Tuesday, May 31, 2005

another pasta review


This is my favorite pasta right now. It is a blend of whole wheat. It is not a 100% whole wheat pasta. I don't care of 100% whole wheat pastas, just don't like the taste. And of course the typical refined pastas are just not that great for you nutrionally. So this one here is a good compromise.

Quite enjoy the taste, much more flavorful than that protein enriched pasta reviewed earlier.

Even the kids like this stuff.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

What a difference a gram makes

Just replaced my big ring. Sugino Supershifter ring. The epitome of budget weight weenie parts.

Here is a comparison of the old ring to the new ring. The weight difference between the two rings is 1 gram.


I should never have let the big ring get this bad, but as is typical I rode it until it started to skip. Replacing things before they get this worn out is a better way of avoiding serious issues, such as crashes caused from putting all your weight into a the big ring and having it slip on you.

Does it get any better than this?

Friday, May 27, 2005

My Favorite road ride

Spruce Run

Dropped little one off at daycare then did the Spruce Run road ride. I love this ride. Not sure why I haven't done it in a while. Took 3 mins off my best time. Feeling it now everytime I walk up the steps.

I do the route a little different. I take Prices Fork to Keister's Branch road and then drop down to Mt. Zion. Glade road is really pretty but I hate the blind hills/corners and crazy drivers, so I just hoss it down Prices Fork.

And on the way home cut off 460 to Bishop road (very pretty) to Tabor road and then to that road that connects Main street with Tom's Creek.

This is the hardest 2hr road ride around. Just seems to be lots of gradual up, gradual down though there are two big climbs. So there is no place to coast, you're on it all the time. Some of the most scenic SW VA riding, and some not so scenic Highway 460.

It's got two sections of gravel pave' so make sure your tires are pumped up and aren't so racer light that the sidewalls will get cut at the sight of small sharp rocks. It's always fun to get that verys light drifting feeling on skinny tires. I'm too scared to really slide but it feels like it.

Fun ride. Always hurts in a good way.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cyclocross Frameset for sale-SOLD

SOLD 6-06-05

For Sale:
Cyclocross frame / fork.
-Single speed / geared
(also for sale at later date XTR/Velocity 700c wheelset)



It was made by Alan Wanta a custom frame builder out of California in 2003.
Alan used to build for the original Schwinn Waterford plant making Paramounts starting in 1979 and is an accomplished builder. We worked together together designing the frame and it has some neat features.

Warranty Info
I asked Allan about his warranty policy for non-original owners. He
About the warranty, I'll accept any reasonable problems with the construction just as I would with the original owner, so no problems.


No desire to sell the frame to someone that it doesn't fit. If you just cannot get the bike to fit after trying several stems / seatposts / bars, etc. I'll refund your money less any shipping costs as long as it is in the same general condition.

-I have longer legs and a shorter torso, so this frame has a shorter than normal top tube length

-The top tube has a 3degree slope on it. So not as drastic as a compact frame but it is not horizantal

-The effective (horizontal) top tube is 51cm
-Actual top tube length is 50cm
-The actual C-C seat tube s 48.5cm
-atual C-T seat tube is 52cm.
-If the top tube was horizontal the seat tube would be approximately 51.5-52 C-C. So that is the # I'd use for comparing this frame to other frame sizes

-With 700Cx35 tires on there the measurement from ground to center of BB axle is 298mm. I had asked for a road bike bottom bracket height for better handling and stabiltiy.

-Front center (from BB to front axle) is 57cm

I put the wheels back on and measured STANDOVER. (Note that there were NO tires/tubes mounted on the wheels when I measured. I measured from the ground to the center of the top tube
approx. 29.5"


-Chain stay 16.5"

-Rear dropout spacing is 130mm, but I ran XTR hubs with 135mm spacing and the dropouts easily open up to accomadate the larger axle.

-27.2 seat post

-68mm BB shell

-72 degree head
-73.5 degree seat tube

-extended head tube so that you don't need to have a ton of spacers for getting a higher bar

Tubing / Construction

This frame is built from Columbus FOCO tubing. FOCO is one step down from the Ultra FOCO which at the time was their flagship ultra light tubeset. So it is not for you clydesdales. It is extremely light. the weight of the frame with no fork or headset cups or other hardware is
1646 grams (3.63 lbs)

All tubes are FOCO.

The fork is a Tange Cyclocross fork with what looks like stainless ends.


The bottom bracket is lugged and the rest of the frame is Fillet brazed.


-Most notable was the specification for a horizontal track end that also has a deraileur tab. The venerable singlespeed kings of cool,
Surly sell this type of track end to framebuilders.


This is the same track end used on the Karate Monkey. It makes for an incredibly versatile frame. It is so easy to go back and forth between single speed / fixed and geared. The Surly track end is also perfectly mated to the Surly Tuggnut (NOT included already sold it) which adds so much cool you might not be ready for it.


Alan used some really cool braze ons, for the cable guides, brake hanger, and the water bottle bosses. The cable guides are not slotted.

He also used some cable guides around the BB to keep the cables from going on the underside of the BB keeping them out of the muck/mud


The cable guide on the chain stay is a step down style which is a throw back to the classic bikes of days gone by.


I will include a step down ferrule and also a seat binder bolt.

There are eyelets on the rear and on the fork for mounting racks/ fenders.

The frame is in great condition. It has the requisite scuffs from being a ridden frame, but it is not beat up. I used it for commuting which included some gravel roads, and did some single track a few times. I wish I'd commuted more but honestly this bike only was ridden once week if that, and sat for weeks on end some months. It has never been raced or crashed. The rear wheel had slipped a few times when in single speed mode and the paint has been scraped off the inside of the right chain stay.

On the top tube there is one paint ding where the handlebar smacked the top tube when I was changing bar wrap . doh!


There are some other small paint scrapes but nothing notable.

I am asking $400 + $20 shipping. It will be shipped in a nice frame box, wrapped in bubble tap and other packaging, and will include drop out savers in the rear dropouts and fork.

Check out the wheels when I get them posted.

This is a really sweet Steel is real lightweight designed for cyclocross steed. It rides with that sweet feel of a high end steel bike. The FOCO tubing is a little more rigid than 531 or other more compliant steel, but it is also more responsive. Like any cross bike, it feels a bit slow on the road with the slacker geometry, but it is plenty fast for road riding as well. It truly shines in it's element which is on fire roads and the dirt. Amazing how stable it feels compared to a roadie on the gravel / dirt roads.

This is what it looked like built up

The reason for selling it is that I'm getting another mountain bike and just don't have room for another bike. Sadly, I am just not riding this bike like it should and hope someone else can ride it for it's intended purpose. Cross.

I hope I've included enough information and pictures. Don't hesitate to ask any questions or more pictures. Just email

Thanks for looking.

If it's Wednesday, it must be intervals

Got on the trainer yesterday morning and warmed up and started to do these alternating 1min intervals real hard / sustainable / real hard/ sustainable power, and was feeling like garbage.

Then realized that I was supposed to be doing recovery zone 2, not intervals. Ahh. Not with it lately wrt training. Just not into it. Today did the alternating intervals on a hill climb. That was pretty fun, but didn't prepare right foodwise, and went into it with low energy. Like I said, not into it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I'm not a puzzle person. Hate crossword puzzles, jumbles, math puzzles. Even my kids beat me at hangman. Didn't care for Wheel of Fortune, except to see what Vanna's new outfit would be. Mazes. I like mazes I guess.

There as a feature in yesterday's paper about a new puzzle that is taking Great Britain by storm and is starting to get popular here. Soduku

I figured I'd give it a shot over breakfast and finally finished it tonight. Surprisingly I had a ton of fun with it. I checked out a website on it:
Soduku.com and it mentioned something that struck a chord as to why I liked it so much. It said that it is a puzzle that tests Applied Logic. Induction, Deduction. That is exactly how my mind works. It is also how working on bikes works. Why are my gears skipping? What is that click/creak?

I emailed the paper asking them to run it as a regular feature. They said they had no plans to. Figures. It is a lame paper anyway. What can you expect where the sports page headlines Nascar and Highschool baseball. The only time cycling gets in there is when Lance does something. They are wasting space on the crossword puzzles in my opinion, but that NASCAR can stay..Yee haw!

Monday, May 23, 2005

trying to cramp

Bike racing is hard. It really hurts. To train for bike racing you have to hurt in training as much as you hurt in a race. This is difficult to do outside of a race situation. Some people can just motivate themselves in any situation to go balls out. Racing is the easiest situation to motivate to go hard. If you do a lot of races you can use many of them as training races, sacrificing your result for the opportunity to work yourself into the ground. Hard group rides are another. But for me I only do a handful of races a year, and it's hard to get my schedule to fit with any group rides, so riding alone is where most of my training is done.

How do I know I am training as hard as I am racing. Power? Heartrate? Perceived Exertion? Average Speed? Those are all passe', old technology. For me the new metric is cramping. Lock up muscle leg cramps. I always seem to cramp in race. In training rarely. Sure I ride hard in training, but obviously it is not hard enough. (Note I also rest hard too). It is not just the length of the races that is getting me, it is the high volume of high intensity that burns me up. Doing some 3hr endurance rides is NOT what I need, 3 hrs of a race is what I need. So I've got a new goal. Once a week I do a race sim ride. And my goal is to cramp now.

If you have never experienced these kinds of cramps well then good for you. But you will never truly understand where I'm coming from. It is akin to getting hit in the face, run over by a bus. These are not things that people actively go seek. Well sane normal people. It's not every day that you wait on the edge of the side walk for a bus to come down the street and them time it just right to step in front of it. The mind has built in defense mechanisms. On training rides, I'll just back off so I don't cramp. In a race, those defense mechanisms get held back a little and I seem to push hard enough to cramp.

Today I tried to find that bus. It was hard to be uber motivated. Lots going on. Did a short hard hill climb in the road bike yesterday so legs were starting to fatigue. If you can't motivate to go hard, than chose the course to motivate for you. I climbed sidewinder in the middle, went down beast, turned around, climbed back up beast in the middle (where I could climb walked the tech sections), went down old farm, climbed back old farm, and my time up OF was almost on par with what I've done when totally fresh. Went back down sidewinder, went to the Gap side on the new gap trail, pushing middle ring on everything, then went to old gap and back on the basin, up Royale (middle/big), down Royale, then across horse hair to horse's annex, taking the steep route to the horse trail.

Did I cramp? No. I was close though, I could feel the tightness, the burning in the inside of my thighs. Oh so close. But no total lockup. I was on the sidewalk, one foot in the air ready to take a step off in front of the bus, but just didn't have the nerve to do it . There were other indicators that it was a hard ride. I started to ride like a moron. Looking at obstacles instead of where I wanted to go, losing the timing for lofting the front wheel, sitting down over rocks when I should have been floating. And I was thinking of food.

So not a total failure of a ride. I wanted to cramp so I could use this ride as a baseline for comparing some cramp mitagation. Like the Endurolytes and glycerol hyperhydration.

Well there is always next week.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Crossing to the darkside

I have succumbed to the darkside. I am ordering a Salsa Caballero Full suspension frame.

The good news for my wife is that I'm selling my cross bike so we won't have to move the kids out of their bedrooms to make room for another bike and the cost of the new frame is covered by the sale of the crosser. All the parts from my current hardtail will cross over, and I've got spare parts to turn the hardtail into a rigid 1x8. So my bicycle stable will remain at 3: Roadbike, race bike, commuter-bike pather and I'm not spending the college money.

It isn't a hard choice to sell the cross bike. I've been trying for a while but I just can't get the mojo right for this bike. Just doesn't feel right. On the road I want my road bike. Off road I want my mtb. The only place where the crosser shines to me is on fire roads. Smooth fire roads. My mtb and my road bike click. They feel right. Mojo. Good. Just can't say the same thing about this one. It's a sweet bike and a cross bike is the ultimate compromise between road/mountain. But sometimes things just don't click. And the reality is that I'm probably not going to be racing cross anytime soon. And I'd rather someone uses this cross bike for it's intended design. The cross purists will certainly scoff at my assesment of the bike. But the drop bar thing off road just doesn't work with me and I don't have the time or desire to learn to work with it.

Cycling as a bike geek is dynamic. When I got my first custom mountain bike the manager at the bike shop was saying something about this not being the only bike I'd get in my lifetime. And I was saying, Oh yeah it is. After this why would I need another bike? But he knew better. Since then bikes have been sold, new bikes have been bought. Each time with the feeling that this is the last. Yeah right. One cannot explain it to someone who isn't into it. It's like saying why do you need to redecorate, or why do you need new golf clubs. Practicality and true need are not really factors as much as we try to justify them as factors.

A little history. I've owned 8 bikes in my adult life
-steel hardtail (Spec. hardrock)
-steel hardtail (KHS Montana XT)
-steel hardtail (KHS replacement)
-steel hardtail (Custom Brew hardtail)
-aluminum Cannondale road bike that was killer lite but beat me up more than a mountain bike. SOLD
-steel lugged road (Custom Richard Moon)
Old pic

-steel lugged/fillet brazed Crosser
-steel hardtail (Custom Brew)

Friends got full suspension and I poopooed it. I was pure. Steel is real, hardtail is real. I love the custom steel builders. I want to be a frame builder. The thought of an aluminum frame, and a full suspension frame should be poison to my blood. I didn't even want to ride someone elses FS frame. Because I didn't want to be in a position to even think about wanting one.

But alas, I've been thinking about the darkside for a little while. There are NO buff trails out here. More than one hour on Brush mtn is rough. When I am on it. My bike feels great. I feel great. But every rock, root, bump starts to take it's toll. Fatigue sets in, then every rock, root, bump takes an even greater toll. Getting off the saddle just that few cm to take the edge off hits gets harder, lifting up the rear wheel to clear things gets harder. And it isn't the downhills so much that get me. Well they do, but it's really the climbs. With a hardtail, and good skills you can unweight and lunge to get the rear wheel to clear a root, ledge, but when you get tired it gets harder and harder to do this. You hit the obstacles more and more.

Obviously it is the skill of the rider and not the bike. And doctor dollaring (ie throwing money at a problem to solve it) is rarely an end all solution. But..But...my riding style is in the saddle pedaling. Rarely is it out of the saddle honking. I love to sit and spin/pound. My recovery from hard off road rides takes longer and longer. And the riding around here and the races that I do: Dragon's Back, Carvin's Cove, Douthat, Massanutten, etc...these are not buffed trails. They are technical, rough, rooty, rocky riding. And yes a hardtail can rail out there, and I have railed out there in the past. But..again with the but, I'm just getting beat up. All the signs have been pointing towards a short travel XC rig.

The full suspension technology has improved vastly over the last few years. And I wanted to try it out as much as it goes against my past soapboxing for the steel hardtail. I will definitely eat some crow with my friends.

But I wasn't about to go for a cheap FS rig. That would be a mistake. And I wasn't going to drop coin on a Racer X, Titus, Turner, Trek, Ventana or the other well respected names in XC racers. And finding the right geometry was going to be tricky. I've got long legs/short torso. Used on ebay was probably the only choice. But a used mtn bike could be potentail for problems.

I'm not prone to rash descisions. If I need a pencil I'll research it on the net first. You should have seen the research done for our last vacuum cleaner purchase. This was not a descision made lightly. There were several signs that made this good karma.

1) Salsa
-My wife has a Salsa road bike. The cutest thing around. I like Salsa as a brand. They have been around a long time, and though they looked to be in trouble several years ago, they now are looking strong being part of the Quality bike group, and their new scandium frames I believe are being manufactured by a reputable builder.

2) the geometry of the frame is virtually identical to my current hardtail. That is saying a lot because I require a short top tube in relation to the seat tube, and one of the only complaints for this frame was the short top tube which for me is a huge advantage not a negative.

3)Seat post size, stem length, front der, pretty much everything etc. will cross over. Rarely does that happen with a new bike purchase

4)The price was within what I'll get for my cross bike. And the Salsa frame at retail was already half the price of the other boutique full susp frames. This closeout price was just unreal for a full scandium FS frame with glowing reviews. Really this is what the kicker was. One of the main reasons to NOT go full suspension until now was the cost. I was not about to spend the farm on a new FS bike with what the good ones go for. But the sad fact is that I am a sucker for a good deal.

There is a story about a knick knack shop that had two wooden deers outside the entrance. One had a sign on it for $75 the other had a sign on it for $100. A woman walked by and was curious why one was $25 cheaper than the other. She looked at the $75 dollar one, then looked at the $100 dollar one. Virtually identical, she could not tell any difference between them. The $75 one had no blemishes on it and looked as good if not slightly better. She decides that there must have been a pricing mistake and cannot pass up on this deal to get a deer that is $25 cheaper but just as good as one that is full price. So she buys it and leaves with that satisfied feeling of a customer that one upped the man. After she leaves, the shop keeper comes out with another deer, puts the $75 dollar tag on the deer that was originally $100 and puts the $100 tag on the new deer. "Works every time" he says.

5) Everything I read about this bike was good. Obviously no bike is going to be designed for every situation, but for XC riding/racing this frame was highly praised. And think it will suit my riding style and type of riding out here. It has an aggressive geometry compared to some FS XC frames so it is suited for the single track.

6) It is new so comes with full warranty

Besides, it's my birthday next month. I was going to wait till I was 40 to do this. But now I'll get a convertible dorky Miata when that happens (Just kidding, I hate miatas). Besides, this will be the last bike I'll ever need... Yup, and we are not going to be painting our family room again in a few years.!!

Crank Brothers Eggbeater vs Candy

The very last Shimano part on my bike has been replaced. Now I'm not a total fanatic anti Shimano person, but I've always liked the smaller companies and been a Sram fan even though they are not so small anymore. There were two parts on the bike that stayed Shimano because there were no viable alternatives for me. The front der, but with the new Sram Xgen that has been replaced. And the pedals.

Been on SPD since they first came out. Finally got tired of the bearings dieing, having limited rebuild capabilities and the ever present poor engagement in mud. You know that falling over why is my pedal not unclipping feeling.

Been interested in the Crank brothers product for a while but the SPDs were working ok until recently. Decided to try out the Candy pedal first with the platform because I was worried about going to such a small platform of the regular egg after being on SPD for so long.

(borrowed from blue collar mtb)

As you can see the standard egg beater clip has been enclosed by a resin platform. The problem I found with them was two fold
1) the platform caused interference with my shoe sole. I cut away a ton of the sole and used the enclosed shims and still got interference
2) the egg beater clip had to be at a 90 degree rotation with the outer platform in order to clip in. It involved a two step process to first get the clip part rotated and then clip in.
Many times I just could not get clipped in which sucked on rough sections.

When it did clip in I loved the smooth engagement and disengagement. But in the end just could not handle the slow process of getting into them.

In comparison, the regular egg beater is like butter.

There was still some interference issues with the sole of my shoe (Nike) but some judicious cutting with a knife fixed it all up

Yes the platform is small, but once engaged there is no problem esp with a shoe with a stiff sole like these Nikes. Engagement is telepathic once you get your foot in the right spot. Overshooting it is easy to do and you can slip off the front. But it is going to take some time for me to get the muscle memory set up to get my feet in the right spot.

The regular eggbeater also has flat sides for using a regular 15mm pedal wrench in addition to the hex head on the back. The Candy only has the hex head. I much prefer a pedal wrench for the ability to use the crank arm to help with leverage when removing. A hex torque wrench can be used on the back to ensure correct installation torque.

Haven't had much ride time on the eggbeaters yet, so the review may change after some time around the single track and the rocks. But I think I'll be happy. I was happy with the Candy's once I got clipped in, it was just getting in that was the hard part. Granted the issues are most likely related to the Nike sole, but there is still the issue of where the springs need to be in relation to the platform in order to clip in.

* Revised
having some problems clipping in, am trying the shim out to see if it helps.

*Revised 6-08
Sorry Crank Brothers, they are listed on ebay and I'm going back to Shimano. Reasons: Mainly the clipping in. It just requires more force to clip in than the SPDs. I weight 135lbs and just my body weight alone is not clipping me in most times. I've got to twist and force it to clip. Which I gotta do with SPDs when it is muddy sometimes, but it just is not a fast enough clip in. I've been trying for several weeks to get them to feel better, trimmed the hell out of my shoes, but I just cannot clip into them quickly, which leaves much much to be desired when trying to start on a steep climb or restart in a technical section.

The release was nice. Most times, sometimes my left clip would require noticeably more force to unclip. It seemed random, but for the most part the release was smooth and nice.

So for some people and can see them being great pedals, but for me they just did not inspire confidence and did not clip in fast enough.

Campy shifters with Shimano wheels

There has always been a huge amount of debate and question regarding the compatability of using Campy shifter with Shimano wheels/cassette. They are not totally compatabile. There are very small differences in the spacing of the cassette and when you factor in 9 or 10 cogs those differences in spacing start to get magnified.

There are a plethora of jury rig fixes to get them to work. Ranging from a 3rd party cassette to shim spacers to just doing nothing. See here for a run down.

Methods for Campy/Shimano compatability

I've got 1999 Chorus 9 speed shifters with Shimano Cassette/chain. At the time our team was sponsored by Cane Creek and at the time Cane Creek only had Shimano compatible freebodies. But I wanted the Campy shifters. I liked the hood shape better and wasn't the craziest about Shimano in general. Cane creek gave me some thin spacers to space out the Dura ace cassette. And for the past several years that's what I've been on. It works, yeah. It is not silky smooth/quiet like a complete system would be. And adjusting it after a cable change is royal pain.

Just saw this thing mentioned in the Road bike rider newsletter
This definitely looks like something I'd like to try out.

Eye of newt combined with abracadabra

Man, I am on form this week. Feeling great. New something was going on when I was able to ride pretty hard on the hill repeats after that 3hr mtb bike ride.

Finally got wise and did active recovery on Monday (1/2 hr commute in on the mtb) instead of taking the day completely off and yesterday did 1hr on the road bike. Zone 2 which at this point in the week is just where the legs feel a little uncomfortable. Still felt great.

Than today, intervals. 12 mins of alternating MSP/SMSP (270W/320W) then after 6 mins rest did 5x2on 2off at 310 W. This is the first time in 4 weeks I've been able to do that whole workout with the alternating ones and then the 2min ones. And it felt almost easy.

If I had not been using the same bike, same tires and had not calibrated the unit, I would have been really worried something was wrong. It is just amazing when you are feeling good how it can feel effortless. Even though your are working hard and grimacing it still seems almost too easy.

How and why these high points happen can be a mystery to most. Lots of magic and witchcraft

But one thing anyone, not just pros, can do is to look at their training from a macro view and look for patterns that repeat. The pattern that works for me is serious overreaching followed by at least 2 weeks of time. After that 2weeks or so I'm riding the wave. A lot of people enter their training in an excel spreadsheet or something so they can track weekly mileage and hours. But it is hard to look at a spread sheet like that and see the macro patterns. A better way is to look at your training in calendar format. There are plenty of free online calander makers you can use to enter notes. Then you can just make some stars or color code where you really worked it hard, where you are feeling really bad and where you are feeling really really good. And see over the year if you can find your particular patterns.

On the 1st of May I had that race at Douthat which really blew me out of the water. And I had several rides where I wasn't feeling that great but pushed my best through them. And even though I've been training I've also been recovering from those overreaches in the first week of May. and now I'm feeling good. I don't think it's possible for me to be overtraining given how few hours I put in and the number of rest days I have.

Some people feel that unless you are feeling super that you should't try to go hard. I think what works well is pushing hard sometimes even though you are not feeling 100%. Sure if you just can't turn the pedals than yeah it's time to rest, but I'm talking where you feel ok but not super great. The trick though is to know that you are not going to be going your best. So if it was a race or something you're probably not going to be getting any good results. What you're looking for is for the race to be your motivation to help you push hard even though you aren't feeling the best. That cummulative effort pays off big time after you recover.

The hard part is that we want to be going good all the time. And it takes motivation to go hard when you aren't feeling the best. A group ride, or a race is great motivation, but a double edged sword because at those types of things you want to crush, but you can't because you've been riding yourself into the ground. Like doing an interval workout the day before a race. Not the best strategy if you want to win the race, but a good way to do a hard block and get motivated to work hard on the second day.

What is the law?

Had to give the What is the law speech to my little one yesterday.

He and his little friend from next door had come inside and locked all the doors locking out my wife. And were just having a grand time laughing it up.

When I got home from work had to sit him down and go over the rules
What are the rules?
Is it ok to do that?
Do we play with doors?

on and on.

Reminds me of the Island of Dr. Moreau... What is the law?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ode to Halfpipes


I've only used two kinds of mountain bike shifters. Thumbshifters and gripshift. Way back when my first real mountain bike had those Black XT thumbshifters. Still have them in a crate. At a race SRAM was giving out certificates for gripshifters as prizes. My wife and I won some. That was the cool thing about SRAM, they were supporting the grass roots scene heavily back then. Later they even had a tech rep that posted regularly at the mtbr forums. Even as recently as a few weeks ago they returned an email within a day. Try that Shimano.

When the halfpipes came out I decided to try them and immediately fell in love with the telepathic shifting. There is a constant quest to be in the right gear. So I'm always always shifting up/down. The halfpipes make it so quick. They are not without their problems. Sometimes, rarely, if my wrists break plane on a rough downhill I'll rotate the shifters. Doesn't happen often but it can be disconcerting when it does.

There had been some improvements in the gripshifters since installing the halfpipes so I decided to try some newer Shorty gripshifts. They lasted all of about 2 days before I had to have my halfpipes back. I just could not stand having my telepathic shifting.

SRAM told me that the halfpipes are end of life this year. The only version sold now is on te 4.0s. That makes a true bike geek like me cringe. 4.0 is the lowest in the SRAM line. 9.0 is the highest. 5 degrees of separation between what I am on and the high end.

Everything I've read about the current XO triggers says they are the best thing since sliced bread. I go back and forth between scrounging some half pipes to keep on hand, or just letting these ones wear out and then get some triggers. I already crashed out the indicator window on the left side shifter. I think I'll let them wear out over the next year or two and by that time any kick butt XO technology will have trickled down to the X.9 and X.7 level shifters.

But I'll still have a soft spot for halfpipes

Monday, May 16, 2005

Getting hassled on the road bike

Got hassled today on the road bike by a car. Was climbing back into town on one of the main back entrances into Blacksburg. Harding Road. Should have gone up Nellies Cave which has less traffic at this time of day. Approaching 5pm, so people are leavinig and others are coming into town. It's the kind of hill w/o a lot of sharp turns so cars can fly but there are still plenty of blind spots on it.

I was at a point in the climb where there was a straight a way and there were no cars cominig down, and this old Dodge Caravan with woody sides and a bunch of paint splattered ladders comes past me and the passenger yells something to me.

He either yelled

or he yelled

Wow, you must be a real cool neo-pro rider on your lugged steel and with your Exte Ondo jersey, full finger gloves, and DMT Euro pro shoes with a visor helmet. Can I get your autograph?

No clue why he was bagging on me cause I didn't make them slow down because no one else was coming down and he could pass w/o a problem.

Now there is nothing special about getting yelled at, but then when he had past me he starts to pull over into the shoulder that I was climbing in. Either I was going to have to come to a complete stop, try and walk around him on the grass/gravel, or go around him in the driving lane. Luckily there was a car right behind him that started to honk and give the What's up moron two arm salute. So he kept going. But man, I don't know what I was going to do. Hell if I was going to walk around them or ride in the drive lane to have them gun it behind me. I probably would have just come to a stop and waited, maybe pull out the phone.... I'm gonna tell on you... Just like grade school.

Gut reaction is to flip the one fingered salute. But come on I've got two kids and a wife and don't need to get the crap kicked out of me by some red neck painters. Besides what am I going to do, come at them brandishing my custom painted Silca frame pump in one hand, and spray them with icy cold air with my C02 cartridge in the other.. all 135lbs of me hobbling at them in cycling shoes? And besides after leaving the Shaolin temple all those years ago I vowed to never hurt another human being.

Episodes like this which go beyond the typical drive by/honk, which require that premeditated let's mess with this guy thought process always leave me feeling terrible. Any focus for riding hard goes out the window. First thought is hyper vigilance looking around every corner to see if they have parked and are waiting for me like what happened one time with a pickup that had backed off the road and was hidden behind some bushes so that when I rode by they laid on the horn scaring the crap out of me.

Normally I'm a pretty nice person wishing ill to very few. But when things like this happen the rest of my ride is filled with all the fantasies of being an omnipotent demi god and the deeds that I would do unto them. Being Drew Barrymore from Fire starter and unleashing cheap special effect firebombs at them and disintegrating their vehicle into ashes.

Seeinig their vehicle parked somewhere and slashing the tires or keying it. and on and on. Wishing I was a navy seal and could kill with my pinky.

Actually I am surprised at the rarity that I get hassled on the road bike, especially given my nationality and the fact that this is rural VA. But there are several reasons why I think.
1) I almost always ride alone. And I have no issue with pulling into the grass or gravel to let a car on their way. Sooner they get on with their life sooner I can get on with mine.
2) I wave almost all the time, to oncoming cars and to passing cars. When on the back roads I am in their world. And if you belong on those roads, you wave. And when you wave first, it automatically puts them in the position that they have to wave back or they are being rude. Plus I hope that waving at someone will make them think twice when the come on the next cyclist, whether it is me months later or someone else. Amazes me that so few other cyclists wave. On any group rides I've been on with the local club or other local teams I'm the lone fool waving at cars.
3) I try my hardest to get out of blind corners/blind hills ASAP. Or at least to get to a point where I can look for oncoming cars and either put my hand out to warn a passing car or to wave them on. Waving them on automatically makes you the good guy. I am much more comfortable being a cyclist on a back road being passed by cars than being a driver and passing cyclists. I have no clue how these local drivers have such good Xray vision or the ability to see the future. Because they pass me sometimes on blind corners/blind hills going 50mph halfway or even full in the other lane. How in the world do they know no one is coming. I hate driving behind a group of cyclists on the back roads. Hell if I am going to try and pass w/o clear sight of oncoming cars.

Oh well, one of the on the job hazzards I guess. Will be smarter about choosing a better time to be on that road

Surprise yourself with block training

Block training is one of the fundamental components of training the Morris way. It is what has given me that super hero theme music kind of fitness relative to how I used to be. Basically it involves high intensity work on back to back days. Often times you read in Bicycling and other mags/books/etc.. to not do intervals on back to back days. But research has shown that even though heart rate may indicate that you are getting tired, your actual power output is showing that you are not.

Did that 3hr on the mtb yesterday, and today did 1.5 on the road hitting some tough climbs that the only way to get to the top is to work.

The key to blocks is to keep the intensity high but cut the duration on the subsequent days.

Try it, you might like it and surprise yourself.

working it

Long mtb ride this weekend. Hooked up with some old mtb friends from out of town. Rode out to meet them, then rode a point to point then home.

Was trying to work it. Didn't feel all there, but a great side affect of good training is that even when you are feeling like a sidekick with no super powers rather than the super hero, you're still riding at a good pace. Cause a good sidekick is still better than the general citenzenry.

My handling is gone again. Why is it so fleeting? Some days it's on, other days the timing is gone and the field of vision starts to go closer and closer to the front wheel, and visions of sailing over the tops of drops are replaced with stacking it.

Gonna try and ride it into the ground today by doing some hill work on the road bike. Decided that the next couple of months are going to be 2weeks on, 4-5 days off with lots of 2 day blocks and riding when fatigued really nailing the lid on the coffin.

Big ring was skipping yesterday. Underpower in rough stuff. Took a look at the teeth and they are almost all gone. Big ring is shot, little ring is shot. Stuff wears out. Esp with any mud/water. But that is mountain biking. Bugs me when you hear people bitching about stuff wearing out or not working. Um well that's what happens when you ride a lot.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dirt Crit report

It is hard to get across to someone who has never ridden around in a circle with their toungue draggin' on the ground how much fun these things are. You just gotta do it. Thankfully we had at least three people today. One isn't enough. With two it is too easy to just bag it. But with three you have enough to just go for it.

Partners in crime were Chuck Rockwell. Globetrotting in the world of corporate espionage, where his office is his suitcase. He has the opportunity to live anywhere he wants to within range of a major airport and he chose Blacksburg so he could do these crits. Chuck decided to grace us with his Free ride bike. 35-40lbs of 9" rotors, 6" of travel up front , 4-6" travel adjustable in the rear. Chuck has a message for anyone who is one the fence about doing these things because they are out of shape or are a beginner

Hey, get out here. I got lapped twice, and had to walk the climb, but I'm coming back!!

It was a blast following him on the fire road with the big holes and whoops in it because he just sit through them and his sofa of a bike would soak it all up.

The third in our crazy group was International man of mystery Chris Pohowsky. Chris arrived on his hardtail like me, with a front brake that was going out, and a noodly fork that he was pushing to the extreme. Mr. Smooth soon figured out all the lines on the course and was in continuous flow.

One of the keys to a dirt crit is figuring out how to get the most out of every piece of the course. Trying different lines to find the one that keep your speed up and trying to minimize anything that will take a bite out of your MO.

We started at the fire circle and went down hill on the fire road. I took off all jazzed up hitting these big pot holes on the fire road still pedaling with my rear wheel kicking up in the air like a bucking bronco. The first part of the fire road that you turn onto after coming off the single track was one of the hardest things for me. Because I was so fried from gaining back all the elevation on the single track, which ends with a short grunt. Coming off that and right into the roller coaster bumps on the fire road almost threw me over cause I was sitting down too fried to get my butt off the seat and hit some of these totally off balance.

The first big mud bog messed up any rhythm I had.
I started with Line C which forces you to lay on the brakes hard and then thread this needle of a piece of single track and then a hard left out of it. Then I started taking Line A which is just as bad of a needle to thread requiring a slow speed to negotiate, but the exit was better than Line A. Chris figured out Line B which allowed you to maintain a lot of MO out of the exit. But there as a small berm that if you hit it wrong your front would wash.

The second mud bog was pretty basic. RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. I tried to manual over the first part of the mud and always ended up getting pushed over to the right on the exit

The turn off the fire road was one of my favorite parts of the course. It took several laps to figure out the right way to hit it. Done right, you could hit it without any brakes, and carry your momentum with a wide exit and could stay pedaling strong to the entry into the next turn.


Done wrong and you brake too much and have to pedal too hard up the climb, or your front wheel washes into one of those big holes. As mine did on the last lap.

The single track section is tough. Loose in the turns with some drifting, some MO eaters right in the middle of the track. One piece of slate that slid my rear wheel more than 1 foot right in the middle of turn. False flats making you decided between grinding the big or dropping to the middle, with a harsh grunt at the end. All the elevation drop from the fire road is gained over the course of the single track.

Chris was kind enough to let me lead the first lap and then passed in the second. I tried to stay with him on the single track, and we might have been working the same effort, but his efficiency in the single track gave him a foot here, a foot there and pretty soon the gap was substantial. Climbing the grunt before the exit out of the trees your peripheral vision can pick up anyone on the fire road. Several times I could see him starting his descent on the road while I was on the climb. It messes with your mind because you think that they are right there but by the time you get to that point they are LONG gone. I only had fleeting glimpses of him the rest of the crit.

Chuck was grinding along on the free ride machine and kept it up the whole time

Having others out there helps justify the pain, but in the end it's all about you going as hard as you can. No better way to get in racing shape. Cause if you never go hard, well then you'll never go hard.

My lap times were:
1- 3:31
2- 3:39
3- 3:58
4- 3:55
5- 3:50
6- 3:44
7- 3:50
8- 3:47

Total go time was around 30mins. Format was 20mins + 2 laps (wherever you are at 20mins complete that lap than go 2 more full laps) The worst thing you can do is fixate on the 20min mark thinking that it will be over then. Because after 20mins life really starts to suck cause it aint over for 2+ more laps.

CP got credit for one additional lap.

Next one will include FREE BEER* to all participants and spectators

*Limit one ice cold can of cheap domestic beer per person of drinking age.

3rd night of poor sleep

last two nights have been rough because this head cold keeps waking me up. Nothing diminshes your ability to be a good parent, worker, person than lack of sleep. Not being a good worker bee for a day isn't going to keep me awake at night (pun, haha), but it sucks to be a bad parent. You can never take back poor choices in snapping and yelling.

On a good note, the dirt crit happened last night an was a total blast. Just like you only need one person and a mirror to have a party you need at least 3 to have a dirt crit, and we had three. Not sure why you need min of 3. With one you have to just push yourself wish is a drag. with two it is too easy to mutually decide to JRA, but with 3 it seems that you get enough stupidity to go for the gold.

write up to follow

Thursday, May 12, 2005

a cold again

Sight cold again.

Had this thing on the verge for the past few days. Lack of sleep must have given it the in. Bad news is that I'm getting sick even when I'm not really riding all that much. Good news is that these colds don't seem to be that bad (knock on wood)

Doing the 'ol neck test. If it's above the neck go ahead and train, if it's below the neck take it easy. It's all in my head so I'm going to try and purge it from the system but riding hard. I don't know if anyone is going to show up for the dirt crit tonight, so it might just be a crit of one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Musical beds

Rough night last night. Youngest one had a fever and was not feeling well. I think it is another ear infection. But what do I know I'm not a doctor but I did stay in a Holiday Inn one night.

Another night of musical beds

He came into our bed, then I went to his bed (a little twin matress), then my wife came to his bed, I went back to our bed ,then he went back to his bed, my wife came back to our bed, then our older son came in to our room around 5am. The rule with him is that if it's after 4am he can come in bed with us. Oh did we put the kybosh on that this morning. He said, but it's 5 it's after 4am. In unison, NOOO go back to your room! He was one bummed little man.

Sleeping with the youngest one is pain, literally. He won't sleep on one side he has to sleep right in the middle, with one heel or elbow sticking into you. And this is a queen sized bed. I'd physically slide him over to one end of the bed, and wrap him up like a hot dog, or put pillows in between us to create an impenetrable barrier. All to no avail. I should have just gone downstairs.

And I had my earplugs in to block out the coughing. So I'm asking my wife when the last time he got medicine and she's telling me something but I can't hear her and we are going back and forth at 3am

And what does this all have to do with cycling and mountain biking? Not a whole lot except it's one of the many stressors all of us regular people with our regular lives have to factor into our training. Don't underestimate the toll that sleep, kids, jobs, day care, house, lawn, changing the oil, coaching, PTA, etc.etc.. take on your recovery. It's no wonder that it takes me days and days to get my legs back. Well much of that is just plain genetics and physiology but still it's definitely hard.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pasta review

A food review? Well food is as much a part of cycling as any component. Many of us got hooked on cycling because it allowed you to eat like a maniac without getting too huge. Each epic ride was license to eat like an American. Only problem is when your riding time goes down but you continue to eat like you used to. It was a tough one to curtail my eating when my riding diminshed.

Pasta is the Duke of New York A#1 with most cyclists. My wife is a nutritionist. I am not. If it wasn't for her I'd be living in a gutter surrounded by Reese's and Wonder bread. Without her I'd be eating regular pasta fully refined. With her look where I am now. Alive, healthy and eating protein enriched pasta.

The thing is most regular refined pasta is junk when it comes to being nutritious. But some of the wheat pasta tastes about as good as cardboard. (There is a new pasta blend of wheat / refined that I'll review shortly)

This pasta here is cool because it is protein fortified.

* remember when you read food labels to take special note of the SERVING SIZE as it most likely is smaller than what you normally eat for a real world serving. I bet the serving size listed on a Reese's is 1/2 of a cup. That's how they stick it to you. It all how you spin it.*

I tried the low carb thing out for about a day or two. Always looking for the next magic bullet I am. But there was just no way it was going to work with this endurance athlete. I did learn, however, that I do much better with some more protein in addition to my carbs. I remember eating a bowl or two of cereal and then riding into work (<1/2 hr) and being light headed and bonked by the time I got there. After throwing an egg white in I felt much better.

This pasta doesn't taste all that good. A little on the bland side so plan on some good sauce and some Parm. cheese. It has to cook a little longer due to the added protein. But you get some serious protein in this traditionally only carb food.

9 days

9 days seems to be my recovery time needed from major major efforts. 9 freaking days without any semblance of legs. By the 7th or 8th day I really start to worry if they are every going to come back again. Gets kind of scary.

All this week, any ride I did there was just zero in the climbing department. Plus 2 days completely off doesn't actually do wonders for the snap. Yesterday hopped on the road bike and rode down to the river. Climbing out from the river was a nightmare. This is a climb I usually do in 2 gears higher than my granny. Totally granny gear yesterday. The flats were still ok once I spun up the momentum.

Today had meetings/presentations and just drove to a trail head and did my nemesis climb on the mountain bike. Almost always push it to the red on this climb. Today told myself to just chill and spin it. In years past just getting up this thing would take me into the darkside. But with my new found fitness I found today that surprisingly, it could be climbed w/o getting blurry vision. And learned that it is amazing what one can actually ride when you aren't entering it at the redline.

There are several technical sections that normally when time trialing up this thing that I have to walk because I hit them already pegged and don't have that extra oomph needed to clean them. Today hit them with plenty of gas, and kept the middle ring and rode up them like they were nothing. Ahhh so that's how it is done?

At the top were two women I know from the shop. They seemed a little out of it. Turns out they'd just split a six pack. Not often you see people drink some beer and then go climb one of the more technical trails in town. I showed them where the dirt crit course was and said I'd keep out of vomit range. Then escorted one down Old Farm just to make sure she made it down in one piece. They were going back and forth about whether to go this way to this house, or that way to this car.. Reminded me why I don't go on group rides much. When you have X amount of time right before the witching hours start you just aren't really up for the usual trail side chit chat. Gotta get better about that before I lose more of the few friends that I got.

Moved my cleats back a little. Ah. Balance again on the pedals. Sketchy tires though. LOVE love my Seracs

But when they start to get worn they can get sketchy. But it's good for me. Good to develop the light touch. Good to get used to that drifting feeling. Not good to stack it. But good to almost stack it.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Making Ergo levers work with small hands

The newer road shifting levers liks STI and Ergo are wonderful. However with all the technology you would think that they would figure out a way to add a reach adjustment for the brake levers. Heck, even the cheapest mountain levers have reach adjustment.

For people with small hands it can be quite difficult getting to the brake levers especially when in the drops. Years ago there were very few low reach, low drop bars. Nowadays with all the women specific marketing going on there are more bars available with really short reach/drop. Salsa Poco is one of them. I have used the 3T Morphe which is no longer made but I'm sure 3T made a replacement for it. But even with these shorter reach bars it still can be tough to get to the lever.

Here is what I did with my Ergo levers. I drilled/tapped in the lever body and placed a hex head set screw. Yes it is very daunting taking a drill to your new shifters, but this has worked very well to help me dial in the reach to the levers when using different bars.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Living on the edge

This is about as close as I get to being a rebel and living on the edge: Trying a different genre of Reese's

Still like the original the best.

Yeah I'm too extreme for my own good, I know.

Not one pedal stroke and memories.

Between Mother's Day and Home Improvement Hell there was not one pedal stroke spun this weekend. And I was forced to run on the bike path. Sheesh. Unless it is for soccer running is one of my least favorite activities. My wife wanted to ride on the bike path with our older son and I was going to walk next to the little one while he rode and then he and I would go pick up them at the other end of the bike path and she would ride all the way back on her own to get some excercise.

Turns out he rode way way faster than I was expecting. Just like me lately, on the flats he'd tear it up then lock the brakes up right before a hill and cry when he couldn't ride up it. But I had to jog to keep up with him and then I finally just walked and yelled at him to slow down. As he turns his head around to look behind him and veers to the other side of the bike path.

Home improvement projects induce the same short term memory loss I've spoken about that mountain biking and childbirth produce. Everytime I do one I want to be finished well before I'm even close. And swear that I won't do another one. I don't know what I'm doing so it takes 3x more concentration, all the while dealing wtih regular life and trying to work around the kids, and having to worry about every little cut, dimension, color, spacing, and any other variable that my wife isn't going to like.

In an effort to save a buck, it invariably creates more work and stress than it would have if I just paid someone else to do it. And my goodness all I do is eat when I do this stuff. Comfort food, chips, candy, coke, whatever I can get my hands on. There definitely is the satisfaction of knowing that I did it, but lately I think I'd rather get that satisfaction from doing something just for myself like a frame or working on the bikes, and let some contractor deal with the home improvement.

But then again its projects like this that create those memories that you never forget. Like my wife and I were lugging this huge rental tile saw to the back deck. A rental saw that cost $70 per day. All I was tiling was around the mantle, so a contractor probably would have only charged $50-$100 to do it all. And we are pretty small people so it was tough, and laid it down on this flimsy stand. Turns out I had the stand upside down and the tile saw is just barely sitting on it, and then it falls. Thank god it didn't fall all the way to the ground, it was just hanging on at one end, how I don't know. So we are barely holding up one end up it with the other just hanging onto this flimsy stand and my wife is asking me if I can return it and get my money back. Um well, first we gotta figure out how to get it untangled off this stand and onto the floor before our arms give out.

In all my years of mountain biking there have been thousands of rides. There have been some awesome rides where I was riding my best ever, but honestly, I don't remember vivid details of those rides, more just the fact that those rides have existed and the basic vision of those perfect rides as something to shoot for. BUT there are so many memories of those less than perfect rides. Those epic rides with the wrong turns, those crashes, those bonks, dehydration..You know all the bad stuff you strive to avoid. Yet they have made the most unforgettable memories.

Here are a couple random ones.
-riding with my friend Kevin in Saratoga, CA. Cruising down this one lane paved road off the trail head. Small stream crosses the road diagonally. Turns out there is moss growing under this 1/4" layer of water. It happens to be right on a turn. Kev is 1/2 wheel length in front of me. His front tire hits the water at a slight angle. His front washes and he starts going down. I am just far enough behind him that I can see it happen and am thinking to my self, Oh shit, he is going down. Then my front tire hits the water and the moss with a slight angle on it. I start to go down. So here we are both sliding diagonally on our hips across this road to the ditch. In total unison like synchronized swimming. I've still got the road rash on my hip somewhere.

Kev and I got lost out at Saratoga Gap one time. Trying to explore some trail. Getting darker, colder, hungrier. Finally just followed this stream bed till we found a trail head. Got to the car and it was dark. Our fingers could hardly turn quick release to rack the bikes.

I met my wife at a race because I had gotten heat exhaustion and was delirious enough to be have the courage to go up and talk to her.

I dehydrated so bad on a lap at the 24hrs of Canaan that I was out there for 5 hours. It was my birthday and they had cupcakes and candles and a banner waiting for me when I finished my lap. The candles had all burned out by the time I finally got back.

And on and on.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Training wrap up

I finally got around to looking at my training from a top down view over the last 20 or so weeks. Since mid November when I started to ride some. Tallied the total saddle time. This doesn't include any strength training that may have been going on during the early months.

There really isn't much rhyme/reason to the chart. Early on got some endurance rides in. With some rest weeks thrown in. During the middle were the interval sessions, there are rest weeks in there but time wise it doesn't look like it. Than later transitioning into in season trying to get some more time in on the bike.

That 9 hour week was just lucky where I got in two 2:45hr rides in and then another 1:45 road ride.

For the most part weekly hours are under 6 with some being under 4.

The good news is that I can be competitive in the Vet Sport class with this which is nice to know that a regular joe can still hang in the races with limited time available to them. So all you working stiffs, with kids, take heart,

Like that dude in Water boy says:
You can Do it.

The bad news is that like any good athlete it's never enough. Always want to get better.

Dirt Crit preview

Here is a preview of the Dirt Crit course.

Hopefully this will get some people excited to come out.

Lap start at the fire circle, We may start the begining a little farther back in order to spread out a little before hitting the down hill

There will be no set route on the fire road. Your choice to go straight through this 4x4 eating mud bog or route to the left or right. It's up to you if you think you can manual through the primordial ooze that I've seen eat a jeep in one bite or try and skirt the edge of the pond, or take the wider tracks.

Here again your choice to manual through the puddle or take the sweet track on the right.

Before you go down towards Old farm/Beast take a right towards the top of Sidewinder

And take a right turn onto the newish single track that takes you back to the fire circle

This track is fast either way you take it.
It has some false flats that take your legs by surprise and then some fast corners that you didn't think would be so quick going this direction

The last grunt before spitting back out onto the fire circle will eat you up. If you are doing it right your vision will be blurry like this picture.