Monthly Archives: March 2014

Redlands / New Bike / Crotch

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Pretty late for me to post today. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to ride Redlands without just going there next Sunday and ride a Cat. 1/2 criterium while the real race is going on up on the Sunset Loop. I sent a couple emails last week and finally tried to contact some teams individually to see if they have an extra slot on their roster, but so far, no luck.

So, waiting for replies, I put most of the finishing touches on my new Eriksen. It went together pretty flawlessly. I understand the “despise” some people have for electronic shifting, but let me tell you, it is so easy to adjust and works perfectly. I didn’t even have to adjust the rear derailleur at all.

I’m going to suit up and go for a ride and try to forget about the Redlands deal. First rides on new bikes are always a blast. Sometimes it takes a little tinkering, but I think I have this one pretty well dialed in. I don’t tape the bars until riding it, just in case I want to move the levers or something.

I’ve been riding pretty hard the last couple weeks and would like to do a bigger race to check out my form. Redlands would have been perfect. You have to ride on a team, but the there were too many teams for the number of entries. The Boneshaker Team, from Texas, didn’t get into the race. They have Heath Blackgrove and Logan Hutchings, plus a lot more good riders that deserve to race the event. I talked to Heath and he says he thought he had a shot at winning the race. If he said that, I believe it. I hope he found a ride on another team, it’s been a week since I heard from him.

Okay, below are some photos of the new Eriksen. Check out the welds. Crazy nice.

The welds are unmatched anywhere in the world.

The welds are unmatched anywhere in the world.

I tired to bundle up the wires to look a little cleaner.

I tired to bundle up the wires to look a little cleaner.

Just another shot of beauty.

Just another shot of beauty.

I put the sprinter shifters on my bars.  I don't sprint much on the drops, but might have to start if the shifters are that much of an advantage.

I put the sprinter shifters on my bars. I don’t sprint much on the drops, but might have to start if the shifters are that much of an advantage.

I've been riding so much, I've got a small saddle sore issue.  I had a jar of Donkey Label chamois cream with me, but can't find it.  So, I went with the next best thing.

I’ve been riding so much, I’ve got a small saddle sore issue. I had a jar of Donkey Label chamois cream with me, but can’t find it. So, I went with the next best thing.

Must Have Been a Good Weekend to Burn

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I got a Facebook message from a friend telling me that it is smoky back home. Made me feel good and bad simultaneously. Good that I’m not there, bad because everyone else is.

Then I saw a comment on a post, from a couple days ago, linking to an article about how the smoke from some grass fires in Eastern Kansas has blown all the way up to Omaha Nebraska. The title of the piece was “Smokey Kanas fumes clogging the area”. Man, if they think their area is clogged, I’m not sure what word to use to describe the area closer to the actual burning.

80% of the reason that I’m not in Kansas right now is because of the burning. I’m trying to skip out on it and see if I don’t go through the normal March-May funk that I’ve been experiencing recently. So far, so good.

From the picture below, it looks like yesterday was an optimal day to burn. It sort of goes in waves and for sure, on the weekends, it is worse. I’ve ridden the Bazaar Road Race when you have to ride through mile stretches of pure smoke, the grass burning right up to the edge of the road. We usually call a timeout to get through the smoke.

I have written a bunch on the whole burning thing. I understand the importance of the burning for farmers, but from my observations, at least half of the burns are lazy, pyromaniac types, that are burning their ditches and other underbrush. It isn’t 50 percent of the smoke, but it is a significate amount.

I feel bad for all my friends back in Kansas that are having to deal with this right now. California has its issues, but nothing compared to the air quality, or lack of, that is going on right now back home.

At night, the fires can be beautiful.

At night, the fires can be beautiful.

This is the satellite photo.  Notice how much burning they are doing just Southwest of Topeka.  Some mornings, going out to get the newspaper, I can hardly see down the block.

This is the satellite photo. Notice how much burning they are doing just Southwest of Topeka. Some mornings, going out to get the newspaper, I can hardly see down the block.

They burn vast amounts of land, thousands of square miles.

They burn vast amounts of land, thousands of square miles.

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Fatique and Fitness

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Vincent and been showing me the different parts of Strava that gauge different aspects of training. I haven’t been using these tools before this. Actually, I don’t quite understand the whole thing. I haven’t read enough about it to truly understand how the fatique detracts from the fitness or form.

I’m not sure if my fitness is high now because I’m doing more mileage and if it’s taking in the power I’m producing during training to gauge that. It has figured my FTP (Threshold) at 360. I haven’t no idea if that is close to anything. Makes me think it is high because my team mate Brian Jensen told me while he was riding off the front, a couple weeks ago at a local road race, that he was trying to keep his wattage at 350, which is his threshold. Mine can’t be anywhere near that.

Anyway, I’m going to start geeking out a little and try to understand this stuff a little more. I’m going to try my best not to let it disrupt my serenity of riding my bike.

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Undulations on any Given Day

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Yesterday, Vincent and I headed out for a long ride. I’d looked at Google Maps and tried to estimate how long it was going to be, but couldn’t figure much other than around 100 miles. Since Vincent’s longest ride of the year was on Tuesday, which was 72 miles, I didn’t want it to be crazy long. Plus, it was going to be a lot of climbing the first 50 miles.

We both had our issues early. First, I was wearing new shoes with new cleats and they didn’t seem to be in the right position. So, we had to stop while I messed with them. Then climbing out of La Jolla, Vincent’s front derailleur wouldn’t shift. He climbed the super steep climb by Birch Aqaurium in his big ring, which hurt me, and then we looked at it. I was pretty sure the wire had just pulled out of the shift lever. And I was right. If you put any tension on the wire with the bar tape, after you plug it in, then sometimes it will pull the wire out of the shifter. Easy fix.

Anyway, we meandered our way up towards Escondido. We were going to take a road called Bear Valley, around Escondido. But we sort of got screwed up somewhere and headed out West on Hwy. 78. That was a wrong turn.

Up until this point, both Vincent and I felt alright. I am sort of just riding so/so the last week, but so/so is better than bad. I might just be tired, which is fine too. Anyway, we recognized that we were off course and tried to take a secret road through an avocado ochard back over the hill. That didn’t work, but we did find a bunch of oranges that were laying on the side of the road. I ate two, Vincent only one. We were only about 40 miles into the ride and I didn’t realize that I was sort of iffy then.

So, we turned around and got back on track. We climbed up to Lake Wohlford, which is a 2 mile climb. Vincent started up the hill faster than I thought he should be riding at this point into the ride. He pulled most of the way up the climb, then I pulled into the headwind towards the top. I think it was about at this point that Vincent started falling apart alittle, but I’m not really sure. I do know this is where he started sitting on.

We had to ride back West into a pretty stiff headwind all the way to the coast. Something like 25 miles. We were weaving our way through little valleys and climbs, so it wasn’t always direct headwind.

I was just steady state at this point. The only water I had used was to wash my hands after eating the oranges. We finally got back to 76, which has a bike path that goes to Oceanside. The wind was pretty directly in our faces. I was riding around 20 mph into the headwind and Vincent hadn’t spoken for a while. Pretty soon I noticed that he wasn’t there. He was way back. I waited and whenever I got above 15 mph, he’d disappear. Finally he said that he was just going to ride slow until he felt better. I was thinking that if he didn’t start feeling better, it was going to be 4 hours back.

I told him that it was only 4 miles to Oceanside and we’d get something to drink there. He’d already eaten a Cliffbar and by the time we got to Oceanside, he was going much better already.

We stopped and got a Gatorade and I ate a Snickers Bar. All day, my legs had been not good. Like they were really stiff and sore. When we started the last 30 miles down the coast, it was a pleasant surprise that the wind was a little from the North too, instead of being straight sidewind. Vincent was back by this time. We were cruising down the coast over 20 mph. I didn’t realize that I was having an issue sitting on my seat until I noticed Vincent was standing way too much. I asked him what the deal was and he said his crotch was killing him. Then I realized the same thing.

I don’t get how you can be riding 5 or 6 hours one day, with no issue and then the next time the pressure/or whatever, changes and it doesn’t work too well. I think it is a cadence deal. Or pedal pressure deal more exactly. Higher the cadence, the more pressure on your seat.

Anyway, I was still just so/so. My left leg had been not good all day. Then, all of a sudden, about at 100 miles, my left leg started working. I had full power pedaling, sitting on my seat. It was a nice surprise, but I sure hope it doesn’t take over 5 hours for that to occur always.

Vincent was good all the way back. The last 30 miles he was fine. We had 115 miles for the day, which was 15 longer than I’d anticipated. But, when you’re back, it’s all good.

I don’t really bonk anymore. I just get tired. Vincent obviously can still bonk. Whenever I go to the point where 10 mph is my speed, historically, I rarely come back to the level Vincent did. It was just a nutrition deal for him.

I haven’t been eating or drinking much riding recently. Not sure what that is all about, but today I might take some more food. I know I have different thoughts about hydration than the average athlete. I’m going to do a post about that soon, so I won’t address it now.

We’re going to head out on another longer ride. We’re going to ride some dirt out where we were riding yesterday. I like exploring like that, so it should be fun.

VIncent cooked me some eggs before the ride.

VIncent cooked me some eggs before the ride.

Riding back along the coast by Carlsbad.

Riding back along the coast by Carlsbad.

I was a little worried that Vincent was going to throttle it up the inside climb of Torrey Pines, but he didn't.

I was a little worried that Vincent was going to throttle it up the inside climb of Torrey Pines, but he didn’t.

We ate dinner last night down in North Park.  We got a tour of the coffee roasting business in the back of the pizza restaurant.

We ate dinner last night down in North Park. We got a tour of the coffee roasting business in the back of the pizza restaurant.

Assembling New Bikes vs. Old

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I’m putting together a new bike and haven’t ever routed the internal wires for Di2 before. It took a little while to get the hang of it, but after I had it down, it went pretty quick. I was thinking as I was doing it how much different it is assembling a bike now compared to when I first started racing.

Putting a bike together now is really easy compared to the “Campy days”. Just putting the downtube Campagnolo shifters on used to take a while. So many pieces, grease, etc. All you do now is put the levers on the bars and it is done.

Stems and handlebars are a breeze now that the stem have removable faceplates. That was a big upgrade in my opinion.

The bottom brackets too. Cup in each side and done. No more bearings to mess with, grease, adjustment. Easy.

The Di2 wires are a one time deal. You put them in and never again have to mess with them, in theory. Changing cables is a thing of the past. And a good thing too. I hated internally routed derailleur cables. Tensioning them was a hassle. The whole thing was a hassle.

But no matter how much easier the bike setup is now, I do miss the process of tuning a bike before a race.

When I was a kid, working at a bike shop, all the guys that were going to be racing that weekend would get together and nearly completely rebuild our bikes. Bottom brackets, hubs, headsets, all the bearing. Depending on how important the race was, we’d sometimes use oil instead of grease to lube our bearing, knowing we’d have to just take them all back apart and put grease back in them.

I have fond memories of those days. The camaraderie was the reason it was so memorable. And the learning process of how a bicycle really works.

I think it is sort of a lost art. Many guys I ride with now can hardly adjust their derailleurs, let alone rebuild a hub. There is a huge advantage, being a bike racer and knowing exactly what is going on with your bike. Hearing an odd sound and being able to identify it is really important, especially riding off-road. If you don’t know the sounds of your bike, start listening and learning them. It’s important.

Anyway, I guess I’m a little old school in my thoughts, but pretty practical and modern in my practices. Believe me, it a few years, we’ll be saying we used to actually have mechanical cables that ran from the shifters to the derailleurs, and the young guys will look at you like you’re a 100 years old.

Lots of parts in an old Campy downtube shifter.  I, many a time, had to rebuild these for guys that put them together in the wrong order.

Lots of parts in an old Campy downtube shifter. I, many a time, had to rebuild these for guys that put them together in the wrong order.

The wires and such don't seem quite right, but after it is assembled, it looks and works so much better.

The wires and such don’t seem quite right, but after it is assembled, it looks and works so much better.

Meeting Guys on the Road

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Cycling is strange in the respect that you tend to run into people while out training and they can converse with you. I’ve never really just been out running or doing some other sport and a random guy comes up and starts talking to me. And out here in Southern California, it happens all the time. Probably because there are just so many more people out riding and probably the guys out riding tend to be on the same roads.

A couple days ago, I was riding North, about ready to descend Torrey Pines, when a guy rides up and asks me why I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Then he asks me how many miles I ride, for the day, the week, the year. He then says I must be really good and asks me my “record time” climbing Torrey Pines. I told him I didn’t know, but I’m sure there is a Strava segment up the thing. He tells me that Floyd Landis holds the record at 4:10, but he was “juiced”. I was thinking that 4:10 sounded pretty fast for climbing Torrey Pines, but I really didn’t know.

He then goes on to say that he is a runner and that he is just using cycling for training to run. He goes on to quote the mile record times for virtually any age group of runner. He was only talking about male times, not female. I wonder if he knew the female times too?

Anyway, he tells me that if I could run a 4:25 mile, I’d have a world record for the mile. Next year it would be 4:35. 4:35 doesn’t sound that quick for the fastest ever ran. I figure the reason for that is that by the time most great runners are in their 50’s, they’ve destroyed their knees enough that they can’t really run very fast.

Anyway, the guy was a numbers genius.

On the way back down the coast on Sunday, we rode up by a guy that looked like he was homeless. We got stopped at a light and I looked over and realized he was a bike tourist. I said something to him and he tells me he has ridden 150,000 miles and had been to 60 countries. I told him I had him on the mileage, but not the countries. I asked him where he was going and he said wherever the wind takes him. I guess Tijuana if that was really the case. I guess about asked him if he wanted to stop and get something to eat, I’d was interested in hearing a few of his stories, but somehow I missed the opportunity.

Anyway, both these guys were really interesting and added to my day. Cycling allows that. I like it. Randomness is a good thing sometimes.

Sue passing the tourist in Solana Beach.

Sue passing the tourist in Solana Beach.

Mile record times for males.

Mile record times for males.

Strava segment for Torrey Pines.  I've never killed myself up the thing, on a tailwind day, so maybe the KOM isn't out of reach.

Strava segment for Torrey Pines. I’ve never killed myself up the thing, on a tailwind day, so maybe the KOM isn’t out of reach.