Crouching Rat 300K…

30 04 2012

300K Map - click for larger...

I rode the BC Randonneurs Crouching Rat 300K on Saturday. I’m uber busy at the moment so no detailled ride report will be forthcoming.

Photo: Eric Fergusson...

Ride Stats:

  • Distance = 301kms
  • Event Time = 17:10hrs
  • Off Bike Time = 2:23hrs
  • Ride Time = 14:47hrs
  • Elevation Gain = 2377m

Busy start...

Ride Links:

Tobin - the Patient Randonneur...

The Good:

  • well organized and executed event
  • started/finished at a bakery with excellent espresso and tasty beer [in that order]
  • varied route with lots of different terrain/scenery
  • Tobin [shown above] hung out with me for most of the ride even though he was capable of a faster time
  • friendly faces and treats at most controls [salted pretzels are my new favourite next to chocolate milk!]
  • got to see a lot of familiar BC Rando Club faces
  • traffic was quite polite/courteous
  • 2 different old men on mountain bikes who decided to race us at various points on the course!
  • chose the right clothing for the day so I was comfortable with minimal fuss
  • wasn’t nearly as destroyed as the 2011 Hatzic Hills 300K
  • ~20kms of gravel to switch things up a bit…=-)

Mr. Lazy...

The Bad:

  • my front derailleur wouldn’t shift to the small ring [there were some uber steep slopes I would have used it on!]
  • lots of steep climbs all packed into the first 150kms left me pretty worn out on the 2nd half
  • 2nd half of the ride started with a long stretch of highway riding into a noticeable headwind – demoralizing!
  • GPS refused to navigate us along the route I had programmed for the last 60kms to the finish [when riding in the dark in the city turn by turn GPS warnings are so nice!]
  • course seemed far harder than it should have been….not sure why, but I heard that from several people who I didn’t ride with so it wasn’t just me!

Sumas Mountain Control...

The Ugly

  • we took a 5km detour off route and climbed the most heinous climb off the day only to find out we were on Old Claybourn Rd instead of Claybourn Rd!!!
  • definitely the most punishing bonus miles I’ve ever done…=-(

BC Randonneurs 300K Event Pin - 2012...

Thanks to Chris Cullum who organized the ride as well as his intrepid band of volunteers who staffed the controls! Another fine BC Randonneur Club event in the books…=-)

Congrats to the Rocket Powered Stagecoachers!

30 04 2012

Stagecoach 400 Results Map - click to see live map...

The Stagecoach 400 is a 400 mile unsupported bikepacking race in SoCal. You can read the FAQ here. Looks like a challenging event! If I got my facts straight 3 out of the top 5 finishers were riding Porcelain Rocket bag equipped bikes. Congrats to the racers for getting ‘er done and congrats to Scott for his role in building race winning gear…=-)

A special shout out to Rick Hunter for coming in #2…he not only builds sweet bikes, but can clearly ride the hell out of them as well.

I’m no racer, but during my challenging rides I know that if I have to think about my gear I’m screwed. I can only put out my best effort if everything works and I trust it 100%.

DIY Truck Bed PT1…

29 04 2012

Step 1 - storage...

I’ve been working on a sleeping setup for my F150 where I can actually stretch out. I’ve slept in the reclined driver’s seat and across the passenger’s bench in the cab. They work okay, but don’t result in an awesome night’s sleep. Here is my current MK1 F150 bed arrangement. First step is to grab some Rubbermaid bins. These will support me off the generally filthy bottom of the F150’s cargo area and they will give me a place to store gear I need to bring along.

Note – I could fit 6 large bins in easily. Here I am just using 2 at each end with some random stuff in the middle for this demonstration.

Step 2 - plywood...

I cut a sheet of plywood to ~6′ x 32″ and painted it. This sits on the bins to provide a sleeping platform. It’s wide enough for me to sleep on comfortably. I also have an extra 6′ x 17″ sheet of plywood I can place next to the larger one on 2 more bins to make a double bed for two people to sleep on if needed. If you place the gear you need frequently in the bins along the edge of the bed you can slide them out easily for access without taking the whole setup apart. Reaching the bins at the far corner is harder so I put stuff I only need occasionally back there.

Step 3 - bedding...

I have some old pillows and comforters I can use in the truck without worrying about them getting gnarly. I’m not a princess so a doubled over comforter is fine for sleeping/sitting on. You can of course add a camping style sleeping pad or some memory foam  on the plywood as needed for comfort.

Note – the rear of the topper opens as does a “window” on each side for tons of ventilation. However, there is no bug protection.

Step 4 - add in more gear!

With the single bed I still have room for some gear along the other side of the truck. I’ve thrown a bike in to show you how it would look. I have some plans to build a removable shelf system that would go where the bike is and would hold a stove, water jug as well as a couple marine batteries to power interior lights, stereo and other electronics [cameras, computers, etc..]. I’ll eventually add solar panels to the roof to allow me to be fairly self-contained.

Given my current $$ situation anything requiring a cash investment will have to wait a while, but I can work on the no/low-cost items like building the shelving and installing stove/water jug.

What I like about this concept is that it can get setup or removed in 15mins.

Camelbak Podium Water Bottle Review

28 04 2012

My Camelbak Podium water bottles - click on image for specs...

I use a hydration bladder when I mountain bike. For all my other biking I use bottles. These Camelbak Podium bottles are awesome. They don’t screw up the taste of your beverage. They have a lockable valve for horizontal water bottle cages or other times you don’t want them to leak [ie. in your car!]. The valves are easy to drink from and they are available in clear which I like so I can keep tabs on how much hydro I have left. The shape is easy to hold onto with gloves on. They’ve survived a couple years of abuse without any problems.

Lid and valve detail...

What’s most impressive is that I realized the other day that everyone I ride with uses these bottles. That equals total bike hydration domination…=-)

They are VikApproved!

Brand-New Nomad…=-)

27 04 2012

Porcelain Rocket Edition Nomad...

My Santa Cruz headbadge fell off in Sedona so I replaced it with a new Porcelain Rocket badge…=-)

Rando Tweaking…

27 04 2012

650B All Road from Boulder Bicycle...

My freakishly fun Boulder Bicycle All Road randonneur machine.

Downtube barrel adjuster for rear derailleur...

I had some sudden shifting issues last brevet which I solved [mostly] on the bike by using the downtube barrel adjuster. It’s conveniently located within easy reach while riding.

Shimano XT rando derailleur - fixed now...

As I was going over my rando bike this week [as should be done regularly] I noticed the barrel adjuster at the rear derailleur had come completely unscrewed and was sort of hanging there askew. That explains the sudden shifting issues! Doh!

Fizik Mircotex bar tape...

I’ve been meaning to put some white tape on the Boulder for a while, but haven’t been motivated enough to do it. We’ve had a few rainy days this week so I got my butt in gear and got it installed. It looks pretty spiffy and supposedly it’s tape you can clean so it should stay white a while.

Miche needle bearing headset...

When I first got my Boulder I had a fairly serious shimmy problem. As it turned out I had the headset installed incorrectly! Doh! This type of low trail bike with supple wide tires and a very flexible frame is a candidate for developing a shimmy. The whole topic of shimmying is very complicated and not fully understood. Bicycle Quarterly has published several articles related to this topic if it interests you.  My bike has a needle bearing headset as opposed to the more common ball bearing headset. The needle bearings provide more resistance to turning than a ball bearing which prevents or reduces the development of a shimmy. My bike is pushing the envelope of using very skinny ultralight tubing for a large frame [59cm TT] and a reasonably heavy guy 175lbs. It has taken some playing around with the headset adjustment to find the sweet spot for me and my bike. I can’t recall the last time I noticed any tendency to shimmy and the extra resistance in the bearings isn’t something you can feel when you are steering.

Update: I lowered my tire pressure for the Crouching Rat 300K and was able to get the bike to shimmy if I tried. So the shimmy is not totally gone. It doesn’t happen when I am riding normally, but if I try to ride no hands I can’t pedal or it will shimmy. I’ll play with the setup some more. It’s not a problem I’m going to do much about since it’s not causing a problem in practice. However, if you need a large frame I’d consider the oversized ultralight tubing for a somewhat stiffer frame. If I was independently wealthy I’d build up a 2nd Boulder with the oversized tubing so I could compare them back to back. Sadly I am not!…=-)

Grand Bois Hetres = 650B smiles...

I understand increased tire pressure also helps reduce shimmying, but I like my tires soft so they do their job of absorbing road shock and keeping themselves glued to the road. The standard Boulder Bicycle All Road uses ultralight oversized tubing which would stiffen the frame a bit. I have wondered if I was to order a new rando bike if I would want to go for a stiffer frame or not. I really like how efficient my bike is to climb on and how it responds to hard efforts. I wouldn’t want to give that up by getting a stiffer frame, but without a side by side test it’s impossible to know how much difference there would be.

Gravel country riding = 650B terrain...

Just to be clear I feel like the performance, comfort and versatility of an ultralight skinny tubed 650B bike like mine is well worth the setup hassles of dealing with a shimmy. I’d also point out that Boulder Bicycle can build you a 650B rando bike with zero shimmy issues. I purposely pushed the limits of what is practical to find out what would happen. If  I set my bike up poorly it can shimmy pretty seriously. If I set my bike up properly I have no shimmy even when I am tired and mashing the pedals without full concentration on steering my bike.

Food to go...

My last 200K demonstrated the benefit of staying on the bike between controls. One element of that is being able to eat on the go. So I’ve restocked my bar bag with a bunch of energy food I like that I can munch and pedal. I will still pack a sandwich or two on a ride for those times when I do stop at a control so I can switch it up with some real food.

Mostly wool bike clothes...

Having bike clothes that cover a wide range of conditions is also key to avoiding frequent stops between controls. Our rides in BC start on cool to cold mornings, but often see warm to hot afternoons with cool evenings and cold nights. I’ve been enjoying wool cycling clothes lately. For my next ride I’ll start with a SS wool jersey + wool arm warmers + a wind vest + ear warmers. On the bottom I’ll have a set of 3/4 length wool tights with wool leg warmers underneath [puts two layers over my knees]. At each control I’ll evaluate how I am doing and shed layers as needed. The key is not to sweat so much I soak my clothes which will be uncomfortable even with wool. In spring here often just taking off the ear warmers and wind vest is enough to transition from cool morning to warm day.

If it rains and/or temperatures get crazy cold I have a rain jacket, rain chaps, rain gloves and rain booties to put on that serve as some extra climate control options.

Selle Anatomica saddle...

Of course you can only stay on the bike for hours if you are comfortable. My saddle and my feet are totally happy these days even for 10hrs+ of nearly non-stop riding. My hands are comfy if I wear bike gloves as opposed to unpadded fleece gloves and I move them around the bars a bit. So I can start the ride in warm fleece gloves, but I should switch to bike gloves after a few hours. This also means I have a spare set of gloves on board if one set get wet/damaged/lost. My main comfort issue at the moment is tension in the area between my shoulder blades. This is due to poor bike posture and letting my neck/back tense up. I can avoid it by sitting on the bike in a more ergonomic position [sort of like not slouching in your office chair] and also consciously relaxing my upper back as I ride. I also stretch that area out every time I stop at a control.

Volunteer Bling…

26 04 2012

My 2011 BC Randonneur Volunteer Pin...

I’m no uber volunteer. There are folks in the BC Randonneurs that put in a million more hours to support the club, but I feel like if you want to see rides happen you have to be willing to put in some effort to make that happen. Start with helping out at one ride and see what happens. You’ll likely enjoy it a lot. Then see if you can fit in supporting a second ride. Every little bit helps and if everyone shares the work it all gets done easily without burning out a few generous folks.

Sure that means maybe you don’t ride every event that you might like to, but that’s life. You have to put something in to get something out.

I’m never going to win a volunteer of the year award, but you’ll always see me helping out on the other side of the table at a few rides.