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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why I love my bike – Part 2…

I got to thinking about my comment in my last post – about loving my bike…  Now this isn’t quite bike porn, there’s less “lust” to it, but it’s gotta be somewhere in the same ball park.  So let me list a few items that bring me joy.

1.  My bike reminds me of a Ferrari.  Not the new Ferrari’s, it reminds me of the GTO – Classic Lines that work – hard.  Marry that with an upgraded saddle that looks like a scalpel, the dark red metallic finish with the blue bar tape…  It just looks all kind of awesome to me.  I love to look at the lines, the mean-ness.  My bike looks tough and elegant at the same time.

2.  It’s smooth.  My Trek shifts like a dream, every time, no hesitation, no protest.  Click-clank, new gear.  It’s absolutely badass.  This, I’m sure, has a lot to do with the quality of the higher end Ultegra components, and probably a little bit to do with the fact that I take meticulous care of it.

3.  It’s quiet.  Even over bumps.  There’s no chain clicks, no frame creaks or groans (especially now that I’ve had the stem cleaned and relubed – noob note, from a fellow noob, if your handlebar creaks or groans and you have a quill stem, remove it, clean it, lube it and tighten ‘er up good) – it’s unbelievable to me how quiet that bike is – it’s just a whoosh – down the road.

4.  It accelerates quickly.  When I step on the pedals, it goes…  I like drag racing cars to 20 mph.  I love listening for the engine to wind up behind me and then watching the car catch up and shoot by me.  I don’t know why, I just think it’s funny as hell.  This would change, of course, if the driver beside me anticipated having his doors blown off – by a guy on a bicycle.

5.  I like how it feels cornering.  On my normal 16 mile ride, I enter into a residential neighborhood for about 4 blocks…  I make a left down a short hill to a sharp right turn.  This is my favorite part of that 16 mile ride – about 500 yards, and I hit that right turn smiling every single time, in the drops at about 27 mph, I lean on my bike – left foot down and all of the weight I can put on it to hammer through that turn searching for the apex, the perfect angle to hit that turn so I can stay in my lane in the event that there’s a car approaching the other way…through the turn, absorb three rolling “bumps”, and continue down the road.  I love that corner.

6.  I love how fast that bike is in the wind.  This was rather unexpected.  I can remember riding my shorter Cannondale and absolutely struggling, mashing the pedals as hard as I could, just to get to 15 mph in a stiff wind.  Riding into the wind was difficult because riding in the drops was miserable because the cockpit (the distance from the bar to the seat) was way too short.  On the Trek, in the same wind I can still keep it at around 17 or 18 mph.

7.  I love the wheels – they’re bulletproof and fast (if a little heavy, according to what I’ve read) – and they match the bike perfectly…and the spoke pattern is awesome.  Everybody should be as lucky as me.  I couldn’t be happier with my bike.

Two Days and a Wakeup

With two days and a wakeup to go to my first 100k I started on maintenance prep yesterday evening instead of going out on my daily ride.  I checked over every inch of my bike (have I mentioned how much I love that bike?  I think so, but I’ll throw that in one more time – I love that bike), degreased the chain, shifted through all of the gears, wiped off the chain and thouroughly cleaned the chain rings and cassette, cleaned the entire bike off, checked every nut and bolt to make sure it was appropriately tight – basically a decent “once over”.  It is what it is, but I’m not exactly too keen on this whole “tapering” dealio.  At the very least, I know when Sunday rolls around I’ll be rarin’ to go.  On tap for today is plenty of work from home – I’m working on one of the most intricate little jobs I’ve ever quoted, and it’s proving to be a serious pain in my butt.  I’ll sandwich in a 16 mile ride at “race pace” at lunch, as the conditions should mimic those expected for Sunday.  I’m having a tough time figuring out what I’ll be wearing on the big day – starting out it’s going to be cold, around 35-37 (F) so it’s absolutely going to be a foot warmer day (wool socks just won’t cut it).  The trick is going to be whether or not I decide to wear a jacket or go with an Under Armour shirt, jersey and arm warmers.  I’m planning on riding today in my jacket to get an idea of whether or not I’ll be too warm.  It should be around 50 degrees at noon so I’m doubting it.  After my ride I’ll be heading over to my local running shop to pick up my Roctane Gels and a couple of Cliff Bars and then finishing up on the bike maintenance this evening (tire pressure etc.).  For tomorrow, I won’t be riding to the running club and I’m keeping it to a 5k easy run around the lake.

The 1 millimeter adjustment on my saddle that I wrote about the other day worked fantastically well by the way – my hot spot is gone…  It’s surprising to me the difference five thousandths of an inch can make – it’s actually kind of funny when I think about it.  Five months ago I was happily (if painfully) riding a bike that was too small by a matter of inches, now I’ve got my setup down to a few thousandths.

Time for a laugh – and this is a good one…

Holy smokes, is this funny!  One of the salesmen who works for a supplier sent me this…

Original ad: I need someone who speaks japanese to help me translate something. wont take too long. please email me ASAP!
From Me to ************@***********.org:
Hi! You need Japanese translate? I Chan, I help you with translate.
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
hey chan. so ok heres the deal. my cd player suddenly stopped working and i cant figure out why. for some reason the only manual i have is entirely in japanese. i took a pic of the page im pretty sure its the trouble shooting part. can you see if it says anything about no sound coming from the output?
 Photo Available by clicking on link above
From Me to Scott *******:
Ok, I find three thing may help you:
“Failure of Sound from Device” “Skipping of disc for poor sound” “Sound volume low very much”
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
umm..what does it say for the failure of sound one?
From Me to Scott *******:
“Hello and thank you for chose glorious master CD player! Apologies many for trouble of product. To fix failure of the sound, follow step:
1. Unplug glorious master CD player 2. Plug glorious master CD player back in”
I hope this help!
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
that doesnt help me at all. is that all it says?
From Me to Scott *******:
Oh no! Very sorry. There more steps to help you! Here:
“If still experience failure of the sound, your glorious master CD player possessed by audio demon. To banish audio demon, follow step:
1. Ignite seven candle 2. Pray to Benzaiten, Goddess of Music 3. Benzaiten will banish audio demon to eternal suffering 4. Try play CD again
If you fail banishing of audio demon, you failure. Much dishonor of family name. Suggest immediate death by Seppuku.”
I hope you banish audio demon! Much luck.
– Chan (more…)

I Run To Feel Good…

My favorite comment, as I’ve written about many times, is “I don’t run because I don’t want to wreck my knees”.

So here’s the question;  Is walking around with three or four bowling balls worth of extra weight not bad for your knees?

As with depression, the only way I know to be as pain free as possible is to get outside and move.

Now, if you want something “green” to move on – carbon fiber isn’t your thing, say you happen to be a tree-hugger, so you don’t like aluminum or steel…  Try this:

Dude, That's a road bike made out of BAMBOO!

Calfee is on the expensive side…  If that’s too much, check out Boo Bicycles.  I just happened to bump into Mike yesterday when I went out for my ride and he was telling me about a fella he saw at the Tuesday night ride that had one – who ever would have thunk it? Very cool – and I’m anything but a treehugger.

A Note To My Best Friend…

You have been preparing for this afternoon for weeks, getting yourself ready for your first push back into running.  You’ve got your Minimus shoes, your wardrobe, and now your legs.

While supportive, I’ve been rather quiet about your desire to run again, for reasons that don’t matter.  To be truthful, I want this so bad for you, so bad I can taste it.  I want for you to be free, to feel that unquenchable awesome that comes with setting all of those sequestered endorphins free and making the road your bitch.  I want for you to feel the exhilerating relief that “you did it”, or better, that you’re doing it.

I want for you to kick my ass.  I want to be able to tell my friends that not only can my wife run, she can smoke me, and she can do it in those damned barefoot shoes.

I want for our girls to see you run.  I want for them to see you sweat.  I want to watch you show them how it’s done.

It’s time.  Get your sexy on.

For my friends in the blogosphere – please take a second to pump my wife up for her triumphant return to running, tonight.

I love you baby.  Go get ’em.

Sunday’s Ride

This is not a fried egg, it's the sun

I’ve got a goal for Sunday’s 100k of 3-1/2 hours – on my own, no drafting (my goals page used to say 4 hours but I decided to challenge myself).  The other day I checked the weather and they were calling for showers and a high of 47…  Couple that with the wind we’ve been getting lately and I was hoping just to finish if the forecast held!  Fortunately Michigan forecasting is a funny thing.  If I look at the 10 day forecast and we’ve got some bad weather 5-7 days out, you can bet that the rain will get here 1-2 days ahead of schedule.  It’s worked that way for the last 30 years or so that I’ve been following the weather.  My dad was in weather in the Air Force in the ’60’s and he passed some of his knowledge on to me in the form of a 5th Grade science project and it stuck…  Though I can’t quite remember all of the cloud types anymore, I still like to stay up on patterns.  Sure enough, it’s going to be a cool day with highs around 53 but that rain changed:

Winds around 12 mph (after 25-40 that’s great news).  The trick now is going to be the starting temperature…  33.  Woof, it’s going to be a cold (foot warmer and jacket) start…  Of course, I’ll take a cold start over rain and a cold start AND finish any day of the week.

My average pace will have to be 3:28 per mile in order to make my goal a reality, certainly within the realm of possibility.  I’ll have to watch myself though so I don’t start out too fast which I’m prone to doing.  I’m planning on maintaining 3:30’s for the first 40 miles, with a 24 mile push at 3:00’s even.  The on-board menu will include 3 Cherry/Lime Gu – Roctane gels, Gatorade to start followed by water and a couple of energy bars.

The final cap to the ride will be my wife and girls at the finish line waiting for me…  This is an incredibly big deal, as having a spouse that tolerates, neigh, supports my riding addiction is awesome.  I’d live if she weren’t there, but I’m incredibly blessed and happy that she will.

Four days to go and I’m amped!

My World Went Bananas Years Ago…

Several years back I went through a bout of cramping when I ran – we’re not talking about side stitches here (though I’ll get to those in a minute) – I mean leg cramps.  I’d experience them when I ran and every once in a blue moon at night.  I talked to a couple of my friends in the running club and they suggested I start eating bananas on a fairly regular basis…  It’s one of those tips that you really don’t know the veracity of, but sounds good enough.  Rather than consult the Google Oracle about the suggestion I just went ahead and started eating a banana a day (or thereabouts, sometimes two) and sure enough the cramping went away.  Two years ago I was watching a Tiger’s game on a particularly hot weekend and a Fox Sports reporter asked Max Scherzer, pregame, how he would handle the heat.  He specifically remarked about eating a few bananas and his drinking more fluids (code for H2O and Gatorade).  That was enough for me.  It is a little known fact, but pro athletes rarely research proper diets on their own, and if they do they bounce everything off of the trainer – that’s the job of the trainer to make sure the athletes “work right” (my wife’s cousin was the trainer for a professional team for quite a few years, so I got the inside scoop on that from him).  Pro trainers make a very decent living keeping their athletes healthy so if Scherzer was out there talking about bananas, the info came from a good source.

There are those who have their doubts about bananas, but they get quite a bit of support too from what I found.  I can tell you from personal experience, the first thing I ask when preparing to do road battle: “Where are the bananas?”.

Side stitches are next on my little nastiness list.  I’ve never gotten one on a bike, so I’m assuming that it’s the jostling motion inherent in running that is the leading cause.  Many suggest that the culprit is breathing too shallowly as you’re trying for your PR on that 5k (in fact, I can still remember my worst side stitch ever – first year of running, 3 months in, going for a PR on a 5k – it sucked – I finished with my left fingers curled underneath my ribcage to lessen the pain, but I got my PR).  In addition, I’ve read that too much rhythm can lead to them as well (if you’re cadence matches your breathing over long distances).  This makes sense, to an extent, but that’s how I always run – and have for years, and I rarely suffer from stitches, maybe one a year.

I have a different theory on side stitches and have developed a way to avoid them that is darn near fool-proof.  It’s not pretty though.  Reading a post on side stitches and the relief thereof, I stumbled upon this:  “Stop running and stretch your arms straight up over your head, and then bend over at your waist. This not only stretches out the affected area, it also helps to expel more air that may be trapped below the diaphragm“.  [Ed. Emphasis is mine].

She’s on the right path – she’s got the right idea, if she put it to ether poorly.  To get to the point, I find that trapped air is what causes my side stitches.  When I’m out burning up the tarmac, if I notice a buildup (and by now I know when it’s happening because I pay attention), I burp.  Letting go of a little flatulence never hurt either – but we’ve heard horror stories about that and one can never be too careful, but it’s more about the burping.  The unfortunate part is that we’re not talking about nice little feminine belches here.  We’re talking about full on, start from your big toe burps.  They’re going to be loud – best to let loose in a non-residential stretch of the run.  This can be used strategically of course, if you’re competing.  Make sure and eat a lot of garlic and onions the night before a race – if you get the chance, pull a little bit of a lead and let ‘er rip.  The distracting odoriferous emanation should give you distinct advantage as your competition will no doubt be temporarily blinded due to the wrinkling of the nose – if done right, you’ll also get a few swats at the dead air, and that’s the perfect time to hit the gas – err, so to speak.

Believe it or not, and all kidding aside, I’ve actually tested this out when it was just a mere hypothesis of mine (it’s now a theory, if on limited testing).  If I felt I had a burp stuck, I’d work it out.  No side stitch.  The next time, I wouldn’t and I’d get a side stitch.  I tried this over two months just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but I’m telling you it worked every time.  The few side stitches I do get, it’s the stealth gas that creeps up on me.

If you’re prone to side stitches, try it, you might like it.