Friday, March 31

Back in action

Today was a good day. Work went smooth in the morning and about noon the Roto-Rooter guy came up to fix our problem. After initally thinking he would have to come back Monday, I let him cut out the drywall to access the drain plug better, which Marni's dad and I had already planned on doing. He had to break out the drain plug and replace it ($4) and then run the thing through twice but in the end he got it fixed and for only $178! After being prepared for the worst we ended up really excited. He was able to fix the blockage and there were little to no roots in our line! The other blockage (thanks a lot previous people who lived here) was removed and now we can use our shower, washing machine and dishwasher again! Currently the hot water heater is heating back up since it got accidently turned to "vacation" and I'm going to take a nice relaxing hot shower and not have to hurry. I'm so thrilled to have survived this home problem only out a couple hundred dollars and with good news about the condition of our sewer line as well.

Roto Rooter finished up around 2:30 and I called my boss to let him know I was on my way back. He said not to worry about coming back and enjoy the rest of the afternoon off. I took a quick nap with Marni before she had to go to work at Sylvan and then headed out on a ride. I rode the Monocog from my house to Chataqua park in Boulder, previewing the route I am planning to take on Sunday for Super Walker #2 of the year. I did 36 miles of the 60 mile route and felt amazing. I was averaging over 13.5 mph on the singlespeed with 36x20 gearing and climbed up all the hills only having to stand a little. The ride on Sunday will be a lot more difficult considering I did the "easy" 36 miles of the ride but I'm really excited. If I can finish this ride in good shape then I'm definitely ready to tackle White Rim in one day again on the singlespeed. I'm planning on returning to Moab for the journey at the end of April with a couple friends.

Tomorrow Doug, Erik, Michelle and I are going on a nice road ride. I'm heading out early sans car to Doug's house and will be trying out some Ensure Plus for fuel. It's pretty much just like Ensure so I'm hoping my body will react well to the extra 100 calories it provides. From Doug's house we're going to ride out to Carter Lake at an easy pace and enjoy a nice morning in the saddle on some rural roads. The ride should really spin my legs out and have me ready to tackle over 5000ft of climbing on the singlespeed Sunday. That's all for now, I'll bring the camera tomorrow to get some pictures of the ride.

Thursday, March 30

Hit a root block

No post from yesterday, I was busy attending to the drain "situation". I ate more pieces of pizza than miles I rode on my bike, meaning time trial intervals definitely did not happen. The plumber from the warrenty company determined our main line was clogged, probably with roots. Quite a coincidence since our neighbor had a backhoe in their front yard replacing the main sewer line for the same reason. That plumber however wasn't exactly reasonable in their work estimates so I gave him the $45 fee for coming out and sent him packing. Of course this was after wasting 2.5 hours in the middle of the work day so I ended up going in early *and* staying late. Wonderful.

Last night Marni and I investigated our options and Marni's mom and dad came up to help. Jim (Marni's dad) and I had fun crusing the hardware stores in his new Mustang GT and talking about his upcoming retirement from 36 years of service to Pepsi this Friday. Despite not finding what we were looking for we still had a good time. Later that night we decided to call Roto-Rooter since that is who has been helping my neighbor and they've been pleased, at least as pleased as you can be replacing major sewer lines. They are coming out tomorrow afternoon to clean the line and cut out the roots if we're lucky. In that case I'll be out a few hundred dollars for this ordeal and can begin planning and saving for the inevitable. If I'm unlucky and the inevitable is already here, a $5000 main sewer line replacement, then we'll fix it as well as replace our 30 year old furnace and crappy 8 year old water heater with a fancy home loan from our bank. As much as I don't want a payment to replace the one I just eliminated, at least this one will make our house a much nicer place to live and save us a lot of money in utility costs.

My wife says I'm now past denial and anger and am in the acceptance phase of how I deal with these type of things. I'm sure she's right. I'm still pretty stressed about it but it's getting better now that I'm armed with information and not pressed into a making a decision by "crappy plumber #1". Shortly I'm going to head out on a single speed ride to work off some stress and keep me thinking clearly. I'm hoping to fit my intervals in tonight or at least put a few miles on the time trial bike. If my training gets derailed this week though I'll deal. I'll be much happier when this whole problem is resolved and can get back into my schedule then. For now I'm happy just to get on my bike and pedal away my frustrations for an hour.

Tuesday, March 28

Happy Birthday to Marni!

Today is Marni's 24th birthday and she's having a pretty good one. In fact I'm about to go make her a cake while she watches American Idol in her new comfy clothes.

My day however has not been too smooth. I did manage to make it out of the house early. However before I left, I found the leak in our basement under our water heater to be worse than yesterday. We called the home warrenty people and they're coming tomorrow to see what's going on. At lunch I was supposed to meet with David for a ride. He called shortly before we were supposed to meet to let me know he was running a few minutes late. I tied up a couple things in the office and then left 20 minutes later. Unfortunately I cruised up and down Sims for an hour and never met up with him before I had to go back. David I hope everything is okay, let me know what happened! Did we just miscommunicate our meeting spot? After being a bit disappointed at lunch I finished up a bunch of tests in the afternoon. Of course at 4 pm I found out I had to get a bunch of tests done by 9 am tomorrow, right when the plumber is supposed to come, so I stayed late and finished them tonight. After another hour and a half I cruised home on the Monocog, dropped off my work stuff and grabbed my lock. I rode up to the store and got some basic supplies to get us through the week. Marni had dinner ready when I got home and it was great.

So I survived today and let's hope tomorrow goes a bit better. My easy rides today spun out my legs a bit and I'm hoping they're ready for the time trial intervals tomorrow evening.

Monday, March 27

Bring the pain

I don't have a picture today which is okay because you wouldn't want to see what I look like anyway. I suffered through the first set of real hill repeats of the year. I think a lot of people have already started this kind of training but I'm hoping that for me, putting it off another month was the right choice. I've got a long season ahead of me and I don't want to peak until August.

I made a decision this winter to start most goal training sessions tired. This may sound funny but Leadville has at least 5 major climbs, only 1 of which you hit fresh. The others you must climb quickly and recover before the next one hits. To put some hurt into my legs I did a hard hour at lunch on the road bike. 22 miles at 19.5mph average over a hilly course took the snap out of my legs pretty good and the warm up ride over to the Wall after work was definitely harder.

Once I got to the Wall I decided I would do 5 repeats of around 0.75 miles each. I rode from the subdivision at the base of the climb to the bike lane symbol over the crest. All repeats were done on around 5 minutes rest between dodging cars to turn around, descending the hill and looping back to the start. No cheating on the start and rolling at more than 5mph into the climb. All the speed to climb had to come from my legs. The climb is pretty brutal. A 20mph plus uphill start works your legs before it gets really steep and it takes all I have to keep above 10mph. Today I did my repeats in 2:52, 2:59, 3:07, 2:59 and 2:54. I was pretty gassed after each one although I'm a tiny bit disappointed in number three. From now on any climbs over 3 minutes do not count and every time I do another session I have to add one more climb. I'll be hating Jim for that rule by the time I get to 10.

Tonight I'm going to make some potato noodles and take care of Marni. She's reallly happy because she found out she gets her contract to teach Kindergarden renewed another year but it's not enough to overcome her sickness. Hopefully some rest, food and Vitamin C will help her feel a bit better. Not much to do on the bikes tonight except swap the pedals from the road bike to the time trial bike for Wednesday and check the air in the Reba for tomorrow's singlespeeding. David and I are going to ride together finally during my lunch hour at Colorado Hills. Hopefully he doesn't kick my butt too bad on my tired legs.

Sunday, March 26

Super windy Sunday!

My friend Scott emailed late last night about riding at Green Mountain today so I told him I'd join him. However when I woke up this morning the winds were a sustained 40mph and gusting to 70mph. The winds were so bad that every construction sign on my drive to get donuts were blown over. There was even a *trampoline* in the middle of Wadsworth. Needless to say after a couple of phone calls Scott and I decided to postpone our ride until another day.

The terrible winds meant I wasn't all that eager to ride the time trial bike either. Aerobars and 90mm rims aren't exactly the world's most stable thing in the wind. Instead I cleaned the house and prepared for the week while Marni got ready for work at Sylvan. She wasn't feeling good but went anyway, what a hard worker. After she left the winds were somewhat better. I decide to take Turbo to the dogpark for some doggy playtime and a ride on the singlespeed.

Turbo was very happy to ride in the car!
We arrive at the dogpark aka Colorado Hills trailhead. This trail is great! It's a combination of singletrack and double track and there are several different loops to do. None of them are very long or technical so no one drives here for the ride. What that means is that those of us who live near Standley Lake essentially have our own private mountain bike trail. It's less than 3 miles from my front door! Normally I don't drive but I'd rather wear Turbo out on the trail instead of just getting there.
Turbo is ready to go! He hates when I have to put all my gear on but later he's happy to drink from my Camelback.
Doggy friends to play with:
Turbo leading the way up the hill:
Quick descent down to Mower Reservior:
Now the puppy is getting tired:
Time to head back home. Turbo is tired and happy. He was even happier later when I gave him a little steak with his dinner.
When I got home from the ride I finished cleaning the house and then did a little more bike work while Turbo slept by the front door. I swapped out the 120mm stem on the Monocog for a 105mm and dropped the stem down another 20mm. Hopefully this will get the position to match the Fuel's a bit better. I also tilted the SLR saddle nose down a bit further and it's much more comfortable. I don't know what I was thinking before.

My rest week is now over and I'm ready to go this week. Hill repeats tomorrow, singlespeeding on Tuesday and time trial intervals on Wednesday. It's hard to believe I've ridden 3200 miles since September but when I think about how good I feel in the saddle maybe not. Koppenburg circuit race is next weekend if I'm feeling good, otherwise racing starts in ernest April 12th with time trial number one.

In extremely sad news, William Corliss lost his life in a tragic bicycle accident this weekend in Salt Lake City. Godspeed William and my thoughts are with your family and friends at this terrible time.

Saturday, March 25

Is your mama a llama?

Today was an absolutely gorgeous Colorado spring day. Light wind, mid 60s and sunny. Since it's a rest week I slept in until almost 10am and then did a lot of random chores. As such, this blog will have a lot of random topics in it. Now that you're prepared, lets begin.

Step one after getting up and eating breakfast was finishing assembly of the time trial bike to get it rideable. I will be swapping my daily wheels on it and taking it for a spin tomorrow but here she is in yellow glory.
Turbo says, "I'm aero!"
It was so nice outside, I decided to stop taking pictures in the house and moved to the front yard.
After I was done messing around taking pictures of the bike, we decided to wash the car. We want to sell the Civic in order to get an Element so after it was cleaned up we took a bunch of pictures.It's a 2003 Honda Civic Sedan LX 5 speed manual transmission, 32k miles, fresh Mobil 1 oil changes and almost brand new all season tires. If you know anyone who would be interested please send them our way. It will be going on craigslist tomorrow.
Once we finished washing the Civic it was nice and hot out. Marni and I got our cycling duds on and went out for a ride. I took the Monocog and she took her hand me down, too big Cannondale. We went out to the Big Dry Creek trail via Standley Lake. It was really nice out and we were all smiles.
The trail winds over dirt, gravel and concrete through the city and past a few remaining farm areas. We waved "Hi" to the llamas.
We rode for about 2 hours and it was great. My legs feel awesome and I'm totally ready for hard training to begin again next week. Tomorrow I think I'll take a nice easy spin around the lake on the time trial bike and then Monday after work I've got hill repeats schedule on the Wall!

Tonight we're going to have some dinner and watch a movie, Madagascar. If you have ever been to Noodles and Company and want to go again for free, join their Noodlegram promotion and let them spam your (junk) email address for free noodles. Marni and I signed up and are going tonight, plus Marni got another free coupon as well since her birthday is March 28th.

Seriously if you want to laugh, read this MTBR post. I promise it is worth the click through. Why I could not ride my 29er today

Finally we'll end today's randomness with more of the same. Pictured below is the delicious cookies Marni bought that I've been stuffing myself with all day. Also I got some Chamois BUTT'r when I picked up the remaining parts for the time trial bike. Amazingly I've never used any of this stuff so I think it's high time I start.

Friday, March 24

TGIF (Thank god it's fast)

Yesterday I had a great ride at lunch. The sun was out and the hills came and went easily. Riding was *fun* like it's supposed to be. I'm going to take the road bike out today since it's supposed to be even nicer. Hopefully this sun will dry out the mountain bike trails for next week. I'm hoping to do some dirt riding in between sufferfest #1 (2.5 mile TT intervals) and sufferfest #2 (hill repeats on the Wall) to keep me sane.

Last night I worked on putting my time trial machine back together. It started like this:
Then I got the stem fixed, fork reinstalled, wiped it down with good old simple green and it looked like this:
Next I got the brakes, cables and housing installed. Turbo says "Aww crap, not another bike thingy":
I still need another set of speedplay's, I'll have to borrow from the orange bike for now. I could also use another zero offset seatpost so I'll check craigslist for a nice Thomson:
After I got it more assembled I did something foolish. I climbed up on the seat and got down into the aerobars. Damn. I haven't done that in a while. I really need to ride this bike a lot in the next 3 weeks if I have any chance of being comfortable on it. It's long and low! I might also tweek the Ergostem up a little higher to start with. At least the matching seat looks cool, wait until I finish the bar tape and install the tires. This morning I also tried on my skinsuit. After all this training I actually do fit into it again but I'll spare you guys the pictures. Even cyclists don't look that good in skinsuits.

Thursday, March 23

Here comes the speed, doo doo doo doo...

Playing off Dicky's blog this morning. Sorry man you set the mood.

Marni made chocolate chip muffins last night so I was relieved of breakfast duty this morning. Score! Dessert for breakfast is my favorite. This left me some time to work on the time trial machine before work. Cherry Creek time trials starts in just 3 weeks and so far my bike still looks like this:

Actually it looks worse because this morning I pulled the fork off to get the damn expander bolt unstuck from the bottom of the steerer tube. For once I was successful, so later today I'll get a new stem bolt and start reassembling it. I even got some fancy yellow bar tape for $4 to go with my fancy matching saddle. I'm still short at least one tire for the race wheels but I'll be using my training wheels when riding it around in the meantime anyway. It's been a while since I've used my HED wheels in anger and I'm really looking forward too it.

I'm also excited to start doing some speed and hill work. This rest week has been supremely relaxing and I'm itching to get on the bike again bad. I don't think I've ridden to work as fast as I did this morning in a while. It was slightly foggy and I just felt like stomping on the pedals. The weather is supposed to start clearing up today so I'm going to do a quick spin at lunch and start planning the next 3 weeks. I also need to make up my mind about doing a race at the end of April that is insane thanks to a certain blog friend. You know who you are.

Tuesday, March 21

Geek this!

So I mentioned before about the possibilities of the bright light and long run time of LED lights using the Luxeon I, III and V star LEDs. Well I've finally got it figured out and now I'm playing with all the possibilities. There are so many fun ways to use them too.

For Example:
Using a 600 gram 18.5V 6150mAh battery, you could run a 320 lumen 4x3W light on full power for over 6 hours! The battery, LED driver and LEDs cost just $200 too. HID eat your heart (and wallet) out.

Or how about a 120 lumen single Luxeon V powered by a 150 gram (lighter than a bike tube), $25 11.1V 2000mAh battery that lasts for 4 hours! You could also run a 160 lumen double Luxeon III light powered by the same battery for almost 2.5 hours.

There's always the triple Luxeon III light producing 240 lumens and you could power it with a 368 gram, $55 14.8V 4000mAh battery that lasts for almost 4.5 hours.

For the ultimate cheap and superlight helmet mounted light you could power a single Luxeon III light producing 80 lumens with a $13 80 gram 7.2V 1400mAh battery for well over 2 hours.

For the ultimate in battery efficiency for LED lights, a triple Luxeon I system powered by the same 368 gram, $55 14.8V 4000mAh battery as above would produce 135 lumens and run for over 14 hours!

As you can see the combinations are endless so I'll stop there for now. If you want to start building one yourself keep reading. I'm going to assume you can fashion your own housing, do some basic soldering and can source up wires, switches and the other misc parts. If not there are plenty of great premade light out there and you can check out the LED Gear Review to see which one is best for you.

Main components:

Buckpuck LED Driver - LEDs need specific currents so they require a driver to maintain a constant current as battery voltage drops. You could also use a resistor but your light will slowly dim and it's just not as cool. The Buckpuck is ~$20 and you basically need one for each "light" but it can power multiple LEDs. The 1W LEDs use 350mA drivers, the 3W and 5W LEDs use 700mA drivers and the 3W LEDs only can also use a 1000mA driver. LED Supply has the great Buckpuck drivers in 350,700 and 1000mA currents prewired for easy of installation.
The Buckpuck is roughly 85% efficient and requires 2V DC more input voltage than your combined LED forward voltage. For more here is the datasheet.

Luxeon LED - These come in 1 Watt, 3 Watt and 5 Watt varieties producing 45 lumens, 80 lumens and 120 lumens respectively. The 5W lights are much more expensive (almost 4 times) than the other 2 kinds, run hotter and last the least amount of time. However for the most light output with just 1 small light they are pretty darn cool. The normal forward voltages of the lights are 3.4V (1W), 3.9V (3W @ 1000mA) and 6.8V (5W). Again this is important so you can match the total forward LED voltage plus 2V for the Buckpuck to your battery voltage. LED Supply also has all the Luxeon's you want at great pieces here in the USA. You can also get these at Dotlight in Germany or Luxeon Star.

Luxeon I Star Datasheet
Luxeon III Star Datasheet
Luxeon V Star Datasheet

Battery - This is often the most expensive part of the project but depending on what runtime and weight you're looking for you can keep it pretty inexpensive. Lithium Ion batteries are the smallest, lightest and most expensive type. If these are in your budget they are definitely worth the cost. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are the alternative to Li-Ion for less cost with a little more size and weight. Check out Battery Space for a lot of options.

Miscellaneous - There are a few more things you're going to need to finish your light. You'll need some wire to connect everything and some thermal epoxy to fill any air gaps. You will also need some optics to put on your LED. These can be lenses or reflectors. There are tons of options from narrow 4 degree lenses to wide 25 degree or even oval lenses. I'm not sure what the best options are yet but luckily they are cheap so you can experiment with them. I've ordered at least one of each kind to try out on my projects. You'll also need some switches, connectors, a heat sink and of course a housing. This is the part where you'll have to be creative and if you're lucky enough to have a friend with access to a lathe you can make some pretty nice stuff.

You can also find great information on DIY LED lights here on the Singletrack forums. And if you just want to buy some lights already made, check out the LED Gear Review. Good luck with your projects, I'll post mine here as soon as LED Supply gets their new 3 LED optics in stock and ships them out.

Small Victory

Since Marni and I decided to buy our house last year we've been busy reducing all our bad debt. Last Friday I finally paid off my "big" Mastercard bill in full. It's a good feeling to eliminate a monthly payment and a lot of debt all at once. Only a few more smaller debt items to get rid of and I'll be happy.

Not much training news to report. Mostly been eating and sleeping a lot to let my body recover from the past 3 weeks. The weather sucks so other than commuting I'll pretty much be off the bike until Thursday when it's supposed to warm up. I'm sort of hoping to go on a nice mountain bike ride this weekend somewhere and I hope it dries up a lot.

Sunday, March 19

Westminster to Estes Park

Yesterday I did the longest distance ride of my life and completely solo to boot. I've gone 100 miles before several times but never pushed much beyond that arbitrary limit. Yesterday I rode basically the pictured loop with a small extra detour around Standley Lake at the end. All told I rode about 116 miles in 7.5 hours. The trip took me from my house in Westminster along the front range, though Boulder, Lyons and then climbing up to Estes Park at roughly 7500 feet elevation.
My focus was to ride at a pace I could ride all day and get off the bike knowing I could keep riding. Essentially I wanted to go at a pace that I could keep for a 24 hour race. I worked on my nutrition again, using Ensure's every hour in the morning and also eating a Burger and fries for lunch up in Estes. In the afternoon I ate Clif Nectar bars every 45 minutes and took only one gel before a big climbing section near my house. I never bonked or got really hungry which is good compared to my lousy nutrition plan last year at Leadville. Despite keeping a talking pace all day I still averaged 15.5mph including all stops except lunch. I was lucky in that the afternoon storms held off until I was home. The weather was below freezing when I left a few minutes before 7am but by the time I hit Boulder it was in the mid 30s and eventually warmed to the mid 40s. Today I'm going to do a very short active recovery ride on the rollers while I watch the tourney. Next week is a rest week and this time I really deserve it.

In the past 3 weeks I've ridden almost 800 miles and spent over 60 hours on my road and mountain bikes in all weather. I'm in great shape and ready for whatever race season has to throw at me. Just 2 more weeks until daylight savings time begins and that means more mountain biking after work. Ten days after that I'll start the Cherry Creek Trial Series which I'm really looking forward to. I'm hoping we really do get the foot of snow the weather people (PC eh?) are predicting so I can screw around in it on the mountain bikes. Otherwise riding this week will be mostly commuting and easy lunch rides with my coworkers. At least I'll have a good chance to clean the house and start the remodeling of the office.

What's that? Oh sorry I have to go. The shower and that dent in the couch are calling my name.

Friday, March 17