February 10, 2014
In preparation for my mostly-mental assault against the Knob Noster permanent route next Monday, I took to re-reading my old post from 2009 (available in the archives link on this page), to see how things went, to see if I could spot any preoccupations, equipment differences, changes in approach - and I was surprised at myself. Not only does history repeat, apparently, I have some serious issues with my memory.
First, the timing -- at the time I had just finished my first R-12, and had been set on continuing it; at the end of that ride, however, I had sincere doubts about the future of my long distance riding, period. The post doesn't really reflect this, but I remember how I'd felt. Tired, grumpy, hacked off by flats and stumped by a local hill, and frazzled by the last few miles of traffic that I'd managed to time perfectly with that evening's rush hour. I'd also been a month deep into a personal weight loss quest, and had been curious about how the lost of 10-12 lbs. would have me fare out there, that day.
Today, five years later - same bike, largely the same equipment ( I have no notes in that post about tires, but I'm fairly certain I'd been running the same old Paselas ) and the exact same weight concerns. While I'd like to think THIS time around might go differently, I'll not be a bit surprised if I find my finishing time and rolling
average to be identical to what i'd been five years ago. Perhaps I'm being a bit fatalistic... but, I think I am seeing a trend here. In fact, if you've read this blog for any period of time, you won't have to dig very far back in the archives to wonder if you're reading the same post twice. Only the riding partners have changed, and only recently has the saddle.
Granted, I don't know if any of us really change a whole lot after our 20's yield to our 30's... but, the way I feel, mentally, now... I guess I had hoped for something different. Maybe it's a sign I need to try something new. I don't know yet ... I'm not exactly unhappy with my riding lately (or am I?), but the missing piece might involve pushing myself a bit harder. I don't know if that's a solution, or a sure-fire way to compound what I'm seemingly viewing as a "problem." Maybe there's nothing to solve here.
Not for the sake of change, but it'd occurred to me that perhaps there is a connection to the type of gear I'm running. For instance, maybe the old-standard 53/39 truly IS lost on my legs, and my game might benefit from a compact crankset. Maybe those utilitarian and inexpensive (though, not of late) tires I've been running aren't the best choice for my style anymore. Perhaps, since I'm spending $xx on those things these days, and since the more performance-oriented tires everyone is gabbing about in the forums are only $xx + 10, maybe I should try them.
(Cut to right now - I've ordered a pair... though I'm not sure I'll try to debut them on a distant permanent.. especially when the lastest version of the forecast is calling for rain that day.)
I'll likely post back on my findings, however - especially if they turn out to be as revolutionary as people are professing. Flats... well, I can't judge by the internet. Only bad news makes the front-page, generally... and while there are plenty of great reviews touting the fact they have NOT experienced the flatting issue.. well, those same naysayers have been known to post the same reports on the tires I'm running now, and I simply haven't had any issues.
So, I'll have to see if the tires which rhyme with "Bland Noise" are "all that", or not. But, it had occurred to me: the "speed" I long for may live somewhere in a younger, lighter body... I can't do much about the age part, but the body is in progress... about 20 lbs. along the way, so far, and maintaining momentum. If the tires are indeed, according to some very well-documented tests, holding me back by X Watts, well.. perhaps there's something to it, and, therefore, why not? That lack of flat protection may well bite me in the backside... but, lest I forget, my old tires of choice back in the 23c days didn't have flat protection of ANY kind, and I can count the number of flats I amassed over the years I ran them on one hand, all-miles, including commutes. Those old Ultra 2000s were terrific, and didn't have anything Kevlar, aramid, or poly-breaker about them. A simple, 3-ply tire with rubber tread... and they were comfy, fast, and seemed to last forever. Today, the only tire I can find that matches that criteria... at least most of it... are these "Grand Bois" things - and, apparently, I can have my proverbial cake and eat it too: they're wider, so they'll likely be comfy - yet, they are fast rolling, and will apparently reduce my fatigue and shave an hour off my 200k times. Interesting. Although, it's the kind of promise that managed to take my money, for now, but I'll be watching and tracking carefully. A rep for Zipp wheels once told me a similar story... and, also had the numbers to back it up ... about deep-dish carbon rims. Forgetting for a second we're talking about $2,000/set wheels here.... he's probably right, but I'm not in that particular club, cash-wise... $10 more than I normally spend for a tire to achieve nearly the same result? Okay, I'll bite.
History repeating... well, I have tried new tires before, and gave up on them. Read: Specialized. They've been CLOSE to terrific... and there's nothing wrong with them... but, I found them, ultimately, uncomfortable. As for rides, my weight, my attitude in general... same old dog. Different year. Short of some new perspectives, some new photos... well, this blog could go on forever, but, seemingly, it's only worth a good five years before we start all over again. Twitter then? Closing the back cover on a great decade-plus of adventures? I don't know yet... the keyboard still calls, and I still enjoy writing... but, perhaps there's enough material here to start converting all 600 of these posts into the notes for that "great American novel." That should keep me busy for a good, long time. Riding? Nah... it's doubtful I'll ever really tire of it. But, finding that I really am repeating myself, proclaiming things I don't follow through upon, and starting over... and over... and over again.... well. I'm tired of listening to myself talk. Taken at face value, it's all the malicious ramblings of a great windbag who never takes his own advice. This isn't a half-handed attempt to see if anyone out there is paying attention... it's honest, it's real... I need some time to sort things out. Are the hours at the keyboard worth it, or can it all really be summed up in 140 characters or less, with attached photos?
Which takes more time? What do people READING have time for anymore?
I'll be back, more than likely... with a better eye on the past.
Thanks for reading! Now, go ride your bike.