Saturday, December 12, 2009

...and with that, I'm out!

Another season in the books. I didn't have near the season ending race that I wanted to have, but as they say, it is what it is.
After nearly wishing for more work emails to arrive just so I could have something to do, race day finally came. The course had thawed nicely, so it was a sloppy, muddy mess, not the frozen mess of the past few days. The soil around Bend is all volcanic ash, so everything was gritty. Traction wasn't really an issue, but there were still plenty of ruts to avoid, and there were also a few sections of loose mud that were somewhat treacherous.
Because of the atrocious sign-up protocol from USA Cycling, I drew a 7th row starting position. As per my typical shitty starting position protocol, I had to aggressively force my position without taking people out. After 3/4 of a lap I was in about 25th, so that worked out. Over the next few laps I picked a few more people off, and was just about ready to make contact with a group for 18th when my front wheel washed out in one of the aforementioned ruts. It wasn't really a bad crash, but I lost a bit of mojo and it took a bit to get it back. In the mean time we were still picking off some guys that had gone out too hard. I think the highest I got was up to 14th but then with 1/4 of a lap to go I had a blow out and had to run/creep to the finish without letting too many people pass me. All told, I ended up 20th. Not nearly where I wanted to be but unless I would have made it up to 8th or better (callups for next year) it didn't really matter.
So now I'm getting all my stuff packed for the trip back to Portland tomorrow after Ryan's race, then jump on a plane Monday morning and back to the real world. Ugh.

A few parting thoughts on my week here:
-Oregonians, or at least those from Portland and Bend pretty much all stop for bikes and pedestrians. All the time. Crazy.
-Once you get past the tragically hip-ness, everybody is pretty cool. Alas, an occasional shower wouldn't hurt though.
-As I pretty much already knew, Jeremy Powers is quite possibly the nicest guy out there. At the number party for the USGP, I flagged him down just to say hey, and he ended up talking with us for about 10 minutes and was engaged in the conversation the entire time. Class... Pure class.

So anyway, yeah. I'm out.

-the ATM

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wrapping up in Oregon

As silly as it sounds, I haven't had time to post a new entry even though I'm smack dab in the middle of a ten day vacation. To catch you all up, day 2 of the NCGP was, as it turns out, an introduction to Nats - but more on that in a sec. After day 1's not stellar result I moved up one spot to 15th. The real story was the weather though, in that it was 40 and rain. It took me two hours to stop shivering even with the heat cranked in the toasty warm car!
Fast forward through a week of work and I was on a plane heading out to Portland to finish out the USGP series, then a week of chillaxin between Portland and Bend, where the 2009 Nats are being held.
First, I'll hit on last weekend's racing at the final stop of the USGP that had me galavanting across the country in search of glory and race schwag. After a mixup with numbers I found myself with #107 and no callup. Calling on some modified J-Pow ninja skills, I finagled my rightful spot on the front row and knocked out the hole shot,
and after clawing back from a flat tire back up to the lead, I lost the sprint for the win. Dummy.
Day two was a little less hectic at the start only because I asked anybody and everybody how to make sure I was on the front row. I was a little off and ended up third on the day, but that was good enough to lock up third for the series, which is nice.
So after hitting a few local bike shops, we headed back to our host housing to get in a day-after-race ride and stumbled onto an awesome twisty couple mile climb. Can't find that in Indiana.
Now I find myself holed up in a hotel room in Bend, dodging the 20 degree weather waiting for Saturday to come so I can put the wraps on my season. Not that I'm wishing it away - I'm not - but I am anxious to see how the good form I'm on stacks up against others' good form. I'm sure the course will be interesting - it's frozen now but after a few degrees higher tomorrow, coupled with a shit-pile of racers to mangle it up means it's gonna be sloppy. This means I've got my work cut out for me since I'll line up in the 7th row. Eh well, it wouldn't be a race otherwise.

Game on.

-the ATM

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's all a blur

The tranquil weekends off between the 3rd and 4th rounds of the USGP were pretty tame, if seemingly a bit too short. This is in stark contrast to the past two weeks. As you may have read in the previous post, I headed out to New Jersey for the 4th round and had some pretty good results; I took 6th on the muddy Saturday and ended up just missing the podium for 4th on the not as muddy Sunday. As I'd hoped, I was able to be on the road within 45 minutes of finishing my race, and ended up getting home at about 12:30.
1400 miles in the bank.
Monday and Tuesday flew by since I had to prep for a semi-planned trip to Peoria on Wednesday, but the trip came and went with little fanfare.
500 miles in the bank.
I got back around 6 - about the same time Ryan got home. It was about 45 and rain, and I was going to get my rain gear on when Ryan brought up the trainer. It didn't take much to convince me that wasn't a bad idea, but I one-upped him with me not riding at all so I could overhaul his hubs since the bearings were not really spinning. at all. Anyway, this worked out well since I knew I still had plenty of other things to do in preparation for this weekend's trip to North Carolina that would more than take the place of riding the trainer for an hour. After getting everything ready to go, I called it a day. Friday found us making great time so we were able to smash a few pre-ride laps before the sun went down. After dinner, we got some interwebbing and TVing done and I was cashed out by 10:30.
Now for the race. Eh, Even though I felt ok, my legs did not respond well to all the travel I've been doing. At least that's what I'm telling myself anyway. The course was refreshingly tacky, with only a few tight corners to speak of, but it had close to a half-mile of pavement and a longish run-up (my favorite!) plus a single track climb with a few hidden roots. It's definitely a course for big legs but as I searched through my travel bag, I apparently forgot to pack them. I fared well in the corners but floundered elsewhere. I rolled in for 16th, fairly disappointed but at least I have another day to make up for it. We shall see.
After this weekend? Another 1000 miles in the bank.

Alright, time for some bike maintenance.

the ATM

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sometimes I trick myself into thinking I'm smart

My weekend started a day early so I could spend the day driving from Indiana to New Jersey. I was pretty torn as to whether I would leave at 5a so I could make it in time to pre-ride the course, but the thought of sleeping in overrode any other thoughts. Turns out this was a good thing since I got an email around 11a saying pre-riding was canceled due to 40+ mph winds. Score.
On top of that, I was surprised that I was was not mentally blown after 12 hours in the car heading to the New Jersey rounds of the USGP. It really felt like just another car trip to a race. I suppose this is where the smarts of taking a few races off pays off. The real test, though, is in how I feel tomorrow on the way home when I'll be getting home around 1a, without having showered or had the leisurely afternoon that I had today.
Anyway, race report: The race today was brutal. The worst peanut butter mud in which I think I've had to race. There was even a pan flat section of course that was so loaded with mud that it was faster to run it - that was my least favorite 200 meters of course. I think the announcer, Richard Fries, said it best when he compared it to adobe since the mud had loads of grass in it to keep it all stuck together. I took a bike change half way through the race just so I could shed the seemingly 20 pounds of mud that had accumulated around the cranks and BB. Ugh.
Anyway, I decided not to spectate the woman's or men's pro race so that I could get back to the hotel and begin the deconstruction/reconstruction of both bikes' drivetrains, etc. It only ended up taking around 90 minutes so I was able to get cleaned up, stretched, and head off to a semi- early dinner. This of course laid the ground work for time to lay down this sweet blog post.
So I'm quite content, not nervous for tomorrow. Pretty much gonna take what I can get and leave it all on the course, then pseudo-wash my bikes, repack my car and make like a tree and get out of there.

and with that, I'm out.

-the ATM

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Funny stuff

So I've been making the most of my two weekends off from racing; I cleaned out most of my house in Columbus so I can rent it out in the coming weeks (10+ years of shit accumulation takes time to sift through) with only about 2 hours worth of finish work left, worked on Project Bike Rack v3.0, cleaned my car, built a few bikes, slept in and actually did some proper training not otherwise possible with weekend racing.
Of course, now that I'm back racing it's starting to hit full-force - drive to New Jersey for the 3rd round of the USGP, then back to work on Monday, then drive to Peoria, IL on Wednesday, then return on Thursday, then pack and get ready to leave for North Carolina on Friday, then get back to be at work again on Monday.

Last weekend when I wasn't racing I ran into some friends, so we stopped to chew the fat for a bit. Shortly before we parted ways, I saw an ex-girlfriend drive past us. Now I'm not one to wax ecstatic about past relationships but I had to chuckle upon seeing her because she would always want to go out every night, and couldn't understand why I didn't want to drink like a fish night after night. She even equated having a drink to having fun - as in, no drink = no fun. Leave the bar before midnight?? Are you nuts?? I think my favorite was when she asked what I wanted to do that particular night. After I offered up an evening of Low Quality Time (couch, dinner, conversation, etc), she responded with already-purchased comedy club tickets. Great... thanks for asking!
Anyway, this clearly was doomed and we eventually broke up. Her break up platform was based on me wanting to spend more time riding bikes than spending time with her. Now I know I spend a fair bit of time training, but in the grand scheme not that much, and when time spent with her is buying dinner and drinks at $50-$100 per night times 2-3 per week, which would you chose?

Why is all of this funny? Because when I saw her last weekend, I was on my bike.


-the ATM

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A murder of one

I finished round 4 of the USGP with another 8th place. Not bad, but not what I was looking for either. As I was reflecting after the 3rd race of the series, it really hit home that I have done a lot of shit in the last 5 weeks - not the least of which was 11 races. I guess you could say I'm cooked. I've not really done any focused training which I think is a big part of why I've not done better than what I've done so far. Funny how one's mind wanders during a race, and at some point I thought about taking a week off from racing. Also funny is how much in sync Don and I are since he suggested taking a week off before I could say I was thinking about it. So after some pondering, I decided it best to take a few weeks off from racing so my next go at a race will be the USGP in New Jersey. I thought when I first set my cross schedule my lighter road racing load in the summer would carry me through from late September through Nats in mid December. Alas, as it turns out, I'm getting old and can't sustain that.
Hmmpf. That sucks.
Anyway, it's actually been really good this past week once I committed to not racing. I finally got my new bikes built in both road and mountain form. For the mountain, an Epic Marathon carbon tames the bumps and for the road I got a Tarmac Pro in matte carbon. I was originally planning on sweeting it out with white tape and a white saddle but both Zach and Ryan talked me into murdering it out.
Now of course the white saddle doesn't exactly make it murdered out, but that's only temporary until the new black saddle can get here. Regardless, it's pretty sick. I've also ordered a set of FSA's black 11 speed specific chainrings so they'll make it all the better.
I can't really post any pics of the MTB since I'm going to be swapping out the brakes and gruppo, which would essentially mean you'd get to look at a sweet frame and fork setup. Eh, just wait a week or so...I'll get there.
In the mean time, here's some digital media from day 1 of the Louisville USGP:

photo cred Tobi Herron

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Whew, glad that's over. Last weekend was the culmination of a huge chunk of time I've been spending in order to get the inaugural BloomingCross race dialed. By all accounts, it was a cracking success even if attendance was down more than we expected being a non-Cincinnati-local race. No matter, we learned a lot and will make next year's BloomingCross even better!

As a result of all that, tho, I've got a laundry list of things to get caught up on. Meh, such is my life.
Most alarmingly, I've got two new bikes in the basement that have been there for a week yet remain in the shipping boxes.
Sweet bikes, for sure... now I just need to make time to build them.
In my spare time I've been burning up the highway miles to and from races and pulling down reasonable results. I netted a 15th place in the Friday UCI in Cincy, but faded a bit for Saturday's race to get 23rd. For Sunday's race, my legs were just not there so I rolled in for 26th.
I really had zero expectations for BloomingCross, since my day started at 5am to brew coffee for the race. Add in about only a bowl of oatmeal and a Clif Bar from 5a to 3p to eat, and I ended up in 7th place. So now I'm in the hotel room, getting some interwebbing done, and reflecting on my 7th place in the Masters 35+ category in the third race of the USGP of cyclocross series. I've been playing a bit with my preparation to see if I can get rid of the typical mid-race funk that I seem to have and it seems to be working. I'll try a few more things for Sunday's race - perhaps I can pull up a few extra spots and crack the top 5.

and with that, I'm out.


-the ATM

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cross updates

As seems typical much has happened since last I posted, and while there has been alot of racing, there's also been some me-not-on-the-bike stuff going on, too.
So first and foremost, things are rapidly approaching with the first annual BloomingCross, my first crack at promoting a race (along with Ryan's first time, too). It's been pretty hectic the last few weeks but the light is at the end of the tunnel. I know there'll be a few more sleepless nights in the coming week but it'll be worth it. Can't wait to show my adopted home of Bloomington the awesomeness of cyclocross. So if you're in town on the 18th, come on out to Twin Lakes Sports Complex. I'll buy you a cup of Two Johns Podcast coffee!
OK, so race reports...
Zach, Ryan and I piled 3 dudes, 6 bikes, 18 wheels and all our gear into Zach's Subaru and headed up to Madison for the first round of the USGP. I did the Master's 35+ races and got some solid results of 8th and 10th. I could have gotten better on Sunday, but I flatted on the last lap and had to ride slowly back to the pit for the B bike and lost 3 spots in the process. Still pretty pleased with my first showing on the national level... Round 2 is in Louisville in 2 weeks - can't wait!
Last weekend was round 2 of the OVCX series, and the long straight plus a front row start gave me the hole shot through the first sector. Flyin' Ryan Knapp came around me shortly after and just slaughtered the field. Hitting my usual mid-race lull, I hammered home for a not bad 5th spot.

Photo cred to Tom Moran and Lauren Half

It's a little weird - I love race weekends that keep me two days away because there ends up being downtime for things like blog posts and general interwebbing that I don't normally get loads of time to do. At the same time though, because I'm away I don't have the time to do things that have been getting pushed out like finish bike rack v3.0, wash car, organize sock drawer, etc.
Eh, I'll take the racing... the other stuff will be there tomorrow!

Oh yeah, work has been kicking me square in the pants lately too. That's about all I have to say about that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I seem to have this affliction that requires I have way more to do than time in the day. Unfortunately this makes some things fall of the edge of my plate like Grandma's gravy on Turkey Day. Such as this blog...

Anyhoo, I had this awesome outline for a post in my head after a cracking good Labor Day weekend of riding, but the time came and went and with it, the justification for column-inches on a recap. To summarize, however, Don came up with a new word to describe our first day's ride: Epiticity, which is a scale from 1 - 10 that ranks the epic-ness of a ride. Factors include awesomeness of the parcours, conditions, flats, and general bonking. Our ride was about 8 since we hit about 15 miles of deep gravel, had two flats (3 minutes apart), it was fairly hot, and we only expected about 2 hours that turned into 4.5 hours. This allowed me to tap into the "Just in Case" $10 bill in my saddle bag. The result was a Belgian PowerBar (ie, ham sandwich). Epic.

So for the last month or so, I've been 90% moved in to the new digs in Bloomington. All I can say is it is awesome. Wish I moved years ago. The rental house we're in is a little worse for the wear, being built in the 60s and all, but the world's largest man cave for bikes makes up for it. We've finally got it mostly dialed so pics are forthcoming.

So the biggest time sink I have going on now (aside from the job that pays my bills) is that I am promoting one stop on the OVCX calendar in Bloomington with Rad Racer Ryan Knapp. The race is on the 18th of October, so mark your calendar! Of course, in the mean time I'm usualy up until at least midnight, and sometimes past 1. I can push thru the fsatigue mostly but sometimes my body just shuts down.
No matter, it's definitely worth the effort.
In racing news, my 'cross seson is officially underway starting off at the King's CX weekend just outside of Cincy. Typical early season cross racing means dry, dusty and hot, which was Saturday's race but that gave way to 60 and rain on Sunday. I ended up with a 6th on saturday anda 4th on Sunday, which is a nice kickstart to the season since I usually start of slower during early season and get faster as the weeks progress.
So this weekend is the first installment of the USGP series in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Conditions look to be similar to Sunday's race, so it should have about a 7 on the Epiticity scale. Can't wait.

-the ATM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


...They have not been dealt a good hand in life.

It's scenes like these that always make for great rides.

Friday, August 7, 2009

P - I - M - P

um, yeah, so the Dugast order showed up, and Kyle had a great idea for a photo op...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The front derailleurs of my discontent

That's twice - in two weeks, no less.
I lined up at the start of the Brown County State Park off road TT only to hear a crazy crack at the start, and the accompanying grinding noise. At first I thought it was a crack in the frame given the loud noise I heard, but after some on-bike diagnostics it turned out to be the chain rubbing on the front derailleur cage. You see, somehow the chain grabbed the cage at the start and twisted the entire derailleur assembly on the seat tube. Perhaps the recommended torque is not enough???
In any event, I ended up second by 23 seconds. Bummer for sure, but I'm starting to think all things 'cross, and wrapping up my MTB season so I can start training for cross is sounding more and more appealing, for several reasons.
First off, fall is a great time of year... crisp mornings with some reasonable temps during the day, just low enough that either arm warmers or a long sleeve jersey are appropriate for when the sun dips down. We've still got plenty of warm days left; This is clear, but it won't be too long!
Second, new bikes. How sweet is it to get a new bike and tear in to the build up. It's even better for 'cross when you get to build two bikes! Man, I can't wait.
Third, and probably more important for now is that I'll be moved over to Bloomington. Note I said 'moved' as in, already done. I'm not really looking forward to the act of moving but once done, I'm totally in. Moving my crap from 10 years of the same address is going to be a challenge...
Alas, all will be good since the house we'll be in will have what should be heralded as the man cave of all man caves. Now keep in mind, 3 dudes living in a house generally means that the entire house is a man cave, but 3 guys that each have at least 4 bikes a piece, along with 5 - 6 sets of wheels per dude means there is going to be an entire wall devoted to storage of said equipment.
I'm going to have to stop talking about it so I don't wet my pants.

anyway, enough for now.


-the ATM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Moving right along

Aside from a rain-induced hiccup, my racing season marches on.  The DRT stop at Wapehani was a good one, with a more World Cup style lap count – 6 laps of about 6km each (yeah, with World Cup counts comes World Cup units).  A nice small hill to sort out the pecking order into the woods saw me in P1.  I must have subconsciously channeled Todd Wells because I was railing that trail like I never have before.  I had a small gap that I was just trying to maintain (not extend) since I was feeling good and wanted it to stay that way.  Unfortunately my first semi-mechanical of the season dropped in to see what condition my condition was in, in the form of a slipped front derailleur cable.  This left me with a tiny 29t front ring with which to ride.  Not ideal since I’m more of a big dog guy, but I wasn’t going to take a technical break to fix it.DSC_3608

Photo courtesy Matt Link

I still rode well, and the 29t really probably helped in a few small punch climb sections.  I rode yet another consistent race which makes me think I’m a little better at pacing than I have been in years past.  In any event, my last lap (actually the last 3k probably) wasn’t so awesome.  On the last steep climb I noticed my HR was about 30 bpm below my normal race average.  Clearly this is not good.  I ended up hemorrhaging several minutes to first, but held on for second.  Of course I can’t download my data because Vista 64 doesn’t have IrDA drivers, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, last weekend’s race was postponed canceled due to rain, which left me with a Sunday to make up for no race effort.  I wanted to get in a good hard road ride with some climbs so that I could beat myself down.  All told, I got 4 hours in and just under 70 miles in with two hard 5 minute efforts plus a few county line sprint dubbyas so I guess I get the virtual Green jersey.

Speaking of Le Tour, I was disappointed at the end that it was over… it seemed to fly by, with excitement every day.  I guess I expected Contador to win but it seemed like he was always looking for approval and acceptance as a force to be reckoned with.  Was it me or did his eyes seem like he was looking for someone, anyone, to give him a thumbs up?  I guess he would have been looking for a pistolero from somebody, or whatever the hell stupid logo is on his hat.  Anyway, he was most definitely the strongest guy, even on TT day, with taking 30 freaking seconds out of Mr TT himself… I pity the fool, Fabian Cancellara.

I do have to say thanks to DVRs… there is no way I would have been able to watch coverage as efficiently as with 2x and 3x speed fast forward.

Finally, this weekend should be a cracker (learned that from David Millar and Bradley Wiggins!) of a good time… Revolution Bike and Bean is hosting the midway point SAG of the HMBA century with burgers, dogs, PBJs and various other goodies.  Of course there will also be coffee and espresso, so come on out to 10th and Grant in Bloomington for some sweet fun.  I’ll even buy you a shot of espresso if you mention this post.  If you cough up $5(with proceeds going to HMBA) , you can eat grilled goodness, too!  While you’re there you can register for the DRT off road Time Trial at Brown County State Park on Sunday.  It’s a point to point from the North Gate to Hesitation Point.  It’ll be awesome, mainly because there will be hotdogs at the finish line.


-the ATM

Friday, July 10, 2009

yes, no and yes

I've had a bit of time to reflect on my performance in the cross country race over the July 4th weekend, and while one can always want more/better/faster I can't really complain about a 3rd place finish.
Things were moving along really well starting at about 12:15p on Saturday with me having just won the short track race then finding out I'm the the state champion as a result, but about 12:30 things started turning pear shaped. You see, that's when the rain started and didn't really stop until about 11p that night. It was no gully washer - just a steady light rain that kept going. This sucked big time because Muscatatuck does not really do well with rain. There is a lot of tree cover that makes even the smallest amount of water sit for days waiting to dry out. While the local trail crew had done a great job of changing things to mitigate that, the simple fact is that the trail is mostly a dense clay that turns into peanut butter when wet.
There was a sparkle of hope when a race day report from a friend who had already ridden a lap came back the trail wasn't THAT BAD and his bike wasn't loaded with mud to back it up. Unfortunately, my pre-race recon did not give me warm fuzzies and I was on the limits of safe low tire pressure. Anyhoo, I had a great start and took second into the woods. I felt like I was cornering like a sissy but had good climbing legs so I pushed when I could. After superstar Slowinsky passed me (he apparently felt bad early on) Gentle Ben and I settled in to a good battle for 3rd/4th with him cornering better than me but I seemed to be climbing better. I took my opportunity to push it on a climb and created a gap to Ben. I was able to hold it to the line for third behind untouchables Matt Battin and Slowinsky.
After about 3 hours worth of cleaning, the talley was one spent chain, two rebuilt (but semi-worn out anyway) jockey pulleys, one likely destroyed crank arm, and perhaps the worst is what appears to be blown BB bearings. I'll dig into that this week.
Fast forward a week and I was finally able to toe the line on my road bike for the first time this year. Alas, a flat tire only 15 minutes in and no spare wheels meant my day was done. At least I was able to keep upright when the rear went flat leading into a corner. Even better was that nobody went down getting around me as I had to straight line the corner.
On to Sunday's MTB race in Warsaw at the great Winona Lake trail, I took third into the woods after Dave McComb lit up the start. Matt Light was setting a mean pace and him being a local to the trail I was not in any hurry to take a pull. It didn't take long for Matt's two teammates to bridge up so I was, um, outnumbered. 1 vs 3? Sweet. I probably rode a little too hard trying to stay 2nd wheel in front of Isaac Neff and Chad Salla, which was remedied when my front wheel washed out in a sandy corner and they came around. This turned out to be good since I settled into my own pace and got bits of micro-recovery. By the end of lap 1 I had bridged back up to Isaac and Matt but Chad had already checked out. I was able to get around them to start lap 2 and eventually brought it down to 25 seconds, but Chad was able to drill a section or two and stretch it back out to a minute.
If I hadn't had a set of BB bearings seized, I would have won. Totally. I swear.


-the ATM

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Muscatatuck STXC report

As it turns out, the short track event was the state championship. So now I'm the short track state champ. I wonder if I should get a jersey made for that...
Anyway, the start chute was rather short and my thought of lining up to the outside didn't net the position I was looking for. Alas, I had to settle for 5th wheel. After two or three laps, tho I had moved up to 3rd wheel after a few bobbles from the guys ahead of me. With first and second content to pull me around for the duration, I was content to let them. At the end of 2 to go I launched an attack that was apparently pretty good since it stuck and I was able to post up across the line.
So now I guess I like short track races. Much better result than the first (and last) STXC race I did back in 06, anyway.
So now I'm chillin out for tomorrow's XC race watching Le Tour. Sweet.


-the ATM

Friday, July 3, 2009

'Bout that time, eh?

You know it's getting to 'cross season when goodie boxes start showing up.Fresh bar tape, a few new Campy freehubs and a pile of sweet Grifo XS tubulars. With any luck, I'll be able to start rebuilding the Record hubs and Mavic Reflex hoops next week, but that will require removing 2 years of glue which is no too terribly appealing. In any event, I look forward to building another set of wheels.

In racing news, I started my sizeable racing block last weekend at the OMBC event at East Fork. I was a little disappointed with the start since we weren't going balls out up the opening climb (where I set my 1 min max power last yea), but then again we weren't going balls out. I took 5th into the woods after the ~2 mile road section and was riding comfortably. Unfortunately, I got slowed by a few bobbles in front of me and didn't want to/couldn't bridge the 20 second gap. With a coupla PROs like Anthony Slowinsky and Brad Wilhelm ahead of me, I didn't figure it wise to try to bridge only to hemorrhage time later.
As expected, I started feeling better as the race progressed. This was bolstered when I passed the guy in 3rd who had flatted and asked if I had a pump. I did not, so I could not oblige. Let me say that I would have dropped a CO2 cartridge had he asked for one, but I'm not going to potentially strand myself by giving up my CO2 gun so a competitor can continue. If he did not prepare well enough then this is not my concern. Carrying on, I was solidly in third going into the final lap and was just about to throw in the 'chase' towel when I saw P2 about 30 seconds in front of me. I'm assuming he had shut down until he saw me because that's what the gap stayed and I definitely gave it the ole' college try to close said gap, so any efforts by me were matched by him.
At the end of the day, I ended up 3rd behind Slowinsky and Wilhelm, and I was only 2:30m behind Anthony and 30sec behind Brad. Sure, Slowinsky flatted and ran the last half mile in but I wasn't 6 minutes behind, either.
So the next race is the AMBC event @ North Vernon's awesome Muscatatuck Park, and starts Saturday with a Short Track race followed on Sunday with the XC race. Fingers crossed, I have a good weekend.


-the ATM

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Death to peppermint

I had been thinking of changing the bar and hood position on my road bike for some time but as with any relocation such as that, the bar tape needs to be rewrapped and the white tape I've had for some time would not lend itself well to reuse. Being a fan of Fizik I decided to try some of their new dual tape with a color accent. Being me, I had to go with the white with red stripe figuring it would tie in well with my white and red saddle. As it turns out, they only make the Dual tape with soft touch which is pretty much like velvet. Looks sweet out of the box and the double stitched piping adds a nice subtle layer of grip/comfort to the feel. Universally, the first comment from everyone that saw it was "well, it looks like a candy cane but it looks kinda sweet." This helped a bit but looks take a back seat if it doesn't perform (reference any mid 70s Corvette: 150HP from a V8? criminal!) As I feared with the soft touch it was filthy after one ride. After about 5 minutes per side of cleaning I gave up, and resigned the tape to be a 3 week test.
On the good side, I really dig the new bar and hood position that I rotated to a more traditional position for the classic bend bars. This integrates nicely with the new 11 speed shifters I've been rocking this year. Maybe now I will push myself to jump into a road race or two, since I have not done one yet this year. The horror!
Speaking of racing, I am getting ready to start a huge block of racing starting next weekend... pretty much every weekend through August. This is crazy because then I'll start to taper for cross season. This is cool, and as much as I am looking forward to cross races, I'm not sure I'm ready for cross weather just yet. Yes, of course there will be 4-5 races of miserable hot weather but chilly mornings are just around the corner after that. Unlike most other people, I really don't mind the abysmally hot/humid weather. Sure, it's not great and 75 with no humidity is awesome but it's not THAT bad.

Anyhoo, I finally got my wheel project done. I hit a stumbling block two days before I threw down the paint thinking it may look good to murder out the wheels. Alas, dark car with black wheels was nixed. Too trendy and I don't think I'd like them in a year, so silver it is... Surprisingly, the snow tires I ran until this past week did not shred to pieces in this heat. In fact, the tread wore rather well. The rim finish is pretty good, although it's not my best work. Not sure if that's a result of the paint I used or operator error. Either way, they look ok and I expect 97% of the people that see them will not even notice. Except for you, of course, my loyal readers that hang on my every word and will notice now that I've pointed them out.

As a final tidbit, I've somehow managed to wind up with a sweet quiver of MTB bikes that makes me feel like a PRO, even tho I may not ride like one. Pretty much the only difference between the two is the brakes, and I'm about a week away from making that happen since the new Magura SL brakes are pretty much that good. As a testament to the design, the Epic has been the hands down favorite to ride this year since it realistically rides like a hard tail until the brain lets the suspension do it's thing. It also helps that with the Epic I have power data which is all the more motivating to ride that. Too bad it's not wireless and thus easily swapable, because the HT is an awesome ride. Plus, at 20 lbs, it would floss the trails like my hygentist flosses my teef.

And with that, I'm out.

-the ATM

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Do work, son!

I have been universally getting my ass kicked in pretty much every facet of my life as late. I recently decided that my brain is generally vibrating, just enough to be uncomfortable. My normal day-to-day work of supporting a mining haul truck manufacturer has been somewhat oddly extremely busy. This is more realated to process improvements and new hardware development but the simple fact is there's plenty of work to be done. As part of some recent corporate restructuring, I've also had to pick up some smaller (well, 30 liter is smaller compared to the 60 and 78 liters I deal with for OEM support. Your car probably has around 3 liters of engine displacement, for reference) global mechanical engine support, which means any question anyone has anywhere in the world comes to me. "You see, I have people skills. I work with the GD customer!" (Office Space, BTW). So ramping up that knowledge base has been a semi-time consuming pain. On top of that, I've been burning the midnight oil with garage projects such as the s-l-o-w-l-y progressing wheel refinish project, which has been temporarily suspended so that I can finish a woodworking project:
Naturally, I've been training my keister off and pulled out an MTB TT win along with a 5th place in the season opener Indiana MTB race series, against some baller regional PROs... which is OK given my level of accumulating fatigue from burning said midnight oil.
This is in support of the biggest source of my lack of posting of late. You see, I went in with my friend and all around good guy Don to buy a bike shop. So for the last 6 months or so, we've been doing alot of research, writing of proposals, texting and talking to get things ironed out. As of Monday, though, all the ducks have been placed in a row and we are open for bidniss, which is to say the industry. One of the cooler things that every cyclist should appreciate is the commercial espresso machine:
Soooo, if you find yourself in need of a bike or bike accessories, a tune up from PRO mechanic Zach, or just want a great shot of espresso or cup of coffee, feel free to stop by Revolution Bike and Bean in Bloomington.
Unfortunately, we couldn't do pre-development of the new website so the current one will have to do for the time being. Sorry.

Anyway, hopefully I still have a few readers since it's been about 6 weeks since my last post, which has been wearing on me. I feel better now.


-the ATM

Monday, March 30, 2009

Incontrovertible proof...

...that I have readers.
The title of my blog stems from my early professional years, when I was a Product/Facilities Engineer at a manufacturing plant. There was a good group of 20-something peeps that all got along well. So well, in fact we still hang out together from time to time as schedules, babies, and lives permit. There's a pile of good stories that can be told, but this is not the purpose of this post.
Since we all pretty much hated our jobs and felt like the man was beating us down on a daily basis, we called the company 'The Sweatshop,' and the good group of peeps was 'The Sweatshop Crew.' Generally speaking, Fridays were group lunch days, and since I was in Plant Engineering I was always stuck in the shit and had to get paged over the P.A. system that everyone else was waiting for me. This wouldn't have been a big deal except the P.A. was used for all support requests, which meant that everyone heard every page. Like a really bad game of telephone, whatever was heard was relayed over and again. At some point somebody from the factory floor paged me as "Andy Messner" so the name stuck. It became somewhat of a game to me to correct people and since I can be that harsh, I would walk up and tell the offending pager that the N in my name was silent. My humor was lost on them, based on the blank stares I regularly got.
In any event, other variations were also paged so my Crew decided it was funny to page me in the same fashion. Mesner, Mefner, Muffler, Mexner - any concoction of letters, they said it. One of my friends took a liking to Mexler so that anytime we had to put our name in for a restaurant Mexler was given. And so it stuck.
The werks part of it is from my German heritage, and the fact that I dig Bavarian Motor Works, which is long for BMW. As I've previously posted, I'm somewhat handy, and tend to do things myself. Coincidentally, same friend that coined Mexler also began saying I had a shop for cars based on the work I did to my cars, etc. The German word for shop can loosely be translated into Works, or spelled with an 'e' in German parlance soooooo..... 1 + 2 = 3... Mexlerwerks is born.
There's more to that story but again, that is not the purpose of this post.

No, the purpose of the post to prove that this viral marketing on the interweb is a real phenomenon.
For several years now, I have been sponsored by Crank Brothers for my cycling endeavors and every order I place, my name is written by me correctly spelling my last name. Never once have I hinted at an alternative spelling. To my enjoyment, I laughed out loud when I saw the address from a recent package from Crank Brothers:

Now either people have a hard time reading the letters I typed in the computerized form I filled out (ie, did not hand write anything) or this blog actually has readership. For ego's sake I'll take the latter.
So for those readers out in Cali - Laguna Beach in particular - You make sweet pedals. And a lot of other sweet bike parts. And sweet apres' ride gear. Keep it up. Thanks.


-the ATM

Monday, March 23, 2009

...In my spare time

I never cease to amaze myself how I'm able to cram so much crap in my life. Specifically, How much crap I try to (and generally do) get accomplished - not the least of which is this blog.
I realize it's at the expense of sleep, but that's why God created coffee.
Which is nice.
Several years ago, I at least figured out the root of my predilection in that I pretty much can't stand having something done by someone else when I can do it myself, and in my head I can do it better, for cheaper. Plus I generally feel better knowing that I know how to do something.
Rebuild a Ford V8 from my brother's boat?
Rebuild Toyota Landcruiser engine?
Design and build trailer hitch for my last two cars?
Work on bikes?
But of course.
The list goes on, so at the risk of sounding too arrogant I'll stop there. I like to say I'm a jack of all trades, master of none. Aside from being a cool dude. Pretty much got that one dialed.

So my latest project involves my car, and in particular the summer wheels. As a long term plan when I bought the car, I knew I would need to refinish the wheels after the original tires wore out since the wheels had been poorly repainted and that paint was flaking off. I like to keep my whips tight, so flaking wheel paint is a no-no.
I've repainted wheels before but a light scuffing with sandpaper was all that was needed for those. Having flaking paint would require much more effort, and rather than have a not-so-smooth finish from hand sanding (not to mention probably 20-30 hours of hand sanding) I had a local blast shop media blast the wheels (cheaper to have them do it then buy a sand blast cabinet. I looked.). As expected, they got a little hot with the media in a few spots so some filler touch up was required.(Note red marks to indicate where to fill).

After looking around at options, I decided on Glazing Putty and got to it.Glazed, but not sanded.

Center rough sanded, outer ring not sanded.

It's been a two day (well, an hour each night) process so far, but I'm encouraged with the progress and how smooth the test areas are turning out. With any luck, I'll have some freshly painted wheels in a week or so, thus allowing me to get back to some normalcy so I'm not rocking the 15" squishy snow tires when spring fully hits.

Stay tuned for more progress pics.


-the ATM

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whips and chains

Spring is just around the corner, so it's about time I got my whips built and dialed in. Semi-famously I haven't been on an MTB since November, mostly due to trail conditions, which has pushed MTB building to the back burner. I Finally got the one-ride-so-far Epic ass end rebuild with all the proper bearings, bushings, etc so it's good to go. Just need a good trail day to let 'er eat. Also got a new fork, and since I liked the Magura Durin Race from last year I decided to add another to the stable.
The trusty HT is a little worse for the wear since I still haven't pulled the cranks off my CX bike, but at least I finally got another saddle so that I could finish dialing my position in. It'll be interesting to see, but I'm guessing it'll be around 21.5 lbs which is not bad for a 19" bike!

As mentioned, the CX bike has some cobbled-together cranks/rings, but having power data is key, so a non-pinned (and thus SHITTY shifting) Salsa 46T outer with a generic 34t inner 94mm BCD is my compact CX gearing to match up with the ISIS Ergomo I have. The Q factor is noticeably wider but hey - the bike still moves forward when I pedal!

I have to do this because I had to send my SRM back to have a new battery installed (great time to die, BTW), which left me powerless (oh the humanity!) on my road bike. It's working out OK since I just ride my CX bike when I need power data and ride the road bike for endurance rides, like the 5 hour team ride last Sunday in steady 20 mph headwinds. awesome.
All that stuff was just a bunch of shuffling to pass the time until my newest whip arrived - an 09 Tarmac PRO SL. I thought it would be a little bunk using the C'dale SRM that I've had for 2 years, but my search for a sucker, er, sponsor to trade me a Specialized SRM for a Hollowgram SRM has thus far proved fruitless.I was actually a bit surprised to see it doesn't look too bad. It will make a bit more sense once I actually get the SRM back and install it, but there are no interference issues and even though they're fairly easily spotted as Cannondale (and we all know how much Cannondale and Specialized like each other!), I'll swear to my grave the cranks are prototype Campagnolo BB30.Being a new whip, and being a Campyphile, I decided it was time to see what asll the fuss over the new 11 speed was about. When I first heard they were going to 11 speeds, I said I wouldn't do it because I didn't want to deal with the incompatibility between cross and road equipment.
but then I went to InterBike.

Kee-ripes that stuff is awesome. I didn't think they could improve on the 10 speed Record I've been rolling the last several years but they sure did. Starting with the front derailleur shifting action is swift. I can cross chain both 39x11 and 53x25 without any chain rub. Not that I would, but I could... The rear derailleur shifting is ever so subtly different than the outgoing 10 speed action. Surprisingly lighter, but at the same time a bit more swift and crisp, and no where near Shimano mush.
Gripes? VERY cumbersome installation of the ergo levers as a result of another effing torx screw, which precludes the use of a ball end hex key for easy adjusting of lever position. Also, while the lack of cable housing bulge is appreciated, the installation is a bit silly - you can't slide the housing into the lever body without uninstalling the shifter - negating any position you just sweetly found.
Anyway, minor annoyances for some righteous gear. I dig.

I also got some sweet other gear, but it doesn't quite fall into the 'whips' category so you get to check back again later. I'd offer an apology but I wouldn't mean it, and - admit it - you like my prose and check daily for blog updates.


Now for the chains part of the post - I bought a KMC Gold 10 speed chain for my CX bike since the Ti-N coating is supposedly more durable. We'll see but the 9 speed chain sure looks sweet on my HT.
As luck would have it, the chain doubles as an old school grill, not like the platinum grills all the kids are getting these days.

The mean mug comes with the teef. You can't not cop a 'tude with fangs like those!


-the ATM

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 3

My final day in Arizona found me getting up at 6:30 for a brisk hour-ish ride to spin out the legs before I paid my keep for Thursday through Saturday. After a quick shot of oatmeal before I headed out, I went to my real breakfast:
Ahhh, the breakfast of champions!
It was convenient the coffee joint I visited on Friday was 45 minutes away so I made that my Saturday destination. After a quick chat with my dad and finishing the coffee, I headed back with a swift tail wind to end the riding weekend on a good note. After I showered, I reported for duty.
In trade for room and board, I agreed to help install a utility sink and some lighting in Todd's garage of his newly built house.Please note I am quite jealous of the two wide, two deep three car garage.
After a trip to Lowe's, we got to work. New construction is nice since everything has not had time to bond to everything else. We made quick work of the sink and moved on to lighting.
Once we figured out the wiring, installation wasn't too bad on that either - the biggest problem was making sure we hit joists so the lights wouldn't fall after I left. Three lights up, job done.Piggy aproved of the installation! Note Heather's very pregger belly - she was posting ads on Craigslist while we did our bidniss then she delivered the baby 5 days later. Talk about a trooper!
Long story short, good flight home but I arrived to 35 degrees. Starting with Monday and carrying all the way through to Friday, I had a a candidate for worst week ever.
That brings me to the soul riding portion of this epic trilogy. I don't generally like to give excuses as to why I haven't been blogging - you probably don't care - but after a solid week of getting shelled at work, I needed something positive. Even though I still had to drive 3 hours up to hang with my family, after work on Friday I busted out a SWEET F A ride that made the stars line back up for me, which is nice.
Even though I did log power data, and the Two Johns generally hold that a soul ride has no data attached, I had a fantastic soul ride, bar none. This played into my good Saturday, where I laid down a threshhold test pretty damned close to my max ever - this in February. My weekend ended with a long-overdue long breakfast with my brother then a drive home and subsequent decompression.



-the ATM

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 2

The ride almost didn't start out so well since I got a block away before I realized I didn't put my freshly filled water bottles on my bike. Problem solved, I headed out. With my home base in Gilbert, AZ I decided to head south a bit then North towards the Superstition Mountains. Since it was friday, I figured traffic would be reasonable and scenery awesome.

I was right. The roughly 90 minutes to get to Apache Junction was a great warm-up and I even found a coffee shop 45 minutes into the ride to top off my caffeine stores for the long day ahead. The beauty of caffeine is also one of headache medicine. With as much coffee as I pretend to drink, many of you think I could pound a cup before bed and fall fast asleep in 5 minutes but the truth of the matter is I usually have no more than 3 cups in a day. Factor in no pop (or soda as you from Da Region say) and that's not THAT much caffeine.
Anyway, back to my headache. It was holding fast and not letting go. After about 2 hours, I hit a point in the road where it started to have a consistent grade up so I pried off my helmet. Chap my ass if you want for removing said helmet but I noticed when I removed it at an earlier stop that my headache went away. Eureka! no helmet = no headache. Given the helmet was brand new to my noggin (and let's face it, I have a big head) I just wasn't used to the pressure points.
Along the way, I passed Canyon Lake and snapped a few pics that don't come close to doing it justice.

The last two are on the road past Tortilla Flats - simply amazing. Best part? February 6th, and I was wearing a short sleeve jersey, wind vest and bib shorts...No arm or knee warmers.
Only after about 3 or so hours did my legs start to feel the effort which puts me much farther along in my training than I've been in years past in February. Even better was that I didn't crack, just had the same sensations for the last two hours of the ride. All said and done, I got 90 miles in in just under 5 hours. Just the ride I wanted.

That evening Todd, Heather and I went to dinner at an 'old town Gilbert' establishment, the Liberty Market, that is owned by some cat named Joe. I say cat because even though he looked to be in his 50s he looked like a guy who wished to be referred to as a cool cat - Tommy Bahama type button down silk shirt (that was not gaudy) and a straw fedora that oozed cool. It didn't hurt that he had imported a Faema espresso machine from Italy that was rumored to be from the mid-1950s.Regardless, it pulled a tasty shot!
It was also a nice treat to have an Espresso Stout from Japan during dinner.
It's a Kiuchi Brewery beer, more info here

yet another novel-like post, so part 3 will wrap it all up

-the ATM

Thursday, February 19, 2009

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 1

I found myself in the semi-fortunate position of having 4 days worth of work in central Arizona a few weeks back, so I took the free flight opportunity to ship my road bike out to some friends in Phoenix for an end-of-week ride or two.
Monday’s flight out of Indy’s new airport was a very early 6a, which meant leaving Mexlerwerks corporate HQ at 4a, which meant a VERY early 3:30a wake time. I did get an hour of sleep in on the plane plus about 90 minutes worth of laptop time, so things worked out OK. Once my plane landed in Phoenix I got the rental and made my way out to Globe, AZ to some stunning scenery along the way.

Upon arrival at the mine site I opened my suitcase to retrieve hard hat and steel toed boots inside only to find the gorillas in baggage had not only broken my plastic container of miscellaneous in-room eating supplies, but also broken open my tub of oatmeal, spilling about 4 cups worth all over my clothes. Sweet.
Anyway, work got done around 6p (8 body time) then we headed out for local Mexican (of course!) cuisine. After getting back to the hotel room at 10p (again, 12a body time) my computer finally decided to connect to the interweb so I felt obligated to catch up on email - being days behind email is not fun. I think I finally passed out around 11:30p for a grand total of 21 hours of wake including the hour kipper on the plane. Crash indeed.
Day two at the mine was more of the same, and when we got done at 7p I jumped in the car and headed south to Tucson since 7a start times are better when you wake at 6a, not 3a. A quick stop somewhere for Subway and gas I was back on the road, enjoying the 75mph speed limits Arizona has to offer. The last 15 minutes of the trip were rough, so loud music and rolled down windows had to be used. Another day, another crash.
Wednesday and Thursday had me at my customer’s testing Proving Grounds south of Tucson, but we managed to get done at a reasonable hour on Thursday, so I was able to start my vacation proper a little early. A quick stop at Fairwheel Bikes at the suggestion of my friend Todd Wells (if he only knew we were friends, it would probably work out better) for a water bottle and drool over two Wilier Triestinas and a couple Parlees, plus scads of S Works and Addicts racked up... very nice.
Coping with the idiot drivers of Arizona, I made my way up to Phoenix to stay with my friends on Thursday night. The first task for Friday was to retrieve my bike from FedEx since the 15 minutes Heather stepped out for errands on Thursday was when FedEx showed up. Of course FedEx was all the way across town which meant 45 minutes each way. A key piece of info that would have been nice to know before hand (and was not told on the phone when I called them) was that they would not allow me to pick up a package sent by me because I didn’t put myself as a ‘in care of’ in the Recipient box. Thanks FedEx phone support! I again used my gift of gab, or maybe my disheveled look, to convince the gal I was not trying to steal my bike from myself and I was on my way.
After I assembled my bike, I was on my way!

stay tuned for part 2

-the ATM

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fat, Dumb and Happy

Figuratively speaking, of course.

I'm finding myself with plenty o' time on the weekends to do things like clean my house, enjoy coffee breaks (lots of those!), sleeping in and the occasional blog post. Even if I've not actually posted much, rest assured I've got lots of good ideas.
Take, for example, today; My big task is to make it to FedEx on time so that I can get my bike shipped off to Arizona for a few days of working on my badges of honor, er, tan lines.(Please note I'm not wearing an arm warmer to match the kit... that's the previous day's ride tan)
Two downsides to this trip are that I have to work for four days out of a week long trip, and once I've gotten used to 75 degree weather I have to come back to 20 degree weather. On the plus side, I've got two days to just ride my bike. I do have a few tasks to do for my buddy who is hosting me - a few small garage projects, nothing fancy. As he pays my mythical salary as CSO of DUM (that's Chief Sanitation Officer for Double Up Motorsports), I am more than happy to oblige.
In my own private cycling news, I got the new fork for my MTB and the build-up is slowly coming along. I'm in a bit of a holding pattern since the cranks I have slotted for my MTB are currently posted up on my CX bike while my road bike is boxed up for the AZ trip. Once that gets back, the full on build will finish and I can sleep well once again. That may also play well with the weather so that when the bike is complete I can throw a leg over ye olde rig and get in a sweet MTB ride, which has not happened since November 16th. This is too long.

Anyway, I'm off.


-the ATM