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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Knee Warmers, Belgian Style

It's that time of year when I again break out the glasses of enforced sunny optimism.  The mercury is dropping, yet the sun is even more mercurial in making its appearances.  On days like today, I need to keep the legs warmer than I would have to on a summer day, but still want to go sans knickers.  I've found Bag Balm to be an inexpensive and indispensable tool in the box for such occasions.  Yes, that which was originally designed to prevent cows' udders from chapping also makes a fine wind and moisture barrier for the thighs and knees on coolish spring and fall days.

The lanolin based product doesn't really warm the legs from the outside the way more specifically designed embrocations do, but it does form an effective barrier against rain and wind.  This lack of warming, pays dividends; however, as the stuff can also be used as a chamois cream.  It's also very inexpensive compared with some of the artisanal embrocations and creams out there.  The stuff is thick and gooey and stays where it's put, whether that be the legs or undercarriage.  And last but not least, extending the time of year into which I can go on rides bare legged helps keep the tan lines sharp.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Not Cool

Sometimes, even in the relative cycling mecca that is the Pacific Northwest, I still have run ins with folks who don't like to share the road.  Frequently, these people express their dissatisfaction with me being in their way by buzzing me, that is, passing me at a distance that is way too close for comfort.  Most of the time, I'm able to just let this sort of behavior roll off my back like water off the proverbial duck. Last night; however, on NW 65th St, some guy who still thought that it was cool to: 1.) buzz me not once, but twice, by passing by me within a foot and 2.) drive a Hummer, received the gift of my spittle/loogie on his passenger side window.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Seattle Meet the Teams Rides

Here's the link for the Meet the Teams of Seattle rides this year.  I always find out about this halfway through the schedule, and although I may or may not be interested in joining a team, it's a good opportunity to get in a free group ride.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


When the mind is free of worries, the legs can do their best work.

One of the best strategies for removing worry from my rides is preparation.  Over the years, going for ride after ride, one develops a rhythm and cadence not only while on the bike, but to the other activities that support riding frequently.  The Brita filter is refilled every couple days; laundry is washed on days bounded by a ratio between the number of bibs owned and the frequency of rides; the steed is cleaned and lubed.

In the words of legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Prior to each ride, the bike is gone over, ensuring tyres are at the desired pressure, brakes are operational and don't rub, and bidons are filled.  If I'm going on a longer ride, one bidon will often be supplemented with a protein/carb mix, and this will always be placed in the seat tube cage.  I won't have to concern myself during the ride with where my calories are - when I reach for them, they will be there.

Occasionally, despite the best preparations, a flat or other mechanical will be suffered, but if one brings the right stuff, one needn't worry about anything other than having to change a tyre for 5 minutes.  I've distilled what I carry down to:  a pair of tyre levers, spare tube, patch kit, pump, multitool, and a ziplock bag into which I put my cell phone, a spare, expired ID (that still shows who I am and the correct address to bring my lifeless body home to, should it come to that), and one single key to get me back into my garage.  I used to add my wallet and full set of keys, but that extra weight just slows me down.

Similarly, when weather conditions may be inclement, it's good to pack arm and leg warmers and a rain shell into the jersey pockets.  These are always to be rolled up starting at the bottom, so when I grab them out of a back pocket during a ride, I can hold onto the end, unroll them, and know that the part I'm grabbing is the top of the arm warmer or the collar of the jacket.  I don't have to worry about sorting out how to put it on mid ride.

Together, these details evolve into a ritual series of preparation that function to remove doubt and worry from the ride.  They are, over the years, distilled down to cover only what is needed, leaving everything superfluous behind.

Friday, September 20, 2013


LeMond cycles has announced it's relaunching the brand, with Time providing the manufacturing.  I found this picture of the frame at InterBike on LeMond's FaceBook page.

The paint on the '86 recalls the yellow and combined jerseys in a way that, like LeMond himself, is classy.

Each of the three frames is numbered according to the year Greg won the Tour de France.  This one is the '86, commemorating both his GC win as well as his triumph in the now defunct Combined Category.

LeMond's place in cycling history has been up and down over the years, with many in the cycling community thinking he was a bit of a whiner while Lance was winning his tours having been subsequently forced to eat crow as his revelations have come out.  The mid to late eighties happened to coincide with my mid to late teens, a time when I was discovering myself and bike racing.  The epic battles between LeMond, Hinault, and Fignon on the mythic cols and Parisian avenues of France inspired me, a skinny climber kid, to suffer in the humid Florida heat on roads without hills.  

That LeMond is now regarded in most circles as the only American winner of the Tour will hopefully be mirrored by the resurrection of this brand as a going concern.  It was unfortunate that his relationship with Trek was sullied by the Armstrong camp to the point that the LeMond brand was basically run into the ground.

And perhaps we'll even see an updated Poprad.  One of the ways LeMond's Americanness affected bike racing was that he didn't limit himself to traditional ways of doing things, equipment and training wise.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Really Inexpensive Compression Socks

Often, when I'm finished with a hard ride, the legs need to cleared.  It's helpful to cool down in the last 10-15 minutes of a ride, but one of the best things I've found to help clear the legs is to lean them up against something whilst laying down apres velo.  The point is to have the legs at an angle of about 30-45 degrees to horizontal such that they are above the heart.

Many of the gear heads and marginal gains wonks out there swear by the use of compression socks, but these can be expensive and don't really add value given that you can put your legs up.  In such cases, I'd much rather spend my coin on stuff that wears out than duplicating what can be achieved easily with what's already on hand.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gettin' Jiggy

The frame building jig is still coming together.  Lori at RT Machining in Ballard is working on the pieces that need to be machined to center the bottom bracket, head tube, and seat tube.

The main triangle in the jig.  A rear axle spacer will be added to the rear of the main jig backbone, aligning the rear dropouts at the appropriate distance for brazing.

Centering the head tube in the jig with two conical pieces machined to be threaded onto a piece of M8 threaded rod.

The seat post center had to be machined to fit inside the seat tube cluster, rather than using a wedge, as the top of the seat lug isn't cut square to the seat tube.

The bottom bracket center block, ready to be machined down to the thickness required to hold it off the jig by the necessary amount to center it.  Threaded rod will be inserted into its center, then the last of the conical wedges will be threaded on the outside to center it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mt Baker Climb

One of my all time favorite climbs in the Puget Sound region for its challenge, length, and scenery is Mount Baker.  I keep coming back to the mountain for the lessons and strength it imparts.

I was on a good day riding up the climb of Washington SR-542 to Artist's Point.  I was able to stay on top of my gear the whole way up, only switching to standing up occasionally to change the rhythm of climbing and give slightly different muscle groups in the legs a chance to do the work.

I love the work of climbing, for me, it's all about feeling around for that boundary below which I can keep the current pace, and above which I completely and utterly explode.  The climbs around Seattle certainly allow for playing with these limits; however, they are completely different in that their short durations mean that I always know that if I keep going, the effort and hill will be over soon.  On a climb like Mt Baker, the limit must be set knowing there will be no respite along shortly.  As such, the boundary is slightly lower, but must be pushed against constantly for the duration.

I've heard the Cascades referred to as the American Alps, and the picture above shows why.  This is very much like an Alpine climb in its length as the meat of the climb is 11 miles at an average gradient of 5.2%.  This got me to thinking about how even though the differences in wattage, speed, and talent vary widely between myself and the pros, the sensations and emotions we feel on the way up are probably very similar.  Burning lungs, heart in the throat, leg searing efforts like this remind me of Greg LeMond's oft repeated quote that, "It doesn't get any easier, you just get faster."  This was true for me, as I set PR's up the various segments on the mountain.
Further reminders of this came the next day, as I went for a recovery spin with a novice buddy to clear out the legs.  We went out to Golden Gardens park, a flat route, where he decided he wanted to climb the hill up to Sunset Hill.  My legs were also warming up by this point, and so I agreed.  This climb seemed so easy to me compared with the efforts of the day before that I was able to climb from the seated position and spin up without a second thought.

Monday, June 24, 2013


This weekend saw a milestone in build #0, that being the first time the main triangle had been fitted together.  Since the dimensions I knew were that the top and seat tubes were 585mm center to center, these were the ones I laid out first on my plywood template.  Once these were cut to length and fitted, the fixed angle of the bottom bracket between the seat tube and down tube revealed the length to cut the down tube at the head tube junction.

Main triangle tubes fitted together for the first time.
Each lug required grinding down the inside surface where it mates with the appropriate tube.  Early on, my reluctance to remove too much material led me to follow a procedure that was like, grind, test, grind, test, grind, test, before finally arriving at a good fit.  By the last lug, this was more grind, grind, grind, test, grind, ok.  It feels good to be learning and getting the hang of it.

I cut each of the copes using a tube angle jig that worked with a 1/2" drill motor and a hole saw arbor that a buddy loaned me.  I cut the correct end of each tube, indicated by a bit of paint at the end to cut, as the thicker butted section is longer at one end than the other.  This is especially important on the seat tube, as it's only butted at the bottom bracket end and requires no cutting to fit into the seat lug.

Drill motor and downtube in angle cutting jig. 

Once the tubes were able to be fit through the lugs, I marked each tube's cutline with a Sharpie and scribe by laying the tubes on the template and setting each tube on its centerline.  These marks can be seen on the sides of the tube in the picture below.  I also scratched a small file mark at the point of each lug so that the tubes could be placed into the cutting jig horizontally, as once one end is coped, the tube's orientation is established.

Preparing to cut the 60 degree cope in the downtube where it meets the headtube.

Finally, once each tube was cut, I fit it into the lug and ground the end flush with the lug.  The remaining tasks to complete prior to brazing the front triangle together are to cut the head tube to length and figure out how I'm going to hold it together and in alignment whilst brazing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I've always wanted to build myself a custom lugged steel bike frame.  A current gap in my employment as an IT professional, combined with just enough cash to get some parts, and some awesome encouragement from my Velomihottie (thanks, babe!) recently had me going from just thinking about this, to ordering a Columbus SL Tubeset with lugs and all the rest.

Uncut tubeset and lugs roughly laid out on my template board.

Upon receipt of the package, I set out the tubes and lugs to see if the angles and sizes were roughly correct.

Once this was confirmed, I decided to start with the top tube/head tube junction, filing the lug and removing the burrs from the edges to fit it to the top tube.

The headtube/downtube lug sitting on the workbench.
The idea is to build a classic steel road frame with lively 74 degree angles like the steel racers I rode as a kid.  I plan on it being a size 58.5 center to center because this is the only way to get that size, and that's my size according to Greg LeMond's formula of taking one's inseam and multiplying it by 0.65. It'll have enough clearance for fenders, and I'm still deciding whether it should have rack mounts as well.  I want it to be versatile, but at the same time, I'm a bit leery of cluttering the frame too much with braze ons.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thought Replacement

Cycling often functions for me as a microcosm of life.  It's a smaller, rather more controlled circle of limited boundaries in which to try things out.  Since much of the focus is on the physical aspect of power against the forces of wind and climbing, it's sometimes easy to forget that it is the mind which ultimately powers every endeavour.

I've been experimenting with saying one word from a mantra or validation phrase on every third stroke of the pedals and synchronizing this with the breathing.  That is, on the first right stroke, I will breathe out, focus on pushing the pedal hard, and saying in my mind the first word of the affirmation.  Then I will soft pedal the next left and right strokes, giving both legs a brief respite.  Finally, I'll breathe out, push hard, and say the second word of the affirmation on the next left.  And so on.

The natural tendency is to synchronize the breathing with one or the other leg, but this leaves things unbalanced.  Focusing on every third revolution balances the effort between legs and repeating whatever affirmation during moments of hard effort replaces any thoughts of the suffering with what I choose to put in my head.  It can be as simple as "keep going."

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Today is two years to the day since Wouter Weylandt died racing his bike in the Giro.

We all take risks every day, in cycling and in life, and often it is the seemingly innocuous little things we don't see that can have tragic consequences.  In Wout's case it was some low stonework that he clipped on a descent, and instantly he would never see his wife and child, nor race a bike again.  And yet, the man died doing what he loved.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Souplesse Workout

I did this simple workout the other night to emphasize the Souplesse of my pedaling action.  Yes, it's Springtime in Seattle, and it's generally more attractive during the dark months of Winter than now, but I had been puttering around the shop working on and cleaning bikes.  After taking the Bridgestone out for a few mile test spin, I came back to the shop and rode the rollers.

Rollers are excellent for increasing cadence and fluidity in the pedaling stroke because the primary resistance to keeping the wheels moving is the friction between tire and roller, and there is very little mass to store the energy of the pedaling.  This combination results in immediate feedback to the rider in the form of a smooth whirring sound if the stroke is smooth, or alternately a kind of whoompa-whoompa-whoompa if power is being applied only during the downstroke.  I always begin roller sessions with the awareness of the sound and concentrate on pedaling faster while keeping the whirring going.

Once I'm good and warmed up from this, I clip in only one foot at a time and do sets of rotations with only one leg at a time.  In addition to training the muscles in each leg to fire in the order necessary to rotate the cranks around the spindle, single leg reps will tend to provide information on relative leg strength in the different muscles.  Begin in a relatively easy gear and start by rotating the cranks until exhaustion, noting the number of cycles for each leg and the muscle group that tires first.

Next, go back to pedaling at high cadence while concentrating on keeping the whir going.  I find that this feels so easy with both legs compared with the difficulty encountered doing only one leg at a time.  This indicates that the training is working, and the key here is to focus on continuing to recruit the same muscles in the same order, while maintaining an quick and fluid pedaling motion.  I like to repeat alternating between the single leg muscle recruitment order training and the bi-pedal fluidity focused training until I can only pedal about 25% of the original reps till exhaustion per cycle.

If there are side to side discrepancies between cycles before exhaustion between legs, I might do 5-10 more reps on the weaker side during the alternations.  I also like to incorporate some yoga like poses or sequences to address the muscle groups that were the first to tire.

Happy circle making!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Discovery Park Hill Climb

This is a fun and short, but quite steep climb.  Having just descended this same route from the top of Discovery park, and turned around at the bottom while admiring the oft windswept shore to the west, we turn around and begin the climb to the flatter rolling area above the bluffs.

The climb starts out at a fairly reasonable gradient, but steepens just around the corner to the left.  The grade maxes out at 25.3%, according to the Strava segment for this climb, and it sure does feel steep for about half a km.  Indeed, it is a struggle to remain seated and spin up in even my lowest gears, and the proportion of the climb I can manage this is a generally good indicator of fitness.  But once it's been crested, there is some flat to be had before the road again stairsteps up and around to the descent down the other side of Magnolia.

This is only the beginning.
This climb frequently makes it into my coastal hill rides that are right around my area and more or less within Seattle city limits.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bike Sharing Coming to Seattle

Puget Sound Bike Share has announced that Seattle will be joining other large cities in North America in and has selected Alta Bicycle Share as the implementation vendor.  Seattle joins a growing list of world cities embracing Bicycle Sharing systems.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Sometimes, in the interest of HTFU, I enjoy setting myself an unreachable goal.  Yesterday’s ride was like that.  Leaving at 3 for a three plus hour ride, the true length of which would be determined by riding hard for an hour and a half on the way out with a predominant tailwind, and returning fatigued into a headwind while trying to beat the sunset at 6:00.  This is, quite simply, a formula for not getting back by sunset, for bonking into a headwind miles from home as the darkness slowly and inevitably descends, and for getting home solely on the anticipation of warmth and a hot cup of tea.

I had taken a hooky day and was feeling quite Buelleresque.  The miles rolled by as I headed north on the Burke-Gilman, not to any physical point on the trail, but to a point in time.  I love this trail on quiet weeknights, the cold February wind keeping the fair weather riders, joggers, and walkers away.  As the trail turned east and then south at the top end of Lake Washington, my tailwind turned to a sidewind to a headwind, and I got my first real taste of what would await on the return trip.  My legs turned to mush, but I still had 20 minutes remaining to meet with my date in time, which I stubbornly refused to miss, despite my legs telling me otherwise.

The wide open and windy stretch of the Sammamish River Trail where I turned around.  Beautifully deserted on a cold Winter day.

This is how it is early in the year, the legs unaccustomed to rides lasting more than a couple of hours being reacquainted with such efforts.  I checked the phone a couple times to see whether it was time to turn around yet.  Nope, 14 more minutes, then 4, then finally it is time.  This too frequent checking a sign of weakness of resolve, it must be quashed.  Turning around for the short downwind leg brings brief respite, a chance to get some food and fluids down in preparation.  A turn back to the south, and boom – headwind.  I knew it was coming, it was a part of the calculations, and these situations often feel to me to be both easier and harder than anticipated.  Harder as the legs are protesting against the increased mileage, and easier because there is nothing to do but keep going, keep changing position, stand up and push a big gear, sit in the saddle and spin a small one, change rhythm.

Most of the way back down into this headwind, I get a text from Velomihottie, who is done with a frustrating day at work and wants to take a ride, she will come and meet me on the trail.  In a short while, she is there at the side of the trail, and proposes I turn around to go back up to Magnuson Park with her.  No, thanks, I tell her, let’s just head home.  With her, we chat about the day we’ve each had, plans for the evening (Taco Tuesday), and just generally converse.  This takes my mind off the legs and makes the rest of the ride home a relative breeze.  In fact, the last couple of miles, I seem to recover a second wind, and we joke around by her grabbing onto my jersey and me pulling her along coasting.  We got home, and then it was time for Taco Tuesday (all you can eat for $6.00 – I had 8) and a couple of large beers which taste like the best beer ever due to the effort.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sacre Bleu!

One of the best things about new people in our lives is how they often end up challenging us to go beyond ourselves, doing things that would never had occurred to us previously.  The Velomihottie and I have been together a couple of very enjoyable months now, and one of the things that initially attracted me to her was that she seems to enjoy cycling about as much as I do.  She is much more a cyclist of the Mountain Biking variety than I have ever been, but has been reasonably good, giving and game, to use a Dan Savage expression, to indulge me by joining with me on a couple of road bike rides.

So it was that I felt a similar need to giving Mountain Biking with her the old college try. I'd been poking around the interwebs, looking at various entry level and used mountain bikes.  Happily, the Velomihottie pointed me in the direction of the Bridgestone MB line, and a quick craigslist search turned up an old MB-4 for sale from Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles in Interbay.  A cursory test ride and $125 later, I was the proud owner of this fine retro steed.  Further poking around on the interwebs, courtesy of Sheldon Brown's fine work, revealed it to be circa 1992.

1992 Bridgestone MB-4

We decided that Sunday would be a fine day to pop my MTB cherry, and we soon found ourselves at Duthie Park up in the Issaquah Highlands for my initial ride.  The day was foggy and quite chilly, with ice on the sides of the trail, but the trails were mostly dry as a result.  My first initiation was on the Boot Camp trail, and I was mostly able to not make too much a fool of myself as I repeated my mantra of, "rubber side down."  The riding and companionship were both very enjoyable, and it seemed I learned new skills with each corner.  For instance, I was advised to look only where I wanted to go to avoid banging into things or falling off the trail, and I also found the rapid changes in gradient and incredibly tight banked switchbacks to be very challenging.  The uphill corners were initially very hard for me to keep the front wheel down on, but I soon learned that actually dialing back my effort enabled me to steer through the corners.

A foggy day in the woods.

We rode both the Boot Camp and Moving Up trails twice, and the second time on each revealed that I had more confidence than the first.  I love the steep part of the learning curve when one is first trying a new activity, and I seem to have a natural inclination to dive right in.  This led to the only violation of my mantra to keep it rubber side down, after I saw some kid wheelie past us and decided to attempt a wheelie of my own, landing flat on my ass.  The issue, it seemed, was not in getting the front wheel up, but in keeping it down.

Going just fast enough to be blurry.

After this, we had a final run on the Moving Up trail, and I started to notice that I was fatigued and losing the ability to focus on my new found lessons, making silly mistakes of some of the lessons that I had just learned.  Nonetheless, it was a very good workout that elevated the rate of the old ticker on multiple occasions.  Moreover, riding the trails and mostly keeping up on such a retro machine made me feel somewhat badass in an old school way.  I went to sleep last night with visions of mountain trail switchbacks still dancing in my head.  I will definitely be going Mountain Biking again.

Trail Map - Next time we'll hit something just a bit more advanced.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Mileage and Time Summary

A screen capture of my weekly mileage in bar graph form, and yearly mileage and time, courtesy of Strava.