My Progress

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Rocketship

The Rocketship

I’d been looking at upgrading my bike for awhile.  Something was telling me that I was rapidly approaching the far edge of what I was capable with on my Bacchetta Giro 700.  After all there is just so fast you can go on a 42 pound bike with water and gear.  Sure, others could push it farther and faster, just not me.  So I decided it was time to see what was going to be my next bike.

I looked hard at the new Schlitter Encores that are coming out and figured that was going to be the way to go, even to the point of giving Vite bikes hard confirmation that I wanted one.

Of course best laid plans and all that are subject to change.  During the wait for the ordering process to be figured out for the Encore a very lightly used Bacchetta Carbon Aero 2.0 showed up on the used market for about what I was expecting to pay for the Encore.

Now Vicky and I had been debating bikes as she wanted to upgrade her bike also.  We wandered rather far afield looking at Metaphysics, M5’s and various other high end light weight recumbents.  All sorts of stuff were considered but I kept going back to the CA2.0 that was up for sale or the new Schlitter Encore.

Since the order process and delivery time frame was still up in the air on the Encore and the Hotter than Hell was fast approaching I decided to pull the trigger on the Bacchetta CA 2.0. 

And to prove that God has a sense of humor, as I was pulling the trigger on the CA 2.0, Schlitter bikes had figured out the ordering system for the Encore.  Vicky and I ended up committing to the CA 2.0 and the Encore the same evening.

As my normal with buying on the used market, the new bike came with a few challenges.  These were overcame before the Hotter than Hell by throwing cash at the problems till they went away.

The bike is build up with an eclectic mix of parts, a mixed drivetrain of SRAM and Campagnolo, (I know, strange but it works).  The drive train is a SRAM Apex medium cage derailleur, a SRAM 10 speed 11-32 cassette,  SRAM TT900 bar end shifters and a Campy Chorus front derailleur and Chorus triple crankset.  The wheelset is a Vuelta Corsa light set that I picked up off Ebay, tires are Continental GP4000II with the black chili compound.  An M5 front brake and a Bacchetta brake combined with a set of Paul levers handle the stopping duties.  The seat is a lightweight carbon bucket.  Without bags the bike weighs in around 23 pounds, a 13 pound change from my Giro.


Everything that I’d read about the CA 2.0 was true, this thing is a freaking rocketship.  My average speed showed an increase of about 2-3 mph over my times on the Giro 700, I averaged 20.0 mph on the Hotter than Hell, and I started crushing my previous best times on Strava.   Where before it was a long slow grind up what passes for hills around here, the CA 2.0 flew up them.

The first ride on it I ran across one of the local shop group rides.  These rides are generally populated by lots of testosterone fueled competitive types and although the rides are billed as a 16-18 mph rolling average, usually average somewhere above that.  On the CA 2.0 I not only managed to run them down and pass them on a flat section, but hold them off on the long shallow uphill grind to Weston.

The bike is smooth and compliant over the local chip and seal roads; the carbon frame absorbs a lot of the road shock.  It’s super responsive to rider input without being twitchy and uncontrollable.  The bike really excels at long fast rides, converting your efforts into speed and distance. 

Overall, this bike looks to be my perfect platform for my ultimate cycling goal and one of my long term bucket list items, a double century..  Hmm, maybe next spring.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Making it hurt Monday!

I've decided to add in a once a week hill workout to my routine on the bike.

The rides are designed to be relatively short but intense, to hammer up whatever I can find hill wise to build power in the legs.  The idea is to hit the hill as hard and fast as I can, I figure if I can still ride at the top of it, I need to hit it harder next time.  Fortunately one of today's hills/Strava Segments, COC ends at a dumpster, (yea, I know, very scenic), I about put the dumpster to use as I was about ready to puke after run #2 on the hill.

Today's Making it Hurt Monday is below.

Not bad results for an old fat guy..  Two King of the Mountains and a fourth overall.  One of those guys 9 seconds BEHIND me, races for Giant/Shimano and is a sponsored PRO rider, just sayin...

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.