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This blog is written in plain, fly-over country English. The Author reserves the right to forego nonsensical, feel-good gibberish.

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Bicycle Cable Rattle – Fix It Yourself (for less than a dollar).

After having my new aero handlebar installed I developed a cable rattle that sounded like it was emanating from inside the frame (internally routed cables – best thing since sliced bread btw).

After a few days, and a trip to the office in the back of my SUV, the rattle went away. I figured the trip jarred something in the right way (for once). A few days later it came back and I got lucky… Going over a train track I just happened to catch the two left cables rattle together out of the corner of my eye. The next day, I went up to the shop to see if there was an easier, more aesthetically pleasing, solution than electrician’s tape. This is what I was given:

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2 seconds (not including the ten minute trip to the bike shop) and it would have cost less than a buck (had I paid for it – I did not).

Ah, The End of A Great Cycling Season, Time to Get Fat.

That’s right folks, we’re into the last few weeks of the cycling season up here in the northern US.  It’s time for snow, snow plows and maybe a walk or two if the temp gets above 40 before March.  Yes indeed, it’s time to sit back on my laurels and fatten up.  Candy, cake, soda, fast food…  YES!  Then come spring I can take the first couple of weeks to work all of that fat back off because I’m better than you. I have willpower, don’t ya know…

You think it, I just put it in writing.

Ah, the life of a person with impeccable genes, and the guts to use them.  How nice it is to be able to eat with impunity while the overweight struggle to lose a pound because they “have bad genes” and broccoli is gross.

Now, you didn’t really buy that did you?

No, now it’s time to go back on the diet, pull out the turbo trainer, dust off the running shoes and start back up with the weight training.  After all, anyone with decent genes knows all of the excuses are false anyway, you have to work at it to stay fit and look good.

It sounded good at first though, didn’t it?

I wish.  Instead, I’ll be cutting back on everything.  Portions cut in half, I’ll have to get used being hungry again for a couple of weeks of course…  This is how it really is, nobody gets to look fit and fabulous for free and to tell you the truth, trying to ride a bike in the spring is hard enough without having to both get the legs back and lose weight at the same time.

Nope, I’m just like everyone else.  I put my pants on one leg at a time (though I’m left-handed so I do always start with the left leg first – I’m a bit odd that way).  Point is, I will be the exact same 170 pounds I am now come springtime, but it won’t be because of some superhuman ability to burn a shit-ton of calories when other people get fat eating celery.  No, it will be due to the fact that my caloric intake for a day will match or be slightly less than what I burn.  It will be so because getting on my bike in March rarin’ and ready to go is more important than a soda or a piece of cheesecake. No mystical hoo-ha, just hard work and eating right. Of course it sucks but it is a choice: Two minutes of sting because I can’t have a donut or two months of it trying to drop my fat ass because I caved every time I wanted a donut.

UPDATE: Cycling Dayton dropped by with the Metric conversion for a Shit-ton. 1 Shit-ton = 142.857 Stone

Domestique, Domestique! The Final Club Ride of 2014

Two words: “Brutal” and “Wind”

Last night was the final club ride in a wonderful, if odd, season. We’ve had all of three great Tuesday’s all season long. The norm is 70-80 degrees, bright sunshine and a mild breeze (if any at all). This year it was either rain, cold, or major wind and more often than not, a combination of two or all three. All season long.

Last night was just the wind but it was nasty! The worst we’ve had to battle since maybe April. Carla and I were the last of the “B” riders to fall off and I chose to wait for my buddy Phil while Carla soldiered on (I figured we’d catch her soon enough with two of us). With the group we were 18-20 mph but I was completely redlined. On my own, 14 was hard. It was that bad. Unfortunate too, at 14 I was pulling away from my Phil so I dropped into the little ring and spun along at an easy twelve. I ended up turning around to head back for him.

I pulled for the next mile at 15-16 mph to give the brother a break before we headed south to enjoy a crosswind strong enough to make steering difficult but “cross” enough that I could pull for the next two miles at about 18-19. And that’s how the ride went. Phil jumped up to take a mile or two before I took a monster five-mile-long turn with a cross tailwind at 20-22 mph. Phil took another couple up front including the first mile with the wind at our back and once we made that right to head east it was on. Phil took us up to 22 for a mile and I cranked it up from there. 23-24 for a couple of miles, Phil took the next one at 23 and then I took the final three – at 24 to 26 mph the whole way… We never dipped below 25 on the last mile.

Funny thing is, I can’t maintain that kind of pace for that distance, even with a tailwind and especially after 23 rough miles. I told myself, a few times on that last stretch and a couple of times with the larger group, that this was the last ride of the year, I better make it count…

My legs are absolutely smoked and I couldn’t be happier. I can’t ever remember riding so hard for so long, ever. I was, I believe the term is in the UK, absolutely chuffed.

I got the “domestique” in the label from my brother from another Continent, Christopher Yardin, in a comment on one of my posts… Thanks man.

Advanced Pace Line Cycling and Club Rides for Noob’s: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Generally speaking with adults, there is a progression for getting into cycling when it comes to the cycling enthusiast but how one takes up cycling isn’t all that important.  What one does after one discovers cycling is way better than sliced bread is what matters.

If you’re anything like me, I started riding a bike at 40 years old, found out I loved it and then went all-in from there.  I went from a mountain bike to a road bike in less than a year (I like the speed and geared out on my mountain bike) and after a few months of training, was invited to ride with the advanced group with the local club.  I didn’t jump right in though, I put it off to get better at cycling, at least to a point where I could go in with a little confidence.  It was almost a full year before I went on my first club ride…  And I was surreptitiously dropped after something like eight miles.

Over the last two years I’ve picked up quite a bit and thought I’d share some of the finer intricacies that I’ve picked up, things that have to do more with group dynamics because cycling groups are exceptionally cliquey.  Also, if you’re looking for a list of “How To” bullet points, I’ve written a fairly extensive post on that, here.
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As far as group dynamics go, I’ve seen people come and go from our little rabble, I’ve seen cyclists dropped purposely (and have done that a few times myself) while, on the same ride even, I’ve also seen others go back to help a straggler claw back (I’ve done that more than a few times myself and had it done for me as well).  Who survives and who rides alone doesn’t always depend on luck.  Sometimes it depends on how the group takes to you. Knowing that, you might want to check the jerk bag before boarding.

First, if you’re riding in a racing, or advanced group, there are rules for being helped back.  They vary from group to group but ours is as follows:  You get two pull backs, if you drop after that, you’re on your own.

Second, disregard that first one if you’re a jerk or you ride poorly (can’t keep a straight line, pull too long causing erratic behavior, etc.).  Be cool.
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Dude (and/or dudette as the case may be), nothing is better than cycling with competent cyclists. Be a competent cyclist.  Consider, just for a moment, that you’ll be cruising at anywhere from 23-28 mph with only a few inches separating each cyclist, there isn’t a lot of room for “oops, sorry about that”.

Know what you’re getting into. I had it easy, I was invited to participate with the group I ride with but the fella that invited me knew I could already hold a 20 mph average on my own for more than 20 miles… If you consider a 16 mph average “hard” and you’re not riding in the mountains, chances are the local “A” ride is going to be about two grades over your ability. Check with your local bike shop or the club website to make sure you’re not getting in too far over your head.  The idea here is that you want to ride with people faster than you are (because that will make you faster), but not so much that you get dropped in the second mile of the ride which can be demoralizing after a while.

The final, single best point you’ll ever read on this blog is this: Don’t look for what you can get out of riding with your club, look for ways to contribute. If you do this one simple thing, you will come to enjoy cycling with a club more than you can possibly hope to on your own.

Knockoff Bicycles… “And inspires gasps of envy”… Until it falls apart.

I was watching Ridiculousness this morning (I love that show) and saw a funny commercial for a $20 fake diamond ring that they said would “inspire gasps of envy”. Yeah, sure. You get what you pay for, right?

First, before I get into the topic of fake bikes, I’d like to take a second to dispel a bit of a myth… The only people who are impressed by a nice bike, beyond a simple, “hey, cool bike”, are people who don’t know anything about bikes.  This isn’t golf where the rule is “if you can’t play good, look good”.  For follow cyclists, how one rides what they have is far more important.  A person who rides a $1,000 entry-level road bike well will be welcomed into the group while a person who rides a $10,000 dream machine poorly will be dropped every time (the group will find your weakness and attack you there).

That said, I, like many others who are into cycling, have seen some pretty ridiculous prices on the Chinese knockoff sites like Alibaba and seen frames that look a lot like my Venge for $650 while the original goes for $2,500, almost four times the cost of the knockoff.  Granted, you’ve got R&D costs in there, where the knockoff company just copies the hard work the folks at Specialized did, but when you consider that only Trek makes their top-end frames in the US (in Wisconsin), I can’t help but wonder what gives…  If that wasn’t enough, I look at the S-Works Aerofly handlebar I just paid $300 for and I can find a knockoff for a hundred bucks, it can be a little bit of a bummer.  Of course, I’ve written about fake bikes before, with photos of catastrophic failures but even I can’t help wonder if I’m getting hosed just a little more than a little bit.

Well, every once in a while the internet gives back though.  Check out this site, authored by a guy who buys and builds knockoff bikes.  He’s had wheels overheat causing rims to disintegrate and his brake posts pull through the frame, seat post clamps break and a whole host of other issues ranging from odd clicks to complete breakdowns in the equipment.  I can’t even imagine.  I have an issue, I take it to the shop, it’s fixed (for free) in a matter of hours or they even work around rain days so I don’t have to miss time riding in the case of my minor crank warranty issue.  Point is, while the author of that site may have saved a couple of grand on his bike, while he’s chasing craftsmanship issue after issue, I’m on the road…

I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who are quite happy with their knockoff bikes and parts but the simple fact of the matter is, I’d rather pay extra and trust what I’ve bought than end up with a mushed skull having saved $2,000.

A perfect fall weekend for “Cycling with Friends”…

I used the word perfect in the title of this post to describe this weekend for cycling. Technically I used the term loosely as it had more to do with my attitude than the weather. The important thing that was perfect as far as the weather was the lack of rain in this strange prelude to winter.

I’ve never been a fan of fall cycling through I’ve never passed on an opportunity to ride either. Cycling in sucky conditions beats being a couch jockey any day. My big problem, aside from the fact that I like riding in shorts and a short sleeved jersey, has always been the cold and the wind. Picking up an excellent windbreaker vest, an Assenmacher 100 Garneau model with a mesh back and three deep back pockets, made a huge difference. That vest changed how heavily I dress to ride, cut down on the bulk.

There’s another huge change that’s made this fall much more enjoyable than falls past… I’ve been cycling with my wife and friends a lot more. I’ve always viewed fitness as a solo thing. Even with the running club I ran with we were on our own after no more than three or four miles except in rare occasions. The last three years, with cycling, 80% of my rides were solo and because it took a while for me to get the technique, strategy and legs sorted out, I was always too busy trying to hang on for cycling to be a true social event. No longer. I have a solid bunch of friends that I ride with and we’re all quite evenly matched so, while we’re all working hard when we’re riding, I’m able to enjoy the social aspect now. Of course, being one of the horses of that group doesn’t hurt either.

Everything has come together so that cycling, even when it’s cold and windy, is fun, exciting and throughly enjoyable. All just in the name of getting and staying fit!

Now here’s where this gets cool: I’ve become a member of the local cycling community. Not because I have a nice bike but because I ride the bikes I do have hard and I do my fair share. I did not seek to be admired but to contribute. I simply kept showing up and doing the best I could to contribute to the group. Becoming a full-fledged “gotta have Jim on that ride” guy has taken two years of gutting up and not being a complainer or whiner.

And now that I’m in, it’s sexy baby.

Friday: 20 miles, solo.
Saturday: 35 miles with three of my cycling buds and my best friend (well, she hung on for 8 with us)
Sunday: 38 miles, just Mike, Phil and I.

Now I think I’ll get the 5200 ready for the winter and maybe take it for an easy spin because all of my house work is done. Life may be good. Cycling makes it better.

Thankful

Originally posted on The Ouachita Shutterbug:

If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got,

he isn’t likely to be thankful

for what he’s going to get.

~Frank A. Clark

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Assenmacher 100

100 MileAugust 17th, 2014

July 2013 Lake Burton, Tiger, GA

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