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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Jesus Built My Road Bike; My Love Affair with Speed… and a Specialized Venge

So there was only one thing that I could do
Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long

One of my best riding buddies, Jonathan, just picked up a 2012 Venge, and got a smokin’ deal on it… Then he went to work on it. The bar tape is new, the wheels are new, even the drivetrain is new (it had SRAM Red and was upgraded to eTap).

That got me to thinking about mine, of course… because, like Jonathan’s Venge, mine is far from stock. The frame, fork, and chain rings are about the only original parts on the bike. The saddle is the same model as the original, but a year older… it matches the color scheme a little better.

I ended up taking the Venge out the other day for what was supposed to be a recovery ride day – typically not a good idea because I have a tendency to push the speed a little too much to be able to call it a “recovery” ride. My target, as I was standing in the driveway waiting for traffic to clear was 19 (ish) miles at 17-1/2-mph… I ended up doing 19.75 in just over an hour (19.3-mph average when the dust cleared).  So much for a recovery ride.

Everything on my Venge is in perfect working order. Nothing squeaks or creaks (with the exception of the cleats if I forget to lube them up now and again). When I get out of the saddle, the only sound is the whoosh – whoosh – whoosh distinctive to carbon fiber wheels and the subtle hiss of tires on asphalt. The shifts are clean and crisp. My Venge is a lot like a fifteen pound Ferrari.

In addition, everything on my Venge is color coordinated as perfectly as I can get it.  I went through a great deal of effort and money to make sure everything was right… and anything that was only close got changed out.  From the brakes, to the saddle, and the bottle cages to my Garmin, everything was chosen to get that bike as close to stylistically perfect (without going overboard to gaudy, say by adding red bar tape and red cable housing…).  I did the best I could with the money I had.

The Specialized Venge is the best-represented make and model on our Tuesday night club ride by more than threefold, and for good reason.  The Venge, especially the first generation, is the quintessential aero race bike.  Pure racing geometry, stiff as a board, exceptionally light at the Ultegra+ model (mine is 15 pounds – 16 with pedals and cages included), the Venge is all go and no slow, baby.

My Venge is no longer the newest, most “aero” thing on the road… but it’s hella-fast and it’s me, right down to the red and black, purposely mismatched carbon fiber bottle cages.

Standing there, sweating in my driveway, uploading my ride from my Garmin to the interwebs, I couldn’t help but think back to one of my favorite Ministry songs…

Jesus built my road bike
It’s a love affair
Mainly Jesus and my Venge

TNCR Back in the Saddle; A Little More Work than I’d Hoped…

I had visions of coming back from a week’s vacation with rested legs and a good bit of want to, ready to kick some butt on Tuesday night. I’d visualized it. I could actually see it….

And then, reality. I thought rested legs would make up for taking the week off (and the several extra pounds I’m carrying). I was mistaken.

The wind was pretty tough last night, so we started out fairly slow, thankfully. I was almost getting a little antsy when we turned north and things got lively with a bit of a cross tailwind. Then we had a long slog southwest into a fairly ugly cross-headwind. Again, at times the pace-line slowed to a point I got antsy, but then a couple of hitters would get up front and we’d be back to normal again.

Coming into the first sprint I don’t even remember how things shook out, but I came across the line second. I went about 30 seconds too early and ended up running out of gas before the line.

After the intermediate sprint we had a nice tailwind and we took advantage. And I was starting to wear down. The week off was taking a toll.

The next six miles were spent in a cross tailwind, and we were holding a decent pace between 23 & 26-mph. A mile before the sprint, Dave Fej., one of the A guys who rides with us on hot days, pulled alongside me and offered for he and another to lead the group out if I’d just let Justin come up…. a guy can’t argue with that! The two led the group out, accelerating from 24-mph to 32… and when it was time to jump, I just didn’t have the “want to” to bring it home. Second again.

Still, as fat as I feel right now, it was a great day and I gave a good effort. It was good to be back on my bike again.

Best Vacation Evah! And the Diet Started Yesterday.

It’s been quiet over here in Fit Recovery land for a reason… I was away with my wife and kids, and my wife’s family on a cruise to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, Belize (you better Belize it), and Cozumel (Cancun for us).

I didn’t write a thing for a week. I also did no work. For one full week, plus a day, I spent a grand total of 1 minute 13 seconds on the phone. I’ve never been so fortunate on vacation… not that I can remember, anyway.

Sadly, I brought a little more home than some fantastic photos… the food on the cruise was so good I brought home a couple more than a few extra pounds. I’ve got some work to do.

Thankfully, I had a break in the daily rain and got a nice little 18 miler in last evening. I’d skipped breakfast and had a sensible lunch so all that was left was a non-ridiculous dinner. Mrs. Bgddy made her most excellent chili. A bowl and I was off to bed.

It’s good to be back and getting into the swing of things again, but that was one heck of a vacation.

Only a few more weeks on the out-of-town job, so I’m hoping to get back to a more regular schedule soon.

All photos taken by me, with my Galaxy S9 in a Lifeproof case, underwater. I’ve never experienced a leak, though I did wreck the face on a rock on the last excursion of the trip, swimming in a cave… and Lifeproof replaced the face as a part of the warranty. Folks, the quality stands up to the name.

You’d Better Be Fast When…

I’m nervous this may not have been the best idea I’ve ever had… but its badassedness can’t be argued against.

Special thanks to my friend, McMike who gave me the decal after our most awesome Friday Forty in the sun.

TNCR: The Need for Speed Edition

First, allow me the dalliance of commending our B Group of cyclists. We have had our challenges, but I consider myself truly blessed and fortunate to ride with the group I do. What an amazing group of people.

With my two-hour commute I no longer can make the group warm-up. Instead of seven easy miles with a group of five or six, I’m relegated to a quick two miles to spin my legs up. And I’d taken Monday off because I was just plain tuckered out. My legs were not happy when I pulled into the parking lot to await the start.

Jonathan and I took the lead out and slowly got the group up to speed.  I’d just swapped saddles back and forth with the Trek and was pleased to have gotten the Venge’s position perfect without the need for a fitting (good thing, too, it would have been a long 30 miles had I gotten it wrong).  I’d gotten the impression I was good on the short warm-up, but you never really know until you’re under full power….

We were at a perfect 75° with a barely there breeze, and after the first mile the pace… well, it really wasn’t that impressive.  We’d taken it up to 22 but the group slowed up a bit.  There were a few fast miles, but there were quite a few slow as well.  We spent the first two-thirds of the ride below our normal average, but we ticked up a bit from 20.3-mph to 20.8.  We got through the hills well with a little bit of a tailwind and were sitting just below 21 with 8 miles and some change to go.

The next eight miles were blistering, and as much fun as I’ve had on a bike this year.  I didn’t take either sprint, but I was a hell of a lead-out for each one.  I took the pace to 30-mph on the first and just over 30 for the second after sitting on Dave and Sherry’s tandem wheel.  The final few miles were some of the most exceptional cycling we’d ever done as a B Group – we averaged over 26-mph.  We finished with a 21.8-mph average (some had 21.9).

And like that, we were done.  Garmins were switched off or over to new cool-down rides, we sat up, and took it easy for the last mile back.

When we pulled into the parking lot I couldn’t help but feel lucky to be a part of the group we’ve got.  At the same time, I was happy for all of the work I’d put in to not only be a part of that group, but to be a contributing member.  My friends, there’s nothing safe about shooting down the road at 30-mph on bicycles with only inches between wheels.  It’s not for everyone.  For those who can enjoy it, the experience is amazing.  I’m smiling just writing this post.

It’s about as good as it gets.

Cycling Sacrilege: Making the Heavy Bike Lighter and the Light Bike Heavier… On Purpose

Cycling sacrilege is right!  But let me go back a bit, to bring this home correctly.  You know me, I don’t do much half-assed…

Five months ago, a friend gave me a Selle Italia carbon saddle.  It’s ridiculously, outrageously light.  It also required a special saddle collar to fit on my Venge so I tried it on my Trek first, just to see what I thought until the proper collar I ordered for the Venge came in.  The saddle was magic on the Trek.  It was so perfect, I almost cancelled the collar and left the saddle on the Trek.  But I had to try it on the Venge.  I had to.  After all, an ultra-light saddle would perfectly round out that spectacular bike (it also took the bike from the high 15 pound range to the mid-15’s).

Well, a month(ish) into that experiment and I didn’t like the result.  Most of my problems are likely due to fit, but I’ve adjusted the saddles and I just can’t quite get to the bottom of the issue… if you know what I mean.  The saddle on my 5200 was spectacular.  On the Venge, it was a little closer to “meh”.

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Over the last month, as I’ve started ramping up the miles, I just couldn’t get the Selle Italia saddle to a position I liked as much as I had on the Trek.  I hemmed and hawed for at least two weeks about switching them back.  Then, with my second big tour of the year looming, I decided to switch them back – against every weight weenie fiber in my body.  Unfortunately, a flared up hip made the decision a little easier.  After changes are made, sometimes it takes a good bit of miles to really evaluate the change.  I really started feeling the pain last week, maybe two weeks ago, butt in hindsight only.  With two hundred mile days in a row looming, I had to change something before that sore hip became an actual injury.

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And just like that…

My first ride after having swapped saddles was a big one – go big or go home (or both in this case).  Typically, it’s a little stupid not adviseable to swap out a saddle and head out for a big mile ride, but if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know me; overconfident in my mechanical abilities, and often lucky enough to be right (or at least close enough for government work).

Last week, my Garmin died toward the end of a 65 mile ride so I had my buddy, Chuck add me in to his for Strava.  He finished that ride with 71 miles, though, so I had some penance miles to make up.  Well, I got four of those done on Tuesday night but I still had two left, so I decided to make them up checking my saddle position yesterday morning before our ride.  It felt great so I rolled with it.

Fourteen miles into the real ride and I knew I’d missed the mark, but just barely.  At our first stop, because I was smart enough to bring an Allen wrench with me, I lowered the saddle by a millimeter.  And there it stayed for the remaining 64 miles.  Amazingly, the saddle felt like butter – much better than it did on the Venge.  I have no idea what gives, but I really don’t care at this point.  My hip soreness even let up after 20 miles.

My 1999 Trek 5200 is now down to the low 18 pound range and My Venge is still technically a 15 pound bike – and both bikes are now wildly comfortable.  I made the light bike heavier and the heavier bike lighter…

Sometimes you have to go to any length for things to work out right in the universe – or buttiverse as it is in this case.  My heinie is happier… and I’ll stop there, before going over the line – or down the crack.  In this case, even though that badass (there I go again) Selle Italia saddle belongs on the race bike, it just doesn’t work.  No sense in trying to stick with it till I was injured.

And incidentally, with the Specialized Romin saddle back on the Venge, the good bike is vastly more comfortable as well.  I did two more penance miles on the Venge to make sure I’d gotten that one right as well.  I can live with an extra 110 grams (a quarter-pound) for a peppier posterior.

Tuesday Night Club Ride; I Feel Lucky Every Time I Get to Throw My Leg Over the Top Tube Edition

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Last night was a particularly awesome Tuesday Night Club Ride. It wasn’t faster than other editions, it was just…. right. Everyone worked together, even Time Trial guy behaved properly – and it was a little on the windy side, to boot.

Coming out of the egregiously long headwind section we still had a 20-1/2-mph average. We were all working together and everything was smooth. That’s how a club ride should be, by the way, smooth and predictable.

We paid for the second half tailwind with the first half of the ride, and it was, simply stated, a blast. In many cases we surged past 29-mph and I took the first sprint, after sucking an enormous amount of tandem wheel, at more than 34-mph. The tandem I’d ridden in lost steam way too early and I could feel the sprinters behind me getting restless so I did something entirely inadvisable; I shot off the front something like a half-mile out. I took it from 29-mph to 35 within a few pedal strokes and kept the power on as long as I could. Coming up to the City Limits sign I was out of gas about 100 yards out. I hazarded a look back – I was free and clear by something like four or five bike lengths so I tried my best to maintain my speed – I think I crossed the line at 32.

We regrouped in town and prepared for the home stretch, eight more miles of tailwind and cross-tailwind.

We’d lost a few but still had a solid group and the pace for the last few miles grew steadily till it peaked just shy of “hectic” at 28-mph. We rolled hard for the City Limits sign, but tandems were dropping off. I was on the wheel of one tandem, then another, then one last and we were still a quarter-mile from the finish. As that last tandem petered out, I jumped, just like I’d done 8 miles earlier. Way too soon, but I was either going to double up the sprints or go down in a blaze trying. I went from 28 to just shy of 35-mph (56 kph) in four rotations of the pedals. I had my head down and ass high, grinding on the pedals for all I was worth. I left it all on the road and when I looked back after running out of gas I had enough of a gap I could sit down and pedal easy across the line. We finished with a 21.9-mph average.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I enjoy riding my Venge. I feel lucky every time I throw a leg over the top tube. It’s that nice a ride… super fast, responsive, yet compliant in the right places for a smooth ride. Every day on my bike is a good day.