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