Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just one more and then I’m done……

I’m pretty sure I’ve told myself that while justifying the purchase of every bike other than my first. And it makes perfect sense too….
When I got back into riding and bought my first “real” bike, a mtn. bike, I wanted to do something that would give me a workout without really being exercise.
I remember riding my bmx bike as a kid and having a blast. A mt. bike is just a bmx bike for grownups right? So it should be just as much fun…..and it is.
It can go anywhere and do anything. It's the one bike for all seasons....the perfect bike. Sure it was kind of expensive, but I'll never need another one and this one should last me forever!

But then, after having been riding for a while, I met a friend that rode road bikes. So, after borrowing one and going with him, I enjoyed that too so I had to have a road bike.
Well, I already have one bike why would I need two? It’s a little excessive isn’t it?

Well, no. Riding a mtn. bike on road rides just doesn’t work. Even after putting slicks on it, the bike wasn’t right. It was heavy and slow. It had full suspension so it bobbed every time I climbed a hill and after all, isn’t it better to be more efficient so I don’t have to work as hard? See how the rationalization begins????
And rationalization works. I was soon down at the bike shop buying what for sure would be my last bike…..I would have everything I would ever need, the planets would line up, the weather would be perfect from now till eternity and there would be world peace…..I was in total bliss.

Now, when my friends called to go for a ride, I had my mtn. bike and my road bike. I was armed and ready for whatever came at me and there was no reason to ever go to a bike shop again…except maybe for tubes and tires…..

And then I saw a single speed…… Wow, that looks fun…..going back to my roots... no shocks, no gears, lightweight and the perfect tool for our weekly lake Chabot rides….and so it started again.
Only this time, instead of buying a fully built, off the shelf bike, I was going to build one. I should be able to save some money while at the same time, building a bike that was just for me. I would never see one just like it on the trail. So, I bought a frame, then some wheels, seatpost, seat, stem, bars, grips, crank, pedals, chain, etc,etc,etc……
Did I say I could save money building it myself? I’m pretty sure it cost me about 2X what it would be to just buy a similar bike off the floor at the shop…of course since it’s totally custom, there isn’t one like it anywhere on the floor of any shop……

Well, this is it then. I now have my road bike, my single speed mtn. bike and can use my full suspension mtn. bike as a loaner in case any of my friends want to try riding…..
Now, I’m done. Won’t need anything else, got everything I need, never to be tempted again…..

And then I realized….if I’m having so much fun on the SS mtn. bike, I bet a SS/Fixed road bike would be a blast. And besides, it’s a harder workout so I’ll actually be able to get the same workout in less time. Perfect! More time for the family….I need to spend more time with them. This bike is really for the family and not for me….yeah, that’s it! the family!

Again, I built it up for about twice what I could buy it off the floor for and again, it’s different than anyone else’s and there’s no way I could even find one like it if I tried…..

Ok, so now my quiver is finally full…..I can’t even think of another bike that I would need. I have every tool for every job. I’m done. Completely finished and will never need to visit a bike shop again…..except for tubes and tires of course……

(btw – did you see those cool fixie track bikes on Monday at the velodrome????)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Round and round we go…..

So, Monday evening my buddy Chris and I went down to the San Jose Velodrome ( for one of their beginner sessions. At first I was actually kinda nervous, never having ridden a track bike and never having ridden in a group of people I didn’t know.

I got there early and was able to watch some guys from the San Jose bike club doing some workouts. These guys really fly around the track. (ok, even more nervous now)

Once they were done and everyone else showed up, rented their bikes, filled out their waivers and promised to “keep pedaling” the session started.
It starts out with the leader, Michael, (the guy on the geared bike, keeping up with the race bikes in the picture) a thin, super-fit, racer dude, explaining the basics. The track layout, each of the positions on the track, the wall, the stayers line, the sprinters line, the edge of the world and the apron. Then he talked about the etiquette of the track. Where and when you can get on and off the track, where you’re supposed to be when you’re riding, passing, relaxing, etc. and what you can expect of others while you’re on the track. (Man, I hope there isn't a quiz)
This last part is very important and since we were riding with a bunch of people we didn’t know, it helps that everyone understands what their role is.
Michael was actually a really cool guy and he and his helper made the whole experience a lot of fun.

From here we broke into two groups – those that had done this before and those that hadn’t. Those of us that hadn’t went over to the warm up circle to get familiar with our bikes, the ringers – oops, I mean, those that had done this before went out on the track to do some warm-ups and practice entering and exiting the track.

Now that us beginners have proven we can start and stop on a fixed gear bike without killing ourselves they let us loose on the track with the others and we do a couple of laps to get used to riding in big circles. Basically it’s just like Nascar except a little bit slower….go straight, left turn, go straight left turn…..easy breezy right? (ok, maybe a LOT slower than Nascar)

Next we did some sprint drills to get used to riding fast, holding our line and generally getting comfortable riding with people you don’t know. Basically, we’d line up 4 across on the track, pedal along, Michael would blow his whistle, we’d sprint until he blew his whistle again and we relax. Then we’d swap positions on the track and do it again. (hmm...this is a pretty good workout)
Ok, so now it’s really getting fun….I felt good, my legs were warmed up and I thought I was doing pretty well on the sprints.

Alright so now that we’ve done this, let’s do some racing. They broke us into two groups a “faster” group and a “not as fast” group. Well, Chris and I decided to try the “faster” group. (populated mostly by the people that skipped the beginner training circle) We lined up on the wall and Michael, after reminding us to keep pedaling, said go. We soft pedaled around to turn 3 and then he blew his whistle and I understood what the “faster” group meant. It meant they were all “faster” than me. Once I fell outta the back of the group, I was done. They took off and Chris and I and one other guy were left in the dust. Granted, Chris and I were having some communication issues with our teamwork. Evidently he was waiting for me to pull through and I was happy sitting on his wheel letting him do all the work. So, 5 laps later we finished my first ever “race”….and I was hooked. It was a total blast!

After the second group did their 5 lap race, we got back out there for a 7 lap race.
This was a mix of both groups so although I didn’t keep up with the first group of finishers, I wasn’t dead last either.
All in all it was a totally awesome experience and I can’t wait to do it again....

Now, how am I going to sneak a track bike into the garage……

Friday, July 25, 2008

Biking to work....

For the past couple of months I’ve been talking about riding my bike to work. It’s usually prefaced with “I would ride to work but….” And they’re all pretty legitimate excuses, but they’re just that….excuses.

You’d think that with all of the benefits we know riding bestows, we’d all be riding to work more often.

  • It’s good for our health - Physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality in general, and of coronary heart disease,hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes mellitus in particular. Physical activity also improves mental health and is important for the health of muscles, bones, and joints."- Audrey F, Manley, M.D., M.P.H., Acting Surgeon General of the United States (source: Center for Disease Control)
  • It doesn’t contribute to the air pollution
    Motor vehicle emissions are the major cause of air pollution in the Bay Area
  • It saves gas (which at almost 5 bucks a gallon is a huge benefit in itself)
  • It’s probably faster if you drive in a high congestion area
  • It’s fun

So, starting next week, I’m going to try to pick at least 1 hopefully 2 days a week, when I can ride my bike to work…..besides, I only live about 2 miles from the office so it barely qualifies as a commute.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The joy of suffering…

I was reading today and he was talking about how he enjoys climbing. As I read it, I was thinking how I totally agreed with him. I mean I LOVE to climb.
When I first started riding I hated climbing, I hated the way it hurt and made my lungs feel like they were going to explode and how on some occasions, I was pretty sure I might even lose my lunch……but after a while, I realized I wasn’t hating it anymore. I was actually enjoying it. I even got to the point where if the ride didn’t have any climbs I didn’t really enjoy them as much….

But then I rode with a buddy of mine (we’ll call him Mark) on a flat ride and he totally destroyed me….I was suffering so bad trying to keep up with him going down Foothill rd (which is completely flat btw) that it actually felt like climbing. My legs burned, my lungs hurt and my vision was getting fuzzy around the edges…..
It was then that I realized it wasn’t really climbing that I enjoyed, it was the suffering.

Now, I know that actually sounds kind of weird and before you start picturing me as a closet masochist that enjoys various leather garments, let me clarify….

I’ve always enjoyed exercise. I used to run and workout and cycling is the latest iteration of my love of exercise. I’ve also always believed exercise should be a workout, should involve sweat and should involve some level of suffering for the greater good.
Sort of the whole, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger kind of thing.
I’ve never understood those people at the gym sitting on the exercise bike with a book and a latte and just tooling along.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to relax, but if I’m going to relax, I’m going to do it in my lounge chair in front of my big screen TV with a beer and a remote…

The point is, that when I exercise, I expect there to be some suffering. And, whether it’s climbing, doing mad sprints with my fast friends or just doing intervals or signpost races with my buddies, it’s way more fun if, at the end of it all, I know that I worked out and that I’m now free to do my relaxing and beer drinking with absolutely no guilt whatsoever…..

Besides, the ability to suffer is a valuable tool in our arsenal when dealing with the everyday issues of life. It’s nice to know that no matter how high the mountain or how long the sprint, eventually the climbing will end and the pace will revert back to normal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Whole Fam Damily…..

On Sunday, my wife and daughters thought it would be fun to take the bikes out for a family ride…
Since they don’t ride much and we’d have the grandkid in the trailer, we decided we needed something flat, paved, with no car traffic and preferably not a lot of people traffic either. (some of us a still a little wobbly on the bike)

We decided the creek trail would be perfect. And it was, mostly. What I forgot was just how windy it gets out there in the afternoon. What I also didn’t realize was what a production it was going to be getting everyone to the starting point.
6 people, 5 bikes, one Croozer trailer, 5 helmets, and miscellaneous water bottles, shoes, jackets, sunglasses, cameras, snacks and toys for the trailer all had to be taken from the house to the trailhead.
Thankfully, both my youngest daughter and I have trucks. So, fully loaded and with everything bungie corded in, we headed out.

After getting to the trailhead and unloading everything we had just loaded, we started out.
I was immediately reminded just how windy it gets out there… the flag on my grandson’s trailer looked more like an 8 weight fly rod attached to a nice salmon…..

Well, a few miles out, it was obvious this nice, easy, flat ride with the family was turning into more of a workout than planned for some of us so the idea of Slurpees at the nearby 7-eleven came up and was quickly voted best idea of the day.

The good news about a strong headwind is that once you turn around, it becomes a really nice tailwind and we made it back to the trucks in exactly 2.3 seconds. (ok, maybe a little longer than that)
With everything loaded up we made a run for the border….oh wait, that’s someone else’s jingle…..anyway, you get the point, and soon we were enjoying slurpees and headed for home.
Next Sunday, we’ll find someplace a little less windy, bring a lunch and make a day of it….

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lying ride leaders……

Don’t ya just love when you go on a ride with your buddies and they constantly lie to you? “don’t worry we’re almost done” "I’m pretty sure this is the last climb on the route” or my personal favorite… "Don't worry, it all flattens out around the next bend"....

One of my good friends is a training ride leader for the upcoming California Coast Classic and although I’m used to him constantly lying about the intensity of the rides we do, I thought that if he posted something on his website, it at least would have a semblance of truth in it……well I was wrong!
This past Saturday, I decided to join one of his rides. And since I haven’t been riding that much lately, I thought I had picked a fairly relaxed one at 44 miles and less than 4K of climbing.
It was only in the van on the way over there that I find out his website had “an error” on it and the route was really going to be 65 miles and 6K of climbing!!! AN ERROR????

Seriously Jer???? I’m supposed to believe you “accidentally” linked to the wrong route?????

Nope, not buying it.
Now, if it was anyone else, I might be inclined to believe it was an accident. But I still haven’t forgotten the time you offered me free firewood and when I showed up to pick it up you pointed at a full grown, HEALTHY oak tree you wanted me to help trim. Or the first ever ride I did with you that was supposed to be a nice easy ride over the Golden Gate bridge and back that I’m pretty sure went up every single mountain in the SF/Marin area. Or what about my first time out Palomares where you and your evil sidekick Mark kept telling me, “don’t worry it flattens out around the next corner”….

Needless to say, I wasn’t really ready to go out and do 65 miles. Especially since my longest ride since the Tierra Bella metric century (in April mind you) has been the loop around Lake Chabot.

All in all though, it wasn’t a bad day. The weather was gorgeous, the route was beautiful and the company was good.
I brought my camera thinking that I’d get some good shots of the redwoods or the coast, but to be honest, I was so intent on not dying on the uphill and so intent on trying to enjoy the downhill, that I only took two pictures all day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Exercising to lose weight……

Ok, so I fully acknowledge that I’m no longer 18 and I totally understand that as we get older it’s harder to lose weight. And to be honest, my whole idea of fitness has changed over the years.
My goal is no longer to have the Adonis like body with the 6 pack abs. (it’s just never gonna happen) I’m content that I still fit in my clothes and that I don’t have to buy those polyester slacks with the elastic in the back for adjustment.

What I don’t understand though, is why I can’t get down below 195lbs??? I’m riding 3x per week. And it’s not like I’m just out cruising the bike path either, I’m pushing it on every ride.
Of course, the fact that I eat and drink after every ride (in abundance by the way) may have something to do with it.
And also of course, when we did Chabot last week, we had this raging bbq afterwards where everyone brought way too much food and beer. So, maybe there's actually some truth to the idea that you have to burn more calories than you take in if you want to lose weight????

Hmmmm….maybe Mr Potato head should be my role model and fitness guru….

I think I’m going to have to accept the fact that I’m a Clydesdale and always will be.

On a completely different note, you should check out this week.
They have their 09 jersey design out and are accepting pre-orders this week only.
I was able to get an 08 jersey (which is my all time favorite jersey) only by sheer luck. Evidently they sold out in a few hours and I just happened to log on when they still had them. One of the benefits of getting to work at the butt crack of dawn I guess.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Point and Shoot.....

I can remember when my daughter got married and about falling out of the chair when talking to friends about what they paid for photography……

Well, recently my oldest daughter and I decided to take a photography class at the local rec. dept. We both enjoy photography and figured this would be a fun thing to do.
Turns out photography is a LOT more than just point and shoot.
I was never a great student and no-one has ever confused me with “the smart kids”, so last night when the teacher started talking about the “inverse square law” the “law of reciprocity” and “equivalent exposure tables” I knew that I might be over my head.
Thankfully, my daughter is taking the class with me and can translate these technical issues down to something I understand like, “turn this knob, or push this button….”
I knew we had her for a reason.
Our homework was actually fun (don't remember that being the case in school)
We played with shutter speed and movement...
The problem with the class is that just like any hobby, the deeper you get into it, the more expensive it becomes.
When I first started biking, my rigid aluminum mt. bike was fine, but the more involved I got, the more I realized I “needed” a full suspension bike for our local trails. Then I “needed” a road bike for the road and to train on off days. Then I “needed” a singlespeed for days I just wanted to putz around…..

With cameras, it’s the same thing. A couple of years ago I bought a pretty nice point and shoot digital camera with 5 megapixels and a 10X zoom lens. Now of course I “need” a digital SLR so that I can adjust the aperture, the ISO and the shutter speed for differing conditions. And of course, 5 megapixels is nothing compared to the newer stuff and if I want to be able to blow up my photos beyond 5x7 I’ll “need” at least 7mp and would be better off with at least 10mp….
And, of course the cool thing about the SLRs is that you can interchange lenses for different types of shots……and, also of course, the lenses are extra for each different type…..maybe I should just stick to point and shoot and be happy with the photos that I can take now.
The problem with that is, like anything else, once you’ve seen the possibilities can you ever really be happy with what you have?????