Bike security

My only rule: the bike is locked up unless I'm riding it. This includes in my garage as well as in the car.

In the garage, I lock my bike to my daughter's bike. It's one of those Barbie bikes, but it weighs more than mine does!

In the minivan, I loop a cable through both wheels & frame and then through a loop that is also used for securing the rear seat. Immediately after a ride I put the bike in the car and also lock it up.

At home I'm using an old U-lock with the circular key. This isn't the most secure lock, but the goal is to keep the bike from walking away. The lock in the car is a Kryptonite New York.

None of these precautions will stop a determined thief. The goal is to dissuade a casual smash-N-grab.


Tygh Valley century

This is the second time I did this route, both times with Kevin. Besides being out of shape, I was feeling it from yesterday and Kevin was feeling frisky. It was good to have to struggle with keeping up; I firmly believe that as painful as it may be, you always improve when riding with stronger riders.

White Creek

I think this is White Creek.

pretty falls

Some falls taken from close to the same vantage point as the photo above.

expansive view

Expansive view.

expansive view phase II

Expansive view phase II.

wagon wheel tracks?

Wagon-wheel tracks?


Hills, Headwinds, and Wild Turkey

Not quite a century, just a very scenic ride. We saw a wild turkey cross the road! It was the first time I had ever been up to Rowena Crest, the road was great. Not a drop of rain. I didn't push it too hard since I knew I had a century ahead of me the next day.

We started off from Hood River, out through Mosier to The Dalles. We stocked up on water and then headed East, then back into The Dalles. From there we took the MUP to the Rowena curves. The curves were a real good climb, never too steep but plenty long.
There was some pretty scenery along the way too.

The Columbia River from Rowena Crest

The Columbia River, looking East from Rowena Crest.

iconic shot from Rowena Crest

An iconic shot of the Rowena curves.


A fixer-upper

spooky tree

A spooky tree.


I shall call this island 'kenlandia!'



Lolo Pass on the last 80-degree day of the year

Today was probably the last day of the year that we will reach 80 degrees. It also was very sunny, so I decided to do a ride with great scenery. Larch Mtn was my other option, but I haven't done Lolo pass as often and there would be less traffic.

I initially planned on going out and back on the exact same route, but I haven't been on the bike for a few weeks so the legs weren't up to it. I did the easier route back which is partially on US26 so of course there's lots of traffic.

The scenery was beautiful of course. The weather was warm but it certainly cooled off by the time I got to the top of the pass. On the way down I ran into a few light sprinkles too; for a while there I was shivering.

Due to a fire, the road down to the east was closed, but this didn't affect me. Other than the general haze, I couldn't see any signs of the forest fire.

I wasn't going to set any records on this ride, so I took a few more pictures than I usually do:

Mt. Hood as seen from 'little Switzerland'

Mt. Hood as seen from 'Little Switzerland'

the Hood

"the Hood"

One thing I did differently on this ride from the last Lolo Pass ride is that I didn't use the handlebar bag. Everything went in the jersey pockets, and this worked out well for me. On the last Lolo Pass ride I noticed that the steering was a little sluggish; I presume that this was due to the weight of the full-loaded handlebar bag.

I started going pretty slow on the way back. I've only done two short rides in the last two weeks so I was really hurting by the end.



Lolo Pass

Sunny day, lots of company, challenging ride. I had done this ride only once before. At the time, my bike had a standard crank. This time I was using a compact, and it was much easier. The weather was better this time too. It was on the warm & humid side, my sweat glands sure got a workout: I wound up consuming almost six full water bottles.

The scenery was breathtaking:


The climbs were pretty tough but there was just about no traffic on most of the roads (ecept 26 of course) and the severe climbs were done mostly through the forest canopy.

Here's the route and some of my metrics. I discovered that the speed sensor on my GSC10 is dead so the metrics aren't 100% accurate.

This was a fantastic ride, I am planning on doing it again at least a few more times this year. I would rate it as a more enjoyable ride than Larch Mtn.


Back in the Saddle up Larch Mtn.

After six weeks off of the bike, today I turned myself inside out on Larch Mtn. I bonked so hard that I could barely pedal downhill, but it felt good.

This ride was a NW BOB Meetup, there was a picnic afterwards. Mark Hashizume and Paul Johnston manned restpoint at the Women's Forum Viewpoint and Larch Mtn. parking lot. Due to the heat of the day, these watering holes really made a difference and were greatly appreciated.

I checked my ride history for this exact same route and I was only off about 11 minutes from my best time. Interesting enough, most of that difference was in the downhill portion which goes to show just hard I bonked. Did I mention that I bonked?

During the ride I consumed a little over three full waterbottles, but that was not enough. I didn't realize how dehydrated I was until I finished the ride. After the ride I consumed a quart of Darigold's chocolate milk, a full waterbottle w/GU Brew, 2 beers and a bottle of plain water. After all that, I hardly urinated. I had a mild headache all afternoon and evening too.

This year I've been including chocolate milk in my post-ride routine and I feel it's really made a difference. We usually buy a flat of the Darigold mini-bottles at Costco. They're also great as a light snack, especially with a few fig newtons.

The post-ride picnic was great. I didn't socialize too much since I didn't really know many of the riders there, but the food was excellent.



Diary of a broken collar bone (clavicle)

Day 1: Broke collar bone. Pain was very intense, Percoset made me dizzy but barely blunted the pain. Miserable train ride back home, both physically & emotionally. It really hurt to see some STP riders getting in to Centralia as I rode by on the train...

Day 4: Very little pain (if any, really). Impressive bruise where I presume the bone actually broke. Still taking 1 Aleve every 12 hours, mostly for the pain in my left hip.

Day 7: Finally got the courage to look at my left hip. Huge plate-sized bruise. I am still experiencing stiffness in my left hip.

Day 9: Got on the stationary trainer (rollers will not be on the menu for a while). Legs felt great, it felt nice to sweat.

Day 14: Only taking Aleve at night. Switched to figure-eight support purchased from Brace Yourself. I regained use of my left arm, but experience much more pain & discomfort while driving due to jostling and movement, twisting my torso to check blind-spot and just generally trying to stay aware of my surroundings.

Day 16: Replaced my helmet. Got the same brand & model, Bell Achera, as my previous helmet.

Day 17: Unrelated but I dropped the bike off at the repair shop. The left shifter needs repair and I'll have them rebuild the right shifter, as well as a new headset and a few other things that I'll have them take care of while it's there.

Day 20: Off all pain meds completely. Able to sleep on my right side a little bit, obviously I won't be sleeping on my left side for quite some time. I can still only use my left arm for very light manipulation and need to go very slowly when performing major movements. My left shoulder was very itchy the other day, the type of itch you get when there is internal healing going on so I consider that a good sign. My left hip is still occasionally complaining. A few days ago I twisted my leg as I was going down some stairs. The movement shouldn't have been an issue but the left hip socket filed a greivance and it has been sensitive since. The discomfort is in the ball socket area and the surrounding tendons.

Day 22: Slept on my stomach last night. Wow, finally.

Day 25: I signed up for a few rides, one on the 20th of August (17 days away) and one on the 27th. Hoping to be up & at 'em by then. I'm still wearing the figure-8 sling but I notice that the bruising in my shoulder area is the same or maybe even worse. I might be wearing the sling too tight so I'll leave it entirely off today to help the circulation. The bruise on my hip is completely gone. My new helmet is on the shelf behind me as I type this, it is taunting me.

Day 29: No longer wearing any sling or support. I've been using my left arm much more than recent. I'm experiencing some mild pain, but it's the pain of not using it for several weeks and let's wake it up. Now that I think about it, the tendons probably also suffered some damage. The break doesn't hurt unless I do something I shouldn't, I'm also getting some discomfort in the gneral arm & shoulder area.

Day 31: First time I was able to get a T-shirt on since before the accident.

Day 35: Five weeks. The bone is not completely mended, but I don't have to utterly baby it either. Right now it seems that I just need to be aware of it and not do any hard labor with my left arm and everything will be fine. I'm still getting the kinks worked out of the various muscles, ligaments, and tendons that were tweaked. I also suspect that the shoulder healed with a slightly different alignment so it will take a while to grow into it.

The bike will be repaired early next week so I'll hop back on it after I pick it up. I'm also planning on doing a group ride up Larch Mtn. next Saturday.

Day 42, 6:30am. It's exactly six weeks, literally to the minute, since I fell. I picked the bike up from the shop yesterday. I only had a chance to do a quick ride around the block and all of the repairs really made a difference. In an hour I'm leaving for a group ride and I can't wait.


2011 STP

I'm typing this post one-handed due to a broken collar bone. About an hour into the ride, in Renton, I was second in a paceline. As we approached an intersection, a car approached from the right and our light changed to yellow. I think the guy in front of me was trying to decide whether or not to proceed, then he suddenly decided to stop. I was looking at the same car for just an instant and when my attention returned to the paceline leader, he had come to a rapid stop and I didn't have time to react.

I slammed into his left side pretty violently. I don't recall my exact trajectory but I apparently landed straight on my left side, I think I rolled a bit too. When I stopped, I was laying on my right side and I knew immediately that my collar bone was broken. It took me a while to get up.

One of the other riders helped me up and then called 911. First the police, then the firefighters, then the ambulance arrived. I wound up at Valley Medical Center where they did the usual tests & cleanup. I called my dad and he came down to pick me up and get me on Amtrak back home.

The leader was in pretty poor shape too. When I hit him I either broke or at least separated one of his ribs. He told me that he was having difficulty taking a deep breath and he was quitting the ride to head back home.

Holy cow did my helmet take a hit. The next day I noticed bruising & tenderness in the area of my left temple and if that was the impact point then the helmet spared me some serious dain bramage. Looking at the helmet it is obviously broken, but it fulfilled its prime directive by sacrificing itself for me.

Damage to the bike was several broken spokes in the front wheel and two of my brand-new brake pads were knocked out and missing. My favorite jersey got scuffed a bit in the back where I was carrying my spare tire, my saddle was torn up too. I haven't had a chance to go over the rest of the bike yet. Unfortunately I was too wrapped up in my own problems to ask what damage the other rider had but I think he was changing a flat tire as I rolled out in the ambulance.

So I'm off the bike for 4 to 6 weeks. I'll be getting on the trainer shortly, hopefully I can keep some of my fitness.

Lessons learned:

1. Trust no one unless you've ridden with them before. I got caught up in the excitement of my first STP when I should have instead contacted my regular riding buddies and left with them.

2. Don't get caught up in the excitement. I don't know if I'll even bother trying to do the STP in the future, I feel that I spent a lot of money for a pretty bad experience


McKenzie Pass

What a gorgeous ride. I had never done this before and am glad I got the chance. Three of us went up Saturday morning. The sky was crystal clear so we slathered on the sunscreen before leaving the Blue River Ranger Station.

The climb up was never steep, it was just relentless. Looking at the profile in Ascent, I think there's a stretch of at least 12 miles with literally not a single level spot on it. It certainly felt that way.

The view from the top was stunning. We climbed up to the very top of the observatory and hammed it up a bit:


Kevin: King of the Mountain

"I'm on top of the world Ma!"

We then headed down the other side to Sisters. I got ahead of the group and was blasting down the road. I glanced down to check my GPS and when I looked up the (closed) gate was practically right in front of me.

Oh snap.

Well, I obviously managed to stop in time but if I hadn't, the two riders just on the other side of the gate would have quite the story to tell of 'the time this guy flew 50 feet after hitting the gate!'

We made it in to Sisters and stopped to sit a bit, eat, and refill our water bottles. Then it was back on the road and upwards.

Kevin got a flat so Dave and I waited for him at the gate and then went up to the summit again. I still had a little pep in the legs so I tried to pick off all the rabbits and managed to get all but one.

We started back down with a group and I took the opportunity to ride with descenders that were much more skilled than I. I don't think I've ever had that much fun on a bike before, descending through the technical switchbacks in a fairly large group.

On the way back we stopped for pizza & beer, the perfect end to a perfect day.



Because it's there?

Why am I doing this? Quick answer: I don't know. I do enjoy some of the camaraderie of riding with people, but that doesn't happen very often. Probably more than 90% of my rides are solo; there aren't a lot of people out there who don't freak out at the question 'hey, wanna do a real quick century?'

I like the mechanical aspect of working on my bike, though I get occasionally frustrated with my lack of expertise in certain operations requiring a certain amount of 'muscle memory' or finesse. I'm continually fiddling around with my derailleur adjustments and they're still not where I want them; I think I could take it in to a shop and they'd have it set right in five minutes.

The tactics aspect of riding appeals to me but there really isn't any way to learn them as a cat 5. If I ever upgrade to cat 4 then I could ride the 3/4 races and really start learning. But as an ultra rider, tactics other than 'keep pedaling' aren't really necessary.

Biking certainly get me out of the house, and I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been in. I do have some regrets that I got into this so late in life and often wonder where I would be now if I had been this dedicated one or two decades ago? I'm not going to kid myself that I could have been a pro, although I certainly fantasize about that (who doesn't?) but I would certainly be a much better rider now.

Of course if I was riding the last two decades, who knows what toll that would have placed on my body? Would I replace the lung-searing effort of trying to keep up with the Cat 5 group with chronic neck pain?

What do I enjoy about riding? This may sound a bit arrogant but I slightly enjoy the feeling of superiority over weekend riders. Call me shallow and insecure if you'd like, you're probably right, but there it is.

I also like to think that I'm still on an upward curve as far as month-to-month improvements go. Maybe I'll get discouraged when I finally plateau, which should be in a year or two?



Death of a Topeak Road Morph

It looks like my Topeak Road Morph died sometime over the winter. I had a flat a few days ago and it wouldn't pump up when I needed it. I made an effort to keep the plunger lubricated over the winter, but a lot of road grit still got into it. Part of this may be that I don't have full fenders on my road bike, just a set of minimal clip-ons. The seat tube, where the pump is mounted, isn't protected and gets quite a bit of grit sprayed onto it. The failure wasn't something I'd chalk up to a manufacturing defect or design flaw, it was definitely due to blatant abuse.

The Road Morph has been replaced with a Lezyne Road Drive. The Lezyne looks like it is sealed much better; between the rubber caps and the internally-stored hose it should be less susceptible to getting road grit inside. I'll miss the inline pressure gauge, but that's an acceptable loss.

Now, you may be asking yourself how I got home if my pump didn't work? Simple answer is that I'm extremely paranoid and so I also carry a CO2 inflator in my saddle bag. Actually, I'm not that paranoid; I just have the CO2 there in case I get a flat on the way to work or in really bad weather that I want to get out of.



Why aren't tubular tires more popular?

Being a fairly recent convert to tubular tires, I wonder why they aren't more popular? The only disadvantage I can see is that they require more work for initial installation. After that, I feel that they are less work.

I currently have three wheelsets, all tubular. Two sets are basically the same, Mavic Reflex rims with bladed spokes and Campy hubs. One pair have Continental GP4000RS, the other pair have Tufo S33 Special (21mm). The third set is a Neuvation C50 with Tufo Elite Ride 23 tires.

I first tried tubulars when I got a good deal on a wheelset from craigslist. My initial idea was to just buy the wheels for the hubs (it was still a good price for a set of campy hubs) but when I saw that the rims were basically brand new I decided to get a set of tubular tires and try them out. Since it was winter, I started out with a pair of wide Tufo Elite Ride 25.

I got a little over 1000 miles before the rear tire blew up. It was definitely on it's last legs anyways as the under-layer was starting to show through the tread. During that time I only had one flat, and even that one was not a problem, I was inspecting the tires during routine maintenance and noticed a big chunk of embedded glass. I pried it out and sure enough, pssssssst. Since I had pre-loaded some Stan's Sealant, I just rotated the tire so that the wound was on the bottom and Stan did it's job. I never had any other flats, nor did the existing hole ever re-open.

For the Lewis & Clark Ultra, I tried a new pair of Conti GP4000RS on my new wheels (the second pair of Mavic Reflex rims). I got a flat in the rear tire but it only took less than four minutes to fix the flat. The only way it could have been fixed quicker is if I had a support vehicle following me with a spare wheel. But this wasn't the Tour de France and I'm not Lance, so no support car for me...

Why are clinchers perceived as superior to tubulars? The cost advantage of being able to repair/replace the tube while still keeping the tire. In my experience, products like Stan's Sealant have negated this advantage.

The one time I had to replace the tire it wasn't a big deal either. I just pulled the current tire off and installed the new one, slammed the CO2 inflater on, and was on my way.

There's a trick to removing a tubular tire which makes it quite easy. I'll be doing a separate post on that with some video but basically the idea is to work a tire iron or screwdriver in between the tire and rim and then use that to pull the tire UP and away from the rim as you work the tool around the wheel. This breaks the glue bond and then you can just pull the tire off.

If I was doing a long tour or adventure ride I would certainly have to go with a clincher. It's also kind of a drag to carry an entire tire around. I haven't gotten the hang of a compact fold, so I just kind of wad the tire up and use a velcro strap to compress it so that it fits in a jersey pocket.

I think the reason tubulars aren't more popular is due to the perceived hassle of installation. They do need to be pre-stretched, rims need to be cleaned, glue applied and allowed to dry, then reapplied and install the tire. But so far I find the routine involved to be soothing, and it gives me a sense of connectedness with all the old-school riders that I admire and envy.


Lewis and Clark Ultra 2011

My first ultra-endurance event ended with a big fat DNF. The main issue is that I caught a cold before the race and was not able to ride the bike for about two weeks. Then during the race, I didn't consume enough calories and ran out of gas. Oh, and I guess I kind of gave up too. <whine>But I had excuses!</whine>

What went right: I showed up at the start line despite being woefully unprepared.

One thing I was happy about was that my inactive time was only 33 minutes total. I feel that I made pretty efficient use of my time considering I was riding unsupported.

About 20 miles from the end I got caught in the worst weather I have ever been in on my bike. It was an intense hail storm, the road was covered in hail AND I was also climbing up a pretty good hill. It was actually kind of fun, I just smiled and kept pedalling. I wonder what all the people in the cars that passed me thought?

What went wrong: Nothing went horribly wrong during the event, it was more an unfunny comedy of errors. One problem I had that threw me off was that I had a bag of perpetuem in my front jacket pocket. The constant motion broke it open and with the rain, the perpetuem literally glued the pocket zipper shut. This was the pocket that had all my snacks (fig newtons) and enduralytes so I was unable to access them. It wasn't a fatal problem but it was very distracting.

It never fails: putting brand-new tires on the bike is the surest way of guaranteeing a flat, especially if they're expensive tubulars. I noticed a flat tire about 5 miles from the end but fortunately it didn't take a lot of time to fix: stopped the bike, checked the tire, pulled the sliver of glass out, put in some Stan's, inflated w/CO2, back on my way in less than four minutes.

Lessons learned:

1. I am now tracking the amount of calories consumed during a ride. Previously, I had just noted what was consumed without bothering to actually count the calories. For the LaC I only consumed a total of 2310 calories and thus averaged a mere 224 calories/hour. I need to see if getting this up to at least 300 cal/hr will provide a benefit.

2. If the event organizers are providing consumables at time stops, no need to stuff the jersey pockets.

3. Don't quit pedaling. I threw in the towel at 6pm; if I'd gotten onto the day loop and puttered along for one lap at 10 MPH, I would have at least received full credit for a 12-hour ride.

4. For training I did a lot of short intense rides, I need to get more endurance rides too.

5. Pre-ride maintenance should include cleats. Lost a screw off of one cleat, the entire assembly was loose enough to move by hand when I checked it afterwards.

6. Carefully examine the map and cue sheet before the ride. Despite having the route in GPS I still took a few wrong turns. Fortunately the Garmin let me know fairly soon, but the bonus feet were unnecessary.

7. I experienced some mild nausea towards the end. I think it may be due to mixing up a two-hour bottle of Perpetuem (3+ scoops) but then not taking in enough plain water to dilute it to the proper strength. I will stick with one-hour bottles for the next few rides to see if this makes a difference.



Tygh Valley century

Kevin cooked up this ride. It starts in Tygh Valley, down to the Deschutes River, up to Grass Valley and Shaniko and then on to Maupin, back to Tygh Valley.

The scenery was just stunning. The Deschutes River was running pretty strong:



Lots of gorgeous scenery (note lack of trees...):


At the first rest stop there were a bunch of old classics for sale. We noticed this odd fellow:


It looks like it was modified to carry people in a parade(?)

I like the little island in this pond:


I dub this continent 'Kenlandia'

On the way back we were treated to a good view of Mt. Hood, all frosty white with a good coat of new snow:


Even though I was just about freezing all day long, I still wound up with a sunburn on my thighs...


Tufo Ride 25 tubular tires

My rear tire had exactly 1040 miles when the sidewall blew out. That tire was due to be replaced soon anyway because the tread in the middle was worn through the first layer and the red inner-layer was showing through.

These tires ride very nice on the road, and were quite nice for some gravel rides I did. They didn't last as long as I hoped (isn't that always the case?) but I only had one puncture and one sidewall slash so I'm not disappointed with them.



Larch Mtn. Road/Bull Run hill climb

Great sunny day, went for a ride. You know when the route description begins with 'take Larch Mtn. road as far up as you can' that you're in for some climbing.

It was a warm day and I got a chance to rid some roads that I never had before. The scenery was gorgeous:

Mt. Hood in the distance

Mt. Hood in the distance



Road Racing vs. Ultra Endurance

I think I've discovered the only difference between Road Racing and Ultra Endurance events:

In Road Racing events, you try to tear the other riders' legs off.

In Ultra Endurance events, you try to tear your own legs off.



Speedplay Zero and Giro Trans shoes

I finally switched from my Speedplay Frog pedals. There wasn't anything majorly wrong with the Frogs, but I was starting to notice discomfort on the outer ankle due to my feet (especially the right) trying to rotate outwards. I suspect that this was due to two causes: the small surface area of the cleat, and the cleat being more inboard than it should be.

My current main shoes are a pair of 661 MTB shoes. I wanted the new pair of shoes to have a much stiffer sole. Unfortunately, I will have to give up the capability of being able to walk in my bike shoes.

I am very happy with my Frogs, so I thought I'd try the Zeros. I needed new shoes, so I went to REI to check out their selection. The Giro Trans has the necessary stiff sole so I thought I'd give them a try, even though these would be my first real road shoes.

Installation of the Zero pedals and cleats was pretty smooth with one exception: I put the cleats on upside down so that the float limit adjustment screws were inboard instead of outboard. No big deal, just duh.

I wound up exchanging the shoes for a larger size before my feet got comfortable. I don't have a problem with 11.5 shoes for walking but on the bike it looks like I need a 12.5 or greater. The specific issue is severe numbness of the toes on the right foot. I know that I have flat feet and I presume that my feet are wider than usual.

The shoes are well made with excellent ventilation. The main buckle is very simple and I see a phillips-head screw so it looks like it is replaceable. The velcro straps use metal D-rings for durability. The strap attachment points are staggered to help spread the load out. These shoes are also noticeably lighter than the older SIDI pair I own.

I rode up Larch Mtn. Road to try the new shoes & pedals out. Other than the numbness issue (hopefully fixed) I didn't have any problems. They are still slightly uncomfortable but that's understandable since they are brand new and aren't broken in yet.

The only minor annoyance I ran into with the Speedplay cleats was that the float adjustment screws are small phillips instead of hex. My multitool doesn't have anything close to that size so I was unable to adjust them while riding. I made sure to also get a set of the cafe covers so hopefully that will extend the cleat life.

I also picked up a pair of used SIDI Genius in the Mega width. I have another pair of SIDSs but can't really wear them as I get numb toes. I'll be using the Giro and Genius for the road bike, I'll move the Frog pedals on to my grocery-getter, and I'll toss the SPD pedals & cleats into the parts bin.


My First OBRA Race

This evening I went down to Portland International Raceway, joined OBRA, and raced. Even though my main goal is ultraendurance events, speed work will be a vital component of training. I also get to work on my pack riding skills.

To quote the great Heidi Swift, I pedaled until I tasted blood. Immediately after the race I almost puked, so I guess I didn't leave too much on the track.

Final results: 22nd out of 30. I'm disappointed that I didn't do better, proud that I was at least able to hang on and not finish as a straggler.

For some reason, I could barely hang on in one specific turn (I think it was turn 5). I'm trying to analyze what happened and the only thing I can think of is that the prior turn is very sharp so perhaps I was slowing too much or I need to jump on the pedals out of the turn a bit earlier. I have Speedplay Frog pedals so clearance isn't an issue.

I probably need to work on my 'hold the line' skills too. I didn't get yelled at, most likely because there weren't a lot of people behind me, but I'm pretty sure I wandered around a bit too much at certain points in the race.

The bike performed perfectly, any problems were strictly engine-related. While I was cleaning & lubing the bike the other day in preparation for the race, I found a glass shard in the rear tire. I got out the Leatherman and pried it out. Air hissed out for a few seconds before I realized that I should probably rotate the tire so the hole is on the bottom and the sealant can do it's thing. I spun the tire around and stopped it. The air hissed out for a few seconds more, spraying latex sealant on the garage floor, but soon enough it stopped. There was sufficient pressure still in the tires so I just left it until the next day (day of race).

That morning I pumped the tire up to operating pressure. A few drops seeped out but soon stopped and the tire was good to go.

As a side note, it was interesting seeing the mix of frame materials in the cat 5 race compared to the strictly-carbon cat 1/2/3s. I saw the complete mix from carbon to steel. There were even a few riders with fenders, so I guess I took mine off unnecessarily. I didn't want to be too fredly, even though I left my helmet mirror on...

Edit 11 Apr 2011: I was just reviewing my race stats in Ascent and noticed that my average HR for the entire race was 168. My LT is somewhere between 161 and 164, so yeah, I did get my legs torn off. Looking forward to the next race!


Astoria Blizzard

Well, just about the only weather we didn't experience was a blizzard. But we did get rain, almost-snow, hail (lots), rain, sunshine, wind, and, uh, rain. Not necessarily in that order.

This ride was Kevin's idea. Ride about 120 miles from Vernonia to the Astoria Column and back. Joining us was John Henry, an accomplished ultra-endurance athlete.

We left Vernonia about 8am in the rain, which trailed off shortly. Other than grabbing some snacks in Birkenfeld, we pretty much went straight through to Astoria, only stopping briefly to regroup and catch our breath.

In Astoria it was up up up to the column, pose for some photos, and descend to the D.Q. in order to inhale some calories. I made the mistake of ordering a bacon-gutbomb combo and paid for it by soft-pedaling the next two hours to keep it down (I was successful).

For some strange reason we seemed to take more breaks on the way back. However, the tailwind made a huge difference: I often found my self going up gentle inclines over 20mph. I started fading about 10 miles from the end, John caught up and we traded pulls to the end (but he was definitely doing the majority of the work).

I felt that I rode pretty strongly today, so I'm glad that my fitness seems to be returning.



various loops near The Dalles, OR

Sunday I met up with some biker friends in Hood River. We were going to do a century, but it was just a little too cold and rainy (as in I was getting some slush on the windshield as we were driving into Hood River; I wouldn't have been surprised if we wound up climbing up into the snow...).

Dave took us around some various loops that are used by the Cherry Blossom race. Lots of great climbs, gorgeous scenery. Wasn't too rainy.

The group I was with were all more advanced than me. Fortunately they didn't tear my legs off or leave me on the side of the road 200m after we started. But I certainly didn't have much left in the tank by the time we got back.


Training Plan Mk II

I'm currently reading two eArticles from RoadBikeRider.com: Beyond the Century by John Hughes and Swift Endurance by Fred Matheny.

First off, let me state that either of these philosophies will be of benefit. I will discuss some of the differences and will mention certain aspects that will work better for me but I don't intend to say which one or the other is better.

The training plan suggested by Matheny seems to make sense to me. Typically it seems logical to me that training rides should build up to be close to the actual competition distance (ideally, you would peak with a ride or a few rides that would actually exceed the race distance). However, it gets real difficult to find the time for these rides when you start getting over a century and if you're doing the traditional '10% weekly increase' training plan, you have a significant time period over which you're supposed to be doing these really long rides.

The one problem I have with both of these, indeed with most training plans, is the idea of a recovery ride. Why spend an hour on the bike (which winds up being at least an hour and a half by the time you get the preparation and post-ride shower taken care of) if your only goal is to NOT exert yourself?

Another problem I have is that the LaC Ultra occurs kind of early in the season (May 28th - 29th this year) so I really need to train according to a training plan; I can not rely on just riding around and coincidentally winding up with good fitness at the end of the summer like I did last year. I simply don't have the time to do a 3-4 month base build and 1-2 months of build phase. I'm considering two peaks this year, the LaC Ultra and RAO.

Currently, I have a training plan based on the traditional 10% weekly increase (specifially from www.ultracycling.com). I will do a volume peak shortly before the race, and then the taper. My intensity will come from short weekly rides, one consisting of flat speed, the other being hill work. Both of these rides are less than 50 miles. There will be two weekly volume rides: one ride that is about 30% of the week's long ride but is at a greater than race pace, and the long ride which is at race pace and will increase by 10% every week.

The problem with this is that in April, my long rides get into the double-century range. That's a lot of bike time, even for an unemployed slacker such as myself. One alternate that I know someone has used in the past is to just do a century both days of the weekend. This gives good overall mileage and also stresses the body for doing a century without sufficient recovery. That will be something to consider for RAO, but I think I'll be better-served for LaC by having one longer ride instead. The longer ride will also ive me a chance to get my nutrition plan ironed out. If I'm riding along I intend to do these rides non-stop as much as possible. that will also allow me to calculate my typical dilly-dallying time requirements.



Superglue saved my Tufos

After the Dalles Mtn 60 the other weekend, I was cleaning my bike and inspecting the tires. I noticed a blister on my front tire, looks like something slashed the sidewall pretty good. I only had about 1500 miles on the tires. The tread otherwise looked really good and I didn't want to toss an otherwise perfectly good tubular.


Pretty good sidewall cut

I first moved the tire so the blister was at the bottom and if any glue dripped it wouldn't get on the rim. With the tire still pumped up to operating pressure I then got out the superglue and globbed it on the blister. I then opened the valve and let the air out until the blister pulled back in. I left enough air pressure in so that everything was still held in place.


A little hard to tell but it's definitely not as herniated

I pumped the tire up to operating pressure the next morning and checked the wound. There was a slight bulge but it looks like everything is being held in OK. That was about 300 miles ago and it's still working.


Showers Pass Touring jacket review

I decided to get this jacket instead of the top-of-the-line Elite II. The main issue for me is that the Tour has two side pockets that are easily accessible while riding. For some reason the Elite II only has a pocket in the lower back but I hate those pockets, I'm not flexible enough to get into them while riding.

Additionally, the jacket comes in black. You may think that black is a bad color for a bike jacket, but it has reflective striping. The reason I wanted black is because HiVis Yellow is only slightly easier to keep clean than White; oh, did I say easy? I meant that it's a pain in the posterior to keep clean, sorry 'bout that misunderstanding.

The venting system works really well. You definitely notice if you forgot to zip up when you're blasting down a hill. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to grab the zipper pulls, but bear in mind that it could just as easily be due to wearing long-fingered gloves.

I wore it throughout the winter and it was very effective in keeping my warm. On the coldest rides I would wear a jersey, a long-sleeve polypropylene shirt, a wool sweater, and the Showers Pass jacket. This combination is sufficient for keeping my core warm. I skip the wool sweater when it gets much above the mid-40's and replace it with a light Polarmax sweater.

This may sound gross, but I do notice some sweat buildup on the inside. I'm able to keep warm though so I'm not worried about it. I probably need to work on remembering to open the vents and unzip the front when I start climbing hills. I try to wear the bear minimum to keep me warm at effort so when I stop I cool down real quick. Not a big issue for day training rides, if I was doing an overnight brevet that would be a potential hypothermia risk.

So far the durability is excellent. I've worn it on just about every road ride since the middle of December (about 16 so far) and have not experienced any failures. I do notice that the cuff looks like it's pilling at the folds, but the full-finger gloves I wear have a long cuff so perhaps that is abrading the jacket's cuff.

I also purchased the rain hood but have only used it once. I was hoping that it would be large enough to fit over the helmet, but it isn't. Not really a negative point, just something to bear in mind.



Night Rider


No, not that Knight Rider...

Just a few notes on riding at night.

One thing I find beneficial is the use of multiple blinkers. Specifically, I have two PlanetBike Super Flashes: one on the seat post, the other low on the left seat stay. The multiple blinkers really help you to stand out. More than once I've been riding on a dark road, I hear a car coming up behind me but they're around a bend or on the other side of a rise. As their headlight beams paint me, I actually hear the car slow down a bit and I know they've seen me.

I usually have clip-on aero bars installed so I don't really have any room for lights on the handlebars. A few years ago someone on craigslist was posting home-made light mounts that took the place of the quick-release nut on your front wheel. This mounts the light down low. Advantage: really lights up the road, doesn't blind on-coming riders and drivers (if properly aimed). Disadvantage: might not catch drivers attention. Currently, when I have a light on that mount it's my Planet Bike 1W Blaze. I usually leave it in blink mode to provide better safety, rather than allowing me to navigate.

Helmet mount: excellent idea. I really like my Niterider Minewt 250 mounted on the helmet. Coming up to an intersection, I briefly point it at any other cars in order to announce my existence. Advantage: turn your head to point and aim. Disadvantage: weight or dealing with power cable. I actually tried to put the Niterider on the axle mount mentioned above, but the design of the clamp doesn't allow it to tighten to the point where it won't fall off. If it was on the handlebars, it wouldn't matter because I could just tip it back up. But due to the open end of the axle mount, it could fall off.

Regardless of where your light is mounted, it needs to be aimed properly. Yes, aiming your lights isn't just for your car headlights. For rear-facing lights you want to point it so that it's visible to a driver coming up behind you, slightly towards the left. You also want to have your rear lights affixed to a static mount point, the only exception being a blinky on the back of your helmet. Those fabric loops on a saddle bag or backpack should be avoided, they are usually too large and the light is not securely affixed in position so it wiggles around and may point off to the side or down to the ground.

You also need to consider passive visibility: reflective materials and stickers. The best reflective tape I've found is Reflexit V92 in silver (available from http://www.identi-tape.com/hi-intensity.htm). Put small snippets of the tape on the chainstays, seatstays, head tube, and anywhere else you think will provide good side visibility. Don't forget your helmet. If your wheels have room for it, you will also get a great deal of benefit by placing reflective tape on your rims.

High-visibility traffic vest: even though I have one, it's just a little too fredly for my tastes and I rarely wear it. But it does provide excellent visibility. The specific one I have is just a cheapo traffic safety vest from Home Depot. It will fit over any amount of cycling jacket and sweater, and the reflective stripes are nice and wide. The only problem with it is that it only has one velcro patch for closing, but I guess I could use a safety pin to keep it a little more secure (not that I've ever had a problem with it popping open). I also am skeptical of the benefit due to the angle of my torso while riding. If I rode a hybrid or had an upright position, I think the vest would provide better visibility. But I'm usually hunched over on a road bike and may even have a day or lumbar pack on.

Oh, and listening to your iPod or MP3 player while riding? Day or night, that is stupid.



Carrying things while riding

Long distance riders have special demands for carrying nutrition and gear. For longer rides, a couple of gels and your pump in the jersey pockets won't always cut it.

You will wind up carrying extra food, additional energy drink mix, a patch kit and/or extra tube(s) or if you ride on tubulars, a complete spare tire. Minimal tools are also necessary, usually a multitool will do the trick. Depending on the weather, you may want to bring some extra sunscreen or chamois cream. You may also need room to store items of clothing that you take off after a while, such as arm warmers, or only need intermittently, e.g. rain jacket.

There are two different places to carry things: on your bike or on your body.

On the bike:

- handlebar bag

- rear rack (trunk/panniers)

On the body:

- in jersey pockets and under the hem of your shorts

- daypack

- lumbar pack

Handlebar bag: usually won't work with aero bars, which a lot of ultracyclists use. I used to have a small one that came with the bike until I added clip-on aero bars. Advantages: everything is right there in front of you for easy access while riding. This is a really nice feature, and one that I miss. Some models come with a clear plastic flap that you can put a map or cue sheet in. Does not negatively affect aerodynamics. Disadvantages: the one I used had really stiff zippers and was difficult to open while riding without sending me across the road. Depending on the mounting system and size of the bag, it may conflict with your aero bars, bike computer, shift cables, or lights. Additionally, you also run the risk of being called a Randonneur instead of an Ultracyclist (1).

Rear rack: added weight to the bike, most carbon fiber frames don't have rack attachment points and p-clips can cause damage and premature wear to the frame. Might be considered overkill. There are rear racks available that attach directly to the seatpost. There are weight limits for these but they can be a good option if you only want a rear rack on part of the time.

As far as carrying on your body goes, if you don't mind the weight on your body you can also get quite a bit stuffed into your jersey pockets and in the thigh of your shorts. Gel packets are a good option for this location. You can also stuff a bottle or two down the back of your jersey, depending on how snug your jersey fits it should stay in place.

Daypack: plenty of carrying capacity. Can include a water bladder for in-flight refueling (e.g. the CamelBak line). Pretty much precludes easy access to jersey pockets, but you could still store soft flat things in your jersey pockets; disposable gel packets and other soft goods would be a good choice.

Lumbar pack: rides lower than a backpack. Usually doesn't have a water bladder, but a few do. Usually include space for extra water bottles. Also precludes easy access to jersey pockets.

I use a day-pack for commuting, and a lumbar pack for rides. The day-pack I have is a Gregory Z30. There are so many different options available for day packs that you really just need to go to a store (I recommend REI). Some things to look for: sternum strap, breathable mesh back, small pockets on the hip belt are nice for storing cell phone/mp3 player or lip balm, and side pockets for water bottle or coffee thermos. Make sure to try the pack on and weight the pack with what you think you your average load will be. I selected the Z30 due to the stand-off mesh back which lifts the pack entirely off your back, similar to an Aeron chair.

The lumbar pack I have is a Mountainsmith Tour with the Strapette accessory. The advantage of this setup is that there is sufficient carrying capacity, and the pack rides low on the back allowing ventilation. I adjust the hip belt so that it's snug, and leave the chest straps a little loose. The shoulder straps are pretty much a requirement, they will keep the pack centered on the small of your back instead of sliding off to one side. On the few rides so far with this setup, I really didn't notice the weight and the straps did not interfere with breathing.

As with backpacks, the idea is to cinch the hip belt so that it takes the majority of the load. The shoulder straps are mostly for stabilization. Although this is less of an issue while bike riding due to posture, you do not want significant weight hanging on your shoulders. You also really want a sternum strap. It doesn't need to be snug, it just needs to take up the slack so your shoulder straps won't part and slide off.

On the Tour I put two Platypus bottles (bags? baggles?) in the side water bottle holsters. I am a big fan of the Platypus products, usually even if I don't think I'll need it I'll go ahead and throw a filled bottle in the lumbar pack. Personally, I only put water in the Platypus; I'm a bit concerned about the ease of cleaning and wouldn't want something sitting in there and fermenting/achieving sentience. I have the several 1L and a few .75L bottles, the 1L is probably more useful because you store a bit more than a large water bottle, if you're really thirsty you fill your water bottle and then chug the remainder. If you put the bottle in an outside pocket, make sure you secure it to your pack with a carbiner or similar. When the bottle is empty, just roll it up and store it.


(1) This is an attempt at humor. I am not a professional humorist, nor do I portray one on television. Since my day job is not in the humor industry, there is the distinct possibility that my attempt failed. Please accept my most humble apology for besmirching the reputation of all humorists, satirists, jokers, jesters, comedians, and Randonneurs everywhere.



Hardest ride of my life (so far)

Well, today I did a century. It was a pretty flat century. Nonetheless, I could barely average 15 MPH riding time. I have been sick a lot this winter. I hadn't been on the bike since Feb 2nd and yesterday I went and did a pretty intense (for me) hill climb ride. As a result, when I started the century I literally was already on empty.

Fortunately, Kevin wouldn't let me quit. Thank goodness he wasn't out to make any set time/speed, he just wanted to do his 100 miles.

One mistake I made was when we stopped for lunch, I had a sandwich and some fries but didn't get anything to drink. I wound up being really thirsty on the ride back. I should have chugged down a big soda, the sugar & caffeine would have helped too.

I guess it's good that I didn't quit and finished the century. But I certainly tried to quit.




cleaning & detailing your bike

I'll be the first to admit that this is a lot of work. But I'm unemployed so I have the time.

Even though I always use an SRAM master link for my chains, I still rarely remove it from the bike. I use a Pedro's Chain Cleaning tool. Frugality tip: purchase a gallon jug of citrus degreaser from Home Depot or Lowes; it's a lot cheaper than what you'll get at your LBS and it's the exact same stuff.

As you're washing, take the time to look for signs of rust and wear. Do you see any red (iron oxide) deposits seeping from the headset or other places? Something is rusting inside and needs to be re-lubed.


- bucket

- brushes (I am happy with the Park brush kit)

- dish-washing sponge (the yellow ones that have green Scotchbrite on one side). Note: do NOT use the Scotchbrite side on CF frames or wheels. It is only for wheels with aluminum rims

- car-washing mitt

- Simple Green cleaner

- citrus degreaser

- chain-cleaning machine; the one I have is from Pedro's and it's lasted me a couple years now with no signs of breaking down.

Washing Procedure:

  1. Put the bike in your workstand
  2. Starting at the top (include the handlebars) pour water on the bike. I use a hose without any nozzle, just soak the bike. This helps to remove all the salts from your sweat, the sugar from spilled drinks, and the snot rocket blowback from the doofus ahead of you on the group ride the other day.
  3. Using a soft brush, lightly remove as much dirt and road debris as possible, working from top to bottom and using water from the hose to flush the dirt away
  4. After you give the bike it's first once-over, fill the chain cleaner with your desired degreaser dujour and clean the chain
  5. Remove the chain cleaner and use the sproke brush to clean the cogs. You will also want to clean the derailleur pulleys. Make sure to clean both sides of the pulleys. To get easier access to the wheel-side of the pulleys shift the rear derailleur to the small cog and put the front on the big ring.
  6. After you're done with the chain cleaner, give the chain, crankset, and both derailleurs a very thourough rinsing.
  7. Soak the mitten in water and then pour some Simple Green on it. Go over the bike from top to bottom again and as soon as you get to the bottom, start rinsing thouroughly from top to bottom.
  8. Clean the wheels. If you have aluminum wheels, use the Scotchbrite side to scrub the inside of the rim and especially the brake track. Do not use Scotchbrite on any other surface that belongs to your bike.
  9. Remove the wheels. Clean the inside top of the fork, the wheel-side of the brakes, the inside of the fork blades and if you have fenders what the heck, go ahead and give the inside of those a quick wipe too. Where the rear wheel used to be, get the inside of the seat and chainstays and also the inside of the brakes.
  10. Clean the braking surface of the brake pads. Using an awl make sure to get all the grit out of the grooves. Feel for any embedded grit and remove it with a sharp knife (e.g. X-Acto).
  11. Using old (but clean) rags dry the bike off. Make sure the rags are clean, you don't want them to have any embedded grit that may scratch the finish of your nice bike.
  12. Dry the wheels and put them back on
  13. Dry the chain. Some people use an old hair dryer or a heat gun. I tried this once, didn't think too highly of the method. I'm still trying to figure out a good way to dry the chain other than air-drying, which has a tendency to leave some rust spots on the chain.
  14. Lube the chain according to your normal procedure. I recently got a tube of Dumonde oil and I'm really happy with it. I was using Triflow year-round and finally realized that it simply isn't sufficient for riding in rainy PNW winters (or rainy fall, or rainy spring, and quite often rainy summers. But I'm not bitter...)
  15. Work the lube in. Heck, sometimes I'll do a 10-minute roller session, especially if there is some other concurrent mechanical work going on, e.g. derailler tension adjustment.
  16. Make sure to wipe off all excess lubricant from the chain.

You're all done, now go ride your bike!


The Joy of Wrenching*

There's nothing like working on your bike in the garage with the door open on a rare sunny Saturday morning.

The local classical station has opera on every Saturday morning. I fired up the espresso machine, cranked up the opera and got busy wrenching. It didn't matter that all I was doing was throwing on a pair of clip-on aerobars; even though I wasn't hand-brazing a Columbus tubing frame it was still a blast, even though I didn't understand a single word of the opera.

* wRenching, not Wenching. Although that can certainly be fun matey.



My first double-century

Well, I was just going through my rides and was fondly thinking of the great weather this last summer and some of my favorite rides.

My first double-century was on Sep 14th, 2010. I started at 5:55am and got back to my car shortly before 9:30pm. Total bike time was 12:28, average speed was 16.3 MPH.

I utilized the alarm function of the Edge 500 to beep every 15 minutes (every 10 minutes for the last few hours of the ride) to remind me to consume fluids and nutrition.

I stopped for supper on the way back in Jefferson. This is a little town that I never heard of before but I sure seem to ride through a lot.

During the ride I consumed the following: 2 bottles cytomax, 4 x 2-hour bottles perpetuem, 4+ bottles plain water, 1 qt Gatorade, 3 Cliff mojo bars, 1 pkg Cliff Shot Bloks, 1 BLT with potato salad, Sanpellegrino Limonata soda (my favorite) and half a mocha. The Shot Bloks didn't sit too well in the tummy, but I think that's because I consumed the entire package while resting at the half-way point. Normally I only consume one or two at a time and they don't cause me any problems.

I took the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway south to just past Albany and turned around near OSU.

Here are some photos:


A rail bridge over a pretty creek


It's hard to see in the photo but the sign on the telephone pole says "no fishing". You think?


Marge Simpson in Jefferson (right next to the cafe where I had supper)


A pretty farm pond


Laws yes! M-O-O-N spells moon!

This ride was a lot of work. When I got back home I went to bed, probably too quickly. I don't remember if I ate well before bed, but I definitely remember getting massive cramps. Odd thing is that I didn't have any cramping problems while I was on the bike.



Mountain Home/Haugens Road


One of my favorite training rides. Haugens Rd. is a great way to work on hill climbs. Plenty long, and it's a constant rise, absolutely no rest.

This was my first ride on a compact crank, I went from a 52/39. This made a huge difference in perceived exertion going up hill. I was able to spin while sitting for most of the climbs, whereas the previous chainrings had me standing for the majority of the time. Somehow I trimmed 11 minutes off the previous time I rode this route, just less than two weeks ago. My current cassette is 12-25, I'll probably get a 11-tooth cog but don't foresee any other necessary changes.

sunny spring field w/wood smoke

A sunny spring meadow, smoke from someone's wood stove.

Mt. Hood over marsh near sunset

That's Mt. Hood in the distance.

It was a gorgeous sunny spring day, but it got real cold real quick as the sun went down.



Goals for 2011


- maintain membership in century-a-month club

- Lewis & Clark Ultra (May 28-29)

- STP one day (July 9)

- RAO team member (July 22-24)

- Ride around Mt. Hood (TBD, August?)

- Oregon Stampede (TBD, September 10?)

My goals right now are to definitely do the LaC Ultra, solo 24 hour. I will also do the STP in one day, but that will be more of a fun ride. Depending on my results in the LaC Ultra, I will enter the RAO as part of a 2-man team. I am also considering participating in the Monday night races at PIR

My LaC goal: 22 hours riding time at 16 MPH avg = 352 miles total. If I do one long lap and about 22 short laps to reach that distance, I will have climbed approx. 14,800 feet (approx 42 feet per mile). Realistically, I highly doubt that I'll be able to do this. In fact, I'd be freaking surprised if I break 300. But what good is setting a goal that you know you can do?

The ride around Mt. Hood will be on a route that I drew up which takes Lolo pass road over the North side, down past Lost Lake and into the Parkdale area. There will be some gravel involved, as well as a side-trip up to Timberline Lodge. The idea is to just have a fun and challenging ride, as well as circumnavigating Mt. Hood while staying completely off I84. If I wind up doing RAO, I might do this route as a training ride between STP and RAO.

I laid out my training plan today, first time I ever did this. Don't know what I'm doing, the mileage goals look too ambitious. The plan starts this week (Jan 31). I doubt that I'll be able to stick to it if I get a job, but if I get a job I'll be able to use my commute for interval training; a week's cumulative commutes might be the equivalent of entire day's training. I'd have to find a day to do hill work somehow, probably work that in as part of a long commute home. That leaves the weekend for a tempo training day and a pace training day. I just realized that I didn't put any rest weeks in, that needs to be fixed.


Proper use of a torque wrench

When using a torque wrench, remember to measure twice and torque once. I was installing my cranks, and looked up the proper value. Put the crank on, attached the bit to the wrench, and started cranking away.

"hmmm, this is starting to get real difficult, and I'm just over half of the target value" I thought to myself.

But I had a torque wrench, so I could do no wrong. It wasn't until I got to the point that I was about 20 ft/lbs shy and I could barely budge the wrench that I decided to take a break and see if I could figure out what was going on.

It turns out that when I looked up the information in my Park Bike Repair book, as I went from the left side of the page to the right, I somehow wound up on a different row. The actual necessary torque value was something like 20% of what I was incorrectly trying for. The crank was squished on so tight that the FD was rubbing on the chain.

I quickly removed the crank and put it back on using the proper torque value and counted myself lucky that I didn't split the end of the crank open.



Washing your riding gear

Keeping your gear clean really only accomplishes one thing: keeping you healthy. The skin in certain locations is subject to too much mechanical abuse, setting yourself up for a painful saddle sore (I've been lucky to escape these so far).

Here are some tips for care of your garments and other items:

- Gentle cycle, multiple rinse, no bleach, I use warm water but that's just me

- I use whatever regular laundry detergent happens to be handy

- Never, ever machine dry. Always air-dry

- I found some hangers that have little slots in the shoulder for dress straps (they actually belong to the missus) which are great for my bibs

- Make sure to put all the velcro hook and loop patches together, otherwise you'll wind up with six jerseys stuck to one pair of gloves somehow...

- I wash everything: gloves, jersey, bibs, jackets, skull cap, croakie, socks, shoe covers, etc.

Additionally, spray the insides of your shoes with an OTC anti-fungal treatement immmediately after every ride. This will accomplish two things: you will be less likely to get athlete's foot, and your shoes won't develop a musty aroma.

This is especailly important if you ride in the rain, as we're wont to do here in the PNW. for that reason, I also have replaceable insoles in all my bike shoes. If they do develop a funk, I can toss the insole and hopefully cut down on the growth.

How often should your gear be washed? You get back from a ride, toss everything in the dirty clothes hamper. BUT, if you just got back from a ride in the rain, set everything out to air-dry and then toss it in the dirty clothes hamper.


Water bottle maintenance & contents

Really quite simple. After the ride, or as soon as you get home, IMMEDIATELY rinse out bottles with hot water. Open nozzle and make sure those get rinsed out too. Place on dish rack to dry.

After they’re dry, put the bottles and caps in whatever holding cell you use, but do not put the caps on; leave the caps off to let the bottles air out. I’ve found that even when the bottles are clean, they get funky when stored with the caps on.

Now that you have clean water bottles, what do you put in them? I have used the following:

1. plain water

2. Hammer Heed

3. Cytomax

4. Hammer Perpetuem

Plain water: Well, of course this will work. Used in conjunction with a gel flask, you still get energy & electrolytes. Great for washing down a Fig Newton that's stuck in the back of the throat or pouring on your head in the heat.

Hammer Heed: Nothing wrong with it except that personally I found the flavor too bland. But I only have about three tastebuds, so I prefer stronger flavors (I like my espresso straight and beer stout).

Cytomax: If I feel like it using any sports drink, this is what I'll use. The tart flavor helps to quench the thirst sensation and I seem to get suitable nutrition from it. Something in it seems to disagree with the flora & fauna in my GI so I have really foul gas a few hours after a ride, but that's not my problem.

Hammer Perpetuem: This stuff works. I only used for real long rides (100+ miles). I've only tried the single-hour bottle and multiple-hour bottle delivery methods, I haven't tried the flask method.

Personally, I found the single-hour bottle a bit of a hassle. It's difficult to reload during the ride, you inevitably wind up with some of the powder spilling and it instantly gets sticky. This method is probably much better in a race situation where you have someone handing you bottles. I generally go with a two-hour bottle for the Perpetuem. I tried a four-hour bottle, the end of it was not palatable.

For reloading, I will pre-measure into ziplock baggies and then place two baggies in another baggie to prevent a blowout in my jersey pocket or whatever I'm carrying it in.


It's Always A Race

Let me dispel this silly notion that "it's not a race." It's always a race. Always.
The only time it wasn't a race would have been in the distant past when there was only one organism on the entire planet. That first organism had it good... until the second organism came along, and then it was a race.
Billions of years of races followed, each organism competing in a myriad of races: race to not be eaten, race to eat and survive another day, race to breed.
And thus we come to humanity, the pinnacle of evolution. But don't think that just because you're riding a hipster fixie that you're somehow above this proletariat competition. Even your conception was the result of a race that was won by a single sperm cell.
Do you know the name of the second person that made it to the North Pole? The South Pole? Second solo flight across the Atlantic? Second man on the Moon? If you know all those names off the top of your head you may be a history buff or just quick with Google, but everyone knows the names Peary, Amundsen, Lindberg, and Armstrong.
Did Ronald Reagan tell the players "sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they've got and come in second for the Gipper"? Hell no.
Ignore these retro-grouches that claim it's not a race. They want you to believe that. That way they can slowly work their way up in the pack until they're on your wheel, and then jump past with 50 yards to go.
Don't believe them. Second place is the first loser.
To quote John Mason: "Your 'best'! Losers always whine about their 'best'! Winners go home and fuck the prom queen."
You think it's not a race? Oh yes it is...

“If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?” - Vince Lombardi


About Me

What about me? I'm a Libra, height/weight proportional, I like long walks on the... oh, wait.

I have been bicycling since Feb 2008. Well, of course I biked a lot as a kid, and had a road bike while I was in the Navy and for a while after I got out, but I'll be darned if I ever rode more then a few hundred miles each year.

I actually got back into bicycling once before, while I was in the U.S. Navy. I purchased my first real bike while on leave between Adak, Alaska and Yokusuka, Japan. I don't remember the type, but it was a nice touring bike. I rode it while on leave, then boxed it up and took it with me to Japan but sadly it never arrived. I got another bike while in Japan, I think it was a Bridgestone. I definitely remember the Shimano Biopace and being real happy when I finally got a set of those new-fangled clipless pedals (this probably would have been '87).

One day while I was still in the Navy in Japan we had a base-wide 'sports day' with competitions in all sorts of different sports. One of those competitions was a bike race. I had only been riding a few months but figured I'd do pretty good since most of the competition had the svelte physique that comes from years of Sumo training. I even shaved my legs. Seriously. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I had never even read a single copy of Velo News yet, but I knew enough to shave my legs. pffft...


Reluctantly crouched at the starting line, engines pumping and thumping in time(1)

The race started and we blasted down the main street of the base. The first turn of the course was a right to go up a hill, and I took it too wide and crashed into the gutter. I didn't hurt myself or break anything on the bike, but by the time I got back to the pack (no, I would not use the word 'peleton' for this group; the word peleton implies a sophistication which was sadly lacking) it was down the road and my race was over. Such was the totality of my racing career.

That bike was later stolen (detecting a pattern here?) and insurance got me a Specialized Allez. This was the carbon-tubed model with aluminum lugs, this might have been around 1990. It was probably too much bike for me, although it did get me from Zig-Zag up to Timberline Lodge one summer. The best part of that ride? Passing a tour bus on the way down.

I later sold the Specialized and used the money to buy a mountain bike. This was a time in Portland's dark history when it wasn't as pleasant to ride on the roads as it is now. In fact, it was kind of hard to go an entire ride without some mouth-breathing nuckle-dragging Fox News-watching wahoo causing problems. But I'm not bitter. I thought that since the roads weren't that hospitable, maybe the dirt would be fun. I took up trail riding a little bit and maybe I'm lazy but whew, that's a lot of work.

I wound up putting the bike away while I focused on work and school. I graduated from Portland State University in December 2006 so that freed up some time and with gas prices inching their way up during Spring 2008 I decided that I would ride my bike to and from work.

My first commute was in Feb 2008, I don't recall exactly when I got up; it was 4:30 in the morning or some other god-awful o'dark thirty. I didn't have lights on my bike and I didn't know exactly where I was going. I just hopped on the Springwater Corridor trail and headed downtown. My goal was the Barbur Boulevard Transit Center, where I would put the bike on a bus and head the rest of the way into work (at least I had enough sense to know I was incapable of doing the entire distance in one swell foop).

I got lost a couple of times, and there's a stretch of the Springwater Corridor that is in a little valley and doesn't have any lights so I could barely see the path in the pitch black, then I finally made it over the Ross Island Bridge but I didn't realize that the route went up through the cemetery. I wound up trying to ride up Taylors Ferry from Macadam which wasn't going to happen given my lack of fitness. It's pitch black and raining, there's no shoulder other than the gravel, and I'm pushing my bike up the hill with morning rush-hour traffic whizzing by me, not that I have lights or even any reflectors to help them see me. Great. I made it to work, and then made it home somehow that afternoon. By the time I got back home and in the door, my legs were rubbery-numb with exhaustion: I had difficulty controlling them enough to walk up a few steps from the garage to inside the house, even though I had ridden less than 30 miles.

I fucking loved it.

The next time I commuted, I was wondering what the fuzzy-frosty stuff on the road was until my bike almost slid out from underneath me. Oh, that's what it was.

It took me over a year, but I finally worked up the strength and endurance to do the entire commute by bike (about 50 miles round-trip). On days that I didn't commute, I would occasionally do a lunch time ride with a group of strong riders at work.

I felt a little stronger and did a few organized rides including a few centuries. I enjoyed the challenge of the more difficult rides, but wasn't really aware of the Ultracycling scene yet. I was looking for people to ride with and finally wound up at the Meetup.com site for Northwest Butts on Bikes (NWBOB). I would attend some of the longer and more difficult rides. I was talking to the ride leader that did most of these types or rides, Kevin Van Dyck, and found out about the Furnace Creek 508, Race Across Oregon, and the whole Ultracycling scene in general.

This appealed to me for some reason. Even though I don't have a history of competition behind me, I think my base physiology is conducive to success in endurance events. I'm pretty sure I don't have the fast twitch anaerobic capability that is required in cyclocross or criteriums.

I also would like to think that I have what it takes as far as the mental side of endurance racing goes. There is a certain amount of mental fortitude and stubbornness required in this sport. Some rides I’ve finished have been entirely on mental power; there certainly wasn't anything left in my legs. On other rides, the boredom has been almost worse than the fatigue. I’ve found that it really helps to start focusing on my form when this happens. I start concentrating on performing good pedal strokes, relaxing the upper body & neck, maintaining cadence and heart rate. Focusing on these takes my mind off the X hours that I still have to go. If that doesn't work, I change the display on my GPS so it doesn't show distance.

The other aspect I'm interested in exploring is my competitive side. I have never considered myself a competitive person; indeed, I'm probably more of a quitter. While remaining an honorable and ethical sportsman, I am looking forward to exceeding my comfort zone regarding competition. I also know that I need to get out and ride with people that are a lot better than me, I have a tendency to think I'm better than I really am.

I've certainly got my work cut out for me. Since I started riding consistently and seriously, I've just barely cracked 10,000 miles total. If all goes as planned, I will equal if not exceed that distance this year.


(1) Lyrics from The Distance by Cake, please don't sue me.