Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taking Good Biking Photos

   Nothing commemorates a good bike race like a solid picture to remember it by. The CU Short track series was a great chance to take some pics of people racing. You can use these tips to be sure your friends will never ask you to immortalize their two wheeled failures again.

    1. Focus on the rider you know:



Bill's Arm

   2. Adjust the focus before shooting:

Someone (?) cornering

   3. Center the rider

Matt jumping

   4. Wait for the exciting moments



      5. Get context shots:



   6. Keep lens flare down by shading the lens with your hand

   Now you're ready to shoot like a pro!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Winter park Race 5 Report - Oh, The Humility

   As I write this I'm ironically drinking out of my 'Best in Class' Winter Park pint glass I got a few years ago for finishing in the top 3 of my class.

What happened?

   Today was a stark reminder that Experts are faster than Sport riders. Results aside (preferably very far aside), the race Saturday felt good! It was more short climbs and fewer long drawn out climbs. That was nice, and I felt pretty great throughout. That didn't make up for much time though.

   I flatted about mile 10, which didn't help my time. The real hassle of that was it put me back with some slower riders and picking through them slowed things down. No flat would have put me just one place ahead I think.

Race plus ride back to car

   The race ended in Fraiser, and the 9ish mile ride back to my car was painful and slow. Here is the data from the Garmin: 23 miles and 2:17 for the race only with about 3400' of climbing.


   I think this is my second favorite race (after the Super Loop), there weren't any really drawn out climbs and the downhills were fast and fun. There was also some flat stuff, which is uncommon for a race at a ski resort. These flat sections were twisty and technical and I liked them; great chance to catch the obvious road riders. 

   Last race coming up un two weeks, and the first season in the expert class will be under my belt!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Vintage WTF

   Mountain bikes have come a long way in the last 20 years, and the Manitou System FS is no exception. Here's a bike with not one but two interesting features. First, check out this early dropper style post:

Standard position

Back position

Forward position

   What were these positions for? Climbing, I guess. The second wild feature on the System FS is the rear suspension:

Rear shot

   This was a very similar system to a fork, just mounted where the seat stays should be.  Light? probably not, but still cutting edge in 1992. Here's a shot of the bike all decked out in anodized blue parts:

Still looking great after 25 years

Monday, August 4, 2014

Race Across America

The Race Across America is an ultramarathon bicycle race, predictably across the United States. This race changes course slightly every year, but the general course starts in Southern California and end on the East coast. This race has been happening every year since 1982.
Nice use of Google Earth

   The RAAM claims to be the longest annual endurance event in the world. There are a few more considerations than a regular road race, superhuman endurance notwithstanding. For starters, there's
this amazing 54 page PDF of directions. Here's an example.

Sample PDF page

    In a race that is so long, time is still very important and these riders don't have time to pull out a 54 page map, or even a device with a digital file. Often they rely on spectators t corners or a support crew of friends and family helping them along. That's not to say there aren't days and days of long flat roads to ponder your life choices.
   This years winners were Janice Sheufelt and Christoph Strasser. Check out these numbers:

Christoph Strasser at the finish line in 2014

 Winners results? Here you go:

Janice Sheufelt
miles: 3020.00  
Time: 11 d 18 h 2 m  
Avg MPH: 10.71

Christoph Strasser (Austrian)
miles: 3020.00  
Time: 7 d 15 h 56 m  
Avg MPH: 16.42

   For Christoph, that's about 400 miles a day. For some reason he's smiling in this picture:

2014 winner Strasser

   This was his third time taking the victory in the RAAM 2011, 2013, 2014. I'm all about trying new types of races, but I think I'll leave this to Austrians. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pro tips: Cleaning Your Bike

   Keeping your drive train clean is the key to good performance and long component life. It is also a time consuming pain in the ass. The easiest way to do this is to blast the crap out of your bike with a power washer. This is ill advised.


   High pressure can force the water and dirt into places that it may not belong. In the frame, in the bearings, all places that should stay dry. When I'm washing my bike, I like to use a garden hose and kitchen brush. These brushes work great, are pretty cheap, especially if you get them at IKEA like me.

50 cents each

    They're good for a many uses on the frame, or a few on the greasy drivetrain. The brissles won't scratch up your paint and are great at loosening dirt and gunk. Once they're black, they are not really removing gunk as much as moving it around, so just toss them in the trash.

The life of a brush

   So go get yourselves some cheap brushes and give your bike the cleaning it deserves!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Winter Park Race #4 Report

   Another race in the books at Winter Park. This one was particularly painful, and the results reflect that. This race had it all:
  • Denial: "This can't be happening, I will catch them on the next descent."
  • Anger: "I'm throwing my bike into a river, then pissing in that river."
  • Bargaining: "Just let me get through this race and I'll never eat another Ande's mint."
  • Depression: "I'm going to stop here and just lay down and die."
  • Acceptance: "Next race will be better, it can't be worse."

   My goal to not finish last has been busted twice, but I feel like this time I put in a much stronger effort. Let's talk about the course. Here's the profile I used to map climb distances:

Epic Point to Point profile

   You want climbing? We got climbing. This had around 4000 feet of climbing in 25 miles. The tricky thing is the combination of climbing and 2+ hours in the saddle. What does that get you? 


   It gets you last! I was in 6th for a while, but got caught on one of the longer hills near the middle by two guys right in a row. After that I was never able to catch up to either of them. Compounding things, me rear brake went south at the top of the first climb. The brake went south because (I think) of some bad seals. It was leaking everywhere. That is no excuse to ride poorly, but it sure doesn't help on the descents to only have a front brake.

General feel of the race

   Strangely, I started feeling pretty good about 2/3 through the race, and was able to make up some time. I think with that kind of energy through the whole race I would have stood a better change of maintaining 6th. 
   Like all races, the sting of both exhaustion and loss started to ebb immediately after finishing. I am already amped for the next one!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday WTF: How Soft is Aluminum?

   Today is a two-fer. Ever wonder how soft aluminum is? Well, here's two examples why you have to treat alum with a little care. 

Exhibit 1 - Shoe rub has worn these aluminum crank arms severely! Apply a little too much power and you risk snapping one off.

Exhibit 2 - Cable rub can do a lot of damage in a short period. This is why it's a good idea to protect your frame with some protective tape.

Exhibit 3 - Exhibit as an exhibit.