Saturday, July 23, 2005

Preliminary Review Elete Electrolyte Water

This is a preliminary review of ELETE

Take this review with a grain of salt because each one of us is an individual and what works or doesn't work for me may or may not work for you. YMMV !
*Note I am not sponsored, employeed or have any affiliation with this company. Just tried it out like anyone can*

Elete is a highly concentrated electrolyte solution that is mixed directly with your water or energy drink and can be placed into camel baks or water bottles.


I personally have a hard time in the heat. I just seem to wilt and melt away and performance starts to really suffer. Headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, etc. I sweat like a hose. Jersey soaked, helmet pads dripping, headbands, or helmet liners get wrung out into huge puddles.

Who knows exactly the cause of why I feel bad in the heat. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, etc. And it's not like I go out on a 3hr ride with just one small water bottle. I use a camel bak, and bottles with energy drink.

In addition I cramp, bigtime. Muscle cramps in the legs have been my biggest bane to my racing career. I'll cramp in cold weather races too but the situation worsens significantly in the heat.

As any good bike racer, I'm always looking for that magic bullet. Especially when it has to do with cramping. I've tried salting food more, Endurolytes from E-caps / Hammer, and tried Glycerol Hyperhydration. I think the Endurolytes helped some with performance in the heat and in prolonging when the cramping happened but they never stopped the cramps completely in races. And I did not care for the form factor (horse pills) especially in races. They didn't mix well in water leaving a gritty feeling.

I saw mention of Elete at Jeff Kerkove's Blog. Jeff is a pioneer of the bike racer BLOG. And even if he might be sponsored by them, I don't think he'd push anything that would diminish his chances at success, and I think he's a pretty straight up guy too. I called them up and asked for some samples. My request sort of got lost in the shuffle, but they did find it and sent extras for my patience.

They included the following information and disclaimers in an email.
Please keep in mind that if you run into an electrolyte deficiency or an electrolyte imbalance or a fluid and electrolyte imbalance it is very likely that you will cramp, but these are not the only causes of cramps. We recognize that ELETE will help the large majority of people who suffer from cramps but there are some who will not be helped because there cramps are due to something unrelated to electrolyte imbalance. This is one of the reasons that we guarantee if you buy ELETE from us and it does not help you with your cramps, we will refund your purchase price including any shipping and handling upon your request. We believe that if ELETE doesn't help you, you shouldn't have to pay for it.

ELETE is a blend of electrolyte minerals in electrolyte for which makes them highly absorbable. Because it is a pure electrolyte add it, it can be added to whatever you want to drink and turn it into an electrolyte drink. For serious endurance rides most people prefer to drink water because when they consume the typical sports drinks they max out on the sugar before their hydration needs have been met. ELETE when used according to label directions can be used to make a pure electrolyte water that still tastes like water. The mineral taste is very minimal.

Some people who are serious crampers find that it is helpful to add double the recommended amount of ELETE to their water. This will add more of a mineral flavor to the water but most serious crampers find this preferable to the muscle cramps they endure. Adding a little lemon or lime juice to the mix can be helpful with flavor issues.

The electrolytes in ELETE are essential in controlling fluid balance which is why the product is good for being consumed with all fluids. They are also essential to energy conversion and utilization as well as for proper muscle function. Electrolytes are also used in the body to help with the elimination of waste. All of these things contribute to helping people with muscle cramps.

My ultra scientific method for evaluation of this product consists of the following. Trying it out and seeing how I feel. Riding in similar conditions w/o it and seeing how I feel. No timed courses, or double blinds, sorry.

Elete comes in several different sizes for mixing.

For that huge water cooler of yours


I have tried the little one in a water bottle, and the clear one for mixing in a gallon of water

The 'rip' part of the little rip package didn't work all that well and scissors worked better.


There is definitely a taste to this stuff. In regular tap water I don't like the taste at all, and it didn't go away. Take their advice and mix it in distilled water. The taste was better and did seem to go away after sweating some. If you can keep it cold it seems to taste better. I haven't tried mixing in some lime or lemon juice though. And I haven't tried mixing it directly in an energy drink.

I've used it in a water bottle or directly in my camel bak. It is real nice that the stuff can keep for a long time in a camel bak, cause I don't clean it out until I can't see through the tube!

Testing Environment

I'm in South western Virginia. It has been HOT. 85 to 90s with humidity in the 80-90%. And I've been doing rides in the afternoon the worst part of the day. Road rides, with lots of hills so going slow and baking in the sun. Mountain bike rides with low speeds and no wind. 1.5hr to 3hrs in length. Pretty much miserable conditions perfect for wilting away, and testing how well a product like this will work.

I mixed the product according to the directions, and have not tried double strength yet. Really straightforward. Open the package, pour into desired container, shake it up. Ta Da! When in my camel bak I started using it immediately. When it was in a water bottle, I alternated between that bottle and a regular bottle of water. Hammer Gel was used for energy for the most part, sometimes the Power Bar Energy drink.

Did it work?
What I do know is that when I did NOT use the product, I felt like utter and complete crap. Headaches, nausea, light headed. Pretty much par for the course for me when riding and baking in the heat.

When I did use the product. I felt normal, good in general. Hard to explain, just felt like the first hour or so on a 65 degree day. But with this stuff I felt like this 3hrs into 85-90 degree day. It's not like it turned me into a superman or anything, but I think it kept me from turning sub human and getting into the downward spiral of what usually happens when I ride in the heat.

On one road ride, 2:45 into a baking hot ride, I had to take a 'natural break' and was fully expecting very yellow urine, as the day before I'd done a hard ride in the heat, and had dehydration headaches the entire day, and hadn't really drunk as much water as I should have. But it was clear, crystal clear.

The difference in how I feel when using it vs not using it is significant.

During all the rides when I was using it, I didn't experience, or the experience was fairly mild, any of the typical heat related issues I normally do. Later in the day I did get some bad headaches, most likely caused by not properly staying on top of the dehydration.

What about the cramping?
Well I can't seem to cramp in training but in races I can. Won't be doing any races until mid August and those ones might not be long enough to make me cramp. Oct 2nd is the Rowdy Dawg Mountain Bike Race and if there is any race that will make me cramp that is the one. So for this issue I will have to wait and write a supplemental review. But if this stuff does stop me cramping, I would be in heavan.

Cramping is one of those very ellusive things without a definitive understanding or solution. Here is a great little treatise on several magic pills that you can try for cramping
Road Bike - cramps

I asked my coach about it and he said the following:
Cramping is simply a situation where the muscles fail to relax. While mineral (electrolyte) deficiency can lead to cramping, more often than not the cause is fatigue. Not only do we need proper mineral levels for contraction and relaxation, these minerals have to be in the right place at the right time. For instance, calcium must be present in the muscle fibers to allow contraction but must be removed and replaced by magnesium in order to promote relaxation. Considering the number of times you are contracting and relaxing during a race, it is easy to see how this system of mineral transport can become overwhelmed and lead to cramping. So, the answer is usually not more supplements, which are almost never in short supply, but more hard training to improve the endurance of the mineral pumps that control the flow of electrolytes in and out of the muscle.

It's depressing when you go to the guru on the mountain hoping for some secret training tool from the ages only to be told what you already knew, train harder. That being said, the above advice is only good if fluids and electrolytes are topped of and kept at good levels through a ride, so it certainly can't hurt to stay on top of it.


-Easy to use
-provides continuous dosing as opposed to impulse doses with a pill
-keeps without spoiling
-it's just the electrolytes, not anything else.
-Mixable in water or energy drinks
-really seems to keep the ill affects of heat at bay for me at least

-taste at the begining

I'm very pleased with the effects of this product on me. It doesn't make me feel super human but it keeps me from feeling like crap which is always a good thing. I'll definitely continue to use it and experiment with dosing. The ultimate test will be how well it works to combat cramping in a race situation.

I'm not a an exercise physiologist but I have stayed in a Holiday Inn express once or twice. My hack analysis of why it seems to work for me is that at the beginning of a ride, fluids and electrolytes are stable. But a soon as the ride starts I'm already behind the 8 ball and in a downward spiral. Drinking water, and intaking energy in the form of Gel or energy drink is required to slow down the inevitable. The gels/drink are working towards keeping my energy levels stable, and they do provide some electrolyte replenishment but that is not their primary function. Water is of course working towards maintaining hydration. The Elete is working like an IV to provide continuous micro doses of the electrolytes which is working to keep them at stable levels throughout the ride. Yes I will keep my day job.

Again this is just my experience, but if heat is your nemisis, I highly suggest you try it out. And they'll give your money back if it doesn't work.

Legs coming back a little

Rode the rigid 8speed today at the pond. Only a middle ring on it, so going up Beauty was tough. That is a fun bike. It feels like I'm going fast even though I know that all around the dual suspension is faster.

Intersting that my hands are hurting more on the dual with the disc brakes than with this bike with V. Even though I know the discs are stronger and I have them set up where the lever pull ends close to the bar. I wonder if the Oury grips on the rigid are giving me more cush. Plus because it is rigid I know that I'm not even going anywhere near as fast on the dual so that means I don't have to slow down as much.

Hot hot hot day. Baking out there. Next post is going to be my prelim review of Elete which I used today.

I was coming down Horse trail and was going to turn around and climb back up it, but on the way down this guy passed me. Looked like a racer. Team kit, Ipod, shaved legs. So I tried to stick with him on the downhill. He had a dual suspenstion Giant,and I was surprised to keep him in sight, and then he started heading to the parking lot so I tried to keep up with him and catch him.

He continued through the lot and kept going so I just tried to catch him and stay with him. Oh I pulled it out and was working hard to just keep him in sight and it looked like he was just noodling along and I caught him and rode with him for a sec.
Then we started climbining a jeep road climb that leads to a single track climb all the way up Brush. He dropped me like a bad habit but I rode on to the transition to single track then turned around and rode back to the parking lot and the car.

After I'd racked the bike and was cleaning up a little, he rolled in. He'd climbed to the top and then across the ridge road and back to the lot in the same time it had taken me to get back to the car and change.

We started talking and turns out he is a semi-pro privateer who was in town visiting. Gave me the nod for riding a rigid 8speed.

Also found a half pack of Spree candy on the trail. MMmm good. pure sugar. Can't beat that.

Legs are getting there but I'm still tired. And that rigid worked me over compared to the dual.

Fork update

Shining a flashlight from the bottom of the inner leg instead of the top visibly shows a ledge scribed into the inside of the stanchion leg. That is what the damper edge and damper wiper is hitting on.

Bobby at Answer gave me an RA# and it is on it's way today.

How would you characterize this type of wear on the leg? Normal wear and tear? I am hopeful that they will replace the inner legs and then it will be good as new. If that is the case, I'd consider it really good customer service as the fork is well over a year old and most things in the bicycle industry carry only a year warranty.

Update to follow.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ride with Nick Martin

Cool new pro Mountain biker BLOG
Ride with Nick Martin

Reading it I was getting goosebumps feeling his nervousness and cheering for him. A nice read. More of a rookie down to earth Pro grinding his way race to race.

It is just amazing the amount of commitment these pros have for the sport. Lower to mid level pros and the privateers who scrounge their way race to race. Eat drink, sleep, train, race. That is their life. I don't think many of them live the glamorous life that we often think of as pro cycling. They just have to love it so much to suffer like they do for little monetary reward or fame. Which is inspiring.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Testing my loyalty

Been having problems with my 2004 Manitou Black 80 SPV. The 04 damper had problems with a sticky SPV valve, and also there was a fair amount of stiction in it's movement. There was a screw up in shipping out my warranty 05 SPV valve. The shop had requested one a day before I did and Manitou only sent one. And then they were back ordered.

I'd been riding on the 04 but it just wasn't feeling right. So the 05 damper finally gets here yesterday, and it goes in fine, but there is this stiction that occurs after about 55mm of travel. It feels like the damper hits something, and then with a little bit more force it continues on through the rest of its travel.

I took the fork apart again, and drained the oil. Looking down the inside of the leg with a flashlight while pushing the damper up the leg shows nothing visible. I can't see anything wrong with the inside of the leg. I tried it with the 04 damper and it does it in the exact same spot, though the 04 damper requires a lot more force for it to continue through it's travel. It's almost as if there is a warped spot on the inside of the stanchion leg, but I can't really see anything wrong. The anodization on the rings of the 04 damper above and below the 0 ring are worn down, so it has been scraping the inside of the leg, and I'm wondering if it has worn out the inside of the leg and maybe grooved it at this sticky point

It's disappointing, because I've been on Manitous since 1993.
I love how easy they are to work on, and tinker with. Their prices are pretty good, and past customer service has been good. And even with past problems, I guess I'm just brand loyal and have not wanted to move to another company. I tried a Marzo. once because they were the only ones with a 1" steerer left and wasn't really that impressed with it. Fox is just SOOOO darn expensive and I've also heard that they didn't work too well for light riders. Rock Shox used to really suck but lately I've been hearing incredible things about the Reba and Pike. But still, I'm not about to go buy another fork. And it's just that I WANT to like Manitou, but after waiting 6 weeks for the warranty damper and then to still have this stiction problem my loyalties are being tested.

I'll get an RA # tomorrow and hopefully get it shipped out ASAP. I know in the end they'll take care of me, but it's down time which is always tough. We're driving to NY on Tuesday and will be gone through Sunday, so I guess this is as good a time as any.

Feeling like crapola

Sat and Sun were HARD days. Mon, Tues completely off the bike, not by choice mind you, had to work w/o any chance to ride. Yesterday, on the road bike felt terrible. Today on the mountain bike felt awful. Just cannot turn the legs. Also the heat was working me over.

Again it's a good news bad news sort of thing. In order to get strong, you've got to ride yourself into the ground. For me doing consecutive 2 to 3 day blocks is what will make me strong. The bad part is that sometimes it takes a long time to recover. So it's Thursday now, and I'm still not recovered. Hopefully tomorrow the legs will start to come back. It's sad to try riding when you're not recovered, especially a mountain bike ride. But at the same time, I know that in another week I will be raging again, and will be one step higher.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A cycling love story

There is a lot of love in cycling. The people, the components, the framebuilders, the rides, etc.. Since this is a cycling BLOG this story has some cycling in it, but this isn't about cycling love, this is more a love story with cycling as a backdrop.

Tomorrow is my 9 year wedding anniversary, and I wanted to share with you the story of how I met my wife.

12 years ago I was cruising down to the grocery store, Raddy Bros (Radford Brothers) in Blacksburg, VA. Parking my bike in the bike rack. I met this guy with a mountain bike. His name was Steve. Steve is one of the guys that is just the nicest guys, and fun to ride with, but just spaz. Whenever we'd ride, he'd almost always be the one to crash. Following behind him you could just see it start to happen. He'd start to waver back and forth and then like a resonant wave his motioins would get bigger and bigger until, explosion and a crash. Some people are smooth riders, Steve was not.

But that fateful day I made his aquaintance at the grocery store. A few weeks later I was at a race. It was HOT, hot hot. Like 90s hot. And there was no shade anywhere. I brought like 1 or 2 water bottles and nothing extra. Started the race and was going along, and of course the inevitable happens. I dehydrate but then it gets worse. I pretty much was bordering on heat exhaustion / heat stroke. But I did finish, because when you're not very fast and have no chance of winning, sometimes the only thing you got is to finish. And finish I did a total wreck, pasty not sweating / clammy, and looking as white as someone of Indian ethnicity could possibly look.

While hanging out after the race in a total daze, I saw Steve in a group talking. In the group was the most incredible biker girl I'd ever seen. 4'10.5", brunette hair, cut legs, the cutest little Barracuda mountain bike. Normally, I'm a super shy person and there was no way I'd walk up to someone like that typically. But today I was not normal. Heat exhaustion must work like alchohol cause I saw Steve and said to myself that this is my in, and I just walked on up and started talking to him and then talking to her.

Her name was Karen, and she had just won her class. Later after we were boyfriend/girlfriend she had said that my nose was twitching which it often does when I am nervous.

We talked a long time, but I never got a phone number or anything. Know this, I said I was a shy person, I don't think I've ever gotten a phone # from anyone. A week or two later I was walking downtown from a class, and went past this restaurant, and this girl runs out and stops me. It was Karen. On the spot we made plans to go on a ride.

The day comes and the storm clouds are looming like a typical late summer day here. We decide to go out anyway, and go onto Brush Mountain, and it started to pour cats and dogs, and we were just having a ball. I showed her how to ride this one switchback, it was so cool. And later that night we went out for a beer.

She met me at my place and I will forever remember seeing her walk into my house. Jean shorts, and a black top, and legs like only a cyclist has. We went to the Cellar to get a beer and talked a long time.

And so the story goes. 9 years marriage, two kids, and we still both ride. Cycling brought us together, and yes cycling can be a sore point, but cycling is somethinig our family does together and hopefully will be with us and our kids for a long time.

Thank you cycling, thank you Steve, thank you heat exhaustion.

Happy Anniversary honey!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Married cyclists and the Doghouse

Single cyclists usually don't spend much time in the dog house. If you are a married cyclist than you know the way to the dog house. If you are a married cyclist with children then the path is well worn.

Tell me, how many times have you planned a ride for the same day/time that something else was planned? Or had your ride go longer than you planned because you
a) had a flat
b) forgot how hard that particular loop was
c) bonked
d) were riding so well that you added on an extra hillclimb
e) crashed

Or how many times have you been so trashed from a hard ride that when you got home you told your wife you played with the kids when you actually fell asleep on the floor while they made you part of their fort?

This weekend we went to a friends cabin out in the country, and I brought my bike to do a ride out there. I had it in my mind to do this one loop, and was just really focused on blowing my self out as my second day of a hard block. It was HOT. Climbed this super hard climb at first then was hauling on this rolling road towards the next town.

Oh no. 15miles? I thought it was only a few miles after this climb. But I gotta do this loop. I had sort of reached that point of no return, turning back would probably be worse then forging on. What to do? Forge on.

I was hammering. Flying as best I could. Pushing yourself to your limit is hard to do. Winning is good motivation, just trying to be your best is good motivation. But there is nothing like that feeling of knowing how much trouble you are going to be in when you get home to make you ride out of your skin.

There were rollers, on an on. Another big climb, then a road that was supposed to be flat and fast that was hilly and HARD. The beautiful scenery of Virginia was getting overshadowed by the pain, the heat, and the fact that I had no clue how far I still had to go. This route was part of the Mountains of Misery challenge century. 103 miles. And I had been doing a 40 mile section of it. It was tough. My wife did it last year in a screaming time of 7hrs. I was 2:45 for my ride. I have a ton of respect for her cause this was not a lollygagging ride.

Needless to say, I was in the doghouse when I finally made it back. I misjudged again. Which wasn't nice of me. ...But it was a good ride! At least I have this BLOG to tell about how well I rode, cause my wife sure didn't want to hear about it. My goodness today I just tooled around the neighborhood and could hardly turn the pedals.

Man, I remember this one time when our first son was just a baby. We had planned a night out and our friends were going to watch him. First time out in a LONG time. My riding has started to go by the wayside months before, but I'd just found out about block training and had been doing some 3day blocks of like 1 hr hard. And after about 2 months, I'd gotten some speed back and was starting to have fun on the bike again.

I was on this ride, and was just riding out of my skin, it was one of those incredible rides that you just read about and dream about. I could do no wrong from technical sections to climbing. And I just added one more section cause I was flying. When I got home, it was not a pretty sight. I just don't think my wife wanted to hear how I cleaned this section and how I climbed the horse trail faster than I have in months.

I will try harder to be more realistic in my time estimates for a ride. But you know, it is just the nature of things. Mountain bikers, cyclists in general even just have short term memory loss and men especially will always say, " Oh Yeah Honey, I'll be going for just an hour spin"

Yeah right!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Chris Farley Moment

Remember that episode of SNL where Chris Farley is interviewing Paul McCartney? You know where he was pulling at his hair and hitting himself in the head. "God! I feel so stupid!"

Well that was me today. I was rocking and rolling at the Carvin's Cove time trial today. And went the utterly wrong way for like 12 minutes before I figured out what I did wrong. Oh well. It happens, no one to blame but myself.

The course was an out and back on this fire road with a few off shoot sections. I decided on the dual suspension because it had a big ring and my hardtail only has a middle. There were not many people there and most were just local riders, not your typical racers you'd see at mountain bike races. It was pretty cool actually to see these local guys come out to get on the pain train.

A fire road with a touch of single track is pretty non-technical but my god it hurt. I started out with the strategy of going good during the first half, but holding something back and then blowing it out on the way back because it is hillier on the way back.

30 second intervals and I was the last one out. It was awesome catching the :30, then the 1:00 then the 1:30 then the 2:00 and so on. The dual suspension actually felt pretty good on the fire road, some times it was bobbing which robbed me of some energy. There was one small single track section, and it was such a wierd feeling after being on the fire road to go into that, I had to remember how to flow and be fluid on the bike again after sitting and hammering for the last :25 mins.

If you've ever ridden a tandem there is a thing called 'tandem butt' It's where your butt hurts just because you don't get off your seat a whole lot. On a single mtn bike normally you are on/off the seat all day long, on single road bike it's easy to get on/off. On this fire road course, esp on a dual suspension I was in the saddle the whole time and it started to hurt a little.

I kept telling myself that at every juncture to turn right and I'd be ok. Except at the turn around it is a 360 and come back the way you came. But I was just so in another world, and we got to the turn around and there were two marshalls in lawn chairs. And it was not clear at all how to do the turn around as there was no orange fencing as elsewhere at any course juncture. There was a little single track that I thought we were supposed to go on to u turn around them, then they said to come behind them, so I turn around behind them and started going back.

And I had this red jersey guy in my mind to chase, and there was a fire road right turn just after the turn around, and I just went right onto it thinking of catching that guy. But he had gone right by me when I was putzing around at the turn around and I hadn't even noticed. I guess they were yelling at me but I didn't hear anything.

And I just kept right on climbing thinking that I'd catch the guy and thinking that the road would loop back on to the course or whatever. I don't know what I was thinking. Just trying to get into a rhythm, yada yada. Finally, I mean like 10 mins later I figured out that this isn't right.

God I felt SOOO stupid, turned around, and I had come FAR. Got back to the original road and started going back. A lot of wind out of my sails. I tried to get mad at myself but that didn't really work, but I did keep the gas on as best I could till I finished.

1:16, with at least a 14-15minute siteseeing detour. If I hadn't of done that smooth move I am confident that I'd have made right around and 1hr.

When I saw the medals they were passing out I was bummed. These are not your kid's type medals, these are like 1/4" thick real medals. My friend Chris was hauling ass. He made :57 with a flat and got gold in his class.

But consider it a good training race. As I would never have been able to ride that hard by myself. What surprises me is that I am just trashed right now. That ride really took it out of me. Which is good. All and All I'm really happy with my performance and having been able to hold a good steady pace the whole way, and not blow up early, and not just putz along. I was able to stay focused a lot, and not daydream. Obviously too focused to have stayed off course for SOO long before realizing that this isn't right. Unbelievable.

Still not sure if the dual suspension was the right choice for this course. The road was rough in spots, which this bike dealt with better, but other times I know it slowed me down.

It was cool that the event went off, as it was the first ever bike race there. Kudos to the promoters, organizers and volunteers. Though they had never had experience with people like me, as I can take anything that is idiot proof and break it.

The Roanoke Times had a story in the Sports section on this morning's paper. And On the third page there is a picture of a rider from the back all blurred as they are flying. A closer look shows that it is ME! It's a big picture, like 1/3 of a page almost. Pretty cool.

Next year I'll pre-ride the course the week before!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Yeah Horner!

What a nerve racking end to the Tour. I was up, pacing around, couldn't sit still. Oh man, just willing Horner and Chavanel to the end. He didn't make it but he made his mark today.

I've just really liked that guy since seeing him in Pro. He pretty much says what he means, holding nothing back. Sole breadwinner of a family of 4 and takes a half or more pay cut to go back to Europe. Breaks his leg, then with an ultimatum to win the US PRO to get on the tour squad, gets second. Then a second chance to get on the squad with a stage win in another race, and he does it.

Not sure if he did the right thing at the end slowing down which cost them the stage, but like he said, he wasn't going to lead it out to let the other guy win, and if the other guy couldn't beat a guy who has been in the break all day than it is his own fault.

I like Chavanel because he was the guy that Lance caught that day he crashed when his bar caught that bag. Almost made it then too. Plus I just like how his name sounds, listeninig to Phil and Paul say those Euro pro names is motivating somehow.

Tomorrow is the time trial. Just want to ride a good hard ride, Go out tempo and than turn myself inside out on the way back. Trying not to think about placings or awards. Though it is the Commonwealth games and I think they give out really nice medals.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Leadout intervals

Did some leadout intervals on the trainer this morning

6reps of 20sec on 20sec off. Start at a low cadence, pick hard enough gear to ramp up to 120rpm. Except I forgot that and was shooting for 130-145rpm. Doh no wonder I could only do 3 sets instead of 5.

There is an off road time trial at Carvin's Cove this Saturday for the Virginia Commonwealth games.
Carvin's Cove Time Trial
I think I'm going to do it. Haven't done anything competitive since May, so even though it is just a fire road course with a touch of single track it will be nice to have something to try and push hard for

I've got two choices. A dual suspension bike for a fire road course, or a rigid with only a middle ring and 8 in the back. No big ring. Hmm. Not sure yet what to do.

Should be fun. Trying to focus on just pushing as hard as I can. Watching the tour has provided good inspiration. There probably won't be many people racing but that's ok, I want to show my support to those that are putting this thing on. It is the first ever event at the Cove and that is a HUGE step because of the non-cycling friendly management of the place. So if it goes well, I hope it will help for the future.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

New Bike love

I'm getting so so close to dialing in the fit of the new bike. This has been over a month process.


I'll have to admit that at first I was not feeling the mojo. Which goes counter to everything you think will happen when you get a new ride. The Doctor Dollar feelings start as soon as you make the decision to buy it. The expectations are high. "Man, I am going to be flying on this thing. I am going to be Lord, King, God, Buddah and will have to move up to expert after the first ride"

Um, no. First few weeks, I was getting a little worried. -Did I make the right decision to go Full Suspension? Did I make the right decision going with this type of FS? Did I make the right decision going with this frame geometry? On and on.

But yesterday and today I had some incredible rides on it. It is SO amazing how changes in positioning affect power output and handling off road. And it is so specific to the individual.

I feel like a month has been lost, but in a way I've learned so much about myself and what works and doesn't work for me. In order to know that something is working right, you have to break it. Does that make sense? But having the bike not work well for me early on, has made me appreciate what it means to have it dialed in, and to know that it is dialed in right.

First thing I did wrong, was no set the fore/aft right. I set the saddle in the same position on the rails as my hardtail. But something just didn't feel right. I felt like I couldn't get on top of a gear, couldn't spin a gear right. Was wondering if it was the FS, and the bob in the rear. But what works for me is to be at KOPS (knee over pedal) and maybe slightly forward on steep climbs. I'm not going to get into the debate of KOPS and all, but it is a good starting point. I was way behind the pedal axle. I think part of it was not factoring the movement in the suspension which moved me away from the BB slightly, and also the seat tube angle must be slightly different than the hardtail. So moving the saddle forward helped with that.

But then I started with a stem that was too short. So the handling felt to quick, and the front end was popping too much. I looked at the geom chart and mistakenly looked at the actual top tube measurement and not the EFT of the new frame. So then ended up going with a stem too long, thinking that it is what I needed. Climbing improved a little, but technical climbing got worse. Downhilling was ok, but the steering was so slow. And I felt like I had to turn the bars in order to steer in the single track. I was having to force my weight back on the downhills and then the front tire was pushing and sliding.

Went to another stem I had around that was in between the first and the last in legnth. Oh my. This feels good. Not just the handling, which improved so much in the single track. I was able to lean and flick the bike in the tight stuff. But also the power output at my legs.

This is where knowing what position works best based on your flexibility. I've got very poor hamstring flexibility. So if I am leaned down to much due to a lower drop to the bar, or being too extended than my power is compromised. Going to the shorter stem, and also raising it a little put me in a much better power position. Also counter to what you'd think, the shorter stem climbed better in technical sections. This is because it brought the bar more underneath me, and I could do the Row-row-row your boat trick to pull on the bars and drive the rear wheel into the ground better.

Yes it was harder to keep the front end tracking, and it required much more body dynamics in the pulling and bending more at the waist to keep the front end down, but worth the sacrifice.

I''m getting close. The current feeling is that the saddle seems too far forward. But messing with fore aft will mess with my knee/pedal position. So I think the drop to the bar is still a little high. In fact I did stop and move the saddle back about 5mm. Pedaling didn't feel as good, and actually going downhill it got a little worse. Just like before with the longer stem, the front end felt unweighted a little and harder to steer and felt like it wanted to slide. But I was able to get the front end to pop up on demand better with the more reward body position. Which was better on tech climbing.

This is my reasoning for looking to raise the bar a little. What happens what you are standing up and then you bend over at the waist? Your butt move backwards. If it didn't you would fall over. So on the bike If you bend over at the waist your butt wants to move back. If your seat position is set, and you are bending too much it is going to feel like your seat is too farward. At least I think so.

Also I'm having trouble manualing the front end. Not a real manual, but that front end loft that is so so important in technical riding. I think part of it is related to your weight balance, part is related to your bar height, and part to the fork rebound you get after compression. I've still got a lot of initial stiction in the fork which slows down the timing of a front end loft. Hopefully due to the 04 damper, and that an 05 damper will fix it.

I'm not sure if a lower bar height or a higher bar height will help with lofting the front end. Conventional wisdom would say that the higher bar height would make it easier to loft the front end. But one thing I'm learning is that sometimes the total counterintuitive thing is what works in the end.

The other area that has been really hard is the shock settings. It is a SID dual air XC. Which is a non platform shock. I'm trying to get the full travel at least once during a ride, but also not have it be a bob monster. The neg air chamber sets how easy it is to start inital movement, basically how plush it will be. I high neg setting makes for a NICE ride downhill, but more bob. But the other thing is that for technical climbing you want the shock to be active, not locked out. So it can be a double edged sword.

I think this type of suspension design would benefit more from a platform shock, but don't know for sure and don't know how well those work for their desired purpose. I wasn't too impressed with a the SPV platform fork, but have heard that it and Fox's and 5th element's platform operates better in the shocks.

Regardless, things are moving in the right direction, and I'm feeling the mojo. The last few rides have been phenomenal, and I've got some quantifiable evidence as opposed to just feel.

Wow, quite a lot of ranting about just riding a bike. A lot of people are perfectly content just riding their bike like it is. But they'll never know if they are missing something. It might be perfect the way it is, but you never know till you try. You gotta break it sometimes in order to know it's working right.

Training recap

Mini stage race training

Fri-Hilly circuit on the road bike

Sat-2hr pretty hard on mountain bike. Felt great, rode some sections in 2 cogs higher than normal.

Sun - 1:30 on Mountain bike.
Did what I call the A-frame ride

Basically from home up Old Farm trail, Down Beast, up beast then back OF home. This time I also added the newish single track that // the fire road

NEW PR on Old Farm: 16:21. Who's a bad man? Almost 30 second improvement. Previous was 16:50 (timed from the first little creek crossing to the top at the fire road. This included some stupid baubles at the first stump crossing and then running into a rock full on like it was the side of a barn. Also walked the steep/loose tech section and the rock staircase. I was flying. There were a fair amount of people on the trail because the shop was having its Trek/Fisher demo day so that helped motivate me to try and catch people. I always work better with an audience. Wish I had the motivation to work this hard when alone.

With the 'what-if' time bonuses (What if I didn't screw up that stump crossing +5 seconds, what if I cleaned the tech section (+5 seconds), what if I didn't run in that rock and had to unclip (+5 seconds), what if I was able to push harder (+5 seconds). Then I would have broken 16. Well that is the goal right now.

Legs are tired.

Easy tomorrow.

Dirt Crit I think on Tues

Then 4 days easy with a few 1xs thrown in to keep the legs sharp.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Wire tieing grips

Ok, if I was cool I wouldn't be on Half pipe gripshifters. Tangent: Oh SRAM. abandoning that which put you on the map. I heard they are phasing out the name gripshifter in favor of twist shifter. Seems fewer and fewer people are on grip shift in favor of the new triggers which are almost universally praised. Well I'm waiting for the adjustability of the 2006 XO triggers to trickle down in a few years then I might switch.

And if I was cooler I'd have lock on grips. I have seen an old post at mtbr where a guy with half pipes cut some lockons in half and used them with the halfpipes. But for now I'm on cutup grips on very small real estate on the bar. Not enough for them to stay on by themselves esp. in wet /humid conditions.

Here is tip from the old days. Wire tieing grips. I use picture hanging wire

I unravel about 5 strands and wrap it around the bar and start twisting with some pliers.

Keep twisting until it is super tight. If you use wire that is too flimsy you'll break it. When done, cut off excess with cutters, and file off sharp pieces and use blunt end of needle nose pliers tp push it up into the grip, to keep any sharp pieces from snagging you. Do it on both ends of the grips.


Not totally fool proof, but better than nothing.

I'll be cool someday soon, with lock ons and triggers.

4th of July Parade

Neighborhood had a kids parade. Lots of kids on bikes. Hard to keep it from turning into a race like a sprint stage of the tour.



A cool site

This is another cool bike Blog with some well done reviews and links to other reviews
Making it Easier

Note: He's got recaps of the Tour, so if you are taping the stage and planing on watching it later don't scroll down. I didn't peek

evasive maneuvers

Did two laps of the Jello Circuit today. Called that because by the time you are done your legs feel like Jello. Lots of short steep hills.

Down to Ellet Valley/Lusters Gate, then up Deerfield that has 3 major steps in it. Down Nellies Cave, then left up the Woodland Hills horseshoe. back to Lusters Gate, Right on L. Gate then left into the back way of the Country club and along some steep rollers that go behind the club back to L. Gate. Left on L. Gate and back to Deerfield- repeat then head back up Ellet to work.

On the 2nd loop I was going down a steep right hander in the Country club. A gravel dump truck was coming the other way and I must have been right in his A-pillar's blind spot. This is a common way that cars don't see bikes, because as we are riding towards them, they are coming towards us, and if we are blocked by the door pillar we will stay invisible because of our relative movement towards eachother

He started to cut the corner's apex as if there was no one there. Coming right towards me. So I'm getting squeezed towards the apex, lock up the rear it skids out about 6 inches to the left, which allows me to quickly change directions to the right and I bunny hop of the road into the gravel shoulder, continue straight and bunny hop back onto the road and on my way.

Funny thing was it was nothing but a thang. No sudden spike in heartrate, or life flashing before eyes, or cold sweats. Just a flick of the bike, hop, some booney crashing gravel riding, hop back on the road and on we go.

I'm not known as a good road bike handler. But am a decent mountain bike rider. Lately my rear has been skidding out a lot because of the more powerful brakes and the dry conditions (well before yesterday's storm came through) So I must have built up a comfort level with the rear wheel moving underneath me.

Sucks to have been put in that position, but cool to have pulled it out like that.

No clue if that guy ever knew I was there or not.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Awesome link to DIY on the Juicy 7

Here is a great link on the step-by-step process for replacing the worm gear kit on a Juicy 7 lever. Kudos to the author.
Juicy 7 worm gear kit install

And kudos to Sram/Avid for making these kinds of small rebuild parts available. A lot of people would be pissed at the brake for having to require such a process. Expecting that the lever should function perfectly for as long as they own it. I on the other hand appreciate that stuff breaks, stuff wears out, and the manufacturer can choose to provide replacement parts or not. If no replacement parts are there, either they say tough luck, or if they are good they'll replace the whole thing for you. But where does that trashed lever go. To the dump. At least here the majority of the unit is functioning properly but one piece is broken.

Regardless, it's just cool to be able to take apart your lever, replace a part, put it back together and go ride.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Brake lever setup tutorial EDIT

Not sure why the Blogger dashboard can't find this post and why it isn't showing up in the main BLOG, but you are able to link to it directly.

Anyway. it is about setting up Brake levers:

Brake lever setup

There is one point that Guitar Ted pointed out that I failed to mention. That is modulation. Meaning that when you set the levers to engage closer to the bar, you have to make sure that they are not so close to the bar that they actually hit the bar. When they hit the bar you obviously have no more pull on the lever and can't get any braking power.

Ideally you want the levers to engage well before the bar and allow enough additional movement to really apply power to the brakes. And where the absolute maximum lever travel still leaves room before the lever hits the bar.

Keep in mind that through the course of even one wet/gritty ride, cantilever and Vbrake pads can wear so much that you will need to dial out your barrel adjuster otherwise you'll go to grab some brake and it will hit the bars and you won't be able to stop.

Brakes have different modulation capabilities. There is a great cantilever setup article that was written by Keith Bontrager. In his setup the last part of the brake lever travel felt mushy. That mush was pure power where the brake pads were deforming against the rim. Some brakes feel like on/off buttons. The Avid Juicy 7s I just got have wonderful modulation with a little spongy movement right after the pads hit the rotor.
Brake lever setup

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Not sure if it's good or bad

Yesterday Intervals in the basement. 10mins of alternating 1min at MSP, 1 min at SMSP followed by 6 mins rest then 5x2on 2 off at SMSP. I cut the power by 10watts for everything cause I was feeling tired and just wanted to finish the workout rather than try and slog through at a higher power and not be able to complete all the intervals.

Today 1.5 on the mountain bike. Climbed OF (17:05 from creek to top) stayed in small ring for 1st half. Down Sidewinder, up Dodger. Dodger is pretty much a downhill only trail, but it seems to be rideable just really steep. The bike was climbing well and the rear was sticking, but the legs just couldn't turn over. It was pretty steep and the front was wondering a lot.

It is nice to have a new challenge in this trail. Riding the same stuff year after year can get old, yet I tend to do the same things over and over. It's good to mix it up and go up things that you don't think about trying. Plus it's good to hike a bike sometimes as a lot of races seem to have some hike a bike but in training you always know where to ride so you don't have to walk.

But I felt like crapola. My head was hurting, legs were hurting. Not sure what it was. It could be a good thing that I'm not recovered from the last block and that hard ride I did because that means I really worked it, or it could be a bad thing that my recovery isn't good enough to get me back with a few days rest. Well 2 days active rest than one more block and then next week will be a 4-5day recovery week.

Right now I'm doing 2 weeks on followed by 4-5 day recovery cycle, rather than 3 weeks on followed by 7 day recovery cycle.

Still dialing in the bike
notes: rear shock 125+/55-/rebound 3 clicks from full out.
This yielded slightly harsher ride because the neg pressure was lower. Still didn't use all the travel. Not sure if faster rebound is better or not. Seems better for small stuff but every now and then the rear kind of bucks you off.

Tried 135/115 last time. Felt pretty similar though a little suppler. That setting didn't use full travel either.

Front end still feels wierd. Almost washing in corners. Like I'm trying to steer the bars and am not leaning it. Not getting enough weight on the front. Not sure if the long stem is forcing me to get my weight too far back over the rear on the steep stuff to feel comfortable which is unweighting the front. Or if the fork just isn't compliant enough yet and isn't tracking well. I've got the 04 damper with the hole drilled in the check valve, but the grease in the SPV valve may be failing again and the SPV could be getting sticky. There was a real delay from answer in getting my 05 Evolve damper so I'm going to do that mod on the 04 again with removing the SPV check valve and see if that helps. The 05 valve should be here in a couple more weeks.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Training recap

Yesterday did 1.5 on the dually. I'm so obsessed with getting it dialed in and getting that mojo that comes from really knowing a bike, that I haven't touched my road bike in forever.

Today burned all my matches so I can take this weekend easy and spend it with family instead of playing the "Who gets to ride when" dance with my wife.

3hrs on Brush + 10 mins tinkering with adjustments. Gotta a creaky seatpost that I can't figure out. I am starting to get dialed into the Caballero and will post soon with lots of pictures and description of it. Still having some issues with the front end and the fork especially in turns, but am feeling much better climbing with it.

Also have been testing some samples of Elete. It's been 90%+ humidity and in the mid 80s here so its perfect weather to test out this stuff. I'll have a preliminary review soon. It's cramp stopping power can't really be tested until I race though.

Other things on the horizon include a comparison between Magura Marta SL brakes and Avid Juicy 7 brakes.

Here's the ride I did.
-Pond parking lot up Horse's Annex to Horse trail to Fire road
-Fire road to circle to new trail to Old Farm
-Down old farm, turn around time trial up it
-7 seconds shy of my PR. This included 3 dismounts and some walking. I'm still a little awkward on some technical climbing with the new bike, and also probably went too hard too early. I was hoping for some totally huge speed increase with the new bike, but I think once I get better with it the time will come down quickly.
-To the Beast. This trail is getting destroyed with the monster thunder storms we are having. Going down has gotten much more fun with the new bike. Going up at the bottom was a forget about it. Had problems with some switchbacks at the top so turned around and did them again.
-Down Side winder
-To Basin trail to road
-Road to Bowley fields
-Back on the interstate to Gap Trails
-To 3way intersection then Old gap to fire road
-Back on basin to parking lot

-Didn't bring enough gel, and didn't have any food. Was bonking towards the end.

-Pushing some pretty good gears so late in a ride like that, which is encouraging. Got some nice new callouses on my hands. My triceps are soar, my legs are fried. My lower back hurts. All good. I think if I'd been on the hard tail I'd be just a total wreck.

You gotta understand that 3 hrs at Brush is a lot of tough riding.