Monday, November 21, 2011

Cyclocross - Single Speed Saga Continues

Yes, I must say that single speed bikes rule!!! As we recall, I converted my Blue Competition cyclocross bike into a single speed (that's a one geared bike to you) after having so much trouble with my rear derailleur. All I can say is that ditching those extra, bothersome gears really paid off. I am now convinced (once again) that single speed bikes suit me better than geared bikes. I may try a geared setup in the future, but for now I will stick with SS.

(Chasing the Mighty Matt Morra)

This cyclocross season I have had way too much fun racing in the INWCX Series. I did 2-races every race day (Single Speed and Masters 50+ categories) that I could attend. My plan was to gain some fitness by racing 2-races per day. It seemed to have worked well in the end.

Currently I feel better than ever since my back injury 2-yrs ago. I still have some minor tweeks in my lower back and most likely always will have issues. I do 20-40 minutes of Egoscue exercises 1-2 time daily to keep my back in proper shape and alignment, but it is totally worth it and has paid off for me.

The local CX season ended this last weekend (Nov 20th) with a super fun final pair of races for me on a snowy course in Coeur d' Alene, ID. I'm not anticipating traveling to Seattle or Portland for more CX racing, although I would like to. My underlying plan this year was to build for next year's racing essentially this was just the beginning of what I hope is to become a stellar year in 2012, when I coincidentally turn 50 (WhooHoo!!!).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When Evil Derailleurs Fail

At the start of this cyclocross season (by-the-way cyclocross or simply CX is the funnest bike sport on the planet), I had decided to do something that was so not a geared bike in one of two CX races I planned on doing each race day. Most people know that I have a preference one gear (aka a single speed or SS) for nearly every kind of biking (mountain, commuter, road, CX...etc). Well I was determined that gears would make me faster, which on certain courses I believe they did. Hmmm...yes, I said did. It seems that my geared CX bike (my only geared bike for that matter) has been morphed into a SS. Why? Well from the start that evil rear derailleur caused me problems...let's see, first it decided to spontaneously embrace a big weed, which sucked the whole works into the spokes of a newly built wheel (good thing I build strong wheels) and proceeded to rip the derailleur hanger off the bike (not good!). Next after a new hanger was installed and everything realigned, the derailleur took a little tap during a spectacular race crash. I finished the race just fine on the bike, and later found that I had bent the new hanger, grrr!!!. Well I realigned everything again (good thing I have the specialty tool for that purpose), and again the derailleur decided to give a loving hug to a piece of trail-side brush, which this time bent the derailleur it self and snapped the shift cable...RATS!!! It was at this point I realized that my evil rear derailleur was self destructive and need some counseling off the bike. I was fed up with the time and money it was taking just to do an event on a geared bike. So off the bike it went...RIP! I put a Forward Components eccentric bottom bracket on to complete the SS morph.

Initial thrash testing showed it was not only an huge improvement in fun factor, since SS always provides much more giggle factor than (yawn) gears, but my race results against the geared guys was awesome!!! At this time I anticipate finishing the CX season on SS only.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cyclocross - Try It!!!

OK...It's been way too long since I've posted here, but I have the normal excuses. Like I've been busy with moving to a new home plus the normal busy maintenance items that go with a new home, plus getting in firewood for winter heat, plus getting in hay for the get the picture I hope. I will be posting some of my new home pics in the future (when I get time to download them that is). For now all I can say is that I live in an awesome spot with great views, coyotes howling at night, and clear starry nights.

Well bike training (riding) has been limited to my commute mostly, which by the way is now about 15-miles one-way with nearly 2000-feet of climbing to get home...WHOOOHOOO!!! I love the commute so far.

Beyond that cyclocross (CX) season has started and I'm racing into better shape by doing 2-4 CX races every weekend. I'm having to use these races as training since I have not had time for real training for the last several months.

If you have not participated in or attended a cyclocross race, then you are really missing out on some serious fun. I love these go-all-out-painful-mind-twisted-suffer-fests. I'm never sure why I like the pain these events can do to your muscles, but I sure feel good afterwards. That's it for now...need to sleep sometime, here are a few pics for your view pleasure:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Went to Hell...Didn't Go Back

While puking up every bit of hydration and then some for the 3rd time, my mind was saying, "Note to self - NEVER, ever do this ride again." At that point I was ready to be done with riding a bike, ready to be home, ready to cash in all my bikes for a motorcycle. The ride was Doug's To Hell and Back 180, but I had previously decided that I was not going back to Hell once I left. Instead I planned on leaving from my house (about 30-miles from the planned starting point) the day previous, camp overnight somewhere along the planned route, then finishing back home the next day. I anticipated a 200-mile loop with around 14k of climbing.

Considering I was going to Hell I brought some protection from the evilness out there.

All started well with a late afternoon noon departure. There was plenty of cool air climbing 4000-ft up Joseph Canyon, plus some refreshing trail snacks and eye candy along the way...

It was incredibly beautiful up there in the late evening when I got up on top with a setting sun. My camera can not show the beauty I saw at the time.

I rode until the half-moon set, which was about midnight. The total distance at that time was 74-miles. Plus it was getting cold and I was ready to fall asleep while riding.

I was back up at 0450 the next morning and everything was frozen, including my camera...I was certainly glad that I had brought a few extra layers. The frosty layer can be seen on my bag here...

After coffee and hot oatmeal I started off again at 0545 after filtering some fresh water out of the creek I bedded down near. The morning was so nice up there, again more beautiful than anyone could imagine.

Then it was back to the desert on the way down to Troy, Oregon.

I was well hydrated and still feeling well at this point. However, the climb out of Troy was aweful, hot, and full sun exposure. For me it was the beginning of the end. About halfway up the 5000-ft climb I was feeling the illness come on, one that I'd experienced several times before. I tried everything to stop it, but really I needed to just stop riding which my stubborn ego would not let me do. So I suffered up to the point of pure agony. I finally quit after 183-miles, and 14,000 feet of climbing. I humbled myself and called for a ride home (20-miles away). It took a few hours for my stomach to come back on line - then miraculasly I was fine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strong Weakness

I'm kind of at a loss for words lately. I've been recovering from a pinched nerve in my upper back and essentially took 2-months off the bike (I did some riding, but it was very little). So riding has been much less than I'd like it to be, but the weather has been cooperating well with lots of rain to make me feel like I'm not missing much anyway. However, because of this nerve situation, I can say that my normal fitness for this time of year is in the toilet. I've cancelled several endurance events on my calendar simply because I just am not or can not be ready for such long rides yet. Shorter ride are in for me at this time, which makes me happy since I can still ride.

Nothing else has changed...I still have an uncontrolled obsession with buying and riding any bike that sparks my interest. Looking at this titanium Strong Frame the first time made my spine tingle and as much as I tried to resist buying it, my internal weakness for such beauty was stronger (a true internal paradox). For some reason I "needed" this bike and eventually I lost all control...I'm not sure how it happened but the frame ended up on my doorstep. Hmmm...???

So far the "test" rides on the new Strong Frame have kept my spine tingling and makes me smile plenty. I have many heavenly plans for this bike in the future, but those plans are stuck in the abyss (my head) for now.

I have not seen any more falling cows lately (and I've been keepin and eye directed upward where ever I ride), but I've run across plenty of these deadly little dudes - young rattle snakes!!! They don't rattle or warn you in any way, in-fact they often advance towards your warm body (unlike an adult rattler). This one is all of 6-inches and he wanted to visit...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winter Reflections

On my "Loop" rides I'm still running into snow, which makes them an out-n-back ride. I'm not altogether happy about lingering snow, but that's the way it is. I'm just happy that every trip up the mountain shows me a progressively receding snowline.

In the run-off I can still see the dead-of-winter reflecting back at me...

But just a few feet away I can see the smiling wonders of a late spring ringing in some happiness...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hmmm...What's this?


Hmmm...???? Something devious is going on in my laboratory.

Stop drooling and wipe up your slobber.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Near Death by Falling Cow

I've had some close calls on my bike, broken several helmets, done some damage to body parts, bears, wolves, etc., but never have I come so close to death (a very weird death it would have been) on my bike as yesterday when a cow fell out of the sky a few feet behind me. To put this adventure into perspective I should maybe start at the beginning.

My day started with big plans to get out early and ride a 60-mile loop (George Creek to Weissenfels)on my mountain bike, but everything was in slow motion getting my on the bike - the kid needed help getting ready for a horse event that morning, so my planned 7AM ride time actually started after 9AM. It was a beautiful day though so I was happy, yet I kept feeling that I should ride a different route than planned today. I kept shrugging off this idea and passed by several alternate routes along the way.

At the bottom of George Cr Grade I passed by the ranch house saying "Hi" to the 2-dogs that live there (like I always do) and started up the steep climb. I typically ride up the side of the road closest to the drop-off edge along this grade since the uphill side of the road often produces numerous, sporadic rock falls onto the road. I've had a few small rocks drop onto my helmet and always fear a big rock coming down and doing some real damage. However, on this day I was not really paying attention was riding up the side of road with the cliff directly above. After riding maybe 100 yards I heard a rock-like noise from above and instinctually moved to the other side of the the same time I was glancing back and up to see what was coming at me.

What I say was beyond belief...1st there was rock about 8-10 feet in diameter coming down in a hurry followed closely by a monstrously huge brown cow...Boom, BOOOM!!! Rock hit close to the edge of the road and the cow hit the road exactly were I had just been a second ago. If I had not moved in that last second I would have been under that cow! Holy Cow!!!

Needless to say my heart was totally thumping right out of my chest plus I think I screamed for a microsecond at the time of impact...I was a tad stunned and had some difficulty believing what had just anyone would. Just a few feet away there was a huge dead cow (dead upon impact)...I'm sure my mouth was gaping open in disbelieve until I started to collect my thought again. Finally I had an answer to that question - I've seen a lot of cattle up on the steep, cliffy hillsides around here and I have often wondered if they every fell off those cliffs or rolled down the steep hillsides...I now had indisputable evidence and I will never have to randomly ask myself that kind of question again, because I now know the answer!

After I collected myself a bit more, I made sure I did not pee myself or anything, after which I decided that at least part of the cow would be salvageable if it got to a butcher soon enough. So I went down and proceeded to find someone at the ranch...I finally did contact with the owners who promptly took care of the cow after I convinced them that it just happened and it was a fresh kill vs. an old dead cow I found lying on the road.

I finished my ride which gave me plenty of time to contemplate the whole ordeal. I wondered long and hard about how strong I had felt about not going up that route earlier in the day - it was like there was an unseen force trying to direct me away from my personal plan....hmmm. Then there was the millisecond move I did that truly saved me from being part of the carnage - again it was like I was being directed out of harms way. Looking back I feel I was ignoring some sort of divine intervention of what was to come and even though I continued on I was still shielded from the evil force at work that day. The thought that some demon had tried to do me in with a cow is funny...but then again not at all.

I'm still a little awed about the whole thing and humorously can imagine my obituary saying I was killed by a falling cow. The internet news would have some fun with that one. I did take my wife and kid up there since they were interested in the site...not much left except some blood and hair from the cow, the big rock had been removed also.

This would be appropriate signage for George Cr Grade:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


My endless bike mix-n-match curiosity is always ready for more new trials...I'm what some would consider an early opter when it comes to changing things up. Today's experiment was putting a not-so-retro Niner carbon fork on the all-so-retro looking USS Sawyer.

The before...

The Sawyer, is not geometrically perfect "in my mind" and the handling I "imagined" it could be improved (to my preference only) with a different fork that was not so "raked" out. The bike front end seemed floppy to me at times, which was more of an annoyance at certain slower speeds than anything. Otherwise the Sawyer is a great ride. So I thought a fork with less rake would reduce the chopper effect.

Out of pure coincidence I happened to have a Niner carbon fork "lying" around that I had on my SuperFly SS recently. I liked the Niner fork on the SuperFly as long as I was on smoother trails or gravel grinder rides, but I thought it was totally no fun on anything slightly rough where the SuperFly became a bouncy bone-jarring ride. The Niner fork rake is less than the Fisher design of 51mm which I imagined would relieve the geometrical floppy issue I was feeling on the Sawyer.

The after...

The result after my ride today is that the Sawyer floppy feeling is totally gone - whoohoo!!! The handling is perfect. The less than retro look that the Niner fork gave the Sawyer has not really bothered me any...I see nothing wrong with mixing modern and's like upgrading a old battleship with a new rocket-fast weapons system.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mini9er

The boy (aka the Kevinator) recently received a new Gary Fisher Mamba. The womens specific design (WSD) version of this bike comes in a 14.5" model (aka the Mini9er)which fits the boy perfectly (he's about 4'10" tall). The only problem was that he bike comes in pinkish color that was not appetizing to the mini-male ego (I think pink is ulta cool). So it got a paint job.

The mom also got a Mamba for her birthday, so now the whole family is on 29ers, which makes my life easier as far as tires and parts go. So far everyone is thrilled with their super cool new bikes.

The Mini9er was tested up George Creek Grade recently...a hill so steep that I've heard many grown men whimper about it to no end. The Kevinator rode the Mini9er right up it in a determined manner. Afterwhich we turned around and rode home (up Critchfield Grade) for a nice little 24-mile ride - one tough little guy.

During this adventure I noticed that Spring is finally showing signs of permanency...hmmm.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow, Ice Pellets, Sun....Repeat

Snow, ice pellets, sun....repeat. That was about it for today's riding. I totally love riding on days like this. The initial plan was to attempt a ride to Anatone on the pave then circle back on the dirt roads on my cyclocross bike.

However about half way to Anatone the snow was coming down so heavy that I could hardly see the road. Hmmmm...So I stopped, laughed a little, waited (and waited and waited), watched a few cars crawl by (I'm sure they thought I was insane - that is if they even saw me standing there), then after a bit I decided that maybe this was the big one. Since the cyclocross bike I chose to ride today had rather worn tires (more like no tread) I thought it could be a good idea to start back. I got only about 3/4-mile when BAM, Sunshine!!!

Whoohoo!!! On the way back I ran into a few skin stinging ice pellet squalls and more snow and sun before landing safely at home where I sat outside gathering some solar-flare goodness for a good 30-minutes before the next snow squall landed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Resistance

Single-Speed + Uphill + sustained 21-mph headwind = Resistance Training (squared) + a large dose of mental toughness training.

07 Feb 12:56 pm W 17G26
07 Feb 11:56 am W 21G31
07 Feb 10:56 am W 21G26

That's what I was doing yesterday for some unknown, insane reason. I love rides like that. Who needs weight training in gym or an indoor trainer when you can workout in the winds? In my past I would typically avoid riding on windy days or try as much as possible to use the wind to make myself a "superhero" on the bike (with a tailwind you can really do some great cheating time trials). I love the wind now though and I openly embrace riding uphill and directly into it with a smile on. Yes, I am unusual, but wind training is the greatest training both physically and mentally. I nearly turned it around a few times yesterday due to the burn and very difficult forward progress, but I stayed the course and finished my interval session. The price is high since today my legs are a tad sore, but the payback is great in both mental satisfaction and physical improvement. I can't wait to ride again today to spin off the leg soreness.

I've also been busy goofing around as much as possible, which means I've been doing plenty of riding on my days off. Riding everywhere, in all conditions, and smiling a lot whether I'm soaking wet and cold in the pouring rain, muddy head-to-toe, or getting an early tan. I'm not in the physical shape that I have been in the past at this time of year, but I feel good and love life which is all I need.

On the bike front, I'm currently "testing" a new Niner carbon, rigid fork on my SuperFly SS...this bike now truly feels lighter than air (it's stupidly light).

Hmmm.....I love rigid for the majority of my riding, but I love a suspension fork on rough courses and some of the endurance events I do. So I am just testing the fork at this time. It may stay permanently or it my get traded out for suspension for those special events.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Got Gravel?

Gravel grinders are a way of life for me...especially since I have no love for riding pavement (yes we all know I find pave utterly boring).

There are plenty of local gravel roads around here to keep my appetite for dirt quenched. However, this year it has been a tad more difficult to ride the dirt/gravel with inconsistent cycles of snow-melt-slush-muck-rain-mud we've been in for the last 2-months. Not that any of that stops me, but some of my favorite roads are 100% unrideable when muddy. So I have been "suffering" through by riding less favorite stuff.

Spring in nearly here - I can tell because there are new calves popping up everywhere (a sure sign that Spring is close). Well maybe I'm least the cold temperatures over the last few days tell me that new baby animals are not a sure sign.

On another note, I've been thinking that I should move to an area that has more of a winter season so that I can re-expand my love of winter sports...something I've all but lost since moving to this warm winter valley 11-years ago. At this time I truthfully can not come up with a good reason why I still live here...hmmm?