Sunday, August 24, 2008

the time trial drill

Again, thanks to singlespeeder, some photos from a recent jaunt on the time trial rig.


Since I know you're dying to know, no chic aero helmet and disc wheel because... (1) I wanted power numbers and (2) I rode there and back.

Frankly, I don't think my tt position is too bad, even without the fast forward post that I've been meaning to buy but haven't yet bought. I do, however, absolutely need one of those cushy-nosed tt saddles.

climbing king's gap, 08/20/08

That's a pretty bike, no?
Photo courtesy of singlespeader.
King's Gap TT courtesy of Mark Laser.
Whupping courtesy of Fesler, Beck, Adams, Kuhl, Hankins, & Rider Big E.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

thousand mile review

The Tarmac. My Tarmac. My Specialized Tarmac SL2. After 1200 miles.

I really, really like it.


Since I don't get to ride a lot of high-end bikes (only mine), it's impossible to compare this one to others. It's also impossible for me to compare the S-Works 11r carbon on my SL2 to the 10r carbon on the SL, the 8r carbon on the Pro and Expert models, or the 6r carbon on the Comp and Elite models. But what I can say is that I've been wholly satisfied with what I have. It is easily the most responsive, snappy bike I've ever ridden. (It's comfortable too, but I've never really been uncomfortable on any of my bikes--in terms of shock dampening and that sort of thing--and have largely been ambivalent to discussion of comfort in bike reviews, etc. so I don't have much to say on that.)

I still haven't weighed my complete bike so I don't have a number. It's light, but not as light as it could be. My Rival component group is satisfactory (everything but the crank/BB is Rival), but not featherweight (I'm wholly satisfied with the quality-for-price of Rival, so have no intentions of upgrading). I have a stem that's 1/4 lb heavier than a Ritchey 4-axis (an alloy monstrosity that I pulled out of the used bin at Merv's). But the biggest weight issue is my wheelset. A Bontrager X Lite Aero w/ PowerTap that is neither light nor particularly aero. But what I want to say about weight is that it definitely does not feel heavy under me (which some of my bikes have), and that's great.

What I like most about my new bike, however, are two things. First, I have never noticed the least bit of bottom bracket sway riding my Tarmac. On my past three road bikes, at slower cadences and beginning at about 350-400 watts, bottom bracket sway was obvious (particularly pronounced on my '90 Specialized Allez Epic, but that frame is of a completely different generation). I don't know how much is crank (integrated, oversize S-Works crank/BB) and how much is frame, but this bike feels really good when throwing down. Second, the bike instills complete confidence at speed. I'm not at all a ballsy descender, but I now take hills much faster than I ever have. No brake checks on corners where I'm used doing just that. I'm still a wuss, but a slightly faster one.

When I first got the frame, I compared its measurements with all my old frames and wondered if I wouldn't have been better off, given it's radically compact design, with a 56cm frame rather than the 58cm frame I ordered. However, one difference between sizes is 1.7 cm of wheelbase, more of a difference than between any of the other size gaps. I'm not sure how much of a difference 1.7 cm actually makes, but given that a longer wheelbase generally equates to a steadier ride, I think I'm glad I have the larger size, if for that alone.

So, after over 1200 miles on my new rig I have to say I'm totally satisfied and it was totally worth it. I don't love this bike so much that it keeps me off my others, but I do love it.

Somebody (he was seven) asked me other other day what my dream bike was. I thought for a second, then happily remembered that it was sitting in the hall. Awesome.

Monday, August 4, 2008

more elevation stuff

This elevation business got me curious about other rides. Here's the elevation profile for a favorite training ride (if you follow the link, notice that the mapping program doesn't allow you to retrace your path--as in out-and-back--very well...the sections on Bendersville Rd and the Kings Gap climb are all screwed up):
Perhaps because it's so long and not so steep, or perhaps because I ride it all the time, it surprises me just how much bigger (higher) the climb to Big Flat is compared to anything else around. Of what's relatively close by, the only climb I can think of that's bigger is the full climb up Cowan's Gap (not just to the state park, but all the way up). I should climb that more often...

gps for those w/o a gps

After my last post I spent some time dinking around on and playing with the gps visualizer (thanks to Atlanta Intown). The result? An elevation profile of Saturday's ride.

That's pretty cool. I have no idea how accurate it is, but it passes a test of interocular observation (it looks right).

GPS visualizer doesn't calculate total elevation gain (from what I can figure out), which is a major drawback, but I still think it's pretty cool.

feeling so much better

Thanks for all the well-wishing. About 24 hours after taking my first dose of Doxycycline I was feeling tremendously better. Though the treatment is hardly simple--I think it's a 21 day antibiotic cycle, which is at least twice as long as anything I've ever had before.


Stories I've heard from others about Lyme disease:

(1) Lyme disease is the consequence of some kind of biological weaponry experiment gone bad.

(2) An acquaintance (of the person telling me the story) failed to complete his antibiotic cycle, the stuff came back, and now he's pretty bad off. (Though it's not clear what was meant by "pretty bad off.")


I piddled around a couple of times last week on the mountain bike, then got out for a 68-mile road ride on Saturday (down to Chambersburg, Apple Way west to Fort Loudon then up to Cowan's Gap...north on 75 to Fannetsville, over the mountain (two mountains) to Upper Strasburg and back home). I felt better than I had in, well, a month. Even with so little riding of late. Remarkable.