Oh, sweet winter, you think I’m about to praise you but you need to get a hold of that insanity right now. You are a mean, nasty bitch. However, after three months of you, I do appreciate the other three seasons so much more, because you suck.
You kicked our collective ass again this year. You started out pretty fair, but good God, did you make up for that nicety by sticking around too long again. So, with signs of spring all around…
…and as temperatures finally inch closer to that which we keep our homes, I can happily say, “Kiss my ass. I’ll see you in seven or eight more months.” I know Bribikes, but let’s face it; You’re a little loopy and you like that we think so. It’s okay.
So I took my mountain bike out yesterday, rather than the road bike, for once. I was talking to a friend on a ride the other day about trail riding and he suggested we head out for a ride sometime soon so I figured it’d be a good idea to get reacquainted with the beast (it’s at least eight points heavier than my Venge, she’s a biggun). I was in an interesting place going into that mountain bike ride yesterday… I’d just come off a really tough club ride the night before so technically I should have taken it easy. I was certainly on the right bike for it. No-brainer, right? Unfortunately, we’re supposed to get a little bit hammered with rain today. If I chose to take it easy, then I’d have an easy day followed by a day off (and we can’t have that). It was a good pickle, one of those Deli Dills, but a pickle nonetheless.
I decided to take it easy and enjoy the ride. Final decision. Once I got going, and after the first few miles of becoming adjusted to the foreign, upright posture of the mountain bike, my legs found their rhythm and I started to kick it a little harder. Then a little harder, after all, I had such a good ride Tuesday, I should build on it, right? Of course!
Christopher Cudworth penned a post on the 14th in which he addressed cycling in the Springtime wind. In that excellent post, he wrote that Eddy Merckx (it is, indeed “Eddy”) used to go out with the wind at his back so he could work harder coming back, thereby building endurance into the end of the workout. At first, I thought that was nuts, we always head home with the wind at our backs – but building in the wind at the end does make sense, in a masochistic way. So I did it yesterday. On a mountain bike. Sitting upright. Oh yeah, and that last mile into the wind had the steepest climb of the day. So there’s that too. It pretty much sucked and made me question my sanity, so it’s fair to say it worked great! I like it.
In any event, it was a pretty decent ride considering that I took the first four miles easy. I ended up with a 15 mph average over 17-1/2 miles on rutty dirt roads. So far for the week, I’m already working on 118 miles and we’ve got a big weekend planned:
On our Saturday jaunt down to Milford, on horrendous roads, I hit a piece of broken asphalt on the side of the road… The guy I was drafting just missed it. I wasn’t as lucky. Afterwards, I had a gnarly scratching sound every once around the wheel. It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t as bad unless under extreme braking loads, but it was there.
On arriving home and cleaning the bike (and my aging eyes not being what they once were), I cleaned both sides of the brake surface, spun the wheel and felt for imperfections. I felt nothing.
On Sunday, the sound was back, but less obnoxious and again only under excessive braking loads. Today, thinking it would take forever and a day to get the brakes realigned properly, I threw caution to the wind and took the pads out to clean and inspect them, thinking I may have picked up a piece of dirt and that could have been rubbing the aluminum seam, causing the noise.
Now, if you didn’t know, brake pads should be cleaned every now and again regardless of noises. Small chunks of aluminum embed themselves in the pads and will wear the rim of not removed. You’ll have to look close, but you’ll see a shiny piece of aluminum in the black pad, no bigger than the point of a safety pin (I had to dig out the reading glasses). All that needs be done is dig it out with a safety pin or razor blade tip:
The second, left side is where I saw the significant problem – the cause of my consternation:
As bad as that looks, I couldn’t feel any grooves – I caught it soon enough. I dug out two tiny pieces of aluminum but those shadows were a clue to something much more sinister… The grooves said that I did have a problem with my rim. I put the pad back on and aligned it (finger tighten the screw, depress the brake lever lightly and position the pad, then squeeze the lever as if you’re braking and tighten the bolt taking care that the pad doesn’t move as you torque it down – you may have to hold the pad steady while you tighten the bolt that last quarter-turn).
Then I looked even more closely at the rim and found this:
The one in that first photo isn’t much but the two in the second photo are a pretty big deal. Notice I marked the rim with electrical tape so I didn’t have to worry about losing sight of the dings. Fixing them is quite simple. One of Mrs. Bgddy’s nail files did the trick.
A nail file works best because you’ve got a coarse and a fine grit – the coarse to remove the raised parts and the fine grit to finish the surface – and the rounded end means you won’t have to dig into the good part of the rim.
Now, you might think we’re done, but not quite. In my case, I noticed that the center mount brake wasn’t centering properly… It was too easy to move. On checking the mounting bolt (the bolt is at the back/top of the fork, just under where the stem goes into the steerer tube).
Now I’m good to go.
Every once in a while, take your pads off and give them a little attention. It’s not like your life depends on your brakes, eh?
I say in the title that I love being fast. I ride with a whole pile of guys who are a lot faster. I’m just pretty good for a guy who decided to buy a bike on a whim a few years ago… That said, if the s#!t fits, wear it.
Yesterday evening was perfect. Light, whispy cirrus clouds, so high they were ice. The sun poking through, just enough to keep the temp a wonderful 65 degrees (18.3 C). The wind was a barely there 3 to 5 mph out of the west… The warmup was even fast, around 20 mph.
My friends, it was one of the nicest settings I can remember for a club ride.
Mentally, I wasn’t prepared. Or possibly better stated, I had the melon committee working double-time trying to convince me I wasn’t ready for this one. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was nervous about getting dropped in the first ten miles…
We started out at a spirited 20 mph into the breeze (should I call 3-5 mph “wind”? Probably not…), my buddy Mike and I at the front. We moved back after the first mile to the back of a huge train (funny how nice weather will bring out a crowd, isn’t it?) to enjoy a fantastic draft. The tempo picked up in a hurry to 23-25 mph and stayed there. The doubt was a nag. I just repeated to the committee, “Shut up, it’ll get better in a minute. I’m stickin’ with it till I settle in.” And I did. Stick with it and settle in.
I took every single turn I could up front. They weren’t long pulls, maybe a half-mile each, but with a train a tenth of a mile long, why not spread the joy and keep from burning myself up early?
We’re at fifteen miles, the halfway point and where this little tale gets fun. We’re just before the first real hills on the route and I’m in the Zone. My breathing sorted itself out with some help and a neat technique and my heart rate was lower than normal for the speed. I feel decent, even rested. Well, as rested as one can be after 40 minutes of 23-25 mph. I was maybe five or six bikes back. The first three hills were easy, just stayed glued to the wheel in front of me and looked three more ahead…
The leaders dropped off to head back, then another quick one and I was second bike and the two guys up front could climb. Over the crest of the hill I looked back and we had a gap, maybe 50-75 yards. I yelled, “We got a gap and four guys”. Chuck yelled back, “There’s nothin’ I can do with it.” So I came around front and passed 30 mph. 31 on the flat, into the wind and I had all three with me… I think. Then we came to an intersection and a motorist decided to stay stopped at the stop sign about 30 damn seconds longer than the three seconds required by law… We had no choice but to sit up. I pulled even with the passenger and he was smiling. Prick did it deliberate. Our little breakaway was foiled.
We regrouped and hammered out the next, well I don’t even know how many miles it was – we were going too fast. With a 3 mph tailwind. I did manage a glance at my computer going up a little incline: 28.6. I still had some gas in the tank but it wasn’t a lot. And that’s when Mike sat up… YES!
The rest of the ride was a blur but a lot more comfortable. I took long, hard turns at the front. Gave it everything I had and we kept it pegged between 22 and 24 mph. I had a close call with a very awesome cyclist who was a state champ at one time. He drifted right into me after a stop sign, but I saw him coming and leaned into him slightly, checked him with my elbow, to stop his drift. We both exchanged pleasantries and apologies and just kept rolling.
The last three miles.
We had a six man train rolling at a decent clip and big Chuck took a monster turn up front taking us to 24-25 mph. Mike kept it going and then I took a big turn, ratcheting it up before falling back with a mile to go. The pace escalated and I knew we were going to have a sprint finish. Half- mile to go and my breathing was as caught up as it was going to get. A quarter mile… Ten more seconds… And all hell broke loose. Gears changing, guys breaking out to the left, and a tidy little gap opened to the right. I’m in the drops, two quick upshifts and I’m out of the saddle, shooting for the gap, cranking on the pedals for all I’m worth. I shot through and took the sprint by a half a length.
It was pure awesome.
Last night is why I ride like I do. I haven’t had that much fun with my clothes on in quite some time.
I would like to thank Gary at PedalWORKS for the inspiration for this post.
There are more than a dozen Rules, as published by the Velominati, that pertain to cycling fashion. Just as a quick rundown, #7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, 46, 48, 50, 51, 53, 54, 57, 60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 69, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, and 80. In one way or another, all of the listed rules pertain to how one should dress or present themselves on their road bicycle (shaving the guns, etc.). For the noobs out there, before you get all flustered, they’re very simple rules and most make perfectly good sense. Some are dictated by region or whether one races or not, such as shaving one’s legs and the use of “European posterior man-satchels” (saddle bag). For instance, it is considered good form for road cyclists to shave their legs but in my neck of the woods only racers shave except for we Avid Enthusiasts/Aficionados. For everyone else, it’s pretty much “up to you”. I backed into the whole leg shaving thing. I read the Rules in the lead up to my first club ride. Now, I didn’t start with the beginner’s rides, I was invited to ride with the big dogs right out of the gate so I figured I’d do my best to fit in before lining up. It was the day after I shaved my legs for the first time that I bothered to talk to the local shop owner who let me in on the reality that only the racers bother shaving their legs locally. Sure enough, the next day I’m on the line and I was one of the few with gleaming guns. Ah well. If that wasn’t funny enough, my wife decided that she actually liked my legs shaved and asked me to continue shaving them. Well, the rest was history. The guns have gleamed since.
Most of the other rules are fairly simple: If you want to look good, make sure your clothing matches, black shorts unless it’s part of a full kit, proper sock length (3″ or 5″ above the ankle for men), etc.. For instance, my bike is black with red racing stripes with a little bit of white in the wheels and stem (to camouflage the aluminum crank and make everything work). My pedals are red too, which is bonus cool. I only own black shorts at this point (though I do have a full black, white and red kit coming in shortly) and four jerseys, all black, red, and white… In other words, I match well (I bought a new helmet since this photo was taken, it’s red and black as well):
I do have exceptions though, I’m starting to pick up some Hi-Viz cold weather gear because Michigan is a pretty gloomy state four months out of the cycling season and it makes a little sense to stick out better during those gray, nasty months.
Now, that said, cycling is not golf. In golf, the rule is “If you can’t play good, look good” but only because you can hide from everyone in the clubhouse except the three you’re golfing with. Dressing well for the golfer is like “Shanker Camouflage”. This doesn’t work in cycling because there’s really nowhere to hide when you’re in a group of 20-40 cyclists. In cycling it’s more of a “Ride good and look good” thing, but the riding well is much more important than looking good. If you ride well, others will accept you if you don’t look great; if your shoes are a little ratty or your jersey white is more of an off-white after years of wear… No one, who isn’t a dick, will care what you wear as long as you show up, ride well and do your share. I am no more accepted in our group today on my $4,000 Venge with entirely, perfectly matched kit than I was on my thirteen year-old, used Trek 5200 Triple and mismatching kit (it’s a long story). I was accepted because I would take my turns up front and when I did get dropped I was a horse for others who dropped with me. In other words, I became a part of the group because of who I am, not what I wore. That doesn’t work conversely: It doesn’t matter how good you look, if you ride poorly, others will avoid you like the plague because you are a danger to them.
However, I do much prefer the newer me to the old me. I am fortunate to be able to have both – the ability to ride well and the money to dress well. I am a Cycling Fashionisto because I can be and it does look much better than the newbie, disheveled me. My clothing matches properly, with just enough white to make me visible, my pedals match, my cages match, my computer and stem match, as do my shoes… My socks match and are the proper length (I like the 3″ in lieu of the more popular 5″)… No European Posterior Man-Satchel (I had one but it made my bike look like a Ballchinian and I couldn’t take it anymore). While it can be argued fairly, that all of the perfectly matching pro stuff is unnecessary, it can’t be argued that dressing the part looks better than not. By the way, for mountain biking, you’ll be looked at as a DB if you look too pro without actually being pro. All bets are off as far as the rules go.
So, as I pontificate from on high, dress as you choose but ride well no matter what. Not having the disposable cash to drop on fancy attire does not preclude one from being a cyclist, just from being a Cycling Fashionisto.
I am flattered, of course but I do have a tough time with the awards. I never know how to achieve the proper (false) level of funny/cocky while being myself (trying to assess how that could possibly be – especially when the really good bloggers send them my way). With my posts that comes pretty easy – or at least I hope it does. With awards, there’s always that little voice in the back row of the Melon Committee bleachers that says, “Hey, don’t be that jackass who toots his trumpet from atop a folding chair. The chair always beaks and you end up on Ridiculousness”. That’s the one voice in the committee I don’t respond with an explicative to. In any event, I’m deeply honored.
Here are the rules:
- Put the award logo on your blog.
- Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
- Thank the person/people who nominated you.
- Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
- Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog).
So here are Gary’s Questions:
How many states are there in Canada?
Ten, but they’re Provinces, not States. I’m guessing this is a trick question.
If you could invite any 3 people to dinner, who would you invite?
Oh, without a doubt, Jesus (could you imagine a Q&A with Him?), George Washington and Chris Cudworth (just so I could watch George school him).
If you were an actor, who would you be?
Me. But really, really wealthy.
If you could take a month long holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go and, who would you most like to go with?
South of France with my wife during the Tour de France and we’d rent ridiculously expensive race bikes, ride for a couple of hours every day, then hang out on the beaches (yes indeed) the rest of the day, then have a ridiculously awesome dinner every night.
What is the capital of Vancouver?
This one has to be a trick question. Vancouver is the most populous city of British Columbia, Canada and home of the Vancouver Canucks. Maybe I’m missing something. I tried to cheat on Wikipedia but there’s nothing on a capital city of a city in British Columbia named Vancouver.
If there was one thing you could change about the way you look, what would that be?
I’d probably have my gut lipo’d… But then I’d end up eating it back, so I figure it might be better to pay someone to do crunches for me. That’d work just as well. The truth is, I’m just being funny here. I don’t have much of a gut at all (maybe 1/4″ to 1/2″)…just enough so the six pack is more of a four pack. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy with who I am and how I look.
What is the most imminent problem facing mankind today? And, what would you do to fix it?
Politicians. You thought whoring was the oldest profession? Bullshit. Politicians were the original whores. What would I do to fix it? Pass a law against political lying and manipulation (manipulation would be defined as artfully leaving out the pertinent half of the information that shows your stance to be a stupid power-grab). Also, I would make power-grabbing freedom illegal, World Wide. The current US President would be doing 25 to life, as would 3/4’s of Congress.
Finally, and pay attention here, Michigan is home to one of the largest Arab and Jewish populations outside of the Middle East and Israel. There are no bombings here. There are no clashes, no mass shootings, no warring between the two populations, no demilitarized zone, no border controls, no checkpoints and there is only one reason for this: Freedom. Those two populations are less than 20 miles apart. Dearborn and West Bloomfield:
Freedom is not rocket science. It’s awesome. Those who would take away the freedom of the people of the world are mankind’s greatest threat and problem.
Now, this being the day before the day before tax day in the US, I have to get my taxes done today… This post will have to be a two parter. I’ll think up my own questions and list my nominees in the coming days.
I can remember the feeling of awesomeness at having ridden 100 miles in a week. This was fairly early on mind you, but it was a big deal nonetheless. Today I feel cheated if I don’t break 100 – last week was 189 and I missed two days for nasty weather:
That second photo says it all. The weather has been beautiful (with the exception of those two days) though unseasonably chilly at times but I’m feeling fantastic. The minor pains are in the rear view and more importantly, with all of those miles comes a reinvigorated spirit and the desire to be the best me I can be.
This morning was an exception to the chilly weather, I was able to ride in just my jersey, the vest, knee warmers, shorts and socks. It was a little more than liberating.
Ride hard my friends. Try it just once and notice afterward, you really have to pay attention, that feeling of “I did something” will be replaced with “I did my best” or even better, “I did better than my best and all is well. I can do anything I set my mind to”. Try it, you’ll like it.
I have many friends who have nicer things than I do. Nicer bikes, nicer homes, nicer vacations… I have a great life though. It’s not perfect, but I really dig who I am and I did well with what I’ve been given…
I taught myself long ago to refrain from comparing my insides to someone else’s outsides. In other words, I (like many people) had a penchant for being the slightest bit envious of other’s wealth. Why can’t I have a Ferrari or a cool cottage on the lake? Why can’t I have one of those McMansions? Why can’t I drink like normal folks?
It gets tricky though. I do get to work from home on Fridays, and commonly ride with my wife around town before stopping at a local Wendy’s for lunch. My wife doesn’t have to work a full-time job for us to make it and live well, so our kids always have their mom to help with homework or kiss boo-boos… On the weekends I get to ride to my heart’s content. I do have nice “stuff” as well. I don’t have to worry about putting gas in the car, or food on the table. We don’t have to worry about someone else raising our children for us. I have friends and family and everything tied to this blog… Most importantly, I have two incredible gifts: A fabulous sober life and my wife’s love.
My life, in other words, is good.
So what could I possibly be envious of? Therein lies the rub. Long ago I decided that before I allowed myself to be envious of someone else’s journey in life, I would look at what they had to give up for that house, cottage, boat or car… I’ve never found one instance where I’d want to trade what I have for what others give up to have those things. Not once.
The truth is, I have everything I need and most of what I could ever have hoped for. Sure, a nice cottage would be cool, or maybe a neat sports car, but I have to look beyond the money involved in those things. Money is easy. The real question is what else would I be willing to give up to have a material possession or piece of property? Would I have my kids raised in daycare? Would I have my wife working full-time to support more “stuff”? Would I give up my daily bike rides to spend more time at the office?
That is the question, at what cost?
The answer is there is nothing I would give up in my life to have more, or better, stuff. Happiness has no price tag, and for that, I am grateful.
Yesterday we had a ride scheduled for 9 am, starting in Fenton, heading due south until we looped around the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, then straight back – fifty miles, or thereabouts. The wind was out of the west so we had crosswinds for darn-near fifty miles – till we looped the proving grounds… At that point it was dead into the wind and up one of the steepest hills I’ll see in this part of Michigan.
Thankfully we had sweet sunshine and the temps quickly warmed from the low 40’s to a reasonable 50. Unfortunately, the roads needed to get there were two things that don’t mix: busy and destroyed over the winter. It’s amazing we only had one pinch flat the whole ride. In fact, the roads were so bad that what should have been a blast of a ride, wasn’t fun. Between trying to dodge potholes that you could fit a Smart car in and real cars, it kinda sucked.
On the other hand, most of the time we’re lucky if we can find a few hundred feet of elevation gain in 50 miles. We were well over 1,200 feet on this one (may have been 1,800 – I was pretty smoked after and not really listening). In other words, because I love the climbing, that ride should have been right up my alley.
Let’s just leave it at this; the roads and traffic were was so bad my buddy Mike called on the way home and we both agreed we’d never do that route again. We also both agreed that we are spoiled with fantastic roads to cycle on, right out our front doors.
That wasn’t all for the day though. Mrs. Bgddy and I went out for a 15-1/2 mile ride just an hour after I pulled into the driveway. We stopped by the shop to check out the Trek Fest sale but the shop was so busy, we didn’t stick around long.
Finally, as this is published, I’ll be getting ready for the Sunday morning ride – 37 more miles to make it around 103 for the weekend. By the time we ride, it’ll already be warmer than it was yesterday when my wife and I went to the shop. I’m so fired up I can hardly stand it. This is one of my favorite days of the spring – I usually have to play hooky from work. Instead, I get to spend a Sunday morning cruising with my wife and friends.
Doesn’t get much better than that.
UPDATE: Now that’s what I’m talking about. A perfect Spring day.
One of the best lectures I’ve ever seen on how to be the best you can be on a bike… Grab a cup of coffee because it’s a long one.
I do, and write about, a lot of the pieces that show up in the lecture but I learned a lot too. I’ll be downloading this so I can watch it over and over again…
Now, typically, when we read something, we do so in a voice, our own. Typically, it’s the same for everything we read, or close. Not this post, if you please. The next couple of paragraphs of this post should be read in the voice of Skipper. Tom McGrath from the Penguins of Madagascar. Oh yes… If you are unaware of the Penguins of Madagascar, well… My condolences.
The first thing we have to get straight here, ladies and gentlemen, is that cycling is not running. We don’t taper in cycling, because tapering’s for sissies.
Do they taper in the Giro d’Italia? How about the Tour de France? No they don’t.
If the pros can do it, well so can we!
Private, get on that bike and ride that ride with a smile!
Okay, now you can go back to your normal voice.
One of the reasons cycling is one of, if not the best forms of aerobic exercise for weight loss is that it doesn’t require days off, or recovery days, like other activities. In fact, most people can get by with just one day a week off the bike, even if they ride at high intensity levels.
I have come to enjoy mixing in three distinct levels of cycling throughout a week. Two each of high, medium and light intensity rides and a day off. While I could go with a more rigorous plan, and have in the past, two of each allows me to enjoy a nice spin with my wife twice a week. These easier days have quickly become a favorite and necessity.
For my first three years, I was on the gas three or four days a week. I’d do one or two at a medium-high intensity and one recovery ride (easy pace). During that third year, having blogged almost all of that time, I began growing envious of those who could ride in a manner that would allow them to take in the scenery, to enjoy the feel of the sun on their skin… I was so busy with my head down, gritting my teeth to squeeze out every last bit of performance, that I never slowed to smell the roses, if you will.
One thing that has remained consistent throughout has been a problem with two days off though. Every time I’ve taken more than one day off, I’ve found it more difficult than normal to get my legs spun back up. Yesterday I went for a 16 mile ride in 25 mph sustained wind just so I could spin my legs up after two days off for rain because I’ve got a decent weekend planned. With temps hitting 60 today and almost 70 tomorrow (and without rain in the forecast for the first time with decent temps), I’ve got some big miles planned.
In other words, it has been my experience that too much time off is just as problematic as not enough so I take a day to spin my legs back up before my big rides.
Taper? Gimme a recovery ride and we’ll call it good. I’ll taper when I’m dead.
UPDATE: just got back from a fantastic 50 miles on some roads that really reinforced my affinity for cycling in and around my home town. They were horrendous. On the bright side, it’s mostly sunny and 50! I’ll be heading out again in a couple of hours with Mrs. Bgddy for somewhere between 16 & 20, and then we’re hitting a decent 30-40 tomorrow… And the temp is supposed to be almost 70! Oh, it is about time! Woohoo!