Monday, April 12, 2010

Your floating jukebox stuck on "I'll get you" So lost at sea, yeah, so lost at sea

I'm sorry everyone, due to forces outside my control (though mostly due to forces entirely in my control) I've totally flaked on updating for a month.

It's not for lack of content, though. Since the last update I've done plenty of stuff with a high blogability quotient.

The King of Burlingame mountain bike time trial began auspiciously enough, with a quick drive (with Danna Montana at the wheel) and the most brutal race number everbut it pretty much went downhill from there. On the first warm-up run of the course, I got a front flat. There were some guys from a nearby shop that were both on 29ers as well, so one of them was nice enough to give me a tube and a pump (I was unprepared from calamity, and too busy being aero in my skinsuit to think of it). About 10 minutes into the race run, my chain decided it really didn't want to stay where I put it, so sharp accelerations were out, but it's all good. Those great big wheels aren't about accelerations, they're about bombing over/through all that is ahead. Got a nice rhythm going, passed some guys, and then I heard the unique hiss of a slow leak. I made it to the first disembarking point, checked my tire and it seemed like it had enough air still in it to finish the race. I spun down the road, turned left back onto the trail and started.....KABLAMMO....pedaling. Proper flat now. Time to run. Good thing I did all that cyclo-cross, running in bike shoes kinda sucks. I get a good ways downon foot (let's say a mile or so, I have no sense of distance running), and get passed by a number of other racers (most of whom appreciate my number at least). Then, as a testament to how awesome the atmosphere is at MTB races, the other guy from the shop on a 29er chucks me his Camelbak with a pump and tube inside. (not my Camelbak). Massive karma points for that guy. So I fix the flat, lope to the end on my muddy, injured big wheel bike, and cross the line. I give the guy his Camelbak and head back to Dan's car for the ride back. He said it may just be what happens the first time one does this race, as the year before, a winning time was taken away from Dan by a shattering carbon seatpost. On the plus side, I did feel fast before everything were pear-shaped. I'll be back, Burlingame. Please be gentle.

I went back to Dan M's pump track, which I'm getting closer and closer to doing right (gotta get used to the little wheel bikes, and the not pedaling). It's very spiritual, this pump track business, it really has to flow through you. Dan and Karl are both quite magical on the thing, Bryan was there too. I could certainly see myself becoming a much better bike-handler in general if I can get the hang of it. Hucker Joe would probably be really good on it too, which is why he should come out here...

Even Jesse came to visit from California.

The IBC Newton Summer 2008 gang was in partial effect, as it was Jesse, Arjun, and I in the Hyundai going to the Chris Hinds Criterium at Ninigret in Charlestown, RI. The weather was pretty excellent at the course, which is one I always enjoy when I'm out there (it's a purpose built crit course, how cool is that?).

It went pretty well for everyone, I only ended up with 14th, but I felt like it was more a result of getting boxed in than anything else. My couple of laps of the front were captured by Jesse (on Arjun's DSLR) and I swear, there were a whole bunch of them. They just unfortuantely happened too early. Or too late.

At Wells the next day I got 4th by being out of the mess of the corner sooner, so there could be something there.

In non-bikeness, I saw How to Train your Dragon with Jason in 3D, and I have to say, the use of 3D space has really improved, even since 3 years ago. It doesn't seem like an afterthought as it sometimes has. It's really spectacular, especially in the mesmerizing POV flight sequences and gorgeous vistas. The movie was pretty good on the whole too, certainly better than Monsters v. Aliens, though I still may have liked Kung Fu Panda more. Overall a very good effort from Dreamworks. Recommended.

I won the B-race at Wells Ave most recently, which is probably just a way for the gods to force a new blogpost. I went for a break at like 8 laps to go (right after a prime), and nobody came with me except one of the guys from the prime, who soon dropped off. I figured I'm out there to train so I TTed the remaining 6 laps on my own and won. I didn't realize I was so stealthy, quite a few people didn't know I was off the front. Oh well, there goes the element of surprise....or does it...

Thanks to Scott Cole Coaching for the speed involved in this blogpost's shenanigans.

Also, the Bontric Carbolus is the fastest wheel ever. That is all.

For this week's video, I was between a few, but I ended up choosing this, sorry about the ad, and the not being able to seek.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lord, See that cat, Yeah I do mean you

Delays are all sparkles and sunshine, but I couldn't let a whole month go by without a single post, So here's February. Certainly once racing starts again, I'll have more motivation to write.

Which is to say, it sort of just did. I did an indoor TT on Sunday, and I do like me some TTs, indoor or otherwise.

I got there quite early so I warmed up for about an hour, rather than the intended 40ish minutes, but then it was time to get up on the Computrainer. there were two groups of 8 trainers and I was in the back right. Coach Scott said to keep it in control around 300 watts for the first half of the 10k, but in all the frenzy of bringing my wheel up to speed I was floating around 400w and in second place in my group. Dan Barry and Jeff Bramhall were there cheering me on and there was no looking back so I spent some quality time in the pain cave and won my group, coming in 3rd in the heat. It was a good time and my thanks go out to all those involved in putting it on.

Richard Fries said I was probably making considerably more power than appeared on the screen but more went to twisting my bike every which way then cranking the pedals (a big engine with no mounts). Certainly I've never been a model of grace on a bike (more of a blunt instrument), but he gave me a couple of solid tips I'll try to put into action.

Whole bunch of new bike/bike stuff news too.

I am giving Bontrager's new saddles my full honest placeholder endorsement. I've got them on both road bikes and the Africabike now, and they're super comfy. Bonus points for apparant durability, it takes a crash for them not to look brand new.
I now have a 29er, an ex-demo baby blue Gary Fisher Paragon, which should be nice and fast, and because the HKEK's drivetrain was in dysfunctionland, I've turned that into a single-speed, which means I've joined two MTB cults in one week.

On the road front, the magic wheel I mentioned in the last post is done, so I can divulge more about it. It's a DT/Bontrager hub (as used in the Aeolus) laced to a mk1 Mavic Cosmic Carbone rim with 14 DT Aerolite spokes and two double butted spokes (Fulcrum style). It shall be known henceforth as the Philbrook-Meyer-Leas Bontric Carbolus, or Pheystricolus for short. Expect to see it on the road soon. Jesse has some Cosmic Carbones which he really likes, and these should ride like Cosmics, just with the awesome raised to 12 (it's one more than 11, which is one more than 10). I'm sorry that Jesse isn't a link, I honestly couldn't think of one in time. Next time.

I also got an amazing new hat and an equally amazing new bobblehead (Thanks Jason).

For this week's video, it's the Alaska Nanooks intro video, and no words could suffice. Brace yourselves:

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's always showtime here at the edge of the stage

I know, it's been a long time, but I'm listening, I'm here for you, and ...a placeholder continues to hold places in 2010, bigger, badder, and chewier than ever.

For the most delayed Ice Weasels related blog update on the whole of the internet I'll keep it brief, as lots has been said and it's not fresh on anyone's mind. It was super excellent, snowy, and fun. But cold. I got to park next to the porta-johns. My race was won by a guy on a Surly Pugsley. HUPcakes are delicious.

In a sad follow up to the last post, it would appear I'll never end up driving that killer looking new Saab 9-5. I'm supposed to get some literature about it in the mail but I imagine they ultimately didn't sent it. Rumor has it the car will live on as a Buick (it's sensible not to discard a fully cooked product before it's released) and despite evidence of a corking new lineup in the wings, it's GM and I have full faith they'll screw it up. Prove me wrong, GM, prove me wrong.

Winter is the time for side projects, and it certainly is the winter. Cross season is over, the city (and Africabike) are covered in salt.
A whole bunch of the side projects are bikey in nature. The Bianchi is now properly winterized with full fenders and lights. Dan M and I repacked the BB and now it's good to go. This week is set to get back over 30° so maybe I'll ride outside.

For the other prong of my two-pronged training solution, I am set to the gills with all sorts of awesome Cycle-Ops equipment. The key bit is my awesome new rear wheel, which is laced up to a Powertap SL+. It's super cool to get wattage, (rear-wheel) speed, cadence, and time without any kloogy sensors or wires. It's the bee's knees.

To know what I'm supposed to do, Coach Scott Cole (who really needs a website) puts all the goodness on Trainingpeaks. Even if you're not getting coached, it's an easy way to keep track of your training and the version with ads is free.

The last bike project I'll mention, this one still in the works, is my dreamy new front road wheel. Without divulging too much, I'll just say it's a theoretically excellent Franco-Swiss synergy, and you know I love good synergy. It's 16.3% more excellent than you think. More about that later.

I did finally get a new subwoofer for my receiver and so far, the tidy cubbyhole it's living in doesn't have any annoying resonances going on. Sadly, I no longer have the cable station that shows Die Hard on loop so I'll have to find something else to properly assess the boom-boom.

Also, I bought an iPod Touch from Seth. I'm not generally an Apple guy but the price was right and this is a slick little device. I might have to abandon my curmudgeonly ways and start using Apple products like everyone else now.

Bryan, I'm sorry this took so long. It's Jesse's fault.

Some music videos are timeless and always feel like they could have been made this year. Some are not.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Special Edition Autoshow Post

A couple of posts worth of post here, as it seems this blog has gone from weekly to bi-weekly to monthly. I'll do my best to turn that trend around. This blog-post is all coverage from the New England Internation Auto Show, as promised. The standard format will be back next week.

I take back what I said about more marques being here than at the majors. Among the no-shows were:

  • Porsche-who always gives out a cool poster.
  • Mercedes-Benz -who I don't remember much about, though I would like to sit in the new E-class.
  • Mitsubishi -I still don't know what the Lancer-mouthed Outlander is like in person. I mean, who drives a Mitsubishi?
  • Suzuki -They're going in the right direction with the Kizashi, just bring over more JDM and less KDM.
  • Jaguar -I've seen the XF, and the new XJ appears to have lots of the same visual cues. To my eyes, so does the Civic.
  • Land Rover-Cool interiors, which I suppose could be said for Jag too.
  • Volvo-presumably they got distracted on the way and drove over a curb somewhere.
Who does that leave then? Still enough that we'll hit the highlights here.

First, some awards:

The best seats at the show were those of the Lexus IS-F, with great support, prominent but not overdone bolsters, and flawless finish work. As unimaginative as Lexus can be, they're consistently beyond reproach on the details. The Saab 9-3 also had excellent seats, as Saabs always do, but not quite as excellent as those in the Lexus.The best interiors overall were definitely from Audi as a brand, with the same excellent finish as the Lexus but tidy ergonomics and pleasing visual presentation to boot. Jewel like details that never seem contrived abound and they are just all around slick environments. A nice place to spend time.

Best Display was Saab, hands down, who built an entire room including an LED wall and assorted Saab (and generally Swedish) trinkets in the floor. They also had the delightful new 9-5 on display, let's hope Saab survives long enough to actually make it. Nissan did have a room too, but Saab's was way cooler.
The most disappointing brand was Acura, which is pains me somewhat to say. It's not the ungainly new family face or ungainly "unrelated shapes everywhere" design language. It's the fact that despite the premium price, they simply don't feel special. I suppose it could be construed as a testament to just how good today's Hondas are, but sitting the $50k Acura RL, it really doesn't feel particularly different that a $30k Accord. They're lovely cars, no doubt, just a bit irrelevant.
The most disappointing car was the Ford Taurus, a car I really wanted to like. They're getting so much right these days (bringing the Fiesta and Transit Connect over come to mind) but the Taurus was a parade of cheap feeling materials, inconsistent panel gaps and flawed ergonomics. The seats in one of the Tauruses (Tauri?) on display already showed considerable wear, and some interior trim panels were already broken. It's a shame.

There was almost a tie for worst car, both from Detroit and both analogous of their respective parentage.

One consideration was the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, which in addition to positively milquetoast styling inside and out (augmented by Pep-Boys spec chrome hubcaps and questionable ergonomics) felt like an overall half baked effort designed only to be better than the Cavalier, a task also achievable with a tennis ball. Or a flan. High hopes for the Cruze. So why not the worst?

As Jason pointed out, the Cobalt makes some sense given its intended purpose, a hard wearing fleet appliance, or basic transport for those who haven't yet heard about Japan or Korea. Plus it is cheap.

No, the award must go to something cataclysmically horrible, something that shouldn't ever have gotten past stage one, or at least should have been fixed (or mercifully offed) since then. The award then goes to the Jeep Patriot.

Tangibly awful in a way I didn't think still possible, everything about this soft-roader feels approximate. Its design, construction, materials, all half-assed. Assuming it cost $15k, I thought it was overpriced. Then I found out it was $28k and it was a lock. I'll let Jason express his feelings on it here.

Best in show was more difficult to determine, with an Audi R8 (which I luv), the Nissan GT-R (which Jason luvs) and the a Corvette ZR1 (which we both luv) present, but given the rule that we need to sit in the car to call it best in show (and locked doors on those two), we had to pick more sensible choices.

My pick then is the Hyundai Genesis sedan. Even if its not particularly sporting, It has a winning mix of attributes that would make it a treat to own. It's comfortable, quiet, and seems well built.

My alternate pick is the Corvette Z06. Because its interior is so awful. Because it's so brash. Huzzah.

Other highlights:

Jason and I both gave big thumbs up to the clever and spunky Transit Connect. It's about time this segment of van came here.The new venue is decidedly less decrepit than the old one.
The brakes of the Kia Soul won't come out through the wheels.

Next update will be back to the normal mix of content, including Ice Weasels. Night all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And the trees have turned black And they're full of insane birds who can't remember any of their songs

Lots of time since last post (sorry, again) and some more racing, most notably Northampton, which had to have the fastest cross course I've done yet. There were some big names there too, including Jeremy Powers and Adam Craig, who had a pair of super trick Giant cross bikes, including a Di2 equipped carbon prototype (sorry no pic).
The whole race was pretty photogenic too, especially at a sickhucktastic chute down from the top of the course to a covered railroad crossing. I definitely didn't get the best pictures of this, I think this guy did.
This cross season has been pretty Western Mass heavy, which is cool, as I know people out there and have places to stay (for free, thanks guys). I'll be out there on Sunday for the Spooky race in Easthampton.

Some people are bringing bikes in for tune-ups, which given the springtime rush would seem to make more sense, though Bryan was acting all blurry again.

I realized after the fact that I forgot to put a video in last week's post, so this week I'll put in two. As for the Jesses, they're unfortunately surprisingly labor intensive and if this post is going to get published before Easthampton, I'll have to make up for that at a later date too.. Stay tuned

First is a VW ad starring Danny Macaskill, gee whiz!

#2 is a song that was stuck in my head. Hit play and it will be stuck in your head too. It's cheesetastic.

Programming note: ...a placeholder will be at the New England International Auto Show with special guest Jason G on December 2, a coverage extravaganza (possibly the best coverage this dealer supported regional show will get anywhere) is planned. Grand irony, with its lower profile, there may be more brands here than at the majors.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can someone tell me What is it that we're doing under the lights Can someone tell me Why once again we're food for vampires tonight

Longpost to make up for longtime no update.

Did a couple of races, one decidedly more eventful than the others.

Last week, I intended to go to New Gloucester, ME to race out there, but the other people that were going to go ended up bailing because of a little rain, and then so did I, but for totally way tougher reasons (more rain).

I already had a reservation at the Super 8 Motel out there, and when I tried to cancel it, they said I couldn't because I had made on online reservation, and referred me to the head office. Then the head office said it was the branch's call and I should call them. I did and I was told the manager had "gone into town to get breakfast for tomorrow." Thanks, Maine.

I went out to Western Mass and hung out with the UMBRC people, drank too much, tried a balance board, good time had by all.....

Saturday was indeed rainy, so Jelie and I went to Sylvester's for brunch, and then stopped by the bikereg home office, which is around the corner. I assumed it would look like Lorenzo Lamas's workstation in Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, but it really looked more like an office. I'm guessing I wasn't shown the secret underground layer where the magic happens, presumably accessed by pulling on a candlestick somewhere.

I ended up racing on Sunday in the Saratoga Spa race in New York. Overheard at the gas station: "drink too much Roy?" "Ohhh Yeah." I registered for the 4 and 3/4 races, on principle..more on that later, and I missed the start of the 4 race, so I had to jump on and chase through the women's and kids races, making me think I had just jumped into the wrong race. I made decent headway and then I crashed into a divot (this very one, though that's not me) and cracked my fork (though I don't know if I did it there or it had happened earlier). The race promoter said that usually there's no refunds on entry fees, but a broken fork counts as extenuating circumstances, and he gave me my $10 back, which I appreciate. I ended up at 18th place of 31 finishers, which is pretty frustrating, as it means I probably would have been in the top 10 were it not for the aforementioned snafus. Some good news too though, as Jeff Elie won the 3/4 race in dominant fashion and Jeff Cronin got 2nd in the 4 race.

On Halloween there was the Canton cross race, which is especially nice because it's about 35 minutes from my apartment, and about 20 minutes from the shop, which came in handy
Photo credit: Geoff

Because it was so close, I was there on time, and as a rule, if I'm there on time, I'll forget something. This time it was shoes, so rather than warm-up on my trainer (which I've only done at one race this season), I ran around asking everyone if they had any extra shoes. There were some Geekhouse and Wheelworks guys who were nice enough to offer some platform pedals, which is almost what I ended up using, and I suppose platform pedals and Asics count as a Halloween costume, but luckily, team IBC's own John Fennel had some shoes and pedals he wouldn't need until the 3/4 race, so I threw them on the bike with 2 minutes to go before the start of the race, and spun over the line, squeezing into the 2nd row. There were 110 finishers, which means there were more than 110 starters, which is insane. It was a super fast course, with a few slick, slimy tarmac sections, though they weren't as slippery as all the warnings made them out to be. I ended up at 37th of 110.
Photo credit Thom P.

Shortly after the 4 race, I sped back to the shop to grab my B shoes, a pair of Diadora Ethos Ice Techs (or as Jeff Cronin calls them, "Bike Jordans"). They're totally as awesome as the name would make them seem.

It became clear in the first race why CX is generally done in the 50s (temps, not decade) or lower, but I did the second race anyways, out of principle, as it was only $10 more to do the 2nd race, even though I knew I would not do well and my crossresults points would take a hit.

It was faster the second time through, though with about two laps to go, I could taste ammonia and see spots, but I finished the race, and not even in last place (by 7!).

I wonder if Jesse is doing any CX out west.

The fatigue of the day meant that I fell asleep around 8 pm, and woke up at a daylight savings adjusted 6:50am, Sunday morning, which works out as I didn't have a costume (though as per normal, I thought of a great one around 6pm on Halloween), and is also why I'm writing this (or at least starting this) on Sunday morning before work.

No Jesse this week due to technical frustrations. I hope Bryan's not too upset.

Oh well. 'Till next update.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Unit three thousand twenty one is warning Makes a humming sound - when its circuits Duplicate emotions

Sorry about the lack of blogupdate, I suck. I'll try to stay more on top of it, but more riding+more work=more tired.

I haven't updated since Gloucester, but I did take a whole bunch of pictures there. That full album can be found here. (Kevin Sweeney pictured here)
A couple more cross races have reminded me why I like that the inside of my car is all plastic, and Dan the mechanic has fixed the Spooky (undoing my screw-ups), so it's running like a champ. Today's race, which was pretty rutted and dry proved to me that I still don't totally know what tire pressure I should be running.
A bunch of people went out to get sushi with Todd. He's going to TX. I ate a boat. Have fun Todd.

I unfortunately don't have the video to back it up (still don't have one of these) but it seems as though the cars of Newton are unable to completely stop. They roll into intersections, streets, rotaries, and mailboxes to a comical extent, theory being that the opponent (traffic with the right of way) has no choice but to stop. The instigator then stops in the way of both perpendicular traffic and those behind, letting everyone absorb the absurdity of it all, Hand gestures are undertaken and the dance is complete.

On the topic of Newton driving, Volvo has brought to market the logical conclusion of the trend toward eliminating driver involvement. While in a general sense I would consider this a bad thing, given the type of driver that tends to gravitate toward Volvo (specifically Volvo SUV) ownership, I prefer robotic involvement.

Jesse's out in Cali, but I haven't heard from him, so I assume...

I had some fun with long exposure shots.

I saw another cool application of VW/Audi/Porsche's compatible BCDs

I learned about one more of Bryan's talents.

This week's video is a collection of outtakes from a Saturn commercial Jim Gaffigan did way back in the 90s.