Monday, May 26, 2008

Before I Forget

Some list updates:

The Rider, Tim Krabbe
Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Code, Charles Petzold
Karel The Robot, Richard E. Pattis
Making Beats, Joseph Schloss
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
The Lightening Thief, Rick Riordan
Love Is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield

Third, Portishead
Jukebox, Cat Power
Out of the Shadow, Rogue Wave
Back to Black: The B-Sides, Amy Winehouse
As Iron Sharpens Iron, The Procussions
The Reminder, Feist
The Impulse Story: Alice Coltrane, Alice Coltrane
Greatest Hits, Guns N' Roses
The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Refugee Nation, Theater Performance
Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries
Michael Clayton
The Last King of Scotland
No Country for Old Men

Steal a Silver Stallion

Weekend Two. The bike dorkdom knows no limits. I know it's a faux-paux to rock the World Champion stripes, but I wanted to try out this electrical-tape hack. If other LeMond frames could have the rainbow then the Sarthe can, too:

I'm also trying out Fizik's Microtex tape for the first time. The Sarthe's softer ride makes the go-to spongier and bulkier Cinelli cork tape unnecessary. I like the Microtex stuff. Feels grippier. The holes in the tape also give it a sportier look.

Heh. I think the speed limit on Mount Diablo is 20 mph.

I'm still using the old no-nonsense Cateye Astrale 8 computer. The extra wiring for speed and cadence can make for some ugliness, but the nice thing about the classic LeMond logo is that its black stripes hide the downtube zipties pretty nicely.

Anyhow. This post needs some music. Cat Power's version of "Silver Stallion" has been my favorite song lately. The original lyrics:

I'm gonna steal a silver stallion
with not a mark upon his silky hide
Teach him he can trust me like a brother
one day we'll saddle up and ride

And we're gonna ride, we're gonna ride
Ride like the one eyed jack of diamonds
with the devil close behind
We're gonna ride

I'm gonna find me a reckless woman
razor blades and dice in her eyes
Just a touch of sadness in her fingers
thunder and lightening in her thighs

And we're gonna ride, we're gonna ride
Ride like the one eyed jack of diamonds
with the devil close behind
We're gonna ride

I'm gonna chase the sky forever
with the woman and the stallion and the wind
The sun is gonna burn into a cinder
before we ever pass this way again

And we're gonna ride, we're gonna ride
Ride like the one eyed jack of diamonds
with the devil close behind
We're gonna ride

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Such a Lovely Day ...

... to have to always feel this way.

Weekend One with the LeMond Sarthe. I switched the Campy group over from the CAAD4. While I liked how the previous mix of Ultegra and 105 shifted, Shimano hoods simply kill my hands and wrists -- the reason I switched to Campy in the first place. In addition to the group, I also moved over my old saddle, seatpost and bars.

I've put in about 75 miles on the LeMond so far, and I feel as though I've never truly experienced road cycling until this week. Maybe it's like being a runner for years, and then one day experiencing "runner's high" for the first time. Or being an aggro skater, and then riding a pintail longboard one afternoon.

Before the LeMond, I would've never ever equated the word "soulful" with cycling. But, apparently, this is common among fans of ultra high-end zillion dollar bikes. Check out this blog post: Soul of the Machine.

Anyhow. Some pics from the build:

The old CAAD4 fitted with Campy Chorus and Campy Zonda wheels.

The stock LeMond Sarthe with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105. The Bontrager Race Lite wheels are, weight-wise, comparable to the Zondas, but looks-wise ... sorry, Charlie.

The CAAD4 frame and fork weighed 3.8 lbs on the bathroom scale. The Sarthe was an even 5 lbs.

I swear I started this build with all my tools laid out and stuff organized in bags. What happened?

Plastic bag full of Ultegra and 105 parts. All of this and the Bontrager wheels plus bar and stem must go!

Cable bling!

Comfy hoods!

Ka-blam! ... Still a work in progress, but I took this out as-is for a hilly 25 miles and it's even better than before! A little more crisp and more plush than the stock configuration. A lot more comfy with the Campy hoods.

Next weekend: cyclo-computer install, bar tape install, ride 30-35 miles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To Tread This Fantasy, Openly ...

... what have I done?

I have a fitting for a 2007 Lemond Sarthe tomorrow evening:
The seat-to-bar drop in this stock pic is more aggressive than the size available. It's a size larger than I'm used to, a 55 for my 5'8", 31" inseam self. Lately, however, I've been wanting to go up a size for the comfort. And, yes, this is a steel frame. The ride on the stock Bontrager Race wheels is plush.

I also tried a Calfee Luna Pro, one of the finest carbon frames made. It was great. Lite. Zippy. With Kysrium wheels. ... But something happened while riding the Sarthe. It was just plain more fun. Lively. I was 10 years old again riding home from a long afternoon exploring the neighborhood. This is a bike I could ride for as long as my body holds up.

(It's worth noting that even without bikeshorts and gloves, both the Calfee and the Lemond are more comfy than my old carbon'd out aluminum CAAD4 could possibly ever get.)

I also discovered that Cannondale has a trade-in program for older frames. The discount is insane. I recently lost an eBay auction on a used, two-year-old Six13 that ultimately sold for only $200 less than a brand new one with a trade-in. This is my back-up if the Lemond doesn't work out:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Give Me Fever

It's on... . Back to putting more miles on the road. I'm also trying a pair of Speedplay Xs. They're supposed to be easier on the knees. But it occured to me while testing and practicing on the trainer: How much of the knee strain that's related to clipless pedals is actually due to twisting one's legs to disengage from the pedals? And not due to cleat position, float, etc.?

Some pics:

Oh, to give you an idea of how weird my right leg is, the cleat placement on my left shoe sets my left foot closest to the crank. That's ideal for power transfer and feels natural to me. But my right leg feels most natural with the cleat set furthest from the crank. I wish there was a diagonal cleat position to allow pointing a foot out further when needed.

Even with the Speedplay Xs, with the most float I'm aware of, my right leg still feels like it needs more wiggle room. As has always been the case, if keeping my right foot straight, my knee almost hits the top bar. (I can also see this in the mirror while running at the gym; My right leg has a slight twisty motion at impact and kick. Tread wear, however, is neutral.)

Anyhow. I've initiated the search to replace the old CAAD4 race frame. Stimulus! Tax Return! Stimulus! Tax Return! ... Debt Free!


(Not-so) recent events:

Nice mural at the San Diego airport... Ooohhh!! I almost forgot. Even better at the Oakland airport: Art by Hung Liu. Ugh, why didn't I take my own picture?!?

Me and my bro and the Abba-Zabba Twins. Activate! ... Form of ...

... a newly adopted pup, Hali (short for halitosis). She keeps Kaya company at my bro's house.


Lastly, if you get the chance, I would highly, highly recommend seeing Refugee Nation. Powerful. Insightful. Funny. Uplifting. The best thing I've seen in a long, long time. It played the other week in Berkeley to benefit Lao advocacy groups Legacies of War and the Center for Lao Studies.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

This Is My Brain on Portishead

So I like Third, the latest album. Deep down I was hoping that the leaked tracks that began popping up where some b-sides or something. But, alas, it is what it is. It's different, yet unmistakenly Portishead. The dirge, eerie instrumentation and catchy melodies. But instead of Geoff Barrow's neck-snapping hip-hop beats, we get uhhh... I don't know what to call it. It definitely ain't "trip-hop" (a term I'm glad is dead). This is Portishead for the arena. Not for the headphones.

It's been about the only thing I've listened to this week. There's plenty of oddities on the record, distractions, blips and just general weirdness. "We Carry On" is the first Portishead song I don't like. Yay! Now that's out of the way, on the technical side I have a problem with the engineering quality of the whole record. (Do you hear the difference in clarity and crispness between "Machine Gun" and everything else?) I've heard bedroom recordings with better engineering. This sounds like it was recorded on cassette tape off a.m. radio.

But I give Portishead the benefit of the doubt. I trust my ears to the band that gave us such beauties as "Roads" and "Glory Box" and "Over" and "Undenied" and ... heck every song on their first two records. "Threads," from their latest, sounded completely atonal to me initially, but now I find it the most ambitions song on the record. Plus, Beth Gibbons really lets loose on the track, shaking free of the Billy Holiday stylings of the first two records. And "The Rip" is my favorite song at the moment.

Third certainly is no Dummy or Portishead (or Out of Season, Gibbons' and Adrian Utley's collabo with Rustin Man). Those albums, plus their live record and DVD, are just a mouse click away, though. Interestingly, I read an interview in which Barrow says that he initially started making the record in the hip-hop mold of the first two. But that he didn't want it to sound like Gibbons just singing over DJ Premier beats. Two albums of that was enough, I guess. So I'm left to hope that a remix of this record exists somewhere, one with those sick-ass Portishead beats. And that it won't take 10 more years for it to surface.