Sunday, October 25, 2009

Way Back: Dirt Demo

The headdress for my Halloween cyclocross costume came in. Who's excited? I'm excited.

Improving Morale

In other bike news, I thought I'd go back a while and report on the bikes I rode out at the dirt demo during Interbike.

The first bike I rode was a Santa Cruz Blur LTC. I went out wanting to ride some carbon 29ers, hardtail or full suspension made no difference to me. It's been fun- as I've been riding mountain bikes more and more, I've gotten better at noticing the differences between things- tires, wheel size, braking, etc. I'm not great at it, but I've come a long way from a few years ago when I first started.

I'm not good enough that I could really give you guys a great review of things (if you want that, go here), but I can report on what I rode and make y'all green with jealousy.


Here's me doing awesome things with the Blur LTC. To be honest, when I first rode up on this drop I put on the brakes and was like 'Uh UH.' After looking it over, though, it wasn't so scary. (I made Cale go first with the camera, and he took this cool photo).

Fearless Me

I got a 26" because the 29er Tall Boy wasn't available. I really liked it, and it seemed stable over most rocks. I think if I were riding in the Midwest over a lot of rocks and roots I would have noticed the difference in wheel size more. I liked how zippy it felt.

Oh! I almost forgot- at the Fizik tent they let me borrow a saddle from their display, their new women's saddle, the Fizik Vesta. Very nice. It seems to be a lot like the Vitesse, except there's a cutout. I'd have to try it out for a twelve hour race or something, but it could be a winner. I haven't found my perfect saddle yet, but this one could be it.

Since we were out in the desert and it was windy and gritty, most of the brakes sounded awful, and some didn't perform so well. Here, a Trek guy explains about brakes. I'm sorry, could you point out that piston in the caliper again?

I liked the Trek tent. Rowrl.

On the second day, I finally got my hands on a TallBoy, after waiting for about 45 minutes to get it. I enjoyed the bike, but after waiting for so long (my choice, and not Santa Cruz's fault) I was in a bad mood. That, and the 100 degree weather couldn't have helped. Nevertheless, here's a picture of me looking happy.

Me, Santa Cruz TallBoy

I rode a couple of Cale's bikes as well, a Gary Fisher and a Raleigh with XX (which he was dying to try). Cale really liked the Fisher. When I tried it, I found it kind of uncomfortable- we like different riding positions, and that bike was set up particularly well for him. I like to be stretched out a little, he likes to be more upright. That said, the Fisher climbed wonderfully.

Well, that's about all there is to report about dirt demo. Interesting fact: I sucked down as much water as I could all day, and yet when we got back to the hotel each night, I had lost about six pounds. Yikes. I can't imagine doing a race or endurance event out there.

Cats are worth it... sometimes.

Most of the time, this beast is a pain in the arse. Chewing up house plants, batting my chapstick under the couch, whining for food, shedding all over the place... well, I'll stop myself there. But sometimes he's pretty hilarious, and it makes up for a few of his lesser crimes.

Yesterday I was walking around the apartment, picking things up and moving junk around, when I looked over to see the cat sitting like this in the middle of the couch.

Ridiculous Cat

Ridiculous Cat

What's more, the little twerp didn't even move as I snickered and took pictures of his ridiculous self. He must have been quite comfortable.

Me and FattyCat

Home Improvement

I've been reading a blog about the repair of a house from the 1800's called Door Sixteen- some graphic designer out in New York- and it's gotten me jazzed to, well, maybe pay attention to the apartment and make it look a little nicer. Obviously, we can't really modify the structure, but I thought I'd take care of a nasty wooden cabinet in the bathroom. I didn't take a before picture, but here's the artist's rendering:

Artist's rendering of a before shot.

I had a little bit of leftover paint in a very very light green color called 'Iced Cilantro'. I biked down to Anthropologie to look at their hardware (believe it or not, in with their $100 pillows and twee tea sets they have a lot of cool drawer pulls) and found a couple of different options on clearance for $3 a pull (instead of $8 or 12).


When I held the chosen pair over the old knobs, it was clear that they were too big in that position. I decided to take the doors off, fill in the old holes and drill some new ones with the Cale's drill press right in the middle of the doors. The end effect isn't great, but it's better than what it was. The photo's no good, but believe me, the triangle shaped bathroom (no, for real. triangle shaped.) feels a little more open without a dark cupboard sulking in the corner.

Home Improvement

Monday, October 12, 2009

USGP Planet Bike Cup

A photo from the USGP Planet Bike Cup a few weekends ago... back when it was nice out :(

Why yes, I am ready for my close up.

And another photo from Sage of me cheering for teammates and friends during other races:

Photos from Sage Brown's Flickr set.

To give a brief race report, both days I rode Cale's bike because mine was still in Las Vegas. It worked out fine and I did about as well as a local yokel in an international race would do... third to last one day and last the next!

Lame as it sounds (and, er, it kind of is) I had a decent race on the first day, holding off a woman from Ohio who kept coming up behind me.

On the second day I rolled a tubular at the bottom of the hill. I ran it through that section, yanked the tire back on the rim and then carefully rode to the pits to get another bike. It was the second to last lap when this happened, and the women behind me passed me up when I was hoofing it in the off-camber section (putting me in last place) and I was sorely tempted to just quit. For whatever reason, though, I decided to finish.

There was some confusion leaving the pit- I started biking back toward where I had come in instead of going out the 'exit'- and I had about a dozen mechanics and even the announcer shouting at me to try to steer me straight. After I was pointed the right way again, I started off on the final lap. It was really cool because the race was in Sun Prairie, which is close to where my parents live, and they came to spectate for both days. On this final lap, as I was running up the hill, I saw my dad's shoes and looked up from the pain cave to hear him yell "Way to not quit!" as he hung over the side of the course ringing a cowbell. I'm glad I finished up the race.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Free Time

I've done some calculations. 40% of the time I fall behind on my blog (not posting for a week or a month) it's because I haven't been doing anything interesting and have nothing to report. 60% of the time it's because I've been doing far too many things.

Here's the situation this time: Interbike, Interbike, Interbike. Up until the show, I was swamped with work. I worked very, very hard with long hours for about a month and a half, or maybe two months. It was incredibly stressful, and I think whatever amount of time it actually was would be very close to the max amount of time I could spend with that workload and stress. However- and I mentioned this in the last post- I'm proud of the designing I did, and all's well that ends well.

Right before taking off to Interbike was Gnome Fest, which is about five posts in itself. I wrote about it on the team site if you want to hear about it. I won the women's dirt alleycat again this year, after getting second last year. Really great prizes, really well organized, awesome artwork for the poster. Gnome Fest is always impressive.

On Tuesdays when I could sneak away, I'd go to the cross practice at Estabrook that Team Pegasus (Cale) puts on. Here's another post on the team blog. Those are always a good time to shoot the shit with teammates and other Milwaukee area racers. I wouldn't really get that opportunity elsewhere. It's an interesting mix of people.

We also went on a road ride up in Cedarburg (some photos here). Cale and I and seven guys from Chicago let loose on some great back roads. I'm about to blow my cover, but I'll tell you what I do for long group rides with a bunch of dudes. Guys will get excited and take off at the beginning of a ride. Since you're in a large group, though, they have to wait for the stragglers, so I just sit back at a comfortable pace.

On the fourth or fifth hour of the ride, the guys are tuckered out and any move I make will look awesome (or, you know, better than I usually would) because everyone else is wilting. Also, I get pumped that I'm fresh(er) so I put in some efforts and get a good workout in without getting discouraged trying to keep up with the guys the whole time and blowing up. That's about what I did for this ride, except I got excited on a couple of hills here and there and charged up them with (behind) the guys. At the very end of the ride, about six miles out, we put together a pace line and drilled it most of the way back into town. It was fun and just about broke all of us.

But back to catching up! Interbike, Las Vegas, CrossVegas and the Dirt Demo took up about a week. I haven't blogged about that because I really don't know where to start. Soon, though. Baby steps. Baby steps.

What I'm up to these days: The weather is getting colder and I've got the urge to do all sorts of indoor projects. I've got so much stuff to do in my free time that it feels like I don't actually have free time! I mean, when I get off of work at night I have to hurry home to get to work!

I've broken out my oil paints after many years off. They're still as lovely as ever. I love being able to mix the paint on the canvas, to be able to push it around for a few hours. And the colors! So, so beautiful. Acrylics are convenient and healthier, but come on. They're like a Frosty compared to a Culvers Shake. You know the Frosty's not the real deal. I could never get the colors with acrylics that I do with oils.

Sewing machine! My aunt gave me a metal bodied Bernina (vintage, not sure what year) sewing machine a few years ago. I finally hauled it out and got it running, which really just meant threading everything. I've been slow in doing that because I don't trust myself with sewing machines. I don't really understand them and I'm afraid I'll break something (because I have in the past, in fact). But now it's running and Cale and I have been doing some projects. Pictures later.

Costume update: Headpiece ordered. If it's anything like the photo online, I'll be very pleased. I also ordered four 6" boas (I'll find something to do with all of them, I'm sure!) and have been doing more beading. Always more beading. It's really starting to come together. I found the perfect false eyelashes, too! I'm not really sure how to do the makeup, though, because that's never really been my strong suit. I think if I want the costume to look truly ridiculous flying along at the Halloween race, I'll have to really do up the makeup. It's been fun to get back to this project after setting aside for many weeks.

Well, back to work for me.