Crossfire Hurricane Hillclimb TT. Masters 45+ 3/4 – 2017

I was in two minds about actually riding this event. Since my stroke my times up Patterson have been well over 10 minutes slower than they were in the good old days.  I reckon I am at about 70% fitness but seem worse when things get really steep. In the past I used to think of improving my time but now all I think is, “can I actually get up the steep bits?”.  I can’t get over how hard the climb feels now, especially with a headwind and heat. Back in 2014 I did 31m06s for the TT which was good enough for second place but now It would be a real struggle to beat the last place time of 48 minutes.  Back then I was riding the climb regularly with the Cycletrons and always in the top few riders over the top of Patterson. My goal for the day was much more humble and to not come last (very tall order). If I could get within 130% of my last time I would be pleased so my stretch goal was beating 40 Minutes. Of course a strong variable on this climb is the headwind and I have encountered some monsters on here.

When I rode the event in 2014 I did 20m36s for the Patterson TT segment with an average wattage of 329W and an average heart rate of 175 bpm.  When I did a practice attempt, on the Wednesday before the event, my time for the same segment was 31m25s with an average wattage of 241W and a heart rate of 161bpm. Back then my max heart rate was approx. 185bpm and now it is about 175bpm. I have to admit the wind was pretty unfavorable on my practice attempt but I cant remember what it was like for the race.  It is normally a nasty headwind up the climb in July.

Back in 2014 I put some clip on aero bars on my Tarmac and I am sure these helped a lot on the bottom couple of miles of the climb. I decided to risk my bad balance issues and try to fit them for this event but unfortunately was unable to find them.  My race tactic was to try to have something in reserve for the three steep sections and not go too mad on the Midway Climb (My midway times are also down about 30%.). I knew if I hit the steep bits already close to max that I would suffer really badly and lose more time.

My chosen steed for the race was my Storck with a 34×28 bottom gear and I decided to not go with the Kask helmet as heat on this climb can be vicious. I don’t own a skinsuit anymore but our team jerseys are pretty aero. I had had a stomach bug all week before the event so I didn’t feel brilliant but not too bad. When I was warming up I saw lots of skinsuits, deep dish wheels, aero bars and aero helmets.

The race itself went pretty much to plan. I think I did a pretty good job of pacing myself on the bit up to the main climb and never really went too deep.  I think the wind was kinder than it has been for the past few weeks but it was pretty warm. I got caught by two riders and they went past me as if I was stood still.  Despite pacing myself well, I still completely blew up in the last 200 yards and it was horrible. My time up Midway was 2m31s (285W) compared to 2m01s (388W) back in 2014. My time up Patterson was25m35s (243W)  compared to 20m36 (329W) in 2014.

My goal was to beat 40 minutes and not come last and I achieved both those. My time was 6m50s off my last time on this race which is around 15% down but better than I hoped. The winners time was excellent and even back to my 2014 fitness I would not have been close to that.

  • Time : 00:37:56 Position 12th out of 14 finishers.
  • Winner : 00:27:03 Scott Lemke (Eden Bicycles Racing Club)

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Tight Clinchers

My wife has some Campag Neutron wheels on her Colnago and they can be an absolute nightmare to fit tires on.  I broke two tire levers trying to get some Michelin Pro Race 3 tires on and completely failed with some Kenda Countach tires.  In the end I tried with some Continental GP4000S and it was a real struggle but they went on.  I was hoping that after a few hundred miles they would become easier to fit.

Unfortunately this week my wife flatted and was completely unable to remove the tire.  In the end some big burly bloke managed to get the tire off but it took two of them to get it back on and in the progress they nipped the tube. I googled the issue and it is pretty common for these rims and looked for a tire that people found worked.  I found the  Schwalbe Ultremo ZX got favorable comments.  Unfortunately the Schwalbe Ultremos are not made anymore and the only ones I can find cheap online are in ghastly colors or 650c.  I ordered some for a little more than I wanted to pay but at least they were in Black.

Fortunately I had an Ultremo ZX left over from my recumbent days in the garage  so I tried it out. I suppose I should have done this before ordering.  It really was pretty easy to fit (at least no more difficult than other rims) but it is Orange which doesn’t go with the bike at all. I hope these ordered Ultremo’s work as well.

 

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Good Samaritan

On Sunday I had the misfortune of a flat some 25 miles from home on the Wabi Single speed.  I ran over something that made the tire go bang in a big way.  I checked the tire and didn’t see any glass so I put in the spare tube and pumped it up only to see the tube come out of a big hole and explode.

I noticed a huge hole in the tire so it was toast.  I had a tire boot with me but used both my C02 and my only spare tube. I tried for 40 minutes to ring my wife for a ride home but unfortunately her phone was off.  Eventually a nice cyclist in a pickup truck stopped and offered to run me home.  Bearing in mind this was at least a 40 mile round trip this was a very generous offer. He wouldn’t accept any gas money either.  Good people like him restore my faith in humanity.

Wear wise this tire was doing pretty good with 1332 miles on it before the catastrophic damage. Unfortunately Vittoria don’t do the Corsa CX anymore like this. I loved this tire because it looked just like a tubular and had a sublime ride.  In my humble opinion this is the best looking clincher tire created.  I ordered up the newer version of the tire which in my mind does not look half as good and has a wacky tread . It was but pretty expensive at around $70 list but I managed to get $10 off that price.  Just five minutes after ordering saw the same tires on ProBikeKit for way cheaper ($79 for a pair). DOH ! Incidentally this is the second CX rear tire that I have had fail in the same way.  They may be gorgeous but they are a bit fragile.

split

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Power Pod 2

I must say that I have no complaints with Velocomp’s customer service and I would go as far as to say I am really impressed.  They bent over backwards trying to help me with my problems and despite me losing my receipt they sent me a brand new unit.  The good news is that the new unit seems to work good.  The numbers I see when riding stack up well with my power tap and stages meters and I get a warm fuzzy feeling for the data.

When I first added it I had a really hard time getting my Garmin to recognize it and I think I might rerun the calibration run as it started before I was actually ready.  I did my time trial course today and the power numbers looked really good compared to my Powertap. I still cant figure out how it works but it does.

I am still not very impressed by the calibration routine and it is quite complicated and not easy to figure out just where in the process you are.  My plan was to ride out to a local quiet road to do the calibration  but on this calibration it started as I was riding out of the drive.  In the past I have forced a recalibration by updating the parameters in the software but I have been unable to figure out how to do a recalibration with this new unit. Despite this less than ideal calibration the numbers look pretty good.

I never really expected to get great absolute numbers out of this solution but I was hoping for a good comparative tool.  If for example I did a practice effort on my local TT course on different days I would like to be able to compare the numbers.  With the new Powerpod it looks like I can do this.  As a bonus the numbers actually look pretty close to my other power solutions.  The two runs below were done 3 months apart but the weather was very similar.

Example :

Tesla – Mines TT:

  • Specialized Allez Roadbike (no aero) – 18m56s – 164BPM – 245W (Powertap)
  • Wabi Fixed Gear Roadbike (no aero) – 18m32s – 158BPM – 244W (Powerpod)

If I could get them to redesign it I would make a couple of changes.

  1. Have a dedicated power button with a beep confirmation. Have the current button just to start a calibration.
  2. Have the LED illuminated whenever the power is on.

I have only done about 30 miles with the new Powerpod but so far things are looking good.

 

 

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RKO#14 – Tempus Fugit Individual TT (Summer August 20th) – Thoughts

It is two months till the Cull Canyon TT and I want to do as well as possible in it.  I am planning to ride the Merckx Category on my Wabi Single Speed Fixed bike.  Even when I was fit I couldn’t challenge for the top spot in this category with the fixed gear bike.  The climbing nature of the course is not ideal for fixed.  It is a real drag on the way out and it is very easy to spin out on the way back.  I love the challenge of riding fixed no matter what the disadvantages are.  If it was a stonking tail wind out it would really help the fixed but it never is. My best time on fixed on the way out is 16m32s (20.5MPH) which is within 1 minute of my best time on the TT bike.  It is an uphill slog to the turn and my average pedal revs are around 80RPM.  The return is mostly down hill with a few tight corners and my best is 12m02s (27.0MPH) which is around 1 minute slower than the TT bike again.  This represents 108RPM which is pretty fast.  I am really surprised the TT bike isn’t much faster on the return leg (must have been a favorable wind when I did it on the fixed)

Since my stroke, my FTP is around 100W down on my best so I can’t expect to beat my P.R. but I would really like to beat 30 Minutes.  My 20 minute power was around 346W prior to the stoke an is around 226W now. I do seem to be getting a bit faster and can keep up on the team rides for quite a bit longer but whether I can improve more over the next two months is not certain. Also I am showing very poor improvement on my times on Strava on my local hills which is concerning.  For example I did an effort of Del Valle climb on my Lemond back in January and repeated today with almost exactly the same pulse and did exactly the same time. I rode the TT back in March on my Road bike with aero wheels and helmet and only managed 31m46s.  This means in reality I would probably do about 32-33 minutes on the fixed. I am not able to put in the training like I used to and can’t push myself as hard but what I lose in speed I can make up for (to a certain extent) in Experience.  I have ridden this TT course about 30 times and experience has to count for something.

Best Times on Merckx Style Fixed:

Date Dist Time Speed Pulse Bike Race Time
8/24/14 11.1 0:28:36 23.6 169 Wabi SE (48 x15) Race (28:41)
8/10/14 11.1 0:29:10 22.8 154 Wabi SE (48 x15)
3/22/15 11.1 0:29:12 22.8 165 Wabi SE (48 x15) Race (29:18)

The above times compare to 26m49s on my Trek TTX TT bike.

I have a test TT course that I use to gauge my fitness and my best time on the Wabi is 17m14s.  My post stroke effort is 19m07s.  Just for comparison, on my Trek TTX TT bike I have done 15m45s which incidentally is still the Strava KOM.  I hope to improve by a minute over the next two months.

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Masi SSCX Long Term Report

 

masi_001

The Bike in it’s original setup running 45C tires.

 

My MASI CX bike has been my commute bike for many years now.  I originally ran the bike without a computer so I have no idea what the total mileage is.  I have done 6500+ miles since I started recording mileage on Strava on it.  I estimate the bike has done more than 10000 miles. The Masi has not been without problems and has had a fair few repairs in this time. I ride the bike regardless of the weather.

Problems:

Forks:

The forks developed a crack behind the brake bosses and I had to replace them.  I was gutted in having to replace the forks as the paint job was one of the things that drew me to this bike.  Masi doesn’t have a good frame warranty like other brands.  The cost of a new pair of forks was almost enough for me to scrap the bike but I liked it too much.

Drivetrain:

I have had several freewheels and several chains before finally settling on the Excess components single which was much better than the Shimano junk.  The original chainset failed and had to be replaced and I have gone through two bottom brackets.

I recently swapped out the bottom bracket after the Token model died a horrible death.  It was a fairly high end item with Carbon and Titanium but it didn’t take kindly to the river crossings I encountered this winter.  The bearings were absolutely destroyed in less than 1000 miles.  (The same river crossings that also ruined the bearings in my Deore XT SPD pedals)

token1

It may be Carbon and Titanium but it didn’t even give me 1000 miles.

Pedals:

I originally ran Crank Bros pedals but found the cleats were a little fragile.  I changed to SPD 12 months ago on all my off road bikes.  I prefer the feel of the Shimano solution and it seems a little more robust. Unfortunately all the wet commutes this winter have put the bearings in a really bad way. You expect better from Deore XT pedals.

 Saddle- Seatpost:

I fitted a new seatpost and saddle as the original fitment were not very good.  I love the look of the classic Flite saddle but it is not very comfy at all

 Tires:

 The bike originally came fitted with some monster Panarcer Firecross 45c tires (see original picture) but these proved very unreliable. I changed to some Schwalbe Marathon Racers which felt a good bit quicker but proved to be equally unreliable. I eventually updated these to some continental speed which were great tires but I was worried they were a little fragile. I finally changed to a set of Continental Contact tires back in December 2013 and have covered over 6000 miles on them with zero punctures or problems. These tires are as hard as nails, very heavy and feel very sluggish. I eventually got bored with them and decided to get a budget pair of Ritchey Speedmax Cross Comp Clinchers (700x40c) at a mere $35 per pair to try them out. At this price they seem a very low risk purchase. My commute involves a few miles of gravel trail but nothing too technical so these should work well.  The only downside is that they really look like cheap tires.

 

speedmax

Ritchey Speedmax budet 40c tires

My first riding impressions of the Speedmax tires are very good. The tires roll  quite fast and are pretty much silent. They feel much faster than the contacts. Unless you ride them back to back with some 23c road tires you don’t really notice the drag. They are supposed to be 40C but I think they look nearer to 33C. A guy on the train has 40C on his Salsa Vaya and they look huge compared to the Speedmax. When swapping between these tires and my single speed with the Vittoria CX’s they difference is massive.  They really do drag compare to a narrower fast 320 tpi road tite. 

Reliability therefore hasn’t been so good but I really like how the bike rides and it is ideal for my pretty flat commute.  I run a 42×18 gear which is just about perfect especially now I am running an Excess Freewheel rather than the crappy Shimano models. The bike can run fixed or single free but I never run it fixed as I prefer being able to freewheel negotiating the various obstacles I encounter. 42 x 18 gives a pretty good cruising speed of around 17-18 MPH which is perfect for my commute. Unfortunately the frame is pretty scratched up due to the Wallmart specials that get rammed next to it on the train but it still looks pretty nice.

If the frame fails I would consider getting another Masi although they don’t make the CXSS model anymore. I quite like the Speciale Sprint but you cant put big tires on it. I would quite like a Raleigh RXS but the eccentric BB puts me off a bit.

masi_2017

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Red Kite Altamont Time Trial 45+ 3/4

I have lost the count of the number of times I have ridden the Altamont pass but I have ridden it 85 times since I joined Strava. I have encountered some absolutely horrendous winds on this road and had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t going to be too bad on the day. On the other hand I was praying for a strong headwind (Westerly) so I didn’t lose all my leaderboard positions on the 3 distinct hills. 9 times out of  10 it is a wind blowing from the West that normally gets stronger as the day progresses. An early start is a distinct advantage. My start time was a very disappointing 1:17.

  • Altamont Ghost Golf Course climb –  KOM 3m02s –  20.2MPH
  • Altamont Mid Hump = 2nd 49s = 20.4MPH
  • Altamont Dump Hill – KOM 3m08s – 18.4 MPH

Since my stroke I haven’t been anywhere close to these times and I have been nearly a minute slower on the two longer sections. These best times were from when I was super fit and I don’t expect to ever get close to them again. I didn’t really have any tactics for the race.  Try to push as big a gear as possible on the fast outbound leg (holding back a bit) then go as hard as I could on the way back. My chosen steed (TT bikes were banned for mere mortals) was my Storck but I did go for the Kask TT helmet.

Race day dawned with the usual stonking headwind back and quite cool temperatures.  It was really fast on the way out and I ran out of gears on the three hills.  50×12 just wasn’t enough for the 40MPH+ descents. I touched 46MPH at one point.  My wife on her 52×11 with 60mm wheels touched 56MPH !!!!!  I held back a bit on the way out to save a bit for the brutal headwind home. It didn’t really help though and I really suffered on the way back and I was caught by my minute man (ex Team Mate Rick Lawton) on the golf course climb.  I was also caught by my two minute man but this time on the Mid hump. My power for the whole course was 230W which was about what I expected. I actually caught one rider and finished 9th out of 10. I was quite pleased to have beaten 30 minutes and not be last.  It only took 7.5 minutes to get out to the turn so that shows how tough it was on the way back.

  • Position : 9/10
  • Time : 29m50s
  • Winners Time : 25m20s (Rob Herrick)

altamont

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Hang On a Tick While I Touch Up the Prologue

del_valle

Prologue : The Redkite Hill Climb

  • Dist : 4.5  miles
  • Climb:  745 feet

At the end of March I had a huge setback and for the week after I barely touched my bike.  I was ready right then and there to give up cycling.  Thanks to support from my wife and friends I decided to keep on cycling.  I have decided to abandon my plans for the state 25 mile champs and cancelled several other events I had planned. It took a huge chunk of enthusiasm out of riding the bike

I have done quite a few practice attempts at the Del Valle climb since my stroke and the results are have not been so good.  In fact it seemed as if I was getting slower as the year went on. I cant get my head round this but I was actually faster on my recumbent trike than I can manage today. My p.b. is 6m48s from back in 2015 and by the beginning of May I couldn’t even manage to break 10 minutes. When I did my p.b,  I averaged 417W and since my stroke (before May) I managed around 260W.  I can honestly say that I feel worse at 260W than I did at 400W. According to Strava I have done the climb 59 times and 40 of those were under 10 minutes before my stroke.

I started to see a bit of promise in May and at last managed to beat 10 minutes. My power up the climb had climbed to to 289W and I did 9m33s.   This is still a long way short of my previous power but going the right way. When I was five pounds lighter 300W was good enough for me to break into 8 minutes. Unfortunately I came down with a cold two weeks before the event which dragged on till the Tuesday before and stopped me taking advantage of my improvement. The challenge will be to beat 10 minutes up the climb after already putting in the 3 mile effort on the flat (a pacing challenge)

delvalle

I have only done one practice attempt at actually doing the full time trial and it was very difficult to pace the bottom section so I didn’t completely blow up on the climb.  My time up the climb with this practice attempt was over 10 minutes despite trying to ride the first 3 miles at FTP. It was a hot day (90 degrees plus) and this made the climb very nasty. My plan was to keep the first section to FTP and then do whatever I could on the steep climb.  I was also suffering from a bit of a cold on this attempt.  On this attempt my power on the climb was 273W which is down a bit on my best ride since the stroke but not too bad.  My numbers showed my 20 minute power to be  227W which is what I expect.  My current FTP is approximately 215W which is way down on my 2015 FTP of 346W. My time was about 3m15s down on my best for this segment.  It looks like The flat section and the climb are roughly 50/50 time wise.

For the race itself it was rather a disappointing sign up with only 14 riders.  I entered the 45+ 3/4 category but with little hope of coming in anything but last.  I secretly hoped that people may go too hard at the start and blow up big time on the hill and as such set a poor time. I do have a local knowledge advantage but I am really riding at CAT 5 level since my stroke and my goal was to try to beat my practice time.  If I had my 2015 form I would hope to be about 3 minutes faster and perhaps be fighting out for the podium. My chosen race bike was the Storck without my Kask aero helmet. The Storck was approx. 17 pounds which is not particularly light by modern standards but ok. I expected some people in my category had bikes that may be down to about 14 pounds. My goal was to do a sub ten minute climb.

Race was cool and overcast with light winds.  I felt OK on my warmup ride to the start but it was a little chilly.  I set off at steady pace and was determined not to over cook it at the start.  I kept my power around FTP effort and thought I had a pretty good pace but I got caught by minute man (Ex team mate Rick Lawton) before 3 miles. I put in a pretty good effort on the climb and did a post stroke PB of 9m15s (301W). My result wasn’t last but that was because the rider in last place missed his start.  My PB for this course was 16m33s so I was very pleased to just be within 2.5 minutes of that. The winner of my category did an amazing time of 15m20s.

  • Result : 12th
  • Time : 18m58s
  • Power : 277W
  • Winner: J Rajhalme (15m20s)

 

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Aero Testing Epic Fail

With the red Kite “no tt bike”  time trails coming up I was curious to see if any of my chosen helmets would make a difference.  I decided to compare the Kask Bambino,  Garneau Course and Specialized S Works. The S works helmet was the lightest and Garneau claimed that the Course was an aero road helmet.  The Bambino is of course a full on TT helmet.

How I decided to test them out.   Choose a day with fairly light winds and ride the Laughlin Kilo at the same speed 3 times in each helmet.  The Laughlin Kilo is just slightly uphill but perfectly straight. See strava segment. The course is lightly trafficked but unfortunately there were a few cars today and I don’t know what this did to the results.  I did all the tests on the drops on my Storck road bike with a stages PM at as close to 20MPH as I could achieve. Due to the head/cross wind 20MPH worked out to be slightly over an FTP effort so the comparison was done at TT speed. There was a slight head/cross wind.

My conclusion was that I learned absolutely nothing from this exercise.  Although the wind was light it did vary and there were a few cars to skew the results but there is absolutely nothing definite I can take home from this data.  Perhaps this type of testing would work on an indoor velodrome but out on real roads it was a waste of time.

I expected the Bambino to be measurably faster than the others but the worst result I obtained on the day was with it.  This doesn’t make any sense to me at all.  If I look at the averages the difference between the Specialized and the Garneau is around 14W which is what I would have expected based on manufacturers claims.  The Garneau helmet does feel fastest but I cant believe it is faster than the Bambino. I was somewhat disappointed with how they Kask felt. It didn’t feel fast at all.

Specialized S Works

  • Run 1: Time: 1m54s – 20.3MPH – Power 262W
  • Run 2: Time: 1m54s – 20.3MPH- Power 256W
  • Run 3: Time: 1m54s – 20.3MPH – Power 242W

Average Power = 253W

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 3.05.10 PM.png

 

The huge difference of 20W between run 1 and run 3 completely make this exercise a waste of time.  If I had seen those differences between the various helmets I would have been happy. I didn’t think the wind was varying that much but these differences are huge.  I am impressed how well I paced each effort. I didn’t note if there was more traffic on any one run.

Kask Bambino

  • Run 1: 1m55s – 20.1MPH – Power 281W
  • Run 2: 1m54s – 20.3MPH – Power 256W
  • Run 3: 1m53s – 20.5MPH – Power 247W

Average Power = 261W

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 3.09.04 PM.png

 

I was expecting 15-20W improvement with this helmet but the results are all over the place.  The first run was terrible and I don’t know why.  If these results could be relied upon you would state that the Kask was the worse helmet here.  As it is I don’t know what the reason for the poor results are.  Perhaps the wind got up for this session. I can’t believe SKY would use the Bambino if it was slower than a regular helmet. I still plan to wear the Bambino for Altamont Red Kite TT  as I am sure it must be faster.  For the Del Valle TT I will use the Garneau as it it is lighter and cooler (perhaps faster ??????).

Garneu Course

  • Run 1: 1m55s – 20.1MPH – Power 233W
  • Run 2: 1m53s – 20.5MPH – Power 244W
  • Run 3: 1m56s – 20MPH – Power 241W

Average Power = 239W

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 3.04.00 PM.png

According to Garneau this is supposed to be an aerodynamic road helmet.  Seat of the pants it felt to be the fastest helmet but the data simply can’t be trusted. The results between runs are pretty consistent and the wattage the best I saw all day. It is a very comfortable helmet and gets good reviews. For example. It also seems to be the quietest helmet and you cant really feel you are wearing it.

 

 

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Replacement for the Tarmac

The wind blew over my Tarmac and it fell on a bike pump which put a huge chip in the carbon forks.  I had the bike inspected and the prognosis was that it needed new forks.  I contacted Specialized but they were unable to find me a new fork so suggested I should get a new frame. New Tarmac frames are about $3000 so I trolled the internet looking for something else.

I found a nice carbon frame on sale for $1500 off the list price from a pretty respectable German company so took the plunge.

storck

The frame is a bit more aero than the tarmac and has a lovely finish. I built it up using mainly old parts from the Tarmac but was pretty pleased with the finished result.  It rides really nice and the bottom bracket is very stiff.  It doesn’t feel as special as the Tarmac did but it is very smooth. It weighs in about 17.5 pounds which is about 1/2 pound heavier than my tarmac.

storck_002

I do just about all my own bike maintenance but I have to admit the internal cabling scared me so I paid Andy Frey from Beeline bikes to do the gears and rear brake. He did a great job and the bike ran perfect right from the start. I only did a quick 7 mile shakedown ride.  Time to get a proper test ride in.

 

 

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