Thursday, January 2, 2014


In 2013, I rode 2,936 miles over 189 hours.  My goal for the new year is simply to follow the advice of the prophet Eddy and ride lots.  I opened my account yesterday with a short ride after coming back from visiting family and friends for the holidays.  I know that folks often advocate setting goals that are objectively measurable and achievable, for instance that this year I will ride 3,500 miles.  But I'd rather just ride lots and not worry about the details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Few mm

I rediscovered over the course of my weekend rides why I am so uptight about my bike fit. I didn’t change anything on the bike, but the cold weather has forced me to put on my long cycling tights, which results in an extra layer of chamois between my scranus and the saddle. By the end of the weekend’s rides, my left hamstring began calling out to me as a dissatisfied reminder that I need to lower my saddle to compensate for the extra material. This feels in a way like a capitulation to the forces of winter that I’ve been reluctant to make thus far. But it is time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue Sunday

Seattle is currently in the grip of a strange malady that affects a predominantly male audience, and this affliction of sorts seems to further confirm another one of my pet theories.  The sickness is called Seahawks fever, and is a result of the long suffering American Football fans in the Pacific Northwest finally having something to cheer about in the form of the league's best record and Superbowl expectations.  It is to the point that a coworker chastised me for not wearing Seahawks blue at work on Friday.

I'm not really a fan of this pointy ball football as practiced here for several reasons.  As is typical of American sports and attention spans, I don't find much flow in it.  There is a short play, which takes about 5 seconds, and then everyone regroups and mulls around for the next 40 seconds or so.  Also, it seems almost entirely an expression of militarism.  Witness the line of scrimmage, which must be moved forward by penetration.  There is also the long bomb, the sack, etc.

Perhaps this is the reason that pointy ball football fans are mostly male.  The theory that all this Seahawks madness seems to increasingly confirm is that the best time to go for a bike ride is during a football game.  For years now, I've been going for rides on Superbowl Sunday, and have always found that it's one of the quietest and most peaceful times on the road.  There is always less traffic on the road during the big game, and what traffic there is less likely to buzz me or behave generally obnoxiously.

Now that Seattlites have a football team they actually care about and are jumping on the bandwagon for, every Sunday becomes like Superbowl Sunday.  Today's ride was very peaceful and quiet, with nary a road user conflict.  Needless to say, I will be scheduling more rides during Seahawk gametimes on Sundays, and if my pet theory is correct, the further the home team advances in the playoffs, the more gloriously peaceful my Sunday rides will get.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rider Weight, Historical vs Today

An interesting post today at Velominati about racers of today being much skinnier than those of yore.

I sometimes wonder if the riders of old were heavier because their bikes were also heavier.  For instance Alberto Contador weighs in at 62 kg and the UCI bike weight limit is 6.8 kg for a total climbing weight of 68.8 kg, of which the bike's ratio to the total weight of bike and rider is 9.9%.

It's reported that Merckx's bike was about 9.5 kg and that in 1968 he had slimmed to 72 kg.  This would make the total riding weight of 81.5 kg, so the bike would be 11.7% of combined weight.

If Contador had to race bikes of the same weight as during Merckx's era the combined weight would be 71.5 kg and the bike's percentage of total weight would be 13.3%.

As the bike doesn't produce any power on its own, this would obviously be a significantly higher percentage of non power generating weight for a lighter rider to haul up the mountains.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nap Time

Fitness is Training and Recovery.  These together bring adaptation, which is simply another word for fitness or form.  Much is made of the Training portion, for this is the part I love, the making of circles.  But the Recovery aspect of fitness cannot be overstated.

Athletes, when they are able, often take afternoon naps, especially when one can fit in a training episode both in the morning, and after a nap, but before night time sleep.  It has been shown that HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is naturally secreted during the early phases of sleep, and also that napping in the late afternoon is the most ideal time for the body to create it.  If HGH is good, more must be better.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

High Rock Lookout

Yesterday, I decided to merge my enthusiasm for riding with a bit of investigative journalism regarding the recent US Government shutdown.  I thought that perhaps if I went down to Mt Rainier National Park, I would have miles of beautiful, car free, mountain roads to enjoy in splendid solitude.  I parked a mile or so below the National Park gate and rode up to find a Ranger in the kiosk.  Thinking it wiser to stop and chat rather than just blowing through the gate, I asked her if I'd be allowed to ride in the Park.  She told me in the nicest possible way that the park was totally and completely closed to all visitors, that taxpayers couldn't even walk in (only she didn't use the word taxpayers).  Hopes of cycling nirvana temporarily crushed, I asked her if she could recommend any other roads in the area that were good for riding.

She said I could go back down the road a while, turn left, and I would get onto Skate Creek road, which wandered along a creek valley 22 miles down to the bustling metropolis of Packwood.  Although I had no intentions of riding that far, I decided that I could at least go some of the way, and headed back down toward my new goal.  I rode a while, and although cold and wet, the mild elevation gain offered some warmth to the body and legs.  When I got to a point that would indicate a total ride of about 15 miles, I duly turned around and began my way back down.

I then spied a sign that I somehow missed on the way up, for a road called High Rock Lookout.  Something in the name screamed elevation gain at me, and soon, I was on my way up an unpaved crushed dirt and gravel road.  It went right away over a quite dangerous bridge that had slippery lumber in two tracks for cars over sections of steel grating.  Once this was safely navigated, the rest of the road looked pretty much like this:

This was the point at which I turned around.

The potholed sections were at varying intervals, and there were also some washboarded out parts, but the road was in generally good enough condition to weave through and around them.  At one point, high up the road, a family in a van passed me on the way down, the driver looking at me totally incredulously, as if to say, "what the fuck are you doing all the way up here in such miserable conditions?"  

As every cyclist knows, the descent is always the coldest part of the ride, and the elevation gain, combined with thumbs that were starting to get really cold on the ascent, forced me to conclude that I should turn around just around that next bend, which was soon replaced by just over that next rise.  This went on for some time before I finally just decided that I needed to turn around and get back down.

I was very cold on the descent, especially my hands, to the point that I started thinking how nice it would be to piss on them to give them some warmth.  Continuing down, such thoughts disgusted me yet somehow became more frequent and persistent, and about halfway down, I stopped, took off my gloves, and started urinating over my hands.  It felt like the hottest shower, immediately soothing, but also too hot, and I was amazed that this heat was coming out of my own body.  It should be noted at this point that I also decided it would be also be prudent to drink some fluids, in case I should need to call on this method of hand warming again.  By the junction with the main road at the bottom, it was slightly warmer but I still reckoned on about 7 miles to the car.

By this time, the calculus of how gross was pissing on my hands was replaced by how cold would I be if I went harder, increasing both the windchill and my internal heat, vs backing off a little and reducing both.  It was clear to me that I wanted to be out of the weather sooner rather than later, and should just hammer the remaining miles to the warm car.

I learned some things on this ride.  Firstly, that I really need new gloves.  Also, that my Cervelo RS is a truly worthy Graveur, especially with the 25mm tyres mounted on it.  And lastly, that I will do whatever it takes to make it home to the warmth and love of my Velomihottie, who would be back in Seattle waiting for a call or text from me letting her know that I was all right.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bicycle Repair Man

Cascade Bicycle Club pointed out today a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the occupation of Bicycle Repair Person is projected to be among the professions with the highest growth through 2020.

This, of course, made me think of the classic Monty Python Bicycle Repair Man skit.