Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Give Him The Boot!

People have many inventive things that they do with old Tyvek race numbers.

Some people make a sweet members only jackets.

Others will make wallets out of them.

Hipsters will make cycling caps out of them.

But in my very small and humble opinion (Hey! Stop laughing.) you should just make them a boot.

Not these kind...

But this kind.
But why? Excellent question.  Cast your mind back. Long, long ago. Like last Thursday.

We were riding along on our Thursday night Scott's ride. Yeah, that's right. We ride in the dark, wet, cold and windy night. Cuz we're hardcore like that. Anyway...

It had been stormy and blustery for the past few days and the bike lanes were covered in leaf debris. One of our intrepid clan had rolled over a particularly sharp pile of leaves and slashed his tire width wise. Almost from bead to bead.

Much like this, only with a larger split (Stunt tire used in photo.).
When all appeared most bleak I whipped out part of an old race number (Cross race, not road race. Because in Oregon OBRA is very environmentally conscience and uses a reusable number for the whole season.) that I had cut down to a more usable size for just such an emergency.

We dubiously aired the tire up to see if it was going to blow apart. But it didn't. There really wasn't even a bulge (Huh, huh. I said bulge...) that was evident.

Now I'm not saying that you should run a tire with a boot forever. It's strictly a "Get Your Ass Home Safe" (GYAHS) sorta tool. And admittedly I've carried that thing for over a year before we needed it. But it saved our JP from having to hitch a ride home from a dubious looking guy with a van.

 So a few lessons learned here.

1. Don't ride through piles of sharp leaves.

2. Carry a tire boot with you. Or have exceptionally handsome, intelligent friends like me that do.

3. Don't take rides from strangers with a van that says "Free candy". "Free puppies" is totally fine though...

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cross Crusade PIR

Photo: Cross Crusade PIR.
The final Cross Crusade series race was this last Sunday (A tear shed...). But boy did it go out with a bang!  The weather had been atrocious for several days before the race so I was expecting the course to be sloppy. But like most poor ignorant bastards I didn't really understand it until I was there.

Photo: Kenny doing one of the many running sections yesterday at Cross Crusade.
Kenny putting the power down on one of the many areas of the course where you had to get off and run.
 During my race (Master C 35+) I ended up having to dismount and run at least 6 times per lap. And I'm not a fast runner (On account I'm fat and such.). But the peanut butter mud was out in force on the course. And for scenarios like that, running as much as it pains me to say it, is faster.

For those of you that don't know what peanut butter mud is, it's the kind of mud that's thick and sticky (1:2 parts water and clay.) and sucks your will to live. While simultaneously slowing any forward movement to a crawl. Momentum is the name of the game in almost any type of racing. Any hindrance to momentum is a bad thing. So peanut butter mud = bad. But what it takes away in forward motion it makes up for in benefiting good bike handling skills. Any off camber corners, descents or inclines too for that matter make for opportunity to pass a floundering compatriot.

Photo: Graham riding the Clif Shot bird to a top ten finish.
Graham riding the Clif Shot bird to a top ten finish.
There was a lot of festivities going on during the course of the day. The food trucks, beverage tents and musical accompaniment were rockin'.

Photo: After having listened to this drum corp at the #crosscrusade I now understand why they were used during battle. So exhilarating and loud!
This drum corp made me want to put on a kilt, some blue face paint and fight for my freedom.
The only thing that wasn't rockin' was the mechanical carnage to the poor bicycles. I have NEVER seen so many broken rear derailleurs and hangers in my life. I saw at least fifty during the course of the day. And that's not an exaggeration. There very well could have been more. It got so bad in my race that they changed the course mid-race. I think all the bike shops in the greater Portland area should send Brad Ross (The promoter for the Cross Crusade.) a fruit basket.

Both myself and my equipment managed to get away unscathed. So we shall live to fight another day! There are still a few cross races left on the calendar. So I'm going to make a big push to race at least a few of them. Since the middle of my season was so lacking.

If I don't post tomorrow, I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hopefully get a chance to go out and ride some over the long weekend.  Until next time...

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Washington County Fairgrounds Cross Crussade

Tape, mud, blood and dollar bills ya'll

Okay, I'll admit it. I had become disenchanted with cross. My legs hadn't been going well all season and my lungs hadn't been cooperating for at least two weeks. I was burnt out. Feeling like I was paying money to have someone kick my ass and not getting anything out of it myself.

And then Sunday happened.

Real cross weather.

This is the entry into the parking lot by the end of the day.
 God! How I missed it! I had forgotten how much.


Sloppy, slippery, collecting on top of your front derailleur like soft serve at DQ kind of muddy. It was glorious!!!

My finishing place didn't really reflect how I felt inside. But to be able to push with power and breathe in full deep breaths was a great result in and of itself.

Sure I suffered. But it was the good kind. The self inflicted kind. The kind that comes from pushing yourself and your equipment hard and not having them look at you questioningly as if to say, "Really?". But instead for them to respond with a hard stare as if to say, "Let's do this thing!!!". That, I think is something I've been missing for quite a while. And boy did it feel good to get a taste of that again.

Kenny rode really well that day.
It felt great to compete too. To duel back and forth with a few guys that were of similar abilities as me. That's one of the greatest beauties about cross in the first place. The race within the race. Sure I lost a couple of those battles. But I won a few as well. Making the self-inflicted pain all the more worth it. Vying for the ultimate prize... 

Adam gettin'er done.

I sure hope this feeling sticks around a while.

Things had progressed for Graham's race.

And the weather too...

Brison after his race.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Good Cause

This weekend is chock-a-block full of cross racing! There is the Pedalers At The Poor Farm up at the McMenamins at Edgefield in Troutdale. Sadly I won't be going to that. Mostly because it's far to hilly for a fat guy like me and I haven't been feeling super awesome the last week or so. Couple that with my impressively fragile male ego and I just don't think I could recover.
The second race is on Sunday at the Washington County Fairgrounds Cross Crusade. This seurat I will be attending for two reasons. First, its a flat semi technical course. (Me... me...) Second, there will be beer  (Me....). So I'm there in spades.

Pictures and stories to follow. Stay tuned...

But that isn't what this particular post is about. What I wanted to take a minute and discuss is a very worthy local charity that my friend Becky from Pie is a Meal blog is heading up.  It's a Bike Donation Drop Off for local foster kids that are transitioning into adulthood. The donated bikes can mean mobility for these young adults who may have to walk or ride the bus (When they have the money.) for great distances to get to school or work. These donated bikes offers them opportunity. Which for some of these kids has been difficult to come by their whole lives.

In short, its a very good thing.

Here is all the vital information~

The Assistance League Auxiliary of Salem is hosting a Bike Donation Drop Off

Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The bikes will be collected at The Bike Peddler located at 174 Commercial Street NE. Salem, Or. 

Donated bikes, locks and/or bike accessories will be accepted. 

If you have an adult sized bicycle that has been gathering dust and you have been thinking about getting rid of it. Please consider this. It's for a good charity. And if you do donate. I promise you a warm fuzzy feeling all over.

Their goal is 50 bikes. Lets see if we can reach that!

If you have any further questions please contact Becky at beckyawillhite@yahoo.com.

Thanks everyone. You guys are swell...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How To Wash Your Bicycle

For a while now I've been thinking about writing a piece on how to properly wash a bike. When I first got into riding this was a procedure I looked up on the all mighty interwebs and was pretty disappointed on the lack of information. I would look at the PRO mechanics on TV, with their power washers and fun equipment and I wanted to learn. Probably the best written piece on how to wash a bike was in a book called Tales From The Toolbox by Scott Parr. It's not a particularly good book. But he does dedicate an excellent chapter on how to wash a bike the PRO way. I follow his technique pretty closely. 

First things first. You're going to need two buckets. One bucket filled with warm soapy water, a sponge, and a couple brushes. The other bucket should have some bio-degreaser, a brush, and a tough sponge (Not shown. Do not use the same sponge for the degreaser and the soapy water)

Next you'll need a bike stand. You can do it without one. But it is infinitely harder.

Go ahead and mount the bike in the stand and remove the front wheel. But leave the back wheel in for the cleaning of the drive train.

I also get the big stuff off of my racing kit at the same time. It's much easier than having my SSHW try and choke me to death with it when I try and slip it in the laundry this way...

Another VERY important tool in bike cleaning is beer.

Yes, those are my socks...
 First, hose everything down. Clothes, bikes, shoes, helmet, etc... When wetting down the bike make sure not to blast directly into the headset, bottom bracket or the wheel bearings because once you do their life span is severely shortened. Also be advised that even if you wash your bike this way with the most care not to get water in the bearings it's still no guarantee that you won't.

Once you've blasted all the big dirt off your bike and wet down everything else it's time to focus on the drive train.

With a sponge soaked in the degreaser of your choice (I like Simple Green.) wrap it around the lower part of your chain and turn the cranks around and around until the chain appears to be saturated and sudsy. Then let it sit on there while you focus on the rest of the drive train parts.

Next take the brush with degreaser and scrub the cassette. Holding the brush in place while turning the crank (As in the pic above.) works well.

After you have the cassette all sudsied up, leave it until you're done scrubbing on the front crank and derailleur as well.

Once all that is done rinse off all the degreaser and see what is left. You may need to go through this whole process again a time or two to make sure it's sparkling clean.

Go ahead and remove the rear wheel for the rest of the washing process.

Now its time to start the frame...

Always start with the bar tape. Because if you have white bar tape you want to make sure you still have clean soapy water. Not nastied up stuff.

After the bar tape go to the cable housings.

From there you go to the head tube, fork and front brakes. Make sure to do your best getting in all the nooks and crannies. A large bottle brush works great for those hard to reach areas.

From there you do the top tube, the seat, seat tube and down tube. Making sure to work from the top of the bike to the bottom.

Make sure to get under the seat and around the rails as well.

Yeah, I probably should have been raking leaves. Meh, I'm lazy I guess.
After that start doing the rear triangle making sure to work from the top to the bottom. Focusing a bunch on the smaller areas like around the brake the bottom bracket are as well as the rear drop outs.


Once you've got all those areas scrubbed go ahead and lightly hose down the entire bike. Again being very careful of the areas with bearings.

Now it's time to turn our attention to the wheels. With a large bristled brush and warm soapy water give the entire wheels a good scrubbing. Giving extra attention to the braking surface of the rim. You want to make sure that any grit or grime doesn't stay embedded in there.

I would normally be holding the wheel while I do this. But because of the photo I'm not.

Make sure to get on the inside of the spokes and around the hub as well.

Spray the wheels down and put them back on the bike.

If you have access to an air compressor and a blower nozzle use that to blast away any water on the bike. Taking special care to get rid of any water in bolt heads or depressions in the frame where water can sit and rust parts. Blast air threw the chain links on the chain and coggset as well.

If you don't have access to an air compressor go ahead and use a clean rag towel. It will take a little longer but will work just as well.

Once the bike is dry. It's time for inspection. Check the frame, fork and parts for cracks, wear or other problems. I also like to take this time to check the brake pads for any little embedded pieces of metal or debris. Use a dental pick or an awl to dig any foreign material out of there.

Do this same inspection with your tires. You would be amazed at how fewer flats you will get if you do a weekly inspection of your tires and pry out any glass, wire or rock bits before they have a chance to work their way all the way through.

Now it's lubin' time!

Lube all the pivot points on the derailleurs.

As you are applying the lube rotate the chain around to make sure you get an even coast in all the pins.

If at this point you have a particular polish or wax you like to use by all means do so.

Once that is all said and done you have yourself one bright and happy machine!

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Barton Park Cross Crusade

I know that long, long ago, in a galaxy far far away I said I was working on a post about the UCI and their problems with the whole Lance Armstrong affair. And I have tried to start writing about it three different times. With three different posts that are all still sitting in the que of this blog half done.

The biggest issue for me is trying to write it out in a succinct understandable manner. Instead of the ramblings of a crazy idiot (Which I am.). So I guess what I'm saying is I'm copping out. Sorry... If you want to get some far smarter people's opinions on the subject please read these:






This will give you all a very good understanding of where and why I have the opinions of the UCI that I have.

I may attempt to jump back into this arena at a later date. But I'm still not sure how I would do that without it becoming a book...

So now on with the show!

Adam stole this bike from some small random child to go race kiddie-kross with it.
I actually managed to go out and race my bike this last weekend (Shock and horror!) at the Barton Park Cross Crusade.

For those of you who haven't ever been to this garden spot. This is what it looks like...

I know what you're thinking. And yes, it's that beautiful in real life.  But like the ugly fat kid in school what it doesn't have in beauty it more than makes up for in personality.  The course has a little bit of every thing. Gavel, mud, gravel, some asphalt, gravel, an RV park... Did I mention the gravel?

The weather was some of the most interesting I've ever raced in. It had rained for a week straight before the race. Including a little in the morning before the festivities started. But at 65 degrees it was super warm for November 4th. It was un-nerving to say the least.

Whenever I get that muddy and wet at a race I'm use to having frozen fingers and toes and being about 10 minutes away from hypothermia at any given moment. So long as you continued to race you pretty much could go swimming in the stuff and it wasn't bad at all.

Adam's race was first and he got a stellar starting position. With the whistle being blown he was second out of the gate and only backed up a few positions. He looked very strong. It was a lot of fun to go cheer him on with his wife and kids clanging cowbells for all the racers. Good times...

My race was fun too. Although I'm still not cross fit. But I flailed around and had a good time.

Managed to stay up right the whole time and didn't loose too many places in the process. I also got a very good call up. Which I was a little bummed about. I know that sounds weird. But since I'm not in the best shape it makes me feel better to pass a bunch of people versus getting passed all the time. I did my best not to get to obsessed about it and just race my own race. But it's a hard thing to put on the blinders and race the guys that are sticking around you.

Jarod rocking it at the front of our race. He ended up in the top ten.

Me in almost the exact same spot as Jarod (About 2 minutes later....)
Next weekend is the Hillsboro race which I'm excited about. It generally is the race I do the best at. So weather I'm in the very back or towards the front it should be a good time.

Just like in high school when you saw the guy in the wearing the t-shirt of the band he was seeing that night. Don't be "that" guy wearing cutoffs in a cross race. I bet I could roast a chicken between his legs from all the friction.

Evidently the devil's hipster cousin likes to cross race as well.

I'm not exactly sure what he's mining for on the course. But it must have been valuable.

As my SSHW likes to say, "Whoopsie doodle!!"
Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E