Monday, May 26, 2008

Syracuse Unversity wins the NCAA Div 1 Lacrosse Championship

The trip to the beach was a bust. Oh we made the trip down there but I knew it was a bad sign when you leave the house late and still end up with a good parking spot. As soon as I crossed over the dunes I knew it was probably a waste of gas. While the sun was out in force the temperature at the beach (Spring Lake, NJ) was 5 degrees colder than it was inland and the wind was blowing strong out of the south. Most of our fellow sun worshipers were hanging out in sweat pants trying to make the best of it.

We ended up calling it quits after about 90 minutes of being blasted by sand. The good thing was that I was now going to be able to catch the SU vs John Hopkins in the NCAA Div 1 Lacrosse Championship. We got back to the house about midway through the 2nd quarter. I think Syracuse was down by 2 goals when I first turned on the TV. However, as I was unloading the car Syracuse erased the deficit and went into half time with a lead. Syracuse lead for the rest of the game. In the 3rd and 4th quarters pretty much man handled JHU and won their 10 national championship. John Hopkins played hard and closed with in 3 at one point but they just did not have the wheels to finish.

ESPN did an excellent job of covering the games. At one point I even thought that the view on TV was much better than the view I would have had if I were at the game. I would not have said that about the coverage that was provided by Comcast Cable on CN8 (although there was one rain drenched weekend that I watched a Princeton game and I was definitely glad to be watching from the comfort of my couch). The games were at Gillett Stadium and they were using the same camera angles that are usually provided for the Patriots' games. They have the overhead camera in use. They did a great job of following the ball.

They used to have the Championships at Rutgers on a regular basis. Now that they are able to book the big NFL stadiums I think that will be a thing of the past.

Above is the patio set I put together over the weekend. I originally thought it was going to be a bigger project than it turned out to be.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday Bike Ride and the NCAA Div 1 Men's Lacrosse Championship

I took the Tarmac Comp out for another shakedown ride. It actually did not do to well. I need to get it back to The Peddler for some serious adjustments. Things were going fine as I road my new route through Marlboro and into Freehold. However, on the swing back home while I was stopped for a light I noticed that my chain had jumped off of the small chainwheel. I could not understand why until I started to do some testing. In some of the gears I cannot pedal backwards. In I cannot roll the bike backwards without the chain jamming up. I think the rear derailuer needs some serious adjustments.

I was going to ride to Long Branch to have it looked at but I was spent. I have noticed that riding the Tarmac hit a different set of muscles. I think it is because I can do more from the sitting position. At this point I think I am a little faster on the Langster even in the climbs. I can climb pretty with the Langster. The only hills I have problems with are the really steep ones that I cannot get a running start on.

I might throw the Tarmac in the car today and drive over to The Peddler. I am thinking of letting them keep the bike for a day or so to get the problem solved. I would like to ride but every muscle in my body is aching right now.

The good thing is that I got home just in time to watch Syracuse University play University of Virginia in the semi finals of the Men's Lacrosse Championship. For some reason I thought the game as on later in the afternoon. I checked around on the Internet and I found out that it started at noon and was being broadcast on ESPN2. I started watching the game at 12:15 PM and Syracuse as already down by 4 goals. Of course in Lacrosse a deficit of 4 goals is nothing especially in the first half. I was a little concerned since Virginia is on of the few teams that beat Syracuse during the regular season.

It turned out to be one of the best lacrosse games I have ever watched. Syracuse's turn around started when Midfielder Matt Abbott picked up the ball just outside the Syracuse goal and cleared it by sprinting back into Virginia territory. I was expecting him pass out his left but he picked up on a scoring opportunity made a shot on goal that produced a much needed score for the Syracuse offense. Matt had 3 goals that were instrumental in helping Syracuse stay in the game.

Unfortunately, for a while Virginia answered everyone of Syracuse's goals until the Syracuse scoring leaders kick in and tied the score. Even when they were down it seemed like Syracuse was controlling the game and getting more shots in. By the forth quarter it seemed like Syracuse was wearing down Virginia. I was hoping that Syracuse would be able to win it in regulation but I figured that there chances were good if they could push the game into over time.

The regulation ended in with a tie score and the game went into double overtime. Both teams seem to be getting tired. From it the view I had on the TV it did not even look like the winning shot went in. I was looking to see where the ball was and then I saw everyone's hands go up. Syracuse won with a score 12 to 11 (it is rough to be a goalie in Lacrosse since even the good ones get shelled and it always comes down to making a couple key stops).

ESPN2 broadcast the other semi final game John Hopkins Unversity vs Duke (a rematch of last year's Championship game). I was really pulling for Duke to pull it out and that is what was expected since Duke was rated number one and had the NCAA's leading scorer on the team. I watched the beginning and the end of this game but I fell asleep in the middle (I was wiped out from my morning ride). John Hopkins was able to win by 1 with a score of 10 - 9.

The championship game is scheduled for Monday. Both Syracuse and John Hopkins have 9 championships each. The tie will now be broken.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It is Memorial Day Weekend!!

A three day weekend with no plans. I have had lots of stuff to write about but I just have not got around to keying the words in. It is 8 AM on Saturday and it is almost 60 out. I am finishing up my coffee and heading out on the roads. I have to put together a patio set so I am going to try and be back by noon.

I am posting some pictures of my new Specialized Tarmac Comp. As well as some of the bikes in stock at The Peddler in Long Branch, NJ. Mike the owner is the same size that I am and always has plenty of good bikes in stock under 54.

The yellow Pinerello is full Campy but is priced out at just under $10,000. As much as I like the bike I think I might go in a different direction if I were going spend $10,000. Since most of the guys I know have a sports car (since gas is close to $4 a gallon it is probably not a great investment) splurging on a bike might be out of the question but not for a couple more years.

In the mean time I will have to be happy with the Tarmac and the Langster. So far I have only had two rides on the Tarmac. A short 17 mile shake out ride where I found out that the bike needed some adjustments and it was not shifting properly. A quick trip back to The Peddler fixed that. I did a 40 mile ride after work last night. I am trying to get used to riding with the gears again. It is a little more challenging than I expected.

I have discovered that the Tarmac is much more responsive than the Langster. The carbon frame provides a smoother ride as well. The front derailleur needs a little adjusting and I am thinking of swinging by the Peddler this morning to have it looked at. Today is going to be a busy day for them.

I rode on Thursday evening with the A group at Holmdel Park. I brought the Langster instead of the Tarmac. It was the right decision but I definitely paid for it. The usual leader was not there. The group usually avoids Line Road but for this ride it was attempted. It is the first time I have ever unclipped and walked. My knees were aching and my heart was exploding. Next week I will bring the Tarmac and I am hoping that things will be different.

I had the camera on the wrong setting so the pictures are not as good as they should be. I might bring the camera with me today but I do not like to stop once I get on the bike.

I wanted everything to match on the bike so I had blue Specialized water bottle cages installed and I picked up a pair of Camelbak Podium Bottles at Bike Planet in Matawan.

The Peddler has several of these Jamis Xeniths in stock. Most of them are in the smaller sizes. There is even a time trial version (I am thinking that I need a TT bike now but I am not really sure why). At $6500 they are not cheap but they do look cool. I think it is a $3500 bike with $3000 wheels.

Time to hit the road.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fortune Magazine Profiles Mike Sinyard the founder of Specialized Bikes

CNNfn had an article from Fortune Magazine about Mike Sinyard called King of the Mountain Bike. Those of you that have a soft spot for Specialized should read it.

I love this of story. They always go about the same. Start a business based on love, become successful, hire professional managers, end up almost out of business and then turn the company around by bringing the love back in.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Weekend Rides (I hate flats)

Unlike the constant downpour we had on Friday that made me think that I might need to get working on an ark Saturday looked like it was going to be a good day for a ride. To change things up I decided to ride the course the Independent Group rode on Tuesday evening. I was planning on adding a variation to it to get it out to 40 some miles.

The ride heads out through Marlboro and then down to Freehold. It is a good ride on back roads that are mostly residential. I ended make a wrong turn somewhere and I found myself in downtown Freehold. As I was trying to navigate out to somewhere that I recognized I hear the awful sound of the air leaving my front tire.

I pull over onto the sidewalk and I change the tube out. I carry a hand pump and CO2. The last time I used the hand pump I could not get the pressure correct so I decided to try the CO2 again. The tire seemed to inflate correctly. However, as I checked out the tire I noticed that it was not in good shape. The tire was shredding around the valve. Since I was a long way from home and I did not want to have a problem in the middle of Marlboro or Colts Neck I decided to find a bike shop.

I knew that there was Giant Dealer called Freehold Bicycle on Rt 33 but I did not know how to get there from where I was. I asked a lady who was in her driveway and she gave me directions. Once I got to Rt33 I could not find the store so I made a quick phone call and discovered that I had already been by the shop but that it was hidden from my view.

I had been planning on replacing the rear tire anyways so I had the shop put on two new Continental 4000s. They were not busy yet and started work right away. 30 minutes later I was on my way. I ended up riding 62 miles on the Langster. I went longer than I planned because I thought that Sunday (today) was going to be another rainy day. I had my head around having a lazy Sunday (no rides) and getting a workout at the gym.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up to the sun shining. I was going to be forced to ride. I slept in a longer than I usually would have and then made myself breakfast. The sun was still shining so I changed into my riding clothes and got the Langster ready to go. The sky was very weird. Half of it was blue and sunny. The other half was dark and threatening. Kind of could go either way. I decided that it was not a good day to get too far away from the house. So I made Sunday in a hill training day.

I started riding loops around Takolusa Drive. It is a long step hill. I ended up doing 4 laps and then I ventured down Telegraph to take a lap around Lucent and then hit Catbird Alley. A I was riding around Lucent the wind picked up and the sunny/blue sky was much smaller I decided I should head home. I did a quick trip up Catbird and then pointed toward home. I just made since the rain started to come down just as I was putting the bike away.

20 miles is not bad considering I was not planning on getting any riding done. I also got to the gym in the evening. I also got to watch the Giro recap and Sunday Stage Show on Versus network. Of course I fell asleep.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Ride with the Independent Group

I went joined the Thursday evening ride that starts in Holmdel Park. Riding my single speed Langster with a bunch full road bikes is a real challenge. I notice that my rythym is much different than the other riders. With 20 plus gears the other riders can smooth out the terrain. With my one gear I have to look a head and I often have to make a charge so that I can keep pace on uphills. Since I do not like to get dropped and I do not want the other riders spending a lot of time waiting for me (it is a no drop A ride) it is a more intense workout than when I ride by myself.

Since Thursday isthe hill climb day it was easier for me to stay in line. On Tuesday's ride I lost steam at the end and got out of line. I could not get on to the back of line and it was all over for me. On the the rides I get dropped on some of the longer down hills because I spin out. However, on the climbs the other riders cannot line up as easily and I tend to be able to keep the pace or even lead.

However, as I write this I am debating whether I should run over to the Peddler and purchase the 2008 Tarmac Comp that is sitting on the sales floor (at least I think it is still there). The problem is that I am also thinking I might be better off with the Giant TCR A0. The other part of me thinks I should just stay with the Langster.

Making things worse was the fact that one of the riders showed up on Thursday with a brand new Specialized Tarmac Pro SL2. He had picked the bike up on Wednesday and only had 48 miles on the bike. A very nice bike. There is just something about the Tarmac that appeals to me. However, I would like a full Campy Record on an Italian frame but I have other things to spend my money on these days.

Now if I could only justify using the gas to get over there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The new Sport Utility Vehicle in the US (Specialzied Langster/Burley Nomad Trailer)

Since the sinking US Dollar (USD) is causing a bull commodities market and driving the price of oil to record levels on a daily basis the new SUV is going to be as pictured above. Of course there is a story behind this rig and it is worth reading even if you are not a bike freak.

As much as I would like to have a new Honda Ridgeline I am thinking of putting together a similar setup instead and getting a couple more years out of my 1999 Infiniti G20. Unfortunately I cannot stomach the idea of turning my 2007 Langster into a commuter. Maybe I can get a 2008 Langster Seattle (pictured below) to pull the Burley Nomad. Add a set of Shimano PD-M324 Pedals and the total estimated cost of the errand runner is $1175. Based on the current cost of fuel in New Jersey it would take about 1 year to recover the initial investment. If I use my 10 year old Trek 880 my payback time will be much less. Although I would not be nearly as excited.

One of the problems that exists with going in this direction is that the US suburbs are were planned around relatively inexpensive energy costs and heavy use of the automobile. Using my area (Holmdel/Middletown, New Jersey) as an example it would be easy from a distance perspective to run to Target, A&P, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble. Any of these places are not more than 2 to 3 miles from my house. On the weekends I am at A&P at least 3 times each day.

Specialized Bikes sent me an email this week informing me that it is Bike to Work Week. With energy prices at an all time high this just makes sense. Even if you are not convinced that Global Warming is real it is obvious that reducing the amount carbon in the air we breath is a good idea. Maybe it should be expanded to Bike to the Grocery Store week as well.

I want to head over the Peddler to look at the 52 Tarmac they have on the showroom floor. Maybe I will look at getting a Burley Nomad as well. I just have to convince myself to spend the gas money to drive there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rode the Tuesday Evening Independent Ride

It was nice riding with others last week so I decided to try the Independent Bike Group again. The Tuesday ride is a faster ride on a somewhat flat course with some rolling hills. I met the group last year but did not ride with them because I was worried about going out on an A ride with a single speed. I did not want to end up being the person that everyone is waiting for (I hate getting dropped).

Since I have put in a lot of mileage since I bought the Langster in June of 2007 and I rode consistently over the winter I figured I was in good shape. If I did get dropped it would be at the end and I could limp home. Plus I figured it is always cool to do something different.

When other riders notice that I am riding a single speed the first question is usually why? In fact that was a question I would have asked as well last year. The main reason for me was I was looking for something that would provide a good cardio workout and be less stress on my body than running. I also could not decide what kind of road bike I wanted and at $600 the Langster was price right.

I enjoyed the ride with the Independent Group and I found myself ride much better in a group. All together I rode just under 40 miles which is one of the longest after work rides I have ever had. I did get dropped twice at the end. It appears that the group goes out easy in the beginning and hammers on the way the back. When I am riding by myself I usually go out hard in the beginning and limp home at the end.

I am going to try and go out with the group on Thursday and do the hill training.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thursday Evening Ride with the Independent Bike Group

I was going to take yesterday off from riding but the weather broke around 5:30 PM. Since I knew that today (Friday) was not going to be too nice I decided to take the opportunity to get a ride in. I was originally planning to just stay in Holmdel but I remembered that it was Thursday so I decided to swing by Holmdel Park to see if the Independent Riding Group was meeting up. I was expecting that the parking lot would be empty but I was surprised to see a couple of riders waiting for some others to show up.

Since I am my single speed Langster I was not sure if I was ready to go out with the A riders. However, of the 4000 miles that I have put on the Langster at least 3800 have been done by myself so I thought a little company might be nice. I was told that it was going to be a hill climb day. Since I usually ride most of the hills in the area I figured I would be OK.

It ended up being a fun ride. I do have to work on my group ride skills. I am not very comfortable in the middle of the pace line. I ended up hanging out at the back. Luckily the other riders are much better. I almost ran into a line of deer sprinting across the yards. Since I was head down in the middle of a climb I did not notice the deer running along side of me. I might have missed the first deer but the 4 following would have definitely ran me over.

I noticed that the cars had there head lights on and I need to leave enough time to get back home so I took a left onto Telegraph Hill Road and made my way home. The rest of the group went up to Cat Bird Alley to get one last climb in before heading back to Holmdel Park. All together I got about 25 miles. Not too bad since I was expecting to get 0 miles in.

If I am not traveling next week I might try to meet up with the group on either Tuesday or Thursday next week.