Dec 08 2013


I hope you have been able to take advantage of this dry weather. I rode today (Sunday, 12/08). It was cold, but my ride was flat – about as flat as you can get around here. A couple of pictures below show that not all ice fields are found in the mountains. You can see my shadow and the picture is pointing toward the north on East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Needless to say, I did not ride through the ice. I’m not as enthusiastic as some riders who have studded bike tires, nor am I a mountain biker who might be able to handle something as technical as this. I rode out and around. It reminds me of why I don’t ride hills when the weather is below freezing. Come back to visit this page in July/August to remember what real ice looks like. Be safe out there!





Aug 22 2013

Pirates, the cannibal, and sharks!

At the last minute I decided to join Eddie to ride half of the RSVP. I was going as a pirate. We started out from Marymoor tempting the rain by ditching our jackets. I must have run over something ‘cause I got a flat just at the entrance to the Sammamish river trail. I swapped out the tube but I was already dripping with sweat-yuck! We hit the trail at a decent clip staying at 18-20 to catch up with the main line. Sure enough at the big climb out of Woodenville we caught some riders.

As we got near Maltby we both thought of the bakery. Somehow I got another flat in Snohomish. Just as I took off my rear wheel, Eddie spotted a bike shop right across the street. A few $$’s later we were back on the road.
We made it to the first rest stop on the Centennial trail. They replaced the gates with posts- much friendlier to cyclists! Shortly after our stop we saw two cyclists lounging on a bench – it was the sharks! We stopped and chatted and waited for their support. Like me, they were pirates.

After they got some food and grog we set off. The ride intensity went up a notch. We rode and chatted on the trail and got to one section where Eddie started to ride faster…16..17..19..23.. I kept pace with the sharks, keeping Eddie in sight. Eddie was riding like his last name was Merckx!

We got to this weird section of the trail that nobody remembered and took a wrong turn. Eddie thought we could take a short cut – I didn’t know Eddie was so adventurous. At the last minute, we decided to turn around since we might miss shark support. Plus, shortcuts almost always involve a horrendously steep climb. We ended up putting in an extra mile or so getting back on track.

We were entering the part of the ride known as the infamous shark bait hill. I was the bait before and I tried to keep an even pace; but I felt the sharks sitting behind me. Then there it was; the theme from “Jaws” as the two sharks easily passed me. Shark bait again!

We stayed on the route for what seemed a long time until we finally caught up with shark support. Eddie and I shamelessly plundered shark support! The sharks were relentless and who wouldn’t be with such a great support team! We soon got back on the road heading toward the windy chip seal portion of the ride. I figured I’d take my time- the sharks flew out of sight and I started to feel a twinge in the leg. Just then a paceline of big riders passed me- how could I resist not leeching off of that? I wouldn’t call them whales, maybe more like groupers…there were two riders in gray- they looked like sharks too. I drafted off them until one of them saw me and they jumped on their pedals dropping me like a sack of potatoes. Fortunately the windy valley wasn’t as windy – but a lot of chip seal!  We met up with the sharks and took a break.

After the break, we knew the ride was nearly over- another 15-20 miles; through a valley and up Chuckanut. We wound through the roads – I kept the lead at 17 or so into the cave-like entrance to Chuckanut. Just over the bridge, some guy in a blue jersey passed me – his legs spinning along; I figured I could try to keep up. Just as I was going to catch him he veered off to the scenic overlook.

I kept looking in my mirror for the sharks. I knew they were lurking back there waiting to pounce. In my mirror I thought I saw a glimpse of one but then someone else popped into view. I kept watching in my mirror – I’d see a shark, and then he would disappear behind a rider. Then out of the blue, the shark music started up. “Sharks! Sharks!”, I screamed. This spooked the riders ahead of us. One lady shouted, “What’s all that noise back there?” She must be a mom because I remember my mom saying that in the same tone of voice.

The sharks chased and then passed me…but not fast enough to break away. I sped up and stayed on their tail grinding away. Just then shark one started to ease up a little but then I saw shark two jump out to the lead! They were going to tag-team! I figured I was as good as cooked shark bait. Then, the unthinkable happened – shark two looked like he seized up! It was time for me, shark bait the pirate, to take the lead – nothing was really hurting yet so I hammered away! I passed the sharks and felt them slowly slide off as I pushed on the inclines and pounded through the downhills.

As I was starting to run out of gas, the blue jersey guy passed me yet again! I chased after him but he flew away – I was able to just keep him in sight; but by then what I was really looking for was the lemonade signs. Where were they and could I get to them before the sharks caught up again and before I ran out of gas?

Finally the signs started popping up and no shark music! I passed one sign and another and finally hit the top! I almost fell off the bike but managed to hobble to get the lemonade. The lemonade people at the top of Chuckanut are Amazing!

After a very short time, the sharks appeared followed soon after by Eddie. We regrouped at the top and made our way down to our pick up point. Thank you to our support team and to our ride home. A great way to end a ride!

Jul 16 2013

Anyone Can STP in 1 Day!

There was once a time, a long time ago, long before the Renault Fuego was considered a stylish and sporty import, around the time when people would stand in line to use a payphone, during an age where one would hold up a cassette tape recorder up to the TV during Soul Train to record songs for mix tapes (“QUIET!! Can’t you see I’m recording here?!”), when I was a young lad, and I could hop onto a bike and pedal away. Of course back then I was on my imitation Schwinn Stingray from Sears, and wore bell-bottom jeans and striped T-Shirts, even though bell bottoms and stripes where no longer cool..they just happened to be the fashions that were handed down to me from other families, but enough kids were still wearing them that I didn’t look too dorky. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you know that this was a while ago.

Biking was a care-free proposition then. Later, I grew older and got a real bike. And by “real” I mean an assemblage of surplus parts, Suntour, Modolo, Dia Compe, bolted onto an old, and apparently-abandoned Schwinn frame that someone found in a basement. My franken-bike might’ve been ugly, but I could ride it fast, and far. I rode for miles, without “nutrition” or training.  Riding was my training. Up hills. Through headwinds. Didn’t matter. Nothing stopped us. Felt as strong as Lance on an EPO binge. I loved biking. It was exhilarating, and most of all, effortless.

Fast forward to 2003. Jane is very pregnant with our first child, and I’m employed as an Oompa Loompa at a large company. And while on paper the pay is good, in reality the company is definitely getting their money’s worth out of me. One thing for sure is that I haven’t been biking in a while. Somewhere along the way I had to buy all new pants, because I could no longer close the buttons around my waist. Around this time I decided that I’m going to have to do something about this, or else I may go broke having to buy bigger and bigger pants every year.  And thus began my odyssey to get back into shape. What took Sylvester Stallone a mere 15 minutes of plot time in “Rocky III” getting ready for his bout with Mr. T, took me about 10 years.

And, ok, let’s be honest here: I really haven’t made it back to where I used to be. Yes, I can fit into some of my old pants again. But as Jane calls it, my “muffin top” doesn’t look good (by the way, I can NEVER say that to her). I’m slower. Hills require excessive levels of exertion. My lungs burn, alveoli clawing for Oxygen. Breathing is so intense that I can taste blood. My heart sprints for dear life, like a baby gazelle chased by a hungry cheetah. My legs push as hard as they can, but I progress as if pulling a cable car up Nob Hill. Sweat drizzles down from my head, while white cakes of dried salt stain my helmet straps. This is what biking is like for me now. So naturally one asks “why, then, do you do this?” I don’t have a great answer: I do it because I love to bike.

This year was like recent years, with weekend sessions down to the Black Diamond Bakery, to Snoqualmie Falls, or laps around Lake Washington, except that I never really felt strong on any ride. I especially felt discouraged on the Mt. St. Helens ride, where I completely broke down, unable to keep pace with the others. I remembered a Greg LeMond interview where he described his return to racing after a couple years away, and how he couldn’t even make it up some of the climbs that he used to dominate, felt psychologically and emotionally broken, discouraged, and considered retiring right there on the spot. It was later during the same season where he went to win the Tour de France for the 2nd time.

Like most others, I trained to ride the STP in 2 days. What I especially like about the 2 day ride is the casual pace, the banana bread, cookies, and brownies. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. With 2 weeks to go, Doug gave me a phone call (not from a pay phone): “Hey, Eddie. Would you want to join William and me to attempt a 1-day ride? We’ll give it 12 hours. Wherever we are at that point, we’ll see whether we can finish. What do you say?”

Well, the rest is history. Doug, William and I started off at 5am sharp, and rolled into Centralia around 10am. We would’ve arrived sooner were it not for a mis-communication at Puyallup hill. William and I thought we were going to all regroup at the top, while Doug continued on. We spent at least 30 minutes trying to figure out where each other were. We celebrated Centralia with noodles and peanut butter sandwiches (MANY MANY thanks to Lori, Esther, and Daniel!). More delays were caused by a derailleur adjustment I needed, and also by the 15-minute bathroom line, which I stood in because William didn’t want me to be “one of those people” who go in the bushes.

The 2nd 100 miles were tougher. I found that I could maintain a consistent 17.5mph pace, whether I was plowing through headwind, or drafting behind a group. William was very frustrated by this, since I would go long stretches without drafting, and burning more energy than needed. Truth is, I prefer to draft, and agree that it’s much easier. However, to draft meant I had to accelerate to catch up to a group to draft, and acceleration simply wasn’t in the cards. On top of that, whenever I did manage to find a group to draft, they’d speed up, then slow down, then speed up again, and I found that even more exhausting.

I spent a number of miles spinning at 17.5, head down, pushing against the wind, watching the asphalt roll by. I tried not to look at the odometer. Just keep spinning. Drink. Eat. Spin. Then, we made it to St. Helens, the 12 hour mark. Actually it was 13, but at this point I there was no question in my mind. With only 30 miles to go I was going to complete the ride. The next 20 were tough. I was tired and wanted to finish. My back, shoulders, wrists, all very sore. Finally, we hit the last big hill climb up to the St John’s bridge over the Willamette, where my legs finally gave it up. I managed to maintain 17.5 for the past 100 miles since Centralia, powering over the rollers and short climbs along the way, and now I ran out of gas, crawling my way up the hill, over the bridge, and into Portland by 8pm. We made it. I gave it my all, as it took my all to make it in. Total time 15 hours. Ride time, 12 hours. Glad I did it. Glad it’s done.

To close, I have a few random thoughts:

  • I need to tweak my handlebars, rotating them upward 1 or 2 degrees. I felt like I was leaning over too much on my hoods. Fatiguing.
  • I want to change out the synthetic tape on by handlebars. I’ve always used cork in the past. The synthetic chafes my skin. Don’t like.
  • Want new gloves, with thicker padding.
  • Leather Saddle = Happy Backside (this is for Jon Okada)
  • Will try chamois butter on my next > century ride. No need for details here. Move along.
  • I really like my Vittoria Diamonte Pro tires (220 tpi). Always used Michelins in the past.
  • Would like to try aero bars for my next > century ride.
  • Proper Nutrition > Conditioning. I’m proof. Take Heather’s workshop. It works.
  • William and Doug have proven that with just a couple of short training rides, you too can do the STP in 1 day



Jul 14 2013

2013 STP in 1 Day


This was an event that I had been wanting to do for many years, ever since my first STP. So this year, I finally
decided to do it. Kary had planned everything out, with Gail and Kathryn providing support. Kary even had a customized spreadsheet to figure out the time points and you could enter various speeds. According to the spreadsheet, our projected end-time would be 7:15pm

We started at 4 – as in dark, cold, 4am. We started out this way to avoid burning the matches early. Riding in the dark with headlights slows you down. Naturally, Eric P. rode to the start getting in an extra 12miles. It was kind of neat riding in the dark with the group. I usually just ride solo in the dark on my commutes. Kary lead us all the way down to the first stop near REI; there were very few people there. I took off the Tyvek jacket that you always get for the STP. Kary and Gail brought some onigiri with umeboshi. This stuff is awesome! Food from my childhood and beyond.

We worked our way toward “the Hill” but not before our team hit a tack field. Some thoughtless person decided it would be fun to see cyclists fixing flats. Peng was in front of me and took two tacks. Chao and Kary both got one and Tom nearly got one. I swapped out Peng’s flat since I figured he took my tack. After 10 minutes fixing flats, we got back on course. As we hit the hill, I decided it wasn’t time to burn out so I kept it easy. Kary was at the top first, so in addition to being king of the mountain, he is king of the hill. We got there 15min ahead of schedule despite the flats! Kary picked up another tube, we got more food and we were back on the road. On the way to our next stop, some screeching noises came from Kary’s back wheel. We couldn’t figure out what it was – we thought it was just something that got stuck in the brake so we kept going. I had my own mechanicals; my front derailleur was still out of tune. I had to be very careful so it didn’t flip off the big ring and if it did, I switched gears to the small ring so it flipped back on. I learned this trick from Eddie. If you want to really learn how to ride your bike, ride with Eddie. Unfortunately, one time it flipped off the small ring and you can’t get away from that one – or at least I don’t know how other than to stop and put it back on.

McKenna: normally we take lunch on the two-day, but here it was just another stop. I made my pit stop – and here’s a hint for you if you’re a guy: sit down to take your bio-break. You get to sit on something else other than a saddle. Howard was saying his knee and ankle were hurting a little so he took some ibuprofen. As he was talking about it, my ankle and knee started to hurt too so I took some ibuprofen myself. I tried out one of the humbows that Tom brought. He got it from Duk Li in the ID – they have some good Chinese pastry. If you go there, try their iced tea too. We took our fifteen minute break with seconds to spare and got back on the road. Gail’s timer was relentless, but we were determined to be ahead of schedule.

Tenino: our plan was to stay on the road instead of taking the narrow bike trail and as we got near it, Peng missed a turn. We got back on the route, but then we got fouled up and missed the turn and ended up on the trail. Chao and I hung back a bit, but never too far from the pack. I’m glad there weren’t too many people on the narrow trail unlike the coming two-day riders. We made it out of the trail and hit the restrooms. We waited a few seconds as Eric finished talking about World Bike Relief to another rider. World Bike Relief is what we were riding for this year. Check it out and make a donation! We stopped at Tenino and got some food and ice cold water. Chao and I talked up QM4 – you might want to check it out. I saw Eric Y. sitting down on the ground. I could not do that! If I did, I would not be able to get up. Another hint for you – I took at least 3 Endurolytes every stop, used Nuun for every bottle, and I forced myself to try to finish a bottle just before each stop. No kochin for me!

Centralia: Philip was right behind me as we rolled in. Chao avoided the spray, but I told Philip to follow me through the spray. It felt great! We got our creamsicles – I had to eat mine during a bio-break (ok, don’t read this while you’re eating!) and we got back on the road. We missed a turn going to the Pepermill and Kary had to stop again for a flat. I told Eric P. that I didn’t need the extra miles. What I forgot to say was that I “dialed-in” my legs for only 200 miles. We got to the Peppermill and Kary swapped out his front wheel. At this point, I followed Chao’s old suggestion to take off my shoes. I knew from RAMROD and the High Pass Challenge that my feet start to hurt after about 100 miles and this was it. Craig decided to stop – he was battling gout and he’d done a century. Craig is pretty tough! After we took our break, we got back on the road, minus one of our lead cyclists. We were down to nine.

Vader: Getting to Vader, you have to go through a bit of a climb, but then you get to take a nice downhill. Part way through the downhill, I whizzed past Kary on the side of the road; it looked like he was adjusting his brake. Shortly after, we waited for him and we rode to a gas station where we met up with our support. It turned out that the bearings in Kary’s rear wheel were making those loud noises we heard before. Kary swapped out his rear wheel and used Peng’s spare wheel. I never thought we’d need a full wheel set, but it’s good we had one courtesy of Peng. We got back on the road and our group attacked the climb to Vader. The Vader stop that we use is a shady park spot. I took off my shoes again. There was some chip seal there – it was a great massage for my feet; it was also a very cool spot, out of the hot sun.

Longview: At the timer, I set out from Vader – the group started out a little slow so I was solo for a bit. The group caught up pretty quickly and we rode pretty much without incident to Longview. I again took off my shoes – very comfortable break for my feet. We got back on the road and hit the Longview bridge. Philip was leading and we got stuck behind this guy who was pretty slow going up the bridge. Normally there’s a dedicated lane across the bridge on Sunday, but for the one-day riders, you have to go up the narrow walkway – single file. A tandem and another rider passed early on taking a chance in the car lane. But we stayed behind the slow guy. It was torturous just sitting behind Philip who was sitting behind these two slow guys. It was also kind of scary going down the bridge too, but we had long since learned to space ourselves out on descents. Then we made our way into Longview where some event was happening and we had to stop a few times for people crossing the streets. We then made our way to the nice slightly downhill grade. You can pick up some pretty good speed in this area, cruising along at 20+. We then grinded our way up the slight grade leading to St. Helens.

St. Helens to the finish: I took the normal pit stop at St. Helens, taking my shoe break, and our support team got us some popsicles; pretty good, but a bit sugary for me. A few guys got some cokes from McDonald’s. Eric Y. had wanted coffee earlier but settled for a coke, and not just an ordinary coke, Eric Y. got a cherry coke. We set off for our final destination, but we ended up taking an unplanned break at Scappoose. I filled my water and Philip couldn’t resist laying down on the grass. A few minutes later, we started off – Chao and Tom set a blistering pace at 20; I tried to keep up and here’s where things get a bit foggy. I think they eventually slowed down and I took the lead. I kept up at 19, then dropped to 18, then 17 or so and then I rotated out. I ended up on the rear and started to run out of gas – I drifted back further and I just saw the team get smaller and smaller. I kept up at about 15 or so but all I can say is I was beat. I rode on for a while looking for a World Bike Relief jersey, but found none. Then I saw Eric P. on the side of the road waiting. He asked what happened and all I could say was I was getting tired. He pulled me along for a while and then as we got toward the climb up to St. Johns bridge he rode out of sight. I had to stop at the base of the bridge and eat something – I bonked pretty hard. Fortunately I had the umeboshi onigiri in my back pocket and my handy kochin bottle. I refueled and made my way across the bridge. I finally met up with the group and we made our way through some stop lights. At one, I managed to stuff a peanut butter sandwich in my mouth and grab a few more slugs from the kochin bottle; enough to get me through the bonk and across the finish line at about 6:45pm

Thanks to those who supported our team – rest stop supports, training, planning, and pre-ride carb load: Kary, Gail, Kathryn, Craig, and Eric P.!

PS – Eddie, William, and Doug did the one-day as well. You’ll have to ask them how it went, but I know they finished it!

Jul 06 2013


This is our last ride before the 2013 one-day STP. We gathered up at Marymoor Park – a rather small crew, but enough to do some pacelining. Peng started out at a pretty fast clip, right up at 20 out of the park and onto the trail. He missed one turn, then the next – I figured he was pretty enthusiastic or maybe he needed to get home right away. I took up the lead next. I tried to keep it at around 18-20 trying to dodge the walkers, runners, and other cyclists. Eric Y. reminded me to rotate out, so I did and Eric lead up to the join to Woodinville. Then Peng lead again through the heavily wooded area, dodging the ducks/geese and going around the tight turn after the bridge. Shortly after that we were on the B-G (Burke-Gilman trail). Here’s a fun fact: Did you know the G in the B-G is the same G in Gilman Blvd in Issaquah? We then kept up a pretty fast pace on the B-G to Log Boom Park where we stopped for water. We took a few minutes and got back on the B-G. Our next stop was the Metropolitan Market near Sandpoint, where we took a bio-break. About 15min. later we were back on the B-G. We did some rotations and made our way toward Lake Washington Blvd negotiating our way through the notorious switchback in Lakeview Park. We made our way along the lake. I didn’t see my speed drop below 18. We made a short stop at Seward Park. While Chao waited, Phillip and I got our water and Eric and Peng hit the hill. Phillip said he’d sit behind me up the climb. These little hills are short but steep, but after that it was mostly downhill to Rainier Ave. Peng got us up to a nice 22mph pace to the airport. Our next stop was at Coulon park where we got more water saw a bunch of Cascade riders and then headed up the trail along Lake Washington. I hadn’t been on this trail for quite a while – in fact, I think it was my first time this year. Chao led us along until the short climb to exit 9 where Peng led off, but Eric followed up. I chased Eric up the climb – so Eric is a good descender and he’s a fast climber! We cruised along until the short little hill near Factoria where Phillip took off. We caught him at the light but then he took off again up Honda hill. I chased after him, but he’s got “young legs” and I’ve got these “old-fart” legs. I got to within about 25 yards of him and that’s as close as I could get. We rode onto 161st and somewhere in that neighborhood Peng dropped off to his house. Shortly after that my chain fell off the big ring – it really disrupts the rhythm! I finally caught up to the guys, but by that time Phillip had gone home and Chao was turning off too. Eric and I made our way back to Marymoor following the “green arrows.” My final stats show we did about 57 miles in 3:22 riding time. ‘Sorry – no pictures, it went pretty fast!
Pretty fast for me, but it was great weather and good paceline practice. We started at around 8:15am and finished around 12noon.

Jun 25 2013

Mt. St. Helens – June 22, 2013

One thing about this ride is that it is far away – a solid 2 hours by car. By the time we hit MortonI really had to go. My advice is to take I-5 all the way to around Chehalis and then head east on 12. People picked up some food – I got three packs of fig newtons.

We started off this ride at Randle instead of the real High Pass Challenge route that starts at Packwood.
Our goal was climbing. Kary had two bikes – his brand new Cervelo and his trusty Ti bike. He started off
with the Cervelo. We tried a little pacelining, moving along at 17+. The weather was great as we rode onto
Forest Road 25. We then started climbing. I was part way up the first climb when I found that it was difficult
to shift from the large to the small chain ring. I figured I was going to have to adjust my efforts for this

The group pretty much spread out – I was going to try to keep up with Kary, Eric P., and Craig, but when it
came time to shift to the big ring I had to drop back and sit in the small ring. Tim passed me by after
a little while and then Eric Y. caught up to me. We kept up an easy pace for a while to the food stop. Many
thanks go to Gail for providing support – she was waiting for us at the Wakepish Sno Park stop. We all fueled up and took on as many provisions as we could since the road going up was closed to vehicles. I popped a few Endurolytes and took some spam musubi (thanks Kary and Gail!) and peanut butter only sandwiches (thanks Craig!) and filled up on water. Kary switched out his bike for his Ti bike. We then headed out.

It was a relatively easy grade so people didn’t get too strung out, but as the grade increased we all got strung out. I was out front for a ways, but then Eric P. just took off at a steady but fairly fast pace. Kary and I rode together for a ways and then when it came time to shift to the big ring I hung back and Kary kept his steady pace. It stayed that way pretty much through until we hit Bear Meadows. I saw someone taking pictures at Bear Meadows – it looked like Eric P. but the jersey was a different color so I kept my mouth shut.  Kary was waiting at the Cascade Peaks stop. When we did the High Pass Challenge a couple of years ago they had some great sandwiches. I got some reasonable pictures of the guys coming into the stop. After a short time, Eric P. came in. It turned out the guy taking pictures was Eric P. – he just took off his outer jersey.

At this point, it’s another 7 miles to Windy Ridge. The scenery is outstanding – a deep valley on one side and
the mountain almost close enough to touch. The road winds around the hills. On the High Pass Challenge you
can see other cyclists far away – they look like little dots moving along the road. On the way up we saw plenty
of snow off to the side of the road. Since forest road 99 was closed to vehicles we had the road to ourselves.
I munched on a peanut butter only sandwich courtesy of Craig.

We were unsupported so I hoped nothing would happen. We started out for the last seven miles to Windy Ridge.
There are a few deceptive rollers at this point and the road has a lot of curves in it. Eric Y. took off first.
I forgot that he is a pretty good descender. Kary and I managed to catch up to him before Craig and Eric P.
overtook us. Shortly after, we stopped at another lookout point and I gave Craig some much needed Endurolytes. We then made it to Windy Ridge, the end of the majority of climbing. The ride back was mostly downhill with some climbs interspersed. Kary and I rode together for a while up to Bear Meadows and then people mostly took off. Kary stayed with me down to the rest stop at Wakepish. We picked up Eddie, fueled up, and took off. Once again, people strung out as Craig and Eric P. took off followed by Kary, Eric Y., Eddie, and me. But soon I had to drop off once it was time to hit the big ring. I later hit the big ring when I knew the majority of the ride down was all downhill. I finally caught up to Eric Y. He and I kept each other company back to the finish where Craig, Eddie, Eric P., and Kary were waiting. Soon after, Victor and Tim rolled in. A great finish to a challenging ride!

Thanks to Gail for providing support!

Thanks to Craig for the custom peanut butter only sandwiches

Thanks to Eric Y. for driving and Thanks to Victor for keeping Eric Y. awake on the drive back!

Jun 24 2013

Bike Noises


Left: good bearing Right: destroyed bearing


Bottom bracket

Well, I can tell you about the rides I’ve been on these past few months: the Chilly Hilly, the Seven Hills of Kirkland, the Flying Wheels Summer Century, Crystal Mountain, and part of the High Pass Challenge. I could tell you tales of soaking wet rides, endless cramps, and some spills, but maybe some other post. I _will_ tell you about some of these rides from a different point of view and as a famous comedian used to say, “If you’re not careful, you just might learn something.”

Bike to Work Month; sun, rain, wind were all there along with all the crazy riders. I was on my trusty Scott cyclocross for most of the rides. The bike took a beating; I replaced the rear brake pads some time
in March but later in May I found I had to replace the rear pads again. I then found that the shifting wasn’t
right – the cable had stretched so I sent it out to the bike shop. I then pulled out the Cannondale to finish out the last part of Bike to Work Month (May) and do a couple of training rides with Kary and Gail, Eddie, and John W. On one ride, I was trying to draft off the tandem. Draft, get sprayed by brown water, back-off, repeat; these training rides were starting to be like my commutes – wet and dirty!

On the Seven Hills of Kirkland, a third of the way in it starts to drizzle. But to make matters worse, I started to hear a grinding noise. No, it wasn’t my knees…it came from my pedals. I thought some dust got in the pedals and I’d grease them when I got home. I also heard some creaking.

A day or so later I went to pick up the Scott. I had the mechanic replace the rear brake pads (again) and the chain, and tune up the derailleur. But the mechanic pointed out that I needed new rims. Remember I told you I replaced the rear pads twice in about three months? Also that my rides were wet and dirty?

Just about then, Jason (the Jason who has really fancy bikes with mirror-like cogs) had some wheels for sale.
I waited to give other folks a fair swipe at them and then bought them. These weren’t just the cheesy wheels I had
on my bikes, these were Eastons! Before putting them on, I figured I’d fix the pedals to see if the grinding would stop. I discovered that the dust cap on the left side had disappeared. I took the pedal apart and found that a
bearing was completely worn away. Another ride or so and the pedal would have failed; so I got new pedals
and cleats. I tried them out on a short commute and found I had to adjust the cleat angle and eventually the
seat height. You need to be comfortable on a ride! The grinding was gone, but the creaking remained.

I finally yanked off the FSA wheelset I bought last year at the Bike Expo – the ones with the recessed spokes that needed a special spoke wrench where I paid more for the shipping than the wrench itself. The FSA’s were always dubious but made that cool buzzing sound that makes your bike sound like an angry bee.

I pulled off the cassette and put it on the Eastons and swapped out the front and rear brake pads. I went on a short commute and the creaking sound stopped – I think the cassette had been loose on the FSA’s.
On the Flying Wheels ride at the last stop in Carnation, I got a flat. I took it to the mech tent and as the guy
was replacing the tube, he showed me that the rear tread was thin and showed me the casing saying that I needed a new tire. Later in the ride I started to hear some loud pinging noises from the bottom bracket. I went and got new tires and re-checked the pedals and cleats, but the pinging was still there. I replaced the chain hoping it
would fix it, but it didn’t.

I was hoping not to replace the bottom bracket but since it was the only culprit left, I got a bottom bracket tool. Inexperienced mechanic that I am I almost stripped the bottom bracket ring. I took it into the shop and after they ribbed me a bit saying the bottom bracket looked pretty stripped, they took it off in less than ten seconds. That bottom bracket was as old as Eddie’s oldest daughter. I got a no-name brand bottom bracket and – the popping was gone!

The next ride was up to Windy Ridge at Mt. St. Helens. The mechanical problem on this ride was I couldn’t shift
from the big to the small chain ring very easily. I shortened my chain and tested it on the stand. My next ride
should be pretty good mechanically.

The lesson – make sure your bike is noiseless; if it’s talking to you, try to figure out where the noise is coming from. Here’s my summary:
Creaking – pop off the cogs, re-grease and tighten
Grinding – check the pedals (bearing is the top picture – the big rings used to be together; the center ring is completely gone)
Popping – check the bottom bracket (if you look close, you can see that I nearly stripped it)
Sore knees anterior (front) – move the saddle up
Chain refuses to shift from big ring to small – shorten the chain
Repetitive flats – get new tires
Happy Riding!

An update:

Shifting: The problem with shifting didn’t end with shortening the chain. I still had problems with the chainrings. I replaced the shift cables and adjusted the cable tension and this time it would flip off the big ring. So, during the STP I figured out how to get it back on the chainring by shifting to the small. But that was very unsatisfactory.

Creaking: It has mostly stopped, but when standing on hills there was still some creaking coming from the front. On the STP Eric P. mentioned the headset. My headset had not been checked during my eight years of commuting and training in pretty nasty weather.

I finally threw in the towel and took it to the bike shop – I’ve been going to Gerks in Issaquah: fast turn around, kind of pricey, but the staff is knowledgeable. They took apart the headset and the bearings came apart when the fork was dropped for inspection. I also got a new front derailleur since the old one was bent and one of the limit screws was frozen. Everything works a lot better now. My body now just needs some shop time.

Apr 21 2013

Lake Washington Loop – 4/20/13

Similar to last week, the dark clouds loomed over us for the entire ride. The threat of rain was with us throughout the ride but the rain never came until after we were done. It was good to see all the friendly faces show up ready to ride regardless of the weather. It was actually a pretty chilly start for us in the morning as we headed out from Sunset Elementary. As we headed around the east side of Lake Sammamish, we saw numerous riders including several large groups (15-20) going in the opposite direction; I believe they were from the local Cascade Club. Traffic on the Sammamish River trail was quite light possibly due to the weather and time of day which was a blessing. As we rounded the top of Lake Washington we encountered a stiff head wind from the south which slowed us down a bit and took whatever pep we had left in our legs up to that point. Our only extended stop was at the Starbucks in Leschi. If you haven’t been there lately, it’s become quite popular amongst the biking community, finding a parking space for your bike especially for a tandem is becoming difficult. From there, Steve and Jon decided to head back across I-90 as the rest of the group continued around the south end of Lake Washington. While heading south on Rainer Ave, there was a large funeral procession line of cars heading north which cause the south bound lane to pull over and stop including bikers, never seen that before. As we got to the eastside closer towards the end of our ride, a number of us started tracking the number of miles hoping that we’ll hit 65 miles. Last week’s ride of 59.25 miles after having advertised it as 60 miles didn’t go over too well with the crowd last Saturday. Luckily for me, having advertised this week’s ride as 65 miles, we actually recorded 65.08 miles. Great job everyone!

042013 Route
Distance: 65.08 mi
Time: 4:39:27
Avg Pace: 4:18 min/mi
Avg Speed: 14.0 mph
Elevation Gain: 1,611 ft
Calories: 3,668 C
Avg Temperature: 48.2 °F
Time: 4:39:27
Moving Time: 4:25:38
Elapsed Time: 5:27:48
Avg Speed: 14.0 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 14.7 mph
Max Speed: 33.9 mph

Sep 18 2012

RATS2012 – Sept 15, 2012

This ride is not about the rodents, but it is the Ride Around The Sound. A charity ride for the American Lung Association. I rode it in memory of my Dad.
The ride started out at South Seattle Community College in West Seattle. I met up with a UW Medicine rider, but after the first 12 miles, we split up. I then met up with Tom, Peng, and Chao. The weather was a little on the cool side, but perfect for a bike ride. We rode through some very scenic areas in communities you know about but you might not have seen near the coast. Here’s a link to the route.
The ride was scenic but it was not your everyday leisure ride. There was some significant climbing; according to Peng’s GPS almost 4000′ of climbing. Most of the climbs were short with grades of around 5-10%. We stopped at the top of one and Tom was talking about a chili cheese burger. I could feel my stomach gurgle. Then we started a climb around mile 45 that started to pitch at 10%, then got steeper as you rounded a corner to at least 15% or more. I nearly tossed my cookies when I was climbing as I thought about Tom’s burger. I found that Tom powers up climbs in the big ring. Whenever I heard Tom switching to the big ring, I knew a climb was beginning.
There were also some tricky descents. Some were downright scary, dropping quickly and hitting hairpins at the bottom. This would be a dangerous ride in the rain.
We hit some train tracks just before Tacoma and saw a fire engine and police cars because a rider had gone down. The tracks are dangerous since they’re at a worse angle than near Coulon Park. Peng’s wheel slid a little on them and this was with dry weather!
We then hit a flat area and because of the climbs and lack of training I was getting worn out. I drifted behind to about 17 or so as Tom, Peng, and Chao picked up the pace to 20+. We regrouped near the Tacoma dome and headed toward the Narrows Bridge.
The infamous bridge was very scenic. Our goal was to stop off in Gig Harbor for lunch. I really needed the break since my legs were threatening to cramp. I kept drinking water like crazy – managing to stay off any endurolytes. In fact, I didn’t even bring them!
We had a good lunch at Kelly’s Cafe – everyone ate well. It was a good stop and a good recovery time for me. I found out that Chao and Peng have done a lot of rides over the summer, each one putting in over 2000 miles.
After the lunch stop, I felt a lot better, but the guys kept a steady pace of 14-17. We met up with my fellow UW Medicine rider at the Olalla Elementary stop, but he waived us on.
The last few miles were scenic and thankfully relatively flat. It seemed to take a while to get to the ferry as the route hugs the coastline and there was at least one turn where it looked like we’d see the dock, but it was still a half-mile or more away. We finally finished at around 4:15 getting back to Seattle around 5pm – I was tired, but glad there were no cramps, no flats, and no crashes (for us). Since we were going east toward the city, the ferry ride back was free!
Thanks to Tom, Chao, and Peng for riding with me and thanks to Tom for the pictures!

Jun 26 2012

Snoqualmie Valley Ride – 6/24/12

How fortunate we were to have perfect weather this past Sunday afternoon for a scenic ride in Snoqualmie Valley. My apologies for not specifying the mileage of the ride in my email, the route I advertised in the CTL site indicated 45 miles but actually it was closer to 40 miles. It was unfortunate that Saturday’s donut ride was cancelled due to inclement weather. However, there was a small window between 10:00am – noon Saturday where the roads dried out and the sun actually poked through the clouds. Hopefully, you had a chance to take advantage of that opportunity and get some quick miles in the saddle before the rain came.

Sunday’s ride started out auspiciously. Steve Shaw on his way to Sunset Elementary fell on his bike on the tight switchbacks behind Sunset. Luckily, he only sustained several scraps and bruises but unfortunately Steve was unable to ride with us. Steve, I hope you heal quickly. We had a good showing joining us for the ride, Janine, Curt, Cho, Peng, Doug Yip, Eddie, Jason, and Colin & his son Jamis (on their tandem) all met at Sunset. Colin, it was nice to see another tandem. The route planned was essentially the short version of the Flying Wheels. For those who are familiar with the route, there are plenty of challenging hills and a lot of rollers. With the route and pace, this was not one of the easier rides…ask Janine :) . Here’s a riddle, what stands upright on a hill and is shiny? If you guessed Jason racing up a hill on one of his 17 bikes you’re correct…the guy loves grinding up hills off the saddle…amazing but painful to watch. There are 3 major hills in the route, of which Jason made his way to the top first on two of them (Inglewood and Ames Lake) and Eddie taking the last hill (Stair-step)…nice job guys. We all rode at a brisk pace covering 40 miles in less than 3.5 hours including brief stops at the top of hills and two rest stops.

This was one of the last few remaining training rides leading up to the STP with exception to this coming Saturday’s Crystal Mountain ride. I hope everyone is finally rounding into shape.

Sorry, no pictures or data is available for the ride, poor planning by the ride organizer.

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