Description

An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!


Monday, December 23, 2013

The last day of work...

Things are pretty quiet on the day job today, though I am actually getting something constructive done (for which they pay me, not just doing my last-minute online shopping). Of the few people that even showed up today, and the fewer still that are hanging around at lunchtime, most are just biding their time until the boss does the annual tour-of-shaking-hands to wish us a "happy holidays" (another soap-box rant). They then ignore the sound of beating feet towards the door as soon as they turn their backs.

I do have some other things I want to do today. And some other things I need to do today.

I think what I miss most about my younger days (college) is the week or so BEFORE Christmas, when the last final exam was completed -- the stress was off, I could do all my shopping in a day, and then just chill and mentally/spiritually prepare. Trying to fit all that into the cracks of life is a drain, and really I tend to just do what's necessary, waiting until it's finally over to be able to enjoy myself a bit.

Kinda sad, really.

But my new daughter gets to celebrate her first Christmas, even if she'll have absolutely no idea what's happening. That's okay, there will be plenty of pictures with which to embarrass her later.

Yesterday, my family and Eric's family (the guy I do a lot of riding and running with) went into Seattle for the gingerbread house display, dinner at Gordon Biersch, and some shopping while waiting for the "indoor snow" and a Santa appearance. While waiting, Eric's daughter mentioned about how "Santa isn't real."

Ah... Time for me to step in. At 12 years old, she was mature enough to understand.

"What do you mean, 'Santa isn't real'? Don't you believe in magic?"

Blank stare. I don't think she expected anyone to challenge that thought. Least of all the engineer.

"Tell me something -- how do you feel when you give someone something?"

Another blank stare. She was trying to figure out how to answer the NEXT question without answering THIS one. I persisted.

"When you give something to someone, how does that make you feel? Do you feel good about it?"

Subtle nod with a cautious, "Yeeeeaaaaahhhh?"

"That's Santa! The spirit of giving! When you're 2 years old, you have no way to understand that, so you need something magical, some one to BE that spirit until you can understand the feeling yourself. But by the time you're old enough to figure out that the big guy in the red suit really DOESN'T come down the chimney, you're also old enough to understand the real magic. When you give someone something because you care, that's the magic, that's Santa."

She smiled and nodded.

Happy Christmas, or however you celebrate, to all.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Three-up Riding

I've never had a great sprint on the bike. I did okay in high school track and even in the 5K distance in college, where I at least wouldn't get left behind. But on the bike, I've just never had that big snap, the acceleration to come around some one at the end of a race.

I can't tell you how many races I've ended up third in a 3-man break away. I'm very good at creating a break away, and keeping them going to stay away from the group, but when it comes to the finish line, I'm the caboose.

One particular race stands out in my mind, mainly because I had a comfortable solo lead going over the last (huge) mountain, but was caught by two on the descent, and when the final sprint was there, I was third.

This brings me to yesterday's shop group ride. Nyer, the owner of Inspired Ride Bicycles, wasn't going to make it, and I was working the day, so I got there early and settled in, prepping everything. When ride time came, there was that familiar number -- three.

It's usually a non-competitive ride, somewhat social but still scooting along. Sometimes if the group is larger, it'll break up into two groups, one going faster, and maybe longer than the normal loop. With the small numbers, and me having to be back to open the shop doors, the normal loop was the call of the day.

We set out, and I led through the first few miles where we wind through a park, and made our way through some busier roads before crossing Meridian, the major north/south arterial, and onto the chip-sealed back roads. I didn't want things to get too pedestrian, so I kept the pace on the high side for the group.

Once into the open road in Sunrise, an out-of-place four lane road, the other two finally came to the front and pressed things. A nice downhill, and then they started flagging on the gentle incline on the other side. This is where I usually start pulling the group apart if there's going to be a split. We stayed together, but I was pushing it. Heading west into the sun, one right-hander, another downhill, and the biggest hill of the ride.

As some one who's always been a pretty good climber, I can usually leave most people behind here. Not today, though. Those two stayed on my wheel, and I could already envision the familiar third-place finish as they sling-shot around me for the "win".

When it came, I was already settle with it. My place as lead-out man was secure, as was my normal role in criteriums and flat road races.

And so this ride ended as most of my three-up rides do -- I finish third when the last sprint comes.

Me came in first, with Myself a close second, and I followed in with a smile.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter in the Pacific Northwest



It’s amazing what a difference a day (and about 20 degrees) makes.

I’ve been mostly enjoying the lunchtime mountain bike rides this past couple weeks, when the temperatures haven’t ventured above freezing, and some mornings have ventured into the mid-West BRRRR territory. Sure, there’s a little bit of ice to deal with, but that’s easily avoided or coasted over. The ground, though, has been consistent, hard-packed (okay, frozen), and in some cases smoother than many of the PAVED roads I ride on. The frost heaves had proved to be strong enough to float my 155 lbs (hey, it’s after Thanksgiving) and bike.

Until today.

It was 45 degrees when I left for work at Oh-Dark-Thirty this morning, with a light drizzle. All those nicely hard-packed dirt roads that I’ve enjoyed these last couple weeks have turned into the natural equivalent of mashed potatoes. The security trucks that make the daily rounds back in the woods have left the frost heaves a rutted random washboard, punctuated with abrupt fall-through of two inches – kind of exciting mid-corner.

I liked riding in the cold. As much as I had to bundle up, I could hang up the clothes overnight to dry and take them out the next day. 

This time, not gonna happen. I looked like a Warrior Dash finisher by the end of an hour-long ride. The clothes will HAVE to be washed before their next outing. The pile of grit I left on the locker room floor would have made a good place to plant early corn. And I had to blow it out of my nose…
Winter in the Pacific Northwest.

I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Okay, except maybe someplace that has real winter. Or endless summer.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Buried treasure -- rummaging through the parts bin

Every once in a while I dig into the parts bin. Seems every cyclist who's been riding for more than 5 years has one -- that tub/box/area of parts that were taken off a bike for upgrades, or a broken frame, or somehow just accumulate.

Maybe they're breeding when the garage lights are turned off.

I'll admit that I've got some OLD stuff in my garage. I've culled it down significantly in the last few years, casting off pieces that would clearly see no road time on my bikes. And even at that, I've built up more than one bike from a bare frame just by raiding the parts bin. I've resuscitated many other's bikes as well with choice pieces from the archives.

Sometimes the impetus behind digging into the bin has nothing to do with cycling. Like when my wife declared that "the only thing I want for Christmas is to park my car in the garage." Well, clearly she didn't mean the ONLY thing. But I digress. That one triggered a depth of offload never before seen in my cycling life.

Of course it wasn't very long before I was looking for some of the things that were thrown out...

ANYway... Where was I going with all this?

Oh, yeah... In getting my garage (okay, my HALF of the garage) ready to build bike frames, I ran across a set of Ultegra brake levers. Not brake/shift levers. Brake levers. Vintage. Before brake/shift levers even existed. From when 7-speed clusters were the Big Thing, and rear dropouts were spaced at 126mm for road bikes. Now they'd be called single-speed brake levers.

And as I was riding my trainer this weekend, early in the morning because I was otherwise spending any daylight hours helping my mom move to a new and smaller apartment (which in itself triggered a desire to pare down the house), and because it was officially COLD out (14-16 degrees F, well beyond chilly for the Pacific Northwest), my mind wandered to my mountain bike, the one I keep at work, with which I'm still not completely happy about the handlebar configuration.

The SINGLE SPEED mountain bike.

LIGHTBULB!

I've got a selection of stems, which were collected in a spasm of thinking towards getting a fit studio going in the bike shop where I work, and I've got a compact drop bar that's awaiting a rebuild of the Barkley Softride (converting to disc brakes and upgrading the fork from the 1" standard, which I've realized is a long ways off, if it happens at all). I've got a set of road-pull disc brakes that were awaiting the same rebuild, or the upgrade of the MTB fork (and a new set of wheels, but that's peripheral).

Why not convert the MTB to drop bars? I've ridden drops off-road before, and it worked pretty well. Essentially I'd be making the MTB into a single-speed monster cross bike. I was putting off getting a fork because I figured I would MAKE one (I've got 20 sets of fork blades in a box that I picked up for a song, just waiting for my torch skills to catch up). Again, that's out somewhere in the future of who-knows-when. I could pick one up for around $60... yeah, looks kind of stupid in that light, eh?

So the final switch that brought that whole idea to fruition was the finding of those brake levers. Which are probably 20 or more years old. And working fine.

Treasure buried in the parts bin.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Wild Idea...

I live in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes referred to as the Pacific Northwet. Moss is our biggest crop. Slugs are our single most numerous fauna.

It's said that people move to this area because they visit during the summer. All two weeks of it.


Okay, that's a bit of a stretch. Summers here are awesome. Not too hot, bluest-of-blue skies, green mountains... Of course people who live here realize those mountains are green because it RAINS the rest of the year.

Still, the bike racing scene is a year-round affair, with road racing from February to September (and it truly sucks until you get well into April), cyclocross from September through November (the more mud the better), mountain biking pretty much all year, track racing from late May into early September (though it's hit-and-miss until July 10th or so).

Track riders either cross over to another discipline or get fat. Or both, in some cases. There is a subset of track riders that don't ride on the road. At all. But the Marymoor velodrome is outdoors... The only indoor 'drome anywhere near here is Burnaby, BC (that's Canadia, for the geographically challenged). That makes cycling at best a seasonal affair.

So I have this wild idea. How about another indoor velodrome? I've always wanted to have one. Or at least have one available. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

You see, there's this abandoned huge warehouse near me, and I think it'd be PERFECT. It used to house a Lowe's Home and Garden, but they moved to a new-and-larger location (just across the street, taking out a big chunk of forest and trails... ) a year or so ago, and this building has stood empty since. A Top Foods grocery store right next door, Wal-Mart within a quarter mile, a mall just a couple blocks away. Good parking, could easily house a 250m track with room for stands, a bike shop, a frame building shop (hehe), a food vendor (a local donut shop has expressed interest in the building as well, though he wants to open it as a BMX track)... Could even do 'cross races with some creative course work (see that video I posted just a couple days ago).

I talked with the owner of the bike shop where I work, and he's got some ideas on cost, though having the loan note overhead could be daunting. Insurance could be an issue as well (one reason I'm not too keen on a BMX venue).

We've got some feelers out on interest for the venue as an indoor velodrome...

It's a wild idea, and it may not go anywhere, but I think it's worth pursuing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting my bearings...

This past week, I've had two bearings go out on me. Sealed cartridge units that are supposedly impervious to the elements. Well, mostly, anyway.

The first was on the front wheel of my mountain bike. I suppose this one can be excused, as it's probably 16 years old (the wheel, the frame is only a couple years old), and has spent the majority of the last few years of its life in an outdoor bike rack at work (mercifully under a stairway, but not completely sheltered from the elements). This is the single speed bike Specialized Hard Rock Sport I keep at work for lunchtime forays onto the service roads that surround the manufacturing plant where I reside during the normal daytime working hours. I've purposefully kept this bike simple and cheap, as it's not locked up (it's inside a gated secure facility), and it's kept outdoors. I've been toying with the idea of upgrading the fork to something with more axle-to-crown height, less rake, and disc brake compatibility, but when I think about it staying outdoors...

ANYway... I noticed a squeaking noise as I rode last week, and it didn't go away when I stopped pedaling. Hm... Okay, not in the drive train. I schlepped the bike home on my one driving day (I try to bike commute as much as I can), and checked things out in the late evening hours. Nearest I could trace was the front wheel -- some slight play in the axle, and a rough bearing. I replaced that (just happened to have some even OLDER spares), reassembled, cleaned and lubed the drive train for good measure, and I was good to go.

The other was a little more involved, and on my trainer bike. This is an old Scott Waimea that I've configured as a road bike and kept on the trainer (I used this one in the "retro division" triathlon I did last June, so it does see SOME road use). Again, a squeak developed during a late evening session (I hesitate to call it a "ride"), timed with the left pedal. I added some NFS lube, and things quieted down for the remainder of the slog. The next time I got on, it started up again. Loud! I finished the session, and then pulled things apart. This one will be a little more expensive when it comes time to actually replace the parts -- fortunately I had another bike with the same configuration that I could cannibalize. What had happened is that the left side bearing had not just gone rough, it had seized entirely, and the squeaking was the spindle rubbing against the stationary inner bearing race. Yeah, metal on metal friction. So not only did the bearing need to be replaced, but it had worn a nice groove into the spindle. New crank time! I realize that FSA Gossamer cranksets are a dime-a-dozen and not really lightweight, and I've got them on several of my bikes. Now I've got them on one less bike (the one I cannibalized to keep the trainer bike at the ready).

Sure, living on the trainer it could be considered to see more harsh weather than the mountain bike that's stored outside -- not just getting rained on when I ride it, but SALTY rain. It just happens, no way around it really, even with a towel draped over the top tube.

So those are my maintenance tribulations of the last little while. Luckily it didn't take a long time to remedy, as I've had precious little of that lately -- the 3-month-old girl seems to want to take up a lot of it...

And a final note for today -- I saw this video on BikeRumor today, and thought it just looked like an interesting, cool race.

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What price, the life of a cyclist?

Just two days ago, I posted about that really cool looking elevated traffic circle in The Netherlands, built specifically for cyclists and pedestrians. One could only dream that the American infrastructure would include, if not such extensive structures, at least the thought behind it -- safety of the cyclist is more important than the money.

An article posted on the Bicycling blog yesterday illustrates the basic differences in the considerations of cyclists and motorists between our fair country and that little Dutch land over the pond. I urge you to read it. It's sad, really.

On a thread on Velocipede Salon, examining the same elevated traffic circle, one poster cited some perfect examples of intersections in New York (surrounding Central Park) for the application of this concept. Sadly, in the same post, he said that, " Those intersections kill people every year. Elevate pedestrians and cyclists up out of traffic and carry them over to their destination. Unfortunately, we just can't afford stuff like this in the US any longer."

Ah, yes, it's too expensive. So expensive that a number of people have to pay the ultimate price annually. But obviously that ultimate price isn't enough to pay for change.

The life of a cyclist in this country is easily dismissed to a motorist's convenience, the responsibility of the driver easily absolved with the flippant "I didn't see them." It's all a tragic accident (which I don't disagree with), and so no one is responsible (which I vehemently DO disagree with).

Driving a car, and a BIG one at that, is considered a right, dammit, in the U. S. of A., and no one is going to get in the way of that right. Hmm... I wonder where along the line in the last 80 years, from when cars were owned by less than 10% of the population ANYwhere, that roadways became owned by the motorists themselves.  Where did the privilege of owning a vehicle and the convenience of travel on government-funded roadways become a right of the population, along side Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Isn't the more sensible approach that which is taken in The Netherlands? The responsibility belongs on the person operating the more dangerous vehicle. Their licensing education system is geared that way. And *SHOCKING!* it produces overall safer drivers.

Where does it start? Obviously these things (education and infrastructure changes) aren't free. When motorists view the infrastructure of this country as the means to move everyone to their destination safely, and not just themselves, we're one step closer.

Monday, October 28, 2013

This is SO COOL!

I saw this posted on BikeRumor today, and just wanted to share. Could the American infrastructure ever support such a structure? Likely not, but one could dream...

Monday, October 21, 2013

It was a sudden gust of gravity!

Gravity is one of those constants, you say. Physics uses something called "the gravitational constant" to describe the action of two bodies relative to each other.

I say no. It's a sentient being with a devious and evil intellect. It waits, biding its time, patiently watching for that perfect moment to suddenly reach up, increasing its pull exponentially, and take you down.

 It's been a long time. Probably more than 15 years. And I could have gone a lot longer.

On Saturday, I crashed. Did a ground check. Had an unscheduled get-off. Kissed pavement.

It was kind of embarrassing, as I was leading the shop group ride at the time. Hit a wet paint strip mid-corner and the bike slid out from under me. Fortunately it wasn't all that bad, so I was able to get back up, straighten out the handlebars, get the chain back on, do a quick physical inventory, and get going again.

So here's the set-up -- it was a foggy morning, as most have been lately, so there was some patchy water sheen on the roads. The particular corner is off-camber coming from a slight downhill, and the county, in its infinite wisdom, had recently put in a traffic light at this intersection. Meaning lots of new paint stripes for crosswalks and stop lines. There's actually no way to take this corner and NOT go over paint stripes.

I'd slowed way down, or at least I thought I did. I kept the bike fairly upright and turned it rather than leaning it heavily, still with the weight on the outside pedal. But in spite of my efforts, the bike slipped on the wet paint stripe, and down it went. I hit mostly on the hip, my feet came unclipped immediately, and the bike went sliding across the road in front of another car (that was fortunately stopped for the red light). The look on that driver's face was priceless.

It only took a few minutes to get going again, after the aforementioned accounting and a little small talk with other the riders in the group. And we were only about two miles from the end of the ride anyway (though with one decent hill in that distance).

Total damage: bar tape on the right side beyond help, scrapes on the handlebar and brake lever that I sanded down, a scrapes on the wing of my saddle and the pedal that are nothing more than cosmetic irritants, a couple small holes in the right glove that won't hurt them much, some dirt on the jacket that'll wash out, and a nice raspberry/goose-egg on my hip that's still smarting when I sit down. It's amazing how much skin damage can happen under Lycra that remains perfectly fine.

Could have been a lot worse, though.

But like I said, it's been a long time since I crashed on the road. I wasn't missing it. Really.

So, Gravity, have your good laugh, sit back and chuckle, then go back to sleep. Hopefully for a good, long, LONG time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

Another great video... I envision putting together an event like this -- something that takes on a life of its own, grows organically, and becomes something great. Enjoy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cycling safety -- Do more, shout less.

It seems that a day doesn't go by where I don't hear about another cyclist killed while riding out on the road.

I just read this Guest editorial on BikeRumor about bicycling safety. A bit of a different approach.

I can't agree more. Please read the editorial, and consider supporting this organization.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show

My wife surprised me on Thursday.

A while back I had thrown out the idea of going to the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland this weekend. Problem was, with the little one, plus having my older daughter (12 year old) this weekend, I didn't think it was the best idea.


Well, on Thursday she suggested that I take my older daughter on a road trip and do the show.

We talked about it. Negotiated... I also have a first-cousin-once-removed who just had a baby in July and lives in Portland, and she and my wife have struck up a bit of a friendship over the last year. A visit with her and her son sealed the deal, and we all took the drive south yesterday morning.

The drive itself was harrowing -- Biblical-flood-like rains falling made the highway speeds slow, with visibility dancing between poor to downright dangerous. But we made it just fine.

A stop at the Lighthouse Inn in Linnton for a lunch of burgers and onion rings (the best I've ever had, worth the side trip), then back into town. I was dropped off at the show, while they headed to Powell Books.

I've been getting my welding gear together since March, when I took a 3-day one-on-one session with Dave Levy of Ti Cycles to build my gravel bike (the best-riding bike I've ever been on), and want to be building bikes by the end of the year, so seeing nothing but hand-made bikes and talking with the builders on various topics could easily fill the better part of an afternoon. I would consider it research. And maybe a little bit of obsession.

I found myself looking less at the bikes, and more at the details of construction and design. The "signature" parts, the things that, even if the frame were repainted without logos, some one could look at and say, "Hey, I know who made that bike."

Some of the things that stood out to me:

* Ti Cycles is now offering smoothed welds on their titanium frames. I know how much hand work it takes to finish a fillet brazed frame (I think 2.5 of the three days building my bike was finishing the joints), I can't imagine doing that on Ti. They were beautiful.

* Ti Cycles also had a full-suspension fat bike, and the rear suspension had no rear pivot -- it relies on the flex of a titanium plate aft of the bottom bracket.

* Pioneer Bicycle Co, a new builder, had some beautiful and smooth brazing. Talking with the owner, I found out he's pretty new -- he's only been building since January. Hm... Maybe I could be there next year. Only I don't live in Oregon.

* Strawberry Bicycle had some interesting wishbone stay work on display, and I really liked the Lan71 lug. Also, Andy Newlands brazes with propane, so I picked his brain a bit on set-ups and processes.

* Vendetta had a unique treatment on their seatstays -- a fastback design that is also capped like many wrapped stays.

* Igleheart had some of the tightest brazes I've ever seen. Very clean.

* Contes Engineering's 4-wheeled bike looked like it could go ANYwhere.

* Cielo Bikes had a road bike on display where the welds and paint made it look like liquid metal. Beautiful.

* Cielo also had a really nice disc cross race bike on display.

* Winter Bicycles had a matte-finished cross bike with un-finished brazes. These things were so clean they didn't need any finish work.

* North St had an ingenious tool bag that was also a top tube pad, which they called the Salmon Roll. For any bike that doesn't have top tube cables, this would be an awesome way to carry the tools.


Ti Cycles offers smoothed welds
Ti Cycles' FS fat bike.

Pioneer's clean fast back stay set-up
Ti Cycles' pivotless rear suspension

Lan71 wishbone lug
Strawberry's wishbone assembly



Igleheart's tight brazing
Vendetta's unique stays

Contes Engineering quad bike
Cielo's liquid metal


Winter's unfinished brazing.
Doesn't NEED finishing.
North St's Salmon Roll

 There were also a couple of vendor booths that left me wondering just what they were doing there. Finish work was poorly done, brazes were sloppy, and in one case not only were the bikes dirty and beaten, but the person manning the booth was clearly drunk. To be fair, beer was being served (though not free), and many were partaking. 

But it was a great time. I learned some things, learned that I need to learn a lot more, and left richer for the experience.

Another drive through torrential downpours (I think I saw animals lining up by two's in Olympia) got us home late, ready for a long sleep.

This morning has me thinking of filing tubes and burning some propane...

Friday, September 27, 2013

By the pricking of my thumb...

...something wicked this way comes.

Well, it's not coming. Yet. But it could.

Last year, on the last day of the Georgia state legislative session, HB 689 was introduced.

This is nothing more than an anti-cycling rewrite of the licensing and traffic code.

Now this isn't the first time that licensing of bicycles has been proposed, and I'm not really opposed to the idea. It might help deter bike theft, and in some kind of dream world might even help with theft recovery.

In a truly dream-induced state of lunacy, it might even tilt motorists to a feeling of one-ness with cyclists, or at least apathy rather than outright hostility.

Yeah, as if.

Anyway, as I said, I'm not opposed to registering and licensing bikes. But... As it's written, is it anything more than a state-sponsored money-grab? An annual license fee, along with transfer fees when a bike is sold or even given away?

In Washington, when a used motor vehicle is sold, the state gets to charge SALES TAX on the PRIVATE sale! And how do they do this? Well, you have to transfer the title. They'll hold it until the tax is paid. And what if the vehicle is GIVEN away? They'll charge the tax based on the Kelly Blue Book value instead of the sales price. They will even check the actual sales price against Blue Book, and if it's too far out of line, guess what -- KBB value regardless.

You think Georgia would pass up something like that?

Now let's get to the real anti-bike portion of this legislative proposal. Check out page 6.

(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast ride single file except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast single file. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride no more than four riders per single file line, and at least four feet shall separate each bicycle. At least 50 feet shall be maintained between each line of four riders at all times
So, did you get that? Pacelines? Things of the past. Can't draft, and if you do, you can't drop back from the front (you'd me more than single file), and can't have more than 4 per line. So much for the centuries and charity rides, unless they're all staged on bike-only roads, or pay yet another fee for a special permit.

Here's another gem on the same page.
(e) When a roadway is part of the state highway system, the Department of Transportation may restrict persons from riding bicycles on the roadway or designate certain times when bicycle riding is permissible. When a roadway is part of a local road system, a local governing authority may restrict persons from riding bicycles on the roadway or designate certain times when bicycle riding is permissible.

Ever read the comments on any cycling-related accident article online? They all include comments to the effect that bikes shouldn't be on "their" roads, and if they get hit, they deserve it. If faced with complaints from constituents, what do you think local politicians are going to do? Yep, close the local roads to cycling. Open times? Sure. And I've got a bridge to sell, cheap.

It amounts to nothing more than open-season on cycling rights.

The second amendment was written all about keeping government from over-running the people. Our government is supposed to be by the people and for the people. Our rights as cyclists are being threatened constantly because we ride on "their" roads.

Do I think this legislation will pass? Not really. But the fact that it was even proposed troubles me. It's one more high-lob against bikes, and if it takes a foothold anywhere, I can see other states adopting similar anti-bike revisions just due to the money-grab aspect. 

We need to be vigilant.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A triathlon 50 years in the making


It's amazing the things that cross one's mind during long training sessions.

I started off this epic at 8:30 at Five Mile Lake, which I'm very familiar with and where I've done most of my open water swim workouts. The fog was just at the top of the trees as I waded out into the water. Driving to the lake I had envisioned being socked in at the center of the water... "MARCO!"

I quickly settled into a sustainable rhythm, relaxed, just ticking off the yards.Several times my goggles played tricks on me, making me think I was seeing blue skies opening up along the horizon. Nope. But it was just the water on the lens coupled with some color distortion from the light tint.

By the end of my first lap (of three) I could feel a spot on the back of my neck feeling hot. Uh oh. Wetsuit hickey! Lesson learned: When you think you've applied enough Bodyglide, put on a little more. Nothing to do for it at that point but just to keep going.

My mind wandered, Things I don't even remember, some I do -- like thinking it would be good to have a waterproof dict-a-phone so I could capture these fleeting thoughts... I knew I wouldn't remember them all. My pace was steady through the first two laps, but my speed dropped on the third, adding a couple minutes to my expected time.

I also remember thinking that it's good to be able to pop off an Ironman distance swim on almost no swim training.

I took my time with the transition from swim to bike. Full clothing change, making sure my feet were clean, walking to the car and getting the bike together and all my gear and food in my jersey pockets. My wife clicking off a couple pictures as I pedaled off into the slight mist.

I've said many times that your body essentially forgets the swim by the time you're on the bike for a couple miles. And for the most part that's true. But with such a long swim, you've dipped into your energy systems already and need to start refilling the tank almost immediately. I kept pulling on the water bottle, and was eating by 5 miles.
I'd put my lighter wheels for the day, wheels which I haven't ridden on since RAMROD last year. They do behave a little differently than the bomb-proof wheels and wide tires I ride on most days. The bike felt like a completely different animal, more lively, more responsive. Not in a bad way, but it took a few miles to settle into the feeling.

My chosen route was a double loop so that I could stop by home to refill water bottles, restock food, and take a little break. Add a PB&J, and in 15 minutes or so, I was back on the road for the second half of the ride.

There's a pug along the route that will come out and chase me. Oh, and it's on an uphill section of this route. And he's pretty fast, staying up with me into the low 20's for at least a little while. Usually it's not such a big deal to just jump out of the saddle and get past him. But I haven't seen him in a while. I thought maybe he'd moved, or been hit by a car. Well, he's fine and in full-speed health. On my first lap he ran out as normal, and I got past. But on the second lap he must have heard me early, because he ran out well before I even got to that house. And he brought a friend. I didn't want to sprint again, because I didn't want to dig into that well with so far to go still, so I just stopped -- "Dude, REALLY?!?! I'm not in the mood. Go home."  He didn't know what to do. He just stared at me. I started out again slowly, and he let me go.

The last bank-reader-board temperature I saw said 64 degrees. And it was still cloudy with occasional mist dropping on me. So much for the nice weather forecast of 80!

I'll admit that I did a little bit of chasing a round-number average speed on the bike, and finished at 18.0 mph for the rolling average.

Another easy transition at home, putting the bike away, another full wardrobe change, and I set out to the cheers of my wife and daughter.

On the run, I was starting tired, but still feeling pretty good. Smiling, at least. I kept my stride even and easy, not pushing hard with the calves (I've had issues with my calves running off the bike before). I ran the first two-plus miles non-stop, then started taking some walk breaks. Even then, I was running more than not.

Coming to the half-way point, my water bottle was near empty, so I stopped at the medical center there and refilled. Later, I figured out that it was past the half-way point, and when I got to eight miles, it kind of crept up on me. As tired as I was, though, when I put an intermediate goal of "run to that fence/telephone pole/fire hydrant, I didn't walk until I reached it. THAT is a victory.

The final hill just short of my house was a sweet success. And I walked into the driveway with the only fanfare playing in my head, no cheering crowds, no finish banner, no volunteer kids draping a finisher's medal around my neck.

In the end, I was very tired, but not so exhausted that I couldn't keep moving. And of course with having started out with the IM distance swim, and the overall effort being longer than a half-Ironman, there is the thought that maybe, with some more training, I could possibly do a full Ironman distance event. I mean, I did the swim with basically no swim training. Could I add another 31 miles to the bike leg? Sure. Could I add another 16 miles to the run? Uh... no. And I'm okay with that. Could I decrease the swim by 50%, the bike by 25 miles, and add 3 to the run? Sure. But then again, I don't really want to. I'm quite happy with the longer rides and shorter runs.

The tale of the tape is this:
Swim time - 1:19:26
T1 time -- 22:56
Ride time -- 4:56:19 (including all stops)
T2 time -- 20:50
Run time -- 1:45:46
Total time -- 8:45:19

I had done what I set out to do, a challenge I'd laid out for myself almost a year ago. I never geared my training for this day, I just wanted to throw myself at the distance with whatever I had from my daily regimen.

Saturday morning I went to the Inspired Ride Bicycles for the weekly group ride. The shop owner asked me why I did this personal triathlon. I've determined that, for any one asking that question, no answer will satisfy them. It's something that you kind of either understand or don't. For those that do, they don't need to ask.

So what was the day about? A large bit of self-affirmation, a piece of meeting a challenge I knew I wasn't fully prepared for, and a healthy dose of gut-check.

Besides, as mid-life crises go, putting in a long day isn't so bad.