Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Monday, August 29, 2011


Came up to Penticton, British Columbia to watch my friends Lori, Joe and Bradley compete in Ironman Canada. Kris and I rode fifty miles up to Yellow Lake in the relentless heat - touching triple digits - I sure didn't envy da foos out there on the course.

Kris went into town this morning to sign up for next year, I had no ambition to go with her.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Magic Touch

Flatted out at the Seward Park Crit last Thursday. I had to walk back to the pit where I changed the tire and went home. On the way I thought I'd stop by my LBS - Veloce Velo - to see if mechanic extrodinare Greg could work his magic on my creaky ride. I arrived fifteen minutes after closing time and figured I'd return a few phone calls while I was stopped. I was just dialing the first number when Greg unlocked the door, stepped out and asked what was up.

After a quick test ride and two minutes on the rack my bike was back to perfect - even the odometer was now working. I've been messing about with bikes for over thirty years but I remain a hack; too often I end up making the situation worse than when it started. It's good to have a dedicated man in your corner when you need one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Tribe

In 2007 I did my first Ironman race. It was in Couer d Alene Idaho. I had arrived a few days early and as is the custom prior to an IM race I went for a morning swim in the lake. The water was super rough and I really struggled out there; apparently I was only one as the other two or three hundred competitors seemed to take the choppy cold black water in stride, they stood around under the giant inflatable Gatorade bottle laughing and flexing their muscles. I called my wife and said “I don’t belong here.”

Over time I became more and more confident in the triathlon world, but I never really felt like it was my scene. I could talk the talk, and to a certain extent walk the walk, but I always felt like an outsider. Bicycle racers seem more like members of my tribe.

Cyclists are a mixed bag to be sure, there is no “typical” cyclist, but what we all share is a love of the most efficient, elegant form of transportation yet devised by man. It’s like we’re all co-conspirators, like we’re all in on the same secret.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheap Tires

Five or six years ago I used to join my buddy Joe for Saturday morning road rides. It seemed like Joe flatted on nearly every outing, and I like to berate him over his habit of buying cheap tires. In reality I was just flipping Joe crap, but little did I know how accurate I actually was.

Last Sunday I raced in a half road half dirt ride called the Ronde Ohop. In preparation for the off road portion I went to Performance and bought a pair of fifteen dollar 25mm tires. I put forty miles on those tires and got two flats.

I've always spent top dollar on Michelins and Continentals, but was never one hundred percent sure that I was making a sound investment. Now I know. My good tires flat so infrequently that I almost forget how to efficiently change a tire. From now on I'm going to happily drop top dollar on good tires.

Ronde Ohop

I like to say that something isn’t worth doing if, at least once, you don’t ask yourself, “what the hell was I thinking.” With that as a worthiness criterion I can honestly report that the Ronde Ohop certainly was worth doing.

I was a little late getting to the starting line due to the long line of pickups at Spanaway’s Baristas Gone Wild, but the latte was worth the wait. Matt pulled up as I was getting ready; he had just ridden the dirt portion and reported that this was going to be more of a cross race than a road race. There was a fairly even mixture of road and cross bikes in the crowd, and I was starting to worry about taking my road bike onto dirt trails. I’d mounted up two cheap 25 mil tires inflated to 90 psi, but how much of a difference was that going to make. A gal rode by and said “wow I can’t believe you are going to ride that bike.” Hmmm. I was getting nervous.

I lined up without a clue as to what I had gotten myself into.

The course was unusual to be sure: two paved laps totaling approximately sixteen miles and then ten laps around a mini loop that contained a little over a mile of rough dirt track.

The road portion of the race was, for the most part, straightforward and uneventful except for a fifty foot section of gravel road in Eatonville. Just as the pack accelerated out of a right hand turn we hit this dicey section of loose rock. The race director had instructed us to go neutral through that portion, but I guess the lead guys didn’t get the message. I hit the golf ball-sized rocks at full acceleration and then had to bunny hop up a three inch rise to get back on pavement. No way would that have been acceptable on a traditional road race, but this was no traditional race.

The one good hill on the road course split the field; it was a goofy hill as the descent leading into it came through a pair of decreasing radius turns. I had to hit the brakes in order to avoid going over the guardrail which then forced me to work doubly hard in order to keep up with the lead group. The first time up the hill really knocked the wind out of me; luckily the second time up was a bit slower.
At the top of the hill on the second road lap the pack took off towards the mini loops. Looking back on it I think this acceleration was an effort by the road guys to put some distance between themselves and the cross guys. Actually I shouldn’t use the term “guys” as we in the Masters 30+ group were racing with the women. There was a large contingent of strong gals and they matched the guys pedal stroke for pedal stroke.

Matt and I hit the dirt with maybe a dozen other riders, the riding now was single file and consequently the crowd spread out. I was going through George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words routine as I followed Matt through an insanely rough, rocky, mountain bike course – on a road bike. This was a mistake. When we finally got back to pavement I thought, no way am I going to make another nine laps.

I was really worrying about my bike, man I should have brought that cross bike. A couple of times I hit so hard that my rear wheel popped off the ground - nearly sending me over the handlebars. It’s one thing to gingerly ease your slick road bike over an unexpected section of rough road; it’s a whole other thing to be riding it full out over single track. I couldn’t believe I was riding this course on my racing wheels.

The race unfolded into a battle of attrition. People were flatting out left and right, and I think quite a few riders simply called it quits. By the seventh lap my thighs were starting to cramp; I hadn’t been riding much these past two weeks and it was starting to show. I had gone too far to DNF, so I kept pushing the pedals counting down the laps. The odd thing about this race was that I rode the final sixteen miles solo, and consequently had no idea where I stood, was I in the middle, was I dead last, I had no clue.

As I hit the pavement on the final lap both quads totally seized up, but no way was I going to let someone pass me now so I pushed hard to the finish line – luckily it was all downhill. I didn’t wait around for the results and now I’m kicking myself as I have no idea how I ended up.