Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gam Jams Review - Shoes - Northwave and Pearl Izumi

This one will be a big deal. I'm sure that unlike floor pumps, everyone has an opinion on cycling shoes. I'm not terribly well versed in the options out there as I've only owned one pair or road shoes and two pairs of mountain bike shoes but for what it's worth here are my thoughts.

My road shoes are your very basic Northwave Vertigo's I got at Performance on sale for around $80. Price was key here as I knew next to nothing about cycling shoes in general much less road shoes. They were on the small side but with the thinner summer socks I wear they were just about right and down from something like $140 I figured I couldn't pass on the deal.

Been riding them now for I guess two and a half to three years. They're mostly fine though I believe the cleat may be in the wrong position on them since during longer rides my feet will begin to go numb. Part of this is likely also the smaller size of the shoe; not necessarily uncomfortably tight normally but after a couple of hours of jamming my foot down in them they don't feel great. Otherwise these shoes are pretty good as an entry level road shoe. Those problems (all more my fault then the shoe) aside they could be stiffer in the sole and I'd prefer the buckle clasp over the Velcro, but for the shoe I own that I got for a good deal... I won't complain much more.

My current mt shoes are Northwave Chameleon's with clasp. Much stiffer then anything I've used before with the upper strap clasp. Love these shoes, though they run a half size large so order down. $85 with shipping from

My previous pair that are now my commuters are 3+ year old Pearl Izumi Vegabonds. Probably cost $65 new from REI. Nothing special and certainly not nearly as stiff as the Northwaves but I found them extremely comfortable. So much so that I'd wear them out to bars with friends when I'd ride there and completely forget about them. I was also known to be still wearing them come lunch time after biking to work. After well over three years of use, mainy days of wet commuting, muddy dirty mountain bike rides and hours upon hours of regular use as shoes, these things are still holding together. The Velcro straps have worn down significantly are beginning to show signs of failure, but until that day comes these will remain my basic commuter shoes that I forget to change out of when I get to work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let the season begin!

Was getting pretty excited for Lodi this weekend. Definitely ready for a real race (not really counting Snotcycle on this one). Really hoping the weather holds out so this doesn't turn into a dreadful race.

Feeling pretty good overall. Did a couple laps at Fountain Head Saturday with teammate Vince and Darren, Alex and Eric who will be riding single speed. Aside from the nasty heat felt pretty good. Last night the Rosie night ride confirmed that my new Light and Motion Stella 200N will do the job for my night lap. I may not be able to maintain my pace from day light hours though I likely wouldn't be doing that anyway towards the end of the race.

A bit excited and anxious at the same time that Aimee will be joining me for the over night event. Could be a total disaster (ie complete boredom and hatred of all things mtb racing) or could make for a really fun weekend. Here's hoping for the latter. Though if it continues this rain there may be a suggestion I suffer alone and without putting Aims through the misery of two wet and muddy dogs to go along with a tired wet and muddy boy friend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Du not feel like making that drive after all

Ok, made the choice. I finally put some responsible thought into the decision and came up with my final decidion. $85 in fees + 4+ hours of driving + early wake up time equal no Duathlon Championship race for me.

Instead I'll be joining Darren, Alex and whoever else for 3 laps at Fountain Head. Hopefully I can also get some maintenance work in on the bike before next weekend's 12 Hours of Lodi Farms. Looking forward to that one big time racing coed with Ilana and Vince.

So far the rest of the season confirmed:

12 Hours of Lodi Farms
24 Hours of Big Bear
12 Hours of Cranky Monkey
Pittsburgh Tri
Nation's Triathlon

And likely:

Wednesday's at Wakefield Series
X-Terra Off Road Tri at Rocky Gap State Park
Cranky Monkey Fountain Head
Cranky Monkey Quantico
EX2 Day of Endurance
Possibly some of the Fall Back Yard Burn Races
Hopefully some cross races on a fixed cross bike...

Looks like a pretty reasonable season to me...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How much damage could it Du?

I'm having a ridiculously hard time trying to decide whether or not to try my hand at the Off Road Duathlon Championship Saturday in Richmond, VA. On one hand it's 2 hours away in Richmond, VA and I haven't been specifically training for it, nor have I exactly tapered for it (today I ran at lunch and then put in 8 moderate mountain bike miles with Brian after work). I also don't have a good pair of trail runners and my two pairs of running shoes currently in use are somewhat less then stellar on technical terrain...

On the other hand, I've been consistantly running since the build up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I've been riding and feeling really good on the mountain bike a bit lately and don't feel like I'd be at any big disadvantage there, I've got tomorrow to rest and well, shoes are shoes right? Considering next weekend I'm doing a 12 hour race I better be good to go on the mountain bike right?

Plus this is the National Championship Race, something I've never done, nor have I really ever considered doing before. It'd be pretty cool to see where I stack up against the competition on this too; so long as I don't get completely trampled to the ground and humbled beyond repair. I've got to feel at least somewhat good about myself going into next weekends' race...

So, I have 1 day to decide. If I do go, I'll get some cool swag... though I don't think I can let myself be swayed by that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Congratulations are in order!

No, not to my teammates for their stellar performances at the Leesburg Baker's Dozen this past weekend, or the other riders there; I'm way to jealous of them having gotten in to that race to possibly congratulate them for that...

All kidding aside though, my big sis completed her final defense for her PHD and is now officially Dr. Deed, also known as Dr. J! (I called her Dede before I could say her name, Jenny when we were young and it sort of stuck). So, congratulations Dr! We are all very proud and impressed! Nice job! I wonder how long it'll take me to get promoted to Dr. Youngin...

Hey, by the way I've had this aching pain in my left shoulder the past couple of weeks... Oh wait, wrong Doctor.

In other news, Dr. Deed reports that she'll likely be spending more time riding her bike with Brian now that she has this new found free time... Yeah...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Its a big milestone

Brian and I ducked out of work early Friday and he earned his first battle scars.

In some of the inner Orange loops of the white loop (did that make sense?) there are a number of trench crossings which one right after the other which I personally didn't enjoy too much being unable to feel any flow what so ever on them. After a few times up and down I took a bypass around the last one and Brian behind me apparently decided to take it. I heard an exclaimed "Oh!" or something to that effect but figured he was just as shocked by the existence of yet another one of the crossings as I was and kept going. Ten minutes later when I pulled up and looked back he was no where to be seen... Whoops. Sorry brosef!

Like the tough guy that he is he simply brushed it off (carefully rinsed and picked out ever last piece of dirt he could find, wondering all the while if he should go to the hospital, and whining the rest of the ride about what immense pain he was in... Haha! j/k) got back on the bike and kept on riding. Another good session on a beautiful day. Brian is well on his way to collecting the kind of cuts and bruises that a mountain biker shows off with pride.

Here's to you mister "goes mountain biking runs into a tree, gets up and dusts himself off before jumping back on the bike and riding for another 2 hours" guy!

Unfortunately these scars will probably only last a month or so max, so we'll need to make sure he earns some more soon... Maybe Brian will have an urge to take on another tree in retaliation soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Floor Pumps - Park Tools PFP-3

I've got a Park PFP-3, basic floor pump. Nothing special and I've been less and less satisfied with it lately as it seems to leak more and more and take extra work to fill up my tires each time I use it. It's basic, somewhat flimsy feeling plastic design doesn't give any illusions of high quality either.

On the other hand, I own it... and it works. In no way does it's over-all cheapness deter my performance (so far) so I will not complain any more about it. It gets the job done for now. If something sturdier and with better seals becomes available at a fair price one of these days soon, a second pump would be nice since this one basically stays in my truck.

That's all I got.

A somewhat exciting and somewhat dissapointing story all in one

This article caught my eye when I recognized the player's name. Dane Randolph played football for Wilde Lake High School basically right after I graduated so I can't say I knew him though I watched a few games that he played in when home visiting from college. I'd heard he was pretty good, D-I material though I didn't pay attention to what was going on beyond that with him. Looks like that prediction turned out true and he got a full ride to play at UMD.

Now, he's a cusp NFL player. He's got the speed and size to be a big time player; but, well, he's actually a nice person. He knows that there are things in life OTHER then being a star and playing in the NFL and he cares about those things as much if not more then football. That's a sign of a good person if you ask me. No run-ins with the law (he was a criminal justice major, who actually completed his degree at that), no general douch-baggeriness and no apparent chip on his shoulder. Must be too soft for the NFL.

The consistency issue I can understand, but with the size speed and brains of a guy like Dane, seems like it'd be a bad idea to pass up a very, very close look at the guy (yeah and I'm biased for the WL alumnus).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Catching up on some trail time

This past week I finally spent some time dedicated to biking. It started on Saturday last weekend when I spent a few hours helping out with some Rosaryville trail work, though no actual riding. Tuesday I made it out for the Rosie night ride which Eric generously stuck around to lead (despite having put in at least 32 hours of trail work over the previous 4 days including all day Tuesday.

The ride was great and the new Light and Motion Stella 200N worked out perfectly for the end of the ride when we finally needed to turn the lights on. Performs way better then even the combo of the Night Rider Road Rat and performance brand 10 watt light taped to the helmet... Yeah, I don't have much to compare it too of course.

Thursday I took the day off work to get some things looked at on the truck and then went back to Rosie for some more trail work mixed with some riding. Both were great and riding a final lap after the days work was done I could tell the trail was in way better condition then before hand. Paul and Eric put in some ridiculous amounts of time out there every year and I think everyone who rides there owes them a great big thank you for such a great place to ride.

This morning I got out for a few hours of Patrol riding at Black Hill Regional Park followed by a two and a half hour ride at Schaefer Farms with Brian. It was my first time at both places and each impressed me in their own ways. Black Hill is huge with a lot going on. Very nice park with some good easier rolling single track all around the park. Schaefer on the other hand was ridiculously fun. Lots of up and downs and some incredibly twisty and windy trails. Lots of logs and other play ground equipment add plenty of fun and challenge for everyone.

I also rode both endsof the Hoyles Mill connector trail today. The end at Black Hill on patrol and Brian and I crossed over for a few miles down the trail from Schaefer. Now just to put it all together.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

CB10 - Just missed it

Brian sent me a subtle message today at the end of his post, so I suppose I'll oblige. As he says, I came in at 1:12:20; the goal was 1:10.00, so close but no cigar. I'll throw it out there that I spent my Saturday morning doing trail work out at Rosaryville and afternoon/early evening walking around DC with Aimee then Jenny and Brian so I didn't necessarily do myself any favors. Whether it was the 2+ minute difference I was looking for I don't know; I'm leaning more towards a lack of mental focus to blame.

The race was huge, probably the biggest race I've ever run (14.5k+) so that was new. The scenery was amazing and the route was a good one. Similar to things I run on a regular basis but with a bit of a different perspective. There were tons of volunteers, more then I can recall at most any race I've been in though with that many runners... To the volunteers, I second Brian's call of Thanks! You guys make it all happen!

Not sure I'll do it again next year; the size is a bit of a turn off for me. It may be a one and done kind of race. Next up on that list then is probably the Army Ten Miler.

On the other hand, Rosaryville is in spectacular shape this weekend. Hopefully the rain will miss us tomorrow and I'll manage to get out for some riding sometime this week. It's about time and I think if I don't Darren is going to come kick my @$$.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This is not an April fools joke-Those are over spent

Why can't check card theft just be an April Fools day joke? Apparently someone with a UPS online account jacked my card info and spent the day making small charges on my account. We'll see how this plays out. Hopefully I can pay mortgage tomorrow...

Otherwise, the shoulders are still sore and I still feel like I've got to pop my chest back into place a little bit. It basically just feels like a slightly misaligned spine does before someone pops it for you, but it's kind of more in my chest... Strange.

It's not holding me back too much though. My running has felt great and on Monday night I got in a decent swim at 3000 yards. I can feel the spots during swimming but it's not detracting from much. Running on the other hand things feel pretty good; looser then normal for the most part. After CB I'll probably continue ramping up the mileage.

That's right. That sexy tanned beast (aka the black guy? Damn I'm tan!) is yours truly. Cole's at stroke and Teddy is behind me in bow. Miss those days like nothing other. Miss those guys like nothing other as well.

In other news, I've managed to convince a couple of my boys from crew to do the Pittsburgh triathlon with me. These are the same two guys I did the Shamrockfest Marathon with a couple of years ago. Great people and lots of fun to hang with. Can't wait to get up there and see them! I think they'll really love the racing. They're still deciding between the sprint and Olympic but I don't see any reason they can't do the Olympic... Although considering the panic attack I had on the open water swim my first tri I can certainly understand the choice to do the sprint...

Other upcoming races, 12 Hours at Lodi Farms with a 3 man squad from DCMTB. Otherwise the slate is officially open with a number maybes and likelys in there for the season. Need to find out if Brian is planning on doing the Kinetic Sprint down at Lake Anna this year...