Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm about to head off for the north(ish) country of Northeast PA for the Thanksgiving with the family. Doing a last load of laundry before I leave in a couple of hours and brave the drive up 95.

Unfortunately despite the fact that I just got the mountain bike back I won't be taking it up with me. I just can't justify ditching the family (and Aimee) the one full day I spend there to go ride solo. Not to mention while I guarantee there are some great riding spots very near the folks house, I don't know any of them yet. Once Brian gets a mountain bike I'm sure we'll bring them up on occasion and find some great riding but for now I'm stuck with whatever running and hiking we may do.

Hopefully Sunday the weather will have been decent and I can get out for a quick ride before the week starts. God, I'm already talking about the end of the "vacation", I need another vacation!

To all those traveling for the holiday here's to your safe arrival and return, and to everyone I hope you have a nice, relaxing and comfortable Thanksgiving holiday.

Back in the Saddle

Sweet! Got the Jamis from the shop last night on the way home from work and then swung down 495 to catch the Rosaryville night ride at 7. Traafic was super light going south but I could see the hell brewing over on the outter loop. The guys got the Dragon 29'er set up with a singleater and it was set to roll. Unfortunately an inner bolt on the singleater taps a couple of my spokes but I['ll take that over not riding any day.

My initial feelings on the new frame were that it definitely had me on a shorter wheel base. I never paid too much attention to overall geometry and the bike's measurements since I really don't know much about that but I could automatically feel the difference. Not a bad thing, just a bit twitchier then the Exile had been. I think the headtube angle on the Exile sloped out more so the front end felt a little funny at first, also adding to the twithy feeling.

Out on the trails the group of 6 moved with a purpose and I quickly got the hang of the bike. On the inner loop I had some issues; whether they were more just me riding poorly or the bike behaving differently then I expected I won't say but I'd like to think it was a combination of the two... With a little extra suctitude on my part. I hit the handle bar at one point on a tiny handlebar hieght cut off sapling trunk and it flipped me over the bars. Totally unexpected and definitely my first relatively hard crash since Big Bear. Had some other minor issues clearing a few logs but otherwise everything was smooth.

At this point I'm feeling like I'll definitely need to be upgrading the frame to gears, I'll probably start by moving it over to a 9 speed set up. While it is great in that it's got me back out on the bike, the singleater slipped a good bit and isn't the ideal riding set up for me. The good news though is I really do like the frame and will definitely be able to build it up into a nice geared hardtail as time and money permits.

One other note about last night's ride; for the first time I used only the head mounted (performance brand 10 Watt) light as opposed to combining that with the bar mounted NiteRider set up. It turns out I think the two lower end lights combined were causing me more issues then I realized. I'd try to rely too much on the bar mounted light and would just throw myself off with the headlamp, not to mention the bar light turns with the handle bars, not my head. So the solo headlamp actually provided a far superior riding experience for me. That's good news since my bother in law is borrowing the NiteRider these days. Now to pick up a decent helmet mount light with an actual helmet mount. (Last night my black electrical tape was missing so I used white athletic tape. Talk about ghetto; my helmet looked like a head cast.

Forgot to mention the excellent first tasting of some home brew in the parking lot after the ride made by Eric and Paul. Best ride leaders ever! And an excellent scotch something ale Eric said came from a book of clone brews by a guy with a difficult name... I think I got it.

I know what the brother in law will be getting for Christmas on top of those bib shorts I already gave him... :) (I sense a very selfish agenda on my part, riding gear so he'll ride with me more and home brew recipes so I can get more home brew beer...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chainlove is a splitten?

From the Chainlove Forums from today:

by Grant Baron (82)

Those bikes I told you about should be rolling sometime in December. Maybe as late as January when the site splits into Road/Mountain so you might want to hold off until then. Unless you're getting super antsy to get a bike. It could very well be worth the wait.

Oooooo, I barely contain my excitement! And read up from that, bikes galore!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Changing things up a bit here. Not actually doing any work on things (google loaded templates only) but a change of pace is always nice.

Also working on updating the blogroll. I like the google provided action available now through the gadgets. Real-time blog roll for the win.

I'm swapping over from Bloglines to Google reader so it may take some time to move everyone in there. In the mean time, Google Reader has a neat feature for finding other blogs that match your interests. I found this one which may be my new favorite gear review/droll over blog. If you like 29'ers you'll probably like that site.

The Exile

For those who may have wanted to see it, the busted Exile:

Thanks to Eric for sending me the pic since I forgot to take any and the frame has already been trashed or whatever fromt he bike shop. If you look closely you can see the crack in the head tube and the Decal lifted off a bit from the frame, b ut still just barely holding things together there. Yeah I was riding on that for a short couple of minutes...

I stopped by Proteus yesterday to take a look at the new Dragon frame replacement from Jamis. I've gotta say, it looks preety slick. I'm thinking I'm going to be pretty happy with it, both in the short term and down the road when I convert it over to the geared hardtail it was meant to be.

I took a picture of it but never uploaded it so I'll have to wait again to post that one. For now enjoy the relative carnage.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My 2009 Wish List

Last year when he first started the Ambassadors program, Mike asked us all to put together a list of products we might be interested in using through some type of sponsorship/demo deals. I missed the deadline for the post but then took the idea and went ahead and wrote my own post as a general CY2008 wish list of biking related gear; things I hoped to get my hands on during/for the 2008 season. I stumbled across that post today and decided it was time for me to post my CY2009 bicycling wish list and maybe comment on the results of my 08 version.

So, without further ado and since I know you’re all so curious as to what I’m wishing for this year – My CY2009 Bike Stuff Wish List!

The small stuff:

This goes right along with last year’s post; I can always use new socks, caps and gloves as well as tubes and tires. Of the two cycling caps I own, one is just getting ratty and gross and the other is somewhat too big for my head. More of them would be good. I need to invest in some more DeFeet wool socks for riding in the cold and some more cycling socks in general since most of mine are starting to wear out pretty badly. My fixed gear needs a new rear tire, my C’dale road bike needs new front and rear tires and I have no other mt tires other then what came with the Exile. I need to invest in some rubber.

Gu’s and sport drinks have become more ingrained in my training and racing routine and really add up as the season goes on.

The Medium stuff (aka stuff I may actually get):

Bump those tires down here actually. The armadillos on the fixed gear (and probably on the roadie for the winter season) run about $50/tire. The racing slicks for the racing season I like are Michelin Pro’s, $40+ for the Pro2’s, and I think $60+ for the Pro3’s. Ouch. 29’er mountain tires? Haven’t really even looked yet but I KNOW it’s gonna hurt.

Upgrades for the mountain rig – I really need to get some new grips on the Jamis. I’ve heard great things about those Ergon grips and the way my hands have been feeling lately on mtb rides I can definitely see the benefits. I’d also like to upgrade the handle bar, stem and seat post while I’m at it. More for this category in a bit too.

Riding gear: can never have enough riding gear, especially for the cold weather. I need to look into some nice wool jerseys as well as a good warm and wind blocking cycling cap. A balaclava has been on the wanted list for a bit as well.

Riding light – At some point I’m going to need to invest in a decent lighting system for night riding. The two I have (a performance brand 10 Watt light and the Niterider Road Rat) are ok but they aren’t as bright as I’d like. Also I jerry-rig the head light set up and the niterider is heavy as sin, plus it’s on loan to the bro in law for commuting for now. I’d like to try and get my hands on the Niterider MiNewt for a good helmet light and higher end light for the handle bar mount. We’ll see.

Road cycling shoes – Didn’t get these last year and I could still use a new pair. I’ve been watching Chainlove and they always have some amazing shoes for amazing (relative) deals but for now my money is tied up in, well vapor… and xmas presents. Oh and the ones on chainlove half the time are national championship version or gold or team liquigas replica type deals that I’d feel like I tool riding in. My flashy red and black Northwave Chameleon mtb shoes are flashy enough for me. I’m also kind of caught up on whether I should be investing in some decent tri shoes here also. During the season I got to where I’d take the shoes off while on the bike and I can see where the tri specific shoes would be very beneficial there.

Helmet – I still just have the one. Rudy project was offering some great deals through DCTri I believe so maybe I can get in on that one of these days.

Pedals – It’s time to upgrade the mtb from the basic SPD pedals. I’m eyeing up some crank brothers candy sl pedals. Could be nice

The big stuff (aka not gonna happen in this economy):

Well last year I wanted a new hardtail but got a new rigid, single speed. I was happy with that. As fate has directed it seems I’ve now ended up with a frame which would make a great hardtail. I’m thinking that’s the eventual direction I’ll be taking it. As I was saying before with the upgrades, new geared set up. I’m thinking X.9 components, fox fork, some higher end brakes, some nicer, lighter 29’er wheels… Then maybe a used single speed 29’er frame and I’ll be pretty set up there. So, what I’m saying is, I think I should be thinking about a full squishy. Yeah, I know I’ve always said I think it’d be unnecessary and there is nothing here to use it on, but I now believe I’m wrong. Nothing in mind specifically at the moment but it’s there in the back of my mind. Brooding.

Next, and even less likely – A Tri-Bike.

Aero wheels

Aero helmet

Blah blah blah.

This is getting to be too much. I should have just posted a link to a high end bike shop’s web site and saved myself (and anyone reading this) the time.

Biker Love - To: Jamis - From: Kmax

I've been waiting to write about this until I really knew what was going on. After some initial signs that things were going to be very smooth, a longer then expected delay settled in followed by some seemingly disappointing news. At that point I was fairly certain nothing good was going to come of my situation. Things have since been sorted out and in the end, while it may not be the ideal outcome I am feeling satisfied with the outcome. On top of that I truly feel I can say that excellent service was provided in dealing with my issue; thank you Craig Hoyt and Jamis in your willingness to work with this.

So, here's the story:

I waited for 2 weeks with no word from anyone after dropping off the bike at Proteus. After the latest ride report over on the MORE forums put me over the edge I put in a call to Proteus to see about what kind of progress had been made. The general idea of Jamis' stance was pretty unclear but I left the conversation with the understanding that there were no Exile frames to be had and that I could receive a credit on a new bike. Not looking to buy myself a (replacement) Christmas present at this point. Obviously not a great outcome for me.

The shop said they'd look into it some more and I went ahead and contacted Craig to see if he knew anything more about it. He said he knew they were out of single speed frames but he'd get in touch with the distributer and see what he could find out. A few days later I get a call from the shop and they say they offered a Dragon 29'er frame and that beginning in '09 Jamis was going to have the Dragon 29'er Single Speed (it appears in replacement of the Exile). Ok, I can live with that; it's a downgrade in the frame (Reynolds 631 to the Dragon with Reynolds 520, an entry level steel frame) so it's not perfect but at least it's a new frame to ride for now. At this point I'm still a bit disappointed but it is what it is.

The next day I get a call from the shop saying they sent the geared Jamis Dragon 29'er frame. Huh? I wanted a single speed, I don't want to rebuild to a new bike, there are no vertical dropouts on the geared frame. Ok, I've got to think about this. Turns out the frame is Reynolds 853, an upgrade; it's not bad looking (though damn I really like the looks of the 2009 Dragon 29'er frame, with that saddle??? HOT!!!) and if it turns out I want to build up a hardtail geared rig up I've got a great frame to do it with. Ok, I'm sold; turns out Jamis even hooked me up with a singleator so I'm basically all set for now.

So, while I really just expected and was hoping for a new 2008 Exile Single Speed 29'er with the reinforced frame, Jamis did what they could and gave me a higher grade frame (with some solid reviews) and the setup I need to run it single for now. I appreciate not only the willingness of Jamis to work with me & Proteus to come up with a reasonable solution but even more so the quick action once things were settled and even the small details of setting me up with the singleator to get me back in the saddle quickly.

I can't WAIT to get back out on the bike! I'll post some pictures when I get it. As for the old frame, if it's hanging around the shop I'll try and snag some shots of it before they get rid of it since I forgot to before dropping it off. Otherwise, just imagine - busted.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day one marathon training

Finally hit the pavement again yesterday after about a month of not running. I'd like to say my foot was hurting and needed a break but really I was just not feeling like running... or swimming... or working out at all, unless of course it was on a mountain bike (news on that too come). So, finally yesterday on my late lunch I got in a nice 4 miler on the Mall.

Aside from cramping up a little during the third mile I felt pretty good. A bit heavy and tight in general but nothing too bad. Tonight I'm going to get the pup out for another 4 or 5 miler; the training program calls for 4 hill repeats but it also called for a 10 miler on last Saturday so I'm going to spend a week or two just putting my base back together before I really hit the program hard.

If I stick to my program fairly well I should be looking at around 600 miles logged by the end of March with close to 250 miles by the end of the year. That's a lot of miles, though I'll likely see the mid-training blues kicking in sometime there and likely a bit more cross training mixed in there then the program calls for.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back to the grind stone

Last night I talked to a buddy I hadn't heard from in a couple of months; I told him all I felt like doing these days is sleeping and eating. Aside from the once or twice weekly commute from Greenbelt and some mountain biking (until 2 weeks ago) I've pretty much been completely slacking since Jerseyman... Ouch. I'm officially feeling like a out of shape slob. I've run 1 time since, haven't touched a pool or weights and have barely spun the pedals. Mix that with the amount of food and candy I've been shoveling in my face lately I think the description really works.

Ok, so my goal is to run the National Marathon at the end of March. Looks like it's time to start my training! A couple years ago I used the training program supplied by the folks with the Shamrock Faestival Marathon down in VA Beach which worked well so I'll be keying off it again. This time though I'm using the 20 week advanced program which coincidentally started last week. Looks like I'm supposed to be doing 10 miles this weekend... I think I'll ease in to this one a little bit.

Took the day off Tuesday (best day for a day off ever, except maybe a Wednesday) to hike Sugarloaf Mountain with Brain and the dogs. Did a nice 6.5 miles over steady up and down terrain with some fairly intense little sections along the Orange trail from the East side lot. I highly suggest the Northern Peaks Trail for a solid hiking effort and if you don't mind a little scrambling take the Orange Trail from the East view parking lot to the meet up with the red then blue. Very fun and some nice views included.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcoming a new era

I don't really need to say anything for any readers to know how I feel right now; for the time being I can just point to the big smile on my face. In relation to biking; it looks like there is a pretty solid chance for cyclists to gain some ground over the next few years...

Secretary of Transportation: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)

Two of our favorite Senators listed (solely) as the possible candidates for DoT Secretary... A far cry from the last 8 years.

On another note I think we can all take part in the pride surrounding our country's growth. To many this was a deciding factor (maybe even both ways), but I think to a lot of people it is simply a tremendous bonus to come along with this election (win or lose). It says something about our country that makes me proud to say I'm a part of it that we, as a whole, can finally get past our prejudices, if not fully at least enough to make it obvious that in the grand scheme of things race doesn't matter!

For that, I think we can ALL be thankful.

Congratulations President Obama and family and congratulations America, the true melting pot of the world.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Unexpected time frames

Have you voted today?

I figured I'd "beat the crowds" this morning by walking the 2 blocks down the street the Greenbelt Elementary School a bit before the doors opened at 7am. The line wrapped over and out of the parking lot by the time I got there at about 10 till. Oops. About an hour and a half later I was on my way to work. I'll be looking for my free Starbucks Coffee later on today and maybe even my free Ben and Jerry's later on.

Yesterday Brian and I commuted in to work. We took the usual route in, meeting around 7:15 at the usual spot. I decided it'd be cool to try out a different route going home and since I failed to get a ride in this weekend figured I could go for a few more anyway. We cut out West through Geaorgetown and up the Capital Crescent Trail to Bethesda. From Bethesda we cut East until we hit Beach and then headed North.

By this time it was getting pretty substaintially dark and Brian didn't have lights (aside from the urban commuter light I provided) so I had to stick behind him which was a bit tough going up Jones Mill by the Mormon Cathedral since he was in the easiest gear trying to spin slowly up the hill. In the end we got him home safely at around 20 miles and sometime near 6pm. I took off through Sligo Creek with a headlight and blinky on my way back Southeast towards the NW branch trail and back to my usual NE branch trail towards home.

In total my trip was 37 miles going home, probably at least half in complete darkness and about 53 for the day. A bit more then I'd planned for though it was good riding a bit more. Really my only issue was I just wasn't mentally prepared for the darkness so early. Despite knowing it's coming it always takes me by surprise the first commute home after daylight savings kicks in. Using that day to test out a new route was probably not the smartest thing to do this year.