Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Tour of Utah, the crapstorm we are heading for, and Q-rings.

Well...the Tour of Utah is underway! Of course, with NO VS to watch whatever they are planning on showing, I'm having a REALLY hard time getting stoked for it. Which is sad, because I hear it's a GREAT race! REading about todays stage, it sounds like Radio Shack came to WIN! Levi AND Jani in the top 5 GC...with a cushy lead over the rest of the wanna-be contenders. Sounds like after the disastrous Tour for the Shack they are out to regain some mojo. I wish them luck...they surely have earned some breaks I'd think!

Of course, just READING about the race plain SUCKS. But that's my lot in life this year...(and maybe next the way things are going just now in the world!) Not to bring politics in here, but JIMMINY CHRISTMAS! Our Fed Gov is crushing us...and I won't point fingers, cuz it's ALL of them! Their stupid little debt-ceiling rasiey-thing didn't fix a damn thing...they simply ONCE AGAIN deferred all the really hard decisions (ie: ones that would actually start to FIX THINGS) to the future.  And we NEED some damn things FIXED! I saw a neat quote from Warren Buffet, and it went something like this: "You want to get ride of deficits for good? Easy...we just need a law that says if the deficit goes over 3% of the GNP, the ENTIRE sitting congress is ineligible for re-election. Problem solved, you'd NEVER have a deficit again!" Boy, that's for sure...if there's ONE thing they all are REALLY good at, it's job preservation.

I'm so disgusted with the entire lot of them right now, I can't help but daydream about one of Tom Clancy's novels a while back....the one where a jetliner (empty, not hijacked mind you) purposely crashes into a joint session of congress. That's quite extreme obviously, but the reality is that things seem irrevocably broken. And our elected government seems totally incapable of fixing it. And WE all are going to pay for that. In the last few days I've watched my 401k shrink drastically, and there's just no good place to move it (the very few funds we do have are all crap...who PICKS these for us anyway? Is it a joke? Sure seems like it!)

OK...just had to get that out...I need a BIKE RIDE!! I didn't' ride Tues after work like normal cuz we got BUSY and I was running late. I HOPE To ride tomorrow (Thurs)...that will make me feel better. I noticed along ago that my bikes seem to be some kind of a lightening rod for negative energy...where it is somehow channeled into the earth and away from me, and afterwards I feel refreshed.

On a positive note, I got my birthday present from Jeannie in the mail tonight (it's a bit early, but timing was EVERYTHING!)...I got a set of Q-Rings for my mountain bike. What are Q-rings you ask? Well...let me explain. Ever hear of "Biopace" chainrings back in the 80's? These are like those, only different (better). The Biopace was an attempt to fix the 'dead spot' in pedaling. The pedals go around in circles, but human physiology means we can't actually pedal a circle (go ahead, sitting in your chair right now, try to rapidly pedal circles in the air with either foot....we just can't do it...turns out more like a square, or a strange triangle). That is the problem in a nutshell. are pedaling. The power stroke part of your 'circle' starts somewhere around when your top pedal gets to the 2-o'clock position....(slightly over the top heading down). The power part lasts as long as you are pushing mostly down...but very soon the pedal nears the bottom and starts to come backwards....the power part is now over...this is the 'dead spot'. Now your knees have to bear the brunt as your leg muscles try to power your top pedal forward (not up or down) and the bottom pedal almost directly backwards, and  those muscles and such are quite weak compared with the one that pushes down. Don't believe it? While sitting in your chair, push down with either can probably lift your entire body weight with either leg. Now move close to a wall or something (still sitting in your chair)...and with your knee bent at a 45 deg angle (thigh relativly parallel with the floor) put your toe against the wall and push forward with your foot...there is a GINORMOUS imbalance of power between these 2 positions. THIS is where cycling knee pain typically comes you can actually damage the soft tissues of your knee doing this over and over.

So...the fine folks at Rotor (a Spanish company) studied and studied, and realized that an elliptical shaped chainring (as was Biopace) with adjustment holes in the correct places (NOT Biopace) and having the group of holes in the RIGHT place (also not Biopace) allows for the chainring to actually be BIGGER just when your pedal is in the 'power' position' for both legs, and then to be smaller when the dead spot shows up for both legs. So you push a bigger gear momentarily just when you are best equipped to do so, and a smaller gear when you are at the weakest point. Biopace was the right idea but they didn't study the mechanics enough and had the bigger/smaller portions of the gears in the wrong place...and was not adjustable...thus they were total failures (they caused a lot of knee problems, which was one of the things they were trying to fix). of the guys I ride with got a set for his mt bike a few weeks back, and he magically started climbing with guys who routinely spank him on the climbs (he's a BIG guy...weighs around 240 I'd say)...and his knees don't hurt anymore. He thinks they are some sort of miracle, and wonders why every bike isn't equipped with them (I have to admit my skepticism I wonder the same exact thing...they've been out there for years apparently, yet I'd never heard of them before!) However, I looked around online, and then finally ebay (cuz a NEW set of these rings costs $265..which is outlandish!) I found a new in box set for my older XTR M960 crankset (they are now making XTR 970)....and I got a GREAT deal on them (well, Jeannie got a great deal on them I mean!) And the bonus is that Rotor doesn't make these older XTR Q-rings anymore...they only make the ones that fit the newer 970 I was VERY lucky to find these as you can't buy them from any store.

AND......they came in the mail TONIGHT!! Almost makes what's happening in Washington better...(almost). THANK YOU JEANNIE!! Happy birthday to MATT!! (a bit early)

I will mount them up tomorrow, and hopefully get out for my first acclimatization ride either tomorrow night or maybe Saturday.  They actually want you to do some easy rides so you get used to the different pedal your pedal stroke goes harder/easier with each circle you turn...however as that coincides with the actual strength of what you can do, they say it becomes totally natural very quickly. They recommend you ride a few hundred miles with the Q-rings in the #2 timing position (the middle one of 3) and after that you can move to the #1 or #3 to try out the slightly different feel and see what works best for everybody pedals differently. I'm quite jazzed to try these out....I was SO very lucky...if my birthday wasn't coming up very soon, I wouldn't' have gotten them (cuz I'm BROKE!)

Moving about the madness over in the UK??? It JUST SO HAPPENS that 5 of the guys I work with just flew into the UK...they left here on Monday morning and arrived in Manchester (via London) yesterday morning...right smack in the middle of all this unrest. I really was sad I didn't get to go on this trip (It's a 3 month stint)..I"m hoping for the 2nd or 3rd group..(we have work there for the next year or so). IF the schedule holds, this group will be there Aug/Sept/Oct, so the 2nd wave will be Nov/Dec/Jan (which I can't make, as we have Thanksgiving travel plans already paid for) HOPEFULLY I can make the Feb/Mar/Apr group. I have my travel road bike all ready to go...tho I'm betting it will be a tad chilly over there in Feb/Mar...but oh well...I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

OK..that's quite enough of an Inane smorgasbord for one post. In fact, it might almost be a new record for Inaneness....I'll have to work on some kind of rating-scale. Gotta run!



  1. Isn't it fun to get things in the mail!
    I've even bought my furnace filters on ebay--saved a bunch of money ($14 apiece instead of $50!). I did feel a little guilty about depriving my furnace guy of the sale though.

    I think I've seen those elliptical chainrings on a few of the pro's bikes--didn't know what they were though, wasn't sure if it wasn't just my eyesight. Happy birthdayness, hope they are as good as advertised!

    I was looking at ebay and saw 2 Nishiki road bikes in my size (which is NEVER available) and cheap too. My first road bike, the one I did my bike touring and camping on, was a Nishiki Custom Sport -- I am told one of their low-to-middle grade models-- and I miss the comfortable ride (although that one was always a tad too big for me, which is why I gave it to my nephew a few years ago); I don't think my aluminum/carbon bike is as comfortable. Plus I just have a sentimental attachment to the brand. BUT, I have bikes that I am way underusing right now as it is, so am trying to resist the temptation to bid. It is funny, I never liked the stem shifters so much either, plus they are friction, and indexed is so much easier to use -- yet I am still considering it. Is it a sign of my age? Viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses? Trying to escape today's turmoil with a little bit of my youth?

    I could fill a page with my disgust over both political parties. Guided more by oppositional -defiant disorder than reasoned discussion, electability concerns rather than good governance and the constitution. I read something in the newspaper a few days ago about a moderate group--not libertarians, not greens, not socialists etc--- that is trying to start a no-party-affiliation movement to get qualified candidates on the ballots. I will have to see if I can track that down.

    (I remember after 9/11, someone on TV said something about no one could imagine such a thing happening and someone else said "Tom Clancy did". Might have been Chris Mathews)

    I was in London in April and it was cold! 30F and snowing; I had to buy a warm jacket and hat! Hope that you get to go, it is a great city. Wouldn't it be fun to be there for the Olympics? I sure hope that this current madness fades away quickly -- but I am afraid that it is part of the current state of the world, very troubling.


  2. Renshaw has signed with Rabobank...he's finally going for his own wins now. Ahhh...the good ol' days of him leading out Cav are done, no matter where he (Cav) ends up...he and Renshaw will now be dueling sprint enemies. Should be quite interesting!

  3. Saw that about Renshaw! I know that Cav would have loved to keep the train together, but Renshaw had to have been a pretty hot commodity. Hope all of the other riders find a team in all of the shuffling. Should make next season interesting for sure - no one proven sprint power team to assume all responsibility. I'm looking forward to seeing how Cav does with another organization.

    Matt & Rae - I'd love any good pics of the American riders. I won't make huge pics of any of them. I'll look at the race site again and see who is confirmed to be there. Anthing of Andy Schleck? Jens? I'd love any of the ones you mentioned Matt, even if a bit blurry. But....any pics that you think would be good for possible autographs I'd love to have via email if not too much trouble. Thanks thanks thanks!

    Has the Tour of Utah been on VS? I've been out of town and haven't had time to check. Go RS! Bummer that Horner is out of that and the CO race - but glad he caught it and he's healing up. Blood clot in the lung is nothing to take lightly.

    I remember missing all of the summer night bug sounds when we were vacationing in CA and in the rockies. The combo of the crickets, cicadas, and katydids right now is like some highly organized symphony. And LOUD!

    I can't start talking about that debacle in Wash or I'll be up here all night. ARGH!

    Happy Friday all!

  4. Guys, Tour of Utah is actually on Fox Sports South, not Versus. Tonight is the time trial. One of our Shack riders won the TT in Eneco Tour this morning my time - would be so cool to win another tonight in Utah!!!

    Janann, are you for sure going to CO race? If so, we need to get together to say hi or have lunch, whatever!

  5. Rae, my first road bike was a Nishiki too! I loved that bike - I paid $160 for it in 1977, which was a lot of money (I was making about $12K). I forget what the model was, but it was a silver, women's frame, and I rode it till 2002!


  6. Yes, Cathy, we are going for sure - all but the last day! Would love to meet up with you when we're there. Are you on Google chat or something that we can access via phone? I'm excited!

    Hey Levi has been kicking it in Utah! Good for him - he deserves some success, as does RS, after that horrible run of luck in France.

    Wow interesting goings on with Cadel/Thor/BMC. Seems like it could just be things taken out of context and misinterpreted, but the initial comments by Cadel were pretty easy to misinterpret! I like Thor and hope he finds what he wants at BMC. I know he wasn't happy at Garmin, but I was sort of hoping that he'd be more satisfied after their wildly successful Tour. Still speculation that Gilbert might also end up at BMC. Those are some DEEP pockets on that squad!

    Happy Birthday Matt! I can't remember what exact date it is - but ENJOY!!!


  7. Janann, email me and we can exchange info. I'll spell it out so maybe I don't get too much spam. it's: (my full name all in small letters) at west dot net. I fly in on the 20th - yay! A bike race. Are you going to the gala in Vail? It's going to be incredible.

    Boy, today's Utah stage looked brutal. Going to watch the short version tonight. Two of our guys missed the time cut, so tomorrow only 6 to defend the jersey. Those Columbians are not messing around - they have come to play!!

  8. Janann, when you get a chance, email me your email address. I can give you my list of hotels in case you aren't already booked.

  9. Janann, (again, sorry!) I might have an extra ticket for the Coors Classic Gala in Vail on friday after the time trial. Bring something you could wear to that just in case you want to go with me!!