Friday, December 30, 2005

DC sights

Nothing like spending the last weekday of 2005 pedaling around DC with Gina and Sagada. The sights you see on just a short ride through the city...

Rock Creek Cemetery
I see dead people.
Rare one-legged Zen bird

Mexican Wolf, DC Zoo
Mexican Wolf

Grey Seal, DC Zoo
Grey seal

Evidence of vultures

DC Waterfront
The obligatory waterfront shot

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The pen is mightier than the bike

I just sent the following email to Spokes Magazine:

Dear Editors,

I was delighted to read the article in the Winter edition of your magazine on my experience at the 2005 Shenandoah Mountain 100. However, I have a minor correction to offer: you have me completely confused with someone else. While that's my picture in the article, none of the quotes attributed to me were mine. In fact, no one from your magazine actually interviewed me. Nice job of checking your facts.

Joe Penano

Put in all those hours of training, and in the end, it only takes a bit of careless editing to add five and a half hours to my time. Grrr.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Geeking out

Doom cost me about 3 months of my life back when I was in grad school. That was then, BikeCAD is now. I've been geeking out over the geometry of my new bike frame. It's my first (and probably only) custom job so I wanted to get everything just right. Rickyd pointed me to, and there went a week of my life.

You learn a lot when you work with a good custom builder. In my case that builder is Mike DeSalvo. I called him up back in October about building my dream bike: a 29er, rigid-specific, titanium singlespeed. I chose him because of his excellent reputation, relatively short waiting time, and more importantly, because no one around here had one of his frames. He sent me the first CAD drawing last week and since then, he and I have been tweaking it. The whole bike must work in concert and each little change-- one half of a degree here, a few milimeters there-- leads to three others. Mike was great to work with. He listened to all of my suggestions and corrected me if I suggested something stupid. I basically wanted a bike like my old, faithful Karate Monkey, but with a lower front end, quicker handling, and better standover. I also wanted to be able to fit a fat tire in the back (like an Exiwolf), have good clearance, and run ~17 inch chainstays. I don't know exactly how he's gonna do it without curving the seat tube (yuck!), but Mike assures me it can be done. After a few emails and phone calls, it all came together. Mike sent me the final CAD, I signed off on it, and the building commenced.

The whole project, frame, custom fork, parts, etc. is gonna be pricey. But compared to other mid-life crisis indulgences (my first one at 35!), this one's a steal.

For a good discussion of bike geometry and how it affects handling, look here.

Karate Monkey

DeSalvo 29er

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Movie night

Movie night

Movie night is on Wednesday at our house, or really just whenever we can find the time. Tonight we're combining movie night with laundry. With the old washer in it's last throes it was time to upgrade to these new-fangled front loaders. They're supposed to be more efficient water-wise, and quieter (the cats appreciate a good night's sleep), but I think they just look so dang cool. Thanks to Les and Mar-Mar for the idea. It's been a while since we've been to the laundromat, so it was cheaply entertaining for us (and the pets) to watch the clothes go round. Brought back some old memories. May even be an "L.A. story" in there somewhere.

Speaking of cats, Gina snapped this pic of "Tisoy," our 25lb bundle of white fury. This cat is soley responsible for the extinction of the local rabbit population. I once saw him take out an entire family of 'em-- mother rabbit in his mouth, one baby rabbit under each paw. When there were no more rabbits, we found a steady parade of dead birds and moles by our door. Each one dropped in pretty much the same spot. In the spring we can count on at least one offering every other day, sometimes more. Now if I could only get him to do the same with titanium bike parts...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pedals and petals

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
That breakup we had
Has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you
'Cause I want you back
Hey, hey

-- Peaches & Herb (Reunited)

I've decided to rekindle an old flame after all these years. We had broken up more than once, but after the fourth time, I had just about had it with the likes of her. No amount of sweet talking would get me to come back. I thought about all those occassions when she would take me out for a good time (and those were some really good times) and then without warning, just leave me stranded by the roadside, used up and betrayed. But I guess time heals all wounds. And besides, those other finicky hussies that came after her were no better. I guess that's what I missed about my first love. How it was so easy to get in when I needed to hook up in a hurry, and how it was even easier to get out once I was done. So now I'm ready to give us another chance. If you promise to never leave me stranded again, I promise to treat you better than I did, and to always keep you well-lubricated. So how about it? Meet me by the shop door and be ready for a good wrenching. And one more thing baby... wear the blue dress this time.

pedals and petals

So ends part I in my series of trashy short stories about my new bike build. Stay tuned for more porn.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

That's what friends are for

Woodstock Tower
Woodstock Tower. And from the top.
Do you remember the *first* time you seriously suffered on a mountain bike? That moment when you find your legs have failed and you're in the middle of nowhere with nothing but miles of rocks and endless climbs between you and the parking lot. You know the magic words that will end the suffering, at least temporarily, but you can't bring yourself to say them. Meanwhile your friends are disappearing into the distance. Finally you relent and let the words fall out hoarsely, "Hey, wait up..." but there's no one around to hear.

For some, this moment is the make or break point. It's either the end of a weekend hobby or... the start of a cycling addiction. For me it was the latter. A few months of one-lappers around Fountainhead or Wakefield could not prepare me for my first epic ride at the Frederick Watershed a long time ago. I remember that ride well. Untill that point my standard of "rocky" was Fountainhead. I remember getting home with no energy left and falling asleep on my couch without the strength to take a shower.

Last weekend I had a chance to treat some friends to a similar sufferfest at Elizabeth Furnace. FixieChris, JayD, Darwin, Dima, fellow sser Armando, and myself risked frostbite and buckshot (hunting season, eh!) in search of whatever it is that brought us there in the first place. A few years of riding and racing experience have taken away the initial "WTF?!?" factor associated with this ride and upped my pain threshold, but it's still not an "easy" ride for me. It was JayD's and Darwin's first time out there so for them the "WTF?!?" factor was probably still quite high.

We took the fireroad to Mudhole Gap where the 17 degree temperatures raised the stakes on the four stream crossings there. Fall in and you're guaranteed a long cold ride straight back to the cars. Cos there's no way you're gonna finish the ride with your clothes freezing onto your back. From there we headed up the climb to Woodstock Tower. I had climbed this road before, but the last time I didn't take the time to actually go to the tower at the top of the climb. This time I did. After snapping a few pics we headed back on the rocky goodness of the Massanutten trail, my favorite trail in the Elizabeth Furnace area. By the time we got back to Mudhole Gap, daylight was running short. We had been out longer than I'd planned so instead of heading up to Signal Knob, we took the (not much shorter) short cut back through Mudhole Gap to the cars. Overall, a nice Winter ride and a good opportunity to introduce some friends to one of my favorite riding spots.

A few days later I get an email from JayD,

That was the most extreme and exhausting ride I've ever had... When I got home I went straight to bed. I was so tired to even hit the shower.

See ya on the next ride.


Yup, I think I know the feeling.