Saturday, January 31, 2009


. . . has come and gone. It turned out to be a great month for riding, with roads clear enough for some serious riding during most of the month. The last ride of the month happened this morning with 3 SRV buddies - Jerry, Dale and Mike.

We banged around on mountaian bikes on this mainly dirt-road route south of town:

It wasn't the longest ride, but it was good work because there was plenty of vertical. The sun was shining and the winter scenery was awesome, which made the many hills hurt a little less. The road eventually fizzled out and dead-ended at a McMansion, so we had to do a bit of backtracking, but we didn't get shot for trespassing or eaten by a dog, so I'd label it a success.

As I've mentioned, I hope to road race this season and the training period I'm currently in is the base period - which is basically establishing the aerobic and muscular foundation that you can then build on with more specific training. I'm not real experienced, but I've always kind of thought of 1000 miles as a reasonable base mile target - that's kind of where I've started feeling pretty good about my riding in the past. I finished January with 259 miles, most of which were outside (which is good, because riding on a trainer is enough to drive me mad), so that's a pretty nice chunk of base training. Hopefully February will bring us more great riding weather.

Oh and BTW, it wasn't the coldest of days, but the Toasty Feet kept my feet . . . well . . . toasty!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Go Jump In A Lake

John hasn't been totally satisfied with his Lake boots. I'm still euphorically somewhat more happier with mine, given the options and the fact that I get off on anything Herman Munster, but still, I admit that my toes could be just a little warmer on the longer rides.

Criminy. We can send a man to the moon. (Like 40 years ago.) Can't we figure out how to keep our toes warm during a short, stay-on-the-planet bike ride?

And then it hit me like a lunar landing module: Toasty Feet inserts.

Check out the astronaut on the bottom of the box if you need proof.

Still don't believe me? Flip it over. See the moon????

Duh. Now do you believe me? No? Fine. Then check out the Comfort Level Comparison chart. Try arguing what that science, my friend!

Your skepticism is duly noted, but I proclaim these wonders of science to be the answer. It probably cost NASA hudreds of thousands of research dollars to develop these. I paid $14.95 for the pair. My Lakes are once again the total bomb. Is this a great country or what.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Podium Bound

Well, highly unlikely, I admit, but you have to dream big or you will die. (Or some sappy krap like that, so I have been told.)

Anyhoo . . .

The start of '09 has kind of turned me on my head. We pretty much had the year planned out and it involved building a new house. And then the "financial crisis" hit. And I could pretty much go on a 3-day, 750 page rant about that garbage, but this is a bike blog, after all.

And so the idea of building and borrowing and letting it all hang out in this environment started to seem like maybe not such a good idea and even though we hadn't made a firm decision I kind of knew in my mind what was coming and if we weren't going to build then what I would really like to do is spend my time on two wheels and if I was gonna do that I had better get started as soon as possible because it takes time to get in shape and did I mention that what I REALLY want to do this year is race because I'm not that young but I think I could still compete if I could have a little time to train and would be halfway smart about it.

Patty and I have spent a lot of time talking about the decision not to build. I think we're there and I think we're both okay with it. And the last thing I want to do is let the year go by . . . waiting. This is an opportunity - a year, or maybe more, that has opened up . . . a window of time that is ours to live deliberately.

And with her blessing, I started to make racing plans. And I started dieting, because "fat guys don't ride bikes fast". And I shelved my green building books and started lugging around a bike book.

I'm working on my training plan and race schedule. That all takes some thought. But for right now, gratefully, there's not a lot to think about - it's base mile time. That just means getting out and riding and laying off the hammering. I can do that. I'm feeling pretty dialed in to winter riding. Saturday was a Cheney-area 40-miler.

This morning was . . . shall we say . . . 'krispy'.

I met Mike at Riverside and Government Way. Having teamates to ride with makes all the difference.

We did a 30-some miler that included Rimrock.

Filthy whoopdee tire tracks were our only friends.

I am ridiculously out of shape and totally excited and suffering like a dog and trying to be patient about my progress and I CANNOT wait for the firt race.

Give gLove A Chance

A few days ago I wrote about my glove troubles. Turns out I was maybe a little premature in dismissing the idea of a wool glove inside a thin wind shell. This past week I picked up a coupla pairs of different thin but not too thin, wool blend liners. Today I had the chance to test out the combo on a 3-hour ride in high-teen/low-twenties temps. I thought it worked out really well - hands didn't get cold, great dexterity, and the gloves came off and went on a number of times during the ride pretty well. Probably not the end-all-be-all but still, yay.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cheap Insurance

After last week's big bonk I'm not taking any chances. Overkill is highly underrated.

I've decided to go racing this year instead of growing up and being responsible. Again. (I'm blaming my decision on the economy this time.) I had to eat all this stuff in preparation for tomorrow's ride. I don't expect you to understand the nutritional habits of a highly trained athlete, so don't feel bad if this doesn't make sense to you.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

All Kinds of Random

Last year I rode almost zero in Jan and Feb. So one of my goals for this year was to fix that. So far, so good. The weather and not having to travel have helped. So have my friends. Last Saturday, Jerry and I headed south. He's apparently starting '09 just where he left off in '08 . . . by kicking my ass up any hill in our path.

In winter, I guess, you do what needs to be done . . .

The following day, I rode out 195 with an SRV group that Dale organized. The thing I can't get over is that I had a choice of 3 group rides that day: John's morning ride, the SRV afternoon ride and the Fiasco. 3 group ride options on January 11 in Spokane. Friggin unbelievable. Spokane has bike life, no doubt about it.

As everyone knows, the cornerstone of any successful training program is a good re-hydration strategy.

I love my winter bikes - they're making it all possible. Last year I got the cross bike, along with an extra set of wheels. Road tires on one set, studs on the other. Easy swap, depending on conditions, and I've done it a number of times this winter already.

This year I added the urban tank. It gets me through anything winter dishes out that is remotely rideable. I've got some great hardware and fully acknowledge that I am one lucky bastard.

Yesterday I did my longest ride so far - 48 miles and just shy of 4 hours. It was one of, if not THEE worst ride of my life. I started feeling like total krap about 10 miles in and it just got worse from there. I think I didn't respect my need for fuel (I always thought fat guys couldn't bonk). Or maybe it's just old age. And of course I had to flat on this particular day. There's a lesson to be learned somewhere - I hope I did. I have to thank a couple of people: Alan rode with me all they way. Man, that was so cool. Mike and Sarah SAG'd me home from the Maxwell House Tavern, which was the first point coming off the ride that I could get some calories. Saved me from a climb up the hill that I didn't know if I could do.

I'm not sure I've ever let myself quit on a bike, but I had to say uncle on this day . . . I got to the point where I didn't think my arms could support me off the bars. I pulled over and had a 2-year-old, petrified oatmeal Cliff Bar. It was one of the best things I have ever tasted.

Hope to not do a repeat of this anytime soon. Very few pictures of this day, as there just wasn't a lot of desire to do anything but survive.

Alan and his Maxwell House fried chicken extravaganza:

Today was the 8:30 ride from the Carousel up to De Leon's north with John and his crew.

Would have been the perfect breakfast ride, except that De Leons has been running this add about how real men eat Menudo and they goaded me into ordering it and acting all brave and nonchalant and coming within one spoonful of hurling. It was the gift that kept on giving, all afternoon and into this evening. But anyway, I'm a real man now, so that is good. I hope it's a lifetime deal and not something you have to renew.

The sun was out this afternoon, which made it a good day to spray all that nasty road salt off your bike.

Looking at this year's and last year's calendars side-by-side makes me happy. Yellow highlights are miles pedalled (circles outdoors, squares indoors). 175 miles so far this month vs 4 for the entire same month last year.

On winter's silver lining side, you have to admit, the snow berms are creating some nice bike lanes.

On this mid-winter's night, I'm just feeling so grateful for this great bike place and for so many great bike people to ride with.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Glove Un-Love

Winter glove love continues to elude me. And it's not for lack of trying.

All I need is something with 1) a little wind protection, that 2) breathes enough that my hands don't drown in sweat and subsequently freeze, and 3) that I can take off (so that I can, say, take a picture or fiddle with a zipper) and put back on without running myself off the road and/or looking like a total spaz. Is that asking so much???

By far my favorite gloves:

Unfortunately, they draw the line at cool and run from cold. I thought that maybe pogies would solve this problem. Pogies were a worthwhile experiment, but as my friend Jacque put it, "they're kind of like clipping your hands in". (I'm thinking about being glued to my bike in four places as it goes skidding over a cliff. Hmmm.)

Last year I was conned by these (supposed) Pearl Izumi bad boys who were bragging about how they were so all about winter riding:

Posers. Turns out they are glorified (a tiny bit of fleece on the thumb for wiping your nose), overpriced ski gloves. They get wet and stick like glue to your hands. And all the dexterity of boxing gloves.

I was excited to run across Planet Bike's Borealis half-lobster gloves. I love that company and was hoping for a miracle. No dice. Not that they aren't a decent glove for the half the money, but they're just like the PI ski glove, except with your ring and pinky fingers webbed and fused. Except that the liner has seperate fingers, which is just stupid. PB, get real.

My latest experiment is a wool glove inside a nylon shell. I've read a lot from people who do this and thought it was worth a try.

I think fans of this system are mainly people who ride frequently and have trouble drying out thick, heavy gloves from day to day - they are able to dry the wool gove separately from the shell. On today's ride I was delighted to discover that I now had to remove and store (somewhere, while moving) not only one, but two gloves, to perform even the most simple task. I am an idiot.

Technology will eventually save me. I'm just not sure when.

(OBTW, post #100. yay.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Letter Rip

Dear Mr. Foreman:

My beloved George Foreman grill died and went to appliance heaven last November. I instantly knew what I wanted for Christmas and my lovely bride scraped and scrimped just so she could see me smile on Christmas morning. Due to the high cost, she was unable to purchase the coal we needed for heat, and it was 37 degrees in our house on Christmas morning. I did my best to deliver the smile she longed for through chattering teeth. We both hoped it would be worth the sacrifice.

It probably works better than the last one, but how in the hell would I know??? There's not enough cord to plug it in, you cheap bastard. Cyclists and other Americans need lean protein. But we don't want it raw. I helped you build your empire and this is the thanks I get???

I thought we were friends, George. You even introduced me to your sons. Now I hope that one of them knocks you out when you are sparring and delusional about how you are so ageless. I see how this works: 6 inches of Chinese cord x $.00004/inch x 1 bazillion customers = $247 more dollars in your pocket. Not even enough to fill the tank in your Hummer.

Now I'm gonna have to splice an inadequate extension cord on with some duct tape and other dangerous stuff. When my house burns down and I can't get my dog out in time, it's on you, bro. Think about that next time you decide to shorten your cord by another 6 inches. Thanks a bazillion, dawg.


Pat S in Spokane

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Breakfast Of Champions

John organized today's ride. The objective was to ride from Riverfront Park to DeLeon's North restaurant on East Francis for breakfast. This ride was an unqualified success. The hardest part was getting out of bed and out the door. Silky smooth sailing from that point on. Winter's funny - Forest Gump would have something dopey to say here - it deals you so many variations in the surface you are riding on and you never know exactly what you're going to get until you're out there. Today was a gift. Much warmer than expected and totally sweet roads, combined with good company.

On the way home, John suggested we take the Ronald McDonald Hill up - that's Madison, between 5th and 6th.

View Larger Map

Sure, whatever. I knew I'd be hiking most of the way. John skillfully rounded the corner off 5th with all kinds of speed for the run-up. I slow-moed it in my typical fashion. And then the most amazing thing happened. My badass tires hooked up on the ice like nothing I've ever experienced.

I'd been dragging all 294 studs per tire around with me all day and it was finally time for them to earn their keep. I'd been playing with pressure and before today's ride I dropped down to about 20 psi. Good move, as it turned out. As I climbed, I was ready to pass out, but if the equipment was supporting me, there was no way I wasn't gonna do my part. Midway through the second block, cardiac arrest was imminent, but I cleaned that steep, slick, bad, mother. Wish I could say skill had anything to do with, but it was all about those amazing tires. It was all I could do to hang on.

(In the interest of full disclosure, my tires did eventually let me down (or maybe, most likely, I let my tires down). I crashed, two blocks from my house, after riding a little over 18 miles. I have no idea what exactly happened - one minute I was riding happily along and the next, I was on my ass. All I know is that some form of icy rut was involved. I will analyze this more in dreamspace.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009


jack nicholson couldn't be more proud, i'm screaming for it to get out of my head but it won't leave, there is no sleep in my life, I wipe the sweat from my forehead at 3 am, podium dreams, paceline visions, what the hell?!? It's gawdaful dusty, tires need air . . . no love has come it's way for a very long time. maybe a dose of tripe will set me straight tomorrow, i doubt it, i just spent the whole night in the basement, what is happening to me??????