28 October 2011

Join BicyclingHub at the OR Handmade Bike Show + Day of Dead Cyclocross Festival this weekend

BicyclingHub.com owner Doug Duguay and Dan Kaufman of PDXK Productions are heading down to Bend, OR this weekend for three full days of cycling festivities in one of the most premier road cycling, mountain-biking, hiking and cross-country skiing areas in the country.  Be warned:  they've got bikes and cameras in tow, and aren't afraid to use them.

Be it two days of back-to-back Cross Crusade races (including the outrageous and outlandish Halloween costume race, the annual Oregon Handmade Bike Show, Super-D & Cyclocross Super-D Championships, the Cross Culture Art + Bike Love art festival, or tours of Deschutes Brewery, it's a cultural celebration of bikes not to be missed.

Bike lust alert! Consult oregonframebuilders.org for full itinerary.
Can't travel to Bend this weekend? Keep in touch via our Facebook and Twitter accounts for pics, video and live updates--all the news that's fit to be posted, tweeted, and shared with our readers and fans.

27 October 2011

Introducing the perfect "His & Hers" long-sleeve jerseys designed to defy the elements

Castelli's Trasparente Wind Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey now available in both men's and women's versions!

Castelli Women's Trasparente - white
No longer will women have to steal their husbands' or boyfriends' long-sleeve jerseys, or purchase a men's cut and hope the difference in arm, torso and hip dimensions won't prove too cumbersome or uncomfortable to the female form. Castelli, an Italian cycling clothing manufacturer known for its superior fabrics and tailored fits, parlayed the success of last year's Trasparente Wind Jersey to create a women's specific version in a league of its own.

Castelli Men's Trasparente - white
Light, warm, comfortable and stylish, this jersey is perfect for those chilly fall and spring days that hover between 50 to 65 degrees. Windstopper fabric in the front panels prevents cold gusts from penetrating through and freezing your core, while the Warmer fabric on the back ensures high breathability. Committed to riding in and testing the same products we sell, BicyclingHub.com staff members Kevin and Melissa take the Castelli men's and women's Trasparentes out for a spin.

 MelissaMelissa says:
This jersey is my absolute favorite piece in Castelli's line. Don't think of it as a jersey--think of it as a jersey and jacket in one. With the Windproof front panel and the fleeced back, this jersey keeps you warm in the Winter and is also perfect for cool Spring and Fall riding when it's often windy. It features a flip-up collar for extra neck protection. I love the thumbloop feature on the sleeves which mean that they will never creep and leave your wrists exposed to the cold-brilliant! Well worth the investment when you consider the features and how much it will extend your wardrobe.


Castelli Women's Trasparente - Black 
Castelli Men's Trasparente - Black

Kevin says:
I had to follow Melissa’s lead and get one of these for our Autumn/Winter here in Portland. We enjoy mild Winters for the most part, certainly by comparison with some other parts of the country. On top of that, you can encounter several microclimates during one ride whether you are in the West Hills of Portland or heading into the Columbia Gorge. Okay – it has been known to rain consistently through the cooler months here in the Northwest, but we can still ride. I like my Trasparente jersey for the warmth and comfort it provides, with the jersey-like feel, lack of bulk and freedom of movement. The windproof fabric on the front does a great job of protecting my chest and core from windchill and offers a little splash resistance. If it is colder than 50 degrees out, then I usually add a layer and if the skies open, then the rain cape goes on top – but my Trasparente does get plenty of use at this time of year. 

P.S. I like those finger loops too!

25 October 2011

Castelli Endurance Bibs: the "All Day Gobstopper" of the short world

Our friends at Crossbikereview.com share our philosophy that one should ride bicycles in both comfort and style.  They've just published a review of Castelli's Endurance Bib Shorts, a BicyclingHub.com staff pick and customer favorite.  Read on to find out why they've earned a full 5 out of 5 cowbells rating.

Scott Mares from Crossbikereview.com says:

We Liked:

Castelli Endurance Bib Shorts (black)
We went over to the Castelli faciliy here in Portland, OR and visited with the President of Castelli Greg Cowen and picked up a pair of these shorts. I could tell right away that these shorts were very high quality and very well made. And after several months of riding in them on a daily basis I can say that my inital impressions were spot on. The Endurance bib shorts have Castelli's Progetto X2 pad and it was truly a experience. I am usually good for a 3 hour ride and then I start getting uncomfortable in the saddle. Not so with these shorts. This pad really works. You can truly spend hours in the saddle with this pad.
Castelli Endurance Bib Shorts (red)
The other thing that was innovative about these shorts was the gripper. Grippers started out as elastic with thin rubber threads that were exposed and gripped the leg. Then they went to silicon at the end. The Castelli Endurance bib shorts have it integrated into the fabric so the actual fabric cuff is grippy. There is no raised section from the gripper to the fabric. This means a better fit and no more silicone or gripper marks on your leg after your ride. No more funny shapes aorund your thigh from the shorts!
Other nice features are 4-way flat lock stitching that ensures a smooth transition between the different sections. The micro-fabric is truly high quality and very form-fitting without being constrictive. There are also reflective inserts on the back of the leg on the cuff that adds a level of safety to the shorts. All of these are very nice touches that you would see on shorts costing much more.

We Didn't Like

This did come out sooner.

The Final Say

Endurance in white! 
Castelli is a company that has been around a long time and prides themselves on making high quality and innovative cycling clothing. They stand behind every single piece of clothing that they sell--so much so that Greg made a point to take me back and show me the returns that they have recieved for the year. If you're not happy with it for whatever the reason, they will exchange it. Oh and there were only a handful of things in the return bins. I saw 4 bins and they each had about 4-5 items in them. Not a lot considering the scope and volume that they do. So the company rocks customer service and so do the shorts. I wanted to see if Willy Wonka was back in the back working with these guys because this short is the "All Day Gobstopper" of the short world. Get a pair and they will become your favorite short.

21 October 2011

Ride Year 'Round: Top 10 Tips for Year-Round Pedaling from Seasoned Cyclists

Jay Suburb says, "Never let a little snow keep you from riding."
Autumn typically ushers in a transitional season for cyclists with cooler temps, stiffer winds, additional layers, hunting for the trail under fallen leaves (while trying to recall where the singletrack USED to be), group rides planned around fresh donuts and hot apple cider rather than ice cream, and/or racing 'cross.

While diminishing daylight and distinct chill in the air has some hanging up their bikes for the winter or heading indoors for a spin class, other riders remain resolute in their determination to ride year-round and are stocking up on warm layers, rain gear and good lights to see and be seen.

Here are our Top 10 Tips for Year-Round Riding, courtesy of your fellow cyclists and BicyclingHub fans.

10. Move to California!!!! ~Angie Achen

Castelli's Wool Cycling Cap in Grey Plaid keeps 
your head warm--and hides helmet hair nicely.
9. Ride all winter in Charlotte, North Carolina...Embrace the cold and wear layers, particularly a cap...you need to wear just enough clothes so that you are chilly the first 10-15 minutes. ~Jr DelVasto

8. Dress for the weather.. might be slow riding in the winter with snow but get in your base miles. If it is really cold make sure to not have straight water it freezes faster, mix in an electrolyte. And put your Camelbak under your jacket so it doesn't freeze~Kristhal Portugal

7. Don't decide whether to ride in the morning - commit every day before you commute - prep everything the night before and it's always time to ride. ~Max Slade

Winter events like Portland's annual Worst Day of the Year Ride are a great way to stay motivated and have fun with friends.
6. I take my bike to work and get a ride in during my lunch break. A short ride is better than an hour on the trainer! ~Scott Trombley

5. Petition your city, county, boro to install MORE bike lanes, especially in the busy central district. It can encourage more road-sharing and actually saves lives~Mark Flanigan

Would you ride your bike in THIS? Photo courtesy of MSN.com
4. For up north, studded tires take the worry out of wiping out in the snow and ice. Dress up warm and go out in a snow storm, no cars on the roads and enjoy the beauty of the stillness in the snow, except you pedaling! ~Mary Connor, Marquette, MI

3. What about cake? Cake's got layers. The keys for me are my head for overall comfort, and good stuff for my hands and feet. Best hand comfort comes from a good-fitting bike (which will help you keep blood flowing to your fingers). The rest of my body is easy to manage with layering~Roger Barr

2. I figure it's as cold out here whether I ride, walk or take the bus. Where I live, in Philadelphia, it's far easier and quicker for me to ride to work on my 2 mile commute to the office. It takes tops, 15 minutes. But if I walk or take the bus, it's much longer and I'm out in the elements getting colder or wetter. I wear thinner layers so I'm not bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story. I don a beanie cap under my helmet and an earband over my helmet. I save at least 4 bucks a day, save time and aggravation and I get some exercise while logging about 20 miles a week that I otherwise wouldn't have. All by allowing me a fancier coffee and/or a pastry treat once in a while with the bucks I save and the calories I burn. ~The Bicycle Chef

1. Fenders, a good hose and lots of chain lube! ~Scott Sherman

19 October 2011

12,000 Riders and 1+ Million Miles in 30 Days: 2011 Commuter Challenge sets new record

With a 68.3% commuter rate, 85 trips to and fro work and 1522.4 miles logged amongst its 7 employees, BicyclingHub.com was delighted to learn we ranked 14th out of 323 businesses in our category in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's annual Bike Commuter Challenge.

Hosted every September since 1995, workers in Oregon and SW Washington have competed to see who can bike to work more in 30 days. Individuals register on their workplace’s team, log their bike commutes online, and at the end of the month the BTA does the math and honors the winning companies.

Kevin "squishing" Mt. Hood while showing off the cycling love
"[Commuting by] bike is still the best way to travel…Beats sitting in the car, no matter how far or short you've got to travel," BicyclingHub staff member and "professional commuter" Kevin Langton states. "Beats taking the bus, too--and I always get a seat."

Langton can opt to take short route--which is 20 minutes and 4 miles--or, on days it's nice out and/or cares to stretch his legs, he extends his commute to take the scenic way home. That extra hour or two "gives you a little more exercise, or turns it into a training ride for a couple of hours...Fighting into the wind, hills or flat: it's all there for you, any time you want it."

According to the BTA, in 2011, 1452 workplaces and 12,063 riders participated in the Challenge, logging a total 1,372,619 miles biked. More than 2,000 participants identified themselves as new bike commuters, making 2011 a banner year for the program. With new online features to track the miles, form Leagues and issue challenges to would-be competitors, as well as weekly prize drawings and discounts at participating shops, the Commuter Challenge does a great job inspiring and motivating people to go by bike.

Mail delivery by bike: BicyclingHub staff member Adrian Richardson
tests just how much mail hisBlack Star cargo bag can really hold
Zak Kovalcik, a track racer in BicyclingHub's shipping department, lives car-free and commutes year-round. "I've only ever been a bike commuter, so I don't have much to compare it against…but it definitely beats taking the bus," he remarks. "Plus, it's a good way to wake up. When you get to work, you're already energized and ready to go, instead of still being asleep."

As a competitive cyclist, he feels making daily short trips by bike help with training--especially on "days where I'm tired from training and I don't actually want to ride…It helps get me on my bike and spin my legs."

A majority of BicyclingHub.com staff commute by bike year-round, ensuring the products we sell get rigorous testing (especially our Showers Pass rain gear) and impartial reviews. A League-recognized Bicycle Friendly Business, BicyclingHub.com looks forward to participating in the 2012 Bike Commute Challenge and giving their cohorts a run for their money.

17 October 2011

Good for Bad Weather: Castelli Nanoflex

When it comes to cycling gear that's good for bad weather, BicyclingHub.com and Bicycling Magazine agree: Castelli's Nanoflex fabric routinely outperforms other brands and wins many fans for life.

A favorite BicyclingHub staff pick since the revolutionary Nanoflex fabric was introduced last year, Castelli engineered its NanoFlex stretch with millions of tiny silicone nano-filaments to create the most water-repellent fabric known to man (or woman).  Just watch our YouTube video below and watch in disbelief as droplets of water bead and roll off the surface, rather than permeating the outer membrane and soaking through.

Apparently Bicycling Magazine agrees, as Castelli Nanoflex arm and knee warmers got the nod in the October 2011 issue. "These comfortable, flexible warmers will keep you toasty on cool spring or fall mornings, but are so light you'll forget they're in your pockets after you've shed them for the day. Water-repellent nano fibers won't keep you dry in a downpour, but light drizzle beads on the surface, giving you a chance to seek shelter before the skies open."

NOTE:  While the editors of Bicycling advise, "The fit is slightly large, so size down," the manufacturer recommends ordering arm and knee warmers in the same size as your Castelli jersey or Castelli shorts. For example, if you wear a Castelli jersey in size Medium, order Castelli arm warmers in size Medium; if you wear Castelli cycling shorts or bib shorts in size Large, order Castelli knee and/or leg warmers in size Large.

BicyclingHub.com staff are well-versed in navigating through Castelli sizing to help you find the optimal fit. For additional questions, call our cycling clothing experts toll-free at 1-888-817-8060 or e-mail us at customerservice@bicyclinghub.com .

13 October 2011

A Passion for Cycling: Behind-the-Scenes Look with Filmmakers from PDXK Productions

Last week, BicyclingHub.com launched its newest video,  A Passion for Cycling: Doug Duguay talks about an affinity in BicyclingHub.com's DNA, on our YouTube Channel.

Founder of ‪http://www.BicyclingHub.com, Doug Duguay tells the story of his cycling apparel business and what it offers customers who are interested in bike jerseys, shorts, and other bicycle clothing products. 

Take a ride with Doug through Portland's beautiful Mt. Tabor Park and see the products, brick-and-mortar and Internet store close up. Plus watch a reenactment from Doug's childhood (well kinda).

Jaime Jay Nava and Dan Kaufman on assignment at
Filmed by Bike for Pirate Satellite TV.
A collaboration with locally-based filmmakers Dan Kaufman and Jaime Jay Nava of PDXK Productions, we wanted to share not only the short film itself but also a behind-the-scenes look of how the project came to fruition. "Portlanders expect and encourage creativity and free spiritedness," observes Kaufman. Two of the qualities he admires most about the city are reflected in their work.

BicyclingHub:  How did you decide where and what to shoot the promo?

DK: After a couple rounds of coffee and brainstorming with Doug we determined he should be the focus, spokesman, and face of the company.  We all felt that's what sets BicyclingHub.com apart from some of the other cycling apparel outlets is the passion for cycling. We wanted to show Doug in action and wearing the gear.

BicyclingHub:  Why Mt. Tabor?  Does it hold a special place in Portlander's hearts?

DK: I have spent countless hours on Mt. Tabor and Washington Park.  Both have great views of the city and I consider the reservoirs to be gems that make great backgrounds for video and photographs.  Much of Mt. Tabor it is low-car or car-free so we can be free to ride and shoot bit more care free.  The federal government is also trying to force the city to cap the reservoirs so the water shots may someday be a historical view if the city can't find a solution.  I suppose there is a subtle message to Portlanders that we need save these treasures.

Doug Duguay proudly sporting the BicyclingHub Team Jersey
during a recent Cross Crusade cyclocross race.
BicyclingHub:  Why did you feel it was important to feature the owner actually riding his bike in the video?

DK: We wanted Doug's passion for cycling to be self-apparent.  It's one thing to say it.  It has more impact to show it.

BicyclingHub:  Can you describe the collaborative process you employ when working with clients to capture what you/they might be looking for to convey to their audience?

DK: We always begin with the end in mind.  We ask questions like who will be watching and what will they want to know. What is the medium and how long will people pay attention?

Video is usually more a more visceral, emotional medium so it's important to try to reach the viewers that way.  But we also want the message to be clear from the outset. Then we open it up to brainstorming where nothing is off-limits.  We come up with a few ideas and then narrow it down based on what we think will be the most entertaining and effective in getting the message across. 

Jaime Jay Nava armed and ready for action
Working with Doug was a real treat - we tried to keep his scripted lines to a minimum and then just let him riff on the story of BicyclingHub and his passion for cycling.  Jay and I always have fun working together... finding shots, cracking jokes and just enjoying the act of movie making in the moment and Doug jumped right into that.

Thanks for your all your great work, Dan and Jay!  After 10 years in business, we're just as passionate about cycling as the day we started.

Can you do us a favor? 
We're trying to hit 1,000 YouTube views. Share this link with your friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL99iwWz9n8 and spread the cycling love!

11 October 2011

My First Century: A recap of the 2011 Stagecoach Century Ride

Guest Blogger Holly Roark recaps her first century ride, starting off the New Year with a bang in Ocotillo, California. By turns serious, determined, humorous and (perhaps righteously) irked, we hope you laugh and enjoy this triple-digit journey by bicycle as much as we did.

Let me start by saying that I am sorry I did not get more pictures of the actual road that I traveled (it was a doozy) but I was too busy battling the elements, the terrain, my endurance, and a time constraint to stop and pull out my camera in places where I would have loved to get a shot.   

The Stagecoach Century is held every January in Ocotillo, CA.  It's an up and back 100 mile bicycle ride north on S2 from Imperial Highway.  It's in the desert and winds are a constant challenge.  The ride to the 50 mile mark is mostly up hill (with miles and miles of "false" flat road and several steep climbs), so you get the benefit of a faster return since you are going down hill for the most part.  The kicker is that at about mile 12 there is a really fun descent, which of course means that on the way back, at about mile 88, you are in for a grueling climb just when you feel like you can't give any more! 

I am not sure whether this Google Map photo does justice to the actual ride, but it should give you some idea of what I was dealing with out there.
Google Map of the Stagecoach Century Ride 2011 Here is the starting point and the ending coordinates if you want to play with this route on Google Maps: From 226 W. Imperial Highway, Ocotillo, CA to 33°09'06.39"N 116°32'45.67"W

Here is the course map:

All of the riders were encouraged to stay in San Diego the night before the ride since there are very few places to stay in Ocotillo and there were nearly 700 riders signed up to do this ride.  The problem is that San Diego is about 85 miles west so it would mean a long drive before the bike ride.  I wasn't too thrilled about that, but I did as the organizers advised and stayed at the Mission Valley Resort.  There the organizers had set up shop where we could conveniently pick up our packets with final instructions and also purchase any last minute necessary items for the ride.

I was really excited about the ride (my first century ride ever) and it was difficult to get to sleep but I finally dozed off at about 11:00 p.m.  My Saturday morning started before the sun came up.  I was up at 4:00 a.m. and packing up my car at 4:41 a.m. to hit the road by 5:00 a.m.

Time to pack up the car and hit the road to Ocotillo!

Since it was a cold start, we were encouraged to layer our clothing, which I did.

I am looking much better in spandex than I did 15 pounds ago!

It wasn't any colder than weather I'd ridden in recently (about 40 degrees F), and truthfully, I probably could have gone without the multiple layers.  A base layer and maybe arm warmers would have been enough. 

I arrived at the starting location at about 6:30.  Lots of people were already there and the excitement was in the (somewhat cold) air!
People getting ready for the ride out.

The sun is starting to come up!

Bicycles in the desert!

My lovely bike all ready to go!

The teams who were there for time trials got to roll out first.

Starting gate pictures: Team San Diego Descenders

 Starting gate pictures: Team Twin Six "Greasers"

The rest of us rolled out at about 7:05 a.m.

It was a 1 - 4% grade to the first check point at mile 6.  I had already warmed up so I stopped to take off my arm warmers.   

The first feed stop, where we were allowed to strip off more layers and drop our gear for pick up later was at mile 11.  I took off my leg warmers and balaclava here.  (I picked them up at the end of the ride).  I kept my windbreaker jacket and I kept my arm warmers in my back pocket just in case it got cold again.  I also kept on my base layer, which I could have taken off at any time, but I just didn't.  It did get up to about 75 degrees and I could feel the sun on my face at noon, but it wasn't sweltering.
Mile 10.68
The view from Stop No. 1

Stop No. 1 There were volunteer kids at the stop who offered to hold our bikes if there wasn't room at a rack.

Dropping off my gear bag with my leg warmers and balaclava.

Pulling out of Stop No. 1

I ate some goodies and hit the road.

Having a great ride.

After the first rest stop we got to descend Sweeney Pass.  They said not to go more than 20 miles per hour but it was hard to keep it at that!  It was a lot of fun.  No cars on the road, just sunshine and wind in my face.  What a beautiful day!

I tried not to let it cross my mind that on the way back this Sweeney Pass was going to be a bear!  I didn't have time for negative thoughts - it would ruin my ride!

Sweeney Pass from the top (photo courtesy of someone else).


Stop No. 2 - mile number 25 

Stop NO. 2 - mile no. 25.49.  Time to get some more electrolytes and a peanut butter sandwich.  So far no tough climbs and I am feeling pretty confident about this whole thing.  Up to that point it had been a slow and steady climb, a "false flat" road.  It looked flat, but you were hard pressed to get above 10 miles per hour for some reason.  In many patches I could not go above 8 or 9 miles per hour.  We had a headwind that wasn't helping anything either, (and we had a cruel surprise on the way back when the wind hit us in the face in that direction as well!)

I met several people who were turning around at this point so they could complete 50 miles rather than the full 100.

Stop No. 2 - mile number 25.49

Still smiling at mile number 25!

Stop No. 2 - mile number 25

Back at mile 25 I had no idea what was yet to come:  Campbell Grade

The pictures do not do it justice.  You have to look really closely to see how the road winds up over the top of the hill.

Approaching Campbell Grade

Me at the top of Campbell Grade

MILE 36.  This is where doubt first set in.  It was a big climb over Campbell Grade and the hill after that to get to mile 36, and I wondered if whether I should turn around at this point.  I was hurting.  "You're pushing yourself too hard.  Turn around and go back.  It would be good enough to do 73 miles; there's no shame in that," the WEAK PANSY IN MY HEAD SAID. 

Mile 36 (turn around for the 73 mile route for those who are doing that) Rest stop for water and grub.

I stretched my legs and drank some water and some electrolytes, wolfed down some fig newtons and a peanut butter sandwich, and pushed onward.  

It was about 10:45 a.m. I had to make better time if I wanted to make sure I finished before the course was closed at 5:00 p.m.  I shifted into the big chain ring and spun as fast as I could to mile 50.


I was so happy to make it to this point!  A real accomplishment for this novice!

An important maxim in cycling is "drink before you're thirsty and eat before you're hungry".   I tried to do both the whole ride but I simply couldn't drink enough.  The desert dries you out before you know it, and I was sweating salt and not feeling my best at a few different points on this journey.  I knew that was a bad sign and I kept hydrating as often as possible.  At this stop I drank a couple bottles of water to replenish myself and I rested a bit.  I was so tired of eating, I just couldn't eat much more but I made myself eat half a peanut butter bar and I put the rest in a back pocket of my jersey.  I learned on this ride why it is that some people prefer their calories in gels or drinks - it's just really hard to get all those necessary calories in you by using only solid foods.  You need to keep eating to keep fueled up for the miles, but that's hard to do because at some point you just feel too full.  I might try drinking my calories on my next long ride and see how that goes.  

At the 50 mile mark! A little bloated from all the food and electrolytes!

The view from mile 50.

Another view from mile 50.

I didn't want to delay too long so I stretched my legs and it was on to mile 57. 

Mile 57 - LUNCH

Hadn't I been eating lunch all day??  I couldn't bear to eat lunch but I did stop for half a grape soda and to stretch my legs.    (At the end of the ride - mile 100- the ladies at the dinner counter saw that I hadn't used my lunch ticket so they gave me my sandwich to go.  That came in handy back at the hotel when I became famished suddenly!) 

My leg muscles were shouting at this point and exhaustion was setting in.  I was starting to get that "out of it" feeling. 

Lunch at mile 57.55

Lunch at mile 57.

My bike taking a break with a grape soda.

From mile 50 to mile 100 I was pretty much on my own on the road, though I did run into a few people here and there.  The field had started with 693 riders, with roughly 250 doing the full 100 miles.  From mile 57 on, we were scattered all over the course.  One of the last places I saw people before mile 75 was on some tricky descents that I quickly surmised I was not experienced enough to execute properly, so I begrudgingly rode on my brakes down these glorious passes while the few people that were still nearby soared past me.  It looked like so much fun, but I didn't dare try taking these hairpin turns without understanding the mechanics of it all. I can't wait to master descending so I can come back and do these descents the right way.

After that, aside from the stop at mile 75, I rarely saw anyone else all the way to the finish line, and nary a car passed by.  Fifty miles by yourself on a bike is a lot of thinking time.  I am usually good company for myself, but growing weary in the desert heat, I went a little bonkers in a few spots.

They had told us that usually there is a nice tail wind all the way back to mile 100, but this year, it was not to be.  We had headwinds beating us about the whole way home.

I yelled out loud and punched the air a few times.  "You're not going to get ME, desert and wind!  F*** ME?  F*** YOU!"

Because that's how I roll.

Giving mother nature the finger is probably ignorant.  But you have to humor yourself sometimes, you know, especially when you are trying to survive.

Desert hallucinations are funny.  I thought I saw some people waving at me, but it was just a cactus.   

I started thinking of Jure Robic, five time winner of the Race Across America, who crossed the entire United States on a bicycle in about 8 days, traveling more than 350 miles per day and sleeping a mere 8 hours the whole ride.  He tragically died on September 24, 2010, in his native Slovenia, while training.  September 25th, 2010 is the day I bought my mountain bike and started this journey of my own.  I consider that day to be the real beginning of my life.  At the time, I had never heard of the Race Across America, or of Jure Robic.  I just missed the freedom of my childhood bike rides, and I wanted to ride again.  I needed to ride again or I was going to die.  That's how I felt. 

I only learned about Jure after watching the film, "Bicycle Dreams".  He was so impressive, I wanted to know more.  When I Googled him, I saw that he had recently died.  That upset me greatly for several days.  Jure seemed to pull strength from deep within him.  He probably had depths we will never know.  He seemed to be proving something to himself over and over again.  I'm not sure what it was, or what the need was, but he just seemed to have to do this. 

As I was feeling sorry for myself out there on the last half of this century ride, I wondered, what would Jure do?  I laughed:  there's aerobic, anaerobic, and Jure Robic.  If my heart rate monitor says I am in the Jure Robic zone, then I am really kicking ass!  I started digging for inspiration to get me through it.  I talked to myself out loud as the lonely miles passed by.  I don't think I want to share the things I said.  Those thoughts are between me and the wind, and the cacti, and the sun.  What kind of stuff am I made of?  I guess time and more rides will tell, but I know more about my "stuff" now than I did before this ride.

MILE 75.  I am hurting.  It is taking everything I've got to make it that last 25 miles.
Not smiling very big at mile 75.

The recumbent guy at mile 75.

The desert sun at 2:45 p.m. at mile 75.

The desert landscape at mile 75.

I made up a rule at mile 75.  Every three miles, take a big drink of water and some electrolytes.  That gave me something to look forward to and it broke up the ride into more manageable chunks.  Mile 78.  Chug some water and some electrolyte drink.  Mile 81.  Chug some water and some electrolyte drink.  Mile 84.  Chug some water and some electrolyte drink.  Mile 87.  Oh sh*t, here comes that Sweeney Pass.  Chug some water and some electrolyte drink.

Sweeney Pass.  I kept singing to myself, "put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking out the door; put one foot in front of the other...."  It helped.  I had caught up to some guys that I had met at mile 50.  I hope they didn't hear my singing.  It helped me get over Sweeney Pass without having to stop and walk my bike.  (I didn't have to walk any of the climbs.)

Sweeney Pass - the climb back over it and on to the finish line.

MILE 97 had a patch of road that couldn't be ridden!  They warned us about this and advised we try to ride on the white line.  I wish I had taken a picture of that road.  This is the only time I had to get off my bike and walk for a bit, and it was flat!  I was pissed!  So close to the end and there is this rough road with grooves in it for about a mile.  Mountain bike tires could have ridden this, but the skinny road tires could have easily gotten stuck in the grooves in the road. 

I contemplated my options as I walked my bike.  Do I ride on the left side of the road which was perfectly smooth?  There were no cars out there and as far as I could see, I was the only bike out there.  I quickly dismissed that option.  If it had been early in the day when I was fresh, I may have done that.  But I knew that in my condition that it could have been a fatal decision since I was not thinking clearly, was exhausted, and would probably not be able to react quickly if I had to move out of the way.

I fumed for a little bit.  I don't know how far I walked my bike but I finally decided to try to ride on the white line (though it was rough too!) and I slowly (bumpity bump)  made my way to mile 98.  This patch really slowed me down.  I had been riding 17 - 24 miles per hour up until then. 

MILE 98 - almost home!  I scanned the road in front of me and I saw a pot hole in the road ahead.  Before I swerved to the left to go around it, I took a look over my left shoulder to make sure no was coming (even though I had been all alone out there for some time).  I didn't think anyone would be there but I know enough to look before I move over - you never know.  Wouldn't you know it, just as I looked to my left, some jerk in skater dude shorts appeared out of nowhere and swooshed past me on my left (about an inch away from me) and didn't say "on your left" or anything at all to let me know he was coming.  I shrieked!  This guy nearly took me out!  At mile 98!  Then he looks back and goes, "hey great job, all riiiight!"  I glare at him.  Oh but it's not over.  He then proceeds to zig zag all over the road in front of me in some kind of celebratory, "I'm almost there" dance.  WHAT A D**K.  I am exhausted.  I have come a long way.  I am in pain, and seriously hurting in every way.  I am tired and seeing things.  I am in no mood for levity.  All I am trying to do is hold a straight line and get to the finish while this jerkoff is doing the Macarena down the road in front of me.  "You almost took me out at mile friggin 98!  Ride in a straight line, a**hole!"

MILE 100.  I crossed the finish line. They gave me a medal and my bag of gear that I had dropped at the first stop, and a photographer took my picture.  I was so out of it I forgot to have someone take my picture with my own camera, but I did snap one of my odometer and one of the lady at the finish line.

Me at the finish line! 

As I was approaching the finish line, about 50 feet before it,  I could see Macarena Man packing up his bike.  He waved at me as I passed him and all I could do not to shout "YOU D**K" was to just keep my hands on the handle bars and my eyes on the road.  I did not want to let him take me out at 50 feet from the finish line.  He probably thought I was really rude.

Upon further reflection, I later realized I should not begrudge Macarena Man his happiness.   He was young enough not to be able to envision the things that could have gone wrong for him in those last 2 miles (much less the entire ride).  I am sure there was a time in my life when I couldn't see the parade of horribles either.  I am reminded of that line by Bob Seger, from, appropriately "Against the Wind".  He said, sometimes "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then...."   Although I can appreciate that sentiment, on the other hand, knowing what CAN happen is what will keep you safe out there when you come across someone like Macarena Man who isn't playing by the rules.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to do this ride.  It was challenging, and the scenery was magnificent.  I didn't have any injuries or mechanical failures, and I finished the course and was not last!  It was a pretty perfect day.


100.37 miles! DONE!

4:48 p.m.

The end of the ride. Sun is going down. I just rolled in.

Back at Mission Valley Resort.

Proof I did it!!

Calorie counter/timer says 12:06:06 hours because I forgot to turn it off at the end of the ride, and only remembered when I got back to the hotel, which was about 2 hours later.  So deduct a couple hundred calories.

5,745 calories burned.

Do I look 2 pounds skinner?

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