Saturday, January 29, 2011

official announcement

I will do the Tour Divide 2013.

If you are not familiar with this, you can click here to check it out. I have actually already started with my training base since November. I get 100 miles a week just with my commute which has been great. I am already over 50 consecutive days commuting by bike. I have done a few 50 miles rides and I did a century for the month of January. I pledged to do a century a month every month until I depart for the TD.

This season of biking will be full of events. The 2011 brevet schedule is set and I plan on attending them all. I will replace my centuries in April, May, July, and October with the brevets that will be held in those months. April has a 200k and a 300k! Also on the agenda, of course, will be the Vermont 50. This will be my third time doing it. The first attempt failed. I got pulled after riding 38 miles. The weather was horrible and it was completely mud logged. That didn't help me at all. Last year had incredible weather and I was able to finish in 9 hours and 14 minutes. This year I hope to trim 30 minutes off of my finish time.

I haven't quite sorted out in my mind the reason(s) for wanting to do the TD. I do know that it will most likely be the single most challenging thing that I ever attempt in my life. It will life changing and it will be an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I will be working on my letter of intent and I will post it when I get it sorted out. Feel free to follow my progress and watch as I prepare for such an "EPIC" event.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

positive 32

Tonight's ride home was pretty awesome. It was real nice to ride without the balaclava. I left off my mid layer and also rode with one layer of socks instead of two. It is amazing how your body acclimates to the temperatures. Today's high was 52 degrees warmer than than the low that we had just two days ago. That's crazy! The warmer temps helped clear up the roads. I nearly had the sizzling bacon sound of the studs all the way home. Hopefully I can find a day in February that rivals today for my next century.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 24, 2011

negative "WHAT" degrees out this morning!

I am not sure what the temp was for sure. It was -24* at my house when I left. The news said that it was -9* in Burlington. I am sure it was colder than that. I have ridden in -8* and this was way colder by comparison.

Nothing is dead! My toes hurt more than usual and for obvious reasons. I am doing the wool sock, bag, cotton sock method with my cycling shoes. I found that using flat pedals with my hiking boots and appropriate socks are not any warmer. I would have to go to my Sorel's for warmer feet and I couldn't even imagine riding with those on.

My nose was the only exposed part of my body. My balaclava is designed to cover to just under my nose and with my goggles on, it leaves that little triangle for my nose. I rubbed chapstick on my nose to help with wind block. It did ok but was definitely a point of concern. Some of my breathing helped warm it but then it would instantly become frosty from the temps.

my bike did fine. It didn't have any shifting problems but at that temperature it was a snail. There was some obvious lag after freewheeling when the hub would catch up to the pedals. I forgave it for being that way. Its not like I was able to turn my legs all that fast. Kinda felt like a was riding in slow motion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

morning leisure

Is this bike culture?

I'm pleased to say that I discovered the problem that I was having with my shifting. I haven't completely solved it but I have found a way to deal with it. I had water in my shift housing right at the hub. It was creating enough friction to keep things from working properly. My friend Joe suggested that I hang the bike from the front tire (the way that I have always kept my bike until I borrowed my other friend's bike stand). While doing this, after disconnecting the cable from the hub, I saw quite a bit of water drops run down the cable. I let it hang in the basement over night. This morning when I headed out everything seemed fine. I waited for the cold to take effect before I jumped to conclusion. Nothing! It was working flawlessly.

To celebrate, I decided to stop for some coffee. I saw a chance to snap this picture and thought it was cool. Hot & Cold.

My ride home tonight was another exercise in flawless shifting. I am so happy. Too bad I had a few issues with it on my Century. Anyways, now I know what needs to happen and I will be taking care of it soon. In the meantime, I am leaving well enough alone and hanging the bike overnight.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two counties, Thirteen towns, 100.6 miles, 7h13m

There it is! My first century. What a hell of a time to do that. Overall it was a good experience. I did keep dreaming of warm weather. My toes took a huge toll but I managed to deal ok with that.

This was the only dirt road section on the ride. It was about 2.5 miles long. Towards the end of this road I had become a little displeased with my hub. It downshifted to 6th gear ok but below that wasn't happening. I had to get off the bike and twist the shift mechanism by hand. Mind you that I am only 18 miles into my ride. I stopped at mile 26 at a gas station to check it out. I scraped all the gunk, slush, and ice off of the hub in hopes that this would help. Not really. Fast forward to later in the ride, it worked fine. Towards the end of the ride, not so good again. Temperature was playing a big part in the situation. I am going to pull it apart again and try a different grease and also change the shift cable out for a sealed unit. Hopefully this works. More about that later.

 I wanted to take more pictures but it is such a pain in the tail end to stop all the time and pull the gloves off, get out the camera and shoot.

little town charm

next door to the town offices

next up was the town of Bristol. If it wasn't for being in the middle of nowhere, it would be a cool place to hang out.

the furthest point south on my route :)

I stopped in Middlebury to have my lunch and take a break. By the time I took off again, about 45 minutes had passed. I wondered if this was a bad idea but I seemed ok when I took off again. Riding along I look out ahead and the weather looked horrible. I thought I was in for a tough ride home. It turned out to be just a squall that lasted maybe three or four minutes. That was fine by me!

distance traveled before lunch

This is how long it took to get to 56 miles!

This solar farm is on route 7 near Vergennes. I don't know anything about it but I think that it was cool to see. Much more pleasant than seeing a nuclear plant or something.

Pano view of the solar farm

This one is for you Bob!

At about 6 miles from home I stopped to let my wife know that I was almost done. I stopped in a bus shelter to block the wind. It didn't work too well and it was pretty cold at this point. The temp dropped noticeably about 15 miles from home.

Overall it was great. I was good for the first 70 miles and the last 30 took a beating on me. I would say that the weather played a large roll in that. Now I know what to expect for next month, when I do it again!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

snow storm

It snowed all day. This is a shot from the office door at my shop. I left about an hour early to get a jump on the night fall. Some days, like today, you get yourself in the position of having no where to be. It was a good time. I really enjoy riding in the snow. Next year I really hope to have a fat tire bike that I can use from time to time. Tonight would have been one of those times.

front wheel snow ball! This is a high flange hub, though you can't tell.
The Alfine turned into a snow ball too!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

chugging along

Heading out in this:

Saturday I rode out to (Blogmaster's note: an undisclosed location) to my friend Bob's house. His son was having his birthday party. Joe joined me on the ride. It was about 12 miles but they were tough. I think it took 1'22" to get there. Seemingly slow but a winter commuter with fenders and studs is no Flexy Flyer! It went well.

Snow covered dirt roads and snowless, wet paved roads made up the route. The dirt sections were the nicest and my favorite. I like the dirt roads for sure and the San Jose (Bianchi) loves them. It feels right at home there and does a great job at holding a good line.

Joe and myself when we first arrived. I'm the big guy on the left!
The bikes (Joe's Kona and my Bianchi)
Look at those spokes! Aero!

The Alfine worked great. I have to say that even though the eight speed limits your gear choices, it makes alot of sense to have one on a winter bike. No snow and/or ice build up in the gears to cause shifting problems. I have a full housing from the shifter all the way back to the hub so I don't have anything that gets in the way of the cable working like it should.

My wife was there with the truck. I loaded the bikes on the rack.
Here is a shot of those spokes again. Ice and snow loves dirt.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Guess what?

Today was back to reality. After 10 days off for the holidays, it was back to the shop. This morning was the first "dark ride" since the break and then again on the way home. I love that this hub is on my bike. It is almost too hard to find the words for the pleasure it is to ride. But, nonetheless, I heart my IGH!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First ride of the year!

Well there you have it. Got out for about 45 miles. I hope this sets the stage for a good year with alot of mileage. The map is a loose interpretation in some sections. There was some bike path and I don't remember the starting part of the route to a T. I'm pleased with my performance. Legs were pretty good. The ride started out warmer than it ended. The temp dropped maybe 10* about mid ride. At least it was dry.

I rode with the studs. I think that I will ride all season with them on until they come off in the Spring. Maybe next year I will have another set of wheels that I can swap out. It may be a bit difficult seeing that I would have to get another Alfine hub. Probably not going to happen with that one. Although, I am thinking about having two front wheels. I plan on riding some long distance rides and Brevets this year so I think that I will lace a Dynohub in a rim that I will use for that. I also will like to have a front wheel with a standard hub. I'm thinking White Ind MI5 hub. It should make a good choice for some of the abuse that I may show it.

The Alfine was perfect. I am really glad that Versa makes STI shifters for the 8 speed hub. It is nice to have the drop bars for more riding positions. The next bike that I put together for the road will most likely have an IGH, maybe the Alfine 11 but it will be a more all road type bike with metro bars and trigger shift. Probably disc brakes too. We'll see when I get there. Until next time!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Last ride of the year, thoughts on Alfine

46 miles on the new Alfine hub. It was a blessing and a curse. More on that below.

I am very pleased with the Alfine. I have some mixed feelings but they are created by me. If you have spent a fair amount of time riding single speed, you will find this hub to be quite beneficail. It allows you to adjust to the terrain a little better. I have my setup with the ring/cog that I would normally run in the off season. (38/20) With that said, forth gear is 1:1 which is essentiall riding as if I was single speed. I then effectively have three granny gears and four overdrive gears. That is pretty awesome. The downside to this is the urge to ease off the pain when the road turns upward. When I had no choice but the gear that I brung, you get out of the saddle and push through it until its done. When you have options, it is easy to drop a gear (or in this case up to three gears) and spin it out. It takes the edge off but I realized that it was an easy alternative to grunting it out. I think overall that is the least of my problems. I welcome the options. It will allow me to venture further out and help leave my legs fresher to ride longer. I will continue to put many miles on it and everytime I click the shifter, I will remember how hard it was sometimes before I had it.

This is a pretty common site in the Vermont country side. The photo below is the same barn, just panned back for a more complete look of the scene.

Shortly after I took a shot of where I'm headed...

... and where I've been

This is a nice shot through the railings at a small waterfall.

This is the damn in Milton. It is at mile 15 into my ride. At this point it was climb time on the Westford-Milton Rd. Man I wasn't ready for that.

By the time I got here, I had only gone 4 miles but did quite a bit of climbing.

This is my old stomping ground. At this point in the ride I could have shortened it quite a bit. I built in a few bail out points in the ride in case I had enough or got tired. I took a minute and stopped, had a banana and decided to roll on.

This is a look back on the way I came at a farm in Westford on 128. I love this state!

Time to roll on. Any time the road fell dark to shadows, it was pretty cold. Riding with the sun shining on my face was nice and kept me warm.

This would make one hell of a bike shop. Someday we hope to have some land to build on and something like this would be in my plans. (It looks crooked but it is the camera angle)

There is a VAST hub at the intersection of Towers Rd. and Chapin Rd. Looks like good fun.

Here is my bike with the likes of some marks in the snow left by the skis of some snowmobiles. This bike does it all and doesn't complain.

I hope next year to have a "Fat Tire Bike" so that I can explore Vermont from an angle that I have never seen it. I like the idea of being able to get around in the unlikely places.

The pavement of Chapin Rd. ends here and I would spend the next 5 miles on dirt. It was super nice. This bike seriously likes a dirt road. It rolled so nice.

Here is a crazy panoramic view of the intersection of Chapin Rd. and Col. Page Rd. It is creepy how it leads you to believe that you can choose your route as if its a fork in the road. The roads are actually perpendicular to each other.