My Progress

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hydration Review Skratch Labs Hydration Replacement

OK, I decided to try something new in my quest for the perfect hydration replacement supplement while on the bike.

Plain water wasn't doing it.  Water mixed with brand A wasn't doing it.  Water mixed with brand B wasn't doing it.

After reading Feedzone Cookbook and Feedzone Portables by Bijou Thomas and Allen Lim I decided to try some of their Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix.

Having spent a couple of long rides earlier in the summer coming up short on imperial centuries, (100 miles or more) due to hydration issues I new I needed to make a change.  I'd get to a point around mile 70 or so when the stomach and digestive system would just start shutting down.  I'd still be drinking and eating but nothing was moving out of the stomach.  Once this started happening, cramping was sure to follow and my ride would be over.

Unfortunately, due to poor prior planning I'd not got any of the Skratch labs till late July, and since I was wanting to use it for Hotter than Hell I figured I didn't have enough time to test how my body was going to react to it.  A week before Hotter than Hell, I decided what the heck, it can't get any worse if I try it, so I started acclimating my body to it.  I used one water bottle a morning after my morning ride to see how I did.  Fortunately I had no issues with it and it seemed to be pretty tolerable and relatively tasty.

The big day arrived and I started with two bottles of partially frozen Orange hydration mix.  During the ride, I hydrated mainly just out of the bottles of Skratch Labs with a cup of ice water or two at five different sag stops.  I wanted to just use Skratch and water to give it the acid test of the Hotter than Hell 100.

Skratch Exercise Hydration Mix worked phenomenally! I was more than impressed!  I didn't tire of the taste during the whole ride, it was mild enough to not be overwhelming, it kept the water moving through the gut barrier, (and eventually through the kidneys on it's way to the Johnny on the Spots at Sag 2,4,6 8, & 9).  I never ran into that bloating feeling of the stomach filling up and nothing processing. 

Given my results on the ride, 101 miles at a 20.0 mph average, (a speed and distance I've not managed to do in over 20 years), I'd have to guess that by the Skratch moving through the gut, it was also taking the nutrition I was eating along for the ride.  I never had a bonking issue during the ride, (although some of that might have been attributed to Sag 4 being stocked with PILES of HOMEMADE cookies!).

Overall, Skratch gets a big thumbs up and is already in use here at the house.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hotter than Hell 2014

Well this ride is in the books.  The HHH is a ride that I always look forward to as it is an event that needs to be experienced if you are a bike junkie.   Something about 15,000 some odd riders tends to lend an air of adrenaline and excitement to the ride.  I'd sent Vicky up last year for her first Hotter than Hell and she had a blast, ending up with one of her best times ever for the 100K, (62 mile) ride.

The HHH is a true weekend event with everything going on.  I'd went up early on Friday so I could hit the bike expo set up at the Kay Yeager center.  I mainly went up to see what deals were available on some bike bits and pieces I was after.  Ended up leaving with a new set of tires for the bike, a different flavor of electrolyte replacement, four new Camelbak Podium Ice bottles, a hat for me and a treat for my wife who was home wrangling kids and dogs.  I also spent some time talking to other riders and some of the factory representatives who showed up, I got some good information on tandem tires for our Seavo tandem, found what I am looking for in a pair of bike gloves, (Specialized Grail, not available yet), met several nice folks wandering around in Bike Across Kansas shirts, and generally had a blast.

My overnight was in Lawton OK due to everything in the Wichita Falls area being sold out.  I'd initially cheaped out on the motel room and made reservations at Super 8, but after reading reviews of the motel about two weeks before the ride and seeing the news of the homicide in the parking lot, the drug deals, and "working girls" I decided I need to change motels.  Fortunately Vicky found me space at La Quinta.

I had missed my normal, arrive three hours early to the ride and barely made the start.  Traffic, parking, and waiting in line for the bathroom had me getting to the starting cage, (recumbents & tandems start in the front) right as everyone was rolling down the road.  So I had this frantic moment of getting everything stuffed in the appropriate bags, getting my sun sleeves on, starting the GPS and jumping into the herd.

My slightly late start worked out well however as I was able to get rolling and up to speed fairly quickly.  Since I was riding solo my plan was to keep my eyes open for groups and pace lines running a comfortable pace.  Shortly after the start I got my wish,  a four tandem pace line came by and I latched on the back.  At times we were rolling 25 to 28 mph into the early morning breeze.  I was having a blast rolling on by, waving and talking to the other riders.

At one point I glanced up the road and I spotted the holy grail of my bike wish list.

A Quest Velomobile.  As I rolled up on him, I had to ask if I caught it could I keep it.  Sadly Dan is very happy in his velo and not ready to give it up yet, it's one nice ride however.

I spotted another velo ahead just as the group I was with started a long shallow downhill.  I cranked on my shifter to hit the big ring, promptly overshifted throwing the chain to the outside where it bound up and jammed tight.  Opps.  A quick pull over as everyone I had just passed flew on my, yanked and cranked on the chain, got it fixed and back on the road.  I had to work like a dog to bridge back up to the group, once I caught up though, the other velo was long gone.

Rest stop 2, 4, and 6, (Hell's Gate) were all visited.  We made Hell's Gate, (the 100 mile cut off) with about 2.5 hours to spare.  I was able to manage my SAG stops well, hit the portables, grab food and water and go.  Rest stop 8 was at about mile 74 and from there on it was into the wind, by that point the wind had came up and was hitting about 17-20 mph on a steady basis. 

I'd last checked my average at rest stop 4 and new I was running fast, at that point I was at a 21.3 mph average, (way fast for me).  I stopped checking the average after that as I didn't want to jinx myself.

I was hoping for some good pacelines and groups for the into the wind segment of the HHH but the wind was to strong and was breaking the groups up and causing things to get squirrely.  I ended up just slouching down in the seat to get as aero as I could and gutting out the last 26 miles with as much speed as I could.

At mile 98 I rolled over a small hill to find a nice downhill, I was more than happy at the time to ease off the pedals and coast a bit.  This proved to be a mistake however, as soon as I eased off the pedals, both hamstrings cramped tight and locked up.  I had no opportunity to pull over and that close to the finish I was NOT going to cramp out.  Unfortunately I resorted to "Marine Corps" language.  I think that tirade is going to be lingering on that downhill for years.  As I'd just passed and "Semper Fi'd" a  guy in a Marine Corps jersey before the cramps happened he heard me and was laughing his butt off.  He pulled up alongside and said, "let me guess, infantry right, nobody else can swear like that.."  We both had a good laugh as by that point the cramps had ran away scared.

Mile 99.5 had me checking my average speed to discover that I was running a 20.0 mph average!  A sub five hour century was in my reach!  I was stoked and wanted to record the event for posterity.  I fumbled my phone out of my bag, was trying to unlock it, pull up instagram, and still ride.  As I was doing that, I hit the last uphill and my speed fell.  I watched my computer slip from 20.0 mph to 19.9 mph.  So close, my official 100 mile time was 5:00:36.  However the last stretch was sheltered from the wind and over some fast roads, I was able to ramp up my speed and finish the 101 miles and change with a 20 mph average according to my Garmin.

Overall, I was pretty happy.  I'd not turned a Century that fast in 25 years.  Not to bad for a diabetic former fat guy.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

For Sale 2007 Bacchetta Giro 26 $1200 OBO

The bike has been sold and is on it's way to California.

Up for sale is my much loved 2007 Giro 26.  A new bike is incoming so something has to leave and Vicky won't let me get rid of kids or dogs so a bike has to go.

The bike is 2007 Bacchetta Giro 26.  I am the second owner of the bike.  The stock specifications for the 2008 Giro are HERE, the specifications really didn't change from 07 to 08.

The bike is a great do it all platform and has worn 26", (559) wheels and fat tires to 700C wheels and skinny tires and pretty much anything in between.  Great for rough chipseal, gravel, or smooth pavement.  The disc brakes give you the ability to swap wheels to suit your riding plans. 

According to Strava, I've got 4089 miles on the bike since I bought it just over two years ago.  I've tried not to ride in the rain, (the drought has helped that), the bike has been well cared for and maintained.  It's always been stored inside, (actually in what used to be the dining room before the bikes took it over). 

Here are the upgrades I've done to it:
  • Avid BB7 rear brake
  • Carbon seat, (drilled for ADEM headrest)
  • FSA Omega road triple crank, 53, 39, 30
  • BB30 Bottom Bracket
  • Jagwire Teflon coated stainless cables and Jagwire cable Housing
  • Jagwire inline cable adjuster for rear derailleur
  • Velogenesis Seatstay clamps
  • SRAM X-7 rear derailleur, (2 months old)
Here are a couple of pictures, if you need specific pics please feel free to request them, I've a camera and more than willing to use it!

Partial trade offers are considered, below is what I am looking for, (please no more bikes!)
  • Garmin Virb Elite
  • Garmin 305, 705, or any of the 800 series
  • Interesting light weight 700C road wheels, (10 speed Shimano/Sram compatible)
  • New 10 speed Shimano/Sram cassettes
  • Sram 10 speed bar end shifters
  • TRP Spyre HY/RD disc brakes
  • Compass 559 tandem rated tires, (new)
  • Continental GP4000 S II 700C tires, (new)
  • Camelbak Podium Ice bottles, (new)
  • Topeak road morph pumps, (need three)
  • Sram 1070 or better chains, (new)
  • Sram 10 speed rear derailleurs
Of course I'd prefer a local sale in the Dallas / Fort Worth Texas area, but I would consider shipping at the buyers expense.  I can also offer delivery if it works into our travel plans.  I'll be heading to Wichita Falls and the Hotter Than Hell on 8/22.  We'll also be up through Oklahoma and into Kansas in October but I'd really prefer the bike to have a new home by then.

You can leave me a comment if your interested and I will get back to you.  Contact me via my profile and please put GIRO 26 in your subject line. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rabbits for breakfast!

The game plan for this morning's ride had been for a nice light 50 or so mile ride.  Just spin the legs, get some blood flowing into the injured muscle to help it heal. 

Something about best laid plans however.

Right out of the gate, just as I was coming out of the driveway at the house, guy on a road bike goes by, Vicky says, "Oh look!  Another cyclist!", I say, "Hmm, looks like rabbit for breakfast!"  She just rolled her eyes at me.

He was an easy catch, nabbed him before the first mile was done, thought now I can slow down and just spin.  That was until two groups of triathletes went by before I made it onto Hardin, two more herds of rabbits down and the legs were nicely warmed up.

Saw another group of cyclists coming off of CR 86 and I ended up being their rabbit, they went hungry however, which was a good thing as my legs were starting to get twitchy and were thinking of cramping.

Up to Gunter, water, gatoraid, and a Cliff bar and it was time to enjoy the tailwind home.

I got into Weston and stopped at the Baptist church to stretch out the legs since they were getting unhappy and starting to complain.  Just as I was starting out of Weston I saw a big group of cyclists had regrouped and were heading out behind me.  Great, I get to play rabbit again!  There is one advantage to riding a 38# bike, adding in 10# of water, and then parking my fat butt on it and that is gravity is my friend!  The road I was being chased down has a slight downhill profile.  I had more than a bit of fun watching the paceline form up in my mirror and watching them try and run me down.  I'll hand it to them, that was a nice pretty rotating pace line they had going, they would start to catch up on the slight uphills but as soon as the road turned flat, I could hold them off, on the downhills, I just walked away.  Unfortunately I was also burning every last danged match I had keeping away from them.  On the uphills I was just a heart beat or two under my red zone and the legs were just on the verge of cramping.  On the flats and downhills, I could managed to recover about five beats per minute on the heart rate and ease off on the legs to give them a break, good practice however for the upcoming Hotter than Hell 100.

All in all, 55 miles done at a 17.3 average, one feedzone sticky sweet rice cake, a Cliff bar, and a gatoraid for the ride.  Post ride, my blood sugar clocked in at 90, down from 156 first thing in the morning.  Pretty happy with that number also.

Strava data is below.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Close but no cigar..

Yesterday  I tried for a imperial century, (100 miles).  I hadn't ridden one since September 2012 and as I am heading for Wichita Falls and the Hotter than Hell 100 next month I wanted one in my legs before the event.

I'd managed 81 miles in the Tour de Cure in June but due to leg cramps and stomach issues I stopped at 81 miles.

Yesterday, I left the house before it was light as the day was promising to be hot, (what a surprise for Texas in July). I was hoping to get my ride in early and beat the temps but it warmed up a lot quicker than expected.

My route took me over familiar terrain and some stuff I'd not ridden before as I was wanting to explore some new roads and do a little bit of reconnaissance for the route for the Red River Rally.  Riding west out of Gunter on 121 was fine, I'd been that way before, turning north on Wall Street put me onto a new road and some new ground to explore.  At Wall Street is going to be part of the Red River Rally I wanted to check it out should I decided at the last minute to give it a try.  Wall Street is a dentists dream, lots of pot holes and rough stuff from 121 all the way up to 902.  Might be interesting trying to ride that in a group.

FM902 west to Collinsville was only something I'd driven before, never ridden.  The road was nice and smooth, no shoulder but all traffic was more than polite.  At Collinsville I was hoping to find a quickie mart to water up but didn't see anything as I went through town, once into Collinsville I picked up HWY 377 south to Tioga.  Tioga gave me a stop at a quicky mart for water, gatoraide and a Marathon protein bar.

From Tioga it was down FM121 back to Gunter and heading south to run toward home.

However the more I pushed into the headwind, the slower I ended up going.  Stopping for water, food, and stretching didn't really help.   Around mile 65 or so my legs started signalling they were going to start cramping, the stomach was shutting down processing whatever I was trying to eat due to the heat and workload. 

By that point I was just working to get from one stopping point to the next.  By the next stop I was done.  I knew that what I had been feeling in my left calf the day before was starting to blow up into possible tendonitis, my right leg was cramping, and my stomach was not processing even water.  I was done and made the call to Vicky to roll out for a pick up.

78 miles, so close but no cigar.

Strava data is here.

We are Keurig, you will be assimilated...

It's been a long fight holding off the Keurig borg.

I first saw one about 8 or 9 years ago and said no, my drip coffee pot was good enough.

Our dog rescue friends at TIRR got one and they liked it. I had to admit it was handy when we were out there.

Our friend Serious Student got one and he sang the praises almost of it almost as loudly as he sung the praises of things from Colt and Bravo Company Machine.

It was working, I was weakening and losing the battle.

After all, I like coffee, and I wanted something simple.

Vicky likes her french press and morning coffee routine.

I like to get up and have immediate coffee, the sooner the better.

Last night I was assimilated into the Keurig collective.. Sigh..

Life is good.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

An American Seavo in Paris, Paris Texas that is..

The 2014 Tour de Paris is in the books and done.

This year was their 30th anniversary ride and it seemed that the whole town turned out for it to cheer us on.  This ride has always been a favorite of my wife and I's due to the town participation.  Her comment the first year she rode it was that was the closest she was going to come to riding the Tour de France with all the cheering crowds lining the roads.

This year, rather than our normal of alternating between one of us staying home with the kids and the other riding we decided to cycle different.

You see, last fall we had bought and built up a Rans Seavo and let's just say, the build, assembly, tweaking and tuning has been a challenge. 

Up until this last week, I've been trying to get my seat adjusted to it's comfortable.  I mean really, it's a recumbent, my butt should NOT hurt!  Something about the seat position was either bothering my back or my butt, change the seat pan angle, the tilt of the back, up and down, back and forth, searching for that mythical sweet spot, never quite finding it.  At one point, the seat was so mis-adjusted that after a 35 mile ride, it felt like I had been sitting on the edge of a 2x4.  That made for a very miserable ride.  Finally this week I decided to try and mimic the seat angles I've got on my Giro 700 recumbent.

Let me say, it worked!  The difference was remarkable, no back pain, no butt pain, able to pedal efficiently, it was like a heavenly choir opened up.  Now the question is, how much more can I lay the seat back and keep the comfort while getting even more aerodynamic, (at least as much as I can on a tandem recumbent).

Of course with both Vicky and I escaping the kids and dogs for the wilds of Paris we had to line up a sitter.  Fortunately one of the girls from church is a glutton for punishment and willing to wrangle them for a day or so.  Unfortunately we weren't expecting "lifeus interruptus".  Friday evening as we were getting things ready for an 0530 departure the next morning I noticed the house was "warming up".  Yep, Texas, July, and the AC was dying.  So the kids and sitter got to enjoy a cool July day, (really it was cool, Thank God for the "polar vortex:) with no air conditioning.

Vicky and I were to busy riding and enjoying the day in Paris on Serenity to worry much about the AC however.  I mean really, when do you get temperatures in the low 70's and next to no wind in Texas in July?  The weather could not have been better out there.

 We fumbled the ride start a bit due to grabbing breakfast at the pancake feed benefiting the local cheerleaders and my numerous trips to deal with my hamster bladder.  Really, I swear I did NOT drink 12 gallons of coffee prior to starting the drive!  I had one cup and a couple of sips of water.  Where my bladder finds all that extra water prior to a ride I've no idea.  I just wish it would leave it alone and let my blood and muscles use it.

By the time we hit the starting line, the ride was already rolling so we just slipped in and got to pedaling.

The Seavo, aka Serenity is a very fun bike to ride in events like this.  It's so unusual that it's an attention magnet.  Kids were waving and laughing, people were doing double takes as if to say just what was that?  The locals were all waving and taking pictures as they had never seen a recumbent tandem either.  And since the Seavo is just so rock solid stable, Vicky was able to manage the "social media" contacts from the back, she had a blast talking to everyone and waving to the locals as we went by.

Due to our late start we began at the back of the group, this did make it a bit of a challenge to maneuver the bike through traffic.  Everyone behaved however and we didn't see any wrecks.  There was one bit of excitement early on however.  A rider's seat mount bottle cage was coming loose and she was about to drop her bottle into her rear wheel.  As it was still relatively early everyone was still grouped up pretty tight and there wasn't a lot of maneuver room.  As her bottle dropped onto her wheel, riders were hollering at her to pull over and stop.  The guy behind her didn't hear this though, and as she hit the brakes, he clipped her rear wheel with his front.  I had a great view of this as I was directly to his left and I just knew he was going to dump it right into Vicky and I and it was going to be messy.  He managed an amazing bit of bike handling though and was able to recover without going down, I was very impressed.  Wonder if he could be hired to teach that trick to the Tour de France riders next year?  Maybe we could have a TDF without numerous broken bones and DNF'd riders.

Once the group opened up we were able to let Serenity roll and do what she does best.  The downhill sections were a literal blast.  We were rolling up the other riders and running at a pretty good average.  Halfway through the ride, I checked our average speed and we were rolling around a 16.9 mph average speed.  Unfortunately then the road turned up and we got into the long slow uphills, not steep by any means, just long and slow.  This dropped our average down to 15.0 mph.

The ride SAGS were plentiful and extremely well stocked with lots of ice, water, gatoraid, the normal SAG food, and the two holy grails of a great SAG.  Pickles and home made treats!  Dill pickles will shut my cramping down hard, just like turning off a light switch.  I've no idea how it works, but it does.  And the home made stuff?  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies and all sorts of other goodies, I'm sure they weren't exactly diabetic friendly however. 

The route was very well controlled with the local police and sheriffs department controlling the major intersections.  The minor intersections were well controlled by volunteers.  We didn't see or hear of any issues with vehicles.

As always for the Tour de Paris, the route was very well marked with signs.  Even if you managed to wander off course, there were signs to get you back on course, most of them had messages like, "You're going the wrong way!  Turn around!"  Vicky's comment about the signage was it was like the old " Burma Shave" signs.

While we didn't have any flats we did see lot's of riders on the side of the road fixing flats.  We stopped to help one couple who was struggling to fix a flat and discovered that his tire was so dry rotted he was blowing the tube through the cords of the tire.  Just the day before, I'd chopped up a tyvek envelope to make some tire boots, needless to say, they came in handy.  I just hope that guy is at a local bike shop today buying some new tires cause he needs them.  I think our choice of Schwalbe Marathon Racers in 26 x 1.5 have been a good choice.  They're comfortable, reasonably fast, and so far have been pretty durable.

While we had initially been planning on 35 mile route due to time constraints and my seat issues we got to the decision point where the routes split and decided to roll down the road a few more miles so we could get our longest ride to date on the bike.  Vicky was feeling good, I was feeling good and decided to go ahead and to run the 57 mile route since we were making such good time.  As an added bonus, Vicky managed to get something she has been chasing since her last birthday...  50 miles ridden.

And here is our Strava data for the day.

Next year we'll be back.  Maybe this time with the kids.