Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Photo Isn't Done

They say you should only show your best work. But, I want to memorialize my progress. So some ugly must be kept.

When I learned to develop and print film on paper it was surprising to me just how much work was done to images in the dark room. Creating the photograph isn't complete until the print is made.

After switching to digital I wasn't prepared for the same process. Digital is infinitely more controllable. Simply being able to select White Balance is a huge advantage. It's like carrying a wide selection of balanced films. But instead of carefully winding up a partially finished roll and inserting another (praying you remember how many frames had been shot)... we simply press a button. We can change ISO the same way. It seemed digital promised much more control lattitude to get things right in the camera.

And it does. But... as always... there is improvement to be had in Post Production. I was not prepared for this. I've spent the last several weeks sponging tutorials, techniques, and testing methods. It's paid off, I think. I'm far from an expert. But I think the improvement in the following photos show what's possible.

Below are the final images. If you put your mouse over the photo you see the Out of Camera version. Click on it to take you to Flickr and get the full sized photo...

This one is interesting. I didn't have a speedlight available for filling in the shadows. But with some careful dodging I was able to approximate the effect, salvaging the photo. I'd rather get this right In Camera, but desperate times...

This is probably my favorite photo of the event...

Photo 16...

Photo 20...

Photo 24...

Photo 25...

Photo 30...

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Supposed to be Tiring

The beginning of a season is all about restarting the engine. Training is like a drug. Consistant dosage turns into tolerance. Only tolerance and resulting dosage increase is a good thing. Overdose is bad of course. I've done nothing special for recovery. No massage, no foam rolling, no Biofreeze. I'm accumulating enough fatigue that it's time to start paying attention to recovery.

Not recovering adequately makes for tired legs. My hamstrings are tight. My glutes sore. The ride mission today... go easy. Just enough to recover. Stay in Zone 1. At first I'm struggling to keep the cadence above 70. Tight hamstrings has the form... bad. It takes a good 30-minutes before things get better.


Things get a lot better. The legs loosen up. The glutes stop burning. The form gets better. The cadence comes up. I keep the power low. This is just an easy reocvery ride. Nice and easy. But still fun.

16/355 - Happy.

And I'm getting due for an easy week. I think I've got one more week left in me if I'm careful.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Another day of mild temperatures and clear weather. Ideal for a run around Walnut Creek.

14/366 - Perfect day.

Ever get the feeling you're being watched on the trails? Perhaps you are...


I saw a fox a few minutes after this. Maybe this doe was being watched, too. We've had some recent rain. This... is a site unseen at WCP in quite some time... I'm not sure I've ever seen a wet spot out there?


Not long after this I run into two young kids. Me: "Having fun?" Kid 1: "Yeah, I just rode through the creek and got all wet, it was awesome!" After hearing this there was only one thing to do... head for the creek. Was it awesome as advised? YES!


Now that me and the wife are comingling goods; I need to be a bit more careful about just grabbing stuff...


For the record, I'm neither sweet nor twisted.

Two hours, forty minutes melt in a flash. All easy paced, but fun working to perfect my trailcraft. January is turning into a dandy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


My rides are growing more meditative. Therapy from a tough couple of days. With a setting like this...


... one cannot help but feel better. The only problem are the bugs. With warm temperature, no winds the gnats are out in swarms. So thick I can't take my sunglasses off. I set the headlight to jogger-retina-burning setting. Can't breathe through the mouth either. Since the training goal is steady aerobic enduance, breathing through the nose works just fine! I still eat a bunch of bugs.

This rhoadie work is expected this time of year. But the call of the dirt is strong.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Perfection

A perfect 74°F day today. Some broken clouds above. But nothing to keep one off the bike...


Up the road until well after dark. The work isn't intense, but it is steady. A carefully chosen route and laps at a newly de-tree'd Froot Loop help keep the pedals turning with minimal interruption.

5/366 Light Tunnel

Do I look happy?


Oh Yeah!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Month is This?

Out the door and on the bike immediately after work. I was undressing as I walked in the door. Fantastic weather. Mild temperatures. Mild wind. For January ...I cannot complain about a thing. And things look good through Monday. Two hours of endurance riding, leaving the body and spirits feeling good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cooking in the Kitchen

Albino training on the aluminum road to nowhere

A rare site. Me on a trainer. I hate cycling in doors. Rollers are better than a trainer. Usually. But I'm trying to take a more meditative approach to riding the aluminum road to nowhere. Tonight I just wanted to be mindless on the saddle. Mindless and rollers equals a launch across the room. So the stationary trainer is the weapon of choice tonight. Ninety minutes of L2/3 steady state training. Two 5'minute alternating high-cadence spins (15"sec) intervals at random times during the session.

I get off the bike feeling better than whe I started. Mental state as well as physical state. More albino training tomorrow.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting 2012 Right.

Week 1 of the 2012 season went well. Time and CTL goals met. Even managed to lose a few pounds ahead of schedule. The riding conditions have been pretty darn good. New Year's Eve ride was absolute perfection as far as weather conditions went. My routing went a bit astray. Luckily my riding partner and wife Jane has cyclocross skills....


It's all aerobic base mileage at this point. Not hard riding, but deceptively important riding. Seems like every year I cut the base miles short and fall flat when I turn the intensity up. Have I learned my lesson? Let's just say I'm trying out a new cloak of patience in the saddle this year.

In fact, that's the meme for this year. It's a 'clean up' year. Every year I say "this year, I'm going to _________" ...but don't ...even though I know I should. This is the year to actually do those things and work on weaknesses in my conditioning. My typical _______'s include increasing flexibility, core strength conditioning, and ...base miles.

Will I do it? Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bootstrapping the Fitness

A steady endurance pace ride is the order for today. I do five minutes of alternating 15-second fast cadence spins, and 15-seconds of easy pedaling. Easy gear. It's just to get the muscle memory rebooted. It's surprising how these open up the body. Especially the hip joint and flexors.

The colors this year have been spectacular...


... not sure if it's due to the drought, or timing of the rain/cold? Or?

Looking at the data, it confirms my test data pretty close. Almost done with planning the first major training bloc. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Not Pass/Fail. Thankfully.

First performance test is in the bag. You know it really is a maximal effort when you rush to hover over the toilet after each battery; just in case.


I've done some not-so-nice things to my body over the last few months. The headlines... the body fat %-age is up. A lot. The functional power is down. A lot. The maximal burst power is down. A lot. I could go on. Quantifying regret isn't the purpose, however. Assessment and use in drawing the plan going into 2012 is the mission for the day.

Many unknowns for next year's racing efforts. I have no idea what races, or even what type I want to do. But today I got a dose of knowlege that specific efforts aren't going to matter for quite a while. I've got to rehab the basic fitness and get the weight down before specificity needs consideration.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Monday was to be test day. Body had different ideas. Stuffy nose and a fever put things on hold. Despite the fever, and even chill shivers I cooked some chicken soup...


... because healing doesn't come from a can.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Favorites of 2011

What a year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cannot Stay Away

Changing seasons. Four consecutive days of cold, drizzly, and windy weather hearld winter's arrival. This fall has been an exceptional time. Large changes to my personal life and my professional career. Chaos, stress, and fatigue perculated too deeply into life. Time on the bike has suffered.

My stubborn focus on cycling has been somewhat puzzling. I've failed to race much this year. Yet I continue to train for races unknown. The past weeks without structured training plans or goal have been tough to endure. I've tried to ride "just for fitness" but that hasn't fulfilled my desire for purposeful activity. Time arrived to make room for cycling once again.

I've come to realize that I ride because I have to. With a challanging career, I need the balance. I need the structure. I observe many seemingly dedicated workers devote long hours to their career not out of some sense of purpose or higher calling. They simply have no where else to go, and nothing else to do. It's an easy trap to fall into. I still bear scars from falling into that trap years ago.

Cycling keeps me safely from menial labors' ensaring jaws. Let's face it... few are lucky to have a soul fulfilling job. In my field taking one's job too seriously can only lead unhealthy levels of stress that border on self abuse. Training gives purpose. Something to do after work. A reason to leave on time. A reason to take care of my body; and my mind too. A reason to go outdoors and have fun! When work lays on the stress, or I'm stuck in a boring meeting... it is a invaluable asset.

An analysist might call it escapism. Probably. But cycling beats booze, drugs, and materialism many turn to. At it's worst, cycling makes me healthier. I prefer to call it self-maintenance.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

They Don't Call it Rebirth for Nothing

No better way to recharge the soul than a set of Rebirth ...


... followed by a couple of days on the trail. Fall colors are coming out. Looks like Thanksgiving out here!



Thankful today I've stuck with mountain biking. It hasn't always been easy. There have been falls. And spills. Leaning trail skills has been a constant focus. But the dividends pay often. There is a peacefulness, a playfulness, and a purity of cycling that comes only on a the trail.

Serentity inducing vignettes like this simply are not availible while dodging congested, aggressive, urban traffic in the twilight hours.

This day I rode until dark. Reminiscent of younger days when trying to stay out as long as possible, until your mom would start calling you back.


Rebirth... indeed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cycles of Life

It's that time of year. While the weather has turned favorable, the days are getting shorter and shorter with each passing day. These seasonable days are precious in our area. Soon it will be winter. Cold. Rainy. Dark. But for now... the dwindling days present great riding opportunity.

Today it's a race. A race to beat the sun before it sinks below the horizon. It has a head start. Here it is sinking over the Eureka Rail Yard.


I get to the trail just in time to ride without lights. Barely. The trail has started it's seasonal change as well. Recent rains have the trail tacky in spots. The moon dust has washed away. Lowering the trail. Lines that worked a week ago, don't now. As winter goes on the trail will erode and lower in spots. And fill in others. More changes ahead.

The trees are changing too. A lot of this going on...


Crews are clearing out the deadfall and deadstand in Mem Park. The drought has been devastating. Over 50% of the trees are dead, and slated for removal over the next few months.


The final season for many trees has come. Their cycle has ended. But the opened cover will allow sunlight to filter through and grow during the upcoming spring.

Cycle of life.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Twice Bitten.

I love my XTR Trail (M988) brakes. They are true one-finger brakes. Great power AND modulation. Now... Shimano's hoses... I have no use for. My original hoses leaked. I replaced them with stock Shimano hoses. They leaked too. Same failure mode, as well. I could warranty these through Shimano. But... Since I'd rather ride my bike, than work on my bike, I cut my losses and went a different direction this time.

The failure occurs right here.


The crimp between the banjo fitting and the hose. It isn't a huge catastrophic leak. More of a seep. But it contaminates the pads. Braking power goes away, and they squeal. Left long enough the lever will get low. I didn't let it go on that long this time.

Off with the Shimano hose.


And on with a Goodridge replacement hose. The Goodridge #107 kit is listed as compatible with the older version XTR brakes (M-966/965). Those brakes used two banjo fittings. The Goodridge catalog does not list any kit as compatible with the newer M-985/988 XTR Brakes. But, the kit includes both two banjos and a straght fitting, and it should fit.

The fittings are of excellent quality. I've used Goodridge hoses on race cars before, so that was expected.


These are neat. Miniature Aeroquip fittings! If you've ever built up Aeroquip hoses, installing the hoses is a cinch. If not... it's still a easy. Here is how it goes. Start by trimming back the outer casing, but not the braid.


Use a sharp blade. The casing is tough. Push the outer fitting on, and make sure the ends are clean, square, and fully inserted.


I threaded the male fitting into the master cylinder to hold it. You can do this in a vice, too. But remember, the fitting doesn't swivel, so you'll have to turn the fitting with the hose anyway. The threaded end simply goes into the hose side fitting into the center of the hose. Screw it on until the fitting flows onto the shoulder of the outer fitting, and snug it with a spanner.


Tada! A nice tight fitting.


Next route the hose. Cut it to length. And repeat with a banjo fitting on the caliper end. Now since the kit isn't specifically designed for M-985/988 XTR brakes, you have to re-use the stock thru-bolt in the banjo fitting. Works just fine. Don't forget the O-rings.


You can use an allen wrench or the like to clock the fitting in the correct orientation. Then snug the fittings.


Repeat for the rear brake. Bleed the air out (worst part of the job) and that's it.

Also keep in mind the Goodridge fittings are reusable if for some reason you need to replace hoses. They can be tightened if they leak, unlike the Shimano factory crimps. Leak free. But so were the Shimano at the start! If these also leak... it's me! Hope this helps, because leaky XTR hosese seems common.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Knee Warmers!


Just cold enough for long sleeves and leg warmers today. Felt great! Indeed fall is here. Days are getting shorter. The goal for the next couple of weeks is squeeze in as much riding as possible. Soon sadness and darkness of winter will be upon us. And albino training will begin. Ick.

For now... its spend as much time outside as possible having fun. It's the most important time of the year!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Twenty-ish pain free miles. I talked over my bum issue with my fitting 'consultant'. The puzzler has been that a saddle so comfortable on the road bike was unbareable on the MTB. She pointed out, that with the more upright position, I probably needed a wider saddle. Here's what the sit bones look like.

Ramus of the Ischium

As one can see, they clearly get wider as you move back. The more upright the pelvis the wider the contact point. And that would explain how I kept wanting to point the front of the saddle evermore upward. But that put me sliding off the back.

We tried this saddle, in 155mm width...


Drastic improvement. Not perfect. But I can tell the extra width is where it's at. Unfortunately this saddle creeks and rattles. Too chushy too. I can see this one chafing real bad on a longer ride. It'll go back to the shop to exchange for a wider version of my beloved Romin.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Almost done.

Tomorrow's ride isn't a given. But it should be do-able on some very tired legs. I did shuffle the rest day, though, to align the back-to-back rides over the weekend. I did some saddle experimentation on the Highball. To do it. I laid out a short lap route. This would allow me to dump the Highball if any pain developed and swap over to the rhoadie bike. The route...


... bring a variety of surfaces. It includes the Green, Purple, and Triangle trails as well as a healthy does of tarmac. This is a great training loop. With enough sample of each surface to get a lot of tempo work on the tarmac portions and some trail on the trail portions.


Saturday I tried adjusting the pitch of my existing saddle. By mile 20... I was in the same painful position. Swap bikes, and finish.

Sunday I put a redundant Toupe' on the Highball. The thought here was that the sway-back of the Romin may be causing some of the problem with the more upright mountain bike position. The Romin works fine on the rhoad bike. The flatter profile of the Toupe' would give me another data point.


The weather this weekend has been ideal. Recent rains have helped pack the trails, which are in better shape.


As I hit CallOut today, my front brake is screaming! Sounds like contaminated pads. When I get out of Purple trail powerline section and back on the sidewalk... I try a good test...

... uh-oh. A swipe with the finger and... Another brake line leak. That's it for me and Shimano hydraulic lines. Warrantied or not, I simply don't want to fool with another go-round.

As I finish the first lap, the bum is hurting pretty bad. Not quite as bad as before, but still it's rough. All is not lost though, as I have a better idea on what I need to look for in a replacement saddle.

So... a few lingering problems. But I've shocked the body with some good volume. After a day or two of recovery I'll be able to evaluate where my fitness is, and where I want to go with next year. Overall, I'd call the last week a success.