Archive for category 2011
I actually got to ride my bike today. She’s quiet again and shifts like a dream. Glad I took her in.
The shoes. They fit well. A pair of Shimanos, because they were on sale and had my size (admittedly not the best way to choose cycling shoes, but it was the best way I had time and money for). In a perfect world I’d have at least a few days to get used to the fit and dial in the cleat placement but I don’t so, you know…
I don’t have much else to say right now. I’m ready for the workday to end and for the weekend to begin. Here’s a little pre-Fondo walk down memory lane:
At lunch yesterday I ran across town to pick-up Eva. When I got there the guy working the shop said something like, “you sure sounded keen on the phone.” And yeah, I did, I was anxious to get in a couple more rides before we leave on Friday. Back at work I rode the bike from my car about 30 feet to the bike locker – that counts as a ride, right? Later I rode the 30 feet the other way.
At MadCat I also picked up a new pair of cleats to replace my well worn pair – the old pair were worn to the point that the felt loose on the pedal. It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. So, early this morning I tried swapping out the cleats and found one of the bolt holes on my left shoe was stripped out. After an hour or so of fiddling and troubleshooting I realized I was never going to get the bolt threaded into the shoe.
Three days until Levi’s Gran Fondo and now I need to buy a new pair of cycling shoes.
Preparation for this ride has been a comedy of errors. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll actually get to ride my bike.
I dropped Eva off at the local bike shop yesterday. They promised to overhaul or replace the bottom bracket and have her ready for me sometime today. Taking your bike to the shop 5 days before a big ride isn’t ideal, but I’m pretty sure a creaky bottom bracket all the way up King Ridge would drive me and the other 7500 riders crazy (or, at the very least, drive Sam crazy since I plan to sit on his wheel pretty much all day…shhh…don’t tell him).
My plan had been to continue to bike commute through Thursday, just to keep my legs primed and ready, maybe even go for a short spin on Friday when Sam and I arrived in Santa Rosa. The trip to the shop doesn’t ruin everything but it has me a little anxious.
I’ve decided to distract myself by obsessively checking the Saturday forecast in both Santa Rosa and Jenner to get an idea of what conditions are going to be like. Right now, it looks like it’s going to be nice, but I’m not convinced.
Even the best plans laid plans…
This weekend Sam and I were going to head out for a 65 mile jaunt. It didn’t happen. Instead we rode 15 miles and drank beers. On Sunday, I went out alone and dragged myself up as many hills as possible.
A couple of weeks ago I set aside time to replace my chain, adjust my cables give the drivetrain a thorough cleaning – all in hopes of avoiding an additional expenditure I couldn’t really afford. Everything went well except that this morning I rode to work and found that my bottom bracket – I think – is making a wonderful creaking noise. So, a little later I’ll call around and see if someone doesn’t have time to give it an overhaul (or replace it) before Friday. The lesson we should all take from this is: never let me work on your bike.
I’ll spare you the long explanation. Instead I’ll let you think about as you watch me pedal past you at the intersection and try to move your foot from the brake to the gas.
The first one to the red light has to wait longest.
It’s time to start planning. Obviously, the hotel is booked, the registration is paid, the bike is prepped the legs are…well there…but now it’s time for the details. Who is going to bring the beer? What are we going to eat? What time will we leave? Will we ride the gravel section?
It’s actually that last question I keep trying to answer – some people think I should talk to Sam about it.
Gravel sounds scary (I’m pretty sure it makes my wife nervous) but having ridden Levi’s Gran Fondo the first year when gravel wasn’t so much an option as it was “the way” I can say that it doesn’t make me all that nervous. No, I figure the gravel will be less crowded and, since Willow Creek Road bypasses a large section of Highway 1, more pleasant (you can read that as saying there will be fewer cars).
I’ve been googling Willow Creek Road trying to get a feel for how long the “dirt” section is and really haven’t found much except for the little offered at the Fondo page and this tidbit in an article on cycling in Sonoma County (links to PDF):
When I descended Coleman Valley Road to the coast, he says I could have gone up Highway 1 for a spell before turning right onto Willow Creek Road, which features an 11-mile climb away from the coast that loops back to Coleman Valley just outside Occidental. The route becomes a dirt road at one point but is pretty smooth and is popular with road cyclists, Keene says.
I thought about tweeting @levisgranfondo to ask for some more detail, but those guys are probably busy.
There’s also Coleman Valley Road to consider, my enemy. This was the year I was going to vanquish the beast! Though, unlike many others I saw, I’ve never had to dismount and walk my bike up Coleman Valley Road it has always lead me to question my commitment to cycling up hill – I think the first year I said something like, “I never want to do that again,” at the top.
I’m ready to do more, at least a little, than just survive Coleman Valley Road.
But, Willow Creek Road, which doesn’t appear to be a significantly easier option, bypasses the beast and robs me of the opportunity to yell something profane at the summit of the Coleman Valley Road Climb.
What to do?
If you have an opinion drop it in the comments (they’re moderated, but as long as you aren’t a jerk or SPAM I’ll approve it).
Making plans to be at Interbike & then actually getting there & affording it are very different things. One does not simply show up to Interbike and walk in. You have to get a pass, either as a vendor, exhibitor or attendee and they are not gotten very easily either. I had developed some pretty good relationships with some local bike shops as a coach & was able to get a pass. Getting there required some creativity also. I blogged about that story over here on my website. Additionally, there was no way I could afford a hotel stay for the whole week there. I connected with another USAC coach who was an exhibitor there & in return for helping him at his booth & advertising for him he would pay my hotel. It turned out to be a great mutually beneficial arrangement.
After losing my job, getting my coaching license & pursuing other cycling-industry related jobs I knew that going to Interbike this time (I’ve gone twice before) would have a far more focused effort as I would be going not only to secure sponsorships for my team & myself next year but I would also be going to hopefully drum up some more employment possibilities as well as network. As I stated in my Day 2 post, this year’s Interbike was already showing the fruits of that labor. I was amazed however, by how exhausted I was after only two days. I woke up that morning wondering if this is how New Yorker’s felt after all the walking around I’d done. I had even earned myself a few ‘battle wounds’ of blisters on my feet.
I spent the majority of the day at Andres’ booth for Athlete Forward . He offers a very unique alternative to the traditional on-line platform for bringing athletes and coaches together in a web-based communication tool. The main differences between his website and others that are in wide use now are a more user-friendly dashboard, more versatile, better/more control by the coach as far as how/what work-outs are given, much more affordable & also offers some features that give visible snap-shots/graphs for week-at-a-glance training goals versus actual progress.
As an aside, we found it odd that they had a large section of Interbike in the downstairs section of the Sands convention center & so many people didn’t even know there was a downstairs section. Although it was mostly filled with general fitness & triathlete related vendors, it still didn’t get anywhere near the amount of traffic it probably deserved.
It’s starting to look like I’ll log my 3000th mile of the year during Levi’s Gran Fondo – as long as I get out for a ride this weekend, which is sort of required. I put a new chain on Eva the other day. New brake pads too. There’s a cable and housing set on my work bench I meant to install, but now it seems too close to the event to be messing around with my components, especially considering I, mostly, have no idea what I’m doing. Anyway, at least the bike’s ready.
The official title is Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo but since that’s a monster to type and most people get all tied up spelling Leipheimer (not to mention how difficult it is to tweet about something when the name is almost 40 characters long) we just call it Levi’s Gran Fondo or, though we know it’s not the only one, Gran Fondo, even just Fondo ‘round here. Also, we’re lazy.
Sam and I will be riding Levi’s Gran Fondo for the 3rd time this year – I just realized we’re tied for the record of most Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo finishes – and I haven’t given it much thought since…I don’t know…January? So now, a week and a half from the actual ride I’ve started to think about how I should have trained.
Two years ago 100 miles in one day seemed almost impossible. 100 miles plus 6k feet of climbing (it actually ended up being nearly 8500 feet, but that’s not what was published) seemed exactly impossible. It would be my first completed century – I had crashed out of a rainy, poorly supported century in Auburn that same year. I was worried, a little about the climbing but mostly about the distance and time in the saddle. In the end, it was easier than I’d expected but Colman Valley Road had just about done me in.
Last year I realized that that the distance wouldn’t be a problem. I was out there trying to break any records and I’ve always been an endurance athlete of some type. It was the climbing I prepared for. Hill repeats in 100+ degree heat aren’t fun, but they go the job done. I still struggled up Coleman Valley but I never thought I wouldn’t make it to the top and I felt like I had put ol’ King Ridge in its place.
This year I haven’t worried about any of it. On the one hand, I’ve logged more miles in the saddle than in the previous two years and on the other they’ve almost all been flat and at 8 miles at a time. On good weeks I managed to get in one 30 – 40 mile ride on the weekend and once I got out for a 20 miles on a Sunday followed by 65 miles on Monday. Needless to say I’ve done nothing that looks anything like this:
This year though, I’ve got a secret weapon – no, it’s not an eBike – I’ll be here for the next 10 days counting down to the big day psyching myself up (or out) for October 1. Also, I won’t have to get up at 3:00 am like I did last year…that should help.
One last thing, Mr. Fisher (or any other Fondo staffie who might read this), don’t panic, I’m ready for the big kahuna. I’m in the best shape of my life this year. I could ride forever. I just…uh…might not be very quick.
Not that I ever was.
Let the games begin, or so I tell myself each time I’ve gone to Interbike. I try to prepare myself as much as possible as past history would predict an exhausting week of too much walking, talking, eating & probably……drinking. I knew I would work really hard and play hard. I had, within my arsenal of tools: my laptap, sales rep flyers, coaching brochures, business cards, to-do lists, cute outfits & boots to assure a ‘dressed for success’ appearance. I also had a list of twitter-folk that I was looking forward to meeting. I had already met several the day/night before & I remember thinking when I went to bed after the 7-11 party ‘This is only day ONE!’ I got up early, grabbed some classic-buffet-style-vegas-breaky grabbed some starbucks coffee (because that was the only coffee available on the strip walking toward the Sands convention center) and hit the floor of Interbike right as the doors opened.
Wowzerz……not only was their a multitude of eye-googling bike porn (see below for pics) but I also got to hang out with one of my best guy friends who came down from Southern Utah. I met more tweeps and cycling industry folk, and made sure I had lucrative conversations with all of my/our team’s current & potential sponsors. By the time ‘happy hour’ rolled around, I was definitely ready for it. Interbike is more than just eye-candy, networking, sponsorship securing & job scouting; it’s one.giant.party. It’s loud & fantastically obnoxious with live DJ’s, espresso machines & kegs of beer every afternoon starting at least 3:00. It’s a work hard, play hard bicyclist’s party. The first day was by far my most successful and by the time that night finished I was dreading day 3 & I had blisters on my feet from all the walking around.