Saturday, December 30, 2006
I'm know I'm not telling you fixie freaks anything new, but it's all new to me, so I thought I would share.
Cory also has some mad Photoshop skills. Notice in this picture he made it appear as If I was not wearing a helmet. It has to be Photoshop, because I always wear a helmet. Always.
Apparently I've turned into a moron (or am trying to turn myself into a moron). I never noticed during the whole ride. Didn't even notice when I got home. It's one of those things that make you go "Hmmm". For now, I'll blame it on all of the other cold weather gear.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I had a couple of fixie moments when I instinctively tried to bunny hop obstacles. That just don't work on a fixie. I'll figure it out.
I did about three hours of gravel/urban assualt. I stopped by the LBS to hear their exclaimations of "Cool Bike". When you can get a bike mechanic to say "Cool Bike", you've got something.
I am really pleased with the way this bike came together. It's really fun to ride.
BTW, I can skid a fixie. OK, it's on a gravel driveway, but it's a start. More too come.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Here’s what been happening. I went out early on Sunday (Christmas Eve) for a great frozen trail ride. I left early to catch the still frozen trails (note to self – if the sun is out, get done by 10:30). Other that some frosty roots ands rocks, the conditions were perfect for this time of year. Here are some pictures from the ride:
Here's how I roll this time of year. Notice the clear cockpit. No computer, no HRM, and no GPS. Just out for a ride, having fun.
A new tree down. I hope the deer hunter wasn't in the stand when it went down.
I finally got the Surly Steamroller fixie project together, and went for the first ride today (it is a Christmas present to myself). What a treat to ride this piece of simplicity! Here are some pictures of the completed bike:
Christy also got me a set of rollers for Christmas. I went for my first roller ride tonight. I didn’t fall, but I was close a couple of times. It will be good to add this to my workout regime.
January 1st is coming soon. On January 1st I start my season in earnest. OK, I’ve started the season already. But on January 1st, I take the next step.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Today I had my first massage. I was great! If you've never had one, treat yourself. Its not only treat, but it has real benefits, and aids in recovery. And at $25/hour, it's not that expensive.
As a random note, when standing on Mount Krump at JingleCross with 150 other nut jobs, umm, fans, I noticed that I didn't see one overweight person in the crowd. When was the last time you stood in a crowd of 150 Iowans, and didn't see an overweight person in the bunch? Try that experiment at Walmart.
Another random note. The Steamroller fixie project is coming along nicely. I might have some pictures this week.
As a final note, I weighed 194.8 lbs this morning. It's a major victory, breaking through resistance at 195. I've been hanging out in the 198-195 range for about 5 weeks (its hard to lose weight this time of year). In my experience, once you break through resistance, more droppage will follow. Lou has inspired me. I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I went to the gym on Friday to lift (I’m kinda digging on the weightlifting). On Saturday I went on a 3-hour gravel/urban (as urban as Ames gets) ride with me, myself, and I. With temps in the 50s, it was perfect December weather, and it was a good time to think about some things going on at work (which I won’t bore you with).
I was thinking of doing little to nothing on Sunday, when an IORCA post caught my eye. I thought, “I should do that”, so I did. I showed up at Starbucks and introduced myself to Lou. Shortly after that Kim, Jane, and Rick Noyes got there, and were off to Booneville, via gravel. That is, after we cleared the city. Those city folks sure have to do a lot of riding to get to gravel.
The gravel was nice, with my HR around 135. This is what LSD should be. Then we hit the hills. Regular readers will remember that hills are my weak point. I still suck at climbing. I’m working on it (196 lbs this morning), but I still suck at climbing. At one point, when climbing a particularly steep hill, I found my maximum heart rate (it’s 184 for those of you scoring at home). I put it there and kept it there for at least a minute. It hurt. But the alternative was walking, ‘cause I had run out of gears. I wasn’t gonna do that.
We got back to Des Moines, and rode through some areas that I didn’t even know existed. Even Kim commented that he hadn’t ridden in one of the areas before. Lou said his knowledge of urban riding areas was the fault of, “Spending too much time on a bike”.
I chatted with Lou some, and he has become my new inspiration. During last season, I attributed my inability to keep up with, “I’m to old to be fast”, and “I’m to tall/big to be fast”. Lou dispels both of those notions. He’s 46 years old, and is 6’5”. Damn, there goes most of my excuses. I’ve still got, “I’m too fat to be fast”, but that isn’t a real excuse, because it can be fixed. I’m working on it.
For the weekend I got 6 ½ hours on the bike, and 7 ½ total hours. That’s pretty good for a weekend in December.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
I'm not a big fan of Internet chain letters, but this is more about self-exploration. I guess the idea is to expose a little more of yourself than you normally do, and to let something out that you wouldn't normally say. Here goes:
- I plan to retire from my current job at age 55. I'm 47 now. I don't know what I will do after that.
- I would choose Mary Ann over Ginger.
- I move to a new hobby (obsession) about every 5 years. My current obsession is cycling/mountain biking/cyclocross (does that count as three separate hobbies?). I always think that this obsession is the "real thing" for me, but it never lasts. Some of my previous obsessions have included golf (several times), gardening, cooking, the Blues (I was in a band for a while), beer brewing, computers, online gaming, motocross, and stock trading.
- I've been married three times. The first two lasted four years each.
- I've lived in the same house, and had the same job for 23 years. At least something is consistent in my life.
- Family is very important to me. At times, I've lost sight of that. I think I've got it figured out now.
There. That was refreshing. I feel better.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The prize table was second to none. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen more stuff on a swag table.
Matt came into the biking checkpoint first.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I just talked to Cory, and he said he has so much stuff to give away that he is going to have to drive a car to McFarland! I've NEVER seen Cory drive a car, so you can imagine how much stuff he is bringing.
MackyDu fever . . Catch it! We'll see you all tomorow.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
"Thanks for writing back. I have been wanting a Follis bike for years being that I am a Follis. In 2003, I was stationed in Germany and went to Lyon, France where they are made. However they are custom made only and I, as a soldier, could not convince my wife that I needed a $1000.00 bike because it would be an heirloom. The way I found your blog started in 2004 while deployed to Iraq. Feeling death was imminent and that I would like the children to know about the Follis bicycle heritage in Europe, I created a Google alert for anything to do with "Follis and bike" hoping to find a bike. Until your site appeared in my inbox, I had no leads."
"Free to Good Home". Needless to say, I'm going to find a way to get the bike to him. We're working out the details.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The 2007 season started for me tonight. But we're not to the confession yet. You'll have to be patient.
My plan was to take the last part of October and all of November off. I can check that off my list. I rode some during that time, and even raced a few times, but it was all for fun.
I started the 2007 season tonight because I joined a gym. I've got free weights in the basement that I used last year, and I've got a trainer that I've used in previous years with some success. This year I'm trying to bump things up a notch, and drop a few pounds. That, and the gym deal was too good to pass up ($20 for 3 months, with half going to the Ames Cross Country team).
So, I went to the gym tonight for the first time in a long time. It's a good gym. They've got three locations in Ames, and their equipment is top-notch. When I signed up, I didn't realize that that they had a "cycling studio", full of LeMond Revmasters.
Here comes the confession. I went to a spinning class in the "cycling studio". I was a little apprehensive, but it was pretty cool, and it was definitely a good workout. We did many short intervals (less that a minute), some with high cadence, some with very high cadence (she was asking for 120+), and some muscle tension intervals. I thought I was going to die during the early high cadence, out of the saddle stuff. But I really liked the low cadence, muscle tension stuff. My t-shirt was soaked at the end of the hour, and I don't think my HR dropped below 155 during the hour (and was frequently above 170). I've ridden enough to retain some muscle tone, but I've definitely lost cardiovascular fitness during my down time. I'm OK with that. There's plenty of time to get that back. I'm more interested in muscle recruitment at this point. I still plan on riding outside on Saturday mornings. Except this Saturday morning, when I expect to see you all at MackyDu!
Maybe Cory and I will have to do our ride on Sunday this week. Anybody else wanna go?
Monday, December 04, 2006
Don't be frightened; this is my new Outdoor Research Gorilla Balaclava. I don't know why they named it after a ground dwelling herbivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. Regardless, it is toasty warm. I haven't taken it out on a ride yet, but Cory has given it a ringing endorsement.
Speaking of Cory, his MackyDu race is this weekend. Nothing would make me smile more than to see a huge crowd of nutjobs, err riders, at McFarland this Saturday. The forecast is calling for temps near 40. That's like suntan weather folks! Get out there!
One more note. I had previously talked about renovating my Follis as a fixie. I tried. I really, really tried. I was willing to sand/repaint the frame, and I was willing to deal with the French threads. What did me in was the frame size. It just didn't fit . Remember, I bought this bike when I was 14 (at the time I didn't even know bikes came in different sizes). It's top tube measures about 56 cm. For now, it is a piece of abstract art on the wall of my shop. If you need a 56cm fixie frame in need of some TLC, let me know (free to good home).
I still need (want) a fixie, so I bought a slightly used 59 cm Surly Steamroller frame on RoadBikeReview.com. Sweet! Details to come.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I rode to Ada Hayden and met up with Cory. We tooled around a little waiting for Matt (he was the smart one in the bunch and didn't show). Then we headed north into the teeth of the wind. It was not too painful, except for my face, which really hurt. Even with the ski goggles, I was getting a bad case of brain freeze. Cory was wearing some kind of full face mountaineering gear, and look like a cross between a ninja and the invisible man. He said it was toasty warm. I gotta get me one.
After a few miles I wimped out and we turned east, with the wind. Going with the wind was much better. We sat up, chatted, and enjoyed the ride. We briefly considered riding east for 20-30 miles, then calling Christy to come and get us, but instead turned into the back side of the McFarland prairie. I rode part way across the prairie with Cory, then turned around and headed for home. It sounds like I missed some excitement shortly after that. Yesterday, when I warned about deer season, this wasn't exactly what I was worried about.
Even though I wimped out, I got in almost 2 hours on the bike. And, with wind chills in the -10 to -15 range, also got some pretty big suffer points (for those of you scoring at home).
Today was the first day I used the little had warmer packets in my shoes. I wouldn't say my feet were warm, but they didn't get as painfully cold as they have in the past. After I was done with them, Christy put them in her socks for the rest of the day. I think they're still putting out heat for her. For the price of a gel ($1.25), they're worth it.
I wonder how the Team 14 guys are doing in KC at the 'cross races? With the snow KC got earlier this week, KC should be good and sloppy, just like Thad likes it.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Then I remembered, tomorrow starts three weekends of shotgun deer season. Trust me, you don't want to be in the woods with those guys. It's sounds like a war out there. And if you must go into the woods, wear bright colors, and leave your antler hat at home.
Let me know if you are coming (515-290-7789), so we don't leave you behind.
Oh, and dress warm (22 degrees at 10:00 with a gusty northwest wind). It's time to break out the cold weather gear.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
We got there about an and hour and 20 minutes before my race (cat 3/4), so I was little rushed getting ready (I like to take my time). Since I didn't have much time, something had to give.
At race time I ran through my mental checklist:
- No real warm-up. Check.
- No pre-ride of a tricky, technical course. Check.
- No real 'cross-specific training. Check. (OK, I did ride on grass once this week).
- No real cardio training of any kind in the last month or so. Check.
So, after going through the checklist, I sized up my competition. Rob, Kyle, Jay, Marco, Dominic, Dennis, and Andy were there, to name a few. Looking at them I started to think I was in the wrong race. I checked my USAC license. Yup, still cyclocross cat. 4. Damn. I guess I'm in the right place.
I started off in the back, to save other the trouble of passing me. It worked. I cut a few blistering nine minutes laps. The best Christy had to offer was "You're staying consistent!". She always finds something positive in any situation. The run-up on Mount Krumpit really hurt, but the crowd on Mount Krumpit was great! There is nothing like hot chicks screaming the top of their lungs to motivate you. They even offered cookies on the last lap. More on Mount Krumpit later.
As best as I could tell I finished DFL in 50th place. But I finished. No matter how much it hurt, I was going to finish. There are several others behind me in the results, because they didn't finish. I did.
After the race I popped a cold one, and Christy and I hiked up Mount Krumpit to watch the elite races. What a cool place to watch a 'cross race. We hung out on the hill with the loonies that had previously been cheering me on. It didn't take long until we were assimilated by the loonies, and were screaming encouragement to the racers. It was cool.
Much respect to the promoters of this event, and to everyone that raced in this event. Best DFL I've ever had.
Friday, November 24, 2006
On the bright side, each nice day gets us one day closer to spring. In four short weeks the days will start getting longer.
I didn't ride at all yesterday (had a house full of people all day), but got out early on the MTB for a couple of hours of fun riding, then got the 'cross bike out after that for another hour of grass riding and barrier work. I found out that my HR jumps 10 BPM every time I do a set of barriers. After the riding was done, Keaton and I hung outdoor Christmas lights, and then cut and split firewood until dark.
Tomorrow I am planning on doing some morning gravel with Cory. I'm going to try to convince him to go easy on me, so I have something left for JingleCross on Sunday.
Noonan's blog had a description of the JingleCross course along with some video. It looks like the course has it all, sand, mud, fast descents, and evil run-ups. I just hope the rain stays away for the weekend. Some guys like 'cross in the mud. I wonder if I'm one of them?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Which bring me to my point. Find something for which you're thankful. For me it's not too hard. I've got a great wife, great kid, great family, great friends, great team, and great people to ride and race with. I am a lucky, lucky man and I am living a dream. It's easy to lose site of that sometimes. It's good that we have a day that causes us to think about stuff like that.
OK, enough with the serious stuff. I'm going to ride as much as I can during the long weekend. I'm going to try to get some barrier/cross practice in tomorrow, I might go to Boone on Friday, Cory and I are doing the another 50 miles of gravel on Saturday (meet at Ada Hayden north parking lost at 10:00 am Saturday if you are interested, but let me know, so we don't leave without you), and I'll be going to Jingle Cross to race the TriCross for the first time on Sunday. So much for a restful November.
Speaking of Cory, it sounds like he's rounded up a bunch of sponsors/schwag for his Macky Du benefit race next month (December 9th). Read more about here. I've also added a link to the right column. This race will raise money to buy bikes for underprivileged kids. No kid should be without a bike.
It's gonna be a great long weekend. Go ride your bike!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I had mostly forgotten about this bike, but dug it out of storage to steal its drop bars when doing the Rig Alley Cat conversion.
When Cory was at my place on Saturday as we were preparing for Cranksgiving, he took one look at the poor, abused bike and said "Looks like a fixie project bike". I quickly dismissed his comment as lunacy.
After hanging out this weekend at Cranksgiving, with the all the cool kids riding fixies, I went home and did some reading. I read about the training benefits, the basic connection to the bike, and the fun of the very simplest form of cycling. I also did a little thinking about some way I could make this happen.
As it turns out, (and as Cory's sharp eye quickly noticed) this bike is a good candidate for a fixie conversion. It has a steel frame and horizontal rear dropouts.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I had done a little map studying the night before, to get a feel for the terrain. I was mostly unfamiliar with that part of Des Moines, so I didn’t know what to expect. My map work had shown a wealth of convenience stores to the North and East of the Mars Café. When Donny handed out maps in the pre-race meeting, his map had most stores as South and West of the Mars Café. Hmm. Go with the plan? My general inclination is to zig when most other people zag, and to the travel the road less traveled. I stuck with my plan, and got my wish.
I made several tactical blunders before/leading up to the race. The first was bringing my Rig in its wounded state (seized bottom bracket). I was stuck with 32x16 gearing, and I was slow. The second blunder was to zig when everyone (I mean everyone) else was zagging. They can’t all be wrong. Most all of them LIVE IN THIS TOWN. I don’t.
I went east at the start when most went west. I was going to stop at the first convenience store, but after waiting for traffic, there was at least ten people waiting with me. So I continued east on University with almost no one following. I just caught a glimpse of Squirrel heading south on a side street. I briefly debated following him, as he is the best alley cat rider I know, but I stuck to the plan. It was to be my final tactical blunder of the day. After that, I was doomed to a slow finish, and an interesting ride. I did see a part of Des Moines that I don’t normally see. At least I lived through it. If you are going to make these kind of mistakes, do it in the offseason!
At the awards ceremony, I hung out with some cool people, had a good time, and enjoyed the day. Oh, and I didn’t win the Surly Steamroller frame. That was a relief. I was afraid that my winning ways would become a curse.
I’m going to Seven Oaks tomorrow to ride a few laps if anybody is interested. Chuck says the trails are in perfect condition.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Tonight I put an old (vintage 1974) set of drop bars that I had laying around.
I had to bungle together a way a way to get a brake handle on the bars (using zip ties). I also wrapped the bars in friction tape. Now were getting some skank. I was gonna swap out the fork for a rigid, but ran out of time.
We see how it goes this weekend. Note to self - take spare zip ties.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Mark you calendars (Saturday December 9th, 10:00 AM).
I am planning on racing in Donny's Cranksgiving race on Saturday. The race favors an urban bike. I’m a rural guy, with rural bikes, so I’m in somewhat of a quandary. I figured the Rig was my best bet.
Tonight I was cleaning and inspecting the Rig. I put on some slicks, and was planning on changing the gearing from 32x16 to something higher. After changing the gearing, I tried to adjust the EBB, and it would not budge. Hmm. I got a punch out and tried to move the EBB wedge from the other side. The EBB wedge now has two holes in it. Hmm. At that point I gave up and put the 16-tooth rear back on. (Even that was a struggle).
Because of the EBB trouble I will be going slow on Saturday, but that was probably going to be the case anyway. At least I have an excuse. See you then.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
It was to be the first gravel ride for both our bikes; my new Tricross, and his LeTour fixie. The plan was to meet at Ada Hayden at 10:00. On my ride to Ada Hayden the gravel was perfect. It was just slightly moist and not a all sloppy.
I got to Ada Hayden a little early so I stopped to take a picture.:
Enjoy the bike cleanliness. It would not last. Oh, and don't tell Donny I put water bottle brackets on it. He says that "pussifies" a cross bike.
When Cory got there we took off to the north to Story City by way of Gilbert. The gravel continued to be in pretty good shape. Then we turned east into Story City and everything turned to slop. This picture doesn't do it justice, but that's because I was afraid to take a hand of the bars to snap a pic in the real slop.
As the temps got above freezing, the road continued to soften. In some places it was great, in some places, total slop. Oh well, we had fun.
My new bike is now officially broken in:
Don't worry. I washed it right after I took this picture. Oh, the new setup from Donny was great. There were no ill effects from the new saddle height in 2.5 hours of riding. I will attempt to transfer that fit to my other bikes (I now have six).
Friday, November 10, 2006
The first step was to confirm measurements from the initial fitting, and take a couple of additional body measurements (thigh length, number of teeth, distance from the sun. OK, kidding about the last two - but it was very thorough) . We then talked about and tried a couple of different stem lengths/angles/heights. No surprises so far.
My current (low) saddle height was a result some IT band trouble that I had experienced last winter. I did a little research and found that improper seat height could cause the problem. I got a saddle height formula from a book somewhere, and set all my bikes according to the formula. It felt low, but I didn't want to change too much, because it was from a book, so it must be good. To compensate, I had moved my saddle way back in the rails. It felt weird. The new saddle height feels much more natural and powerful. In reviewing Donny's measurements, I measured my inseam wrong, so that threw everything else off.
The other big change Donny made was to move my cleat position forward on the shoe, under the balls of my feet. I'd never really given my cleat position much thought, but I can feel the difference.
Donny also gave me a few things to watch for when trying out the new setup, and told me to call if I had any questions or problems. We then swapped out of few of the parts (seat and tires), and I was on my way home with my pretty new ride.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Now, I'm exhausted. I barely have the strength to type. I don't think one Cliff bar was enough food for the ride. I came home and slumped into a catatonic state. When I came to, I was sitting in the dark. When Christy came home, she said, "Are you OK? You look like you're gonna puke." For the record, I didn't.
So far, it's been a great offseason. I got 12 hours of riding in during the past 5 days.
I think I'll go eat something now.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Because of the time change, it gets darks real early, so the only way I was going to get some riding in was to skip out of work early. Done.
Geared up and ready to go. Even at mid-afternoon, the sun sits low in the sky.
We're only 6 weeks away from the shortest day of the year.
I've switched my Oakley Half Jackets to the G30 lenses. With the low sun, and the glare all during the day, they are perfect. I don't even know they are there. I've gotten rid of all my other sunglasses and only wear my Half Jackets.
The beavers have been getting ready for Winter. Are you ready?
I made it before dark (just barely):
I got about two hours of riding in. For November, that's great. I plan on doing the same ride/same place tomorrow (temps will be in the 70s), if anybody is interested. I'll be riding in the afternoon. Contact me through the blog, or at 515-290-7789 if you are interested.