Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quick fix

Went out for a cruise today. It wasn't the 'right' time to ride, but I couldn't resist. Training isn't supposed to start until after the new year and I'm trying really hard to stick to a regime of staying off the bike. No matter, the 2 hours of pedal time today will hopefully be a small taste, a fix, to hold me over for the next week or so.
I am thinking of implementing a new rule for myself; if ever, in the months of January and February the weather should break 55 deg F and the roads are safe, I must go for a ride.
Was in the mood for exploring but a late start and trying to keep the ride shortish limited me to a well known loop.
Saw a few other people out, testing new holiday gifts of clothing and bikes. I wasn't looking for a race but some were definitely looking to push their new equipment to the limit. Relax!
The morning's rain and low setting sun turned fields into a spring-like lush green. Houses and barns were lit up bright white against the dark gray sky. Long shadows from trees crossing the road with bright shafts of light between. If there was a substance to sunshine I would think riding through the columns of light not unlike riding right up against a picket fence. Sound in your ears, whup whup whup whup whup whup.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Everyone knows someone who has driven 6 hours to a race or ride, only to realize they have forgot their shoes. Luckily they remembered the duct tape. They have shown up but left the bag of clothes in the driveway, two states away. Their choice, t-shirt and cutoffs or a pink kit two sizes too small. A freak accident breaks the derailleur hanger and they have to 'share' one for the next three days with someone in a different category because everyone within a thousand mile radius is sold out.

Fortunately most problems are slight miscalculations and less obvious than riding a crit with a TT helmet on.

I hitched a ride to the ill-fated Giro di Jersey with the good folks from the NEBC men's elite team. I rode with NEBC before Embrocation and really benefited from their elite program.

On to the hacks.. GdJ featured a TT as the 3rd stage. I brought some clip-on aerobars for the Gaulzetti since the Pegoretti TT bike was still waiting on a few things. I also brought a shorter stem that 'optimized' my position. Unfortunately the stack height of the new stem was much lower than the previous stem and I was without any extra spacers. Whoopsy. It was ok though, a roll of electrical tape is just about the perfect diameter to use as a spacer.

After everything was tightened down I just removed the top cap and electrical tape.

Also, at the GdJ, our hotel reservations got messed up and we ended up with one big bed instead of two smaller ones. With the addition of a cot and 7 bikes in the room, there was no floor space left. I think I promised I wouldn't ever put this on the internet, oh well.

Surprise! Camera flash!

When traveling to races, eating out can be one of the most expensive parts of the trip. Unfortunately few cheap hotel rooms come with a kitchen. Most if not all have a coffee maker though which can double as a pasta cooker, observe:

Use enough water for about half a pot of coffee. Add pasta to the pot and brew. Let it sit for like 10 or 15 min depending on your tenderness preferences.
*Word of caution, about coffee pots. I was later discouraged to use coffee makers in hotels because apparently people use them to cook up meth. Be careful I suppose.

Our next example jumps ahead to cross season. Adjusting your brake pads to get the proper balance of toe in versus fork chatter can take hours in the basement workshop. Got an hour before your race and new pads? Get out the leatherman and cut down the back of the pads until 'proper' toe in is achieved.

You will probably need to get new pads for the next weekend of racing after this method. Be sure to adjust the next set properly so you don't blow through another set of new pads.

Finally, this is not so much a hack as a whole bunch of awesome. Lights are recommended for night time cross racing and LED's are cheap so why not stick a whole bunch on your downtube!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Backwards circles

So its that time of year again, the Off Season. The Rest and Recovery Period. I always struggle with the transition from the structure of training to the chaos of lounging around and eating and drinking. Even though I gave myself an absolute rule of no bike riding until the new year (besides the obvious to and fro) I made some 'adjustments' to my TT bike yesterday which involved riding the rollers for 2 hours. Its hard to let go. Even that didn't seem to quench the need for bikes completely, so I started pouring through some of my photos from the year.

I got a digital camera before the trip to Belgium this past spring and have managed to take something like 3000 photos and videos since then. I haven't really looked back on what I've taken or shared the stories of Belgium, which is why I created this blog in the first place. So I'd like to go through, a little at a time, and share some stories of the past season. Maybe this will help me stay off the bike for just a few more weeks.

So then.

Belgium, an introduction to Gent.

But, first a quick introduction to the travel companions. Jeremy Dunn of Embrocation Cycling Journal - trip planner and general instigator... try and keep up. Jennifer Park of Diesel and Bloc 11 cafes - coffee aficionado, bike enthusiast and marathoner.

There were to be many more people that we met up with and traveled with. I'll do my best to get everyone in here.

So that brings us to the first photos. When we arrived in Gent there was some wandering to be done. I believe we were on a quest for food, something I have many many pictures of and surely to be some sort of super post in the future. This post, however, is about when I got an inkling of the importance and abundance of bicycles in Gent.

This was the first bike parking spot I saw. Speechless. As I struggled to get my wits and take a photo Jen was trying to get my attention. We turned the corner of the block and my heart stopped. In front of us stretched a sea of bicycles. Thousands? Tens of thousands? I don't know, but that wasn't all (or even the half) of them. At every turn there was another mass of bicycles locked up. I never got to investigate further, were there attendants? Were these private lots? Did the lots empty out if everyone went out at night? Did they ever clear out? Who was riding all these bikes?

This I do know - hardly a drop bar in the bunch and bells aplenty.

Whenever anyone mentions Gent now my first thought is always of all those bikes.