Monday, September 29, 2008


Seven hundred billion dollars.


The comparisons between "Main Street" and "Wall Street" notwithstanding, I think people would be more likely to consider this an option if it weren't for a few pesky items:

1) it doesn't seem like ANYONE will commit to the benefits of the packagethe money.
2) nobody's been able to describe what these "toxic" assets even are!
3) we've uh, been kinda burned on this whole "its gotta happen now now now, its good for the country, trust us" thing before. PATRIOT Act, anyone?

Update: the house just voted it down. Dow down 600ish points. Oh hell.
Update: MSNBC's got an interesting newsvine feed going... looks like 70% of respondents are saying "No it's not a good idea".
Update: time to start drinking

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jackson Park Cyclocross Race Report

See the race on MotionBased:

after 30 minutes of pain

xXx's Cyclocross offering in Jackson Park kicked off the Chicago Cross Cup for 2008. I arrived plenty early so I could watch the hour-long Pro/1/2 race - I wanted to see how experienced cross racers would ride the course - what lines they took approaching barricades, etc.

Heeding Randy's advice from the previous week, I pre-rode the ~1.25mi course twice. Generally flat, it provided some rather technical off-camber turns into barricades, 180 degree turns transitioning pavement to grass, and long straightaways allowing for passing. The course was generally narrow enough to make passing difficult outside of the straightaways, so I knew that positioning at the start would be critical to avoiding the inevitable traffic jam as the peleton headed into the first narrow section.

I managed to line up on the second row, inside at the start - at the time it seemed like the 4a group was big when I watched the start of that race, but now it seemed like there were MORE guys in the 4b race.

Dave Fowkes gave us our pre-race speech and started us off. The rider ahead of me clipped in properly and was off like a rocket - I was able to do the same and followed his wheel out of the start/finish area. I charged hard into the first narrow section, somewhere around 8th wheel. As I wound through, I caught the jam-up in my peripheral vision and charged ahead. I approached the off-camber-dismount-into-a-barricade and popped off the bike perfectly, somehow. I suitcased the bike up to the next barricade instead of rolling it (was yelled at for this), cleared the second barricade and remounted, clipped in, and was off again. Never had I so cleanly mounted/dismounted before. I was about 10th wheel when I came to the third barricade and dropped my chain... tried being uber-PRO and shift it back on, but it wasn't happening. I grabbed the chain, pitched it onto the small ring, and got back on the bike. I dropped my chain on that same spot 2 laps later... not sure what I was doing wrong. After the first chain drop I knew I was mid-pack and that it was unlikely I'd catch up, so I settled into a tempo and rode, trying to keep from being passed any further.

On the last lap, the intensity caught up with me and I just had no gas left in the tank but I pushed it out as hard as I could. On the back half, Guy Graves yelled "MOVE YOUR ASS ITS THE LAST LAP" which found me with more energy, somehow... knowing that there was a decent pavement section before the finish, I shifted into my 53x24 and stood on it, sprinting like there was no tomorrow - I hit the pavement and worked through the gears, hitting the grass again around 22-23mph and passing 2 or 3 riders in disbelief. I almost puked about 15 seconds after that last effort but held it back. Puke smell doesn't come out of bar tape, so I'm told.

My goal for the race was to survive, finishing without breaking anything. The bike's ok, I'm ok, and it was fun.

Before I raced, I wasn't sure if I'd like cyclocross. I found that answer in Jackson Park. :)

Luke's Race Photos

crossposted at:

Friday, September 19, 2008


I got a facebook message from the girl who moved into my old apartment... apparently a package had been delivered to my old address and vintage clothing store out front was holding it... hrm, I'm not expecting a package, ok.

I get to Shangri-La (cool place, cool people that run it btw) and the guy behing the counter points to a 2'x2' box... wtf? Then I notice "Accenture Chicago Triathlon" on the return address... coolio, it's my prize pack. Since I rode over there and had a half-full bag already, I figured I'd open it up to see what was inside.

I'll say, this is a pretty decent prize pack - I don't know if the regular age groupers got anything different than the clydes, but this is still pretty decent. Inside was a TYR Tri backpack big enough for a helluva lot of stuff - easily would work as a race bag, especially nice because it's got separate pockets for wet/nasty stuff. There was also a $50 gift certificate good towards Sidi product at Village Cycle Center.... but the best thing in the bag:


Hells yeah. I've got two of these bitches now. Maybe I shouldn't quit triathlon quite yet?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday Link Dump

I haven't done one of these yet, let me know if you hate it.

Palin Baby Name Generator

$85B is a shitload of cash.

90B gallons is a shitload of water.

Interesting proposal as an alternative to "deep tunnel... fascinating.

Indoor MTB Park. Rad.

Chicagoist is losing it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


As less-than-ideal-situations go, I thought I had it bad with the cross bike problems on Saturday.

Nope. Pants off, passed out on the beach in the morning. Never been there, I don't wanna.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun with the Cross Bike

Today was quite the day. Since Gustav's remnants are dumping copious amounts of water all over the midwest you'd think it wasn't a good saturday to ride... au contraire. The original plan was to meet at the Lincoln/Damen Starbucks at 6:30 and ride from there. Since my contact about the *$ meet was Jeff and I had gotten a bail-text from him around 6:05 I had my reservations about leaving the house at all. I got in touch with Boggs who was still waiting at *$ and decided to kit up and get moving. It was completely worth it. I met the others and we rode up Lincoln a ways until I asked what route we were taking that involved so much of Lincoln... nobody had an answer so I took the lead and steered us westbound onto Lawrence en route to Devon/Milwaukee. When we got there, we noticed that the field below the toboggan slides was covered in water - some small patches of grass still visible though.

I've never been disappointed by Randy's clinics and this was no exception to that rule - we covered dismounting, mounting, dismount-barrier-mount, as well as group starts. I'd hoped for better results in the group starts but couldn't seem to get my damned shoes to clip in - I'm spoiled by SPD-SL and it's easy cleat-pedal interface. A normal portion of this clinic involves hill run-ups, but the growing lake in the field below us didn't allow for it. Too bad, shouldering the bike for no apparent reason just isn't quite the same.

At the end of the clinic, this is what we saw at the entrance to the N Branch Trail.

When we arrived, the picnic tables in the pavilion were visible, though water was covering the concrete pad below them - the dumpster serving the pavilion had some water around the base of it... when we left, water had all but topped the dumpster, and the tops of the picnic tables were covered. The North Branch Trail had at least 4' of water over it. An intrepid group of us tried to go north via Milwaukee>Harts Road but found Harts to be covered with rapidly flowing water... not sure exactly how deep it was, but you could definitely feel it pushing on your wheels upon riding through it. Since it would prove difficult to find decent non-flooded trails, we opted to grab a coffee to warm up for the ride home. Along the way we saw several railroad underpasses where cars were being towed out of the water - we also discovered that potholes lie under standing water several times, but luckily none of us flatted.

After I got home, I lounged around a bit and dried out since I had been wet for ~5 hours straight. Around 4 I set out to run some errands and took the cross bike back out. Nothing's quite as fun as putting sopping wet shoes onto dry socks, let me tell you.

As I was heading north along the deserted LFP around Belmont I figured I'd take advantage of the space and continue to practice dismounting/mounting the bike. After several successful rounds, one round that failed miserably (messr bag caught on saddle, oops), and another attempt that led to me face down in a puddle, I figured I'd get moving and finish playing in the mud. As I shifted, I heard some sad noises from my rear derailleur and felt my chain tension against something - not good. I looked back to find this gift from the cycling Gods:

Yeah, that's my rear derailleur. Fuct. Hardcore. Hangar bent 90 degrees all to hell, upside down like it's a trapeze artist or some shit. Sweet.

At this point, it really starts to rain. Thanks.

I snap a few pictures (naturally), whip out the multitool and get to work - hangar needs to come off, cabling removed from shifter & de-routed from lugs, you name it. I stuff everything into my bag while looking for my chain tool... which isn't there. Rock. On. So much for a cassette singlespeed solution to get home. I try to tension the chain across the 53x26 but that's just not happening - every time I put pressure on the cranks, the chain jumps around on the cassette all crazy-like. Chain's gotta come off. The rain lets up a bit.

Solution? Put this morning's skills clinic to the test. I tried running and mounting, but that's all kinds of hard to do when the crank is spinning freely - pedal smashing into my opposite shin, which is pretty cool. Next option, clip into one side and kick myself along with the opposite leg... this option worked best... one leg gets tired, coast it out and switch, the kick along some more. I made it to the Roscoe tunnel and hailed a cab on the other side. Cabbie not so thrilled about muddy wet bike-dude getting into his cab and he made no effort whatsoever to get my bike into his cab. After aborting that attempt at getting to a shop I realized I was only 2 blocks away from Belmont... as I'm scooting along I see a #77 sitting at the light... who knows when the next one will come, so I hop off, shoulder the bike, and run.

Pedestrians really don't know how to react when they see a sopping wet 6'6" dude with a bike on his shoulder running at them. Some, wisely, get the hell outta the way. Others stop like deer in headlights.

I made it to the bus, got the bike to a shop, and it's there for the night. Hopefully they can call me tomorrow with a full assessment of the damages. I need this bike up and running for next Sunday's race, so here's hoping the repairs are relatively straightforward... and that I don't need a new rear derailleur.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


As I was riding yesterday I took a look at my jersey and saw the names printed on my sleeves - it was then I realized that today was significant for a reason other than most remember 9/11 for... it's the day we lost Pieter.

I couldn't not get out and ride. I'm not typically one to "enjoy" climbs, but for some reason they weren't so bad today. Maybe it was the fact that they were there, I was there, my bike there between us.

and back

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway: Rocky River to Downtown

This evening I decided to head west along the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway to see what it had to offer. I searched for maps/cue sheets online unsuccessfully so I figured that I'd just find my way out there. The westbound route from downtown out to Rocky River is essentially the same, save for one stretch through Ohio City where you're on one-way streets for a few blocks. Signs along the route aren't the "standard" green bike route signs w/ a white bike on them, but they are placed just before each turn in the trail. That said, there are a few spots where you've been pedaling along for quite some time without seeing a sign; it would be nice if there were a few more signs to reassure riders that they're still on the right track. The beginning of this review is designed to take you from the Northernmost point of the Rocky River Reservation along roads suitable for an experienced cyclist. If you're not comfortable with riding on roadways and/or with moderate traffic then you may want to try using a street parallel to the one I took. The below route review is written with directions eastbound from Rocky River to Downtown, but should be fairly easy to adapt for westbound travel.

Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway: Rocky River to Downtown

From Valley Parkway & Detroit Road, continue Northbound on Sloane Ave but prepare to make a left turn after ~150m onto Sloane Subway. This short yet very interesting street seems to be the only way to cross an abandoned set of railroad tracks, and spits you out onto Clifton Rd. You'll be traveling along good pavement here, with wide undulating residential streets lined with beautiful homes - this is the case for your entire time spent in Lakewood. You'll cross Rt. 2/US 60/Clifton Blvd, continuing North onto Lake Avenue for a short time until you hit Webb ave and will need to make a quick right followed by a quick left as Lake does not cleanly cross Webb.

Lake Avenue is not an ideal road for recreational cycling, but it's definitely the best option in the area. Traffic is not particularly heavy because of Lake Ave's proximity to US 60. You'll continue for approximately 3.5 miles where you'll make a left onto Cove Ave, approaching many large midrise apartment/condo buildings overlooking Lake Erie. Follow Cove for a block and make a right onto Edgewater Drive. Continue along Edgewater and you'll leave the midrise buildings behind and return to single family homes along both sides of the street. You'll reach the beginning of the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway at the intersection of 115th Street and Edgewater Drive, almost exactly 4 miles from the start.

Edgewater drive continues eastbound, the pavement along this portion is rough at times but in generally good condition. You're on a very gradual downhill here, but you'll soon drop down to lake level. At Edgewater and West Ave, follow the bikeway signs into Edgewater park where you'll continue on a 8'-10' wide path that snakes through the park. Take some time to refill your bottles here if necessary, but be sure to check out the view before you go down the hill.

At this point, check your brakes because you're going to need them - you're in for a 5%-10% descent down to lake level, and there's beach sand blown all over the path. Take care not to hit sand at speed, even experienced cyclists have trouble with staying rubber side down with sand under the tires. The path diverges at the bottom, if you'd prefer to explore the park take a left turn, the path is a loop through the park and will bring you back. If you're heading downtown, keep moving straight and head towards the Rt. 2 underpass. Stay alert here and obey your stop sign, there are cars moving on and off an expressway here and they may not be aware that there's a bike path at the base of the ramp. Put yourself in an easy gear, you're about to climb up about 40 vertical feet in a rather short time.

From the park you'll climb into Ohio City through a subway beneath railroad tracks. Be alert through here, there's quite a few turns in addition to a fair amount of glass in the tunnel, so watch where you're pointing those tires! Once out of the tunnel, there's a bit more twisty climbing to do, so stick it out and you'll find yourself in a light industrial/residential part of Ohio City, @ the intersection of W 65th Street and Father Caruso Drive. Continue south on 65th for a couple blocks and follow the sign to make a left onto Herman Ave for a block, then another right onto 58th followed by a quick left onto Tillman Ave. These turns are all well-signed, but some trees should be trimmed to make finding the signs a little easier. Tillman ave is the eastbound route, westbound riders at this point would use Herman Ave one block to the North. Follow Tillman for two blocks then make a right onto 49th and a quick left onto Detroit Ave.

Detroit Ave is probably the "hairy" section of this ride, but it's really not that bad. The right lane offers parallel parking, which provides the cyclist with 4' between parked car and the dashed lane line divider where traffic flows. Follow Detroit Ave the rest of the way through Ohio City and over the Veteran's Memorial Bridge. A note about the bridge - it was widened beyond the original steel structure at some point and there's a lane to the right of the steel. This is NOT the best place to ride. If you watch the painted lines carefully, you'll notice that the bike lane requires you to cross over the rightmost lane of traffic into the bike lane which is then adjacent to the center travel lane. Once past the main span of the bridge, the center bike lane ends and reappears on the right shoulder once again. This isn't an ideal situation, but with proper signaling a cyclist shouldn't have much problem getting through this area.

Once over the bridge, it's only a few blocks further East to Public Square, Tower City, or anywhere else downtown you'd like to go. Put your bike on the RTA and find a new place to ride, or maybe grab a bite to eat somewhere on 4th ave or the warehouse district.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Making this site better.


Derailleur Hanger, Maybe?

I took the new wheels out for a ride on Labor Day... great fun. Leonard, Peggy, Alberto and I took the team route up to Highland Park. Wheels are stiff and roll VERY smooth - the rear's freehub is very quiet, especially compared to my Ksyriums.

At one point on the way back, I shifted into my 26... and hear a faint "cling cling cling". I've heard this before: rear derailleur cage hitting spokes. Damnit. My hanger's probably bent just slightly - who knows how long it's been that way, probably from the last time I shipped it? The Proctor crash?

Grr. Here's hoping this doesn't turn into a fiasco of parts replacement.