Friday, August 28, 2009

A Dog On The Carpet, A Fish In The Air

I want to say you look like a dog scooting across the carpet desperately trying to get a dingle berry out of his fur, but I can’t. I keep it bottled up, because when it comes down to it, I should just be glad there’s another soul out there on a bike. I see riders all time, usually older more portly gentlemen, riding road bikes with their knees sticking out to the sides and their hands on the tops of the bars doin’ the poop scoot boogie. I try. I try so hard to mentally put a smile on my face and say way to go! So, glad you’re out there riding your bike, enjoying the outdoors, and losing a little weight. Then I see the knees akimbo, the hands close to the stem, and the legs wildly spinning two gears too small and something gurgles up inside that makes me want to roll up to them and say, “for goodness sake man, look at your reflection in the storefront windows. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Your riding looks like a dog trying to get a poop out of it's fur! But, I’m a non confrontational man. A wussy trait I know. One day they’ll have the revelation or someone with bigger stones than I will approach them.

That’s how it happened with me. I used to scoot across the roadway knees pin-wheeling to either side of the bike. Then one day a veteran racer on a group ride said, “Eh, Joe your knees are sticking out. Get your knees in, like this. It’ll make you more aero, efficient and faster.” I saw some truth in that. Who doesn’t want to get faster and use less energy doing it? Looking back I’m sure it was all a diabolical plan so he wouldn’t have to be on a group ride with someone who rode like a dog with a rear-end issue. I wrote about the experience in a previous post here.

Sorry. I know I shouldn’t cast judgment. Maybe the big-boy thunder thighs can’t come any closer to the top tube. Maybe the larger belly in tandem with the thighs causes an inability to put hands on the hoods or in the drops. I’ve never spun a mile in a large man’s chamois. It could physically be impossible. That’s why I dare not approach and instead take the long slow road of hoping that when the butt scooter loses a few pounds and ends up riding with some veteran riders that osmosis will take place, he’ll take note of the knees and slowly they’ll migrate toward the top tube.

There are so many ins and outs, dos and don’ts and unspoken “rules” of cycling, the fact that anyone new to the sport can pass the scrutiny of veteran riders is nearly impossible. There’s always be poofy jacket guy, seat bag big enough for an Everest expedition guy, and too much reflective flair guy. However, that’s true with any sport. I’m sure my golf swing looks like I’m shoveling a pig pen. No doubt my basketball lay-up has all the grace of a fish being thrown on the Seattle dock. Certainly I’m not the person to be dispensing cycling tips.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cycling Socks At Work

While I'm out riding and hopefully cooking up another good post, enjoy this previous post from the Joe Biker blog on AOL, the blog before the Best Bike Blog Ever*, dated 9/8/08.

Maybe this 40 year old cyclist is a trendsetter, or maybe I’ve just crossed the threshold of youth and I’m so out of touch that I’ve lost my fashion marbles. But, I really think these Sock Guy cycling socks look quite trendy with my work clothes today. They’re black with a brown star, so if your pants rise up a bit and someone catches a glimpse more than ankle high, ka-pow! I knock them out with my cool cycling-slash-work socks.

We had a blackout of sorts in the Cincinnati area this past week when the winds from Hurricane Ike blew threw. As of today, the 6th day after the storm, there are still around 80 thousand homes and businesses without power. I had planned on doing some laundry after the Loveland OVCX series cyclocross race on Sunday, but with no power, no laundry. Of course, even though our power came back on Monday night, I still use that as excuse to why I haven’t washed the heap of clothes in the bedroom and instead dipped into the cycling socks drawer for something to wear to work. Now, looking at my styling socks, I’m wondering if there are other socks in that drawer that I could wear to work.

I could be on the cusp of a whole new category of work socks. Normally men wear two colors of socks to work, black or brown. Alas! I have discovered something new…the Ralph Marlin Grateful Dead Fish Tie of the at work sock world. The tall-crew socks seem to do the trick. You can’t rock regular cycling ankle huggers at work. So, I went on the Sock Guy website and tried to find a few other styles of cycling socks you could rock at work.

Here we have the “Money” cycling sock, perfect for the sales staff. Put your feet up on the boss’ desk and ask for a raise or an increase in commission percentage while you flash these in their face.

Here’s the “King” cycling sock, which are quite effective when you need to lay down the law with your subordinates.

And for the riff-raff of the company, like myself, here’s a stylish racing stripe to impress your co-workers with at happy hour when you dazzle them with conversation about your last cyclocross race.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ridley The Cyclocross Wonder Dog: The Interview

I’m Facebook Friends with a dog, Ridley The Cyclocross Wonder Dog. As of this posting, Ridley has 36 friends. Give Ridley a break. You try typing with paws. Besides, the page has only been up two weeks. We’re not quite besties yet, but maybe after a few post race treats and a tummy scratch I’ll be in. Click here to learn more about Ridley and send a friend request. If you’re racing CX this season, you might feel a lick on your leg at USGP races, the Bike Authority Races and the Ohio Valley Series. I haven’t met Ridley in person (uh…dog) yet, so I took some time to get to know Ridley a little better through an exclusive Facebook interview.

Here are the basics from Ridley’s Facebook Page:

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

Activities: Chewing used Dugast tires and sniffing new butts.


TBBBE: Ridley…why not Empella…or maybe Richard Sachs?

RIDLEY: It’s the whole Belgian thing. Ridley’s rule!

So Ridley it is. That’s kind of nondescript, like Pat. So I’m going to come right out and ask, are you a boy or a girl dog?

RIDLEY: I am a boy. A BBIIIGG boy, if you know what I mean.

TBBBE: Facebook friends say you’re a cutie, are you a pure bred golden retriever or a mix? If mix, what breeds?

RIDLEY: A pure bred golden. I was kind of a rescue. My old family was a little overwhelmed with me.

TBBBE: You’re a wonder dog. Do you wear a Uniform? A skinsuit perhaps? Describe it?

RIDLEY: Check me out with my new 'cross threads at the Wendy Park race in Cleveland.

TBBBE: What are your special wonder dog cyclocross powers?

RIDLEY: I am able to leap double barriers in a single bound!

TBBBE: You’re like the St Bernard of cyclocross. I see you carry a cowbell around your neck, how else do you equip yourself for cyclocross races?

RIDLEY: You'll also notice I like to carry around my 'cross horn and a Duval on occasion.

TBBBE: I’ve been chased and nearly bitten by dogs on bike rides. How do you restrain yourself from chasing the riders?

RIDLEY: Anybody riding a bike and reducing their carbon footprint is ok in my book.

TBBBE: Have you ever been squirted in the face by a water bottle or had any other bad human experiences?

RIDLEY: Not yet!

What kinds of dogs don’t do well at cyclocross races?

RIDLEY: Any dog that shows up to a cross race in a purse is going to have a bad day!

TBBBE: Is it okay for riders to pet you for good luck? if so where do you prefer to be petted/scratched?

RIDLEY: Oh yeah, feel free to rub my belly or scratch my head, it's all good.

What kind of treat should I bring you at the race for extra good karma?
RIDLEY: Chocolate Power Bar pieces or Sport Beans

What’s your favorite night before a race meal?

RIDLEY: Eukanuba. Duh!

TBBBE: Oh my goodness, someone's in the garage trying to steal your masters CX bike, what do you do?

RIDLEY: As a trained CX protection dog, this is a BIG mistake! I'll just say that you will not be sitting down for a long time!

TBBBE: Okay a few cyclocross specific questions: How do you test a tire’s air pressure?

RIDLEY: If a tire has more than 35 lbs I'm able to puncture it with my canines! It's an expensive way to test tires!

TBBBE: Double or Single Ring up front…bark once for single, twice for double?


TBBBE: Ketchup or Mayonnaise on your fries?


Which pro riders are you barking for this season?

RIDLEY: My faves for this year are Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers. And how can anyone not love Katie? Let's not forget the Junior scene. The Red Zone kids and Project Velo dudes (and dudettes) have got some huge engines!

TBBBE: From a wonder dog’s perspective who’s got the best CX scene east coast, west coast or Midwest? Why?

RIDLEY: Let’s see. The west has the best coffee. The east has the Tim Johnson, and the Midwest has ME! The Midwest wins!

TBBBE: Last question: So you’re at a CX race and you’ve over hydrated. The nearest place to take care of business is the pro-pit. How do you decide which bike to pee on?

RIDLEY: I almost had a gig doing the drug sniffing thing but it didn't work out. If you’re a doper prepare for the flood!!

If you’d like to learn more about Ridley The Cyclocross Wonder Dog send a friend request on Ridley’s Facebook page here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's All Fobbed Up

Quite the opposite of the eureka moment of the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup discovery, my fob got in my Gu, or Gu got in my Fob, one of the two. It still works. Well…sort of. However, now when I use the fob to open the car door, I have to point it and press the button slow and deliberate like it’s a weapon on the old Star Trek series. “Spock! Use your fob!” “Patience Captain. It appears Uhuru dropped it in the Gu puddle back on Planet Stickimus.” The real issue is that you really can't clean Gu out of a fob. Sugary Gu does dissolve nicely in water. Electronics also dissolve nicely in water. If there’s any good news about my sticky fob, I’m sure if I ever were in a situation like Man Vs Wild’s Bear Grylls, I could find a way to extract the sugary content of the circuit board for “needed sustenance” to survive a week in Siberia while I try to find my way back to my car in China.

This of course leads me to how to keep the Gu Fob McDLT-ish ingredients from coming into contact with each other. I used to love McDonalds McDLT, the hot burger and cheese on one side of the container, the crisp lettuce and tomato on the other. Take a moment right now for the McDLT. Hopefully my solution will be as brilliant. Hopefully one day McDonalds will bring back the McDLT.

Guless Fob Solution #1: The Offspring

You gotta keep ‘em separated. Keep your Gu and food in the jersey pocket closest to your strong hand. I’m left handed. Gu goes in left hand pocket, key fob and cell phone in right, and tube & tools in the middle. If you have a Camelback, Gu goes in the strap pocket, your key fob goes inside. Or, put the Gu’s under the elastic of your shortlegs and the fob someplace else that’s not sticky, wet or hairy.

Guless Fob Solution #2: Move To The Boonies

Move to where you can ride your bike right out the door. That way you’ll never need to take your fob. You should probably also move to where you can leave your house doors unlocked, because some alarm systems and new door locks are now coming with guess what….fobs.

Guless Fob Solution #3: Forget The Fob

In most cases, it’s the key that starts the car, so there’s no need to bring the fob. Of course this brings up a whole new set if issues. If the car key flies out of your pocket when you spectacularly crash down an embankment and somehow you manage to get your carcass back to your car, you won’t be able to start the car to drive yourself to the hospital.

Guless Fob Solution #4: Don’t B Stoopid.

The whole reason Gu got in my fob is that when I ride, I keep my Gu’s under the elastic of my shorts legs. When I got back to my car and took off my jersey, I needed a place to temporarily stash my fob as I put the bike up on the roof rack. In my caloric deficit haze I stuck the fob under the elastic of my shorts legs and completely forgot that an expired Gu was under there. Maybe I should’ve had more to eat than Gu.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Never Trust A Guy In Jean Shorts

9-1-1. What’s your emergency?

There’s a shady looking guy in our parking lot going around to car doors and opening them up.

What does he look like?

He’s bald. Stocky. White guy with a white t-shirt and jean shorts.

Right now there’s probably a little carbon fiber, scandium or titanium out in your parking lot at work. In some cases it’s probably worth more than the car it’s in or on. You might even peer out the window at work or occasionally check on it to make sure everything is okay. Enter big bald guy in white t-shirt and jean shorts. You see the dude open up a few car doors in your parking lot and then he starts walking toward your car. You’d be on the phone to the cops in a second right? Right?

That was my case Thursday. A co-worker came into my office and said, “did you see that guy in the parking lot wandering around, he really creeped me out.” I walked to my 4th floor window which overlooks the parking lot and peered down. “There, there he is. See him between the cars!” The guy opened the passenger door on a dark car. “Well maybe that’s his car,” I thought out loud. “He just opened the back door to the company van.” Uh oh, we better call the cops. “He just opened the other van door!” By this time I was fumbling for my phone and the guy was walking toward the other van, parked next to my truck with my Jamis Xenith Pro in the back. I dialed.

After I hung up, someone behind us said, “Uh I think he’s an intern.” The room fell silent. The police were on the way. I laughed. That’s what he gets for looking shifty and being completely unaware of the message his actions and appearance were sending to the entire building. Reluctantly, I dialed back and cancelled the call. Certainly, if a similar situation arose again, I’d call the cops again. There was no time to rush around the building asking if he worked here. Besides, the boss put the nix on wearing T-shirts to work long ago. Later I learned he was out there helping put equipment in the vans and had arrived early. I posted the embarrassing incident to my Facebook friends. Coworkers expressed comfort that at the very least someone was looking out for their cars in the lot. Two mountain bike buddies said, “Never trust a guy in jean shorts.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bikes As Art, Building As An Artist

Making near sighted one-liner observations and more or less doing the blog equivalent of sitting on, is not what I like to do here. If you go back a couple weeks in this blog, you’ll notice a patch where the writing wasn’t really there. Like an attack that doesn’t go anywhere, all I could muster was a stab. It didn’t go unnoticed. One reader went so far as to post the comment “Ur blog is lame” after I poked fun at Bradley Wiggins repetitive tour interviews and compared Alberto Contador to Ryan from TV’s The Office. Touché!

I think there’s a finite amount of creative energy in my camelback. Some goes to my work. I make all the things that make you turn off corporate radio stations and listen to NPR: commercials, jingles and goofy things for commercial radio stations. It might be a step above greeting cards, maybe. What’s left over, I try to drizzle into this blog. Writing about cycling is way more fun than finding another way to convince you to trade in your clunker for a new Yaris. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay as well. I also think it’s fair to say that creative thought gets spent on building a bike. In a way, it is an art. The process is very similar. Whether it’s audio, a rhyme, paint, clay or stuff from Easton and Sram, you’ve got a bunch of parts that need to get put together in a functional, yet emotional effective way. Between work and the bike, we certainly had a bout with blog lameness a few weeks ago.

Three weeks ago, amongst snippets of cables, ferrules and dead leaves, I sat on my workshop floor for a good twenty minutes stared at the pieces like a kid with a box of 64 Crayolas. Across the room leaned an IF Planet X and a Jamis Nova both with aging Ultegra 9sp, a Jamis Xenith road bike with Sram Red, and (I am so lucky) two sets of carbon wheels, one without tires. How do I get the Sram Red on the IF, CX tires on the 2nd set of wheels, spend a minimal amount of money on cassettes and cables and brake pads while keeping the inevitable pain in the ass of having two different drive trains (Ultegra 9sp and Red 10sp) on my CX bikes to a minimum? With my hands on my chin, I stewed over needed parts and the costs, only later discovering I had smeared grease on my cheek.

Sell it. Sell the Nova. In less than a day, thanks to Facebook, I sold the Jamis Nova. Friggin’ genius. Sure it was my pit bike, but it was also aging and would be the crux of having two bikes with different drive trains. The fair deal produced enough lettuce to buy tires and a glue job for my 2nd tubular wheelset as well as purchase new cables/housing, chain and cassette to put the road bike Sram Red on the IF. It also gave a friend an inexpensive way to get back into cyclocross. With the hundred or so I had budgeted earlier to buy tires with, there might be enough to afford a carbon fork and cover incidentals. Sure I wouldn’t have a pit bike. However, traditionally I’ve only used it on average about twice a season. My wife was elated that we actually reduced the steeds in the corral. I now had the makings of one sweet cyclocross bike and two sets of sweet wheels. The first splash of color hit the canvas, and then the 2nd stewing began, along with a week and a half of non-functional bikes.

Which tires? Which fork? What gears on the cassette? With cables/housing, I should do new bar tape. What color? I sculpted. I arranged. I tried white & blue bar tape, threw it away and went with black. I went with the white saddle over blue. I tore through bins, boxes and file cabinets to find the IF sticker set that came with the bike so I could adorn the fork. I cleaned and lubed. The entire process from the first stew on the garage floor to the finished bike you see pictured took two weeks, help from a lot of friends and made at least one person post an anonymous poke.