Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Design and Bikes

Nice bicycle related design pieces from two of my favorite sites.

Information design

Source: Flowing Data

Social communication

Source: Good

Monday, August 30, 2010

Too Much Fun

Diagram 1

Last weekend's tag team race set the bar high for this years CX season. xXx designed a fun course with a good mix to get us ready for the fall - multiple surface transitions, a few loomy spots, a never ending spiral, good power sections, some high speed bob and weave corners, and an off cambered section that felt like a pump track on its side. The day was sweltering, beg-for-mercy hot. And the tag team element set the perfect tone for letting everyone go full tilt but not taking anything too seriously. Lucky me, my girls were there too to cheer me on too.

I raced in the 30+ Master with Mike as my partner, all COURAGE all the time. We went off in a combined race with the 40+ guys too. This meant I was sharing the race course with most of the fastest racers around Chicago. Fortunately, I was partnered with one of them. For all my Cat 4 brethren, let it be know these fast men put down the kind of power that makes you feel like you're in reverse when they pass you. Awesome and embarrassing in one short moment.

The start was chaos, see diagram 1 above. The racers taking the first lap lined up Le Mans style, sans bike, about 50 meters away on the start/finish line. The partners stood in the hand off zone holding their partners bike to prevent $30k with of carbon fiber catastrophes as the stampede came through.

Mike Hemme is fast, bullet train fast, and tall, basketball player tall. So when he came charging through the bikes at me I felt like I was the idiot who decided to run with the bulls in Pamplona on a dare. Of course after Mike there were 40 or 50 other guys too. Chaos, pure chaos, and fun!

So Mike puts down the kind of opening lap I needed him to. With two other guys he opens a huge gap, maybe 20 seconds. I jump on and give it my all. I hold off all but one guy. Make it back to him and nearly take myself out in the hand off zone trying to sprint to Mike. When you race with someone like Mike you do anything you can to respect the time he puts into the competition.

The race goes on and on, 75 minutes in total. There were many hand offs, a lot of super fast laps from Mike, a lot of sweat, a lot of laps where I tried my best, and in the end we pulled out a 4th place.

By the time I made it home Mike was lining up for the 1/2/3 (he took 2nd with Scott McLaughlin of SRAM!). In that crazy heat I cannot believe all those guys raced again, and for 90 minutes. Insane.

Click here to check out a set of a pics of what the hand offs looked like.

Thanks again to xXx for starting things off right!

Friday, August 27, 2010


You don't want any of this

Tag team! Mike and I are going to rumble in the 30+ at Sundays xXx Relay Cross. My CX bike is in pieces at the moment and Mike is going to be jetting in from some where last minute so we'll probably be a pretty clumsy duo. I've got to credit xXx for planning a clever preseason race to help us warm up to the cold, grim reality of cross. Grim reality like later in the day Mike is going to punish himself with Chicago fast man Scott McLaughlin in the 1/2/3.

Speaking of fast men, James Lalonde moved to Chitown a few weeks ago and will be making his presence known in a lot of the Chi Cross Cup races. He'll be flying Planet Bike colors, but is often found on a gorgeous single speed Ellis.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cyclists Take Heed

From today's New York Times-

"Federal authorities have decided to indict Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to two people briefed on the matter."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Free ride

I was in Pittsburgh and the Laurel Mountains last week spending time with the family and celebrating my aunt and uncle's 50th.

I spent one day with my cousin bombing down the mountain at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I haven't been treated to gravity assisted trail riding since my last trip to Whistler in 2001 - and I have no idea why I waited so long. Seven Springs has a nice, if limited, trail network but everything was super flowy and well maintained. Now I'm motivated to hit the pump track in The Garden at Clark Park.


In Pittsburgh I noticed this trick paint job on a fixie outside the Apple store. Look closely and you'll notice its blue masking tape with whiteout checkers and a packaging tape clear coat. From five feet away looked original.

I was stoked to see so many people on bikes in Pittsburgh. The city has some wildly large hills that don't seem to deter anyone. And while it's safe to say the bike culture in Pittsburgh is alive and well, I must say the lamb is dead and medium.

Who doesn't spit roast a lamb for family gatherings?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good Morning

Belmont Harbor 05:15

Monroe Harbor 06:20

By 07:00 the sky was asphalt grey. At 07:05 sheets of rain where drenching downtown Chicago. Fortunately, I was already at Intelligentsia enjoying a proper double espresso.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It Hurts So Good


Source: letterlust

What a difference an hour makes. My weekend rides typically begin at 6am - I roll out of Roscoe Village Bikes with a few friends and we make our way north. However, Saturday we gifted ourselves an extra hour of shuteye and it changed the whole day.

What I had expected to be three of us riding tempo instantaneously became six, when three more guys where lingering out side the shop. Austin on his CX bike, Alex, back on the bike after a nasty crash, and Hemme, with some "Don't worry, I raced, put in an extra 50 miles, and drank a lot of beer yesterday" story about how he promised not to crush us.

15 minutes later the growing group trend continued when we saw two Half Acre kits up the road. Hemme turned the screws and we made the catch to discover Zach and Sean. Zach and I have been talking about trying to ride together all year - and as luck would have it, there we were, on the same ride. This extra hour was already having a dramatic effect on my ride.

But hey, why stop at eight guys. At a red light in Evanston the Judson ride came by and we saw a few familiar face. Lew, from Rhythm Racing calls me out, and Alex seems to know half the guys so we catch onto the back of Judson when the light turns. Like Zach, Lew and I have been trying to find a way to ride together, but my early schedule doesn't jive with Lew's late schedule. The day was shaping up to be good, real good.

Of course, this was supposed to be a tempo day with a couple of friends. Now I was in the tail end of one of Chicago's fastest group rides. 10 minutes later me and 70 guys are ripping along, at one point I look down and were doing 35mph. BTW, after an 18 month hiatus I've got a computer on my bike.

A few miles past Highland Park the fractured remains of our original eight peel off for some hill work around Fort Sheridan. Ouch.

At this point everyone is feeling a little beat up so Hemme settles in up front and pulls us south at a steady 23/24mph. I'm freaked by two things about this little fact. First, Hemme is without a computer but keeps the speed super consistent, second, this is supposed to be his easy pace...

Enter the scooter. On Sheridan Road, just south of Tower we open it up a little more, 26, 27, then over our left shoulder we hear the droning buzz of a scooter. Hemme doesn't think twice and calmly pulls in behind the driver. I've motor paced a Jeep and a landscaping trailer with mixed results this year in the same place, but this time the driver was cool with us. Game on.

We hit 30 and Hemme is trying to get the guy to go faster but no dice, so I jump off and give it my all to escape. I pull by and maintain for about 30 seconds until my legs start to fade and the train comes by me. I burn one more match to catch back on and we go for a while longer before the scooter pulls off the road. Hot damn! That was fun.

Somewhere near Devon Hemme declares his intentions to finish his ride at bake. It's important to know Mike Hemme takes food seriously, and when he starts talking about how it was started by someone from the Ritz and it's been a long time since he tasted a better use of butter I was happy to give it a try. After digging into a heirloom tomato tart, a savory scone with sweet jam and some of Hemme's super crazy delicous muffin with cream and fruit I was sold. If you're cruising around Wicker Park and need a treat - stop by bake.

Had I rolled out for my normal 6am ride my day would have been so different...