Saturday, November 10, 2007

This blog is moving

I've moved this blog to a new endeavor, which will expand things from just my cycling blog to cycling, skiing, and other such pursuits, as well as hopefully we'll be having some other bloggers contribute, do a bunch of video, real stories, podcasts, and more. The new site is, for the time being, at I would like to get some longer stories going on the site, and if anyone has a story they'd like to contribute, and you have photos or other media to use with it, please let me know.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Awesome Road Ride with 16% Grade Dirt Road Climb!

I planned a fairly epic (for me) road ride on Saturday. It did not disappoint. First, it was cold - 41 degrees when I left, and stayed that way through the shaded country roads for most of the ride. I made it harder on myself (not on purpose), but not putting my jacket on until halfway through. I had a windproof type jersey on and a windproof fleece-lined vest, but when it's really cold, those just don't keep you warm. Heh, I was also wearing not only a skullcap, but also my Surly wool cap. I wished I had something to close/block the major vents in my helmet though (if anyone thinks a modern helmet like the Giro Atmos makes them hot, they're crazy).

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RoadRide_3Nov2007-1.jpgI had plotted out my ride on Google Maps, targeting 50 miles. Late in the ride I was having some leg strain, so I took one short cut, and the ride wound up being 47 miles. The ride featured just shy of 4000' of climbing, took 3 hours and 18 minutes (ride time), and featured some interesting roads!

RoadRide_3Nov2007-2.jpgThe first 15 miles occurred on roads I'd ridden before. From there though, I turned onto Battle Creek, and shortly thereafter things got interesting. The road started out small and right off there was a cool covered bridge to ride through. I believe this was the first covered bridge I've ridden over. About a mile or two later though, the climbing began, and then, almost immediately after that the road turned to dirt! And, to make things even more interesting, the grade just kept increasing. It hit 13% right quick, and then throughout the rest of the climb, there were sections of 16%. Ya baby, mini Giro! Ok, yes, very mini, but hey, I dig this stuff.

RoadRide_3Nov2007-3.jpgSo, while I'm loving this, the road of course had to then turn into a descent. Now normally, this would be much welcomed, but two things: It was 41 degrees, and more tricky, it was a relatively steep dirt and gravel road descent. I enjoy this, but had to watch it of course, not wanting to flat. The climb had been a mile or two, and the descent was probably a solid two miles. Chilly, but pretty fun. I was surfing back and forth across the gravel central line looking for the smoothest side. Good times.

RoadRide_3Nov2007-5.jpgOh, the other tricky point... the dirt roads, with a bunch of little offshoots, didn't inspire confidence that I'd known when I'd hit Panther Creek, or how well it'd be marked. Just as I was getting a bit nervous though, ah, Panther Creek and pavement. I had mixed feelings about the pavement though. I actually love riding dirt roads on my road bike. I'd held off from them for a long while after getting my custom Calfee and riding Reynolds carbon wheels, thinking I wanted to protect them. But these days I've been riding them more (I'm also riding my Campy Eurus wheels though).

The other half of this loop, Wolf Creek, featured a pretty sweet descent. Luckily by this time I'd put on my jacket and was somewhat warmer. The temps were up to maybe 44-46 at this point, but honestly, I was still pretty chilly. Time for some food. Sucked down a Clif Mojo bar (my favorite), and headed towards Crow.

RoadRide_3Nov2007-8.jpgBy the time I arrived in Crow, my right leg was feeling a bit strained, like a cramp might be coming on. I realized it was the first time in a long time I hadn't taken Sport Legs before riding, and I didn't have any Enduralytes with me. I stopped in at the Crow County Store, as V8 was calling. After passing by the big dudes buying cases of Bud, I snagged a V8 and some peanut butter/cheese crackers. V8 has got to be the most well kept secret when it comes to mid-ride convenience store liquids.

This is also where I took my shortcut, cutting out about 2-3 miles. I was back on familiar roads. Another freezer descent, but then back into the sun. I was in the final stretches, with of course the final climb being fairly burly (gradients in the teens). Pushed through, with one stop for the nice fall color on the final climb. Arrived home, psyched, but fairly blown. Inhaled some recovery drink, oh, and ya, some more V8. I had also warmed up nicely by now.

RoadRide_3Nov2007-9.jpgNot long after it was off for burgers and Bloody Mary's. And after that, I was in that blissful, yet totally knackered, post big ride, post big food, state - an achy and great, near coma state.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Great, Cold Road Ride

Yesterday I did a great road ride, that was also very cold (which was mostly my fault). I headed out in the morning for a 40 miler. It was about 45 degrees when I left. I was dressed reasonably, except when doing long descents at 35-40mph! I had mapped out a route using Google Maps, but one roughly 4 mile chunk of my ride turned out to be a non-existant road! I should have used the Hybrid view in Google Maps to determine if the roads existed as looking at that I'm sure I would have second guessed it (the road does not show connecting, etc.). It didn't matter though, as the road I was on that I thought it forked off, continued to the same eventual point anyway. But, this particular road, is a 4 mile descent, and a good one at that, with sustained speeds of 35mph+ (I think I hit in the low 40mph's during the descent and I wasn't pedaling much, because I was freezing).

I say the cold was my fault, because I didn't take a jacket. Dumb, but I thought I was set sufficiently, based on the ride I'd done the day before that was just about as cold, and where I was dressed a bit too warm. Yet this ride, I was wearing fleece-lined tights (day before had just knee warmers), Pearli Amfib shoe covers (day before none), and then a wind proof and fleece-lined vest (no vest day before). But, that long descent just froze me to the core. The temps were a bit lower than the day before, but still. It took me a good 20+ minutes to get relatively warm again, and for the rest of the ride I relished the climbs. But, it was an overall great riding day, and the ache the cold and decent mileage (for me) put in to my legs felt great. It has motivated me to do a 50 miler tomorrow (Saturday). I've made sure to check the roads with the Hybrid view in Google maps this time. Still some potential for bad, but these roads look more "major" (as far as country roads go :) Oh, and they aren't called "Foot Path", which I think was truly a foot path, and not a road.

With the slight route deviation, the ride wound up being 38.3 miles, 3550' of climbing, and took about 2 hours 38 minutes. The most interesting bit from my cyclometer had to be the max percent grade that occurred during the ride: 18%! Wowzers. I know there are some steep sections along the way, but I think that is bogus. I've climbed up Blanton the steep way, and that seems to max out at about 16-17%, and I don't recall anything on yesterday's ride being as steep, but who knows. It's not exact either of course.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Retirement Tour Off to a Great Start

Matt and I have been having a great time during the first two days of our riding adventure. I flew into Phoenix yesterday, and we headed out to ride the old Cactus Cup course. This is a short loop, only about an hour, but mildly technical, and fun. Of course it was pretty damn hot, but that's par for the course in Phoenix. We'd met up with Fletcher, a friend of Matt's, who was in full racer mode during the ride (we saw him for about the first 15 minutes). After that, headed back to Fletcher's house for lunch, showers, then we jumped back in the Sportsmobile and headed to Flagstaff.

In Flag we returned the Niner RIP 9 I had rented, and I requested a refund on my 2nd day rental fee (Matt picked up the bike two days prior), as they were idiots and put what was likely an 18" flat handlebar on the bike. Seriously, no, really, I mean, I felt like I was riding with my hands on each side of the stem. Oh, also, they'd thought to replace the shift cables the day before, but negelected to stretch the cables, and so I had to re-adjust the rear derailleur. It doesn't end there... about half the threads in the pedal hole of the cranks arms were stripped/gone, and I actually had one of my pedals unscrew on the trail. Nice job guys, way to ensure your demo rider has a good experience on the bike!

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by Christopher Bailey

Anyway, grabbed a quick espresso and sandwich and hauled ass for the Grand Canyon.

Unfortunately we arrived after dark at the GC. But, thankfully I had my tripod and DSLR, and managed to get some shots that make it look like we were there during the day! Pretty amazing place - I'd never been before, need to go back.

Camp outside Moab
Originally uploaded by Christopher Bailey

After that we drove late into the night to 30 miles outside Moab, and found a clearing a ways off the road to spend the night. Nice and quiet and dark, perfect. Asleep before 2am Utah time (lost an hour). Up the next morning to a nice sunrise, got the espresso/moka flowin', and headed into Moab.

Click the photo to play the video

In Moab we hooked up with Michael and Sylvi, and four other friend's of Matt's, and rode Sovereign trail. Absolutely great trail. About a 2hr ride, on prime Moab terrain - very rocky/slickrock, sandy, technical stuff. I rode my rigid Niner, which was brutal at times, but actually quite nice at others (really nice for rolling up and over ledges). We had the helmet cam in full effect. Should have video avail, once we get a chance to edit down the couple hours we have. Matt wore the camera to chase Nicole (former pro DH racer) down, which was sweet (this woman can fly!). I am renting a full suspension bike for tomorrow, as we're doing a mega downhill shuttle (as long as it doesn't snow at the top).

Finally, back into town, had some food, hung out, then a great dinner with Michael and Sylvi at Buck's. Massive double pork chop, wine, stories. Now, back in the Sportsmobile, calling it a night soon, early shuttle ride tomorrow morning.

For all the pictures, check my Retirement Tour tag on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Yesterday's Road Ride

I went out on the road yesterday. As I was getting ready, it was pouring, no dumping, no, I started looking for scuba gear! I almost bagged it, but then the rain let up a bit, and I was really eager to ride. I had the waterproof tights on, booties, jacket, rain gloves, hat, etc. I also had a new set of Specialized All Conditions Armadillo Elite tires (my review here).

I rolled out in the rain, and plunged down the descent from my house to the first climb. Up and over that (it's steep, but short), and out into the Lorane valley. The first 20 minutes or so are on Lorane Hwy with heavy trees, almost tree-tunnel type setup. It was wet. But upon popping out of the tree tunnel area, and passing the Grange... what was this? It was dry, and partly cloudy! I hammered on.

About 15 minutes later, it'd gotten darn near hot (at least when you're wearing all the rain gear), and I stopped by the side of the road to shed. Off came the booties and jacket, stuffed into my rear jersey pockets. Onward, but then was really getting warm (well, relatively, was probably in the low 60's). Stopped again and shed the rain gloves. Riding at this point felt like I had a big messenger bag on - my jersey pockets were totally stuffed with rain gear (plus the food, pump, etc. I had in there already). Now for the series of climbs.

The climbs are quite nice back in this area. There are wineries, and just the most beautiful trees at this time of year. Red, orange, yellow leaved maples line the road, making for a beautiful ride. I continued through the countryside, and wound my way back home. As I got back to the tree tunnel area, it was a little wetter, but fine.

Now then, up the steep climb to my house, where obviously it started to rain again :) The rain was light though, and I didn't need to put any gear back on. This was a great ride. Oh, and the tires worked really well, amazingly well in fact - killer in the corners, and I've never seen a road tire spray up so little water in the rain, a definite bonus!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Specialized All Conditions Armadillo Elite road tires

The rainy season appears to have begun here in Eugene, OR. My road bike is now setup for it, with the final change being to mount up some Specialized All Conditions Armadillo Elite 700x23 tires. Last year I ran Conti GP 4 Seasons, and prior to that nothing special in terms of a winter tires.

Right off the bat, you can tell these things are grippy, but still seem to roll pretty well. Not as fast as my regular Vredesteins, but good (and I think better than the Contis). Today's ride started out in some pretty heavy rain, and of course with the usual fast long descent from my house down to the first climb. The tires worked great on the descent, and I was immediately noticing how little water they threw off, or rather, threw off at me. Very nice!

Next up, the rest of the ride... What was particularly nice about today's ride was the complete spectrum of weather (absent snow, I guess if you want to be a stickler). I rode for a ways in the rain and then about 30 minutes in, the sun was shining and the roads were totally dry! This gave me a chance to try these tires out under "normal" conditions. Worked well - same as mentioned, slower than the Vreds, but faster tha the Contis, and good all around.

Not much later, I was stripping off my booties, jacket, and gloves, it was getting warm! I also got a chance to do some more significant cornering on descents, and these tires caught my attention - they railed!

Finally, on the final about 20 mins home, it was raining again. Good little descent, and again, great in the corners. Then the burly climb. All in all, very happy wit the new setup.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Crossmax 29er Wheels and Tubeless Setup

Niner Crossmax Update
Originally uploaded by Christopher Bailey
I received my C29ssmax (Crossmax 29er) wheels yesterday, and got them mounted up today. They are sweet! First, I'm stunned by how easily I was able to mount up non-UST tires tubeless. I used some used Panaracer Rampages with Stans. When I first mounted them, I was worried because they fit really loosely. But, amazingly, I was able to inflate them first shot, with a floor pump! This doesn't even work half the time with UST tires (at least in my experience). Very nice.

The wheels ride great. They feel a smidge lighter than my WTB Laserdisc Lites (they should, they're a 1/2 pound lighter, but I haven't weighed the bike to see what the overall weight difference is, given the other factor of tubeless vs. yes-tubes).

Crossmax disc bolts
Originally uploaded by Christopher Bailey
Another interesting bit is that my front 7" disc is now perfectly quiet, whereas before I was getting some rub and squeek, even after several remounting/adjustments. Check out the picture of the disc bolts though - they just go straight through the mount. Wild.

Very happy to have these wheels, and I can't wait to get into some terrain that really showcases the tubeless advantage. Need to go ride MRT again or something.