3/26/2011

A very good day!


I finally decided to switch over to my new wheelset. I’d been putting it off until I had a decent amount of road time in and the roads were a bit cleaner. Initially I figured around the beginning of April but, in a case of mild enlightenment last night, I made the switch. Man, am I ever glad I did. 

 
Good weather (dry) and a decent distance over a variety of roads made for optimal test conditions. The Neuvations have butterey smooth bearings that seem to roll forever. They have sealed cartridge bearings that will require little to no maintenance. No more repacking hubs! The most noticeable improvement over my old Bontragers was improved lateral stiffness. Cornering is absolutely sublime on these new rollers. They go where you point and no corrections are necessary. They also seem to be more vertically compliant. I’m no wheel expert but I do know they feel much better than my old wheels over crappy roads; same tires and same pressure. All that and they look pretty bitchin’ too! Durability is the only remaining factor. Tony and Krista have each put thousands of kilometres on their sets so I doubt I’ll be disappointed.

 
We rode 124km today and are keeping on track with our training schedule. Lots of flat roads with minimal wind made for a very good time. We’re not super fast yet but our average speed was 27km/h. I don’t think we’ve put those kinds of numbers up this early in a season before. Everyone felt good but we were done at the end. Smoothies, americanos and lentil tacos rounded out the day as I write this with a cold pilsner.


Life is good!

3/20/2011

Hello Spring!


It was one of those fabled days here on the West Coast. You could’ve done any or all of the following: run, sail, bike, ski, or just go for a walk on the seawall with great big coffee and sunglasses. In our case, it was a perfect day for a 92km ride out to Iona beach and back! So glad I live here.

Maybe a tad ambitious this early in the season but we did it. I have to say we weren’t even all that slow all things considered. The headwind out by the airport to Iona was vicious; gave us an opportunity to work on our pace lines. We’re pretty out of practice on those. The tailwind back was really fun, though. I love riding at the same speed as a tailwind and having the feeling as though you’re sitting still.

While inputting my ride stats, I noticed that I’ve ridden 1/8th of the total training kilometers for STP. I'm not impressed with that, just noticed it. That doesn’t include any time on the trainer so I reckon I’m ahead of the curve a bit. Yes I record all my stats at the end of each ride. It helps me see where I stand in comparison to the same time last year as well as how I’m fairing in relation to other rides on the same route. I’m a numbers guy and I love information. Yes I have a spreadsheet. I’m not terribly sure what to do with all the data at times but I do enjoy having it in case I figure out what do with it all.

3/14/2011

Consideration


The rain broke for a while this afternoon and I took the opportunity to get out for a ride. Smartly, I put fenders on my bike today. I’m glad I did as the roads were still pretty wet and gritty from recent storms. The fenders did a great job of keeping my back dry and clean. The bike still got pretty dirty but that didn’t interfere with my comfort. They were easy to install and will remove just as easily; by no means a permanent thing. Don't know why I didn't do this sooner.

I had intended to only go as far as Whytecliff but was feeling good and continued on to Lions Bay. The problem was that Krista was expecting me home much sooner than I returned. I didn’t think anything of extending my ride but this raised concern on her part. It was a solo ride for me and I probably should’ve sent her a text from Lions Bay telling her I’d be longer. Had she done the same, I would’ve been equally concerned. Lesson learned – be mindful of loved ones anticipating your return.
 
Pretty nice view for a coffee.
We’re all competent riders and know how to deal with traffic and such but you never know what can happen. We’ve each had enough close calls that it’s easy to go to a very bad place in your mind when someone’s not home at an expected time. I carry a cell and ID with me on rides but that doesn’t mean much if the accident is severe enough. Not all drivers are aware of your presence on the road; especially this early in the season. Even when they are aware they aren’t always courteous. So if you’re out there driving and you’re passing a cyclist, make sure you give him/her at least three feet off your wing mirror; more if you can. A little consideration for riders does not go un-noticed.

Thanks in advance!

3/13/2011

It's more about the beer

A crucial thing to remember when shooting a training video is to always repeat yourself two to three times. Always repeat two to three times. Two to three times! The CTS videos are still a decent workout but I find myself picking them apart. The repetition of statements is really getting to me. I tried muting the sound and putting my iPod on but I found myself getting into the music and missing interval cues – despite them being on screen. You see, I’m also growing tired of the way these people look and their apparent lack of effort. Please don’t tell me to be at high RPM with med-high intensity then cut to a shot of someone’s HRM that reads 126 BPM! That’s just bullshit!

As a break from spinning/training indoors because the weather is soup, T and I went to the Seattle Bike Expo yesterday. It was pretty good. I had ambitions of taking many photos to put up here but that didn’t really happen. T checked out touring bikes and we both sampled a bazillion calories worth of energy bars. Checked out some tour companies. Tony had a slightly awkward conversation with a woman trying to sell him some chamois cream. That was fun to watch. I’ll talk about the importance of chamois cream at a later date – I don’t know you all that well just yet. That was about it. It was something to do but I wouldn’t rush back next year.

However, our trip to REI was outstanding! The flagship in Seattle is something to behold. The selection of outdoor gear is staggering and if you’re savvy about pricing you can get some great deals. We like using Gu gels on our longer rides and they’re much cheaper at REI so I picked up a couple cases of our favourite flavours for our STP training. T scored some “gels and such” (that’s what he told the border guard) as well.

Second to last paragraph. Second to last!


One of the best reasons for crossing the border is good, inexpensive beer. I’m not talking about the sex-in-a-canoe stuff; we always go for the New Belgium brews. We picked up a dozen Fat Tire and 2 Degrees Below and split the boxes. They really are a brilliant microbrewery that I can’t recommend highly enough. The icing on the cake was returning home to a surprise six pack of one of my favourite Canadian brews; Steam Whistle Pilsner (thank you so much, C&S). If you like a good clean pilsner then this is also a must try. So with 18 beers in my fridge I’m set for at least a month. Now if the rain would just go away so we can really get on with it. Get on with it!


3/09/2011

Foiled Again

It is a very Spring-like day today but I can’t help but feel a little “browned off” as my father would say. You see I spent an hour on the trainer this morning as it poured buckets outside. Had I waited just an hour or so I could have gone for a lovely ride OUTSIDE! It’s freakin’ 12 degrees right now.

I’ve been spinning indoors to the Carmichael Training Systems videos over the last week or so. They provide a pretty good workout and give a bit of variation to an otherwise monotonous task. I do however have a few bones to pick with the editing on these. When the coach on the video tells you to spin an 110+ rpm at maximum intensity they shouldn’t show you shots of people spinning in a 39x20 gear combination. That is NOT maximum intensity. For the aforementioned interval I’m in a 52x12 combo! That’s how I interpret “maximum effort” and I want to see the buggers on the TV given’r too.

I made granola bars 1.1 the other day and they’re much better. Now incorporating pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and a heartier portion of cranberries. I think I may be on to something here. Once the recipe is share-worthy, I'll post it. I may post a few of our favourite meals as well. Recipe's are a tough thing for me to write because I usually just eyeball ingredients. Regardless, I have a good few meatless recipes that fuel us well on our rides. 

One of my desktop wallpapers to get me up and moving.
 

3/06/2011

Liquid Encouragement

So this week wasn’t a complete wash for riding. Today’s ride out to the bottom of SW Marine in Vancouver (yes all 3 of us) was fantastic! 70km of sunshine and cool weather. Tony’s recurring seat angle problem had us stopping more than usual but that was no big deal – well maybe for Tony it was. We also got to ride Whytecliff yesterday but Krista was working so couldn't join.

Whyecliff was our first coffee ride of the year. As our training rides grow in distance, there is a need to inject some civility. This civility comes by way of caffeine. The weather and timing were perfect for a shot of liquid optimism at Crema in Ambleside yesterday. They make such good espresso that it often has a line-up but it is well worth the wait.

Today was time for reacquainting myself with an old friend, the post-ride smoothie. Chocolate milk, banana and frozen strawberries always hit the spot when we get home. I can’t speak highly enough about our smoothie blender or the recovery drinks we make in it. I think it’s an essential piece of kit for any cyclist. They’re cheap as chips so there’s no excuse for not having one – unless you hate smoothies.

Totals for this week:
117 km road
3:30:00 trainer time
6141 calories burned

3/02/2011

Wheeeeels!

Can you tell I’m excited to finally have my new wheels? Canada Post tried to deliver them yesterday but due to complete incompetence, did not. Oh I was home (spinning on the yellow demon no less) but they tried to deliver them next door. I would think if one’s business is delivering goods, a fundamental skill would be matching the address on the package to that on the front of a building. I guess they haven’t ironed out all the kinks yet.
 
This is just an unboxing and first impressions post. I was impressed that the boxes were strapped together in the same orientation. It’s a little thing but I have German blood and I’m a Virgo.

 
Both wheels made it through transit completely unscathed. I did have to pay the $28.50 in border tariffs. That being said, these wheels still come in under $300 for the set! Less than half of what you would pay for a set of Mavic Krysium Elites.

No cassette to mount yet.
I skewered the wheels with the beautifully machined quick releases and mounted them on my trainer to eyeball their trueness. Not only perfectly true, they’re both perfectly balanced. The bearings spin delightfully smooth and both wheels (eventually) came to rest with the stem drill out at top-dead-centre. A thing of beauty. This is when I also noticed the Neuvation logo on the hub is also in perfect alignment with the drill out. I really appreciate attention to detail. The braking surfaces are perfectly machined without a burr or blemish of any sort. Another nice touch is the included spare aero spokes - two for the front and three for the rear.

John Neugent hasn’t always put the most aesthetically pleasing decals on his wheels. I was pleasantly surprised by his latest choice. He’s gone from eight “Neuvation” decals per wheel to just six. The new font is also much more subtle. Krista asked me to remove most of her wheels’ decals upon arrival last year but I think I’ll keep all of mine. Tony’s wheels have almost mirror like decals that have been known to induce seizures at the right speed and angle to the sun.


Thus far, I’m very happy with my with my 2011 upgrade. Suffice it to say I’m just itching to ride these. Sadly I won’t be mounting them until the weather improves. Eventually these will become Winter wheels but for now they’re my Summer best. In the meantime, I’ll continue riding my Bontrager Select OEM wheels. Getting some more miles on them should help me gain a true appreciation for the Neuvations when they get their turn.