Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interbike 2011 - Outdoor Demo Day Two

OutDoor Demo (acronym an unfortunate ODD) day two, or ODD2. We started the day early, heading out for the Tour of Lake Mead. We had to get gas first though, and Kevin stopped at a gas station that he remembered had something weird - 100 octane gas.

100 octane!

When you think of it there are probably people who use such gas for powerboats and stuff on Lake Mead.

Still, though, it's a bit weird. I've never seen such a thing.

Bonus - you can get diesel on the same pump.

Once there we got ready for the ride. It looked threatening out there, big clouds over the valley below us, rolling towards us. Lightning flashed every now and then, thunder following.

We lined up at the Strava start point, rain starting to fall. Strava is a new social media thing where riders can record their ride and post the stats to the Strava page. There's a lot of instant analysis possible, especially in its deluxe format. For basics you see the distance, route, time, and average speed. If you pay the membership fee ($6/month or $59/year) you can see all the regular power stats - various versions of time/power (like 20 minutes power), speed, cadence, etc. I decided on a lark to do the Strava thing for the ride.

I regretted not swapping my tires out, the few year old kind-of-hardened-rubber ones for the fresh, soft, pliable tires on my aero wheels.

I also kind of regretted not ever getting wet weather brake pads. The dry weather ones are great in the dry but in the wet work about as well as rubbing wood blocks on polished granite.

The first bit, all the descending on narrow bike paths (which also borrow storm culverts), would really test my completely non-optimized set up.

Yesterday I did a recon ride on that bit on the electric (and, at the end of the ride, the non-electric) bike. Knowing what to expect, I figured I wanted to be near the front. Only the first 10 or 15 would be able to go fast on the initial descent - those following would inevitably be held up by someone going slow.

Of course it isn't a race, and with my less than optimal set up, I decided not to push my way to the front. Everyone rolled off and I found myself well and truly buried mid-field.

Start of the ride, kind of.

The brakes scared me a bit more than even I thought they would, my hands getting tired from hauling on the levers so hard. This was just to bleed off speed - if I had to stop I'd have to use some terra firma or similarly fixed man-made structures.

I lost my wingman Kevin when I stopped to check the helmet cam (status: wet but working), then really pushed to try and catch him. With the group scattered from here to eternity I got to descend at a faster pace, able to plan my braking 10 or 20 seconds ahead, not a tenth of a second.

Once the route flattened out a bit (but still a downhill), returned to the nice-traction roads, I caught up to a waiting Kevin. We put down some speed, rolling along, like the good old days. He claimed he had problems staying on my wheel - he had a compact crankset with a 50T, I was running the tandem chainrings, the large one being a 55T.

But he quickly showed his fitness when he dragged me along, pulling at a hard pace. I blew up somewhere around there, let him go, and reverted to my "plodding" mode.

The rain, painfully hard at times, forced the park police to cancel the event. I turned around, waited for the first group, and saw a familiar face - Hunter, a strong rider from back home. When I joined up with the group I realized just how poorly my brakes worked, having to desperately grab brakes just to keep from running into the back of people.

I rode to the side. If anyone slowed dramatically (i.e. coasted) I'd probably run into them. Not wanting to be the idiot that took out the bike industry peloton, I decided to take a huge pull, shelling myself when I swung off.

So I hit the front in the 55T. The rain pouring, I gritted my teeth, trying to lead out the rest of the group to the bottom of the next climb. The camera van rolled by.

Please, take a picture!

The window rolled down. A lens poked out.

I assume the shutter clicked.

(I'm still trying to track down the shutterbug.)

I pulled off and sat up. In 30 seconds they were gone.

I thought of excuses, like maybe I had a flat tire, else I'd have been able to keep going.

Luckily for me, while riding with one of the IB staff that joined me afterward, I noticed that my front tire seemed awfully soft, even for a wide rim set up.

The flat tire.
Mavic motorcycle is off-screen to my right.

I rolled up to the Mavic support motorcycle. He was running out of wheels but he gave me a tube so I could swap it out (this let me save the long valve tube I carry around). Ends up he's a guy that has a shop in Massachusetts, some of his guys do Bethel. Small world.

Dirty bike.

I stopped the Strava recording, an app on my phone. The phone then uploaded the ride info to the Strava site.

Wow. I'm... not that fast.

To put things in perspective one of the Strava women rode at 20+ mph, did 272 watts for 20 min, and basically annihilated me. I was picturing this powerhouse type rider and asked if the rider was around. To my surprise the Strava guy leaned over to the petite blonde a few feet away.

"Elle! Can you talk to this guy about your ride this morning?"

Ends up she's "just" a Cat 2 (I had to ask about her category before she reluctantly told me, a sure sign she was a 2 or a 1 or a pro) and "struggled" when the front group disintegrated itself. She said it was pretty hard - she spent 42% of the ride at her threshold. All I can say is that I wish I was that strong.

I don't have my power stats as my finicky wire didn't pick up the power/cadence bit. But thanks to Strave I know I averaged 14 mph on my ride. I went pretty hard at times, not so much at others. Still, though, it was a tiring ride. I ended up collapsing in fatigue in the car, taking a brief unplanned nap.

Refreshed I walked around a bit. I did some stuff to earn my keep, but that's kind of boring.

Well, one fun bit was snagging test riders to see what they thought of Outdoor Demo, of the day, of the bikes. I had a good score - only one rider didn't want to talk. Everyone the others stopped all grinned sheepishly and rode away.

Kevin the Kameraman, David @Fredcast, and a guest (shop owner from Texas I think).

"Kameraman" reminds me of something I thought of during the day. I saw Markus Storck walking around, a very distinctive looking guy. I heard a snippet of his German accent (or just outright German), and it made me comment to one of the IB guys walking with me.

"A German accent legitimizes any technological explanation."

He laughed.

"Yep," he said, "and if there's a K involved, it's even better. Like Kompressor."

The Kameraman is not German, but he's not the same Kevin as my long time friend.

At the end of the day we headed out for an industry party at Lavo in the Palazzo. The line didn't seem that long when we got there, but it grew and grew. When non-industry people asked why we were in line (it's like the Soviet Union - you stand in line first and find out what the line was for second), the big bouncer types started herding us into a line that apparently stretched out the doors (where I was in line) and onto the street. I figure there had to be a few hundred people before they opened the doors.

We were waiting in line for (gratis) 200 copies of the 7-Eleven book just released. Better yet a bunch of former 7-Eleven team people would be signing the book.

I got the book, walked up a few flights of stairs, and into a darkened bar. I spotted, unbelievably, Jock Boyer, the first of the modern US era riders. He's placed as high as 12th in the Tour (I think), 5th at Worlds, and was prominently featured in English-written racing magazines in the 80s.

I went up to him and asked him if he could sign my book. It was more intimate than a regular signing, mainly because it was so loud that he had to lean forward to hear my yelling.

"Yeah, lemme get a pen. Hey, Ron, can I borrow that?"

I looked to my left.

Ron Keifel. First 7-Eleven rider to win a race (a stage). Got 2nd in a stage in the Tour. He had talked that day of averaging insane speeds - whenever he looked down they were going 60 kph, 36 mph.

In the darkness I hadn't recognized him.

I couldn't help myself and blurted out, "Oh my God!"

I think I did it three times in a row.

(And, yes, I really am grown up. Really.)

They grinned, both signed, and they passed the book to the left.

Greg Demegen.

Holy smolies!

So on and so forth.

Jim Ochowicz, the director of the 7-Eleven team, was there. Danny Van Haute, now the director of the Jelly Belly Team. A slew of others. And they all signed my book.

Signed by everyone.

Then we reaped the second bit of the offerings - free vodka drinks (the reason why hundreds more people lined up). Any drink with vodka in it would be free. I don't know any vodka drinks so I polled the people next to me on what they ordered. Vodka cranberry. So be it.

Then, sitting there with all-round good guy Jim M, I listened in as others ordered.

I learned about a Red Bull variety. And a 7-Up type too.

The bartenders were busy.

Things were good.

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