Free Motion Rollers

I finally found some time to fabricate my free motion rollers… the parts have been sitting in the garage since the first of the year.

Why? because I wanted to change up the way I ride inside. Aluminum channel to contain the mess, my Kreitler rollers mounted in 1/4″ aluminum plate. Skateboard wheels. Bungie cords. They work well enough. I’m getting some vibration I didn’t notice on the original Kreitler frame – I might have a hop in a wheel – or the bit of flex I’m getting with the 1/4″ aluminum plate is throwing everything out of alignment just so. I might rework the inner carriage to remove the flex – and I need to find a stronger 12″ bungie – while sprinting this afternoon I managed to bottom out the forward and rear travel.

The sensation is quite nice – the rollers slide for and aft in the aluminum track as you apply power, stand, or shift gears. No more of that awkward body weight shifting to keep the bike from jumping off the frame. Ride (nearly) naturally – stand up, sprint, mash, spin high RPMs… so far its all worked.


Anxiously awaiting an order with Acorn Bags. I’m hoping to get the Boxy Rando Bag and a matching Medium Saddlebag. I’ve been looking for a way to carry my gear up front where I can access it on the move. I have an Ortlieb handlebar bag that works well enough – but I hate the mounting mechanism and it keeps the weight far too high for my liking. I think the Acorn bag will be a great addition to my rando gear. It will ride on a Nitto Mark’s rack, and I’m working on a way to mount my new Schmidt Edelux. (photos from the Acorn website)

Cue Reader

I’ve used several different methods for cue / map reading holders – from a zip lock bag taped to my aerobars to the Ortlieb handlebar bag map case. For my 300k I recycled a Honjo fender strut and made a cue holder. This version fits nicely around and behind my stem – but I originally thought I would bend the U shaped curve under the stem. I used heat shrink tubing on the strut to keep it from scratching my stem and bars. A small piece of plexi is mounted to the strut using the original hardware. The cue is printed 4 up on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper and rides in an Aloksak bag. I have leftover plexi and Aloksaks for a larger version as many charity rides and brevet organizers each have their own format. I use a zip tie or Velcro around the stem and the strut to keep everything secure.

Wool is my new Wetsuit – Post 300k Thoughts

For the most part I was happy with my 300k preparation, route, and equipment choices. Looking back I would opt not to carry the rain cape for a mid-summer ride and rely on an extra wool layer or my lightweight ‘breathable’ jacket. I was worried about cold rain and temperatures changing in the mountains. The waxed cotton cape came in handy for 10 minutes during the final push to the finish – but otherwise was a heavy choice as it rode on the front rack for 170+ miles.

Wool is my new wetsuit. I wore an Ibex jersey and carried a woolie base layer that came in very handy. I would have also worn my Ibex shorts – but I had a very bad seam issue on a previous 300k (seam + anatomy + 300k = pain pain pain). I am excited about the addition to the Ibex line of bib shorts – and hopefully I’ll get my hands on a pair to see how they perform. I’m hoping the bibs keep the seams playing nicely with my anatomy.

For the better part of the day the wool jersey did a perfect job of keeping my temperature balanced. I added arm warmers for a descent and wish I had brought my knee warmers – but even after repeated downpours the wool performed as advertised. I shouldn’t be surprised – I’ve been wearing wool gear since I moved to VT – and have never been let down – be it while sweating on the XCBC skis, the snowshoes, or winter runs. It was impressive to have a garment perform through 16+ hours on the bike in rain, clouds, rain, clouds – all while absorbing sweat and retaining a comfortable temperature. If I were to redesign the jersey I’d add a fine blended layer to the inside to cover the zipper @ the throat – as the feeling of metal annoyed me. I’d also play around with a stouter blend of fabric to reinforce the pockets. While I had no structural problems with the pockets they seemed to stretch out and hang lower and lower as the day went on. Near mile 120 it seemed my food stash and camera were bouncing off my saddle as the jersey stretched under the weight. After a gentle washing everything is back to normal…

I rigged the bike with my Carradice Barley (with a Bagman) and a Nitto Mark’s Rack. On the rack I rolled my rain cape and eventually my undershirt. I also used it for extra hydration – carrying a bottle of water when needed. The rack is overkill for a supported brevet – but I am planning to use the rack for some bike camping. In the Barley I had an extra Ibex woolie, a pair of lightweight hiking shorts, arm warmers, energy food (a bit too much), my ‘brevet’ purse with phone, ID, credit card, etc…, my glasses (I wore contacts all day), spare lenses for the Oakley’s, spare set of batteries, DanoLite, Petzl e-Light, spare bulbs for the E6s, zip ties, 2 tubes, patch kit, tire boot, ultralight first-aid kit, multi-tool, hex wrenches, tire irons, and Fiberfix spoke. On the bike I carried 2 water bottles (I have room for a third) and my Lezyne pump.

The stem held my VDO MC1.0+ computer and my cue sheet holder. The cue holder is made from a small sheet of thin plexiglass and a recycled Honjo fender strut. The strut is zip tied to the stem. I used some heat shrink tubing (Radio Shack) to keep the strut from scratching my bars and stem. My cue sheet lives in an Aloksak baggie, clipped in by 2 binder clips.

I didn’t have much time to test the Mark’s rack. With the relaxed geometry of the IF and the middle of the road trail on the fork the bike handled well. I encountered some shimmy no-handed while not pedaling as I approached speeds north of 26 mph. Tucking my knee to the top tube settled the bike. I couldn’t get a consistent repeat on the shimmy speed – some smooth roads induced no shimmy @ 28 mph, while rougher roads induced the shimmy at slightly lower speeds. The wind was variable throughout the day – and I’m sure this adds to the equation. Adding my E6s also seems to have added a place for drag to occur – and I noticed with the cape, rack, and lights the bike is a different beast than when it is naked. No complaints from me – I’m excited to get more gear up front for a fall S24O to the mountains.

I had a few sections of tummy trouble. Clif Bars and Luna Bars caused distress, Clif Shot Bloks and Sport Beans seemed to be neutral and worked fine so long as I could eat them. I really enjoyed the salty Mojo bar – I think I’ll be adding these as a staple. Poweraid is disgusting – I’ll avoid it at all costs. Ginger Ale is a staple for settling my stomach.

My rear end did fairly well. I swapped the Brooks Swallow for the B17 just a week before the ride. I’d had some minor irritation in street clothes on the Swallow and I knew the B17 was good for a century without a pad or bike specific shorts. I opted to wear my Pearl Izumi bibs at the last moment – they worked well and for the most part played nicely with my saddle. I used 2 applications of Lantiseptic – my new found magic potion. The only issue I had with the shorts is the seaming around the pad. I grew uncomfortable around the mile 170 mark and couldn’t slide around on the saddle as much as I liked. When I arrived at the finish a look in the mirror revealed what looked to be an iron on version of the pad – on my rear end. The very edges of the pad at the far end of my bottom were etched into my skin. I’d never had this problem before – previously I would get bruises on my sit bones or irritation between my thighs. I’m not sure what to make of it – perhaps the constant rain did me in… or I need to try a 300k in street clothes. It was painful for 2-3 days – but liberal applications of Bag Balm did the trick. I do not foresee it as a show stopper – but I’ll continue experimenting.

I ate:
2 Clif bars
2 Luna bars
1 Mojo bar
6 packs of Clif shots
4 packs of Sport Beans Jelly Beans
1 bag of salty potato chips
2 PBJ sandwiches

I drank:
12 large bottles of water
1 Canada Dry ginger ale
1 bottle of Powerade (disgusting!)

In all I had a great ride. I feel I prepared well mentally and would have loved to have had more time to focus on physical conditioning for climbing. It feels great to be back in the long distance saddle again… the ride was a huge confidence booster leading up to the D2R2 – and inspiring to plot and plan rides for this fall – and for 2009.

March Century

My March century was a sufferfest. With all the travel for work and play (see previous post) I’d only been on the fixed gear for short rides around town two maybe three times since my February century. It really showed – or I was having a really bad day.

I set out from Burlington and rode through Williston, Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes. In all I covered 108.5 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing. The day started cold in the 30’s and climbed to the high 60’s. I suffered from mile 30 on, with a slight repreive between miles 96 and 106 where I felt great. I had trouble with just about everything other than the bike – eating and drinking on the bike were off, I was overdressed, then underdressed, and I was pretty sore in spots. I forced down a sports drink about 20 miles from home and it really helped – my electrolytes must have been out of balance – about 30 minutes after I was able to pick up the pace for awhile and enjoy the ride. I covered the distance in just under ten hours total time, with about nine hours on the bike. Last season I completed my first 200k (125 miles) and 7,000 feet of climbing while severely anemic in 9:46! Where have my legs gone?

I overhauled the bike after my February adventure and swapped out the Campy chain for a Wipperman. The Wipperman has made a huge difference – my drivetrain runs much quieter and I didn’t have any mis-shifts the entire ride. I’ve used their quick links on other chains and bikes – but this is my first experience with their chain and links. So far so good.

I’m not entirely sold on the Selle Anatomica saddle I installed this winter. It is noisy as the leather rubs on certain bits of the frame, and I could swear that as my longer rides go on I end up sinking closer and closer to the top of the seatpost and saddle clamp. Yesterday it felt like I was hitting the top of the clamp when I rode over rough pavement. I’ll experiment a bit more – but I may swap back to my well broken in Brooks Swallow.

After yesterday I am rethinking some of my goals. If it turns out I had a bad day (which can happen) – I’ll press on and try to complete my season as I imagined – if the trend of a really rough rides continues I’ll dial back my goals, focus on regaining lost fitness and having fun so as to not burn out / stress out watching my speeds drop and frustration set in.

New Saddle

I love my Brooks saddles. I’ve ridden a Team Pro, B17, Swift, and my favorite on the IF is a Ti Swallow. Reading the Rando Group I’ve heard some positive chatter about Selle An-Atomica saddles. The creator of the saddle started with a traditional leather saddle and modified, tested, modified, and tested using various leather thicknesses, shapes, and cutouts. The result of the effort is a traditional leather saddle with an anatomical cut out.

My saddle arrived last week and I have a few roller sessions on it. It’s taken a bit of adjustment to get it fit correctly – in addition to height and fore / aft offset the tension of the leather can be adjusted. The saddle initially felt like a hammock – incredibly soft as it cradled me on the bike. I’m still working on how firm it should feel – and I’ll need to do this as I get it on the road. I fussed with seat height and tilt and found that the An-Atomica had to be mounted slightly higher, and with a bit less tilt than my previous ride. The cutout creates more flexibility – almost a suspension – than the Swallow I’ve broken in over thousands of miles.

My initial reaction is that this will be a great saddle for long distance – and I say that knowing that my Brooks’ have served me well. I ordered the heavier gauge in pre-treated ‘Second Skin Watershed’ leather. According to the manufacturer I shouldn’t have to worry about this saddle in the rain (no more grocery bags for me!).

I’m anxious to get out on a long road ride with the An-Atomica and give it a proper test – but the longest of my roller sessions (two hours) left me more comfortable than the Swallow – and I think the suspension qualities and width of the split design will shine 200k into an event.

Full Moon, Mountains

I had a wonderful full moon ride out around Mt. Philo and back. It was noticeably colder on the Spear St. side of the ride – as I turned at the halfway point the wind seemed to shift and I shed a layer as I began the return. I caught glimpses of Bolton Valley lit for night skiing, and when the moon peaked from behind the clouds I saw Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield in the distance. I’ve been inside on the rollers and spent some time running the past few weeks – so getting out on the road and watching the moon and the stars was a wonderful start to the new year. I covered 43 1/2 miles in mild January temperatures. My pace is well below that of last fall as I’m continuing to build my winter base. As I cleared the traffic in town and made it to some less travelled roads I longed for the speed and fitness I had last fall, and the long summer rides that got me there.

I’ve been using some new gear with mixed results:

The Petzl e+Lite continues to work well on my helmet as a cockpit reading light (using the red LED). Set to high with the 3 white LEDs it worked great for handling the camera and digging though my saddle bag as I changed layers, as well as for throwing enough light at low speeds for street sign navigation.

I had my first ride with the Cactus Creek Reflective Vest I purchased from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I’ve worn it out running and have been pleased with the fit – seeing as it was designed for cycling I’m even happier with it on the bike. Reflective materials on the front and back which spillover to the sides, and 3 pockets on the rear that I can use when I can’t access my jersey pockets. Its nice to see that someone has finally designed a cycling accessory that includes pockets on the back! Most of my jackets have a single zippered pocket – which for distance riding has limited uses – I like to tuck extra food, the digicam, and my gel flask in the rear pockets. The pockets on the vest are a bit tricky to get in and out of – but for now I’ll assume it has to do with the winter gloves I’m wearing – and if need be as warm weather approaches I’ll modify the stitching a bit with some elastic. So far the vest is a welcome addition to my long distance riding gear – and a cycling specific replacement to the disappointing Amphipod sash I have been using.

I’m not yet sold on the Schwalbe Marathons I’ve been running. I like the relfective sidewall and appreciate Scwalbe’s tradition of developing tough tires that resist wear and tear from the road (flats!), but they just don’t feel as good on the road as the Continental GP 4 Seasons I used last year. The Schwalbe’s feel squirmy during high speed descents – and with their tread design and interior flat protection layer they seem to develop a noticeable “hum” going down the road. I’ll give them through the winter and early spring – but my gut tells me I’ll be moving back to a more traditional road slick come next Brevet season.