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Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy with the New Wheels

I broke the hub on my front wheel. Spinergy has a less than stellar reputation and I guess I've joined the unsatisfied ranks.

I don't really have a personal issue with Spinergy, since the wheels came used on a bike with an undetermined number of miles on it. For all I know the bike could have 10,000 miles of potholed asphalt behind it. And, Spinergy's tech support has been pretty cool - in spite of telling me that the 2001 model wheels I have are no longer under warranty. Go figure.

That doesn't change the fact that I didn't give serious consideration to any Spinergy wheels I came across.

So I've purchased (used on Craigs list) a set of Velocity Aerohead wheels with Ultegra hubs. I'm pleased - especially since they fit my budget of $150 for the set.

They are not as Aerodynamic as the Spinergy set, nor as light (but only by a few grams), but they seem to be much more solid and certainly give me a far greater sense of security at high speed.

I may post pictures of the wheels later, but for now, I figured I would just post Gianna's reaction to the new additions.

Dad, this is sooo cool! The day we've been waiting for.
We're going to get your new wheels.

Is that the guy's house? Maybe those are the wheels on the front porch.
They look like Velocity rims...

WOW. WOW. They really are beautiful...

MOM!!! Come here!! He's mounted the tires and the cassette.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pickles, Pizza, and Pancakes

What do you eat for lunch after riding up some of the Bay Areas most demanding hills? You guessed it...
Left over pizza from last night.
Left over pancakes from the girls' breakfast.
And, a half dozen pickle spears from the jar I talked my wife into buying - saying that I love pickles and she never buys them, yet thereafter allowing them to sit in the fridge for 3 weeks forgetting about them, but arriving home a bit saline deficient, and seeing the pickles, deciding I should have a few. (Possibly the most grammatically incorrect sentence I've ever composed)

(I also ate a whole bunch of jelly beans, but they don't start with "P" so they only get this passing note.)

Here's the climb.

Check out what others have said of this hill.




Vince and I threw this climb into the middle of our ride.

I think we were about 30 miles into the ride, going around that circle when Vince went bizerk and starts saying something about “we have to take this road!!” Turns out he knew what was coming. I remember at the bottom saying something like, "you could have warned me to shift gears," as I ground through the gears to something lower than were I was.

It was pretty unbelievable and pure will power at the top. I'm glad I didn't know what was coming.

Some sources say that near the top, the gradient is nearly 30%.

Um, that's steep.

My arms hurt at the top from the counter force I had to apply to the bike for .8 mile. The overall gradient as I figured it is around 17%. Some say 13% - but I'll stick with my figures. That's like climbing the "wall" at the top of Mt. Diablo 8 times, without getting to go back down in between.

Total ride was just over 65 miles.

Pickles, Pizza, and Pancakes. MMMMMMM!

What's for dinner? Pasta?

(The fonts on this posts have a mind of their own. Blogger needs a better user interface. If anybody who can do anything about this is reading - I would be glad to provide my short list of grievances. Life goes on...)

Sore Quads

Top of Cummings Skyway - Overlooking the Carquinez Strait.

I killed some time waiting for it to get at least a little light. By Highway Department standards it wasn't light enough to be out without a head light, but the first few miles were lined with street lights, so at 6:10 I headed out with just the red blinky.

My goal was Williams - approx. 120 miles away. I wanted to be close to there by 1:00 when Bec would hopefully slow enough on her way by, to let me throw the bike on the back of the Pilot. We would be on the way up to Shasta and a weekend with friends - and maybe my first time snowboarding. I was feeling great, and before 7:00 I was at the top of Cummings Skyway prepared to descend into Crockett and then across the bridge to Vallejo.

Carquinez Bridge - Looking west at 20 mph

I rode through Vallejo still feeling physically good. But, ever since my front flat a week ago, I've been a little paranoid about flatting. I've been carrying the patched tube as my spare - hoping I wouldn't need to use it before I got around to replacing it.

As I approached a set of railroad tracks just north of down town, I knew I was in trouble. I can bunny hop one set of tracks if I'm going fast enough - but two? I managed a double hop which kept the front tire intact, but the rear came down hard on one of the metal edges which make crossing in a car a dream, but on a bike a nightmare.
I immediately knew I had a problem but didn't stop to look for over half a mile. Finally, forcing myself to pull over, I surveyed the back tire and found what looked like a lock washer shape forming around the perimeter of my wheel. The tire itself had an offset of several millimeters and the offset was growing. I rode on hoping to think of some great solution. No solution came, but the inevitable did. With a snap the tube deflated and the tire bead released from the rim. I pulled into an abandoned Mervyns parking lot.

The tube suffered from double pinch flat (or snakebite) and the tire deformed after breaking several of the bias threads.

It was Friday, and my Project Manager, Rick was faithfully running the company, while his boss was off riding his bike around the countryside. I called Rick, and without much effort convinced him to drive to my house, remove the wheels from the Bridgestone, and deliver them to the far side of Vallejo.

An hour later, I was back on my way, an hour later than I wanted to be. I resigned to not making Williams, and communicated this to my wife. With the aid of Google Maps, she reworked my route over the phone, and set up a new rendezvous spot. It was a beautiful day for a ride, and I really was feeling great. No worries - Ride on.

Enjoying the sights along the Monticello climb toward Berreyessa.

My rest stop - just a couple miles before the Monticello Dam.
1 Snickers bar and a bottle of Coke

I came down out of the hills and rode toward Winters on Hwy 128, anticipating the connection with my team car in less than an hour. I called Bec again, and got word that It would be some time longer than anticipated. Bec reworked the route for me again, texted it to my phone - "89 TO 16 TO E4 TO INTERSTATE" - and I was off. More miles.

As I approached the left turn on 89 I was cognizant of the intense crosswind from my left. As I turned into the now headwind, I knew I was in for a rough ride. The winds were at least 20 mph sustained, and gusting to near 30 at times. I made just over 10 miles on a perfectly flat road in an hour. I was half way to the rendezvous, and all in. That was ok because Honda Pilots do better in the wind than cyclists, and the rest of my team was making good time.

The wind laying the grass over along Road 89.

I cleaned up at a small gas station at Road 89 and Hwy 16, ate lunch with the girls, and headed toward Shasta.

Nearing our destination

Mt. Shasta

Saturday morning dawned cloudy with a chance of rain / snow, depending on elevation. We hit the slopes just before noon after stopping at Snowman Hill to sled with Ella a few times. I'm new to snowboarding in spite of skiing on and off for over 15 years. I think I caught on pretty quick, and was having a blast after 2 runs.
My quads were disagreeable though. Skiing and snowboarding are both "bend at the knees" kinds of sports - and after 80 miles with a head wind grand finale my deep knee bends were strained at best. After 5 runs, I was toast. It got to the point where my greatest motivation not to fall was the pain involved with standing back up. No matter. I got the basics thanks to my great host and instructor Reese, and hope to make it out once more before the season is over.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Paris - Roubaix 2010 is now owned by Cancellara

I know, Fabian Cancellara isn't one of the riders I've been following - but maybe he should be.

I first noticed him after he snatched the Tour of California Prologue Time Trial from the home town favorite Levi Leipheimer by a second and a half.

He just bagged his second Paris - Roubaix this year, riding away from 3 time winner Tom Boonen and the rest of the mob, and that, only a week after taking first at the Tour of Flanders. Late in the race, he singlehandedly bridged the gap between the peloton and a 3 man breakaway, then dropped the breakaway 1 rider at a time. The final rider seemed to wave him off as Fabian drifted away, as if to say "Just go - you're going to do it anyway." He time trialed the rest of the way over the cobblestones as the peloton seemed to just wish it were over.

Fabian had over 2 minutes to enjoy his victory before being joined by the balance of the riders.

Not sure why I liked this photo so much.
Could it be that it seems the pro's put their helmets on just like the rest of us - one strap at a time? Or, is it possible that Tom Boonen holds his white shades in his teeth just like he saw me do it? Possible.

Should Armstrong, Sastre, and the Schleck duo be taking notice?
Probably not. Cancellara is strong. Period. But the Tour de France, which is really all that Lance seems to care about this year is not just about raw power. I predict some early wins by Saxo Bank with Cancellara in the yellow jersey, however I suspect that those early points will be designed to offset a less than spectacular arrival in Paris. To win the TDF you have to still be turning the cranks well 3 weeks later on the Champs Elysees.

I think Lance will be still battling Carlo in the last stages, and that they will own all rights to the remaining raw power in the peloton.

I predict Lance wins by less than 30 seconds on the finish line in Paris.
We'll see.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tour of Flanders and My Ride

Tour of Flanders 2010
Riders I'm following...

George Hincapie - 6th at Tour of Flanders

Fabian Cancellara - Winner of the Tour of Flanders

Lance Armstrong on the Cobblestones
He claims the 27th place was OK, and Flanders was just a workshop with cobblestones.

Levi Leipheimer was not riding today in Flanders, and I'm not sure that he's riding anywhere right now. I checked the Team Radio Shack Facebook page but didn't get any clues. No doubt they are strategically racing him in preparation to support Lance in the Tour de France. Let Lance get his 8th win, and then let him support Levi for 2011.

Andy and Frank Schleck will be riding tomorrow along with Jens Voigt and 6 other teammates in the Tour of the Basque Country or better known as the Vuelta al Pais Vasco - - Ok, yeah me either.

And me?
Well, since you asked, I rode yesterday in the Tour of the Diablo Valley. I was originally scheduled to ascend Le Monte Diablo with those who dared, but the cloudy skies and temperatures in the 30's above 3000' kept me closer to sea level, opting rather for the popular Danville Blvd. I came in first against some stiff competition among a group of female Team in Training members on a mid ride sprint from the stop light in San Ramone. A few minutes later I dusted a senior citizen - who rode back up beside me at the next stop light.

I finished strong with just under 60 miles, and feel very confident for my solo century I have coming up. If all goes as planned - which it basically never does - I will be riding up to Williams in the morning. From there my team car will convey me the rest of the way to Mt. Shasta, where we will visit some friends and tear up the slopes. (Not like you think. Generally parts of me get torn along with the slopes) But that is several potentially rainy days away, and a lot can change between now and then.
Pouring Rain = Nada.