

Two Wheel Transit is a locally owned dealer of Trek, Gary Fisher and Bontrager bikes, parts and accessories and provides repair service on all brands.. The store is located at 1405 W. 1st Avenue and open 10 – 6, Monday through Friday and 10 – 5 on Saturdays.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Yes, Team Two Wheel lives again.

Pick your graphic.

From Misc Bike Pics

From Misc Bike Pics

In any case, Rider 1, Rider 2 and Rider 3 are back in your service and pleased to be flying the Team Two Wheel banner again. Well, we don't actually fly any banners on our bikes because that would cause them to go slower, but you get the idea.

In the coming days we will have information about the shop, its new owners and some plans for the upcoming season. In the meantime, you can check out the redesign of the Two Wheel Transit website, re-bookmark this site and check back for the ramblings of Team Two Wheel and the return of Dr. Spalm.
Rider 3