Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just go faster...

Going into lap two I was feeling slow and starting to think about going into control mode. As I rolled through the stat finish they yelled 22 minutes, that was the same as my first lap last week! I wasn't as slow as I felt so I tried to keep the tempo up. Then two things went threw my head in quick succession.

1. My daughters sweet little voice saying "Just go faster, Daddy" So simple a 5 1/2 year old can grasp it, if you want to do better just go faster. I laughed and thought yep it's that simple, I'll just pedal faster.
2. I thought about playing a Mario Kart racing game with my daughter before heading off to the race and picking a car that had better acceleration and not quite as much speed. I thought it's all about acceleration not just power.

So I whipped up my cadence and chased the rabbits. I started making up ground, the technical sections came easier (I still suck, but they were better). All because I was working on acceleration instead of trying to power through everything. Ahh revelations mid race!! I kept the gas on, the pedals spinin' and cruised through the last laps. I never quite caught back on to the chasers, but my lap times were much better than last week.

Despite felling much worse this week my overall time was minutes faster and my three lap times were very consistent. In fact my second lap was faster than the first despite the eye ball bleeding pace of the opening lap. So another week in the books. I worked on what I wanted, got the laps consistent and I was faster overall. Now I just have to find the leg speed to turn some bigger gears... it will come.

I learned to "Just go Faster" even if you aren't feeling it, sometimes acceleration is better than power and to listen to your children they may just be smarter than you.

savor the small stuff...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bigger and faster...

That was the theme this week at Wednesday Night The Races. The bigger turn out and everyone decided to throw down. I'll give you some digital views before I bore you with the details.

The uphill start!

About a mile of this to fight for your spot...
Before you enter the uber twisty singletrack.
No place to pass in the bar snatching ribbon of dirt.
Setting up for climb #2Climbin'. Half way up.A little false flat after the top of the climb (notice the very rare Wisconsin Gravel) before you hit some more twisty goodness.Then you drop back down the ski hill and start the loop over. This is the front side of climb #2.

The laps are only 4.11 miles, but typical of Midwestern single track it doubles back on itself so much that one section is nicknamed "Small Intestine".

This week the turn out was a little larger and we BLASTED out of the gate. No hole shot or pointy end this week. I was about 7-9, I think, going into the singletrack. That first mile after the climb is full out eye popping madness. A mad scramble for position going into the single track. I am still missing some single track mojo, but it is coming along. Stayed with the chasers again until climb #2 and away they went, not out of sight this week. I kept on the gas, inspite of feeling crappy-> strength training doing me in this week? And rolled by for lap 2...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So the Wednesday results from last week are up and I finished about where I thought I had. Seventh overall for the night and second in the 30-39 Men's division. Once again I am pleased with the results as all of those guys have been racing the WORS stuff already this year. My lap times were progressively slower, I'll have to work on that one tomorrow night. I have a tendency to back off a little bit once I am in no-mans-land and have given up the chase, this continues to be a big mental stumbling block for me. Still I would have needed 3 1/2 minutes to move into the top five overall. Right now is just about getting the hard efforts in the legs, building up, and trying to find some inner mental toughness.

can't wait to rev it up again tomorrow.


It certainly wasn't the 45 minute noodle ride, nor the 15 degree drop in temperature or 20+ mph increase in the wind during that ride that had me moaning - Functional strength training started yesterday. Ugh, this would fall into reason numero uno why I have a coach. I have fairly good idea of what I should do, but have someone else tell me what I must do makes all the difference in the world. I am how should I put this lazy, that is I tend to do the types of rides and workouts that I like and not necessarily the stuff I need to do to become fitter and faster, I think a lot of folks fall into this category. I really don't like functional core workouts, that is also why I have a very good friend for a coach - I know that if don't do what is expected I will get never ending shit, and he knows what is best for me. We have spent a lot of time on the bike together, he knows my strengths and weakness, especially my weaknesses.

Anyway lots of swiss ball based stuff and some bridges it was hard to make it through the entire workout, but I know it will pay off. So bring on the Functional Training I am ready to kick its ass.

enjoy the benefits of the "hard stuff"

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Change, and balance. They all go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. Adaptation to a training program requires a change of habits and a shift in the balancing act of life. I know I have adapted when sleep comes fast and deep, I awake when it is time to ride, and the legs are lighter. Change is small - a hour earlier here or there, one less snack during the day. The balance is hard wife, child and work all require a delicate touch. Each one needs attention and time is valuable, love and understanding rule in the world of balance and I am lucky enough to have that in abundance. It still requires a juggling of schedules that would make a clown dizzy. Spring is here, the blistering heat of Summer is far in the distance (at least in the Midwest) and the frigid cold of Winter is all but a memory. Make the most of your stolen minutes and hours to yourself...

enjoy the fresh legs, clean bike, and endless miles because they to will one day be a memory, cross season is only 4 month away.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Ahhhh... the feeling of dirt under 29" tread. So last night was the Wednesday Night the Races @ Crystal Ridge season kick off. The Spring trail work is finally done and the water damage form the ski hill has dried up and the trails are officially open.

About 30 people showed up for the first round last night. As usual I somehow ended up on the front row. One guy put the pedals down at the start and I got on his wheel. The start is at the
bottom of a steep gravel road followed by a few minutes of open field single track, it's best to stay at the front and enter the wooded section wide open. I fought to keep his wheel then poof he was gone as soon as we hit the trees. I guess all those road/cross bike miles made me a little slow in the tight stuff, that I haven't ridden my mountain bike since last July when I got hurt. So into the single track we went, the lead guy was gone and I was "leading" the chase group. I kept waiting for the guys to yell to get out of the way, I wasn't moving unless they asked. We hit the second climb of lap one and POP, on your left 4 times in a row. The chase group was gone and I was entering no mans land. A couple more passed and that was it I was on my own for the next 2 1/2 laps. I caught one guy then just tried to keep the pace high and find some rhythm. I think I finished somewhere towards the bottom of the top ten, not bad considering it was my first race pace effort since Cross Nationals and first MTB race since the July of last year. Results should be up in the next day or so. I felt good but didn't have it in me to keep the pace. No worries though those guys have already been racing on the WORS series and I am still building up for cross so to stay near the pointy end this early felt great.

Sorry no pictures. In the process of getting the new toy fully functional I had to update the OS on the tired old Mac and lost my iPhoto and need to find a replacement since I don't want to fork over for iLife jsut to get a photo album program. Now if these guys would play nice and let shop employees get a deal.. It looks like they pushed the availability back again, so I can dream about it some more, oh well I can't afford it without shop guy pricing anyway.

enjoy your toys..

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sh*t Talk...

If you haven't seen a link to this blog post yet, check it out --> here. I don't know the guy and feel bad for his pain, but this sh*t is funny.

It's a go...

Finally the local trail has dried out and tomorrow's Wednesday Night Mountain Bike racin' is on! I have only been on the new bike a few times this year, but it already feels dialed in pretty well.

This years mountain machine is an On One ScandAL 29"er.

New additions to the 29"er parts list this year - Manitou Minute fork, FSA riser bar, Moots layback seatpost, Specialized Phenom saddle, GORE RideOn cable system, and Syncros stem. I am also starting out the year without the Ergon grips I like them okay the last few years, but I have to try something different every year. This year is the year of the riser bar and tape grips. So far so good. Standouts from last season are back for more abuse - Middleburn cranks, and Bontrager TLR Race Lite wheelset. And I'll never give up my SRAM XO twist shifters, show me a better functioning option in all kinds of conditions that is lighter and costs less! I'll give some detailed feedback on the new stuff as I get some more saddle time.

Getting ready to enjoy the racin'

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick honey...

Mmmmm good. I received some samples of the new Honey Stinger Energy Chews and have been tasting them out. Like all Honey Stinger products, honey is a key ingredient (go figure), and they are certified organic (whatever that means these days). Honey is a low on the glycemic index so you have less of the sugar crash. I must say these chews are pretty tasty. They are similar in texture to the Clif Shots, but I find them a little easier to eat on the bike -> less sticky than the Clif variety and they have a less sugary taste to them. Check out the benefits of honey on the Honey Stinger website and ask for some at your LBS.

taste the goodness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dirt Funcut...

This is one reason I like to ride my cross bike so much - the Dirt FunCut.

It's not really a shortcut but is a lot more fun than the paved bike path, the neighborhood singletrack. I have managed to make the starting point and ending to most of my training rides this little local section of dirt. It is a blast on the cross bike and in the summer you can link this sanctioned singletrack with another section a few miles away with some "other" single track. Maybe this is why I like technical cross courses so much. It is a great way to find your mojo before a ride and a nice cool down "reward" after some hard intervals.

find the fun in your ride.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bike to Work Week

Made the trip today w/ Paul from the shop. He bought a new bike just for the occasion.

not a bad way to start your day

The lack of people out this morning was disturbing. I see more people out on bikes when it is not Bike to Work Week.
Thanks Alterra for your continued support of cycling, and the delicious pastries.

Thanks to all the businesses in Milwaukee that make Bike to Work Week so great. Stops all over town with coffee, juice, muffins, and friendly faces.

enjoy your ride to work this week. make an effort and make a difference.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Where does it go...

Time it just slips away. Busy times at the shop last week. Set up our new video capture fit system, I'll post some more info as soon as I have had more than a couple hours of time with the new system, and one of the biggest events of the year for the shop was this weekend. So family, riding, work and sleep left very little time for anything else.

Luckily for me it was demo days at the shop and I was able to get out on two of the three bikes that I have been very keen on riding. So here it is....


Friday and Saturday I went out on the Bianchi 928 Carbon T-Cube. Sunday was the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2.

The Bianchi was a stock Dura Ace configuration with Mavic Ksyrium Sl wheels and FSA K-Force light cranks (I have some thoughts on the crankset that I will address in a future post), and Deda providing the bar, stem and seatpost. I have to say a Bianchi without Campagnolo is just somehow wrong, but this bike is still a looker. The official weigh with one carbon cage and no pedals - 7.15 kg, for the metric challenged 15.76 lbs not bad out of the box. All I can say is this bike is Italian craftsmanship at it's finest, Bianchi knocked it out with the two color options. The white on carbon is oh so hot right know, but still timeless, and Bianchi pulls it off well, while the classic Celeste on carbon keeps the Bianchi tradition alive.

Friday was a gentle ride with the Boss to run an errand. Some rollers and really crappy Milwaukee county roads. The bike took some of the harshness from the expansion seams and endless potholes, but I could still feel the hit. I personally attribute some of this to the Kysriums which are notoriously stiff. Italian greyhound came to mind while riding the 928, it begged for speed and changed course with the ease. Saturday I took it out for a little more of a beating. Once again this bike just asked for more. The 928 Carbon is a bike that likes to be ridden at speed and that is where it really shines. Get this bike up to tempo and it just glides over the tarmac, with the gentlest of nudges on the bars the 928 will go where you will it. That is not to say that this bike is twitchy or unstable it posses an interesting mix of razor sharp handling and stability I find rare in a bike.

Sunday I wanted to get the Specialized Tarmac SL2 S-Works out for a long ride, but Mother Nature had other plans. High winds, cold temps, and rain kept the ride a little shorter than I wanted, but I have spent some time on the other generations of Tarmacs and really wanted to see how the SL2 compared. Smooth right out of the garage, for a "race" bike the Tarmac has compliance in spades. It doesn't hurt the the Tarmac SL2 come stock with Specialized Roval carbon clincher wheels (rims provided by Reynolds, hubs by DT Swiss) which definitely add to the feel. Expansion seams. potholes, etc. were dampened much more than on the Bianchi, but not as much as the Waterford R233 steel bike I spend most of my time on. The SL2 felt like older models Tarmac only turned up to 11. Stiffer, more compliant, and lighter, 6.65 kg (14.06lbs) for the record.. I found the handling to be activated more through hip movement and less through the front end. Which for me made the bike feel a little more sluggish than the 928, I know sluggish for a bike of this caliber is relative, but it wasn't as snappy as the Bianchi. The SL2 really shined on shorter out of the saddle climbs, the big S must have infused some mountain goat DNA into the carbon layup schedule, it felt as if the bike was propelling you up the climb. I am sure some of this in attributed to the feather weight of both the frame and wheelset, but it was a joy to climb.

If you want a race bike that will still shine on those long charity rides the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2 may just be the bike for you, but for me the choice would be the Bianchi 928 Carbon T-Cube*.

*I would have to get rid of the Mavic wheels for some nice carbon clinchers. I really believe that the wheels can drastically change the personality of a bicycle, and feel that this change would push the Bianchi closer in compliance to the SL2.

The single word that came to mind while riding the 928 was precision and the SL2 compliance. Now for me precision evokes emotion and compliance well it's a little academic. I want a bike that is going to turn me on, that has some sex appeal, and is going to excite me - The Bianchi oozes tradition and when I was on it I felt a connection not just to the bike but something bigger. The Specialized while a very nice bike doesn't give off the same aura, it comes off as mechanical in contrast to the 928 feeling organic and evolved.

So there you have it, one lowly bike mechanics view of two very impressive bikes. Really you can't go wrong with either bike, they are both nicer than any bike I personally own and will probably ever own, but if I was going to it would be a tough decision - White or Celeste?
enjoy your ride...
whatever it may be.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It has begun...

I am on the plan. May's training schedule is here and in full effect! I seriously have the itch to get my racin' on. By this time last year I was well into the 12 Hour MTB season, but this year with the focus squarely on cross season I am missing the early spring racing. I have the green light from the man to start the Wednesday night MTB racing in a couple of weeks so that should keep the competitive fire burning for a while. It is comforting to have a plan in place for the upcoming months and I am looking forward to rippin' it up this year.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I was here again this year.

Dirt Sweat and Gears 12 hour race last year. This course was a blast, wish I was there right now racin. The 12 hour enduro stuff does not make you a faster cross racer, at least thats what the coach says, but it hurts sooo good.


What do you ride, like, use, suggest? These are the questions that I get all day long at the shop. It's not always an easy answer. Sometimes what I like/use isn't something that the shop stocks especially if it is not a service related question. Luckily I have do the ordering for the service department so I stock it with what I like and use personally, the sales floor well that is another story. Often I what I like/use is not what the customer wants to invest on their bike, so it becomes a balancing act between what I know works well and would enhance their experience and what the customer is willing want to spend. Then there are the magazine and internet reviews - aarrrggh. I was talking tires the other day with a customer and they brought up a review on a tire and how great it was in the mud, I asked where he saw the review after he told me what the tire was my response was the reviewer had clearly not ridden "Midwest" mud, he immediately got what I was referring to and let me make a recommendation based on our local conditions.

Since the racing/riding season is just starting to bloom here in Wisconsin everyone has been prepping their machines for the coming season which often means replacing the chain.

So the $60 question - What do you ride? Wippermann.

Why you ask, well they don't spontaneously break, they last much longer than anything else I have tried, and they have a quick connector. I get to see a lot of worn and broken chains working in a bike shop the only two chains I have not personally seen brake are a Wippermann and a Campagnolo. Now don't get me wrong I am a Campy man to the core, but there is just something about the Wippermann chains that make them shift smooth, the one caveat with Wippermann is you must get the quick link going in the correct direction or it will skip in the smaller cogs after that you are golden. Yes they are expensive, but the will outlast and outperform anything from the S's and they will run oh so smooth on your Campy cassette. Don't get hung up on which model, for the record the 10sX has the best wear life, they all rock. Check them out here and buy one form your IBD.

Do your bike a favor, put on a new Wippermann this spring and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, May 1, 2008