Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bontrager Evoke Saddles-Perfection

Saddles can make or break your ride. A good saddle not adjusted properly can result in a saddle leaving your hind quarters screaming for mercy. A bad saddle adjusted...well, is still a bad saddle. Everyone has there favorites, mine was my old Selle Italia Aspide saddles.
Minimalist padding, yet still very comfy and they had just the right contour.

2 years ago, Jon Rogers, my local rep gave me the RXL Inform saddle to try. I did like it, but it just didnt have that overall comfortable feel that the Aspide's had. The main gripe was the rear had those scrotum pinching devil's horns. It was meant to be a road saddle, but I am on the crew which means that I am allowed to stupid things without ridicule-ok, maybe a little. Earlier this year, I had been following blogs, news anything about the upcoming Evoke series saddles from Bontrager. Luckily, Mr. Rogers came through again and gave me one of the Evoke 3 Ti railed saddles. I immediately mounted it on my Superfly SS and went out.

A few quick specs on these saddles. They both are fully padded. I do mean more than enough cushion. Gone are the nut snatching horns as well. The Ti version comes in at 187 g's and the carbon is 134 g's. If you opt for the carbon version, you will need the 11x7 wing adapters for the post. It didnt take long for this to be the saddle I have been looking for. I immediately noticed a major improvement in the overall feel of the saddle. It is more ergonomic in terms of conforming to your sit bones than the previous offering. This saddle feels already broken in from the start. It has enough flex to make it feel like a subtle softail feel. The carbon version is a tad stiffer, but over the rougher stuff, it does gives a little extra spring to your caboose. I have yet to find myself "looking" for a differnt spot during rides. Just plant your arse and go on about your thang.

You cant go wrong with either one. There is a premium you pay fro the carbon version (199.99) over the 139.99 price of the Ti version, but 2oz. lighter is pretty cool. I give both of these saddle 5 chainrings. I loved them so much that I ended up getting one for each bike I own. If you keep up reading my crap, you know I have a few.

There is absolutely nothing I would change about these saddle, this is a perfect product in my opinion. Oh, one little thing; when your shorts get a bit wet, they do make a strange  sound which leaves others around you questioning last nights meal. Seriously, get one of these saddles and make your arse a happy camper.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

4,000 miles and Counting!

Well I have finally broken the 4,000 mile mark. I have never done 1,500 miles in year before this year. Well, actually my "year" starts the last week in august. I was hoping to get 400,000 feet of climbing this year, but missed by a bit. My actual elevation gain is more like 300,000 ft. I used another computer at times. I am still amazed how much the trainer really helped this year. It is not a substitute for the road or trail, but it is a controlled environment which is perfect for intervals.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Ride on the 4.7 Madone

Today I embarked on a road bike adventure. Nice 84° temps, not a cloud in the sky. After yesterdays downpour, the trail was not an option.

I didnt have too much time, so a 25 miler was in play for me. My usual route consists of some decent climbs, fast downhills and out of the saddle flat stuff. I have to say that this bike just blew me away. It is not OCLV carbon-Trek's TCT carbon-but this thing just kicks when you push on the pedals. Being the SS Moron that I am, I wanted to run it through it's out of the saddle, gear mashing, big gear, hill trounsing...ok I will stop there-climbing abilities. Sure enough, I was not dissapointed. Being 186 lbs, the last thing I need is anything loose in the caboose. I felt as if I had a little more umph in the engine on the climbs. No flex at all-NONE. This bike begs to be pushed hard, that's for sure. The bike comes in-before my upgrades at 17.1 lbs, not to bad. Mine as it is now is 16.1-even betterer.

Descents were equally smooth. No twitchiness to be felt; just sit back and enjoy the flight. The cockpit is roomy enough to get back on the saddle and still be in control.

On the flats I felt lighter than my actual weight. I am not a spinner, so hammering on the flats is something I certainly would demand of any road bike, and this delivers on the spot. All the shifting, braking is supplied by Sram Rival hoopla-the best. If you havent tried the Double Stuff yet, do it. Very crisp, clean and precise. I do have a Red group I am putting on, though just cause I can. Why are you putting this stuff on a 4.7? Most of the stuff I get is through trades, so it doesnt cost me anything, and a Madone equipped with the Red stuff is 6k, soooo.

Anyway the bike is great as is. My two nit picks are the compact crank 50/34 which is waaaay to spinnery for me, so the 53/39 will find its way on it. The other is the 12-28 cassette. This is not a mountain bike folks. A 34 mated with a 28 in the rear is insane, but there are some that insist on it. You could put on Richard Simmons' Spinning to the Oldies with that thing.

This is a superb offering from Trek. You would be hard pressed to find a better equipped, better handling bike. Over and Out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back into Training and getting my new Madone 4.7

Yep, vacations do have a way of driving a wrench in the cog of your training schedule. After yesterdays race, I finally got back on the trainer for some easy zone 1 spinning.

Since my lovely accident, I have used the insurance money to get a brand spanking new Madone 4.7 with Sram Rival drivetrain. I love Sram stuff. The Double Tap does take a few rides to get used to, but becomes second nature after that. Or is it first nature? Eh, who cares. I will be taking it on its maiden voyage tomorrow morning-shame I dont have a bottle of champagne to break across the head tube. I did put some nice Bontrager goodies on it just because. All told it comes in at 16.1 lbs, not bad at all. My Fisher AR Super was 17.7, so a pound and a half savings. Had do get rid of the white wheels, though-bleeeek!

I know I am the SS Moron, but I will give a basic overview of this beauty tomorrow after my ride.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Wakefield curse is finally lifted!

Hmm...If I had a patch and peg leg.

Well, it was bound to happen at some point; a podium spot at Wakefield. You can call it frustration, allusive, lack of training but I could never better myself there. I always thought it was the heat; last 3 years saw 102° temps. This year was close at 98°.  The course was also 1 mile longer than the previous offerings. Anyway, for whatever the reason, I have never managed to crack the top 5 here. My best finish was 6th place 3 years running.

Last year I finished with a 1:31 and feeling pretty bad. Training last year was pretty lame to boot. This year, though has seen huge improvements in both my physical being and mental states.  Lately, I have been a little worried about my recent physical status. Vacation, hit by a car and lacking training. HR doesnt want to elevate. So this was the race that I wanted more than any other race this year. It was my mission since january. I was going to crack the top 5 if it killed me. I chose the Superfy SS this year. I used the Ferrous in all other years. I also did something very unusual as well for my bike setup. I am 186 lbs and have been running XDX 2.1 tires. I have recently decided to give the 1.75 in the rear-no, not that rear. Needless to say, it worked surprisingly well. It hooked up over everything. Never bottomed the rim once and running 32 psi.

This years SS class saw some of the fastest monocoggers in the area-crap! Oh well, that's what training prepares you for. We started out on a very loose gravel climb to break everyone up-it didnt work. We had a pretty close group for the first 2 laps. The last lap saw most of the passing. I was in 2nd for 2 1/2 of those and managed to let my guard down and got passed 8 seconds before the line! I felt pretty good considering the accident 2 weeks ago. I managed finish very strong and with a time of 1:23:47; 8 minutes faster than last years effort with the extra overall mile and a solid 3rd spot. My average HR was an insane, but very comfortable 182 over 17.91 miles with a max of 192. I was concerned before the race that my HR wasnt going to get up where it should be. It never dipped below 172, which is 4 beats away from my lactate threshold. I was still putting out really good power at this level, so that little time off served me well. I think I could have pushed a little more, but just didnt; racing is funny that way at times.

This was the most satisfying effort so far this year; even over the other podiums and even the 1st's this year. It was also one of the closest. Any mistake could have resulted in a first for me or the 2 guys behind me; 53 second spread over 5 places.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting ready for the Wakefield Race

This weekend is the first race of the 3 race series for The Cranky Monkey. After last weeks up front and personal experience with the large 4 wheeled object, I am still a little sore. Had a semi nice ride today aboard that geared widget Superfly Elite. It was a little strange, but it did ease some of the pain.

I have never finished higher than 6th here for some reason. It is the easiest of the 3 races, but it has never been good to me. This year looks to be a different story, if the year so far is any indication. Last year I finished 4th overall in points with 88 racing SS in the geared class. This year will be in the SS open class. If you have never done the EX2 stuff, do it. Jim and his crew put on the best races by far.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just some trail info for Tsali in North Carolina

Garmin info for all 4 trails at Tsali NC. If you have never been, GO! The first is Right and Left loops, and the second is Thompson and Mouse Branch. Great trails and after 17 years of riding there, still in stellar shape. Rode 32/18 for everything. I will have a better write up tomorrow-I think.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cars don't make good cushions

Well, this spot is normally reserved for my annual trip to the Tsali Trail network. This blog is going to be dedicated to the kind folks who came to my aid after being struck by a car.

Bryson City, NC is a small, small town in the beautiful mountains near the Tsali trail network. This day, though I was doing one of my road rides to my friend Andy and Diane who own Bryson City Bicycles. I was just about 600 yards from the store when I was hit by a 71 year old man in front of the IGA grocery store. Now, if any of you have had the misfortune of being hit, you know the feeling of time slowing down. I mean I had enough time to see that he wasnt stopping, think quick enough to try and throw myself on the hood of his Taurus. Once I knew he had hit me and I was on the ground, I thought far enough ahead to get back up as quick as possible because he still kept moving a bit.

Funny thing was, once I confronted him, he still had this notion that he hadnt really hit me! Luckily for me, the great people of this town rushed over to me, called the police and ambulance all within 2 minutes. Joan was the lady who made all of the calls and drove me back to our cabin 17 miles away. The guys at IGA were equally as helpful. They caught the footage and gave it to me. There were 9 people who came to help me. I have to say, up here, I would be lucky to get one. The police, bystanders all were just too kind and just an amazing group of people.

The driver admitted to looking at his parking spot and not even looking up the road at me. Lucky for him, he hit a cyclist and not another car or truck. People, when you are riding on the road, dont trust anyone. I saw what was going to happen and was able to think in time. Thanks again to all of the folks in Bryson City for being...well good people.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Great Loch Raven Ride

Felt about 90% after last saturdays race, but still managed to crush my previous results.