Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Year In Review and I Joined the Crazy People

2006 Year in Review

Disappointed that I didn't finish the doubles triple crown races by DNF'ing at Central Coast--but in the other two events--Devil Mountain and Terrible Two--I felt so beaten up by mile 175 that I stopped caring about finishing time. That is why Mt.Tam Double was so cool--fell apart early (came in with injured foot) and rebounded strongly. For that reason Mt Tam was my favorite double of the seven I started this year--and also that I rode whole course with clubmate Don. From last year experience and talking to double's veterans from other clubs--riding a timed double with a someone seems impossible. Don and I also rode untimed Solvang, Davis, and Knoxville together--where we started with even more clubmates but didnt chase early breakaways. On untimed doubles I relax, and get psyched going into the timed events. In 2007 I will not do the two hardest rides DMD & TT as don't want to train intensly over the winter--but plan to hit them again in 2008.

In retrospect after my intensive care accident and daughter's serious surgery--doing any doubles in early 2006 was amazing--hopefully in two years will go into season completly healthy and have no nagging injury problems. But who knows--always suprised as to what goes on.

Favorite moment from 2006.

When at @ mile 175 of Mt. Tam Double a trio of riders wearing Terrible Two jersies 30 seconds down the road, and after telling Don we were going to catch up to them and then pass--we did.

But too many down moments--biggest bust was Sierra Century, a double metric that I love--first course changed, then two tire blowouts and then found out rider had been killed in a run in with a tractor while locals pissed that changed route had tied up the road.

Last 70 miles where I lost it on Central Coast and had to sag in, and when I almost lost it on last 70 miles on Devil Mountain Double. On any ride I did from last year--the Death Ride, Terrible Two, Knoxville, Davis Double, Mt Tam Double--it seemed I finished 30 minutes later than in 2005, when I was always going balls out. This year was too f'n hard.

Another great moment--seeing Doug from 2005 Triple Crown Rookie Crop, finish his first TT and Death Ride--as he gets overly stoked whereas I'm getting a little blase after doing these a few times.. Unfortuantely a few clubmates had their own health issues--so instead of a big frat house up at the Death Ride, we had a reduced team..

Mt Hamilton from the Hard Mines Road side--3rd time a charm. End of October Diablo Cyclist ride up Mines Road to "the Junction"--about a 60 mile, gentle climbing out and back. We started with about two dozen riders--racing to the Junction so we don't have to wait an hour on a long food line. Then Jack, Joe, Sarah and I decided to contine on to the top of Mt Hamilton--the steep side--making it a century with 7,5000' climbing. Early in the year the "bonus mile group" (doubles riders and other crazy folks who don't do doubles but train for them) had started in Walnut Creek and did a 120 miler to the Junction, and a few weeks later we aborted our first attempt to Mt. Hamilton when it started drizzling. Now, with the season ending our bonus mile group dwindled to 4--but great to do on a beautiful October day. My tee-shirt coming off at the Junction. (Ward gets shot of club on early part of Mines Road)

Doubles Recap

(On easier doubles, like Knoxville, 95% of the starters finished, while only 66% finished the Terrible Two.)

March-SOLVANG SPRING DOUBLE (6'800' climbing) Hit by cold rain, lousy support, and 5 flat tires in our group. not timed, @13:35

April-DEVIL MOUNTAIN DOUBLE (18,800') Zoomed through first 130 miles, wondering what the "big deal" was--then every muscle in my body came unglued for last 70 miles. 79th of 146 finishers (17:24)

May-CENTRAL COAST DOUBLE (13,800') Went on hunger strike at mile 90 as sudden inland heat did me in DNF @ mile 161

May-DAVIS DOUBLE (7,400') Usually my least favorite double, twice fallen apart at the end--so funny thing happened while waiting for repeat of the usual to happen--finished feeling great. not timed, @13:31

June-TERRIBLE TWO (16,000') From Central Coast experience cautious at the beginning and heat (100 degrees) and steep climbs on second half conspired to have me rest/ stretch for long times, but I finished feeling good. 102nd of 181 finishers, 283 starters (15:48)

August-MT TAM DOUBLE (14,800') Foot problem had me "bonking" at mile 80 but had a great recovery after mile 120 and finished very strong. First timed double ridden with clubmate. 35th of 188 finishers, 233 starters (14:17)

September-KNOXVILLE FALL DOUBLE (12,000') Hit by car the week before so thigh/ knee killing, but rode with bunch of clubmates and completed my 6th for the year. not timed, @15:00

Ranking Events (diificulty rating, % of Death Ride)


Mt Tam Double (great course--good support) (90%)

Terrible Two (very good course-great support) (150%)

Wine Country Double Metric Century-Santa Rosa (very good course-good support) (55%)

Knoxville Double (good course-very good support) (80%)


Tierra Bella Double Metric-Gilroy (fair course-good support) (70%)

Davis Double (fair course-very good support) (75%)

The Death Ride (good course-good support) (100%)

Devil Mountain Double (good/ poor course**-very good support) (130%) **parts of course beautiful-parts along very busy roads


Sierra Double Metric Century (revised course)-Plymouth (fair course-very good support) (75%)

Tour of the Napa Valley-Yountville (good coursde-fair support) (45%)

Central Coast Double (good course-fair support) (n/r)

Riverbank Century-Riverbank (poor course-good support) (40%)


Solvang Spring Double (fair course-piss poor support) (70%)

Great article by Don on the Diablo Cyclist website >>>click here<<< about the 2006 doubles season and his attempt at 10 doubles. As I started 7 I was on many with him and he provides a little different perspective than my accounts (though our recaps are pretty close.)

Donna summarizes Don's article "When Don is doing good you're hurting and when you are doing good he is not." Actually Solvang (albeit freezing rain) and Davis was fine for both of us and everything finally came together (forgetting 20 miles of foot fracture self-dx) on the last timed double of the season--Mt Tam, which we rode together, which was a blast.

2006 Quotes & Photos Review

Quote of the Year "Jay, Your wife said you were not going to be riding!"--Veronica, rest stop worker at Knoxville, upon seeing me come in 7 days after I got hit by a car.

THE COBBLES BABY--A film by Scott Cody about Paris Roubaix. Years ago Jo-Jo was pimping The Tour Baby, a LAF benefit film by Scott Cody about the Tour de France, actually about Scott Cody at the Tour de France as he plays like Hunter S Thompson and interjects himself into every scene. As not really interested in TdF or Scott or LAF didn't find it that great. So when someone told me The Cobbles Baby was coming to a theatre near me--I really wasn't that gung ho about seeing it even if Paris Roubaix is the hardest and my favorite race and unknown by most people. At last minute Donna and her cycling friends decided to see it, and it sounded like a good idea.

Director Scott was in the theater lobby and turns out to be a real nice guy--so then when he is "stealing"every scene I didn't mind. The movie is actually short so they built an "event" around the film--I ran into Professor Dave who knew that Freddie Rodriguez was in the lobby, and pulled me along to get our photo taken with him. I was decked out in a Museeuw shirt and a goofy Domo stocking cap--Freddie hadn't had the greatest time on Domo but he was gracious as we mugged for photos. I was jazzed as Freddie had been a part of the greatest team (at least on Easter Sunday) of all time. He later told a story that at 2002 P-R he had just ridden hard back to the lead group from a mechanical when he heard that teammate Museeuw was going to attack on the next section of cobblestones. He asked Musseuw to hold off attacking but Museeuw was locked in and shortly started his 20+ mile solo charge to the finish. Later Freddie called George Hincapie to say hi, Domo's arch enemy--I don't think George and Freddie have ever been teammates but in cycling it seems that common national identity is stronger than the team that you're on.

Freddie Rodriguez, Scott Cody, Professor Dave and me. I'm wearing a shirt with Museeuw winning 2002 P-R; Freddie latter indicated he was unhappy at team victory party as he had not been part of the winning move.

Donna had mentioned to Scott that I put cobbles under my trainer--he was jazzed about that and later called me up to tell the audience why I loved P-R. I stammered about how it is the ultimate test of cyclists over a demanding course--later I though about it and the real reason I love watching P-R is that when I'm on a hard 200 miler I sometimes can lock into visuals from 2001-02 P-R and almost channel energy from Musseuw-Knaven etc.

Wish the movie was longer and focused more on the riders not named Hincapie. (But then again surprised that Lancypants wasn't gratuitously mentioned) After all this was Museeuw's last race where he flatted in the lead with 5K to go. You'd never know this. Also Scott missed out on The Forest of Arenburg--the scariest part of the race with the narrowest cobbled road. Actually from the film you almost never know who is leading the race, you just see the riders charge by and Scott racing around back roads in a car trying to see the race from numerous cobble sections. But lots of good behind the scene stuff--like the Roubaix Velodrome--which complements the actual Liggett-Sherwin race videos. The actual DVD has a bonus feature of Museeuw's farewell in a minor race near his hometown which is great.

Thanksgiving Day, 2006-Club ride up freezing Mt Diablo. I'm riding with two people I did most of my seminal rides with in last two years, Don in 2006 and Big Mike in 2005. Its a holiday so I have the bike stereo out, if you look hard you can see the Blaupunkt speaker in front of Don's knee. "Patti Smith-baby"--Photo by Ward



It was just a matter of time. Surrounded by loads of riders in Diablo Cyclists who love bikes and riding. So much so that many of the long time members already did the California Triple Crown--Devil Mountain Double--Terrible Two and now as something different they ride a fixed gear. Of course we have a large contingent that in 2005 did the easiest double (if any are easy), Davis, on fixed gears. Don took that to a new height this year, while riding 10 doubles, he did 3 on a fixed. (This brings me to the "crazy people" story. Diablo Cyclists made such an impression with their fixed armada at Davis in 2005, a few months later on the Knoxville Double another rider spotting my jersey asked me where our fixed group was. Later I pulled into a rest stop and set my bike aside. At the food table a girl saw my jersey and asked me "are you on a regular bike or a fixed gear?" I blurted out "I'm not with the crazy people." Crazy indeed--each hard ride becomes much much harder. Oh yeah--a fixed gear. No shifting. You want to go faster you have to increase your cadence. And something else a tad different--no coasting. You always have to pedal--and on a downhill the pedals take a life unto themselves and spin 150RPM while you have to keep up with them. Riding a fixed gear is the classic off season way to train as it helps build your cadence. Now it is the classic messenger bike.

If 2005 was the year of the "rookie doubles crop" 2007 may be the year of the "rookie fixed gear crop." Cal Mike picked one up--so did Rusty. And now me. "DON/ BRIAN-NO!"-I am not doing Davis on a fixed!!

I decided to ameliorate the "black cloud" of growing old by getting a fixed gear for my birthday. I love when I know nothing about something and can dive in to something totally new. Seemed to be two price points for a fixed--an off the shelf beginner model for around $500, and a $2000+ hi-tech machine for banked track racers. (Actually there is a 3rd subgroup--as fixed gears have replaced the mountain bike as the "in bike" among urban messengers, who go "dumpster diving" for parts and regal in their ability to build a brakeless fixed gear for less than $100--even if the frame has duct tape holding it together.) Besides the cost track machines were out. They don't have brakes and usually brakes can't be added (you slow and stop by going up the steep sides of the track), they don't have water bottle bosses, the bottom bracket is high, and the seat far forward--maybe comfortable on a smooth track but a killer on a road with bumps and ruts.

Another option is the "conversion," finding a frame from the 1960's-70's which has horizontal dropouts for adjusting the chain tension (most new bikes have vertical dropouts) and building it yourself. (Fixed gears need special cranks, and rear hub.) My "dream" was to build up a classic Colnago. But finding a good used bike would take months, and I also remembered that I don't know much about bike mechanics--so I'd be spending lots of $$$$ on a bike mechanic doing the build.

The Sputnik is "more orange" than my orange framed Litespeed. Special orange rimmed rear wheel built for it and special Paul Cranks with suit of cards added.
Basically that left the off the shelf basic fixed gears that most of the "big boys" and lots of independents are now offering. The problem with lots of the independent offerings are that they have bike messengers in mind--no brakes, track like steep angles, 'cheep' parts or heavy steel frames. The major company offerings aren't much better--many aluminum frames on bikes that try to be part track with kinda steep angles in the smaller sizes and high bottom brackets (as you have to pedal around corners higher bottom brackets are good, but incredibly high one lessen bike stability.) Then I saw that MASI was coming out with an ORANGE FRAMED fixed with slacker angles than most. Cool--but two sticking points. Made from basic cromoly metal (like my hybrid) so would be a bit heavy and the fork was steel which I would want to replace. Also, to capture a low price point the wheels and half of the other components were "not the best." I then saw a JAMIS SPUTNIK online (you can only see these bikes online as bike shops usually don't stock fixed gear.) Frame made from better metal, carbon fork--in fact many parts really good.

Only thing apart from the wheels junky--though I have 172.5 cranks on (low bracketed) Litespeed and 170's on GT, the Jamis bottom bracket wasn't high for a fixed gear--and as I don't want to bottom out on turns and the purpose of my riding it is to increase cadence, I'd want to switch out of the 170 stock to 167.5 or 165's. (@ 1/4" less)

Of course timing bad as all the 2006 models sold out with 2007s coming out in a month. Additionally, while the 2007 came down in price, it did so at the expense of the cranks that were now "no name." But almost all other parts still good--basic Ritchey. Luckily, at a bike shop I've used for a year, while they weren't a Jamis dealer, my favorite mechanic was related to one, so he was able to get the bike and then took care of the modifications.

JAMIS SPUTNIK (***modifications)

Frame-Reynolds 631

Fork-Easton EC70 Carbon

Brakes-Campy Veloce***

Brake Levers-Shimano Non Series*** (Should have gotten Black Somas)

Brake Cabling-Animal Non Linear ORANGE Cable***

Crankset-Paul Pure Road Cranks, 46 Teeth, 165mm, Suit of Cards Design*** (Needed shorter cranks and with a few smaller teeth)

BB-Campy Centaur*** (Paul Cranks need Campy BB)

Headset-Aheadset (Yeah-NOT Intergrated--will replace with Orange King one day)

Bars-Ritchey Comp Road Bars

Stem-Ritchey Pro Stem*** (Needed longer stem, painted silver face plate)

Seat Post-Miche Black*** (A work of art)

Front Wheel-American Classic 420*** or anything else I have laying around. (Don't like AC on Litespeed as too harsh--one day will build another Deep V with an ornage King hub.)

Back Wheel-Velocity Deep V Orange Wheelset with Paul Hubs***

Fixed Cog-Surley 17t for 73gi.*** Bike was set up for 86gi. So my gearing now is like having something between 39x14 and 39x15.

Freewheel-Shimano 20t*** (If I flip the wheel for a huge climb-a local ride takes me to the Los Vaquaros Dam, a 2000' 9% climb, which I can barely do in this gear)

Saddle-Selle San Marcos Rolls Classic*** (Matches all of my other bikes)

Pedals-Time Impact Steel*** (Hard to clip in while pedals constantly turn--STOP IT!)

Water Bottle Cages--Orange Velocity Cages***

Bike weight 19.5-19.75 lbs. Had to wait for cranks in production so no fixed gear for Thanksgiving weekend. But ready the first of December-Ian did a first rate job on the build--and looking forward to JUST TRAIN on it. (Donna says I shouldn't delude myself--I'll be doing a double on it.) .

Postscript-Before doing any fixed gear Diablo Cyclist ride I wanted to get some practice in. Donna/I went to Los Vaquaros on the maiden voyge (not counting short rides at night where laughing inflatable Frosty the Snowmen were everywhere.) Sunny but 40 degrees--Donna laughed when I stopped at an unsightly monument with Mt Diablo in the background--perfect for a Fixed Gear gallery photo. Trouble is that I had to strip down to my tank top to get my homemade Diablo Cyclist jersey in the photo. Great ride--only had trouble clipping in spinning pedals if I didn't do it right away. Too lazy/ cold to turn wheel for Los Vaquaros Dam climb (2000' 9% grade) so I did an extra out and back (5 miles) on flat road in Los Vaquaros. Saw my original bike mentor, John, at coffee shop and we sat around and bs'd for a couple of hours. Mid week I got to work at home. Work is cool about this and without a commute I start working at 6:30am, so I can take a 3 hour lunch--another fixed gear ride out to Los Vaquaros.
Finally--the day to put on the doofy over-the-calf-socks and go on a Diablo Cyclist fixed gear ride. A half dozen other crazy people also out. This was supposed to be a Fixed Gear Friendly ride--oh shit--we are going up Bollinger Canyon--6 miles at 3-5% Which of course meant a loooong downhill. Was shocked how fast we made it up the climb as Brian (fg), Steve (fg) and Ward (new Kelly) were bsing and chasing Big Mike/ Joe who were all chasing Don (fg.) Then a little nervous for the downhill--was going to flip my wheel but no one else was was an f'n "E Ticket" ride. Unbelievable fun.. Few times stumbled while clipping in--have to get 2nd foot in before I go over 5mph and cranks windmill and not be ancie by traffic behind or club members taking off. Once I'm going over 5mph I can't clip in. Told that my 73 gear inches a little high for our long/ hilly rides, but frustrated that couldn't keep the speed up when going into the Diablo Blvd sprint (where I try to take a turn and go as hard as possible until our sprinters come around.) At that point I wanted a 53x11. We shall see...

MILES in orange TRAINER MINUTES in black

Suddenly the year really over and even though did MMCCII + 161 miles of doubles (you figure it out) had 300 miles less than last year. But then again I didn't start riding till mid January coming off injury and just stole moments through Jessie's tumor thru February. My trainer minutes ranked as an all time high like 2003 when I was training for all the rides I was scared of--and in 2003 I had my Hybrid Bike with low (48 chainring) gearing set up on a low resistance trainer--not a 53 chainring Road Bike set up on a hi-resistance Kirk Kinetic Trainer. So 2nd best annual total in both road miles and trainer minutes. Nice combo. Plan is to take it relatively easy in 2007 but as I know from the past I'm always surprised by what actually happens.