Monday, March 30, 2009

A couple of things

Brian wrote a personal letter to Lance Armstrong with some words of "condolence" and "encouragement". Hopefully Lance gets a chance to see it and it helps cheer him up about his outlook on the whole thing.

Jenny answered the call and enjoyed the beautiful day (and dodged some traffic) yesterday with Brian out in Sligo Creek.

I did my first patrol for the Volunteer Park Patrol, rode my "single speed" cross bike with rusting chain, forgot my id badge, and drank too much coffee and had pee in the woods (indecent exposure anyone). Great start to a promising career of kicking the bad guys' butts!

Afterwards Aimee and I spent some time outside with the dogs, getting Cass some good swimming time and homer some sprint drills mixed with some carbo loading. Afterwards I took Cass off with me to get in an 8 miler out through some of the dirt road back around the Ag Center and then back down around the Greenbelt Lake.

Felt great and running on the dirt roads was a lot of fun. The birds and other noisey wildlife were out in abundance making an entertaining racket. I felt like I could run forever on those roads, if only they just went forever. I'm really feeling great running right now and think I may start trying to bump up the mileage and see what kind of distance I can start getting in. Possibly aiming for something 26.2+...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Two week round-up

Is this thing still around?

So, getting home from work and getting back on the computer has just not been all that appealing to me lately. Hence the lack of blogging. Well, maybe that and the fact that I've not been out for a ride in 2 weeks, basically since the crash aside from commuting jaunts. Posting and riding seem to be more heavily correlated then anything else.

The norm for the day. Cassie sprinting around. Come dinner time I found her food all over the bottom of the bag since she'd managed to thrash the plastic baggies in her pack so hard they burst. The whole pack went up with the food sack over night.

In the mean time I've been running a bit more frequently and even got in a swim this week. The back is completely jacked up from the fall so that has something to do with the lack of riding. Amazingly the running seems to be helping to relax things. Swimming was pretty good too; some pain in the upper back area during freestyle but not severe and the hot tub post swim seemed to really help. I was surprised how easy my 1500 yard swim was after not having been to the pool since before Jerseyman. Good to carry over the base.

The Queen of the Valley. Cass poses over the best overlook of the hike.

Last weekend since I didn't have a new helmet yet, I decided to get out and enjoy the weather in a slightly different way. Cass and I headed up to SNP for a quick over nighter. Basically we hiked from Jenkins Gap along Mt Marshall Trail, up the Bluff Trail and onto the AT back to the Gap. In total we put in about 18 miles or so including a couple of side trips, one down Jordans River trail for water and another down the Big Devils Stairs Trail.

Another shot from my favorite outlook of the hike. Cass makes me a little nervous on this the way she jumps around (note the fingers through her her collar).

Like my last back country trip all was not perfectly smooth. While this time I remembered the matches, I brought them in a water proof case with a strike pad on the bottom. Unfortunately that strip was not enough to light the matches. A nearby camper was kind enough to loan me his match box so dinner was taken care of though in the morning I just packed up and took off snacking on what I had. One of these days that piping hot cup of coffee on a cool mountain side will be a reality; next I'll have multiple fire sources.

My favorite part of this overlook was the bird flying nearby. He'd swoop in close, searching for food in the woods down below. You really feel like your up there where the birds fly, despite the fact you just crossed over Skyline Drive a few miles back, if that.

Can't wait for the weather to get nice enough that I don't have to worry about extra warm clothes. It got really nice on Sunday but over night it was below 30. So, without the rain fly on (watching the stars is amazing) Cass got pretty chilly, even though she was wearing my big wool sweater. So, a few times during the night she'd crawl into my bag (way to small for that) until she needed to stretch her legs out again. I'll need to figure something out for that as well. Do they make dog sleeping bags? That seems like a bit much.

Today the AFC Sugar Hill race up at Avalon was called off at the last minute due to rain, though I decided I wasn't going sometime yesterday when I realized how much rain was supposedly on the way. Unfortunately the make up date is the same day as the Cherry Blossom 10 miler so I won't be able to make it. Anyone want a spot?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Training Duathlon results are posted. All in all not too bad. The first run was a little slower then I thought due to the 3 mile distance as opposed to what I thought was 3.1 but nothing drastic. Everything else is pretty straight forward what I had give or take a little due to transition time which I didn't really mess with. I was happy to see I turned in a slightly faster run time on the second run then the guy ahead of me that passed me on the bike. On the other hand I had him in my view almost the entire run, felt I was catching up but just couldn't turn it on to really give it a go. I think I should be able to turn up my pace at that point in a race to pick people off in the run.

In other news, I bought a new helmet on Sunday and returned it on Monday. I was feeling rushed at Performance while they were closing and made a hasty decision to buy the Giro Atmos for around $140. By the time I got home I knew I was returning it. Only problem now is that I still don't have a helmet. is having a 10% off online sales, sale and free shipping to the US and they've got a Bell Alchera on sale for $50. Looks good to me though I of course was poking around and found a 2XU tri suit on sale for $100. I've been eyeing that suit up for the past year and knowing this year I want something other then the Zoot suit I was wearing last year I'm now tossing around my real desire for this suit.

I could always justify it by telling myself that by buying both items I essentially spend the same amount I got back when I returned the Atmos. That seems to me like the same kind of logic as saying you lose money by not buying things (you don't need) at a big sale.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pre-Crash Saturday

I know, I said I wouldn't talk about it but... oh well. My body still hurts so I did anyway.

A shot from last week when it got warm. We got Cassie a couple of chances to swim while it was in the 70's. The water was still a bit chilly but she was having a good time none the less.

Friday night I went out to dinner with Aimee and her folks at the new National Harbor for her father's birthday. I won't go into my thoughts on the area, aside from pointing out how inaccessible it is and how badly I think that hurts it's chances of succeeding. After dinner we went to a sports bar to watch the Duquesne vs Dayton game. Very exciting with a GREAT outcome. Saturday's game not quite as great but still an awesome season for the Dukes. They will still likely make the NIT tournament which is a big deal considering their record four seasons ago was 3 and 24. See more fun Duquesne men's bball facts here.

Anyway, Saturday morning came early and saw me a bit groggy after a couple too many beers but I managed to drag myself out of bed before 7 anyway. I made my way down to Hains Point for the first DC Tri training duathlon of the year. The temps were just under 40 for the start at 8 and the group that showed up was surprisingly large.

I started off the opening 5k along with the front group of about 10 with a few guys tearing off the front of the group. For the first 2 miles or so I was feeling pretty descent and was sticking right with another guy who was running very smoothly. He eventually pulled away and continued to do so for the remainder of the run. I found myself somewhere around 1.5 and 2 miles losing my form and efficiency so there is definitely some work to be done there.

In the first transition I moved quickly and managed to make up some time on the guy I'd been chasing in the run. In the first few hundred meters I caught him, commended his run performance and then settled in for the 16.8 mile bike. I didn't feel great on the bike but also wasn't doing terrible. The glutes were feeling tight right away and stayed that way through about half of the bike section and in the end I averaged somewhere between 20 and 21 mph, with no serious head/tail winds for the ride. I believe I should be aiming for somewhere closer 23 in those conditions and on that course but at this point in the season I'll gladly take my result.

The second run was as usual a bit of a shock to the system. The calfs started to cramp initially but quickly loosened up. For the first brick of the season I feel pretty good about the post ride pace though hopefully later in the season I'll be able to hold a faster turnover on the run. One thing that needs some work which will assist in that and a better and more comfortable bike portion are my flexibility. Core strength also needs some work.

In the end I was passed by one guy at the end of the bike and otherwise sat in the same position from the early bike portion through the finish. Not sure my eventual placement but it was either 7th or 9th based on updates from one of the volunteers during the ride.

Total time was around 1:30.
My first run time was 19:40 (my first sub 20 5k I believe) a pace of 6:21/mile.
The bike portion was around 50 minutes, 20 point something mph.
The second bike 22:40, a pace of around 7:20/mile.

The Saturday Ass Over Elbows Edition

Ouch... Yesterday Brian and I finally made it up to the Avalon area of Patapsco for some riding. We'd planned to head out to the Leesburg Bakers Dozen course but with rain on the way and a 1+ hour drive to get there I suggested we forget about that idea. Turns out we probably made the right choice. We finished up our ride just as the rain started to fall as it was.

The Avalon trails have been basically out of commission for a while from the precip and freeze thaw cycles so we'd been waiting to get up there. It was Brian's first time ever riding there and my first time in at least a year or maybe 2 aside from a short night ride before last year's Baker's Dozen. Riding smooth, relatively flat and easy trails like Rosey and Fairland lately it was really good to get out to the more technical and hilly Avalon system.

My face scrapped something on impact and something sliced through my ear a bit as well.

We parked in the Park'n Ride on 195 and dropped in to the park. The decent was super fast and I was feeling great on the bike. Just before we got to the small lot and tot lot area before the first climb of the day I noticed a large and jumpable looking rock along the side of the trail. I went back and told Brian I was going to try and jump it. Bad idea.

The helmet obviously took a solid hit for me.

I jumped it though as I was doing so knew I shouldn't be. The rock had a steeper face then I realized so I went up hard and the front wheel came down fast. It planted with the rest of the bike still in the vertical position I went over the handle bars cracked my head off a log or something and landed flat on my back on top of said log. By far my hardest crash in a long time, maybe even ever, and I have the broken helmet to prove it. Damn.

A couple of spots showing the helmet did it's job.

Since it was within the first 10 minutes of the ride that this happened, once I shook the cobwebs out of my head and determined I wasn't badly injured I decided to go on. Brian obliged and we ended up getting a great 2+ hour ride in on surprisingly rut free and hard packed, and dry trails. Despite the crash I wasn't overly cautious which surprised me, at least until our final descent down a particularly tight, twisty and rocky/rooty trail.

Once I got all the dried blood cleaned up and the cut to stop bleeding it really doesn't look all that bad. You can sort of see the start of the cut there on the front of the ear.

Today, well I'll just say I feel it. The back, neck and shoulders are pretty sore, though still not quite as bad as I expected. The 800 mg Ibuprofen and Vicadin knock off medicine I've got left over from my wisdom teeth extraction likely have something to do with that though. The way I work I'll probably be worse off tomorrow; my soreness is always on a two day delay. In the mean time I need to look into getting a new helmet soon; a fellow rider out there yesterday reminded me about the Rockburn race coming up this weekend which I'm signed up for.

Unfortunately I didn't actually take any good shots during the ride so the focus of this posts images is of course my wreck. I guess the post itself is a little crash centric as well. Ah well, it's just been a while since I got to talk about how badly I tried to hurt myself I guess.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

GamJams Reviews: The Wheels I Want

I'm in a similar boat to Kyle in that probably the main set of wheels I wish I could get are a good set of deep dish time trial wheels. Something like a set of Zipp 404's or 808's (though I've never ridden either so I'd have to test them out beforehand to see which works best for me). They'd be specifically time trail/tri wheels.

On the other hand for the mountain bikes: I find the new Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels have to be one of the most amazing looking sets of wheels I have ever seen. From reviews I've read about them they are also an excellent cross country racing wheel. If only! Of course they'd never work with the lefty so they're pretty much out of the picture but still, they are amazing.

For the 29'er I've heard good things about the Mavic CrossMax 29'er wheel set. Not the greatest one out there but a very solid wheel set that would be a big step up from the laserdisc rims laced to no-name hubs that came with the Exile. On the other hand the Velocity Blunt rims laced to your basic deore hub would probably be a pretty affordable and considerable upgrade as well.


I wrote this post quickly this morning just so I'd have it up and wanted to add some things. (There is nothing more fun about day dreaming about bike porn). So, for the 29'er wheels, I like the Edge Composites as built up by Guitar Ted. This build for instance, at just over two grand but weighing in at under 1400 grams, the tubeless version along with DT 240 hubs is tight! Riding a set of 29'er wheels that are over 300 grams lighter then my current road wheels (basic shimano ultegra level rims and hubs) would be a whole new experience. They also look real nice...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

GamJams Reviews: The Race Wheels I Have - Stock

Race wheels? How about wheels in general?

I haven't gotten past the point of being satiated with the bikes I have enough to justify buying new wheels for them. My wheels are stock/what came with the used bike I bought...

That means Shimano Ultegra wheels and hubs on the CAAD9 and and the generic hubs laced to WTB Laser Disc's on the Jamis 29'er. My cross bike has a set of Mavic CXP's which I really like for that application (ok those I bought specifically while building the bike). Finally the Scalpel runs the specialty lefty hub up front with a Hugi DT Swiss on the rear, both laced to Mavic XC rims. Probably my nicest wheel set though like I said; they came with the bike.

I have a hard time with something as major as new wheel purchases since there seems like there is so much else I could do with that much money. Someday I'll get there, I'm just not quite there yet.

A clean drive train part Duex


Yesterday with the day of recovery I decided to be at least somewhat productive. So, I stripped down the Scalpel, soaked the chain, cleaned off the remaining dirt (some still from Snotcycle... ouch), cleaned and greased my bolts and seat post and whatnot and did a general thorough once over on the drive train. The results, once again are wonderful.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Well I know you were all worried about me over the last day or so but I DID survive. Such a major surgery is tough one but here I am, unscathed and almost ready for solid foods again! ;-) Apparently in my post-op stupor all I could talk about was coffee and wanting to see my old teeth. Who throws people's teeth away without asking first??? Lame.

No issues aside from some bleeding and pain before I could eat due to a completely numb mouth. Otherwise I feel great with super minimal swelling. One tooth was obviously the worst while the rest I can hardly feel. Nice. Glad it's over with. Now if I could just get back out on the bike/road/gym... something! Hopefully this weekend will allow for some easy road riding since the trails will likely be a mess with the melting snow and expected 60 weather on Saturday... How does this happen?!?!?!

Today however I believe I will spend the day cleaning the Scalpel's drive train. Seems like an appropriate use of a free day off.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Last Supper - Snow Ride Style

It seems appropriate. The timing and the atmosphere. Kind of like the last supper; only way better and with a LOT more snow. Since tomorrow I go under the knife it was important to have this opportunity. I am confident my disciple, Brian will continue to preach my word of fat tires and single track goodness for weeks after our "last supper".

The Scalpel luckily was not cleaned this weekend.

In all seriousness when no one showed up to work today because of all the snow and what not, Brian and I started scheming. I might have mentioned to my boss that I was leaving because I had pick up Aimee at the airport. And, I might have failed to mention the fact that she didn't land until after 6. But I left at 2:30 and met Brian at Fairland by 4.

Brian wonders what the heck he may have gotten himself into. Well, that and worries about his bike getting dirty...

We headed out in the 5 inch deep snow; plowing fresh tracks through much of the area. Nice. We did about half the first opening "warm up" loop before I realized I forgot my camera and I convinced Brian to head back to the cars so I could get it. While I was having a blast, Brian was not so much. I'd mentioned tire pressure before we started but he felt he was well set. When we got back to the cars and he was leaning towards calling it a day I convinced him to drop his tire pressure way down; I personally dropped his front tire down about a quarter of the way and we set off, this time with photos to document our efforts.

The fresh tracks were pristine! Those are all ours after riding out and back so I could get the camera from the truck.

This time Brian was much happier and we set off to make a run of our local trails. They were slow, plush and super sweet. Much of them clear of any tracks aside from the occasional rabbit or deer tracks.

Brian adds another.

The snow in the woods was absolutely beautiful and the late afternoon sun made for an amazing glow off the covered limbs, leaves and ground.

I spent half my time and energy giving Brian a hard time today.

Brian contemplates how far he is from the car and whether it's worth it to turn around now...

The sun was falling quickly but Spring could be seen at least in the later sunset (really, I promise it's almost spring!)

Brian studies the fresh powder ahead.

I study Brian's fresh track.

Brian looking possessed as he takes on a log.

This will probably remain as one of my favorite rides of the year and of the season. A completely different kind of ride that made me not feel so bad about the coming days of recovery. Yeah I know it's just wisdom teeth, but those fools are telling me 3 to 5 days of NO EXERCISE! WTF? If I'm taking off a few days of work I at least want to be able to get out and ride or run or something! But apparently that's just not allowed after such a major surgery. Be sure to pray for me on this one folks. :)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Spring cleaning... a bit early.

A clean drive train is a beautiful thing. Now, I'll start the betting on how long this lasts...

Part of my reasoning for not getting out today, at least on the bike was that; well it's clean! Finally! I've been wanting to do some work on the drive train of the CAAD9 for a while but it appears I'd lost the crescent wrench I needed for the cog removal tool. On top of that I needed a replacement pin so I could remove the chain for once and really get all the deep down embedded grit out of it. Or so I thought. After cleaning I finally realized the Shimano Ultegra (presumably) chain included a master link? Ah well; apparently it'd been a long time since I'd really gotten that chain clean!

The outer chain isn't perfect, but inside is what counts. Those still spotless teeth say it all.

I picked up the necessary things along with some heavy duty orange degreaser from Home Depot and set the chain, cogs, chain rings and chain ring bolts to soaking. Scrubbed everything down and left the chain to soak in the third tub of degreaser for a few hours. Some more scrubbing and individual link attention and I decided I had it about as good as it was gonna get.

Unfortunately even commercial grade degreaser can't do anything about derailleur scratches.

One thing that has always happened when I've tried to do a drive train overhaul is when I lube the chain afterwards the remaining grit I just didn't manage to get out would show up on the cogs and chain rings as soon as I started running the chain over them. That has to be one of the most frustrating things when it comes to cleaning a bike. Today, that didn't happen. It seems that extra soak time did the trick.

Who knew there was writing on the pulley wheel?

I always marvel when I see someone on a bike I know is far from new with a shiny clean drive train. Apparently I just never had the patience. Next up? The rest of the frame. Well, that and the Scalpel's drive train... Now that's a REAL train wreck...

Even the spacers tell you it's a 10 speed.

Bringin it on myself

I signed my own death warrant. I think we probably all saw it coming when I opened my big mouth.

Call me a flip-flopper but tonight I'll be outside on the stoop in my inside out pj's bustin out a move this world ain't seen since I was in elementary school.

In other news I didn't get myself motivated to do any workouts today, just spent some qt with the pups out at some of the local fields. If tonight brings enough of a snowpocolypse to blow off work then I'll most certainly convince Bri to hit some of the local trails for some snow riding. Otherwise, looks like I'm done till at least next weekend.