Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hunting is over...

I found the awesome today.

I started out on a ride just as little psimet went down for a nap. I had checked the weather a couple of times throughout the day, but didn't see anything too out of line compared to yeaterday.

I saw my chance and got on. I figured it would be a nice out and back. 2 hrs and done. I brought the big bottles with Gatorade thinking that it would be hot again.

The first leg was kind of hot, but more importantly I noticed that the wind wasn't completely at my back. When I got to the turn around I noticed that the skys were darkening. Looked like I was going to get wet.

Thing about rain here is that it's like a high school football player. Hard and fast, but just can't last. Sure enough it opened up on me. It started cool. Total downpour. Drenched in seconds. I got to a pull off place and went in for someomore water (seriously). The skys cleared up when I went in.

When I got going again it took about a mile before it decided to open up again. I had about 17 miles left. It did not stop for the rest of the journey. I have never been so wet. I have never ridden through standing water that deep. I have never cursed the sky like I did.

At one point I guess there were tornado warnings and Mrs. Psimet sent another member of the family to pick me up. He honked and pulled over when he saw me. I asked him if it was worse towards the house. He said no...

...I figured I was already wet and it was either ride or sit around a house full of kids who couldn't go outside because of rain. I chose to keep riding.

It instantly got worse. I was riding better than ever. It was like the priest golf scene out of caddyshack. Complete with cursing the sky because of a particularly bad section.

I got back and instantly said, "that was the best f'n ride I have EVER been on!"

Dinner was better.

1st Day Riding

Got a late start but still ended up getting a bit of mileage. I learned a few things - Primarily I can sweat a lot, and while the wind down here isn't that bad, the wind combined with the terrain, or lack there of, is just mind numbing.

I rode 18 miles at the start and notice that I had only ascended 30 ft. I turned the ride into a longer ride than i had planned and ended up with 51 miles. That was nice. Running through 4 normal sized bottles and still ending up dehydrated was not.

For now on it's the large bottles and Gatorade. I hate gatorade, but I didn't bring any Heed with me. The Gatorade will have to do. Gatorade in a Hammer Nutrition bottle.

The gearing was appropriate, but still felt wrong. The shifting is awesome on the new cassette even with an old chain. I guess it is time to get a new cassette for everyday use.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm high...

...on high fructose corn syrup.

We finally arrived. The beach.

I got everything unloaded and started trying to find my inner Zen. I'd need it.

This trip is one where I'll be surrounded by legions of in-laws. They're all great people, but they have the tendency to .....

Anyway. I started to feel my inner tension rise and decided maybe it would be a good time to head out on a ride before the rest of the crew got here. They were coming in on the ferry. I decided to ride out and meet them.

The wind was blowing pretty hard and you could tell a storm was coming this way. Even with the wind this is no Chicago. This is painfully flat. Disgustingly flat and the wind was like a Chicago mid-summer breeze.

The gearing was interesting because I swapped to a new cassette (unused 12-23). I figured it wasn't like I was going to need anything deep. I was sporting last year's CSC jersey. I received it as a gift. One of the actual Euro releases from the CSC company store. The driver I was riding out to see got it for me last year for Christmas. He either works for CSC or was consulting for them or something.....didn't ask.

The jersey was a size 4 Euro and it actually fits right now. Tight in the arms and a little snug around the spare tire, but definitly wearable in public without a second guess. I made it to the ferry and saw them land. Turned around and made my way back. Wasn't feeling super spunky after a few days in the car and lots of road food, but I still managed to get out a very respectable speed.

GOt back and began to find the zen in a bottle of beer and cheetos. I don't eat junk food anymore but my mother in law is the junk food queen. The place is littered with the stuff. I just can't avoid it all so I guess I'll have to ride harder and faster each day.

High fructose corn syrup is the devil.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Southern Discomfort

As I type this I am sitting in a hotel room in Alabama. I am on my way to the Redneck Riviera otherwise known as Gulf Shores, AL.

I have a week at a beach house on the Gulf in front of me. Sun, sand, shrimp and beer....and the entire extended inlaw family. This year because of airline tickets we decided that it would be much cheaper to drive than to fly. This is even with the high gas prices.

Speaking of gas prices my last fillup was $3.89/gal. I saw as low as $3.49, but it was in the rearview mirror at the time.

Driving allowed us to set our own schedule, spend time together as our own family, see more of the country, bring more than we normally would have (or ever need). Driving also let me bring my bike.

I have been pondering rides along the shore. I have a few route in the 40-50 mile range. I plan on getting 40-50 miles in every day if possible with 1 rest day worked in (there is a gulf fishing trip already planned I believe which I must attend). I also plan on working in a century if possible.

Right now I am considering riding around the entire Mobile bay. I can catch the ferry off Fort Morgan to Dauphin island and then take the roads around. I saw one route on MapMyRides which alluded to doing this. Problem is I don't know if the roads referenced are ridable by bicycle, major highways, or routed through areas that would make Deliverance look like a Disney movie.

...which brings me to my next point....I don't really like the South. OK, I'm being nice I actually hate the South. [Generalizations] Everyone seems to be so laid back that they just appear downright lazy. Luch took over an hour for Pete's sake and most of that time was spent wiaitng for refills. No one can spell. I can't spell, but at least if I am making a sign for a business I would use spell check and/or have someone proof read it.[/Generalizations]

I get to ride....

Also I get to take little psimet crabbing on the beach. He'll LOVE IT! Of that I am sure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Group Ride

Last night's ride was great. I was feeling the awesome.

We actually rolled out kind of slow - lots of new people on the ride. I held back to keep an eye on voldemort (from Bike Forums). It was his first time out on this ride and while he knows the area he was not sure of the specific route. I didn't want to ditch him.

neitsmas held back with me as well. After making it to spring whatever it is it was apparant that the group was on and we were going to be off. Part of me wanted to just hammer back to the group - I was feeling good - but really I thought taking it a little easier with voldemort would be more fun.

neitsmas was in for either. he was feeling the awesome as well. I was climbing like a fool. Better than I have climbed all year. We had lost enough ground on the group that I suggested we cut and do Braeburn backwards. The effect is that it's like taking out the 2 mile section of river rd before the turn on to Braeburn.

When I do this I usually have enough time to get to the bottom, turn around, relax for a bit, drink, etc....and just about the time I start to get a little antsy they come around the bend. Worked again last night like clockwork. I was able to turn around and get a rythum on the hill.

First alien went past with a new alien on his wheel. Then there wasn't much. I was holding my own. Then finally the next alien went past with neitsmas. About that time I started to hear panting. As the rider came by I saw the bike forums was CyLowe.

I thought...heck I can even catch his wheel at this I did. Felt good. I usually don't try to push myself on Braeburn. I just spin to the top. Pretty soon we were passing the alien. I thought to myself as we passed...."oh he's not going to let me pass him on a hill"

Sure enough I heard him motor on past in short order. At that point I figured I should cut off a bit - we were near the top and I didn't know what was in the tanks and wanted to hold on for the rocket train back to the pub.

The train did not fail to impress. The couple of times I could look down and concentrate enough to actually read my computer it was north of 25-30 mph. I am starting to know the route and knew where they were going to turn it on, etc. so I was pretty much able to match every acceleration. Then just before 68 there was a little roller (28mph uphill) then they turned it on over the top.

I was expecting a little bit of gas, but I was really impressed. I had to dig deep into my suitcase of awesome to hold the wheel in front of me. That's when I literally got momentary tunnel vision and started seeing little specs/polka dots. I took it as a sign and knew I was roasted. I pulled out of line before I let a gap develop. As I looked down I was coasting and dropping back to 30.

I got enough recovery time that I caught up at 68 and held on to the end. neitsmas took a killer pull and came off the front like a rock. I swear I heard that cartoon bullet ricochet sound as he went by. The train was moving like a fish through water - I was on the fish's tail as it flapped around in an attempt to swin faster.

Back in the parking lot is when you feel the rush hit you. Gotta be like a runner's high. My hands seem to always be trembling after that. Not nerves or anything, but like the low blood sugar shakes I get sometimes when I bonk on or off the bike.

Guess I needed to replenish some carbs. Luckily there was a pub nearby.

On the police side of things we did in fact see quite a few out there in force. They even had a speed limit radar station thingy set up. Don't know how well those things work with bikes, but it said 25 was the speed limit and it was reading a shaky 28 for us. Must have been broken. They did not give us a citation so we must have been OK. ;)

In all we followed all the laws and I actually had fun coming to a stop at every sign. It really helped keep the group together for the majority of the ride.

Voldemort....GREAT JOB! You held on longer and rode faster than my first time out with this group for sure. In a few weeks you'll be the one with a beer in your hand by the time I get back to the car.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Awesome as a noun.

Ever since Speedy McAwesome ( made his debut on Bike Forums our small tribe of riders that is BFNIC has resorted to using the word awesome as a noun. Now you can tell I am not a student of English, but I think I know enough to feel the need to ponder why an adjective becomes so funny when you simply turn it into a noun.

  • I am feeling the awesome today.
  • The awesome has left me.
  • How much is that awesome you bought? It must have been on sale.

Probably the worst is when it is used in conjunction with an adjective approximateing it original meaning:

  • That was some amazing awesome you dished out.

Also why is it that we insist on using some sort of forceful verb (English majors will have some fancy name for it I'm sure. They dreamt it up while waiting for the fries to finish cooking) in conjunction with it?

We're always bringing, dropping, dishing out, releasing, basking in, or otherwise embracing the awesome.

My new favorite is the one I coined in a previous post (too lazy to link) - Hunting the awesome.

I now strive everyday to wake up wanting to hunt the awesome.

The police await.

Today marks my return to the local Tuesday night "beat your head against the ground" lung burner we like to call a "group ride." This one runs out of Penny Rd Pub in Barrington....because it can.

This is where I show up, get kitted up, shoot the crap with a few guys, make jokes about how much I suck, how poor shape I am in, etc. Then we go out along Penny Rd and play "Wack a' Wheel" with the moon like cratered surface that is Penny Rd.

Usually a few aliens show up (see pictures from previous posts) and push the pace in an attempt for them to learn more about human phsiology. It's like a big lab experiment. About 5 miles in there is a sprint point. It comes right after a downhill.

I don't know what you know about riding/cycling let alone cycling at high speeds within groups, but there is one thing you pick up quick when you start....if you're fat you descend faster than everyone else, when you're skinny you climb faster than anyone else. Well I happen to be in the fat club (really...seriously....;) )so I tend to roll up quickly on the front of the pack everytime before the long slight uphill to the sprint.

I'm a sucker for sprints. I usually go if the person who goes first is within striking distance and I am feeling it. It's always a mistake...because I seem to always win.

What I win is a first class, all-expense-paid trip into the red zone. I have hit new heart rate maximums here. The thing that really sucks is that then the ride turns a corner and rapidly heads uphill. Remember what I said about fat and skinny riders? Combine the first uphill with a fat rider who is already solidly in the red zone and what do you get? OTB.

For those of you who don't know....OTB=Off The Back. It is that location that cyclists hate to ride in. Almost no one goes there willingly. It sucks. It's demoralizing. You get to watch the aliens softly and slowly float away from you. Hanging just off in the distance. Far enough that you can't draft, but close enough that you still feel like trying to get back on their wheel.

That pain goes on for a little bit and then I totally un-hitch. I then spend the next chunk of the ride riding all out in an attempt to stay reasonably close. I have learned to cut a few sections taking about 2-3 miles out of the ride so that I can meet back up with the group before the "big climb" and the hammer train back to the start.

The problem with riding all out in an attempt to latch back on is the police....rather the locals who don't like us riding on their roads and call the police.

The article linked is the exact area we ride in. The picture, needless to say, is not us. There really are about 1000 riders out on thes roads (OK slight exageration, but it makes my point) every Tuesday and most weekend days. It really is probably the most populated area I have ever ridden in.

Last week, after the article came out, the group took it easy. Thankfully I had an excuse to not be there. I have a bad temper and knew better than to put myself in a situation that could bring it out. Even though they took it easy there was still a cop hanging out in the parking lot of the pub when the group everyone the "stink eye".

After seeing some of the comments posted on the article I am shocked that the officer didn't take to time to see if anyone was harrased on the ride. This crap is nothing new. Communities have responded like this all over this country. In the end....nothing happens. Enforcement gets stepped up for a while, tickets are written, articles get everyone in a huff, then everything goes back to the way it was before. Why? Because it just so happens that bicycles are vehicle and are allowed to legally ride on the road. That won't ever change.

On top of that cyclists are advocates by nature. It tends to happen when you face death every time you get on a bike. The two sides will never see the other's side. The angry motorists just want bikes off the road....because....they just don't like them and they feel like they get in the way and slow them down (all of the other excuses they use are total BS). Cyclists look at it as a bunch of fat lazy slobs who are in too much of a hurry to get to McDonalds or to the gas station to take an extra couple of seconds, slow down, and make sure they don't kill anyone.

Motorists forget that they are wielding a weapon, and cyclists forget that motorists just don't think rationally when beind the wheel. That's it.

I hate when this crap comes up because NOTHING good EVER comes of it. It's akin to a police mission in the middle east writing tickets to people who are not in the incorrect ethnic security only gets everyone on edge and invites conflict.

So...uh....anyway I plan on riding again tonight. It's been another week. I am a good steward on the road for both camps. I just need a good road ride before going on vacation and I know I will get on by least until I go OTB.

...but then I'll have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beautiful Day to Not Ride


I got up at 5 to do the commute in to work. The Fox River Trail is what I use for the majority of the ride. The total commute is 50-ish miles round trip.

Well they decided to repave about 4 miles of the trail this year and decided to do so during the May 15-July 15 time period....right about the time gas prices started taking off.

The trail needs it. I just hate the fact that just about the entire affected area is along my commute. When I asked the Park Services about work arounds for the section they basically told me to go pound sand (in a nice way). They don't want to be liable for re-routing people on dangerous routes.

When I got up I found I was dragging a bit. I slowly put on my gear and was heading down to get breakfast when I realized I just didn't feel like playing I was Marco Polo this morning. Then it dawned on my that I could go change clothes, hang out with little psimet for a while, and then go to work and be early. Really early.

I chose the path of least resistance (get it?). Since I got to work everyone has come by saying 2 things: " really are here this early." and "It's such a beautiful day. Why didn't you ride?"

Looks like I'll try to get home a little earlier to take lil psimet on a ride.


Sunday, June 22, 2008


The century we rode yesterday was a good one. We rode a bit faster than I had imagined we would. Not a record breaker, but faster than planned. It was kind of weird. Every time we mentioned something remotely superstitious in nature...karma would come around and bit us in the butt.

Some comment on how we seem to be avoiding the rain....and it opens up on us. Comments about how durable the wheels I build are....and the rain makes my rear start spoke pinging. Talking about how riders swarmed the free Hammer Endurolites at the HHH and I make a comment about how I never cramp....then proceed to cramp worse than I even have for the rest of the ride.

When Rowdy made his comments about what good luck he's had with his tubulars I just cringed. Thankfully though that appeared to mark the end of our issues.

While riding CyLowe and I ended up talking about this post

I thought I would add a picture of my cottage of wattage....

There's wattage in that cottage for sure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Last Minute Century

I'm trying to organize a century for tomorrow morning. Finally threw down the map:

Ride Picture Treasures

I wrote a long ride report over on Bike Forums about the Horribly Hilly Hundreds ride I did last weekend. While combing through other reports I noticed CyLowe's pictures just don't show up at work (blocked by the firewall) so I took it upon myself to proxy over and save copies of everything on my local.
Some good shots of lots of stuff in there.
Blue Mounds - The Devil of Wisconsin - Approx 3 mile climb with some pretty high pitching grades.

Yours truly catching a break at the last rest stop. I like blue.

Pre-ride meal...not mine...and no that is not my Miller Lite....

This is as close as I got to this alien during our Cross Plaines ride. The Rasta tape made for cool looking con-trails.

The view from Starship Psimet

I lied....somewhere I was actually in front of this alien on a hill....I am sure a malfunctioning Alien navigational device played a role in my momentary "pull".

The crew before Cross Plaines. If you can't tell from the apparant studness...I am 3rd wheel from left. I also take up as much room as 3 of those skinny aliens on the right.

Hunting the awesome. aham.

"Muphff pfhts. Fuphed uf muhfuphed!!!!!11!"

"What is this obsession you seem to have with my socks?"

Cheddar mafia. You even THINK of stealing their cheese and they'll make you smell their dairy air.

Buy your coffee...and your bikes from this guy. He knows very important people. Cheddar kind of people. Visit him @

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sometimes I hate wheelbuilding.

Wheel building can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. There really aren't a lot of really good resources for specific technical questions or aspects of building. I am too lazy to accurately model the stuff in a CAD program...although at some point I will need to, but that's top secret. So you end up having to make assumptions and just going with it.

Multiple times I have said...."it's just a mm. I should be able to compensate for it."

What's got my panties in a bunch right now is Mike Garcia's (well really they are Formula's) paired spoke drilling on his serenity rear hub (Formula RB217 or some such nonsense). Mike is just plain wrong when it comes to using an appropriate "X" variant to do spoke calculations.

He always says to use x.15. So to calculate the lengths needed for a 2X using that drilling you need to use a 2.15X in the calculations. He's burned me twice with that now. You end up with spokes that are about 2mm too short.

I can compensate for 1mm....not 2mm.

In my rush to put together the order list for the current 2 wheelsets I am building I paid little attention to a small change one of the recipients made. He changed the rear confirguration that I had put together for both sets from a 28 spoke 3X to a 24 spoke....leaving it 3X. Right now I have spokes running into the axle as they take the spoke line across the flange.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb (me), dumb, dumb, dumb.

So in short....tonight I am an idiot. I was also an idiot when I approved the builds and ordered the parts. The Chinese engineer that designed the paried spoke hub flange on that hub is also an idiot. Paired spokes......idiot (sorry Keith).

Now I get to play "are you an idiot" with every LBS in the area tomorrow looking for the spokes I need. My guess is that I will find more than 1 idiot tomorrow. I will most likely end up having to order an additional batch from Cambria bike. At least with the Fredcast coupon you can usually get free shipping.

Sometimes wheels suck.

Most of the time they make you feel like you have tapped into the zen of the physical laws of the universe. Feeling the tension play between the components, massaging the assembly into a state of permanant static being. Knowing that when the rider takes them out turns the first pedal stroke they are going to think, "wow. Holy crap that's a big difference!"

I live to provide that. I can only imagine the feeling for me is not unlike what some operators feel when they have put forth their best effort in the manufacture of a weapon going to war. You know when you've tapped into the essence of the wheel while building and you know that, because it is well built, it will become an instrument of pain to be wielded by insanely skinny men on the steep slopes and windy flats of your local hammer ride.

Why not? Everyone else is.

I figured it was time to foray into the blog world. Quite a few friends do why not me. This same rationale has led to various other poor decisions over the years as well....

In general this will be my attempt for a stream of conciousness outside of my normal venues. It will be mostly dedicated to cycling, bicycle racing, bicycle mechanics, bicycle design, bicycle trips, bicycle rides, people I bicycle with, places I bicycle to, people who hate my bicycle, bicycle shorts, bicycle laws, bicycle sales and distribution models, etc.
My feeling is that this will most likely be enjoyed fully if you are in the same mindset as the picture below implys.