Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gear ratios

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a group ride with some other Boise riders. Afterwards, one of them was admiring the bike Racer picked out for me. (Left to my own devices, I would have got the uglier paint job, but Racer insisted I get what is the same frame with a better-looking paint job and then upgrade the parts I didn't want. If you're ever in the market for a bicycle, go see Racer--he'll take care of you and build it so well that it will rarely need a tune.)

We got talking about my compact crankset and 11-26 cassette. His comment was that 34x26 was "pretty close to mountain bike gearing." I didn't argue, even though in actual fact it's still a long way off from the lowest gear in the middle ring of a MTB, and further still from the granny. The reality is that 34x26 is more than I need for riding around Boise. But I don't limit my rides to just Boise.

Take last week for instance. From Tuesday until Saturday, I did about 18,000 feet of climbing. Tuesday and Thursday I rode Bogus Basin Road, Wednesday I rode to Hidden Springs and back, and then on Thursday afternoon we went to Utah.

Friday morning I got up and rode over Suncrest and back. With all the times I've been to Utah with a bike, I had never actually ridden either Suncrest climb before. Dug and Rick live at Suncrest, so they've got to climb one side or the other pretty much anytime they do a road ride. And the Fat Cyclist chose to live in Alpine just so that he would be able to ride this once in each direction on his daily commute. I would probably take the long way home and ride around the mountain once or twice a week rather than face the north side of Suncrest five days a week. It's a sustained 10% grade for 1500 vertical feet. Climbing that hill is harder than anything we've got in Boise.

I thought Suncrest was really painful and difficult until Saturday afternoon. On Saturday I took off from my parents' house in Sugarhouse, intent on riding to my sister's place at the mouth of American Fork canyon, with a detour to Snowbird along the way before climbing up the North side of Suncrest and on to Cedar Hills.

The approach to Snowbird was miserable. It was 100 degrees outside, with a strong headwind. When I got to Wasatch Boulevard, the road was all torn up with that diamond pattern the road crews do when they're about to lay new asphalt. So I was effectively riding uphill, on cobbles, with a headwind, in 100 degree heat. Turns out that was the easy part.

The climb to Snowbird leaves nowhere to hide. It's steep and never really flattens out until you get to White Pine, where it gets slightly easier for the final stretch before you get to Snowbird. I've never felt like I wanted or needed a triple on my road bike, but I would have taken one on Saturday. Even in 34x26, I was grinding along at about 60 RPM. So I guess the key to Suncrest is to ride Snowbird first. Because Suncrest frankly didn't feel that bad after what I had already done.

While I was climbing and suffering in the heat, my brother was doing his own variety of suffering in the Tour of Park City. Or rather Tour de Park City. I hate it when American road races insist on using the French "de" instead of "of." I think we should all take to calling these races the "Tour day Georgia" and "Tour day Park City," like Bobke does, just to encourage the race organizers to get off their Euro high horse.

You'd think when there's an organized road race going on that the idiots in cars would be fewer. Too bad that's not the case. Last year during Lotoja, my bro and I were called fa__ots, presumably for wearing our pink "win" jerseys. Not to be outdone, in the Tour day Park City, some redneck decided it would be cool to run someone off the road. One of these days a driver is going to mess with the wrong cyclist on the wrong day and get beaten and left on the side of the road, as has happened so many times when it's the car dishing out the beating. Until that day, I think anyone who fails to treat cyclists appropriately on the roadways should be required to commute by bicycle for a month. Even if they weren't converted by the end of the month, one hopes they'll be more respectful.

My bro's take on the Tour day Park City, which he was using as a training ride for Lotoja, was that "Lotoja is good training for the Tour day Park City."

Finally, I am still waiting for my bib shorts to arrive from Performance Bike (this link is only active in hopes that they check who's linking to their site and someone actually reads this). This wouldn't be such a big deal, except that I've now lost enough weight that I barely have any shorts that fit. This morning I sent a message to the Performance customer service department. Actually, I forwarded them the message I was sent telling me when my order was shipped and what the tracking number was. I complained very concisely about all the things I mentioned in yesterday's post.

The response I got was a message telling me that my order had shipped on July 28 (wonder if they scrolled down on the message I sent them to find that out or if they actually looked it up in the computer) and that they needed to allow 7-10 days for delivery. Really. Tell me something I don't know. Tomorrow will be nine days and Friday will be ten. I'm kind of hoping that they don't arrive on Friday, that way I can call and demand that they send me replacement bibs overnight and then I'll keep the other ones as well when they finally arrive.

OK, time to put down the crack pipe, because Performance would no sooner overnight me a pair of replacement bibs than one of their shipping clerks would work past 4:00 p.m. Losers.