Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life - Pre-Winter and Winter Projects

So... it's been a while since I've put up a post of any recent events. I didn't realize how much stuff I let fall by the wayside while I rode and raced through the summer. Then, after Interbike, I got to business.

And rarely came up for air.

I have a few projects, separated handily into two categories: "pre-winter" and "winter".

"Pre-winter" projects tend to get some priority since they imply that they need to get done before winter. And I define winter in a couple different ways. For cars it's definitely when it snows enough to put down salt on the roads. It's kinda sorta winter when it's at or below freezing during commuting hours.

For bikes it's when I need to wear tights when I ride, or when I need to use lights to get even an hour ride in after work.

My biggest pre-winter project involves my winter car. Obviously a winter car can't be a winter car if it's not running. Or, more specifically, not rolling.

My winter car, a great little red car, is currently floating (with assistance) about a foot off the ground. It has a front suspension, about 90% of a rear suspension, and is missing massive amounts of body work towards the rear of the car. For example...

Rust and cracking bondo under that red paint. This is the right side.

I don't want to admit it but the left side is a LOT worse. A lot. And what I don't want to mention is that the rear bumper is also off, there's some damage under that, and, well, the rear suspension is also kind of in pieces.

I also have fenders for the front, a hood, radio antenna, and some other stuff that's kind in need of replacement. I may wait on a lot of that stuff just to get the car back in driveable condition - means suspension in place and bodywork not very hole-y.

The good thing is that it starts and runs great!

Initial cuts reveal thick bondo all over the quarter panel, some rust damage inside.
Bondo was well done - didn't know it was there until it cracked due to corrosion underneath.

Cut matched to repair panel. I'll make do with this I think.

Repair panel held in place.
I was initially thinking welding it all, but I decided I'll do the easier thing and epoxy it in place.

I need to have the car on the road in the next month, so that'll be my days off. The bay where it sits has no power, no heat, so I'm using generators and I may have to use a propane heater. Hey, it's just like Bethel of days past!

Another winter project, although kind of ongoing, is weather proofing the house. I did some of it the other day, going around and cleaning out the gutters. But in the past winters we've found some "cold spots" in the house, little detail areas overlooked when it came to insulation and such. Some cold spots include a closet downstairs, the ceiling over the "isthmus-like"dining room (which, I have to admit, is pretty warm today after I added R30 worth of insulation over it last winter), some crawl space details, and weatherstripping around the main door.

We also want to curtain the house - the uncovered windows make you feel cold just looking at them. Some thermal liners will start the job, with some colorful curtains completing the yet-to-be-completed-since-we-moved-here window decoration.

In addition, the closed door bike room (don't want cats sticking paws in rotating wheels and such) means a "C" shaped air flow chamber in the basement, versus an "O" shaped one (the closed door chops the far end of the "O" in two). Since I'm fascinated with air flow and such (like aerodynamics, cars, bikes, stuff like that), I've felt this incredible urge to put vents and such in either the doors, the walls, or both, so that the C becomes an O again.

As a bonus, since the bike room gets warm, the basement should get warmer. And I should be cooler on the bike - I'm using two huge fans right now to get the air moving in the closed chamber bike room.

Of course there's the forever monkey on my back - the Bethel Spring Series. That project starts just about... last week (if you want the details right). That needs to be underway long before the first snowstorm hits.

That brings us to winter...

I separate the winter projects from the "pre-winter" projects simply because the pre-winter stuff has to get done first. After those early things get done (or not done), there are some "winter" projects. These include those projects where you bundle up, hunker down, and get stuff down while the blizzard storms around outside. I have a few of those too.

First is to revamp the Carpe Diem Racing website. I borrowed some time by using Blogger to put up the last couple years' sites, but now I figure is a good time to go and do the site "on my own" again. It won't be earth shattering, but with a Mac anything should be possible, right?


So, for 2011, I'd like to have a simple site created on a Mac.

It would be nice, too, if the site worked with a mobile browser. So I plan on making a super simple site that would make it possible for folks with smartphones to check out the site. I didn't realize the magnitude of the differences until I recently started fiddling with a smartphone.

Another winter project, with an expected start time of late this month, is ordering a second Tsunami frame. I'm calling it a winter project because the build will happen in the winter. The easy part, for me, will happen now. This will be my primary bike next year if things go well, and I'll need to have it by earlier January. I don't want to spend three long days building it like I did last year - I'd rather have it for a couple weeks. This means getting the communication gear revved up for the refinements I want for the Tsunami 2.0.

I obviously have some ideas in mind for this frame, so I'll need to discuss it with the builder to see what's realistic, what's not, and what things I'm missing in my brainstorming. I've been thinking about this since, oh, about May of this year, so it's not like I haven't had time to try and think things through.

For racing I'm also thinking towards next year. As a newly minted 2, I'll be in the last percentile of experience and strength, so I'm looking for any possible advantage I can use to improve my riding. Fitness-wise I'm pretty close to tapped out - I can't get oodles better, not at this point. I mean, yeah, I might pick up 10 or 20 or even 50 watts FTP, but that would put me solidly in the Cat 4 numbers, not Cat 2 numbers.

Face it, I'm not going to be picking up 150 or 200 watts FTP. It's just not going to happen. So I need to use what I have.

Therefore I need to optimize what I have. This means strategy, of course, but also equipment. I don't have any major developments in store for next year, but I'll be experimenting with some stuff so that, if they work out, I'll be used to using this (new to me) equipment by the time races roll around.

I'll also be refining things. One thing is bike efficiency. This year it took anywhere from 3 to 15 watts simply to turn the cranks - the bearings were awfully tight, and when I initially built the bike, it took a good 7 watts on average to turn the cranks. If I spun like mad (with the chain derailled on purpose) I could hit 15 watts, but I'm using 7 as the number because I'd see that number at reasonable rpms, like 80 rpm or so.

Late in 2010, when someone questioned the number, I checked again, but then my power meter was on the fritz. However the crank didn't index around the clock like it did before, so it's probably closer to 1-2 watts to rotate (it still stops within 1/2 pedal revolution if you spin the unchained crank).

I plan on honing out the BB shell, installing new bearings if necessary, and getting that 1-2 watt number down to zero. The new frame should be at zero also.

I'll be using some different equipment too, and I'll see how that affects my riding. You'll see my experiments in action if I find they work out with no negatives in my experiments. In other words, even if the benefit seems minor, if it doesn't adversely affect my riding, I'll take the benefit.

With that I think it's time to head out to the garage and the red car. The other day it was 33 degrees (the blue car told me it was "icy" and its summer tires had wood-like traction), and a customer noticed a tiny snowflake.

Winter can't be too far away.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmm......Pre-winter checklist;

Aki said...

First I need to get permission from the town. Then I go for everything else. Letter is all printed out, just need to sign and mail.