Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Ride Feedback - Edge Clinchers

Just back from my first ride and here are some thoughts...

The combination of the latex tubes and the Vittoria Open Corsa CX's sure do feel good. I had been trying out the latex tubes on another set of wheels with some Rubino Pro's and those were real nice. With the Corsa's the feel is pretty darn close to tubular in my opinion.

The sound of the wheels while rolling are a bit mutted from the tubular Zipps. But they sound fast which counts for nothing, but it does make you at least feel fast.

On my 6.8 mile climb (avg grade around 6.5%) the depth of these wheels didn't affect my climbing. I was 4 seconds from my own PR on the climb and didn't realize this until I got home and checked the data. I usually climb in the saddle and only get out of the saddle when I need a little extra blood flow to the numb parts. The front wheel is stiffer than my old 404 front and it responds better when I'm standing.

On the descent back down there's a section I coast through and use as a speed trap to capture my top speed. My best previously was 44.9mph; today I hit 47.7. Not sure if this is due to the lower CRR of the latex tubes w/ the Corsa's or the ceramic bearings in the wheels, but it's probably a combination of both that helped. This is nice as descending is one of my strengths since most pure climbers will beat me to the top of a hill during races, but my 200 pounds can usually catch them on a descent.

On the way home I put in some 1400+ watt sprint efforts to feel out the rear wheel. It felt stiffer than the old Zipp 808. Sure, feel is subjective, but I felt the difference. One other thing to note with the rear hub is that on previous wheels I've always used the PT SL hub with the alloy axle. This time I went with the PT Pro since the steel axle is stiffer (albeit with a weight penalty).

As for the brakes I slipped on a set of SwissStop yellow pads. Both the Nimble's and the Zipp's were very squealy/squeaky when stopping. I expected to hear the same thing from the Edge's, but they were silent. Not bad, just unexpected.

Overall I'm really pleased as I feel the aero properties of the deeper wheel will suit my racing strengths and not be too much of an impact to climbing. I also think the wheel might get a tad faster as the bearings break in and get more miles (this happened to my other set of ceramic bearings too in the past).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bling that goes round and around

A month ago I decided to ditch the tubulars due to too many problems. I'm not going to go into all the details, but rather put some time and energy sharing the details of the new set that showed up this afternoon.

Here are the details...
  • Front - Edge 68 clincher rim, 20 hole, Sapim cx-ray spokes, White Industries hub
  • Rear - Edge 68 clincher rim, 24 hole, Sapim cx-ray spokes, Powertap hub
  • Weight details - 1,039g for the rear, 689g front = 1,728g (I don't have individual part weights)
This is the first set of carbon clinchers I've owned, so tomorrow's initial ride will be insightful. Several pictures can be found here:

I'll post updates to this thread as I ride these more.

Visiting Google

It was like coming home to visit my old friends. Ok, maybe not, but Google did buy Postini; I used to work there before the acquisition and I have a few friends still working at Google after this deal closed.

But today wasn't about visiting any of them...sorry folks if you're on of my Postini friends. I'll hook up with you next time I visit Google Giew (I mean Mountain View). I knew it was going to be an interesting visit when my 3G iPhone picked up the Google network about a mile away from their HQ while i was driving north on 101.

Upon reaching the lobby you first notice a random scrolling of projected words on the wall. Come to find out it's a real-time stream of searches on the Google site. Filtered of course, but entertaining to see. My guest ushered me in and took me upstairs. We soon made it to the break room as I needed a coffee fix.

Talk about being overwhelmed! You name it, this break room had it. Ok, maybe Aunt Jemima wasn't cooking up pancakes (at least not in this building), but Juan Valdez and his coffee-carrying mule were in full effect. Too many thing I know my host hands me a freshly made latte. Time flies when you try to take it all in. Nice to see the tasty beverage in my hand.

We head back to his office, I crack open the laptop and hop onto the guest network and get some work done. Next up, lunch! Hmm, a recurring theme is happening and it's all about food and beverages (do they have a scotch bar there too?!?).

The plan was to hit up two cafes. At the first I load up on different types of sushi and plenty of wasabi. Gotta say they know how to do this cuisine. Next up was the sandwich deli. Kudos there too.

And like a visit to any place where there are a ton of people milling about (shopping malls, athletic events, etc.), I was probably bound to run into somebody I knew. Come to find out I ran into an old acquaintance from back in my Stanford days...and now she's married to a guy I actually have raced with/against on the Los Gatos team. Small world indeed.

Up next will be a return visit to conquer more of the cafes. Two down, seventeen more to go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peet's or Starbucks? Starbucks or Peet's?

I'm not one to get up on a soapbox and lay claim to which provider of caffeine is better...I'll let others with more time for soapboxy-ness take on this battle. But here's an interesting observation.

My local Safeway has implemented an interesting sales strategy. I don't know if this is on purpose, but it's really handy in serving my coffee needs. Every week I usually end up going and buying groceries for the family; and without fail, it always turns out that either Peet's or Starbucks whole bean coffee is always on sale. It's nice since the discount is pretty good.

Then again, maybe Safeway, Peet's and Starbucks aren't aware of all this and I'm just lucky with my own shopping patterns.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

San Attack-O Race Report

This was my last race in the 4's and it was funny how many guys came up to me before the race and during the first lap and said something like, "Hey, I thought you would have upgraded by now...are you going to pull us around the course?" Nothing like being a marked man even before the race has started.

The plan was to protect Chris and see what we could do for him. Given such, Chris and I spent all of lap #1 and #2 in the back of the pack. My power data confirms that it was way too easy of a ride sitting back there and doing absolutely nothing. It was easy for me to see the front of the pack and there were never any attacks that rolled off more than 10 yards off the front. A friend of mine who rides unattached knew something was afoot. He came back and said, "I know something's not right when you're sitting at the back for this long."

A break didn't stick until the end of the second lap. Four guys got away and had a nice gap. Finally the pack decided to slowly reel them back in over the course of the next couple of miles. As we were getting closer to the break in the rollers after the start of our final lap, Jonathan attacks and tries to bridge across. Good move seeing we didn't have anybody in the break. Some matches were burnt by Jonathan on this effort, but you can tell his fitness is getting better as he's now able to be a factor at the end of a long race (did I say I really like longer distance RR's?).

Back to the action...Jonathan got about halfway across and then the pack decided to pick up the pace. During this time Chris was working himself up the left side and I on the right. Just as we're about to catch Jonathan and the break, I attack. It was on a slight rise before a downhill section where I had to ride on my brakes for the past 2 laps. I got about 200 yards off the front and averaged 442 watts for the next 5 minutes. Eventually two guys were able to bridge across and we worked together 5 minutes but they were dying and the pack decided they didn't want us to take off.

As we got caught, Joseph and Jonathan attacked again. It was nice to see how we saved all our attacking for the last 15 miles of the race. Yes, there was a definite plan starting to unfold. This 2-man effort didn't stick for long and we were back together leading up to the small hill on the backside of the course leading back to San Ardo. Jonathan and Raj were 1-2 up front and I rolled up slotting behind Jonathan. He hit the gas and strung folks out to the base of the climb. From there I attacked again and tried to see who would come with me. I slowly pulled away at the top of the climb and kept on the gas. One guy came across and asked me, "Do you want to work together?" Hmm, let me think about this...of course dude!

Next thing I know Chris had bridged across and joined us. Now this was a break that looked good. 8 miles to go, 3 strong riders and a pack that had 50+ miles in their legs. However, Third Pillar with their 10+ guys decided to put some big guys on the front to track us down. When we got caught I worked hard to stay up in the top 15 guys. There was not enough selection across this flat course to weed out many folks and it was getting tense.

A surge here and there was all that happened for the next 5 miles until Kevin Threm (my unattached buddy noted earlier) attacked. He went hard and got a good gap; however, Third Pillar pulled him back. I must have ADD and have forgotten about my previous two attacks. Four miles to go and I attacked again. This one really hurt and continued to hurt as nobody came with me. Coming into the town of San Ardo I had probably 150 yards on the pack, but someone got pissed off and the group decided to hammer across the final bridge. I was caught at the base of the climb hoping that my teammates were in good position to jump up the slight climb to the finish.

I was toasted like a french oak barrel ready for fermenting of cabernet grapes. The whole pack, yes, the whole pack swarmed around me as went zooming by. I stood to climb and both legs cramped. I rolled up to the finish line knowing I had put in several hard attacks and excited to open the next chapter of my cycling journey in the 3's.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rob Anderson - I guess you never received a bike as a kid

I found out about this guy from another blog and got pulled into the WSJ article and Rob Anderson's own blog. As you should know by now I'm on the side of the cyclists. Being hit by an AT&T service van on my commute to work several years ago cemented my position on this argument pretty well. So if you've got a few minutes, go check out Rob's blog and the comments. Interesting banter:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cycling Jersey = Towel

Man, there are some days where you're on your game and others where you feel behind the 8-ball from the moment your feet hit the ground in the morning.

I decided to head into the office today to break up the week...and I had a teammate from RTP (Research Triangle Park, NC) in town so it was good to catch up in person with somebody I constantly IM with on a daily basis. At Cisco HQ we've got a nice noontime ride on Tuesdays/Thursdays. I've missed most of this summer rides due to the amount of telecommuting I've done. However, I decided to make the effort to get out there today.

The ride was nice as it was only one guy besides myself. We decided not to hammer since I had San Ardo on Saturday. I got back, hit the showers and realized that given my absence in these noontime rides I had forgotten one key thing: my towel. What to do?!? Use my undershirt? Nah, needed that article of clothing.

My next best option was my cycling jersey. Thank goodness for taking the ride easy and ending up with a nearly dry jersey. Not proud of the fact that it worked, but good to know the next time I forget. Luckily I did bring the deorderant!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First the Look the Cervelo fork

Yup, another recall. This time it's Cervelo with their in-house premium fork.

Place your bets now on the next cycling product that will get a recall...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No No for Lolo

Man, that sucked. But I've got to hand it to her. A positive attitude during the post-race interview won me over as a fan. I'm not to sure if she'll get another chance to ever go for gold, but I'm hoping she does.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Want More Bela!

The Olympic coverage this year has been pretty good across the multiple channels (NBC, USA, CNBC, MSNBC). But for me one of the surprises of the games is not an athlete. It's Bela Karolyi.

Gymnastics is cool as they do stuff I could never dream of, but when the coverage cut to the color commentary of Bela, that was a defining moment for me. The passion this guy brings to his sport is unquestionably high.

I found a quote from him that seems pretty appropriate, "“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never.” The same can be said for his Olympic on-camera commentary. Bravo Bela!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Falling in Love Again

As I'm watching the Olympic USA v. China men's basketball game this morning I'm falling in love again with the game of basketball all over again. Call me old-school, but I love it when you see a group of great individuals play true team ball. It's nice to see it from the boys in the stars and bars. This makes me want to go out and shoot some hoops at halftime.

Patterson Pass RR M35+ 4/5

Having secured my upgrade at Fort Ord last week and wanting to give back to my fellow M35+ 4/5 teammates I lined up for this race and had one thing in mind. I wanted to push myself hard on the front and make sure Allen and Joseph stayed protected in the wind behind me.

I led our group up the first two-thirds of the climb and put in a very, very hard pace. Finally when I pulled off the guy behind me said, "Is somebody paying you to do this?!?". All I could do was smile and let him know there was more of where that came from. I stayed in the top 10 going over the top of the hill. The power data shows I was going about 7-8% above my threshold max for the 23 minutes of the climb. The wind was howling and it seemed that we didn't drop many folks on this first climb of Patterson.

On the descent I got back to the front and picked some fast lines. 38+mph for a few miles was fun, but then we turned right and headed up Flynn. I stayed at the front and pushed the pace again. At this point I was hoping that my teammates were finding good wheels to hide behind because this was starting to hurt. Near the top a group of climbers attacked and as we crested we were down to about 30 riders. I think this climb caught a lot of folks off guard and they were dropped.

The 90* left hand turn just past the top of Flynn caught quite a few guys off guard. Our lead group was ok, but from the stories and photos I've seen online it looks like it was tricky. On across and over Hwy 580 and down Carroll to Altamont.

I decided to get back to the front going down Carroll and when I hit Altamont the tailwind was a nice change. Good thing I thought about gearing as I dropped my chain into my 11t in the back and started to motor up the slight grade at 30+mph. With the wind on your back it's amazing how fast you can climb up the slight rise on Altamont before the long gradual descent.

I traded a few pulls with others at the front and as we came up to the right turn onto Midway, the pace slowed. Not wanting to take my finger off the "pain" button, I decided to get back to the front. As I moved forward I said to myself, "Here comes the pain!". Not sure if anybody else heard me say that, but if they did I'm sure they would have like to have slapped me silly.

The rollers on Midway hurt and I was not really looking forward to the second lap. As we came through the start/finish, I looked back and Allen was still with our group of about 15 guys. I rolled back to Allen and let him know that I was pretty spent and that I would just be following wheels on the second ascent of Patterson. The pace this time was a bit more realistic (only a 322 watt average, lap #1 was a 381 watt average).

Our group crested and we had only lost one guy on the climb. By this point my work on lap #1 had caught up to me and I was feeling pretty spent. On the last ascent of Flynn there was a slight acceleration near the bottom of the climb and I wasn't able to respond. Nothing left in the legs as they were about to cramp, the HR didn't want to respond either. My body had shut down. In looking over the data it's not too surprising. I had been on the front for almost an hour and a half going at 95% of my threshold with a ton of climbing.

I was hoping Allen was hanging on with the rest of the lead pack as they went out of sight. I held my place and rolled across the line looking dead (felt dead too). Given the effort and the course, this was the toughest race I've had this season. It was good to put in an effort like this as I think it will be the kind of work I'll need to do for my M35+ 1/2/3 teammates when I upgrade.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the Mend

So my heavy week of 300 miles of training a week or so ago caught up to me after Fort Ord. I've come to learn over the past year that when my body is getting super fatigued I get head colds. On Sunday I felt the cold hit me like a brick while at a kids birthday party. Five days later and now it's finally passed. After a few kilos of Vitamin C/E and some meds, I'll be getting back on the bike.

At least this time I felt it come on, shut things down and didn't try to ride it out. Last time this happened I rode through it and eventually developed a sinus infections. The legs haven't felt this fresh in over a month so who knows what's going to happen at Patterson Pass RR tomorrow. Hopefully something better than green snoggers.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Long & Lean

6-week checkup for Taylor reveals the obvious: 50% percentile for weight 95% for height Hmm, go figure...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One serious turnaround

If you thought the turnarounds at Cantua RR might have been tight, check out this picture from Fort Ord on the second out and back turnaround. No way to carry speed through this corner...a good place to practice your track stands. Photo credits to Steve Anderson...thanks for sending this my way.

NCNCA (Fort Ord) RR M35+ 4/5 Race Report

Distance: 41 miles (each lap was ~10.2 miles)
Teammates: Allen Wulczynski, Jonathan Racine, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Farnsworth, Chris Soukup
Conditions: Perfect with 5-7mph wind from the WNW
Result: 2nd of 35?

I was on the hunt for my last remaining upgrade points after a near miss at Watsonville a few weeks ago. We had a very strong team of guys put together for this race and with the small field I had a hunch that we could tactically dominate this race. Since I hadn't done this race before the more experienced guys from the race team gave some great advice leading up to the event. This course is full of rollers which you can easily power over and one big climb that jacks up for the first 0.2 miles, then backs off a bit for the next 0.1 mile before jacking up again for the remaining 0.2 miles. This climb takes a little bit over 3 minutes in total to ascend. Jeff put in a nice little dig at the front to lead us up through a portion of the hill. A few guys burned a match or two responding to his attack.

The goal was to protect Chris and I with others attacking where possible. The first lap started out pretty slow. We had full road to race on except for the two out-and-back sections (which only encompassed about 3 miles of each lap). As the course was new to most racers, lap one was more like a recon ride...just seeing where the potholes were on the road. However, there was one incident on the descent from the big climb. A BBC rider (I think) somehow got tangled up near the front with somebody and hit the deck hard. Too bad for him, but lucky for me and a few others, he bounced to the left and everybody got around him safely to the right. Amazingly, he was able to get up, brush himself off and re-attach a few miles later.

All along this first lap, and subsequently on laps two and three, I kept a keen eye out for potential rollers where an attack might succeed. But I got a sense that the final climb would decide the race. Back to the action...

On lap two Allen and Jeff went to work attacking off the front, but we lost Doug to a flat. From my viewpoint at the back of a slowly attrition'ing lead group (we had lost Jonathan too along the way, but he was a trooper to stick it out with his injuries from yesterday's training ride) we were able to put in attack after attack with success. It was an SJBC yo-yo at the front! Our attackers never got too far out of reach, but those that bridged up definitely spent themselves and when Allen and Jeff would be caught, the did just enough work to make others riders spend themselves and those chasing in the lead group work hard to catch them.

At some point during the third lap I rolled up to Chris and he said he wasn't feeling too good. That put a bit of pressure on me, but I was starting to feel better as the race got longer. We climbed the hill again and somehow a Webcor guy rolled off the front. I didn't realize it, but he did have about 30-40 seconds on our group. SJBC didn't put in any effort to catch him which raised the frustration of one rider in particular. (I'll let Chris add more about this...).

Our lead group was now down to around 15 guys, and we were getting neutralized by different groups as we were descending to the big climb. We hit the climb, still not having caught the Webcor rider, but he was only 50 yards up the road. Our pace was definitely the hardest this time up and the race was on! I was in the top 5 and determined to hold that position. Out of nowhere around halfway up the climb I saw Chris coming up on my left. So much for him not feeling good. I let him roll by and allowed Russ (Family Center Cycling) to latch on. Chris was on fire and you could tell he wanted to catch the Webcor guy before the top of the hill. We poured on the watts and hammered up the remaining 0.2 miles of the climb. Webcor was caught just before the peak and he was toast.

As we crested and rode across a windy exposed false flat plateau before our downhill plunge back to the rollers, I put in my attack. I hadn't looked back on the climb to see what was happening behind, but I knew that if I took out my little hammer and went hard it might cause some chaos. With hammer in hand, I threw it down. A small group followed: Russ (who I had been marking the whole race), Jeremy from Eden Cycles who is very strong and Chris. I let up just a bit to let them latch on, then glanced back. We had separated ourselves and now were were going to kill it on the descent.

This was a fun descent as we had the whole road and the turns could be taken at full speed. I actually spun out my gearing (50 front, 12t in the rear...138rpm) going down the hill, but the damage was done. We had 4 very motivated guys and only 3 miles to go. We all worked hard over the remaining rollers to extend our break.

With 1km to go, we eased up a bit. Chris was pretty spent and I was just happy to be in the winning break since I knew just rolling across the line would give me my upgrade points. I let Jeremy and Russ lead us into the small climb at 200m to go. Jeremy jumped, and Russ looked back at me. I didn't respond, but when I saw that Russ wasn't going to go, I jumped. At this point Jeremy was too far up to be caught, but I was able to secure second without any issue. Chris rolled across in fourth.

The four of us congratulated each other after the race and debriefed. Apparently we just pulled away from folks on the climb. Nice to know I can lug my large frame up with some of these climbers.

Now for some power data:

Overall: Average power - 251 watts, Norm power - 325 watts

Lap 1/Lap 2/Lap 3/Lap 4
  • Average power (watts) - 235/249/241/281
  • Norm power (watts) - 323/323/308/344
  • Big climb watts (average, not norm) - 464/444/452/473
  • Big climb w/kg - 5.04/4.83/4.91/5.14
  • The final climb was 10 seconds faster than our previous best up that hill