Sunday, May 31, 2009

Winding down and resting up

No rides this week except for a 50 miler on Saturday with buddies Les, Terry and Dave with breakfast stop in Galena along the way. Leisurely pace on a beautiful day with good company and a breakfast break to boot. The only glitch was that Ben, who also set out with us, broke a shifter cable and perhaps with it lost his Ultegra shifter just as I had a few weeks ago.

The old miata held up well this time -- no flats. Just a drooping seat post that was easily remedied by borrowing a second open end wrench to crank down the seat post clamp. It's certainly slower than the Cannondale and I about sprained my index finger trying to click shift the brake lever trying to get used to the analog handle bar shifters -- but overall it worked just fine.

Earlier in the week I had made a frame, wheel set, foam sandwich of the Cannondale inside Dave's carrying case and then shipped the whole thing off via UPS for $76. Scheduled arrival date at the Holiday Express Motel in SF is Tuesday so that should give plenty of time before I arrive on Saturday.

Now the week ahead will be wrapping up loose ends here at home, getting a few last minute odds and end, laying out what I will take and packing up to fly out on a 6:00 am flight first thing Saturday.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Miles and mechanicals

"This is as good as it gets!", exclaimed Dan who was riding his first Horsey Hundred. We were rolling along black freshly paved lanes through spacious Kentucky horse farms in the freshness of this mid-May morning. This was my final tune-up century weekend before packing up the bike to ship it off to SF.

Peggy, Joe, Bill, Jim, Dan, Brad and I rolled out at 7:30 Saturday morning. By 10:00 Dan and I had reveled in 3 great 40+ mph downhills along with some good climbs back out of the gorges -- all that amidst the gorgeous KY scenery. But this century was not to be because just then my pedals froze and when I cranked down, I heard a loud crunch. I clicked out and looked down at the limply hanging, very broken and derailleur and tweaked chain. That sure ended this ride in a hurry.

After a rather lengthy back of a pick-up SAG experience which involved 2 injured riders (very grateful to not have been among those!) and 3 more bikes, Marcia met me in Georgetown and we headed to Lexington to see about getting the 10 speed Ultegra derailleur replaced. Scheller's bike shop in Lexington gave me preferential treatment getting me in and out in 30 minutes. Scheller's very expert mechanic installed their last Ultegra 10 speed derailleur, replaced both shifter cables, put on a new chain and finally adjusting both shifters perfectly. He told me he NEVER sees broken derailleurs without bent backing plates -- but mine had remained in tact for which I was very thankful because I would have had to order one from Cannondale. As it was, hopes for a Sunday ride were still whole.

And Sunday morning did come with clear skies and 70 degrees. I left the Econo Lodge before 7:00 am and rode east from there to join the 70 mile route a couple of miles east of Georgetown. By leaving early to finish before noon checkout, I rode solo for the 30 miles leading to the lunch stop where the crew was just unloading boxes and mixing up Gatorade jugs. They graciously made allowances to get what I wanted so I could get rolling again. I did stop to take pictures (click here) and at one of those stops the only two riders I saw at all on the 70 mile section passed me by. When I rolled back into the Econo Lodge, I had 68+ miles and barely made it before our noon checkout. A quick shower and we were soon heading up I75 back to Columbus. Good final test for bike and body.

The first part of the week was strenuous, but not all of it due to riding. Sunday afternoon buddies Greg, Kevin and I did a fast (19+ mph) 50 mile loop to Ostrander. Monday, Dan and I did an 18 mph 50 mile loop through Powell and Galena. Tuesday was a work day unlike one I've had in quite some time. Turning over a good sized plot of ground with many willow root remnants to be extracted, turning over and mulching beds, trimming trees and removing two very large pine stumps. So, by Wednesday evening I wondering if a bike ride would help or further aggravate a very sore back and tired body. Well, it did help loosen up the body and it was fun getting out with the Wednesday group, but fast and hard it was not.

Total for the week - Sunday to Saturday was 180 miles with another 68 to start off the new week. And now the bike needs to be packed for shipping to SF. I think I have settled on borrowing a bike box and shipping that out and then back. Getting pretty close!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shifter salad

The shifter saga is hopefully past with today's installation. Check out some of the parts we got off the old one without getting close to disassembling the whole thing. The new one I ordered arrived yesterday and Terry came over this morning to help me install it. We soon had it shifting smooth as silk into all the right gears after learning from Dave how to do that. Then the new bar tape went on after watching a "how to" video online and so the trusty Cannondale is ready to roll again all decked out for the big trip.

No miles at all this past week between the broken bike, the weather, and fixing all kinds of stuff on the back up bikes. Hopefully that will all change this week as the weather forecast looks great for the next few days and I have Sunday afternoon ride planned for tomorrow and maybe a Monday mid-day loop. Hopefully we'll get Wednesday in after the past two were rained out. Total training miles are right around 1300 with prospects for perhaps 300 more including the Horsey.

Other preparations are coming along as well. I have a few more odds and ends to round up and make sure I have all the bases covered at the C.R.A.C.K. House and here at home. Under three weeks and counting!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Training & travail

This was the biggest training week and will likely remain that as I got 4 rides in 8 days including the back to back TOSRV centuries a solo 50 miler over my training course for a personal best 18+ mph average and a 56 miler with my brother-in-law, Les. Sunday to Sunday totaled 325 miles. I felt strong finishing Saturdays century, averaging 17+ into the wind with my buddy Dave Mondiek who rode with me. Sunday we averaged about the same, again into a pretty stiff wind the whole way back. I had an extra 12 miles or so to get home from downtown since I had ridden directly downtown on Saturday and was really glad when I finally turned into the driveway.

I did get a good reality check on the way back from Portsmouth when I chatted with Lisa about x-country trips. At one point she casually mentioned that she had done a X-contry trip from San Diego to Savannah some years ago. When I asked how long that trip lasted her answer floored me. Two weeks, she said! Wow! That translates to 200 miles per day on average. What an inspiration.

It was also a week of bike prepping. Monday afternoon both tires came off and were replaced with new heavier, flat resistent ones. Then I went over to buddy Dave's to change the rear cassette and chain, lube the pawls, check over cables and retape the bars under his expert instruction. Dave is such a great mentor for biking and for wrenching as he shared his chain changing techniques. I was able to get through the chain, cassette and lube without incident. Then, while readjusting the shifting to the new cassette, the shifting cable broke right at the right shifter and the cable end fell into the Ultegra mechanism. We spent the next two hours trying to find and extract it -- to no avail. The bike shop guy the next day took the shifter apart further but also to no avail. The mechanism's complexity is to a bike what an automatic transmission is to an automobile in complexity and expense. I did find the shifter on the internet and bought it with delivery expected in about one week. That will be cutting it pretty close to ride the Horsey Hundred, my last big ride before heading out.

Meanwhile, I consoled myself by fixing what was in my power to fix. Somehow that was cathartic in the face of this obstacle. One of these is a very nice older 7 speed bike. I tested rode it home from dropping off my car for repairs, but that only made me long for my trusty Cannondale all the more. Cranking it up to 18 mph was a LOT of work that would have gotten me 2-4 miles more on the Cannondale. Separation will heighten my appreciation when it's back in operation.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Keep on keeping on

This week's riding was a mixed bag of long and hard, short and fast and medium and moderate.

Monday morning I dropped the Volvo off at the shop. All sorts of stuff to fix on a 14 year old vehicle with 155K miles. The bright spot was getting to unload my bike on a glorious sunny morning and ride 10 miles north with a hefty tailwind. Toward the end of the Olentangy bike path, I met my buddy Dan to head off wherever the road took us. Dan and I are well matched and so we chatted until we turned south-west. That's when we started drafting into a stiff wind. The Subway in Marysville looked inviting at lunchtime and when we'd eaten, we headed southeast to Plain City leaning right to keep from being blown into oncoming traffic. We could add some speed by exchanging positions every 1/2 mile with the trailer tucked in behind the leader's left hip pocket. We finished past Glacier ridge, Jerome and through Powell back to Worthington Hills with a reasonable 17+mph average for 80 miles.

By Wednesday evening the wind had died down to 5mph; just enough to dry the roads by our 5:15 ride time. It was a beautiful evening for biking and we took advantage of it doing 32 hustling miles at 19+ mph. Some of the Wednesday group below before rolling out.

Today's ride was a more leisurely recovery ride with my very good buddy, Terry. We left mid morning, stopped for lunch in Galena and then returned by mid afternoon completing 45 miles altogether. Week's total was a bit over 150 miles. Not great but will have to do.