Sunday, March 4, 2012

What’s it mean when….

So like more than a few hard core MTB racers I’ve been back to hitting the training this winter.  Starting a month later than normal because cyclo-cross ran into January this year. 

We all have our “top secret” training methods, but I gotta say coach Gordy has served up a particular useful dish of pain the past 5 weeks.  It’s perhaps unconventional considering commonly accepted training principals… but I gotta say it’s working.

I did some higher end “threshold” work today, that after 3 1/2hrs of endurance riding & some lesser intervals yesterday(Saturday)… here’s the crazy thing… my watts/output in the final (of 4) 10min intervals today… nearly matched my all time best 10min wattage recorded last November.  That with a lower HR too.  Wild.

Seems I could actually have some gas in the tank to move the horsepower this year!? 

Hasn’t been all roses though, I’ve been sick three times with a cold or stomach ailment since the end of January & had to ease up on training.   Gotta remember one missed workout never ruins a season, heck one missed week ain’t usually going to ruin a season.

Also there’s a point when you are getting back into training (at least for me) that you wonder how the hell you’ll ever raced the Chequamegon 40, or some race like it, as fast as you do ….when in February often it feels like a 2:30 - 3hr ride alone is tough enough to finish, let alone race all out.  That was how I felt most of this past month.. .finally the past couple days the fitness has come around where I feel racing the 40 is finally feels like a physical reality again.

At least March is finally here.. .with it’s nearly foot & half of snow… at least in Ashland… no worries… it’ll be gone in a week & half …maybe..

Friday, March 2, 2012

Counting on stuff… product reviews… sharing what’s worked.. & what hasn’t..

Year after year equipment & bike manufacturers come out with ideas & product of what they feel makes your life better.

I shop like anyone else, looking for the silver bullet of what’s gonna be that perfect piece of equipment, be it bike, components, etc.  I’m also curious what other riders/racers experiences have taught them.  Not the “endorsement” answers of how great something is justified because a rider put down a whole lotta dough so they feel obligated to call it great.  Or a sponsored rider who for all intents & purposes had better say the stuff he/she rides is great. 

What’s the real experience?

No one, no matter how much they ride, has the all extensive answers of what works but I thought to share some my own experiences given the probably 50,000 miles I’ve put on equipment over the past decade.

I judge a product all the way around but if I had a bias it’s for something that doesn’t require much if any maintenance & is durable… bikes can be fun to fix & work on… but they are made for riding.  And no one these days seems to have an excess amount of time to always take care of bikes.

What sticks out?

--Saddles:  At the cost of my own dime, I’ve had amazingly great experience with italian saddle maker Fizik .  Introduced to them after a bike fitting & analysis of my riding style after a bad case of patella tendonitis in my knees.  The curvature & design supports proper hip & back alignment when riding better than any other saddle I’ve had.  My suggestion never underestimate the value of a great saddle for your riding, training or racing.   If you have problems that are directly or indirectly related to the saddle you’re riding, I’d not hesitate suggesting giving Fizik saddles a try.  Everybody’s backside is shaped differently of course but don’t discount how much the right saddle can improve your biking experience.


--Wheel hubs:  What makes my list here my come at a surprise...  Cycleops Powertap hubs – for all the componentry, electronics you’d think it’d take a lot of T.L.C. to keep them running smoothly.  On the contrary, it’s been one of the smoothest, low/no maintenance wheel/hub ever!  You get spoiled having to do almost nothing with it.  It costs a bit, but you would have power metering device, and save time & money in the long run in my opinion.

--honorable mention on wheelsets: would go to Bontrager Race X lite wheels, older model hubs (read into this..DT Swiss made ones) pretty long lasting & durable.  Wheels/rims can stay true year after year after year.   I’ve not had luck with the new carbon ones yet however.


--Brakes (hydraulic):  For low to no maintenance, sorry SRAM/Avid product fans… it ain’t you.  Shimano & Haynes have given me the best experience in that department.  To the point even if SRAM improves their product..I’m not overly interested in trying them again.  I think that’s a hugely point that important for manufacturers to consider before sending a product out.  You give a cyclist a bad or less than satisfactory experience with a product if not once but certainly twice, it’ll be hard to pull them back to giving it a try again.


--Shifters/cables: I think shifters come down to personal preference and you can’t do them wrong.  However cables?  Do yourself a favor, when you need to replace some… put on Gore Ride On cables  -- they are a sealed cable, super smooth, and a huge probability they are the last set of cables you’ll ever have to replace on the bike. (Again back to my bias… get it down once & never have to deal with it again… leaves more time to ride.)  Sure they cost more, but this is one thing where I say if you’re not going to regret spending more on.  Ever.


Nothing much else comes to mind right now…  Fizik saddles, Cycleop Powertap hubs & Gore Ride On cables…. very good stuff.

This year I’ll be giving two or three new products a try.  Including Quarq Power meter cranks, possibly a Enve Carbon MTB tubeless wheelset. 

Another day I’ll lean more into what I’ve not had such good experience with.  Right not I got a tooth to fix……“bling is the thing”…


Black ice…

Black ice + pavement + bike = trip to the dentist…. thinking to install some serious gold bling to flash in that smile of mine at the races this season…