Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Wearing A Little Thin....

As I was riding to work this morning, I heard a startling light metallic sound from the ground under my bike, something I could never recall hearing before, in 20+ years of racing and riding. I quickly pulled over and got off the bike. All the spokes were there, the wheel turned true, the tire was still hard - then I noticed the rubber....ew. I've enhanced the photos to show the wear

I've had these World Champion Edition Michelin Axial Pros for a few years. I used to just race on them, and bought them because they matched the good-ole-days team BOB kit - red, yellow, and blue. I bought four of them back then.

Well, as the hub turned, and we're now in the not-so-good-ole-days of team BOB, and the kit now more closely resembles the inside of a baby's diaper with the name to match (hey, that's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it), I transferred the tires to my commuter wheels.

One season of training commuting ~ 5000 miles, not counting the previous years racing. I counted three spots on the tires where the casing is showing throw the rubber and a couple of good gouges. I never did find what made the noise - must have just been some junk I rode over.

It's ok, I have more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"you're such a heel..."

I've had two visits with the new physical therapist so far.

I'm not horribly impressed, but I'm not dissapointed either.

She does seem to know what she's doing, but for someone who advertises as a 'sports therapist', she seem woefully uninformed about endurance sports. Now, I don't expect her to know the esoteric minutia regarding bicycle biomechanics, but I would have thought she would have been aware of the concept of clipless pedals. Still, she seems very confident about the nature, cause, and cure regarding my injury. So off we go....

One of the first things she picked up on was a drastic difference in pronation between my left and right foot. The right is far more severe. more on this later.

She noted that, the tear on the achilles probably came bout as a result of the short-term increase in calf strength since I significantly upped my running milage, and that if it weren't for that, my calf muscles would have cramped and seized way before I stressed the tendons. Apparently, my two decades of cycling left my legs pretty well matched in so far as my body letting me know what was going on.

Now for the feet. Since my feet have started to pronate so badly, it's putting an extra strain on the achilles, sort of twisting them out at the bottom. Now, I've never needed any corrective inserts, she's telling me I should have started with them a few years ago. The added twist at the tendon is not only preventing proper healing, but exacerbating the problem.

So, onto Superfeet. I'm probably going to need all new cycling shoes (road and mtn) since all my shoes are quite comfortable with a thin sock, and the new inserts are going to take up some space. But, let me get these, and I'll see if they fit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hardware - Il Campione del Cantina - Basso Gap

The Basso Gap is so named from Mariano Basso's World Championship win in 1972, in a narrow sprint over the one and only Eddy Merckx, a notable feat by anyone's standard (Merckxs Overall classification, Points Classification, and 6 stages in the Tour de France, overall classification and 4 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and setting the hour record at 49.431 km in 1972 should have been enough for him anyways).

So when you have a victory of that magnitude, why not name a bike after it?

But hey, Basso was no one trick pony, and actually had a pretty decent career:
1966 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1967 2 stages, Tour de France
1968 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1969 Giro del Piemonte
Tre Valli Varesine
1 stages, Tour de France
4 stages, Giro d'Italia
1970 3 stages, Tour de France
2 stages, Giro d'Italia
1971 Points Competition, Giro d'Italia
2 stages, Giro d'Italia
1972 World Pro Road Race
1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1973 GP Gippingen
1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1974 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1975 6 stages, Vuelta a España
1977 Coppa Placci
1 stage, Giro d'Italia

That said, let's not read anything into the title of this entry - The Champion of the Basement. It's my basement, I'm referring to, and this bike is the prettiest one I have.

It's Circa 1984, I bought it in new at the old Bicycle Exchange on Mass Ave in Cambridge in the spring of '85. Columbus SL tubing. This wasn't a top of the line bike. I was told after several frame alignments that the build is 'soft'. This is true, after riding several frames over the years, it certainly doesn't have the snap one would expect from a high-end bike. In fact, my '84 Kellogg frame has a better race quality (more on that in another post).

This is a 'club racer'. It's built for local hacks like me, wanting a reasonable race bike to keep up with the weekly local races. A task it fulfilled nicely.

A few years ago I decided to restore the bike - let me back up.

In the late '80s I stripped the bike and painted it. It was a red candy apple metal flake. I simply took it to a local auto body shop and asked them to paint it a deep blue metal flake. The fork was originally red like the rest of the bike, and I discovered while stripping it that the entire fork was chrome plated, but it was a pretty lousy job. There were pits and file marks, no wonder they painted it. I took the fork to a local metal fabricator that specialized in plating parts for cars and motor cycles, then asked the guy to strip it, plate it, and polish it. It came out fabulous.

In about 2002 I decided to 'restore' it. I took the frame (only) to Ted Wojciack and asked him to do a "showroom" paint job, in the original candy apple red, and put on a complete set of new decals, Again, it came out fabulous. Then I set out collecting old parts, to bring it up to a level slightly higher than what I bought. I went for a complete period Campagnolo Nuovo Record. It originally had a mishmash of Italian parts - modolo brakes, ofmega hubs, cranks, and BB, campy NR shifters and dérailleurs.

I still had some of the parts, but what the fuck, they were used and abused, crashed, scratched up, fuck it. I just decided to get everything as new-looking as possible.

I think I succeeded.

I have the frame fitted with the following:
Cinelli stem, bars, and cork tape

Campagnolo Nuovo Record: brakes, derailleurs, cranks, seatpost, bottom bracket, 52/42 chainrings, shifters, and headset (yes, those are Bullseye red jockey wheels. Hey, as James Bond would say 'as long as the collar matches the cuffs, I don't mind')

Campagnolo Record hubs

Campagnolo Record Pave rims with newer vittoria sew-ups.

Sachs-Regina 13-18 six-speed freewheel.

A genuine Campagnolo seatpost bolt!!

And, Ya diggin' that gay white San Marco saddle with gold trim Solo?

The frame has details your rarely see on a production bike anymore, Note the logos cast into the bottom bracket shell, seat stays, brake bridge, and fork crown. There are a few little problems. The stickers aren't exactly period, they are from a much newer vintage, but I don't care.
There are a lot of chain-slap dings on the drive-side chain stay, but I don't care.

Ah thank it's real puuurrrrrty.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Cycling......

Todays Giro D'Italia stage has a big motherfucker climb and a couple of smaller ones. Riccardo Riccò, aka The Cobra, a new, young, bright, hopeful in italian cycling noted, "We will see how the others are working. In the finale I will try something. I will have lots of fans out there, on the same roads where Marco Pantani trained."


A disgrace to the sport. Thrown out of the giro for EPO, then dying from a cocaine overdose. Why is it these people still revere him as a hero? We saw just how good he was when he rode clean - that is to say, he was quite average. Besides that, in my humble opinion, if your gonna dope, jesus christ, don't brag about how good you are, it only makes you look more like a fool when you get busted.

Anyway, This blog _is_ supposed to be all about me, so here it is.

The prognosis is in and I'm glad to say my rehabilitation is to be taken more seriously. The original 'prescription' was 'rest (in the cast) for a few weeks, the start out slowly, build up a little at a time'. I followed this advice, and as of yesterday I was in constant pain in _both_ achilles. Remember, the injury occurred as a result of riding 360 miles with 40,000 feet of climbing in five days.

The new prescription is for 'aggressive physical therapy', three times a week for 8 weeks.
*Iontophoresis with dexamethasone sodium phosphate
*Therapeutic exercise
*Active and passive range of motion exercise
*Strength training
*Gait training

All of that is actually written on the 'Rehabilitation Services Order'. I had to ask about Iontophoresis. It's sort of analogous to galvanization, only using drugs on your skin. The drug is ionized, then applied to you skin using a set of electrodes. This link to a wikipedia article seems reasonable. I'm wondering how much fun could be had with various recreational drugs in ionic solution, you know "apply directly to the forehead"? Charge me up baby!!!

Anyways, Since I'm out for doing any real training for _another_ two months, I guess we can pretty mu call this season over.

Not that I don't have plenty else to keep me busy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Installation of 'My Previous Life'

I was never a breast man, until I met Frankie.

Actually, her name was Francis. We worked in the same building, and saw each other frequently in the cafeteria. She was ten years older than me, and attractive. About 5'4", maybe 130#, I know what you're thinking.

'That's a bit on the chunky side'.

Not when she has a rack the size of these. She was definitely out of proportion, thought not what some would called 'disfigured'. She would probably be 110# or less if more properly proportioned.

She was an office manager, and dressed professionally. Not as to overtly conceal her buxom qualities, though she hardly dressed to accentuate them. I caught her a few times looking at my ass in the cafeteria (the only place we ever saw each other), but she would immediately turn a sour expression and look away when I caught her.

On one occasion though, I caught her staring, but didn't she didn't catch me, so I blurted out "I'll let you touch it if you want".

She smiled nervously, eyes wide opened knowing she had been _seriously_ bagged, went-flush and turned away.

I caught up to her as she was leaving the cafeteria, introduced myself, and asked her out.

She agreed.

We got along pretty well, and after a couple weeks/three or four dates, we were at her apartment, and she initiated by unzipping my fly and giving me head. Other than a good night kiss, this was the first intimate contact we had. It turned out she _loved_ giving head, and in the ensuing relationship would do it without any prompting whatsoever, often without any other foreplay. I ended up nicknaming her frankie, to which she would respond by batting her eyes shyly and turning the ends of her mouth in a subtle smile that noted sincere affection.

Her breasts were magnificent. The first time she got naked, she took off her bra and that set of 44DDs barely flinched. They were completely natural, full, and firm. She was 40 years old, and they were as firm as any 20 year old I had ever been with, and more than twice as large. At that moment, I became very appreciative of breasts, and have not looked at a buxom woman the same way since. She loved sex and liked riding on top. She was an attractive woman, with large beautiful breasts, and having her riding me was a sight I shall cherish to my grave.

The relationship didn't last but 4 months or so. She ended up meeting someone else. We weren't in love, although I was upset in getting dumped for someone else. We parted amicably, and were still friendly after that at work. She was good that way. She was a genuinely nice honest woman, hadn't deceived me, cheated or lead me on, and I really couldn't be angry with her. It was what it was, and it was good.

She did end up marrying with the guy she met. I ran into her years later at a grocery store, I was married and had my then 3-year-old daughter with me. We chatted for a while, talked about past co-workers, what each other was doing now (then), until my daughter got too restless.

As we were leaving the store, my daughter asked "daddy, was that lady your friend"

I replied "yes sweetie, she's my friend"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Moment of Pause

I have two cats

I have a 13 year old child

I came home from work today and was greeted with:

"Daddy, you know how they say a cat always lands on it's feet? it's not true"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Do They Get It Yet?

You've probably heard about the tornadoes that struck the midwest this weekend. While tornadoes in Oklahoma are nothing new, or even remarkable, what I found of interest was where these ones hit.

Picher, Oklahoma, home of one of the first Superfund sites in the US - Tar Creek.

Picher has a long and sordid past. According to a University of Michigan study and report, the land was seized from the local Quapaw indian tribe for a mining company to mine zinc and lead. In the 70 odd years that the mines operated, they left behind large piles of mining waste, which contain nearly double the amount of lead the would normally cause the EPA to declare it as toxic waste. There are 165 MILLION TONS of this waste in piles up to 200 feet tall, left on public lands and residential areas. The local ground water has almost three times the allowable levels for lead, 20 times the allowable levels for cadmium, and 25 times the allowable level for zinc. It's probably safer for their kids to eat pennies than drink the water.

In addition, the mines left 300 miles of tunnels behind. These have filled with water in the past 40 years, and the concentrate of chemicals has enough acid to erode the mine supports, causing cave-ins under homes and businesses.

This has been going on for 30 years. As expected, there is massive wildlife damage and significantly higher cases of birth defects.

The government, to their credit in this case, has said 'look, we can't fix this, so we'll pay to move you to a safe area. But, as you can imagine, there are a few diehard idiots, no doubt making life decisions under the influence of lead poisoning.

Now, a tornado whips through, destroying homes and business, killing 13 and injuring over 150, in a town with a population of about 800. In 2000 there were 1600 residents, half of whom have moved with the help of the feds.

If there's anyone left there who wants to stay, at what point do you say 'ok, I get it'? Now, I'm far from a religious person, but we all know the types living in rural northeastern Oklahoma. Don't you people think you're being told something?

And on a related note, the same storm system hit the town of Racine, Missouri, destroying a business owned by Bill and Jane Lant - are you ready for this? - A combination feed store and bridal shop.

Oh the images that come to mind........


Friday, May 9, 2008

YOU BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Hardware - Tsunami!

Now that I figured the camera out, I can repost reasonable pics (good thought on the macro/ micro setting Solo, but that wasn't it (I've been had by that before as well). If you look closely at the pics it's obvious I was experiencing some latent DTs or something. I did some experimentation and it seems that the 'red eye' flash setting had some thing to do with it) of the main race bike; an '05 Tsunami Compact 3, full carbon frame and fork.

This isn't the best bike I've ever ridden. I think the fork rake is too steep (not enough trail?) since the bike is horrible to handle with no hands. It either leans over right away or breaks into a wobble. It does this regardless of the wheels on the bike. As long as I have my hands on the bars it's fine, and I have done descents pushing 60 MPH with no problems. I know it isn't me, since I can ride every other bike no handed with no problems.

Other than that, it's pretty light - 16.75 pounds as shown. It accelerates well, handles decently in criteriums, and rides comfortably. Not bad for $700 for the frame and fork.

I have it set up with campy chorus 9 speed, FSA BB and carbon crank (actually, Giant Team Issue from Chucks Bikes), Cane Creek headset and 200SL brakes, Easton EC 90 post and EA90 stem, ITM bar, Speedplay TI pedals, selle san marco saddle.

The wheels shown are Mavic Gel 330 on Record hubs with Conti Sprinter 250 tubulars. I have a set of Zipp 303s with Tufo tubulars for hilly races. The Zipps drop the weight another few ounces.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's It All About?

I've been trying to put together another 'hardware' post, but damnit if I can't get the stupid fucking camera to stop taking blurry pictures. Am I that tweaked from not being able to ride extensively that I can't even hold a camera? This is how the bikes came out:

..................Tsunami road..............................Bontrager Cx...........................Cube TT................................

I have a better camera that I use at work for taking tech. pictures. I'll bring that home and get some better shots.

I'm having problems justifying the amount of cycling garbage in my basement lately. Now that I really don't have a team to ride for, and I won't be able to tell how extensive the damage to my achilles is for another few months, and face it, I'm not going to be winning anything unless I keep riding 'till I'm 70 and I'm the only guy entered in the 70+ category. I have 9 bikes that are completely set up and ready to ride. I have two spare sets of good MTB wheels and three good sets of spare road wheels on top of the wheels _on_ the bikes. I have two 12 foot long shelves of bike parts, plus a few medium size moving boxes of other parts laying around. I even have _complete_ Mavic Mektronic component group in anit-static packaging.


Some promise of latent cycling glory?


Right now it's about fitness. I enjoy keeping my weight down and being able to still fit into my old concert t-shirts. I have a 20 year old leather jacket that only fits slightly more snugly than when I first got it.

And then there's the 'Zen'.

I simply enjoy getting out on the bike. Riding along on some of the quiet back roads that I work into my commute, all I can hear is the whir of the cassette and the dull roar of the deep section Rolfs on the smooth pavement, save the occasional chorus of birds. I _am_ in love with cycling.

Yesterday I was stopped at Lafayette Square in Haverhill waiting for the light to change, and the din of the city - sub woofers, car/truck/Mcycle motors, acted almost as an aphrodisiac - I _am_ in love with cycling.

Once I get back out on the MTB, I will feel the peace and oneness with the dirt, mud, rocks, and roots. The loudest sounds coming from the chain slapping the drive-side stay. I enjoy coursing along a smooth twisty piece of single track more than most anything - pausing to take in the bucolic vista of a lake or rocky stream. I _am_ in love with cycling.

In order to attain these two not-so-disparate nirvanas I really only need one bike - my old handmade steel Bontrager CX would work just fine, though an additional set of light wheels for road riding would be nice.

But I have 9. What a waste.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dial it back

The message was made clear:
"Stop now or you'll regret it"
After a nearly perfect week , then two good days of riding and running, I was prepared to take it up a notch. After thursdays run, I had my reservations. Friday, I had a 'wait and see attitude', but the confluence of events convinced me to scrap the whole idea.
Both calves sore from running wednesday and thursday.
Rain and cold on both saturday and sunday.
Worked for most of the day saturday in manch-vegas.
The wife had a 'jewelry party' on sunday, an I was invited to an Irish Seissun at Mr. Dooleys in Boston with my friend and Fiddler Extrordinaire Eamon Coyne, who was working there with Patsy Whalen, another irish immigrant/internationally famous seissun musician.
So, with all that stacked up, I pretty much resigned myself to drinking and eating this weekend. There were more reasons _not_ to try and stress it with a competitive run in the rain.
My right ankle is still slightly sore today, so I think I will lay off it for another week in terms of running. I rode into work this morning and had a disconcerting slight burn after I got out of the shower. I'll have to see what it feels like tonight after I get home.
I found it interesting that the bar was advertising The Dave Foley Band for next saturday, I wonder if he's as ugly as the one _I_ know?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

non sequitur

I had a bizarre dream last night. I dreamed I was going to visit a friend at the international space station. I wasn't an astronaut, just a paying passenger. When I got there, insanity had run amok. one of the 'residents' had killed all the others, and managed to kill the shuttle 'pilots' that flew me up there, then destroy the shuttle killing himself in the process. I was left alone on the space station in a rapidly deteriorating orbit. The last thing I remember before I woke up with a start, was floating in space in a spacesuit, watching the space station flame out as it descended towards earth.

For some reason this dream really troubled me, and I had a hard time getting back to sleep.

Back on topic.

Since my injury seems to have been 'healing' (get it? heal, heel? HAH!) properly, I've decided to 'step' it up a notch by running more (get it? step, run? HAH! I'm on fire!!!!).
I just happened to be driving by the New Balance Factory Store in Lawrence tuesday, and decided to pop in and see if the had a good pair of XC running shoes. Was I surprised!!!. They had a whole new batch of their latest XC racer, the M800, in the wicked orange and black, for $50!!!!
So yesterday at lunch I hit the trails by work. A bit too much mud, but damn, these shoes dug right in. This is what they look like after the 5K loop.

The trails vary from a fire road to winding technical single track, with fallen logs, stone wall crossings, mud, cambered hillside, rocks, and roots. The shoes gave firm and confident footing and control. No, this isn't the trail, but it's close enough.

So yesterday and today - ride to work (15K) run at lunch (5K) and ride home (15K).
Tomorrow - ride to and from work.
This weekend there are two running events local to me, the Spring Fever 5K and Foot Health 5K. I hope to be able to ride to both of them, run, then ride home, but Manch-vegas could conspire against me. We had the decks for all three apartments plus the front deck replaced this spring, so now I have an SUV sized pile of pressure-treated and partially painted wood to dispose of. There's a local disposal company that promises to dispose of safely, and he will give me a break if I help him load it. That and I have to re route the sump hose (long story). So, what ever day gets the nod from the disposal company, I probably won't race that day.

Geeze, I just noticed I wrote 'race'. What I'm doing can hardly be called racing. Race _training_ maybe. The point will be to establish a baseline after recovering from the torn achilles, and develop a plan from there.