Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sick of it all

Being sick just sucks. I fall behind in my fitness. I fall behind in work. I fall behind in personal responsibilities. Our society just has zero tolerance for being sick.

It's especially hard since it seems absolutely everyone is training hard right now. In the wintered regions, I read about guys like Christian Vande Velde's trainer sessions. Lance Armstrong's in Australia riding hard (for his rumored $1M appearance fee), Dave Zabriskie is shaving his head (it doesn't get any more serious than that!). Closer to home, we're way ahead of those Euro Pros, as we're already well into the 2009 season. I already missed San Bruno (I was in Laos), then the first Early Bird Crit (I was in Cambodia), then the second Early Bird crit (I was in bed). For this weekend, my teammates are planning for their first training camp (I'll be in New Jersey visiting family, also missing the third Early Bird crit). Hopefully I won't catch something else on the plane. I probably will.

When I can't work out I just feel like my life's falling apart. Invariably I end up thinking about equipment. If the engine's going to hell, you may as well tune up the chassis, right? I should be getting a Lightning Crank sometime soon: that'll shave around 250 grams off my rig. Hopefully the bearings are good! Pretty stupid to gram-shave if it increases drivetrain friction relative to my GPX with Enduro ceramic bearings.

Lightning Crank total weight with Extralite rings

A Lightning crank with Extralite rings. I prefer SRAM 36-50 to the Extralite 34-50. The SRAM rings are actually quite competitive in weight with the more expensive Extralites, the latter not available in a 36, which results in less cross-chaining.

But it's worse than that. I actually found myself looking longingly at the Extralite stem. 78 grams, baby, for only $200!!! My $30 Performance Forte weighs in at 125.1. Figure maybe 85 grams for the 10cm stem, that's 40 grams saved for $200: $5/gram. Cheap compared to the Trek black->red series carbon upgrade, which is around $13/gram, yet which so many are willing to swallow, but still over my $3.50 limit. But my, it is gorgeous...

Drool baby, drool!

Better, actually, to invest in metrology. My PowerTap computer gave up the ghost last summer. Since then, Cara got a Powertap, so I could use her computer. But she's going to be using it, so I should get the PT back up and running. I admit I loved running off the power grid for awhile, but the benefits of power training can't be denied. I really should get back with the program. One option is to get another one of the Powertap computers, but I really hate the user interface.

However, since Powertap came out with an Ant+ Sport upgrade for their hubs, Powertaps can now be used with Garmin Edge 705 or with the iBike Gen III Aero. I've heard only problems with the Garmins. It's like a GPS unit with cycle computer functions kludged on, power kludged on top of that.

The iBikes, on the other hand, are designed with only bikes in mind, and I'm very impressed with their engineering. Who can deny the attraction of all that extra data, as well? Altitude, road grade (independent of altitude, not its derivative, at least on small length scales), wind speed, and (in conjunction with the powertap) real-time CdA extraction. Dan Smith says I tend to ride too upright. "That's 35 watts right there!" he shouted at me when I assumed a lower position. Having numeric feedback of my aerodynamic efficiency would be a nice thing to have. Cool... I was getting really close to pulling the trigger on that iBike.

iBike Aero (any relationship to the iPod is a coincidence)

But more research: the iBikes are a calibration nightmare. Ready to ride? Normally I'm lucky if I check my tire pressure and remember my keys. With the iBike, first you need to weigh yourself with your bike and everything which is going on the ride. Enter the data. Then make sure the computer is in thermal equilibrium with the ambient. At this temperature, isolate it from all wind. Then set the wind offset. Then do a short out-and-back ride. Make sure the average wind is zero. Then do a coast-down calibration of Crr and CdA. Luckily you no longer need to do a tilt offset calculation: it does it automatically by making sure the integral of gradient over distance agrees with the change in altitude.

For someone coming off a period where I embraced the simplicity of zero metrology, eschewing even the simple cycling computer, it's all overwheling, even if I have a physics degree.. Boyd Johnson assures me it isn't that bad, though.

It also eats batteries. Like every 25-50 hours of riding. Not very green there.

Bike NutOne more thing: recently I was in Bike Nüt and saw their shop kit. Very nice. All black with white logo, or all white with black logo. I could use a new kit as most of my useful stuff is Webcor/Alto Velo, and I'm no longer there. It'll be awhile before I have my Roaring Mouse stuff. Rumor is Cara's going to get it for me as a late Christmas present.

BTW, I just put in a bid on a used Powertap head unit on E-Bay. Getting cold feet on that iBike...

So anyway, enough ranting. What I really need is to get back on the bike. Get in some solid runs. And I'll feel better. I may still be behind in personal stuff like dealing with finances. But at least I'll be happier.

The immediate goal is to get better in time for that flight to New Jersey. And not get sick again.