Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hardware - Cube Aerium

Behold - The Aerium.

This is one odd egg. This is a strict TT frame, with bladed seat stays, down tube, and head tube. The ride is quite smooth and very stable. This is a TT frame for road racers (as opposed to tri-geeks). I got it wicked cheap, second hand, from someone who bought it from the Mavic truck at the annual Pedro's sale a couple of years ago.

It was a bitch to set up. The big problem was the headset. It is a massive 1 1/2 inches, which may help with the stability. Where the big issue cropped up was that I have an old Easton EC90 for that I wanted to use, with a 1" steerer. So I have to find an adapter to go from 1 to 1 1/8, since I couldn't find a headset that that reduced from 1 1/2 to 1.

The other challenge was the seat post, a mere 30.8 mm. Sorry, I didn't happen to have one of those laying around.

Once I got all the parts, - the only other purchase was the bar-cons and stem - I set about putting thing together.

I had an old Scott Lite Flite drop bar, which I cut the ends off of and mounted upside down. I didn't want to spend another few hundred bucks on a TT specific bar set up, so I instead shopped around for the steepest reasonably weighted stem I could find. This Bontrager Select is 20 degrees. This way I could use my Syntace clip-ons. With a regular 10 degree stem I was still up too high, the 20 degree stem dropped me to a good level.

After all was said and done, the bike is actually comfortable. I took it out on a few hour long rides, working in hard efforts, and it _felt_ very fast. This was confirmed, last summer, when I came very close to setting a PR for average speed in a TT at the Working Mans Stage Race. Granted, I was very fit last year, but this is one of those cases where the bike - _I_ think - really did help One needs to remember that was the first competition TT I had done in about ten years that didn't involve a big hill at the end, the little 3 mile flat TT at the Bob Beal Stage Race not withstanding.

All in all, a good find, and I need to give a shout out to my friend Armand for setting me up with it.

Frame - Cube Aerium
Fork - ~2002 Easton EC90 full carbon
Wheels - Rolf Vector Pro
Crankset - Campy Veloce 46x39
Front Derailleur - Shimano 600
Rear Derailleur - Campy Chorus
Cassette - Sram 970 11x21
Saddle - Flite Ti

Friday, June 27, 2008

I finally got one

A good workout, that is..

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling exceptionally sluggish, so I drank a 12 oz cup of _very_ robust columbian coffee and ate a power bar about 30 minutes before I left work.

That worked. About ten minutes into my ride home, I said, 'let's work, bitch'.

I only got an hour in, but I averaged over 20 MPH with my average HR at 166, about 83% of max.

Now, this isn't exactly blistering pace, but keep in mind that this will be the 4th week this year that I've got more than 100 miles in. Not to mention the fact that this 20 miles took in a lot of stop signs, getting stuck in haverhill traffic, both a warm up and cool down, and I've done _no_ speed work other than an occasional truck draft.

So a 20 mph average isn't _too_ shabby, though the avg HR of 166 is a bit high for that speed. The last comparable day I have in my polar log was last september, when I did another 1 hr ride after work, avgd just over 20, and had an avg HR of 155.

The polar plot is below. clickie makes biggie.

Speaking of truck drafts, that little 30 MPH spike at the end was me hopping in behind a mercedes suv for a bit. It was a short section of road and the truck turned off after about 1/4 mile.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Or, 'It's Wearing A Little Thin, Part 2'
Or, 'fucking irony, part 2'

This post is about a week late.

So I changed out the thread bare michelin axial pro. By the time I did, as I noted earlier, there was probably two inches of tread that _didn't_ have casing showing through. I didn't have another reasonable training tire, so I threw on a Hutcinson Carbon Comp.

The next evening (a thursday) it flatted.
The following monday morning it flatted - though I didn't see it until I went to ride home.
The next morning, less than a mile from home, it flatted.

Enough of this shit.

I rode it home and put on my Vector Pro with the michelin axial pro and rode it the rest of the week.

I had already order a set of my favorite training tires - Panaracer Stradius Pro. I've gotten 10K miles out of these before - I didn't toss them until the sidewalls started to delaminate. They came saturday. I ordered a set of 28-35c tubes as well. Nothing like a 28C tube in a 23C tire for added rolling resistance.

back to it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Previous Life - The Amazing Collosal Burke

Before I got into cycling, I was your typical working 20 something partying fool. At my first career position, I hooked up with anther party animal who also happened to front a band called Striders Wrath in the '80s. Through him, I met another musician, and abject slacker, The Amazing Colossal Burke.

Slackers unite. Burke and I had alot in common. Classically trained musicians, honor role students, and complete abhorrer's of authority figures. Ironically, he lived in the same town I did. Burke was one of the few local freaks I could have an intelligent conversation with, and were were both devotees of Nova on PBS.

But Burke was big. 6'4", probably 300#, maybe would have been 275 in shape, but he never was.

Burke had another problem - clumsiness. He used to fall over things, and break them. Coffee tables never lasted in his apartments. We went to a party in Lowell one night, and he tripped over a fiero in the driveway. Yes, the car. It was that night he earned the moniker The Amazing Colossal Burke.

His first wife was a 'housekeeper' at the old marriot in lexington. One year, she got a room for free on new years eve, so we had about ten people running around the hotel, stoned, drunk, crashing parties and eating the food. We had run of the place, as the security guard used to get his stash from burkes wife. I have dozens of such memories with The Amazing Colossal One - good, good times.

His most disturbing problem was alcoholism, which only exacerbated his clumsiness. His drinking contributed to the breakup of his first marriage, and was the root cause in the break-up of his second marriage. After his split-up from wife 2, he needed a place to stay. I had a spare room in my apt. and reluctantly agreed to let him sublet. Now, Burke is a nice, friendly, smart guy. I like him alot. It's just that between the clumsiness and the's different when he's in _your_ apartment.

I had split from my wife several months earlier, and when she left, she left most of the feminine faux object d'art in the apartment. Classic and typical burke, he was putting on his coat to go out one night, and in three-stooges fashion, thrust his hand through his coat sleeve, punched the side of the shelf unit with little glass decanters and figurines, and knocked most of them on the floor.

The last I saw him, he was living in framingham with wife number 3. He had bought a behemoth dilapidated colonial, and was fixing it up - and doing quite a nice job at it. I still like Burke, though I haven't seem him in 7 or 8 years. Maybe I'll call him.....but then again, maybe I wont.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It looks so fucking easy

That's what you say when you see a pro taking a flyer in the last 1Km of a pro tour event, and staying away.

Those of us who have tried know better.

The last stage of the tour de suisse was won by fabian cancellara, a swiss rider on the danish CSC team.

Fabian wins a lot of races, and they're usually rather spectacular.

Watching the coverage on VS network yesterday, I was focused rather intently on the finish. Philip Gilbert took a flyer at about 1.5 K to go, here is the play-by-play courtesy of

16:52 CEST 166km/2km to go

The tight turn is used by a Lotto rider to attack, but it is not much of a gap.

16:53 CEST
Förster and Zabel are there.

16:53 CEST
Gilbert goes! He doesn't want to sprint against the Germans!

16:54 CEST
And who goes after him? Fabian Cancellara!!!

16:54 CEST 167km/1km to go
Gilbert tries to stay away, but the Swiss rider is coming up strongly, encouraged by the locals.

16:55 CEST
Gilbert turns around and worries as he sees Cancellara coming up.
The peloton cannot come to terms with the attack of the Belgian and the Swiss.

16:55 CEST
A few hundred metres. Gilbert is still ahead but Spartacus closes in.

16:56 CEST
Gilbert goes out of the saddle and tries to squeeze the last ounce of energy out of his tired legs. He stays to the left hand side of the road.

16:57 CEST
And there comes Cancellara! He gets into the slipstream of Gilbert, then comes out and passes him on right!

16:58 CEST
Another great and incredible victory by Cancellara, but he is exhausted and sits down immediately.

You can't tell in the photo, but they never had more than ten seconds on the field. Ten seconds, and fabian chases the lone breakaway down like a dog and passes him in the last few meters for the win.

Of course, it doesn't quite play out here as well as it did on the TV. Watching Fabian close the gap was like watching a young lion slowly closing in on its prey.

Earlier in the day I had gone for a ride with a few friends (who knew I had that many?). at one point the flames got lit, whatever the impetus was, I don't remember. I closed the gap on the guy in the lead, then pulled through. We had a gap on the other three. I pulled up over a small rise and opened is slightly further. My escape companion pulled through, but the chasers closed the gap on the down hill. Once it flattened we pulled away slightly again. I pulled through, and managed to maintain the gap. Another rotation, and the other half kept on the gas, but I have done _NO_ speed work all year. This was the third week since february I've managed more than 100 miles in the week, so I didn't have alot to go on. Still, I felt good going for as long as we did, if only for a few minutes.

So I can identify with fabian, probably more so with Phillipe, and even more so with Andoni Lafunete. Who, you ask? The poor sob who finished in last on GC.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On Beer

I like beer.

I like beer that tastes good and has style. I'm not a big fan of domestic massed produced brews, I can't remember the last time I bought a six-pack of regular american beer. Call me a beer snob, go ahead, I'll admit it.

I recently did taste an offering from anheuser-busch called 'shock top'. It's a wheat beer with some spice and flavoring - the label claims coriander and lemon - ok, I'll bite......

It was quite good, for a domestic massed produced beer. Not anywhere near my top two wheat favorites, Pete's Wicked Summer Ale or Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat, but not a bad effort.

Actually, I'm writing this post to extol the virtues of Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. This porter was brewed as a commemorative to Hunter S. Thompson. Not only does it taste damn good - smooth, not sweet, not peaty - but it has 9% ABV. To quote one of the most indomitable cycling bloggers in the Ether - "Oh, Shitty". A friend of mine from The Emerald Isle proclaimed "Aye, That's good!"

Hunter Thompson was a prolific writer, journalist, and all around asshole. An unabashed hater of the political right, he published a couple of books called "a generation of swine", collections of his essays which were (for the most part) published in Rolling Stone Magazine, verbally assaulting the players and movers of the reagan administration. Of course, he is most famously known for his book 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'.

His most oft published quote is "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

He was best friends with Ralph Steadman, and Steadman does all the artwork for Flying Dog as well.

This is from the flying dog weblog - dated may of this year:

"Flying Dog’s brew team had one of the best showings at the World Beer Cup, winning three awards. Gonzo Imperial Porter received Gold for American-Style Imperial Stout, Old Scratch Amber Lager had a repeat win (from 2006) of a Silver award win for American-Style Amber Lager and Wild Goose IPA, a brew we make for the Mid-Atlantic region, won Gold for English-Style IPA."

Awarded the Gold for Gonzo Imperial Porter.......

Go find some, now, but please, don't drink and drive...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

War Stories - The Streaked Mountian Road Race

(part of a hopefully regular series on real racing exploits from the author)

The Streaked Mountain Road Race was an early season race that was held for a few years in the late '80s/early '90s. Some of you may remember calling it simply 'buckfield', since that's the town it was in. It was on a 23 mile loop, with two significant hills. I seem to remember the flyer saying it was 2100 feet of climbing per lap. The lesser hill was in an apple orchard, and went up about 100 feet in a few hundred yards, I seem to remember it being well over 15% grade. The big hill was the real treat. The race started at the bottom and finished at the top, so you always did one more ascent than you did laps. It climbed 800 feet in three miles. This was before the cat 5's were invented, so the 4's did three laps and the pro/1/2/3 did 4 laps. It was held every year on the saturday before memorial day.

I may very well have the distances and ascents wrong. Feel free to correct me. The point is, it was a heinous race for may - in maine. To make matters worse, It was about a 3 hour hour drive from where I was living at the time, up in the wilds of down-east maine. This was inbred country, for sure.

I only ever raced it as a 4 since it stopped running the same year I upgraded. That was fine since I really can't say I missed riding 95 miles instead of 72.

The last year I raced it, I rode up with my good friend, Best Man, former RAAM competitor, and the person responsible for getting me addicted to cycling, Ed Kross. Now, Ed has a very dry and droll sense of humor. He also had the honor of being the nicest guy in the local peloton. Really, The guy actually raced with a handkerchief, and would use it in races rather than just toss a clam into the wind. So, he suckers, er, convinces me to take the three hour drive up there with him for a few years straight in his lil red pickup.

One year, on the way up, he tells me the story of how his brother worked way up in maine for a while and hated it. He said they should change the state motto from "Americas' Vacationland" to "Welcome to Maine, We Fuck Our Kids".

That year, Ed was a 3, so he was doing 4 laps, his field started a few minutes before us. I ended up in the front group on the last lap since I was one of the better climbers in the 4's field. The apple orchard climb came about 6 miles from the finish, and I pushed the pace up it. At the top, I looked back and had a gap of well over 100 yards, so I kept going. As I got to the bottom of the climb - 3 miles to go - I looked back an there was no one in sight. I hit the climb and just kept my pace. Then came the mistakes: At the one mile to go mark, I looked back, no one in sight, so I let up a bit. At 1 K to go, I look back. Still no one. So I pop it into my 39x23 and sit up. Hey, I got this thing in the bag, Right?


At the 100 meter to go mark, I can see the finish line. There are only a few people there, but they're screaming like lunatics.

Then I wake up. Three guys come flying past me. I jumped onto them as hard as I could, but they had come up on me too quickly, and I couldn't close the gap. Talk about Fucking Stupid?!?!

Afterwards one of them said to me they thought I was gone for sure. All I could muster was 'yeah, I kind of lost it at the end'. I'm thinking they assumed I had cooked myself. They didn't realize I was just being your typical cat 4 shithead. I had plenty of gas left to keep driving it when I shut it down.

I was crying in my gatorade about it to Ed, who had dropped out of the P123 race, when Big Red came up to me to chat. Big Red was a local cat 4 on a black cannondale 3.0. He had this massive bushy head of bright red hair with a full viking style beard and mustache to match. Other than that he was incredibly lean and fit. It was quite a look. The first two times up the big hill, he was hurting us. The third time, not so much, and we dropped him on one of the lesser climbs after that. He started polite conversation about riding the climb, he lived close by, and he rode the hill and course all the time. It wasn't too difficult to spot that he was a product of the local environment - a somewhat deficient school system, poor economic opportunities, etc.... I was being polite, and as polite as Ed was normally, he was so disgusted with both our performances that he just went about packing up the truck.

So I asked Red - "what gear were you climbing that hill in?"

Red replied "uh, tenth?"

I was somewhat taken aback. Ed popped out of the back of the truck like a jack-in-the-box, incredulous and wide eyed, then turned to me and said "we really have to get going".

So I excused myself "yeah, we have a long drive, it's been good talking to you". We exchanged pleasantries and he rolled off down the hill. As soon as he was away, Ed said to me "welcome to maine, we fuck our kids"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another 'perfect' week

Well, last week I made five commutes by bike, monday through friday. A week of not having to start my car once. The mileage for the week ended up being 115, as I put in a few extra on the way home one day.

Saturday I ended up driving up the FOMBA trails at Lake Massabesic in lovely Auburn, NH. Over 12 miles of single track bliss. I hooked up with The One And Only Dr. Bigelow. I've done road rides with him but never off road. The guy is a fucking riot off road, telling jokes, making silly comments, and exchanging cycling war stories while negotiating some of the best terrain new england has to offer.

It's now monday afternoon. I could have ridden in today, as there were only slight sprinkles, but the forecast showed the potential for severe storms. So tonight I'm going to go home and attempt a short run. After six days of riding last week, and then spending the rest of saturday doing yard work with _no_ achilles pain, it's time to try a short run.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

fucking irony

Wouldn't you know it?

A little while ago I posted some nonsense about my rear tire wearing thin. Monday night I finally got to replacing it, and the threads were showing almost all the way around the tire. Really, there were probably two spots on the tire more than an inch long that had rubber with _no_ threads showing through.

So I pulled out a relatively good hutchinson carbon comp from my stash.

Rode in tuesday - ok

Tuesday I make a post about flat tires.

Tuesday evening on the way home - ffffffffffffffffffffff.

I was actually fortunate, there were no mosquitos, and I had good CO2, so I didn't have to bust my ass pumping.

But still - Karma, or what?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How To Get Your Bike Fixed

I was directed to the blog of The Fat Cyclist recently. He had a typical story of being ignored by snobby aloof mountain bikers while hoofing a flat tire that couldn't be repaired. While I empathized, I really didn't hold much sympathy as he _had_ a spare tube but due to some sense of misplaced pride couldn't bring himself to put a tube in a tubeless rim/tire setup.

Anyways, I came across this comment to the post by someone named 'orbea girl':

Recently, I stopped to assist someone with a puncture. The elderly gentleman was somewhat apologetic that a woman had come to his rescue until I pointed out that I wasn’t going to change his wheel, oh no, the next bloke to come round the corner was going to do it. I sent him off behind the bush with my bike and waited. Within no time at all, six blokes came around the corner, halted, leapt off their bikes and proceeded to change the wheel. As they took their leave, the youngest member of the sextet gave me back the bike. He looked at me and then looked at the bike and said “This isn’t your bike, is it?”. “Well spotted”, I replied. “It belongs to the old chap behind the bush, no one stopped to assist him, so I decided to give him a helping hand. I do know how to mend a puncture but I have never, ever had to do it because Frenchmen are so chivalrous.

Well, there you have it. I think I'm rather fortunate in this aspect, 1) because I can fix my own bike, and 2) I'm getting to be old enough where young girls will take pity on me with 'oh, you poor little skinny old bald guy', and have their boyfriends fix my bike, since they no longer see me as a threat.

Anyways, the gist of the story was that Fat Cyclist got passed by two riders who offered no assistance. No surprise there, I've found mtbrs to be way more snobby and aloof that road riders, but that may be just cause I'm snobby and aloof.

The underlying lesson here is to NEVER ride tubeless without carrying a spare tube. The risk that you'll never be able to get the bead seated back on the rim to form the seal simply isn't worth the waste of time.

Laslty, this guy Fat Cyclist has like 75 to 100 comments on each of his posts, damn.......

Monday, June 9, 2008

nazi douchebags

Well, I guess the party’s over. I came to work this morning and was greeted with this:

We had a reprieve from the web Nazis here for a while, but, I guess they decided the pay the bill and get the subscription turned back on. No more google groups or webmail. Fortunately they haven’t figured out how to get rid of the local non-browser hotmail client known as ‘live mail’.

We get warning pages too, so I can click by them and still get to those sites. Blogger is one of them. So I can get to _most_ of my favorite blogs except Drunk Cyclist. That’s too bad, since he’s one of the best cyber warriors out there, not to mention a Good American Free-thinking Liberal (not hung up on all that ‘god’ nonsense. I don’t think he’s an atheist, I just think he realizes how fucking stupid religionists are, though I could be wrong).

I was stylin’ during the Giro, since live tickers weren’t being blocked, but I remember when the filter _was_ in the page I have to keep hitting ‘update’ and then keep hitting ‘proceed’ to get the ticker to update. It happens automatically without the filter.

Fucking douchbag Nazis….

I got out on the MTB on both Saturday and Sunday, in the heat. I was diggin’ it. I really dig this 95 degree 90% humidity action. Saturday was a shorter ride since I had some errands to run, but Sunday I did my favorite local ride in the Winnekenni conservation area.

Winnekenni isn’t huge (allegedly 700 acres), but there are a lot of trails, including two sections of super twisty single track totaling about 1.5 miles, most of it on the side of a hill that wraps around on itself several times, and a ½ mile long access road hill at about 5% - not very steep but with washouts and very soft spots. I managed to string together a point to point route about 6.8 miles that only uses one short section of fire road twice. If you go one way, then turn around and ride it the other direction, you get a reasonably technical 13 mile workout that takes just under 90 minutes with about 1200 feet of climbing, most of it in little 50’ rises, not including the ride to and from the park. It’s usually sparsely populated enough so you can really push the effort and not have to worry about other park users.

This is the polar output:

I didn’t feel any real pain either day, though towards the end of Sundays ride, I could feel a slight pain in the connective tissue on the outside of my right calf.

I rode to work today, and felt good all the way in, except that I ended up with the same pain after I got in.

At my therapy session today, we discussed the pain, where it was, when it showed up…Shes thinking I might need some of those high-end custom orthotics.

But the good news is that _none_ of the pain I’ve been having is debilitating, I’m going to start upping my weekly milage, try to get in more two-hour rides. When I can do a ten-hour week with no pain, I’ll try the Tuesday Night Fights.

Friday, June 6, 2008

now that you got a few bucks in your pocket, you ain't the same any more, you walk like you're a dental student, or a plumber

So I'm sitting here at about midnight on a friday, watching a mildly entertaining movie with Matt Dillon and Lily Taylor. He's a writer, and not a very good one. His personality depends on his ineptitude. The more successful he is, the less of a human he is.

It got me thinking about writing. I commented to Solo recently about how I had won a writing contest for a cycling magazine, and found out later there were only three entrants. Hey, a win is a win, right?

I like to think I can write well. Obviously, there are better writers than me, not just in substance, but in content, as well as context. I've written alot in my life, and in fact have a reasonable talent for technical writing. I wrote this. I set up and performed all the tests, recorded the data, generated the charts, wrote the analysis, filed the application, and explained the details and discrepancies to the FCC technical investigators. Now, it isn't the best technical writing, or even _my_ best technical writing, but it managed to get my company the first and only part 90 FCC certification for a portable spread spectrum video transmitter in the United States. I did 6 of these applications in my 4 years at that company, and never had a rejection.

I've tried writing real literature. I started writing a novella based on my early 20s, specifically about my first real love. If I find it, I'll post it. I thought it was good, as did the Girlfriend I had the time (not the one I wrote the story about). She said it was 'passionate'. She wasn't a critic, she was a masters level environmental engineer working on her doctorate in environmental science at Yale. Yes, _the_ yale in connecticut. She had fabulous tits. Take that accolade for what it was worth.

So I have this shitty blog. I write crappy commentaries on my life experiences, but truth be told, I really don't have the time, patience, or even the attention span to write anything like this.

Well, I'm going to try mountain biking for the first time since the snow was on the ground last winter, and see if my achilles can handle it. Maybe I'll find some inspiration in the new growth of the late spring.