Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Can't I get out of Boone?

Well, now I am in Boone County, which is quite different than Boone, NC. In fact Boone county is in Kentucky, near Cincinnati and CVG airport. I brought the trusty Ritchey with me and managed to find a ride on the good 'ole interweb. This guy showed me around and despite the rain showers that the area drastically needed, we had a good, hilly spin along the little river dividing Kentucky and Ohio.
Here are a few pictures from the ride.
It's nice to find a good spin when I really have no expectations. Unfortunately work has been overwhelming while I'm here so I'm awake playing catch up until 2am. Oh well, at least my legs are happy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Boone play

Wednesday was another day of fun riding with the climbers in Boone. Check out the route details. We ain't got hills like that in Boston. Me and the Specialized rep got schooled by a world class triathlete. He was a friggin' rocket ship going up the hills. I am happy to say I was second to the top, although I don't think the rest of the group worked quite as hard as I did.

Judge for yourself, but I think Boone rocks for road riding. I've heard the mountain biking is sweet too. Next time.
Oh, and if you happen to stay in Boone, look out for this guy and this fine dining establishment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was looking forward to this week's trip to Boone, NC because I knew there would be lots of hills and amazing views. Unfortunately I was not sure if I'd be able to hook up with a group to show me around and the area did not look easily navigated alone.

Luckily these guys were nice enough to let me join them for their recovery ride. I rode with the shop owner, an NAV (NY-MA based club) rider, and a touring Specialized demo bike rep. Unfortunately I was scrambling to get my bike assembled in time to leave with them so I forgot to grab my camera. On the plus side I set a personal best time in assembling the Ritchey.

Tomorrow should be another fun ride with these guys. I'll remember the camera so I can capture some of the awesome views. In the meantime, google Boone, NC.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How I role

I’ve written a number of times about the places I’ve traveled with my bike this year. I haven’t written enough about the bike itself. I invested in a Ritchey Break Away cyclocross frameset this summer. The package includes frame, fork, headset, cable splitters, tube covers, and a reinforced soft case. The rest of the parts were up to me to supply.

I wanted the bike to be respectable, compatible with other bikes I already own, and most of all, durable. There seemed to be no reason to build a travel bike that couldn’t withstand the frequent rough handling of the airlines. Since I’m a Campy fan, the group had to be Campy. I am fortunate to have maintained friendships and connections in the cycling industry so the mostly Veloce build kit I used was rather inexpensive. Since I spent 6 years working in the bike industry and currently have a stable full of bikes, I was able to pull the remaining parts from my “leftover” bin.

Here are some of the highlights and the reasons I chose these particular parts.
The Truvativ Compact crankset was one of the parts in my leftover bin. It fit the bill perfectly. It’s already used and scratched up plus the compact gearing allows me to survive even the steepest of hills without the complication of a triple ring (I loath the triple setup and will never use it in case you are wondering). Also the Time mtb style pedals allow me to walk around anywhere I might find myself. If I choose to bring off road tires, I don’t have to think about switching pedals and shoes as well. Plus I found these pedals in a parking lot a few days after a race so they didn’t cost me anything:

The cockpit is fairly simple. I didn’t consider the added benefit of the hidden shift cable routing but it has definitely proven easier than packing the exposed Shitmano handlebar assembly. The bar tape is a synthetic from Fizik that is not as susceptible to ripping as a traditional cork. Since the bars are crammed in close to sharp parts like the chainrings, I didn’t want to deal with the tape getting ripped up too easily. The bar and stem are simple aluminum bits that I had in my leftover parts. No reason for high zoot carbon on a bike that is being shipped around the country on a monthly basis.

In my opinion there is no option on headsets. I always spend the extra dough for the Chris King. They are maintenance free and carry a long warranty. Plus, when the fork is being removed and installed as frequently as it is on this bike, I want a headset with as few parts, all sealed, as possible. Chris King, you are my hero!

I love the Garmin Edge 305 for recording my workouts. Plus it gives a great insight when I’m in a new area. The GPS doesn’t require sensors on the wheels or fork and easily fits in my carry on luggage. Plus the mini-USB re-charging is the same as my work and personal phone so I’m already carrying a charger for it. The cork bar end plugs are just for fun. Unfortunately I just lost one of them this weekend while racing ‘cross on the bike so now I need to drink another bottle of champagne.

The brakes are standard issues Tektro cantilevers. I was initially skeptical of their performance since they cost less than $30 for the pair. I’ve quickly come to appreciate their light action and easy adjustment. Plus they are lighter than the Avid’s and Shitmano’s in addition to being cheaper.

One of the most important and smallest parts on my bike is the Connex chain link. I prefer Campy chains but they unfortunately do not come with a re-usable master link. The Connex is the perfect solution. I actually use them on all of my Campy bikes since they allow for easy, tool free disassembly to pack up the chain or to clean it in degreaser. Some people seem to frown on the Connex link with the Campy chain but I have never seen the link fail. It is a great “unsung hero."

The wheels may vary as ‘cross season picks up. For now I am using a pair of Easton Vista SL’s. They are not the lightest, but they rely on conventional 270mm spokes which are easily replaced in the event of damage. Plus the wheels are not that expensive so I don’t feel bad if they get scraped up in travel (which they have). I also have a pair of Chorus/Open Pro wheels that may travel with me to ‘cross rides since they are already mounted with cross tires.

Overall, my travel bike is not likely to turn many heads or impress the people I meet while traveling but that is ok. There is not an ounce of carbon on the bike (this is intentional) and its weight is probably close to 20 or 22 pounds. But it beats trying to rent a bike when I travel or being stuck in the hotel gym on the crappy recumbent exercise bike.

Look for an upcoming post about the packing process. I already have the pictures. I just need the time to write about it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Napa Valley beauty

On Friday I had some time to kill before heading to the Oakland airport for my red eye flight home. I had the bike and 1 hour so I decided to take a spin up one of the Napa canyon roads. There were a bunch of small vineyards and being "crush" season the grapes were looking as picturesque as possible.
This ride was a leisurely stroll since time didn't permit much else and my body was still feeling the effects of the whale's vagina. Here are some nice pictures of the grapes.

If I had more time and energy there were some great 30-80 mile loops going out of Napa that I would love to explore. Maybe I can do it on one of these next time...

Rumor has it that the single speed world championships will be in Napa next year so maybe I'll have a chance to do more exploring then.

Look for a post about the travel bike very soon. I plan on showing why I spec'd it the way I did and how it packs up for easy travel.

Friday, September 7, 2007

whale's vagina?

no Ron Burgendy, Mt. Diablo is not German for whale's vagina. It is Spanish for Devil Mtn. On Wednesday I was determined to conquer the devil. In the spring the devil was victorious, crushing my will after a long day of 6+ hours in the saddle.

From the first turn of the pedals I knew Wednesday's ride was not going to be easy. I was not to be deterred though and I continued on my journey. This would be a 70 mile vertical assault and already my body said no. Maybe you should listen to your body...

I had the map and had ridden most of the route once before. The route is in San Leandro/Diablo/Walnut Creek and is beautiful and mostly void of cars. Here is the route map.

It is well worth riding if you find yourself with time to spare in the area. Just don't be surprised if you are crushed by the wale's vagina.

C'mon, that view was worth 80 miles of suffering, right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

excitement of the chase

I'm not usually eager to travel for work because lately it has meant time away from the wife, friends, bicycle, and normal routine. But this morning I woke up extra early with my travel bike packed because I anticipate a nice 5-6 hour ride around the hills of San Leandro, Walnut Creek, and especially Mt. Diablo! Work is taking me to Napa Valley and along the way I am going to punish myself with some serious altitude and great views. I'll post some pictures, route details, and travel bike pictures later this week.