Friday, March 28, 2014


There comes a time when one must look at the diminishing returns and make a decision and then move on. It's okay. It's all good. I'm happy with my decision.

Looking back at all those miles covered, the distances traveled near and far; the toiling, the gruesome workouts, all made in an effort to produce what? A few precious victories and some hard-earned character?

I have no regrets. 

But alas, I see the signs of wear and tear. There have been countless nicks and cuts accumulated along the way. Even the skin has become spidery and craggy from the harsh elements, its suppleness long forgotten.

Aging sucks. At some point, it's time to hang it up. The timing is different for everyone. But eventually, each of us figures out when it's time to cut losses and move on.

Thankfully, when arriving at this point, one needs only to go down to your local bike shop and get a new set of training tires.

Whew! Retiring was never so easy. Wait, what did you think I was talking about?

This time I chose a set of 25c Continental Gatorskins for my training tires. It was either that, or convert a set of Bontrager Race TLR wheels to a tubeless clincher setup. But because my LBS only had 23mm Bontrager R3 tubeless tires in stock, I decided to stick with the traditional tire/inner-tube setup. Maybe I will make the switch to tubeless the next time I face 'retiring.'

Then again, maybe I should just really call it quits. For real. I mean it. Fold up my tents and get into video games or woodworking like Munson's Tyler Durden (Jon Randell) did.

Athletes like to go out while they're on top of their game. Otherwise, they may face regrets or consequences like Like Brett Favre, or Lance Armstrong.

For a more local example, take this text I received from Rafal a while back:

In other words, Rafal was pondering what's left to accomplish after beating Brad and Lee in last fall's StarCity cyclo-cross race. Rafal's got a valid point. The two he beat are among the best road (Lee) and mountain (Brad) bikers around here. To beat one of those guys, let alone both of them in the same race, is not just a feather in Rafal's cap, it's the entire peacock. Perhaps Rafal should have quit.

I also wonder if I'm at one of those crossroads. My form is coming back as strong as ever, as evidenced by this past Wednesday Night Worlds group ride:

That effort was good for not just any old KOM, but one of Jonathan Wait's prize possessions. That kind of big deal. Such an occasion requires no less than paraphrasing Rafal:

"beat wait in ft calhoun kom what's there left"

Bah, can I be honest with you? What's the use? We all know that KOMs are worth nothing and everything. Especially tail-wind and/or group ride assisted KOMs.

Yeah, pretty good. At any rate, I've got a lot of miles to put on these new training tires. See you out on the open road.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Re: Nowhere Else To Go

My friend Fredcube is doing his first road race in several years tomorrow. I don't think he needs any motivation to wheel up to the starting line, but just in case, here goes.

There are two types of road racers. Those who love to race, and those who do it because they've got nowhere else to go on a particular Saturday morning.

Most of my friends fall into the latter category, having nowhere else to go on Saturdays. This is most evident in the winter, where one must choose between doing nothing at all, and riding in the harsh elements outdoors, or slogging away on a trainer in a damp basement while staring at a cinder block wall.  By the time racing weekends returns in the Spring, these die-hards have had enough of the basement and/or spinning in the small ring. They're ready for something new, and at least they now have somewhere to go (the race).

And then there's the young "Boy-Peter". Peter loves to race. He can't get enough of it. It's what he talks about when he's not on the bike. Incessantly.

Peter has family in California. Unlike the rest of us, he has places to go, good places, especially in the winter. We all know that there are lots of distractions in California. As a result, Peter's off-season training takes a more abbreviated form than the nut-jobs in basements and the great plains winter warriors.

Peter don't (sic) care much about off season training. He just wants to race. Pure and simple: just get him to the starting line, blow the whistle and he'll race himself back into form.

Essentially, Peter's winter base period is the 45 quality minutes warming up in the parking lot before that first spring classic race. And that 45 minutes includes registering, pinning his number to his bib, rubbing down his Colnago, and hitting on the female racers.

All of them.

Predictably, the early races do not go so well. Ask him in the parking lot afterward if he's disappointed about not getting any results and he'll tell you straight up how it went. Something like this:

Then, after taking a couple steps away, he'll suddenly spin on his carbon sole, peel back an arm warmer to reveal the Jelly-Belly team member's phone number scrawled on his forearm, and say, "And who said anything about not getting any results?"

There you go, Fredcube. Peter even has more places to go now. But you don't, and you don't need nor want anymore places to go. Except for this race this weekend. You can do that. In any case, the race is tomorrow and you need to go about getting bright, pally.

Go Go Go!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Governor

I was 12 years old the first time I heard of a governor device being installed on a motorized vehicle. But it wasn't on one of my dad's cars. I'm not even sure a Buick Century even had one.

The first time I heard about a 'governor was in relation to a gas powered golf cart.

For those unfamiliar, a governor is a mechanism used to intentionally limit the top end speed of an engine. It is usually done to protect the engine from tearing itself apart by its own centrifugal forces. But they're also applied to intentionally limit the top end speed as a measure to protect the public.

Anyway, I heard about governor devices through my older brother Matt, who was 14 at the time. That summer, Matt had two jobs: 1) lawn boy, and 2) golf course caddy shack grunt. He made good money on his lawn service. He didn't earn a cent at the caddy shack, but he wasn't there for the money. The reason Matt hung out at the caddy shack was to drive the golf carts.

Somehow that summer, Matt managed to earn the job of closing down the caddy shack each night. Among other things, this included maintaining the golf carts: cleaning, servicing (gas/battery) and parking them neatly in the garage at the end of the day. With over 50 carts, he had a lot of responsibility. Yet they trusted him. He even had his own set of keys. Quite remarkable for 14 year old.

More than half of the golf carts were battery powered. They were dogs according to Matt: sluggish and a pain in the butt to tow-in when they died somewhere out on the course.

Surprisingly, the gasoline-powered carts were even slower than the electric ones. That was, with two exceptions: Matt noticed that #66 and 67 out-performed every other cart in the shack.

One day, Matt mentioned his observations to the mechanic.

"Hey Randy, why are carts 66 and 67 faster than the others?"

"They ain't got no govner's" Randy said while hunched over an electric three-wheeler.

"Governor? What's that?" Matt asked.

"That thing that makes them as slow as snails shitting peanut butter. Carts 66 and 67 don't got no govner's 'cause I yanked them. They go purty fast now. Prolly 40 miles an hour."

Matt never missed a night of closing down the caddy shack down that summer. As the evening twilight's last rays were setting, he'd often swing by the house in one of those two carts and pick me up for a joy ride around the golf course. I'm not sure if they went 40 mph or not, but they sure did fly.


I installed a governor of sorts on my cycling recently. A couple weeks back, I purchased Joe Friel's "Power-Based: Olympic Build-Peak-Race" training plan from TrainingPeaks. My hope is to use this as the most direct path to getting into form for hard group rides and triathlon races later this spring/summer.

I will use the plan with the Cyclops Powertap hub laced to an Aeolus 5.0 wheel that I picked up a few years ago from one of my ride sponsors, Shim. The wheelset is carbon and ridiculously fast. Until now, I used them primarily for racing; the Powertap has been merely a toy that came along on the ride.

So how does a Powertap laced to racing wheels fulfill the role of a governor? They don't. The governor is Joe Friel's plan, and more importantly, my compliance to it. Joe's plan will tell me how much wattage I should be putting out per workout, while the Powertap will give me real-time feedback. It's far more accurate than a HR monitor, or judging your RPE. Those are good, but not quite as good as watts per kilogram.

I started the plan this past Monday with a 20 minute power test to get baseline metrics.  I followed it up with another power-based workout on Wednesday: 4 x 9 minutes at theoretical 90 minute critical power threshold (cp90). I'd have to say that the set of four cp90s weren't easy, but they weren't very difficult either. I saw the watts on my Garmin and knew what I was still capable of. I was willing to push harder, and my flesh was able. But just because I could, should I? Not yesterday. At least according to the governor.

Well that's it for now. Thanks for reading.

EZ-GO #66 had a hammer. It'd be perfect to motor-pace behind.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hyperdrive Offline

Last month marked the Chinese new year of the horse. As a cyclist, I likened the idea of the year of the horse as a good omen.

Instead, it feels like the horse has promptly kicked me in the teeth.

Neigh, you say. ← That pun was for Fred. He can't get enough of them.

Anyway, this year has started off bumpy. I had issues with my bike and body.

First the bike: my main training bike is my Yellow Madone. In this off-season, it's had a wobbly crank and press-in bearings overhauled, a broken spoke on both front and rear wheels, and not one, but two rear wheel hub overhauls. I was about to put the poor bike out of its misery, but after it's second hub overhaul, I've had a few hundred miles of smooth riding. Let's hope that the maintenance issues are behind us.

As for my my body: I was off the bike from December into mid-January while visiting Singapore. This was planned, coming right off of cyclocross season. Shortly after I returned, however, a tooth infection flared up, resulting in an extraction and an alleged canine-vampire attack. These events were unplanned and have put havoc on my training plans for the past several weeks.

So this off season hasn't been so great for me.

You know that scene in Empire Strikes Back when the Empire is raining hellfire down on Hoth as the rebels are abandoning the planet? Meanwhile, Chewie is still repairing the Millenium Falcon as chunks of the ice cave are falling around him? That's kinda how I feel. All my roadie friends have been gearing up for the onslaught of the road season, while I've been tinkering around with cone wrenches and teeth falling out of my head.

Now everybody but Leah* knows that the Falcon escapes Hoth. But when they tried to kick in the Falcon's hyperdrive to put some space between them? Clunk, clunk, clunk.

Let's go a little further with this analogy and see what kind of racing strategy that leaves me with.

Hint: look to me to feign an improbable attack on somebody like Lee Bumgarner and then draft closely behind him. So close it's as if I'm stuck to him. If I must deploy a docking claw to hang on until being dumped (dropped) with the other trash, so be it.

Ok, so if you can't tell, I've really got nothing much to say here. Somebody give me a Wookie yell and let's roll the credits and call it good.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

The hyperdrive can wait, Chewie. How was your last dental checkup?
*Leah has never seen any of the Star Wars films.