Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Painting != Cycling" or "The Cleansing Power of Cycling"

On a normal Thursday, I'd wake up before the crack of dawn (until the time change on Sunday) and go for a ride. Lately, I've been riding up the canyon--part of which is on a very nice path. This path is nice because a) cars don't drive on it, b) silky smooth pavement, and c) at this time of day, there are no people on it either. Because it has been so dark lately, it has been really quite an experience. There are trees over-shadowing the path. Combine that with the small tunnel of light from my handlebar-mounted Cabeza-Logic and I really feel like I'm flying along through a tunnel with leaves fluttering all around. It is quite fun.

Today, however, I got up and painted. This is reminiscent of the last few days of life-outside-of-work, where I've been spending a good portion of my time painting. Painting isn't really that bad--unless compared against any other activity in the world!

Okay, perhaps it isn't even as bad as all that, but to contrast it against my normal activity of cycling, it sucks.

It is on days like this that I realize that cycling really is a stabilizer in my life. My stresses and projects vary from day-to-day and week-to-week, but no matter what is happening with the rest of my life, cycling is there to wipe the day clean. When I start out the day without a ride, I feel like I still have yesterday's worries like so much soap scum built up on me. Only the power of cycling (*now with extra whitening!*) can clean me off and prepare me for my day.

Which reminds me, yesterday the Fat Cyclist wimped out and drove to work instead of riding. He felt like a schmuck, and asked readers to insult him accordingly. As I've thought about an appropriate insult, I realized that nothing I could say would have a more profound impact on him than the act of actually skipping a ride. He'll remember the day when he was all out-of-sorts and needed the cleansing power of cycling. He'll be unlikely to make that mistake again.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"Don't get cocky!"

I was reminded of a line from Star Wars this weekend. You know the one, Han and Luke are in the little gunner areas in the Millenium Falcon. Luke takes out a ship and starts to celebrate and Han says something like this: "Great shot, kid. Don't get cocky!"

So, when I started out my ride on Saturday (road), my legs were a little stiff, but I felt pretty good. As I turned from a side-road on to a main street, I noticed that there was another cyclist ahead of me. I set out to catch him, thinking there wasn't any way I'd be able to. Before long, I was passing him. I felt pretty good, pretty confident. Then I came to an intersection and had to stop. He caught up to me and started to talk. As we both moved off the line together, he started telling me about the rides he's been on, including the LOTOJA 5 years in a row. He then told me, conversationally, about a really hard ride (for me), that he'd done "half a dozen times this year." He said none of this in arrogance, or showing off, just making conversation. Before we part ways, I found out that he was on his way home from a long ride, with a bunch left to go. Did I mention how much older than me he was? Suddenly, I didn't feel so hot anymore.

Don't get cocky, kid.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Part II: Shimano Dual Control--please don't break on me [though you probably will].

Remember my friend who broke his new dual-control XT shift/brake levers? Well, they broke again. This time while his bike was sitting in the back of a pickup truck with a few other bikes. Wow. I am speechless about this. As it turns out, however, two times is enough to convince him to pony up around $250 to by XT rapid-fire shifters and XT hydraulic brake levers.

Interestingly enough, most of the bikes I rode at the Outdoor Demo at Interbike (the mountain bikes, anyway) were running SRAM X.O shifters. I think the ratio of SRAM to Shimano Dual-Control was something like 5-1 for the bikes I rode. How did I like the new X.0? Well, this isn't a review, but I loved them. Hopefully, you'll see a review on soon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Calfee Dragonfly-Pro

While at Interbike last week, I got the chance to ride a lot of exotic bicycles--as well as some down-to-earth ones. I'll try and post some highlights of the whole show in the upcoming days. Go here for James' blog where you can see lots of cool pictures that have already been posted.

One of the most fantastic bikes I rode was the Calfee Dragonfly-Pro. This particular model was built with Topolino wheels (carbon tubulars) and Campagnolo Record Carbon, a custom Calfee bar-stem combo and various other expensive and beautiful parts. The finished product was a bike that came in under 14lbs complete (without my Eggbeaters which, of course, I added for the ride).

I can't give this bike a full review, as I only rode it on the short road course at the Outdoor Demo (which was new pavement), but I can say that it was a bike that stuck out from the crowd of expensive road bikes I tried that day. Besides having a light and stiff frame, the VERY light Topolino wheels contributed to the feel. It was so quick, and accelerated with so little effort, I spent the whole ride slowing down just so I could stand up and mash the pedals for another burst of speed. Another ultra-light part spec was the all-carbon saddle. Was it comfortable? Not really. I mean, I had to find the right spot to sit to be able to relax on the saddle. On the other hand, I've been on heavier padded seats that were less comfortable.

Overall, I hope to see more of the Dragonfly-Pro... at least in my dreams.