Saturday, April 24, 2010

MS150 report!


It was one week ago today when I set out with some 14,000 other riders on the 26th annual (now sadly "BP") MS150 ride from Houston to Austin. Here is my best attempt to run it down for those very few who may be interested in the details.

Flew into Houston on Thursday evening and went to a wonderfully filling dinner with my folks and my friends Bob and Carrie who just happened to also have flow in the very same day. We had a big pig out at Cyclone Anaya's, which I do like to hit every so often when in Houston. Kind of local chainy, but muy delicioso!

Crashed out promptly that evening. Awoke nice and early (6:30) as a warm up for the truly gruesome get up times that would be required the next couple of days. Ate a salad for breakfast, which was mentioned in this cheesily written but overall very gripping and inspiring book I finished reading that very night. Not bad for breakfast, a salad. Does bring on the lunch urge a little faster than normal though. Kind of makes me want to get into running too, but we shall see. If my wife goes a bit more whole hog, perhaps I'll be her pacer!

I headed over to the Omni hotel, where registration and whatnot was going on. Registered and poked around in the expo area, which was not nearly a gianormous as I'd imagined it would be. Just one largish meeting hall deal with about a dozen or so vendors. There were some pretty great deals to be had on lycra and other plastic based clothing items, so I picked up a few bits, including this pretty nice Capo bib short (pair of bib shorts?!) for 50% off.

While that special chamois bears an unnerving resemblance to a presenting baboon, I can assure you that it's the most comfy chamois I've ever had in contact with my taintal region. I also picked up a cheapish rain shell/jacket as I forgot mine at home. My bike arrived shortly thereafter with Jason and his lovely mother, Rita straight from Austin. I had ebayed and sent to Austin a Shimano R700 compact crank to have installed on my trusty Paramount as I was a bit apprehensive about the hills of day 2 on a normal 53/39 (probably would have been fine as it turned out, but anyway). It was a weird aftermarket gearing the seller had on there of 52/34, rather than the normal 50/34. Upon giving this thought for a couple of days the week before, I realized a 52 big ring would probably prove less than ideal as on my normal road bike in Chicago with a 50/36, I'm almost always, always kicking around the lowest gearing on the 50 ring, so a 52 would just make that a little bit less appropriate. I ended up ordering a 50 tooth big ring at the last minute and figured I'd change this out at the hotel. Once I got my bike out, I realized that the shop in Austin (which I guess shall remain nameless) did a kind of half-assed job of changing the crank out, leaving the chain at least 2 or 3 links to long (it was sitting 3 cogs up on the rear cassette when I got it out but the chain was already rubbing on the fully collapsed rear derailleur. Thanks for the questionable work small certain Austin bike shop I have spoken kindly of recently in these pages....)! Fortunately, there were a few local bike shops set up at the hotel, so I took this mess over the the West End Cycles folks who sorted me out in short order. Afterwards I took a little 6-mile spin and tweaked some seat height and front derailleur position until everything seemed kosher. Thanks West End! Whilst tweaking my seat, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that my seat post has some sort of stripped seat pivot situation going on. I kept finding my seat in a more backwards angle / taint hurting position than I thought I put it in and eventually realized it was popping back every so often. Groan. It was too late to do anything there but keep an eye on it.

The steed:

The weather was predicted to be pretty poopy, with 50% to 60% chances of rain on Saturday and Sunday respectively. While not as bad as the storms that resulted in the cancellation of the first day last year, it wasn't looking ideal. But if there's one little advantage being from Chicago provides, it's that a bad spring day in Texas is a pretty decent summer's day in the midwest.

I had a lovely dinner at home with my folks Friday night (Grilled shrimp, couscous, roasted veggies and a wonderful bottle of Chardonnay, thanks ya'll!) and went to bed around 10:30 in order to rise at the gruesome (for me) hour of 4:45am. As is the norm when I'm doing a big ride, I slept rather spottily and ended up laying awake from about 3:15 am until 4:20, when I finally just gave it and arose.

DAY 1:

My folks were up shortly thereafter and after wolfing down some sort of slightly preservative laden breakfast burrito and some fruit and coffee, we headed over to my meetup with Ryan, Jason H and Danny at Ryan's sister's place about 3 miles from the start at the Omni hotel. Got there, realized I didn't get safety pins in my lil packet to use for my bib number. Ryan had to wake up his sister for this (who was inexplicably sleeping on the couch at her own place when I arrived). Thanks Sally, sorry about that! She was kind enough to wake up and take a few snapshots of our motley crew. Here we are in all our pasty, chilly pre-dawn glory:

We finally rolled out of there at about 6:30, so as not to be late for the 6:45 start. Almost ate sh*t a few times on the very dark way over. Some pretty industrial sized gaps in the little drainage bibs that stick out into the road. Smooth it out Houston!

We rolled up to the start to find that there was NOT A BIG HURRY! Note to any future riders, unless your oil company sponsored team raised $250,000 or something, you may as well take your time getting to the start. We got to listen to a good 45 minutes of verbal tongue-lashing through a portable squawk box setup that sort of comically threw the breaker on the generator powering it a few times. Accompaniment was provided in the form of various hits of the 80s, Huey Lewis and the News, Survivor, etc. We finally managed to squeeze in with some team that must have rolled out around the 8,000 to 9,000 riders mark. It strikes me that if you pay your fee and do your fundraising, maybe you shouldn't have to sit on a cold road and listen to an obnoxious emcee for most of an hour, but I digress...

It's all better once you're rolling! We took a windy path up N. Eldridge twisting around NW Houston and ended up on some farm road (FM154?) while getting a light raining on for about 45 minutes to an hour. That finally petered out around mile 20 or so. At the first rest stop we almost immediately ran into my old friend and sometime roommate Todd. He joined our little train and we spent a few hours on the road catching up about the last, oh, decade or so! He was on the Sweet Leaf Tea team, but they were pretty well atomized all over the "field" such as it was, so he joined up with us for the day.

Nothing too eventful to report over the course of the day. I had some of the usual energy ups-and-downs that come with 100 mile ride. The route had some very modest rolling hills but was pretty flat overall and we had favorable winds. One thing that is always amusing at these sorts of giant rides, but seemed ESPECIALLY intensive at this ride, is the whole "on your left" etiquette. We all know that sometimes it's quite good to give riders on your right verbal notice if, say, you are passing them pretty closely or perhaps very quickly. However, I think it's fair to say that if you are in a field of 14,000 riders and you are riding on the far right side of the road at around 11 to 13 mph, there are going to be a LOT, LOT, LOT of folks coming by "on your left" pretty much constantly and all day long! It really should come as no surprise! That did not stop a lot of people from seeming really surprised and ENDANGERED that some riders were coming by about 4 to 6 feet away from them on the left without a CLEAR ANNOUNCEMENT to the effect. Reactions ranged from a light sort of tu-tut-ing (yelling "riders on the left" up ahead of them as a little rebuke) to some straight up "you need to call out buddy!" etc. Here's my hunch: Maybe this is a combination of people who have just read the "rules" of riding etiquette and just tend to the pedantic in matters of safety combined with a smaller minority of riders who want to reserve the right to swing wildly over to the left side of the road at a moment's notice and consider it really dangerous that anyone would ride by them without crying out "ON YOUR LEFT!"

At any rate, I think I must have given out at least a few thousand on your lefts over the course of 2 days. Sometimes there were so many in a row that I'd just realize I was saying it a few times even during big empty spots on the road, just sort of muttering it like a crazy person.

With about 20 miles to go on "Stage 1" we got passed by a few of Todd's buddies on the Sweet Leaf team and ended up jumping on their train and powering into the day's finish at a nice 20-ish mph clip. I think one guy pulled us the whole way. No complaints about that, he didn't seemed to object or care one way or the other. Some pics of day 1 (psychedelic photos courtesy of the my pHoine somehow):

The end was at the LaGrange fairgrounds and was an instant village of corporate team tents, miscellaneous vendor and support tents and the like. Pretty cornfusing layout, we wandered around in a semi-daze for a while before we all met back up at the Sweet Leaf team tent where we were graciously allowed to park our bikes for the night, saving us from the (presumed but not confirmed) mess of official bike parking. Wandering around ensued. Got some tasty morsels of food from a few friendly grillmasters, some delicious beers courtesy of old Emo's alum Vince, who now is the brewmaster at St. Arnold's in Houston (who also had a large team out on the ride).

Eventually our trusty "team car" in the form of Jennifer, Ryan's S.O. came along and scooped us up and off we went to our digs for the evening in the evergreen woods outside Smithville, TX about 20 miles away from LaGrange. Her sister has an incredible little spread out on 7 acres on a dirt road off a dirt road. We couldn't have asked for a nicer spot to relax and recharge. After showering, we drove to Bastrop and had a nice dinner at a little local Italian/Greek joint. Bellies full of pasta, we didn't last long upon our return. I think I was in bed by 9:45 and got to sleep through a night of pretty glorious thunderstorms with just a screen door between myself and the great outdoors. Beautiful music to sleep to. Must have rained a couple of inches overnight!

Buddy, our host and VERY reluctant outdoor dog:

Jason relaxing with his personal digital device:

Mini-cabin and my sleeping digs for the night:

The lovely grounds and our trusty team car:

Ashen, team dog along for the ride from Houston:

More beauty from the front door:

Relaxing, porch style!

DAY 2:

Another 4:45 wakeup. In hindsight, we should have probably been quite a bit earlier, as we rolled back up to the fairgrounds right at 6:35 or so to find WELL OVER 10,000 of the 13 or 14k riders all lined up already being barked to anew by the emcee. There was no team x leaving first deal this day, just letting the line trickle out the gate. The place was a swamp with all the overnight rain and we were running all over creation to try and find our way back to the Sweet Leaf tent. Finally managed to locate our bikes (schlepping through soupy fields in cycling shoes does not rate as one of my favorite activites!). We queued up with the Sweet Leaf folks on our little arterial roadway and waited while they slowly let people out the gate by the few hundred at a time. UGH, wait, take 2 steps forward, wait, take 1 step forward, wait, wait, take 1 step forward, etc. etc. Took about 40 minutes to get out of the joint. We probably rolled out around riders 10,000-ish, an inauspicious start for the second day in a row. Fortunately there were 2 routes right out of the fairgrounds, us taking the hilly challenge dealy, which seemed to be at least a bit less trafficked once we got going. Left into a light rain again and it was QUITE chilly for TX, like 53-ish degrees).

Here are some images of the morning including the ridiculous lineup getting out of that joint:

Riding, riding, riding. After about 25 miles, we hit Buescher State Park. It IMMEDIATELY got really beautiful. Small road, just barely 2 lanes. Towering trees. This part of the route was about 12 miles of pretty decent rolling hills. Maybe 100-200ft. each, probably rode a couple thousand feet of elevation change. I really enjoyed this part. Did most of my climbing out of saddle using my big chainring. It got to be a sort of experiment after a while. I only gave in and went to the little ring twice for about a minute each time. Feels good climbing and you always get the downhill payoff. A bunch of exhilarating 40-ish mile downhills throughout. I was sad when we suddenly got dumped out onto Highway 71 with the rest of the riders. We powered along to lunch and on, keeping a pretty great clip for the remainder of the ride. There were some pretty decent headwinds here and there, but we got a fair share of nice tailwinds too. Lots of false flats that seemed MUCH harder than the actual steep hills of before. After some time, it was just Ryan and I doing a little 2 man "breakaway" all the way in for the final 20-ish miles. We must have passed a few thousand riders in that time averaging around 19mph for the whole end of the ride.

Came into Austin on FM969, nee MLK JR. Blvd. Eventually got routed through a neighborhood, over to Manor Road and on into town on Dean Keeton/26th street. Had a nice surprise when we found my brother and a couple of old friends waiting out on Dean Keeton for us, they gave a big yell and took off on their bikes to meet us on the other side of UT at the finish. We turned into campus and ripped through there on those nice rolling campus roads with almost no one at all around us, having just happened to find a big break in the pack there. It was REALLY fun and brought on a nice burst of energy that carried us all the way back onto MLK through the barricaded last few blocks with thousands of spectators lining the road. Felt like a little faux race finish and actually got me a little verklempt to see all that support. What a big event this thing is!

Then, it was over! We decamped from our bikes on a little right of way a couple blocks past the finish and waited for our friends. St. Arnold's was no longer providing beer, saving what was left for their team. BOOOOO!!! Have some more for sale for cryin' out loud. People who have just ridden 80 miles will often need a beer! The whole second day I felt remarkably good. I was worried about feeling like a wet noodle after the first day where, at times, I was feeling pretty shagged out on the route (around miles 60/75). Not to worry though. No problems from my right knee, even with all the climbing and just felt pretty great overall. The 4 mile ride back to my brother's house did leave me feeling like I had ridden enough for the day, but it wasn't excruciating by any stretch.

The rest of our "team" made it in within about 20 minutes total and the lot of us rode back to my brother's house for a very nice BBQ dinner party that had been put together. Showers for all and a nice beautiful sit around (it got sunny and ALMOST warm for the rest of the afternoon!). Thanks to Eric Hartman who very generously brought over a massive spread of pulled pork and brisket, mac/cheese and beans. Good times!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

quick post


Heading off to TX in about 15 minutes (to the airport to go there anyway).

Had a great weekend riding in Madison. Took my googled route out to Mt. Horeb. Didn't end up going all the way there, turning off about 4 miles before it to follow a different route back for the sake of variety. It never got superhill overall, but some nice semi-gentle rollers. I did veer off on a few singular quests when I saw a pretty harsh looking hill. Here's one that had me wheezing on the way up (in the distance there) and having to ride the brakes to keep it at 40mph on the way down! Pretty fun though.

Here is a lovely little creek-y, drainage-y oasis out on Saddleback Road off Hwy 14 and County Road P where I (in the parlance of Phil and Paul) took a "natural break!"

Rode a total of 55 miles on this ride, about 45 on this big loop then puttered around the lovely Shorewood neighborhood in Madison, riding around a loop on this biggish hill about 4 times. Also tacked another 10 on it later that evening riding back to my folks-in-laws' house.

Here's the mapmyride result. Still losing about 20-25% of my miles with this alleged GPS stuff. Oh well, get what you pay for I guess!

Put in another mellow 23 miles with the missus on Sunday. Just regular commuting after that. A lovely weekend all in all. Just my regular commutes this week. Going to try and get in a nice 20 miles with Ryan in TX tomorrow and then it's off to the big ride.

Not bringing a computer, so will probably have to report on all this next Tuesday or Weds. Supposed to be something like 50% chance of rain both days, but rain in the 70s sounds pretty alright to me. Dry wouldn't be awful either though!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Horribly Hilly 65


Heading off to Madison today for the weekend. Not a ton of riding this week. Ended up doing something like 150 last week though. Probably rode 60 miles until today, but I went on a mellow 45 miles today with my pal Shea. I have a ride planned tomorrow from Madison to Mt. Horeb that I'm hoping will be some sort of approximation of my MS150 day 2. Supposed to be good and hilly out there. I will report back! Got some good tips from folks at the Serotta forum and just riffed off of those and came up with a route. It goes like this:

Should end up being something like 65-ish miles from the look of it. The title is a riff on the Horribly Hilly Hundreds ride that is apparently a staple of the Madison area. I'd be tempted to try it, but my experience last fall or riding the North Shore Century all alone (boring, not that fun) will probably keep me from doing it unless I make a new cycling buddy right quick!

Tour of the Basque Country stage 5 is almost over in my replay watching. Inspiring hill riding going on now! Txurruka just wiped out, bummer for him. That guy's got moxie!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do you know?


I'm not a terribly thin-skinned person, but I'd like to send these Gram Parsons lyrics out to the 70 or 80 cyclists I tried to give a little friendly nod or wave to on the lakefront path today.

Do You Know How it Feel (to be Lonesome)

Do you know how it feels to be lonesome

When there's just no one left that really cares
Did you ever try to smile at some people
And all they ever seem to do is stare

And you remember how it feels to be cold again
When the happiness of love has gone away
And you never want to go out on the street again
And you only seem to live from day to day

Do you know how it feels to be lonesome
When there's just no one left who really cares
Did you ever try to smile at some people
Yes, and all they ever seem to do is stare
Yes, and all they ever seem to do is stare

It's true, all they ever seem to do is stare. Is it a sign of weakness to give a little human acknowledgement?! Must be discouraged in the Chris Carmichael book or something. Anyway, if you see some old dude trying to give you a little flick of the hand or nod of the head, it may be me, though I just give up after a while.

Rode 38 miles today. More good wind "training" for the MS150, pretty stiff headwind out of the south around the lake today. Nice quick ride back up though.

In other big news, I'm switching to "normal" type size. I realized my "small" type selection seems to be an outlier among the bloggerati.

Big props to Fabian Cancellara for just crushing all comers at the RVF Sunday. Damn!

Cycling TV/internet time is officially on. The Tour of the Basque Country is on Universal Sports about 3 times a day now too. Good inspirado. Stage 1: Alejandro Valverde, get a life. You were not squeezed. Bad call. Must feel kind of lame to stand up on the podium and put the funny hat on when you just whined your way up there.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

one more thing...


I'm so distinctly behind on the interwebs most of the time that I must have been the last person who cared to find this out, but the iconoclastic Bike Snob NYC, a writer whose verbose marriage of deprecation and self-deprecation along with occasional (and hilarious) references to the CroMags and Agnostic Front make me feel like it's not so bad to be a part of the aging "Gen X" crowd (that is what we were supposed to be, right?), has been unmasked.

I think the big news was broken in the WSJ a couple of days ago, but I actually came across it on Bikefag's blog, which is always a pretty funny read as well, though I'm pretty sure that guy is Gen Y (and not to be trusted). I like how he just links straightaway to the guy's USA Cycling race stats when you click his name. (BTW, nice job Eben, you aren't near as bad as you say you are!).

You like bah-logging?


Anyone? Anyone?

2 posts in one day!! Wow.

Just finished a nice 43 mile ride to the bottom of the Botanical Gardens and back. Average pace, 15.1 mph. Wind=yes, very! What a wonderful day it turned out to be.

Starting to feel something just shy of terrified about this MS150 ride on April 17/18. It is a 2-day ride from Houston to Austin, TX. 1st day is from Houston to LaGrange, TX, about 99.6 miles, second day is from LaGrange on in to Austin, 77 miles, if you take the "Bechtel Challenge" route (not to be confused with the "Pfizer Lunch Express" route, all really rolls right off the tongue, eh?). While I'm at it, this is actually the "BP" MS150. Those allegedly earth-loving, actually drill-baby-drilling Brits really know a good cause when they see one! What about the Goldman Sachs sag wagon?! "I've flatted and I don't have a spare tube, bail me out, bail me out!!"

Going to ride this with my old compadre Ryan with whom I rode the Hotter 'N Hell 100 last year. He rode it last year too, but last year was the year that the first day was cancelled for the first time ever (on the rides 25th anniversary), so he felt like he didn't really ride it (and honestly, he's right, even an old man like me can pretty much buck up and ride around 100 miles almost any old time, but can we do it two days in a row? Very different question!!). SO, in the interest of having felt like he did it and wanting to pal around with yours truly, we are making a go of it this year. I'd like to give a special shout out to all my friends and family that were kind enough to help me raise the required funds for the very worthy cause of working on a cure for MS too. Y'all are cool!

Anyway, here's the route for those of you who have some idea of Texas geography:

Should be fun-ish. I'm hoping to find a quite hilly ride next weekend in Madison, WI, to simulate some of day 2. Day 1 is supposed to be typically quite windy, so I have been getting a decent dose of that this week in our fair city. Trying to get used to long periods of time in the drops pursuant to that issue. For my day 2 related problems, I have procured a nice Shimano R700 compact crank to put on my trusty P-Mount down in Austin. Changing equipment one day before a big ride, mmmm, sketchy, yes. BUT, riding a 53/39 on 77 miles of fairly ferocious hills (I am a 40 year old man with a bad right knee after all), perhaps even more sketchy. Only two weeks time will tell.

Otra cosas:

I've been reading the pretty enjoyable "A Significant Other", which chronicles the 2003 Tour de France from the viewpoint of Victor Hugo Peña, one of the USPS and Lance's more heavy hitting domestiques. It's a pretty nice read, with a historic overview of the TDF interspersed with VH's personal recollections and some pretty gripping writing about stage 15, where Lance bites the asphalt really hard after hanging up on some idiots goodie bag on Alpe D'Huez, then gets up, fixes his chain, takes off, racks himself while coming out of his pedals about 30 seconds later and then just goes all Popeye-on-spinach (literally all but the bulging arms and steam) and rides away past everyone to win the stage by a good 40 seconds. Good stuff.

I got the word on this book from the great blog, Cycling Inquisition. There you can find a treasure chest of great writing about cycling in general, but with a strong focus on Columbian cycling history. Check it out! Also, if you enjoy whiling away your winters (or whenever) with cycling related writing, a lot of these books including A Significant Other are just cheap as dirt on the interwebs. I think I got this one for about $.99 plus $4 shipping on ebay or or some such thing. Cycling "literature" is a pretty cheap habit.


rainy day blogging


Well, that's another 2-ish months without even a half-assed post to show for it. Who cares, right?! Now is the time to begin writing about matters cycling again. Fortunately, February's this:

Has given way to some Spring showers. Blissfully 70s and 80s weather for the last three days. Now it's 50s and showers, but I'm not complaining much as water is MUCH better than snow in this blogger's humble opinion.

I'm sitting, waiting for the rain to stop, or at least simmer down a little. It's pretty much pissing down outside my window right now. Had plans to do a small group ride out to some sort of big northern suburbs loop today, might still happen if this stuff will settle down by around 1pm which it is supposed to according to the dudes with the doppler radar.

Meanwhile, let's look back over what there is to recount in the last couple of months.

When I last left you, faithful reader, I was recounting a fun late-ish January trip to my home away from home (and the true home of my heart), Austin, TX. Upon my return, I began to build up my new Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike in earnest. Here is how it went:

Frame/fork: Surly LHT 60cm (in the rather boring Tan colourway, and made of the rather boilerplate 4130 cromo)
-This plus a nice Cane Creek 100 headset were had for a fantastic price from my pals over at Smart Bike Parts. I'd like to throw in another plug here for these guys. It is the most non-attitude-y bike shop I've ever had the good fortune of having to ride past almost every day. If you're decent company, they might even offer you a beer.
Wheels: Mavic A119 36h rims laced 3-cross (of course) to Shimano Deore XT hubs
-These came from Rocky Mountain Cyclery via ebay (new) and were a great deal at $150 shipped! Not terribly light, but just good strong touring wheels.
Cranks: 175mm Shimano Deore LX mountain bike triple (48/36/26)
-Got this from Blue Sky Cycling, some mail order place with a good price on it. Had advice from some to not get a MTB triple as the gearing would be too low for descending, but as I'm not planning on taking this thing down Alpe D'Huez yet, I think it's going to be just fine. In town, I have yet to go onto the big ring even with the strongest tailwind.
The rest of the buildout was made from a hodgepodge of internet and locally sourced new and used stuff. Brakes (these nice Shimano BR-550 cantilevers that are made to work right with road levers), Shimano cassette (11-32)/chain and a Cateye computer came from Jenson USA, saddle and fenders from Smart Bike Parts, tires and cables from Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square, misc. used stuff included seatpost, derailleurs (Ultegra triple FD, Tiagra long-cage RD, Dura Ace bar-end shifters from a great little craigslist purchase a while back, like $60!). Thus a bike is born!!

I put this together over a few days and I think I rode it to work once or twice before finally getting a nice enough late-winter, snow-partially-melted day to take it on a bit of a longer ride. On said day, I went on a decent little 15 mile ride down to the lake front and around through downtown and back home. Still lots of cruddy ice around the path, rode into stuff I had to get off and walk out of a couple of times, but it felt good to do something more than commute to work. Here we are thawing out in the Millenium Park parking garage entrance across from the Art Institute Modern Wing (winter cycling tip, this is a pretty nice place to defrost. They have a sort of big baseboard heater thingy in there and you are free to chill (no pun intended).

Did a lot of latex glove under regular ski gloves riding and right at the end of the winter, I wondered if it might be good to ride in those sort of heavier, much more reusable dishwashing gloves. Going to try that out next winter, will report back. Another big end of winter deal for me is that, after riding all winter in my regular Specialized "spinning" shoes with plastic bags over my feet inside them (if you will remember my fancy shoe covers came apart at the end of last winter), I was inquiring into buying a pair of the super heavy duty Lake winter cycling boots from Smart Bike Parts, owner Eric incredibly (at least it was incredible to me!) offered to sell me his that he had ridden that year. I guess if you are a bike shop owner you like to keep rotating your personal stock. I will not divulge the very generous terms this deal went down with, but suffice it to say, I feel VERY lucky that I'm the same shoe size as him! Thanks Eric. So, I'm ready to ride all over next winter, but HEY, no hurry or anything! Seriously...

Things are all good with this ride. I did have one unfortunate experience involving the infrastructure of the City of Chicago and a real hole-in-one. I was riding north on California in a rush to get to my Spanish class. At the light at North Ave. I was sitting there and went to change the display on my computer to see the time. You do this by sort of clicking it down on this pivot point that is part of the mount and it's a little kludge-y, i.e. sometimes it doesn't get seated right and won't click. So in my big heavy gloves, I went to try and reseat it on the mount and it went skittering out of my hand and bounced twice across the pavement right in front of a car as the light was turning green. I was fully prepared to throw down and make that car wait a second when it took one more bounce (this is a total of about 6' of bouncing) and just plopped straight into the one rather tiny hole in a giant non-holy manhole. UNBELIEVABLE!! It's in the hole!! At that point, I just said to myself "unbelievable" and rode onward. Here is the computer eating manhole.

Oh well, it wasn't that great of a computer anyway.

Anyway, I just got back this week from a 2 week mega road trip back down to SXSW and all the way around the horn of Louisiana, Georgia, NC all the way to NYC and then home. 4200 miles were put on the odometer. Need to do lots of bike riding to make up for that!!

And bike riding I must do. I am now officially in training for the MS150 coming up in two weeks in Houston. I've got a lot of work to do. Got back in the swing of things this week with a 25 mile ride Tuesday (came home from out of town Monday night), regular commute Wednesday, 50 miles Thursday and regular commute Friday (yesterday). More on this ride and my working up to it later, as I'm about to take off, the rain seems to have stopped.

I will leave you with a pic from the foot of the Chicago Botanical Gardens taken on my morning ride of 2 days ago. Happiness!