Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catskills 220km Climb Fest

Last week during the Great River Ride I had the pleasure of meeting two local people, well, local to my parents house in CT, named Don and Paula, and during the week afterwards I was invited to ride the Catskills Climb Fest permanent Randonneur hosted by a New Paltz, NY local named George with them. It turns out I'd ridden with George a few times earlier this year so it was good to see him again. On Friday night I hopped on the Metro North train and travelled up to Poughkeepsie where Don picked me up, and drove me back to a campsite very near the start of the event.

At 6am Saturday the alarm clock goes off. It was very hard to drag my body out of the o-so-warm down sleeping bag, and to start donning the bike clothes I would wear for the next 7 or so hours. The temperature was supposed to reach the mid 50s but that wasn't until afternoon, and we would be nearly finished by then. So, high 30s to 40s are what I had to deal with. Beautiful sunny skies and no noticeable wind greeted us near 8am, and it remained that way for most the ride.

Six of us started at 7am. I was the only one on a fixed gear bike. Everyone else had the 'who's who' of the elite custom bicycle world. Moots, Independent Fabrications (2 of them!), a Serotta, a Coppi, and to round it out my Jamis Sputnik! My entire bike cost less than any one of those frames besides maybe the Coppi!

The planned route was roughly 128 miles with around 11,000ft of climbing. It ended up being 137 miles due to a missed turn (which of course was mostly up and down a long hill.) 46-16 was the gearing of choice. It proved to be OK, for the most part, although I had to switch to 2nd gear for a short period of time on two occasions on the 2nd big climb of the other words - start pushing with my feet on the ground!

The route turned out to be simply beautiful. Amazing views of nature were around us the entire ride. Lots of deer were present in the morning - such graceful creatures. The magnificent trees ran the full spectrum of available fall colors. High falling waterfalls, tranquil ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams - we saw it all! And Mountains! Yes, we climbed around, and over a few of those. There were two really big climbs for Northeast standards, and a third that was very long but not too steep. If we weren't climbing mountains we were attacking rollers on a regular basis.

I ended up riding with Don and Paula most the ride although I played rabbit a few times and went off ahead on my own. Rides like this remind me why most people ride geared bikes. I would've been significantly faster had I been able to shift on occasion. Especially the climbs. It's tough grinding it out for 5 miles up steep grades. It wastes A LOT of energy leg pressing over and over instead of spinning out at a higher cadence! Wah, wah. Well, I survived, and didn't feel tired after we finished. My butt was a bit tired from spinning all day on a hard piece of plastic. Today I'm ready to do it all over again!

I have the cue sheet for this ride so email me if you want it. It's one of the best rides I've done in New England. The start is in Rosendale, NY.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great River Ride

Yesterday, Sunday the 12th, I went up to Westfield, MA for the annual Great River Ride. It's considered one of the best organized centuries the USA has to offer, and claims to be the hardest event century in New England. It always takes place in the fall, and hopefully around the peak foliage of the trees. I've lived in the Northeast for awhile now, and tend to take fall colors for granted, but if you happen to live in an area the leaves don't change to vibrant yellows, oranges and reds you should definitely consider making the trek to Westfield, MA in October.

The ride was a bit longer than a century at 112 miles, and it had a lot of climbing. Over 7,000ft is what I heard someone say. The climbing started about 5 miles in to the ride, and was relentless until about 100 miles in to the ride! My kind of cycling! The route was mostly on isolated, country roads. I was very rarely passed by cars. Don, the organizer, also marked all the turns so the cue sheet did not once have to be pulled from the pocket. I wish all rides were like this!

The weather was perfect. It was a bit chilly for the first hour but quickly warmed up and was the ideal cycling temperature the remainder of the day. Just cool enough so I barely broke a sweat. The skies were clear and blue and there was no wind.

I rolled in to the parking lot around 6.30 am, and there were already quite a few people loitering about awaiting the start at 7am. I was told over 300 people showed up. I should note there were two other rides as well if you didn't feel up for over 100 miles. I think the other routes were ~65 or ~80 miles. From the hobbling, groaning cyclists I witnessed after they finished, I can only assume the shorter routes had lots of climbing as well:)

I brought the fancy fixed gear along for this ride with a gearing of 46-16. I was the only person riding a single speed and fixed gear. This surprised me as I figured at least one other silly person would join me for some fixie fun! Alas, I was forced to ride with a bunch of freewheeling gear heads.

I started off slowly with my buddy Zack, but the climbing started early on and it was chilly so I dropped the pedal to the metal and hammered it out for the remainder of the ride. I felt pretty strong, and was averaging in the low 20s for the majority of the ride. Around 50 miles in to the ride, I caught up with the lead group, passed them, but then had a long downhill and one of them cheerfully called for me to lock on to her rear - uhm, draft - and tag along wit them. What she didn't know was that I couldn't coast, but I stupidly spun out to nearly 200rpm's and hit 40mph for a few seconds before slowing down to a sane cadence for the remainder of the descent. After that, we drafted off each other at a pretty high pace for the remainder of the ride.

So the final stats were 112 miles in 5 hours and 26 minutes. Lots and lots of climbing, beautiful scenery in every direction, that lovely fall smell in the air, and good company to make a great ride.

A few of the people I was riding with are from near where my parents live so I hope to hook up with them for the occasional weekend ride. It'll be nice to have some company - and they ride around the same speed as me! - on those long, hilly CT rides.

So is it the hardest organized century in the NE? Well, there are very few of those, so perhaps it's an accurate claim. Is it the hardest century I've done? No, it's easy to toss together a 100 mile ride around my parents house that has many more steep, painful climbs, and, personally, I think, better, more scenic roads.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Winter Cycling

Winter is just around the corner, and the cold weather is no excuse to stop riding your bike! Hopefully I can offer some advice that will keep you pedaling year round through all but the nastiest of conditions. Safety is a consideration, and ice and snow can make things quite tricky, but still manageable often times! I've commuted through heavy snow, and when the bike path was covered in 4" of hard packed snow with a sheet of ice covering it. Yeah, I slipped around a bunch, and wrecked a few times, but it usually doesn't hurt too much since I don't go super fast and more often than not I fell in to softer snow. I find it fun!

I hate the cold. I get cold very easy, notably in my hands and feet, especially when cycling. Until three or four winters ago, I pretty much gave up with winter riding once the temperature dipped to around 40F. I started commuting year round by bike and gradually became comfortable with the shorter rides at very cold temperatures. I then decided I was ready to brave the elements, and go for longer rides. Now, I think I'm capable of riding in any temperature the Northeast can throw my way. This year I did a 200km brevet where the temperature never went above freezing - far from it, and at the 7am start time it was 5F not considering the very cold wind.

How well do you handle the cold?

Everybody is different, and you’ll have to find what gear works at what temperatures. I’ve always preferred being overdressed since I abhor being cold, and over the winters I've gradually slimmed down and fine tuned my gear to what I truly need for each particular condition.

The following is a list of what I own and when and why I use it.

From the top down!


Everyone should have a balaclava for winter riding. They are relatively cheap for what they achieve - a happy, warm head, neck and face, and are one of the most important pieces of gear to help keep you warm. The balaclava should be form-fitting and go all the way down over your neck. A balaclava transitions nicely to nearly every other outdoor winter sport. I often use it for cross country and downhill skiing. The particular version I use is thin but blocks the wind. Pay attention to the thickness. To fit under a helmet comfortably you will need it to be reasonably thin. Mine has a very light fleece lining which does a nice job of retaining body heat, and it also breathes very well so I’m not dumping buckets of sweat in below freezing temperatures. Mine is all black, with no bells or whistles, and I removed the tag, but I think I bought it at Performance Bike online. They don’t have the exact same version I own anymore otherwise I’d provide a link.


On less cold days, you can get away with a headband that covers the ears. There are a few different types that I’ve seen ranging from thick and fleecy to very thin and windproof. Mines sort of in between and seems to work quite well although I must admit I don’t particularly like wearing it. It does keep the ears warm which can make the difference from a miserable to a happy, comfortable ride. The brand I have is Pearl Izumi, and this brand is generally readily available at most bike shops across the country.


On days that don’t call for the balaclava a simple hat suffices. Mine is a Power Stretch fleece hat I picked up on sale at EMS. It works wonderfully, is super comfortable, and breathes very well. It’s also pretty warm. It does not block any wind. On really cold days I double up with the balaclava underneath the hat. Both fit under the helmet with a strap adjustment. Again, you can’t use grandma’s knit wool hat and still wear a helmet, so pay attention to thickness. Also, make sure the hat covers your ears! Some bicycling brand ones are pretty minimalist, and at least with my head, did not go down low enough to fully cover the ears.

Eye Protection

Cold weather and eyes don’t see, uh, eye to eye. You need some sort of full coverage sunglasses for those bright, sunny days and hopefully a pair which you can change the lenses out for when it’s gloomy or dark. Most cyclists have too many pairs of sunglasses. I’m definitely guilty. I have around 6 or 7 pairs, but one pair shines above the rest, but also looks the lamest. Oakley M Frames. They cost a lot, they look ridiculous on most people, but they perform very well. The lens is big and wraps around, meaning even when in the drops you will not have a plastic bar obstructing your line of site, or worse, have no coverage at all. It’s easy to change the lenses, and they have a very wide variety to choose from. I have the persimmon, clear, and gold iridium lenses. I use persimmon for the gray days, clear for night, and gold iridium for the sunny days. There are numerous alternative brands that might cost a whole heck of a lot less, and might work just as well, I just have not used them so can’t offer any recommendations. I recently got some Oakley Radar sunglasses, and they are advertised as being superior to the M Frames, and essentially their replacement. They have a tiny bit more style to them. The lenses have a coating that is supposed to shed away water and sweat, and it does seem to work somewhat, but not amazingly well. The lens is not as big so there is a tiny bit of obstruction when in the drops. I’m not impressed and regret the purchase and would recommend the M Frames over them still.

For the brave ones out there that will never back down against any snow or obscenely low temperature, you need a pair of ski goggles. I wear mine whenever it’s snowing. I don’t really like wearing them, but they definitely work and will keep the bitter cold and snow away from the eyes.

Upper Body

The upper body gear market is ridiculously large, and many, many items will work equally as well with a huge variance in cost. Since I’m a gear head I tend to look for the companies that obsess over the smallest details to distinguish themselves from the multitudes of mass manufacturing outdoor brands. I’ll offer the exact brands I use and a description of them and why I think they are good, but, like I said before, there are plenty of other brands that offer very similar products, and in most cases they will be cheaper since I tend to go for the top end.

One thing I’ve learned through experience is you really don’t need that much insulation for the upper body even on the coldest of days as long as you have a proper shell. This, of course, is assuming you are actually riding hard to maintain adequate body heat. If you are tooling around town you should probably just wear what you would if you were going on a stroll.

For the coldest of days when no precipitation is likely I wear an Arc’Teryx soft shell for my outer shell. The model is Gamma SV. This is not a bike specific product. Retail cost is roughly around $350.

It has a nice hood which is easily large enough to put over a helmet if I really need it. The front zips up over the chin up to my mouth, and has a nice, soft patch sewn in to keep the zipper and abrasive seams off of the face. The bottom rear side of the jacket is cut lower than the front so riding up and exposing skin or thinner layers is never an issue and it protects from the occasional road spray. The front is cut even with my waist so it does not bunch up when leaning over on the bars. I can tighten the waist easily with one hand using a cinch cord so it’s nice and snug which offers a few benefits: It keeps the jacket from flapping around, eliminates drafts, and it helps hold warm air in. The jacket has two large chest pockets and one internal pocket so I can usually carry what I would typically carry in a bike jersey’s three rear pockets. I now also have the option of wearing a jersey underneath and having three more pockets to use. Another great feature are the pit zips. They are very long on this particular jacket offering excellent ventilation.

The soft shell is windproof and highly water resistant. It also breathes a bit better, in my opinion, than a fully waterproof hard shell – something with Gore-Tex XCR, for example.

I use the above jacket almost exclusively for my cold weather riding roughly 50F and below. To compensate for temperature variances I simply wear different layers underneath.

For really cold temperatures, below freezing, I usually wear a mid-weight long sleeved non-cotton long underwear shirt, and then over it a cycling specific long sleeved form fitting jersey that is half zip in the front made by Sugoi. The entire front of the jersey, including the front facing part of the sleeves, is windproof and fleece lined similar to the soft shell of the Arc’Teryx jacket. The rear of the jersey is a thin, fleece-like material which is stretchy, wicking, and highly breathable. It has no pockets. Being windproof and a half zip the jersey allows me to modulate my body temperature better in combination with the jacket than if I only had the windproof jacket.

The above mentioned jersey, alone, or with a jersey underneath so you have pockets, works fantastic in temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

With temps above freezing, I leave the Sugoi jersey at home, and just wear the long underwear shirt with the Arc-Teryx soft shell. If the temps are nearing 40F, or slightly over I’ll simply wear a jersey or a non-cotton shirt.

For jaunts where rain or other types of precipitation are likely I substitute the Arc’Teryx soft shell with its brother, the Arc’Teryx Theta AR hard shell. I have to admit it is total overkill for cycling. This jacket is the bees knee, in my opinion, and the price shows it at ~ $450 retail. It is amazingly crafted, very light, extremely durable, and it does its job better than any other waterproof jacket I’ve worn. Gore-Tex XCR (now they use gore-tex pro I think) keeps you dry, and it has the same pockets as the soft shell minus the inner pocket. The hood goes over the helmet, and it’s also cut the same as the soft shell in the front and rear. I find it gets warmer than the soft shell especially if I wear any sort of insulation beyond the long sleeved underwear shirt.

For days when the weather starts off cool, and I know I will not need a jacket later on, I wear a regular cycling jersey with a windproof vest over it. This vest is made by Bellweather and is basically a nylon shell in the front and mesh in the rear. Pretty much every cycling company makes a vest like I just described. It’s very light, and highly packable. It also zips up to protect the neck. On my arms I wear arm warmers which go a bit under the jersey sleeve and all the way down to the wrist. These should be snug, and there are numerous weights of fabric to pick from. I have Pearl Izumi’s warmest model and think they are perfect.


The legs are a bit easier to take care of than the upper body. I’ve three different setups depending on the temperatures which have worked very well for me.

For the coldest days, I wear Descente’s warmest full length tights. They are totally wind proof in the front and have a heavy fleece lining under the windproof front. The backside of the tight is thinner and breathable. I wear the tights over my normal cycling bibs. I also own a pair of Pearl Izumi’s heaviest weight tights called AmFib, but think they are not as nice as the Descente’s. They don’t fit as well and feel stiff when pedaling. They are, however, very warm and waterproof on the front and butt. I use them mostly for commuting, and save the Descentes for the long rides.

For cooler days I wear a pair of mid-weight cycling tights. Sugoi happen to be ones I use. They are reasonably warm and comfortable to around 45F. They are not windproof. They are far more comfortable to ride in all day compared to the Descentes or PI’s. Underneath the tights are my normal cycling bibs.

For those cool starts, just like I mentioned with the upper body, there are leg warmers available that go under the cycling shorts about mid-thigh and cover all the way down over the calf. They work fantastic. They help keep the knees warm.


The precious feet…Nothing ruins a ride faster than numb, cold feet. Luckily, there are solutions out there which should keep even the coldest of feet happy in all but the most miserable temperatures. My feet get cold easy so you may find some of this is a bit too much!

I wear Northwave Aerator 3 cycling shoes for my long rides. They have more room in the toe box than other shoes I’ve owned in the past. The extra toe room allows me to have more wiggle room, and to wear thicker wool socks. I also have room for toe warmers – the chemical bags - for the coldest days. They work fantastic and keep my feet happy. I’ve discovered the hand warmers are actually warmer than the toe warmers, and recommend trying them instead even though the toe warmers have a sticky side to help keep them in place.

On those coldest days, over the cycling shoes I wear a bootie that goes up and over the ankle. I use Sugoi’s second warmest model. They are supposedly waterproof (they aren’t) and windproof (they are) and they have a heavy fleece lining underneath. They work excellent in conjunction with the hand warmers inside the shoe. I’ve been quite comfortable down to 5F with this setup.

On cooler days, most companies make half-booties that cover only the end of the shoe to keep the cool wind off the toes. They work very well, and are a lot more comfortable than the full booties to wear all day.


And, finally, the last part to worry about, the hands. The hands fall in to the category of misery when cold, just like the feet. I hate cold hands, and mine tend to get colder, faster, than the average person.

For the coldest temperatures, I simply wear ski gloves. I always bring hand warmers with me in case they still decide to go numb on me. I rarely have to use them though. The ski gloves are gore-tex and have prima loft insulation and are quite warm. I don’t wear these unless it’s near freezing the entire ride.

For most all other cold weather riding I have some soft shell gloves similar to the Arc-Teryx shell made by Gore BikeWear. They have mid-weight fleece insulation and are windproof. Again, I always bring hand warmers if I’m flirting with cold temperatures. I’ve ridden with them in extremely cold conditions (5F to 15F all day) with hand warmers and survived, but I would’ve been much happier with the ski gloves.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Bib Battle

The vast majority of riders I see in the NYC area wear Pearl Izumi cycling shorts. I've nothing against the brand, but I want this post to make it out there, and hopefully show a few people the light. PI stinks compared to many of the other brands out there. They are like Bose speakers in the audio industry - they sound good to most consumers because they've never heard better, and dominate the big box market due to an aggressive advertising campaign, BUT they are not worthy compared to many alternatives that are far less money - overall, an insult to music. Sorry about that little rant. If you own Blose, again, I'm sorry.:) A buddy of mine who worked at a bike shop for years and is an avid cyclist last year said PI was the 'king of shorts.' Shortly before that comment was heard, I was ignorant too, and probably would've agreed. Even then, I only had sampled one other brand and knew the Hammer bibs were better, but didn't have much to argue with.

So here I offer a review of all the bibs I've ridden with and they've all seen a LOT of miles.

Before I get started, bibs vs shorts. Bibs rule. End of story:) They do cost a bit more than the same level short, but they are worth it. Go out of your way to find good bibs if you ride for more than an hour or two. It's really worth it.

FYI, I will mention the sizes I wear in each bib so here are my stats: 6' tall, 165 pounds, 32" waist in pant sizes although they all fall off unless I use a belt:)

The brands I used extensively this summer were Giordana, Assos, Hammer Nutrition made by Voler, Performance bike, and Gore BikeWear.

Specific models and price estimates with links to sites I have no interest with:

Giordana Forma - $230
Assos Fi.UNO S5 - $165
Voler (hammer) - $50
Performance Ultra - $75
Gore Xenon - $200

I'll start with my least favorite, but still good, bib short.

Performance Ultra Bibs

Description: Performance's top of the line bib, nearly always on sale, is made of a different fabric from the rest of the bunch called Eschler. It's appearance is textured on the outside but looks similar to other lycra on the inside. It's claimed that it transfers moisture better than most, is slightly more aerodynamic, and is also very light but offers good compression. The chamois is made by Cytech and is very soft, but quite thin and less dense compared to all the other bibs I own.

Regarding the fabric, I'll agree with everything other than the aerodynamics as I've no way to test this claim. I find the material to be very comfortable. The 10 panels are held together with flatlock seams, and do a nice job, for the most part, of anatomically fitting the body. However, I do think they have the poorest fit of all the shorts in this review. I think the leg grippers are too tacky making it difficult to position the shorts properly, initially, and the grippers are also tight on my legs but quite tolerable even for all day adventures in the saddle. If you have hairy legs the grippers might cause some pretty painful pulling.

Fit: The fit is not ideal for my body. I own a size medium. I have gaps on both sides of the groin area where I can not get the bibs to match my body. I've noticed over the hours they tend to settle in, but they never become one with my body like all the other bibs I own. I don't think the compression is as good as the other bibs in this review. The material seems to be too stretchy, and this is very noticeable if you take them off and put them back on again the same day (I commute in them from time to time.)

The shoulder straps are not elastic enough. They are way too stretchy, and seem pretty worthless. The reason for a bib strap is to help keep them pulled up nicely against your butt. They don't do this for me. I've noticed when I commute to work in them, when I put them on for the ride home, they are so stretched out they actually hang a bit. None of the other bibs have this problem.

Chamois: The Italian made chamois is very flimsy feeling to the touch. It is narrower than most the other bibs I own, but not too narrow. It has almost no density. It's stretchy though, and conforms nicely. If you are in to a thin pad with low density these bibs may be just what you are looking for. I can't say it's uncomfortable at all, but do notice a stiff seat more than some of the other bibs. The jury is still out on thick vs thin vs dense vs soft pads. I need another year or two:)

Overall, for the price, these are pretty good bibs. My longest ride in them so far is 192 miles and I lived to tell about it. At the time, I was on a Brooks Professional saddle and the two matched up very nicely. I think the Hammer bibs are slightly better and cost a bit less. But, they are worth considering if you like a thin chamois, and they have an unbeatable return policy - if you don't like them after using them, send them back. Easy.

Hammer Nutrition Bibs by Voler

Description: The Hammer bibs are the cheapest bibs I own, significantly less than the Forma, Gore or Assos bibs, and about 20 dollars less than the Performance. It's hard to fault them for much considering they are far better than most shorts in their price range, and compare favorably to bibs more in the $100+ range. The Voler bibs have 8 panels and a few different kinds of fabric. Stronger lycra makes up most of the body while on the sides the fabric is slightly thinner offering better ventilation. The bib portion has another fancy name, as did the lycra, but I will call it "mesh." There are no silicone or tacky leg grippers present on these bibs. When I first received them I wondered how they would stay in place, but this never turned out to be a concern. They simply do. The chamois is Voler's top of the line model called the Ion SL.

Fit: I wear size medium in the Voler bibs. These shorts fit very nicely on my legs. The fabric feels great to the touch. It feels durable, and like it will last quite a long time. Compression is excellent. The bib straps are not as strong as the more expensive models I own, but are better than the Performance Ultras. The upper mesh breathes very nicely and disappears after putting them on. However, all is not rosy with these $50 bibs. Some people may call my butt skinny, but I have a little excess fabric in the rear and don't have this problem with any of the other bibs I own. It causes discomfort due to friction over the miles, and is even noticeable on shorter rides when I ride my fixed gear and can't shift around much. For this reason alone, the Voler bibs have been relegated to commuting duty, exclusively. They are the only bibs that shift around when I stand up and pedal. I can feel them sliding back and forth as the strokes go up and down.

Chamois: The Ion SL pad, judging by appearance, looks like a great chamois. In practice, though, I think it's the worst of the bunch for my rear end. It has slightly more density than the Performance bib under the sit bones, and is reasonably thick, too. It feels like cheap foam underneath, though, and I don't think it does a whole lot for comfort. The fabric is not as soft as the other bibs I have, and I find it to actually be abrasive due to the fact the rear does not fit me so well. It creates hot spots, especially when riding my fixed gear and pedaling fast. Disappointing.

Summary: The Hammer Voler bibs are definitely worth trying out especially since you can get 15% off your first order if you've never purchased from Hammer before (the referral link is on the top left corner of my blog.) Buy one pair, and if they work, you just found yourself a screaming deal and can get 4 pairs of these for the price of one pair of Giordana Forma bibs. If it weren't for the slightly imperfect fit in the rear I would probably be using these shorts exclusively.

Giordana Forma Bibs

Description: These bibs are the most expensive pair I own at $230 retail. The attention to detail is impeccable. They have only a few panels, very similar to the Assos, and are proof that you don't need a gazillion panels to make a high end short functional and comfortable. The lycra is excellent, but is slightly lighter weight than what I would like. I would compare it to the sides of the Hammer bibs. It's a bit stretchy and not as compressing as the other bibs. The leg grippers are excellent. They are razor thin, quite wide, more than double the other leg grippers, and made of a material that is tacky, yet not sticky like silicone, and simply works. I think these are the best grippers of all the shorts I own. Their jerseys have the same on the sleeves and I think kick butt! The chamois is narrow, and is similar to the Performance bib. The upper portion of these bibs are what really impress me. They offer a fantastic fit with really wide shoulder straps made of a very thin neoprene-like material that do an excellent job dispersing the pressure over a wide area creating a great overall fit which I think reduces fatigue over a prolonged period of time. They dip down very low in the front and have a lot of mesh in the rear offering a cool fit in the summer time. I wish all bibs had this top!

Fit: I wear a size medium in these bibs. These bibs fit me perfectly. They become one with my body, which basically means I don't even notice or feel them after I put them on and start riding. What more can you ask for? Well, it turns out a little bit more. The compression is not as good as my favorites, but if you are used to bad shorts or crummy bibs I think you would find these to be excellent. Assos corrupts. The Forma's have 4 panels. I would consider them stealth in appearance. They don't have the crazy flatlock seams all over the place like the Performance bibs, and obviously don't need them. The bottoms are all black besides some reflective brand labeling and a tab of reflective material sewn in on the sides. I have to comment on the leg gripper material again. It's awesome. All bibs should use this method! No grabby, sticky stuff, no dimples in the legs for hours after use, and no pressure due to the wide band.

Chamois: The chamois is a nice, soft, blue colored slightly narrow chamois with various densities throughout. Under the sit bones it is the thickest, and might even contain a gel-like substance or some sort of memory foam. When I get up and mash up a hill on the fixed gear I feel absolutely no movement. A perfect fit. An excellent chamois. Thicker than the above bibs, but not as thick as the Assos.

Summary: Were it not for those darned Assos bibs, these would be my "go to" shorts for long events. They are excellent. A very expensive experiment, but if you have the $, they are worth trying and I highly doubt you will come away disappointed.

Gore Xenon Bibs

Description: These bibs have a lot of seams like the Performance bibs. There ends the similarities. The lycra fabric all around is excellent. It has different degrees of thickness offering a custom fit that seems to really work. The leg grippers are similar to the Assos, and are a stretchy fabric with a bunch of little silicone dots to help hold them in place. The Gore bibs have a very fancy looking chamois - skeletal in appearance, with high density sit bone padding and custom padding all around. The uppers are mostly mesh. The straps are reasonably elastic, and do the job, but seem like they will not last as long as the Forma or Assos bibs. The front is cut very low like the Forma bibs.

Fit: I wear a size medium. The fit of the Xenon is incredible. They were my first 'second skin' experience. The compression from the lycra is tied with the best in the group. It feels like it massages the muscles during long rides. The legs are slightly shorter than the other bibs I own - something I've noticed with the other Gore shorts as well. The Power model shorts I own are almost like tri-shorts. It's getting difficult now to distinguish the high end models from each other since they all seem nearly perfect in fit. The leg grippers work very well, too well, in fact, and you will have dimples on your legs for the rest of the day or night after you wear these for a few hours. They nearly embed themselves in the skin, and upon removal after a long duration, it feels like you are peeling them off the skin. A few times it even hurt. These shorts offer excellent ventilation making them a perfect choice for those hot summer rides.

Chamois: The hyper-designed chamois is very nice. It looks pretty neat, too. It has what i think is a perfect thickness and density in all the right places. Under the sit bones is a gel-like padding which does an excellent job absorbing vibrations and padding the bones from jolting impacts. It is soft and causes no discomfort over long periods of time. It simply disappears which is what everyone should want!

Summary: It's a tough call between these, the Formas, and the Assos. The Xenon's just barely edge out the Formas since they have better compression. The leg grippers could be improved, but, for me, are not a deal breaker. A very nearly perfect bib short and may, over time, become my go to short.

Assos Fi.UNO S5 Bibs

The ferrari of bib shorts. Those who know about Assos are a lucky class of cyclists, or perhaps unlucky, if you view it monetarily. I bought three pairs of these when they were on sale at my local sporting goods shop a few months ago and do not regret the $400 spent one bit. The shorts are simple in appearance, like the Formas, and have only 4 panels. Again, it's proof you don't need a billion panels to make a high end short. The lycra fabric used throughout is very high quality and is exactly what's needed. The material label is sewn on the outside instead of inside like every other bib - smart since it's one less thing to feel and cause friction. The label says there is carbon fiber in the shorts. This alone should make them the best:) It has reflective tabs on both legs in the front and rear. A nice touch. The chamois is big and goes up higher than the other bibs in the front. The rear is mesh and the straps are very elastic and strong.

Fit: The fit of these bibs is perfect. I wear a size LARGE. You will probably need to order one size up with Assos. They offer great compression which, like the Xenon's, massage the leg muscles and reduce fatigue. The leg grippers are similar to the Xenon's, but function far better. They don't rip your skin off and the dimples don't last very long. Again, perfect. The straps are tight. They even make me hunch over a bit when I first put them on. But, when you start riding, it all makes sense and you forget they are even there. The Uno's are Assos, uh, low end model. I fear the high end. Some day, maybe...

Chamois: The Uno's chamois is the thickest of the group. The fabric is very soft. It is dimpled throughout, and has varying densities. The front seems to cup the boys amazingly well. It's like a pocket. The best chamois in the group, and this is why they edge out the Xenon bibs for first place. If you don't like a thick chamois stay very far away from the Assos bibs.

Summary: My current favorite. Everything seems perfect. I can't imagine needing anything else thus one of the reasons I've abstained from their two higher end models. If you ride for more than 2 or 3 hours straight regularly, do yourself a favor, and try these shorts. They really make a difference as far as comfort goes for me over the long haul. The only short I've worn more than once before washing (not recommended:)) that felt exactly the same the second time.

Round Two

So the quest for RAAM was a big wash out. This year, anyways. I've taken quite a break from posting here for a number of reasons.

1) The IT department at work decided blogs are social sites so I'm blocked. Unfortunately, this is where I did nearly all of my writing and posting. It actually got busier at work, too, so I'm forced to work!

2) I got a bit discouraged in early July when I realized I was probably not going to be able to swing the time, team support, and mileage needed to compete against a guy named Jay - he won it and qualified for RAAM, congrats to him. This wasn't going to make me quit all together, but it was certainly a blow to the ol' moral.

3) My road bike died.

4) I had still decided to go even after the road bike went kaput using my fixed gear Redline instead. I had plans on just doing a tourist version of the ADK 540. What the heck is a tourist version? Well, I just made that up, but I had the idea of just taking it easy and riding the entire race unsupported with the goal of just finishing. But then on Monday, the week of the race, I was hit by a car commuting home. I'm alive and kickin' but the ribs are seriously unhappy and I would've suffered miserably had I decided to go for the 544 miles.

So there's my sob story. Now, back to the regularly scheduled program.

O yeah, round two. I have A LOT more time and a heck of a base to work with and I'll be seen next year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bebop SL pedals

Today on tap for a mini-review are my recently acquired pedals for the commuter bike called Bebop SL pedals. I got them to replace the Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. Why? Egg's are notorious for destroying shoes. They did a quick number on my Lake's due to the extremely high (assumption) nearly constant pressure exerted on them with the high geared fixie. I like to think it was the massive power I was throwing down - certainly greater than what I had when mountain biking. I used the Egg's when I was mountain biking almost exclusively and they usually ruined the soles of my shoes in about 6 months. The platform is downright lame (tiny) for the Egg's as it is with most mountain biking pedals. Many think the platform is sufficient with today's stiff shoes, and there've been tons of arguments on forums discussing just that. I was in the camp who thought the platform did not make a difference. Regardless, the Egg's are probably the smallest though.

Every time I pedaled recently, the right shoe creaked on every downstroke. This, I found, to be very annoying especially when the rest of the bike was nearly silent. So, off go the egg beaters and on go the Bebops.

Bebops. What the hell are Bebops?

I found out about Bebops in depth earlier this year at a Brevet in MA. The owner of the shop there loves them and uses them on all his bikes. I questioned him quite a bit and learned the following. Bebops came out around the same time as Speedplays were hitting the market. The actual bebop pedal looks similar in function to the Speedplay. The bebop is all metal though while the Speedplay is a resin material. Both provide nearly unlimited float. The cleats on the bebop are also all metal and appear far simpler, less bulky, basically a cleat I would rather be dealing with over the Speedplay. For the record, I use Speedplay X2 on my road bike and really like them. Too many similarities? Speedplay thought so and, I guess, having a larger punch or a bigger law team they were able to persuade/force many places to not carry bebops if they were going to carry Speedplays. Speedplays had the advantage of being in the Tour, so from the start Bebop was screwed who does not sponsor anyone as far as I can tell. The platform is slightly smaller than Speedplays so I asked the owner if he thought that would be an issue road riding. Well, he's ridden A LOT and REALLY far in one shot and said "NO" not an issue. I'll trust him, for now. He also told me the cleats are expensive to replace, just like the Speedplay pedals.

The bebops appear to be very well made. They are extremely light. They are even lighter than my Speedplays due to the much simpler cleat. Bebop has an ever lighter version than the one I got knocking off another 20 grams. The cleat is SPD so it will not work on the majority of road shoes unless you can find an adapter or you are one of the lucky ones with SPD and Look type screws. I put them on my Lake Mountain biking shoes hoping they would nicely cover the ruined spots from the Egg beaters. They did! The installation was very simple until I noticed the last step stating most mountain bike shoes need to be shaved on the inside due to the extremely low stack height of the bebop pedal. Ugh. So I pulled out the very sharp knife and started cutting away some rubber until it looked like enough was off to clear the pedal spindle. Rubber is hard to cut. I think shaving it would've been far easier, perhaps with a metal file, but I don't have one of those.

So how do they ride? I was happy to feel the difference. The larger pedal interface offered a noticeably stiffer platform over the Egg beaters. I thought the Lake shoes were flexy, but it turns out they are plenty stiff, it was just something to do with the egg beater pedal. It's incredibly easy to clip in. It may have been this easy for me because it's the same motion as clipping in to Speedplays - just push down:) The action is lighter than the Speedplays. It felt very solid clipped in. The float is smoother feeling than the Speedplays.

I think these pedals are winners. They are the best I've used and I really want to put them on the road bike now, too. The SPD is the only problem. I would prefer to use road shoes, but may be willing to use a MTB shoe if I can find one that is very light and breathes well.

In summary, ignore the fancy brands and large consumer labels out there and opt for the high quality bebop. Your knees will thank you as will your feet due to the larger than most mtb pedals platform.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Epic Ride

What makes an epic ride? Today, I had many of the things occur which would make it an epic ride. I rode about 150 miles total, climbed over 14,000ft, rode in 90+ temps most the day with very high humidity, got stung by some sort of critter two times, got caught in three thunderstorms in the afternoon at various times, and did I mention the climbing? O, yeah, I guess I did.

Today was a brutal ride. I actually cheated and cut it about 40 miles short by taking a Metro North train back to the city. I was that beat. The climbing coupled with the heat really did a number on me. I went through nearly 8 liters of water.

I was a zombie on the train. My lungs were aggravated from hammering the last 10 miles so I would not miss the train and be stuck waiting another hour for the next one. I considered making a public announcement to the car I was in. I seriously thought about standing up and asking, begging, offering to buy anyone's sweet, sugary drink and any food that was NOT a protein bar or the liquid diet crap I had been sustaining myself on for the past 10 hours. There was a woman drinking Welch's grape juice a few rows down. I eyed it enviously.

The ride started out great in the morning. I quickly met up with a threesome that were hammering and doing the drafting rotation. I squeezed my way in and rode with them all the way to Bear Mountain. It turns out they were all ex-professional racers from Europe. They were all in their early to late 40s. They thought I was crazy. I thought they were crazy. They took me on some roads I had never seen before and it should be noted they were gluttons for punishment like me. They seemed to squeeze every foot of elevation gain out of the roads they could find. With them, I tacked on an extra 6 miles to bear mountain and also a few thousand feet of extra climbing. FUN!

After the 4.5 mile Bear Mtn. climb we parted ways and I headed off north to my parents house. A brutal ~50 miles consisting of nearly all climbing. The heat started to drive in to my head. Do weird things. Telling me to stop riding. Take it easy, bro, why don't you just stay at your parents house and have some nice cold ones and some good food. Finish the ride tomorrow. No! I made it to their place, to their surprise, and basically did a pit stop. Wolfed down a burger, drank all their orange juice, and high tailed it outta there with the goal of making it to a train station to get back to NYC.

And that puts us back up to the previous paragraphs. An epic ride.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Specialized Toupe 143mm vs Fi'zik Aliante Carbon vs Fi'zik Arione vs Brooks Team Professional

Wow, lots of saddles. I bought around 132 saddles off of ebay over the past few weeks and have been slapping them on the mighty Redline 925 for commuting and morning training rides to see how they compare or fare with hopes of replacing the Team Professional titanium I currently have mounted on my road bike. WHY?? The weight, even with the titanium, still bothers me. Yeah, shut up already! Ok, so what truly bothers me is the leather. I really don't like having to drag around a seat cover to protect the little baby from the water. Road spray, rain, whatever. It's all bad. This liability has bugged me since day one. It's a truly comfortable saddle. Significantly better than anything I've used to date. It disappears.

So, can any of these fancy saddles replace it? Who's going to be the next saddle under my tush? Or will the Brooks triumph and remain atop the glorious road bike?

Specialized Toupe 143mm

I think this saddle sucks. Ha! Ok, you'd probably like to know why I think it stinks? Ok, I'll tell you why. It simply does not work for my rear end. I really don't like how it forces me on my sit bones, and nothing but my sitbones. It DOES feel like it perhaps lets more blood flow around, but to be honest, I've never had any issue before with ANY other saddle in this area so don't try to sell me with fancy advertising making it seem like all other saddles are evil and yours is THE ONE. So, let me have less blood to critical areas for more comfort. It was okay for the first five minutes. After that I didn't truly hate it, I just didn't like it. I felt the edges dropped off dramatically creating a pinching feeling in my inner thighs. I also don't like the faux carbon accents on the corners. Why? why? Wasteful. If on the sides, yeah, OK, it keeps the saddle from being scratched when leaning on your favorite tree or wall, but these are on the rear and you'd have to be pretty creative to lean them against anything. Maybe I needed the 130mm or the 155mm. I'll never know.

Fi'zik Arione

I think this saddle is pretty good. If you like a Brooks Team Professional, just maybe, maybe you'll like this saddle. I'm going to keep it for awhile on the fixed gear commuter and play with the angles some more to see how well it works out. I like the long, flat top. It has just enough cushion. It's a saddle. Not much else to say. It's narrower than what I thought would work for me.

Fi'zik Aliante Carbon

The bling of all saddle bling. This saddle is stupid expensive. I'm glad I did not pay retail for the brand new black version. Ebay!!! This saddle has it all. Kevlar weave in the middle that is very flexible...kinda like the Brooks (hint hint) True Carbon wings...none of that plastic blend stuff. Really nice leather atop. Carbon braided raills. What else could you ask for? O yeah, comfort. And does this baby deliver! I think it's even better than the Brooks. I love this saddle. And it's only 160 grams according to my scale. DING DING. We have a winner. This shall remain on the race bike. If I were really wealthy I'd put it on every bike, but I'm not.

So, give the Fi'zik saddles a try. The two saddles are VERY different, yet both are very comfortable. I think the Aliante is a lot better for my butt, but I'm going to give the Arione some time.

Redline 925 Review

I have a decent chunk of miles on the Redline now, mostly commuting, but I've also used it for a few training rides so I think it's time to share some thoughts on this rusty colored beast.

Thus far, I've only used the bike in fixed gear mode. It's very simple to flip the wheel around and run it as a single speed with freewheel so you can coast to your hearts content. It comes stock with a 15T fixed cog and a 16T freewheel. The chain ring up front is a 42T. I find the 42-15 ratio to work very well for my needs. Yes, I'm mashing up hills, but on the flats I rarely spin out over 90-100 cadence unless I have a strong tail wind.

Fixed gear is fun.

It's really fun. I love flying down the hills spinning at 180 cadence at over 30mph zipping here and there dodging all those nasty potholes which would send me flying off the road down in to the woods, or maybe the Hudson river if I'm lucky.

I'm pretty sure riding the fixed gear is good for my training. It forces me to pedal the entire time, and also forces me to mash more than I would typically do on the geared bike both riding in to the wind and going up hills. My knees feel better already. Seriously.

O yeah, back to the Redline. It's heavy, fat, ugly, don't buy it.

I'm guessing this beast weighs in at a hefty 25lb's. Quite a bit considering it does not have much going on, or hanging on it. It comes stock with some pretty swanky black plastic Planet Bike fenders with...drum roll...mud flaps! They do their job admirably and I haven't been sprayed once by the nasty NYC muck on the streets.

The frame is double butted 4130 chromoly steel. The fork is straight bladed steel, and tapers nicely from top to bottom. It's a pretty stiff ride, but not terribly so. Compared to my race bike it's STIFF. The carbon frame and fork do wonders. I did not appreciate this until going back and forth between the two bikes on the same day. Huge difference in ride quality...but the Titus FRAME costs nearly $1000 more than the entire Redline bike.

The paint job is really nice. It definitely draws attention. I've had more people comment on what a sweet ride I have, this $525 dollar single speed, than on my significantly more expensive race bike. I...feel offended. The paint job sparkles in the sun and has a decidedly retro appearance with the sexy cream panels on the down and seat tubes. It's tasteful, but loud enough to scream LOOK AT ME. Most people that see it and learn a bit more about it generally say they are going to go get one, too.

It's fun passing geared roadies on the steep climbs with my steel, full fenders fixed gear bike. Stroke thy ego.

The wheels seem very solid. 32H with some thick stainless spokes. Redline badged hubs. The bearings are very smooth on both wheels. I think the wheelset is more than adequate - better than most at this price point. They aren't even terribly heavy. The tires that came on the bike are Kenda Cosmos. Were, I should say. They were 28c with some light tread with grooves for water removal, etc. I got a flat on the second day so instead of bothering with them and risking another flat I put on my 28c Specialized Armadillos. The Armadillos were noticeably larger upon mounting. They are also slightly heavier but WAY more durable and much better feeling when riding, which is a pretty huge insult to the Kenda if anyone knows how poor the Armadillo rides...certainly no gp4000 by Continental!

Bullhorns are the bars that come stock. I don't particularly like these. They put too much pressure on my hands and force them in to an uncomfortable angle unless I angle the bars up a lot then I have too much pressure on the hands. They are also a touch too wide. Good for climbing, bad for everything else. I haven't measured them but I'd guess they are around 46cm wide. I'm awaiting some standard road brake levers and shall put on a drop bar I have kicking around.

The brakes are no name dual-pivot brakes. They work. They are quiet. They are not as strong as my Cane Creek SL on my road bike, but more than adequate.

I can't comment on the saddle. I took it off before leaving the store and had my Brooks Team Professional put on.

For a little over $500, I think this is the "GO TO" for commuters that don't mind having only one gear. Believe me, I did a lot of research, essentially checking every manufacturer out there, for the ideal single speed road bike. Cheap, versatile, fenders a plus, durable for long distance riders like me. It's a very solid bike and will last for years to come. It's looks defy the price tag, which may not be a good thing depending on where you wish to leave it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Back to the basics

Yesterday I picked up a new ride for commuting. I've always been slightly nervous parking my road bike in a public accessible albeit relatively secure Manhattan city street. So, yesterday I got a Redline 925. I searched nearly every company out there to find the 'ideal' bike for what I needed. Single speed, cheap, solid, versatile. The 925 trumped every other company. It came stock with fenders, fixed/free wheel, and had good parts all geared towards being sturdy and strong for commuting. It weighs roughly 25 pounds.

I was surprised when I went to pick it up. The paint job was nicer than I had expected as were the welds. The guys at the bike shop were drooling over it after they learned the cost. They thought it looked far better than the offerings they had in stock by Specialized and Bianchi to name a few.

I rode it home yesterday and hammered the entire way. It was perfect from the start. No funky noises, everything simply worked. I even felt like my speed was very similar to the geared bike. Once home, I removed all the extraneous garb like reflectors and chain guards. Now the 925 is ready to roll. What better way to break it in than a nice century ride the next day?

Saturday am, I roll out of bed and the wife wants to get stuff in the city. We ride all around NYC, roughly 25 miles, then head home. I dropped all the crap off then headed back out the door. To bear mountain I pedal!

This bike is fast. I still don't know what the gearing is, but it's perfectly fine as is. I was able to climb everything without struggling too much, but could easily hang with geared bikes on the flats. In fact, I passed most roadies like I do on the geared bike. Hmm..

Bear mountain comes around, 44.5 miles later, and I check the timer on my watch. Five minutes LESS than my fastest time on the geared bike. This, I must admit, was stunning. I definitely did not expect this. I love riding single speed bikes, so what the hell do I need all those gears for? Immediately the mind starts spinning thinking of how I can quickly ditch the gears and make the road bike a single speed as well. Easy. Game, set, match.

Predictable? If you know me, yes, if not, well now you know. I'm a single speeder at heart. Always will be. 12 pound single speed road bike, the Titus is, yes, and it shall be. fast, climbing machine, long, long hours with grueling grinds up the mountains. bliss.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grueling Ride

First off, I'm still feeling way off, so I hope this all comes out being reasonably readable!

Today, I went for my weekly long ride around 7am this morning. Temps were supposed to reach the mid to high 80s and be sunny most the day with some thunderstorms later in the afternoon. The last sentence turned out to have about 50% accuracy. Yes, I did get hammered by some big thunderstorms (two of them), but no, the temperature was actually closer to 95-100F with high humidity. Cheers. 6L of water and 7.5 hours later, I crawled in to my apartment. I dumped the bike against the wall, leaned against the same wall so I didnt fall down while I took off my shoes. I stripped down naked leaving the clothes scatttered about on the floor to deal with later and plopped down in front of the air conditioner, closed my eyes, and tried not to puke all over the sofa. I was numb feeling, my head was spinning, and my stomach was not feeling like wolfing down the typical large quantities of food after such a ride. Breathe deep. After about 30 minutes of this I decided to be brave and crawl for some fruit juice. 15 minutes after this I started feeling slightly recovered. Time for a beer! Wait, better guzzle down some water first. Ok, now, time for the 90 minute IPA.

What the hell happened? Well, hammering at 85% of my heart rate for 7.5 hours in the heat I guess did a number on me. I suspect the Hammer Perpetuem turned a bit rank due to the excessive exposure to sun and heat. The four climbs, which I'll mention in a minute in more detail, certainly didn't help anything. I was dumping sweat all over my bike as I pumped my way up the hills. At least I felt great for most the ride. The last 10 miles were pretty awful though.

Roughly 131 miles with four five mile climbs gaining a little over 2000ft eleveation each time. Right there, that's 20 miles with over 8,000ft of elevation gain. That leaves ~111 miles more to consider and those miles were definitely not flat! The altimeter tells me I climbed over 12,000ft today. I feel it. Korean food, here I come!

The Gore Xenon bibs performed phenomenally well and exceeded my expectations. They are clearly superior to any short I've used to date. They better be for nearly $200. They felt far more comfortable than the hammer and performance bibs, basically like a second skin, and they also felt cooler throughout the day. They kick butt! If anyone needs my address for shipping of size M Xenon bibs in black, just email me!:)

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Bling

My Dura-Ace crankset FINALLY arrived. The crankset hung out in customs for a bit too long to my liking then the mail room at work had a brain fart and lost it for a few days. I should've had them last Monday. Instead, I received them this Monday. 175mm length of shiny, silver bling. It even looks sexier than the FSA K-Force I previously had and also felt lighter in the hand, and, in fact, is lighter (confirmed at the bike shop)

So, who cares how it looks, how does it perform? Well, I thought I had some good gear before with the upgraded Stronglight Teflon chain rings on the top of the line K-Force FSA crankset. The Dura-Ace makes the FSA seem pretty lame in comparison. It was immediately noticeably stiffer in the bottom bracket area. Great and all and I like it when as much as my power as possible is being transferred. But the best part is the shifting. The dura-ace chain rings simply shift significantly better. Immediate response after I flick the trigger. POP on to the big ring. Absolutely no hesitation. This is nice. Really nice. I hope it always shifts like this!

On the way home, I decided to get my "long distance" weekend bib short - something I've been hemming and hawing over for awhile like which brand, etc. What is a long distance weekend bib short you say? One day a week I ride far. Having bib shorts that are extremely comfortable is an obvious very good thing to have and could even make or break the day's ride. The Hammer bibs are great, and I think they are more than adequate, but I feel like there may be a better bib out there for the extreme mileage/hour days. A more expensive bib. A much more expensive bib. The debit card is still crying.

Oops, I jumped ahead. So I peeled off the bike path around 65th ST. on the west side and headed up the hill past the gaudy Trump towers and banged a right on West End Ave and jay walked, etc my way across the street to Toga Bike Shop. A high end bike shop that probably has the best selection of gear for a roadie in NYC. Debatable.

So I browse through the 300 pairs of bibs mostly sorted by size and grab three pairs of high end bibs to try on. Castelli, Gore, and Giordana. $149 to $229. Ouch. I hope the $149 are the best fitting. Ha!

I start with the cheapest first, the Giordana Tenax Carbon, hoping to see a difference as the price increases. They feel great. They are super high tech looking. The chamois does not look as fancy as the ION SL that comes with the Hammer bibs. Overall I could certainly, probably, live with these as a day to day short but I don't think they are "the" high end long distance weekend ride short.

Next up is Gore Xenon Bib short. Super silkly material. Very well made. Great leg grippers - much better than most I've seen. I tried these bad boys on and, wow, they are excellent. They definitely feel better than the Giordana. The chamois is very high end. I think I recall reading somewhere it's the same that Assos uses. The fit is perfect. These just might be the ones. $179. Yikes.

And, finally, the Castelli. Too high end. Too expensive. Fit is perfect. But, I don't think they are better than the Gore. In fact, the Gore may be slightly better. Unfortunately I can't afford both to take home and test. Maybe next year.

So, I ended up getting the Gore Xenon. I'm looking forward to this weekends ride to see how they work out. They are pretty amazing technology wise and seem to be superior to anything I've ever worn before. Better be for nearly $200 after tax.

Signing off...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Three State Century + ride

This weekend I had planned on riding a 400km brevet starting in Westfield, MA to continue the series and finish with the 600km in a few weeks. Due to a bad pedal interface on my right crankarm - the pedal wobbles about in the carbon arm and could break at some point - I decided it would be a bad idea, and somewhat irresponsible, to go on a 250 mile bike ride through the country.

Instead, I came up to Connecticut with my wife to stay at my parents house for the weekend and to do a long ride on Saturday and a shorter ride today, Sunday.

I woke up around 6am, wolfed down some breakfast, then headed out in to a gray mist with hardly any visibility. It was incredibly humid. 99%. The air was so damp it felt like it was raining. I was quickly soaked leaving my parents driveway. At least it was warm. The sun beat it's way through the mist about an hour later and it quickly went from wet, humid to hot, wet, humid. The three H's. Hazy Hot Humid. O, boy, I'm in a for a doozy today! The temperature never let up, nor did the humidity throughout the day. It was over 90F for most of my ride.

On to the ride...The ride was beautiful, and was mostly in CT but also went through NY and MA. See it here. Connecticut never lets me down. I went out with the idea of riding north to Bash Bish Falls. A brutal six mile climb with numerous 18% grades. I had no idea how far it was there but was guessing around 50 or 60 miles. Turns out I guessed correctly. I was on country roads nearly the entire time. Route 7 being the only exception. And it's still beautiful just has a tad heavier traffic - nothing to keep you away though! If you checked the link you probably noticed there was a lot of climbing. Pretty standard CT stuff. Nearly 8,000 feet total ascent! I recall three long climbs with tons of rollers throughout the entire ride - it's basically never flat. The last big hill was on route 45 near the very end of the ride, which is about 4 or 5 miles continuous climbing. 95F, completely exposed in the sun, I pedaled my way up at a pathetic 8mph trying to keep my heart rate below my LT (166) Normally I climb this hill around 11mph but the heat really did a number on me!

Today was my first training ride I started focusing on emulating everything, including nutrition, that I will do during a race. Before I had been eating bars since the rides were not terribly long and I had enough room to carry solid food. But Today, I donned the Camelbak Rogue 2L hydration pack to combat the heat, and filled one bottle with a concentrated Hammer Perpetuem + water and another bottle with just the powder for the 2nd bottle later in the day. Perpetuem kicks butt for long rides. The one bottle, exclusively, fed me for 4 hours of constant pedaling. At noon I stopped to get a 2L bottle of water and refilled the Camelbak plus the 2nd bottle of Hammer. This was the only stop I made off the bike for the entire 112 miles in 90F+ heat. I never felt tired, hungry, or thirsty. I felt very strong the entire way until route 45 and the dreaded climb in the 2pm HHH weather.

Check out the ride if you are ever in the area! It's simply amazing. Lots of high speed descents - my max speed 51mph - and beautiful views nearly the entire time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

An Interesting Commute

Today, I did my normal, daily commute to work under a sunny sky with temps in the mid 70s. Perfect. Nothing to report about the actual riding, but I did come across a very unusual sight around 110th st. on the west side pathway. A sturgeon had either jumped or been carried from the Hudson River and beached itself a foot or so away from the bike path. For those of you unfamiliar with the path, this means it went about 6 to 8 feet out of the water to get where it was resting. It was very dead. But it did not smell, so I'm assuming it had not been there for long. It was baking in the sun and was starting to boil on it's back so I'm sure the stink came very shortly after I left. The thing was huge. About five feet long, it's tail was missing so perhaps it was even closer to six, and it also had a pretty nasty bite or injury of some sort on the side of it's head. What a nasty looking, ugly creature! When I came upon it I thought it was maybe part of a giant snake, or part alligator part fish. A mutant from the glorious Hudson river! Enjoy the pic.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Padded vs Unpadded Gloves

When I first started mountain biking quite a few years ago, I remember going to a shop and asking for the thickest padded gloves they had. The mechanic asked me why I wanted pads, and instead suggested it was better to have no padding at all so you have more control of the bike. Made sense. So I got gloves with no padding, and besides a pair of Specialized BG gloves which had a pad on the palm, I never used padded gloves throughout my years of mountain biking. And the majority of the time I was riding a single speed with a rigid fork. I never had any issues with comfort even during 24 hour continuous rides.

Road riding is so much different than mountain biking in so many ways and I wonder if it's better to use padded gloves on the road? Almost all gloves available on the market today offer some sort of padding from minimal in one spot to gel or silicone all over the place from the fingers to the palm. So I decided to test it myself to see which worked better for me. Currently, I have three pairs of gloves. Pearl Izumi pittard leather gloves, which have foam padding all over the palm. The other two pairs are made by Castelli. One pair is the Rosso Corsa and the other is their logo glove. The rosso corsa is the top of the line, 50 dollars!, glove with silicone padding strategically placed (all over) with mesh between the pads and mostly mesh on top. The logo glove is a synthetic microfiber palm with no padding on the palm and a lycra top. Both are slip-on and have loops to aid in removing the glove. Something all gloves should have, but don't.

The last three long rides I've done I've used each pair on one ride and noted a few times, mentally, throughout the ride what I liked and disliked about them. It should be noted I'm using Specialized S-wrap tape - a cork tape with an elastomer integrated throughout to supposedly dampen vibrations. It's slightly thicker than Cinelli or Deda tape and feels great.

Pearl Izumi: Crunchy when cold. As the glove ages - it lasts a long time, longer than most - the leather gets stiff. It loosens up after I start riding each time, but if it's really cold it takes a lot longer to do so. The padding feels cumbersome and is overdone, in my opinion. It feels bulky. I never have discomfort issues with them on. I do not like the velcro closure. I'd rather have a slip-on model. The velcro closure creates the cyclist dot syndrome - white hands with a dark spot near the thumb. When it's warm the leather gets damp and never dries until you take them off. By the end of the day they appear notably darker and even soggy. I do not like this. The microfiber wipe does not work as well as a terry cloth wipe. Both Castelli's are far better gloves, in my opinion.

Castelli Rosso Corsa - The padding feels great and it seems like it aids with protection of the hands. For short riding or racing this glove is probably not ideal because you lose some handling due to the thick silicone pads which move around a bit if you are really cranking hard or sprinting. The grip, however, is very inspiring and tacky. Just not precise. The mesh breathes very well on the palm. No wet palms like the PI pittards. The mesh tops also are very comfortable. The terry cloth wipe absorbs well and is excellent for it's purpose. I think these are great gloves and the best I've used to date.

Castelli logo glove - The lack of padding seems to not cause any issues, but I think with a non-padded tape on the bar it might be an issue, for me at least. These gloves are very adequate for long distance rides on the s-works tape. They are not as comfortable feeling as the Rosso Corsa, but I'm not talking about the lack of padding here. The microfiber palm is warmer feeling, and the lycra top does not breathe as well as the mesh top on the Rosso Corsa. The logo glove also has the terry wipe so all is good in this area. The grip feels more in control than the Rosso Corsa. If these were 'cooler' feeling I would probably make them the go to glove for long rides, but, alas, they are not so the Rosso Corsa is first place for me. I will use them for commuting.

I'm surprised the non-padded glove was just as comfortable, but I attribute this to the S-works tape. Perhaps it is redundant to use padded gloves with such highly cushioned tape. I shall keep my eyes open for other non-padded gloves that offer a more breathable top, and hopefully, eventually, switch to the combo of a nicely padded bar with a non-padded glove. Overall handling is improved with no loss in comfort, and, even better, they are generally cheaper!

Test Rides

Yesterday I went for a short 40mi, redline the heart rate the entire time ride, and at the turnaround point decided to take a detour and visit Piermont bike shop in Piermont, NY. I knew they sold Cervelos among other brands like Cannondale. The Cervelo RS was recommended to me as my 'ideal' fitting bike by Mike Sherry, the guy who did my bike fit about a month ago. I never really looked in to it because I knew the frameset alone retailed for $2200 and there were probably no deals to be had through the internet.

Naturally, Piermont had the Cervelo RS built up already in the size I needed. A measely $4k for the entire bike, Dura-Ace, et al. They kindly offered to let me take it for a test ride so on go my Speedplay pedals and out the door I went. The first few pedal strokes I thought the bike was trying to jump forward. It's like it was accelerating with more than what I was inputting through the pedals. Impressive. It also has a snazzy paint job. The ride was slightly better than my current bike, but no reason to upgrade just for that. The fit, however, felt much better, and this was with a too long stem. Mr Sherry was clearly spot on with his recommendation. I need to set up a paypal donation on my blog. C'mon people let the $'s pour forth!

I also test rode a Cannondale Synapse. It was very black in color. It had a much cheaper build hanging on it, Shimano 105, and the price tag was $1900. It also fit me better than my current ride, and felt smoother, too. It did not have the snappy acceleration of the Cervelo, but I'm unsure whether that impression is due to the less stiff crankset or the frame itself. If it's not raining later I will go test ride a Synapse with a Dura-Ace build to see if it feels more like the Cervelo. This bike I could realistically swing financially without your kind Paypal donations:)

And back to reality...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughts on 23c vs 25c and the PR3 and GP4000

Wow, does anything in that title make sense to non-bike nerds? Yesterday I lamented over the loss of a close friend, the 23c Michelin ProRace 3 rear tire, due to a mishap with a shard of glass from a Corona beer bottle. Today, I rode again, after a short break, on the old Continental GP4000 25c tires. I've decided they have some life left in them, yet. The difference in the ride quality impressed me enough I felt I should report here and share it with the world.

Upon installation of the skinny looking Michelin's, I noted they went on easier than the gp4000 tires. The PR3 also look very skinny compared to the former 25c GP4000. Noticeably less volume, in other words, not as tall off the rim. The reduction in volume requires a higher PSI to avoid pinch flats, and, thus, results in a stiffer ride. The PR3 is also faster, but probably not because of the higher PSI. That's just because of the tire itself. It's smaller, lighter, and has faster rubber (assumption).

When I started my ride this morning I noted I liked the solid black color of the gp4000 over the grey stripe down the middle the PR3 have. The stripe on the PR3 was not perfectly straight either so at one point it would wobble some. This, I find, to be very disconcerting because I always think my wheel is out of true. It's not though.

I can't say the bike felt slower or heavier with the gp4000.

The commute this morning was beautiful with sunny skies and no wind. I was flying down the path at an average speed of around 26 to 28mph most the way. At some points the path is pretty choppy, and I noted the gp4000 felt much more solid and in contact with the pavement. Basically, they were confidence inspiring. I did not notice the degradation so much in handling when I went to the PR3 last week, but it's pretty noticeable switching back.

I'm curious how the 23c gp4000 ride quality will be which should arrive next week some time. I think they have a tiny bit more volume than the PR3, and are also slightly more durable. We shall see...

For now, though, I think I like the ride quality of 25c vs the 23c.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Short but Sweet

Today, while commuting to work this morning in a very nice, warm temperature, but rain, I was riding through the remnants of a wild party in the park and ran through a big patch of broken Corona bottles and slashed my nearly new rear Michelin Pro3 Race tire. The glass completely punctured the middle of the tire and hit the tube too. Psssss. Yay, I get to change a tire covered in grey NYC goo, and even better, in the rain. A closer inspection after removing the tube showed the glass really did a number on the tire. It's trashed. My hope was I could limp the rest of the way to work without getting another flat. I was happy the tire was fairly easy to mount and the rain was slow and it was warm. Off I go to finish my commute to work just waiting for the next HISSS. None though. I made it to work OK. During lunch I went and bought another tube, and considered getting a tire, but just can't stomach the $60 per tire retail they charge when I know I can get it from pro bike kit for $33. I'm pretty disappointed some pricks that littered, probably thinking it was amusing in their simple minds to smash glass beer bottles on the sidewalk, ruined the tire I just mounted last week!!! Luckily I made it home with no problems after work. Back go the the 25c gp4000 continental tires. Out goes more $ from the bank account for another tire and some tubes. I hate people who litter! It's so sad to ride through the park Monday mornings and see the wake of trash and destruction a certain group of people wreak on the park on a nearly weekly basis. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Today, when getting the tube, I also decided to get some new bar tape. I like the Fi'zik microtex a lot but was less than pleased with the gel beneath it, feeling it basically did nothing. So, I bought some S-works Specialized tape which is nice and soft and has some sort of elastomer in it to dampen vibrations. It feels great on the bars and I think it'll be a big improvement over my old setup. It's also black so my bike is becoming more stealth!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Weekly Long Ride

This week's long ride goal was 215 miles. I ended up riding 213 miles total, which is close enough, in my opinion! The original plan was to get things ready after work on Friday then try to get a few hours sleep before heading out around 2:30am. I was pretty anxious to hit the road so after lying in bed for about an hour I convinced myself it didn't matter if I left at 9:30pm or 2:30am. I would just arrive at my parents house earlier which would make them super happy.

So out of bed I get, don the cycling clothes, and head out the door and in to the noisy Friday night of Manhattan. I quickly left Manhattan and entered the Bronx. New territory almost immediately. I knew I had a quick turn to make on to Riverdale Ave for my ticket out of the city, but I didn't really know exactly where it was. I just took the first random street and luckily it turned in to Riverdale Ave. Northward!

This was the first night I would really get to test my Dinotte 200L with the 4 cell battery. Specs say 200 lumens and 8 hours with the 4 cell battery on high. I put it on the helmet this time due to the Shimano cables sticking out and blocking the light when mounted on the bar. I could hardly feel the weight atop my head. I've used a few different lights over the years and I have to say the Dinotte comes with the best accessories and smartest mounting features I've seen. They are very simple and just work. No slippage, very light, and durable. Light years ahead of the Niterider MiNewt in all regards which the Dinotte replaced, and while not as bright as the Light and Motion HID, significantly lighter and sufficient output with slightly better mounting and much longer battery life. And most importantly, I think the Dinotte is bright enough for most night riding conditions on the road. It fills an entire street lane and throws out the beam quite far. The battery lasted as long as I needed it to, which was around 6 hours.

The first few hours of the ride were uneventful. I pedaled my way out of the metro area, and entered much more pleasant forested, country roads. I saw racoons all over the place, a few deer, and some other furry monsters, possibly beavers or woodchucks. I love the random noises emanating through the woods at night when the winds are calm and that wet, humid sticky spring air blankets everything. The sky was lit up by a nearly full moon. Night riding. Go do it if you haven't yet. It rivals the sun-filled days.

4.30am. Thump! PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Doh. I hit a pretty large hole in the road and pinch flatted the rear tube. A car passed me shortly after and slowed down to a crawl eyeing me suspiciously. I had stopped right outside a driveway in a rather wealthy area and I guess I was suspect. The man rolled by and turned in to the next driveway just past where I was working on the tire. A few minutes later he walks out in the street and looks a bit drunk and asks in a very heavy accent whether I can patch my tire or not. I said yes and he stumbles back in to the darkness. Okay, then. Next. In goes the Forte Lunar Light (52 grams) tube. I pump it up with a quickness with my C02, bracing for the inevitable BANG, but, again, to my surprise, nothing so terrible. I guess these ultra light tubes are A OK. Off I go.

Shortly after the flat tire event, the sky started to brighten. That means the temperature starts to drop. Let the shivering begin. I froze for the next hour or two. The bike was wobbling all over the place on the faster descents. I'm not a big fan of dawn in the Spring:) C'mon 8am!

I was still able to enjoy the scenery. I was fortunate enough to be crossing a dam on a pedestrian only bridge just before the sun crept over the hills. Beautiful! I took a pic with my very below standard 1.3mp camera on the Blackberry Pearl.

The rest of the ride was rather uneventful. It got warmer. That made me happy.

I finished around 10am at my parents, and staggered in, to their surprise, and was craving some milk so the b-line was made straight to the Frig.

A summary of the ride would be extremely hilly. I'd love to share it with you but it would take forever to input the roads in to map my ride. It's definitely one of the hilliest rides I've done to date. It included 60 miles of major climbing about 50 miles in to the ride that was nearly continuous. I knew about this piece as it's the main route I take to get to my parents. I don't have an altimeter but gauging from past races I estimate a total elevation gain of 20 to 25,000 feet overall over the 213 miles. Brutal!

The lack of sleep coupled with riding all night made my stomach not so happy. Nothing terrible, I just had no appetite - maybe it was the intake of too much fiber from the bars (i ate two that I normally don't eat when riding and they have lots of fiber and quite a bit of fat from nuts.) I ate a big bowl of granola - definitely not ideal but all I could think to eat - then went and passed out for a few hours. I woke up around noon feeling pretty groggy, but forced myself up to go eat some more food. I still didn't feel so hungry. I lounged around all day feeling tired and basically did nothing. I did start drinking very strong beers in the late afternoon though:) Dinner came, and I ate a bunch of food, finally getting a slight appetite, but still not what I usually have after such a long ride. O well, I give up. To bed I go!

The next day I woke up and after 4 trips to the bathroom I finally had a raging appetite - more than most of you wanted to know I'm sure. So, perhaps the fiber suspicion was correct! Two hours later I was hungry again. and so on for the rest of the day...

I went for a 24 mile recovery ride, if that is possible in the CT hills, on Sunday. The weather was just too nice to not go out on the bike. Not a cloud to be seen and temperatures in the high 70s. Calm. I felt great and enjoyed the views and for the most part did not ride very hard. The legs felt solid still with no soreness.

Then I heard a metallic clinking sound in the right pedal/cleat area. I discovered a lot of play on my pedal but could not tell exactly where it was. Great, just as I thought everything was perfect on the bike. Love the new Pro 3 race tires, by the way! A touch nicer than the GP4000 I had before. I inspected the pedal when I got home and it wobbled quite a bit on the crank arm. I thought at first it was not tightened all the way. So I grabbed the wrench and, nope, it's tight. Look closer and see that the actual interface the pedal screws in to is wobbling wildly within the carbon crank arm. FSA K-Force is the crankset I have. High end, really expensive, neat looking, all around uber fancy cranks. They are only a few months old. I ran to the internet and a quick search turns up this happening to A LOT of people. And, worse, the crank is trashed. So, tomorrow I have to deal with that. I decide even if they replace the crankset I do not want these anymore due to this poor manufacturing, or design (whichever) so I ordered a Dura-Ace Crankset from Pro Bike Kit in the UK. A whopping two hundred dollars less than most US online sites. Crazy. The FSA cranks are very disappointing.

So that's all for todays ramblings...

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Tires and Chain

Last night after my commute home, I finally worked up the courage to mount the new tires I received a few weeks ago. I usually dread putting road tires on the dt swiss rims because they can be extremely difficult. Last time, I had sore hands for 2 to 3 days afterwards. I procrastinated as long as possible before putting these on in anticipation of a frustrating one to two hour battle. The old rear tire was very near the end of it's life (I just put the darn thing on last month!) and I did not want to risk getting flats on the long ride tomorrow. So, out go the Continental GP4000 25c tires, which served me well and kept me from getting any flats throughout their entire life of service on my bike. Out go the generic tubes as well. Why dump perfectly fine tubes?? O, you shall find out soon enough!

The new tires I bought are 23c. They are also a different brand. I could not resist the hype around the Michelin ProRacer3(PR3). They are slightly lighter than my previous Continentals, and obviously a touch more narrow. At least, the specs say they are more narrow and lighter. The PR3 are supposed to be one of the fastest rolling clincher tires on the market, lightest with puncture protection, and reasonable lifespan. I'm sold. They were only a few dollars more than the Conti's.

Also, I decided to weightweenie my bike even more by switching to ultralight tubes. I've had the tubes for a few weeks now, sitting in their box, in my bicycle tool cage between the two bikes mounted on the wall. I glanced at them on numerous occasions and slight tremors of fear and trepidation would pass through my mind thinking about the likelihood of FLATS. I was scared they would blow up when first inflating, or at best, flat within minutes of the first ride. 55 grams they weigh. Vittoria EVO presta tubes. Thats less than half what my generic tubes weigh! They feel incredibly light in my hand. I also dumped the generic tube in my bag on the bike and replaced it with a 52 gram Lunar Light tube from Performance bike. The tube is nearly half the size of the generic so now I have a much more reasonable fit in the bag. No more stuffing things in and having them pop out when I unzip the bag to grab the chapstick! I dropped a half pound off my bike by just changing out the tubes! Add the tires in and we are talking 3/4 a pound!

Back to the mounting. I took a deep breath and started mounting the first bead. To my surprise, the first bead was very easy to get on. It's not loose, or anything, but I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I did with the previous GP4000. Is this a sign of things to come?? I put the tube in, and started putting the other bead on. Shockingly, I didn't have to fight at all! It went on in less than a minute and I didn't have to use a tire lever on the last bit. YES! Finally, a tire I don't have to be scared about if I get a flat out in the middle of nowhere.

Now, time to inflate the tube. Will it explode, or perhaps I pinch flatted it while mounting the tire? A few easy pumps. No gunshot yet. A few more. The tire is staying on. Ok, go for it. I pump the front tire up to 100psi, bracing for the inevitable ear-shattering BANG, but none to report. Maybe I'm in the clear! Still have to make it through the night...

So, I tackle the rear tire and it goes on just as easy as the front. Same with inflation.

I wipe the sweat that never came, and put the new Dura-Ace chain on. I just put the old one on last month! I need a chain and tire sponsor!!!!!!!!!

This morning the tires were not in shreds on the floor, and I didn't wake up to any loud explosion. I guess I'm safe, but still have to ride the bike for the final test.

I start to ride this morning to work, and, as usual with new tires, stuff was sticking to them like crazy. Nothing better than having NYC grime splattering on your frame and legs. I thought, at least the tires didn't explode yet. I made it all the way to work with no flat! I guess I'm in the clear. I'm still convinced I'll get some flats on my long ride tomorrow. Probably during the night when I'm in the middle of the Bronx.

The new tires feel noticeably faster than the GP4000. They are also significantly smaller. I could definitely feel the difference in the ride when I hit bumps. The front is slightly more jarring, but nothing terrible. But, the ride on the smooth pavement feels smoother and better. I guess the reviews I read are pretty accurate! Lighter, faster, smoother rolling, and about as close as you can get to a tubular tire. Not bad at all.

Fri, May 23, 2008 - 10.40 mi [Cycling]

Fri, May 23, 2008 - 10.40 mi [Cycling]
10.40 mi in 00:31:27 hours at 19.84 mi/h on Titus Modena. [Cycling]
Posted from My Cycling Log
The morning commute. Finally, a beautiful sunny day. It was pretty windy still with a semi-cross/tail wind enabling me to rip along at high speeds on occasion. For two stretches I was cruising comfortably around 28mph. But some of the times the winds switched directions nearly blowing me off the path! I'm itching to make it through this day, and to hit the road for my 215 mile ride starting around 2.30 to 3am Saturday morning! I'm already drooling over the BBQ that will be awaiting my arrival at my parents house in Connecticut.

Fri, May 23, 2008 - 20.80 mi [Cycling]

Fri, May 23, 2008 - 20.80 mi [Cycling]
20.80 mi in 01:10:00 hours at 17.83 mi/h on Titus Modena. [Cycling]
Posted from My Cycling Log

The daily commute from yesterday. Rained the entire way in the morning so work loved me when I showed up covered in a murky, grey matter courtesy of the beautiful NYC bike path + streets. The yellow rain coat/shower curtain kept me dry and I've discovered it also washes off beautifully in the sink. The ride home was slightly better with no rain, but a superior head wind with even stronger gusts occurring quite often. At least I was dry and not cold! I think I avg'd 16mph going home!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Training for Long Races & Rides

How do I go about training for the long races and rides I do?

One of the recent things I did was determine my Anaerobic threshold. This has proven to be highly effective for monitoring how hard I should ride in a given circumstance. I recommend anyone training to determine their AT and use it!

I learned a lot about training, and improving for longer rides from UMCA's website. I have the site linked in the links section. I've also learned through practice, what works for me and what doesn't, and also from talking to others that have participated in such events. Brevets are a great place to start if you are interested in riding long distances. It's not a race, and the people are usually very nice. I use brevets as a motivation for the distance, but don't really ride it how a lot of people participating in brevets do. I ride at a race pace the entire time and don't stop besides getting my card stamped. I don't have egg sandwiches for breakfast breaks! I stick with my Super green bars and hammer gel. If I ever get some influx of cash I'll use hammer perpetuem but until then it's gel and bars!:)

My training consists of a few different types of riding. The week usually consists of three to four days of training rides with one of those rides being a weekly long ride. Almost every day I commute to work via bike, but I usually take it easy on a few of them and treat them as active recovery rides the day after a training day. I try to train on Tuesday and Thursday or Monday and Wednesday. I always have a day of rest before and after the long weekly ride. One of the days involves hill climbing repeats which basically means I ride at slightly above race pace to where the hill is (roughly 40 minutes away) then I hammer up and down a climb that is about 1 mile long and pretty steep. I do this ten to fifteen times. The other type of riding is usually in a flatter environment like Central Park. Central park has a 6 mile loop which is nice and smooth with a few small hills. I ride there, which takes about 15 minutes, then ride at a hard pace, harder than I'd ever ride during a race or long ride, and do this for about an hour and a half. This type of riding will get longer as the season progresses all the way up to doing an entire century at this pace. Maybe some day a double century at this pace...but that is far off still! Another type of riding I'll do in Central Park is intervals. Various lengths riding as hard as i possibly can with equal or greater recovery time in between depending on the time I spend going all out.

How do I do the long weekly rides?

These are the most important for me. I used a recommendation from UMCA to figure out the miles I should ride and when. Estimate how many miles you want to ride in your race (mine is 450 miles in the 24 hour UMCA championship this July) and note on the calendar two weeks before this event. This is the last long weekly training ride before the event. Take 10% off of 450 miles and that's how long that last training ride should be. 405 miles! Now, go back another 7 days and take 10% off 405 miles. Do this every 7 days until you are to the present week. This weekend goal for me is a little over 200 miles. I did 190 this past Saturday. Luckily the Brevet series I'm in conveniently fell right in line with the training miles I needed to stay on track.

So, that, in a nutshell is what I'm currently doing to get faster and ride longer!