Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Official Training Ride 03/27/09

Friday called for temperatures in the mid 60s and sunny skies so it was time to call in sick to work and go for a nice bike ride! Before heading out, I stopped by Signature Cycles to have them confirm my build, or give the "OK" that everything was properly situated. The saddle was dropped 1cm, and the bars were moved to the precise angle with a nifty digital tool that...measures angles or something like that! After that, I was out the door and on the road heading north to the George Washington bridge.

The route choice today was none other the famous Bear Mountain nearly a century ride. I suppose it's a century for most Manhattan people, but I live right by the bridge so it's usually a 90 mile ride for me. Today, however, I started from 63rd and West End Ave so I got the century plus a few miles in. The weatherman seemed pretty accurate today, and all I had to contend with was a light wind from the Northwest for half my ride.

I'm a bit more focused this year on training at particular levels, and have slightly altered how I do the longer rides. I've a significantly better base to work with going in to this year, and I can certainly feel the difference in my legs. Thus, I can sustain a higher workload for a longer period of time without torching my knees or cramping up. Yesterday, I was able to ride at level which I would call 'reasonably uncomfortable' for the entire 4 hour ride. yeah, I rode a bit longer than that but 15 or so of the miles were in the city and I just warmed up then. I've set alarms on my computer to go off if I drop below a certain heart rate. This is very helpful! It's very easy to drift off over the miles and forget about training and just day dream!

I've a fancy, new cycling computer which allows post ride analysis, and through some devious online sites I was able to get it to work on my iMac. I now have parallels and windows 7 beta ultimate running on the computer specifically for my Sigma Rox 9.0 cyclocomputer! Unfortunately, I didn't bother reading the instruction manual so I did not log, or save the ride data, for about 40 miles of the 90 mile ride I did. Oops.

Here's some of the data I gleaned from the Rox:

Total Values

Distance: 52.27 mi
Ride Time: 02:24:33 h
Rest Time: 00:00:49 h
Ascent: 2962 ft

Average Values
Speed: 21.83mph
Heart Rate: 148 bpm
Temperature: 63.3F

Min/Max Values

Speed: 3.98mph/42.29mph
Heart Rate: 98 bpm/169bpm
Temperature: 57F/72F
Inclination: -11%/13%

Monday, March 23, 2009

Completed Independent Fabrication pics

I finally have a geared bike again. The two month wait for the IF was worth it! The bike handles beautifully, and most importantly, fits me perfectly. I was able to build the bike and set it up simply by going with the measurements from the fitting, and to my surprise, it fit exactly right with no adjustments necessary.

For a steel frame and fork, granted, a very high end steel alloy, the bike is light at ~16lb's complete with pedals and bottle cages. It should be noted it's not a typically seen stock build and has a few weight weenie parts snuck in here and there! The brakes, for example, are about 40 grams lighter per caliper than a Dura-Ace brake, but have the stopping power of the Dura-Ace. The crankset is Campy's Shimano and SRAM friendly Record UT re-badged with the name Fulcrum Racing RS. They are the exact same thing! These weigh over 100 grams less than the SRAM Force crankset. The handlebars are also very light at 189 grams, and they seem to be extremely stiff and fit nicely. By the way, all these weights are actual - I bought a digital weight weenie scale awhile back to play with!

The bike descends confidently, feels very stiff in the bottom bracket area, is like a magic carpet ride, and it looks very well built! The welds are flawless, and I really dig the sterling silver head badge! All in all, a highly recommended custom frameset, if you are in the market.

Build specs:

Cane Creek 110 headset
Custom Wheelset: Niobium 27mm rims, Dt swiss supercomp spokes 20F/24R, alloy nipples besides drive side brass, Dt swiss 240s hubs, velocity velo plugs in place of rim strips.
Continental 4000s 23c tires with Conti. Race light tubes
Fulcrum Racing RS 175mm crankset
Speedplay X1 pedals
Arundel dave-o bottle cages
Thomson Masterpiece 250mm 27.2 seatpost
Fizik Aliante carbon saddle
Ibis 3d Forged stem w/ custom Ti bolts
Sigma Rox 9.0 computer
TRP R960 brakeset
Deda cork tape
Ritchey Evolution SL handle bar 42cm
Sram Force derailleurs and shifters
Sram 1090 chain
Sram 1070 cassette 11-26


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giordana Silverline Lobster Glove Review

The Giordana Silverline Lobster glove was my first adventure in to the realm of lobster claw style gloves. They cost me $40 at the LBS. They've a nice, soft fleece lining on the inside. The thumb and index finger go solo inside the glove while the rest of the fingers camp out along side one another although they are divided by the fleece liner. The outer portion of the glove on the top has a windproof membrane, a terry cloth, fleece like wipe on the thumb, and a neoprene insulation on the inside with some textured plastic for, I'm going to assume, a better grip.

I've had these for a few months now, and used them pretty regularly on commutes where the temperatures dip below 40F. The lowest temperature was probably around 0F to a bit in to the negatives. I tend to be a weenie in the cold, so take my comfort range for what it's worth. Before I address that, though, I have to say I almost always use a glove liner underneath my winter glove to extend the temperature range, and it also seems to significantly reduce the amount of perspiration inside the glove even when my hands are toasty warm. The glove liner I use is made by Icebreaker and is 98% merino wool and 2% elastane. They have lots of little tacky dots on the inside allowing for excellent dexterity. A very nice thing to have on when you get a flat tire in the freezing temperatures!!!

So, thus far, I've been comfortable with this combo for a few hours slightly below freezing. 25F. Below that, my index finger and thumb start getting very cold while the rest of the fingers are generally pretty comfortable. Above 40F and I start getting too warm.

The windproof membrane works well. I can certainly tell it's eliminating all that nasty cold from the top of my hand. The neoprene also seems to insulate nicely. The nose wipe is wide and useful. The thumb seems to not have the windproof membrane under the wipe. I usually don't notice it, but when it's very cold and windy I can feel the chill penetrating in to my lonely thumb! The grips, if you can call them that, are a joke. The grid pattern is way too hard, and is more like plastic. I really don't know why they didn't use something softer and more rubber-like. By completely removing the grid, the glove would not lose anything. That's how bad it is. I've troubles removing my water bottle.

Besides the two minor issues I have with the gloves, I think they are pretty solid. I do think there may be some better options. Craft makes a similar glove, but differs in that the index lives with the middle finger so only the thumb flies solo. I think that makes more sense. The craft gloves also have a much tackier grip. PI also has the lobster claw, but it looks way too heavy for high intensity cycling in all but the coldest temperatures. Of course, there are others, too...

So, my advice is to steer clear of these gloves. I think the lobster claw is excellent, though, and if I cycled more often in freezing weather I'd probably invest in a better pair. Things to look for if you are in the market: windproof top, snot wipe, make sure all fingers share space with another finger besides the thumb, make sure the grip is tacky, and finally, try liner gloves!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

More bike porn

Litespeed Bella followed by Cannondale 1fg 29er followed by Redline 925, see pics!

The bella is a, uh, beautiful frame like most other titanium frames are when built by a skilled company. The parts are good, not great, but will suit the wife perfectly fine for her leisurely style of cruising. I itch to strip the thing down and toss SRAM Rival or Force on it, but she has banned me from touching her bike! I did manage to convince her to change the saddle and seatpost to a Fizik Vitesse and Thomson Elite, respectively. I also sneaked a pair of carbon water bottle cages on when she wasn't looking:)

I bought the Cannondale 29er on clearance last week quite impulsively although the idea of buying a 29er had been thoroughly researched beforehand. I was originally going to get a Niner One 9 and build it up over the next few months, but the price was right on the Cannondale, and the lefty fork is very nice, so what the heck, I got a complete bike. I'm going to strip the bike down to the frame and fork, and rebuild it with parts of my choosing, though. Right now it's a tank, and not really ideal for being competitive against other SS'ers and, even worse, geared riders (which is my primary target this year:)) I'll be racing the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah Mtn 100, and perhaps a few more in the NUE series, and I hope to be highly competitive.

The Redline was cleaned right before the pics. It was filthy beforehand. It's been a dirty beast this entire winter, and Sunday was it's first bath. Unfortunately, it'll get dirty again tomorrow and probably look even worse than before I cleaned it due to the snow and salt covered roads. It's had a day of reprieve from the roads, but it's time to live up to it's name, and haul my butt to work on the morrow. The Redline 925 is a great bike albeit stiff riding compared to higher end frames and forks. I recently upgraded the cranks to Dura-Ace 7800, and must admit I felt a significant increase in stiffness over the previous setup - RPM something or other no name cranks. I also dropped, literally, a pound of weight. Yes, I have a digital scale to obsess over the weights of all my bike parts, and to assess whether or not they are worthy of being mounted on such and such bike.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wife's new ride


Yesterday brought the arrival of the very slightly used Litespeed Bella for my wife. It's a woman's specific titanium frame with a full carbon fork, Shimano 105, and fsa rd80 wheels. She had no intentions of ever getting such a nice bike, but the price was right, and I think my nearly constant ramblings about fancy bike parts is starting to rub off on her. The bike looks as if it's never been ridden, and besides the saddle and seat post collar (which suck, imo) everything is honky dory. Before you start making fun of them, the pedals were just to check the size indoors yesterday! Needless to say, she's extremely happy with her new bike, and I hope it brings her out on some of my longer rides in the years to come!

Too bad it's supposed to snow about 47 inches today and tomorrow. That reminds me I need to stop typing and go ride!

O, wait, what's that silver bike behind the bella??? An accident. Oops.