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.