Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wow, Did I Take The Wrong Bike

And my clavicle agrees.

I was about 1-1/2 miles from my house and 50' down the trail when I realized that I'd brought the wrong bike.  I was 100' down the trail when I laid the bike down the first time.  At this point I almost made the decision to ride back and get a bike with studded tires... but I was late.  I had opted for the fat bike because the trails had been so soft and their condition was unknown.  Ultimatly I decided I could do it and I'd just be careful.  It turns out a nice aggressively studded bike would have been an ideal bike for the day.

The lake crossing was fine, a little slick.  The climb on the other side, I walked, I probably would have anyway.  The trails after that were slicky and tricky with the ice laden overhanging trees grabbing at my helmet light often. 
Ice Laden Overhanging Trees
 At one point my front wheel was sliding down an icy rut and I looked to my left to see my rear wheel trying to accelerate past me.  A fallen tree grabbed my shoelace and came along for the ride until I'd had enough so I set the bike down, laughing.  Then a bad thing happened, the trail got better.  And better trails mean higher speed and more confidence, wrong!  So then I crashed.  It wasn't a terribly spectacular crash but I'd say it was a pretty hard one.

As I was on the ground collecting myself, trying to asses the damage I though "Shit" I just got a whole bunch of new cycling gear and I hope I haven't mangled myself too much to use it.  After a minute or so I was back up, picking up the pieces of my rear light and pressed on.  I even decided to cautiously take the trails the rest of the way.  I did say that they got better, and it's hard to pass up good winter riding.

Taking off my riding gear was a chore.  (It was about 12 degrees and 2 layers of sweaty jerseys don't come off that easy).  Looking in the mirror confirmed that my shoulder was F-ed (Fouled) up.  I spent the morning thinking it was dislocated.  I even tried a few things to put it back in - I stopped that pretty quick.  A trip to quick care revealed the real problem.

Stop Skipping Ahead to the Pictures, I'm Not Real Happy About This

I'll be off the bike for a few weeks and probably off slippery trails for a few more.  Shit.

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Over The Lake Commute

I set out on Saturday riding the bike with the new Ice Spiker Pro Evo tires and a backpack full of skates and an ice axe (AKA roofing hammer).  Of course, when I say full, I mean 2 'cause they're big.  The lake had sections of ice that had been frozen for a while and sections that had just frozen within the past few days.  The old ice was plenty thick.  The new ice was the kind of pure black ice with no bubbles or cracks that makes it look like open water.  At first rode around the old sections on the bike surveying the situation.  On the back side of an island I traded my bike for skates and started hacking test holes in the pure ice.  I found a good 3" of pure black ice in every hole.
Skating and riding was PERFECT.

After some skating around I traded the skates for the bike again and rode my normal route across the lake to make sure it was all solid.  I must say, the Ice Spiker tires really bite into the ice.  Sharper turns would produce some slippage but overall they gave an extremely confident feel and that totally satisfying sound that they were clawing into the ice.

Unfortunately, my reconnaissance mission was necessary because 24 hours later the lake was covered with a foot of snow.  Determined to get out and try my other new set of tires on the Pugsley (More on that some other time when conditions allow for a good evaluation )  I took the lake route on Monday anyway, knowing I'd be pushing my way across the lake.  I was not disappointed, I had to push my way across the lake.  The camp roads were a pleasant packed powder until I got to treated roads that covered me with a sloppy salty grime.

Mmm Hot Coffee,  My Pants & Jacket Looked Similar.
Those keeping track will notice that I've spent the equivalent of a BMW payment on bike tires.  Good thing all our cars are paid for and they're not BMWs.  Priorities!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Determination, or something like that.  After yesterday's slightly disappointing, maybe just enlightening fatbike ride I decided to do it again.  I'll save the charts and graphs.  The temp when I left was 1F.  Today I had my own packed path to follow as well as some tire tracks in another area so the ride was faster.  Of course the best part was the sunrise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fatbike Vs Studded 29er

You would think that a fatbike would be the tool to take on a snowy ride.  Again, I don't agree.  I want the fatbike to be as fun as everybody makes it out to be, I really do.

Stock Photo, this isn't even the 9er and there isn't this much snow yet.

Same trail, about the same temp, about the same snow conditions which are about 3-4" of unconsolidated snow over bare ground.

Yesterday: GT Senser 9er w/Nokian extreme tires.  I'm not going to say it was an easy ride in but I only had to put my foot down once (OK, maybe twice if you count getting thrown off the trail by a frozen rut).  Even through the going was hard the skinny tires cut through the snow and the aggressive rear tread gave enough traction to get up the hills.  The biggest downside was that the tire would cut through the snow to the invisible ruts and knock you off course.
Not an easy ride but I managed 6.1MPH.

Today: Surly Pugsley with a Larry/Endo combo inflated so there was slight sidewall bulging when riding on pavement.  How many PSI?  I'm not sure.  My pump said about 2 but it's old and the scale goes to 200.  I'd guess around 8psi.  If felt like the front tire was plowing more snow than the 2.1" Nokian.  For the uphill sections the Endo would loose traction and spin out far sooner than the aggressive tread on the studded tires.  On the spots that had been packed at all this bike floated over the snow better where the skinny tires had a tendency to dig in and wash out.

Seemingly a better tool for the job, 5.3MPH
So the data clearly shows that I was faster on the non-fat bike.  Somehow I don't think Strava's power calculations took into account that I was riding through snow covered trails.  61 Watts, jeesh.  Looking back to rides before the snow I usually manage about 9MPH on this section of trail.

Fat-bikers, please comment.  I really want to get the most out of my fat-bike.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

The sunrise this morning was super awesome, even more awesome than this but I decided not to trespass on somebody's camp beach to capture it.
Dawn's Early Light

 For my hunting friends, I'm pretty sure I could have bagged and tagged this big girl and her 2 friends in the woods.  They didn't seem concerned with my presence.
One Deer

Plus Two Deer
Stop Ignoring Me, I'm Trying to Get a Picture.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

We rode through the woods in the dark
The trees are starting to look stark
Not showing her fear
Stands a pretty young deer
Soon she'll only eat bark

Monday, October 28, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Sunrise on the lips
Moments hang in the balance
Night turns to day

The obligatory picture with a bike in it.
Time lapse Daybreak: These pictures are about 10 seconds apart.
Sun is Showing

Sun is Cresting

Sun is Up!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Got to enjoy some great fall foliage before the sun came up over the horizon.

Oooh, Orange!

A road to nowhere, Actually, the road to work if you are lucky.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Dempsey Challenge 2013

Thank you all for the support on The Dempsey Challenge!  
This year I raised $1030 (Make that $1130, thanks Jim!) for the cause with the help of all my supporters.  The ride was good, no issues after a trashed tire before the start.  Now I know why I throw in a spare for these rides.
One Small Piece Of Glass, One Large Cut In a Tire

The 100, 70, 50 & 25 Mile Starters Have Left!

Patrick Dempsey Was There Too

I'm Going to Admit, I'm a Little Tired Here

I got a Chainring Tattoo on My Pepper Tattoo

Stick a Lobster and a Beer in Me, I'm Done!

Stats: 102.5 Miles at a moving average of 17.5MPH.  Just about 6 hours & a few minutes from crossing the starting line to crossing the finish line.  I think I ate 4 PB&J sandwiches, some cookies, a banana and some (a lot of) trail mix on the ride.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Eight Bikes in Eight (Calendar) Days

This probably doesn't entertain anybody but me.  Since 7 Bikes In 7 Days I've added another bike which totally changes things.  For one, I have more bikes than there are days in the week.  OK, maybe that's it.  But I have 8 bikes now and I need to show them all love.

Friday, September 27 - GT Sensor 9er Elite.  The ride in was an awesome pre-dawn trail commute that I got to share with my wife and the ride home was an all out race through the trails.  That Sensor can move!
Saturday, September 28 - Scott CR1 Comp.  I rode this bike in the 60 mile "Not Dead Yet" ride to support the Cancer Community Center in Portland.  It was a nearly perfect day for a ride.  We started out en-masse and the whole group stuck together for most of the ride.  At each rest stop we dropped off a few more riders.  I was sticking to the back of the pack just enjoying the ride.  By the last rest stop we had lost all but myself and 2 other riders.  By the end of the ride I hadn't dismounted my bike for the whole 62 miles and we had averaged 20mph!

Saturday, September 28 - Felt F4X. This is where the calendar days part comes in.  I took off to meet my wife who was running back from the event.  Since I expected to hit some dirt roads I took the Felt.

Sunday, September 29 - Rest Day

Monday, September 30 - Surly Pugsley.  This was another early morning trail commute with my wife.  I hadn't taken the fatbike out in a while and it would keep our speeds similar.  It was also the first ride on the bike with my cheap heavy suspension seat post which has just about the same give as the aging disks in my back but is much easier to replace.  The ride home was really slow but I did find a freshly cut trail that adds an interesting mile to the trails!

Tuesday, October 1 - Univega Viva Sport.  I knew I would be carpooling to the hospital in the afternoon to see my new niece and this bike comes apart pretty easy.

Wednesday, October 2 - GT Sensor 1.0.  I really like this bike too.  I took the new trail because I couldn't help myself...In both directions.  I think I saw deer in 7 different places (not pictured)
Thursday, October 3 - Bridgstone MB-3.  This was the day that I decided to go for 8 in 8.  This probably wouldn't have been my choice of bike otherwise.  It's kind of slow and heavy and it felt that way.  The fact that the back tire only had about 20 psi didn't help.  This one will make a bigger appearance as the weather turns foul. 

Friday, October 4 - Surly Cross Check.  Rounding out the 8 in 8 week.  I made sure to pump up the tires before I set out.  I still felt a little slow but I think that's just me.  This is normally my rain bike but it hasn't rained here in about 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

The fall colors are coming out and the morning rides are starting in the dark.  This morning's ride brought me past 3 deer (not pictured) 
I admit, the picture's not the best but the ferns are pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dempsey Challenge 2013

This will be my 5th year doing the challenge!  I haven't missed one yet.  With your donations I have raised $6270 to help people struggling with cancer.

Donate Here!  

The Deadline is coming right up so don't wait.

Here's a summary of years gone by:
  • Year - Mileage - Bike - Amount Raised 
  • 2009 - 50 - Univega Viva Sport - $840
    • My first BIG group ride, pretty exciting!  I was so cute back them, I thought this ride was long.
  • 2010 - 100 - Univega Viva Sport  - $2550
    • My first century, also exciting!  Even though I have been biking more I had never ridden this far and was a little worried about riding for that long.  I was pretty proud to be riding it on my almost 30 year old bike. This was also the year I lost my dad to cancer
  • 1011 - 100 - Scott CR1- $1660
    • My fastest century, still exciting.  This was the year I set out to see how fast I could go.  I remember the temps hitting near 90 in October.
  • 1012 - 100 - Surly Cross Check $1220
    • My slowest century, less exciting.  I decided to do the ride on a slower heavier bike this year, pushed it pretty hard and paid the price.  All's well that ends well.
  • 2013 - 100 - ???? - ????
    • What's it going to be this year?  Let's see, if I can raise $10,000 I'll ride the fatbike around the 100 mile course.  (I feel pretty safe in saying that; but it would be a fun story)
The Dempsey Challenge raises money to support The Patrick Dempsey Center For Cancer Hope & Healing.  In most years they raise around $1,000,000 which goes directly to the center which offers free counseling, care & support to anybody impacted by cancer.  Your donations support local people to help make their lives better at a time when they need support the most.  

Thanks for making a difference!

P.S., I really want to get the jersey which takes a fundraising minimum of $1000!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Loon Echo Trek

I did my first Loon Echo Century over the weekend.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful course.  Actually, the day started out pretty darn foggy but by noon the sun was out and by beer and BBQ time it was warm and clear.  Mrs Candid Cyclist did her second organized 50 mile ride and I'm sure she will be itching to try a century within the next year.
Beer O' Clock
 I spent the first 60+ miles riding with my friend John who was pacing with the lead group for the whole time despite a relatively low number of training miles and a bike that was a little heavier than the average steed in the pack.  We stopped to enjoy 2 of the well stocked rest stops.  Many of the roads in this part of the ride were beautiful traffic free back roads, awesome!  After the second one John was starting to fade on the hills so I bid him farewell and joined the next pack of riders coming by.  I knew Even's Notch was coming up and I like to climb.  The group dropped off and I got to ride the notch by myself.  At the top was a group of riders just starting to descend.  I got "stuck" behind them for the several mile ride down which kept my speed in check but made me think about replacing my brake pads.  I stopped at the rest stop at the bottom of the notch for a quick bite and was off for the last 25 miles.

In this stretch I rode with a group of 3 other riders for a while, then with another rider who was doing the 50mi+ and then alone for the last 10 or so miles.  By the time I crossed the line at 1:55 I thought I might have worked my way up to be the first across from the century riders.  Ultimately I think I was 3rd with a moving average of 18mph for the whole ride.  But it's not a race, it's a ride, Right?  Right, unless you are passive competitive like me.

The after party was great as we hung around to cheer our friends and other riders over the line.  We left in time for a trip to Rene's to by tea and toothpaste.  What a great day!

And for my next trick: I've signed up for the Dempsey Challenge Century.  Donate Here

And that's all I have to say about that.  Actually, it isn't.  We hit the hay by 9:00 and slept until 7:30 the next morning.  I recent sleep record for me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Friday September 13, 2013: A Shameful Day (And a Month In Review)

Not just because it has been 5 weeks since my last post, although that is pretty shameful too considering how many bike related activities have come and gone.  Note that it even took me a few days to post this.

Friday the 13th was shameful because it was the first day in about 2 years that I could have biked to work and didn't, not because I needed the car at work but because I just couldn't haul my ass out of bed.  In my defense, I had stayed out late at a JJ Grey & Mofro concert and didn't get to bed until almost 1:00.  OK, I'm over it.

In other news, I rode in the Great Adventure Challenge and came in 3rd overall, ignoring teams of course, cheaters.(Results), 2nd in my age group and was first at the end of the bike leg, not too shabby.  Unfortunately, it's gone past the statute of limitations to write a full blog on the subject.

This about sums it up.
Lake Region Photography got a lot of good shots that I'm not at liberty to post since I'm to cheap to buy them but you can find them here.

Then came a week of camping, admittedly, the first part of that week had no biking and not much walking.  Coming in third does have it's consequences.  But by Friday I was up for a little hike up Mt Washington.
Awesome Views
Followed on Saturday with a ride up Burnt Meadow Mountain.
And I use the term "Ride" loosely
Since returning from the camping trip my weekends have included 3 Saturday morning group rides with Team Loon of about 40, 50 & 60 miles in preparation for the Loon Echo Trek next weekend.

And lastly but not leastly I "completed" my stable with an amazing machine!  Because I needed another bike.  More on that to come (probably a 12 step program in bike buyers anonymous too).
Felt F4X

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sunset Ride

Sebago Cove
I took a ride around Sebago after work with a stop to visit Grandma on the way.  I was about 1/2 way home when it really started to get dark.  It was kind of nice to ride with the lights as a novelty but I'm not ready to do it full time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Autumn in the Air
Sunlight Warms The Path For Now
Winter Is Coming
Fat Tuesday

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"I'll Be Back in Three Hours"

Epic Cross Bike Ride, 2013

I really thought it would take about 3 hours.  Ride to Portland, fill my water bottle, ride back.  35ish miles, that should take about 3 hours, right.  Wrong!  I forgot to consider riding on trails is a lot slower, riding on unknown trails that aren't well marked is even slower and somehow that 35 miles turned to 58.

I started on the Sebago to Sea trail.   Actually, I didn't.  I started on some singletrack that I thought was the Sebago to Sea trail.
Tasty  Singletrack

That Ends Up At an Awesome Swimming Hole
 Once I found the right road that leads to the sebago to Sea trail it was smooth sailing on about 2 miles of a nice gravel trail, crosses a road and then a few more miles of trails until I hit our local rail trail.  Normally I don't like riding on the MUP because there are so many dog walkers but I pretty much had it to myself.
4 miles of traffic (and mostly pedestrian) free bliss.
 Unfortunately, the Sebago to sea trail isn't finished.  Unfortunately, it isn't well marked where the finished part stops.  So my ride went from asphalt to gravel to crushed rock to railroad ties.  The last transition happened about a mile from anything, odd.  After riding about 1/4 mile over railroad ties on the cross bike I'd had enough when I found a road that cut into a farm.  Bye Bye bumpy trail.
It looks cooler than it rides.
 From there I took some roads until I got to the Stroudwater River Trail which I took to Congress St and made my way to mom's house.  Arriving there unannounced, I discovered that she was where?  Out biking.  Figures.  So I let myself in, said hi to Pooka (the dog) and helped myself to a scoop of Silk Amino Acids Thanks Mom!  
Nice Yard
 At this point it was good that she wasn't home because I had passed my 3 hour mark.  I continued on through the Fore River Sanctuary and then to Evergreen Cemetery Trails.
Jewell Falls
From here I took the roads home and started to re-think my fueling plan for the day - none.  By the time I got home I had ridden 58 miles, about 10 of them on trails and I was tired.  My after ride treat was a glass of Cockeyed Cooper Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine Ale, Thanks Mom!  (birthday present)  I highly recommend it.
Total time: about 5 hours.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Start Of Something New

Today was a special day for commuting.  Not because it was raining.  Not because it was my 133rd day commuting this year or that I just crossed over 3000 miles.  Not because it is Friday and I may take Monday off.  No, today was special because my wife joined me on my ride in.  More accurately, I think I joined her because she was going to ride in with or without me.  I decided to get up about 1/2 hour earlier and ride in with her.
Looks Familiar

Me a few days ago
She had commuted to work several years ago on commute another way day but has new found interest in biking.  The plan is that she will ride a few times during the week when life doesn't get in the way.  Of the days in the summer to start commuting, this one was kind of bleak but the ride wasn't too bad.  We did the 12.5 miles in about 45 minutes.
I have to share my bike parking.  Plenty of room for 2.
I Love You Biker Girl!

Riding in the Rain - 102

I could start with "Riding in the Rain - 101" but that's pretty simple: Get on your bike when it's raining and ride it.  This will be more of an advanced course.  It could also be called "Riding in the Rain Without Being Miserable".  I realize that grammatically there can be only one most important thing but when riding in the rain it turns out that there are several.

Attitude: The first most important thing is to embrace riding in the rain.  If you go out with the dread of getting wet you are already defeated.  I usually ride with headphones but on a nice rainy day it's nice to unplug and listen to the sound of the rain falling.  Traffic free back roads are the best place to do this.  Unplugging also avoids the Fried Ipod Syndrome.  Despite the fact that they are intended to be used for sports (That whole iPod / Nike+ thing), iPods aren't even remotely, minutely or incidentally water resistant.  Trust me, runner-girl is on her 4th 5th.

Bike: Fenders are the second most important thing.  Getting wet from the rain is nice, getting a mouth full of sprayed up road grime is not.  Attitude can overcome the lack of fenders if you get caught in an unexpected downpour. Other than that any bike will do, just make sure to lube the chain more often.  Wider tires are better than narrow ones.  Riding a road bike in the rain works fine but braking will be significantly reduced.

Clothing: Above about 65 degrees I tend to just wear a shirt and get wet.  Below 65 usually wear some kind of rain gear.  My favorite is the Showers Pass: Club Pro Jacket.  It's quite waterproof, vented, visible with pockets for a decent price.  You can spend a lot more and not get any more functional and you can spend a little less and still get wet.  Below 45 I like to wear a long sleeved wool base layer under it because that wet nylon sticking to your arms gets clammy.  For commutes above 45or so degrees I just let my legs get wet.  For colder rainy commutes I do have some Showers Pass: Storm Pants to keep me warm. For anything but the coldest riding they are usually wetter on the inside than on the outside. (Your temperature thresholds will probably vary, I tend to be cold on rides and would rather be warmer at the risk of being too hot)

Shoes: Wet feet and the shoes that are wet the next time you put them on are my least favorite thing about riding in the rain.  Admittedly, this is an area I haven't come up with a solution yet.  I've tried the plastic bag method:
This Does Not Work!
without any success.  Somehow (probably through wicking) the shoes get just as wet with the bags on as they would without them.  I think I'll explore shoe cover options.  I'm thinking Showers Pass: Club Shoe Covers the brand hasn't done me wrong yet.

Gloves:  This is another area with mixed results.  There are gloves that keep the rain from getting to your hands, of course, your hands sweat so much that the rain would be an improvement and they take FOREVER to dry.  Otherwise, there are some decent gloves that can delay your hands from getting wet.  I've found that Lizard Skins Blizzard gloves, although horrible in the cold in my opinion, are pretty good in rain from 40-60 degrees.  They seem to be discontinued so you're on your own.  On warm rainy days I just skip the gloves all together. 

Head: Another most important thing is wearing a hat with a visor under your helmet.  It keeps most of the rain off the front of your glasses and all of the rain off the back of your glasses.  This was one of the simplest improvements to comfort I made for commuting in the rain.  Glasses to keep rain out of your eyes are almost a must.  I prefer glasses with a hydrophobic coating like Typhoon Optics Mariner.  Speaking of glasses, it helps to keep a dry (or at least not sweaty) tissue or towel in your rain gear pocket for wiping glasses.  Actually it helps for any ride.

Lights: Use them!  These aren't the most important thing if you don't mind getting hit by cars.  Otherwise they are strongly recommended.  Rainy days are dark, driver's visibility is impaired by wet windshields, Etc.  I like NiteRider USB rechargeable cordless lights.

Cargo: Unless you have known waterproof panniers or bags I recommend ziplock bags.  Everything goes in a ziplock and then it goes in my pack.  Reuse them over an over.

Other Considerations: Sealcoating, chip seal, railroad tracks, manhole covers, crosswalk paint and some other things might as well be ice when they get wet.  A sudden loss of all traction isn't' fun.  My elbow and leg did slow me down as I skidded across the pavement but the friction took its toll or a wet ride last year.
This isn't the only skin I lost, but it is what I can show.

So get out there and get wet!  You've heard of "Dancing in the Rain" and "Singing in the Rain" take the next step and start "Riding in the Rain".   Life's short, Enjoy the Ride.