Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pedicabs at The Beach?

Who woulda thunk it?
Pedicabs in Virginia Beach.

(Image ©Bill Tiernan, The Virginian-Pilot)

Bicycle Film Festival, 2008

Go on. You know you think you're good enough in the Year of the Pomegranate...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Superbowl Ride, MMVIII

Calling All Endorphin Junkies.

Superbowl Ride, 2008.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008.

Grandfather Knob, Virginia.

2008: The Year of the Pomegranate

Several of my favorite bike sites on the web have started listing rides with Google Calendars, including the DC Randonneurs and Randonneurs USA (RUSA).

So with a cup of tea at hand and a pencil in hand, I'm contemplating the options on a paper calendar, making plans for the coming year. Which, incidentally has been declared the Year of the Pomegranate...Details to follow...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

All Hail the Master- Lucas Brunelle

For all my forays into cycling video, they pail in comparison to Lucas Brunelle's work.

The full-res versions are definitely worth downloading from his site, but you can also see them on YouTube. So if you're looking for some entertainment on a cold, wet winter night, you can't do much better than Lucas Brunelle:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2 for 2- 3rd Place 2 Races in a Row!

It's just too darn funny to believe, but I've finished 3rd in both of my last races- the Alley Cat for Kittens Race last Friday, and then the Tidewater Mountain Bike Challenge back in October. I just got the word that Rob & I finished in 3rd place, even though Rob only finished 1 lap. II was so exhausted that after finishing my last lap I just headed home...I didn't stick around for the awards ceremony.

I'll start chilling the beer to christen the glassess...look out for Team 2 Drunk 2 Shift!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kitty Cat Race

Cyclochris won bragging rights last night at the Kitty Cat Race. And without further ado, here's the video-

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Critical Mass, Norfolk!

That's right folks, come on out tomorrow night for Critical Mass, Norfolk!
Meet @ Colley & Baldwin Avenues @ 6pm.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Yeah...maybe I shoulda packed my fenders...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bike Friendly Norfolk

So I half-stumbled into leading a Bike Commuting Workshop at the Fair Trade Festival next month in downtown Norfolk, and found myself asking newbie commuters, "What would you want to learn? What do you need to know in order to commute confidently?"

Yes, everyone needs to know how to ride predictably in order to be able to safely share the road with cars, but time and again I was asked about safe bike routes around Norfolk.

So folks, I present the Bike Friendly Norfolk Map:

As I said, this is the beta version. There's still a fair bit of tweaking that needs to be done on the map to make it more user-friendly. If you've got suggestions on routes & such, please let me know. We'll have the final version ready for the Fair Trade Fest, Saturday, December 1st. The Bike Commuting Workshop will be from 11-1.

I also created an online version of the Bike Friendly Norfolk Map on However doesn't allow for selecting route colors, so it's more difficult to convey road information. But if anybody out there is web-savvy enough to do that sort of stuff, let me know...

VA Beach: Bikes on Roof Racks, Not on Roads

It seems like at least once a year I hear about another cyclist getting hit by a car on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, as happened to Maxine Roberts last week. Which reminds me of why Tom Coghill canceled the Celebration of Life bike ride in VA Beach- the municipal government is biased towards cars, and is unwilling to spend the money to actually create safe cycling infrastructure. The safest place for a bicycle in Virginia Beach is on the back of a Hummer.

Folks, if you want to see this sad state affairs change, then you've gotta get out there and do something about it. Riding your bike is a good start. Lobbying city council is even better. Join a cycling advocacy group, and get active!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bike Sex Man Placed On Probation

This whole story just raises too many questions- like, were there no sheep around?

From the BBC...

A [Scottish] man caught trying to have sex with his bicycle has been sentenced to three years on probation.

Robert Stewart, 51, admitted a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex.

Sheriff Colin Miller also placed Stewart on the Sex Offenders Register for three years.

Mr Stewart was caught in the act with his bicycle by cleaners in his bedroom at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr, [Scotland].

Gail Davidson, prosecuting, told Ayr Sheriff Court: "They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply.

"They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white t-shirt, naked from the waist down.

"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

Both cleaners, who were "extremely shocked", told the hostel manager who called police.

Sheriff Colin Miller told Stewart: "In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'."

Stewart had denied the offence, claiming it was caused by a misunderstanding after he had too much to drink.

The bachelor had been living in the hostel since October 2006 after moving from his council house in Girvan, [Scotland].

He now lives in Ayr.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Steve's Race- Tidewater Mountain Bike Challenge, 2007

Show all

Once again, Steve and the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association put on a great race. Even though we had more rain in the week leading up to the race then we had seen in months, the course was still almost as dry as could be, and was a real joy to ride.

I had signed up for the inaugural "Duo-Enduro" category with my buddy Rob, a six-hour tag team race. I've been playing around with on-bike video cameras, and even purchased a little ATC-2K helmet-cam from the guys at Oregon Scientific. I loaded up on batteries and memory cards, and hoped for the best.

My plan had been that while Rob was riding his laps, I would hang out at the pit and get to shoot some footage of the race scene. But not twenty minutes after the start Rob rolled in to the pit and said, "Dude, you gotta ride for me. I think I broke my finger."

"What? You're kidding!"

"Nope, I'm not," Rob said, and pulled off his left glove to expose a compound pinky fracture. Just to confirm that, indeed, bone was jutting out from flesh, some helpful soul walked by and stated, "That's a compound fracture."

One of the volunteers saw the what blood there and blurted out, "Should I call an ambulance?"

"Naah," Rob said, "I can drive to the hospital."

"But shouldn't we do something?" she insisted.

"Well," I offered, "we should elevate his hand above his heart, and maybe splint it."

"What do we use for a splint?" she asked, triggering a flashback to my dog-eared Boy Scout First Aid merit badge booklet,

"Umm, well, we need something hard for a splint. Something about the size of his hand."

"Like what?"

"Well, aah, a water bottle would work."

"OK!" she shouted as she ran over to the check-in table where dozens of commemorative 20th TMBC Anniversary water bottles were lined up.

Meanwhile I got Rob sitted in a chair and fished in my bag for my gaffer's tape. (It's like duct tape, but with a cloth backing & less adhesive.) When water bottle lady returned I told Rob to hold the water bottle in his maimed hand, then taped his hand to the bottle. Someone else sensibly suggested that we should keep his hand cool, so water bottle lady ran to get a bucket of ice. I filled the bottle with ice, then looked at Rob and asked him, "Which hospital are you heading to?"

"Oh, Norfolk General."

"You'll be able to drive."

"Yeah, it's only my left hand. It's an automatic transmission, so it won't be a problem."

All during this time riders were whizzing through the pit, some hopping off their bikes as their waiting teammates started in on their laps. While Rob and I had initially hoped to be able to place decently in the Duo Enduro category, even though we only had 2 gears and 1 suspension fork between us, I realized our competitive hopes had vanished. There was no way that I could compete against 2-man teams by myself. But since Rob had ridden to the pit, he had met the rules for switching riders, and I could technically continue the race as a team. But Rob wouldn't be riding anymore.

So I walked Rob to his Volvo wagon and got his bike on the roof while he settled his kids in the car. I waved him off, then headed back to the pit for my bike.

I rode for the better part of the next 5 hours, stopping to rest and adjust my cameras, generally just having a good time. So let me know what you think...

The YouTube version offers a bigger picture, but it's resampled and compressed more than the blogger version at the top of this post. But I'm including it if you want to watch it in big screen...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Favorite Bike Podcasts

Podcasting, for those who ain't so tech-savvy, is an awesome way to listen to audio content on your own schedule. Instead of having to remember to tune into, say, This American Life, or The Bill O'Reilly Show, you can just subscribe to a podcast through iTunes (look for the "Podcast" menu on the left side, then click the "Podcast Directory" button), download the show to you MP3 player, and listen to it at your convenience.

While there are quite a number of professionally-produced radio shows that are now available in podcast format, there are a whole bunch of amateurs who are getting into the game, too. So here's a round up of my favorite biking podcasts. I've included the hyperlinks to the iTunes podcast URL's, so just click the link and you'll go to the podcast:

The Bike Show from Resonance FM.
Jack Thurston hosts this awesome little show out of London, and covers everything from the latest underground fashions in cycling apparel to transcontinental bike rides. The interview with Sheldon Brown on the history of Raleigh bicycles is a real gem. The Bike Show blog is here.

From the other side of the Atlantic comes Bikescape, an amateur show out of San Francisco. While not as regular as The Bike Show, Bikescape offers a revealing look into West Coast urban bike culture, while also occasionally venturing abroad for visits to velodromes and New York City. The Bikescape blog is here.

The FredCast
The FredCast is oriented towards road riders, and the first twenty minutes of every show is spent recapping the pro tour. If you care about the pro tour, I guess that's a good thing...If you care about latest, newest, and most expensive power meters, GPS navigators, cyclometers, heart meters or integrated power meters/GPS navigators/cyclometers/heart meters, then this is the show for you. Sometimes The FredCast is good, but sometimes it's just annoying. The FredCast blog is here.

The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable

While The FredCast can be a bit much, the same guy also puts together a round table discussion by a rotating cast of bike industry folks. It's usually a pretty amusing ensemble, especially when the mountain bike guys start dissing roadies for doping. Much, much better than The FredCast.

Crooked Cog Podcast
Tim Grahl had a great thing going there for a while, but it's been a few months since he posted a new show. Crooked Cog focused on blue collar mountain biking- no high-end pro stuff, just the gritty basics for the working stiff who likes to ride some singletrack before going home to stinky diapers.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pictures of Abby

We've posted some great new pictures of Abby on Shutterfly. Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Utility Bikes

Just a random sweep of what I've been reading today-

First off, there's an awesome little magazine out of Bozeman, Montana (of all places) by the name of The Practical Pedal. They bill themselves as "The Journal of Practical Bicycling." And fittingly they had advertising for bakfiets, those awesome Dutch utility bikes ("the minivan of bicycles.") Not only can you download the PDF of the latest issue for free, but subscription is free, too!

I guess I know I've passed into middle age when not only is my hairline receding, but the exotic European models I lust after are...utility bikes. Bakfiets are just darn cool, and they're coming to this side of the pond! I'm hoping I might get my hands on one for a test ride...

And then there's this little gem of a blog:
Copenhagen Girls on Bikes.
Oh...Oh, yeah...
There's just something about a thigh-high, stilleto-heeled boot braced onthe pedal of a be-fendered city bike.

Finally, Issue 131 of Dirt Rag is now on the newsstands, and is, as always, worth reading from cover to cover.

Shenandoah 100? Try the Shenandoah 1200!

This just out! The DC Randonneurs Bike Club has announced their first 1,200 kilometer brevet, the Shenandoah 1200! It's an early season 1200, starting on June 5, 2008.

For those not up on brevets, here's the gist of it- entrants must complete a series of preliminary brevets- 200, 300, 400 & 600 kilometers. While brevets are not races, there are checkpoints which riders must pass within a specified time. Riders may only receive assistance at designated checkpoints (no support vehicles en route). Randonneuring is about self-sufficiency and pacing, not team support and racing.

So here's an awesome opportunity for an epic adventure right here in Virginia. The official course hasn't been announced yet, but it'll probably include a bunch of hills, valleys and mountains through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Which means...Sheetz!!! Yes, nothing makes a ride better than a quick snack from a chain of family-owned convenience stores. Remember, It's not Fast Food, It's Better Food Fast.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bike Movie Reviews

Ya gotta love Netflix...When you plumb the depths, you can find some rather obscure stuff. But not everything lying in the rough is a diamond. Read on for some quick reviews of a few recent bike-related films we've watched from Netflix...

The Flying Scotsman
The Flying Scotsman is a fun little film that will keep the cyclist in the house cheering Graeme Obree in his record-breaking rides. The struggles between Graeme and the UCI were explained well enough that I didn't need to pause the movie and fill in the details for my wife. While it's no "Rocky," it certainly ranks amongst the ten best feature-length bike films, although I'm not sure if there are 10 feature-length bike films out there...For bike geeks, the most satisfying scene of the film has got to be Graeme ripping apart his wife's washing machine for the bearings. It's worth Three and a Half Sprockets out of Four.

On the other extreme, we've got...

2 Secondes
2 Secondes could've been a great film, but like the lead character, a female downhill mountain bike racer who returns to her native Montreal, it falters at the gate and doesn't deliver. I don't speak French, but given that the English dialogue was rather stilted and poorly-delivered, I probably didn't miss anything. The bike scenes are decently photographed, but nothing special. At best, this film is a piece of soft-core bike porn: if you're like me, you'll be fast-forwarding through the dialogue to get to the good bits. I give it One Sprocket out of Four.

Then there's...


Now when a film wins at Cannes, you know it's got to be good. However cycling is only a peripheral subject in this revealing portrait of contemporary Vietnam through the eyes of a pedicab driver who turns to the local mob when his bike is stolen. While the movie draws upon the classic Italian film, "The Bicycle Thief," the emphasis in "Cyclo" is on the thief, not the bicycle. Or rather, a den of thieves. Be forewarned- this film is not for the faint of heart- there are some rather bloody scenes. Still worth Four Sprockets out of Four, though.

For an even longer list of bike-related films, check out

Critical Norfolk

So we had over twenty people show up last Friday for Critical Mass, our first in Norfolk in some years. How many years, no one is exactly sure. I remember seeing signs for a Critical Mass when I was first married back in the 20th Century. And there's been a Critical Sass ride occasionally in Ghent. But this was the first Critical Mass ride in a while.

I slapped a couple of cameras on the bike & trailer, so enjoy the show! We'll be taking back the streets again on Friday, October 26th. Wear a costume and celebrate Halloween! We'll meet at 6 pm across from Starbuck's on Colley Avenue.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Critical Mass- Norfolk???

So it's been done before here in Norfolk...why not do it again?

It seems like each day I see a new biker on my way home from work. Why not get out there next Friday for a little Critical Mass ride of our own? Or would it be a Courteous Mass , with Critical Manners?

The last Friday of the month is creeping up on us...if it's gonna happen, someone had better fire up the Xerox machine and post some fliers around town!

Odd Fellows

In one of the odder postal coincidences, the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine and Bicycle Quarterly arrived on the same day:

The cover of Bicycling featured beautiful people posing astride gorgeous bikes in a breathtaking desert (all exposed flesh shaved and oiled, male and female). Whereas the front page article in Bicycle Quarterly was headlined "The Aerodynamics of Real-World Bicycles." And it turns out that in the real world, fenders and handlebar bags actually improve aerodynamic efficiency.

Now, I haven't checked the archives, but I can't remember the last time I saw a review of handlebar bags or fenders in Bicycling Magazine, let alone any aerodynamic testing of real-world components...The testing in Bicycling Magazine seems to consist of gushing enthusiastically about the latest top dollar, variable modulus carbon, ceramic bearing wonder bike. Not that there's anything wrong with those bikes when used for their intended purpose (racing), but the reviews sometimes border on bike porn.

Bicycle Quarterly, on the other hand, actually goes out and tests stuff- proving, for instance, that ceramic bearings have negligible performance benefits. There are no four-color, double-page ads for SUV's, and only the most utilitarian of illustrations. Their wind tunnel article concludes that "experimenting with a lower position- while maintaining comfort- and carefully selecting clothing will provide greater benefits than even the most expensive aero wheels."

It is only the precious few thousands of the randounneuring and touring communities who read Bicycle Quarterly, as opposed the the millions who read Bicycling Magazine, (modestly self-proclaimed the "World's Leading Bike Magazine"). So we need not expect the aero wheel market to collapse, nor will the Aerospoke Crisis of '07 end any time soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Second Video

So I mounted my two Pentax Optio WP cameras to our tandem and trailer before we went out for the weekly Saturday morning C Pace ride from East Coast Bikes. I'm pretty pleased with the results, but let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My First Video

Alright, the ending is kinda choppy, and the editing is MacAmateurish, but I've been itching to try my hand at video. So I mounted a couple of Pentax Optio WP cameras on my Gary Fisher Singlespeed & went for a ride around the block.

Let me know what y'all think...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pure Sweet, What?

A sweet little cylcocross movie...I ain't that much into racing, but this is one fine little video!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bad Daddy

Monday was the last of our East Coast Monday Night rides on road bikes. More often than not Abby's with me on Monday nights, rolling along in her little trailer behind me. But as Abby's gotten bigger, I've found that I can't keep up with the paceline at 20+ mph, especially not if there's anything but a tailwind. So for the last time this year I found myself on a solo, slower shortcut, waiting at an intersection for the light to change, knowing that the fast guys would catch up with me in the next mile or two. I was taking the middle lane behind a couple of cars (the right lane was right turn only), waiting with the rest of the cars for the light to change. But an ambulance came through the intersection just as the light changed for us, and by the time it got through, the light changed again, and we were stuck again. A guy waiting to turn out of the 7-Eleven parking lot had his Subaru SUV pointed straight toward me, apparently waiting to merge in behind me.

He stared at me for a minute, then at Abby's trailer behind me. I didn't think much of it until he asked me, "Is that a baby in that trailer?"


"Is that safe? What if she drops off?"

Drops off? I thought?, Burley trailers do not "drop off." There's a safety strap designed just to ensure that!

But instead of saying what I thought, I merely answered, "She won't."

That's really a baby??"


And then the light turned to green, and I was off, keeping to the right to let the fairly light traffic pass by.

Two miles later, as I pedaled down a quiet two-lane suburban road past an orchard and an elementary school, a Subaru SUV slows down beside me, and I look over to see the safety-conscious driver from the 7-Eleven leaning across the passenger seat as he took a picture with his cell phone. Unbeknownst to me, I had been tailed by an undercover agent of the Suburban Vigilante Safety Patrol (SVSP). As he pulled away from me, only to come to a stop at the light at the intersection a hundred yards ahead, I thought to myself, I gotta find out what gives...

I rolled up next to Mr. Undercover Safety and asked, "Hey man, what's up?"

"I can't believe you're pulling a baby in a trailer, it's not safe!"

"Not safe?"

"It's not safe to pull a trailer on a highway!"

"It's as safe as driving."

"No it's not! What if somebody didn't see you and hit you?"

"Well, what if somebody didn't see your car and hit you?"

"That's not the same. Look, I have a trailer for my kid, but I won't take her anywhere but our neighborhood and dead end streets. You can't bring a trailer out here, it's not safe! I almost didn't see you back there!"

Truth be told, the most unsafe driver I had seen was Mr. Undercover Safety himself, who had been taking a picture of me with his cell phone while driving his car down the double yellow line of a two lane road. And if he hadn't seen me back at the 7-Eleven, then how the heck did he initiate our conversation?

"Hey, green light, time to go, buddy," I instructed as I waved him forward. He turned left onto Northhampton Boulevard (4 lane divided highway, 55mph speed limit), while I went straight onto another quiet suburban street (2 lanes, residential, 25mph) that hooked left and ran parallel to Northhampton Boulevard. I looked over my shoulder to see that Mr. Undercover Safety was now creeping along the shoulder of the highway, pacing me while he talked on his cell phone! Disgusted, I hopped off my bike and dragged Abby's trailer across the grassy shoulder to his car.

"I'm looping around to Northampton Boulevard!" I shouted, although he may not have heard over the raised windows and air conditioning. "If you want to follow me, just look for the group of bikers coming along behind me. You can't miss them!"

He seemed to be trying to ignore me as he talked away to his cell phone. I persisted though,

"Sir, you're creating a traffic hazard! You're going to have to move along now, this is a highway!"

With that I turned around to resume my ride, only imagining what he must be saying on his cell phone:

"Nine One One, what is the nature of your emergency, please?"

"There's a guy on bike riding down Shore Drive!"

"I'm sorry- what is the nature of your emergency, sir?"

"This crazy guy is riding down Shore Drive with a baby trailer!"

"Is he obstructing traffic, sir?"

"No! He's just riding down the road next to the white line! Cars are passing him just fine in the left lane. But you've got to understand he's got a baby trailer. And lights! He's got lights!"

"'Lights,' sir?"

"Yeah, there's like, these red flashies on the back of bike, and a headlight that's so bright I thought he was a motorcycle!"

"I'm sorry sir, but I don't think there's anything we can do."

"But you've got to do something! He's got a safety flag on the trailer and everything!"

Well whaddaya know, 2 miles lat
er he finds me again! Apparently he was listening to me as I shouted at him from the shoulder, because as I was riding through a light industrial park next to the airport, who should cross the intersection in front of me in a slow and purposeful manner but Mr. Undercover Safety! I let go of the handlebars & gave him a big double thumbs up. I really was looking forward to talking to him again, but unfortunately he gave up the chase after slipping into a back parking lot.

So Mr. Undercover Safety, if you're still out there, here's a bicycle safety website for you to check out. According to, less than 2% of the 44,000 traffic deaths last year were cyclists. And cycling is almost 20% safer than driving! According to the Bicycle Almanac,
"An average of 16.5 cyclists per million die every year in the U.S. (For motorists, it's 19.9 motorists per million.)" And finally, according to the British Medical Association, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the traffic risks by a ration of 20 to 1.

Given all that, the odds are that I'll outlive Mr. Undercover Safety and his kid. Yeah, instead of plopping my daughter down in front of the idiot box to watch another episode of Baby Einstein while sipping on Kool Aid and eating Coco Puffs, I took her for a bike ride.

How cruel of me...

Sunday, September 9, 2007 Coast Monday Night Rides

All right folks, it's coming time to put up the skinny-tired road bike and pull out yer fat boy mountain bike!

That's right, we're swapping out road bikes for mountain bikes. Beginning next week, sunset will drop on Norfolk at 7:16 PM. And the week after? 7:05 PM. The days are only gonna get shorter...

So Liz & I, as the official ride leaders, have decided to make the switch. For the next 6 months, here's what we'll expect on the Monday night ride:

1) Mountain or Cross bikes. Alright, we'll make an exception for fat-tired touring bikes. Just don't come out on your 700x18 racing tires. The nocturnal potholes will eat those wimpy tires alive...

2) Helmet. Just wear it...

3) Lights. Both front and rear lights are required. If yer a bike geek and you know it, strap on that helmet light and clip a taillight to yer ass.

4) No iPods. No Aero Bars. You don't need them in the city on an night group ride. Leave 'em at home.

Having said all that, let me make my pitch for my favorite city tire and bike light: Schwalbe Big Apple tires and the Cateye HL-EL530 LED handlbar light. They both just rock, and Mike at East Coast Bikes will be happy to hook you up with both.

As the winter settles in, the Weak shall be Separated from the Crazy, and Yea, a Call shall Issue Forth from my Cellular Phone:

"Are we riding tonight?"

And Lo, I shall Speak Unto My People. And I shall Give Them the Message Given Unto Me by The Great Lord Velo-urge. The Great Lord Velo-urge did Speak Unto Me, and said,

"Speak thus to my people: They shall call unto Thee, and Thee shall say unto them:

'Is it raining? No?
Is it freezing cold? No?
Then we're riding.'"

And now, here's the route:

And finally, a picture of my Big Apples:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fifteen Hours of Misery and Joy

Only about a mile up Hankey Mountain the cramps started in earnest. Everything from my ass down seized up. I tried standing up out of the saddle, but that only made my thighs and calves knot even tighter. Giving up on pedals, I dismounted and started pushing my bike up the mountain...

Oh well,
I thought, glancing down at my legs, at least when my quads are cramping they look really ripped!!

I think my mistake started before the Shenandoah Mountain 100 even began, just after the 5 AM bike-mounted gong and the 5:15 gratuitous fireworks display. I hadn't had all that much water to drink the night before, and in the rush of the morning, I didn't drink anymore water, just a redeye of fresh-brewed espressso and cold-brewed coffee. But I did have a double serving of oatmeal, along with a banana (for cramping), a handful of gorp, and a fresh breakfast burrito courtesy of Bill's girlfriend Dana. So by the time I reached the somewhat chaotic start line, I was fueled and ready for launch, but not sufficiently hydrated.

I didn't see Floyd Landis (or "Loyd Flandis," as he was listed on the registration check-in sheet, right below Liz Schleeper, the top Women's Masters finisher), but then I was more concerned with finding a place to start in the back of the pack. So I lined up behind Shrek. Shrek's a Clydesdale too, right?

Maybe the start was fast and smooth for Loyd Flandis, Chris Eataugh and Sue Haywood, but in the back of the pack, it quickly devolved into a trackstand contest. Still, by the time we hit the iron bridge, we were rolling pretty smoothly.

While I've done trail rides with a dozen or two people, I didn't exactly enjoy my first taste of singletrack in a race. I ended up hiking my bike through technical sections that I know I could have cleared if I'd been riding by myself. But stick a score or two riders in there, and someone's bound to dab and stop at the front of the line, bringing the whole darn thing to a dismount.

Still, I felt strong for the first 32 miles. When I rolled into the first real aid station at Todd Lake, I was happily surprised to see my wife and daughter, Jennifer and Abby, standing in the long line of cheering family, friends and "fluffers" {Chris Scott's term, not mine} along the roadside (thanks Mike & Sally!). I was only running 10 minutes behind my goal time, and I could easily attribute that to two unplanned stops for an issue with my Topeak seatpack. (Long story short- the "Quickclick" mount ain't made for downhill mountain biking, even when backed up by a bungee cord. But that doesn't weaken my faith in seatpacks for the trail.)

It was on the paved section down to Hankey Mountain that my legs started to cramp up. By the time I was climbing Hankey Mountain proper, I was in serious pain. I couldn't ride for more than a hundred yards without my thighs advancing from almost cramping to painfully knotted beyond belief. I'd get off my bike and walk uphill for another hundred yards or so until my calves cramped up. Then I'd get back on my bike and ride until my thighs cramped, too. And so it went, up and over Hankey Mountain.

At Aid Station 3 I guzzled several bottles of water, filled up my Camelbak, lubed the chain and swapped out my rear cog. With the Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB)on my singlespeed Gary Fisher Rig I could switch out cogs on the fly with just a couple of tools. The EBB can accomodate up to a 4 tooth difference, so I was packing a 20 and a 24-tooth cog. In effect, I was riding an old-school doublespeed. But two gears weren't enough to keep the cramps away...

It wasn't until I reached Aid 4 at mile 57 that I had finally hydrated enough to get past the cramps. The two steep climbs had been pretty nasty, what with my exercised-induced asthma. Without enough water in my system, the lactic acids dumped into my legs when I went anaerobic never got flushed out. And when my asthma kicked in, it shoved me right past my aerobic redline, and forcing my muscles to switch from oxygen to lactic acid.

Feel the burn.
Now hold it.
Hold it for five f**kin' hours.
Hold it till everything from yer ass to yer toes spasms.
Now squeeeeze...And repeat.
Feel yer lungs rasp for air.
Wave off the looks of concern from people riding past your pathetic, gasping ass.
"No, no, it's fine. I sound like this all the time."

It wasn't just my legs and lungs that took a toll on the trails. All of the walking up the steep, technical sections did a number on my new Rocket 7 shoes. By the end of the day the front soles were duct taped in place.

While the carbon-fiber footbeds make for the most comfortable shoes I've ever ridden in, the carbon fiber is also apparently a terrible surface for mounting any type of sole. A few pedal strikes on descents, and the sole was primed to be shredded on hike-a-bike ascents. Luckily the guys at Rocket7 said they'd replace my soles under warranty. I've gotta be careful though, cause I don't think they'll do that too many times...

After Aid 4 things got easier, relatively speaking. While Tim and Bill had both warned me about the interminable climb up Shenandoah mountain (almost 17 miles on continuous climbing), I actually enjoyed the long, steady uphill slog. I knew I had to get to Aid 5 atop Shenandoah Mountain before the 6 PM cutoff. After 6, no one would be allowed down the mountain for the last 25 miles to the finish line. I kept moving up the mountain, passing probably a half dozen riders along the way, encouraging them to stick with it. At Aid 5 I mounted my lights on my handlebar and helmet, changed my socks and bandana, topped off my reservoirs, and rolled out within 15 minutes, the wind ripping over the top of the ridge and nipping at my lycra-covered ass. As I was riding along the ridge and just about to start the final descent, an eight point buck, still in velvet, looked up at me, then bounded away before I could even think about grabbing a picture.

The descent down the mountain was just about as challenging as the ascent, but compressed. Whereas when going up the challenge had been to keep my legs moving, during the descent the challenge was to keep my legs still, keeping my body suspended over the bike, ready to absorb any bump or drop. When the trail would open up for a dozen yards or two I'd quickly spin my feet a revolution or two, then resume my grip on the brakes as the next challenge presented itself. After each descent I felt almost as exhausted as I had at the top of the ascents, my arms and brake fingers cramping almost as badly as my legs.

I made it to Aid 6 as dusk was truly falling, and after slipping on a long sleeve jersey to keep the mountain chill at bay, I pushed on.

The last 12 miles were relatively painless, but the exhaustion of riding so hard for so long was creeping over me. Time and again the urge to stop and nap came over me, but I kept it at bay, knowing that if I slept, I'd most likely wake up shivering with hypothermia, and the shivers on top of cramps would definitely be unpleasant. So I slogged on, forcing myself to sip from my Camelbak, even though the lady at Aid 6 had added insufficient water to my pouch of drink mix. The result was syrupy sweet, but I drank it anyway.

While the last singletrack descent into the campsite was made more interesting by the artificial LED lighting, it wasn't any more difficult that our winter night rides at Ipswich. The last challenge on the trail though was man-made. As I came to the end of the trail, some jackass had parked his truck to point the headlights toward his tent, and the trailhead. I was blinded by the headlights, and I couldn't see the dude as he cheered me on, "Keep going, man! You're almost there!"

I couldn't see anything beyond the headlights, such as the course markers I'd grown used to for hundred miles. "Which way do I go?" I asked,

"Keep going, man! Keep going!"

"Which way?" I asked again, then saw a glint of orange to the left. Sure enough, there was a trail marker. I muttered something to headlight dude, then resumed my ride down the hill towards the finish line.

I gotta give credit to Chris Scott for setting up a downhill finish line. No matter how exhausted you may feel after a hundred miles, the downhill still lets you finish fast. A cheer went up as I rode to the line and banged the gong, relieved to have finally finished.

I stumbled back to our tent, and collapsed in a chair, a wave of nausea rolling over me. After fifteen of the most intense hours I had ever experienced in my life, I was finished. And, maybe, ready for more next year.

And now, some random pictures:

My chain after 100 miles and ounces of oil:

My bike comupter & couse profile. The computer reads only 89.5 miles because I pushed my bike uphill for 10.5 miles so slowly that the miles didn't register:

Abby on the drive home:

The pre-race racers' meeting:

Friday, August 31, 2007

Floyd at the Shenandoah 100

Sweet news! Floyd Landis has announced that he will be riding in the Shenandoah 100!

Now I ain't much for hero worship, but I know that just as soon as i get my hip replacement done, I'll be just as fast as Floyd.

seriously though, just about all of my preparations are done. I've got pages of lists, a course profile taped to my handlebar stem and my clothes all laid out. I've even gone so far as to make preparations for the after-party. Jenn kindly loaned me her Beeriodic Table t shirt to wear at the kegs. Yes folks, in addition to being a bike geek, I'm also a beer geek. My geekdom knows no limits...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Around Town on the Tandem

There were a few errands to be run, so we took our Burley Zydeco tandem out of the garage, hooked up Abby's little Burley Solo trailer, and headed off for a family ride.

One of my happiest bike moments was when my phone started buzzing in my pocket while I was waiting to photograph a Chinese delegation in the boardroom. I slipped out to the hallway to hear Jenn ask,

"Are Burley tandems any good?"


"OK. I'm buying one."

We've been riding our tandem as a family ever since Abby was nine weeks old. She loves her trailer, and I'm looking forward to the day she graduates to a trail-a-bike.

Abby & I dropped Jenn off for a meeting, then headed over to East Coast Bikes, where Abby grabbed an unopened can of Red Bull, and proceeded to chew on it.

Don't worry, we're not letting her have caffeine, yet.

Jason and Stacey (?), a couple of new riders to the area, stopped by looking for good routes and rides. So here's a Wayfaring Map I put together of some of the East Coast rides. Any of the marked routes are fairly cycling friendly.

And now for a few random pictures:

The Top Shelf of the fridge. Only premium Yoder's Dairy Milk & Apple Juice.

The bottom shelf of the fridge. Polaroid film. 4x5 film. Vermont Maple Syrup, and Tofurkey kielbasa.


Ever since I was a kid, I've loved to travel.

So I guess it's I should be happy to find myself a job where I can find myself getting up at 3 a.m. for a last minute photo opportunity.

I had to go through the usual expense and hassle of checking a locked, seventy pound Pelican Case filled with a couple of old-fashioned film cameras; a Linhof 4x5 and a Fuji 6x17. And that was in addition to the Nikon D2x that I carried on to the plane. Both the trip there and back were sold out, but I won the seating lottery assignment on the way down & got assigned to Seat 4A in First Class!

While I still enjoy shooting with film, what I really had fun with though was my little Pentax Optio w10 point & shoot. The film cameras were work cameras, but my little point & shoot digicam was my fun camera. I've been frustrated by the lack of a wide-angle lens on it, even though I really enjoy just about everything else about it- it's waterproof, shoots great 6mp images at up to 3fps, really small, and has a nice jelly cover that provides extra grip and cushioning.

The Pentax Optio line wasn't designed with pro photographers in mind. How I wish it had a Manual Mode! There are 20 other modes, from pet portrait to self-portrait, on the thing, but no Aperture or Shutter Priority. Oh well.

Anyway, I figured out that by setting the focus to manual, I could shoot in burst mode at 3fps, even in low light situations. Which means that in one fell swoop I can shoot the raw files for a digital panoramic mosaic! So here are a few shots. If you want to view them in greater detail, check out my new Flicker Page.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

0839hrs- Oh %#$@!

So there I was, changing lanes in East Ocean View when I heard the deadly whistle of my front tire deflating at 25 mph.

Immediately behind me is a 25 pound trailer with an extra 50 pounds of dumb bells. There's a crack of plastic on asphalt, a bounce in my periphery vision.

I keep my hands on the grips and squeeze my brakes slowly. I glance down briefly to see that, yes, I'm riding rim. As I focus back on the road, I notice that my Cateye handlebar light is missing.

So that's the culprit
, I think to myself.

I wobble to a stop next to the well-manicured median of flowering bushes that welcomes the intrepid to East Ocean View. The car that was a comfortable hundred yards behind me passes by with a roar. I look back and can see my Cateye light scattered across the left lane.

That's fifty bucks back there on the road that I can't afford before the race!

Shoot, my best rechargeables are in there, too. That's eighty bucks lying in the road.


I grab the yellow flag off the back of my B.O.B. trailer and run down the median. My initial concern is simply materialistic- I don't want to have to buy a new light. But I'm also worried about my fellow bikers- we don't need any more road debris.

Sixty seconds later, the East Coast team comes flying down the other side of the road, and the sight of me waving my yellow flag on the side of the road brings them to a stop,

"Are you alright?" Rob calls out,
"Can we help?

"Yeah, yeah you can! I lost my light! Fell off. On the road. Pick up pieces."

Sixty seconds more, and two (three?) police cruisers were pulling out onto Ocean View. An officer rolled down his window and asked from the other side of the median, lights flashing, "Are you alright?'

"Front tire. Flat. Light fell off. Trying to find pieces."

Firefighters and paramedics were leaving the restaurant in the strip mall behind him, hopping into their trucks, the diesel engines rumbling to life.

"But are you alright?" the cop asked me again?

"Uh. Yeah. Yeah. I'm OK. Bike's OK. Light's broken."

With that the cop smiled and rolled off. The paramedics went back to their breakfast. Somebody picked up a circuit board from the road and handed it to me. I rolled my bike over the median and into the parking lot. Said my thanks. got ready to do another roadside repair.

First step in tire repair- loosen the retaining nut on the tire stem. Problem was, there was no stem left.

I had hit one of the new reflectors along the line between the lanes, and at 25mph and 90psi, that was enough to knock my Cateye light off its mount underneath the handlebar. On its way to the pavement below the light took out the tire stem.

Now I've caught flak from some of my faster Tri-Power buddies because my tool pouch is bigger than my ass, but I was happy to be able to pull out one of the mini Gerber tool stocking stuffers from my Mom (Christmas '05).

That little nut wouldn't budge by finger, but those Gerber pliers did the trick. I was installing a new tube when another biker stopped to see if I needed help,

While I pumped up my tire, Betty Jean told me how she got her right pedal fixed by Mike at the new Ocean View shop for five bucks. She knew all about East Coast Bikes.

So by now, you're probably wondering why the heck I was carrying a light in the first place. I had started my last big training ride for the Shenandoah 100 at 6 AM, before the sun had really risen.

My plan had been to leave Norfolk at 6 AM and meet Jenn and Abby at the Quaker Meeting on Laskin Road by 10, giving me enough time to do a quick clean up in the handicap bathroom. I was gonna ride for 4 hard hours with a 70 pound trailer behind me for added resistance. It was still a good training ride, but not the one I had anticipated.

Liz and I joke about how we know the Monday night riders by their bikes and jerseys and helmets and sunglasses. But I'm terrible with names, and I gotta use memory tricks to remember them. I apologize for not knowing the names of all y'all who helped me out. But thanks, guys! And big thanks to the Norfolk Police and Fire Departments. I didn't need y'all, but you were there if I did!