Monday, December 31, 2007

The gears are turning... in my head

On Friday I finally put together and posted my 2008/GamJams wish list of all things cycling. After posting I got to thinking, and then thinking some more until suddenly I was cruising around and numerous manufacturers’ websites looking at new mountain bikes. Then the next thing I knew my bicycle was listed on Craigslist and I was eyeing up some other items in my closet to sell for bicycle funding. So now I’m in the process of finding out about a deal on a KHS Tucson 29’er, which I’m thinking I’m probably going to be getting… Damn I move quickly sometimes (though not always considering it took me 4 years to get the pack I’d been eyeing).

So, hopefully someday soon I’ll be out cruising on my new 29’er in Patapsco and the other regional mountain trails. I’ll post pictures if I get it…

May not be the best spec'd out bike out there but damn that is a smooth lookin ride!

A near perfect weekend

What a great weekend! While I didn’t ride as much as I would have liked, I did get out for a decent 30 mile steady state ride Saturday late morning after a relaxing morning. On Friday I made a specific point of getting both my fixed gear and Cannondale home as I’d driven in to Hains Point and spun over from there in morning. Unfortunately today I am wishing I’d just left the fixed gear here at the office since I wussed out on riding in or even bringing it in because of the rain/mix being called for today. Now of course it is absolutely drop dead stunning outside and all I want to do is blow off the rest of the day and go cruise around the city. Ah well, I’m taking off early so I’ll head home and get out for a nice fixed spin around the ag center this afternoon instead.

The ride on Saturday was fantastic; just a nice double layer of gear and some reasonable gloves and I was doing great. I went out to Powder Mill and looped back around to Baltimore Ave and back to Edmonston before heading up Sunnyside to Rhode Island and stopping in Proteus bikes for a bit to check out their selection of 29’ers (I’ll talk more about that in a minute). From there I spun down RI and across the ped bridge to Lake Accotink and then down Cherryhill Lane back to Edmonston and back for another loop around the ag center land and up Research back home.

It felt great to be out on the bike and aside from being a little lonely at times on my own it was a perfect morning. I rode a very nice and steady speed and average a bit faster then I’d expected which was nice as well but really it was a sweet little zone 2/zone 3 spin. Unfortunately I never got out on the fixie like I’d planned so really there was no reason for me to bother bringing it home. Oh well.

Sunday I went on a great 2 hour hike in the woods across the street from my house with Sara, her dog and a dog she is watching for some relatives. It was perfect weather for a hike; a bit of a chill in the air but reasonable, although the ground was a bit wet for my taste. I’m always amazed though at how many different little trails there are back in the section of woods between my place and the Ag Center land. While we were probably no more then a mile or two from my house at any given time, we managed to spend a solid 2 hours straight on the trails, never hitting the same trail twice aside from one small section which I intentionally crossed back on just so we could get out to a big green field area (isn’t it supposed to be winter right now???).

I’ve figured out a good portion of the trails out there though it seems like every time I make it out there I find a new section of trails and spend at least a half hour wondering where the hell I am. Yesterday When I thought we’d over hiked the section that would spit us out right across from my place we still managed to pop out at one of the streets well ahead of that section. I could spend a full day in there and probably still not cover all of the trails it has to offer. I love Greenbelt!

After the hike I made my way over to REI to see about getting a rel pair of hiking boots and at least to get fitted for the pack I've been eyeing up for the past 4 years. I ended finding a great pair of backpacking boots by Merrel and actually ended up walking out with the pack and boots and a few pairs of smartwool socks to boot. Oops. The pack fit perfectly and since it was the last one of my size in stock I decided I may as well just go ahead and get it. So, I am now the proud new owner of an Osprey Atmos 50 pack and will hopefully being using said pack very soon. This weekend is looking somewhat perfect for a mild winter hike/camping trip though I think the logistics just aren't going to quite come together for it just yet.

While at REI the lady that helped me with my boots actually turned out to be a neighbor and invited me along with some other REI folks on a new years camping trip out to West Virginia. I so badly wish I could go! Maybe next year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My big fat CY08 Wish List

A while back, Mike from asked all the ambassadors for some ideas (basically a wish list) for products we’d like to gain access to through the sponsorship program. Me being on a working/non-biking sabbatical of sorts did not manage to put anything together for it, despite the fact I’d long before started to come up with some ideas of what I could use this off-season. Granted my list more revolved around how much everything would cost and ultimately how damn expensive cycling is, but in the end it really was my wish list for the year. So, without further ado, here is my official wish list for calendar year 2008:

First and foremost: an indoor trainer! I had borrowed one from Scott last year but living with someone else and riding it on the third floor of the apartment complex, I didn’t use it nearly as much as I should have. Mostly due to how loud it would be which probably went directly through the walls and vibrated through the whole building. Now, living in my own place on the ground floor I won’t feel as bad about breaking one out and putting in some good miles in my living room in front of the latest netflix movie. I should add here also a nice long pair of head phones or wireless head phones so I don’t have to blare the volume too loudly.

Next would be gels, goos, bars and drinks for training rides. I’ve only had limited experience with getting into these and have never actually bought a full box or jug of them though I understand they are very helpful and even important for longer and more serious training sessions. In my marathon training I made the greatest use of these and was very thankful to have them throughout the way. This year with my planned additional training I’d like to really invest in my nutritional goods.

My next big desire would be a new hard tail mountain rig. I know this is well outside the region of a gamjams ambassador sponsorship deal, but it is something I’d really like to look into for this coming season. At this point the majority of my racing for the season will likely be road, but I’ve recently made some rumblings about doing a 13 hour and a 24 hour team race plus I’d like to get out for Wednesdays at Wakefield again and maybe even do a couple of the cranky monkey series races. My current mt rig is a 97 or 98 Trek 6000; a big deal in my eyes back in 97/98 when I bought it brand new as my first suspension mt bike but a bit dated and low end now. The bike is in amazing condition considering the lack of care I’ve provided it, however the front shock needs to be serviced and more then likely replaced and I dream about disc brakes on a nightly basis. I’ve loved that bike for a long time and have sworn for years I’d never sell it, though now I’m beginning to feel differently about the whole thing.

Gloves, caps, socks…; I feel like you can never have enough of any of these. They all wear through relatively quickly and are all relatively important to cyclists. As for sponsorship, these are inexpensive to produce and probably couldn’t provide much of a loss to companies if they were to be, say given away for free… Sweet sock, gloves and especially cycling caps are great and visible options for advertising a brand.

Helmet: I only have one helmet and it doesn’t even match my kit! Kidding, sort of. I’m not sure there are too many helmets out there to match a lime green kit. It would however be nice to have more then one stinky helmet lying around. It’d also be good to keep one at work so I’m not always the idiot at Hains with out a helmet for the noon ride.

Shoes: My road shoes are a bit tight to be layering anything underneath them for cold weather riding. What can I say I got them on sale. Hopefully somewhat soon I’ll get my hands (or feet really) on a decent pair that’s maybe a half size too big so I can layer up the sock s and stop loosing feeling in my feet every time I step outside to ride.

Tires: I’m sort of partial to my Michelin Race Pro 2’s and my Specialized Armadillos on the fixie, though that’s probably due to the fact that they’re the only tires I’ve really ever ridden. That said, the damn things a f’in expensive when it comes down to it. Even just replacing them every year is tough to squeeze especially when I add in the rest of the upgrades, nutrition and new bikes etc… Plus I should add tubes here… once again something you can never have enough of and go through like water.

Wheels: I NEED spare wheel sets. I’ve finally bought my first wheel set which was for my cross bike and I’ll probably use them as spares for my season but it’d be nice to get a nice pair of racing wheels. These though will probably be the last thing I choose to blow my cash on.

Finally, Saddles: I’d like to outfit all my rides with my choice of saddle. This means $100+ per bike generally. For road we’re looking at the Specialized Toupe Gel saddle, while my mountain seat of choice is the Specialized mountain equivalent. I actually tested it when I bought the Cannondale and felt like I was riding in a Cadillac or something; a bit much for a road bike but perfect for a mountain rig where weight is of much less concern.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. I'm hoping to land a new Cross bike for next season to hopefully help motivate my butt to race more cross!

Well there you go; I already sent it to Santa who blew me off this year, so now I’ll just go ahead and throw it out here. Anyone? Anyone?

Oh well, it was worth a try…

Rolling along... for starters at least

Alright, I’m on a roll! I’ve been on my bike now 2 days in a row. Granted, today doesn’t really count considering all I did was ride from hains point to my office, though it’s still better then nothing. This morning I finally switched the pedals on the track/fixed gear to my SPD’s so I can use it to get places again. I love riding it with the Speedplays but then I’ve always get to have an extra pair of shoes for when I get where I’m going since you can’t get Speedplay MTB shoes. Ah well.

Lunch today I’ve unfortunately made plans to eat with a co-worker so there will be no noon ride for me, but tonight I plan to bring both bikes home so I can try and get in some solid miles over the weekend. I need to build some fitness back up so I can start going out and joining the weekend group rides and start getting some real training. At this point I’d likely be dropped within the first 30 minutes of most of the rides.

This morning by the way was quite possibly the easiest drive to Hains I've ever had. 295 was slowed up a total of once and 395 I hardly hit the breaks before the exit to Hains. I may drive in Monday also just to take advantage of it while it's there!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Overcoming the slug

I’ve finally done it! Today I squeezed myself (my rounded, softened self) back into my knickers and riding gear and spun down to hains point with Scott to pretend to do the noon ride. I most certainly didn’t expect to do too much and only hung in the group for 2 laps, one of which was the easy rolling warm up, but it just felt great to get back out on the bike, get used to things again and spend some time in the sun. Interestingly enough, I actually felt relatively strong on the bike but I just don’t have any kind of endurance whatsoever. Some nice long steady rides will need to be in my training regiment over the next few weeks. Hopefully now that the need to be somewhere everyday after work is over I’ll be able to start commuting in and out again as well.

The holiday was excellent as usual, even if a bit different the usual. My folks sold their house and now live in a 2 bedroom apartment about the same size as my place and my sister’s. So, Christmas was spent at my sister’s place, though only the afternoon and dinner. The morning of I made my father’s famous family pancake for a certain someone and relaxed. It was great to have Monday off too as it made the weekend the perfect stress free time off that I needed. Now if only things would pick up here at work so I wouldn’t be so damned bored!

Oh, and I got the REI Half Dome 2 person tent along with an MSR backpackers stove and cooking set... sweeeet...

Hopefully you all had as relaxing and comfortable a holiday as I did.

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Elf's Lament

Talk about a loss of fitness! I think at the rate I’ve been going here I’ve lost not only my physical fitness but also any possible blogger fitness as well. Over the last 3 or so weeks I’ve been on a bike once and that was in my work clothes spinning across town to drop something off with a friend. Ouch. Hopefully after Christmas that will change.

Work has been super busy with both work related projects and some inner-office shifting going on that have had me polishing the old resume and blowing smoke up my ass as I write answers to the governmental KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Ability questions). The good news here is that I could come out of this high stress holiday with a new government job as opposed to the contract position I currently hold. On top of all that I’ve been putting in a few hours selling Christmas trees out in Chevy Chase for some holiday cash which nearly been a second full time on top of things. My bicycles don’t like me too much right now. (Apparently as a fed you get holiday bonuses! There goes any need to work a second job for a few extra dollars next year…)

Hopefully along with the freeing up of my spare time and the slowing of the office pre-holiday crunch I’ll be back out on the bike attempting to rebuild the measly base I might have had before my three weeks of fitness sloth.

On a less sour note, Merry Christmas all! I hope your holiday brings you to what matters most this season (and I don’t mean more miles on the road).