Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Another year is coming to a close in the Kittitas valley. Winter has been with us since the middle of November making outdoor rides tough unless you have a set of studded tires on your bike.

As you bring the year to a close think about what you accomplished on your bike (bikes) this year. What were the best and worst parts? What could you have done better? What can you do to change your training in 2011?

The hardest thing this time of year is to control your diet so you don't gain too much off season weight. I struggle with that, especially during the holidays. Get your cross training work outs in or jump on the indoor trainer. Join a gym or go to the spinning classes at the bike shop on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:00.

Most of all I hope you have a joyous Christmas season and a happy New Year and I'll see you somewhere on the road or trails in 2011.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanks and some ramblings

We just had the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. and I've been disheartened by the inability to ride the past week and a half or so because of wind chill factor or snow and ice covered roads. Cycling becomes such an integral part of the psyche in staying fit and having a positive mental attitude that missing a couple of weeks you start getting down. Sure there are indoor training sessions, skiing, running, swimming, etc. but it just doesn't replace the joy of traveling the roads under your own power.

Even with this 'oh, whoa is me', feeling there are still things to be thankful for:

1) A great local bike shop that provides excellent customer service and timely repairs
2) A cycling community that respects each other and enjoys the diversity our county has to offer
3) Those willing to teach others new skills when it comes to a bike
4) Living in this fine country where a hobby such as collecting old bicycles is relatively easy
5) The Internet for providing immeasurable resources for that old bicycle hobby
6) Courteous drivers (for the most part) in our county that help make cycling such an enjoyable activity
7) The hopes of dropping more weight to make hill climbing easier.
8) An awesome family that allows me to ride as much as I can

During this early season of winter I've also had time to ponder some things about professional cycling:

  1. If Nascar has the "silly season" where teams undergo big off season personnel changes (drivers and team members) than what the heck is it called in the cycling world. The sheer number of team changes (riders and sponsors) is incredible.
  2. The politics of the sport is ridiculous. Alberto Contador tests positive for a banned substance and blames it on beef - yeah, right. Instead of the UCI coming down on him or being the primary sanctioning body it goes back to Spain's governing body for cycling. Now, that's an impartial group.
  3. The US Postal/Lance Armstrong doping investigation is picking up steam. Did Lance dope - probably. Do I care - no, he never tested positive. That's one thing Contador can never say.
  4. I thoroughly enjoy reading about guys like Levi Leipheimer jumping on a mountain bike and dominating a race. That just shows how incredible their athletic ability is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A visitor's viewpoint

We have the luxury of riding in our beautiful county and taking it for granted. Sometimes we don't see how special and diverse our county scenery is. I, for one, spend a lot of time "hammering" out training rides and not focusing on anything other than my heart rate, the length and number of intervals and what music is playing on the MP3 player.

I rode up in the Naneum State Forest with a couple friends this past summer and one of them called me a couple of days later inquiring about some wild flowers he had seen and what their name might be. I had to sheepishly admit I didn't even notice them.

Luckily, the O'Neill's from Winston, OR did pay attention. Richard writes a hiking column for the local newspaper and had forwarded some of their photos from the Manastash Metric ride to the RSVP organization. I asked Richard if he would be willing to provide an account of their visit by bicycle to our fair county. He agreed and below is his story:

Because my wife has relatives in Spokane, we have spent many an monotonous day driving up Highway 395 and I-90. On occasion, just to break up the routine, we've taken scenic Highway 97 through Yakima. Just north of Yakima, the highway crests Umantum Ridge and provides a breathtaking view of beautiful Kittitas Valley. Intrigued, we've always wanted to stop and explore the area instead of continuing on to Spokane and the dreaded in-laws that Dollie refers to as "my family". When we learned there was a bicycle ride in the area, we immediately signed up for the Manastash Metric Century Ride.

The Manastash was touted as the "drier ride" but we wryly noted that there was no false claim of it being the "warmer ride". The ride started out in a frosty 44 degrees while a thick layer of fog blanketed the valley. Naturally, extra layers of clothing were donned and blinking taillights were hung on the rear of the bikes. Windshield wipers were needed as the fog condensed on my glasses and some harrumphing began about so-called drier rides. I've been accused many times of being in a fog but this time the assertion was quite literal. The good news was that the fog was short lived as it began to burn off within an hour and the harrumphing dissipated in direct proportion to the increasing sunlight. Once we could see, we found ourselves in farmlands on the southern edge of the valley. The route followed the Thorp Road, the sleepy town of Thorp was encountered at the 10 mile mark. Not much happens in Thorp in the early morning...or day...or evening, for that matter.

The first rest stop was at the historic Thorp Mill which actually had a skating rink back in the day; the thought of all that ice suddenly reminding me of my ex-wife. The next rest stop was a mere 7 miles away and I couldn't think of a good reason why these two stops were spaced so close to each other. The why of it became abundantly clear as a we had the "best" of two cycling challenges: wind and hills. Ugh, it took a seemingly long time to negotiate those paltry 7 miles up and over Thorp Prairie. There was lots of grumbling and muttering from wives and other cycling comrades. After the attaining the flat summit of Thorp Prairie with its alien landscape of metal windmills, it was a short descent past canals to the second rest stop and we were grateful for its nearness to the Thorp Mill rest stop.

It was interesting to observe the changing geography and vegetation during the ride. We started in farmlands which morphed into the windblown sagebrush desert steppes typical of central Washington. With our route crossing I-90 and hugging the northwest rim of the Kittitas Valley, pine trees and mountains began to appear above and around the farms. It was much like the Cascades. We had a nice view of Stuart Mountain and its namesake range in the magnificent North Cascades and the road was blessedly level all the way into the small town of Cle Elum.

After a light lunch in a Cle Elum church, the road followed the Yakima River and we sort of enjoyed the views of the river horseshoeing down below. I say sort of, because we were at the same time engaged in pedaling up Hayward Hill, a long slog which transitioned us from the forests back to the windblown desert. It was at this point my training regimen began to kick in. Wait a minute, I don't have a training regimen! I customarily just get on the bike, cycle 45 miles, and whine and snivel for the remaining 20 miles. I really should train a bit more! Just as we were beginning to tire, the exhilarating descent off Hayward Hill brought us to another strategically placed rest stop.

At the rest stop, some of our cycling compatriots mentioned Hungry Junction hill. Something about the low voices, hushed tones, and genuine haunt in their eyes made it seem like Hungry Junction hill was to be respected and feared. But mostly feared.

So unbelievably cruel to encounter Hungry Junction hill just 7 miles from the end of the ride. The hill was short, but very steep. We geared down and charged up, determined to keep our feet on the ground. Dollie was the first to crack, hopping off the bike about three-quarters of the way up. I was doing fine until the very end when...CRAMP! I hopped off the bike quickly lest the right leg mimic the left leg and double my troubles. It was brief stiff-legged walk up the rest of the hill. Hungry Junction owes me; we have unfinished business, Hungry Junction hill and I.

The remaining portion of the ride to Rotary Park was probably the best riding of the day, the road was smooth and canted slightly downhill; and with the wind at our backs, the bikes just glided effortlessly along on the surface. There is such a supreme sense of accomplishment at the finish and applause from a welcoming committee only hammered that point home. Plus, we got a shirt and some great barbequed burgers. In the end, we enjoyed our trip to Ellensburg and we'll be back. You hear that, Hungry Junction hill?

The O'Neill's photos can be viewed at:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Falling again - vintage bikes

I've documented over the past couple of years about my foray into what are called C&V bikes or classic and vintage. My bikes are typically more classic than vintage. Although, I do have two French ones that are from the late 1960's. It's funny, though, because even though they are more than 40 years old I don't see them as "old".

I have had several people ask me how I find these bikes. It can be a mix of Craigslist, garage sales and Bike Forums contacts (obtained two bikes via this latter route). So, I figured it was time to document the lucky process of obtaining my latest ride. I am always looking at bikes, but not usually with the intent to buy. I like to see what is on the market and what the market prices are. Frankly, I've got enough bikes ... well, sort of.

In August, 2010 I noticed a road bike with a Selle San Marco Concor saddle sitting outside a pawn shop in Yakima, WA. I've always wanted to try that saddle out on one of my bikes and the original versions on Ebay easily sell for over $50 if in good shape. I pulled into the parking lot to take a further look.

It turns out the bike was a Trek, and an old one at that. The metallic gray paint was something used prior to 1984. The thing was a true "Frankenbike" with a mix of Shimano, Suntour, Rigida and Campagnolo parts - Japan, France and Italy represented. Both tires were flat and in poor condition. The nice Sakae Road Champion handlebars had been cut and flipped to make pseudo bullhorn bars by someone who thought they were kind of hipster. The chain was obviously too short for the 14-32 mega range 6 speed freewheel. But, no matter - it was still an interesting bike.

I walked back to my car with the serial number from the bottom bracket and pulled up the Vintage Trek website. The serial number decoded to a 1981 Trek 510 22"/56 cm frame. A little tall for my height but still a decent, light bike. The tubing was Ishiwata 022 which is comparable to Columbus SL or Tange #2: decent and lightweight.

The price listed on the bike was $89.99. I walked away. Heck, I didn't need a new bike.

Six weeks later the bike was still sitting outside the pawn shop so I stopped again. Now the price was down to $70. Shoot, this was getting a little more interesting. The bike had sat out in a few rainstorms and the nasty look to the saddle had cleaned up quite a bit. I talked to a clerk inside about trading a .22 revolver for the bike but they didn't want the revolver. The clerk said she'd let the bike go for $60 plus tax. I walked away.

In the meantime, I sold a re-issued version of the Selle Italia saddle to a guy in the Seattle area via Craigslist. I had only had the saddle for 6 months but never got comfortable on it versus the original ones that I have on two bikes so it was expendable.

After selling the saddle I decided to go by the pawn shop again. If the bike was still there I had the $60 in hand to buy it since I was obviously meant to have it. I pulled into the lot and scanned all the bikes. Sure enough, it was still there but there was a white piece of paper hanging on the bikes. I sauntered over to take a look - 50% off all bikes. Ok, I really was meant to have this bike.

I promptly walked inside and found a clerk who came out, unlocked the bike from the others and then we went back inside so I could pay. Total with tax was a little over $37. I couldn't be more happy because that was less than what I sold the reissued Turbo saddle for. I essentially sold a bike seat and bought a complete bike!!!

Now time for some photos:

This is how I first saw the bike at the pawn shop - not very pretty

After getting it home and cleaning it up a little
(with donor wheels)

The bike was picked up on a Friday and by Sunday afternoon I had installed a set of drop handlebars, aero brake levers (used from the bike shop for $20) and new brake cable. Courtesy of another rider here in the valley I put a set of Mavic GP4 tubular wheels with brand new Servizio Course sew up tires from on it. Further clean up, degreasing and setting up the fit and it was ready for some minor riding on the road to ensure the tires were centered on the rim.

Here's the bike - cleaned up and just needing clipless pedals and bar tape
Notice the very long chainstays and wheelbase = comfy ride

Cleaned and polished brake calipers

The Concor saddle - it's actually quite comfortable

The classic early 80's Trek headbadge

After a couple of days I couldn't wait any longer and I installed some clipless Shimano SPD pedals on the bike and road it with my mountain bike shoes. On Saturday the black Look Delta pedals I had purchased from another BikeForums member showed up and they immediately went on the bike.

I have had it out twice now and really like the smooth ride. The bike was sold as a sport tourer. It's got a long wheelbase so it goes over bumps more smoothly but doesn't necessarily handle corners as quickly as my three other race oriented frames. I'll train on it next year but also plan on doing some light touring with the bike for overnight camping trips. Trek provided a lot of flexibility with this frame.

Does it always work out this successfully - absolutely not. But, the thrill of the hunt for a good, reasonably priced (preferrably cheap) bike is what makes it all so much fun. I guess I now understand the thrill my wife has in shopping clearance racks for good deals.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taking a little time

It's fall again. Time to stop and think about how our cycling year went. Did you accomplish what you wanted as far as total miles, group rides, racing, long distance rides, tours, etc.? Did your fitness improve over the year? Are you burned out and looking for a break?

I used to hear people say cycling was a cumulative sport and thought they were crazy. But, after three and half solid years back on the bike consistently I have to say I believe it. Over the course of three summers my average speed has gone up by 4 mph. The biggest gains are from the first year to second as I had a lot of catching up to do in the aerobic fitness arena. I was strong from weightlifting but the lung capacity left something to be desired.

After last year I was convinced I had peaked in my speed and power. But this year, with focused and intense training, I saw the average speed continue to increase - only about 1 mph. It can be done but it takes alot of dedication and focus. My wife would probably say I'm too focused on cycling but you almost have to be.

A couple of weeks ago I took a week off the bike (well I snuck one mid-week 15 mile ride in). Mentally it was extremely hard because the weather was fantastic but I knew it was best. My weightlifting days taught me a lot about overtraining and the plateaus that can happen if you train too much without rest. As I've gotten older I have realized my body just doesn't recover like it used to. So, after three hard days of riding I'll take one day off. Before big rides I'll take two complete days off.

What I haven't done is focus on some massage therapy for the legs. That's one of the things on the schedule for next season to see if that actually helps the legs and the mind recover a little better.

Now is the time to set your goals for 2011. Mix in short term with long term goals. For example, my overall goal this year was to get 3000 miles in on the bike. I'll hit that goal as I'm at 2900 right now. For me that's quite an accomplishment as I'm limited to about an hour and fifteen minutes a day to ride.

My 2010 goals looked something like this:

1) Begin road rides in February/March depending on weather to build base miles
2) By April start hill climbing work once a week
3) By May hill climb work should be up to 2 or 3 times a week to prep for the I Made the Grade hill climb in June.
4) June through September would see more interval training, some time trialing type work and a few longer distance rides to prepare for the Manastash Metric
5) October and November - three hard rides a week, one slower ride and weight training 2-3 days a week.

Enjoy the "off season" but also start planning for 2011 and write down what you want to accomplish.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A great Manastash Metric

Saturday October 2nd saw another wonderfully successfully edition of the Manastash Metric/Half-Metric Century ride here in Kittitas County. The RSVP folks that sponsor this event have done a great job in creating an event that provides great comradery, food and fun with a course that can be challenging and beautiful at the same time.

The day started about 10 degrees warmer than 2009 but with a fairly thick blanket of fog. This delayed many riders from leaving as early as 7:30 am. By 8:30 when I started the ride there were many more riders showing up and checking in.

The fog lasted until the Ellensburg golf course on the S. Thorp highway and from then on it was beautiful fall weather. A small headwind welcomed riders to Elk Heights and then the trees helped make the wind less annoying. Most riders probably expected a tailwind from Cle Elum to Ellensburg and it seems that failed to materialize.

The barbecue after the ride was a great addition and the food definitely was welcome. By 11:30 the temperatures were in the high-60 degree range and heading upward.

Of course, what would a ride be without my focusing on some C&V (classic and vintage) rides. I was riding a 1978 Peugeot PX-10 and my dad was on his mid-80's Vitus 979 aluminum frame bike. Below are a few photos of those other C&V bikes I saw before heading home.

This 1982 Bianchi was being ridden by it's original owner. It appears to have seen a lot of miles but, like a well maintained car, these bikes will treat it's owner well with some routine work.

I never did find the owner of this bike - I suspect it's a late 80's to early 90's model

Finally, this bike was beautiful. 1986 Univega Nuovo Sport mixte. But, what was even better was how excited the owner was to have climbed every hill without walking. On a beautiful day this accomplishment means even more and it was all made possible by the RSVP organization.

By the way, I think this bike got more comments than any other one on the ride

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time to transition

Here we are at the tail end of September and fall is definitely in the air. Brisk morning temperatures followed by some warmer afternoons. Makes for a beautiful time of year here in the Kittitas Valley.

With the change in season comes the change in training plans. Indoor training will start up sometime in October at the bike shop, days will be shorter meaning rides will need to occur mid-day or on weekends. Cross training opportunities abound as does cyclocross for those interested in the fasted growing area of cycling.

Rifle season for hunters will start up in a couple of weeks so riding in the hills on a mountain bike will be limited.

Start planning now for your off season to ensure your 2011 cycling brings many rewards.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Manastash early registration ending

Early registration for the Manastash Metric Century ride is ending tomorrow, Friday, September 17. After that the entry fee will increase $10. Shirts are separate this year.

Print off your registration form at and then drop it off at the RSVP office at 707 N. Pearl to beat the deadline.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cycling withdrawals

Since the digital tv signal switch for over the air (free) television I have enjoyed watching Universal Sports as part of KNDO's broadcast. The station broadcast a great variety of non-traditional or main sports like swimming, track and field, gymnastics and, most importantly, cycling.

The cycling events included the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, world road championships, triathlon championships, cyclocross world championships and world indoor track cycling championships.

Sadly, KNDO decided to quit broadcasting Universal Sports in favor of the regional SWX - sports, weather and light news - out of Spokane. This is an unfortunate decision in my mind as the KNDO stations will not get as many viewers when losing a "major" station like Universal Sports.

Now I have complete withdrawals since I saw three days of the Tour of Spain and then the broadcast disappeared. In fact, maybe it's some minor depression in knowing the only way I can enjoy all that cycling is via the internet and after having tv for free the past 8 yrs I have a hard time thinking about paying $15 for the Tours of Spain and Italy live on the internet and $30 for the Tour de France.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Group ride start time change

Please note the group rides on Tuesday and Thursday evening will have a new start time of 5:00 pm starting on Tuesday, September 14th. This is to allow us a little more time to ride safely before it starts to get dark.

A new Facebook group

For those of you on Facebook, a group called Ellensburg Cycling has been created that you can join. The hope is it can be another way to connect the cycling community in Kittitas County.

There are many things that you can do including:

1) Commenting on your favorite ride/route
2) Look for someone to ride with
3) Show a photo of your bike
4) Let others know where hazards (dogs, cows, obnoxious drivers) are hiding out

As you can see the sky is the limit right now. Several of us have been talking about a cycling club for Kittitas county. This page on Facebook can be a good indicator if that's even feasible.

Search for Ellensburg Cycling and join the group.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cycling buries a great

Au revoir

Today in France the cycling world will bury Laurent Fignon. Fignon won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984. He also won the Giro d'Italia during his successful run as a professional cyclist. He is most known for losing the 1989 Tour de France to American Greg Lemond by 8 seconds in the final time trial into Paris. He was 50 years old and lost a battle with cancer.

I was a teenager when Fignon broke onto the scene. We had to depend on delayed and heavily edited CBS Sports broadcasts to get footage of the Tour de France. I was just starting to really enjoy cycling and was having a blast riding. My perception (especially 1989) of Fignon was of the brash, quiet and non-sociable person that the cycling media portrayed him as. I bought, and read, his autobiography early this summer and realized Fignon was not the man that the media portrayed. He had a genuine love for riding and could be quite relaxed and fun to be around. As I read the book I realized Fignon started riding for the same reason I do - the sheer fun of it. It wasn't serious for him at the beginning. But, it soon became that way because he had such phenomenal talent.

Like most stars this image was created by the media because he got tired of his words always being twisted around and decided he was better off not talking to the press. One wouldn't know that without hearing it from him.

My view of Fignon has definitely changed. I admire this man for what he was able to do in the cycling world, especially when he really started riding as a teenager. He was so good that he could show up to some of the early races, with little practice, and riding a less than professional race bike and ride away with a win.

Injuries took their toll on Fignon and his career and, in my mind, probably prevented him from winning one or two more Tour de France races. He won his early races on a Gitane racing bike. I don't have a "Team Pro" model but, rather, will ride one of my other Gitane's with a token race placard zip tied on the frame in his honor today.

Au revoir, Laurent. Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Up for the challenge

There are times I really hate having that little competitive voice in my head. For example, tonight was going to be an easy ride with the group after both mountain and road bike rides yesterday.

Do you think that happened? Heck, no. Seth takes off early in the group ride and, of course, I have to catch him. That hurt a little bit. After a couple of miles we get caught by a new rider, Robert. He keeps the tempo high (21 to 22 mph) out Lyons road. That stupid little voice in my head says "stay with him". That's easier said than done. Robert is a heck of an athlete - triathlete to be exact. Turns out he finished 4th two days before in an Olympic distance triathlon in Canada. During the entire ride it felt as if he was just toying with me. He could ride away at will and then held up and would chat for awhile.

My legs were heavy and burning the last 4-5 miles but I couldn't let any weakness show, even though I'm sure it did.

The benefit, though, is that intense workout will do so much for me in the form of conditioning and aerobic capacity. It was essentially a 25 mile time trial and I was completely gassed at the end.

So, to Francois and Robert, the two triathletes on our group rides this year - kudos. You guys are amazing athletes and serve as great motivation for the rest of us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What two 6 year olds can teach us

My two six year old girls are amazing human beings. They can bring back memories from my life in a heartbeat. They have also provided a glimpse into the real reason for riding a bike - freedom.

They recently learned how to ride their bikes and are going everywhere on them. I must hear "dad, I'm going to ride my bike" six times a day. Our recent camping trip saw Annika making repeated laps around the campground for three days (and sleeping very well at night as a result). The beautiful, carefree smile on her face every time she came by produced smiles from me. The girls have discovered what it's like to go farther and faster with the power coming from your own body.

I remember learning to ride a bicycle around 1973 on Excel St. in Spokane, WA. I don't recall the bike at all. I only remember being pushed around on the grass in the backyard to learn to balance and then being turned loose on the street in front of our house (and, yes, that was without a helmet. I don't think you could even find one then). The only thing I really recall vividly about learning to ride a bike was coming past my dad's 1960 Ford pickup and having a tire blow out on my bike. The loud noise surprised me to the point I almost crashed and probably had to check my pants.

Once I learned to ride my friends and I would spend afternoons riding around the neighborhood, laughing and enjoying ourselves. The best times were reserved for the little bike paths and jumps in the trees at Indian Trail Elementary School. That area seemed so large then and looks so small now.

My thoughts then move to my teenage years and exploring gravel roads, abandoned farm houses and seeing our friends while riding yellow Schwinn Continental 10 speed bikes. We went further, raced each other a little and enjoyed not being tied down at home all summer. We didn't need a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike for going off the paved roads. Those old Schwinn's were tanks and there wasn't much you could do to damage them.

The 80's were the college years and even more serious riding with other cyclists at Central Washington University. Again we were riding farther, faster and longer and enjoying the freedom of doing so. I was able to ride the Seattle to Portland ride in one day (192 miles) when I was 19 and participate in several 100K rides.

After college the riding came and went depending on where I lived. I rode a fair amount while living in eastern and central washington and did not ride at all while living on the west side of the state. Those are days I regret. I should have stayed consistent over the years.

I guess the point of all this is I have spent the last three plus years diving headlong into cycling again and being competitive with myself and others. How much bodyfat can I lose? Can I get down to 155 pounds and climb those hills faster? Can I do the same route faster the next time I ride it? Can I break the top 5 in a race? How quickly can I push myself to learn mountain biking skills so I can better my time in the race next year? It's all been competitive and intense. I track my mileage, speed, time, average speed and how I felt during each ride.

Watching my girls last week, though, caused me to pause and think. I don't need to ride that hard every time out. I can take a day to just enjoy the sights, smell the smells and listen to the sounds of nature. I finally took a casual ride last week on my 1982 Nishiki and stopped to take a couple of pictures along the way. It felt great!

So, thank you Annika and Victoria for providing me a little dose of reality into the real reason for riding a bike - Freedom.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Manastash Metric update

Just a quick update. I heard from RSVP - the organizers for the Manastash Metric Century - and they wanted to let everyone know there will be a free barbecue after the ride for all participants. Early registration ($10 discount) goes to September 17th.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What to read

I've had a couple of people ask me what I'm reading these days. Well, surprise, it's almost all cycling related. Below is a list:

Road Bike Action magazine - monthly subscription
Bicycling magazine - monthly subscription
Mountain Bike Action magazine - when I remember to buy it

The Story of the Tour de France - Part 1 & II - a synopsis of every race through 2007
Greg Lemond's Complete Book of Bicycling
Lance Armstrong - It's Not About the Bike
Laurent Fignon - We Were Young & Carefree - former Tour de France winner
Lemond - The Incredible Comeback of an American Her- by Samuel Abt
Sloane's Complete Book of Bicycling - great 80's maintenance book
Mountain Biking Skills - a compilation from Bicycling magazine

Still to read:

Sloane's Complete Book of Bicycling - updated version
Mountain Bike Maintenance
In Pursuit of the Yellow Jersey - by Samuel Abt (story of the controversial '98 Tour)
Champion: Bicycle Racing in the age of Indurain - by Samuel Abt

As you can tell I like reading about Samuel Abt. His stories are concise and have an interesting twist to them. There's one other I have read dealing with the end of Lemond's career and the rise of Lance Armstrong's before his cancer was diagnosed, but I can't find it right now. It must be on loan - I just can't remember with who.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't forget the Manastash Metric

We're well into July which means the first Saturday of October is just around the corner. That, of course, means you need to register the Manastash Metric Century ride here in Ellensburg. Last year there were over 170 riders (I hope that's correct) that enjoyed a beautiful fall Kittitas Valley ride.

The sag stops were well placed and staffed and I would like to think everyone had a great time.

You can visit the ride's website here and get the registration information.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chip seal 2010 - here's the roads

Here's a link to the county website and the list of roads involved in the chip seal program this year.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cross training

For years I have read of the benefits of efficient cross training. I even talked to other people about it. However, I never did pursue a personal variety in my own training. When living in eastern Washington I have primarily focused on road cycling with some weight training in the winter off season. When I lived in western Washington the focus was on bodybuilding.

Mountain biking this year turned things around. In fact, an article in a recent Bicycling Magazine was touting the benefits of cross training to avoid the summer boredom that often accompanies our sport. For road cyclists they suggested hitting the trails on a mountain bike and vice versa for the mountain bikers.

I shouldn't be shocked in the benefits I have seen in my summer cross training since the experts have been pushing it for years. But, shocked I am. It took years to overcome the mental drain and dread of riding in our persistent wind. Not anymore. If the wind is blowing hard I grab the mountain bike and head up into the hills where you are sheltered from it. The workouts can be as hard as you want them and, for me, they're typically harder than my road bike. It's an entire body workout and I feel fresh at the end of the workout versus relieved when you're done riding against the wind.

I have noticed my overall fitness increasing and my "personality" (this is how we refer to body fat in our house) decreasing. I have leaned up more the past 7-8 weeks than I have the prior 18 months. Much of that attributed to my new energy for riding - both on and off road.

To add another piece into the puzzle I decided to do a 5K run this past weekend for the first time since 1984.. Not only was I cycling but I was adding in a 2.5 to 3 mile run every couple of days, including a beastly hill climb run. While this created some new "pain" for my body it also shook up the metabolism and strengthened my new found zest for fitness.

It's too bad I was so stubborn to realize the benefits of mixing things up during the "season". I'm having a lot of fun and can only see pushing myself further as the intersection with 50 years of age approaches quickly.

Go out and find new activities to keep you busy and re-discover your love for life, fitness and cycling.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road update

Unfortunately I have little to report as far as the chip seal program in Kittitas County this summer. I emailed the Public Works department and have received no response. The list of roads to be sealed will be posted here as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Now I have to get serious

Or, maybe just plan on having more fun. Ever since participating in the 24 hour mountain bike race in Spokane I have been on the hunt for a decent mountain bike. I even sold the first road bike I purchased brand new, the 1997 Bianchi Trofeo.

Well, tonight the dream came true. Not only with the mountain bike purchase but also the fact that it's a Klein. For those who don't know much about Klein bicycles they were originally manufactured in Chehalis, WA. They pioneered the oversized aluminum frame tubing. They were purchased by Trek in the mid to late 1990's. Trek shut the line down a few years ago. Pre-Trek Kleins have quite a following.

I've always wanted a Klein and thought it would be a road bike. Oh well, this thing is awesome - and that's just from riding it around in a parking lot.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This valley is beautiful

Went for a ride yesterday (on my 1987 Trek "tank") in the Naneum State Forest and was reminded how beautiful this valley is and how lucky we are to have such a vast network of roads - both paved and gravel - to ride on.

Summer road projects

We're almost to summer (if the rain would go away) and that means road projects by Kittitas County, including their chip seal program. I checked the county's public works site this morning and there is nothing posted about a chip seal program yet. I am contacting the department to find out when information will be available.

There is some bridge work being done around the county. Check out the specifics on the Public Works Department website.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Great Group Ride

Group rides are continuing in the Ellensburg area on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm. We leave from the Recycle Bicycle Shop on Main Street. Please feel free to join us. Today's ride was approximately 22 miles with a 17.9 mph average. We have riders of all ability and you will almost always find someone who will ride with you.

Here's some photos from today's ride:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Glad we don't have to climb those hills

Watching today's stage of the Giro d'Italia today I was struck by the extreme fitness of these professional riders. Sure there are a lot of doping issues. While I don't like the doping I do completely get why it's done. In what other sport do athletes push themselves past the brink of exhaustion day after day for three weeks.

I like climbing hills but the steepest ones I've done around here hit 11% gradient or so. shows Hungry Junction Road as peaking at 19%. I don't think that's accurate. What is accurate is that hill is very steep, yet also very short.

In today's Giro stage the riders had to conquer to Category 1 climbs, with gradients often in the 8-10% range and averages in the 6-7% range, and one Category 2 climb. After that it was 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) that gained 4,000 feet of elevation. In comparison, the I Made the Grade ride in Clarkston WA climbs just about 2,000 feet in the same distance. The peak gradient on this climb today was 22% with a 6 kilometer stretch that average something like 15% - and the winner, Ivan Basso, did the vast majority of it sitting in the saddle! There is not a ride in the Tour de France that compares to the brutal nature of this one - they may be longer, but not as consistently steep.

The pros did change their cranksets to a compact double (probably 50-36 or 50-34) gearing up front and a cassette in the rear where the large ring was maybe 27, 28 or 29 teeth.

Hats off to Ivan Basso - I was very impressed today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Farrar gets another win

Today's stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia brought Wenatchee's Tyler Farrar his second win in the race this year. Farrar made a masterful move coming into and out of the last turn with 250 meters to go and blasted his way to an easy win. Let's hope there's a few more wins in the next couple of weeks. Farrar currently is wearing the red jersey of the points leader for the race.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mountain biking in the area

I am participating in the Round and Round 24hr mountain bike race on Memorial Day weekend and have borrowed my dad's Klein Pulse Comp mountain bike to get some work in offroad.

Going back to my youth I've never been interested in dirt riding. Initially it was the BMX scene - I never got it. Then in college the mountain bike thing was just starting to appear. Again, I had more fun on a road bike and just didn't have the interest in offroad riding.

After riding the past week and a half I'm afraid to admit I may be changing my outlook toward mountain biking. I live northeast of town and have ridden Schnebly Canyon (really rough, don't recommend it), Coleman Cr. Rd (fairly rough, but manageable - the waterfall through the rock cliff is pretty cool) and Naneum Canyon. This is by far the nicest road of the three and takes you back quite far into the Naneum State Forest.

I've yet to do any trail riding or anything really technical - I'm a rookie at this.

So, I'm going to have to start talking to more folks about mountain biking in the area to provide more information. I've heard the Taneum area has nice rides and there's always the Umptanum to Wenas (Selah) ride that you can find on If you see me around town and like mountain biking, help me out and give me some ideas to post here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A fun ride to do

If you're looking for a fun ride to do in June check out the 30th edition of the I Made The Grade in Clarkston WA. While it sounds imposing the event is well organized and the views at the end are spectacular. And, heck, $20 including a t-shirt is not a bad deal at all.

Giro d'Italia - bring it on

The 2010 version of the Giro d'Italia started on Saturday. If you get your television broadcast "over the air" with an antenna then tune to Universal Sports, channel 23-2 to catch daily broadcasts.

Congratulations to Wenatchee's Tyler Farrar in winning Stage 2 today in Holland in a sprint. Tyler is looking really strong this year and his Garmin-Transitions team had a great lead out for him to set up the sprint.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vintage projects galore

I was lucky to obtain a mid-1960's Gitane road bike frame this week and have started the clean up. There are very few bikes around this old and while it's not a top of the line bike it should work nicely as a town bike or on the indoor trainer during winter.

It's tempting to try and put it back together as originally spec'd but I'll need work on that later. The original Simplex Prestige rear derailleur cleaned up fairly well and has a date code of 1968 on it. The paint is pretty rough and I'll work on some touch up if I can find a close match to the paint color. Hopefully, I can get it to pass the "10 foot test".

Here are some photos:

After a little frame clean up.

The left side crank arm and pedal before cleaning the rust

The left side crank arm after cleaning (before polishing)

Right side crank arm/rings before cleaning

Right side crank arm/rings after cleaning (before polishing)

The pedals will be challenge. They'll need to be taken apart and the bearings repacked and then the rust cleaned off as well. There are various methods to take off the rust. Today I was just using 0000 grade steel wool with a little WD40 on it.
Stay tuned for further updates.

Monday, May 3, 2010

When will the hurricane stop?

We're used to a lot of wind in the Kittitas Valley - 10-15 mph is pretty normal. But, I'm not sure I can remember so many days of 25 mph or higher. It's been consistently at that pace for 8 days now with no end in sight.

Our group ride last Tuesday was a tough haul out into the wind - where you're travelling 9-11 mph into the wind and 30-35 mph with it behind you. In some ways conquering the wind is as rewarding as climbing a long hill. The only problem is mentally the wind just wipes you out. You try to stay positive and it just eats at you pedal stroke after pedal stroke.

Unfortunately, we have to train in it. Shorten up your ride and treat the wind as a "friend". Just like climbing hills it can make you a much stronger rider. And, think about it, at least you are not riding in the rain of western Washington.

And they still don't learn

Reports again today of three more riders snared in doping scandals. Such a shame. It's so hard to sometimes remain positive in this sport where so much of the news can be negative. But, I'll keep watching.

The real disheartening news was one of the riders of the BMC suspended earlier in March for doping with EPO. He readily admits it in this article.

Then to read an article in the latest issue of Bicycling magazine that more top level amateur racers are also doping and they're not on a professional contract and making money while riding. What's the point in this situation? I love competing but my long term health takes priority. In fact, I ride to improve my health not destroy it.

I remember back in my "bodybuilding" days receiving a order form for steroids in the mail from Canada. Was it tempting? Sure thing. Did I fall for the trap? Heck, no. I turned that form over to the DEA.

The point is there can be a benefit to doping - but it's usually only short term.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Riding for abused children

Here's a link to a nice article in the Daily Record today about EPD detective Drew Houck and his training for the Courage Classic this year.

Can the pros just figure it out?

Reading the weekly cycling news on and Road Bike Action ( there are three reports in the past couple of days of professional riders testing positive for banned substances - cocaine, EPO and Clenbuterol. Wouldn't it be nice if the professional peloton could figure out how disgusting this is for many of the fans. And these reports are just from the early spring races. Teams involved include Lance Armstrong's Radio Shack and world champion, Cadel Evans, BMC team. This doesn't bode well for Armstrong who is so anti-doping in his public statements.

Drugs have been a part of cycling - especially the grand tours - for many, many years. But, early on they were usually stimulants to keep cyclists functioning on a bike during these excruciatingly long, day after day, races. I can completely understand why they feel the need to do the doping - either keep up with everyone else or just not race. I'm sure most of these racers would be lost if they had to have a career that didn't depend on cycling.

Rather than playing this stupid game of the UCI doing doping tests and the peloton doing all they can to avoid detection - why don't they just say the cyclists can use whatever they want and if they die because of it (Tom Simpson and others) then so be it. It may sound harsh but the ridiculous nature of this game does nothing for the sport of cycling.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring professional cycling season is here

For those interested in watching the strategy and suspense of professional cycling now is the time to tune in to your television.

Many of the one day spring classics in Europe are happening along with week long stage races that lead up to the grand tours - Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelts a'Espana.

Versus on cable and satellite systems will show the Tour de France again and already broadcast the "Hell of the North" (Paris - Roubaix) race. A brutal 270 km race that includes 29 sections of broken up cobblestone pavement and is quite prestigious to win.

So far it's been a successful spring for the northwest region with Wenatchee's Tyler Farrar winning multiple races and Bend, OR native Chris Horner becoming the first American winner of the Tour of the Basque country - winning on the final time trial by a total of seven seconds.

Universal Sports on the free, over the air, antenna systems (digital channel 23-2) regularly has downhill and cross country mountain bike races and has broadcast the world cyclocross championships and world indoor track champioonships. They will broadcast the Giro d'Italia (starting May 8), Vuelta a'Espana and the world road championships this year.

You can often find many of these races available via online broadcasts from different countries. I've watched broadcasts over the web from Australia, France, Germany, England and, of course, the U.S. with Versus online for the Tour de France.

The roads are cleaning up

The county has been out cleaning intersections of the sand, rock and grit left over from the winter season. As I've ridden around the northeast part of the lower valley most intersections are now clear which means less chance for a sharper rock doing damage to your tire or the bike slipping sideways if you're leaning a little too far while turning. A few intersections where the gravel shoulder may be driven on frequently may still have gravel on the pavement - most notably Brick Mill and Fairview.

On another note, be sure to check your tire tread frequently before riding. I noticed last week a couple of small cuts in a tire that has approximately 1,700 miles on it. Without doing that check a surprise flat would be much more of an issue. As it is, I can now change the tire and ride with more ease of mind.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a day to be a cyclist

It is days like today that make it a joy to be a cyclist in the Kittitas Valley. Temperatures by 1:00 pm were close to 65 degrees with a light to moderate wind from the south. Perfect for a nice day of riding. For some reason the traffic was light and I saw at least seven other cyclists during my mini-group ride - three of us.

The beautiful scenery in the lower Valley combined with the views of snow topped mountains make me wish more people would try enjoying the scenery via pedal power. The deciduous trees are starting to leaf out and daffodils are in full bloom in many yards.

So, get out and enjoy these days before the temperatures are in the 80's and 90's and we're more concerned about staying cool than enjoying what this valley has to offer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Group rides have started

The 2010 edition of Kittitas valley group rides has begun. Seven of us ventured out to tackle stiff winds and enjoy a ride together. We had a varying range of careers represented from cabinet maker to earthquake researcher. It was quite a bit of fun, especially with the tailwind for the last half of the ride.

Come and join us every Tuesday at 5:30 pm as we start from the bike shop in Ellensburg.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not sure I understand

I've read a lot of articles on cycling trends, including buyers guides, the past couple of years and I started wondering whether I'm an oddball for not following the current trends and if I'm really that out of touch. I don't feel like I'm out on the fringe, but maybe I am.

I understand that modern bikes have quite a few advantages - namely stiffness, weight and aerodynamics. What I can't get over are the prices for modern bikes and components. Maybe it's all relative but a top line Peugeot PSV10 in 1984 sold for between $400 - $500 and weighed in at just over 20 pounds. This is a Super Vitus steel framed racing machine. With inflation that price would be higher now but not $4,000 to $5,000 as it seems many carbon bikes are priced at. Shoot when Bicycling and Road Bike Action magazines profile "affordable" bikes they all seem to be somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.

I bring up carbon bikes because that seems to be where the marketing focus is let alone and it's enhanced by what the professional riders use. Steel, aluminum and titanium are still out there as viable bicycle frame materials but get little of the focus compared to carbon fiber in the cycling press. Weighing the risk and reward of large dollars spent with a cracked, broken and unrepairable frame just makes the carbon fiber too risky in my mind. Let alone the cost - I have a hard time buying a bike that costs as much as a decent used car.

Now, would I pass up a really nice carbon fiber bike - of course, not. It just wouldn't be my first option.

As mentioned there are numerous materials for bikes these days - aluminum, aluminum/carbon fiber, carbon fiber, titanium and the old stand by - steel. All have their positives and negatives. For example, straight aluminum has a reputation of being a harsh ride and is often made better with carbon forks and chain/seat stays. Steel can be a little heavier but is a smooth ride and durable and frames can usually have small bends repaired. Titanium is a nice, compliant ride but expensive to repair and new prices rival that of carbon fiber bikes. Finally, carbon fiber bikes absorb rough roads excellently and can be incredibly stiff which is great for putting more power to the roadway, but they also break instead of bend.

The average price of a decent road bike seems to be in the $2,500 to $5,000 range these days. I personally don't know a lot of people that can just drop that kind of money on a bike unless it's on credit. Maybe the phenomenon is similar to the days when I was buying revolvers. The rider has a case of the "gotta have its". You just gotta have it, no matter the price.

This winter I stood next to a rider who had a carbon fiber bike with carbon crankset, handlebars, pedals and shoes and proceeded to add carbon fiber clip on aero bars. With all that my 22 lb steel bike and me probably still weighed 20 pounds less than him. His bike may be stiffer and a little more responsive but he would still have that extra 20 lbs to overcome. My 26 year old Gitane racing bike weighs 19 lbs - not much heavier than the new carbon fiber bikes and it competes well with the newer bikes.

Call me old fashioned but I'm riding bikes that are up to 30 years old with no problems and I'm perfectly happy with them. I'll admit, though, they're not flashy or necessarily appealing to most riders but I enjoy the heck out of them. And, that's my main point - buy the bike that suits you and your style of riding. Don't bend to pressure - make sure the bike suits you. Nobody should judge you because of the bike you have. I was once told to always buy a little more bike than you need so you can avoid having to make unnecessary upgrades too soon.

Moving on to fashion - I see riders newly involved in the sport spending $75 or more for shorts and jersey's, etc. without even thinking about it. Again, my frugal side rears it's ugly head here. Now that I'm in my 40's I don't really care what others think of me or how I look when I'm on a bike. I used to, but it doesn't matter anymore. If I want to train in a t-shirt, I'll do it. I've never spent more than $40 on a new jersey or $30 on a pair of shorts. Do the more expensive shorts make that much of a difference - I'm sure they do. But, due to time constraints I rarely spend more than 2 hours in the saddle at a time so the cheaper shorts are just fine. But, you also have to take care of those close no matter the cost.

Just this last year I bought three used shorts in great condition and a used, full zipper old team jersey from Seattle for a total of $23. Two of the shorts were higher quality, thicker chamois models that easily had a few more years of life in them. I bought a used $70 fluorescent green windbreaker for $5. It doesn't really matter to me that it has grease stains on it - I wear it to be seen by vehicle drivers. My cycling clothes are functional, not flashy.

Deals are out there, you just have to be patient. And, don't forget to support your local bike shop. Prices may sometimes be a little higher but you don't have to deal with shipping and you may be able to try the clothing on first for proper fit.

I've passed many a rider who looked cool in their team kits or other expensive clothing but it didn't make them any faster. Would I ride my bike with a Radio Shack team kit, CWU team kit, etc. - yep, but not for the amount of money they sell for these days. Then again a lot could be said for the amount of money Nascar, NFL, NBA, etc. fans spend for team jerseys to look like their favorites.

The best thing about cycling is we can all do what we want, spend what we want, wear what we want. It's just sad to see the judging of others done on websites like Bike Forums or the pressure making people feel like they have to fit in or are not worthy because they don't have the latest and greatest gear or equipment. We ride bikes because we love them and we want to stay fit. The rest doesn't really matter.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yep, another vintage bike

Maybe things have gotten out of hand (in my wife's eyes) but it doesn't feel that way to me. I am thoroughly enjoying this classic/vintage bike scene. It's cheaper than having a classic or vintage car and I find it fun to see how different bikes ride and feel while on the road.

As posted at the end of February I recently purchased a 1977 or 1978 Peugeot PX10 frameset - frame, fork and headset. I also purchased some of the other parts I needed for this bike at the Cascade Bicycle Club swap meet to go with others that I already had. It took a little while for the build to happen but I have to say I'm really happy with it.

Two years ago I knew very little regarding the maintenance of my bikes - essentially how to adjust the seat, change handlebar tape and change tubes when I had a flat. It is astounding to think this mechanically challenged bike rider has gotten to the point where I can build a bike up by myself including overhauling and repacking bearings in the headset, bottom bracket and wheels, is amazing.

Simplex SX630 derailleur/Sachs Aris 12-24 7 spd freewheel

Sugino Super Mighty crankset - 52-44

Phillippe stem/CTA engraved lion handlebars

A Turbo saddle to go fast

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Basic paceline rules

There are some proper techniques and things to be aware of when you're riding in a paceline - multiple riders in a line working together to reduce drag from wind and to ride faster. One of the most important rules to follow is to maintain the same speed when it's your turn to "pull" at the front. It's instinctive to try and push a little harder but if you increase speed too quickly you can fracture the group making it harder for others behind you to catch back up.

The following tips are from Bicycling magazine:

KEEP THE PACE The number one mistake riders make is picking up speed when they get to the front, says Ignosh. "Some guys just want to show off; others are well-intentioned—they just aren't in tune with their effort and feel like they're supposed to take a pull, so they pull." As you're riding through the line, pay attention to the group's average speed and effort. When you get to the front, do your best to maintain those levels. The goal is to keep the pack together, not blow it apart or shell riders off the back.

MICROADJUST It's nearly impossible for everyone to put forth equal amounts of effort, especially on undulating terrain. You need to make adjustments along the way to prevent what Ignosh calls the Slinky effect, where the line alternately bunches together and becomes strung out, with big gaps. "It's better to make two small undercorrections than one big overcorrection," he says. "Think of it like driving: You don't slam on the brakes, then hit the gas; you moderate your speed." To do that in a paceline, try one of these techniques: Soft pedal: If you feel like you're getting sucked into the rider in front of you, take a light pedal stroke or two to adjust your speed accordingly. Air brake: An easy (and safe) way to trim speed is to sit up and catch some wind. It'll slow you down a notch without disrupting the rhythm of the line. Feather brake: Gently squeeze the brakes while continuing to pedal. You can scrub speed while shifting up or down as needed to alter your pace.

DON'T STARE Focusing on the wheel directly in front of you is a natural instinct when riding in a line, but it gives you zero time to react should something go awry. "Keep your head up and check about 10 meters down the road," says Ignosh. "Look through holes in the leading rider—over his shoulder, under his arm or through his legs—and ride proactively instead of reactively. This will help keep the line moving smoothly."

EASE OFF THE GAS Rather than accelerating when you pull, try to ride in the line at a steady pace and decelerate as you pull off and drift to the back. "This provides the right work-to-recovery ratio without all the punchy surges that tend to blow the weaker riders off the back," says Ignosh.

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE Pacelines are designed to share the workload, so limit your pulls to a few minutes to stay fresh and give other riders a chance.

CONSERVE ENERGY If you feel tired, sit out a few turns until you're ready to take another pull. Simply open a spot for riders to rejoin the line in front of you, or come to the front and immediately pull off and drift to the back. You'll do the pack a favor by staying with them rather than working yourself into the red and falling off the back, which makes the group slow down to let you catch up.

Group Rides 2010

It's almost group ride time in Ellensburg for 2010. Two different groups will combine this year to hopefully create long term viability for group rides in the Kittitas Valley.

We will work toward three different rides this year including a regular evening ride, a weekday afternoon ride and a longer weekend ride. The latter we'll combine with a social function - The Tav, Palace Cafe, etc. after the ride. If there's time after the evening ride we can include the social function as well.

The regular weeknight ride will start on Tuesday, April 13th at 5:30 pm and will consist of a more regular route. Early rides will focus on group safety and pace line techniques. We'll try to start out into the wind so the finish will be with a tailwind.

Please join us on April 13th at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in Ellensburg for some comradery and fun riding.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Early season road conditions

The nice spring like weather the first part of March has allowed for some nice riding on the local roads - almost 200 miles worth. I thought it might be a good time for a early season road report:

  • Hwy 97 - the shoulders are nice and clear - good riding there
  • Look Rd - the shoulders coming off Alford are a little dirty thanks to PUD putting in some new telephone poles. There is also a fair amount of debris between Brick Mill and Sanders heading south from the county trimming the trees and brush in the ditches
  • Parke Creek out by Kittitas was super clean this past Sunday and a real nice ride
  • Other than that most of the roads in the area are typical chip seal with a lot of accumulated loose rock and sand close to the edge of the road - stay off those areas.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swap meet fun

This past Saturday was the Cascade Bicycle Club swap meet in Seattle. Last year was my first time attending one of these "glorified garage sales". I had so much fun in 2009 there was no way I was missing this years event. Besides, I had a few things I was looking for.

Three of us came from Ellensburg and we arrived about 8:20 am - forty minutes before the doors opened. We were about the same distance back this year as last. Once the doors open it's everyone for themselves and is an absolute mad house. Bumping and pushing your way through to look at parts. clothing, bikes, etc. This intensity lasted for a good ninety minutes and then it started to settle down. The weather was fantastic with partial sun and no rain while we were there. Overall, it was a fantastic time.

So, you might ask, what did I come home with. Here are the parts I had on hand for a new build.

I apologize for the photo overlap. I didn't get these downloaded onto my computer first so they are linked to a website photosharing site. Click on the photo to see the entire image.

Mavic GL330 tubular rims
Sachs Aris 12-24 7 spd freewheel
Campagnolo Super Record 53-39 crankset
Nitto Technomic stem
SRAM PC830 chain
Campagnolo Super Record shift levers
Campagnolo Super Record brake levers
Simplex SX630 rear derailleur (from one of my other bikes)

CTA handlebars with lion engraving found on Peugeot bikes

Results of the "treasure hunt"

1977 or 78 Peugeot PX-10 frameset
Modolo brakes
Forte CR150 ti pedals
Campagnolo front derailleur (unknown model)
Continental Sprinter tubular tires
Used full zipper jersey for those hot days or hill climbing
Brake shoes

Some of the crowd

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yep - a wipeout - the stupidity of it all

Here we are in mid-February with weather that has had us feeling like we live in Seattle. Finally, yesterday we had a break, temperatures close to 50 degrees F and SUNSHINE! The only negative was the wind blowing at Kittitas County's normal 15-20 mph.

And, I guess I'm entitled to one stupid move for 2010. I just had to go for a ride so I grabbed my favorite '84 Gitane Sprint and headed out. Three miles into my route I turned west which then means I have a crossing headwind from the right (northwest). When the wind is blowing this hard it's easier to lean into it a little to keep from being blown across the road.

All was going well until I skipped a gear and looked down at the same time I hit a wind break. Well, leaning to the right with a wind break (and your eyes not on the road) causes you to drift right. I looked up just as I was nearing the edge of the road. I had time to hit the brakes and slow a little, utter a choice word and realize "this is going to hurt". Fortunately the ditch was pretty soft, although there were some large rocks in it and the bottom was full of water.

The tires sunk in the ground and the bike slowed quickly. I was able to get one foot out of the pedal and then the bike fell over with body taking the brunt of the impact on the edge of the road. I had to use my right hand to detach the other foot from the pedal, climbed out of the ditch, did a quick survey of the bike and wiped off some mud. My arm and knee hurt badly but there was no way I was not going to complete the ride. So even with 20 miles to go I hopped on and finished.

What a way to start the year. The worst part was a friend had just passed me in his truck and witnessed the whole thing in his rear view mirror. At least I was able to finish the ride.

My left arm has most of the scrapes and bruises. The bike looks ok with the left crank arm getting a little scraped and there's a small chip on the left seat stay.

So, what did I learn. As one person said on Bike Forums as a cyclist we will 1) crash at some point and 2) will not be able to avoid #1. It's been 13 years since my last crash and I can definitely go that long again.

Don't take your eyes off the road. Easier said than done. I like looking at the beautiful scenery of the valley, but my mistake was doing too much at one time. It's a lot easier to glance away but look frequently at the road.

It was a stupid thing to do and I'll remember it for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Swap meet season is set to begin

The beginning of a new year also brings the beginning of a new bicycle swap meet season. I hadn't attended a swap meet until last February and I have to say I am completely hooked now. There are treasures to be found, deals to be made and comraderie with other cyclists to be fostered. From new and used parts, to new and used clothing, close out deals, complete bikes and more - you can typically find something you can use.

The first big event of the year is on February 27th in Seattle. Information can be found on the Cascade Bicycle Club web site. Click on the link to their site in the link section to the right.

Happy swapping.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank you Kittitas County road crews

I just have to take a minute to thank the county road crews for clearing trees and shrubs from the ditches on Wilson Creek and Look roads. We'll loose some wind protection in a few places but it will be great to have many of the branches that were growing onto the roadway out of our way. Too many times in the past couple of summers I had to dodge those branches by ducking (if a car was coming) or swerving into the lane to avoid getting hit in the face.

Soon, much of the gravel will be cleaned off the shoulders and we'll be into full time riding as the weather gets warmer, sunnier and drier.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chip seal - a necessary evil?

From the age of 10 or 11 I have been exposed to chip seal repairs on rural paved roads. The first experience was in front of our home in Whitman County on state highway 23. As kids we took advantage of the slow and stopped traffic to sell Walla Walla sweet onions in a roadside stand.

As a cyclist, though, chip seal on the pavement is a serious inconvenience, safety concern and can be a maintenance headache for our bikes when tires wear out much faster than they normally would.

One of the county engineers told me last year that studies have shown chip seal (gravel laid over oil/tar and rolled into the existing pavement) extends the live of the road by 70 years or so. They put primary roads in Kittitas County on a seven year cycle of chip sealing. It seems to me that some of the argument is just an excuse for not doing more regular road maintenance. Cracks develop in pavement - that's a part of life - but I don't see the county doing a lot of sealing of those cracks and doing more basic road maintenance (I drive thousands of miles a month so get a chance to observe a lot).

From a safety perspective the state laws state a cyclist needs to ride as far to the right of the roadway as is SAFE. The problem with chip seal is it eliminates your shoulder as a safe place to ride because it is never worn down by traffic and it accumulates all kinds of debris (sand and rocks) versus having that debris blown off a smoother surface by passing cars. Because of the elimination of the shoulder as a prime place to ride the cyclist is now forced out into the lane of travel to safely ride.

I cringe to think of the day we loose Look Rd to chip seal. It is, by far, the best road close to Ellensburg to ride safe and fast on. It is developing some cracks but none have been sealed by the county. It's a refreshing break to come off chip seal and ride on the silky smooth feel of Look Rd increasing speed and comfort even if it is only for five miles or so. But the day it is chip sealed will be the day I get more nervous and frustrated riding on it.

The biggest problem I have is much of the chip seal is not done efficiently. Gaps form in the gravel cover, rocks loosen up all the time and more importantly there doesn't seem to be much follow up to see how the seal worked. On my road, Thomas Rd, the chip seal is so rough and sparse in some areas it seems like an absolute waste of money to have even laid it down.

I recently decided to ride on the Vantage Highway, which was chip sealed this past summer. Normally I wait at least two years before riding a newly sealed road to give the autos a chance to wear down the rocks. The Vantage Highway is very heavily travelled and I thought maybe the pavement would have been smoothed out quicker than other roads. Safety was never much of a concern for me in the because I had up to 12 inches of shoulder to ride on as cars and trucks passed. Now you literally have to ride 12 inches inside the fog line to get any semblance of a smoother ride.

I only road for 2.5 miles on the highway and I was floored at the poor job the county did last summer. The chip seal undulates and skips and is one of the roughest pavements I've ridden on in the past year. If I worked at the county I would be embarrassed at the quality of work that was done. You don't notice it in a car, but on a bike you feel like you're being shaken all over the place.

Chip seal is obviously here to stay and we have to deal with it as cyclists. It would just be nice if government personnel thought of safety for all who use these roadways and became more proactive. For me, I'll continue to stay off the Vantage Highway and use parallel routes that are smoother and offer a more comfortable ride.