Saturday, October 25, 2008

Time Off The Bike

This was my second Saturday in a row to miss riding with my group. Last weekend I spent the day with Cindi because it was her birthday and today I spent the day with my church group as we helped a young widow with 4 children. At the end of the day I feel just about as wiped out as I would have riding with the gang, but it was well worth the opportunity to stop and help someone in need once in a while. Really it was a blessing for us to help as we were able to witness how hard it is for this mother of 4 and one with down syndrome. My part in helping today was clearing thick brush and thorny weeds and I did get to handle some bikes so there was something bike related. As I cut through the thick brush with my weed trimmer equipped with steel blades I found at least 4 old cheap department store bikes rusted and forgotten. There were at least 5 more bikes stacked against the trailer with rusted chains and nearly flat tires. One of my friends yelled at me and asked if I found a Surly single speed mountain bike in there. I yelled back and told him I was really hoping to find a nice carbon Look frame in new condition.

Sometimes we think we have it tough, but helping this family today was a reminder there are plenty of people with greater struggles in life. Many of us spend our day cycling in the tranquility of the country side and there are those who struggle every minute of every day. Why not stop to help once in a while?

I am pretty much wiped out, but I hope to get out for a short 2 hour training ride tomorrow and try to keep a little fitness as we have a tough ride lined up for next weekend. Well at least tough for me since it involves 6,000 feet of climbing and I will be dragging my butt up those hills maybe for the last time in 2008.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New PowerTap Wheel Build

Like many I never really considered a set of custom built wheels simply because I imagined the price was out of my range, but after using my first set of hand built wheels I realized that they are well within the price range of a set of popular boutique (brand name) wheels. Not only are they within the price range, but there are other things to consider about hand built wheels. A good builder will often ask how you ride, how much you weigh and other questions that may lead to a particular set of build components and lacing patterns based on the answers to those questions. They are often times just as light even with a higher spoke count than many of the highly marketed mass produced wheelsets. Some of the new brand name wheels that have some unique looking lacing pattern, ultra low weight and/or low spoke count may prove to be a real pain if a spoke breaks miles away from home or the car as I have witnessed numerous times with Ksyrium SL wheels.

Be aware that the builder may need to order the components and will go through a process to build the wheel. It may take two weeks or longer to complete a set, but when you receive that set my bet is you will really appreciate the solid build and ride compared to many high brand name wheels. Often times the components for a custom wheel build are overall a much better quality and will prove to be more dependable and last longer than a higher priced set of brand name wheels. In my opinion ordering from a good wheel builder is well worth the wait.

The new rear wheel that I purchased from Johnson Wheelworks was built using Kinlin XR-300 Niobium Rim (32 hole count), Sapim CX-Ray spokes, Powertap SL hub and Veloplugs instead of rim tape.

I ordered a matching front wheel from Johnson Wheelworks that will arrive in a few weeks with the same setup, but the hub will be a White Industries H2 hub.

Kent Johnson
Johnson Wheelworks (coming soon!)
113 Ofria Drive
Folsom, CA 95630

Data from the first L3/SST training ride with the new wheel.
Everything seems to be working great.

I will post pictures once I have the wheels mounted on the bike.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Carole's Birthday & Sunflower Ride

I wonder how the ride was named?

I wonder who named the ride?

Who is really in charge of this adventure?
Shout out to Jamie and Diane!!

View Interactive Map on

All photos were contributed by Quellet Cycling

Friday, October 10, 2008


After writing the first blog entry for the 6 Gap Century accident I’m still thinking about Daniella Izquierdo perhaps because I spent a lot of time reflecting on my accident September 9, 2007 and how I believe the Lord gave me solace in the time of distress and discouragement.

I set out that morning with complete confidence and perhaps a little too much to be honest to face Burnt Mountain. After the 10 mile climb up to the top of the mountain our group normally regroups and to make sure everyone is okay and so that we will not get too far ahead of each other. This day I pushed the envelope a little more racing a couple of friends and I had just passed one friend as I approached a turn at 43 miles per hour. I was thinking ahead as I was setting up to take a certain line around the curve. I thought I had the right line of approach, but at the speed that I was going there is only so much a bike with highly inflated 23 mm tires is able to turn. The surface of a tire touching the roadway is small and only fractions of an inch of rubber are actually guiding that bike and rider around the turn. If you commit to the wrong line at too great a speed there is little you can do about it and that was my case. Using your brakes this late can be just as catastrophic. If one is going to feather their brakes it is to slow the bike down before getting to the curve and not use the brakes in the curve. All of the thinking and commitment for making the right decision comes before the turn. As I came around the turn the road switched back the other direction rather than being a sweeping turn that I had thought. My bike was committed to a straight line and the only choice I had to keep from hitting a tree at 40 mph was to lock up my brakes and intentionally throw myself. The result was going head over the bars. First, the back of my helmet hit the pavement, which was good in one perspective because it was at the thickest part of the helmet. Then the back of my left shoulder hit ripping out a chunk skin and separating my shoulder. From that point forward the pavement ground off skin from my backside, arms and hands. The bike was mostly in tact, but the rear wheel was badly damaged. My cycling clothes were ripped apart and my helmet was split.

Shaken up pretty bad my adrenaline masked most of the pain while my friends tried to fix the bike enough that I could get back to the top of the mountain and wait for one of them to pick me up. As they left me to go back for the car, I struggled back to the top of the summit with the back of my shorts torn out and my bleeding rump exposed to the traffic. The pain was starting to set in, but here is the crux of this message. I started feeling extreme guilt and discouragement. My mind was racing on one side thinking about what went wrong and then there was the guilt of being so reckless with the body God has given me to use in this life. As I sat on the side of the road I started praying and asking God to forgive me for being so stupid. There was so much going on in my mind at that moment it just made the whole situation worse, but in the midst of all this and praying I felt a peace and comfort as if God was there with me. I felt this in my inner heart of perhaps the Lord pressing on me relief from the guilt. Yes it was a mistake, but we make mistakes in life. God is not surprised by these choices nor is He surprised if the mistake takes us into eternity. The peace that came over me at that moment gave me the feeling that He was sitting there with me on the side of the road until Edgar showed up. The physical pain was starting to become more prevalent, but the spiritual and mental pressure was relieved by what I felt that God was with me providing me with solace. To me the Lord is my peace that passes all understanding. He is the solace in any situation when we ask Him to be with us. He is the one who gives us faith to continue on facing the challenges on the road ahead.

Despite the severity of my crash I believe God also gave me a peace about continuing to cycle. Hearing about Daniella or anyone that has such a severe cycling injury does impact me greatly because I experienced such a severe accident myself. My friends and family that don’t participate in cycling did not and still do not always comprehend making such choices, but most have come to accept that it is a pleasure for me that they would not want to take away.

It must have been a great pleasure for Daniella to be a cyclist. It is for many of us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2008 Raisin Hope Foundation Ride

2008 DATA

2007 DATA

View Interactive Map on
MotionBased Ride Data

This was my 2nd year to participate in the Raisin Hope Foundation ride supporting brain injuries and we need these events (see the previous blog regarding the 6 Gap Crash) and it was good to see Saul Raisin putting on the fund raiser/cycling event for the 2nd year.

With gas prices, gas availability in Georgia and a summer of long hard rides it was perhaps less motivating for many to attend this year. I'm not sure why most my friends did not come, but I knew Gary was going and I was happy to ride with him up to the event to keep him company, support the event with my entry fee and to participate to see if I have improved since last year. The 1st year event was my first time doing any substantial climb and it was a struggle for me. So I thought it would be a good to see a comparison. However, it is a controlled event so for the first number of miles today we were all holding in a mass group being led out by patrol cars, Saul Raisin and 3 other pro cyclists. That did hold back my performance test, but this is a charity event and not a race or a time to set personal bests so I was content to sit back until the climb started.

As we started the 8+ mile climb Gary, Derek, Dick and me were starting to split apart as each of us went into our own climbing pace. I think I was the last up as usual, but compared to last year I could definitely perceive an improved difference compared to last year. I know I could have went even harder, but I figured it is a charity event so I didn't want to look like an idiot trying to establish new personal records.

Descending the mountain was fun, but I was again being cautious and was thinking about Daniella on the way down. I pray God be with her. I did not hit the downhill speed that I did last year at this event due to being a bit more apprehensive, but still with the switchbacks my downhill skills are starting to come back to me. Once we were down to the base me and the guys regrouped and settled into a steady pace line holding around 20 mph. We were trading off on the pulls when I hear a strange voice coming up fast on my left saying, "I'll pull for a while." I don't know who this guy was dressed in his Team Cycleworks/HDR kit and Pinararello bike, but he was strong as he passed me quickly. I had to sprint to catch him, but once on his wheel I settled into a mid to high 20's pace. He looked back and said that we dropped the group. So we eased up a bit and when they caught us he took off again. I stayed with him every time he pushed the pace and each time we were getting out ahead of mine and his group. Finally we eased off again until we caught another larger group with some that also were wearing HDR kits. I hear this guy say we are in a good spot to set a pace so I take off from the near the back of this new group thinking he and my guys were coming with me, but as I look back I am a half a mile ahead of a whole group not chasing me or wanting to come out on this pace. I ease up and go all the way back to my guys and sit in the back of my group with contentment.

At 62 miles we see a sag stop, but I am bewildered since the ride is only supposed to be 62 miles and I was out of water. I had to make a stop just to be safe and I asked one of the volunteers. He says that we probably missed a turn and that we have another 5 miles to go with a couple of substantial climbs. That really messed with my head. I think my body was ready to shut it down at 62 miles since that is what I expected and now I need to get my mind right to finish. Sure enough it was a mental struggle reluctantly facing two more good climbs before getting back on to the final stretch. Thankfully Gary dropped back with me at the sag stop so it was pleasant to have him just in front of me as I was dealing with my mental attitude.

All in all it was a good ride with Gary, Derek and Dick.
More importantly I hope the ride was a successful fund raiser. I wished more people had attended, but it was good day with friends.

Friday, October 3, 2008

6 Gap Century - Accident

October 6th Update

From Everglades Bicycle Club

For the last several days I have seen a lot of action on my blog with people from around the nation searching for Daniella Izquierdo. Perhaps to get an update about her condition. Perhaps many like me were praying for her diligently throughout the day for the last several days, but as it goes the Lord had different plans for Daniella today.

As I descended down Fort Mountain on Saturday the thought of Daniella (a complete stranger to me, but a fellow cyclist) was going through my mind as I confronted each turn in the fast descent. As the folks on the Everglades Bicycle blog pointed out Daniella confronted the opportunity and the challenge of 6 gap not settling for the 3 gap version. As cyclists we know the dangers (I even anticipate the possibility by wearing a RoadID braclet) and many of us have been very fortunate to have walked away from some of the worst accidents and yet we mount that bike and confront the next one again because we choose not to hide away in the house for self preservation. We get out there in life and face the challenges. That is just what Daniella did.

What is this life if we don't live it and how can we live it if we fear everything in front of us.

My thoughts and prayers for her family and friends


October 3rd
Each year people from around the nation participate in what is probably the toughest organized ride in Georgia, which is the Six Gap Century. It is no doubt a pinnacle of achievement to many and one that I have yet to attempt full out. I have done portions of the north Georgia gaps with friends, but not on this organized ride. My last ride was the following blog entry as I described my apprehension of descending on some of the gaps and descending Hog Pen was something I couldn't wait to get done because of my crash last year coming off of Burnt Mountain, which was a 40 mile per hour crash and I was extremely fortunate that I did not have a brain injury. It did split my Bell helmet in half, separated my shoulder and did extensive road rash, but I was very blessed indeed to have walked (limped) away from it.

Each time one of these type of events occurs regardless of whether we are involved or not it seems like we hope to hear that no one has any catastrophic accidents. This year we were not fortunate to hear that all went well. I heard from a good friend that participated in the event that he personally witnessed several accidents, but told me of one very severe accident. The following blog entry from Everglades Bicycle Club may be information regarding the individual. I hope to keep Daniella Izquierdo in my prayers that the Lord will watch over her as I have heard the crash and resulting injuries were very severe.

Tomorrow Gary, me and many other cyclists will be riding in the 2nd Annual Raisin Hope Foundation ride, which involves climbing and descending Fort Mountain. Last year, like many others I let it all loose as if I were racing downhill to win a big financial prize at the bottom and it seems that many others were racing as well. That was before my crash humbled me a bit. With me being a recreational level rider and my wife depending on being a team member for financial income to our household it makes sense for me to be a bit more careful descending tomorrow. My last crash cost me financially and physically with permanent scars and separated shoulder. It could have been much worse and I feel very blessed that it was not. If you are fortunate after the first severe crash it is good to reflect on these things and with road rash healing at a slow pace it is a constant reminder for weeks to keep reflecting on the risks and put things in perspective. The Raisin Hope Foundation ride is all about raising money for those with brain injuries just as former professional cyclist Saul Raisin is determined to accomplish through this event, but let's hope that tomorrow everyone participating will be safe tomorrow as they descend Ft. Mountain and keep things in perspective. Hearing about the Six Gap crash has definately made me reflect on this for the last couple of days.