Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Demanding Perfection

Is it wrong of me to consider The Butthole Surfers to be gods amoung men? This really has nothing to do with this blog post but I was just listening to The Annoying Song (arguably my favorite BHS tune) and couldn't resist. Check it out for yourself:

(crap video, keep reading after you press play)


I'm not normally one to bitch about the weather, so I won't do it here. Last week though - just to much cold/wet for me. 40's I'm okay with. Rain I'm ok with. 40's and rain......fuck it. As a result I managed to ride to work one day last week, on friday, national bike to work day. My company (A Major International Industrial Construction Conglomerate) had a nation wide 'bike to work challenge day' last thursday. One of the software department heads here bitched to the corporate HR rep that it wasn't realistic to expect people to brave 40 degree rain in the northeast while the southwest had temps in the 60's and sunny. They acquiesced, and decided to hold an alternate day this coming friday.

Not that it would matter to me, I ride in anyways. I've been commuting since about mid march and have probably 500 _commuting_ miles in this year. The weather has put a (ahem) 'damper' on it though.

Looking at the forecast for this week, we have warm(er) temps, with the chance of rain all week. Still, with the funky weather pattern, yesterday I wore tights and a base layer under the kit, with arm warmers, light weight booties, and full finger gloves, to and from work. Low 50's and sprinkles both trips. Today, just the kit. I left the house with arm warmers, and as soon as I stepped out I turned around and left them warmers inside. It was 65 with a drizzle when I left the house, and the forecast is for mid 80's on the ride home.

I've decided, this _will_ be a 'Perfect Week'. I got a 4 day week in a few weeks ago, which could have been 5 if I didn't have a dr's appointment, but there's no real reason I can't ride in every day this week. It might rain, but hey, if getting a little wet during my commute is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I'm doing pretty good.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On This Spot In 2011, Nothing Happened

I finally got some racing under my legs this weekend, and lets just say it didn't exactly go as well as I had hoped.....or as well as anyone hoped, for that matter.

The Wayne Elliot Memorial Circuit Race is run in the sleepy little bedroom/rural community of Merrimac Massachusetts.....ten miles from my house. Since it's a short 6+ mile circuit and the promoter only has the roads for half the day, they limited the fields - only one masters field, a 50+, so I had to go play with the senior 2/3 for 7 laps.

The weather forecast was completely wrong. Instead of a partly cloudy day with temps reaching the mid 60's, it stayed cloudy and cool, actually never getting out of the 50's. The temperature was only 52 by the time the race was over.

I love the roads in this area, and I train on them often. Winding, narrow, light traffic, bucolic forests and farmland sprinkled with newer developments here and there. Merrimac is far enough from boston to dissuade large scale sub-urban sprawl. However, between the rough winter and the poor financial state of the town, the roads are in rough shape. Fine for training on, or even small group rides, but not good for an 80+ rider field. 

As such, the pack was squirrly from people trying to avoid wheel-eating potholes and broken pavement. The host club (BOB cycling) did as well as they could with coldpatching and marking. The marshaling was excellent, with plenty of communications and traffic control, but the size of the field and the road conditions made it nearly impossible for the riders to not consistently ride over the center line as well as make sudden line changes. 

And, as such, I was taken out by a crash 5 miles into the race. 

It could have been worse. I went down as part of an unavoidable chain reaction. A rider did a sudden swerve, and hooked the rider in front of me. He went down, and I managed to avoid him by swerving to the right and off the road, into a hedge in some ones front yard. I went over the bars but the landing was soft.

I was riding near the front, and managed to get back on the bike before the rest of the pack went by, but the front wheel had skewed, the bars were twisted, and the right shifter was pointing at the left shifter. By the time I got everything re-oriented, the pack was long gone. I figured, what the hell, they'll be around again in about 20 minutes, I'll just wait for them and hop back in - it isn't like I was riding well enough to affect the race anyways.

The rider that went down in front of me is one of the better known and respected riders in new england. He had slammed the pavement pretty hard on his left hip. He was writhing in pain on the group as the EMTs tended to him. By the time the pack came around again, he was being placed on a back board. I hopped back into the field to finish the race.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "hey, you can't jump back in the race like that, you'll get disqualified".

You would be right. 

As it turned out, I did three more laps, and dropped out. When I bailed the average speed was 24.5 mph. I was having trouble accelerating out of one of the corners that drops you onto the base of one of the hills on the course. It's a pure fitness issue. I called it quits at the top of that climb, looked behind me and saw riders in ones and twos all the way down. 

Back at the finish, I was informed that the officials had actually stopped the race at one point and warned the entire field that they would be DQd if the yellow line violations continued. I watched them come by with one to go then, and they weren't exactly hammering. It's one of those cases where, if I had just stayed in on that lap I bailed (I was actually in the pack when I decided to quit), it would have slowed down and I could have finished with the field, most likely. The early fast pace though had taken it's toll. Spectators were commenting that easily half the field had dropped.

The finish was good, it's a 40+ mph downhill that flattens out about 1/4 mile from the finish. A 53x11 is handy. The riders came across the line holding that speed, and was the winner was some dude covered in tattoos. I don't know his name.

Oh, wait, I _do_ know who won.

No one.

That's right, there was no winner.

It turns out, the field didn't quite get the message when the officials forced the riders to stop and scolded them. Evidently, they started taking over the whole road again on the last lap. In the beginning of the race, I could see why we were all over the road. I did my best to stay on the right side if the road, but even I ended up getting beeped at my the moto official. 

What I don't get was why they kept doing it on the last lap. The field had been whittled down to around 40 riders. After 7 laps they should have become familiar enough with the rough spots on the course so that there was no need to spread out. I'm not surprised they DQd the whole field, and I don't blame them. So, unfortunately for the guy that crossed the line first, he won a race that wasn't.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

look what the cat dragged in.....

So I've been working on this post for over 2 months. Seriously, I started the 'project' in mid february.

You see, I have a ton of bike shit in my basement, and I'm looking to clear some of it out, including a frame I generally don't ride - until now.

I bought it somewhere around 2005 from Aries Sports in Newburyport (now a different bike shop, different owner, don't know the dude). I was told it was a frame built by THE Tom Kellogg for the 1984 Olympics. A few years ago, I emailed him and sent him a picture, and he basically just said yes, it was one of his, but I didn't follow up.

So I'm thinking, if this thing really is a Kellogg frame built for the Olympics, it's probably worth quite a bit to a collector.

So I emailed him again, asking for more details. and sent some pictures.

Here's where it gets.....um....interesting.

It turns out that, yes, it's a Kellogg frame. Sort of. It was built by Jeff Duser, Toms chief framebuilder. Maybe.

In reality it's a Ross. Yes, the Ross bicycles we all know from Sears and Kmart in our childhood.

Tom was hired by Ross in the early '80s to set up their 'Signature' line. It was to be a line of hand-built frames in a high production setting to keep costs down. Tom designed the bikes, and came out with a few different models - a couple of lower-end chinese imports (but still hand-made in china) and their top-of-the-line series, hand-made in the Ross factory in pennsylvania using high quality tubing (either Columbus SL or Ishiwata 022, not sure which mine is. Tom claims Ishwata, but this bike is SL )

I have a Circa 1984 Ross 508 Signature Triad.

Tom wrote: "The frame design was mine, the same exact design I developed for the first Ross Signature racing frames. Unlike the rest of the Ross bicycles made over the years, the Signature frames were real hand built frames, as good as any made at the time. I was very proud of what we did there. The guy who built that 508 was good enough that I hired him away from Ross and he is still working for me to this day, twenty six years later. You've got a little piece of history."

The only caveat to add is that Tom had left Ross in 1983 and Jim Redkay was running the shop by then. In all likelyhood, Jeff Duser _did_ make the frame, but the 508 Triads were built by a team consisting of Jeff, Juan Rodriguez, and Dave Rodriguez (hence the 'triad'). So truth be told, I don't know for sure if Jeff actually built my frame. I asked Tom for more detail, but I haven't heard back. He's probably tired of me annoying him (like you don't know that's possible).

So, even though this bike is in Toms words "as nice as anything else that was being built at the time", it probably isn't worth a whole helluvalot. I only bring up this point because I was considering selling it. It's worth more to me as a ridable bike than I would get for it at this point.

And man...it rides nice. My '91 Merlin is a first generation Kellogg design as well, and this thing rides _that_ nice. It's a shame to just leave it to collect dust, so I've made it my commuter - a fixed gear with some really nice old parts I had laying around not being used. I actually decided to abandon the Fuji experiment, and use some of the parts from that.

Circa '92 Campy Chorus crankset, brakes, and brake levers. (all in _excellent_ shape). I'm riding Eggbeaters because I need to walk a bit to my office after my commute, and I wear MTB shoes so I can walk on the linoleum.

It's hard to tell, but that's an authentic Campy Chorus seat post bolt.

Easton EC90 carbon bars, EC90 Stem, American Classic Trilock Headset (a fabulous idea, too bad it didn't catch on.)

San Marco Rolls Titano saddle.

I have a 39x14 on American Classic hubs laced to Matrix rims now. I normally ride a 42x16 on my fixed gear bikes, but I'm getting older and don't spin like I used to. My commute is pretty flat anyways.

I have a set of somewhat worn '92 Campy chorus hubs as well, but they need to be built into wheels. I think that will set the ensemble off nicely.

It's a great bike, and I'm glad I have it. A little piece of history, for sure...if you're into that sort of thing.