Monday, August 30, 2010

CX Training for the Big N00B

Goofing off this weekend at the Santa Cruz High All-Class Reunion and not paying very close attention to training and diet (beer is not diet food), I feel I had a slight set back in my CX goal. Today I decided to HTFU and work on my dis-mounts and re-mounts.

Of course, this all started with a grueling hill climb where a dainty asian female tried to catch me. Let me tell you something about these little roadie chicks - I have been smoked many-a-time by them and I wasn't going to let it happen today! She almost got me, though :). Don't underestimate these women riders - they are light weight and can hammer road climbs.

I found a nice run-up at Santa Teresa County park next to the rest rooms, and a short one in the parking lot with a "barrier" (a tall 1.5ft. curb). I am definetely going to have to work on my hill runs because I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack on about my fourth run - which puts this whole CX racing thing into perspective: IT'S HARD. And I wasn't even in a race. Just training. Scary.

Got this sweet pic on my way home and did a little Photoshop on it. Things cooled off a bit here, but it's supposed to get hot again (I hate it). Until next time bicycle freaks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hit the road, Mary - you need to clean up your act...

After mounting the gigantic 785mm wide lo-rise Race Face bar on my singlespeed, I had to do something with my On-One Mary bar. I tried to sell her, but I couldn't let her go - she had a purpose in my life, I just didn't know what.

Until last week.

I've been cruising the interwebz for a retro set-up like what I had in mind with my Surly Pacer. The Nitto Sparrow bar seemed nice, but just seemed a little narrow for my tastes - plus I didn't feel like shelling out any more money for an ever increasing pile of nice handlebars I have going.

I also lurked a few forums to see if anybody has flipped the Mary bar for road riding or touring; very few, but they are out there.

So, with full commitment, I decided to go full retro on the Pacer using my On-One Mary bar, flipped, with shellacked cork grips and bar mounted friction shifters. For some reason, the Rivendell downtube shifters just did NOT want to work with me, and off they went into a plastic bag and into the parts bin.

After reading a few reviews on the cheapo Falcon friction shifters, I decided to go that route - $10 for the pair wouldn't kill me. I had some old cork grips in my garage cabinet as well as the silver brake levers.

After finishing up the install a couple days ago, I decided to give it a ring today by attacking the big local climb of Hicks Rd.

I swear, somebody put a motor in my bike, because the big, wide Mary bar and positive shifting made a HUGE difference. In an earlier review of the Mary bar, I did mention how the wrist pain and numbness was diminished - well... with the road bike application, it proved even better, even flipped upside down. Not only did I clear the big climb without a problem, but after I descended I climbed the local smaller climb (Bernal Rd.) and cruised another 20 miles back to home.

The descends were a little sketchy compared to descending in the drops, but I soon got the hang of it.

I couldn't let this build be finished without shellacking the cork grips. That should keep them nice for awhile and they match my Nashbar seat a little closer.

Lastly, those cheapo Falcon shifters were INCREDIBLE. In 2010 with bicycle technology going well above the bar... friction shifting is, and seems to always be, just so goddamn spot on. My brother was raving about the Paul thumbies and friction shifting in general, but I never knew it could be so great. My downtube shifters - not so much, but my current set-up is outright sick.

I've been using my shifter on my drop-bar 29'er in friction mode. Unlike my index shifters, no skipping, no fouls, no clickity-clack, easy installation and adjustment... they work and work well.

If I ever convert my rigid SS back to a geared bike, I think I'm going with the same set-up.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rest and Recovery Ride

After running stairs in the gym yesterday carrying a 20lb. barbell (I guess it's supposed to mimic carrying my bike in a run-up... yeah right), I'm a little burned out - from riding, from working long hours, from life. I needed a R&R day... and I also needed stuff for UGLY! Pads. So off to the fabric store I went via my Utility Bike.

It reached 110 degrees here in San Jose, so I had to wait to ride until night started to fall, although it was still in the high 80's when I left at 7:30pm. Fortunately, I was able to catch this wonderful lakeside pic with the iPhone 4.

Training for 'cross resumes tomorrow, and most likely in the gym due to time and heat. But the ride I did tonight was something I really needed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My trophy for the day...

Climbed Rocky Ridge on the cyclocross bike today. Rocky Ridge is a very rocky technical climb most mountain bikers attempt with full suspension - I decided to take the skinnies out on it. 10% of it is unrideable with the CX bike, but the rest can be cleared.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

San Jose Bike Party - Hot August Lights

Peeps at San Jose City Hall

The Utility Bike with suspcious young latina girl peering.

Critical Party

The Taiko drummers getting people PUMPED.

My lovely wife (today is her birthday)

Robert (Nelson34 on MTBR) and the infamous SJ ROLLING THUNDER!

Home Depot Stop


Last night the wife and I rode the SJ Bike Party. It started downtown and weaved through Sunnyvale and back to San Jose. It was a bit more cluster f*cky than normal - probably because there were SO many people and starting downtown was a definite bottleneck situation. Of course, I was on the trusty utility bike, and my wife was on here awesome Scott hybrid, testing her new Shimano shoes.

It was fun... my friend Guillermo and I threw back a few cold ones at the stops. We just had to cut out a little early so the truck wouldn't be locked in the parking garage downtown. Aside from that, it was some good pedalling.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday's Tech Climb

Yesterday was supposed to be a "recovery" ride from my intense interval training on Sunday... BUT! That didn't happen. I thought it would be fun to climb Stiles Ranch to Mine Trail (at Santa Teresa County Park), loop around, and go back home. However, I felt good when I peaked and descended, so I decided to go up Rocky Ridge.

Being on the rigid 1X9, I confess that there were a few hike-a-bike moments. It is a humbling experience when you don't have a granny gear nor suspension to aid you on some of this stuff, but it was fun anyhow. Those trails are so incredibly hammered, it almost seems the rocks have grown.

Here are a few pics from yesterday...


Monday, August 16, 2010

Leipheimer wins Leadville with New Course Record

Stolen from Cyclingnews

By: Dave McElwaine

Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) wins the Leadville 100 after a hard-fought battle with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Trek)

Putting his Tour de France fitness on display for all to see, Levi Leipheimer (Team Radioshack) completed the Leadville 100 in 6:16:37, bettering the course record set by his team-mate Lance Armstrong 12 months earlier by 12 minutes.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek), who battled Leipheimer for over 80 miles, finished second and also beat the Armstrong record by 3:30. Todd Wells (Specialized) suffered a major mechanical and finished third.

Dave Weins (Topeak-Ergon) nosed out Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) for fourth place as Bishop, who was still dealing with a nasty cold, took fifth.

"That was ridiculous," said Leipheimer after the race. "I don't know if I've ever suffered that much before. JHK was super strong and I was worried because I was suffering on Columbine. I'm just not that used to the altitude and he was hanging tough.

"But I guess that the distance and the fitness from The Tour was enough," he continued, adding, "Although we don't go this hard in the Tour." Whether he was joking or not was unclear. While Leipheimer has made his fame on the road, he loves riding off-road with his buddies back home. "I've been riding my mountain bike a lot the last 10 years."

Nearly 1400 racers from 20 countries departed the normally sleepy town of Leadville at 6:30 AM sharp. A neutral start through the town on the way down to Turquoise Lake was an impressive sight as the sun came up on the Rocky Mountains. Riders had a 12-hour time limit to complete the event.

Starting at 10,152 feet, the race reached a maximum height of 12,550 feet. Opening with a loop around Turquoise Lake, the course then took them over Sugarloaf Pass at 11,071 feet.

The pace had been blistering through the first hour. Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe's) said of the speed: "The pace was really high. I was in a group that included Weins that got dropped. Weins then slowly clawed his way back and I was able to re-join the lead group."

Near the top of Sugarloaf Pass there was a major mishap, as Leipheimer explained: "I crashed near the top of the Sugarloaf climb. I shouldn't have been leading. All of a sudden I thought there was a right turn and I hit my brakes. Todd Wells hit me from behind. I haven't been hit that hard in a long time."

Wells added: "I crashed too and wrecked my front wheel and flatted. My team-mate Ned Overend gave me his wheel so that I could catch back up." Overend managed to limp into the next Aid Station where he borrowed a wheel. Wells finished the race with blood oozing from his knee, but neither he or Leipheimer seemed to be seriously hurt.

On the incredibly steep descent down Powerline, Horgan-Kobelski opened a few seconds' gap while the mayhem behind him sorted itself out. Surprisingly, 10 riders including Matt Shriver, Bishop, Alex Grant (Cannondale), Weins, Jay Henry, Leipheimer, and Hogan-Kobelski all managed to re-merge into a big group. On the short pavement section of course before the rolling hills at Box Gulch, there seemed to be a truce as all riders sat up and took on food and liquids.

On the trip to the base of Columbine Mountain, several riders including Shriver, Leipheimer, and JHK ramped up the pace. As they started the climb, the lead group had been reduced to five. Shortly thereafter, the whole race shattered as riders headed up the mountain. "You just have to ride your own pace on that mountain," remarked Jay Henry.

Horgan-Kobelski and Leipheimer got away on the mountain. JHK later saying of the break: "I was really happy to go over a climb like that with him... to stay with a Tour de France podium guy." But JHK then descended like a madman, opening a 500-metre gap on Leipheimer as they reached the bottom.

"I felt pretty good until we hit the Powerline climb," added JHK. "I really turned myself inside out on that climb thinking I might be able to catch back up on the descent. But it was pure suffering from that point on."

Wells ended up riding much of the race alone in third place, later joking that it might have been better if he had pulled out after destroying his wheel.

The race for fourth place was nearly as exciting as the race at the front. Weins reached the bottom of the Columbine descent a full minute behind Bishop but managed to reel him in on the long traverse back to Powerline. "If Weins had given it even one go he would have left me behind," said Bishop. Instead the two stayed in contact until the final climb up the pavement into the town.

In the women's race, Rebecca Rush (Specialized) and Amanda Carey (Kenda-Felt) put on an impressive display of power. Riding just behind the top 20 men the whole race they made it to the Columbine climb together.

"I knew that Columbine was the make or break so I just put the hammer down there. I think I got five minutes on the ascent and a few more on the descent. Then I didn't look back and started to think about the course record. I was cramping... I left it all out there.," said Rush.

"I can barely stand up. It was one of my most painful days on a bike." But, she had a new course record and was jumping for joy as it was announced.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Newbie Ride was a BUST and the SingleSpeed Social

Yesterday was a bust - nobody showed up except for my friend Guillermo and strong, young whipper-snapper, Jonathan, on his SS. Some missed the roll-out time, however. I ended up getting a puncture, and lack of sealant in my tubeless tire cut it short for me. Otherwise, I hope that more people can come next time.

This was posted up on the NorCal section of MTBR.com:

We're going to go ahead and bring these rides back around for another go. Family oriented, great for beginners as well as those with kids. Trailers and kids allowed, Parents assume all responsibility, and there are a short-cuts mixed in for different routes, etc. There's a local supermarket and restaurants, (Burritos!) for the needed post ride hang-out also!

Come on down and join in on the fun! This is a Pre-Cursor to see what the Frosty and New-Year's Socials are all about. I'll post pics for those that want a better idea if you all like.
I am not hosting this ride, just sharing! If you intend on showing up, I would respond to obionespeedonly's post located at the MTBR link as a courtesy to him.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Newb Friendly Mountain Bike Ride @ Santa Teresa County Park - Friday Aug. 13th

I sent this out to the San Jose Bike Party BIRDS. If anybody is interested, please come and join in!

Hello Friends of SJBP,

On our rides, I've mentioned before to a few that the only time I actually road ride is with SJBP and large cycling events - for the most part I stay off-road and I play in the dirt. My local stomping ground is Santa Teresa County Park which I ride nearly everyday - I know the trails well.

A friend of mine inquired about a ride this Friday. He's a newbie to MTB'ing and I love helping people navigate through Santa Teresa County Park. So this ride is open to any MTB newb wanting to go and explore. There will be climbing, but the pace is very relaxed, everybody waits and walking hills is okay. The biggest climb will be Coyote Peak (about 1,200' in 1 mile - I'm not lying... it IS steep), but again, walking is okay and once you get to the top, you will be happy you went - the views are spectacular. The route will loop the entire park, and the technical Rocky Ridge and Stiles will be avoided. The route may change depending on the group the levels of fitness. If you're experienced in MTB'ing, the pace may be a bit slow for you. I will stop and explain what to expect before entering a turn so that all are mentally prepared for what is to come and what terrain is to be ridden. I will also offer some advice about body position, how to handle off-road obstacles and general bike handling skills if people have questions. This is not a clinic, nor do I claim to be some kind of MTB'ing expert, but I have enough miles under my belt to help others get introduced to off-road riding if people have questions.

Good bike handling skills and good equipment is required. - this is newbie friendly, but not beginner friendly. Hybrids will be destroyed on the trail, so mountain bikes only please. Please bring extra tubes, a small pump and tire levers as pinch flats are a common when riding off-road. Please wear a CamelBak or load up water bottles as off-road riding is a strenuous workout and hydration is important. Snacks and/or food bars are recommended. There is a water fill station in the park if you run dry. No helmet? NO RIDE. They are required on the trail and the Park Rangers issue HEAVY citations for not wearing one. Please use good judgment.

We will all meet at the Harry Rd. and Camden Ave. intersection in Almaden at 5:45 - 6:00PM, wheels roll at 6:15PM. There is plenty of parking right there. Please [reply to this thread or] e-mail me at dion@uglypads.com if you're interested... and tell your friends! If SJBP has introduced people to cycling in general, I'd like to take initiative and open people's minds to off-road riding. If this becomes popular, I would be willing to do a weekend ride later on so more people can join.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monster Cross 1X9 Conversion


After riding my On-One Inbred as a single speed for some time now, I feel like I've tapped into all the potential a SS can give me. I love riding single speed - but depending on the severity of some hills, the SS just may not be practical. Also, as somebody who rides to and from trailheads, it's SLOW MOOOOOOOO on the pavement. The other reason for the switch is because of my poor ability to spin up hills with any speed. For some reason, I can mash up hills better than sitting and spinning, so this is an area of improvement I want to work on.

After going on a quick route yesterday, I was convinced that this was the right move for me. Using a Dura-Ace bar-end shifter with my On-One Midge handlebar, the shifts in "friction" mode were beautiful. I'm staying away from the index shifting mode - I spent a couple of hours trying to adjust the thing so it wouldn't skip gears and I just couldn't get it to work since the SLX rear derailleur does not have a barrel adjuster for fine tuning. Since I've been using downtube shifters in friction mode on my road bike, the bar-end felt like second nature to me.

Surprisingly, friction shifting is wonderful for the trail. Yes, you don't get that feeling of clicking through gears, but you can go from the smallest cog to the largest cog in one flip of the shifter - and that does come in handy. I am having problems with my road bike shifters and an e-mail out to Rivendell Bicycle Works is going out today to see if I can get it sorted.

Every time I ride this bike I fall in love with it. 29'ers have now become really specialized with their carbon fiber/titanium/full-suspension/DW-link/whoopty-do-dah features. But riding a mountain bike in a pure rigid form, a STEEL one for that matter, is something to be appreciated. I cannot say enough good things about this bike.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

San Jose Bike Party August Test Ride

Last night, Kelly and I rode the San Jose Bike Party August Test Ride. It was fun, chill and a good group of people. They started later in the day and ended around 9:30pm, which was a nice alternative from riding at a social pace in the baking sun. We snaked through Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose and back to Sunnyvale.

The start was at The Sports Basement, which was a sweet new discovery for Kelly and I. The selection was WAY better than what they have at REI, and the prices were awesome. I bought my wife a sweet camo and pink Timbuk2 D-Lux bag for $80! Those go for $130 online... and the price we got was because of the SJ Bike Party affiliation which awarded us a 20% discount. We will definetely be back - Kelly wants to check out the hiking and yoga stuff.





Sunday, August 1, 2010

Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge Ride Report

Well, the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge was yesterday and I completed the entire 100K/6,500' of climbing with my brother and Grandpa Rich (58 yrs. old and still pedalling!). The ride was... um... uneventful. Everything went very smooth - no flats, mechanicals, etc. The stops, although not as supported as the Tour De Cure or Strawberry Fields Forever, were nice and the volunteers were very good. My criticism of the day was the route did go through some heavily driven areas, and we did encounter some road rage from the cagers.

My Surly Pacer performed very well, as always, but I'm not too sure about this friction shifting thing anymore. For easy-going rides, the friction shifters work perfectly... but the moment you want to stand up and grind, the thing starts ghost shifting which is very annoying. I may have to give-in to index shifting again... and there's a wild hair in me to go back to flat, riser or old-school city handlebar. I know my brother would give me sh*t for doing so.

I saw some old classmates from Santa Cruz High, including my friend Justin Robinson (World Class Cyclocross Racer) who I used to ride BMX with, and Cindy P. who was also a classmate of mine. Both dropped me on the climbs, big time.

On big'ish rides like this, one really looks within himself and looks for improvement. For me, I'd like to get faster on my climbing, and I really think my weight is a factor. I'm not fat, just heavy from the years of weightlifting. If I can drop another 20lbs, I feel my climbing will be that much faster.

Plus, I've been convinced (suckered?) in to trying cyclocross racing this year which I will do on my SS Cyclocross bike. Body weight reduction will be necessary if I don't want to kill myself at these races.

But! Enough about me - let's see the pics. Sorry I didn't take many... there wasn't much opportunity/time to relax and shoot any off.

Me, at the top of Jamison. What's with the Clockwork Orange face?!

My Brother Deric, at the top of Jamison.

Rich, at the top of Jameson.

Rest Stop.

Rest stop.

Lunch.

Rollin'.

Post ride burrito.