Sunday, December 12, 2010

Would A Friend Let A Friend Buy A Redline?

Most of us work in software, many in testing or engineering, so we know how hard it is to get something right, and how much work is involved in quality. I have a lot of respect for someone who puts a product out on the line for daily use and abuse, and I don't feel comfortable panning a brand for an occasional quality or design defect.

But what gives with Redline, and by association, Seattle Bike Supply?
I don't know what SBS's role in this is, or their relationship to the Redline brand and to the manufacturer. Does SBS purchase the frame & components from various sources, assemble them, and slap the Redline stickers on them? Any elucidation would help. I am ignorant.

Normally, I wouldn't hold it against a company for recalling products; in fact, I'd view it favorably, as a sign of being a conscientious citizen,

But in this case, I wonder whether SBS should continue distributing bikes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gotta love Cipollini

If you haven't read this little gem of an interview with Mario, you should.  Whether you agree with him or not, you've got to love his passion!  I have to agree with the observation that much top of the heap these days (with some exceptions like Vinokourov and Cancellara) seem to be relatively subdued in competition.  Is it the money?  Or is it as Mario suggests, a result of human evolution towards hermaphroditus?

Monday, December 6, 2010

product review from a product review hater

"Don't upgrade your ride, ride up grades" --Merckx

Great quote. I'm exceedingly tired of all the shills with their holiday 'reviews', trying to get you to buy another thing instead of just getting out the door.

I'm also discouraged by how stupid my bikes look this time of year: covered in fenders, lights and batteries and wires, and layers of road grime. (This from a gutter bunny not at all known for his elan.) Old broken-clavicle ache has me sporting a rear rack on my commuter, arrgh.

Nonetheless, I just got a rear blinky that I love--the Radbot by Portland Design Works. It should help keep me alive, as it's intensely bright (and wheel suckers will be blinded!) It's not a DiNotte, but was $18 at MEC. (Some reader will show their Maple Leaf and point out that the BLT Ultra Wazoo DX is brighter for a few bucks more, but supporting a US manufacturer right now makes me happy.)

OK, that's it for my product review career...

Living Dangerously

This spring, I injured myself gardening. Last week, I injured myself sitting down. I've got to stop this high-risk behavior. Maybe I'll take up sky-diving.

Sigh. But am still riding. Have been doing 100+ minute sessions on the trainer. Riding and stretching backward over a Swiss ball really help ease the pain.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I rode with Tyler Farrar

On Saturday my buddy Stew, his friend Jeff, and I set out to do a 50 miler, 43-degree temperature be damned. We met up in the U-District around 1pm, and hit the Burke-Gilman trail northbound at 25th Ave NE. At the stoplight, we were among a group of a few random cyclists and runners. A guy in a Garmin-Transitions kit took off strongly, and Jeff gave chase. I'm thinking "We should not be hammering like this, 2-minutes into our ride. Great plan, guys." But apparently Jeff recognized the Garmin rider as non other than Tyler Farrar, currently one of the best sprinters in the world!

So we were hanging with him at a 19mph clip along the BG, and chatting for about 3-4 miles. He was very gracious to ride and chat with us ragtag, giddy fans until he had to turn around to meet up with his buddy. He was on his 2nd training ride of the day, and clearly could have pummeled us if he'd wanted to. He was just a super courteous rider. As I drafted behind him for most of the ride, he hand signaled everything, and even put his hand down to block his spit when he let one fly! Impressive. He said that he lives in Seattle when not out on the pro circuit. He's currently training for the Tour Down Under in January in Australia.

A very cool brush with an elite athlete that made a cold ride worthwhile!

what are you doing reading this redux

Bundle up and go for a ride. Lots of tire tracks heading into downtown Seattle this morning.

This might be the year I finally make some studded tires...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What are you doing reading this?

You should be out riding your bike on this rare 60 degree day in November.

I will be shortly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My first bike accident! (with a car)

I was commuting the other day on a route I don't normally use. It was my daughter's 12th birthday and we were going out to dinner in Lynnwood. I turned off of Hwy. 99 on to a quiet side street with a bike lane. With her mind on the mooshoo pork she was going to eat rather than the task at hand a lady turned right in front of me into a driveway. I had about 5 feet of room to slow down from about 16MPH while turning into a driveway and unsuccessfully avoiding the rear wheel of the car. I was not hurt, nor touched by the car.

I screamed all the words I could scream and then demanded her insurance info and started taking pictures of everything. This happened about 1/2 block from Harvy's bike shop in Lynnwood. I bought a cheap front wheel and went on my way.

I had just purchased a powertap hub and williams wheelset and had it paired with my garmin GPS the day before. Now at least half of the set is not round.

I am currently in negotiations with her insurance company about buying me a new front wheel and maybe more. I am taking it to get checked out today.

Here is my gps info.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vote down the anti-bike agenda

The Seattle City Council has put up an Ideascale site to gather ideas and feedback on various cost cutting measures for the 2011-12 budget. There are a number of anti-bike items that have been posted. Please consider voting "I disagree" on these items, and showing that there is strong support for continuing to make Seattle safe for cyclists.

Monday, October 4, 2010

on this day in history...

Vaughn makes VeloNews — for the first (and probably the last) time ever.

Here's the picture:

Here's the link.

Yup, that's me in the center of that pile — and yes I did cause the accident. It had just started to drizzle, and we had all taken this same corner at speed in previous laps. About 20 guys wrecked besides me... my wreck just made the biggest pile. I'm all banged up today, but I'd do it again to make VeloNews. :-)

The best part: my wife was standing at this section (where there were about 12 hairpin turns in a row) with both my kids and about 4-5 friends, and they were all yelling "Go Wide!" at the top of their lungs as I was coming into that corner (on the inside, doh!) It may have been too late to save myself from a fall —but— instead off paying attention to the corner, I was looking up at them as I came down the straight away, trying to yell above the crowd noise, "which corner?!" My wheels were off the ground before I got the words out. I actually might not have crashed if I had been paying more attention. Lesson learned - I'm totally ignoring my wife and my friends during races from now on.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


What would Chad do? It's my new mantra.

Last weekend, I rode to Port Townsend to meet Carol, who was on a mini-cation (which included riding up Mt. Constitution on Orcas one day, and hiking it the next day). Fifty five miles, maybe, against a moderate-to-strong headwind, and moderately hilly. Next morning, I was planning to ride back to Seattle from PT, hoping to take advantage of a tailwind. Before breakfast, the wind was coming from the north. Perfect.

After breakfast, I checked again, and the wind was now coming from the south, a harbinger of the storm system that was to move in this week.

I thought about doing another 60 miles alone against the wind. On hills. Over the Hood Canal Bridge.

I punted, and rode home in the car with Carol, instead.

To be sure, part of the reason I chose to ride in the car was that I wanted to spend time with Carol at a time when I was more relaxed and optimistic than I have been in awhile.

But part of it was also because I am a wuss.

What would Chad do? He would have ridden that second day, and probably would have gone out of his way to get more miles and steeper hills.

As would Nic, Kevin, Vaughn...none of you would have given that second day's ride a second thought.

So, from now on, when I find myself vacillating about riding, I'll ask myself.

What would Chad do?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My road racing season in about 5 sentences.

Trained my ass off during the winter with Jen Wheeler, wanted to upgrade to cat3 in the first few weeks.

Had bad luck, broke collarbone, off the bike for two months.

Came back, did pretty good, got some upgrade points and my first win.

More bad luck, broke my bike's collarbone.

Upgraded after the season ended. I'm a CAT3 on the road!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So I broke my bike.

I am in mourning.

I was in a wreck in Gig Harbor this weekend.
Earlier in the race I got second in the intermediate sprint. With 1k to go I was in the exact same position, about 15th wheel. Then there was a pile of bikes in front of me. I slammed right into some guy's ribs and went right over the bars.
I have some cuts and bruises.

My bike was not so lucky, I broke another set of expensive carbon bars and worse yet I have a big damn crimp/dent/bend in my non-drive-side chainstay. I could still ride it but would not be able to trust it at high speed or while cornering.

What can I do? It's aluminum.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Race report from Southern WA.

Due to the schedule change of LWV #1 and my wife being on a Mexican cruise I was able to get out of town to do a couple OBRA races.

Camas Twilight crit

A "C" shaped course with a three block climb, the flier said to make sure and do a couple warm-up laps due to the off-camber downhill. AWESOME!

During my warm-ups I figured that the whole race would come down to the climb since once you start descending the other side it would be hard to make up ground. I was exactly right on that note. The already small field became only four guys in the lead after just 3 laps. 3 guys shortly after that. We went as a trio for a couple laps until one guy crashed from our group before the first prime was thrown out. The other leader and I traded a couple primes and continued on and lapped what was left of the field. About halfway through the race the other guy dropped me on the climb and I could never regain ground on him.

I came in second and was the only other guy to finish all the laps. My best result to date!

Vancouver Courthouse crit

A figure 8 course that promised to be fast and fun. It was.
I was able to take a lot of warm-up laps as they canceled the 15-18 year old race. I watched most of the CAT5 race and they had a break that stuck for 15 laps and won it. I made it a point to chase down any break that looked dangerous.

The race was pretty uneventful with a couple guys going off the front, usually from going for primes. I grabbed a $5 prime myself and spent a few laps out there alone. With 15 to go I was in a 4 man break but the guys didn't seem all that interested in working. Quickly back into the field. Round and round we go until 5 to go when another prime was thrown out. One guy went for it and spent the rest of the race off the front until the second to last corner. As soon as we caught him I started sprinting and was first around the corner and held off the field for the win.

MY FIRST WIN! The guy who beat me the day before came in second.

A fabulous weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010

StarCrossed '10 Registration

I think we all remember how (not) fun last years slog-fest was?

Well registration is at Sunday night midnight (or 12am Monday morning - however you want to think of it).

Saddle up boys.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cascade Stage Race Report

This is the biggest race I have entered to date and had been looking forward to it for a month or so. 4 stages in three days in the high desert oasis Bend, Or.

Stage 1: Cascade Lakes Road race. 71 miles and a million feet of climbing up Mt. Bachelor.

This stage started out right on a climb. The pack was climbing too slow for my tastes so I moved up to the front and was just riding along and had a gap over the top. While descending the gap grew to a minute. I stayed away from the group for over 10 miles until one guy bridged up to me. Here is where I made a mistake. I started to work with this guy for a couple miles but was starting to get tired and I let him go and went back to the pack. I was tired but recovering quickly in the pack when I heard them talking about attacking through the first feed zone at 22 miles. My vote was no. When we started the climb to the feed zone I moved to the right to grab a bottle my chain dropped and it took me about 30 seconds to get it back on. By the time I got it back on the pack was gone. There was only one other rider back with me, a brave woman racing with the CAT4 men, she said she probably could not help me much to catch back on. I started trying to TT back to the group switching on and off with her and we got close but they were just too fast. I was dropped 1/3 of the way through a 70 mile race. ugh. I eventually lost my drop-mate and started catching stragglers but they were burnt and could not help chase. Basically I rode the entire last 50 miles alone. I took in a lot of scenery and wanted to jump in the lakes and streams I was riding by.

I lost 25 minutes on the stage. I had to lay down in the parking lot for about a half hour before I felt ok enough to ride the 12 miles back down to the start line.

After getting back to town I jumped in the Deschutes river. Perfect for leg recovery.

Stage 2: Uphill TT 16 miles. 8 up, 8 down.

Oh, after the 70 mile TT the day before I was not too excited about this race and it was reflected in my results. I could not get my legs to spin all the way up but still managed to catch three riders before the turn-around. Was passed by two but soon caught one back on the way down, where I felt good again and was spun out flying down the mountain. Caught a couple more riders on the way down.

I came in 5:30 minutes behind the leader in 39th place. Now 30 minutes behind on GC.

Stage 3: Downtown crit. 30 minutes.

Almost all of the races I have been in this summer have been crits since I missed most of the road races due to the collarbone break. I thought I could do well. It was very flat and very fast. through the straightaway we were going between 27-30 for the entire race. with 5 to go I moved up as best I could but I was a little late in my move because it took me 4 laps to get near the front. In the last turn there was a crash right in front of me but I avoided it and stood up to sprint but could only manage 15th place. My best placing of the race by over 20 places! A Seattle guy won this Crit, Rob McDaniel. Nice work!

Stage 4: Awbrey butte Circuit Race: 51 miles and another ton of climbing. DON'T GO OFF THE FRONT IDIOT! that is what I told myself over and over. I stuck to plan. There were 2-3 punchy climbs and 2 longer climbs of about 1/2 mile each. first two laps were uneventful but we kept dropping people on each climb. by the time we were on the last lap the lead group was only 15-20 people. I almost crashed in the feed zone by crossing wheels with Rob(crit winner) but I was able to stay up due to unclipping and we were going about 5mph. The small group was still together until the top of the final KOM when a junior jumped and got a small gap, he was reeled in shortly over the top. the climb started to stair-step up-up -up and I made it over all but the last step. there were about 10 guys up the road and 4 in the group I was in. My legs would not go any more, and neither would anyone in the group. we would almost bridge up and then the lead pack would drop us again.

with 1k to go I stood up and started to feel better, I passed 2 of the people in the second group but could not get around the final guy.

I finished 15th place, 30 seconds behind the leader.

In the end I finished 30:46 behind the winner and 44th. A disappointing result indeed. Without the 25 minute loss from the first stage debacle I would have been near the top ten. A hard lesson learned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Can't Be Bought

It's so obvious, but this past weekend, I appreciated the point yet again: the better part of technical skill is the ability to diagnose. And the ability to diagnose is hard to acquire in any way other than by experience.

If you ever listen to Car Talk, you'll hear Click and Clack produce a hilarious repertoire of noises as they try to help their clients close in on the causes of their cars' ills. When our bikes go wrong, we often have to depend on our ears to help us figure out what's wrong.

Of course, this is almost common sense to us. If the noise is coming from directly below us and happens at every pedal stroke, it's probably something with the BB or crank or pedals. If it's coming from behind us or in front of us, and happens every wheel revolution, it's probably something with a rim or brake.

But then there are those more elusive problems. The pinging noise, that you just can't pin down. The noise that seems to come and go with no reference to pedal strokes or wheel revolutions. And of course, the noise that happens only when riding and under extreme load.

And so begins the sad tale of my week.

A couple weeks ago, I replaced my derailleur pulleys, which were worn down to little points. The pulleys I put in were after-market, and after installing them, they appeared a little wobbly on their bushings. Well, I thought, I'll try them and see.

Over the next few days, things were pretty much working OK, but I began to get some chain skips. Before diving into that problem, I checked the chain for wear, and found that it was way, way past replacement. So I put on a new chain and cassette.

When I pedaled under load, I began hearing a pretty loud and constant crumping sound from below me. That's right, "crumping." Like the sound of artillery in the distance. The volume varied by pedal stroke.

I checked that the cranks & BB were OK. No apparent problems there. Could it be the chain? The chain I had put on was labeled as 6/7/8 speed, whereas the chain I had taken off was 7/8. Indeed, the pins of the new chain were a hair longer than on the old chain. There seemed to be plenty of clearance for the chain; nevertheless I put a 7/8 chain on.

Same sound.

Maybe it was those damned pulleys after all (thought the sound was not coming from back there). I swapped in a different RD.

Same sound.

I was getting desperate. My Eggbeaters were pretty wobbly on the their spindles. So, I did the long-overdue overhaul on them.

Same sound.

There was only one thing left to try -- the chain rings. I swapped in a pair of new rings.

And that did it.

That the rings had worn to such an extent that they were virtually incompatible with a new chain says something about how worn I had let the old chain become. And the derailleur pulleys had probably been prematurely worn to points because of the worn chain.

I was not out of the woods yet, though. Now that the crumping sound was gone, I began to hear the pedal-cyclical snap, crackle, and pop that usually means an insufficiently torqued crank arm. So, I made sure the cranks were properly torqued.

No difference.

I took the cranks off, cleaned & greased the interfaces with the BB spindle, and prepared to reinstall them. Now, before I pulled the cranks, the crank puller had a washer behind the pad. I'd always wondered why that was there. After I pulled the cranks, there were two washers. Aha! When pulling cranks, I had neglected to pry out the washer that sits between the crank arm bolt and the crank itself. When subjected to the pressure of the pad, these washers had slipped over it, and were pulled out when I unthreaded the puller from the crank arm. So I had been riding with one crank arm missing a washer, and I was about to start riding with both missing a washer. I swapped in a different pair of bolts, with integrated washers.

And that did it. Now the bike rides quietly, for the first time in a long, long time.

So, this post was nominally about the value of experience in tracking down problems through sound. But an even deeper theme is the problems that arise from deferred maintenance. I am bad at routine maintenance; I generally let things go til something breaks. I tell myself that I do this because it exposes me to a wider range of problems than I would otherwise see with a properly maintained bike. Well, maybe that's true. How many bike owners keep their bikes properly maintained, and bring them into a bike shop before something goes wrong. But a large part of the reason I let things go is, to be honest, laziness.

OK, that's the end of this sordid tale of sex, violence, and greed.

Mr. Farrar in Netherlands

Our hometown (almost) hero has nailed the GC in a European stage race.

Can't wait to see how he does in this year's Tour.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It Was Hagens Berman's Day at Mt. Hood

Our hometown team shone at Mt. Hood today.

Sam Johnson came in 2nd in the men's race. And that force of nature, Jennifer Wheeler, won the women's race. More here...

Monday, May 24, 2010

A little race report.

Enumclaw stage race. I was very excited for this race for a few reasons.

#1 I love racing
#2 It was a timed event rather than points. My first.
#3 New Trek team time trial bike with all aero everything.
#4 Jennifer Wheeler SuperStar is going to be racing this as her first race back after collarbone surgery.
#5 love racing multi-day races
#6 Climbing Mud Mountain Road 3x fast

First race: a 6.5 mile TT

Warmed up pretty good and got in line on time without mechanical issues and no stress beforehand. First time this year!
Took off into a headwind that made me hurt and go into the red in about a half-mile. My 30 second man was still in sight and I was slowly gaining on him. He turned right to go down the backstretch and I lost sight of him for a little bit. The headwind was now gone and I felt really fast. Caught my 30 second man a little before the halfway point. I had to wait to pass him for a second due to a sharp turn. Then I caught sight of my next carrot, my 1 minute man. I caught him before 2k to go and tried to catch one more guy before the line but I could not.

My time was 15:36, good for 20th place and only 3 seconds faster than last year. I had no TT gear last year. Must have been a really strong headwind, broken collarbone, water on ground, excuse, excuse. I was only ~50 secs. out of first in GC. My only teammate in the CAT4 group Nick Z. had a time good for 39th place. 1:30 back on GC. Jen W. got 3rd in the time trial for the 1/2 women's field. Not bad for her first race back.

Scary 8 turn downtown Criterium.

This course was fun last year, this year it scared me due to my new severe aversion to crashing. I placed 9th and got one of the points primes last year.

The sun came out and dried the course right before the start. Awesome!
With it being a timed event my plan was to just stay safe and finish with the pack, maybe go for a time bonus prime. They only called up the top ten but I managed a spot in the second row. For a second. Two juniors from the rad racing team pointed their wheels in front of mine then when we started one of them could not get clipped in until turn 2 and I was stuck behind him sending me to the back of the pack almost immediately. grr. I spent the next 25 minutes working really hard to move up. I got stuck behind several crashes, no close calls for me. My initial goal of finishing with the pack in jeopardy, I did not want to lose time. My average speed for the 30 minutes was 27MPH. I managed to catch back on to the front group in the last 3 laps but had nothing for the sprint and finished 19th.

I moved up from 20th to 15th on GC. A bunch of guys got dropped or pulled or crashed out. My teammate finished a few places behind me and improved his GC place to 33rd.
Then we watched the brutal conditions for the CAT3 men's race. Miserable pouring rain and wind. Jen W got dropped from the lead group due to her strong aversion to crashing and the course was soaking wet.

44 mile Road Race w/3 times up Mud Mountain Road.

It was pouring rain the entire drive to the start. I warmed up a little bit on the trainer and bundled up as much as I could. My car said it was 44 degrees at the start of the race. We started with a neutral rollout of about 3 miles, just long enough and slow enough to really get cold. Please let the climb come soon so I can stop shivering. My hands and feet were already soaking wet before the first time up the climb.

My teammate Nick kept the pace really fast up the climb and we lost at least half of the group the first time up it. I almost lost contact with the lead group but dug really deep and caught back on at the top of the climb. Ouch. I was warm for about 3 minutes until we turned to descend back into town on highway 410. Where I started to freeze again, shivering so much my steering was affected. Scary stuff at 40 MPH. There was a crash and the guy was lucky it was so wet on the road, he just slid off to the side. Luckily nobody hit him or his bike or it would have been a mess.

Climb 2 was a welcome sight due to the need to warm up again. We still had a large front group of about 20. A couple guys took off in a break but they were brought back on the base of the climb, once again Nick hammered up the hill and we lost a few more people off the back. I kept contact all the way up. 410 was uneventful except for the shivering.

Climb 3 was once again welcome for warming up. Nick blasted up the hill and had a 15 second gap with one other guy at the top but we got neutralized at the top so almost all the people that were dropped on the climb came together again. GRRR. So many people were really mad about that. They let Nick and his breakmate have a 15 second head start so it would be fair to him. Not so much for the rest of the group that worked so hard to drop people though. Nick hammered it all the way back to town, eventually dropped his breakmate and won the road race. I didn't know the finish straight and jumped way too early and got caught on a little hill and had nothing for the final sprint. I came in 22nd with the pack time. Nick finished 30 seconds ahead of the pack.

Results were taking forever to get posted so I went up to the top of the climb to watch other and cheer on the higher CAT guys and girls. I watched about 4 laps and decided to pack up and head home.

Just for fun on the way back through I checked the results. My name was way up near the top??? I finished 9th on GC. IN THE MONEY! Over a third of what I paid to race! Nick finished in 11th just outside of the money but he won some for the Road Race win. So awesome.

Jennifer Wheeler had a really strong road race and led up the climb every time, her race came to a sprint at the end and she came in second. I think she finished 5th on GC.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This and That (And the Perils of Gardening)

I see that Chad and JWheeler are back, both racing in the Enumclaw Stage Race this weekend. Will be eager to learn how they do ...hint! hint!

Last weekend was in Oakland area for daughter's graduation. Wow!! This young lady, graduating with honors, and headed to Columbia University in the fall for grad studies -- is this the same one who was rebelling so obstinately four years ago?! She now defines herself in her own terms, not in terms of her parents.

While in Oakland, had the opportunity to visit Cycle Sports, the LBC that guided my daughter through a bike purchase. Good folks.

Bike-wise, this was a week I'd rather forget. Not because of anything that happened to me, but:

1) serious accident involving a West Seattle cyclist;
2) rain;
3) Floyd Landis. Fucker. Enough said.

Finally, yesterday, I injured myself ... gardening. This is weird. I was pulling at a clump of weeds that would not give. Finally, I got a good grip, braced myself, and gave it everything I had. And I felt something go "sproinggggg!!!!" in my ribcage, and felt like someone had kicked me in the abdomen, knocking the breath out of me. Now, pain, As if I've got broken ribs. This kind of thing has happened to me before, when I got overly enthusiastic on a leg curl machine. My wife just looks at me, shakes her head, and says: "core strength."

Rod, how come when you garden, you produce a bounty, and when I garden, I end up a gimp? Not fair, not fair!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Luck Than Anyone Deserves

This morning, as I was riding down the hills of West Seattle, I felt my brakes were not stopping me as quickly as I'd like. As I arrived at the base of the West Seattle Bridge, I told myself -- there's only one more downhill -- I'll wait til I get to work to adjust the brakes. But then, for some reason, I stopped anyway, and adjusted both brakes, before going over the bridge.

I was down on the "lid" that covers the branch of the Duwamish east of Harbor Island. Without looking, a pedestrian stepped out into my path, just a few feet ahead of me. I had no time to think, just braked. And stopped just short of her.

Cars don't scare me. What really scares me is the possibility of hitting a pedestrian. Like that cyclist who collided with the elderly pedestrian on the Cedar River Trail in Renton, killing her. Right or wrong, I would be seriously guilt-ridden if I ever collided with a pedestrian.

Anyway, I'm humbled. And I have my cosmic, possibly divine answer to the rhetorical question: "What could happen between here and there?"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tyler Would Look Good in Pink

Tyler Farrar, our man from Wenatchee, won today's sprint finish in the Giro's 2nd stage, into Utrecht. He is 1 second out of the maglia rosa, currently held by Cadel Evans.

Tomorrow is a pancake-flat stage.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saluting Mssrs. Pottier & Newcomer

Some of you know Nic, one of our contributors. He generously entrusted me with overhauling his CK hub, He built up a beautiful fixie on a Peugot frame. He rode it to Portland. In in one day. In jeans.

He's also an ueber-developer, with whom I've had the wholly undeserved privilege to work.

Nic, and his friend Eric, are moving to Rwanda to start their own software company.

I am bursting with admiration. I may talk the talk, but Nic and Eric walk the walk.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My return to bike racing.

I have been out of bike racing since my collarbone was broken in a race on March 13th. I have done a couple of the local Seward park races in the last couple weeks to prepare for a "real" race.

I finished in the top 20 in the first one, it was scary and I spent quite a bit of time at the back being skittish and over-reacting to every move in front of me. There was a crash behind me at one point and I spent the next 5 laps with a 5 foot bubble around me. I managed to get back into it at the end and didn't die or get dropped. Goal accomplished!

The second Seward park race I felt a little better and actually led for a few laps and spent the whole race near the front and was just off the lead group at the finish but still finished in the top ten. Not quite as scary as the first one. I still have not fully tried out my left arm and really sprinted with full power.

A "real" Race!
Much to the chagrin of my wife Robin, I signed up for the Michelob Ultra circuit race, a new race in an old location. We had a race out there in Glenwood last year but it was a different course. The course is a 6 mile loop with what feels like 1000 feet of climbing per lap but is only about 250. There were 3-4 steep kickers and one longish climb, then a downhill finish.

I drove to W. Seattle got on to the ferry and then rode to the race as a warm up. It is about 12 miles from Southworth to the start line. A good amount of climbing too. ~1200 feet.

This course is conducive to a break getting away and staying away due to the hills, I had one teammate and he was up near the front from the start and attacked pretty much right away but the field quickly pulled him back in. On the third lap I got near the front and attacked on a climb and very quickly got a gap but only one guy came with me, oh well, have to work with what we have. We hammered along for one lap before we got caught and rejoined the group. I stayed near the front for the final two laps but in my head was thinking there was no way I was going to contest the sprint. I moved to the left side to get ready for the sprint, still pretty close to the front. We made the right turn onto the final straight and the speed increased to 30+ within a couple hundred meters. We passed the 1km to go sign and there was a crash directly on my right, ACK! a bike was on the ground in front of me but I had an "out" into the oncoming lane. I used it, then there was another guy on the ground in front of me, I had to go almost to the opposite gutter to avoid him. I had to really push it to catch back up to the lead group, I passed a few people at 200m to go. I was really freaked out by the crash and its proximity to me. I never stood up in the sprint but managed to be going 40MPH at the finish and grabbed 7th place.

I met my first goal, no crashes. My second goal, don't get dropped. My long shot goal, top 10.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How Not To Design A Freehub

A couple of weeks ago, after climbing up the steep switchback on Myrtle here in West Seattle, I stopped to wait for traffic, and then tried to start again. The cranks spun freely, not engaging anything, as if I had dropped my chain. But my chain was still in place. Turns out the pawls on my freehub were not engaging the hub shell.

When I removed the freehub, this is what I found. Unlike the other freehubs I've examined, in which each pawl is pushed up against the shell with its own spring, this hub had all the pawls held in place and tensioned with a single spring. The springs sits in the groove that goes around the circumference of the freehub base. That spring had broken in two places.

The result was complete failure with no warning. With other hubs I've owned, as each pawl failed, it led to a decrement in performance (e.g., skipping), which gave me a warning that something was wrong, but let me get home.

The hub is branded Velocity, and it's one of the very, very few sub-$350 130mm disc hubs on the market. (Why oh why didn't I invest in that Chris King? Will I never learn?). I can barely navigate through the Velocity website, much less find a replacement spring.

I've e-mailed Velocity -- we'll see if they can get me a replacement.

If not, I'm going to try to fabricate a replacement spring. I bought a couple of different kinds of spring wire, and I'll try shaping the wire and curing it in my oven at its highest temperature. If that doesn't work, I may ask Seattle Pottery Works to fire it in one of their kilns.

If the fabrication experiment doesn't work, I may try to fit in traditional independent pawl springs -- I think there's enough room in the indentation.

Tony Judt, ALS, and Seattle Cycling

My name is Ted, and I am a biblioholic.

Aside from riding & working on bikes, my greatest pleasure is reading. I have books, dog-eared and half-read, stashed around the house like an alcoholic has bottles of cheap booze.

Since my work life doesn't involve reading (or, for that matter, thinking, or a soul), I subscribe to, and avidly digest, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, to give me pointers to new material. Through these publications, I've gotten to read some work by historian Tony Judt, especially his periodic reminiscent essays in the NYRB.

In the last-but-one issue of NYRB, I found this letter:

As many of you know, I am afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. For the past year now I have been wheelchair-bound and dependent on a breathing apparatus. This has not prevented me from working, but the disease is progressive and deadly—and there is no known cure.

ALS is a degenerative neuromuscular disorder of the motor neurons: it is related to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as lesser-known neurological disorders. A cure for it will almost certainly come from research in the field of cell genetics—whether via stem cell research or molecular biology. But the science is complicated and expensive. In order to attract funding we need to draw the widest possible attention to this deadly disease and its impact.

I am writing to you today about Move for ALS. My former student and young friend Saul Goldberg is planning to cycle with Augustin Quancard from Seattle to New York City to draw attention to ALS and to raise money for Project A.L.S., which supports scientific research seeking a cure to this disease. I am very enthusiastic about Move for ALS, both because I keenly second its objectives and because I am hugely impressed by the professionalism and seriousness of the two young men involved. They have established a substantial campaign Web site ( that has already attracted the attention and backing of Web and print media, as well as the support of professional medical organizations.

I am fully supporting this venture and urge you to join me. If you access the Web site you will see how easy it is to make a donation to the cause, with attractive gifts on offer to substantial donors. Or you could simply send a check with clear reference to Move for ALS to: Project A.L.S., 3960 Broadway, Suite 420, New York, NY 10032, USA. I would be grateful and take it as a sign of support if you would be good enough to forward this letter to any interested parties. If you have direct access to media or Web outlets (e.g., blogs) where you could give further publicity to our campaign, this would be especially helpful to us. Saul is making a huge personal contribution to the challenge posed by this catastrophic disease: please do anything you can to support him.

Tony Judt New York City

For more information on Saul Goldberg's campaign, see or To get in touch with the riders, contact

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Woman Needs A Bicycle Like A Man Needs A Fish

Or, whatever.

Dave Longdon has a great write-up on the fast-rising women's local road racing scene, in which he highlights the roles of veteran mentors like Gina Kavesh and Martha Walsh.

I have a daughter, graduating from college this year. She has a bike and she's strong. Her life is wide-open ahead of her, and I know she'll try many wonderful things. I hope that if she ever decides to try bike racing, she'll have access to a mentor like Gina or Martha.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Super fast girl on my team looking for help!

This is a post for my friend and training partner(before I got hurt) Jennifer Wheeler.
She is really, really fast on her bike. She has won every race she has entered this year, by several minutes. She is known to break away at mile 0 and stay away the entire race. She has just barely been racing for one year.

Here is her story and website.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Race Report Injured reserve category San Francisco edition.

I had a plan going in to the Chad San Fran Gran Fondo. Stay away from the pack. Stay away from the cable cars. Basically I was going to try to ride off the front the entire race.

I felt good going in since I am on two weeks rest. But I have no sprint. I broke away as soon as I signed the rental agreement. My plan worked flawlessly until about halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge where I was caught and passed, no big deal, they'll die in the hills. Once the road started to go up in Marin County I gritted my teeth and went all out to pass the group on the climb. Success! I dropped them like they were wearing jeans and riding a rented bike with one arm in a sling. After they cracked I took in the scenery and rode it back home for the win.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Race report.

Michael van Dijken and I were the only HB on hand for this one. Michael had a plan and we stuck to it.

Simple plan, stay up front, try to keep it faster than 16mph and cover breaks. It worked well.

A couple guys went away right from the start, they stayed away for about two laps, when they came back, attacks started. Michael rode like a man possessed, taking long pulls, generally taking charge of the front of the race. On the third lap I took a trip off the front attacking up and over the second hill just as a one-man break was getting caught. I stayed away for only a short time, it was just too windy. I went and hid in the pack to recover for the sprint.

I noticed in previous laps that the finish was downhill and had a crosswind, so I positioned myself on the left to stay out of the wind for the sprint. It worked perfectly, with the exception of I could have moved up a few more positions before the sprint really started. When it did start I passed about 5 guys and was really just getting going, had a lot left in my legs. I got 5th. I could have pushed it and got a better result but it didn't feel safe. Michael finished further back in the pack, a job very well done. He did a lot of work. Bravo!

Then I don"t know what the hell happened. Somebody slowed down in front of me and someone behind me did NOT. We got hung up and I was thrown to the ground. Everything I was wearing was ruined, kit cut off of me at the hospital. Lazer helmet did a fantastic job keeping my head safe. I got a good 2 races out of it. Does Lazer make a clavicle helmet?

Sum total:

van Dijken is a superstar.
I have a broken collarbone, ksyrium and carbon bars.
I have an extra right time titanium titan rxs pedal, left didn't make it.
I love bike racing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Face On A Bus

I was riding behind a bus on 3rd today, when I looked up, and what should I see but Dave Longdon's smiling face on a Seattle PI ad on the back of the bus? Yep, that's our Dave Longdon, the Starbucks rider who was ridden off the road by a careening minivan on Rt. 202.

He's got his pain face on. Go, Dave!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top 7 Reasons to Dread Replacing Spokes

I've had a run of bad luck with spokes lately, and now I'm two bikes down in my stable. Time to pay the piper and fix some wheels...

Why do I dread spoke replacement so much? It's not that complicated. It doesn't seem rational. But here's why I think I avoid it like the plague:

  • There are always more spoke issues than I thought. Sure one spoke broke. But 3 others are bent or gouged. If I'm going to the trouble or replaceing one, might as well do everything that needs it. But a little job just got much bigger.
  • Rim tape. I hate removing perfectly good rim tape just to get at one spoke. Guess this is just me being cheap/picky. Does anyone spot-cut out old tape just at the spokes being replaced?
  • Getting the right replacement spoke at a LBS is difficult. The bike techs are usually nonchalant about finding an exact replacement spoke when I bring the broken one in. "This is pretty close." Rarely is it an exact match. With a recent spoke breakage on my MTB, on close inspection, I'm realizing this is a spoke I replaced a few years ago, and the butting clearly does not match that on the original spokes. Probably why it always creaked and finally snapped. Sigh.
  • Spoke wrenches. Never found one I really like that doesn't tend to round the nipples. Please someone recommend a wrench they use and like!
  • Spoke prep. Do I need it? I know I can get away without it, but am I making the job harder and will it have less longevity? I think the issue here is that I have never used it, but then I worry that since I didn't use it, I somehow screwed something up...
  • "It takes brass nipples to sell real estate." - Glengarry Glen Ross (sort of). Alloy nipples suck. Never again. I have an MTB wheelset that was obviously built to be light, but never again would I opt for alloy nipples. They are too soft. They round, strip, and crack so easily it's a crime. Maybe these wheels just used the crappiest alloy nipples on the market. But it's brass for me from here on out.
  • Truing. And More truing. I actually don't mind wheel truing. I kind of like it. But if I'm replacing 4 spokes, must I re-true the wheel after replacing each new spoke? This takes a long time, but it seems less risky than replacing 4 at once and truing once. What do you do?
There you have it. As I head to the bike shop this evening, hoping for the best, in the back of my mind, I know it will be painful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A few of my Latest races

So the race season is now 2 weekends old. I have three stories(excuses) about my performance.

The first race was the Frostbite Time Trial in Everett.
Flat 9 mile out and back course that I had high hopes of doing well in. Long sob story short, I don't think my road bike-->TT bike conversion is going to work out. I dropped my chain at 2 seconds until start. I got it back on in 1 second.
I passed 6 people and got passed by 1. I don't feel like I can generate power in the position and I think my brake was rubbing on every pedal stroke. Couldn't get the bike over 28 mph, I can regularly get it up over 30 in practice. Waaaa.
I placed 25th.

So, I entered another TT after correcting the brake rubbing issue. 10 miles out and back on windy farm roads. After warming up on the trainer for about 20 minutes I put my tubular rear wheel on and got a puncture 2 minutes before my start. Had to go with my spare wheel. Was able to quickly get the bike up to 30+ but couldn't hold it and maybe I just need to train more on TT/power endurance. I came in 32nd. It hurt.
Picture of my legs crying below.

Mason Lake Road Race #1 48 miles
Sunday March 7th was the 1st real road race, I love road races and that's what I do all the time ride on the road. I fixed the puncture of the tubular from the day before and made a decision to go with it at the last second and lined up. About 70 guys started this race. It is notorious for crashes and jittery early season legs.
It took me about two laps to trust my rear wheel due to the puncture but I figured it would hold and I had wheels in the wheel car. So I finally made my way up to the front and started stirring up trouble, it was like I kicked a bee's nest. Awesome, this is racing. It was on a windy stretch of road with a couple rollers I started to take off up the right side and people started yelling "rider on the right" and people started jumping on my wheel and we started a paceline to make a break but I guess the attack wasn't hard enough. It didn't stick. But it certainly woke everyone up and attacks started coming, I love this sport. I chased down a couple people off the front but always dragged people with me. I need to work on my jump.

So that went on for about a lap leaving us on the last lap. It started to get painfully slow at about 5k to go and there was a wreck in the field ahead of us and we got neutralized until the aid car went by. Blech. I was still in the top ten up front, almost right at the 1k to go sign there was a wreck right in front of me(a beautiful Pinarello Prince) I avoided it and managed to catch back on to the leaders. Awesome, I am thinking I am in great shape for the sprint. At the very last turn, 200 meters to go I am looking for wheels and a guy slammed into my rear wheel and knocked it out of the dropout and threw me into the oncoming lane. I didn't crash. somehow. When I looked back at my wheel I didn't notice that my wheel came OUT. I tried to fix it really quick, couldn't. Had a little mini-tantrum in the middle of the road. Put my wheel back on, caught a couple guys, sprinted to 31st place. I have the worst luck. Vaughn will blame the Pinarello.

Pain face:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Alki

This morning, Carol & I were taking a short stroll on Alki before I drove her to the airport for a week's business travel. There, we met a seal-watcher. She was calling in a seal that was lying on the rocks just below the deck where we stood. We were no more than 30 feet away from this one. It was tan-colored. She said that was the color of juveniles, but this one looked like it was at least a young adult. It was not in distress. If anything, it looked like it was trying to find someplace to take a snooze, and perhaps to get away from the divers who were in the coves today.

We also discussed the juvenile eagle that's been hanging around Alki. On Thursday evening, as I was riding past Salty's, my eye was caught by the seeming disproportion of a crow that was landing to take a drink from a puddle that had formed at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Fairmount. It took me a moment to realize this was no crow. I stopped right across from the eagle, no more than 15 feet away. It took flight again as cars approached in the opposite lane, and roosted in a nearby tree. I could think of no more appropriate word for it than the most common: it was majestic.

What a gift.


I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.
So says a drunk and far-fallen Inigo Montoya when he is found by his giant friend and co-kidnapper Fezzik (now gainfully employed in the brute squad).

When things go wrong, you go back to the beginning.

And so, I've gone back to the beginning. I've again made riding pretty much the center of my life. All my projects that have ended up stalled and half done -- frame-building, mechanics, getting into the bike business, bike advocacy -- I've put them aside. Now the measure of my day is how long and how well I ride. Riding keeps me sane and healthy, and I can't afford to have it pushed off-center by all these other things. I've ridden every day since Thanksgiving (on the trainer, if not outside).

And it's a great weekend for riding. Today, maybe Vashon Island in the afternoon. Tomorrow, maybe parts of the Chuckanut Century route in Bellingham. I'm coming off a cold, and am a little weak, so this may be ambitious.

Anyway, I hope you all get a chance to get out this weekend.

Tyler 3rd in Omloop!!

Just woke up & saw the initial reports on -- Tyler Farrar of Wenatchee took 3rd in Omloop Het Niewsblad. Juan Antonio Flecha took 1st in a solo break, followed by Heinrich Haussler, so I assume Tyler won the bunch sprint.
It's going to be a great season!

Your turn, Chad. Good luck in Everett.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Road Racing Season is here!

I hope you all have been riding through the springter we've been having.

It has been so nice, I got to take my fenders off at least twice!

The first races are already going on in Oregon and this weekend marks the start of racing in Washington with the Frostbite Time Trial in Everett on the 28th.
I'll be in it and I hope to ride my bike really fast!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pinarello Dogma Taken in Armed Robbery from Issaquah Bike Shop

Yeah, at first reading, it looks unremarkable, but a second later you say "huh?"

Seattle PI reports an apparently planned robbery of a Pinarello Dogma, involving a gun.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Sunday In Hell

Was listening to a story on NPR this morning about the destruction of Jacmel, the artist community in Haiti. The story mentioned that Jørgen Leth,the Danish filmmaker, a resident of Jacmel, barely escaped with his life.

Leth, you may recall, is the creator of perhaps the most well-known documentary about bike racing, A Sunday In Hell, an intimate portrait of Paris-Roubaix. Actually, my favorite Leth film is the lesser-known Stars and Watercarriers, which documents an edition of the Giro d'Italia.

Anyway, my understanding is that Jacmel, like many other outlying communities, has not yet received aid because the major relief organizations are concentrating their efforts in Port-au-Prince, where the need is the greatest.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Replacing worn out stuff: Pinarello Paris.

In preparing for the upcoming road season I am replacing all the stuff that gets worn out or makes noise or is just dangerous on the Pinarello.

Cables and brake pads - easy and standard ~50 dollars and a couple hours.

The BB had me worried as I have taken it to a couple shops and they gave me a blank look.
I dove in to the BB project myself a couple days ago. This BB was created after someone thought up BB30 but before they had actually created the parts. It is basically 2 bearings pressfit into the frame and then two aluminum CNC'd adapters to match the spindle of the crank.

I recently noticed a little bump in my steering and realized my headset has outlived its usefulness. This bump probably didn't help when I crashed on a bus tunnel grate a couple days ago. GRRR. This project really scared me, as it turns out it is basically 2 bearings pressfit into the frame, the bore just happens to match the size of the steertube.

Here is the best part. How much would you expect to pay for a replacement pinarello headset and BB? 100? 200? Way off. All four of the bearings mentioned above are the same size. All readily available. I got 4 for 30 dollars, shipped, thanks ebay!. I created my own bearing press fit tool out of a threaded rod, some nuts and some washers.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bike Juju's List of African & Latin American Bike Projects

I know, I know -- it's late for donations. But if you're like me, you get around to everything about 3 months late. So, now, inspired by Carol, I've been trying to find a micro-lending project that's specifically about bikes. No luck on Kiva, but the search goes on.

In the meantime, ran across Bike Juju's curated list of bike projects in Latin America and Africa.