Specialized HP floor pump with Switch Hitter II head

Alright, I thought I was pretty competent with bike floor pumps.  Until last night.  It was

Specialized HP floor pump
Specialized HP floor pump

rather embarrassing, really.  My Blackburn pump has served me well for the better part of a decade but it’s a 1,000 miles away from me right now.  So, a new pump was in order.

The Specialized HP floor pump looked to fit the bill.  It is almost all aluminum construction, so it looks like it will last.  And the parts are replaceable.  Good enough.  And Hoback Sports in Jackson Hole was having their 15% off sale, so I couldn’t resist.  The pump head is supposed to support both Presta and Schrader valves without any selection, adjustment or fiddling with adapters.  Great!

Except when I went to pump up a tire and nearly flattened it trying to connect the pump to the Presta valve on my Specialized Allez Elite.  And, this was at 10:30pm at night.  As an engineer, leaving a problem unsolved is an anathema to me.

So, I web surfed madly and found only this page describing the procedure for attaching the pump.  Immediately I tried reconnecting the pump and, surprise, it worked as advertised.  It was merely a matter of being too tentative attaching the Schrader valve to the Switch Hitter II pump head.

As it seems other people run into the same problem or complain about the complete lack of instructions for these floor pumps, I decided to make a short video explaining how to use the Specialized HP floor pump.  As I’m a cinematographer, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

After a morning of shooting, foley work, color grading, and editing, I now have a video that will (hopefully) help others in the future.  I certainly didn’t want to return to Hoback Sports and ask how to use this $50 pump.  Death before the embarrassment of admitting ignorance in this case.

The video does not show screwing back down the nut on the Presta valve nor replacing the dust cap.  Make sure to do this!

Riding the park

Riding through Grand Teton National Park is a great way to experience the landscape. Instead of being separated from the world by a car window while moving at 45 miles an

Sun behind the Tetons
Sun behind the Tetons

hour, enjoying the smell of sage at a reasonable pace of 14 MPH is more pleasant.

For my first ride in the park, I rode from the Moose visitor center all the way to the String Lake canoe launch. This reminded me of my trip with my brother back in the mid 90s. We rented a canoe, paddled across Jenny Lake, portaged to String and ultimately ended up at Leigh Lake. From there, we had to get the car.

Luckily for me, my brother drew the short straw. He had to walk along the Park Road all the way back to the Jenny dock to retrieve the car. It took him a couple hours of walking to get there.  Countless cars passed him and not one slowed down to ask if he was okay or to inquire why someone would walk along the park road in the first place.

String Lake
String Lake in Grand Teton National Park

And, back then, there was no nice bike or multiuse path to walk on. He had to walk on the park road which is always scary.

Gabriella Axelrad
Gabriella Axelrad

Back in 1999, young Gabriella Axelrad, 13,  was killed while riding her bike on the park road. The multiuse path connecting the town of Jackson and Grand Teton National Park is now complete in her honor.  It was sad to have to have someone die to have a nice pathway to separate bicyclists, runners and walkers from traffic.

I enjoy riding in the park because bicycling allows me to experience things in a more tactile fashion. Looking at

Linsdau resting at String Lake
Linsdau resting at String Lake

photos and watching videos of places is very well and good but it’s still not like being there.  And I photograph as well as shoot and edit videos.

That being said, there is nothing like being there and smelling the air. That is one of the reasons I am headed to Antarctica. Instead of looking at pictures and reading other people’s accounts, I want to have the experience myself. Because that continent is so otherworldly, it is difficult to get a feeling for it without actually being there.

At least for me.

The Tamarack Crawl

Once I realized the top of my foot was bugging me, I knew I needed to lay off the running for a few days.  No need to get really hurt by turning something slightly annoying into a major catastrophe.

So instead, I chose to ride over one of my favorite hills in Carlsbad several times.  I’ve

Tamarack elevation profile
Tamarack elevation profile

written about the grade on Tamarack before but this time I captured the elevation plot on my Garmin GPS 62s.  Having it was nice because I was able to see how much total climbing was done.  That information allows me to gauge where I am in terms of strength and speed by looking at the total climb and how long it takes me to complete it.

For this particular day, I chose to do 5 runs up and over the hill to Carlsbad Middle School and then back again.  Each time my speed improves.  Somehow, going up that steep hill never seems easy no matter how fast I’m going, though.  But at least for the first two passes, I was able to keep above 6 MPH all the way up.  That was pretty surprising to me.  By the end, I’m having difficulty keeping above 5 MPH.

Since my bike’s front crank is geared more for speed than hill climbing, this isn’t too bad of a feat.  It’s not like I’ll be tackling the Pyrenees on the Tour any time soon but it’s a good measure.

I felt pretty good getting home.  But, being fatigued, one doesn’t always think straight.  I was reaching around to power down the GPS but didn’t have both feet unclipped from my peddles.

Down I went!  Bam.


No serious harm was done, but now I had a sore, scraped up knee and a bruised hand on top of already having a sore foot.  So my idea of taking the load off one area of my body ended up costing somewhere else anyway.  I’m good today but still.  Over 1800 miles on my bike, I’ve had 3 zero speed crashes now.  Not bad.  I guess.

Maybe it’s me

It’s so strange. When I wiggle the bike just right I can feel like the whole frame is oscillating. And yet, but doesn’t appear to be anything wrong.

I had one of my buddies who is very good with mechanical stuff (mechanical engineering degree) check it out and didn’t notice anything, so this might all be in my head.

May be that my butt is too big and it’s setting up things just right to be like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

In any case, I rode around Miramar Lake twice and didn’t really notice anything. It may be just that I have not been in the saddle for a while and it’s bothering me.

Then again, it was good to ride on the flats instead of the local hills in Carlsbad, as my knee was starting to bug me from a yoga class. I over did it just a little bit.

Hills are way better for training but if the joints aren’t fully up to snuff, things will fall apart very quickly.

One of the fun parts of riding that day was it was right before a storm and it was very windy. The crosswinds are so strong I can actually feel it shoving my front wheel around. It makes it exciting since you’re riding on top of the dam.

I tested out my knee this evening powered it to the beach and back around trip of just under 9 miles. I only powered myself with a few dates and it PBJ sandwich just to see what I had in me. Actually, I only bonked out about half a mile from home and really slowed down. That was really impressive. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches really do have some serious capacity in them.


Bike trouble

Uh oh, I think I broke my bike.  I was going downhill just above 30mph when I went over a cover plate.  All of the sudden the forks and front wheel started wobbling wildly.  The brakes were hit and I came to a safe stop.

I thought I might have just wacked something really hard and just destabilized.  But, as soon as I got up to speed, I could feel the wobble again.  Crud.

Banging and twisting on the frame revealed nothing.  No obvious cracks in the paint are apparent.  Yet at any decent speed, I feel a low speed oscillation.  My distance chariot is down.  Call in Scotty to recover my ’02 Specialized Allez Elite.

Riding and climbing

Over this weekend I was able to get some bike riding done, something I hadn’t done in months. It was great to get out along the coast and tear it up. Or at least try to tear it up.

Bike riding is a very nice training regimen because it’s not as heavy a load as running but it allows you to constantly push yourself and breathe hard without the pummeling.

Then last night I met up with one of my old-time climbing partners and we hit up the local gym for a bouldering session. It’s been so long since I climbed but it really reminds me of what I was missing.

Climbing also exposed some holes in my training regimen. But as I’ve been sick and trying to recover the last couple weeks, I’ve not been working out, trying to get better.

Today I’m feeling pretty good. I’m not hacking up a lung, so I think I’ll give it a full workout and see how my body does.

Biking in Temecula

Bicycling in Temecula is a bit different than San Diego. Most of the days,

Riding in Temecula
Riding out at the wineries

there is a slight mist that hangs over the valley. Part of it is the smog that is trapped by the hills. The other part is actually an Asian-like mist that is always there.

According to the American Indian history of the area, the name Temecula originates from this mist. Whether it’s true or not, well, that’s up to the historians.

But, when that mist burns off, you start to roast. My photo from the middle of September 2011 shows I’m happy and cooking.