Sunday, January 31, 2010

California - Creak Never More

("Quoth the Raven Nevermore")

So, this morning, instead of enjoying a nice jaunt out in the California sunshine, we schlepped my bike over to Nytro, the closest Cannondale dealer around. The mechanic there, Rich, said he'd try to work on the bike, given some time and no rush of customers.

As I wheeled the bike over I thought to myself, "Watch me bring the bike in there and not creak at all."

Luckily, when I got there, I saw only one person dropping off a bike. And luckily the bike creaked a bit.

Nytro Rich quickly and professionally looked at my bike, perhaps helped by my introductory plea:

"Look, I put the bike together so please go easy on me."

He did some sanity checks, noticed that one of the crank arm bolts was a bit loose (relatively speaking) and found no creaking.

"Take it out for a spin behind the shop and let me know how it is."

I took it out for a spin and it seemed fine. A little complaint here and there, but, look, compared to the gravel-grinding from before, this was pure heaven.

I slapped a big-to-me tip on the bench.

"Thanks for buying me lunch!"
"No problem."

Tip: if you want to be nice to your local bike shop, either pay for service they offer for free or give them a tip.

We checked out some nice bikes (price tags on three of them - $13k+, $10k+, and $10 even - imagine seeing a $10,000 bike and it's not the most expensive one in the shop?), some other nice bikes (how about factory painted shop logos all over a Super Six?), and some other nice bikes (aero Felt road bikes and such). I fondled some aero bars (for what? I never TT), looked at Capo clothing (I think they look good), and chatted a bit about my Tsunami.

We returned back to home base, my hosts dropped off the kids at a friends, and we went out for a pleasant jaunt. Before we left I did what I tell my friends to do - put lube everywhere that may creak. I know, I know, it can get messy and all that, but I dropped lube everywhere. The replaceable dropout, headset cups, chain, I'm sure some other parts. The bike seemed to appreciate it, letting me ride in silence.

We headed out to the PCH via some climbs, and on one of them I made a relatively big bridging effort. I surprised myself by bridging with relative ease, and I eased hard and stayed with the bridgee.

Upon review (in other words, after I got back and downloaded the SRM data) I saw that it was about a 700 watt effort over 20 seconds. Very nice, for me, since I felt like I could do that for a much longer effort if I had to. It's no Cancellara, but hey, I'll take it.

Let's put it another way. It's what I have to do at Bethel, every lap, when the going gets tough. It's a lot of effort.

As a bonus my heart rate broke the magical 154 barrier, reaching a peak of just over 160 bpm.

Woohoo! Elastic heart, come my way!

After that, to my surprise, we ended up doing a few jumps. I did a bunch of 1200+ watt jumps, none feeling world-beating-worthy but all of them giving good sensations. I'm lacking a lot of strength I think, since I feel like I can't apply full power to the pedals. More specifically my upper body can't support the efforts properly, failing to anchor my torso properly for my legs' efforts.

My heart rate bounced around nicely, going up and down as I made efforts and then eased.

I noted that in the first 30 seconds or so of "ease" my heart rate would drop a good 30-35 bpm. This boded well for any race where I could coast for 30 seconds between corners.

Heh.

Seriously, though, it meant that I was getting decent, at least cardiovascularly.

Overall the day was a success. Less creaky bike. A few efforts to blow the dust off the machine. Affirmation of the frame's geometry and position. Relatively good fitness.

The next few days will involve doing some decent miles. I'll start with shorter but more intense work, graduating to longer, more diesel type efforts.

See, the way I see it, if I do a lot of short, hard efforts up the side of Palomar, that could count as a bunch of short, hard efforts.

Okay, maybe not.

Or maybe.

At some point, relatively fresh, I want to go out there and do Palomar with my heart rate in the 150s the whole time. I may have to call and get a ride home, but I'd like to do a fair effort, lay it all out on the road, and see what the combination of the weight loss and new frame get me.

And, if it doesn't rain at the end of the week, I'll think about even doing a little race. Maybe.

California - Palomar Analysis

In the 3-D Road magazine that I picked up at Interbike, there's an interesting article on training using power. The bookend rides in the article involved having the subject (a rider who was getting coaching) do an effort up some climb. At the end of the three weeks of training, the rider did another test. His wattage went up, his heart rate down, and he took minutes off his climb time.

So, with that in mind, I was curious as to how my climb up Palomar differed from 2009 to 2010. Granted, a year is a long time between "tests", and there's a ton of stuff that happened between the two climbs. Although it's a huge window of observation, I did do one significant thing - lose a ton of weight. Therefore it seems the data should be pertinent.

What I found seemed pretty interesting, at least to me.

First off, keep in mind that I never felt really great on my ascent on Friday. My heart rate seemed to get stuck in the 140s, I couldn't work super hard, and I just felt blah the whole time.

Second, I should point out that in 2009, when I did Palomar, I weighed 29 pounds more than I do now.

Third, I did two Palomar ascents in 2009. The first was a short ride, starting out literally a few minutes from the base. The second, three days later, was a proper "full length assault" involving riding to the base of the climb, and riding back to home base afterward. My 2010 assault, at least the one I did yesterday, was a full length assault. Curiously enough, even with some odd 2010 factors like my extremely slow "my legs are cramping" episodes, even without being able to go very hard, my Full Assault times were virtually identical, within 60 seconds of each other.

57 seconds, to be precise, but who's counting?

Another interesting fact. I have the actual wheels, tires, crank, virtually the whole bike from 2009 to 2010. All the critical pieces are the same - wheels/tires, computer and its settings (for measuring data), weight of bike is within half a pound, etc etc. I used the exact same tires, tubes, wheels, bar, brakes, brifters, SRM cranks (including the same arm length), Power Control (the SRM head), pedals, post, etc.

The frame (and importantly, its fit), fork, bar tape, headset, saddle, chain, cassette, brake pads, front derailleur, stem, and the rear derailleur cable are different. Oh, and I'm carrying about 12 extra Nokon segments. But the rest of the bike is literally the exact same last year to this.

So with those things in mind, here are some rough numbers.

1. 2009 Short Assault
Climb time 2:00:04
HR 152 bpm
Power 184w
Speed 5.9 mph
Weight 185 lbs.
(I stopped at least once, but I was in a group until the turn off halfway up, and then in another group towards the top. I started out way too hard, exploded, and crawled in at the top.)

2. 2009 Full Assault
Climb time 2:05:28
HR 138 bpm
Power 185w
Speed 6.0 mph
Weight 185 lbs.
(I stopped a few times on this climb for various reasons, hence the weird speed:time relationship.)

3. 2010 Full Assault
Climb time 1:59:35
HR 140 bpm
Power 167w
Speed 6.3 mph
Weight 156 lbs.
(I stopped once briefly, to shed some clothing, but I'm not sure why the discrepancy with speed:time)

Okay so what can I deduce from these numbers?

The first - I'll never be a competitive ProTour racer. They flew up the climb, taking 35 minutes for the section that takes me about 75 minutes. I'd lose 40 minutes on a climb that's considered "not very hard", at a "middle of a huge stage" pace, where no one really attacked.

I'll delete my various race resumes I was putting together for Garmin.

Second, my power in 2009 was much higher, in the mid 180s. I didn't break 170 in 2010, about 17-18 watts lower than the prior year. My heart rate was much higher too - the short assault involved starting as a group, so there was a lot of natural competition in the first 30 or 40 minutes of the climb (until I got totally shelled).

I hope this lack of power stems from me not eating enough or some other temporary thing. To have lost 10% power, that's not very good. My lower heart rate points towards a temporary thing though - I think having more fuel should do me better.

Third, even with my lower power, lower heart rate, I climbed the whole thing faster in 2010.

I guess the 29 pounds makes a difference.

And now I'm curious. If I feel okay, if I can put out 185 watts, how much faster can I go?

Only time will tell.

In other news my cranks developed an annoying creak. It's quite pronounced, consistent, and I think it's from the bearings. I neglected to bring all the BB30 tools on the trip (why why why?! I kick myself everytime I think of the tools on the basement floor at home). Therefore I'll need to head over to a shop to have them check things out. Cannondale isn't very common around here so I'll have to look hard for a shop that has Cannondale's SI crank removers. I'll also need to have someone look at the BB30 set up and fix whatever I did wrong with it.

I think tomorrow will end up almost a rest day. Hopefully at the beginning of the week I'll be back on the bike, training full bore.

Ugh.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

California - Double Peak Park, San Marcos

Today we rode out to and up Double Peak Park in San Marcos. It's a tough little climb, just a matter of grinding things out. I imagine that a fit rider would attack it ferociously but today I was the nail, not the hammer.

It doesn't help that you start off with a good 20 minutes of steady climbing before the steep park road. I hate these steady efforts, preferring either the on-off efforts of switchbacks and rolling hills, or the intense, "fall over if you don't keep pedaling" efforts on the steeper climbs. The more steady climb preceding the park felt really difficult mentally, even though I tried doing some surges on my own.

It didn't help that my heartrate once again refused to move much over 145 bpm. I'd be struggling moderately hard, riding along at my 20 min max of 260 watts or so, and my heart rate would simply not move from the 145-148 range.

Once we turned off the main road and approached the park road climb, I felt a bit better. More tired, yes, more fatigued, yes, but more motivated too. This was definitely a "pedal or fall over" kind of climb.

My training ride partner rode away from me, circling at a slightly more level area, before riding away a second time. I figured that this steep climb would force my heart rate out of the basement, but when I checked, it hadn't budged.

I did a moderately hard effort, holding 300+ watts, and watched as my heart rate creeped up to about 153 bpm. I felt a bit of triumph, like maybe I'd just broken the elastic restraining my heart. I eased.

It promptly dropped into the mid 140s.

I kept going, giving up on the whole "work harder" thing. With this weight loss I've noticed that although I may not climb fast, I don't find myself weaving drunkenly up climbs either. For example, yesterday's Palomar attempt was a pretty smoothly ridden effort, pretty much no weaving (except to get out of the way of a motorcyclist practicing cornering), no desperate "just keep the pedals moving" efforts. Just straightforward pedaling.

Likewise, although I wouldn't consider climbing up the Double Peak Park road the most enjoyable thing out there, the views are amazing, the climb is very doable, and I could see it being a nice part of a training ride for a fresher, more rested me. Maybe later this trip I'll return with a bit more in my legs, and see what it's like "under pressure".

You know, pretend I'm Lemond and this is the last climb of the 89 Worlds. Hammer up the thing.

The top, with truly an amazing view.

You can see clear out to Palm Springs from the top (well, the mountains around Palm Springs). The ocean, Camp Pendleton, and various other towns seem so close they're almost not worth mentioning. And this is in very hazy conditions. It's that high up.

We descended down away from the park. It's always a bit of a let down, the quick descents off of long, arduous climbs. Palomar, for me, took 2 hours to climb, 30 minutes to descend. 30 minute climbs typically take just over 5 minutes to descend.

I did notice that I can't descend like I did before. I now lack 25 to 30 pounds of mass, and that's pretty significant when trying to blast down the side of a big hill. Even properly tucked I couldn't bridge the gap to my training partner. This definitely gave me a pause because I've always relied on my descending "ability" to make up for lost ground. Without the ability to go downhill faster than anyone else, I really have to be able to climb well.

Hmph.

At least I felt better in my normal "hang over the bars" aero tuck. I did a couple tucks no problem, but the longer bike made me feel a little less secure in the half second it takes to swap hand positions down to the drops. Other than that transition thing though the bike felt really stable. Sweet.

We rolled back, taking advantage of California's bike lanes, talking while riding side by side. I turned around at some point and almost fell off my bike. Two guys were riding behind us, chatting away too. We all kept riding like we were a four man group.

My training partner asked if I would be working on my jump while I was out here, and I replied to the affirmative. In fact, I'd been thinking of asking if everyone wanted to go to a race the next weekend, but if my heart rate doesn't go over 150, I'd get dropped pretty quickly. I lamented this fatigue business out loud, but I realized that I need to actually go and do some efforts before I discount the idea of racing.

As we approached the last "usable" rise before the house, he asked again if I wanted to do a big ring effort. Or, as he put it, "Last chance for the big ring." We approached a 300 meter, steady, maybe 4 or 5% grade, preceded by an equal length, equal steepness descent - a perfect leadout to a nice uphill sprint.

Unfortunately the light at the bottom turned red just as we got there, so we had to ease. We almost came to a stop before it turned green. Then, when the light released us, the moment, the cadence, everything prompted me to do a jump, forget about the heart rate and this and that and whatever else.

So I jumped.

I jumped pretty hard, in too big of a gear actually, and shifted twice, the second time accidentally shifting an extra gear. I managed to get up to about 30 mph, hit 1450 watts, and held well over 900 watts for almost 20 seconds. Without a goal (a finish line or marker or something) I just kind of petered out and sat down.

The Tsunami, I'm pleased to report, felt totally planted, responded to every input on the pedals, and sprang away like a scalded... um, scratch that, like a startled cat. It had this feeling of immense stability between the cranks and the rear wheel, like nothing I could do would upset its composure. It felt like the bottom bracket was lower, like it was pulling the rear wheel down into the road, so there'd be no slippage.

Whatever it was, it felt really good. As I eased I started thinking about this potential race next weekend.

Hm hm hm.

Interestingly enough my heart rate, although it spiked a bit, never went over 150 bpm. And although I claim to have "petered out", I was soft pedaling a big gear up the rest of the rise, and had to consciously ease so as not to be a real jerk. My legs seem to be working reasonably well, even with just under 10 hours of riding in the last two days.

So maybe this heart rate thing wasn't a bad thing. I mean, yeah, my heart rate seems to be somewhat inflexible right now. Regardless though, I did the biggest jump wattage-wise I've done in a year. I did it at the end of a 90 minute ride. And although I wasn't feeling particularly fresh, I could dig deep enough to do a good sprint.

And I have another week of riding ahead of me!

Maybe, after this weekend, I'll go out and do a bunch of intervals. Or some other scientific kind of training.

Hahahahahahaha!

Who am I kidding?

Now to chill, eat, hydrate, and contemplate things.

Like the 900 boxes (!!) of Girl Scout cookies shortly arriving at this location (apparently I'm staying at the local Girl Scout cookie distribution center).

Lead me not to temptation.

Friday, January 29, 2010

California - Palomar!

Palomar, snow, and the bike. 39x23, which I used for, oh, about 3 minutes. 39x25 otherwise.

Now that I've given the plot away, I'll start at the beginning.

You may recall me mentioning that my pretty worn cassette didn't like the new chain, at least in all the middle gears. So, last night we embarked on a mission to buy a cassette. After a desperate drive to a local superstore, where they had an 11-25 Chorus, we arrived, literally a bit out of breath (I ran in from the parking lot). The guy triumphantly plopped the cassette on the counter.

11 speed.

Doh.

We trudged out of there a lot slower than when we rushed in. Then, on the way back, my friend looked at me.

"You know, I have a 10 speed cassette. But it's gonna cost you."

Big grin. We jet back to the house, unpack all these stored bikes, and lo and behold there's a 12-25 cassette. 10 speed. Chorus (all steel, but it has the carriers).

Works for me if it works for you.

We rummaged around his various bike parts, reminiscing about things like Scott Rakes (we both have ours here, i.e. I brought mine "just in case"). We talked about the other "mass start aero bar", the Spinacis. He admitted he liked the 3ttt ones better.

"You know, um, I forget what they're called..."
"Tirimasu."
Grin. "Yeah! And I have mine here."

Then he pulled out a very familiar looking pair of brake pads, still carded.

"I bought these Campy brake pads (actually Kool Stop but who cares) but they're the wrong ones. You want them?"

I thought, well, heck yeah, two replacement pads? When I need to swap out the yellow SwissStops and put in a quad of sorry looking OEM pads? I started thinking about where to put the two new pads - up front or on the rear. Probably front. Well, maybe the rear. Whatever, either way it'd work.

"Sure."

He pulled out three more packages. Tossed them over.

Not just two pads. Not even four. EIGHT brake pads! Score!

I started installing the various pieces while he fiddled with an absolutely terrible project, a single speed cowhorn bar bike. I suggested he make it really ridiculous so that BSNYC would harp on it. He admitted the futility of the usefulness, but ever since I met him he's been fascinated with cowhorn bars. I figured it's okay, we all have our weaknesses.

He was missing one piece.

"The only thing I need is a 1 1/8" stem."

I thought about the 12 cm stem on my bike. It replaced the 13 cm that was still sitting in the bike bag.

"I have a 13 cm stem here. Want it?"

"You're not serious..."

"Well, I had the 13 on, but it's a bit long, so I built it with the 12 that I stuck in my carry-on."

"13's the perfect size!"

I gave him the 13 cm stem.

Funny how these things work, right?

I have to admit that I need to buy another cassette for him because, frankly, I came out way ahead. And some brake pads too.

Anyway, when I had my bike not skipping and with nice meaty brake pads on all four corners, I realized something.

My bike was all set.

I turned to my friend.

"I think I'm gonna do Palomar tomorrow."

His look said it all. You just got here. Your bike is barely broken in. You barely rode. You're still dieting and have no fuel. You're out of your mind.

So as to set the stage I ate a lot of extra food that night. In calorie counter, though, the truth is a bit less impressive - I ate about 500 calories over my 1800 calorie allotment. Preparing for a 6+ hour ride, that's not a lot of calories.

I tried to make amends by eating two breakfasts, but I could only eat about 800-odd calories. I'll have to work on this for my other long days.

Anyway, once I ate and got dressed, I checked my bike over, got on it, and left.

Kitted up in shorts, SS jersey, LS jersey, a SS base layer, a vest, short finger gloves, and a Halo and skull cap, I felt pretty comfortable. Atomic Balm on the legs, arm and knee warmers as well as cold weather gloves in my pocket, I felt ready for the mid 50 degree weather forecast for the route.

I rolled through Escondido without too much problem, then headed up the Lake Wohlford climb. I noticed the front derailleur rubbed in the 39x25. I do this on every build, and I only notice it when I set out on a hard climb. Since at home I rarely hit such climbs (especially when I'm on the trainer), it takes a Wohlford or the like to reveal my build errors.

For the climb I just made a mental note to fix it when I stopped to fuel up and kept going.

I descended down towards the store at the beginning of the climb. Only four minutes of coasting, but again, I learned a lot of things.

First, with the front end of the bike way out there, I felt uncomfortable doing my normal head-over-the-handlebars tuck. In fact, I felt kind of uncomfortable doing the hands-by-the-stem thing. So I just held the drops and went relatively slow, probably almost 10 mph slower than normal.

Second, and I knew this but forgot it, with the low top tube, my legs have nothing to grab. My calves actually clamp the top tube, but since I quickly decided not to do my tuck, I didn't need to grab frame either.

And finally, the front end of the bike felt rock solid. I felt in total control of the bike's direction.

I stopped at my standard convenience store at the base of the climb. This time I only got some food (Pop Tarts and Valley Green granola bars), adjusted the front derailleur, and headed up the climb.

At first I was a bit disappointed. I thought that losing all this weight would make things hugely different, but

Once I got into the depths of the climb, I noticed a few more things. I guess 30 minutes of climbing just brushes the surface. Add another 20 or 30 minutes and more things become apparent.

For example, I noticed to my dismay that my saddle seemed high. In my "can't think while riding" state I couldn't figure out what I did wrong, but I think I set up my saddle height for 170s, not the 175s I'm running at the moment.

I noted too that when I slid forward on the saddle it seemed high. The saddle I'm using has a pronounced dip in the middle, something not there when it's new. I figure it's perhaps the result of a lot of miles, but the result is the same - I need to tilt the saddle down a touch.

Mental note - lower the saddle. And tilt the nose down a touch.

Over and over I felt a bit disappointed that I wasn't effortlessly flying up the climb. I thought of ProCycling Manager, where you basically play Team Director and tell guys when to go and how hard. Problem is that once your guys work through their available reserves, they change modes into "Death March". This involves riding at about 140 bpm, ignoring the pleading of the Team Director.

Tell your rider to sprint, he plods along at 140 bpm.
Tell him to attack, he plods along.

And, today, I was that rider. I would shift up to accelerate, and after a few seconds, shift back, returning to plodding along at 140 bpm. Well, 143 bpm, but who's counting.

I did notice that I never had to resort to the Weave, where I weave back and forth up the road. I never Stalled, where my cadence temporarily drops to Zero as I precariously balance, trying to get the pedal to go down while not falling over. And I never had to stop to rest. To take off some excess gear, yes, but not to rest.

I still have to download the data from the SRM, but I felt like I plodded my way methodically to the top. Once there, with daylight escaping rapidly, I made sure the post office was open, bought a post card, and wrote a love letter to the missus. The shaky handwriting wasn't from the emotion though - it was because I was shivering.

Shorts don't add up well with snow. I pulled on everything I had - the skull cap, arm warmers, knee warmers, long gloves, and the vest that I'd taken off partway up the climb.

I cranked down the descent. I'm pleased to report that the Tsunami handles like it's on rails. My nervousness regarding the aero tuck was the only thing holding me back, but the turns were a blast.

The ride home was almost uneventful. I had two weird lower inner thigh cramp episodes, where the muscles felt like they wouldn't extend. One happened on a steep climb with no shoulder and a small ditch to the right, and I geared down and prayed I didn't cramp. A few nerve wracking minutes later the muscles just felt warm and I tentatively started making efforts again.

The second time happened when I rolled up a short rise to a light. Of course it turned green, and I didn't want to unclip for fear of suffering a severe leg seizure. I did the same low rpm crawl across the intersection, then hung onto an electrical pole until my legs started getting that "just warm" feeling again.

Coming down Lake Wohlford Road, the same one that the Tour of California came down, a couple pickups passed me kind of aggressively. But the next one hung back a bit, giving me room to maneuver.

Suddenly I wasn't afraid of the tuck, nor of the hands-near-stem thing. And in a very quick mile or so, I'd caught back up with the two pickups.

Sweet!

After that little episode I rolled home, enough in my legs to do a little effort or two.

It felt satisfying to coast up the short driveway. Two full days into the trip and I had already conquered Palomar. Now, with the bike fully sorted out, I can start focusing on getting some other things done. Some shorter, more severe efforts, a faster Palomar attempt, and rides where my heartrate gets over 150 bpm.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tsunami - First Rides

Presenting....

The Tsunami.
(Thanks to my hosts for the garage door)

The Long Wheelbase bike. Or, as Hans christened it (while it was in the fit stage), The Tiny Bike.

The pertinent things, the ones that I specifically requested, are as follows:
- 565 mm effective top tube
- 400 mm BB to top of top tube
- Short as possible head tube (95 mm goal)

I trusted the rest of it to Joseph.

I got what I asked for, of course. The big surprise on the bike - the longer stays. They're about 410 mm, about 5 mm longer than the Cannondale. Note the ample room between the tire and the seat tube. Although this makes the bike more comfortable, maybe a bit more stable, I'm curious to see how it affects its "emergency maneuver" agility. My first instinct has been to avoid any chainstay longer than, say, 405 mm. My first race bike had 39 cm stays, and I think it set the tone for me.

You realize when you look at the side view picture just how long it is. I mean, it's long.

The wheelbase, with the long top tube and longer stays, ended up much longer than any frame I've had before. In fact, when I packed the bike in the bike bag, the fork missed the fork holder by a good six or seven cm. I had to reverse the fork to get it to clamp to the fork mount without having to stick the rear dropouts through the other end of the bag.

It's that long.

A side bonus?

My foot misses the front tire by a good 3 or so centimeters.

No more foot overlap!

Totally didn't realize this would happen, so it was a pleasant bonus.

Front angle

I'll point out the obvious. One bottle is not quite all the way in its cage, although it's out more than normal. I'll discuss that later.

The reverse angle, which, for some reason, I think is the best angle.

I couldn't tell you why I think it's the best angle. It's visceral I guess.

Exposed seatpost ratio makes me feel almost tall. I feel like I should have an aero profile seat post now, because there's so much of it sticking out in the air.

The smudges, if you notice them on the top tube, are from the Atomic Balm on my legs, when I stopped at lights and put a foot down. Yeah, on the second ride I was in shorts.

Blurry so don't enlarge, but you can see how skinny the headtube and headset are, compared to the stem.

The headset spacer is saving space for a Bike Pure spacer. Under the stem is the Cobalt aluminum top bearing cap. It's virtually impossible to tell that it's not black. Actually, it's almost impossible just to see it.

The electrical tape in the middle of the bar tape - the tape snapped while I was wrapping it last night, and as prepared as I was, I didn't have any more tape. I may be buying some Fizik tape later.

Technically I did two rides on the Tsunami today. One in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Of course all of this happened out in the San Diego area, a perfect place to test a new bike. I flew out here specifically to ride the bike.

Ahem.

Right.

Anyway, with reasonable weather (at least right now - apparently the last couple weeks have gotten some humdingers as far as storms go), terrain from flat crosswinds to short steep climbs to long Category 1 cols, this area is perfect for an extended test ride.

For the first rides I stuck with the more mundane - the Col de Torrey Pines and some coastal wind stuff.

So...

First off, the overall impressions.

Construction

The frame is great with a few imperfections. I'm okay with them all because they don't alter the bike's riding characteristics, but they're there nonetheless. I've been debating how to present them, but in the end I decided simply to present them.

First, I'm not sure how to deal with some of the less than perfect paint adherence in the little nooks and crannies, specifically on sharp edges like just next to the bearings. I cut some of the hidden stuff off with a sharp knife (a Swiss army knife, if you must know), and I'll probably finish the job while I'm out here.

Second, the cage mounts are a bit close together. They're close enough that regular aluminum Elite cages won't fit in both spots at the same time. The Specialized cages work a bit better, but they're still not perfect.

For the downtube I'm looking for a cage that holds the bottle as high up as possible. The seat tube needs one that has a low profile that still clears a front derailleur mount. I'm confident I'll find something, and if I can't, the cages on the bike now seem to work fine. I saw some potentially nicer ones at Nytro, meaning ones that will hold the bottle higher. I'll keep looking.

I should point out that I asked for a chainstay guard, a clear one. The Nytro folks gave me one. Sweet!

Third, and a minor one. The rear dropouts are a bit tight. Super fast wheel changes are out, but since I don't think I'll be in a situation where I need one, it's all good.

Fourth, and I'm not sure about this because of my lack of experience in the area, the BB30 shell seems a bit tight. It's good for now, the bearings are fine, but I'd like to have the free spinning bearings like how they were in the SystemSix.

Ride

Okay, so that's the construction. What about the ride?

(Disclaimer - I haven't done any high speed descending switchbacks, nor any racing in a tight group.)

Well, frankly, it rides awesome.

While my ride guide kitted up, I rode around the parking lot. The bike felt snappy, responsive, and very tossable. I felt like I owned the bike, not like I was trying to tame it.

I really liked diving into turns on it. I started riding kind of fast in the parking lot, before I realized that the parking lot of a pre-school place wasn't a good place to be diving into blind turns, with various parents and little kids running around.

I also like the longer cockpit which allows me to hunker down for efforts. I realized that I hunker down enough that I have to stop wearing cycling caps under my helmet - they force me to crane my head to see where I'm going.

Anyway, once we were both ready, we set off. Conveniently we were a couple hundred yards away from the Pacific Coast Highway. With its wide bike lane, we could ride side by side and chat.

I noticed that I had no power or cadence reading on the SRM. Later in the ride I realized that I had a wire break, and I had to bend the wire a certain way to keep the connection intact. It's now taped properly to hold that position.

We rode up a local favorite hill repeat climb, the one at Torrey Pines. Our turn around point would be at the top, so we attacked this steep col.

The first ever picture of the Tsunami in action.

Actually it was the second. In the first one I'm a tiny speck another 50 meters further down the hill. I'm all of 200 or 300 meters up the road from the little guard house in the background. This bit is steep.

This is the twentieth repeat in a series of leg searing intervals we did.... um... Actually it's the first time up the hill. And the only time.

We descended down the other side, but a headwind and lack of gearing kept the max speed to 41 mph. No curves either, to test the railing abilities of the Tsunami. No weird handling though. My ride companion Julie commented on a prior descent that she didn't want to hold me up on that particular descent, the first one on the Tsunami. I pointed out that the first descent is not the one to let it all hang out - it's the fifth or tenth one, after testing the bike at slower speeds. She thought about that one and laughed.

I tried to hold a longer, lower position while I rode, even though we weren't going super hard. I want to get used to fast, hard pedaling while crunched down a bit. This harkens back to my Chris Horner sightings, where he blew by us while jabbering and spinning away, super low on the bike, super fluent pedaling action.

That's my goal, and that's what I'll work on.

For now I have two immediate bike needs.

First, I'm riding a new chain on an old cassette. It skips under load in all but the 11, 12, 23, and 25. Since I actually use the other gears, I'm going to go buy a cassette.

Second, I can keep looking for the cages and some replacement tape.

And I want to hit up a Trader Joes for some healthier food.

Yum.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tsunami - Shakedown Session + To Do List

Heh.

"Defaced" was the word the missus used. She actually liked the SDC sticker, but she pointed at the USAC one when she said that.

Hm.

My first session on the bike, as preferred, happened on the trainer with a bike lacking bar tape (and full finger gloves on my hands). After finalizing any angle adjustments on the bars and brifters, I'll tape up the bars.

I have to admit that since the bar/brifter/stem unit came right off the Cannondale, it should be okay, but, you know, tradition dies hard.

So how'd the bike feel?

It felt just like the Cannondale, just longer. Without going on the road I can't tell how it'll ride, but it certainly feels longer.

Oh, in case you didn't know - this bike is a lot longer than my SystemSix.

I spent the first 15 seconds marveling that, hey, the hub is kinda obscured by the bars. Usually I see not just the hub but also the fork and the brake and even the brake pad mounting bolts.

Now it's just barely the hub.

Other than that, on a trainer anyway, not very much of a difference. Okay, it's way longer. But I'll need to ride it outside to see, and that won't happen until Wednesday at the earliest, Thursday being more likely.

Of course I refuse to test ride a bike in cold climates so I'll fly out to the San Diego area to properly test the Tsunami. Maybe I'll fly out Wednesday since I have a team meeting tonight and I figure I'll need a day to pack. I mean, this is what everyone does, right? I couldn't imagine riding a new bike on the salty, sandy roads around here.

Heh.

No tape, no second cage. Saddle is level, but the angle makes it look like it's pointing up.

The saddle is a bit beat, I may swap it before I leave for my outdoors test ride trip. Amazingly it's totally centered on the rails, not slammed forward like normal. I need to finalize the position but I have time to do it.

Reverse angle.

This is a loooong bike. I want some "L" stickers for it, like the Audi A8iL or BMW 750iL "L", for Limo or Long Wheelbase or whatever.

From the top. Slim tubes.

Comparison of the same stem on the Cannondale.

On the Cannondale the stem looked miniscule. On this one, it overpowers the front end. It's a 13 cm stem. I'll be bringing a 12 cm stem as well. The bike is that long.

Adjuster barrels from some old RapidFire shifters I had laying around.

I actually had the shifters in the box for some aerobar and/or recumbent bike shifter experiments. Those projects never materialized...

The threaded housing stops are a first for me for a long time. The Cannondale has just housing stops, no threads, so no adjuster barrels. The two Giants are the same, although they came with in-line adjuster barrels that work best with Shimano STI levers (although I used them with Ergo levers). The bike before that, the Specialized M2, had downtube mounts, and I used the STI adjusters (I really like the right side quick-adjust gizmo).

Anyway, I like the threaded boss feature.

Carpe Diem Racing. Dirty front brake. And some busted up Nokons.

Certain things make a bike look really sharp, and if those items look beat, it's hard to make the bike look anything but beat. New tires. New tape. New rims. And new cable housing.

I'm using beat up Nokons off the Cannondale, so the bike is lacking some of those final touches. The saddle isn't great looking either.

USAC decal. So sue me.

I need to get some stuff done before I consider the bike complete. Obviously the tape, but more subtle things include:

- Chainstay guard. I used a SRAM one I got at Interbike. I want to get a clear one.
- Frame protectors where the housing will rub. Clear ones.
- Figure out how to get two cages on there. With the Elite metal cages there's an "interference" fit. I think a good way to do this is to ride to various shops near the SoCal training camp area and browse the cages.
- Put a nicer saddle on, or at least one with better leather on it.

Tonight, team meeting. Tomorrow, a last trainer session plus packing for the test ride.

Wednesday, fly out for the test ride.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tsunami - Arrival + Build

So... I have a new bike. It's worth three of my other bikes. Actually, it really is because it's replacing three bikes. Right now I have one new bike and three unrideable ones.

Where do I start?

A timeline may help.

Friday: Receive word that the Tsunami frame has shipped out and will arrive... tomorrow?!

Saturday: Check tracking, see that frame did arrive, and that... the place just closed. Rush over there, knock on the window, beg and plead and put "poor ol' me" look on my face and presto, I have a frame box.

Saturday night, into Sunday morning: Build. Think about how stressed I would have been had the frame arrived Monday or Tuesday instead of Saturday.

Sunday afternoon/evening: After recovering from the massive previous night's effort, finish the build.

Of course I let the cats check it out when I get home. I take the frame out...

Frame and Mike. There were two slabs of Styrofoam too.

Since the frame would look like a BMX bike, I had to take this picture (it's supposed to be a frame pad, like a BMX race bike would have).

Tiger, his feelings hurt by the comparison to him and a Creamsicle, attempts to chomp the frame.

Tiger's orange is a bit different from the Tsunami's so he forgave the comparison.

Note the very cool headtube decal on the seat tube - so you know what just blew by you. Or who you're drafting, whatever the case may be.

Skinny tubing compared to the SystemSix.

BB30 bearings. More on these later.

Replaceable dropout; I need to buy some replacements, just in case. Sorry about the tilted picture.

The first thing I did was to weigh the frame. I think the SystemSix hits 1150 grams or so, based on articles I read. With an all aluminum frame of unknown tubing, with a request for "a really stiff frame", I was hoping for something under 1600 grams.

1440 grams, give or take. I'll take it.

I also weighed the Reynolds Ouzo fork.

457 grams sounded really heavy, at least compared to the 275 gram ones in the catalogs, but then I thought about it. It's one pound. And it has a lot of material. I'll chalk it up to peace of mind.

But for next time I'll be thinking about lighter forks.

Speaking of forks... the headset took forever. I walked by the missus for the umpteenth time and all I'd been reporting is "I'm still working on the headset", she made a very astute observation.

"I don't think you're going to finish tonight."

To be fair, I think I was 2 or 3 hours into the build.

Part of the problem - I used a homemade headset press, one gathered together at a hardware store. I got some extra washers just in case, and pressed everything in.

A tip - real headset presses are better, but you can use a fake one. It just takes longer. A lot longer. I had to try a couple times, being careful not to damage the head tube. And later, not to damage the fork. I have no fake headset race tool - I used a plastic mallet, gently, holding the fork in my hand (not bracing it on the ground).

Another tip - pay someone you trust to install these things.

Finally...

The headset is a gift from the missus as spec'ed out by me. I wanted the shortest stack height, stainless body, and reasonable weight. At 68 grams, 21 mm stack height, and sealed bearings, the Crank Bros Cobalt fit the bill. The missus worried about the color (the top ring is blue) but it's okay - it's the last thing anyone will notice on the bike when I get done with it.

So those of you that see the bike in person, I don't want a lot of "Why is the headset blue?" chatter. Hear? It's cobalt.

A key part to Tsunami (other than their $600 custom aluminum frame base) is their BB30 offering. Part of the key is the fact that it's just $50 more. The other part is that the offer simply exists. Since I bought into a BB30 SRM system I wanted to keep them. The cranks, incidentally, are about 675 grams, making them lighter than most non-power-measuring cranks, and they're also narrow and stiff. Very nice.

Removing the spindle from the Cannondale. Ew.
Note SRM pickup sitting under BB housing.

I started to install the BB30 spindle, first removing them from the Cannondale. They didn't really fit well in the Tsunami's BB30 bearings (made by one of the big parts manufacturers). I tried spinning them - I was appalled at how tight they were. I checked the Cannondale - buttery smooth.

I decided to swap the BB30 bearings.

I had to figure out how to do that.

Step One: Read the instructions.

I actually reviewed the steps before requesting that some bearings be installed (I decided I wanted to skip the bearings thing). I forgot something though - when I spec out headsets or bottom brackets, those parts that lay deep within the bike, I spec out the best stuff I can afford (without getting idiotic). I'll go for seals, higher quality bearings (not ceramic, not yet anyway), and non-rusting metals. So the bearings weren't the best, and I opted to swap them out.

First, remove the bearings from the other frame.

I should point out that I spent about 30 minutes (!) locating a suitable bolt for the SRM-BB-pickup-slash-cable-guide for the Tsunami. It helps to have a bike shop handy. Again, I'd recommend having someone you trust do all this.

If I thought the stupid headset took forever, field-expediting a BB30 bearing swap was even worse. Granted, I had the BB30 tools - the bearing spacer things, for example - because they came with the bike. You really need those solid metal things. But it says to use a headset press, and as I mentioned before, I have a homemade headset press.

I got it at a specific length, really a specific usable length, based on my typical head tube lengths. See, the big bolt I use is threaded for only a bit, so it has a minimum and maximum length.

A bottom bracket shell, at 68 mm wide, is much shorter than even a 95 mm head tube.

I needed spacers, and I needed a lot of them. They had to fit an enormous bolt, they couldn't crush easily, and they had to take up a good 30 mm of space.

This took about 10 minutes of poking around the now-even-more-messy workshop. I considered cutting down a piece of left over steerer tube, but thought splintering carbon fiber would be bad. I looked at various cassette spacers but most of them were plastic or soft aluminum, and they wouldn't stack easily - too much chance of the tower of spacers toppling.

Eventually I found the solution. Mechanics, professionals, and other craftsmen, please don't look at the next picture.

No, this is not the new 11x10s drivetrain shot.

Told you it was homemade.

Yep. I stacked a lot of 7, 8, and 9 speed cassette cogs. They don't crush, they have a huge opening, they stack well, and they're pretty parallel (the flat sides). I put one pair of washers under the bolt head, another pair after the BB30 cup tools (above the cogs), and another pair under the cogs.

I'm glad I got that extra pair of washers.

Of course, when I first tried to put the nut on the bolt, it wouldn't thread. What the... I just used it to install my headset! Why wouldn't it thread?!

Then I realized.

My homemade headset press bolt was also the punch I used to drive out the BB30 bearings. The threads on the end were ruined.

Another 10 minutes with a file (with a handle even - if I have a tool I have it) and the end of the bolt was nice and rounded and had no squashed threads.

About 40 minutes later I had smoother bearings in the Tsunami.

The rest of the build went a bit easier, but it was still time consuming. I'd decided that instead of taking apart the two Giants, I'd just take apart the Cannondale. And as clean as I keep it (ahem), all the parts were mysteriously filthy.

On one of my many trips past the missus I went and got polishing compound from the garage. On another, rubbing alcohol. Another, more rags.

The bar/stem combo lifted over from the Cannondale. So did the nice Record brakes. The carbon Giant gave up its saddle and post, then back to the Cannondale for the rear derailleur, front derail...

Ugh.

The front derailleur had to be a clamp-on, and I just assumed I had all the different diameters of clamp-on front derailleurs.

Wrong.

So I went digging through my front derailleur box. Eventually found a braze-on adapter for the right seat tube diameter. A Shimano piece no less. It even had a Shimano front derailleur on it (I used to use Ultegra front derailleurs) and I actually considered using it for a while. Then I succumbed to the pressure and unbolted a Chorus 10 speed (it says so right on the side) front derailleur from the silver Giant and stuck it in the Ultegra's place.

Then, after some judicious eyeballing, I clamped the assembly onto the frame.

Note: Usually this means that if I ever need to move the front derailleur the paint under it will be ruined. I guess I'm using a 53T for the foreseeable future, and I'll have to save the 55T for another frame.

With cables dangling in place, at some insane hour on Sunday morning, I decided I'd stop for a break (i.e. sleep). But before I left, I had to weigh the bike. It had the same wheels, almost the same components (exceptions include the front derailleur and the saddle; the posts are all Thomsons on my bikes).

I'd already weighed the Cannondale before I started the project.

Cannondale SystemSix with DV46 clinchers.

I hadn't installed the tape, chain, nor bottle cages. I forgot about the bottle cages in my bleary state of mind, but I realized the chain wasn't free.

Weighing a bike that has no chain or bar tape - just put them on somewhere else.

I was thinking it should be close.

0.4 pounds heavier. It's close.

Poor Cannondale frameset.

Sunday, after doing some insulation work, eating a marvelous breakfast (made by the missus), and generally putting around until my brain started working again, I decided to tackle the cables on the Tsunami.

I still had to rig things up - new adjusting barrels on the downtube, lengthen the Nokon housings to make up for the extra 3 cm in the top tube (7 Nokon segments per derailleur - the rear brake cable housing had always been long so I actually removed 3 segments), and install a new rear derailleur cable.

I applied some personal touches ("defaced it"), put it on the trainer, and did a short ride.

Impressions on that next.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Equipment - Tsunami Parts Plan

Once I get the frame, the natural question is "So what group are you using?" In fact, someone posted the question on my last post.

Will it be a radical departure from the current stuff? Maybe Di2? Or SRAM? Or even Microshift (rebranded Sampson among other things)? I'm always willing to consider what's out there, but I have to balance it with what I have, cost, and what I want.

Fit is most important. My saddle, bars, and zero setback posts are non-negotiable.

Ergonomics is next. I can't deal with Shimano's STI brifter, for example. So STI is out.

Cost gets bumped to third, but it's important, more now than ever. I want to get away from the ridiculously expensive Campy cassettes but can't figure out a sensible way of combining Ergo brifters and Shimano 10s wheels. Leonard Zinn did a bit on using a SRAM rear derailleur with Ergo brifters but I haven't been able to confirm that this actually works. I figure eventually I'll do something along these lines.

Anyway, those are my criteria. So what's the leave me?

As exciting as this orange is, I hate to say it but I'm gonna be boring on the build kit.

Let's start on the basic pieces, the order in which I'll build the frame. A lot of the pieces will come off the partially disassembled Giant TCR (aluminum). A bunch will come off the TCR carbon. I hope to accomplish much of this parts-gathering today so when the frame arrives I can install away.

By taking parts off of bikes other than my Cannondale (my primary bike), if I was really smoking a lot of crack when I ordered the frame and it's simply unrideable, I can pack up and bring the Cannondale to California without too much work.

Fork: Reynolds Ouzo, a fork on my aluminum TCR. 1 1/8", longer steerer tube than necessary.
Headset: A yet to be revealed headset courtesy the missus. Beautious for sure. The headset too :)

Cranks and BB: BB30 SRM Cannondale SI cranks. This is the only piece I'll carry over from the Cannondale. The frame will come with bearings pressed in, so I just need to tap in the spindle and figure out how many 0.5 mm spacers to use.

Seatpost: Thomson. 'Nuff said.
Seat: I'm debating, but it'll be a Titanio regardless. Debate continues after parts list.

Derailleurs: Some combination of Chorus and Record 10s, whatever I have on the aluminum TCR.

Brakes: Probably the Ultegra brakes off of the TCR. I may get the Skeleton brakes off of the Cannondale.

Stem: Ritchey.
Bars: Crit bend 41s, probably the Mavics off of the aluminum TCR.

Ergo levers: 10s Carbons of some sort. I loaned out a set of Records, if I get them back those will go on. If not, the ones off of the carbon TCR.
Cables and housing: I'll buy new cables. Nokon housing off of the carbon TCR. Hm. I may have to totally strip the Cannondale of cables since I think I robbed the Giants to outfit the Cannondale.

Chain: New 10s chain.

Wheels: Unless I sell them, my DV46 clinchers will go with me to SoCal. I may be bringing other wheels, pending some other situations out of my control.
Cassette: 11-25 for training, 11-23 for racing.

That's pretty straightforward, except for the "debate" I mentioned. Doesn't seem like much to debate, right?

Well...

There's the whole thing with color.

Orange frame. Black fork. Black post. Black stem. Silver bars, at least the bit you see. The rest of the parts are either black (Ergos, carbon bits in derailleur, Skeleton brakes) or silver (the alum bits, cranks, the Ultegra brakes).

The question is, what color saddle and tape?

I have a white Titanio which I dearly love. I also have a bunch of black ones.

I have about 6 sets of white Cinelli cork tape that I can use up. I have no black sets left.

I thought it'd be pretty straightforward. My lightest Titanio saddle, the white one, with one of my many sets of white tape.

Then I thought about what the bike would look like.

A Creamsicle.

Orange + White = Cold + Delicious
aka Creamsicle to me.

And as much as I like them, I wasn't sure the Creamsicle look was the right one for this bike.

Or fuzzy, as the case may be.

Orange + White = Cute and Fuzzy.
Tiger, when we got him, with his ever-worried look.

Orange + White
A few years later he's still warm and fuzzy.

Orange and black, a bit more racer-like, a bit less clown- or pet-like.

That's the major debate - white or black "touches".

The minor one is a bit less important. My box section aluminum wheels are blue. Orange and blue, not my favorite color combination. Of course my friend Bill, ever the Knicks fan, would disagree, but since I can't name a single Knicks player, riding around in Knicks colors doesn't seem appropriate.

Therefore I'll have to dig up a pair of black wheels somewhere. Or just one. Maybe I'll rebuild that Eurus front wheel I got from a friend.

I'll put that on the list of things to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tsunami Frame - Birth

I can't resist, especially after everyone asking me about the frame yesterday. I was going to keep the color a secret until the bike went together but...

Walla!

Color revealed. It's lighter in real life (apparently).

I'm normally pretty boring. Just ask the missus about the house I had redone. White bathroom. Tan kitchen. Beige carpet. Grey house. Black roof.

Functional, yes.

Decorative? Not so much.

I'm also pretty relaxed about my bike, at least as far as how it looks. Yeah, I have a beautiful SystemSix in Liquigas colors, but I'd have gotten it regardless of color. I got it for the SRM, the Record kit, the BB30, the light and stiff frame.

Appearancewise it happened to come in that green/black, which, on any given day, I'd have skipped. Too busy, not very discrete, but hey. That's the way it came so I took it.

With the Tsunami I was pretty lax about the color. Due to the team kit for 2010 I felt it somewhat necessary to limit the options to the red/brown spectrum. I included the ever-trustworthy (but boring) grey/white/black choices. I gave Joseph the option - White, Black, Grey, Red, Orange, or whatever he felt like that kind of worked with the kit (and my initial pics had me in my kit).

We kind of agreed on a Candy Red, but it didn't seem too important to me so I didn't bother confirming and all that. As long as the frame didn't show up in a perfect non-matching color (like blue/green) I'd be happy.

Just as a reminder, this is what I looked like in those pics I sent Joseph:

From the original post here.

(I peeked. I weighed about five pounds more than I do now. I feel lighter than five pounds lighter though, does that count?)

Anyway, Joseph admitted that his own bike wore a standard orange coat, and although he had done a bike in Candy Red recently, he was curious how a Candy Orange would turn out. Would I mind a Candy Orange?

Candy Orange it was.

To be perfectly honest, the orange is nice. It's obnoxious to a point (think of it - how many orange cars do you see?). It matches the kit's middle. That's good since I'll be sporting a black/grey helmet to match the kit's edges.

It's also a good color in general. Not too much orange after the Orbea craze died down a bit.

Of course now I'm salivating over getting the frame. Unfortunately, if you look at the picture, it was taken in the Tsunami Bike's birthing room, not my bike room. It'll be another week or so before it arrives.

ARG!

At least it'll give me time to buy some of the last minute stuff for the frame - chain, cables, I don't know what else...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Training - Outdoors Team Ride

Yesterday at work I did an unusual thing.

I called the missus. Asked her to bring some DayQuil to work. She came down and dropped it off (along with canned soup and a bowl).

Sounds like a recipe for sickness, right?

Right.

I was getting a sore throat, my head was swimming a bit, and I was feeling hot and cold.

Not good.

Especially since, unusually, I committed to an outdoors ride for today, Sunday. Normally I train all cozy and stuff in my basement, but I missed our last team meeting (it happened while I was in Florida) and it seems I needed to catch up with a few folks. So I committed to doing the ride.

I took some NyQuil, went to bed early, and fully expected to pop awake at 5 AM or so (7.5 hours after going to sleep, my standard "good rest" length of time).

Instead the missus nudged me awake at 8 AM.

And I felt exhausted.

I felt reasonable otherwise when I got up, my throat still a bit touchy, but no fever, no weakness, just some fatigue in the bones. I decided that I'd eat and go.

With temps below 30 degrees F at the start, I wore, for the first time in who knows how long, my windstopper tights, the heaviest tights I have. I also had on some standard winter gear - head thing, neck thing, booties, and my cheapo nice winter gloves.

Of course I had my team jersey on, but I slipped it on over an old team jacket. I have no current team jacket, at least not one to ride in, so I will fake it for a while.

I drove over to the Route 5 or something Park N Ride lot off of Exit 5, the meet point as described in our internal forum.

Drove around a bit.

No Park N Rides.

Remembered seeing Route 5 stuff for Exit 4. Drove back, found a Park N Ride, and a few guys waiting for the group. Bingo.

Note to self (and to the team forum): Exit 4. Not Exit 5.

Anyway, I had enough time to get ready by the time the group rolled in - and it was a pretty good sized group, about 17 total riders.

We set off on a winter LSD kind of pace, going a bit slower than I expected. In fact my fingers started to get really, really cold, a first for me with my favorite winter gloves, and I started worrying that maybe I really was a bit sick. At 30 degrees F or so my fingers shouldn't be cold.

I also noticed the cold wind hitting my head. Not just hitting. The freezing air drilled into my skull, freezing my brain, threatening to suck all the heat out of my body.

Normally I use a taped up helmet in the winter, but that was sitting in the garage. And for 2010 I want to get a skate type helmet, or maybe a ski one, where the helmet is less ventilated and more "aero". This would protect my head from the skull freezing cold when I put my head down to hammer. I haven't gotten it yet.

Note to self: Get the frickin' ski/skate helmet.

I did bring my ski goggles just in case. Ultimately I figure that'll keep my face much warmer. As a bonus my eyes won't tear up when the wind blows just right. I chose not to wear them though.

I chatted at the back (of course - where else would I ride in a group) for a bit, and when someone jokingly complained about the pace and then proceeded to roll up the side of the group, I followed.

I had, at some point, shifted into the big ring, but totally forgot about it, and so as we rolled up this minor climb I realized I was pedaling really slowly. But with my legs feeling okay, no feeling like my head was about to explode, I let the gears be and churned my way to the top.

We rolled up to two guys, but when I saw the group not following, I eased a bit and waited.

And bonus! My fingers were warm!

Over the course of the ride I think I efforted/eased three more times. I did another minor effort up a hill, and two where I eased off the back. Once I wanted to help a couple riders bridge. I dropped back as far as I dared, but since I had no idea where we were, I finally bridged up on my own.

I got to catch up with a bunch of guys over the course of the ride. Yes, I want to do this clinic thing I keep mentioning. It should happen in May/June, although we may have a less formal one earlier. Mondays (everyone's off day) would be best, probably in the evening.

No, my bars aren't that low. It's just that my seat is low too, because I have short legs. When everything is low, the bars look low automatically.

No, I haven't gotten my new frame yet. I expect it before I go to California, and I leave early on the 28th. That's in 11 days or so. I noticed a couple CAAD9s and one welded aluminum cross bike.

"It'll be kinda like those, except with custom geometry."

The inevitable question follows. I answer.

"Well, I asked for a 40 cm frame with a 56.5 cm top tube."

Usually there's a pause in the conversation at this point, and it's not caused by hills.

Finally I clarified my intent to sell off the DV46 clinchers. Yes, I want to sell them. Yes, they'll be really cheap. No, they won't include tires, tubes, or skewers. Or rim strips. And they're Campy, not Shimano, but I'll split the $100 it costs to convert them.

I was going to sell off the DV46 tubulars too, but I realized that I could use them on the track, and I would ask such a low price that I wouldn't be able to get even rims for new wheels at that price. So I'm keeping the tubulars.

Btw, does anyone have a source for 20H rear (rear! not front!) track hubs?

Unusually no one asked about Bethel. I guess that the rest of it is more interesting. It's kind of established so it handles itself.

All in all a decent ride. Being time limited I couldn't extend the ride at all. In the future I'll probably ride there with Jon, adding 12 miles to the route, and who knows, maybe I'll even ride to Jon's, adding even more miles.

I also want to ride on less fancy gear. I didn't change my bike at all from the trainer, so I was on my summer set up - Reynolds DV46 clinchers, 23c tires, no fenders, etc. A bit much I think.

I think box aluminum rims, 23s or even 25s, and a more solidly equipped bike wouldn't be a bad thing. The extra few pounds would help make the race bike seem lighter, and the bigger tires would make the ride smoother, more stable, and less puncture prone.

Of course, with the new frame coming in, it's kind of a moot point. I'll be setting that up for California (i.e. summer set up). We'll see what I do when I ride back here, outside in the grit.

When I got back I was pretty drained. I didn't eat for a couple hours, then after a brief eat, napped for a few more. I've been up only a couple hours since then, and I'm pretty pooped.

So, NyQuil, warm clothes, and bed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Training - DVDs from World Cycling

At work, each day, the UPS guy and the FedEx guy show up. Usually they come in somewhat discretely, electronic pad in hand. Sometimes, like when we got in about a dozen boxes of wine, the lucky guy has a big grin on his face.

"I need someone over twenty one to sign for this."

And then he gives one of those looks like "this is naughty stuff" at whatever aghast customer is at the counter.

I have to then say, "It's wine. For gifts."

And the customer and FedEx guy exchange knowing glances.

"Right. Wine. For gifts."

Of course, the two drivers have different styles. The UPS guy walks right in, says hi, how many boxes he dropped off, I sign, he's gone.

The FedEx guy is more like a ninja.

I'll be talking or eating or on the phone and look up and suddenly it's the FedEx guy, standing there, smiling, electronic pad in hand.

Then, after I finish choking on my food or trying to explain to the customer on the phone why I suddenly cried out in surprise, I'll grab the fake pen and sign the real pad.

He's really quite stealthy, and he has no problem roaming the store, looking for a signator (is that the right word?). In fact I half expect him to pop up in the bathroom, smiling, electronic pad extended my way.

Anyway, the other day the UPS guy came in, I signed, he left.

Usually he drops off boring things, small engine parts, maybe a gift for the daughter getting married tomorrow.

But I knew, I just knew, that this was my delivery.

I ran after him into the warehouse area, looking for a new box amongst the thousands of pounds of grain and feed and concrete and pellets and salt and sand and whatever else we have back there.

Voila! It was there, shining like a beacon in a dark storm.

Or like a small cardboard box that didn't fit in. It was too small, placed on top of a pile of grain, and it just didn't belong.

I grabbed the very small box, looked closely at the fine print (I'm getting old I think, but I tell people it's the dim light in the warehouse), read the label.

Addressed to me.

From World Cycling Videos.

Oh yeah!

I got out my trusty knife, carefully cut open the box, and shazam, I had a bunch of DVDs.

Of course I couldn't keep this to myself, everyone asked what I got, and lo and behold, I am sharing.

My latest additions to the stable are as follows:
2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 Giros
2007 Paris Roubaix
2003 Tour of Romandie (includes Tour de Suisse)
2005 Ghent Wevelgem and Het Volk
2004 Paris Nice
2007 Tour

I thought I ordered a few Ghents but apparently not. I also forgot about Romandie, Nice, and the 08 Giro. I'll take that trade, I think I came out ahead. I had my reasons to buy each one, and ultimately I hope to review them individually, by era. My short list of "Why" follows:

2003 Giro - Simoni wins his last Giro.
2004 Giro - Cunego wins what seems like his first and last Grand Tour
2005 Giro - Salvodelli, an insanely good descender, wins the Giro, I think partly due to a descent.
2008 Giro - Contador's grand entrance, and Levi is there. Also the team wasn't very good at the beginning and overcame adversity (cracked bone for Contador I think).
2007 Paris Roubaix - O'Grady wins.
2003 Tour of Romandie - Tyler wins, and it matches his 2003 LBL which I find inspiring. I don't care about Vino's Tour de Suisse.
2005 Ghent and Het - because I don't know who won each one, and I like these races the best.
2004 Paris Nice - CSC did incredible teamwork. I remember reading about it and thinking, I can't believe they pulled it off.
2007 Tour - I never saw footage of it, and I'd like to see the whole Rasmussen thing, Levi's 10 seconds (or whatever), and Contador. Plus I got the 12 hour version so it's good for 6 regular rides or 3 or 4 long ones. It may be my late Feb "training camp" DVD (i.e. my basement training camp).

So some pictures of my current DVD collection. "Current" means it's in the box under the DVD player in front of my trainer. This doesn't include a bunch of VHS tapes (which I backed up onto DVD so I can watch them in the dungeon). That'll be a different post.

Only the top right is new. The bottom left was signed by Lemond himself. I like the 2006 race, ditto the Lemond set.

New to me. No idea what happens in these races except Jorg Jaske (of Puerto fame) wins the one on the right. If I hide one I may not remember I got it.

I watch the 2003 LBL regularly. The finale is quite motivating. I hope the 2003 Tour of Romandie inspires half as much.

The 92-93 PRs are awesome. 2003 is a bit long. 2007 is new to me.

I really like the chaos of the Giro - small roads, weird courses, narrow finishes. And guys just leaving it all out on the road. I think if I hide one of these I won't miss it. I forgot I got the 2008 one even though I just had it in my hand while I was taking pictures. Had to shift all the DVDs over to make room for it.

Because I forgot that I took pictures of a couple of them above, they're in here. But "Blood, Sweat, and Gears" is relatively new, so is Race Day. The Quest 2 is about a year old. I tend to watch the "documentary" clips once or twice and then leave them be. The racing I can watch over and over. I seem to have left out the Telekom one, it's somewhere else now.

Because everyone laughs when I say I like this movie...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bethel Spring Series - 2010 is LIVE!

Oh, I love our rep in Colorado. Seriously, she got all sorts of things handled on the phone (rather than exchanging countless emails), all in a 30 minute conversation, give or take.

So, now, the 2010 Bethel Spring Series is for real.

Well, almost. I have to print and sign some papers and get them over to Colorado, then it'll be official. Everyone's already approved them, I just have to take that final step.

So now I can officially boast about our BikeReg page.

Yep, each event is there. On the first one, the Ronde, you can register for the whole Series. You can pay $12 per week for the six weeks of racing, or, if you want to do two races a week, it comes out to $11 a race overall.

In case you don't know this, it's a killer deal.

It's really a killer deal because we actually work with the racers with entries. We will bend over backwards to accommodate you because, frankly, you make the race. The Series is like a store, and you're the customer.

So, if you want to move a registration from one week to another, fine.

If a race is canceled, we refund you your $12 or $11. Or give you a race credit for a different week, whatever you want.

You want to help out? You race for free, depending on what you do.

Look, it's the way I'd want to be treated if I was paying a promoter to race. Of course, since I know what it's like to promote a race, I end up treating other promoters the way I want racers to treat me. For example, I usually write off a paid entry fee if I don't feel like racing, like when I wake up too tired to contemplate even driving to the race. But that's besides the point.

The point is that Bethel was started to be "A race by racers for racers."

There's no mention of keeping money that we don't deserve.

The only rule?

You have to ask for any changes before the race takes place.

In other words, if you want to skip a week because you got sick or something, let me know before race day that you want to skip that race and use the race credit at a later week.

Don't ask me after the fact.

Because, seriously, the one thing I won't do is bend over backwards for someone that overslept or partied too hard or something. Just give me a call or email me or something and let me know, and I'll move your registration back to a later week. Not a problem. Maybe a pain, but not a problem.

Ask me after the fact and it's a problem.

So, the race is on. We have some new stuff for this year.

I may have mentioned this before, but I want to say it again. For 2010 there will be some stuff that I really wanted to do for a while.

We have Leaders' Jerseys, thanks to Vergesport. They're yellow, cool, limited, and you can only earn one by winning the Series.

Very cool, right?

Well, when I see pictures of the Tour and such, the guys in the Yellow, even if they're just clinging to it by their teeth, they try and enjoy it a bit. They dress up in more yellow than normal.

Like shoe covers.

Ah.

Shoe covers. Yellow shoe covers.

Well, thanks to Verge and Navone Studios, we'll have three weeks worth of shoe covers. They'll match the Leaders' Jerseys of course, and they'll make you look all that more pro when you're leading the Series.

What's nice is that since we're getting more than just 7 shoe covers, the wearer of the shoe covers gets to keep them.

Like those guys that lead the Tour in the middle of the race - they have all that yellow kit stuff as a souvenir.

And, of course, you can't ride into Paris without a yellow helmet.

Likewise, the Leaders on the last day will be cruising around the course under a Leader's Helmet (made by Specialized, not the brand "Leader"), courtesy Outdoor Sports Center.

Incredibly, we have a full size run of a nice yellow, black, and grey helmet for all the Leaders on that last day.

Just like the shoe covers, the helmet wearer keeps the helmet as a souvenir. Since they'll have a pair of shoe covers, they get to keep them too.

Hopefully they'll get to keep the Jersey too, but it's not unknown for the Jersey to change hands on the last day. If that happens, the deposed Leader has the right to keep the helmet and shoe covers.

Of course the overall winner can negotiate. But that's up to them, not to me.

Pictures at some point, not now though.