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

Monday, February 23, 2015

High-tension day

Sometimes it's good to throw something new into the training regimen.

Even when it's not planned.

Today is a good example. Or maybe a bad example. Or... well, you decide.

I missed an awesome riding day yesterday due to getting the "new" car (see Haulin' post). So I made sure to get out today, even if it was just for the hour-plus standard lunchtime loop.

Everything was going great, in spite of a nearly empty water bottle. About 4 miles in, I hit the shifter to downshift and "thunk"... Suddenly pedaling got a LOT harder. I stopped to take a look, and, sure enough, the cable anchor on the rear derailleur had loosened.

This has NEVER happened to me before. But, okay, the bike still pedals, and sure it's hard...

About a half-mile later I pulled into a Pro-Build lumber store to see if they had an allen wrench I could borrow. Yeah, yeah, Boy Scout isn't prepared. But they had one that fit close enough (I'm sure it was an SAE size, but close enough to 5mm) that I could get the anchor bolt to hold. I was back on the road.

Starting out again, I was pushing my top gear getting going. I cross-chained it to the small chainring, got started, then downshifted to accelerate. And downshifted. And downshifted. THEN the gear started changing.

I got 3 cogs up the cluster, and hit the last detent in the shifter. Oh boy.

While I'd tightened the anchor on the cable, I hadn't gotten it pulled all the way through, so I was limited to my 4 tallest gears on a 10-speed cassette.

Well, I guess that means I'm over-geared for the day.

I soldiered on, with only a few short and not-so-steep hills (hard to actually call them hills when they gain less than 100 feet) remaining, giving myself an impromptu high-tension workout. Standing up on almost every rise, pushing a lower than normal cadence.

In the end, my average speed was right in line for what would be normal on this loop on this bike. Including the stop to tighten the cable. What does that tell me about how I've been possibly dogging it on my rides? Of course when you're over geared like this, you can only go SO slow before you have to just power through it.

You single-speeders know what I'm talking about.

I usually carry a couple wrenches with me for several rides after a new build or any extensive servicing. I figured I was past the shake-down phase on this bike. I guess I should just carry them anyway, all the time, eh?


My car is a bike-transport vehicle first, and a people mover second.

I usually carry two bikes in the back of my car daily to work, so that I can ride during my lunch hour-and-a-half. Why two? Well, one is for road, one for off-road, and I let weather, temperature, and mood determine which I ride on any particular day. It has just enough room to put the bikes in front first, with the bars wrapped close to the front seats.

So last Thursday, when my 2001 Ford Escape decided to have a melt-down, the cost of which to repair approached the value of the car for a private sale, the time was at hand to replace it.

Oh, what to get.

Obviously bike hauling capacity was the first priority. I put up a thread on the Velocipede Salon forum to get some feedback, and some of the responses were interesting. I'd specified being able to put the bikes INSIDE the vehicle. After some looking around online including a Bicycling magazine article "The Four Best Cars for Cyclists", which included NONE that would take a bike IN the car, my wife and I made a short list of used vehicles to check out, shuttled off the little one to a friend for an afternoon, loaded up the bike as a test-fit object, and hit the road.

First up was a Honda Element. Roomy, infinitely practical for my intentions. Unfortunately the one we looked at was a salvage title, so we passed on that one. A newer Escape was on the list, and while it was newer, the automatic transmission coupled with the 4-cylinder engine made for weak, anemic acceleration on the flattest of roads. I joked that you hit the gas, and then mailed in your request for more speed.

Many vehicles got eliminated right away due to not enough room -- the Chevrolet HHR, the Honda Fit (which a lot of people DO put bikes in, even 2-3 at a time -- I just couldn't get it to work easily), the Mitsubishi Outlander, anything Mazda.

The Dodge Grand Caravan was a good second -- back seats folded down, and the mid seat tilted forward, there was ample room. But it's a mini van... Yes, I had a Plymouth Voyager back in the day, a 1990 that I bought new (one of the few cars in my life I've ever gotten new), and rarely had the bench seat in it. I was racing on a team at the time, and it was often designated the "team car". On one team road trip, I had 13 (I think, that was a long time ago) bikes in the back for a stage race in Oregon, all the road and time trial bikes for the guys.

Anyway, we found a nice Honda Element locally, in good shape, and for a good price (after strong-arming the dealer a bit). Taking out the back floor panel and replacing it with a fitted piece of plywood, on which I bolted some old fork mounts, and I'm ready with two bikes in the back again.

For anyone out there hauling sports equipment, and especially bikes, the Honda Element seems the ideal ride. Too bad they discontinued production just a couple years ago.

Hopefully by the time I'm in this position again, there will be more options out there.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's February, right?

We've had some pretty incredible days of weather recently. High's near 60, clear or mostly clear skies. Perfect riding weather.

In the PacNW reagion, we will routinely get what I call a "teaser week" of weather, usually around the end of February. Temps will climb, college students will break out the shorts and tank tops. Thoughts turn towards spring...

Only to have it come crashing down with a March 1st snowstorm. It's happened more than I can count.

But this is strange. While the east coast is setting records for snowfall, we're a good couple months ahead of the curve.

Not that I'm complaining. I've gotten out on some great rides, though still shorter than I'd like. Something about not quite being in shape for the distance yet... I keep having to remind myself that it's February.

My trainer is getting lonely. Breaks my heart (NOT!).

If this were our normal kind of winter, I wouldn't be thinking of warmer, drier climes for a future move. Bring it on!