Aero Road Bikes and Free Speed: Free Speed May Cost an Arm and a Leg, but It Is Real.
You may hear, if you are a budding cyclist, that free or aerodynamic speed is a myth, that any cyclist can ride with the big dogs on just a slightly upgraded Specialized Allez. If, like me, you’ve been cycling for a while already, you’ve heard it for years. Say take the base model Allez as an example, or a Trek 1 series. The only additional thing they say you’ll need is some extra “want to”.
Sounds about right, yeah? The cycling industry creates it’s own need for bikes that range in price from $3,000 all the way to $12,500 when you can get the same from half the lower amount if you just push a little harder on the pedals and those who actually believe in “speed you can buy” are all rubes.
Of course, that wasn’t enough to stop me from dropping as much coin as I could on my bike but even I was a bit of a skeptic, I just liked the look of my bike.
The operative word in that last sentence is “was”. Then I read this article from outside magazine.
Read the article yourself, read the whole thing. If read with an open mind and you want to ride faster, you might just change your mind on that skepticism.
An average of the data from all 12 riders showed a collective 2-minute improvement with the ViAS and aero gear.
That’s over just 11.9 miles, and the use of the word “collective” in the quote can be misleading. It’s a poor choice of words in my opinion as each tester crossed the finish line an average of two minutes faster using aero gear over a comparably equipped non-aero bike and standard kit. Two minutes. That’s huge! It is anything but free, but it is real. Still, gotta pass on the skin suit. Some $#!+ a mid-40’s guy can’t get away with.
Venge Corner: A New Series on Fit Recovery
Jason, a fellow Venge owner, just today suggested he’d like to send me a photo of his Venge but lamented the fact that he couldn’t post it in a comment. I fixed that by sending him my email address and offered to give his photos their own post. Thus was spawned the idea for Venge corner… This is Jason’s Venge (and she’s a beaut):
So please, if you own a Venge, snap a few photos and send them to BDJ.fitrecovery (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll post them here for you.
This is My Bike… This is My Bike on Drugs…
This is my bike on my front porch:
It’s mine. It’s bought and paid for. Cash on the counter, walked out the door. Done. Nobody can take it away, there are no payments to miss.
There are many people out there who will never know what a stack of 50 Hundred Dollar bills feels like, let alone plunk much of it on the counter in exchange for a bicycle. I did though. Because I could. It was the first major purchase I’d ever made that didn’t have to be financed.
This is my bike, if I were on drugs (or far more likely, still a practicing drunk):
That’s a new bike, it costs less than $90. Oh, there would be a bike but that’s only because I wouldn’t have had a license to drive… and because all of my money would go to staying loaded. As for a front porch, I can’t even fathom… I doubt I’d be living in a cardboard box but it wouldn’t be good. I was out of decent options 25 years ago, I can’t even imagine how bad it would be now. I can say this; It’s spooky. Of course, that is to say if I were still alive at 45. The doctor’s prognosis wasn’t that good before I quit – he said if I’d kept up I would die of cirrhosis before my 30th birthday.
There’s another dimension to this story though.
I have no one to blame but myself for being a drunk or for the fact that I ended up with one foot in the gutter. If I were dishonest, I could put it on my debacle at college or that one time my mom sat me on the toilet seat sideways. Oh, wait! I could blame it on my genes, or would that be my jeans?
There are a growing number of people out there who would complain, without even knowing anything about me, that nobody but a racer should need a bike as nice as mine, that I should be paying more tax rather than enjoying a Saturday ride on something so pricey.
I have had that suggested by a tag along in our group once. He was sore that his son had college debt while I was able to ride a nice bike. Seriously.
Ironically, two days later he told me about his plans for building a pole barn in his back yard, that they’d already broken ground on it. Oddly, the budget on his pole barn was more than six times the cost of my bike. In his twisted world he needed a $35,000 pole barn but my bike was beyond the pale.
People such as these, who live by envy, egomaniacs with an inferiority complex, are dispicable. They are a cancer to freedom and decency the world over.
I am normally quite mild mannered, slow to anger, until someone who knows nothing about me tries to explain why he or she better knows how to spend the money I’ve toiled for.
Ladies and gentlemen, the person who made that comment to me got both proverbial barrels. I hammered him so hard he was left to mumbling, “There are two sides to every story.”
To which I responded, “Yeah, my right side and your wrong.”
Such is the politics of greed, envy and ignorance. Don’t stand for it. Unless the guy saying it carries a walking stick, has a beard and wears a simple robe and wears sandals… and goes by Jesus. Otherwise, check to make sure you’re not standing in a glass house holding a rock, first.
What I would Do with $1.5 Billion
It’s a little late, but what would you do if you had hit the lotto for a cool Billion and a half?
Well, first things first, I’d call an Estate manager.
I live in a humble home. I like it that way, and as long as my wife were willing to accept an addition and a small (heated) pole barn, that’s just how it would stay. In fact, we could afford a bigger home now but I truly feel it would be a waste of money. This, likely, wouldn’t change but I can virtually guarantee a vacation home on the Ocean in Florida would be absolutely necessary.
After that, I’d sell one of my companies and buy the local bike shop (and hire someone to watch it). I’d take a dollar for salary and let the employees split the profits (the more they made, the more they’d make). That would give me a place to work for five or six months out of the year without being beholden to be there when I’d rather be out cycling.
Then there would be his & hers Corvette Stingrays (with pop tops rather than rag tops) and his and hers Chevy Traverses. Red for me, black for my wife. That would about do it for me… I’d give a million (plus taxes) to a few choice friends and family members.
But first, there would be some bikes to acquire. In no order, because they’d all come roughly at the same time…
With a different paint job though. I can’t disrespect the World Champion’s rainbow.
The new Madone 9.9 goes without saying, but then it gets fun…
That’s the Colnago-Ferrari.
Then, obviously, a Lamborghini-BMC.
And a McClaren Venge…
And a Cervelo S5
Then I’d get anything my wife and daughters wanted for their riding pleasure, and a custom covered trailer/camper for hauling the bikes and road trips… and finally, I’d buy my close group of cycling buds the road bike of their choice.
Then I’d form a foundation for my wife to run (because that’s what she wants), and a real one where I would use my wealth to do good, not one of those Political foundations where they use it to grow richer and do the league minimum to stay legal.
After all of that I’d retire to being a man of leisure.
Cycling Etiquette: How to Properly Fart on a Club Ride. Seriously. Well, Not Really Serious. Butt Funny.
If you cycle enough, if you turn big miles at a high pace, and eat well, you will find yourself gassy from time to time. It’s the nature of the beast. Why this is I don’t know but I know it is. I was a runner before I ever picked up a bicycle and while I was what we like to call “regular”, I was never all that gassy. Fast-forward five years and I’m almost comical.
Anyway, there is an etiquette to flatulence in a club ride. The only thing worse than making one of your friends ride through your noxious ass air is sucking their wheel without contributing to the effort. Ironically the two, ass air and wheel suckers, are intrinsically linked.
Allow me the opportunity to explain. In ridiculously technical terms, except “ass air” of course.
First and foremost, after you’ve been filling your lungs for a couple of hours and especially if you ride with a low cockpit, you will eventually find yourself having to break wind. Know this: After a decent amount of time in the saddle, you won’t get away with one of those gentle, lady farts. You’re gonna move some air.
In your favor, however, will be the wind whistling by… take advantage of this. It’s awfully tough to blast one loud enough to get over that. Now for the etiquette part. Fart at the back of the pack. Take a good pedal or two to build momentum, rise out of the saddle to avoid trapping it, and let it go. You’re momentum should mean you have plenty of speed to stay connected to the pack.
This is an unwritten rule of cycling and to break it is to be what I believe they call a twatwaffle. Say what you want, this is one of those you simply can’t argue with. There’s no, “Oh, those rules are bullshit, they’re just suggestions”. Nope, this is pretty much one of those “It’s a suggestion… In the same way they recommend you have a parachute on when you jump out of a plane”.
Now, there is one instance to break the wind… err rule. The aforementioned wheel sucker.
If he is really a close friend, my buddy Phill is a good example, then you either waive him up in front and let him know you’ll take your spot back in a second… Drop back, float that air biscuit and take your spot back. Or just point and pull over toward the middle of the road, arch your back and point your sphincter toward the middle of the road (the more you can look like a cartoon character with a pained expression the better) and let ‘er rip. Then take your place ahead of him again.
See, Phill is one of those rare birds… He will hide at the back for 90 miles then, when everyone is hit, he’ll charge to the front and pull the group home, so even though he’s suckin’ wheel like a bandit, you know he’s going to do you proud when it counts. You don’t want to foul that!
On the other hand, there’s that guy you never invite to the private rides because he’s a dick. Well, when you find that guy hiding, line him up like you’re lining up a torpedo tube and let him have it.
If nothing else, it’ll be well worth the laugh with the rest of the guys at dinner time.
So endeth the lesson on club ride flatulence. Do it at the back, unless he deserves it… In that case, fire in the hole!
This is me, though not after lining someone up… but that’s what the smile would look like if I had.
[ED. Now, you may have noticed I did not mention women in this post. That is because, even though we are cyclists and we absolutely love a good laugh, we are gentlemen first… That, and I didn’t think there could possibly be a feminist who would call me a sexiest pig for not including the oft required he/she or him/her when it comes to launching a butt torpedo in someone’s face. Please don’t prove me wrong.]
A Note to Bike Manufacturers from Your Base On Internal Cables: Technology is Good Enough We Should Never Have to See A Rear Brake Cable Again.
To be fair as far as my personal opinion goes, external cable routing can be “cool” in light of recent leaps in internal cable routing with one exception. The rear brake cable. We should never have to see this again:
Or far more egregious, this:
I am a fan of both Passoni and Ciocc bikes but the rear brake cable running along the top tube, especially along a beautifully curved compact top tube like the Ciocc above, should see its righteous end now that internal routing has been shown to work. Specialized is also guilty of this on their Secteur and Allez models, as is Trek, Cannondale and to an extent, Giant.
Ladies and gentlemen of all major manufacturers, there is one simple truth about the rear brake cable when it’s run along the top tube (besides the fact that it’s damn ugly): If you hope fans of the sport will ride your bikes hard, and you should, we sweat all over that top tube, and thus, the brake cable. The exposed part of the cable and the zerts that hold the housing ends rot and if not cleaned out regularly (every week or two) they can become so encrusted with sweat you actually have to beat the caps out with a freaking hammer (and a 2 mm Allen wrench). If that wasn’t enough, the cables develop a nice little coating of rust almost immediately, if not sooner. My friends, this simply does not need to be any longer. Please run the rear brake cable inside the frame from now on. We’d much rather just see top tube. Bow-chica-wow-wow.
Cycling: How I Train in the Winter to Maintain My 23 mph Average Come Summer
There is a short version of this post, but I’ll save that for the end.
While most folks are getting their New Year’s resolutions in order, or trying to figure out an easier softer way to meet the results they want with less work, I’m getting ready for next season. I take November through the end of December “off”. Off is in quotes because I still ride, I just don’t worry about getting out daily or average speed. I ride the mountain bikes a lot more and I just concentrate on having fun and being outside.
Come January 1st though, it’s on. I’m getting ready to hit the ground running come March. Two months is more than I need probably, but I’d rather be on the “Damn Jim, we’re just getting our Spring base miles in, slow down!” side of things…
This obviously means time spent on the human hamster wheel, also known as the trainer.
Now, most people are going to use their normal cruising gears while sweating on the floor. Look, riding the trainer sucks, and I’m not going to offer anything in this post that will make it easier, but I look at hamster season this way: All of my friends are doing it so if I choose not to, come March I’ll be pooched.
That said, I want to show you something but before I do, a caveat. I ride on a magnetic trainer. Between a wind and a fluid trainer. On the hardest setting of three. That said, if I want to keep any semblance of fitness, this is where I live through hamster season:
I ride that gear (if memory serves, that’s a 14) and the big 52 up front, at a 90 cadence or about 26 mph. If I want to take it easy I might take it up one gear to the 15 for a minute to rest… If I’m turning intervals it’s the hardest gear I’ve got (if I were riding my Trek I’d be 11, 12 and 13 with the big 52 up front).
The point is, there are only two times that the easier gears on the trainer are acceptable: Between intervals and on easy, recovery days.
Point is folks, there is a method to the madness. The pain and subsequent rubber-legs are temporary. It feels good the rest of the day. Also, riding on a trainer is way easier than riding outside so I push the hardest gears I can smoothly operate. The 13 and 14 tooth gears are just hard enough to keep me in shape for the coming season so come March, all I’ll need is a few weeks to go from a 30 to 60 mile ride, comfortably.
This is the only way I know to keep from going soft and riding to the best of my capability and willingness is always about trying to be willing to push a little harder.
So, the short version? Train harder in the winter than you will in the spring, just for shorter periods of time.
If you were expecting a puff piece with ten little tidbits that amount to peanuts and that you would forget by tomorrow anyway, sorry. This is a post on a no fluffy crap blog.
Ah, The Countdown Begins to My Biggest Mechanic’s Post Yet…
For those who weren’t aware, my 5200 is in for a new wardrobe. It used to look like this:
Yesterday evening it looks like this:
Now, if you thought, “Geez, that’s a real bummer, why didn’t he keep the original color?” You’re not alone. Several of my friends expressed a little bit of let down when I told them I was having it painted black.
Well, there are a few key reasons. First, the Trek is technically my rain bike – the bike I take out when nasty weather is expected. I like the bike, don’t get me wrong, but the Venge it ain’t. Having the bike repainted the same color requires an extra paint step and would have added another $75 – $100 to an already $410 paint job (not including my new Chris King Headset, add another $100)… in other words, I’ve got more than a few bucks going into this dealio. I have to keep it reasonable.
Finally, and this is the important part, let’s see if you can pick up on a theme here…
My “A” Road Bike:
My “A” Mountain Bike:
Can you guess the color of the decals on the Trek? If you guessed red, you’re right.
When this little adventure is done, the three bikes that I ride most often (7,513 of 7,533 miles last year) will be red on black.
Now, some of you may rightly charge, “Hey, put some color into it! Why not at the very least go black on red for the Trek?”
Well, you would have an excellent point and I honestly thought about going that way but in the end it just seemed too cool to match the three main bikes in my stable so that’s the way I went.
So what does this have to do with my biggest mechanic’s post to date? Well, I took the whole thing apart so, with the exception of the headset and bottom bracket (both of which require special tools that I don’t have and won’t buy), I’ve gotta put the whole thing back together. Stem to stern. Literally.
Stay tuned, the shop still has to get a hold of the decals and head badge before I can get it back.
Thank God for the UCI… Rarely, but when it comes to socks…
I am, and am not a big fan of the UCI, the governing body of professional bicycle road racing.
Some of their rules, a 14.9 pound minimum bike weight for instance, and their laughable defense of a rule that regularly has team mechanics adding lead tape and shot to the racer’s bikes so they make weight, is just silly. I wrote about that defense before, a while ago. It amounts to safety, that they feel bikes below 14.9 pounds aren’t safe… yet, and humorously, bikes below that limit are not only safe enough to race on, they’re safe enough to carry a pound of lead on them while being raced on just to make weight! Truly, it boggles the mind.
On the other hand, every once in a while they do get it right… Like when it comes to sock length.
I am not now, nor ever will be, a fan of compression socks worn with shorts. I know, runners of the world will condemn me for saying so but those stupid socks are ugly as hell and I will always laugh at people who race in them, let alone allow themselves to be photographed whilst wearing them… To me it’s like the 300 pound woman in Walmart (or far worse, a guy) wearing a full workout outfit with yoga pants and gulp, a thong, I don’t even know what you call it, overthingie. Dammit people, some $#!+ you just can’t unsee. I digress…
Compression socks, at least those ugly things that run up to the knee, are thankfully illegal in cycling. In fact, a sock cannot go beyond the midway point to the knee. Even with cycling fashion going north of a 5″ sock (I’m partial to 3″, 4″ and 5″) at least I can hope they will defend against compression socks entering the sport as vociferously as they do the 14.9 pound minimum weight of a bicycle.
To all of my compression sock wearing friends, dude, sorry. Can’t get past those gnarly looking things. It is what it is.
All images from The Sock Guy.