Sunday, April 25, 2010

Las Vegas to the Loire Valley

June is shaping up. A couple of days mountain biking in the Nevada desert on a Ellsworth Epiphany (rented) followed by a week of bike touring in the Loire Valley. The Loire Valley tour will follow a week of "larding-up" in Paris which will likely involve the Vélib' - Paris' very cool public bike rental program with hundreds of automated bike rental stations scattered all around the city.

I am so gonna be bike riding in June.

Monter sur!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Good Morning

Sara and I finished the Hibernia Duathlon in 1:55. Lap times (run, bike, bike, run) were 0:22, 0:28, 0:30, 0:25. A belly full of pizza and Gatorade, a hot shower, and now the couch is calling out to me and I am powerless to resist.

It was really a blast chasing down a few riders. The distance slowly closes. Eventually they hear you behind them and they pick up the pace...for a while, but then they surrender and you politely say "on your left." Or as was the case in one particularly sketchy downhill, I dove for another line through the rocks and instantly he was behind me. Of course many of these poor souls had already run 2.5 miles and I was still fresh because I had Sara do the dirty work for me. But still, it was fun!
Digression: One guy rode a Surly Pugsley, I think that is a cool bike. My full suspension was definitely too much bike for this race, but I needed gears on the flats. Thinking of trading the FS in for a 29er hard tail, with gears...or a Pugsley.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Six Forty One

It was like someone flipped a switch.

It was 6:41am and I was rolling home on the Lakeside Trail. It was quiet, the trails were buff, and the lighting was muted. Suddenly someone flipped on a flood light behind me. The trees lit up with a golden glow and I cast a distinct long shadow. It all happened in the span of 1-2 seconds, the instant the sun's disk peeked over the hillside behind me.

It was magical.
Digression: Picture in upper right corner is steam rising from the backside of the dam, where relatively warm lake water is being released into the Brandywine Creek. Ambient air temperature was mid-30s.
Cycling is like church-many attend but few understand
-- Jim Burlant

See you out there...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It Never Happens

He was on my wheel when we hit the bridge at the bottom of the Sole Trail. This is a fun little stunt, maybe 18 inches wide with an abrupt 10 inch step to get on the bridge. You have to lift your front tire out of the muck and onto that step and then maintain balance for about 15 feet, else you go for a swim and maybe lose a derailleur.

As I was exiting the bridge, I did not hear the sound of rubber on wood indicating a rider behind me on the bridge. That's because he hit that step with his weight forward and promptly went over his handlebars (hence the sound of bone on wood). When I turned to see what had happened, he was lying on the bridge trying to extricate his wrist from between a couple slats of rotten wood. This is a big deal because he like, never ever falls. And it's not like he takes it easy or avoids the technical stuff (quite the opposite). He just never falls.

And worse, there was a female solo mountain biker pulling up to the bridge with a concerned look on her face. And another group of riders winding down the Sole Trail. So once we concluded no bones were protruding and no concussion, we saddled up to avoid being any more of a distraction then we already were.

After the double-climb to the east side and yet another bridge (this one 6 inches narrower and 50 feet longer than the last and with a tricky turn at the end), we were enjoying a well deserved breather when the solo rider pulled up. We introduced ourselves and invited her to join us for the Bonus-Bonus Loop.
Digression: The crank on my Rig has been creaking for a year now. Creaking bad. Rigs are notorious for this caused by a design flaw in the eccentric bottom bracket shell (EBB). I have rebuilt that EBB twice, tried all sorts of exotic lubes, voo-doo, you name it. Nothing has worked. Until I ran into Rob on Thursday and he managed to diagnosis it in about 2 minutes. It was like watching an orthopedic surgeon - he pushed the crank arm this way and that, listened to the creak, asked a few questions, and declared it to be a problem with the BB bearing, not the EBB shell. He loaned me a replacement crankset to test his theory, I installed it and "presto" - the year long infuriating problem was solved. And so now I was riding with Rob's FSA V-Drive crankset (which becomes relevant in about 6 miles)...
So the crash was a fading memory, the BB was whisper quiet, we had picked up another rider, and I was really digging the 180mm crank arms. We were in the groove on the Lakeside Trail when I felt an odd wobble in my left pedal. I looked down to see the pedal and crank arm hanging from my foot, not attached to the bike. I won't bore you with the reasons I couldn't fix this on the trail, but suffice to say that I stuffed the crank arm in my pocket (there's a joke here I'm sure) and pedaled much of the way home with one leg.

Turns out the crank arm problem was due to some contamination of the crank-spindle interface. It just looked like some darkening (old grease) on the metal surfaces, but I think that was enough to prevent a solid connection. A dental pick and some WD-40 cleaned things up nicely. A replacement pre-loader bolt (this one sheared off) and I think we're back in business.

A couple of beers pretty much solved Jimmy's (oops, did I let the name slip?) problem. Mine will require a credit card. But the infuriating creak is gone so as the ubiquitous t-shirt says, "Life is Good."