Friday, April 28, 2006

Random Ramblings

I don't ride nearly as much as I'd like to. At least, I don't ride at the times I'd like to. Meaning: I'm sitting at my desk when I should be riding. And I should be sleeping when I'm riding. Don't get me wrong, starting out the day on my bike is fantastic. I only wish I didn't need to start out my day that early.

I don't sleep nearly as much as I'd like to. As it turns out, the amount of sleep I get is inversely proportional to the amount of riding I do. See "Time" above.

Bicycle Maintenance
I don't clean my bike nearly as often as I ought to. My headset squeaks. (At least I got all the dried worms off. Did I say I wasn't going to mention that again? I hope not.) Actually, I don't even work on my bike as much as I need to. I still need to bleed my brakes on my Jekyll.

I don't have enough bib shorts. In this case, the marketing is actually working. I find that the more I look at bibs in the various mail-order catalogs I get, the more I think $100 isn't that bad for a bit of lycra with some fancy foam sewn in.

Although I get paid enough for my day/desk job, I don't get paid at all for riding my bike, so it evens out. My wife would be quick to point out, however, that even though I get paid nothing for riding my bike, it also costs a lot. Perhaps things aren't that even after all

LOTOJA Training
The hardest part about training for a long ride like LOTOJA, is getting in the long rides. I find it not too difficult to spend some time on my bike every day. If I count time on the trainer, I can spend at least an hour on my bike every weekday. (I'm sure the trainer doesn't count as miles, but surely it ought to count as time.) Even the long rides on the weekends are getting harder to do as my list of yardwork/home improvement projects continues to back up.

I recently read this article about Ben Jacques-Maynes' Nevada Merckx. The article seemed to look down it's nose at the fact that Ben uses Crank Brothers 4Ti Eggbeaters pedals. This, to me, begs the question: How does having more than one entry/release point make this pedal bad for road cycling? (Actually Speedplay's road pedals have two, so maybe I should say "more than two.") It isn't weight, because these things are really light. I know those on the pro tour like things expensive, but last I checked, these were some of the most expensive money could by. (This is off the point, but did I mention I ride with Eggbeaters on my road bike? I love the mechanism/feel of them.)

Children's Bikes
I finally saw a kid actually riding one of those cool chopper-style bikes down the road. He was weaving all over the place. His little sister, however, was riding a standard bmx-style pink kids bike--she was much more stable. Suddenly it occurred to me: When a kid is learning to ride--and hopefully learning to love--bikes, the last thing they need is for the marketing department to get involved. Here's my idea of a perfect kids bike:
  1. Smooth-ish tires with enough air volume to take the edge of small bumps, but not so big it is hard to pedal.
  2. Easy to mid-range gear. Again, this will make pedaling easy, even when they have to ride back up your driveway to put the bike away.
  3. Make the bike somewhat upright, but not laid-back. You want comfort, but you also want efficient. You want children to feel the rush of speed and the wind in their hair with very little effort.
  4. Make the sizing more adjustable. This one is for the parents. Give the seat about 12" of vertical adjustment, and about 6 of fore-aft adjustment. Okay, that might look freaky with really long rails, but at least do the vertical.
  5. Listen carefully to this one: GENDER NEUTRAL COLORS/DESIGN! So, I got my oldest (a girl) a purple Specialized. Of course, I needed to buy my son a blue one. I'm going to end up with 15 PAIR of bikes, because I need to keep swapping sizes, and I can't bring myself to put my son on a pink bike. What's wrong with silver or white? Yellow?
Of course, my bike wouldn't sell, so then I'd call back in the marketing team and they'd tell me to sell what they're already selling.

Off Topic
The most random of all: Visual Studio .Net 2003 breaks the website everytime I have to open a page in design view. Sometimes I hate this thing. (Sorry that this one is so extremely off topic. I'll do better. I mean, I have yet to mention that SQL Server Managment Studio 2005 is the slowest program Microsoft has ever produced. Oops, I did it again.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I completed my first century on Saturday. This particular century had virtually no hills. Basically, I wanted to pace myself and find out how I could handle the miles and time in the saddle.

When riding on the road, I spend a lot of time thinking. When I spend hours and hours riding on the road, I think a lot. I thought of a lot of things I saw, learned and felt while riding. When I got back, I was tired, thirsty and hungry. Now that a few days have passed, I find that many of those thoughts have faded. Let that be a lesson: My memory is terrible, write things down.

The day started out cold and wet. Really wet. Although it wasn't raining much, the streets were flooded with water and worms.

Yes, more worms. I'll spare you the details of yet another account of my worm slaughtering but will add this one statement to my past ramblings on the subject: Dead, dried worms stuck to my leg hairs is grosser than gross.

By about the half-way point, the sun was out in full force, and we dried up pretty quickly. Of course, at that point, I paid the price for no sunscreen.

This century was unsupported, so I carried a lot of energy gel and bars. I also brought several extra servings of Cytomax for when I stopped to fill up. By the end of the day, about the only thing I could stand was my homemade energy gel and the Cytomax. I don't know if I'll ever stop hating Vanilla Crisp PowerBars. I've got to think of something else to bring with me on my next unsupported century.

Here's something I learned: I'm no where near prepared for the LOTOJA. I mean, the century was long and it wore me out, but it didn't kill me. However, there were exactly zero serious climbs. I've already been planning out my next long ride. I think it'll top out at over 8,000 ft, so that's closer to what I need.

Another thing I learned: There is no glory in dropping two 18 yr olds that haven't ridden since the fall and are riding on (literally) 20+ year old 2nd-hand store bikes. One bike featured zip ties holding the water bottle cages on. (Incidentally, one of the cages didn't last past the first corner. Which meant he made it the whole way stopping no more often than me, with only one small water bottle.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I was watching the highlight video of Paris-Roubaix and was curious about the bike riden by Fabian Cancellara to the win. Here it is, the Cervelo R3.

The first thing I noticed about it was the super thin seat stays. If you read on, they say that those seat stays aren't actually necessary, except for torsional loads, so they built them almost like leaf springs. The Bayonne version (still prototype) is only 750g! Here's another amazing fact: Normally, the bikes ridden on the Paris-Roubaix are heavy. They have big tires, heavy wheels, and stout components. (Read about what happened to George Hincapie to see why that matters for this race.) Cervelo says this bike is built up for the classics at the UCI limit of 6.8kg!

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can watch a video of some people taking the prototype Bayonne and prototype Cross R3 off-road. Besides being able to see how well these bikes hold up, I love the music. Nice work on the video.

Despite being very light, these bikes seem strong. I'm going to try and get an R3 for testing. I'll let you know when I get it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

LOTOJA, Here I Come!

I received this in an email yesterday:

THANK YOU for registering for the 2006 LOTOJA Classic. Your online application was received on April 10 and approved on April 11, 2006. The category you are registered in is CITIZEN 27-34.

I'm in!

What this means is now I'm committed to doing it. I have already spent my non-refundable $130. I now have a little less than 5 months to prepare--though I've already been preparing with that ultimate goal in mind.

Saturday is the Willard Bay Century up north of Salt Lake City. It is supposed to rain, but I plan to be there. This particular century is free, which is a pleasant way of saying unsupported. I've been trying to work out how I'm going to carry enough water, but I'm hoping a) the ride isn't too far from civilization and b) they take credit-cards.

Fortunately, the LOTOJA is supported, and my good friend Brian Heckert has already volunteered to drive support for me on that. In fact LOTOJA is a full-on USCF-sanctioned race. As such, part of my $130 goes to a one-day license (citizen-class).

At one point, I thought I'd at least share the road with some big names, but have since learned they stagger the start. I won't be starting until about 1.25 hours after the pros start. Here's the unfairness of that: That's 1.25 less hours I have to complete the race before the cut-off time 8:15pm. That means my average speed will need to be a blistering (for me) 16.5mph for the whole day (including breaks--if I get them). All 206 miles of it.

I'll keep this spot updated with my training progress.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Weight Weenie

As with many people in this over-weight world we live in, I've been trying to lose weight. You see, I didn't like how fake I'd look on a really nice bike, with my gut hitting the top tube. I actually have lost some weight (about 10lbs), but I don't look anywhere near road-biker-skinny yet.

One of the reasons I like my Synapse so well, and a factor in why I fell in love with it during my review, was the weight. You see, I was surprised that I could really tell the difference (especially in the wheels) when compared to my old heavy road bike. Some of that difference is in the stiffness of the frame, but surely not all of it.

Thus began my love of all things light.

Or, to be more precise, it reminded me of how much I used to love light things before I gave all that up in favor of fun.

Back before suspension forks were all the rage, I remember counting grams on my old mountain bike--no small feat considering how many grams made up my bike. I remeber looking at things like titanium bolts and scandium brake boosters thinking such things as, "Wow, that'd save about 50 grams off my current setup" and, "$30 for a bolt isn't that expensive." Luckily, I didn't have any money back then to spend on bolts.

More recently (but not the present), I realized that I'd rather have a plush full-suspension bike with gobs of travel, big disc brakes, and beefy tires. My mountain bike is heavy, but oh so fun. Sure, I'd rather have a lighter stem, wheels or tires, but I really enjoy riding my bike.

Lately, I've been putting more miles on the Synapse. In fact, my mountain bike probably feels a little dejected. (At least part of my neglect, though, is due to the snow in the mountains.) Because of that, I've been really thinking about how I could shave some weight off my current mountain rig. Funny, that.

*wife, don't read this next part*

In truth, though, my real desire isn't to make my full suspension bike lighter. What I'm really planning out in my evil plotting mind is what I want for my next bike. Perhaps a light-weight hardtail? Maybe something more XC-oriented? It's an illness, I know.

*okay, wife, you can read again*

I won't be buying anything anytime soon, though, and I'm quite happy with what I've got. Who wouldn't be? I'd better just concentrate on my weight for now. It's much cheaper--though perhaps not as fun to obsess over.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What's grosser than gross?

Remember that old childish game? My friends and I would sit around and think up the most disgusting things to try and gross each other out.

Yesterday, the weather was perfect--or at least it was while I was out riding. Though it was windy, cold and snowy/rainy later in the day, while I was out, it was warm and partly-cloudy. It had rained all the previous night, but the warm air managed to dry most of the roads out--with only an occasional puddle.

Although I knew I didn't have time, I was trying to find my way around the south end of Utah Lake. I actually managed to find my way--or at least as near to it as I had time. There were hardly any cars on the roads. For the most part, it was only me and the cows that were out.

And the worms.

The roads were littered with worms--most of which seemed to be perpendicular to my path. At first, I tried to avoid them, but as I watched more closely, and discovered the sheer number of them, I realized that was futile. On I went, slaughtering worms in my wake.

Only at the end of my ride, did I notice what had become of my pristine, new Synapse. Worms, and worm-parts splattered all over my bike. One carcass got caught on my passing crank arm as it got flung from my spinning wheel. I found it wrapped around the crank arm and dried up. Another fatality.


I knew I'd have to clean off road grime, but I didn't think of counting worms as part of the "grime".

A Side Note
I'm training for my first century on April 15th. Yesterday's ride was 66.1 miles with an average of 17.4 mph. I feel like I'm on target for the century, but it'll kill me. I plan to do some short rides during the week (because of time) with another long one next weekend. The final week before the ride, I plan to taper off and only ride a few easy days.

Boonen Wins Tour of Flanders! (That's 2 years in a row!)

Congratulations to Tom Boonen. The first person to win Flanders wearing the World Championships jersey since Eddy Merckx. To be compared in any way to Merckx would be enough in and of itself. Also, this win puts Boonen in the lead of the ProTour.

Click here for more.