Thursday, June 21, 2007

Using Google Spreadsheets for a Cycling Log

Since I need to keep up milage to train for the 206-mile STP, I've been keeping a log of my rides using Google Spreadsheets. It's a pretty slick interface, complete with graphs and formulas for doing totals and averages.

There are some sites out there that do training logs, but many people still use spreadsheets for tasks like this, and I'm thinking the same thing, simpler is better.

Check out this graph from my cycling log:

(Can't wait to see the 206-mile spike on July 14th!)

Since these spreadsheets can be turned into RSS feeds, mashups can take this data and do all kinds of fun stuff with it! I wonder if any sites out there already do this?

Now it's off to the four summits of Seattle ride, for some climbing fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

2007 Flying Wheels Century - Training for the STP

The plan yesterday was to ride the Flying Wheels 100-miler as training for this year's 206-mile STP (Seattle-to-Portland) ride, which I'm doing in one day. Century riders started early, between 8 and 9 AM, the course a kind of figure-eight that went from Marymoor to Carnation to Snohomish to Duval to Fall City and back to Redmond. The Flying Wheels ride attracts thousands of riders, all of them training for the STP, including me and Dennis.

We got there at about 8 AM and rolled out by 8:30, and our wheels were flying indeed. We held 22-24 mph for the first few miles and passed at least 100 bikers on the first stretch before the first climb, good ole' Inglewood Hill Drive, just off of Lake Sammamish Pkwy. 12% grade for a half-mile, it's not long but damn it's steep! Big-rigs can barely go up it at about 10 mph, no kidding (I almost beat one going up that hill last week).

Going up Inglewood , I felt great - the legs were fresh and nobody was passing me, most were slowing way down considering the grade! I've done that hill a few times, as recently as last week, so I knew what to expect and just how much I could push on it. Made it to the top and felt fresh, ready to go. This was only four miles into the ride, so luckily the lack of warmup didn't hurt me as I'm sure it did others.

The next climb was up Ames Lake Road, just off of Highway 202 out by Carnation. At the beginning I'm out of the saddle, pushing past many folks as the not-very-steep but long (two miles?) climb started. And then my problems began!

I heard a pop, figuring it's just a piece of metal on the ground.. but the guy behind is saying, "I think you broke a spoke." Indeed, I sure did, and my wheel was so far out of true it couldn't even get past the brake-pads... My Mavic rims have straight-pull, bladed spokes that I've always read are a pain to repair/find on the road. And shit, I didn't even have my spoke-wrench!! So here Dennis and I stand, watching literally hundreds of cyclists we'd passed earlier coming up the hill, passsing us.

All I could do was release my rear brake and 'hobble' at 10 mph to the next rest-stop, where hopefully we'd find a mechanic with my spokes. It was torture riding at 10mph descending down Ames Lake Road, having more and more riders pass me!! I should've been pushing 40 mph, blazing, not hobbling on the side of the fucking road!! But I guess that's what I get for not checking my spoke-tension often enough, and not carrying the right supplies and tools.

We finally got to the rest stop, and after 15 minutes of tinkering with the wheel, the mechanic didn't have the right size spoke! Fucked is what I was.... fucked. 15 miles into the ride and I've got an almost taco'd wheel.

So we detoured over Tolt Hill (I'm still hobbling this whole time) and back to Marymoor park. In total we did a whopping 30 miles! So much for a century... god dammit! Big ups to Dennis for hanging with me... next time we'll nail that ride.

Now that I'm not employed by the man any longer, I've got plenty of days to do centuries for fun and training, although not with the thrill of hundreds of other riders on the road with me. So remember kids, always carry the shit you need to fix your ride! Don't depend on the mechanics to fix it for you... I think for the STP I'm gonna carry spokes, an extra chain, everything I need.

[6/23/07: included pic of me before the mechanical breakdown.. I had no idea what would happen only 10 miles later..]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Google Code - Featured Projects: Veloroutes

Going thru the logs this morning, and guess who's site is featured by the Google Code blog?! That's right, Veloroutes!!

Here's the link: Google Code - Featured Projects: Veloroutes

Sweet! Well if they won't hire me then this'll do for now. =]

Monday, June 11, 2007

65-mile ride just for kicks

Not a bad day for a 65 miler! (pic thanks to

Today's route is what I call the 'two lakes loop'. A great route that passes through some of Seattle's most urban areas (Capitol Hill, Renton Valley), and then 10 miles later there are horses in a friggin field (east of Renton). Gotta love the Puget Sound!

The route goes around Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, starting on the top of Capitol Hill, heading south towards Renton on Rainier Ave (lots of traffic, but fuck it, I do it all the time), Highway 900 out to Issaquah (where the horses are), East Lake Sammamish Rd to Redmond, then it's the lovely (and flat) Samammish Trail followed by the Burke-Gilman Trail. We'll see if I can keep my avg at or above 18 mph (today's goal).

Here's the route on a google map.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Four Summits of Seattle Ride - Solo

I did the 'four summits of seattle' ride today, it took four hours and some change. The ride features some of Seattle's major climbs, covering about 35 miles and gaining about 2200 feet of elevation!!

The ride goes like this: up Queen Anne's north side, then out to Alki for the West Seattle climb up to the water tower (via Lincoln/Othello), Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill (up Roy St, the steepest climb in the city, 22% for a block). I start/end roughly on Broadway on the Hill.

I had a personal first of having a car honk at me for a positive reason!! Going down Highland Drive in West Seattle, a steep downhill that's only a half-mile long, I hit at least 45 miles per hour!! Who knew you could do that in the city? At the bottom a pickup passed me and the guy inside it is all, "woo hoo!!" and honking at me! I assume because I was almost going over the speed limit of 45 mph and passing cars on a wee bicycle.

Nice n' Overcast! Welcome to Seattle

Yup, this is beautiful Seattle, and a perfect day for some unemployed bicycle riding!

(see a live version of this webcam on Queen Anne Hill)

Yesterday I did the Tiger Mountain ride, that was fun. What's today? Anywhere I feel like!

My goal for the next month or so is to ride at least 50 miles a day.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Race Report: Carnation Time-Trial Series #3

The race was today, and while I certainly didn't win it, I didn't get last either! Being in a mixed field (cat 1-5 all in the same TT) for my first real race was tough, I certainly can't hang with the folks with the race-tuned bodies and carbon-aero bikes. But my trusty steel Bianchi Eros (and smoker's lungs) got me to the finish line in a personal-best time of just over 43 minutes! (To put that in perspective, the winning time was I think 10 minutes faster)

This is the elevation profile of the TT course (that's big Tolt Hill at the beginning, a 10% grade for a mile):

Here are some pics of the event, held in Carnation, WA:

The parking lot - lots of expensive bikes and serious racers

And then there's me - out to have some fun:

Here I am starting: go! go! go!

I guess I started out a bit too hard, because half-way up Tolt Hill Road I felt the bonk coming on. My legs all of a sudden had nothing, at the exact worst time! Shit! I've done that hill five times and usually I felt strong going up.

When I started to slow down I got passed by the guy behind me, just about at the top of the hill. I didn't even have the energy to chase him; I knew I had to save something for later, since that was only the first hill of the race. I chugged on in hopes of not being passed yet again, but, alas, I was passed again. About five miles later I hear the whirr of a rider next to me, was greeted by 'nice day for a ride, eh?'. Indeed, it was a nice day, but it was a tough one for the ego too.

Here I am finishing in downtown Carnation:

The official results aren't out yet, but from the sheet I saw I got 24th (out of ~30) in the 20-40 age group, finishing with a time of roughly 43 minutes. My previous best on the course was about 45 minutes so I'm glad to have shaved off a few minutes. My average speed was something like 19.5 mph - not bad for a computer-geek!!

A big thanks to my 'support team,' Kira and Dennis - I couldn't have done it without y'all!!

Edit (6.5.2007): the results are posted! 2nd Final results.pdf

My official time was 43:47, and a finish of 25th out of 31 peeps in my division. At least now I know that one of the guys that passed me placed 7th!