Archive for July, 2002

King of the Mountain

So Lance Armstrong is once again ripping up the field in the Tour. There’s something so satisfying when you know that he won’t attack till the mountains, being patient while the sprinters have their day. Then the tour gets to the mountains and he wins the next three stages.

In the paper today, they mentioned that he has the fastest time for the climb up Mt. Ventoux, the moonscape where he gave the stage win to Pantini a couple of years ago. The paper reports that it’s 5280 feet (exactly on mile) up, 13 miles, and he did it in 58 minutes. I’ve done one climb of that magnitude also 5280 feet up from sea level to Hurricane Ridge over 20 miles. I was in good shape at the time, but it took me 2:20, or about 2.3 times as long.

Doing some rough guesses at the math, it looks like Lance was producing an average of 350 watts. Nearly half a horsepower. (power = mass * g* h / time, or 170 lbs/2.2lb/kg * 9.8m/s^2 * 1600m/(58min*60sec)) That’s ignoring wind resistance, which should be a reasonable assumption for 13 mph. Numbers for me? 170 watts.

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Midwestern Style Gardens.

It’s beginning to be that time around here when neighbors should be on the lookout for suspicious packages of vegatables left on their door steps.

The zucchinis are here. I’ve had them for three nights in a row, and there are two more in the fridge. One was a 2lb monster that doubled in size while we were off riding to Portland. The big one was roasted with goat cheese and mushroom filling, a small one grated into a frittata, and a medium one into udon noodle soup.

This is as many as I got to eat last year. The squirrels kept eating the flowers, and something devoured most of the leaves when the plants were still small. This year I lost 2.5 of the three early plants, so I planted a couple more. The half survived, as did the other two, and this year the squirrels don’t like zucchini flowers.

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STP Success.

We made it, had great weather and a great time. The mornings started out a little cool and cloudy, but by noon or so we had full sun. Light sprinkles of rain and mostly tailwinds. All in all, nearly perfect riding weather.

There were a lot of parent/child tandem teams, and one family of five split between a tandem and a triple. A bunch of hand cyclists (trikes that are powered by hand, generally ridden by paraplegics), a few pedaled trikes (one mountain style with 2 kidback tandem attachments), one unicyclist, and a rollerblader.

The course hasn’t changed a whole lot since I did it the one day 4 years ago. It ends a bit sooner by going up and over the St. Johns Suspension Bridge. The road surface on Highway 30 in Oregon is much better now that they’ve resurfaced it. If they’d just do something about the section near Ft. Lewis, all of the really nasty sections would be gone. I only noticed a few hostile light trucks. (I’d say cars, but they were all SUVs or Pickups). The traffic control over the Lewis and Clarke Bridge made that crossing much less dangerous, even though it meant that we were at the tail end of 1000 cyclists going down the bridge. We still got to fly through the 270 degree banked turn at the bottom.

The feel of the ride changed a bit now that I have a stoker. Tandems are fast, at least when they’re not going uphill. They carry much more speed through to the next uphill, so there’s more of a payoff to getting up to speed and power over rollers. There were a few times that we were clearly going 10 mph faster then the singles to the right of us. Thankfully, none of them violated rule #1, don’t get in front of a descending tandem. That’s not to say that they didn’t violate rule #2, which is don’t get stuck behind a climbing tandem. But that’s more their problem.

There were quite a few people who saw a tandem as an invitation to wheelsuck, even when asked not to. This caused a wreck that we passed, where a single bike got crossed up with a triple and went down. We had quite a few people suck wheel, and no one ever really pulled through. After a while, it became a bit of a sport to drop those behind us without doing anything dangerous. A bit of a move sideways and a bit of a jump was normally enough. There was a twit in a blue jersey on a grey Cannondale that just wouldn’t take the hint. He stuck with us through a jump, but then lost interest as we needed to stand up, stretch, and coast for a while. Of course, we did this just before heading up a hill, so when we passed him on the downhill, we were going fast enough that he couldn’t catch on again.

We ended up passing many of the same people over and over, either on the hills or leapfrogging at rest stops. It’s amazing that you recognize so many of the people after riding around them for a couple of days.

I do have a couple of suggestions for future iterations of the ride. When the road shoulder is about to end, it’s good to mark that 15-30 seconds ahead of where it actually happens, so that people have a chance to merge without causing chaos in passing riders and cars.

At the end of a ride, the first things riders think about are food, drink, rest, and showers. The hardest of these to improvise is showers, and they were the most lacking. At centralia, it took asking twice for location, they were a 1/2 mile ride from the campground, and they were $6 each. At the finish line, they were free and obvious but there was an hour long wait for the men.

But I still want to do it again, preferably with several friends on tandems to ride and camp with.

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Good Weather…

Except for Weather.com (motto: don’t like our forcast? wait 5 minutes) who can’t seem to decide if tomorrow is going to be sunny, cloudy, rainy, 70 or 88 degrees, the consensus is that the weather should be like today, maybe with a few more clouds.

That is to say: beautiful.

I’ll return with pictures of the road to portland.

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STP Ready

We are go for liftoff.

or rather rolloff. The weather forcast is getting better. I’ve added all the necessary doodads to the bike (fenders, rear rack and aero bars). All color coordinated in silver and black. Charging the camera batteries. Finding the camping supplies. Checking the weather again.

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The tandem has been a blast. On the 4th, we did the Mercer Island loop, including what has to be my favorite road in the area. Several miles of twists and turns, with the fast ones banked correctly. On a single, I can pedal through the corners at 28mph or so. The 5th we rode out to the Velodrome, around a few times, and back.

So, we’ve had the tandem for nearly three weeks, and done nearly 200 miles. And registrations for STP are still open.


If we do it, this would count as thinking ahead for me. A few years ago, I decided to do it on the one day plan the Thursday before, after not riding for a month due to an accident. Of course, it still rained.

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Warning Signs

If you are thinking about an apartment, beware of one that is an apartment because “It wasn’t built well enough to be sold as condos”.

Run away, screaming if you have to.

In the continuing saga of the deck waterproofing construction, we have the next bit of brilliance. Wednesday they put up a shrinkwrapped canopy over the deck, attached to the roof and the parapet wall. Thursday it sprinkled, and the water dribbled in a bit from running down the canopy, hitting the wall, and rolling in. This should have been a sign.

Friday it really started raining. The contractor worked for 10 hours or so as an inch of water gathered on the deck where there used to be waterproofing. At about 8pm, they decided that this might be a problem, and brought in fans and some additional splash guards that should keep additional rain out. But by this time, much of the water had drained into the building walls. And then out into the carpet several floors below.

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