Cranky's Corner

Give me coffee and no one gets hurt!

Old man winter is upon us!

Winter_Cyclist_2Since my last post I have been enjoying riding in 50-ish degree weather with the occasional dip into the high 40s with a bit of wind. Nothing that some arm & knee warmers, along with a good wind vest/jacket and some embro for the exposed legs couldn’t handle.

That was until this weekend when the temps dropped and the high of the day was about 39 degrees, although the rides started much closer to the 35 degree range. This mean full leg warmers, long sleeve jersey, warm jacket, toe covers, gloves and skull cap.

Saturday I managed about 20 miles with a midway stop for some hot coffee. I actually rode to a nearby park which has some open fields and single track in the woods to practice some ‘crossing skills. It was a bright sunny day out so it really didn’t feel all that cold out when you were in the sun.

Sunday, however, was a different story. The temps were about the same but the sun was hiding and it really felt brutal cold out there. After about 13 miles my toes were protesting, the light insulation of the toe covers just were not cutting it sans the sun. I called it quits earlier than anticipated but it was still a good ride exploring some new roads and climbs. This the highlights my need for some proper insulated shoe covers as well as insulated gloves. I have windstopper long finger gloves with a light insulation but while my digits weren’t suffering like my toes they could of been warmer.

Today we are supposed to be back into the 40-50 degree weather but it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Monday is usually my rest day anyway so no great loss. Unfortunately the temps wont stay that high for long as tomorrow the “real-feel” temp will be in the teens. When it’s that cold I’ll pass on the outdoor rides and will be hitting the trainer instead. I have a DVD of a century ride in CO which is fun to ride to, but I really can’t wait until I can use Zwift!

Ride & Run to Remember 2014

ride-and-run-to-rememberOver the weekend I participated in the Ride & Run to Remember charity event that benefits the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. If you are unfamiliar with that fund I suggest you head over here to check it out. But as you might guess it goes to benefit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and since I’m involved in LE it’s something I like to support to honor our fallen brothers & sisters.

I had signed up to be a “Road Warrior” which would involve me running the 5K and then doing the 55 mile ride the following day. My girlfriend decided she wanted to participate but due to an injury she wouldn’t be able to run but we decided on the 2K walk instead. Unfortunately the day of the run/walk it decided to rain. Plus with us being over the bridge from the start and not exactly sure where we were going we sorta missed the start. What’s the saying about best laid plans?  Even still we still walked anyway even if it wasn’t “official” and covered way more than 2K. After all we were in DC and there is a lot of national treasures to see!

Thankfully the day of the ride Mother Nature decided to give us a reprieve from the rain and let the sun shine even if it was a little cold. There was no being late for this as the hotel we were staying at was located across the street from the start/finish line. 55 miles isn’t the longest ride I’ve done but I was still a little nervous going into it since I have never rode in this area before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The elevation profile estimated about 2800′ of ascent so it was a manageable elevation, especially for a northern boy (heck, I’ve done 30 mile rides with more elevation than that). At the start we got a few pre-ride photos along with a nice introduction and singing of the National Anthem. With that out of the way, the sirens went off and we were on our way!

I wont bore you with excruciating details of the ride but it was a great route in a nice area and I found it very flat. It was funny listening to people from the area complain about the “hills” and I’m looking around saying to myself “what hill?” Actually there was a nasty headwind for about 1/3 of the ride that was far worse than any hill out there. There were 4 rest stops on the route and I made good used of each of them (i.e. used the loo). I went with my typical on the bike nutrition but did help myself to some Kind bars they had at a couple of the stops. By the end of the ride I was still feeling good and not suffering at all. I could of probably pushed the pace a bit more but ended up finish with a respectable 15.1mph average with a final mileage of 59 miles.

Can’t wait to do it again next year!

With that I leave you with a few photos.

 Getting ready to ride.We depart!Just after crossing the finish.

With my finishers medal.My two biggest supporters.

Nuances of climbing

I’m always fascinated at seeing the different riding styles of people, especially when climbing. Combing from mountain bikes where the granny gear was tall enough to go up a vertical wall I never considered myself a climber and when I first got back on the road seriously I hated the climbing. Now I welcome a good climb and thrive in the sense of accomplishment when I make it to the top or set a new personal record.

My style has evolved over time and I try to keep a constant pace up a hill. I may not be the fastest as the start but usually I’ll catch up to the people who attack at the bottom and then taper when they burn out near the top and usually I’ll still have some left in the tank to meander on by them. Then there are the people who shift too late and start grinding early in the climb or they are afraid of shifting too late and thus shift too early and have no momentum to carry onto the hill. I used to be both of these people and I would try different things on my solo rides until I figured out when the optimal time for me to shift would be – basically when I start feeling my momentum slow it’s time to drop to the smaller chain ring. There is one exception and that would be a small roller where I just need to dig a little to get over the hump w/o expending too much energy. Once I’m in the smaller chain ring I try and keep what momentum I have left while spinning a high cadence which for me would be 80-90rpm as I am most comfortable in that range. If it’s a long and/or steep climb I’ll go through the cassette trying to keep me in that range until I hit the big cog. From then on it’s just a matter of grinding it out. If I’ve played my cards right I’ll have enough left in the tank to actually accelerate over the top of the hill while everyone else is looking to recover.

When I ride solo I’m more apt to push the envelope a bit because if I burn out no one else will be waiting on me. But on the club ride I’ll pick a pace and go at it. This past weekend ride was interesting because we had a rider that would attack the hills early and stand on the pedals and pass the group before sitting down. Now we aren’t racing but I always like a challenge so I would then pull out of line and follow. He would of course be ahead of me but I would slowly reel him in as we reached the top, sometimes just tucking in behind or other times pulling up along side. It was comical as we did this over and over again throughout the day. I don’t think he ever caught on but I’d always be right there when he turned around.


What’s been going on?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mostly because I haven’t had anything real interesting to share. I’ve just been logging away the miles and preparing for the event I participated in today.

I rode in my cycle clubs annual even – the Golden Apple. I chose the 60 mile route and got started about 7:30 am. I wasn’t riding with any particular group of people as most wanted to get a later start but I picked up with different people along the way. It was an absolute great ride with the exception of my first flat in over a year. Coming out of a fast downhill I could feel the bikes back end get squirrely and a quick look down confirmed my suspicions. I managed to get it stopped without wiping out and set off to change the tube. I found the offending staple in my tire and of course removed it so I wouldn’t have a repeat. Of course the new tube I was using had a faulty valve and wouldn’t hold any air so I had to borrow a tube from one of the road marshals at the intersection I was stopped at. Once that ordeal was over I was on my way again.

There was no more mishaps for the rest of the ride and I was taking it pretty easy. I had done 50-52 milers before but this one has a lot of climbing so didn’t want to burn out early. Even still at the 44 mile rest stop I needed an extended break for about 15 minutes so I could sit down and recover a bit. That certainly helped and I was able to finish the ride strong. Total mileage ended up being 62 so I managed to squeak out my first metric century in the process! Oh and total elevation gained was just over 4000 feet – Strava and my Magellan both agreed for once!

In other news I bought a new crank, FSA Gossamer, to put on my bike and ditch the square taper crank as it flexes too much under power. The Gossamer isn’t the lightest crank on the market but they are stiff and should shave about ~1lb off the bike in combination with the BB swap. After that I’m contemplating upgrading to 10sp from my current 8. With all the hills around here I’d really like at least a 28 in the rear and I can’t do that with my current setup. The biggest expense with doing the swap will be the shifters so I’m keeping my eye out on ebay.

Happy cycling!

7 Things Non-Cyclists Should Know About Road Cycling

Reblogged from Will Work For Adventure

I only got into road cycling last June when I decided to train for a triathlon, and there were a number of things that caught me by surprise. I realized that I had been an utter asshole at times to cyclists, and I want to share how you may be an unintentional asshole too. Obviously there are some entitled cyclists that are assholes themselves, but they are in the minority. Give a cyclist the benefit of the doubt. You’ll usually be right.


1) Road cycling is scary

Listen. I’m not a wuss. I’ve jumped out of an airplane. I’ve bungeed off a 20-story bridge. I’ve stepped into boxing rings and wrestling mats to train and compete in things like boxing, MMA/Ultimate Fighting, Judo, and submission grappling. I’ve hung off cliffs climbing tall peaks at altitude with a thousand feet of air underneath me, and much more. I’m a lot more risk tolerant than most people. I feel more in danger road cycling than I have in most other situations I’ve gotten myself into. I try to forget that a distracted driver texting a smiley to a friend could kill me at any minute. It’s hard to feel safe most of the time with how most cars drive around cyclists nevermind the random rager that seems to come around every month or so.

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