We here at LAT are addicted to gear. You might not have noticed this, but, nevertheless, it's true. We frequent Backcountry.com's one-deal-at-a-time sites (Steep and Cheap, Chainlove and Bonktown) often, and find ourselves hitting "refresh" to see what else is coming. With that in mind, we were pleased to find out that two new bike-only sites have just been launched by these fine folks:
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As it happens, I actually didn't do much riding outside. That was just the fun part. (As it turns out, though, the side of roads aren't level. At all. Now, I'm pretty inept at riding on the rollers in my mostly-level basement. But when there's a slope for water run-off built into the road, it actually gets a bit sketchy.)
Most of my riding was done indoors with my children running to fill up water-bottles for me and Star Wars on the TV. I might have preferred something else, but my choices are limited with small children watching on.
Luckily, my wife was ready with camera in hand to chronicle the part where I wasn't enjoying myself.
Mile 63. Almost 2/3 done. I actually felt pretty good at this point.
As many other participants have observed, this was hard. I actually cheated, in my mind, because I rode 100 "miles" in 3:36:20, which is much, MUCH faster than I could ever do on the road. My sympathy for those who rode it in 6-8 hours. I think I would have died.
Monday, May 25, 2009
On Saturday, I rode the 100 Miles of Nowhere. It sucked. A lot.
Actually, part of it was fun, but mostly because I decided if I was going to do 100 miles on my rollers, I wasn't going to be cooped up inside my small house. Heck, the weather was perfect riding weather--not too warm, overcast--so I wanted to get out and enjoy it.
And so I did.
Here I am, doing one of my favorite climbs, Squaw Peak Rd.
Only 3 more miles of twisty road until I'm at the top!
I also decided to head up Provo Canyon a little more to take in the sights.
I am only posting this picture because it makes my calf muscles look large and well-defined.
And what ride in Utah County would be complete without a ride along the peaceful shores of Utah Lake.
Even if I wasn't getting anywhere, I was determined to avoid staying in one spot. I'll post more information and photos in a couple of days.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The other night as I was laying in bed, unable to sleep, I was thinking about a trail near my home. This trail is rather steep and has pretty severe water bars--we refer to this trail as "Water Bar", though recently the forest managers decided to call it "Bonzi". Since they misspelled Bonsai, we still refer to the trail as Water Bar. But I digress.
As I mentioned, the trail is relatively steep, and straight and--except for the water bars--flat. This makes it fast, as you can well imagine. So there I was thinking about the trail and wondering, "how far do I travel in the air at each water bar? Now, I know that I can hit between 27 and 29 mph on the trail on a regular basis. I know that I slow a little for the water bars. So, I grabbed my calculator from off the night stand--what, you don't keep a calculator on your night stand?--and did a little math assuming that my launch speed was 25 mph.
As I've stated, I use my GPS these days to record my rides. Recently I went on a long solo ride that had, according to the GPS, 4000ft of climbing. Not bad for 18.6 miles. I was mentioning this to T. since is familiar with the route and he expressed doubt in the veracity of the total climbing. Huh. So I went back and looked at the data. The program I use allows me to upload my rides and it will overlay the route with a topographic map to give two profiles: one from the GPS, and one from the topo.
Then it happened again.
On group ride I proudly announced that we had done something like 1600ft of climbing. E. said, "no way". Huh. Now, I was thinking about this. Could it be that the mighty GPS is off? I've checked the speed part and it is dead on. The mileage matches up, too. But could the vertical be off?
I then recalled that the better GPS's use a barometer for elevation. My watch has this feature, so on my next ride I thought I'd use them both and see how far off they were. I expected them to be within 200ft of each other.
I was wrong. Way wrong.
My GPS logged 4500ft of climbing, while the watch--with its more accurate barometer based elevation measurement--showed only 3500ft of climbing. That's 1000ft or nearly 25% error! And it's not consistent, either. It all depends on how well the GPS is receiving the satellite signals, so under tree cover it's worse, naturally.
Long story short, you can't trust the elevation of the GPS using satellites alone. Now, if you are out in the open, and stationary, I think that the GPS does a fine job of absolute elevation. My watch has to be reset nearly every day if I want accurate absolute elevation, due to fluctuations in weather. Both technologies have their place, and neither is perfect. But for accurate total elevation gain/loss, use a barometer.
I guess my solo ride didn't quite have 4000ft of climbing.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
When I wreck on my mtn. bike, it's often dramatic. At least, the bad ones are. I love to tell and retell the stories as if I'm some sort of war hero describing the cost of victory. (Remind me to tell you about the missing cleat-bolt one--it's a goody.) When I wreck on a road bike (which is pretty rare), I'm usually doing something crazy like taking a corner too fast.
When I wreck on my rollers, it's just plain embarrassing.
And yet, embarrassing stories make good stories with the added benefit of leaving everyone else feeling better about themselves. This is that kind of story.
The Set Up
I ride on rollers, and my rollers have a small resistance unit. I've never disabled the resistance unit. I figure if I'm on the rollers, I want to get the best work-out in the shortest period of time. I've also signed up for to do a 100-mile ride on my rollers on Saturday. Normally, this time of year, I'd be outside full-time with my Hometrainer tires safely packed away until the winter. In order to build up my rollers-resistance, though, I've been riding the rollers more and more.
I realized, the other day, that if I'm going for distance, I needed to ratchet up my average speed on the rollers. I took off the resistance unit. As it turns out, without the increase in wind resistance that comes logarithmically with the increase of speed, I can speed up on my rollers without any perceptible increase in effort. Maintaining 27-30mph outside is hard. On the rollers, it means just shifting into the big ring. Those poor rollers sound like they're going to explode at that speed, though.
Crash 1. Ride time: 00:00:00
It was early this morning, before the house was awake, and I decided on a whim to try starting on the rollers without using a wall or some other solid object to balance myself until I got going. It turns out, this is harder to do than I thought it would be. I made it about 1/2 of a pedal stroke before I lost balance and fell. It's unfortunate that I'm another 6-8 inches above the ground when I'm on the rollers.
Luckily, I ride in a room that has become our "storage" room, so I didn't fall far before a metal filing cabinet "broke" my fall. Ouch.
Crash 2: Ride time: 00:04:37
With a minor bruise on my leg and only a minor bruise to my ego (everyone was still asleep and none-the-wiser), I was riding again and "cruising along" at around "26mph". [He actually wasn't moving at all, of course, because he was on the rollers. - Ed.] For some reason, my balance got off and I started to lean towards the wall on my left side (opposite of the way I fell just five minutes earlier). Unfortunately, my bike really took off as the angle to the ground decreased and slid out from underneath me to my right. This might have been because of the speed. I'm not sure. All I know is I went down pretty hard.
Hard enough that I'm still in pain. Somehow, I crashed my bike indoors while going really fast nowhere. And I crashed hard enough that I pulled a muscle in my neck. I think I was trying to catch my fall with my head against a pile of boxes. (Storage room, remember?)
I tried to get on, but the rollers won this time. After less than five-minute's work-out, I was done for the day. As I gingerly leaned my bike against the wall, I noticed my saddle was twisted as well.
Humbly, I walked upstairs to find the bottle of ibuprofen. 100 "miles" of this? It just might be my most damaging century yet.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I have a superpower. Actually, I have a few, but there's one in particular that I got to exercise today. At my day job (sitting at a desk, working on a computer while ignoring people on conference calls), I can get free lunch. (There's no such thing as free lunch! There, I said it.) Of course, what makes this power so nice, is that I usually get it for my whole team.
Take today, for instance. It's about 12:30pm and a friend of mine (who is also on the same team) was trying to talk me into going out to lunch. I love going out to lunch, but I brought a gigantic bowl of left-over stroganoff from home I was already salivating for. I mean, if someone were to pay my way, it'd be a different story, but I'm not spending money if I have an excellent meal waiting for me. (Thanks wife!)
Just then, I see my boss walk by with his boss and one of them says, "Who's driving?"
Instantly, my superpower kicks in and without knowing why I say to my boss, "Hey, aren't you taking the team to lunch today?" His boss says, "Yeah, c'mon. Let's all go!"
My co-workers love me.
On the other hand, I don't seem to have the superpower to get my diet going again so I can wear lycra with confidence again. Two words: pizza, breadsticks.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
There are days when I feel old. It happens when I just can't remember where I placed that roll of electrician's tape I was using. Or when I set down a tool I know I'll need in a place that will be obvious--only to find that it wasn't obvious and I can't find the tool. I feel old when I can't seem to get my weight down to my pre-Christmas holiday weight.
Today, a friend turned 34 years old. He rides bikes, like I do, but also does other things... like running and swimming--sometimes in the same race! Being the benevolent friend that I am, though, I try and look past those faults and just try and get him on his bike as often as possible.
But today, to celebrate his birthday, we decided to go for a ride. Ideally, we wanted to do 34 miles, but since neither of us are very fast, and it was meant to be just a lunch-time activity, we decided to stick to 34 kilometers (~21.13 miles).
The weather today was cooler and much, MUCH more windy than it has been lately, but we were sticking it to old age! We weren't about to crawl back to our desks! Off we went, into the wind. Well, actually, we first started at a nice fast pace with our BACKS to the wind. But, darn it, even at 34 we turned around at around 10.5 miles and came back the way we left.
The wind was stiff, but surprisingly enough, we kept up a fast pace and even managed to, with the help of a stoplight, reel in a couple of riders decked out in a local team kit.
How do you correctly pass another year of age? Riding, of course. Was there really any question? Today, I didn't feel old. Neither did my friend, I think. Happy birthday.
Friday, May 08, 2009
There was a time, back in the heady '90's when the predominant style of mountain bike was the cross country race bike. Most of the mountain bikes sold had short chain stays--the shorter the better!--and steep angles. They climbed well, had fast handling but were twitchy on the descents. Because racers would cross train on the road, and because there was little to no suspension to coushon the blows, they desired multiple hand positions. Flat bars didn't quite cut it in that respect. They also wanted another hand hold for climbing, to help move the weight forward and provide a good handle to pull against.
Posted by James at 9:08 AM
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Recently I received some information from NiteRider regarding their new lights... and updates to their current LED lights. Let's start with the current lights: