Monday, August 25, 2008

kudos to me for updating this blog all summer...  maybe i'll continue to not update it with tales of battling traffic in the semiurbanized shithole that is college park, MD.  I don't have energy to write this thing so why would you (yes you...) want to read it?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thomson Falls, Montana

Currently alive and well in Thomson Falls, Montana.  Rode a beautiful 50ish miles today (everyone else did about 80).  I kept a pretty good clip today,  and probably cruised somewhere in the high teens.  The day started with some of the most beautiful riding I've ever seen or heard about.  I stopped to take a few photos early on, when I was still with the car.  I got out and rode around the second rest stop.  Temperatures later in the day got up around 111F on the pavement.  Steve (rocketman - awesome camel back tan lines) took and impromptu dip in a lake, and were quickly followed by Dough and Dwayne.  I got a burned a bit on my back when I continued on sans jersey.  I have a few photos to post, but will likely do it tomorrow because everyone is starting to turn in.  
In other news -- Daniel invited a touring cyclist named John to stay with us for a bit.  Hes cycling unsupported from some small town in Alaska to some place in Colorado, and is towing one of his sled dogs (squirrel) along in a bob trailer.  He's been on the road for about 36 days and hasn't payed for a place to sleep yet.  He has some awesome stories about bluff charges from grizzlies, etc.  I think daniel and I are the only ones not entirely amazed by what he is doing, but we're both a little jealous.

We have what looks to be an extremely hot century into Missoula tomorrow.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Currently staying in Spokane at Gonzaga. We've made it to our first rest day without any major issues. The ride so far has exceeded my expectations. Initially I was worried I wouldn't be able ot ride a lot, and that I'd be worked to the bone. Instead, I've been able to ride a decent amount, and I've had enough down time.

The people on the ride are also far different than what I was expecting. I assumed most of the participants would be seasoned cyclists who had finally reached a point in there life where their job was secure, and their knees still had cartilidge in them. I certainly wasn't exepecting a huge portion of othe riders to be about my age, and relatively inexperienced. We had riders setting up their first pairs of clipless shoes the night before the 90-ish mile first day. Despite this, there haven't been that many issues. Unforunately, one rider was sold a bike that was far too small for him and ended up riding the first two days with his saddle about 2 inches too low. He spent a day off the bike and seems ok now. A lot of the work I've been doing is fit oriented. Saddles too low, too far back, or just at a ridiculous pitch. Aside from that, I've just been turning a lot of barrel adjusters and truing derailer hangers that were tweaked in shipping.

The daily driving is getting a bit tedious. At this point, the roads are long and straight, over rolling hills. We're on the leeward side of the cascades and everything is very dry. Having my ipod on, and being able to look forward to getting on my bike make it all bearable, though.

Yesterday morning, we left Odessa, WA. The town had about 1000 residents, and no traffic lights. We camped outside of the town's highschool, and shared the facilities with the school's football camp (the team is comprised of 8 people). Most of the towns we go through are similar in size and description to Odessa. Small town America is alive and well, apparently. I've stopped at a few retro drive-in burger jointsfor lunch. It is kind of apparent that the 'retro' vibe isn't a cultivated marketing strategy, and more of a nostaligic pining. Alot of the places remind me of towns in Bradbury stories, particularly Dandilion Wine. Maybe its just because of the handicaping nostaligia. I have some pictures that I'm waiting until I get a wi-fi connection to post. I'm used to being able to stop in any coffee shop and use wi-fi, but out here, if it does exist, it isn't free.

Again, sorry for the abrubt ending, poor spelling, odd diction, etc. Blogging gets on my nerves.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I've been in Seattle for a few days now.  I'm staying at the University of Washington in a dormitory overlooking the city.  I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a great bike commute from the U into the downtown area to the ALA.  The Freemont district is always a sight, and offers a great view of the skyline at its zenith.  I made a short video of the descent towards the lake, which I'll try to post.  I think my fingers make a cameo, and possibly steal the stage for a short solo around minute 1.  Check out the one handed, roll to a stop, camera-holding track stand on a geared road bike, and the oblivious parallel-parking motorist (a rarity in Seattle).  Video should appear at the bottom of the post -- I can't figure out how to put it elsewhere.

I've tried to photograph the campus in a way that does it justice, but the weird diffused lighting always seems to thwart my best efforts.  The hub of the campus, and interestingly minimalist discoid fountain, is set on axis with Mt. Rainier to the south east, a statue of George Washington, and the Cascades to the west.  All this adds to the amazing gothic ambience of the campus.  We've experienced amazing weather, but on some level I feel like a Londonesque drizzle would further the scholastic vibe that emanates from buildings.  To put it shortly, the University of Washington is going on the short list of graduate schools I would consider attending.

Today most of the big riders arrived.  Evidently, they come from all walks of life.  People who have ridden a maximum of 20 miles at a time to date, to people who rode 200 mi last weekend.  Their means of conveyance also vary accordingly.  Hybrids, flat bar road bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, sport tourers, tourers, pure road bikes.  Forunately, no recumbents or tandems (both eat tires and spokes, and spit out stretched chains).  This is mostly due to the inability of recumbent and tandem riders to unweight wheels individually to avoid square edged bumps and pot holes.  On top of this tandem cyclists don't generally have practically rooted ideas about wheel products.  It is not uncommon to see low spoke count wheels paired with disc brakes and slightly overweight riders.  Generally this situation leads to hubs that stop rotating before the rims follow suit -- broken spokes and stressed spoke beds etc.

I've spent the last few days piloting the most ridiculous automobile in existence -- the generally sumptuous and opulently apportioned Ford Expedition.  Daniel and I have affectionately dubbed it the pig, for its soft flesh-toned leather interior and despotic girth.  As we ride I plan on zip-tie(ing) various bits of road kill to it in order to complete the image of a true road warrior.  After running around Seattle, the trucks are ready to roll out.  We leave for our first day on the road tomorrow morning around 6.  I'll be up at 4.

Well anyone looking at this enjoyed the randomly selected photos and crappy video.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Almost time

I'm enjoying a brief vacation in Fenwick Island, DE. The weather has been great, but the surf is pretty awful. Every once in a while a decent set rolls in, but always closes out and turns into beach break. It could be enjoyable with a skimboard and few attractive alternatives. I, however, have a few good books and a terrible cyclists tan to kill.

My bike is in the mail, and I'm leaving next thursday -- bright and early. When I'm away, the best ways to contact me will be cell phone (sometimes) and email (sometimes). I think my email can be found somewhere on this thing, but if not here it is: nbrennan_at_umd_dot_edu.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Some people think you can tell alot about someone from their bike

Here are a few of mine...

This is my 2005 Lemond Buenos Aires.  Frame is True Temper OX Platinum tubing, OCLV carbon.  Components include a campy centaur mix, conti gatorskin tires, and a WTB silverado saddle.  Eventually it'll probably have a largely chorus spec, maybe with ksyrium ES wheels.

My redline monocog.  Initially intended as a place holder frame, until I could get a Gunnar.  I've been unable to break it, and it rides great (longish toptube and steepish headtube).  Now has a salsa cromoto stem, salsa big sweep carbon bar, hayes hydro brakes (off an old dualie), and an orca road saddle.

My surly long haul trucker, a great commuter and tourer.  Currently, it is sitting is my basement sans fenders, covered in mud, and sporting 2.1" nobbies.  That funny thing attached to the stem is a first generation jeff jones h-bar.  I use paul canti levers and paul thumbies to make the build work.

not pictured... trek 4300 singlespeed commuter, redline 925, fetish obsession dj bike, and haro backtrail x3 bmx bike.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

hello? is this thing on?

To introduce myself...
My name is Nick, and I am from Baltimore, MD.  And, for those of you on the ALA's Big Ride, I'll be your bike mechanic!  

I started working in bike shops early in my high school years, and I currently supervise the University of Maryland's Outdoor Recreation Center bike shop.  I'm confident that we can get your bike across the country in one piece!  I got into cycling through street bmx, which lead to mountain biking, which led to needing a job and getting one in a bike shop.  I now log most of my miles on the road, either commuting or road cycling.  Although I've grown to love the hills in the Patapsco Valley, I would say that my passion is still mountain biking, and I race and ride whenever I can.
For the last few months, I had expected to spend this summer riding coast to coast unsupported (camping and cooking).  Unfortunately, my riding partner dropped out on me at nearly the last minute.  This, however, has left me available to act as the mechanic for the Big Ride, which I am equally excited about.