Archive for August, 2011

So, Why Did I Switch Bikes?

I’ve been asked that question a couple times over the past few weeks, since I acquired the Jamis. So, I wanted to answer that question.

It really wasn’t a question of “need.” It was a question of want. My cycling year centers on The Furnace Creek 508. I may do a double century here or there, but they’re training rides. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with my Cervelo R3. In fact, that bike is very much “right” for The 508.

So, here’s my logic.

When I successfully completed The 508 in 2009, I was on a two-man team. My teammate and I were roughly the same height, and we both rode a 58cm frame. I rode the Cervelo, and he was on a Trek Madone. Between the two of us, we had two complete frames. Had catastrophe struck, and some terrible mechanical malfunction befallen one of us, we could have each ridden the other person’s bike with a couple of minor adjustments to the bars or saddle/seat post. Now that I’m on my own and going for a solo completion of The 508, I don’t have that luxury.

I started weighing my options. I thought about buying redundant systems: a second chain ring, second cassette, second wheelset… Well, very quickly I realized I had a second bike at that rate. I just needed another frame. But buying a second bike really wasn’t in the realm of financial ability at the beginning of the year. I was making due with what I had laying around. When I started working at La Dolce Velo, though, I earned a steep discount on merchandise, including bike frames. So a whole new set of possibilities opened up for me.

Why The Jamis Xenith SL?

Once I made the decision to buy a second bike, the real question became “which bike do I buy?” As I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with the Cervelo. And I’m not selling it. The point wasn’t to get an upgrade. The point was to get a compliment.

In looking at various bikes, I wanted something that would perform in a way the Cervelo wouldn’t. My choices were the Jamis, a Bianchi Sempre, or a Look 566. All three are fine bikes. But the 566 was simply too much like my Cervelo without being as good. It’s a plush ride, but the Cervelo is plenty comfortable and it can take a beating. I wanted something snappier, more responsive, and able to give me a little get up and go when I’m tired and feeling sluggish.

With the Look  out of the picture, it came down to the Jamis and the Bianchi. There wasn’t any competition. The Jamis is, quite simply, the most responsive bike I’ve ever ridden. Also, it’s a much different geometry than the Cervelo. The top tube is the same length, so I am still quite comfortable on it. But the wheelbase is 5mm shorter than the R3. And, given that it’s a 56cm frame, it’s a much more aggressive bike than the Cervelo. I feel like I have two bikes that will ride quite differently from one another, and I’ve now got a ride for any road condition or elevation.

Rather than go with a triple chain ring (which I simply won’t do), I can go with different gearing ratios and a compact on one bike, and a beefier cassette and standard double on the other. The Jamis won’t be as comfortable as the Cervelo, but I intend to start on it and complete the majority of the race on the SL. When I hit the large aggregate pavement past Baker, I’ll start looking at the R3 to get me through that area. Also, with the fatigue factor setting in, the shift in geometry will allow my body to work in a different way, and hopefully take some of the sting out of the final climbs.

In riding the two bikes, I feel like the Jamis will “buy me a stage” somewhere on the course. It is so much faster and more responsive, and the effort is so much more contained to the large muscle groups, that I’ll get a lot more miles out of that one before fatiguing to the same level I would have on the Cervelo alone. And buying the bike in mid-August means I have plenty of time to ride it, break it in, and get myself comfortable on the new bike before the start line in Santa Clarita.

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I’m Riding!

It’s been far too long since I was active here posting. And I’ve had some folks wondering how I’m doing.

A quick glance backward. I’m a dad to a great 12-year-old boy, and he spends 6 wonderful weeks with me every summer. As such, I don’t get to ride nearly as much as I probably should be, but I made due. I got some rides in. I maintained. We spent a couple weeks with my folks in Illinois, and thanks to The Bike Surgeon there, I got a loaner bike to let me get out and keep up with my training.

I’ve also been pulling some late nights trying to keep up with 4 jobs trying to make ends meet. I started working at La Dolce Velo bikes in San Jose to help me afford the things I need to undertake The 508. I’m able to get in some long rides on the weekends, and a long ride or two during the week. The rest of the time is filled with watching what I eat, recovery rides, and the odd threshold ride to work on the cardio.

One last kernel of news: I now have a new bike. I didn’t get rid of my Cervelo R3, which I rode during the 2009 Furnace Creek 508. But adding to it, and the main bike for 2011, is the Jamis Xenith SL. It’s a great bike. Far and away the most responsive bike I’ve ever ridden. And I’m putting it through its paces. Right now, it’s a little tough. The geometry is different enough that my legs are fatiguing a bit differently, and I’m definitely feeling the work as I break in the new saddle and get the bike in shape (and me along with it).

Yesterday wasn’t a great one on the bike. There wasn’t anything specifically “wrong,” per se. It was just one of those days on the bike when things feel off. I felt sluggish. I felt slow. I felt just not quite up for the ride. Today, though, I felt much better. I chalked up yesterday as nothing to “correct.” I slept in this morning, and I felt good when I rolled out this morning. And now, 8 hours later, I felt good with my time on the bike. I thought the effort was solid. I could have gone faster, but I definitely rode within myself. I didn’t push too hard. And I didn’t try to do too much. I just rode. And at the end of the day, that’s what I needed more than anything. I logged well over 100 miles, which I’ll duplicate several more times before October.

More than anything, I’m feeling the approach of the race. I’m ready to get on with it, even if I don’t feel 100% ready physically. I feel stronger. I feel in good shape. But there’s just no feeling “ready.” There are so many variables. So much can go wrong. My job is to make sure everything in power goes right. I have a great crew set. I have my lights and signage, and I’ve managed to save enough to make the trip and the race as stress-free as possible.

So, that’s where I’ve been. I’ve been busy. I’ve been riding.