Is it more/less smug to carry a huge box strapped to your banjo brothers bag while riding a Trek 720 curated with a "slammed stem" and fixie culture bars (only 580mm wide, yo) than it would be to carry the same on a cargo bike?
I think the answer is... it's smug either way. Regardless, I didn't have any better options and I had to get the goods back to their rightful owner so that they can use them at CX Nationals.
On a related note- holy crap is it ever nice out! People seem to have stopped commenting on how beautiful and warm it is... maybe because they are worried that if they mention it that they'll wake up from this dream.
ya'll are screwed now that I have THAT to make sacrifices for prior to the big April show
funny how a new camera makes you all artistic
love the smiley face
Now onto the list...
Everyone is doing it, why not?
Plus, maybe mine will be worth reading for someone. At least I would like to think so. I ride and race a lot, more than most and I'm not going to try to tell you how cool the stuff I got from a bike shop that I work at or from my friends at the bike company is... maybe I can balance out some of "those" voices just a little bit?
10. carbon wheels- my favorite are the Reynolds. As cheap as used as light aluminum wheels are used and faster/lighter. Tubular of course. They also have a mystical effect on... your competitors. They think you have an advantage and therefore you do (even when your wheels are heavier than theirs... shhhhh).
9. My 1999 Trek 720 Multi-track- there are other old, steel, 700c, bikes like this out there. This particular generation of trek fits 29x1.9s... is it a 29er? Not according to Guitar Ted's history of the 29er. Does it matter? This sort of bike is a perfect commuter, winter bike, touring bike, gravel bike etc., can be ridden on singletrack pretty well, it absolutely does it all. I even think it's beautiful in the manner of things that do their job right. It's a bit heavy to race, but I ride it far more than anything else I own. Tough to beat something like this for day in day out use. If I had to go down to one bike, it would be this one (and the frame/fork/seatpost/fenders cost me $30)
8. DT hubs- they don't get screwed up. I have 240s in every wheelset I can. Maybe even better is the 40h CODA rear hub with the same internals that I scored from Trevor (off of his tandem for peanuts) for a rear wheel for that Trek 720... want to bet it will make it through the next 10 winters?
7. Bontrager's tubeless system/RXL wheelset- I've got the older 2008 wheels with the DT hubs. I also had some Stans wheels that were lighter. I sold the Stans wheels. These are so much more secure with the way they hold the tire and the wheels are stiffer.
6. SRAM gripshift! Just can't see going away from this on my mountain bike. Where is the 10 speed 'cause I can't wait. I also like my noir crankset and reba on my Orbea. Just don't make the mistake of running any of their front derailleurs! (although I've HEARD they XX one and the newest Red versions work very well)
5. Shimano heat-moldable, m310 mtb shoes. I've got skinny feet, Trevor doesn't... We both got these shoes, molded them properly and love them. I've got some fancy road shoes from sidi and nike both, these shimanos would truly be the only pair of shoes I would need for mtb, road and gravel.
4. aero-bars... the stuff of tri-dorks, right? I have historically had trouble with my back/hands (maybe related to scoliosis or breaking my back a while ago) these solved those problems for me! Plus they are fast. Who cares what you look like?
3. Shimano stuff- DA 7800 to be precise. It's cheap and it's awesome. It's heavier than SRAM, it's not CARBON... but that's just not the point. Last year in the Royal one guy running SRAM had BOTH SHIFTERS stop working. A lot of people complained about major bike issues, cost, repairs. I replaced a bearing in a jockey wheel... I used the same parts for dirty kanza, a bunch of road races and cyclocross- it's as perfect as ever. There is a drawback to Shimano though and that's the SRAM gripshift as above.
2. tubular tires- I don't care which ones. Did you read my little "ode to tubulars" at almanzo.com? Would I race every discipline on them if I could afford proper 29er rims/tires? Yes! Drawback? $$, but this is the place to spend it. I'd rather race my the trek 720 for cx or gravel with good wheels/tires than any other bike with bad.
1. My 2005 Giant OCR carbon road bike... for gravel. Gravel has taken off. Every manufacturer wants in on the action- they would like to tell you they are doing something better and special than what has been done before... There is a reason my results got better this year, part of that reason is this regular old, cheap, taiwan carbon, 7 year old road bike that cost $100 for the frame/fork. Everyone wants to tell you that you need whatever and whatever. What I needed was a fast bike that I was comfortable riding all day... turns out a lot of companies have been making such bikes for years and promoting them as such. Why they haven't hit the gravel scene yet so much I haven't a clue (aggressive marketing by others?). Do you need something similar? If you do then you are in luck- these and similar bikes from other companies (in no way is my Giant better than or even as good as a lot of the others) all over the place used for <500 frame, <1000 complete.
1. Start in with controversy from yesterdays post.
Yesterday's (link to said post) about the Minnesota Fixie craze has led to a lot of controversy. Seems people don't like being picked on. When one points out the irony of how long they've been making fun of hipsters and now are doing almost the same thing (link to all matching fat bike ironically not being ridden on snow). Blah, blah etc..
2. Talk negatively about the city you couldn't live without.
Here in MN we are in the epicenter of the fatbike/fixie/ironic cyclocross bike none of which are raced craze (not entirely true, but true in writers myopic gaze). It's just one more sign of the apocalypse (right?). I too love to ride my bike and their culture smears the public impression and generally "grinds my gears".
(possibly link to non-related image here... the one Charly Tri ((this is a link to his blog of course)) uses as his banner with the fat kid might work, it seems on par with the recumbent woman the real bikesnob likes to put in his posts)
3. Reference something else from the past that was funny and vaguely connects
I used to have a pink fixie (link to my valentines day post of riding hills on it) but got made fun of (link to comments/post where it was made fun of) for having "hipster" handlebars and sold it in an attempt to be cool (link to the person whom I sold it to, also possible tie-in to the fact that it was later stolen or lost? Quite possibly thrown into the river after he flatted it whilst in a state of despair after said buyer had a long night at the bar).
4. Reference something else from past that was funny and vaguely connects
Outrage still boils due to the "raphagate" scandal and the lack of SS CX Worlds Tattoos (should have used ironic in that sentence somewhere). A reader (readers forward things all the time right?) forwarded me information about a "fat bike world championships" in upper michigan. This is in addition to the already existing fat bike world championships in Decorah. Obviously the size of the ironic tattoo given to the winner will determine which one is the "real", "ironic" world championships (there I used "ironic" properly). Or perhaps ironic (again!) fat bikers are just trying to follow boxings lead... unification bout anyone? Maybe they can all get together and see who has the matchingest bikes? The overall, unificated, ironic (again!) winner could get this tattoo-
(insert picture of mike tyson with face tattoo, with belt, with fatbike)
5. Something about stupid crap in my city, does not at all connect
Meanwhile green-minded city people are leaving their Hummers (link to picture of Hummer... inappropriate) at home and instead flying their personal aircraft (link to cessna) to the pizza farm (link to article about rich idiots flying their planes to get a "locally grown, organic, sustainable etc." meal).
6. something about other stupid crap in the city, does not seem to connect
Meanwhile the "bird abatement" (link to this same blog where I bitched about this earlier in month) continues unabated (see what I did there?). The $25,000 spent on birds of prey (link to silly cartoon of bird of prey), lasers (link to laser) and high expectations has thus far resulted in... birds dispersing as far away as 3-4 blocks-
(insert image I took yesterday of a few dozen, at least, murders of crows located approximately 1 mile outside of downtown in the middle of my commute)
7. connect the sneakily connected things I set up above
Maybe the best solution would be to invite the private plane assholes to push the crows out... Surely, they could force the crows as far away as simpson, or die trying (image of bird in jet engine, stock photo). I'd be willing to wager that crows are more afraid of airplanes than lasers. I'm sure the well fed (image of stupid rochesterites feeding the crows, geese etc.) crows could be considered "free range" as well.
8. connect with other current events.
You would think that a city with the technology/stupidity to "remodel the river" (insert my previous post and image of them literally remodeling the river with dump trucks and plows) could handle some crows. If not, you'd think anyone with the ability to take such blunt action would probably try dynamite (link to something). Here's to hoping that they dredge up my pink fixie while they are out their remodeling- it's surely cool once again now that the wannabes have moved on to fat bikes.
9. connect with silly product aforementioned
In the meantime I'll continue wearing this stupid umbrella on my head during my commute (no further explanation needed).
10. reference to pro cycling, semi-inappropriate joke, redeeming last take
if all else fails we could enlist Vonsummeren and Dekker (link to stuff about the controversy with regards to them wearing black face last month when dressed as 'santas helper') to help scare the birds off to spring valley (link to spring valley image with sky darkened by crows)... Short of that they could at least bring coal to the city planners (link to how they kicked out the Almanzo).
crow-worshipping gravel crusher of doom (stupid name referencing stupid fake religion)
That would be my take on it. I'm not putting any more time or effort towards actually finding the images, articles etc. above referenced. You can use google if you want to put it all together... all those things are actually happening.
I woke up today feeling motivated and sent this in-
Hopefully I get in the Ragnarok! Awesome postcard of me leading the group up the big hill there (courtesy of Ben Witt from Milltown Cycles). I remember standing in the parking lot last year watching the race start. At the time it was a relief, I knew I wasn't ready for it etc., but can't let it happen again. I'm in it for every hill that I can be. May have to leave the full-on cyclocross bike together until after that weekend... don't know if my gravel/road setup is up for it. Obviously the lack of carbon will knock me out of the lead group early if that is the case.
In other news... What is going on with the weather?
I'm back on the usual long commutes, training rides get ready for the long stuff thing this week--- no more of that 45 minutes and call it good for cyclocross. This time of year needs to be tough. With Triple D coming up soon I'm itching to get out in the cold and get comfortable. I've sourced a "fat" bike this year to help me in that race. This 40 degrees and raining stuff doesn't seem like proper preparation!
Along the same lines my new XC skis should be showing up by the end of the week... may as well have ordered scuba gear. At least they are being shipped to Wolverine Village, will save me having to put them in the car when I head up.
Todays commute was full rain suit! Bring back winter.
I'll leave this useless update with a quote... "fat bikes are the new fixie" -Dennis Grelk (and you know it's true)
From now through the last week of February I will be riding Thursdays. Usually 50-70 miles and leaving SW Rochester between 10 and 11 am. Pace will reflect the conditions, but usually 11-14. You are welcome to join me. email@example.com and I'll confirm the plan and that I'm not up skiing at Wolverine that week.
Well, really one full week off and then a week of training and racing.
After writing my thoughts on my 6 weeks season and coming to the obvious conclusion that it wasn't long enough (due to obviously still improving and needing more time off to recover between events). I decided the logical thing to do would be to take that full week off and race again. In my past life I remember sometimes feeling like I was chasing results too much. That after a bad performance I'd make too many sacrifices in order to atone and spend too much time and effort traveling/racing. Such a situation is often a good setup for a failure. I was mindful of that risk, but the situation for my going down to BadgerCross/"midwest cx championships" seemed too good a fit to worry about that risk. I was recovering well from my minor leg surgery, the weather was looking great, the course looked like fun, the timing was right etc. etc., plus I enjoy Madison.
I took the entire week off after Jinglecross. Literally, only riding 30 minutes Sunday night to head down to the bar.
I commuted every day last week,trained hard for 40 minutes Tuesday at Eastwood- making 6 hard laps of our practice course in the snow including the run-up and the sand and trained hard for about 25 Thursday again making laps in the snow. The warm-up/cool-down time plus commuting wound up at about 6 hours even. I focused on CX skills some as well- exactly how to shoulder my bike, the best form for remounting etc..
I already wrote about Saturday (see below).
I felt great warming up Sunday morning. I felt I could focus entirely on racing and not on CX or bike handling skills (I need to find that feeling on my MTB next year!). It also felt good to be on the front row with the call-ups! A few more "fast" guys had come in for Championship day. My strategy was to ride my own race the entire time, the course was open enough that the holeshot didn't seem super important and I also knew that I couldn't climb the steeper hill as fast as the much lighter juniors who would likely be around me up front. I would have to grind my way up that and make up ground on the more gradual power climbs, the run-up and the fast downhill sections. I had noticed the day before that Nordahl would easily gap me on the hill, but that I could pull him back quite a bit elsewhere and I figured that was just the way it had to be.
The race went very much as expected. I wasn't able to hang with the push of the leaders up the big hill and found myself doing my own thing in 4th. Then Mitch Nordahl passed me as if I wasn't moving while making a huge effort to get back to the front (he had bobbled at the start). I hoped I could reel him back in later at the time, but as it turns out he made a very strong push for the win. Meanwhile, I felt reasonably strong and ground along. I traded spots with two juniors from Louisville for most of the race. I was able to gap them with two laps to go, but blew it with a technical error in a corner that forced me to dismount. Then one of them had a shifting problem and had to switch bikes in the pit (wish I had two matching bikes!) and they fell back to me. The final lap came and one of them dropped me hard on the steep climb, but the other was right in front. I passed on the run-up and finished the rest of the lap comfortably between them, but unable to gain ground on the first. I was 6th. Too bad Nordahl wasn't able to pull off the win!
As an aside here- it has been fun watching the MN Juniors race over the last few weeks. Mitch Nordahl, Nils Boberg, Josey Weik, Alec Porter etc. have all had good races and shown improvement. I hope to see them all going faster next year in many of the races that I attend.
From a training/learning perspective I raced much better this weekend than previously. This was a stronger field than everything but the best day at Jinglecross and I was much more competitive. The usa cycling points system shows this as well where I scored about 225 each day vs. my previous best of 240 at Jinglecross and 255 at the State Championships. It's hard to gauge the meaning of those numbers vs. head to head racing with the same people, but I'm confident that I was much stronger than I had previously been. I think this underscored the importance of rest and that I really need to start the CX season a bit earlier next fall if I want to perform my best in MN. I hope I learned something overall that will help me prepare for important races.
I'm now 100% ready to do nothing but ride gravel/commuting base miles. I might have had lingering regrets about this year if I hadn't gone last weekend but feel great about ending the year on the upswing rather than with 2/3 DNF at Jinglecross. Now I just have to deal with my own expectations for how next spring should go.
What an awesome course! A little bit of everything with a nice balance between twisty stuff and climbing- even some significant downhill sections. Maybe a little "easy", but a good test and as good as anywhere I've raced this year. Conditions today were FAST with most of the course being frozen hard and bumpy.
Today as the final day of the Wisconsin CX series points wise and sets the start call-ups for tomorrow's championship race (whatever that means since there are obviously a lot of fast midwesterners who aren't here). I started on the 3rd row today but was able to quickly move into 3rd. I bounced from there to 9th and then back up to 6th over the first couple laps. A few guys were able to really put down a lot of power on the climb- particularly a young kid from Marquette and a couple of Illinois guys. I settled into 6th/7th with Mitch Nordahl. On the last two laps I had trouble clipping in, I wasn't alone in having this problem today as the run-up had fresh mud/clay dirt on it, and wasn't able to put up much of a fight. Mitch wound up 6th a few yards in front of me in 7th. Top 8 make the front row tomorrow- which won't really matter much, but that was my goal for today regardless. I think Josey Weik was the next MN guy in 17th. Hopefully we can all have a slightly better performance tomorrow.
Boomers's- Sort of like the kindergarten version of a bar. Complete with primary colors, recess games and nothing imaginative. Great place to witness a white trash wedding reception while sipping cheap Red Label/Cokes and tossing bags (playing Cornhole for the rednecks).
Newt's North/South- Put them together as one. If you like overhyped, oversized $12 burgers and $15 pitchers of beer this is for you. When you stop reading "Rochester Magazine" as if it's the bible maybe you will also stop totally sucking.
Whiskey Bones- Great venue so long as whatever show you go to only fills it up to 1/8th of capacity, terrible sight-lines. Great rail drinks and specials. All you can drink Wednesday night includes all of their 22 beers (all priced half of Newt's prices to begin with). Willing to try shit to get people in the door- viva burlesque!
Whistle Binkies (original)- Do you like strip malls? No, not "strip" malls. Actual strip malls with dollar stores, asian buffets, shit like that? Do you like being told that the special is "out" for the night every time you order it? Do you like old, tube TVs? They bring in some good quality ingredients and have a decent menu but in the end screw it all up.
Glynner's- Shouldn't even be on the list. Great place to go after softball, I guess.
CJ's- OLD CREEPY PEOPLE, CRAPPY MUSIC.
300 First/Redwood room- Don't get me started. Go to the upstairs for happy hour and order the half-priced appetizers and cheap beer just to piss off the wait-staff... wait, why does that piss them off anyways? Go downstairs if you make more money than you know what to do with and are taking a girl with an IQ under 80 on a date?
Chesters- Rub elbows with kind benevolent folk while eating excellent lavash and sipping properly made drinks. Look! an expensive place that doesn't suck, or at least you get something like what you're paying for.
Beer Bellyz- Ever been to a northern Wisconsin gas station/liquor store? Well, this is the slightly handicapped wet-dream of such a place. The gas station feel is still intact but they imported some UFC and threw in some bad rap/dance type music. Obviously this makes for a good place to get in a fight or two.
McGoons- Surprisingly good food, best Guinness, comedy.
North Star- Feels like it hasn't changed since about 1990, great place to catch a rock tribute band. Bad place to be otherwise, or sober(ish).
Kathy's- The default downtown bar. So much wrong with it, but it's still better than most any other option. Terrible rail selection, beer selection, drunk bartenders etc., but your friends will be there even if you can't see or hear them and you just got groped by someone squeezing by!
Big Brads- Like a big suburban living room of beer. Great beer selection and specials. My favorite place to start the night.
Amsterdam- Play fooze with the owner, avoid fights with gangstas- don't pick up their girlfriends... you might even get lucky and get a drink if anyone is behind the bar. Got to respect the techno.
Top Shots- I'm sure it's great for pool league. On the weekend you get tools pretending to play pool and girls who are too ugly for Dooley's stuffed in push-up bras. Big groups end up here because they have big tables and room to talk.
63 club- Tiny, go with friends, eat pickled eggs.
Wicked Moose- Gone country! Unless tonight's show is lip-synching Britney and Madonna or covering Nickleback? Best bartenders, not a great selection. Huge layout is nice.
Whistle Binkie's on the Lake- See above- better location, more potential=bigger disappointment when they drop the ball.
Dooley's- I've heard some call this style of bar a "meat-market"... If this is a meat market I'm going vegetarian and while I'm at it I'm going to get a new hair cut and change my name. Pathetic is the first word that comes to my mind. I guess this is the natural result to "mother mayo" preventing strip clubs from coming into town. We get all the bad parts of a strip club with none of the good, the girls aren't even cute and they aren't making enough money to put themselves through medical school either. Shame on you for considering this soiled garment of a "pub" but if you do make it don't expect anything special from their kitchen, bar or wait staff- at least so far as "traditional" service goes. Only possible redeeming value is late-night menu, but Taco Bell's got that too.
The rest aren't worth mentioning or don't qualify as "bars" to my way of thinking.
2011 isn't over. I'm going to madison to race in the Badger Cross Midwest Regional Championships this weekend. After all that crap I wrote about cyclocross I realized that taking a week off, training a bit and then doing this race sounded like fun. The weather looks good and I love the Madison area, can't wait!
I also just received word that my skate ski stuff will be here in about ten days! Looks like I'll get to do some cross-training, and will have another excuse to spend time at the Wolverine Village.
Nor have I forgotten about that dirty metric and dirty century that I need to complete before New Years. They will happen.
I've already wimped out on the Arrowhead 135 and trans-Iowa. Intend to follow suit with regards to a host of other races including Dirty Kanza and a variety of endurance mountain bike races. such events just don't seem to fit into my "plan" as much as they used to. The one "long one" that I will take another swing at is the Royal. I suppose I'm also likely to ride quite a few training centuries and have another long day at the Dairyland Dare--- but none of those will be the same as the effort/recovery that would go into something like trans-Iowa. I've got a ton of respect for everyone who will be taking the line and I'm sure on that day I will wish I were there at many of the events (particularly if the high in Emporia is below 80 degrees...). I don't know how to explain it, I always thought I was an "endurance guy too" but there it is and the tentative schedule that follows will probably say more.
WINTER- Triple D, CIRREM
March- 2-3x of the Iowa Spring Classics
April- Ragnarok??? Don't know if I'm feeling it, so probably not... had a great time not racing it last year! 2x road races (Durand, one of the others).
May- 2x mtb in MN or WORS series, Royal
June- 2x mtb in MN or WORS, Thursday night mtb, Keeweenaw Chain drive + long trip up there, maybe road if it gets hot for the last weekend (in place of mtb).
September- Copper Harbor fat tire festival vs. Maplelag. Rest, more base miles and time on CX bike, low priority cx race?
October- Heck of the north, Heroic, dirt bag and weeknight CX
November- 3/4 weekends cx
December- 1x CX? rest to year end.
Could change drastically but that's what I'm looking at right now. Hoping to use the early road stuff and winter base miles to load up for those early road races (why are the MN road races so early on the calendar anyways?) and the Almanzo while balancing that with getting ready to actually feeling like a Mountain biker in May and June. Expecting to want to move to road events in July again due to heat, but if I feel I'm doing better with that will do more Mountain biking. Just looking to have a good time in August and September and prepare for the fall gravel and cyclocross.
A few people have asked about posting an actual schedule somewhere such that they could carpool or spectate. I will probably work on that once it gets closer to the actual season and things shake out more.
Lastly, I get to race my bike almost the entire year and I feel lucky to have that opportunity. Thanks Laura and everyone else who helps me out.
The rest of the bike should be interesting as well!
Here is the plan-
$65 broken scattante cfr sl6 frame size 53- shipped via ebay, full carbon, came with large hole in the driveside seatstay. Almost repaired, will have pictures forthcoming.
free broken hsc5 sl Look fork from my Look 585. I was in a rush to race and replaced this with an Edge/Enve fork on that bike. It has since been repaired
$80 SRAM Force crankset with 53t ring only
$20 cut fetish cycles carbon post
$30 bontrager carbon/ti saddle that I customized as shown above
free ritchey wcs 110mm stem, cheap due to poor cosmetics- may paint it
free DEDA bars
$20 surly 18t SS cog
$30 DMR chain tensioner if needed
$205 zipp 303 tubular wheelset, bought damaged and repaired (pictures of this too soon)
free continental sprinter 250s pulled from dumpster (also pulled mavic gl330 rims that I could build up and use for this build which would take at least $150 off of the total without gaining weight)
$60 Ultegra 6700 brakes, hand me down from my Look which I upgraded to 7800. I paid $60 for the 7800 so think $60 is fair, but could claim even cheaper...
I do not yet have-
SS brake levers, got some decent ones?
I don't really have a clue what it will weigh either- but it should be light enough to be pretty fun. Wish I had the time and devotion to do the whole spreadsheet weight thing and figure it all out. I don't even own a proper scale.
I primarily post about riding here. All this energy that now goes into riding previously went into customizing cars (well, after it all went into ski racing and golf).
I have a 1999 C43 AMG that is a holdover from those days and which I intend to keep for a long time. It has a decent amount of miles on it and has been modified from stock, so isn't in any way what most would consider a collectable. Of course, most people don't actually want to drive their collectables all over the place either. I love high performing sedans, particularly those from the past before every manufacturer jumped on the bandwagon and they got all watered down, and love German cars. Anyways, my particular car has a fairly custom supercharger setup on it and produces something north of 400 hp with even higher torque #s throughout the powerband. No exact numbers right now (it hasn't been dyno'd since the latest modifications, but it pulls pretty hard) I used an "off the shelf" HPS supercharger kit initially, but now the only stock parts of that kit are the Eaton MP90 supercharger, the supercharger brackets and the rising rate fuel pressure regulator. I'm briefly going to list the other parts that I used because a lot of people ask "what it took to make that kit work"...
larger fuel pump- stock pump didn't keep up well enough, I would get the "044"or whatever Bosch one. Mine is a pierburg that came as an auxiliary inline pump for a Camaro supercharger kit.
splitsecond MAF scaler- or some other way to adjust the signal the ECU gets from the MAF. You have to "smooth" it and keep the total value under 4.9v or else you'll get choppy throttle response and other issues.
rework the air intake to use a larger filter and locate it where it gets cool air (this may not be NECESSARY, but it's a real good idea)
be sure to get excellent vacuum source to the fuel pressure regulator
larger fuel line
air-water intercooler system- uses cobra mustang parts and an "ebay" intercooler core
single electrode copper plugs
added a switch to "fully" turn off the tcs system- prevents a lot of potential bad things
polished upper intake
full suite of gauges
lots of under the hood powdercoating
I may be missing some things that I did as it has been about 4 years since I did all the work. Feel free to ask me about it if you have questions
here is an old picture-
Now, while this ran very well and strongly over the past 3.5 years since being supercharged I believe I have now blown the headgasket! I'm no expert on broken stuff (never worked as a repair mechanic or dealt with a blown headgasket) but it seems that is the most likely problem
loss of coolant and coolant overflow after use
clear/white gel in coolant
Initially, I spoke to a Mercedes mechanic friend about the issues and he suggested I replace the thermostat, coolant cap and radiator. I do have those parts here now-
I also have new front brakes (this is a 16oz beer can btw), which I've been holding off on installing until I sort this out-
Today I started tearing stuff apart and for the first time was able to confirm/see the presence of the white/clear gel in the coolant. I also ran the car some before beginning to tear things down and did observe white smoke, although fairly subtle.
I drained and removed the radiator and pulled the AC condensor (I plan to pull the AC system permanently)
I pulled one of the easy to reach spark plugs-
checked the oil cap-
I also pulled the dipstick and looked at the oil/quick checked it for water (dropped it on hot surface to see if it boiled). It smoked rather than hissed/boiled etc., and looked fairly clean-
At this point it seems pretty likely that the headgasket is the problem and I have decided not to continue with the repairs until I can absolutely rule it out or fix it.
Due to the modifications to my car it will be a huge pain in the ass to do a cylinder by cylinder compression test, but that may be what needs to happen.
I wonder if having my oil analyzed wouldn't "prove" the headgasket is the issue, or if I shouldn't just consider it already proven.
If the headgasket is the problem I will most likely have to buy a new motor and swap it in. I believe the labor involved in changing the headgasket would not be worth it vs. the cost/labor involved in an engine swap. I guess it will give me and excuse to make my car a C50 or C55 (by adding a larger displacement motor).
Here is a picture of the peaceful snowfall which co-conspired with the stitches in my leg to keep me off of my bike long enough to work on the car and type this up today.
Cyclocross is almost the exact opposite of a gravel race and only has some things in common with road or mountain bike racing. It forces the racer to "sit" right at my rev limiter and that pushes a type of fitness that most of "us" (meaning gravel, mountain bike, endurance etc.) type riders never use. Even compared to a crit it requires more constant high effort and similarly forces you to go past your threshold in bursts.
For what it's worth, my previous CX experience consisted of about a dozen local weeknight practice races over the last two years, 4 local "microcross" races and 4 official starts last year- 1 being a DNF in St. Cloud and the other 3 all taking place at Jinglecross 2010.
After the Dakota Five-0, which was a disaster for me, I was slow to get moving again. I knew that the end of the year was still far away and I remembered being burnt out and slow late in 2010. I wound up coasting along well into October before really doing any "training". This was partly by design and partly due to lazyness. I had the idea that the fall would be a good time to not do too much- I'd be ready to ride/race fast in Gentleman's Ride, the Heck of the North, Heroic and Dirt Bag because I would be fresh and I would hopefully leave the season still wanting for more and inspired to begin training hard for the next.
The plan worked well for the endurance races. I had known that my form was coming around since the Dairyland Dare and Jesse James Century rides. I also knew that my OCR was a fast bike setup and fit my style and needs well. The realization that aero bars could totally eradicate back pain has been huge! That combination allowed me to ride more aggressively than I ever had before and also to have more fun because I wasn't worried about DNFing or back pain etc..
We went to Copper Harbor for some mountain biking in Mid October and did race a CX race there, but I was woefully slow and generally felt "off" trying to get on that bike without enough practice. It was probably good to jump on it then if only to see how far I had to go.
That all left me with good "endurance" form and with just 6 weeks of cyclocross to go. At this point I had done 3 Tuesday night CX practices, the race up in Copper Harbor and a couple other short rides on the bike. I decided to dedicate as much effort as possible for those 6 weeks to CX and see what I could learn. I knew that 6 weeks wasn't really enough time to do as well as I "could" based on where I was coming from, but figured I could learn a lot by trying. I hoped to learn something that would help me in the future if/when I decide to put more emphasis on cyclocross.
Here is what I did and, briefly, what came out-
I had a cold this week, but wound up riding 8.75 hours. We rode 2 hrs at Levis-trow (this was the last day of our mtb trip), I commuted by bike, I went on one cx practice ride on Thursday and rode Eastwood with an emphasis on bike handling.
Races- I raced both weekend days. On Saturday I finished 18th of about 30 almost 5 minutes behind the Fred Mills. I thought I rode well, but was out of touch from the race from the start. On Sunday I was determined to stay more "in-touch" and rode very hard and mistake free to finish 12th around 2.5 minutes behind Fred Mills once again.
This was the Dirt Bag week- I had to put my CX goals on hold and rest for the race. I also wound up working 18 hours of overtime at work so only rode 6.75 hrs including the race. I shocked myself by winning the race, which I surely didn't deserve but am proud to have done.
Now it was time to get serious. I'd gotten beat up pretty good in all 3 CX starts thus far and only had a few weeks left to "get fast". I had to rest/recover from the Dirt Bag and found that I needed more days than expected. I was having trouble taking deep breaths all the way to Wednesday and although I rode I couldn't really push the CX type practice. The best I did was 2 easy laps of Eastwood, again focusing on bike handling. I also became fed up with the breathing problems and went back to the doctor again about them (last year I went though the same thing and wound up with no solution). This time I was prescribed Albuterol.
Racing- Saturday I had an early mechanical in the SS race, but felt I rode well in the cat 3 race where I finished 8th around 1.5 minutes behind the leaders. Sunday was the first time I tried the Albuterol and I found myself leading a much smaller field for much of the race. I wound up finishing 2nd to Brenden Bellew by a small amount. 2nd is much better than 8th, but I think the overall level of my riding was pretty similar both days this weekend. The USAc points value assigned to my finishes was about 295 both days which in some way confirms that as well.
I rode 10.25 hours this week. Again, I did one specific CX focused practice ride (this time was able to go "hard" and not just work on bike handling) and the rest was commuting. We also went up to the Icebox 240 where I rode my mtb hard for 90 minutes.
Saturday's race was a complete failure, I banged my bad knee on my bike at the start and more or less wimped out from there. I didn't want to risk any extra injury to that. Sunday I rode very hard out of the gun, made some mistakes but was pleased to find myself pulling people in after I spent a couple laps catching my breath. I didn't have a "good" race this weekend, but overall I felt like I was still getting stronger. The USAC points system correctly shows that I went slightly slower this weekend.
9 hours this week with two 45 minute practice cx races thrown in. I used my GPS to map lap times and speeds and really push myself. The rest of my hours were warm-up/cool-down and commuting.
Saturday was the State Championships where I rode pretty strong- I found myself looking at finishing between 4th and 12th or so based on my "form" and a late mistake dropped me to 9th. Overall, this was very solid for me. 61 people showed and a couple of the guys in front of me hadn't been at earlier races to beat me there. The Sunday race went very similarly- I thought I had a shot at top 5 but again fell back late, this time to 8th. I left knowing that I hadn't quite put together my best race, but feeling good overall. I could tell that I was still getting stronger and that I was definitely stronger than the week before. Somewhere this weekend I also began to feel comfortable getting on and off my bike. These were my best points value races thus far according to USAC.
7 hours this week. This time just one practice ride- a 45 minute practice race on Tuesday.
This was Jinglecross. Friday my back cramped right away. I believe this was due to using my Albuterol slightly differently and basically overdosing it. I corrected this for the rest of the weekend and avoided any problem. The MN guys did very well and I felt good going into the weekend about my prospects after watching them (Fred and Nils in particular). Saturday I had a strong ride and finished 11th on the toughest day of the weekend so far as the strength of the field was concerned. It was a close race and in the end a small mistake on the first time up the hill cost me a few spots. That said I couldn't have made the podium and 11th was respectable! Once again this was an improvement in the USAC points system with about a 260 (looking back that first race was 420 or so, seems very significant). Then Sunday, disaster struck and my derailleur hanger bent/broke. I left Iowa frustrated that I hadn't done better, but feeling like I "could" have if things had fallen my way a bit more.
So what did I learn?
cyclocross is incredibly fun- although, I guess, I already knew that
with a large endurance base it doesn't take too much cx specific training/racing to make big improvements. I have no idea how long it takes to hit a "plateau" though either.
6 weeks isn't enough- I felt I was still improving at the end and also would have benefitted from a week off somewhere.
Looking at the improvements I did make has given me ideas about how to plan my schedule for next year in order to try to get more out of cx. I think it also has ramifications about how I should schedule other types of races. I'm pretty sure that doing 3-4 expert mountain bike races in a row might REALLY net a lot of improvement similarly to how this racing did. This is the first time I've ever yet totally immersed myelf in one type of racing for any time period since mountain biking my first season. This is intuitive and obvious, but this experience really underlines it's importance. I think I can plan a schedule that allows for "pretty good" finishes in all of the types of races that I want to compete in.
Where does gravel fit in? I'm not sure- it seems like gravel endurance racing is the one type of racing that I do that really benefits from all other types of riding. No matter what type of riding I do it seems that it directly translates into greater strength/endurance as applies to gravel/endurace road riding, it's when I need more "high end" that I need to do more specific training.
No idea if this was at all interesting to anyone else, probably not... but it helps me to think it through.
No final details on the frostCHESTer ride yet other than the date- it will be organized for fat bikes and partying, but everyone will be welcome. Plans include a bonfire and food at a great local establishment. This may just be the de facto ironic fatbike criterium worlds.
Dickie Scramble (you'll have to copy and paste the link)-
Hope to see you at both of these, Triple D, Minnetonka Ice Race and the 1/29 untitled Almanzo course ride!
Outside of the 40 hours per week that I spend working there are two things which define the rest of my time, riding and dogs. As most of you know we have 3 great dogs of our own-
Dickie (inspiration for, and made famous, by the Dickie Scramble) is a Border Collie mix. He is my "favorite" and he knows it. He often sits beside me while I write and uses bar stools, patio furniture etc. "like a good human". He spent most of his first 9 months running free near Blue Earth and fending for himself. Dickie and I have similar personalities.
Sam is an ornery 13 year old beagle. She lived with one family for 11 years before they gave her up. She was pretty misbehaved when we first got her, but that still seems crazy.
Lucky is a German Shepherd Dog. He was our first dog and was originally given up because he was hit by a car. He lost part of his tail in the accident and has some scarring on his legs. He is very athletic and shows no sign of the injuries bothering him.
We also have two cats, but I'll let Laura write about them if she wants to. A while back I wrote this-
About our 3rd cat "Balls", who sadly died of Lymphoma within a year.
Over the last two years we have also fostered 8 other dogs. Fostering is always an interesting process and often can be a lot of work, but is always rewarding. We are fortunate to have 3 great dogs of our own who help us to do some of the work when it comes to training the new ones.
Danny Boy has been with us for quite a while now. He was found running, but had been cared for by a vet and was neutered. It appears he had a good home who gave up on him (the only command he knew was "speak"). He has become a well behaved friend who loves going for car rides and walks, never has accidents in the house and loves to curl his 102 degree body up beside us in bed. As would be expected for his breed he can be loud and excitable, but only when provoked by the situation. We also have not spent enough time working on his recall when outdoors, but in the house he comes immediately treats or not. He is food motivated and will be easy to train once he gets used to his new family. He spends his days kenneled and is "ok" with that. He does well with our other dogs and cats, but because of his history should not go to a family with small children. I would love to find a good home for Danny soon in order to make room for another foster.
Please also contact me or comment if you are interested in fostering yourself, we can help point you in the right direction.