Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Start of a new week

Well it looks like I'm over my flu and other random crap that came up last week. I had to pretty much chalk last week up to nothing doing due to a pretty good bought with the flu that also included a bladder and kidney infection as a little bonus. Things seem to be getting back to normal, but I'm pounding Cranberry/Pomegranate like a College Senior pounds Keystone on a Friday night.

All in all though I'm feeling much better. I decided to take a ride yesterday and see where it takes me, without any real goals for distance, and I'm still not really concerned with running my Heart Rate Monitor yet. I ended up putting in 24.5 miles at about 14.5 avg. Considering the winds were blowing pretty good yesterday and I put myself directly into the headwind most of the way home, dropping my avg. And adding in the fact that I'm just getting over the flu, I was pretty happy with the results.

It's probably a good thing I wasn't hooked up to my heart rate monitor because I had my first meeting with a dog on the road in 18 years, and my Heart Rate Monitor probably would have been flashing "HEART ATTACK"... It's funny because I was just talking about the to my wife the other day wondering how long it would be before I got chased. So I got chased by two dogs... turns out they were really only looking to play, one got pretty close at first, but then settled in and just started running along side me for a while. The MUCH scarier part was later on when I was riding along and saw a goose in the road (YES, I said goose) It was just "chillin" in the middle of the road, I didn't think much of it, I gave it a little space, as I tried to pass it, but as soon as I got next to it, that son of a bitch was out for blood! It started running at me, honking and flapping it's wings... I think that thing wanted a piece of meat.

So I definitely got a couple of ,unintended, intervals in, but all in all it was a pretty good ride. I felt good most of the way, even with the head wind. And I felt good the rest of the evening after I got a shower and cleaned up. So good, in fact, Jen and I were able to run over to the Lowe's in Turlock and then come home and do some landscaping later on in the evening.

Ok... ok... so it's a work in progress. I know I have to crack the whip on the kids mowing the lawn and, as you can see from the pots etc. in the back planter bed everything isn't complete. But that's not because we (I) ran out of energy, it's because we ran out of Daylight. All in all, I think it's turning out pretty good, and I'm pretty happy I was still able to do it, just after doing my longest ride in a long, long time.

See ya out there on the road.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amgen Tour of California, Stage 3

Well the Amgen Tour of California came to town on Tuesday. My oldest son and I went down to have a look at what was going on. I've been meaning to make it down to the race the last couple years when it passed through but have just never had the opportunity. I made sure to make time to get down to it this year (despite battling with the flu). And I'm really glad we got to go.

We made sure to get Downtown early, about 2 hours before the race was scheduled to make it in to town. This gave us an opportunity to find a good place to park and make it to the vedor booths before finding a good place at the barriers to watch the riders come by.

After we checked out the booths down the street from the Start/Finish line we made our way down to find a good spot to watch the action. We found a place about 100 meters from the Finish line where we could watch the final sprint, but we could also watch the big screen of the race footage as the riders got closer to town.

When the riders arrived, their first pass was pretty much a blur, the riders took up pretty much the entire width of the road, and flew on down past the Start/Finish. They completed 2 cicuits around Downtown Modesto, there were a couple of small crashes on the course but nothing that looked too bad. We were able to continue watching the race as it went on on the big screen behind us. When it was all said and done Ben Henderson from the Sky team dominated the Peloton beating Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Thor Hushovd (Garmin Cervelo) for the win.

Ben Henderson (Sky) dominated the peloton in a sprint aided by a fairly strong
tailwind. Henderson took the sprint from a little more than 300 meters out
and never relinquished.
Modesto is said to be one of the favorite stops for the Amgen Tour of California... A favorite for promoters and riders alike. This years stop didn't look like it dissappointed. The crowd control was great, the course was baricaded to Pro Tour standards. The crowd turn out was awesome... I'm glad my home town can play host to a stage of a truely top notch Pro Tour event and I hope it continues to do so in the future.

(There are more pictures of the event on my Facebook page.... The Prodigal Cyclist)

Modesto Criterium

So, we had a ton of fun at the Modesto Criterium last weekend. My sons and I went out to have a look, since the race was in our own backyard. Turns out we met up with a bunch of my friends from the "Good 'ole Days" and everyone had a pretty good time.

Jeremy dictating the pace in the
Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race

Rich (white helmet) in the Field of the
Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race
A couple of my friends ended up racing. A couple just came out to see what was going on, like we did. And we met up with another, later on, at a friends house for an impromptu Barbecue. I'm sure the two friends of mine that raced would have liked to have had better results, but for an early season race I think they both did just fine.
Jeremy dictated the pace for the majority of the Masters 35+ 1,2,3 Race, and also went on to have a strong race and Field Finish in the Senior 1,2,3 Pro race later on in the afternoon. Rich was able to steal (inside joke) all of the Prime Laps in the Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race and also went on to have a strong race a Field Finish in the Senior 1,2,3 Pro race as well.

After the race, a few of us all gathered up at Todd's house for an awesome BBQ, some movies of the "Good ole Days" and some reminiscing of days gone by. It looks like most of my friends have been away from the bike at one time or another and they have all since returned. But now that we've all returned (to differing degrees) we'll have to see if we can get in some rides like we did back in the day. Either way, it's good to have seen the old friends and I hope we stay in touch much better than we have since the last time we were together.

Me, Mark, Jeremy, Todd and Givo at Todd's house for a nice after race BBQ.
See you on the road...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back in the saddle again!!!

Alrighty.... So I just (FINALLY) got my cleats in the mail today. I was so happy I was about to burst on the way back down the street from the mail box. My cleats were the last thing I needed, that was keeping me off the road.

So, without having a jersey
I had to make do, and go with
What I had available. The Cell
went in the shorts on my hip
.... sorry no picture of that.
So I got all my allen wrenches and set out about fitting my bike, and getting everything all set the way it needs to go, with the help of my oldest son and a set of mirrored closet doors lol. I must say, I must have done a pretty good job because on my first ride, I ended up only having to make minor adjustments. I raised my seat about 2mm, had to twist the handlebars forward to bring the brake hoods up a bit, and my right cleat had to be adjusted so my toe could point out about a degree or so. I still think the seat will need to be raised another 1-2mm, and I'll have to play with the cleats a bit to find the sweet spot, but all in all, I definitely found a good place to start.

As for the ride it's self... I'm not too disappointed in myself for my first ride in what is apparently 18 years (my last racing license expired in 1993 and that would have been the last year I rode) Anyway... I managed a 15.1 mile ride at an average of 13.0 miles per hour. I don't think that's all that bad considering I did a lot of coasting, looking down at my pedals to see how they were lined up, I was on and off the bike a few times to make the various adjustments, I also purposely stayed in a fairly high gear to go ahead and start getting myself accustomed to spinning the pedals again, and the beginning of the ride was just mainly getting familiar with even being on a bike at all... I haven't even been on a bike for anything in at least 15 years.

Some observations about some of the equipment...

Oh MY!!!... the bike was awesome! It felt just like I remember my old Allez Epic feeling. Everything functioned flawlessly... the brakes were perfect, it had crisp clean shifts, and everything functioned smoothly and sounded just as it should. I'm glad I went with the 25C tires. If they give any bit of added comfort it is surely welcomed for now.

I'm not sure if it's the Saddle or my butt that needs to get broken in, but I'll tell you... one or the other (or BOTH) need to do something soon. But it was no different than I remember any new saddle being. If I remember correctly, my Flite saddle back in the day didn't take long to break in.

I'm TOTALLY satisfied with my Rudy Project Slinger Helmet. It was totally comfortable, the Micro adjust dial on the back is awesome. It's so light I forgot it was there at times. And it has huge ports that allow air to pass through. One thing I realized is that with the big air ports, and a shaved head, I'll need to get one of those skull caps because otherwise the tan lines on my head will make me look like my head is a Turtleshell.

I'm glad I didn't skimp on the gloves. I decided on the Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Vent Glove. They were awesome. No complaints what-so-ever... but that's what I would expect from PI. I also went with PI  for my first (and currently only) pair of riding shorts with the Quest Bib Shorts... I may have to upgrade to the Attack Bib Shorts (next model up) if the Saddle doesn't break in soon.

And last but not least... what can I say about Sidi shoes? Other than the are the very definition of perfection in cycling shoes. I have never owned any other type of road shoe other than Sidi.. and it looks like I don't need to think about changing anything any time soon. The ONLY problem, which isn't really a problem, is I remember now why I used to always run insoles in my riding shoes, Sidi runs just slightly big, so a good insole will give me just a little bit of cushion and take up the little bit of slack so I don't have to ratchet down so much on the buckle.

Other than that... toady's ride was definitely a good one! I found a route to use that kept me pretty much 5 miles away from home at all times, just for if something went wrong on the test ride. I made sure to have the head winds in the beginning of the ride so the ride towards home was actually more enjoyable than the way out. I had the help of the wind, a slightly better adjusted bike and I was also a lot more comfortable and sure of myself by then. I'm sure there will be a few more adjustments, especially when I get around some of my old riding partners that can look at my form as I'm riding and give me a few suggestions on things I can't see. But overall I'd rate tonight's ride a solid A ride, all things considered.

See ya out there on the roads =)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The "Time Machine" is complete!!!

Well, after about a month of piling over Ebay and Craigslist ads, and finding a whole bunch of old parts hoping they'll come in as good as condition as they look in the pictures. Gathering my collection of parts from Virginia, Texas, Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin and a whole lot of other places that I'm probably forgetting. The "Time Machine" went down to Cycle Masters in Turlock a few days ago. And I must say that Gary did not disappoint. It looks and functions better than my last one did... at least better than I remember.

I'm totally happy with the way it turned out. Everything is pretty much period correct to the mid 90's, except the wheels are a newer style Mavic with Specialized hubs... nothing super special, but they definitely look like they belong on the bike.
Now just give me a few weeks and people will be seeing this view of the bike.... LOL.... ok, ok.... give me a couple months. =)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Almost on the road again.

When the thought of getting back on the bike came up, there were a few questions that came up. The biggest questions were probably; Where am I going to come up with the bike? and; What's the bike going to be like? I looked around online and went to some of the Local Bike Shops (including my favorite) and gave it some thought. Now I'm not going to lie to you and say I didn't want the latest and greatest technology. A carbon frame and top of the line carbon components... maybe even the Shimano electric shift stuff (ok, maybe not that new... I can't see how that stuff can really be reliable) But the possibilities were endless. Well the possibilities weren't endless but the dreams were.

But then I got to thinking... Wouldn't it be cool to have a bike that was just like my first racing bike? I liked the idea. And in terms of cost savings (a major factor in getting back on the bike right now) it seemed like a good idea. It would also allow me to be riding a bike with components I'm familiar with. And it would sure be unique as well (another thing I like) at least unique, relative to the bikes running around on training rides today.

But along with the cost savings, and the familiarity... I felt like getting a bike like this, from a nostalgic perspective, would be the right way to go for me. You have to understand... When I first got into Cycling it was at a point where I was just getting old enough to get a drivers license and my own car. I sold my very well preserved (and extensive) Star Wars toy collection that was packed away in the garage. I had plenty enough money to buy my own car, and I was posed with a question. Do I buy my own car, or do I buy the Specialized Allez Epic I have my eye on in the bike shop where I work? The answer was the Allez Epic... and the answer is the same today.

This is as far as I could go with the bike given the lack of
Bottom Bracket tool, Headset wrenches, etc.
So for the last month or so, I have searched Craigslist, and Ebay, and any other bike classified that I can find, looking for a frame here, and some brakes there, a crankset, headset, wheels, and yes... I even dug up some good old fashioned Scott Drop In handlebars like I used to run "back in the day". They were brand new in the box. Some guy I found in Texas had won them in a Criterium back in the 90s, and put them on a shelf, and never even pulled them out of the box. I've collected the things here and there, making sure that as much as I can is period correct Dura Ace (7400 series) and as the parts came in I pieced it together to a point where the rest was going to have to be completed by Gary, at Cycle Masters in Turlock, due to the fact that I lack some of the specialty tools to complete the build.

So, I took it to Gary at Cycle Masters and let him take it from there,
So far so good, in a few days it looks like I'll be back on the road.
And of course... Gary is taking great care of the new (old) machine, everything is running smooth, and in tip top shape. So here I am, about a week or so away from being back in the saddle again. I'm sure my bike will be the topic of some jokes, and if I should show up to a local training ride I'm sure it'll be looked down upon by some. But one thing is for sure... It's definitely "MY bike" and I couldn't be happier with any other... at least for now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Memory Lane

From left: Jeremy (acting as his usual
goofy self, some things never change)
Givo (lookin like a "hard ass") Mark,
and me (holy cow LOOK... I have hair!
And sideburns too)
A few months ago I was digging around in some of my old pictures. There aren't many left from "The Good 'Ole Days" but the ones I did stumble across definitely brought back found memories. I've always missed the bike, and the friends, and the riding etc. And I've always gotten an itch as I've watched the Tour, and some of the Classics on TV over the years. But the pictures, along with finding some of my old friends on FaceBook really got the itch going to find a bike and start riding again.

The memories of mashing up and down the state of California, going from race to race to race, in the War Wagon (The LeBaron seen in the picture to the left) are definitely fond memories in deed.

Givo and I, on a training ride in the "Beautiful" (or not so beautiful) hills around Copperopolis CA.
I'm not exactly sure what I intend to accomplish getting back on the bike. Getting back in to shape? Getting involved in a team again? Maybe even getting back in to racing... who knows? I guess I need to just get back on, and see where the bike takes me. I'm pretty sure that riding some of the old "haunts" like Copperopolis and Del Puerto will be in order... I look forward to riding back down the familiar roads.