Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Charity

Charity rides, T-shirt rides, Centuries, Tours, Grand Fundos.  Whatever you call it, they are a great chance to get out and ride your bike and meet other people who ride bikes.  9 times out of ten the money goes to a good cause and you get an experience out of the deal.  And, yes, feel free to race that bearded guy on the recumbent, if that makes you feel better.  You go.  As a "team rider" in sponsor kit, it is a good opportunity to be an ambassador for the sponsor on your back and to show other riders that not every "racer" is a total A-h*l3. 

Slow down for a few minutes or actually stop at some of the rest stops and talk to your fellow cyclists.  We all enjoy doing the same thing, just at different speeds and intervals.  No matter what you think of other cyclists, the general public sees us all the same, so why don't we see each other in that way?  As a whole we are but a small section of society, no need for us to break it down into smaller pieces.

Not trying to get preachy, I am just as guilty as anyone on two wheels with my holier-than-thou-I-race attitude.  Can't we cyclists all get along.  Much love to all my fellow two-wheel-pedal-powered people.  See you out there this weekend.  MS150 and Fall Century be safe and have fun.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

3X10 Update Redux

Got a new chain for the Bike. Pretty nifty, it is a directional chain just like Shimano's road line-up. Installed the new chain and put the bike in the dirt this last weekend. Seemed to make everything better, shifting, gear selection. You name it, it was "all good" as the kids say. I put 10 miles on it on Sunday and another ten on Monday. The 32 is set-up to be the primary gear, and it is. I run the middle ring 98% of the time, it is rare that I use the small ring. We call the small ring the "tractor gear" 24 x 36 is low, and you can motor up anything. The 42 is more like a bash guard, I only use in on the road going down hill on the way home.

After the new chain, I am getting more acquainted with the Shimano 3x10 and the gearing is starting to grow on me. The shifting is more Sram-like, I can shift up or down with the system loaded. Don't know how long the chain will handle this abuse, but after 44miles it is still acting like is should.

I did have a minor setback last night with a shifting issue. It started shifting rough, ghost shifting, and being all-around stupid (for lack of a better word). This is what happened to me right before I broke the last chain. Got the bike back home and put it in the work stand. Worked on adjusting the derailleur, and had issues with the shift from the 11 to the 12. It would skip the 12 and land in the 13, both up and down. I put the chain in the 17 and worked it from there and got it perfect. Perfect except for the fact it would not go into the 11. Ended up adjusting the tension out of the cable until it was a bit loose. Magic, it shifted into the 11, and every up and down shift was Shimanorific. Just a little weird that I had to adjust the tension out of the cable to get it to work. ????????

Rode the system 14 miles today after last night's adjustment and .....No complaints. This is the first Shimano system I have had in the house in over 4 years. So, my Shimano skills are weak at best. Even with the system working, and working good, I want to throw down on a Sram X-9 2x10 with a 26x39 up front and a 12x36 in back. I'm a Sram man, made the leap on the road, I've been riding it off-road for years, and it looks so b'dass. Can't go wrong?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I want to ride my...

Why do I ride?

Why don't you?

There really is no grey area when it comes to riding bikes. There are no casual bikers out there. Hear me out. Riding bikes, in whatever capacity you might find yourself, is a commitment. Yes, there are millions of people that might ride a bike once or twice a year. Drive down a middle America street and look at all the bikes hanging up in the garage. Not all bikes get used the same. To go out and ride takes time and energy, even if it is only once a week. The person who rides once a week still puts more miles on than someone who only rides once a year. Perspective.

I'm going to say that everyone at one point in their life has ridden a bike. What you do with it after that depends on your addiction. Do you see the bike as transportation? Is it just a workout? Is it a child's toy that you outgrew? Is it a release? Is it your best friend?

This is my bike. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My bike is my best friend... If you can identify with that statement you are either a Marine or a Lycra clad sick-o. No offence USMC, much love to the Corps. If you are a sick-o, you sit at work, in traffic, at the dentist, with the in-laws and dream of riding. You are driving in your car and wishing that you were riding your bike. You dream of sprinting city limit signs with your friends. You try and interject cycling into everyday conversation. You know the best way to cure roadrash.

We all have reasons why we ride. The reason for a ride, could be training, transportation, fitness. The best reason to be on a bike is for no reason at all. Just ride. Just to be on a bike, to go for a ride, Just to ride. No reason, Just because you wanted to be on a bike. To feel the freedom of a kid, that got their first new bike. Those are the rides that have the most meaning. Wattage, HR, AVGs, all numbers that cannot quantify a "just ride" ride.

How often do you ride a bike? How often do you Just Ride?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First day of Fall

Summer is dying, and fall officially starts Sep. 23rd. If you happen to find yourself in an area that is lucky enough to experience all four seasons. Most people love the transition from Summer to Autumn to Winter it is a welcome break from the oppressive heat. We have been programed to love Summer. Summer afforded freedom from the bondage of school. I loved Winter for the snow-sports, and Summer (for me) was spent working on the farm, so I had for the longest time loved the fall and Winter. Now that I am so far from the mountains, snow is a hassle to deal with and no longer seen as a plaything.

The days have been getting shorter since the first day of Summer, soon we will see the setting sun around five PM. The lights come out and the temps drop. Morning rides will turn from chilly to cold, embrocation will give way to legwarmers, summer-weight will be put away in favor of wool. Cycling caps are an ever-present sight with the brim just poking out between the helmet and sunglasses. No longer is flesh exposed to the elements, every bit covered from head to toe. Suiting up for the ride is a gamble...too much, not enough, just right? Check the temp four to five times, and then try and remember that you generate your own wind chill. Is the sun out, is it windy, is it going to rain/snow. Oh, dressing for a ride.

Then it happens. Stuck inside, on the trainer watching old DVD's of le Tour, Paris-Roubaix, Flanders, and lots and lots of mind-numbing TV. Getting fat. Hairy legs. Fading tan-lines. Road rash healed into new white scars. Winter beards, sorry ladies they are awesome. Getting Fatter. Holidays. Even Fatter. FTP tests. Sweat covered top tubes, puddles on the floor. Trying to find the motivation to do anything other than eat and watch TV. Beer.

All of that, and then, Spring

Monday, September 20, 2010

la Vuelta el fin

La Vuelta is over. I loved every minute of it, and then some. I was blown away, by how hard this Grand was. The Spanish have a flair for their country and their cycling. Cycling is, if you did not know... Kinda a big deal in Spain, check out the nationalities in the peloton. They do pretty good, current Olympic RR Gold is Spanish. The "smaller" Spanish teams at la Vuelta rode their hearts out, the passion that they have for their country came through in every pedal stroke.
I'm going to be a little stereotypical here, so you might want to skip over this...
Is it me or can the Spanish climb? I'm not talking about "just" climbing, I'm talking about destroying, punishing vertical climbs. And Fast, they climb like they are on fire. Rodriquez, Mosquera, Anton, Nieve, and that guy Contador(who did not race la Vuelta, but did just win* le Tour). I know they are all like 5'3" 110lbs, but they can fly.

Photo credit © Álvaro Astiz Conde
Even with all that firepower the lithe Frenchman, David Moncoutie who was on a mission for his 3rd, took the KOM from the locals.

Tyler stole the last stage from Cav in Madrid, this time a head-to-head sprint, but it was not enough to bridge the 7point gap that Cav had to take the Verde points jersey. Photo credit © Sirotti

During all of this weekend had to offer, I totally missed out on US National Champs. I missed it, just like that. Check out VeloNews. Talk about young guns coming into their own. Phinney took the TT and Ben King took the RR, both are prodigies for Trek Livestrong. Looks like we have some heavies about to hit the ProTour. Yeah!!! Worlds and then "the race of the falling leaves".

Vuelta stage 20


Do we actually over-use this term? Probably, or most likely we do not use it correctly. The Thesaurus lists other (adj.)s marathon, heroic, classic, larger-than-life, impressive, ambitious, grand.

I would say that what took place on stage 20 was EPIC, what I saw could be described by almost all of those words, if not all. Nibali delivered, he did his job, he did the leader's jersey proud. I wrote about the weight of the leader's jersey when Rodriquez lost it in the TT and how it can crush you. The other side to that is the transcendental quality that the jersey possesses, the one that Nibali experienced on Saturday when he rode like the champion of la Vuelta.

There is no question that this was an Epic battle between Mosquera and Nibali. It should go down in the books as one to remember. I love le Tour and I am a big fan of Andy, but la Vuelta's battle was way more exciting to watch than this year's Tour. First you had a different winner every day for the first two weeks, then Rodriquez and Anton traded the leader's jersey a few times. Rodriguez and Nibali fought for the lead, and Mosquera tried to take time out of Nibali.

This was a true Spanish style tour, equivalent to a Telemundo daytime show with all of the twists and turns, beauty, pageantry, pain and suffering. If that does not qualify as to be labeled EPIC, then I must have been misinformed. And if you missed this one, you missed out on one of the most exciting, impressive, classic, heroic, larger-than-life, Grand Tours.