Sunday, March 28, 2010

New ride arrives!!!!

So last year about this time I saw a bike fitter to take care of some knee and foot problems I was having. At the same time, I asked him based on my riding position, size, etc what a great fitting upgrade would be. From my measurements, I was told to look for frames with geometries that were long and low... meaning that they had longer top tubes in proportion to the seat tubes. The two main competitors in the geometry were the famous Cervelo P3 and the Quintana Roo CD0.1. Everyone seems to ride a P3 and the fitter was really driving me towards the Quintana Roo. Note that he did not sell bikes at the time. He is now partnered with a bike shop that sells Cervelo's... and he still recommended the QRoo.

So after saving my money from working way too much this winter.... Here it is:

It is a 2010 QRoo CD0.1 frameset equipped with a Zipp Vuka front end with the vuka aerobar system and the new VukaShift R2C shifters. Its outfitted with SRAM Red derailleurs and SRAM Red BB30 crankset. Pedals are the new Look Keo Blades. Topped it off with the tried and true ISM Adamo road saddle. Here are some closeups:

A few comments...
  • Shift Technology - Note the downtube shifted to the chainring side. Not sure how much this matters in its attempt to divert air to one side of the bike. It is a very interesting concept
  • Internal cable routing - Cable entry/exit system is top notch.
  • Brake placement - Notice the hidden front/rear brake behind the fork and behind the bottom bracket.
  • Seatpost - The bracket to mount the seat is pure genius. The post gives seat angle markings for 76 through 81 degrees (odds on the other side) and as you move into steeper angles, the bracket groove moves up slightly. This makes fitting relatively easy!!
  • VukaShift R2C - These are awesome! Return to center shifters which are like big paddles reducing strain on wrists.
Now comes the hard part.... Working on the engine!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Analysis of power numbers

From the 20 minute power test done yesterday, my final number was an average power of 209 watts. As I've stated, this can be used to calcuate an FTP. I'm using a multiplier of 0.92 for mine. This gives this test an FTP of 192. This number is then used to set training zones as follows:
  • Zone 1. AR – Active Recovery. Less than 56% of FTP.
  • Zone 2. E – Endurance. 56-75% of FTP. Used for aerobic endurance training. The intensity at which an Ironman Triathlon is typically raced.
  • Zone 3. TE – Tempo. 76-90% of FTP. A moderately hard effort. Equivalent to half iron racing intensity and also to riding in a fast moving pack in a road race.
  • Zone 4. TH – Threshold. 91-105% of FTP. A hard effort sustainable for roughly an hour. At 100% of FTP you are riding at CP60 – the critical power you could maintain for 60 minutes. This is the intensity at which you begin to redline.
  • Zone 5. VM – VO2max. 106-120% of FTP. The upper end of this zone is sustainable for about 6 minutes depending on how anaerobically fit you are. This intensity often determines the outcomes of bike road races on hills, when there are breakaways, and in cross winds.
  • Zone 6. AC – Anaerobic Capacity. Greater than 120% of FTP. Again, this intensity is common in road racing, but is never a factor in non-drafting triathlons.
This puts my zones at the following levels:

Zone 1: <107
Zone 2: 108 - 144
Zone 3: 145 - 173
Zone 4: 174 - 202
Zone 5: 203 - 230
Zone 6: 231+

Now I have to do a little planning and come up with a detailed training plan. Right now, I'm in the base training phase where the majority of the rides are spent in zones 1 and 2. Based on memory, I'd say most of my rides lately have correctly fallen into zone 2. I don't think I could bike for 2-3 hours at zone 1 unless it was a recovery day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First ever power test

Last year, I purchased a Computrainer to help with my offseason training (or lack thereof) to avoid trainer boredom. I honestly can not stand pedaling at the same constant resistance that most if not all air, fluid, and magnetic trainers. The biggest benefit for me that the Computrainer provides is the ability to vary the resistance, ride real courses, and the ability to translate GPS data either from a Garmin or from Google maps into a course to train on. This is the only way I can stand trainers... so much so, I spent 3:45 doing a 65 mile ride this past weekend.

Although this is a nice feature, this is only maybe 30-40% of its benefit. The biggest benefit as far as training goes is the ability to create specific training plans. First: I live in New England, where driving is downright scary... and riding on the road is a nightmare. Second: Doing any type of interval/hill training is almost impossible since there is too much traffic and hills are non-existent. The Computrainer gives you the ability to avoid all of that and carefully plan the training. If you need an hill repeat workout, go to the course creator and program in the segment lengths and grade you want... A tempo session, set your wattage based on your FTP... Intervals, use erg mode and set the time of each segment. The final usage is that it allows the rider to track progress through a series of periodic tests that eliminate variables such as wind and most weather. It doesn't take all variables out because heat/humidity play a large role in the human physiology and without constant air conditioning, this just isn't going to happen.

So today I started down my path of "real" cycling training and did my first power test of any kind. The test I did was a 20 minute power (MP) test. This test is effectively a 20 minute time trial on a flat course. The goal of this test is to maintain the maximum amount of constant speed/power that the rider is able to. The final output can then be used as an estimation of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or the power that a rider can output for 1 hour. The estimation is done by multiplying the 20MP results by .92 - .96. For my non-profession self, I'll use the low number. As long as you use the same number all the time, I don't think it matters. In the end, it only matters when comparing FTP against other riders... and well, unless you are on the same course at the same time, it doesn't matter. The calculated FTP can then be used to set your training zones for your tempo, interval, and active recovery rides.

I hopped on the trainer and gave it a whirl. Here are my results for the beginning of the season:

Not bad results... but not great either. Considering I did a 55 mile portion of a half ironman in 2:43 and then ran a 2 hour half marathon at the end of last year. Basically I've got a long way to go!! Two things I did wrong: didn't wear my heart-rate strap and had a tough day of snow boarding the day before. There is probably more information in there that I can't see, but what I like the best is the straight lines... constant speed, power, and cadence.

Now all I have to look forward to tomorrow is a 4 hour spin class to benefit cancer research taught by a girl that works for me. I can't believe I signed up to let her yell at me for an hour!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Big news... Race list for 2010 all set!

In my last post, I came up with a list of races that I had hoped to do... well, by sheer luck, good timing, and some donations my race list for 2010 is complete. Here is what I'm looking forward to:
And here is the exciting news... my "A" race for next year will be:
There it is. In September of next year, I will attempt to become a true endurance athlete in my attempts to complete a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bicycle ride, and then run a full marathon of 26.2 miles.

The reason this news was on hold was that the registrations to the Rev3 races were made through Ebay charity auctions to raise money to benefit the WarOnALS and the BLAZEMAN Foundation. For those of you that don't know the story of John "BLAZEMAN" Blais... I invite you to watch a short documentary on his journey here.

So now the easy part is done.... time to start training. If you notice I added a training mileage log on the left to track my progress and how far I'll travel in my season. I'll post the cumulative updates along side the weekly mileage.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 over... 2010 starting...

In review, 2009 was my first triathlon season, complete with a bunch of new firsts... my first Olympic distance, my first wreck during a race, and completion of my first half ironman. When all said and done, I was proud of what I had done in a short time. To top it all off I had also dropped 11 more pounds from winter highs down to 175lbs. My total weight loss now over 4 years is at 73 lbs!

So, the big question is what will 2010 bring?????

I would like to continue into my second season of triathlon. The results of Dr LAG, who hasn't lost his age group and won 3 overall races, has motivated me to get better. So, after 3 weeks off, I've started training. Training for what you ask... well, the races are still in the planning stages but there are a few local races that I'd like to do:
  • Rev 3 Half Ironman at Quassy Park in Middlebury, CT
  • FIRM Old Colony YMCA Olympic Triathlon
  • Narragansett "Save-the-Bay" 1.7 mile fundraising swim
The "Save-the-Bay" swim, I've lived most of my life near areas that have bay swims like this and always wanted to do one. Well the masters team I practice with tried to talk me into doing it telling me that I could win it. Next years goal will be to raise the $300 to benefit the local bay cleanup effort and to attempt to win the race!

The FIRM Old Colony will be a repeat of an Olympic distance race I did this year. This will be a test event to measure overall improvement year over year and my last measure for my "A" race. Given similar conditions, I hope to beat last years time by 5-7 minutes.

The Rev 3 HIM will be a fitness race. Reports from last year claimed this race was a very challenging bike course with fairly flat run course. It is also a family friendly event which is held at an amusement park and the spectators are able to watch the race from a large projection screen.

Then there is my "A" race. This announcement will be forthcoming.... all I can tell you now is that I've got a lot more training to do! So stay tuned....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Equipment review: Speedfil Hydration System

One of the things that bothers me the most during training and races is hydration. When looking at a bike to buy, one never factors in hydration. Its all about the bike fit. Well in triathlons, hydration can be key in races that can be as short as 1 hour to over 8 hours. Unfortunately, most time trials/triathlon bikes come with a single bottle holder mount. This means that you might have 20-24 oz of fluid. Not very good.

The first improvement in this area is the behind the seat bottle cage mounting system. When I first purchased a tri bike, I got one of these. The benefit of this system was that I could strap CO2 cartridges, inflators, spare tubes, and tire levers to it as well as two water bottle cages. This now increased the fluid capacity to 60-72 oz. All well and good until you no longer have your bottles. In the first year, I spent more time stopping, turning around, and collecting a full bottle that had been launched after hitting a bump in the road. People that use this system know exactly what I'm talking about. I tried multiple types of cages and bottles and nothing seemed to work.

The next system is the behind the seat fluid system by NeverReach. This system looks like a motorcycle gas tank attached behind you. It holds 64 oz of fluid and can be refilled on the fly. A tubing system goes from the rear of the bike to the front and has a bite valve for drinking. While this system looks good, when full the system holds like 3 pounds of fluid. I wouldn't feel safe with a couple small screws hold that much weight over my rear wheel with competitors behind me.

The final system that I found is the Speedfil system by Inviscid Design. The system holds 40 oz of fluid, has a port to refill fluids on the fly, and a port for a tubing/bite valve system to run to the front of the bike. Unfortunately, my current Cervelo P2-SL only has a seat tube bottle cage mount. At the time I was looking at it, the system could not be mounted to a seat tube. One year later and the company came out with a mounting bracket. Perfect! I ordered the system the week before my half ironman. The system provides aerodynamic benefits over a standard wattle bottle, holds more fluid, can be covered with a neoprene sleeve on both the plastic and the tubing, and is a perfect fit into the bottom triangle of the bike. Here is the installed system on my bike:

As you can see, the design fits nicely into the bottom bracket area. It is narrow so it is out of the wind and is a system that is hands free (until you need to refill it) allowing the rider to stay in the aero position while drinking. The tubing runs up the down tube to the aerobars and is comes with a cover with a wire in it that retains a specific position. I didn't like the wiring so I borrow a hair elastic from the wife and it snapped back upon release along the aero bars. There is an optional neoprene cover to allow your liquids to stay cool on those longer rides on hot days. The only drawback to this system for me is I haven't quite learned how best to refill it on the fly. I'm sure this is just practice. For $99, you get an aero hydration system which you never have to stop... don't have to worry about carrying a tank... and don't have to reach behind you for bottles that may or may not be there.

Well worth it!

Race Wheels - Are they worth it??

In the triathlon/cycling world, carbon bling is everywhere from the Quintana Roo CD0.1 frameset to the newest Zipp Vuma Chrono cranks. In the interest of speed, athletes can spend more money on a wheelset than on the frames they ride. Venture to any local time trial or triathlon and you'll see a variety of age groupers with the latest and greatest. Is this money well spent?

In short, unless you are dealing with placing on the podium or qualifying for Kona, the answer is no. Yes, they do have an advantage and they will save you time. But a better use of your funds would be to hire a coach.

But what fun would that be? None. There is something psychologically in all of us age groupers that gives us that extra "umph" when using slick technology. It makes us try just a little harder... makes us feel a little faster. I took the plunge and purchased a set of Reynolds SDV66 wheels. My only reason for selecting these over the countless other brands was the reputation of Reynolds carbon products and the fact that I found a deal for the $2249 tubular wheelsets new in box for under $1000. Here they are:

I outfitted the wheels with a pair of Continental GP4000 tires and a SRAM RED 11-26 cassette. While the tires aren't the lightest of tubulars like the cassette, they were purchased for durability. I traded weight for a little flat protection. Then, taking a queue from the mountain biking community a small amount of Stan's Tire Sealant was injected through the valve core.

These wheels have DT Swiss 240 hubs which are some of the best non-ceramic bearing hubs available. The wheelset weighs in at a whopping 1358g! Its strange picking up these wheels because you expect them to be heavier.

After spending the money on the wheels, tires, cassette, and having them glued up I couldn't wait to give them a shot. This season, I had 4 opportunities to ride them totaling 120 miles. My first opinion is that for my first time on carbon tubulars, I felt next to no difference while riding them. The following is a list of supposed advantages of tubulars vs clinchers:
  1. Better rolling resistance when properly glued
  2. Less likely to pinch flat
  3. Better cornering
  4. Less rolling weight on the outside of wheel
Of the above, I really only noticed number four. Using these wheels, I can tell a huge difference in going from a relative standstill to full speed using these wheels. The problem is, unless you have a very technical course involving a lot of turns, you don't feel this often.

When using wheels that cost this much, obviously the worst thing would be to spend a lot of money and then have the wheels damaged in a crash. In one of the four races I had the priveleges to test the strength of these wheels. I hit a sewer drain going about 20 mph which pulled my wheel to the right causing me to flip over the front. In my prior two crashes, my front wheels have not survived very well. Maybe it was the type of crash, maybe it wasn't... but these weren't even out of true.

So in summary, the carbon wheels are strong, lightning quick to accelerate, and have an estimated savings of between 30-70 seconds over the course of 40 kilometers. Are they worth the money? As stated, for the average athlete, no. But they sure do make you "feel" fast.