Sunday, March 30, 2008


In short, I ended up bailing out on The GRAID at about mile 100 or so. With my self imposed "ride of shame" into the headwind from Dallas Center to Grimes, I ended up with about 115 miles for the day. Not bad, but not the intended target. My cardio system was in good shape, my legs felt fine, but my (lack of a) pre-trip shakedown ride caused me the most issues. 

I had purchased a seat post mounted rear rack to use on the ride. With my panniers full of stuff that I took "just in case",  I was right at the weight limit for the rack (which was 20 lbs). I hadn't bothered to read the installation instructions, which would have let me know that there were proper shims to use with the rack. Instead I opted to use some bits of inner tube I had laying around. While this worked (somewhat), it also meant that I could not stand while climbing, or the rack would move enough to hit the rear tire. I sat on all of the climbs for the day, which really caused my back to get tight, and by the time we got to Dallas Center, I had experienced enough, physically and mentally.

On the bright side, I think I have figured out most of the things I need to make this ride successful.

I need to eat more food, more often. I had Gu and other stuff with me, but none of it was within easy reach. Carrying it isn't any good if you can't use it. I was in the middle of a pretty bad bonk towards mile 100. Chicken sandwich and potatoes at Casey's certainly helped. I think a small bento bag on the top tube like Dennis had, or putting some stuff in my windbreaker seems to be a wise move.

I brought way too much stuff "just in case". Two changes of clothes was way too many. First aid kit was a good idea, but probably unnecessary with the level of riders we had and the speeds we were going most of the time. Rain suit is a maybe depending on the weather. The extra tire was a good idea. Extra batteries for the lights were a good idea too. After some thinking, I am sure that I can pack everything that I need into a small rack top bag.

My butt seems to get pretty sore about mile 100 or so. I may end up putting another Brooks on the mountain bike if the one on the LHT works out. My other choice is to just take the LHT on the next ride and not worry about it. 

The sitting while climbing worked out well for my heart rate never exceeded 166 for the entire trip, not bad considering we had over 6000' of climb through Dallas Center. 

Weather for the day was just about perfect. Temps between 30 and 50. Sunny. Winds out of the SE at 19 with some slightly higher gusts. Could not have asked for a better temperature range to ride in. 

My promise to myself is that I will correct these issues and give this another shot again this year. I might take a small tent and figure out a place to take a nap along the route as well.

Photos from the ride are located here

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yer OUT!!

Went downtown to meet up with folks for the Wednesday night Ritual Ride, which was cancelled. Strike one. Took off for a solo ride and planned on just riding loops at Waterworks park. Half of the big loop is covered in gravel due to the floods last year. Gravel and 23mm tires do not mix. Strike two. Waterworks personnel have not deemed it the proper time to unlock the bathrooms on the large loop. Strike two and a half. Proceeded down the Great Western Trail, with plans to ride to cumming and back to spin my legs out from last nights ride. About a mile or so in, two pieces of glass in the rear tire. Strike three. It's obvious I'm not supposed to ride far today. As I'm finished changing my tube, Dave Lippold rides by and asks if I need anything. I recognize him, call him by name, and he waits for me to get my wheel back in the bike. Rode back with him to the Art Center where we parted ways. Stopped to see our old neighbors, Jason and Carla. Jason is a huge bike geek and wanted to see the Paramount, so it all worked out. Rode back to Ritual, threw the bike on the truck and then stopped by Palmer's deli for a turkey sammich on the way home. Hoping to pick up the LHT today if I get the call from Rassy's. Maybe the potential rain will make the store a little more quiet.

Last day of work today. Will spend tonight and tomorrow getting the KM, and myself, ready for The GRAID this weekend. Took Monday off as well. Will likely need it to recover.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Night Wrecking Crew

Made my first ever appearance at the infamousTuesday Night World Championship ride tonight. This is central Iowa's hardest weekly ride. I went there with a little bit of trepidation. I've heard stories about the brutality of this ride, and I was definitely not sure I was up to the challenge. With temps in the mid 50s, and a wind out of the WNW at 20 and gusting to 30 this north loop out of town was set to be pretty brutal. Got to Bike world early, added some long tights, skull cap and a windbreaker to my attire and proceeded to put my bike together. About 25 - 30 riders showed up, with a good showing by the girls of PRC and their scarlet clad team director, Donny Quixote. I saw some familiar faces (Lou, Cam, Pig, Troy, Kim, Stirling, Mable, Sweet Jane and Kelli), plus lots of people I'd seen on some other rides but not met. I also noticed that I was the only person on a steel framed bike. Not a good sign.

We took off at a relatively sedate pace, headed over towards Euclid, and then turned north onto 12th and Morningstar. Now out of the shelter of the houses we were really feeling the wind. By the time we got close to Saylorville Reservoir the wind was starting to show it's effect the group. The first hill saw a few of us fall off the back, and that would be the last I would see of the peloton for the rest of the night, other than watching them disappear into the horizon. Riding out north of Ankeny, I realized that I was going to be pushing into the wind for quite a while by myself, it was starting to get dark, and I didn't have a tail light with me. Jim Rubidoux was coming back towards me, so I turned around, introduced myself, and rode back south with him. We picked up Stirling from Rassy's. He and I cruised back into town on 6th together until passed close to his house. I rode the remainder of the ride back alone, enjoying the evening air and the sunset.

All in all a good ride. 1:47 ride time with an average heart rate of 152. I felt like I could have kept riding, but I am glad that I turned around when I did, as I was getting harder to spot on the road without any reflectors or lights.

On the ride back in, Stirling mentioned that my LHT was delivered Monday and is waiting for the shop to calm down a bit so it can be built. Hopefully I can pick it up tomorrow, and still make the Ritual Ride at 5:30. Otherwise, I probably won't be riding it until I get back from GRAID.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The weekend

Got up this morning to meet some people for a 40 - 50 mile ride starting at 8 AM. Loaded up and left the house about 6:30 so I could get unloaded, snag some coffee at Amici and wait for everyone to show up. Went to check the time, and noticed my phone was dead. &^#!@. Powered it back on and notice two text pages, the first asking if anyone else was still going, and a second one at 6:38 saying that the ride was cancelled. Guess the 30 degree temp and the 17 MPH NW wind scared everyone else off. Since it was 7:45, and I had gotten up early just to go for a ride, I decide to go ahead an go, even though I really didn't want to. I had been wanting to get a longer ride on the Paramount and see how well it was going to fit.

I Left the west side Bike World, rolled out west and south to Booneville, turned around and rode north into the headwind, back into Waukee, and then cruised down University to 60th and back to Bike World. Short ride of only 20 miles, but the first 2/3 was definitely hillier than what I have been riding lately. My lungs were on fire for the first 30 minutes due to the cold air the the climbing. I really wanted to just turn around and go home, but I'm going to need to ride harder and stress my body if I want to begin to keep up with Pete, Lou and the rest of the fast guys around here. Climbing is definitely a weak spot of mine, so I need to get more into my workouts.

The ride down University was nice. Cruised along at 25 mph, with a couple of sprints to 32 to make a couple of yellow lights. The tail wind helped me out a lot on the sprints. Seat angle felt better after my adjustment last night. However, I forgot to raise the seatpost to compensate for raising the saddle nose, so I felt cramped for most of the ride. I still think that the frame is a bit smaller than I should be riding, especially in light of the fit that I had done for the Long Haul Trucker. I guess I'll need to put some more miles on over the next few weeks and then figure out what to do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday and all is well

Commute steed was the single speed again today. 40-ish all day. Head wind coming in, bigger headwind coming home. Glad I checked the weather and took the thicker windbreaker this morning. Sterling called from Rassy's today. 58cm Surly Long Haul Trucker is on it's way, along with a honey Brooks B17 saddle, matching Brooks bar tape and the rest of my parts. Should be in on Monday, and ready for me on Tuesday. I can't wait for it to get here, move my fenders over and start riding to work on it.

My friends Bill and Karen, and their son Stirling, are coming down tomorrow. We are headed to Connecticut Yankee Pedaler in Chariton so Bill can look over and try out their selection of recumbent trikes. They carry and stock a number of major brands. Should be a good time.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The smallest things

Got up this morning and looked out at the roads. Wet looking, like it had maybe rained some last night. That, or the warmer temperatures are driving the last of the winter moisture out of the pavement. Was ready to just drive in this morning when I happened upon this. Great photo with a great write up below it. After reading it, I closed my laptop, got dressed, and rode the the trusty single speed to work.

Left the office a bit early and rode the pavetrail over to Rassy's to chat with Sterling about my LHT. The custom build came in a bit higher than I wanted, so I decided to go with a complete bike, along with racks and pedals. They happened to have a 60cm frame in Olive that came in for someone else, so I had a chance to tool around the parking lot on it a bit. After some measurements, I'm can fit either a 58 or a 60cm frame. Sterling will talk it over with Donny Quixote tomorrow and give me a call with the decision.

Weather is going to be a crap shoot tomorrow. Hopefully I can ride. But with weather issues in the forecast, I'll likely be on the lead sled for the commute. Once the LHT gets here, the lead sled will get it's original parts back, and be donated to the Des Moines Bicycle Kollective and from there, it will go to a new owner.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Rode the Paramount into work and back today to see how it felt. In one word: NICE. I swear that this bike has next to no drag at all in the chain line. Either Dura-Ace is some sort of black magic, or I need to spend more time on maintenance of my other machines. I definitely need to adjust the saddle nose up a bit more, and then expose a bit more seat post. I kept feeling like i was falling off the front for the short commute. Acceleration was snappy and it was all too happy to cruise along at 20 while on the small ring. I hate to even think about this, but I'm beginning to wonder if the frame is a bit too small for me. Tapped the back of the front wheel into the front of my foot pulling up to the office this morning. Part of it might be not being used to riding a bike with any sort of race geometry. That or my feet are too big. If the roads are dry, I'll take it into the office again tomorrow. New bikes are good for the soul. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Snuck one in

Met up with Lou, Pete, and about 8 other people for a couple of hours out at the Center Trails this morning. Lou sent me a text message at 6:00 AM. I didn't wake up to look at it until 6:45 and the ride started at 7:30. Threw some clothes on after looking at the temp, grabbed a water bottle, choked down a clif bar and left about 7:05. No coffee and not meeting for pre-ride breakfast banter sucked. Rick Blackford mistimed a curb hop and took a hard endo into the concrete with his head and shoulder before we even hit any dirt. Cracked the top of his helmet pretty good. He decided to keep riding with us rather than head home. He's pretty stiff and sore as of this evening. Hopefully nothing too serious comes up when he sees the doc tomorrow. Interesting trail conditions today for sure. They were either covered in ice, or they were in a semi-frozen sponge state. You could feel the dirt sucking at your rear wheel, but when you looked back, you were hardly leaving any marks in the trail. We made a pass through Denmans, Rhythm, Squirrels Nest, Hilliside and about 1/2 of J11. I'm going to have to go back and hit up hillside consistantly over the next few weeks before the IORCA series starts. The first climb up the hill and I was gasping for breath. I'm sure the 32 degree temps had something to do with it, but I also know my cardio needs a better workout than I've been giving it lately on these metric and standard centuries. Need to get in better shape for sure.

My USAC license showed up in the mail this weekend too. I guess I'm all official now. Time to go out, race and have some fun.

Speaking of fun, The GRAID is still on for the end of the month. Not sure where we're leaving from, but there's at least five of us taking this on. I still need to figure out if I'm going to try and go light, or if I'm going to throw a rack and some panniers on the back so I have spare clothes and stuff in case we run into issues. I don't want to be carrying too much weight with me, but I also don't want to be stuck without something in time of need. A lot can change over a couple of days, especially in spring, and especially in Iowa. Better safe than sorry when it comes to the weather. I can't wait to meet the other guys in person. I also can't wait to take on the challenge. This would be potentially easier later in the year, but some people are using this as a Trans-Iowa warm up, and others are doing this instead of Trans-Iowa. Some of us are doing it just for the challenge and to say we did it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lazy day

No ride today. Just wasn't in the mood and had plenty of bike related stuff to do. List for today included:
  • replace big ring on Karate Monkey, install and lube chain
  • fix flat and replace tire on the single speed
  • put new tires/tubes on new wheelset
  • take bike and wheel boxes and put them in the attic

Things I didn't get done:
  • track down all of my bike stuff and get it organized in containers
  • new cassette for new wheelset
  • finish crankset install on Bacchetta
  • put additional rails up in garage to hold more bikes

We did take some time to go to the Bike World expo today. I know that this event takes some time and preparation to put on, but I wasn't really happy about paying an entry fee to wander around and look. It just didn't quite seem like that was a good way to try and promote cycling to people. I did notice a number of bikes with fenders in some of the rows of bikes for sale. It's becoming apparent that there's a market for basic commuter/utility bicycles that has been untapped. However, the biggest problem that I see is that the places best suited to educating and promoting utility biking, like any local LBS, don't seem to have bikes in a price range that the average person will be willing to spend. What's needed is a solid bike, with fenders, and a rear rack in maybe the $200 - $250 range. I realize that this probably won't happen anytime soon, but I think that's the price point where people would give more thought to getting a bike that could be used for more than a weekend rider. Evidently, there's a good portion of the bike shops out there that just don't get it yet either.

Saw Scott and Julie in the Bike Iowa booth, an old coworker, Don, in the LAF booth, the Mostly Reverend representing the Des Moines Bike Collective, and Lou Waugaman manning the Guru Bikes booth. Saw a bunch of other fellow riders in the crowds as well, including Dave Mable from AllNineYards realty, Rick Blackford and his familiy, and the crazy tandem riders from Team Cow. Kathy picked up some stuff on bike camping and trails in the southern Minnesota and Wisconsin areas. Sounds like she might want to try and get out on her bike more this year, which I am all for. I'll have to work to get her a rack and some way to bring stuff home from the store like she's been asking for. Now that the weather is getting a bit nicer, I hope that I can get Conor out on the bike again as well.

Rumor has it that the center trails are rideable right now. I'm not sure how that's possible, unless we're talking about just Hillside and Rollercoaster. There might be a ride early tomorrow. Guess I'll see what text messages show up at 6 am and make a decision from there. If not, I might just bundle up and go for a road ride instead.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Two busy days.

Thursday was a nice day. Took the lead sled to work. Had a little rubbing problem with the rear wheel that I'll need to take a look at. Made it over to Irwin's after work to pick up some chainrings that I ordered. Rode home along 70th street, which was good until I looked up and noticed that the bike path ended and I rode right off into the fresh mud. Kept pedaling for a while, but I hit a soft spot, lost my momentum, and couldn't get unclipped.

Busy day today. Picked up tires and tubes from Rassy's today. Tubes for the road bikes, and tires and tubes for the 320 Tri's that showed up the other day. Will get them mounted tomorrow, along with all of the other bike work going on, like tube changing, chainring installing on two bikes, and getting an additional bike rail mounted in the garage. The Paramount arrived today. Mark did an excellent job packing it up. I'm going to save the box and all of the packing materials in case I need it some other time. Took about 45 minutes to get it unpacked, get the bars, pedals, rear deraileur and seat installed. Shake down ride was good, if a bit cold in shorts and a t-shirt. The Campy brifters are going to take some getting used to, but other than that, it's pretty much everything I had heard and expected it to be. The paint job looks a lot better in person than in pictures. I'll have to try and get some photos up in the next few days anyway.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another great (if wet day)

Tossed a fender on the single speed and rode it into the office this morning. Temp was 32 when I left. so I was on the lookout for ice on the way in, especially on skinny tires. Also was noticing yesterday's ride in my legs. It was very tough to do more than just turn the pedals over this morning. I might need to look into a smaller chain ring on the front, or put the 18t back on the rear for a while. Made it in fine, though I'm sure the people behind me were not happy at points. I figured wrecking in front of them on the ice would not make their morning commute or mine any more pleasant.

My new wheels for the Bacchetta showed up at the office today. A set of barely used Aclass 320DX Tri wheels. 16 spoke front, 20 spoke rear, all bladed spokes. Should be a good thing to go out and do some time trialing on this summer. I haven't decided if I'm going to run the disk cover on the back or not. I'll likely try it both ways and see how it works out. I need to get some tires bought for them and then get them on the Corsa.

Left the office at 5, welcomed by 62 degree weather and 13 mph wind. sending my backpack and the wheels with Kathy in the Explorer, and headed over to Rassy's to talk to Sterling about my LHT build. The roads were wet, and I remembered quickly that I didn't have a front fender. I also forgot that I should not get to close to the main roads when approaching them from a side street. I saw the car coming from my left, but failed to see the large two lane wide puddle that was in front of me. Next thing I see is a large wall of water headed towards me. Soaked, I made my way to Rassy's over the remaining wet streets. Had a good chat with him about other stores around town and the bike biz in general after the store closed and he was working on inventory. He's a good guy with a good head on his shoulders. Left him a with a wishlist of parts to get pricing on for me and that will likely determine how I'll go with the build.

Went from there to poker and movie night. Came outside to another flat rear tire (second slow leak in two rides). Guess this means I'll be inspecting the tire and rim for the culprit this weekend. Also means another trip to work on the lead sled tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Great weather!!

52+ degrees today. Left the office clad in shorts, wool jersey, windbreaker and a hat. Me and the lead filled beast got about 22 miles in. Not sure how fast I was going. Just rode at a nice solid pace for an hour and 15. Supposed to be nicer tomorrow, so I am sure that I'll be out on the bike at least some after work. Need to head over to Rassy's to talk to Sterling about a "horse" anyway. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

One good thing about DST...

is that there is more time to ride after work. 32F as I left the office tonight. Wound my way over to Rasmussen's Bike shop to check prices on a new Surly Long Haul Trucker. It's odd thinking about a second bike from the same manufacturer, but something about the LHT is just drawing me in. Not sure if I'm going to buy a full bike, or build a frame and fork up from scratch. The new bikes are reasonably priced, but I'm not completely sold on how they look from the factory. I'll probably end up getting the frame and fork and putting the parts on it. Colors for this year are blue or olive. I like the olive, which is good because the blue does not excite me at all. Last year's red is really nice, but I can't get that any more. Not that I need another bike, but having something that can haul a ton of stuff is something that just makes me a bit giddy. Taking an extended weekend to go do some bike camping just has some allure to it. Thinking something like this, but in olive, with a lot of black everywhere else. other than the saddle and the handebar tape.

Left Rassy's, stopped in to visit the Mostly Reverend, but he was either not home, or he was passed out from taking too many pain killers. :) Since it was a nice night, I swung through Bike World and chatted with Tom for a bit before heading home. Good 90 minutes of just cruising around town on filled with lead Schwinn Traveller, enjoying the sunshine and the late evening light.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It's coming!!

My "new" Paramount is on its way to my doorstep. 1990 Paramount OS built in Waterford, Wisconsin. Can't wait for it to get here. Steel is real.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Moderate exercise helps you lose weight? That's crazy talk!
(Click the title for details)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring is here (for a day)

Woke up this morning at 7:30 AM to a temp of 44 degrees. This was good as it meant that yesterday's melt didn't freeze overnight. Snagged some breakfast, got dressed and loaded up the single speed to head over to meet a small group for a ride on the south side of town. As soon as I went outside, I realized that I was overdressed and went back in to change out my windbreaker for something a bit lighter. Met Rick, Pat and Gabrielle, along with Squirrel and Teri Sue over at Ricks for a 30-ish mile easy ride. It was sloppy and somewhat hilly for most of the ride. (at least it was hilly for around here). Squirrel and I were the only ones on single speeds, and it didn't take long for me to figure out that I probably shouldn't be pushing a 46x17 this time of year. Time to track down a smaller front chainring for sure. Rode the hills through the big houses at Moffit Lake and then headed back for home. Stopped for a beverage, and came back outside to temps nearing 60. Off came the wind breaker, pulled the tights up to my knees and enjoyed the sunny goodness for the rest of the ride home. Rest of the ride was uneventful other than a stop to fix a slow leak in my rear tire. Snagged something to eat on the way home as I was quite close to a bonk. Showered, then took a nice hour-ish nap in my big leather chair. Rained the rest of the afternoon, and we're supposed to have 2 - 4" of snow on the ground by tomorrow morning. Ugh. :(

I need knickers or leg and arm warmers as part of my clothing selection for sure. I'll have to look for a smaller chainring this week as well.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A good, productive day.

25 miles of urban riding today. Right below freezing this morning, so the ride downtown was interesting. The 25 lbs of tools and cleaning products in my backpack, and the east headwinds made the ride a bit of work. The roads, covered in ice wherever a side street intersected them, required keeping a close eye on things, even riding the Monkey. My change in shorts seems to have paid off in terms of the pain. Have a two to three hour road ride scheduled for tomorrow. Different bike, with a different seat, so we'll see how things go.

Today's work at the Des Moines Bike Collective was very effective. A number of people showed up to volunteer their time and effort to clean up the space. Carpet was ripped up, old furnishings were drug to the curb, and floors were swept and mopped. While the carpet came up, after a bit of effort, the foam that had been adhered to the concrete did not. Thankfully, Carl Voss managed to borrow what I can only describe as "The Hellish Carpet Foam Removing Machine". It weighed about 75 lbs, had a large blade that was as wide as my palm. We turned this thing on and the blade vibrated back and forth somewhat violenty. For the next two hours we proceeded to separate the foam from the floor.

Clean up ended around 2 PM. Afterwards a few of us went to Ritual Cafe for a drink and some discussion. Afterwards, I rode with The Mostly Reverend to Zanzibars and onward towards The Orphanage. A big thank you to the folks at Zanzibar's for supplying us with tasty coffee to keep us working today. The rest of the ride was a warm, uneventful, if somewhat wet, trip home. About 25 miles of riding today, some of it cruising with friends and chatting. It was definitely a good day.