Sunday, May 28, 2006


Happiness is an organized garage. I spent a couple hours moving stuff around this afternoon and ended up with this. Insert contented sigh here.

my garage

Date: May 26
Mileage: 19
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 275
Year to date mileage: 1462

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Liberty Seguros pulls sponsorship

If you haven't been following the Giro lately, you may have missed the big bombshell that dropped today. Liberty Seguros announced Thursday it's immediately ending its multi-million-dollar sponsorship with the ProTour team while Spanish authorities are reporting that as many as 200 riders and athletes could be implicated in a widespread doping network. Liberty made a good faith effort to support the sport of cycling. Roberto Heras was caught red-handed with EPO last year, and they stood by the team. But when the team manager himself, Manolo Saiz, was caught with a bag of frozen blood and over 60,000 Euro that was the end of their short lived foray into sponsoring pro cycling.

There's a part of me that understands why cyclists do it. It's the part of me that's currently tired. Tired of riding, tired of working, tired of doing much of anything right now. I need a break. Pro riders need breaks too. But when you're getting paid big money to ride your bike, you get on and ride. And you ride through the pain, and the tiredness. And maybe you think it's OK to just take a little something. Something to take the edge off, help you get over the hump. Plus, nearly everybody else is doing it. How else can they compete at this level?

There's also a part of me that's pissed off. It's so damn stupid, this constant shadow that pro cycling has to labor under. Every time the cycling community seems to be putting out a consistent 'doping is bad' message something like this seems to come along and pull the rug out from under that. Like the Festina fiasco in 1998. And countless other smaller charges. Like Heras. Don't they get it? If this keeps up, more and more sponsors may pull a Liberty and pull out. There won't be a pro cycling circut left to compete on.

And who gets hurt? Everybody. Last year Alexandre Vinokourov, tired of playing second fiddle to an aging Jan Ullrich, jumped ship from T-mobile to Liberty Seguros hoping to become the main contender for his team in July in the Tour. The plucky little bastard was a thorn in many of the Tour's GC leaders on more than one occasion, and that was without his team's full support. Imagine how much fun it was going to be to watch him attack with a team surrounding him. But now that Seguros is out, it's questionable whether he'll even get the opportunity to ride in the Tour this year. Odds are good that if he does, it won't be as the lead rider for a team but instead back in a supporting role. This lessens the race for everybody, athletes and fans alike.

It's hard to say whether sport can truly be drug free in this day and age. There are so many enhancers being developed, and it's impossible to test for them all. Barry Bonds just surpassed Babe Ruth's home run record. In the eyes of many, it will be a tainted record because of his drug use. Mark McGuire is living with the same issue. If Lance Armstrong is ever proven guilty of doping, legions of fans will villify him. But it was probably the same back at the original Olympics, and even further back when the first caveman decided to race his buddy to that tree over on the next hill. I'm sure that, while EPO and anabolic steroids didn't exist, since the beginning of sport athletes have looked for an edge. Whether it was something as simple as trying to get a slight advantage at the starting line in a foot race to spending millions of dollars doing wind tunnel testing of bicycles and riding positions. We're human beings, and to some level or another we're competitive by nature. It just seems that we never know when to say it's too much. Another human trait, I guess.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

E85 rant

My dearest Nancy made me watch 4 hours worth of 10.5: Apocalypse between Sunday night and last night. It's our special bond. She loves the campy disaster movies and I make fun of them with her. According to NBC's website the entire movie was filmed in High Definition, which "achieves a whole new level of visual affects and style that has not previously been achieved on network television." Frankly, they should probably work on their HD technique if they want people to buy more HDTV. I thought most of the effects (I hesitate to use the adjective 'special' in this case) were low quality CGI. I actually turned to Nancy at one point and said, "That effect could have been a little more special."

After watching four hours of any major network, it's pretty easy to see who's paying their bills. The big push we both noticed came from Chevy. And Chevy, in a desperate attempt to convince people that buying gigantic SUVs is still OK, is pushing E85 like there's no tomorrow. This prompted several discussions between us about how much petroleum it really takes to make E85. We both knew it was a fair amount. It turns out it's damn near 1 to 1. Hillary Clinton wants to have E85 at half of the gas stations in the U.S. by the year 2015. But does this make sense? Not really, according to The Oil Drum (nicely summarized by Cyclelicious below:

Our annual gasoline consumption is up to almost 140 billion gallons. That means on a BTU equivalent basis, converting the entire US corn crop into ethanol would amount to 13.4% of our annual gasoline demand. It takes 77,228 BTUs of fossil fuel inputs to make 83,961 BTUs of "green, renewable" ethanol. That means that in reality, using our entire corn crop would only displace 1% of our annual gasoline consumption. We can't possibly produce enough E85 to justify putting in all those pumps.

OK, so maybe it's just a fair trade. But E85 burns cleaner than oil, so that should make it better even if it's no more efficient, right? Perhaps. I might buy that arguement if there were more than 700 places in the entire country where you can buy E85 (200 are in Minnesota alone, leaving approximately 10 stations for each of the remaining 49 states). So even if your new Silverado is E85 ready, you can't hardly buy the stuff if you want to. And the best part? E85 is actually decreasing the overall fuel economy of the average car. How? This is a two part answer.

The first part involves Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE). CAFE, in simple terms, mandates that the cars made by a manufacturer need to meet an average MPG of 27.5 mpg. So for every 14mpg Silverado that gets manufactured, the company needs to make a 41 mpg Aveo to offset it. Under the Alternative Motor Fuels Act (AMFA), auto manufacturers receive a 1.2 mile per gallon credit toward their CAFE requirements. So instead of making that Aveo get 41mpg, now it only needs to get 39.8. But since E85 isn't widely available, most of these vehicles are running on plain old gas. And the manufacturers know this will be the case. So they design the cars to run better on gas than on E85. Wouldn't want somebody to buy an E85 vehicle, not be able to find E85, put regular in and then think the performance sucks. So the 1.2 mpg credit simply amounts to vehicles that have an average CAFE of 1.2 mpg less.

The second part, where it really gets fun, is when people actually do make an effort to use E85. "The flex-fuel Chevrolet Impala equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine gets an EPA-estimated 23/31 mpg (city/highway) on gasoline and 16/21 mpg when burning E85" according to Plus E85 costs more, mile per mile. estimates that if gas costs $3 per gallon, E85 would need to be priced at $2.15 per gallon for a motorist to break even due to the decreased mileage.

So Chevy, thanks but no thanks on the Flex Fuel Vehicles. I'll keep burning up brontasaurauses until somebody comes up with something better. And riding my bike.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bike to Work recap

All in all, I thought Bike To Work Day was a great success. Many of the vendors ran out of food and drink, which to me indicates that there were more people there than they planned for. I was lucky enough to get a cup of Peace Coffee before it ran out, plus a granola bar and a spinach gorgonzola quiche bite from Birchwood. I didn't end up with nearly as much free stuff as last year. There were no multi-tools and no water bottle giveaways that I saw. No t-shirts either.

The prizes that were being drawn were way better this year than last year. Kevin won a water bottle. While it may not sound like much, it was the first drawing-type event he had ever won. And it truly does pay to be present to win. There were many folks whose names were drawn but were not there to claim their prizes. As a result the organizers had a surplus of prizes. They drew names for quite some time before finally opening it up to anybody who was left. After just about everybody in attendance had gone up, I visited the prize table. I ended up with a $25 gift certificate to Trailhead Cycling. It should be a good excuse to ride up to Champlin some weekend.

It was great to have Kevin show up (even though he wasn't working that day) and it was also great to finally meet Karl. I also enjoyed meeting the other riders, most of whose names I don't remember. City Counselman Peter McLaughlin was on the ride too. We set a great pace, riding about 15mph all the way in. While I'm no slouch on the bike, Kevin and Karl made me feel a bit like a slacker by riding their single speed and fixies, respectively. I've got the parts, I really need to single out the Raleigh. The gears on it aren't doing any good anyway. Either that or I need to get serious about getting the orange Gitane rolling. Now that I've got an extra wheelset I don't have an excuse not to.

Because it's not only bike to work day, but also Bike Home From Work Day I took the long way home. I crossed over the river at Franklin Ave and rode East River Road home rather than taking West River Road. It adds about 5 miles to my commute by sending me down Shepard Road to 35E and then down into Lilydale. But it was a beautiful afternoon and the change of scenery was welcome. It's nice to mix it up a little every once in a while.

Date: May 19
Mileage: 30
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 256
Year to date mileage: 1443

Thursday, May 18, 2006

God I love people

So I'm riding down 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis this morning. I'm coming up on 3rd Ave, which is where lots of cars turn right. I'm in the right lane, as there's no bike lane on this street. As we approach the corner, there's a car who want's to turn right. Problem is, he's not in the right lane. So of course, he cuts me off. It wasn't one of those 'so close I about crap myself' cut offs, but more of an annoying 'why couldn't you just wait and pull in behind me' cut offs. The light changes to green and he starts his turn. Because he cut me off, I'm right behind him. But, there's a pedestrian who wants to cross. So he slams on the brakes. I rear ended him. Not hard, just enough to make his eyes get really big in the rear view mirror. His plastic bumper made quite a racket, but no harm done. Fool.

Date: May 18
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 226
Year to date mileage: 1413

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Friday's Bike to Work routes

Because the TMO site is just a tad disorganized, in my opinion, here are the official starting points for the six Minneapolis Bike to Work day routes this Friday. And if you're lucky enough to live in North Minneapolis, you get to ride in with the fittest Mayor in America, R.T. Ryback himself, on the newly striped North Minneapolis bike lanes.

Routes and starting points:
North Minneapolis - Webber Park
NorthEast Minneapolis - The Quarry Mall
Midtown/Cedar Lake - Hoigaard's parking lot/Midtown Greenway trailhead
South Minneapolis - Bryant Ave S & Minnehaha Parkway
SouthEast Minneapolis - Minnehaha Park pavilion
Park Avenue - Park Ave S & Minnehaha Parkway
University Avenue - University Ave & Prior Ave (Menard's parking lot)

Here is a link to some very nice PDF documents that contain a map of each route, and also the written directions as well.
Bike Route Maps

On a completely different note, today was gorgeous. Temps were in the upper 60s-lower 70s, sort of cool if you're just standing around but perfect if you're active. Mostly sunny skies, and a 10-15 mph tailwind. The kind of days cyclists dream about. It doesn't get any better than this.

Date: May 17
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 201
Year to date mileage: 1388

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Filthy Sanchez

When it comes to facial hair, I've done it all. Moustache, goatee (both half and full goat), Frazier Crane-style beard, full beard, 90210-style sideburns, giant porkchop sideburns, mutton chops. The gamut. The full spectrum. When my wife and I first met, I was clean shaven. Or, clean shaven by my standards. Meaning no cultivated hair arrays of the type mentioned above. But daily shaving? Not so much. When my wife to be saw a picture of me with a goatee (taken at approximately 4:00am after drinking waaay too much beer) she promptly told me I could never grow a goatee again. A few years later I did, and she actually learned to like it. I'm back to (mostly) bald at the current moment. Probably OK for someone who works in Corporate America and has frequent interactions with members of the PTA.

However, I like change. A week or so ago my wife was on the phone with somebody and I heard her say, "I told Pete he can never grow a moustache." Hmmm, sounds like a challenge doesn't it? But she's safe in this instance. I have a picture, buried somewhere, of me with a moustache. It's not good. I don't need to carry the picture with me, a la Jimmy James (Yep, that is me with a mustache. I carry this with me whenever I can, so if I ever get the urge to make myself over, I just look at this, and damn near throw up.) because I can remember the details quite clearly. I'm sitting on a couch in my friend Tim's apartment. I'm wearing a paper sombrero from some local Mexican place. I had a bottle of Pfeiffer in my hand. It is damn near enough to make me throw up.

So in an effort to quash any potential leaning toward growing hair, I finally put the moustache bars on the Schwinn.

Date: May 30
Mileage: 14
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 289
Year to date mileage: 1476

National Bike to Work Week

So here we are in the midst of National Bike Month (coincidentally, it's also National Masturbation Month). This week is also Bike to Work Week in Minneapolis. Show your bike helmet at the Lake Calhoun Whole Foods Market and get a free breakfast snack. And finally, Friday is National Bike to Work day. If you live in the Minneapolis area and can drag yourself out of bed in time to get to a meeting point by 6:45, join one of the organized rides into downtown Minneapolis. As mentioned before, I'll be leading the route coming from Minnehaha Park. And there was much rejoicing.

So here we are, within spitting distance of the biggest bicycle commuting day of the year. And the first day in recent memory that there has been no rain and the sun actually shone. And I drove.

I had great intentions. I had my jersey and bike shorts on this morning. But then my kids started telling me that the book fair and art fair at the school was tonight. So I changed into business attire and drove. Sure, I could have ridden to the park-n-ride and caught the train in the morning and the evening, but I didn't trust myself. If I had gotten off work this afternoon and found it as beautiful as it was I don't think I could have stayed on the train. Can you blame me?

Date: May 15
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 176
Year to date mileage: 1363

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another Kinky Milestone

Mr. Friedman moves one step closer to the November ballot today as his campaign turned in 169,574 signatures, more than three times the amount required to get him on the Texas Governor's ballot.

I've been following Kinky's campaign for over a year. My good friend Sparky hooked me into reading some of Kinky's books. They're really quite enjoyable, if you're into off the wall mysteries. And, having lived in Minnesota during the whole Jesse Ventura administration I'm always for having some wacko for your governor. It makes following politics much more fun. So if you live in Texas, vote Kinky!

Date: May 10
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 151
Year to date mileage: 1338

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mmmm, sweet and nutty

One of the perks of bicycle commuting that people tout is that you lose weight. With all the excitement about gas prices lately, this is running a distant second in reasons to commute by bike, but it's still a constant contender. However, what people never talk about is the fact that you can eat, a lot, without gaining weight. And even worse, you want to eat. All the time. I'm constantly hungry. I don't seem to be losing weight, but I'm not gaining either. And I don't always make the best choices when it comes to food. But I try.

Case in point. I notice that when I get to work in the morning after riding 12 miles, I'm a bit peckish. Never mind that I ate breakfast just before leaving home. I could eat again. We have a cafeteria on the main floor of our building. They have yummy things like eggs, hashbrowns and sausages. We also have a convenience store which has yummy things like chips. I try to avoid both places. It's easier if I know I have a little something I can nibble at my desk.

A few weeks ago I started buying some trail mix to keep at home. Each day, when I would make my lunch I would pack a little snack bag of trail mix. I would then eat this at my desk in the morning while reading my e-mail. The advantage of this system was that I had built in portion control. Once the little baggie was empty, I was done. The disadvantage of this system was that my wife and children also like trail mix and I would find my supply chain unexpectedly interrupted (Who ate all my trail mix?!). So, change of plan. To keep the goodies all to my selfish self, I could either invest in a locking cupboard or bring them to work. A locking cupboard seemed a little too drastic, so I now have a bag of Planters Sweet & Nutty on my desk.

Remember portion control? I do too, but it's a hazy memory. My 21 ounce bag of Sweet & Nutty has decreased in size by about 50% in three days. It's just way too easy to reach for "just one more" handful when it's sitting right there on my desktop. I admit it, I'm weak. I'm powerless over the little Planters Peanut guy.

Date: May 5
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 76
Year to date mileage: 1263

Date: May 8
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 101
Year to date mileage: 1288

Date: May 9
Mileage: 25 (barring no issues on the way home tonight)
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 126
Year to date mileage: 1313

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Shoes

Somebody in the comments the other day (Hi Sparky!) said I should post a picture of the Schwinn with the new rims. I did take some photos the other night while I was changing the rims out, but none of them came out very well. I guess that's what you get when you take pics with a point and click digital camera in a garage that's lit by one 75 watt bulb.
schwinn premis campagnolo rims

Date: May 2
Mileage: 26
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 1212

Date: May 3
Mileage: 25
Ride type: Commute
May mileage: 51
Year to date mileage: 1237

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ironman Ride Report

Yes, it was wet. Yes, it was chilly. But neither of these things even comes close to the horror that was The Wind. While catching up on blogs this morning, many folks had not so nice things to say about the conditions at the Ken Woods Memorial on Saturday:

"Weather was crap, rainy, 45deg, 10-20mph winds. Absolutely miserable from start to finish" - Red Lantern
"It's 2 o'’clock, temps are hovering around 45-50 degrees, the wind is kicking hard out of the East at maybe 18-20 mph and the rain is steady." - Pete
"Misery index, on my own personal scale of 1-10, with ten being the most miserable and one being only slightly miserable: 36" - Shannon
"The Cat 1/2 men's race had started with 25 dudes, and only 7 of them finished." - Gilby
"Pain." - Tuffy

100 miles to go
I wanted to keep my computer dry for this ride, so I rubber-banded a ziploc baggie over the top of it once I got in to Lakeville. I rode up to the High School, laid my bike down, went inside and registered. By this time, it was five minutes before 8. Way too late to start a Century on a day like today. When I got back to my bike, my baggie had already been blown off. So much for keeping the computer dry.

In retrospect, I should have ridden the 62 mile route. When I started off we had a superb tailwind. About 1 mile after the 62/100 mile route split I wanted to take advantage of that tailwind and I went to the big ring in front. And promptly threw the chain. I tried to tweak the front derailleur a bit but couldn't get it to work correctly, so I rode to the first rest stop in the small ring. The guys from Hoigaard's fixed me up and I rolled out of Jordan at 9:30, averaging 16.5mph so far according to the long-suffering bike computer.

77 miles to go
I rode that big tailwind to Belle Plain and was out of that rest stop by 10:30. So far, a great day. Belle Plain to Montgomery is mostly south, but the wind was coming East/Southeast and while it wasn't a full-out headwind it was certainly an attitude adjustment. But I made it to Montgomery in decent time. And so did the guy who rode my wheel for somewhere between 5-10 miles. Not once did he offer to take a pull out front. As a matter of fact when we were going downhill, he apologized for passing me. He said he had "good bearings" and didn't want to hit the brakes. Once his downhill momentum was lost he tucked back in behind me. By the way, even though no thanks were offered, you're welcome.

44 miles to go
When I hit the next rest stop, water was starting to condense inside the computer housing and I couldn't read the clock any longer, but my average had only dropped to 14.6mph. To this point, I hadn't looked at a route map so I wasn't sure where I was. Inside I talked to some guy riding the 62 mile route who was, in retrospect, hopelessly lost. But since the 100 mile and 62 mile routes were supposed to converge for the first time in Lonsdale, I figured that's where I was. I looked at the map, figured I could gut out the next 20 miles into the headwind and then the last 15 would be cake.

I ran into the nameless wheelsucker at the rest stop. He said he had stopped to call in the sag wagon for somebody on the side of the road. And again, it felt like he was apologizing to me for not drafting behind me. Had there even been a slight show of appreciation, I might have waited for him. But as it was I finished my snack and headed out.

34 miles to go
Imagine my disappointment when I actually reached Lonsdale. I took a closer look at the map and realized that I had another 20 miles of eastward suffering ahead. And since the last 10 miles had felt like 20 I was a little disheartened. My bike computer was no help for the time or mileage at this point, but the clock in the Legion said it was 2:10. I made it with only 20 minutes before this rest stop was scheduled to close. I thought about calling it right there. The mental adjustment from 15 miles of no headwind remaining to 20 miles of headwind plus 15 was just about too much. I sat around and thought, and talked to a couple other guys. And I rolled out again.

As I headed out of Lonsdale I met up with Dennis. As we headed south for a few miles we chatted and talked about how long the day had been. Dennis had about 20 years on me, and had ridden a total of 70 miles this year before the Ironman. And he was suffering. As we turned into the wind he tucked in behind me. And he stayed there for the rest of the ride. I kept telling Dennis (and myself) that once we made it to Dundas we were home free. The route starts to turn north at Dundas, and while it's still a crosswind, it's not a headwind. We made Dundas and we made the last rest stop in Northfield right at 4:00, it's scheduled closing time. We stopped, talked and refueled and headed out again.

15 miles to go
The wind had been shifty all day. It mainly came out of the east, but earlier it was East/Southeast and now it felt more East/Northeast. The last 15 was harder than I thought it would be, but we made it in. There was one point where Dennis just completely bonked. One minute he was there behind me and the next minute I looked over my shoulder and he was probably 1/4 of a mile back. Cooked. I thought about just riding on. After all, I'd pulled him through the worst of it. But he'd helped me too. Not by pulling through the wind, but it was nice to have somebody ti commiserate with and something else to think about other than the repetitive squishing sound my soggy neoprene booties made rubbing on the crankarm. And, more times than I can count, he had thanked me for pulling in the wind. I stopped and waited.

As we approached Lakeville, I told Dennis that we were within 5 miles to keep his (and my) spirits up. He said that all he wanted was to not be pulled in by the sag wagon. We rode into Lakeville and up to the high school together at 5:45, 15 minutes after the course was officially closed. We grabbed our shirts and pint glasses, shook hands and went our separate ways, home to our families.

This was my first century. It took way longer than I ever thought it would, and it was way harder than I thought it would be. Nearly 10 hours on the bike on a cold, wet, windy day means I'm still sore today. But not as sore as I thought I would be. And I know now that I can ride a century. And if I can ride this one, in these conditions, I should be able to do just about anything.

Date: April 30
Mileage: 100?
Ride type: Ironman, baby!
April mileage: 482
Year to date mileage: 1186