Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lucky 13

Tonight was my first race at the Washington Boulevard Cycling Oval. I registered for the Class C race in an effort to see where I might fall amongst other people. Thanks to Brian for pointing me in the right direction.

I didn't do as badly as I thought I might have. I finished 13th in a field of 18, and I think I stuck with the group pretty well throughout the race.

I did get some help from one of the marshals. At one point I lost the guy in front of me and I was having trouble getting back up, so someone planted a hand on my back and helped push me back into the group. If not for that, I probably would have been completely out of reach of the rest of the field.

There are at least two things I need to improve:

  • I need to be a lot better at holding my line through the turns. I'm pretty sure I made a lot of the other riders fairly nervous (actually, probably pissed off) on at least a few occasions, and the marshals told me a few times to do a better job. At one point someone told me to relax my elbows a little bit, and I think that helped.

  • I should probably downshift as we approach the slope at the end of the lap, and then shift back up once we get to the top. It wasn't so much that I was really having trouble staying with people going up the slope, but I might be able to make it a little easier on myself if I don't have to hammer so hard to do so.

There are other things, I'm sure, but those are probably the big ones. As time goes on, I can think about moving up and stuff like that.

At one point I grabbed the wheel of someone who was moving up. It turns out he was moving to the front of the pack (I think he ended up finishing first or second). I was able to stay with him for close to a lap, but then he was gone and I was in the middle of nowhere trying to keep the momentum on my own. It didn't take long for the rest of the group to catch me and spit back toward the end.

Apart from that, I felt pretty good. Definitely good enough to want to go back next week and do it again. I need to go back down to the oval on my own, or better yet, with someone else, to practice the turns with a rider on my right. I don't want to cause undue anxiety, or worse yet, a wreck.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The weather outside...

It's supposed to be 35° in the morning. On May 18th. WTF?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Them's the brakes.

I had a good ride this morning. I'd have ridden at lunch, but I had to mow the lawn since it was supposed to rain this evening. Not wanting to disappoint me, it did rain this evening. It's been raining a lot. Really.

I was going to ride last night after I finished up with work. I got all dressed, headed downstairs, and went to check my tire pressure. Front tire was fine; topped it off. Rear tire was... really low.

I didn't feel like going through the hassle of taking off the tire, checking tube and tire and then reinflating, so I figured I'd just throw on the other wheelset. This was a good decision. As I was dropping the front wheel into place, the rotor clipped one of the brake pads and... the pad came right off of the piece that holds it in place and fell on the floor.

I couldn't believe it. I took the wheel back out and tapped the brake pad on the opposite side. Fell right off. Apparently, they were pretty well shot. I feel extremely fortunate that they decided to wait until just then to crap out, as having that happen while I was riding would probably have been fairly unpleasant.

I checked the rear brakes, but they still look to have plenty of life. Makes sense, as I do most of my braking with the front brake.

Obviously, I wasn't going to be doing any riding. I called REI to see if they had the brake pads in stock (I'd have gone to Pro Bikes, but they close at 6:00 on Mondays). They confirmed that they had plenty, so after Heather and I had dinner (tomato-garlic chickpea pancakes with salsa spread and some corn), I headed over to the Southside Works.

I picked up the brake pads, some degreaser, shot bloks, and Camelbak drink tab things. Lots of stuff on sale right now. I forgot to look for water bottle cages that won't rub paint/metal onto my bottles and make my fingers all silvery every time I take a drink. There was something else I forgot, but already it's slipped my mind. Again.

Installing the new brake pads was a piece of cake. Take out the old ones, snap in the new ones. Adjust them so that they're close, but not too close, to the rotors. Verify that when you apply the brake the wheel does, in fact, stop. That's about it.

No problems with the brakes this morning. I have to remember to check the rear tire on the other wheelset to see if that tire has deflated again. I don't want to forget about it until I want to use that wheelset again. But that's probably what will happen.