Friday, February 16, 2007

The price of a chainring in Tucson (or why I am no longer a weight-weenie)

Do you know the price of bicycle chainrings nowadays?

I needed a replacement chainring.

The teeth on my big Specialites TA chainring were worn down and the chain was falling off when I was using the larger cogs on the back much more easily than before. I figured it was overdue for replacement.
Plus, I'd already lost some skin and blood on a couple of occasions when the chain slipped when I stood up to attack a few sharp rises on the road.

So today, I went into the LBS (Local Bike Shop) here at the university. A really cool place btw. They seem to stock all kinds of goodies that your LBS might not have.

I asked for a 50T in 110mm bcd (compact).

Guy reaches into the glass case and bring out a very high-tech carbon fiber/titanium chainring in the size I was asking for. $250.

Then the guy said he may have a Stronglight in the back. I followed him there.

They had a Fiber Lyte 50T (wholly made of carbon fiber) for $150. As a weight-weenie, I admired that for a little while. Ai ya ya, it was so light.

And a Specialites TA Zephyr (aluminum) for $70 - pictured above - and a Specialites TA Syrius (aluminum) for $100.

I asked what the difference between the two Specialites TAs were. He said probably some weight, and offered to weigh them for me.

I declined and said I'd take the Zephyr. I think I passed an important test.

I can certify that I am a recovered weight-weenie. Back in another life, say New Jersey circa. 4 years ago, I would have bought the Fiber Lyte carbon chainring. (I'm not saying I wasn't tempted here.) And probably weighed the whole damn lot to find the lightest.

Now, I truly don't care to know.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

190 miles

Today I'm really sore. Yesterday, I rode 190 miles (see AZ Brevets).

It was the 2nd time I've touched my bike this year (see earlier blog entry on the eve of stupidity). That's why today my body is aching.

First the statistics: 11:25 ride time. 12:50 total time. 190 miles. 5500 kJ (SRM powermeter). Intake: 3300 kcal (est.)

Long distance bike nutrition is all about continually fueling the body to meet the massive kcal deficit: staving off the bonk while not overfilling and upsetting the stomach. I tend to eat on the bike only. At the checkpoints, I get my brevet card stamped/signed, grab water, use the bathroom and that's about it. Nutrition cost: $23.

160 oz dilute Sustained Energy ($4) 800 kcal (est.)
2 Powerbars and 2 Balance bars. ($4) 880 kcal
3 Clif Shot Blok packets ($5) 600 kcal
8 Gu ($8) 800 kcal
24oz Coke ($2) 300 kcal
After all that, I really enjoyed my dimsum today!

Given my lack of bike time this year, I rode conservatively, using my powermeter to keep my effort level low, especially on the Gates Pass approach on Sweetwater and the climb itself at mile 105. Last thing I needed was to attack the climb and die afterwards. After that, as usual, the headwind was persistent and strong on the I-10 Frontage road back up to Picacho Peak. At times, I rode alone, other times I got dropped, got caught or caught up to and rode with others. On the Frontage Rd, I banged my knee. My first crash on a brevet since I started riding them in 1996. I was riding with two Ironmen, one guy touched the wheel of his buddy, fell and I was inches from his back wheel and had nowhere to go. Over the top of his bike I went. Banged my knee, a bit of blood and bruising around a rib or two. Fortunately, my bike was ok, i.e. no tacoed wheel. Not a showstopper.

Today the knee is a bit swollen. Got a 1 hour massage for my aching back and neck. Sauna, steam room and whirlpool should accelerate the recovery process. After all, I'd better get in some training before the 400k brevet (250 miler) comes up!

Friday, February 2, 2007

eve of stupidity

Am I on the eve of stupidity?

I've ridden my bike exactly once since the beginning of the year, and tomorrow is a 300k qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris.
If I had basic fitness, I really wouldn't be worrying about a 190 mile ride too much. Sure I won't be looking to set any PRs, but at the same time I know it won't be some deathmarch.

Instead, right now on the Friday night before a pre-dawn start at 37F on Saturday morning, I'm not sure my body is up to the task.

I rode last Sunday. Cleaned my wheels. Put air in the tires. Lubed the chain. And took the bike and my laptop down to the university, ran some errands, and did some work sitting at the local coffee shop (where the picture above was taken).

Worked until dark, then tested my new DiNotte 5W headlight on the way home. (See an earlier blog entry here for a lighting comparo.)

Total: a leisurely 2 hrs spent on the bike. 150W average. 32 miles. 1060 kJ.

Well, the bike and the headlight check out fine. At least, they're both ready. But I can feel it, despite my running program (I last ran on Wednesday and my last treadmill workout was Monday, see entry here), the body just isn't there yet. One lame excuse I have is that it has been unseasonably cold here in Tucson and that makes me not feel like riding. We've even had snow (some pics in a later post).

And that disappoints me. Whatever the environmental conditions, I need to maintain a minimum and appropriate standard of fitness for the kinds of events I do. Or I might as well not try.

What is this minimum standard? Base level is being ready and able to ride a double century on the bike or run a marathon any day of the week. This doesn't mean being able to do it on consecutive days. It means not having to any special training for it. And I'm worried I'm going to come up short tomorrow morning starting at 5am. Well, there is only one way to find out...

Dan Emery came up with the following very cool lyrics to be sung to the tune of Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction (weblink here).

Eve of Stupidity
The flabby quads they are explodin',
Nostrils flarin', carbo loadin',
You're tired enough to bonk about to start bloatin',
You don't believe in drugs, what's that flask you're totin',
And even the Santa Cruz River has waterbottles floatin',
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of stupidity.