Monthly Archives: May 2013

5-6-7-8-9-10-Now 11 Speed

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

Shimano and Sram are both 11 speed now. Shimano had 11 speed in Dura-Ace last year and now the electronic Ultegra group is going to 11 speed. This tread is a little disturbing, adding more cogs every few years. I have to admit that going from 5 to 6 was amazing, the 6 to 7 was great too. But, somewhere between 8-11, it lost it appeal. I didn’t really get that much more performance out of 10 gears in the back than 9. Yeah, it is nice having a 16 on a 23 casette, but in reality, it isn’t that important.

Sure, the more cogs we get in the back, the less we have to change the cassettes during races. But, what does that take, 5 minutes. It’s not a big part of the race prep and it’s easy.

When the change was 8 to 9, Frank and Mark McCormack left their cross bikes all set up with 8 speed for a couple years after. They said, and I agreed, that the 8 speed cassette shifted better when it was full of mud than the 9 speed. It was the same with MTB cassettes. I wonder if we went back and put 8 cogs back on, would the shifting still feel better with less cogs?

I ran into a guy over at Meniningers in Topeka last week. He was from the country, outside of Topeka, and had a MTB bike strapped into the back of his pickup. He was looking for some trails to ride on. I thought it was sort of weird that he drove up and asked me, since he did have a bunch of questions that were pretty specific and I was one of a hand full of people in Topeka that could answer them. Anyway, he’d went to Dick”s Sporting Goods and bought the most expensive bike there. He ended up with a Diamondback something. I can’t say it was a total waste of money, but it was a gip at 600 bucks. Shitty derailleurs, mechanical disc brakes and 7 speed in the back. He asked me if there were bikes with more 21 speeds. He was using the old “10 speed” lingo. He was shocked that there were 33 speed bikes and I was shocked that they still sold bikes with 7 cogs in the back.

I had planned on using the new 11 speed last year in cross. But I only had one new Dura-Ace rear wheel that works with the 11 speed cogs and didn’t feel it was worth it mixing and matching between 10 and 11 speed wheels and bikes. It has been nice using the same wheels for 8-9-10 speed cassettes. Changing wheels for 11 speed is a real hassle. At least for me. I have a garage full of a pretty great race wheel selection and am not looking forward to all those wheels becoming obsolete.

You know, I’m writing all this and just realized that I’ve been riding the new Shimano 11 speed chain for the past few months and it is a vast improvement over the 10 speed chain. Maybe the cassette will be that much better too?

I do understand that equipment manufactures have to keep upgrading and improving their products. But in this case, it isn’t that big an upgrade in my book. Maybe I’ll be surprised here, you never know.

This used to be the state of art, a Regina 5 speed freewheel.

This used to be the state of art, a Regina 5 speed freewheel.

The new Shimano Ultegra 11 speed groupo.

The new Shimano Ultegra 11 speed groupo.

Tardigrades – The Toughest Critters

This entry was posted in Fun Stuff on by .

tardigrade

Since we had a little science with Prince Rupert’s Drop, I thought I’d share this crazy guy. It is a tardigrade. It is obviously extremely weird looking. It is super special though. These guys can live just about anywhere, the hot sulfide vents in the Marianas trench to the top of Mt. Everest. They can survive near absolute zero to well over boiling, and can be revived after sitting in the dust for years. And in years, I mean they can go for 120 years without food or water. They are very, very small. A huge one is about a millimeter in length. Most are only .3 millimeters long. They are commonly know as waterbears or moss piglets. Personally, I like those names better than tardigrade. Anyway, if you want to read more on these strange little survivalists, click here.

Bopping Around Austin

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling, Fun Stuff on by .

One of the best things about riding a bike, especially in a new place, is using it to discover new terrain and just get the lay of the land. Austin is one of the best places for this. I’ve been to Austin a ton in my life. It is sort of grown out of control, like most desirable places, but it still has a ton stuff that interests me.

I’m pretty much into architecture. I don’t study it or anything, but I like to see how people put buildings together in different places at different times. Austin has great building/house viewing. Cruising the streets, especially close to the center of the city, the mixture of old and new is nuts. South of the river, the neighborhoods between Congress and 1st are great. Lots of original houses, with new modern renovations galore.

Anyway, I could to it for days on end here in Austin. I’m house sitting my friend Ann’s dogs for a couple days and installing a dog door on her porch. It’s in a screened in patio, so it’s a little more tricky that just the normal deal. Ann got a new puppy to keep Stanley company. Lulu is her name and she’s a handful. Last night I had Stanley, Lulu and Bromont all upstairs with me. It was nearly 90 degrees two days ago, but yesterday it was in the 40’s at night. I didn’t think Lulu should be sleeping outside. She was pretty good, but like all puppies, doesn’t have a time frame really set, so she bugged me at all hours.

It is super windy ago here, which I don’t think is usual. It’s supposed to be in the 70’s today, which is nice. It snowed yesterday in Topeka, all the way up to Cable. I heard it dumped 11 inches in Iowa. It’s May, go figure.

I skipped going by the training race here in Austin last night. I figured it would just depress me. I had a small set back on my shoulder, maybe over did it some. I talked to Stacie last night and she said that I probably just tore up some of the scar tissue in the muscle and it was pretty common. Whatever the reason, my arm is pretty sore and doesn’t work so well. Hopefully, it will just be a short term setback.

Alright, I should get working. Here are some pictures from yesterday.

This is on the North side of  the river, close to 6th street.  It is kind of surprising finding it in a residential neighborhood.  If you look carefully, on the third tier, you can see a woman, with a mask, spray painting.

This is on the North side of the river, close to 6th street. It is kind of surprising finding it in a residential neighborhood. If you look carefully, on the third tier, you can see a woman, with a mask, spray painting.

I saw this in the back yard on a small side street off 1st.  It is the biggest slide I've seen in years.  Super cool.

I saw this in the back yard on a small side street off 1st. It is the biggest slide I’ve seen in years. Super cool.

This was over at Zilkler Park, where cross nationals are going to be held next year.  It is near Barton Springs.

This was over at Zilkler Park, where cross nationals are going to be held next year. It is near Barton Springs.

Cactus are beautiful when they bloom.

Cactus are beautiful when they bloom.

This guy was just walking around a neighborhood at the end of 35th street.

This guy was just walking around a neighborhood at the end of 35th street.

Bromont walking by some pirates on South Congress.

Bromont walking by some pirates on South Congress.

And catching a little music.

And catching a little music.

Lulu and Stanley.

Lulu and Stanley.

Bromont and Stanley swimming at the dog park on Redbud.

Bromont and Stanley swimming at the dog park on Redbud.

My shin after slipping on a rock, extracting Stanley from the river.

My shin after slipping on a rock, extracting Stanley from the river.

Weird Ride

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I didn’t get out until this afternoon. I didn’t have an exact plan, was going to just ride by feel. And I felt shitty leaving, so I stopped at the first coffeeshop to see if that would change something. It didn’t. I had been reading about how all the allergies in Austin are bad right now, so I thought maybe that was the deal.

I rode out West to Bee Caves and stopped at a Walgreen’s and bought some allergy medicine. I took one and kept going. This is the first in my life I’ve done that. Anyway, the wind was from the northwest and I had to ride that way to go back across the dam and back in. I’m not sure if I rode into the ride or what, but did feel remarkably better coming back.

I found two tools on the shoulder. That isn’t so unusual, but the tools I found seemed strange. I found a 10mm and 13mm open end wrenches. These are the tools I’ve used the most of all the auto tools I’ve used. A 10 and 13 are the most common bolts on a VW. The 10mm fits all the shrouding and the 13 fits a lot of things.

Another thing weird was my max speed. It was pretty windy, not Kansas windy, but pretty Austin windy and it must of switched to the west only, because coming back on 2222, down the hill off of 620, I had a max speed of over 60 mph. I knew it seemed quick, my eyes were watering pretty good, but it didn’t seem that fast. It is strange seeing a speed that high. The 50’s is normal, but over 60 is unusual. Especially in the midwest. (It’s on the latest Strava download to the right.)

Anyway, it was a nice day to ride. I only rode 2 hours, hoping to get in a big ride tomorrow. My shoulder is sore, but I don’t think I’m doing anything bad to it riding, so I’m not stressing.

The wrenches.  Only one is a Craftsman.  (I know Ann, "What are those doing on my kitchen counter?)

The wrenches. Only one is a Craftsman. (I know Ann, “What are those doing on my kitchen counter?)

Seemed to make me feel better, but you know how that is, you never know.

Seemed to make me feel better, but you know how that is, you never know.

Happy Where You’re At

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

It is strange trying to center yourself when you think you should be doing something and you are actually doing something else. The something else never seems as real and enjoyable because you want to be doing something different.

I haven’t been riding very good since I got to Austin. I had planned to do some big miles, but can’t seem to do any better than crack 50 and then I’m done. It probably a combination of a lot of things. I’ve been feeling sort of bad the last couple days. And have something going on with a tooth again. Plus, I seem to melt when it gets over 85, which is pretty common here now.

But, I still would rather be racing badly than not at all. That is strange to say. I wonder why that is? If I was racing badly, I would probably think, “Maybe I should go down to Austin, just chill, and do some miles until I feel good.” Sounds good now, but when you don’t have the option of racing, then you tend to want to do just that. Funny how the human mind works.

Austin has no bags. When you go to the store, auto parts, Home Depot, etc. they have no bags for what you bought. It has been sort of a hassle the last couple days. I need to stick a reusable bag in my car. Seems like a good law to me, but something you have to get used to.

I’m installing a dog door into a screen dog in Ann’s porch. It is slow going. I had a plan, but it fell apart when the plexiglass broke. Now I have a new plan, but it is going to take a lot longer and might look a little jerry-rigged. (I wonder who Jerry was?)

Ann has been out East and is getting back late this morning. She invited me to go eat with her, Sunday Brunch. I said sure. So, I’m going to try, for the first time in my life, of riding without eating. I hear that if you do miles before you eat then you tend to burn more fat or something. It doesn’t really make any sense, but I know I’ll be really hungry for brunch.

Okay, that’s about it for now. Feeling a bit uncreative.

Laying out the dog door project.

Laying out the dog door project.

We don't have outside seating areas like they do at Central Market here in Austin.

We don’t have outside seating areas like they do at Central Market here in Austin.

All the store here seem to be open a couple hours longer than in Kansas.  It seems strange, but convenient.

All the store here seem to be open a couple hours longer than in Kansas. It seems strange, but convenient.

UCI Needs an Overhaul

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I’ve sort of been on the fence, somewhat, about whether there has to be a complete cleaning of house at the UCI or just a decapitation. But, after reading this article at Cyclingnews, I think there has to be a total revamp of the organization. A complete flushing and new organization.

The article is about USADA doing blood testing before the Tour of California. I guess it is for the biological passport program. Whatever the reason, I have no idea why the UCI would announce a blood test before the race, other than to tell the riders and teams that they are doing just that. It is announcing to the guys that they better get their numbers in order.

I saw another article somewhere that said that many riders haven’t done a test for the biological passport for over a year and a half. So, I’d assume, many riders are somewhat lax about keeping their blood numbers exact. But, the UCI has fixed that by announcing a pre-race blood test. Anyone come up with another reason for this?

Travis Tygart, USADA’s CEO agrees- “You don’t want to announce that. That’s a PR move, not an effective anti-doping strategy. That tells riders you’d better ensure you don’t show up or what you do is not detectable from the passport process.”

I’m sick of it. The biological passport is bullshit, as is most of the testing. Pre announcing blood test, weeks in advance of an event, goes to show you just how valueless the program is.

From the release of all these confessions, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to not get caught doping in cycling. Tyler and Floyd did get “caught”, but I would bet you a million dollars there was something else going on there, not just positive testing. But, that is maybe buried forever, we’ll never know.

Anyway, obviously, the UCI has no intention of changing. I’m embarrassed being part of an organization that condones such actions. Yes, we as members of USAC, which is under the UCI, really are part of it. Maybe it is about time that USAC pulls an Oregon and leave the UCI? Oregon left USAC and the racing there is as healthy as ever, maybe more so. If USAC did that, I’d bet it would get some attention for sure. If not, then I guess it will be the same old BS for a while longer.

nouciIf you want to get a t-shirt with this logo on it, check here at Cyclocosm.

Fell

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I got the okay to start riding early because I convinced my doctor, Stacie, that I never fall training. I think I’ve fallen training twice in the last 25 years. This is on the road only, of course. Anyway, yesterday I spent nearly the whole day putting a dog door in Ann’s porch. I got out late, rush hour here in Austin. Not a good time to ride. I wasn’t planning to riding much more than 1 1/2 hours. I’ve been feeling tired.

I did a weird route out 2222, which is super busy after 5, then turned onto City Park and headed into the residential area. My phone showed there was a way to cut back over to 2222, up by 620. I turned onto a road that said dead end. I was a little concerned because I didn’t really want to ride 3 miles out of my way to just turn around. It was sort of weird, right before a cul de sac, there was another dead end sign. It looked like a dead end, but one of the driveways looked wider. It was marked with an address, but had a stop sign exiting. I road in and it was a little super short cutoff to the road I was looking for. It’s the first time I encountered a secret road, with road markings anywhere. Kind of fun.

Anyway, I rushed back to go to dinner with Ann. When I got back I normally take Bromont for a mile loop around the neighborhood. But, it was busy and I thought maybe I shouldn’t, but Bromont kept bugging me, so I did. He ran pretty good, but coming back our normal way, there was a couple walking two dogs, so I headed back a street early. Bromont got mixed up and got behind me. He was running in the grass, but a couple cars were coming at us. I slowed down and moved to the left to make sure he was going to be okay. I was riding less than 5 mph, looking backwards and hit a pothole. I was only holding onto my bars with my right hand, my bars twisted and I got launched over the bars. I landed on my right side, hitting my knee and, of course, shoulder. I couldn’t believe it.

I don’t know if I hurt it. I definitely did something to it, but it could be the same as if I just fell without surgery. I slept badly and it aches again. I can’t believe it.

Our roads in the US suck. They incrementally got worse until they are what they are today. 20 years ago, we wouldn’t except roads like this, but it happened to slowly, we forget what they were like.

The weather has been pretty bad the whole time I’ve been gone, so it was a good trip for missing that. It’s spring, so it is raining about everywhere in the Midwest now. I like that.

I’m heading back to Kansas today. I have to drop Sue’s bike back off at her mother’s house in Richardson and then am heading North. It’s 10 hours, so I won’t be back until later tonight.

The culprit.  It wasn't all that deep, but I was going slow, looking back.

The culprit. It wasn’t all that deep, but I was going slow, looking back.

Start of the dog door project.

Start of the dog door project.

Primed and cut.

Primed and cut.

FInished on the inside.

FInished on the inside.

Curious guys checking it out.

Curious guys checking it out.

Ann, with a oyster shot, at Sunday brunch.

Ann, with a oyster shot, at Sunday brunch.