31 March 2011

The Greatest Unpaved Road Ever?

This ride started out when I was a passenger in the car on the way to my mother's house. Just past the Rest Area South of Lindsborg, I spotted a gravel road going east and west under the interstate. Many trips to see mom, she has been sick, and I kept looking at this road. Finally found out where "there" was. Quivira road was the hill that I was seeing as I looked toward the West in that brief glimpse between the trees. Mapped a ride on Monday that included this road and went out on Wednesday.

The weather? Well that was crap. Temperatures in the low 40's with a SE wind at 14. Cloudy and grey. The terrain all around me was brown, brown and more brown. Spring needs to "spring" because frankly even though this is boring old Kansas, I felt such a monotony to the terrain.

Parked at McPherson State Fishing Lake as my starting off point. Went looking for the self pay station. Instead found a park ranger who informed me that since this was a state lake and not a state park, there were no parking fees! SCORE! Not sure if there is a swimming area but there is a boat dock, hiking paths, camping, RV hookups, showers and bathrooms! All free! What a great jumping off point for the ride....

Which immediately punches you in the face before you are even warmed up. Going to have to climb your way out of this one. It isn't until around mile 4 that the pavement begins and things even out. Most of the roads, except this short paved stretch, are sandy in nature. Pretty good until it gets damp, then it turns to more of a hindrance. Dry or wet/packed this is a really fast stretch until mile 14. Once you turn north on 15th you start to wonder a bit what you've gotten yourself into. Roads start undulating, the composition starts changing back and forth. Sand gives way to soil, gives way to sand, gives way to rock. Never really get a rhythm going on this 4 mile section. Then at mile 18(ish) it happens, you turn on to the GREATEST UNPAVED ROAD EVER.

Quivira road dead ends at the west 2 miles further. You will be fine without these 2 miles trust me. So you head east for 2 miles and run into this:

Took this picture merely as a joke because well I've had a bad run with "moisture."




Which wasn't too fucking funny when I almost endoed. I ran in to what could possibly be one of the most fiendish geologic anomalies ever. That's right kids clay and a shit ton of it at the bottom of the draw. Ruts almost hub deep and nowhere to go, shit is everywhere. That's the FIRST wad that accumulated behind my fork, not allowing my wheel to spin. Shouldered the bike and walked/slipped/slogged my way up hill toward 18th road. ( The entire hill is clay) I caution you there is yet another clay "mine field" after this one but the drainage is MUCH better, still spongy but again quite alright.

The next highlight, sorry WC the photo didn't take, is at 19th road. Looking north was the most primitive, rutted, moist, heinous soil road I had ever seen. You would have loved it. Here I was realizing I had bit off way more than I could chew and I was just about toast with several miles to go. I soldiered on and the road gave way to sand, a real uplifting feeling. Until it changed to soil, moist, saturated soil. Able to ride in the middle and not sink so far but I was flinging chunks like crazy. Finally gave way to sand again just as I made my turn South. I was spent and felt like I was going to just puke at any moment, especially realizing I was going into the wind. My derailleur seemed stuck in the 27 tooth the last bit home. Turning on to Pueblo I realized to my horror that I was going to have to climb my way back to the car. Using the last of my reserves I did make it. Post ride meal was spent with Mom in Salina, a real bonus on the day.

Why is Quivira road nominated for best unpaved road ever? Quivira doesn't allow you to get cozy and comfy and just grind away. Constant changes in soil type. Poor drainage in certain areas. Notice when you turn on Quivira things start to go up and down quite a bit with no consistency. Climbing and descending on different terrains not only challenges you as a rider but also gives practice climbing for these different terrains. The only thing this road lacks, is this even a problem folks?, is the huge fist sized rocks we find in Butler county. There is almost a clammy sweat of excitement/anticipation because the sand you ascend may just turn into the clay quagmire that screws you on the descent. Anyone who loves riding gravel has to check this road out. The most challenging 8 miles I have seen. Going to have to scout those last two miles....

I leave you with a glimpse through the trees from the other side. That's I-135 on the left. My camera phone SUCKS! Sorry for the quality!

29 March 2011

Velominati

Some of these are classics rules of cycling.  I am proud to admit that I routinely break several of them.  Thanks to #3 for the heads up on this site.

Here are some favorites:

Rule 7:
Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.  Under no circumstances should one be rolling up their sleeves or shorts in an effort to somehow diminish one’s tan lines.  Sleeveless jerseys are under no circumstances to be employed.

Rule 8:
Saddles, Bars, and Tires3:
  • Match the saddle to the bars and the tires to black; or
  • Match the bars to the color of the frame at the top of the head tube and the saddle to the color of the frame at the top of the seat tube and the tires to the color where they come closest to the frame; or
  • Match the saddle and the bars to the frame decals; or
  • Black, black, black
Rule 9:
If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass.  Period.

Rule 12:
The minimum number of bikes one should own is three.  The correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.  This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

Rule 16:
Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race.

Rule 33:
Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times.  If, for some reason, your legs are to be left hairy, make sure you can dish out plenty of hurt to shaved riders, or be considered a hippie douche on their way to a Critical Mass.

Rule 58:
Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online. Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staffs time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friends wife, then having a beer with him after. You may as well go into your local shop and spit in the owners face. Online is evil and will be the death of the bike shop. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.
Rule 65:
Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence and as such must be meticulously maintained. No squeaks, creaks, or chain noise allowed. Only the soothing hum of your tires upon the tarmac and the rhythm of your breathing may be audible when riding. When riding the Pave, the sound of chain slap is acceptable. The Principle of Silence can be extended to say that if you are suffering such that your breathing begins to adversely effect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped.

Rountinly Break:

Rule 11:
Family does not come first.  The bike does (nope)

Rule 18:
No road jerseys or Lycra bibs when riding off-road. Cyclocross is a middle-ground. Best to wear cross-specific kit.. 
(Road weenie elitiesm)

Rule 24:
Speeds and distances shall always be referred to and calculated in kilometers.  This includes while discussing cycling in the workplace with your non-cycling coworkers, serving to further mystify our sport in the web of their Neanderthalic cognitive capabilities.  As the confused expression spreads across their unibrowed faces, casually mention your shaved legs. All of cycling’s monuments are measured in the metric system and as such the English system is forbidden. (Whatever. This is road weenie elitiesm)

Rule 31:
Spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets, or in a converted bidon in a cage on bike. (sorry, but I don't have any domestiques or team mechs behind me)

Rule 62:
You shall not ride with earphones. Cycling is about getting outside and into the elements and you dont need to be listening to Queen or Slayer in order to experience that. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and pain, not in whatever 80s hair band you call music. See Rule 5 and ride your bike. (Like I listen to Queen or fucking Slayer)

Non-cycling review: Benchmade Griptilian

Yeah, yeah, it's a crappy photo. 
I love this knife.  I know it's not cycling-specific, but this knife is worth the blog space. 

I bought my first Benchmade back when I first started working at the Bicycle Pedaler over 10 years ago.  I was surprised at how much I used a knife once I had one and the Benchmade was a great performer.  I soon outgrew the little folder I purchased and needed a larger, hardier knife.

Enter the Griptilian.  While the 551 is my favorite, there are several varieties of knife blade shape, style, opening operations and even scale (handle) colors. There is also a mini-version available in case you want a smaller knife.  Both sizes are available locally at Backwoods, up at 21st and Rock.

The knife performs excellent.  It is easy to resharpen, but you can always send it back in to  Benchmade for free lifetime sharpening or blade replacement ( a small fee for a new blade). Overall the knife is light and the handle is comfortable to hold and operate.  I have had mine dipped in mud, full of sand, used to scrape paint off a fitting, used as a screwdriver (while careful not to break the tip) and of course, to cut with.  The knife is a workhouse and has never let me down. 

21 March 2011

Ugghh....a new type of ride

I am overweight.

Fuck. I let it creep up over the wind down after the M4 ride and never shook it off. So now I find myself heavier than I have been in over 2 years and it is spring time with WC and #3 looking to kick my ass. 

I read Matt Fitzgerald's first book, Racing Weight and was impressed with his overall approach to diet and endurance training.  Recently he released a Quick Start version.  It's a book about your diet, not a diet book.  (I stole this line and rearranged it to avoid plagiarism). 

Anyway it is a good book. The quick start has a series of training plans.  Every weekend has a fat burning ride.  Basically this is achieve by getting out of bed and riding without eating anything.  So imagine how it was today for me.  1:45 minutes on the bike where I managed a whopping average speed of something like 13.5 mph.  I felt sluggish and weak but still caught two kitted-up posers on comfort-road bikes.

a

19 March 2011

Much needed ride

Yesterday I had the time and the nice weather to get in an outside ride just east of Fall River. After too much time on the trainer this winter it was very nice. Got in about 26 miles, about 60 percent gravel. The Steelman rode great but the Vaya would have been much more comfortable. Tried to get a little lost but was able to find my way out. Saw a couple of hills that were made more interesting by the fact that I was on my road bike. Also saw a skate park in the middle of nowhere. All in all nice to have a day not on the trainer.














18 March 2011

Rise of the CAAD10

Went to Salina on Wednesday to help out my mother. Temperatures in the upper 70's meant that a bike ride was definitely in order. March temperatures like this are always accompanied by one thing, the wind. Gusts were over 30, sustaining about 25 or so mph.

I recently replaced my Madone 5.9 with a CAAD10. My new purchase had to meet three criteria. 1. Had to be in Budget 2. Had to have SRAM, preferably Rival or above. 3. BB30 or something equivalent. Cannondale fit the bill with it's aluminum race bike. This is also my first road bike I bought smaller than suggested. I feel more on top of the bike, and more in control, riding a 58 instead of the recommended 61 or 60.

So let's review the CAAD10 since this was my first ride. Welds are the first thing that I looked at when I got the bike. Cannondale used to have arguably the finest finished frames at the joints for a mass production company. The welds on the CAAD10 are close...you can see that some effort has been made to approximate the work done all those years in the United States. Because this is a BB30 frame and SRAM makes no BB30 for Rival, the bike came equipped with the Force crank. Just absolutely beautiful, and so very light. A very nice upgrade considering most companies are putting compact Gossamer or Gossamer Pro cranks on their products. Stem was a bit long for me otherwise the bike fit up great the first time with little tweaking.

On the road. My test ride was only 20 miles on Wednesday. Saline County is a great proving ground due to maintenance never really deciding a constant theme with regard to road composition. I rode smooth pavement, mine fields of patches, asphalt and cracked city streets, with a little bike path for convenience. The bike took all of it in stride, no jarring collision with road surface or cracks. Handling was superb, on one section I was slaloming around patches and the bike just snapped to wherever I wanted it to. Climbing was solid, and pretty scarce. What I did feel was no flex when really cranking toward the top of the hill. Going down was an absolute joy. Cannondale made a bike that sticks to the road, no vibration, no twitching. 38 mph going downhill and I never felt myself wishing I could slow down to soothe the frame. I am totally happy that I purchased this bike. Weighing in at around 19lbs., I wouldn't concern myself with finding lighter crabon fibre.

I happened to also test out two other products: Continental GP4000 clincher tyres and WC's used 7700 pedals. The tires were frickin' awesome! I have not felt a stickier, more supple tyres in my life. GP4000's just roll and roll and roll. Spring is here! Treat yourself to these tyres! WC your pedals need an overhaul. I actually enjoyed the wind in my ears, couldn't hear the rattling and vibration coming off the bearings. Somehow the plastic gripper in the middle broke off on one. I was more than happy to test these out for you because now you know what you've got!

Smolan Ride

16 March 2011

cycling jeans- really?

I guess I don't understand fashion. I can across these jeans while I was surfing for cycling clothing. Actually I was waiting for the weather to warm up so I could go on a ride. I thought cycling jeans must have some special pad or thing to make them trick to communte in. The only things I see that make them "cycling pants" is this: a big pocket for a mini U lock, a reflective belt loop (which would be hidden by anything not tucked in) and a hidden reflective strip that is exposed when you roll your right leg up. All these fancy enhancements will just cost you an additional $80 over a decent pair of Levi's. That's right, $120 for special Japenese demin jeans desinged just for cycling.

Spring Riding

Things I hate about spring riding: the wind, unpredictable weather, layering clothing and then stripping it off, under dressing, leaving a long ride with 28 degree weather and finishing in 70 degree weather.

Things I love about spring riding: I am riding and not running.

11 March 2011

Finally

I finally got a good ride in yesterday that didn't make me feel like a total newbie. I was able to get my HR up and keep it up for the duration of the ride. Maybe I have turned the corner.

The ten day outlook appears to be cycling friendly for the first time in several months. No rain or precipitation on the horizon, so maybe Miller's will dry out.

10 March 2011

Almost Famous

Hey all. Today a customer came in and through discussion it was revealed that they had indeed been to this very blog! I was kind enough to introduce myself as #3 for recognitions sake. I'm assuming that was you John so I'll be kind enough to pimp your club right here! Just remember YOU will probably be the only outsider to know I posted the link.

River City Racing Club

Sorry to disappoint John but really just us three authors hang out here. That could change if we get the gumption, kind of a slow time for us!

To give you an update on my riding thus far. NONE. I have moved, divorced, and been sick for the last 8 weeks. Hopefully Monday will bring sunshine and an okay from the doctor for me to ride! That's a bit of an embellishment, doc is hopeful the drugs have worked enough so I feel well enough to ride on Monday.