Saturday, June 25, 2011

Great Green Goblins

Back in March, I was accepted to be part of the Airborne Flight Crew. In April I was given an all expense trip to California to attend Sea Otter and partake in a photo shoot. It was such an amazing experience that it took several posts to get it all out there. In case you missed something.......

The first week of May a huge box was delivered to my door. It contained my very own Goblin. I wanted to tear into that box and put it together. I had waited patiently for this bike and now I wanted to get to know it. Regrettably, I had to push the box into a corner. I had three single speed races in May and really needed to ride my ss. There was so much rain , I only managed a handful of rides.


The third week of May I built my Goblin. I opened the box, within a box, to find the frame and wheels smothered in bubble wrap, cardboard, and foam. I have never seen anything like it. Zip ties everywhere. This bike was packed so well I think it could have fallen from the freight plane and not sustained any damage. I did have pictures of the unwrapping and the build, unfortunately , my Iphone took on some water and was destroyed. Check out this awesome video from FC member Brent Davidson.

I have never put a bike together, so I was very relieved to see that Airborne did 80% of it for me. Hell, they even inflated the tires. Who does that? About 20 minutes later I had successfully put it together. All by myself! Now all I needed was for Mother Nature to cut me a break. Here in the Midwest, trails have been closed more often than open.I have been forced to ride the road, a lot of road . I had been training for the June DK200 , and there I would be using my cross-bike. I had been looking forward to this race, but also wanted it over so I could begin my relationship with the ' new guy ' in the stable. All the followed was more rain, trail closures, and frustration. I planned an epic with the Goblin, had a sitter for the day. Yep, you guessed it. Buckets of Rain. Several races have been cancelled to prevent trail damage. I would much rather build new trail than repair trail damaged by some thoughtless riders.

I also had eye surgery this week and am recovering well. I hope the Dr. lets me loose to ride sooner than 2 weeks. Breaking in the Airborne Goblin will be a pleasure. All mine. I have decided that I will run this bike exactly the way it came out of the box. Well, except for one adjustment, adding Ergon grips and bar ends. I want to see how this bike holds up without making any upgrades. I want to see how it performs after some long rides and how it will handle my abuse and MO trails. I like the Kenda small block 8's and plan to run them as much as I can. They are not my fave choice for every trail or trail condition tho.

As soon as I am released to ride I will hop on the Goblin. Gears are cool, lots of choices. I will now have choices! It's kinda funner to be faster sometimes. I have been adapting with one gear for a while now. I am thinking about doing some races on it. Watch out local experts. HaHa I know I have a ways to go. I am confident that 'his green-ness' will be the bike to take me there. I ride because I want to be better, and because it's fun. It's also fun to get better and podium once in a while.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lizard Skins Review

Bar ends not included

Last April I had the opportunity to attend Sea Otter in California, courtesy of Airborne Bicycles. Along with meeting the Flight Crew members, I met Pam Sayler. She is the North Atlantic Sales Manager for Kinetic training. After chatting with her I knew she would be a good person to know. Later that day she brought me a gift. It was some Lizard Skins bar tape. Perfect. I was needing some for my Kona JTS. The tape that came on it was white, and with over 2000 miles now a real dingy white, and I wanted to replace it before the DK200.

I have zero experience with bar tape so I trusted her when she said it was "the good stuff". I do not know who the manufacturer of the original tape that came on my bike is.   In comparison I noticed immediately that the Lizard Skins were much thicker and appeared more durable. I had Gino, at the HUB, wrap the LS tape over the existing tape. I was wondering if this was a good decision.   I felt confident having done so when Tyler said, " I don't normally approve of double wrapping, but yours I like". Tyler would know.


I put a few hundred miles of wear on this tape and another 115 miles of gnarly Kansas gravel before writing this review. I must say that I am shocked about a couple of things I found.   First, I was surprised at how I did NOT need cycling gloves.  I like wearing gloves, but found I enjoyed the feeling of this tape on my bare hands. I feel more connected to my bike.  The tape was soft, yet felt firm.  It seemed to absorb a lot of the bumps in the road I usually felt. My hands did not hurt even after 50 miles of road.   This tape did not feel sticky, and you know how important that is if you live in the hot and humid Midwest. Second, it cleaned up amazingly well. After my race ended in Kansas, my bike and bars were covered in disgusting tacky, thick mud. I was a little worried I might have ruined the tape in just one race. However, it cleaned up quite easily and still looked brand new afterwards. 

Below is a picture of my bar tape vs. Jim's. The Lizard Skins tape is on the right. You can immediately see the difference.  I am not knocking Jim's tape, however, his already has signs of wear and is coming undone after only 5 months.  Good thing he knows where he can order some.

 I am extremely satisfied with my Lizard Skins and will NEVER purchase another brand. I highly suggest you head over here and get some for yourself. They have many colors to choose from. They even have a video on how to install. Be careful not to stretch it too much and use light pressure when wrapping. Or, take it to your bike mechanic and have them install it for you.

Thanks Pam for turning me on to this amazing tape and giving me the opportunity to test it. I am also still willing to cut up my Cyclops with a chainsaw in order to try your Kinetic Trainer!!! Yes, even on video.

If you are reading this review, there is an update here.  Lizard Skins is still going strong.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Last week I had an appointment at The O'donnell Eye Institute. I sat in the waiting room with a few 60- 70 somethings trying to fill out forms that were printed way to small. After all, you would think they would have larger type for an eye center. After several tests, it was confirmed that my right eye has a cataract and needs surgery. Basically, my surgeon will remove my 'cloudy lens' and replace it with a hard, non- flexible lens. My surgery will be performed on June 21st and will take about 15 minutes. I am sure they will make me very comfortable * wink, wink* before they try to stick any sharp instruments into my eye. Adtivan, I hope.

I was also informed that there is a start of a cataract in my left eye. Wonderful. I have no symptoms , but at least now I know what to look for. For now, the left eye will be monitored. He said it could take a year or ten years. No one knows. Maybe we could take care of this in the off season? or never? I will need some 'cheater glasses' afterwards so I can see things up close. The flexible lens they are putting in does not have the ability to focus, so I will only be able to focus on things at a distance.

I have been told I will have a mandatory 2 weeks off the bike and/or any lifting. Great. I have to give up my life. I will be trying to stay busy. Any ideas? I plan on doing some painting, walls not pictures. Any good books out there? I will be able to read!

Functioning with one eye has not been easy and I am eager to put this behind me. You never realize what you have until it's gone. I am very grateful for the technology that is out there. In some countries people just go blind for lack of insurance or surgeons.

I have been working on my Dirty Kanza report, just waiting for some pictures to be posted. I promise it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Think I can, I Think I can , I Think I can

As the days get closer to the DK 200, I wonder what I what the heck was I thinking back in Jan. when I signed up for this. Why would anyone want to do over 200 miles in Kansas on gravel in June? Because it's there? Because it sounds like fun? Maybe, to see what you are made of?

Everyone has their reasons. I just want to finish in one piece and be able to say I DID IT!! I want to learn some more about myself and what it will be like to rely on just me. This is going to be an epic journey and most of it will be experienced alone. Not by choice.. There will be about 300 others out there trying to do the same thing, but from what I understand I need to be ready to GO BIG alone. I am not thrilled about being alone, especially in the dark.I have read stories about the wind, the heat, and the cows that want to play. Seriously.*** Last night Jim picked up some super bright Light and Motion lights from Mr. Boz. I am no longer worried about not being able to see. He even let us borrow his Kuat rack. Thanks Boz.***

Like everyone else, I will be on the start line wondering if I got enough miles in. I did not get to do any LONG rides, my schedule did not permit any. I did stay consistent in my plan though. I rode in every change of weather and on lots of windy days. I think the wind will take a lot of people out early. It sucks to pedal hard and essentially go nowhere. But, I have learned it is a mindset. And , not to waste too much energy trying to go fast, not worth it. Stay consistent. You can't fight the wind so make friends with it. I did not experience any injuries or sickness during training, so I feel good about that.

I plan on using my usual fuel, Sustained Energy, Perpeteum, and Nuun tablets for my primary fuel/electrolyte sources. They worked well for me at my 24 hr race. I will also be packing along some Chicken Noodle soup and some snacky type stuff. Lifesavers and Jolly ranchers, trail mix, a couple apples, and a few Gels I hope I don't need. Don't really care for them on long rides.

I will be carrying 3 bottles and a small pack with a 70 oz. bladder, not full. I am a freak about water so I need to make sure I have enough. Especially early on. The key to finishing this will be to " eat before I am hungry and drink before I am thirsty." I can always drop the pack later on in the race with the wonderful support crew Team Red Wheel graciously provided us with. Thanks fellas.

I really believe I can do this. I am in better shape than I was last year, both mentally and physically. I have worked very hard to take care of myself and put in countless hours in the saddle. My bike is in perfect shape to rock the gravel , thanks to Gino at The Hub. I have all the necessary gear and a very positive attitude. What more do I need?

Thanks for letting me ramble and get my race day jitters out. I am sure there will be more nerves to deal with over the next few days. I have put a lot of time and energy into this ride and hope my performance shows just that, even if I don't see the finish line. I have prepared myself for failure, since it is a possibility. However, those of you who really know me, know that I am a fighter . It will take a LOT to get me to quit. I have never Quit a race and don't plan on this being my first.
I am really looking forward to seeing the Beautiful gravels of Emporia Kansas. As you can see by all the pictures I 'borrowed' for this post it will be breath taking. Thanks Adventure Monkey!

Got any ideas on what I can think about out there? Any songs I should add to the IPOD? Any advice you think I need?