Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Since I went for pretty much the whole summer without any posting, I felt that I owed it to both my readers to say what I've been up to:

The big news - On July 20, I was laid off. Another casualty of the downturn in the automotive industry. On the bright side, I had a month to spend with Brandy before she went back to work. I've been using the time to get caught up on projects, try to find other employment (jobs in Engineering are hard to come by these days), and of course riding a lot.

Lumberjack 100 came and went: I finished in just over 9 hours, shaving 18 minutes off my time from last year. My placing was 12th in the Singlespeed class. Overall I don't think I ran as solid as a race this year. Some inattention to my electrolytes had me showing some mild cramps about 40 miles in. By eating a couple bananas I was able to knock the cramps back... unfortunately the damage had been done and I was lacking any climbing power for the second half of the race.

PALM followed immediately on the heels of Lumberjack, as in Lumberjack was on June 20, and we started pedaling on PALM on June 21. This led to some logistical "fun" for me. On the 20th, Brandy and her brother Rocky took bikes and gear to the endpoint for PALM, and took the bus over to the start. This was consistant with what we typically do for PALM. I did Lumberjack, and afterwards drove myself and my friend Jon down to the start of PALM. Thankfully PALM started this year in Whitehall, which was just over an hour from Lumberjack.
Brandy and I rode our separate bikes for this, as she wanted to prove to herself that she could do the whole week (with not much training I might add). Also, last year we found that on the tandem, we'd quickly pull away from Rocky.
PALM also happened to be on the hottest week of the summer, with temperatures in the low-mid 90s.

I haven't been doing much racing this year. My races so far consist of one Lake Orion spring race, the adventure race, Lumberjack, Big M, the race at the Michigan Bike Festival, Pain Haven, and the Ithaca GP of Cyclocross.
At Big M, I pretty much came out flat. I think for that race I was not fully hydrated at the start. I decided to race against the expert gearies in my age group, finishing 7th of 9. The good news was that I got faster as the race went on.
The race at the Michigan Bike Festival was unique, utilizing the ski trails at Hartwick Pines, singletrack at Hanson Hills, and roughly 9 miles of bike path connecting them. I basically ran out of gas with less than a mile left (next time I need to listen to TMB and eat more than a Clif bar for breakfast). I didn't realize it at the time, but I let the eventual 4th and 5th place guys past me with < 1 mile left, giving me a 6th place finish out of 7.

Overall, the Michigan Bike Festival was a great time. Attendance was on the low side, but I knew a lot of the people there. Hopefully next year, more people from southern Michigan make the trek up to Grayling for this.

Over the past couple months I've been running more than ever before. No real reason why. I've also had a couple big mileage months on the bike.

Not much more to say. Next up is a couple Cyclocross races, followed by Iceman.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

High Country Pathway

After a morning career fair in Marlette, I proceeded to drive north. My usual stop at Big Buck netted me a growler of IPA and a growler of Old Ale... alas, they were out of Docs ESB. Through the rain and drizzle I then drove on to Clear Lake State Park.
The drizzle let up enough for me to quickly set up camp. As nobody else was in the group site, I walked over to the modern campground where Rick and Chris were just setting up. I hung out with them for a while, before making my way back over to the group site. Tom and Joe had arrived, and Dan would arrive shortly later.
We had dinner, and sat around the fire sharing stories. We also elected to do the ride without spotting cars (everyone there was an HCP veteran), and also decided to put off riding until 11am (we usually get rolling by 10).

As usual, we caravaned up to Osmun Road, got ready, and did the group photo thing.

From Left: Joe, Chris, Dan, Myself, Rick, Al, Tom
*photo courtesy of Tom Landry

I was having fun riding the wet roots that greeted us right off the start. Quickly I found myself leading the pack, with Dan right on my wheel. We pulled ahead of the rest of the group; the pace was good but comfortably maintainable. After a bobble on a boardwalk, Dan took the lead. Dan and I both had the same thoughts: keep stops to a minimum so we wouldn't cool off and have our legs tighten up.
Things warmed up a bit, and at Pine Grove we stopped to shed our outer layers.
Boardwalks that would often be ridden (some even by me) were best walked in the wet conditions. Walking them was even trecherous: Dan "surfed" on his feet for a good few yards on one.
We stopped briefly at the DNR office to top off our water, and pushed on. Just past Tubbs Creek, it started to drizzle. We put on our raincoats, and rode on. A half hour later the rain stopped, and off came the raincoats. Things proceeded without incident until we were coming down off Rattlesnake Hill. Dan's rear brake went out! We (him carefully) rode to the road crossing at the base of Rattlesnake Hill. Here the problem was diagnosed as a broken cable. There was just enough cable where, with some adjustment of the pads, I was able to get him a little bit of rear stopping power. The alternative was to bail early onto dirt roads.
We rolled into the campground through the "Day Use" area, shaving 4 miles of trail off the ride (commonly done when riding the Fun 50). Our rolling time was 5 1/2 hours, with an extra 45 minutes worth of stops thrown in.

The rest of the crew had quite an adventure: an hour to fight with a flat tire, photo ops, and riding the last hour by moonlight. We picked up the cars from Osmun Road, and enjoyed a few beverages around the fire.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Newest Bike Build

Thanks goes to Ben for the frame, wheels, and fork.

Build is as follows:

Frame: Unknown make. Based on a few details such as the Esge brake bridge and the seatpost diameter, I’m guessing mid ‘70s European made (Germany or Austria) department store bike (Free Spirit was a common example). Tubing is likely gas-pipe.

Frame cold set to 126 mm spacing

Wheels: Front is a Richey, rear is a Campy rim with unknown hub

Fork: Shimano

Crankset: Old Raleigh in a spinneriffic 170 mm length; 42t chainring

Cog: 16t cheap BMX cog (need to get a 14t)

Brakes: Shimano 600

Homemade drop hanger for the rear brake. Front brake adjustment slots lengthened to get the pads low enough (only needed ~2mm on the front)

Levers: Old skool Weinmann – new Cane Creek hoods trimmed to fit

Tires: Cheep Serfas 700x25. I think there may be a TPI or 2 somewhere in them ;)

Tape: Bontrager (my first crack at taping road bars)

Saddle: Selle Italia (Ti rails even – it spent a couple seasons on the Q)

Seatpost: unknown