Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Niner EMD Update

Long-time readers may recall my prior mountain bike, a Niner EMD. I sold it to help fund the Gary Fisher Superfly purchase and it went to a new home in the Spring of this year. It was sold to a gentlemen who was a committed road rider but was looking for something durable to use on the island of Dominica, which is located north of Venezuela and east of Puerto Rico, where the rider was taking up a teaching position as a semi-retirement and grand adventure. That is all well and good, but here is where my tale takes an unexpected turn. My bike recently sent me an e-mail. No, really. If you don't believe me, please continue reading as my Niner EMD catches me up on its new life. Just don't believe everything you read in the update, however, as I assure you I always lifted off the seat at "appropriate" times. The BO, sure, but I always lifted.

To Rider Three;

Remember me? Your old Niner EMD? The one you dumped for that "sexy Gary Fischer Superfly" because it "handled" better? That was a hard time for me. I felt hurt, jilted, betrayed, and angry that you in effect sent me to the glue factory by selling me to some old fart who had never owned a mountain bike before, whose idea of "race conditions" was running a yellow light on his way to 7-11 for a slurpee.
But I've worked through all that and I'm really enjoying my new life.

Shortly after we parted, my new rider packed me into a crate and 5 weeks later after a transcontinental truck ride and an ocean crossing, I was unloaded at the port of Roseau on the island of Dominica.

The riding is challenging and technical here, and I haven't even been off road yet. There's virtually no flat. The coast road is a narrow, crumbling ribbon of relentless big rollers over ridges and into ravines with sharp hairpins, huge potholes, drop offs into ditches instead of shoulders, frequent sections with grades >20%, and fortunately only light traffic. Oh yeah, it's the rainy season here, which means that several times a day, one is subjected to drenching cloudbursts that come out of nowhere, turn the roads into muddy rivers, and then are gone all in the space of 5 minutes. The scenery is fantastic- seacoast, jungle, cliffs, mountains, rainbows and waterfalls.

Today we took a road across the island from Caribbean side to Atlantic side that went through a dormant volcano caldera after an extremely steep 5 mile climb- only encountering 1 car the whole way.

Due to the omnipresent high heat and humidity I am sweated upon profusely, but my new rider's BO is somewhat less offensive than yours, and unlike you, he has the courtesy to lift his butt off the seat when passing gas, which occurs often, in keeping with the adopted local diet consisting largely of breadfruit, yams, plantain, and other fiber rich starches.

So life is good. I'll probably retire here. You're welcome to visit.

Give my regards to riders 1, 2, and the AM ride group.

Yours truly,
Niner EMD

PS- Congrats on your fine performance at the Leadville 100. I only wish I had been there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Say it ain't so.

It's a sad day. One that marks a change with long-term psychological and lifestyle ramifications. It's a day cyclists point to with foreboding. With sadness. With gloom. With, well, I'm running out of adjectives.

It's not the end of the racing season I reference. And it's not daylight savings, although that bag of fun is coming soon too.

No, this evening, I rode the indoor trainer for the first time this season. And it's not even autumn yet. (editor's note: actually this happened last week, but Rider 3's multi-part book review got in the way of posting this sooner.)

If you've been riding for more than a year or two you likely know of what I speak. And while some minority of riders actually LIKE riding a trainer, much like there are some people that enjoy wine coolers or having fillings replaced, I am most definitely not one of those riders.

You see in addition to being as boring as, say, watching grass grow, I have a theory about riding an indoor trainer. My observation is that it temporarily drops a person's I.Q. by at least 25 points. Of course I have no idea what 25 points actually equates to in real-world terms.

But I do know that last year, in the depth of winter, I watched Driven, the car-racing movie starring Sylvester Stallone. If you're not familar with this fine example of film making, it's loosely, and I mean loosely, based on the Drama with a capital D surrounding a fictitious Formula 1 auto racing season. And after the movie's gripping conclusion, which saw Sly's protege find his mojo on the racetrack by humming while driving, I thought to myself, "huh, that movie was kind of good."

Seriously? As a friend put it, Driven singlehandedly put open-wheel racing back 20 years in this country. Really, it's quite horrible.

So, I guess winter is on the way. Dark evenings certainly are, anyway. Unfortunately, living in Spokane, riding indoors is part of my reality. Hopefully my I.Q., and a couple of other important things, will survive a long winter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet

Read All About It! Special Bonus Saturday Edition!

Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet

This was a small book that I purchased after reading an excerpt from it, along with an interview with the author, in Roleur Magazine. Jean Bobet was a super domestique in the 1950's who primarily rode in service of his brother, Louison Bobet, a French rider with an impressive palmeres and who was the first cyclist ever to win the Tour de France three times in a row.

While his brother was much more famous, this isn't a biography of Louison Bobet. It really is the story of Jean and his relationship with his brother. Jean was four years younger than Louison and Jean was drawn to more intellectual pursuits. As a result, Jean bounced between academia and cycling and spent time as a journalist after his ultimate retirement from cycling.

This book is a translation from French and it sometimes becomes apparent in the language, whether from the use of terms that aren't familiar to an American audience, or just in the tone or structure. In any case, either the style of writing or the translation gives the book a gentle and lyrical feel that belies the underlying difficulty of bicycle racing and the struggles at times the Bobet brothers face.

Jean Bobet is a doting protector of his brother's legacy and this means that details are sometimes short on the negatives either of his brother's character or difficulties they faced. Nonetheless, it is a charming and engaging story of both Bobets.

Don't read this book looking for the blow-by-blow of any of the Bobet's numerous victories. Sometimes even monument races are dismissed with a phrase like, " . . . and that was the year that Louison won Paris-Roubaix." Some books are written just about that single day in someone's life, but Louison both had so many victories and Jean is so unassuming that if he wasn't there for the race or it doesn't fit into his story, the narrative just skips forward to something he believes is more important.

Do read this book if you are interested in an overview of Bobet's career and life, and even more, ready this book if you are interested in the bond between brothers who were also cyclists during the post-World War II reconstruction of Europe. It is a somewhat rosy view of the time period, but ultimately a very enjoyable and readable book.

And now, back to your regular programming . . .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bike Snob - Bike Snob NYC

Well, life didn't interfere and I am wrapping up a week of book reviews. Here, in the final installment is a bike blogger extraordinaire's book.

Bike Snob - Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling. By BikeSnobNYC (aka Eben Weiss)

Here are a few things about BikeSnobNYC. First, his name is Eben Weiss. This is less interesting to know than we were hoping when none of us knew. Second, he writes the best known and funniest bike blog in America. There really is only one other widely known bike blogger, FatCyclist, so maybe being first isn't that big a deal, but he really is better and funnier than the 1000's of other bike blogs out there. (Oh sure, his is better than mine, blah, blah, blah.) Third, he is a very nice guy, which I know because we exchanged e-mails a while ago. I also harassed him about coming to Spokane to ride bikes, although I made no progress on this front, because I can't imagine a more extreme difference from riding in NYC than heading out to the Palouse or up Valley-Chapel Road. During our e-mail exchange and my harassment, he was unfailingly polite. Not at all like a "typical" New Yorker and quite milder than his acerbic blog.

So, about his book.

If his blog is a piquant mix of insults, barbs and cuttingly funny insight, his book is a milder version of his daily insights. The book is an overview of cycling really written for the non-cyclist or new cyclist, but with enough depth to keep most of us reading along. BikeSnob covers bikes, bike etiquette, some bike history, some riding lore and, as usual, he skewers those who deserve some skewering in the world of cycling. With my comment about his blog, I don't want to leave the impression that this book isn't funny, because it is, but it just isn't quite as funny as some of the broadsides often offered in his blog. In part that was because the scope was broader and it is easier to make fun of small things. I also suppose he toned it down to broaden the appeal, and it works from that perspective, but there was a bit of verve missing for those of us who are loyal readers of his blog.

If we are lucky this book was intended to be an intro course, or 100-level discussion and hopefully BikeSnob is working along at producing another tome that digs a bit deeper into the world of cycling where his wit and wisdom will flourish on the topics that are near and dear to his heart. Or, even better, those that cause anguish and disgust in him, which tends to bring out the best in him.

And regardless of the follow-up, we must all bow down to the man who brought widespread attention to the acronym, AYHSMB.

Oh, for those who don't know, it means: All You Haters, Suck My Balls.

Maybe you had to be there.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rough Ride - Paul Kimmage

What? Another damn book? What about riding?

Oh, be quiet.

Rough Ride - Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist. By Paul Kimmage

This book was written in 1990 just a bit after Paul Kimmage's career as a professional cyclist ended and my edition included a 2007 update. I purchased it, by the way, at Powell's in Portland, which is an experience anyone who likes books should undertake, at somewhat coincidentally, while Rider One and I were perusing titles together before heading off to River City Bikes to look around. But I digress.

Paul Kimmage was a pro out of Ireland in the wake of, and riding at the time of, Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. These two were superstars of their day and Sean Kelly is one of the hard men's hard men. All those jokes we tell now about Jens Voigt being tough could be substituted with Sean Kelly except that he was arguably a harder man (if you can believe it). Kimmage was inspired by these guys and rose up through the semi-professional and then professional ranks at a time when English speakers able to do so were few and far between. Kimmage was not a "great" cyclist, but certainly had the makings of a yeoman in the ranks including being a decent climber. Unfortunately, in addition to be able to climb mountains, he also carried a chip on his shoulder the size of one.

Kimmage came to recognize the signs of the rampant drug use in the peleton around him and struggled with the issues. He never strayed very far into the use of banned substances, but he certainly understood the issue. If he had been able to write with more empathy or understanding, which you would think would be possible considering his own struggles, this could have been a great cycling book. Instead, he comes off as a bit of a sanctimonious prick which appears to have been his character from his earliest writing. It does not appear to me that his negative experience with drug use caused the bitterness, but he was just bitter or suffering from a self-esteem issue from the start.

It's too bad, then, that this book is so strongly tainted with the pettiness or insecurity that Kimmage shows, because his message is valuable and correct, which is that the whole system encourages the use of drugs and there are players at literally every level that make the whole thing possible. Ultimately the strength of the message and, for me, the first hand look into the peleton, make the book a recommended read for anyone who follows pro cycling, but be warned; while you probably will agree with his points, you probably won't come away with any warm fuzzy feelings for the author himself. Unless, of course, you are a sanctimonious prick yourself. But I digress again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We Might As Well Win - Johan Bruyneel

More book reviews for a rainy day . . .

We Might As Well Win. By Johan Bruyneel (with Bill Strickland).

Starting out with a more honest title than Lance Armstrong's "It's not about the bike", Johan Bruyneel gets straight to the point. If you are going to be involved in the highly, highly competitive world of cycling, "you might as well win."

This book serves a few masters. First, it is clearly "in" Johan's voice, which is an accomplishment for a book that may have been ghost-written. If you have heard interviews with Bruyneel, that same voice comes across the page and tells a few good stories. Second, this book goes out of its way to claim some of the credit for Lance Armstrong's success. This is a reasonable thing for a team manager in a team sport to do, but I suppose the enormous magnitude of Lance's success makes this a harder task and it seems slightly desperate at times in its tone. Third, this books sheds light on the cycling life of Bruyneel pre-Lance, where he was not a TdF contender but a damn fine cyclist and well-respected, and also on the personal side of the cycling races.

All in all, I have to confess that the general public maniacal admiration for Lance turns me off, but I really enjoyed reading this book. Johan is a fairly straight-forward, plain spoken person in this text and it works well. My guess is that Johan is also a hell of a poker player, metaphorically speaking, and it may not behoove him to shed unnecessary light on the dark underbelly of cycling, but as long as it is viewed in this way, it is a good read for any cycling fan and certainly for the cycling cognoscenti (or chamois sniffer as Rider One would put it).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Racing Weight - Matt Fitzgerald

Continuing our reading and/or book review week . . .

Racing Weight - How to get lean for peak performance - 5-step plan for endurance athletes. By Matt Fitzgerald.

I read this book last winter hoping for inspiration and suggestions for getting to a better weight for Leadville. The book is oriented towards fit, almost appropriate-weight endurance athletes who are looking to get "lean" for that extra bit of speed or racing ability, but the lessons applied to me as well. I won't go into my personal weight issues, but it is fair to say that I am on the heavier side of the fit and ready category; clearly Clydesdale and quite a bit above "racing weight". Nonetheless, as I said, this book does have a lot of common sense information for any athlete trying to lose weight.

I like the joke about the most effective weight loss book in the world having two pages. One page says, Eat Less. The other page says, Burn More Calories. There really isn't any more to it than that, but for every person who weighs more than they would like, it is aggravating how simple the equation is versus how difficult it is to implement. This book goes into strategies for helping with both of these points, by discussing timing of food, types of food to eat to control appetite and promote weight loss, as well as food to help with training, lean muscle mass building and fat loss.

If there were a secret in this book, I would be glad to share it, but really it is just a framework to consider common sense information that we know, almost know or should know.

Like most books for cycling/running that involve a "plan", whether for weight loss or training, you can either jump in and follow along point by point, or take the basics and apply them to your own plan. I did the latter and actually managed to drop about 20 pounds between January and mid-August. I have a secret desire to continue this process until spring and come out next year at a more appropriate riding weight, so maybe it's time to pick this book up again and get re-focused or re-energized.

I would recommend this book for any endurance athlete looking for some common sense advice for weight loss. It avoids some of the crazy diets that the general population are gravitating towards and considers the needs of endurance athletes. Even those of us on the larger side of the equation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review Week - Ghost Rider & Roadshow

And continuing our "And Now For Something Completely Different" theme, I am going to do a few book reviews this week (maybe)(I mean, that is my intent, but it doesn't always work out that way, sometimes life gets in the way). The books are mostly all riding related, but the first couple are two-wheeled riding, with the addition of 1100 cc's of BMW engine attached.

Ghost Rider - Travels on the Healing Road. By Neil Peart

This book chronicles the 55,000 miles that Neil Peart, drummer extraordinaire of Canadian rock band RUSH, rode on his BMW R1100 GS motorcycle after his daughter was killed driving to college in a one-car accident and his common-law wife of 20+ years died of cancer within the next 12 months. Peart, the thinking man's drummer and lyricist, or at least the thinking man that didn't mind toking up a bit in the 70's and contemplating life and mythology, was obviously distraught about losing his family in such circumstances and needed to contemplate and heal.

During the course of the book Peart does a fair amount of motorcycling, including some of it through our region, a bit of hiking and a smattering of mountain biking. The journey, and book, is tinged with sadness and is a bit self-indulgent, but in a completely understandable way considering the circumstances. I wouldn't consider this a great book, but it was an enjoyable read for a guy who likes riding a similar motorcycle.

I have to confess that it also started a new round of listening to RUSH, which I hadn't done in years. It also caused me to want to read another of Mr. Peart's books.

Roadshow - Landscape with Drums. By Neil Peart.

Similar to Ghost Rider, but written about the period two years later (2004, rather than 2002), this book is a travelogue of the BMW riding Peart does between concert dates on the RUSH tour. His band mates, Geddy Lee (derided as the ugliest man in rock and roll, but come on, he is at most the 8th or 10th ugliest man in rock and roll) and Alex Lifeson, travel by private jet and limo, but Peart is happy to be loading up onto a tour bus after the show, having the driver get him out of town while he sleeps and then taking up his own motorcycle from there the next morning.

The writing in this book is much better, probably from the experience from writing the prior book and because the subject matter was less personal and painful. This book is interesting and entertaining, whether Peart is talking about his drumming, the tour itself or the travels in between. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes RUSH, motorcycling or a bit of adventure with a side of celebrity interest.

After reading these two books, I get the feeling it would be fun to meet up with Peart for a day or two of riding in the Pacific Northwest, where he often makes a run on the way to Vancouver or a tour date. Barring that, however, these books take you along for a ride for a lot more mileage than that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Tete a Tete Brews

Check out the comments from this post from the end of July:

Apparently I mistakenly attributed a comment on the Inlander website to the wrong person (a mistake on the website), but the clarification involves a smack-down on my intelligence.

I can only hope to get smarter as I am schooled by "logical arguments" by people who think that bike riders pay no taxes to support roads and that we all disobey all traffic signals (unlike the highly intelligent group that operate cars and ALWAYS obey traffic laws). Maybe I will learn someday. In the meantime, go read the comments for yourself.

And Now For Something Completely Different! HA!

I got the following e-mail today:

From: Mrs. Glenda Roberts.
Address: Kuala Lumpur, 50784, Malaysia.


I am Mrs.Glenda Roberts, suffering from cancerous ailment. I was married to Sir Bob Roberts an English shipping tycoon notable for his great charitable activities before his death in April 2nd, 2006. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of Thirty Million US Dollars ($30,000,000.00 USD) which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bank here in Malaysia and named me as the beneficiary of this trust fund. (All records are kept with our family lawyer).

Presently, this money is still with at the Bank. My Doctor told me recently, that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous problems that I have been suffering from. Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition with the cancer. This hard reality that has befallen me, I have decided to donate this fund to you and i want you to use this gift which comes from my Late husbands effort to establish a charity home for the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren-women and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially. I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are bourgeois and very wealthy persons and I do not want my husband hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures, which is the reason i took this bold decision. I do not need any telephone communication in this regard due to my deteriorating health and because of the presence of my late husband relatives around me.

Please I want you to contact me through my personal email address:

Please assure me that you will act just as I have stated.

Hope to hear from you soon,
Remain Blessed,
Glenda Roberts.

It touched me so much, that this old lady with cancerous ailments and a stroke had reached out to me to get help, that I felt compelled to dash off the following response:

Dear Mrs. Glenda Roberts – I am so glad that your e-mail reached me and that you were not forced to deal with your husband’s bourgeois and very wealthy relatives. I am, unfortunately, somewhat bourgeois, just because of my parents, but I assure you that I am not wealthy at all, so you can rest assured that you have reached out to the right person. It is also quite convenient that you do not require telephone communications, because I can’t make out-going calls on my cell phone. I am living in my parent’s basement (totally temporary!) and they won’t let me use their telephone at all anymore (LONG story! HA!). Sometimes I sneak up and use the kitchen phone to order a pizza because Dideo’s Pizza cut off my cell phone number from orders after I prank called an order for 19 pizzas to my old high school chemistry teacher’s house. I had a buddy who used to work there and I know they have a company policy where if you order 20 pizzas then they verify the order or get a credit card so I totally got Mr. Wankerhead (not really my chemistry teacher’s real name, but that is what we called him behind his back). I don’t want you to worry though that I would spend part of your husband’s $30,000,000 on pizzas just for me and my buds though (Or even for Mr. Wankerhead! Ha, like I would ever by HIM a pizza). No, I assure you that if I was going to spend part of that $30,000,000 on pizza, I would definitely share it with some destitute or down-trodden people. In fact, I know some destitute and down-trodden people and I could invite them over tonight, so if you could e-mail me a credit card number I could get started distributing that money like right away.

I do have a couple of questions though. Like, that thing about “barren-women.” Is that women who are old and ugly, or just like women who can’t have kids, because I don’t really like spending time with old and ugly people, women or men (HA!), but I could totally get into the idea of “spending time” with women who can’t get pregnant, if you know what I mean. I mean, not like that, but . . . okay, maybe we should focus on some of the other categories of people I could help.

The other thing that is totally cool about this is that you have avoided going to any of those greedy charities that pretend to take care of women and children. Probably most of those are really just big offices with fat cats collecting checks to pay for their private planes so they can go around the country asking for more money that they then just spend on themselves and their private planes. I have heard that is mostly what charities do. This way we are totally cutting out that middle man and we can just get the money directly to the down-trodden and barren people of the world. Of course, I might have a few expenses, but they would be totally appropriate. Like, I really need a new car and I think I should get something big enough to hold a bunch of down-trodden and barren people, so an Escalade or a Hummer might be a good idea. And it would need to be totally tight with a killer sound system and low profile tires so those down-trodden and barren folks would totally know that we care about them. We could even use it for taking physically challenged children to the fair and stuff, or even doctor’s appointments. That would be rad.

So now just let me know what we need to do to get this party started. I mean, like an expression, not like a real party. Also, would it be okay if I pay myself a salary to do all this work. That seems totally fair and l think it’s what your husband would have wanted. I don’t think he would want me showing up in my old clothes and with no money and trying to help people (HA! Like I was Jesus or something!), so it would be better if I had some new threads and some cash, so it would be uplifting for all those widows and widowers that even though their spouses were dead we were still here to take care of them, sport them some food (no cat food for you tonight grandma!) and then they would know that life was good outside of their nursing homes or whatever.

Anyway, it is so cool that we are hooking up like this and doing so much good in the world. I will wait for your e-mail, since I know how much old ladies dying of cancerous ailments and problems and strokes and stuff are totally into computers and e-mail so let me know what you need. I’m sure there will be some expenses, like for your family lawyer and the trust fund is probably locked-up so you can’t pay them, so I will need to come up with some cash or credit cards or something, but just let me know. I can give you my bank account number and routing number and whatever to get started. If it is too much money, I might need to ask my folks for some cash or I also just got an e-mail from this Nigerian Prince who has some money that he needs to get into this country, so maybe I can use some of that to help you out and get this charity stuff going.

Whatever it takes Mrs. Glenda Roberts, I am totally down with it! This was our lucky day!

Rider Three

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Due to a hectic schedule, I have brazenly stolen a draft Post from Rider 1 and am submitting it for your perusal today. It is a series of random thoughts that might have been edited, revised, expanded upon or cut. We can never know Rider 1's original intentions now that I have used my "Blog Administrator" powers for evil, rather than good. And yes, Rider 2 is still boycotting blogging until the drug stuff is all resolved in professional cycling (I'm looking at you Oscar Sevilla!).

- I dug the Tour this year. And no, I don’t blame Contador for not waiting for Schleck. The Tour de France is a bike race, not a freaking episode of Band of Brothers. Contador didn’t wait for Schleck for the same reason that Schleck didn’t wait for Chavanel when he broke his bike, flatted, and crashed (in no particular order) while wearing yellow on Stage 3. It was a crucial moment of the Tour, and sorry, but you don’t wait during those moments. If Schleck could have, he would have ridden Contador off of his wheel on any of the many other climbs that littered this year's Tours. The fact is Schleck lost the Tour in the prologue, not because of a dropped chain.

- Jurgen van den Broeck pretty much killed it during the Tour. Not bad for a tall man from Belgium. But it made me even sadder to have broken his bike last summer. And no, I didn’t buy that bike on eBay from someone with the screen name of johaninjectsblood2004.

- If you’re a frequent reader of you can’t have missed the comments pages attached to each article. I’m not sure whether to feel proud that cycling in the U.S. has so many fans now, whether to be irritated that cycling is no longer my own special little world, or to be embarrassed that there are so many chamois-sniffers in the world. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these wankers were lubing up three-knuckles deep with Assos Chamois Cream before watching the Tour each morning. Rider 3 has referenced this before, but I still remember a time when I would anxiously await my parents’ Sunday New York Times so I could catch up on what was happening in the Tour. And of course they recapped an entire week’s worth of racing. No content, just results. Nothing was covered any other day of the week. See, I WAS THERE FIRST!!!

- I’ve missed mountain biking. Way back when, I was more than a little involved in the world of dirt. I still feel fortunate for this experience. I visited four continents traveling to bike races, rode more race courses than I can remember, and was involved in during an incredible explosion of consumer interest, technology and race team funding. But this isn’t what I’ve missed. Over the past month I’ve spent more time on a mountain bike that I have in years. Riding in Winter Park, CO, and the trails around Spokane has been fantastic. It’s amazing how much different the experience of riding is depending on whether you’re on asphalt or single track.

- I recently borrowed a Gary Fisher Superfly 29’er mountain bike. Two words. Holy. Crap. More to come on this front. [Rider 3 Editorial Note - This means that he likes it. I was there.]

- Team Sky, hands down, has the best-designed jerseys and bikes. Those guys put the b in subtle. At least until you take a look at their bus.

- For you Spokanites, one final note. The proverbial grass, at least when it comes to cycling is most definitely NOT greener on the other side of the hill. Traveling lately has renewed my perspective. Cyclists in Spokane are very, very lucky. Great roads, little traffic, decent trails…life is good here. We need to do more to encourage good access, educate motorists and fight for transportation funding, but in general? Trust me, we’ve got a good thing.

From the Outbox of Rider 1's Mind, brought to you by the good folks at Team Two Wheel.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Capital Forest 50/100

This past weekend I made a trip over to the Olympia area to ride in the first ever Capital Forest 50/100. That is the official title of the event and it turned out prophetic.

Having jumbled thoughts on this ride, please excuse the bullet points in place of the extraneous commentary that usually comes along with my ride reports.

- For a first time event, things were reasonably well organized, but could have been better. I have confidence the race organizer, who seemed like a very nice guy, will make the event better next year, so keep an eye out for it.

- The course is a 50-mile loop, done once or twice.

- The course is hard. It is fairly technical, fairly muddy in places even though it was considered "dry" by some locals, has a lot of vertical (about 5,900 ft each loop), and it is also hard. Oh, I mentioned that, didn't I?

- Course marking was very good except at a few key points where there was two way traffic, which included both aid stations out on the course, which resembled a figure 8 except that you stayed on the "outside" of it (does that make sense?).

- The volunteers could not have been friendlier or more helpful. No really, they couldn't have been.

- The ride time was billed at 6.30 am start with 8 pm close to the course. In the days before the event, they moved the start time up to 6.10 am. In reality, there wasn't enough daylight to start until 6.45 am and they had to close the course by 7.30 pm because there wasn't enough light to see after that.

- This is relevant for me because I wasn't riding fast enough to feel confident about riding the whole 100 miles, my intended distance, in the shortened time. My pace would have kept me inside 14 hours, but not confidently in 12.5 hours. Bummer for me.

- Crashing hard also took some spirit out of me. I had a stupid crash exiting a very slippery bridge after which there was an immediate rise to the left. I accelerated (I know it was stupid) with 5' of bridge left and managed to push my tire right out from under me. Hard hit on left side.

- My next crash (oh yeah, more than one) involved an upturned tree root grabbing my right arm and shoulder as I passed it too closely and ripping me off my bike in a painful twisting motion. As I rode away from this one, I could feel my shoulders, trunk and pelvis all pointing directions other than forward.

- My other crashes (yes, a few) were much more simple, but involved various tree roots and sticker bushes.

- Even though I rode whole thing with arm warmers and knickers, my arms and legs still have numerous scratches, small abrasions and I have a few king-sized bruises which are still surfacing two days later.

- The course, in addition to be hard and technical, was also beautiful. The Olympic Forest has 160 miles of single-track and the Friends of the Olympic Forest apparently volunteer to do most of the maintenance, so hats off to them. That much growth and greenery and mud must make it challenging to maintain.

- I recently read about a helmet mounted camera that is on my holiday gift list. I wish I had had it with me as this course was really beautiful in a "you have to see it believe it" way. Even the water/waterfall crossing where I thought I was going to die.

- While I am a long way from being an expert mountain biker, I was gratified to have guys who were experts talking about some sketchy areas or difficulties. It makes my assessment seem more reasonable.

- Did I mention that my rear hub failed? That didn't help. It would intermittently seize so that my chain was sucked into the wheel. When it was less bad, it barked at me like a loud, angry duck every other second. When it was bad, I literally could not coast for a single foot, having to keep tension on the chain continuously, which meant I had to brake downhill and had much less opportunity to move, stand or shift positions. When you can't, you get the idea of how regularly you stop pedaling on a mountain bike, even if for just a second or two.

- When I pulled into the start/finish area after my 50 miles, I was bummed that I made the decision to quit there instead of going for the second lap. I could have ridden more but with the 100% likelihood that I would have been pulled from the course at a later aid station, but there was a diminishing to non-existent return to this idea.

- Almost lastly, PW and I started out to ride this together; recognizing that PW would have to wait at the top of hills, and also at the bottom of hills, and also after technical sections, and probably some other times. He was a good sport about it, but it became apparent after less than auspicious start for me and then having a mechanic look at the rear hub (and suggested that I stop riding) that I was not on a schedule to do 100 miles, but PW still had a chance to do it if he took off on his own. I suggested we go with the Top Gear Rule - loosely translated as the failure of one to proceed shouldn't hold up the others - and wished him well.

- Remember when I said that the course marking was mostly good? PW got bad directions at the first aid station on his second loop, sent the wrong way and ended up at the Start/Finish area after 70 miles and a bit over 8 hours of riding. They wouldn't let him go back out since he couldn't finish another 50 miles and there wasn't a good loop for him to do another 30.

- Lastly, I spent the whole day feeling off my game, even before crashes and mechanicals. I thought that I would show up on the results list just before the DNF and DNS group and maybe a few other unfortunate types. I was therefore pleased to have finished in the top 2/3 of 50 milers and a full 30 places ahead of PW (no, that doesn't really make sense). To be fair, I averaged a meager 7 1/2 mph and PW was over 8 1/2 mph; still, that makes for a long, slow day.

In conclusion, I feel a bit better after having seen the results and realizing that there were people out there taking longer than me to ride the course. That's sad, in a way, isn't it, but it's also true. Final analysis - It was a hard day on a hard course. I'm ready to rest for a while.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bittersweet Biking

For a long time I was a young man. Then later I wasn't.

Young that is.

I am not "old" yet, hopefully by quite a stretch, but definitely somewhere in between. Evidence of not being "young" anymore is plentiful, whether it is my waistline or my mortgage (neither of which is getting much smaller) or the fact that I have celebrated 21 anniversaries with the same wife. Similarly, it is a stark reminder of one's age to have two teenage sons. I am deeply happy to have these two chaps in my life, but it is hard to keep up the pretense of being a spring chicken when your children are large enough to beat you up and old enough to then drive you to the hospital.

This weekend I went on a remarkably quick road ride with both of them from one end of the Fish Lake trail to the other and back. It was fun to ride along with them and start the initiation process of making them into "riders". There is a sizable gap between the process of toodling along a trail with them on 400-lb "mountain" bikes versus going on a road ride with them. We talked about trail etiquette (yes, it does exist sometimes), the process of riding in a pack, the need to ride in a straight line (or for you old school types, "Hold your line!"), about gearing and hand positions. It was low-key and fun. I was, and this may be an important point, able to ride along comfortably with them and even caught the older one when he tried to "break away" from our pack. Just good clean "father and son" fun and nothing bittersweet about it.

The next day, however, was different.

My older son and I took a quick mountain bike ride along the bluff trails. My son led the way and he wanted to go ride a steep downhill set of S-curves that I had showed him a while ago.

Now here I am going to recount a conversation we had as we rode up the first long hill. I admit that I sometimes use artistic license in recounting conversations, but this is as accurate as I can be. As we rode up the hill, my son looked behind him to see where I was. I was still right on his wheel and I said, "I'm right here. You haven't dropped me yet." He laughed and my fifteen-year old said, "Dad, it will probably be ten years before I can drop you." My response, "G, I think it is safe to say that in 3-4 years you will be easily dropping me." His well intentioned response (from the mouths of babes, as they say), "It's weird to think about how over the next few years I will just keep getting stronger and you . . ." He paused, not sure how to finish his thought, at least finish it without saying something he didn't intend.

I finished his sentence and added, "Yes, I will just keeping getting older and slower. It's the way of the world."

He protested, kind of, because he had no intention of saying anything unkind or unpleasant. I may even recall through the decades that at times there is a satisfaction that comes from being young and looking forward to being "more" of almost everything. And it is weird to think about, particularly from the perspective of the aging and slowing old guy.

Not long after this we were getting to the top of the section that was his primary interest in the ride. It is steep S-curve section that turns tightly in a little V of ground, so that you ride down into the V and then as you go back up you take a tight turn heading back down to start the process over. For guys on skateboards and in X-treme sports videos, it is the stuff of life. For a 15-year old gaining strength and skill, it is FUN. For a reasonably fit 44-year old, it is rideable, but it isn't the kind of feature I seek out. Clearly, when something used to be FUN and now it is miss-able, like hangovers, it is a sign of maturity, or more bluntly, aging.

A while later I watched my son climb up some ascents that last year would have been beyond his ability and this year just made him eager to get it cleaner or faster.

And then it was time to head home. We rode together to the apex of the downhill back towards where we jump off the bluff and my son casually said, "I'll just meet you at the bottom." Translated from kid-speak, this means, "You go ahead and get a gap and then I am going to blaze downhill and catch you." These are moments as a parent when you have to weigh your options. Do you let Icarus fly too high or put him back in the softly-padded cage and tell him maybe he can fly next time? As a "Dad", I do think there is value in getting to try things for yourself, even when that means there is a chance of failure or even getting hurt. The day before, my younger son wanted to learn to change a flat on his own and ended up with a pinch flat in his tube when he tried to re-inflate it. He learned that lesson much faster than just based on my cautioning.

So on top of the hill I decided it was better to be behind him, so that if he did crash I would be close and not just at the bottom wondering what happened to him. I reminded him of the walkers and dogs and other riders that might be on the trail and then told him to go ahead. I let him get out of sight and then started my own descent. I was a bit behind but noticed on the way down that 1) he wasn't strewn about the trail and 2) I wasn't able to get him back into sight so he was going at least as fast if not faster than me.

As I came onto the last straight-away I thought to myself that I was glad he got to go his own speed and had made it safely. It was just a moment later that I turned off the trail and saw my son separated from his bike, with a look of shock on his face. He had, in fact, crashed his bike as he turned off the trail.

I think we had the same emotion at that point. He was both a little kid and a young man at the same time. He wasn't sure whether he needed a hug or whether he was okay without one and I wasn't sure if he needed a hug or his space. I jumped off my bike and approached him, asking if he was okay. He nodded and held up his arm to show me a large red area just below his elbow along his forearm. Struggling to catch his breath and his emotion, he said he was okay but his face betrayed the struggle to know whether he really was.

I have ridden with lots of guys who have crashed, but not usually with someone who used to sit on my lap and get bedtime stories. I want to both protect my son and help him make his way in the world. I joke about my Mom being worried that I won't return from Leadville in one piece, but it doesn't occur to either of us that it isn't my decision to make. My son is straddling that fence. He is getting older and stronger, and he will be dropping me on the hills soon. He has to figure out on his own how fast and how much and when and how and why and where and very few of those decisions will have anything to do with mountain biking. I've had my chances to make some mistakes and have some successes. I'm looking forward to watching him do the same. Even if I am going slower all the while.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I am sorry and apologetic that I have not been pitching SpokeFest. You can still register online, at Mountain Gear (yay local shops!) on Friday, from 5 - 8 pm, Saturday, from 3 - 6 pm, or day of the event if you like long lines.

No matter what, however, you should either be out there riding or volunteering to help support this great Spokane cycling event that gives back to the cycling community.

For more info:!

If you don't make it, I will need to see a doctor's note.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rubbing Brakes

On the Shop Ride recently one participant had the misfortune of suffering through that occasional bane of cyclists everywhere, "RUBBING BRAKE PADS OF DOOM!" To non-cyclists, or cyclists who have not been through this, that headline will seem overly dramatic, nee, hyperbole. To those that have had this happen, however, it will not seem sufficiently descriptive of the misery that it can cause.

It seems so simple, doesn't it? You use the brake pad to be a helpful little guy when you want to slow down, so how much harm could it cause when it just rubs a little itty bitty bit against the rim, huh? Let me put it this way, you were much, much smaller when you were born than you are today, right? Would you still go back to dear old mom and tell her childbirth was no big deal because you were just a little thing? I didn't think so.

Three vignettes come to mind regarding brakes rubbing. Indulge me if you will.

The most recent was the shop ride mentioned above. The rider in question is not a newbie, but on the other hand, he isn't an old hand yet either. Due to some fortunate weather and circumstances, this rider had the chance to ride for four of the five days up to and including this ride and, in a fit of enthusiasm, got out for a ride in the morning before the shop ride. As a result, when he was struggling to keep pace with the group, he was a bit mystified, but thought it might be a result of adding too many miles in too short a period. The rider in question, who has asked specifically to not be named and in a fit of responsibility I will abide by this request, is known to not be a complainer or whiner. In fact, there is a funny story on this point, but again, the rider in question has asked for his shellac-ed bagel story to be kept out of the public eye and I will, in a continuing fit of responsibility, abide by this request as well. Nonetheless, this rider just thought the problem was a fitness or riding issue and it didn't occur to him that it was a mechanical issue. I think that this is in part because unlike a flat tire that changes the characteristic of a bike, a rubbing brake pad just makes it harder, and that, my friend, is hard to identify as a mechanical issue.

I can speak with confidence on this issue because I too suffered through a bout of this myself recently. I even hearkened back to it in a recent post, but I had failed to align my wheel after replacing a flat and had the brake pad firmly against the rotor on one side of my rear mountain bike wheel. I rode a lap of the 24 Hour Race this way and the worse I felt, the worse I felt about it. I couldn't explain my sudden decrease in fitness or feeling, but it honestly never occurred to me that it wasn't an engine problem until after an hour and even then I didn't trip to it. I was quite embarrassed to see 1) how easy the problem was to find and fix, 2) how simple it would have been to notice, and 3) how long it took to get over the effects.

Which brings me to my 3rd and final vignette. In this instance, the person who suffered the impact of a rubbing brake pad has never gotten over the impact. You see, I did this to my wife on her first mountain bike event and she has never returned to the arena to fight again.

In this case, it was at the old-style Blazin' Saddles Chili Ride when it was held early enough there was often still snow on the ground. We parked near the Garage Mahal and rode over to the course on the new christmas present bike I had given her in hopes of getting her interested in riding. Unfortunately, it was my first experience with disc brakes and I did not know that squeezing the handle with the wheel out would cause the brake to bind up. As a result, we rode our first event together until my wife was at the point of exhaustion and utter misery, at which point, she wisely determined that cycling wasn't much fun. I felt bad about it then and still do to this day, because I am convinced that no matter how many times she has ridden since then, it felt so bad that day that the memory hasn't faded. A rubbing brake bad doesn't seem like much and no matter how many times I explain it, it is hard to grasp until you have lived through it and then lived to fight another day, or at least go ride your bike for long enough for the difference to fully sink in. In this case, my wife didn't know how it was supposed to feel, so she didn't have a frame of reference.

So, putting aside my guilt and shame for doing this to my wife, I will say the worst thing about a rubbing brake pad is the way it messes with your mind. You feel miserable while it is happening and it is hard to identify, but then the irony is the follow up rides when you feel miserable and it is NOT your brake pad's fault. You can keep checking and checking, but usually the next time it really is the engine. Which means that when the brake pad rubs again, you have it back in your mind it is the engine. And thus starts the vicious cycle again.

Now, about that bagel.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Midnight Century - Daylight Version

Faithful readers will note that I previously did a 100-mile mountain bike this summer. For brand new readers, please refer back to the War and Peace-length saga earlier this month of the Leadville 100. So, after finishing such a long and difficult ride, what would the natural and normal thing to do be? Take it easy, enjoy some casual riding, right? So what did I do? I went out to ride the Midnight Century course with the fastest MC rider in town. Was this sensible? No. Reasonable? No. Hours of endless gravel rollers? Yes.

A couple of quotes I heard this morning remind me of this ride. Nietzsche famously said, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Are they mutually exclusive? I don't think I died, but I certainly don't feel any stronger. Is it possible for something to both kill you and make you stronger? The other quote is actually a song lyric and no, I don't have to be embarrassed about it, I was listening to a Coldplay song. The line is something like, "no one said it was easy, but does it have to be this hard?" And that, my friends, regardless of your feelings for Chris Martin is a good motto for the Midnight Century course.

During the summer, Tom (who is the Head Mechanic at Two Wheel Transit (okay, currently the only mechanic)), helped me out by taking care of my bike, serving as a sounding board for numerous discussions of tires, wheels, etc., and may have saved my life during the 24 Hour Race (he helped me find the large and obvious wheel drag problem that plagued my 3rd lap: Alongside the great wrenching and therapy sessions Tom offered me, we also discussed the Midnight Century and his preparations for it.

Tom had done numerous reconnaissance tours of the MC course in preparation for the actual event. While it is not a race, Tom was ready to go out and set the course record. Instead, because Tom is an incredibly nice guy he did two things on the night of the actual ride - he rode with and supported the efforts of two friends to help them have quick rides that night and he leap-frogged these riders to leave behind pine cone smiley faces for all the other riders. In other words, left to his own devices he clearly could have ridden faster than the 6 hours, 9 minutes that they finished together.

In my conversations with Tom, we had talked about doing a pre-ride of the MC course. I had wanted to go, but timing or my Leadville prep. schedule or something prevented it before I left for Colorado. I had considered doing the MC, which was the week before Leadville, but not being familiar with the course, I was concerned that it would be too much of an effort to recover from in a week's time. I was also cognizant of the additional danger of riding at night and didn't want to needlessly complicate or endanger my chances at Leadville. As a result, I put aside my desire to ride the MC and Tom and I agreed we would ride the course after I got back from my trip.

This did, however, pose a couple of issues. One, Tom, as mentioned above, was capable of a very, very fast ride on this course. While he will be very uncomfortable with me mentioning it, he is a previous Washington State Road Race champion in one of the Master's categories. As a result, I was a bit afraid of going with Tom because I didn't want to endure 9-12 hours of a) holding up Tom; b) patronizing comments from Tom like, "No, you climb really well for a fat guy" or "I was really looking forward to a 10-12 hour pace on the MC course - I get to see so much more going half the speed I normally do"; or c) finding myself laying in the midst of yet another gravel roller, crying on the road side and wondering why had I hadn't just rested on my laurels instead of tacking on another tough 100-mile mountain bike ride.

Despite my trepidations, however, I agreed to meet Tom at the Elk Saturday morning at 6.30 am for a trip around the MC course. We extended a couple of invitations to go along with us, but had no takers. I had no idea so many cyclists I knew would be having their hair done that morning. Nonetheless, the two of us headed out at the appointed time. In fact, my Garmin says we started at 6.32 am, which is remarkably timely for me. Doing it in the daytime has some upsides, like it means that without the lighting systems the bikes are lighter, the navigation is easier and you can show up feeling reasonably rested. Doing it in the daytime also has some downsides, like it is still a long, hard course full of mile upon mile of rollers and gravel roads.

Tom described the course generally like this, the first 25 miles are pretty easy and the last 25 miles are pretty easy, but the middle 50 miles are pretty tough. You could describe the 100 Years War in the same way (that middle 50 years was really something), but with just a bit less bloodshed. One of the interesting things about riding with Tom is that this description of the course may have been the only instance of him using understatement. In fact, Tom is a remarkably literal person. If someone asks me how far something is, I might say, "about 4 miles" which could mean anywhere from 2 to 8 miles, unless of course I have completely mis-remembered and then it could be somewhere between 100 yards and 10 miles. I don't mean to be inaccurate, but I'm okay with the idea of a range. That's why atomic clocks are of no particular interest to me. "About 4 pm" makes more sense to me than " pm" as a time. In contrast, when you say to Tom, "how long is this hill", his answer will be "it's about 1.1 miles" which translated means "it is almost precisely 1.1 miles unless I am wrong and it is really between 1.09 and 1.11 miles".

In terms of course descriptions, this is a great resource. Every time I asked about what was coming up on the course Tom had a full, complete and accurate answer, which is really nice when you aren't familiar with an area. On the other hand, it also means that when you say something like, "Sorry I am holding you up today," his response is not, "oh, you're not holding me up, I wanted to go slow today," and instead his response is more like, "Sure". Oh well, it is true that I was holding him up all day.

The MC course, at least the version we rode, which I think is the 2008 version, starts in Browne's Addition at Cannon and Pacific, heads into downtown and picks up the Centennial Trail to Stateline. We rolled along this portion of the course quickly and it did call into question the mountain bikes and giant tires we were riding. We covered this first 23 miles in about an hour and twenty minutes. Not blazing fast, but then again we were just riding and talking as opposed to racing.

From there, you hit your first substantial climb and then descent towards Liberty Lake, followed by the next climb out of Liberty Lake. At this point, all of the roads are still paved and I wondered about my cyclo-cross bike sitting at home. Shortly thereafter, however, the gravel roads start and the mountain bikes seemed like a better idea. We finished the first 1/3 of the course in something over two hours, but we had just started to get to the meat of the course (or, for you vegans, the "tofu" of the course). If you aren't familiar with the route, the best way to understand it is to go ride it, but second best is probably taking a look at this:

The next 1/3 of the course is mostly comprised of rollers, many on gravel roads and a few on paved roads, but through mile 58 you are either going up or down. I do not recall more than 100 feet of level road in this entire section (There might have been a level section, but I find that hypoxia limits my recollections). This section also involves the oddest part of the course, where at about mile 55 you take a right turn off of the gravel road, go around a fence and down a path into a ravine, across a charming wood bridge and back up the other side of the ravine. It is totally unexpected and I have to think it would be easy to miss in the middle of the night, not to mention a bit of rough riding. This is a portion that a cross bike would be a distinct disadvantage to a mountain bike. Rideable, but tougher. I am interested to go back and check this area out to understand the how and why this county-owned cut-off came to be.

Just after this, you then reach the major V in the profile. About mile 58 you start a 2-mile descent that takes you to Valley-Chapel road, but really to the base of this little valley. From there, however, you start climbing right back out of the valley including going up Spangle Creek road. In total, just after the 2 mile descent you have about 2.5 miles of climbing and an elevation gain of around 550 feet. I had never ridden up Spangle Creek road because I have always been at the bottom on my road bike and thought it turned to gravel just out of sight of Valley-Chapel Road. It turns out the climb is all paved, but it does turn to gravel for many miles before you can hook-up to a paved road again. This climb has grades as steep as 15% and it is, to use a crass term, a real ball-buster. For me, at least, this marked the period of waning strength. Tom was being very patient, but my back had been bothering me (which is a very unusual cycling problem for me) and I was getting tired.

From the top of this climb, you are about 2/3 done with the ride. Unfortunately, I was more than 2/3 done with my joie de vivre. We were at about 5 hours here, which I was surprised to realize was only about 15-20 minutes behind Tom's ride at the MC event. It was, for me, however, the closest we would be to that time. As we reached the open Palouse, we were greeted with increasing winds and an inverse proportion of strength from me. I gamely plowed along, but I was getting tired. I also didn't realize the way the course went and I thought that if I made it to Spangle then it would be an easy trip down the hill into town. I was wrong.

From Spangle, you cross 195 (tantalizingly down the hill to my house) and get on more gravel roads. These gravel roads, as all gravel roads on the Palouse, are rolling. The don't roll up and down as much as some of the prior roads, but nonetheless, they go up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down. And for our ride, they also went straight into the high winds for quite a ways.

You do, however, finally reach the point where the road is going mostly downhill and eventually intersect with the Cheney-Spangle road, leaving behind the gravel roads except for one tame stretch. The Cheney-Spangle road also rolls up and down a bit, but mostly down to the Fish Lake trailhead. From there, down the upper Fish Lake trail (where we had a nice tailwind finally and I sat on Tom's wheel for the whole length of it), a 3 mile section of ride-able gravel taking you to the lower Fish Lake trail, and then the final few blocks back to Browne's Addition.

I was seriously knackered for the last stretch and probably tried Tom's patience. He stopped a time or two, for a natural break and then for a couple of trail maintenance issues, and each time caught up to me surprisingly quickly. At least it surprised me. The old tortoise and the hare trick, except in this instance the hare was the one that was able to keep going and going.

And so, this story, much like the ride, peters out quickly. After the criss-crossing of fields, mile upon mile of road I have never seen, roller after roller and a very miserable wind that just blew stronger as the day went on, you then suddenly find yourself sharing the Fish Lake trail with families that just bought their bikes on sale at Wal-Mart. It is a bit of an odd transition and it feels like you should ride along next to them to say "hey, we started at 6.30 this morning and are just finishing a very tough ride, do you mind having a bit more respect?", but instead we just politely moved over to let the labradoodles and their owners have the trail. We rolled back up to my car after 7 hours and 13 minutes. As the Garmin tells the tale (succinctly compared to me), we were moving for 7 hours, 1 minute and 46 seconds. I wish I had realized so that somewhere I could have knocked off 2 minutes and booked a sub-7 hour time, but I guess that's why the road is still out there beckoning.

I am curious about how different it would be at night and I imagine it would be quite gratifying (as described here: to finish as the day is beginning. I can't guarantee that I will be there, but I will certainly try to make it next year to find out. Speaking of which, here is the link to the not-official ride information (since it isn't an official ride): Here are a couple of other links to ride information from 2010: and and and finally

In fact, the Midnight Century website and the Dean of Cycling Blogs are the best place to find out about next year's ride. It sounds as if Tom's cue sheet (found here: will be updated, revised and expanded upon to become the official cue sheet of the unofficial ride.

So, to sum it up. Midnight Century - No one said it would be easy, but did it have to be that hard?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quick Thanks

I want to thank everyone who made it out for the last official Team Two Wheel Shop Ride at Two Wheel Transit last night. The turn-out was tremendous with somewhere in the 40-50 rider range. The pizza was fantastic with 110 slices of pie going straight from the David's Pizza Emergency Pizza Response vehicle to riders in 15 minutes, so Mark Starr deserves a hand for that. Afterward, there were apparently a few pitchers of beer consumed at the bar next door by a few hearty souls who must have had lights on their bikes to get home. There were also a bunch of Team Two Wheel t-shirts handed out to lucky recipients, which I think were the last of the T's. All in all, a fun time and a great end to the season of shop rides.

Thanks again for making the effort to come ride with us!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Single Speed Dreams

Hello. My name is Rider Three. I am a bike-aholic. It has been 4 months without a bike purchase, but I feel my will weakening. I am not here looking for your support. Just your understanding as I get ever closer to the bike purchase abyss yet again. You see, I know that I have a sickness, but I am just fine with it. I can stop whenever I want. I have control over it. But I really need a new bike. A single speed mountain bike.

What? An aging clydesdale does not need a single speed mountain bike? Are you crazy?

No, not crazy. That is exactly what will hold off the negative impact of both aging and clydesdale-ism. It is the perfect treatment for what ails me.

You just don't understand. You are always saying that the bike I have is just fine, but you just don't get it, do you? If my wife is okay with me buying a bike, why can't you be? Why can't you just be happy for me? You are such a drag. Always the buzz-kill. Do you have to live right there between my ears? Can't you find someplace else to go?

You see, when you drop off the derailleurs, the shock fork and that dang triple chainring set-up, you totally drop the weight of the bike, you make it SO much cheaper and you get this magical connection between the cranks and the wheel. Getting it geared just right means that you can take advantage of all three speeds - riding, standing and pushing. That is built-in flexibility right there. It's like cross-training just while you ride your damn bike!

I am seeing it right now . . . in my mind.

I need it. I really need it. Christmas just isn't that far away, is it?