April 27, 2010

Getting Fit

I hesitated to even write this, and perhaps its another case of the dude thinkin' too much - but, I want to be abundantly clear about this before going any further. Many blog posts and reviews can come under easy fire and criticism if there are affiliations between the product/service and the reviewer. You'll see a lot of reviews that start with "I don't work for..." , "no-one paid me to say this", etc. So, before you read this, know that I *do* work part-time for BikeSource, and am therefore sorta affiliated with Specialized, and the Specialized BG Fit that I received yesterday. I was not paid to get the fit, and was not paid during the fit, and it wasn't mandatory for employees. I signed up voluntarily, just to see what the big deal was, really, and kinda selfishly to try and get personal confirmation that I had set myself up the right way all along.

Next, here's some reasons why the above is probably completely irrelevant with regards to what you're about to read below, and why I feel this still qualifies as an un-biased review of a service. I do not perform fits, and am not fit-trained. I work as a mechanic, part-time, at BikeSource, and am generally not in a position to sell or discuss bike fits. I can SIZE you to a bike, which means I can generally recommend a frame size and seatpost height based on loose measurements and random assumptions. Sizing and fitting are NOT the same thing. There are many shops in the KC Metro that provide fits. There are many sports medicine organizations that provide physical assessments to prevent or solve issues that could lead to injury. There are many Specialized BG-Fit certified shops in the country. BG-Fit is a indeed a brand, and it is specifically available in Specialized-affiliated shops, but the physical theories that are contained there-in are based on physiology and actual science, not on Specialized product or Specialized-branded or proprietary methods. My opinions and experiences outlined below are not intended to drive business to BikeSource or any other shop, recommend any specific fit method or thinking, but instead are intended simply to outline my personal experience, and highlight how the thinking with regards to bike fit has dramatically changed in a short period of time, and what is now readily available for utilization by the "average" cyclist.

Ok. I'm a knuckle-dragger. I'm a cave-man. I'm a hard-liner. My cleat position on my shoes and sandals has not changed since I "got it right" back in 2001. My seat height was derived by jamming an 18 inch long hunk of 2x4 stud into my - uh - region, while standing back-flat against a wall, balancing a magic marker and marking the wall behind me, then measuring and multiplying by the mean distance between the moon and the earth. My knee position was derived by fiddling with my saddle angle and fore-aft position a millimeter at a time until I could tolerate the pain for 200 miles. I run tan sidewall tires. I run fenders. I run bar-end shifters. I'm not a racer, I don't follow Euro trends with regards to fit and position, and my handlebars are level with my saddle. After four years of tinkering with my position on the bike, the saddle height, the brake hood location, and everything else that can be adjusted, well... you might as well weld those parts in place.

As an ultra-distance rider, an endurance nut, a randonneur, it must be said that there is a certain amount of pain and discomfort that simply comes with the activity. In even the shortest randonneuring distance, on your fastest day, you're in the saddle for seven hours, minimum. At the 600 kilometer level, you're in the seat for the better part of 30 hours, or more. Fatigue, saddle sores, pain, .... lingering pain. It's something that time and distance has taught riders like me to simply put out of my head. Rise above. The bike is fine, and nothing will change the fact that you're going to be sore after 200 miles. Period. Don't. Change. Anything.

So, how can someone like me even benefit from purposefully taking myself and my bike to someone that will scan and probe and look for excuses to change things like saddle height? WHAT??? Not only "no", but .. well, you know. Don't. Change. Anything. We use paint marks. We take perfectly pristine seatposts and etch tiny markings on the back of them with jeweler's tools, and then we examine and critique the position of those marks after every pot-hole and pavement joint to make sure our saddle height didn't change. I'm the worst possible example of this. I can see a millimeter of "off-center" from 30 paces. And it BUGS me.

GETTING to that point is what is important here. I have said it before about riding in general, and especially long-distance riding: fit IS everything. It's the difference between being appropriately sore after a 300K, and not being able to walk after a 300K, or when you're older. So, in my case, once it's "right" I am extremely hesitant to change anything, even under the guise of improvement.

The first part of the bike fit didn't even involve the bike. Looking for things like range of motion, flexibility, leg-length discrepancies, the way my feet naturally hang, and taking all of that information in. Questions are asked, and answered. Does this hurt? Does that? How much? Nothing is mystified. Every question is qualified, explained. Things are demonstrated. Measurements are taken. Nothing witch-doctory. This bone is here, this tuberosity is here, this metatarsal is here.

Then, the bike is locked into a REALLY expensive Compu-Trainer, leveled, and everything is measured AS-IS, before any riding or changing begins. So, if captain-hardliner-nut-job (read: ME) wants to put everything back exactly where it was, he can.
The position of key points on the body are marked, and I mount up to ride a portion of a basic road course to warm up and loosen up - so I am accurately represented on the bike. It helped that I rode to the shop, and was basically able to drop right back into my riding posture after a few minutes. As I was riding along, cameras positioned around the fit area were taking video of my ride. This is high-tech stuff, seriously, all the data being jammed into a computer while I pedaled along. Watts. Power distribution between each leg. Angles. Etc., etc., etc.
That's the "before" ride. I dismount, we check a LOT of data from the ride. Lines are drawn, angles taken, comparisons made, patterns emerge, and my memory is jogged. "OH YEAH... that's why my cleats were there..." remembering my first road shoes, and the struggles I'd had back in '99.

Then, the changes. If this is doing that, and you are feeling this, then maybe we change that, and try again?

Hesitation... "okay, we can always go back..."

Three solid, dedicated, patient hours are spent. It's you and the fit technician. Talking. Discussing. Observing yourself riding the bike, under load, freeze-framing, showing before and after, back and forth - like at the eye doctor... one... or two? one... or two? How about three? THOROUGH.

I've been through "fits" before, mind you. Just in the last two years, however, this level of technology, integration, putting physiology in place of those old "wives tales" like, the bars should be "xx" below the saddle, your knee should be here, saddle here, hoods here, you shouldn't be able to see the front axle when you look down, your heel should brush the pedal here - but just barely: good starting places, all good theories that saw a lot of champions ride to glory, lots of riders Race Across America, lots of MS-150 rides with no pain afterwards, a lot of bike-trail weekends pain-free and happy, yes, true. But, taking the video, marking the knees, the ankles, seeing it happen in real-time, under load, being able to juxtapose the images and analysis; this is stuff that (hate to even mention - trite-alert) Lance was using in a sports lab back in 2000. Doctors pioneered this stuff, long-time riders, racers, coaches, all realizing that the same theories and practices that squeeze every last watt and %efficiency out of an elite athlete at the top of his sport can ALSO benefit someone that just wants to ride XX miles with his or her friends and not be hitting the Advil for three days afterwards. The club rider that just wants to climb better, the tri-gal that wants to time-trial better, the mountain bike rider that is sick and tired of his sore shoulders, even the bike trail rider that just doesn't want to hurt... and who doesn't deserve to enjoy a sport that is meant to be enjoyed, at whatever level? This is trickle-down technology in a terrific form.

After the recommendations are carefully thought out, things begin to happen:
For me, let's go back a couple years again. I didn't really have many "complaints" in 2003. I refer to that as my "title year", culminating at the Mississippi Valley 24-Hour race. My speed and performance - while not race-winning - were darn good for me, and have been hard to replicate since. I was "comfortable" enough, and had roadside hand-ups and support, and my foot didn't unclip from the pedals until mile 166. I remember the ride, I don't remember pain. Over time, I retired that particular bike, and stumbled around with translating measurements myself from that bike to its replacement, and then to another replacement, and another, and another, and another, and finally to the bike that I primarily ride today. Over time, the only thing that has remained the same has been my saddle and my pedals. Frame geometries, handlebars, brake hood brands, where the shifters are, and even HOW I measure things has changed. So, whether I realized it or not (more likely not), my own personal fit was changing each time, very slightly. My body adapted, and whatever pain resulted from those minute changes was absorbed again. Mileage went up, pain went up - naturally. Mentally, as I matured as a rider, my tolerances for those pains increased all while I kept looking for tweaks, and getting new frames. If anything was really changing, I wasn't noticing.

Cut to two years ago, on the newly built-up Trek 450 "Warbird", I roll into BikeSource for the "old" fit method, pre-technology. I entered in with the same hesitation that I brought in yesterday. "We're not going to need to change anything... I transfered my fit from my 2003 bike..." I went away having discovered that my seat was too high, and my bars too far away. Rotated up the bars, adjusted the saddle, and I raised my eyebrows a little. Am I getting older? (No... you'd managed to dork up your own "fit" by switching bikes six times.) I continued that trend by riding the Trek home, and immediately "transferring" that new fit to the Kogswell. Was it exact? Probably not. This is largely impossible in practice because of the differences in the frames, some of the angles, etc., I'd come to find - but it DID get me closer to where I should have been, and that is the fit that stayed locked into the Kogswell, and got me things like my first 600K finish, and my first R-12 finish, without any significant pains. That's the fit that I rolled into the shop yesterday.

Though I was closer to where my body wanted to be, there were still small opportunities. While my body was adapting, and I didn't really have any nagging pains that I THOUGHT were connected to the bike, it was remarkable how the tiny alterations made larger changes to how my body looked on the bike in the videos. Where my knee was over the pedal, where my cleats were in relation to my foot, how telling my shoe's foot-bed was - examining the big toe, heel and arch markings pressed and rubbed into the foot-bed of the shoe was like a scene from CSI, and I was able to see clear images that explained why my big toes' nails hurt so much after long rides, for example. Pain that I'd learned to block out. I did my best the entire time to be my own best control. At the initial interview, I'd gone right down the checklist: does this hurt? No. Does that? No. At the time, I really didn't have any complaints... but as the data came out, and evidence was brushed off, things like my toenails, my shoulders, how I land on the saddle after I've been climbing OUT of the saddle, came to light in my head. Why, in the last two hours of a 200K do I keep having to slide backwards on the seat every few miles? As the process continued, I found myself changing a lot of my initial answers to the "does this hurt?" questions from "no", to "well, it could be better..." I wasn't prompted in that direction, to be clear - but the dialog in my head that played out as I watched the videos and listened to the measurements, things popped into my head like "man, I'm pretty stretched out...", and eventually I'd admit that, yes, such and such does tend to feel weird after XX miles.

One result, basically, the saddle simply wasn't where it should have been. Height? Perfect. I was happy with myself there. Angle? No problem. Fore/Aft? uhhhh.....not supposed to mess with that, right? Well, right... knees can be placed at risk. But, looking at the total picture, my knees were not exactly where they should have been in relationship to the pedal axles, either. Looking to my feet - and I was surprised how much attention was paid to my shoes and feet in this process - my cleats were also not where they should have been. I'd been spending years basically pedaling with my toes. Small movements, but with each tweak and subsequent session back on the trainer, back on the video feed, the small changes began to reveal changes in other areas, in a positive fashion. All the while, concerns about moving the saddle forward and somehow tossing the knees out of whack were alleviated instantly by confirmation of proper angles and alignments because of the movement of the cleats. My shoulders relaxed in the video. My knees lined up better than before - very slight, but there. My elbows looked more neutral, relaxed. The dizzying amount of angles, data, axes of motion captured could satisfy the most analytical theorist, and the data can be used to tailor whatever you like: more power, more comfort, and of course a balance of both. Generally, however, the goal isn't "low and aero" like some of the old thinking used to dictate... it's remarkable that really, there is only one goal in the "fit", and that's to get the best possible position so you CAN have both power AND comfort. Heck, look at any pro-peloton race this spring, and then watch a video from the 80's. The thinking HAS changed. Sure, you won't be positioned as low as a feather-weight pro-racer -- you don't have his flexibility -- but you can see over a span of 20 years of pro racers, the positions have changed. No-one used to pay that close of attention. Fatigue as a multiplier, one really does lend itself to the other... the body simply won't produce power if it's not lined up right, and that means comfort, almost automatically. The science works, and its been echoed in far more places than this shop or this method, in recent years.

But, the technology makes a huge difference. The video capture is brilliant, repeatable, overlay-able, measurable -- compared to me, on a trainer in my garage dangling some excuse for a plumb-line from my own knee and trying to figure out things on my own, or back to standing barefoot against that wall in the garage with the 2x4 jammed up into myself and a calculator. Trying to be objective enough on the bike to determine whether or not my own hips are rocking. Again, I don't do "fits". I can tell if a bike is the right size for me, or someone else, but I was only barely in the neighborhood of understanding.

So, clearly, this will require a follow-up post in a few months. On the ride home last night, things DID feel better. Some of my initial complaints seemed to dissolve. When I stood up to climb, and then naturally dropped back down, the saddle was there to meet me and I didn't have to readjust. Last night, my legs were a little sore, maybe more fatigued than normal - expected: the changes, while small, are still changes. I'll need to give it the rest of the week in commutes at least before I "forget" and let my body tell the tale, let things settle in. In a few more weeks, the 600K looms... but perhaps that's too lofty, even after minor changes. There is a 200K that same day, and that might be more appropriate. Only then, after 8+ hours, will I know for sure if there is any net gain - be it in speed, fatigue, or perception of pain. If I was able to simply take the pain and discard it on last month's 300K, then certainly, physically and physiologically, the improvements (and I have no doubt that improvements were made yesterday) should net less pain to discard, which might equate to stronger finishes.

So, for now - I'm impressed. As part of the review, I have to ask myself - would I recommend this to others? Well, I can't direct you to a specific location, but I would indeed recommend this kind of approach to fit. It's not a new statement for me - when it comes to performance, endurance, being pain-free, FIT is everything. What I've been able to do for myself over the years has afforded me a lot of long-distance finishes, and day-after-day commutes without injury. Can you do it for yourself, in your garage, using existing methods and the traditional thinking? Absolutely. Is it worth it to save a few years (in my case) of tinkering to get real data, real images, measurements done two different ways, and the level of expertise that comes from someone that spent a good amount of time and money getting trained by professionals? I am convinced, yes. If I had the opportunity to do it over again, had this level of technology been available in a retail bike store back when I was doing my own rotation of "tweak-ride-hurt-tweak-ride-hurt less-tweak-ride-repeat", I would have done it and saved myself a lot of trouble, pain, and would have just enjoyed riding from the get-go. Instead of my flawed measurements and half-handed attempts to move those measurements from bike to bike, I would have opted to enjoy one of the end results of yesterday's process, which is a data-sheet with repeatable measurements, before and after, that can then be transfered to other bikes in your stable, or that new bike you've been eyeing.

So, should you get a professional bike fit? If you've got some issues, pains on your existing bike - absolutely. And, yes, even in my case where I went in without a single complaint and a fair amount of skepticism, ANYTHING can be improved. I was never forced, falsely encouraged, there was no product placement involved, nor was I cornered into changing something just for the sake of changing something. I was informed, reassured it was reversible, and given unbiased, clear data and images of my own body in motion, not compared to any control or example, and allowed to make an intelligent choice. If you love riding, regardless of distance, yes: I'd recommend getting a real, true fit. It doesn't matter where: but ask the questions, call them, ask what you get for your dollar and time, ask where and how they were trained, how do they think about the process, what's their goal for you? Then decide.

I'll report back after the next long ride, and then I'll know more.

Keep riding, and thanks for reading!

April 13, 2010

Doin' the Double

My latest facebook posts have indicated that the RIDE should be epic, not the post about it.
That's sometimes easier said than done, because of the constant stream of information and inputs that a rider can get from the environment they're in while sitting on a bicycle for such a long period of time. In this case, that was just under 13 hours worth of saddle time, and in total about 15 hours and 48 minutes of total time "out" on the ride itself, including the stops, etc. So, paring that down into meaningful bullets that aren't completely exhausting is difficult for me.
I'll give it a shot.

Eighteen people started this one, and it was a good turnout from a lot of the local scene - Dale B., Danny C., a girl that came in from Colorado whose name I can't remember because I'm terrible at that stuff. Andy, Greg and Karen on the tandem, and Dave, an others whose names escape me also.
A good crowd.

Twice on this ride, from two different people, it's commented on how minimalist my set-up is. I don't have a trunk bag, I don't have a ton of stuff with me. My order of Carboplex didn't come in, so I just decided to do the ride on c-store fare. Risk, perhaps, yes... but, having other experienced riders comment about how LITTLE I was carrying along with me for a near-200-mile ride? Complement? Hard to tell, but I think it's an indication that I'm familiar with myself as a rider, and have allowed myself a little room to suffer, as opposed to trying to carry everything under the sun. Took a long time to get "here" - back in '02 starting rides with a flat kit and learning the hard way... to the extreme of full saddlebags and carrying so much food I could do a 600K without spending a dime at a c-store. There is a balance: on longer rides, you won't find me with so little, but maybe not with too much, either.

This was the first ride of the season for me where I was actually able to start with half-finger gloves. The temperatures, after a long, tough winter of Kansas cycling, were really nice, almost 50 at the start, and a slight tailwind.

The first section was moderately hilly, which would prove interesting 12 hours later.

Riding out on highway FF from Oak Grove to Higginsville, what a magical road, seriously. Long, straight, hilly, perfectly indicative of rural Missouri - very cool sunrise, very big long hills here and there. Riding it at night, later, was equally magical.

Higginsville, MO., hit the Casey's - in and out, really quickly - and back on the road. The section from Higginsville to Marshall was "interesting". I liked highway AA, and riding through Corder. I enjoyed crossing all the railroad crossings (KCS, I think) that seemed to zig-zag across the route. I think I crossed the same set of tracks maybe three times? Kind neat, but alas no train encounters. Coming out of Corder, MO. and onto MO-20, began one of the longest sections of road I think I've ever been on in a while. I mean, the last time I can remember feeling like "I'm never getting off this road" was the last 48-miles of Ride the Rockies in 2002. I mean, it's hard to describe, but it's not really LONG.... 23 miles or so on one road, not horrible, but man.... seemed like it took forever. I was enjoying 3rd on the road at this point, and finally got caught up by Steve G., the mileage king. I was partly testing myself on this ride, and it's not about road position or anything like that with randonneuring, but I was happy so far. Out front? Jeff W. and Alex S. - the speed kings.

Finally arriving at Marshall, MO., and a quick stop at the Casey's there. Whew. Getting warmer, so layers come off for the next leg.

A new fave little town discovered along the way, Slater, MO. Good Casey's, good folks. Even one of the teenager-type working there, instead of being completely shut off to the idea, asked me (on the return trip) "is there, like, a marathon or race going on?" "Sorta, yeah... long-distance marathon bike ride". "Cool..." Went into a few of the details, and he actually had some intelligent questions. For that to happen out in "the sticks" is pretty rare. Neat moment.
Another long section of road ahead, and now I've been caught up by the tandem and "Dave" (?). The interesting thing, I've also been caught from behind by Jeff and Alex. Hmmm.... cue sheet woes, perhaps? Hard to tell. Again, doesn't matter - a finish is a finish!

The next section was pretty neat. Another long spat along MO-240, mostly flat across the Missouri river floodplain, along some railroad tracks again - but, no trains. Finally we reached the pinnacle of the ride, well, at least for me -- I've never crossed the Missouri River on a bicycle, and today was the day. Hopping across the long grade of the bridge and landing in Glasgow, MO., and then south to highway AA for the run into Fayette, MO., the halfway. Hilly road. Very neat, dancing around the bluffs. Hilly.

A 6" veggie sub at Fayette, MO., chips, drink. Along the way, so far, I've been riding on the "feed bag" - a top-tube bag (triathlon style) turned into a tiny handlebar bag, and inside: peanut butter crackers, fig netwons, cashews. Tried Gardetto's original snack mix, but it didn't work for me. Odd taste. Worked in the past, but not this time. Next time, I oughta try Powerbar Harvest broken into pieces, maybe for some variety. The veggie sub was real food, and tasted GOOD. It made the hills and the return trip back across the river to Slater a little easier. I never really found myself wanting for calories, until later in the ride. I also had two Hammer Gel flasks full at the beginning of the ride, and used them for predictable hits here and there, and mixed them in with straight water to keep the delivery coming. Later in the ride, though, the amount of calories required to maintain the same speed, power, gets higher. At the end of the run back to Slater, for example, I ate another veggie sub... well, a cheese sub. Drank a real Coke. Some Powerade Zero (thank the maker). I perhaps had a quarter of that amount of food on the outbound, so the day was clearly catching up, food-wise. My problem - I was missing the carboplex. I won't carry enough to fuel every mile, but having some to drink at each control is a good thing for me, because it gets difficult for me to force food down. I just can't eat what I should in solid food. But, I can drink liquids without issue - so Carboplex works. Simple, inexpensive, predictable.

Electrolytes would be a big factor today, too -- first warmish ride of the season, and I didn't want to cramp like I had on the March permanent. Success! Endurolytes, and the occasional Powerade Zero drink (again, thank goodness for whoever decided to start stocking a high-fructose-corn-syrup FREE electrolyte drink at rural c-stores, you get a high-five.), and I was topped off nicely.

Rounding out the calorie discussion, and this is really NOT the way to lose weight, I'll grant you, I lost 6.5 lbs on this ride. I don't think it was hydration based... not sure. I was blessed with a bout of food poisoning about 24 hours after finishing the ride, so after surviving that I don't really know where my body ended up - but, I don't imagine I took in quite enough food during the ride itself. The food poisoning was un-related to the ride, by the way - but it sure didn't help recovery.

From Slater to Marshall... yikes. Okay, not bad, but hillier than I remember. Managed to hang with the Greg and Karen on the tandem and Dave a bit more, and we stayed together more or less, kinda yo-yo'ing along the way. This is a really neat section of road, and even though there was more of a headwind on this part of the return leg, I was still really enjoying the day. It was a good day to be enjoyed, with Meadowlarks singing, cardinals, and other songbirds playing in the sunshine. A good day to be on a bike in the country.

Back in Marshall, at the Casey's, made the marginal mistake of having something with a little TOO much sugar in it, a cherry pastry.... DANG it was good, but as soon as it was down I felt, well, "off". It passed quickly, however, and I felt good again. Turned into good push for the next 15 miles. At this point, Danny C., "Colorado" and Andy had caught up to us. I was ready, so when they rolled out, so did I. Not ready to rest quite yet. My tentative goal was to at least get back to Higginsville before dark. That was do-able, but not if I dawdled. We four rolled out onto Highway 20.

Yeesh, what a long road. Hydration today wasn't a problem, like I'd mentioned, but being SO on top of it sometimes became an annoyance. Had to make the roadside stop about halfway down this highway, finally finding a suitable turn-off. The four of us managed to stay together, but I proved how horrible I am in a paceline. I took my turn at the front, and then realized after about four minutes there was silence behind me. Ugh. Sorry! So, I'd slow up and regroup. But, I'm not sure -- I find myself being able to climb better than I can maintain speed on the flats. Every time the road began to pitch up, I was able to maintain more of a consistent pace without slowing, and that's what eventually had me miles off the group again by the time we reached Corder, MO. I made my way to the Casey's at Higginsville, and then rode back north to the McDonalds there, and re-found the group, joining Danny and company for a little McD before the final leg. The only mistake I made here was maybe (again) not eating ENOUGH. Another example where a bottle of Carboplex might have made the difference. I had a large fries and a Coke. Felt good, tasted awesome... but I should have forced down more food. Others around me, one example, had a chicken sandwich, an apple pie, a large fries, a yogurt parfait, a package of cookies and a Coke. I had probably a quarter of the calories they had, and returning to the road afterwards I was struggling to keep pace at times, feeling my still-empty gut and lack of push. But, I just can't force that much food down my trap. I even had to pour the last 1/4 of my large fries into my feed bag to eat out on the road. Couldn't even finish that in one sitting.

The last section was neat - riding along with Danny and friends, hills, sunset, Venus rising, birds off to bed. Took a long time to get back to Oak Grove, but, we made it. Not a bad day out! The hills were steep, yes... but not unmanageable. Looking forward to the next step, perhaps the 600K this time. The 400K to Iowa, I've already done before... so not sure, since the focus is still on R-12, if I need to do two long rides in May. June, however, is the 1,000K... and Danny has sunk his feelers into me on the subject. "I can do it", "I'm in my prime", "It's a life-changer". Whoa.... I'll think about it. THAT is a long ride.

The next day, I rode around the block a couple times with my son to get an even 200 miles for the weekend.
I felt really good Sunday, probably the best I've felt after a ride like this.
Sunday night into Monday, however, I seem to have contracted food poisoning, so I've been sent back to square one. Even walking a considerable distance was a chore. Hopefully, I'll be back on the saddle soon.

I'll leave you with some links to some music:

Music from the Road - (or, what was stuck in my head while I rode):

Vampire Weekend - Cousins I dig these kids. Solid. Been on my playlist for a while now.
Pearl Jam - Just Breathe A band that has matured a lot over the years, and their latest stuff is actually not shabby.
Metric - Gold, Guns, Girls I haven't always been a huge fan, and some of their older stuff isn't so hot, but this CD was good.
Manchester Orchestra - I've got Friends Not sure if I'm totally in love with this group, but this track it pretty good.
Iyaz - Replay I blame my wife for this one. I despise this song. Alas, there it was, in my head. Stupidly catchy.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Home Goofy, old country feel.
Them Crooked Vultures - Mind Eraser, No Chaser The drummer might look familiar. Pretty good band - no official video, but this live track is solid and not far off the studio version.
There you have it... thanks for reading!

April 9, 2010

23 hours....

Looking forward to a nice day on the bike tomorrow. 300 kilometers of awesome, 10,000 ft. of climbing, good roads, good friends. Updates from the road to come.

April 7, 2010

New roads

It's not the "same ole 300K"... not this year.
Visit the KCUC website for more information on this weekend's Oak Grove 300K.
196 miles of uncharted (well, for this group) territory!
This is where randonneuring for a lot of folks gets more serious... but I can only really speak for myself here.
Since 2002, the 300K has been a challenging ride - but, it's been the same course for many years running.
This makes it easier (if that's possible) for the returning rider to plan their day, conserve energy for "xx" section of the route, and similar.
Getting lost isn't a concern any more, generally, as turns become second nature and landmarks are burned on the brain.  It's never an "easy" distance, however, because you still have to pedal, after all.  The wind may change, pavement degrades and other section get fresh tarmac.  Ther can be construction, there can be weather concerns.  So, really - even though the cue sheet is the same, it's never really identical to the last time you rode it... but at least you know what to expect from the course, the hills, the traffic.
This year, a brand new route graces the KCUC calendar.  It's not a reprise of an old route from the 90's, no - it's fresh.
Granted, the roads have always been out there, but this is the first time they've been strung together for the KCUC group to discover.
New hills, new direction, new scenery, new challenges all along the way.
Big thanks to our own Spencer K. for putting this one together.  I'm looking forward to it!
It's the next step in the Super Randonneur 2010 series (200, 300, 400 and 600K rides in the same year), and will be #3 in my personal quest for R-12 #2.
Seriously, I'm jazzed -- it won't be a fast day for me - looking at the bigger picture, but after watching the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and seeing the pros hammer it out, I'm pumped.
Thoughts of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday have me excited to ride my own adventure, and then recover on the couch Sunday in front of Versus HD for the cobbles!
It's warmer, the sun is out, the grass is green --- I feel good, and ready.
If you are interested, again, visit the KCUC website for details, pre-registration or RSVP today!
You can print cue sheets and preview the map from that site as well.

April 1, 2010

Shot from the March brevet

Riders on the move, working hard to build that cushion of body heat before the rain begins... Again...