Monday, November 30, 2009

Tired, Fatter, but still trying to Kill it

And not because I am riding too much or racing. In fact no racing in the past couple of weeks and last week's riding was a light load because of work and family in town. In fact for the past two weeks I have only had one day off, Thanksgiving. Frankly, Thanksgiving wasn't very restful at all. And I have been eating poorly. Poorly as in way too much and way too many goodies. And my scale broke and so I have no idea how fat I have become. I wouldn't doubt I added 3 to 5 pounds by the feel of my gut right now.

But the main reason for being so tired is that my youngest, Colin, gets up anywhere between 4 am and 6am every single morning. And lately I have really tried to be a better husband and grab the little bugger instead of Bridget. He would rather have Mom get him than Dad and so he throws a fit when I come in to try and get him back to sleep or to just keep quiet until a decent hour.

It is killing us slowly. This is just a phase, the other boys have gone through similar issues in the past. Still, it sucks.

I do have so good news on the training front. I rode home the day after Thanksgiving and broke my record for returning home from work. I hurt as bad as I do during a cross race. The road back home has more climbing that the way to work. The last couple of miles can hurt if I push it. The effort hurt, but it felt good. My engine felt strong. If I can clear out the crap I ate last weekend out of my system I should be OK this next week--meaning I will survive racing Saturday and Sunday this weekend and then Thursday, Friday and Friday next week. Then I am done for the season.

I also have a picture I stole off of the Cernitzbike blog:


Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Racin', Just Commutin'

I didn't race this weekend, I have to work. I rode about 100 miles last week, not counting the cyclocross race, and they were all riding to and from work. A couple of days Bridget picked me up because of time conflicts, but other than that it was a nice rainy car free week.

I don't mind riding in the wet. The wind, um, blows, er it sucks....

And if it is doing both? Well I just smile and give mother nature a mental middle finger and ride on.

I am on track to hit 3000 miles over the course of the year probably the middle of next month. That will be most I have ridden in my life. Not too shabby.

Also this week I hit 187.6 lbs. That is my lowest I have been since sometime in the mid 1990's. Of course, since that time I put on a pound or more. Not sure why other than I need some colon cleanse. I haven't been eating too terribly. Well, I did eat way too many Chili Cheese Fritos yesterday. Man, about once every 2 month or so I get a serious craving for those...

Neil is about finished with The Mule, my disc brake equipped commuter. It is not the uber-build that Buttercup was. Cheap wheels, cheap everything, or at least stuff that I have laying around here. I could have built it up geared but I have a White Industries ENO Disc hub going on for the time being. I hate commuting in the winter with gears. I just feel like I am destroying the drivetrain prematurely. And because it is a Dura Ace drivetrain on the bike I am riding to and from work, it is especially irksome. But that will soon be remedied.

Mr. Spears borrowed my Neuvation wheels today for a race. The tires are the Vittoria XM's. He was impressed like I was. That tire feels very supple and I think the sidewalls and tread will hold up better than the Dugast or Challenge tubulars. I may have to pick me up another set to put on the Easton wheels. But that will be next year after I wear out these Vittoria tires.

Anyway...I plan on getting up with our 1 year old tomorrow morning and his usual wake up time is between 4 and 5 am. I better shut it down. Good night all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Barton Park Race: Quickie Report

My Barton Park Haiku:

Sick on Saturday
But must race favorite course
Start last, end better

It has been really busy around here. I went home sick on Saturday and slept for three hours and then slept a regular amount that night. Felt nauseated that morning but not as bad as Saturday. I really love the Barton Park course so I thought positively enough to go. I went to church and then left a little early to make it to the race shortly before start time at 1 pm. I raced singlespeed again and this time my crank stayed on!

I was at the very back of the start. There wasn't anyone behind me, but Craig Austin was beside me. We ended up battling back and forth the whole race. Craig pulled a bit ahead that last lap and I couldn't catch back up before the end. We both ended up passing a number of people, out of 101 starters he ended up 68th and I was 71st. There were three guys ahead of my as I came to the finish. I got one of them, couldn't get the other two. I was dead tired at the end. I dropped to the first grassy spot I could find, not caring that it was fairly wet. When you are seriously muddy, a little bit of clean grass is a nice thing...

I did like the feeling starting at the back. It is a different mindset. Instead of trying to protect the position that I am in when I am at the front I am mentally on the attack knowing that really no one is going to pass me from behind. Craig and I went back and forth, but that was about it. It was fun to pass some guy, I passed a couple of the B's that started a couple of minutes before us.

Here I am tailing Molly Cameron on the first lap:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pictures courtesy of Will Cortez and Stephen Fitzgerald

No words, just pics. All but the last is from Will Cortez--who ROCKS and showed the cross love despite being injured one way or another--and the last two are from Stephan Fitzgerald at Thanks to both!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Easton EC90 Crank Failure

This from Neil, Buttercup's builder and mechanic extraordinaire:

I cleaned and disassembled the left arm and discovered that the outer pinch bolt non threaded hole is under size. The bolt will not pass cleanly through to engage the threaded side. Essentially both sides are threaded and you can torque to spec. without achieving any clamping action. I assume with only 50% clamping force, the arm rocked itself off. It is very evident and is a warranty issue. I don't want to drill it to size.

Simply put, Easton owes me my entrance fee I think. A crank this expensive should not have such an issue. I had a total of maybe 20 miles on it when it failed.

First DNF...ruined by an Easton EC90 crank arm

I started off poorly. For my first singlespeed race I was at the near the front but I was feeling very tentative. New bike with a stem change that I had not spent any time on. New tires that I wasn't sure how they would handle the slippery, muddy conditions. Lots of singlespeeders passed me by that first lap. Jim--aka PFJ--was at the back and he still passed me that first lap. Second lap I started feeling a little better and got used to how the bike was doing underneath me. Jim stayed within 50 yards ahead of me and then I started to gain on him. I passed him later the second lap I think and then his front tire popped and his race was pretty much done. I tried to keep up the pace and I was getting used to the course and getting the lines down. That was part of the problem the first lap, I didn't know the lines the take.

Towards the end of the third lap my back really started to ache. On the final lap I started talking to myself. "Screw the pain!"..."There is no pain!" and so forth. I came to the back section where I had found a good line through the deep water. I was gaining on a guy in front of me and I felt my left pedal slip. I thought my cleat came out of my pedal. No. My non-drive crank arm came off my bike. $#@!, Sonnofa%@#$&....lots of explicitives. I jogged over the pit and a Shimano guy tried to help me out. We could not get it to go back on. It is an Easton EC90 crankset and it has been used exactly twice now. Neil installed the crankset to Easton's exact specifications when he built the bike. And it came off somehow. Yeah, I was pissed. After several minutes of messing with the crankarm the Shimano guy and I came to the realization that it was not going back on. Screw it, the pits were only about 1 mile into a 2.5 mile lap and I didn't feel like jogging 1.5 miles more to finish the final lap. Plus, I didn't want to be on the course when the next race started. Neil was near the pit so I walked over to him and we both just shook our heads. I think I might have chucked the crank arm on the ground or something too. So race over. DNF. Crap.

I am sure that Neil installed it correctly. I don't know what the deal is but I am suddenly lacking faith in the crankset even if it is re-installed. There will surely be a call placed to Easton either Monday or Tuesday.

How did the new Cernitz perform otherwise? Stellar. I put a longer stem on there and presto, it seemed to handle perfectly. It was comfy on the hood and in the drops. The Vittoria XM tubular really felt great. They could not handle the off cambers that the course designers threw at us, but I doubt there were many tires that could. I was running about 32 lbs of pressure in them and they felt like I was running less. The casing is way more supple than the Tufo Cubus and my Hutchinson Bulldogs. I really like these tires. Overall, I wasn't too impressed my race. 2nd and 3 laps were decent, but getting to the race so close to the race time doesn't let me have time to warm up. Next week I am going to be there much earlier and I will probably bring a trainer.

Here are some post race pictures of a sad muddy handicapped bike and then a couple (ones in which I didn't look too fat) that I stole from Packfodder's blog:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On the Road Again...

I did a short ride today with a friend...Rob, who works at Adidas and owns just one bike. This one bike is an old, I mean old as in over 30 years old, Bridgestone Submariner. The main tubes are all stainless steel. It is in stellar shape and it is a heck of a cool bike. He does have some more modern parts on it, but not like what I am riding. His bike is set up as a single speed but it still must weigh 22 pounds or so. I was riding the only bike I have with road slicks right now, the Specialized S-Works Roubaix--full Dura Ace. Yeah, a little difference in the bikes.

However, Rob does have some cards in his favor. He used to run for a Division 1A school, I think either Georgia or Georgia Tech. He is probably in his late forties now, but he has remain in pretty good shape and in the past has done some triathlons and other related activities. The dude is competitive. He commutes back and forth downtown from Beaverton on 46/16 or 17 gearing. He climbs up those hills up by Washington Park 4 or 5 times per week. Basically, he is in pretty good shape.

I have never ridden with Rob before even though we often have talked about riding. He also really wants a singlespeed cross bike. And I now have one so it was a good excuse to have him over to show it off and then go for a ride. he arrived a little late and I only had about 90 minutes to spare so it was a short ride.

I picked the route and the highlight was a little climb up the west side Springville Road to Skyline Drive. After pleasant conversation while riding on Cornell Road to Cornelius Pass Road it started to get a little more heated. On some of the back roads there weren't the traffic signals nor the traffic to really slow us down. He had me lead and at one point going down a hill he told me to open it up. Prior to that I didn't want gap him or anything since I had gears, but with that comment it was on.

I was hot out of the saddle stomping up some of the short hills and pushing it on the flats and downhills. I couldn't drop him. He just stayed on my rear wheel--drafting me. Obviously, I was doing a bunch of work out there this windy day, but still! I have gears I would have thought I could have pulled away. Umm, not so much.

Finally, we arrived at the bottom of a long climb up to Skyline Drive. I told him it was a long one, more than 2 miles I thought. After a quarter mile or so Rob asked me where to go when we get to Skyline. I said that we turn right. And then he was off.

Damn him.

It wasn't like I was going easy. I was in the big ring climbing out of the saddle, the bike rhythmically pitching left and right and as I rocked my way up the road. He took off at a nice clip. His cadence looked good. I was disheartened big time. Nevertheless, I continued my pace which for me was near heart bursting as it was.

I noticed that after a half mile or so he stopped pulling away. He was about 75 yards ahead of me. I gained on him a bit, but not much. Then I heard him make some animal noise--probably from the pain induced by that hill and that gear he was pushing--and I noticed I was actually getting closer. And closer. About 50 feet before the stop sign at Skyline Road I caught him and passed him. I had to take a break, my heart, lungs and legs were ready to explode. We stopped and chatted for minute, he ate some crackers he had in a ziplock bag in his shorts...yummy. Then off along Skyline road and while passing at the cemetery Rob offered to take a pull. Man, it was nice to relax a bit. I realized once again how nice it is to sit behind another's rear wheel.

Back at the homestead, he thanked me for the ride and told Bridget that he thought it was nice that I took it easy on him. Umm, no. I didn't. At least not for the second half of the ride. Geesh. Gotta get him on a cross bike. Those couple of miles up that section of Springville Road were among my more painful this year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Impressions

I went and rode Buttercup this afternoon. I went on a route that I am very familiar with, but not terribly technical...up and down Saltzman Road in Forest Park. It is mostly a dirt fireroad that twists and turns as it descends about 800 feet from Skyline Road until the gate near the bottom after about 3 miles. I rode that basically twice and then went down partway again so that I could re-take some turns that I am pretty familiar with when riding the Curtlo Cross bike. I probably rode about 14 miles overall.

The Buttercup was supposed to be identical to the Curtlo. However, it is not exactly the same. I am using a different headset than on the Curtlo, an FSA which has a 10mm higher stack than a King headset. So, my bar position is a bit higher than I am used to. I didn't notice it at first when I was riding around in the parking lot and around Neil's house. It was immediately evident when I started riding at speed down a loose fireroad. On the plus side, being in the drops felt really good. On the negative when on the hoods I felt a little bit too high. It didn't feel as aggressive as I am used to. It handles better overall. I may swap out for a longer stem, but that is about it. And even with that I am going to ride it for a bit with what I have and see how I do at the races before I swap anything out.

Anyway, while it felt a little different it didn't feel bad. After 45 minutes of riding I was starting to get it down. If I want to turn at speed all I have to do is lean and maybe shift my weight or hips to the side. Steering is stable, I wouldn't say it was twitchy at all. I just had to let the bike do its job instead of forcing it one way or another.

Slow speed, tight turns are slick. For a bike with a longish wheelbase, at least compared to a regular road bike, it is very agile. More so than the Curtlo. I do think that if I was go out on a real mountain bike trail I might be more comfortable on the Curtlo when a descent got really steep and technical, but that is about it. The bikes are slightly different, but both fit well.

Climbing: Perfect. There was nothing too steep, but it felt great. While it may be in my head, I really felt like all of my energy went into the rear wheel. When you compare the bikes, there should be a difference. A ultra rigid Easton EC90 crankset compared to the Campy Record on the Curtlo and beefier chainstays on Buttercup should make for a more efficient power transfer. At least that is what I tell myself when I am churning up dirt when pedaling out of the saddle. It felt great.

What a bike it is. Seriously. Too bad none of you reading this can own this bike. And if you want something similar, start schmoozing Neil now before the list grows too long.

One more thing. I ran the Vittoria XM tubular tires today for the first time. They definitely have a better feel than the Tufo tubulars or the Hutchinson Bulldog clinchers (mainly because I can run them softer than either), but the jury is out when it gets muddy. Overall, I like them better than the Fangos I think. Yeah, I think so...we'll see when it comes time to race them how they do.


...except for the cable ends. But I want to put on the gold ones that came with the TRP brakes and I forgot to get them from Neil. Otherwise, she is ready to go. Taking her out on her maiden voyage this afternoon.


The brake cable pierces the seattube lug nicely. It feels buttery-smooth. There is no more drag on the rear brake than the front brake. Seems like usually you can feel just a bit more resistance because of the extra housing that normally is on a frame on the rear brake. The seat post was also modified to allow the cable to pass through.

Paul's dropouts look great!

Check the Easton EC90 crankset. Beefy. Amazingly light.

Can't wait to ride her and get it dirty. I put a bit of packing tape on the top tube underneath the brake cable to try and save the paint from where most of the scuffing has occured on my Curtlo. I keep saying that it is ok if it gets scratched, but there is a part of me that relishes this prestine condition. It is a work of art.

Thanks Neil!