Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bike parts, part 3.

So, I'm off work today, no overtime, nothing on the calendar to do. A perfect day to work on my bikes! Got up nice and early, brewed a pot of Alterra coffee (Milwaukee roasted, fresh, in your kitchen within 7 days of roast. Good stuff!), and got the kids off to school. My wife had a breakfast to attend with some friends, so I was home alone. Here is what the kitchen looked like early on:
This is what every guy's (or girl's) kitchen should look like! Bikes and parts, tools and stuff, all over!

I started by removing the Bonty crank from the E7:

And next, I cleaned everything in prep for installation. I also had to take the Ultegra chainrings back apart, and install the bolts with some locktight. The two cranks, side by side:
Pedals await the install, note the dirty gray Keo versus the brand spanking new red ones:
The end results on the E7, a nice looking Ultegra crank with gray Look Keos. Nice!
And the Giant, with new red Looks. Man, I love this bike!
A closer look at the red pedals, I think they accent the red and black theme well!
A closer look at the scratches in the frame and fork, from last year's crash in the Carolina's:
Some miscellaneous pics, just for fun:

And here is the lake effect snow we got hit with, right at rush hour. 3-6" more, I can't wait for Spring! Glad I was off today!

The E7 TT bike needs a front brake cable next. I was adjusting it today and noticed the cable was fraying pretty badly, from the original build by the looks of it. Also, I need to get some new tires before road training. The stock Bonty's basically peeled apart, with only +/- 400 miles on them! The only thing left made by Bonty are the wheels, and some day I hope to get ride of those too! No more Bonty, BOO for Bonty.

I got a quick spin on the TT (on the trainer, of course!), about 45 minutes prior to dinner. The crank itself is, as expected, as stiff as I could want. I could notice the longer crank arms right away-the arms on the TT bike are 175mm, all my other bikes, 172.5. The reasoning I came up with was this; last year, I felt like my seat needed to go up a bit higher, but my reach on the TT aero bars felt too far forward. I did not want to place so much weight/pressure on my forearms, as my right shoulder was bothering me on longer rides (say, 56 mile rides for a 70.3 race) from the pressure of being forward too much.

So, I shortened the stem, 100mm to 90mm. And I lengthened the cranks arms by 2.5mm. And I left the seat height alone (for now). I am still debating on switching to straight aero bars, instead of the "J" bends I currently have. I am still up in the air on this-I think I'm going to give it a few hundred miles to get used to the new parts and positioning, before I do anything else. I might have my wife photograph my TT position, and compare them to some photos of "real" TT and Tri riders online, just to see where my position is at. I've got some time, after all, the first real race with the TT bike is in July!

Anyway, thats all I got. Time for a glass of wine and some relaxation, maybe a good book. Or, maybe some Olympic hockey tonight-Russia plays Canada, so it would be fun to watch Alex Ovechkin and Sid Crosby beat on each other some and score a few goals. I think Canada will still win gold, despite the early lottery round loss to the US. Just my 2 cents!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bike parts, #2.

It's late. I'm tired. I've got a 12+ hour day tomorrow at work. So this will be brief.

On the bright side, hey, I was excited today when I checked the mail and found my new (to me!) chainrings, shipped from Boulder, CO. They looked like new, really good condition!

I took a few minutes after dinner to throw them on the Ultegra crank, just to see how they'd look.

So, I think it's a pretty cool looking crankset! I like the "Ice" look, as matter of fact, I think the Ice grouppo would be the BOMB on my black and red Giant roadie.

Nah, I ain't springing for it, just sayin'.

My next build will be a Cervelo ultra uber light carbon fiber frame, SRAM groupset and some light 1,400 gram (ish) hoops (well, light, but I still need something sturdy enough to hold my butt!). Yeah, when?? When I get an extra $5 grand to blow, that is! That's all I got for now.

Watch for wrenching Wednesday's post with pics-I'm off work and should have time to do the install and ride it to test her out. I know it will be way way stiffer than the Bonty stuck on there now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Parts, part 1.

So as I said in my last post, I went out and attempted to resuscitate  reinvest and revitalize the economy all on my own. I did this, of course, buying some bike parts! Here are what I've received so far:

So here we have a new pair of Look Keo Classics, complete with the gray cleats, and a new Ritchey 90mm aluminum stem, 31.8mm with a 6 degree bend. Those two items are compliments of PBK in England (so most of the monies didn't remain in the states, so far!).

The nifty crankset is a Shimano Ultegra "Ice", 175mm arms and BB, sans the chainrings (obviously!). This little sweety I picked up after work on Thursday from an ad I found on craigslist, for $50, I did a cash deal in the parking lot of an IHOP. The seller was a little bit of a hippie, but otherwise, seemed OK. Next, I did some quick shopping on ebay on Friday, and found a used 53/39 Ultegra set of rings for $25. Not bad, $75 for an Ultegra crankset in great shape! And it beats the crap out of the flimsy Bonty stock crank on my TT bike, for sure! And, more of the cash is staying in the US, great!

The E7, in the process of my install!

The stems side by side, 10mm difference in length, one degree less slope/rise on the Ritchey (+/-6 deg).
Another view, the Ritchey is actually beefier. I do not like the Bonty stuff, if you could not tell! Oh, the Bonty stem is FS, asking $40. It retails new at $89.99, FWIW.

I installed and tweaked the new stem, messed with the aero bars a little, and rode for 60 minutes today, again watching a TdF stage for entertainment. A little better, still needs some positioning tweaks. I'm hoping to get the crank rings on Monday, then I will get the Ultegra installed, along with my gray Look Keos from my Giant road bike (the red Keos are going on the Giant, they should complete my red and black color scheme). I feel like my seat on the TT bike still needs to go up a little-I think the slightly longer crank arms will help out too. And I'm thinking of switching to a straight horn aero bar, instead of the "J bend" I have right now. I will post more picsm, once I have swapped everything around and out.

BTW-I will be selling the Bontrager crank ASAP, it's a 53/39 in a 172.5mm crank arm (I think?), in case you or anyone you know is looking for one! It's like new, with only about 400 miles on it.

And last, but not least, dinner pics, to mix it up a bit. OK, this was actually the other night, but my wife was so impressed, I took a few pics!

California sushi roll, with fake crab/mayo, cucumber, avocado and rice chips. The sauces here were soy, teriyaki and hot kung pao. Today, I did the grocery run and bought some wasabi and more "sushi fixings", as my wife calls them. Sushi is becoming one of my more favorable dishes-we went to a great little sushi place the other day during lunch while training, it was super!

Next time, parts-numero deux, with install pics. Maybe an update on the TT position tweaking. Also, maybe a word or two on box wine review, which I've finally broke down and tried (I'm on box #2 right now!).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Pub Crawl (or ride)...

Yeah, pub crawl 2010 is history. I got out really late, like 9:30PM. ZZZ got home really really late, like 3:3AM!

The bars were PACKED! Parking was a mess, but I know the parking situation in downtown Racine, so I found a spot within a block of the bar I was meeting at, Ivanhoe. Afte rall, I lived here most of my life...

It's a fun bar, a little on the small side, but pretty much where we hang out the few times we go for beers when in town. One of us cutting the rug, at George's, after we rode THE BUS (thanks Stacey, after you read this)!!

Back at Ivanhoe, lots of beads were getting tossed around. I got hit in the head with lots o' beads, big ole' beads. And we found this girl, wearing the platex boobs...she was weird...
Kinda gross, but still funny!!

Me and Steve Klein, friend from high school, funny face Steve O'. Steve is a former triathlete, finisher of two 70.3 events. Divorced because of his obsessive/compulsive training style. Of course, I made him SWEAR he would race Racine IM 70.3 this year!! He still has his TT bike, so you know he wants to race again (and yes, I told his girlfriend, he would need training time to race, so just get used to it!). So, maybe, I've sucked another in to the IM quagmire! (side bar, a younger co-worker said to me today, he signed up for IM Racine, he only has a mountain bike! I told him...holy SHIT, it is a not so easy bike course!! Another co-worker said he plans on doing IM Racine with his MTB, running slicks. I said HOLY SHIT again...TBC...)

Steve an I:
Me and T, laughing about our "Smart" phones, and how much we were on them during the night! T an I have been buds since the 4th grade!!
Some of the good looking ladies out with us! Whats up Barb and Stacey??!?
Was I getting pinched here or what (maybe)??? That's what someone said on FB 'bout this pic!

A fun night! Took the bus, hit four different bars. Lot of beads! Ran in one of my ex's, really the only ex I still am friendly with, out all of my ex's, as far back as I can recall. My fault, I'm sure, due to my personal shortcomings and personality hardships I had when young(er). I told her so much...but she is pretty cool, we still are able to talk, and relate to each other, I guess. Plus, she is running her first 1/2 marathon this Spring, and she is still pretty damn HOT!) We hung out with her, had a beer, talked at length. We were in the middle of a pretty cool conversation, when....

My friend Stac came in, told me she lost her car keys, far far from home (how did this happen again!!?? NICE Stacey!), so we got home really, really late. Keys found late the next day, after Triple AAA and a hefty bill. I got my butt chewed out real GOOD by the wife, and I had a headache in the AM. But again, it was a fun night!! And, as we said that night, WHATEVER!!! ( had to be there)...

Next up: bike parts, soon, to be delivered, from PBK. Also, I'm hoping to p/u an Ultegra crankset from a guy in Milwaukee tomorrow for the TT bike, while on lunch during training (supervisor stuff the whole week!). Sweet!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Getting back to basics.

As the Counting Crows sang in, "Recovering the Satellites" the album title song,

Gonna get back to basics, I guess I'll start it up again. I'm falling from the ceiling, you're falling from the sky, now and then.

So goes the early season training, starting up again. Back to building the base. I'm going with what I have found to work for myself. What's that? Nothing crazy, no complicated training schedule. I'm doing what I've read about for many years now, in various bicycling, triathlon and running magazines. I'm doing what I've done the past few years now early in year-base miles first. How long? Well, there is not set "time frame" that I absolutely follow, I go by how I feel. Probably 3-4 weeks, at least, for base.

Then, I start mixing in some intervals and out of saddle "hill drills", as I call them. Starting with some lighter time drills, like this: easy warm up 10-15 minutes, get HR up. Start with 1-2 minutes out of saddle, recover with an easy spin 1-2 minutes. Increase the time out of saddle, 4-5 minutes, easy spin recovery for 2-3 minutes. Repeat 5-6 times early on. Cool down 5-10 minutes to finish.

Once I've done these drills 7 or 8 times, I can handle an increase to 10-12 minutes out of saddle, pushing a really steep gear. I was up to 15-16 minutes out of saddle last spring. Once I do a 45 minute session like this, my legs are fried. But I found, doing these hard gear workouts really helped, in several ways. One, my leg strength increased rapidly, helping me on the hills. Two, my cardio performance improved dramatically. This allows me to "push" my HR zones in zone 4-5 area, bumping up my upper HR limits. This probably helps my lactate threshold (LT) too, but I've never been tested for this-I'm just guessing here. I feel like my level of fitness is probably better than last year at this time; I can attribute this to running more, late into 2009, and not letting myself take so much time off, as I did last winter. Now, eating habits...there is another topic to address, for another day. More about snacking and portion sizes for another day (not so much what I'm eating, just some habits are hard to break)!

So, the long(er) distance, slower base miles now. Next month, intervals mixed in, along with a faster pace for runs and bike rides. Some pool time mixed in, too. I've got to get going on my swim-just to find the time to get to the pool, grin and bear it until I can work up to 1.2 miles, before mid July. This should not be a problem-I just need to make the time to get in the pool!

My view yesterday and today, a little change of scenery for the trainer!

Watched Stage 16 (7.21.09) of the TdFrance, Martigny to Bourg St Maurice, which included two big climbs, the hors catagorie col du Grand St Bernard and cat 1 col du Petit St Bernard. Speeds on the descents reached 77kph!

And all anybody really wants to know is...
when are you gonna come down?
Everybody really knows for sure...
That you're gonna come down

Soon to be posted:
1) Purchases I made late at night for the TT bike! Details will include revamping my position on the TT bike, new parts install, with pics...
2) Mardi Gras Pub crawl, Racine WI style...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Trip report, time for a trip report! So we flew back in from New Orleans Monday night, just in time for the 30+ hour snowstorm all day Tuesday and into this AM, which dumped 12-14" of snow. The vac was fun, a bit cooler than we'd like, mid 50s, but still about 30 degrees F warmer than Wisconsin has been. Oh, tonight we'll hit zero for the overnight low. Typical-big snowstorm, then sub zero temps.

We flew in Thursday afternoon, amid a pouring rain. After being picked up at the airport by Beck's Aunt Lisa, we drove to the French Quarter, where we spent the entire trip (well, technically we did set foot into the CBD, or Central Business District, for breakfast one morning-but only a few blocks out of the Quarter). Thus was kind of cool, normally we have to fly around, hitting the Garden District, or cross Lake Ponchartrain to go to our relatives' house, so it was nice to spend the entire trip getting more familiar with the FQ.

We got to our relatives' condo, and did a quick unpack before heading for dinner at Felipe's for some mexican, right down the street. Here is the condo:

Very cool, hundred plus year old floors and brick, but all modern amenities!

WARNING: many, many pics follow. Be prepared to feel like you were there (all are G rated, sorry!) None were edited, no time for that yet! Here we go!

We kicked back the rest of the night after dinner, and we hit the Quarter in full force on Friday! I opted to bring only my point and shoot digital, to save on space. I took about 400 pics, and a few dozen videos. I lost my camera case and spare 4 GB SD card (while drunk, on Bourbon St). Lucky I took out the charger and left it behind!
A pictoral journey begins...

Artists all over at Jackson Square:

A band playing at Cafe du Monde:

Central Grocery, home of the best Muffaletta I've ever had!

Colorful houses and decor everywhere!

A local artist at work, near Jackson Square:

I love some of the NO architecture, the houses from the 1800s, superb woodwork, brick, wrought iron fences. Here is a house on Esplanade Av near Bourbon Street:
Stopping at Mary Laveau's House of Voodoo:

Awesome balconies!

Street performers abound, this guy I remember from 2004, still at it!

Bikes, bikes, everywhere! More for function than form in NO:

Check out this fixie flip-flop rear hub, holy sprocket Batman!

And look at this dude!

We walked about 1/2 of the entire Quarter by a bit after noon. Then, we wound up at the Funky Pirate on Bourbon St, where "Happy Hour" runs from noon to 8pm. And they serve "3 for 1's" during Happy "Hour". Great. We made it no further than this for quite some time:

At least there was a parade that came by, 'cause we weren't walking anywhere by this point! This was the "Wine Parade", or so I'm told...

So we wound up at some small jazz/blues club way down on Bourbon, listened to a cool band for awhile, and wound up drinking this, Irish Coffee:

And this, self explanatory:

The next day, Beck's Aunt and Uncle came back in to meet us. We hit the bricks again, and look who I spotted!

This is "Grandpa", the same guy who sang to my oldest daughter back in '04. So he survived Katrina and looks to be doing well-I was told he works as part of a musicians sort of "co-op" that was funded by Harry Connick Jr and others from NO.

From the river walk, along the great Mississippi River:

An impromptu parade, part of the "Who Dat" nation! They shut the road down, and cheered on the NO Saints! Here comes the marching band!

On to Sunday, and Mother's for breakfast. Go here if you get to NO, really.


This was a seriously good breakfast! Worth the 20+ minute wait outside, in the cold. Waffles, omelette with black ham, grits, fresh made biscuits, hash browns, and a bloody Mary and beer. All old fashion counter order style. Oh, yeah, the cafe au lait was to DIE for, it was that good! (better than Cafe du Monde...)
On to the dog parade, or "Krewe of Barkus", named after a much larger, more famous "Bacchus" parade in NO. This shows the crowds gathering, near the cathedral on Chartes and St Ann:

And one cool dog, chillin' on the street for pics, sweet hey!?!

And Harry's, where we stopped for many a refill:

Ron, Lisa and Beck:

I liked this dude, playing away and singing like nobody's business. I like the Blue Dog (Rodrigue) in the back...

At Barkus parade:

And, of course, I have to mention the Super Bowl victory for the Saints! Here are a few post game pics:

The images cannot do the night justice. It was unreal, people as far as you could see, in every direction. There were fireworks. There were guys doing brake stands on their motorcycles, with the police standing there watching. There were people jumping on the back of garbage trucks and cars, riding around on back. During the game, when the NO Saints scored or had a big play, you could hear the crowds cheering from all over, blocks and blocks in each direction. It was unreal.

The aftermath? A beautiful, quite morning, very few people out and about. We got up early and went for breakfast at a little hole in the wall diner, Cafe Fleur de Lis, not far from where I shot this:

A beautiful Monday morning in NO. A perfect way to end the trip!

So many more pics, and stories. But, it's getting late. Hope you enjoyed!