Monday, June 28, 2010

Shop Ride! Shop Ride! Shop Ride!

Longtime readers know the drill - First Thursday of the month, which happens to be this Thursday, July 1, shop ride from Two Wheel Transit at 5.30 pm. We will riding a mellow pace to Aubrey L. White Parkway to Seven Mile Bridge and back along the Riverside State Park side. It's around 20 miles and we will be riding a recovery pace with a no-drop rule.

We tested the limits of the no-drop rule last ride when one of the Shop Owners, who shall remain nameless, ended up as the last rider, but true to our word, we made sure he safely made it back to the stables. We will accord you no lesser treatment, you have my solemn and anonymous guarantee.

Weather should be perfect and you know you want to be there, so come on out and enjoy the camaraderie of a congenial group riding on our beautiful and lightly trafficked roads.

A quick word from our sponsor - this is an open road ride. You are responsible for obeying the rules of the road, not to mention being safe and sane. We haven't had even a flat yet on our rides, so let's keep it that way.

See you on Thursday at 5.30 pm!
Rider Three

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ride of the Week: Fish Lake & Betz Road

Introduction to this series:
During our last shop ride, I ended up having or overhearing three conversations that were all some version of asking about good rides in the area.

On one hand, this amazes me, because Spokane is rife with some of the best, and most diverse, road and mountain bike riding I've experienced. We have relatively little traffic, roads that are generally in good condition, and terrain ranging from pancake flat to Mt. Spokane and its 15 miles uphill fun.

On the other hand, many of us are creatures of habit. We find (in this case) a ride we like, and end up repeating it ad naseum.

So the requests for new rides combined with the big fun of riding with a Garmin Edge 500 have prompted me to post some of my go-to rides. Initially I'll focus on rides in the two-hour range, mostly because my proverbial plate has been full lately, and that's all I've had time for (when I've been lucky). No promises though ... some will be longer or shorter than this.

Up first is a ride through the west plains, including the Fish Lake Trail and Betz Road. This is ride is flat for the most part, but with a couple of sections of rolling hills There are a ton of variations on this ride--ranging from riding in the reverse direction, to skipping the Greenwood Road section, to including Thorpe Road, etc.

The Spokane arm of the Fish Lake Trail opened this past fall. It's a rails-to-trails project, which if you're not familiar with the term means that an old railroad bed has been paved, providing a beautiful trail that's closed to traffic. You'll notice this on the map, but it starts behind the church at the intersection of Government Way and Sunset Boulevard, about a mile from Spokane's downtown core.

A typical morning on the traffic-free Fish Lake Trail

Depending on your preference for climbing, the upside or downside of these trails is how flat they are. Trains can't go up steep hills, so maximum grade is something like 3%, which is a very, very mellow pitch. One of the best parts of Fish Lake is the shade it provides in the summer months. The combination of cooler temperatures, no traffic and perfect pavement make Fish Lake a great option to get to Cheney and its fun network of roads. The downside? On occasion, like late-morning on the weekend, parts of the trail will be busy with runners, dog-walkers, etc.

A subtle reminder that it's a good idea to keep your head up when riding.

In any case, from the trailhead it's about five miles to the first section of road that's open to traffic (Cheney-Spokane Road). But you're only on this for about two miles, when you pick back up the Fish Lake Trail, which drops you off less than a mile from Cheney, on Cheney-Spangle Road. Hang a right toward downtown. Then make a right on Main Street until you head left on Betz Road.

Downtown Cheney. Look! A pick-up truck!

If you're looking at the Garmin map, ignore the spaghetti-route in Cheney. I took a bit of a detour to check out a neighborhood I'd never been through.

Anyway, stay on Betz Road until you hit...Betz Road, where you take a right onto what's my vote for one of the nicest roads in the region. It's lumpy--rolling hills with beautiful farmland.

Betz: A seriously nice stretch of asphalt.

Years ago, I lived in Boulder, Colorado. At one point, some friends and I came across a relatively short, but nevertheless incredible section of singletrack, which we promptly named after a friend's girlfriend. Her name was Stephanie Swain. Stephanie was more handsome than average, and in Boulder that's especially impressive.

Although we were post college-aged, our maturity levels were still mired in the eighth grade. So we immediately re-named Stephanie Swain, and later on an infamous stretch of singletrack, as Stiffenmy Schwang.

Anyway, to me, Betz is the Stiffenmy Schwang of roads. Although short, it really is fantastic.

From Betz you climb up, then drop down to the Four Lakes area, then further down to Spokane. There are a few variations here, and I've suggested one on the GPS info I've posted.

I'll often add on a few extra miles, and one ripping-fast descent down Greenwood Road. You can easily skip this, but Greenwood does add a bit of fun and a fantastic view of the city.

Earlier in this post I mentioned that Spokane has relatively little traffic. To underline this, on the Sunday morning I did this ride, a grand total of 12 cars passed me. For a 40 mile ride I think that's pretty impressive.


And now, for a highly unscientific set of ratings:

Ride: Fish Lake & Betz Road
Lumpiness Rating: 2/5
Traffic: 1/5
Things I've seen on this ride: The blue heron that live along Fish Lake; a red-tailed hawk stealing eggs from some smaller birds, moose, coyote, old farm buildings, a roller-skier in a Speedo. And of course a bull snake.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

1 - Who is ready for warm, dry weather? Remember when we used to talk about how much our bikes weighed and not the wet weather traction of our tires? How about bottom bracket stiffness instead of fender types?

2 - Tour de Suisse - Armstrong is showing his age in the TT, but still strong and looking great in the mountains. Should be an interesting tour matching up the Killing Machine with the young turks. I know who has the mental edge.

3 - Non-cyclists love the "motorized doping" story.

4 - Will the World Cup swamp the Tour de France coverage? Even I am getting soccer fever. My son is very happy.

5 - Bike Hang? Way fun.

6 - Next time a buddy says they don't like to take their road bike down a gravel road, tell them about this video:

7 - Wet Weather Commuting - Rode my bike today violating my "don't start a ride in the rain" rule. Not bad, but honestly it was because I trusted the TV weather report that said it would be dry by 5 pm for my ride home. What a silly bastard I am for trusting anything on the tv-infotainment-psuedo-news-Murrow-is-spinning-in-his-grave broadcast.
Rider Three

Friday, June 18, 2010

Say What?

Casino city bans riding bikes through town


DENVER — The gambling town of Black Hawk has prohibited touring bicyclists from pedaling while in town, becoming what's thought by cycling advocates to be the only city in the nation with such a restriction.

Bicycle advocacy groups are gearing up to challenge the law, which they say is illegal.

"The danger here is the precedent," Dan Grunig of Bicycle Colorado, an advocacy group, said Thursday. "We don't believe it's right or legal and we want to make sure it's addressed before it's spread any further."

Black Hawk began enforcing its ordinance and issuing $68 tickets on June 5, five months after it passed the law requiring bicyclists to dismount and walk their two-wheelers through the town of about 100 residents. Black Hawk City Manager Michael Copp said eight citations have been issued so far.

"At this point the council has no intention of repealing the ban," Copp said. "They believe their actions are what's best for it's citizens in Black Hawk, which are casinos and their patrons."

Copp, who said he's not a bicyclist, said the council passed the ordinance after the town experienced a surge in traffic — buses, delivery trucks, and motorists — that followed a law that increased the maximum gambling betting limits from $5 to $100. Copp said there were no accidents that prompted the ordinance, just concern over conflicts between motor vehicles and bicycles on streets built in the 1800s that were designed for horses and carriages.

Black Hawk's ban comes around the time a report commissioned by Congress found an upward trend in people walking and bicycling for transportation. The federal government last year earmarked $1.2 billion to help communities become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, according to the recently released report titled Assessing National Trends in Bicycling and Walking. The report also found that 11.9 percent of all reported trips were taken by foot or bicycle, up from 7.9 percent 20 years ago.

Charlie Zegeer, Director of the U.S. Department of Transportation-funded Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center at the University of North Carolina, said communities concerned about safety provide alternate routes. Cities in Europe that were built centuries ago have also made accommodations, Zegeer said.

"It's a matter of priorities," he said.

An outright ban on being able to ride a bicycle through a community is unheard of in any other community in the country, Zegeer said.

Black Hawk's bicycle ban only applies to the narrow thoroughfares in town that are lined with historic buildings and newly built casinos, not the few residential streets. Bicyclists riding in on Colorado 279, a main route through the city, would have to dismount and walk about a quarter mile, Copp said.

Grunig's group, which claims 7,000 members statewide, has appealed to national groups to help.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best cycling video ever???

This might just be the best cycling video ever to make it onto the information superhighway.

It's got it all.

TT bikes? Check.
Euro-fantastic soundtrack? Definitely.
An awesome display of speed and grace? Oh, I think so!
A close-up view of Marco Posonni's butt? Indeed.
Some guy in a yellow car that throws a waterbottle at Bradley Wiggins, causing a priceless reaction? Yep, it's got that too.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Misleading Headlines

I am planning to "drop", in the way that hip-hop artists "drop" their new album, a post on my Gary Fisher Superfly very soon. The synopsis is that this is a super-awesome 29er that makes me giddy like a school girl. As are result, I was surprised to see this headline from the Bike Europe website,
which is an industry website that spends most of its time touting electric bikes (is Fabian Cancellara their spokesman? I kid.). Anyway, after seeing the headline I was slightly alarmed, but after reading the article, it sounds to me as if nothing much is really changing since Gary Fisher bikes are already carried in a lot of Trek shops anyway. Personally, I think that Trek just got jealous of how great the GF 29ers were while they continued to focus on those small wheel mountain bikes that are becoming quickly passe.
Rider Three

Trek Drops Gary Fisher Brand

MILWAUKEE, US – Trek announces a dramatic change in its brand strategy. As off immediately the icon brand Gary Fisher will disappear from the bike shops. The reason for this change is that the brand Gary Fisher is no longer profitable. According to Trek the volume of this high end segment is too small related to the costs of development, marketing and warranty.

The decision to drop the Gary Fisher brand is motivated by the dealers call for Trek 29-inch and Dual Sports models. Trek did not want to put engineers, product managers and designers for both brands parallel on 29-inch and Dual Sports projects.

The name Gary Fisher will not disappear from the market completely. The Gary Fisher Collection will be sold under the Trek brand and exclusively through Trek dealers worldwide. According to Trek, this new brand strategy is beneficial in terms of consumer exposure, availability through far more dealers than just the Gary Fisher dealers and larger marketing budgets.

The Trek - Gary Fisher Collection will feature a different look and graphic feel than the Trek mainline range. Trek will also differentiate both ranges in functionality. Gary Fisher is no longer the spokesman of just one brand, but has become the spokesman of the whole company.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Simulating Race Conditions

A couple of weeks ago while I was looking for bike racing on TV, I ran across a show produced by the Discovery Channel which picked two "average" cyclists to take to France to ride a mountain stage of the Tour de France. I missed the beginning of the show, but was compelled to watch the 50 or so minutes of the hour long broadcast.

Why did I feel compelled to watch? Because I have a sickness. You see, I became a cycling fan when there was no coverage of bike racing on television or media. You'll notice I didn't say "mainstream" media, because when I became a cycling fan, there was nothing that wasn't mainstream media. Basically we got our sports from Wide World of Sports or the newspaper. There was no internet and there were times when literally days or weeks would go by after the last stage of the Tour de France before I could find out who won. That seems unbelievable, doesn't it? But it was true. Let me tell you about the way we kept our food cold by putting ice in a box over the food, but if the river didn't freeze hard enough we would run out of ice late in the summer. But I digress.

So Discovery Channel picks these two guys, and in the weeks ahead of their Tour stage ride sends them to Trek for new Madones, sends them to Colorado for testing with Chris Carmichael, sends them to Spain to ride in the mountains with pseudo-pro Tom Danielson and his pro-rider wife, and then for dinner and a ride with Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie, all in preparation for them to ride one of the very tough mountain stages.

Putting aside my jealously that two schlubs who don't know jack about cycling and took up the sport in the last few years are treated to this extravaganza, one thing stuck out as the most extraordinary thing in the whole program. One of these guys lived in Washington DC and commuted to work on his bike. The cameras followed him riding along a few sidewalks and trails on the way to work. He did not appear to ride on any "open" roads or places without stoplights, trail intersections and scads of pedestrians. Also, you should know that this guy was not small, as in, even I at my sizable girth would come in at a smaller waist size. He was also not an experienced cyclist, so I guess I should give him some slack, but then again, he did say one of the dumbest things I have ever heard on television about cycling - and keep in mind that I have heard cycling commentary from Al Trautwig, Craig Hummer and John Eustice hyperventilating so much he should pass out.

So, as he is describing his "training", which consists of him riding trails to work in Washington, DC, he said, and this is a very close quote, "I try to simulate race conditions whenever I can."

I would like for anyone who races to consider that for just a moment. In fact, I will repeat it and when you read it again, I would like for you to think about riding a loop on a sunny Saturday that consists of the Centennial Trail that starts at the Big Red Wagon and goes to the Rotary Fountain before looping back while you think about this, "I try to simulate race conditions whenever I can."

You know, when I am sitting in a parking lot with my car idling, I try to pretend that I am winning the frickin Firecracker 500, so I guess someone should give me a NASCAR race vehicle and a firesuit, eh? Can someone who has never raced a bicycle, and frankly appears to have NEVER RIDDEN IN A GROUP have any idea what "race conditions" are like? Seriously? I get that grade school kids pretend that buzzer is going off as they take a shot at the hoop, but does any adult who has never played in a basketball game go onto television standing at the free throw line at the neighborhood park and say, "I try to simulate the pressure of the playoffs"?! Could you have a little respect for what is involved in a local training race, much less at the Tour de frickin France where the best riders in the world work for years and years to just get to the start line and then pretend that you can simulate that on the greenbelt between stop lights and kids in strollers!

"We get no respect, I tell ya," quote from Rodney "Rider Three" Dangerfield.

Even professional bike racers will tell you that one of the reasons they race earlier in the season than their main objectives is that nothing duplicates the intensity or difficulty of racing, EXCEPT RACING.

Look, I know this guy was new to cycling, so his ignorance should be forgivable, but still, have a little respect. How about "I try to go hard", "I try to go as fast as I can," or even, "I try to ride with as much intensity as a racer," but not, "I try to simulate race conditions whenever I can" when you have no idea what a race condition is.

By the way, one guy made it over all of the mountains in the replicated Tour stage. One didn't. I guess he will have a little more understanding of the terrain at least, but I don't think you can understand what race conditions are like until you have done it at some level.

I think I need to take a few deep breaths before I start sounding like John Eustice.
Rider Three

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mt. Spokane

Another ride report and then something different. The Leadville 100 is coming up for me. I have a few theories about what I did wrong when I trained for it in 2007 and didn't finish, so I am doing some different things this year. One of those things in doing more mountain biking and trying to do more climbing.

(Re-reading those last two sentences just made me think - seriously?! What the hell did I do for training if a mountainous mountain bike race didn't involve climbing and mountain bikes?! Hold on, I will get to that later, but I did have a plan; just not one that worked.)

To serve this training idea, this Sunday I took my just-getting-broken-in Gary Fisher Superfly to the intersection of Forker Road and Mt. Spokane Park Drive and started pedaling it. For anyone familiar with the ride or drive, you will know this triangular intersection of roads. To me, it is the start of the climb, although I know some people start farther away and some further up the road. From this point, it is (according to Google maps) 15.6 miles to the very top of Mt. Spokane. This is a tough climb and I think as long and hard as anything within a day of Spokane. If not, I would appreciate hearing from others as to what is longer or tougher.

Sunday was a nice day, with the temperature hitting the upper 70's in the area. I saw pictures from a Mt. Spokane ride a couple of weeks ago where some riders ran into snow, but I can tell you definitively that while there is still a little bit of snow along the edges of the road, there is no snow on the road at all. As it always is, it was cooler at the top of the climb and, as it almost always is, windy. The last time I did this ride, it was in early October and the wind at the top was in the category of too cold, worry about hypothermia wind/temperature while wearing wet clothes. On Sunday, it was pleasantly bracing. It also encouraged me to get back on my bike and ride back down.

Speaking of up and down, riding my mountain bike, it took me 2 hours, 10 minutes to make it the 15.6 miles from my car to the antennas on top. This is a slow 7.2 mph avg, but decidedly faster than the trip up in October. The trip down was just a touch over 30 minutes back to my car and that was with a strong headwind most of the way, including all of the flatter stuff near the bottom. In other words, it is fast downhill.

There isn't a lot to say about a ride like this. Doing it by myself I mostly just steadily pedaled my bike and wiped sweat off my brow to keep it from running into my eyes. Not much interaction with the world, nothing too interesting (although I was offered a roadside beer about 5 miles in, which I passed up), just the slow grind of going uphill for a very long time. In fact, I noted on my watch that other than the first couple of miles, I was 1 hour 45 minutes into the ride before I hit the first area where I could coast. That is a long time pushing on the pedals largely without respite. My undercarriage made note of it more than once.

For close followers of this blog, you will not that this is the third weekend of tough rides: almost 8 hours at the 24 Hour Race; 7 hours at the Mad Dash; and then Mt. Spokane. This past week I also fit in a few days of commuting with the "long route" home which involves climbing Greenwood, Indian Canyon Road and then Cedar, and on Saturday I did most, but not all, of a very vigorous MR run, so I am feeling pleasantly toasted as I sit here Sunday evening with a beer and this blog. Next week is a rest week and then another push for Leadville. More to come.
Rider Three

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mad Dash 8 Hour Race

On Saturday, May 29 I rode/raced just short of 8 hours at Riverside State Park at the 24 Hour Race. For some inexplicable reason, a week later on Sunday, June 6 I decided to ride the Mad Dash 8 Hour Race, solo category. The term "a glutton for punishment" comes to mind. Also, WTF? comes to mind. I can and should blame combination mountain biker and lawyer DD, but I have to admit he didn't have a gun to my head, just the repeated and subtle suggestion that it would help me get ready for riding the Leadville 100.

In the intervening week between the 24 Hour Race and the Mad Dash, due to weather and work, the only riding I did was the Team Two Wheel Shop Ride. Admittedly that was an easy pace, but I felt fine and did not have any particular sensation in my legs that made me think that pushing pedals was a bad idea. Instead, I waited until the 15 minutes before the Mad Dash to have those feelings.

The Mad Dash race has 4 hour and 8 hour categories, as well as solo and team categories. The race is held in Farragut State Park, which is about halfway between Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho. It is part of "Adventure Week" which includes a bunch of adventure races and mixed sport events. I usually abide by the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" rule, but I will mention a couple of things. The course and ride information on-line could be a lot better. I was looking for distance and elevation information, along with a map or profile. There was a map, but it didn't show the direction or much else information. Also, when you are speaking to a group of bikers heading off for 4-8 hours of riding it is not that pleasant to say something along the lines of "if you get off the course, it is your own damn fault and if you get killed crossing the highway it is your own damn fault and you all signed the death waiver, right?" So, anyway.

The race started at 8 am and was scheduled to end at 4 pm, or whenever you finished your last lap after 4 pm. The race started in the boat launch area so that we had a paved uphill climb to spread people out a bit before we hit the trails. The uphill on the road, which lasted about 3-4 minutes, went well for me. After that we hit trails larger than single track but not a road, and went uphill for another few minutes before leveling off at the elevation of the main road. This also went well for me. It was just after that, about 10 minutes into the ride that I realized that I was tired and my legs were a bit dead feeling. I knew that Combo Rider/Lawyer DD was just behind me so I waited, thinking that I could draft him a bit, learn the course and get into a reasonable pace for the lap.

Good idea, no execution from the legs.

Instead, I drafted DD for 90 seconds and then watched him ride away, the last time I would see him until we were standing at the finish line. At the time I thought to myself, "well, you haven't recovered completely from last Saturday, so take it easy and you will warm up and warm to the task at hand."

Good idea, no execution from the legs.

My first lap of the 7.5 mile course wasn't tragically slow, but it was a bit slow and a bit cautious. I had never ridden in Farragut State Park and despite the excellent course information and terrain knowledge provided by veteran park rider and nearby resident Jeanna Hofmeister, I wanted to get the feel of the place before I pushed too hard. This turned out to be a reasonable idea since one harmless and flat corner led straight to a ramp across a ditch, another lead to a very steep and large, round rock strewn descent, one entry to single track led to a sudden switchback and, as with any mountain bike course, there were a few surprises around the course.

I will take this brief intermission to say that Farragut State Park and Bayview are incredibly pretty areas. The hills rise straight up out of the water and the views are much more dramatic than most of the rest of Coeur d'Alene or Pend O'Reille lakes. The mountain biking is also good and less traveled than Riverside State Park. The trails are a bit less hard-packed, there are more long sections of single-track and there are fewer rock-garden sections. All in all, I was very happy to have the chance to check out the park and terrain. I sense a family camping trip this summer.

Anyway, back to the race. At the end of the second lap, which I'm reasonably sure was the fastest of the day up to this point, I got a flat. I got my flat in a deeply wooded part of the course that had a bunch of small tree roots and some rocks. It was the most technical part of the course, but the thing that interested me is that I am fairly sure our racing uncovered a buried hydroponic line. Didn't take the time to figure out if that was it for sure, or where it went, but every lap I looked for it and was intrigued at what it meant.

But enough about the course. What about my flat? Well, it was a all-air-gone-in-sixty-seconds flat. Or more like 5 seconds actually. And, metaphorically speaking, it was also the moment of my racing day deflating. Oh, I kept riding for another 5 1/2 hours, but no more racing. I was just tired. I had the legs and/or energy to keep pedaling, just not fast. My gut bothered me from the time I woke up and it didn't really get better until the next day, so it wasn't just nutrition being wrong since it started well before the race. So combining tired legs and a iffy gut, it wasn't a great day.

I was still moving along around noon when the rain started. It sprinkled for a while and then it started to rain in a serious fashion. Thankfully the temperature was not too low, but it did make the course quite tricky. When I am "racing" I don't mind charging through puddles and what not - the point is to go fast, right? But I was already miserably slow, so it seemed pointless to just get that much muddier and wetter to save two minutes on incredibly slow laps anyway. And, the mud at Farragut Park is specially designed to be the slickest damn mud I have ever encountered. My tire selection and pressure didn't help, but others I talked to agreed that the course just got harder and harder to ride because of the mud.

So, as I approached the start/finish area at 3 pm, having ridden 8 laps (59 miles +/-) in 7 hours (8.5 mph avg overall), I crossed the line and told the timer that I was done for the day. Interestingly, as I stood there talking about 5' from the finish line, it stopped raining. Don't worry, though, it wasn't enough to get me to start up again. I chatted with a couple of people and figured that DD would finishing a lap up on me soon, so I was going to cheer him on to his last lap, but instead he decided to call it a day also. I think it helped that he knew he was a lap ahead of me.

I didn't stay around for the awards after the race and instead headed home. That was my mistake, however, as I was surprised to learn later that I had placed 3rd in my age division. Funny, I thought there only two of us who started. No, I actually don't know how many started, but I strongly suspect it was three and if it was more than three, the only reason I got third is that I rode another lap or two in the rain while all of the sensible people got off the course and headed home. DD was nice enough to get my medal and mail it to me, so I am sitting here gazing at it and thinking that it is the least well-deserved prize since Floyd Landis stopped racing.

To sum up - Farragut State Park - Cool place to ride; Adventure Week Organization - Still needs improvement of logistics and attitude; My own race assessment - Too soon after my last 8 hour effort and not trained to do that; Third place medal - Woo Hoo!
Rider Three

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Team Two Wheel Shop Ride

As spring follows winter, so dawn follows night. As the first Thursday of the month appears, so follows a Team Two Wheel Shop Ride. Maybe that isn't poetic, but it is true, which is more than you can say about a lot of what gets included in this blog.

Speaking of which, I did a post about mechanized doping. I watched the video a couple of times and I think the device is clever. I don't, however, really think that Cancellara used a motor, except his own. I watched both of those races and what Cancellara did was very tough, but in keeping with his prior known strength and his relative strength compared to his competitors. Having raced, there just are times when one guy rides away or when your own motor seems to just run out of gas, metaphorically speaking only, and a person or group jets away. I agree the video makes it seem suspicious, but I think we also have to take into account the various nationalities and the way they interact. When this video came out, a number of very high-level Italians were facing doping charges. I hate to be cynical, but throwing out this accusation took the spotlight off of them and started a whole new scandal. Now if only Cancellara was spotted with Lindsay Lohan, the whole world would pay attention.

Anyway, on to the Shop Ride. The week of the shop ride we had a bunch of rain and we seriously considered canceling the ride thinking that people wouldn't be focused on riding and the weather might turn against us. Cooler heads prevailed and we kept the date. Good for us, because it was one of the nicest weekdays to ride that week.

From Rides

We had about 25 people come out for this ride, including appearances by Riders One, Two and Three. Just like when identical twins sleep with their sibling's girlfriends, we all agreed ahead of time to pretend that we were riders other than we really are. We don't want to give up our secrets too soon and as the primary writer of the group, I don't want to be swarmed by autograph hounds at every turn, so this seemed easier.

We had an eclectic mix of riders in our group, including a couple of racers, a couple of near racers, a couple of "Moms in Motion" (as evidenced by their gear), a couple of people new to group rides and others somewhat new to cycling. We had a bit of slinky approach to this ride, where we would stretch out and then contract again. Don't worry though, we didn't try it on the stairs the way I like to with my own slinky (it's Campagnolo). We did the Seven Mile Bridge loop, starting at Two Wheel, heading down Riverside to Government Way, then through the park to the bridge and back up the other side of the river. This route does mean that Doomsday Hill is included, and I heard a couple of comments about that, but everyone did really well just plugging away and getting up the hill. Including me.

I forgot about Broadway being torn up, but we had a bit of cyclocross style adventure through the dirt, but I was actually a bit behind the group at that point and don't know whether they went around on the detour or plowed through the way I did with my companion.

The weather was very cooperative and, I think I can say fairly, everyone had a great time. And, as promised, but still nice to see, when we rounded the last corner, there was the David's Pizza truck set up and waiting to serve us some hot pies.

From Rides

Apparently this was a bit too much excitement for Geoff, one of the owners of Two Wheel, because in his high state of joy and agitation, he dumped 2/3 of a fresh, piping hot pizza onto the sidewalk. It was a pity to see something of such clear and remarkable beauty destroyed so quickly; the way you would feel standing in an art museum when a psychopathic idiot with a knife hacked a section out of your favorite Monet. Oh, you don't have a favorite Monet? How about Manet? Picasso? Singer Sargent? Oh fine, the Mona Lisa, but I was trying to avoid trite art cliches. Also, just to clarify, in comparing Geoff's act to that of a psychopathic idiot, I mean no disrespect nor do I intend to suggest that Geoff is either psychopathic, idiotic, telepathic or even photogenic; I'm just saying it was shocking. Mark Starr, the owner and chief pizza twirler at David's Pizza, was un-nonplussed by this and just calmly jumped in to make another pie. In fact, he cranked out a plethora of pizza and the crowd proceeded with enthusiastic mastication and satisfaction. In fact, as a crazy lady I once knew said, "my sufficiency has been suffonsified," or more accurately "our" sufficiency had been suffonsified. In other words, we were full of pizza.

And thus ended our Team Two Wheel ride. We rode for about 90 minutes and ate pizza. What more could you ask for in a shop ride?

From Rides

Speaking of the bike shop itself, the crew at Team Two Wheel was very well represented at our ride with owners Geoff and Bruce, and shop dudes Dave and Tomas, all riding along, while shop wrench (and damn fast rider) Tom stayed behind to keep the home fires burning and then get David's Pizza oven fires burning. They must have had fun though, because they are talking about doing a weekly ride or some other shop ride. If you are interested, leave a comment here or let they guys at Two Wheel Transit know what you would be interested in doing. They are there to serve and are looking for ways to support our collective ride needs.
Rider Three

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

24 Hour Race

A few blog-worthy things have happened since my last post. I rode part of the 24 Hour Race, we had a Team Two Wheel Shop Ride and I rode the Mad Dash 8 Hour race. Two of these things also involved my new bike, a Gary Fisher Superfly. And despite all of this, I was not once accused of motorized doping. I guess I need to work on that.

So, without further ado (ado being a naturally occurring substance which I am too polite to discuss in this blog), here are some of these tales of these events in chronological order.

24 Hour Race

It was a cold and dark morning, with wind whipped clouds on the horizon . . . Not, actually, it wasn't. The 24 Hour Race, put on by the incomparable Wendy Bailey and Gino Liesicki (and lots of volunteers and helpers), is a mountain bike race held in Riverside State Park and which runs from noon Saturday until noon Sunday on Memorial Day weekend every year. This is the 11th year of the event, although I would have guessed it was 20 or more. This race can be done Solo, Single Speed Solo, or on teams of various sizes ranging from two to ten. This event has continued to grow and it attracts several hundred people who participate, volunteer and otherwise camp and hang out around the race course area starting on Friday before the race. All in all, it is a great event and any organizer who wants to understand how things should run should take the time to check out this event, from course set-up and marking (clear, obvious and safe), logistics and support (excellent) to food (all provided by Mark Starr and the David's Pizza Emergency Support Vehicle) This race is a lot of fun.

This is my second time participating, the first was in 2007. The same thing precipitated my involvement both times: Leadville 100. A subject for another time, but the point is that I am "training" for the Leadville 100 and it seemed in 2007 that riding/racing my mountain bike for many, many hours was a good idea. So, in 2007 I signed up for the solo division and rode from the start at noon until around 6 or 6.30 pm and then went home for the night and came back to ride two more laps in the morning prior to the Sunday noon cut-off. I had slightly more ambitious morning ride intentions, but it was my anniversary so breakfast with my wife of then 18 years seemed like a good idea.

So, this year when my Leadville 100 aspirations came up again, I thought a good long mountain bike race might be in order again. I recruited two stalwart souls to join me in our self-described "daylight division" and we once again set out with the pack at noon and rode until Wendy said we would have to have lights on in order to head back out. This year that meant stopping about 7.40 pm after 6 laps, or about 86 miles.

Lap 1 - This lap is the high-excitement-of-the-start lap, but also the lap with the g-damned Le Mans start, which means running "to" your bike the way car racers at Le Mans used to, except this involves an uphill out and back run. Now, I don't fault them for it, as it does a good job of separating the pack out so there isn't a crunch as people get out on the course, but damn it all, I ride a bike because I hate running, so starting out my bike race with my bike shoes and running 600 yards up and then down a hill is not my idea of entertainment. By the way, this is the only time I saw Stalwart Soul PK until after he had finished his 7th lap and we were all ready for a beer. The first lap is also the lap where everyone's adrenaline is pumping and the people on teams are laying tracks as fast as they can. It is hard when you are planning to do eight hours (and I can't imagine doing 24 hours) to just settle into your day-long pace and not get sucked into racing at their pace. This gets better as the day goes on because a couple of hours into the day I just didn't have what it would have taken to even try to keep up with some of the fast folks doing single laps at a time. Anyway, this lap went reasonably well and the results tell me that I was 2 min 45 sec behind PK and 1 min 20 sec behind PW, the other "Daylight Division" riders also training for Leadville. Since I lost this much time to them on the Le Mans start alone, this wasn't a bad beginning.

Lap 2 - This was the lap in which I had a flat. I have had a couple of pinch flats before and they tend to be quick deflation affairs. In this case, the air was slowly draining and I was able to make it back to the pit area before stopping. I did this because I had a spare tube and pump available and somehow it made sense to me. I lost more than 10 minutes on my comrades this lap, but not bad considering that I rode gingerly for the last part of the this lap and then changed my flat.

Lap 3 - The lap from hell. As I started up the hill that starts the 14.something mile course, I realized that I couldn't shift into the largest cog in the back (largest cog = smallest gear, does this make sense? Yes, but still). I attributed this to the banging through the prior lap's "rock garden" sections. By the way, I have had to switch to using the term "rock garden" exclusively as my wife objects to the term "baby heads" to describe the infant-noggin size rocks that inhabit portions of this trail. Anyway, new bike and cables that might still need adjusting, right, so I figured I would just drop down into the "granny gear" in the front (speaking of jargon, does anyone still use that term for the tiny chain-ring) and make due. While I rode this lap, however, I started feeling miserable. I was really dragging. I couldn't get up to speed on the flats, I was notably slower uphill and it all started to get to me mentally and physically. Also, my right knee started to get sore, which is not something that would normally bother me, even on a long, hard ride. About half way through the third lap I had mostly decided that I would just struggle through one more lap and call it day. I had started out with the goal of riding six laps (about 86 miles), but if four laps (57 miles) was all I could do, I needed to be realistic and re-think my fitness for Leadville.

The last section of this course has a fast downhill section and then flats, so I shifted into the smallest cog in back to take advantage of the speed and instead was greated with the chain dropping between the cog and the frame. Not good. Very kindly, Tom, the mechanic from Two Wheel Transit who had prep'd the bike for the race, told me that he would be racing that weekend and if I needed anything he told me where to look for him. Tom and his crew had cheered me on prior laps so I decided to stop by and was hoping that we was not out doing one of his incredibly fast laps and instead could help me get the bike shifting correctly.

Thankfully, Tom was sitting course-side and graciously offered to take a quick look at the bike. And, indeed, all it took was a quick look as he immediately noted that when I put the rear wheel back on after changing the flat, that I had done so without putting the part of the rear hub that fits into the drop-out on one side, so that it was sitting on the skewer on that side. This meant that it wouldn't shift correctly since the whole thing was pushed sideways. A few of you will have immediately tripped to the other issue. Yes, the rotor for the brake was also pushed sideways, so that it was firmly and solidly against the brake pad. Do you think this might have contributed to the feelings I was having on that lap? Yes, you are right. You are very perceptive. In fact, riding a 14+ mile lap with your brakes "on" is really a bad idea and it makes me ponder my relationship with reality. How could I have not noticed? How could I not have spun the wheel after it was back in the frame? I don't know the answer to either of these things, but I did a quick change on the tire and it was apparently at least 15 seconds too fast since I didn't check that.

I was really glad, however, that Tom was there and had offered to help. Don't know when I would have noticed otherwise. Maybe when the brake ignited something?

Lap 4 & 5 - At this point in the race, things are less distinct in my memory. The good news is that nothing traumatic happened and the bad news is that also probably indicates that I needed to eat and/or drink more to keep the brain sugar levels up. My legs were definitely feeling the impact of my idiotic brake-pad fiasco from lap 3 and it really took these two laps to work them out so they felt good again. My right knee stopped aching and just went back to feeling normally tired above and below it. Interestingly, my 5th lap of the day was 15 seconds faster than my 2nd lap of the day. I had to slow down and baby the corners on my 2nd lap as the tire was getting low, but still that indicates that I was doing all right even five laps and more than 70 miles into the race.

Lap 6 - I came into the pit area after Lap 5 and saw PW. I was feeling pretty good for being 6 1/2 hours into a mountain bike ride and I finally felt like the crampy/stressed feeling from Lap 3 was finally gone, so I was planning to get in a 6th lap and call it day just as lights were required to be mounted on your bike to continue on the course. PW was getting a piece of pizza so I grabbed some sandwich I had brought and we agreed to ride the last lap "together". You would think that this word has an agreed-upon usage in the English language, but that would indicate that you don't know PW. "Together" in this instance meant that I should ride slowly when he wanted to go slow and that at the end of the lap when he felt sparky and got around a couple of riders, I should just hope to see him after the finish line. Oh well, you wouldn't have friendships that lasted 25 years if you didn't overlook this type of behavior, right? Maybe it's good there weren't blogs 25 years ago.

Post Lap 6 - I felt remarkably good after riding around Riverside State Park for nearly 8 hours. I knew I would be sore the next day, and I was, but I wasn't in the shot/knackered/wasted category. I was just in the good old-fashioned tired category. I was also very, very fortunate that my pal Mark was right next to my pit area and he had some cold beer, Papa's Pale Ale from the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company (brewed in honor of the Centennial of Father's Day which was founded in Spokane (Proof of this claim and places to get Papa's Pale Ale on tap - just click). It is hard to remember a time when a beer tasted so good and it felt so good to sit down. So, I sat a bit, had another beer and then PK (who had snuck in a 7th lap - putting him at an amazing 90 miles in 8 1/2 hours)(also, did you know the correct term is "sneaked" and that "snuck" is not actually a word?), PW and I headed to the Steam Plant Grill to meet my family, PW's daughter and to have a burger, another beer and an end to a great day.

Last thoughts - Solo
- When you get your race number for your bike in the solo category, you also get a small tag to hang on your seat that says "Solo". This is so team racers give you some respect as they bomb past you on their fresher legs. Since I was only ever intending to ride 7-8 hours and almost every other Solo was there for 24 hours, I felt bad every time someone passed me or I went through the tent and got kudos for being a solo. People who stick it out 24 Hours do deserve recognition, so I felt guilty taking any of it from them. I will ask Gino and Wendy for a "Daylight Division" sticker to go on my Solo badge next time.

Women - Any male who thinks they are superior to women by dint of their equipment, should come out to a race like this. I saw women flying around all parts of this course, uphill/downhill/technical/flat/volunteering, who outclassed me at every point. There were solo women, team women and women on co-ed teams all dishing it out better than a lot of men, so guys, let's put aside the junior high attitude that all men are somehow better athletes or more hard-asses than all women, cause it just ain't true.

Finish - It was a great day and it is a fun race. I saw a lot of friends and was reminded of why I like Spokane so much. Tom gets a shout-out for being the mechanic who saved my day and Mark Starr at the David's Pizza truck deserves special mention for his food and logistical support.

It made me tired just to type this up. That's why it took so long.
Rider 3

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Shop Ride Update

First, the weather forecast has improved dramatically. According to and there is a ZERO percent chance of rain for our Shop Ride. That is great news. Or as I used to say in my mispent youth, "Bitchin!"

Second, and also bitchin! news, we aren't JUST going to have David's Pizza after the ride, we are going to actually have the David's Pizza Truck making hot & tasty pizzas! Like I said, "Bitchin!" Or would that be "Gnarly!" Or "Radical!" Or does it warrant a nice, long drawn out "Duuuuuuude!" I don't really know.

Well anyway, it makes me want to go outside after many days of rain and ride my bike and eat pizza. If it makes you want to do the same, come on down to Two Wheel Transit by 5.30 pm tonight and join us for a group ride. This ride is open to racers and non-racers, team and non-team riders, and just about anyone who wants to take an easy pace, no drop 20 mile ride tonight after work. Doesn't that include you?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Huh? Mechanized Doping

There was a story a few days ago on about mechanized doping. It referred to a motor that could be hidden inside a bikes tubing and the claim was that it had been used in a professional bike race. I just shook my head and thought that this was the feverish imagination of someone disappointed that the biological passport seems to be cleaning up the sport - probably some soccer fan or F1 fanatic. Anyway, I still don't believe it, but here is proof that such a motor exists along with the accusation leveled directly at Fabian Cancellara that his spring classic wins were the result of nefarious means. Everyone always says that he has a big motor; I guess the question now is, does he also have a small motor?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quick Thoughts - Shop Ride

I rode in the 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race this weekend at Riverside State Park. You may know that there are team divisions and solo categories. I raced in a group I call "Solo - Daylight Division". You won't find this in the standings or in any official information. It is an unofficial category that means that I rode during the daylight on Saturday, basically from noon to about 7.45 pm. I finished 6 laps or about 86 miles and felt reasonably good about it. I have more thoughts to share about the ride, about bike repairs and my guilt about having a "solo" plate on my bike, but I only have a few moments so I will just say that it gave me a shred of hope that I can get ready for the Leadville 100 and that the new Gary Fisher Superfly is awesome. I would say that it is indescribable, but you know I will describe it. Soon.

Also, while you are climbing out of the long weekend doldrums, remember the Team Two Wheel Shop Ride is this Thursday, June 3 at 5.30 pm. About 20 miles, no-drop, group ride and pizza afterwards. Temp. should be about 65 degrees and there is only a 30% chance of rain. What more could you ask for? Nothing I say. See you there.
Rider Three