Thursday, December 30, 2010

All The Booty I Recived For Christmas

Just a quick note: This will be the last post of the year. And I just wanted to wish everyone out there a truly wonderful New Year! I hope you all make good new year's resolutions and stick with them. Things like drink more beer, have more sex, enjoy friends and family.  I also hope one of those resolutions is to get out on your bicycles more often and have some fun! Cheers everybody! Now on to the post~

Almost every year my family and friend's have the almost impossible task of getting stuff for me for Christmas.  I'm sure all of you have somebody on your Xmas list that is hard to shop for. Not because you can't think of anything to buy them. No, far from it. The problem is that they are to specific. I mean they give you the make, model, serial number, and place where it was manufactured! I, am one of those people.

Me: Hi, my name is Earl and I have a problem...

Everyone else: Hi Earl!

I always thought this made it real easy for people to shop for me. I mean it seems logical. But then I discovered the undue stress that this puts on people. They want to give you the thing that's close to what you wanted that they could find easily. Or (This seems to be more the reason for me) the thing they found is cheaper.

However this year I am glad to say that my Super Hot Awesome Wife Who I Really Don't Deserve (SHAWIRDD for short) came through with flying colors!  It did however take some of the surprise out of the whole thing when she sat me down in front of the computer and said, "Is this the one you wanted?" And then just clicked the add to chart button. But what are you gonna do? :)

This year seemed to have a bicycle tool theme. Which I was very excited about. I normally do all my wrenching at my LSB (Local Bike Shop in case you've been living in a cave and hadn't ever heard that term before (Strictly speaking to the cycling people out there. Not everybody else. Hi everybody else!)) Scott's Cycle and Fitness. Where I can be under the ever watchful eye of Steve and Co. (I have been known to shear the outer bearing cups of bottom brackets without adult supervision). But there have been several occasions when I really needed a specialty tool and the shop is closed or it's to small of a tweak to justify driving/riding all the way down to the shop to do it.  So I asked my SHAWIRDD for a few specific tools that I use all the time when I'm down at Scott's.

The first is a pedal wrench.  I know what your thinking. You've been riding for how long and you don't own a pedal wrench!? And all I can say is don't judge me! Meany head...  I really don't own any bikes that can't be removed with an allen key but my boys do.  And there is always a time when those damn things are on to tight. Where some extra leverage comes in handy.

No they are not to scale here. Although I would be curious to see the rear wheel these two tools would work on...

The second thing is a chain whip and cassette lock ring tool. I know they are technically two tools but you can't really use one without the other (Unless you're into something kinky. I don't judge...)so I figure this is probably a safe combo deal.  I have several cassettes. And when a race course is particularly hilly and I need a 12-27 to get my fat but up the hills it would be nice to do this in the privacy of my own home.  You know. When no one is looking...

The third thing is a fourth hand (No, I didn't make that up). This a really nifty tool that is practically indispensable when doing brake or derailleur cables.  And I have mentioned here before how much I love mechanical things.

The fourth thing is a good set of cable cutters.  I don't know if any of you have ever tried to cut cables without a pair of these. But let me save you the heart ache and don't. It just flattens out and frays the wire into an unusable mess.

The fifth thing is a chain tool. You just never know when you're going to need one of these bad boys. Steve at the shop had a really pimp one but I'm not worthy of such awesome toys. Besides the Park one that I got is more tool than I'll ever need.

None of these things cost more than fifty bucks. But do yourself a favor and don't go cheap on any one of these tools (In other words stay away from the bargain bin in the Performance Bike or Nashbar catalogs.). They will just leave you with at best a rounded off tip. And at worst bloody knuckles and some damaged gear.

The higher the quality of the tools the longer they last and the better (generally) they perform. Brands like Park Tool and Pedro's are almost always a great bet for quality.

So if the next time you see me with bandages on my hands you will know that I was trying something on my own in the man cave.

Rubber side down and Happy New Year,

Big E

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

It being past the winter solstice technically the days are now getting longer. But just by looking out the window and seeing all the dark clouds and lack of sun makes me feel like we are still in the heart of darkness. Which I guess really we still are considering it was only a week ago.

But this seems like a fitting time to talk about lights. Lights are those wonderful things that let us blast a tunnel through the darkness of night to see where we are going. And they are also the things that let other's see us while we are out there on our bikes.

I have used several different light manufactures and at least up to this point I can't recommend Dinotte lights enough.  They are a "seeing" light. In other words if you are going out on a dark and stormy night and you need to be able to see where you are going these are one of the manufactures that I would recommend. All their lights use super LED bulbs and lithium ion batteries (either in a rechargeable pack or a group of replaceable AA batteries).  I have the 600L-Li which they don't make anymore. But mine is still plugging away after a few years of use and abuse. I've also used the 800L-Li which is a great light. And I guess they now have a 1400 (!) Lumen version. Which would be awesome! Especially if you needed to use Morris code to talk to astronauts in space. Or possibly blind an entire herd of elk. Not that I advocate that kind of thing. I mean really!? Who uses Morris code anymore.... Sorry, this is starting to sound like an advertisement for Dinotte. But I'm not getting paid. I just think they make a great product for the price.

Several other brands make very good "seeing" lights for people that neither have the means nor the desire to go after a Dinotte. NiteRider, Lupine (If you've got money to burn. Really cool lights. But retardedly expensive.) and Light and Motion  all make very good lights at (most) all price points.

I think the most important thing about a "seeing" light is to make sure that it puts out enough light so that when you ride down a hill at speed you don't "out run" (Why am I using so many quotation marks in this post?) your light. And what I mean by that is that if you are flying down a hill your light needs to cast a big enough beam for you to be able to see any obstacles in the road and react. Like a rock, a tree branch, furry woodland creatures, or naked people... You know, those sorts of things.

As far as tail lights go. I don't think you can beat either the~

Bike Planet Superflash. This thing offers a two light settings and is quite a robust little unit. It has a beam that could easily have you seeing stars if you stared at it to long. And it requires two AAA batteries.

 I really recommend using rechargeable lithium batteries for all lights that require them. They last at much higher brightness for a much longer period of time. And on top of all that it's nice to be a little environmentally responsible. Instead of throwing a bunch of used batteries in the land fill.

The second tail light I would recommend is the~

Radbot 1000 by Portland Design Works. This thing is kind of like the Superflash on steroids. The only real complaint I've heard about this light is when it's used on a group ride people want it pointed towards the ground because its so blinding! My son has one of these things on his bike. And it makes me feel better knowing that the drivers out there won't have the excuse of not seeing him from the rear.

As far as "being seen" lights go I think you can't go wrong with the Blackburn Flea. I think these handy little lights are the bee's knees. You can charge them up on any USB port. They are small, light (Huhuhu), and pack a lot of brightness for something so small.

They come in both front and tail light versions. And are easy to clip on and off.

The other "be seen" light I'm going to mention here because any fixie hipster out there would beat me to death with their chain wallet. Or even possibly there U lock that they keep ever so sutley looped in there belt (Which I don't think I could handle dying at the hand of someone who is wearing their girlfriend's pants). Is the Knog Frog~

They are handy cheap lights that are nifty design. One thing I will say about Knog product though is that I've had two of them break on me by just trying to remove them from the bike. One of them was on the third removal(!). I still think they are pretty cool little lights but fair warning on quality control.

I know a lot of people out there. Even some bike manufactures (No, really. Check out some of those warning stickers on new bikes sometime) warn about riding in the dark. But if you didn't ride in some kind of darkness around here there would be about an hour and half window to ride in (recorded fact...) everyday. Does that sound like much fun? I didn't think so....

Besides there is a lot of great things about riding in the night.  Less traffic, quieter, beautiful stars, more relaxed pace and rediscovering a piece of road that you've ridden a million times before.

Don't let the nay sayers keep you off your bike or worse encouraging you to get on the trainer! Go out and enjoy the nights sky! Just remember to be packing some lights. Or I'll sick this guys on you~

You've been warned...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Cycling Role Model


This isn't going to be a post about professional cyclists as role models.  I think that's just kind of silly.  I totally admire guys that have enough talent and drive to make it on any pro level. But unless you know one of these guys personally and he is one of your riding buddies that isn't the type of role models I'm talking about. I guess more of what I am thinking about is an individual(s) that points you in the proper direction when you first start to ride.

I'm sure these guys come in all shapes and colors for everybody. Maybe a Dad, Uncle, good friend or even just an acquaintance.

For myself it was a guy that used to ride with us on the local group ride named Canada Dave (I never did hear what his last name was.  But since everyone I ever knew always called him Canada Dave I figure it's a safe moniker to use.).

I had just started to ride with the group. I was green and I knew it. At that point I considered it a real accomplishment to not get dropped out of the "medium" group (high aspirations. And Dave was always a steady, strong wheel to follow. I'm sure he never really knew it but he taught me a lot about how to behave on a group ride.  As well as a ton of little tricks that made a lot of difference in being safe and conserving energy with in the group.

I once watched him push a struggling rider for 13 miles back to the shop. It was one of the more impressive things I've ever seen on a bike. Not just from the physical sense. Even though that was pretty damn impressive. I think the thing that got me was how unselfish an act it was. It didn't have anything to do with Dave showing off.  He just saw a problem and filled the need. A true example of being the sort of person (cyclist) you wish to see in the world.

Not that he probably ever noticed. But I made it a goal every ride for an entire winter to shadow him. Where  ever he went I went. And in doing so it made me more comfortable, confident, and competent.

I've often thought that if a person was new to cycling there should be some sort of big brother/sister program.  If you never commuted to work and wanted to but were afraid to try you could call up your big brother/sister and have them show you how to set up your bike. Find a safe route to and from work and get you comfortable to go out on their own.

Or if your new to racing there could be a similar program. Help you learn were to be and not to be. Drafting, echelon, sprinting all that good stuff.

Not that I'm volunteering for it. But I guess I feel like everyone needs a helping hand until they are comfortable enough to go out on their own.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Being Hardcore

Being hardcore on a bicycle can mean many different things.  You can be a poorly coordinated commuter like this poor bugger here riding to and from work in the rain. Or you can be a cyclist who rides in the rain in the dark for training (I am usually in this group.) Or there can even be crazy people who ride/race their bikes in the snow and ice .

But on a recent Scotts evening group ride as I looked around and only saw eight hardy souls standing around waiting to get the party started. It occurred to me that we are getting to that point of the year that only the hardcore come out to play. And even though tonight's group will more than likely have quite a few more people on it just because its suppose to be dry. Even on nice days in the winter we're still down the a third of the numbers we see in the summer.

I know a lot of people look at us as we are riding in or out of town (as well as a lot of summer riders too I'm sure) wondering if we have some sort of mental dysfunction or something. But as I have said before. If you are wearing the right clothes. And if you have the proper bike and lighting set up. Its actually a pretty fun and unique way to look at a world that you've seen a million times before. And I'm almost always glad I did it (there are a few where I just wish I was at home under the covers. But I'm sure that's the way it is for a lot of people). 

There is a real feeling of solidarity with the riders on these groups. We are all like minded in that what ever mother nature throws at us we can (usually) deal with it and still have a great time. I like that. It gives a feeling of belonging to the tribe. A real inner circle of a much larger one.

So the next time you feel like a ride. But then look at the weather report and see some unfavorable news. Before you slump your shoulders and head off to the trainer or the gym. Suck it up. Grab your gear. And come out and join us!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cyclocross Nationals

Adam Craig (Giant-Rabobank) was quite a sight in his cut-off denim shorts.
Adam Craig on his way to win the single speed race. Looking the part of a proper single speeder with his cut offs and rad helmet.

The U.S. National Championships have been going on in Bend, Or for the last few days. With the crescendo happening this weekend with the Elite men and women races happening Sunday. The fact that the national champs are right here is one of those rare treats that must be savored by all who can appreciate it.

Several friends have or are going to compete in the races happening as my little fingers wisp across this key board. Which I wish them all a hearty good luck!

I also know a good number of people that are going to be over there to spectate. And all I can say about that is color me with the jealous crayon. For a brief bit of time I thought I might be able to get away to watch the big dogs eat. But alas it is not to be. But I am counting on some of those friends to set me up with the down low as well as some good pictures (I'm talking to you Dave and Mr. T!). So hopefully they'll have some sweet photos to share this coming week.

To all of you who have competed. Congrats! (Or my condolences. Which ever the case may be) And to those who are about to unless leash the dogs of war. It's time to kick the tires and light the fires big daddy!

Adam Craig (Giant-Rabobank) does a wheelie over the finish.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thoroughbreds Vs. Donkeys

Sorry about the previous posts typos and lack of one of the pictures. I believe I have all those glitches fixed. So if you would like to re-read an improved post you can take a look at it here or just scroll down.

Many a of you have read my previous post on why they call me Big E. And like a lot of the other blogs, websites, and magazines out there that are on this subject right now. We are all trying to loose weight in the "off season".  It's kinda weird to call it the off season. I mean a two and half month break before the next race doesn't seem much like a season to me but whatever. It's all good.

I really wish however that it did not coincide with the Holidays. Trying to avoid the pit falls of Christmas cookies, carb heavy meals, and julekake ((pronounced; Ule cocka. *giggle* Norwegian Christmas bread)) is not an easy thing for me. Curse you sugar!

But with this time comes a looking at the previous season and assess the goals that were set and achieved within the last year. And to set new ones for the coming year.

The last road season I was a Cat. 4 and I figure I should be a Cat 3 within a reasonably short period of time. Which I am excited about. But with a little trepidation. I got my but handed to me on some of the rolling courses in the spring and while I know I'll never be a climber. I would rather not be dropped on the first real hill either. Which sort of gets me to my point.

An old proverb (I really don't even know if its a old or a proverb but you know what I mean):

You cannot make a donkey into a thoroughbred.

So now your probably wondering what side of this equation I am on. And I would have to say the donkey side. I know, I know. You're shocked and amazed by my admission. But the fact is that with the amount of riding I have already done. If I was a race horse it would have already shown by now.

You would have seen me go up on the road on a solo flyer and actually stayed away. Or go and win several races in a row. But that hasn't happened and it isn't going to happen. That's not to say I don't want to go out there and fight for the ultimate prize. It just means that it's going to take more hard work and a little more luck for me to do it that's all.

So I'm now training to be the fastest ass you've ever seen!

Wish me luck!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, December 6, 2010

Xmas List

So in case you were wondering what to buy that cyclist on your list. I thought I'd put a few out there that I think are pretty damn sweet. I am going to start with the $25 and under category and work up, up, and a way from there.

Also, none of these companies have paid, bribed, or courted me in anyway (Not that I would be against that. I always say, I'm not cheap. But I can be had.). I do own a couple of the items so I can speak from first hand experience about those. But the rest are just awesomely awesome. In my own opinion.

The Lezyne CO2 inflator. This thing is sweet! It's beautiful, functional, it comes in spiffy colors too. I have always loved machined metal and these guys have it down to a fine art.


A Pedro's bottle opener is a cool little stocking stuffer that anyone who drinks a cold beverage now and again could learn to love. A good tool company just comes up with one more.


These Walz Caps are the only cycling cap manufacturer that I know of that make a L/XL cap that fits my dome. They are comfortable, last a long time, and you can even have them customized. I've had several made with Big E on the side, one for my lovely wife, and one for my father-in-law. All with little nicknames on them. Couldn't recommend them enough.


Slipstream over socks by Defeet are one of those products that you can never really have to many. I have two pair, a pair of black ones (for nasty days) and a pair of white ones (for fancy days). They work great when its cool and a full neoprene booty is to much and they also make a fantastic layering item under thick booties on those days when its super cold .
The Lezyne Blox-23 multi tool is one of the most nicely made tools I've seen in a long time (Can you tell I really like this company?). I'm one of those guys as a kid who lusted after the biggest baddest Swiss army knives that where out there. So I tend to lean toward the gadget heavy ones like this. But they also make some beautiful minimalist multi tools with carbon fiber of machined aluminium (God! I love toys!). They are all of the highest quality and do their jobs very well.
A Craft base layer is your best friend on long cold training days. It keeps your core from getting wet and clammy. Gives good thermal value for the weight and feels really nice up against your skin. Something a few of the other manufacturers can't say. I think anyone who does any amount of riding outside in the winter should have at least two good long sleeve base layers.

Assos early winter 851 gloves. Anything from Assos is awesome. People who have never owned anything Assos always do the "old guy looking at the tab" look of shock and horror. But if you've ever ponied up the money from some of their products than it really doesn't take a whole lot of explaining. You just lust after all the pieces of clothing that you can't afford.


The Assos Uno S5 is their "cheapest" bib short. But they are fantastic! I have owned a pair now for a little more than a year and I can tell you that they are as comfy know as they were when I first bought them. I used them on the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this year (206 miles in one day) and my butt was the only thing that wasn't hurting by the end. And having done that ride many times I can tell you that's the first time that has ever happened. Great product.

A good set of training wheels. The kind that can take the abuse of winter rides in the wet, grit and muck. And still come out without a wibble or a skip. I have these Mavic Open Pro 32 hole with ultegra shown here. But there are plenty of prebuilt wheels out there that are good too. Mavic, Bontrager, Fulcrum and DT Swiss are just a few that come to mind. I personally really enjoy hand built wheels better. I think they tend to stay in true and if you are so inclined building them yourself can be really satisfying as well as educational.


A good set of race wheels. There is nothing finer than riding down the road on a nice light set of tubulars with your favorite tires glued on. It's kind of like eating caviar off of Megan Fox. It's luxurious and naughty and you just want more. I have a set of Bontrager tubulars and they are wonderful. Highly recommend the experience if it intrigues you.


A commuter bicycle. I think this Civia Loring is just the Bee's knees. I do commute to work some although not all the time. With this sweet looking ride I think I would do it all the time just so I could ride it.


The Salsa Fargo is an odd choice I grant you. But I can't help but love it. It's like that dog that's so ugly it's cute. And on top of that it has to be the most utilitarian bike I've ever come across. Straight out of the box you can take it on a fire road, a tour across the country, or down to the pub. It's got enough brazons and rack mounts to do any variation of those things with ease. I just love this ugly little mutt. Come here boy! Come here!


 The Gary Fisher Superfly 100 Elite is about as sweet as mountain bikes come in my mind. I've been drooling for one of these things for as long as they have been out. Mmmm Gary Fisherness.....

The Pinarello Dogma with Campy Super Record is the bike that I have lusted after for years. This thing just screams Italian and race bike. It looks like its going at a 100 mph just siting there. If I were to win the lottery today. One of these would be in my garage by the end of the week. So sexy... Excuse me. I just had a moment. Man this thing is hot! And at a roughly $12,000 price tag I would need to win the lottery to ever own one. But a man can dream.

There are a ton more things that I could put on this list but I think this will do for now.

If you can think of any to add. Please feel free to send those suggestions my way. Thanks!

Rubber side down,

Big E

PS Weight as of Sunday morning: 195. Stellar start huh?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why They Call Me Big E

So I have had some decision making to do lately. It's something that I've thought and known about for a couple of years now.  I need to lose some weight.... I know, I know. Your thinking, what?! With such a finely chiseled physique as you have Earl!? Surely you jest. But sadly, no I'm not kidding. 

Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not fat. I mean I don't look like this guy~

At least I don't think so.... (Hmmm. I do look fetching in the Lampre kit though.)

I'm just tall (6'2") and heavy for a cyclist. If I had no real aspirations to do well in racing my bike I would be perfectly fine with my weight as it is right now (196 lbs, 15% body fat).

I would like to loose weight so I'll have to do less of this next year. Photo credit:SHAWWIRDD

But it has become painfully (literally) aware to me this road and cross season that if I want to be even a little competitive with all the other grown men fighting for the ultimate prize I need to drop some pounds. Or start track cycling...

I have no desire to be a manorexic. So I don't think I'll be looking like this~


anytime real soon. I just want to be able to hang on to the group over some of the longer rollers and punchy climbs we have here in the Willamette Valley.

So I would like to get closer to the 180-185 lbs. mark and somewhere in the less than 10% body fat category. This would make my races infinitely (OK. Maybe not that much.) better.

Your probably asking why I am announcing this to the millions (ten) people that read this blog every day.


I seem to need to be responsible to other people in order to make myself stick to a plan and get something done.

So I am announcing to the world that I will lose 10-15 lbs by the end of February! Which in theory should be totally do able. But I have many things standing in my way.

1. I have absolutely NO willpower.
2. There is always munchies and junk food in my house. (We've got three boys. Two of which are teenagers. Enough said.)
3. If there are munchies in the house I WILL eat them.
4. Its the holiday season.
5. I have NO willpower.

So I have plenty of obstacles in my way. But I'm confident with your help I can make this the awesome nugget center of next years race season even larger than it was this year. God I'm hungry...

Rubber side down,

Big E