Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Talk a Lot of Wind

Wind, it's not good for anything. It serves no natural purpose whatsoever. This is a scientific fact. You can't dispute it, unless you look it up in a book or Google it, but who would want to do that? It's like looking up reasons why Hitler was really not such a bad guy after all. Wind = As bad as Hitler = Irrefutable scientific fact.

I didn't like it when I used to Skateboard, it messed up my kick flips, made me smack my shins, totally pissed me off. It was blasting a steady 20-25mph this morning, with sustained gusts up to 40mph. The gusts stopping me almost dead, that's no fun for anyone. Maybe if I took a sailboat to work I would like the wind. If I owned a sailboat it would be a good indicator that I had stopped working at the bike shop, gotten a "Real Job" where I made lots and lots of serious money, probably so much money that I could stop working permanently, sell my sailboat, and go buy more bikes and ride them in strange and scary places.

It's like that Jimmy Hendrix song; "and the wind cries...Fuck You!". I heard it, it really did, several times today. The wind is a dick.

Speaking of crappy, overplayed classic rock songs my Freehub was a-knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door today. Not a good sign. It's been skippy lately, then it started with knocking. If I don't entirely blow the thing tomorrow on the way to work and crack my sternum on my stem it will be a minor miracle. Better my sternum than my nuts, but in a situation like that you rarely get a choice.

I broke my camera a couple weeks back, quite a few weeks back actually. The wet weather during the Turkey Burner the rusty nail in it's water logged coffin. I'm happy if one of those things lasts a year, electronic devices and I don't get along. My posts feel naked without the photos. I should do something about that.

I did ride my mountain bike to work again. It's kind of addictive, I like having the freedom to go wherever I want, being able to play around, and not have to worry about dying on some pot hole.

Hang on, it's going to be a long winter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finding Motivation...

to get off my fat ass and ride today was difficult, but I had help. I was lying on the couch reading about Waterproof Digital Cameras (I find that shit fascinating) when I should have been out the door and on my bike. I was playing the dangerous game of not eating breakfast and thinking that I would ride for a couple hours then get back and feast. Problem was, as it often is, I was procrastinating horribly and my stomach was already growling.

Then the guy called Todd Downs called. He wanted to go for a mountain bike ride, with the amount of snow we'd gotten recently and the ridiculous temperature of 60° I knew the woods would be sloppy. I didn't want to spend an hour cleaning my bike after the ride, I had other appointments. I'm a lazy man. Todd informed me that he was watching The Superprestige Race in Diegem. I'm a luddite, I had no idea you could do such a thing.

After a few minutes fiddling around trying to download a new Flash player and a newer version of Stuffit Expander to open the installer (all the while being tortured by Todd who was describing the last few minutes of an awesome race over the phone) I had the race up on my screen. Sweet. Luckily that was the last race of the day and I was up and dressed within ten minutes, ready to hit the road, only I couldn't decide what to ride. I have big problems.

Eventually I decided on The Ferrous and actually left my house to ride my bike, a-freakin-mazing. I think I hate riding my road bike, because on a day like today my M.O. would be to ride out as far as I could tolerate and then turn back, hopefully not into a headwind. The difference between riding my road bike or Fixed Gear was immediately apparent. I was jumping into snow banks, hopping over crap, having a good time. Road bikes are dumb. Anyone want to buy a DeRosa? It's got full, clapped out Ultegra 9 Speed on it, it's mint and tit, it's Minty Tit.

So I rode out the totally sick Minuteman bike path. That's almost not a joke. Once past Arlington center patches of snow and ice appeared, making it kinda tricky. Some of the ice was all knobbelly, if it wasn't just a little bit melty you could lay it down at any moment. I would hit a snow patch and pretend I was Jonathan Page cleaning the sand pit in Diegem, trying to pedal smooth and strong, my hands not even touching the brakes. If I went down I would slide it out. Somehow I never did eat it. Next time.

I would take off down trails on the side, my 36 X17 which was so spinny on the road suddenly an enormous gear to push through the mud and the snow and the slush. At one point I had the brilliant idea to run when I couldn't ride anymore. I am out of shape, this was not fun, I ceased this abhorrent behavior quickly.

At the end of the ride I was pretty damn stoked. It's been hard for me to get out there after my long break. Riding on the road around these parts straight up sucks this time of year, but I'm a-raring to get back out on The 29er. Beats the trainer any day.

The photo at the top of the post was not from today, it is from about six years ago, I just happened to dig it up. Good times, crazy days.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm Putting These Cyclists on My Psycho-List

I live right next to Route 16/ Mystic Valley Parkway, at least once or twice a week I see someone on a bike riding down the thing. It completely freaks me out. For those of you who know that road, you know it's a bad idea to ride on it (Unless you are an idiot). Every semi-urban area must have a road like this. It's high speed, winding, two lanes in either direction, but really only wide enough for a lane in each direction. If you get stuck behind an octogenarian it effectively becomes a one lane road. Every tree along the side of the road bears scars from being hit by cars or snow plow multiple times.

I am all for standing up for your rights as a Cyclist, I am personally guilty of holding my ground when I am legally entitled to at great risk to my well being, but riding on this road, while technically legal makes as much sense as a car driving down the sidewalk. It is not legal to ride your bike on route 2 or The Mass Turnpike but it would be safer to do that than to ride on Route 16 between Fresh Pond and 93. At least there's a breakdown lane on those roads.

A couple times I have actually pulled up along side people riding on 16 and told them "Hey, it is not a good idea to ride on this road" (in so many words). Do you think they said "Hey thanks buddy, I'll take that to heart"? No, they responded much like I would if someone offered me unsolicited advice while I was riding my bike. More F Bombs than a Scorsese movie.

One could argue that there is no other direct route between Fresh Pond and Medford Square.
Yes, and the most direct route from the 43rd floor of a skyscraper to the street is jumping out the window.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Heart Iglehearts

Miriam's Igleheart is finished. This is, quite honestly the most I've enjoyed building up a bike ever. It is both utilitarian and astonishingly beautiful. It is a Super-Commuter, a fixed gear with front and rear disc brakes. Thanks to Chris Rowe for the slick paint.

The bike is built around Surly's Fixxer, it converts a regular freehub to a threaded fixed hub and does it in an aesthetically pleasing way. I respaced a Shimano XT hub to 130mm. Mounting it can be tricky if you are building up a new wheel, I recommend mounting an old disc rotor to the hub, clamping that in the vice and tightening it that way. Otherwise it will be tough to apply enough torque to the thing.

The Honjo Koken fenders are a pain in the frickin' arse to mount, but so worth it you can't actually calculate how worth it it is.

We wanted to build a bike which was a fixed gear (not to be confused with a "Sweet Fixie") with dual disc brakes. Not normal I suppose. The rear dropouts are Paragon sliders, they allow the relationship between the Disc Caliper and the rotor to remain constant while tensioning the chain. The caliper mount and the dropout are on the same piece of stainless steel which slides in a slot. There are two rear facing tensioning bolts with locknuts thrown in for good measure. I used this system on my Independent Single Speed, I had problem zero with it. The advantage over an EBB other than weight is that when you tension your chain you don't effect your fit on the bike. It is more finicky getting the tension correct but once you got it, it's going to hold adjustment.

The Component Breakdown:

- Frame and Fork: Custom Christopher Igleheart Steel
- Fenders: Honjo Koken 45mm
- Crank: White Industries Eno 170mm
- Rear Hub : XT converted to Fixed Hub With Surly Fixxer
- Front Hub: White Industries MI5 Disc
- Seatpost: Thomson Elite
- Stem: Thomson Elite X2
- Rims: Dt Swiss X470 29"
- Brakes: Avid BB7 Road Disc
- Brake Levers: Cane Creek ScR-5
- Headset: Cane Creek s-8
- Tires: Jack Brown 33.5
- Water Bottle Cages: http: King
- Handlebar: Bontrager Fit VR OS
- Wrap: Fizik Microtex
- Saddle: Selle Italia LDY GelFlow

Christopher calls these Disc Brake hose guides "Alien Ears", I 'm loving the new logo on the fork leg.

Silver was the theme.

Enjoy it while it lasts, this bike won't be looking this clean for very much longer. It is designed to be a beast of burden. Like a pack Unicorn.

Surly 17t cog mated with a White 38t chainring, the chain is a Sram PC991 3/32 9 Speed chain. Don't get me started on 1/8 drivetrains. Seriously, I try to be nice but it's hard sometimes.

Brown and Light Blue, it's the new red and black.

Chris' Cable stop placement allowed for some very clean routing, these things make me happy.

Paragon Sliders so very nicely integrated into the frame.

White Cranks, yes they are square taper, which was plenty good enough for Magnus Backstedt and Tom Boonen pre-Campy-Ultra Torque. The chainring which mounts to a spline on the center of the crank arm with a lockring allows you to have a perfectly round and smooth drivetrain with absolutely uniform chain tension. With no chainring bolts to loosen up on you. White makes some gorgeous stuff.

What else can I say? Except I want one too.


I like my fenders like I like to spend my Saturday nights...hammered.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Got a Fever...and The Only Prescription is Less Cow Bell (Until Next Year...Maybe)

The alternate title for this post was "Losfer Words", because I am at a loss for words over the positive reviews our silly, little Ice Weasels race is getting. I was amazed at the attendance and support, amazed that it went well, hell, I was amazed we pulled it off at all. So I'm going to do this one photo-caption style and see what happens.

There Will Be Mud...or will there be? I thought so after the two days of rain and crazy weather. On Friday there was standing water throughout parts of the course, my car was sinking deep into the back field. Incredibly everything froze solid but not before the pools of water drained off, leaving the course firm but not icy. By the end of the day Saturday there was just one small muddy area.

What I thought was going to be a huge pile of mud run up a la Igorre after the single barrier near the street turned into a gnarled mess the consistency of asphalt. I apologize to Cathy Rowell's bruised feet.

Friday Linnea and Colin came out to do final course set up, I was blown away by how it came together. It was starting to look like we had a Cross race on our hands.

Being the anxious mess that I was leading up to the race I dragged Miriam out of bed at 5AM to head down to Wrentham for the final prep. I found out that it isn't light out at that time of "day".

The registration shed was quiet at that point, but it wouldn't be for long. Racers would start showing up before 7:30AM.

The sun came up like a light switch was thrown and the temperature continued to rise well past the predicted 26° high.

Todd Downs from Mavic was one of the first on the scene. The fact that he was lending neutral support to this race was ridiculous, but I appreciated the hell out of it, and man that car looked good sitting out in the field.

Jon Lewis from Saris/Cyclops showed up as well to set up a trainer warm up station in the barn adding even more undue legitimacy to this event. Big thanks to Jon, I think folks really liked this feature.

One element of the event which I was most freaked out about was parking. Due to the limited space we were dealing we had no other option than to park folks on the other side of 1A just a couple miles from the Wrentham Outlets. This is a fast stretch of a fast road where people speed habitually. What I didn't count on was one of the most loathsome aspects of human behaviour working in our favor - The Curiosity Factor. People slowed down to see why there were a ton of cars parked in a normally open field. This allowed for safe crossing to the venue.

I heard early grumblings about there being "So many turns" and "is that maze part of the course a joke?" I waited to hear more reviews as the bulk of the pre-riders went out. The reviews became more positive.

For the riders that wanted a course with a really big frickin' tree in the middle of it there was no need to travel all the way to Kansas City. Their tree was bigger but so was their venue.

We did have a trombone player and nobody got punched in the head. Can't say the latter about Nats.

Todd had one of the colder spots on the course, on the wrong side of the tree-stand wind-break. He didn't seem to mind. During the race I went to check on him, he had just done a wheel change on a single speed. I'm willing to bet he didn't have to do that at The Tour De France.

My brother in law, Tom Sneed and his partner Tim dalton were there representing their Kettle Popcorn company T.T. Buds. Their unofficial slogan is "It's The Crack". This statement has been uttered independently by many giddy customers including myself.

Kerry Combs was dishing up Mimosas and Waffles for Hup United adding more awesomeness and atmosphere to the event. The Waffle Feeds were over the top.

My cousin Christy and her partner Christian run an organic farm on the property, she was nice enough to let people ride their bikes all over the place, wrecking her stuff. She also served up some wicked good food.

Alex built a magnificent tower of cupcakes.

The Cambridge Bike contingent was in full effect, handing out beer feeds and making tons of ruckus up on the hill. Their rider Dave Wilcox put on a good show, leading the race for many laps in his silver shark suit.

Some of the early course surveyors. They seemed skeptical.

Dave Foley, yes it wasn't 26°, but it was hardly over 30°, he was wearing shorts. Awesomeness generates it's own heat source.

And that's a fine looking gear.

My sister Julie and cousin Hannah. Neither of them had ever done a bike race before. They figured the middle of winter was a good time to start.

My only real action shot. This is Jeremy Dunn (I think) on the run up at the back of the field. See the photo links below for real photos.

Figuring that the race wasn't dangerous and exciting enough we decided to unleash a really big dog to chase the riders. Only one guy was partially eaten, his missing bits should grow back, he just needs to eat a lot of protein.

THANKS! So many people to thank for making this thing happen. The family and friends: Colin and Linnea for coming up with the idea itself, doing course construction, timing, results, and all sorts of other stuff that I have no clue about. My Grandmother, Mary Alice Raymond who provided the venue, this could not have happened without her. Christy, Christian, Ann N., Ann R., Bill, Will, Hannah, Pickles, Eliot, Elizabeth, David, Miriam, Auntie Neil, My Mom, My Dad, Dan Meyer, My Sister, Noah, Lyla.

Special thanks to Todd Downs from Mavic and Jon Lewis from Saris/Cycleops for their crazy support and JD Bilodeau for supplying a make believe Cross Race with real course supplies.

Thanks to our officials Christian Constantino, Marka Wise, and John Laupheimer (who waived his fee).

The IBC Team: Hannah, John L., George, Julie, John F., Marvin, C Todd, Giulia, oh and Colin and Linnea again for good measure.

Thanks to the guys from the shop who helped this thing happen as well. Bryan for helping with barrier construction, Jason for coming out on two occasions to help with course building (once in the cold rain), Chris A. for the photo work, Gregg and Craig and IBC for providing the event with funding and prizes.

And thanks to all the people who came out and made this thing rock. I drove my self half-batty getting things together and ended up sick as a dog during and afterward, but seeing how stoked people were on the race made it all worth it. Who knows, we may have to do it again next year.


My photos are really just establishing shots, if you want to see some great photos of the event, got to these places:

Some super-cool shots:

Huge gallery:

These are from NEMBA President Philip Keyes, good stuff:

These from a first time Cross racer:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I know it's Weird but...
I'm Living Vicariously Through Colin Rooter

After taking what has effectively amounted to a two months off from racing (not counting my high-paced tour of The Pisgah) spectating at The Verge NBX in Rhode Island was shear torture Sunday. I've had my break, I've de-tuned my body to the point that it doesn't even resemble the instrument it was in late September. It looks and sounds like one of Pete Townsend's early guitars post-smashing. Basically I was ready to jump back in the ring Sunday...mentally. Physically I would have faired as well as De La Hoya did against Pacquiao last Saturday night.

Fortunately I got to watch Colin killing it in the 2/3s which was almost as good as being out there myself, with significantly less drooling. He's got the long version of the story over on his blog, this is my jealousy-ridden recap.

The snow began to fall lightly as about seventy 2/3 men lined up near to the Icy waters of Greenwich bay for the final installment of The New England Verge Series.

Just a couple laps in Colin and CCB rider John "Baahn-Yaahd" (As Steve Pucci calls him) Bernhard had isolated themselves between the three leaders and a large chasing group of maybe ten guys. I've spent my fair share of time butting heads and locking antlers with John, he is one of my absolute favorite competitors. John, if you're reading - let's coordinate so we end up doing all the same mountain bike races this season OK? I'd like that, I'd like that a lot.

At one point the chase group being driven by Cambridge Bike/Embrocation's Jeremy Dunn began to close down the gap to Colin and John. Dunn's efforts shattered the group though, weakening the chase, Dunn would continue to close it down himself.

Here Colin, in serious racer mode ignores a Brownie Hand Up. It was no more than thirty degrees out there, John is wearing shorts. He is a tough sumbitch.

As Dunn was bearing down on the two riders Colin made his move, breaking away from Bernhard and actually closing down the gap to the leaders. James Patterson who would go on to win was surging but the other two leaders were falling apart faster than Ikea furniture. I yelled at Colin "You are LITERALLY going twice as fast as the leaders and you're drooling!". Due to his efforts and bad luck on the part of one of the guys in front he did overtake them, rolling across the line in 2nd place. I was impressed.

It's great when the guy you're rooting for does the awesome thing you want him to do and comes out on top. It's a good feeling, probably not as good as the feeling of actually doing the awesome thing yourself, but it's all I got right now.

Colin's bike, a Ridley X-Fire. As part of my vicarious Cross-Life I actually build and maintain Colin's bikes. Yes it's my job and as an Elite rider for IBC he gets free service. I also do his laundry and wash his car...when he lets me. He's really nice that way.

Post race Colin gives Linnea "Pro Tips".

"So ya, when the race starts ride up that thing over there REALLY FAST"
"That thing over there Colin?"
"Yes, now let's both point at the thing we are speaking of so that we are sure that we are both speaking of the same thing"

Linnea has also been killing it out there this season, busting into the top ten at UCI races on several occasions. She would be 9th on the day in Rhode Island. She'll be moving on next season, riding for October Bikes. She's getting a really good ride with them, she's earned it, she is an awesome rider, an excellent person, and a great ambassador of the sport.

(Shh, don't tell Colin but I'm really proud of him too)

Oh, did I mention that I'm Co-Promoting a Cyclocross Race called The Ice Weasels Cometh?
It's this Saturday, registration numbers are looking good and the weather is supposed to be awesome. Hope to see you there.