Bike racing, some travel, other junk…..

November 22, 2015

#533: Five CX races

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan @ 20:25

I love cyclocross, but yet, I don’t get out that far.  I guess it is just because I have been traveling and have been generally been traveling more.  Anyway, I did manage to race all 4 of the CX races that I knew of in Memphis (901, Outdoors, Crunk, and Cranksgiving) and another one in LR.

So the tally from this has been pretty mixed.  I am happy with my general technique and mostly okay with my power development on the bike.  The biggest issue has been off the bike, running which is a big deal in several of those races.  So, as I rapidly close in on 40, it is clear that is harder to run with the big boys.

So the tally from this short campaign has been a few cash prizes (Masters 35-44 FTW @ Outdoors, for example).  I still love it, although I miss the front.

Here a bunch of photos lifted from the internet, some at Outdoors, the 901 CX Roads Clash, and Little Rock.  The orange tape is my impromptu Halloween Costume (course tape man).  In my past, I have been known to ride the edge of course and get tangled up in the tape…  The costume was light and didn’t make me overheat, that is a good thing. I have worn street clothes in a CX race, not good!

This year cost me two (rear) tubulars.  I flatted out a rear at the LR race (Western Hills) and the other rolled off during the Cranksgiving race.

_DSC2170-2880x3586 _DSC2369-2880x3627 _DSC2373-2880x4320 10472260_1009019572474006_377751014110697247_o Western Hills CX2 Western Hils CX3 12194967_1009020715807225_5715729623940595642_o 12195000_1009019512474012_6352810675619796534_o IMG_9737
















October 25, 2015

#532: Five three two

Filed under: Bike Racing,Equipment — Ryan @ 13:32

I basically have forgotten to think about posting on this blog.  Race reports and photos seem less important to me that just racing and riding.  I am considering just pulling all of this down, but I will leave it for now.  I put up a pretty large body of work and photos, so I hate to just trash it.

I have had my Trek Domane for about 3 years (almost exactly).  The drivetrain is SRAM Red and has been pretty much flawless until a few weeks about.  It started at the end of a Sunday group ride, about 30 seconds after splitting off from a group to head to the house.  As a pedaled through a residential neighborhood, it felt a strange clicking in my drivetrain.  I pedaled forward gently as I looked back at my driveline.  Very quickly, things went pretty bad and bike started to buck as the chain wrapped around the rear cassette the wrong way.  Basically, my Red rear derailleur came apart in the middle.  The cage/jockey wheel part detached from the pivot mechanism (the part that translates when shifting).

IMG_9658 (1) IMG_9660 (1) IMG_9661 (1)

This occurred about 4 miles from my house.  My initial attempts to make the bike ride-able covered my hands in black chain grime (my chain is pretty dirty due to personal neglect in keeping it clean recently).  To me, that pretty much ruled out using my phone to call someone because I didn’t want to ruin that as well.  I was able to scoot and coast pretty well over the next 2 miles or so (mostly downhill, etc).  Things were not so good a bit later as the chain shifted and I was forced to walk with 1.5-2 miles to go.  At this point, I was on foot and pretty frustrated.  By chance, the sister of one of my teammate (who I have never met), saw me (as always in team kit) and brought me home despite what a mess I was.

Once I got home, I got a replacement N.O.S. Red 10 speed derailleur coming in and then left for a week of work travel.  When I returned on Friday, I swapped out the RD and was ready to ride on Saturday morning.

On the Saturday ride, things were going okay.  Some where around mile 50 on the 75 mile or so ride, teammates were commenting about my rear wheel being really out of true.  I stopped to check it out and found that 1 of the 20 spokes on my Dura Ace C24 wheels had broken.  Rideable, but not the best.  Maybe 5 miles later, I noticed that my rear shifter was acting a bit spongy… while riding, the only way to really check it out is to shift up and then back down and then crunch…  shift paddle on the road.  Great, now I am down to 2×1 in the 11 tooth.  We stopped and I got it to the 12 in the back and then rode home like that.

So, once again, it was to the internet to find new, old stock parts.  I lined up the replacement shifter and got it ordered.  I pulled the cassette off the rear wheel to have a look at the spokes.  Basically, all the drive side spokes were damaged by the chain (which had gotten between the cassette and the spokes during the RD meltdown a week before).  So, that is at the shop awaiting spokes for a rebuild.

IMG_9653 (1) IMG_9656 (1)

After a while, I got the replacement pair of shifters and replaced the right side (rear) shifter.  The RD cable routing a bit of hassle, but I had just done that work recently (on the RD replacement), so it went smoothly.  The rear brake, however, not so much.  The rear brake cable enters the front tube and then travels down the top tube (without housing) to a stop in the top of the top tube near the seat post.  This stop needs to be removed to open a place to hook the cable to then route it through the stop and then run housing to the rear brake.  Unfortunately, the stop is secured by a tiny aluminum screw that strips immediately.  It doesn’t help that it is in the line of fire of sweat (being immediately below the seat).  So, on a Thursday evening the day before a planned 24 hour (relay) ride, I got out the drill to drill the screw out.  I was able to get that piece out by drilling and prying it out without damaging it beyond use.  It still performs the function because of the direction of the force on the stop when installed.  It just looks really awful right now.


I understand that I can get the replacement part and I plan to make it look better once I get that.  As it sits, it worked flawlessly (as the rest of my replacements) for the St. Jude ride where we competed (and won) the team competition.   I rode my TT bike at the start, but switched to the road bike for the slower laps later in the ride.



July 1, 2014

#531: Some ToAD

Filed under: Bike Racing,Races — Ryan @ 19:25

I just got back from Wisconsin where I visited with my brother and family.  My mom also came down from Michigan.

I ended up racing the Master 35+ 3/4 race at 3 venues:  Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Wauwatosa.  My results were nothing stellar, middle of pack results in each.  Generally, things went pretty well with the racing, just couldn’t convert at the end of the race.  Nothing much interesting to say about the racing… missed a few crashes at each, managed to stay upright and didn’t damage anything.

At Oshkosh, my 4 year old niece was taking photos of the race (using my mom’s iPhone).  Her hit rate was low, I pulled out a handful from the 400+ photos she took.  Here are the ones that proved I was in the race…. (I jumped for a prime late in the race and pickup a set of Bontrager tires, my only prize for the series).

June 9, 2014

#530: Some road racing again

Filed under: Races — Ryan @ 18:50

Not that I quit road racing, but it really slowed down the last few years.  This year, I have started to get back into it with a different focus.  Instead of looking for personal results, the last two years has me 10% off my game with respect to surges, etc so I am not really that competitive.

In March, race Crosswinds classic (3) and Hell of the South (3).  In May, ended up racing at MSGP (1/2/3) and in June hit up our team race Rockabilly GP (3) and last weekend was Tour de Louisiane (1/2/3).  I am not exactly where I was a few years ago so when it gets really tough, I am not able to hang.

I had my first bad-road race flat at the Hell of the South (after 3 Rouge Roubaix’es, 2 Hell of the South’s, and 1 Super Flossy).  I also flatted in the road race in Tour de Louisiane with 10 miles to go (after the wheel truck already went up to the break).  I was able to ride the flat back in (and only lose 9 minutes to the field).

It was definitely great to get down to TdL with a full team of 5 in the 1/2/3 race. (raced it 2007-2010, but haven’t been able to make the last few).  It took the edge off of lackluster personal results and gave purpose to the little bit that I did in the road race to bring back an early break.  Which ended up allowing two of ours to get in a new break (unfortunately, Dale flatted out of it, so it was just Ben in it at the end).  The Sunday race was tough for me and I was gone way, way too early and the early break contained all the ones that we didn’t want and it caused slight reshuffling of the final GC.  In the end, Ben was 4th in the G.C. after the lead group put more than a minute into the field.

As always, the race weekends are fun, but I am starting to get a little bit lazy about posting.  I hope to get things going again at some point….


March 3, 2014

#529: post

Filed under: Brewing,Races — Ryan @ 20:27

I am still running long on posts.  Since I put up something the last time, I have been riding, working, and brewing.    The riding is a work in progress, raced last weekend in Little Rock, AR on the road.  Nothing really to write home about.

On the brewing front, I put up 3 beers in the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs Extravaganza competition.   There were an IPA, a Belgian Tripel, and an oaked Imperial Porter.  The IPA and the tripel scored okay, but were not in the top three for their respective categories.  The oaked Imperial Porter ended up winning the BJCP category for Smoked and Wood-Aged Beers.   This beer, which I had named Turbo Porter (after our Belgian Malinois Turbo).

I plan on racing a bunch more this year, mostly on the road.


January 19, 2014

#528: Secondary containment

Filed under: Brewing — Ryan @ 11:44

Well, it didn’t take long to have mishap with the kegging….  It filled the 4th keg yesterday afternoon and was contemplating trying out the Blichman Beer Gun this morning to fill some bottles off a keg (sort of a test run).  I went up to start to plan out how I was going to do it and I looked in the keezer and found the keg of Wit with lots of foam at the liquid out post and a 1/2″ of beer on the bottom of the keezer.


The freezer has a drain plug (visible on the lower right of the photo above).  I was able to drain out down to a pretty low level by hooking a hose up to the drain and letting gravity take it to a small low dish.  As it filled up, I could then dump it into the nearby crate.  After the flow stopped, I dumped buckets of hot/warm water to flush out the remaining beer.  All-in-all, it took a while and I had to dry it out with towels after that (good chance to defrost the freezer).  Any water would freeze in the keezer one it got going.

Like all good spill investigations, I controlled the situation first (depressurized the keg) and moved it out of the freezer.  While the freezer was draining, I took a look and found that I hadn’t really tightened the liquid post enough.  It was loose (not even finger tight).   After getting that sorted and working on the gas post some as well (it was leaking a bit under the gas “dip” tube gasket, probably from over-tightening!).  Anyway, the damage was about 2-2.5 gallons missing from the keg.  I am glad that it wasn’t my favorite beer out of the fermenter. Let’s hope that I won’t miss half that keg.

I have got everything back in the keezer and cooling back down.  I had the Wit keg under gas pressure while doing the clean-up and the liquid post held firm.   I am glad I went upstairs and opened up the chest freezer this morning…  By tonight, I would have been probably be draining out 5 gallons of Wit.



January 18, 2014

#527: Keezer, finally started kegging

Filed under: Brewing,Races — Ryan @ 15:14

As I write this, I have filled the 4th (of 4) kegs that I have with beer.  As many have said, it is a bit easier to handle and now you have ready access to a set of beers on tap.  Along with my acquistion of the 4 kegs and related hardware, I got a larger chest freezer with plans to build it out with tap handles.  So far, I have two installed though the collar of the freezer.  The collar is needed to avoid having to guess (and probably guess wrong) where the condenser and evaporator coils are located in the shell of the freezer.

IMG_6289 IMG_6300 IMG_6301

This year, I hope to get back to a more active racing season.  My work travel this summer should be intermittent and allow steady training and travel to races around the mid-south.  I haven’t pulled together a full calender yet, but I am considering returning to Rouge Roubaix.  I raced that early season gravel & paved road race 3 times, but the last time was 3 years ago due to work work schedule around that time of the year the previous two years.

January 1, 2014

#526: Long time…

Filed under: Brewing,Cyclocross — Ryan @ 16:17

I have been seriously neglecting this blog.  I have continued to do the usual things, but raced cross less than I have have done in a few years due to a work project taking me out right in the ramp up period.  I ended up doing only 3 races, 1 at Shelby Farms (pre-2 weeks off the bike), the Outdoors race (right after my hiatus), and the Cedar Glades CX race in mid-November.  All went okay.  Not bad, not good.  (My new Ridley performed well, I just didn’t).

I have increased my brewing a bit, and have just started to keg beer in the last few weeks.     The keezer conversion (that is a freezer turned to a draft beer box) photos are coming.  I have a few more parts to get and I will show it off then.  That is all I have for now.




September 14, 2013

#525: Ridley X-Fire, rev2

Filed under: Cyclocross,Equipment — Ryan @ 19:21

Andrea built up the warrenty frame with the same parts (~2009 SRAM Red, et al).  Anyway, here is a photo, not sure how much I will be racing this year (due to a work project, but at least I have a good bike when I do).


That is all.

September 13, 2013

#524: RIMS system

Filed under: Brewing,Equipment — Ryan @ 08:01

Now I haven’t been racing much this year, although I have been keeping in almost race shape for the year.  I obviously have been getting worse at posting about racing or anything for that matter.   This years cyclocross season is going to be messed up by the timing of  a project I have going at work.  I am expecting delivery of my warranty Ridley X-Fire frame (that broke during CX Masters Worlds).  The first frame I got was shipped was a disc brake frame.  Neither I, not Andrea are interested in making the switch given our existing stable of bikes and rim-brake carbon tubulars.  I will put a post on the build when

Anyway, to put up a post I am going to do a quickie to show off my latest brewing project.  I have build a RIMS (recirculating infusion mash system).  Basically, instead of just heating up water and adding grain to the mash tun (drink cooler) and closing it up and leaving it for an hour (and maybe stirring it a few times), I wanted to start to recirculate the mash liquor (using  a pump).  Of course, once you start to recirculate, you naturally will lose some temperature, so there needs to be a way to maintain the temp.  The drink cooler is great for keeping heat, but it is pretty hard to heat it.

What I ended up building is a pretty standard heater with a control box.  The heater itself is pretty cheap ($12 for a hot water heater element) but I ended up making a pretty nice control box with room to add more.  The controls are a two button latching circuit for the pump start/stop.  The heater circuit is controlled by a temperature controller in duty cycle mode.  (Output at 25% would have the heater running on a 30 second cycle for 7.5 seconds, then off for 22.5 seconds, etc.)   I build the heater so it would tend to hold liquid in the case of a hose leak and required the pump circuit to be on to run the heater (sort of a half-cooked interlock).  Anyway, here are a few photos from the build and some from the first brew day using it last weekend.  The control worked really well and it even used to heat up for the mash out (step to increase the temperature at the end of the mash to increase the solubility of the sugars and stop the enzymatic conversion).  The heater is only 1125 W (derated for 120V service) so that heatup of the ~4 gallons of mash liquor took 25 minutes, but it was all automatic.  The efficiency seemed to be about 50% based on some assumptions, but the amount of heat lost through the recirculation loop easily explains the loss.

The benefit of this I hope is an increase in grain to gravity efficiency, more consistency (better mixing in the mash tun), and more clarity of the resulting wort.  It was much easier to go to the brew kettle because all I had to do was stop the pump and move the hose to the boil kettle and restart the pump (cut the valve back to slow it somewhat).  The beer being brewed this time is a pretty simple IPA using Mosaic hops and a little Columbus up front.  Looking forward to putting this in the bottles

The next evolution of this system will be upgrade the drink cooler mash tun (with a mesh false bottom) to a kettle with a false bottom.  This will save a step of heating the water in the boil kettle and transferring the water to the cooler.  The current setup also requires manually sparging (rinsing the grain) using a large measuring cup and pouring over the grain.  I have a cooler and a sparge arm, but don’t have a structure to put it on out on the patio (previousley, I did the 3-tier in the house using the refrigerator, the counter, and a chair).


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