Friday, December 29, 2006

Wet Pavement

Well, it was a commute on wet roads but clear sky. I didn't get any flats so apparently the rain didn't wash anything too serious out into the street last night. It is nice to see things wetted down a bit and particulate pollution drop. It was a moderately chilly ride due to the humidity but not too bad. I really like this windstopper jacket I have. It makes a big difference on warmth. I have decided to do a two way commute today to simulate a longer ride so I will have more time to get things done tomorrow and will be able to do a pretty good ride on Monday before my tapering starts for next Saturday. Man I am looking forward to this years Brevets having missed El Tour.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Eye in the sky.

Well, when I finally got out of bed this morning I was cold. I slowly got everything ready and was really late by the time I got out. I figure that if you can't be late during purgatory days (days between Christmas and New Year when everyone is on vacation and work seems to be a lot more casual) when can you be late? Anyway, I overdressed seeing as I am used to riding a half hour earlier in the dark and cold. I was sweating pretty good after a bit. Had a nice tailwind for a few miles but the fickle wind figured out what I was up to and stopped. The sky was a lovely grey this morning, you have to enjoy the grey days down here as there is so many sunny days it gets tedious. I did manage to get up into zone 3 on the heart rate monitor and stayed up in zone 4 for most of the second half of the commute. Turning south on the 202 I noticed a hot air ballon flying low over my head and gave them a wave. They were probably too busy to see a cyclist below them but each of us was moving along through the air with silent efficiency.

A week from Saturday is the start of the Southern Arizona Brevet Series. I am pleased that I seem to be a lot healthier this year than last. It would be nice to have a year where I could see what I can really do with some training (mind you training being what you can do and still have a family of 4 young children and a wife not necessarily a long ride or two every weekend).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Winter arrives

Well, when the clock radio goes off and the first thing you hear is the weatherman talking about a freeze warning until 9 A.M. (and yes if anyone up north is reading this I know you are hearing violins and I too enjoy riding in snow but freezes are not common down here) you know the commute is going to be a bit colder than usual and it's time to batten down the hatches so to speak. Anyway, I couldn't find my winter gloves so my wife let me pull my Christmas present out a few days early, a pair of waterproof breathable jogging mittens (mittens as I am using bar end shifters and on the recumbent I don't really need gloves so I'll take warmth). I pulled on the shoe covers (which were a bit of a stretch over my new shoes with an MTB tread but I did it), and..... dang! wheres my balaclava? Dang those kids! Must have ran off with it while they were watching me clean the garage! Well, at least I can put on the strap to my headlight to keep the tops of my ears warmer. So, thus arrayed I thrust through the predawn darkness. I have to say the mittens rocked. I also missed the balaclava but other than that things worked out amazingly well. I did notice that in the cold it was very hard to get my heartrate up into zone 3 and it took forever for me to finally warm up. The legs just didn't want to churn the heart up into that zone until the sun had been up for awhile. Other than that it was a pretty typical commute. I was glad to be back on the bike after having to drive for a few days. I had forgotten that some drivers are such jerks! Nice to leave there world again and return to the world where most people wave at each other even if their bike doesn't look as nice as yours, heck even the joggers wave at me and they don't even have a bike! I think people moving a little slower but helping themselves at the same time perhaps, help out their mental outlook towards others as well. Anyway, enough philosophising! It was a good ride.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another Century Time Trial.

Well, the goal today was to do a 5 hour century. The course was 103 miles and I left my heart rate monitor at work on Thursday so it was up to the GPS, the Mighty K2 light and me to make it happen. Leaving at 5:30 I had a lot of time before first light. Heading eastward through Mesa and Apache Jct. I tried to keep my pace up but not overdo it. It is a lot easier to push the Lactate threshold without crossing it with a heart rate monitor. There were several times in the ride where I thought I might have pushed it too far. The light I found was bright enough for all kinds of riding in the morning, even speeds up in the 30s. Traffic was fairly light heading out of town to the east and I was soon at the roller section just before the course turns south to get on to US60. The rollers through here are a lot of fun as most of them you get enough speed going down to cruise right up over the next one. There are a few that require climbing but there are only 2 of those. I quickly got to the turn and soon found myself barreling down the road toward US60 at 30+ mph. Upon reaching the 60 I was surprised to find no sign of dawn. Usually by the time I get here the first light is starting up in the east. I was making good time (and I think I got out a little earlier than normal too). In fact, it would be about 10 miles out of Florence that sunrise would start. Winds were kind of crosswinds through this section but were coming slightly from the front. Nothing like a climb with a bit of a headwind. It wasn't until this stretch was over that I realized my taillight had gotten twisted crooked. I really need to fasten that to the seatstay tighter. Upon reaching the turn to Florence I got my speed up into the mid 20s for awhile and enjoyed a tailwind for 10 miles or so. Before long I was in Florence and wouldn't you know it, someone was in the restroom. Well I bought my water and a rice crispy treat and debated with myself about waiting for the restroom. I finally convinced myself that there was no line for the tree down the road and my beautiful tailwind would not likely last forever so I took off. After a brief stop down the road aways I cruised on to Coolidge keeping my speed in the mid 20s and watching my average speed slowly climb for the rest of the trip. I really was fortunate from a wind prospective. I had favorable winds most of the way across the Gila indian reservation past Sacaton and really only sunk below 20 a few times. Of course turning onto the hunt highway was another story. I had a pretty good crosswind there and had to struggle to keep 19. Lindsey road would also be a struggle as a lot of it was under construction and there were many sections which were unpaved. I just pretended it was Pave' on Paris Roubaix (remembering of course that I didn't have a team car following me with wheels). Around here I started to realize it was going to be close. I was starting to get close to the 5 hour mark and didn't have a whole lot of Juice left. I did manage to keep the speed up above 20 but it was a struggle. Going under the two freeways and around onto Broadway I was down to the wire with 3 minutes left and 1 mile to go. I made it, barely but I did. I pretty much took it easy the last 3 miles as I really pushed it to pull into 100 miles at 5 hours. I think I will slow the pace up a little on the 200k in January but I think I am ready to finish with a pretty good time even with holding back a little.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Mighty Quad K2!

The mighty quad k2 Generator light. It might not be pretty but man o man does it light up the road nicely. The two bottom lenses are 3 degree spots aimed to throw light doen the road, Left top is to throw light a little closer in and the one right top has a 4X14 degree lens to provide some "be seen" light to oncoming cars.

And below here is the beam of two Cateye EL500s

Below is the mighty Quad K2 Generator Light!
As you can see there is a lot more light thrown out by the K2 at a feed of 8 volts. The Shimano Dynohub is capable of outputing 12v (as does the schmidt) at higher speeds so the beamshot at left is actually not as bright as it could be.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Details of my generator light.

In comments below there was inquiry into pictures of my lights. I haven't taken any yet but perhaps tonight I will. In the meantime here is a diagram and a schematic for those of you who might be interested. Leds are K2 Luxeon stars. The buckpuck is one that handles 1000ma and allows strobing and 5-32 volts. The Bridge Rectifier is a cheap one from Radio shack that is pretty much the smallest one they have. This light approaches the E6 in brightness but also gives some "be seen light" to the front and sides and really illuminates signs well.
Below is the schematic for you electronic nerd types (note I am not an electronic nerd type per se but play one on on the hobby bench when a need arises)-

Fall is here

Well, halfway through December and I officially declare Fall to be here. I noticed a few trees showing their colors this morning as I sped down Ray while the cold air nipped at my fingers. Took it slow as I am attempting to taper this week so I can ride a quick century on Saturday. I am hoping to do it in under 5 hours. Last month I got it down to 5 hrs and 14 minutes for 100 miles. I almost didn't make it out of the garage this morning. Was feeling down getting out of bed and then to have a flat tire before even leaving the garage was disheartening but I pumped the tire up and headed out. The great yet mischievous spirit of traffic control did take pity on me and I think I only had to stop for 1 light on the way in which is pretty rare considering I go through about 30 on my way in.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Harvest Moon (Ride report from October)

Well, the Harvest Moon was extremely bright. In fact, if not for the occasional car we wouldn’t have needed lights at all for the ride. The night was still a good test for the new light system though. The system though held together temporarily with zip ties held up fine over 130 miles. My backup light was another story and I am glad I didn’t have to use it. Anyway, on with the ride report!
Steve stopped by the house at around a quarter to 10 PM and we were off much to the chagrine of my 2 4 year old sons who learned to ride bikes last week (they wanted to come too but 16 inch wheels are just a bit too small for a 200k distance I think). A quick stop into Albertsons to get our cards signed and we were off to Tortilla flat. The ride out of town was pleasant enough but entering the usually dark areas of the outskirt deserts was wonderful. The Flat Iron (mountain on east end of Mesa) was plainly visible in the moonlight and visibility was also sufficient to see the Weaver’s Needle off in the distance as we moved off of the false flats and into the steeper climbing. My light did just fine despite the slow speeds getting only a slight flicker due to the magnet spacing in my dynohub. Steve had a low tire after the first climb for some strange reason (he didn’t lose any other air the rest of the night). I sped a bit ahead during the next section as I really wanted to see how far I could push my light (it gets brighter as speed increases due to having more LEDs than the dynohub can fully support by design to prevent melted electronics). I found 37 mph very comfortable, and might have been able to go faster but that is really as fast as I like going at night anyway and the roads were too curvy to push it further. Wrapping around the curves of the lake shore I could see Steve a half mile back highly visible from his E6 light and chainstay lights. I was amazed at being able to see reflections of the cliffs in the water of the lake. It really was the best night of the year for cycling. Soon Steve was back up with me and we made our way back to Tortilla Flat. Just past the second bridge we startled a family of what we figured were raccoons scurrying off the road. We pushed the last hill thinking we were close to the time cutoff but in reality we had plenty of time as the control didn’t actually close until 12:48 AM. We popped the postcard in the box at 12:36 and took a break on the boardwalk.
The climb out was not too eventful, just a lot of climbing and gorgeous views of desert under the moonlight. I had to admit the hills took a bit of a toll on my legs but not overly so. I could feel the fitness I had lost over a slacking summer though. We got back to Apache Junction and stopped at a Circle K with a lonely store clerk who followed us out for his smoke break after we finished in the store. He was interested in the difference in our two bikes and our endeavor for the evening. That was one of the funnier sides of this ride. Usually you don’t run into people who think you are crazy in the middle of the night on a 200k. Traffic heading down Vineyard road was a lot busier than the roads we had previously been on but not excessive. We made good time down to Ocotillo. From there though things kind of slogged along in the fuzzy hours of the early morning. We soldiered on across the flats though and eventually got to ride through all the recently mowed down desert that was soon to become the newest Anthem community for people who feel a need for long commutes and high gas bills so they can live wall to wall with another person who wants to move out to the country. Ok, done with my rant, this is a ride report after all but the loss of desert when there are two perfectly good urban wastelands nearby to further ruin kind of bugs me.
Riding down Attaway road was fairly uneventful until a double trailer gas truck blew the stop sign just after we had turned onto Az 287 and shot across 4 lanes of increasingly busy morning traffic. Luckily he managed to choose a good break in traffic to fall asleep. He slammed on his breaks on the other side of the highway after he woke up. He later passed us a few miles later after he managed to turn that thing around on what was a narrow country road on the other side, he must have actually had to drive a bit of a detour to get around as you can’t really back a double trailer.
In Coolidge we discovered that the mail slot on the mailbox was sealed shut. Kind of weird. Anyway, there was a lady there who agreed to take our postcards and mail them down the road for us so we took off again into the night as unlike last year we had plenty of fluids to finish the ride on due to the cool evening. Did I mention we were wearing arm warmers and leg warmers? We actually put them on at the gas station as the descents had gotten a bit chilly. We basically left them on for the rest of the ride much to the amusement I am sure of other cyclists out after sunrise. After Crossing the Gila River on the way to Chandler the mantra became, Breakfast Buffet, Breakfast Buffet, Breakfast Buffet. Our speed picked up a bit for that last stretch interestingly enough.
On the hunt highway we stopped for a bit and saw one of the Gaba club rides approaching. Thinking they were the fast group we let them pass and were surprised to catch up with them quickly (must have been the slow group) and pass them again so late in our ride. Of course, they didn’t have a breakfast buffet waiting so perhaps it wasn’t a fair race.
The last section was a bit of a push for me but not too bad. The breakfast buffet of course was fabulous. What a recovery meal! What a ride! We harvested a 200k under the harvest moon. Then to home and a nice bed.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Fire and Ice.

Well, I wasn't expecting to have to ride home yesterday but I got a call in the mid afternoon saying that our church had been set on fire and that I needed to get there and get some records out. Well, I had a wonderful tailwind most of the way luckily and made remarkable time until I got a flat. I am officially fed up with my rim strips and tires at this point and am looking for a change. Anyway, I got to the church and I think the damage wasn't quite as bad as the vandals had intended and our offices had mostly smoke damage from the ventilation system which they shared with other offices. It is a pity people feel it is their religious duty to try and intimidate others in their religious beliefs but they had little effect on us as all our meetings for the evening still happened, just at another location. People are stupid sometimes, but I don't think that is anything profound as we will always have an abundance of stupid people, I guess according to the law of supply and demand stupid people are cheap because they are in abundance.
Anyway, this mornings commute was slow as a result of racing home last night (averaged 19 mph which isn't bad considering it is mostly uphill). I headed out through the farms on Recker road and was dismayed to see more farmland eaten up by the great monster of progress, the mighty suburbistein. There were still some farms out there though and there was a nice mist over the fields. Knowing I was going to be slow today I wore my balaclava and my glasses would fog up at every stoplight. I must have looked funny being the "blind" cyclist. Anyway, I had another flat near the office, this one was due to a slightly exposed spoke hole from the crappy performance rim tape I bought that was not completely covering the hole. Anyway, life goes on. People deal us bad hands and we make of it what we can. The Randonneur takes what is given him and moves on not losing sight of the end goal.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Predawn Brilliance

Well it was a chilly morning but the thing of note was a new light was plugged into the old dynamo. This one featured 4 k2 luxeon LEDs. 3 with 3degree spot lense and one with an ovalized pattern lens. This thing is extremely bright. I think I have hit generator light nirvanna. This one is a bit brighter than my last one and the beam pattern is much better due to my adjusting the angles of the various LEDs so as to make a longer beam that was still bright. Now to start the endurance trials on this baby (nothing like a regular commute to test equipment). My last version was still going strong after a thousand miles so I have high hopes for this one. These Collimators (special lens for LEDs and lasers) seem to be a bit better than the last ones. I am ready for the Spring Brevets now.
As for the Commute itself, it was a bit of a push as I have not been eating much lately to lose weight and the legs just aren't recovering as well. My goal is to get below 200 before the January 200k brevet and be down to 190 before the 600k in March. I will try and get some pics of my new light in the next post.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Yaaaagh. Dang dad nab $#%&^# goat head thorns

Well, since I was ill over the weekend I thought Monday would be a good day to ride both ways and get some miles in and some night training. Well, I was still digesting that Chipotle Burrito from lunch but still managed to keep a pretty good speed up. As darkness set in it started to get cold and I was glad I had enough oomf left to keep myself warm through riding. That is until I was stopped by the axis of evil. Somewhere after turning onto Guadalupe I managed to ride through a whole patch of goathead thorns. Rolling my bike off the road after detecting a squishy front tire I was dismayed to see multiple goatheads sticking out of both tires. Well, I sat down and set to work putting three patches on the two tires, pumped them up, and was off again. Dang! My sidewall is about to rip out of the rim as it didn't seat! Hmm, Front tire seems a bit low too? Dang! Ok, 2 more patches later and I am ready to hop on my bike and get out of there when I notice that the front tire is once again, wait for it.......flat. So at this point I decide it is now time to dig out the spare and do this thing right as apparently the goatheads turned my front tube into an air collander. So, I pump up the front tire with the spare, which I discover has a large hole in it. Hmmm, what a uh, nice surprise. Ok, I am out of the nice little patches and now need to rip a big patch in half to cover this thing but miracle of all miracles this tube holds! I now discover that over the last 45 minutes of flat fixing the temperature has continued to drop and I have cooled down. Well, good thing I wasn't more than a few miles away from home as it was a cold ride from here.
Incidentally here is my training partner. Today the Bridal Vail Falls bike path, tomorrow a brevet!

Monday, December 4, 2006

A little draft.....

Well, there was a rather spanky wind out of the east this morning and all was beautiful until I discovered my bead was over the rim and catching the brake. Glad I didn't put any weight on it before I caught that. Well, a few minutes later I was off. Then when I got to the point I was to really enjoy the tailwind it switched. Just my luck. fortunately down the road away I was passed by a roadie with a little more spunk than I had this morning (was sick most of the weekend) who said I could draft when I asked him. So after getting split at a few lights I caught him a gain and sucked wheel for a few miles which was nice. At Priest he turned right and I turned left. Seeing another commuter is pretty cool, but seeing another commuter that lets you draft and is going faster than you? Priceless.....