Thursday, February 23, 2012

Training - 50 Degrees

When the stars and planets lined up on Wednesday I couldn't refuse. My day off during the week and, get this, temperatures in the mid 50s!

So, like any good Connecticut bike rider, I made plans to get out and ride.

Of course I had chores and stuff to do, and knowing how I basically detonate after a ride, I tried to get them all done in the morning.

First I had a meeting with some folks about doing a bike race. It's a long off project, one that's been simmering for a few years, but I've finally decided to try and make a go of it. I've only begun a long, long process, and, frankly, it's looking pretty dismal.

Therefore it wasn't a good sign when the meeting had to be rescheduled. I left it with the somewhat pessimistic outlook, with the difference being that now I had a list of reasons to be pessimistic (a town permit and all their requirements).

I stepped outside, and, ironically, one of the guys from the now-closed local shop's ride was there. He was next on the meeting list, on a totally unrelated topic, but he happened to be there with a really enthusiastic bike advocate type person.

Talk about planets lining up.

In the next 10 minutes, after I explained what I'd just gone through in the meeting, we went over a slew of possibilities for other events or races. Although one idea seems like it'll be shelved indefinitely, they listed no less than four possibilities for the future.

And they even took my event and thought that they could help make it happen.


With that I headed to the bank. It's Bethel season and I churn through a lot of money in a few months. Part of my costs are the LLC fees or something - I wrote a check for one such state fee and mailed it out (post office, another stop). And I deposited an old fashioned snail-mail pre-reg check.

I had a few tasks at home, chores really, and just one more simple thing to do - take off the FSA bars and install some crit bend ones.

I'd installed the FSA Compact (wing style) bars only recently, looking for a forearm clearing bar in a modern format. A bonus for me was that I know where my 31.6 mm SRM mount is, and the FSA bars are 31.6mm. I happened to have a stem for the bars too, a single 12 cm stem for a 31.6 mm bar. I originally bought it for the tandem but never managed to put it on the bike.

A short time after I installed the FSA bars I realized I needed a longer stem. I bought a 13 cm stem, and, although that satisfied the length, the FSA bars felt way too shallow. They didn't drop down enough and this really affected how I felt in a sprint.

Therefore, on that warm Wednesday late morning and early afternoon, I stripped off the new stem, the new bars, the new tape, and installed a previously used 12 cm stem, a new 3ttt Gimondi bend bar (heat treated aluminum), and, for those of you keeping track, I reused the tape.

That's kind of a record for me, to reuse some tape.

I weighed a few things since I could. 3T stem, 13 cm, Team edition, 140 grams. Ritchey something-stem, 12 cm, 155 grams. 3ttt (I use the old name since the bars were originally bought in 1996 or so) Gimondi bars, 296 grams.

(And the 12 cm 31.6mm stem I removed was 150 grams, a Stella Azura or something stem.)

Net net the front end didn't change weight-wise, gaining perhaps 5 grams.

Oh, maybe it didn't gain any weight. Just before I started to wrap the bars I realized that I hadn't cut any of the bar off. Since I usually do, to avoid the knee scrapes (and scars) I usually get on full length bars, I grabbed my trusty pipe cutter and cut a good 4 cm or so off the ends. The bars use heat treated aluminum so the bars basically cracked at the score mark, making a familiar crunching sound.

A touch with a file and the bars felt smooth and ready for wrap.

The tape went on okay, with the dingy part of the tape covering well. The bars happened to have exactly the same wrap length as the FSAs so I didn't have to cut or trim.

I finally got out of the house at 2:30 or so, at the peak temperature of the day, about 52 or 53 degrees. I had on my Verge bib 3/4 shorts (aka knickers), two long sleeve base layers, one short sleeve jersey, wind vest, warm gloves, booties, and a skull cap thing.

And some Atomic Balm.

Honestly I could have gone with slightly less, maybe going as far as doing shorts (and leaving the torso the same) or maybe eliminating one long sleeve base layer and using a short sleeve one instead. I think the right call would have been shorts with more Atomic Balm.

Whatever, I was out there and I wasn't shivering.

I blasted out into the wind, the new (to me, for now) bars letting me hunker down pretty low. It felt good, stretching out my back, letting me drive down with more power.

Crit bend is evident here, the immediate sweep forward from the center of the bars.
I don't know where my 26.0 SRM mount is so I use straps instead.

I struggled down the southbound part of my loop, the wind pretty strong from my front quarter. I calculated wind direction a few times, debating on whether I should do some sprints (only if the wind is somewhat favorable) or a second loop. I decided that a second loop would do me more good.

I started to head back north, the wind now a friend. I got up to speed for the first time when someone pulled out directly in front of me. I swerved left to avoid hitting the Devras SUV when the driver swerved left and turned on its left turn signal.

I don't think the driver realized I was going north of 30 mph, almost the speed limit at that point, but regardless the driver never gave it a second thought.

So, after I swerved back to the right of the SUV, I gave it a tap with my hand.

Counting coop, if you will.

I rode north, the adrenaline fueling me for a bit, a slow dump truck hauling a trailer backing up traffic nicely for me. Combined with the tailwind and that lower drops position I could get some decent speed going.

I made it into town without any incidents, taking it easy when I got a bit tired, going faster when I felt inspiration. In Strava I found another segment where I usually test myself, a hill on 10/202 by Abigails. I made it a segment so now I can see how I go, but I really noticed the bars there. The narrower bars felt awesome climbing that short power roller, letting me really whip the bike back and forth.

Chickens roadside. A donkey stands behind the fence post.
They all ran away from me.

On the second loop I felt a bit tired so I didn't go quite as fast - all my numbers dropped a bit. I had some positive cheer when Rob C drove by, yelling all sorts of stuff you'd yell at a suffering racer.

I should point out that other than the Devras SUV, there were no unthoughtful drivers. In fact many of them took extra care around me. I don't know if it's the blinky tail light (it was on), my red/black kit (the red looks... red), or if they were simply cyclist-aware.

Whatever the reason it was nice. I made the assumption that vehicles with bike racks were either cyclists or cyclists' family, but some of the cars weren't so obviously prejudiced. So, for that, I salute you.

I got back, a bit tired but feeling okay. Believe it or not my day wasn't done. I quickly got showered (I didn't have time to get the rubbing alcohol so my legs were a bit hot from the Balm), dressed, and double checked stuff for my final planned task of the day, attending a nutrition presentation at Devil's Gear Bike Shop in New Haven.

I got some Bethel emails so started taking care of them, right about when my network bogged down to prehistoric speeds. I managed to screw up registering a bunch of entries, could barely load Google to find the shop, and started to get a bit stressed. A Bethel help person called at about this time, asking questions about the finish line camera and half a dozen other things. It was just before 5 PM, I was about to wade through rush hour Hartford, and drive an hour into a just-after-rush-hour New Haven.


I got out of the house, typed the address into the nav system, and it came up with the estimated time of arrival - 6:55 PM. I hoped for clear roads, no accidents, nothing weird out there on the roads.

Dash cam on, nav system programmed, it was time for the crazy train.

I rolled into New Haven right on time, using up a year's worth of "no traffic" luck on the run down. I went around a few familiar turns and realized I hadn't been here in at least 10 years or so, maybe closer to 15. It felt uncomfortably busy for me, the (now) country bumpkin, where three cars is busy and ten at an intersection is worthy of a traffic report.

I crawled down the streets, waiting for pedestrians and cyclists alike to throw themselves under my tires. But, no, no one did. The cyclists had lights, the pedestrians common sense.

I found the shop, circled the block for a parking spot, and walked in at 7 PM.

Incredibly the owner, Matt Feiner, used to race with some of the guys back in the day. I talk about the attack at New Britain where this one guy (Gene C) and I entered the first turn so fast we first eased, then, when that didn't work, we had to brake to stay on the road. We'd gone into the turn at 42 mph and just assumed we could hug the inside line.

Well, Matt was that guy's teammate.

The shop's walls were covered in my kind of memorabilia, mainly Greg Lemond stuff, but also tons of jerseys from that mid-late 80s era. I recognized a lot of them, didn't recognize a lot of them either.

The talk, by Jeff of Echelon Health Coaching, was short, covering stuff in a broad but brief manner. He brought some stuff that exemplified what he spoke of, and that was great. The killer kale chips tasted great as did the rice/parley/chickpea dish.

Afterward I helped close the shop, rolling bikes in from outside. It reminded me of my bike shop days, first rolling the bikes into a hallway behind the store, and, after a time where we kept the bikes inside, the times where we rolled the bikes in from behind the shop.

The 50 degree day had given way to a chilly feeling 40 or so, and in New Haven the wind bore down the man made wind channels, amplifying its power.

Shivering a bit I got to my car. I hit the home button on the nav, hit the tunes, and headed back home. Once there any thoughts of getting stuff done went by the wayside. I felt exhausted and fell asleep, my legs still tingling pleasantly from a combination of the Balm and the ride.


Ian said...

sounds like a pretty nice day to me...makes me remember my bike shop days in new haven. love your blog.

your note on Paul Ruhlman was touching. I used to race with him as part of Laurel back then.

keep up the blogging, and good luck at the races this year. i'll probably be at a few myself...

Ian said...

also, why doesn't anyone make a good crit bend anymore, like the old Cinelli 65?

Aki said...

Ian - thanks. Yep, it was a good day. Busy. I approached things in a less than "zen" manner and that wasn't good. Stress and me don't mix well. Ultimately things worked out that day, in an interesting mix of different lives from when I was a teen to now. Seeing a lot of stuff on the walls made me think I should make displays of the stuff I have. Same helmets, similar posters, same magazines, not so many jerseys.

Paul, yes. I tried to do him justice. I didn't know him well but he still taught me all sorts of bike racing stuff. And life stuff, when I think of it. Really modest. Mature beyond his years.

The crit bend bar went out of fasion I think when ergo bars showed up. People were less concerned with sprinting I think and more concerned with climbing/comfort. 3T threatened to bring them back recently but I haven't seen them advertised.

WMdeR said...

Hi, Aki/Ian,

The Cinelli 65 is currently produced and available. I don't know about the 3ttt crit bend.

I've used 'ergo' bend bars for a while, and just never have warmed up to them. All three main positions (tops-hoods-drops) are too close together for my taste, and the angle of the bar in the drops is just more comfortable with a standard bend bar....


William M. deRosset
Fort Collins, CO

Aki said...

Aha, so it is.

The 3ttt bar was the "Gimondi" bend, and although 3T threatened to produce it, I haven't seen much evidence of it.