Monday, January 28, 2013

Progressing well

I was trying to put a widget on my blog for Strava, but failed.  Some issue I will have to work out later.

Good ride over the weekend, it was a little wet and cold, but not bad relatively.  Didn't push really hard, but enough to feel it a bit.  Set some personal records on a newer route, so I know I'm not completely stagnant.

I should finish the month up about 300 miles, which isn't high, but considering weather and sickness, I'll take it.  Weather dependent I hope to be around 500 for February.

Oh and in sad Coup de Cascades it sounds like.  The club that held it folded due to lack of membership.  It would have been nice but not necessary.  Maybe a ride to do on my own sometime...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Not a bad ride

It was the Sunday morning ride.  Several people had indicated they might ride, but with busy schedules and sickness and conditions being bad, by the morning it looked like I would be by myself.
I wasn't planning on moving fast and hoped to try a new route so it worked out ok.

My route is here: 

I only got lost once (not bad for a new route, for me) and only fell twice.  I wasn't moving fast either time, it was getting going from behind buildings that are permanently in shadows.
All told about 34 miles and average speed over 15 mph.  It included the brutal climb of Nike Hill and I picked up some new segments to challenge myself on later this season.

It looks like the rain is coming back, so riding will be hit and miss this week.  *sigh*  Oh well.
Still super excited and looking forward to the S2S later this year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nothing....nothing much at all

I'm riding more than most of the people around here.  Ah Seattle riders, a little ice and they scatter.

Not a lot, but enough to keep me in practice.  Stupid lights have been an issue.  My MagicShine batteries have been problematic and the Kickstarter light I ordered is not here.  Even better there has been absolutely no communication from the developer Barry Beams.  In desperation I spent $50 on a L&M Mako.  It is great from basic commuting, but not something I would trust in fog or rain or at high speeds.

Let's see, oh!  Lance used drugs to win.  Huh.

My plan for the S2S is in place.  The only downside is the 4th of July in on Thursday and the race is on the 6th, which means there should be lots of drunks to dodge and lots of traffic to contend with over a created long weekend.  I'm hoping that if I do well on it AND I can get a lot of other pieces together I will have the ability to ride the Coup de Cascades.

Weight is coming along well.  Down to 176.  Only 13 pounds to go.

Drooled over the new Trek Domane.  When I can afford it, that will be my new bike.  Saw one of Ebay for about four grand.  BUT, it was ridden and signed by Chris Horner.  That's nice.  I like Chris and all, but I just want the frame.

So dodging to a dream list:
Trek Domane 6 series
Campagnolo Record EPS
MadFiber wheels

Yup just need about eight thousand dollars and I'm there.  Do I need that much bike?  No (well the frame for me would be a good fit), but that doesn't change the want.  And damnit I would be faster.

Looking to get a ride in tomorrow.  I have lots of routes planned out for training, I just have to get out and ride them.  Is summer here yet?

See...nothing.  Until next time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A (pathetic) week in review

Managed to make one whole ride this week and that was edging on horrid.  First, even though I had thought that I tightened my crank arms down after doing work on the bottom bracket, apparently not enough.  Quick change to my other bike to realize the front tire was flat.  Oh and a second flat while on the way and in the rain without fenders.  The upside, it was the best ride of my week!

Weather has been against me and the trip to work has been challenging.  I'm still fighting my chest cold.  OK!  Done bitching.

I had an ok ride and posted it below

And I'm already down two pounds and my body isn't telling me I'm starving anymore.  AND, while cold the weather looks clear for this weekend, so even with lots going on I plan on getting some nice solid base riding in.  AND I'm begining to start the search for a new bike for my oldest.  I may end up building one so I can't get the stuff on it suited to him.

I expect to be back next week with another couple pounds lost and some good rides to report.

Monday, January 7, 2013



The sound that my ass makes as I sit on my bike seat.
Or maybe it's the sound  of my ass landing in a chair.
Or maybe it's me falling from somewhere witty back in to posting.

No matter what the sound is definitely THUD.

So here's where I am.  Mid icky weather Seattle winter. Just got over a nasty chest cold.  Ridden maybe 100 miles in the last 3 weeks. The worst part...180 pounds!  Thud.

No one on Facebook wants to read my daily metrics, so it will be here instead.  Yup rides, weight, food all that crap.  I'm hoping to figure out how to link "Lose It" and Strava to the blog so I can just upload all the stuff, but if not, I'll transfer it all manually.

Oh and ya.

Still on.

First this year.  More on that later.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Silly and the Smart

Ok and when I say silly it should really read stupid.  One of the roads I take is a nice slow 25mph winding up and down type road that goes past a lake.  It's not a big lake and there is a road that goes the other way around it that is 35+mph and less scenic and flat.  There are bike lanes on both sides of the flat road and nothing much on the scenic.

Coming home last night (on the scenic road) traffic goes from a stately 20mph to nearly a stop for no particular reason.  Oh, but there was one.  See someone on a bicycle with really great gear (nice fenders, commuting tires and really bright lights) was riding on the shoulder of the road.  That in and of itself wasn't really an issue.  But the cars with their headlights coming up the hill were blinding the drivers going down the hill and because of the really bright bicycle lights they knew someone was on their right.

The only major problem is that person was traveling against traffic.  But wait there's more.  There was another cyclist going with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road also trying to get past the wrong way cyclist thus causing traffic to slow.

It only took a couple of seconds for everything to work out, but the issue remained  because of one person and a whole lot of people had to make a lot of right decisions and that one person was riding a bike which caused the little spark of hatred motorists have with cyclists flare just a little bit, when by riding on the proper side of the road everything would have been fine.

I felt bad for the person doing the right thing because the cars that had to wait for everything to get sorted out took out their frustrations by passing them closely as they were accelerating.  LEARN THE RULES OF THE ROAD.

Now the smart.  It was a cop.  I have a lot of respect for law enforcement, but probably underestimate exactly how knowledgeable they really are.

My late night route takes me past one of the Everett stations.  On my way by I saw a cruiser pull out, but it's a station so I didn't think anything of it.

Just past the station is a short section of MUT and other the other side was a cruiser.  The timing was too coincidental.  I checked the plate cruiser number.  Another street and the cruiser rolled past then another section of trail.  At the end I saw the cruiser roll by again.  Another section of trail and the same cruiser.  You would have to be very familiar with the area to know all the twists and turns the trail takes in order to be at the end and you would have to be moving quickly to beat a cyclist on them.

Finally there is a long section of road that goes slightly downhill and two sections of path that are downhill as well.  I pushed hard and lost the car.  For a little bit.

I swing back up to a road-only return and shortly after I did the cruiser rolled past me again.  I felt better seeing them.  It was fun to play the hide and seek game with them through the trails and road, but they not only knew the trail intimately enough to keep up with me most of the time, when they figured out I hadn't back-tracked up the trail they went to the most likely route back for a cyclist and found me.  Smart.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finally, a nice long (longish, would you believe good ride length?) ride.

A birthday party, a decent day for the PNW, good riding partner and a newish route with some varied terrain.  Sounds like a good day for a ride.  I had a nice warm up ride into Edmonds to pick up my FIL.  It was supposed to be close to freezing but without a lot of rain.

The first part of the ride followed that forecast and while I wasn't moving fast I did ok.  Going back up to Lake Stevens there is some climbing to get into Everett but the brutal hill comes going into Lake Stevens.  20th Ave is about 3/4 of a mile with an average grade of 15% and an upper grade of over 18%.  That combined with a sketchy cross of through traffic moving at 50mph or more made it fun.

The ride back was wet.  It never really rained, but the roads were wet and leaving Lake Stevens is a lot of high speed downhill.  My feet were soaked through before Everett.  Good thing for wool socks.

I had to stop for food before we got back to Edmonds.  With a breakfast of about 300 calories and 150 calories in my bottle I was running a huge deficit and was probably on the edge of stellar bonk, but Starbucks came to the rescue with a rice krispie bar.  The return trip included a good climb from the Snohomish valley to Everett and then again over 164th.

All told for the day I covered 62 miles and close to 4500 feet of climbing.  Speed wasn't really high but considering amount of additional clothing gear, weather and the fact that I"m very out of "bike-shape" I count it as a win.  I wasn't even sore the next day.  One of things I need to do beside clean my bike is check my seat height; my left knee was twitchy on the front which generally means that my seat is too low.

Of course the ride wouldn't have been possible without the continued support of my wonderful wife, who made sure I had the time to ride and my FIL for keeping me company.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Whoops, it's been a few days

I had good days and bad...ish in the last few days.  Mexican food is NOT good for a diet, but good for my tummy!

I have been tracking and for the week I'm down nearly 2700 calories, which is about right for my pound and a bit of weight lost.  I haven't been as far under as I could, because I'm not burning it.  I have been eating consistently and with a good balance.  For the week I have a perfect 50/18/32 split in my food with my protein being nearly 1 gram per pound of weight.  My water intake is up and I don't feel like I'm starving.

The down side...very little riding.  The weather hasn't been horrible, cool but dry.  A lot of is simply a lack of time.  I was able to get out and do my long Mukilteo loop today though there is a major discrepancy between my computer reading for climbing (1130') and the website's that I use (2600').  So I will have to look at that coming up.  It was nice to get a little ride in at 25 miles and gave a 1000 calorie boost to my numbers.  Riding makes all the difference!

I also had good news this weekend.  I will be opening a bike shop!!!!  Not tomorrow, not the day after but in the next couple of years.  The agreement is that once I finish school I begin the work to open my own store.  I am very VERY excited by this prospect.  Lots to do between now and then and my time is already at a premium so home, school, work and training first.

I'll be around here too...I promise 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's cold and wet and I might wake someone up and....

So far my excuses are keeping me not riding in the morning.  I need to fix that.
I rode this evening however.  A short hard 10 miles in the dark, in the wind and rain and it felt good.  My numbers were so-so but it felt good.

I did better with food today.  Less cravings, less hunger feeling and good numbers there as well.
I had a deficit of over 500 calories with 40%carb / 18%fat / 42%protein (nearly a gram per pound of body weigh).

I'm going to take another try at riding tomorrow morning...

Monday, November 28, 2011

and then....crap

I could run to the scale and do a weigh in, but it probably hasn't changed since yesterday so I won't bother until next week.

I had a great day food-wise.  At least I mostly did.  I was WAY under coming into my last meal of the day, which really isn't good, because it means that I either have to eat a big meal to get my calories up, messing with my metabolism or not eat enough, messing with my metabolism.

The worst thing you can do is eat a big meal and make it mostly fat and carbs.  Especially if when I haven't done any riding that day.  So here is how my day ended:
1924 calories (1204 previous to the "crap"; more on that in a second)
50% carb/ 24%!!! fat/26% protein
no deficit

So my wonderful Trisha has been on a dairy free diet while nursing to make it easier on the baby.  During her visit to the doctor,  it was suggested she try dairy at this point.  Trisha really wanted it to be the right thing after her hiatus, especially if the baby was still sensitive.  Knowing this I planned on bringing her a treat and probably because I was so hungry got one for myself.

Yup a Dairy Queen, Peanut Buster Parfait has 720 calories!!!  I would like to say there was horrible guilt, but honestly it was good.  Not something to do everyday, but definitely a good treat to share with my wife.

I will be riding in the morning...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Didn't fall off the face of the planet

I'll have to backtrack and figure out how many miles to enter into my log.  Not many.
Amazing what job loss and new baby will do to your ride time and motivation to ride.  Here are the up-sides as of today:
I've ridden consistently 3 days in a row.  Short but hard and more importantly IN-A-ROW!  I haven't had hard rides back to back like that for a number of months.
I'm not sore.  This is a pro and con.  It means I haven't completely lost my conditioning, it also means I'm not riding hard enough or far enough for now.
Family is healthy and stable.  This is important to my continued riding.
I have a job.  This is also important to my continued riding and motivation to ride.
I have a wind trainer.  This is also pro and con.  Pro because it was free and because I can ride regardless of weather.  Con because it is noisy and boring and not the same as riding outside.

Now the downsides:
I'm fat.  20lbs over what I should be.  Not changing my eating habits and not riding was not good.
My job is great and...only 4 miles from home.  This is a pro and con, it means that I can to and from work quickly to do riding but it also means that I don't have a required daily commute by bicycle.
It's winter in the Pacific Northwest.  Enough said.
I am coming into this winter with far less fitness then I should.

As the Pros outnumber the Cons, I now know what I need to work on.  The other great thing about recent news is the announcement of the "Coup de Cascades".  It is a RAAM qualifier for our area and while I'm not in a position to have to worry about qualifying at this point it is very exciting to know that I will be able to race against some of the strongest ultra-cyclists in the world in a local race and see how I stack up.

Don't get me wrong.  I hope to be within a 20% time gap of the leaders, not challenging them.  Riders like Chris Ragsdale, Mick Walsh, and Ian Fillanger to name a few.  Will they race?  Probably.  It will still be exciting even if they don't.

The route starts in Redmond and goes out to Hwy 20, catches up to Hwy 2 and back to Redmond.  Its about 420 miles and 15,000' of climbing.  It's a test and a challenge and I anticipate that I will need to finish within about 33 hours to be remotely competitive.  With 2 hours sleep that is an average speed of nearly 14mph.  Ya I need to get some training.  The good part is I have nearly 10 months before the race to get into shape, work out my on bike diet and make sure it's bulletproof and figure out how to coordinate a crew.  Plus learn a new work place, go to school, be a good dad and most importantly a great husband.  PIE!

First things first.  Get some training miles in and get my weight down so I'm ready to go hard core in the spring.  I will work on posting at least the ugly stats here everyday so I have a record of it somewhere for some reason.

Here's the ugly:
30 minutes/8 miles/302 calories on the trainer
1416 calories/795 carb/158 fat/442 protein
650 calorie deficit

I have used a combination of this specific diet and training before to drop nearly 20lbs so I know it will work. I just need to stick with it.  I'll be around to let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First group ride of the year - June 12, 2011

I was able to get out today and do my first group ride of the year and I think my longest ride as well; and wouldn't you know it, I had good weather, good body and good bike.  Nothing interfered...for once.

I caught up with HOWC (Hills of the West Coast) a ride that I have caught a few times (I'm too lazy to track down the links to my previous posts on this) and enjoyed.  It is generally a non-race group of people that like to ride hard and safely and Tom Meloy is excellent at making sure this happens.  He moved the ride this year with a start point in Issaquah as opposed to Seattle and because of that I don't envision riding as much with this group as I would like.  It is nearly 2 additional hours in travel time for this event.

Yes I could ride (and probably will at some point in a couple of years) to the start and add in the extra eighty miles or so, but I will need to be in a LOT better shape.  This group rides hard like I mentioned.

This morning after arriving at the new starting point, I had a few minutes to muck with my bike and generally make sure I had everything ready.  I was probably over loaded for equipment, but with the problems that have plaqued me this year and a desire to not have to have Trisha rescue me from 2 hours away, I  went on the side of caution.  I was also testing out the "no food" part of my diet for this ride; more on that later.

As the rest of the riders showed up, I saw some I had ridden with before and some that I had never seen.  As everyone was standing around chatting, I heard some of the conversations revolving around races they had done recently.  Oh oh!

I listened closer and heard things like "we had to ride at over 30mph for a few minutes just to catch up, I don't think I'm ready to race as a Cat1 [next level is pro]" and "sponsors changed us to these other bikes [small race teams don't buy bikes generally]".  Crap!

Tom got there and laid out the rules.  Nice pacing, keep it to a 20-22mph effort, ride safe, tell each other what's happening, etc.  Ok then.  We are on the pace I expected to be on.  There are two brand new people and I'm always curious if they have any idea what they are getting into.  After discussing route plans that mostly go over my head we roll out.

Right off the bat we are uphill (2-4%) and into the wind (3-5mph).  No big deal right, because we are on a 20-22mph pace effort.  Wrong.  Not only are we above that pace effort, which in this instance would have been 16-18mph but we are rolling along around 24-26mph.  As I was back of one of the racers, it didn't appear he was having much issue so all I could do was grit my teeth, let my legs burn and hope to hold on.

One of the new guys rotated up front and all of a sudden we are trying to hold 25mph up a 4% grade.  He actually pulled for a solid two minutes like that.  Even in the draft I was well over 400 watts.  He seemed to drop off quickly and I later learned that he shelled off the back, tuck tail and went home.  The pace backed off a bit, but instead of nice short one minute pulls, everyone seemed to be pulling for three or four instead.

Finally it was my turn.  On a two percent grade, into the wind I kept my effort to the groups pace and held at about 22mph or in this case nearly 475 watts.  That lasted for about three minutes before I rolled off.  The next person took a hard pull and it occurred to me I could roll off the end and go home.  Instead I welcomed the burn/pain in my legs and held the wheel ahead of me.  I figured that I was the only one hurting at this point.


This is said whenever there is a break in the paceline and lets the front person know to slow up until everyone is "all on".  I was never so happy to hear those words.  First it wasn't me and second I got a break.  Then again a few minutes later and every few minutes for the next half hour..."gap".

At the first stop about an hour in, Tom reiterated the pace of the ride.  Really, the three racers were the ones pushing up the pace so Tom asked them to ease back, just to take a longer turn at the front.  As we rolled on, this worked great.  We were at pace and there were some monster pulls at the front.  I pulled twice more for a couple of minutes, but didn't want to push it too hard and end up getting dropped.  We had a couple of terrific climbs.

The day ended around 65ish miles, 3400' of climbing with an average speed of 22mph or three hours.  I know I rode hard, but my food went great, my supplements are working and I didn't have a mechanical on the ride.

Things I learned:  I need to drop weight and work on power.  I realized at one point during a great point in the ride (smooth pavement, no traffic, great weather, competent riders) that I would have had an easier time of it with a little more power and a little less weight.  I was about 10lbs lighter last year when I rode with this group and it shows.  I will go back to work at dropping my weight to about 160.

Also the racers were doing well because they rode short, hard rides and did other training.  I can do that.  In fact it works great for my upgraded goals for this year.  With a shortened time schedule and more chaotic riding I need to develop a training plan.  There is a ton of information on how to do it, I just need to get the plan in place.  Then even without the mega-miles I will be doing quality miles.

Although they will have the advantage of having ridden most of the summer with very competitive people they slow down in the fall; which is probably when I will ride with them next.  I will work to get into the shape that I want to be in and maybe I can ride at the front of the pack the next time instead of being one of the "old" guys in the middle.

Tom's take on the ride.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So much to do, so little time - June 7, 2011

There is so much going on!  First vacation and catching up on all the yard work.  A baby, work issues, travelling and schools round out some of the things going on over the next few months.  Even though I was falling behind already I thought if I stayed focused that I would get close to the goal of 10,000 miles by the end of the year.  I need to change that.
Initially I had hoped to stay around 8500 to 9000 but as my time becomes more and more precious and I am unable to dedicate as much time to riding I will aim for a nice safe 7500 miles for the year.  I think this is realistic and achievable based on the foreseeable future.  I can save the 10,000 for a year which is less hectic.
Weekdays I will drop to riding 3 or 4 and weekend rides will be one bigger ride every other week with the possibility for shorter rides on alternating weeks.  I will go back to working on power and worry less about endurance.  I should be able to maintain my current cycle fitness on this type of a schedule for a few months which will allow me to successfully complete a ride to Spokane in the fall if time allows.
With a lot of variables added in, it looks like I may continue my long commute to Bellevue; of course I may not either.  As I’m adjusting my goals for this year, I will take a second to outline some thoughts I have for next year.  Assuming my commute doesn’t change and depending on the bikes that I will be riding, I would like to add 10% to this year’s total next year’s total miles or about 8500 miles.  I think with the possible addition of a mixed tandem this will be something that can be accomplished.
I want to work with the kids and develop their riding, whether racing of some sort for Cameron or technical touring for Sean I think this will help them find their own niche.  Time dependant (new baby, school, work, etc) if I can get the right kind of riding in I would like to take a swing at one of the cross state records.
Looking beyond next year into 2013 (5 years to RAAM) I would like to aim to do a couple of family organized rides (short version of Flying Wheels or Kitsap Colors), hit about 9500 miles, take a run at the other cross state record and do a “perfect” morning ride with Trisha (nice temperature, dew on the grass, eerily quiet, sunlight streaming through the trees) on a half day touring ride on a mixed tandem.  I also would like to graduate or be close (independently wealthy is ok too!)
I am excited to see how this summer turns out.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smarter planning - May 31, 2011

There has been a change in plans recently.  I won’t have to test myself, possibly physically unprepared with too few big rides, as early as initially planned.  With concerns around how my recovery time could impact the vacation and with my main support person (Trisha!) battling through an exhausting pregnancy, we decided to push my ride out until the fall, maybe September.
I will still ride over to Leavenworth and tackle the mountain pass before Trisha picks me up on her way by and we continue to Plummer that way.  Over the summer I should be able to get in a number of midsized rides in that could include Hurricane ridge, maybe an STP type ride (only solo) plus some rides with Tom Meloy and possibly Chris Ragsdale on HOWC.
With those types of rides in, Sebastian here and less pressure to get training in and not combining a recovery period with another family function, a ride in September to Idaho would be a great way to end the main part of the riding year. 
If I ever hope to race in ultra-endurance events then I need to be successful in this ride and choosing an optimum time as opposed to a convenient one is important.  I hope to tackle both the West/East and North/South Washington state crossing records over the next couple of years, so this will be a good lesson in planning appropriately.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Here I sit - 05/29/2011

Mind any errors as this is getting posted from my phone. Never again will I tempt the gods of cycling. Getting ready for my first big ride of the year I commented to Trisha that I had enough equipment to handle anything other than a broken spoke.
The plan had been to do about 150 miles today with about 9000 feet of climbing. I made 20.
I was having a good ride on a clearly marked course. I had only been riding for a little over an hour in beautiful riding weather (not too warm or cold) when the course took me down a hill.  Is was a nice long, smooth drop and I was hitting about 45mph.  A came around a long corner and shifted my weight to the back or my bike in anticipation of an upcoming stop, when my front wheel started clicking and jerking. I brake as hard as I dares with my rear brake and managed to stay both upright and get stopped.
Yup, broken spoke. WTF!!!!
There had been nothing to indicate that was going to happen. So here I sit at a little after 8 in the morning once again waiting for my wonderful wife to rescue my ass while I watch streams of bikes going by.
Hey at least I get to try out my handy new app.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Planning - May 26, 2011

The end of the month will find me way off my hoped for miles.  With the un-May like weather, some ugly saddle sores and a life to live I will be a few hundred miles short of my goal; but that is ok.
I was a little worried coming up on the middle of June quickly and having not managed to put in a single big ride, much less two or three.  I had hoped to get a couple of centuries in and maybe a double century.  I may be able to get one of each before June 11th, at least that is my goal.  I look at my bike fitness last year compared to this year though and even without the long training rides I am probably 4 to 6 six weeks ahead in my overall fitness.
With Bike to Work month nearly over I can plan a couple of rest days before the two weekends in June and get a couple of monster rides in before I taper before the following weekend.  Knowing in my head that I may not be as fast as I want on the ride, but that my goal is simply to finish the distance, makes planning easier.
A lot of my performance will be weather dependant.  If, like last year, we get the first heat wave of the season the day I’m riding or alternately there is a huge storm brewing, then I know I will be slower by need.  Hopefully I will have good winds that day as well.  If not my bailout plan is to get to Spokane if time is not on my side.
Plans so far: leave around  am – without the drafting that I had last year, I anticipate being to the top of Steven’s Pass around 7am (I may be later depending on how much the additional equipment weight slows me down). 
I should get to Orondo around 10am or 11am depending on wind and weight again.  Unlike last year I will take my time getting down the other side of Steven’s Pass and not worry about fighting gravity.
Coulee City and I should find each other around 2pm.  This includes the climb from Oronda to Waterville and then out of the canyon east of Waterville.  Maybe 3pm.
Then there is the long slough to Spokane.  Little climbs and drops, lots of flats and just the right amount of sunshine (I hope).  I am hoping for about 9pm.  Depending on how close to this time schedule I am and how long of a day it has been for my wonderful support crew at this point I will make the decision to continue onto Plummer.
Spokane to Plummer should be about another 3 hours or around 12am.  I may be slightly faster, but again I need to make sure that I pace myself well.  Again a lot depends on weather conditions and support conditions.  I plan to be self-supported to Orondo and if I’m doing well probably for the last stretch as well.  It will still be a long day, but a lot more manageable I think.
Weight is going to be an issue.  I will be bringing a minimum of 2 spares plus flat kit, a spare tire, folding tool, spare batteries, heavy duty lights, extra water bottles and carrier, plus I think I’m going to try the Camel-Back this year.  My thought being, my bottles can carry all of my mixed water and my clean water will be on my back.  Also if it’s hot or cold I can adjust the temperature of the water against my skin to help combat it.  All told, I expect that I will have nearly an additional 6 lbs on the bike.  OUCH!
I can’t wait!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I know, it's been awhile - May 19, 2011

It’s been a bit, but apparently May is shaping up to be a quiet month; and that’s not necessarily good.
I had hoped to get a big training ride in last weekend, but the monsoon that plagued the area made that impossible, maybe this weekend (mow the lawn, ride my bike, mow the lawn, ride my bike).  With rain likely Sunday it means a Saturday ride which isn’t an issue, it just means that I won’t have a day of rest from my commute week before a long ride.  I was initially thinking something in the 200 mile range, but I think I will go half of that.
I am a little concerned with the lack of big rides so far this year.  While I am way ahead of training compared to last year, the ride I’m doing is also a month earlier.  Last year I had a number of 80 mile rides in and a couple that were longer.  I also had some very intense 60 mile rides.  This year I have a lot of commute miles.  Darn weather making things so difficult!
I’m not worried about finishing my big ride I have the power to do it, but I won’t have had a chance to try out my new food/liquid methodology and make changes if necessary.  Ah well what’s a little adventure.  At the end of the ride is a vacation.  Even if I’m a little worse for wear I will have a chance to recover nicely.  And really I should be able to get two bigger rides in between now and then.
I also started a new book called “Hell on Two Wheels” by Amy Snyder.  It covers the 2009 RAAM that saw the current champion unseated for a race.  She does a good job of “covering” a race that stretched out over hundreds of miles.  I got a good sense of what the riders and crew were going through physically and emotionally so far, without getting drilled down to many personal tangents; so the book in that aspect is balanced.
What it really needed from what I can see so far is a better editor.  She describes the same riders in the with the exact same phrases, over and over and over until I rolled my eyes every time I hit what I came to think of as “the descriptor”.  Little errors that stop you cold as a reader where she is talking about a female rider and then refers to her as a “himself”, this happens at least a couple of times.  This is not a fault of the author, more a fault of the editor.  There are other things as well, incomplete sentences and what not, but that is typical of a first edition.
I know how the race turns out, but the book is still very captivating and I look forward to finishing it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ten percent...BAH! - April 29, 2011

There is a guideline while training that indicates any increases should be kept to ten percent.  For instance if you wanted to increase the amount of power that you were putting out and you were currently at an average of 180 watts, you would aim to get to 198.  That makes sense within a certain range.  Obviously is you are putting out 400 watts getting to 440 could be a problem.
I’ve discovered that I’m not good with this “rule”.  In a previous post I had discussed increasing my cadence.  I was spinning around 80-95 and with my work this week I am spinning around 95-110 comfortably.  That is nearly a twenty percent increase.  From this point increase an additional ten percent would be nearly impossible as it passes the point of diminishing returns for practical purposes and my body’s kinetics.
Another place where I tend to deviate from this rule is in distance.  This month I am a little of 800 miles so next month I should be around 900, instead I will be closer to 1200 as a minimum up to 1400.  That is about a sixty percent increase.  And my longest ride to date has been about 50 miles, I have a 200 mile ride planned in May for a FOUR HUNDRED percent increase which will still leave a fifty percent increase in distance to my planned ride in June. 
Confused yet?
The ten percent rule seems to be a huge generality like BMI or max heart rate calculations.  Basically it gives a guideline for someone that has no idea of “what now”, but is for the most part non-applicable.  And the ten percent rule will definitely not be in use this month as over 10,000 cyclists, many of them brand new, hit the streets for bike to work month.
My goal: to be in the top 5 individuals for distance, with 100% participation.  It means no shortcuts for me and riding part way, even if my legs are achy.  There are a couple of people that have commutes as long or longer than mine and I will lose a couple of days to other events, but on a whole I should be in the top five and maybe even the top position as a solo rider; we will see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mr. Miyagi kicked my ass! - April 27, 2011

He really did.  Of course I didn’t know it was Mr. Miyagi when I was NOT trying to catch him and it really may not have been him, but if he ever needed a doppelganger this guy was it.
So there I was riding across 405 in Canyon Park, cursing the 10mph head wind when I spot a cyclist in the distance.  From what I could see they were moving along very well up the little hill there.  Successful at convincing myself I wasn’t going to try and catch them, I did happen to notice that I closed the distance once I got going down the other side of the hill.
They made the light in Bothell and I didn’t, so I figured it was a lost cause because there are so many options and directions to go in Bothell.  Imagine my surprise when they appeared just ahead of me awhile later.  We had taken different routes to the same point.  I noticed as I slowly gained on him that there appeared to be large wood pannier boxes on the back of the bike and even though I am still riding my own ride and speed, they seemed to be making great time into the wind with them.
I figured with the extra weight and wind drag that as we started up the next hill I would quickly overtake the rider.  As I rounded the first corner at looked to see how much time I had made up I was shocked to see I had lost ground.  WHAT?  I wasn’t moving that fast, seems as I was being good and pacing myself, but surely I wasn’t that slow?  I picked up my pace a little (because I wanted to) and found that at about an 80% effort I stopped losing ground.
Going down the next hill I finally made a lot of headway in catching this rider and yes I was trying at this point.  He stopped at the next red light and as I rolled up beside him I noted that before the panniers he was probably on about 50lbs worth of a steel bike with big wide tires and a mustache handle bar.  Then I noticed him in his comfortable cotton pants and casual top and oh it’s Mr. Miyagi! 
“I cheat, electric bike” he says.
It had to be that or this guy could have given Fabian a run for power output.  We chatted for a second waiting for the light and once it changed I took off.  There was another hill coming up and I didn’t want to get in the way of the very comfortable looking cyclist behind me.  Right at the bottom of the hill I caught another rider who was making good time and paced me up the hill for a bit.  We had the normal discussion of where are you going/coming from.
A glance back showed me Mr. Miyagi was catching up.  I knew that there was a long downhill followed by a flat and didn’t want to play leapfrog with him.  Cautioning the other rider my parting words were:
“Oh and you are about to be passed by an older guy on a really heavy steel bike”
I stomped on my pedals and dropped them both.  I can only imagine his surprise when HE is passed by Mr. Miyagi pedaling up the hill without apparent effort.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wooden legs and what I remembered - April 22, 2011

I’ll blame the single speed.
I spent all winter powering up hills and into the wind with one gear.  I think overall it gave me a lot more power to work with, but without gears I lost something: cadence.
The good thing is this is easy to get back.  I will grit my teeth and move a little slower next week and work to get my natural cadence up.  Right now I am hovering around 80rpms and I finished last year around 95rpms.  There is a whole lesson on the biology of how my body burns through energy and different advantages to each type of riding as well as the different muscle fibers, in simple terms, I need to spin at a higher rate in order to augment my low power.
This morning with my wooden legs I figured that I would be slow and hurting until I remembered this.  My power and speed were down (my big “pushing” muscles are still down) but I keep a high cadence, made good time and didn’t have any additional soreness.  Once I get my muscle memory back my additional power will pick up and I should become less fatigued over longer rides.
The other good thing I learned is that if I have burned out one type of muscle strands, I can switch to the other and nearly literally take all the stress off the first set.  Twice this morning I tried to power up a hill and both times my legs yelled at me, but as soon as I began to spin they were perfectly fine.  Spinning causes a higher aerobic effect and that seems to work well with my body genetics.
I should have a couple of days to recover all my muscles over the weekend (other things are taking place of riding) and hopefully with rested legs and remembering to spin I should be good to get a couple hundred miles in next week.  I really need it.  June is approaching!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Really? Snow? Really? - April 21, 2011

Notice the date!  It was snowing when I left my house this morning.  Ah well, it had cleared up by the time I was in Bothell.  I’ve rolled through some miles in the last little bit and should hit my target of 800-900 for this month.  I’ve recalculated total possible miles for the year and with everything going on this summer, plus my late start I’m adjusting my new target to 9000 for the year.
It isn’t my preference, but is realistic and necessary.  My initial goal of 10,000 was an ideal before figuring out the time it took and the time I don’t have available.  Based on my average speed, that is about 600 hours of riding a year or 25 days.  This isn’t nearly as horrendous as it sounds if you consider that I would normally spend 480 hours or 20 days commuting in a car.  So really I ride in a training/recreational manner for 5 days a year.
9000 miles is a very decent number and is even better considering my personal life.  Of course the extra five days of training per year are entirely due to Trisha’s support of me.  If I haven’t said it recently “Thank-you”.
On the riding side, not a lot new.  Still chasing down human-rabbits, enjoying the extra daylight, getting in the miles.  I hope to have a couple of long rides in starting in May and will get more information on those when I get closer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

May is Bike Month - April 13, 2011

I love bike to work month.  Even though they don’t always do smart things it is great to see lots of new riders out and about (and not just because I have more people to chase down).  Last year I think I was third in the solo division for my age group for number of miles ridden (600ish?) and that was balancing against carpooling with another person and craptastic weather for a number of days.  This year, even with a couple of vacation days, I hope to be in the top three in any age group with 100% participation and about 900 miles.
I think with rising gas prices, better facilities, a successful last year and more tolerance for bicycles that this may be a record breaking year for this event.  I know that I have already seen a number of teams tracking rides and recruiting new members plus the great prizes that are available for participation.  I would be on/lead a team, but that would require a minimum of three other people at work on this side of the mountains that are willing to commit and I don’t see that happening.  It will just be me and that’s ok!
Otherwise I have had some solid rides and solid miles.  I have been riding the Ibis for the most part and have good numbers for the beginning of the year.  I am pushing between 225 and 250 watts at less than 80% of my max heart rate, a pace I can keep pretty much all day long.  This puts me around 20mph on flat ground, so even with hills and stops my average speed has been around 17mph on longer rides.  That means that I will be on the bike for about 19 hours later this year on my long ride to Idaho.  If I leave at 3, I should be there around 10.
I’ve pretty much given up trying to keep the Ibis dry.  It has wind catchers (fenders) mounted and is now rain ridden.  Little things in the last bit: skipped out on an 80 mile ride to do a really hard 20 mile the next day.  I passed a fairly well known local team while into the wind and they couldn’t stay on my wheel.  Scared the daylights out of a couple of young adults coming home last night; I passed them on Bothell/Everett at a good speed (25mph) and wanted to make sure they heard me over the 5 lanes of cars.  Apparently they didn’t expect me to be there as one of them was still shrieking for probably 20 seconds after I passed them.
I think I will end up being very wet going home tonight L

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ducks, trucks, weather, goal - April 7, 2011

I saw a sad sight not long after I started my ride this morning.  Huddled on the cold, wet pavement was a mallard duck.  He was scared and sort of flinched every time a car went by.  Initially I thought that maybe he had broken a wing and couldn’t figure out how to get off the road, but as I got closer I could hear him making gentle “quacking” sounds and nudging another duck laying beside him.  It must have been his mate and it looked like she may have been struck by a passing car.
Just below this section of road there is a wetland and water vault so she may have been crossing looking for food or something when she was hit.  I tried scaring the remaining duck away (he was in danger or being run over himself), but he puffed up and made like he was going to attack.  There was no way he was going to leave her.  Poor ducks.  I’m not sure it I hope he gives up or if his end comes quickly and he can not have to live without her.
On a completely different note (amazing how much can change in a ride), I hadn’t seen my Jeep with the fleur-de-lis  for a bit, but I was seeing a mid 90s green corvette about the same time and figured that maybe they had traded off road for on road.  This morning I saw not only the Jeep go past me, but also the ‘vette was right behind it.  Maybe they work in the same place.
Stepping back a day – coming home last night I left in 48 degree sunshine and over the next 12 miles suffered through wind that brought me to a standstill, rain hard enough to drench me in seconds, hail, snow, thunder and lightning.  It was sort of eventful.  I understand that at this time of the year weather is a little hard to predict, but this morning on the promise of finally having dry roads and sunshine, I took the Ibis and forewent fenders (I didn’t want the additional hassle).  The roads weren’t even close to dry, but it wasn’t raining so the positive is that my head and hands stayed dry.  (Everything else is in the process of drying as I write this).  It will be sunny this afternoon, or maybe I need to say “It had better by sunny this afternoon”.
Along the randomness of this entire post:  I’m about 150 miles in so far this month, there aren’t a lot of days that I won’t be able to get some sort of ride in due to appointments or weather, I have enough light to get some miles done on the weekends and not interrupt Trisha’s school schedule too much so I am aiming to have 850 to 900 miles in this month.  With any luck I am hoping for good weather the last weekend of month and have a chance to pound out a 150 mile ride…we will see.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The way I roll - April 6, 2011

There has been a whole lot of discussion as of late around bicycles and their riders.  This is from not only the cycling communities but the motorist and transportation communities as well.  I don’t often form strong opinions on these types of issues, but in this case I have some.  In no particular order:
“All the bikes on the road slow me down/road diets slow me down”: this one amuses me to a large degree.  It seems that part of the backlash against cyclists is that they don’t move as quickly as a vehicle so they are causing traffic to slow.  Would you rather that the cyclists that you had to either maneuver around or wait for were in cars in your way.  A lot of drivers complain about this, but don’t stop to consider the fact that if they weren’t riding they would be driving.  In some areas that could be as much of a 5% increase in traffic.  I would think that they would want more bikes to lessen traffic further.
“Bikes don’t pay for the roads/should be on the sidewalk”: again with the amusement.  The gas tax is less than 4% of the total taxes in road maintenance.  And really, the $100 to $200 once a year for vehicle tabs is paying for the millions of dollars in basic lane re-stripping that happens because motorists can’t stay between the lines?  No, most of the taxes are paid by property tax and sales tax, that unless they live in a box, everyone pays.  I also own and maintain vehicles, so I don’t escape that anyhow.  As well to this point think of the additional demand/cost if the 5% of people who ride a bike instead of drive would place on the price of fuel.
“All cyclists blow stops signs and red lights/don’t follow traffic laws”: and with very few exceptions I would happily slap those riders.  They do a disservice to the entire cycling community every time they blow a stop sign, roll through and intersection and change from vehicle to pedestrian and back.  HOWEVER, there are instances when “bending” a law (splitting traffic) in the instance of safety, not convenience, are acceptable.  The other issue is that often motorists don’t know what the laws are that govern bicycles and really shouldn’t point fingers.  Like cyclists, for the most part vehicles follow the law but they roll through intersections and lights, speed and drive aggressively; the difference here is, they cease being a danger to jus t themselves and become a danger to others.
I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of them right now.  Basically the blame for the escalating tension between cyclists and motorists should be split evenly 3 ways: the cyclists, the motorists and the various DOTs.  Cyclists need to remember that most drivers aren’t bad but when you swerved to avoid that pothole at the last second, the driver behind you had no idea what you were doing or why.  The roads for the most part were designed for cars, they are bigger and there are more of them so ride appropriately and predictably. 
Motorists need to be educated on why cyclists do certain things.  You can driver right over that pothole with four tires and now worry about bent rims or blown tires.  Most of the time that bike will do what you expect it to do, but be patient and give them an extra five seconds; they just took another car off of the same road you are on.
DOT – fixed the damn hole!  I know you have budget crunches and all the rest, but the complete inability for this department to paint a line that makes sense is mind boggling.  Bike lanes against parked cars are dumb, put in a sharrow.  Bike lanes that just end in the middle of a block without warning to cyclist or motorist are dumber.  Instead of counting the numbers of cyclists on any given route once a year use the technology available and get apps that track them every day.  Then you could target facilities where they make sense.  Finally spend the money to educate drivers about what cyclists do and why and educate new cyclists how to do it and why.
Back to the point, how I roll.  In order of most important to slightly less important I ride: safely, predictably, visibly and legally.  Yes I know legally is at the bottom of the list.  I don’t blow intersections or speed limits, but I bend rules if they will keep me safe or allow me to ride predictably and visibly.  I have seen a lot of recent discussions on vehicular cycling vs whatever the other option is called.  Basically it is “ride like a car” vs “use the existing facilities”.  My answer is: yes.
I ride using both and other forms.  I ride in the manner that I would want to see my children ride in traffic.  There is a certain amount of assertiveness but also courteousness to the drivers around me. 
Specific examples from my commute and other rides – note these are the most often scenario types, I adapt keeping SPVL depending on the time of day, amount of traffic and weather conditions.
First, my bike(s) – they are always lit up front and back, from simple flashers on my road bike during the day, to retina searing flashing and steady lights on my commuter in the dark.  I have a jacket that is reflective and lights up and always wear clothing that is more visible than drab.  I am looking at adding some additional lighting to the side for additional visibility, but my front and rear lights are strong enough to light me up 360 degrees.
Home to Canyon Park/YMCA – in both instances there are decent facilities.  The left turns are accomplished in traffic as one is low speed and the other handles two lanes (to the Y).  I would go so far as to say one of the facilities is well laid out.  Crossing I5 has an overpass and on the east side of the bridge, DOT couldn’t have two bike lanes, so they drop the one going downhill with two lanes of traffic to keep the one going uphill with one lane of traffic…very smart.  I always give a wave to any cars on my right that make the effort to stop and wait for me.  Actually I do this consistently unless I need both hands for steering.  I figure maybe they will more attentive when they pass me or the next cyclist.
Canyon Park to Bothell – this area forward and backwards is sort of a mess.  Going south, the bike lane ends on the far right leaving me to either try and cross a lane of traffic that is speeding up to try and get on the freeway and still not have a facility of any kind to cross over I5 on where one lane is single occupant traffic and the other is HOV, to then get to the other side and have traffic merging from the right and a bike lane that picks up in the middle of nowhere.  What I generally do is move over to the right of the left hand lane that goes over I5 early, allowing traffic to pass me on both sides.  As I move up over the bridge I continue to move left, holding the lane which allows through traffic to pass in the left hand lane and SOV traffic in the right, holding up HOV traffic until they can turn behind me.  As tricky as it is, I rarely have an issue with vehicles here.  The rest of the way into Bothell has a nice shoulder and is the safest place to ride as I am still visible.  Coming north, there is a downhill run to the overpass and the traffic and lights don’t often agree with each other, so even though there are lanes entering and exiting and appearing and disappearing bike lanes, I take the right hand lane and move with the traffic.
Bothell to Kirkland – Right now this is all kinds of fun.  Bothell is doing major renovations, the roads are dug up and there are new cone configurations every day.  I avoid it and jump on a nearby MUT to go south.  Going north traffic backs up for nearly a mile some days and I simply ride past them in the bike lane/shoulder instead of waiting for some impatient motorist to run me over because I am preventing them from moving forward ten feet.  After that, south bound, there is a nice bike lane that eventually gives out dropping down a hill with two lanes of traffic.  As it is downhill and there are two lanes, I take the right lane, staying out far enough to discourage a vehicle from sharing it with me and where I can be seen by vehicles on the right side drives and streets.  The reverse route is not so good as the bike lane just ends in the middle of the street, traffic is heavy through poorly set up lights and I again ride in the right hand lane far enough out to be seen.  If I get a honker or buzzer, this is normally where I see it, but I have never come close to being hit because someone didn’t see me.  Bike lanes pop up here and there, but for the most part are beside parked cars so I either don’t ride in them at all or don’t ride in them deeply.  Going north through Kirkland is one of the few places I split the lane of cars and move up.  The lights are so poorly set up that it is safer for me to make my way to the front of the line of vehicles and then move into the bike lane on the other side of the intersection, then trust them to see me.
Kirkland to Bellevue – The south end of Kirkland has a good bike land in both directions that is safe and keeps me out of the single lane of traffic.  Approaching Northrup there is a left turn in heavy traffic.  If I can cross safely while in motion I will, otherwise I pull into a nearby parking lot and wait for traffic to clear before making my way to the left turn lane.  Going up Northrup there isn’t a shoulder or lane or sharrow and it’s uphill, so can be a bit challenging, but I hold a line as far right as I can be, occasionally pulling into a parking lot if I can hear a bus or big truck laboring up the hill behind me.  This is more of a courteous thing.  Going past the hospital there are again two lanes, so I take up the right hand one and make my way to work.
I have the same route every day, but really there are only so many versions of similar scenarios.  I look at it from a SPVL model.  Where is the safest place for me to be, what do the vehicles expect me to do, where can I be seen, is it legal.  I will ride assertively (holding up several cars to safely pass through a construction zone or other area), but courteously as well (pulling over when it’s safe to do so and let those cars by).  I ride by the Golden Rule.  If I was a driver and saw myself on a bike, would I be happy about where and how I was riding?
The people in vehicles that scare me are the ones that aren’t driving; they are talking on their phone, playing with their stereo, watching the birds, whatever.  The people on bicycles that scare me are the ones riding in the gutters and on sidewalks or trying to behave like a car in every instance.  Gutter riding is rarely needed but neither are you a car.  Ride safely, ride predictably, be visible, follow the rules of the road and we will all get there safely.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tortoises are not aerodynamic - March 31, 2011

They aren’t, but they should be.  I mean look at their shells.  They are flat on the bottom, often with great wind channels.  They have a nice narrow profile and smooth air flow over the top of their shells, with a minimization of turbulence down the back over an elongated end point.  With a low center of gravity and all wheel drive, they should be tearing it up in the animal kingdom, but they don’t.
Apparently human tortoises don’t either.  I discovered another hybrid species of humans.  I have often chased down the rabbits and seen the jack-asses, but this morning I discovered this new species. 
They seem to be commuters like me for the most part and like their animal counter-parts are loaded down with either a back-pack or panniers much like the shell of a tortoise.  Unlike rabbits which tend to move quickly for short periods of time, human tortoises seem to have one pace (slow) that they are able to maintain regardless of terrain or conditions.
This morning was a wonderful, windy commute.  With the promise of rain in the forecast I took my winter bike and drove part way.  Maybe it was the light traffic or just good timing, but I ended up being on my bike ten minutes ahead of schedule.  No argument from me as I refuse to push hard into a wind, especially one that is 15 to 20 miles per hour.
I had seen the telltale flash of another poor cyclist battling the wind ahead of me, but I had it firmly in my head that I wasn’t chasing anyone down or battling the wind any harder than I needed to.  Imagine my surprise when I found myself quickly catching up to them.  It was my first tortoise.
Granted they had a bulky pannier and we were into the wind.  They also had what looked like a good solid (read heavy) commuter with nice wide tires.  But seriously!  They were in their second lowest gear doing maybe 6 mph…on a flat section of road!  I hope they didn’t have far to go.  Granted they made it up a 5% slope, but if they had too much further they would hit an 8% and I worry they wouldn’t make it up.
After waiting for traffic, I passed them and carried on my way still cursing at the wind.  I pedaled down a steep slope barely above a pace I could normally keep on the flats.  Still grumbling about the wind (and still not hurrying) I started up Market Street hill.  There is not one, but two blinking lights ahead of me.  The first one is pretty darn close and even though I can see they are standing up (in a very easy gear) I’m catching up quickly.
I pass the back-pack burdened tortoise, happy to have a brief respite from the wind and noticed that the other cyclist had disappeared over the top of the hill.  Good to see someone who is not moving like the two cyclists in the new species I discovered.
At the crest of the hill, I found myself back in the full brunt of the wind and pedaled my way down the hill.  Without trees or buildings for protection, the wind along the lake was brutal.  Again, I was ahead of schedule and not fighting the wind.  Apparently I was putting more effort in then the new cyclist that appeared ahead of me.  Ah! It was the one that had made good time up Market Street, but now they were in a super-easy gear at maybe 10mph on the flats.  I pulled around and figured if I was breaking the wind they would probably keep up in my draft.  Maybe it was the panniers slowing them down or maybe it was the tortoise effect, but they quickly dropped off my wheel and I was once again alone.
I don’t know how to feel about the new tortoise-humans.  It’s great that they are out biking.  It’s great that I won’t feel inclined to spend energy chasing them down , but I worry that I will have to try and get around them on a busy street or they will pull their tortoise shell asses in front of me at an intersection. 
Really, I’m not the fastest person and some days slow and steady doesn’t win the race.  Even though they look the part, tortoises really aren’t aerodynamic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I wish it would make up it's mind - March 29

The weather that is.  It's not even the weather, it's the inability of the forecasters to tell me what it is likely to do in the next 6 hours and be right.  I don't think it's their fault, it's the area.  The weather is...variable.

Why am I grumbling about it?  Because I took my winter bike to work two days running when there was a 90% chance of rain on all three sites I check, only to get up and find there not only isn't any rain, but the roads are dry.  I guess I shouldn't be greedy, it could be snowing or have hurricane like winds, but I need to get some miles in.

I have about 9 weeks of training before my big ride of the year and that means the Ibis and that means mostly dry roads (I won't hold out for sunshine).  Patience Scott.  Even with a very eventful May, I'm aiming to get in around 1200 miles (that plus some cool prizes from Cascade) or more.  I wouldn't mind being closer to 1500, then some more miles in the beginning of June before a week of rest preceding my ride.  Of course I will take as many miles soon as the weather clears up!

Other quick notes: I've gotta learn to leave the damn rabbits alone, I shaved most of the hair off my head, I don't understand why vehicles feel the need to pull into the bike lane when they are stopping in traffic and I want some sun!

Done rant.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24 - We had spring

For three whole days; and now it's gone.

I was able to use those days and get some miles in.  Depending on how the weather goes for the rest of the month, I should be close to 700 miles for the month and 1500 for the year.  I know repetitive, too bad!

I have some things to work on, but overall my jump into summer training has gone well.  I have been averaging around 19mph, 90rpm and 250 watts for my rides.  I started fine tuning my pedal stroke a bit and while it is going to take some new muscle memory to perfect, it should keep down fatigue as well as pick up my power.

The other thing I am still needing to work on is pacing myself and not chasing down the rabbits.  Part of that is the sudden increase in traffic levels.  You wouldn't know that gas prices are rising based on the volume of cars out wandering around.  Must be the economy getting better.  The increase in traffic means more aggressive drivers and means that I end up exerting myself to stay safer.

Oh who am I kidding!  The little human rabbits are my weakness.  I see the flashing red lights (or better yet none-meaning they are too worried about weight to put one one) ahead of me and it calls to me to chase it down.  The non-commuters are the worst.  They are probably home from work and doing a quick 8-10 mile loop of some hills.  They might have a phone and spare tube, but I am packing half my life with me and still I am driven to catch them.

I really need to get over it.  I need to ride my ride at my pace for my benefit and allow them to run away from me...even if they have a team kit on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making some headway - March 22, 2011

I preposted my  mileage for tomorrow – something I don’t do very often, but I was very excited to have over 150 miles in the last few days.  Obviously some days in the summer coming up, I may have that many on a single day, but considering the weather I will take that as a good number.
Over 500 miles this month!  I should end up between 650 and 700 by the end of the month which is slightly higher than I targeted.  Considering I was under target the last two months, I will take it!
Two of those rides were simply nicer weather allowing me to take the Ibis from home.  The other ride however was sort of a test run at a possible commute trip if/when our offices move later this summer.   I had a good ride and got a feel for the roads and route.  I was able to pick up my FIL for the second half and he pointed me in the direction of alternate routes and short cuts.
That is one nice thing with the route, there are lots of bail outs if I’m running behind, because I’m slow that day, blow a tire, etc.  I did learn a number of things, some which are good to know and others that will force changes:
Nike hill is steep no matter which side you approach it from, one side is just shorter.  At 50mph my bike hops due to a slightly out of round tire.  Do not descend Nike hill over 50mph on hopping wheels!  The hill behind Shoreline is not that big of a deal when you have ridden fixed gear all winter and suddenly have gears.  130th North Seattle is in bad need of paving.  I am not sure how cars get up and down 125th in LFP and 123rd is the better option to safely descend.  The climb at the end of my ride behind 3rd Place books is going to be a challenge if there are other riders out, I may hurt myself chasing them down.  205th going home *shudder* I need to find a different route.  The Interurban will be a nice way to get home in the evening.
The route to work is about 38 miles (depending on any changes) with 3200’ of climbing and should take me about 2.5 hours depending on traffic.
I have also discovered that while I was able to moderate my pace during the winter, I will need to learn that all over again on the Ibis.  It just wants to go fast.
Aiming for 800-900 miles for April and over 2000 for the year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 - Woo Hoo!

I got there a little later than I wanted to, but I crossed over 1000 miles recently.  Even if I didn’t change my riding between now and the end of the year, I would still be over 5000 miles.  Of course I am still aiming to be at 10,000. 
A few things this last week: I had the day of the old Ford trucks.  I don’t know what it was but I must have had 15 to 20 drive past me all within half an hour.  It was like everyone decided to go hunting after work all on the same day; weird.  I had very few rabbits to catch, in fact there was only one, and though he was a quick one I caught him before he turned.  I’m wondering if it has been the torrential rain and howling winds that have kept people off their bikes in the last little bit.
I have a small section of the BG that I ride right now because they have the road that I would normally take all torn up, with temporary lines and flashing lights and construction cones.  Not a place I want to be.  Anyhow, in the afternoon there are often a number of walkers, joggers and other bikes on the path I slow down for my safety and theirs.  I really don’t think that fast moving cyclists belong on MUTs, but that’s a different thread.  A cyclist goes past me in the opposite direction at probably 20mph and says “there’s morons on the trail up ahead”. 
Well thanks.  Seeing how fast he were moving and expecting that may have been part of the issue, I didn’t think much of it.  Bad me.  As I came around one of the corners there were a group of kids/teenagers on long-boards and BMX bikes, four in total.  They were all the way across the trail, so as I came up behind them I called out an “on yer’left”.  And…nothing.  No one moved.  Ah, these must be the morons.
The two kids on the long-boards looked like they were shooting video from their phones.  I let them know again that I was behind them and one of them turned around to look at me, but still no one moved.  I watched as a jogger coming the other way stepped off the trail to go around them with a shrug to me as well.  Screw this!  I waited until one of boarders drifted a bit and rode between him and one of the bikes.
I heard a chorus of “heys” and the guy on the bike moved to cut me off, but I held my line.  He caught my rear tire with his front and I’m not sure if he went down, but at that point I didn’t care.  I was grumbling about “those kids” before I stopped and remembered they were the exception.  I had passed two other collections of kids in the previous days and they had all cleared a path for me once they knew I was there.   
In other news the click is fixed.  Still not sure what it is/was, but on my ride this morning it was gone.  Speaking of rides this morning, I rode the Ibis in and will ride it back out; from home.  I am in better shape compared to this time last year, but I’m way off the mark for how I finished the season up.  That and I have to learn how to go slow all over again.  I made great time getting to work this morning, but I am going to feel it for the next few days.
I hope that we start to see nicer weather.  The roads still have a lot of sand left over from the winter on them, and a little rain causes that to kick up into my drive chain, so until the streets are cleaned I am really only willing to ride on dry days.  Maybe we are finally done with the gloom and doom of this winter.  I certainly hope so.
Oh, and: DAMN my road bike is fast!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The "click" - March 8, 2011

No this isn't some new superhero.  It is the sound that my front wheel is making.

It is a once per rotation sound that is fairly quiet and only happens when the wheel is loaded.  Initially I had thought maybe a bearing and asked my LBS to look at it.  Initially they were unable to find it, but when we tried again in a quieter area with the wheel under load they heard it.

My LBS is great!  They tried a number of things but were unable to correct the issue.  My biggest concern was that it was a bearing that would suddenly seize, probably when I was doing 50 mph down a hill in traffic.  I have been assured that this won't happen...probably.  Without any charge for an hour of tinkering (or solution) I was assured that it would be fine unless it got worse.

I posted the question to the couple of boards that I keep up with and had a whole range of possibilities that were suggested, many that I was able to quickly discard or didn't apply because of the type of spokes and nipples that I have.  There were four that I found possible: an un-round bearing about to seize, a crack in the rim weld, a loose skewer or a spoke nipple slipping.  I added a fifth myself after some extensive research which could be a crack in the plastic bearing shield.

I hope its the simple skewer.  If it's the bearing or rim; ACK!!  That would be bad on the downhill-fast scenario.  If I can't correct this with the skewer then I will have to get the wheel in to be rebuilt.  FUN!  The worst part is we are back to the Seattle drip, so I won't be able to test it anytime soon, and I fear that once it clears up I will be without my bike while I'm getting this dealt with.

The up-side is, once corrected I should be good to roll another 15,000 miles on these wheels.

Oh and the other up-side is, I got a chance to ride it (thus discovering the click).  It was very, very nice to be back on my race bike!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

February flop - March 3, 2011

Between a broken bike and snow, the end of February was dismal for mileage ridden.  Not good, the first two months of the year and I am already behind 100 miles for my targets.  The upside is, the weather is getting nicer, there are a lot more work days in March and I hope to get on my summer bike a couple of times.  My goal is 600 miles this month…we will see.
I had a successful foray into a new/old steel frame.  Bike Works is a non-profit in Seattle and takes in donated bikes, teaches kids in the area how to recondition them and then helps them build their own.  They have a warehouse where they store the bikes before reconditioning.  I found a mid-line, mid-80s Schwinn for next to nothing.  After a quick swap of components (the ones on the bike where garbage) I was back in business.
“Take2”(name of the bike) has a little more aggressive handling but weighs a couple of pounds more.  It’s fine as a winter commuter but lacks the softness of the Motobecane.  After a couple of glitches with bolts needing to retightened, it has been good enough to get me to and from work.  I figure the extra weight will only help me with my winter training.
My biggest hope is that the weather will cooperate and I can take the Ibis out on Sunday for a quick ride.  I need to shake out any mechanicals after the winter and repairs and get little things done like my computer set back up to the bike.  I know it’s spring because I not only do I have an itch to get this done, but I made my commute both ways yesterday in the daylight.