Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kent State Criterium

The Kent Criterium is the state championship criterium race for senior racers (under 30). The race was a 45 minute criterium on a figure 8 (no, you don't cross each other) course in downtown Kent, WA. I'm not a big fans of crits because they are usually filled with crashes, but I figured this one might be fun. The course was quite enjoyable, but the 8 corners meant passing was difficult since you're always getting ready for another turn. I felt good and was staying toward the front for most of the race, looking for an opportunity to try a breakaway.

Unfortunately with 15 minutes left on the clock there was a massive crash behind me and we rolled neutral for a few laps until the race was stopped. Usually a race stoppage is only a few minutes, but this was closer to 10 or 15. They kept reporting back the condition of the fallen rider: he's ok! ... he's ok, but we think he might have some broken ribs.... he's ok, but he's feeling some numbness in his legs. Great.

When they finally restarted the race they reset the clock to have 10 minutes left. At this point I decided to walk away. A 10 minute sprint with everyone fully recovered. No thanks... I like my ribs and other parts the way they are. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How's this for customer service

The fenders I use are a quick release model made by SKS. They are held on using rubber straps (4 per fender) which wrap around the fork in the front and seat stays on the back. Over time I've lost a few of the straps and others are starting to show their age, so I decided it was time to pick up some more. After coming up empty on the net I ended up on the SKS website and dropped them an email.

I really wasn't expecting a response. SKS is German company and even though my email should have been routed to the right place, my expectation was low. Imagine my surprise when I actually get a response. And even better than that, they offered to send me a new set of straps for free. In disbelief I replied with my address and a couple days later a hand addressed enveloped showed up filled with new straps. I'm impressed.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Music Solution

Like everyone else in the world (it seems), I've tried a variety of methods for getting my music to the right place at the right time. For the most part I only listen to music at work. I don't have an iPod and I don't stream music around the house. I actually do own an Audiotron, but that has turned out to be more trouble than it is worth. So my problem is pretty simple, how do I keep my music in sync between work and home?

I've pretty much settled on keeping copies of my entire collection in two places. Streaming music from a server at home simply didn't work, so with one long scp session I copied my entire collection over to work. Now a simple rsync will keep the two collections in sync.

Somehow I wasn't satisfied, I had to take things to the next level. Buying CDs seems so dated to me so I started looking into services like iTunes. While iTunes is very cool, it completely fails in my situation. iTunes wants to manage your music collection, not help you synchronize it across multiple machines. There aren't many other solutions out there that would let me buy music and keep everything in sync across multiple systems. I entertained the idea of getting an iPod and letting that be the master of all music, but I figured I could solve this problem for a lot less $$.

So, I bit the bullet and decided to try Yahoo! Music. It's kind of like leasing music for a month fee (about $7 if you pay month to month). You have full access to their entire catalog (which is good enough for now) and can play any song, any time. You can even download music to your machine, so it can be played when you are offline. On top of that you can transfer music to certain mp3 players (no, not iPods). The only time you'll pay more than your monthly fee is if you want to burn the music to a CD. In that case you pay about $.79/song, or some reasonable price for the entire album.

Yahoo! Music seems great, right? Well, almost. The problem is that it is for Windows only and now that I spend more time commuting by bike, I tend to leave my laptop at home and use a Linux desktop at work. I'm trying to figure out ways around this, but I think I'm either going to have to haul my laptop around today or cancel my subscription.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race

This year the Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race took place the weekend after Wenatchee. I took it easy during the week to get ready for my "A" priority race of the year. The format was similiar to Wenatachee: time trial, criterium, road race. Unlike Wenatchee, Enumclaw is a traditional time based format. Unfortunately, the weekend was a total bust. Here's the event rundown:

10k Time Trial:
Managed 16th place (I always get 16th!) despite having one of my aero bars come loose during the event. A solid improvement over last year's 73rd position.

30 Criterium:
Very difficult to make up ground in an 8 corner criterium, especially when you get a bad start. I finished with the main group.. again, much better than last year.

Road Race:
I was really looking forward to this. The course has a great climb which we were going to do 3 times. At the bottom of the first climb I was midfield. By the top I was in the top 10. Just like Wenatchee, I figured I'd be really strong on the climb. Unfortunately shortly after the summit I noticed my rear tire going soft. The support car was nowhere in sight because the field was so strung out after the hill. Several minutes had passed by the time the car caught up with me and I knew my chances for a good finish were shot so I just rode back to the parking lot and called it a day.

Talk about disappointment. Flats have bitten me in two races this year. I need to find a better racing tire.... or figure out if I'm doing something else wrong. Sigh.