Monday, April 27, 2009

Letting go

I recently sold an old mountain bike frame of mine. I have to admit that I am hopelessly attached to just about every bike I have now or have ever had. Given that bit of knowledge, this bike was special. The bike frame in question was a Kona Hot, a handbuilt Reynolds 853 steel hardtail from 1997. Only 100 of these frames were made each year and you got to choose your paint colors and scheme to further the mystique of uniqueness.

I rode that bike everywhere from the Mammoth Mtn. downhill course to sky island singletrack in Patagonia, AZ. It's amazing to think about all of the trails in all of the places that I rode that bike. All of the adventures that I had on it, all of the sights that I saw and friends that I made while riding it.

For a long time, I have thought about building this frame up as a single speed mountain bike, but that never seemed to pan out. Then I started riding bikes with disc brakes and full suspension and all kinds of new equipment and technology and the steel hardtail frame started looking more and more dated. Finally, I had to admit that I probably wasn't going to be building it back up and that it needed a new home with someone who would have adventures of their own on it. It's still sad though, but at the same time, passing the bike on to someone else has brought up more memories and recollections about riding it than it ever did hanging from a hook in the basement.

There are some bikes that I just can't fathom getting rid of. I still have my first "real" bike, a 1986 Trek 760 road frame. This was the bike that started me down the road to hopeless bike geekdom that I have been traveling all this time. So much racing and riding. I held on to this frame through thick and thin. A hay bale in a Wilmington criterium trashed the fork, the wheelset and tweaked the derailler hanger, but I still held on to it. It lived with my parents for a few years and has traveled around with my various moves over the years as well.

I have begun resurrecting the Trek recently. First thing was to get a steel fork made for it. I took the advice of a friend and had Justin Pogge of Old Field Cycles in Tallahassee, Florida to make a beautiful lugged steel fork for it. Now my efforts turn towards paint and perhaps a lugged steel stem. I don't feel a need to build it up "original" or make it some kind of restoration project, but rather a way to update and breathe new life into something.

Despite rambling on in a questionably sane way about strong attachments to inanimate objects, it feels good to publicly declare one's geekhood. I sincerely hope that everyone develops the memory sense that comes from such a deep bond of attachment. And now I wait not only to rebuild the Trek of my youth, but to build up the new Surly touring bike that is on its way to the shop. New adventures await!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road trip fever

As part of the ongoing Moore family experiment in pushing the limits of a 2 1/2 year old child, we embarked on a journey to Tallahassee, FL Wednesday night. We left Lenoir at about 8 pm and headed south, confident in the hope that Owen would soon succumb to sleep.  Alas, this was not to be.  If he had had access to toothpicks, Owen would have shoved them into his eyelids like tentpoles in an effort to stay awake.  He sang songs at the top of his lungs, asked for all kinds of snacks and drinks, "read" books to himself and burned through his second, third, fourth, and fifth winds before finally, mercifully falling asleep.

I drove through the night, stopping for gas, food, and caffeine.  Finally, I reached a point where I needed to grab a nap in order to keep going.  I pulled over, layed the seat back, and curled up for a cat nap.  Boom! Owen was up, awake and clamoring for mobility.  No rest for the wicked or the weary, apparently.

We made it to Tallahassee at about 7 am, safe and sound albeit pretty knackered.  A little nap and we were off to the races.  We had gone down to visit our good friend Chris and he had a whirlwind tour lined up for us.  We headed off for the Tallahassee Jr. Museum where we saw all kinds of wildlife, including Florida Panthers, red wolves, black bears, and alligators among others.  The next day, we headed to the coast to the aquarium in Panacea, FL, a little fishing (where we were joined by a wild alligator, but no fish), a trip to Cape St. George for some beach time and a lighthouse visit for Owen to add to his collection.  We ended up in a little town on the gulf for some Appalachicola oysters (very nice) and a seafood dinner. The food was excellent, but everybody was getting tired and we had a long drive home until we could hit the bed.

The next day we headed to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. We headed by bike from the visitor's center to the point, through swamps and grassland marshes.  We saw tons of birds (including red-winged blackbirds, blue herons and white herons), more alligators, a big snake, and a cute, fuzzy, brown guinea pig sized mouse (the snake was probably looking for him, too).  We saw another lighthouse, did a short walk out on a levee, and then rode back in.  We had a nice, simple dinner at Chris' house and turned in for our last night.

An early start, an all day drive and Bob's your uncle, we were home.  It's a tough thing when your vacation wears you out and then you have to return to work, but it was all worth it.

One terribly interesting note of caution if you are going to visit Florida: don't even think about smuggling in plants or produce...

Monday, April 13, 2009

The beautiful win

What better way to win Roubaix than soloing for the last 12km after all of your competitors fall by the wayside? Boonen put on a display of pure power stomping the pedals, his upper body rocking from side-to-side as he tried to eke out every last watt he could. Pippo Pozzato chased valiantly, but ultimately conceded seconds to Boonen with each passing kilometer. Despite decent weather, this Paris-Roubaix was another legendary one.

Boonen now sits tied with many of the greats like Merckx, Moser and Museeuw, with 3 wins in the Queen of the Classics. Only one man, Roger "Mr. Paris-Roubaix" De Vlaeminck, has won 4. Could Boonen be set to equal, or dare I say surpass, this venerable record? One thing is for sure, the record for fastest Paris-Roubaix doesn't look to be under any threat. Set in 1964 by Peter Post. Compare Boonen's performance yesterday with its average speed of 41.343 kph to Post's '64 record of 45.1 kph, a difference of about 3.8 kph (or 2.3 mph)! But then again, Post and a few others were fuelled by hatred for a former teammate. Even more remarkably, Boonen's performance yesterday still falls short of the second fastest Paris-Roubaix in history, a pace set in 1948 when Rik Van Steenburgen won with an average speed of 43.6 kph! That is still faster than Boonen by 2.3 kph (or 1.4 mph)!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Up, down, turn around, please don't let me hit the ground.

In two days, Paris-Roubaix will start and finish. Approximately 165 riders will depart the small village of Compiegne and if it is a true Paris-Roubaix, i.e. rain, mud and generally horrific conditions, less than half of the starters will actually finish at the velodrome in Roubaix. Much has and will be written about this archaic throwback of a bike race, but dammit this is the race that made me want to be a cyclist.

I can still remember being 15 years old and glued to the tv watching everybody get destroyed by mud and cobbles. Sean Kelly whipping his domestiques into a frenzy to catch the breakaways. Rudi Dhaenens hitting the deck multiple times while wearing no. 13.  As soon as it was over, Jason and I were out riding and imagining our own Roubaix, killing it into the headwind and listening to Phil Ligget poetry in our heads. Roubaix will always be the race I love most dearly above all others.

Everyone is asking for picks for victory, so here goes. George Hincapie will not come through this or any other year as the victor. I wish it were otherwise, but I just don't think he has it. His best shot came when Tom Boonen was his domestique on the U.S. Postal team and that ended with a cartwheel into a ditch. My feeling is that Quickstep may just pull a Mapei and have 3 guys (Boonen, Devolder, and Chavenal) in the final move and will absolutely work over the unfortunate soul(s) that are unlucky enough to be caught up with them. Boonen is the odds on favorite, and for that reason alone I don't think he will win. My tendency is toward Chavenal or Devolder with a heavy lean toward Chavenal. No matter what, it will be exciting. The forecast is for a bit of rain and that will make it a grand race to watch!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Readin' and ridin'

     Since spring has decided to give way to winter again, my ratio of reading to riding has swung in favor of books lately.  A Dog in a Hat is the autobiographical memoir of Joe Parkin, recounting his years racing as a Belgian-based, American professional cyclist in the '90's.  Parkin was a workaday domestique who embraced Belgium, vlaamse, and the entire Flemish cycling mindset. 
      The title refers to an old flemish saying: een hond met een hoed op, which means "a dog with a hat on" which refers to seeing something that shouldn't be there.  The book recounts many tales from Parkin's career, some good, some bad.  There are tales of drugs, payoffs to breakaway companions for victory and other gritty stories, but throughout Parkin's love of cycling and Belgium comes through.
    The one down side to this book is that it was such a fast and easy read.  I found myself at the end far too soon for my liking. This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in professional cycling.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

When focus fails

The past few months my focus has been devoted almost exclusively to finishing my National Boards Teacher Certification. If you don't know what this is, it is a monstrous amount of work that involves about 60 pages of writing, video taping and collecting student work. The reason I even mention this is because the deadline to turn all of this work in was this past week and now I can get on with the business of living outside of this closed little box of focus that I have been living in!

Sadly, my attention has been so diverted that I have almost missed my favorite part of the cycling season. Today was the Tour of Flanders (or Ronde de van Vlaandren) and for the second time in as many years, Stijn Devolder (Quickstep) has won. With three dangerous men in the race (Devolder, Tom Boonen, and Sylvain Chavenal), Quickstep definitely brings guns to the knife fights of the Spring classics. Boonen now seems to be taking the role of diverting attention from Devolder and Chavenal. While everyone watches Boonen (and rightfully so!) Chavenal is free to take the early flyer, while Devolder can play the spoiler if the opportunity arises. The deck is truly stacked against all of the teams with only one clear danger man amongst their ranks. The depth of Quickstep reminds me of the old Mapei team of the late '90's (GB-MG Bianchi before that) when it wasn't a matter of who would win a classic, but which Mapei rider would win.

Yesterday, Jeff, Todd and I had our own little test in the crucible of cycling as we competed in the 6hrs. of Warrior Creek mtn. bike race. Jeff and Todd competed in the solo category, while I teamed up with Megan Carmody from the Boone Bike and Touring team to compete in the coed duo category. Jeff and Todd layed it all out for 6 hours of off-road racing and looked wrung out post race. Megan and I pushed as hard as we could while still having fun and ended up in about 8th place. The one thing that we all discussed after the race was how could anybody do a 24 hr. race! Look for a Luna Cycles team competing in the Burn 24 hour race at Dark Mtn. this May!

Finally, many of you received the April issue of the Luna Cycles Newsletter in your email inbox. If you didn't and would like to receive it in the future, please sign up for our mailing list using the box to the right in the sidebar. Our newsletter includes information on all aspects of cycling, information about store specials, and web only coupons! We will never share or sell your contact information and we will not overwhelm your mailbox!

Enjoy the weather and ride!