the other day i was sitting around thinking of what to do for my birthday feats of strength.  i usually come up with something the day before or the day of my birthday, but this year i’ve been thinking about it quite a bit.  for a long time i’ve wanted to do a long road trip somewhere,  maybe iceland, peru, alaska, even to california.  all of these will require me taking a lot of time off of work and probably lots of support.  then it hit me…. i live about 100 miles round trip from work, wouldn’t it be cool if i could ride to work for one week?  it would be about 500 miles, i could bail out any time i want.  no sleeping bag or tent, and i don’t have to take any time off of work.  well, i already told a few people i was going to try it, including my boss…or i am going to tell twitter as soon as i finish writing this.

the thing that i am most worried about is my butt.  i don’t think it’s going to make it.  as i said, i can bail anytime i want or need to.

it’s coming up in a couple of weeks, i’ll keep you posted.

race! i actually did a while back, up at winter park. i was on a roll after doing the boulder short track.

i got there kind of late, which seems to be my signature move these days. good thing i registered early so i didn’t have to do anything but tell them my name. i got my packet and rode back to the car. as i rode back it started to rain just a bit… then a bit more, then it became a torrential downpour and to be in it, was no fun.

i quickly put on my rain jacket and tried to warm up the best i could. there wasn’t a whole lot of time so i just grabbed the stuff i needed from the car and rode off to the lift. the race actually took place high up on the mountain atop the mary jane ski run. i threw my bike on the lift and hopped on the next chair as the lift circled around. i forgot to take off my camel bak and it was under my rain jacket and full of water…. a little too full. so full i couldn’t sit all the way back in the chair. i tried to sit a little sideways but the seat was soaking wet and swinging back and forth because i was one person all the way on the left of a 5 seater. i decided that just sitting still would be the best thing.

cold and freezing i sat there holding on to the back of the seat. the rain was still coming down hard and any warmth i had from my “warm up” was quickly fading. the ride to the top took forever, and i was so glad to be at the top. it actually felt warmer at the top than it did at the bottom. i got on my bike and quickly rode to the starting line. this got me a little warm but no where near what i needed.

within a few minutes some guy started the race and we were off. i raced with the young experts and the single speeders…. believe me, all these guys were good. i used to be a good climber but these days with all my slow rides filled with picture taking and beer drinking…. i had nothing on anybody. i labored up these hills as everyone around me passed like i was 93 years old. the course consisted of three 6 mile laps of a really long steep hill followed by fast twisty down hill single track.

as i got to the top of the hill tired and beaten, i would accelerate as i dropped down into the single track. i’m still a pretty good technical rider and i could get some places back as i wound through the trees. each up hill i would loose about five or six places… and each down hill i would gain two or three. a net loss, but at least i found something i was good at.

i finished the race tired and sore, with eyes full of mud, and my tail between my legs. not quite the cinderella story i had hoped for, but it wasn’t bad for an ex-cyclist.

i have so many things to do around the house.  they used to be just part of my honey-do list, but because i have failed to do them in a decent amount of time,  things have grown into my get-rid-of-this-so-i-can-walk-through-my-house list.   anyway, today was the day when i was going to do it all. heh…

i woke up pretty early and took ziggy [my puppy] for a big 6 mile trail run.  he did a great job. i used to take him when he was younger, and he used to complain a bunch, but no that he’s almost 9 months old he’s a lot tougher.  we were done by 11 and i was feeling pretty good. still plenty of time in the day to get some work done.

after a quick shower and some mindless time wasting, i started out in the garage with big plans and boundless energy.  just as i was starting, my son came by and asked if i ever fixed his road bike wheel.   i said “no, is it pretty bad?”  i spun it and found that it couldn’t even spin without rubbing the break.  so i took it off and put it in the truing stand and gave it my best shot.  i am not that good at wheel truing, but if i take my time i can usually get it done.  i gave it two pretty good shots and finally i had something that would turn.  just as i was putting it in, my son came back out and asked if we could get him some handle bar tape.

“uh..yeah”, i said

before i knew it we were in the car heading to ft collins to the bike shop.  in the bike shop we quickly found the bar tape…then browsed around. hmmm.. . found some sweet wheels that were unbelievably cheap.  oooo… and some brake cables, rim tape.  200 hundred dollars later we were heading home.

i tried to get my son to put everything together, but he didn’t have any experience in some of this stuff.  i gave him some smaller tasks like putting the rim tape on and the tires and tube.  anyway, by 5pm we were done and it was time to test ride the “new” bike.

"new" bike

"new" bike

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by 5pm i was ready to start my projects.  needless to say, i got tired and accomplished hardly anything i set out to…. but we got a pretty sweet bike in the mean time.

entertainment

last night on the ride home I noticed that ther was a big accident on the interstate. The bike path I ride is right next to the interstate but seperated by I very tall fence with tight pickets. There seemed to be a bunch of activity on the path itself. the weird thing was people were just rushing over toward the inter. Families, kids on bikes, dogs come one come all…

turns out that there was a wrong way driver and he wiped out 10 cars. He wa the only one killed, but lots were injured.

i started following lance armstrong’s tweets this year mostly because he was going to race the tour and i wanted the have the heads up on everything that was going on before and after the stages.  i was not disappointed.  lance is one of the most prolific tweeters around. he tweets first thing in the morning… right before bed,  he retweets articles, pictures, videos.  i’m never bored.  anyway right after the tour he went on vacation in the bahamas, then returned to aspen colorado to train for the leadville 100.

he had been doing the usual posts telling what ride he did, who he’s having beers with, then on a thursday [not remember the date] he posted that he was going to do a mountain states cup race at snowmass in aspen! i thought about it for a little bit, then decided that i would take the family and drive up to aspen race in the same race as lance armstrong, and have my family take a bunch of pictures of lance while i was at the back of the race making sure there was no one behind me. the family was on board and agreed to the 3and a half hour drive to aspen on saturday morning.

to make a long story short it took almost 4 and a half hours to get there.  i was 30 minutes late for the start of the race, and wasn’t about to try to jump in.   it’s kind of funny, because that morning i was really nervous about racing. i hadn’t raced for years and i wasn’t in shape…yadda yadda, yadda.  as we got closer and closer to aspen i started to realize that i was not going to make it.  when it became official that i was not going to make it, i started to really want to race.  i started to think in my mind that i was ready and i was going to do well…danm it!   when i got the race, 30 minutes late, and got to take a look at the area between laps. it was really long steep uphill fire road that went right through the base of the skii area.  there was no place to hide no where to back out, and no where for me to look good.  i was so happy i didn’t race.  my whole attitude changed, i went from grumpy asshole, to mr. sunshine in a blink of an eye.

so i got some pictures of lance:

lance after the first lap

lance after the first lap

P1060136

lance finishing or winning.

lance's people escorting him somewhere.

lance's people escorting him somewhere.

so it was an awesome day for me.  i didn’t even mind driving 4+ hours each way to stay for 2hours in aspen.

note: this is an older post i just reposted it because it was in the wrong spot.

spent friday and saturday in breckenridge. not the best place for a single speed.

one cold ride

as i was driving home i kicked off my mountain bike shoes while waiting for the light.  it seemed like a rather insignificant move, until the burning sensation in my toes started to overwhelm me.   all the heat in the world was not going to help me now.  i just had to endure the pain until the blood temperature stabilized in my feet.  it took a few minutes but i assure you that it finally stopped.

i am now sitting here in my house wearing my pj’s and wool socks and an old hoodie recalling the pain from just a couple hours ago.  what happened was not a mistake, nor was it regrettable.  i went out for a really really cold mountain bike ride.  it was about 14 degrees when i started, and about 12 when i finished.  frequently i commute in the really cold, and i’ll often run in the bitter cold as well…. i hardly ever mountain bike in such cold weather.

mountain biking in cold weather is a bit more difficult than running or road biking.  it is difficult to regulate effort in mountain biking. you never really know when you are going to exert yourself.  you could go for miles without ever exerting yourself or you could start right off the bat.  the effort is usually not constant and you are likely to have spells of unbridled frigidity.  what happens is that during the moments of exertation you sweat, and almost immediately afterward the sweat freezes and suddenly you feel a little colder than when you started.  my feet get especially cold for some reason. it must be because i wear my cleats, and they have a hard plastic bottom.  the other difficult thing is trying to get enough air through the balaclava.

it was a cold difficult ride today….i can’t really say that i enjoyed it very much either.  however, after finishing this ride i felt as if i had accomplished something really big.  i feel tougher as well.  i don’t get that feeling with every ride, but when it happens it makes everything worthwhile.

the gutter bunny

once again the winter season is upon  us, and it is time to toughen up and get out on your bike.  well at least that is what i used to think….back when i was insane.  a few days ago i put on my snow studded tires and headed out the door on a 10 degree morning.  i was actually pretty warm since i figured out how to dress properly.  for the past ten years i have been ‘experimenting” with different clothes and such.  and now i am going to share with you all of my findings:

1. spandex/lycra does not keep you warm.  it does keep you aero dynamic, but small consolation when your entire body is freezing.

2. in general, stay away from tight fitting clothes. it prevents your body from “free convection.” in other words the warm air your body produces can not circulate around to warm other parts of your body. most importantly, is that tight clothing inhibits blood circulation.  when you body is cold it needs all the blood it can get.

3. tight shoes should also be avoided.  pretty much the same reason as tight clothes.  i started riding with platform pedals in the winter because my road shoes were too tight.  since i have platform pedals i can wear my hiking shoes and nice wool socks.

4. never wear cotton.  cotton will kill you. [period!]

5. protect your face.  my face tends to get cold without me knowing it.  i usually wear a balaclava when the weather gets sub 20.  however, i just noticed that i have this weird skin discoloration around my forehead. as i was riding in the other day i just realized that it must be from frost bite on my face.  this happened years ago when i used to ride in to boulder in 0 degree weather.  i used to use a balaclava with my sun glasses.  as it turned out the coverage from most head covers leave lots of exposed skin.  the part under your eyes is not too critical, since it gets warmth from your heavy breathing.  the parts of your face that are exposed above your eyes are the most endangered.  when the weather gets below 10 or so,  i use ski goggles to cover those unprotected areas.  i am currently looking for a balaclava with eye holes [let me know if you find one].

6. always protect your eyes.  use clear or yellow lenses if there is no sunshine, but always wear something.  defog them as well.  if you are using a face cover [balaclava], your breath will fog the glasses.  rub some dish soap over the lenses before you go out, this sometimes helps.

7. blocking the wind is almost equivalent to blocking the cold.  i have not had any luck with “wind stopper” material. i have have luck with gortex.  i have this great big gortex cycling shell that i can put over anything.  it should be a size or two smaller, but i bought it on sale, and i will wear it as is…thank you.  it has the vent in the back and zipper arm pits. i think these features are almost essential. i’ve tried to wear rain jackets without vents, to block out the cold, and it was like being in a pressure cooker.

8. go ahead and wear rain proof pants.  these are the light wind breaker type shells.  i have a pair of really cheap ones that are great for cycling.  i really like cheap, because you don’t have to worry about ripping them or getting them dirty.  anyway, same idea as the previous topic. you want to keep the wind from blowing away your heat.  there are some wind stopper tights that may work for you, but what i have found is that having anything tight on your legs slows your circulation and makes your feet really cold.

9. something warm inside.  i wear micro fleece. this is not tight fitting, but not real loose either.  it needs to fit more like a shirt, and less like a jacket [does that make sense?].  i have a pair of micro fleece long underwear and a micro fleece top, that i wear under my wind shells.  i have used this combination from about 10-32 degrees f. when it gets less than 10 i may throw on a an extra long sleeve poly top.

10.  finally, the most important tip.  for your hands i would recommend a bran new pair of ski gloves.  again make sure they are somewhat water proof, and fairly loose fitting.  the important part is that they are new.  old gloves loose their r-value.  especially if they have been washed or wet.  i used to wear the same pair for years… every year my hands seemed colder and colder. i tried liners and covers…but nothing worked  until i bought a new pair of burton ski gloves.  my hands are now the least of my problems.

so these tip are for those who want to ride no matter what!  actually these tip are only good for about sub 30 temps.  it might be a little too much for the higher temps, depending on how much you like to hammer.  also remember that a warm body performs much better than a cold body.  so the fact that you are warm may make you want to go faster.

this last sunday was kind of a screwed up day.  i had promised my coworkers that i would come in to work to help out on this really late project, but i had so many things i wanted to do at home.  i woke up extremely early, thinking that if i somehow started early i would have more time to get everything done.  however i ended up just sitting around my dining table till nine o’clock drinking under powered coffee and surfing craigslist for killer bike parts.  i had no plan on how i was going to accomplish everything…but now i had less time to do it.  alas i was committed to my company, and i would have to work.

i optimistically packed my sweet gary fisher “rig” into my car, and reluctantly headed off to work.  i bring my bike with me almost everywhere i go.  it has almost become and accessory for me, i feel uncool without my bike.  also,  you never know when an impromptu bike ride might break out.  as a mortal cyclist, one should never be very far from his bike and helmet.  in fact, the further you are away from your bike, the further you are from “nirvana.”   it was about 9am when i started driving into work. i could already tell that it was going to be a beautiful day.  it was nearly 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and i could see the mountains as if they were moved in a little closer this morning.  especially the area where the mountain bike trails are.

i arrived at work about 9:30 and i could tell by the number of cars in the parking lot that i was the last one in.  my first thought was,”hey, everyone is here, they don’t need me.”  i tried to figure out a way to justify not being there, but i drew a blank.  after about 30minutes of assessing the situation, i finally came up with a plan.  i would start up my laptop, copied a bunch of the project files over, and told a few key people that i was going to “work at home” and i would be back a “little later.”  i bolted out of there, and headed off to the trail.  the plan worked perfectly!  actually since i left so quickly i didn’t wait or look for any reactions…frankly i don’t think anyone had time to respond.  i probably could have just said, f@##k you guys i’m out of this hell hole and run out the door with the same success as my well thought out plan.

within 15 minutes i was sitting at the trail head in my work clothes, waiting for people to drift away so i could change in my car.  i’m really quite modest about changing in public and having a small car, makes it difficult to hide.   i always end up changing while sitting in the drivers seat. this is kind of hard to do, but it allows me to monitor the parking lot through the mirrors and windows.  i can see if anyone is getting too close.  i always have this fear that right when i am in the transitional period of my wardrobe change, someone is going to come up to the window and ask directions.  to date, it’s never happened, but you can never be too cautious.  this time my head was clouded with anticipation of the ride and i failed to get my cycling clothes ready before i removed my work clothes.  so there i sat naked in the drivers seat, frantically looking for my cycling shorts.  of course they were tangled up in something else, and they were inside out.  i quickly put them on and then threw my baggies on over the top.  the cycling shorts i use are actually an old pair of pearl izumi micro sensors that have become a screen door to my backside.  since the padding in those things are way better than anything else, i usually ware them underneath my baggies.  i think i made it without anyone noticing me, at least no one gave me a dirty look when i got out of the car.

i finally got everything together and i was out on the trail.  after about a mile or so i could tell that something was different.  my seat height moved or something.  it was kind of weird, because i am usually really compliant with multiple heights.  i change my seat height all the time.  in fact, i have a  multitude of seat heights one for every situation; climbing, technical, downhill, and bonking.  all of these heights with no markings at all.  i stopped and lowered it a bit.  the bike still didn’t feel right, and now my knees were hurting.  i stopped once again and this time i tried raising it to my “climbing” position.  without success i started to wonder if my handle bars had moved somehow.  i stopped and checked them out, but i couldn’t find anything wrong with them either.  i finally decided that maybe i was just tight and needed to loosen up.  the next five miles were all up hill, and about half way up my back started hurting a little.  this was not serious,  but i usually don’t have any back problems.  i made it up the 5.5mile climb with a rather good pace considering all the weirdness.

the down hill part of this ride is usually awesome.  it’s filled with winding single track and sharp blind corners.  i usually bomb this part of the ride, and i took off like all was well…..but it wasn’t!  right away i missed a turn an rode off into the weeds.  no problem, i got back in a hurry and a hundred yards later i’m back in the weeds.   so after the second recovery i noticed my back tire getting a little sloppy.  this distracted me for a while sending me off course yet again.  thinking that the semi-flat tire was my problem all along,  i stop and put some air into the massive 29’rs with my 6 inch pump.  with my arms now slightly worn out i got back on track with a whole new attitude.  a couple of successful turns and i was ready to prematurely declare that the crisis was over.   then suddenly… a couple of back to back near misses with a rock, tree…and another cyclist.   i slowed down a bit and then i noticed my back tire was still loosing some air, and i developed a pig-squeal on my front wheel somehow.   i must have hit a goat head in the weeds, but i don’t know about the squeal.  i changed the tube filled it with air and headed back down the trail.  this time i finally decided that today was not my day to achieve “nirvana”.  i slowed down and nonchalantly rode back to my car and drove home…with my tail between my legs.  i wasn’t completely down, i had things to be happy about, like i was still alive and not working on this beautiful day.

in the back of my mind however i knew something was wrong.  some days are better than others …i guess.  so i went to take a shower and removed my baggies first, leaving my road shorts on……. and what do you know?  my pearl izumi micro sensors were on backwards!  these things have a huge pad and definitely meant to be worn in one specific direction.  if you have ever put them on backwards you will know how awkward they are.  i guess the discomfort was making me shift my weight in a way i was not used to, and this threw everything off.  i must have been so preoccupied with everything else being wrong that i failed to noticed the obvious.

i figured out some new ex-math to help you improve your ex-miles-per-gallon in you vehicle.  the way i see it mileage is the number of miles that it takes to get you from one place to another.  it takes me 17 miles to get to work.  if i ride my bike one day that is 34 miles i didn’t drive my car…i can add it to my car’s total mileage.  if i go out for a 100 mile weekend ride, i can not add it to my mileage.  however if i ride out to a bike trail and ride the trail, i could arguably add that to my car’s total.    here are some rules:

1. only add miles that you used to replace a car drive.

2. do the calculation after each fill up.  don’t just drive a mile and fill it up after a really long commute and get like infinity miles per gallon.

3. do it for a long period of time, just to see how much you save.

sample calculation for this tank:

miles driven = 420

miles ridden=  102

total miles = 522

total gallons= 11

ex-miles per gallon= 522/11=  47.5 emg!!!  [note this is with only 3 days of bike commuting]