Sunday, February 28, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 7 - Non-Road Bikes

Conclusion to the series, almost.

I own all but the first "SR" frame, the 2.8, the Traveller III (sold to a distressed person, i.e. homeless, through shop for $20), and the Dawes (ditto but I sold it for $40 I think).

One track bike which I bought in 1988? I think. Or 1987. Put it together just in time for the first 2 races in 1992, raced again in 2008-2009, and will race it again this year. A Riggio lead pipe frame (7 lbs frame/fork/headset, and it's a 99 gram Omas headset).

Almost current iteration of the track bike.

Mountain bikes:

Trek something sort of free (XTR rear, Avid cantis, 9s?, Manitou fork). I got the latter in exchange for my TT bike.

The frame lived here for literally years.

When I say "lived", I mean "lived". I literally didn't pull it down for years.

One day I did, went for a ride.

After a cold ride.

I used road pedals because I rode on the road. SPD-Rs, and I believe it was the original ride in the winter Sidis I own. Problem is I bought the shoes a size big, but Sidi makes them big so you can wear warm socks. I haven't used the shoes since.

The hats and leg reflector confirm it was very cold out, probably close to dark. No lights though.

I learned (and recalled) some stuff I allegedly knew before. First, the bottle cage rivnut is loose, so no bottles in that cage. Second, the middle ring is so bent the chain won't sit on it. And finally there's a broken spoke in the rear wheel. I just trued it enough so the tire didn't hit the rim.

That's how I've left the bike.

The bike as it was a couple years ago. Note the Keos on there.

When I got the bike I cut down the bars an extra couple inches, put on a longer stem, and put on my pedals. That's the extent of the modifications.

I really like the WTB saddle, and if I could get a light version for the road bike, I would.

Outfitted for road riding in the winter.

Full fenders.

Lots of gear.

Finally: The Tsunami.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 6 - Temporary Digs

I built up a lot of bikes I either didn't like, didn't ride much, or sold off after a short time:

1987?: Panasonic DX 5000. This was a complete bike, but I bought only the frameset - a guy at the shop bought the rest of the bike. Panasonic used Tange Prestige tubing, with ultra thin 0.7/0.5/0.7 mm top tube wall thicknesses in the top tube. This made for a reasonably light frameset, but man was it noodly. The first time I did sprints on it, I thought the BB shell was broken. I stopped twice, checked for cracks and such, and realized that's the way it was.

I optimistically brought the bike to school, looking to do long "Euro" rides in the off-season. You know, like pros do - ride the soft bike for long distances, save the crit bike for short rides. The noodly frame would work well with the frost heaved roads. Only problem was I was only 2 hours away from home, and the roads here weren't any worse than those at home. The Cannondale climbed better and therefore became the default choice.

I sold the frame for a pittance to a friend Kevin F. He promptly crashed it, bending the top and down tubes. He gave me the frame back in case I could fix it. I kept it for almost two decades before I gave it to an enterprising frame builder.

This was to be my "winter" bike, or my "Classics" bike. Note uncut bars on TT bike in foreground.

1988: Nishiki TT bike, 51 cm? I bought this because I "needed" a time trial bike. 105 downtube shifters, cowhorns, 24" front wheel, I think it was $400 complete. I upgraded a lot of it, painted it, etc. Never went much faster though, max TT was 25 or 26 mph on a 7 mile flat course. We did a bit better in a couple collegiate TTTs, 28ish. It was fun to ride though.

Curiously enough I ran into the guy who sold me the bike at the beginning of 2010. I mentioned the bike and his face lit up. He remembered the Nishiki 105 TT bike blow out specials.

The TT bike in the window.

I wore that blue/black thing hanging on the window - it's a cotton beret. I used to wear it everywhere.

Yeah, I don't know either.

Unrideable.

The front disk caught some wind and took me across a full lane of road at 30 mph. I was riding down 195 into UCONN, passing the Towers dorms. I almost walked the bike home to Hilltop. Aerolite pedals.

Record setting bike for me. Pedals were for goofin' around, I normally raced on Aerolites.

Note the extreme chain angle as the chain goes back - the derailleur I had on this bike was almost the best for pulling up the chain to the cogs. It looks like I have a 9T small cog, doesn't it?

I did a 16:28 for 7 miles, or 25.5 mph, on the bike above (black frame configuration). This was my absolute record speed in a time trial. Disk wheel (OTC prototype apparently), 24 inch 24 hole front M17 rim with a 17mm Panaracer tire and a Specialized hub (Superbe Pro like), bladed spokes, 100k Scott TT bars.

I traded this bike, with the disk and three front wheels, for a Trek mountain bike. Go figure.

1996?: Specialized Allez Carbon. Noodly too. Sold it to a girl (16 yr old employee's gf's friend, and she was 16 so a "girl") who wanted to race. I don't think she raced but she liked to hang out with her racer friends. Alas, no pictures. But it was a beautiful frameset, beautiful deep translucent red.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 5 - Post Actual Size

This part of the bike timeline has to do with my boomerang, first leaving Cannondale, then rediscovering the brand.

I had a good friend with a Specialized M2, and I decided to get a matching bike.

1995: Specialized M2 S-Works, same parts as the red bike. Peak wheel count at this time = about 30 pairs of wheels. Rider weight approximately 142-145 lbs. Max speed on this bike - over 64 mph, my highest ever on any bike.

I returned to 170s on this bike. Take-off cranks, actually, cranks that a customer told us he didn't want. He sponsored our team for a couple years, and, trust me, he didn't need the old cranks.

The original Campy Vento wheels, higher spoke count versions of the original Shamals. They weighed a ton but were strong, fast, reliable, and stiff. Well, until you hit a sunken manhole cover at 45 mph while drafting an 18-wheeler.

Note the Scott Rakes optimistically installed on the bike. Setup with mountain bike pedals (winter time, and I wore insulated mountain bike shoes), a single shop bottle, and a white saddle I still have and use. You can see the N-Gear Jump Stop as well, peeking out from behind the small ring. I've tried to install one on every bike I've had since I discovered them.

I figure I took this picture in the winter, or before some big road race. By the time summer rolled around I'd usually have given up on the Rakes, I'd put on a second cage, and some trusty old aero wheels ended up on my bike. The white saddle, the heavy wheels, they all scream "steady speed efforts".

Winter, in other words.

Or not:

The M2 in angry mood. Picture by GMF. Zipp 340 front, the ever trusty TriSpoke rear.

14 cm stem, crit bars, and Ergo levers. This would be an 8 speed bike. I can't believe he caught me in the middle of the field, at a perfect moment. By now I was running SPD-Rs (the non-Look Shimano pedal) and Sidis. My weight would have been in the mid 140s.

With Mike K at Ninigret Park, RI.

This was earlier in the day from the picture above. Some optimism still shows in our faces. The actual race didn't work out so well.

This was our era of "professional Cat 3 racer" lives. We'd train after the shop closed for the night (Mike worked there too), ride, then spend an hour or two overhauling our bikes.

Repeat each evening.

Crazy.

A tough moment in a tough race. Keith Berger is on my wheel. The Punisher, at the front, is punishing me for beating him at the Tour de Pump.

Unbelievably that's the first turn at Bethel. The dirt lot behind is now a parking lot for a big building housing Navone Studios. One of the Sleepy Hollow riders from this story sits behind Keith.

The M2's claim to fame? I left the original spec headset in place (sold off the rest of the bike to finance the frame/fork purchase). I figured the round bearing headset would be good for a few months and then it'd be toast. I started planning on my cool Chris King headset purchase. Only one problem.

I never needed to replace it.

In fact, it's still good.

Anyone need a threaded 1" headset? Good condition.

Yeah, I still have the frame and fork. I finally cracked the right chainstay and had to retire the frame.

2000?: Giant ONCE TCR, size Med, Campy 9s Daytona (before it changed name) build kit. The kit had Chorus cranks among other things. Claim to fame: built on my washer and dryer. I also weighed 203+ at some point while I raced this bike.

The Giant had the first threadless headset system for me. I hated that system for a long time - it was hard coming off of the Specialized headset, one that never needed anything. The threadless wasn't so hands-free.

The laundry folding table.

I built the bike on the washer and dryer.

I'm not sure why I took pictures of the build but I did.

Almost done.

Closer up of "almost done".

After the build. No tape because I'd ride the bike on the trainer before I wrapped the bars.

Interestingly enough, that's the saddle I have on the Tsunami, right now. In 2010.

An early, heavy race. Years later, when I saw this picture, I actually wondered who was wearing the green kit. The missus wondered how I got into the kit, it was so tight on me. My friend Greg.

I weighed about 200 lbs and lasted maybe 4 minutes in the first race that year. I won a field sprint later in the Series. It's amazing what a little racing will do for the legs.

I rode Spinergy wheels for a long time, promoting the brand because I wanted to do so. My friend worked for them and I have a passing acquaintance with the actual inventor (I've mentioned him earlier in this bike timeline series - he helped design the original Cannondale race frame). If only they'd have refined them a bit, with no UCI meddling (like the 16 spoke minimum rule), I think the wheels could have been great. They had a lot of potential, but, ultimately they were only "medium".

A current wheel guru said that he wished he had that tensioned spoke patent. Those are some significant words coming from the guru in question.

Within a year or so I'd ditched the red stem in favor of one by Ritchey WCS. I haven't used a non-Ritchey stem since (except on the tandem).

The Giant had a 55.5 top tube with a 73 degree head tube. It was the first bike I ever raced that had a 73 degree head angle - the other frames were crippled with anywhere from a 70.5 to 72 head angle. The 73 made me feel like I could slalom around little gravel stones while sprinting full bore.

I cracked the chainstay on the first one. I got another and fell hard when I unclipped sprinting out of a corner of a crit. I'd loosened my SPD-Rs so I could unclip without hammering on my shoe with my fist, but I'd loosened them too much. I gouged the top tube so relegated the frame to indoor use.

Hammering with my fist didn't seem too bad after that.

Claim to fame for that crash? The first one the missus kinda sorta witnessed. She didn't witness the crash. She did wonder where I was in the field when the field went by the start/finish line. She didn't see me because hen it went by her I was crawling off the road, onto some broken glass of all things, a few hundred meters away.

I got up, got to the pits, got a sympathetic grin from the original Bethel Spring Series official (he was the pit official), and got back in the race. A bent chain link meant I couldn't stand in any gear, and my road rash started getting uncomfortable. I sat up, my gears skipping, my chain about to fail.

I rode back to the missus, bleeding from various spots around my body.

That's when the missus realized how hard I'd gone down.

I visited the ambulance and got a bit bandaged up. I'd forgotten how much road rash stung - the last time I'd gotten road rash was back in the early-mid 90s.

As I lost weight I started yearning for a lower bar position. The tall head tube on the size Medium Giant worked for my heavy self, but even 10 pounds less and I felt like I was on a mountain bike. I bought a Ritchey adjustable stem and pointed the stem down all the way. It didn't seem right, to need to do that.

So I searched and searched for a frame that would let me connect the dots (cranks-saddle-bars) without too much weirdness.

I retired the frame after taking a lot of measurements one winter and finally finding a frame that would work. I can't find the pictures, but I Sharpied the frame with all sorts of cryptic markings. Using advanced plane geometry (for me anyway) I realized that I could replicate my saddle-bar relationship on a size S Giant. So size S it was. The yellow Giant would be retired.

Hanging in the basement.

2005: Giant TCR Carbon, Small, Campy 10s Record/Chorus. Minimum weight of rider 175, max 198? lbs. Reynolds DV46 tubulars for race day, some clinchers for training.

I upgraded the drivetrain to 10s towards the end of one of the Bethel Spring Series. I'd been struggling in the races, but on the first day on the 10s I won the field sprint. I joked that if I upgraded the whole bike I'd win my next race.

I used Eurus exclusively for a while - the only 10s wheels I had.

I used carbon 175 cranks for a while, eventually replacing them with Campy Record cranks for their lower Q factor (i.e. the crank was narrower overall, making the pedals closer to the centerline of the bike.)

I got the tubular DV46s in preparation for the 2005 Bethel Spring Series. Combined with a long training camp in California, with a prior one in Florida, I was flying in the Series. I finally won it on the last day.

2006: Giant TCR Aluminum, Small, Campy 10s R/C (back up for carbon TCR above). I rarely rode this, disassembled it to steal parts (just the stem, post, and bars) for the Cannondale and then the Tsunami.

My 2006 California training camp. Note the squared off road bars - this meant I wasn't working on my sprint at all. My host Rich is with me. I borrowed the missus's wheels for the trip.

I loved the feel of the size Small Giant, and when I spec'ed out the Tsunami, I used the Giant's seat tube as the basis for my seat tube requests. It's 4 cm shorter than the carbon Giant, measuring 40 cm to the top of the top tube, 44 cm to the top of the seat tube.

I had to change the fork - the original Giant fork wasn't good over 45-50 mph. Seemed a bit flexible.

The two Giants at Bethel. The aluminum one is the lighter colored one with the white saddle. Note the Reynolds Ouzo fork on the aluminum bike.

Let's transition back to the carbon Giant because, although I bought the aluminum one later, I rode the carbon one the most. And, towards the end of its career, I made a significant change to the bike.

Power.

Carbon. From this post. The Coke bottle is upside down, a trick I learned from a visiting Rabobank rider (visiting the area, not me).

The Giant had the first ever powermeter I owned - a PowerTap. Once I had power I never looked back. I started looking for a crank based power system after I realized that I would need to buy four or five PT hubs to rebuild my wheels, and that one or two of them would be impossible to build with a PT hub (the 21 spoke Eurus, the "no-spoke" TriSpoke, and my 20 spoke Reynolds).

I found an awesome deal on an SRM. It was about $1k more than the cost of the power system, but it came with a free SystemSix frame, Fulcrum 1 wheels, and a Record build kit.

Yeah, it was a System Six team replica SRM Record bike. I called the missus to feel out how she felt about me buying the thing.

Her response?

She wondered why I hadn't already done a "Buy It Now".

2007: Cannondale SystemSix, 52 cm frame, SRM/Record 10s. Post, stem, bars from the aluminum Giant above. DV46 clincher wheels to replace the stock Fulcrum 1s.

Bike as set up shortly after it went together, with the Reynolds clinchers.

Initially I set up the bike with one of my trusty Ritchey stems, crit bars, trusty Thomson post, and a yearned-for Reynolds DV46 clincher wheelset (to perfectly match my DV46 tubulars).

Then, after a year on the stock 170s, I moved back to 175s. Immediately felt better for certain races. Immediately felt worse for others. I think starting the season on 175s is best for me, moving to 170s for the faster, warmer part of the year.

That's about where I've been for the last couple years.

And now?

The Tsunami.

(You'll have to wait a bit for that post since I haven't done a post-test ride post on it.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 4 - Actual Size #3

Note: Croce D'Aune rear derailleur, empty bar end shifter (else bar would be too short), Aerolite pedals, FiR rims, DEAN post.

I had a third Actual Size bike, but nowhere near the decals compared even to #2.

1992: Cannondale 2.8 frame, Campy Ergo (Athena/Chorus, the lowest available group). I got way into aero wheels in this stage, using Zipps and TriSpoke/HED3s. I usually ran Zipp 340s for their light weight, but I'd revert to the aero wheels for road races (for time trialing once I got dropped). Approx 135 lbs for the rider. Bike weight about 17 lbs with box section 280s, my lightest bike for a long time. Sprint speeds regularly hit 46 mph at SUNY Purchase and first sprint at Gimbles (Route 120 sprint). I think I was the best on this bike, meaning most fit. Crashed it 4x in 5 weeks, frame was curved, tossed it for some reason. Well, technically asked friend to toss it, since it was in her car and she was driving out to Michigan to ride and race with us.

A break in an early and cold Bethel.

Ninigret Park. P-1-2-3 crit. Much warmer.

I told everyone that the second break always works at Ninigret. The first always seems like it'll work, but it always gets caught. The second one always goes away.

In the picture above, that's the second break going up the road in the background.

Yeah.

I missed it.

Providence Crit.

In Providence we raced on the original course, down the hill from the Capitol building. Flat, lots of corners, two wheel pits. It was in the high 80s in temperature and humidity. I had a hot dog and a large Coke just before the race, both bought from a street vendor about 100 yards from this corner.

My teammate Kevin had a lunch too - he ended up getting sick during the race and dropping out.

I dropped one bottle on the first lap, my other on the second lap. I thought I'd just go "another few laps", overheated and crampy. Every few laps I'd give myself another goal, another 5 laps. Towards the end I decided I'd try to finish. I ended up second, barely out of first. I watched the winner go up the road and thinking, "Hey, Steve can win this, I'll make sure no one goes."

Then, a moment later, "Waitaminute, I'm not on his team!"

I went after him. He beat me in the bike throw.

An attack through New Canaan during the Tour de Pump race.

Our team (Carpe Diem Racing) had stacked the field in this race. I had a few teammates looking me, with only a few serious guys trying to spoil our fun.

This was the only race where I won with both hands in the air.

You can see the disgusted pose of the guy in second. He opened up the sprint early, really early, and I thought the line would never come. But when I saw him sit up I knew I had it. I don't know his name so I'll call him Punisher. You'll see what I mean in the next post.

My first ever winner jersey.

Next up: The Post-Shop years.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 3 - Actual Size #2

1989: Actual Size #2, Cannondale 3.0 frame. Back then Cannondale made only one version of the 3.0, with a big "crit" downtube for stiffness. I used a disk wheel semi regularly (I still had the TT bike).

When I saw my first pictures of the "cantilever" rear dropout, something really clicked. It had to do with the whole big gear look. I always thought that a bike looked cool if it had a big gear. A big chainring, a small cog. To accentuate the look, the rear derailleur had to be as short as possible, so that the chain would not be parallel when the bike sat in its biggest gear. For an illustration of this look down at the picture of the bike on the roof of the car.

I actually selected rear derailleurs for years based on this one feature. Without any indexed shifting, I could use any rear derailleur. So I selected them based on first, how close the upper pulley came to the cogs, and second, how far up the lower part of the chain came up to get to the lower pulley.

I had a lot of firsts on this bike - first (of many) 54T big ring, first 167.5 cranks, first tubular welded steel stem, first 3ttt crit bar 41cm c-c. Standing start max speed in one gear (54x12) = 42 mph. Top speed at SUNY Purchase and the Gimbles ride (Route 120 midway sprint) - 46 mph regularly. Max recorded sprint speed 48 mph.

At speed, just after the sprint line at SUNY Purchase. A friend of the team/shop took this picture. I was disappointed that I didn't break 42 mph that night.

The 3.0 was the second and last full iteration ("wrapped" in decals) of the Actual Size bikes. I still feel an affinity to this bike, and I still want to assemble the 1989 Cdale 3.0 as I have most of the parts around still. I might have tossed the Cinelli saddle, I only have a few sets of wheels from that era, but the drivetrain is mainly intact.

Glastonbury, the Great American Cafe Crit, just after I was done with UCONN.

I felt great racing here, in all different ways. First, I had the stress of UCONN done - I had finished finals just before, long enough to recover from my lack of sleep. I felt great on the bike. I had glow in the dark bar tape (really!). I had a great supportive team, which included a bunch of my best friends. And I'd just broken free of a negative relationship. It all gelled here in this race.

A 0.4 mile course, we zipped around the 7 turn course like we were on go-karts. You could barely pedal on all but one stretch. A break of 4 went up the road, gaining 10-15 seconds. I attacked just before the bell and almost caught the break at the line. With a bit more confidence in myself I'd have caught and overhauled them. It was the beginning of a fruitful season of racing.

Ironically, last summer, we ate near this plaza after the Tuesday night Rentschler Field races.

Pushing the pace at the season closing Oyster Bay Crit. Note the toe-straps in addition to the Aerolites. Note also my long hair!

This was the year of Belgium. I was on fire the whole year. Here I'm driving the pace, impatient at 30-32 mph because it felt so slow. Soooo slow. I finished 4th after taking a decent solo lead with 6 laps to go. I thought about my 28 mph pace and decided it was about 2-3 mph slower than what I needed to win. I totally sat up, and when it took the chasing field a half lap to catch me I started to rethink my decision. It was too late though, and, because I jumped too late, I only got 4th. I won $120. The guy that won the race? $900.

Crap. For $900 I would have buried myself. But I didn't know.

This picture is actually out of order - I had wrecked my red Actual Size bike (#3) and returned to the original one for a while.

The bike on my cross country trip, outside Salt Lake City. Note the extreme upward chain angle, even in the big cog.

Ever since I'd seen the Tears for Fears video of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", I wanted to go on a cross country trip. I made it a few years later.

Note 600AX brake levers and Scott Drop In bars. These indicated the bike was in "winter mode", with wider, squared off bars. In the summer I had narrower crit bend bars on the bike.

The frame today.

A little forlorn with a cut up cable.

Bella wondering what new thing popped up in the dining area.

Carpe Diem Racing was the name of the red-white team. I carry on the name with the Bethel Spring Series website, my bikeforums name, and whatever else I feel deserves it. Although we voted on it, Carpe Diem Racing was my nomination for our race team. I feel proud of that.

Under the top tube.

Moon over Marin refers to the Dead Kennedys song. Jello Biafra came to UCONN while I was there, to "talk". Although his speech was a let down, the song, as they say, remains the same.

Sparse decals on the stays, at least compared to Actual Size #1.

"Less Than Zero" was a huge, huge movie for me. "To Live and Die in LA" too. In those formative years I wasn't sure what the future held, and, combined with my college angst, my angst-ridden relationship, I found myself drawn to some intense-to-me mood-evoking movies, music, and videos.

Cheshire Crit

Colin, the son of the guy that started the Bethel Spring Series, took this picture. It was just after the start, I'd made my patented start line attack, and Colin took the shot. He gave me the picture later, telling me that although I may not have won (I got 6th - Colin's 52 year old dad killed me in the sprint) "at least I looked good".

A side-note on this particular Cheshire Crit. There was this one BRNO Velo guy that kept attacking. He got a huge gap once, maybe a minute, maybe more, and it took some really hard riding to bring him back. Then he went again, gaining a little less time, but requiring yet another intense effort to bring him back. He sat up before the sprint, done, but he'd earned my respect the hard way. After the race I found out who he was, with his distinctive baby blue Colnago with the seat stays crossing the seat tube and anchored in the top tube.

For many years later I would see him at the races, and I could never forget his unrelenting attacks in Cheshire. We'd talk and I would always remind him of that day. No matter what his form was on that particular day, he was totally on fire that one day. Totally.

Kurt Marino died of a brain anneurism at the beginning of an MS ride in NYC in 2005.

(Pause for a moment.)

Next up: Actual Size #3

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 2 - Actual Size #1

Presenting Actual Size #1.

(As noted earlier, I stored my bikes in the window at school. I took this picture in my dorm room, probably my freshman year. I stored my bikes there, and I had a lot of bikes up there over the four years I lived in Hilltop at UCONN. Note the very ubiquitous 80s boombox. Also the Danish cookie tin on the sill - it's light blue with a white rim.)

The second part of the bike time line deals with the Actual Size bikes.

1987: A second Cannondale SR frame after the first one broke (non-replaceable dropouts on the early Cannondale frames). I got the blue frame pretty quickly (perhaps the same day?) and after long evening of work, I had a new bike.

At this point I'd upgraded to Aerolite pedals and a bar end shifter. I'd started thinking myself as more a sprinter, less a climber. This means I had already gotten lapped (!!) on the 5k State Road Race course in Ledyard, CT (our race for Juniors was 20 laps, 100k, 62 miles). I realized I couldn't climb to save my life, even though I was a skinny kid. But I could jump. I started changing the perception I had of my riding inclinations.

Sad bike, broken dropout.

A long evening of work later.

Same parts except I installed a right side bar end and various random Suntour/Shimano rear derailleurs (no indexing yet so I could mix brands freely).

I had a Superbe Pro crankset there, probably 170s. I used them for a while, the last of my 170s for a long time. The next cranks I got were on sale, Campy Super Record 167.5s. And when I started doing well in races on them, I bought a few sets as backups. It would be the mid-late 90s before I wore out my last set of 167.5s.

I put the rear brake on backwards because... I could. I thought it was cool. I had a tire saver sticking out the back - a little gizmo that rubbed the tire lightly to "wipe it off", also known as a tire saver.

Once I went back to school I spent a lot of winter evenings and nights plastering decals all over my bike.

Like all over the bike.

Very "80's". Two watches, stickers, leather gloves. Don't ask, as they say.

This picture was taken at Limerock Race Park, going up the little hill. Picture is 1987 I think, so I'm maybe 110 lbs. I'm pretty sure I got shelled. One year I got into a 4 man break which included one teammate. We led by 10 seconds with one lap to go. As we got caught I dropped my chain and, unable to unclip, fell over. I rolled over the hill to a scene of chaos. A guy crashed at the front of the field on the 50 mph descent, scattering all but a handful of racers. A Cat 1 quit racing that day, selling his equipment in Velonews for the next year or so. I was lucky to have tried the escape and failing.

I had my "aero" Araya ADX-4 tubular rear wheel, with a box section Campy Crono front rim. In those days the ADX-4 was considered extremely tall and very susceptible to crosswinds. When I laced the same rim up as a front wheel, I got a lot of disapproving looks (and more than a few yells like "that rim will be all over the place in the wind!").

Imagine those riders now, with our 60, 80, and even 100 mm tall rims? Heh.

Incidentally I still have that rim, although it's a 34 hole rim. 32 for the spokes, 1 for the valve, and 1 for the screw that went through my tire and my rim. I think it'll make a good track rim.

In my dorm room. The road bike and mountain bike (the latter was a high bottom bracket Suntour bike - a fun bike).

I've held onto the frame for all these years. I couldn't bear to part with it initially, and later I realized the bike basically had no value. So I kept it.

Right side.

5 cent deposit referred to the fact that this was an aluminum frame, and a lot of steel riding conservatives joked about "Can of Ale" or "Hey, do you get your deposit back when you crash your frame?" This was the first "statement" decal on the bike.

One enterprising guy wrapped cut up Budweiser cans around the downtube. I thought that was perfect.

Not too many riders on steel nowadays. Those "conservative types" are now on carbon. Ironic.

Left side.

"Actual Size" was the second downtube bit I put on the bike, but it resonated with everyone and I kept it. The phrase came from Laurie Anderson's "Home of the Brave". I saw the flick at UCONN and thought the phrase hilarious.

And, no, I wasn't drunk.

I felt an affinity to her performance, although honestly the music was a bit boring for me. She "played" a creative violin - the bow had a section of cassette tape instead of horse hair, and her violin had a tape pick up, so she was basically "scratching" (like a DJ scratches) but using cassette tape instead of vinyl. In other scenes she had lightbulbs on her hands, mics planted around her head (she'd tap her head to make drum-like noises), all sorts of funky things.

Anyway, if you skip forward to 4:31 of this clip, you'll see where I got my inspiration. If you watch the other bits of it, you'll see her playing her violin-cassette-tape-scratch-gizmo. If you think about it, I couldn't have been drunk to have caught that brief moment and to have it burned into my brain.

Up high. The very first independent letters I stuck on - "I XLR8". Heh.

After I bought about a thousand letters just to put "I XLR8" on the back of the stays, I decided to keep sticking stickers here and there. It started out kind of slow, but in the long winter days at school, especially the quiet weekends, I literally spent 4-6 hours at a stretch painstakingly applying the decals one at a time, using a safety pin (I had a bunch in my race stuff drawer), a mechanical pencil tip, or a stretched out paper clip. I found, though, that the slim and precise Swiss Army knife tweezers worked the best.

I'd calculate the length of a word before starting, make sure I had the letters, and go from there. I hated having to remove stickers for misspellings or too-long words - once unstuck they rarely stuck well again.

Lots of stuff on the back, for others to read. The wide Cannondale stays worked well for that function.

"Don't Fall On Me", an appropriately titled song by REM.

More... The orange reflective decals were for my night rides. Blinkies didn't exist back then.

Lots of little personal jokes. "Opus" was ostensibly the penguin in Bloom County, but it's also a musical term - I'd run into it a lot in my 12 years of violin study.

The yellow decal is from the Bones Brigades, a Powell-Peralta skate video series. They had some cool bits, like this downhill (Future Primitive), and my favorite song of that particular tape. If you look at the yellow decal carefully, it says "Skate and Destroy" (skip to 2:15 for a horrendous little ditty).

(Hint: read it on its side)

The fork received a lot of attention.

Because I detested Shimano so much, I thought it appropriate that I put a Shimano decal on the bike. This was the first decal on the bike. Much later I added "SIS" (Shimano Index System).

Until now I didn't realize I used a lot of acronyms. Ahead of myself I guess. Too ahead - I don't even know what "FLW" means.

Quote.

My friend in high school asked me for help with his yearbook quote. I wanted it to be something where we take what's most important in life and make (ironic) fun of it. Of course it had to fit into the limited space we had for our quotes. At first I thought of life, death, and taxes, but I couldn't make taxes work.

Then I thought we could work in "Love". I'd just learned what that meant in tennis...

As I ran out of idea and stickers (they were expensive, those little letters), I started filling space with anything that worked with the letters I had. Think of a Scrabble game with almost none of the common letters left.

Although the girl's names started out with just my then-girlfriend, eventually I started putting friend's names on the frame. On our dorm floor (Hale 5) we had a bunch of friends from the girl's floors (Hale 2-4-6-8).

The stays got dirty and therefore the individual letters didn't work well. I tried to keep something on there but it was a pain.

Another big influence, Kate Bush.

Hale 5 refers to Hale Hall, 5th floor, at UCONN, where I lived for my four college years. The floor felt like a fraternity - few people left willingly. They either graduated or got kicked out of school. I was part of the former, although I was close to being the latter for a semester.

The pink stripes are an artistically rendered version of the stock Aerolite sticker. I got the idea from a teammate. Get a sticker, cut it into very thin strips, and randomly stick two or three of the pieces upside down. Instant personalized sticker.

Begin the Begin. I became a huge fan of REM in college.

I wanted it seen from the right side, and I didn't have room elsewhere. More Bones Brigades stickers, courtesy my bro and the shop (we sold skate equipment - we all sported Vision Streetwear stuff for a year or two). His influence, and a surplus of the letter "I" meant I put a few Black Flag emblems up (the four "I" decals, slightly staggered to simulate a waving flag).

Remnants of the 80s, like Mad World.

Death Tongue is Bloom County's Opus's Heavy Metal band. Opus played the tuba. The fork, in case you didn't notice, is steel.

"G'Day" is homage to Ken, the kid that helped me get into racing. He taught me the need to suffer, to sacrifice, and to think of the whole, not of myself. I was responsible for my preparation, yes, but my loyalty should always sit with the racing community.

Anyway, in high school he liked starting trends and watching everyone copy him. He wore some gaudy checkered shoes to school one day. A year later everyone had Vans shoes.

One day, in French class, when I couldn't ask him how to go up Wolfpit Road in yet another different way, he decided that we should use the English version of the French "hello", i.e. "bonjour". Since bonjour translates to "good day", we decided to use that greeting whenever we saw each other.

A semester later we'd look at each other and grin when people we didn't really know used that greeting to their friends.

Next up: Actual Size #2