Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This was pretty much my reaction after my first ride on Shimano's Di2 after it was installed on the Lapierre X-Lite HM. Neil Cernitz of Cernitz Bikes worked on it for awhile getting it all dialed in. He did a great job despite the fact it was not going on one of his frames. Not to worry, he is currently building a replacement frame for the one that was totalled when it got crushed on the back of my car on the way to a race last December.

Routing the wiring proved to be a bit tricky. In fact, it still needs some refinement so that the cables stay where they should with making it aestically annoying.

On the web there are a number of write-ups about Shimano's Di2 system. I am not going to get into all the details here. But in case you didn't know--it is an electronic shifting system. And it shifts flawlessly. At least so far. You push a button and its little servos move the chain to where it needs to be. It is simply amazing. It doesn't seem to care what sort of torque is coming from the chain. It just goes to the right spot.

Previously, on the Lapierre and on my previous cross bike I used Campy Record and Campy Chorus. Campagnolo makes a component group that while engineered for the road, does really, really well in the harsh conditions of cyclocross. But just like all my other drivetrain set ups in the past few years, shifting at some point or points goes to hell. At least a couple of races a year I stop shifting unless I absolutely have to once I find a gear that the chain will stay in without ghost shifting. Mud and grime work their way into the cable housing and the cables just don't move well from there on. After such a race I have to replace cables and housing and then after a week or so I have to do this again when the much builds up. It's a pain.

I have told a number of people about this switch from Campy to Di2. Most of them, at least initially, think I am nuts. Their first impression is that it is going to get wrecked or ruined. The little motors in the derailleurs will get contaminated or I will crash and ruin one of those little buggers. Well, possibly.

But here is my reasoning why Di2 makes sense.

1) No more cables running to the derailleurs. You still have brake cables obviously, but brakes aren't that big of a deal in cyclocross right?

2) The shifts are precise. During a cross race I have often not quite moved a shifter enough to catch the next cog in the cassette or I go too far and shift an extra cog. With only having to push a button this won't be a problem. Instead, my problem is remembering which button does what. For some reason today I kept forgeting which button upshifted and which downshifted. It was really wierd. I have spent too much time with Campy stuff lately, I guess. I didn't ride it for long so I doubt this will be an issue after a bit more time on the bike.

3) In the event of a crash the rear derailleur will move as far inward it can to save the servos. Once you get back up you simple push the shift buttons a couple of times and the derailleur will re-adjust itself. At least that is what I am told. I haven't tried this aspect out yet.

4) The front derailleur shifts and trims so well that for the first time ever I will race cyclocross with two chainrings. I had been only race with one ring in the front and 10 cogs in the back. In the past, shifting the front derailleur during a mud race becames ugly quick. But with Di2 there is an auto trim feature that basicly allows a rider to be stupid. I can go big ring in the front to big ring in the back or from small to small and the front derailleur will trim so that there won't be any chain rub going on. It doesn't even complain. Awesome.

5) And the final reason I wanted to do it was because I am a rolling stone that gathers no moss. I have a hard time staying with any particular setup for long. I am always searching for something else that is better. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not. But each year my overall cross setup have gotten markedly better. I expect nothing less this year. I just thought that this was the way to cure my biggest race issue other than being slow. As for that, I have my work cut out for me this year.

Now I just have to get my butt in shape.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I just put on the Garmin cadence kit on two of my bikes. It is the first time I have ever messed with cadence during my lifetime. I knew that I had a slow cadence, but geesh... I think that my comfortable cadence is about 80-ish crank arm revolutions per minute. 90 to 100 seems to be what all the cool kids say is a good cadence in the flats. So I did that tonight as much as I could with my Mule, that has a 1 x 9 drivetrain with the front chainring being a 42. Sometimes I just fought to keep it about 70.

Man, keeping it at 90+ is work. Pedalling at that speed is more aerobic. Darn it if I didn't seem to go faster too. Hmmm. Maybe there is something to this cadence deal.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Di2 is ordered. Campy stuff is for sale. Badabing badaboom.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Heart Rate Based Training is only good until the Old Man passes you

A beautiful morning after a nice rain yesterday here in Portland. A little cloudy, a little cool, but no rain and dry streets. With nothing to do this morning I headed out for a short ride.

When I have 2 hours or less I like to do some variation of a loop that involves riding west toward Hillsboro and then slightly north and then back east until I climb up to Skyline. Today's road to the top was done via Old Germantown road--a stellar road for riding by the way.

Today was my first road ride with the Garmin heart rate chest strap. I decided to see if I could keep my average down below 150. I was doing just fine until I started climbing up Old Germantown. With my heart rate pegged between 172 and 180 beats per minute as I rolled up with as brisk a pace as I could muster, my average climbed above 150 to 152 when I hit Skyline. Skyline as its fair share of oscillations, but nothing too bad. I was trying to get my average back down to below 150 and so I was riding at a leisurely 130 to 140 bpm. No big deal.

I had my earbuds in, listening to Placebo when 50+ guy riding a Campy Record equipped Parlee catches me from behind. He said hello and we chatted for a bit. He asked where I had been riding and so forth. I said that I had recently come up from Old Germantown and was trying to get to my average heart for the ride back down, so just taking it easy for a mile or two. He says goodbye and I expect him to pull away from me. But he doesn't. Not really anyway. A hill comes up and I actually start to catch him a bit.

I don't really want to come off as an competitive jerk who suddenly speeds up when caught from behind on a casual ride. I mean I could pass this guy pretty easy at this point. But should I? Should I be that guy? I mean I only have about 4 or 5 miles left by this point until I get home and probably only about 2 more on the same road as Old Man on a Parlee. Surely, I can just sit back and play my heart rate zone game and chill.


Can't do it. Old Man on a Parlee is just too tempting while he remains just about 30 to 50 yards in front of me. I had to throw down and pass him. I mean if he had been going at a good clip that is one thing. But my normal pace was faster than his present pace so I had to do it right? Well, I thought so anyway.

I may have appeared to be a jerk to him, but I just couldn't sit behind his wheel looking at that blasted $10,000 bike when he was poking along. It is like he slowed down after passing me. What is up with that. Was he toasted from trying to catch me?

I attached a snip of my Garmin's output from the ride. Blue arrow is about where he caught me. Green arrow is where I got sick of see him in front of me and did something about it. Notice that my heart rate went up to nearly 180 bpm even though I was on semi-flat roads? Yeah, that is because I didn't want to get caught from behind by him after I attacked and passed. That would have been totally embarrassing. I waited until there was a bit of an incline on the road and then I attacked Old Man on a Parlee and passed him as fast as I could. I didn't do this to be a jerk. I just didn't want to be embarrassed if he caught me again if he decided to counter my attack. I laid the hammer down and made sure that there was no way he could catch me unless he was much more fit than he appeared. I looked back after a mile or so and couldn't see him. Whew. No more embarrassment.

So I learned that I am not secure enough to let rider pass me when I am trying to zone train. I just can't let any ol' schmo pass me just so that I can stay in zone 2 or 3. My pride is too great. I don't even know why it matters, but it does.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Last Hoorah for Buttercup and One more little thing...

Going to try a couple things with OBC, otherwise known as "Original" ButterCup, built by local builder extraordinare, CernitzBike. The frame is going to soon be replaced soon as the insurance money to pay for the damage comes in. BC2 is in the build queue at Cernitzbike's top secret headquarters. But, before that it gets built a couple of details need to be worked out.

1st: Will I be able to run a horizontal dropout with only a quick release to hold the wheel in place? No set screws to tension the chain. No Surly Tugnut type device to locate the hub in the dropout. Just a Shimano Dura Ace skewer locked down hella tight to prevent wheel slippage for the singlespeed. If it works, Hallelujah! If not, then Neil and I got to do some thinking. I want to be able to interchange my geared wheelsets with the Singlespeed, BC2. If I can't, well, it just won't be ideal and it will mean that BC2 won't have access to the 3 or 4 wheelset I plan to have with different tubular tires for next cyclocross season that have geared rear hubs. Instead, I would likely just build up on wheelset with a bolt-on hub. Not ideal. Or use the heavier Paul horizontal dropout with a set screw that will allow the use of whatever sort of hub I want. But like I said it is heavier. Porky even. The only porky thing on BC2 will be me if I have my way. And hopefully, this porker will be leaner than ever.

OBC has the Paul dropouts. It worked fine for the most part. Neil is also not a fan of it for a couple of other issues that are related to how it is more difficult to align and so forth when fabricating the frame. But as the consumer, that is more his problem than my problem. My problem is making sure that the wheel stays where I want it. With the set screws I was able to use a quick release skewer. Without it...? Well, we will see.

#2. We are cutting down the top of the head tube to see how it will feel with my planned geometry for BC2. I think that I will like have the bars a bit lower on BC2 than what I was able to do with OBC. So...tomorrow we take a hacksaw to the top 10mm of the headtube and then ream it. Then built it back up to try out a couple of times until BC2 is complete. Then OBC will likely be retired. Perhaps for good. Or perhaps she will be fixed up and reused in the future. It all depends on how bad the damage to it from the accident is once the paint is removed and the tubing looked at closely.

It is late and thus quite possible that none of this makes any sense to anyone. Therefore, I will shut my trap.

But before I go, I just have to say one thing about my other cross bike to race on this fall 2010, the Lapierre HM X-Lite. Di2.

One more time. Di2.

Can you say "Bitchin"? There, I knew you could.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Allergies and Riding

A good week for riding--if you are immune to all of nature's pollution. My allergies are killing me. Eyes are itchy. Nose is running. Arrgh! And it is worse the more time I spend outdoors. Yet with the weather so nice this week I had to get out there. I need to figure out some allergy treatments that don't include drugs. I get so sleepy sometimes when I am on that stuff.

Nevertheless, it has been a great week for riding. In the past 7 days I have ridden over 128 miles. Not too bad. Most of it was riding back and forth to work. But at 12.5 to 16 miles each way (sometimes I add on extra sections to mix it up a bit) each trip is a pretty good short ride. I am trying to ride for an hour or so each way so that I am on the bike for 2 hours per day, about 9 to 10 hours per week. That is what I did this week and hopefully this will continue. 125 miles per week would add up fast. Over the course of a year that would total around 6000 miles. Last year I rode about 3000. I would be very happy with an average of 90 miles per week when you figure that stuff happens and there will be down weeks. That would put me over 4000 miles for the year--a good improvement.

Here is my weekly stats:
128.65 miles ridden
7927 feet climbed

2010 Total:
564.92 miles ridden
33,107 feet climbed

In other news, it appears I am finally close to getting paid on the Cernitz bike that was damaged when I was rear ended travelling to the USGP back in December. It has been really really aggravating. USSA insurance decided that another insurance company was liable. And the other insurance company, which is actually Hertz Rent-a-car's insurance would not return my calls. They did after I threatened a lawsuit and had my insurance agent threaten them as well. Then they not only promptly called me back, but also sent someone to my insurance agent's office to see if they could help speed up the process. One week later the adjuster has been out taken lots of pictures, sent in his report and I should soon have a check on the way. Why couldn't this have been done sooner? Maybe it is a part of their tactics to hold on to their money for as long as possible hoping that I would go away out of frustration. I don't know, but I promise I will never use Hertz because of this if I can at all help it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Thus Far

Year to date: 486.34 miles
January: 177.30 miles
February: 258.96 miles
March (as of today): 50.08

Total elevation gain in 2010: 28,166 feet

I love my Garmin.