Sunday, February 17, 2008

All work and no sleep makes Paul a some singd dsk


Friday night my wife pointed out to me how interesting it is that no matter what week the brevets are held, that is the week out of the month where everything goes to pot. Case in point, we were holding this conversation at a ritzy restaurant up in north Scottsdale at 11 PM at the night before the start (not that meals at ritzy restaurants are bad, but they are not the best if they are keeping you out of bed on a night before a brevet). The week featured our son working through some new meds for ADHD (Which didn't work, and the side effects were that he was up all night the few nights preceding the ride), a daughter with Strep, me with a sore throat (don't think I had strep), and a discovery that both of my wheels had issues.

The back wheel the week before pulled a spoke right out of the rim leaving a big crack and further inspection revealed hairline cracks in numerous other spokeholes. So a new back wheel was in order since I wouldn't have the time to break in a homebuilt one before the brevet. After this though I thought an inspection of the front wheel was in order too and found the braking surface on the rim to have worn outside the allowable limits over the last 20000 miles so the front rim needed replacing too and since there was no more money for a new front wheel I ordered up a rim and built it onto the old hub and spokes 2 days before the ride.

So, to sum it up- New wheels, 4 hours sleep, just recovered from sore throat. I had a lot that could go wrong, thankfully it didn't (other than the shorts I wore didn't work out so well).

Nothing but Fumes Man-

So, I did manage to wake up in time despite the 4 hour sleep. It just so happened that part of the reason I woke up was because of gastrointestinal distress. So, although I was able to wake up in time I was still late getting out because of issues arising from an unhappy gut. Fortunately I had prepared just about everything the night before so I just had to hop in the Jeep and take off. The Jeep was nearly on empty but I thought I ought to be able to do it so I took off. Every gas station I passed I kept thinking I would hit the next one until I was out to riggs road and that gas station was not a gas station at all but just a building that looked like one. So I drafted a semi all the way down to Casa Grande hoping that I would have enough and 100 feet before the first gas station heading into town the engine died and I coasted into the pump. Even with such a lucky event I only had 5 minutes until the start when I arrived and most of those would need to be dedicated to my recurring GI issues. So, I was pulling my bike out of the car when I watched everyone else leave the parking lot behind Susan's RBA mobile.

A Late Start-

So all alone I pedalled off into the predawn darkness from the parking lot. I soon found out that it was a lot harder to set off the traffic lights without the RBA Mobile out front of you. I think I hit every red light I could on the way out of town. I made a point of not getting in too much of a hurry to catch people as I didn't want to blow up to soon. That being said I did manage to pass a few guys changing a tire at Cox and Woodruff who would have a compadre waiting for them over at the Community College. With dawn the light fell on a landscape riddled with puddles and water from the rains of the night before. The humidity made it feel a little colder than it otherwise would have been. On the other hand all the water over the last few weeks had made the desert very green and beautiful so there was a bit of a tradeoff there. I found the sign at the Dairy, telling people who bought homes within a mile of it would smell the stench, quite humorous. That's one way to keep the housing developments away from the farms. I am sure that there will still be 3 miles of rural road near that dairy on the 300k route for many years to come! That being said, it is amazing how far the developments are getting built out into the farmlands of Coolidge.

It's not easy bein Wheezy-

Turning onto 287 heading up into Coolidge I ran into Bruce and Steve and hung on their wheels for a bit to chat. Said chat turned into a full day of riding together. The speed I was keeping up was similar to theirs and Bruce asked if I minded if they drafted for a bit and I didn't mind at all. So it was that we started the long climb up the pinal parkway. We were passed by the guys that had been fixing the flat right before we turned onto the parkway as we were turning off our lights. I enjoyed the company of Bruce and Steve as we climbed the parkway. I don't usually ride with people much and so it is nice to get the opportunity to ride with someone. At the Tom Mix stop Susan had Salami sandwiches and I thought that was kind of odd. But sure enough, right after we left the stop guess what I started craving? Unfortunately I would have to let the PopTarts do the burning until Lunchtime. I was finding that I could only stay off the bike for so long before the old GI problem started banging at the back doors so staying on the bike was important. We were able to make pretty good time out of Tom Mix except as the miles wore on Bruce seemed to be having a harder time as his breathing sounded a little more forced as we worked up the hill, and after awhile he started lagging back and at one point Steve and I looked back and he wasn't there at all. So we went back to find him and he had had a flat. Bruce had been struggling with broncitis recently and was having a hard day of things. I am sure the cold air didn't help too much either. It wasn't too far after this that the clouds which up until this point had been everpresent opened up just enough for us to look down on the snowline on the Catalinas. Yes ladies and gentlemen we were looking down on the snowline. Why there was not any where we were I can't tell but we were above the snowline. So yes, here I am out on a winters day with ski gloves on, shivering in the wind and I am looking at mountains covered with snow but am I skiing? Actually it almost did feel like skiing descending down into Oracle Jct. At least it was as cold as hitting the slopes. Hopefully the folks from Idaho enjoyed it (I heard someone was down from Idaho, hope you didn't let our little slice of winter make you feel like you didn't get your money's worth).

The Epic of Scott the construction worker-

We had an information control on this brevet at Rancho Vistoso, and though technically "Scotty's Potty's" or "Louies Loos" could "Technically" have been an appropriate answer to the question on the sheet it was something else. I for one was quite happy that a portajohn was one of the things in the vicinity as of course my good old GI problem was still alive and kicking. So, for an afternoon break I got to examine the construction worker petroglyphs on the walls of the john. It was a touching tale about a man named Scott and his struggles with identity and the great trials of construction life. I wonder if they get charged extra if the guys writing on the walls use a sharpie marker? Scott must have been the foreman.
The Next section featured some absolutely dazzling views of the snow covered Catalinas as the clouds broke up and showed the mountains in all their splendor. I am glad the storm ended before midnight as we certainly would have been riding in snow had it not done so.
Down on Tangerine Bruce decided that he had to call it quits at that point. Steve and I had seen this coming a bit as he had been gradually slowing down for a while and we could tell he was hurting. So Steve and I headed on while Bruce headed for home. I had a rough patch when we got onto Silverbell but hopped onto Steve's wheel for awhile and made it through. I think I got behind on Calories a bit. It was around in here that the Sun came out for good and heated things up. I even took my windvest off at one point. It never did quite get warm enough to show my RUSA colors though (Long Sleeve jersey stayed on all day). I managed to actually break a sweat climbing Gates Pass even.

Somwehere in here somebody replaced my good old brooks saddle with one of Sheldon Brown's "Real Man" saddles.

Well we ate at the lunch stop at 4:50 PM. I figure that makes it linner. I made no excuses this time and chugged the Salami sandwiches right down. They were quite tasty. Almost as good as the food was the opportunity to sit down. Unfortunately, the end doesn't get any closer by sitting around so we were soon up and off again riding into the approaching dusk. We did manage to get to Picture Rocks right at dusk (and turned our lights on) but we would be to Marana before it was fully dark. As soon as the sun went down the temperatures seemed to plummet as well so we didn't stop for too long so as to avoid the shivers. Thanks to a good healthy infusion of calories at lunch and Marana we were able to roar down the frontage road at a rollicking pace of 15+ mph most of the way making quick work of it. It was in here too that I dug out the MP3 player as well so that might have helped the time to pass a little more quickly as well.

Paul the Randocicle-

We opted to rest at the Picacho gas station since I was struggling with a sore left arm that didn't want to stay on the hoods and also my aforementioned backside. So we sat down by the front door and had a drink and some food. I think there is a correlation between suffering and perception of time. I would postulate that the perception of time passage is directly tied to the amount of suffering a person is having. If the suffering is high then the perception of time passage is slow. Through here I was starting to hurt and the passage of time was seeming to lag. I got to where I figured we were passing about 1 mile for every song on the mp3 player. I was really starting to miss those hours of sleep I missed out on the night before.

Heres to Roger "Sat at La Palma for hours" Peskett-

Along 287 I talk to Steve and mention that I don't think I've met Roger Peskett before but if he is still at La Palma he is tops in my book. It seemed like it took us forever to get to the prison but after that things went pretty quickly. If it hadn't have been such a cold night it would have been a very pleasant ride up 287 with the stars out and no winds. It still was pleasant of course once you got past the chill. Roger was in fact still at La Palma (Thank you Roger!) and better than that he had Chocolate! Normally I don't do chocolate on brevets but this time it looked really good. Due to Paul the Randocicles tendency to start shivering we took off before long and were off to the finish line. Eleven mile corner with it's 6 miles to I-10 sign was a welcome sight. There were a number of road turds on the shoulder here that had to be dodged (hardened mud clumps put on the road by cars with mud on their tires) which added a little variation to the otherwise straight road. The hotel sign on the edge of Casa Grande said 52 degrees but I think that one is wrong, they must have their sensor too close to a light. The other one I saw on the way out after the finish line said 42 which I think is a much closer temperature to how cold it really was. Anyway, we finally made it in. Susan wasn't even asleep so either she wasn't really sleepy or we must not have come in too far behind the others (or Roger Called her maybe?). Anyway, we finally finished at 11:40 PM. A nice long day in the saddle. I need a warm ride after these last two really cold 300Ks I have ridden.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

10 miles and counting

I got the new rim and built up the front wheel last night on the old hub and spokes. It went together amazingly well and the truing process went fairly quickly. It is amazing how a little extra time taken putting the nipples on the spokes speeds the truing process. I managed to get the wheel tensioned up and vertical and horizontal truing are within a mm. It only took me 2 hours this time. Far longer than a pro, yet still worth the $85 dollars I saved. I replaced the bearings in the hub not too long ago so I think it is good for the long haul. At this point I am doing rides to help the wheel set in before Saturday. So far after 10 miles the wheel has held firm. Hopefully it will continue to do so. It is nice to once again have a wheel I can cinch the brakes in again and not have the rims rub. Now I just need to get new brake pads since the old ones are shaped like the old rims and won't wear the rim as well or brake as good. I also need to figure out why my wireless computer with fresh batteries is not registering speed. Oh, well, I guess I have already blown the 2 week rule of not changing anything except the tires, may as well just give up on it at this point. Humorously enough the tires are just fine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breaking the 2 week rule....Again.

Well, today I did not ride due to a raspy throat. This is the week to baby myself and I do not want to get sick, or sicker. Yesterday as I sat at my desk and had a few minutes to ponder I started to worry about the concave braking surface on the front rim I felt on inspecting it after the rude discovery on the back wheel. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about catastrophic rim failure on the backside of Gates pass. Of course this kind of thinking leads to worry and a healthy helping of paranoia. So lunchtime found me getting stared at by people passing through the outside lunch area as I had my bike propped up with the front forks on a bench seat while my front wheel was on the table with the tire off. Using my pump (which of course features a straight surface one can use for reference) I laid it across the braking surface and saw that between the top and the bottom of the breaking surface there was at least a 1 mm difference. 20000 miles and 5 years of riding had in fact worn away a good portion of the rims side wall from braking. when you have 1.5 mm of wall thickness and you take away 1 mm you are starting to stray into dangerous territory and on a front wheel dangerous territory is a bad place to be as the most likely time to lose it is when it is under the heaviest use, AKA steep descents. So, I have a rim on order as I don't have another $125 to blow so with a $60 rim I got for $46 with shipping (using performance points from my rear wheel purchase) Thursday night is going to be wheel building night . Front wheels are much easier to build and it should be nice and solid for the ride on Saturday but even so I am going to check the spoke tensions at every stop. On another note I kind of feel like a hardcore cycling stud now since I have worn out a rim. Now when someone comes up and says "Dude, I just wore out a tire" with a swaggering pride in their voice, I will do my best Barney Fife and lean back and say " yep, that must have been a fine heap load of riding there son. Of course, it doesn't beat the time I wore out a rim. Nope, young pups these days, so easily impressed. A tire, now really....."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hmmm, must have been that last pothole.

Well, fair reader, if I didn't have a 300k ride next week I would just order a new rim for 75 bucks and pay overnight shipping and ride the recumbent for a few days and rebuild this thing if it weren't for the fact that the soonest I could get a rim here would be tuesday which means I would be riding Saturday on a virtually untested wheel. I think at this point $150 dollars will not only give me a new rim but a new hub (my current one has over 20000 miles on it so I suppose it could use replacement). I will also get another day of riding on the wheel to set the spokes in before Saturday.
Now, you may wonder how I found this little crack, was I performing a bike inspection before the big ride? Well, um er, no. I had my front fender on for the storm last week and checking the long term forecast today it looks like we may get a shower next Saturday so I thought I would see how the rear fender fit on and made a few alterations to it. During this process I noticed the rear wheel was out of round in one spot and upon further inspection noticed that one of the spokes had pulled right out of it's hole. I hit a pothole on Thursdays commute that I wondered about but as I did not have a pinch flat I figured I must have lucked out. Well, I didn't luck out. A week before the event when you aren't supposed to change anything and I blow out a rim. Well, I get to do spoke checks at every control next saturday. At least my rear wheel will be nice and clean and shiny though. Also 20000 miles on a wheel isn't shabby either. May my next $150 Mavic Open Pro wheel last just as long.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I caught a fish and it was This big... no it was THIS BIG

For starters, I found it really hard to get out of bed this morning on this cold day with ice on the windshields and a hard frost on the ground. said 35 degrees but we average a few degrees below that where I live so it was COLD by desert standards fair readers. Of course I did eventually get out of bed and by the time I got everything ready I was extremely late getting out of the door. "No Problem, it's my last day for a threshold workout before the ride next week" I thought. Being that it was COLD outside mild mannered Paul transformed into super rando ninja. After five miles or so super rando ninja found he was a little too warm and converted his windbreaker into a wind vest. The warmth was due mostly to operating at <90% of LT and speeds around 20mph on a stretch that they are usually much below that. This is also where my bicycle computer started to get flakey (the wireless sensor seems to flake out on cold mornings, probably time to put the new one I have in the garage on). So as I turned the corner onto Ray and ratcheted the speeds up to 24mph, yes fair readers, with a slight tailwind I was cranking out 24 at my LT. I have to say it was a bit surprising and felt good. I would stay up between 22-24 mph all the way in as my computer would check in once in awhile with an accurate speed. The last stretch there was no tailwind and I was keeping the speed so I think the last few weeks of training have been effective and hopefully this fitness holds on. I knew I had a PR in there somewhere but how to prove it? Well, I know when the computer flakes out it adds a little time as it doesn't always pause at stoplights. It came in right at 1 hour 12 minutes, If I take the overall time minus 7 minutes (average stoplight time) I come out to 1 hour and 11 minutes. So I think I averaged over 20 mph this morning and I have never topped 20 on this route before, in fact even on my shorter commute a few years agao when I only went 18 miles I only did it once or twice. So, for 23.82 miles in an hour and eleven minutes, that is a very good time. In fact it is about the best time I have ever done on the bent and it is supposed to be faster on the flats than my road bike. So, I think I am ready for next weeks ride, we will see if all the intensity training has paid off on top of the endurance from the Dec 300k. Oh, I also was pleased to find my resting heartrate back down in the 40s the last few days so I am likely in the best shape of my life right now. Now to just drop a few more pounds.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Beat the Devil.

Saturday morning was another morning I had other things I needed to do before noon so this dictated that I would need to be on the road around 5 if I was going to be back by 10 (will talk more about what was so important at 10 later in my blog). I saw on that the temp was 42 degrees but felt like 36 so I decided I would head out as Master Rando Ninja, but not too far down the road I had taken off the balaclava and my coat sleeves leaving me with a wind vest, a long sleeve jersey, and leg warmers pretty much. Unlike the last time I decided to head back on this route I felt fine on energy and it looked like a beautiful morning. In fact, It went pretty quick. the dark hours of the morning were beautiful, Jupiter and Venus were within a degree or two of each other in the eastern sky and shining very brightly. Mars was in the western sky making it's way to the horizon. Silouetted to the east was the front of the Superstitions. In no time at all I was winding my way up the first major hill of the day and at the top looked back on the lights of the valley.

Descending the backside was a chilling experience. In fact, I got a pretty good ice cream headache on the way down. I was surprised at the bottom to see Canyon Lake nearly full and most of the marina put back where it was supposed to be. Later I would see them pushing the last dock down to where the marina should be. Dawn was still growing as I popped over the hill before Tortilla Flat. I knew I was riding faster this morning than before and I had a lot more energy. The creek on the other side of Tortilla flat was deeper than my pedal and I ended up with a few wet feet. As the morning was cold this was not necessarily a good thing but since I would be climbing El Diablo in a few minutes I would be warm enough soon. As I started up the big hill I could see the first glints of sun hitting four peaks and by the time I got to the flat spot (flat meaning that I could shift a gear or two out of Triple granny but still climbing good) the sun was shining along my right side and I found that out on this lonely morning I had a friend riding beside me as I climbed further up into the mountains in the form of my shadow. Within another 20 minutes I was at the end of the pavement and dipping my wheel in the dirt.

At this point I decided to dump the rest of my drink powder into my waterbottle getting a lot of it on my gloves due to the howling wind. I would smirk to myself a little further down when It occured to me that when I wiped my nose with that glove I got most of that dust on my nose and that I must look like one cold crack sniffing cyclist with all the white powder around my nose. Needless to say I wiped it off. Heading back towards the big drop I noticed the beautiful hum of a road bike on smooth pavement gliding along at 20mph. It has to be one of my favorite sounds in the world I think.

Having beat the devil climbing the hill, it was a cold day in hell going down it. I got up to 45 on the way down and was still accelerating but my front end was wobbling and with that, my fear of going that fast, and a mysterious wobbling (which I found out was my shivering arms) I decided to brake and take the rest of the hill at a more sane 35-40mph.

Upon arriving at Tortilla Flat, I could smell the Steak and Eggs wafting across the road from the outdoor grill at the restaurant. I had to be back by 10 though so on I soldiered up the hill out of Tortilla Flat. I had a really good ride back to town. In fact, all told I cut about 15 minutes off my fastest time on this route and finished in 4 hours and 35 minutes which got me back just in time for the funeral.

I am afraid I must stray from the full purpose of this blog for a moment. The big reason I was hurrying back, passing by the steak and eggs was to get back for President Hinkley's funeral. He was the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) of which I am a member. He has had a profound impact on my life and I felt it important to get back and pay hommage even if I was only watching the funeral via internet. Fair reader, please excuse me this once in straying from the main subject of this blog. He was a great spiritual leader but also presided over much humanitarian work, whether it was supplying thousands of tons of food and supplies to the victims of katrina before the government had even decided it had a problem, distributing innoculations and life saving medicines to 400,000 babies in Africa, sending aid to earthquake victims in Afghanistan, or countless other humanitarian efforts. An incredible amount of good occured in this world under his leadership. He spent over 50 years in church service for which he was not paid and served as a volounteer as do the rest of the members of our church. I am a better man for following his example and counsels. I know he was a prophet and special witness of christ and I am glad I was able to know him even if it only was from afar. Rest in peace President Hinkley.