Tuesday’s weather for the club ride was pretty close to perfect. Light wind (less than 10 mph), sunshine, mid-70’s. It was also Mrs. Bgddy’s first attempt riding with the big dogs…
I ate an ERG energy bar and drank a bottle of good old fashioned tap H2O on the way out. I was amped and ready for a fast ride. Mrs. Bgddy gave me her blessing to hammer it out as I normally do, she said she’d get back one way or another.
As is common, the warmup was easy, a good time to catch up with the guys and slow enough that it didn’t take too much out of my wife. Seven miles for her, eight for us (we go around the block a few times to keep our warm up.
We were all lined up promptly at 6 pm and headed out. The first mile and a half was held to a reasonable pace in remembrance of one of the guy’s wife who’d passed away over the weekend. As soon as we made the turn north though, it was fast and furious. We blew through the first eight miles between 21 and 24 mph but we’d been heading into a crossing wind. Once we turned southwest, with a cross tailwind it got hectic in a hurry. We blew past 24 mph into the 26-28 mph range and I knew my wife was going to be in trouble. At my normal strategic fallback spot I was feeling great coming into the intersection. I was back, after last week’s off day. I was good to go and ready to tear up the next nine or ten miles… As we slowed, I turned to see how many had made the main group… There were quite a few gone and my wife wasn’t there – but all of the guys who I’d trust to bring her back home were still with the main pack. My wife and I had extensive conversations about how the ride would go, what to expect, and what to do if she couldn’t hang on. I should have been just fine to finish my ride and wait for my wife to pull into the parking lot.
Unfortunately, that’s not who I am.
All I could think about was her being lost out in the middle of nowhere and having to rely on the GPS on her phone to bring her home. I thought about how stranded she’d feel out there by herself…
I turned around and headed back the way we’d come. She was about half a mile back and with a new guy who didn’t know the route either. She’d have been screwed. I turned around and began setting a pace around 20-21 mph. Unfortunately for me, once I found her, I couldn’t get over the disappointment of having to cut out of a great ride on my fast night. I know I did it of my own volition, but I was stuck at the same time. The shitty thing about being the knight in shining armor is that you have to be the knight in shining armor.
I was quiet for quite a few miles, just leading the three of us down the road. I knew I was going to be apologizing for my behavior. No way around it. I could go on about it, but it’s simple enough to say I was crushed. I’m down to one fast ride a week and I’d just given that up too.
Eventually I calmed down and Mike and Matt even came back to roll in with us and we picked up another guy too so we ended up having a pretty decent time for the last ten or eleven miles.
I made my apologies, more than once, and we had another extensive conversation and some dinner. Now that we’ve been through the course once (and I sent her my Endomondo route so she can follow it in the future if she gets dropped), we have a good plan that lets me ride with the boys for 20 before I head back to pick her up… So I get all of my hammer time and more miles as a bonus.
Anyway, I spent a lot of time up front on Tuesday and still ended up with a 20.5 mph average so it was a great workout… And then I did another 16 miles at an average of 20 last night just to make sure. I actually finished with 48 minutes on the nose. Initially I wasn’t too stoked about that number until I figured that I’d eaten dinner less than an hour before, had four 180 degree turn arounds and five stop signs in the 16 miles… In other words, I actually hauled some decent butt.
Sometimes doing the right thing really sucks at the time I’m doing it. I’m always glad I did though… Even if I make a little bit of a mess of it.
The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: Everything A Self-Respecting Enthusiast Roadie Needs for Summer Cycling…
Look dude, or alternately dudette as the case may be, this is going to be an exceptionally expensive list of stuff, so first on the list is: A really good freakin’ job.
Next, a lot of this crap is tongue-in-cheek, so don’t take me, or yourself too seriously. I promise I won’t take myself or, if you complain, you seriously. Please remember, the key word in the title is “Enthusiast“.
Finally, I have a phenomenal job and it still took me four years to get my stuff lined up perfectly and it takes many cyclists up to a decade to get their full kit compiled. The main thing to get right is this: show up and ride first, worry about the rest of the crap when you can. Everyone looks like a noob at first. Those who would hold being a noob against a person probably aren’t worth befriending anyway.
The “A” bike is the good-weather bike, the sunshine bike. The nice bike, the one that you keep in the marital bedroom. Preferably a carbon fiber frame, but we all gotta start somewhere (my first race bike was an aluminum Cannondale).
The “Rain Bike”:
Look, the “A” bike is probably worth more than the car you drive (or close to it). You don’t want to ride that bike in the rain! While my rain bike is carbon, this certainly not a requirement by any stretch. We ride in any condition except snow (and maybe lightning – this is where that carbon fiber rain bike comes in handy by the way…make sure you’re with someone on an aluminum bike if you get caught out and it starts rumbling*), you don’t want to mess up the good bike with nasty weather!
The Mountain Bike:
The mountain bike should, whenever possible, match the “A”bike. It’s like that bumper sticker on your Chevy Sonic that says “my other car is a Ferrari” – except your other bike is the equivalent of a Ferrari. Great for a cruise with the family (especially if the rest of the family is on road bikes – you get a good workout in) or to play in the dirt. Let’s face it, if you’re into bikes, you’re a kid at heart and most kids love to play in the dirt. Don’t fight it.
The Club Kit (or two):
Bibs, not shorts (trust me, they’re awesome). Doesn’t matter if the kit matches the bike but it doesn’t hurt. The club kit should not (ever) be confused with a current pro or National Champion kit. You are not a pro, nor the National Champion. No matter how awesome you think you look, you are being laughed at. Sorry.
The kit is tricky. I’ve got three complete sets, other than my two sets of club kit, that match my “A” bike and two that match my rain bike. I’ll wear the club kit and the “A” bike kit on the rain bike but not the other way around (the rain bike kit on the “A” bike). However you want to look at it, a properly matched kit looks badass. It just is what it is.Ladies, Cleavage is COOL:
As is so amply demonstrated by my lovely wife, letting the girls get some air is awesome.
Socks, believe it or not, are exceptionally tricky. For men, there are two acceptable lengths: 3″ or 5″ above the ankle but you shall pick one or the other except for wool cold-weather socks. Women, though they should stick to the 3″/5″ rule, can get away with the ankle socks, because they have the cleavage, and, well, see the previous point. The reason for choosing one or the other, of course, is so your tan lines come out perfectly. We’ll get to the tan lines in a minute, because they are important. However, socks are where you can make your anti-establishment statement… No fashion rules currently exist for coordination of socks.
One for each bike. From left to right: Mountain bike helmet, rain bike helmet, “A” bike helmet. Not ironically, they rank left to right in price and sexiness (low to high) as well. I don’t know how to put this more simply: They match the bike they’re intended to be used with.
One for each bike. Also, the road helmets can be worn on the mountain bike but not the other way around. And visors must be removed for the road. The operative word in that last sentence is “must”.
I won’t bother with a photo for the shades (see above) but there is only one rule when it comes to choosing your cycling shades: Aviators are for Top Gun pilots, not cyclists. Don’t. Frickin’. Do. It. Both the rain bike and my “A” bike have white for the tertiary color so I always go with that. For the shades, because they’re worn every time I ride, no matter what (some form of glasses, whether shades or clear, are a must for cycling – I place more importance on protecting my eyes than my melon. I won’t get on a bike without eye protection). Sunglasses are a matter of function as well as fashion though. Improperly fitting shades end up with sweat dripping all over the lenses. I’ve found that a pair that fits tight over the eyebrows usually works best at channeling the sweat away from the line-of-sight so if you get drips on the lenses at all, it’ll be away from your direct line of sight. Also, because we are awesome and aerodynamic, a pair of glasses that have a high bridge, where the frame won’t block my sight when I’m down in the drops, work best. Getting everything right is not easy.
The saddlebag is a source of contention as far as I’m concerned. Some bikes look just fine with a saddle bag. I have four saddlebags. It took that many to finally embrace the fact that my “A” bike looks like a Ballchinian with a saddlebag on it, no matter how sleek the posterior man satchel is. I was seriously bummed out about it too – never mind that I blew almost a hundred bucks on all of those saddle bags. In many circles, saddlebags are more than acceptable. If you’re afraid that you too have a Ballchinian bike, try the Serfas Jersey Accessory Bag that fits perfectly in your back pocket. I love mine. Keeps my stuff dry, even when I’m drenched from grinding out an awesome 105 miler.
Folks, there are two brands of the dozens, acceptable for the cycling enthusiast. Look Keo’s or Speedplay. The only things missing from this truism are the words, “Thou Shalt…” Don’t bother going to the comment section. Thou shalt not…
The Tan Lines:
The tan lines shall be embraced and cultivated, grown to maturity over a lengthy season. Farmers invented them. Cyclists make them badass. Enough said.
Cash, card, license (in case a cop pulls you over for speeding, you don’t want him to get your name wrong on the ticket – you’ve gotta frame it, after all), tube, air/CO2, pump, tire levers… One should always have the means to successfully change a flat or buy a Coke and a Payday** at a convenience store.
As an aside, a note to all Swartz Creek, Flint, Flint Twp, Byron, Cohactah, Howell, Brighton, Lansing, Durand, St. Charles, Grand Blanc, Lainsburg, Gaines, Okemos, Genesee or Livingston County sheriff’s deputies or Michigan State Police Officers: If you clock me speeding, I want the ticket. I’ll pay it without a fight, just to be able to frame it. Just do me a favor and exaggerate it a little bit. 40 in a 35 would be great. Better yet, to the officers in Tiger, Georgia… Be on the lookout for an astonishingly handsome cyclist on a red on black Venge… I’ll be going down the hills at 50-55 mph and the speed limit is 45. I ride between the hours of 8 and 10 am and I’ll be down there in a few weeks. Thanks in advance.
A floor pump is an absolute must. Frame pumps are acceptable on the rain bike but not the race bike (no exceptions, it’s always all about the bike, dude). A decent CO2 canister and pump take up less space than a folded inner tube. A Ballchinian bike is bad enough, without the twig.
As enthusiasts, we learn how to keep our bikes operating optimally. From truing a wheel to cleaning out the steering assembly to replacing a cassette, we clean and lube it all. I have; Master Link Chain Pliers (Park Tool MLP 1.2), two spoke wrenches (one made specifically for the road bike spokes and a universal spoke wrench), aero (bladed) spoke wrench to straighten aero spokes when you tighten them (Park Tool BSH-4), wrenches, a full metric/standard Allen wrench set (Home Depot ?), two compact Allen wrench sets (DeWalt), a rubber mallet, pedal wrench (so I can take off those stupid platform pedals and put on a real set of pedals). A few adjustable wrenches (various sizes), a hack saw (you never know, I’ve used mine twice), a cassette nut and chain whip, and the capper…the big dog: The Bontrager 4mm 5Nm Preset Torque Wrench. I use mine to torque down my: Seat post, stem and handlebar… It’s perfect and fast. No worrying about over-torqueing the carbon fiber parts.
The Cleaning Tools:
I’ve got brushes galore. Shop towels (not the crappy looped one’s, the good, soft shop cloths – the rough, looped towels catch in the cassette and chain ring teeth). A good degreaser. Brillianize carbon fiber frame polish.
The Bike Stand:
You can either drop a couple hundred bucks on a decent stand or build one (as I did) for eight bucks and an hour or two’s time. My wife, kids and I have nine bikes that I have to maintain. A stand turns a thirty minute ordeal into a two-minute production line gig.
*The bit about riding with someone on an aluminum bike in a lightning storm is a frickin’ joke. Riding in a lightning storm is not advisable.
**Coca-Cola and Payday’s are supreme cycling fare. Don’t believe me? On your next century, stop at a convenience store and try them. Manna from Heaven. The Payday is intriguing because it has everything we need – a good jolt of sugar and slow-burning energy in the peanuts – and nothing that melts. They are cycling food (ERG All Natural Energy Bars are also stellar, at between 400 and 500 calories each).
Did you say “Gluten Free Hair Care Products”? Since When Did People Start Eating Their Shampoo? Gluten-free Jumps the Shark
Look, I get it, but this whole vegan/gluten-free thing is getting out of hand.
I read a post last night that turned out to be an advertisement for “the Morrocco Method gluten-free, vegan and paleo friendly shampoo. Of course, they recommend you alternate between each of their five shampoos and two conditioners for best results… So I’ll cut right to the chase, because I think it’s absolutely deliciously funny how gullible many in the food-snob crowd can be – and how easily those people are separated from their money… The shampoo set, five standard-sized 12 oz bottles of shampoo (a can of Coke is 12 oz): $130. The conditioner set: $110. Two Hundred and Forty f@ckin’ Dollars for shampoo and conditioner. Oh, I’m sorry. Gluten-free shampoo and conditioner. The hair and scalp “recovery package”? $280! To break this down further, they sell each 12 oz bottle of shampoo separately for $35 each!
Sorry man, but gluten-free just jumped the shark and if you’re that gullible, well you deserve to spend a quarter of a thousand bucks on shampoo and conditioner.
Now, I know there’s gotta be someone out there who reads this post and is tempted to comment along these lines: “Oh, but the Morrocco shampoo is the best thing ever…” I promise, I’ll respond nicely to your comment, but I’ll be laughing at you as I type my reply. Out loud. Laughing. At you.
Unless you actually have been diagnosed with Celiac’s. Then you get a pass, but only if you regularly ingest the shampoo and conditioner, which can’t be good for you. So don’t do it. Really. It would give new meaning to colon-cleansing though. Chuckle.
Oh crap! Literally.
This is the follow-up to Sunday’s post…
Sadly, this weekend did have one bummer. We had to drop our oldest daughter off at band camp yesterday, for the week. Truth be told, it messed me up a lot more than I thought it would. My daughter Bella is just fun to be around and I’m going to miss her a lot.
However, once the bummer that dropping my daughter off was over, the fun started. We headed down to Midland, unpacked the bikes, aired up the tires, donned our cycling gear and hit the Pere-Marquette Rail Trail for my Father’s Day 60 miler. The Pere Marquette trail, without a doubt, is the nicest trail I’ve ever ridden. No worries of traffic (except at crossings of course, and they must all be stopped at because many of them are quite blind till you get to the road).The trail is 30 miles east to west, into Clare, Michigan. It can be picked up again, just outside of Clare and stretches all the way out to the west coast of the State, but I’d have to say that my favorite part is the Midland to Clare section. It’s just far enough out to feel secluded but you’re never really that far away from something. The fun part is that with the prevailing westerly wind, if you start out early enough you can head into a breeze but as the day wears on, the wind builds and you end up being pushed home by a decent wind. Unfortunately we weren’t able to start out early enough but it still wasn’t that big a deal.
We hit the 30 mile turnaround point with an easy 16 mph average and the goal was to hammer it home around 20…
I think I may have to declare aero bars to be cheating very soon. What the heck was I thinking getting her that bike?
So we wrapped up our 60 mile ride with a 17 mph average, packed up the car and headed out to dinner at our favorite “We don’t have the kids so we can eat spicy food” restaurant, Qdoba. It would have been horrendous, how much I ate, if I hadn’t just ridden so far. After dinner, we headed home, showered and watched some TV. I don’t remember anything after my younger daughter was dropped off from staying at her friend’s house. I slept well.
In the end, it was a perfect cap to a great week. 213 miles, total for the week, giving me 623 miles for the month… With nine days left in the month, I shouldn’t have any problem hitting 800 again.
I’m a Blessed man. My wife and daughters didn’t give me a great Father’s Day, they gave me a great Father’s Day weekend.
A perfect Saturday morning, cool but clear and sunny.
Wake up at 5 am, fall back asleep after writing a post. Wake up at 8 and have some cereal for breakfast.
30 mile time trial at 11 am.
Stop by the bike shop to say hi to the guys.
Four slow, painful miles toward home, maybe 17-18 mph. See the wife and kids cross the road on their bikes half a mile up. Kick back into TT mode and catch up, my wife had turned to let me catch up. Ride another eight slow miles with them.
Have a hotdog lunch with my wife and girls.
Shower and a nap at 3.
Head out for putt-putt and ice cream.
Head out to dinner at Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers (Yes, they’re freakin’ unbelievable).
Come home, play badminton with my wife and oldest daughter (the youngest is staying at a friend’s house overnight).
Watch the Tigers.
Today we’re taking our oldest to band camp before heading over to Midland to ride the Pere-Marquette rail trail from Midland to Clare and back. 60 more miles (I need at least 47 to make another 200 mile week).
Head home, we’ll have a nice dinner and I’ll fall asleep missing my daughter. Man, she’s getting big in a hurry.
We started training on Saturday, without my daughter knowing it, for her first Aqua Bike next year. My wife was riding slower, with our youngest and her friend around a nice little half-mile oval loop in an affluent neighborhood near our home. Traffic is always light there and the people out tending to their yards are exceptionally friendly and gracious towards cyclists, so it’s safe to stretch our legs a bit. We had a bit of a lead so I asked my girl if she wanted to try to lap her mom and sister before they came around again. She was all over that and we jumped on the pedals hitting and maintaining speeds between 16 & 20 mph. After my hard 30 it hurt but I muscled it out and we did complete the lap.
Then we did it again, this time two complete circuits to their one. I was fried. Toast. Hungry and absolutely, positively done.
We limped home from there while my wife put in a few more miles.
I have no idea how today will turn out with a slight chance (5-10%) of rain but it’s already been a fantastic Father’s Day weekend, and a nice 100k with my wife will be just about over the top.
To all of the dads our there, Happy Us Day.
The Road Bike: An Attempt at Setting Up Two Completely Different Bikes So They “Feel” the Same (it’s harder than you might think)
My Venge was set up using Specialized’s BG Fit method (BG stands for “Body Geometry”). It’s the Cadillac of the bike fits (keeping in mind, there are Benz’s, Beemers, a Lexus…you get the idea, I hope). It’s not the standard, “let’s get you in a comfortable position on your Allez so you can ride it to the grocery store” fitting. The BG Fit took three hours, measured my flexibility, took into account my medical history (which is flawless with the exception of some big back problems that mostly resolved themselves since I started running and virtually went away since I started cycling) and what I wanted as well. While there is nothing wrong with the more upright riding posture, that’s not me. I wanted fast.
Now that’s fast baby.
In the end, after some minor cleat adjustments, my saddle was lowered by two millimeters. That’s it, two millimeters on the saddle height from where I’d set the bike up. We’re talking about video, lasers, angles… All of that data analyzed, and my saddle had to come down two millimeters. Later, as I became more comfortable on the Venge, I lowered the handlebars by a couple of spacers to where it’s at today. My 5200, on the other hand, was never quite as aggressive. It’s a bigger bike:
This is the 5200 as I bought it, though I put a better fitting saddle on it and slammed the stem (also the drop was only a 6.5 cm or 2.5 inch to start). I hated the handlebar though. Hated it. So when I upgraded the bar on the Venge to the S-Works Aerofly bar, the old bar from the Venge went on the Trek (don’t tell the Brand Police):
Originally I had a shorter stem on it, a 70 mm to match the size of the original quill stem, but that made me feel to crunched into the cockpit compared to the Venge. Luckily I had an 80 in the garage and that felt a lot better but the drop from the saddle to the bar just didn’t feel right. I had a tough time putting my finger on it, but it just wasn’t right. I monkeyed with the saddle, I brought it forward a little bit and raised the hoods a couple of millimeters and called it good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was as close as I could get on my own without really messing up my position over the pedals.
And therein lies the rub. The Trek, while a fantastic bike, is a standard 58 cm frame. The Venge on the other hand, is a compact 56 cm frame (generally speaking you can tell a standard from a compact frame by the sloped top tube). Going by measurements, I belong on a 58 or preferably a 59 cm frame. I bought the Venge a size small on purpose so I could peg the saddle and slam the stem which would give me an exceptionally aerodynamic position on the bike. The 58 cm Trek was recommended by the owner of our local bike shop before I really knew anything about cycling, under the assumption that aggressive but comfortable would be best. For more on this, see this GCN video “How to set up your bike like a Pro” (at 1:58):
Looking at the two bikes, one would assume the Trek is more stretched out, and one would be right – even though the Venge feels more stretched. You would also be right if you figured that the drop from the saddle nose to the bar top was greater on the Venge (but it’s only 5 mm [less than a quarter of an inch] – I’d bet you thought it was more).
With that out of the way, that two millimeter drop in the saddle from the BG Fit was actually a pretty big deal in terms of comfort and power. Even though by the heel method to determine my saddle height (where you place your heel over the axle of the pedal and pedal backwards, your legs should straighten at the bottom of the pedal stroke without your having to rock the hips to get there, it’s quite simple) had me at where I set the saddle, analyzing the video showed a hitch in my giddyup.
After that fitting the Venge was so comfortable I decided to try to transfer that setup to the Trek. Now keep in mind, the Trek is just my rain bike. Between May and October, I might ride that bike fewer than a half-dozen times. I ride it more often in November, exclusively in December thru much of March and split time in April. The first item to change was the handlebar and stem. Then, I had to move the saddle forward, which messed up where my knee was in relation to the pedal axle when the crank arms are parallel to the ground but it was the only way I could get the Trek’s reach as close to the Venge as possible.
Now fast forward from this spring till last week. Rare for early summer, we’ve gone through an odd stretch of wet weather. I’ve got a phenomenal year going and I didn’t want to take a bunch of time off the bike for a chance of rain so I took the Trek out four times in a row. On finally going back to the Venge after that stretch, for the first time in two years, riding in the drops on the Venge felt odd. Red flags went up, well technically it would be closer to say I freaked out a little bit. I scheduled some time at the shop and took both bikes in so I could see if there was any way I could make the Trek fit exactly match the Venge so it wouldn’t matter which bike I rode, the feel would be the same.
After an hour of taking measurements and crunching numbers, the owner of our local shop (a man who built a 24 world-record breaking bike frame) stood up and said, “Jim, you did as good a job as you could have setting [the Trek] up as close to the Venge as was possible”. At that point, I was beaming with pride a little bit, so I can’t get the rest of the quote right, but the word “impressive” was used in that next sentence. In the end, the drop from the saddle to the handlebar was, as written earlier, 5 mm less. There was a 5 mm difference in stretch (distance in length from the center of the saddle to the center of the bar) and a 5 mm difference from the nose of the saddle to the center of the crank (this latter measurement being the most important).
Now, the drop from the saddle to the bar is simple enough, especially with three spacers on the Trek’s stem, two of which could be removed… If the threaded part of the fork was cut down (it’s got an old-style quill stem which complicates lowering the bar further.). In the end though, making the two bikes match exactly just won’t be possible without dumping a lot of cash into a backup bike. The geometry on the Venge is too different from that of the Trek.
The owner of our local shop suggested, and I agreed, that there are better ways to spend my money. The Trek is closer than government work and that’s good enough for me… Unless I pick up the new Venge and use my old Venge as my rain bike… Imagine that, a $5,000 rain bike.
The photo is from a GCN video about the new Venge available here. PS. See if you can find the brakes. Also, where did all of the cables go? Oh my, I likey!
To my wife, who will undoubtedly read this post at some point: “Don’t worry sweetheart. I think.”