Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Weekly Update?

I guess I am on the weekly update schedule these days.

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in several years; I rode a geared bike. I rode three, in fact. It was Cannondale Demo Days, and demo I did. I rode a Rush 500, a XT-level Scalpel, and the semi-mythical Carbon Rush.

I last rode a geared bike in 2003. That bike was equipped with SRAM grip shift. The bikes I used yesterday had SRAM trigger shifters or Shimano duel-control. So not only was I trying to relearn how and when to shift, I had to master two different shifting systems.

My verdict: The Rush 500 is a tank. The suspention worked great, but it was heavy. I liked the Scalpel; it felt snappy and fairly light. The longer top tube was a good fit for my riding style. I was not blown away by the Carbon Rush. Don't get me wrong; it is a nice bike. The suspention was set up for someone 30 pounds heavier than me, which made the ride somewhat harsh. It was light, but light for a full suspention bike isn't *really* light. For $2500, it would be a very good bike. For $5500, I'll buy two Santa Cruz Superlights and go endurance racing.

My take-away from all this? Geared bikes are ok, but I prefer singlespeeds. The drivetrain added a ton of weight and made all kinds of noise. And it didn't seem to make me faster. The only upside was how easy the ride was on my knee (and the rest of my body). If the knee isn't 100% by spring, I'll have to revisit this topic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Long Time, No Post

Well, it has been an interesting week. Last Tuesday, two pros joined us for out team ride. It is not uncommon for Mark Hendershot to show up, but to have this guy ride along was rare. He used to ride with us all the time, but went off to ride the Big Time instead. Funny thing was, the ride was slower than usual. Go figure.

Saturday, while many friends and teammates were racing at Pando, I was up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the Upper Loop. This is a semi-formal ride hosted by a brother of a friend of mine. I did this ride in 2003, but since it is on the same day as Pando, I have skipped it for the last two years. Since I am not racing right now, I saw no reason not to make a return trip. It was well worth the drive-I had a great time. The Upper Loop is 100 miles, and the people that are invited to participate are a varied and interesting group. I won the sprint competition, but was relegated to second place in the hill climb. A good time was had by all, even thought most of the last 50 miles were in a steady downpour.

This week's team ride was a hoot! A ton of people showed up for what was billed as a "moderate" ride with a cook-out to follow. Instead, it turned into a hammer-fest with several fast riders pushed to near-upchuck levels of effort. No less than three (3) pro's showed up for the ride: Mark Hendershot, Danielle Musto, and Amy Stauffer. Rick of Kiss Cross fame was there, as was the overall winner of the Pando 12 hour (and the 3rd Place guy as well) the 3rd Place Expert Men 35-44 (sandbagger!) guy from the Pontiac Lake XC race. The ride was fun, and much food (and some beer) was consumed afterward. Someone took pictures, which I bet will show up here.

As indicated, I did 100 on Saturday. I also did 50ish on Sunday. I think we did something over 40 on the team ride. I plan to get a few more miles in this week off-road. Next weekend I will be in Chicago, so no riding. Need to keep getting faster for psychocross and Iceman.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Interesting couple of rides

Rode Friday with Becky at Egypt Valley. She did great, but I was tired. We ended up with just one lap.

Saturday I joined Dan Jansen for the final four of his ten laps out at Cannonsburg Ski Area. The secret to riding with Dan is to let him ride for three hours before you show up. I rode with him for about 2.5 hours; it had been a hot day and he was looking a little rough when I showed up. The new singletrack at this site is great--if you are in the area and have not done the new parts of the trail, you will be impressed. Anyway, it was nice to be able to keep pace with Dan. When I got home I told my wife I was 40% of the man Dan was, as he did 10 laps and I did 4. Good times, good times.

Today four of us did a longish ride. Mark Hendershot and Dan Jansen were in the group. It was supposed to be a 100, but my computer showed 91.5 at the end of the day. The pace was pretty good for the first 50, somewhere north of 24mph. After a quick lunch at the beachside taco stand, the headed back home. One of the riders was having some tailbone issues, so the pace was more relaxed on the way back. The highlight of this ride (outside of the beers at Founder's) was watching Dan pedal away from the group on a singlespeed, no-handed, hitting around 30 mph; did I mention that he was on a singlespeed and he was riding NO-HANDED!?! That just isn't right...

This week should see lots of miles; 91 today, 50 on Tuesday, 20-40 on Thursday and 100 on Saturday. Like I say, good times.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Quick Update

I had a great ride on Tuesday. A bunch of fast people showed up, and the hammer was thrown down. This was the first team ride all year where I worked so hard I started to cramp up. The weather was good, the pace was high, and a good time was had by all.

I failed to win any sprints. Dan Jansen showed up, and he smoked everybody on (I think) all the sprints. On his fixed-gear. I don't know what size chainring he had, but it looked like one of those industial-sized buzz-saw blades. It was huge, and he had the legs to back it up. That guy is scary-fast.

Had a friend in from out of town tonight, so no ride. I do plan to ride for the next three days, capping the set off with a hundred-plus on Sunday.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Those of you that ride with me know I don't like to climb. I can get up the hills OK, but I can't get up them fast. Slow and steady is fine for endurance racing; in fact, I end up walking most hills by the end of a 24-hour race. But for shorter races or throwing down with the locals, speed up the hills is important.

Last season, I didn't work on climbing at all. This season, I am working on it when I can. Yesterday I did Dan Jansen's Climbing Loop. It's a collection of just about all the hills in and around Cannonsburg Ski Area and Egypt Valley Stage Game Area. It takes about two hours to complete, and it is a decent workout. I rode my backup bike. Something is wrong with that machine, and I think I have figured out what that something is. The bottom bracket. It creaks like that is no tomorrow. By paying careful attention to the noise, and when and where it shows itself, I think I have eliminated every other source of this creak. Also, the chain stayed on without any problem during the ride.

Today I took the main bike out for some road climbing. Two climbs up Serenity Ridge and two climbs up Scenic Drive. Not quite as much work as Dan's loop, but it allows me to focus on power output as opposed to technique. No dropped chains, but the chain did loosen up a bit. I am going to install some washers between the axel end and the frame on the ENO hub. I have read that others with ti frames have had slipping issues, and washers can help.

Easy ride tomorrow, team ride on Tuesday, easy ride or run on Wednesday, back to the ski area for Dan's Loop on Thursday, weather permitting. Got to get the legs ready for psychocross season and Iceman.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Random Thoughts

I spent some time today talking to someone who is going to do a 12-hour race on a singlespeed later this month. This conversation got me thinking about racing and how much I miss it. Riding is fun, and I have been able to ride enough to keep my base of fitness. But endurance racing on singlespeed bikes is...Awesome. As in, I am in awe of the people that do it. I really miss it, and missing it makes me want to work 24/7 to find my new job so I can get back to racing.

Also on the topic of racing, people are starting to talk about TransIowa III. It looks like Mark and Jeff are planning a loop instead of a point-to-point race. Sounds good to me, as that should make the logistics easier for both racers and organizers. Every year I leave that race thinking I've seen all of Iowa that I need to see, and every year I find myself strangely compelled to return. I suspect I know where I will be in early April '07...

My geared bike inclination seems to have passed, for the most part. The chain is staying on the main bike, and I think I have the chain tension issues on the backup bike sorted out as well. I have been drawn to this website more often than I'd care to admit; I really don't need to replace the frames I have but it is hard to argue with Mr. Jansen.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Hey, it's hot out!

Did the team ride last night, if you can call three guys with matching jerseys a "team ride". Seems like 98F degrees and humid was too much for most of the regulars. We did about 50 miles. I suffered on the hills, and Nate took most of the green jersey points--neither Chip nor I really seems to have the legs or the lungs to duke it out with him.

Looks like the weather will break this weekend. There is talk of work on a secret trail, eating tasty fresh roasted corn and maybe even drinking a beer or two on Saturday. Oh, and a couple of hours riding on that secret trail as well.

Congratulations to Danielle, Mark, and Paddy (and Naomi!) at Nationals! I was very sad that I could not be there as well. I hear that Nationals will be back at 9 Mile next year, so I *will* get my chance to race there. Watch your back, Paddy...