Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday in the Park

Took a little trip to the park yesterday - as in Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park - located in Issaquah. We've been there a few times now and always have a great time. A few short XC loops, mixed in wooden stunt structures, jumps - big and small, skinnies, and a pump track. A little something for everyone. An awesome spot to hit and very popular with a wide range of riders; from armor clad freeride/jumper types, to XC riders, to families riding together. And lots of kids. Kids dig this place. Even "big kids" like me.

Old pal Brian and neighbor Dan joined Ian and I for the fun. We buzzed around for three hours or so, hit all the XC trails - some a few times, and messed around with the other attractions. Rained a little, sun later popped out, we all get a little muddy. All around good clean fun.

Ian get his balance down on the practice skinny. A few inches off the ground, piece of cake. A few feet off the ground, another universe.

Old school XC Dork me hits the skinnies. Though you can't tell by my rusty skills now, I used to ride a little observed trials back in the day.

Ian hits the pump track for the first time, this one being new since our last visit. Fantastic fun watching his skills progress. He floundered around for a few minutes, then was almost lapping sans pedaling - the whole point of a pump track. After a few minutes, said his arms were toast. I asked how would he like something like this in the backyard. "Yeah?" Ah sorry, chance of the wife approving that project is slim to none.

Riding cohorts for the day. Son Ian, neighbor Dan, and old pal Brian. I dig riding with people from all over the map - different ages, abilities, equipment and riding style. There is no wrong answer and all for fun.

As we were loading up for the trip home, caught this little dude ready to head out with his family. The future of it all.

After a morning of riding, yakking and playing; all of us hit Chipolte in Issaquah, our usual post Duthie chow down spot. Sun was out, outside table, no rush. Sound like a good day? Yeah, it was for sure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hunqapillar Video - Rivendell Style

Caught this cool little video - actually, cool isn't the right word. Pleasant fits better. I caught this pleasant little video off the Rivendell site. It's a promo for their mountain bike model, the Hunqapillar. An old school and dare I say, a bit retro mountain bike. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly fits the Rivendell style.

Also in typical Rivendell style, their "advertising" sells bicycling itself more then bicycles. And that's something other bicycle companies have trouble pulling off, even with expensive marketing types and big budgets. Grant Petersen and the Rivendell gang pull this off with low budget ease. Why? Because they're the real deal. This kind of thing seems to flow from Rivendell, 'cause it's not forced or made up. It's real.

I get a kick out of the video, since it focuses on fun and just being outside with your bike. There's no race posturing, imaging, or pretending. Something many cyclists are guilty of - me included - even though that's part of the schtick I sometimes enjoy. To each his own.

The Hunqapiller reminds me a bit, at least in spirit, of my first mountain bike back in 1984. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, something to be celebrated. Simple but capable bike, street clothes, no helmet, maybe some P&B sandwiches in that saddlebag. Out for a cruise, enjoy the view, stop for a bit to soak it all in.

In the end, that's really what it's all about.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Indie Series Begins - 2011 Style

Today kicked off the 2011 Indie Series. A great series of races in the Pacific Northwest, with results combined for overall winners in various classes. It also forces you to hopscotch around Washington State to sample various courses and riding areas. Each event a mini adventure for us. Ian, just coming off the Budu Series, was looking forward to this.

The Indie Series has sentimental value to me. This series is what introduced Ian to racing back in 2008 at the age of 9. He completed the series and finished 3rd overall for kids 10 and under. A fantastic experience for both of us.

Ian, circa 2008, first Indie Series. He's rocking the 24" wheel Specialized. That's me following behind, as was the practice back then. Fun memories.

Repeat for 2009; another great experience and 2nd overall in the 10 and under class. Ian may not be the fastest racer at times, but he doesn't give up and once he starts a series, wants to complete the whole deal. He does well via consistency and watching his series points accumulate. And in the end, a valuable life lesson. True?

Ian, circa 2009, second Indie Series under his belt. He's holding his "Young Rider of The Year Award" given to him at the series final. It currently hangs in his room. Pretty cool, eh?

2010 rolls around and we're psyched for the new season, with new bike build up included. 2010 was also the year Ian wanted to try Little League baseball. Fair enough, let's give it a go. With multiple practices and games per week - all new to us - baseball wound up taking up most of our free time. The Indie Series was also in transition, with just a few races scheduled. So, not much mountain bike racing action last year. This year Ian elected to skip baseball and focus on racing his bike. Yabba Dabba Do.

Ian, circa 2010, at bat. We spent a lot more time around ball fields then woods that year. Not a bad experience, but not as much fun as riding bikes. Agree?

With that long winded intro, the 2011 Indie Series officially starts. Number of races down a bit from previous years, but with new events on the horizon. Kick off was at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, located on the Olympic Peninsula, a very scenic area of Washington. Rural, huge mountains and water views.

Race put on by the Olympic Dirt Society at Dry Hill. This area known for their downhill race series. What goes down must go up, so an XC race on this terrain required some climbing. Race description mentioned an 8 mile lap with 1200+ feet of elevation gain. Ian scheduled to do one lap for his class, Boys 11 - 14. I was scheduled to be head driver, mechanic, coach and main money source.

After another 4:00 AM wake up call, a three hour drive, unload and get him registered and warmed up, Ian is on the line ready to roll. At the last minute, I suit up and decide to ride behind Ian's class to get a taste of the course and some riding time myself - without actually racing. Lame I am. I considered racing 45+ Beginner or Sport - then came to my senses...

Off they go, with me casually filing behind about 15 seconds later. Course immediately starts climbing up a dirt road. No warm up, old me, instantly into semi-hurt mode, watching kids pull away. These little buggers are pretty fast. I see Ian hanging on to the end of the group, in his usual out of the saddle climbing style. After all our rides together, I'd recognize it from a mile away.

I catch up and fall behind though the first half of he race, enjoying my first row (yet painful) seat to the action. This is a tough course - much climbing - on dirt roads and singletrack. I'm amazed how strong some of these kids can ride, Ian included. We're a world away from following a 9 year old Ian during first race series, not all that long ago.

Eventually on one climb, Ian cracks and walks part of it, losing the remainder of his group. I catch up and he's pretty toasted - but will finish. We walk and ride various sections together. Ian losing me at times, especially on the short downhill sections. I'm not exactly moving at my (alleged) race speed, but certainly moving at a fast clip. Racer bike fan me is impressed. Parent me is proud and slightly nervous. As they grow, the faster they get and the risks go up.

Last climb of the course - dirt road - really steep. Walked by toasted Ian, and me for some company (and relief). From info at the start, we know the remaining 2.5 miles is a technical, singletrack downhill. I tell Ian to relax, get his thoughts together, give it a go. He's off a few seconds before me, I never saw him again until the finish.

The downhill was very technical - super steep, roots, loose rock, muddy, tight switchbacks - the real deal. Certainly one of the most technical downhills Ian has ever ridden. I worked my way down, arm pump and hurting hands included, hoping not to find Ian crumbled in a heap.

Not the case, he did extremely well; plus, maybe his 10th ride on clipless pedals. I was glad to see him waiting at the finish. We talked about the downhill for a few minutes - a shared experience for sure. Challenging and fun for both of us. I don't know any other way to get that post mountain bike ride buzzed feeling. If you know, and it's legal, pass it on...

Ian's speedo only clocked 7 miles or so. The course also felt like way more then the advertised 1200+ elevation gain. This was the full on old school hard core XC course. Tough climbs and tricky descent. Fun, but plenty hard. Taking this for several laps at (adult) race speeds would ratchet up the pain factor many notches. For an 11 year old, one lap was plenty.

So, final tally: 6th place out of six kids in his class. Technically last place. Still a hard won result in my book and series points included. I think he did great - but hey - I'm biased. As we were walking up a section of the course, I mentioned that he's basically doing these races with little to no training and still does okay. We'll try to work in some midweek rides, not easy at times with work, homework and the usual routine. Summer is almost here and no school requirement will help.

While we changed and loaded up for the drive home, he was asking when the next race was. Considering the effort put out and the resulting 6th place, pretty cool to hear. Ian obviously digs this whole scene. Following him for this race was huge fun, something I used to do when he was younger. No need to really follow him anymore, glad I squeezed this one in.

I left the camera in the car all day, so just grabbed this award winning shot of the parking lot as we left. Spectacular, I know. Feel free to download and frame as needed. Makes an excellent gift. Call now, operators are standing by.

The goofy ass '94 Camry wagon I picked up months ago has been working great. Boring to drive, but chock full of room for bike crap. Can even fit seven people with rear jump seat. Here it awaits the ferry ride home, much to envious looks of fellow motorists...

Ian passed out waiting for the ferry. Getting up at 4:00 AM, racing your bike, and driving for many hours will do that - to an 11 year old - and adults as well. He slept for hours on the return trip, including a half hour in the driveway. Yup, he was officially worn out.

Muddy bikes on the roof rack is always a good sign.

That's all for now. Another race and report in the record books. More races, poor photography and related sappy stories to follow. Time for me to finally get some sleep...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike to Work Day - Hit and Run Included

To celebrate Bike to Work Day, I was hit by a truck. For real. To save some typing time, my Facebook post says it all...

Riding home from work today, woman in a pickup truck hits me from behind. Just a few inches from totally taking me out.

Cut on elbow is from the truck itself as it buzzed by. Huge dirt mark washed off before pic taken. Woman turns around looking shocked after hitting me. I make eye contact with a "What the hell look" - and she take
s off. I guess she figured since I didn't crash (I almost did), everything is okay. Insane.

She's lucky the light was green 50 yards ahead or I would have caught her. Two cops were also working traffic duty at the light. I pointed her out, but she was already up the road. I didn't catch her plate number, but did call it in. Cop at the scene basically said without a plate number, not much they can do - which I realize.

I can't comprehend how a person can hit a cyclist, pedestrian, another car - or whatever - then just take off. They literally have no moral compass. Quite sad actually.

Just a small scrape, arm is slightly sore - no big deal. But it's like being grazed by a bullet. Injury is minor, but just a few inches away from some serious hurt.

Fairly ironic considering my blog post from yesterday. Still, for all the years and miles I've ridden, my safety record is off the charts; on the good side. Besides bicycles, same story for motorcycles. I'm either damn lucky or pretty good at staying safe.

She hit me on one of the new "Sharrow" lanes in downtown Seattle. Lanes where cars and bikes share the lane and bikes have the right of way. I usually ride in the center of the lane to block people from trying to squeeze by, but let myself drift a bit the left, so she blows past clipping me in the process. Moronic and dangerous.

Stupid mistake I can forgive. Punching the gas and leaving afterwards I cannot. That is world class lame.

I seriously doubt I'll hear anything further about this. I will be back to full on lane blocking for the next trip.

Ride safe...

05/23/11 Update: This morning I received a call from the Seattle Police Department. Apparently the woman returned to the scene a few minutes after I left.

According to the officer, she seemed genuinely sorry. Said she continued to drive away confused as to what happened (maybe because I didn't crash?). She did receive a ticket for "Inattentive Driving" for clipping me. I also have all info needed for insurance, though besides a scrape on the arm, I'm fine. So no action needed there.

So, still a scary situation - but ends on a more positive note.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Under the Veneer

At the moment, the most read and commented on story in the Seattle Times, is an opinion article on bicycling; asking what's the big deal about bikes sharing the road with motorists. It leans towards the bicycle side, so brewed up a fury of the anti-bicycle crowd. You can read the article and comments here.

For being such a bike crazed area, or maybe because of it, anytime a bicycle related piece runs in the paper - it unleashes a torrent of hatred towards bicyclists. The comments run the gamut of complaints. Some of it true - yes, a percentage of us run red lights, ride like idiots on the sidewalk, and generally have no clue how to ride in traffic. Some of it ignorant - like we're not paying our share of taxes and use the road for "free". These people have no idea how roads are actually funded. Some of it moronically funny - the hang up about bike shorts, or how we're dangerous to motorists.

From the comments section, you'd think the Seattle area is pure chaos in the streets. Bikes careening out of control at every intersection, motorists on the verge of running down cyclists in defense. In real life, far from the case.

I've lived in the Seattle area for 22 years now. Been on and off bike commuting the entire time, almost full time for the last 6 years or so. That's thousands of commute and recreational rides. Many miles have passed under my two wheels.

Sure, occasionally someone will pass too close for comfort or cut me off. I've seen incredible acts of stupidity from motorists and fellow bicyclists. But overall, that kind of scene is hardly measurable compared to the zillions of hours of everyone getting along. Or maybe I'm just lucky or feel comfortable riding in traffic. For the most part, in my experience anyway, people tend to give each other room as needed.

The folks who spew their ignorance anonymously behind the veil of the Internet are either a minority, or it's just the thin veneer of social conformity that keeps it all together in real life. I think there's elements of both in that answer.

In any case, I'll be enjoying my ride home today. The closeted bike haters can tap away on their keyboards or fume while sitting in traffic. I'll get home with a sense of accomplishment, plus an hour of being outside. You don't know what you're missing. Jump over the fence, give it a try.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chris Akrigg Video - New Age Impressive

Friend of mine sent me this link via Facebook. Very well done video with brilliant riding by some kid named Chris Akrigg. A fantastic blend of downhill, BMX, and trials skills. Amazing.

Man, these kids are pushing the boundaries of what's possible on a mountain bike. Fun to watch, almost impossible to emulate.

Plus, these kids heal a lot quicker when something goes a little off...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

'Cross Bike Shake Down

First real ride for Ian on his new 'cross bike we picked up many weeks ago. After swapping the Continental 25c tires and SPD pedals from my currently dead 'cross/commuter, adjusting the seat height and a few other tweaks - we headed to the local trail for short shake down session. We also broke out the rest of Ian's JL Velo kit to make the road scene look official. I even popped the visor off his helmet. Every culture has its uniform...

Ian flies with the birds, looking pro.

In a few short years, this will be my only view, as he rides me off his wheel.

That's my boy, all of 11 years old. Super cool, fun stuff for him. Me too.

My little Pro. Our turn around point for the ride.

Coach, sponsor, mechanic, bottle washer - that be me. This shot officially titled "Dork Boy. King of the Sheds". Whatever that means...

Quick 10 mile cruise, before the rain hit. Well, the rain actually did hit, soaking us for the last two miles or so. I'm really glad I washed my bike this morning. Yeah, that was worth it. The Redline 'cross machine seems to fit Ian well. With room to raise the seat post and installing a longer stem, hoping to get a few months of use out of this bike.

Ian mentioned it feels faster then his mountain bike. At times he was moving 17 - 20 mph quite easily, so I'd have to agree. Bike still feels "twitchy" to him, that should disappear with more time on it. First time riding with real bike shorts as well, verses his usual baggy mountain bike shorts. They were riding up and bugging him a bit, a little loose on his skinny 11 year old legs. I better pile on the pasta ASAP.

A short, but fun mini-adventure for the afternoon. We'll work some longer road rides into the picture to compliment his usual mountain biking. Later, the 'cross tires will be remounted and some practice for 'cross season this fall. More great adventures await.

Friday, May 13, 2011

All Around Fluffy Bike Goodness

Yesterday's commute was chock full of fluffy bicycle goodness. Our coldest April on record appears to be continuing into May. A balmy 44 degrees when I rolled out of the driveway, sunny however, not bad at all. Thank you very much.

On the way in, ran into fellow Ibis Guy, Mark, on the trail. He had the full family in tow; with wife and daughter on the tandem, himself on the old school Hakkalugi, and six year old son piloting a brand new Redline - his birthday present that very day. All of 'em headed to work or school via bike. If that doesn't put a smile on your bike lovin' face, nothing will.

After a hectic day at work, complete with internal interview for possible new job, I change into superhero riding costume for the spin home. Sorta like a skinnier, older version of Superman. I also can't leap tall buildings in a single bound or stop bullets with my teeth.

I stopped by the Cascade club shindig along the Burke-Gilman Trail, all part of the Commute Challenge festivities. Picked up my official Team Captain shirt, reflective bands for my team (to potentially win prizes), a few maps and water bottles, plus a free ice tea sample to chug on the ride home. Combined with almost 60 degree sunny weather, many happy faces, and bikes everywhere. How do we stand it?

I played around with camera while buzzing home...

For all my old school "steel is real" blabbering, I really dig my carbon Ibis. Stupid light and rides incredibly well. Carbon fiber really is the wonder material - as in I wonder if the carbon steerer tube is cracked and waiting to explode into shards. Let's not go there...

Living up to my motto: Look Pro. Go Slow.

Legs feel like February. It's May. I have some work to do. My shock treatment training plan in full swing. Go from near zero to 150+ miles a week ASAP. Legs feel like overcooked linguine most mornings. By afternoon, ready to roll. Sorta. A big lunch plate of spicy teriyaki chicken assists with the healing process. I think so anyway (burp).

Sunset over the Sammamish Slough. Not counting the nice steep climb to my neighhorhood, almost home.

With that, we now conclude this installment of bike fluff. Stay tuned for more fluffy installments as time and interest warrants. Same fluff time, same fluff channel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Idiots 'R' Them

Yesterday, I'm cruising home from work on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Riding no hands, sitting bolt upright at maybe 17 mph, just daydreaming and rolling at a slow pace.

That shattered in an instant, when racer wannabe passes on the right, using the one foot of pavement between me and the grass. He's doing about 25 mph and I grab my 'bars as he startles me. His handlebars miss hooking mine by two inches. WTF? He's on the drops and hauls past in a blur.

As he goes by, I yell out "Pretty f@%@ing stupid!" and take off after him. He never turns around or acknowledges me, but does crank up the speed a bit. I'm soon on his wheel, he can hear me and powers on, head down in the drops. At one point he almost lost it when his front wheel dropped off the edge of the trail into the grass. I never said anything else and by now had enough and came to my senses. Plus the fact I was suffering to stay on his wheel. I end the stupidity and coast back to cruise mode.

Wide open trail, goof ball passes me on the right, with no room to spare or verbal warning. Ridiculous. I'd be even more hacked nursing a broken collarbone or other injury if this guy took me out. A stupid way to be sidelined for a few weeks. I'm super tolerant of people making dumb mistakes and pretty downright friendly to all, especially on the bike. People who know me would agree. This little moronic maneuver really ticked me off however.

Hopefully he thought it was all worth the risk; while gracing the podium crowning him King of the Burke-Gilman Trail. Race on dude - you're awesome. An awesome idiot.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Powerhitter in Action

Time for a federally mandated rock break from all things bicycle related. Behold the heavy riffs of Powerhitter. Old Mackie Designs pals Brian Stan on guitar and Kevin Johnson pulling drumming duty. Their pal, Ripe Magooder - yes, Ripe Magooder - on bass. I mentioned seeing 'em live a few weeks ago, now video proof courtesy of YouTube.

After viewing; 11 year old son Ian, now a rap listener, declared it "Almost as bad as Motorhead." Amy, my 7 year old daughter in a sarcastic tone, "What, this is it? No singing? Bye." The band may incorporate this into marketing material...

Despite my offspring's rejection, I dig it - being a fan of heavier music. Give it a whirl.

Oh yeah, besides being an old mountain bike pal, Brian is also a fantastic skateboarder. Click here for proof.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chainsmoker Race - Welcome to Wenatchee

Saturday, Ian and I headed to Wenatchee for the Chainsmoker mountain bike race. This event held at Squilchuck State Park, a bit of a haul from the house. We debated on heading over Friday night or getting up stupid early on Saturday for the 3 hour drive. Stupid early won, with a 4:00 AM wake up call and we're rolling before 5:00 AM. Raining as we left the Seattle area, but the sun broke though once we crossed over Stevens Pass on scenic Route 2.

Ian had a nice head cold all week, his second nasty cold in 3 weeks now. This race being a qualifying race for the National event scheduled for later this summer in Sun Valley, Idaho - he really wanted to go for it - so we did. Top 15 finishers in each division qualify for the National. I seriously doubted there'd be more the 15 kids in his 11-12 age division and I was proven correct. Only 5 kids in Ian's class, so just had to finish to qualify. We'll take it.

At this point, not 100% sure we'll head over to Idaho this summer, but at least we now have that option. I think that would be a pretty cool experience for an 11 year old - we'll see.

A few of Ian's JL Velo teammates also competed. I was hoping for an easy post sickness race for Ian; just cruise and qualify, have fun. Not really to be. Ian's one lap race was short, just under 5 miles, but included 1000 feet of climbing. The course was also at 3200 feet of elevation, complete with patches of snow remaining. This will not be an easy cruise.

On the start line, Ian eyes up the competition. Other junior racers of various ages await the start as well. Get ready to rumble.

And away we go. Pavement start that quickly became very steep before heading into the woods. A bit of climb for sure, complete with patches of snow covering areas of pavement.

Fellow JL Velo junior teammate - think this is Brandon - crosses the road mid-race, back into the woods for more dirt action.

Teammate Will, crossing at the same point. Besides JL Velo, Will also races for his new high school team.

Scott Funston, super fast 11 year old, won the 11-12 age division. We know Scott and his dad from previous mountain bike and 'cross races. Nice folk, as are most people related to bicycle racing. Why is that? Genetics, DNA, shared interest? You be the judge.

Matt, one of the adult JL Velo racers, enjoys the 3 seconds of smooth pavement before getting pounded by dirt yet again.

Will's dad, Matt, in his first ever mountain bike race. Great to see.

Mike, another JL Velo junior racer attacking the course. Go Mike go...

Finally, here's Ian on the course. He had a tough day, going off course and then backtracking to complete the race. The lower section was a bit confusing, as a few other racers made the same mistake. Instead of popping back into the woods for the last section of singletrack, they headed straight up the pavement climb towards the finish. As I waited by the finish line, watched Ian climb towards me and gave him the bad news. He was mad, mentioned wanting to quit - got over it - then spun around and flew back down the hill. I followed on my bike for a bit to make sure he caught the correct trail. He then completed the singletrack climb to officially finish. Ouch.

With the goof up, scored 4th out of 5 racers in his age group. I'm proud of him; racing a little sick, up at 4:00 AM, with warming up, racing and the additional mistaken climb - lots of climbing for the day. Plus, he got over the error, didn't quit and qualified for nationals. Not bad for 11 years old, if I may say so myself.

After loading up the official race rig - the sporty '94 Camry wagon - and a lunch stop in Wenatchee, headed back over Stevens Pass for the 3 hour slog home. A long day, yet not quite over. JL Velo team meeting scheduled for 7:00 PM at Center Cycle also on the agenda. After a short break at home, we're on the road again, headed towards Renton.

I've never been to Center Cycle, place is huge. Loads of inventory. Quite the shop. For the meeting; free pizza, sales specials for teammates, folks from Redline giving us the lowdown on the 2012 models. Some sweet new 29ers and carbon 'cross bikes available from Redline. Killer team deals, alas, not in my budget. Otherwise, I would have ordered a new 'cross bike for myself. It was painful not being able to score on the deal, especially with my current 'cross bike being down for the count.

Redline marketing dude was interesting to hear speak. He's also involved with the design of the 'cross line up. Even though the frames are manufactured off-shore, can hear the design details and passion that goes into each bike.

Yeah, they have a few bikes in stock. Ian is dwarfed by the huge selection.

Teammate mingling, pizza eating, talking bikes and looking at new stuff. Not a bad Saturday night.

Mega huge shop. A different universe from my shop days in the '80s.

Combine overload bike related festivities along with Mother's Day fun on Sunday, and you have yourself a pretty busy weekend. Documented once again with hastily written words and shoddy photography, all for your alleged enjoyment. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crunchy Commute to Bummer Land

Riding home from work today, heading up Eastlake towards the Burke-Gilman Trail, crunching noise emanates from the rear of the steel Ibis, instantly followed by locked up rear wheel. Mr. Derailleur, meet Mr. Spokes. Even though I was in the lowest gear, wasn't even shifting at the time. Damn weird. The results were pretty dramatic....

That my friends, is pretty damn ugly. Wasted '97 era XTR derailleur, chain jammed behind cassette, and severely bent derailleur hanger. It took me awhile to untangle the mess. Plan was to remove the derailleur and convert to emergency single speed to get home. I had all the required tools in my messenger bag. After pulling everything apart, discovered the derailleur hanger was bent enough to rub against the cassette. Incredible. I tried a few cave man methods to bend the hanger back. Insert Dream On by Aerosmith for the correct soundtrack.

A stream of bike commuters buzzed by, since Eastlake is a popular commute route. A few asked if I needed help - including a dude riding a recumbent - I asked if he had an adjustable wrench on him. Score! He had one in his mighty tool bag. The stubby wrench clamped around the hanger gave me the leverage to bend it just enough to clear the cassette. I'll never make fun of recumbent riders again. Well, at least for a few months. Recumbent Dude saved my ass for sure.

Post road side derailleur-ectomy, chain now shortened into pseudo single speed mode, allowing the remaining 15 or so commute miles to be powered by me. Except for the last super steep mile into my neighborhood, that I had to walk; couldn't pull it off with my new "single speed". I was also afraid to really torque on the cranks with the damaged chain, could have easily snapped. That would have just added insult to injury. Or maybe in this case, injury to insult.

Jokes aside, I'm incredibly bummed over this. The entire drive train of this bike needed to be replaced anyway - cassette, chain rings, chain, BB bearings - are all shot. Being tight on dough, I was dragging every mile out of it. Now I've paid the price. Out of all my bikes, this one is the most used by far and my favorite all around bike. It's also the only one currently fitted with fenders, a must for commuting here. Damn, what a pain.

The derailleur hanger is really tweaked, but being steel, think it's repairable. I could probably wrestle it back myself, but I may have a local frame shop perform that operation to be sure everything is back in line. I'll call Davidson tomorrow to get a quote. When I add that cost, plus the drive train replacement, then factor in the flaky left STI old school 8 speed shifter, plus the rear XTR cassette freehub is sticky - a new bike make be cheaper. Ouch.

A new bike in that price range won't be as trick as the old school '97 Ibis Hakkalugi however. I built this bike up in '97 part by hand selected part. The speedo died and was removed years ago. I'm guessing the frame and fork have 20,000+ miles on it. Probably more. Many, many commute rides, some fun rides, and even a 'cross race. It's a damn cool bike. I'll have to weigh out my options.

Bizarrely enough, my carbon Ibis ate a derailleur a few months back, when the replaceable hanger broke off. I've been riding forever and never had this happen on a road bike. Now twice!

I'll wallow in my tears for a short while, then figure something out. Meanwhile, I hope it doesn't rain. Cue up Dream On for an encore...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Back in the Saddle - Part II

To quote an old Aerosmith song, I'm back in the saddle again. Well, commuting saddle anyway. I've been riding on weekends and suffering through the occasional trainer session in the garage; however, the wheels fell off the commuting wagon many months ago. My lamest winter in years. That's been rectified as of today to kick off the Commute Challenge, me being Team Captain of Team Jerckx - that's our official team name - little wordplay on Eddy Merckx. I'd feel kinda lame not rolling it out on kick off day, even if the weather was in the 40s and raining. Yes, a wet 17 miles to work it was.

Commuting Tip #42: Spare PC makes an excellent dryer for wet bike clothes. Disable screen saver and/or hit keyboard throughout the day to keep the heat cranking. Rotate clothes a bit after a few hours for even drying. Presto, warm and dry clothes for ride home. Horrified look on coworkers faces included at no extra charge.

Exhaust fan of PC makes a nifty shoe dryer. Being a Mac fan, I always knew PCs were good for something. Before you get your geek tizzy all lathered up, I've been involved with PC and Mac support for decades now. Pros and cons to both. The old PC does make an excellent shoe dryer however...

The 17 miles home only offered a spritz of rain. I didn't miss the pair of sloshy Sidi shoes at all. Here, my trusty Ibis Hakkalugi rests against a public notice informing peasants a 2 mile stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail - one of the most used trails in the U.S. - will soon be closed for 6 months for renovations. No detour info provided. Sweet. Besides being my commute route, about a zillion people use this trail on sunny weekends. The summer sounds like a perfect time to close it. Excellent idea. Detours around this will not be easy, since a mixture of confusing and/or busy roads are the only option. For commuting, I'll probably just use the bus lane of the busy road mentioned (no shoulder on this road) and time trial for 2 miles to make it quick as possible. I'm betting other bike commuters will be pulling off the same commando operation.

Now that my commuting slump has been officially busted, let the riding begin. My body says it's February, the calendar says it's May - time to get moving. Ramping up from zero to 170 miles per week (my full commute schedule) takes time. With my lame winter, late start, and Commute Challenge now in full swing - I'll be rushing that pace a bit. It'll be fun and painful at the same time. Let the commuting wheels start rolling.