September 28, 2009

They're This Big...

29 inch mountain bike wheels, that is.

After years of knocking the concept of of the 29er, I finally decided to try one. Why the change in tune? 2010 might be the year I decide to buy a new bike.

There has been a lot of scuttlebutt (perhaps the first time I have ever typed that word) about the new models from Gary Fisher, the Superfly 100 and the Hi Fi's. Both have about 4" of suspension travel in front and out back, and the weights are pretty competitive. With all the positive press, I have been thinking there might actually be something behind it all. But I am hesitant, it isn't like 29ers are taking over the sport, but they are steadily gaining momentum (sic).

Back to the concept of bike buying. Originally, I planned on a 5" travel bike, specifically a Trek Fuel EX. I currently have Titus Racer X, one of the best-ever cross country suspension bikes ever. It has about 3.75" of front and rear suspension. Instead of jumping on the 5" trail bike bandwagon wholeheartedly, I have started to think about the 29ers.

See, I am an XC guy. My whole reason for being on a bicycle is to get from point A to point B as fast as I can. To do that, I need a bike to do certain things and weigh a certain amount. The Titus accomplishes this, in spades. But as I have gotten older and more responsible, which means I also ride less and less, I have found my technical skills are eroding. The Titus is a race bike, it has steep angles that can be unforgiving at times. Coupled with my lack of skill and it can be less than confidence inspiring at times. So, how do I increase stability at speed and in technical spots without sacrificing climbing "prowess?" With a 5" travel, carbon fiber wonder bike like the Fuel EX. OR, or, with a 29er.

The way I see it, and if anyone that reads this would like to interject I sincerely welcome it, I Bike like a Fisher Hi Fi 1 and the Trek Fuel EX 9.0 are very different, yet similar on many levels. Allow me to geek out...

There isn't much of a size difference between a 4" travel 29er and a 5" travel 26" trail bike. Having ridden a couple of 5" trail bikes, I've found the handling very similar to the Fisher Rig 29er I've been riding lately. Both handle slower than my Titus. Period. Which isn't a bad thing in my decrepit state of skills.

What you get with a 29er, as I have discovered, is a smoother ride - especially when things get rocky and technical. Having ridden the Rig on two of my favorite trails that I am pretty familiar with (Green Pond at Snowbasin and Behind the Rocks in Moab) I'd say I've learned four things:
1) As I mentioned, 29ers are smooth. They really roll over rocks easily and make technical trails easier. 2) I notice the momentum of the bigger, heavier wheels helps me more on the flats and through rocks than they hurt my performance on climbs. And, if the climbs are technical like on Behind the Rocks, the bigger wheels make it easier to climb. 3) Sand. 29ers motor through sand in a way that a 26" wheel only wishes it could. 4) If you are going to ride a single speed, you should only ride a single speed and it should be a 29er. With a single speed, momentum is your best friend and it comes in spades. But, I don't ride a single speed enough to have quads massive enough to really enjoy it. 32x18 gearing is just a little too big for my skinny legs. I got to know the Rig intimately during my time with it, often finding myself literally climbing all over the machine to grind it uphill. I was impressed with the amount of riding I was able to do on it though.

All very interesting... To me at least. Because this is in the front of my brain right now, my next post will be more exciting and discuss my recent trip to Moab among other things.

September 12, 2009

Jack and Jill Triathlon Race Report - In TECHNICOLOR!

Not really in technicolor. But maybe, if I can pirate a couple of pics, some sort of color. But since I was alone I only took a couple of pics of the "lake" and of my transition area.

The race was in Honeyville and was well organized by the TriUtah folks. There are always a couple of things you'd like improved, but this is one race I'll do again. There is only a sprint distance option, which is fine with me, for now... (ominously typed.)

How'd I do? How'd I feel? I did sorta shitty. I felt almost as shitty doing it. But, I finished another swim. And, ANd, aNd! I cut somewhere between 4-5 minutes off my 750 meter swim time compared to last year at XTERRA. 4-5 effing minutes! I was 24th of 47 out of the water. This is huge for me. Because of that, I can handle how shitty I did overall, which was 7th of 11 in my age group and 21st of 45 overall.

I am pleased with my result. After all, it isn't like I'm doing brick workouts every morning. But without further waste of time. Here's a quick race report.

I arrived about an hour and a half before the start, got marked and had my transition set up with all sorts of time left. The transition was nice, on actual lawn grass! I chilled out in the shade and listened to my ipod. I thought about talking to people, but I'd rather keep my anxiety to myself. With about 15 minutes to start, I started the ordeal of putting on my wetsuit. I debated wearing it because it was a hot day and the water was pretty warm. But figured so many others were going to have the advantage that I should also. Getting into the water I had less than the usual amount of panic which could be attributed to a couple of factors: 1) Increased confidence. 2) Knowing I was in essentially a large swimming pool no deeper than 6 feet. 3) Xanax. Still, I panicked a bit when the water sucked my wetsuit around my chest, but after a minute the suit softened and the feeling drifted away. The water was a little murky, but similar to Pineview.

Like usual, I moved to the rear of the field to keep from having too many people swim over me. Blessedly, the race finally started and I went into sort of a happy place, autopilot mode. Within the first few meters I was smacking into people, but I couldn't see them because the shallow water and silty bottom meant that a lot of debris was being stirred up, making the water opaque and limiting visibility to about my elbow. There were no feet to be found because even though I was hitting them, I couldn't see them. After swimming here, other venues shouldn't be an issue. Unless it's cloudy. Then it would be no visibility in the dark and another story altogether.

At the turnaround I was still feeling good but my forearms were starting to get fatigued. I usually don't experience this, so I tried to relax my arms which helped. Ultimately, I think my wetsuit was pulled up a little far and cutting off circulation. I'll have to get into the water again to see.

I came out of the water, rolled into transition and noticed there were a bunch of bikes still there. A good sign. I dunno if there was any correlation, but I had a tough time getting the sleeves of my wetsuit off my forearms. Finally free, I spent a little too much time wiping my feet and putting on socks. Because I like wearing socks.

On the bike, I took a few minutes to come around and get some blood into my legs. Plus my stomach was feeling a little wonky so I didn't drink a ton. The bike course didn't really suit me either. The rolling terrain is better for powerful riders, which I am not. I don't think I lost much time over the 12 miles. I caught a few riders and didn't get passed. Good enough.

The run was three laps around the lake on hard-packed dirt. I wasn't wearing a timer, but I think my laps were prolly 8:30, 8:00, 7:30. I was feeling pretty good at the end. I guess I should add some random brick workouts into my sporadic, non-triathlon specific training plan.

And that was it. I had finally done a triathlon in 2009. XTERRA is closing in, but I think I'll head to Moab that weekend. I can have a great weekend riding and drinking beer for the price of the registration fee.

September 10, 2009

But is it really coffee?

Driving home from the pool this morning I noticed that Burger King, like McDonald's, is now in the iced coffee bidness. Most people would classify me as a coffee snob, but I'm really not. Sure, I prefer good coffee to swill, but I've had my lips on many a cup of bad coffee before and just been happy to have had it. Mostly I'm happy if the coffee isn't burnt or too weak. I've had McDonald's gourmet "coffee" drinks and decided that the best course of action is to stick with their good ol' lap burning blend they've had for years because it is usually fresh and tastes fine. Burger King is about the same, offering fresh coffee. But will their iced coffee, at a buck, taste any better than McDonalds'? Or am I condemned to paying significantly more more Starbuck's or one of the hard-working, independent coffee joints? And is the "gourmet" crap from McDonald's or Burger King even coffee? At those prices I wonder what the hell engineered polymer I am consuming that is designed to taste remotely like java. Was it alive at some point? Guess I need to try it to see. On to the BK.

September 9, 2009


So the F@#$ what!

I guess today is the last day of the calendar that single digits will make up the date. At least until another Jesus dies and we move from AD into ANJD (After New Jesus Death) time era thing.

Did I say welcome to my blog?

Statistics are why I cannot watch sports on tv. I can't stand the useless shit that comes out of the commentators traps. "Well Jim, with that strike out Carl Carlson becomes the 21st strikeout leader in history." 21st? Don't care, useless stupid information. "Oooohhhh adjusting his balls after that touchdown brings Terrell Terrellwell into 18th place in the all-time American League West ball adjusters." You bet, Tim. Terrell really likes adjusting his balls, and really does it with aplomb."

Useless statistics. Dumb. I regress...

Last night was one of those nights. Wifey cruised off to aerobicize and I stayed home with Smarty Pants to plant some hand-me-down shubberies. Naturally, the first two went easy. But the third and final became a victim of my own dumbassity. As in I nailed the sprinkler line with the shovel. Not bad enough to rupture, but bad enough to make me worry that it might when I least expected it or was out of town.

Off to the mega home store for some 1/2" in-line connectors. Back home to remember that 1/2" doesn't mean 1/2" in sprinkler land. Cuz in sprinkler land there's 1/2" OD and 1/2" ID. Back to mega home store for 1/2" OD connectors. (Fortunately only 5 minutes away.) Slap in a new piece of pipe, a couple of in-line connectors, use hose clamps for good measure and viola! I fix my f-up in near record time with fewer f-ups along the way than normal. All by 10:30 pm. (Shakes head...)

But I have got to say that the highlight of the evening came from the guy next door criticizing my decision to add some concrete to my existing shed pad to put a larger shed on. He basically told me I was stupid. Well... can't please everyone I guess.

Let's talk about canines. It was buy a dog Labor Day this year. Both neighbors to the rear have new puppies, and the neighbor that thinks sheds should only be on gravel now has a Golden Retriever.

I think it's time to give Cody a new home.

The bike refurbish is going slow. When the hell do I get to work on it? Bear Lake trip last weekend. Sprinkler fixing and shrub planting last night. Still, the Bendix Automatic rear hub is in pieces and soaking in kerosene as I type.

I really gotta do more of these entries. SO much to talk about. Did I mention I am racing a tri this Friday???