First Ride on the New Ride

So yesterday I started work early and hung in there late – I work from home so this is easy for me to accomplish.  I try to be extremely disciplined with my to-do lists and covering all my bases, however having that work-from-home flexibility is key when you have to sneak in a workout to stay on schedule.

I still can't believe that I own this thing.

I still can’t believe that I own this thing.

I took a longer-than-usual lunch and swung down to take delivery of the new bike.  They were in the process of setting up the geometry of the seat and stem to my Guru measurements.  A couple of minor corrections had to be made for aerobar pad height and the Cannondale saddle – I tested on very generic components on the Guru system.  I thought about getting into an Adamo or a Fizik saddle, but it turns out that the stock standard saddle that comes with the Slice is actually pretty darn awesome all by itself, so I figured I’d keep it to get started.

They set the bike up on a trainer and I began to spin.  The setup needed minor tweaks but otherwise it was EXACTLY like we left it after the Guru-Fit session.  I was told that the position I naturally gravitated to was quite a bit more “aero-aggressive” than most riders that come in for a first time fit, so I must be doing something right in terms of flexibility training.

Last night I set up my Garmin mount, my Cadence/Speed sensors, and the Profile Design AeroDrink bottle between the bars.  I decided I’d get up early and give it a go.


Notice the pastel-blue furniture? My “PainCave” rents space from my daughters’ Barbie and American Girl Dolls….

First Impressions:

  1. The bike gives the feeling of being a whole lot lower to the ground.  I know this is the entire point, right?
  2. I feel like my position might need to be made a little more comfortable – the saddle feels good, but it’s feeling pretty extreme.
  3. I’m hoping I can get used to this new truer aero position – it’s all new to me since my old bike was way to big and poorly fit.
  4. My bike layoff has hurt my overall fitness – I need to build back.
  5. I can’t wait to see how it rolls on the street – getting the bike into the house from the driveway it hit me how doggone LIGHT this carbon frame is.  I know there are still some weight trimming that can be done, as it is by no means in its lightest form (carbon bars, better group set, wheels, etc).

Bikeless, cold, and confused…

If you’re familiar with the song library of he great Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five (actually only three dudes and not five), the title of this post is a play on their song “Selfless, Cold, and Composed” – it’s a great song in the form of a jazz trio.  I’ve been known to swing periodically with my musical listening tastes, and my educational background as a high school band director (yes I was Mr. Holland’s Opus for 5 years) has given me a wide variety of music to draw from.  My iPod running playlist is hysterical.

My training has been light due to an impromptu vacation we took to the Pocono Mountains for some skiing this weekend – and boy was it cold and windy.  Unfortunately I came home with a souvenir I didn’t want and that was a stomach flu that lasted for about 4 days.  I lost about 4 pounds the wrong way too, and just today (Wednesday) I feel relatively normal.

Some good news – I finally sold my bike on Thursday to a guy that saw my ad on Craigslist.  In the three weeks I had the bike posted, I encountered one other half-serious buyer that was a good distance downstate.  Part of the sale was a pre-paid annual tune-up at a chain of local bike shops through 2017, so someone from a distance away would not find that beneficial.  Luckily the guy that bought the bike lives around the corner, and he’s 6’4″ so the 62 frame is good for him.

So Monday was an off-day, and I was still very much recovering from the stomach bug.  I hadn’t eaten anything in almost 40 hours, so I’m not sure why keeping my GuruFit appointment with my local bike shop seemed like a good idea?  I arrived at the shop wearing my bike shorts under my jeans and with my tri bike shoes and Look pedals.  I was walked to the rear of the store where a small fit studio was set up, and I saw this thing:

Not from the Starship Enterprise, nor a medieval torture device...

Not from the Starship Enterprise, nor a medieval torture device…

There are only about 40 of these units in use around the country.  My shop has had this since November, and the word is starting to get out.  The process sounds unique in that the adjustments are made real-time via servo motors and hydraulics.  Tom, the owner of the shop, had to go through quite a bit to obtain one of these systems, and then to be trained.  The process involved setting up a fairly benign triathlon posture set to my height and general flexibility fitness, so after taking some measurements he set the bike with a Zipp cockpit and a Specialized Toupe seat – these components appear to be very close to the used Cervelo I am considering purchasing from a guy on my tri team.

Front view

Front view

So once the general dimensions were placed and my pedals were attached I jumped on.  I told Tom about my bout with the flu over the weekend and he said that no big exertion was needed.  He set the Computrainer for a conservative 150 watts and I started to pedal (we eventually backed it down to 125 when I began to fall apart towards the end – it wasn’t pretty).

I can compare this process to the eye doctor, “Better here….or here?”  He began moving me into a more aggressive posture and changing angles and orientation, while also watching my cadence and my output.  Since this was my first taste of a real triathlon aero position, it was difficult to me since EVERYTHING felt odd.  The confusing part about it was that some of the adjustments were 5mm or less at a time!  Keep in mind my riding to this point has been on a standard road bike that has been too long for me, and my aerobars were hopelessly too far out to be comfortable.



So we worked into a series of three different “fits”, and not surprisingly they all ended up within millimeters from one another.  At that point, he put some markers on my hip, knee, and ankle and took some video for analysis.  As part of the after-action report, he will do a side-by-side with a cycling pro for a comparison (and a laugh I’m sure).  I thought ahead and found the old geometry numbers for the Cervelo Dual (P1) and gave those to him.  Unfortunately every manufacturer has a slightly different way of determining their geometry measurements, so some assumptions need to be confirmed before Tom can tell me whether or not the 58 Dual will/will not fit me in this GuruFit position we found.  He thinks it’s a good possibility it might, but there are some seatpost angle options that might be the difference.

I was pretty blasted when I was done.  I was under-nourished, slightly dehydrated, and still whoozy from the flu, but I managed to pedal pretty continuously for about 45 minutes during the session.  The price for this was $200, which is more expensive than the typical road fit.  The triathlon position is so technical that the process is much more involved to get a good position.  From what I gather, it’s comparable to the Retul system, and some of the other fit methodologies out there (and believe me I am not an expert here), but it sounds like the $200 is a pretty good value comparing to some of the other options.

So I’m hoping to get that final report in my hands shortly.  I’m looking for a green-light on that Cervelo, and then the fun will start.  Until then it’s getting back into the swing by building baseline fitness for the beginning of my program and learning how to eat/digest again!

Training updates – getting fitter and stronger

I had a couple of encouraging things happen this week…

First, I’ve had zero bites on the sale of my road bike.  I’ve got it posted on Craigslist, but not even a tire-kicker.  I think with three days-worth of snow and flurries it’s just a bad time to be trying to sell a bike.

Second, I’ve had a great time using a new iOS app LoseIt!  I’m just using the free version and it’s fantastic.  The food library is extensive for food tracking, and the barcode scanner is excellent.  I have it on my iPad but the app is really designed for the iPhone.  I’ve eaten extremely clean this week, and I can feel it.  My wife has upgraded to premium and there are some enhanced diet metrics that can be tracked, in addition to WiFi scale capabilities.

I really had a good week training.  I want to get my bike situation straightened out so I can really begin pounding out the miles, and since I am now aware that my current equipment is ill-fitting, it makes me less enthused about jumping on the trainer.  I was able to get two good long runs in keeping my HR down in my desired range, and my swims have been excellent.  I was really hoping to grab big gains on the bike during these cold months, but I’ll take the swim improvement too!

Now, I’m off to the kitchen to make a couple of Super Bowl indulgences.  We have a Mexican 7 Layer Dip that is awesome (I call it “Mexican Lasagna”), and I’m making some New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.  We’re going to enjoy ourselves today, and then bust our asses tomorrow.


I went into this weekend feeling confident – perhaps a bit over-confident.  I’ve prepared well, stayed on top of my goals, pushed myself to the point of approaching over-training (and then backed off just a tad), but overall I felt strong and ready to do some serious damage in my run and bike events.

Dedication wall at LIVESTRONG Philly 2012

LIVESTRONG is a charity foundation founded by Lance Armstrong to raise awareness and provide much needed dollars for cancer treatment, support and research.  A good buddy of mine put a team together 6 years ago, when he was just a few weeks out of chemotherapy.  I didn’t own a bike at the time, but I always wanted to get involved, so I donated a little money when I could and kept up with my buddy and his biking exploits.  Entering Fathers’ Day Weekend, I was toying with the idea of grabbing a used bike on Craigslist to begin flirting with the idea of TRIATHLON, and low and behold the perfect Trek road bike was right there waiting for me.  Immediately I decided to put it to use and began the ascent of the steep learning curve.

Isn’t she pretty?

I had committed to the 10K way way back in December of 2011, as I was cooling-down from my first 5K race.  Mid summer I decided to add the 20 mile bike ride.

(The 10K went really well yesterday.  I was shooting for sub-75 minutes, and around mile 5 it hit me that I was within striking distance of 60 minutes!  I cooked it pretty well over the past 1/25 miles and scooted in at 58:22!)

As I added distance and road/saddle time over the summer, I took to it pretty well.  This morning as I woke about 5:15, I had an inner dialogue with myself.  20 miles is nice, and certainly compatable with the sprint tris coming up in Sept/Oct, but could I do 45 miles?  My longest ride to date was 21 miles one week ago.  I would have really liked a 2nd bottle cage on the down tube, but as of yesterday evening it never entered my mind.  Luckily the temperatures were expected to be low 70s with overcast skies.


I met up with my buddy and his crew in the starting corral.  He introduced me to two of his brothers-in-law that would be doing the 45 mile ride, however both were experiences riders accustomed to century rides (100+ miles).


The gun sounded and we were off.  The first 15 miles were cake.  We were held up for a few mechanical problems with a faulty front tire (not mine), but we stopped periodically to pump it up.  The 2nd half of the ride is much more challenging than the first.  We saw an awful accident at the bottom of a steep descent/serpentine where someone on a backboard was being loaded into an ambulance.  I said a quick prayer on the way by.


As for my riding – I only dropped my chain once, and it was on a very steep hill that I misjudged and neglected to downshift before hitting it.  I also dropped my (only) bottle on another hill where I had to stop, unclip, and grab it.  The hills were very challenging, and it did prove to be the toughest part.


Big realizations:

(1) I need more hill work.  Much more.

(2) Always plan for the unknown.  I should have thought to have a 2nd cage on the bike prior to today.  I actually had a 2nd bottle with me in the car, but no where to put it.

(3) I need more group work.  Climbing in a pack is especially difficult in a pack with a wide disparity of abilities and skills.  I was by no means a weaker rider, in fact today might have shown me that I am pleasantly above average, at least at the 45 mile range.

(4) My bike is flat-out fast on flats and descents.  I was actually catching people by coasting, so the rolling resistance on the wheelset is very low.

(5) My RunKeeper app came up small today.  It had me riding 37 miles and change, instead of the 49 miles that the ride actually measured out to (based on everyone’s on-board GPS equipment).  I can’t wait to get my Garmin 910XT!

(6) Adding impromptu miles on a bike is MUCH EASIER than adding longer runs.  You simply cannot just decide to double your max distance, as your body will fail you.


Next year I will most likely not do this ride again, since there was a great nearby triathlon at my tri-team’s home lake (Lum’s Pond).  LIVESTRONG was a great experience, and I highly recommend the top-notch production.