Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Junk Strap Gets a How-To Video

This is how I've been using it, though it wasn't purely intuitive, what with the extra strap slots in the buckle and all:

Reading through this book puts the below page in perspective, though is hilarious on its own:

Memorial day weekend coming up, JFK's bday on Sunday, Thursday night lights at the Velodrome tonight; surely you'll find something to do.

Friday, May 20, 2011

2011 Almanzo recap, one rider's view from the back

Four of us rode down to the check-in on Friday night in Charlie's RV, which we continued in down to Spring Valley a few hours later. My head was getting congested during the day, with my nose running and a constant headache, though not sure if I'm getting a sudden allergy issue or a head cold. I went to bed by 11pm or so while the others went on a walkabout.
Upon waking up on Friday Almanzo morning it was immediately clear that it was cold and raining out, though not heavily, making it tough to get out of my warm sleeping bag inside the RV. Very glad at this point that I had packed a decent rainjacket and wool helmet liner, as well as a rain helmet cover, and wool everything. I quickly packed the night before with enough clothes for three riders, not knowing the conditions until we got to the start - something like a 50-70% chance of rain forecasted a few days ahead.
I threw on two pair of Sock-Guy wool socks, a thin wool t-shirt, pulled up my wool bib knickers, a wool jersey on top of that, finished by a rain jacket. My head had the wool beanie under the helmet and cover. My fingers took just a thin pair of full-fingered Mechanix gloves, my preference for year-round riding.
Ate the high school breakfast, more to support the cause than to eat the food, I'm glad I ate, though it's still being debated whether or not there was actual food on the plate. The lunch-lady was kind enough to fill up my Camelbak, which I should have done prior to the race start, but the only stop we seemed to make on the way down was to get beer, which I was saving for finish time.
Headed outside again, I run into Chewie, who scored the mark of the beast. We discussed the upcoming Dirt Burger, which is going to be bigger and better than ever, by the sounds of it.
Here's a video Chris shot of the roll-out on turn 3. That's Hurl leading the pack into the corner, I saw him lead this left turn and didn't see him again until the finish. I show up at the 40-second mark, letting Chris know he's #1. There's already a 4:15 gap between the front and back of the pack!

Untitled from Chris Skogen on Vimeo.

To give you an idea of the racing conditions, here's a shot of Hurl (R) and four other riders at mile 20:
#AGRS riders around mile twenty @almanzo100 on Twitpic
Another shot of the leaders at the same spot:
@almanzo100 Leaders at ~Mile 20 #AGRS on Twitpic
I didn't ride great during the first 22-miles, but got a bit of a second wind up until the town of Preston at mile 40 or so. The town came up sooner than I expected, and this year I decided to take a left and venture to the market, where I figured I could top-up on enough water for the rest of the ride - there are no further towns during the remaining 60-miles of this race ride. By the way, the hospitality of the workers at the market has to be mentioned - thank you for opening your doors and floors to the mud we left behind.
Eric Leugers of Banjo Brothers took this shot of me when I arrived outside the market.
Note how I'm clean from the waist-up, my ass was dry from my fender and there was no drafting on my part up until now, hence the clean face. My legs were wet up to the mid-calf, but the wool knickers saved the day, keeping me warm and cozy. I'm also trying out contact lenses, something I haven't worn in several years - they treated me very well, with added clear safety lenses for protection.
People were dropping from the race in this town of Preston like flies, by some accounts several hundred riders called it quits here. I didn't feel great, but wasn't that bad off - I decided to keep on keeping on, before I saw Kelly Mac and Charlie, and we agreed to team up and ride together from this point out (K-Mac was my riding partner from this years Ragnarök, if you recall.)
I have no hard feelings whatsoever for the people that dropped out at this point. One of my first century attempts was back in April of 1989, where I made it about 65-miles before being pulled out by volunteers at a rest stop - it started chilly, but turned to rain, then sleet, then snow. I'm out in the middle of farm country, riding solo, wanting nothing more than to curl up on a farmhouse couch and take a permanent rest. Turns out I had hypothermia - when I walked into the rest stop there were no empty chairs - without a word from me, I was surrounded with people offering their seats, my bike was placed on the sag wagon trailer, and I quickly had something warm to drink, though chilled to the core. That was my lesson in being prepared - I was never in the Cub Scouts.
So the three of us roll out of Preston. Readers take note that K-Mac is riding her single-speed, but the freewheel was slipping, so she had to flip the wheel to fixed. At this point I didn't think she'd make it the 100-miles riding fixed, not knowing yet if I would continue on solo. However she does like to handicap herself on these rides, and usually pulls out ahead of most, historically. After just a few miles, we were all warm again and feeling much better; I knew just a few miles out of Preston we were going to go the distance.
The wind wasn't a factor up to now, but we would soon be introduced to the gravest headwind I've felt in a long time. There was a roughly 8-mile stretch around the 55-mile point that sucked the soul out of me - pushing the cranks one rotation at a time, making 7-9 miles an hour. At the end of this stretch, there was a turn, but now the wind is at our sides - easier, but not easy. The course was followed by many more soul crushing miles pushing into the wind.
We passed a few riders on bicycles I wouldn't choose to ride 100-miles on dry pavement on a clear and windless day - ride what you have, but good god man; more power to you.
Coming up to the checkpoint at mile 64 or so, three riders come up from behind like we're standing still - it's the lead riders from the Royal group, a ride that started at 7am and totaled 162-miles. So these three are 62-miles ahead of us and are riding as if they just started out. These three Royal riders yelled out their numbers while barely slowing down as the three of us dismounted to grab a few energy packs offered by the kindly volunteers.
Here's my bike at the checkpoint.
And a shot of my lower leg, note the new shoes courtesy of folks at Specialized via a brief stopover with Hurl - they fit like a glove and I couldn't recommend them more. What model are they? Hell, they're covered in dirt, I can't tell anymore than you can. (Though upon a google, it looks like they are the BG S-Works shoe.) Huge thanks to Amy for the footwear.
The three of us walked up this hill at about mile 69. It is steeper than it looks here. A pick-up truck stopped me here and a couple asked if I recall seeing a broken down tandem. Yeah, but they're several miles back and on the other side of the bridge, which you can't cross with an automobile. I wished them luck and carried on.
The rest of the day consisted of wind, gravel, more wind, hills, and some extra wind thrown in for good measure. Walked across the water crossing, it felt very good and cleaned up my legs, though the mud on my socks was not fazed by the strong current; the cuffs were solid at the end of the day. There was a bit of cheering from K-Mac at the 90-mile point. At the incline at roughly 91-miles, there was a lack of cheering - that hill downright sucked. One more hill with 5-6 miles to go and Charlie broke ahead from the two of us.
Like last year you can see the water tower with about 3-miles to go. From there the ride is over mentally, just grind down a few more times and make it to the high school.
I've never finished a race that late before - the parking lot was mostly empty and the prize tables inside were gone. I did get a few cookies after rinsing off my ride, however. [update - results posted: I came in 100th.]
Props to Sage, who rode the distance despite her friends all bailing on her and her gears unwilling to shift the last half of the ride. My gears were getting janky for sure - next time bring a small bottle of chain lube.
The course was exceptional, seriously. The rain made for packed gravel, with the occasional long stretch of single-track to ride smoothly on. Occasionally wiping the muddy grease off my handlebar mounted computer, I took note of my speed on the downhills, which didn't exceed 35 mph or so.
Next time have shoe covers and different gloves, though my digits weren't uncomfortable, just wet.
Am I doing this ride next year? Very likely, though I wouldn't mind shooting photos one of these years; there is too much beatiful scenery out there and I would love to have my SLR along one of these times.
A huge lot of photos by Craig Linder on Flickr here. Dang, he even got one of me, trying not to overheat during a dry spell, by the looks of it. One of K-Mac, and Charlie. This is a beautiful shot of Hurl - love the green and blue.
And some very impressive shots by David Gabrys.
* * * Screw it, here's a recap list gathered by Skogen - it's better than I'm gonna do. * * *
My previous list, no longer being updated:
Martin's recap here.
Don, Craig, and Zach after finishing the 162-miles at 2am.

Saturday Night - Farewell To Ben

From the OOOBS blog:
...That being said, there will be a farewell throw-down in the alley this Saturday the 21st after the shop closes. Sounds as though we’ll get a little show from the current band of local misfits, our favorite blend of Chromoly tubing. If you know what I mean. Stop on by, ride your bike, and bring your own beverages chumps, I’m moving and not going to pay for you to have a bunch of barley-pop this time. And be nice. No jerks allowed. If you can’t be nice, stay home and wallow in your own self-pity...
See you there, unless yer a jerk of course.

Ben, mechanic and wheelie extraordinaire

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday night

Tuesday night turned into this, after Andy packed his guitar away and I was getting itchy to get back and ride:
The Watchdog Sleeps at Night

Then how could anyone resist that crazy full moon rising over Riverside? Next time carry a tripod. A bit of lens flare there, don't mind it; the moon is the blurry blob on the lower right.
full moon Tuesday

Saw this a little while later, sweet. Dude said it's a 1959 Galaxy.
1959 Galaxy Cop Car

The new 1/1 dock ramp is a work of art and gorilla proof, courtesy of Rollin. Photos in the near future, stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a few from yesterday

Riding down the alley yesterday afternoon, I did a double-take upon seeing the below, neatly organized pile of pizza boxes. The boxes with address labels on them all verified the same residence. Hopefully this is more than a 2-week supply, assuming the frequency of the recycling pick-up.

Luce, Savoy, Dulono's:

Stacked pizza boxes

And if this is your helmet, it's been in my garage for a few weeks, come and get it; it's too small for my head.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photos from Wednesday

Namond rides the stairs - braap!
Namond rides the stairs

Roger Lootine on his brand new Steamroller - skid!
Roger Lootine on his spankin new ride

Jenn and SK are the reigning queen and king of skids, respectively.

I'm going down to skid town, son...
Skid Harvest

Stopped by K's pad on the way home:
after hours at Ms. K's pad

The Cykel garage is now just a distant memory, kept alive by the miracle of the t-shirt:
John, Kristin, Matt

Is Matt and Molly's baby ready to start fending for his own this weekend?
Get born, get a job!
Matt and Molly

Kevin and the moon:
Kevin with moon

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stolen Bike Alert, get on it

These photos were taken on Friday. The bike was stolen on Saturday at Chicago and Lake. Get on it.

Skids are all the rage, always have been, especially when you're high on life like SK here.

This thing is going to show up, right?

a big wet one

The Almanzo is coming up this Saturday, and by the looks of it, it's going to be a wet one.

God I hate Microsoft computers and their way of processing image files, but this is a known fact and I'll leave it at that.

So even if it's not actually raining on Saturday, the gravel will be nice and wet, not to mention the water crossing, which has a good chance of being remarkable this year.

I'm thinking of changing out the handlebars, shifters, brake levers, and adding cross levers to the Pacer; I guess I should decide and do this prior to Saturday morning. I've got the bars, new tape, and brake levers, just need to get a shifter, I'm leaning towards bar-end, though down-tube would be a nice alternate - getting back to my roots and all. Nine-speed. Looks like a stop into 1/1 is in order, if I can get past their snobbery and bad coffee, or is it java? Ah, the power of the anonymous internet complaint. That's okay, I don't give my money to Freewheel or ACF, though I don't post anonymously about it (yes, Penn and Erik's are on the list as well, though did I have to even say that?)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Your Weekly Hump-day Snowmobile Post

I'll be honest, I miss the snow, though am looking forward to the summer and all activities associated with the season. Back to the topic of snow though, I never knew until a few moments ago that driving your snowmobile up the side of a mountain to the peak was a sport.

This video of a guy driving his snowmobile up the side of a mountain to the peak contains about nine different levels of stoopid, in fact it's hard to comprehend that the guy does what he does after he reaches the top and dismounts his sled - what's a sport snowmobile weigh, 500 pounds?

If this guy had up to this event realized that momentum is the product of mass and velocity, he wouldn't have played the cowboy and attempted to lasso that bronco down. But I guess it takes a certain type of personality to even be in this sort of situation in the first place.

I've got sunburned calves from yesterday's ride. Damn.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama's dead, baby. Osama's dead.

Now could we possibly let this monumental event pass us by without making the most of it; something like, oh I don't know, have one of us ride around on a 4-wheeler, waving the Old Glory, and oh hell, why not shoot off a few rounds while at it?

Good loard I hope you said no.

Hats off to you, fellow patriot, hats off.

And if you want to hear a hell of a clearly composed and thoughful argument for or against gay marriage, take a look/listen to Representative Steve Simon (DFL Hopkins/St. Louis Park); I wish I could vote for you. Get it quick before it's blocked by the evil-doers.

Meanwhile, I watched the Daily Show from last night just a few minutes ago, and I have this unexpected urge to go buy Rogaine.

That's it, I'm out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Traffic Related Fatalities in the US, 1994-2009

I've mentioned this at least a couple of times in the past, but a tweet from @vabike reminded me that I need to look at the numbers again. Not that I relate traffic deaths to terrorism, but after seeing the below numbers you'd think we'd react more appropriately, say following the rules of the road for instance.

The figure below shows data, however grim, taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), highlighting fatalities caused by motor vehicles between 1994-2009.

Pardon my lack of plotting etiquette; that's number of fatalities on the ordinate with year on the abscissa.

One way to look at this is that there have been 411,574 deaths in the past 10-years due to motor vehicles. According to the latest census data, the population of Minneapolis is 382,578. So every 9-10 years or so the United States kills off the equivalent of the population of the city of Minneapolis with running errands and getting to and from work. Data is not further broken down to show how many of the now deceased individuals were drunk, texting, having sex, or road raging at the time of their 'accident,' but surely they're included in the totals.

The number of bicycle related deaths in a single year, by the way, ranges from 629 in 2003 to 833 back in 1995; bicyclists account for between 1.5-2% of all traffic related deaths, at least in the US, and during the past 16-years or so with 2010 excluded as the data is not yet available.

One can note the decline in the past few years, though how much of that can be due to the Great Recession we're experiencing I can only presume - someone should link an article, I know I've read one in recent past but my memory is fading as I grow older.