Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Opus Crit- Week Two

This evening it was 40 degrees and light rain... some of it was maybe freezing. Another Tues. night crit. I normally don't mind rain, but it was cold cold.

Things started off on the wrong foot when I made it home from work and realized I'd left my checkbook in my office- with my racing license. I found an old license and printed off an info page from their website. I was running a bit late, and traffic was a disaster.

There was a huge line at registration. As I waited, standing in the 40 degree windy rainy weather, I contemplated leaving. My hands and ears were cold, and I was still in civilian clothing. If I left now, someone might see me... I better stick around and pray they won't accept last year's license.

By the time I registered, they didn't even ask to look at my license. Usually they ask to see it twice- once for the money, twice to sign up for the individual race(s). That was too easy. I took my time getting ready, contemplating what to do for a warm up. At least the rain let up. I rode around a bit and headed over to the starting area.

As we were waiting for the first race to finish, a teammate was asked about last year's wreck, and he went into excruciating detail about breaking his pelvis on this same course- exactly a year to the date if I remember correctly. I didn't need to be hearing that, so I rode around a bit more.

Our race finally was ready to start. Only 19 of us were stupid enough to show up. We took a slow practice lap and line up. When we started, we took a very slow first lap- like people were discussing what they did over the weekend- slow. The wind blew right through me. I regretted not using glove liners. The second lap perked up a bit to launch into the third, which was a points lap. A few sprinters shot off the front for the points. Knowing this course, they'll wait up for us on the other side, which they did. By this point, my fingers weren't quite functioning right, and shifting became a matter of will. I couldn't really see what was going on, and there was some discussion whether there were still two guys off the front. We lapped a few guys, then late in the race encountered two guys riding off to the right. I was confused- not that it really mattered. The finish was uneventful- as only the top three places counted. I collected my jacket and headed to my car, chilled to the bone.

I decided that I don't mind cold, and I don't mind rain- but I do not like cold rain.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Searching for another old frame

Today has been a strange day: six hours of taking a series of tests of a federal job with only one fifteen minute break. Perhaps they were testing the effects of hypoglycemia on potential employees. Actually the tests were very interesting, and I'd be happy to share details if I weren't sworn to secrecy.

After the test I returned home to a chilly wind, and took a bit of a bike ride to scrounge for an old frameset for my wife, who has become afflicted with the sudden interest to commute 40 miles round-trip to work. I offered to build her a single speed to preserve her nice road bike from the extra wear and tear.

I rode to Carlson's Cyclery, where earlier this spring I picked up a nice Schwinn Prologue frameset on the cheap (see below). Oddly, they had another Prologue in the same size as mine, with the cryptic tag, "Odd Geometry." The frame was only $49. I asked what he meant by odd size (and I'm thinking the paint is beautiful). He pulled it down and compared it to a standard frame, and immediately I could see it was a TT frame- of the funny bike style- and it had no fork. Oh well-- at least my wife will appreciate that I didn't buy yet another bargain that I didn't really need. Oh, I almost forgot: they had nothing in her size.

Scrounging is half the fun.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Tale of the Prologue Conversion

I purchased this frame a few months ago when I relegated the no-name bike to rain bike/night rider duty.



Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Opus Crit- Week One

We had the first of a series of crits Tuesday night- it is more or less a training series, although licenses are required to race. It is a points series that goes only 3 deep- with points on laps 3, 6 and double points for the finish (should be lap 12). Our team, such that it was after so many people upgraded last year, was three of us wearing the same jerseys introducing ourselves prior to the start.

Anyway, it is a fast circular office park course, for the most part- nothing technical about it, except something of a bottleneck as two lanes merge into one. The race began quite fast, especially for the first of the season. A chunk of the field wasn't seen again after the start. Usually they have a lumbering start- but not this time. I'm feeling pretty good and decide to make a play for some points on the third lap, so I move up on the last turn, catch a lot of wind as all hell breaks loose and everyone starts sprinting like crazy weaving all over the place. I knew right away that I was clearly out of my depth against guys whose thighs were as big as my waist and didn't come close to any points.

Things settled down and I quickly recovered and I just hung in for a mid-pack pointless (no pun) finish. A few guys tried to break away during the race, but it was an exercise in futility.

I raced this series last year, and I felt stronger and better the other night than any time last season- which is progress. But I am convinced there is no hope for a non-sprinter in a race like this. I'd like to keep things interesting. As is, this is decent interval training, and it least it stopped raining.

I'm the guy in the red shorts.... on the right.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mystery Bike

This is my commuter/rain bike/night bike... it rides like a Cadillac.

I found the frame already painted, so it is something of a mystery bike. The rear and fork appear to be chromed, and it has very nice dropouts. The rear is spaced at 126, so it can't be too old. It is a faily refined frame, and it offers a plush ride. I'd love to know what it really is.

I didn't want to get too carried away, as this is my winter commuter. It has an AC seatpost, Deda Murex stem will El Toro bullhorns, a nice Campy headset and hubs, and mismatched Ambrosio and FIR rims. I'm riding with Armadillos for the winter. They ride like garden hoses, but who wants to change a flat in this weather? It is also set up for winter gearing as a 39 X 16. The matching rim with a 14 is taking the winter off. I'll throw a 42 or 44 on when it warms up a bit. The brake is 105 with a no-name lever.

I'm running full fenders and lights on this bike. I find that it really extends the riding season. No comments on the reversed front wheel please- the dish is such that it fits the fender better this way. The Eggbeaters are nice in the snow, otherwise I usually run road pedals. I have another fixed gear that is much more minimalist, but it was too wet to drag it outside for a photo, and a basement mugshot just won't do it justice.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

To Commute or Not Commute, That is the Question

I can't believe I'm still driving to work. I'm really struggling with this. I really miss biking to work- the 40-mile round trip always clears my head, plus I actually bike with a purpose. Unfortunately, racing season is upon me, and I want to have fresh legs and follow some semblence of a structured program. Last fall I managed to put in a few thousand miles riding to work. Trouble is, racing is even more addicting than commuting. Riding to work will have to wait.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Back from Paris

Paris was incredible. My wife and I have both been to Paris, but not together. It was the perfect getaway. We didn't feel the pressure to see everything, and I'm sure we will return soon. Beautiful weather. It was strange traveling to Europe and NOT seeing my wife's family. On the other hand, it was wonderful taking a trip together, with no one else.

I really don't know how people bike in this city. It isn't particularly "bike friendly." I didn't see any fixed gear bikes, and the single speeders looked like they had coaster brakes. The road bikes were usually ridden by a commuter in jeans, or an old guy wearing a pro jersey about three sizes too small. Or maybe I kept seeing the same old road guy?

Time to saddle up the bike and ramp up some intervals. Vacation is over!

A proper Parisian commuter.

A proper Parisian commuter bike.

A street at night. Obviously.