Thursday, July 30, 2009

Memorial for Jose Friday July 31

From Jose's CaringBridge Journal:

A memorial service will be held at the Seattle Arboretum at the Graham Visitors Center this Friday, July 31 at 6:30 pm. People are strongly encouraged to arrive by 6pm. Follow this link for more information on getting there and other details:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Is Not My Beautiful Bike

David Byrne is coming to Town Hall on Monday, September 28 to talk about bikes, as part of the Seattle Arts and Lectures series.

Byrne rides a bike: all over his hometown, NYC, and the world. With his new book, Bicycle Diaries, he’ll host a town-hall presentation on the role cycling plays in city life. Sharing the stage will be local guests also interested in cycling and urban planning, civic responsibility, and the pleasures of the bike. (more...)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shout Out To Cucina Fresca

Cucina Fresca is the team of Jose Hernando, who was critically injured in a collision with a van on Lake Washington Boulevard last week.

From reading the CaringBridge journal and guestbook and talking to the folks coordinating support for Jose and Chanel, we've learned the Team has really stepped up. Their generosity is humbling and inspiring.

We're all still pulling for Jose. Every pedal stroke a prayer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My first STP

Sometime in February I decided it would be fun to do the STP. I've lived in Seattle over a decade now and although I could hardly be called a road biker, the STP has always had the kind of draw to it that over time wears you down. Just like climbing Rainier, it is not something I think most people really so much enjoy doing as much as they enjoy saying they did. And so it was for me, and I decided that this year would be a fine year for it, the ski season coming to an end it sounded like a good way to get in shape for the summer.

As I've not really a road biker, I emailed the usual suspects stating my intentions to try to do it in a day and that I'd love some training partners as the date approached. From this came the most dangerous seed of all, a response from Chad, who at the time I had never even met:
From what I hear of your riding you should have no problem doing STP in one day, even on your fixie.
This I laughed off. Do the STP in a day on a fixie? He must be insane. I've never ridden 100 miles in a day on my road bike, much less over 200 on a fixe. But the seed was planted and try as I might, it started to germinate. As montain biking season began and I started doing the bigger rides that came with it I also started to take the idea more seriously. Why not? Everybody says the course is really flat and as I ride the fixie every day to work I feel more comfortable on it anyways. And so it became a hedge, I would jokingly tell people I was going to do it on a fixie, but leaving the option to back down the day of if I didn't feel ready.

As it turns out my July turned incredibly busy and the date snuck up on me quicker than expected. But I did manage to do a few longer rides on the fixie before the fateful Saturday and decided that it would be worth trying, after all, it would make for a good story.

I woke around 4:00 AM on Saturday to find some perfect riding weather. After coordinating with my mother on where to meet, I took off down to Lake Washington to meet the riders. I have to say the first 25 miles were just hilarious fun. Having hundreds of bikers around you, in front, behind and around as far as the eye can see was just incredible. I had never ridden in a pack before, but it was immediately addictive. My goal was to finish the STP, not set any record times, and as such I really wanted to maintain a fairly low average, say 16mph, such that I wouldn't bonk before arriving. That proved to be impossible right from the beginning. Even as I found a group traveling 18, another would pass at 20 and I would tag along. Then they would be passed by one at 22 and I would take chase. The rabbit chaser in me just couldn't hold back, especially as drafting made traveling those speeds fairly effortless.

In short, the first 40 miles passed in a blur as I learned to draft and take turns pulling. At my first break 50 miles in I was feeling strong and eager to get on the road again. After a short break and some Facebook updates I hit the road for the next 50. By this point the riders had spread out significantly and there was less passing taking place, letting everyone settle into a rhythm. Sometimes this would lead to being 'stranded' alone for a good while, which made me appreciate being in a pack that much more. It required more energy to go 18mph alone than it did to go 22mph in a group and I vowed to be more careful with my departures from the stops to find partners to share the workload with.

I arrived at the 100 mile mark averaging a little over 19mph. This was far quicker than I expected and at this point I was still feeling relatively good. I felt confident that I would finish one way or another. My mother met me here and we organized our next meeting spot before I took off once more. I immediately joined up with two other guys, one of which was on his seventh STP. We took turns working over the next twenty five miles and although far easier than working alone, it also made me appreciate the bigger packs, for having to break wind at 20mph every five minutes was still getting exhausting.

Somewhere between 125 and 150 miles in is a series of rolling hills, and it was at this point that I really started feeling the ride. Perhaps I hadn't drunk enough, or perhaps just my 48/16 was too tall, but each hill took a heavy toll and by the time I arrived at the 150 mile checkpoint I was fighting cramps in my quads and calves. I took a long break here, drinking and eating and gave Vaughn in Portland a call to see if he wanted to meet me at the 175 mile mark and ride me in. We agreed on a rough timeline and I took off once more.

Thankfully the next twenty five miles were far easier than the previous and although I didn't find any big packs to ride with it went by reasonably quickly. One of my pedals started pre-releasing at this point however and this made the downhills especially tricky as I spun out and then lost a foot entirely. But overall it was bearable, especially knowing that the end was near.

At the 175 mile mark I found Vaughn waiting for me in his brightest green outfit and with his very own fixie, ready to accompany me in. I can't thank him enough for this last hurrah of assistance, not so much for the pulling which he did but for the company as we came into Portland. By this time I was starting to feel thoroughly trashed and having someone to talk to made it all the more bearable.

And so we rode the last 25 miles into Portland, through the last hills and around various curves to the final celebration area. I got my one day badge and then immediately wanted to pass out. I have to say the toll was very real, my system in a bit of a shock after 11 hours on the bike and countless energy foods consumed. Vaughn was gracious enough to put my mother and I up for the night, but I was too exhausted to stay up and feeling too funky to eat, so didn't make much of a guest.

The biggest problem was that my bike fit wasn't quite right and in the process I pinched my ulnar nerves something fierce. This is known as 'handlebar palsy' and the symptoms are having completely numb pinky and ring fingers. Sadly I am now going on two weeks of not having much use of those fingers which makes my work challenging to say the least. Treatment consists of rest and rest only, but apparently almost everyone recovers within a few months. I had no idea that I could injure myself so easily so let that be a warning to any other newbies taking on the STP.

In the end I enjoyed myself far more than I thought I would. I think the ride being novel, as well as the pack dynamics being new to me made it all go by much more quickly than I expected. It did not mentally feel like I was on the bike for so long. But I think for that very same reason I would have trouble ever doing it again, as I fear it would drag on far more slowly. And if you are thinking about doing it on a fixie, then I say go for it! It wasn't really much of a handicap at all and you'll get all sorts of encouragement and gasps from other riders along the way.

Final stats:
Miles ridden: 202
Hours in saddle: 11 1/2
Average speed: 17.7
Rice Crispy Treats: 3
Cliff Blocks: 18
Bananas: 2
Sandwiches: 2
Sports Drink Bottles: 8
Fingers lost: 4

And the best part of riding the STP on a fixie, total number of pedal Strokes: ~46,500

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cyclist, Former Colleague Critically Injured on LWB

Andy Skalet told me about this. This strikes close to home because it's a former colleague of ours from Evri. When he was at Evri, he raced for Cucina Fresca.

Still trying to get information...Andy may be trying to visit this morning at Harborview.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bicycle Music Festival in Seattle

This came my way:

The mission of the Bicycle Music Festival is to promote sustainable culture in general and bicycle culture in particular, by physically engaging and immersing our community in the magic of bike culture, and cultivating and nurturing a network of local sustainable musicians, through our staging of free, community participatory, bicycle-based music events.

The Bicycle Music Festival is the largest 100% bicycle-powered music festival in the world. The free, all-day (and late into the night) event takes place annually in San Francisco, California.

August 22, 2009 the Ginger Ninja's are spearheading the Pleasant Revoluntionary Tour and the BMF West Coast Tour coming to Seattle.

The Bicycle Music Festival features: a 2000 watt pedal-powered PA system, as many as 15 bands, up to 7 festival stops, outrageous Critical Mass-style bicycle party caravans between festival stops, and zero use of cars or trucks. With its completely bike-haulable stage, the event is packed up and deployed numerous times: staged sequentially at different public parks and also on a moving “Live On Bike” stage which rolls down city streets.

Get Involved. Are you a musician/ band that wants to be on the tour? Do you want to volunteer? Do you want to help haul stuff? Now's your opportunity to participate in this fun grass-roots festival.

BMF is made possible by the support of some wonderful local individuals and businesses. We encourage support via cash or in-kind materials/ services to help support the Bicycle Music Festival.

Contact Padme of Aaron's Bicycle Repair

Frame is Indestructible; I am Not

Sigh. Phil caught me yesterday riding home on a bike that was not the one I built. I'm ashamed to admit it. At 46/19, the gearing on my pride and joy was too harsh for some of the hills I go up. About a week ago, I injured my back trying to grind up one of those hills.

I've gotten a 42-tooth chainring, and I'll be installing it this weekend, and hopefully, taking the gray beast out again next week.

I'm old.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When a cyclist dies

I don't know the details, just saw the headline: Bicyclist fatally hit by SUV outside Bremerton.
I was talking to a friend about it: I thought I'd make a bunch of armbands (out of old tubes, no shortage there) and pass them out--whenever a cyclist gets run over, we wear the armbands for a week when riding. He thinks it would reinforce the 'bikes are dangerous' mentality. Personally, I think the 'ghost bike' is really effective, though of course only in that one location. Opinion? Informal survey, evanspc/gmail.