Tales of the Stupid, Part Fifteen

So, I’m installing an 11-speed cassette on a pair of Mavic 125s. I am on auto-pilot, opening the box, stacking the cassette and getting on with things. I put on the lock ring, drop a tool on it and tighten it down, and notice an awful lot of play in between the last three cogs.

“Hmmmmm…,” I think and I examine the cassette. “There’s not USUALLY a spacer in an 11-speed, but this one sure needs one.”

I remove the cassette and drop in the spacer. Now, the last cog is clearly standing OFF the body. That’s NOT right.

I call my buddy Marcus at Higher Ground. He hasn’t seen this before. Neither has Tyler.

I get off the phone and think, “I should probably count those cogs.”

Sure enough, it’s a 10-speed cassette in an 11-speed box. I count the cogs again. Still 10-speed. And the box is CLEARLY labeled Shimano CS-6800. It’s the RIGHT box.

I call Marcus back and tell him.

“Yeah,” he said, “Tyler and I thought about it right after you got off the phone. It’s probably a 10-speed.”

To use his word, it sure was JANKY that I received a new 10-speed cassette in an 11-speed box. How did I not notice that the cassette was awfully heavy and shiny in the first place!? Dammit. Who would do such a thing!?

THEN, I remembered where the box came from….

I purchased a Wahoo Kickr and an 11-speed cassette a month ago from Colorado Cyclist. The Kickr ships with a 10-speed cassette, and, knowing what I had purchased the Kickr for, they had already opened up the unit and INSTALLED the 11-speed cassette for me, enclosing the 10-speed in the leftover box. I’ve been riding the Kickr for weeks without ONCE thinking, “Hey…how is my 11-speed group working so well with this 10-speed cassette?”

So, it wasn’t janky at ALL. Colorado Cyclist is AWESOME and looking out for me.

I’m just stooooopid.

SOLD! Day THREE: Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike – $670 shipped

Yep, it’s a 2014 Framed Minnesota 2.0 fat bike. I bought it to replace my original Surly Pugsley (also for sale), but then decided that it just doesn’t snow enough here in Tallahassee, Florida, to make ownership worthwhile. Besides, I’m a terrible mountain biker, and I figure owning one good, weird mountain bike (a Black Sheep Darkness 36er) will be enough for the easy trails and dirt roads I frequent when I’m wearing knobbier.

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It’s a LARGE (20″), in silver with red anodized rims, with the Truvativ crank, SRAM X7 FD, SRAM X5 RD, Avid BB5 mechanical brakes. It’s wearing Vee Mission tires and has nice upgraded bars and stem and cage in matching anodized red. This bike is basically new, having been ridden twice.

Effective toptube = 588mm
Seat tube = 533mm @ 73 degrees
Headtube = 120mm @ 71 degrees
Wheelbase = 1108mm
Standover = 826mm

Pedals are NOT included.

Just saw that Framed has re-priced these, so I’m dropping the price for a SWEET deal. Again, this bike has been ridden TWICE.

$670.00 shipped to your door, so long as your door is somewhere within the continental United States. If not, talk to me and we’ll see what we can do.
SOLD!

Also, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.

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FOR SALE 2015, Day Two: 20.5″ Lynskey Pro 29 – $2566 shipped

For those of you who have seen my mountain bike race video, it should come as no surprise that I am selling a mountain bike. Should I even be ALLOWED to ride one?

This is a Lynskey Pro29 in 3/2 Titanium. I’ve rarely ridden it, as I just don’t get out to the trails very often, choosing to spend most of my time on the roads, or riding a cross bike on the comparatively low-tech dirt I prefer. As such, I’m consolidating my dirt collection down to a cross bike and a 36er, because I’m just weird that way.

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Geometry: (in inches)
Seat Tube: 20.5″
Top Tube: 25″ effective
Head Tube: 5.8″
Head Tube Angle: 71.5 degrees
Seat Tube Angle: 73 degrees
Chain Stays: 17.5″
Stand over: 33″

The bike includes:
Shimano Deore XT 9-speed group setup as a 2×9
Rock Shox REBA suspension fork (no remote, but remote capable)
Thomson Elite Stem and setback Seatpost
Mavic Crossmax 29 wheels
Cane Creek headset

Notes:
Pedals are NOT included.
There is quite a bit of fork left above the stem. As you can see, the stem has some rise to it, and I never wanted to cut the steerer tube…or I just never found the time. You can set this bike up as you wish.

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SOLD! Moots Vamoots Compact SL – $2550 SOLD!

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(Click photos to enlarge.)

SOLD! SOLD! SOLD! (Thanks Henry, I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. it’s been the model upon which my custom bikes were built. It’s a great thing.)

I’ve assessed and reassessed my cycling needs. I’ve had the collection, and now I’m going to simplify my life and my cycling. I need to RIDE bikes, not simply OWN them.

Here is a Moots Vamoots Compact SL.

This bike is an amazing steed, and has been my favorite bike for everything. Unfortunately, the last few years saw my riding decrease to ZERO, and it’s been lonely. This is the 6/4 titanium that is reputedly lighter than the more common 3/2 Ti found on most frames. (At the time I purchased this bike, there was some stink about the weapons industry taking all the 6/4 Ti, making this a comparative rarity. Quite frankly, I never checked the veracity of this claim, but it’s a good story.)

Geometry:

Top Tube: 59.0cm (virtual)
Seat Tube: 56.5cm C-to-T, 61cm effective
Seat Angle: 73 degrees
Head Tube: 19.4cm
Head Angle: 74 degrees
Chainstay: 41.5cm
Wheelbase: 100.1cm
Standover: 83.0cm

Includes:

2008 Shimano Dura Ace 10-speed group, crank-length 175mm with matching wheel set
Moots setback seatpost and 130 (0 degree rise) stem
Chris King Titanium headset
Easton EC 90 SLX CNT carbon fork, 43mm rake
Fizik Arione saddle and tape in matching metallic blue

Notes:

The pedals, cages, and WCS spacers are NOT included. I’ve swapped the spacers for the same height in carbon spacers. If you need or want pedals or cages, let me know; I have a pile of various types and we might be able to work something out.

As on all Moots bicycles, the decals are applied directly to the titanium and are not clear coated. This results in some edge peeling over time, which is evident on this bike. Luckily, Moots runs a clean-and-relabel service that will replace them for a small fee.

Oh, and yes, I’ll peel off my name decal.

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Inordinately proud of myself…

There was a time when I would NOT have made it through this workout:
PHOTO Interval Workout 20150115

It’s an hour of full-power intervals, part of the 12-week winter strength program I’ve been doing. Joel Friel is killing me, and I’m paying him to do it.

But here’s the weird thing: this workout represents a minor victory over something that has long plagued me, a lack of will. I’ve suffered from a lack of will for my entire life, and it’s taken me 45 years to realize that it springs from one place: a lack of goals.

Instead of setting goals, I existed in this nebulous realm of “improvement,” something that’s hard to quantify and that is not motivational whatsoever. I’d ride around, sometimes hard, sometimes not. My father told me, “You ride WAY too much to be a tourist but not nearly ENOUGH to be a racer.” It got under my skin; I was out there, on the bike every day and feeling pretty good about it, but my results belied the tale I told myself. I sucked, hard, and it was a source of constant discouragement.

But now, I have data to depend on, things that show me what I have, what I need, and where I need to get to do what I want to do. And it’s helping! For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m training effectively, despite knowing HOW for the past 25 years. The trainer is a nightmare, but you never rest, you never “ride around,” you simply work, and the numbers are there to prove it.

So, this is where I am. I’m still fat and slow, but I’m less-fat and less-slow than I was. And for the first time, I feel like my head and my heart are on my side. I am going to Mt. Cheaha, BSG, Six Gap. Then, I’m going to Ventoux, l’Alpe d’Huez, the Mortirolo. I’m going to make it. I going to find my heart on those mountains.

Still riding and setting goals

Riding on the trainer, that is!

October 17th, my father passed away unexpectedly. I kept riding, intermittently, through the following months, but it was difficult to find the motivation or the focus to train effectively. I don’t think there was anything particularly wrong with me, but the depression that set in after his loss, coupled with the assumption of quite a few new responsibilities, left me cold for cycling. It was a period of soul-searching.

But surprisingly, I find myself with new-found confidence. I have goals: completing some musical compositions, achieving a successful pecan harvest, improving the profits in my business, and more. And bicycling and health goals are a part of it, too:

1) I have set upon a 12-week power training and weight program using a Wahoo Kickr trainer to replace the problematic Computrainer.
2) I will be completing FOUR major climbing rides this year, including Mt. Cheaha Challenge (May 17), Blood Sweat and Gears (June 27), and Six Gap Century (TBA). I am still considering the fourth ride.
3) I will ride at a weight of 215 pounds by September 2015.
4) I will sell a majority of the bikes I own, paring down the stable to a healthy number of bike that are regularly ridden. Stay posted for the listings; they ARE coming!
5) I will have FUN!

This is doable stuff, even for a fat and slow 45-year-old. Feel free to give me crap about it if you see me eating fries.

FTP: One

Got out the Argonaut “space bike” last night with the new Garmin Vector pedals and rolled out for a warm-up and a 20-minute functional threshold power (FTP) test–my first one.

While I would have preferred a good, long, flat course, I made do with the vagaries of the neighborhood 2.5-mile loop and the unseasonably cool wind that whipped through the neighborhood ahead of the cool front moving through. No rain, just clouds and wind.

The warm-up was uneventful, excepting a bit of trepidation about the coming effort. In the past, I have never felt REALLY good about sustained efforts on the bike. I started too fast and faded, or I started too slow and never felt like I went ALL OUT. Time-trialing was never my forte. (Heck, NOTHING was really my forte.)

The ride was pretty good. I started out and felt like I maintained a good pedaling effort. Fat and slow is the way to go, right? Maintaining power on the one real downhill was a pain, but I figured the subsequent uphill and the time out of the saddle made up for it in the average. “Just keep pedaling” was the mantra of the day, and generally, I did.

So now, I know just HOW FAT and HOW SLOW I really am. And believe me, I am BOTH.

18.6 mph over 20 minutes, yielding an FTP of 151 watts. That translates to a whopping 1.36 watts per kg. A reasonably-competent Cat 4 is around 3.5 W/kg. I have a LONG way to go.

And I LOOK IT, too:

Yes, I WOULD like an ambulance, please.

Yes, I WOULD like an ambulance, please.

Checkpoint: Week ONE

Set a goal to ride 5 of 7 days, this week, and DIDN’T make it. But I learned a lesson about late afternoon thunderstorms and procrastination. Monday night and Tuesday night were a wash…the thunderstorms set in and stayed resident until bedtime. I figured it would be okay; I’d make it up at the end of the week. Wednesday and Thursday were good, but then Friday night, I got home with lots to do…eat supper, get my son from the gym…I decided I’d ride with lights, after supper. Of course, the thunderstorm set in during supper. So, I missed my goal because of ONE night of procrastination. Basically, RIDE WHEN YOU CAN, you may not get another chance.

I DID ride four days, this week, a total of 42.8 miles over 3 hours, 17 minutes. Pretty slow, but HEY, it’s SOMETHING after a whole LOT of NOTHING.

I will be starting some power-based training today, beginning with an FTP test. I’ll be doing Bill Darrah’s abbreviated 20-min test, using a 95% of the average wattage over the 20 mins. This will, hopefully, establish the first baseline against which I can compare future tests, every four weeks or so. I will, additionally, be completing 1-hour FTP testing on occasion, as it is what I am most comfortable with and can use to check FTP derived by the shorter test. To be honest, though, I don’t exactly relish the idea of a 1-hour full-effort test right now. Yeah, I’m still lazy.

I am still fat, too, tipping the scales at 245.0 this morning. Having been so successful with my reduced-carbohydrate diet over the past year, I have turned up the burners on it and am back to an initial-phase diet (<25g carbohydrates per day). I am hoping that my natural weight plateau at 240 pounds will be passed through the combination of diet and increased exercise, though I must admit to some fear concerning the future of my weight and my performance on the bike. When I make it to Six Gap, next year, will I be able to maintain the low-carbohydrate diet and still ride? I don't think I want to fall back to a diet of energy drinks and gel, but riding with a pocket full of venison jerky seems a little...bizarre. Anyone have any suggestions?

Older, Fatter, Assier…but less “racing” and “team”

Did it. Got back on the bike this weekend after promising myself I’d do it “soon” for months. Ugh. Did it on a fixed-gear, too. Double-ugh.

Over the past year, I fell into trying a low-carbohydrate diet. I’d been the asshole telling everyone that it “is simply a reduced-calorie diet” and that “it just isn’t working for the reasons you think it is.” Reading a bit of the Atkins books in the bookstore didn’t help; the books are 99% motivational speeches with very little SCIENCE and DIET in them. It’s the Norman Vincent Peale version of dietary guides, and I DON’T need a sermon, I need WEIGHT-LOSS.

Then, last October, I tried it. And it worked. Dammit.

20 pounds in 4 months or so, then another plateau after losing 30 pounds. I backed off a bit, thinking I’d take a break, then start another run. I gained 5 pounds. So, I tightened up a bit, but dropped the idea that I could balance a “normal” diet with weight maintenance. Today, I’m still at that 30-pound loss, holding steady at 240 and looking hard at another press to start weight loss again with an exercise program. So, that’s where THIS thing comes in:

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Yeah, it’s a fixie. Hipster, too. Look at all that Celeste Green. And WHAT is up with that stem angle?

The way I figure it, a fixie is the best thing in the world to make you do ONE thing: pedal. You’re going to pedal a LOT. An awful lot. And what do I need to do more than that? It’s the bike that makes downhills a nightmare that no coasting cyclist can understand. My membership card in “Fat Guys with Good Wheels” means nothing on the fixie. I can shortcut MONTHS of pre-training preparation with a couple weeks riding fixie-alone, right?

Hah.

This emasculating mess of a bike beat my ass for a solid 6 miles on Saturday. Then, it did it again on Sunday. My weekend total, a whopping 14.4 miles.

Yes, I am a fat piece of crap, but even I’m not convinced that 14.4 miles on a weekend is anything to be particularly proud of. But tell that to the A in F.A.R.T. My butt was absolutely chewed UP over the course of this blip on the map. Raw, nasty, swollen streaks from tip to taint on both sides.

My chamois is good. Queen Helene’s Cocoa Butter Cream was well-applied. But the indignity of beginner-butt was demanded in payment for my long absence from the saddle. So here I sit, anti-bacterialized, be-creamed and sore whilst waiting 48 hours for the next installment. And then, to add insult to injury, I have responded to the adjurations of my friends to put the bike out of it’s misery (It’s NOT called “sit-up-and-beg geometry,” Tim. And no, Andy, puppies are NOT dying every moment.) and flip the stem over. And now I can look at it and wonder at my sanity while nursing my tender hinterlands.

Bianchi Pista with Flat Stem

Still, I wish I could get back out, today. And that…that DESIRE…is a good thing.

Subjective Opinions

(Note: This was stuck in the management queue. I wrote it about a year or more ago, and somehow never posted it. Dunno what I was thinking.)

Did anyone else read the issue of Procycling where they did a side-by-side between an 83 Pinarello and a new Lapierre Carbon? It was interesting, if not completely scientific, as a double-blind was pretty much impossible. Such a study would be interesting between frame materials, I think.

I ride several bikes, including a MAX-tubed Argonaut, a 1981 Pogliaghi, a Moots Compacts SL, a Ridley Excalibur, and a Roark Titanium.

The reality is just as has been said before, in this thread and elsewhere–the bikes each have their own personality, and this personality extends beyond the material of the frame to encompass their geometry, their build, their wheels, and just how I feel when riding them. I’ll grant you that some of this is terribly subjective and VERY insubstantial.

My Moots is, although not a custom-build for me, a wonderful bike. It fits me very well, and with the right wheelset, it’s the best climbing bike I’ve ever ridden, even though it’s not as stiff as my Ridley. On the descents, it turns responsively and rides easy…and it REALLY sucks up the road noise on a bad downhill. I never feel out of control on it, even at 60. It’s super easy to clean, and I don’t worry about it rotting beneath me in the worst weather, even at the beach. If I can’t clean it for a couple of days, so what? For a difficult ride, it’s the first bike I turn to, though this may change as I acclimate to my Argonaut and new Kirk. On it, I feel fast and steady, as though I could go forever if need be. It’s comfortable and quick, which has become what Ti SHOULD be, in my mind.

My Roark is very stiff, surprisingly so for a Ti bike. It’s polished, so it needs a lot of wiping to look good, although it’s unnecessary. It feels faster on the flats than my Moots, though it’s heavier overall. I don’t really like the way it descends, though in fairness, I’ve generally ridden the Moots in the hills and haven’t given it its fair shake. It’s the same size as the Moots, and they both wear Dura Ace, so they’re pretty comparable. Still, I tend to keep the Roark at my office for occasional use when I’m caught there and need go for a ride.

My Argonaut is appropriately stiff, as a MAX-tubed bike should be. It really doesn’t have the bottom bracket flex that a more traditional steel bike generally has, so climbing and intense efforts really feel pretty good, even compared to my Ti or carbon bikes. That said, it’s not a carbon wonderbike, and I don’t expect it to be. It IS quite a bit heavier than my Ti and carbon bikes, however, and though I don’t mind climbing on it, for a serious climb-fest, I’d turn to my Ti bikes every time just for the weight savings and snappiness underfoot. It is the prettiest bike I own, and I worry about protecting its finish and keeping it beautiful and polished. When I ride it, my mind wanders to my racing heroes on their steel bikes, hammering through the classics in the 70s and 80s. On a bad road, it’s not as supple as the Moots, but it feels STRONG, and that makes ME feel strong. I want to put down the hammer and HURT those boys riding carbon; hurt them BAD. I ride this bike the most these days; I like to look at it and talk about it, and it’s an absolute joy to ride.

My 1981 Pogliaghi makes me feel like the Argonaut does, in some ways, but it really isn’t as good a bike as the Argonaut. It’s a bit heavy, but it rides very well on long rides and club rides without a hammer-fest. It’s been restored, so I generally keep it hanging on my office wall, and only ride it when I feel like pulling out the wool jersey and going retro. That said, it was THE bike I always wanted, growing up. It’s lovely and supple and interesting to ride. It has a LOT of personality, and though it’s not the bike I most quickly turn to when needing a ride, it’s one of the last bikes I’d ever part with.

My carbon bike, a Ridley Excalibur, is sub-15 pounds with climbing wheels on it. It’s super-light and really almost too snappy beneath me. When getting underway one day on a slight incline, the front wheel shot into the air and I found myself catwalking a bit, completely unintentionally. It climbs like a rocket, but downhills are chattery and nerve-wracking at high speeds; I never feel like I can really throw myself into a curve with it, no matter how good the wheels and rubber are beneath me. In a sprint, I guarantee I do 10 watts or more better on it than on any of my other bikes.

I hope I’ve given you some insight. It seemed as though you were looking for some subjective qualification, and that’s what I’ve tried to give you. The geometry, the build-up, the wheels, and even the rubber on the road make SUCH a big difference when you really get down to comparisons. I love all my bikes, but I do have my favorites. I came up riding Italian steel, so I tend to compare things to that baseline. I have friends who think otherwise, comparing everything to their first Madone. So, as you see, you may get something from a bike that NO one else will get. Making a choice on a custom builder is usually a safe bet, however. A custom Ti or steel bike will make you happy, I guarantee it.

And make sure to consider our friends here, mentioned and unmentioned in this post! You’re among the best of the best.