Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Posts in One

It is now late April and I haven’t raced my bike yet this year. For me this is a pretty slow start to the season as I usually do a few road races in March and April to prep for the season. In many years there is also a mountain bike race or two to be had by this point (actually I guess the races have been there just not me). Right now it is looking like the first race will be the Front Range 50 on May 9th. I had hoped to sneak in another mountain bike race prior; just to get the legs going but the drive to Nathrop next Saturday is seeming less and less appealing so I’ll probably just spend time training.
The Front Range 50 will be the first of the ultra races I’m planning to do this year, though I think it will be on the short side with a fairly untechnical track and no real huge climbs it will be fast, hopefully 4 hours or less. I do think it will be a good race to get my feet wet for the longer distances and see if the practice I’ve been doing with on the bike fueling pays off in a race.

On a totally separate note, Earth Day was earlier this week, April 22. Keeping in mind the original focus of this blog, environmental awareness, and a big step was undertaken at my work. For years (at least the 11 I’ve worked there) the company has bought and supplied paper plates, bowls and cups in addition to plastic silverware for all employees. There have always been a few people who bring in their own reusable products, but mostly people have relied on company provided one use products. We recently started a stewardship committee in the office to try and improve our corporate image, impact etc. Well our first big effort was launched on Earth Day. We got rid of all paper and plastic kitchen products and bought every employee in the Denver office their own reusable plates, bowls, silverware and mugs. While there has been some grumbling about the change I was very surprised with the amount of positive feedback. Thinking back on all the energy used to create the products used in our kitchen only one time then put in the trash is scary. This change will clearly limit our trash output and long-term reduce our environmental impact. I think it is a pretty good step to being a business that compares about more than the bottom line and am glad I was able to be very involved in getting the change made.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strong, Light, Cheap. Pick Two

Bikes and the components associated with them can create a love hate relationship. When your gear is running good it is a love relationship, though I must say a love you don’t talk about a lot. It is a long term relationship, where you know what to expect, know the person (or part) is going to be there. You know exactly what needs to be done to get the relationship to work. Most of the time I don’t really think about the components on my bikes, if they are working there isn’t much thought process involved. Yea, I know to shift into the big ring on my road bike I need to ease up just that little bit on the pedaling. I know on the mountain bike one side of my drive train side pedal feels better than the other, so no matter what I’ll unclip and flip the pedal if I need to. But really most of the time I don’t think about my parts.
I’m long past buying inexpensive parts because they are inexpensive. At this point in my life and cycling career, I’ll spend the extra money upfront and get parts I expect will perform well in all conditions for a long period of time. I ride around 7,000 miles a year, split about 65%, 30% and 5% between road, mountain and cross bikes. I expect the mountain bike to last about 2-3 years, the road bike 3-5 and the cross bike should survive a nuclear holocaust. Sure I need to spend money over time on upkeep so the bikes will last but overall I expect the key components to last and handle riding in all weather conditions, time spent on the trainer and race efforts. So it was with great frustration today I found out my crank on the road bike had seen its last day.
I bought the bike early last April, just over a year of riding, probably 6,000 miles on the bike. I’ve had two “professional” tune-ups on it in that time, plus my normal maintenance (cables, washing, adjusting gears etc). Yet today on my ride I noticed the crank felt strange. I washed the bike and noticed the left crank arm wasn’t tight. I took it off to check, no apparent misuse, no metal shavings, no damage to the spindles. I cleaned everything and tried to tighten back on, still a looseness that wouldn’t go away. I took it to the shop and found out that the metal piece inside the carbon crank arm was not holding. The metal piece that houses the spindles have somehow come unglued (I assume) from the carbon arm, causing the looseness. Upon further investigation the same issue was occurring with the pedal spindles too.
I know I ride hard and I tend to believe that light and cutting edge isn’t always the best choice. Why do I have carbon cranks? Well they came with the bike. I can assure you stronger riders, putting in more miles than I have ridden these cranks, but still I’ve had the problem. If the warranty doesn’t come through I can guarantee that the new crank will not be a composite. One material all the way through designed to last, not be light. As Keith Bontrager has said “strong, light, cheap. Pick two.” Is clearly a factual statement. I’d venture to say FSA would say strong and light are how their components are designed. Today I’d say light. Carbon? Not sure why we came up with that for bikes.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I’ve recently gained a new training partner for my cycling, for me this is a big deal. Most of the time I train alone. I like riding alone, no time schedules, no routes picked by others, no meandering conversations. Sure there are times riding with someone is good, it is nice to chat on the bike some, have someone force you to push the pace etc. but I’m not the kind of person who wants somebody to ride with daily.
All that has changed in the past few days really, I’ve found someone who is gaining the same passion I have for riding. Somebody who has the same meaningless thoughts I do and is fun to ride with any time, Seamus is taking to riding like a mad man. I’ve never forced him to ride, never forced him to ride without training wheels or anything like that. I’ve always wanted him to like riding because he enjoys it, not because I do. Recently we got him off training wheels and now there is no stopping him. Friday night a family ride, a little over a mile. Saturday a ride with me and him, probably two miles. Sunday in the pouring rain he rode for 30 minutes, crashed a few times and was smiling every second. Today he rode four miles with Ade, then he and I rode another 2-3 miles. He wants to ride across the street to friends, is planning tomorrow’s ride already and wants to do a big ride both days this weekend.
The joys of riding like a kid are what keep me going through days at work many times, now I have a kid to share the fun of riding with.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pedestrian Ride

Some rides are designed to increase endurance, some days speed, and some day’s technical skills as a racer these are some of the components critical to making racing fun. But some days riding takes a more pedestrian approach to its purpose.
Yesterday, before work I had put in a solid workout on the bike 30 minute tempo effort and 1:15 total on the bike (remember this is all prior to 7:00am). As I left work I pondered another tempo effort on the way home, maybe 15-20 minutes for that little extra work. After making it out of downtown I decided to skip the harder work and just spin home. The pack was full, a computer, notebook, some files for work, not to mention my headlamp and clothes from a day in the office. The pack was pushing maximum capacity at this point, I’d guess close to 15 pounds and the idea of trying to ride the bike fast with this extra weight didn’t sound fun.
About half way home I decided to stop and get some wine (cause I like it) and some cupcakes (cause Ade and Shay like them). The good thing for me is there is a cupcake shop and wine shop about three doors from each other on my way home, with about 3 miles of riding still to go. With the pack full and cupcakes fragile it became a no-hand/one-handed ride home for the last few miles (I stuffed the wine in the pack somehow) and my pace slowed. Even when I take it easy I usually ride at what most people consider a fast pace. Yet on my way home yesterday with all the stuff in my pack, cupcakes and a mental desire to relax after a long week of travel I took a more pedestrian pace. Those last three miles were fun. I noticed things that normally I pass by without a glance. I was passed by other riders, looking slightly silly with a full kit on and all my extra luggage but I didn’t mind. The ride was another simple reminder of why riding is so enjoyable for me.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A humdrum Sunday afternoon

I was thinking about writing some sort of long post today, especially since my March write-up basically sucked. The problem is there really weren’t any great rides to talk about, the weather has been too bad for that, I worked too much this week so that kept the fun level pretty low and the only thing I really should be doing right now is packing for a trip to Springfield, MA.
Instead though I’m hacking out a blog entry, watching the Tour of Flanders and pondering should I really do yoga today even though I don’t really feel like it. I may have to get on the floor and start yoga though, since I already entered it into my training log for the day. Taking the time to go and delete it may be a bigger annoyance to me right now then actually doing yoga.
I guess it is just one of those days, after snow and cold, a long ride this week of only 2 hours and knowing I have to leave the house by 6:00 tomorrow to fly out, it all kind of makes you not motivated.