Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
These are better rolling over and through obstacles, larger contact patch for braking, turning and climbing and a more stable ride through loose terrain. My experience with 29" Gary Fisher bikes is that they are more forgiving and faster because they allow you to maintain momentum through the course. They are essentially 700c wheels with big knobby tires wrapped around them. I am not the fastest rider out there and have a tendency to pick really bad lines through the baby head rocks in Riverside State Park. But because I am riding a 29" wheel set I am not punished (other than verbally) as badly as I would be on smaller wheels. I just roll through it and hope to do better next lap.
There are a couple of myths that people like to toss about regarding 29" wheels that need to be busted. The first is that you have to be a "tall rider" to appreciate and utilize the larger wheel. Tell that to Emily Batty who at 5'2" just smoked her competition in the Sea Otter Classic on a Trek/Fisher 29er and not by just a little bit. The geometry and handling of Trek/Fisher 29' bikes benefit all riders at all levels period.
The second myth relates to greater rotating mass at the outer diameter, so they they are harder to turn, slower to accelerate in sprints, out of turns and up hills. The physics don't lie, there is greater rotating mass, but Trek/Fisher have compensated for any associated issues with very innovative frame and shock combinations. On the flip side, greater rotating mass is less susceptible to deflections and decelerations so it still enables it to be a faster bike since you can carry more speed over the entire course on average.
Physics aside, the only way to validate these claims is by riding bikes with of each wheel size on the same course on the same day. Trek Factory Demo Day provides this very opportunity on May 20 and 21 at the airstrip in Riverside State Park. As a bonus, the 24 Hour course will be marked that weekend for those who want to get a few practice laps. Stop by the shop for more details.
In the meantime, the debate rages.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
On my way to the Start/Finish area, I looked down into Little Vietnam and saw that the singletrack by the river has extensive standing water. I also saw one of the Rangers' signs saying that the area's closed until the water goes down. So I suggest bypassing Little Vietnam for now, whether you see a Trail Closed sign or not (evidently people are tearing them down)... just cruise downriver on the Centennial Trail and jump onto the inner loop from there.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Two Wheel Transit is equally enthusiastic and has entered a team in the 10 Person Corporate Division. The team is still in the formative stage, but we can say that there will be some familiar names and some really fast riders along with some not so fast. We have 4 confirmed riders at this point and will announce the entire team at once so stay tuned. There is at least one rider that has a very cool and inspirational back story that will be covered. as well.
While the 24 Hour Race is an awesome event, we also want to encourage people to ride the Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race Series this year. This is a much shorter race and also takes place in Riverside State Park, you guessed it, every Wednesday night beginning May 18 this year. We will also be sponsoring entries in the series and know it will be fun and fast if last year was any indication. The races are set-up on a different course each week and just a lot of fun. You can show up the evening of the race and register on the spot since it is so well organized.
Regardless of the venue, the Park has a lot to offer and provides some of the best riding in the area so be sure to check it out this year if you have not already.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Last Saturday I rode another course from the Inland Road Race Series: the Cheney-Rock Lake course. If you've ever ridden the Twilight Series' Williams Lake course, this course shares the same beginning and ending. The Palouse's combination of rollers and wind, plus the 73-mile distance in June weather, will make for some serious racing. I think I used the word "epic" four or five times during the ride :)
Cheney's in the upper-right corner in this view
If you're going to race this one, put in your training hours and be familiar with the course. I particularly recommend learning the Mullinix Road segment well, so you know how far you are from the finish line... the one time I raced Williams Lake, I totally flubbed this.
My camera ran out of memory before we were done with the course, but here are some clips from the first ~50 miles.
It turned out to be a fast ride and I kept thinking I had somehow stumbled into a road race for which I was woefully unprepared. This ride clearly violating our No-Drop Policy but since I was the one getting dropped it seemed acceptable.
Regardless of the conditions it was still good ride and everyone appeared to enjoy themselves. It was also an interesting night because of several firsts that occurred - each with their own back story.
First time we had road bikes, tri bikes and mountain bikes all on the same ride. The tri bikes were allowed because they were buying after-ride pizza. The mountain bikes were allowed because they are good to draft behind. They were only along for part of the ride since Tom was showing the 24 hour course to a customer who is racing it for the first time this year. The sad truth is both these guys are fast and the folks on the road and tri bikes were all just trying to hold the wheel on one of the mountain bikes. We had to fend for ourselves once they turned-off into the dirt just before 7 mile bridge.
First time the new Team Two Wheel jerseys made their public appearance. These jerseys are sharp and very classic at the same time. Unfortunately, they were buried under about 15 layers to ward-off hypothermia. The other sponsors are represented at various points and logos tastefully displayed. These beauties will be on sale in the shop soon - so stay tuned.
First time there was pizza sponsored by another organization. Everyone seems to know that pizza is provided by the shop on the first ride of each month. But now we have a bonus night 2 weeks later sponsored by Summit Ridge Christian Fellowship. If it seems to be getting too complicated trying to remember which Thursday comes with pizza (which the GU Cycling Club members have refined to an art) just show up and there will be pizza on about 50% of the rides. I was worried that there may be too much pizza for the number of riders, but the two GU riders quickly dispelled any concern of excess pizza for the night.
Thank you again to all who came to ride and to srcf.org for sponsoring the pizza.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I found a rare patch of sun this past weekend. And like my dog in our living room, it seemed like a good place to stretch for a while until the next thing happened. That thing, in my case, was waiting for a couple of teammates to join for a Sunday ride.
Rides come in many forms. There are days when my teammates’ faces tell me they’re ready to try and rip the cranks from their bikes. Other days they’re steeling themselves for a multi-hour slog of an endurance ride. This day though, it was clear there was a different agenda. It was obvious from everyone’s faces and lazy body language we were headed for a chinwag.
All three of us did relatively hard rides the day before. So rolling along the bike path heading out of town we waited for our muscles to warm. Yes, the sun was out, but the air was cold. A jogger here, a stroller there. All excuses to keep the intensity low and the speed reasonable.
Rather than the usual warm-up followed by intense efforts and an occasional story during a lull, today was about catching up. We talked about work, about our wives, about life in a down economy. We discussed politics, but Rider 3 wasn’t with us, and it’s just not the same talking about the turkeys without him. So we moved onto tales of racing when we were younger, of hazing new teammates. I shared the crazy story of a mechanic that worked for one of my teams who was frustrated, because his real dream was to be a porn star (seriously).
Rounding the bend into a headwind we started the climb. The speed stayed the same so conversation died down. Another few turns though and we picked up the dialogue, this time comparing notes on Amstel Gold, recent books we’ve read and houses. The road dipped and turned with our conversation.
Finally I looked over my shoulder, gave a nod to the boys and made the right-hand turn onto the road I live on. The others went their own way, two friends out for a final few miles before heading home. A training ride so much like every other.
Something tells me though that at some point in my life, I’ll look back on days like this as anything but mundane.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Earlier this week I noticed a young couple sipping coffee and browsing the shop. I knew I had not seen them before, so struck-up a conversation. They were not looking for anything in particular, and seemed content to just soak-in the ambiance and learn what Two Wheel Transit was all about. They asked about the history of the shop and wanted to know more about the local cycling scene and community.
It turns-out they are from Baltimore and have been considering a move to the northwest both for what it does and does not have in comparison to home. She was interviewing for a job here and they decided to stay a few extra days for exploration. He went in search of single-track and put in on trail 25 at 7 mile in Riverside State Park. He was amazed that he could keep riding for 3 hours and not even come close to riding all that the park has to offer. We discussed the 24 hour race coming up there next month and they began to get a sense of how bikey this town is.
Living and riding here it is easy to focus on what is wrong - complete streets (lack of), unconnected infrastructure, intolerant drivers, etc. What was cool as we talked more was hearing their perspectives of our area and how easy it would be to bike to work and cover the city from end-to-end by bicycle. This would be unthinkable where they live in terms of size, safety, traffic along with other big city issues. Both were amazed that there is a vast network of skinny trails on the High Drive Bluff that we use for recreation and commuting. Finally, they also liked that we have so many inclusive bike-related events like Spokefest, Loreen Miller, Bike to Work Week and our shop ride to name a few.
So next time we get frustrated or annoyed at what we feel is slow progress or a missed opportunity to improve the cycling experience in our area, remember that from the outside looking in Spokane is a pretty cool place for bikes.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Many believe it involves riding many miles, planning routes, charging lights and batteries, lubing chains, tightening fenders, patching holes in bags and clothing - almost as if getting ready for a high altitude assault on a major mountain. Yes, that is a good start, but you still will not be ready for the week without the most important piece.
What else is there you ask? It is all mental - you must prepare yourself mentally for crappy weather - there, I said it. If you do not, no amount of clothes, tuning or riding will get you out the door and bike commuting that week. As we saw yesterday with spring's cute little display of snow, anything is possible. As my friend Rob used to say "If you expect the worst, you are never disappointed." We must prepare our minds for the possibility of rain, sleet, wind, more wind and yes snow. I have seen it snow like crazy in early June, so don't laugh.
Then and only then are we ready to be true bike to work weekers. Should the morning of the 16th dawn with drizzle and low overcast, we will be ready to drag ourselves out the door and the pancakes and coffee at the kick-off breakfast will be even more satisfying. It is all about having what it takes to start the ride - this is always the hardest part.
If it breaks clear and warm, then we will be ready for that too. Regardless, it will be a great week and remind us of why we live here and help engage others in something we love. Anything less than a blizzard will be a welcome addition to the joy and camaraderie the week promises. Now, if I can just remember where I put my balaclava and ski socks.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Here is my mini-recap of each time: First time - decent condition and good ride. Finished at the old Jantzen Beach area and got in the car almost immediately afterwards for a car ride back to Seattle. I got some cramps on the car, which didn't have seats that reclined.
Second time - No where near enough training so this was a very tough day. After being ditched by the person who convinced me to ride with him I rode along with his other friend who had arrived from Greece early in the morning of the ride. We limped in feeling abused.
Third time - I trained with four Spokanites and we used the STP suggested mileage charts, thinking this would make us "prepared", which it did. One dropped out with a medical issue, so four of us made it to the start. I waited for a west-side friend with the plan to draft behind two tandem bikes. They showed up WAY late and had mechanical issues that stopped them at the first rest stop about mile 24. At that point I went on a very inadvisable ITT (individual time trial) to catch up to my Spokane friends. I caught them at mile 100, as I was pulling into the rest stop they were ready to pull out. I was completely 100% toasted and it was obvious that it was really, really stupid to go all out for 75 miles to catch up. Thankfully legendary local attorney RS, Jr was willing to slow down for me to recover a bit. I then got a serious bonk about the 150+ mile mark, which was also around the time we hit 20-30 mph headwinds/gusts. I was in a group of about 5 and was thankful for the draft each one offered as I suffered my way into town. We finished in decent time overall, but I was left feeling as if I hadn't really done it right yet.
Fourth time - This one was damn near perfect. I trained and rode with a seriously smart and good rider (Rider One). We pulled up to the start line about 15-20 minutes after the official "start" for one-day riders. As a result, we spent the whole day thinking there was a fast group ahead and we should just jump up to the next group and then ride along with those folks. We had a fast day, but the rest stop about mile 175 had food that wasn't good, energy drink mixed wrong and nothing satisfying. We headed out and stopped at a mini-mart about 5 miles later, luxuriating in the air conditioning on a warm day and watching riders go by. With a "what the hell, let's get this over" we headed back out and finished 10 hours after we rolled out of the UW start. As we rode into the finish area, a woman handed me the finish patch and medal and said "23". I said, "what?" and she said "23!". After an "excuse me?" she explained that I was the 23rd finisher, with Rider One 22nd. We realized later that we had watched about a dozen people ride by while we sat in the mini-mart. We had no idea whatsoever that we were finishing so quickly and could have hit top 10-15 easily by just riding along. We did, however, feel like we had done it "right" and I can now rest on my laurels for the next 20 years or so.
I wish well all of the 10,000 people who will line up for STP this year and don't envy the 2,300-2,500 who will ride the whole 204 miles in one-day. Probably better to split it into two days and have a bottle of wine to celebrate each one. Maybe that's how I will do it next time.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
This week's shop ride had light turnout, maybe due to the uncertain weather forecast. Two members of Gonzaga University's road-racing team dropped by, and we did the usual route until we reached the top of Doomsday Hill, at which point we headed home instead of back to Two Wheel Transit. I had my helmet cam along, so here's some video for those who like such things:
The first bonus video is mountain biking from this week's TNR (Tuesday Night Ride) with Spokane Rocket Velo, and it's a little long because it shows the whole Tour de Moon, a very rocky trail beyond Deep Creek.
The second video's from the TNR before that, where Craig hit two very large jumps while the rest of us illuminated them with our lights.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Both had several things on their side that helped keep the incidents from being catastrophic - they were both wearing appropriate helmets, they quickly received world class medical attention and they were with people who knew them and could provide information that they were unable to provide.
How many times have you found a brief window of time to get out on your bike only to find you misplaced your wallet or simply do not want to bother carrying it in a jersey pocket? Or thought, "I am riding with others who know me and it is just a few blocks until we meet up?" The problem is that cycling accidents can happen quickly and many involve impact to the head which leave the rider either unconscious or too dazed to provide first responders with information when time is of the essence. At that point, the rider is simply Jane or John Doe to people trying to render aid.
Road ID. For about $20 you can have a comfortable bracelet, dog tag, shoe pouch or anklet with laser-etched information with your name, and name and contact information of family and friends that need to be contacted in the event of emergency. Regardless of the form factor you choose, all Road ID products are comfortable and well made products that do not interfere with daily or athletic activities.
There are many moving testimonials on the Road ID site that validate the value of having identity information on your person in the event of an accident so go online and check them out for yourself. If you are not sure which form is right for you, stop in the shop and check-out the samples display on the front counter - we even have coupons for free shipping.
With such a great product, there is no reason to have an identity crisis. Ride safely.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Before beginning this story I should first acknowledge and thank those who caused the long-since buried memories to resurface. During last Thursday's Shop ride, Dismount Dave brought up a story that happened to me nearly twenty years ago. It actually happened twenty years ago last month. Though some or most of the details have been obscured by time, the foundation of the tale remains intact. It is my belief that Tailgunner, or whatever your preferred name for him may be, is responsible for Dismount's sudden recollection of a story told so long ago. If you are a dedicated Two Wheel blog reader, surely you will piece together this chain of events that all began with Stephen Roche's victory in the 1987 World Championship Road Race.
After arriving in Montataire, I had a week or so to prepare for my first race, which was a criterium put on by the club that I was riding for. The house I was to live in for the next half year was owned and inhabited by the club president and his half crazy, or maybe just French, wife Lucy, although Lulu was what she preferred to be called but only by those whose company she really enjoyed.
The day before the race, Robert (Lulu's husband) left on business for the next day's race. As soon as Robert drove away, Lulu wasted no time in inviting me into the living room to watch a cycling video. She had seen her husband hounding me for the last week about how to train, how to race, how I knew nothing about any of it, and most importantly, how he knew and had done it all. Upon entering the living room I noticed another woman, who until Dismount's retelling last Thursday, I would have left out of the story. Still, I cannot for the life of me remember who she was, or where she came from. I think she may have been a neighbor who I never saw again, but in any case she must have been in her seventies, but she had the look of someone more like her nineties. Both she and Lulu were chain smoking, and I was willing to bet that neither had ever been a bike racer, which is too bad since they were about to give me a two hour clinic on how to win a bike race.
The full version of the video that Tailgunner posted about a few weeks back was already playing. There was only about an hour left in the race where Roche would claim his World title, and I was allowed watch the video in peace. Well, in relative peace since I was inhaling a constant cloud of smoke that plagues me to this day with chronic bronchitis. The peace lasted until Roche crossed the line, but only until then. The next hour was spent with replay after replay, finger pointing, and raised voices as these two women "explained" to me everything I should know about bike racing. But couldn’t they understand that I didn’t speak French, and just give it a rest? This was humiliating, but nothing like race day would be.
I had been told to attack when ever it rained, but not by Lulu or her friend. The French hate the rain. On race day it rained and it was a criterium. The course had corners, slippery paint stripes, and railroad tracks. It was going to be wet, dangerous, and miserable, and I was pleased.
With 200 meters to go on his last lap, Christophe Letudier attacked fiercely and I clamped on his wheel and would not budge until overtaking him after the line. I watched him celebrate with his arms raised and possibly only his tippy toes remaining on the pedals. His face had an expression of euphoria, that is, until he heard the bell sound to signify one lap to go. Yes, he had celebrated one lap too early.
I quickly let eight to ten riders overtake me, but no more than that. With four to five hundred meters to go I jumped with all I had. I hopped the railroad tracks, risked it all through two more corners and sprinted across the line, never daring to raise hands in victory after what happened to Letudier. On the cool down lap I had two great concerns, stay fifty meters ahead of everyone until crossing the line again just in case, and how was I going to face Lulu when she claimed the win for herself since she had taught me how to do all that the day before.
Facing her was the single most pride swallowing, humbling, and humiliating event I had experienced up to that point in my eighteen years of life. But then again the choice was easy, I had to endure, I relied on her for food, and I was famished.
Friday, April 8, 2011
About 20 or so hearty souls showed for the second shop ride of the year this evening. The ride conditions were surprisingly dry though the temperature dropped continuously throughout the ride. We even had a couple of triathletes on tri bikes come blowing-in late and then disrupt the flow of the ride with all of their aero antics, but they were reasonably well tolerated by the peloton.
Interestingly enough, the roads were wet just as we turned-off of Government Way and must have just missed some significant precipitation. Though there were quite a few rooster tails and back-stripes there were no complaints from the group. Tom stopped to render pneumatic assistance to JS who was then kind enough not to completely demoralize us the remainder of the ride.
The final regrouping point was the top of Doomsday Hill before the final roll back to the shop. Thankfully, Tomás had stayed behind to attend to a couple of final customers and ensure that hot pizza would arrive shortly. There was still plenty of light when we returned which served to reveal almost universal smiles as the group dismounted and visited.
Thanks to everyone who attended and to Team Two Wheel members Lynn, Gage, Paul, Tom, Scott and Taylor. The team is very attentive and does a great job of ensuring everyone has someone to ride with. Hope to see everyone back next week.
mechBgon adds: here's some video from the ride. And tangentially, check out the resource usage involved in high-def video editing (pic below)... it's not a coincidence that my home computer is packing 16GB of RAM and one of the latest quad-core processors (Core i5 Sandy Bridge with 3.7GHz turbo mode).
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
When Scooter and I were junior racers we had some crazy tights and I've been asked to do a blog post about them. Hopefully you can tell by the picture what they looked like. The picture is me and the tights [Ed. Note - Racing in Volunteer Park about 1988]. If you can't tell, are black with turquoise polka dots. Hopefully Scooter can come up with a better picture of his because they make mine look normal.
Here are the facts. .
Fact. We rode during the winter.
Fact. We had a need for tights.
Fact. There wasn't a lot in the way of funds to buy cycling gear for Scooter and me when we were younger.
Fact. My dad was handy with a needle and thread.
Fact. We were urged to choose the material for our tights out of the misfit-bastard-discount-bin at the fabric store.
Fact. I choose the closest thing I could find to all black tights.
Fact. Scooter wasn't so lucky.
Fact. I still thought they were awesome even though some others didn't at the time. [Ed. Note - We think they are awesome NOW, but for all the wrong reasons.]
Fact. Scooter still raced with his into his pro-circuit racing days.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Another area called Little Vietnam for its jungle-like appearance is completely underwater for further than I wished to portage my bike. Judging from the rate of water flow we may have newly exposed rocks to contend with in addition to new terrain features when it drains. But at any rate it should be a long time before it is able to be ridden.
Maybe it is lack of practice, but it appears that Devil's Up and Devil's Down have eroded more this winter to make them rockier and more technical (which is to justify my crash over the left embankment when I stalled at the top of Devil's Up). The Rock Gardens appear rockier if that is possible.
Regardless of new challenges or old ones rediscovered it was great to be outside riding and bouncing through Riverside Park.
This issue has been solved with the introduction of Endurolyte Fizz.
Now in tablet form they come in a tube in flavors like mango, and grapefruit and fizz like Alka-seltzer when dropped into water. They do not contain any carbs and are very light tasting. Once in the bottle, the athlete gets a dose of buffered electrolytes with each sip so you do not need to remember when you last took a capsule.
Since I tend to cramp-up more mountain biking than on the road, I have been testing them this spring with good results. At $6.50 per tube, they run you about $.50 per serving which is about 1/2 the price of a gel pack.
Monday, April 4, 2011
There is rumor floating around of Two Wheel Transit's amazing mechanic, Tom McFadden, of helping one racer being sure to get to the course with a bike intact and it is undoubtedly a story of triumph and remarkable customer (and even non-regular customer) service.
So the story I got wind of went something like this . . .
A Seattle racer came into town at least a day early to have time to ride the course. During this ride her right-side Campagnolo shifter blew up. Well, maybe not literally blew up, but I did hear that it was literally ejecting parts. Anyone with even a small amount of mechanical knowledge will know immediately that this is not a good sign and apparently this racer recognized it as such.
Not sure what to do, and not knowing of any of the bike shops around town, she got a hold of a former Two Wheel Transit mechanic named Willie. Anyone familiar with the shop will know who Willie is and will join me in being sorry that he decided that this side of the state was too dry and headed to Seattle. If he had known about the rainfall coming this year, maybe we could have kept him over here, but in any case I digress. So said Seattle racer gets in touch with Willie late Friday night to seek assistance after all the local shops are closed.
As a last ditch attempt to get help, Willie sends an urgent email to Tom to see if he can help. Tom, being Tom, is heading to bed about about midnight after a long week at work and training and decides to check email before going to sleep. Maybe not so good for Tom, but excellent for the shifter-less Seattle racer. Seeing Willie's e-mail and being the kind of guy Tom is, he responds and gets an e-mail contact for the Seattle racer. Betwixt and between, Tom get enough information via email to diagnose the issue (side note - Is there a current Campy service release for exploding shifters?) and agrees to meet the racer at Two Wheel Transit. Tom, being Tom and not having a car, rides his bike across town at 12:30 am and proceeds to rebuild the shifter at the shop.
This alone is extraordinary for approximately nine reasons, but then in what has to be the best deal ever received on emergency midnight bike mechanicing, Tom charges her the normal shop rate and gives her a bill for $37. Having done his work and having sent the slightly less distressed but undoubtedly tired racer on her way, Tom closed up the shop, rode his bike back across town and went back to bed.
The next morning, however, shop owner Geoff shows up at work to find a transaction on the cash register after he closed up the shop the night before, which was puzzling until he then also received an e-mail of thanks from the previously frantic racer explaining the situation and expressing her gratitude for the midnight mechanic.
I, personally, don't know who the woman was, or how her race turned out. What I do know is that we are lucky to have a guy like Tom hanging around the basement of Two Wheel Transit doing highly competent and thoughtful work and also being the kind of guy who meets someone at the shop at midnight to save her weekend of racing. Having had Tom save one race for me literally in the middle of the race, I know this isn't a one-off deal for the guy. And while he dislikes recognition as much as I dislike seeing my picture on the internet, once in a while you just have to accept the well-deserved accolades.
Tom - All of us salute you!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
For a first ride, that was a good turnout. Check out those sharp kits on the Gonzaga Cycling team (we have some Gonzaga jerseys for sale too, I believe).