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Cycling, Bonus Winter Miles, Hydrus Performance Drink Concentrate and El Presidente…

I finally got a decent weekend ride in, outside, on Sunday.  Fortunately, the wind was strong enough to blow the fog that had been present since 3 am, out.  Unfortunately, the wind was strong enough to blow the fog out…  That first 20 miles, it was tough holding a 19 mph pace into it for more than a mile up front.  I took my buddy Chuck’s cue and kept it around 18 and it was a little more reasonable.  We had Dave and his wife with us so there was certainly no watching the paint dry though (Dave is one of the racers in our group, though he’s much more reasonable now that all of the racing is done).  It was an awesome ride, once the sun came up fully.  The temp went from a “feels like” 26 to almost 40 within an hour and riding became much more enjoyable.  I tried something new, clothing-wise, that ended up working quite well.  Rather than wearing my cycling jacket, I went with a light base layer (32 Degrees Heat), a light long-sleeved jersey and my Thermal long-sleeve with a windbreaker vest over the top…  It was perfect.  I wasn’t too warm or too cold at any point during the ride, except that first mile.  We’re well into bonus miles now and all is good.  It’s a rare year that we can ride the good bikes in December (thanks El Nino) but I have a funny feeling we’ll be making up for this next year as that’s usually how it works around here.

I tried a new electrolyte replacement drink, too.  Hydrus Performance Beverage Concentrate.  It comes in an 8 oz bottle and a teaspoon of the stuff is good, they say, for 8 ounces of water.  Using their chart, I added 3 teaspoons for each of my 26 oz water bottles but that was a little tangy (2 tsp is much better).  The trick is, the stuff is mega expensive.  That 8 oz. bottle goes for $24.  Doing the math, it works out to a buck a bottle if you follow their recommendations.  I can stomach $0.66 per serving a little better.  That said, the stuff is quite excellent.  It pleased my palate so much that I actually looked forward to taking a swig.  Considering, also, that I’ve mildly cramped up on every ride I’ve been on below 35 degrees – not enough to get me to slow down, just enough to feel it – I was amazed that I still felt excellent after that 42 miles.  I could have gone farther quite easily, and that’s a rarity during Bonus Miles Season.  We’ve got about six bottles so I’m going to use up the one I opened and save the rest for next year…  I’m quite interested to see how the stuff works in the heat.  This is from their website:

Hydrus’ NanosomeTM Technology is a significantly more effective carrier of electrolytes to the bloodstream and distributing it throughout the body than market leading products that still rely on sugar. Hydrus is Sugar Free.

That’s right folks, no sugar, no calories.  The “sweet” is stevia leaf extract.  In any event, it’s decent stuff – anything that makes me look forward to taking a swig is a good thing.**

Finally, I was approached at our cycling club’s annual banquet by a few members and asked to be president of the club.  I’ll guarantee that’ll make some of the regular readers of this blog shudder because, being who I am, I’m not big on imposing my will on anyone other than those I pay directly…  That’d be a joke, if you missed it or took that statement seriously.  Truth is, I really don’t do well with politics because I generally don’t have patience for bullshit and egos – and once you realize that 51% of politics is ego and the other 49 is bullshit, well it’s all downhill from there.

My main problem, and it is a problem, is my inability to refrain from calling s#!+ as I see it, or when it really gets deep, laughing at people who take themselves too seriously.  On the other hand, when it actually comes to the club, faster cyclists are vastly underrepresented so maybe I can actually add something.  That will be the goal, of course.  If I’m looking for what I can get out of this, I’m certain I’ll be deeply disappointed…  I heard the pay sucks.

**UPDATE:  As far as Hydrus goes, it’s very important to understand a few things.  First, it has no calories so you don’t get free, easy calories from this while you’re cycling.  Hydrus is only for electrolyte replacement.  For the longer rides, maybe 50+ miles, I will only go with Hammer Perpetuem in on bottle and maybe Hydrus in the other so I get the energy I need, easily.  It’s very important to take this into account when planning hydration for a long ride.  It’s great stuff but it’s for a specific purpose.

Power Line: The Case for Meat

Power Line: The Case for Meat. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIw2OLGmic

Because meat makes one happy, naturally (or barbecued):

Australian researchers revealed that vegetarians reported being less optimistic about the future than meat eaters. What’s more, they were 18 percent more likely to report depression and 28 percent more likely to suffer panic attacks and anxiety. A separate German study backs this up, finding that vegetarians were 15 percent more prone to depressive conditions and twice as likely to suffer anxiety disorders.

This doesn’t surprise me, not even a little bit. It also explains why I’m such a happy guy.

I should also add that I continue to eat meat, including hotdogs, burgers, steaks, ribs, lunch meat and above all, bacon, because my mom, a revered nurse, now retiree just a couple of years now, insisted on it, and still does. She has lived through all of the fads, including veganism, and cared for the malnourished children of those who embraced that lifestyle foolishly (mainly for a lack of protein, which destroys the body, and a lack of iron which, without supplements, only shuts down your kidneys, stunts growth and requires the body to work with less oxygen). While I support anyone’s right to go forth as they choose, even foolishly and dragging their kids along with them, I won’t sit still for any attempted imposition of that life on my family or children. I’d much prefer a happier life for them, and Steak and Bacon = Happiness, so the science says.

Eat healthy and be happy my friends. Respect the Engine, you only get one.

‘Respect the Engine’ is a trademark of Feed the Engine Apparel and is used because it’s mine.

Bernie Sanders on Hunting: “People Don’t Hunt with Assault Rifles”. Put a Sock in It, Bernie.

This is from 2010:

IMG00032-20101115-1412

That’s a full fledged, semi-automatic long-barrel Tommy Gun.

Shut up, Bernie.

Cyclingcicles…

It was one degree below freezing when we wheeled our mountain bikes out the front door at 9 am (in the morning, Mrs. Redundant Lady).  The fog was thick enough that what was supposed to be a marvelous 40 mile road ride turned into a dirt road mountain bike ride.

I was dressed perfectly for the cold, with the exception of my socks, because I always have to do one stupid thing.  I was worried that my wool socks would be too much with my boots.  For the first 45 minutes the cotton socks I chose were just fine.  We cranked out mile after mile over the often mucky back roads.  Smile on my face, talking with my wife and best cycling bud, Mike.  My only worry was knowing I’d have to spend some time cleaning my Rockhopper Sport 29er that had been showroom clean when we walked out the door.

We rode with our Thunderbolt taillights blazing, in the event we encountered traffic but they were, gratefully, almost for naught.  I think we had three cars pass us from behind the whole ride.

The cold, mixed with the moisture from the fog, bit at the eight square inches of exposed flesh around my balaclava’s mug opening.  My clear glasses long since relegated to clinging to my helmet’s vents because, as necessary as they may be to keep debris out of my eyes as I roll down the road, they do little good if one can’t see out them anyway.  Goggles may become a necessity if I keep this up, Bri.

Fourteen miles in, still smiling, grateful and talking with my best friend and best bud, I noticed that I had icicles forming on my arms.  Two miles later I noticed the humorously thick layers of ice clinging to my gloves.  Two miles later, I noticed the ice clinging to my… um… nether-regions.  I’d pulled out an old pair of tights to go over my leg warmers and shorts and they must have been doing a decent job because I was only mildly chilly and I had ice forming on my goruinias.

What are goruinias, you ask?  Fellas, if you get kicked there, it go’-ruin-ya.  Seriously.

We continued on to our friend’s Adam and Diane’s house where we committed the mortal cold weather cycling sin… We stopped to say hi.

I had ice on my bikes cable housings (I have no exposed steel cables on my bike, they’re 100% covered with housing except where they exit to attach to the front and rear derailleurs), my handlebar, my shock… basically every leading edge of my bike.  Ice on my helmet, gloves, arms… again, leading edges.  I shook the ice off, best I could and we took a few to talk with our friends who spend almost all of their rides on their tandem pulling us down the road.

After ten minutes or so, I realized it was too cold for my shock to work properly and I had reached critical cold…  So cold, if I don’t move my butt right now, I’m gonna curl up in the fetal position on the ground and whine for a ride home. I took a few laps around the driveway to move as we said our goodbyes.

Two and a quarter miles later, the sun started to peak through the fog and we rolled into our driveway.

20-1/2 cold, awesome miles.  And it beat the hell out of the trainer.

From there, we took my daughter to her Regional Solo and Ensemble where she scored a 1 and got a medal, then to her diving lesson…

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Then off to dinner with my friends to celebrate my sober anniversary, finally, after it got snowed out a couple of weeks ago.

As days go, this was a good one – even if we only got half of our intended miles.

That Voice that says, “It’s Time to Get Moving. It’s Time for Action”.

I’d been sitting on my butt for too long, eating wonderful, fantastic-tasting food…  I rode all summer long, an average of 30 miles a day, each and every day.  My legs got big, strong, awesome lookin’. In three months I only missed two days.  I felt good.  Healthy.  Stong.

Then hunting season came around and being one of those who doesn’t bristle when someone says, “If you had to kill your own meat you wouldn’t eat it” (You bet your butt I would, and just as much as I do now), I’m not going to miss hunting season with my buddy, Bill.  Then crap weather.  Put simply, I went from 1,000 mile months to 300 or 400.  This is all quite normal and expected and absolutely worth it.  Besides, it’s not exactly like I was sitting around on my butt, I was hiking up to an hour and a half a day, carrying between 20 and 70 pounds the whole time…

Then Thanksgiving came and I sat down.  Just four days, but it’d been a couple of weeks since I really gave a decent effort.  The mirror didn’t show it yet, but I felt thicker.  I was still using the same belt hole but you know that point where you have to pull just a little bit and you shouldn’t have to…

Then comes the thinking.  “Oh, crap, has it really been that long since I gave a solid effort?”  “Not to worry, I had a hardcore summer, right?” “I needed some time off anyway.”  “Maybe I should stop eating so much.”  “Ah, but that belly-buster burger would be so good.”

This is where I know I’m screwed.  I know this because I’ve run into it before.

In past years, I’ve gone the entire month, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, eating like it wouldn’t have implications.  I knew I was going to be active again come spring so why not enjoy myself, right?  This led, inexorably, to a rough spring.  High mileage, dieting and dropping weight before the heavy summer mileage.  This has gone on for more than a decade, heck almost fifteen years now and I finally grew bored with the effort required to get the spring train rollin’ again.  This year I decided to cut out the springtime weight drop.  Now, being a big fan of Thanksgiving and the entire weekend (big breakfasts, big dinners, movies, college football, pro football, card games and being lazy), there’s no way I was going to sacrifice that break.  I need it.  Christmas is going to be pretty close to the same but this year, why bother messing up the 20-ish days in between.  That’s a statement, not a question.

So here I sit, writing this post.  I rode, in one form or another, every day this week and we’ve got a nice 80 mile weekend lined up and I can’t wait.

I didn’t exactly sit still through Thanksgiving.  We rode, a little bit, the two days it wasn’t raining but those two hours were just fun rides.  I’ve got that voice in the back of my head. “It’s time to get moving.  It’s time for action.”

I’ve had my fun, had my time off.

I rode Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on the trainer due to time constraints.  Yesterday my wife and I rode, outdoors, on the good bikes and it was wonderful.  Mostly sunny, mid-40’s and climbing…  A little windy, but hey, a fella can’t have everything now.  We took it easy, of course, but it was good.  After taking it easy for a few couple of weeks, I was expecting to have a tougher time – I expected yesterday’s 17 mph pace to feel like 19, like it does in the spring.  It didn’t.  It was easy, smooth, comfortable – like it was in the summer, maybe even a little better because I’m rolling on rested legs.

The real test will be the next two days though.  40 miles each day and I’m going to be spending more than my fair share or it up front.

I no longer have that voice in my head, and it is good.

Say You Have an Extra $12,000 Just Sitting Around. What Do You Do?

Triple Treat: Argon 18 vs Specialized vs Trek – http://wp.me/p2Or69-a0L

Have your say:  Vote on your favorite at the link above.

RIP Scott Weiland…

It’s been reported that Scott Weiland died in his tour bus last night.  He was just 48.

The fact that Scott was an addict of epic proportions is well documented.  Reports are slow to blame a drug overdose but folks, this doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together.

Scott, and previously the Stone Temple Pilots, were my favorite musicians of all time.  Ironically, I bought a tee-shirt at his last tour that said, “Not dead and not for sale”, a line from a song on the Pilot’s third album (Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart, from Tiny Music…  Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop).

Addiction is out there kicking ass and it doesn’t care how wealthy or poor we are.

Too bad, that.  Rest in Peace… but better you than me.

Cycling Specifics: Standard Rim Brakes vs. Aero Rim Brakes on Aero Bikes

With the advent of disc brakes on road bikes, which have some negatives along with quite a few positives, disc brakes may or may not be the next big thing in the pro peloton.  I still think, at least as far as the aero bikes go, rim brakes will be around for a long time.  I reserve the right to be wrong though.  Rim brakes are an interesting topic for discussion when it comes to we avid enthusiasts as well.

My best cycling bud has a 2014 Madone 7 Series that has an integrated front brake that follows the contour of the fork, which I really like, and a rear brake that, instead of its normal place behind the seat tube, is hidden behind the bottom bracket in the chain stays

Madone brake

Madone stay

BMC has followed suit:

2016-bmc-timemachine-tmr01-black-ultegra

At first blush, this seems really cool, at least it did to me.  Having spent hundreds of miles on Mike’s wheel this summer, the lack of a brake between the seat stays just cleans up the whole back of the bike…  Kinda cool if you ask me.

However, during those several hundred miles on Mike’s wheel, I noticed that when he was really putting the power down, his brakes would rub on the rim, side to side.  Now, to clarify, he’s also got top of the line alloy wheels on his bike (Rolf Prima’s).  In other words, it’s not just the wheels.  What he ended up doing was opening the brakes a few more millimeters to give him enough clearance that the wheel no longer rubs under power.  Now, he likes to run his brakes a lot closer than I do (I like a little give and modulation when I pull the lever), so this has been a bit of a struggle for him.

Additionally, and more importantly, that brake is directly in the line of fire in wet conditions from the spray off of the front wheel.  If he rides even in a decent drizzle, his rear brake collects a massive amount of grit and gunk from the road.  You think normal rim brake stopping sucks in the rain, you should hear him complain when we’re out and getting wet.  This is a huge negative for the placement of the rear brake – enough that I’d never buy a bike with the rear brake at the bottom bracket.

Now, Trek has masterfully addressed this concern with the Madone 9 series:

Madone_9_9_H2_Compact

They got around the rear brake cable issue by making their own proprietary brake that works just like the normal road bike rim brake but with the cable coming out of the seat tube, making it a center-pull brake.  Quite ingenious actually.  This works, of course, because of the seat mast rather than seat post…  In any event, if I had to guess, there’s a reason they moved away from the cleaner look of the bottom bracket mounted brake:  Because it’s actually a bad place to put a brake.

That said, there’s one more innovation I wanted to point out:  Moving the front brake to the back of the fork:

2016-giant-propel-advanced-sl-team-dyra-ace-red-white-blue

This is also becoming rather popular (or hiding the brake in the fork for Time Trial bikes)…  I have no opinion on this, other than to say it looks a little cleaner than the normal location.  Whichever is the case, it seems to me, the fork would actually protect the brake from grime, behind the fork (though I do wonder how well the cable pull works in real-world conditions).

In any event, you might want to reconsider a bike with a bottom bracket location for the brake if you’re going to be riding in wet conditions a lot…  On the other hand, if it’s going to be your sunshine only bike, just set the rear brake a little wider than normal and ride that ride with a smile…  It’s all good.

My goodness, I almost forgot!  The new Venge Vias (I’m obviously biased):

New Venge Pro Vias

While I have my reservations about the looks of the stem/steering tube interface, the brake placements, both, are awesome and incredibly innovative and that got the rear brake up out of the muck…  While I haven’t ridden a Vias, we should all know by now how I feel about my Venge…  If I had an extra $12,000 to blow, that bike would be sitting in my bike room right now.  Pure Awesome.  Or would I get the Madone?

Maybe I should spend all winter in the office, make a ton of money and buy ’em both, yeah?  Somehow I think Mrs. Bgddy would have a problem with that.

Ah, He’s a Brilliant One….

I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn’t happen in other countries.

Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America.

On the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting during which, three lives were lost.

The irony, of course there’s irony, is that he uttered this nonsense in, of all places, France – where just three weeks earlier a mass-shooting claimed lives 43 times that in Colorado.

You say potatoe, dumbass.

The Best Aero Race Bike (for the money) on the Market?

I’ve got just shy of $5,000 into my Venge.  Now, let me be very clear here, I love that bike – it is one with my @$$, as we say. 

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The Venge being at one with...

That fact notwithstanding, I was flipping through a recent buyer’s guide (Road Bike Action Magazine) and one of the bikes stood out as a stellar deal…  So much so, I can’t believe its price-point – I’m almost feeling a little bummed.

A full aero race bike, electronic Ultegra Di2 shifting, carbon frame and fork, 55 mm carbon/alloy aero wheels, aero front brake… For $4,000!

The Giant Propel Advanced 0:

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Now, to be honest, that paint job is crap, but still, $4,000? That’s an awesome deal right there. Especially incredible is that for my extra grand, I’ve got Shimano 105 components where the Propel has electronic Ultegra – an astounding upgrade for less cash

There’s a catch though. From appearances they produced a great aero bike for a fantastic price… Any guesses at the cost?

Weight. I’d almost guarantee it. From what I’ve been able to find on the web, the bike is 20 pounds, possibly more (I saw one comment that suggested as much as 24 pounds but I seriously doubt that). Folks, if correct, that’s 1-1/3 of my Venge’s svelte 16-1/2 pounds… Even if it’s only 20 pounds, I’m here to tell you, except on flat ground or descents, that 3-1/2 pounds matters.

Now, for certain, I know that the Propel Advanced 0 has an alloy steerer rather than carbon. Also, the wheels are going to be on the heavier side, so it makes sense that it would push 20 pounds.

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It really comes down to picking your poison. My Venge, with its extensive upgrades (handlebar, stem, crank and wheels) comes in at $5,000 (actually a little less) but my wheels are decidedly not aero. They’re decent enough hoops and exceptionally light, but they’re not Rolf Prima’s either. On the other hand, one could pick up the Giant, pocket a grand and end up with a decent set of aero wheels too, you just have a little more weight to lug up hills…

Here’s the dirty little secret though: I don’t use my aero bike in the manner for which it was intended. I climb with that bad boy. I take that bike up hills that would make old ladies weep for their rocking chair, that would have average cyclists swapping out my crank for a compact or, God forbid, a triple. In other words, where I’m concerned, weight matters. Though it has been said, by people far more knowledgeable than I in these matters that aero trumps weight, except in the mountains.

With that last tidbit said and excepted, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, the Giant Propel Advanced 0 could be the best aero race bike for the money on the market. Hands down.