Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shadows Fall

Well, no getting around it. The 24 looms and the nerves will inevitably rise. My day at work today was long (12 hours) and boring which did not help. So I am going to try to ease my mind by putting up a few thoughts on the race. First and foremost I am racing this year for FUN! There will be far more people that I know this year than the previous three, thanks for your friendship people! I feel like this will help me feel less like I am suffering through something alone and if I can stay awake past 10 hours I will have support in the knowledge that someone out there is in my corner. A reminder that I will be 42 in October should also serve to ease the anxiety of trying something big. You're only as young, or old, as you think you are, right? The tale will be told from my butt first, as that's what hurts the most round about 3:00am. The hands also have something to say as a little bit of my old friend Arthur is known to hit the hands from time to time. Last year my fingers were "ghost shift/braking" for 5 hours after I stopped racing at about 11:20. Twitching in the thumb and index finger. Another big battle for me, and this one is a bitch, is the guilt I always get for feeling like I'm out there having all this "fun" and ditching my responsibilities as a dad and partner in my marriage. Not that the boys or Kelli care. They'll have their annual movie party and stay up as late as they can at home. Dad who? I guess I can let it go and get over it. But I will not quit racing or trying, and certainly there is a point when I will say, "Hey, this is what you chose to do, get after it you puss!" Once that threshold is stepped over I will be O.K. I just hope it comes at about 1:30 p.m., not 1:30 a.m.! On the technical side of it, I will have my poor man's 29er under me and hope that it ho;ds me through the race. If that fails I will have the KHS in the pits, as well as my GT. Note to self, FLAT KIT IS READY! Last year my lap per hour pace was going great until consecutive flats in the dark blew my head apart and i slept for 6 hours! Not looking for gear problems this year so I am not going to talk about it. Rigged up a redneck tech item today. It is a syringe that I will put chain lube in. Put 10" of tubing onto it and zip tie the syringe to my frame and the end of the tubing to the front der. On the fly lubing of the chain! I could have used this in the last two years as my chain began to dry out and shift performance tapered to crappy at best. No mud this year though, so I may not need it as badly. Kyle Sedore was kind enough to stop in at Redeker's tonight and says that the back section between the bridges may have to be cut out this year as the bigger of the two bridges is about 300 yards down stream and may not be in place at race time. You must respect the work it takes to prepare for this event from the other side of the bars. These guys put in crazy efforts and time to make this happen and deserve all of the respect they can hear from us, so let it out and give these guys a good word when they're around! Expect dry and fast otherwise. I believe that I can do a lap per hour on a shortened course, so I am looking for high teens to twenty for my goal. Something to shoot for. As long as I eat enough I will be fine. If you knew how I eat though you might be amazed at that statement. I eat non-stop and without a plan most days. I am a nervous eater for sure. So I am loaded with convenient food and will not try to go crazy on "power food" or gels and the like. Two years ago I tried noodles, and granola bars, and oatmeal. Great for a Sunday at home, but not so great when you don't feel your hands anymore and can't stop long enough to make a snack. Not worried about that end of it this year, so not to dwell on it here. I can always call Kelli and beg for a Taco Bravo or a Snack Wrap! "Godfather's, do you deliver to Seven Oaks? Sweet!" See you there! Later!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bike Of The Week: GT Avalanche

The bike I've had the longest. It has been through many changes in its lifetime, haven't we all? First raced it bone stock. Rigid, LX brakes, Panaracer Smoke/Dart combo. Then the chi-chi-itis kicked in and many purple anodized parts were to be seen on it. Wow, so many people are running these suspension stems, I should try one! Oh well, that's not for me, but this AMP fork looks cool. Too stiff, no adjustments, look at that RST, it's polished like the frame! Faster with suspension, cool, let's get something off the beaten path and try the Girvin fork. It's polished too, has adjustable preload and angle, and NOBODY runs one around the three state racing scene. What? My frame is pitting or oxidizing or something? Send it out to paint, it's begun to boor me, and not just any paint, Rock Shox Judy Yellow. Including the fork. When I get it back I'll make a sticker for each fork leg that says "SCHMUDY" That will be funny! Judy-Schmudy. Rce it in yellow for a year or two. Single speed? Those guys must be whacked! Nobody can race a bike with no shifters! (Devil on left shoulder) "Cut that stuff off of there. You'll have a blast riding one gear. Maybe someone will mistake you for a bad ass. Just do it. You're not cool if you don't!" O.K. I'll try it. Cut, grind, try, adjust. Wow! It is fun, but 32:16 has worn out. What's another ratio I can try? How about 42:21? same ratio but bigger parts to spread the load and save on replacement costs. Set it up and raced it for a couple of events, including Webster City, Sugar Bottom, Decorah, and Boone, including my last 3 laps of the 24 last year. This year it will be sitting in the pits, waiting to be called up if needed, as it has in the past. Cut the graphics by hand out of vinyl graphic tape (3 color drop shadowed) and added some skulls with lightning bolts on the top tube. One tough bike! Later!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Much Going On

As far as bike riding, I have not been on mine lately. Thought I was all fired up for Sugarbottom, but rain spoiled that too. I have been dealing with the cleanup and recovery from 20" of rainwater in my basement! Also, my wife, Kelli, had double hernia repair last week and is recovering slowly (not her strong hand) but surely. She is "letting" me do laundry and grocery shopping! I will miss it when she's better. Signed up for the 24 hour race at 11:46 Sunday night. Just as my basement was about to flood. An omen perhaps? Hope to hell not, as this race has its history with rain. Not sure of my bike choice but it looks like I will be racing my poor man's 29er, with my GT single speed as backup. My KHS is what I would most like to ride, but the rear brake is not working and I don't know if I can get it to work by race day. We'll have to see. One good biking moment from the last week or so. I was riding to Kum and Go with my seven year old, Mitchell, to get some snacks for movie night. He races ahead and rips off a 15 foot J-skid in some sand, perfect form and corrective steering, and looks over his shoulder at me and says, "That's my skid of the month so far." Gotta love it! Later!

Although you won't find validation for this thought in any parenting books, if your 7 year old begs you to paint flames on his bike, you just might be doing something right!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bike of the Week : Buffalo Soldier

"If you know your history..."

This is a bike that I almost threw away. I almost didn't even take it, but now I'm glad I did. I use a Yahoo group called Freecycle to get bikes for free. It is too cool of a way to get what you want from people who don't want what they have! You simply join the freecycle group in your area and post that you want peoples' old XYZ (in this case BIKES!) and they will respond where they are and what they have. So I got this bike from a lady in Nevada who listed it as a "Nice bike if you know about bikes." So I respond to her post, get the address, and drive to Nevada to pick up the goods. I pull up and there sits a black Huffy with aqua and purple graphics, rusted-ass chain, hard as hell seat, and an old clapped out seat bag. I cuss myself for wasting gas to pick up a pile of scrap metal, throw it in back of the Volvo, and boogie to work. Not until many weeks later did I dig in to this bike and change up a few things. Cut off the graphics with a razor blade. Next the rusty one piece crank was replaced with a 5 spoke that I salvaged off of a dumpster find. Wooled it to a shine, add grease, install. Now for the bars. Flip and clip, stretch some bar ends around them and re-tape with 50 cent hockey stick tape. (I will do a redneck-tech post on this later.) Not minding the reach on the stem, but hating the shifters sitting there, I creatively re-assigned the rear shifter to the seat post and ditched the front shifter since the der. was no longer needed on a single chain ring. Add older, harder black seat, and VOILA, a decent farting -around- on- bike! Just about to toss the old seat bag but had to look inside to see if there was anything in it. To my shock and delight there were the liner notes from a Bob Marley cassette tape in there! Ratted out and barely legible. So I added some Rasta colored tape bands around the bars for the classy touch it needed. Front brake only. Blast to ride, JAH!

"...Then you would know where you're coming from!"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Damn Clouds

I was hoping to ride out into the country Sunday night to watch the meteor showers but it looks like the weather may spoil the best Perseids in years! Serious bummer! And in a new moon cycle no less. Should be some good viewing Saturday night so let me advise you of this opportunity. Get on your bike, ride some gravel out to an east/west stretch of unpopulated road, and sit or recline in a north-facing ditch. You will be awed at this year's display with up to 100 per hour! Any night up until Tuesday should be o.k. so give it a whirl. After 1:00 is usually best, or before 5:00 if you're an early riser. I went out to watch the Northern Lights last fall and it was amazing. I got a decent 40 minute show and managed to see 14 meteors as well. Free for the viewing with the simple act of riding to the show thrown in for style points! Later! Travel Gravel!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

This Is Bullshit!

Just got home from Minnesota about 2 hours ago, un-pack, get the kids bathed and in bed, run down some blogs and find out that a cyclist has been hit and left to die in Boone County. Again! That makes two in under a year by my count, and in the same area of the county. Hit and run. What the hell! I will bet you any amount you can stand to lose that it will end up that a kid hit him. Any amount. I just have a feeling about this one. There will be details coming from Kim West as soon as they're available so that we can all know when the funeral is being held. There will be a procession of cyclists riding along with the funeral procession as Kim has done before. I must encourage anybody who reads this message to try your hardest to make it to the ride! I rode in John Maxwell's funeral and found it to be a rewarding experience. You won't feel like you're wasting your time if you're worried about that. It was possibly the coolest thing I have ever done as a cyclist and at the same time opened my heart as a person.
As I said earlier, I was in Minnesota for a few days with the family. Just had to get out of town for a bit. I tried my best to perv some gravel as we went along on our journey, but only caught glimpses of some here and there. Tons of farm fields naturally, but not many access roads that I could see. We drove up 169 from Mankato to Bloomington and in parts of the valley I saw gravel roads that made the Y Camp hill look like child's play! Talk about right out of the box leg breakers! Wow. And as usual, there's me without a bike available! Duluth vacation 3 years ago, no bike to hit the hills. Black Hills 2 years ago, no bike. Branson last year, no bike. Mankato, nope. Oh well, the idea is to have family time, not ride alone in a strange land. I did have a chance to go into a few bike shops though. That is if you call Scheel's and some hack joint called "The Spoke" a bike shop! More like"I will ask you if you need help then go back to talking to my friend from department 18 until our supervisor comes to bust up our hang-out session while he goes outside to have a smoke so don't come in here all 'I'm just looking' then asking 5 minutes later if we have any 9er tires 'cuz I quit caring as soon as you came in." If I want abuse like that I'll just walk in and out of the Gap all day! I did stop at The Flying Penguin though. Cool shop with lots of old jerseys on the walls. Old Raleigh bikes that the owner used to race, and a huge display case of old mountain bike parts. Purple anodized goodies to temp my retro taste! An old Nuke Proof stem (if you don't know Nuke Proof you're too new to biking, Google and learn!) and an NOS pair of Onza Porcs!(Google again grasshoppers, you have much to learn.) I would die for a pair of white Porcs! Talked to the owner for 15 minutes and found out that he knew all about the old bikes at Michael's in Ames and was so inspired by their devotion to old Raleighs that he made it his first line of bikes when he opened his own shop. He had a XXIX single speed on the floor and says he sells one every three weeks. Seems like good turnover for a niche bike. We chatted for some time until he started getting busy, so I boogied out of there. Reminded me of Bike Barn over in Ogden. No pressure, just cool.
Now I find out that "KID" Contador is in the hot seat! Oh I cannot wait to find out what he is going to say at his press conference Friday! You know he is going to be crying by the end of it. In the future, the winner of the Tour will no longer be the guy with the lowest time. It will be somebody four or five places back who actually is litigated into the win. Look at all the people who chose to cheat this year and are busted! Are you serious? Cheat in the highest-controlled year ever? That's just stupid! Take a page from Hincapie's book. Lay off the drugs and doping for two years consecutively, take your lumps and finish 34th or so, and see what advances in cheating come down the pipeline. But stick with Discovery because you know they have it all mapped out! Rambling rant complete.
Lastly, I watched Breaking Away for the billionth time and realized that I need to build up a CUTTER bike! I have a good frame to use. Just need some camp stove green paint, a 27" coaster brake wheel, and it will be rolling in no time. There is a quarter-mile, crushed limestone track about 3 blocks away from my house too! It's at the middle school and my friend (and more importantly P.E. Teacher at the school) Scott Kelley says it's o.k. to ride all I want on it! Better practice up on my I-talian, no? Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Big Muddy The Way I Seen It

Rode to Stanhope today via R. Avenue. When I went to bed last night I was sure that it had rained itself out, but it looked like some more had come in the night. I have to say, making first tracks in gravel that has been "re-set" by rain is kinda cool. Never mind that it was so waterlogged that I could hear the water being squished out as my 27 x 1 3/8 tires knifed into it! Lots of deer tracks in the road. I broke one of my golden rules and went out with the wind, hoping that it might subside after the sun got further up into the sky. I despise coming home into the wind, but "the wind is our mountains" right? So I arrived in Stanhope and sat outside the Sparky's and enjoyed my coffee, trying not to imagine what the 5 old farmers and two cute high school girls inside were saying about the guy in bike shorts and blue shoes. I imagine they would have had more to talk about if they saw what I had seen on the way to town. You see, as I passed a particular hog farm about 4 miles west of town there happened to be a fat old farmer coming out of his garage. Not especially noteworthy except for the fact that he was totally and completely naked! Luckily he was turning away from me and all I had to see was his ass! Makes me think twice about this while "ride gravel for the sights" thing. I spent the rest of the ride alternately cussing the wind and trying to make excuses for why a grown man would be walking around a hog farm naked. Maybe he fell into some hog shit and had to change? His wife is kinky and likes to watch the chores get done? Bestiality? Deliverance super-fan? Who knows, but I will alter my route to skirt around those few miles in the future. Also noticed that even though the Boone County roads were soft and mushy, as soon as I hit Hamilton county it was like steel wheels on rails! No problem cranking the big ring and fifth gear (6 speed, old bike, go figure) Had to deal with the same on the way home. I noticed this same thing on RAGBRAI as one county would have deep, round rocks and the next would have their roadbed bladed down like sheet ice. The roads never really firmed up too much today and it was still muddy at about 11:00 when I rolled off the gravel north of town. My seat tube was muddy except where the seat stay bridge blocked it from spraying up. Almost a perfect delineation. Weird after 30 plus miles. BTW, the title I used for this post is borrowed from a book written by a Boone dandy. His name, not nickname, name, is River Rat Phipps. He had a dream to float the Mississippi in a canoe, self supported, from source to delta. He dreamt it up, got it together, and went for it! I forget how far he made it, but he wrote a book about it and had it published. This is what I need to remember; goals are there for you to pursue, to chase and grasp at. River Rat went after his, I'll go after mine. Later! Travel Gravel! Eyes on the road!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bike of the Week: Toys R Us

I bought this bike at Toys R Us last year after Christmas, for $50.00. We took the kids down to get some Legos and naturally I had to go check out the bikes. I saw this on the rack and it was the ugliest bike there, but the geometry was cool. Like a compact road frame but with Dodge Viper stickers on every tube, and I mean every tube. I jokingly said to my wife, "I should buy this just for fun and make a fixie out of it!" She thought it would be cool too so it went down. I have no idea how to fix a rear wheel so I need to take it to Doug at Bike Barn and have that worked out. Then decide on a paint scheme. I was thinking about brown with some New Castle type graphics, or gold with Miller themed graphics. Cheap Thrills!