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.