An Old Man Changed My Ride (and maybe my life) Tonight

Another good cycling (and human interest) story!

The Sky Runner

“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

This evening, during my training ride, I came upon an old man sitting next to his bike on the side of the trail.  The paved trails of Houston are quite popular during this hour, especially on a beautiful day like today, so I pass by tons of people on this trail and think nothing of it.  But today, something told me to stop and ask if he was okay.

“I’m tired,” he stated. “I outdid myself. I’ve done 12 miles already and this trail can get hilly.”  I immediately offered him some of my water, another thing I would hardly think to do for a stranger. To my surprise, he gladly accepted.

I spent the next 30 minutes listening to this old man’s life story in awe.  He is 85 years old, helped found…

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Lance Armstrong registers to ride in 2015 Livestrong Challenge

Go chief! Nice to see LA back on the bike…

I’m sure this is going to really ruffle the feathers of all those muppets who seem have a lot misplaced and displaced energies- spewing their vitriol. I always wonder why most of these ‘fans’ of cycling don’t get that upset over the corrupted criminal governments drone bombing women and children…but instead get so angry over an athlete using ped’s and lying. In the end, it’s ALL entertainment. But when governments destroy liberty, that’s REAL life.

 If nothing else I’ll get a huge kick from those who are going to implode over this news! C’est la vie I suppose.

Tire Pressure: Data and Details

The science of friction… tire pressures, rolling resistance and speed-

Perceptions versus reality….

Thanks to Jan and Off the Beaten Path for another insightful and informative article.

Off The Beaten Path

Illus.BQ.RollTest A little while ago, I wrote about how new scientific research has allowed us to design wide, supple tires that offer the speed of narrow, high-end racing tires. The key finding is that above a certain threshold, increasing tire pressure no longer results in lower rolling resistance. While these new data have become widely accepted – witness professional racers adopting wider tires and lower pressures – it’s natural that new ideas are met with skepticism. In order to contribute to a better understanding of how tires work, I’d like to share more data from Bicycle Quarterly‘s testing. tire_pressure_rolldown The data above came from Bicycle Quarterly rolldown tests of various tires. The results indicate that above a certain threshold, for clinchers, tire performance increases only very slightly, if at all. It’s not surprising that the 38 mm-wide Mitsuboshi tire rolled faster at 35 psi than at 25 psi – it was…

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Base Training – Fact Or Fiction? (GCN Video)

Long and slow base miles, shorter, quicker miles, Periodization, HIIT and now HIIT-tabata style. There are many ways to ‘train’ or condition the body for endurance rides, sportives, spirited club riding or racing.

What I have ascertained from all of these different methods, articles and real world experiences is that there is no single method that can really lay claim to being the ‘best’ or the be all
to end all method. Because everyone who engages in aerobic conditioning responds differently to the varied methods of training.

Bottom line is that they all work, it’s just that some of the tried and true methods may yield better results than other methods. And the end result depends on the varied physiological factors of each individual utilizing a particular method. So, whatever works for you…go with it!

Odds, Observations-n-Ends

I was on the fence about the almost ‘obligatory’ year-end synopsis riding post…because after all, these types of posts are mostly self-serving…but what the hell. If nothing else, it’s a post…

My 2014 riding year started a bit late, due to the hellacious and brutally cold, snowy weather in the northeast last winter…I was nearly dormant from January to April. Having put in only 3 measly rides (1 in Jan, 2 in Mar) So, I figured I would be behind the ‘curve’ so to speak for 2014 season.

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Indeed, 2014 was a bit of an odd riding year for me, with the usually ups and downs. On the plus side, I was building a new rig over the winter. I was excited going through the process of assembling and piecing together my first ‘proper’ bike. (Meaning, a mostly all carbon machine that would be relatively light- as my previous carbon bike weighed in at almost 20 lbs!)

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I had visions of setting pr’s on all of my local climbs, speeding down the road on my new stealthy, sleek steed…but because of my late start and some other varying reasons, those visions never really materialized, except for a few climbing pr’s here and there. The oddity of the human body never ceases to amaze me. Obviously I’m not a professional athlete or even what some might consider a high-level amateur athlete. I do not ‘train’ on a regular basis or do I have a training plan for that matter.

But, I think I’m in decent shape, enough so, that I feel I should be able to cycle 50 to 100 miles without any serious difficulties. Which, thankfully I am able to. But sometimes, just climbing a few flights of stairs can be tiring. Or, hiking for instance. There were a couple of occasions this past summer I had been on hikes of 3 to 5 miles and I struggled. Inexplicably, struggled. Which, is massively frustrating.

There were days on the bike that I was fairly strong, then there were days that I had felt like a was run over by a bus the previous day/night. Days I could hang and even pull with small faster groups averaging 17-18 mph. But then on some days, barely able to sustain a 13 mph average pace. Though I did manage to claim a bunch of kom descents and even top 85 kph on a fast 1 mile descent. But I digress…for whatever the physiological reasons, I have always had a sort of yo-yoing level of fitness, but it is more pronounced on the bike.

There are some notable explanations, but sometimes the body just say’s no, not today buddy, fuck you. Sure it’s extremely irritating, but the body is the BOSS. Whatever you say boss…not much one can do to beat the boss. Sooner or later, the boss has the final say! So, over the past 2-3 years I have just begrudgingly accepted these ‘human’ failings, or let downs if you will. Plus, at 50 my expectations have dimmed somewhat and that too is okay.

In staying with the odd (or just amazing) for 2014, there were the ‘odd’ ride adventures. Getting caught in a mega downpour (actually reported as heavy micro bursts) only 6 miles from home, but man those 6 miles took almost an hour. The rain was so dense and slashing, I could barley see. Not too mention the rivers of flash floods I had to traverse! I was utterly soaked and shivering to the bone. Then there was the bear ride! Spotted two black bears in Califon NJ while on a quiet side road. I was climbing at the time and thought, well if I had to retreat, at least it would be downhill. So, 40+ would be do-able…

There was the odd spotting of the typical road debris- road kill, trash, discarded water bottles and of course the occasional sneaker. But also underpants, bra’s, baby pacifiers and I even eyed a bucket full of light bulbs…then throw in the ever-present wildlife of scampering deer, elegant foxes, big fat bunny’s, colorful turtles, frogs and garden-type snakes! While mundane in so many ways, my riding season had offered many the odd sights and hazards along the way.

To that ‘end’ I managed to throw a leg over my bike(s) 8 more times than I did in 2013, despite being off from riding 18 days during July. The big push in the 4th quarter certainly helped that achievement. Scanning back to November-December 2013, I had ridden only 4 times (3 in Nov, 1 in Dec) compared to 23 rides in 2014 (13 in Nov, 10 in Dec)

2014-2013 ride stats

In analyzing my 2013/2014 stats, it appears that I have surpassed last years totals in rides and hours (miles too, but I don’t worry about miles- I measure my riding by time rather than distance)  Though a deeper analysis reveals this; In 2013 I averaged 2.25 hrs per ride, but in 2014 only 2.2 hrs per ride. In ’14 I climbed 19,214 feet less than in ’13. So, like I said earlier, it was a year of ups and downs though the overall take away is positive. I enjoyed most of the year on and off the bike and that’s not a bad thing. So here’s to 2015 and all that it has in store, bring it on….

Even though I despise the cold weather, I have forced myself to go ride in the cold, even if it’s just a 10-15 mile jaunt. I’m hoping it pays some aerobic dividends this coming year. Fingers crossed mates!

Safe riding and a Happy New Year to all!


Ciao, Adios, Wiedersehen, DagAu revoirДо свидания, Ha det, Até logo, buh-bye…

13 in ’14 (Freewheel Burning)

“Look before you leap- has never been the way to keep, our road that’s Free”

 

Ride with GPS Segment Leaderboard for 2014


Man+Machine (The Antagonist)

Top Descent Segments – 2014

Schooleys Sweeping Swoop  – 1.2 Avg Spd. 39.1 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Descenso Caliente Combs  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 25.9 Ranked #1 with 3 efforts
Spencer Sweepers  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 26.9 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
The Pond Hill Esses  – 0.3 Avg Spd. 29.7 Ranked #1 with 8 efforts
Blacksmith Descent  – 1.3 Avg Spd. 29.3 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
Wertman Plunge  – 1.0 Avg Spd. 22.1 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
Union Mills – 0.4 Avg Spd. 32.1 Ranked #1 with 20 efforts
King George Drop  – 0.6 Avg Spd. 39 Ranked #1 with 11 efforts
Willow Bridge Bends  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 28.6 Ranked #1 with 28 efforts
Hunter-Killer (Blood in the Water) 0.7 Avg Spd. 32 Ranked #1 with 8 efforts
Alstede-Gristmill 1K – 0.6 Avg Spd. 35.2 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Mill Rd Mambo  – 0.6 Avg Spd. 29.5 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Somerville Downs  – 0.7 Avg Spd. 36.4 Ranked #1 with 16 efforts

A Climber too slow, a Sprinter no not so-

But give me a descent- where the road twists and bends
Man, I’ll slice every curve in sight and go head long into any dare…

 

There was a point earlier in the year, somewhere in the June-July period where (for which I have no real tangible explanation) I started to lose my nerve on quick descents. That edge, my one strength, ‘my thing’ as it were on the road was slipping away…I was being cautious, too hesitant.

I had started to have doubts and allowed my fears to dictate my decisions. So, rather than just give in I forced myself to plunge into fast, technical descents, I would watch clips of Grand Tour Descents, the TT and the Ulster GP on YouTube, which provided inspriation and gradually my confidence returned.

Like Chopper say’s sometimes you just gotta…Harden the Fuck up 😉

 

In my view, we are living in an age with anti-liberty statists who consider “danger” and “risk” to be a pejorative. To that I say aye, fook ’em all. We are still relatively free men and women (but who knows for how long). How dare anyone else decide what is safe and what is not for the rest of us- if it’s a clear cut choice.

After all choice is, the crux of Freedom. And Risk, like Fear is no more or no less than that of our own perceptions. Some may have more aversion to risk than others, which is fine. But I would tell those who are trying to ‘save me from myself’ don’t dare decide the amount of risk that is deemed ‘acceptable’ for me, based on your own fears, your own limitations.

Taking risks is a part of life, mostly because we can, well, at least for the moment.
It is Passion, it is drive and the challenge that light the spark.

The quest for speed and excitement becomes a marked determination for some, those moments to test skill and suppress the always present mind-killer, fear. The elements of risk and danger versus the desire to push our own abilities, our own Mortal limitations….

To me, there is nothing like pressing the boundaries of risk and fear, to make one feel alive. Passion, Ferocity, Risk and Fear are part of the essence of ones spark…the spark that is the very essence of life

Addio 2014…addio

 

Tested & Ridden | Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks

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( In total, I put over 3300 miles on this set of Vittoria Zaffiro’s before changing to a new set)

Earlier this year in June, when I first reviewed the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25 clinchers, I did so after putting only about 342 miles on the set. Since then my initial impressions have changed a bit. To date I have what I consider is an unbelievable 2,503 miles on the set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks. Even after 2500 miles, these tires are performing very well. Not a cut or a tear to be found and I have had not one flat (so far!)

As I had remarked back in June, the durability was a bit of  an unknown factor at the time and although I did read some reviews which stated they were a long lasting tyre, one never knows until one actually puts the miles on. Well, I can now state without any bias, that the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks are one of the most durable road bike tire brands I have ever ridden and they are also some of the best all around tires I have ever ridden on.

Set up and peel off into a fast corner, the Zaffiro’s provide stable grip all the way through to the edge of the tyre. Transitioning from right-to-left and left-to-right in quick esses, they never miss a beat. Compared to my previous set of Ultrasports and Maxxis, the Vittoria’s don’t exhibit that sometimes ‘vague’ feeling, especially in the front tyre as some other brands tend to do at higher speeds. Shoulder to edge grip is high and consistent, providing a secure feeling when carving through the corners.

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For 60 TPI tire, the Vittoria’s have a high-level of side and edge grip and provide very predictable feedback, as well as having lasting durability. And to be sure, I have put these tyres to the test in many high speed sweeping and technical corners, in which I have claimed a half dozen top segment spots. In both dry and wet conditions they have simply performed exceptional while remaining markedly consistent.

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Compared to some of the previous brands I have ridden on; Hutchinson, Maxxis, Kenda and Continental, the Vittoria’s stand well above the rest (though the Conti Ultrasports are nearly as good imo). The Zaffiro Pro Slicks mounted on my R-002 Supersport machine have been through all types of terrain and all types of road conditions and have performed exceptional in all instances during the 2014 riding season. This includes many varying types of surfaces from gravel and dirt to rough and smooth pavement as well as a wide range of cool to hot summer temperatures.

Though billed as a ‘training’ tyre, with a ‘tread’ I would absolutely recommend the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks for anyone wanting an all-around tire for touring, club riding- both casual and aggressive and training races as well. Typically, I run about 100-102 psi in the rear and 95-96 psi in front. Bottom line is that I have a lot of praise for these tires which upon initially purchasing them, is something I did not think I necessarily would have said.

Given what I had purchased the Zaffiro Pro Slick set for, $31.00 on sale and additional $6.00 for s/h and considering the performance-to-price ratio (or Benefit-to-Cost ratio) the Zaffiro Pro Slicks earn 4 and half stars in my book.

Size: 700c x 25mm
Bead: Kevlar-Folding
Weight: 250g
TPI: 60

(as with all reviews, the opinions expressed are dependent on a variety of factors derived directly from my experiences)