Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Courage Classic 2015

Courage Classic came & went. I looked forward to riding it since last year when I finished it and now it's over. Sort of makes me sad. I was thinking this on the first day of it. "Here we are. Only two more days left." Perhaps it's telling me I need to do more multi-day rides. But it's more then just the ride. It's so well supported and I have such a good group of friends that do it. And most of them I hardly see until the next year.

The weather was pretty perfect. Oh it was HOT but I like the heat and I learned from last year how to keep a little cooler and more hydrated. Eight of us of team Kaibigan Lagi rode. Four did the "Fat" tire first day. The fat tire was just as grueling as the last time. Sixty five miles from Snoqualmie to Cle Elum via the Snoqualmie Valley trail and the Iron Horse trail. Five hours and 14 minutes of saddle time and 4000 feet of climbing. I drank no less then 8 bottles of water. The estimated calorie burn was 3600. Fortunately the Pierce County Rotary clubs were keeping us well fed.

The morning up to the summit/Snoqualmie tunnel wasn't bad. I made great time. I think I may have actually had a slight advantage over my friends on their mountain bikes with Tanager and her 700x35's. At least, until we hit the 5 or so miles of fresh gravel they laid out along lake Keechelus. That stuff was squirrelly. Then past Easton came the long flat stretches in the heat. Flat and straight. The trail just feels like it's going on forever and you're ready for the end.

About the last 5 to 10 miles of the ride I started to feel pain in my left knee. Not the typical pains. A pain I haven't felt since STP of 2010. The only way I can describe it is a strong soreness that feels like it's in all my connective tissue all around, above and below the knee. In STP I woke up with it on day 2 and I couldn't ride standing up for 2 days. On this day I was feeling it at the end of the ride. Not a good sign. I did what I had resolved not to do and that was to ride to hard the first day. When I got of the bike at the finish I couldn't hardly walk without limping. After sitting a while, eating dinner and setting up camp I made a walk for the showers. Hmm, knee feels better but the pain comes back after walking about 100 yards. Ugh. I was afraid for day 2 and 3 but I didn't dwell on it to much and made up my mind to get a good night's sleep.

The weather that night, as I had predicted, was no less then perfect. The temperature cooled quickly after sunset. Soon I was shoving my feet into the sleeping bag for warmth. At midnight I got up and walked to the privy for a nature break. A brilliant full moon had come up. Everyone was asleep. All was quiet. Magic.

The early morning was not as wet as years past. Definitely not as wet as last year when it rained and the two years before there was a lot of dew. I slept well that night. Probably the best sleep I've ever had on day 1 of CC. As we rode the 3 miles into Cle Elum for breakfast I was relieved to find my knee had miraculously recovered. It wasn't the disaster of STP 2010 all over again. Not to mention the typical knee pains I get on this ride were non-existent. Was it the P90X3? Was it the extra 6 miles of daily commuting after moving? Who knows but I like it. I rode a little easy up the first 1/2 of the climb up Blewett Pass but was not nearly as slow as years past.

We all regrouped at the summit lunch and started our decent down the other side. I always seem to get caught off guard when everyone takes off down the pass but I managed to catch up with Jason and Rosemarie just as Jason flatted out. Rosemarie and I did some sort of synchronized pit crew action on Jason's tire. It really sticks out in my mind as a thing of beauty. And away we went. The typical head wind was coming up the pass. I was feeling pretty good and pulling Jason & Rosemarie for several miles as the pass started to level out a bit. Finally I gave up the con to Jason who towed us into the sno cone stop. Oh how sweet a draft can be. Sno cones in the shade.

In the typical Kaibigan Lagi fashion we practiced our usual dip in Peshastin Creek a few miles down the road from Sno cones. The water was cold and refreshing. It was so hot out that it was hard to get out of the water. As we lay there, there came a old familiar "pow" from the area of our bikes. Tire blow out! Rosemarie got up to see who's it was. Marie. Blew out right through the bottom. Good thing it didn't happen coming down the pass. No patch job would fix this. She was going to need a new tire so she sagged into Leavenworth. I don't know how that could happen but I have some speculation. First of all her tires felt pretty thin. I'm assuming they were filled to maximum pressure in the cool air of the morning and that the pressure increased as the temperature went up through the afternoon. Compound that with the excess heat generated from braking down the pass. To much for the tire to handle.

Back on the road. About another 10 miles or so into through the muggy apple orchards into Leavenworth. Our usual stay at the Enzian Inn. Our great secret sag crew, "Bugsy" had to cut out after we got checked in this year. We missed hanging with him. Post ride swim, dinner, gelato with the team then Jason, Eric and I broke off for the beer garden. It was more tame then ever this year. We had another beer back at the hotel and then I crashed. It was hard to do. I could have just hung out for a few more hours but probably a good thing. No hangover for day 3 and some well deserved rest. Eric and I shared a room. He says I'm the soundest sleeper he's ever seen.

Now I put this post down and waited months to finish. Let me read through Ele's recap. Oh yes. We all wore robes from the Enzian Inn for the official team photos and 6am because, ya know, it's 6am! The ride to Steven's Pass was typical, I guess. I mean, beautiful, challenging, etc. The same as years past. Not nearly as hot as last year and the construction was done so the road wasn't all tore up. As is my usual tradition I hauled ass from the last rest stop before the summit to the lunch at the summit. The last 4-5 miles. Challenging Eric to do the same. He took off before me but I almost caught up with him. And though I beat him in time my personal record is 3 minutes faster in 2012. The temperature at the summit lunch was chilly and it was a cold ride down the other side. Each year that scary decent gets a little easier though. Iron Goat trail was beautiful as always and, becoming a tradition, Eric and I blazed in to the finish.

I haven't signed up for 2016 yet since we are planning to move to Austin in March and we'd like to make sure we are settled there first. However it looks like a good chance because of several factors. The "travel" bike is almost done. Marie, who works for an airline says she has a ticket for me. There are several people I could stay with. And they dropped the minimum fundraising to $500 dollars for next year although I always seem to be able to raise $1000 anyway.

Here's the stats for this years ride.

184 miles
13 hours & 53 minutes
13.24 mph average speed
38.88 mph max speed

Monday, October 19, 2015

Starling

The Rodriguez bike build is coming along well. I feel like there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel for this bike and I finally settled on a name, "Starling". See the whole build gallery here - https://www.flickr.com/photos/neutralbuoyancy/albums/72157659031532138
Here are just a few pictures -





Monday, September 28, 2015

1,800 miles on the rear wheel. The wheel was still very true but I noticed a spoke looked pretty loose on the non drive side. Over all spoke tension was low. About 97 KGF on the drive side when it should be 110 to 120. Re-trued.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blew away my commute time home from work today. I wasn't sure if I would even come close to the old time. I didn't even look at the time on the bike computer until I got home. Just hauled ass. Time was 34:40. A full minute and 41 seconds faster then my previous record.

Yesterday I decided I would push myself up outside of my comfort zone on my commutes and I came real close to the previous record so today I just gunned it. I had to slow down with some traffic down town and my legs are a little sore from P90X3 workouts so I should be able to beat this record too.

Time 34:40
Distance 8.83
Average 15.30
Max 25:80
Elevation climb 508 feet

Odo 17,448

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Training rides P90X3 and Rodriguez

Christine and I have been doing P90X3 workouts. We are in the third month. There's a lot of body weight leg work. Lunges, squats, etc. For the first month my legs felt slightly sore pretty much the entire time. Now they are feeling pretty good and I have noticed considerable power gains on the bike. Also I seem to be having less knee pain. I've even done a few short hikes with little problems.

I've also done several training rides in addition to my regular commutes. The 67 mile route of Flying Wheels Summer Century with 2600 feet of elevation gain - https://www.strava.com/activities/315028646
A 30 mile loop of Mercer Island with Traci - https://www.strava.com/activities/320736462
Iron Horse Trail with Eric and Traci. 45 miles and 3500 feet of gain - https://www.strava.com/activities/335155305
A 35 mile loop from my house down the Duwamish Trail and up this side of Lake Washington. - https://www.strava.com/activities/336578583
A 55 mile ride with 5500 feet of gain from Glacier to Artist Point. Second time I did this. Got to see the view this time because it was a clear day - https://www.strava.com/activities/339173467
And a loop of lower Lake Washington with Traci for 45 miles. - https://www.strava.com/activities/339986760
I'm feeling really good. I'm feeling ready for Courage Classic and RSVP this year.

And the Rodriguez frame & fork are done. Now if I can just get enough money to build the rest of it up.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Chain

We're at 17,139 miles. That last chain did not last to long. Only 1654 miles. Perhaps I should look at brand names and see if that makes a difference. This new one is a Shimano.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

New Rear Wheel Build 2015

So I built up the new wheel. I was somehow talked into buying a VO hub that was 4 times the price of the Shimano but Shimano apparently doesn't make silver mountain/touring bike hubs anymore. My bike has 135mm spacing in the rear and I wanted silver damn it. But the main reason I went with the VO hub is it uses very common replaceable cartridge bearings. In fact the nearly the entire hub is field serviceable without any tools. The middle picture is the new hub next to the old hub/wheel. 100 miles in and everything is running smooth.
For record keeping we'll start this wheel at odometer reading 16,674 miles.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rodriguez & Wheels

Rode up to R & E Cycles in the U-district on Tuesday and put money down on a frame. Build time is estimated to be 6 to 8 weeks. The plan is to build a lighter weight travel bike. This idea arose after riding El Tour de Tucson and had been in the works for a while. The problem is I can't just build a bike. Or buy a bike. I have to build a frick'n kick ass bike. I want most of the parts to be made in the USA. So there ya go. The frame is being hand made right here in Seattle. The rims from Velocity in Florida. DiVinci Cranks. White Industries hubs and bottom bracket. Paul Components Brakes and possibly seat post. I'm getting S&S couplers put on so the frame can be broken down and put in a travel case. Also having them put on a "pump post" for a frame pump. The color will be a dark blue with a blue Brooks Saddle. Gold accents. Gold spoke nipples, cables, chain and possibly some of the bolts on the derailleurs & the jockey pulleys. Of course this is all shooting the price up through the roof so it will probably take me another year to finish it after the frame is done.

In the process they do a free bike fit and pointed out some things on my bike that could be adjusted. 1. the brake hoods are two far down the bars for an optimum riding position. I rotated the entire bar up a little and it is more comfortable. 2. the bars are two far forward. This I'm just going to have to suffer through for a while. I don't have the time or money to replace that stem right now. 3. The seat could be raised about 1 centimeter. I raised it maybe 1/2 a cm to give it a feel.

Also I've been having problems with the rear wheel. Just doesn't feel true, especially when I brake but I can't seem to fix it. I asked their mechanic if he could put it on the truing stand but it never even made it off the bike. He took a look at it and said, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your rim is about to explode" and then let some pressure out of my tire. Seems I've worn out another rim. He said I could reuse the old hub but when I took the wheel off my bike and spun it in my hand the hub felt all rumbly inside. I don't think I've ever repacked the bearings and that might just be all it needs but it's got 8500 miles on it so I'm going with a new hub.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

This last week I've noticed an old familiar rocking sensation coming from the bottom bracket like in 2013 STP. Put the bike up on the rack, pulled the crank, sure enough, the bottom bracket was just slightly loose. But can I just tighten it, no. You know me. As long as the crank is off let's completely remove the BB, clean it out, spray some frame saver up in the frame. Re-grease threads, reinstall. Set correct torque, clean the crank, inspect crank for cracks, inspect frame. Hey let's clean that part of the frame since we have the crank off. So love being my own bike mechanic.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New records to work and home. Three main factors for this.
1. I took the 8-10 pound panniers off the bike today. Weather was so nice I didn't need to carry any rain gear or extra layers.
2. I had a tail wind.
3. I've been pushing myself more and I believe I'm in better shape because of it.

Time into work 28 minutes, 33 seconds. Almost a minute and a half off. Average speed was 17.76 mph.

Time home was 36 minutes and 21 seconds. That's nearly a full 5 minutes faster. I'm sure the weight has a factor there with the hill climbing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

New Chain

New chain. Caught this one in time. The old chain has 3,711 miles. Odometer start for the new chain is 15,485.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Broken Crank

I had to walk the last 1/2 mile or so on Wednesday because my crank broke. Yeah, that's right, snapped right off. 7000 series aluminum crank. I had come to a stop. Light turned green. I hopped on the saddle, did about 2 revolutions and clunk. That's about the sound it made. Nothing so dramatic as Eric's carbon fiber crank breaking with it's huge snapping noise on the last mile of Courage Classic.

I sent a picture of the crank to Velo Orange and told them, "I guess your cranks only last about 13,000 miles." There reply email stated that they've never seen anything like that before and to what address would I like my new replacement crank sent to? Very cool of them. They are replacing it for free. They've even sent it via 2 day priority mail.

Now I've done quite a bit of research and apparently all cranks have a lifespan however cranks of this type should last many thousand miles longer then that. So I'm not sure if this is a manufacturing defect. My bike has fallen over a few times but I've never been in a crash. The start of the break is right along a machining line where the crank arm tapers up to the spider assembly. Very hard to spot with the chain rings on, etc. The dark, thumbnail looking section of the break is where it originally cracked, probably several weeks/months? ago. It's darker because of dirt and oxidation occurring over a longer period of time. The much lighter area of the break is where the final snap occurred as the crank couldn't take the strain anymore. There's a good article on how this happens here - http://www.cyclofiend.com/Images/pdf/RR42_web.pdf
There are many pictures of cranks that have failed (all probably under differing circumstances and mileages) here - http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-001/000.html#Crank

Thinking back over the last 6 months or so I do seem to remember an occasional "tink" sort of sound and feel in the downward stroke of the right crank. Could this have been a tell tale sign of the crank cracking ever so little bit more? I couldn't think of anything else in that area of the drive train that would cause this. Bottom bracket, chain ring bolts, etc. were all buttoned up nice & tidy. Needless to say, I will be doing routine inspections of my cranks for cracks in the future.

Brooks Saddle for New Build

Picked up a new Brooks B17 in blue for a new build. More on that to follow. I was comparing how stiff it was compared to my old B17. That saddle that has over 16,000 miles on it. In the process, one thing I noticed about the old saddle is the Brooks logo stamped on to the sides wearing off. I realized that when I sit on it, now the sides flare out a little. This is causing them to rub on my thighs and wear the logo.
There's two ways I can take care of this. One is to adjust the tension bold on the nose. The other would be to punch a few holes in the sides and lace underneath as Brooks does with some of their other models. Now there's a lot of mysticism when it comes to people's opinion about adjusting the tension bolt on a Brooks. Most say 1/2 turn a year would be a lot. Some people say not to ever adjust it and just do the lace. And then there's a lot of talk about weather you rode it in the rain or not. The rule, as I understand it, is not to ride it wet. It's OK if it gets wet. Just let it dry but if you ride it wet you WILL stretch the leather. Well, I live in Seattle. It rains. I commute every day. For the most part the saddle is dry. Sometimes when it is really coming down the nose of the saddle will get a little wet and sometimes it's received a few sprinkles and been rode on. So I'm sure it's stretched over the years.

Also I think there's a few more factors that come into play here. You can't just say adjust your Brooks 1/2 turn every year or so. I ride more in two days then many of my friends do all year. So you've really got to look into the time put in on the saddle. As of right now I know there's at least 1100 hours on this one. That's 45 days I've sat on that seat! Not to mention, not everyone cares for their Brooks the same way. I only use the Proofide but people use all sorts of stuff and the saddles will break in differently because of it.

So I did the unthinkable. I adjusted the tension bolt. And not just a little. I turned it 30 times. Now that's only thirty 1/4 turns but most Brooks owners would be freaking out. I adjusted it until the stiffness of the bolt and the saddle started to match the new saddle. That's just about 3/8th's of an inch. It seems like a lot but the saddle still has some flex/give.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015