Monday, April 28, 2008

Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds

So the results for Hinckley are posted. I finished in 1:02:30.5, with a combined run/transition of 21:38. That works out to a 22 mph average speed on the bike for the 15 mile course, only slightly slower than my time trial time from the week before, and that was without a 5k run beforehand. So now I have a good benchmark, it's time to work on improving. One thing I noticed, courtesy of Rick's pictures, is that I toe-down waaaaaay too much in my pedalstroke. That, and I think I need to get fit to the bike a little better when I'm in my bars. That's going to be a project for me and Sean from Bike Authority perhaps after I get the Soloist in and set up, but the pedal stroke is something to work on now. Guess I have my focus for this week's training rides.

Hearts and kidneys are tinker toys! I am talking about the central nervous system!

The El Chameleon lives...sort of. I stopped at Bike Authority and they got my rear derailleur back together. This allowed me to get the chain cut and the bike cabled. I started adjusting the shifting, but the rear wheel wobbles quite a bit. Tomorrow I'll take it down and try tightening the cones, and if that doesn't work I'll give the bearings a shot at a repack. Hopefully Mavic will send me my wheels soon, then the El Chameleon can really be complete!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It Never Gets Easier, You Just Go Faster

I thought that the LeMond quote was appropriate, since this weekend's exploits didn't happen last year or the year before, and this weekend's races didn't seem any less painful.

The good couple weeks kept getting better today. I bolted on the aero bars for the Hinckley Buzzard Duathlon/Biathlon/5k Run today, opting for the biathlon since running isn't so much my thing. For those who don't know, a biathlon is a run, followed by a bike ride (as opposed to the duathlon which is run/bike/run).

The run went well, and I found myself riding out of the transition area at 21:30. I neglected to mark my transition on my watch, but I would guess that it was about two minutes, yielding a 5k of 19:30 or so. The bike section went even better; I passed an awful lot of black bib numbers (the duathlon participants were wearing red numbers), and cruised into the finish chute with the clock reading 1:02 and change. When I got to the end of the chute, they handed me a Men's Biathlon 2nd Place Overall trophy! The overall winner of the Men's Biathlon was Mike Vanucci, with a winning time of something just under one hour; Mike is way stronger than I'll probably ever be, at least on a bike, and he says he passed me about halfway through the last lap. NCN should have the official results up later today or early tomorrow. Check their site if you're interested.

I, of course, was not alone in SBR blue and orange for the day. Eric, Matt T., Ian H., Angie, and several others were there as well. Rick and Gary were there taking pictures, (Rick's can be found on his Flickr site), and Dan B. was going to race, but the crank on his bike was trashed and he couldn't get a new one in time. Instead, he and the family came out to watch the festivities and cheer on SBR. The team did quite well, and most (if not all?) of the participants got at least a medal in their respective age group.

Overall, a great weekend.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Assure You: We're Open

Despite my lack of posts lately, I've been busy. Last Saturday found me at RATL #1, and Sunday saw me riding the Team IPRO Spring Time Trial.

RATL #1 didn't go so well; there was a distinct lack of organization in Team Snakebite, though Michael L. and I managed to hang on in the front of the main pack for seventh and twelfth overall(a six man break took off in the confusion that followed the women's pack coming up behind, and a few juniors getting overtaken with two laps to go). For how the rest of SBR did, check out Rick's report.

The time trial went fairly well; I held a 22.89 mph pace over the ten mile course, for a time of 26:13. This landed me a 5th in my age group and 13th overall. I feel like I could have pushed harder, had I known my speed and cadence. Unfortunately, the sensor wire for my Cateye Astrale 8 was torn out of the mount sometime that morning during transit. I'll get another shot at the course in the fall, though, so I hope to do better then.

On Monday I went to see the fine folks at Bike Authority for a new computer. They hooked me up with a Trek Incite ACH Digital. It features cadence, rear wheel speed, and heartrate, all via wireless. It also includes an altimeter, a grade calculator, and a thermometer. Lots of awesome data, but way too much to look at while riding. It will be nice to track my climbing practice, though.

Since I had to work Tuesday night, I couldn't race Westlake this week, and I was pretty fried on Wednesday, I opted for the Thursday Square Wheels ride over on the east side. Chris B. and Pete S. from SBR were there, along with some of the other East side regulars. The guys were great to ride with; we got a rotating paceline going in a few places, and the 1-2-3 riders I was with were kind enough to sit up at the top of big hills.

Friday saw a laid back SBR group ride, then dinner at a place near Rick's. Lots of fun to hang around with some of the team and relax. Guiness was flowing, which also helped in the relaxation.

Today was RATL #2. It was almost the complete opposite of RATL #1. SBR worked together, we stayed in the front, and Michael L. and I took 6th and 4th overall, and 2nd and 4th in the group sprint; two riders went off the front with 4 laps to go and must have fired off JATO pods, since they came within about thirty seconds of lapping the pack. Both the guys on the break were pretty fried afterwards, but they certainly earned their trophies and upgrade points today.

All in all, a good couple weeks. Oh yeah, and I put money down on a 58cm Cervelo Soloist Carbon with a Campagnolo Centaur drivetrain. Soon the bike will no longer be an excuse for getting out-sprinted...

Friday, April 11, 2008

In those high-rolling hills...

After sixty-eight miles and thirteen thousand vertical feet of climbing, I have emerged from the wilderness. The Santa Monica Mountains provide a stark contrast to the urban jungle that lies just below; many miles of trails exist, flanked by brush covered hillsides that were brilliantly coated in wildflowers and green grass. Looking out over the slopes ravaged by fire last October, I saw a green rivaled only by the pictures I've seen of Ireland. According to the locals, it's almost never that green. For an idea of what it usually looks like, one only needs to watch a M*A*S*H rerun. The show was filmed in Malibu Creek State Park, where I camped my second night.

Despite the vibrant nature of the vegetation, water was still hard to come by. On the many exposed ridges and fire roads, there was no water, and only in a few of the seasonal streams did I find more than mud at the bottom. It was small wonder that the fire danger throughout the mountains was rated at least at Medium. Many areas throughout Malibu carried permanent smoking bans outside, not in the interest of personal health, but in the interest of not burning down the county. One ranger drove by me while I was carrying a pen; thinking I was smoking he got out of his vehicle to give me what-for, but stopped short when he saw it was only a blue Bic. Campfires are out of the question, and even charcoal grills are off limits. Thankfully propane stoves weren't banned at the time I was there (it's happened before, though I've always just missed it), since such bans make having hot food a little difficult.

Other than the aridness of the climate, the weather was perfect. The sun shone every day, nice breezes blew up the canyons, and nary a drop of rain fell upon me. Thankfully there was water at all the campgrounds, and I had enough water bottles to carry a gallon at once, so I never went thirsty. When I got off trail, I went to dinner with my friend George and then heard his barbershop group sing at a coffee shop in Santa Monica. Before that, I stopped at a Burger King for a cheeseburger. There's nothing I crave while on the trail like a cheeseburger.

For those mountain bikers who read this, you can ride over much of the trail; thanks to the many road intersections along the route it's not hard to get to and from the trail (since not all the trail is open to bikes), the trail is fairly wide and well-constructed in many places. You'll want plenty of water and sun protection; as I already said the trail is dry and shaded spots are few and far between. Check out the National Park Service site for more information.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

We can live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind...

At 1020 PDT on Friday, April 4, I arrived in Los Angeles. I left the torrential downpours of northeast and central Ohio (having flown out of Columbus) for the sun and sand of southern California. My friend George has been kind enough to let me stay at his place in Santa Monica while I'm in town, and so far the time here is shaping up nicely. The plan for the week involves backpacking in the Malibu Hills (yes, Virginia, there is a thru-hikable trail in L.A. County), hitting the beach, and checking out a bike from one of the local bike shops and getting acquainted with California Highway 1 around Malibu; bringing my bike with me wasn't worth the hassle, since pack/unpack times would have put it out of commission for a week, all in exchange for only about a day's worth of riding.

Flying out the route took us over the Rockies west of Denver before the plane turned south west across the Four Corners region, including Durango, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon. I got a few shots out the window of the surrounding area, and I'll post any good ones when I get home. The flights went smoothly, and all my checked baggage arrived as planned. The rest of Friday was spent napping, then attending a Santa Monica Theater Guild production of The Full Monty.

Yesterday we hit the REI store in downtown Santa Monica to pick up some supplies that the FAA frowns upon carrying aboard an aircraft and generally hung around. We also grabbed the necessary supplies for a Pepsi-can alcohol stove, since I've always wanted to try one, and I'm finally going somewhere with an average altitude below 10,000 ft.

Time to head out and enjoy the day. Good luck to all my Snakebite teammates at the Weekly Worlds this Tuesday!