Monday, December 7, 2009

what have I broken/what haven't I broken?

I'm excluding consumables (tires, bar tape etc)...

What haven't I broken on a bike?

seatpost clamp

What have I broken?

Aluminum Frame (cross frame, yesterday, sad trombone)
Carbon Frame
Speedplay Pedals
ISIS-Splined Bottom Bracket
ISIS-Splined Cranks
Front Cyclocross Chainring
Garmin Mount
Shimano R550 Wheels
Mavic Open Pro Rim (don't buy wheels at Performance!!)
Spokes (numerous)
SRAM 9-Speed Chain (2)
Shimano 9-speed 105 Chain
Shimano 9-speed DA Chain
KMC 1/8" Track Chain
105 Front Derailleur
Ultegra Rear Derailleur (2)
Shimano Ultegra Shifters
Carbon Seatpost
Saddle (Rails)

I really don't want to move anything else from the top list to the bottom. Breaking any of those items while riding would be quite... unpleasant.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"the road rage incident heard 'round the cycling world."

Like any other thing that is used to cause harm to another person, whether due to ignorance or negligence, a vehicle is a weapon.

I'm definitely a better driver for being a cyclist.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indian Lakes Cyclocross Race Report

Since South Chicago Wheelmen decided to deviate from the ChiCrossCup formula and host the Indian Lakes race on a Saturday, I was able to sleep in and generally have a lazy Saturday morning - something that hasn't happened in several years. It was great! Pancakes, Awful TV, Newspaper, Coffee. Yes.

It was already 62F outside when I packed up the car to head out to Bloomingdale, and once there it was indeed a perfect day. I forgot the camera so no pictures, sorry. After pre-riding the course a couple of times and watching the 3's, Juniors/Women, and 1/2/3's race, I'd decided that heckling was far too much fun to miss the hecklespectacle of the 4b's race and went to registration to up my category to 4a.

Right off the bat, I was in a bad spot - 4th row before callups. Ugh. As we scooted forward from the holding pen to the start line, I was able to gain a row, but that wasn't of much comfort. This course didn't have much of a hole shot unfortunately, the first 100m or so were just a straight on sprint into a quick and technical 90 degree right, 180, 90 degree right section, followed by another fast 100m before a barrier and the run-up. With the tape staying wide throughout all of this, the first few minutes of the race were a battle to keep your wheels away from others while staying upright and making sure you weren't behind a bad wheel.

I ran the hill the first time because there just wasn't enough space to remount the bike... probably should have run it every lap. After descending and a quick loop around to the back side, there was another barrier and another trip up the hill, albeit the steeper side. The race was a little more strung out at this point so I found my rhythm and settled in. The first sand pit was rideable on the first lap, but I couldn't ride the last meter or so on subsequent laps - I ran the second sand pit every time. On the third(I think) lap, I got to my fateful last meter of the first sand pit, stalled, and attempted to dismount. In my haste, I felt my shoe make contact with something hard - helmet, perhaps? I looked back and saw there had been a guy on my wheel, and I'd just kicked him in the head. After a winded, brief exchange and apology we were off once again.

Pacing is difficult for me in Cyclocross because it requires a pretty immense effort for me to just make the bike move, but I was able to make some progress in this race. With 2 laps to go, I backed off just enough to only let 2 people pass me - this let me get some recovery time in for the last lap, where I drilled it as hard as I could. Coming in on the back stretch, there was a fairly long grass/pavement section where I dialed it up to about 30mph and passed 5 or 6 riders. I wasn't entirely sure that my brakes would slow me down in time for the 180 around the tree that followed, but I was able to bleed enough speed to negotiate that turn without problem.

In picking those guys up, I finished 48th out of about 70 starters. Not in the points or cash, but respectable enough for me.

In all - a great race hosted by the South Chicago Wheelmen. I'm hoping the ChiCrossCup can return here next year, especially since the amenities at this race were the best out of the entire series (Hot Tubs and a Heated Locker Room!).

Oh yeah, and I didn't break a thing, despite numerous heckles encouraging me to "destroy that bike!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Christmas Cards for a Sick Kid

I'm not normally one to spread stuff like this via my blog, but I think this is a pretty noble cause.

"Noah Biorkman is a 5 year old boy, in the last stages of neuroblastoma cancer after a 3-year battle. His family is celebrating Christmas next week and all he wants is Christmas cards. Let's try and see how many we can get to him from all over the world."

Mail cards to:
SOUTH LYON, MI 48178-1568

alternate address:
Noah Biorkman
c/o Scott Biorkman
3480 Petoskey Way
Milford, MI 48380

Found on All Hail the Black Market.

I like Christmas Cards, they're a fun way to stay connected with all the people that you should be calling and visiting far more often than you possibly can. I'm hoping this little guy can get bags of them - pass this on.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guilty Road Rager of the Day

(with apologies to The Great Humongous)

Christopher Thompson
Full Story at:,0,761131.story

Christopher Thompson, 60, is convicted of [
6 Felonies, 1 Misdemeanor, including] mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in the crash that injured cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr on Mandeville Canyon Road in 2008.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rear Derailleur Carnage

Fitting that this bit of horrific news comes right around Halloween. After successfully completing the St Charles 4b's race today, I was riding back over to the area where most of the other xXx'ers were... when I hear a pop, feel the tension on the cranks drop away, and my rear wheel jams. I look down.. to see this.

I think to myself, shit! Another drivetrain failure at this race! Last year, I tore the bead on a tire and had to run half a lap, then finally popped a chain for a DNF. I initially thought that one of the pulleys in the derailleur had failed, bending the derailleur hangar and destroying the chain and derailleur... but upon further inspection:

waaait a minute. the hangar still looks straight?

yeah, that's right. the derailleur itself broke. hell if I know how that happened.

Apparently Shimano has a 2 year warranty on all components (aside from Dura-Ace, 3 years). Here's hoping their warranty process isn't overly cumbersome and/or time consuming.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Hate (apologies to The Car Whisperer)

I'm co-opting thursday hate from The Car Whisperer because there's just so much to hate.

Before that, a word from my sponsor: Starbucks Coffee, 5406 W Devon.

Wanted: Barista With a Sense of Humor

Are you a morning person? Are you a morning person only after you've had a bunch of coffee? In either case, you'll do well here because we're open at the buttcrack of dawn and you can have as much coffee as you want. The pay probably sucks considering you're mostly dealing with assholes who want gas-station cappuccino flavor from our carefully roasted espresso beans, but there's a good chance you can get health insurance after you work here for a while. At no time are you allowed to be surly with these assholes. They're the lifeblood of our business and the money that goes into your pocket will be coming straight from theirs. If someone cracks a joke (especially a not funny joke), suck it up and stroke the customer's ego a little about them being "a funny person". You can make fun of them later if there's down time.

Ok, now that the hate disguised as fake advertisements is done... THE LIST.

- You rode your bike to work?
- Dog Snuggies (that's why they come with a built in FUR COAT, fuckface.)
- "Get on the Sidewalk" from a single occupant in a whale of an SUV.
- "You're blocking traffic" from a non-practicing member of the Illinois bar who is a single occupant in a whale of an SUV
- Single occupants in whale-esque SUV's
- Nosing into parallel parking spots when I have 200 lumens of blink on my handlebars
- Mozzarella and Marinara Pringles. So much wrong about shaped, flavored, dried potato slurry.
- 70% Chance of Rain and 43 degrees Farenheit

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hump Day Cyclocross Hump Awesomeness

This photo sums up how totally awesome Cyclocross is.

Bartlett CX 4B's
Originally uploaded by Luke

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bartlett Chicrosscup

Why do I look pissed, angry at the world? Not because I've managed to isolate the source of my lower back pains and have resolved it, not because I just got passed... because I totally screwed up the sprint for the hole shot by not clipping in quick enough and not being as aggressive as I should be.

As seems to be the case, I was slowly and steadily picked up and dropped by several riders through the three laps in my 4b's race, which wouldn't have bothered me if I hadn't been 20th+ at the first corner. I almost puked three different times, and every time I looked down at my Garmin, it further confirmed that I was "doing it right", with an average 183bpm on the course.

I finished in the top half, 37th our of 73 starters. 7 places away from points that would have helped the team's overall standings, but it was still a fun race. I've found my ability to corner at speed while staying off the brakes, and seem to have figured out what kind of tire pressure I can run in order to keep the tire on the rim. Those two combined to give me some pretty good efficiency through the technical sections - I was making ground on people and felt really good about the race. The "heckle hill" run-up was a different story - A knobbier rear would have helped as I was spinning out 3/4 of the way up the hill pretty much every time. I'll definitely be throwing my other set of tires in the trunk just in case the St. Charles race is similarly muddy.

Looking at me next to the other guys out there, it's safe to say that I'm the biggest guy in the race. Sure, I've got surplus kilos on me, but don't we all this time of year? Right after I finished and was dry heaving, a Bicycle Heaven rider dismounted and laid in the grass next to his buddies. As he's laying there, panting...

Rider: "Man, I couldn't catch that big xXx dude..."
Buddy: "Which one?"
Rider: "The fat fucker, on the Yellow Trek, man - I just couldn't get him!"
Me: "Uh, are you talking about me?"
Buddy: "Dude, he's right over there."
Rider (Rolls over to see me standing 15 feet away): "Oh yeah - dude, I couldn't catch you! Good riding"

I can only imagine where that conversation would have gone without my interjection. All I have to say about the situation is that if I had the body mass of that guy, there's a lot more people who wouldn't have been able to catch "the big xXx dude...on the yellow trek".

In other news, I didn't break anything!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

stop not stopping? stop!

If you didn't already know, Idaho recently amended its' traffic code to allow cyclists to legally roll stop signs when the way is clear of vehicles and pedestrians.

Here's a video summary:

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Slate published an article about the concept last week, and the Active Transportation Alliance here in Chicago has posed the question, "Are you a vehicular cyclist or a facilitator?"

I see myself in the grey area between being a vehicular cyclist and a facilitator, how about you? When drivers yell at me for rolling a stop sign, I wish there was a way to say "seriously, have you ever rolled a stop sign in that car EVER?!" in two or three yellable syllables. Bike lanes are great, though I see drivers give no respect to them on a regular basis. Bike paths like Chicago's Lakefront Path can be good, but they're no place for bikes traveling at 17-20mph, not to mention that path intersections like those around Montrose point are the scene of many a collision between cars and path users.

Last, here's a great article about a dutch town that took a hard look at the way people moved around town and actually did something about increasing everyone's safety... notice there's no mention of "safety-enhancing" red light cameras (and red lights!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cyclocross = Awesome

Excellent Article from Luke in Today's Chicago Tribune...,0,2801142.story

Go buy a paper. When you're done reading it, use it inside your jersey instead of a namby-pamby wind vest.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Car Whisperer: AR Friday

I couldn't have said it better myself...

The Car Whisperer: AR Friday

Seriously, though... two 8 point bucks within a mile or two of each other in this tiny little stretch of forest preserve?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Track Powertap

I've heard rumors that the crew had been working on a track powertap conversion for quite a while, but this is the first I've seen of it.


I want one. Laced into a Stinger 90. Haut.

More Info:

I'd better water my money tree, it's looking a little sickly.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Small Stuff

I get "Tips of the Day" in my work email. Here's today's:

Sweating the small stuff may not be good advice when dealing with daily stresses, but experts say it may be the most effective approach when it comes to weight control. Try setting small, specific goals such as substituting every other soda with a glass of water or committing to a one-mile walk three times per week after dinner. Procrastination also gets in the way of forming healthier habits, so start today! For more useful tips, go to

While I agree with a lot of these weight management tips, maybe I'm just too harsh on myself when it comes to these sorts of things... small, specific goals sure are easier to attain, but is cutting soda out of your diet really that big of a deal? There's no time commitment, no equipment to buy, and there are immediate (relatively) benefits that you can see and feel that are immediately connected to stopping drinking carbonated acid-water.

I don't even want to get started on the whole "I'll start my diet next week" crap.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

an open letter to Blockbuster's marketing team

I got this in my email today... I was a Blockbuster Online customer a few years ago, when they first started the service. I figured I'd try it out and see how it compared. (That story ends with me still being a happy Netflix customer some years later)

One of the things I did like about Blockbuster was that you could return/exchange DVD's in the store - a significant advantage over Netflix since there aren't any Netflix stores. In the offer (below) they state plainly that they're still doing this.

As a direct marketer with an appreciation for the medium, I figured I'd click through the offer and see what they had for me. I was mostly curious about where the closest Blockbuster was, since I've not had to find one for quite some time. Here's what the store locator shows for my ZIP Code:

In looking at the map, I thought that there were quite a few more stores close to me, though I'd noticed that a couple of them had closed lately. I figured I'd search "blockbuster" in Google Maps to see what I could come up with.

Sure enough, there's a bunch of stores that apparently aren't there any more. I recall that there were also stores in several locations (School & Lincoln, Irving & Lincoln) that don't show up on either map.

So, Blockbuster - here's my question to you. What are you trying to accomplish by marketing an overall inferior product (Blockbuster's suggestion engine is AWFUL!) in an area where you've recently closed a BUNCH of stores when your only competitive advantage relies on the physical presence that you just diminished?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cedar Point

My first visit to America's Roller Coast... holy shit I forgot how much I love Roller Coasters!

I went for a ride from our hotel in the morning, what a beautiful morning to ride. Close to the end, I was confronted by the Cedar Point Police (park security)... the guy was yelling something out the window, I kept pedaling and yelling "what!?" at him (I now assume he was telling me to pull over), then asked if he was pulling me over. At that point, he hit the brakes, flipped on the lights and hit the siren. I found a spot to pull over on the side, then he told me that I wasn't supposed to be riding on the causeway. I legitimately hadn't seen the signs, told him this, then he told me he'd "have to escort me the rest of the way" off the causeway. I was on my way back to the hotel so I dialed it up to about 31mph (in a 30mph speed zone, hehe) into a seriously nasty headwind, spiked my heart rate, and got the hell out of there. I know the guy was doing his job, but at 7am who's LEAVING a theme park? Just coaster-loving cyclists.

Tracy was a good sport about trying out a few of the rides, but after a harrowing front-car trip on Magnum XL-200 she decided that her Coaster days were behind her. I'm glad she was willing to wait the lines with me, even if she'd take the chicken exit once we got to the platform.

I took some video of the "Top Thrill Dragster"ride in operation that I'll post in an update later... holy hell it looked like it would be quite a ride, too bad it broke down when I was 5 minutes away from getting on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm not the only one!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Found: Wrench

It's been a while since I posted one of these...

I'm now the proud owner of a 10mm wrench. Handily timed since my cantilever brakes need adjusting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Friday!

Between Critical Mass and Taste of Chicago tonight, traffic's going to be a total clusterfuck. If only there was a place you could ride to and share a delicious hot dog with friends...

Oh wait, there is.
See you at 5:30.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Soldier Field Cycling

Soldier Field Cycling #1

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the south parking lot last night. The site was well put together and showed a lot of promise, but designing a website is quite different from designing a race course and playing host to a bunch of twitchy roadies with calories to burn.

When we rolled up, I was impressed by the inflatable start/finish archway courtesy of SRAM as well as the Kozy's Cyclery and Pepsi Max presence. There was a good amount of signage around the start/finish that indicated financial support from other businesses such as Chipotle. For a group who hadn't promoted and hosted a bicycle race before, they seemed to be way ahead of what some well-established teams manage to coordinate.

The registration table was a breeze since I had pre-registered, though the USAC waivers weren't already filled out with my information. (Race Organizers take note - you can make your lives and ours easier if you pre-fill the waivers for preregistered riders!) I whipped out one of my handy pre-filled forms, added the race name and date, signed and recieved my number. With the Women's race down to 5 laps to go, I pinned up and noticed that there sure seemed to be a lot of people warming up - it was later confirmed that the 4/5 race had indeed sold out via pre-registration.

Soldier Field Cycling's course was well marked with cones, barricades, and fencing - and the appropriate medium was in the appropriate place- rather than barriers in tight corners, cones or snow fencing was used to minimize injuries in the event of a crash. Well thought out, Soldier Field Cycling. Recognizing that race organizers can only go so far in preparing a course, I can't complain about the parking lot's surface too much... except for the huge hole in between two of the hairiest turns on the course. I'm convinced this hole is what kept the race so strung out. Between turns 3 & 4 was a 5 foot long, two foot wide gash in the pavement that was filled with water. I'm hoping that Chicago Park District is able to get out and patch this thing before the next race on July 1st.

Racing went well. Being a brand new course and a 4/5 race at the same time, the first two laps seemed rather tenative as people seemed to be sizing up the competition. I started out about 10th wheel and quickly decided that I wanted to use this race as an opportunity to work on things I struggle with and to try something I've never done before... I started with the latter and decided to take a flyer.

With a strong xXx presence doing quite a lot of work at the front, I moved from about 20th wheel to the front at which point I realized that I was going about 5mph faster than my teammates and I'd have to hit the brakes to settle in with them. Rather than letting friction undo my hard work, I shifted, stood, and rocketed off the front to see what would happen. Having watched many, many of these unsuccessful efforts in the past, I expected to be chased down rather quickly. To my surprise, I managed to stay off for an entire lap while a chase effort was put together by the field, no thanks to my blocking teammates I'm sure. I managed to get about 1/3 of a lap on the field at one point, but after passing the time clock with 18 minutes to go, I knew I couldn't time trial my way to victory and soft pedaled until I was caught.

The remainder of the race I shifted from hanging off the back to mid-pack and with single digit laps to go I seemed to find myself on the wheel of the next guy being dropped... I'd realize what was happening and have to sprint to make up not only the rubberband but also make up the gap that had formed between the pack and the dropped rider. Each time I managed to catch the pack, but I also towed a fair number of riders back up with me, who showed their gratitude by accelerating around me as soon as we caught back on.

I had a blast at the inaugural Soldier Field Cycling race last night and I'm very much looking forward to the remainder of the series. It was sketchy at times, but no more so than most 75-rider 4/5 criteriums.

Many thanks to the folks at Soldier Field Cycling and all of the sponsors who helped make it happen. Here's to a Chipotle burrito prime next time!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corsica Photos

A fantastic trip with an incredible woman at my side.

More Pictures on facebook... if you can't see them, you need to friend me!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Decent Proposal

I asked, she said yes. Woot!

You think she was excited? :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eric Sprattling Memorial Ride

I've wanted to do this ride every year but haven't ever felt like I was in shape enough to hang with the group past Old School. I'm hoping that Saturday's epic will agree with my body.

There's something about how you feel after something like this... food tastes better, the sun feels warmer, and you're oh so very glad to be alive. That sounds like the perfect way to kick off a vacation.

For more information on Eric, click here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wonder Lake Criterium

I'd waited until the last minute to decide to race Wonder Lake, and I'm very glad that I made the drive out there for the race. The course was easy to find, the weather couldn't have been more perfect.

When we arrived, I wasn't surprised that the course went through a residential area, though the mailboxes lining every street were a little disconcerting. No attacking in the gutter on this one! I took a preview lap of the course - smooth pavement, no sealant-filled cracks to get your tire stuck in, and a nice little downhill immediately before the finish. Despite all of these positive characteristics, I couldn't help but think that this course was quite narrow for the advertised field sizes. With the road as narrow as twelve feet(a guesS) between turns 1 and 2 I'm not sure what the officials would have done had the 4's field reached the limit of 100 riders - no way you could get that many out here without some carnage. With 24 starting riders, we still had a few issues but overall the 4's kept things safe.

In the past, I've had problems in staying at the front and have always been dropped. I knew that I'd be able to move around in the field since it was so small, so I allowed myself to move back and forth a few times. My track experience suits me well because I'm more comfortable in tight situations than I ever have been, but I found myself braking into turns several times and having to put considerable efforts in to make up for it. Backing off the brakes in lap four I found it much easier to keep my speed even and was grateful to keep my position through every turn.

Throughout the beginning of the race, I managed to stay in the top 10 wheels despite being on the brakes, but had been slowly drifting back. Around 10 minutes into the race, we came across the start/finish and a kid on a BMX bike cut across the course only feet from the lead rider. This really freaked a bunch of people out since we'd been coming through around 28-30mph, and many riders sat up. Capitalizing on this, a few people attacked, entirely mixing the field up. Within the next few laps, we came around turn 4 and got another "present" - someone had backed a white minivan out of a driveway and was sitting in the middle of the course as we came down the hill at 30mph right before the finish line. A rider yelled "we need to cool it a bit guys this is too much" and the race did seem to slow a bit.

Despite the general slowing, I wasn't interested in the probing attacks being thrown off the front by Bob, Dave and Tom so I allowed myself to drift back. The rubberband effect was noticeable but wasn't so bad because of the small field, but it was there. With the pace slowed, I moved up a wheel or two each lap to make sure I was placed well. Positioned in the middle, I noticed that people were starting to jockey for position, including the rider that decided to move up on my outside right before turn one. I felt handlebars in my hip, and noticed a mailbox coming up on my left so I took a quick glance - I heard a wheel rub and saw a flash of blue heading through someone's front yard. I pedaled HARD through turn one to distance myself from that lunacy.

With three to go and a predictable pattern of slowing/accelerating, I carefully chose my efforts to maximize positioning on the last five laps. Many props to the teamwork shown by Dave Dokko, pulling the entire field HARD and stringing things out for two or three solid laps. Sitting near the middle with with one to go, I made my move up the inside between turns one and two, then up the outside between turns two and three. I didn't make it up as far as I'd have liked on that last effort, but seeing four teammates ahead of me I knew that we'd have some good results on the day. Coming around the LONG outside of a sweeping turn four I put the hammer down, pushing my Tiburzi into a 38mph sprint and netting 10th place. Tom Briney closed a decent gap to take the top of the Podium, with Bob taking a respectable 6th place finish.

I'm hoping that Wonder Lake will be on the calendar for next year, but with some field size limitations and some additional staff to marshal the course. It's a fantastic area with great scenery, but isn't suitable for large fields.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ride the City

Seems that this site's been up and running in NYC for a little while, now they're spreading the love to us here in Chicago.

Essentially, it serves as the "bike" option that Google Maps doesn't offer alongside "Public Transit" and "Walking" when searching for directions. Hopefully this will help people choose safer routes - I cringe every time I see someone riding down Ashland or Western... there are such great alternates like Damen, if only people knew it had a non-shared bike lane on most of it!

An Alpha for Chicago is available here:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lance and Bowerman meet on the LFP

As usual, Mondays are a 60 minute Active Recovery ride for me - tonight I set out on the Lakefront Path (LFP) to get my easy hour in. Keep in mind that AR rides are sloooow. It's taken me quite a while to really get the hang of it, but now I actually enjoy riding under 120bpm at 13-15mph.

I'd ridden down to the Oak Street Chicane and turned around after seeing nasty skies, figuring it's better to be closer to home than not if the skies rip open on me. On my way back north, just barely north of Belmont, I call out 'on yer left' to a guy jogging on the path's yellow line at belmont... let me present:


me: on yer left!

jerk: room for you assholes...

me: (Slowing) What's that?

jerk: Yo, Lance - you guys think you can... (I'm still too far away)

Lance: (I've apparently been renamed) Sorry?

Bowerman (tit for tat. I can rename him to a famous runner): Like, where were you in February, huh?

Lance: Me? On this path, right here. By the way, my name's not Lance.

Bowerman: Yeah, Lance. right here, baby. I run yeeear round. Lance.
(editor's note: editor is not in peak physical condition, but being around a LOT of very physically fit people, I "know it when I see it". He wasn't it. He did, however, point to the ground and himself in a fashion similar to this douche on the right.)

Lance: Um, ok. I'm out here all the time, man. I even have Gore-Tex winter boots.

Bowerman: ...Lance.

Lance: Why all the hate, anyway?

Bowerman: You guys think you're such... (inintelligible aside from another Lance)

Lance: I'm not just some pathlete, dude. I'm pretty serious...

Bowerman: Ha. Pathlete. That's a pretty good one, Lance.

Lance: Ok, whatever, douchebag. Have a good night.

With that, I rode away and finished my Active Recovery ride, though my HR was around 130 because of my frustrating conversation with this idiot.

I'm still not entirely sure why I slowed down, I guess I thought he might have something interesting to say? FAIL. Whatever. I should work on ignoring idiots like this, especially since this kind of heckling will never, ever cease. People don't get cyclists, we're a strange looking bunch, shaved legs and Lycra and the "little seats and weird pedals". Like most people, they ridicule what they don't understand... and they definitely don't understand a wet, snowy lakefront path ride in February when it's 28 degrees outside.

Maybe I pay attention to them because I just want to put them on a bike, especially at the velodrome, and help them understand a bit.
I guess I can let Peak Oil put them on a bike. There's enough people at the velodrome already, we don't need a bunch of jerks ruining our fun.

Violence against Cyclists

From Bob's blog: "Cyclists ambushed with wall of flames"

Yikes. Let's hope this kind of crap doesn't start over here in the US.

I've noticed a great amount of aggression from drivers lately, maybe because it's because I'm putting more commute miles in that in years past, maybe it's because of traffic, fuel costs, or just the economy being a drag on people's constitution.

The other day, The Car Whisperer and I were on our way home when we noticed a Woman trying to cross Elston/Grace with three kids and a stroller... she was at a crosswalk but there wasn't a stop sign for quite a distance. As I notice that she's starting to cross, I look behind me to see an SUV about 200m back, hurtling towards us all. I swerve out of the bike lane to make sure they're paying attention, and I get a honk out of it. At least they saw me because of my swerve. They're upon me shortly, screaming at the both of us "you have a bike lane, this is the car lane, stay in the bike lane! eeeeediot!" After this inital volley of pleasantries, neither TCW nor myself are really inclined to proceed gingerly, so we lob back a few "there were pedestrians in the sidewalk, slow down, wtf! etc"

The mother shoots me a glance as if to say "thanks!" then gets her kids and stroller quickly away from the situation lest it escalate. TCW and I roll forth, then the SUV starts tailing us, honking like crazy. In a stroke of genius, TCW replies with a gesture the likes of which I've not seen in response to a driver's honk, but certainly one that I'll use going forward... let's just say it went a little something like what's 1:00 into this clip:

Yeah. Something like that, but less wii, less basement-living room, and done while on a bike at 15mph. That guy's got mad skillz.

In either case, he got a laugh out of the angry driver, most of the drivers sitting at Elston/Kimball, as well as a few pedestrians who saw what was going on.

I doubt it'd be as effective against a wall of flames.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Allvoi Cup

Track fans, rejoice... the Allvoi cup is closing in on us, first date is June 20th.

Event Flyer (PDF)

This is definitely going to be a fun event and I'm looking forward to seeing how many people show up and from how far away - with $7000 in prize money it's sure to attract racers from all over the midwest.

Many, many thanks to WDT-Allvoi for putting this on, I can only imagine the countless hours it's taken to get this up and running.

WDT-Allvoi Event Website

Monday, April 20, 2009


Sunday's weather was typical April Chicago weather. Total shit.

48F and raining, I need two hours' endurance... I look at the track bike sitting on the trainer in the corner of my living room, then I look at my winter northwaves in the middle of the bedroom floor... sorry, trainer. you lose.

15 minutes into the ride, I notice there's water under the screen of my Garmin Forerunner - this has happened before, so I don't worry about it.

At 45 minutes, water is visible covering most of the screen... it's never moved that fast before.

1:30 into the ride, the display is completely full of water starts changing contrast on it's own - bad sign. I take the unit off the handlebars and as I do, it shuts off. I stick it in my pocket and finish the ride.

Once I got home, I tried using a hair dryer, a ziploc bag with silica gel, anything - no luck.

Garmin's tech support has once again been unbelievable. I've had products of theirs meet untimely ends in the past and they've always stood behind the products, this time included. I'm shipping it off to Kansas today and will hopefully have a refurbished Forerunner in a week or so.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

this hasn't been my week

this hasn't been my week, for serious.

I hope bad things do come in threes, because yesterday rounded out #3.

It all started when I walked out to my car to head to work last Monday... I notice that the Gas Door is open - Strange. I look in the window, the contents of my glovebox are strewn about the front seat/floor and the center console's contents are in the driver's seat. Fantastic.

I unlock(at least they didn't want anyone else getting in!) the car and cram everything back into it's spot, trying to figure out what was missing... hmm. Electric Razor, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Thule Rack Key (you think you're clever!), Watch, $20 emergency gas cash, two umbrellas (it was sleeting that night), and a bike multitool.

Nice little haul amounting to $750 or so.

I replaced the Thule locks that night so I wouldn't come out to find the rack missing the next day.

The rest of the week wasn't too bad - managed to ride almost 265 miles with little problem, until mile 264.7, three blocks from home. I'm just south of Belmont on Sheffield and reaching for a water bottle when the perfect storm of who-knows-what broadsides me with some serious instability. Feeling the pending loss of control, I put my left hand onto the bars as quickly as possible - right on top of my powertap computer. Anyone who's ever used a powertap has probably wondered how durable that bracket is. Notsomuch.

Powertap bracket snaps, sending my hand over the bars and my right hand forward, shoving the front wheel to the left and my shoulder into the pavement. Two wheels untrued, derailleur hangar bent. I drag myself up out of the street, snap my Garmin back onto my handlebars (it popped out of the bracket also), and find my powertap computer in the other lane, smashed. Fantastic.

After I'm home and cleaned up, time to get the bike back in action. The trusty cross bike helps me get the Stallion Hed Ardennes into Roscoe Village Bikes (fantastic shop, btw) to be trued up (same-day, RAWK!) then head out in search of a derailleur hangar. After hitting 3 or 4 shops, it's apparent I need to order one. The crazy italian guy over at Pet Ego who's responsible for our team's fantastic relationship with Hed and Max Lelli says he's got some on the way from Italy, it'll just be a few days.

Easter Sunday, I head out on the Cafe Deluca ride on my 'B' bike, the orange Cannondale. No incidents.

Tuesday, I head to xXx Sprint Practice down at Northerly Island, where Coach Randy takes us through various sprint drills. On the 6th sprint of 7, I was to be trackstanding at the line when another rider passed me, then I had to accelerate and catch his wheel. Since I was on my 'B' bike with my always-before-stable Mavic Open Pro/Ultegra Hub wheels, I gave no thought whatsoever to putting every ounce of effort into catching The Car Whisperer as he blasted past me at the start line. About ten kicks into the acceleration, I hear a bunch of sad bike noises and a loud crack as I am hurled over my handlebars, my face and helmet smashing into the ground. Ow. Face + Asphalt at 26mph.

Instincts kick in immediately and I get up and drag myself out of the "street" (we were on a closed course) to go sit on the curb. As I'm walking over I hear someone say "oh man, he's bleeding!" and notice a drop of blood fall from above my left eye. I sit down, take off my helmet, and people converge around me. I never lost lucidity, nor passed out, but I was definitely shaken up. After about 15 minutes, Matt gives me a ride home and Tracy and I head to the ER at Illinois Masonic where the great staff hooked me up with seven stitches for my lightning-bolt shaped scar.

this is the prettiest it's been.

Job well done, Rudy Actyum.

My Rudy Project Actyum helmet did its job and cracked at the point of impact. I'm sad that I've lost the nicest helmet that I've ever owned, but I'm glad the helmet cracked instead of my skull. The cut on my face was most definitely caused by the jagged, sharp frame from my glasses... I suppose the lenses have to be shatterproof, but the frame doesn't?

I'm quite glad that Tuesday's wheel incident didn't happen on the Sunday DeLuca ride where we were double paceline all the way out on Ogden. Eight spokes were left de-tensioned in that wheel, and I just can't figure out how the hell that happened.

I told the tale of the Saturday crash to the great folks at Saris and they informed me that they'd warranty replace my powertap computer and mount, then provided me with an RMA # and address to send it to. This is what customer service used to be and should still be. Saris, you've most definitely turned me into a customer advocate for your products.
Smith Optics has been similarly cool about the whole situation. I called and they informed me that they don't make the white V-Ti's any more, but the guy I spoke with said he'd seen a few in the warehouse and that they'd sell me the frame only for $50 even though they don't normally sell to consumers, nor do they even sell anything other than full kits. Thanks, Smith Optics.

The shop where I purchased the wheels was pretty suspiscious that I was lying about not running that front wheel into some kind of an object, but I stuck to my story and mentioned that fifteen people saw the wheel buckle underneath me which pretty much struck the tale into stone for them. I'll update once I've heard from Mavic and the shop - I'm hoping that they'll help me out with a new helmet and glasses since both were destroyed as a result of the wheel failure. Hopefully this shop will provide a high level of customer service and I'll keep shopping there, but
I really doubt that I'll ever purchase wheels from them again - too important a piece of equipment to trust "just anyone" to. I'll stick to handbuilt wheels either from Hed or known local reliable wheelbuilders such as Alex or Marcus.
Speaking of Hed's wheels, my good Italian friend and cheese-pusher relayed this story to the folks over at Hed, and they're interested in coming up with a set of wheels for me that will not only be strong as hell, will look smooth and be fast. I'll update with more information on that front later.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weight, Lifting.

As I usually do whenever I'm at the office's Fitness Center, I weighed in.... to my pleasant surprise:

Looking to achieve balance in life, I moved the big weight down to the "200" mark and the little weight over to the "49". Success.

This day just got a hell of a lot better.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 Hillsboro-Roubaix Race Report

Going into this race, I had no plans to win - I've come to terms with the fact that I don't stand a chance in races with climbs. My goal: stay with the pack for the first lap, at least through feed zone hill. The race started out as expected, the "neutral" rollout from town being anything but neutral. With fields this size and a centerline rule in effect (more on that later) people were taking any chance they had to move closer to the front. I was about halfway back at the start but was trying to make space for teammates to move up and lost about 20 spots through the first 20 or so miles.

As we wound our way through the Illinois countryside, it became pretty obvious that people weren't too concerned about the centerline rule. Numerous times I'd be riding "too close for comfort" when a rider or two would move past me. At one point, the Commisaire was on the course and stood out into the road, yelling "GET OVER, ALL OF YOUSE!", slowing the field down considerably. For the next half mile or so we tightened up, but then it was shitshow as usual once the officials weren't around. As we started to turn south into the roller-esque section, the speed modulation started... in awful fashion. At one point I became the cheese of a wheel rub sandwich, but we all kept the rubber side down, though I'm sure the everyone's heart rates spiked as a result. I managed to keep my wits about me and stay in a decent echelon draft through most of the crosswinds, though I found myself on the "wrong side" several times as the result of a quick series of turns.

As we hit the feed zone my arch nemesis Gravity started to tug at my seatpost, pulling me further and further back within the group.

I felt like I was riding one of these.

By the time I hit the bottom of the second climb, the leaders were at the bricks and the back of the group had already crested... my race was over, yet far from over. At the top of the second climb, I noticed that riders were strung out, casualties of the attack between the climbs. As we bounced our way through town on the bricks, I started calling out to the far-flung riders that we'd need to work together if we had any hope of surviving the this race with any kind of dignity. We were 3 men strong as we rolled past the start/finish. As we rolled out of town, I saw a photographer on the side of the road and decided that a downnhill sprint was in order... at least look good while you're losing, right? The group sensed an attack and followed, so we caught a few more as we crested the first climb out of town, when a Ghisallo rider attacked. We all agreed that we didn't want any part of it, so we let him go.

As we turned into the first crosswind, I polled the group to see if they knew how to rotate through an echelon draft. 2 of us did, so I put myself on the other side of the rotation from him and we got it going smoothly. As we'd make turns into variying wind directions, I'd command "straight line!", "echelon right!", "echelon left!" etc, and we made some seriously good time, picking up 5 or 6 more riders in the first 8-10 miles out of town. It felt great to be able to organize the group like that, and a few riders thanked me for directing the group.

Once on the back stretch, we picked up another group of 5ish riders and it quickly became clear that they were looking for wheels to suck. At one point, a rider pulled off and started digging through his jersey pockets for something... to my surprise he pulled out... a completely sealed Clif Bar. In a Race. His fully open vest flapping in the wind, I ask him, "dude are you seriously eating a bar?" His response: "I'mstarvinghaven'teatenanything". Since we were 1:20 into the race at that point, I said "Welcome to bonktown", took a pull, and we dropped him.

The remaining 10 miles back to town, the original group and one or two of the newly caught riders would pull through the Echelon, but the rest were there for the ride. As we approached feed zone hill, the Ghisallo rider who had taken that early 2nd lap flyer attacked, and I chased along with a guy from Wheel Fast. About 3/4 of the way up the hill, my legs were cooked... I looked down at the powertap to see 800 something Watts and 194bpm. I looked behind me and didn't see any shoulder numbers starting with a '4' so I settled in and started to recover. I tried to bridge up to Wheel Fast and Ghisallo on the bricks, but they had too much space on me and finished about 150m ahead - I came in 62nd. After the race, Wheel Fast rolled over and told me that he'd gotten the Ghisallo rider at the line, he was intent on doing so because "that guy sucked wheel for the last half and never took a pull", which I hadn't noticed from my obstructed view cheap seats in the pain cave.

In all, it was a successful Hillsboro - I didn't get pushed into the gutter like last year, and I was able to stay with the group to the point that I had set out to. I'm also quite satisfied that I was able to lead my group through some pretty tricky draft formation changes despite not knowing any of them from Adam. Until next year, Hillsboro... maybe I'll figure out how to climb and it'll be a different story.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New to Bicycling?

Got this facebook message thread from a friend...


Between You and Someone Else

Someone Else
Today at 12:42pm


I understand you are quite the cyclist/athlete so I ask you this:How can I get faster and or lose 40 pounds by riding my bike and how do I change spokes and how can I GO FAST ON MY PIECE OF SHIT HYBRID SCHWINN????? Websites? Secret-Crank-sets that give you super speed?? And how bout shorts for my jock? May jock gives up before my legs.....HELP a dillatante(me) become the real deal (you)...

Thanks for any advice and/or insults that you can throw back this way,

Someone Else

Today at 12:59pm

I am glad to's my $.02:
Obligatory insult from a racing snob. You have to look PRO to be PRO. Get rid of the shitty WalMart-Chinabike and get your fat ass to a real shop and spend a modest $1500 on a Specialized, LeMond or a Trek. It's worth it. Get a bike fit before you leave the store. It's also worth it. More so even.

A. Ride faster even when it hurts. Greg Lemond said, "It never gets any easier, you just get faster." this morning I rode 9 three minute intervals as hard as I could until I nearly puked. I do it once a week...then tomorrow I go on a suicidally fast "training" ride with a bunch of spandex clad psychos out of an Evanston Bike Shop, Turin...30 miles in about an hour and half. Great race training.

B) While you're riding fast, eat a bit less. Don't diet, but eat out a lot less, cut out the fried foods, and cut out the alcohol during the week and when you're alone. A LOT of excess calories in there. DON'T DIET. this is a lifestyle change, not a get-skinny-quick change. If you diet you won't have enough energy to ride faster. aim for 2 pounds a week. If you plateau, take a look at your routine and change a few things.

C) oh yeah...get more sleep. Like at least 6 solid hours. Alcohol (and caffeine) fuck up your sleep patterns...

As the weight goes down and the power goes up, you get faster. Self-esteem goes way up. Full-disclosure: your current social life will probably suffer...but if you are really enjoying riding and want results to enjoy it even more, you gotta do what you want.

D) shorts. Go to Performance Bike, Get a Grip, Pony Shop or Turin (last two are in Evstn) and get a GOOD pair of shorts, bib shorts. Don't go completely cheap, but you don't need the $200 pair. $50-75 oughta do it. And get chamois creme. Prevents chafing. Don't be afraid to ask how to use it, and don't let any snobbery from the employees get in the way. It comes with the territory of delving into serious cycling. They treat every newbie like shit. It's nothing personal. Just don't let them sell you the farm.

In a nutshell? Ride more, ride with people you like, eat healthier, drink less, a get a pair of bike pair of GOOD bike shorts.

Good luck.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Training with Power

I'm very satisfied with the Ardennes' performance so far, enough that I decided to have the my new Powertap PRO+ laced into a Hed Ardennes rear wheel so I have a matching set. Neither wheel is out of true, even after ~700 road miles. My 32 hole ultegra-hub open pros didn't even last this long.

My new wheel arrived today and I'm taking it out for an AR ride... I'll have to do some quick jumps just to see the wattage numbers spike... I wonder how high I can make it go?


1436 Watts :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

xXx 2009 Winter Camp Report

2009's winter camp was a success - I feel much stronger and faster every year, though it seems that everyone on the team is stronger and faster. I'm not immediately off the back when we're climbing Men's Colony Hill, which tells me that I'm making progress.

Weighing in at 260 on the Friday before we left was encouraging, but weighing in at 258 yesterday morning was MORE encouraging. Most people GAIN weight at camp because we're riding so much that you just have to eat like a fiend. 38 pounds to go and I'm in Carbon Wheel territory. Lighter Me + Heds + Track = Fast.

Several of my teammates have written day-by-day accounts that I can't hold a candle to - I suggest you see their blogs for all the juicy details:

The Car Whisperer
Race Your Bike

What I can offer you, though... is data. Below are links to my GPS tracks from each day, embarrassingly slow climbing speeds and all.

Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:
Day 4:
Day 5:
Day 6:
Day 7:
Day 8:
(my Forerunner started giving out on me on Day 7, mileage on Days 7 & 8 is shorter than actual)

I'm very excited to say that I successfully rode Peachy Canyon AND summited Black Mountain this year. Black Mountain is one hell of a climb (Day 5) and I'd attempted it once before but wasn't able to summit. It cost me a quicklink (FSA Quick Links SUCK!! Buy SRAM) but I did make it to the top:

How sweet it was.

The rest of camp was great, but after Peachy and Black Mountain I was satisfied with the week's successes and just didn't want' to crash or break anything. Saturday's (Day 8) climb up Prefumo Canyon did give me a scare - I crossed a cattle guard and hit a big hole on the other side... and heard a rather loud "pop" from the bike. I stopped to check for cracks/problems and everything seemed solid so I continued. When I reassembled the bike at home in Chicago, I inspected both the fork and seatpost and didn't see any problems... I'm hoping it was just one of the "funky carbon noises" that people tell me happen from time to time.

The Stallion Build Hed. Ardennes performed wonderfully, so much that I've decided to build my powertap into them. If a lightweight wheelset can take the beating that I've put it through (especially through Prefumo Canyon's cattle guarded kermesse-style summit) and still stay true, they're more than alright by me. Trips to SLO in years past have knocked my Ksyriums out of true, so I'm quite happy that the Ardennes are as good as the reviews all say.

Hopefully I didn't break the new bike before I've even had a chance to race it.

Hillsboro-Roubaix, two weeks. Hoo yah.

Friday, March 6, 2009


xXx Racing is off to San Luis Obispo today. It'll be an awesome 8 days of riding... here's hoping that the new bike, new wheels, and newly trained engine are up to the task.

Can I get a hell yeah for that forecast?

The Wall :) (keep in mind, I hate climbing and I think this is fun because of the sheer ridiculousness of it)

Here are motionbased links to the 2007 trip:
Day 1: 27.5mi
Day 2: 69.1mi
Day 3: 46.8mi
Day 4: 12.2mi (Rest Day)
Day 5: 71.5mi (Black Mountain, I didn’t go all the way up though)
Day 6: 39.7mi
Day 7: 81.7mi (The Wall)
Day 8: 27.4mi

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thank You, Sponsors.

Your support is going to make this year better than ever.

{ Sponsored by AthletiCo }

{ Sponsored by Goose Island }

{ Sponsored by Max Lelli Bikes }

{ Sponsored by HED Cycling }

{ Sponsored by Clif }

{ Sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance }

{ Sponsored by Rudy Project }

{ Sponsored by Saris }

{ Sponsored by Pactimo }

{ Powered by SRAM }

{ We support World Bike Relief }