pissed off cycling

Singlespeed P-12, #1

Well, after a long hiatus I'm back on the short-course rando circuit and attempting a P-12 series on my singlespeed. Yesterday I completed the Snoqualmie River Run for my first ride back to the series, and my longest ride of the year.

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Drive safe, or else...

I've been neglecting my blog for too long. I could go into reasons and make excuses, but what does that solve? It's not like posts from the past 8 months will magically appear. There's my apology. Take it or leave it. Now here's my post:

I ride a bicycle to work. Often, it is an old, rusted bicycle with a homemade bucket pannier hanging off the back.

I ride a bicycle because I enjoy being outside, and I work too far from home to walk.
I ride a bicycle because I am in training to race on one.
I ride a bicycle because it affords me a vent for my over-abundant agression.
I ride a bicycle because during "rush" hour it is faster than a car.
I ride a bicycle becuase it is fun.

Too many will never understand this.

I do not ride a bicycle because I can not afford a car.
I do not ride a bicycle because I am not allowed to drive a car.
I do not ride a bicycle because I am particularly concerned with my carbon footprint.
I do not ride a bicycle to "stick it to Big Oil".
I do not ride a bicycle to flout the traffic laws.

Do not assume these things about me.
Do not assume anything about me because I am on a bicycle.
Do not assume that I am a pacifist.
Do not assume that I am afraid of you, hiding in your vehicle.
Do not assume that I will yield my right of way.

I have been right-hooked twice in the last week.
Passed me on the left, then he turned when the passenger door was even with my front wheel.
I dented his roof, door and quarterpanel, then forced him out of his vehicle and made him tell everyone in the parking lot how sorry he was that he hit me. He is only seventeen.
At the highway intersection on 148th, peds/cyclists (there were 3 of us) had the crossing light and this guy considered the "break" in cross traffic his opportunity to make a right on red, clipping my front wheel and taking me 90-degrees with him.
I broke one of his windows and a taillight as he gunned the engine and hit-skipped the scene.

Drivers, if you want to step up the idiocy, I will continue to escalate the "emphasis" on my right of way.
The police may not care about your traffic violations.
The courts may go lenient on drivers who hit cyclists.
Other cyclists may back down.
I am far less forgiving.
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What it Takes to be Super, pt. 3; the 400k

This is the third in a series of four articles I am writing for Ryan Warkentin's blog, Bicycle Smile, out of Vancouver, B.C. The articles will chronicle my run at the Super-Randonneur Award during the summer series.

A precursory warning. Much of the following account is the dismal tale of a randonneur in the throes of sleep deprivation, mental fatigue, mild depression, and a dark urge to cause himself physical pain as a means of purging his personal demons. It is not a gentle story. It does not paint randonneuring in a pretty light; but it is an honest account of what can happen on a mid-distance brevet. If you are disinclined to read about descriptions of physical trauma and mental breakdown, then stop right here.
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What It Takes To Be Super, pt. 2; the 300k

This is the second in a series of four articles I am writing for Ryan Warkentin's blog, Bicycle Smile, out of Vancouver, B.C. The articles will chronicle my run at the Super-Randonneur Award during the summer series.

You did the 100k Permanent and got your club recognition pin. You rode the 200k and had fun with it. The 300k is the next logical progression after the 200k, and it is a big step up in the long-distance game; while the 200k is a wee spot over a century, the 300k is just shy of a double (imperial). Depending on your speed and the time of year, this may be the first brevet where you encounter significant amounts of riding at night. You might need to carry some warm clothes for a pre-dawn start and nighttime finish. Nighttime navigation itself requires some new strategies; a helmet lamp to read cue sheets and street signs in the dark… Also helpful for nighttime flat repairs, should that misfortune strike.
The summer series 300k the Seattle Randonneurs chose to host was the infamous 3 Volcanoes route. Nestled in the valley circumscribed by Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens is the Giford-Pinchot National Forest, and it is in and around that forest where the 3 Volcanoes course would take us.

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A Rare Mid-week Permanent

Having taken a few days off from work, I decided that I would make the most of the Wednesday morning sunshine and enjoy a quick Permanent. Narayan, ever tolerant of my short-notice card requests, sent me the card for Route #757 on my shortest notice yet: 14 hours. The Issaquah/U-Village 100k has a Redmond start option which makes it convenient for me to ride to Peet's Coffee for a 5 mile warm up and then enjoy a cup of coffee before the route.

Redmond to Issaquah
The weather was fantastic right from the start. Nearly 60 degrees when I left my apartment, so I only needed my arm warmers as "extra" gear. It felt so nice to be unburdened of the usual shoe covers, knee warmers, jacket, long gloves, and spare luggage to carry it all if the day decided to warm up. I had sunscreen and my ever-so-stylish STP Tyvek jacket along with the essentials in my Berthoud, but I would only need the former; the rain held off and the skies cleared as I headed south after a cup of coffee. Maybe it was the knowledge of impending McBreakfast; maybe it was the nice weather, maybe it was just the coffee... But I was seriously flying. As I snarfed down a delicious sausage, egg and dubiously named "cheese" flavoured product McMuffin, I had to check the time on the receipt to see if I had actually hauled enough ass to beat the control opening time. The control opened at 30 minutes and my receipt put me in at 34 minutes (iirc; I've already popped everything in the mail.) Regardless, I was considerably faster than any previous ride.

Issaquah to Woodinville
Fueled on my breakfast of McChampions I pointed myself north and rocketed back (mostly) the way I came. The southbouth trip makes the lakefront jaunt down E. Lake Sammamish Place, while the return trip does not.
NOTE TO RIDERS:The route sheets for both the U-Village and the Redmond start instruct riders to return on WEST Lake Sammamish and this is incorrect. You return north on EAST Lake Sam.
The northbound trip has some long grades which didn't seem to slow me down much. Possibly the previous day's 5-laps of Novelty Hill workout had jaded me to anything less than 6%. I hammered my way to 65th and zipped through Marymoor Park to the Sammamish River Trailhead, expecting it to be jam-packed with riders, joggers, dog walkers and baby strollers. Surprisingly, it was rather empty. Maintaining a 19mph pace was not difficult on the flat and mostly unpopulated trail. There were a few commuters out and heading the opposite direction, and a couple groups of joggers. I only needed to announce my presence to one group in the entre 7.5 mile stretch to Woodinville. The trail is under construction at Wilmot Gateway so you must exit at the main gates of the park and hit the sidewalk to get to the ARCO control. The 175th St. exit from the trail is closed
I slammed down a Snickers and a 5hr Energy at the control while refilling my bottles and dropping in some more Kona Kola NUUN tablets (reviewed below). Looking at my ride card, I realized I hit the control only 16 minutes past the opening time. This was shaping up to be one of my fastest rides ever. I hopped on my bike and zipped back down to the park where I could reconnect with the Sam. River Trail (SRT) and head to University Village.

Woodinville to University Village
I've ridden this section in every type of weather, at all times of the day and night, and I just don't like the first half of it. From Woodinville to Lake Forest Park the trail is poorly maintained. There are root heaves galore, and it's difficult to maintain a comfortable spin; every time you get into a rhythm, you have to stand back up or suffer having your saddle hammer you in the behind as you slam your way over yet another buckled section of asphalt. Once you're past that, the only hazard is not getting squished at the many, many, many intersections on the way to the U-Village shopping center. There's not much visibiilty at some of these intersections, and I did have to lay on the brakes pretty hard once when at the last second I saw a vehicle coming down the hill. After a quick but uneventful section I popped into the U-Village Bartell's for another Snickers bar and bottle of water.

U-Village to Redmond
This should have been a fly-though segment like the previous three, but I ran into some cramping issues around mile 55 and needed to take a stretching break for a while. This has happened on quite a few of my longer rides recently, and I've been trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. I was drinking plenty of water and packing away electrolytes since I was sweating a lot in the almost 75 degree heatwave we experienced. It must have been a combination of a hard hill workout the previous day, and possibly not enough food during the ride. That seems to be the big issue when I ride alone; I don't eat enough. I thought I was doing a good job of keeping the calories flowing in, but I suppose not since I pulled off the trail with the same cramp I've been getting: Both legs, inner thigh. I have no idea why this is where I cramp up, either. I sat on a picnic table and stretched out for about 15 minutes while eating a Clif Builder's Bar and drinking an entire bottle of water with 2 NUUN tablets in it. Feeling that the cramping had subsided, I started slowly (at first) back to Redmond. Eventually I was able to pick the pace up to 15.5mph, but I couldn't continue to push my 18 - 19mph rolling average from earlier in the morning. I made it back through Marymoor Park and into the Peet's lot just before 11:00am, putting my return trip from the U-Village at a staggering 90 minutes. Yikes!
While not the record setter I was hoping for, 4 hours and 29 minutes is still my fastest 100km time. I got my final receipt and propped my legs up to enjoy a few minutes of rest while I munched on a sun-dried tomato and pesto roll before riding back up Novelty Hill.

Product Review: Kona Kola NUUN Tablets

The manufacturers of NUUN Electrolyte replacement tablets would have you believe that "remarkably quenching yet deceptively complex... elements of cinnamon, vanilla, clove and a gentle hint of ginger join an underlying cola theme to complete a flavour profile that is simply... stunning." (direct from their product description.)
If you haven't time to process all that, I'll describe it in two words:Flat Pepsi. That's right. Take a Pepsi cola, open it and take a few sips. This is how awesome Kona Kola NUUN is when you first mix up a bottle; it really does taste like Pepsi, and the effervescence even makes it feel like drinking a soda.
But wait, there's more! Oh, nevermind... There isn't. The fizz goes flat in a few minutes and now you have the water bottle equivalent of that 2 litre you forgot about in the back of your fridge for a week. Sure, it looks inviting; but that disappointing non-bubbly first sip lets you know that the fun is gone.

pissed off cycling

R-12 ride #2: The Mountain Loop

Home to Snohomish
Things started out well enough. Amy arrived at my place with plenty of time and I loaded my bike into the back of her car. I had all my stuff ready to go the night before, and there was no last minute scrambling and forgetting of essential items like water bottles, shoes or helmet as I've had problems with in the past. I folded myself into the front seat, and off we went.
Aside from missing the turn onto Crescent Lake/Tualco because we were busy yapping, and a minor issue with my pre-coffee navigational skills from Monroe to Snohomish, we arrived at the 7-11 on 2nd and D with a few minutes to spare.

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Trail riding

I'm not a mountain biker. I own an old mountain bike that I turned into a grocery commuter, with a big Wald basket on the front... but I still enjoy riding on gravel and hardpack dirt trails.
My 32mm Pasela TG tires give enough cushion to hold up against some light-to-moderate trail riding as long as I'm careful about it. The going rumour is that the Pasela has a slightly fragile sidewall, prone to damage from rocks and sticks. I've picked my way across some tennis ball sized ballast rock on the Redmond Ridge trail network and rolled away unscathed.
I've started adding some trail and gravel riding into my routine because I'll be riding the 3 Volcanoes 300k in the fall, and I've read some archive reports about the loose gravel road surface and washboard road base for 10 or so glorious miles. I'd like to be prepared for whatever road surface the route will throw at us, so I'm ramping up with the Redmond Ridge trail network, the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail, and the Mountain Loop 200k this weekend (for a real taste of gravel roads on a rando route).

Now it's matter of building myself back up from my current state of dilapidation and depression, and getting my sorry arse back into the shape I was in just a few short months ago when I managed to hang with the pack for a 15h finish at the spring 300k. It seems so far away sometimes; and knowing that I shot my schedule to hell by missing a second 300k and the spring 400k isn't bolstering my confidence for the 600k I've pledged myself to riding in the fall.

Time to get moving.
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