Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Here at Zencycle we are always on the lookout for new and exciting cycling based bloggage and internettery*

Recently, I happened upon Bike Jerks, a Minneapolis based blog about all things cycling. What led me there was this.

This is awesomeness. An old school out-n-back 'cross course, and by old-school I'm mean this,

They may not have anything as heinous as a boulder strewn run-up, but it sounds more epic than the glam-rock sport cyclocross has become in the past ten years.

A brief race description here:

"We will meetup at 2pm at the Light Rail station on Hiawatha and 38th. We will then take the light rail (bring fare) out to the American Boulevard station in Bloomington and will start the race on the Low Road. We will race to the Cedar Ave Bridge, cross the bridge on the ped bridge under the highway, take a left onto the trail on the opposite side of the river and end the race at Lucky's pub in Mendota Heights. The winner is the first one to touch the wall of the bar."

Then today, I took a quick peek and was rewarded with The Pedal Pusher Society, Milwaukee’s premier women and transgender bike gang.

But Wait! There's More! The La Belle Femme Ciclist du Milwaukee did a parody of Michael Jacksons Beat It video. It's exactly what one would expect from a group of urban female cycling hipsters with sapphic tendencies. Behold:

It's interesting that boston doesn't have some sort of analogous organization.

So put Bike Jerks in your bloglist, friend them on facebook, and visit their website.

And if you dare, put a link to a women and transgender bike gang website on your blog.

* Is there a real definition to internettery? I did some checking on google, and got usage hits back as far as 2004, but no listings in any on-line dictionaries. I know it's intuitive, but I would have thought that if sarah palin could get a word listed after a glaringly ignorant fuck-up that something floating around the interwebs** for over 5 years might have made the big time.

** wait...is interwebs a word? I should ask Thom.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What Did You Do During the Blitz, Daddy?

While I didn't have to endure anything even remotely resembling a 'Blitzkreig', I was engaged in a program ostensibly 'designed' to get my lazy drunk ass back into a work-out regimen over the thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, november 24 - an easy 4+ mile run with Matt Simpson, Dan Verrington, and Dave Dunham.

For those not in the know, Dan and Dave are two of the most prolific and accomplished runners in new england. Dave just had an article published in the local newspaper. His career stats are at the end of the article.

Dan's accomplishments are no less impressive, and Matt used to run with the Whirlaway elite team before he tore his achilles tendon several years ago. Matts first forays back into running this year after five years away from the sport are mind boggling. Contrast that with my best effort.

Thursday, november 25 - 18 miles ride up to relative's house in Derry for thanksgiving dinner. It was quite cold with a noticeable headwind the whole way, and I didn't actually warm up until I made it over Warner Hill, with less than 5 miles to go.

I know, it ain't much, but it kinda hurts when it's below freezing into a head wind and you haven't really ridden in a month.

We ate a lot, drank a lot, watched the Patriots finally get their heads out of the asses, and then watched three episodes of The Walking Dead - A dramatic tale of the interactions of several families thrown together on the aftermath of an apocalypse of flesh-eating zombies. Wonderful entertainment after feasting on various forms of roasted animal flesh.....

Friday, november 26 - simple run with my dog

Saturday, November 27 - met up with Simpson again for a CX tour of some local power lines and the former Bensons Wild Animal farm, now turned into a public park.

Bensons is literally crying out to have a 'cross course run on it. There are about 5 miles of a mixture of paved and non-paved trails, some groomed, some not, with a large picnic/ festival area. Seriously, if I didn't live so far away and was hooked up with a local racing club, I'd be all over it.

Sunday, November 28 - Simpson coerces me to com back, this time for a CX tour of some local apple orchards and another pass at Bensons, this time with "The German", aka "the tank"

Roland is a German immigrant living in the US for several years. I didn't get to asking him his citizenship status or if he was raised in the DDR or FRG.

Generally speaking, I was breathing too hard to get out much conversation. Roland is 55, and has an unbelievable amount of fitness and power. Apparently, he also has a reputation amoungst many local racers as being _the_ guy to train with in the off season. After the first hill we went up, I would agree. the guy just rolled effortlessly up over it, with me almost helplessly going into O2 debt just trying to stay in his wheel.

He was on a new 'cross bike, and it was pretty evident he wasn't too interested in ripping up the course like Matt and I. We were diving into the corners around the apple trees, and he was slowing down taking his time. Not that it mattered, as soon as he was out of a turn he was on and past us like a laser. He turned on the gas a few times out on the road, and I was lucky enough to be able to catch his wheel. I could draft him, and that was about it. The truth was told though, as the ride wore on, he would simply maintain his pace on the hills, and I was promptly dispatched. His steady drive and pace was nothing if not blitzkrieg-esque. However, in the woods was a different story. I don't know if it was a lack of handling skills, or just unfamiliarity with the new bike, but he wasn't too keen on staying with us in the fun double track around Bensons or the walking trails around the orchards. Something told me though, if he wanted to, it would have been a different story.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Hey, TSA, Pat THIS!"

Just in time for the thanksgiving holiday travel rush, here's an idea to have a little fun at the expense of the TSA.

Go to your local hardware store and buy some aluminum foil tape. It's usually sold as an accessory in the insulation department.

Go to your local department store and get a stupid-looking-white-sort-of-male-person's-conservative-kind-of-middle-of-the-road-cotton-undergarment (AKA T-shirt).

Cut the tape into thin strips, and form block letters into witty sayings. Stick the letters on the T-shirt. They should show up on the TSA scanners like so:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S.M.A.R.T. - Put It On Your Fuckit..er..Bucket List

The New Low Speed Wind Tunnel in Plaistow, New Hampshire
(click all images to enlarge)

“Fuckit" comes from a conversational snippet that occurred while the rest of the people in the new england cycling scene were attending a party they _thought_ "anyone who is anyone" would be attending Saturday night. I was attending a cycling _industry_ event 50 miles north of the "hub of the universe" with not only a festive atmosphere and an open bar, but with implications that could drastically effect competitive cycling in New England, especially road racing. The Speed Merchant Aero Research and Testing Low Speed Wind Tunnel (LSWT) is now open!!

Here's the conversation of the evening (names change to protect the guilty, but we are all cyclists, and had been drinking for a few hours, (including cuervo shots)):

Tom: hey Dave, you did a porn star on your last trip to Vegas, right?
Betty: oh my god, you had sex with a porn star?
Dave: yeah
Zen: was it a real porn star, or just a porn "actress"? (I added air quotes)
Dave: yeah....no....she just does a lot of porn
Zen: was she hot?
Dave: eh...I probably wouldn't have bothered if I didn't know she did porn
Tom: was she any good?
Dave: eh...kinda mechanical
Betty: then why did you have sex with her?
Dave: just to check it off.
Betty: check what off?
Tom: you know, the bucket list.

(after laughter dies down.....)

Tom and Dave: no....BUCKET list

Apparently, Betty had never seen or heard of the movie "The Bucket List".

Anyways, this post isn't about drunken mis-communication or sex with porn actresses (though I should do a post on that). It's actually about what you can do to become a better cyclist for not a whole lot of money.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Speed Merchant Aero Research and Testing. It's a Low Speed Wind Tunnel (LSWT), designed with cyclists in mind, now open and fully operational in Plaistow New Hampshire. As an added bonus, the wind tunnel is upstairs from the New Ted Wojcik shop.

SMART is the brainchild of Armand Pantalone, a cat 3 road racer and wickid smaht engineah for wickid big defense contractah. A few years ago, Armand decided that new england could use a well-designed, reasonably priced wind-tunnel-dynamic-assessment service. He did a whole lot of research and said "oh, yeah....I got this".

SMART is also a title sponsor of BOB for 2011, with Ted Wojcik

Wojicks finery was on full display

Fast forward 4 years, and with the assistance of a small team of cycling-centric hardware and software engineers, we now have a fully operational low-speed wind tunnel, with a three-axis load measurement system, real-time heads-up floor display, and two BIG-ASS fans Capable of generating a 30+ MPH wind.

A bike mounted to the measurement table in the test section.
The table, electronics (including transducers), and software are all custom designed and developed by the SMART team.

One of the two BIG-ASS Fans (54”, to be exact)

Getting yourself into an aerodynamically efficient position is only part of the assessment you get at SMART. It's important to remember that being biomechanically efficient is just as important as aerodynamics. SMARTs proprietary three-axis measurement system is critical to analyzing not only drag force, but also pedaling dynamics and efficiency. Pedaling inefficiencies create movement side to side, up and down, and backwards and forwards. Essentially, a sloppy pedal stroke will throw you and your bike all over the road, possibly negating any aerodynamic gains you may have realized. The effort is therefore not only aerodynamic efficiency, but to get you to pedal smoothly as well. Pedaling inefficiency leads to wasted energy, and with the SMART system, these inefficiencies can be detected and the position tweaked to ensure proper balance between bio-mechanics and aerodynamics. Unfortunately, the three-axis analysis is not quite ready for prime-time just yet, but the 'X' axis for drag measurement is fully functional. The 'Y' and 'Z' axis analysis will be available in the near future. Also coming in the future will be the ability to integrate ANT+ enabled power monitors into SMARTs completely proprietary data acquisition system.

A really crappy picture of the heads-up display in front of the bike.

A much better picture of the display on the floor of the tunnel test section. The upper left is a live side view of cyclist (well, this was a demo display, but it normally would show the cyclist in real time)

Friend of the Blogging World, Mistress of the Mountains, and Printed Media Maven Kerry Litka was on hand to give a brief presentation on aerodynamic and bio-mechanical efficiency, called Quantitative Relationships Between Frontal Surface Area, Velocity, and Air Resistance, which was originally presented as part of her Kinesiology masters thesis at UNH (hey Kerry, six commas in one sentence, and not one oxford! (eight if you count the parenthetical statement)). Apparently, Kerry will also be a consultant on request. Since Kerry is 4'11" and weighs about 90 pounds, I suggested she hold onto something when they turned on the BIG-ASS fans for the big demo.

Armand and Mme Litka (in her Big Girl shoes, cuz Armand ain't that short) giving an overview presentation of the LSWT.
Note the white board with sciency stuff behind Armand.

But the real question is - does it work?

In a word, yes.

We all know Skip Foley (for those that don't, go here). In a nutshell he's won two national criterium titles, placed 3rd in the 2007 masters national TT, set the Charlie Baker Time Trial (CBTT) Masters record in 2007, and has won scores of local races in the masters and pro fields. Skip visited the tunnel earlier this year, worked with the staff to tweak out his road bike (not TT) position, then went out to the CBTT to check it out.

The result? He dropped 1:15 off his old non-aero time on a 9.75 mile course 5 weeks later. Not convinced? He went back a week later and set nearly the same time. Incidentally, that time placed him 3rd fastest all-time non-aero on the course. Not just masters non-aero 3rd fastest, but _overall_ non-aero 3rd fastest - at the age of 48. One could suggested that basic fitness gains might have had a significant effect, but knowing Skip, his fitness was already at such a level that only incremental gains would have been realized over that time. Furthermore, Skip credits SMARTs work exclusively for the improvement.

Armand used himself as somewhat of a guinea pig as well. His before/after results? A drop of nearly 1:30 on the same course Skip rode. Sure, much of that could have come from fitness gains over a 4 week period, but since I know Armand rather well, and I know how much time he has to train, I'm going to go with – ‘yeah, there was some of that, but not 90 seconds over less than 10 miles'.

Armand has other testimonials at his disposal, but if you're interested you should probably talk to him. You should probably talk to him anyways, if you have any designs on being a more efficient rider.

Put it on your fuckit....er...Bucket List.

Factors leading to the ‘fuckIt’ conversation

Friday, November 12, 2010

Albania? WTF!?!

Saw this on my Stats page today.....

I had 66 hits from people in albania, only about a dozen repeat URLs, and mostly on Titties and Beer

Saturday, November 6, 2010

link dump

(disclaimer - I posted this entry, then went over to check out Thom Ps blog only to find out he had posted a bunch of video links too. I really didn't get the idea for this post from him, I swear)

In my last post, I referred to a whole bunch of bands I was into when I first started bike racing. I was editing the post this morning to add links to the text, and I thought 'hey, why not embed videos in a new post?'. So, here it is:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One Score Down The Tubes

That's score, not score.

I've actually been racing longer than 20 years. I've held a USCF license for 23 years, and started racing 25 years ago. I became a cat 3 in 1990, and I've been there ever since. woohoo.

I was looking through pictures an memory stick and going down memory lane this week when I came upon some pictures taken of me in about 1990. Really, I'm not sure, I was trying to stitch together the faded memory fragments, rendered into such a state by the years and the abuse of my body and brain I was still subjecting myself to until long after that lost weekend in 1986. (there's only so much blow you can do in a 72 hour period before you either die or simply pass out from lack of food - fortunately (or not) for me it was the latter).

I ran across these (click to enlarge):

Yes, that is a nashbar funny bike, Circa 1985....ish. I don't know for sure because it isn't mine. It belongs in fact to Ed Kross (The Nicest Guy In Cycling (the only guy I ever raced with that blew his nose into a hankie during a race)), and who bears a large part of the blame for this obsession.

The Funny bike is so named because it looks fucking ridiculous. It had a small 24" wheel in the front and a 27" wheel in the back. I put a 700C campy record wheel on the back, and slapped on a wheel cover. Like those stickers? it's all alternative/punk bands from the 70's/80's

Black Flag
Public Image, Ltd.
New Order
Joy Division
Sex Pistols
Dead Milkmen
Butthole Surfers
English Beat (yes, a Ska band but totally awesome)
DEpeche Mode
The Smiths
The Cure
Souxie and The Banshees

You'll also notice a flat front tire. I was attempting to race the District Time Trial, and flatted the front tire about 1/2 way through, just after the turn-around. I also found this picture from that same day:

Those are two guys I used to race on NEBC with. In the skin-suit is Tom Scanlon. He doesn't race anymore, and for a while I thought he was a friend, until I found out he really thought I was socially beneath him. Tending to the bike is Ray Johnson, who is still my friend. Ray is one of those phenoms that started racing as a cat 4, upgraded to cat 3 before the end of the first year, then had enough points to upgrade to cat two halfway through the next year. He decided to sand bag it for a few months and finish the year as a 3, and won the Killing 5 day stage race. He raced fora few local elite teams over the years. He still has one of the old course records at the Charlie Baker time Trial old course, as well as the mens non-aero record on the new course. He still races occasionally, he trains for about a day and a half then places in masters races against former pros.

I kept digging, and found these pictures:

Fitchburg, Longsjo Classic 1990 - criterium stage. My very first race as a cat 3. That's Ed Kross in the center of the picture with the blue/white helmet and me behind him in the same kit.

Notice in these, all the bikes had down tube shifters and many still had exposed brake cables. I'm still riding toe clips, but I was pretty much the only one.

Damn, Could I be any fucking skinnier? Oh, wait, I still am....

(from here)

Then I found these:

Still 1990, The Nashua Criterium at Holman Stadium. In the first picture I've circled Chronoman, The test case for Negacoaching techniques. On his right _could_ be Duane Skofield, but he may have been racing as a cat 2 then.

Well, that's it for _this_ installment of "The Zen Of Memory Lane". Next time I'll put up pictures of the car that almost got me arrested - for not even driving it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I felt stupid, but I had fun anyways

I went to the Wicked Ride Of The East on sunday. It's a mountain bike 'festival' held entirely within the boundaries of the Harold Parker State Forest and promoted by NEMBA.

I haven't been riding there in years, and when I last rode regularly there it was in the '90s. Things have changed a lot since then.

Back then, we rode what few hiking trails there were, happening upon walkers, equestrians, and the occasional homoerotic encounter (yes, HPSF used to be known for its 'trolling' activity).

Now though, NEMBA has been working diligently for over ten years to create a rather expansive, interesting, and challenging trail network. I don't know exactly how many miles of trails there are at HPSF now, but the route they had mapped out was 20 miles, and didn't cover all of it.

Saturday was my fathers 70th birthday, which I hosted. We had relatives from as far as georgia, and we stayed up past midnight eating and drinking. Fortunately, the Wicked ride is not a race. Still I got up in the morning, did the dishes from 12 place settings from the night before, then went to the ride.

Stopped of course at McDonalds for my 'endurance breakfast' of a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit and hash browns (amanda, you didn't read that).

Parking was an issue. They had saw horses in front of the main driveway, so cars were lining up along the park road parked directly under the "tow zone" signs. I found a driveway to the gun club with no cars in it, and no signs saying I couldn't park there. While I was getting ready A rather portly gentleman on a freeride bike rode by and commented "they ain't gonna like you pahkin' theah". (non- new englanders should click here for a demonstration of the eastern new england accent). Since there were about 30 cars all lined up under "tow zone" signs and there was no posting where I was, I ignored him.

I finished getting dressed - forgot my shell. Shit - no biggie, it wasn't _that_ cold.

I put the bike together and realized, I hadn't fixed the loose pad in the rear brake - yes, I still ride V-brakes. Unless you're going to buy me a IF Custom Deluxe Ti with disk brakes and Mavic Cross Max wheels, shut the fuck up. Anyways, I had lost the retaining wire on the pad somehow, and the pad was loose. In a MacGyver moment, I pulled a safety pin off my kit-bag and snapped it in place.


Then I realize I had brought no more food. Hmm, could be a short day between the mild hangover and no food other than my 'endurance formula'.

Now, I've been out of the MTB scene for a long time. I haven't ridden consistently in ten years. So, I know like _no_ one except for Phil Keyes - the executive director of NEMBA. I guess if you had to pick one person to know, he's probably the best choice.

I register, don't see Phil anywhere. I'm one of the few guys in actual cycling clothes. Almost everyone else is in baggy MTB chic. I see a vendor set up with a whole array of OdWalla drinks. I ask how much and he says "just take a few". Excellent - food problem solved.

I spy a group of guys in real cycling clothes, and it turns out one is Big Bikes Thom P. He doesn't know me. I introduce myself. Now he knows me. We chat for a bit. He's very nice to me, actually _engaging_. Very cool. I think he just appreciates that I was one of the people who paid to see him drink Chelada during the SSUSA.

They were just about to head out, so I said "I'll see how long I can hang with you single speeders" I don't remember the other guys names, but there was another singlespeeder and two geared bikes, one of which was a dude in a full IF Ora team road kit - Turns out it was Robbie king, though I didn't know that until much later.

At the beginning of the ride there was a lot of traffic. I came off the bike at the first vertical challange. They must have been so impressed. I didn't have much of a problem for a while after that first section, but there was a lot of traffic on the trial, so things were slow going. I managed to catch up to Thom, and yo-yo'd behind him for a while until they stopped for a re-group.

Now, Thom was riding a 29'r single speed with a 39x17. I know guys that don't ride a gear that tall on their road fixies. At one point, I see him clear this short vertical ledge. I wasn't having too much of a problem staying with them at that point so i said 'oh, that's the good line'. Well, If you have a29r with no big chainring, it was a good line. I bashed into it at full speed, and if not for the fact that the front wheel was already 18 inches higher than the rear wheel, it would have be a you-tube worthy moment, if not something on fail blog. I was lucky that I had my right pedal at about 2 o'clock so I was able to lift the bike over it.

None of these guys has crashed yet, and I was already down twice. Feelin dumb, havin fun.

As the ride progressed, I kept dropping off the pace earlier. Once we were about 1/2 way into the ride and they had stopped for me about the 3rd time, I said to them "guys, you don't have to wait for me". I mean, seriously. I was a good 15 years older than any of them, at least two are sponsored (almost pro) riders, and I had a hang over. I can't believe they were waiting for me to begin with.

So, I popped in my MP3 player and started riding my own pace. This was _much_ better. Interestingly enough, even though they were out of sight after a few minutes, I continued to pass other riders and didn't get passed by anyone. I was riding my own pace, picking my own lines, Jamming out to stuff like Violent Mood Swings by Stabbing Westward and not worrying about holding up anyone behind me.

A while later, I see Robbie by the side of the trail - flat tire. He has no tools except and inflator and a tube. Tubeless tires do not come off tubeless rims without some good leverage. I stopped and gave him mine, and chatted with him for a bit. This is where I found out he was robbie king. I made sure after we started off again that they were all ahead of me. Once again, I was presently dispatched.

I rode the rest of the ride comfortably rockin' out, passing riders along the way. I got a flat myself, and fixed it pretty quickly. Back riding again, I saw another rider stopped with a flat at one point that had a single speed and one of those eccentric hubs. Those aren't quick release. He had broken his multi-tool. I lent him mine. It had been getting steadily cooler as I rode, and now that I had stopped I had gotten a chill. I checked my watch and I had been out about 3 hours. I decided to check the map and found that I could bail on the last two miles of single track. It wasn't like I needed the workout. I made it back to the parking lot in about ten minutes. I rode over to the registration area to see if Thom et al had made it back. Didn't see them.

I checked out the free chili they advertised. There wasn't any. Instead it was Pulled Pork. That's all well and good, but it was advertised as free, and they had a sign in front that said 'suggested donation $10'. um...hmmmm....A free pulled pork sandwich....for $10. Yeah, good cause and all that (some sort of "BBQ for a cure" foundation, couldn't find a weblink), but, no. I had those two Odwallas on the ride and I wasn't starving.

I just headed home. I was tired, a bit chilly, and had a decent bruise forming on my hip from a crash.

I felt stupid, but I had fun anyways.