Slonie Answers Your Search Terms

I’m starting a new thing here. You like Googling. You’ve got queries, and I’ve got posts that answer them. Or do I? I do now.

I’ve got a lot of terms to catch up on before going into maintenance mode with “What are you searching for this week?“, so consider this the first in a series. A serious of awesomeness.

Bikes

i want a bridgestone rb-1

You’re in luck, it just so happens that mine is for sale! 1992, 57.5cm, yellow. $600 and it’s yours. Send email to my nickname at gmail dot com.

bruce gordon custom price

Bruce Gordon needs your help right now! It’s about $1800 for a custom frame, and there’s no waitlist as of this posting. What, you’re still here? Go get it!

van dessel whiskey tango foxtrot weight

I asked Van Dessel and they gave me the skinny. The WTF weighs 2700g, and the fork is 1250g. I believe that’s for a 56cm. It will make you strong like bull, they added.

van dessel country road bob

Never really clicked with me… I always found it to be ugly, myself. While on the other hand…

van dessel wtf roadtest

I haven’t ever seen one in print! Tell you what, I’ll volunteer to evaluate a Van Dessel WTF, and get back to you on this (as soon as Van Dessel sends me one). I’ll be waiting…

rsogn or vaya?

First-world problem, right?

giant revive

Don’t do it!

old caz grasshopper 2011

Was awesome…

grasshopper adventure series vimeo kabush

Was awesomer.

(Part 2 here)

Other Stuff

youtube i even made angel cop amv

Did you? I made Angel Cop Condensed like ten years ago. Of course only a few friends had really seen it before they invented YouTube.

its not bacon

dogs don’t know it’s not bacon

meaning of dogs do not know it is not bacon

it has to be baicon its baicon dogs dont know its baicon

Beggin’ Strips commercials were awesome, it’s undeniable.

Snausages commercials may be even better, though.

self flattering portrait

I’m not really good at these, but I keep trying. Maybe try some better lighting!

“outfoxies pcb” 2011

I’m not sure why you’re adding 2011 to your term, but Outfoxies is awesome, and it’s definitely worth your effort to track down the PCB.

is calorie mate unhealthy

Well, Calorie Mate is basically shortbread, marketed as “balanced food”. But it delivers what it promises – Calories! You need those to live. So maybe it’s not so unhealthy after all.

Plus, Jack Bauer really seems to enjoy them when he’s on holiday in Japan…

Well, that’s it for the first installment, join me next time when I answer more of your search queries!

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Back Off The Saddle Again: A belated Boggs Report

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, let’s see if this thing still works.

I mean, the last thing I reported was the Boggs 8hr cross-country mountain bike race.  And that wasn’t even a post, just an awesome photo from Nick Gaetano. Well in any case, that was the race. Here’s another!

IMG_0206
(Photo by iBikergal on Flickr)

What you’re seeing is the creek crossing right after the start/finish line, which ensured that every rider’s chamois would stay wet, lap after lap, even though the course dried out almost completely after 7 hours of racing. This led to a condition that I now describe as “Boggs Butt,” but that’s a story for later.

Now, it’s been a while, considering this race happened at the start of April, so apologies for the lack of structure, detail, excitement, and good writing that you might expect out of a race report, or just a real blog entry.

At the last minute, Carlos and his band of fearless Bikemonkeys was forced to change the course due to record rain and snow, as well as some new management in the ranger station. This led to a total removal of singletrack, and shortened the course to a 4.3 mile fireroad loop (with something like 600ft of climbing per lap). Suffice to say, this disappointed many would-be racers who came to race on that sweet, sweet Boggs singletrack.

Plans were hatched to “do a lap, then go ride singletrack the rest of the day.” These plans sounded pretty good to me, in fact. But I’m nothing if not stubborn – Once I had turned in a lap, the “real race” was on for me. I was determined to actually ride the entire race. And I did! I played leapfrog with lots of friends throughout the day, as well as getting encouragement and support from yet more friends and teammates. Despite being “not fun” compared to the singletrack option, the course wasn’t really bad. Sure, it had fireroad climbing galore, but it also had fireroad descending galore. And after 7 hours of fatigue and all the lack of concentration that goes along with it, I’m not sure I could have handled a highly technical course. So I was having fun. You know, “doesn’t have to be fun to be fun” fun. At least I was having more fun than my intrepid friends riding cyclocross bikes…

boggs-2011-race-ay-IMG_7988_1
(Photo by Andrew Yee on Flickr)

(Sorry guys, I just wanted to add more pictures to the post, and this one popped up! It turns out they were able to re-assemble one working bike out of the three they started with, and trade off on it to win the wrong bike award for the day, also known as the Cyclocross Category. But back to my race…)

Even though I was going at an “endurance” pace (to put it charitably), my laps were gradually getting slower. My first laps were around the 27 minute mark, but they had stretched out to 30 minutes after a few hours of riding. I mention this, because there was a 3pm time cut to start your last lap. What’s more, this last lap had to be finished by 3:30, or it wouldn’t count. What’s more, I was riding my 13th lap as the clock drew closer to 3. And let me tell you, I didn’t want to make the time cut. I was over it.

But just like I couldn’t start the race and not continue it, I knew I wasn’t going to quit if I happened to come across the line within the time cut. And lo and behold, I rolled over the finish line (and the butt-soaking creek) at something like 2:59:50, because I heard the announcer telling the next racer (and the crowd) that they had “thirty minutes to finish!”

Well, crap. Now I was in for it. So, I did what anybody who hadn’t been going hard enough the entire time would do – I lit. It. Up. I ground my way up the first climb at a quick pace, then attacked the descent like I hadn’t all day. I had an extra bit of encouragement from riding wheel to wheel with Chris, who had blown himself up making the time cut himself (but handling it fine), and my teammate Krishna, who had realized at the finish that he had to do another lap in order to secure victory for his 2-person team. Even though they were both racing in different categories than I was, we were all fighting the same time cut on the last lap. And despite my age-old enemy of cramping calfs, I was able to claw back minutes on those flat and descending parts, and turn in a 24-minute lap at the end, my fastest all day.

I found out later that I came in 16th in Sport, out of 38 starters. Of course, only 28 turned in more than a single lap! I had no expectations for this race, except for “finishing”, so I succeeded and then some. Specific props should be given to my teammate Mikey, who made sure to come through the finish line once before the time cut, for a single seven-hour lap. That’s owning DFL with style. After I came across the line, I enjoyed the best burrito I’ve ever had and an impromptu birdbath in the same creek I had ridden through 14 times already.

Team Sheila Moon also won the beard competition, taking three out of eight prizes, including the coveted Silkiest, Gnomiest, and Most Pirate-y awards.

IMG_8115
(Pirate-y Xton, and Silky Ted)

And the next day, I got to ride all that sweet singletrack that I had missed out on during the race. Of course, I could barely sit on a bike at that point…

And now, a photo of May:
boggs-2011-race-ay-IMG_7969_1

And what happened the next day:
IMG_8194

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Boggs

First time doing an 8-hour race. Full report to come…

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Term I just coined #4

Race Radio – When a bug flies into your ear.

Bug: “bzzzzzzzz
Me: “Ow, I just got race radio!”

(Slightly better than the “protein shot,” which is when the bug flies into your mouth and involuntary ingestion occurs)

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Who Wants To Be My Next New Bike?

So, I’ve got a road bike. I’ve got a mountain bike. I’ve got a cyclocross bike. They all do their jobs well. But I’d love to have something that, at the very least, could accomplish at some of these goals:

1) Mount racks and fenders without hacks
2) Be used for light and/or loaded touring, locally (and abroad?)
3) Be good on-road, but worry-free for offroad use

The good thing is, even though I’m looking for an “all-rounder,” it doesn’t need to be made to do everything. I already have a bike to race ‘cross on, and a hardtail mountain bike. I actually DON’T need a super monster-29er machine, even though I might use such capabilities.

The good thing is, there’s something of an embarassment of riches in terms of production bikes today that would fit the bill… Here’s a list of some of them! This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ll probably come back and update this post in the future… But for now, maybe you’ll find it interesting, or have suggestions for me!

Van Dessel WTF


I never wanted a Country Road Bob, but the Whisky Tango Foxtrot (WTF) is awesome. It can be built up in almost every conceivable way, as long as it’s green. Firsthand info on this bike is really rare on the Internet… I found approximately one person on a forum who had built one up, but haven’t seen any around besides that. People seem to like them, though…
Van Dessel WTF
PROS: Truly able to do it all. Obnoxious.
CONS: Heavy*. No firsthand reports of how it rides. Guilt over it not being a Retrotec.

*Edit! Straight from Van Dessel, the official frame/fork weight for the WTF: 2700gr frame, 1250gr fork uncut. WTF will make you strong.

Salsa Vaya


Like many people, I regret not buying a La Cruz back when it was still shipping. Talk about a cult bike… Now, the Vaya may have actually been less of a La Cruz replacement than fans wanted, but I have a hard time arguing that it isn’t even better for what I’d use it for (i.e. not a mountain bike). The original brown color was also a big turn-off, but Salsa has seen the error of their ways and returned it to “La Cruz Orange” for this year. 2011 also brings a new build utilizing SRAM Apex, for about $1500.
Salsa Vaya
PROS: Available complete. Disc Brakes. Orange again.
CONS: Not many, but it’s not very pretty.

Rawland rSogn


This one flew onto the radar out of nowhere, but it’s definitely a contender. The versatility of a Rawland is back in “road” form… And thankfully it’s lost the dreadful-looking headtube extension above the toptube. The features and geometry look pretty much spot-on, and it’s the nicest looking Rawland yet, to boot.
Rawland rSogn
PROS: All-rounder geometry, monster tire clearance, very thoughtful details, pretty for a stock frame.
CONS: Not yet shipping. Neither is its upcoming cousin, the equally-tempting 700C Nordavinden.

Ritchey Breakaway Cross


This one’s been on my radar for a very long time. I seldom hear an unkind word about it. And it’s going to be white, soon… It’s a traditional steel CX frame with rack and fender mounts and a carbon fork. The neat trick is that it breaks in half (safely) and fits in an included case for travel.
Ritchey Breakaway Cross
PROS: Can race ‘cross on it. In another country. I actually plan on doing that this year, so it’s not a joke!
CONS: Dorky fork. Need to wait a while longer for the sexy white one. Included case is not very protective.

A Custom Rock Lobster (or other esteemed framebuilder)


Rock Lobster
Or another custom frame. But I think Paul would probably get my business in this case. I would probably go with a steel frame and fork, long-reach calipers or Paul Racers (or discs). Road-ish geometry with clearance for bigger tires and braze-ons for all the touring stuff. S&S couplers would be a strong possibility. Frameset cost would be $1500+
PROS: Custom geometry, and “exactly what I want” (which may not be a good thing). Can be coupled.
CONS: More expensive. Wait-time. Though Rock Lobster seems quite reasonable on both counts, compared to other custom bikes.

Bruce Gordon


Morgan came right out at my list of bikes and suggested a Bruce Gordon. Also available in more-affordable TIGwanese form as the BLT.
Bruce Gordon Rock N’ Road.
PROS: Explicitly designed as a dirt-worthy tourer.
CONS: All-the-way-touring-bike. I wasn’t smart enough to have it on my list the first time.

Honorable Mentions

Ebisu All-Rounder – Undeniably classy, but fell off of my shortlist somehow. See also: Any basic steel road or CX frame with a few braze-ons would accomplish a large part of what I’m looking for in a bike. This one just does it while being beautiful at the same time.

Surly Long-Haul Trucker – It’s like $1100 for a complete, touring-ready rig. This kind of makes sense if all I want to do is load it down and go touring, and a true touring frame is going to give the best results for that. But as you can see, I’m trying to compromise with some bikes that will be more fun when I’m not touring…

- Others (Cross Check, DoubleCross, Traitor Ruben, A Bike Off Craigslist)

- A Bike I Already Own: If I buy anything new, I’m going to sell my Bianchi Axis and my Bridgestone RB-1. But theoretically, I could just keep my Axis, slap racks on it, and turn it into whatever I need. That’s “free.” Or, I could have rack/fender mounts brazed onto my RB-1… But it’s a little large for me, and I should probably leave that poor bike alone.

Er, what?

Civia Halsted

PROS: Highest load-carrying capacity of any bike here.
CONS: Okay, I’m not really cross-shopping this bike with anything, but today I just remembered drooling over it at Interbike. I would have to go into business as a food vendor or something to justify this one – Which would be awesome.

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Grasshopper Old Caz: The Revenge

50 miles on a CX bike. What’s the worst that could happen?

Last year, in search of a “favorite race of the year,” or even a “best day on the bike, ever,” I set off on the legendary Old Cazadero edition of the Grasshopper Adventure Series (the most prestigious Not-A-Race series in the world). Things didn’t go well. John crashed on the descent from Duncans Mills, in what became known as the Ditch of Doom, and we ended up limping back to the start along the most direct (paved) route. I made some new friends that day (sup Dans!) but I didn’t get what I expected out of the ride. As if it was possible, this year’s edition would have to live up to even higher standards–Firstly, it would have to satisfy the image I had built up, but perhaps more importantly, I would actually have to finish this year.

And so, the story continues… Starting at 5:45 in the morning, again. Even though the ‘hoppers have a very civilized start time of 10am, they are also very far away from the South Bay. The team bus was set to leave San Francisco at 8 o’clock sharp, so I made the plan to be at John’s house by 7 to pick him up. Everything went to plan, and I was on the team bus with no problems.

“I don’t know if you’ve done this ride before…” Brue said, pausing to take a bite out of a delicious-looking egg and avacado bagel sandwich. “But it’s pretty relentless. Bonking here, you don’t want it to happen to you.” Turns out the secret to success is two dinners AND two breakfasts. I bought a bagel at the gas station, and bummed some pumpkin bread off of John.

We made it to Occidental on time, thanks to Murph’s touge-bus-driving skills. We unloaded the bus, suited up, and I rolled to the back of the pack for the start.

Wait a second, why’s Levi Leipheimer here at the back of the pack?

#1: Old CazPhoto: Kim Dow. Normal-sized human pictured for comparison.

Oh right, they changed the route this year – The start went in the opposite direction. That’s the front. After I shuffled my way to the middle of the back to join my teammates, it wasn’t long until we were rolling. One stop sign and right turn later, and the pack (280 strong, from what I heard) hit the climb up Coleman Valley Road. I don’t know how steep it is in reality, but on cold legs it was a hell of a wakeup call. I was running uncomfortably close to redline and trying to maintain a sedate pace up the climb, there was enough riding ahead that I really wanted to pace myself. But the climb was a good idea – It thinned out the pack considerably at the start, which was much safer than having 300 cyclists descending in a pack right at the start (see: last year).

At the top of Coleman Valley, things got dirty and downhill, really fast. At this point, John, Ted, and I were riding together. I had formed a plan with Derrick to ride with him and Ted for the duration of the ride, as we’re fairly closely matched. But I had made a pact with John to stay with him the whole day no matter what else happened. Finishing this shit was important, to both of us! In fact, the ride had taken its first casualty of the day at a ditch on top of Willow Creek – I saw a crashed rider sitting on the side of the trail. He was already being attended to by other riders, so I only slowed down a bit. Later, I heard that he had snapped his frame (and a bone). Damn.

It wasn’t long till Derrick passed me, while Ted was already bombing the hill up ahead on his monstercross rig from the start. I told Derrick I was going to wait up for John on the descent as I continued to pick my way down the sweeping dirt corners of Willow Creek. At what seemed like the bottom, I pulled off the road to wait for John, and came across none other than Dan, the missing (participating) member of our impromptu team from last year. After some catching up, (“What? You haven’t ridden your mountain bike yet this year?” – Dan) John rolled by, and the two of us were off again towards PCH.

The last, flat part of Willow Creek was the wettest part of the ride – Lots of gravelly puddles. I called it the Strada Bianca part of the ride, accurately or not. PCH took us to River Road, which we would then take East to the foot of Duncan Road. River Road was the longest nicely-paved section of the course, so it’s very advantageous to get some help from your friends there. As we started a mild climb, we caught up to the pink tires of none other than (The Original F-ing) Sam Bell. We had a pretty good team going on the road at this point, or so I thought, until a freaking freight train rolled by – Two tandem teams towing a mess of other riders. “Should we get on?” Asked John. You bet your ass we did. Latching onto the tandems was the best thing we did – It made the stretch of pavement leading to Duncan Road pass by effortlessly, and would provide valuable help on the next few turns, because these tandem drivers knew where the hell they were going…

Our group, on the first leg of River Rd.
Photo: Morgan Fletcher (who was far, far, ahead of me – This is just for reference)

At the bottom of Duncan, John and I launched off the back of the tandem team and began the climb. It was as steep as last year, and my gearing was higher this year, but I was stronger too, so I soldiered on. But what was really surprising was that with John’s single-ring (with a 32t cassette) setup, he was riding away from me up the hills.  It turns out that a 240-mile training camp the previous week (or any training, for that matter) does have an affect. We passed the summit of Duncan Road and started the descent. Now, this was a critical spot last year. I let John take the lead, as we both cautiously rode the non-dramatic part of the descent, around some sweeping dirty corners. Then, John let me pass right before oh shit it’s the ditch.

A year later, and it’s still sketchy, I tell you. Last year I rode it without issue because I didn’t know it was coming and let instinct take over. This year I knew it was coming, went slow, and actually had a hilarious slo-mo crash in the exact same spot that John did last year. He came around the corner just in time to see me ass over teakettle with an upside-down bike. It was magnificent. I was up just in time to catch the Tandem Train as it pulled into ditch station, and departed for Old Cazadero Road through a series of turns that I would have definitely missed otherwise.

Whew, I sure sat on the draft of this post for a while… Like, more than a month! Let’s finish this up all quick-like by compressing the remaining majority of the ride into one paragraph, then pressing “Publish!”

The rest of the ride went fine, except that somehow Sam lost an entire front brake pad, post and all, and had to abort via the safest route back. John and I soldiered on and re-attached to an ever-growing group leading up to the last stretch of River Road back to Willow Creek. It was then that riding the CX bike paid dividends… MEGA paceline up River Road, culminating in a monster pull wherein I tried to regain some self-respect for the day. At the bottom of Willow Creek, I thought I still had some gas in the tank, and was already looking forward to how I might ride faster in future installments of the ride. What I didn’t realize was that Willow Creek will remove any gas left in that tank in short order. When I hobbled to the top a half hour later, I had nothing left. THE END!

Here’s the Strava.
Here’s me at the finish, with a bike that had become so creaky that I haven’t ridden it since this post/ride was started, six weeks ago:

Mountaintop finish at Willow Creek

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Fear and Loathing in Bakersfield

Alternate title: We can’t stop here, this is cat country.

In case you don’t have time, I’d like to open with what you almost certainly came for: A totally badass picture of me positively flying up the runup at Hart Park, during the inagural Norcal vs. Socal Cyclocross State Championship Race.

Hart Park Runup

Oh, and here’s the course, brought to you by the magic of GPS. If you click on it, you can see my turn-by-turn annotations on flickr!

Norcal vs. Socal Cyclocross Course (GPS)

And here’s my teammate May Woo’s awesome video. Watch it! You’ll get a good feel for the course, and you’ll also see me going really fast (because I’m going downhill).

NorCal vs. SoCal CX Smackdown 2011 from May Woo on Vimeo.

You should also read Cyclocross Magazine’s coverage of the event. First of all, I co-wrote it. Plus, it’s shorter, and doesn’t waste time talking about feral cats, mexican food, lukewarm tubs, giant novelty checks, or California Vehicle Code Section 23229(a).

For any of that, you’ll have to read on… Continue reading

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Grasshopper Season: Unfinished Business

Tomorrow:
Giant Grasshopper (Tropidacris dux)

For further context, see this time, last year.

Grasshopper 2011 poster at Gianni Cycling.

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Yamaguchi Framebuilding School

I’m a little out of the loop here. Thanks to a tantalizing photoset from a Flickr friend, it only took ten minutes, to go from not even knowing about the Yamaguchi framebuilding class, to checking the available dates for 2011. After this, I got around to the realization that Yamaguchi is not, in fact, located in Japan. He’s been in the USA since 1989.¹ That would explain why he’s built frames for the US Olympic team, among other things. Like I said, I’m slow!

But now that I’m all caught up… I think my next vacation just planned itself²: Rifle Colorado, 2011! Who’s with me? We’ll build frames, then ride them! In Colorado! We’ll eat roadkill burgers. It’ll be sweet!

Okay, time to level with you. Everything written above, while true, is just here to so I would have an excuse to post the first three photos I found of Yamaguchi’s happy graduates. You know what they say about dogs resembling their owners? Well, have a look at these three students and the frames they made…

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Do I even need captions? Do I even know what a rhetorical question is?

Update:

This belongs in the post, not the comments. By utilizing the Rand Miller method of wish-fulfillment fantasy, I have concocted a startlingly-realistic glimpse into the future:

Frame DONE!*


¹ This fact alone just saved potentially thousands of dollars off the expected cost of such an escapade.
² Actually, this is not completely true – My next vacation is, obviously, the CFC Team Training Camp in Bend, OR. Look for the press release soon!

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Things I wish I knew when I started Riding

Look, I’m not exactly an old hand at this business, and there’s a lot of information out there available to new cyclists, but I’m gonna lay it down straight and give you the things that nobody told me. In no particular order…

  1. Shorts, you’ll want more of these before you start buying more jerseys. You can always re-use a jersey. Also, buy bibs while you’re at it, you’re going to eventually anyway.
  2. Cycling socks – Seemed like the least-necessary item of “cycling-specific” clothing to buy. I held out for the longest time, but after seeing the light, I rarely wear anything else – Even off the bike! They can even double as dress socks.
  3. Fitness goes away. Fast. Nobody told me this one! I guess that’s what happens when cycling is the first sport you’ve done since little league.
  4. Sure, buy a cool-ass waterbottle if you like it, but you’re soon going to end up with more bottles than you can ever use, especially if you start racing. You’ll be losing and gaining bottles as all the time. Then you start designing your own… (this last part might only apply to me)
  5. You may think you’re racing that stranger on the road, but he’s probably not racing you. In fact, the more serious the roadie, the more likely it is that they’re joylessly following a plan, and less likely it is that to deviate from it to respond to your “attack”. Or, he’s on his way back from 80 miles to the coast. You never know.
  6. Tegaderm.

Have any of your own? Leave ‘em as a comment.

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