Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road Rides And New Knicks

The 200 mile road event is at the end of this month so I am shifting my focus a little. Did the 45 mile Cheney-Spangle loop on my way home from work last night. The legs feel quite refreshed from the recent rest they received during my trip to Portland. Saturday I am going to do another quickie overnighter, this time with the road bike. I think I will head out to the CDA national forest Saturday night (45-60 miles) and then try and get a 100 or so on the way back Sunday morning. The forecast for Sunday is 98 freakin' degrees so I want to be home by noon to avoid melting.
I picked up a couple of pairs of knickers while I was in Portland. Spokane bike shops do not carry much in the way of apparel and knickers have not reached the fad stage like they have everywhere else. Over the years my cycling wardrobe has evolved from Grammici climbing pants and shorts (in the beginning that company made a great product simple and durable) to Carhart shorts and even Pearl Izumi MicroSensor plastic shorts. The last two year I have been wearing a very lightweight pair of Sugoi knickers. They are beginning to fall apart so I began looking for it's successor.
I bought a pair of Rapha knicks and a pair from Chrome. The Chromes are heavier, bulkier but with a lot of stretch. The Rapha's are exceptionally well crafted and feel great but I suspect they will be hot (like the Chromes) when the weather heads above 80. The thinking with knickers for me is related to an earlier rant about not wanting to own any more shorts, tights or jackets without pockets. I need my pockets.
Both pairs of knickers were expensive but put into the context of the usage it doesn't hurt as much to think about it. $160 for a pair of pants? Unlike more fashionable people I will wear the pair of Raphas I have on now for five straight days. On weekends I will wear "normal" clothes unless I go on a ride and then I will put the knicks back on. I may wash them about twice a week, but it should be noted that I wear my chef pants at work which is a good part of my day. I will keep wearing the Rapha's until they completely fall apart, which due to the construction may be 5-6 years or more. These will be the only pair of pants I buy this year and probably next year as well. I hate shopping. The price is starting to sound like a bargain.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Overnight Quickie

Ben and I took off last night about 9pm after my shift and rode the Columbia Plateau Trail out to the Turnbull Wildlife refuge for a little overnighter. I wanted to be back home by 7am and figuring that sunrise is at 5am we rode for 2 hours and found a nice little patch of soft ground amidst a sea of basalt. The nearby cattle were providing a hilarious chorus for many hours and then the coyotes decided to show them how this signing business is done. Being surrounded by wetlands and waking in fog provided for a pretty damp sleeping bag and bivy by morning. I need to work out some strategies for drying out these items during the GDR. A down bag is starting to sound like a bad idea even though I know they have been successfully used in the past. Ben did not have a bivy or tent in Spokane so I brought my 15 year old megamid circus tent for him. He made himself right at home by surrounding himself with various knives and ninja stars. The ride back in this morning started cold and creaky but after an hour the muscles were all warmed up and we made better time in the morning than at night.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No More Hobbies

62 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing

Last night I opened a fortune cookie that could not have been more wrong. "Now is a good time to start a new hobby". While the restaurant is having it's third best week of sales ever and I am trying to get my bicycle training in and I am finishing the extension of my drip irrigation to the four corners of my yard and I am trying to write an article for CDA/SPO mag and I am trying to maintain my bicycles (three flats, one broken spoke, leaking shocks, broken pedal, loose bar end and worn brakes all in one week) and I am trying to get things in order before a trip to Portland this weekend; I decide to buy a GPS and some Topographical mapping software.
I love gadgets and like the challenge of learning how to use them but I was a little nervous about this latest piece of technology because it doesn't follow the logical menu/layout/keystroke patterns of any other piece of software I have used. After a long weekend of hacking away at both the GPS and the mapping software I can finally use it albeit I still have a couple of rather important functions I can't do (when freehanding a route I can't figure out why it won't let me erase mistakes when I follow the keystroke actions the manual suggests).
I have been using the software to help map out long routes in the CDA N.F..AS much as I want to justify the importance of this activity, in the face of all the other work that needs to get done I am forced to set it aside and keep to the tasks that have pressing deadlines.
All of this puts next year into perspective. I realize that at some point this Fall or Winter I will have to eliminate all responsibilities not related to feeding my family or preparing me for the Great Divide Race. I am going to learn to say No to things I want to do. For now I have to finish a some writing, weed the garden, Fix yet another flat, get a bike ride in and maybe there will be some time to dust off the guitar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Solitude Is Good For You

Ben Delaney posted a link to this article about the psychological need for solitude. I love the premise of this article and have been a proponent of solitude as therapy for a long time. I believe that at least once a year people should be alone in a wilderness setting for a day or more. The internet and cell phones have helped our fear of aloneness. I do not think that these high tech communication devices are the devil tools, but they make it easier to not seek out the solitude that used to come easily in small doses before the era of super connectivity took over the world. I believe that the more people experience quiet time the more they will see the value of it. I enjoy listening to my iPod during long road rides but find that even the disembodied voices of NPR podcasts get in the way of fully enjoying a ride through the mountains.
The notion of solitude is something that every GDR rider must honestly enjoy. I recall Kent Peterson's story of sharing some riding time with another racer during the GDR and despite the pleasantness of the conversation, once they parted ways he felt that things were back to normal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another One For The Calender

I was surprised the other day to see an ad for The Tour Of Pain, a new 200 mile road ride in the latest addition of Out There Monthly. Turns out that Gage down at the Steam Plant Grill is an enduro bike guy and is not only taking over where the Midsummer's Nightmare Double Century left off, he appears to be committed to putting on the swankiest bike event of the year. Even though the number of people this type of ride will appeal to is small he is going to have some serious schwag, full on route support, plus live bands and a beer garden afterwards (if you can stay awake long enough to down a pint of the CDA brew). Gage also has plans for a mtn bike 100 miler next year. I just hope that it doesn't come too close to the beginning or end of the GDR,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gear: Lightsabre Bivy

Got my first piece of camping gear for the GDR. I have mentally divided all the gear for the race into camping, bike related and clothing. As for the camping gear there really isn't much to get because the GDR is about riding not luxuriating around a campfire enjoying s'mores and hot dogs. The camping comes down to what I call the Sleep System. Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad and Bivy. With the kind support of Brian, I am the proud owner of a lightsabre bivy from Black Diamond. It really is more like a really small one person tent with it's 27 inches of headroom, but at 1 lb 10 oz it is compact and light. I choose it also because it is possible to use the poles for the head space without staking out the unit. I like freestanding tents.
I have the bivy set up in the backyard as the silicone seam seal is drying. I may not get out this weekend but I will get in an overnighter within the week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

7 miles+50 MIles

When I was a wee lad I was caught up in the whole running craze of the 80's. One of the highlights of each year was running Bloomsday, the local 7 miler that attracts 40, 000 to 50,000 people. The last time I ran it I was 13 and this year as my daughter who is almost 13 decided she wanted to do it. We ran and walked it together and despite not being a big fan of crowds it was good fun. Having some good bands blasting music every 1/2 mile was a nice addition since the ol' days.
The day after Bloomsday I headed back to the CDA NF and was able to get 50 miles of riding in without too much snow turning me back. Burnt Cabin Summit is still socked in but the long stretches of snow that Ben and I ran two weeks ago were completely gone. I am getting a clearer idea of what a 100 miler route would look like and think that these trails lend themselves towards a 150 mile route. I won't really know until the summits are rideable. I was able to climb without fatigue. I felt much stronger than I did just two weeks ago. Perhaps it was the 90 mile fixed gear time trial.
I feel like the training has been really safe and I am ready for something that pushes me a little. Perhaps a fast paced 100 miler on the mtn bike or a dbl century on the road. The weather is surely cooperating with 78 degree temperatures,

Friday, May 4, 2007

Trans Iowa

Last weekend Portland framebuilder Ira Ryan won the Trans Iowa race for the second time. The 300 mile gravel grinder is a good example of the kind of racing that is growing in the cycling underground. Loosely organized, no support events for only the serious cyclist. These racers are not for everyone and that is kind of the point.
Ira has a great write-up about his race on his blog. Locally there has been more rumblings about a mountain bike century taking place in late July and of course there is always the Midnight Century to be thinking about. And yes I am still thinking about doing a second lap for anyone interested.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

April Training In Review

April is over so it is time to reflect on my training. In March, I did 800 miles of riding and reason would suggest that I would do more in April, but it would be wrong. I did a seemingly anemic 650 miles for the whole month. Looking closer at the numbers it doesn't look so bad. During my week long vacation at the start of the month, I biked a total of 86 miles. During the remainder of the month, the weekly mileage dropped significantly from the previous month's average and I logged 12 hours a week rather than March's 14-15 hours. In March very few days of mountain biking were ridden versus April's comparative dirt fest; two off road rides over five hours and a couple of fast 2 hour rides each week. Add to the singletrack riding a severe increase in feet climbed (a GPS would be a nice thing to have) and the picture of a successful month becomes clearer.
The fact is that I am in better shape at the beginning of May than I was at the beginning of April. I have not struggled to make myself train and I am recovering from rides faster and more completely. May will be a little goofy because it looks like I may be selling my mtn bike before the new one is built so the trail riding will diminish. May should mark the beginning of regular overnight rides. I don't suspect they will do much for padding the mileage, the purpose is to test equipment, pinpoint issues and enjoy sleeping under the stars. I have my fingers crossed for June being the new bike month which should result in an explosion of riding. Then again I thought that was going to happen in May so perhaps I should just not think about that.