Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gran Funk Ephrata

stupid blooger/google/Mac/ipad interface. 

Well, it's been a few weeksa month, over a month, but less than a year since the 2017 Gran Fondo Ephrata. The good news is I finished and my time was better than the unicyclist! And my bike didn't break down. And I got a Dusty's Cheeseburger afterwards. And in a first, somebody may have drafted off me on the road to Palisades!

Not really any bad news, even though my time went from 6hr 10mins the last time I did it, to 7hrs 27mins this time.  Well hey, the course was 6 miles longer this year because it had to be re-routed due to road closures.  I figured I'd be a bit slower as I didn't get out on many long rides beforehand because our winter lingered on forever, but not that much slower. My getting-into-near-fondo-shape plan consisted of climbing the stairs at the 17 story Paulsen Center during lunch, and at least one 25 mile bike ride. And a 4-5 hour meandering fat bike ride in the snow at Riverside State Park.

Cutting to the chase, here's my Garmin of the Gran Fondo Ephrata 2017.
Here's the quick glance version:

A couple weeks before the ride I came across One Up's 42t Sprocket x16t combo - the 16t replaces the 15t and 17t on your 10-speed cassette and you add the 42t. In my quest for lower gears, that seems like the ticket. I almost ordered it, or a wider range cassette, but decided it was too late to play around with changes. Also almost ordered the Maxxis Re-Fuse 40mm tires, as they look smoother than the Kenda Flintridges on my Vaya. Looked like the course might have more pavement this year, but again decided to stick with what I have. The Kenda Flintridges roll fairly well, and have many miles left on them.

(more TireTalk diversion: why doesn't WTB make a 700c Horizon? Excited for Clement's new 50m X'Plor MSO tires for the Fargo. No to the supple Compass tires - Don't trust their sidewalls or tubeless tech, their 700c not wide enough.)

Here's some of the 200-250 riders at the start.  Usual assortment of road and cross bikes, some mountain bikes, and more gravel oriented bikes and tires this year.  I should've started an hour or two earlier with the unicyclist.

Instead of climbing up into the hills at the start on the northwest end of town, we were escorted on the canal road towards the Southwest end of town.  Which meant we rode past the old homestead on C Street where I grew up.  We used to skate in the canal in winter, throw rocks across it in the summer.  My sister drove my folks up to the bridge to see me off:
Hi Mom & Dad!

After a few miles on the canal road, we turned onto Martin Road.  Hit a little wind and gentle rollers and my legs said oh we're not going to go that fast. People passed me left and right.

not completely last at this point, but off the back as they say
My legs and lower back were aching for the first 2-3 hours and then settled into a tolerable level of numbness and uncomfortableness.  (First thing I did after I got home was order a shorter stem, and raise the seat height to get more leg extension. I think I lowered the seat too far last year; and been thinking of a shorter stem for awhile.  These two adjustments probably just put me back into the same position as before {LAUGH OUT LOUDLY}, but it does feel better and at least I'm getting more leg extension..)

After Martin Rd, we rode on the outskirts of Quincy, and then to Overen Road - part of the detour and a new road for me.  Fun to ride, it connects to about the mid-point of Baird Springs Road.  Missed riding the whole downhill.  Love going too fast downhill.  I usually make up a little time on Baird Springs and I pass riders, but most were further ahead at this point.

The tunnel at the bottom of Baird Springs Rd.

Below, this is maybe the infamous Stuhlmiller Rd, which gets lots worse. This year as I passed riders fixing flats on this section, I smugly said to myself "glad I'm riding tubeless."  And then hoped I didn't get to test my tubeless setup.

A couple riders from the Moses Lake Bike Shop, good guys to ride with.

After this, the battery in my gopro died.  I had run it as video off and on until sometime on Martin Rd, then took random pics after that.  I had two extra batteries, but I hate to stop and never replaced it.  I could've used my phone, but that would've required stopping and digging it out of my pocket.

(camera talk sidebar: new point and shoot in the house: Nikon Coolpix A900 to replace my old bulky Coolpix. Didn't research the A900 much, and was interested in the Panasonic Lumix ZS50 at first but some reviews influenced me against it.  Probably crappy photos but oh well.  Great thing about the size of the A900,  ZS50, and similar flat, rectangular shaped point and shoots, is they fit in the Revelate feedbag.  Will be easy to reach in and pull out for quick shots on the fly. And it's wi-fi/bluetooth. I can get real good to great shots with my iphone 6s, but the little cameras have more options and better zooms without having to use up phone battery life.)

After Stuhlmiller, we turn on to Hwy 28 for the stretch to the Palisades Rd where there is a supported rest stop.  This stretch seemed to take forever, and I was getting hungry.  None of the treats I carried in my frame bag seemed appetizing.  Finally, made it to the turn to Palisades got my fill of cookies, mini gyro rolls provided by Pita Pit, small PB&J, fruit, more cookies.  I rested a bit, more than I usually do, and admired a light turquoiseish-blue bike laying on the ground by mine.  It had WTB tan sidewall tires, maybe Horizons but I didn't look close enough. (See 1st Martin Rd pic above - went thru the vid and found it).

And I got a Coke. Prefer Pepsi or Dr Pepper, but I'm not complaining just glad to get a shot of sugar and caffeine.  I'm going to start carrying pop on all my longer rides, as I start craving it after a few hours.  I started out the Fondo with coffee in a small hydroflask, and thats has been helping lately, too.

So, now I'm plugging along on the road to the Palisades, and I hear a bike behind me.  They don't pass.  We ride along a bit more, and still they don't pass.  Wait, are they drafting off me?  Maybe because there's somebody on my wheel, I keep a steady and little quicker pace.  I figure out they're not really drafting, just riding the same pace. Eventually, the rider pulls alongside me, we exchange greetings, and ride together for awhile.  Her riding partner/group is back a bit, and we pass each other off and on the remainder of the ride.

Eventually, we get closer to the Billingsley Ranch, and a support vehicle pulls up alongside me. He's picked up a rider and their bike, and asks me how I'm doing.  Oh, great, tired and aching!  I realize he's checking to see if I need a ride in, and just how far back I am.  No way, I'm going to make it!

The Three Devils hills are next and I make it up the first couple, but in a first for me, I stop and walk up the last long one.  Oh well, I heard you can conserve energy by walking up a hill instead of struggling on the bike.

Cutting this short - Finally make it to Sheep Canyon Road.  My sister and parents never got my message that I was going to be later than I told them, so they are up there looking for me.  Mom, being a mom, asks her late 50's son if I want a ride. No way - I am not going to skip the super fun Sheep Canyon downhill.  And it was a blast.

<Insert abrupt end here> ok I finished, and got my Dusty's cheeseburger.  Well worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Positively, Most Sincerely,

it's a foto dump!

I made the mistake of accidentally updating our old MacBook Air to Sierra, and now can't find photo files to load into blogger. So now I'm on my iPad (oh and now I'm back on the MacBook after uploading pics) and it's a little sketchy with blogger and also not easy to edit and upload. I was able to get some pics from this winter uploaded to blogger.

There's a 2-way bike lane on the left, and the street is one-way towards you viewing it. The city plowed snow piles on both sides of the street because of weight restrictions on the bridge.  I biked the wrong way to get to work, and got yelled at by a city worker.  I had ducked out of the way in between the snow mounds when I saw his car coming from around the bend.  I yelled back. "fookoff, I know what I'm doing!"

We've having a good winter.  Nettleton Street on one of the lower snow level days.

Side streets were the worst this year.  Usually during winter we'll get a few days here and there that are difficult biking, but this year it was tough for a good chunk of the winter due to the heavy snowfall and freezing.

Speed or style - can you have both?

This is on the Centennial Trail past Kendall Yards - we had a good snow the day before, but somebody (probably Kendall Yards/Greenstone builders) plowed the trail all the way around the bend. Thx!

good snow biking this year!

holiday crafting:

Professional chip repair in progress:

My Marin Muirwoods came with thick decals that were starting to peel off so I finished the job with liberal applications of Goof-Off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

110BCD 48/32 crankset

I'm usually happy with my Vaya's 2X10 48/34 and 11-36 gearing. Certain rides, like last years Midnight Century that almost did me in, have me dreaming about lower gearing for those Big Rides with Hills and Then More Hills.

(Speaking of the MC, I finally looked at the official unofficial results, and I finished 14 out of 25 finishers that signed in! I was sure I was almost last. I thought there were more ahead of me - there might have been that didn't sign in).

Searching for lower gears is easier than actually getting in shape, and building strength. What I need is a 32t, or better yet a 30t.  I searched, but no 110BCD option found for a single 32 or 30 ring. Checked my bike, got the ruler out, did more research.  Ohhhh...maybe 32 or 30 isn't possible.

But wait! I ran across a post on Bike Forums that mentioned some bikes like the Specialized Diverge & Sequoia that have a 110 X 32.

FSA has a new Omega MegaExo 48/32 and 46/30 (but maybe it's not really 110BCD) . One problem - doesn't seem to be available yet, or is OEM only.  Oh well, I'm not sure about BB compatibility.

Luckily, there're more brands working to help riders like me. Praxis is mentioned having a 48/32, and Compass has more options at $435 which is more than I want to spend. And somehow I overlooked White Industries VBC (Variable Bolt Circle) rings.

I'm going to look at these options closer, and in the meantime start climbing stairs on my breaks and/or lunch.   Paulsen Center, here I come!

Monday, January 16, 2017

I went for a garmin...

  Here in Spokaloo our ground is covered in many inches of snow, but a big meltdown is on the way including 2" of rain in the forecast.  Saturday I took my fatbike out while there was still snow to ride over, thinking it could be my last chance this winter for a good local snow ride. I was off work sick mid-week and still not feeling up to par; I finally left the house around 1:00pm on the venerable Pugsley Neck Romancer.  It's set up up for commuting with front and rear lights, which I almost took off.  It's under 20F and I'm wearing jeans over smartwool thinking I won't be out too long. No time to put on the gopro, so I hope I don't have any epic wipeouts or get chased by coyotes and miss getting it on camera.  As I head out I see I forgot my trustworthy Garmin Edge Touring. My phone is out of the way in a back pocket of my jacket.  This ride will just have to be undocumented!

  I told Debbie I'd be gone a couple hours at most, just ride to Albi/Merkel and tool around the flat area between the ridge and Aubrey Parkway that is part of Riverside State Park. And I stick to that plan. At first. The first half of the Merkel Trail I'm on and off the bike. Foot traffic has carved out a very narrow path and I'm having trouble staying on it due to a combo of my great bike handling skills and the front tire's delayed turning response.  It wants to keep going straight when I want to turn. It's all worth it though when I make it to the downhill section leading to the flat area. A fun little spin, I try not to get going too fast.

  On flat ground, the trails have been carved out by walkers and skiers. It's prit near perfect snow biking. After a bit I end up at Rifle Club Rd and the north edge of the flat area. The plan was to turn around, head back on a few different trails, but instead I hop on Aubrey Parkway and ride to Seven Mile Rd. It feels good to ride on the smooth packed roadway and keep a steady speed. I need to build up some endurance, anyway, in case there's a gran fondo in my future. At the Seven Mile bridge I can turn around, but I'm so close to the Centennial Trail and Riverside State Park across the river I just have to go check it out.

  I turn off the road at the new parking lot by the old airstrip and hit the trails. Whoa, these trails are great! I can't tell you exactly what route I took, but it went from Trail 25 (of course) to a 2-lane trail, looping out and around and ending up at the Wilbur Trailhead. This was some of the best riding I've had out there - none of that slogging through deep unpacked snow that makes you want to quit snow biking. I pull out my phone and see it's 3:30. Hmmm, have an hour or so of daylight left, maybe I should head back.

  I could either take the Centennial Trail to the Bowl and Pitcher to home or ride back the way I came. I decide to go back the same way, since I wasn't sure what condition the Centennial is in further down the trail. Back on Aubrey Parkway, my legs are starting to feel it, and it's not as easy pedaling as on the way out. My hands, inside a wool liner and 4-fingered gloves, are getting cold.  I'm wishing I had got those insulated pogies. My feet, even inside light liners, wool socks, and winter boots, are getting tingly.  If I had my garmin with me, I'd know what the temp is.  But it's not a life or death situation, as I'm riding past some nice houses along the river inside city limits.

  "Just a couple hours at most".  Yep.

  I have to walk up most of the Merkel Trail and can't stay on the bike for more than a few feet at time. It's a long fricking haul. Somebody really needs to widen this path, and I try a bit with the fat tires. Finally, I make it back to the start of the Trail behind the baseball fields and it's getting dark. I'm glad I kept the lights on the bike!  Just as I get out my phone to text Debbie, she texts me to see if I'm ok. Yup, just about home. She tells me the Seahawks game just ended and there are a lot of idiot drivers out there. Luckily, the sidewalks by the Naval Reserve and/or VA Hospital on Assembly are plowed, and when they end I cross the street and head through the residential section to get to Wellesley. A few more blocks and I'm home.

  It's after 5 when I get upstairs and plop down on the couch. I think I overdid it.

Edit: Monday, my nerve endings are on fire, 9F outside, but I think I'll head out for a quick ride. Just an hour or so.