Blow the Cobwebs Out.

Last night, a group of us headed out on gravel at 6pm.  We did a nice route–a little under 30 miles, with light wind.  Temps started out around 40, and dropped precipitously.

The first 3 miles out-of-town were easy.  Then we cranked the pace up, and I started hurting.  I had been off the bike for a week–for the first time in a long time–and it caught up with my quickly.  During my several days of illness, I had lost several pounds and dropped back under 150.  That thick phlegmy feeling in the back of your throat…the taste of blood in the back of your mouth…legs of lead, lungs puffing.  I started to get a bit frustrated as the front of the group pulled off–but caught myself, and cut myself some slack.  I settled into a rhythm, and caught back up with the group at the next stop sign.

We took off again, and I focused on just relaxing on the bike.  Having fun.  Pretty soon, I felt in the swing of things again.  When we turned to loop back into town, we picked up the pace considerably, and I felt good–strong even.  My legs felt free and loose, and while I was working at it, I was working at a sustainable pace.  It was a blast.

The Vaya’s going to get a workout in the weeks to come.  It felt good to be back on it, and to get back in the saddle.  One of the riders told me that I’m swinging my knee outwards at the top of the stroke, so working on a fitting is now at the top of my priority list (it’s the second time I’ve heard that comment in 2 months).

Get out and ride folks.  The weather’s changing!  And don’t forget Saturday’s Gravel Metric Training Ride!


I’ve been thinking a lot about what my cycling goals are for this year.  I’d like to finish Almanzo, the Gravel Metric, and Chequamegon (strongly), and ride well and have fun all year.  What’s funny is that I feel as though I’ve turned a bit of a corner with my biking goals.  I have logged enough miles to have a good base of ability.  I don’t really feel a compelling need to be the fastest, on a group ride or otherwise.  For some reason, the competitive spirit is tapering off a bit.  When I think about it, what I really want to be is a good domestique.  I want to ride well with others.  To be predictable.  To do good, honest, praiseworthy pulls.  To give a good draft.  To bring others up into the pack.  To not get dropped, but also to not push hard at the wrong times and drop others.  To ride with a team, not just for myself.

I really like the concept of gentleman’s races (though I wish there were a gender neutral name for them, as I am becoming increasingly aware of the gender bias in cycling).  Ride as a team, finish or fail as a team.  Trust your teammates, support your teammates, work together.

I have to admit, when I first learned of the position of domestique in pro cycling, I didn’t understand it.  Why would you ride without the intention of winning?  Or perhaps to state it another way–why would you ride with the accepted intention of helping someone else to win even at the risk of sacrificing your own success?  I suspect that the pros in the peleton have different motivations than I, but I’d like to be a little more Jens Voight-like in supporting my fellow riders than in seeking personal success.  Is there a cop-out in this?  Is there safety in claiming to have satisfaction from helping others and thus avoiding confrontation with not winning individually?  Will my competitive spirit overcome this early season calm, and push me to different mid-season efforts?  Meh.  Time will tell.  But I’m at peace with it right now, so let’s live in the moment a bit.

Gravel Metric Training Ride #1: March 30, 2013. Target: 25 Miles

Here’s the link, for the full details.


We’re doing something new this year with the Gravel Metric.

We’re helping you prepare.

Gravel Metric Training Ride #1 will be March 30, 2013.  We depart from North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, IL.  Rollout is 8:00am promptly; plan on meeting up at 7:50am, and being prepared to roll out at 8:00am.  There is ample parking behind NCC.

Bring a Helmet.  Bring lights if the weather’s inclement.  Bring your sense of adventure.  Bring a signed waiver.



The Serenity Prayer

I didn’t make Barry Roubaix.  After months and months of training, I didn’t make it.  How’s that for anti-climactic.

I rode fatbikes a ton for the past several months.  Other than vacation (when I ran), I haven’t gone a single week where I didn’t ride at least 3 times, if not more.  I’ve been doing hill repeats like an ______ (expletive).  I was ready.  And it wasn’t even Celiac’s that did me in.  My wonderful daughter had some sort of stomach virus this past Monday.  I thought I had escaped it…until Thursday night, around 9pm, when I suddenly felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  I was out with some friends, and excused myself to leave early.  I made it 2 blocks, before I got out of the car to puke in a park.  (Hey!  Alliteration!)  Thursday night was a night of gastric distress and no sleep, Friday was spent near death, flat on my back, Saturday was spent with the world’s worst ‘non-alcoholic’ hangover, and today, I’m starting to feel a little more normal.  My lovely bride went through the same thing…with onset about 90 minutes after mine started.

There’s no one to be mad at, and nothing I could’ve done differently.  So I missed Barry.  Yeah, it sucks.  No, I don’t want kind comments.  I just want to move on, but felt like I owed the blog some closure, since I’ve been building up to this for months.  One of my friends said, “you must have been really, really sick, to miss Barry.”  In some ways, that’s comforting, both because it reinforces my apparent hardass (stubborn?) reputation, and because it shows that my friends know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t blow off a race without an exceptionally good reason.

I’m turning a corner now, and looking down the road to the IVCA Dirty Mudder, Almanzo, the Gravel Metric and Chequamegon.  Good things are around the corner.  I’m kind of sad to look at the Mukluk, and for right now, it’s going up on the shelf until I can bring myself to spend more time with it.  In all likelihood, this will be the last season that I train on my Muk, as I’m looking to move to a Carbon Beargrease in the fall.  (So if you’re looking for an exceptionally bling’d out Muk 2, tubeless, Husker Dus, hydro brakes, etc., let me know).

It’s going to be a good spring, and a good year.  I’m really looking forward to some good rides with good friends.

Walmart Fatbike?


Link is here.

A ~50 pound Mongoose singlespeed with 4.25″ tires and a coaster brake.

Looks like some hefty rims, all steel frame, and the Spider tires (27TPI, heavyheavyheavy) that come on the Sun Spider fatbike.

The start of a new trend?  Perhaps.  I am hopeful that fatbike exposure will mean more parts availability.  I am fearful of what it will actually mean.

I guess fatbikes are now officially mainstream.

TRP Hy/Rd Drop Bar Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Bikeradar ran a story about the new TRP Hy/RD (pronounced high-road) drop bar hydraulic disc brakes recently. It’s an interesting concept…they’re not pure hydro–they’re cable over hydro. Unlike TRP’s stem-mounted cable over hydro brakes, these run a cable and housing all the way to the brake.

The master cylinder is integrated right into the brake. You get the benefits of hydro brakes (dual caliper, self-clearancing), without having to run hydraulic brake lines. It’s an interesting concept…and purportedly offers increased braking force as compared to pure cable actuated brakes. Weight is supposed to be on par with a cable-based BB7 brake system.

One interesting application is cargo bikes, which are typically long enough to make running full hydro lines challenging, but which could benefit from the enhanced stopping power of these hybrid brakes.

I’m still waiting for true hydros for the Vaya. We’ll see who gets to market first, and whether we will go SRAM Red or Shimano…Di2?

MRP 1x Chainguide, SRAM XX Gripshift, Spearfish.

Last summer, I did a mountain bike ride with a friend who is a very talented rider, and who had recently converted to 1×10.

He dropped his chain with great frequency.

Based upon that experience, one of my goals was to have a good plan for chain retention when I went 1×10 on the Superfish.  The SRAM Type 2 rear derailleur was step 1 of that plan.  Step 2 was some form of chain retention device.  I looked at a bunch of different ones…I really wanted to use a Paul seatpost mounted one, but couldn’t get it to fit quite right.  I looked at E-13 as well.  I looked at the MRP mountain bike chain retention device, but really didn’t like the long, hinky bracket that it came with.  (Of note, with a PF30 bb and no ISCG tabs, mounting a chain retention device on a Spearfish is challenging).  I think the MRP 1x mountain guide would work fine, but I wanted more streamlined…more elegant.  So I decided to try the 1x cyclocross guide.

The seatpost clamp is aluminum; the guide is some sorta fancy-pants plastic.

Chainline is good in all 10 gears.  Here’s the bad news…it didn’t quite clear the chain in stock build.  Accordingly, I had to make up a little spacer and mount it between the clamp and retention loop.

If you look at the right side of the picture, you can see a black spacer between the 2 parts.  It also thus required a longer allen screw.  Time will tell if this is a successful gambit or not. It seems relatively sturdy, but we’ll see.

Running 1×10, I also wanted to be able to dump a lot of gears quickly.  That brought on the thought of throwing on a gripshifter.  A coupl’a trades later, and I had an XX gripshifter.

I’m not sure what grips I’m going to run yet.

I’m also not sure what I think about the mounting of the shifter yet…there’s not a lot of clearance for the brake lever, with it mounted in optimal 1-finger braking position.

We’ll get some miles on the setup, and report back.


We hit the highs and lows here, on a health (i.e. non-cycling-specific) post.

I’ve found a mix of food and supplements that seems to be working.  An average day goes like this:

Breakfast:  12 ounces of almond milk with protein powder, glutamine, liquid Vitamin D droplets (5,000 IU because I have a serious deficiency and 3,000 IU wasn’t touching it), and licorice extract.  Then, a vitamin-B multicomplex.  An almond milk yogurt with some GF/DF granola.  Some third item (GF/DF muffin or cinnamon bread).  Coffee.

Mid-Morning:  Snack.  Probably a Kind bar or a Larabar, or a Thunderbird Energetica.

Lunch:  Something GF/DF.  Maybe Chipotle.

Mid-Afternoon:  Another snack.  Probably some nuts with it.

Dinner:  If I’m lucky enough to be home, something delicious from the Mrs.  If I’m out, something GF/DF.

Post Dinner:  Some sort of fatty snack.  Chips, coconut milk ice cream, etc.

Bedtime:  A huge heaping of iron to work on my anemia.  Fish Oil high in DHA.  A herb mix.  Magnesium.  Something else that’s presently escaping me.

Often, there’s another snack that I sneak in there somewhere.  I’m eating a ton.  I’m not really putting on weight, but I’m not losing weight either.  At one point, a doctor had recommended that I work on adding a little more bodyfat…he was concerned that my then-single-digit bodyfat was leading to more dramatic swings in various levels.  So I’ve put on a few pounds that are basically just fat, and am up to around 10-11% body fat.  For whatever reason, my body decided to put my newly added fat directly on my stomach–so thanks for that, years of evolution and male genetics.

That’s all positive.  I’ve been training hard this winter.  Other than vacation, I haven’t missed a ride–at least 3 a week, and the vast majority of the time, quite a bit more.  So where’s the negative?

I’m just a few days out from Barry Roubaix.  This morning, I was treated to a series of additional blood tests (six vials–a new record) and various and sundry other tests, trying to diagnose new and exciting symptoms indicative of some form of internal bleeding.  And wonder of wonders, I was treated to a vision-impaired phlebotomist who had not yet had her morning coffee.  Blood draws by braille are not recommended.

If this were the kind of blog where we swore, we would be swearing now.

I’m keeping a positive attitude.  Really.  I am.  So f#(%!#@ positive.  But I feel like every time I start having some success–some normalcy in the realm of how my body functions–something comes along and topples the Jenga that is my fragile constitution.  John Mayer’s girlfriend’s body is a wonderland.  My body is a traitor.  I keep thinking that all I need to do is stay religiously GF/DF, but it never seems to be enough.  It’s not enough to just eat and ride…there’s always something more.  I would say that I’m frustrated, but it’s a little more akin to feeling helpless.  I’m feeling more and more like I don’t know what I’m doing, or what I should be doing, and I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m still going to try to get it done at Barry.  It just might be a little less done than I’d like it to be.