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.

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fenix BT20 My Holy Grail of bike lights.

I’m finally happy with a bike light, (and this from someone who spends way too much time and money chasing the next best thing..)

I’ve been around bicycles and bike lights since the days of the old Wonder Lights. 

I’ve been through them, the old Cateye HL200, homebrewed contraptions, (an old VHS camcorder flood light), Nightrider & Nightsun incandescent lights, a Jet light with NiMH batteries, A Nightrider Pro 600 LED, and the monster flamethrower Dinotte1200L which is a fantastic light by the way.

However they almost all suffered from the same problem, proprietary batteries.  Get a bad cell and the whole battery pack was toast.  You either had to get an expensive, (75% of the cost of the light) new battery, or crack the battery pack and cobble something together and see if it worked.  Even my much loved Dinotte’s suffer this same fate, (which explains the several Dinotte batteries laying around the house with big X’s marked on them).  Oh how I wished for a good solid light that had user replaceable batteries.

Seems the nice folks at Fenix lights heard my wishes.  They’ve made some really solid and killer flashlights for a few years now and have a stellar reputation.  Recently they released a couple of bike lights that caught my eye, the BT10 & the BT20. 

The BT10 uses AA batteries and is on the short list for the kid’s bikes when we gear up for the 2015 Bike Across Kansas.  I like the fact it runs on easily replaceable AA batteries and we won’t have to worry about daily charging or bad cells during the eight days of riding.  The advertised rating on the lights shows 320 lumens or so, this should be more than enough for a daytime “SEE ME” blinky and should also be useful while camping out and navigating in the dark.  Fenix are you listening?  I need a deal on three of the BT10s, just saying...

Since I spend my weekday ride time riding in the early morning, usually well before first light, I wanted a bit of a brighter light to light up the road.  This is where the Fenix BT20 fits my needs.  It uses 2 rechargeable 18650 lithium ion batteries and cranks out an advertised 750 lumens of light.  This light is bright enough it illuminates the suburban roads I ride extremely well.   It’s more than enough light to spot out the pot holes and rough patches at even downhill speeds.  It’s got a bit of side spill to it which works well to spot out the local wildlife getting ready to make that kamikaze dash for under your front wheel, (the local rabbits and squirrels love to do that, even the occasional possum).  The light has four basic modes, low, medium, high, turbo and strobe.  My usual early morning rides are generally just over an hour and I find I have plenty of battery capacity to run it on high, on strobe, I’ve ran it well over three hours without an issue.  I’ve yet to give it a runtime test on turbo or the low and medium settings.  One of these mornings I’ll run it on turbo just to see how it does.  I expect to get flashed by more cars however as I already get drivers flicking their high beams at me on high, (and this is with the light angled down). 

A quick note on the strobe pattern for the BT20, it is not just a blinky.  It has a repeated slow blink pattern then a rapid blink pattern.  One of the things I’ve noticed watching local cyclists is how quickly a steady on/off on/off blinky pattern fades into the background and is no longer noticed.  The changing blink rates of the BT20 strobe pattern catch and hold the eyes better in my humble opinion.

The light pattern itself is nice and clean, a clear center light pattern, (no hot spot), well defined beam, and good/useful side spill.  I’ve ran the range from spot light to flood light and next to the Dinotte 1200 this has one of the best useable beam patterns that I’ve came across.  The lens is designed to refract light that would normally be spilled up, (a not useful direction in a bike light) down immediately in front of the bike, (I guess to spot those pot holes you didn’t pay attention to).

The battery box is well thought out and appears to be pretty weather proof, but with the drought here in Texas and my lack of willingness to ride in the rain, I’ve yet to test that out.  The battery compartment opens easily via a thumb screw; pops open and inside are the two batteries.  Since I already own a smart charger for lithium ion batteries all I have to do to charge the light is simply pop the batteries in charger and away I go.  Please do note though, if you use rechargeable lithium ion cells, make sure they are from a quality manufacture and include a protection circuit to prevent them from overheating and suffering as the industry calls it, “spontaneous vent with flame”.   The batteries provided with the light are good quality and have the built in protection.  I’d much rather have my light working properly than go riding down the road and have the front of my bike catch fire.

Current street price for the BT20 is running around $90, shopping around finds some variations and coupons, well worth the price if you’re looking for a really good bike light.

So far, this is rapidly becoming my go to bike like for about 90% of my riding.  If I add in a couple of charged 18650 batteries in my bike bag, this could easily become my do it all bike light.  Three or four sets of charged batteries and I should have enough light for something like 24 hours in the Canyon.