cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

October 2009
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October Mileage
Filed under: rides, mileage, record keeping
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:35 pm

A bit spotty this past month, to be sure.  Started slowly, and then was out on my back for a couple weeks with a flu.

When vague lucidity returned, I did manage to get the Quickbeam rigged up and running again, which was especially good as the Hilsen’s replacement crankarm from Ritchey seems to slip on the splined bottom bracket spindle. Nothing like a slightly out of alignment crankset to get your attention. To their credit, they wanted it back immediately, which means Homer is currently one-footed.

Cobbled together 140 miles on the bike, almost all of it in the last four days. Got out in beautiful weather today and rolled around on a nice loop for a couple hours.  It felt long, but good.  Really, really good. 

Even with a week and a half gap, snuck into yoga for 7 sessions, though a couple times I think all I managed was mewling kitten pose.  No running. Lotsa coughing and sleeping at odd hours. A  5 day span with only a total of 3 meals, more ‘cuz I was sleeping through it was wasn’t hungry when awake.

But, y’gotta get one of those out of your system now and again.  At least I rode today. 

2009 Bikey Miles So Far - 3141

and a Happy Halloween to you!

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On the Road Again
Filed under: general, bike tech, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:05 am

Through a quirk of the calendar, 4 months to the day after someone popped their truck door open at
precisely the wrong time, the Quickbeam headed onto the
roadway again. After a frame check to make sure that nothing structural got bent or damaged, followed by attaching new handlebars, brake levers and stem (all replaced out of pocket because I’m still waiting for the other driver’s insurance to
settle up…), and another saddle swapped over, the bicycle seemed ready for duty.

Yes, I did set the brake cables using an underwrap of hemp twine, shellacked with, uh, shellac. (An intervention may be necessary, as I’ve observed before.)  Left the barends open, so they can take a core sample of anything that impales itself upon them. (I thought I had a set of Velox bar plugs - hell I know I do - but couldn’t find them before the ticking clock of “gottagetgoing” chimed…) Don’t think I’ll need to tweak the setup too much, but didn’t want to jinx it by wrapping everything into place. Commuted and did a short
errand after work, reminding myself again why I like this bicycle so
darned much.

Specifically -
It was great not to coast again.
It was great not to have to shift.
I really, really like the Jack Brown (Green) tires.  Had them set at 65/75 psi and they felt like velvet.
Having a front bag (the L’il Loafer) that fits exactly on the rack (Nitto Mini Front) makes my heart sing.

It was funny, the bike I rode most recently before this was the Zeus, which is nothing if not an acquired taste.  The frame is smallish - in the way we all downsized frames back in the last century - and between the lightish, standard gauge tubing and the significant leverage provided by the moustache bars, the bicycle flexes without hesitation under load.  With the 650B (584 bcd) tire conversion, it has the low stance of a badger, and the head angle and fork rake combine to give it a unique trail. The first mile or so on the Zeus are a lesson of correction, finding the combination of position and input to let the bike move the way it wants to.   Since I was using that more frequently, the idiosyncrasies became normal.

So, getting back on the Quickbeam took a little adjustment again - mostly to get used to a bike that acted entirely differently, but much, much more trustworthy.   Four months without riding this bicycle has been a travesty, and it felt wonderful to enjoy the cool sunshine of late October, pedaling, pedaling, pedaling the whole time.

Coasting is a Pernicious Habit

2010 Brevet Schedule
Filed under: general, brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:28 am

Nothing like considering long rides when you are finishing up a month when you’ve been on the bike a grand total of three times.  But, hey, optimism is born of denial, eh?

Here in non-Northern California, as the Chico-ians like to call it, we’re blessed with four active clubs putting on brevets. This gives us no excuses for rides in excess of 100 miles. There are no less than 24 brevets on the tentative calendar, which can be found here.

So, what are you still doing looking at your  computer, anyway?

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Now, Where’d That Week Go?
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:36 pm

At this rate, October may not end up on the “big mileage” side of the balance.

Last Monday, I had that sinking feeling of not being quite right.  Took note of a couple of sharp coughing bouts, which reminded me that at o’dark thirty the night before I’d bumped around the medicine cabinet to find a cough drop or two  because I’d coughed myself awake. I finished everything that needed to be done, headed home and by 5pm, had decided that a brief nap sounded like a good idea.

Which I guess it was, because it lasted until about 2 pm the next day. Dizzy, achey, chilled-to-the-bone, sweating-through-countless-t-shirts.  Coughing. Not hungry.  Ripping headache from caffeine withdrawal was just an added bonus.

Sounds like the flu to me. 

Which meant that the cool kids got to play yesterday at the Lion of Fairfax, and then again today on the SFBA(TNRNCIIN?)* Rivendell Ride.

The Lion had been an iffy proposition at best - speed and/or running work a thing of theory so far this fall.  Still, it would have been a good excuse to run around with a bike for 45 minutes or so. Oh, it would have hurt.  Kind of like using the wood stove for the first time in the fall - you manage to burn your fingers and singe your eyebrows and that slaps a bit of respect back into your brain.   In cross, there’s nothing like that time-warp of “Holy Eddy!  This has been going on a looong time!” and then realizing that you are just finishing your first lap.

Unlike life, cyclocross is only painful for a specific, discreet period of time. One of its great design tenets.

According to the Eastern Bloc cycling coach voice in my head, once the cold/flu is in your chest, you don’t press it. So, any idea of racing was nixed early on.  But, I was hoping to at least show up and ring a cowbell for Gino, who was in town and had signed up. Watch the power of Chico played out on the fields of Vernon “Lefty” Gomez.  

Alas, I was too spinny to safely wield the bells of cow.

I kept hoping that I’d shake it and could limp along for even part of the Riv Ride.  This was actually the first planned ride in the area which had been pulled together by the RBW Owners’ Bunch Group.  Since I’m more or less involved with that group, it had been something I was really looking forward to attending.

But, by Saturday midday, it was pretty clear that just sweeping the back patio had taken all of my kitten-like strength, and I had to email JimG and Gino to admit that I wouldn’t be showing.  When I lamented that out loud, my wife gave me that “you really weren’t even considering beginning to sort of conceptually think of doing that, were you?” look.  (I have noted before that she’s a bit smarter than me most of the time.)

Which means that here on the 18th of the month, I’ve ridden eactly twice.  Not quite 50 miles. Whoo-hoo!

On the good side of things, one of the stratospheric cable channels was running “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten”, which I caught most of.  Which was pretty great. But I don’t think that was until Thursday or so.  Which is when remember getting a little hungry, finally. I think I read Dan Brown’s new book in there somewhere, too. My time line is pretty outta whack at this point.  In fact, everything is pretty outta whack this past week.  I’m just gaining enough coherency to begin asking myself what the heck didn’t get done this past week. Which ought to keep me busy this week….

Just hoping to start slipping some easy rides back into the schedule.  So, here’s to rides yet to come!

*San Francisco Bay Area (Technically Not Really Nor-Cal Is It Now?) Rivendell Ride

Post-Partum Depression
Filed under: general, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:59 pm

I’ve finally figured out that I get depressed when I break bike parts.  Maybe  that’s overstating things a little.  I mean, it’s not like I’m weeping-in-the-streets depressed, but nonetheless, it bugs me.  I don’t like seeing the parts break. 

Certainly things break.  And the recent crank failure appears to be a sub-spec part, so it wasn’t operator error.  However, there’s a distinct lack of alternatives, and that’s pretty much my own damn fault. My combination of sloth and deferred maintainence kind of caught up to me.  And that gets me clearly depressed.  

Let me explain - I’ve mentioned this axiom before:
“As the number of bicycles increases, the chance that none of them will work correctly increases exponentially.”

Which means that when a wheel on one bike isn’t quite true, you tend to start using the next one, which then develops a bit of toe-in error and squawks whenever you squeeze the rear brake.  So, you leave that one hanging in the garage - certainly meaning to get back and spend a few minutes with the wrenches to heal that up - and use the next for a while. 

In my case, I’d been riding the Quickbeam until my forward motion was rudely interrupted by my index finger coming between me and a suddenly-opening truck door.  That bent up the brake lever and bars well beyond repair, tweaked the stem and saddle rails and introduced me to the glacial-molasses world of insurance reimbursement.

Since the Hilsen  was looking for use, once my shoulder and neck would allow it, that became my main ride. 

Now, I did figure that I’d get the Quickbeam up and running again once the broken and damaged bits were replaced. (And, just to divert briefly, the other driver’s insurance company has been decidedly mute on paying off my damage. Hey, it’s only been 90-freakin-days!!!)  So, maybe my sloth is a little off the hook on that one…

But, before I decided to try out the Brooks Swift on the Hilsen, I had been moving saddles around a bit, and had pulled the B-17 off of the Dawes fixed gear. Which meant it was dutifully awaiting its next assignment while brandishing a naked seatpost.

My geared hardtail mtb has a variety of issues - rear wheel, drivetrain, ratty cables - most of which have been multiplied by disuse and the removal  of pedals sometime during last year’s cyclocross season.  In fact, the geared mtb has been used so little, my most-frequent ride buddies have actually never seen me riding it.  This is both comedic and tragic.

(And is starting to veer a little off-topic as well.  It’s just meant to put a couple of asterisks next to the players on the scorecard - to see the ones who are nursing injuries. )

With the snapping crank of a week and a half ago, that pretty much left me with a set of mostly unrideable bikes.   Oh, the Zeus is still plugging along, and it’s been my local errand bike reliably for a while. But, there is something in the back of my mind that troubles me when I’m relying upon a twenty…no… thirty year old bike and components of somewhat unknown provenance.  I tend to treat it with the respect and fear that demands. 

The last horse in the  barn is the Bridgestone MB1SS.  Which, by virtue of its singlespeedyness remains reliable, generally capable of being run hard and put away wet.  But, there too, the gremlins of entropy chew greedily upon the tendons of hope.  The last few times I’ve been out on the trails, there has been the relatively infrequent slip of the freehub, the tinny and thin alarm sounding the beginning of pawl death.

Now, it isn’t that I can’t fix these issues (well, except for the Zeus, which will only - hopefully - continue to grow older).  But, free time has been at a premium this past month, and riding rather than wrenching has been the course I chose.  And, if the folks at Ritchey Logic had suggested that the whole crankarm thing would be something other than a replacement, I would’ve pulled the other arm, swapped out the bottom bracket, slapped on the Sugino XD2’s that have been sitting in a box since the C. Xavier Hilsen project, and either swapped the 48T ring from the Ritchey or dropped the front derailleur down for the 46T on the Sugino, and I would’ve been good to go.

And I’m hoping to get free for a couple hours this week to head across the bay, drop in on the folks in Walnut Creek and pick up the bits I need to get the Quickbeam out again.   That bike deserves to be on the roads and trails, and I’m missing the steady silent rhythm of riding fixed.

Even writing about getting those bikes going has perked me up a bit. (And I do think I’ve been fighting something this last week, which generally doesn’t help one’s outlook.)  No telling what a little bit of time and energy can do.

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Today Is Livestrong Day
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:33 am

Got an email from Lance Armstrong today.  Because it’s an anniversary of sorts. Of course, I realize that thousands of other people probably got the same email, but it’s important enough (and easy enough) to take the small action requested. 

I had a pre-existing condition

Dear Jim,

Lance was denied insurance when he needed it most. Sign the petition and tell Congress that no one else should be.
Today is LIVESTRONG Day. Thirteen years ago today, my doctor told me I had advanced testicular cancer. What most people don’t know is that at the time, I didn’t have health insurance. In the following weeks, I received letter after letter from the insurance company refusing to pay for my treatment. I was fighting for my life—but also for the coverage that I desperately needed.

The legislation currently being debated in Congress is not just words on a page—for many cancer survivors, it’s a matter of life and death. Now, as this debate enters crunch time, I need your help to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to any other American:


No matter what side of the healthcare debate you’re on, I believe we can all agree on two things:

No American should be denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

No American should lose their insurance due to changes in health or employment.

Will you sign the LIVESTRONG Action petition to make sure any legislation includes these two critically important reforms? We’ll deliver these to Capitol Hill this month as the debate reaches its climax and make sure our voices are heard in the debate:


When I received my diagnosis, I was between cycling contracts. My new insurer used the diagnosis as a reason to deny coverage after the new contract was signed. Fortunately, one of my sponsors intervened. At their insistence, I was added to their insurance company and was able to continue my life-saving treatment. If my sponsor, a powerful company, had not gone to bat for me, I may not have made it.

I was lucky. We can’t rely on luck to ensure coverage and treatment for the millions of Americans affected by cancer. Some cannot get coverage because they’ve already been diagnosed. Others get calls from their insurance companies saying they have been dropped. It happens all the time—and it’s unacceptable.

Every year on LIVESTRONG Day, we come together to take action for a world without cancer. In the U.S., a critical step is to make sure cancer survivors can get and keep their health insurance.

It has been 13 years since my diagnosis, but in some ways, not much has changed. No person should have to worry about health insurance while battling cancer. That so many do is an outrage, and we must speak out.

Please sign the petition and forward it along to your friends and family:

Lance and the LIVESTRONG Action Team
P.S. Don’t forget today is LIVESTRONG Day. There are more than 1,100 events taking place to raise awareness about cancer all over the world. View our interactive map to see events in your area:

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September Mileage
Filed under: general, mileage, record keeping
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:13 pm

Kind of a wacky month, and during the last week, the impetus to ride piffled out like air from a balloon with a pinhole leak.  Ahhh well, mostly for good reasons - birthdays (two - my wife’s and mine) - a couple of studio recording sessions, some high-value voice classes/get-togethers, engineering, yoga and random work hectic-ness.

The happy-dance news was that my annual total mileage notched over 3,000 miles.  Not an overwhelming number, but it seemed rather “milestone-ish.”  Got there on a relatively meager 268 miles on 14 riding days.  The riding seemed to come in fits and starts this month - went well in the first week, wrapping up a ride-per-day string that started on August 29th and continued through September 6th.  Then almost nothing but short errand hops for a week and a half.  Longest ride was a mixed-terrain ride of about 50 miles, then after the great crank snapping, I woke up feeling more tired than I should have and decided to underdo things (like, do nothing) for the last week of the month. 

Stayed steady with yogo, with 8 sessions.  No running.  Gino’s gonna skitter away from me in Fairfax in - wholly crud! - 2 weeks, and there’s no way in heck that I’m going to try McLaren Park this weekend.  Nope.  5 or 6 times up that pitch and I’d be coughing up lung…  As Bill Murray once astutely explained in Stripes, “….I’m pacing myself.”

2009 Bikey Miles So Far - 3001