Home » Gravel Biking (Page 2)
Category Archives: Gravel Biking
I received a wonderful compliment about the blog on Strava last night from one of the guys I ride with on Tuesday night who joined us in the last two or three years. It feels a little odd when Strava (or normal, everyday) “me” and WordPress “me” cross paths but it was one of those comments that let’s you know WordPress me is doing something worthwhile… and it was with a good feeling in my heart I prepped the Trek for an ugly half-hour on the trainer. Interval night.
Predators was the movie choice for the early evening, one of my old go-to favorites when I need something to watch when I’m too worried about puking on my top tube to watch all that much.
30 whole seconds to warm up followed by a ramp in pace, followed by my intervals. Six in the space of 30 minutes with a minute or two in between each minute or two-long interval and just enough oomph to make me wonder what the hell I’m doing this for. Without a doubt, my interval days on the trainer are the most intense workouts I’ll do all year long. In fact, I can very much feel the effort in my legs this morning.
I picked up a CycleOps trainer-specific Kenda tire at the shop the other day and gave that its first run last night and I really loved it. Very quiet, no slippage – even in the hard gears (I hate the squeaking of road tires after a week or two). I’ll reserve the review for after I’ve worn it in for a few weeks. I want to see how it behaves with some miles on it first. First impression is fantastic, though.
I finished my 30 minutes with a puddle of sweat on the floor that contained (almost) every last ounce of “want to” I had in me when I started the movie up.
I had to save a little for the push-ups. Folks, I’ve relied on “cycling fitness” to get me by for a few years. I once did push-ups and sit-ups regularly (300 a day for the push-ups) and built myself a nice set of pecs. Sadly, after three years of nothing but cycling, they’re starting to more resemble boobs. I decided after cycling season, it was time to tighten them up. And so it has been, I’ve included push-ups with interval night… and comically, I’ve only done three sessions so far because after the first 25 my shoulders hurt so bad it was tough to wash my hair the next morning. It took three days before I could go again. Thankfully, I’ve passed the painfulness of the exercise so I’m able to start ramping up the number and frequency. It surprised me how fully I regressed after doing push-ups for so long.
So here we go, folks. It’s time to get ramped up for the new season. We’re only two months and three days away!
Anyone who cycles will be able to tell you they’ve solved one or more of the world’s major problems over a bike ride, during a coffee stop, or during the meal afterwards. Runners are equally adept at this…
So this has to make one wonder, if it’s so easy for us to figure this stuff out (and it clearly is), maybe the politicians just don’t want to.
Either that or we need to petition them to pass a law requiring all politicians and staffers to buy bicycles and ride together twice a week. Think of the carbon offsets alone.
Just a thought.
Thanks for the inspiration, Lee & Vickie.
It was cold yesterday morning. I mean COLD. 17° F or -8 C. Mike texted early that he was riding the trainer. I got ready hoping nobody would show but my friends Phill and Doc Mike showed up to ride. I was out the door with a few minutes to spare.
I wanted to test the limits of my new Funkier jacket anyway…
We rolled out on time and I was warmed up within two miles. A light base layer, a decent long-sleeve running shirt and I was sweating before mile seven. Sweating. Sadly, my lower body was chilly. Not horribly so, but I didn’t want to be out too long and risk. Erm… problems.
We chose dirt roads and were happy for the choice until about five miles in. The conditions devolved into an icy nightmare. Several times we were reduced to unclipping and pushing off on the ice. It was absolutely treacherous.
Nine miles in we chose a paved road and stayed on asphalt all the way home. We hit the pavement with a 12.8-mph average and pulled into the driveway at almost 15-1/2. The ride home was a blast, holding 18-20 all the way. On the gravel bikes with all that cold weather gear on, in that cold, we were moving.
The ride wasn’t all that long but we were out there for more than an hour and I had some serious fun. Had we been out much longer I think it would have taken away from the enjoyment of the ride. The cold would have caught up.
So this led to the good part. Before getting in the shower I stepped on the scale for the first time since Thanksgiving. I was ready for my jaw to drop at the jump in the number on the screen… and I was only six pounds over mid-season cruising weight… and still in the 170’s. Barely, but I’m there. I was expecting to be well into the 180’s and to have a daunting task in front of me to get ready for the hills of the Horsey Hundred. Instead, it’ll just be some rigorous trainer rides for the next couple of months with some intelligent eating decisions. Once March gets in gear, I’ll be in fantastic shape in no time.
I did some maintenance throughout the day, lubing chains and a bit of crank work on the Diverge (I didn’t quite get the bolt tight enough last time I cleaned it – you really have to… um… crank on the Allen key to get it tight). I also went to the shop with Mrs. Bgddy and picked up a trainer tire. I’m pushing too hard a gear and road tires just aren’t lasting very long. I had a Bontrager tire on there for a couple of weeks and that worked well till it started slipping the other day. I’m hoping this puts the issue to bed. I won’t find out today, though. We’re going to brave the cold again and head outdoors.
UPDATE: My friend who goes by biking2work asked how the jacket held up in that cold. I finished slightly sweating. Comfortable and warm the whole ride. The wind chill was 14 F or -10 C. Simply amazing, though not a jacket to go all out in. You’d end up a puddle of sweat on the road.
I’m Taking the Weekend Off to Ride My Bike… A Disappointing Day for Strava Users, Or At Least Half of Them
Trigger (heh) warning: This is a post of a political nature. It does not take a stand on ideological grounds (I think), though it does contain common sense of the variety that isn’t very common lately. It takes me all the way till the last sentence to get to the lesson I’m breaking with this post and for that, I apologize. Please proceed with caution. I’ll be leaving comments open because I’m not a sissy. Please be tactful or I’ll simply delete the comment without responding. You have been trigger (heh) warned.
The cofounders of Strava decided to send out a post yesterday in which they properly lamented the craziness that occurred in Washington DC this past week. I, along with most other sane people, hope the perpetrators of mayhem and destruction during that “mostly peaceful protest march” are brought to justice and are treated exactly the same way Antifa and rioters were treated when they lit cities across the nation on fire over the summer.
I hope all criminals are treated equally under the law and prosecuted as they should be. I do not support “justice for some” approaches to anything. The saying is “and justice for all”. We are a nation of laws and those laws should be enforced until such a time as they are changed legitimately through proper legislative procedures. If you want to march for equal treatment under the law, I’ll march with you. I’ll carry your flag. If you want to march against police shooting weapon-wielding or charging criminals and maniacs, well, I’ll leave that to you. I’d expect to be shot deader ‘n hell (and many, many times) if I was dumb enough to run at or turn on a cop whilst holding a knife.
This should seem like a no-brainer position to hold. It is not.
The cofounders of Strava went off the rails in their riff about a new, ignorant way of looking at the looting and destruction that occurred over the summer contrasted against the way the mob was treated that broke into the capitol. In one day, more than 50 arrests were made and more perps are being sought through video surveillance sorting methods. I hope every one of those knuckleheads is caught and sees the inside of a jail cell. Those who left pipe bombs at the DNC and RNC, I hope will see lengthy sentences without the possibility of being freed early. However, contrast that against the riots that have been going on non-stop in Seattle for the last seven months one week and three days. Or those in Baltimore, Maryland where the Mayor backed police off to give rioters space to loot, pillage and burn the city. The same approach was apparent in major cities across the US. If you missed it, I’m not surprised. It wasn’t exactly reported that way. The main media outlets, for the most part, ignored that idiocy.
The people whose livelihoods were burned to the ground amidst the “mostly peaceful” riots didn’t miss it.
The message they’re getting, and the ideologues at Strava are missing because they’re ignorant, is this: If they come to burn down your house, no big deal. We’ll give them space and let it burn. If they come for our House, it’s an assault on democracy and/or the country. “Peace for me, but not for thee” is the message and that message is entirely unacceptable. We should be able to agree easily on this.
Not surprisingly, the @$$#oles who cofounded Strava turned off comments for their post, thus the reason for this one. While I agree with a small portion of what they wrote, the larger body of their post is ideologically repugnant. I’ll just leave it at that.
In closing, I’d like to take a moment to fend off one of the more ignorant points made by the knuckleheads who created Strava. Their post tried to make the point that rioters and looters over the summer were treated more harshly than those who tore up the capitol building by lumping the summer rioters in with “peaceful protestors”. This is reprehensible. They did this by lumping Detroit, which was, with the exception of a few days, entirely peaceful with cities like Washington DC, Portland and Minneapolis where there were clear riots. Detroit, and to an even greater extent, Flint, didn’t see rioting, looting and arson because (almost) everyone worked together to come together as people rather than fractured, bickering, insipid ideologies. Local police and officials took off their riot gear and marched with protestors and, but for a few opportunistic politicians blathering on about ideological nonsense, Michiganders weren’t “mostly peaceful”, we were peaceful. We showed the nation how it should be done and marched with each other. To my memory, there were zero riots. Those few who committed destructive acts were arrested and prosecuted. Exactly as should be. We weren’t forced to defend our homes and businesses from the onslaught, we were able to march together. That’s how it’s supposed to go.
Most decent folk, and by most I mean the vast majority – beyond 90% – should be able to agree that those who harm another in breaking a law should be prosecuted fully. Those who rioted at the capitol should be prosecuted just the same as a rioter in any city the world over should be held responsible for their actions.
When, however, you pick and choose who gets prosecuted for breaking laws, that’s when normal people are moved to respond loudly. And this is as it should be. What the ideologues are doing is simply transferring their marginality from one to another group of people for political expediency. That should always be pushed back against by all decent people, no matter their color, creed or religion. Including the cofounders of Strava. Who did nothing more than create a neat app.
And no, I won’t be leaving Strava. The app may be run by a couple of ignoramuses, but it’s still a cool app… though it might not be a bad way to teach them the most valuable lesson they missed:
NO POLITICS ON BIKE RIDES, ya dicks.
PS. By the way, on-scene photos and the video evidence and reports show that both left-wing nuts and right-wing nuts were responsible for the destruction. If you think your ideology is pure as the driven snow in this, you’re simply mistaken.
I saw someone neck-deep in fighting last night. She was about two hours from her last drink and it was the every bit the mess you’d think it would be. A couple of people were like moths to light with her, but I tend not to fawn over someone who is actively drunk. There’s the normal, “I don’t know why I can’t get it” blubbering, and I know, I’m supposed to be all weak-kneed and emotional about how hard it is, but I’m a little more of a realist. The “I don’t know why I can’t get it” blubbering while hammered at a meeting is a part of my past. I was a completely different person in the morning… because I wasn’t done, and that’s why I don’t get all motherly over someone actively drunk at a meeting. She wasn’t done either, and it took all of about 30 seconds to get her to admit this. “I don’t know why I can’t get it” turned into “I don’t want to get it” pretty fast.
Let’s just say that’s not my drama to get involved in. I can relate, but only in that when I was actively drinking, I’d tell you anything. Once I sobered up and alone, I was going to try to find another angle that would finally get me to drinking like a normal person again. I wasn’t ready to stop fighting, that’s just the way it was, until I was done.
I had to run out of options before I’d stop fighting to stay drunk. I didn’t fight getting sober, I fought to stay drunk.
It wasn’t until I believed I had nowhere left to turn that I was willing to stop fighting to stay drunk and let recovery happen. Perhaps it’s semantics, maybe it’s overly highbrow, but I do believe there’s something to that finer point.
In any event, including the one from last night, I am so fantastically grateful for my recovery. January’s Daily Reflections mainly center around the First Step so after reading the thought for the day at the meeting last night, before the late disruption, I spoke about how I regularly think back on how miserable I was before I arrived at treatment ready to give up. Hopeless is a good word. Contrast that to my usual mental state today and it’s no wonder I have a spring in my step. As I’ve said before, the hardest thing I ever did or ever will do in my entire life, I did at 22-years-old. It’s a toboggan ride after that, baby. Arms up all the way. Or a 100K with my wife and friends on my Venge.
I don’t remember my last drunk. I was too hammered to remember that. I remember how I felt after my last drunk, though. And today I have no desire to go back to that. For that I am grateful. Even more grateful for seeing firsthand exactly how hard it is to be done.
I’ve been tracking miles on Endomondo since 2011. Under Armor bought it several years ago and folded up shop on them. They’re switching everything over to Map My [Ride, Run, Fitness, etc., etc.]. Endomondo has almost every workout I’ve done since 2012 when I started tracking everything. I did take ’14 or ’15 off from computers altogether, so I had to take a stab at that year’s mileage (and I guessed way low, by a thousand miles or more). There’s a problem with my using Endomondo, though: I never paid a dime for it. A business model where you give a product away is not destined for greatness. Thus, I didn’t really complain when it was announced Endo was shutting down. Technically, I had no right to.
So what to do next?
Well, originally, because I ride so much more than anything else, I switched to Map My Ride. I connected my Endo account to MMR and… I broke Map My Ride. Only the last year and a few months transferred over. That wasn’t going to cut it so I tried Map My Fitness next, and that worked. Everything from 2011 on transferred.
Therefore, if you have to stick with something from Under Armor, I’d recommend just going straight to Map My Fitness to transfer your data from Endomondo. From there, connect MMF to Garmin Connect and whatever else floats your boat. It’s quite simple and Endo has an FAQ that’ll help you through the process if you need (I did).
Unfortunately, after several attempts at troubleshooting the issue, I haven’t been able to make MMF connect to Garmin Connect where it’ll automatically send my workout to Map My Fitness and I’m tired of dealing with it. Up till December 31st I’d manually entered workouts just so I could limp the app to the new year. I decided at that point just to go with the app I pay for and put everything on Strava. Now, if you absolutely, positively have to put your whole history on one app, you can upload your old history 25 workouts at a time. I’d have to follow the procedure 124 times to get everything over to Strava. Not only that, I’d have to be very careful between 2018 and 2019 in importing my data. I have duplicate workouts on Endomondo and Strava so if I simply did a batch imports for those years, that would completely mess up my numbers. It’s possible Strava would recognize this, but it’s sketchy and it’s just not all that big of a deal. I’ve got everything saved on a spreadsheet anyway, including my best times for running and cycling.
That said, if you absolutely positively have to move your info, it can be done. It just won’t be a simple, easy process like moving everything from Endomondo to Map My Fitness.
There’s no question, I love to ride a bicycle. I know exactly why it is I do, too. Cycling makes me feel like a kid again – a kid with adult means.
Oh, sure, those means come with responsibilities, but as the saying goes; money can’t buy happiness, but it’ll buy a bike and that’s close enough.
I did things, quietly, a bit different this year over last. While gravel season was easy, as I like it, I haven’t taken it as easy as I normally would on the trainer. Simply put, I didn’t want to have to work as hard to make gains come the first of the new year. Last year was a little tougher than I’d have liked getting back into shape for the spring so I decided I’d go harder on the trainer so I didn’t lose so much ground over November and December..
I also bought a speed sensor this year and hooked that up on my trainer wheel so I could get a better sense of my mileage. I’m not liking it very much. It turns out I’ve got to work a lot harder for 20-mph on the trainer than on the road. I don’t now if it’s a quirk or what, but I can set the trainer to give me the right speed range for the effort but I don’t like the resistance I’m getting – it’s too easy. Comparatively, if I roll outdoors in the third lowest gear (from the top of the cassette), that’s 18-mph. With the trainer set the way I like the resistance, I have to roll fourth highest (from the bottom) to get that on the trainer at about a 90 cadence. In other words, I’m three gears harder on the trainer than on the road. This is also going to throw my indoor mileage off for next year by a mile or two a day, but it’s going to be an awesome carrot leading into spring. I made the decision to chase it… because what’s a couple hundred miles between friends, anyway?
My totals are tabulated from last year. I’ve got 8,430 outdoor miles and another 1,394 indoor miles for a total of 9,824 miles for the year which works out to an average speed of 18-mph. I’m pleased with where things shook out and equally glad I didn’t get all freaked out trying for 10,000 miles.
I have high hopes for later this year, I’ll sign my wife and I up for the Horsey Hundred in Kentucky after some discussion with our group that normally heads down for the weekend – we may just skip this one and wait till next year. Doing that would mean our first road trip would be mid-June and everyone (who wants to be) should be vaccinated by then, so I’ll have to reserve a campsite for that one. I’m already in for DALMAC (the 50th) – this is a virtual lock to go off as it normally would. That’ll leave having to sign up for the Assenmacher 100 in August. The annual Ride for Recovery is questionable, though. The RfR is a tricky one. It’s the last Sunday in April and I don’t know if the state of vaccination will be enough by then. I’ll reserve signing up for that for later, though one way or another, Dawn Farm will get a contribution. After all, I owe that place my recovery from addiction.
Other than those rides, it’ll be play the rest by ear. I don’t anticipate matching last year’s mileage, but I wouldn’t count it out, either. I’m not so much worried about quantity anyway… quality is vastly preferable. With the friends I’ve got, quality won’t be a problem. My friends and I $#!+ excellence. And so it should ever be.
Anyway, FU 2020. Let’s leave it at this: it shouldn’t be too hard for ’21 to be an improvement over last year…
I rode on the trainer Tuesday morning. It was obnoxiously cold. Sunny, but 21 degrees that felt like 15-ish with the wind (that’s -6 and -9 C). 19 is my cutoff. Below 20, it’s just not fun to me. I spoke with my riding buddy, Chuck before my wife and I climbed atop our steeds. He said he might ride later in the afternoon so I asked him to call me because I might join him if I didn’t have anything pressing pop up.
Sure enough, he called shortly after 1pm. It was still cold 30 deg F with a wind chill of 23 F (-1 C & -5 C), but it was sunny and that new jacket I bought makes riding in the cold a worry of the past. I told him I’d roll as long as my wife didn’t have anything pressing for me to do. She was good with it, so I started to get ready. I texted Chuck first, Diverge or Tarmac? I didn’t want to be stuck riding my gravel bike while he was on his good bike. Been there. Don’t like it.
And so it was decided. The good bikes it was. I took the Trek, of course. The real good bike won’t see the light of day till April.
I swapped rear wheels from the trainer wheel, aired up the tires, set the computer and radar, and rolled. Every mile of the ride, even into the wind, was spectacular. After two months on a gravel or mountain bike, 20 miles on the Trek was pure unadulterated joy… all I could do was smile.
And so it is on the good bikes. Oh, gravel and mountain bikes are useful and fun in their own right, but nothing beats the easy speed of a good race bike. I’ll get through the winter just fine, but I’m already looking forward to spring… and letting the good bikes loose again.
Sadly, I’m done outdoors for a while. We got a beautiful coating of snow last night and the back roads were sketchy before it snowed, a packed layer of ice mixed in with the dirt. Anyone who rides knows, snow over ice is impassable on a bike unless you’ve got studded tires… or a crazy desire to find out, rather quickly, how well one bounces.
How My Venge’s New Cockpit Stacks Up to My 5200: Using “Stack and Reach” to Compare Two Vastly Different Bikes
I went to great lengths to set my rain bike and my fair weather racer up as close as I could get them to each other. They’re vastly different bikes, fourteen years apart in technology and geometry advancements, but this photo messed me up when I took it last year:
When I set the bikes up, I wanted them so that I could ride either bike, then hop on the other and not feel a difference… and I just hoped they looked pretty cool. My main concerns were saddle height and fore/aft location and where the hoods came in in relation to each other.
There’s no question, at just fifteen pounds and some change, my Venge is awesome. A spectacular custom built rig that I put a lot of heart into building that bike. I felt the cool factor was missing something in the cockpit, though…
This was a source of consternation since I’d taken that first photo of both bikes, head to head. For the purist, I don’t think there’s any doubt the Trek had a considerably cooler cockpit:
So that got me to thinking about how I could improve the Venge on something that was already spectacularly comfortable, if not quite as pleasing to the eye as I might hope… I’d been eyeing 12 degree stems ever since I took the above photos, but just hadn’t pulled the trigger on one. For several years, I was quite happy with the negative 6 degree stem that followed the slope of the top tube, but my tastes changed. Without rehashing the next steps, I ended up lucking out and installing the stem that originally came with the bike, but swapping out the stem’s inner shim from a +4 to a -4 and installing it upside down so it’s a -10. And that gave me what I was looking for:
So, for the stack and reach specs, I’ll get right to it. I don’t necessarily know if I agree with the measurement style because it doesn’t take into account differences in frame geometry (as we’ll see in a minute). Still, it’s supposed to be all the rage, so we’ll go with that. There will be two sets of measurements. The stack is off the floor, the reach is off the wall with the rear wheel against it. Don’t ask me why, that’s how they do it.
Venge stack: 35-7/8″ to the top of bar. 35-1/2 to center of bar top. 35-3/4″ to the crook of the hood. 30″ on the nose to the bottom of the drop. 30-1/2″ to center of drop bar.
Trek stack: 35-7/8″ to the top of bar. 35-3/8″ to center of bar top. 35-3/4″ to the crook of the hood. 30-1/4″ to the bottom of the drop. 30-5/8″ to center of drop bar.
Venge reach: 26″ to saddle nose. 29″ to CoCrank. 49″ to CoStem. 54-3/4″ to crook of the hood.
Trek Reach: 26-1/2″ to saddle nose. 29-1/2″ to CoCrank. 49-1/2″ to CoStem. 54-3/4″ to crook of hood.
The final reach analysis suggests the Trek is a 1/2″ stretched on the wheelbase. This, of course, makes sense as the Specialized is a compact frame and the Trek is traditional/standard frame. Also, the numbers show the reach on the Trek’s bar is shorter.
All in all, this was a neat exercise that really needed to be done before next season. In the end, the looks of a bike are important, but fit is the key and the Specialized with the new cockpit will work. As the great Donald Duck Dunn once said in the greatest musical known to humankind, “If the shit fits, wear it”. I agree, Donald Duck Dunn. When Venge Day arrives in the spring, I can roll the bike out with confidence knowing that it’ll fit like a glove.
Notice the two most important measurements, the top of bar and to the crook of the hoods, are identical… this wasn’t exactly planned and borders on “luck”. Be that as it may, “luck” is good enough.
Earlier this last season, I wrote about how I’d managed to make my Trek more comfortable to ride than the Venge. That was the first time since I brought the Venge home that the Trek was more comfortable to ride. This was entirely due to the way I had the Trek’s cockpit set up. By switching from a -6 degree stem to a -10 on the Venge, I was able to get the Venge even closer to the Trek. I have no doubt the comfort advantage will tip back to the Venge again.