Friday, July 26, 2013

I am a courteous guy

I have noticed that my commute times have been inching slower over the last few months.  Given the lack of rest and my prioritizing miles over speed, my ride which used to be a steady 1 hour 21 minutes has crept into a more standard 1 hour 24 minute pace.  Sure, I can still get sub 1.20 with the Raiders.  But a casual five-day-commute week pace makes me a happier person.

As a result, I seem to be getting passed a little bit more these days.  Generally getting passed doesn’t bother me.  Especially from the matchy matchy backpack-less guys.  But I have taken notice of people that like to ride fast.  And sometimes I jump on their wheel for an easier spin.

This morning, I was riding a respectable 20 miles per hour on the MV bike trail when I got dropped by a chick in a Team Red kit.  She seemed to be working extra hard to get in front of me, so I let her go.  Of course, as they always do, upon getting in front of me, she immediately slowed down and interrupted my pace.  I thought about passing her again, but I could tell that she had it in her keep the pace going.  I eased up and enjoyed her slipstream (and by slipstream, I mean staring at her ass).  I also didn’t want to get in a yo-yp battle with her.  I had to brake on the Mollie Stones downhill to stay in back but her cadence immediately picked up by the time we gotto Poggios.  And, as predicted, she was gone once we hit Golden Gate Market.  When I reached the top of South Street, she had already passed the next hill on Alexander, never to be seen again.

Damn those matchy-matchies …

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ahoy, matey

See all those gaps in the stacks of containers?  How many do you think fell off during rough seas?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Breaking bikes in new and exciting ways

I tend to learn about things by hands on experience.  The same applies to bikes in that I learn the mechanics of a bike usually only when something breaks and I have to fix it on the spot.  On this morning's commute, I got to get my hands dirty and learn a few tid bits about wheels and dropouts.

The new Surly Cross Check is my ultimate commuter bike.  It is a steel frame with lugs and eye bolts everywhere.  I can add panniers, baskets and all sorts of other fun parts.  I put beefy 28mm tires on my monster 36 hole Deep V Velocity wheels.  This allows me to just up and down curbs, roll on path or dirt, whatever my heart desires.

The Surly frame is outfitted with horizontal, front-facing drop-outs for the wheels (unlike the more traditional vertical drop-out).  These drop-outs are intended for either geared bikes (like mine) or single speed bikes.  The horizontal nature of the drop out allows easy access to the wheel in order to loosen or tighten the chain tension around a fixed gear (I learned this today on the internet, after the fact).  

So today's lesson revolved around the physics of pedaling and the stresses that are placed on the chain, cassette and wheel.  In pedaling forward, tension comes from the pedals, runs through/around the chain, which then turns the cassette attached to the rear wheel and propels the rear wheel around.  Even so, the  pedaling places tension that squeezes the rear wheel towards the pedals.  In a vertical drop-out, that squeezing is dispersed through the frame of the bike and the wheel is held in place partly by the frame, partly by the lawyers tabs (future lesson) and partly by the quick release pin.  However, with a horizontal drop-out, the squeezing tension is focused mainly on the quick release pin which takes the majority of responsibility in holding the wheel to the frame.

Being the Wheel Destroyer Fat Guy that I am, I produce an enormous amount of torque when I hit the gas.  Combined with a climb, all gravitational forces conspire against me to create massive pressure/tension/squeezing on the bike frame.  This is how I broke both carbon bike frames in 2012 - torque passed from the pedals snapping the chain stays.  Well, with a steel bike, all of my force was transferred into the quick release pin.  Today, succumbing to the power that is the Wheel Destroyer, the pin slipped inwards, pulling the entire wheel out of the drop-out.

As I was only going 6-8 MPH, the bike did not crash, but just came to an abrupt stop with the wheel/tire pressed up against the down tube and chain stays.  Lucky for the 'Fatties Fit Fine' wide clearance between the chain stays that allowed me to keep my balance with the cockeyed wheel.

I figured out the issue pretty quickly, placed the wheel back in the drop-out, and tightened the quick release in even tighter than before.  I will do my best to adjust the set screw on the drop-out a bit deeper as to get 'more grab' of the quick release onto the bike frame.  

Cool lesson and no damage done.  What can I break next?

Col de la Bon Aire

There is a great segment just made for the FatGuy behind Bon Aire Shopping Center.  It is a quick 65 foot rise over less than 0.1 mile at an 8% grade.  It is the most annoying part of every commute home from the Larkspur Ferry as it is impossible to get over the steepness sitting down in the saddle.  Every once in a while, however, I am inspired me to hit it hard to try and get the KOM.  Last night, I got 21 seconds which ties by best attempt.  I have four attempts at 21 seconds, one at 22 seconds and seven at 23 seconds - and dozens north of 45 seconds.  The KOM was 19 seconds until a fishy ride showed up last month at 17 seconds (on top of several other top 10s on other segments).  Long story short.  No KOM love yesterday.  I am waiting for the unicorn tailwind to get me sub 20.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Somebody has been riding.  Knock on wood ... I wore through a whole rear tire without getting a flat. Love my Gatorskins. The Breezer has 4,159 mies on her. Lets keep track of the miles at the next change. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

MoMiles Challenge - June

Ho hum ... another month and another victory for this FatGuy.  The Davis Double has done me well, giving me a 230 mile lead over Mo at June's end - 4,002 to 3,771.  Obviously, I also made it to the 4,000 mile market first, as well.

Earlier in the year, I was comfortable maintaining a 100 mile lead as a reasonable cushion.  But a recent 24 hour perios for Mo peaked my attention and caused reason for a bit of concern. Mo did a morning commute, starting at his house in Novato, south to Corte Madera then looping north to Downtown Fairfax, back to Peets, through Golden Gate Park and into work.  While not the most efficient way around, Mo succeeded turning a 37 mile ride into a 61 mile ride.  He backed that up with a 40 mile commute home.  All in all, a Century day of commuting.  He then came out of nowhere to do a maiden voyage to The Bovine in Pt Reyes Station the following morning.  Again, kinda sad to ride in circles just to accumulate miles, and totally pathetic to do so by himself in the dark rather than working or hanging out with buddies ... but also scary to see what this guy is capable of to stay in the bet - an incognito 150 miles in 24 hours.

Its going to be a fun second half of the year ... trying to keep Mo in my  rear view mirror.  My only regret is that, back in February, Mo did beat me to the 1,000 mile marker.  The only blemish on my otherwise sterling record year-to-date.