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.