Monday, March 24, 2008

Let's Move to The Country

Above: Remnants of a weird-ass lost civilization.

Got out for an actual non-commute related road ride this past sunday on an actual non-single speed type new De Rosa "UD". Geared road, I say Road bikes are faster than non-geared road bikes. No one can argue that. They also don't beat down your "Bonchial Region" like riding a Zebra across the Serengeti bareback. Which a fixed gear ridden on New England roads does. It's a 900 gram frame but it's built up with borrowed parts and things I found lying around my basement. I used a washing machine belt instead of a chain, it's awesome. It weighs about 18Lbs. Oh, but that vintage medley of Ultegra 9 speed and Shimano 600 is so sweet. I'm a "9 Speeder".

Above: The UD in Dover Center.
A guy drove by in a BMW SUV and yelled "Hey Faggot, get some Record Ten Speed on that thing!".

Above: So much beauty in rust.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Just received the email below from Mark Dionne, one of the organizers of the great Wednesday night Dover Time Trial series . This is a road that I frequent as do many of my teammates. Motorists harassing and threatening recreational cyclists without provocation is unacceptable.
Yes I have regular incidents involving crackhead drivers, but I am out commuting through congested areas at rush hour every day, one might say I'm asking for it. People out spinning around Dover are not asking for it, they should be able to have a peaceful, incident free ride. It will be a fine day when the law recognizes any threatening behavior by a driver as assault with a deadly weapon on par with brandishing a gun. I'd use a baseball bat analogy but a bat comes up far short of a two ton hunk of steel traveling at forty miles per hour when it comes to lethality.

This also relates to Andy's recent post about a misguided (cough-Understatement-cough!) motorist.

Without further digression, here's Mark's email:

Last June I had an incident with a problem driver on Pine Street in Dover, which is on the Saturday Fitness loop. At the time, I reported it to the Dover Police and told a few people. I just learned of an almost identical incident that happened yesterday with the same car, and I think it's worth warning people about this guy.

Here's my incident:

I was traveling down Pine Street in Dover, heading toward Centre Street on my bicycle. I was going down the hill in the vicinity of Forest St., about 1/4 mile from Centre St. Since I was going down a hill, I was traveling about 25 MPH.

A late model red Jeep (Mass plate "T----P") suddenly pulled in front of me from a driveway on the left, forcing me to brake hard to avoid hitting the vehicle. I hollered out "Hey" loudly to warn the driver, a middle aged man. I saw the driver look in the rear-view mirror, and then he hit his brakes hard, apparently to cause me to collide with the back of his Jeep. I avoided a collision by steering to the left of the Jeep.

From beside the Jeep, I said to the driver "Are you trying to kill me?". The driver responded, "Yes, I'm tired of you homos. You'd better keep off this street." The driver then proceeded very slowly, as if to provoke me to pass him, but I felt threatened by his behavior and I stayed away from him. As far as I know, I never saw this person before that day. I have seen the Jeep in the same driveway many times since then. There is no number on the mailbox.

Yesterday this same person tried to hit a rider with his car in the same vicinity, and the rider is reporting him to the Registry. I am also contacting the Registry. Has anyone else encountered this guy?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dig Like A Naked Mole Rat

Above photos:
Sunset on Quinobeguin Road - I Hate March, luckily I got to drive on this day - Dork - Hemlock Gorge.

Weird thoughts go through my brain when I'm riding sometimes. Been working on seated climbing. Most Bicycling Magazine get fit quick articles will tell you to to "pedal from the hips".
In my vernacular this has become "You can do it put your back in to it - I can do it put your ass into it", these are Ice Cube Lyrics, I find them immensely helpful. "Pedal from the hips" does not accurately describe how to engage the muscle group you are trying to engage on a low cadence climbing effort. You want to pedal from the "gluteus Maximus", i.e. your "ass". Ice Cube is a genius.

Above Photos:
Bear Hill Road Waltham

Another thing I say to myself when I'm climbing or really anytime I'm trying to maximize my pedal stroke efficiency is "Dig like a Naked Mole Rat".

Naked Mole Rats wallow on the floors of their communal bathrooms as a way of imbuing themselves with a scent unique to their colony, but that's not important right now. What is important is that Naked Mole Rats can also burrow through concrete...bad ass. I'm just trying to burrow my way up the water tower hill next to Rt. 2 in Arlington. Sure, you can "throw your knee over the bar", "scrape mud (or poo) off your shoe"...whatever works for you. I like visualizing my feet clawing into the dirt/asphalt, scooping down with force and fluidly coming up and around (sometimes I think about a swimmers stroke here as well) to do it again. I also think about "keeping it all positive" as in all positive engagement throughout the pedal stroke.

Above Photos:
Late sunday afternoon, coming back through Concord

While I'm sharing all these incredibly useful and sane bits of information I might as well share my new diet. Not so much diet as feeding schedule. It developed from doing them there 100 milers. I realized that I ate more during a work day than I did during an eight or nine hour bike race, that's just silly. I hate silliness.

So now I eat in small increments throughout the day, having a snack every couple hours, with the largest single meal being a PB & J, sometimes eaten in sections. I commute by bike both ways to work and have a slightly physically demanding job and this "program" has made me more productive and energetic in general. I do drink way more coffee than I would during a 100 miler but as David Letterman once said "if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever".

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What I am Babbling About...Today

Chocolate milk saved my life. I read a Velonews article a couple years back it wasn't
This Velonews Article but the one I read is mentioned in the linked article. It talks about a study where they basically found that Chocolate milk is as good or better than most recovery drinks on the market. That and as an added bonus you don't gag when you try to drink it.
This is the type of thing you read and then immediately close the subject for debate. I don't care if studies have come out since debunking the whole thing, chocolate milk works for me and that's all I need to know, la, la, la, I'm not listening, the end.
My philosophy is to avoid high-tech sports foods in general until it is absolutely necessary to consume them...that would be raceday. The rest of the time I say stick to peanut butter filled chocolate covered pretzels, Peanut butter and jelly, bananas, cookies, potato chips...anything but some futuristic glop that looks and tastes like something a bird regurgitated in brick form. Now I'm just waiting for the study that proves that pizza, beer, and coffee are essential elements in an athlete's diet. Carmichael advocates the "Caveman Diet". I'm waiting for the "My Dad Diet".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The First Days of Dogtown

So ya, I was just riding through Dogtown up in Gloucester sunday and this rock jumped out in front of me and I was all like "what the F- rock? I am gonna drag you out of the ground and beat you, AAAH!". Oh wait I was mountain biking and nothing that happened spurred anything like commuter rage. It was 100% pure fun with no badness whatsoever...that's mountain biking for ya.

The above photo...Brad going all "Now way Hans Rey". Andy flirting with disaster. Jeff expressing the overwhelming sentiment of the day.

Let them eat rocks/Cold Feet/Air Jeff

Cliche shot/Hike-a-bike/Island Hopping

It was the first MTB ride of the season for me. Borrowed Andy's Igleheart 29 SS.
Can't believe Andy let me borrow his baby, but it was much appreciated, such a nice ride.
This ride made me come to the re-realization that I really like mountain biking. It makes me as happy as a four year old hopped up on pixie sticks and Dr. Pepper doing somersaults in a bouncy castle.

Bouncy Bouncy
Oh such a good time
Bouncy Bouncy
Shoes all in a line
Bouncy Bouncy

-The Mighty Boosh "Bouncy Bouncy"
(thanks Todd)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Cyclingnews article I read recently got me to thinking about training to race single speed mountain bikes exclusively. It had this to say (among other things):

Critics dismiss the application of a fixed-gear trainer to improvement of road bike technique as analogous to practicing on an ostrich as preparation for riding a racehorse. Ideological opponents of the fixie advocate a purist approach. To get good at riding a road bike, ride it.

I don't necessarily agree with the above statement but there may be something to it. Why would I ride a racehorse in preparation for riding an ostrich (or a Magical Unicorn as the case may be)? At one point I asked a highly regarded Cycling coach about "special needs" of single speeders. He told me that he'd put a SSer on basically the same program as any other mountain biker, the only alteration would be to the cadence and force workouts were done at.
Of course I have only had the option of riding my Fixed Gear (not to be confused with sweet fixie) for months now. Maybe I am just trying to kid myself that I am doing the right thing by spinning and grinding my way around the suburbs of Boston day after day. I won't know the answer until I hit the first couple races. The joke will either be on me or the kids sitting indoors, chasing their tails, watching their power meters.
After a month or so of riding the same gear I decided to mix it up, got myself a Surly "Dingle Cog". It's a 17/19t. This way I can do my force and muscular endurance stuff in the 44 X 17t then throw it up on the 19t and either recover on a short ride or go do hills and get a good aerobic workout. Spinning the 44 X 19 at 22 mph (120 RPMs) will make you suck some wind for sure as well.
The Ultrafit article I linked to a while back illustrated the huge discrepancy in power output between geared on non-geared riders at various cadences. So why shouldn't you try to emulate the requirements of riding an SS MTB as much as possible in training? Sure you can try to fake big gear hill climbs on your road bike, then try to force yourself to spin at close to 120 RPM's for long durations, but y'know what? You're not really gonna do it, at least not to the extreme riding a fixed gear will force you to.
In other news, I signed up for this:
Haven't raced my bike that early since I did Sea Otter. Yikes.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Bit The Bridle and The Thrashing Mane

Been working on my pack riding skills a lot. Yup, everyday I ride to work with a twelve plus pound pack. I figure it's like having a pretty good beer gut going, only with the advantage of being able to drop the extra weight more quickly. It feels like the gravitational pull of the earth just let up slightly when you do. Someone should do a study. Maybe it's like what adventure racers call "Brick Work". The term for what I do wouldn't be nearly so catchy. It would have to be called "Peanut butter and Jelly, Apple, Yogurt, banana, breakfast burritos, pants, shirt, drawers, and other assorted, work".

In the above photo the faceplate on my stem appears with the logo oriented correctly although the photo is upside down. The only reason I ever flipped my faceplates was to annoy anal retentive roadie types who spend more time looking at their bikes than riding them. I didn't realize it actually served a purpose...when taking upside down photos. nipples on men.

I've finally figured out an awesome (relative term) route to work, and sometimes I get to see things like this:

Rode with other folks for the first time in a long time today. IBCer Julie, her boyfriend John, and C Todd. We even picked up a friend along the way, a guy named Jim from Quad Cycles. He was a pleasant guy who insisted on buying me a coffee at True Grinds after the ride. Aces in my book.

After the ride and the post ride coffee M and I hit Soundbites. If I didn't ride bikes I would be a sumo wrestler in no time fat, uh I mean flat.