Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Anti-Santa Has A Gift You Don't Want

Germ Infested Cyborg aka Your Cousin's Offspring
This is Billy. We cyclists call him the Anti-Santa. He make look like a fun, comical kind of guy, someone you might feel obliged to hug, kiss or play tootsies with this Christmas, but he wants to kill you. Billy is a germ infested cyborg disguised as your cousin’s child hell-bent on destroying your winter training by making you sick for the next two weeks. I’m almost certain Billy is a relative of that Mayhem guy on the car insurance commercials. I avoid Billy every holiday and take drastic measures up to, but not including, wearing a hazmat suit to the annual holiday family get together at Auntie Sherry’s house. At this very moment, Billy is a virtual human backpack of 3 different types of influenza, 5 types of colds and a few things that medical professionals have yet to categorize. Billy is a bad boy.

Billy's Favorite Hang Out Spot
Ya see, just before you walked under the mistletoe, Billy picked his nose, gave it a taste, then wiped it on his cheek.  You may want to think twice about where you plant that smooch and whether you want to stick a finger and let him give you a handshake with his adorable pudgy little baby fingers.  While his mom wasn’t looking, the dog licked his head; right after it licked its own butt.  So, a pat on the head may not be the best idea either.

The problem is that ignoring Billy is rude.  He’s grown so much since the last time you saw him.  His parents are proud.  Look!  He's got your eyes!  He knows his ABC’s.  They’ll be disappointed if you don’t interact with him.  After all, he needs to see his Uncle Joey.  He wuvs Unkie Joey.  He’s irresistible.

You may have noticed some family members have wised up to Billy and his evil posse of toddler anti-Santas.  When you walk into the house, there’s always a few people just sitting in the family room, in a chair, by themselves, with a drink and either chatting with a neighbor or watching the game.  You may think of them as the anti-socials.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  You should really get to know them better.  They're your type of people, doing their best to be a part of the party without being a part of Billy’s booger bash.

Guest of Billy's Booger Bash

Back to the mistletoe, here are a few rules to make nice-nice with Billy without getting infected with a disease you haven’t had since you were 14 months old:

1) Make no direct body contact with the Anti-Santa.  DO NOT KISS ANY BABY/TODDLER/CHILD.
2) Avoid being in the 90 degree cone of carnage that surrounds the Anti-Santa’s nose and mouth.
3) Stand to one side, at least 2.5 feet away of the Anti-Santa.
4) If you feel the need to have direct personal contact with the adorable germ infested cyborg, interact only with his/her clothing.  Grab that socky-foot and wiggle it.  Gently poke that sweater covered jiggly tummy.
5) Wrap up your interaction quickly by saying, “Oop, I’m almost empty.  I gotta get a refill on my drink.”  Then go to the bathroom and wash your face and hands up to your elbows. 
6) In the bathroom, do not use the community towel.  Find a fresh one under the sink or in the linen closet.
7) Repeat after every encounter.

The Anti-Anti-Santa
To prepare for your inevitable encounter with these sirens, stock up on the following:

1) Multi-Vitamins and Vitamin C.  I’d say take one everyday and before every new house you enter.
2) Drink DanActive by Dannon every day.  It’s got probiotics that will defend your body against an attack by Billy’s biological weapons.  Start today and let it build up in your system.
3)Do not accept accommodations in a child’s room at a relative’s house.  Sleep in a hotel or with family that has adult children.  A $100 hotel room is worth the price in co-pays and Sudafed.
4) Carry and use hand sanitizer after every encounter.
5) Billy’s Mom and Dad are covered in Billy juice.  Treat them like Billy.
6) Never let your drink get out of sight.  Billy is on the prowl and I think I just heard him sneeze. 

Enjoy your holiday the best you can!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gift Cards b/c I Love You, But Not That Much

You want to know how I know she loves me?  My mom called and inquired whether a Challenge Griffo cyclocross tire should be size 700x34 or 700c x 34mm.  She listened to my explanation of what the “c” and “mm” meant in relation to the dimensions of the tire.  Even if faned, she seemed interested.   She’s a retired nurse.  Having administered plenty of medication, she’s no stranger to the metric system and cubic centimeters.  Even though it may’ve killed the Christmas Day surprise, I almost appreciate her effort more that the gift itself.  Obviously mom loves me way more than people she purchased gift cards for.  I’m real present worthy and they’re just gift card relatives. 

Giving a gift card is like saying I’m not interested in your life enough to get you the dorky thing you really want.  That’s why I’d rather get a real gift than a gift card.  Gift cards are like saying TMI.  I know you’re into bikes, but that’s where I’m drawing the line.  Here’s a gift card to Performance.  You do the work.

There is an exception.  The only time I like getting a bike gift card, is when it opens a little window to my life, like getting a gift certificate to my local bike shop, BioWheels, the shop I race for.  They have Bio-bucks.  Like getting a Challenge Griffo tubular, a Bio-Buck certificate from my mom says, “I know you race for BioWheels.  I know you prefer to have your sponsor’s parts on your bike.  I called and talked to Mitch the owner.  He’s a nice guy and seems like a good friend of yours.”  It's a gift with a story.  That’s a real present.  It shows interest in my life.

Real presents bring people together.  Last year my mom asked for a specific kind of water color painting paper.  I went to 2 different art stores.  I talked to the bearded hippie clerk.  Thanks to her, I now know that a block of 200 pound water color paper does not weigh more than me.  I got a taste of my mom’s hobby and she got a taste of mine.  Now, I lean in a little more when she tells me about the challenges of her painting class.  I can see how the paper and paint work together when she shows me a painting of downtown Cedarburg, Wisconsin.  In turn, at age 65, she learned a little bit about cyclocross.

The other great thing about getting a cyclocross tire for Christmas is that I can oogle it on the couch.  Try that with a gift card.  I’ll show the tire off to my science nerdy 3rd grade nephew and bore the little guy with a grand story of how fast I can ride my bike in mud.  Maybe I’ll show him a picture of me racing from my phone.  I’ll show him how the big knobbies can grab and hang on to a surface.  I'll tell him it was hand made in Belgium.  Maybe I'll point it out on a map.  I'll ask him to go ahead and touch the soft cotton sidewall, roll it across the couch cushions and explain how the cotton bends to follow the contour of the cushions.  He’ll be thrilled…for at least 3 minutes, a priceless 3 minutes of closeness with family.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Facebook Fun: Show Us Your Naked Snow Bike Pictures

With 4-6 inches on the ground in Cincinnati this morning, we asked our Facebook friends to send us their hot naked snow bike pictures.  To join in the fun, no matter where you're having fun in the snow, click here and like The Best Bike Blog EVER on Facebook.
Mt Adams Cincinnati Skyline from Michael @
Mitchell Memorial Forest from Mottsauce

East Fork State Park from Billy B
Cincinnati Mt Adams Drunken Monk from Jimmy B
Spring Grove Cemetery from Scott

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home Mechanic: Magic Juice May Outlast Patience

"Magic Juice" Should Be On Every Bike Workbench
Riddle me this.  You have a good sized credit card limit, a new brake cable, a u-shaped thingy, a brake spring, a 3-month gym membership including unlimited spin classes, and a bottle of penetrating oil that the mechanic at your local bike shop refers to affectionately as magic juice.  In what order do you use these tools to fix a 2004 Campagnolo Record front brake two weeks before Christmas when the high temperature is in the single digits?

Answer: Not in the order I did it.

Two weeks ago Blue Legs and her gorgeous, intelligent, super fit teammate, who looks like she’s in her mid 20’s set out for a Saturday ride.  It was a quick but hilly loop on a Northern Kentucky rolling favorite, Amsterdam Road.  Prior to bombing Amsterdam’s descent back down to the Ohio River, non-Blue Leg's front brake broke. 

Blue Legs
They pulled over.  The lever was in need of Viagra, limp and lifeless.  A broken cable, she reasoned.  Being the super velo-genius that she is, she opened the brakes so the pads wouldn’t rub the rim and continued the ride sans front brake.  She deftly navigated the tight dropping curves of the Amsterdam descent scrubbing just enough speed to keep her safe but fast enough to stay with her teammate.  When my wife arrived home, she gave me the news.

See That Spring Behind The Brake?
I checked it out.  The lever felt dead, but still moved the brake a bit.  Maybe there’s a thread hanging on, but I agreed with her diagnosis.  She asked what she needed from the shop and the next day picked up a new front brake cable, a new front derailleur cable, and enough housing to complete the job.  My reasoning, always replace the housing with the cable.  Since you have to pull back the bar tape to replace housing, you may as well replace both cables and housing.  It’s a cheap fix.  Both she and I were bursting with pride about her mechanical prowess. 

What was my mistake?  Yes!  I did not pull the old cable out to see if in fact it was broken till after we spent $20 on new cables and housing.  To my amazement, when I pulled the old cable, it was in perfect shape, not even corroded or frayed in any way.  Son of a…

So, why doesn’t the brake work?  Squeezing the lever and watching the brake, I discovered the horror.  Oh.  Oh no.  The tension spring broke!  In fact it was missing all together, ‘cept for the little piece still pressed into the brake itself.  The little “u” shaped thing that holds the spring against the tension adjustment screw was gone as well.  Being the best husband in the world and reasoning that I could still ride my cross or mountain bike, I put the Sram Red brake from my road bike on hers and went to work on a permanent fix that didn’t involve our credit limit.

I pulled up diagrams of 2004 Record Brakes on the Campy website, found the part numbers and ordered a new spring and “u” shaped thingy from BioWheels in Madeira via email.  She bowed to my superior mechanical prowess, made me a fantastic Indian dinner and fetched my slippers. 

In 2-3 days she picked the new parts up at the shop.  I installed them, but the spring still wasn’t functioning correctly.  I spun around in circles and screamed like a frustrated George Costanza on Seinfeld.  The pads would close, but not spring back open.  Something was seized in there. 

What was mistake #2?  I never stopped to think of why a tension spring would break.  As strong as she is I doubt she grabbed a mitt full of front brake and snapped the spring.  Things on bikes usually break for one of the following reasons: a crash, neglect, misuse, neglect, they are the weakest link in larger problem, neglect, fatigue over time or neglect.  But seriously, who takes their road brakes apart and relubes the moving parts?  Crazy Italian mechanics far superior than I, that’s who.  I got down on my knees, told her I was sorry for neglecting her bike, made her a fabulous salad dinner and fetched her slippers.

MISTAKES #3, 4 and 5
By now, nearly two weeks had passed since the incident with Blue Legs.  We had a few errands to run, so we stopped in to see our favorite Campy mechanic, John Wood at Reser Bikes in Newport.  Surely he could help.  He’s like a Campagnolo savant.

John wasn’t in, but the mechanic on duty confirmed my thought.  The brake was seized and wouldn’t move on the main pivot.  He suggested hitting the pivot points with penetrating oil that Mr. Wood called magic juice over a day or two and see if it breaks free.

With Dexter serial killer-like determination to put this beast to death, I bought a bottle of the magic juice and bathed the brake Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday morning, Monday night.  Each time I tried to turn the allen screw, nothing.  However, on Tuesday morning, now two days past two weeks into the ordeal, it broke free.  Harps played.  Animated blue Disney birdies flew and whistled over my head.  An evil laugh echoed throughout the man-cave.

Finally Fixed
While excited, I realized my third, fourth and fifth mistakes. 

3) I inadvertently left three little parts on the counter at the bike shop.  So I have another trip to make before I can say for sure that the brake is fixed.

4) The day prior, Monday afternoon, after reasoning that the six year old components were going to start nickel and diming us, I pulled the trigger on the Howitzer and ordered Record 11 Levers, brakes, derailleurs, a chain, a cassette and chainrings.  I used the credit limit to fix what the new parts and magic juice accomplished for $26.50. 

5) I should’ve read the label on the Magic Juice.  I’m sure it says, “Warning: Magic Juice may take longer to work than your patience will allow.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

CX Nats: Day 5 - Elites and Its Nuts

The final entry is pictures only. I can't explain what I saw, at least not clearly. It was too crazy, too much fun, and honestly, it hasn't totally sunk in yet. jersey complete with one upside down number

Well...the chain is supposed to be connected to the bike

Antonneau battling a rider up the first run up in the Collegiate race

Zach McDonald fighting two other collegiates

The mud was wet and gushy this morning

Captain America in place, just in case we need a hero. Yes, Wonder Woman was hot

Compton uncliipped on the first lap through the 180

Georgia Gould gave it her all and stayed close to Compton

Meredith Miller wrecked early and fought her way back to 3rd

Antonneau in her second race of the day

The dog isn't actually attached to this man, but seems to fit

Dombroski powering up to the flyover

Maureen Bruno Roy wrecked early and face planted, requiring 6 stitches post race

Mud was everywhere all day

Wish I got the whole picture....the dog attached to this leash is a white Bichon Frise

Real or fake?

The drum line rocked out the entire Elite race

How many people have rubber boots that match their pajamas?

Impromptu horns playing "Staying Alive" when the back of the pack would pass them

Mike Kennedy from OVCX trying to stay attached

Gregg Shanefelt grunting for a runup

The crowds were superb today

The "bowl" where a majority of the action took place

The steps were a popular place to heckle

Powers into the mud bog

Wells into the mud bog too

Ryan Knapp stayed on the lead lap all day

Someone parked their toy dog a little close to the course

Mr Speedo giving Trebon an ear full

I think Gumby is staring at my soul

A couple sections were faster to run than to try to ride

Powers chose to ride

An Elite attempting to make up his own course

Gumby stole Mr Speedos mask then chased him away

How surreal would it be to ride past a row of people with an adult sized bunny,  9 santas, Gumby and a guy in a unicorn speedo?

Powers into the mud bog - different angle

Trebon tripoding through a whoopty doo

Every cross scene has their Harry Wicks

The Yeti also made an appearance