Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowblindness in cats.

Might be conjuring up a little Hampsten-like courage for the race on Saturday.  The forecast is for snow and wind.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Off we go.

Tomorrow, Jill and I will head to Raliegh to visit with our good friend Shelly.  EARLY Saturday morning, we'll head to Sanford for my first race of 2010, the Wolfpack Cycling Classic.  I'm not sure how classic it is, but the idea of a 36-mile road race in mixed Cat 4 / Cat 5 company sounds like fun.  My partner-in-crime is Barry, who's pumped to compete in his first road race. 

He and I went for a nice spin tonight, resisting all temptations to ride hard or 'test the legs' one last time.  It was about 30 degrees out there, and with the stiff wind, we did our best just to stay warm-blooded.

More info to come on Saturday evening, once we return from 'down east.' 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A good read...

Click here to head over to Red Kite Prayer and read very nice entries on the culture of this crazy thing we call cycling.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bike cleaning = rider cleansing.

Road grime is symbolic. 

We are insulated from the world by our habits, anti-bacterial soap and most importantly:  air conditioning.  On the road, I am subject to the whims of nature...and the NC DOT.  While riding behind Barry on Sunday, more than once I pursed my lips to prevent the spray from his rear tire from going down my throat.  I wear glasses with clear lenses (which Coach HATES) to prevent the mixture of oil, water, grime, and seething bacteria from combining with the sterile tears from my lacrimal glands.  I am in the world and swimming in nature, but firmly drawing lines about my involvement when it comes to swapping spit with it.

All of this comes back to roost when it's time to clean the machine.  A clean machine is important and aside from the "ooh's and aah's" that follow the presentation of your pristine rig to the peloton, it is about safety. 

Just this past Sunday, my mom and her friend took their new tandem out for a spin.  First of all, this was their first ride on a bike they ordered online, and my mom's first ride on a bike of any kind in at least 20 years.  I vividly remember the last episode, and it involved her crashing to the pavement in the Clemmons Bicycle Shop parking lot after coming to a stop and losing her balance.  I went to her house Saturday (before the ride) to go over their bike and help them change tire tubes and get the gears and brakes in order.  As I had to leave before all the 'tuning' was done, I asked them not to ride it until I had a chance to check it out more fully. 

Sunday, while riding with Barry towards East Bend, I got a phone call from mom which, in brief, notified me that they rode the bike, crashed it, and she hurt her arm.  Turns out, the bike's handlebars were loose and the brakes were still poorly adjusted, leading to what was probably a very scary trip down the driveway.   Mom has an appointment with the Orthopaedist tomorrow, and we are all pretty sure she'll end up in a cast for a while.

This leads me to the point:  I check my bike all the time, and I clean it meticulously.  It has taken only one incident of carelessness to send me in this obsessive direction.  It was 1995.  I was at ASU, and my hair was long.  It was late at night, and I'd been rebuilding my mountain bike's handlebar / stem / fork assembly after taking it apart for cleaning.  I thought I knew what I was doing, and took the reassembled bike down to a parking lot for a trial run.  Well, at the first bunny hop attempt, I pulled the handlebars straight up and off of the steer tube.  This engaged the brakes, so that when my wheels hit the ground not only did I have no support for my arms, but the bike came to an abrupt stop and I ate some asphalt. 

Since then, I've done my best to learn about bike maintenance, but when I need to take it to the shop, I do.

Tonight, I put the Cerv up on the bike stand and began cleaning off 3 weeks of road grit, Gatorade splash and spit, plus some really infectious-looking mud from a dirt-covered road near a cattle farm.  It was a tedious process that included removing and regreasing derailleur bearings, cables, and cassette gears.  I didn't even get to the chain and chainrings as I ran out of degreaser.  The training routine has required some riding in less than ideal conditions, and I'm a little surprised as how nasty the bike can get when doing this.

But, as the title suggests, it is cleansing.  I can revisit the moments that may have contributed to the grime, and smile with satisfaction as I inspect, remove, degrease, cleanse and relube.  This not only improves my bike's performance, but gives me ample opportunity to scan the machinery for problems like loose bolts, cracked parts, or worn brake pads.  Tonight's inspection revealed that it's soon time for new pads and cables.  All else is well and I think the Cerv feels better with all that funk removed.

Since the Wolfpack Classic is coming up on Saturday, looks like spinning is all we got goin' on this week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


After today's ride with Barry, it's time to taper down.  He and I are racing in Sanford, NC on Saturday morning.  In the week before a race, nerves can get the best of you.  It's often tempting to get out there and just do a few more sprints, a few more 'hard' efforts to make sure you're ready or tune up the engine.  The reality is that this is rarely productive.  Easy spins are the way to go in the 48 hours before a race, with some tapering down during the one to two weeks prior (depending on the difficulty and length of the race). 

So, with our last feasible day of hard riding upon us, we set out for a hilly ride in Yadkin county.  We rolled around 40 miles, but really caught a lot of hills plus some stingy wind.  The wind was out of the the north today, meaning that most of the way to East Bend and most of the way back up Yadkinville and Beroth we had to fight Aeolus.  Ah well, it's good for us.

We actually took a few side trips on dirt/gravel roads just to have a little fun. 
For the rest of the week, I think we'll ride steady on Tuesday and spin on Thursday night.  All in preparation for the Wolfpack Classic on Saturday.  Fingers crossed.