Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race Series #7 (First Report)

Finally made it out for a Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race tonight.  Just a few random thoughts before mechBgon posts the official report from the front of the 2 Lap Division.  It was great to see 91 racers turn-out for this final event which is a testament to the organization and popularity of this series. 

mechBgon won the series again for the second year in a row.  Nice work for what appeared to have been a very competitive field this year.  I got to see him receive his trophy and prizes though without any fanfare or hoopla as is characteristic of this amazing guy.

Two Wheel Transit was represented by Matt, Mitchell, Taylor, Tom and me tonight - thanks guys for coming-out, giving it your all and representing the shop in a positive manner.  The shop jerseys are instantly recognized and really pop in comparison to others out there.  At one point I was still outbound on the 2nd lap and caught a flash of Tom across the woods but had no trouble identifying him because of the jersey. 

Several people mentioned how much they appreciated the videos of the races posted by mechBgon.  I know these take hours of editing and final production on his part.  Just want to thank him in writing for going above and beyond for the benefit of others.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Five favorites.

I like bikes. No, I love bikes, riding, racing and most of all cycling culture. As such I've been known to troll a series of different blogs. Some I read regularly, some quite infrequently. But I'd like to share some of my favorites.

Red Kite Prayer. Not only a blog with a fantastic name--a red kite traditionally marks 1 kilometer to go in a race--but well written blog too. They wrote a piece on frame pumps the other day that I absolutely loved.

Boulder Report. Many moons ago I knew the writer of this blog a bit, but it was so long ago this almost doesn't count. Anyway, this blog alone upstages pretty much everything else Bicycling magazine cranks out. Great insight, crisp writing and a strong point of view.

The Inner Ring. If you're tired of the over-hyped yet somehow under-reported world of cycling "journalism," you might like this blog. I do, anyway.

Mud and Cowbells. To be clear, I'm not a cross racer, but the author clearly is. Cross racers are a puzzling breed that I somehow relate to, even if one too many knee surgeries keep me from running. Anyway, this blog gets the tone right for those cyclists that, more than anything, love the taste of their own blood and vomit. (If you've raced cross you know of what I write.)

Competitive Cyclist. OK, this is written by an over-priced mail order retailer, but their blog (which typically has little to do with products they sell) is fantastic. They don't pull many punches about the state of the bike industry and as a result my guess is have occasionally have found themselves in hot water with suppliers. Anyway, it's smart writing and offers great insight into their business and perspective on riding and racing. Thought leadership at its finest.

All this said I'm always on the hunt for new reading material. Any others to share?

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 23 Shop Ride from a Different Perspective

"Whenever there's more than one bike, its a race...and sometimes it only takes one."   Matt Franzen

Some times people who show up for the Thursday shop ride loose heart when they see all the bright jerseys and nice bikes and slink back to their cars, not wanting to ruin everyone's fun. Just before we left this week, I saw one rider slip away like that and I was sad.  Another we managed to  coax to stay and ride. "How fast are you guy's going to go?, she asked.  The unwilling leader this week, I answered "recovery pace", ( too proud to reveal that I usually average 15 mph)  and explained that we regroup several times along the route.  

She replied "You guys go and have a nice ride, I'll come back another week"  Just when I ran out of ideas, a couple of the other guys piped up with "the regrouping is our favorite part!" and saved the situation for me. Off we went, finding that there was really no need to wait and regroup. Along the route, after the traffic light at the college, when we all happened to be following her, the usual suspect coming the other way in the usual 4 x 4 pickup with canopy and extra cab blurted out "You guys are getting your ass kicked by a girl!" Rough justice. 

The only other car incident occured when I should have been more attentive to the safety of the group instead of chatting. One of the other riders noticed that we were holding up a motorist. I felt reprieved when I discovered it was a Prius, and thus was making no sound whatsoever.  How often do you go on a group ride and share conversation other than "Car back." or "Glass"? Last week I was the "Weak Sister" and felt conflicted about going but I went because I saw a chance to ride with someone I have long known only as a customer.

 I enjoyed a wonderful conversation, getting to know a guy that I had yet to ride with after many years of working on his bikes. This week I overheard some riders behind me doing the same. That's what it's all about, my friends. That's why we ride every Thursday.

Dave Mannino

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday-night XC race #6 of 7

Last Wednesday was the sixth of the seven-race Wednesday-night series out at Riverside State Park. As you all know, the weather was quite warm on Wednesday, which encouraged an excellent turnout. I got there very early, pre-rode the course (and measured the distance for Gino), and still had time to burn.

Riding in the heat made everything tougher. The course was diverse, featuring most of the rock gardens from the 24-hour course, as well as about 900ft elevation gain per lap, and finished with a singletrack climb up Boat Hill, followed by a 35-40mph doubletrack descent leading down to the Start/Finish area (if you watched last week's video, it's last week's first section in reverse). The competition turned out to be quite tough as well, and it was great fun seeing how it was all going to end up. The video below gives a blow-by-blow account; if I do this next year, I'll make sure to get a second camera to capture the rear view.

Next week's the final race of this year's series. If you've ever wanted to try a mountain-bike race, give it a try. Don't let the video intimidate you, that's just the front-line action... there's people having a super-fun race all up & down the ranks. Hope to see you out there! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mayberry RFD

Those of you old enough to remember watching Andy Griffith show reruns on TV during the day when you stayed home sick from school will know what I am talking about when I say last night's Spokane Summer Parkways was like being in Mayberry.  Absent Barney Fife asking Andy whether he should get "the bullet" to defend against some dangerous threat.  (As a policeman, Barney had to carry a gun but was made to do so without any bullets due to his excitability.)

The Summer Parkways event on the south hill last night reminded me of the idyllic setting of the show called Mayberry RFD.  The pace of life was slower, things were simple and everyone always had time to stop and visit with neighbors.  People did not rush home from stressful jobs, close the garage door and hang-out on Facebook.

I saw people enjoying the lovely summer evening walking, skating, cycling and stopping to engage in unhurried and light conversation.  Smiles were everywhere. The event which covered a loop from Manito to Comstock Parks and back engaged people with their neighbors and neighborhoods.  Hats-off to the organizers, volunteers and civic leaders who made this event happen.  We were fortunate to have been a part of it as the sponsors of the bike decorating celebration.  Here are some of the efforts we saw last night.

Well done Spokane.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Parkways Tonight

We are pleased to be a part of the Spokane Summer Parkways event tonight from 6 - 9 pm on the south hill.  The route runs from Manito Park to Comstock Park and back again.  There will be all kinds of cool things to do and see along the route so come out on bikes, skates or unicycle and join the fun.

Two Wheel Transit is sponsoring the bike decorating celebration for those funky, fun original creations that are rolling on two wheels.  We will be located at Comstock Park with our green pop-up and handing out gifts to cyclists on their decorated bikes.

Support this great event and have fun.  It will also be a great night to stop by fellow sponsor of Team Two Wheel, The Scoop on 1001 W 25th for some great ice cream.

We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nice Work!

It is not often we feel like complementing the City and various road construction companies, but credit needs to be given to both for the work that is wrapping-up on South Hatch and 57th.  In this case both for the design of the project and the speed of completion.

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of the construction in progress from Hatch to 57th in Bike to Work Commute - Road Less Traveled.  Since that time the first phase has been completed and the second appears to be very near.  The new section has a real turn lane, real shoulder and real bike lanes - all on baby bottom smooth asphalt.  The traffic routing was conducted with only slight disruption to local residents and businesses.  Here is what it looked like on June 20th.

If you look closely in the upper right portion of the photo, you can see the continuation of the bike lane on the second phase.  Those that have ridden this section of road know first hand how treacherous the lack of turn lane, shoulder, unbroken asphalt and paint made this for bikes.  Now it almost looks inviting.

We can't say the same for Manito Boulevard from 37th to High Drive though on Monday they were beginning to roll asphalt.  In all fairness, this was a much more extensive replacement of utilities and not just widening and repaving.

We expect that both motorists and cyclists will appreciate the improvements and safety afforded to both in this project.  Nice Work!

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 16 Shop Ride Report

Our second pizza shop ride in June was under the threat of rain, but fenders were not needed.  The small group departed with cloudy skies and an air temperature of 54 degrees.  We had a few sprinkles along the way but remained comfortable the entire ride.  Miss Clairol commented  with disgust that she had now washed, stored and retrieved her winter riding gear 3 times this spring.

As we rolled out with Miss C and a bunch of male riders, she stated that the pack should be "nice to the girl" but I suspect she was referring to me.  Because of the small group, the pace averaged about 18 mph though some of the riders were capable of much more.  We welcomed a rider who had not ridden with us before and enjoyed his company along the way - we hope he can make it out more this summer.

Tomas did a great job of managing the pizza sponsored by Summit Ridge Christian Fellowship.  Two hot pies were being delivered just as we hit Cedar and 1st - Swiss precision in the form of pizza.  They were finished quickly and everyone headed for home.

Thanks to all who rode with us.  See you again soon.

Wednesday-night race series #5!

Up until Tuesday, the weather outlook for the fifth of seven Wednesday-night XC races looked promising. Then the forecast began calling for rain showers instead. I was hoping for good weather and a good turnout this week in particular, since it was Two Wheel Transit's night to sponsor the race and we'd put a lot of effort into our schwag bundle.

Sure enough, there was rain as predicted, and only about 50 racers this week. Well, that means more schwag for them, right? Pro tip: always come to Two Wheel Transit's race. ;) Incidentally, if you haven't been to the Wednesday-night races, one of the awesome things about them is that the schwag is given away by random drawing, not by how well you placed. And you get to pick your prize from whatever hasn't been given away yet!

I rode out to Riverside in intermittent rain, with time for a full course pre-ride, and was intrigued by the first section of the course. I liked it! The first bottleneck was about 1/2 mile in, after a steady ascent that had some passing opportunities, but also some sections with just one good line, so any passing on the ascent would need to be done decisively. At 1/2 mile, racers funneled into a fast singletrack descent, connected with the 24-hour course, climbed 5-Minute Hill and Devil's Up, descended Devil's Down, and then hung left and came down The Spine.

My own race went OK, weather notwithstanding, and since JT wasn't there for this race, I've now sneaked into 1st place overall in the series for the Two-Lapper Men category. Here's my video summary below, if you're into these:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ride Creature Feature

One of the cool things about riding here in the NW is the variety of rides and wildlife you encounter on a bike.  Not just mountain biking but also road riding.  I was reminded of this just as I was nearing the Hangman Golf Course this morning.

I saw what looked like a great big earthworm on the road and thought that I recognized the pattern of a particular snake.  After a quick U-turn I confirmed that it was indeed a snake that had the misfortune of being hit by a car.  Normally, common snakes such as garter, bull and gopher will sun themselves on the road that winds through the Hangman Valley.  You have to keep an eye out for them when riding or driving so as not to hit them.  I always stop and encourage them back into the brush with whatever is handy.  Usually, a squirt or two from the water bottle is all the encouragement they need to head to safer ground.

Today, the pattern was anything but common and the small snake was mocha brown with smooth shiny skin - classic Rubber Boa (Charina bottae).  In the 20 years I have lived in this area, I have never seen a Rubber Boa on Hangman Valley Road until today. They are only one of two species of Boas that live in the US.  They get their common name from the fact that they look like they are made from natural rubber.  (I swear I am not making this up)  

Photo by Ryan Hoyer:
I first became acquainted with this snake about 7 years ago when riding a dirt road in a remote area toward Spangle and stopped to investigate this odd looking snake sunning itself on the road.  It was very different because it looked like it had a head at each end of its body, though one without eyes.  Turns out the snake lives near damp areas in the west and feeds on baby mice.  It uses the fake head on its tail to do a mock strike during feeding to ward off defensive parents while feasting on their offspring.  I was enthralled to say the least.

I learned they also like being handled by warm blooded humans and are quite calm and docile as a result.  They will wrap around your hand and just hang-out for the warmth.  I brought one home for the kids to learn from and we even took measurements and photos to send to Ryan Hoyer who has dedicated a site to research at  

I really had not thought much about these cool little snakes until this morning and wondered how they had made it this far downstream and so near my house.  I had to wonder if the deceased was the offspring of one I had brought home for viewing years ago.  I had made a cool temporary habitat for it to live in for a couple of days and returned home to find that my tender-heart wife had let it go into the "wild" rather than letting me return it the several miles to its natural habitat.  The wild in this case was some brush at the edge of our development which turns-out to be about 100 yards from the snake on the road.   Coincidence, maybe. 

Regardless, I root for these little guys as they are slow and seem like easy prey to predators and cars alike.  I will be on the lookout for more this summer and hope other riders will too.  


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race Series #5

Two Wheel Transit will be the sponsor of this week's Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race Series at Riverside State Park.  We are gathering lots of good schwag so no one goes home empty-handed.  Weather looks to be conducive to racing so come-out and join us tomorrow night.

More information at:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Joy Ride

The weather broke cool and clear the other morning so I took off for a solo spin on the Hangman Valley loop.  As I rolled my bike out of the driveway it was apparent that my battery in the computer had given-up; kaput.  I had little time so I decided to tough it out without my digital companion.

There was no wind for a change and I spied a rider up ahead on the Baltimore grade so the effort went up a notch or two.  Without the computer, all I had to judge my effort was my breathing and how my legs felt.  I had not ridden for a few days and the legs felt remarkably fresh.  None of that heaviness I often experience.

Nothing to look at on the bars so I took in the sights and marveled and how quickly the surrounding Palouse was turning green and lush.  So often when riding solo I think about maintaining a certain speed on each section regardless of how I feel that day.  Not this day, I rode comfortably and enjoyed being out on two wheels on a clear day - just pedaling for the joy of it.

I saw people I knew out and even chatted with a couple for a mile or so - adding to the joy.  I returned home from the ride refreshed and optimistic about the day ahead.

I think from now-on I will remove the computer once a week just to remind myself to take the occasional joy ride.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh to be 25 again.

Geoff emailed me the other day suggesting a post on riding wider tires. He called me a "local evangelist for 25c tires." He may be exaggerating a bit. Or not.
In fact I wrote about these once a long time ago, so thought I'd revisit the thinking.
Ahh. 25. Such a good time.

No, I'm not reminiscing about being 25 years old, although that was fun too. Instead, I'll share some thoughts about something I think more riders should tap into.

Back in the day, as in the day that I treated bikes like tools (cool tools!), when getting a flat on a group ride meant, more than likely, a solo ride chasing a group of fast riders, and I lived in Colorado where roads were covered in gravel, thorns, sand, etc., I trained exclusively on 28c tires. With steel beads. And Mr. Tuffy tire liners.

I hated getting flats. Plus, on chip sealed, cracked, mountain roads, they were simply a better tire. Those 28c Contis were cheap, handled well and were fundamentally more comfortable. Trust me on this, a couple of extra millimeters of tire width makes a huge difference.

Somewhere between then and now I changed my stand. Maybe it was getting older. Maybe it was riding less and finding myself struggling to keep up on certain climbs. Maybe it was convenience or the fact that I'm at a place in my life where buying an extra tire doesn't mean I can't make rent. Maybe all of these things. In any case, I had been riding 23c tires for years and was fine with it.

But about a year ago I changed my tune.

Ahead of that evil thing known as the Ronde van Palouse, I decided to slap on a set of 25c tires. In general, the slightly wider tires mean a bit more sidewall flex, which means fewer flat tires. A broader contact patch also means better handling and traction on dirt roads and washboard. In the race the tires were great. The bike was great. My body? Not so great. Let's put it nicely and say that my bike isn't what held me back.

OK, flash forward a couple of days and I was late (as usual) to get out for a ride, scrambling for daylight. So I tore off the weekend's race number and left for an hour of power. Climbing up the South Hill I was amazed at how good the bike felt. Comfortable. Stiff at the bottom bracket, yet vertically compliant! The marketing messages were all suddenly true!

In fact what happened is in my rush to get out the door, I hadn't switched the wheels on my bike. Which meant I was still running the fat rubber. And I'm not going back.

Seriously, you need to try this. Running 25c tires is entirely worth the non-penalty. Here's the math. The 25c tires I've been using (Bontrager RXLs) are a whopping ten grams heavier than their 23c counterparts. Ten grams. To put that into context, pick up six or seven paper clips. There's your ten grams.

But, you might argue, they're slower because of the added rolling resistance. No, actually they're not, at least not according to the pencil-pushers that examine stuff like this. This aligns with my own sense of things as well.

Handling? Again,noticeably better when cornering, on dirt roads, etc.

Comfort? This to me is the biggest win. So, so much better, especially on chip seal where there's high-frequency vibration, and on the cracks and ruts that define a lot of the riding in our region.

Finally, flat resistance. I don't like flats, but based on what I see on most weekend rides I frequent, I might be alone in this. I can just about guarantee that you'll get fewer flats with a wider tire. Why? Because you can run slightly higher pressure while also getting the benefits of more comfort and better handling. Also, the tire's casing flexes a bit more, allowing the tire to deform around sharp stones and such, vs. being punctured by them. This is a good thing.

So, my advice is to give fatter rubber a try. You'll be just as fast, get fewer flats and will be more comfortable. Most riders I know run through at least a couple of sets of training tires a year. Next time, test something new.

The good news is there is better availability than ever for wider, high-performance tires. Bontrager just came out with a new tire I'd like to try. The gang at Two Wheel Transit will, I'm sure, be happy to tell you all about them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday-night XC race #4

The fourth XC race of the Wednesday-night series had a very good turnout (83 riders, including five junior racers!), and we enjoyed nice partly-sunny conditions in the low 60s. I got there early enough to pre-ride the entire loop with Steve. The course was mostly open, so bottlenecks weren't much of a factor this week. For this race, I switched to a favorite non-tubeless tire of mine, the fat-but-light 2.2-inch Continental RaceKing Supersonic, and opted to use light 125-gram tubes... they're not as resistant to pinch flats, but this is a very easy-rolling, easy-accelerating combo that I've also used for fast times in the Midnight Century.

When I got back from my pre-ride, I noted several powerhouse riders, including U.S. singlespeed CX champion JT Fountain, as well as Mike Gaertner and Doug Krumpelman of Vertical Earth, so I knew how the script was going to go: I'd hang with the leaders for a while, then hit the wall and get dropped on a climb ;) We got started, everyone gradually strung out and found their racemates, and as expected, I was clinging to the wheels of JT, Mike and Doug through the first lap and part of the second. Unfortunately I let my bike go too wide in a corner and put it into the trees (see the video below), and couldn't quite bridge up afterwards, so it was a distant 4th place for me in the end.

Two Wheel Transit's the bike-shop sponsor next week, so let's hope for more good weather and another good turnout. See you out there!

Beginning Commuters

Was riding past an elementary school on Tuesday morning and was pleased to see so many kids bikes parked in the bike stands out front.  Seems like in recent years many parents will drive their kids to school even though they are within easy riding distance.  When we were kids growing-up a majority of us rode bikes to school, the store, friend's houses.  Does anyone remember riding to or from football practice with your face mask hung on the bars?

Many of us even rode to school through Jr. High, just to be able to leave at the last possible moment and make it on time.  Don't see that much any more - that is what made the bikes out front of the school so encouraging.  Perhaps the tide is turning.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As if Breathing is not Hard Enough

As I was riding home on the yellow Centennial trail, I was reminded quite poignantly that it was allergy season. Actually, since my wife suffers from allergies and I am a pediatrician, I have been aware of this since mid-March. The yellow ponderosa pine pollen, though always shows vividly how much pollen is around us. 

As cyclists, we are all itching (no pun intended) to get off the trainers and get outside to ride. But for those with seasonal allergies, this can be a very unpleasant experience. Watery, itchy eyes. Runny nose. Sneezing. Coughing. And for some difficulty breathing, as it can be a trigger for asthma.

There are some good options now for treatment. Over the counter antihistamines are the mainstay. The newer generation (Zyrtec, Claritin and their generic equivalents) tend to not be as sedating as the oldest standy, Benadryl. For itchy eyes, there are some better choices than Visine. Patanol is now over the counter and is quite effective without the stinging and burning of quite a few other over the counter eye drops. If the over the counter stuff is not enough, then (atleast for my patients) the next step is nasal steroids. 

No, these will not improve your strength, but they may improve your times because your nose is not constantly dripping. There are many brand names of these, Flonase, Nasonex, Omnaris, Rhinocort to name a few (who gets paid to make up these names?) These are only available through prescription so you will have to see your a health care provider. Of course, if you are still not able to get control of your symptoms, go back as there are many other options and it might even be useful to see an allergy specialist. Likewise, you should see a health care provider if you are having any difficulty breathing, coughing a lot while riding as you may have some form of asthma.

Follow the yellow dust road. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trek Demo Days - Madone 6 Series SSL

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of test riding a 2011 Madone Series 6 SSL with Race XXX Lite carbon fiber clincher wheels. When you read the phrase, "I had the pleasure of . . ." it is usually just being polite, but in this case, it really was a pleasure. In fact, it may have been just short of fantastic.

The Madone name started as the top of the line frameset at Trek. It has grown to include most of the road bike collection with a variety of numbers from 6.9 down to (I think) 1.2. Along the way you will start at steel frames and modest, price-point components. At the stratosphere, you will find the 6.9 SSL with Race XXX Lite wheels. And, not only at the stratosphere of the Trek line-up, but also just below some freakingly good riders, including the Radio Shack and Leopard (please pronounce this "Lay-o-pard)-Trek team. Pretty good company, no?

So what are they riding and why should you care? Because this bike is awesome, that is why. It is light in a way that frightens a big guy like me; it is stiff in a way that impresses and pleases a big guy like me; it handles in a way that is positive, linear and comfortable for anyone; and it is weirdly quick going uphill even for a big guy like me.

Two Wheel Transit Owner, and contract specialist, Geoff, was there for the Demo Days and made the comment that the bike helped him see the efficiency in his pedaling, or lack thereof. What he was referring to is the crazy light wheels on this bike that provide so little resistance to your pedaling action that it is easy to find the deadspot in your stroke. Think about moving a really heavy coffee table on carpet - you push and it moves. If, in contrast, you push a really light coffee table on a slick floor, you can easily exert enough force that you accidentally push it away so that it moves out of your hand and you have to move your quickly to catch back up. This wheelset on this bike is like that. You push the pedal and the bike immediately moves forward with no perceptible resistance except gravity. If you are on the flat, there isn't much and it is easy to squirt forward in the strong part of your stroke. On an uphill, you don't have that momentary lightness but you do have an oddly responsive and quick movement up a hill. So, think about that - that you have to pedal more smoothly because the bike is so light and responsive. Wow, what a problem to have.

The downside of light is usually that the object is not strong. Definitely not the case here. The bottom bracket has a rock-solid, no movement feel. I may not usually go uphill fast, but I can put out some watts (yes, for a limited and useless period), but it does mean that between some leg strength and weight, I can find the flexy or weak points in a ride. This bike exhibited no such characteristic. It was amazingly stiff and strong.

Similarly, the wheels, despite their light weight and lack of rolling resistance, seemed very stiff as well. Carbon absorbs vibration in a completely different way than other cycling materials, so that road chatter is smoothed, but it is also stiff in other directions, so while every bike claims to be "laterally stiff but vertically compliant" it is true in some instances. You aren't, however, looking for that in a wheelset. I once read a scientist type saying that riders can't really tell which wheels are more or less flexible directly, but they do easily communicate whether they feel "comfortable" going downhill at speed. Well, it turns out the more downhill comfort, the more stiff the wheels. In this case, I only got one reasonably fast descent, but there was no hesitation on my part from the wheels or frame, although this does raise the one issue that I noticed about this bike.

I noticed that as I turned at higher speeds, the frame slightly resisted going off of center before it leaned, then it leaned appropriately and in a smooth linear fashion, but then as soon as I started to come out of the lean, it seemed to come back to vertical very quickly - more quickly than I remember any other bike. This seems like it is an issue of some combination of rake or trail or some other metaphysical bike geometry property, but it could also be a size, stem, etc. combination that wasn't quite perfect for me (remember, this was a demo bike and "close" to my position). In any case, it wasn't bad, it was just different than other bikes. In thinking about it, it could also be the wheelset again. Did I comment on how light they are?

I think that Trek has always tried to balance the various attributes of bikes. They want strong and light and durable and comfortable. Some companies go just for one attribute - aero or light or stiff - but the trick is to get all of these in the right combination. Trek has done that with this super-sweet, super nice bike. I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to try it out if you missed Demo Days, but if you do get the chance - hop on it. You will not only not be disappointed, you will be amazed.
Rider Three

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting the Recipe Right

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." 
 Julia Child

Two Wheel Transit started hosting shop rides last season with participation building through the summer.  The ride is every Thursday night at 5:30 pm and covers road and centennial trail out to 7-mile bridge and back - same route every time.  Then we added post ride pizza once a month from a variety of pizza places. The grand finale in September had almost 50 riders who consumed 110 slices of David's Pizza afterward.

We considered adding other routes from concern that the same ride every week would get old and people would lose interest.  We realized that the concern was unfounded because though the same route, each ride is different.  We never know who is going to show-up and each ride has a different feel and character based on the combination of riders each week.  So same route, different ride every week.  

Sometimes we have just the racy types who push each other and finish close to an hour.  Other times we see the less experienced riders who take it at a more leisurely pace.  Then there are rides where you have racy, intermediate and leisurely all at the same time.   Since every ride is no-drop, the faster groups alway stop and wait until everyone is caught back-up.  The Team Two Wheel riders do a great job of keeping tabs on the various groups and will drop back or speed up to check on each frequently.  

It is always a glorious sight for the last rider to see the entire ride waiting for them at the top of Doomsday Hill where everyone can catch their breath.  Only then does the entire group ride the rest of the way to the one and only Two Wheel Transit location on 1st Avenue.

One time, as reported in A Night of Firsts we had tri-bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes all riding together.  This combination made for an interesting dynamic since everyone was trying to grab the wheel of a mountain bike and the tri-guys acting all aero and stuff.  But again, it was fun (and freezing) with, you guessed it, pizza afterward.

Last week it was only a group of 6 hearty riders who braved wind, rain, cool temps and the threat of lightning to go out.  It was one of the rider's first time on the shop ride and here he was in some of the worst weather.  I have to admit I was ready to cancel when someone called my bluff and indicated he was going regardless.  Well, there was pizza to eat afterward so off we went. 

We really did not get that wet and the fact that I am here to write this indicates that we did not get struck by lightning.  It was fun because of the group that came together that night regardless of weather.  That is when I started seeing the ride and the resulting experience as a recipe and the different riders as the ingredients that come together each week.  No two rides will ever be the same since the participants and weather will never be duplicated exactly.  That is what makes them fresh and fun each week.

With the weather warming (finally) we hope to see the ride numbers grow again - each with its own feel and memories.  When two or more riders come together - the recipe is right.  Bon app├ętit.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wednesday-night XC race #3

Last Wednesday's XC race used a course I especially remember from last year, except it had to skip Little Vietnam due to the river's ongoing flood stage. The course uses several sections of the 24-hour course, but in reverse. It also has a notable hillclimb that I think should have "cardiac" in its colloquial name, if it doesn't already. And there are a few turns that come up so fast it's easy to overshoot them... after racing this course last year and having that problem, I decided it was a good idea to arrive early enough for a pre-ride. So after checking in, I pre-rode part of the course to remind myself of some of the sudden corners, as well as the bottlenecks and passing opportunities.

The race went so-so. I was having an off day as far as bike-handling went, and at the start, my heart rate climbed pretty fast, so I didn't get to the first bottleneck with the leaders for fear of totally blowing up. Hey, it's a 16-mile race, there's time... Then again, my racing strategies usually work as well as the villain-capture plan in a typical Scooby Doo episode. ;)

Anyway, if you have ten minutes to burn, the video below shows how that all worked out, plus a bonus feature of a young Two Wheel Transit customer racing on his Trek 3500. Cliff Notes version: I pursue but lose time on the lead group, and end up riding by myself for 1½ laps, finishing 3rd, throwing on my raingear, having a couple root beers, and then riding home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2 Shop Ride Haiku

Two Wheel Shop Ride soon.
Too wet, too rainy to ride.
Good night to be sick.


Super Rambo! And climbing.

This past weekend I accomplished something quite impressive. Yes, I rode THREE DAYS IN A ROW. I know, I know. This sounds less than impressive. But hey, it’s been a tough year for me and riding time has been difficult to find.

So after an intense solo ride on Friday and a collegial yet sporting outing with the Morning Ride crew on Saturday, I woke up early Sunday to sore legs. After breakfast and coffee at 6:30 it was nice to hang around the house, play with my daughter and read the paper.

Around 10:00 I rolled out of the driveway headed for a ride I call “Super Rambo.” I’ll post a Garmin/GPS link another time, but this ride is the bastard lovechild of the Rambo Road loop, Four Mounds and Charles Road. So yes, it’s a lumpy loop sure to get a person’s heart rate up.

Because I didn’t intend for this post to be a ride report, I’ll move on, but first need to share a funny (I think) and pathetic (to be sure) story.

I haven’t been training and I ate an early breakfast. I was also tired, and left the house with no food and nothing put H two ohhhh in my bottle. As a result, after about two hours I began to bonk. Then I did bonk. Tunnel vision, flashing lights, the whole nine yards.

And here’s where the pathetic part comes in. I bonked hard enough that on the way home, I had to make a detour into the 24 Hour mountain bike race pits to find Two Wheel Transit’s support area so I could eat some of their race food. Bad form? Whatever.

Thoughts on climbing. The real reason for today’s post.

OK, so here’s the real reason I’m writing today. Climbing. I did a bunch of it on Sunday and started recalling the many questions I’ve had over the years about how to improve one’s ability to ascend. Now on the surface of things I might be a surprising person to ask about this. I’m a less than gifted climber. On the other hand I can occasionally hang with good climbers (and hopefully beat them in a sprint), and used to spend time with much faster people, who were incredible climbers. So, a person could be forgiven for assuming I know what I’m talking about.

Back on track. Here is my likely overly-pragmatic list of advice to improve your climbing. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

1. 1. “Be a friend to the climbs.” This was the advice my good friend, and a former US Postal domestique, suggested. In other words, don’t drive yourself nuts trying to figure out the best interval workout. Instead, incorporate as many hilly rides into your routine as you can. Go hard not for two minutes or whatever the guest columnist in Bicycling suggested, but until you get to the top of the hill. When in doubt, go uphill. Learn to spin up hills. Focus on your breathing. Be friends with the hills.

2. Position yourself. Too often those of us that don’t like going uphill start at the back of the group. Inevitably gaps open and it’s impossible to keep up. Starting out at the back makes a bad situation worse. Don’t think you can make it to the top with the leaders? Read the next entry. Oh, and you sure as hell shouldn’t be taking a monster pull before the base of the climb. I know it makes it an easier justification for going as slow as possible uphill, but it’s still unnecessary.

3. You can do anything for 15 seconds. Many moons ago, in a race that had way too many fast guys, and far too much climbing for my DNA, I tried something that actually worked. Halfway up the climb I was still with the front group, but starting to fade. I didn’t want to be the prick that opened up gaps, so I pulled over to the left, but forced myself to ride for 15 seconds next to each person as they passed me. By some miracle it worked. I faked it till I maked it. If you can’t do 15 seconds, try 5. Just try.

4. Shrug your shoulders. Want to see someone wasting a bunch of energy? Look at the rider next to you next time they’re on the rivet. I can almost guarantee you their shoulders will be scrunched up and their body twisted on the bike. This slows you down. Trust me. Next time you start to suffer pull your shoulders all the way up to your ears, then let them go. Feel the difference? Now…

5. Don’t forget to breathe. Sounds basic, but control your breathing. You'll be surprised at how much it can help.

6. Meat on Bones. Back in the day I hired a sports psychologist named Jerry Lynch to work with one of my teams. He used to drill into our guys, “Like meat on bones, like meat on bones.” What does this mean? Have you ever seen footage of a cheetah hunting? Check out its face. Loose, relaxed, like meat on bones. Want other examples? Look at a Kenyan marathoner. Meat on bones. Check out Alberto Contador climbing. Meat on bones. The point is that you want to focus yourself, and focus your energy on the muscles that are working. Similar to point number four.

7. Remember that the climb doesn’t stop at the top of the climb. Want to bring someone to the woodshed? After you crest the climb go hard for another 30 seconds. All those skinny climbers that loved throwing down going uphill? Return the favor at the top of the climb. They’ll hate you for it. Of course you're just keeping them honest. And that's a good thing, no?

8. Lose weight. Everyone, especially me, hates this advice. Except in pretty extreme circumstances, if you’re lighter you’ll climb better. A couple of years ago Rider Two lost 15 pounds, and bought a bike that was five pounds lighter than his previous anchor. It made for a very uncomfortable spring. For me. Others will have much better advice. Mine? Eat more vegetables and less bread.

9. Put your heart rate monitor/power meter/biometric brainscan device in your pocket. This is probably imperfect advice, but there’s nothing more annoying than someone saying, “I’m already at 165 beats per minute. I won’t be able to keep this up for much longer.” Are you sure?

10. Get new parents. This part sucks, because it’s hard to do anything about it. One of my favorite quotes was during a press conference at a mountain bike race. Someone asked Rishi Grewal how much of his success had to do with his genetics. His answer? “50 percent. 50 percent from Mom, and 50 percent from dad.” That’s funny!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

24 Hour Race Round the Clock Race Report

The 24 Hour Race Round the Clock mountain bike race is held every Memorial Day weekend from noon Saturday to noon Sunday.  This year it broke records with over 850 riders registered.  That means that most of them camped and brought friends and family to the event - in other words it was packed wall to wall with campers and tents.

Fortunately the weather cooperated this year and was mostly clear and cool after several days of rain.  That meant the camping was much more hospitable and the course was almost without any dust and only a few mud holes which soon began to dry.  Two Wheel Transit had a team of 6 riders registered, of which 5 raced the entire race in the 10 person corporate division.  We wish we had cool video like the preceding post, but we do not.  Given that it was a 24 hour race here are some highlights and observations rather than a detailed version of the entire race:

Jeremy only raced two laps due to a commitment on Sunday morning.  What made his laps noteworthy was that he did both in flip-flop sandals on regular pedals.

Alec thought it would be a good idea to have some pizza, jerky, trail mix, soda and other goodies prior to doing his 10 pm night lap.  This was not a good idea and in fact a bad one that led to no sleep and massive stomach cramps the remainder of the night - looked like he was done for the rest of the race.

Tom ended-up doing 2 laps back to back because the above racer was unable to ride his designated 4:38 am lap due to pizza induced misery.

Alec rallied for a 3rd lap after memorizing the inside of the latrine in great detail.  He was later seen enjoying pancakes and then lasagna later in the day.

SOMEONE forgot to sign-in for his 1st lap which means the lap can be disqualified (this will be important later) so the team can lose the lap.  Somehow the recorder person did not catch this, so the lap was counted.  After discussing it among themselves the team decides to report the oversight and throw themselves on the mercy of the race directors.  Race directors were out of mercy Sunday morning - so the lap was to be lost.  Race directors later call for a representative of the team and informed him that after further investigation, credit for the lap will be granted.

(I did witness a rider for a winning team who had done just that. He came in from his lap, asked to be signed in for the lap and then scanned the timing chip to end his lap so there were other instances of grace on this rule.)

Some favorite team names - Pedalphiles, One Hour Lap Dance and On Your Right

Tom, Dan G. and Dan W. turned-in very consistent and fast lap times which carried the team - they are all great riders to whom we are grateful.

Geoff did his usual go out too fast on the beginning of his first lap and then try to recover during the second part after turning his lungs inside-out.  He missed his chance to redeem himself on the second night lap when both of his lights died at the same time half way into the lap.  (Those lights just don't charge themselves you know.)  It made for a very interesting lap as he rode the remainder with his back-up flashlight strapped to his helmet.

The race organizers, sponsors and volunteers did a fabulous job of running a first class event.

Two Wheel Transit finished 2nd out of 32 Corporate teams with 23 laps and had a lot of fun.  Had we lost the lap mentioned above it would have dropped us to 4th place and off of the podium.