Friday, January 30, 2009

Up (and up) Queen Anne

Yesterday I climbed the hill two times on my new Casseroll, once up the Olympic to 10th route, then up 3rd from SPU. That was the first time I'd ever climbed it twice in one day, though I was pretty sure that I could.

The first time was on the way home from work, and went pretty well. I rode downtown, then up the hill. I found myself pushing harder than normal, as the bike just feels like I should be racing around. I never really found myself wishing for a lower gear, but I spend plenty of time in my lowest.

After I got home, I decided to run a quick errand at SPU, so I hopped back on the bike. Descending was a bit scary - I don't feel like I have the control on braking power on the Salsa that I do on my other two bikes, but that may change as I get used to it. The climb back up was uneventful, but quick, though I got passed by someone doing repeats. I couldn't help but think I'd like to carry that kind of speed uphill, but that's why we train. My guess is I was 10 - 15% percent faster up the hill than normal, but I'd need to time it to be sure.

I'm still not totally comfortable on the bike, especially descending. I also need to learn what cogs/ring combinations work best for me and in what order, but no way to do that without riding! Hopefully I'll get some decent miles in this weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Return of the wedgies!

A long time ago, in a city far far away....

I rode a "normal" bicycle, or really a few of them. A Free Spirit 10 speed (what happened to that thing?), followed by a Schwinn Varsity Deluxe (purchased in HS, stolen in college), replaced by a Trek 360 (ran the frame into a carport years later on a roof rack), then a Paramount frame that I gave away to someone for cutting my yard in about 2002. At some time around 1999, I just couldn't ride the things any more, due to significant discomfort, and finally threw in the towel. In 2001, I bought a Lightning recumbent and never looked back. Not that I could, due to the seating position, but still.

About 3 years ago, I picked up a Trek 7300 Hybrid to use around LA (stolen from the garage) then an identical replacement not much later. It saw dual duty as a kid hauler/commuter in workmanlike fashion. A few years of riding it around town made me wonder if I should reconsider whether I could be comfortable on an upright bicycle again.

After loads of internet research, and countless hours in bike shops, I decided that given the proper fit, I could probably make it work. My first step was to narrow the choices of LBS's down to those that focused on fit first. My early candidate list was Aaron's Bicycle Repair, R + E Cycles, and Montlake. Montlake turned out to only pay lip service to fitting, i.e. "yeah, you could do that if you want", and Aaron's was just too far/odd for me to deal with. R + E has some great stuff and nice folks, but the entry level price point was just too high for me. I wasn't sure this would work out (still not), and I wanted something not TOO expensive that would hold its resale value.

A stroke of (bad) luck led me to Counterbalance Cycles on the Burke Gilman. One day while out on the recumbent, I flatted out and stopped for air and a tube, and casual discussion with a mechanic lead to an off hand comment about their "fit guy". One thing led to another, and I started spending a bit of time there. Eventually I spent several afternoons trying various things out, but finally focussing on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and a Salsa Casseroll.

So yesterday, I picked up a Casseroll. Why add to my existing fleet? Well, I wanted something lighter, faster feeling, and better fit to me than my hybrid, while having better situational awareness than my recumbent. Also, my recumbent has a high crank position that can make urban cycling awkward.

I'm pretty excited about this bike, and I can't believe it is snowing outside (but birds are chirping!) after 2 weeks of pretty good weather. Hopefully things will clear up a bit later so I can really get out there and try it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Year End Wrap Up

Looks like I ended up with 314 on the odometer for the Lightning, and around 90 and the Trek, for a total of 25 miles in December, or less than a single good ride in November. If it hadn't been for the snowpocalypse, I'm sure the totals would have been higher, but there was the holiday travel and whatnot. January hasn't started well, I think I've ridden about 10 miles total, so I'd better get cracking.

Overall I'm pleased with the year though, as I barely rode at all in the previous 4. This year I intend to ride the STP, and that means training miles. Hopefully I'll do close to 4,000 this year, but we'll see. My fitness level is much better than when I arrived in Seattle, and so is my hillclimbing. Just getting back on the bike has been a victory of sorts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My first major Lego assembly as a dad

3 hours, 445 parts. The worst part was threading the string through the little holes though.

I'm sure there will be many more Christmas related assembly projects in my future.