Friday, October 23, 2009

What I do

OK - This isn't the best title for this post. I don't make bikes. I sell bikes. But - every bike that we make at Bike Friday starts with a sale. We build 'em one at a time, after a (sometimes lengthy) process of consulting with the new bike owner and specifying every part that's to go on the bike.

This slide show documents the birth of one customer's Bike Friday New World Tourist, which she's named the "Other Trucker", because we matched its geometry to her current favorite touring bike - a Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Some customers are just more fun than others. Apologies if you're one of my current customers and you're reading this and I've NOT made a blog post about the birth of your bike - but Karen and Vinny (Karen's wrench in Vacaville, CA) were very involved in the process.

We likened the process to pregnancy, labor, and delivery of a new bundle of joy. I got frequent emails from Vinny reminding me that he was at home, boiling water, forceps at the ready, etc. I was sorely tempted to send candy cigars along with the bike!

That's all I've got for you - it's Friday (here at Bike Friday) and I'm feeling really good about making a customer happy with a shiny new bike (doesn't hurt that it's my favorite color - Candy Apple Red). I took pictures along the way - much to the amusement of the production staff.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sharing The Road

Had a GREAT training ride last Saturday. Lena and John (and Moo) Caton invited me out to John's training ride. He was supposed to ride for 4 hours, and was looking for company. So I got a paced ride on beautiful, scenic Highway 126, with full support.

All I had to do was - keep up with John. Not an insignificant task, but I was really motivated. Moo barked EVERY time the support car came past. Lena says that he only barks for John, but I could tell he was starting to bark for me, too...

The weather was pretty nice - I'd hesitate to say "perfect" but it was really QUITE nice - almost 60, almost sunny, very little wind. Riding along the McKenzie was scenic, there weren't very many cars, and the kinder, gentler rollers were a nice change of pace from the Wolf Creek training loop (if you're ever in town, that's probably where I'll take you riding first...).

The two hours out was rolling upwards ever so slightly - I really pounded it out on the uphills (check out this picture of my big-ring climbing!):

I also got to show off my smiling skills - remember, smiling makes for faster racing! - for the camera. Lena took an amazing number of pictures, and an even more amazing number of them turned out well. I'd have to take a whole lot of pictures to come up with 143 winners. (How many? We may never know....)

I know I rode harder than I would've if I'd been riding on my own - it's easy to let yourself off the hook when you're not being pushed to ride steadily. I'm pretty sure that John felt like he pushed a little bit, too - makes for great training.

Afterward, we spent some time talking about this and that, trading stories and tips. John has some great motorcycle goggles that have prevented the dry eye syndrome that plagued Mark at Furnace Creek a few years back. We talked RAAM, RAW, and Texas Hill Country.

Add it all up, and it's clear that I've been riding by myself waaaaay too much. So - if I hit you up to ride with me sometime soon, don't be too surprised.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Blog Action Day - Climate Change and Cycling

Hi Gang -

Bloggers around the world are blogging about climate change today. To see more about what folks have to say on the topic, please visit here:

Cycling and (mitigating) climate change go together like (fair trade) coffee and (locally-sourced) scones. Or hands and gloves. Or pink and racing.
Bike commuting just makes sense! Exercise, base miles, save wear and tear on the car, and save the planet, one mile (or a few) at a time.

I've got to admit that sometimes I feel like an eco-slouch. RAAM certainly isn't about saving the planet! But in the long run, I'm hoping it more than balances out.

Here's a good way to keep track:

Have a great day! Lights - raingear - action!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blown Away

Sorry it took so long to post after Furnace Creek. We were...tired.
Here's the long - and the short - of it: Greg Olson, Oregon Sasquatch, finished the Furnace Creek 508. He was DFL. Not shabby - half of the field were DNF's. We arrived in Santa Clarita early Friday afternoon and sailed through h the inspection process. I got to meet/greet/hug about half of the race (it seemed). Good to see everybody!

Del was successfully inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday evening at the shortest Furnace Creek pre-race meeting in race history, and we got to the hotel in plenty of time to get rest. We didn't - we got an all-night party of Magic Mountain-goers rattling the walls instead - but we had great intentions.

The morning was a little crisp, but lovely, and punctuated by tailwinds. We were making great progress! Greg rode like a champ and took care of business. He was in 25th-30th place most of the race.

As it should be, the trip up Townes' Pass was difficult. The trip down to Furnace Creek started accumulating the winds that would be the undoing of many racers (and their crews). Between Furnace Creek and Asford Mills, the winds were horrific - steady 40MPH headwinds with significant gusts. Greg was making steady 5 mph progress through much of this stretch. We went several hours without seeing anyone. After Asford Mills, things calmed down, and the climb to Salsbury Pass (normally the bane of riders) was a huge, warm, sunny relief! We went back and forth with several solos and 2-person teams here, and everyone was in a great mood.

Clothing change and a nice breakfast in Shoshone, then on to Baker. "Light" headwinds punctuated the rest of the trip. We made decent time in this stretch and were calculating a finish around midnight to 2AM.

Del got Greg a milkshake in Baker, which perked him up quite a bit! So far, the nutrition plan had been a mix of Sustained Energy and HEED, with occasional gels, cup-o-noodles, and the omnipresent York Peppermint Patties. For the record, we also successfully tossed in a few Boost energy drinks, a couple of sandwiches, and the like....overall I thought that Greg ate barely enough (especially considering the hard work in the wind) but because he's diabetic I wasn't wanting to tinker too much. We were using about 50 mg of caffeine per hour in the latter parts of the race (Kelso on).

Despite everyone's best efforts, the wheels fell off 40 miles from the end. Greg had ridden extremely well to this point, but not without a cost: his left shoulder was weakened by the constant quartering winds, and his back had tightened up. Having to switch away from his favorite bike (the Trek Y Foil) did not help. He was noticeably crooked on the bike, and having troubles maintaining a straight line.

We took a quick break for downtime when he veered off the road and fell. He was pretty groggy - he'd been riding for 39 hours at this point - and we thought that a very quick power nap might help. He stayed down for about 10 minutes, then popped up wanting to ride.

The rest of the ride was very hard - the climb up Sheephole is not nice under good circumstances, and these were not good circumstances. By the time we were on the last stretch, Greg needed constant reminders to pedal. So as Del drove, I leaned out the car window and hollered "Pedal! Pedal!..." to keep him from coasting. It was a little disturbing to realize that the only thing keeping him pedalling was some deep, lizard-like reflex that heard my voice and reacted to it.

But - we made it. We got passed about a mile before the finish - actually a relief because it made it easier to show Greg the way in. His wife was waiting for us - she'd been waiting for some time, of course, and was worried, but was being a very good sport about it.

I was SO proud of Greg! He never considered quitting, never did less than his best, never complained (though he did mention, once or twice, that his shoulder hurt...), and out-performed riders who are serious legends in ultracycling.

Here's my slide show! I didn't have much time to take pictures, as you see...