My Progress

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

1st ride post crash, I can ride!

I finally got cleared by my doctor to ride yesterday!

We found out after an X-ray and an MRI that the hip/pelvis wasn't fractured or broke, just bruised all to hell.  That was a big relief as I'd been googling hip fracture recovery and realizing I was possibly looking at four to six months of recovery.  My wonderful wife was also realizing that if I had to be off the bike for that time frame she was going to need to stock up on a lots of tranquilizers and was also lining up places for me to swim, (or in my case, beat the water into submission).  While I was cleared to be back on the bike, walking is still challenging, (I managed a mile with the dog yesterday and was done).  Being up on my feet is limited to about an hour or so before the hip is saying enough.

Actually what my doctor told me is that cycling would help my hip as long as I didn't fall off the danged thing again, and took it easy, just ride around the block a couple times.

Taking it easy and just riding around the block are not something really I'm used to doing when I'm on the bike, especially the CA2.0 as that bike just flat out wants to run.

To keep myself honest and stop myself from pushing hard and chasing other cyclists I asked my wife to ride with me, that way, if I got a case of the stupids, she could smack me and knock some sense into me.

We ended up with 13.6 miles and change at a 13.8 average.  No Strava segments were chased, no other riders caught, no long distance ridden, but I was just happy to be back on the bike.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gear review 2007 Specialized Allez Elite

Ok, this is one I've been meaning to write for a while, not quite 7 years though.

I picked this bike up slightly used off Craigslist a couple of months ago to upgrade my commuter bike and to hand my previous commuter bike, a Giant OCR-2  down to my oldest daughter who has grown enough to fit it.

The Allez is a good upgrade for me over the Giant as it is lighter and quicker.  It's design is more race specific which suits my riding style and personality better than the Giant did.

The Allez Elite features the Zertz inserts in the carbon fork and the carbon seat stays that are found on the Specialized Roubaix series of bikes.  This is supposedly to damp out road vibration and road shock, but the engineer in me would like to see some of the data behind this.  That said however the bike does ride nice and smooth on our local Texas roads.

I've done an upgrade or two, some required, some just because I had the spare parts laying around.  The tires got replaced with Vittoria Roubaix tires after a cut destroyed the rear tire, the saddle was replaced with a Selle Italia SL as the old one was destroyed in a crash, and the cranks were replaced cause I had a set of carbon cranks laying around.

Most of my riding on the Allez is admittedly in town on my work commute.  I've only taken it out a couple of times into the county on longer rides where the frame design seemed to eat up the chip seal they use on the roads around here.

The quirks that I've noticed about the Allez is that it's a little more twitchy due to the race specific geometry, riding with no hands is a little more difficult due to this.Were this going to be my long distance bike, this would be an issue, as it's my commuter, it's really no big deal.

Don't worry though about this being decked out in full commuter rig however, I've not put fenders on it nor do I have plans to.  When water falls from the sky around here, traffic gets more than a little sporty.  On those days, I drive rather than take my chances of becoming a hood ornament.

I do run front and rear lights on it however, (of course I consider lights as essential safety gear).  I run a Dinotte 300R tail light and a Dinotte 1200L front light.  I believe in being seen and brighter is better when it comes to light.  That's why I run lights that some people complain about as being "too bright".  I'd rather have someone say that my lights are too bright than be laying under Suzy Soccer Mom's SUV having her tell my wife, "I didn't see him".

For carrying stuff, I use a Camelbak Mule.  This gives me enough cargo capacity to carry my belt/pocket gear as well as my lunch.  My crash the other day had me finding another use to my Camelbak.  It make an excellent skid plate and bore the brunt my my crash.  The only major damage was that a strap managed to burn through the buckle.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Allez.  It rides great, accelerates quickly, is snappy handling, fast enough to allow me to chase Strava segments.

Plus it gets me to work a lot cheaper than driving.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Same "stuff" different day.

I guess I'm making up for lost time with crashing this last week.  Seems I managed to go a few years without any major crashes and now, "Murphy" is catching up to me.

Friday I went out for quick ride just to loosen the legs up, the plan had been for about 30 miles at a nice and easy pace.  A nice and easy ride, on my new to me wonder bike, my Bacchetta Carbon Aero 2.0, my dream bike..  That's what I had planned.  "Murphy" and an expansion joint in the road had other ideas however.

Caught the expansion joint at a shallow angle, both wheels dropped into it and the bike slapped me down hard on my right side. 

And do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your own backside, especially while dripping sweat and using, "coarse Marine Corps language"..

And yep, I posted all those up on Instagram and Strava..  Figured I may as well give someone some laughs out there.

Fortunately once again the love of my life came to my rescue and showed up in short order to haul me back home.  She did want to take me straight to the ER at Baylor but I vetoed that idea as I didn't think it was that bad.  Note, adrenaline kind of damps the pain receptors, just saying...

After a shower and some at home wound debridement, (aka scrubbing with what felt like molten lava).  I figured I'd be ok.  That was until the pain from the road rash gave way to the deep bone pain in the hip.

Vicky hauled me off to my primary care who got a good laugh after looking at what was left of my backside then wrote me orders for xrays and a scrip for some happy pills.  Off to the X-ray place, contortions of the offended hip, some pictures and waiting we found out nothing was broken.  My primary care doctor was happy to relate that it was just a deep bone bruise and would take longer to heal than an actual fracture.  I'm pretty sure I heard her laughing as she was saying that, still like her though cause she's a no bull sh*t type of person.

Fortunately other than doctor visits and x-ray bills this wasn't that "bike expensive".  The current tally is:

  • One rear derailleur fixing bolt, pretty much ground down to almost nothing
  • Scuffed three week old SRAM TT900 rear shifter
  • Scuffed brake lever
  • Scuffed mirror mount
  • One trashed pair of 10 year old bibs
  • A pair of bars that took some heavy damage and may need replaced
  • A week off both my upright bike and my recumbent
Now the trick is to just remain sane during my bike exile.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not a matter of if, but a matter of when..

As a cyclist, it's not a matter of if your going to crash, but when.

Yesterday my number came up on my commute home from work.  I was pushing through a construction zone where the road is necked down to one lane.  The traffic had opened up and I had a gap so I grabbed a couple of gears and hit the gas.

Unfortunately, my cleat decided since I had not been listening to the warning signs that they were getting more than a little worn, it would remind me a little more directly.  Full sprint, somewhere around 25 mph and on an upstroke my right cleat slipped out of the pedal.

I remember the feeling and the moment with rather perfect clarity.  The right leg was flying free, the bike became unbalanced and the fall was starting to my right.  I went over the bike and my hands came off the bars and came up.  A 25 mph impact with the pavement is not fun, the hands stayed up and out of the way, my bike and right elbow took the initial impact.  I managed to roll to my back as the slide continued where my Camelbak backpack died a glorious death and protected my back and most of my jersey. 

The worst was yet to come unfortunately.  As the slide was continuing, I ended up under my bike and the nice sharp pointy bits on my large chainring decided to take up residence in my right calf.

I did manage to get pictures post crash, I was hoping to get Instagram to post them up on Strava with my ride but something didn't translate.

What's left of my bar tape, shifter, and bar.

And the right calf/ankle shortly after the crash.  By the time I got to the "doc in the box" and the sock off it was rather soaked in blood.

Here's the elbow after cleaning, it was kind of hard to get a good picture of it while it was full of road bits, gravel, & debris, so I had to wait till my wife got the picture after hauling me to the local, "doc in a box".

And the leg all cleaned up.

Grand total for that bit of stupidity;
  • New bar tape
  • New saddle as my saddle actually broke
  • New brifter hoods
  • Minor tears to a favorite jersey
  • Camelbak requiring repairs
  • $42 and change to the doc in the box
  • Scrips for 800 mg ibuprofen, antibiotic cream, and Amrix
  • And a couple of days off the bike.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Camelbak Podium Ice Bottle

Camelbak Podium Ice bottles just plain ROCK!

I never thought I'd pay what I did for a water bottle.  These bottles are absolutely worth it and then some.  Shop around and do some Googling for your best price.  I got "lucky" and caught them on a Hotter than Hell expo sale.

I picked up a couple of the re-released Podium Ice bottles the day before the Hotter than Hell 100, I figured why not give them the ultimate acid test for our area.  The Hotter than Hell usually lives up to it's name as being a hot and windy ride and this year it lived up to it.

When I got into my overnight motel room I gave the bottles two rinses, filled with water and let stand for an hour, dumped the water rinsed again, refilled and let stand another hour.  Then I gave them a final rinse, filled with ice, Skratch Hydration mix, and fresh water and placed in the motel room fridge/freezer.  The next morning, no bad plastic taste, just icy Skratch goodness.

I started the ride with two Podium Ice bottles that were partially frozen.  I was hitting SAG stops every twenty miles.  First sag stop, both bottles still had ice.  Refill my one I had been drinking from with ice water and Skratch, swap bottle locations and continue on.  Two hours and 40 miles in, the second bottle that started partially frozen still had ice.  Refill and continue on, even later in the day when the heat was coming up and hitting 100+ degrees I still had ice in my bottles.  Did I say these things rock?  They are great, plain and simple and are going to be what I will be using anytime it's hot out.

Staying hydrated and not cramping out was a key part of my plan for finishing the Hotter than Hell.  The Camelbak Podium Ice bottles allowed me to do that and complete the ride with a 20.0 mph average, a distance and speed I've not been able to do in over 20 years.

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.