Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Ride Of 2008, And Yearly Totals

Nothing special, but I went out for one last spin for the year, just for good measure. No 200k under my belt for December, but oh well, there's plenty of more time to pack in distance.

I set off south, on a familar route I've done way too many times, heading down Lake Washington Blvd. For some reason, I thought I could bust out a "fast" ride as a way to end 2008. But instead of warming up for the first 3-5 miles (as I should have), I went fast out of the gate, holding 18-24 mph into a headwind, averaging about 18.5 mph to Renton. But I felt almost wasted by that point already.. so I toned it down, and took it easy for a few miles.

Here's Lake Wa Blvd (I think) on the south-eastern side of Lake Wa, near Newcastle. One of my favorite sections:

I met up with the I-90 trail and headed east on it, towards Cougar Mountain. Gotta hit it up one last time for the year.. there was a "little" debris left over from the big snow of the last few weeks:

And as I got further up the hill, at about 800 feet, I saw what I really came for, a snow-lined road:

I guess you could say that the few cars that were driving this road were less than happy to see a slow cyclist chugging up the hill at 5 mph.. but what else is new. Being squeezed a bit into the lane by the snow/ice was interesting, but not too scary.

In January I'd like to do "The Alps" 200k permanent, a route that sounds like I'd love it. And one that would be a good measure of my overall fitness. So maybe I'll start doing that permanent monthly, and can hopefully track my (forward) progress throughout the year. We'll see.

Yearly Totals

I've been tracking my yearly totals this year, you can find the spreadsheet here.

Total Distance: 12,497 km (7,764 mi)
Flats: 11 (half of those were on that one 600k!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So Much For Permanent #531 Today..

Right about now a few randos are rolling east from Mercer Island, starting the Mercer Island-Redmond-Orting permanent*, and I'm supposed to be with them!! But I'm not, I'm home..

Here's what happened: As I walked out my front door, ready to ride to Mercer Island (this was at about 7), I realize that my dynohub-driven front light isn't working!! (And we'd be finishing at night, so lights are kinda required). What's weird is that I gave my front wheel a few test-spins (to light up my light) in my apartment, as I always do, and everything was fine.

After fumbling with the wires for a while, and cursing the recent change (removed rear light) that had almost certainly caused this, 10 minutes were lost and I couldn't fix it. F*ck!

Having been spoiled by the glow of my Schmidt E6 halogen front light, I was hesitant to grab an old (battery-driven) LED as a last resort (mine are pretty weak), but I broke down a pawed through my "collection" of bike parts/tools, looking for something I hadn't used in about a year.

By the time I found something I could use (and those silly batteries), it was well past 7:30, and I just gave up. Guess I really am spoiled by the E6 light!!

I've only got one ride under my R-12 (one brevet or perm a month for a full year) belt, so I suppose bailing on this ride isn't a huge deal. There's always tomorrow to do a different permanent, but I can't get the paperwork done in time..

Although it would have been fun, and with a great group as always.

Check Mark's blog, and Robert's blog for accounts of all the miles and fun on they'll have on this ride.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On The Road Again

Well the snow has finally melted enough to get out there! That is if you don't mind riding a little more left than usual, given that there's still a few inches of snow/ice on the side of the roads.

So I went out for a spin yesterday, figuring that if I stick to main roads they'll be more or less cleared up. 

You can see how messy some of the side-roads are (this is Thomas st) - unrideable on a road bike:

But the main roads are bare and wet, just how I like 'em:
Waiting for the bridge in the U-district..

Bryce Lewis (fallen cyclist) memorial on Eastlake: 

12th Ave, up near 75th St:

Today (Sunday) I went for another ride. While the snow is still melting, I'm pretty sure the I-90 trail is out of the question (which cuts out the Mercer Island option), and that the Burke-Gilman trail is probably in a bad condition as well. So I headed up north again, via 12th Ave, Roosevelt, and 180th/Perkins.

The Pacer on Perkins, way up in Lake Forest Park:

Icy Burke-Gilman Trail - I rode on it for about 25 meters before deciding it wasn't worth it..

Now headed back up Perkins Way/180th - lotsa snow:

Heading south:

A snowy shoulder up north:


So the year is coming to a close, and my mileage stands at 12,417 km (7,715 mi). If I do a 200k permanent on Tuesday, I'll still be short of 8k miles! Oh well, I guess it's just an arbitrary number anyway.

The plan for next year is to do around the same amount of miles, or less - but at a faster pace. We'll see.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowbound, Impatiently Awaiting Studded Tires..

The other day I got tired of not being able to ride (due to snow/ice everywhere), so I broke out the Pacer (with slick 25's on it, I'm sure you can see where this is going) and set out to see if I could make it to the store, just a few blocks away.

After a few tentative turns of the pedals, I was rolling! Sometimes sliding sideways, as the road was a mix of packed snow and ice - seems like they aren't clearing the roads at all around here. Well it was fun while it lasted..

A photo of 12th Ave on Capitol Hill (from Thursday):

After heading north on 12th for a block and thinking "I can do this," I turned around and headed towards the store. Mistake. I should have walked in the first place, but a bike addict just doesn't know when to put it down I guess..

So yeah, I bit it, but not too bad - did kind of a head-first baseball style slide in the snow. Nothing broken, and the bike was OK.

And in the end, I turned the bike around and rode down the sidewalk (about a block away from home at this point, I didn't get far) resigning to the fact that these slick tires just won't do in these conditions.

And there was about 10mm of snow packed between the tires & fenders post-ride (of 100 meters):

So I ordered some Nokian A10 studded tires!! They'll be going on a fenderless Miyata 312, and I'll be running it as a fixed gear (less crap to get snow on and/or freeze). This is gonna be fun, if those tires ever show up.. now I just hope the conditions stay like this until these tires come in, so I can give 'em a shot soon.

Hope everyone's having fun in the snow! Be careful out there..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Shimano 3N80 Dynohub & Another (Partial) Wheelbuild

Word of Shimano's new 3N80 dynohub has been out for a few months, and I finally found it online, so I just had to put in an order. It was supposedly lighter than both the Schmidt & older Shimano dynohubs, and cost just $50 more than the 3N71 that I already have. Plus I wanted to do another wheelbuild, and this was the perfect opportunity.

(Unofficial) Dynohub weights*, prices

Shimano 3N71: 735 grams (Peter White says 680 g) ($90)
Schmidt SON: 575 grams ($200+ for the SON28)
Shimnao 3N80: 490 grams (~$145)

The weights & prices were googled, so I'm not sure of their accuracy. But if those weights are correct, I'm dropping a half-pound off my current front wheel (Open Pro with 3N71), and thus off the bike! Of course it would be cheaper to lose, say, 5 lbs (2,267 grams) off the engine.. but of course that takes time and dedication.

I'm not sure of the efficiency of this new 3N80 yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting trying it out! And no matter the exact weights, it's not like 100 grams is really all that much..

The Wheelbuild

This was my second attempt at putting together an Open Pro rim, a Dynohub, 32 spokes/nipples together, in the "triple-cross" lacing format. (Using this book as a guide)

For some reason I thought that since I put one together back in March, that this time around would be a one-hour affair in which everything worked out.

And due to my overconfidence, I put about four spokes incorrectly (I did every 3rd rim hole instead of every 4th), which meant I had to undo them and start that part over.. Well, at least I can file those extra minutes under "Experience."

Eventually I got it put together, but it was two+ hours by that time, way over how long I'd expected.

Then I proceeded to get to the hard part of wheelbuilding, truing/etc. (I don't have a dishing tool, so I knew I'd be taking it into the LBS anyway at the end). Even with my truing stand it was a task, but I got the rim to go from a wobbly mess to a clean looking rim.. Except for that radial tension wasn't set correctly, so when looking at the wheel from the side it looked really wobbly.

And as much as I tried to get it all the way true, I just couldn't do it. After taking it into the LBS, Lloyd the owner informed me that they keep the rim true raidially while building the wheel, and then true laterally.. so I was doing it backwards. Thanks Lloyd!

* As a point of reference, a Ritter Sport chocolate bar is 100 grams:

Those Ritter Sport bars are really good fuel, by the way!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hills & Chills - The Lake Washington Loop In December

Today I did a ride I've done probably more than any other - the Lake Washington Loop. Given the snowy forecast, I was definitely hoping to see a few flakes along the way!

There wasn't any snow (or rain) as I rolled out from Capitol Hill, and headed towards Madison St. It was about 31F as I started, and the temps were only headed down. Sure, this isn't anything like the hellish weather of the midwest, but bad enough to keep most cyclists (and people) inside.

Out of the five other cyclists I saw in the 50 or so miles I did, probably four of them were local racers. It also seemed like it was one of those days where everyone you pass is going the opposite direction, so there weren't really any "rabbits" to chase. But I set out with a goal of keeping a "decent" speed, whatever that means. (In the case of this ride, it means anything above 15 mph average)

My choice of gear was: Ibex merino wool base layer shirt, SIR short-sleeve wool jersey, Ibex wool knickers, wool socks, light booties, ragg wool gloves/mitts, bellweather liner cap thingy, and my latest and greatest weapon in the fight against the elements: the Marmot dri-clime "wind-shirt" - my new favorite clothing item.

The Marmot jacket is more of a wind-breaker, but it's also waterproof - at least so far. If anything I was too hot a few times! While I haven't tested it out in hours-worth of rain, so far it's been good on commuting and recreational rides.

I didn't bring a camera, figuring there wouldn't really be anything of note to get a snapshot of. But I was wrong, as Newcastle and surrounding hills had been lightly dusted by snow from the night before. Besides that, I only saw a few flakes of snow up north, when I was climbing up Juanita Way.

My new Ostrich handlebar bag worked well; I think it'll really allow me to carry more on future big rides.

Ride Stats

Distance: 52 mi (84 km)
Total time: 3:39
Avg speed: 14.2 mph
Max speed: 37 mph
Total Gain: 3,565 feet

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eastside Tour: Bellevue, Issaquah, And Tolt Hill

On Sunday I headed out with a rough route idea in mind: Renton, Issaquah, Tolt Hill, and... possibly back around to Seattle via Renton, which would have easily been a 90 miler.

But it was way later in the day than I would have wished (1 PM), leaving me with about 3 1/2 hours of light outside. Which of course isn't really an issue with the dynohub and all, and after a summer of a lot of riding at a night (and sometimes through the night!), darkness is something I can deal with, and sometimes even enjoy.

So I set out anyway, to see how much ground I could cover before I felt like calling it a day. The roads were wet, but it wasn't raining - yet. I brought enough gear just in case it did, and my new booties did well to withstand water.


Lake Washington, as viewed from Lake Wa Blvd: (heading towards Renton)

Kind of boring, but it is what it is - Rainier Ave near Renton:

Now heading out of Renton, I took a pit-stop. Note the new rack and "handlebar bag" (actually a Carradice saddlebag) - I'm loving it so far!

From Renton I headed north on the Lake Washington Loop route, using the I-90 trail to head east to Issaquah.

Behind-the-back shot on ? road, in the Sammamish/Issaquah area:

Now heading down Issaquah-Fall City Road, a destination in itself.

The Pacer near Carnation, on that one little stretch that connects Hwy 202 with Tolt Hill Road:

Up to the point that photo was taken, I hadn't really done any serious climbing besides Black Nugget Road (which is hard, but only lasts a few minutes). Now it was time for Tolt Hill road, a hill climb I used to do all the time, and have done a few times this summer (once on the 100k "Issaquah Alps" populaire).

But after having done at least 10 passes over the summer, and doing Cougar Mountain countless times, Tolt feels way different now. Not necessarily easier, but it's been put in perspective. (Which begs the question, where's the local pass that will put Blewett/Stevens/Cayuse in perspective? I'm sure the next brevet season will offer plenty of opportunities for finding this out!)

After blazing down Tolt, I was on 202 for a mile or so, and then took a left on 244th Ave SE, which is a dandy of a little climb. Pretty steep at first, but it didn't last that long. On the plateau I went through what I suppose is "downtown" Sammamish, and enjoyed another downhill on Inglewood Drive. 

From there I took a left on E Lake Sammamish Road, which was flatter than I'd remembered. Even though it was dark by now, the views of hillsides covered with lights weren't bad. It wasn't raining anymore, and I was just cruising around, enjoying life at the moment:
  • I wasn't lost
  • Wasn't missing a control time
  • No mechanical issues
  • Nobody was waiting on me, and vice-versa
  • Not sick
  • Not cold or wet
Sometimes it's nice just to enjoy the fact that things are going OK. It helps when you've had all of the above happen to you, as we all have I'm sure. For me the best moment is when I can just point the bike in one direction and "go," with no worries.

And this was luckily a worry-free ride. The last little climb up Madison St & John St to Capitol Hill were quite the end to a decent stint in the saddle. Definitely good training for next year's adventures.

Total Distance: 76 miles
Total Gain: ~4,500 feet
Map w/ photos: here

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seattle To Everett And Back

I felt a tad ill this morning, so I "called in sick" (actually it was just an e-mail) - but by 11 or 12, I was feeling good. So why not just play hooky? It'd been a while anyway. The sun was out, and though it was about 38F outside I really wanted to ride! So I set out at 12 PM to see how far north I could get before it got dark. (Which is at about 4:30 PM these days!)

I rode the Ciocc for the first time in a while, it's still a great bike, of course. A lot stiffer than the Pacer it seems, although the "racy" position it puts me in isn't as comfortable as the Pacer's more upright setup.

Some Photos From The Ride

The Ciocc & I-5, just north of Seattle on 185th St:
The first sign for the Interurban Trail, in Lynnwood (on 76th Ave):
One downside to the Interurban trail up north is that it gets broken up almost ever mile it seems - and while there are mostly signs to point you in the right direction, some of the signs are in weird spots or faded beyond recognition. Maybe a DIY touch-up job is in order?

Start of Interurban trail:

Nice part of the trail:

Tiny offroad section of the trail:

View of the Cascades & Everett (I think):

Now heading back to Seattle - due to a mix of navigation skills & dumb luck, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be! Highway 99 heading south:

Heading on to Aurora-proper at sunset:

View of The Mountain from the U-District:

OK, this one is really blurry, but I like the colors. This is looking west off of Capitol Hill:

Now at home, on Broadway: (which has sharrows finally, by the way):

Start Time: 12:00 PM
End Time: 5:10 PM
Distance: roughly ~110km, based on this ride

In other news, I'm shooting for about 8,000 miles this year, which would be the most for me in a year so far (last year was 4-6k). Right now I'm at 12,091 km, or 7,513 miles for the year!

Interestingly, I've "only" ridden about 160 rides this year, and will probably finish with about 180 rides in total. (Average right now is 46 miles per ride). You can see the details on my rides log.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Little Mountain Tour In The Fog

So it was Sunday, and it was foggy, essentially misty outside. Time to break out the Pacer (w/ full Honjo fenders of course!) and go for a spin.. to my favorite stretch of road in the Seattle area, Cougar Mountain.

At the start of the ride, heading east on John St, crossing 23rd ave. (Came back up this way as well which was really slippery! I had to sit to keep my rear wheel from spinning)

After a screaming descent down Madison (which is almost always slowed by autos), and a quick right on Lake Wa Blvd takes you to one of the best roads in Seattle:

Now heading up to the I-90 trail:

I love this little downhill on Mercer Island:

Now crossing into Bellevue:

Riding through the Mercer Slough area - always a bumpy ride. I kind of hate this section.

Time to climb... but after having always done Cougar Mtn in a clockwise direction, I wanted to try something new. Plus riding up the 54th St side is really slippery on a wet day, like this one. So I took a right up Lakemont Blvd, off of Newport Way: (goes up for a mile or two, with some 10%+ sections)

One of the downsides to going this direction is that it's less scenic than the other way - after 10 minutes of climbing it still looks like:

After going up Cougar Mountain Drive(?), through the fancy housing area, past the school at the false-peak, and the bonus climb (another 15-20 minutes of climbing, and a little descending), I came to this beautiful, but scary hairpin on Cougar Mtn:
(I went around that turn suuuuper carefully!)

After passing through Issaquah, and doing the Tiger Mtn loop, I turned back towards Seattle, via May Valley Road - another nice one:

Now heading west back to Seattle near Factoria, with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

It was a great ride. I think I was the only person out in short sleeves & knickers that day, but my wool baselayer + wool SIR jersey were plenty to keep me warm! (And the Sealskinz gloves were great too). 

OK, so I might have been pushing it a bit with no sleeves - anyone else in denial that Winter is definitely here?