Friday, August 14, 2009

Bike Friday: one week report

It has been one week since I got my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro (see earlier entry here) and so it's time to put in a report.

It has already been ridden more than 100 miles, chopped, raced and shipped as check-in baggage more than 10,000 miles over two continents during this initial break-in period. It doesn't feel as fast as my custom 650c Litespeed Ghisallo, but I'm not in shape either at the moment due to severe allergies. (I lack my usual baseline fitness.)

However, position-wise, it is dialed-in now as befits the custom-made frame that it is:

Equipment-wise, it is mostly a Shimano Ultegra 10 gruppo:
  • Drivetrain substitutions: a Shimano STR600 brake-shift lever with a Shimano Capreo rear hub and a trick 9-speed 9-26T cassette to maintain reasonable gearing with 20" wheels.
  • Wheels are built from Ultegra (F)/Capreo (R) hubs with 24-hole Alex AL-R390 451 (20") size rims mated to Schwalbe Durano 20 x 1-1/8" tires. Presta valve 20 x 1" inner tubes.
  • At the front end, a 1-1/4" Chris King GripNut Silver headset. A 100mm Oval R700 Road Stem (26.0mm), Oval R910 Aergo Carbon Road Bar (26.0mm), the Oval A910 Carbon SCCS UnderOnly Clamp and Oval A900 Carbon Extensions (S Bend) completes a trick front-end set-up adaptable for road and TT.
  • A Selle Italia SLR saddle mounted on a 27.2mm diameter Thompson seatpost. A separate aluminum sleeve is required for it to mate with the Pocket Rocket Pro seat tube.

Except for the Oval parts, it's spec'ed at a lower level than my road bike which sports a Shimano Dura-Ace 10 drivetrain, SRM Professional powermeter crank, Profile aluminum bars, Sram Red 11-26T cassette and Reynolds carbon clincher wheels.

Appearances can be deceptive, the little bike is much heavier than my normal road bike. I think this is mostly due to the steel Bike Friday frame and fork compared to the titanium Ghisallo frame and Look carbon fiber fork.

However, position-wise, I can say it gives nothing away to my custom-sized Ghisallo.

Compare the relative handlebar and seat height in the picture above with the initial unboxing pictures here. The stem mast has been cut by a drastic 12cm.

However, I don't think it'll ever be quite as fast. It's also slower cornering. But it is a hell of a lot more transportable since it fits comfortably in its own Samsonite suitcase. And that's the point of the Bike Friday.

An olympic distance triathlon was its first event outing. Since I cannot swim 300m without literally gasping for breath, as a tri-virgin, it was also my first time out too. (No swim photo was recorded.)

Needless to say, not having any swim endurance is not good for a standard distance 1500m (.93 mile) swim in a lake. (See earlier entry lamenting this fact here.)

At the bike rack, looking worried about the swim:

I also discovered I lacked certain vital skills such as: (1) being able to swim straight outside the confines of a pool, and (2) being able to sight and swim at the same time.

In front of the lake, having seen the course, looking extremely worried about the swim:

My sincere thanks to the gentleman who answered the call for help and lent me his wetsuit at the start.

I needed it not only because served as a buffer against the cold lake water, but also as a potential life preserver. Without its buoyancy, I simply could not have completed the swim.

Anyway, it was no surprise I emerged almost last out of the water despite starting in the 2nd wave out of 4.

(Actually, I was kinda relieved not to have needed fishing out.)

What was more surprising to me was that I took on bad leg cramps (hamstrings) midway during the swim. Actually, I emerged quite exhausted from the water.

T1 was a bit slow. The cramp in my hamstrings meant I was unable to take advantage of my good position on the Bike Friday. On the 28 mile course, I was only able to put in a mid-pack ride time.

And then it got strange...

My sincere apologies to the gentleman pictured here.

He must have had a hell of a shock when he finished his bike leg because in my confusion during T2 I swiped his running shoes (by mistake).

He wore Nikes, size 9.5. Exactly my size. I also wear Nikes. I didn't notice until after I had finished. (Fortunately, he had spare shoes in his car.) But I felt terrible since I had essentially ruined his race.

On the 10K run, my legs were squares at first. Surprised, I shuffled along. Stopped for my hamstrings a couple of times and took a pee break. I didn't really run properly until nearly 3 miles in. But I finished.

Finally, I'd to like express my sincere thanks to Sasha for encouraging me to try what I thought was impossible (for me). I entered on the spur of the moment without ever having trained for one. I am proud to have survived it:

No, it is not impossible. However, I am by no means ready. But at least I know what I have to work on to become ready.

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