Saturday, June 23, 2012

spoken from my eternally chapped lips

I got to spend ten days in the high altitude Coloradan mountains the past week. A great host family who my dad knew from the old days took us in and let them join their family riding "bandit" during RidetheRockies. Thank you so much Morrissey's!
Riding without being registered definitely had its perks and was far cheaper. We weren't the only party doing it though as I saw lots of bikes without numbers all week. Most people were just doing some days while we did all but the final day of the official RidetheRockies six day tour.
Our friends live in North Boulder so we rented a car and drove four hours south to start the ride in Crested Butte. The actual day one of RTR started in Gunnison, about 27 miles south of our hotel, so the first day would be a big day of riding.
First night sleeping at 9,898ft!
We would be riding the rest of the week back north weaving through and over mountains so we dropped off that car. We only had one vehicle for 17 people the rest of the week but it was a 14-passenger van that hauled all our bags so I would say it worked out pretty nicely.  
Day 1:
Crested Butte to Gunnison to Hotchkiss
111 miles at close to 7 hours of bikin'

We started off as a pretty big group around 8am and made good work of pace-lining but were derailed by I think multiple flats. Either way, we got to Gunnison around 10am and everyone and thing was gone. Most stores were already closed and all the tents the officially riders stayed in had been bagged and hauled away. The town would have seemed pretty nice but it was 4-lane roads of ghost town so we quickly grabbed some breakfast and headed out into a phat headwind. A headwind for the next 84 miles. 
I complain about headwinds on the way home from Hinckley to my dad (~8.4 miles from home) so I'm sure even my dad was not to thrilled about riding with me for the next five hours. Luckily he had Julie to talk to. I tried to keep to myself well enough though. His goal was to catch someone. Anyone. It took 38 miles and a whole bunch of steady pace-lining before we saw any sign of RTR people when we started picking off bonked-what-have-i-signed-up-for folks. 

"I'm from New York City. My friends from Colorado told me this ride was flat today."

 I was also under the impression this was an easy day I told her. One category four climb and another category three climb seemed pretty manageable for this sea-leveler. But the day still lasted forever due to the wind.

Our accommodations waiting for us weren't the nicest either so we were all kind of in the dumps about this whole riding mountains thing. That is until we heard some of the horror stories from up the street in the "retreat" (no running water) and how the sprinklers went off in the baseball field full of campers. 

The week was looking like an uphill struggle (semi-literally)
Day 2:
Hotchkiss to Carbondale to Basalt
84 miles at close to 5 and 1/2 hours of riding

Since everyone wanted to get out of our accommodations asap, we left relatively early for ourselves, 7:22am. This gave us the ability of getting water at the aid stations (didn't feel guilty using RTR water since you could see the garden hose running into the bucket) and not having to locate our 14-passenger bus somewhere on the road. Let me tell you this, 7:22am in RTR terms is like leaving late. People are nuts in Colorado. We were cruising pretty early with a good group including texas strongman Joe Udell passing hundreds of people. Something clicked (not my cleat) and I felt really good climbing on this day. It worked out well as there was a category two climb late in the day that kicked some early starting folks in the you-know-where. 

Unfortunately I broke a spoke (brought extras though!) and a cleat at the same time. I still don't know how but I can manage anything. Anyway, dad and I still passed no less than five hundred people on McClure Pass (maybe ~6 miles) with one foot clipped in and rear wheel relatively out of tru -__- Sometimes it is nice to be all mr. racer and blowing by people, but man, I really felt bad for some people. We were going about eight or nine mph in our 39-28s at like 70rpm (ie don't want to go any slower) My point is this was going to be a super, super long week for them. We rolled it back pretty good breakaway style with Joe into Carbondale and bought some smoothies and repaired my wheel. We waited for the rest of the group while the temperature heated up.  

This is where my dad's first bonk ever occurred. Since there are like 45 bike shops per square mile in Colorado so were we dropping back from the group running into stores to see if they had an older speedplay cleat for younger robert. We eventually got on the phone with a place in Basalt (where our motel was) that was the speedplay dealer of middle-west southeastern western Colorado or something, and they happened to have a set of cleats for me. 

Now, approximately three miles behind the group and only twelve miles out of town, we set off on some ever-so-slightly uphill bike path. But it turns out, it was never ending also. We had run out of water and were standing up for three big pedal strokes a time just so we could relax for one. We were both pretty fatigued but I think more just sick of being in our bike clothes for past eight hours, eight minutes. But hey, who's counting?

We eventually made it after asking for directions multiple times. That alone should just show how shot my dad was, one never to ask for directions, or rather yelling, "HOW MUCH FURTHER TO BASALT, WE ARE SHELLED?!"

Basalt was a really cool town and the bike shop we went to had my cleats so that was super neat. 

Day 3 
Basalt to Twin Lakes
64 miles at 4 and 3/4 hours
My legs were sore this day. Not like I did a race the day before and they are on the verge of cramping, just sort of not there. I am thinking that is what feeling old is like. We kicked off the day riding up to Aspen on a towpath like substance. It was like 2% grade and my legs said stop so I told my legs to shut up. Then we went up Independence Pass. I made it until about three miles to go when my legs were starting to shut down. We had just passed through 11,500ft and we could see the final switchback which made it worse for me. The first fifteen miles of the climb I just stared straight into my dad's back and kept my mouth shut. The last three miles on the other hand I started complaining about how I feel like I could go faster, but couldn't. My dad then heard my wheezing and dropped (the hammer) the pace from about 7.2mph to 6.8mph. That was actually just slow enough so I could make it without keeling over. I eventually did make it up after some more complaining.

But the descent was totally worth it. We had probably three turns of the 180 variety on the final twenty two miles on the run into "town"
Town was non-existent (ie we had to get food catered (ps which is awesome)) so we got the van to drive us to Leadville so we could make fun of all the people camping while we got expensive ice-cream and got strava-faced by multiple dorks.
Day 4
Twin Lakes to Leadville to Granby to Grand Lake
125 miles at just over 7 hours
Add 16 miles uphill to the start and 15 more slightly uphill at the end!
Three category four climbs, a category three, and a category two- but with a slight tailwind makes for an awesome ride. 

There were some awesome descents, too, though. I will always remember this bike path we were rolling down at no joke 35mph for a good five miles. That has to be a category one climb going the other way, ON THE BIKE PATH PEOPLE. 

Kind of funny in the morning, our host got a flat on the way out to Leadville and it was so cold (34° according to Garmin) his Co2 froze his valve core open. In the afternoon, the same guy had to go and ride a mile an a half more to get ice cold cokes because we were suffering from the heat (97° according to Garmin)

There are probably lots of small stories I am forgetting from this day but we did have to focus on the riding a bit more as we were volunteered as the three victims who got to do the whole ride. We were rewarded with a little more sleep and a nice head start the next morning though!  
Day 5
Grand Lake to Estes Park 
53 miles in 3 and 1/2 hours
Pretty neat picture Julie captured of some FRED's I DESTROYED.
This day included riding through the national park system. Nervous my legs would be tired again (I did ride a good bit the two weeks before this trip to officially call it a "block") I wore my iPod for the climb up. This way I didn't have to hear myself gasping for air and I could fist pump behind my dad cruising up. It was awesome looking around and taking some pictures.
One more giant switchback to the summit!

Little bit of haze from the fire on the top of the peaks.
I ended up feeling really good and we crushed all those tourists. The descent was also super simple so I touched my brakes probably for thirty seconds total on thirty minutes of descending.

Day 6
Estes Park to North Boulder
34 miles at a bit under 2 hours
We rode back to our hosts' house. There were mountains, rivers, views, you know, boring Colorado stuff. 

Days 6 and 7
76 more miles exploring Boulder and the surrounding area.
4.5 mile climb @ 7% that starts one block from the apartment.
Blue water clearing enough for reflections.
People working out on an amphitheater with quite a view.
Apartment view.
White water rivers in the towns.
Cloud cover but it never rains.
Great people who don't mind dorky, old basketball shirts.
I now can truly undersand why everyone in Colorado loves their life and why everyone else is jealous.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

basement cleanout

I posted up some bike parts for sale on the CyclocrossMagazine forum. I added a few more here for the blog. Don't worry, my Colorado adventures will be well documented soon.
I have to clean out the basement a bit so here are a variety of things I have for sale.
Powertap Wheelset:
32h Powertap Hubs (SL+ rear (wireless))
Shim/Sram cassette body
3x black DT swiss spokes
Open Pro Rims (both replaced within the last 3 months)
Under 4,000 miles total on them.
Only minor damage is the cassette body has very small "teeth" formed that make your cassette stick for a second if you are taking your cassette on/off. (can be replaced if you are super picky)
Batteries just replaced in hub/head.
Includes CPU-cable, hub battery remover, head unit and mount, yellow zip ties.
$700 shipped OBO.

Cannondale Six13 Slice BB30 Frame and Fork:
54cm time trial/triathlon bike.
27.2mm seatpost.
Seemed like my frame has less oxidation than other Six13s I have seen.
Derailleur Hanger included. Stem not.

Oxidation can be covered by brake housing.
Cannondale SI Cranks
Both 172.5mm and BB30
One is Compact 110bcd and includes moderately used 46/36 FSA chainrings.
and the other Standard 130bcd and doesn't have rings but if you really need them I am sure I can come up with some.
$125 for the 110s and $100 for the 130s.

Shimano Decore XT M785 pedals
New, In box with cleats included
$60 shipped
Sram PG-1070 12-25 Cassette.
Less than 500 miles.
$50 shipped.

Shimano TT shifters.
Low mileage circa ~2008.
$50 shipped. 

FSA Gossamer Cranks
175mm and standard GXP
Compact 110bcd
No rings.
$30 shipped.

Shimano Ultegra RD.
Circa ~2006 (I am thinking 6600)
Very little use as it was on my TT bike.
$25 shipped.

I also found a bunch of semi-custom insoles. Most of them aren't even my size so I am curious as how I ended up with them? If anyone is interested I would be happy if you just paid for shipping + $5 for each pair.

Pearl iZumi P.R.O. Insole system
Black size 36-37

3 sets of Giro Men's 45 Insoles with
custom inserts that fit size M43-46

Sole Slim Sport Heat Moldables
Mens 13.5-14

The main email I check is rob dot sroka at gmail dot com. I like PayPal for payments but use a different email for that but we can get that sorted out if you email me at the gmail one. Thanks for looking.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

westlake 5/15, chippewa 5/20, cat 3 upgrade, westlake 5/29, westlake 6/5

The third Westlake of the year was kind of similar to the second (I think I missed the first) We managed to miss the break again and it was all very close at the end. I was marking Chernosky the final few laps hoping he would go across with me on his wheel. I think it seemed like the break may be caught within the final lap though so no bridging ensued. Unfortunately, an all too familiar UPS man pulled up too far and scared somewhere near the front on turn 2 on the final lap. Bob Martin yelled and I think Chernosky overreacted and pulled up hard on the brakes. Thinking I am Mr. Crafty-Cyclocross-Man, I decided to try and go inside Chernosky to avoid going into the UPS truck (I had too much speed for once) but instead washed out and skinned up myself. Apparently most people keep their heads up and saw this coming so no one besides GiulianO went down (landing on me) so I didn't really feel like I didn't anything wrong. Well, everyone stopped from our team to make sure I didn't actually get hurt so I ruined any chance of a result at Worlds. 

The next Sunday was Chippewa. I rested up a bit after crashing at Westlake and think I came to my last cat 4 race a little too fresh. My heart race got pretty high on the first lap moving up a bit on the hill and I never super recovered like I try to do in these races. Well, in typical cat 4 fashion, nothing really happened all race. I would say it was pretty easy but my legs weren't cooperating with my mind so I am not going to say it was. It was probably pretty slow laps compared to prior years though. Anyway, the final time up the hill I noticed everyone in their big rings so I kept it in mind...worst idea. I came over the top in fourth and went to sprint but felt like I was in wet cement trying to keep going.

Lesson learned, play like you practice. I ride the hill probably once a week almost the whole year (my mom loves the loop) and I always stay in my little ring and accelerate (to drop my mom of course) the false flat. But not having best legs ever, I couldn't do that. I still managed 4th place and was a good bike throw away from 2nd. If you look at the crazy graph, I had good torque/wattage on the bike at the right time (false flat) it was just in the wrong gear (~80rpm) going too slow to win the race. Whoops. . .

Later that night, knowing I had to get in the top 4 to get my final two upgrade points, I sent in my upgrade and it went through. I am officially at cat 3 on the road now, welcome to mediocrity Robert!!

I took the next week off westlake to celebrate my mediocrity! Just kidding I wanted my wounds too heal before I showed up and scared everyone off with my hair legs so I think I rode my mountain bike a good bit the week after Chippewa. 

Then, Westlake last Tuesday, Aaron "PM" Cruikshank was riding like a god and I got in solid move with him, Cameron, and Bob Martin. We were missing a Spin and an Andy Clarke so we were brought back after about ten laps of overheating. Aaron then went again with my dad and Ray Huang in tow with eight laps to go. It took them a while to get out of sight but once they did everyone sat up and Andy seemed pissed off enough not to bring it back since no one was letting him bridge solo. Chernosky and Bob went to the front with one to go, but a bit too late as the break stayed away and dad was able to jump early and get Aaron and Ray for the W! I kind of screwed up the sprint but didn't really care since my rocketed up to second in the standings. 

Some easy rides occurred in between (Ohio road racing only occurs on Tuesdays at 6:30?) then it was Worlds again two nights ago. Paul No-need-for-a-Nickname Martin was there and was in the middle of the field so everyone just waited for him to do something. He brought back the break solo (luckily, as a certain JawnP may have been dropped from it) and seemed to want to challenge Chernosky for a field sprint. Somehow, oh wait I know how- he is riding as well as Paul, Aaron "PM" Cruikshank went solo a lap out and held off a pretty darn fast last lap for the win. I thought I came in 4th in the field sprint coming in only behind Chernosky, Paul, and Bob Martin, but was awarded no place... I had a bad sprint anyway since my cross bike seems to sprint a little differently and I didn't go into the 11 early enough. But I still felt like my dad throwing stuff into the car mad that I couldn't get my two points. 

Why was I on my cross bike you ask? My road was shipped off to a far away land with big hills and a lack of oxygen. It should be a fun early summer vacation. Talk to you later blog.