Friday, July 29, 2011

Aerodynamic Waterbottle Positioning.

As some of you might recall, I have lowered my downtube waterbottle cage by mounting the top hole in the cage on the bottom frame hole, and zip-tying the bottom of the cage to the frame. So is it really faster? The Cervelo engineers think so.

Check out this picture of Thor Hushvod's S5 Cervelo. The downtube has an extra waterbottle hole (braze-on?, are you kidding me? What a misnomer!!!) below the top 2 just to allow the cage to be moved down if using only one bottle.

I have a Profile Designs seat rack for 2 extra bottles, so I have removed the seat tube bottle cage. (more aero btw, than the downtube bottle in its normal position)

Check it out.

If an S5 rider is only using one water bottle cage, Cervélo found it was much faster when mounted lower on the down tube. That's what that third braze-on is for.
Yes, I have a "princess and the pea" feel for a bike, but IMHO, this made more difference than the last 10mm of handlebar drop. The reason is simple.

The air up top is still pretty clean, even behind the headtube, but down near the crank it is hopelessly burbled up, so might as well jam the bottle in there. In its usual position it destroys the clean airflow up top.

I was up after midnight last night working on my Opus Magnum of ride fuel, so not forgotten, just a really tough post to write. Oceans and oceans of data, most of it very interesting to me personally, but overwhelming too, so I am having to make hundreds and hundreds of decisions about what to leave out , and what to put in.

I've made a LOT of progress though. After 12 hrs maxing out 3 computers here I have the carbohydrate structure part pretty much done. Now for the human body's digestion part, and then some discussion. 40% done? Man, I'm tired. Going for a ride tonight!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Techie Tuesday - Microsoft Ate my Homework

Lots of computer problems here this week, so not wanting to invite marauding hordes of malware into my life, I am tending to LOTS of system software issues at the moment.

What's on tap for next week though is really special. It's a presentation on the length and structure of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate glucose polymers go from a length of 1 (glucose) to a length of over 2 million (cotton, and some very special ride fuel).  Shorter is better, right? That's what the people selling brown rice syrup and maltodextrin keep telling us. Are they wrong? If so, why?

Why isn't pure glucose the ultimate ride fuel? and how can anything have a glycemic index higher than pure glucose? Things worth knowing. I'll also explain the science behind the glycemic index, which is so much in the news these days, and deserves to be.

I know I've promised this before, but small libraries have been written on this subject, and it's the "science", bold or implied, behind millions of advertising dollars. All of this makes it very difficult to put in an intuitive presentation format. As my father used to say, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right". So be it.

See you all next week.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wheel Lust

It took me 3 days to recover from that really hard ride on Monday morning, and the fatigue was just crushing. Riding with the slow group, I am just bored silly, so I really want to be able to ride with the fast group and NOT end up crushed for days.

I bought my OpenPro/Shimano 6700 wheels for durability, and love them for that, but pushing 32 spokes front and back on a shallow rim is adding a lot of work. Added to a right bundle branch block, which makes the left and right side of  my heart beat more and more out of synch as my pulse rate goes up, it adds up to me needing a more slippery front wheel.

By the time the air gets to the back wheel it's so hopelessly broken up that aero rear wheels aren't very effective - especially on a non-aero frame. For the front wheel however, in nice clean air, it's very effective. To make wheels more aero you need fewer, aero spokes, and 30mm or more of rim depth.

I've been looking at wheels from 30mm to 80mm, and given I don't have a spare front wheel yet, think the Mavic Cosmic Elite might just do the trick. At around $200 it should make just enough difference on the flats to keep me safe and sane.

Of course, if I had more money to play with, I'd opt for the Cosmic Carbone SL, but at almost $600 I'd need more of a reason than 5-7 BPM on club rides to justify the expense.  Still, when my lottery ticket wins, I'm there! (SRAM also makes interesting S60 60mm and S80 80mm offerings, but they are heavier and more expensive)

5-7 BPM may not seem like much, but it would drop me down out of Zone 5, and I know from a lot of experience, that staying in Zone 5 for more than a few minutes dramatically adds to my recovery time. Of course, I could just ask the guys to slow down... like THAT's going to happen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

River of Time

Things change. Tires, bar tape, bike clubs, and pro riders. I've been riding 100 mile weeks again, and more of it with a bike club than in 2 years now. Lance Armstrong was in Davis last weekend in support of that city's LiveStrong fundraising ride. First time since the ATOC in 2009. My friend Jodi was there and really psyched!

Jens Voigt in perfect climbing form. One of the true giants of the sport.
It's mid-July, and the Tour de'France is in full swing. I was so looking forward to the RadioShack team crushing the Pyrenees and hoping Chris Horner would have an epic tour and maybe win it all. Their luck has just been atrocious though, so I find myself rooting for Big George and Cadel Evans' BMC team, and hoping they can punish the wheel-sucking Schleck-Tard team, and put Contador to rest.

I will really miss George Hincapie and Kloden when they retire. True hard men of the sport. I think this photo of Klodi says it all. If we'e talking about the greats, I just have to mention Jens Voigt as well. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying Thor Hushovd's reign at the top, and Cav's peevishly quick smile when winning.

Andreas Klöden : Hard man  
 I had a really wonderful ride on the 4th of July with the Sacramento Bike Hikers, was able to ride near the front on both legs of the roughly out and back route, and really enjoyed the company, route and pace.

On Monday we did a breakfast ride, and it was so cool I wore arm warmers both ways. Some good climbing, including Iron Point Rd, and some of the bike paths and neighborhoods where the views are magnificent and the houses are paid for by Intel stock options..

The Tourmalet circa 1937
On the way home we averaged a bit over 20mph for about 12 miles heading into a 8-12mph breeze, and I put my aerobars to good use pulling a fast group of 5 into the wind in the most exposed area of the bike trail. I got some compliments on that pull, and was a bit puzzled by that until I looked at the Garmin trace. Instead of a spiky saw-tooth my pull was nice and even.

I had to dig really deep after 2.5 hours of riding to keep the hammer down, but was very happy my legs felt so strong so late in the ride. Also nice that we started 10 minutes behind the main group of 30 riders and passed them doing about 23 mph on a long straight stretch.

I'm still a little tired though from that one, as I did about 45 minutes above LT, and 30 minutes of that at better than 90% of max HR. I think next time I'll stay with the peleton on the way out, and hammer home. Mostly though, SBHs are about riding. Just putting in a lot of miles, and not gear, or egos (well, not too much, anyway). They also put on their annual picnic last weekend and I met a lot of my FB friends in person for the 1st time.

So what happened to my old bike club, Hammerin Wheels? Not really sure, but they seem to have imploded. Not many rides and all very poorly attended. I put a lot of time and effort into teaching members there about gear and nutrition, so as sour as the vibe got to be there, I'm a little sad to see it come to this.

A couple of panic stops (idiot peds on the ARPT) ripped through the tread, and by the end of our speed run Monday, the chords were showing through on my back tire. I used up a gift card at Amazon, and dividends at Performance Bike shop, and put Conti GP 4000s on the front, and when they arrive, Ultra Gatorskins on the back.

If I am still getting flats in back I may move up to the Gatorskin Hardshells. I like the pointed crown on the GP 4000s better than the Michelin Pro3 Race I've been running for 3 yrs now. Very sticky rubber too. Like super glue sticky. Will have to see how they perform.

Conti has an asymmetrical Attack/Force tire combo with a 22mm in front and a 24mm in back, with construction tweaked for turning and pushing respectively, and it got me to wondering how much sense running identical tires front and back really makes. I think I may have flatted once in 3 years in front, and 2-3 dozen times in back. I also can wear through at least 3 back tires before the front goes, so I'm going to try tailoring the tires to the task and see how that works.

As expected, I have had to move the shifters enough to require retaping the bars, and after going from blue sidewalls to black on the tires, I want more viz than royal blue and black dapple provides, so I am going back to blazing Ferrari Red. The Black & Blue tape was Profile Designs, and it has no sticky on the back. Weird, but it did allow me to move the tape up a bit to follow the shifters.

The red tape is a new up-scale tape from Performance, which admittedly is a little like saying upscale Yugo, but I ride in the aerobars so much the bar tape isn't that critical. (although I am riding on the blocks a lot more now riding with the SBH, so wrist swelling is an issue again) At any rate, it seems worth a try, and I like the fog-horn subtlety of all that red up front.

Oh, I am absolutely swimming in my new PI Elite In-R-Cool shorts. I got back from the ride on the 4th of July and had to pull them up over my naval to get them fully stretched out. I don't know if they've stretched or not, but they are causing my back muscles to cramp that far up on my kidneys. (aside from being completely ridiculous) I've received a very strong recommendation for Assos bib shorts, so I'll try those after returning the PI shorts.

Finally, it looks like the Specialized Avatar Gel seat has done the trick. Yea!

Descending the Tourmalet at 60+ mph. God's roller coaster!
So that's where I'm at, rowing along on my river of time. Keeping at it. Staying healthy. Learning, and stopping to smell the rubber along the way.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fastener DuJour - the Visclamp

Happy Birthday America! Love your spacious skies, purple mountain's majesty, fruited plains, and amber waves of grain. So much so that I've been backpacking, camping, bike hiking and snow-camping in them for about 40 years now, so imagine my surprise to learn the even Google, the keeper of all knowledge, doesn't know what a visclamp is! :-O

I happen to  have a few, left to me by my old friends Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. In service to all mankind, or at least the part of mankind that still fiddles with tents and tarps, here is a picture of a visclamp.

Alas, there appear to be none available anymore, at any price. If you have any, NEVER lend them out. You'll NEVER get them back. EVER. They sprout legs and crawl off in ways that would challenge the creativity of a small army of Hollywood script writers.

Proof-of-life photo of a pair of visclamps who floundered en'route to the Ark

The ball is pushed up through the fabric and the large hole, and then the clamp is slid along its rails until the ball is over the small hole, whereupon the guy line is routed through the large hole and wala, instant movable grommet. Think "super-duty garter belt fastener".  (they're still making those)

They're absolutely bomb-proof fasteners, and will hang on to fabric or random places on tents with crazy tenacity. There are some plastic do-dads that attempt to do the same job, and if you're lucky enough to always be latching onto ripstop nylon, or some other crazy tough fabric, they'll do. But in high winds and thin sheets, these babies are the only option.