Thursday, August 25, 2011

The High Cost of Riding Bikes: Money and Pride

It has been a rough and fairly expensive week of riding. It started with a weekend mountain bike ride. Though not great for long distances, Sunderbruch Park provides some technical riding with some decent climbs. Great for busting lungs and chains. I was cranking hard up a steep climb when I heard a metallic ping sound and the sudden spin of cranks with no resistance. The side plats had come right off the rivet. I have broken chains in the past but usually part of the chain goes flying. I was close to a walking path and decided to coast back to the car vs. spend 1/2 hour fixing a chain that wouldn't shift right because it would be short. I went to the LBS and it was determined that the best fix would be mediocre and since the Anthem X 29er is such a nice ride it would be sad to spoil it. It turns out that there is no such thing as an affordable option for a 10 speed chain. The best price I could find was $50.

Monday I took the Basso down Duck Creek Parkway with a nice addition of Wisconsin Ave, which is a nice stretch winding through corn fields for a total of 27 miles.

Tuesday morning brought a major thunder storm. It dumped rain so I decided to take good old reliable out for a spin that afternoon. I bought the Salsa Las Cruces (Spanish for "The Cruces") while I was in Iraq and it has been the most carefree bike I have ever owned.

I have ridden thousands of miles on it and all I have had to replace are tires, tubes, a seat, and the handlebar tape. I rode from the house to Duck Creek Parkway. The bike was a good choice because some sections had close to a foot of water on it. There was some mud on the asphalt in some places where dirt had washed off slopes so I took it pretty easy. There are a few places where the bike path intersects roads which have crosswalks and lights that change on demand. I had just crossed the road when a couple approached to front of me, I moved to the right to give them a little room when my front tire slid off the bike path. The slight drop coupled with the soft earth caused my tire to slide and I felt my body skid across the asphalt.

At this point I would like to briefly discuss Lycra. It has pros and cons.

Pros: Less wind resistance and does not flap in the breeze on long rides. Helps keep you cool by allowing for quick drying.

Cons: Not flattering unless you are sculpted out of the finest Italian marble. Tends to draw negative attention from small town hics and Southern rednecks.

I would suggest however, that it is very practical material and that athletes from many disciplines wear Lycra for its benefits. Here are a few:

Speed Skating


The Skeleton

And of course the most manly sport ever, football

However, there are some times when Lycra is not practical. Mainly when your upper thigh/lower buttocks are skipping across the pavement. I felt my entire left side become one with the ground as I heard the scrapping of my bike (still attached to my feet) for about 6 feet. Now, this is certainly not as bad as pulling a "Coop" or Hoogerland, but it still hurt. I quickly sprung to my feet, looking to my left an old lady nicely asked if I was "ok." The same came from the couple. Holding back tears I said in my most manly voice "nothing hurt but pride!"

But that was not true, the entire left side of my body hurt. I looked down and saw the redness of my shin. I was afraid to look at my thigh/buttock for fear of what I would find. My ankle was on fire and bleeding. I knew if I stopped for long I would stiffen up, so I made the climb home.

The cost:

1. My left Crank Brothers Candy, which was probably due for an overhaul anyway. Aside from the cosmetic damage, it doesn't like to spin and has a squeak. It may just need to be retired.

2. A shredded Salsa "Rasta" sock from 2006 (x-mas gift from Coop)

3. A scraped up Salsa "Rasta" rear skewer (brand new, never ridden before) which Salsa doesn't make anymore. I think it is just cosmetic but no one likes scratched up skewers.
4. A raging case of road rash on the upper thigh/buttock region. I will not show you a picture of that.

5. Pride. I don't have much left.

While it was a bad day for the Salsa Cycles Rasta motif, my Pearl Izumi Lycra survived unscathed (which is weird considering my flesh was not). My Specialized shoes got a small scuff, they won't die! If only my body was made out of the same stuff as my Specialized shoes.

I am going to ride the Great River Trail on Saturday to get some miles in. Hopefully I don't have the same problems.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rockin' By the River

The year was 1992. I was 16 years old and I had just completed my first year at Helena High School. I spent the summer mowing lawns with my brother and cousin. We cleaned up, it was amazing. I flew to New Mexico to work and backpack for a month. I drove a 12 year old 1980 Dodge D-50. I was an orange piece of crap, but I didn't know any better. I had a Sony Discman and I used a cassette adapter to listen to my few compact discs. It was an amazing summer.

Fast forward to 2011, 19 years later. I am alive! I have lived in Davenport, Iowa for two weeks. My wife drives a minivan and I drive a 10 year old SUV. She still uses a cassette adapter but for an iPod, I have a new stereo that allows me to plug into my iPod that has thousands of songs. Some of those songs are from CDs I bought in 1992. One of those CDs is the Gin Blossoms. They had reasonable success. Now instead of misadventures with my brother and cousin, I am drag my kids around to what I hope will be fun events.

This weekend was River Roots Live. A pretty amazing event located at a park by the Mighty Miss. They have a BBQ rib competition and back to back bands. They play on one stage while the other band breaks down and another sets up. Friday night The Gin Blossoms played and I wanted to see them. This event draws about 20,000 people, so the kids and I went early.

Ol' Man River

The Chick was less than impressed. She started to fade after the first band, which was really good. It was The Giving Tree Band. Then there was some bluesy band, I cannot remember the name, though they were good. The kids needed a snack and something to drink and it was down to business. Vance had a great time.

Vance drummed for about an hour. I was tired, so was he.

Drumming to the Gin Blossoms.

Monday, August 15, 2011

100 Miles With No Plan

When I found out I would be moving to Rock Island Arsenal, I decided to look into cycling activities. I found that the Quad Cities has a great bicycling club. I had one check with me in Pakistan so I used it to sign up for a century in September. My plan was to put a ton of miles on the road so I would be prepared.

I have never ventured much past 50 miles. It usually takes me about 4 hours. When I use my GPS my average speed is typically 17-18 MPH. That is on pretty even terrain without a lot of big climbs. Of course if there are any mechanical issues or flats, that adds time.

As it usually goes my dreams do not come close to reality. I cannot ride every day, nor do I have 3-4 hours a day to train properly. So here is the current plan to survive a 100 mile ride.

1. Ride as much as possible.

2. Get a good set of tires (avoiding flats=finishing in less than 8 hours).

3. Drink a bunch of water.

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of Jelly Belly Caffeinated Sports Beans and Cliff Bars as possible.

It is not much of a plan. We will see how it works out. My goal is sub 8 hours.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Iowa Rocks

As I have said before, when I was 20 years old if you had told me that I would live somewhere other than Montana, I would have called you crazy. Well, now I am in Iowa/Illinois. This is the last place I would have considered living (purely based on geography and the amount of corn).

We have been here less than a week and I have to say that I love it. I will list a few reasons:

1. There are more than ample bicycling opportunities. I have merely dabbled but I can say beyond a doubt this is going to be a great couple of years. Work is the only thing that can get in the way of my fun. Here are a few:

A. Hennepin Canal Parkway which boasts a 104.5 mile bike trail, with grooming in the winter for ski/snow machine, and my new passion Snow Bikes. I don't have a snow bike yet, but it is in the works.

B. A few miles from my house is the Duck Creek Parkway. Very nicely paved with the opportunity to get 20 miles (round trip) on a nice path. I have riden this once and love it.

c. Sunderbuch Park has a 7 mile mountain bike park with some very technical riding and a couple of elevation changes that challenge the legs, lungs, and heart.

2. I had an amazing bratwurst with Boetje's Mustard (I know what everyone is getting for Christmas!) down by Ol' Man River. It is nice to have that "small town" feel, it reminds me of having a hotdog at the Last Chance Gulch in Helena or Higgins Ave. in Missoula.

3. I could only come up with two so far but there will be more to follow.

Iowa rocks, even though I have seen more corn than rocks.

Old Man River

Enjoying the splash park by Old Man River.