Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Just a Bike Race, You Say?"

The New York Times comments on the difficulty of the Tour de France.

Reading reminded me of when people--pretty ill-informed people--ask me if I'd ever like to race in the Tour. This line from the article is pretty much what I tell these people:

“The difference between people who think they’re good athletes and really good athletes is fantastic."

The curse of my life has been to have enough appreciation of whatever I'm into, whether it be recreational or professional, to know how poorly I stack up to those who really are good, and to rather be good than mediocre. It is a kind of damnation.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Saturday, July 7, another mountain bike race. I finished a disappointing third in Sport 30-34 (a total of 14 riders, though I also beat all the 35-39s).

So, I have to take back what I said earlier about these races being hilly time trials with scenery. This race I lost in the turns. I could crank up the hills fine, but I got burned through the serpentine downhill sections. Through nearly every turn I felt like I went in leaning the wrong direction. No "technical" sections as I generally think of the term, but clearly I lost this race for lack of technique through these winding downhill sections.


Monday, July 9, I went riding with Mark and one of his friends on some lovely, but dusty, trails up American Fork Canyon. On the way down I took a jump, watched the trail turn out from under me, and cracked up on the downward side of the side-hill trail. I came up with a clean break to my left clavicle.

My vacation has been decidedly less fun since.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

the promised pics

These pictures really aren't that great. One, I've forgotten how to take pictures. Two, it was a bright sunny day and I with no polarizing filter. Three, it was a bright sunny day and I thought it a good idea to take shots into the sun. Four, I think this lens (the free one) is a little boogered up.

The setting:

The sunlight:

The stupid little hill that did in my chain:

The finishing chute:

The post-race "Huffy Toss":

The Huffy Toss winner got a case of beer.

wydaho racing

Yesterday I rode the WYDAHO Mountain Bike Race at Grand Targhee. My second career mountain bike race, I opted for the intermediate category (there was also a beginner and expert), two laps around a fast, single/double track seven-mile course.

A half mile into the race after a clumsy downshift and subsequent chaindrop, I managed to get my chain all cockeye tied up between frame and small chainring and in my frantic move to fix it, snapped a link in my chain. Oh the fury. I had such a good feeling about this race. Just a half mile into it and I knew this race was mine to lose. And I lost it. Because I can't adjust a front derailleur. (Though, to be fair, this had never happened before.)

Out of frustration I picked up my bike and hurled it off into the woods, stomping around muttering bad words and feeling sorry for myself. Finally, I retrieved my bike and started walking back to the start/finish. Then I noticed my computer had fallen off. Thinking (correctly) that it must have come off in the frustration toss, I went back and rooted around in the underbrush for a while until I found it.

When I got back down to the start/finish they asked me if I needed help and I held up my chain. I hadn't at all expected there to be support for this kind of thing, otherwise I wouldn't have wasted time hurling bikes and stomping bad words. But this dude opens up his little box of tricks and pulls out a new chain which he proceeds to trim down to size and install on my bike. A Shimano chain too, so popping it on took a few minutes.

Anyway, after probably 10-12 minutes of pooping around with all that, I was back on the trail. Way, way behind everyone. But I rode fast, passed well, and despite dropping my chain two more time--drops which required a dismount to correct--ended the race in sixth place (~20 starters), only ten minutes behind the leader, and six minutes off the podium. Frustrating. I could have so easily won.

After the race I stuck around for a prize raffle and won a fuzzy Michelin visor and a really nice Cloudveil windbreaker. There is some solace in materialism.

I also spent some time playing with my new camera. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

goatish summer road trip '07

The Great Goat Summer Road Trip '07 began midday Wednesday, June 27th.


Our great friends the Nagels were finishing up their grand summer adventure, had stayed with us the prior few days, and we were planning to do something of a caravan back west--for them home, for us vacation. Their vacation is documented here.

A rest stop along the Ohio Turnpike:

(Bonus rant: What's the deal with turnpikes? I mean, I understand toll roads, bridges, tunnels, etc. But the PA-OH-IN turnpike is not only terribly inconvenient--too few exits, and exits in weird, inconvenient places--but the road conditions are horrible. And it's crowded. Super crowded. And not only do you pay, you pay up the wahzoo. Shippensburg to the Ohio state line, over ten dollars.)

We stayed Wednesday night in Bowling Green, Ohio with old Nagel friends. The Nagels stayed in Toledo some 20 miles to the north. We stopped outside of Cleveland for dinner and took pictures.


The next morning we leapfrogged our way on to Chicago. We stopped in South Bend to watch them dig big holes to push the old buildings into (probably) and plot our next move.

The Nagels veered into Chicago for the night while we pressed on to Omaha. We tarried in Davenport for a while. A shop owner there has been selling Valerie's wares and she wanted to check it out. I wanted to get in a ride. We rendezvoused here, at the self-proclaimed world's largest truck stop:

Also, in Iowa, there are sunsets.


Friday we spent with Justin and Meghan and boys. I got a nice little ride in on some of the vast network of Omaha bicycle trails. We also ate delicious food. That night Meghan's mom was coming in, so we scurried back to Des Moines to hang with Devn and Abby.


On Saturday we did lots of stuff (can you tell I'm losing steam), some of which included swimming, riding, art festival going, lawn game playing, and--when the Nagels caught back up with us--Guitar Hero.

You can read more about this here.

Sunday/Monday am

The long slog in to Idaho Falls--1,176 miles. We rolled in just after 5:30 am. We slept until the pm.


A million thanks to Justin, Meghan, Issac, Ian, Devn, Abby, Ellee, and the Nagel's LA friends for hosting us, feeding us, playing with us, talking to us, and all of that. Also a million thanks to Harper, Owen, Miles, and their parents for enduring our nonsense and being our friends.

Also of note, Devn, in his typical Devn-ish way, wouldn't let me leave his house without unloading some piece of expensive electronic something or other, and this time I walked out with a new (to me) digital SLR. Cannon D30, so I can swap lenses with my Elan 7. Yesterday, I bought a new battery and flash card so look for some exciting new photography to come. It's going to be fun to start taking real pictures again.

the new ride (complete build)

The build is complete:

I've been on it five times. Nearly twelve hours, 216 miles. I like it.

The fork has kind of weird feel that I'm not sure what to make of yet. When I'm going over bumps at slow speeds it feels really soft, like more is bending than I would like it bend. However, at high speeds--down hills, around corners, etc.--it feels solid, stiff, comfortable. I keep checking to make sure my steerer tube is tightly locked up in there, and it appears to be, so I don't know what to make of the low-speed softness.

But the most important thing is that this bike feels fast! Granted, anything new would likely feel fast, but it's gratifying (and a bit of a relief) that this one does. The Double Tap shifting works flawlessly. The rival brakes feel solid and comfortable. The frame feels strong and stiff when climbing and sprinting. So far, I'm completely satisfied.