July Bike Roundup

Yesterday was a big day for cycling in Denver. First was the New Belgium Urban Assault Ride, which was an absolute blast. If you’ve never done it, I strongly suggest you give it a shot next year. I don’t know how the winners opened up 30 minutes on Nate and I, which will give us a shot to make up some time for next year.

The plan was to take off from the UAR and head to the 42Below ride to meet the crew riding from NYC to LA and get some free stuff, but we never made it that far, instead hanging out and having a good time at the UAR. We also ran across a criterium going on south of downtown.

It’s now been three months since I’ve driven to work. My totals for the year are 121 days biking to work, one day running, and seven days driving, for a non-driving percentage of 94.57.

In weather news, the average daily high temperature is finally declining. On top of that, it looks like we’re going to get through the summer without any 100 degree days. Awesome!

No turning back now

Yesterday afternoon, I signed up for the Denver Marathon, taking place on Sunday, October 18, 2009. My goals are as follows: do it barefoot, and finish under 3:30. I hope to do this with 110+ miles a week on my fixed gear (just through daily commuting), one fast run, and then one long run each week. The long runs will be on weekends starting June 13 or 14 (since next week is the Elephant Rock century ride). I hope to do Niketown runs each week on the order of ~5 miles for my speed runs.

I have the photos from Saturday’s BikeDenver metric century ride mostly sorted, but Garmin’s software has me unable to get the track for the course loaded, hopefully that will be fixed tomorrow.

Finally fixed my bike

My Bianchi San Jose has finally been fixed. Yes, this one:

After a few weeks of enjoying the simplicity of the singlespeed, I finally went and bought a track cog that works with my existing chain. I swapped it at the bike shop half way from home, and enjoyed my first full fixed-gear commute this morning. It’s easy to keep pedaling when you don’t have a choice. I went with a 15T cog, and I think the 42/15 ratio is perfect, especially with the slicks (rather than the slow, loud, knobby cross tires that came on the bike). Fun, fast, and easy to ride. I wore my HR monitor on the ride in, and came up with 677 calories burned on the ride. When I add in whatever the afternoon number is, I’ll have to eat over 3700 calories a day just to maintain my weight – and that’s on days I don’t run.

As of yesterday afternoon, my commute has more than doubled for the summer (from 4.75 to 11.25 miles each way). The route is the same as I took last summer, except it’s 5 miles shorter. Unfortunately I’m forced off the ideal, fastest route (bike paths through a park for a couple miles) and on to a road with lots of low-visibility intersections thanks to FasTracks construction that ‘s been dragging for the past year.

My current bike to work percentage is 92.39%, as I’m still recovering from driving during some of those big storms. Hopefully that won’t be necessary this fall. On the upside, I’ve already biked to work 84 times this year (and ran once), whereas my total last year was a mere 80 days. Of course I didn’t start until bike to work day last year, but by the time bike to work day rolls around this year (Wednesday, June 24) I’ll already be past 100 days. If I can keep from driving to work 5 or more times for the rest of the year, I’ll be able to hit 95%.

It’s gonna be a long weekend

Nothing particularly interesting is going on right this moment, it’s just 10:30pm and I’m wired. I’d rather listen to Pandora for the next 4 hours than go to sleep.

The half marathon is on Sunday morning, starting at 6am (wtf!). My ipod is ready to go, playlist and order set. Hopefully it works out for me. I’m feeling pretty good about the race and fairly confident I’ll break 1:45.

Saturday morning, I’ll be climbing Cristo Couloir on Quandary. Just a fun, mellow couloir climb with what promises to be a fun descent. With any luck, the road will be open to the dam, saving half an hour of walking on a dirt road in ski boots.

Tomorrow I’ll hopefully get my new tires in my hands for the Bianchi. I’m looking forward to getting less rolling resistance. I also think I’ll need to replace the freewheel, as the stock one appears to suck. A lot.

Plans are progressing for Rainier in July. I expect great success and a hell of a story to tell in the end.

Goodnight.

And away we go

The final preparations have been made. The car is packed, I said goodbye to Scout for the week, and the weather is getting ready to clear. After years of dreaming and months of planning, it’s finally time to go. A 1,300 mile drive followed by less than 10 miles on foot accompanied by 10,000′ of climbing and we’ll be there. The schedule:

-Tonight, head to Steve’s for dinner, tie a few prussiks, load up the truck, and catch a few hours of sleep.
-About 4am tomorrow, hit the road. This will put us at Longmire a few hours before sunrise so we can rest and get ready to climb on Wednesday.
-We’ll hit Muir on Wednesday.
-Thursday we’ll take it easy, and wait for the weather to clear out.
-If all goes well, Friday is summit day.

I’ll be updating here and twitter from my phone as time, signal, and practicality allow.

Building the Gear Sled

This is something I’ve been going back and forth on for a couple months now. A gear sled is not entirely necessary on a spring ascent of Rainier, though it certainly can’t hurt. Without it, I’d likely have 50-60 pounds on my back during the trip from Paradise to Muir, which is over 4,000′ vertical. That’s a long way to carry a heavy load; since I bought the sled months ago, I decided this weekend that I would build it up.

After work today I stopped by Home Depot for some sticks of plastic pex tubing (3/4″ OD which I cut down to 6′ each), nylon rope (1/4″), and bungee cords. Construction actually went pretty quick. For the connection of the rope to the sled, I used a figure-eight follow-through, fed the rope through the tubing, then tied three overhand knots on the other end of the tubing to keep the rope from feeding back through. I finished it off with a doubled figure-eight with a couple biners for attaching to a harness. I was surprised at how quickly it went, maybe 30 minutes total build time. I intended to get PVC pipe, but I’m glad I went with the pex. It’s far less brittle, and will work as well or better than full-rigid rods at controlling the sled for the downhill.

Scout helped, and here you can see most of what’s going to get piled onto the sled before I leave.

Three days from now and I’ll be on the road. Holy crap!

In All Things, Efficiency

As some of you may know, yesterday was “Earth Day.” I was only reminded yesterday after seeing some ads, references to it, and other assorted BS. One thing I’m glad I didn’t see (at least on my normal route) was more bike commuters than usual. I made it downtown after work for some bike hooliganism and saw a ton of bikes, unfortunately I can’t judge if it was a normal amount of bikes (I’d hope so, as it wasn’t that many) or if it was inflated due to single-day feelings of “saving the world.” I’ll probably be back down there later to see if it’s the same (and I hope it would be, it’s so nice and warm out now). Here’s hoping everyone out there was biking because it’s how they always get around, and not just because NBC’s green peacock told them to.

It’s unfortunate that there are only a couple days a year that there’s a substantial push to get people to consider biking instead of driving. There are big pushes towards very complicated, expensive, and anti-industry “save-the-world” measures right now, when all we really need is some efficiency. For power, nuclear – nothing else is as clean and efficient. For transportation, bikes. No gasoline, 9’x19′ parking spaces, or 12′ lanes required. Less than five miles, and you’re probably faster by bike. Clean air, more efficient use of space, increased fitness, what’s not to love? That there exists an “anti-bicycle” push is absurd. As far as everyday things go, there’s little more pro-freedom than the bicycle.

Finally got a new Foreman

A few months ago, my old George Foreman (which served me well for years) met its end. Scout had jumped up on the counter, likely to plunder the delicious meat and grease remnants from the grill. For some reason she, a dog, was unable to open the grill without knocking it off and ending its useful service life with a very catastrophic structural failure.

Last week, I finally ordered a replacement, this time with removable plates. The most annoying thing about the old one was trying to clean it, which means it usually didn’t get clean – which led to a dog smelling it and deciding it would be a good idea to try to eat it. The one I got is “The Next Grilleration.” Brilliant. It features a digital thermostat (um…ok) and a timer (what?). I tried cooking a burger on it and while it worked without burning the burger, it didn’t get as hot as the old one, and as such didn’t quite sizzle like the old one did. So far I’m happy with it, but the real test will be trying to cook some hash browns on it and see how long that takes.

Mmm.

Disappointment Wednesday

Last night driving home from dinner, I was t-boned by a poor person driving a mitsubishi who decided to blow through a red light and then take off while my engine was dead. I’m ok, as is Scout (though she was certainly shaken up for a while). I was hoping to post about a few other things today but I’m going to be preoccupied for a while. Fantastic, right when I need to be planning things.

Ridiculous!

So we are going into another winter storm, which threatens to actually happen (unlike all the other ones forecasted to slam Denver this year). I turned on the TV this morning to find that damn near every school district in town has called it a snow day…huh? I thought something must’ve been wrong with that channel’s feed, so I checked another channel, and it was the same. A little odd, seeing as how it was practically dry outside, and blue skies were visible. I guess they just don’t want to have to deal with getting a bunch of kids home when it starts dumping. Understandable, though I never got anything like that during my 9 years in the public education system in Colorado. I guarantee that wouldn’t have flied 10 years ago.

I did ride my bike in to work today. It’s filthy now, and will require a hose off. Depending on the snow quality and quantity, I may be able to ride home – or I may be hoofing it. We’ll see. And if it snows like it’s supposed to, I fully intend on making my way to the powder day of the year for bell to bell skiing.