Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do I need to start training?

I certainly do. I am missing the feeling of being fit and I found a new challenge.

But what is to be fit anyway?

For the more academic inclined, it is simply a state of good health, or good physical condition, specially as the result of exercise and good nutrition. For me, it is the feeling of taking my bike up to a speed and holding on to that speed for a long, long time. A time that, by my own dimensions, may feel like eternity.

I remember many years back, and just slightly unconnected to riding a bike, being in situations where, after a huge wipe-out, I was held under water for a long time. They were just a few terrific seconds and they could feel like eternity. Other times, when I felt fit, I would live those seconds with my eyes wide opened, and a smile.

Now, it is time to train to be able to hold that speed for longer. Longer than I ever could and in an environment that I am not accustomed to. It is time to start training for the new challenge.

Luckly, one of the hardest one day races in the world, and a favourite of mine, is also run for amateur riders. It is called the Paris-Roubaix Challenge and without many thoughts, I sent my registration email for it.

The unexpectedly fast reply came minutes later...

"Bienvenue en Enfer !

Vous êtes inscrit(e) au Paris Roubaix Challenge qui aura lieu le dimanche 1er avril 2012. Une semaine avant les professionnels vous allez pouvoir affronter comme eux les pavés du Nord, préparez vous bien, ils sont impitoyables."

Welcome to Hell and you will fight the cobblestones, get ready, it is going to be tough... Those words kept coming to my head during that night.

The route: one hunfred and forty-eight kilometers from Saint-Quentin and Roubaix, thirty-one clobbled kilometers (19 sections including the Tranchée d'Arenberg) and the Vélodrome de Roubaix for the finish.

I want to finish this one, time to start training. And the unavoidable crashes? Well, I hope they will be just like some wipe-outs...

Monday, November 28, 2011

McAfees lookout in 17:55... and more good news!

The graph above simply tells me that I have been doing very little (and nothing in terms of training) in the last four weeks. The good-red line (form) showing that I did rest over this period but in the other hand, a nasty-blue line showing that my fitness dropped to the lowest level since March.

However, it is interesting what a bit of competition does to one's ride!

With unintentional insensitivity, Mt Nebo (710m elev gain) was chosen for the Sunday team ride. Add four extra kilograms to the topic (I am not going to elaborate on that because it could send me into a state of acute depression right now) and the last thing I wanted to do is to go on any road that has a gradient of 1% or more.

But, what else but the competition found in a balmy Sunday team ride would have helped me to do the 6.4 km climb to McAffees in 17 min 55 sec, or close to best this year in another words?

I did push a big gear to start and I almost blew up chasing a couple of guys and had to slow down because my heart rate reached 170+ bpm (I maxed at 180 bpm, an all time record for McAfees, but that was at the end). I also waited for a couple of mates because I thought it was a balmy team ride after all, and jokingly gave TW a bit of a push while trying to start a conversation on his new 404s...

Also, I had Sandra's Timeless bike, not mine, but I am not going to repeat myself here...

So, the time did impress me (not again!!) but, as a cyclist, it did bring the everlasting questions: Could I have done a better time? or What does it mean?

I think I could if I had the mental strength to keep hurting and I think I could gone faster if I was 65 kg... oops. It means the rides in Rio (all that big ring riding) made my legs a bit stronger. And it tells me that I am rested, a good thing before the training starts again.

Distance: 6.44
Time: 17:54
Elev gain: 294m
Avg Speed: 20.4 km/h
Av HR: 161 bpm

Some good news. My rest heart rate was 46 bpm this morning, the lowest in two years, or since I started using Maca as a supplement in my breakfast. It feels good to know, that's all.

And to finish this Monday morning post, I will add a link to Sandra's post where she reveals her new alpine challenge.

Very exciting times ahead - Tracking the Peloton times.

Have a great week!

Friday, November 25, 2011

It doesn't really matter what bike you ride...

"... and in case of doubt, just go!"

That's what the coach told a really, really young Jens Voigt and that's what I would say to the young, or the new rider if I was their coach.

I think this approach will develop a rider's character and stamina, everything else, like speed or tactics, can be taught later. It is unlikely that it will lead to many wins in the beginning, but it is possible and when one does come around, it does feel very, very gratifying.

Back to Jens, my friend PJ sent me this video and wrote: "I think you will appreciate Jens view on racing."

He was right and I decided to post it here, hoping that it will bring a smile and motivation to those training and racing their bikes.

Any bike.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Premium bikes. What's the point?

Looking back a couple of years (2009), I was searching for a new racing bike. With lots of time in my hand, and home bound for a few weeks, I searched and searched until I found a bike that would make me a little faster without having to increase my training time too much or make me sell the car to pay for it.

I haven't changed but as the subject of the so called halo bikes, or premium bikes have surfaced once again, I got my old list out, made a few changes and added a couple more bikes to it.

And here we go: Would x Would not buy it

Pinarello: couldn't justify the price (but if I win the lottery, I get a black one) - Would not!

Eddy Merckx: pay 20% more because of the name - Would not!

Trek: too much involvement with LA and dope cases - Would not!

Time: great ride, but I still don't like integrated seat tubes - Would not!

Look: same as Pinarello - Would not!

Giant: the powerful Taiwanese manufacturer sent USA's Schwinn broke - Would not!

Orbea: long story, still can't elaborate on this one - Would not!

Ridley: "We are Belgium..." - Would!

Felt: one of the F Series - Would!

Cannondale: rEVOlution - Would!

Storck: German technology at its best - Would!

Cervelo: only if Phil gave me a R5CA (picky, hey?) - Would not!

Canyon: affordable German technology at its best - Would!

Hey, how could you forget the McLaren Vange? - I hear a terrifying scream.

I didn't but I will choose one of these futuristic Specialized machines for my "must have" list.

Or perhaps one of these if they don't blow my Super totally before I get my hands on it.

And an Italian job.

CyclingNews put out a really good article on the issue of designing, building and selling superbikes, premium bikes, halo bikes, what ever we might call them. The question was: What's the point?

CyclingNews story

My question? Would a $10,000 bike make me a better rider?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Buying a pretty blue bike

I don't think I am different. I look at bikes on the net, almost daily. I buy magazines full of new-best-bikes often and I did admire the $12,000 plus treadly lying on the ground, shaking my head slightly and guessing that it belonged to a Gen X racer, who might not have made top ten in the C grade derby that morning.

The truth is, and my partner can verify that, I buy a dream bike every week. In my head that is. In fact, and only yesterday, I decided on getting this "old-school-ferocity" bike as it was sold to me in a magazine. It is a hand-welded Dedacciai 7000 series frame built for racing, not for show after all and for half the price of the premium types.

A perfect criterium bike experience tells me but do I need one? Perhaps not. If I realistically look at the type of riding and/or racing I will be doing in the next twelve months, a big NO. In addition, I already have a racing bike!

On that, and because we need a change now and then, I decided to have my own bike painted. It needed to be pulled apart and re-built after almost 2 years and something like 25,000 km, so why not give it a paint job and have a new bike for the summer season?

A couple of hours fiddling with Paint and I came up with this. A couple of phone calls, a two to three week wait and it should return to give me the feeling I am going faster than ever. At least the feeling.

However, I found this pretty blue bike on the net and decided that I was going to buy it without second thoughts. It might not go very fast in the local criterium but surely will go much farther than I will ever go. What do you think?

Check the specifications and geometry HERE.

And watch this video, imagining how far we can go with those pretty blue bikes...

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Timeless Time

I planned to stay off the bike to try to do the just cycling thing, the single speed thing. But one step on the scales, two days ago, made me think again and in a few seconds I was giving up patching the twenty-something tubes I collected in the last 18 months and was setting up Sandra's old bike for the team's recovery ride Friday morning.

Fixing tubes? Now and then, I get into this mood and I have to do something that makes me feel I am doing some good. As simple as it sounds, fixing and re-using tubes does it for me. It is almost like a meditative exercise. And, admittedly, one of my pet hates is to see tubes on the roadside, and I do see a few.

You had a spare new tube in your pocket when you left home, why not put the punctured one in the same pocket and bring it home with you?

Fixing tubes is a fairly easy task but the low success rate these days bothers me a little. After doing all the work and testing them I usually have a 50-70% success rate. That's pretty low and I think it is caused by the use of the crappy glue sold to cyclists in those colourful repair kits.

This time, and under recommendation from a friend, I am using the heavy-duty rubber cement they use for car and truck tubes (who fixes those though?). While I am not doing the stitching they recommend, I will post my record breaking achievement later.

Now, to the ride on Sandra's bike, the Time Edge. I was very wrong assuming its age and the kilometers it had covered over the years had made the ride on it sloppy and slow. I rode this bike in the past. You know, the swap bikes for a while and the "can we swap back?" seconds later deal but I have never had it set up for me.

Anyway, I am not going to write a bike review on the Time Edge, I am just going to say that I have now realized why these frames (all Time frames must present a similar ride) have such good reputation. The Edge rides exceptionally well.

Sandra's bike has a smaller frame with a short stem and narrower bars, all I could do was to adjust the seat. That seemed enough and I felt very comfortable on it but what really surprised me was that I was riding on the big ring for the whole time, effortless. It might be that its geometry suits my body more than Sandra's. She thinks her Canyon offers a better ride but I have witnessed too many great performances by the pair to agree with her completely.

Yet, the Edge doesn't feel like it is fully intended for racing, it is much more comfortable than what I am used to. It does deliver a beautiful, plush ride.

Next, I need to get my bike back to compare the rides and to try to substantiate some of my statements. For now, I am going to enjoy riding Sandra's bike and will call it the TIMELESS bike.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just cycling

I have been off the bike - racing bike that is - for over a week now and might still be for another two weeks or so. Sickness is a reason but not the only reason. It is time to rest, to restore (the bike as well) and to ponder and decide on the approaching summer season.

Race or not to race and how much training I should do aren't the only thoughts, there are others, perhaps not so trivial. One thing I know is I must do more cycling, just cycling.

This is because the world needs more cyclists, all cyclists.

At the races (Nundah, 12.11.11).

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Ship Song... a gift to all folks out there

It has been a while since I last posted a song here. Too long maybe but, and because it is never too late to do anything in this life, here it is... The Ship Song.

Many versions of this song can be found and I don't even know which one I like best. Perhaps the one with Nick Cave himself, or perhaps the adaptation by Concrete Blonde that Steve put on a tape for me. That was back in Adelaide and many years ago.

Anyway, this is a gift to all folks out there, if I may, from me and from where I am right now - at home.

I hope you like it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cycling in Rio and the best ride

OK, riding in Rio's traffic was a little crazy at times. But, avoiding potholes and bumps was probably the hardest task. Overall, it was fun and, like in my childhood riding on the streets of Copacabana and to school, I happily got into riding in between the cars, and even amongst the buses - and there were thousands of them.

Safe? I wasn't there long enough but I felt the drivers didn't mind sharing the roads or sitting behind me in the traffic. When they did, they just changed lanes and overtook me as if I was just another vehicle on the road.

Thumbs up were frequent and there was the occasional salute from the traffic police men and women. So friendly, and warm in a way, it was nice not to feel the get-the-fuck-off-my-road I frequently feel when cycling at home. And if I felt uncomfortable I could just jump on the ciclovia.

I rode from Barra da Tijuca to Ipanema. I rode in the Autodromo Int. Nelson Piquet. I did a couple of bunch rides. I rode to the beautiful southern beaches of Grumari and Prainha and I even rode on cobbles to get to my sister's work to meet her kids.

But, and by far, the best ride was the climb to Corcovado.

I did this ride last time I was in Rio, in fact more than once, and liked it so much I had to do it again... and again. This time(s) I was a bit more comfortable though. I knew the roads and I was riding my own bike. I also listened to my cousin's advice and added the 4.5 km Estrada da Castorina climb to the ride (the video is a small part of it). Thanks Xiko, I am so glad I did it!

And the ride? Well, flat along the coast with a little climb to warm up. Then, up and up towards Tijuca Forest Park, a stop at the Emperor's Table and the descent to Vista Chinesa and Jardim Botanico. Back up the new climb, and off to Alto da Boa Vista, Estrada do Sumare and Estrada Redentor (Redeemer's Road). No need to say where the road ended...

Great views, good roads through fantastic and vibrant rain forest, or coastal jungle as they use to call it. The best.

It was fun and invigorating to be back and to be riding in Rio. Time with my family was priceless and treasurable. What's next? Perhaps it is time to organise a trip for my friends.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vans, buses and automobiles... fun riding in Rio

I had a lot of fun riding in Rio. Interesting enough, I often felt more comfortable on my bike than on the back seat of a car when travelling on Rio's busy roads. Was that because I was in control of my machine or was it because other drivers didn't need to squeeze past me as I was travelling slower?

I don't know but watching those drivers unpredictably change lanes and driving into gaps a couple of feet bigger than their cars (or buses!!) was a chilling experience at times, even from the back seat.

Anyway, I thought I share the experience of riding in Rio with a short video but chose a quieter time and the picturesque Avenida Delfim Moreira, in one of the most coveted areas in Rio, Leblon Beach.

And just in case you decide to ride your bike in Rio, I recommend the use of the ciclovias (bikepaths). They are also fun!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Images of Rio

I visited Google's Analytics today. It is just something we do when jet lagged and don't know if we eat, go to bed, both or neither. But I found this picture and decided to share it. It shows visits to this blog coming from 58 countries in the last thirty days. How cool is that?

I think it is. But talking cycling and numbers (no TSSs figures I promisse), I managed to ride 627 kilometers during my two weeks stay in Rio. Not too bad, hey? I thought I was going to do five or six rides because of the traffic and celebrations but I squeezed in 10 rides. That's also cool!

I know I should have written a post or two while holidaying in Rio, I apologise for not doing so. Time was short. But, I will spare everyone from my excuses and myself from trying to remember everything now and will post some photographs of my time there.

But one thing I must do is mention a few people who did lots to make my stay a memorable one, in many ways.

My parents, Deise and Carlos. My sisters (Heloisa, you are a star!) and nices. Walter. Xiko, Renato Estrela, Walter Tuche and his bunch. Ganso, with his old jokes and lesson on Brazilian political affairs - sorry I didn't add much to the conversation. Alvaro Alvarenga and Otavio. The ladies and kids at the Creche. Adriana e Mestre Sylvio. Carlos, although we didn't manage to meet. All the chefs, cooks, bakery staff and baristas (actually, there are no baristas in Rio, everyone makes a good espresso). The bus driver who drove behind me at 40km/h on this narrow, busy road for almost 5 minutes. So many people...

This is now becoming a blog post... I will write a couple of posts on Riding in Rio a bit later.


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