Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bloomer 2010

I did the Bloomer race today in 1 hour 37 minutes, a minute quicker than last year.

I went to this race with realistic expectations so I was pleased with my time. It was just a good race: my legs felt good, my bike worked flawlessly, and my gear choice was spot on.
Cindy, Allie, Denny, and Barb came to watch.

Renee and Randy came to race.

Randy placed in his first race. Very cool.

Renee won her over 5 minutes. It is only a matter of time until she is faster than me. She would probably be faster than me now if she was willing to descend hills as quickly as she ascends them.

Cindy got a bike this week. She's practicing for her first race.

Denny didn't race today. He sometimes takes pictures of races and posts them on his website instead. Today he let his son take the pictures, which I hijacked. Nice. Jeremy did a great job.

During my shake down ride on Thursday, it occurred to me I have been installing my rear wheel crooked. The Inglis’ horizontal drops give me a little flexibility in how I position my rear wheel. I always slide tire irons between the sides of the tire and chainstays to make sure the tire is centered. It struck me that the tire shouldn’t be centered; my rear wheel is dished so it should be closer to the left hand chain stay. I stopped riding and carefully lined up the rear wheel with the rest of the bike. The gear noise went away. I rolled my eyes. I just cannot comprehend how this didn’t occur to me before, like maybe the day I got the frame? I have this bad habit of assuming I am right and not looking at things objectively.

Maybe I have wasted too much time fretting over (not) training and where I (don’t) place.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bishop Lake

Em didn't have dance today for some reason so Allison and I got to spend Allie-Day around home. We went swimming at Bishop Lake. The beach shares the same parking lot as the mountain bike trail. While we swam, bikers would ride down to the beach and go swimming to cool off. Every time a rider would come down I felt a pang of guilt like I should be riding. But not really. Allie is at a really fun age and I wouldn't give up our time together for anything. I feel Em slipping away; she wanted to go to her girlfriend's house instead of swimming. Ouch.

Allie asked me to set up a CD player in her room. This struck me as a little strange because she is not part of the CD generation; all her music is in a MP3 format. It was fun seeing her re-discover my Ramones CDs like I re-discovered my older brother's Neil Young 8 tracks. She has been listening to country music lately and I was getting a little concerned.

My new chain and bottom bracket showed up today, kind of like Christmas. Apparently I never tried to put a 16 tooth cog on my bike before because my chain wouldn't stretch far enough to accommodate such a big gear. I think I need it for Bloomer this weekend. I would back out of this race but I ran my mouth off about how I was going to do it and now some non-race friends are coming to watch me get my ass kicked, I don't want to disappoint. When everything was apart I noticed my bottom bracket was fried. I'm surprised I didn't notice this earlier.

Once the kids were settled down, I had time to do one lap at Murray Lake. 37:24. It was slower that I expected. I didn't leave the house until 8:30 so it was pretty dark in the woods. I will blame the low light and not the fact that I haven't been riding. My reality is a fickle thing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Training Plan

Today I dusted off the training plan I put together for myself earlier this year. I guess I was suppose to do 1 minute intervals today. To be honest, I'm not sure I would be following my plan even if I wanted to. Allie and I went to Plymouth to pick up some pottery we made last week and then to a very cool bike shop, Trails-Edge. This shop has vintage race bikes covering the walls, like Slingshots and Yetis, back from when these frames were made in the States, a little sad. And they have a great parts selection. I wanted a bigger cog in case I do the Bloomer race next weekend. I think I used a 34x14 last year and I did pretty well but I just don't think I have it in me to use such a steep gear on a fairly hilly course. I got a Surly 16 tooth gear. It's a gamble. I also picked up a Surly Tug Nut Chain Tensioner.

My rear wheel kept coming lose and throwing the chain at the Brighton race. I was afraid that might happen so I went to my local bike shop earlier that week to see if they had any chain tensioners. The guy behind the counter said he would look but went over to the tool section of the shop. He had no idea what a chain tensioner was. It isn't a tool. Apparently he is. I would love to work at a bike shop so it frustrates me to see a shop employee who really doesn't care about bikes. Maybe he is just trying to provide for his family so I should relax a bit.

Allison and I then went to the Maybury State Park. There is an okay mountain bike trail there but Allie isn't ready for that. Maybury also has paved trails which we rode. We looked for play structures they have throughout the park so our ride would seem to have purpose. Of course our ride had a much deeper purpose. It will be very hard when she doesn't want to ride with me anymore but I will worry about that some other day, right now I will just appreciate my riding partner.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am not a dog person. We have a Miniature Schnauzer but only because my daughters wanted it. I’m sure I would somehow get them a unicorn if they asked because I love my girls, not because I enjoy picking up unicorn manure in the backyard.

I took yesterday off work to power-wash the deck which I should have done Sunday but I was at the Brighton CC race, yet another reason to contemplate racing. It was raining but that didn’t interfere with washing the deck. A dog came into the yard to hang out with me, perhaps the ugliest dog I have ever seen. I think it is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix, a dog with big bulging eyes that point in two different directions, wet and shivering and very skinny. And no ID.

Em was home too, she was too ill to go to school but had an amazing recovery when she saw the dog, like when Lazareth was raised from the dead. She asked if we could keep him. I am trying to act more like a dad so I said no. She said: “Come here [insert as many names as you can rattle off in 30 seconds].” When she said “Jack,” he came running.

Apparently we have a new dog. Cindy put Jack on the Livingston County Humane Society lost and found web page. Tonight, instead of riding, I am going to put posters on every single telephone pole in Brighton. The Humane Society said if we bring Jack to their animal shelter, and no one claims him in 7 days, we can adopt him. They will even install a chip in his ear and neuter him because a dog like Jack should not procreate.

I am bright enough to make rational decisions but emotional enough not to. I think I am doing the Bloomer race next weekend.

*************** 5/22/10 Update ***************

Jack's owner finally claimed him. He was a sweet dog so I almost miss him. His real name was Jixter, not too far from "Jack". He hopped into their car and didn't even look back, like he didn't even care.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brighton Cross Country Race

I just finished the Brighton race, 1:53:19. I was a minute slower than last year, somewhat disappointing but not unexpected. The 3 grams I saved by going to a Chris King cog didn't help as much as I was hoping. It was a good race. Racing a familiar course and dropping down to Sport did take a lot of pressure off. I finished 4th out of 14 so I think I am in the right class. It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the mid 60's. And it was very convenient; I picked up my number this morning after I dropped Allie off at a birthday party then rode my bike from the house to the starting line. I am home with plenty of time left to cut the grass; this is as perfect of a race as they come I suppose.

I might skip the next race or two and give some serious thought to whether or not I want to compete. I am an optimistic person but really, racing without training makes about as much sense as buying a Chris King cog.

Maybe if I buy a Chris King headset I can get some solid results. Maybe...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Solving Problems That Don't Exist

I have Thursday evenings all to myself. I am not motivated enough to ride in the rain so tonight I used my free time to install disc brakes on my Inglis single speed, and in doing so became the last racer in Michigan to go from rim brakes to disc brakes. Disc brakes work swell, especially in the rain, but slowing down isn’t my problem. And I don't ride in the rain. The only reason I made the switch to discs was to use my Black Flag disc wheelset. The only reason I am using my Black Flag disc wheelset is because I sold my Chris King wheelset. It isn't entirely clear to me why I sold my Chris King wheels; perhaps it was so I would have money to buy disc brakes.

Regardless how I got to this point, my Inglis now looks light and spiffy, and I have time left to ride on the trainer which isn’t a horrible way to get in an hour ride. Not a bad Thursday night really.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mating Ritual of the Male Homo Sapiens

I did the Murray lake trail yesterday in 34:28, exactly what I did it in the day before. If nothing else, I am consistent. Between rain and other commitments, I think this will be my last ride until the Brighton race on Sunday. Since I will have nothing to say for the rest of the week, I figure I am overdue for a long drawn out nonsensical entry...

Different trails have different atmospheres. Poto is a challenging course so the riders in the parking lot either take riding serious or are unsuspecting novices. Poto was the first place I ever rode so I can relate with the unsuspecting novices. The other extreme is Island Lake which is flat and non-technical. The parking lot is full of shinny new bicycles that still have reflectors and that plastic pie pan that goes between the cassette and the spokes. People here seem to spend more time hanging out in the parking lot than riding. It was interesting following Renee through the Island Lake parking lot as we went from the Yellow to the Blue loop. Randy and I stopped and talked at the end of the parking lot since Renee ran into some people she knew. It was cool getting to know Randy, he is a down to earth guy and we share a similar philosophy on bicycles and riding.

Watching the guys circle Renee on their bikes made me feel like a biologist observing animals in their natural habitat. I found myself narrating the scenario in my head like a documentary on PPS. The following account should be read in a quiet, English accent, with long thoughtful pauses between paragraphs, to get the full effect.

Today we are observing the strange mating ritual of the male Homo sapiens, the only extant member of the Homo genus of bipedal primates in the great ape family.

Humans have a highly developed brain capable of abstract reasoning and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage, has made it perfectly adapted for bicycle riding.

Like most higher primates, humans are social by nature. However, humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperation and competing groups. Nowhere is this more evident than it the group ride.

Male Homo sapiens riding together in a group serves no obvious purpose other than to attract members of the opposite sex in a delicate and complex mating ritual. Notice how the alpha males parades around his 29er. He is clad in a matching kit and slowly circles the unsuspecting female, like a tom trying to woo a hen.

When there are no females, the alpha male leads the charge to the single track. The presences today of a female cause the alpha male to stay back, subtly looking for the existence of a lower back tattoo on the female. None is detected. This does not discourage the alpha male.

The alpha male tries to match wits with the female. In this case the female clearly is capable of thinking on a much higher plane. This does not discourage the alpha male.

The female Homo sapiens typically have much more acute social skills than the male. Here we see the female allowing the other males to engage her in conversation which greatly aggravates, but does not discourage, the alpha male.

This particular female has an impressive power to weight ratio. If you listen carefully you can actually hear her wheels squishing the alpha male's ego. This only slightly discourages the alpha male.

The alpha male points out an obvious observation. Riveting. The female’s clear indifference does not discourage him.

By the end of the ride, males are circling the female in a frenzy like sharks around a baby seal. She quickly loads her bike and leaves. The alpha male wonders out loud if she will be back next week. I’m guessing not racer-boy, I am guessing not.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


In between all the Mother's Day activities, I managed to sneak in an hour ride today. I did the Murray Lake Trail where I time myself every month, a sense check of sorts. This is also the trail that will be used for the Brighton cross country race next week. I did it in 34:28, which I believe is my quickest time on a single speed. I'm not sure what this means for the race next week but at least I'm not discouraged. I have been planning for this race since January.

Cindy and I met with a Realtor Saturday. He put a sign up before he left. We have been planning on selling the house for a while but it feels strange to see it finally happening.

That's the thing about even the best laid plans; it seems so different when it's for real.

Friday, May 7, 2010

2010 Race Schedule

Normally I have my tentative race schedule hammered out by January. This year I paused to consider if I really want to put up with all the race nonsense. I do; however, at this point I am not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to race Expert. Dropping down to Sport Single Speed takes the pressure off racing but still, I'm making an effort to do well (short of actually training). I saved the titanium bars and post from my ghetto bike for my Inglis single speed. I even got a Chris King stainless steel cog just in case the extra 3 grams my stamped steel cog weighed was the thing preventing me from turning in solid lap times. Just so I don't appear to be obsessing over insignificant things, I should point out that this is 3 grams of rotating mass which is equivalent to 5 grams of static mass.

5/16 Brighton
5/29 Bloomer
6/27 Big M (tentative)
7/10 Boyne Marathon
8/21 Maybury
9/12 Addison Oaks
9/26 Pando
10/9 12 Hours of Addison Oaks (if I can talk some friends into this)
11/6 Iceman

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Making the Best of a Rainy Sunday

Cindy and the girls were gone today, leaving me 5 hours to myself. Perfect opportunity to put my single speed back together.

All back together, and 4 hours and 25 minutes to spare. I'm happy with everything except the down hill straight gage pre-vintage LX wheels. I could use my Black Flag disc wheelset, I'd just have buy a set of Avid BB7 mechanical calipers, available for about $60 on eBay. Normally a no-brainer but right now I don't feel comfortable spending any money on my bike.

During a break in the rain, Bill stopped by with a bad-ass vintage Ross single speed he just put together; slightly more vintage but much more bad-ass than my Inglis.

Four hours later I picked up Emilie and Allison. We went shopping. They didn't ask for my advice.