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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winter Upgrade and Maintenance Season

Winter is upon us and so that means two things for cyclists: Riding the road bike on reasonably warm days and overhauling the mountain bikes. We've already put in our orders for our various component needs here at Team Ober. Here's my list.

I'm long overdue for a new crank set. I replaced my bottom bracket this spring but that was only a stop gap. It's sort of obvious what I'm putting on the bike...and that would be the Shimano XT Hollowtech II.

The most embarrassing component on my current bike is the stock stem. At 10 degrees and 90mm it is a very unaggressive and safe configuration that no longer matches my riding style. We've decided to go with another industry staple: The Race Face Deus XC. I like the 5 degree angle and have gone with an added 10mm on the length to get me farther out over the front wheel.

Finally, and predictably again, we're going with an Easton Monkeylite XC rise bar. After talking with just about everybody this seemed like a very logical choice based on the quality and reputation of Easton's products.

My next upgrade is going to involve my seatpost. Easton or Thompson? Can't say just yet.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Season Ends...or Ended Some Time Ago

I guess it has been awhile hasn't it?

The self-anointed Summer of Ober ended back in September with Mrs. Ober and I finishing our respective seasons on high notes. Before we went to Crested Butte, Mrs. Ober managed to win her division in a Triathlon and I had managed to pull my technical head out of my ass so as to be finishing in the top half of races.

Later in the season things started getting interesting. Both of us started performing quite handsomely on all things bicycle. We both chalk it up to the miles and miles of smiles put in on the road bikes. I had traversed the state of Indiana over the summer (1 day; 160 miles) and had put in many long rides - with Mrs. Ober and sans my sweetie.
But the last races of the season - for both of us - were appropriate swan songs.

The last race of my season was a grueling ride over a course that I had never seen. That weekend I drove down to Nickel's / Assface's house to hang with the wife and kid and catch up. He forced me to stay up until 1am the morning of the race and made me drink a number of beers (this was before Floyd Landis made is OK to drink on race day).

On race day, the start line was chaotic at best featuring a race that started 15 minutes late that would cover an undisclosed distance (nice, huh?). Well, the race turned out to be a 25-mile slugfest with nature, machine, and my fellow riders. I wrecked twice, bent my rise-bar, lost the effective use of my front derailleur, and generally felt the burning desire to toss my bike to the side and go back to Assface's house and drink more. I didn't though.

I never got passed during my flirtations with death, doom, and bike destruction; I thought that was a bit odd. Had I moved out front of everybody else? Was I last? Personally, I thought I was last. I reminded myself at that point that the fun was in the suffering and in the effort and that miracles do happen to those that bust their ass.

Shortly after that epiphany, I passed two riders. "Well," I told myself, "Now you're two places from last." I kept riding and shifting. My thumb was killing me and my chain was pleading, "No Mas!" Then another two riders? "How long is this damn race," I was wondering. My odometer was starting to show that I was getting to the normal cut-off for these races which is normally 21 miles - give or take. Then more riders including a rival of mine who beat me by 20 seconds only 2 weeks prior.

In the end, I finished 4th. It was my highest finish in the Sport division to date. The season had ended with my hard work paying off - somewhat. I went back to Nickel's crib and had another beer (he drinks a lot; and beats his dog). I didn't know at that time but that was the last race of the season; work would get in the way of my cycling career. I learned a lesson that I luckily didn't have to learn the hard way: Race every race like it's your last. I know that's a life-lesson. I just have to work harder at applying it. Perhaps we all do. Maybe that's the point of Sport.

Next Post: Individual Sports and Why You Suck Until You Participate in One.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do Over

The Neo-Conservatives want a Do Over just like the American public. This article at Vanity Fair (part of which was leaked before the election) is, at least, interesting in that the likes of Ken Adelman call the Bush administration incompetent. Yeah, welcome to 2000.

Sorry, no Do Over.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Updates

Avoiding various cliches, I'll simply note that I've updated my entertainment section with new reading and listening. As always, not the only things I'm reading, watching, and listening to but certainly ones that I'll admit to checking out.

And on that note, look for future posts.

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