Friday, July 30, 2010

Freedom Friday

So I heard back from the recruiter that my 5 and.6th interviews had to be rescheduled because of vacation schedules, so I closed up my browser, pushed back my chair and felt a big fat grin creep over my face. Hey, after two days of hustling, I'm free for the rest of the day.

It was about 1:00 when I headed out, determined to take the heat of the day in stride, whatever the temperature. I rolled right past the detour on the way to Hazel before realizing the trail was back open. Those new retaining walls they built are AWESOME. Huge boulders stacked and anchored naturally, they are gorgeous. (photos soon, I promise)

Waiting for the light I resolved to wait up for a few minutes at the Aquatic Center to see if I could drop in on the HammerinWheels mtb ride held every Friday at 1:00. Just as the light was about to change I saw the whole group ride past on the other side of the intersection and start up the bridge. I caught up with them, had a breif chat, and gave a shout-out to Marsh. He's leading from the front these days!

I got to Beals and needed a good blow and time to cool off. Sucking down my 2nd bottle of water I noticed I skidded through my back tire tread yesterday trying to stop in time to keep from making road kill out of a couple of distracted mothers and their broods. The cool thing is, those Pro3 Races hung together in spite of tread showing through on about half the tire! Yeah Michelin!!!

With a nice ride planned for tomorrow I should be able to get at least 100 miles in this week. Not huge mileage, but for the first time in a month, I am not exhausted and flat on my butt after my ride. Now that's more like it!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Forty-Four with Fred and Friends

I've been struggling with fatigue. The side-effects of Amoxicillin, which, as my dentist failed to explain, is known for tearing up your GI tract, and causing colitis up to six months after you stop taking it. About 3 days into the 10-day course I was symptomatic enough to look it up on the web.

Sometimes getting the blood pumping, and doing a little sweating is the perfect remedy though, so I signed up for a moderately paced, 25mi ride on Thursday, and headed out the door for Guy West Bridge - the starting point.

I took it easy as it was 5:00 and the heat was still near the peak of the day, and its been bothering me during this little bout of malaise. I got there a few minutes late, but we were waiting for a no-show for another 10 minutes anyway, so a chance to chat and catch up a bit. Happily Perry and Kathy (for some reason I always want to call her Susan. I hate it when that happens! She must remind me of a Susan in my past somehow) were there, so we ended up with a very nice group of 4.

One of our club riders broke a drive-side spoke on his Ksyrium SL wheels on the Death Ride, so that and my friend Marsh doing all 5 DR passes on his quest to do "50 Great Things for 50" this year to mark his 50th Birthday were topics for conversation. I embedded Marsh's slide show of the DR below.

Fred, or Phred as we call him, shares my love of wrenching, and is very knowledgeable, so we were trading insights on wheels, and his single-speed conversion. Every time I look at the petite freehub body on a SS hub, I want to try slipping just the large, spidered gears from a cassette stack on it, and build much stronger and stiffer dishless wheel for my mtb.

7-speeds and no dish with 9-speed gearing

It turns out there is quite a lot of interest in this idea, and several wheel builders are now building custom wheels on Chris King and Hope hubs just for this purpose. IMHO it's the perfect compromise between 27-30 gears and one. Even with V-brakes in back, using Velocity's O/C (off-center) rims I think a dishless wheel could be built, making for an incredibly strong XC wheel.

Oregon's Wild Beauty

By the time we got to the turn-around point at Sunrise we were on to their mtb trip to Oregon a few weeks ago. This is the 2nd yr Fred has done this group outing, and in fact, organized the trip this year. Perry and Kathy also went, and Kathy had fun regaling me with all of the little side-bars that happen on such outings.

Just as we were about to start heading back, I happened to notice Fred had two different kinds of wheels on his bike, and the front one was the same as mine - except for the straight 14ga spokes. With Mavic OpenPro rims and Ultegra hubs, those are the perfect bomb-proof commuter wheels. A good match for the single-speed setup.

We waited up for Kathy after returning to William Pond Park. Realizing that Perry had sprinted ahead of us, we wanted to let Kathy catch up after 15 minutes. We hydrated briefly and had just pushed off when Perry showed up, riding towards us. It turns out, Perry had broken a drive-side spoke, just like Javier did on the Death Ride!

Mavic makes great products, and the Ksyrium have a great reputation, so I'm not sure what to make of this, but I did start looking around on the web for other reports, and it turns out there are some builders who were predicting these failures. I think the cause is the aluminum spokes and radial drive-side lacing. Unlike iron, or any alloys, like steel, which contain iron, anything made of aluminum will eventually fatigue to zero strength. IE: you never really own anything aluminum - you just rent it.

Fred and I  waited up for Perry and Kathy (I just found out it's not by chance they always show up for rides together. A very cute couple!) just before the Guy West Bridge to discuss how they had parked to get around the construction going on there. We said our good-byes, they went on, and Fred and I headed back for Watt Ave and home. I'd spent almost the whole ride in Zones 3-4 to that point, so I hammered a bit on California coming home, but generally it was a nice relaxing pace.

I got home feeling great, ate well and uploaded my Garmin data. I was surprised the little 25 miler had turned into 45 miles, but then remembered I had ridden to and from Guy West. I was really tired yesterday, and still a little weak today, and that is getting frustrating, but nothing time won't heal.

 Fred, enjoying his Mountain Bike Oregon ride

I have to say, I always enjoy riding with Fred, and for the first time I think I know why. Yes, we share an interest in wrenching, and neither of us likes large crowds much, but mostly I think we share the same philosophy. I like to win on occasion when I want to challenge myself, but that winning is about me doing well, not crushing or humiliating other riders.

My hope is always that when challenged or challenging, we both benefit. The only thing I hate about winning, is that everyone else has to lose (pickup racing offers everyone a chance to win, and save face if need be). In short, I like riding with Fred because I enjoy the riding. Not the win (or loss), or the group experience, or even the competition necessarily. I just enjoy the riding.

 Oregon Vistas

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun One

I took a short 20 mile ride down to CSUS/Guy West Bridge last night and was in a draft almost the whole time on the bike trail. That almost never happens as I am either too fast or too slow.

On the way to CSUS I got passed and bridged up to grab the wheel of a rider. We traded off a few miles later and I pulled him until he turned off and went over the bridge onto campus. Not a blistering pace, but the wind was in our faces, so 22-23 was solid.

Turning around and heading home after a 10 min break, a couple of guys blew past me just after I hit the bottom of the ramp. I was able to bridge up and had a great draft in the 23-25mph range. As the leader tired I bridged up to his tail-gunner (discovered later these guys were not together) and then sat up to give the trailer a better draft.

A half mile or so before Watt Ave the locomotive stood and sprinted. I went with him and looking at the Garmin trace, looks like we pushed it up to ~ 30mph before he unexpectedly peeled off. The trailer moved up and we stayed together until I peeled off.

That's fun riding!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Thrill of Victory

I headed out the door early yesterday, about 4:00pm, with the heat of the day near its peak, but as it was a cool day, it was quite comfortable, although I was sucking on my waterbottle within a mile, as it was also dry.

I had intended to ride my favorite 65 miler to Rescue the day before, so had changed out the 12-23 cassette out for the 12-27 I usually ride. It was nice to find old friends on the shifters again! 12-23 is great for TTs, as tired legs need an optimal cadence, but with the small climbing rings on the triple up front, it makes for gears that are tediously granular for hills. Too much shifting to find the right gears.

It always surprises me how different things look in the bright, overhead light of mid-day, vs near dawn or sunset - especially along the American River. I had a chance to appreciate the different view, and the dense shade in places where the wet winter and late spring have the trail very overgrown - especially with berry briers.

Trail repair is underway just past Hazel, with some retaining wall work being done. The detour route I quite like, and will continue using it even after construction is complete. It is more sheltered from the headwinds than Gold Country, and not nearly as congested as the bike trail from Sunrise to Hazel. As for the construction on the Hazel Ave Bridge, it is still underway, and the detours there were compounded by a malfunctioning crossing light.

After waiting for 3 light cycles, I risked it and headed across with the auto's green light. Since they all turn left, if they don't stop, you're going to get hit. After 3 cycles though, there were 12-15 riders waiting to cross, so the auto traffic graciously waited before continuing through the intersection.

I was being tail-gunned by a rider from the Aquatic Center until well-past Blue Ravine. Eventually I waved him around and returned the favor. He was trying to drop me, but there was no chance of that. Not strong enough. It did get my competitive juices flowing though.

I stopped for water across the bridge, winding my way down the sidewalk before stopping at the little outhouse. Whew! God that thing needs cleaning. I held my nose and refilled my waterbottle, making for some pretty weak Gatorade, but it was hot enough I needed the fluids.

I wasn't feeling all that strong pushing off, but was happy to have the stench behind me, so I hit the Garmin lap button more out of habit than anything. Once past the footbridge though I caught a tailwind and it kind of got me going. I hit the base of the first climb in good form and pushed myself. By the time I went under the Folsom Crossing Bridge I was winded, so backed off a bit on the straight stretch that runs parallel to the road there.

Not a PB, but winning a race is always thrilling!

About 100 yards before the turn that starts the 2nd climb, I got passed, and decided to try to stay with him. Good motivation to push myself, if nothing else. He was riding the same bike as I was, and I think this is the same rider I raced a couple of months ago coming home from Hagen Pk.

He tried to drop me for a half mile, and then settled in, I assumed to wait for the steep pitch at the top. A good move, as I outweighed him by 30 lbs, so he was picking his field of battle well. I focused on good body position, sliding forward on my seat and riding upright on the hoods, using my glutes as much as possible, and breathing deep to get my HR down.

Sure enough, 250 yrds from the top, where the steepest part of the climb starts, he stood and started to hammer. I stayed in the saddle, gripped the very front of the blocks, slid forward just a bit more, and dug deep. I'm not sure who was more surprised, him or me, but I went right past him!  >B 

I kept expecting him to put on a move and pass me, so I kept the hammer down. My pulse rate was skyrocketing, but we only had a hundred yards left at that point. My quads were screaming, but no way I wanted to lose now, so I kept digging deeper.

In the end I beat him by ~ 25 ft. Damned, that felt GREAT!

After a nice rest and conversation up at the Beals beach area, I headed back down for home. Just past Negro Bar (originally the campsite of gold miner's slaves during the California Gold Rush) a green Colnago blew past me and kept up a blistering pace until out of sight. He did seem to weaken a bit on a short 6% climb though, so I kept after it and made it a challenge to see if I could reel him in - eventually, maybe.

I caught him ~ 5mi later climbing up the new Hazel Bridge approach. Apparently my attention to aerodynamics and likely greater power was enough to close the gap. He would have killed me on any climb, but on the flats, headed into a 10-15mph headwind, I had the advantage. Moving my waterbottle down 3" has made a bigger improvement than lowering my aerobar position.

With some nice pick-up racing thrown in, I arrived home all smiles. Another fun day on the ARPT. I can tell I pushed myself to 103% of max HR today, but well worth it!