Monday, December 20, 2010

Flat problems and inflated solutions

As reported in the previous post, December has already been a bad month with regards to flats for me, and in the meantime it has gotten only worse. I had to get some stuff to and from campus yesterday, and when riding down our driveway I immediately noticed that Wolfgang had another flat in the rear! While waiting for my new tires (see below), I had put on the Conti Gatorskins in the back---the tire that up to now had never failed me. I fixed the flat this morning and it seems like the tire is worn down enough that a small glass piece could make its way through it. I guess I'll have to replace the Contis next season.

For the winter, however, I ordered a pair of 700x35 Vittoria Randonneur Pro tires. Requirements were:
  • 32 or 35mm wide
  • flat protection
  • some tread but not too much
  • fairly lightweight
It's more difficult than one would think to find this kind of tire. The Schwalbe Marathon series generally were too heavy (and they have a reputation for having high rolling resistance); most Conti models either had too little tread or were not available in the right size. I would have loved to test the new Top Contact Winter II, but it's not available in the US yet (and the 37mm width might have caused problems anyway). Cyclocross tires from most manufacturers failed on the flat protection requirement. The Vittoria Randonneur series finally seemed to offer what I was looking for. Ideally, I would have like to get the Randonneur Cross Pro, yet my local bike shop couldn't order it via QBP. Thus, I settled with Randonneur Pro in 700x35 which fulfills all requirements except for having potentially having not enough tread for snowy conditions. I should get the tires on Wednesday and will report how they hold up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter adventures

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that Madball were scheduled to play a show at Syracuse's Westcott Theater in mid-December. Since I haven't been to a decent show for many months, I thought I could do a little bike/music mini-trip, cycling up to Syracuse on the 14th, seeing the show, spending the night at a cheap motel, and then riding back the next day. I sent out an e-mail to the FLCC listserv and received lots of good advice about route recommendations. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the show was canceled. If I couldn't have a bike/music experience, I thought I could at least do the bike part and test my new winter gear. Since Syracuse itself is not exactly the most attractive destination and going all the way there and back in one day would have been a bit much, I mapped a route that would combine two of the route suggestion but did not go up all the way into the city.

The weather forecast for Saturday looked pretty good -- mostly sunny and temperatures around 0° C. I didn't sleep well the night before and I hadn't done any preparations on Friday, resulting in a pretty late start at around 10:30. I knew that a significant portion of the ride would be in the dark, but Wolfgang is well equipped and I actually enjoy riding in the dark.

After climbing out of Ithaca through Cayuga Heights, I took the regular route along Hanshaw/Lower/Upper Creek/NY366 into Freeville and continued on CR105/Fall Creek Rd into McLean. After a quick ClifBar stop at the post office there, I continued on the McLean-Cortland Rd towards Cortland. Traffic was a bit heavier on this stretch but not bad at all. In Cortland I then turned north on NY281 (the sensor activated left turn signal at the intersection of NY34B and NY281 is not triggered by bikes) and would follow this road for many miles. Within the Cortland city limits, up until the junction leading to I-81, was the most trafficked part of the ride but, again, it was still fine. Once out of Cortland, the road became wide, flat, and empty. 281 runs parallel to the Interstate and therefore only carries the little bit of local traffic for the few scattered houses in the valley. In Tully, NY281 becomes US11, and had I gone towards Syracuse I would've taken this road or possibly an option further east. Instead, I crossed the Interstate again and then turned onto NY11A. This part starts with a real nice downhill that takes you out of the Susquehanna River and into the Oswego River/Finger Lakes Watershed. In the small township of Cardiff it was time to replace my GPS's batteries and turn West on US-20.

When planning the route I wasn't quite sure what the traffic on 20 would be like, but as it was only a short stretch and there was no good way to go around I just gave it a try. Traffic indeed did increase, but it was still very low and the shoulders were in good shape. US20 takes you into the Cherry Valley and, indeed, the valley is basically filled with orchards. Because 20 doesn't really follow the valley, I turned right onto Hitchings Rd/CR151 and then zig-zagged my way on small back roads to Cedarvale Rd/CR42, later turning left onto Pleasant Valley Rd/CR119. This road leads right into Marcellus where I took another rest break at a gas station. There were still more than 75 km left to go and shortly after Marcellus, on the Old Seneca Turnpike my woes began.

While riding up a hill I noticed that somehow my bike felt very soft and 30 seconds later it became obvious that I had a flat rear tire. Now I wasn't so much surprised, as I've had flat tires with my winter tires pretty frequently, as more annoyed at myself that I hadn't spent the money and gotten myself tires with puncture protection. Well, no big deal, I thought, and quickly put in a new tube. Of course, I inspected the tire for what had caused the flat and somewhere close to where it should have been, I saw a little hole but without anything stuck in it. Thus, I assumed that whatever had caused the flat had already fallen out and went on to reinstall and reinflate the tire. Only a few minutes later, however, the damn tire went flat again. I pondered my options and since I was pretty much halfway between Marcellus and Skaneateles I initially decided to give up, walk the bike to Skaneateles and call the accomplice to pick me up. It was still more than 5 km to Skaneateles still and at some point I got annoyed enough to give it another try. I took out the tire again, patched the tube, inspected the tire, didn't find anything aside from holes, put it back in, and continued. I knew this was my last chance, as now it was dark enough to make another repair really difficult. Well, the tire held the air for a little bit longer, but not much. So I walked/rode/rolled Wolfgang the rest of the way into Skaneateles and called the accomplice. She, of course, was not too thrilled about having to drive more than hour on a potentially icy road, but of course she came pick me up with "Virginia," our trusty carshare car.

Aside from the tires, my gear held up pretty well. The new shoes were warm enough (feet still felt cold at times, but much less so than on previous rides in similar conditions) and so was the work glove/liner glove combo. I'm still waiting for my new wool baselayer shirt to arrive and eventually I might have to increase the warmth on my legs. The dhb winter bib tights were okay, but had it been colder they probably wouldn't have cut it anymore.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter stuff

Winter has arrived somewhat later than usual in Ithaca, but now it's definitely here. Last week was the first time that I had to ride home on snow covered streets and there is a lake effect warning for today. As always, I'm committed to riding year round, and winter after winter I'm fine-tuning my gear to make riding in the cold a more pleasant experience.


In the past couple of winter, I always switched from my 28mm Conti Gatorskins slicks to the 32mm Ritchey Speed Max that came with the Crosscheck. The main issue I've had with they Ritcheys is their bad puncture resistance. I haven't kept exact records, but I definitely had more than 1 flat/1000 km. Flats suck, and they do so quite a bit more in the winter. To deal with this, I originally intended to just keep the Contis with their basically perfect puncture protecting on throughout the winter. After all, most of the time roads are clear of snow and even when there is snow, it's nice to have a skinny tire that will cut through to the road surface. However, in last weeks first snowfall, I realized that this didn't work out so well. I was able to ride home, but definitely noticed that the Contis lacked traction. Consequently, this morning I put back on the Ritchey tires, but eventually I want to get something else. Probably some kind of 'cross tire, but with the added puncture protection.


Regular readers of this blog will remember my persistent issues with cold and numb feet. Since this was basically the main point of failure during previous winters, I decided to spend big and get proper winter cycling boots. Glenn Swan, owner of my trusted local bike shop and year-round rider himself, highly recommended the Lake MXZ302. It took a long time to get the shoes in size 15 wide, but two weeks ago it finally arrived. Due to end-of-semester stress and a cold I haven't been able to test them on a long ride, but they do feel very cozy on shorter rides. I'll keep you updated about their performance.


Another recommendation from Glenn Swan were my Kinco winter work gloves. I had bought one pair last winter and was overall satisfied with them. They had two issues, however: the cuffs on them were of the "safety cuff" variety, meaning they were pretty wide and therefore made it difficult to keep cold air, snow, and rain out of them. In addition, they weren't really waterproof. Well, a month ago I lost one of the gloves, giving me an opportunity to find something even better. It turns out that Kinco also make a waterproof version of the glove with a knit cuff (model is 1938 KWP instead of 1938) and that's what I got. So far I'm pretty satisfied -- they are indeed waterproof and as warm as the other model. I'm not quite sure yet how much I like the knitted cuffs. They do prevent water and snow from running into the cuff, but they're also the part of the glove that gets pretty cold. Maybe I'll need some kind of wrist warmer to go with the gloves. In terms of warmth, the gloves alone should be warm enough down to around 0° C, but below that I'd recommend using them with a woolen liner glove. The liner glove is a good idea anyway, as it will absorb some of the sweat that definitely accumulates in the glove on warmer days and harder rides. For really cold days and emergency situations, I still have a big stash of chemical hand warmers.


Because everybody--both people I know and people on the interwebs---is raving about how great their products are, I bought a Showers Pass Touring jacket. While it is a decent jacket, I've become more and more critical of it. First of all, it's not really waterproof. The company makes a big deal about being from the Pacific Northwest and therefore making gear appropriate for really wet conditions, but this doesn't really hold true for my jacket. Whenever I'm either riding for extended periods in light to medium rain or in heavy rain for as short as 20 minutes, the jacket always lets in quite a bit of rain. The largest amount of rain enters through the ventilation zippers under the arm pits. But even the fabric itself is definitely not waterproof. Now I must say that previous to this jacket I've never really owned any bike specific rain gear and therefore can't compare the jacket with other ones. But given how expensive these things are (the Touring has an MSRP of $150) I'm feeling disappointed. I even sent an e-mail to their customer service, trying to figure out if this was a common issue or if maybe my jacket had some manufacturing defect. Well, I've never heard back from them.

December Summary

500 km seems to be my magic number. 500 km per month is what I will probably have ridden on average throughout 2010, and almost exactly 500 km has been the monthly kilomentrage during the last couple of months. Here are the detailed stats for November: Even though winter has definitely arrived, Gunnar got more kilometers than in the previous months -- 204 km total. Wolfgang clocked in at 305, making a total of 509 km/month or 17 km/day. The annual odometer thus is at 5509 km and I'm pretty confident that I will get it up to 6000 at the end of the month.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rennrad-News Winter Trophy

Riding in winter is hard. You have to find ways to keep all of your body parts fairly warm (and usually fail with at least one of them), it's dark, road conditions vary between "sucky" and "outright dangerous," and your poor bike has to suffer from the constant spray of highly corrosive salts. In order to encourage people to ride in the winter nonetheless (or do at least some other physical activity), the German road bike forum has an annual winter trophy. The idea is fairly simple: you log all your cycling and other physical exercise on their website and accumulate points for it. 1 point for 20 minutes of running, for 15 minutes of cycling, and two points for any other sports activity longer than 30 minutes. The trophy began on November 1 and will continue until March 27. I've joined a team with two guys who recruited me on (they seem to be much tougher than me...). You can track my progress at the top of this page.

October Summary

With a bit of delay, I present you the summary for the lovely fall month of October. The bad news: not too many long rides, mostly everyday riding. The good news: I'm still en route to fulfilling my 6000 km at the end of the year goal. Details:

453 km with Wolfgang, 46 km with Gunnar, totalling at 499 km for the month. October had 31 days, which means that's only 16.1 km/day, a pretty low value. Total kilometrage for the year is exactly 5000 km! (No, I did not plan this).

The goal for November basically is to stick with the 500 km/month goal. So far I'm doing good and tomorrow I'll go on a longer ride with a friend from the FLCC. Sometime this month, I'll get a pair of winter cycling shoes, hopefully allowing me to ride in the winter without the constant numbness of feet which has started to become a problem again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September Summary

It's October and since this month I didn't forget to note my bike computer stats, I can present my September riding summary.

The overall kilometrage is 521 km, which is neither particularly high nor low. What is noteworthy is that this riding was almost all done on Wolfgang (494 km).  A large proportion is commuting and transportation, and there was our 135 km camping trip to Greenwood County Park. No Sunday Rides this month and no long rides with Gunnar. Average daily riding was 17.4 km and overall annual kilometers are up to 4501. I think I'll try to reach the 6000 km mark at the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Terrible Hills! Mos Def!

Two posts ago, I mentioned the crazy "Terrible Hills involving the Letter B" ride, and indeed I was insane enough to actually try and do it. There are already several ride reports out there from other people in what was a great group of riders, and I will keep it short.

I hadn't done any long ride since the first week of July (traveling, moving, ...) and thus I was slow and suffered a lot. I fell behind the rest of the group quite early due to general slowness, having to buy new batteries for my GPS, and a wrong turn on Buffalo Road. Probably that was not the worst thing to happen because that at least allowed me to ride at my own pace. I did, however, catch up with the
rest of the group at the end of their lunch stop at Wegmans. Fortunately I spotted Sam's brightly colored FLCC jersey and reached the group just as it was getting ready to go again. Unfortunately, that meant that I didn't really have time to eat and drink more and in the long run that should prove to be disastrous. Anyway, I was fairly determined to make it the whole way, but the not terribly steep but long climb up Bostwick was draining. (Bostwick is my favorite downhill...) I knew that what was to come was my most feared climb: Blakeslee Hill. I had ridden up there a couple of months ago and barely made it -- and that was on a pretty short ride with fresh legs. Well, I completely bonked, taking two short stops on the climb and taking a long stop at the top of the hill. My body clearly had run out of fuel and I gobbled down two whole Clif Bars in record speed. It was obvious that the ride was just too much for me and I decided to ride back home. At the end of the day I had logged about 135 km and 2600 m of climbing. I didn't bring the camera, but fortunately Max Kraft took some nice pics.

On a side note, I decided to throw on my new shiny Brooks Swift for the ride. I was a little skeptical if it would be a good idea to attempt an extremely hard century ride on a new leather saddle. But it turned out to be quite okay. The saddle is comfortable, not too narrow, and it's already showing signs of breaking in.

July and August summary

As mentioned in my previous post, there are no separate summaries for July and August. In both months together I rode a meager 600 km, 338 on Wolfgang and 262 on Gunnar. If we'd assume that the riding was evenly distributed between the months (which it was not, because I did almost zero riding in July), that would bring both months down to the lowest average daily riding, even worse than the winter months. It's definitely time to crank it up a couple of notches before winter comes!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm back

After a long absence, due part to summer travel and part to no interwebs at home, I'm back with regular updates. Just some quick items:
  • I forgot to write down the end-of-the-month kilometrage for July! Sigh. So no accurate July and August summaries. The inaccurate one: not a lot of riding, as I was traveling for 3/4 of the month.
  • Gunnar has a new saddle. After not being able to make up my mind and being annoyed, sometimes by the high prices and idiotic design choices of Brooks, sometimes by the fact that I constantly had to switch and re-adjust saddles between Gunnar and Wolfgang, I finally ordered a Brooks Swift. It got here last week, is hard as a rock, very pretty and hopefully will see some riding this weekend (see below).
Holy smokes!

Odo Wolfgang 5152 km
Odo Gunnar 2429 km

Saturday, July 3, 2010

June Summary

At the beginning of last week I was under the impression that June wouldn't be a particularly good bike month. We had been traveling quite a bit and I didn't make to any FLCC Sunday Rides. Well, it turned out that I nonetheless rode a total of 802 km. Due to good weather and lack of commuting, Wolfgang's kilometrage reached an all-year low with 224 km. Gunnar, on the other hand, did an all-time high of 578 km. Daily average riding was 26.73 km, a little less than last month. Total accumulated annual kilometrage is at 3380 km.

Cannibalization of Lean Muscle Tissue: A Random, Non-Controlled Experimental Study1


In case my accomplice hasn't told you yet: this Wednesday I undertook an attempt to become a legit randonneur by riding more than 200 km in one day. And with a total distance of 231 km in 11.5 hours, going from Ithaca to Lake Ontario and back, I succeeded.

1 Introduction

The plan to ride all the way to Lake Ontario and back has a long history, probably dating back to the winter of 2008/09. The distance, about 110 km, seemed very long and probably beyond my reach, but not insanely so. This was especially true since the elevation profile was definitely one of the more harmless ones around Ithaca. In addition, the existence of a nice-looking state park made me think that it might be a good two-day trip, riding up, camping for one night, and riding back the next day. After having done my first century last year and some serious riding this year, I thought that I should be able to do the ride in one day. The goal of 200 km, the lowest distance that randonneurs do, was a very appealing challenge and I was fairly confident that I'd be able to do it. It might hurt, but whatevs. Because I hadn't done a lot of riding in June and already knew that I couldn't ride much in July, on Monday I decided to do the attempt on Wednesday, the last day of June. The weather forecast was very good–dry, sunny, not too hot–and I would have plenty of daylight.

2 Method

I tend to be terribly slow with everything when I have to get up earlier than usual and thus I tried to get as much of the ride preparations as possible done the previous day. I switched the Brooks and the seatposts from Wolfgang to Gunnar (note to self: need second Brooks!); raised the handlebars by one spacer; cleaned and lubed the chain; replaced the battery on my rear light; put on the Carradice rack and bag, made a heap of all the stuff I was going to bring on the ride; and printed two copies of the cue sheet. I was excited about my ride, resulting in rather bad sleep and therefore I didn't feel too peppy when the local country station woke me up at 5:40. I quickly ate two slices of the tasty banana bread (Figure 1) the accomplice had made for me and by 6:15 I was ready to roll.

Figure 1: Banana Bread

2.1 Materials

3 Results

I started the ride rather tiredly. I could still feel the racing on Saturday and the rides on subsequent days in my legs and I was pretty sleepy. What did wake me up were the low temperatures. I was wearing arm warmers and a wind vest but I was still a bit cold. After traversing Ithaca downtown, I followed NY34 up the hill alongside the Cayuga Lake shore. From Lansing I then descended down into the Salmon Creek valley and after 25 km continued on Indian Fields Road. Indian Fields Rd (which further north continues as Black St) is a nice rural backroad with little traffic and good pavement, but it also has one major disadvantage: dogs! The first pair of them appeared right next to me out of nowhere and scared the bejeezus out of me. Not many km further down I was chased by another beast and by the time I made it to Auburn I had been chased by a total of 5 dogs. This was really pissing me off and for the way back I considered avoiding this route and instead following NY34 all the way. Auburn was 60 km into the ride and around 9 a.m. I took a rest stop at the gas station there to have a cup of coffee and make a wake-up call to the accomplice. My average speed was fairly good, despite several bathroom and one seat adjustment break. The route through Auburn, bypassing the downtown area on the west, turned out to be a good choice and I cut across the city on quiet residential streets (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Dunning Ave in Auburn

Once out of Auburn, the landscape became slightly less agricultural (and less dog-infested). Until Port Byron, a little village next to I90, I stayed on quiet backroads parallel to NY 38. From there on I followed 38 almost all of the way to the state park. Even though it was state highway, the traffic on NY38 was very low. A few km north of Port Byron I made a quick stop at the Seneca River and it had finally gotten warm enough that I could take off the wind vest.

The rest of the ride of the ride to the park was characterized by rolling hills (Figures 3, 4). I had been aware that this portion of the route wouldn't be completely flat, but I hadn't expected the constant rollers that tired me out quite a bit. The constant crosswinds from the Northwest didn't help either; however, the prospect of being at the state park soon kept me going. With arms, calves, and shoulders hurting a bit, I took a final turn from NY38 onto 104 and arrived at the state park at around 11:30, after 115 km. The park turned out to be really nice, providing a great view of the lake and, more importantly, a large sandy beach with significant waves. After a coke from the convenience store and a lunch Clif Bar I put on my swim shorts and went swimming (or rather: standing in the water and enjoying the waves) for a bit. (Figures 5, 6)

Figure 3: Not long, not steep, but tiring nonetheless

Figure 4: Another roller

Figure 5: Great beach, great surf

Figure 6: Someone as excited as me to get into the surprisingly warm water

Even though I still was well within my schedule I didn't stay for too long and got back on the road at about 12:15. In addition to refilling my water bottles, I also prepared one bottle with Hammer Perpetuem, an endurance "food" that apparently is very popular amongst randonneurs and other endurance crazies. I might write a separate review at some point, but let's just say that a) it didn't taste quite as bad as expected and b) I have the suspicion that my stomach can't deal with maltodextrin, one of Perpetuem's main ingredients. Anyway, I was in good spirits and going in this direction the wind actually helped a bit with the rolling hills. I could really feel the uphills in my legs but overall I still held up a respectable speed (for the first half my moving average was somewhere between 24 and 25 km/h). Once back in Auburn, after about 165 km, I made another rest stop at the same gas station and got a big bottle of Gatorade and a pack of peanuts. While consuming these items, I chatted with some teenager on a BMX who wanted to know if there was any money to be made by riding your bike for long distances. If only…

For the last leg of the ride I decided to stay on NY34 to avoid the annoying dogs (somewhere around Port Byron another one had chased me, this time with the owner being present but unable to control it). This turned out to be an excellent decision, as the road had just been repaved. First I was a little annoyed, as the pavement was so new that it was still sticky, but this was only for a short stretch. After that it was super-smooth tarmac in combination with a mostly level road and I sped away in the drops until I got to the intersection with NY90. There it was time for a last stop for another bathroom break and another bottle of Gatorade. Just a few hundred meters after the intersection I reached the 200km mark! (Figure 7) A happy moment, as you can see in the picture. (Figures 6,7) The last section of the ride was rather uneventful and at 5:45, after 11.5 hours and 231 km and with an average moving speed of 24.5 km/h, I arrived back home.

Figure 7: 200km!

4 Discussion

4.1 Pain

The ride was a complete success. By its end I obviously was tired (Figure 8), but compared to some of winter rides this ride wasn't the most painful one. My butt was feeling quite alright, the neck was not too sore (I attribute this partly to me not wearing the helmet) and raising the handlebars seems to have reduced the stress to the upper arms and shoulders a bit. What did hurt surprisingly were my Achilles heels, but I attribute that to Monday's riding in Birks and a saddle that probably was a bit too high. What was also sore was my lower back, something I hadn't experienced on any previous ride.

Figure 8: My tired self (yeah, I do need a haircut)

4.2 Nutrition and Hydration

My nutrition strategy worked very well. By the end of the ride I had
  • 5 Clif bars (250 kcal each)
  • 1 Perpetuem (270 kcal)
  • 1 large bottle Gatorade (200 kcal)
  • .5 small bottle Gatorade (50 kcal)
  • 2 slices of banana bread (400 kcal?)
  • 1 small pack of peanuts (300 kcal?)
  • 1 can of coke (155 kcal)
  • 1 cup of coffee with 1 pack of sugar (15 kcal)
I never felt terribly bonked and only while drinking the Perpetuem did my stomach feel upset. In the future I'll just stick to my Clif Bars which are tasty, energy-rich, and stomach-friendly. Because of the relatively low temperatures I also never was dehydrated. The overall calorie intake of about 2600 kcal was probably pretty close to the maximum possible intake. (Your body can only deal with about 250 kcal per hour)

4.3 Equipment

Aside from the need to readjust the angle of the saddle once and dropping the chain twice I didn't have any mechanical issues. Props to Gunnar for being such a reliable sport. My newly acquired headband did a great job of keeping the sweat out of my eyes (and making me look pretty goofy).

4.4 Route

Because my GPS hasn't made it back to me yet I solely relied on my cuesheets for navigation. This worked perfectly fine. The GPS's stats would've been nice but are not quite necessary. The route itself was a little boring. The landscape between Lansing and Auburn is monotonously agrarian and the section between Auburn and the lake is not too much more exciting. What is great about the route is the very low traffic volume and the halfway point at Fair Haven Beach is really awesome. If I were to do the ride again I would definitely avoid the dog-infested sections (or bring a big can of Halt!)

1.5.5 Future Researchiding

Obviously, the next milestone would be a 300km ride. Not sure if I will do it this year, but at some point I will…


The author is very grateful for the accomplice's support in the form
of banana bread, a great post-ride dinner and a positive attitude
towards my odd hobby.


[1] "Cannibalization of lean muscle tissue" is what Hammer Perpetuem is supposed to prevent. Not sure if it worked. My muscles felt quite a bit cannibalized but maybe that's just me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Race Report: Corning Circuit Race 2010

Yay, I had my first race evar (unless you want to count the 2009 Cascadilla Hill Climb) and--important things first--I've completed 4 out of 4 goals!

Getting to the race

As announced in the previous post, I rode out to the race and back, which turned out to produce some minor complications. Somewhat spontaneously, my accomplice had decided to come to the race with me and cheer and take some pictures. So we and our bikes got on the bus to Enfield at 1:10 and arrived in "downtown" Enfield at 1:35. The race was scheduled to start at 4 and since I had planned to get there for the sign-up etc. half an hour early that gave us about 2 hours for the 35 km to The Glen. Well, complication 1 was that Enfield Center Road turned out to be not only a "seasonal access road," but supposedly also was completely closed. Probably we could've gotten through with the bikes, but Gunnar's 23 mm Dachshund-slicers (German bike slang for thin tires) aren't made for dirt and I knew there would be a parallel road just a bit further West. What I didn't take into account was the fact that this little detour would also increase the amount of climbing quite a bit--something absolutely not appreciated by the accomplice's legs. Thus, we ended up walking most of the way up Harvey Hill which was annoying and, more importantly, cost us quite a bit of time. The part of the ride to Montour Falls was very pleasant (I had ridden parts of it during my epic December 100k) and the pace was good. Nonetheless, there was still a big climb coming up out of Montour Falls, and it was already 3:30! At the bottom of the hill we therefore separated and I rode up the hill in a pace that was much higher than was good for me. I made it to the registration tent at 3:45 and was pretty exhaustedwell warmed-up. Fortunately, the race was postponed to 4:30, giving me a bit time to rehydrate and "eat" some gel and giving the accomplice a chance to make it in time for the race start.


About 25 minutes prior to the start we were allowed to get on the actual track for warm-up. The track was really great! Smooth asphalt, wide lanes, and wide turns--I guess just what you'd expect from a race track. Unfortunately, the course also included two short but kind of steep climbs, which would later turn out to be my doom. The warm up lap took me about 12 minutes, and the race organizers later announced that the Cat 5s would race a total of three laps. In the meantime, the accomplice had also made it to The Glen and I quickly did the obligatory pre-race bathroom run.


The Cat 4s started at 4:30 sharp, exactly one minute ahead of us. Since the track was a slight downhill, the field picked up pace pretty quickly. Because the track was so wide, the peloton was less compact than in your usual road race, making me feel rather safe. The downhill right turn was followed by the steep uphill bump, getting most people out of the saddle and hurting my legs significantly. I hung on with the field through the mostly flat parts and the long downhill halfway in the course. What goes down, must come up, and the less steep but longer uphill hurt me good and transported me to back of the field. I held on for a little longer but before the first lap was finished I had fallen behind. I assumed there would be a couple people behind me and in the course of lap 2 I was passed by a couple of them, making me think I was last. I made brief attempts to hang on with the people passing me but my legs didn't comply. During the final lap I saw someone maybe 300 m ahead of me and he seemed to be going at a pace similar to mine. This gave me glimmer of hope and tried to gradually come closer to him. By the time we were at the last turn before the finish line I was fairly close and I thought I might be able to take him by surprise in a final effort. I dropped some gears, got down in the bars and just pushed as hard as I could. The finish line came closer and closer and I was still behind him, but within meters of the line I finally passed him (I think, at least). Much to my chagrin, I then saw the guy's number and realized that he wasn't even in my category and maybe not even in Cat 4 but only doing an (illegal) warm-up. While my exhausted self was a bit annoyed by that and the conclusion that I probably came in last, I didn't care too much. I had achieved 3 out of 4 goals (no DNF, no crash, no crash) and riding the race track had been a blast.

The Way Back

After a much needed cool down and chugging like three bottles of water, it was 5:30 and we had to get going in order to make it back home before dusk. I (as it later turned out: incorrectly) thought the ride back would be a little less than 40 km, including one major climb out of Montour Falls. Well, major it was, but even though both the accomplice and I were fairly tired we made it up all the way. The road was a really nice back road with almost no traffic and great pavement. After 20 km we turned onto NY-13 and the accomplice, getting increasingly tired, spotted a sign claiming that it was another 17 miles to Ithaca. This obviously was pretty demotivating and we took a quick Gatorade break at the Dandy Mart. Fortunately, NY-13 was mostly flat all the way back to Newfield, but the accomplice suffered nonetheless. Once we were in Newfield all was good though and we thoroughly enjoyed the downhill into Ithaca. The 100k of race day were concluded with a big serving of poutine.


We're currently internetless at home and, thus, I could only look up the race results this morning. And, much to my surprise, I hadn't been last! Place 28 out 35 and therefore fulfillment of all of my goals. Even better.
Unfortunately, there are no more races in biking distance this season. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

First Race Tomorrow!

My identity as a cyclist is definitely not that of a racer. Yeah, I like going fast and pushing myself, but
  • I'm not competitive;
  • I dislike the idea of depending on other people's riding (and potentially crashing);
  • I dislike the kind of macho crap that is very prevalent in the road cycling section of;
  • I don't want to drive to a ride.
But nonetheless I have registered for the Corning Circuit Race tomorrow. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, the race will take place on the Watkins Glen International Speedway, a Nascar track. Aside from it being a closed course and therefore presumably being safer for racing, I have a longstanding connection to Nascar racing. I love car games like Need for Speed, Colin McRae Rally, the Lotus series -- and I played the 1994 NASCAR Racing extensively. I distinctly remember not liking the Watkins Glen track very much, as it was the most difficult one, with all those crazy turns. When I moved to Ithaca the first time and saw that the town of Watkins Glen was very close to it, it took me a while to realize that it was that Watkins Glen. After all, the race tracks in the video games are very much disembodied places for a German teenager who had never been to the US. Long story short: I really like the idea of racing the Speedway. The second reason for racing is that Watkins Glen is in biking distance. I can take the bus to Enfield, and from there it's only 35 km (unfortunately including a bunch of climbing) to the Glen. The race starts at 4:30, giving me a comfortable window to get there and back. The way back after the race might be painful, but whatevs.
I have four goals for the race:
  1. no DNF due to mechanical problems
  2. no crash
  3. no crash
  4. not finishing last
As preparation for the race there is a bunch of things:
  • map out the ride and write a cuesheet (I left my GPS in a friend's car in California)
  • adjust rear derailleur
  • switch seat posts, so that the racing saddle is at the correct height
  • maybe buy a cycling cap to prevent annoying sweat-in-eye problems
  • go for a short ride to shake out the legs
  • study turn-by-turn guide of the track (just kidding)
  • maybe shave legs, in case I fail to achieve goals 2 and 3...
Keep your thumbs pressed (as the Germans say) -- race report will be posted soon.

    May Summary

    It's been ages since I've posted -- too many papers to be written, too much riding, too much traveling. Well, I'll try to catch up a bit in the next few days. First things first, here is the summary of my May riding:

    Wolfgang was ridden for 392 km, Gunnar for 504 km, making a total of 896 km or 28.9 km per day. A clear record month! This makes my accumulated annual riding 2578 km. We'll see if I can top my May riding in any of the remaining months. Neither June nor July are likely candidates, as I just have too much other stuff going on.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Lizard juice...

    A bit of a hit over the head, but a pretty funny and insightful comment anyway:

    Found on Streetsblog.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Hollenbeck's video footage

    As mentioned in my previous post, I shot some footage at the Hollenbeck race and now I've uploaded it to youtube (note to self: get a Vimeo account). Please excuse the shakiness and mediocre editing. I'm still new to this video thing.

    A whole lotta bike

    Last Sunday was a day full of various kinds of bike-related events: I volunteered at the Hollenbecks Spring Classic race, organized by the FLCC, and I did a lot of riding. Leaving the house at 7 am, I rode Gunnar out about 30 km to the start of the race, Hollenbeck's Cider Mill in Virgil. It hadn't cooled down much during the night and the forecast predicted a hot and potentially thunderstormy day. I coated myself in a thick layer of sunscreen and hopped on the bike in just shorts and a short-sleeve jersey. Because it was early Sunday morning, I took the most direct route, following NY-366 and 13 to Dryden, and then 392 to Virgil. As expected, there wasn't much traffic and the only thing I was struggling with was the fact that I can't eat that early in the morning and was therefore pacing along on an empty stomach. Nonetheless, I got to Virgil well before the scheduled pre-race meeting for the corner marshals.

    After we had been assigned our corners, I had about 35 minutes left before the start of the race and so I decided to ride out to the corner instead of getting a ride. The distance was 9 miles and involved one large climb, meaning that I'd have to put in quite a bit of an effort to make it in time. The racers warming up on 392 at a more leisurely pace were probably wondering why that guy with a Carradice saddle bag and baggy shorts was passing them at maximum effort... Well, I got to my corner just before the other volunteers arrived by car and then had 3 hours of flag waving, videotaping, and waiting for the next pack of riders to come through. After the last rider had made past our corner, I rode back to the cider mill and after hanging around for the little ceremony for the winners, I decided to ride back immediately in an effort to avoid getting t-stormed upon.

    On the way to Dryden I could really feel my legs and I decided that I definitely needed water, electrolytes, and calories. Well, what better way to get all these things at once than going to McD and having large fries and a large coke? And indeed, this made me feel much better! So I got going again and thought of ways of lengthening the way back to Ithaca in a way that would make my total kilometrage that day get over 100 (at the McD in Dryden I was at 70km). Initially I thought I'd just ride out to the airport and take NY-34 back into town instead of following Upper and Lower Creek Road into campus. However, as I was feeling really good and the weather had gotten better again, I decided to something a bit more crazy: ride out to the airport but then not return to Ithaca but instead follow the route of the FLCC "Almost Genoa" ride that I had done a couple of weeks ago. And that I did.

    For the part of the route that heads north, I was doing fine. The strong winds were mostly coming from the side to back and the route is rather flat. The climbing along NY-90 made me feel my legs again but the prospect of getting to the gas station at the intersection NY-90 and -34 propelled me forward. At the gas station I took a quick break to down a bottle of Gatorade -- and made the mistake of not also topping up my water bottles. On the way back south, first following 34 and then Salmon Creek, I had to head into the wind (even though not as badly as I expected it to be) and my body got more and more complainy. My butt hurt, my legs and upper arms were tired, and overall I felt a bit bonked. The steep climb up Brickyard Rd certainly didn't make things better and I was also running out of water. Anyway, in the end I made it all the way home, having ridden almost exactly 150 km, at an average moving pace of 25 km/h. Pretty epic, I'd say.

    Lessons for future long distance rides:
    • find a way to deal with the breakfast issue. Maybe I can force myself to have some liquid calories in the morning?
    • The Brooks did a good job but nonetheless my butt did hurt quite a bit. Not sure what to do about that. 
    • Gunnar rode like a charm. I think running 700x23c tires works very well, even over long distances. I might raise the handlebars a little bit to put less stress on my arms. 
    • Drink more. Eat more. As much as I know how important this is, on the ride I still keep on ignoring this knowledge.
    As soon as I have the time, I'll try the 200k to Lake Ontario and back.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    April summary

    Holy smokes, it's already May! Well, here comes the April summary. Wolfgang was moved around 330 km, Gunnar 176 km, making a montly total of 506 km. Both this and the daily distance of 16.9 km/d are record values for this year. Total accumulated mileage for this year is 1682 km. I'm pretty optimistic that May will be even better!

    Odo Wolfgang: 4284 km
    Odo Gunnar: 1224 km
    Odo total: 5508 km

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    My first video, evar

    The accomplice bought me a great b-day present: A Kodak Zi6 mini video cam! So no longer I have to bore you merely with epic ride reports. No, now I can bore you even more with lengthy, shaky videos of NY back roads! Just kidding, of course. Anyway, last Saturday I did a first test on our ride to a BBQ at Treman State Park and this is the awesome result:

    I still have to find a movie editor that is better than Windows Movie Maker.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Danby State Forest loop

    Just a quick ride report about an outing with Tim: we wanted to do a short, 1.5 to 2 hour ride with a bit of climbing. I thought a short variation of my January ride to Spencer would be good for this purpose -- and it was! We went out to Buttermilk Falls, up Sandbank Road, turning right on West King/Jersey Hill and right again onto Comfort Road. Comfort Road at some point turns into a dirt road but in dry conditions it's very ridable, even with 23 mm slicks. Comfort Road ends in the state forest and we turned right onto Bald Hill. Bald Hill Rd. is a very steep descent and where it becomes a "minimum maintenance road" you turn sharp right onto Station Rd, another steep and gravelly descent. Close to the bottom of the hill, the road becomes paved again and shortly after crossing the railroad tracks, you reach NY34. Riding on 34 from Ithaca into the Spencer direction is only medium. There's quite a bit of traffic, including trucks, and even though the road is never steep it nonetheless is basically a 15km uphill. On the other hand, going down on 34 is really neat. You can easily average 30 km/h and you don't have to brake at all. We considered punishing ourselves by turning right again onto Blakeslee Hill Rd (which is supposed to be a pretty mean hill), but for the sake of making it home in daylight we just continued into Ithaca on 34/96.

    35 km, 420 m of climbing

    Odo Wolfgang: 4158 km
    Odo Gunnar: 1224 km
    Odo total: 5382 km

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    BikesnobNYC book

    Bike Snob
    So I've just pre-ordered BikesnobNYC's book from Amazon. They say that it'll be available in early May but since the publisher, Chronicle Books, has it scheduled for tomorrow, I'm hoping I'll get it a bit earlier. I'm a big fan of BSNYC (one of my all-time favorite posts: Too much irony, too little time) and his various snarkways, so my expectations are high!

    Lovely bike pr0n spoof

    If it hadn't been for the terminology that was decidedly too post-modern for 1980, I wouldn't have spooted to spoof. If you want some extra fun, turn on Google's automatic subtitles. Via Carlton Reid

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    New Front Wheel for Gunnar

    I don't really have a good excuse for doing this, but I've built a new front wheel for Gunnar. As you might remember, currently he's running Wolfgang's old Alex-DA16-on-Deore 36 spoke wheel. While this works just fine, the internal rim width of the DA16 is 16.3 mm (at least according to their website) and thus technically a teeny tiny bit to small for my 700x23 tires. But I admit: this is a lame excuse for my urge to build a new wheel. An additional boost to this urge actually came from a gift from my friend Löby, who gave me an old but functional dial indicator. The idea is to mount it to my truing stand, theoretically allowing me to true wheels down to 0.01mm. Well, I'm still working on the attachment to the stand which turns out to be a bit tricky.

    But I've built up the wheel anyway. It's a 32 spoke Mavic Open Pro with DT Swiss Comp 2.0/1.8 spokes on an Shimano Ultegra HB-6600 front hub. After lacing the wheel the wrong way twice, three times was the charm and now it's all trued and tensioned. Figuring out the correct spoke tension was a little tricky because my Wheelsmith tensiometer's calibration table only gives values for their own double-butted spokes which are 2.0/1.7 and not 2.0/1.8. But since the absolute value for spoke tension is not that crucial anyway (Mavic recommends 1050-1100 N) it shouldn't matter too much.

    One final note about the wheel: the Open Pros don't come with a wear indicator. Therefore I've measured the thickness of the rim's sidewall. A trick to do this: attach a little magnetic ball to your caliper in order to get around the flange of the rim. My measurements came to almost exactly 1.5mm. This should give me a good point of reference for judging rim wear.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    FLCC Sunday Ride, Attempt 2

    After our somewhat sucky experience with last week's FLCC Sunday Ride, I thought I'd give it another shot, this time not with the accomplice, but with my German riding buddy Tim. We met downtown at 9:45 and rode up the hill to the East Hill Plaza meeting place. There were about 8 people there already, once again all in Spandex and on road bikes. Well, this time I was prepared and had brought Gunnar (no spandex, though). We got going just a bit after ten and the pace was fairly fast, but not too fast for my (or Tim's) taste. We dropped a few people during the first part of the ride but re-congregated at the Warren Rd post office where we met another rider. From the airport on, we had to struggle with a fierce wind from the North and at some point I was feeling a little bonked. Well, fortunately the Clif Bar consumed during the stop at the post office kicked in quickly and I was feeling fine again. So fine that I actually did quite a bit of pulling and ended up in a breakaway group of three people. Our only other stop was at the gas station at the intersection of NY 90 and 34, where we waited for most of the other riders. From there on, the riding-into-the-wind was mostly over and we zoomed down Salmon Creek valley into Ludlowville, up the hill to Lansing and back to campus on Warren Road. After about 3.5 hours we were back at the East Hill Plaza parking lot. Verdict: great ride, awesome route! But don't come to a Sunday Ride if you're not well trained and want a truly relaxing ride on your non-road bike. Unless you don't mind being dropped quickly.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    First FLCC Sunday Ride (well, kind of)

    The FLCC's Sunday Rides started this weekend and given the lovely weather and the announcement that the first ride would be taken "as a social occasion more than a serious ride" the accomplice and I decided to join the party. When we arrived at the meeting point, however, basically everyone on the parking lot looked pretty serious to us---lycra clad, road bike-equipped guys. Well, we joined the ride anyway but it became clear pretty quickly that we couldn't/wouldn't want to keep up with their pace. Thus we decided to let the other guys do their thing while we'd be doing our own. At a pace comfortable to us, we rode out on NY-89 to lovely Taughannock State Park, up to Trumansburg with a pastry stop at Gimme!, and back to Ithaca on nice, quiet back roads. It was a really nice ride, except for the fact that we had forgotten to put on sunscreen and the accomplice got burned quite a bit.

    We might give the Sunday Ride another try, hoping that there will be more like-minded (and like-speeded) cyclists.

    Odo Wolfgang: 4004 km
    Odo Gunnar: 1048 km

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Spring maintenance and upgrades

    The weather is lovely outside and tomorrow we'll be going on the first FLCC Sunday Ride of the year. Today (and a good deal of yesterday), however, I did a lot of work on Wolfgang. I installed a new granny gear, a new front derailleur, I checked and repacked the rear hub bearings; switched from Ritchey Cross Tires to the Conti Gatorskin slicks; and I wired my accomplice's BUMM Toplight Line Plus rear light.

    Switching from double to triple clearly was the most laborious process and actually I wasn't able to complete it successfully. I had bought a Shimano XT FD-M773 front derailleur, a Salsa 26t chainring and a 118mm bottom bracket to adjust the chainline. Using the fabulous Park Tool instructions, the cranks came off, the bottom bracket was removed (required several attempts and a bunch of WD40), threads cleaned and regreased, and the new bottom bracket installed.

    As I had to take off the chain anyway and the current chain had reached the .75 mark, I also switched the chain back to the old chain. What I immediately noticed was the difference in corrosion between the two. The old one was an Sram PC 971, the more current one to be switched out a PC 951. Despite mostly fenderless use during the 2008/2009 winter, the 971 was completely corrosion free; whereas the last winter had left significant traces on the 951. The difference between the two chains is just a couple of dollars--and the fact that the 971 is nickel-plated. I'll definitely keep this in mind when buying another chain.

    Finally, I put on the third chainring and the new derailleur and started adjusting. This is where the trouble began. I couldn't get the derailleur to clear the small chainring, even when the L limit screw was set to the max. I initially thought I had done something wrong, maybe with the height adjustment. But after extensive consultation with my online friends, I've come to the conclusion that derailleur and bottom bracket just don't go together, even though the specifications and Glenn's expertise implied otherwise. What I'll try next is to re-install the old Tiagra derailleur and see if it's going to work -- apparently double front derailleurs often also work for triple.

    Odo Wolfgang 3954 km
    Odo Gunnar 1048 km

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    March Summary

    March has been the first month with a whole bunch of days of good weather. What does that translate into in terms of stats? Wolfgang rolled in at 305 km and Gunnar made 94 km in his first month of outdoor riding. In addition, I also rode about 60 km on my Dad's MTB in Germany. This leads to a total of 449 km (Feb: 398 km). March had 31 days, so the daily average was 14.5 km, just slightly more than February (14.2 km/day). Total annual kilometrage is 1176 km.

    Odo Wolfgang: 3954 km
    Odo Gunnar: 1048 km

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Crash report

    Okay, so I'm on a short visit to Germany and what happens: I get hit by a car. The most important thing first: I'm fine, not even a scratch. The bad news: My Peugeot is in rather bad shape. I was riding through a traffic circle near Welzheim when a person in a Mercedes ignored my right-of-way, entered the circle, and hit me on my rear wheel. Because speed were relatively low, I somehow managed to not fall and hurt myself. But the rear wheel of my bike is definitely gone, as you can see on the picture. As I'm typing, the LBS is checking if anything else was damaged, but I think that's not very likely.

    Badly Bent Bicycle

    What's kinda interesting about the accident is the GPS log.

    GPS-Log and Map

    You can clearly see how I was approaching the traffic circle, slowed down, and then got hit, leading to a spike in the recorded speed.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010


    Finally the weather has been nice enough for me to take out Gunnar for a couple of rides. After a short loop through the city and a ride to the FLCC spring seminar two Sundays ago, yesterday I took Gunnar on a real test ride, out to Taughannock and back on Route 89. And Gunnar rides like a charm. I pushed it pretty hard and averaged at 30.7 km/h for the out-of-town portion of the ride. I think the geometry works pretty well for me, but I will keep tinkering with it: saddle height is maybe still a bit too low, but the current seat post is already at its max. And if I have to get a new seat post anyway, I might get one with a different set-back. Currently my KOPS (knee over pedal spindle) position is about 6 cm behind the spindle and my saddle is as far forward as possible. I'm well aware that several cycling gurus are rather skeptical of the KOPS method and their arguments are making a lot of sense to me. But given that my saddle is at the margin of adjustability, a zero-setback post would give me more options to tinker with my position. Probably I should just ask Glenn for advice. Handlebar height might get readjusted downwards, too. At the moment my posture is fairly aggressive, but I think I could drop a spacer or two and still be comfortable.

    I'll go for another ride with another German guy today and we'll see how Gunnar feels after 2 or 2.5 hours. I definitely expect my behind to hurt, as the Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow (I have the one without titanium rails) saddle is just too tiny. My knees might also be a trouble spot, as I messed them up a bit yesterday, courtesy of a downward sliding seat post...

    I also shot some outside pictures of Gunnar. I hope you'll enjoy:

    Odo Wolfgang: 3924 km
    Odo Gunnar: 991 km (point zero is at 954 km)

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    More ride, less blog

    What's a good indicator of the coming spring? That my kilometrage is up and my blog-postage is down.

    Just a quick maps-con-pics from last week's lovely ride to Taughannock Falls. If you want more details: I think the accomplice might blog about the ride soon.

    Oh, and I've done the first couple short rides on Gunnar. Verdict: nice ride, but still needs some adjustments. More detailed account to follow sometime.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    February Summary

    March is here, and hopefully that means that spring will arrive sometime soon, too. Well, in any case it's time for a February summary. Total kilometrage for the month was was 398 km, up from 329 km in January. This makes a total of 727 km for 2010 so far. Not bad, given the weather conditions and the fact that the month only had 28 days (average in Feb: 14.21 km/d vs. 10.61 km/d in January). Longest ride was the 58 km to Genoa and back -- anything longer was made impossible mostly by the weather conditions and one weekend lost to a conference. I guess I'll hit the first 1000 km sometime in March, but because I'll spend a third of the month in Germany, I might miss matching this month's mark. We''ll see. I hope that March will at least bring a couple of days that will be appropriate for Gunnar's maiden voyage.

    Odo Wolfgang: 3659 km

    Ride report: Genoa

    In a last-minute effort to increase my February mileage a bit and to figure out the road conditions for part of my planned ride to Lake Ontario, I went on a loop ride from campus to Genoa last Wednesday. Conditions were mediocre: around 0°C, cloudy, no precipitation, but a really gross film of dirt, salt, and water on the roads. A second pair of pants would definitely have been good.

    My route led me straight north from Cornell campus, past the Lansing malls and up to the intersection with NY-34. There I turned left to follow 34B for a short portion (lots of trucks on there, going to and from the Cargill salt mine in Lansing) and then turned right onto Brickyard Hill Rd. This road leads you down into the Salmon Creek valley. Salmon Creek Rd is one of those great Upstate New York rural roads: good surface, mostly flat and almost no traffic.

    Salmon Creek Road

    The valley itself is not exceptionally a pretty, as it is a mix of farmland and more natural areas, but it's still a nice ride.

    Deserted Mack in the forest

    At the confluence of Little and Big Salmon Creek, the road name changes to Indian Fields Rd, and the road takes you straight north on the only major climb of the route.

    Uphill on Indian Fields Road

    Up on the hill, I turned right from Indian Fields Rd onto NY-90, which is an awesome, straight downhill into Genoa proper. There's a convenience store and a gas station in Genoafor getting food and water.

    Zoooming down into Genoa. Vmax > 70 km/h

    From Genoa, I mostly followed NY-34 back into Cornell.

    So what's the verdict on taking Salmon Creek/Indian Fields instead of 34 for getting to Auburn? The former is definitely the prettier alternative, but it comes at the cost of quite a bit of up and down. Traffic on 34 wasn't as bad as I thought, but that might be related to the time of day. All in all I think I would take the Salmon Creek route to take me north.

    A short PS: I forgot to mention that after I was back from the ride, had gotten myself a cookie for refueling and came out of the Cornell Store, I saw that I had a flat. The changing of the tire was pretty gross, but at least it didn't happen during the ride itself. The Ritchey tires definitely are not very good in puncture protection. This is the second flat in probably less than 2000 km. I suppose I'll nonetheless keep them until the arrival of spring and maybe switch to something better next winter.

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Bike fit workshop tomorrow

    As part of their annuyal sprin seminar series, the Finger Lakes Cycling Club will have a bike fit seminar tomorrow. I'm really excited and hope to be one of the people who will receive a fitting. As regular reader will know, I'm not totally satisfied with Wolfgang's fit and maybe the seminar will help me getting rid of issues like numb feet.

    Here's the original announcement:
    This Sunday, Feb 28 is the first seminar of the annual spring series. The topic will be BIKE FIT (and related mechanical issues).

    We will provide some riders with free fitting, as we use them for demonstration purposes to illustrate the mechanics and physiology of bike fit. I can't guarantee that we will have time to provide everyone who attends with a personal bike fit, but if you attend and pay attention, you will be well on your way to being able to evaluate your own position and that of your fellow riders.

    The seminar will run from 10:00AM until about Noon and will take place in the 1st floor lounge (room 128) of Olin Hall Chemical Engineering on the Cornell campus. This building is located across from Gannett Health Center, across from Carpenter Engineering Library, and nearly adjacent to the Campus Store.

    All seminars are free and open to the public. All interested cyclists are welcome, so please spread the word to other lists or to friends and families.

    Glenn Swan

    V-Brakes and Drop Bars

    For the record: I exchanged brake pad inserts on Wolfgang, switching from the Tektro stock pads to Koolstop Dual Compound. So the original pads lasted about 4 months and maybe 1500 km (no record keeping yet back then, unfortunately). Given the adverse conditions of winter I guess that's a reasonable value.

    The old pads on dirty, dirty Wolfgang

    What remains of the pad...

    New pads installed

    While switching the pads, I also installed a new brake noodle with an integrated adjuster barrel.. This is a nifty way to deal with one downside of v-brakes on drop bars. With straight bars and the respective brake levers, you have an adjuster barrel integrated into the lever, allowing to compensate for the wear of the brake. With drop bar levers, on the other hand, you have to do this compensation by loosening and readjusting the brake wire. This is somewhat tricky/time-consuming, and, more importantly, it's not good for the longevity of the brake wire. The new noodle takes care of this issue and it was only 4 bucks.

    © Rivendell Bicycles

    One issue I'm still dealing with is brake squeal. The Koolstop instructions advise you to install the pads without toe-in because they're already curved themselves. My first attempt, however, lead to horrible brake squeal. I tried fixing it by adding toe-in but this didn't do anything. What did alleviate the problem was to increase the torque on the brake bosses (in combination with having the brake pads installed as advised by Koolstop). This doesn't entirely get rid of the squeal but it has definitely gotten better.

    Odo Wolfgang: 3645 km (this is a late post; brake pads were actually installed at 3560 km)

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Upgrade for Gunnar

    Courtesy of the yearly sale of German online bike shop Rose, I've ordered a little upgrade for Gunnar. As you might remember, currently I have the old Alex DA-16/Deore wheel from my Cross-Check installed. The upgrade will be a Shimano 32H Ultegra Hub with DT Competition spokes on a Mavic Open Pro hub. That should shave a couple grams off of Gunnar's weight, look nicer, and be more appropriate for running thin tires. But first I have to wait for my Germany visit in order to pick up the components.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Ride report: Trumansburg

    Quick ride report: Temperature only slightly below 0° C made me jump on Wolfgang and do my standard round to Trumansburg and back. When I started it was very grey and snowing, making the ride to Trumansburg not terribly pretty;.

    I love those quiet country roads...

    I was, however, rewarded with a nice view of the icy falls in Taughannock State Park.

    From Trumansburg ride

    The reason for riding to Trumansburg (aside from it being a nice ride) is that it allows me to work for a couple of hours at the Gimme!Coffee there.

    Wolfgang parked in downtonw T-Burg

    On the way back, I made a quick stop at the lower Taughannock Park (the Gorge trail is open, btw) and at Allen Treman Park in Ithaca to shoot some pictures of the lake.

    It was pretty windy

    From Trumansburg ride

    Not the right time of year for a BBQ

    The Cayuga inlet is completely frozen

    Ride stats: 48.6 km, 588 m elevation gain, average moving speed 21 km/h

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Wolfgang with the new Brooks

    I just remembered that I still haven't posted any pictures of Wolfgang with the new Brooks saddle. Well, here it is. As noted previously, so far it has been pretty comfortable but it's definitely not broken in yet. From looking at the picture, I'll probably change the angle of the saddle by a bit and put the nose further down. Common knowledge has it that Brooks saddles need to be angled up a little, but my current set-up might be a bit too much.