Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Hoops, there it is!"

Hoping to give myself some direction for the build I have landed on a fixed gear/single gear setup. Thus, I made a trip to the co-op for some subsidized purchases.
I really wanted to set my aluminum frame up this way instead of my new Pake, steel frame but the aluminum has vertical drop outs (don't really like the look of a tensioner). I bought two Alex hoops, and a rear hub to suit and will spend the day tomorrow once again building a rear wheel.

 It's a deep-V hub so that's a first.  I heard they're a bit more frustrating.  Guess we'll see.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mech Woes

I used more liquid wrench today than may be legal in Ontario.  I certainly used more than enough to necessitate opening the garage door before I succumbed to the fumes.  I used a lot - and when I say 'a lot' ... well, you get the idea.
I hosed down my bike last week and I was too exhausted to clean it properly (including lube and grease) and I am paying for that.  This is a lesson I shall not forget and hopefully not repeat.
Parts of my bike are ruined.
The other part of the equation is the frustration at trying to make it right.
First my crank-puller stripped. Come on!
Then, I noticed that my repair stand seemed to be pulling apart.  I don't know if this will affect its overall performance, but I guess I'll eventually find out.
You can see where this joint is uneven because it is beginning to bend under the weight of my bicycle.

I couldn't ride last week because of all this and now I'm looking square at another week without a bicycle.  This is not an acceptable status for me.

I am working on another build as well and am definitely beginning to see the benefit of having two bicycles in the garage.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Escapism and Me

I have begun an interesting book that is challenging me.
In the opening chapter it details escapist tendencies.  It reads like a list of symptoms that one might use to self-diagnose an illness.
It would appear that I have a bent for escapism.

Now, that itself is no shock.  I would rightly admit that to anyone, and have on several occasions.  I think it's just a natural product of being an introvert, and that's nothing to be ashamed about.

I confess to several methods of escapism including, movies, music, reading, cycling and travel.  If one is not available I select another.

However, the author argues that this is not a healthy mindset. 

"The problem with escapism is that it cannot go on forever,"  reminds me a lot of the old adage, "no matter where you go, there you are."

Not sure where this journey will take me.  Not sure if this is a one-time observation/comment or if it will amount to more.  The book itself is about New Urbanism, a subject which fascinates me.  It is a discipline that I feel has strong connections to my love of bicycles and sustainable housing.  But so far (the argument is that if you are not living in the city you are already manifesting escape) I am just feeling a bit ambushed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Paris to Ancaster - Part III

45k - I could feel that something was wrong.  I was beginning to cramp in my thighs and occasionally in my calves.  I thought I had prepared well, nutritionally speaking but alas there it was.  I was typically fine unless I was driving up a hill, that exertion seemed to bring on the cramping more than anything.  It was the first time I realized that mentally I was strong, my lungs were strong and I was not overwhelmed with the discouragement of the mud (by now I had probably carried my bike 3 to 4 kilometers) BUT that my body could actually overrule all of that and simply shut down.  I pressed on as best I could but my pace was slowing.

49 or 50k - My legs are going to physically cease turning the pedals if I don't find some energy for them.  I remembered that I packed a granola bar on a lark.  It probably saved the entire day for me as I could feel some energy come back about a km after I ate it.

If the race ended here I would have been golden.

54k - Cheering spectators are beginning to appear in clumps.  Must be close to the end.  Please let it be close to the end.  Some guy with a British accent yells out to us "Keep pushing.  Only 3.6 km to go."  He seemed so precise, and raised my hopes but he was off by a few km's.  That really messed with my head!

58k - There are easily as many people walking their bikes now as there are riding them.  I was fifty-fifty.  Even the smallest climbs seemed huge to my aching legs.  Unfortunately (but I loved it!) the pitch to the finish is very steep.  Seems like it'll never end.  I have long since given up any consideration of my overall time.  I resolved long ago that a victory for me is to finish.

59.5k - I'm walking my bike up the climb and a spectator yells "You're almost there!  Throw that leg over the bar!"  It occurs to me that yes, he is right, I don't want to finish this race walking.  So I get on the saddle and somehow push through the last of the hill, passing one last person as I do so, to finish.

All I can think of now is, "Where can I get some food?"

UNEXPECTED category:

  • After carrying my bike as much as I did I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I had carbon-frame envy!
  • I saw a lot of broken derailleurs but mine was never one of them.
  • I never did puncture, something I was certain would happen.  I do wonder if I had punctured if it would have broken me mentally though.
  • Unicyclists are insane.
  • Tandems are insane.
  • Fixies are insane.
  • All the arrogance I observed before the race melted away on the course.  We were suddenly all friends, joking with one another as we raced.  It was awesome camaraderie. 
  • I lost at least 10 minutes waiting for the police to move us through busy highway intersections.  This was the great equalizer.  People that I had passed minutes before were caught up to me again.
  • Even one volunteer or spectator at the side cheering you on is a really big deal.
  • My gears shifted arbitrarily throughout the race because of the mud caked on everywhere.  
  • You can't tell a book by it's cover.  People wearing Nike running shoes and khakis on a 40 pound Sears special were beating me.  Whereas I was passing some who looked like they were outfitted for the Tour.  Go figure.
  • You loose all pretense on a race like this.  At some point I was just competing with myself to finish.
Happy but exhausted.  A lot of mixed emotions at the finish.

This is after I removed about 2 fistfull's of mud already.

My commuting bike is still wondering what just happened!

This is the first wave.  I was in the third wave.  By the time I crossed this same spot 1000 riders had come before me.

In the end I finished something like 786th out of the total number of riders.  Including all the teams and such I heard that there were over 2000 racing, so I guess I did ok.  They had trouble with the timing chips and I think are still trying to fiddle with it, but as of right now it seems the 60k took me 3 hours and 40 minutes.  That's 40 minutes shy of a goal that I thought was very attainable.  Oh so humbling.

I would do this again in a heartbeat though.  To wit, I am searching for other races on this years calendar.

Motivation achieved. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paris to Ancaster Race - Part II

I decided to bring a camera along for the ride/race, even though I knew how muddy the course was going to be.  However, I had decent legs and was feeling about as competitive as I get so I never stopped, and therefore never took any pics.
For a taste, though, I will defer you to a local reporter's experience here and here.  You can see that there was a lot of mud to cope with.

I was very happy to get started after the long wait.  My extremities were cold and I was fearing some kind of hypothermia even before I began.  However, once we got underway I warmed up enough that this was no longer an issue.

In the start gate I was beside an older gentleman who had done this race a few times before and he gave me some very useful tips.  One in particular was to carry my bicycle through the deepest mud and the mud chutes.

Here are some notable points in the ride.

10k - this is when I made my first actual "move" to get by some slower folks.  I was surprised at how tired I was after this push and kind of regretted it afterward.

15k - On a paved country road with no cars in sight (i.e. one of the best and safest places on the whole course) I saw a fellow about my age pull up next to a young woman.  They were about 100' ahead of me and traveling as fast as the rest of us.  The guy must have known the girl because he pulled up close to her left and tried to, I think jokingly, surprise her.  Then I looked in horror as he reached over and I saw him put his right hand on her handlebars.  With nowhere to go to her left, and maintain her balance, she screamed and went down hard (they both did).  But the girl did an endo.  I narrowly avoided them, and another guy who slammed on his brakes right in front of me to help.  I guess I was not so altruistic, and kept on racing, but as I looked back I could see the girl writhing on the asphalt holding her arm.  I am sure she broke her collarbone.  The guy who took her down must feel absolutely awful.

25k - In about 8" of toothpaste-like mud I took my first and worst fall.  My bike came out from under me so fast that I couldn't get a hand out.  At least I probably saved myself from breaking my own collarbone.  Instead I landed on my head.  Yup.  I slammed my head into the turf pretty hard.  Fortunately, although dazed and confused, I did not hit any rocks.  I hate to think what could have happened to my melon if I had hit a rock or even a log.

This is also where my front canti was destroyed.  After a quick assessment I realized I could either continue mohawk-style (one brake) or quit.  Of course I went on.  Brakes are overrated (I hoped).

Although another guy went down right beside me, it was single bike accident brought about by the difficulty to steer.

30k - They have a pit-stop at this, the halfway point.  I had shaken off the cobwebs and was actually feeling quite strong.  A volunteer handed me a banana and I never hesitated.  A small victory, I thought, not stopping like so many others.

Part III, my final report, tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paris to Ancaster Race - Part I

Restless sleep last night as I couldn't get today's race out of my mind.  I was pretty excited.  It's been a long time since I've done something like this.
AND since I've been waiting to BLOG about this for about two months I will draw it out in sections.
My first entry is the pre-race.
I spent all day Saturday adjusting my gears and brakes.  With the expectation of at least a little precipitation (hasn't rained in a month but of course it did on race day) I was nervous about my Power Grip "cleat" system.  I've always liked them but it has proven somewhat unreliable in the wet.  I finally decided not to switch it out with another system and that proved a very good decision for a variety of reasons.

I did switch to a racing saddle from my usual gel-filled commuting one.  I dropped the seat height and changed the handlebar angle to that things were altogether more aggressive.

We arrived in good time and had to wait about 1.5 hours.  Normally this would be fun but with the cold and wet, it was not.  We stood under a tree and shivered the whole time.  My fingers were frozen before the race even began.


Over 2000 racers.  I thought there was a cap at 1500.
Most people were very snobby pre-race.  They were acting like Lance, and I was just "puhleeeeezzze."

A couple more shots ...

My friend did very well.  He's in the black, below.  He hasn't ridden a bike in 20 years but over the winter I got him hyped about the Tour Divide and he's been training like a crazy man.  He'll be in it this year.

 And finally, me at the starting chute.  Bring on the pain!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What to do if I puncture?

The first big race of the season (and perhaps the only race of the season) is Sunday.  Pondering 60km of rougher-than-usual terrain I considered what to do if I get a flat.  Is the race over for me, or do I fix the flat?  I suppose one brings a spare instead of a patch?  What if its nasty-cold-hand-kind-of-weather, do I even bother? It would take me at least 5 minutes to fix, if its the front, and more likely longer if its the rear.
I picked up a pump just in case.
Haven't had a bike pump in years because of the fact that I'm much more of a commuter cyclist and if I puncture I just jump on the bus.

The way I see it, I'm not really competing in this thing.  But having the ability to carry through is a good option, I suppose.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Build Items

Picked up a couple of things for the Pake build.
A MOWA headset.  These seem to be decent enough.  I don't know much about headsets in particular.  I tend to shop by price comparison.  In other words...

"Hey there's a headset that costs $15 but appears to retail for $70, therefore it must be a good headset, especially for the money. I shall buy it."  I am a regular fount of Vulcan logic.

Yup, that's my secret to shopping for some bicycle parts. 

The red will contrast nicely with the frame colour though.

I realize the photo is "flipped" but I am too lazy to set it right!

And I also got a 9 speed short-cage rear derailleur that I am excited about.  Great price, decent shape.  Since I am going with a single ring up front I am told that a short-cage will suit nicely.  Had thought I would go with an IGH but instead I will do that with my aluminum frame, making it even more winter-suitable.  The Pake will be for everything else.

Really all I need now are forks and I am away to the races (figuratively).  Have my eye on the All-City Nature Boy set, which I think will bring things together nicely.

This build should have happened over winter...oh well...its back on the burners again.