Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm going flat...

I decided that drop bars are NOT for me. With about 30yrs of bike riding experience, and the VAST majority of that with BMX or mountain bike handlebars, I'm going with a flat bar on the 'cross bike. I tried the drop bars, and I just didn't like the hoods, and riding on the flats was too narrow. I can deal with it on my road bike, but I didn't feel that I could be aggressive enough on the 'cross bike.

Spoiled Dog

With my new job, I'm able to greatly reduce the amount of driving I do. I love the fact that I get to ride my bike! I've been working on using my bike as transportation for more and more of life's obligations, including revitalizing my cargo trailer (thanks to the ability to use B.O.B. components with a discontinued Yakima trailer). Of course, as a dog owner, I still need to occasionally transport the mutt to the vet, the groomers (I'll gladly pay to have someone cut her nails), or to some of Luna's favorite beaches and parks. I had, at one time, tried to convert a baby bicycle trailer for dog use, but it didn't work very well, and I sold it to someone with a human baby. I was thinking about tackling that project again, but a quick Google search helped me find that there were actually several products specifically designed for dog trailers. I located a DoggyRide trailer, and after a long wait, it finally arrived last week. I haven't had time to take Luna very far, only a quick inaugural ride around the block. But, it seemed like she liked it, or at least tolerated it without freaking out.

After a few more short rides I'll start taking her to the park and what not, and then she'll associate the trailer with fun just like she associates the car with fun. And the best part is that this will mean less dog hair in my car!

New England Velo Cross Challenge

So I had my first cyclocross race of the season this past weekend. I sufferred for a bit but it was fun. And I do love the fact that there are plenty of races within an hour or so from home. That means I can get a race in and usually be home around noon... Much different from the all-day committments of most mountain bike races (although, I do love mtb racing).

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!

Take Down that Wall!

We recently had our retaining wall totally re-done, and it came out awesome. Our mason was Brian Rodriguez, who took LONGER than expected, but he did a really good job. The next phase is to start working on the walkway to the front and back doors. As with EVERYTHING with our house, this is a much bigger project than anyone would anticipate. Our mason had a really tough time breaking up the concrete wall that was there previously, so I took it upon myself to remove the walkway.

I recruited my good friend, Mike Lawless, who has access to truly manly tools, and Doug Salb, who likes to be around manly tools. Mike rolled up with a giant compressor/trailer on the back of his truck with a 90-lb jack hammer and a 60-lb jack hammer. He also brought the rain, because as soon as we got everything plugged in, the precipitation started to fall. With safety glasses and gloves in place, we started the laborious process of chipping away at the bomb-shelter quality concrete.

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.

We now have a massive pit that welcomes people to our home… let’s hope the walkway gets done soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Willowdale State Forest Rocks!

I'm really impressed with the amount of singletrack in Willowdale State Forest. It seems like each time I go out there I find more and more. I thought I had a pretty good handle on most of it when I took Doug on a convoluted tour this past Friday, however, we found our way on to a killer, long, twisty climb followed by smooth, rolling singletrack. Hell yeah! My mission now is to ride every trail I can find with my GPS, and then superimpose the digital trail data onto the park trail map (which does NOT have most of the good stuff shown). Of course, this is just an excuse for me to "geek-out" with the techno-gadgets, but I will have a cool map when I'm done!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


This *could* have been painful... my carbon fiber seatpost broke off, at the frame, while seated and going over a bump (actually a pot-hole). Fortunately, I caught myself as soon as I had the falling sensation, and fortunately there were no sharp protrusions, and fortunately I was able to remove the stub from the frame, and fortunately I had a good, reliable Thomson post that I could use as a replacement. Whew.

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

The 29'er Revolution

Plenty of people have strong opinions about 29'er mountain bikes. Personally, I'm a convert. I may never ride a 26-inch wheeled mountain bike again. Heck, I even got some brake post converters that enable me to run 29'er wheels (700c) on a standard mountain bike frame (only with cyclocross tires because of clearance issues, but that's okay with me)--With that conversion complete, I've only got one other 26-inch mtb in my stable, and that's been collecting dust--partly because of the small wheels and partly because it's encumbered with 26 more gears than I really want to deal with. There are plenty of reasons to love or hate 29-inch mtb wheels, but when I ran across this photo of me riding a standard 26-inch mountain bike (with a 20-inch frame no less), I realized that I could never go back... it looks like I'm riding a BMX bike!