Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Finished next to last in the singlespeed class. Yes, it was an off night. Yeah, I was lifting heavy boxes half of the day. But really, I am fat. Look at the picture... Faaaaaat. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

See the formation of man-boobs aka moobs to highlight that gut? Oh yeah, I am screaming Clydesdale here folks. I need to go on a diet like my sister...who incidentally doesn't even need to be on one at all. She's is going on the HCG diet...the one where you have to give injections or some such ridiculousness. Nah, I will just ride my way to fitness thank you very much. Or at least attempt to do so.

Right now I am 12 pounds heavier than my lightest weight last Fall and about 9 pounds heavier than my average cyclocross race weight last year. It really could be worse. These past 12 months or so have been a little sort of difficult. Dad died last summer. Found out Bridget was pregnant with a surprise baby. Professional disappointments came several times as well. I didn't do any longer distance triathlons or long distance rides this year either so motivation to train was decidedly lacking. And finally we had some of the wettest weather in Portland's history, including the wettest June on record. In all, I should be happy that I only gained that much weight. But they just seem like lame excuses. I just eat too much crap and don't ride enough.

Well, actually come to think of it I am down about 5 or 6 pounds already. So I really it was worse.

I am not a self hater, I just have goals. And being fat isn't one of them. Or at least a little overweight. I have said many times how I used to weigh near 240 pounds back around 2003 or so. Thankfully that isn't even close to my weight currently. I am 40 lbs under that. But still. I need to be healthier. I feel better when I do. But when I are depressed and frustrated those burgers and fries just call my name. Anyway, time to go ride.

And thanks to Dave Condon's wife, Robin I believe her name is, for taking these pictures last week. The Cernitz bike rides spectacularly by the way. More on that in the days to come.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

First Short Track Race

The start of the P.I.R. Short Track mtb race, Cat 3's. I am second row sort of in the middle of the photo (blue and white helmet, blue and white jersey with a red collar--identical kit to the guy in the lead row, Dylan)

I was a bad son and made my mother go to the airport early so that I could try my first short track mtb race out at Portland International Raceway. I've never done any sort of short track race. It was a miserable sort of way.

Ok, so I really didn't have to drop my mom off early, but truth be told I was considering doing so in order to race. As it was I dropped her off about 90 minutes before her flight and then raced to get to the race. I ended up getting there in time to sign up and then get a decent position on the starting line. I had very little idea what the course was going to be like. With no warm up lap I was going in with a big disadvantage, especially since I'd never done this sort of race before.

Dylan Cernitz, also a Team Buttercup member, was front row and I lined up just a bit behind him. He was an old hand at this race now...this was his 4th race this year. He tried to tell me a few pointers which I appreciated. I rode my Lapierre carbon cyclocross bike while most of the bikes were of the fatter tired variety. I had a cheap tubular wheel in the rear with a Tufo Flexus Dry Plus (700x34) with a file tread pattern and a slightly knobby Tufo Flexus Primus front tire (also a 700x34) glued to a front wheel that Brian Spears and I are calling the Chi-Bons. Generic Chinese-made carbon rims purchased on Ebay mated to American Classic hubs. According to one local bike shop these wheels are pretty much destined to blow up one way or another. The rear wheel isn't glued up yet and so I only used the front. Even the guy that built the wheels was suspicious of their durability. In fact when I told Neil Cernitz, the builder of my new singlespeed frame that I used them I think he thought I was crazy for doing so on that course. But I figured that I might as well use them, despite not being the ideal terrain. If they are going to fail then so be it. I would rather that it happen now than in the middle of cross season.

The race started and I had no idea where we were going. I was in the middle of the pack and I just sort of followed along at a brisk pace. I immediately missed having big fat tires. Oh, if I could only have gone back in time to when I had my Dean titanium 29er...I would have really kicked some butt without the pain, sometimes intense pain in my back and kidney area. Riding on that course was just plain hurtful on those little narrow tires. The course was full of sharp turns, short steep ascents and short steep drop-ins. Much of the course weaved through a motocross course. There was not one smooth part on the entire course that I can remember. After all, this is a mountain bike race, so I would not expect it to be so. But still the advantage I gained from having a stupid-light bike was totally cancelled by the fact that I could not pedal though some of the choppy stuff at speed. Guys with bigger tires passed me at times. On straight aways I could get them back but with the entire just plain hurt.

My lungs hurt from the dust. My back hurt from being bounced around while riding a cross bike with skinny tires. My legs hurt from being having to push my fat gut around. But all in all, I didn't do horribly. I raced the Cat 3's and managed to place 23rd out of 62. Could have been worse, and when I finished the question I asked was, "How close to last was I?" I really thought I had only placed ahead of 4 or 5 guys. That is how ugly I felt out there. If I had known what the course was like I would have certainly picked up a few places as well.

Anyway, I checked my equipment after the race. Di2 drive train: perfect. Chi-Bon front wheel: still perfectly true. Semi-slick rear tire and minimal knobby front tire: hooked up great. Only sketchy in the pea gravel. My equipment did a great job despite being sort of over-burdened. This really gives me confidence going into cross season with the Lapierre. I was somewhat worried early on this year. But as I have put more time on it I don't think about it at all anymore, which is the best thing that can happen to me. I am pretty used to it. I still prefer the geometry of the Cernitz singlespeed, but it really is a rocket.

Hopefully I can get out for the race next week. Short track is a cool thing and I recommend it. Sure it hurts, but it is over quick.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cernitz ButterCup II and Sidi Spiders

My old Sidi Dominators were 5 or 6 years old. The sole had started to give out and so it was time to get a new set. The Sidi Spider shoes are much like my old Dominators except they in pretty much every way they are better. Replaceable sole. Replaceable tread. Better buckle design. Blah blah blah. Plus they are shiny. Nothing better than make a shoe that is meant for cyclocross and MTB all shiny. Maybe they will clean up better. But that means I have to actually clean up my shoes in between races. I am used to just hosing them down and calling it good. When your shoes are 5 years old that is acceptable. They sure felt great on their first ride today.

It is nice they that their first ride was on ButterCup II or BC2 for short.

This pic has the wheelset that will normally be on it come raceday. However, those wheels need to have the tires clued on them still. So I slummed it with my Easton EC90SLX wheels (normally on the Lapeirre) and weigh about a pound less. Crazy. The Eastons don't have a bolt on rear hub so I have to be a little more precise and put a little extra mustard on the Dura Ace Skewer to hold the rear wheel in place. I use a Dura Ace skewer because with its internal cam I can get more pressure or clamping force when compared to regular light weight skewers. These don't slip in the horizontal dropouts.

I love this frame. Neil Cernitz did a great job. This logo is a painted outline only. The letters show the bare steel. There is a nice clear coat over the top and so rust will not be an issue. And if the clear coat chips it is easy to fix.

I took it to Forest Park today near Portland. I have a familar route that I do there. I was using a familar set of tires and wheels and so really the only thing different was the frame. And so because of that fact I have come to the conclusion that the frame has magical properties. The ride was that good.

I have not been offroad too much this year. One reason is that I sold my mtb. Another reason is that my main riding buddy for mtb'ing is now back in Utah. And due to the fact that I have had a lot going on, been struggling with motivation this year, a slight case of depression (because not enough of the right sort of thing has been going on), I have really only been riding for the most part to work and back. And not enough of that either. I am in horrible shape compared to what I expected I'd be in right now. That is depressing too.

Oh, and I have had a really severe case of pink eye this week. One of the worst ones my doctor has ever seen. And I had some additional virus as well at the same time. So I have had to walk around feeling like crap with one eye closed for the past 7 days. Awesome. Regardless I wanted to get out today. And I did.

With the first ButterCup (may she rest in peace), I felt good, but I still like the feel of my geared bike better. It was close, but not quite perfect. There were just a few things that needed to be dialed in. Now, after the bike was gently smashed between the back of my Honda Civic and a Nissan Sentra, those things that I noticed were addressed. The wheelbase was shortened. The headtube was cut (we actually cut down the headtube of the first buttercup too) and lighter tubes, dropouts and lugs were used. As a result BC2 frame weighed a half pound less than the first one. And this one has better paint.

I immediately noticed that my hands were in the perfect spot when on the hoods. I went into the drops while riding down Firelane 5 in Forest Park and I felt just as at home in the tight turns and steepish descents. Awesome. But what about climing? Woohoo! Climbed amazingly well despite my extra 10 pounds compared to what I was this past Fall of 2009. And despite the fact that I was still feeling the effects of whatever illness I am just getting over. My body was appropriately over the rear wheel. The bike felt nimble and agile. And compared to my Lapeirre cross bike, ButterCup II seems to read my thoughts. It goes where I want it. I don't have to think as much and plan ahead. With the Lapeirre I have realized that I have had to adapt to it. Buttercup is adapted to me. I like the latter better. I may be riding this bike more than I thought this year.

Oh, and the weight: With the Chris King/Edge Wheels 16.8 lbs. With the Eastons that I rode today, 15.75 lbs. That will do.