Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whips and chains

Spring is just around the corner, so it's about time I got my whips built and dialed in. Semi-famously I haven't been on an MTB since November, mostly due to trail conditions, which has pushed MTB building to the back burner. I Finally got the one-ride-so-far Epic ass end rebuild with all the proper bearings, bushings, etc so it's good to go. Just need a good trail day to let 'er eat. Also got a new fork, and since I liked the Magura Durin Race from last year I decided to add another to the stable.
The trusty HT is a little worse for the wear since I still haven't pulled the cranks off my CX bike, but at least I finally got another saddle so that I could finish dialing my position in. It'll be interesting to see, but I'm guessing it'll be around 21.5 lbs which is not bad for a 19" bike!

As mentioned, the CX bike has some cobbled-together cranks/rings, but having power data is key, so a non-pinned (and thus SHITTY shifting) Salsa 46T outer with a generic 34t inner 94mm BCD is my compact CX gearing to match up with the ISIS Ergomo I have. The Q factor is noticeably wider but hey - the bike still moves forward when I pedal!

I have to do this because I had to send my SRM back to have a new battery installed (great time to die, BTW), which left me powerless (oh the humanity!) on my road bike. It's working out OK since I just ride my CX bike when I need power data and ride the road bike for endurance rides, like the 5 hour team ride last Sunday in steady 20 mph headwinds. awesome.
All that stuff was just a bunch of shuffling to pass the time until my newest whip arrived - an 09 Tarmac PRO SL. I thought it would be a little bunk using the C'dale SRM that I've had for 2 years, but my search for a sucker, er, sponsor to trade me a Specialized SRM for a Hollowgram SRM has thus far proved fruitless.I was actually a bit surprised to see it doesn't look too bad. It will make a bit more sense once I actually get the SRM back and install it, but there are no interference issues and even though they're fairly easily spotted as Cannondale (and we all know how much Cannondale and Specialized like each other!), I'll swear to my grave the cranks are prototype Campagnolo BB30.Being a new whip, and being a Campyphile, I decided it was time to see what asll the fuss over the new 11 speed was about. When I first heard they were going to 11 speeds, I said I wouldn't do it because I didn't want to deal with the incompatibility between cross and road equipment.
but then I went to InterBike.

Kee-ripes that stuff is awesome. I didn't think they could improve on the 10 speed Record I've been rolling the last several years but they sure did. Starting with the front derailleur shifting action is swift. I can cross chain both 39x11 and 53x25 without any chain rub. Not that I would, but I could... The rear derailleur shifting is ever so subtly different than the outgoing 10 speed action. Surprisingly lighter, but at the same time a bit more swift and crisp, and no where near Shimano mush.
Gripes? VERY cumbersome installation of the ergo levers as a result of another effing torx screw, which precludes the use of a ball end hex key for easy adjusting of lever position. Also, while the lack of cable housing bulge is appreciated, the installation is a bit silly - you can't slide the housing into the lever body without uninstalling the shifter - negating any position you just sweetly found.
Anyway, minor annoyances for some righteous gear. I dig.

I also got some sweet other gear, but it doesn't quite fall into the 'whips' category so you get to check back again later. I'd offer an apology but I wouldn't mean it, and - admit it - you like my prose and check daily for blog updates.


Now for the chains part of the post - I bought a KMC Gold 10 speed chain for my CX bike since the Ti-N coating is supposedly more durable. We'll see but the 9 speed chain sure looks sweet on my HT.
As luck would have it, the chain doubles as an old school grill, not like the platinum grills all the kids are getting these days.

The mean mug comes with the teef. You can't not cop a 'tude with fangs like those!


-the ATM

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 3

My final day in Arizona found me getting up at 6:30 for a brisk hour-ish ride to spin out the legs before I paid my keep for Thursday through Saturday. After a quick shot of oatmeal before I headed out, I went to my real breakfast:
Ahhh, the breakfast of champions!
It was convenient the coffee joint I visited on Friday was 45 minutes away so I made that my Saturday destination. After a quick chat with my dad and finishing the coffee, I headed back with a swift tail wind to end the riding weekend on a good note. After I showered, I reported for duty.
In trade for room and board, I agreed to help install a utility sink and some lighting in Todd's garage of his newly built house.Please note I am quite jealous of the two wide, two deep three car garage.
After a trip to Lowe's, we got to work. New construction is nice since everything has not had time to bond to everything else. We made quick work of the sink and moved on to lighting.
Once we figured out the wiring, installation wasn't too bad on that either - the biggest problem was making sure we hit joists so the lights wouldn't fall after I left. Three lights up, job done.Piggy aproved of the installation! Note Heather's very pregger belly - she was posting ads on Craigslist while we did our bidniss then she delivered the baby 5 days later. Talk about a trooper!
Long story short, good flight home but I arrived to 35 degrees. Starting with Monday and carrying all the way through to Friday, I had a a candidate for worst week ever.
That brings me to the soul riding portion of this epic trilogy. I don't generally like to give excuses as to why I haven't been blogging - you probably don't care - but after a solid week of getting shelled at work, I needed something positive. Even though I still had to drive 3 hours up to hang with my family, after work on Friday I busted out a SWEET F A ride that made the stars line back up for me, which is nice.
Even though I did log power data, and the Two Johns generally hold that a soul ride has no data attached, I had a fantastic soul ride, bar none. This played into my good Saturday, where I laid down a threshhold test pretty damned close to my max ever - this in February. My weekend ended with a long-overdue long breakfast with my brother then a drive home and subsequent decompression.



-the ATM

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 2

The ride almost didn't start out so well since I got a block away before I realized I didn't put my freshly filled water bottles on my bike. Problem solved, I headed out. With my home base in Gilbert, AZ I decided to head south a bit then North towards the Superstition Mountains. Since it was friday, I figured traffic would be reasonable and scenery awesome.

I was right. The roughly 90 minutes to get to Apache Junction was a great warm-up and I even found a coffee shop 45 minutes into the ride to top off my caffeine stores for the long day ahead. The beauty of caffeine is also one of headache medicine. With as much coffee as I pretend to drink, many of you think I could pound a cup before bed and fall fast asleep in 5 minutes but the truth of the matter is I usually have no more than 3 cups in a day. Factor in no pop (or soda as you from Da Region say) and that's not THAT much caffeine.
Anyway, back to my headache. It was holding fast and not letting go. After about 2 hours, I hit a point in the road where it started to have a consistent grade up so I pried off my helmet. Chap my ass if you want for removing said helmet but I noticed when I removed it at an earlier stop that my headache went away. Eureka! no helmet = no headache. Given the helmet was brand new to my noggin (and let's face it, I have a big head) I just wasn't used to the pressure points.
Along the way, I passed Canyon Lake and snapped a few pics that don't come close to doing it justice.

The last two are on the road past Tortilla Flats - simply amazing. Best part? February 6th, and I was wearing a short sleeve jersey, wind vest and bib shorts...No arm or knee warmers.
Only after about 3 or so hours did my legs start to feel the effort which puts me much farther along in my training than I've been in years past in February. Even better was that I didn't crack, just had the same sensations for the last two hours of the ride. All said and done, I got 90 miles in in just under 5 hours. Just the ride I wanted.

That evening Todd, Heather and I went to dinner at an 'old town Gilbert' establishment, the Liberty Market, that is owned by some cat named Joe. I say cat because even though he looked to be in his 50s he looked like a guy who wished to be referred to as a cool cat - Tommy Bahama type button down silk shirt (that was not gaudy) and a straw fedora that oozed cool. It didn't hurt that he had imported a Faema espresso machine from Italy that was rumored to be from the mid-1950s.Regardless, it pulled a tasty shot!
It was also a nice treat to have an Espresso Stout from Japan during dinner.
It's a Kiuchi Brewery beer, more info here

yet another novel-like post, so part 3 will wrap it all up

-the ATM

Thursday, February 19, 2009

AZ Trip and some soul riding, part 1

I found myself in the semi-fortunate position of having 4 days worth of work in central Arizona a few weeks back, so I took the free flight opportunity to ship my road bike out to some friends in Phoenix for an end-of-week ride or two.
Monday’s flight out of Indy’s new airport was a very early 6a, which meant leaving Mexlerwerks corporate HQ at 4a, which meant a VERY early 3:30a wake time. I did get an hour of sleep in on the plane plus about 90 minutes worth of laptop time, so things worked out OK. Once my plane landed in Phoenix I got the rental and made my way out to Globe, AZ to some stunning scenery along the way.

Upon arrival at the mine site I opened my suitcase to retrieve hard hat and steel toed boots inside only to find the gorillas in baggage had not only broken my plastic container of miscellaneous in-room eating supplies, but also broken open my tub of oatmeal, spilling about 4 cups worth all over my clothes. Sweet.
Anyway, work got done around 6p (8 body time) then we headed out for local Mexican (of course!) cuisine. After getting back to the hotel room at 10p (again, 12a body time) my computer finally decided to connect to the interweb so I felt obligated to catch up on email - being days behind email is not fun. I think I finally passed out around 11:30p for a grand total of 21 hours of wake including the hour kipper on the plane. Crash indeed.
Day two at the mine was more of the same, and when we got done at 7p I jumped in the car and headed south to Tucson since 7a start times are better when you wake at 6a, not 3a. A quick stop somewhere for Subway and gas I was back on the road, enjoying the 75mph speed limits Arizona has to offer. The last 15 minutes of the trip were rough, so loud music and rolled down windows had to be used. Another day, another crash.
Wednesday and Thursday had me at my customer’s testing Proving Grounds south of Tucson, but we managed to get done at a reasonable hour on Thursday, so I was able to start my vacation proper a little early. A quick stop at Fairwheel Bikes at the suggestion of my friend Todd Wells (if he only knew we were friends, it would probably work out better) for a water bottle and drool over two Wilier Triestinas and a couple Parlees, plus scads of S Works and Addicts racked up... very nice.
Coping with the idiot drivers of Arizona, I made my way up to Phoenix to stay with my friends on Thursday night. The first task for Friday was to retrieve my bike from FedEx since the 15 minutes Heather stepped out for errands on Thursday was when FedEx showed up. Of course FedEx was all the way across town which meant 45 minutes each way. A key piece of info that would have been nice to know before hand (and was not told on the phone when I called them) was that they would not allow me to pick up a package sent by me because I didn’t put myself as a ‘in care of’ in the Recipient box. Thanks FedEx phone support! I again used my gift of gab, or maybe my disheveled look, to convince the gal I was not trying to steal my bike from myself and I was on my way.
After I assembled my bike, I was on my way!

stay tuned for part 2

-the ATM