Friday, January 30, 2009

Can't Get Enough

We rode the river trails again last night. Rather than just blab about it, I'm going to do a bit of a product review! Legit!

This past summer, I finally felt how my tires gripped the ground while taking a corner. Not a big deal for most, but before that I couldn't really tell the difference between tires. It was a big step for me. Snow biking makes it easier to tell the difference between tires, too, because the snow is pretty slippery. (No way! Snow is slippery!) The snow really highlights the good and bad qualities of the different treads. I'm also pretty promiscuous when it comes to bikes; I've ridden Andy's, Gunnar's, Cale's and my own snow bike.

Last night I was on Gunnar's bike, which had WTB Weirwolf tires on front and back. They're on a set of wide rims (afraid I can't recall which) and are nice and fat.

Gunnar's Bike

The story behind these is that Mark Weir designed them for WTB. I noticed that while upright, the grip was OK. (I think they'd do exceptionally well in some nice, slightly loose Kettle dirt.) They weren't great going up hills in the packed-down snow, though- you really have to sit back over the rear tire. I was fine with cornering as long as I didn't lean the bike over at all. For me, they were really slippery on the sides because I don't lay the bike down on corners like Wier does. Cale informs this blogger that when you lay down the bike in corners, the tread really performs.

My favorite tires to ride thus far have been on Cale's Surly 1x1. He's got a set of WTB Timberwolf tires on Surly's Large Marge rims.

WTB Timberwolf

They've got a nice sharp, deep tread, with some space between the knobbies (should have looked up some tire tread terms, eh?) to dig into the snow, no matter how packed it may be. Rather than slipping up a hill like a smaller tread might, they get more traction. The other cool thing, and you can see this in the image, is that the tread is kind of squared over the tire. If I started fishtailing on the Weirwolves, I had to use my superb sense of balance to get it back under control, as the side of the tires would slip around. On the Timberwolves, you can put a hard pedal stroke down and the deep tread on the side will grip into the snow. They might not do very well in cornering because of the lush tread on the sides, but I wouldn't know because when it's snowy out I don't really lay the bike down. Nor do I when it's summer and nice out. Huh, I need to practice at that.

Well, that's what I've got. I think if I learn some tire tread terms (say that ten times fast) I could make quite the mediocre product reviewer!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RIver Trails

Snow biking again last night- Jeff came up from Chicago to join us in the cold and dark. The trail are perfect, and you should get out there! Luckily, it looks like it'll stay perfect for a while longer, too.

On the training front, I've been going at it for a handful of weeks now. Jon's come over and administered some tests. No doubt it's either confusing or boring to most people, but here are my results (click to get a larger image):

I say,

To be honest, it's a little confusing to me still. I understand what the tests measure (well, mostly, anyhow!), but I don't know if I'm doing well, average, or just blah. According to Coach Jon, I need to work on maintaining a sprint, but I did well in the test at the bottom, so huzzah!

I've been a little weary from all of this terrible exercise. I haven't been tired, per se, but my legs haven't felt as fresh as they would usually be. That is, as fresh as they were when I enjoyed a week of sloth between races. But it turns out that I can do what's asked when I settle in (like 1:15 hrs of running),so I'll try consuming better fuel for the fire, and hopefully my body will become acclimated to it all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Steudel Show?

A while ago, my aunts asked me if I'd want to participate in an art show with them and my cousins. My grandpa Steudel was an insurance salesman, but he would buy framed art from garage sales (even velvet paintings!) and paint over them with oil paints. (That story what sticks out in my mind, anyhow.) He did mostly paintings of the North woods near Tomahawk where he had a cottage (now my aunt and uncle's home). Anyhow, he was artistically talented, and many of the Steudel family women (his daughters and graddaughters) are, too.

My aunt Andy works in oils and pastels, as my aunt Pam does as well. There's not much that my cousin Rachel and aunt Edie don't work in, though Edie specializes in wonderful charcoal drawings. Her son Travis enjoys doing found object and recycled materials sculptures. I did my share of clay in high school, and I still work in a few different mediums, though oils, impractical as they are, are still my favorite.

My aunts call themselves the Steudel women, as if they'd never had a name change. I think in part because of this, I've always viewed my artistic abilities (they come in varying degrees, now- I'm not tooting my own horn!) as not really an accomplishment of my own but a gift I've inherited as part of the Steudel family. As in, of course I'm artistic, it's just in my blood!

But in any case, I submitted some paintings from college and a sculpture based on the Mexican circle of friends. One thing's for sure; I do love bright, chromatic colors.

Now we wait for a while to see if our show proposal passes. With any luck, we'll be exhibiting in Plymouth. It's not a big deal, exactly, but it would be really neat to get all of the family's art together in one show. Here's hoping!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kit Finals

Well, they're pretty much done. We need to add a few sponsor logos, but this is what the kits will look like. The white shorts were pretty difficult to work with, because it's wise to keep the front and back panels black. I think it ties in alright with the black pegasus on the front, but the black panel on the shorts might look a little out of place. Oh well, it's still better than the alternative see-thru spandex! I do think the pink does well to tie the top and bottom together, too. Click on this for a bigger image:

Final-ish Kits

Sunday, January 25, 2009


We went to the fish store today to trade in some plants, and we picked up some new fish. We got another hatchet fish, along with a pair of rainbow fish. (Here's what they look like.)

Thing is, one of them has a deformed face, so that the lips on one side of its face don't really close, and the same cheek is a little sunken. So he looks less like those fish and more like Two Face from Batman.

I guess we could make a fuss and return him, but he's lived this long, and you can't manufacture that kind of character. Below is a picture of the tank in all its real plant glory, with Two Face and his buddy (the two blue/silver fish) on the left.

It isn't often that Snips gets to combine sitting on laps with watching the fish, so when the opportunity arises, he gets right on it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'09 Team Pegasus Kit

I haven't been blogging lately because I'm being driven like a slave to get the Team Pegasus kits done ASAP. Unfortunately, I'd had designer's block (as in 'writer's block') for quite the little streak. About a week ago, it finally lifted and I've been compelled to get my ideas out at all hours of the night (hence the 2:30 posting time). It's strange, but I usually feel most productive, or at least most creative, late at night. Perhaps it's the focus the night affords. No one's awake to distract me!

My designs are always different for personal things, too. I'm on my own time-line and have a lot of freedom in what I'm working on. This makes me feel as though I've got more time to think it through and come up with a good idea, because I don't need anything to show for the time I'm just mulling it over. The other huge thing is, I don't have to force myself to work- I can think for days and then design when a good idea hits me. It's why I've always preferred to have multiple projects at work. I can work on one thing 'til I hit a block, then work on another that I've thought of a good idea for.

But enough yammering and more pictures, right? Here's a shot of what the jerseys will probably look like. The pink 'wings' on the back took over four hours for me to arrive at. I knew I wanted a pink shape on the shoulders to make our riders easy to spot from afar and in a crowd. I needed a shape that was simple, fast, strong (but not too clunky!) and sharp, but not so sharp that it looked delicate or too feminine. I wanted it to look good from the back- and also 'fast' from the side and 3/4 view while on a bike, where most photos are taken. Here's what I've got so far:

Not too shabby, right? I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming along. The thing I'm really pumped about is the heart in the middle of the back:

I forget how the idea came about, but in a flash of brilliance, I saw three treads forming a logo of sorts. It would be broken into three parts to represent the disciplines in which Pegasus races. There would be a section with slick tire (for road/track/TT), file tread for CX and knobbies for mountain biking. Then the muffling lint settled on my brain once more, and I felt that it needed a little jazzing up.

I got an idea from a Mike Giant piece (the pixel-y bugger in the upper left in the photo below is a close crop) and went from there. I've been checking out Giant lately, and just itching for a chance to use an idea from his work, which is suited to vector work. I've always loved the Mexican sugar skull art (that he sometimes features), too. But I digress. Originally I liked the idea of the flames, but didn't really nail them, and felt it would be too busy with them, anyway. Then I played with the wheels- creating the different treads and deciding just how thick carbon deep section rims would be. I experimented with hubs as well as some other things, but ultimately wound up leaving them blank.

As you can see, I had thought the wheel would go inside of the heart right up until the end when I placed it on the design on the jersey and thought the wheel made the thing look too intricate. Bringing the wheel to the outside worked so much better. It took me a while to think of it, but at least I did eventually!

And with that we have one of the cleverest things I think I've done in a long time. I'm trying to get back to simplicity in my design work. Often times I start thinking too grandly... I want to come up with something so cool and so different that, well, I just pull myself in too many directions and can't come up with a strong design. Simple is strong, and I think I'm getting better at it. Practice makes perfect, right? The work I do for my job is helping me grow as well, and I look forward to doing better work in my professional life, too. I feel like I'm getting better and faster at what I do, which is a great feeling after a bout of designer's block!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Training; A Reality

Well, it's happened. I've been 'thinking about training' for a long time, and for a while I was 'probably going to train'. Now I've started what I have nicknamed 'actual training'! I got together with Jon Royal, who's got many years of competitive cycling under his belt, and he put together my slackers' training plan. He's said it's the least hours per week someone can put in to be competitive on the (cyclocross) 1/2 level. Yesss! I'm not expecting to be amazing, but I'm thinking I've be able to improve just a little.

I'll be peaking twice- once for a WORS race of Jon's choosing (He knows better than I) and then for the CX State Champs, because it seems a natural goal. Overall, the emphasis is going to be on cross, because I think it's my best shot and I'm most into it. I'm not experienced enough to do great things in road racing. The WEMS series is fun, but I've never really wanted to be 'competitive' in it- it's just a good time and more about personal goals than racing to me. I do, however, want to see how I measure up in the WORS series, because I'm curious. I wanted to test my MTB skillz this past season, but never got around to it.

So, actually training hasn't been too bad. It's hard to get used to the idea that I need to set aside time every day to do physical activity. I mean, just the idea of setting aside that chunk of time every day. I think it'll get to be natural in a few weeks. After all, the five hours of commuting per day to SRAM got to be normal, so I think it can't be that hard to acclimate to this. The other thing is, Cale and I aren't huge social people. I've got the time to devote.

Below is what I've been doing lately. For your sake, I probably won't post all of this stuff up again, but it gives you an idea of the base building workouts I'm doing right now.

30 or 35 minutes of running. Started out quick then slowed down. I think my legs weren't warm enough, because I stretched beforehand but my legs were tight the whole time and there was immediate stiffness after the run.

At least 1.5 hrs of biking on the river trails. Conditions were very icy and going was slow b/c of a lot of downed trees and ice chunks. I turned around at Capitol & took the bike path just before the half pipe. Still sore from running yesterday.

I did four sets in an easy gear with very little resistance, because I am terrible at these drills. [Sets of one-legged drills to smooth out cadence.] I got peeved b/c the saddle was very uncomfortable. I got off the bike and did a cardio kickboxing session for 30 min. Still sore from running.

Did a few 20 min workout videos, then the same 30 min cardio kickboxing video. Learned I can't do any videos that requre more than two moves combined, or keeping a beat. Not uncomfortably sore today, but noticable.

[Rest day]

Got a powertap at the swap and couldn't resist it, so spent some time on the trainer. [Was supposed to cross train.] Went at moderate pace, 80 rpm for 1 hour, 30 min. Average watts a little over 100.

2:00:03 on the trainer at 80 rpm, average watts 98. Took several 5 min breaks (not included in total time) to get off the saddle. Found a good saddle at Veloswap, but sit bone meat was sore from yesterday.

45 minutes! Gave myself blisters, but uneventful beides. Took it at an easy pace. Lower legs were a little stiff after, but the next morning were back to normal.

Went skate skiing at Lapham Peak for about an hour. [Was scheduled for snow biking] Very, very cold. Next morning my knees were a little stiff, but not bad at all.

I saw scheduled for cross training today, but I woke up with the worst stiff neck. It was actually pretty scary- the right side of my neck had stabbing pain with any movement of my arms or head. It's gotten a little better. Thank God I work on the computer and don't need a full range of motion to click a mouse. I'm going to let it rest for a few days and then get back into it. It's unfortunate- I was scheduled for a max HR stress text tomorrow with Jon, but I'm probably not going to be up for it.

Anyhow, that's what's been up with me. Here are some photos of the fun training I've been doing so far. First up is a picture snow biking with Pete on Tuesday. The trails were veeerrry icy, and there were mini glaciers from the river covering many parts of the trail.

On Friday we went to the bike swap in Madison, where Cale found a powertap for a steal. Here I am, working the table after getting exhausted by deal searching.

This is one of my favorite photos. Such exquisite composition.

Last night was skate skiing. Jeff did a bang-up job of teaching me how to manage the danged contraptions, but the blisters on my feet from running protested after a while. That, and it was freezing. Or rather, way below freezing.

There were ice crystals all over us from sweat being wicked to the outside of our clothes. The most impressive, if I do say so myself, were the ones that formed from my breath on my hair.

But on the other hand, why do I have ice whiskers!? I was kind of alarmed to find that there were hairs on my chin-y-chin-chin that were long enough to form ice. Well, it was cold out, and my skin was cold enough to form ice right up next to! And... I dunno. Let me recover from the shock for a few days, alright? How did I become the librarian with the bad breath and mustache so early on in life?

I also love how the out-of-doors activities photos look. Cold as heck, unforgiving and dark, like we Wisconsinites live like some kind of arctic moles for the winter months, getting around by feel in the frigid darkness. And that we're smiling like nothing's wrong! Gotta love it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Less Work I Have, the More Blogging I Do.

Home improvement continued- Today we took a wooden box I had made from project scraps in college and made into a key holder. Imagine, it's been waiting all these years to be realized for this purpose. Gone is the flotsam from on top of the microwave. Now it has a place to go!

AND we get to say 'bye' and 'hi' to Kat every single day :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Allez Pot Rack

Last night (Friday, that is) we wracked our brains for somewhere to go or something to see. We had a whole weekend at our disposal- something that we rarely had in the summer. In the summer, there would have been a plethora of things to choose from. Kayak trip, camping? Maybe a bike tour back to Mineral Point or a ride down to Chicago.

But the terrible thing is, it's winter. After hanging out outside for the polar plunge, I had had it. Cold? No thanks. When you get down to it, there aren't a lot of places to go or things to do (or, that we could think of, and on the cheap) in the winter around Milwaukee. If you have any ideas, do let us know.

So brainstorming turned from where to go to projects to do around the house. I've had a Specialized frame for a while, just waiting to be made into something. I picked it up from the garbage in the E.R. at SRAM- it's got a cracked head tube and therefore useless in any bike related application. I had always envisioned cutting it up and using the pieces for something, but cramming all of the pots and pans into their cabinet yesterday gave me a good idea.

We went to the hardware store and picked up the hardware for the project. Did you know, little bits of metal can be pretty expensive? Yuck. Anyhow, we got home and that's the last I had to do with it. I came up with the idea and got someone else to do the labor- is this the life or what? I worked on a mural of sorts (pictures when it's done) while Cale assembled our very own Specialized pot rack, the Allez model.

Well, that's about all I can blog about a pot rack, so good night!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Day

On New Year's day, Cale and I met up with some friends at Palomino, then went to watch the crazies bike into Lake Michigan. It was delayed because ice had frozen over the entire beach- a kayak was employed to break up the ice and push it aside. Unfortunately, the ice was not to be domesticated so easily. The kayaking guy had to go home before the dip, so conditions were a little dangerous. This banana was one of the first people in, and certainly the first fruit in:

The tandem ladies went in- word was they had traveled from some far-off Western state to participate in the polar plunge, for some reason.

I caught this photo with pure luck:

After watching the plunge, we biked like hell for home. Brrrrr, so cold! I spent a few hours trying to warm up. After that, we went to the Domes with Jon and Elizabeth to check out the new LED lighting. It was pretty cool, but really the Domes are still the same thing they always were. Kinda cool, kinda just really old. It was nice to see a lot of people there, though. The breasts (nicknamed for their shapes) were definitely the busiest I've seen them.

By sheer coincidence, both Cale and Jo were wearing their Gnome Fest shirts, and there juuust happened to be a gnome display in the seasonal dome. Coincidence or fate?

To make the Domes more interesting, when we spotted a beautiful silken mullet, we made it our goal to photograph and pose by it.

We think he began to suspect... Hopefully he wasn't scarred too deeply.

Mm-mm! What gorgeous, silken locks. Mm.

Well, that just about did it for New Year's Day. We went out to eat and then went back to the apartment to watch some Planet Earth and discuss a training plan. That's right, I bit the bullet and decided to train for next season. Jon's got some good experience with coaching, and it's nice to have someone who knows me and can actually meet with me in person. Anyhow, we discussed the torture- I mean, training regimen, and hopefully in a week or so I'll be on the path to total cycling domination. Ladies better watch out next year, because I'm coming for them.

Christmas '08

For Christmas Eve, Cale and I did his family's thing- we headed up to Cedarburg for church and then a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner that his mom prepared. We opened some presents and had a very nice evening, chatting and snacking away the rest of it. The next day (that would be Christmas) we drove up to Tomahawk, to spend a few days with my relatives. During Thanksgiving, we left the cat at home. He was pretty traumatized by it, so I decided to try to take him along. He was a little unhappy at first...

...but he got used to it after a while. Once we got up there, he taught the dogs a few lessons, too.

But this is about all we did while we were up there. Mmm, hangin' out and not doing much. Cale cooked a nice dinner, I framed a painting, we read books. We tried skiing, too, but the snow was too deep and soft. It was good exercise, though.

I accomplished one thing- a pastel painting of a marsh. My Aunt Andy gave me some of her art supplies and taught me how to frame photos. While cleaning the glass for the frame, she told me "Be careful not to cut yourself. I always do." Helpful words.

That's about all that happened. There was some pretty interesting stuff when we went into town to buy groceries from the local store. They had some U-nique decorations up, including but not limited to: homemade signs, race car wheels, newspaper clippings and trophy deer heads.

Oh, North.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Recap

(Our apartment, decorated for New Year's Eve. Click on the picture to see the whole thing)

I've been looking through old posts on my blog and figuring out where the year went. In the beginning of the year, I was working at SRAM, eating and sleeping. One of those weekends I went up to Minneapolis for the Stupor Bowl, which pwned me. But with my weekly schedule, there was no time for posting. My first post of the year was in March, after my first road race:

My first road race! I raced with the dudes in Kenosha, it was cold, and I got teased for wearing my big 'ol winter cycling boots. Oh yeah, and I guess I kinda liked the racing.

The first of many lovely mtb rides out at Kettles took place, I planted my very own garden and the H8TR 100 made me want to cry for my mommy. Milwaukee's big alleycat, MMI, took place and I acted all hip and raced in that, getting second for the women. I think I also started working for Hayes in April, too, so Huzzah! for that :)

Kettle rides continued, Cale and I debuted at New Fane, racing our first 12 hour as a mixed duo. I acquired two new bikes: a hand-me-down track frame from Cale and my mountain bike, the parts of which I scraped together for while at SRAM. Cale and I also started doing some road rides for fun/training.

More Kettles, more road rides. Mmmm, the weather was so nice... Track season began and I actually won some races. I won my first women's road race, saw a car on fire and glued my first set of tubulars (not at the same event, mind). The mosquitoes at Kettles were unbearable, Cale and I went camping and visited the World's Largest Cabela's (check that off the list of 'Places I must go before I die'!) I got a huge bruise in the shape of the Holy Mother on my leg and won the SS State Championships for mtb- coincidence??

Unfortunately, July brought a bad accident at the track, which shook me and still makes me wary of track racing. But ah, Superweek began. I had more fun spectating than racing, but what spectating it was! We housed part of a team from California, guys who were easy to get along with and were great house guests.

24-9 rocked my world. Even after a summer of racing 12 hours, I was barely fit to teeter in on my last lap. I got some t-shirts produced and went home for my 5 year HS anniversary, which wasn't as awful as I thought it would be. I got wary of cars on training rides because there were a lot of accidents and 'accidents' in the papers. I saw some of my SRAM products make the podium in the Olympics, and we finally got rid of the plaid couch that I had begrudgingly sat on for years. Last but not least, I got yet another bike, my Salsa cross bike.

September ushered cross season in. Cale's Miss-N-Outs started and we went to a cross clinic with JP. We also went to Interbike! Little black dresses, topless pools and the industry race win made for a good trip. To this day, some of my relatives still think I raced with (against) Lance Armstrong. I didn't- he raced a different race, but I did see him with my own two eyes :)

October saw some purely wonderful cross weather and I got two wins under my belt to upgrade to a Category 2 racer. Cale and I moved to the new apartment, our old place got foreclosed on and I struggled to put together the Team Pegasus calendar, which turned out great in the end! Lots of talented ladies helping, posing and photographing made it happen!

I got a cat, dressed in an inappropriate Halloween costume and made a sweet Pegasus Cross sweatshirt. The new cat went to the vet, I agonized over what car to get and then purchased my first vehicle- a Ford Ranger, which is want I wanted in the first place, negative aspects be damned!

Got pulled over by the cops with 125 other Santas. Bought a spectacular road frame, went to a great holiday party at Kelly and Gunnar's and went on a nice impromptu snow bike ride during a blizzard.

That about wraps up the year. I guess it's kind of silly to list everything again, but I've enjoyed looking through my old posts and remembering the summer, et al. Besides, without those blog posts to remind me, how would I remember that I've cried over road, at the track and at an unsanctioned race? I've never considered myself a crier but I think it's time I seriously reassess. And where have my smelling salts gone?

I had a great time Mountain Biking, a good time with cross and a fairly tempestuous time with track and road. I've talked to my teammate Jon Royal about coaching me, and it's actually going to happen this year. I'm going to start there, and maybe look into seeing a sports shrink later, if I have the means. Hey, it helped Victoria Pendleton.

I lost about 15 pounds or so this summer- blame it on all those 12 hour races, I say! Don't worry, I've been working on tracking down those lost pounds and securing them to my person in this off season.

I got three or four new bikes this year. But one was a $50 commuter we cobbled together, and the other was handed down, so it's really just two! To count them off: Salsa cross, Zion mtb, Motobecane SS mtb/cross, track bike, Blue road bike, Raleigh commuter, Gios and two formless frames (both old commuters, minus components, which the winter salt and I destroyed) That is a complete family right there. And I don't care what Cale says, I don't need a back-up cross bike.

That about wraps up the year. I have a few goals, none of which are terribly exciting, some of which are terribly vague. "I want to get better.... at biking! Generally better!" Mainly, I'll set goals and resolutions when I see fit. Just give me a minute to reflect fondly upon the rosy colored 2008 year :)