Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The first road bike I built. This one for Bobbie in 1994

News Fash! BikeJournal is now fully up and running. So, my daily cycling blog should be up again. I'll update that once it stops raining!!

I've been on a quest now for almost 3 years to catalog most, if not all, of our family photos into electronic form. The task has been much larger than I originally thought, as well as consumed much more of my time. Murphy: "Everything takes longer than you think." Looking at all these pictures of time gone by in multiple succession, I couldn't help but think to myself, "where did all the time go?" So, I guess I started reflecting on the past and in some way hoping to match up braincells with the multitudes of images. What does this have to do with bicycling? Well, a lot actually. I began to reflect on how long I have been riding my bike. Not riding my bike as a kid because most, if not all of us, can remember those days. But, rather, reflecting more on how and when I got serious about cycling. Some of the pictures brought me back to 1989 and the time I got my "real" road bike. A friend of mine got me into cycling after running got just too damn painful and hard. I remember how cool 7-speed index shifting felt, and how cool that Trek 2300 looked sitting in my garage ready for a spin on the road. With each image, those memories seem to stand still in a weird sort of way. Kind of like all the old family photos I have been going through. The photos, viewed individually, seem to freeze time. They halt your thoughts and transport you to that instant in the past, while at the same time, leave you with the feeling that it was only a moment before. Photos awaken memories of my first Century to Mesquite, Nevada and how I carried that 400-pound gorilla on my back with about 40 miles to go. And the exhaustion I felt finally dragging myself to the finish line with a nearly flat front tire, unwilling to get off the bike before the end to fix it. And, how good that beer tasted at 150 miles of my first double attempt. It never felt so good to quit something in my entire life. Yep, reflection. A perfect word to describe my mood of late. Here's a quote from an article I like:

"Everything Dies (Every Rider Crashes.) Everyone and everything falls down eventually; Twin Towers, The Roman Empire (most of it anyway, except for the ruins still on the official tour) Kurt Vonnegut, rest in peace our hopeful cynic. Truth is, the more you worry about crashing the more likely it is you will. Riding and living tentatively is the kiss of... well, you know. Worse still, if you try to eliminate all chances of crashing, it's the kiss of mediocrity. Over time you'll go brittle, hollow and old while barely noticing, and your bike will grow cobwebs from hanging in the garage. Try this, act as if today is the last day you'll own a set of legs... it might be. No, I haven't heard anything, but if I had, I'd want exactly what you would want... one more ride."
Joe Kurmaskie.

Honolulu Century circa 1995!

Ride the Rockies circa 1998

Windmill Century, Central Coast California circa 1999.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Down but Definitely Not...Out!

As most of you know by now, we had an automated attack on our database, Monday, Nov. 3rd. Nothing personal as far as I understand - but that doesn't make it any less vicious. As a result, many records were overwritten with a malicious URL (website address).

I wasn't gonna say anything about this but I just can't let this go by idle. Would the person who wrote the malicious code that put his site down please identify yourself as the low-life scumbag that your really appear to be! There are about 15,000 people right now who would like to take a wire brush to your butt and teach you a lesson. Although this attack on BJ appears to be nothing "personal", the fact that some low-life would write such code to destroy the good naturedness of this site is beyond belief to me. We should just take these assholes out and break all their little fingers so they have to use a pencil in their filthy little mouths to tap on the keyboard. I voted for hope just recently, and it is my fervent hope that we find these little self-indulgent assholes and hold them accountable for their vicious little deeds.

OK. Rant over. On a more upside, I recently added several links on the right hand bar that take you to various journals about bike touring. They are individually linked so they won't navigate you away from my main page. I also did the same with my ride reports that you will also find on the right hand bar. Unfortunately, the way that blogspot is setup, they navigate you away from the most current blog. To get back to the most recent blog, just click on "Mozam's Cycling Adventures" and you will be taken back to my most recent blog. I'll fix this later, now that I know how to make it work correctly. Comments are certainly welcome so feel free to tell me what you think. I'll change these up now and again to add a little interest so if you find a journal you like be sure to bookmark it for yourself. You can also read a ton more journals at Crazyguyonabike.

Cheers, Mozam

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ride for a Cure...


Rows of shelves lined with fireworks, and I’m not talkin’ sparklers here either. Also, more cigarette cartons and bottles of booze than you could shake a stick at. Where was all this you might ask? The Paiute Indian Reservation truck stop at exit 75 just north of Las Vegas on I-15, the start of today’s charity ride to raise funds for a local lady stricken with breast cancer. That’s what I saw at 7 o’clock in the morning when I went inside looking for a restroom. To say the least, I was a bit taken a back. Turns out that that wasn’t the only surprise of the day, and the ride hadn’t even started yet. Getting back in the car and following what was obviously another cyclist looking for the start point, we entered a rather large truck-stop parking lot and were directed by someone obviously in charge to park, “over there.” So, we parked “over there.” To my amazement parking over there meant that we got a birds-eye view of the fireworks test area. Seems you can do that in Nevada. Now, I’m not much for litter. As a matter of fact, I hate it, and loath those who are so lazy to create it. Well, let me tell ya. This area was at least a square mile of used bottle rockets, large fireworks containers, and general trash. Disgusting. But I guess it’s not my reservation so I’ll move on to the cycling.


The event was probably one of the biggest “non-organized” events I’ve ever attended. The gal running things, Asia, managed to get over 200 people to show up, all of whom raised over $4250 dollars to help this nice gal fight breast cancer. Several bike shops donated items for raffle, and several folks gave up their entire day to volunteer and SAG. The only thing that didn’t cooperate was the weather. The skies were relatively clear but the wind was blowing relentlessly and was getting stronger by the hour.


The ride started a little late and we rolled out about 30 minutes past the stated start time. The route took us up a small 9-mile incline towards Valley of Fire State Park which lies about 11 miles from the truck stop. Everyone pretty much stayed together until the road pitched up. Standard. The racer boys dropped everyone early and proceeded on their way while the straggling peloton eventually broke completely apart into small groups of riders. I must say that the scenery is pretty much junk until you drop into the park. The Nevada desert just doesn’t have a whole lot to offer from a generalists standpoint.

After reaching the summit of our 9 mile climb, the road drops off dramatically and immediately into the park. The downhill was quite a thrill and quite a challenge for me as I did the “one handed” photography thing. Just past the ranger station the rewards begin. The bland Nevada desert changes into a spectacular assortment of colors that contrast dramatically with the brilliant blue sky. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here. Valley of Fire is truly a remarkable place and it was hard to keep focus on riding with such dramatic vistas unfolding all around us. The only bad part about this ride so far was the fact that it was downhill for a really long way with a tailwind. And any experienced cyclist will tell you that that means only one thing: uphill and a headwind on the way back. As luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened and the effect was dramatic. We lost a lot folks to the SAG, including Mrs. Mozam. It was probably a good thing that Mrs. Mozam dropped out at the ranger station because the climb back out is about 4 miles of 8-10% grade, all of which was against a headwind. I pressed on to get the car, when Asia pulled up to offer a fill of water. I told her I left Bobbie at the ranger station and she eagerly volunteered to go SAG her in. What a great lady! After the climb out, the headwind turned to a quarterly tailwind pushing me back down the grade at speeds exceeding 30 miles an hour. There is just something very cool about cruising down a desolate road all alone on a bicycle at such speeds.


By the time I got back to the start, the wind was blowing so much dust across the road it was barely visible. My car was covered with dust and it was a real challenge to get everything put away before the wind carried all our stuff off across the parking lot. The place was practically deserted when got the bikes put away, and it didn’t look like there was going to be any post ride events so we just loaded up and got the heck out of there. Next time, if we get up and the wind is blowing, we’re gonna blow this one off!

See the rest of my photos of Valley of Fire here

You can also see more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Screw Work. I’m going to Bavaria


Yep, as I drove down I-15 I decided to just keep going on to Bavaria. I showed the gate guard my base pass, drove into the parking lot, got out, punched in my code into the vault door and there I was, Bavaria! The land of Beer, Wurst, and bike paths. Holy shit! Bike paths. These things are freaking everywhere. You can even go over to Austria, Chekoslavakia, Italy, and even other parts of Germany on a bike path. And, you can do it in most cases without even seeing a car! Now that’s amazing.


Now that I’m there I think I’ll visit Munich. I went there once in the mid-80’s with a bunch of other fighter pilots over Labor Day weekend. We travelled from Ramstein Air Base via train to downtown Munich and rented a hotel room for all 8 of us! Geez, that was fun. Especially after drinking beer all night long. Talk about a bunch of wet seals lying around the room the next morning… burping, farting, and climbing over each other to get to the small bathroom. Here’s a great quote I found on Crazyguy.

Be aware that Oktoberfest beer - specially brewed for the occasion - is stronger than usual. The standard serving size is one liter (about two pints). The Hofbräuzelt is very popular with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders - probably due to the Hofbräuhaus' international fame. Female Australian visitors are known among the locals for their willingness to bare their bosoms and regal the oompah band with their bras (no kidding).

Yep, been there. Lived it. Seen it!
Knock, Knock, Knock. “Hey, Mozam where is the Netherland’s F-16 tactics manual?” Wow, that was fast. I’m back in the vault. “It’s not done yet, we’ll have it done by the end of the week.” Crap, I don’t even remember getting on the plane back to Vegas. Oh well, I’ll go back again soon enough. After all, the internet is a wonderful thing. Here ya go take a trip of your own to Bavaria. Next time I’m taking the bike!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Totally “Chuffed” to Bits!


There I sat at work the other day, bored beyond comprehension, watching the clock on my computer tick down the minutes until quittin’ time when I decided to check out CrazyGuyonaBike. I haven’t been there for some time, so the thought of lurking around there for the rest of the afternoon seemed to have given me a jolt of enthusiasm and anticipation. You see, CrazyGuy is a site where people from around the world journal about their various cycling expeditions. Some of the accounts are downright well written, humorous and fascinating — and some, not so much. Well, I decided to click on the “featured journal” to see what’s up. What I came upon was one of those stories that you just can’t stop reading. Replete with colorful text and pictures, the account of this couple’s month long tour through the South of France and interior of Switzerland seemed to take me away from the boredom of cubical-hell, and deliver me right there along with them.


I wanna Move here!


Most accounts are great chronological entries that feature the details of the moment-by-moment happenings of a day on the bike. These accounts can be somewhat interesting at times, but most often they dribble towards the boring, laborious details that don’t really tell a story. This account, The Sound of Cycling written by Cathryn Ramsden, was different. Different in a “feelings” kinda way. Not that I’m a sappy, whimpy cyclist, but I really like the way Cathryn told her story. She did a great job of balancing her feelings about their trip with the not so entertaining details. She takes you on an emotional journey of planning and anticipation followed by, the anxious possibility of being totally “gutted” due to a serious accident several months prior to leaving. All in all, it is just a great read. So I’ll quit writing about it and just let you read it. You can find it here.

One of favorite guestbook entries: “Thanks again - you gave me the perfect excuse to fritter away an afternoon's work...” My sentiments exactly!


Here are somemore really great reads

Trans Am Blues
A great read about a young guy trying to deal with life and his dream of a Trans America Bike Tour.

Moving Forward in Souther France
A nice story about a couple's month long tour through the South of France.

Mad Max goes to burning man!
This is a really cool story by a guy who tries to make it to Burning Man. Ohio to Nevada. Great read!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Are your Balls Ceramic?


What I really mean is: are your ball bearings ceramic or steel? I read an article about these new wonders of modern cycling and decided to do some investigating of my own. What I read did, indeed, spur on a little more curiosity. Would these magic balls make me ride faster? Would their decrease in weight help me get up a hill with less effort? And, was the cost justified? So after much net surfing and reading, I decided to purchase some individual balls and replace the Shimano steel balls with these new ceramics. As with most things when purchasing cycling replacement parts, there never seems to be an even number of anything that can be bought as a replacement. I mean, the rear hub has 18 little balls, 1/4" in diameter and the front hub has 22 balls 3/16” in diameter. It seems that everyone sells these little ceramic jewels in packs of 10 or 25. So, on the up side you get more balls for your buck, but what’s a guy to do with 2-3 extra ceramic balls, eh?


I guess I was on more of quest to see how light I could get my new wheels with your average stock parts than anything else. After installing the ceramics in the rear hub, the weight difference came out to around 60 grams lighter. The wheel set together came in at a respectable shade less than 1700 grams. So, now I’m down to 1640 grams for the set! Wow, that should equate into some serious kick-ass climbing advantage! Now I’m off to the front wheel. I figure I could gain at least another 60 grams by replacing the 22 steel balls with ceramic. All this for another 50 bucks or so. Not bad for a buck a gram.

As for performance and personal satisfaction by going to ceramic balls, the jury is still out. I did get a really good deal on the Shimano hubs and built a pair of new wheels for around 200 bucks, but the advantage of ceramic hasn’t really hit me yet—and probably won’t either. Geez, I think I could put a little less water in my bottles, take an extra piss, or leave my camera at home and get the same advantage. But, like I said, the jury is still out on going ceramic. Personally, most of my balls will be like Superman and remain balls of steel!

Some interesting links on Ceramic Balls:

Ceramic Supplier VXB

More Ceramic Ball Info

Yet one more link for fun. Check it out!

You Tube Video on Ball Bearings

Thursday, April 24, 2008

30 Years and 11 Months!

Craig at the entrance to Brown County State Park Lodge

Yesterday was one of those amazing days that you experience in life. It has been 30 years and 11 months since I saw or heard from my best man at my wedding. I’ve been actively looking for Craig Hamilton for what has to be 10 years now. I’ve searched high and low and used some of the best free sources available to find him. Well, yesterday, 22 Apr 2008 I finally did. I got bored at work and decided to try one of those “find anyone, anywhere sites.” Just on a whim, I typed his name into the little search box. As always, there were a gazillion Craig Hamilton’s located throughout these United States. I perused the list and stopped to study one entry that had an address listed in Indianapolis for a Craig Hamilton. Well, I thought, “why not give this a try.” I clicked on the name and sure enough, it was Craig Hamilton with the first address listed as Indianapolis, Indiana and the last address as Craig Hamilton, Los Angeles, California. So, I went to the magic that is Google and typed his whole name in plus Los Angeles. A few hits came up with Craig Hamilton, photographer and Craig Hamilton, this and that. I pursued the photographer link and found a picture of a guy holding a camera while shooting photos of race cars. I stared at the picture and thought, “Man, that does look a lot like him.” But that was all I had, a picture. I looked even closer and noticed the guy in the photo sported a goatee. That’s what gave it away! I was sure that was him. I sent an email to the guy who owned the site and asked him to pass along a message to the dude in the picture I thought was Craig. I gave him specific details that I knew only Craig would know so that Craig wouldn’t think I was some kinda stalker or something. It didn’t take long. I got an email last night from the guy who I hadn’t seen nor heard from in over 30 years! So, let the reunion bullshitting begin…

Craig headin' south to Brown County

Cycling content. Way back when, Craig and I rode our bicycles from my house in northern Indianapolis to Brown County State Park in the middle southern Indiana. I think it was something along the lines of 66 miles or so. I managed to salvage a few pictures from that day and they are posted here on this Blog entry. I remember that day well. It started out as most rides do. Full of enthusiasm combined with a nice cool, and windless morning. As the day went on, however, the temperatures of the roads climbed, the wind picked up, and we started getting hungry.

A Younger and Much Thinner Mozam!

Back in those days, the best bike you could get on our pay, which was basically nodda, was a Schwinn Varsity. We rode down to the park, stayed the night in pretty crappy tent, and rode back the next day. And so, Mozam’s cycle-touring career began! As a side note, cycling was basically all the transportation we had. No new cars, crotch rockets, computers, or cell phones. Just a bike. I remember riding that Varsity everywhere; to friend’s houses; to school on occasion; and just generally farting around. Who knows, with gas prices as they are, maybe those days will return.

Our "deluxe" Accomdations!

Goofin at Purdue, Fall of 1973

The Last Time I saw Him for Many Years

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Six Day’er for Vegas?


I recently read an article about U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame member Jack Simes, who wants to bring six-day bicycle racing to Vegas. So, what the hell is six day racing anyway? Well, this type of bicycle racing is done on a Velodrome using fixed gear bikes and was popular in the middle 1900’s, especially in Europe. As a matter of fact, 6-day racing is still very popular in Europe. You can read the history here. The whole thing sounds right up Vegas’ alley. Why? Well, when you read the history article you will know. Anyway, even throughout the event’s history the spectacle seems to be based more on entertainment than cycling so I guess that’s a cogent event for Vegas. I’m not sure it will compete with the good ‘ole cow-pokes or NASCAR fanatics, but if you mix in gambling and some serious entertainment you just might have a winner. But then again, who knows. This town is all about the roll-of-the-dice anyway. You could probably put bears on tricycles, race them up and down the strip while at the same time, hand out free drinks and 10 to 1 odds on the winner and still make money around here. So, I say, why the hell not. I know I’d be in as a spectator for a few races.

More Links on Six-day Racing

Bobke Strut dot Com

Six Day Racing dot com

British Cycling News

Cool Book on Six Day Racing

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Black Saturday Indeed!

I don’t usually like to write about the misfortunes of other folks, but his past Saturday seemed like “Black Saturday” to me when it comes to cycling. Three folks, two of which I know personally, crashed big time while riding in an organized event, and the last of the three who was riding in my little peleton. Planet Ultra’s Mulholland Double Century and Century took out two people pretty badly. I’ve never done that ride, but I do know the area pretty well and there are some pretty wicked climbs, as well as wicked descents over there in that part of the Santa Monica mountains. My friend, Cynthia took a particularly bad spill as a result of some alleged poor LBS work on her bike. Evidently, her handlebars rotated downward on her stem, leaving her virtually “brakeless.” Unable to stop on a steep descent and with the potential of plummeting down a steep embankment, she chose to take a rock wall head-on in order to stop. Here’s an excerpt from her account of things:
"I should be writing Specialized a letter....their product is the bomb! There is nothing like having to pick your own crash landing spot...that was the most hellish experience...one that I don't want to go through ever again! And when the choices are cliff, embankment of rock, or try to ride out one more corner in hopes the descent does not get any steeper....well, those choices suck, ya know! I chose the embankment. Now, since the "School for Stunt Women" has not officially accepted my membership application yet, I do not have professional training on how to crash! Needless to say, somehow the most protected part of my body took the initial hit. The top of my head went into a rock, with my body doing an endo before landing. In my bloody resting spot, my helmet was intact, un-cracked, and no serious head/neck/back injuries of mention. Wow! Was that cool? So, I am now DEAD set on riding Specialized for my next road sled!!
For those who haven't seen me, I walked away with stitches to my left knee, hip, and forearm. I have superficial wounds in random places, bruising and strained muscles. I see an orthopedic next week to assess the damage from the laceration to the knee. I feel like I am recovering very well so I anticipate a good medical report with hopes to be back on the (a) bike soon.”

My other virtual BikeJournal friend had a similar Mulholland experience. Evidently, the road slopes away from you on several corners of the course making turn negotiation rather difficult. Curtis was lucky in that he, too, walked away from a horrible crash. After looking at the pictures of his bike, I’m amazed that he only suffered from a broken collarbone. You can read his account here.

I’m not much for cell phones, but this puppy saved DrDog’s bacon on last Saturday’s tour of Boulder City. I was in the lead with Bobbie on my wheel and the Costin peleton in tow, about 50 yards behind. There were a couple of splintered two-by-fours laying in our path. As we approached, I pointed them out as hazards (good bike leader etiquette, I might add) to the rest of the gang. Well, it appears that my signal did not get passed down the line, like it should have. DrDog was positioned well within the peleton, but not well enough to avoid the obstacles. I heard a muffled noise behind me and decided to take a look over my right shoulder. All I could see was a pair of legs sticking straight up out of a cloud of dust. DrDog hit the two-by-fours dead-on, did an endo over his bars, and hit the dirt while bouncing into the air a couple of times before coming to a rather dirty and bumpy stop. He, too, was lucky on this “Black Saturday” suffering from only bruised ribs, road-rash, and the loss of a now useless $700 dollar phone. The only thing we could figure is that the phone (tucked in his jersey’s rear pocket) hit the pavement first instead of his body. So, the phone acted like sort of a cushion, albeit an expensive cushion at that!
The only bright spot in “Black Saturday” that I can think of is that fact that everyone is still vertical! That’s a day I hope not to relive, or read about, anytime soon.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Make'em Race Bikes for It!

What a great idea! Get rid of all these delegates, super-delegates, under-the-table-vote-changers for whatever reason, and give them road bikes for the Tour de White House. I’m pretty sure we would all know who would win given the current field of racers, but it would be fun to watch anyway.
In my never ending quest to find Blog topics, I thought about the question of whether any of these Presidential candidates were cyclists. The first thoughts that came to mind were: Obama is, or was, a cyclist because he sports that cycling physique; Hillary…not so much; McCain…too old and probably can’t remember how to ride a bicycle. So, I almost stopped my search there, opinion. Then I thought, do any of these people support cycling as an alternate means of transportation? The only one that I could find any information on was, you guessed it, the one who looks like a cyclist. Now, I’m not a real political person and I admit to not having voted in the last couple of elections, but this time will be different and my vote will go to someone who supports this sport as an alternative to burnin’ up dead dinosaurs.
Think about it. When GW took office, gas was $1.45 a gallon or so. Now look at things: $3.50 for premium and prices don’t show any indications of settling down any time soon, YGBSM! Either the next President supports alternative means of getting places, or they better find a way to lower the price of fuel because there is brewing public revolt taking place. Look at the truckers. They are paying about $3.75 a gallon for diesel fuel and it’s not even refined! If you wanna paralyzed the country, piss off the truckers. That’s a real good start. Supporting cycling may not be a political bedrock, but at least public support by the next President would get people and policy makers to consider cycling as a viable means of getting around. If folks picked up a bicycle and rode it to work a couple of times, we could lower the price of diesel for the truckers and keep this country on an even keel.
All right, let ‘s get back to the important stuff: Crazy Pastors, Lying about flying through a combat zone, and Chelsey’s inability to talk about her old man getting a hummer in the oval office.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Yep, First Thing They Do...

Have you ever noticed that people pretty much do the same thing when they see your bike leaning against a wall or post? Human nature is an interesting study when you step back and watch it. Inevitably, the first thing most people will do is walk up slowly towards the bike, stare at it, and kinda lean to one side while studying the various parts. They will then stand up straight, put their hand on their chin and study the bike even more. Next, they will walk over to it, grab it by the handle bars and back of the saddle; lift it up and down a few times, all while shaking their head in some form of amazement. Now, there are a few forms of handling the bike and similar to the one mentioned earlier. I have seen some folks grab the top tube and pick the bike up with one hand. But, just about all pick it up and down a few times just to confirm the fact that is does in fact weigh the same with each subsequent lift. Then come the questions. The first one seems to be fairly consistent: "That’s a nice bike you got there, how much did you pay for it?" And…my favorite, "That bike sure is light, how much does it weigh?" After answering the first question, the response always seems to be, "Wow, you can buy a car for that much money!" And, in response to the answer to the second question comes, "What’s that thing made out of anyway?" So, the banter goes back and forth until the interested party is satisfied with the level of knowledge that they have attained. Actually, I’ve often noticed us knowledgeable cyclists doing exactly the same thing. Try it some time. Leave your bike there for someone to examine. Inevitably, they will study it for a moment and then they will go over and pick it up, put it down, and pick it up and put it down again. Then come the questions.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This thing called Randonneuring


I've had this nagging feeling about cycling this year, and I seem to be caught in between the racer wannabes and the "just-ride-for-fun" crowd. All this mileage chasing and racing the rabbits has had me a bit disturbed. So, I decided to look into this randonneuring thing that I've heard so much about lately. Well, I think this just may be the ticket.

The emphasis on this type of cycling is primarily on the individual and not geared towards any kind of racing per se. Although the events have to be completed before a certain time limit, the time limits seem to be doable at a reasonable pace. Not only are these rides doable, they seem to be quite pleasurable in nature and focus on the camaraderie of cycling instead of the competition of cycling.


Rather Cool, Peachy, Keen Medal You Can Get When You Complete One of These Brevets

The complete Medal Gallery

Rather than go into all the particulars of randonneuring, I thought I'd post a couple of links that outline this type of cycling quite well. Basically, the rides are organized into what is called a Brevet (Bre'veh) and can be 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000, and 1200 kilometers in length, with the grand daddy of them all being the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200. All these are sort of a right-of-passage and come complete with bragging rights! So, off I go into another really cool segment of cycling!

Here is the "official" USA Randonneuring site: RUSA

Thursday, March 06, 2008

An Old Friend


This past weekend I resurrected an old friend, my Trek 2300 road bike. I bought her complete back in 1989 as a closeout model from a shop that no longer exists here in Vegas, Bikes West. I remember bringing her home and thinking to myself that this was the ultimate riding machine. She had seven gears, index shifting, three-cross wheels on Matrix rims, and a frame made from combined carbon-fiber and aluminum tubing. Wow, I thought! Technology is great and it just doesn’t get any better than this. I used to methodically clean her after every ride, painstakingly wiping her down from top to bottom hoping to somehow maintain that “new-bike” look.


Upon our first move from Las Vegas to Hawaii, I built a bomb-proof bike case out of plywood and packed her away for the long overseas trip. Unfortunately, I lost interest in road biking for a couple of years while in Hawaii, and my once cherished companion stayed locked away in her wooden cocoon.


I guess I’ve resurrected this bike a few times now that I think about it. The first coming was when I broke her out in Hawaii after a couple of years and actually started riding seriously again. After moving back stateside, we completed the Ride of the Rockies together in 1999, 7-speed original groupo and all. The second coming was a new paint job and the one that her frame sports today, only this time I added a 9-speed groupo for the new millennium. As a hallmark of her durability, we completed our very first double-century ride together in March of 2003.


Replaced by the need for a new frame and new fancy components, I stripped her down once again and tossed her in the garage for quite a number of years. She moved from this peg to that peg; from this shelf to that shelf, and always seemed to be “in the way.” Every time I would go out into the garage and see her hanging there, I would think to myself, “I gotta do something with that frame.”

Since I build my own bikes and do my own mechanic work, I often get requests from people to do some form of mechanic work on their steeds. I recently took a friend’s road bike and converted the shifting from the traditional road shifters to mountain bike shifters to give the bike more of that “motorcycle” feel he was used to. Well, during that transition I had an epiphany: hey, I thought, why not do the same thing to my old frame? And that, as they say, is the rest of the story. Recently, I did some work for a bike-shop owner friend of mine and as payment, he gave me a new pair of 8-speed mountain bike shifters. I sorted through all my old junk, came up with the rest of the parts and voila, she was reborn for a third time! And, what a great ride! So, now I have one more new-old bike to ride. I love rebirths. Life is good!

Last ride: Training, Saturday, 27 Dec 2003, Green Valley to Blue Diamond, 47.8 miles

Latest ride: Commute: Monday, 3 Mar 2008, Anthem to Nellis and back, 48.39 miles.

Totals since Jan 2003: 42 rides, 1786.36 miles.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How's Your Bar Tape?

It sure felt good to be back on the bike yesterday after getting over this local disease that has afflicted everyone lately. While I was “down and out” I had the opportunity to do a few things to the bikes that I’ve been meaning to do for some time. One of those things was to swap out a couple of handlebars and change some bar tape.


Now here's an interesting wrap job, eh?

Are you picky about your bar tape? I mean, do you have to have it wrapped just so and finished off with that “pro” look? Well, I was always curious about why my tape never looked as good as those “pro” bars looked. So, a few years back I began to practice and ask questions about how to get that elusive “pro” look. I guess it is a bit anal to care so much about how your tape looks, but it really does matter to me. I work in a bike shop on occasion and I’ve seen some of the most unbelievable wrap-jobs you can imagine. Some people apparently never changed their bar tape since the first time they purchased their bike. These people are either really cheap, or they just don’t seem to care what the bike looks like. The bar tape jobs that really make me cringe are the ones that look like they have been drooled upon, sweated through, and used as a plate for lunch. You know, the nasty faded, slimmy ones that look like the colors have bled together so badly you can't make out the original design. Nasty for sure! Not to mention the colony of germs and other microscopic creatures that probably inhabit the handlebar.


A rather crappy wrap job in this photo
(Notice how bad the finishing tape looks)

Here’s another example. How about those wrap-jobs that seem to come unraveled all by themselves some place in the middle of the bar. The ones where the overlapping has disappeared and show the bare handle bar. Kinda looks like some kid did those jobs. And finally the finishing tape. My favorite for sure. This is where I’m really picky. I like that sharp, together, pro-look. Not that I need to use the finishing tape that comes with bar-tape package because that stuff can be really hard to work with. I’m talking about a nice neat, even wrap of either black or colored electrical tape. With just a little extra effort, I’ve managed to get some really professional looking bars by just using good ‘ole electrical tape.


This my Trek 5900's bars wrapped with Bontrager finishing tape


The Tarmac finished off with red electrical tape


The Roubaix with Blue electrical finishing tape

On occasion while working in the shop, I’ve seen what looks like miles of electrical tape wrapped and overlapping everything on the handlebar in some of the most heinous ways. The one crap job I get the most kick out of is the one where there is about one-quarter inch of electrical tape on the bar tape and about 4 or 5 inches wrapped off the bar tape and onto the handlebar itself. I guess whoever wraps the finishing tape like that must wanna make sure the bar tape stays firmly on the bar. So, they use just a little extra! Oh, and who can forget the, “I was in a wreck, ripped my tape, and decided to repair the rip with a few extra wrappings of electrical tape” type folks. I like those too. Can’t spend some bucks on new tape so I’ll use a yard and a half of electrical tape to fix the rip.

This is an interesting wrap. Notice that there is no finishing tape

Ok, so what’s the point? Well, here is what I do after years of raveling and unraveling bar tape. I start with the color. Hands down the best color is black. Plain and simple. Doesn’t show dirt, grime, and black always looks black. Unless of course you are one of those acid sweating, bleach anything with my bodily fluids kind of guys/gals. If you are, go for the synthetic mostly plastic stuff. It will last longer for ya. I start off at the bottom of the bar and wrap towards the outside. In other words, wrap the tape towards yourself as you make your way around the bar. Next, keep it a little taut as you make your way around the bar and wrap with about one-quarter inch overlap. Ok let’s get to the finish because wrapping the tape step by step can be somewhat boring and I think you get the idea. So, once you get to the end, hold the tape in one hand and scissors in the other.

This the proper way to start the wrapping

Cut the tape at an angle so that the factory finish side remains on the outside. This gives that factory finish wrap look all the way to the end. By cutting the tape on the inside (towards the stem) the final portion is covered by the finishing tape. Finally, wrap the tape around the bar tightly and follow up by securing the bar tape with some electrical tape. Be sure to wrap the electrical tape neatly over and on top of itself. This is were the extra effort pays off. You can now put the fancy finishing tape over the electrical tape, or you can find an accent color you like and use that over the top of the electrical tape. Voala! You now have “pro” looking handlebar.

This won't work. Notice that the wrapping pattern is backwards. Your pressure on the tape will cause it slide off of itself.

Some bar tape wrapping links:

Park Tools: How to wrap bar tape.
Planet Bike Instructions
Bicycling Article
Stupid Hurts I know article and pictures
Velocity Nation: Article and Youtube Video

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hal Rothman — Tribute to a Cycling Buddy

Hal is the one in the yellow jersey. He couldn't ride any longer.

This time last year we lost a good friend and cycling buddy to ALS or what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. His name was Hal Rothman: cyclist, husband, father, and down-right genius if you ask me. Ted Kennedy said that Barrak Obama inspires him. Well, Hal Rothman inspired me when he was alive, inspires me today, and will most likely inspire me for the rest of my life. I must say, I've not met too many people who were what you would describe as bigger than life, but Hal Rothman was that way to me. I was never very close to Hal and you wouldn't describe us as best friends, but everytime we ending up riding together, you would think we were related somehow. Hal had a great way of making you feel part him, especially when he would expound on a particular historical subject or political topic. Hal was Jewish and I remember asking him about the Mideast situation and what he thought of it. What ensued was an oral dissertation on the creation of the earth by God, to the present situation today complete will all the details somehow packed in between. I used to just ride my bike and listen; often wondering how one person could stuff all that knowledge into their cranium!

Hal was a history professor and Chairman of the History Department at the University of Las Vegas Nevada, author of several books; and a nationally recognized expert on Las Vegas history, not to mention just about everything else. Hal was a great writer and he loved to talk. In fact, Cowboy, another riding buddy of mine, said, "yeah, you could never get him to shut up." That was Hal: ask him a question about some historical subject and he would expound for what seemed like hours. To this day, and I'm sure many more, when I think about Hal yaking up a storm while riding, it will always bring a smile to my face.

I've included some links below to things written about Hal. Please take a few minutes and explore them.

A few articles and some information about Hal Rothman.

UNLV Bio of Hal Rothman

Las Vegas Life Article about Hal

Review Journal Article about Hal

New West Article featuring Hal and his work.

Some of Hal's quotes.

Hal's Books

A couple of Hal's ride reports: Click on the links.

Lake Tahoe Century — 2005

Tour de France — 2005

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Finally Did It — Butterfied Double Century!


Click on the graphic for 2008 Planet Ultra report and results

Finally after 4 attempts (albeit weak ones), this one is finally in the bag. Butterfield changed this year and actually reversed course that included an all new route. The organizers warned everyone before hand that this route is rather urban, so if you don’t like stoplights and local traffic, pass and do another ride. Altogether, the route was very tolerable and absolutely beautiful in most spots. I gotta tell ya, when the weather in Cali is nice, the riding is superb, hands down. A pretty large contingent of Nevada riders showed, and we even had 3 tackle the beast on single-speeds: Mike and Steph and Frank. True heroes and a heroine of pain to be sure. Especially that 8-10 percenter right after lunch, ugh! All honor to their names! The rest of us slackers used our geared bikes to guide us up and through the tough climbs. Urban is not necessary bad, especially early in the morning and on a Saturday. We did, however, have our share of red-light runners (shame on you) and urinating on state-park property thugs, however. All of which were singled out and chastised profusely by the Planet Ultra higher-headquarters ride organizers. As a result, they are gonna put marshals out there next year to catch all you hooligans who think that red lights are only for cars. So, keep the Johnson where it belongs and use the provided facilities next time, OK? Forewarned is forearmed!


Mozam, Steph and Lisa cruise the PCH

Butterfield (which will be renamed to something else later) gives you a bit of everything really. Cruising along the beach; a bit of urban sprawl complete with some of the biggest estate homes you will ever see; to a gorgeous countryside spattered with horse farms, avocado orchards, and a few killer climbs thrown in just for fun. The support was pretty damn good too. If you are looking for a stop every 25 miles on these doubles, pass because you will be sorely disappointed. But, the SAG stops available were always stocked with plenty of food and drink, not to mention some pretty cool folks who managed to keep a smile on their face for some pretty long hours. My hat is off to these people. The most they get is a t-shirt and a surly comment from some idiot who can’t seem to appreciate what it takes to support one of these events. So, I always make a point of being very thankful and outwardly appreciative for all they do so I can enjoy myself.


Mark and Al cruisin' out of the Mountains

I relearned quite a few lessons on this ride. I basically violated every rule I had ever set for myself when riding a Double Century by not staying true to my riding plan. First off, we waited around at every rest stop for way too long. That’s basically a show-stopper in and amongst itself. You get tired, stiff, and suffer from mental fatigue. So, it is better to spend as little time off the bike as possible. We also stopped at points along the way much too often. It is better to slow down and let someone catch up than stop rolling altogether. We also lolly-gagged at lunch way too much and that compounded our timing problem even further. The bottom-line: keep moving and learn to refuel and hydrate on the bike as much as possible. Finally, I highly recommend sticking with your plan once you establish the plan in your mind. Compromising your plan for others will only lead to frustration on your part over the long haul. Once I realized that I had completely compromised my plan, the impact of my actions did not hit me until I tagged up with a group of really cool folks with about 7 miles to go to the finish. The guy next to me in the peleton said, “well, at least we will make the time limit!” Holy shit, I thought as I looked at my watch. I had ridden 187 miles and I was in a potential situation of being disqualified because I couldn’t complete the ride in 17 hours. I felt like a complete idiot because I had completely lost track of where I was and what time I was supposed to be there! So, keep the stress level to a minimum by following your own pacing schedule, the ride goes a lot smoother and you are a lot happier with results of your efforts.

Ending on the upside: It was a gorgeous day with perfect riding conditions. I met some really cool new folks towards the end of the ride, and I just had a blast bombing down Santiago Canyon in the pitch-black darkness. I know, sick isn’t it? And…I got to ride through some beautiful California scenery that can only be appreciated when you see it from a bicycle. I’ll be back next year, you can count on that!

See a slide show ride here
Read about the Butterfield Double Century here

Monday, February 11, 2008

Too Many Bikes?

My Trusty Steeds Await!

I was in my garage the other day and a question popped into my middle-aged noggin’: Geez, do I have too many bikes? Nah, you can never have too many bikes, right? It is a guy thing I guess. Kinda like too many tools! You can never, ever have too many tools. I can prove it too. When my Dad died back in 1991, my Mom gave me all his tools, at least almost all of them anyway. What I discovered was that not only did I get my Dad’s tools, but I got his Dad’s tools too!

Seems every time someone comes over to visit, the inevitable tour of the house follows, and they always say the same thing when they enter the garage: “Man, you have a lot of bikes!” And…invariably they always start a verbal count…one, two, three, on…and on…and on…until they satisfy themselves that I, indeed, have too many bikes. Then the conversation usually centers on my justification of too many bikes and the fact that I, indeed, ride every single one of them. I even get a little embarrassed sometimes and add, “well, I do build my own so the cost stays down.” Robin Williams is a big cyclist (50 bikes, last I heard) and he buys a new bike practically every time he sees one. His wife commented one day saying that he had too many bikes. His reply: “well, they could be Ferrari’s.” Man, I can identify with that statement for sure. I’d feel a little guilty about having too many bikes, but I do in fact ride every one of them, and I enjoy it.

I even tried to get rid of a few frames once, but they are kinda like old friends now ya know. They keep coming back like homing pigeons or something. I tried to sell the Team Fuji on EBay, but nobody wanted the darn thing even though I lowered the price several times. So, I gave it a face lift and turned that puppy into a single speed. And it was a good thing I did, too. I’ve never had so much fun on a bike before. I also tried to get rid of the old Trek 2300 first-generation carbon-aluminum frame and nobody wanted that either. Couldn’t even give the darn thing away. So, I kept that one too and my plan is to turn it into a straight-bar road machine for be-bopping around the neighborhood.

OK, You can stay...But you can have only one gear!

They say the measure of a man is what people remember about him once he’s dead and gone. Well, as far as I’m concerned they can remember me as: Mozam, the guy who had a lot of bikes!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Cold, Dark Commute...


Today was my first commute of 2008 and in a word, it was cold! 27 °F and dark too! Back to that in a second. It appears that some busy-body, no-account asshole intent on keeping track of peoples’ comings and goings decided to single me out for scrutiny. I was told that I was creating an impression of taking too liberal a view of working out at lunch. The regulation (yeah it sucks working for da guv-ment) clearly states that I can take an hour-and-a-half 3 days a week to workout (GWB’s initiative to keep us all from dropping dead). So, I had been combining my workout with my lunch hour to get a few miles in. Actually, I was only riding for little over an hour on my riding days for about 20 miles or so. Well, this just didn’t sit well with some no doubt fat-chain-smoking creep, and now I’m told to correct that perception. So, in a few words and reading between the lines that means, “stop riding your bike at lunch.” So, if I want any miles during the week, I either commute, or ride after work in order to comply with the request from on-high. Ya know, I watch all these smokers around here take time away from their work at least 10 times a day for 10 minutes at a crack, to suck down a proven cause of cancer, and the leadership tells me I can’t go for a ride to keep myself healthy. What bullshit! But, being the good trained soldier, er uh, retired-military dog that I’m am, I just shut my mouth and implemented plan B. One thing that I learned as a graduate of the United States Air Force Weapons School (TopGun for all you Tom Cruise fans) is to always, always, always…have a plan B.

Note to self: plug in battery to fancy, expensive, flame-throwing light BEFORE early morning commute. Hey, what do these two red lights mean? Yep, 5 minutes out and on a dark bike trail with no street lights, I’m riding blind! Helen Keller Mozam, Whoohooo! Quick thinking on my part to switch on the backup light kept me from endo’ing on the upcoming rock (we have a lot of those here) in front of me, and directly in the path of my front wheel. There’s nothing like an adrenaline rush like that at 5am to get the ‘ole ticker going! The song, “What a dumbass” kept playing in my head over and over again followed by an encore of “Color Me Stupid”.

Pretending to be Helen Keller


It has been awhile since I rode so early in the morning and in such darkness, and I was reminded again of how much more attention you have to pay to drivers at such an early hour. The one’s that really getcha are the numbskulls that pull out of side streets 90 degrees to your path. They do that, “maybe I’ll stop here, but not really, look in the opposite direction first kinda thing” while rolling through a stop sign. Makes me wish I had a hammer so I could put a big fat dent in their hood as I pass by. Oh well, off into the concrete combat zone on my trusty two wheeled steed I go! “Know thy enemy, know thy self”.