First Century of the Year

Luke, Ryan and I rode what would be my first century of the year yesterday and as you might expect I have a few points to make.  First Luke and I drove to Mitchelsville to meet Ryan.  We pulled and see that he has his touring bike decked out with 4 big bags in the front, along with a sleeping bag and a cooler on the rear rack.  I thought he was nuts, we were riding touring bikes but not loaded.  Well the bags were empty he just wanted to see if they worked out, but the cooler was full of ice and water/soda’s for everyone, so hard to complain about that.


I was nearly certain that this ride would destroy Ryan.  I was on my touring bike but completely unloaded, and Luke was on his road bike.  I lifted his bike and it felt to be around 50 pounds, then all that baggage would definitely mean more wind resistance.  Oddly enough on the first big hill Ryan and Luke began to easily pull away from me, I was stunned.  How is this guy riding away from me on a 50 pound bike.


The route I planned was not exactly good, at least not good for a Tuesday morning.  Route 34 had coal truck traffic and I was under the impression that it didn’t  anymore.  Much of the route has a new shoulder, so it wasn’t to bad, but still not great.  We eventually ended up in Cave in Rock IL and took the Ferry across the Ohio to Kentucky.  At Cave in Rock we met a TransAM cyclist, who was having a bad day, he was grouchy and when I waved and said hello he gave me a dirty look and turned his head.


Once in Kentucky we took a little side road for a shortcut to Sturgis, this worked out great, except for when I made a long turn, and ended up on a gravel.  It was only about a mile out of the way, but we lost Luke through here and didn’t catch him until Sturgis.  This leads to another major point highlighted by this ride; its nearly impossible to ride together in the hills.  On a positive Luke was able to stop and read every historical marker and give us detailed accounts of Steamboat racing on the Ohio and the high energy Sturgis coal.


Despite the fact that it’s so difficult to stay together it makes much more sense to stay together as a group which was proven by our next little mishap.  After Sturgis Luke and I distanced Ryan, and waited about 20 minutes for him at a store.  I became certain that he’d came by while we in the store and was just about to go tearing up the road to catch him but decided to ask a motorist pulling from that direction if he’d seen a rider.  The gentleman told us there was in fact a rider on the side of the road just a short ways back.  We went down the road to find Ryan fixing a flat a quarter mile from the store.


I spent some time after this trying to explain the touring lifestyle to Luke.  See Luke has no real experience touring.  Sure he rode his bike from Canada to Mexico but he wasn’t touring, he was racing.  He was on the clock everyday, that’s not touring!  The touring cyclist is living free, off the clock, just pedaling and and enjoying life.  The touring cyclist is also carrying 50 pounds of gear, half of which he probably doesn’t need, but who cares.  It’s not about the destination, its all about the journey.


There were no more mishaps after that flat tire.  Ryan and I stayed together and rode at a casual touring pace.  Luke stayed with us until we hit Illinois then shot up the road getting back to Harrisburg about 2 hours before we did.


Just a couple final notes from the ride.  The touring bike made for a comfortable century, especially the B17.  The only part of me that hurt after 7.5 hours on a bike was my hands.  I still have to figure out why the touring bike is so slow, it cant’ be me… can it.  Ryan is a beast, he easily kept pace with me on his crazy heavy gravel bike loaded with racks, bags, and cooler filled with ice.


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Nashbar Touring Rebuild

I built up a super cheap Nashbar Touring Bike about 5 years ago, then dismantled it a couple years ago to build up a Jake the Snake.  I’ve recently built back up the Nashbar and have been riding it in preparation for some loaded touring.


Here’s the frame as I found it hanging on the wall.


Here it is all cleaned up.


Here it is from today’s ride out to Glenn Jones.  I went with 8 speed Dura Ace that used to belong to the one and only Snakeman the most famous rider I know.  These Dura Ace shifters and derailleurs have at least 20,000 miles on them, but after a little clean up they are working great.  For gearing I went with a compact double and a 32-11 cassette which is low but not low enough.  Snake had modified the 8 speed Dura Ace rear deraileur with a medium cage that allows for a 32T cog.  That’s pretty unique.  Since I can’t use a triple crank with these derailleurs I’m thinking of using the inner and middle rings of a triple and leaving the outer ring empty, but that would necessitate buying a 46T chainring.


I’ve also got Snake’s old B17 saddle on there, which has seen better days but is proving to be incredibly comfortable.  The brakes were a recent addition from my buddy RyanT XTR v brakes with sweet cam action.  They needed travel agent adapters for the road levers.  I went with Contiental Gatorskin 28s which I hope will roll a bit better than the 32s I used last year.    I also bought a Velocity Dyad rim and built it up to a 105 36 spoke hub to make a hopefully BOMBPROOF rear wheel.


The good news is the bike works great, the bad news is that it weighs a ton.  The steel Nashbar fork is like 1200 grams and the rear wheel with the mountain bike cassette is heavy.  I haven’t weighed the bike but I’m guessing its around 27 lbs.  I’ve got about 200 miles on it now and while it cruises good on the flats you can really feel the weight on the climbs.  My hope is that loaded down it won’t matter and the long wheel base will be a benefit.

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My First Century

I’m going on a bike tour soon and  I really need to ride a century to get prepared for it, and I mean a real American Century, not some wussie metric, a real 100 mile ride.  The 100 mile ride is a benchmark for cycling. The century ride is a staple of American  cycling often considered a major goal for anyone wishing to call themselves a cyclist, but why?


No one really knows, but people have been riding Centuries for as long as there have been bikes.  Thomas Stevens rode his Penny Farthing across the United States in 1884 and then continued to be the first man to ride his bike around the world in 1885 and 86.  Perhaps the most important historical figure in the history of the Century Ride is Dora Rinehart, a woman of Denver Colorado who in the 1890s rode over 100 Century rides, once riding 20 centuries in a row.  She was a early proponent of functional dress for women, pioneering the “divided skirt.”  It’s important to note that her bike was fixed gear, had no brakes, and weighed around 40 pounds.

Thinking about riding a century soon got me thinking about my first century ride back in 1994, or maybe 1993, I was 14, maybe 15, hard to say because Strava hadn’t been invented yet and I’ve never been good at keeping records.  I had been meeting up to ride with Snakeman on most Saturday mornings after meeting him on our town’s weekly group ride.  Snake was in his late 40s at the time and had jumped into the world of cycling both feet first.   On Saturday mornings we would ride 30-50 miles and often times it would be like a random pick up group of kids and adults.


Snake is a major type A person, he can be completely obsessed with goals and personal accomplishments.  When he discovered that the Century ride was a major goal for cyclists he began training up to ride one seriously.  By the time I’d met him he’d already ridden a century and went on to ride ride 150 miles in a day.  He greatly encouraged me to ride a century with him, and after finishing a a couple longer 50-60 mile rides I felt like I was ready.  As a special incentive Snake was going to give me a La Vie Claire cycling cap if I finished the ride.  I was really stoked about cycling caps at the time, and I guess I still am.

Many of Snakes centuries involved bigger groups of novice or veteran riders, but on my Century it was just me and him.  The plan was to leave town at 5AM.  Snake said leaving super early was like free miles, he explained that we would be halfway done by breakfast time and it would be as if we hadn’t even noticed we’d rode 50 miles.

Our route was far from easy.  We rode 47 miles South on route 145 which passes through the Shawnee National Forest and really only contained one sustained flat stretch, other than that it was constant rolling hills, and a couple long tough climbs.  We would take a breakfast break at Metropolis IL.  and then take Route 45 back which would make the return trip 57 miles, for a total of 104.

Out first half hour of riding would be before sunrise, but Snake liked to plan these super early rides on full moons so that we could see, and he provided me with a bright red flashing light for my saddle bag.  I remember how awesome it felt to ride out of town with the stoplights all flashing red and not a soul on the road at 5AM on a Saturday, like we owned the road.  The sky wasn’t really dark, and I found that Snake was right,  my eyes quickly adapted to the moonlight and I found that I could see the road surface almost as well as in the day.  Our flashing red lights could be seen from a mile away in the dark and I felt more secure on the road then in broad daylight.

On this ride I would get a complete course in the Snake school of long distance bicycle riding.  Snake had been absorbing all the knowledge he could from other riders, books and magazines and was eager to pass it on, so all morning he expounded on his theories.  First, every downhill is an opportunity to rest, stay off your saddle, and coast.

Every climb is an opportunity to stretch, go up two gears stand and pedal easy with your body weight.

Change your hand position freequently, avoid gripping the bars tightly.

Every 15 miles stop, get off your bike, stretch, and make sure to eat and drink.

Our first appointed 15 mile break occurred at the small town of Eddyville where we pulled up to an old gas station that as long since been demolished.  Snake looked through the glass window and said, “When I was younger I might have thrown a brick through this window just to go in there and get a candybar.”  Apparently there was a time when Snake had been a bit wild.  He was a motorcycle rider, but had mellowed out over the years and traded in his Harley for a Goldwing, and traded in his somewhat wild past for a life completely devoted to Jesus.

The sunrise soon followed and it was glorious, seemingly before I knew it we were at Metropolis and eating breakfast at Hardees.  Snake had been completely right, the last 3.5 hours of riding had gone by and I felt great.  Snake too was feeling good and we both left Metropolis in high spirits.  I had heard that the real pain of a century starts to hit around mile 70 and I remember that intently because I wanted nothing more than to quit riding when we hit mile 70.

We stopped in for a unplanned rest stop at a closed business with a payphone out front.  Snake tested the phone, “It works, you can call home, I bet someone will come get you,” he said.  I was seriously thinking about it.  “Of course if you do you won’t get the hat,”  he said.  After 5 minutes I was back on the bike.

After stopping at Vienna for some much needed caloires and drinks we continued on up a long, gradual climb, I struggled but Snake was more then patient with me.  Eventually route 45 passes through some roller coaster hills and a sweet long downhill after New Burnside, this is where something strange happened.  I started to feel good.  I started actually leading and soon found that Snake was the one suffering.  I pulled most of the rest of the way to Harrisburg and Snake directed me to detour to his parents house.  When Snake had difficulty dismounting I realized just how bonked he was.

We sat in the air conditioned living room and drank glass after glass of ice cold water.  It took snake 20 minutes before he felt like getting back out.  He was very impressed with the recovery I’d made, and disappointed with the way he’d finished the ride, despite the fact that he had pulled the entire time and spent the whole day encouraging me to finish.

I rode a few more centuries with Snake in the next few years and many, many shorter rides. Right when college and work started taking up all my riding time Snake got into a double century craze which I always believed was dumb and eventually burnt him out on riding.

Thinking back on it I’m sure that riding that century gave me a great deal of confidence, when you tell people you’ve ridden your bike 100 miles in a day they generally don’t believe you, or automatically assume you’re riding a motorbike.  The truth is that riding a century isn’t that hard, as Snake always said, it’s a simple case of mind over matter, anyone can do it.

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I Can’t Help Myself

I have two road bikes that are fully functional and much nicer than I really need.  I have a cross bike that may not be exactly nice, but if definitely works.  I’ve been complaining to myself that I need to get rid of the cracked and broken bike frames that are collecting dust in my basement and yet despite all this I couldn’t help myself.  I bought another junk frame.

I was thinking about how I would like to seriously test a DIY carbon repair and I just got the idea to type, “broken carbon frame” into ebay.  That search returned no results, but ebay suggested some frames for me.  One of them was a Raleigh R2.5 carbon frame that had been sanded down to the bare carbon and looked like maybe it had been dragged around under a car.  I was immediately intrigued. On further inspection I noticed one of the drop outs said, “Cervelo”  now I was really intrigued.

The Cervelo R2.5 has a terrible reputation.  Apparently a large number of these frames were recalled because the lugged carbon tubes would become unbonded.  The recall effected serial numbers greater then the one listed so I thought maybe it was safe.  Besides the frame the auction also included a Ultegra Crank and 105 front and rear derailleurs.  The opening bid was 40 bucks.  Shipping a bit over 40.  I couldn’t help myself, I bid 40 bucks more as a laugh.


Well now I have this bike, and the frame is of course cracked.  I’ve never seen a frame shipped like this.  The seller just wrapped it up in foam and bubble wrap then shrink wrapped the whole thing, before finally taping it all up in brown tape.  It would have been much easier and cheaper to put it in a box.  It took 15 minutes of cutting to get it out of the cocoon.

It didn’t take me long to find a crack.  It took a slight squeeze on the rear drop outs to hear the sound of crackling carbon and about 5 seconds to see the big crack on the seatstay.  The auction was “as is” but the seller didn’t indicate the frame was cracked, honestly though I wasn’t the least bit mad, in fact I was kind of happy, this would give me some carbon to repair.


First I took a dremel tool and ground out the material around the crack down to about one layer of carbon.  Then I sanded alot, I sanded down around two inches in both directions from the crack.  Next I cut about 4 pieces of carbon each one about half an inch smaller.


I cleaned everything up with alcohol then I mixed up a big puddle of epoxy and smeared it all over the frame.  With plastic gloves I began laying up the carbon patches and smearing them good with epoxy.  Once completed I wrapped the entire area up  as tightly as possible in electrical tape.


It looks terrible, but it’s very strong and doesn’t crackle anymore when squeezed.  When I sand it down it will not match the original weave pattern since my carbon is not weaved, but who cares.


Honestly I won’t be confident riding this bike if I ever get around to building it up, especially anywhere hilly.  I won’t be that worried about the seatstay I repaired, if it breaks it will be at the edges of my fix and I think it will crack, but I wouldn’t want to risk it on a 30 mph downhill.  I’ll probably build it up and ride it around slow on the rail trail and look really closely for cracks.

What I’m really excited about it painting it up all crazy modern art style like Dario Pegoretti does.

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Finding Some Form

Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding 47 hilly miles with my pal Ryan.  This is awesome because here in the Heartland we’ve been dealing with rain almost every day.  This weekend is sunny and warm.  Well kind of warm.  It was about 50 degrees when I met Ryan in Eddyville.

I got out of the van wearing full legwarmers, a long sleeve undershirt, a wool jersey, and a vest.  Ryan was standing there with a shorts and short sleeves.  I had checked the weather before I left, 50s for the first hour or so, and the high was only 62, oh and it was spitting rain, though that was expected to clear up.

“Umm, Dude, are you cold?”  I asked.

“Yeah but it’s going to warm up quick,”  he replied.  We took the Eddyville blacktop towards Golconda, one of my favorite stretches of road in Southern Illinois.  It’s hilly, twisty, and out in the woods.  I thought back to last year when I was touring and tried to ride this road but was turned away because of a deadly shootout taking place between SWAT teams and a armed fugitive.

The route started with a massive downhill and I was instantly cold, even with all my wool.  I’m sure Ryan was freezing.  Of course the downhill is followed by a massive climb which Ryan attacked like he was going for a mountain top finish line. He was nice enough to wait a few minutes at the top of the climb.  I found 160 beats per minute and kept it there.  A few weeks ago I was having trouble riding at 160 bpm but even in this early stage of the ride I was feeling OK with that effort.


I hit  50.8 on the Flick Hill downhill, which I’ve been told is one of the fastest downhills in Shawnee, it’s got the perfect combination of steepness, length and road quality to hit high speeds.  We decided to ride a couple miles out of the way down to Golconda to see the river, which made for a nice spot to hang out and take a break.


We continued on 146 to route 34 and rode it to Herod.  Ryan basically pulled this entire time at a very rapid pace.  The section of road is constant rolling hills which were not enough to dislodge me.  Any time I went to the font to pull he would drift back because he doesn’t like to draft so I just hung on to his wheel and made the most of it.  We covered the 10 miles in seemingly no time.  By this point my clothing choices were proving far warmer then I needed, but Ryan was nice enough to carry my vest and leg warmers in his huge saddle bag.

At Herod we turned to face out greatest challenge of the ride, Williams Hill.  Last time I had climbed Williams Hill I felt horrible, I couldn’t seem to get my heart rate up.  Today I was feeling great.  Of course Ryan rode away from me early, but I don’t think he’s used to hills this long, not to mention he just pulled the last ten miles.  I was slowly closing back in on him.

Recent storms had littered the road with limbs and sticks, and I tried to ride around them as best as I could.  I started thinking how funny it would be if I rode over a stick and crashed.  About that time I bumped over a big stick and heard a “clunk”  my camera had bounced out of my pocket.  I probably lost a minute stopping to pick it up and make sure it stilled worked, as well as zipping up my jersey pocket.  About two thirds of the way up I caught up to Ryan, he was standing by his bike with it’s chain off.


It would be prudent to tell you a bit about Ryan’s bike.  It’s a classic Italian steel Basso, with Campagnolo components.  Every part of it gleams and its one of the best looking bikes I’ve seen.  It’s a classic ten speed which means it’s lowest gear is about in the middle of my cassette, and of course this is well before computer designed cogs.

I went by him and feeling even stronger and upped my pace a bit more.  Soon I was seeing 180 beats per minute, which I haven’t seen in a long time.  I was swallowing air as fast as possible and even though my lungs and legs were burning I was feeling great.

Perhaps the running I’ve been doing has helped, or maybe it’s just accumulated fitness of the last few weeks of strong rides.  Maybe I was just feeling good?  We finished up the ride on Route 145 and again Ryan pulled most of the next 5 miles.  I’ve been riding with Ryan nearly every weekend and it’s definitely upped my game, because I won’t ride anywhere near as hard by myself.

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Matt’s Jogging Log

After a dismal showing at the first time trial of the year I decided to mix things up a bit and start jogging again.  Haven’t jogged in a couple years.  Here’s my log so far.

Friday 4/21
1.2 miles 19 minutes.  15.8
It’s late, long day at work, it’s dark.  It’s kind of cool and windy.  Put on my hiking shoes and leave my front door.  Jog for a few minutes.  Feet feel like they are being pounded by sledgehammers.  Heart rate at 150.  Must stop.  Walk for a while.  Jog some more.  This sucks, why the hell am I doing this.

Saturday  4/22
2.5 miles in 41 minutes. 16.4
It’s raining.  I put on my jacket and drive to rail trail.  God this sucks.  I try to do a few minutes of jogging with a few minutes of walking.  Mostly just walking at the end.

The next morning I wake up with extremely sore ankles and certain muscles in my leg that are stretched way out of shape.  Ride a 60 mile killer gravel route and have the time of my life.  Riding is 1000x times better than jogging. 

Tuesday 4/25
1.9 miles in 30 minutes 15.8
Shauna and I go for a walk on rail trail.  I jog, run into Elam on his bike.  Am very jealous.  He follows and talks to me while I try to talk back while sucking in liters of air.  Running sucks.  Feet still hurt, but new running shoes feel much better than hiking boots.

Thus 4/27
2.6 miles in 41 minutes 15.8
Well its 60 degrees, guess I’ll run again.  Leave from house.  Concrete sidewalks are hard.  Jog the first mile straight thanks to a powerwalking girl up ahead that I wanted to try and catch.  Mission accomplished.  Time to walk.



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Repairing Aluminum Frame With Carbon

Back in early 2014 I fixed a crack in my Ksyrium Elite rear wheel by wrapping it in carbon.  3 years later I still ride those wheels and probably have put at least a couple thousand on them though they are currently on my spare bike.  The repair shows no signs of failure yet.

Repairing Aluminum with Carbon Fiber

Aluminum Wheel Repair with Carbon

A while back I was riding my JAKE THE SNAKE, and I could hear some strange klunky noises on big bumps.  After the ride I saw that the seat tube had cracked.  Actually the seat tube has had a tiny crack in it since I bought the frame on ebay.  The frame has a small dent and in the middle of the dent was a tiny little crack.  I rode it for 3 years like that.


Since I was riding gravel Sunday morning I decided to attempt a carbon wrap around the tube.  I didn’t waste time trying to carefully remove the paint.  I just ground it off haphazardly.  Next I drilled holes in the ends of the crack which now wrapped around the tube.



I treated the frame with aluminum treatment so epoxy would stick and I haphazardly begin wrapping epoxy smeared carbon around the frame.  Once I’d wrapped it twice I wrapped the whole section tightly in electrical tape to flatten and squish out the epoxy.  The next morning I rode the bike on 60 miles of intense gravel hills.  It seems fine.


The center of a seat tube on a bike is very low stress.  right…

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