Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lemond Part 2

In May, I disassembled my Lemond.

Couldn't find a reasonably priced shifter on eBay. I lost many a bid over the next 6 months.

In November, a good set of Ultegra shifters showed up on Craigslist. I immediately contacted the owner and purchased the next day. Seems this young man caught the Fixie bug, and wanted no part of shifting and braking. He must've really hated the idea of varying gears and safely stopping the bike, he gave me the shifters for about half the lowest price I saw on eBay.

Although I really wanted to build this bike up as a winter/commuter ride, I drug my feet...probably because I've never mastered the art of installing cables. A few weeks ago, I finally purchased new cables and housing. With the crappy weather this weekend and a bad case of cabin fever, I finally installed them. Armed with Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, I went to work. It wasn't as bad as I thought. Good thing out of this project, I was able to learn a lot more about bike maintenance and assembly.

This should keep me off the metro on the days I don't want my good bikes to get wet. All I need now is for the ice to melt.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Great Falls

Before moving to DC, I was afraid that my days of riding year round were over. Managed to knock out 400+ miles this month. Most of it was commuting, and most of it was damn cold. I learned how to gear up and for the most part I've stayed very cozy on the bike.

Due to all the shitty weekend weather, was only able to get 3 non-commute rides in...first was a "racing skills clinic" with my new team. It was good to get out and spin for awhile, but I would've much rather been able to go out during a regular ride.

2nd ride was with Carter on the bike path...good times, until the Fred assault.

On Sunday, joined my adventure race teammate for a ride on the C&O Canal Towpath. Of all the years I lived in the area, I'd never touched this route on bicycle. We picked a slightly rainy January day to give it a go.

I was covered in mud by the end of the ride. Cross bike was definitely the way to go.

Great views from the overlook at Great Falls. The Potomac was raging on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Nerds Ruled the Net

When I arrived at college in the early 90s, I had limited experience using a computer. I had a couple of classes my junior and senior year using non-networked 286s running MS-DOS. The term "Internet" was foreign to me, as well as most of my peers.

My first semester, I had a class programming in FORTRAN. This class required me to spend long hours in the computer lab using a local network called UK PRIME. It was unix-based (I think) and connectivity to the outer Internet was difficult unless you understood a complex vocabulary of command prompts. Nevertheless, through all my time trying to program, I learned this vocabulary from nerds in the lab. I quickly learned how to "telnet" to other networks, how to determine the true identity of a user ID (finger), how to "ping" an IP address, how to chat in a local chatroom (all full of nerds discussing Star Trek, programming, and other nerdy topics), and a bulletin board system.

Once I discovered the bulletin board, I knew I was stepping into the realm of the Nerd. The most active BB topic was Star Trek. As a dedicated Star Wars fan (this was years prior to the new incarnation of shitty Star Wars movie), I decided to jump in the fray and insult the Star Trek fans. Using the handles Han and Chewie (never claimed to not be a nerd, just a more discriminating nerd), a friend and I proceeded to spam (a term I learned after the fact) the nerds with posts ridiculing the Trekkies and championing our beloved 'Wars. This is where I learned some basic 'netiquette', such as ALL CAPS=YELLING and the concept of a "Flame War."

The chat program was quite popular amongst the nerds in the lab. You'd see 4 or 5 nerds sitting next to each other in the lab chatting in the same room. Topics were generally nerdy. This is where I learned that one could "hook up" on the net, when the guy in the dorm room next to me met a nerd chick in one of the rooms and invited her over for some nerd sex. I thought nothing of it at the time, other than it's nice that the nerds have a place where the nerd guys can talk to the nerd girls and they can get together. Little did I know this nerd-man-whore and nerd-harlot would evolve into the freaks looking for sex on Craigslist.

So, by the time I graduated, the net evolved into something much bigger with the advent of the World Wide Web. Now, you didn't need to be a nerd that understood a complex series of command prompts to find information or communicate. The keyboard became less important than the mouse. You did not need to be literate to do damage with a computer and an Internet connection. As processors became faster, cost went down and the hoi polloi came online. That's when it all started to go wrong...high speed Internet, smart phones and ultimately Facebook came along to virtually destroy the nerd domain.

After a day of challenging Facebook statuses fueled by ignorance, I long for the days when the nerds ruled the net.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Encounters with Freds (Rant)

Today, I took Carter out to get him used to riding his new mountain bike. This is first ride without coaster brakes and with gears, so I wanted a nice easy place to help him acclimate. I decided on the Mt Vernon trail south of Old Town.

I ride the Mt Vernon almost every day north of Old Town on my 7 am and 5pm, all I ever really encounter are other commuters, a few runners and the occasional tourists cruising up to DC. Something I must've forgot in my years away from DC is that on nice weekend, the path becomes the Fred Superhighway. You can't go 30 seconds without seeing a faux-Lance in a USPS or Discovery Channel jersey. (No one would be caught dead in an Astana jersey, as it is basically a Kazakh national team, and Lance wasn't the real team leader anyway. No self-respecting cyclist or posing hipster will wear a color representing another country, unless of course that country is Italy.) You also got quite a few folks doing their Fred intervals on the trail, hauling ass getting frustrated when there's anyone in their way, and too busy to indicate to anyone that they're passing. These are the Freds I had a problem with today.

Before we started the ride, I briefed Carter on the basics of trail's pretty simple at his level, stay on the right and say "on your left" before you pass anyone. Of course, a 5 year old's mind (thus his wheel) often wanders, and it takes some reminding to keep him on course. For that reason, I'd hoped the Freds would follow trail etiquette.

Within a minute of starting our ride, the first Fred passes us, not a word. As he passes, I tell him he should announce his presence. On the work end of his Fred interval, he doesn't hear me. Within the next 3 minutes, 3 more pass...same thing. When the 5th Fred passes me, he hears me say, "could you please say 'on your left'...I'm trying to teach my 5 year old how to ride this bike, and he may veer over into the left lane"...he screams "I DID"...I told him that I didn't hear anything, he should be louder. He immediately stops his bike, jumps off and yells "LISTEN PRICK!". I told him to calm down and ride safe, and ask him if he thinks it's appropriate to use that language in front of a 5 year old. (I'm extremely proud of myself at this point, exercising some restraint in front of Carter, speaking in a calm voice...I did immediately size the Fred up before he even got the word "Prick" out...I could take him.) He yells more and more, then calls me a "piece of work"...then I laughed, telling him that he's the one that needs to do something about his anger management issues.

So, we continue to ride. Carter asks me what happened, and what was wrong with the guy. Countless Freds pass us without as much as a "on your left", many of them were wearing earphones, presumably because they saw Lance warming up on his trainer with an iPod, or maybe they're having imaginary conversations with a mythical Johan Bruyneel in their Fred teamcar. Who knows.

This brings me to the age old philosophical question: If a Fred yells 'on your left' on the bike path and no one hears him, is he still a d-bag? The guys claim that he said it is worthless...the point is we didn't hear him, so he was as good as silent.

My view of a bike path is that it has its place, and "serious training" is not one of them. Here are the uses of a bike path:

1) Commuting...keeps the cyclists out of the main thoroughfares, makes the cars happy and the commute stress free for everyone.
2) Recreational "cruising"...this is for the folks that don't normally ride a bike that may not be comfortable on the road to get a chance to ride. On the Mt Vernon Trail, this amounts to a lot of tourist riding.
3) Family paths should be a good place to teach kids how to ride in a non-threatening environment, especially when you live in the city. You shouldn't have to worry about a Fred doing intervals on the path that's too much into his ride to wait for a slow kid that is not keeping a straight line
4) Getting from point A to point B...if you're trying to get to a ride on the road, and the path is a good way to get there, by all means take it. But, you shouldn't plan on doing the main part of your workout on the path. The speed limit is 15 mph.

The bottom line is that the speed limit is only 15 mph for a reason. Timetrialing Freds and other bike path heros should take the time to say "on your left" or not pass when there are riders/walkers/runners passing each other in opposite directions. We had another run in as we passed a walker in the opposite direction, and a Fred tried to pass between us...why did he feel the need to 'thread the needle'? We don't know each other, and I don't trust your bike handling skills. There's no reason for you to come within 6 inches of hitting me. What's so important that you couldn't wait until the congestion passed?

So, I can't wait for the mountain bike trails to thaw out and dry. There are less Freds out there, and I've yet to have a problem taking Carter out on the trail. In my experience, most mountain bikers think it's pretty cool to see kids out on the trails and go out of their way to leave you plenty of room or even talk to you out on the trail. Freds on the paved trail are too busy playing Lance to show any politeness.

Ahhh...glad to get that all out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Green Flash Trippel


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Double Bastard 2009


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bacon abuse

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raging Bitch

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Friday, January 8, 2010

On Tuques

From 1998-2003, weightlifting was my primary means of fitness....I knew the lingo, was familiar with the fashion, knew the etiquette. Overall, I felt pretty comfortable in the gym.

After several years of not lifting weights, I recently decided to use my Gold's Gym membership and lift a little. I know that if I avoid the gym for much longer, I'll develop permanent bitch tits and will have a hell of a time working those off when I hit 40. Plus, I have a lot of free time at work, it's too cold to head out to Hain's Point for the lunch time ride, and I can only run the Mt Vernon trail so many times before it gets boring.

So, I'm easing back into the gym by:

1) Avoiding peak hours...really don't want to "work in" with a guy who's benching 300 lbs while I'm struggling with 115
2) Starting with only Nautilus machines, slowly integrating free weights
3) Limiting the workouts to about 30-40 minutes so I'm not too sore.

Yeah, if I had a time machine in 2000, and fast forwarded to 2010, I'd definitely kick my 2010 ass. Good thing I'm a much faster runner now than in 2000, so I'd make a quick getaway.

One thing I'm not up to speed on is the current gym culture and attire. The music hasn't changed much (mainly rap), but the attire has changed significantly. Back in the day, folks were functional attire only. Most dudes had some sort of cut up sleeveless shirt and basic shorts. Today I noticed guys are making more of a fashion statement with clothes that don't seem to be all that functional. There were about 5 other guys in the free weight area today...none of them were working out together, but they all looked basically the same, wearing:

1) Extra long shorts...looked like board shorts
2) Ed Hardy Shirts

I'm not sure why they all were sporting the Tuque. Did some rapper or NFL star wear a tuque in the gym? Are they all paying umbrage to The Edge? What's the function of the Tuque in a heated gym? Does your head get cold when your squatting more than 100 lbs? Can a skinny guy like me get away with wearing a tuque in the gym? Is not wearing a tuque similar to riding a bicycle in gym shorts and sneakers? Am I a Gold's Gym Fred?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First ride of 2010

Due to the snowpocalypse and a week off work, today was my first ride since December 18th.  Temp was 25, wind chill was in the single digits, there was some light snow and the river was full of ice chunks.  Still stayed warmer than yesterday waiting at the bus stop.