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Monthly Archives: October 2016

GCN on How to Make Your Bike Look Pro

I’ve got four of the five (and I am flexible enough to be comfortable riding as my bike as set up):


Sadly, those $3,000 wheels are simply too much damage on the budget.  Now, technically you may note that I could actually drop my stem another 5 mm.  I tried it, it was just too much to get comfortable with, so where it is it will stay.

As far as my two cents go, having a bike the looks “pro” ranks right up there with… well, a bunch of other $#!+ that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that we’ve got a bike that we’re happy to ride…. well, in all fairness, let’s just skip the extremes, eh?

If you want more, try Seven Things You didn’t Know about Carbon Fiber:

The First Crappy Ride of 2016… Had to Come Sooner or Later.

It was supposed to be a perfect weekend.  Three days in a row, 33 to 40 miles a day.

Friday, 34 miles.  Cold, but we got it done and had some fun.

Saturday, 33 miles.  Warm and awesome.  Perfectly enjoyable.  As good as they get for late October.

Then there’s Sunday.  They were calling for rain so we were going to hope for the best and play it as it came.  It started raining at 7:30, just before daybreak.  It rained for two and a half hours.  Then there was waiting for it to dry out.  Mike bailed, then Brad, then Phill.  

My wife and I headed out the door at around 1 pm.  Our road was damp but not wet, and drying.  It was cold though, and with a brisk wind out if the north, it cut right through my thermal jersey.  45 degrees, cloudy, windy… and it started drizzling before we were done with our second mile.

We pressed on anyway and the barely there rain turned out to be short-lived.  The wind, however, was not.  I pulled the first seven miles, a headwind the whole way, and it sucked.  

My wife took the next mile and I took the lead after that, with a tailwind.  I was dressed for weather five to ten degrees colder, even with the tailwind I never really warmed up, though it was nice to climb the longest of the hills as fast as I was riding into the headwind just a couple of miles earlier.

It was home from there and I knew we were going to be short, just fourteen miles.  Under normal circumstances, call those summer, fourteen miles would simply be unacceptable unless it was going to rain.  I’m not a fan of taking an hour to clean and lube my bike, and I am okay with this.  Yesterday, however, was one of those “I just don’t care” days.  We took it home and parked the bikes in the bike room.  Just fifty minutes on the bike.  I’d almost have been happier riding the on trainer with a movie playing.  Almost.

Considering we’re a day away from November, I can live with this being the first crappy ride of the year.  I feel quite lucky we got this far into the year.

Cycling: Simple Tricks for Training to Ride Faster

Cyclists often, almost down the line, want to ride just a little faster. It’s a rare day you get one who is completely happy with where they’re at.  I have a few tricks I use to keep improving:

Train on inferior equipment. Seriously. I ride an older Trek as a rain bike and its wheels are in great condition, they’re just slow, painfully slow. By riding with my friends on training rides using the Trek, I have to work harder to keep the pace.  When I switch to the Venge with the superior wheels, I’m noticeably quicker and don’t have to work as hard to go faster. Try it, you’ll like it. Just remember to switch back to the good stuff for the big rides.

Spend time at the front of the group. Spending extraordinary amounts of time at the front of a slower group will absolutely help you hang better with a faster group… providing you cut back the time you spend pulling to reasonable levels. Such has been my experience. Try it.

When at the very back ride out of the draft. Only at the back, though.  I don’t necessarily like this one too much but I know a couple of guys who employ this simple trick.  Just make sure that when others come to the back you get back into like properly.  It’s not cool to mess up someone else’s draft for your selfishness.

Sprint up hills during training rides (more the speed bumps than actual climbs).  The perfect interval training session.  I use this regularly in during springtime training sessions.  It also helps on hill climbing all season long.  I even started to view climbing hills differently as I went along.  Most advanced groups will have a few people who attack on the hills.  If you’re already used to training fast on the hills, it won’t quite suck as bad when someone attacks.

Push yourself away from the dinner table when you’re full.  The biggest enemy of speed is fat.  If you want to be fast, be lean and mean.

My personal favorite:  Ride A LOT!  My friends, the best way to get fast is to ride a lot.  The more miles you ride, the stronger you become, the stronger you are…  My buddy Mike can get fast in the Springtime by sheer volume.  Of course, he’s retired.

Ride fast.  Train fast, ride fast.  How does one know what that is?  Start by slightly puking in your mouth… that’s training fast.  It tastes gnarly, for sure, but it works.

Ride fast… and hard, my friends.

Who do You want Running the Government?

Donald Trump:  Boeing 757

Hillary Clinton:  Boeing 737

During the primary, Trump spent a quarter that of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  Trump beat 12 other Republicans running in the Primary.  In Dollars, Trump spent $55 Million to beat 15 other candidates.  Hillary Clinton had to spend $174 Million to beat a cranky, old socialist.  In America.  Bernie spent $202 Million and wasn’t smart enough to know the primary was rigged from day one.  Trump spent $46 per Delegate.  Hillary $146 and Sanders, chuckle, $254.
Hillary Clinton will spend, roughly $1.3 Billion before this is over.  About half a Billion more than Trump. 

Trump’s plane has a gold-plated sink.  By the bedroom.  Hillary’s has standard seating.

This post isn’t for the Kool-aid drinking Hillary supporter.  I know, you don’t care how much it costs to defeat those wascawy Wepubwicans.  I know.  Just move along and comment if you must.  You won’t change my mind, even if you call me names and stuff and I know I won’t change yours…  You’re obviously okay with an astounding level of corruption, as long as it comes from your side of the aisle. I’m just sayin’…

OH YEAH!  By the WAY!  It’s October!  Surprise!  The FBI re-opened the investigation into her worshipfulness because of information gleaned in the investigation of Carlos Danger sexting underage girls!  

I’m not used to these things going our way!  What a treat.  If you haven’t seen VP Joe Biden’s reaction when a reporter lets him in on the fact that the emails came from Carlos Danger’s – AKA Anthony Weiner (no kidding) – computer…  It’s the best Joltin’ Joe ever.  I laughed for 15 minutes…  I’m not exaggerating.

Cycling in the Service of Others

One thing I’ve come to enjoy about staying fit on a bicycle is working up front for others.  My days stuck up front for a lead out are almost as fun as sprinting for the finish on Tuesday night.

Some times you’re the lead out, sometimes the sprinter.  If you’re exceptionally lucky, you can be both…

My wife and I rode with Mike and Chuck this morning, and Mike is coming quickly back to form from his triple bypass just a few short months ago.  Chuck rode up to our house, a six mile trip, and we all met up at the end of my road and rolled out together.  In sharp contrast to yesterday morning the temperature was almost double as we rolled out.  32 yesterday, 62 this morning, though the roads were damp yet again.  That’s life in Michigan.

I took the first turn up front and settled in as we headed into a decent 15 mph WSW headwind.  I kept it between 17.5 and 18 mph so as not to blow my wife and Mike up too early.  Sure enough, after a mile here comes my wife on the right to take the first Township sign.  I didn’t even see her coming up on my left.

I got on her wheel when I caught her and made her pull for another mile.  My wife was done and headed to the back after that mile.  I took the next and Chuck backed me up with a solid four mile turn.  Then Mike and my wife took a mile each and it was back to me and Chuck for several more.

Around mile 14 my wife and I made a charge for the Byron sign and I took it, but barely…  Mike called it right when he caught back up – my wife didn’t give anything up, she made me work for that one, hard.

In Byron proper Chuck split off and headed for home.  I knew the bulk of the remaining 20 miles were going to fall on my shoulders and that suited me just fine.  

I took my place up front and stayed there, heading north with a cross tailwind that was a lot more cross than tail.  Still, holding 19 to 20 mph was fairly easy.  I kept it pretty close to the middle of the lane too to give my wife and Mike as much protection as I could.  I don’t have a clue how many miles I spent up there but it was more than five miles.

From there Mike and my wife took a mile each and I was back up front.  

Then came the merciful tailwind and I spent all but a couple of the last twelve up front trying to work Mike without blowing him (or my wife) up.  It was a fine line and my wife hollered at me a few times to dial it back a little bit, which I did.  

As we pulled up to our road, we sat up and Mike asked if I’d been trying to work him.  I responded simply.  Of course.

This is what real cyclists do for each other.  Mike pulled me around courses for years until I got my cycling legs built up under me.  I’m just glad I’ve got the opportunity to pay him back.  And how about my wife, my best friend?  It’s not even a question.  I’d ride my @$$ into the ground for her.  That’s just what we do.

If you haven’t had this opportunity yet, try busting your butt for a friend.  I guarantee you it’ll do your heart good.  Twice.  Heck, your legs might be pretty appreciative too.

Taking a sprint after (or during as the case may be) a good ride feels like a million bucks, but working your butt off for a friend or two so they can have a better, faster ride… well that’s priceless.

The Venge Gets Hung Up…

The Venge’s days are numbered, for this year.

I rode with a whole pile of friends yesterday morning, 34 miles in just a little less than 2 hours.  1:59:59 to be exact.  It was slow, but with the starting temperature below our overall mileage, meaning it was freezing or 0 C, I wasn’t expecting much.

The ground was a little damp too so there was absolutely no way I was taking the Venge out.  Also, with the night ride coming up on Tuesday, it just makes sense to hang the Venge up for warmer, kinder days.  

Now, you may wonder how a simple night ride could have any bearing on why I’d hang up the Venge…

Good luck hanging a light from that handlebar.  I’ve tried, and short of zip ties and a ridiculous amount of DIY rigging, it just isn’t going to happen.  I’ve tried, with expert help, and there’s nothing out there…

No, it’s the round bar of the Trek or nothing.  In this case, awesome has its limits.

Ugh.  I Hate Rain Days….

My legs feel better than they’ve felt in four or five months.  It’s been raining non-stop for two days.  Not a gnarly, driving rain, just constant.  It was supposed to clear up yesterday and for about 30 minutes it appeared it would… the sun even broke through the cloud cover for a couple of minutes.

It was drizzling again, thirty minutes later so I cancelled our planned evening ride.

I know… my friends in the UK are thinking, “Wait, you don’t ride in the rain?!”

I don’t.  It rarely rains often enough here to bother, we just use our rain days for rest days.  The bikes stay clean and all is well.  Well, in Spring and Fall we can get a stretch of gnarly weather now and again.

Normally this isn’t a cause for concern either, I simply take a pair of cycling shorts, shoes and a tee-shirt to the office, along with my bike and trainer and I get my ride in at lunch time.  Perfect!

Until the weatherman and the Internet screw that up.  The rain was supposed to clear up yesterday morning according to the weather powers-that-be, so I decided to skip the trainer and ride later.

In any event, I wound up with a nice nap before my normal Thursday meeting.

We’ll be riding all weekend long, if the weather holds of course.

Obviously, like everyone else on the planet, I cut my food intake by a third over those two days… because we all know that we don’t need extra calories till after we’ve already burned them.  Right?

And I’m lucky I’m not fat.

I’ll leave you this day with a photo of my bike room/wrench room.  You want stress?  Try wrenching on a bike on carpet…  It does make one efficient though: