Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall, Cyclocross, and Think Pink?!

Fall has been here for some time and I've been busy taking advantage of my favorite season viewing the colors everywhere possible and enjoying the perfect riding temps. The Gunnar cross bike has been getting some serious back-road miles all over the region. I recently took to exporing the numerous mountain roads around Grangeville, which has some of the coolest vistas I've seen in some time.
From 20081007

For some very odd reason I also recently decided that cyclocross racing would be fun and since I own a bike that is designed for cyclocross I thought I should test it...note, I am not testing my ability, but the bike's ability to perform because I have no desire to put myself though such incredible sufferage without a lick of training. So last weekend I did my first ever cyclocross races (notice the plural) in Walla Walla. Is it fun? Well that depends on when you are asking me since in the 3rd or 4th lap of all-out-kickin-my-butt-effort I found myself praying for a flat tire so that I could stop the insane buring in my legs, but for some reason I never got a flat. Then just as I was getting warmed up (after 45-minutes) they announce last lap...I think to myself, "Oh crap! I just got warmed up" And I'm starting to push some of the lactic acid out and gain speed. I will not mention the cruelty they designed into the cyclocross racing courses, but I did enjoy the double water crossings and riding through old barns at high speed (to say the least it was all very over stimulating and a fun experience) and this was just the first day.

On the second day I did it again on a different course that was again a pain to my legs to say the much so that I opted to do the mountain bike class immediately following my primary race. I got back to the car swapped out the cross bike for a MTB, had time for a few swallows of water then off to the start. I felt better on my MTB (but then again I was already warmed up a bit). I was antagonizing a poor young soul all through the MTB race and in the end let him have it - I think he puked (or nearly so) off in the distance beyond the finish line. It was all fun if you can call this stuff fun. (sorry no pics)

Then I watched the Group A Mens (Elite) race and was awed at their speed and seemingly ease of effort compared to what I felt during my events. Well not all of them were so relaxed looking - a few were obvioulsy suffering baddly. The most interesting part about the Elite race was 2-single speed guys (brothers I believe) who were holding their own and in my opinion kicking some serious butt on the majority of the field...they instantly became my picks for giving the best effort and were promoted to a high level in my personal world of hiarchy. Hmmm...cyclocross on a SS...sounds like more fun than shifting gears.

Speaking of SS I just happened across one of those bike sale deals that I could not stop my "I thought I was past this" obscessive-compulsive-must-ride-and-buy-everything behaviour...end result is that I now own a second Gunnar (an awesome steel frame to say that least) and the up side is that it's a Single Speed and the color is the most awesome Pink! The down side is that the frame is gear compatable (boring) and my wife has somehow come up with the idea that it's now her bike...hmmm.
From 20081027

The frame was of course was instantly built upon arrival into another Super Bike with incredible insight from none other than me. It was originally a custom 69er - that's a bike with a 29" front wheel and a 26" rear wheel which some people feel is a better combo than either a full 29er or 26" wheeled bike alone. I tried it as a 69er, but have found more happiness putting a slightly smaller 650B front wheel on it instead (650B is a 27.5" wheel for all those wondering). The end result is still in the gentle thrash testing phase (after all I just got it today). For now though I'm thinking Pink is it!
From 20081027

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Chip-Seal Love

One should never discount the biting love that chip-seal can provide...on one hand it provides nearly endless traction for our tires to keep us upright and provide quick stops. On the other hand it wears our tires faster, provides greater resistance against our tires making us work harder to pedal (which could be good if you like sufferage), and it lovingly bites back when you impact it while doing an unplanned (or planned gone-awry) dismount from from your bike.

You may or may not know that smooth pavement is so much nicer to land on and skid many feet across since it tends only to scrape or rub the skin off over large surface areas of the body. Chip-seal just rips your hide off leaving deep lacerations everywhere which causes incredible amounts of bleeding and some interesting pain issues. I just so happened to take a recent low-speed chip-seal impact while doing a planned dismount from my cross bike where my cleat mildly stuck in the pedal causing an awkward skin on non-moving jagged rock (aka chip-seal) sudden-stop-to-forward-motion followed by copious amounts of blood and some pain.

Unfortunately I don't have the bloody gross pics right after it happened so you are spared the yuk (which I thought was rather interesting). I've since been patched up by Dr. Jane (a super awesome wound care doc) and healed up for the most part. My elbow obviously took the greatest impact and is still being protected every time I ride with an oversized guard.

The major damage consisted of 4-deepish lacerations and one 1.5 cm deep puncture into my bursa area (not good), but after a few weeks everything is looking quite good.