Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pistol Grip Pump

Today is the first day of my longest vacation (three weeks!) since 2002 when I went to Europe. I started my time off right with a nice ride through the hills.

The weather was cool and clear. A little smog hung over the valley, which is the downside of the high pressure system sitting over us.

Don't you hate it when birds crap on your car? I saw this guy on Deer Valley Road. Peafowl are common around here.

Towards the end of my ride I found this Crosman 760 Pumpmaster in the road. It must have fallen off of someone's vehicle. I picked it up, pumped it a few times, chambered a BB, and it fired just fine. I stuck what was left of the stock in my jersey pocket and ran the barrel up through the neck of my vest for the ride home.

I bought a new stock on eBay for $12 shipped, so it was a nice find for me. I have been wanting a cheap airgun for periodic critter problems.

I ended up with 32 miles and over 3,000 feet of climbing. It was a nice start to what I hope will be a long and relaxing vacation.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday SS

In the good old days I had every Wednesday off. Now it's every other Wednesday. This was a move instituted by management a couple years ago when the State of California was furloughing us three days per month. The logic was we didn't have enough coverage with all the time off. Now the furloughs are gone, but our old schedules have not returned. Funny how that works.

After enduring my telework shift today, I made it out for a quick ride. Once again I took the single speed. Even though the route I chose was mostly road, there is enough dirt to make it OK.

The ride was only 15 miles, but with 1200 feet of climbing—enough to max my heart rate a number of times.

The last couple of rides have been on the Cozumel Project bike. I am trying to perfect the positioning and dial it in so I can decide if it's worthy of becoming the travel bike. Here's how it looked today:

Changes include a longer fork to get the bars higher, wider bars and a shorter stem. It feels OK, but the bars could be a touch higher. I really wonder if I should try to find a larger frame.


Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day Ride

We made it out for a local ride today. The weather was great—63 and sunny. Sometimes living in California is OK.

Even though we were riding on the road, I grabbed a single speed just for grins. It really wasn't that bad. Due to the up and down nature of the area, I was either grinding or coasting. There just isn't anything flat.

Here's Jen at the top of a tough climb that really hurt me. The snow-topped Sierras looked much better in person.

Anyway, it was a nice way to end a three-day weekend. We earned our pizza and beer tonight.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

First Commute

Yesterday I rode home from work for the first time this year. I usually don't get the opportunity to make the long ride home until daylight savings hits, but yesterday I was able to leave work early. The first one is always tough mentally. Three-plus hours in the cold isn't always fun.

I took some of the dirt trails on the way. It was a lot muddier than I anticipated since it hadn't rained in nine days. Still fun, though, and better than dealing with cars. Anyway, you can see the route here.

I took a couple of lousy cell phone pics. Folsom Lake is really, really low right now.

The trail through Serrano.

I rode fairly well and finished strong up the last few hills. Today I am a little sore and stiff, but I think that's more from Thursday's kettle bell workout than the ride home.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fargo Upgrades

For the last few years I have had saddle-related issues after long rides. Specifically, the issue is chafing. This was never an issue when I was younger. I could spend 10 hours in the saddle no problem. Now . . . it's a problem. Aging is so awesome.

I have tried different saddles, shorts and creams, all with varying levels of success. Still, I have fallen short of perfection.

Right around Christmas I saw this ad from Selle Anatomica. I have heard guys rave about these saddles for years, but at $189 retail, I never had much interest. But for under a hundred bucks I was willing to listen.

I went to the web site and read what they had to say. The most intriguing claim was this:
"The two sides of your body move independently. There's no reason your saddle shouldn't move with them. The patented slot is the most important part of the suspended leather design. It supports your weight and moves with you. Leather is the only material that can provide ergonomic surface support and anatomic relief."
Seemed pretty logical. I mean, my ass is split right down the middle, right? I thought I would give this weird looking saddle a try.

Although a brown or black one may have matched the bike better, I went ahead with the red because it looked really cool in the ad. There is a bit of red in the Fargo decals, so it isn't too much of a stretch. I added a new Salsa seat clamp and a Thomson post just for grins.

I went for an hour-long ride today, and initially the saddle didn't feel great. I was sliding around and uncomfortable. I was questioning my purchase.

Towards the end of the ride the leather began to stretch, and it became more comfortable. You can see in the picture above that the saddle now has a dip in the middle, which is good. I wasn't sliding around as much as the saddle conformed to my body.

Supposedly it takes some miles to break these saddles in, so hopefully it will continue to become more comfortable as time goes on.


Monday, January 14, 2013

The Bunt Sign

Some years back, while eating dinner on a Friday night, my young son asked if we could go to the park in the morning. “No, I have to do my long ride tomorrow,” I answered.

My wife lifted her head, made eye contact, and brushed the figurative bill of her ballcap—the bunt sign. I acknowledged that I received the sign and stepped back into the batter’s box, ready to lay down the sacrifice. “But I guess I can go riding on Sunday,” I added.

Before the cycling gods cursed my legs, dooming me to a career of racing mediocrity, I was a baseball player. A perennial minor league star, I played for seven long years. My diminutive size made it difficult to promote to the majors, and consequently I played with a big chip on my shoulder. Never was this more evident than when the coach gave me the bunt sign. To put it bluntly, the bunt sign pissed me off. To me this was the coach saying, “You’re too damn small to drive the run in.”

I rarely bunted.

At first I would simply ignore the sign and swing away, usually with good results. Anger has always improved my focus. I remember one instance in particular when the game was tied in the last inning, with one out and a man on first. The smart play was to bunt that runner over, which was exactly what the coach asked me to do. However, I ignored the sign. I swung away and lined a double into the left-center gap, driving in the winning run. While the team rushed to home plate for the celebration, I was rounding second knowing my name would be in the newspaper. As I trotted toward the coach at third base, he asked me if I had received the bunt sign. “Yeah, I saw it,” I replied. He benched me for the next game.

After that I became smarter about being selfish. I would play dumb if asked about seeing the sign. I would even miss a couple attempted bunts so the coach would remove the bunt sign with two strikes. Whatever it took. I just wanted to swing the bat and get my hits. You didn’t get your name in the local paper for bunting.

Mountain bike racing came just as my frustration with team sports was peaking. Racing was freedom to freelance, a lone man against hundreds, depending on no one and nobody depending on me.

They say that to excel at bike racing requires great sacrifice. This is true, but not in a noble sense. This is not a sacrifice of yourself for others, but really a sacrifice of others for yourself. The hours spent on the bike can be lonesome, of course, but those lonely miles cannot be called true sacrifice. While you might miss your family and friends, you are trading time with them for individual glory. What some might see as “dedication to your sport” is nothing more than selfishness. Not surprisingly, the supremely self-centered are often the ones who stand upon the center step of the podium.

At some point most bike racers have to grow up. When you start a family, you are essentially playing team sports again. Having teammates is strange at first and difficult to get used to. At times it feels as if every look to the third base coach reveals yet another bunt sign.

In time bunting becomes second nature, and pretty soon you are dropping them down without even looking at the third base coach. You become accustomed to situational hitting and taking one for the team.

Every once in a while, though, the third base coach gives a tug to the sleeve—the sign to swing away. You dig in and hope for a fastball middle-in. On those rare occasions when you connect and send the ball flying over the wall, it’s nice to round third and see your teammates waiting for you at home plate.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Snow Time

I got out for a little ride yesterday in Tahoe. Unlike our New Year's visit last year, when I rode in dry sandy conditions, this year there was snow. A lot of snow.

The depth was over two feet in most places, but the snowshoers had packed it down enough to ride on.

The problem with my local riding is the lack of flat ground. This makes for great riding in the summer, but it's tough going in the snow. I climbed for about a mile until I called it quits. The snow was just a bit too deep to climb an incline that steep.

I wanted to go out again today, but I got a little wrapped up in celebrating last night. Consequently, I had a bit too much beer, and I also forgot to wash my cold-weather riding clothes. Maybe tomorrow.

Happy New Year.