Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sink Shower: As Seen On The Best Bike Blog Ever

I’ve performed the ritual of the Sink Shower™ at nasty trailhead restrooms as well as nice restaurant bathrooms.  If you’re familiar with Allyn’s café on Cincinnati’s east side, I took a Sink Shower™ there once and then sat down for some killer Jambalaya.

A sink shower is the perfect way to quickly make you publicly presentable after a hard bike ride by essentially bathing at the sink of a public restroom.  Note I said, “at” the sink, not “in” the sink.  There is a difference that I do not need to explain.  There are certain buckets you don't put your berries in.

I am inventing The Sink Shower™ Kit right now.  So, if you’re a cycling company or a toiletry company, back up the Brinks truck in my driveway and we’ll talk when I get home. 

There is an art involved (that’s where the nifty Sink Shower™ Kit comes into play) and best of all you don’t need to get completely naked in public. 

The Basic Sink Shower Kit™ comes with the following items in an easy to carry plastic case that’ll fit nicely in your cycling backpack with (to take a term from my 7th grade gym teacher) street clothes.  Currently I use one of those trendy plastic Clinique bags that you get for free when you visit the women in white lab coats at Macy’s to buy some manly face lotion and shave metrosexual.

1)                 Small bar of soap
2)                 Two small wash cloths
3)                 Small can of body spray deodorant
4)                 Swimmer’s Chamois
5)                 Plastic grocery bag

The Anywhere Sink Shower Kit™ adds these items:

1)                 Baby Wipes (where there’s not running water)
2)                 Baseball Hat (if you’re really in a hurry)
3)                 Larger Sized Tower (for hiding your junk in public)

Sink Shower Nirvana at Chevron Gas Station
Before you go baring it all in a public restroom, realize there are a few types of public bathes: the single and the community.  Both come locked and unlocked, stalled and unstalled.  It’s best to find a locked single with hand soap and paper towels.  

Taking a Sink Shower™ in a single locked public restroom is easy.  It’s all you baby, nirvana.  Take your time and enjoy yourself, figuratively.  However, taking a Sink Shower™ in an unlocked community restroom takes some tact.  It’s Murphy’s Law, or something like it, that someone is bound to come in at the worst possible moment.  That’s why you should learn the Sink Shower Technique™.

The Sink Shower Technique™

Step 1)           Cover the floor.  Put your Sink Shower Kit™ on the counter or sink and pull out one of your small wash clothes or some paper towel and make an area to stand on the icky floor.  1 minute.

Step 2:            Prepare your soap, 2nd washcloth and swimmer’s chamois so you can use them quickly.  Open the bag with your street clothes, and pull out what you’re going to wear, leaving the bag ready for your smellies.  2 minutes.

Step 3)           Quickly disrobe and wash your top half.  Women can use the larger sized towel in the Anywhere Sink Shower Kit™ to cover upand still get the washcloth where it needs to go.  No running water, no problem.  Break out the baby wipes.  Notice how the floor covering sops up the water that’s bound to drip off you.  Use the Swimmer’s Chamois to quickly dry off.  Apply spray deodorant.  Dress your top half.  2 minutes.

Step 4)           Do the same for your bottom half.  Tie the big towel around your waist to hide your junk as you wash.  2 minutes.

Step 5)           Stuff your stinkies and used Sink Shower Kit™ stuff in the plastic bag.  If your hair isn’t up to snuff, don the baseball hat.  Pack up.  2 minutes.  Extra if you need to put on make up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cincinnati: Now Rainier than Seattle and Portland

The drench-o-meter at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky airport shows 10 ½ inches of rain this April, an all time record.  You’d think that’s like Portland rainfall.  Not even close.  Portland’s average monthly rainfall for April is a wimpy 2.4 inches.  Even in the cute rubber rain boot capitol of the US, Seattle gets only 6 inches of rain in its rainiest months of December and January.  We passed Seattle rain two weeks ago.  Before you start feeling like one helluva hardass for not missing one training day due to rain, consider our 10 ½ inches is a third of the average monthly rainfall at Kukui on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, where at an elevation of 5,788 feet, the average monthly rainfall is 32.81 inches.  According to Velominati’s Rule #9, you’d be one hell of a badass to ride in Kukui or get killed trying. 

My cassette looks like a chocolate Krispy Kreme donut stuck in my spokes.  Black silt covers my fork like a beard.  A dull gray sheen has come over my silver Sram Red brakes.  The sad thing is my bike got the full-meal-deal cleaning last week.  I even overhauled my headset, for the 2nd time this winter/spring.  It’s easier said than done to HTFU when you start feeling like rain is acid falling from the sky chiseling ruts in your rims and rounding off your cassette.  Just like riding with a wet chamois, it’s not so much the water, but that fine layer of grit that’ll make your groin and bike beg for mercy.  Here are some tips to save your bike in the rain.

Make Your Friends Buy Fenders
That way your bike doesn’t look dorky, but you get the benefit of not having to drink or wear their road spray.  As an added bonus, you’ll get to sit on the back of the ride and avoid pulling because no one will want to ride behind you.  Use the $30 you saved on fenders for some nice white bar tape and bust it out the first week of summer sunshine.

Ride The Least Expensive Drivetrain
A friend expressed shock that I was riding my sweet carbon Kuota KOM in the rain instead of my IF Planet X cyclocross bike.  “The Kuota’s plastic,” I said.  Unlike the Planet X, a carbon bike isn’t going to rust.  Sure the Planet X is supposedly an all weather bike with sealed water bottle braze-ons; it’s also steel and has a Sram Red drivetrain.  When it comes to wear, it’s much less expensive to replace a workhorse Ultegra chain, bottom bracket and cassette than swanky super high end race stuff.  Brush, clean and lube your drivetrain after every rainy ride.

Ride Your Square Tires
Hanging in the garage, we all have a set of tires that’s as square as Will Smith’s Fresh Prince haircut with a few cuts and divots in ‘em.  Put ‘em back on.  Sure they’re not going to have that new tire grip or match your bike, but why kill a set of new tires.  Rain water picks up every spec of dirt and glass, sticks it to your tire, and turns a new set of skins into old ones in a week.  Save the nice tires for a whenever this rain stops or August, whatever comes first.

Monkey Pick Your Brake Pads
You’ve seen the Monkey’s at the zoo picking fleas out of each other’s fur.  Do the same with your brake pads.  Sharpen a spoke and monkey pick the grit out of your brake pads after rainy rides.  However, if you’ve been dying to get new wheels, but find it impossible to justify the expense, ride through every single puddle you can, then ride through a beach and slam on the brakes a few times.  Then show your wife the concave braking surface on your wheels and tell her you’ll stop buying Cheetos at work for the next 2 years.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sitting In and 2 Other Ways to Be Mediocre & Survive

Bikefucious say, “The best cyclists are lazy, except when necessary.”  I’m no cycling genius and this certainly isn’t the blog for impeccable cycling insight, but for the most part, it’s true.  In a race, on a group ride, even solo, cycling is about getting the most out of doing the least.  The time trialist riding the aero bike with his knees akimbo isn’t going to set the course record.  We’ve all been the dufus to bridge the gap to the breakaway with 4 riders on our wheel only to get shelled on the next riser.  We get dropped and learn.  I’m certain I’ve been dropped on every ride in town at one time or another.  I’m probably one of the most mediocre riders in the bunch.  If you’re not blessed with hams like a side of beef or the metabolism of a squirrel, the next best thing is to eek every sliver of hope out of your hopeless physique by riding smart.  Here's 3 tips and, and although I'm not qualified to operate Microsoft Paint, a kick ass graphic I made myself. 

Pedal Through Corners
I put my fist to my mouth and scream pent up rage into it every time I ride behind someone who coasts through corners on a group ride.  I can see it coming.  Hands on the hoods are a telltale of an impending corner coast.  That’s followed by the inevitable gap letting and eventual match burning to close it.  It’s like littering to me, littering energy that you could use later.  Put your hands in the drops and pedal through corners, so you don’t have to waste energy closing the gap.  Riders behind wont have to be on the brakes like a monkey or mutter obscenities under their breath.  If the rider in front of you made it through the corner pedaling in the drops, you should be able to as well.  Take a few yoga or Pilates classes and develop some confidence in your balance and core strength.  If you still find yourself routinely becoming unglued through twisty corners that others smoothly carry more speed or pedal through, run less air pressure in your tires for grip.  I won’t get into that whole Leonard Zinn charts and graphs thing, but I’m a 6 foot tall 162 pound guy and I run my tires in the neighborhood of 100- 105psi, not the 120 max it says on the sidewall. 

Stay in the Drops
Last night I was on the Cincinnati version of your local racer ride, Wednesday Night Worlds.  Two riders were in the drops all night long.  They weren't the fastest in the bunch.  One would attest to being the weakest.  However, both rode smart, and unlike stronger riders who got dropped along they way, they stayed in their drops, flat backed and hung the whole ride.  If you’re mediocre like me, hunker down; keep your knees and elbows in and save some energy by beating the wind.  You'll feel like you're totally cheating the guys riding tall on their hoods.

It’s Okay To Sit In
It’s the skill that riders learn last, yet it’s the one that could save them from a lonely slog back home.  You’re wheezing like a donkey, your HRM is beeping like an alarm clock and yet you’re in the lane headed to the front for another pull.  Don’t be a doof, doof.  There’s one thing worse than getting dropped on a group ride.  It’s dropping yourself.  You don’t have to pull through on a group ride.  Sit in.  No one’s gonna care, or think you’re lame. In fact they likely saw you struggling the last time you pulled through and will be thankful that you won’t be letting a gap go anymore.  Sitting in is an art.  To do it, hide yourself behind but just to the left of the last rider in the fall back lane of the paceline (pictured as yellow arrow.)  Do it right and, when they look to the right to see when it’s their turn to move to the pulling lane, they won’t even see you and move over smoothly.   The trick is to not disrupt the back of the paceline by staying out of their field of vision and causing the other riders to close a gap as they move over.  Practice with a friendly group.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet Coco, My Flamboyant Fantasy Bike Butler

My cell phone rings once a month.  The exterminator calls to pitch us a package, $180 to keep bugs out of the house for the year.  That’s a tish pricey in my book.  You can win the lottery, but you still have to spend your money wisely right?  Conversely, since we hit those six big numbers a few months back, $180 is exactly what I spend every single week for my bike butler.  

Hola Coco!
Meet Coco, my fantasy bike butler.  I considered a cycling coach, but since I won the lottery a bike butler makes me much happier.  Coco is half butler, half coach.  Coco is a nickname, since my wife and I can’t pronounce his real name.  It’s got a lot of rolly R sounds in it.  My wife pictured a bronzed ex-pro who would wear tight slacks and sexy white open collar shirts.  However, I was uncomfortable with that and hired Coco, who’s a bit flamboyant.  In his mid 30’s, Coco dresses in nice slacks and a pressed dress shirt.  However his has fluffy rainbow striped sleeves and a bow tie.  His machismo bubbling through, he insists the rainbow colors are world champion stripes.  I go along with it, knowing that’s probably not the reason.  While it’s our ultimate fantasy that Coco resides in the spare room with the full bath upstairs, we’re still frugal enough to keep the bike butler part-time for now.  Besides, as leader of a hot salsa band, Coco does well for himself and insists he’s married to an actress named Lucy.  I Love Lucy, he says.  Till we decide on the full-time thing, our bike butler visits once per day and is on call if we need him outside of that.

Every morning, Coco lets himself in just after we get up, brings us coffee and confers with us on our cycling or workout plans.  He’s so sweet.  He even asks if we had any mechanical issues with our ride the day before.  Tonight, after she spends the day at Nordstrom and lunch with the girls, Coco’s workout plan has my wife going to do Pilates at Pendleton in Loveland.  I’m doing hill repeats at Devou Park and riding from work.  Yeah, I still work, but just for the insurance benefits now.  He kindly reminds my wife to be careful with her bummish knee and for me to keep my heart rate at or just under 100% of lactate threshold.  “You go hard.  Backoff if over one hundred LT,” he says shaking his finger.  Even with his sleeves flopping around when he gestures, he can be intimidating sometimes.  Knowing that he’ll see my Powertap data, I nod to confirm.

My Wife And I Buying My New Truck After Lotto Win
Coco then heads down to the laundry room and packs our gear bags.  Yoga pants, other workout wear, a Sigg bottle, a granola bar, a Sweaty Band and a towel go in my wife’s bag.  He instinctively tosses an instant freezie pack in her bag incase my wife’s knee gets inflamed.  Coco packs my Northface backpack with my kit, shoes, helmet, IPod and heart rate monitor strap.  He even pre-butters my chamois.  He also packs a small cooler with a granola bar, a Gu, and three water bottles, two for on the bike, the third mixed with a recovery drink.  He then heads into the garage man cave to give the bike a quick once over and pumps the tires.  He then loads it all into our cars, her BMW and my Range Rover Sport, and hands us the keys as we leave.

Coco sticks around for about an hour after we head out for the day, prepping our other bikes and feeding the cats.  Since we hit the Powerball we each have two identically set-up pro level bikes, for each discipline.  Pretty sweet huh?  While I’ll ride my #1 Kuota KOM tonight, Coco gives my 2nd KOM and my wife’s two IF Crown Jewel’s a thorough cleaning and overall.  If something’s amiss, like a stretched out chain, he’ll pick up the part at Biowheels bike shop during the day and install it the next. 

It’s a good life.  If it goes well, maybe we’ll hire Coco full-time and buy a motor home for CX season.  Coco still hasn’t shared the secret of how he keeps bike grease off his cool salsa shirt.  We still haven’t won the lottery, but we can dream.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Child’s Play: Nephew’s Huck at Ray's Caught on Video

The dump truck, the fire truck, all of them, on a triple top-tube spray painted black Schwinn with BMX tires I sailed over 27 Tonka trucks.  Hmmm.  That sounds like a lot.  Maybe it was 19, or 11.  Regardless, 30 some years later, I can see the wood jump at the edge of my childhood driveway.  We’d approach downhill from the street, cut-in to the driveway, hit the lip of the 8-12 inch scrap 2x4 and plywood jump along the curb, fly over every kid in the neighborhood’s Tonkas, and land in the front lawn beneath the sugar maple.  I remember a friend’s endo sending him sliding barebacked onto the freshly paved road.  His mom must’ve had to pick stones and tar out of his wounds, total Jackass.  With yesterday’s video text shot by my sister in law at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Milwaukee, my nephew entered the age of bike stunts.

In my days before cars, our days before Jackass, we jumped fire pits and creeks and circumnavigated our hometowns with a boombox strapped to the rack.  None of it captured on video.  I don’t think any of our parents could afford a video camera and we wouldn’t even dare to take the expensive family still camera on a jaunt through the neighborhood trails.  That was for vacations.  Taking it out of the house tempted a serious grounding.  Without cell phones, at dinner time my Dad would hollar down the street repeating himself to the East and West loud enough to be heard three blocks away, “Joe and Mike!!!  Time for Dinner!”  So, my childhood bike memories are that, memories.  My 8 year old nephew’s are now online.

My Childhood Trails Went Through Lime Kiln Park 
Yesterday, my sister in law texted a 10 second video of my nephew “Shady Brady” doing a BMX jump into the foam pit at Ray’s MTN bike park in Milwaukee.  Coincidently, they live in the same neighborhood I grew up in, in the same house that my wife grew up in, only now they have a video camera on their cell phone and a foam pit to save the road rash.  Some things have changed.  The twisted network of trails along the Menomonee River of my youth are home to Target and Home Depot.  Judging from this video, I’m sure that won’t stop Brady.  There’s still has to be a killer stuff down by the Lime Kiln Park or a 3 foot loading dock drop somewhere.  If not, they have a family membership to Ray’s.

8 years old, Brady, or as I like to call his BMX persona “Shady Brady,” doesn’t really know what road rash is yet or what it’s like to get up from a fall in the trails to find a stick sticking out of your leg.  He’s 8, still under adult supervision in the childhood protection plan.  His Dad, like most Wisconsin Dads has a corral of ATV’s and snowmobiles.  As a consequence, and conversely to my experience, under Dad’s eye, Shady Brady learned how to ride before he could pedal.  Compared to the speed and snarl of the motors on Wisconsin fire roads, hucking a four-footer inside of an old Menards hardware store is nothing to him. 

Trying to be the good Uncle, or as good of an Uncle that I can be working at a radio station from 400 miles away, I put my computer media skills to work and made him his first “pro” video.  With a screaming announcer, X-games music and a cheering crowd, he’ll have a memory as blown out of proportion as my Tonka jump.  My sister in law said he watched it 30 times within the hour I sent it.  I hate to say it, but his airtime makes my exaggerated Tonka truck jump look like child’s play.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Douchyness Drops Cancellara On Cycling God Totem

Pre-2011 Roubaix Cycling God Totem
After holding the 3rd spot on the podium of my Cycling God Totem Pole for years behind Marco and Top-God Eddy, Fabian Cancellera fell to 5th position.  He’s now behind Hinault and Lance, not because of his self proclaimed losses at Paris Roubaix and Flanders but, because he grew a dick nose after Flanders and it got bigger after Roubaix. 

Douchexhibit 1: The post Flanders doucheness I read in Cycling News: “Congratulations to Nuyens, but for me [winning] like that has no value.”

Wha-huh?  Did my cycling god just kick me in the nuts?  It certainly feels that way.  Winning like that has no value?  Did Nuyens cut the course, use a motor or grab onto the team car a little too long while getting a can of Coke?

I prefer my cycling gods to look inward in the face of defeat and not spoil someone else's moment with a tirade of excuses like an amateur.  If only I wore sunscreen.  I was boxed in.  They all raced against me.  I expect that from a newbie, but Cancellara stealing the steam out of Nuyens win was as out-of-line as Kanye West taking the microphone from Taylor Swift.  I personally know hundreds of cyclists that would love to win like the way Nuyens won Flanders.  Most of them would love to win a pair of Ace of Spade socks in a Cat 5 race in Nowheresburg, OH like that.  I’ll never forget the day I finished 18th in a UCI Cyclocross race, 8 long minutes behind Jeremy Powers.  Despite the thumping, I felt honored to even compete on that level, to even be on the same starting grid.  That comment shows no respect for the sport, the competitors and the millions of fat Cat 3 guys like me who’d have to go to the hospital for the loss in blood pressure caused by the giant wood they’d be sporting just to roll one wheel over a meter of Belgian cobblestone. 

Pre-douchness 2010 Tour of Cali
Douchexhibit 2: Yesterday after Roubaix: Everybody raced against me. The victory was not possible. This second place is like the victory to me. Today, I lost, but the others lost a bit more than me.

Douche say what?  "I" lost?  Victory not possible?  Others lost a bit more than me?  Seems to me that Garmin won and Thor didn’t lose.  They're probably still on the bus shouting “woo hoo” in 8 different languages including Norwegian.  Last time I checked 6th, 8th, 9th and being only: 47 back at Roubaix is a pretty great accomplishment.  Just ask Hincapie.  Here’s the list of the top 10 from Velonews.  Tell me, who lost Roubaix?
  1   1. Johan Van Summeren (B), Garmin-Cervélo, 6:0:7:28
·         2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Leopard-Trek, at 0:19
·         3. Maarten Tjallingii (Nl), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:19
·         4. Grégory Rast (Swi), Team Radioshack, at 0:19
·         5. Lars Ytting Bak (Den), HTC-Highroad, at 0:21
·         6. Alessandro Ballan (I), BMC Racing Team, at 0:36
·         7. Bernhard Eisel (A), HTC-Highroad, at 0:47
·         8. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:47
·         9. Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Sp), Team Sky, at 0:47
·         10. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Team Sky, at 0:47

Cancellara Demoted to 5th on God Totem
Leopard didn’t have a man in the break and failed to reel in a giant well represented breakaway that had 2+ minutes on the peloton going into the Arenberg.  Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty certain there were some Leopard teammates in the race.  Come to think of it, I didn’t see any.  Did you?  After looking at the results, it appears eight Leopard-Trek riders started the race.  Fabian finished 2nd.  The next best placed teammate Martin Mortensen finished 13:53 back in 94th.  The six others, including semi-favorites O’Grady and Weylandt are listed as DNF.  Maybe that’s why victory for Douchelara wasn’t possible and he felt as if everybody was racing against him.  They were.  He was the only Leopard-Trek guy left. 

Personally I loved watching both Flanders and Roubaix.  I dug my nails into the couch.  I covered my eyes.  I shouted “get on his wheel and go-go-go!”  Even though I had to revise my totem, it’s nice to be reminded that cycling is still a team sport and there are no favorites at Roubaix.  Lastly I don't care if my cycling gods win.  I prefer them to be heroic with a hint of humility.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Going Out For Lunch in Cincinnati's Eden Park

Magnolias near Krohn Conservatory
I want to run

Snap photos in the park

Jump jack by the fountain

Revisit an old face

Daily Dare Devil
See something new

Clop up stone stairs

Breeze past the wall scaler

And hear a familiar wind whisper my ear

Carved Stone Pillar
Hesitate at the point

See a Magnolia in bloom

Snag the water bottle from my car

And drink it from the open tailgate

My Favorite Public Steps
So I abandon writing

Click close the windows

Open the double glass doors

And run in Eden Park

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Amazing Race Phil Keoghan's "The Ride" Movie Coming to Cinti (maybe I'm in it)

After meeting Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan on a few occasions, long enough to put the star struck jitters aside, his real talent is not bike riding or hosting a reality game show (both of which he's amazing at by the way).  Whether it's joy or pain, Phil possesses a remarkable ability to open people up, dig at their heart and bring it all out for the world to see.  The fact that he's found a way to use that talent with travel and cycling, and not competing with Oprah, is even more impressive.  If the trailer for "The Ride," a movie based on his "Ride Across America" to benefit the National MS Foundation, is any indication of how it will be received, I certainly expect to bring a hanky and leave the theater wow'd by the adventure, moved by the story and hopefully laughing that I was in it.  The movie is being screened in Cincinnati at the Regal Cinemas in Deerfield on Monday, May 2nd.  According to the No Opportunity Wasted website, Phil will be there too!

I rode the Columbus, Ohio leg back in April of 2009.  For a good stretch Phil and I were alone behind the motorbike.  Occasionally I could muster the strength to come out of the draft and pull up side-by-side to chat.  Late in the ride, it came up that one of my friends has MS, and if it wasn't for the rain...a tear certainly would've made me turn around sooner than expected.  Below is the story of my amazing ride with Phil, originally posted April 30th, 2009.        

“Take it up to 22,” I overheard Amazing Race TV Show Host Phil Keoghan say to the driver of the BMW motorcycle.  While I’ve been in some really fast races, I had never been motorpaced before.  It was a rush.  We left the GNC on Polaris Pkwy. in Columbus OH with about a group of 20.  Some were local GNC employees and MS Foundation volunteers who had only enough legs to hang for the first 5 to 10 miles of the 108 mile leg to Dennison, OH.  Others hung on to the increasing pace a little longer or decided to turn around.  Since most didn’t have arrangements for a ride back, myself included, and Phil’s people don’t provide transportation back to the start city, most picked a place en-route to pull even and shake hands with Phil and turn around for a solo slog back to Columbus.  It was either that or do 216 miles in a day.  I don’t think so.

I had met Phil about a year ago, at my real job, on a radio station promotional tour for The Amazing Race.  I write and produce commercials for those dying to know my glamorous occupation.  His first reaction was, “you look a lot like Lance and you ride bikes?”  I do get that a lot.  Believe me the slight resemblance ends where the helmet straps hit the cheek bones.  I guess my eyes are a little beady like Lance’s.  He did remember me on Wednesday and kept calling me Lance on the ride.  I chuckled. 

When I first saw Phil that morning in Columbus, I have to say, he looked thin and sort of wiped out.  My face has looked like that from time to time.  32 days of back to back centuries, glad handing, and promotional stops is bound to take its toll on the body and mind.  Just the day before, he wrecked on a set of rain slicked railroad checks leaving him with road rash on his knee and hip.  Part of the wreck can be viewed on the movie trailer link here.He took a little nick out of his cheek too.  You can see the bandage in the photo.  Soft spoken with the Aussie lilt, he was gracious enough for photos, book signings and autographs, but you could tell he really wanted to get on with the ride and more importantly a midday nap.  After check presentations from GNC and the local MS group, he announced to the crowd that he was going to put on and I quote, “Belgian Butt Butter,” and by 10-10:30am, we were on our way.  

The ride itself started out like most group rides do on the way out of town.  Phil chatted with riders who worked their way up to his side and the pace was easy for the first 5 miles or so down Polaris Pkwy.  The casual riders fell off the pace or decided to turn around.  As we turned onto OH-3, the pace ratcheted up again.  I didn’t have a computer on my bike, but I guess it went up to about 18-20mph.  A group of about 10 or so hung strong till we pulled over for Phil’s crew to check their route on GPS while the rest of us took the opportunity for a natural break.  At this point, some riders said they would be turning around in a few miles; there were one or two that still intended on doing the entire 108 mile leg to Dennison with Phil.  Since I didn’t even have a map or know the route, I told someone that I thought I’d go about 50, before I would turn around and head back to my truck in Columbus.  We mounted up and were on our way.

As the road became more rural, I heard Phil tell the motorpace driver, “Take it up to 22.” We had a slight cross wind, but luckily I had Phil’s wheel.  We were starting to haul.  The conversations among riders ceased.  I quickly understood that this is how you ride across America when you’re on a deadline.  This is also how you systematically and kindly keep riders from getting in over their head while trying to follow you across America.  Somewhere I Iooked back and realized that I was the only rider left on the train.  We hauled on.   I nearly popped at least once when the motorcycle didn't ease up on a riser.  I’m sure at points we were running 23-25 mph now.  I was just trying to keep track of the turns, so I could find my way back to my car whenever it was time to turn around.

Earlier, I had heard Phil say that he really needed a nap and that he had hoped to grab some winks around lunchtime.  That made me wonder.  Was Phil trying to drop me?  He put my stewing thoughts at ease when he asked me to pull along side and ribbed me on camera about how I kind of look like Lance.  It was just the two of us now.  I think I had gained his respect as a strong rider and truthfully I think he welcomed the company and conversation.

We rocketed through some sweet country.  The rural farm roads we were on, sandwiched between OH-3 and OH-62 were freshly paved.  Smooth, twisty and rolling, this is what I came for.  We stopped twice along the way for them to check the GPS and confirm lunch plans with the people towing the Airstream which stuck to the bigger roads.  I tried to recall the way back.  Right at the cement factory, left on Johnstown, right at the new yellow house on the farm road, a slight chicane and back to Route 3.  The sky was starting to look a little grey.  My legs were starting to feel the pace. I had two swigs of Gatorade left in my bottles. I told Phil that I’d turn around at the next convenient store.

“Join us for lunch,” he said, “we just have another 12 miles.”  Sure I could do that, I thought. I can’t pass up lunch with the host of the Amazing Race.  At this pace it’d be just another half hour or so.  I could tell Phil was getting tired.  He lost the motorcycle's wheel up a gradual climb.  Not to be a chest thumper, I could tell Phil was running out of gas.  Then, somewhere within the next 5 miles, it started misting, then lightly raining.  It wasn’t so bad, but the spray from the motorcycle was hitting my feet.  My jacket was feeling damp on my arms.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the rain with wet feet and a 50 mile solo ride back home.  About 45 miles in, probably 15-20 minutes from lunch and just a few miles east of Martinsburg, OH, I pulled even with Phil and told him that I was going to turn around.

Sitting backwards on the passenger seat of the motorcycle, the camera guy lifted the camera to his shoulder.  Phil and I said our goodbyes and shook hands.  I signaled a turn around with my finger in the air and we parted ways.  With renewed energy from the adventure, through patches of rain and sun I absolutely killed the 45 miles back to Columbus.  What a great day on the bike.  But, man climbing the stairs at work hurt the next morning.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Perpetual Headwind: A Not-So Scientific Explanation

Headwind? I say vacuum.
Attn: Scientific Research Department at The Best Bike Blog Ever
Upon my recent excursions on the road I am again left to ponder the physics of "The Perpetual Head Wind."  You leave in a head wind. Turn every direction into a headwind and when you are officially bonked & toasted like a forgotten marshmallow over a campfire you turn for home into a small gust that feels like a revisit of Hurricane Ike.

It seems like every cyclist has experienced a ride like this. I humbly apologize if I have missed this post. If not, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. :o)

White Bar Tape Forever,

Artist Rendering: Perpetual Headwind in Ohio River Valley
Dear JH,
We were among the church congregation at the Sisters of the Merciless Wind this past Sunday in Cincinnati.  Cincinnati is a very unfortunate place to ride when it’s windy.  There are four major river valleys in the area: The Great Miami, The Little Miami, The Licking and of course The Ohio River.  Route 8 which winds its way along the Ohio River is a perfect example of the phenomenon known as The Perpetual Headwind.  You’re in a headwind going west, east, uphill and then, expecting to be able to coast, you’re demoralized by the diabolical downhill headwind. 

The scientists at The Best Bike Blog Ever’s Scientific Research Department, who coincidently didn’t make the cut at Consumer Reports, have come up with an explanation for The Perpetual Headwind.  They think it has everything to do with Dyson Vacuum Cleaner’s patented cyclone technology, or something as freaky as an Englishman who spends too much time with vacuum cleaners. 

It's Science Dammit!
To help explain the theory, our idiots created a mock Ohio River Valley.  They took 2 patented wind wafers and meticulously adhered them to a thermoplastic flat surface.  You can do this at home or in your office with two Post-It-Notes and a CD jewel case.  Picture the post it notes as the ridges of the Ohio Valley and the CD jewel case as the river.  If you blow a westerly wind down the center, what do you think will happen to the ridgelines? 

They’ll blow to the outside of course!  No…no they don’t.  They blow inwards.  How can that be?

Sort of Freaky Isn't It?
You see, when wind blows down a valley, it creates a Dyson Vacuum effect.  The vacuum draws wind from around the other side of the ridges to fill the void in the valley.  What you think is a westerly wind on Route 8, turns into a headwind no matter which way you turn.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Best Bike Blog Ever official puts the mystery of “The Perpetual Head Wind” to bed.  Good night.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

And Now You May Race The Bride

(Note: This story about a competitive couple is one of my favorites.  It dates back a few years to when this blog was on AOL.  So, chances are you haven't read it before.  I bring it back because the April 1st post is dated.  Enjoy!)

It was as if they started their lives together with the words, “with this ring, I thee race.”  I can imagine their first kiss, seemingly endless, with both parties taking it way past the point of public comfortableness to see who could endure the longest as the guests covered the eyes of their children.  It was game on from day one.  As I watched them from my perch along the trail above them, I wondered who drank more at the reception, who opened the most gifts the day after, and if I was witnessing their honeymoon right now. 

My first experience with Mr. & Mrs. Race was at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.  The cover shot of the Rand McNally road atlas spread across the sky, the Delicate Arch.  To get there, my wife and I rode our mountain bikes from the lot nearest the entry off the highway.  It was our first two week vacation together, plenty of time to mountain bike Moab, ride the trails around the 10-Mile Range near Vail, and then head to northern Wisconsin for the Chequamegon 40 mountain bike race.  It was a dream vacation for a pair of daytime amateur adventurers. 

There’s no bikes allowed on the trail to the Delicate Arch.  So, we leaned our bikes against a sign post and hiked the shortish trail to the vista point in our cycling shoes.  Just up the trail was another couple, a little older than us maybe in their mid 30’s, and the spunk they had in their steps was a tish more than most people on the trail had, given the tendency of the epic landscape panorama to make you stop and eek out a  silent wow.   As we paused to take in another view along the trail, we noticed something peculiar about the other couple up the trail.  Maybe we spend too much time watching Seinfeld, but as they crossed into our view, they were hiking, quickly, almost at the point of stepping into a jog, but never quite crossing the line.  It was almost hard to look at, like their tempo was ruining the landscape.

Sure they could’ve been Moab locals out for an everyday hike in their backyard, but still, this was the Delicate Arch.  Like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, you could probably see it hundreds of times and, every time it would look different and stun you with another eye popper.  Still, they held their uncomfortable clip along the trail.  Long stretching steps, pumping arms, they overlapped their strides and covered more ground with every step than seemed possible.  My wife asked, “Are they racing?”  I looked.  The woman passed the guy when he got hung up on a corner of loose rocks.  Not to be outdone, the guy quickly passed her back, even turning sideways to get around on the tight trail.  “I dunno, maybe they’re just locals out training for an adventure race or something. There’s some pro athletes that live out here.”  We wrote it off. 

When we reached the Arch, dropped out bags and dug out our camera, amazingly, Mr. & Mrs. Race did too.  Granted they had a tiny lightweight camera to match their pace, but still they obviously were photo snapping snacking tourists just like us.  Now granted, at the time, we were nothing resembling fast hikers, just your average couple that enjoyed doing stuff in the outdoors.  Maybe we we’re just slow in our bike shoes and witnessing a couple with a few years on us sticking it to the lesser fit.  We downed a Snickers and a not-so-yellow banana, asked a woman from a bus tour to take our picture in front of the arch, and we were off.

Sure enough, the fast hiking couple was already on their way back, once again, just a hundred yards or so down the trail.  And, they were at it again, a fraction of a mile per hour from running, but still hiking.  It was almost hard to ignore now.  I had to force myself to look away and enjoy probably the only day in my life I would ever see this landscape.  My wife said, “It’s like they’re the competitive couple.”  We joked, notched up our pace and mocked them by passing each other as we giggled along the trail.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Top 10 April 1st Cycling Headlines

Hipsters Beware
Hipster Killed Locking Bike To Top of Electric Fence

Shotgun Out: Ohio Valley CX Gun Club Race To Get Rocket Propelled Grenade Start

Jimmy Carter Wins Nobel Peace Prize For Ending Cyclocross Air Pressure Debate

Cobble Gripping Suction Cup Tires To Debut at Tour of Flanders

Pure CO2 Inflation
Topeak Unveils New CO2 Tire Pump: “You Blow”

Mr. Katie Compton Changing Name to Mark Fucking Legg Compton

Border Patrol Agents Seize 47 Pounds of Weed In Frame of Downhill Mountain Bike

Tire Scab: Stan’s Revolutionary Bio-Tubeless System Uses Animal Cells To Self Heal Punctures
Model of Cobble Sector 14

Worried About Hip Fracture Hincapie Training For Paris Roubaix on Nerf Cobblestones

Weight Weenie In Hospital After Failed Test of Nylon Helmet Stuffed With Packing Peanuts