Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This week I've been putting our house back together after the holiday re-organization, and trying to get back on a work-out schedule. Sunday's 60-degrees was perfect for running. The trails, sadly, have not been up to par. Mike and I took off today for an optimistic ride, but we were thwarted after about two miles. The trail head looked good, but we kept alternating between deep snow (not really deep, but deep enough to make riding annoying), deep mud and water, and ice. Not great conditions. More snow is on the way tomorrow, so who knows when the trails will be ready again.
I got my commuter ready for the winter weather with studded tires and fenders. Sigh, I really hate winter. I can't wait for Hawaii!
Anyway, I updated some of the pics in Picasa of Gary (and of course, Luna is in there too), and I posted some more pics from Art Week (listed below).
Friday, December 19, 2008
Sunday, Jean and I went up to Manchester, NH with our friends Mike & Jo to the Courrier Museum to check out some “aht.” They had a great Warhol exhibit, and plenty of other great visuals. We also went to a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I guess, in retrospect, this week was full of art as Jean and I also went to the Griffin Museum of Photography and the De Cordova Museum of Art which is one of our favorites—and we made it up to Portland, ME for a day trip.
Jean and I also stimulated the economy with both home purchases and holiday shopping.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
They have also hosted some great lectures and classes which is how Jean and I first got involved. The open house that we attended was to display and discuss the artistic and symbolic merits of “end papers.” End papers are the insides of books covers—the transition from exterior to interior. Look in any hardcover book and you’ll see many different styles of end papers, from maps and graphs to marbleized artistic patterns. It’s one of those things that we encounter all the time, but never think about. Of course, the main reason I went was for the free coffee and cookies.
In keeping with the paper theme, a local artist was on hand to teach people how to make their own paper. Yep, starting with some unwanted paper stock and a regular blender, she created pulp, which was then turned into paper. Jean and I gave it a try too.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Now, two weeks later, I'm feeling better. Certainly not 100%, but I'm walking much better, I've been able to do an easy spin on the bike on the rollers and I did a short run tonight. I'm still on NSAIDs, but I think I'm on the road to recovery. I did miss some good cyclocross races, but there will be more races in my life.
I have to say, I don't like being on this side of the patient-provider relationship. Oh well. I guess when I see how often my mother falls down, it's only to be expected...
Anyway, the ironic part is that the day prior to the fall, I had posted a reply to the LinkedIn group for bike commuters extolling the virtues of studded tires for winter riding. I have a set sitting in my garage waiting to be mounted... Had I only taken my own advice! Oh well, needless to say, they're going on before I start back to my two-wheeled commute.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Gary has been slowly getting more comfortable in his new home. He and Luna get along great, and the destruction has been bumped up a few notches. They tear through toys that are billed to be ultra strong. They are like furry piranha. But, the toys keep them busy and it keeps them from chewing on Jean's shins. He started obedience class and for his first time, he did fine. He did, however, vomit in the back of the Element again. Did I mention how great the rubber floors are?
I haven't taken any inspiring photos lately, but with the impending holidays, perhaps I'll document the life and times of some figgy pudding. I shot this cloud pic while I was waiting for Jean as she was being a good consumer in Target.
Last week I spent a little bit of time getting ready for winter. I got some gas (which is cheaper than I've seen in a long time) for my new snow thrower and started it up for the first time. This monster will be ready for the worst that New England can send my way. Yep, the hoses are shut off, the grill is in the garage, the deck furniture is taken in... I'm getting ready.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Other than the vomit, my life has revolved around Gary's pee and poop, essentially trying to ensure that he does none of the above in the house. To his credit, he's been VERY good about doing his business outside. In fact, aside from one accident (which in retrospect, he was pacing around quite a bit), all his #1 and #2 have been in the yard. He really likes leaf-piles. He's still mostly petrified of just about everything, but I'm working on expanding his little world. In fact, Luna is teaching him how to hop up on our bed. I had nothing to do with that, but I did have my 2MP digital camera in the Blackberry to capture the violation. The phone/camera has come in handy to capture the puppy action as I don't have one of my other cameras in hand all the time. (I'm not that much of a dork). Well, almost.
In any event, our first week of having a new puppy is going well so far. If I could just get him to stop being SO AFRAID of everything...
Sunday, November 16, 2008
See more here.
The lovable Luna has had an appetite for seat belts. She chewed through about three pairs in Jean's old car, and over time, I got to be an expert at changing them out. It would be amazing how much damage she could do in a minute... anyway, I bought the first couple through the Ford dealer--$$OUCH$$, but then I got smart and started buying them online through used parts dealers (that's a classier way of saying junk yard).
So, a couple of weeks ago, when Luna chewed through the seat belts in Jean's father's van, I figured that I'd be able to fix the situation without too much trouble. I was able to get the seat belts online with much trouble, and they arrived in about a week--a duration of time that had Jean's father driving around with his seat belts tied in knots. I was so confident in my skills, that I offered to install the new seat belts after work one day. Hah. My first obstacle was the fact that I'd have to remove the seats to get the interior molding out. Hmmmm... fun. Well, removing seats is only loosening some bolts. I can do that. Two seats, eight bolts.
Seven of the eight were cooperative, although not totally. I had to do some contortionist maneuvers to get a couple of them off, but they yielded to my ratchet wrench. And then there was one. The last nut was a collection of rust atoms loosely held together by moisture. With the first turn of the socket, I felt the nut go round, and I poured pure rust on to the ground. After much swearing, more contortionist moves, longer ratchet arms, and a smaller socket that was hammered on, victory was mine.
That "simple" project took almost 3hrs. Fun. And all the while, Luna watched with a smirk.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Luna and I stayed at our friend Jo's house. She's got a great B&B pretty close to the trails and over years we've become friends (I stayed there for 6 weeks while in PA school). Anyway, Saturday night involved pizza and beer and then I was asleep. I awoke Sunday morning to temps in the low 20's... 21 degrees F to be exact. DAMN, that's cold.
Fortunately, Ron and Todd were running a bit late so the temps warmed up to perhaps the 40's by the time we hit the trail.
The group consisted of me, Ron Salb, Todd Roberts, and Rob & Renee Bousquet. We started off down near East Burke Sports--that would give us a killer climb in the beginning, rather than at the end. We climbed up the road and hit all the good stuff--Coronary Bypass, Tap & Die, Webs, Old Webs, SideWinder, Heaven's Bench... and I got lots of it on video! I'm going to process the video later on and post 'em on YouTube. For now, take this footage of Webs...
Saturday, October 11, 2008
- 1. NOT fall on the hands
- 2. Get a good work-out in
- 3. Finish higher than the place I started in
I also wanted to shoot some helmet cam video footage, which I did, however, the point of view didn't come out so well. I knew how to position the camera perfectly on my other helmet, but I didn't even think that I'd have a problem with a different helmet. I didn't have a problem per se, but I had to position the mount a little differently. I thought I had adjusted the angle of the camera appropriately, but as you can see, it was pointed down a tad too much. Oh well. Practice makes perfect. This video is the first lap of the race...You may be able to hear me wheezing over the music...
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Here's the deal for me... I flew over the bars, slid on my hands and elbows on the pavement for a bit (no gloves!), and decided to bleed for a bit. I limped the final mile home, and thanks to Jean's urging, made sure not to bleed on anything in the house. Oy! We cleaned and dressed my wounds and the next morning the wonderful nurses at Beverly Hospital finished the job. I've been dutiful in my wound care, keeping them clean, covered, and moist, all to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. In fact, with my hands wrapped correctly, and covered in good gloves, I can even hold handlebars!
Okay, so here's what happened. Somehow, the lockring on the rear cassette backed out/loosened up, allowing the smallest cogs to come off the splined freehub body of the rear hub. Unfortunately, this didn't happen slowly... it happened SUDDENLY, and while I was cranking up a short hill in the big ring. The sudden loss of resistance from the rear wheel flung my weight forward and put me off balance enough to result in my graceful splat. C'mon epidermis, grow!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This race was in Londonderry, NH, and it was a mix of pavement, grass and trails. Here's how it went down: The race started with a half lap on a paved oval track followed by a hard left turn with a short little uphill that lead into the woods. This small hill had good line in the middle but was soft on the sides. It was rideable with a good approach but would be a run-up if congested. You then had another left turn, a short downhill trail, then a hard right turn up a steep hill that would definitely need to be run. At the top of that hill, there was a longer trail section that was fairly fast with very little in the way of techincal obstacles. After a short rise, the trail turned right and went down a steep hill with a near hairpin turn at the bottom, followed by a soft uphill that again would need to be run up. At the top, the trail was slightly off-camber but easily rideable. A few twists and turns and you were out of the woods and on to some flat grass areas riddled with caution tape and 180-degree turns.
We were then directed up a short, steep, soft hill that again had to be run up. At the top, we were greeted with a short stretch of sand that was also best to be run. After that, we crossed the pavement and went into the infield of the track. A couple of twists and turns, and two sets of barriers later and we were back at the start and ready for another lap.
I got a good start but I was NOT comfortable with the speed and closeness of the other riders as we were rocketing from the pavement into the woods. We were "criterium" racer close and that's not something I'm accustomed to. That's not really come up for me in other 'cross races I've done and it's certainly not something I'm used to from mountain bike races. I backed off and that put me back many places. Once in the woods, I was further hampered by a small stick that caught a ride in my derailleur. I knew I had abandoned derailleurs on my other bikes for a reason! I lost probably almost a full minute as I unwound the vine-like stick from my cogs and derailleur, and I'm pretty sure I was at the back of the pack. Damn. From there, the rest of my race was uneventful, and I slowly worked at moving back up through the ranks.
I think I finished around 15th out of nearly 30. Not great, but that's racing. Thanks to Tom Merrill for the pics!
Tragedy struck when Doug stepped wrong on the air compressor hose and rolled his ankle. I administered a quick evaluation using the Ottawa Ankle Rule, and decided that an X-ray was not needed. Ice, elevation, compression and NSAIDs were also quickly administered and Mike and I got back to hammering. It was slow-going, but we eventually got the job done and Mike was even kind enough to let me fill the back of his truck with as much concrete debris as would fit.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Check out this little story from Cyclingnews.com to see why I used the word "fortunately" so much:
Czech triathlete and Olympic bronze medallist, Jan Rehula, suffered one of the worst possible consequences of a seat breakage after a training accident in Sydney recently. 27 year old Rehula hit a pothole, snapped his seat, was gouged in the rear by his seat post and lost two litres of blood.
He has so far had two operations and has internal damage in his lower back. His start in the Hawaii Ironman triathlon in October is in doubt, but his spokesman said that he was quite positive that he will be able to resume his career.
Yikes! I'll stick to metals...
Monday, September 8, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
First, a word (or more) about the weather. Friday night, as Doug and I were trying to load the car up, we had thunder and lightning in biblical proportions. I haven't seen weather like that in a long time. That delayed our departure by quite a while and we had patchy rain and fog the whole drive up. I opted to grab a hotel on the way up rather than set up camp in the dark and in the rain. We had some more light rain Saturday morning, but, miraculously, the rain stopped just before the race started and we had clear skies all the way through until the race ended Sunday. THEN, however, while many racers were still sitting/eating/drinking/recovering, the skies opened up again with torrential downpours and hail. Fortunately, Doug had started our packing process while I was out for my last lap, so our gear was all packed up just as the first drops started to fall. That rain continued intermittently on the way home, even forcing me to stop because visibility was zero just beyond my dashboard.
Now, the course. Check out the GPS data here. In total, I did 7 laps for a total of about 8400ft of climbing. The race had to be modified because of all of the rain/mud and a couple of sections were cut. There was still more than enough mud to go around though. In my mind, there were two distinct types of trails in the race--fast, SMOOTH fireroads, and muddy, gnarly walking sections; with only some sections that were rideable singletrack. The course also changed throughout the race as well, with some sections getting worse, some getting better. I don't know if it was "fun," but the scenery was spectacular. I was going to go out after the race and take some pics, but the hail was sort of a buzz-kill.
And finally, here's the race report. The race started with a 1/2 mile run (why?) around a pond before we grabbed our bikes. I wanted to take it easy on the run--this isn't a sprint--but I was being beat by a guy in an Elvis costume and a guy in a viking helmet, so I picked up the pace a bit. My heart rate hit the 170's and didn't let up. After getting on the bike, we crossed the road to a switchback climb on the appropriately named Blueberry Hill. Clogged with riders, this became a walk, and after a quick downhill, we were back across the road to the main part of the course.
As I said before, I was either riding as fast as I could on the smooth fireroads or slogging through deep mud, pushing/carrying the bike. Rob and I switched off lap for lap with no big problems for several hours. I went out for my 5th lap (a night lap, with lights in full effect), and trouble started. I got through about 80% of the lap before I had some leg cramps threaten to bring me down, but I was still moving, then I got a spasm in my back that took my breath away. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to walk, it hurt to oxidize carbohydrates. I had a similar problem on a run a few weeks ago, and that took almost a week of NSAIDs and other treatments to resolve. I honestly didn't think I'd even be able to walk out of the woods to finish the lap. Of course, the truly painful part was the realization in the back of my mind at how meaningless my pain was. Oh well, it still hurt. Anyway, I limped out of the woods, slowly rolled in to the end of the lap and told Rob the bad news--I thought I was done.
I got back to my car, and because I couldn't even think about crawling down to the ground to sleep in my tent, I slept in the Element. Believe it or not, it was fairly comfortable. I pumped myself full of medications and fluids, and tried to sleep it off. I woke up at about 5:00am and the pain was still there but not as bad. I walked over to the main tent and found that, surprisingly, even with our break, we were still in 2nd place. Rob got up shortly after and went out for another lap. By the time he got back, I had loosened up enough to feel like I could go out again. I was able to keep the spasm in check and we were able to pull a total of four more laps in on Sunday to secure second place. Pay no attention to the fact that there were a total of 3 teams in the two-man singlespeed division. Ignore that fact.
I kept myself full of ibuprofen and had the heating pad on my back for the whole drive home.
It was good to hang out with everyone--Rob Bousquet, Renee Bousquet, Dan Walsh, Todd Roberts, Mike Deak, Ron Salb, and Doug Salb, and it was VERY helpful to have Doug provide support/assistance. THANKS!
I also have to thank Jamie at Western Cycle for all of my last-minute bike needs, Mike Lawless for letting me borrow his Rig as a back-up parts bike (not needed), and to Trek/Gary Fisher for getting me a replacement eccentric bottom bracket at the last minute. In the days leading up to the race, I wanted to "fix" something on my bike, I made it worse, and I freaked.
The bike is happy now, although it is completely disassembled. Just about all of the laundry has been done, and almost all of my stuff is back where it belongs. Next up, some cyclocross races this fall and the Stonecat Trail marathon... Yee ha!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I still have plenty of preparation ahead of me before I'm ready to head north too. This is my first week at a new job--which is great, but I'm basically heading home each night and trying to organize and pack gear. Here's tentative list:
- helmet (2)
jerseys (up to 10)
shorts (up to 10)
socks (up to 10 pr)
cycling shoes (3)
first aid kit
Gatorade (liquid and powder)
kenda 10x10 tent
Rig (that's my bike)
D440 (that's a back-up bike)
cycling lights (all & charged), including blinking red lights
bike wash materials
And, I might be bringing my friend Doug who has graciously offered to give up his weekend to help out (and to watch me suffer).
So much packing and preparation--why am I doing this? Stay tuned...
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I’m a total convert to the 29er wheel platform, and I’ve committed myself to this totally by making my “bike of choice” for trail riding my 29er singlespeed hardtail.
Anyway, as if the inherent characteristics of the bikes weren’t cool enough, I had the frames custom modified by a frame builder in Pennsylvania (Bilenky) so that the frames can easily be split into two pieces for packing/traveling. The amazing thing is that you can fit a complete bike into a suitcase that the airlines will take WITHOUT charging you the $100-$150 (each way) extra surcharge. My bike isn’t assembled yet, but every review I’ve read about the S&S couplers states that you absolutely can NOT tell that the frame is two pieces screwed together. Jean rode her bike and had no complaints. I’ll keep you posted.