Friday, April 30, 2010

There's a finger in my bum

Second door on your left. Go on in and take your clothes off. There's an examination sheet to put over yourself. Have a seat on the table.

I'm in a doctor's office, alone, naked, sitting on the edge of an examination table, draped with only a paper towel like sheet waiting for the her to come in. Every year I get a little queezy feeling in my stomach cause I know what's coming. I'm sitting on that throw-away white paper that they cover the table with and I am sweating. It's sticking to my arse. Fugg. This is going to be fugly.

She comes in. Asks me a bunch of questions. Checks a few things: inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale, ears, eyes, throat, reflexes, etc. I know what's coming next. She knows what's coming. There's a subtle nervous tension between the two of us.

I'm wondering what the doctor is thinking. She's in her mid-forties, couple kids, not bad looking lady - I've known her for about eight years. What's on her mind? Is she looking forward to this as much as I am? I mean I'm no underwear model, and it could be much worse. How do you prepare yourself for this?

First it's the genital exam. One nut rolled through her fingers checking for bumps. A little too much pressure than I am comfortable with. I tense up. She senses it. Goes a little easier on the other nut. Fugg.

No problems urinating?

If you mean you want me to go now, then yes, I have a problem. But otherwise, nope, no issues.

Here comes the worse part. Fugg.

Okay, lay on your side and bring your knees up to your chest. This *may* feel a *little* uncomfortable. You may *feel* like you are going to urinate.

A gel ladden, laytex covered finger wiggles it's way into my backside. I know that her fingers are not that big, but the one in my backdoor feels like a tree trunk. I'm wincing. She's right, but only *partially* cause it feels like my bladder is going to explode all over the wall that I am facing. Lubricating gel is dripping out my butt.

Okay, everything feels good. You can get dressed.

I'm relieved that she didn't find something, but happier that her digit is out of my anus.
I sit up making sure the paper thin disposable sheet that I've been given covers over my poked and prodded body. Lubrication gel is now sticking to the white paper on the exam table, which is in turn sticking to my arse.
Humility at it's finest.

Wait a minute . . . what do you mean 'feels good?!'
Well I'm glad it felt good for one of us.
Don't I even get a kiss?

Thank gwad my doctor has small fingers.

I'm walking a little funny today . . . well, funnier than usual. Yesterday was my annual physical exam. Turn your head and cough. Achem.

I've been going every year for the past four or five years. I've got history of cancer (specifically prostate cancer) in my immediate family and have been told that I need to keep an eye on things. So I do. Cycling probably doesn't help my prostate much. Doc' says that I stand a higher risk of getting prostatitis. Haven't yet, so keep on pedaling.

I've been struggling this year on the bike. I feel underpowered and slower than past years. Considering I was on the bike much earlier this Spring than previous ones, been getting in good mileage, doing all the right things: recovery, eating well, taking enough time off the bike, varying my workouts (high end, base, endurance rides) . . . and still I feel weaker and slower. It's no secret that I am heavier this season, but I don't feel it's that much heavier (I'm actually down to 198lbs . . . take that beeatches!) to make this much difference.

So I spoke to my doctor the other day about it and she is putting me through some blood work to see what's going on. I'm hoping that it's nothing serious, can be easily remedied and will be a magic fix for my struggles on the bike - cause let's face it, I don't want to take any responsibility for being this slow.

I've also re-contemplated my initial "Fugg you dieting. I'm going to love being a fat-ass Clydesdale this season."
Post to follow.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peter & Dave

While in TO on the weekend I was able jetson myself just north of the city into Bolton early enough in the morning to get a ride in the Dark Lord himself. The only time I get to ride with Peter is at races, so it was nice to be able to hook up for a spin.

That's roadie Dave, wearing superman tights, on the left and schmuck face on the right (who by the way is sitting on the very nice new aluminum frame - which I am hoping to have in my chubby, grubby hands at some point).

Palgrave was a really fun place to ride. Swoopy, fast, buffed out narrow single track that seemed to constantly flow up and down like a roller coaster ride. Lots of short steep little climbs that got your heart rate up - which I can attest to cause it felt like I was redlining the entire ride.

From what Petey and Dave were saying, Palgrave is very much like what Albion Hills (which coincidently is right next door and we rode through) used to be like before the masses of people started riding there. It is completely legal to ride Palgrave. Our entire ride we say no other riders and only two or three walkers. It also does get some equestrian use.

Post ride/pre-spin back to Dingle Court coffees.
Pfffft. . . travel all this way and CEO/president of Misfit Psycles couldn't spring for a $5.75 Toaster Special?! Bastard.

On our return trip to the Court of Dingle we rpm'd our legs out on a country road. I had numerous things working against me: I was sick, my legs were fugged, my rear hub was dragging and to Peter's credit - he was faster than me. Despite only getting out for a handful of rides, he looks to be on good form for the season. He's still a penis.

Damn it Joe

No shortage of Spring classic races in the Ottawa area.

May 2nd - clicky clicky.

May 16th - clicky clicky.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Industry Nine Grand Tour

So, today we drive home(Mon., April 19). nothing to look forward to there except warm temps, windows down driving. Sitting on our arses going from fried food outlet to fried food outlet. At least until we'd left the deep fried states and entered the truck stop states.

But first. Drew and Eric from Industry Nine (who'd we'd rode with a couple days back) said it would probably be ok if we stopped in to see their facility. So, we loaded up a couple trays of Starbucks coffees and headed off to intrude upon our new friends at their place of work on an early Monday morning.

We arrived and while we could see Eric's car in the lot, there was no other indication we were actually in the right place. No neon I9 signs, no ethereal halo over the building, no rainbow ending on the building roof, nothing. ..Just like any other job shop. We entered the building (who's only signage 'Spego' meant nothing to us) and proceeded to poke our noses around corners and doorways with eyebrows raised "Hellooo? ..helloo??? ...helllooooo.." 's


we did know we were in the right place though cause there was a childs bike with ~14" wheels laced up with I9 hubs and spokes. Clearly this is no ordinary job-shop. Clearly unusual things happen here.
Curvy Butt in the spacious and stylicious I9 lobby.
So, we timidly poked our noses through the door labelled "Emplyees only" "eye protection required"(holding our Starbucks coffee offerings out in front of us like crosses in a vampire flic in case anyone should question our intentions) strolled around the steel racks and machinery until we found someone who pointed us in the right direction when we blurted out Eric? Drew?

And so we found ourselves in the womb of Industry Nine wheels.
This is where the last part of the magic happens. the 'birthing room' if you will.
Eric is seen here lounging comfortably, lacing up some lucky punters wheel, a kaleidoscope of hubs in the background await their turn in the capable hands of our wheelsmiths.

(ugh. I just puked in my mouth a bit reading back that last sentence! yech. what next? 'it was a dark and stormy night?")

Here Drew is showing us one of the things that set the I9 free hub apart. There are six engagement pawls, each offset to the next by one half of an engagement tooth period. pawls are active via a tiny leaf spring. That means three pawls (engaging three teeth each) lock in every 5 degrees for 9 engagement points for every 'click' you hear.

No special tools required to service them and standard sealed cartridge bearings are employed so that access & service is completely within the realm of competent home bike mechanics.

Bearing removal and replacement would be a challenge but apparently they're toying with the idea of a custom bearing cartridge puller.
I'm guessing it would be a tiny version of flywheel puller set up to pull from the inside. Time will tell.

Looking in, it's a fairly simple arrangement, but as a designer, I know only too well how much time, energy, creativity and sometimes luck it takes to come up with a truly tidy, graceful, effective solution that meets all the criteria.
Any hack can bang off a Rube Goldberg solution if time is short, motivation is low or the 'eureka moment' simply eludes, but dialing in the solution without compromising is way cool.

We left Eric and the guys to they're instruments (bore gauges, DT tensiometers, arbor presses, truing stands etc) to follow Drew further upstream in the manufacturing process.
The tour was run in reverse of manufacturing operations. Leaving the 'birthing room' we headed up the canal to the previous operation.
Anodizing, Polishing.

This is Drew's domain at I9. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on I9 gear no matter what colour, size or shape your bits are, Drew has had his hands and eyes on your bits first.

The parts shown here are post polish, awaiting the anodization bath of hot acid where a +/- 3 mil porous oxide (rust) coating will form from the corrosion of the acid. This porous coating is what accepts the dye. So, parts are dunked in the hot acid bath, left for specified time then transfered to the dye tank where the colour is absorbed by the oxide and voila. We have Bling!

There are many different methods of affecting the anodization process and Drew happily fielded my incessant queries but they're for the most part beyond normal interests so I won't bore you with my geeking out over them.

The polishing step is the only process that doesn't happen in house at I9. The reasoning is that there is so much cotton waste involved as a product of the polishing that it brings with it a lot of environmental concerns with disposal of the waste so for the time being at least the polishing happens remotely.
Worth noting that initially the anodizing was done off site also, but that because the aesthetic quality could not be controlled and consequently parts were failing QC where they end up on the shelf of broken dreams, I9 opened up their own anodizing dept.
..speaks to how seriously they take their QC.

The next step up the canal for us was to the machining room.
We saw the swiss mill with autofeed that turns the aluminum round stock into spokes.

(not sure if the proprietary thread form is cut here or if thats a post process...)

The first shot is just the mill interface. The second is the discharge chute with a little bit of a spoke poking through waiting to be pushed out to drop into a box below.

This is the round stock autofeed for the spoke turning.

We saw the EDM machine that cuts the pawl engagement rings out of tool steel
here is the off cut (waste) from the EDM process.
You can see the tiny wee kerf and the incredible edges & accuracy that EDM is capable of.
This operation is so time intensive that only a dozen engagement rings are turned out in a day.

The milling machine where the spoke shoulders are cut from the flanges, and the control pc. for dim checks.

The lathe(s) where the hub axles and hub bodies are turned down from round stock blanks, and this is the part where, from a manufacturing perspective we can consider ourselves at the point of 'conception'.
As is typical, much is made of the 'conception', but when you get right down to it once you've run a part through a few times and worked out the kinks you're just feeding in plain old round stock and getting on with business.
..and when you're caressing holding you're shiny new wheels, few will think on or care about that moment the round stock was placed in the center and door closed around it.

This tour alone made the 30+hrs of driving worth it. I'd never seen an EDM machine, up close nor a swiss mill and while they're not actually terribly exciting looking themselves when put in the context of making top drawer, sexy-ass bike parts with them it was super cool for moi.
If I wasn't so overwhelmed with the uber-coolness of it all I'd have thought to note when/where the proprietary thread form is cut. I know from seeing some of the blemished hubs in the recycle box that it happens between anodization and 'birthing' but I didn't see, or think to note it.

Random Pics:
Craig thinking on how to convince our I9 folks that this wheel needs to be with him. That he loves it as no other could, that it's an incorrigible crime that someone else should be allowed to use, abuse, possibly ignore and maybe even leave it dirty and unpolished after a ride.

there is surprisingly little exaggeration in that paragraph. I think everyone present felt the love in the room and things were more than a little uncomfortable. Drew wisely departed. (probably to have a shower)

Me holding an I9 road wheel. This time it was my turn to get star-struck and speechless. This wheel weighted less than an angel's fart. carbon tubular rim. Sapim cx-ray spokes and of course that hub. It was completely off the f-kn charts. This wheel restored my faith in a higher power. or lesser power.
like, with this wheel I'd need less power to get my fat arse up hills like.

like, if you threw this wheel away into the wind it would come back and rub itself on your calf purring like a hungry cat. well, thats what I was thinking anyway which is weird cause I don't really dig cats, but.. anyway, yeah if cats were like these wheels i'd be doing the crazy cat lady thing for sure.

that is all. this is getting dumb and looking at that road wheel again I have to excuse myself..

* as stolen from Curvy Butt over on big ring racing blog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I was going to do a post on our trip to the I9 factory, but I think that I will wait for Curvy Butt to type something up and poach off him. He's a better writer, is employed in and understands the manufacturing industry, and took more/better photos than I did. Plus, I am sick and don't feel like it.

The past few weeks have been stupid crazy busy for me. Things are winding down into a sort of semi routine like life again. And what usually happens to me after busy-ness, road trips and riding is sickness. Never seems to fail that I get a bad cold just as things are starting to slow up. The past couple days are no exception.....I assure you that I am snot filled, achy, and tired sick.

It began on my return to my little family after being away, way down south for four or five days. The Peanut had the green elevens (green mucus oozing from both nostrils) going on and was cranky and not feeling too well. One day at home then it was off to Toronto where the wifey was having surgery. Nothing too serious, just a little breast augmentation. I jest of course . . . actually, she was suffering from hernia that occurred during labour. She blames the entire incident on me, nine months previous, for the one night that she let her guard and I took advantage of her - which resulted in her getting pregnant. Alas, I digress.

While in the big smoke I missed this event which I had planned on doing:

Family comes first though. I did get out for a ride while in the GTA with the Dark Lord himself - report to come. If you want to read some exciting race reports on the OBC Paris Roubaix, click on over to Tall Trees.

I am sick. Meh. It happens to all of us at some point. And as I type this, it's sunny and plus 17 degrees outside with no wind - perfect day for a road ride. However . . . I am staying in and resting.

Lots and lots of junk to blog about that has taken place over the course of the past couple weeks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NC - Part IV

I don't think that I had ridden four days in a row since August/September and knew that our fourth, and last, day of riding in NC was going to be on the slow side. Our legs and lungs tried to keep up with our lofty goal of one last ride before we hit the road. We chose to climb up Laurel Mtn and would decide at the top whether we'd make our way down the technical Pilot Rock.

Trail guide estimated that the climb was somewhere in the ballpark of 6 miles (10 kms) to the top. I had ridden Laurel on my first trip to NC four or five years ago, but my memory of it was all wrong . . . what I remembered was a long drawn out difficult climb with a couple short hike-a-bike sections. What I experienced this time was the almost the exact opposite.

Rhoda dendron Tunnels
I found Laurel to be the type of climbing that you could sustain all day long. Mind you, there were a few steeper sections, and I guess if you went at it hard you could really cook yourself on the way to the top. We weren't sprinting by any means, nor were we lollygagging about - just a steady push.
I had ridden 34x21 for the entire trip - a last minute bent chainring led me to switch out the front to a never used 34T Middleburn ring and I figured a 21T cog in the rear would suit my early Spring legs. I wouldn't lie and say that I didn't walk at all in the four days, cause I did my share of pushing the bike, but then again, so did some of the local single speeders that I was riding with on Saturday.

The climb didn't seem quite as long or as difficult as I remember, however, the hike-a-bikes seemed longer and more plentiful.

We took a pass on heading down Pilot Rock. We had ridden Pilot before in the past, and it's nothing to be feared as long as you're careful and keep an eye on your speed and lines. In saying that, one fork and one frame (and one shattered soul) were destroyed during that descent. Sometimes riding smart is knowing when to not ride something. After three days of pretty tiring riding we pulled the plug on the initial plan of riding down Pilot and on to Pilot Cove and up Slate Rock (apparently a local we met on the trail said that Slate was a mess with lots of trees down). Muffled minds and weak, wearied upper bodies needed for the constant attention heading down Pilot were lacking. Instead, we turned around and bombed down Laurel, though less technically challenging, was a blast.

During our descent Curvy Butt, in an attempt to ride high on some rocks to avoid some mud, slid into the mud and went boom. Had a squishy swishy diaper bum after that and he was not too pleased.

As a reward for four days of wicked riding we headed to the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company for dinner. Curvy Butt is a lightweight - he's eating the medium on top, I got the large on the bottom . . . the time it took him to eat one slice I had three down . . . pffffft, lightweight. I can also tell you that before I closed my eyes for the night that entire pizza was in my belly.

The restaurant is worth checking out if you're in Asheville - it's a bit quirky, got good service, good food and even has a movie theater. We sat at the Mexican Wrestling theme table.

We weren't the only Canadians there. A bunch of ladies were sitting next to us at the William Shatner table (who if you didn't know is a Canuck).

I9 tomorrow.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NC - Part III: Meeting a Dick (and some other good guys too)

*stolen from Eric's blog

Curvy Butt and myself met up with Dicky, Big Worm, Jerry, Bill Nye, Drew, Eric, Eric W., Mike, Leyonce, and another Eric (fugging huge group) at the Turkey Pen trail head.

Cut lip
No, I know what you were thinking . . . the little guy smacked me around a bit for not yet buying a jersey from him . . . no, just got smacked in the face by a tree branch while doing Mach 9 going down the trail on Squirrel Gap. If you're not climbing in Pisgah, you're descending.

Pisgah single track

My camera shit the bed and took blurry pictures when I remembered to even take it out, hence all the stolen photos

*stole this from Billy's blog
A few stream crossings

Ride synopsis courtesy of Jerry, who I stole from Big Worm

Convincing Rich to come up to Crank The Shield in September.

This photo was taken moments after (and moments after exiting another Mexican restaurant) Dicky showed me his right nipple on his left breast (I don't know how it got way over there) which was sporting some new hair . . . apparently when he's not riding or blogging he's into styling his body hair. He attempted to show me a project he had going on south of the equator, but I quickly walked away before he could.

It's not that I don't like Dicky enough to look at his undercarriage, it's just I like him more in a platonic suckling at my teat kind of way.

*will post up some more photos that I steal from Curvy Butt later this week

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

North Carolina - Part Two

Still tired from the sixteen hour long haul we decided to head to Dupont State Forest on Friday for a 'flatter' day of riding ('flat' is relative when speaking of riding in NC) and save the legs for the higher elevation gains we'd find in Psigah. This was my third trip to Dupont. In the past we've had the Goat towing us around the labrynth of trails. However, us being as un-local as we could possibly get, found it a difficult task navigating ourselves to the best'est route one could find. The map, as Curvy Butt wrote over on the big ring racing blog, can be compared to "two plates of spaghetti dumped into one bowl" . . . mmmm, spaghetti.

So to make the most out of our limited time in Dupont we figured we do the IMBA Epic loop. We found the route on line and we eagerly marked it on our map the night before thinking we were going to get 'the best of Dupont' . . . . I mean come on, this is IMBA, they should set us right . . . right?

If you look hard you can see Big Foot lurking in the trees.

The only thing epic about the first third or so of the loop was epic failure. Wide, soft, loose double track seemingly unused. Joanna Trail confirmed the un-used'ness and instead of riding we pretty much hiked the entire trail, lifting our bikes over downed trees and swearing lots.

Eventually we started to make our way to better trails, some we recognized from previous years.

I believe that this is on Reasonover Creek Trail.

Bridal Falls . . . funny, no one was getting married there nor did I feel like tying the knot with Curvy Butt.

A stream crossing or two. Curvy Butt didn't want to get his feet wet, so he took his shoes off and tossed them over to the other side.

I nearly fell over into the stream laughing so hard when one of his shoes didn't make the trip . . . in the water it went, by the bank.
"Fuggg!" said he.

Despite numerous map checks and not completing the total route that we had intended burritos the size of our heads were in order. Was so hungry that I didn't think to take a photo until after I inhaled it. Nothing is better than good cheap Mexian food after a day on the bike. Coming back to the same place year after year you find some good food joints. Most of ours seemed to be Mexican - it's hard to find good Mexican in Ottawa . . . something about being so damn cold here keeps the Mexicans away . . .pfffft. I ate five meals in-a-row that were Mexican. My lower gastronomical intestinal system was doing a sombrero hat dance for most of the trip.