Category Archives: Personal stuff

Can’t get a new engine, but a new bike helps!

When you look up at Skyline from below, seeing all the fog, you're thinking great, my brand new bike, first real ride, is going to be a mess. But it magically burns off before you get there, and you wonder what could be nicer than a morning like this?
When you look up at Skyline from below, seeing all the fog, you’re thinking great, my brand new bike, first real ride, is going to be a mess. But it magically burns off before you get there, and you wonder what could be nicer than a morning like this?

There were supposed to be three more rides left in my 2010 Madone 6, not quite 5 years old. Last night riding home, this morning on the regular ride up Kings, and a final ride to the shop. Quite the surprise when UPS delivered my bike a day early, so I got it built up enough to ride home last night, leaving my old Madone in a sad state of partial disassembly, prior to stripping everything off and sending the frame back to Trek so they can see what 36,652.9 hard miles (including a crash or two, one of which resulted in a broken wrist) have done to it.

I weighed my Madone bare, with pedals, 15.73 pounds. This bike is 14.43. Still using the same wheels (Bontrager Aeolus D3) which had been on the Madone for about a year. Weight difference comes from a new one-piece bar & stem, lighter frameset, and 11-speed DuraAce Di2 vs 10. But what does it ride like?

Well… it couldn’t quite overcome some significant air intake issues with the engine this morning. I really wish I could have had a dramatic entrance with the new bike, blowing past everyone on the climb, setting a new PR for Kings, but today’s lungs were the worst since last winter. 27:22, could be worse, but sure would be nice to get under 27 again. Considering how I was breathing, I’m surprised I could get under 28. But once up top the world became a nicer place, with the sun’s rays piercing through the trees and streaking across the road, and the wheels of Kevin, Todd, JR, George and Marcus to pull me along.

Yes, that's actually Kevin pulling at the front, followed by George, Todd & JR.
Yes, that’s actually Kevin pulling at the front, followed by George, Todd & JR.
Strangest thing on the ride this morning? Seeing Kevin (my son, not the pilot) actually pulling at the front as we descended the west side of 84! Thought I was hallucinating, but I took a picture, just to prove it.

So what can I say, so far, about the new bike? Yes, it feels lighter. When you stand and sprint, it feels like there’s less of it to throw around. And it’s absolutely positively smoother on chip seal, a definite plus! Handling is virtually identical to my Madone, which is a very good thing, since that bike handled amazingly-well, head and shoulders above anything else I’d ridden before. I set the bike up identically to the Madone, with two exceptions. I shortened the stem’s reach from 10cm to 9, and narrowed the width of the bars from 44 to 42. The bar width was absolutely the right thing to do. Shortening the length? The jury’s still out on that one. I might drop the stem a bit and increase the reach slightly, something I couldn’t do before without getting into some pain.

Can’t wait to get it out on a long ride this weekend!

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Just takes a few days off the bike and… you wish you hadn’t taken a few days off the bike!

Eric & Milo on West Old LaHonda. Where was everyone else today?
Eric & Milo on West Old LaHonda. Where was everyone else today?

How do people do it? Ride once in a while, I mean? I suppose if you were just riding as a type of occasional fun, maybe the way you might once in a while go out for a nice dinner, it would make sense. And as I type that, it sounds like it might make perfect sense, for some. Maybe most. But not me. Because for me, cycling isn’t something just for fun; it’s part of my lifestyle (some might argue an all-consuming part of it). I don’t feel right if I’m not riding, and as much as I don’t look forward to getting back on the bike after a few days off, and feeling bloated and slow, it’s a lot better than the alternative (getting even-more bloated and even-more slow when I get back on).

I was in Las Vegas for just a few days, leaving Sunday night and getting back Wednesday evening. I did manage to get in a good ride Sunday before leaving, so all I missed was Tuesday’s regular ride up Kings and the commute to work & back each day. Doesn’t seem like all that much! But when it’s what you normally do, when it’s a routine that you’ve worked into your daily schedule, where you know exactly how long it takes to ride to work including a stop for coffee… things just don’t feel right when you change.

Does it ever become tiresome? Boring? Nope. That’s not to say that some days aren’t better than others! But the worse it feels when you’re riding, the better you feel about it afterward. It’s difficult to think of a ride where, afterward, I wished I’d stayed home. I think that says it all.

What brings this up? Besides missing a few days on the bike, that is? Probably Eric asking on today’s ride if I ever stopped riding, ever took time off. Seemed like an odd question, and unfortunately, my breathing routine doesn’t allow me the luxury of having a conversation very often while riding, particularly once the road tilts upward. It’s really got me wondering why he asked.

What’s my fear of not riding? The scariest part isn’t getting out of shape and putting on weight. Not for me anyway. The scariest part is forgetting what it is to really push yourself on a climb, to pretend you don’t mind that headwind and blast your way through it. OK, the idea of not suffering, on my own terms, that’s a biggie. I’d miss the pain, my body talking back to me and telling me that I’m not just existing, I’m doing something. Telling me I don’t just exist… I’m alive!

OK, standard ride report. Just three of us today; Eric and I at the start, joined up top (on Skyline) by Milo, who’d left a bit earlier. Eric nicely held back and rode with me up Kings (I was OK through the park but by the time we connected with Kings, my speed was gone). Kevin didn’t make it; rough night trying to sleep with kidney stone pain. And that brings this full-circle. There’s pain you bring upon yourself, and that’s fine, because you control it. The amount, and the duration. And in the end, you feel better for it. And then there’s involuntary pain, of which there really isn’t much good that can be said about it.

We all have some involuntary pain in our lives. Maybe some of us use voluntary (I hesitate to say self-inflicted) pain to keep the other stuff, the other pain, at bay. Maybe when we feel most helpless is when we need to get out on a bike and ride ourselves into the ground, in total control of what we’re doing and how we feel. If the desired outcome is to feel like we’re in control, it’s a fail-safe way to achieve it.

Yes, it does sound like I’ve gone off the deep end. A couple days in Las Vegas can do that to you. :-)    –Mike–

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