Posts made in June, 2014

Mount Tabor Race #3

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 in Cycling | 0 comments

Another one in the books.

My plan to go after the prime on the first lap fell through when it was clear at the start that some faster guys had that in mind too. I didn’t even bother as we hit the ramp up to the line.

The race went very similarly to the last one as this is really more of a time trial than a tactical road race (it’s all about individual fitness as long as you’re not a moron and miss the start or take on more wind than you should). I started seeing a gap open between me and what was left of the field after about four climbs, pulled it back on the downhill once, and then the next time through could not and was on my own.

Same exact placing as last week except there may be an update or a couple since there’s one glaring error I know of (my friend, Dolan, finished in the top 5, but they have him down as last place – I’m assuming they thought he was getting lapped… Ouch. Dolan, look faster ;)). Again, two people off the pack. I’ll get there someday. Maybe. Bonus this time around is that the Women’s 1/2/3 race caught me on the last lap. They’re pretty quick. I took the lap easy/let them around and dragged a few gapped riders down the hill. If there’s on thing I’m good at, it is going down hills. I suppose that’s not really a bonus 😕

I’d been noticing some funny noises from my rear wheel and also a slight wobble. Sure enough, popped a spoke in the middle of the race. Didn’t affect anything, but descending and cornering at 35mph may have been a little more loose than usual. Didn’t stop me from putting in a PR on the downhill. Replaced the spoke myself and took the bare wheel into the shop today (I don’t work on wheel innards), they pulled it apart, bearings were fine, but the axle was a bit loose. They fixed that and showed me how I can do it myself in a matter of 30 seconds next time it occurs. He cleaned up the insides and trued the wheel slightly for $10. I slipped him a $20 because karma/beer. They said that typically after three popped spokes they recommend a wheel rebuild. I’m at two so I’ll probably just get that done over the winter whether or not I lose another.

I went up the climb section four seconds faster than last week and twenty seconds faster than the week before so the improvement is measurable and good. I’m pleased.

I’m unfortunately missing the next two races, which leaves only the season finale. With a total of zero series points, I’m nowhere close to being in the running for anything, but a bit bummed I’m missing them anyway. Following that, I get into running a dozen or so trail races in a row on Wednesday nights. I’m definitely going to have to get into the Monday night road races and maybe look into some Saturday races too because I’ve got the racing bug again and it must get itched.


Mount Tabor Race #2

Posted on Jun 12, 2014 in Cycling | 0 comments

I was on time for this one! Man, what an easier race when you’re able to draft. No win or podium, but pretty pleased with my performance on a course that isn’t particularly ideal for someone with my build (read: fat).

For this one I put the carbon wheels back on since there is absolutely zero braking in this constant up and down affair. Also picked up some new pedals and cleats because I developed a wiggle in one of my old ones and a rebuild didn’t resolve it perfectly. Everything held together so that was good.

I started on the front line with two friends of mine, hung with the pack for about 4 solid laps. On the 5th, I let a little gap open, which required me to pedal the downhill, which had me gassed for the uphill, and then the 6th lap was merely the growth of that gap. I was 1st place for “behind the pack” so that was cool. One guy was close to coming off after me, but I think he battled his way back on. The guy behind me put in a serious final lap effort to make me feel a bit of  pressure, but he was simply too far back… So once I was off, I was racing alone and held my place. Pretty happy. 17th place so no series points, but I’m feeling good and know I’m getting faster week after week. Great little workout. I don’t know if it was because I was with the group most of the race or that I’m in better shape, but I tasted far less metal/blood in my lungs this time around and riding the next day was also much better.

Added bonus is that I created a goal for myself (based on my faster friend’s best) on the uphill segment of the race. It was so much faster than how quickly I did it last week that I set the end of the race series for the due date. Well, I got it yesterday. So I guess I need a new goal. Maybe stay with the pack the entire race? Boring, but maybe I’ll shoot for that by the end of the series. I’ve got it! As this isn’t much of a race for me to win, I think the 1st lap prime (1st place after the 1st lap wins a six-pack and it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge) is very attainable and I’m going to go for it. I’ve no way to get the beer home, but that’s only a minor detail. Maybe in my belly? That’d be a fun ride. BEER.


Mount Tabor “Not” Race #1

Posted on Jun 9, 2014 in Cycling | 0 comments

My first race back on the road yesterday turned out to be a mild success; I didn’t break anything.

Unfortunately, that was because I rode the entire thing solo.

The Mount Tabor Race Series is a set of six weekly (Wednesday) races around a 1.3 mile loop with 140ft of elevation that I’ve signed up for (5 of 6 are scored for series points, which only matter for bragging rights – I’ll only be able to make 5 due to being in VA one week and this week was a wash so I’ve got no chance even if I do find the legs I don’t have). In reality, I’m mostly doing it because Mount Tabor is a volcano and I think it’d be cool to be able to tell my grandkids that I used to race bikes around one.

Due to the length of the laps and the elevation change, the race is a constant push-fest. If you’re not going uphill, you’re going downhill, and there are no brakes required at all due to the course structure; literally 0 rest. Possibly different if you’re with the pack, but I was not. I haven’t tasted that bloody metallic lung taste since the days of high school cross-country.

So why did I race alone? The primary reason is I showed up late. Except not too late. I was 20 minutes early. They don’t offer preregistration saying they can handle everybody with ease. Except at Race #1, I presume a lot of folks are renewing their yearly memberships so the process was pretty slow. I received my bib with two minutes to go until the race. I rushed over to some random guy, asked him to pin it on, and he completed the last pin just as they started us. I wasn’t clipped in and was at least 100ft from the start. By the time I got halfway up the hill that begins the race, they were already heading down a 35mph, .6mi hill. My chances of catching them were slim to none.

So I raced alone. Picked off a few stragglers, but mostly an uneventful solo time trial that really hurt.

Results are here. Relatively good considering the circumstances (27th out of 38)? I don’t know… At the very least, I was able to recon the course for next week and get a start under my belt (the upgrade from Category 5 to Category 4 requires 10 starts).

Pretty excited for the next few races. Based on the fact a buddy of mine who is faster than me and a much better climber didn’t podium, my hopes aren’t too high, but I do hope to hang with the group through most of the race.

My GPS dump including ride to the race and then ride downtown to meet Heather at work so pretty much useless for getting any data from it other than solo segment times.

A farewell and some hellos

Posted on Jun 2, 2014 in Cycling, General | 0 comments

We are now a single car family. Err “family.” We knew we didn’t need two cars here, left hers in VA (sold a few months ago) and have been getting around in the GTI ever since. Except only I really got around in it. The manual transmission bit wasn’t in the cards for Mrs. Heather, and that’s okay, because most of my driving nowadays is taking her to work in “traffic” so the automatic is much easier than clutch-pumping with the “bad” knee. …Serious air quotes today, eh?…

I posted about the new car a few weeks back. Once we had it, I threw the GTI on Craigslist, and waited, and waited, and waited. I was patient because I knew it was a highly sought after car and it was costing next to nothing to keep since we weren’t driving it and the insurance company was informed of that. I received a couple of lowball “cash” offers from what were likely car flippers, and then one week the real interest suddenly hit.

Within a single week, I had two test drives. The second made an offer on the spot for $500 less than I was asking (still above KBB because that’s what the actual market is) including the roof rack ($500 new), I accepted without thinking twice (very fair to both of us), and within a couple of days I had a a check in my hands.

Volkswagen really nailed that car. For what it is, it is perfect. Not to say it is perfect for everyone, but if you’re looking for something that is sporty, well-built, and has relatively good utility, it should be at the top of your list. Faster than necessary, 35mpg on the highway, great seats, super smooth, and can fit nearly as much cargo as the massive FX35 the buyer was replacing with it (at half the price and double the fuel economy). I loved that damned thing, but I really don’t miss it. It treated me well, but as I never turned a bolt on it, there was no emotional tie. Hoping the new owner is smiling ear to ear on his commute every morning. I know he is.

The car turned out to be a true bargain too. I bought it for $23,000, drove it for four years and 30k miles, didn’t put a penny into it, and sold it for $17,500. For new car depreciation, that’s amazing. My numbers are rough, but $115/mo of ownership. Heather’s Mini on the other hand, $200/mo over many more months and a number of repairs (not including a massive one right after we sold it…). In case you couldn’t tell, I hate Minis.

Having paid the car off a year ago, I had money burning a serious hole in my pocket. What to do? Retail therapy! We (mostly me) now own some pretty cool stuff we likely wouldn’t have purchased otherwise.


Ridley X-Fire Red – My dual-duty cyclocross and commuting bike wasn’t cutting it anymore. I was constantly swapping parts out to ride it for ‘cross and it is a pretty atrociously slow for racing. I also needed a rain bike for road riding in inclement weather. This new bike is a Ferrari; they really don’t get much better. If I don’t win a race, it is squarely on my own shoulders. That’s refreshing. In buying such a nice bike (this is nearly a $4k bike two years ago – I paid less than half of that), I kind of failed in getting that beater/rain bike, but I may end up making the old cross/commuting bike more road-worthy so it may check that box.

Roomba 770 – Vacuuming is our nemesis. This thing costs far too much, but we did it anyway and couldn’t be happier. Longevity is the question as they only used to last people 1-2 years, but I haven’t seen such reports on the latest models. Possible that they’re too new to have hit that age? Anyway, super cool gadget. We’ve likely been running it more than necessary, but it keeps coming back to us with a full tray. Love it.

Specialized S-Works Road – I last bought road biking shoes over a decade ago. They were tired after 20k miles. The velcro stopped holding, seams started popping, and the rain started adding some stink. I’ll keep my oldies around for rain riding,  I spent far too much for some shoes, but couldn’t be happier. They are feather light and transfer what seems like 100% of energy to the pedals thanks to “stiffness index 13.0.” My feet are still adjusting to the lack of flex, but on climbs and sprints I can truly feel a massive difference. Will be very interesting to get out to the usual hills this week to see what a difference they make.

Thule AeroBlade Edge – With the GTI gone, I had no way to haul the bikes. I needed a way to haul the bikes. Fast. A hitch rack was considered, but swiftly tossed out because the options are limited and ugly or ridiculously expensive and only a ball. Back to roof racks. I stopped in at the local Rack Attack, told them I wanted the Whispbars (what I had on the GTI), supplied the part numbers, and no luck… Recalled in mid-2013 because they flew off a few cars. Okay. So. Umm… I really didn’t want to be stuck with round or square bars because they’re really noisy. Luckily, they stocked a bar I didn’t know anything about, the Thule AeroBlade Edge. $100 cheaper (they also price match Amazon if you mention it) than what I had been shopping for and arguably better constructed. Very happy. I think they look good. I chose to mount them as rearward as possible while not having the trunk hit the bike trays so they obstructed as little of our sunroof view as possible. Great success.

So that’s it for purchases. My credit card is smoking, but even after these purchases we’ve still come out ahead selling the two cars and switching to one. Brilliant!

Look for a post about the house soon. We’ve been busy!