Monday, November 5, 2007

How you climbers do it, I'll never know....

So I took a short ride yesterday. A nice relaxing Sunday afternoon ride. I wanted to attempt "the 520 hill".

I decided to ride down into Redmond to the bike shop I've started using Gerk's Alpine Hut. I broke my rear fender last week and wanted to see if they had the type of fender I wanted to replace it with.

Ever since I moved here, I've been hearing people talk about "the 520 hill" and since I had worked on my "hill legs" I wanted to give it a go and see if I could make it without stopping. Well, when I got to the top of it heading down on the way to Gerk's, it didn't look too bad. I made it down to intersection and thought "this wasn't hard...I could sure come back up this".

Then I realize, this wasn't the bottom....not the road (Leary way) into Redmond. So I cross and keep going, and going, and going, and going. I realize that its a pretty LONG hill. Probably at least a mile or more. The grade wasn't too bad until you get to the bottom section (last 1000 feet or so).

I thought...OK, this will be a challenge coming back up. So, I hit it....that first steep part just kills you. I barely made it to the end of that steep part before having to stop. After resting (and walking) for a little bit, I started back up again, but realized I didn't let myself rest fully. I could tell right away, I was going to have to stop again soon. I made it about another 1/4 mile. Stopped and rested again. This time I rested a little longer and was past all the steep part. I was finally able to make it up the rest of the hill in one shot.

I mapped it when I got back and it shows about 450 feet of elevation for my entire ride back (probably 350 of that was the 520 hill). All in all it was only about a 10 mile ride, but that hill was a bear.

My question for your climbers who do 5000 ft. climbs and such. How in the world do you do that? It seems like it will take me YEARS to be able to get to that point.

Ok...I'm done whining. Please return to you regularly scheduled programs.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bike is back!! bike is done. They got the wheels put on. Apparently it took a "little" more work that expected because the wheels that were labeled for "touring or tandem" bikes had a hub length that was long (for a tandem) and required work to fit them on the touring bike. Whatever....I got my bike back! :)

Anybody who remembers getting glasses for the first time will identify with the odd feeling of not realizing their eyesight had declined enough for glasses. It happens so subtly that its not noticed and it slowly deteriorates. That's how it was with my brakes (which is what I originally went in for). They had deteriorated so slowly, that I didn't realize that they were "thaaaaat" bad. But now that I have new pads, new wheels and a proper adjustment, it was like WOW.....I'm supposed to have THAT MUCH stopping power????? AWESOME!!!

Yes...the new wheels are great....the bike felt like a new ride. I'm anxious to start putting miles on it again! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where I am...and why.

OK...this is a LONG story, but I'll keep it to a short version. I know you don't want to read a blog of somebody you know little or not at all.

I live in Washington -- Seattle area. I moved here almost 6 months ago from Florida (Tampabay area).

I realized back in 2002 that I really hated living in Florida. I'd lived in Florida all of my conscious life (moved there when I was 1), and by the time I was a teen I'd realized it really wasn't for me. Not the right atmosphere (more "Southern" than people from elsewhere think it is), and definitely TOO HOT.

Well, years pass and I forget about my desire to leave Florida. Then in late 2002, shortly after a breakup with a girl I had been dating for about 6 months, I started rethinking my life and why I wasn't happy. Suddenly I remembered how I said (waaay back when I was a teen) how I always wanted to get out of Florida. So I started researching other areas of the country to see what appealed to me. I bought a big laminated map of the U.S. and marked about 10 places that had caught my interest (with the online searching I'd been doing).

Every "factor" I looked in to (in terms of qualities of an area), it seemed that Seattle was always in about the top 3 or 4. If I had scored them, it surely would have had the highest score. So I decided to take a vacation here and check it out for myself. I was purposefully VERY SKEPTICAL when I came here. I wanted to see the 'worst' of the place to see if I would be OK with it.

So, knowing Seattle is notorious for rain, I purposely came in the rainy, cold season. I expected it to be a cool and interesting city, but I had no idea what beautiful sights and scenery that awaited me in the Pacific North West (PNW). It was something I didn't realize before coming. I'd never heard how beautiful the 'country' was in the PNW. I really did come here with a very purposeful skeptical point of view, but in spite of that, I instantly fell in love with the area. I knew right away this was the place for me...I didn't have to look at any other places.

I started planning to move out here. I was almost done with my Master's degree at the time, and planned to move as soon as I completed the Master's degree. I thought my field would allow me to find a job that would relocate me in no time flat and it was almost a done deal already.

Boooooy was I mistaken. The industry had taken a big downturn (mostly due to software work going overseas so much), and NOBODY was paying relocations. I didn't want to pay for it myself, so I insisted I wasn't going to go until somebody offered relocation. Well months turned into years and my job searching out here was still going, but had slowed down quite a bit.

Then in November of 2006, I met a new girl, Hope, that I started dating. We got very close and were getting along quite well. In early 2007 I had applied at a software company in Tampa that her brother-in-law worked for as well as a position with the company I already worked for in the Redmond office. I had decided that if I got the job with Hope's brother-in-law, I would forget about Seattle for a few years and concentrate on that job.

However, I did not get the job with Hope's brother-in-law's company and apparently the interview I had done over the phone with my company's Redmond office had gone really well. Without a second interview, they gave me an offer after the interview. The offer was fair and it offered a decent relocation package. it was a weird situation. I was quite happy with Hope and we were starting to make longer term plans, but suddenly I got the offer to make it up to Seattle. What I had been hoping for for 5 YEARS. How could I pass up that offer?

Short version of the story is that I couldn't pass up the offer. Hope and I have worked out a long distance relationship because she can't move here right now as she is going back to school to change careers. She is in the middle of a program and would have to wait a year or more at least to even get started in a similar program out here.

So....we are doing this long distance until next Septemberish when she should finish school and be able to move out here with me. So here I am Hopeless in least until next year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bike Woes

First of all, I guess I should give some background as to bike woes that have led up to this point. Ever since I moved out here to the Seattle area (I should blog this story too...soon maybe) my biking immediately took a nice upswing and was going quite well. Then suddenly, like a shot out of the dark, it all took a downward spiral.

I had been steadily increasing my mileage on the weekend rides, increasing hills and had been commuting to work. I had bought a Brooks b-17 saddle which was starting to give me numbness issues I hadn't had before.

Then, I had it in mind to change the bike to a pair of trekking/touring handlebars. I did this with the help of my bike partner/friend out here, Jason. We changed the handlebars which also required changing the shifters.

I only did about 2 or 3 commute to work rides (3.5 miles each way) and was then off on vacation back to Florida to be with my girlfriend for a week and see my family. My upper back started hurting a bit by the end of the week and it didn't really dawn on me until I was in Florida that my back was KILLING me.

I went to a doctor there and got some muscle relaxers and pain meds. When I came back I saw my main doctor and ended up in Physical Therapy to deal with it. The bottom line, discovered from physical therapy, is that it more likely came from bad ergonomics at work.

Anyway....I "thought" at first it was something to do with the new handlebars, so I decided to seek out a fit expert. I found that there was a true fit expert in the area who had worked with professional cyclists before. He was also a physical therapist, so I was even able to see him on insurance's nickel.

From his review, it seemed that I did not have enough space between me and the handlebars (bike is likely one size too small). So on his recommendation, I got a stem riser to raise the handlebars higher, a longer stem (140mm adjustable), a seat post with more setback and knee savers (pedal extenders).

OK...the reason I went through this whole story is to show that in the past 6 weeks or so, I've put a LOT of time/money and parts onto this bicycle. I should be DONE, right?

Well, it took me about a month to get rid of enough back pain and get the bike back together with the changes that I could ride. But when I did (about a week or two ago), I started commuting to work again. I didn't think I was ready for long weekend rides again yet, but I thought the commute would be ok.

I noticed after a week or two of commuting that my brakes were not working well. I tried to adjust them, but was struggling to get it tight enough to really work well. A few rides almost became dangerous with brakes not working well. I finally found out that the brake pads were shot. Well, I was long overdue for a tuneup anyway, so I decided to let the bike shop put on new pads while giving the bike a tuneup.

As soon as I handed the bike over to the mechanic at the shop, he put it on the rack and ran a cloth over the rear wheel rim to clean the commute grime off it and examine it. He found the rear wheel was cracked (IN SEVEN PLACES). I never noticed it because it was hidden under all the grime. Now, I need a new rear wheel as well.

I'll skip the long story of going back and forth with the bike shop guy over replacing with an identical wheel from Trek or getting a stronger wheel. Suffice it to say, in the end, it seemed as good or better of a deal to replace it with a better wheel. He said I should get the wheel I want (usually just rim and let him build up the wheel) and bring it in to him.

So I searched out what wheel I wanted (Mavic T520 - rated for HEAVY DUTY touring) and scoured the internet. I actually found a pretty good deal getting a set of them (already built) form a bike shop in Colorado. So now...after all these parts I've bought and added recently, let's tack another $300 on for a set of nice heavy duty touring wheels with Shimano XT HF08 hubs .

Here come the Mavic T520 heavy duty touring/tandem 700c wheels with 40 spokes each. :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

KT Blogs

Well...what do you know. I did....I did start a blog. What will this blog be used for? I don' t fully know yet.

I'd like to blog about cycling and weight loss to help motivate myself. Maybe tell my life story because I'm the most interesting human being alive. Maybe give some opinions on stuff because I'm always right. You know......the normal kind of stuff.

Here's to KT the Blogger!!