Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Continuing the trend

Hey, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I really wasn't looking forward to the Nebraska road calendar opening up all that much? That's still true.

But since we're all being super honest here, I'll spill some more: I haven't really been that interested in anything road related. This has much less to do with not wanting to ride on the road and almost everything to do with being ill-equipped.

Thanks to the good charity of Mike Miles, I had a loaner frame to ride while waiting for the 2015 gear allotment from the team. But it was long and ill-fitting and never felt right. It seemed like I was pretty much always fighting it. So I didn't ride it much. I instead rode the Crux as much as possible. And since I rode the Crux a lot I rode on dirt or gravel a lot.

Having spent a decent chunk of Sunday afternoon and evening getting the new Allez ready, however, I'm suddenly much, much more interested in the road season. The bike is set up exactly the same as in 2014, and as soon as I hopped on the trainer after it was done, I knew it was perfect.

It's ready to go, minus getting the steerer cut. And then it's all about trying to get myself ready to go. Cirrem is five weeks away.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fortunate son

Somehow or another, I've built up a new bike at the beginning of every road season for the past six years. I'm not sure this was ever really in the plan, but here we are again. A new frame arrived yesterday, which means it's time to get cracking.

It started here, in 2009:

And then I got my first Madone demo bike for 2010:

But the frame cracked halfway through the season so I got this instead:

The 2011 Madone was probably my favorite in terms of looks. Also, it was a fantastic bike.

The 2012 bike was pretty much the same, just with different paint and wheels. For a while I kicked myself about not buying it. It was a great bike. 

But I probably would have sold it anyway, out of spite, when I changed teams. Spite is a stupid reason to sell bikes, but I know myself. In 2013, the bike was a matte black Specialized Allez.

I got the whole team on board with the Allez for 2014, and we had a fleet of them. It was awesome. 

For 2015, it's more of the same. I once again should have just kept last year's bike, since it's almost exactly the same as this year's bike. The only difference is in logo placement on the seat tube. Last year it said Specialized, this year it has some color highlights and a logo that says "D'Alusio Smartweld," which refers to the frame's manufacturing process.
As a racer of my caliber (middling), I know it's a veritable embarrassment of riches to be able to break in a new bike every spring. I've been pretty lucky to be able to take advantage of opportunities to always ride the newest and best. This year's Allez will have a couple of small changes in the build, but I'm really looking forward to getting it on the road. Many thanks to Flatwater Cycling and Joyride Bicycles for hooking me up, once again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rabbit hole

Last Saturday, prior to heading to the Children's Museum for Star Wars Night (yes, it's a thing and the kids love it), I forced a detour to Homer's Music in the Old Market. To be fair, it was at least on the way to Zio's. But I pretty much demanded we stop in.

I have not been in Homer's since it moved farther west on Howard. First off, I forgot how much record stores smell like dust and incense and pot. When we lived in Iowa, I did music reviews for the newspaper there. Each week I visited Co-Op Records in Cedar Falls. It was pretty much exactly like Homer's, right down to the smell.

Anyway, I was going somewhere with this. I was surprised by exactly how much vinyl they had on the racks. I probably shouldn't have been, but it was nuts. Having paid attention to basically nothing outside of digital releases since iTunes became a thing, I had no idea that pretty much everything new comes out on vinyl as well as on CD and digitally. Just glancing through the racks, I spent about $500 in my head. "Oh, I need that. Oh, that one, too. Sweet, look at that."

There's a wish list out there for when I fall face first into a couple hundred dollars (it'll happen sometime, right?), and it's all going to get blown on records. I'd like a remastered copy of Abbey Road, please. And Time Out, too. Also, Kind of Blue, the few Wilco albums I don't have on vinyl, Moving Pictures, the new Sleater-Kinney, Nebraska, the Tweedy record, Brill Bruisers, ... it goes on like this. Easy a few hundred dollars.

And that says nothing of the used bins that I didn't even get to. Why? Because Jack and Maddy had also never been in a record store like that, and there's only so long you can keep them away from the pot-leaf-shaped novelty items.

This record thing is a big-time rabbit hole. Luckily, I managed to get out of the store with just one new record: Bon Iver's self-titled album. Pretty much perfect for chilling out in the basement, incense  burning and taking a pull from ... uh, wait ... that's not it. Incense is stupid.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Good start

At some point last fall, I was talking to Mark or Jordan or maybe Mark and Jordan but at separate times ... whatever ... about training and actually being ready to race when it's time for the good stuff.

By good stuff I mean things that aren't in March and April.

Anyway, Jordan advocated for good, consistent work on a weekly basis. Good call — consistency breeds consistency. Mark advocated for a slightly later start to the intensity. Ride lots, sure, but trying to be ready to crush it in April makes for a long, long season.

Since Christmastime or thereabouts, I've been doing both. I'm aiming for five rides a week, all quality stuff. That doesn't mean hard stuff, necessarily, but riding with a purpose. And the workouts now are mostly tempo and slightly above, so when it's time to add the really stabby stuff in spring, I'll be in good shape to begin with.

I feel good so far. Cirrem is about 5.5 weeks away and I'm riding strong. Weight is good, but could be a little lower. But overall, consistency has paid off. And it's helped significantly having decent weather this winter.

So that's that. And speaking of good starts, hey ... coffee's ready.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On the radio

I have the good fortune of being able to listen to music pretty much whenever I want over the course of the day. Since I handle California things, I have two hours of quiet time before the phone starts ringing around 10 a.m.

So I put in the earbuds and listen to whatever is on my phone. I have the second good fortune to own a crap-ton of music, so I have many, many, many songs at hand. I don't know where I got ahold of Chris Bathgate's music, but it's been in heavy rotation lately.

Here's my favorite, "Do What's Easy"

And the lyrics:

Do what's easy
steal every red cent out of the wishing well
smoke cigarettes ‘til your chest rattles like hell
just do what's easy

Waste every evening 
don't ever read and don't ever write
never leave home and get drunk every night
just do what's easy

Hate completely
let every wall feel the force of your fist
forget your debts cause forgiveness exists 
just do what's easy
--

Well, that's not terribly uplifting, is it? But it's a beautiful song. Hit the "NAVIGATE" button on his website and check out the rest. You should be able to listen to most everything. Good stuff. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stack 'em up

Two gorgeous days, two awesome rides. The miles were long(ish) and hilly and sometimes awful. So, basically, good work getting done.

I was planning on waiting for it to warm up on Saturday, figuring I'd weave my way out of town to face the anticipated horrible NNW wind. Gusts on tap for 25 or 35 mph. Ugh. But when I got the newspaper at 8ish, it was warm enough and quiet. TIME TO GO.

I decided to head out straight west, then north a bit. The heavy, nasty wind didn't hit until about a mile before my intended turn-around. Or, more accurately, my turn east. So it was just a short slog into the nasty and then FULL SPEED AHEAD. I stopped at the intersection up above because it was just on the other side of a short ride. The sun was beaming down, the wind was momentarily calm, and all was right. The rest of the ride as a big pile of rolling and super-gusty wind.

And I only got blown off the road once, so that's a bonus.

On Sunday, with a light SW wind in the forecast, I instead headed SE on road tires. I haven't been across the river for a while, so I aimed for the Council Bluffs hills. I found them, and by the last handful I was really dreading going up again.

I think I ended up with about 3:45 on the clock and almost 60 miles. That's a good day. And I may have even gotten a little too much sun on my face. It's hard to remember sunscreen in January.

All told, it was a good week. More good weather is ahead, and I think it'll be new bike time soon. That'll do.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The best policy

This is a picture from last year's Tour de Husker road race. Hi Fred! (He's sitting in.) Those guys look absolutely miserable. It was like that for everybody last year. And it was like that the year before, too.

Were both days regular training days, I would have ridden the trainer instead. And of all of the times I've ever worn my super-heavy gloves, only twice have I raced in them: Tour de Husker 2013 and 2014. It was awful.

As we crank out the miles heading toward spring, I'm really looking forward to Cirrem, despite the very real chance it will be (for lack of a better term) a horrendously muddy shitshow. I knew it might be that way when I registered, but I think it will be a nice challenge. Tour de Husker will open the Nebraska road season, and if I'm being perfectly honest, I want nothing to do with it. Not even a little bit interested.

Why?

Well, it's been in the teens the last two years. That's a start. Registration numbers have been super low, too. Last year there were maybe 15 guys in the 1/2/3 race. Why is that? Because a good chunk of the 1/2/3 riders in Omaha and especially Lincoln didn't race. That makes for miserable racing. It's not really something to look forward to.

But seeing as how I think it's kinda lame to skip a local race just because you don't like the weather/field/course, I'll be there. And yeah, I've skipped a race for one of those reasons — I felt lame afterward.