Friday, December 30, 2011

New PB... but just a commute


I suppose leaving the house 20 minutes late, at 4:35 am, helped. I didn't go all out at any stage of the ride. In fact, I was too relaxed at the start as I rolled down the first hill and towards the magnificent sunrise. Work didn't matter for those first minutes...

Having a little computer spitting out numbers as you ride helps. This morning, as I approached the 2 km mark I saw 23 min something on the display. Instantly, I heard a little voice: "You can make it!"

"I bet I can!" I replyed, keeping a steady pace.

It was a steady ride. A nice ride to work.

Time: 24:57.59
Dist.: 13.5 km
Av HR: 152 bpm
Av Cad.: 83 rpm

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ride everyday

Beautiful day, perfect to be riding. Yet, I had to wait for my short commute to work.

It is a thirty-minute ride, which I first started doing over six and a half years ago. I did it regularly for around three years, after that it became very infrequently. The damaged commuter never got rebuilt. And having to get up earlier to get ready and arrive at work on time or having to wind down for 45 minutes before going to bed after a late ride home was affecting my training.

I was getting too tired and I needed to find a balance.

But I still commute and every time I do it I feel great and I think: Why don't I do this everyday?

As we approach the new year, and as much as it might look like a trivial calendar swap, most of us will start thinking on the changes that we would like to make to improve our lives (and the lives of others, when we can). Just this process can be invigorating.

Well, I am planning to simply ride everyday. You?

Photos of my commute.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Here's to a great 2012

I am late. I wanted to post something yesterday.

BSNY likes to post a Quiz every Friday. Another popular blogger posts an old photograph and adds a couple of swear words (or is that all he does?). I like to find and post something that can inspire and help us get motivated for a weekend of riding.

Sometimes I find and post a music video, sometimes a cycling video, yet, it is not an every Friday thing.

Yesterday, I just didn't have the time. Work was busy. But I did think of posting the link I received from PJ in the morning (he knows what I like). The link took me to a RKP post on Cervelo bikes - R3-Part I.

I read the post and found it well written (that inspires me). It explained through some research (and baking) why Cervelos are so good. Something I haven't been able to do because of my lack of experience on other brands.

For that reason, and after 5 years on Cervelos, I am willing to try another brand next year. Something different and suitable for the up-coming project - Tracking the Peloton.

Back to inspiring things, I found this Garmin-Cervelo video. It is also well made and does show how a highly motivated, well gelled, well prepared, well equiped creative team can achieve many of their dreams.

Have fun riding,


PS: Ride of the week, the Christmas Lights Ride.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cycle at any time...

... not just when wet, as the city council sign warns us, or when preparing for the season, or event ahead.

Yesterday, the ride was like that. No small or big ring, no heart rate strap around my chest and no hill repeats. I only took the computer because I wanted to plot the ride and show Toby where we went cycling - all this technology.

There was no need to wear the right socks, the snug jersey or the bike shoes on this ride, either.

I rode my road bike wishing I had another single speed to ride (Sandra would say, a fixie) but we rode everywhere and on everything. Bike paths, busy roads, little hills, footpaths, cycling highways... we just rode and we talked.

We didn't have a route or time to get anywhere. We got to the restaurant when we felt hungry. We stopped at the bike shop because it was there. We, then, rode more looking for another bike shop, just because it was also there, somewhere.

It was a good ride.

Cycling is a simple activity in essence. Sometimes we need to leave this technical, competitive side of it at home and just go riding for the plainness of things. Nothing else!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2 rides this week

You really didn't want to see me last Friday, or yesterday. I was a temporary mess.

The only ride I did during the week was to town, on Tuesday, to see the new physio - I am determined to have my hip fixed. A whole 11 kilometers I rode.

Don't you love not having to train?

But I liked the ride. It was a fast little ride there to make it on time and a fast little ride back, racing the cars in peak-hour traffic. Perhaps I shouldn't write this when living in a politically correct city, in a politically correct state but I had lots of fun doing so!

The next planned ride was the Friday team ride. That was canned because I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a car (Again!?!) and by mid-morning I couldn't even get out of the house.

Then, there was the Saturday morning ride, I wanted to watch the team race but chose to sleep in and gather enough energy to go to work later.

I got out of bed this morning, after three hours of sleep, and told myself it didn't matter what I was doing the 100km team ride with Sandra. I wouldn't have cared if I needed a lift from the halfway mark.

I am glad I went. Why? First, it was a good turn out, perhaps 20. It was a fresh morning and never got too hot. Minimal traffic for most of it. My legs felt great (can't say the same about my lungs) and the best of all, my bike rode like a dream. How? For most of the ride, all I could hear was the sound of the tyres.

I was happy, very happy to be able to ride my bike today.

Averages and max:
Speed - 31.9/75.9 km/h
Power - 159/769W
HR - 131/177 bpm
Cad. - 74/137 rpm

Friday, December 16, 2011

Campagnolo EPS launched: the history

"As we walked through the 11-speed-chain assembly room, I spotted a row of enclosed offices and asked what they housed. Piazza paused, then said, "Electronic gruppo development."

My ears perked up. After more than a decade in development and of anticipation from cyclists, Campy's battery-powered
gruppo was about to hit the market. Few outside the company or the Movistar pro team, which had been selected to road-test it through the 2011 season, had gotten even a glimpse. Shimano, which began its electronics R&D years after Campagnolo, has been selling its Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset since 2009. Shimano's Di2 gear goes for around $5,000, double the price of top-end Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo components. At Campagnolo, executives believe their gear has to be the absolute best—and work flawlessly—from day one. Otherwise the brand takes a hit. Piazza had no intention of letting me anywhere near the group's development department, because the components hadn't debuted to the public yet, but also because it was full of prototypes, earlier generations and, presumably, ideas that had failed along the way.

"It is not available to us," he said with a smile, and led me away."

Well, American journalist Bruce Barcott doesn't have to wait any longer. Nor do the old and faithful crowd, who have been watching the Gen Y boys (and girls) zoom past on their Di2 equipped Giants.

Yet, the launch of the Campagnolo EPS group will probably elevate the already crazily-high price of top end machines to the $15,000 to $18,000 mark, meaning we will only see those EPS equipped bikes in the hands of the pros (who wouldn't pay for them) and the Gen X boys - sorry, no girls here, too much sense - who find those bikes perfect (and reasonably priced) for the bi-weekly training sessions and coffee shop rides.

It would be nice to be a Pro!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Steel frame for the cobbles? Possibly...

A fair bit has been said, and written, about frame materials. I guess this is a subject that is going to be discussed, and argued for ever.

I would like to do tests with bikes made of all sort of materials, including the ones made out of bamboo, like the Panda. Because that is not going to happen soon, I have to go by what I read and by the advices of experienced cyclists out there.

At the moment, for the cobbles, I am looking at this frame by the German company, Fixie Inc.  

Wheels? That is another story...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekend on the S2 and the Dirty Dozen Race

It was a good cycling weekend. And in my terms, even a bit of training was achieved.

There were good intentions to race the Saturday morning crit as well but the early downpour suppressed them fast. I didn't put up a fight, just slept in.

At lunch time, Sandra managed to get us on our bikes and ride 2h 30min without getting rained on. She took me on this great loop. It was one of those fun rides with little traffic for most of it, ondulating smooth roads for a good part of it and through some beautiful lush areas. Of course, we did a bit of urban riding by heading into the city for a bite to eat before heading home.

Average and max:
Speed - 22.5/70.6 km/h
Power - 117/621W
HR - 110/162 bpm
Cad. - 60/131 rpm

The Sunday Team ride was different. To begin, it was a very early start. Up at 1:30 am first because I couldn't sleep (too excited about the ride, I suppose), another snooze and up again before 4:00 am... I drove to the starting point knowing I wasn't going to be in a good shape after the planned 120 km ride, to Mt Tambourine (540m) and back.

On these rides, we can basically do anything we want, as long as the group stays together. So, a bit of training or a lot of training can be done. I am not sure what everyone else had in mind because little got said before the ride but I set off to do my strengthening work - my big ring workout.

I managed just over three hours of it during the 4h 15min out-and-back ride, including a 6.5 km climb, with a 5.7% average gradient. I wasn't able to go as fast as the guys, they just spun out of sight but I was happy to just enjoy the climb as I slowly made my way up.

Average and max:
Speed - 17.2/25 km/h
Power - 251/406W
HR - 140/175 bpm
Cad. - 45/67 rpm

Heading home wasn't too bad, we even entertained ouselves with a couple of sprints. Still, we took it ease for most of it, we were all tired. In fact, I was feeling very ordinary by the end of it and was glad to see Sandra (with her iPhone) as she rode with us for the last few kilometers and see my car parked across the road from the cafe.

Average and max:
Speed - 28.4/66.2 km/h
Power - 153/923W
HR - 135/175 bpm
Cad. - 67/138 rpm

I wrote about my next event (here) and mentioned cobbles. A bit of research has been going on, obviously, and during a google search, I found the Dirty Dozen Race in Pittsburgh, USA.

This is a crazy race with a bit of cobbles and a bit of climbing to go with it. It is not for pro riders or look-alikes. Here is part of a piece published by a newspaper a few years back. It described the race and competitor Stephen Cummings, who has won the race numeral times since...

"Stephen Cummings has no good reason for riding his bicycle 50 miles up and down the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, turning his legs into angel hair pasta and his lungs into deflated balloons. Racing up cobblestoned slopes, catching what he calls a winter cough - what normal people refer to as bronchitis or pneumonia - and challenging his heart to race up a hill in Beechview with a grade that is 37 feet per 100 feet of run is an exercise in humility. Or the first signs of dementia for the 25-year-old bike messenger from Bloomfield.

But despite the obvious pitfalls of testing the body's limits in a sustained bout up and down the city's steepest grades, Mr. Cummings and an expected 40 riders with a disregard for pain, and perhaps a disdain for Bengay, are going to participate in 23rd annual Dirty Dozen bike race today up and over 13 of Pittsburgh's confounding inclines.

"Why go ride 150 miles? I guess you could say that's too far," said Mr. Cummings, who beat out 30 odd riders last year to win the race on his second attempt. "People know the race isn't sanctioned by the racing body, so it doesn't count toward anything except bragging rights."

The race, which was started by brothers Danny and Tom Chew in 1983, has evolved into a litmus test for athletes and a urban challenge among avid bikers across the country and the region.

The 50-mile gauntlet of gears challenges bikers through a baker's dozen of hills - the steepest being that 37 percent grade on Canton Avenue in Beechview - and is strictly a race up and down the slopes not in between them. The winner receives points for completing each hill according to how he or she places on that particular leg. The first five climbers of each hill receive points - first place climbers receive five points - and the closest to a perfect score of 65 by the end of the race wins.

No one has ever received a perfect score."

The Canton Avenue climb:

Full story here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

No training this month and The Tree

Let me start saying that the training hasn't started. No, the training plan hasn't been put together yet.

I have a few valid reasons for that. The most important one is It is December!

Isn't this the time when things start to wind down? When we start to attend work functions and drinking a little more beer (it is hot here!)? I think so, it is not the time for training, really. Unless you are a track rider, training for the end of summer state titles, or crits (they are for track riders too), you don't have to do much on the bike.

This morning, in the coffee shop, it crossed my mind that after an easy bunch ride, in a warm December morning, we could, perhaps, go to a bar and have a cold beer instead of having coffees. The track riders too. And how tasty and refreshing would that be?

It would be acceptable because we wouldn't drink more than two beers. Nobody drinks three cups of coffee or more during the two hour long stop at the cafe. And we could have light beers. Even if we didn't have those slightly flavourless beers, by the time we rode home, got ready and had a bite to eat we would be right to head off to work... happily!

And the tree? Well, my sister sent me an email, the subject line had maravilhoso and attached was this video which I thought was about a tree. But it happened to be about something else, something quite wonderful.

Hope you like it, have a great weekend!

And the training plan? I am getting some help for that...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reinvent yourself... or your bike.

Guess what (mostly) has been going through my mind, since my last post.

I think people must know quite a bit about me, just by reading this blog, to correctly guess that I have been thinking (OK, and dreaming) about how I am going to prepare myself and how I am going to tackle my next race - the Paris-Roubaix Challenge.

Some of the questioning is like this:

- How am I going to train for something like that in SE Queensland?
- What sort of bike should I take for a race on the cobbles?
- How am I going to get such bike?
- Should I put some FMB tubular on my old 303s, or should I go the old style with Ambrosio or Mavic rims? - check them all here.
- Should I do a training camp in Germany, Belgium or Holland before the race?
- Could I get a sponsor for all that?

At the moment, the general answer is like this:

"OK, it is not that complicated. I will figure out those things in the next couple of months."

I already know through my own experiences that the Cervelo S2 is not going to be the best ride on the cobbles. I will be looking for something a little supple and compliant for the ride, like a Cervelo R3. Perhaps a different material would do a good job, even...

Also, I started to work on fixing my body, this time with Victor Popov, one of the best physios in town. The "hit" two years ago and all the stress I have put my body through over the years created a fairly imbalanced skeletal framework which has been giving me a good amount of pain, not to mention the loss of power in my right leg.

I can't reinvent myself to become a Boonen, a Cancellara or a Stuey on the bike but I still believe that with a bit of help and smart training (on and off the bike) I can become a stronger, faster rider. I am planning to do just that.

And talking speed, who said the colour red made bikes look faster? What about black, or white?

In the last three weeks, a project of reinventing the S2 took place. It got reinvented into pure speediness.

I reckon!

Training for the cobbles next.


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