Really Amazon?

draft animals

Just wanted to point out that we live in a world where trees can be converted into paper, which is then printed and bound into a book, and that book can be sent in my house from across the country in only 2 days, and all that can be be done for a $1.40 less then amazon emailing an electronic copy to my kindle.  I think I’ll go with the paper copy.

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Enforced Civility on Zwift

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been recently I haven’t totally stopped riding.  I just haven’t had much passion for cycling since I finished riding a tour back in June.  I did have a good July, but in August I nosed dived and really didn’t ride much at all in Sept, and October.  I got back on the mountain bike some this fall, and enjoyed it to some extent, but I haven’t really wanted to ride with my mountain biking pals for various reasons.  The biggest one being time.  I just don’t want to spend 5 hours in the woods right now, my time is so limited as it is.


As for the blog, if I’m not riding, and not really thinking much about riding, then I don’t have any content for the blog.  So unless you want to hear about my opinions on gun control, the disaster of an incompetent president, or my musings on wheter I should buy L series lenses or a new body

I didn’t go to any of the Fall rides I usually go to, just not interested and I would have sucked anyway.  There were personal things going on that took up a great deal of my time as well, travelling to Evansville frequently for IVF treatments that ultimately didn’t work for us.  It put a damper on my spirits, but as the famous poster says, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Well its cold outside so I’m back on zwift and I did something new today.  GROUP WORKOUTS.  It was kind of like my cycling dream realized in some ways.  If you’ve ever tried keeping a big group ride together you know its a big chore.  It’s nearly impossible to keep everyone together.  The new Zwift group workouts somehow enforce civility, though I’m not sure exactly how.

So the one hour group workout led 116 riders through a series of intervals on mixed terrain.  I was usually in the middle of the group and sticking close to the assigned wattage and cadences.  I noticed if I put out more effort I would pass, naturally, though perhaps it seemed a bit like I was hooked to the rider in front of me.  I noticed on downhills where I usually start to OUTMASS the lighter riders I was drifting to the front but not drifting off the front like usual.

The real big change was on steep climbs, it felt like we were roped off and belying each other up the hill.  Zwift must have been manipulating riders weight and drafting numbers to keep everyone together, yet it seemed mostly subtle and didn’t make it feel like we were all attached except for on the steep climbs where it would be most noticeable.

I really enjoyed the group workout, since most group rides in Zwift, and the real world tend to splinter off the moment hills come into play.  For the first time in a few months I’m excited to ride again, even if its just in my computer room.

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My 80 Dollar Cervelo

I bought this frame on ebay for 40 dollars with 40 dollars for shipping.  It came with a Ultegra crank and 105 derailleurs.  I have a basement full of junk bike parts and had no problem piecing together a working bike when I got around to it.  Only part I had to buy was a seatpost for 10 bucks  from ebay.

Cervelo 1

The frame was broke when I got it and I fixed it with a carbon layup after sanding out the damaged area.  I’ve ridden it twice now with no ill effects.

The frame is a Cervelo R 2.5 which I think is considered the worst bike Cervelo ever made.  It apparently had a problem with coming unbonded.  It’s lugged carbon which is kind of cool since that’s rare these days.  The previous owner sanded all the paint off and wrote, Fresneck on the downtube, and Solid on the top tube. Which is kind of neat.  I’ve been just playing around painting it Dario Peggoretti style with nail polish.  Eventually want to build up several layers of color.

cervelo 2

Hard to judge the ride with the junk wheels on it now, but it’s not heavy even with them. Stiffer than the Tarmac I’m riding, but not by much and I think most of what I’m noticing comes from the seatpost.  Geometry seems a bit weird, its way longer then I’m used to, but I put a long stem on it and slammed it so that can be changed easily.  It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden 39/53 crank.  Don’t really miss them, though it was nice to actually use the little ring.  Speedplay pedals feel like riding on ice to me.

I’m not going to trust this bike for long rides, it’s really meant for the trainer, but its a sweet ride for 80 bucks.

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Great Trails, Great People, Great Ride

When it comes to mountain biking I’m not as hardcore as some of the oldschool OG riders like Drew and Joe, who ride the trails in any condition and any weather all year round.  I’m a fair weather rider, I much prefer the road in the summer so I don’t come home covered in ticks and poison ivy.  Plus I struggle with overheating when it’s humid.  September through December is my favorite time to get back on the trails.


I got an invite to ride with Moe and the guys this weekend, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it.  I have developed a cold and Saturday morning it was hitting me hard.  I felt like crap, but I drank a bunch of water, took some cold medicine and went for it, I’m glad I did.

We parked on Neighbors road and took the awesome new bench cut down into Hayes Creek Canyon.  These trails are often hammered from the massive amount of horse traffic in here.  When it’s wet huge sections are nigh unrideable, filled with deep horse hole bogs.  With the current dry weather we were blessed with some fast rolling super fun, flowy benchcut goodness.  We went west on the 31 (C3PO) all the way to Cedar Grove then rode some the excellent fast benchcut on that side, avoiding the Ruby.


We hung up our steeds at Crow Knob and took some photos, I may have showed a bit too much skin.  On the 001 heading towards Petticoat we encountered a couple young ladies on horseback, they calmly and pleasantly trotted their beasts right by us with no alarm.  In their group behind them two older men struggled with their animals and spent a few minutes coaxing them to walk past us.  They were all friendly and we shared the trails.


My last mountain bike, you may remember, ended with me in a near catatonic state, but on this ride I was feeling great, right up to the 3 hour 15 minute mark, then fatigue hit me and I struggled up the mile climb to the truck.  Good thing though it was nothing like last time, I was fine.

It turns out one of the best remedies for a cold is extreme exercise.  All of the symptoms went away during the ride.  Sadly they all came back on the drive home.

Thanks to Moe for sending me the pics.

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Anatomy of a Bonk

I’ve wrote about bonks before, when a cyclist’s energy reserves are gone and they find themselves having a conversation with their body.  The body says, sit down under that tree, and the cyclist says, nahh I got to keep going.  For me the conversation usually becomes a negotiation, “OK body, as soon as I get to that tree up there I’ll take a 30 second break, I promise.”

Today I met up with some folks for a mountain bike ride.  I did a similar ride last week, and felt awesome.  Last week I had unending stores of energy.  I could push myself seemingly without consequence.  Today was different.  I didn’t feel great from the start but  I didn’t feel bad either, and I was having no problem with the pace.  We were riding One Horse Gap benchcut trail and it was perfect, dry trails meaning no giant bike swallowing mud holes.  But these are still far from groomed trails, 7 mph here is a good average.

matt dead

At 7.5 miles, the halfway point, I realized I was really hot, but still feeling good.  It was about 12:30, I had been up since 5AM and had consumed about 600 calories for the day so I ate some cookies.  Earlier in the ride I had experimented with a protein bar, probably the worst thing I could eat on a super hot day.   With about a mile to go I was feeling kind of weak and just a bit dizzy.  I announced I was taking a short cut because I am a TRAIL MASTER.  Me and a pal turned left and the other 5 riders went right.  I rode right past the short cut trail and started climbing the dreaded SIX SISTERS, a series of stupidly steep gravel climbs.

After the third sister I realized I had missed the trail.  At this point I was getting delirious.  I was unable to climb anything and was walking, well nearly crawling.  Bonks can be brought on by lack of calories, lack of water, lack of electrolytes, or even excessive heat, I think this bonk was caused by all four, it was a SUPER BONK.   This is how it felt:

  • Thoughts become slow, like they are butterflies and you have to catch them with a net before they can get away
  • The smallest exertion will take your breath away.
  • Your consciousness recedes deeper into your head, as if you are looking through another person’s eyes.
  • In many cases my stomach feels as if it has tied itself into a knot, especially in a heat bonk.  Drinking water seems like a necessity but it is ejected from your gut the moment it gets there.
  • You feel an exaggerated sense of doom, you may only be a quarter mile from the end of the ride, but it might as well be a 100 miles, you begin to wonder if you can be airlifted out.

My buddy who was with me, being the good pal that he is left me to ride ahead and tell the others I was on my way.  I pushed my bike up the final hill with the vehicles in sight at an excruciatingly slow pace.  When I arrived I collapsed unable to even rack my bike.  A girl who weighs half of me picked my bike off the ground and lifted it on the rack.  I put my head in my hands and simultaneously thanked God for getting me safely back, and cursed God for the massive weakness and embarrassment of becoming a giant human pile of mush.

The weekend before had been 15 degrees cooler so that probably explains how I was able to ride much faster, I also took in many more calories and fluids last week.  Also last week the calories I took in were all pure sugar based.  I think the protein bar was a bad move. This bonk was easily preventable with better nutrition, like all bonks, and I’ve had a lot, yet I never learn.

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Eclipse 2017

Well it came and it went, a year’s of anticipation gone in about 2 minutes.  Shauna had to work and thanks to the great administration at Mt. Vernon High School I had the day off. It seemed like the planned festivals and activities in our area were not drawing the crowds that were expected, but from what I could gather through the web it seems like the Shawnee National Forest was bombarded.  Friday night I encountered many out of towners in Harrisburg looking for cold ice tea.  It was reported that popular Shawnee locations like Garden of the Gods and Jackson Falls were closed due to overcrowding this weekend.


I asked my pal Moe, who works at SIU what it was like over there today, he responded,

There was large crowds at SIU and in Carbondale today. It seemed that many people made it a 1 day event. I’m not sure of the numbers, but the SIU football stadium was sold out and there were hundreds if not a few thousand people outside of the stadium on SIU grounds. The arena at SIU was also full of people. Photos from Carbondale showed many people down on the strip too. Again, no idea of numbers, but quite a few. It was a really cool scene at SIU. People from all over the world. According to the Shawnee forest FB page, there were tons of visitors in the forest lands too. I saw more people than I have ever seen at the pine hills yesterday.


I decided to go to one of my favorite spots near Harrisburg to watch the eclipse alone.  I charged up all my gear and packed it up up to my secret spot around 12:30 today.  I laid on my back with my eclipse glasses and watched the sun slowly get covered for awhile then I walked around and took a few photos.


I didn’t realize how dark it had got until noticing I could see white flashing lights on the towers and silos around me.  I looked up again and saw that the sun was nearly eclipsed.  I had my 300mm lens on my Canon T4i,  since the 1.6 crop factor and 18 mega pixels would make for the closest images.  I got the sudden idea I needed to take video, and managed to get some shaky video of the sun becoming covered and reaching totality.


In the past I have spent several evenings on this hill photographing the sun going down. The shift from full light to dusk that would normally take an hour or more happened in seconds.  I took several still images of the sun, but struggled with the Rebel T4i that I’m still not accustomed to using.  I wanted to shoot several bracketed images and put together a composite but I was too slow with the cameras controls.


It occurred to me I should look around, and I did so.  The lights of Harrisburg were on, I could hear far away people screaming and hollering.  The roads and highways were mostly empty though I did see the occasional headlights.  I went to grab my other camera and started snapping photos, but had it set at ISO 200 and it was too dark for hand held images.  I looked around one last time and then the light returned, it felt like the shortest 2 minutes of my life.  I went back to my tripod mounted Rebel and shot a few images of the sun returning which proved to be my favorite of the day.


Once it was fully light I took a few more pictures, loaded up my gear and walked back to the car.  I was in Harrisburg at 2 PM and saw a river of traffic heading North through town most of the cars with Wisconsin and Michigan license plates.  These people had to have jumped into their cars moments after the eclipse to get from the Shawnee to Harrisburg in 20 minutes.  It was reported that the traffic leaving Southern Illinois was wall to wall.


As usual I have mixed feelings about the event, I created a few once in a lifetime images, and enjoyed seeing the eclipse from a vantage point that no one else saw.  At the same time I wasn’t really prepared, and struggled with the settings on my Rebel T4i.  I regret not bringing a second tripod to video the eclipse while I used telephoto to take totality photos.

Good news is I get a second chance in 7 years.

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Vassago Burning

I tried holding a  funeral prye for my long dead Vassago Bandersnatch frame.  A bike I loved so much I couldn’t just take the the scrapyard.

bandersnatch burning

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