Monday, May 31, 2010

I am Lame


Happy Memorial Day. I should be finishing up the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride right about now, but instead I'm wasting time online. I am lame. I've done the 7 Hills for quite a few years in a row, now I've broken the streak.

Woke up this morning to steady rain and super soaked roads. Weather reports predicted rain all day, though here in the Seattle area, they're often wrong. It's wet out, but not all that bad.

The thought of 50+ miles in the rain didn't seem too appealing at 7:00 AM. Far to easy to bag the idea. Plus $50 (though to a good cause) to basically ride around my neighborhood made it even easier to skip it. In the past, I've met up with other folks to share the ride. This year, I'd be solo - more excuse to sleep in - nobody expecting me.

Don't get me wrong, this is a cool charity ride, the only one I ride every year. I do the 40 mile option - plus ride to the event and usually ride home as well. 3000+ feet of elevation gain. Giant brownies at the food stop. About 1500 riders join the fun. Minus 1 this year. I am lame.

Oh well, maybe I'll do the 100 mile option next year to cover my lameness for this year.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rainy Saturday Ride

video

Rainy, lazy Saturday. Family slept late, which we all need at times after a hectic week. I even laid on the couch and watched Stage 20 of the Giro D'Italia on Universal Sports. Cool stage that features the Passo di Gavia climb that clinched the Giro win for Andy Hampsten back in 1988. Spectacular scenery, long climbs and dangerous descents - all elements that make pro racing so great.

I've only caught a few segments of televised coverage of this year's Giro, so getting the chance to watch an entire stage crashed on the couch was almost a mini-vacation. Sometimes rainy days are a good thing.

Late in the afternoon, I got the hankering for a little singletrack action. I asked my favorite riding partner, son Ian, if he was interested in joining me. He was riding the fence a bit, but elected to go. After some waffling and finally getting changed for the ride, we discovered his mountain bike shoes no longer fit - time for a new pair. Knowing it was gonna be a wet one, we drafted some old sneakers into action and finally headed out the door.

We hit the local trails at St Ed and Big Finn Hill, a short cruise from the house. The rain had stopped, but the trails were mighty wet indeed. I've said it before, will say it again - we're damn lucky to have fun trails rideable from our driveway. Trails were empty, probably due to the weather and being Memorial Day weekend. No problem, we'll take it.

We pulled off an easy cruise, pausing at times to play around with the camera - fun excuse to stop occasionally and also good father/son time. As usual, we also took a break at our "Clif Bar" spot, to give Ian some fuel and excuse for chocolate. I usually steal a few bites as well. Just another excuse to hang around the woods a bit with my son. All good and maybe something he'll remember years down the road. Check out the posted video for a glimpse of our local trails.

Both our new steeds are working out great. I finally have the front shifting on Ian's bike dialed in, no issues at all. Ian is also getting used to the 26" wheels and larger frame. He's climbing technical terrain better on this bike. Every ride, I dig my 29er more and more. The bigger wheels roll really nice over bumps, roots and rocks. Bike feels really stable, but nimble when needed. Believe the hype, if you still dig hardtails, a 29er is the way to roll.

After we got into the woods and warmed up a bit, Ian said he was glad we braved the weather and headed out. With other family festivities, including Little League baseball crowding our schedule, we've only hit the trails together a few times over the last few months. I really enjoy that we ride together, so great to hear that he enjoyed it as well.

With the right people around, rainy Saturdays can be a good thing after all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hakkalugi Romp

Local trails ala cx from Andy Wardman on Vimeo.


I pulled this off the Ibis site. Nicely done video of some dude in Scotland cruising singletrack on his Hakkalugi. Cool trails, great bike and stylin' rider.

If this doesn't make you wanna take the 'cross bike out for a romp - nothing will.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike to Work Day

Like the sign says - Today is F5 Bike to Work Day. F5 is a secret code word for Rainy. Today is Rainy Bike to Work Day. Not quite. Not really rainy, just Seattle wet. No secret codes either, F5 is a local IT related company that's big behind bike commuting. Can't argue with that.

I saw only a slight increase in riders today, probably due to the weather. Still, any increase is a good increase - we'll take it. The more the merrier, even on wet pavement.




Two examples of various stations set up around the Seattle area. Free snacks, maps, water bottles, Cologno frames and bags full of small unmarked bills. I lied about two items, see if you can figure it out.



Water bottles as far as the eye can see.



Fellow Ibis Guy, Mark, hides his Hakkalugi in the bushes while he collects free water bottles.



My Hakkalugi rests comfortably in the wet grass, while I collect free Clif Bars.



On the ride into work, it was a like deja vu all over again, catching up with fellow Ibis Guy Mark and his family riding together. Mark pulling trailer with young son warmly inside, his wife and daughter on a Burley tandem. They were dropping the kids off at school, then riding on to work. How cool is that?

For the ride home, shared the way with Burke-Gilman pal Gordon. Semi-fast cruise and conversation made the commute fly. Not a bad way to get home, eh?

Bike to Work Day is part of Bike to Work Month and that means Commute Challenge. At the moment, my team is officially kicking ass. Out 1600+ teams signed up, we're currently in 13th place overall for mileage. And that my friends, ain't too shabby.

Another week or so left to roll for the month. Most drop out of the bike commute scene after May ends. Some will stick with it. Others, like me, are addicted for life.

Roll on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ned Overend - Mountain Bike Like a Champion




I picked this book up a few years ago, don't remember exactly when - it's been awhile. Even so, occasionally I'll pull it out of the cluttered bookshelf and flip though it. It's a bit dated, published in 1999, though only a tad - mostly concerning dual suspension bikes - since in '99 the idea of dual suspension for XC racing was just starting to be widely accepted. Besides that fact, some great pointers from Ned Overend on riding and racing.

Any old school mountain biker knows who Ned Overend is - a legend. Multiple world and national mountain bike titles. Even after "retiring" from pro mountain bike racing in 1996, he continues to do well in road and off-road triathlons. Add in some road, cyclo-cross and hill climb victories as well. Not bad for a "retiree". Even today at 55 years old, can still compete at a pro level. Incredible. Ned could kick easily kick your ass.

Ned's book (with assistance from Ed Pavelka) is easy to read and laid back. Tips on riding - cornering, climbing, bunny hops, descending - bike set up and other useful advice. That's all cool, but my favorite sections were the training and racing sections. Ned uses more of a free-flow type training process, no endless charts of info to bore you. It's more real world advice - to me anyway. The race tips were good also. Nothing earth shattering here, but great tidbits of info useful to any racer.

Beyond the advice available in this book, the most entertaining aspects were the stories sprinkled through out the pages. Race stories, battles with John Tomac, and other glimpses into the mountain bike cross-country racing heyday of the '90s. For old school XC geek me, the best part of the book.

My neighbor, not a super serious mountain biker, but rides fairly often, borrowed the book from me awhile back. After highlighting sections of the book in pen that he found useful, he kept that copy and bought me a new one.

I think that would qualify this as a good read in anybody's book.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lil' Miss Rides Again




Back in 1995, wife and I were visiting our homeland of New Jersey for family reasons - funeral for her mom. Not a fun trip. While reviewing the estate and personal items, we collected her childhood bicycle, an old Schwinn - first bike she ever owned and learned to ride on. Before flying back, we dropped the bike off at my old pal Scott's bike shop for boxing and shipment. There's actually two bikes to this story, but I'll save the other for another day.

When the Schwinn arrived at our current home in Washington state, I promptly stashed it in the garage, and it's been sitting there every since. So 1995 to 2010. 15 years! Time flies when you're getting old and occasionally having fun.

Daughter Amy, finally bagged the training wheels on her bike a few months ago. Now, her incredibly pink little Specialized is a bit small. I mentioned "mom's old bike" is stored in the garage and maybe she could ride that instead. Amy doesn't ride very often, but she's been asking to see "mom's bike" for a few weeks now.

So, today I dragged it out for all to see.....



Lil' Miss has been hibernating in this cardboard cocoon for 15 years. A chrome fender peeks through hole, blinking at daylight. It's been a long time.



As packaged by Scott's crew (or maybe Scott himself) in 1995. They even used Zip ties, cardboard to protect the frame tubes, and plastic fork protector. Pros, I tell you. Notice the flat spot on rear tire from sitting for 15 years. If you sat for 15 years, your rear would probably look similar.



A blur from the past. Old pal Scott's business card was stuffed into the small box containing the pedals. Kind of cool to find 15 years later.



A few turns of an adjustable wrench and it lives again. Bike is in pretty good shape - will look even better when cleaned up a bit. Here it sits right of the box, not even wiped off. The tubes even hold air. Bike is from 1969 or somewhere in that era.



Lil' Miss sports purple paint and a heavy crank. Better watch it pal.



Cushy spring loaded saddle, complete with 'S' for Schwinn.




Ian speed tests Lil' Miss across green lawn. Perhaps Indie Series race bike? I think not.



Vintage Schwinn catalog shot, or Brady Bunch outtake? You be the judge. Amy poses on Lil' Miss - kickstands are handy for that.



Bike is actually a bit big for Amy - and heavy - man, it's a tank. I think the old school Schwinn frames were constructed from lead pipe. Then add in the steel rims, handlebar, stem, rims, crank - basically everything. Steel is real, baby.

I had similar bikes in my childhood, many used as pseudo BMX bikes. Cracked frames, bent rims and broken bones. Well, the broken bones for my friends. I somehow survived unscathed.

This Lil' Miss, will probably just serve as the cul-de-sac cruiser for Amy, which for it was intended. I'll clean it up, get some clean grease in the bearings, and get a kick out of seeing kids ride it once again.

A just reward for a 40+ year old bike that's been sleeping in a cardboard box for 15 years.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Into the Swing (Spring?) of Things

Spring has now officially arrived, pretty nice weather for the past two weeks or so. 40s in the morning and 60s in the afternoon. The wacky, windy, wet, 42 degree weather of the past few weeks seems to have disappeared for good. We hope.

I've ramped up my mileage to 100 - 150 miles per week, my usual amount. As the season fully kicks in, I'll occasionally get a 200 mile week on the record books. Most of the mileage is via commuting. Nothing better then riding a bike to work for health and financial benefits, plus all around goodness. Besides the fact it's fun and keeps the mental outlook balanced. And it's a good excuse to own some decent bikes - true?

Man, I'm getting old though - can feel the difference every year. I've ridden somewhat through the winter, but it's never the same as riding during the "season". I'm still in the semi-painful stage of building up some base miles. Some days I'm dragging like a bag of cement. Other days, there's a glimmer of hope and the legs feel sort of okay. It takes me a solid of month (or longer) of riding 100+ miles a week to even feel even sort of fit. I'm getting there.

Bike commuting is good and bad for building up miles. Good in the sense, there's no way I could get that kind of mileage any other way - just too busy with work and family life. Bad in a sense, some days you're toast and ride anyway - probably not recovering enough. Lately, we've still been living with one car, which forces the issue a bit as well. No choice - gotta ride. That's kind of cool though - no?

It also helps out my commute team at work. Pretty strong team and we're doing well in the Commute Challenge. When I checked this morning, we were sitting in 29th place overall for mileage, out of 1000+ teams. Not too shabby, eh?

Riding into work this morning on the Burke-Gilman Trail, talked with some dude riding an older Yeti road bike - titanium. Looked sweet, all bare titanium and white decals. No chance to grab a picture. With the Commute Challenge in full swing, can notice the difference in bike commuters - more of us. Awesome.

On the ride home, stopped by a booth set up by the Cascade Bike Club, on the side of the Burke-Gilman Trail. Music, some freebies, shirts for sale - good to see people out. Cascade is the largest bike club in the U.S. with 12,000+ members. Gives you a hint how bike crazy the Seattle area is. This is really a great place to live, trust me on that.



Big club means official table covers.



Welcome to my tent. Free bike fittings, live music, mingle with fellow bike geeks.



The ultimate commuter. Oh carbon Ibis, how I dig thee.



As been the routine for a few weeks now, I'll ride to son Ian's Little League game or practice on the way home. They play at two different fields. One is directly on the way home, so when the family piles in the car to head back to the house - I continue my ride (and usually beat them home). The other field is out of the way a bit, so I'll load up the bike and share the car ride for the remainder of the trip home. Not a bad set up. Second car? Why bother?

The riding continues tomorrow.....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Danny "Magoo" Chandler 1959 - 2010




I read today that Danny "Magoo" Chandler died recently, as a result of issues from being paralyzed since a race crash in 1985. I was sorry to read that news and it brought a rush of motocross memories back for me. I haven't ridden a dirt motorcycle since 1981, but remember Magoo from "back in the day." Even though its been decades since I was involved with the dirt bike scene, this news put a personal damper on my day and had me thinking about that era.

As a teenager in the mid to late '70s, I was really into dirt motorcycles - okay, obsessed - as was my small group of like minded friends. We rode every weekend - motocross style on free-for-all practice tracks, through the woods on singletrack - raced some motocross and hare scramble events as well. We followed the pros through magazines and attended pro level races as spectators. Yeah, we were into it.

That era, arguably, was the "golden era" of motocross. Many motorcycle companies involved, many no longer around - Bultaco, Montesa, Can-Am, CZ, Ossa, Maico, Husqvarna - as well as the big Japanese brands - Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha. It was the era of two-stroke motors and classes of 125, 250, and Open displacement.

All this coincided with a dirt bike boom in the U.S. Many kids in my neighborhood had mini-cycles or dirt bikes at the time. For most, it was just something to buzz around the school yard with. For others, including my friends and I - this was our sport, our "thing", and we took it a little more seriously.

I have many memories and images burned into my memory banks from that era. Fun times with friends, trail riding and racing motocross. Images from magazines - photos and stories of pro level racing. Back then, most info was absorbed from the pages of Dirt Bike and Motocross Action magazines. Yes kids - no internet or 150 cable channels back then.

From the pages of Dirt Bike and Motocross Action, we studied photos and read about riders like Roger DeCoster, Marty Smith, Kent Howerton, Bob Hannah, Jimmy Weinert, Tony DiStefano as well as other pros of that era - including Danny "Magoo" Chandler.




Fly on Mr. Magoo. Fly on.


Magoo was a hard charging fearless racer, with a crazy no hold bars style that still won races - or at least fans who loved to watch him race. My images of Magoo are of his days with Maico, the hallowed German company that produced very trick motocross bikes, though maybe a few steps behind the technology advanced bikes from Japan. Seeing the young wild riding American on a Maico was really cool. Besides being fast, Magoo was also infamous for spectacular crashes, photos that often graced the pages of magazines as well.



Bent 'bars? No problem, hard on the gas anyway.







Unfortunately, at a Supercross race in Paris in 1985, Magoo crashed hard with serious injuries, resulting in being paralyzed and ending his career. A sad and scary ending for a very popular rider and racer.

Even while paralyzed, Magoo later gave back to the sport through his MX safety school. From what I've read, his life was not easy after that crash in '85 and he fought through it with the same determination as he did racing.

People who engage in motocross or other high risk sports, know the risks or can block them out in order to succeed. Nobody wants to get hurt. In some ways, racers who are seriously injured (or even killed), paid the ultimate price for their sport - or art if you will. Is it worth it?

That's a very personal question that only every individual can answer. As someone who's dabbled in the sport of motocross (though nowhere near that intensity), this kind of thing hits closer to home.

In any case, what Danny "Magoo" Chandler brought to the motocross table, combined with the fun and excitement it brought to fans, was very cool indeed. As was the sobering aftermath that life goes on even after a debilitating injury, and that positive things can result from that as well.



Danny Chandler R.I.P.

Monday, May 3, 2010

DO UN2 ME

To kick off the Commuter Challenge that started today, I....uh, drove to work. A nice start to the festivities, no? Woke up super late, drove in to save time - though that plan was foiled by traffic - took me the same amount of time as riding. Plus $8 to park. Nice. That'll teach me.

On the way home however, I was slightly glad to be driving - a rare event. Pouring rain, wind and thundershowers, complete with hail. All with barely 50 degree temps. Joy.

While at work, I attempted to get my commuter team fully registered on the Cascade site - again with no luck. Those dudes have some serious server and application issues. Let's hope it's from a mega amount of people attempting to sign up and killing the server - that would be a valid excuse.

While looking through the Message Boards on the Cascade site, to see how many others are experiencing sign up woes, came across this little story posted by a Cascade club member....

A group of 4 cyclists riding by Mercer Island City Hall were nearly run off the road this morning by an aggressive driver on his way to church. Oh the irony. His license plate was "DO UN2 ME". This occured where the road is three lanes wide; 4 cyclists were riding two abreast by two rows. This minivan pulled alongside our group - almost entirely still in our lane - squeezing the group and nearly causing a crash. He was on the horn the entire time. When I yelled "HEY!!!" he jammed on the brakes like Dr. Christopher Thompson. Moments later, he rolled down his window and pleasant conversation endued.

Be careful out there. This guy almost hurt some people really bad...and couldn't have cared less. Called us "F#cking bicycles", for getting in his way on the way to church. What a messed up world.

The post links to pictures taken by guy who posted the story......



Ironic, no?



Mini van parked out front of church. Now I can see why he was in a hurry - look at the awesome parking spot he scored! Well worth potentially maiming or killing a few cyclists.



I find this story incredulous and annoying on many levels. How can it not? Guy who posted it went on to say he contacted the police and the church. I would have done the same - contact the Pastor of the church and mention this member could use a little talking to. Come on dude, wake up.

In any case, I'm glad no one was hurt, and if you live in the Seattle area - watch out for a silver mini van sporting some personalized plates. Obviously the driver has no idea what the message really means.

Ride safe.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Race Series Update - Is It Spring Yet?



Spring has sort of arrived in the great Pacific Northwest. If you consider a few weeks of windy 40 - 50 degree temps, sprinkled with occasional showers - then yes, spring is here.

I've ramped up my riding a bit, to about 130 road miles a week, plus a weekend mountain bike ride thrown into the mix. I usually bike commute a few days a week, but now forced to at times, due to being a one car family. I always thought we could survive with one car if needed and the past few weeks have proven that true. We're still on the lookout for a used car however, but no rush. I also have someone interested in buying my blown up SE-R, which is better then sending it to the crusher (or me fixing it). The dude who wants it already has one SE-R heavily modified for autocross and track use. Would be cool if he restored mine to full use once again.

To kill the need for a second car even more, I always crank up the riding in May due to the Commuter Challenge. Monday is the kick off and my team at work is ready. Pretty strong team this year (once again) and I think we'll take our company commuting crown. We'll see. It's all for fun, bragging rights, and a ploy to get people bike commuting. A good scene.

I had a few interesting commutes last week, due to a late work schedule - one day unplanned, with my lights left at home. Had to break out the emergency light, little AA battery powered deal that I keep in my messenger bag. Barely enough light to see down sections of the very dark Burke-Gilman Trail. It wound up being kind of a fun 17 mile ride home. Full moon, empty trail, overriding the wimpy beam of light, felt like flying a bit. In a sense I was flying - flying blind. I've been on this trail literally hundreds of times, so not that big of a deal. At least it was memorable.

Month of May also kicks off the local Indie Series mountain bike race series, something Ian and I enjoyed the last two seasons. This usually kicks off in April, however the series has been cut from 8 races to just 4 events. The easier, and closer, races were cut - the races best suited for 10 year old Ian. Kind of a bummer, though we'll probably still hit some of the events this year. Ian has also been tied up in the crazy little league schedule (first year for him), killing much of our free time. He's barely been on his bike this spring. He's still interested however, which is cool, plus he's looking forward to spending more time on his new ride.

MFG Cyclocross, another local race series, has announced their fall 'cross schedule and we're looking forward to that as well. Ian and I hit two of their races last fall and had a blast. Huge fun. We'll be back for sure.

With that, I now conclude this rambling post of dubious info. Ride on. Ride often.