Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

May 15, 2006

The weekend du jour.

Ok, that title really doesn't make any sense, but it works for me.
It's a senseless Monday!
Yea! Starting off the senselessness is my transportation of choice this week, so far.
After a rousing week of commutes last week on the Kogswell, I've officially decided that I - being paranoid to a scary degree - simply can't fathom having that gem locked up outside all day long while I work. It's a great bike, but I can't be putting my good gear at risk like that every day, and consequently, this was I'll have lower maintenance costs because I'll not be logging tons of miles on one mount. It was time to return to the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gegarin....
I mean, the heady days of beaterdom.

The FIX IS BACK. (oh, crud -- here we go again.)

...oh, you got THAT right. Here we go again, indeed.

Fortunately, after a great swap meet on Saturday up at Acme, I amassed enough spare parts to get the Steamroller back into action, $5.00 at a time. I love swap meets.
UNfortunately, however, I forgot one minor detail. A front brake.
How can one so paranoid as to justify building up a beater again to save his good gear also justify riding a brakeless fixxie in Johnson County traffic. If this isn't a bizarre insight to how my mind works (or doesn't), I dunno WHAT is.

A crash-course in skidding, and 10-miles later, I made it to work in one piece -- but I think I might have pulled one of my SPD cleats out of my sandals. Uh-oh.
Ok, maybe a cheap front brake and an interrupter lever are in order after all?

Let's go backwards a step. It's a dual purpose "need" -- I was 'thirsty' this weekend, and riding the Kogswell to the adult beverage store seemed a little, oh I dunno - kinda like driving a Jaguar to the thrift store. So, donning the messenger bag and a cheap lock, I mounted up - and it felt right.

Let's forget for a second that only a couple blog entries before this one, I was complaining about a lack of fitness, and I was blaming it on spending too much time on a single-cog platform, right?
After reconsideration of that notion, it came to me that it wasn't the fact that I had only ONE gear, it was the fact that I had one really BIG gear. Because of the terrain around here, fixxie riding is not always pleasant - yeah, it's eastern Kansas, and we can all get ready for the flat-as-a-(insert something flat here) jokes -- but again, this is EASTERN Kansas. We're basically parked between the Flint Hills and the western foothills of what is the oldest 'mountain' range in the nation, the Ozark Mountains -- millenia of geologic activity has pretty much wiped these mountains off the map, but the hills are still very much there, and ANY cyclist around here can attest to it. Add in the bluffs and valleys from all the area creeks and rivers, and you have a terrain that is ANYTHING but flat. To combat the "spinning out" thing, I ended up riding a 42x15 gear which is like 75 inches. It's fine, and it's manageable on the uphills, and comfortable on the steep downhills, too.... but THAT gear ratio was what was sapping my top-end and ability to spin. If I was to ride NOTHING but fixed, it would have been fine -- but the results of that gear were very apparent on a bike with gears. Cut to today, I roll 42x18 -- which is more like 60 inches, and it's FAR more manageable on the uphills, and allows (forces) a higher cadence. So, I still am able to 'train' effectively. Instead of hammering at 50 RPM and getting to work in 40 minutes, I am now spinning to work and arriving in 45 minutes. That's into a headwind, so I can't balk at that time at all. Yes, the downhills are a little crazy -- but not unmanageable. YEs, I probably can't keep up with the pack on the flats -- but is that what fixed riding is about anyways? No.

So it goes, as I travel through myself on the long road of cycling life that I end up basically right back where I was before, with different frames. I cut to yester-year when I had the Trek 720, and IT WAS GEARED 42x18. Man, if I'd had this blog BACK THEN, I might have saved myself some hassle, eh??? Back then, the good bike was safe in the garage - the Bianchi. Gee-whiz....isn't that where the Kogswell is now? Hmmmmm.... smart.

Ok -- enough about that crud --- we back, and we happy.

The next big thing on the horizon is the Lone Star Century, and a year's worth of redemption ready to be dished out.
I'm really looking forward to riding with Ort again, and quite possibly a few others from the team, too -- but more importantly, I regard this as a first step towards the 12-hour race in July. This is good training, not a PR attempt or anything like that -- but if we happen to have a brisk west wind in the afternoon, that might be up for discussion. The temperatures should be much much cooler than they were last year, and in sharpest contrast are my feelings heading into the event. I feel rested, my legs don't feel like lead weights, and my resolve is strong.
My weight is about on-par, as well, with last year, and I'm not thrilled about that fact, but there is nothing I can do that will change that by this weekend -- but there is a lot of season left to do something about it. Moderation, dude --- moderation.

Full ride report will be coming, however, hopefully with some pictures if I can manage it.

Thanks for reading!

oh yeah --- it's BIKE COMMUTER CHALLENGE this week, and to celebrate, document, and exercise self-ridicule, I'll be logging in daily to give a short update.
You pretty much know how day one went, so far ... and if I don't log in tomorrow, you'll all pretty much know that you should NEVER ride a brakeless fixxie in Johnson County on a weekday afternoon. (knocking on wood RIGHT NOW) -- the key: don't be in a hurry.

Check ya later.

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