Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New Saddle and fit

Sniped a Mistica on Ebay, been interested in this saddle a long time (I've worn out many Arione Tri's in my time) put it on the FUJI and adjusted the fit. Got a lot more roll in the hips, I like it. Power is a lot smoother at the top of the stroke.

Still a couple of tweaks to make, but overall happy with it so long as it feels good turning left!

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, March 5, 2018


I haven't been totally honest with you guys. Since late 2015 when I began working with my new coach Derek Dalzell, we've had one thing in mind... one "long term" goal that we knew would take years to come to reality, with no guarantees that it would even then. And so, nose to the grindstone, we've waited and worked toward it. Now, it's time to put it out there and bring it to words in "public" for the first time. July 2018, I'm going to attempt to best Jason Sprouse's US National hour record of 45.641km

Some folks might find that a pretty modest distance for a Men's master's record. I did, and that's exactly what spurred me on towards it. If you were to look at the AG records, the 35-39 record is certainly the "softest" one still out there. That's not in any way taking a dig at the record... it's stood for 10 years and was done at T-town (outdoors at not the fastest track in the world) something I'm fairly sure I couldn't do. Nonetheless, I think with the right amount of "smart planning" and hard work, a nobody has been triathlete with only minimal track experience like myself might have a shot at putting a couple of meters (at least 10 please!) onto the record and getting my name jotted down on USAC's record page. That said... I've gone 41k in my hour last year at Rock Hill... that means I need to add around 19 laps to that. 19 laps is a LOT of laps.

So you say... you are crazy... how do you plan to get that many more laps plugged into the same time frame. Well... I've definitely worried thought of that.

First, from the data we collected at the track at Rock Hill, there are some things to be considered. The primary one is that we were ONLY aiming to best the current track record (40.5km) which meant both gearing and target lap times were set to be slightly up on that pace... NOT my threshold (or, looking at the power data, anywhere close) which means, on paper, I should have been able to go much farther. Now, paper vs. reality is two things... and I didn't feel great at the end of that hour... but it was my "first" time. I plan to do another tune up hour (again at Rock Hill) quite soon, and we'll see if I can't add a fair amount to that.

Another thing I plan to use to tip the scales in my favor is location. Aguascalientes Velodromo Bicentenario is the fastest track in the world, as it is a fast wooden (indoor) track with the near optimal amount of elevation. Many very smart individuals estimate that going to that track "gifts" you a "free" kilometer or so in distance. Being indoors it also means I'll be able to run a front disc, which should help with the aerodynamics. The downside to going to altitude is that it can have a negative effect on your ability to produce power... but I'm hoping to adapt well (and lets be honest, I don't have much power to lose)

Alex Simmons (who has an excellent, much more technical blog you should certainly check out) has done a lot of hard work figuring out what kind of W/CdA is necessary to go a certain distance at certain elevations. Using his charts, it seems like, roughly, I should be able to do 47km. Again, Paper vs. Reality, but from all I've seen this paper lines up pretty accurately.  That gives me a little wiggle room if things don't go perfectly.

There will be more updates in the future as things develop and I know more. I've also been keeping a blog entry over the last year or so that has chronicled the journey... once this is all done and finished I'll edit it and release it in a couple of posts. It should be fun to look back at what I've learned over the years!

So, until next time, thanks so much for reading! Time to turn left!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How To: Install Soyo (or other Track) Grips

I was halfway through installing these the other day when it struck me I should do a "how to" on it... that's why one grip is already on and the pictures kind of suck. Sorry... be glad you got anything!

Since I've made my way into the world of track, there has been one seemingly endless source of frustration... getting those dang grips on "easily." Some people will always prefer just good old fashioned bar tape, but personally, I like the grip from Soyo's. (with gloves on... might be a little tough to handle if you ride gloveless) Well, the first time I *attempted* to install some, I absolutely ripped my hands to shreds. So bad in fact that I had to stop and wait a couple of days to finish while the skin healed back. That was after spending an hour or two online looking for the "easy" way to install them. Sure, a google search will find you a couple of threads and some YouTube video's, but nothing really helpful for installing the super tight NJS style grips. (Soyo, Yoshida Champs, StrongV, etc) so, using what little I picked up online, and a lot of trial/error, I've gotten really good at installing them, and I thought it'd be fun to put a resource out there that was a little more in depth. So lets get to it.

- Lubricant/glue - 
The first thing to decide is what kind of lubricant you want to use. First, let's be clear, you want something that won't continue being slick after it dries. (When you're twisting from a start or in a sprint, you don't want the grips moving) That means oil/wd40/grease/etc isn't what you're looking for. From the things I've tried, it really comes down to 3 choices. 
- Rubber Cement
- Hair Spray
- Windex (soapy water would be fine too) 
All of them have positives and negatives, so I'll let you decide as to which one to use. I've tried all 3, and have my own thoughts on each. 

Rubber cement is the "traditional" way if such a thing exists. The Keirin stars in Japan (or their mechanics) do this using rim cement (I used Elmer's rubber cement... but whatever) and once that sets, those grips aren't moving. EVER again. The good thing about that is you don't have to worry about anything slipping on you when you are really torquing on the bars. The downside is that you've basically bonded your grips to your bars, and getting them off is a matter of literally cutting them off. Once you've got them off there is also the matter of cleaning the dried glue off before you can move forward. That's not a huge deal on metal bars as any number of solvents will help you along, but on carbon it's a little more dodgy. There's also the fact that you will inevitably (or at least I did) make a hell of a mess installing them in the first place. Fortunately, it's a lot easier to clean up while everything is still wet, but still... it's not a lot of fun. I used this on my Nitto bars, but honestly... I think it's overkill.

Hair spray is the next step down in terms of hold vs. mess. This is what I consider the go-to method. You'll get a lot of hold, some lubrication while installing, and not a lot of mess either installing or after removing. This is what I've used on most of my carbon bars since it's a lot less difficult to clean the residue off if I ever want to replace the grips. I use good old aqua net (also what I use for my 3d printer build plate) because it's cheap, unscented and readily available. Some of the "spritzer" bottles might work a little better as they stay "wet" longer than the aerosol spray does, but I haven't had much problem.  The main downside is the over spray, and that it's pretty fast drying so once you commit, you need to get the grip on asap. It's almost certainly not the same strength hold as glue is, but unless you're really putting a ton of torque into your drops, I can't imagine them budging. I've tried multiple times (using both hands) to move mine, and I can't do it. Although I'm not a pillar or upper body strength to compare to.

Windex is the go to for when you're having issues getting the #$@*& things on. (Soapy water is a fine substitute as well) Windex is really nice for installation because you can be LIBERAL with the application and not worry about it. It's quick drying, which is another nice bonus to using it. The downside is that you don't get any extra "stick" when it dries, so just the tightness of the grips is all that keeps it from moving. I can move the "centering line" of my Soyo's ever so slightly when I use this method under normal conditions, and I can twist it a bit if I really try. Not enough that it would be noticeable mid-sprint/start, but enough that you can see it afterwards. If you're a big stickler for things being perfect (I sort of am) then it might drive you crazy... but functionally it should be fine for the already super tight grips.

Other Options There are a bunch of folks (well, some anyways) that use other methods. One that's pretty popular is using an air compressor with a needle nose (search google/YouTube for installing a golf grip with an air compressor to get an idea how it's done.) to "slide" it on while consistently blowing air under it. I've tried it a couple of times, and I don't find it to be a great installation method. That said, it is great for removing the grips, and it can help you straighten things up if you got it twisted around somehow. Overall, I think it's meh, but to each their own. Another option some suggest is boiling the grips to make them more pliable. You could also heat them up with a hair dryer / heat gun (I'd be very careful with a heat gun that you don't burn them) I've actually heated the ends before to make them easier to slide over the tip of the bar when starting out... I don't know that'd I'd go so far as to boil them though.

Alright, so you've picked your poison. For the installation part I'm using the Windex method, mainly because I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the short grips on or swap them for longer ones. I'm also putting these on Sphinx bars, which are so noodly that I'm likely not going to be using them for lots of sprinting/hard starts... so no need to glue them on.

Here's the steps I use to get them on "easy"

Secure the bars
This is probably the thing that made the biggest difference for me. Take the stem/bars off of the bike (or mount the stem to the bars if you haven't installed them yet) and remove the fork or use a spare fork/metal rod to attach the stem to. Then secure the fork/rod in a vice or your bike stand (so long as it's sturdy) with the end of the bar facing you.  You're going to be tugging/twisting/pushing on this thing in anger pretty soon, so it needs to be well braced.

Lube it up
I start by spraying down the inside of the grip and the very end of the bar. I just want to get the grip slid over the lip of the barend to start with (and if you go crazy with the Windex at this point everything will be too slick to get a good grip on.

Windex to the rescue

As you can see, the grip has to stretch a pretty significant amount to fit over the bars. Again, if windex is proving to be a little tricky getting the grip over the end, you can gently heat it up and you shouldn't have any problem clearing it. Now that you've got it started, it's time to get a bit more liberal with the Windex. I coat the rest of the bar, and spray a little more into the end of the grip for good measure at this point.

Test your grip strength
At this point it's all about how tough your hands are and your technique. Personally, I've got delicate hand model'ish hands, so it's here that I pull out my trusty leather work gloves (whose real purpose is relieving stress in spokes on wheels I build, and occasional yard work... very occasional) and spare myself the blisters that I'm sure to incur without them. If you're more of the "manly" type, then by all means forgo the gloves.

The best method I've found is to take your other hand and brace the bars (pushing back against the bend in the drop) as you both push and slightly twist the grips up the bar. You don't want to go crazy with the twisting, as you want the grip to line up straight when it's all the way on, but twisting will help it climb up the bar.  Once you get about halfway up, it'll become much more difficult. At this point it's best to go back down to the start of the bar and start pushing/twisting again. Once the grip moves up in that area, go back to the top of the grip and pull it further up. It's a little tough to describe, but you'll get more grip on the bar by working in these two steps.

Go back and make sure it's all the way on

When you get close to finished you need to check and make sure that the end of the grip is firmly against the end of the bar, it can be a little hard to tell. Once it's on, check and see if it's lined up correctly. (Most grips have a seam that runs straight up the grip... I always line that up dead center) You want to do this now, because after the Windex dries up it'll get much more difficult to make adjustments.

And  that's how that is done. I'm still not 100% sure if I'll keep the short ones or get some long one's... I really only use the back of the drops on these bars (check out that super short stem on these Sphinx's to keep them legal)  so I don't really need any more surface area, but then again it might look slightly better with the longer grips. If I do, maybe I'll update this with pictures using another style.

Well, thanks for reading, hopefully this saved somebody from some frustration and blisters!

- Christopher Morelock

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Short Update on a bit of a Milestone

It's been over 3 years since my bout with overtraining. In that time a lot has changed... and while I tried my best to eliminate the temptation to compare myself to how I was before, in the back of my mind it was always there, sort of taunting me.

It's been a long road, one that isn't finished yet, but last week I took a step forward that I thought might never come. For the first time since 2014, I set new (all time, including before my bout) power records for 15, 20, 30 and 40 minutes.

Seeing those peak power values update from 2014 to 2018 is unbelievable... something I thought might never happen. A special thanks to Dalzell Coaching for helping make it possible. Everything from this point on is uncharted territory. I'd like to think this was all physical... but part of me wonders if (due to it seeming to be a "floodgate" of PB's over a few days) there was not some mental barrier I had constructed for myself over these last few years. Perhaps I'll never know.

One thing is for sure... everything past this point is a bonus that I probably don't deserve. I'm going to make the best of it. Onward to bigger and better!

Thanks for checking in, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How To: Add laces to your (non lace up) cycling shoes

If your first thought was "why?" then you're obviously new here. We'll forgive you for that. The stuff we do and try on this blog isn't about having good reasons, it's about seeing if we can do it. That said, my poor Specialized 74's have seen better days. I had replaced the boa's about a year ago and cut the new wires slightly too short, which made getting into them a real pain. A week or so ago I broke one of the new boa's and decided instead of replacing them again I'd see if I could make them into lace ups! Because that's the hot thing right now. It'd also be practical as it'd make it a lot easier to get into them and one might argue have more control over keeping them tight when riding. So there, there's you reason. But really, this isn't a blog for rational reasoning, just trying to do new and interesting stuff.

So, you want to breathe some new life into some old kicks. I did with my old Specialized 74's. 

They've seen better days since then. Not long after adding some gold "flare" to them one of the boa's broke on me.  The simple solution is to just contact boa and get a replacement shipped to the door, but that's no fun. Since I've been using these as my backup track bike shoes, I was interested in trying to convert them to lace ups. So, after scouring the internet for some time, I cobbled together what I decided was the "best" way to do it, and so this post was born. 

While the themes here are universal, keep in mind that your specific shoes might require more/less work, and you could indeed ruin your kicks if you screw it up. Follow at your own risk.

First, let's get to what you'll need.
- Seam Ripper
- Butter Knife
- Heat Gun (probably not necessary)
- Xacto Knife
- Hammer
- Leather Punches (+ a block of wood... junk)
- A leather punch tool with rotating head (you can probably pick one of the two)
- Eyelet Tool (and eyelets)
- Some laces

All of that together is probably $20-30 worth of stuff (minus the heat gun) depending on what you already own.  You can get the seam ripper (get one with a big handle) eyelet tools/eyelets and leather punch at your hobby/craft/sewing store for a couple of dollars each. (Also most of that you could find at Harbor Freight as well) 

With that out of the way, let's get to it!

First, you're going to need to remove whatever system of closure your shoes previously employed. (Straps, ratchets, boa's, etc) For me, that meant removing the boa closure system. Time to bring out your trusty seam ripper and start plucking away. Find and cut the seams on the INSIDE of the shoe first, the less you have to mess with the outside of the shoe, the better it's going to end up looking.

Just dig under the seam and push

This is going to make up the lion's share of the work you do. Take your time, and try not to rip out any seams that aren't directly holding what you're trying to get rid of. For me, the issue was that the top boa's were also glued onto the outer of the shoe. Now fortunately the glue was old and cracking so a butter knife under the lip did most of the work, but I heated it with my heat gun just to make it slightly easier to remove.

gap where the glue began letting go
With a little bit of elbow grease (and cutting a couple of the seams on top of the shoe as well) the dial finally gave up and pulled free.

One down

The key here is not to get flustered if it seems like you're not making headway. Take a step back and don't do anything hasty, that's how you ruin stuff. In my case the top boa also had a couple of "hidden" stitches I couldn't see (you can see them in the above picture in the top right corner) that were holding the boa in place. Instead of just yanking on it harder I ran my xacto underneath the boa and cut them by feel. After that it pulled off easily.

after getting the first boa removed.

For the most part the rest of the ratchets/guides were a snap to get off. The only other tricky part was at the bottom of the tongue, Specialized had decided to stitch the upper to the tongue itself (I suppose to keep the tongue from freely moving) which again required a steady hand and the trusty xacto knife.

removing the tongue from the upper.

After that it was mainly a little attention to detail that was necessary. Removing the loose / frayed stitches and just cleaning up the shoe left us with this.

all gone

Since my shoes were all white (or at least they started their life white) but really looking aged, I went ahead and took this time to freshen them up a little bit. I started with some Clorox wipes to remove the dirt and smudges, then moved on to a Kiwi "white restorer" I picked up at the grocery store.

White on White

While you certainly don't need to do the above step, it is a good time to at least clean your shoes a little bit before we move on. And the Kiwi restorer...it works ok... just basically painting new white on. It does look "better" but certainly not like new.

Alright, so the kicks have been cleaned and freshened up as much as I'm willing to do... now it's time to start poking holes in them. 

Figure out how many eyelets you want, and where you want them. I marked mine with a tiny permanent marker. It's a good idea to put the eyelets back from the edge a little bit at least, since it'll be more sturdy. The flip side to that is that if you move too far from the edge some of you hole pokin' tools might not reach. 

Here's where the debate heats up as it were... which tools do you use. Purists, or at least those that work with leather a good amount will tell you that the punches are the only way to go. You get a clean hole that cuts straight through. The downside is that you need a hammer, a solid block of wood and a little more patience. 

tap tap tap it in

The other option is the rotating tool like I bought from Harbor Freight. Instead of cutting through you're really just pushing the head through and ripping the material. That sounds a lot worse than it actually is... and I decided after using both on this project that either would have been perfectly fine. The caveat to that is when using the handheld tool it's important to "twist" it while holding pressure on it to make sure you get a clean break/hole. Otherwise, you might end up with a bit of a mess.

I used to punches for most of the holes, but the handheld tool for the bottom holes because it was tough to get my wood block in position. Whichever way you choose, just take your time and do it right and you should have no problems. After all that we end up with something like this.


Now that we've got our holes (mine are offset a bit due to the way the 74's ended up after all the hardware was removed) I suppose you could technically stop here and lace them up. But, we'd like for it to look nice'ish and the eyelets should add a little bit of protection against ripping, and it's cheap enough to pick up that you really should just go the distance. 

It's worth noting there are other, "better" ways to add eyelets, but you're starting to get into harder to find / more specialty tools so we're not using them.

So poke some (right size!) eyelets into the holes you've created and grab your eyelet tool. It's pretty self explanatory as to how it works, just go down the line and get a good firm press on each one.

Lighting because...ambiance

Pressing in the eyelets

Once you've got the eyelets installed it's time to lace things up. When it comes to laces the sky (and maybe your imagination) is the limit. Me, I'm kind of old school, and just went with black. (Although some black and gold combination or maybe leather laces might be cool) 

The final product

Not bad
Snazzy new old kicks...

Not too bad of a job if I do say so myself. We'll see how the long term durability holds up, but this was a fun little project that ended up waaay better than I expected it would. I suspect if you were a little handier with the tools, and maybe a little more imaginative than I am, that you could have come up with something even better. Still, I should be able to squeeze out a few more miles in these guys now!

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Traveling pt.2 - Germany

Well, we've arrived into 2018. Hopefully, at least on a personal level, we're all better for it.

I've been toiling away, scheming for some big things this year. Nothing in stone yet, but a lot to be excited for. But that's for another time and another post... first I'd like to finish my recap of my trip. This time I'll do more pictures and less writing, as that's the pics are the best part anyways. (and because I took way more pictures in Germany than I did in Iceland... the benefit of not being in a constant frozen haze)

We began in Regensburg (actually we flew into Munich, but with no time to take in any sights.)
look, not EVERY car is a VW or Mercedes... but I think this picture represents the market share nicely
When it comes to poor choices I made, this is the worst. Ewww...why Pepsi
A bike shop that was sadly closed (it was Sunday) with a couple of World Champion Jerseys in the window... interesting!
A BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, Vespa and an Opel in one picture... if that's not Euro I dunno what is.

The oldest coffee shop in Germany (or so I was told) I sadly didn't have time to sample it.

The boat doesn't sit still long though, and we were quickly getting carted off to the next destination, Nuremberg. I didn't get many pictures here, because we spent the majority of the time inside museums. A very interesting city I wish we had gotten a chance to explore properly.

The Christmas markets were being hastily constructed during our visit. 
A little down time requires sampling as much fine kafe as possible.

It's hard to believe how hastily the Nazi's constructed things. Much of it, despite an outward show of beauty and strength, is falling apart. Perhaps irony isn't lost on the universe.

Our next stop was Bamberg. This was my favorite town that we got to visit. Truly a beautiful place with a ton of history.

I thought this was such a neat view of how the city was built onto itself.

Again, really cool

I wish I knew what exactly this was, but I was trying to get a picture without being murdered by vehicle and didn't pay quite close enough attention to our guide.

My favorite picture. Man, this is almost like a painting.

No blog post complete without a food picture. At the home of the Rauchbier (smoked beer) everything was awesome, although the side of potatoes seemed slightly out of place. (good thing I love some potatoes)

Next up it was Wurzburg, where we toured the Residenz. It reminded me, honestly, of a mix between Biltmore and Graceland. (Of course this has been here much, much longer than either of those) Unfortunately no pictures allowed inside, so I snagged one off of google of the amazing ceiling painting.

I'd love to see it in the summer, when everything is blooming.

Quite the gardens

The carriage loading and unloading zone (which extends to inside the residenz) makes a fine parking lot as well.

Thanks google! It's like you were there!

I was a little bit of an artist (I don't want to offend the real artists) in a past life, so I really loved the work that had been put into the Residenz.

I'm kind of muddled, I think our next destination was Heidelberg... the "college town" as it were.
Unfortunately, our touring of the castle was shortened due to our travel plans changing last minute (as in, the river flooded and we got kicked off our boat) so there was not much time to explore the town and all it had to offer. It was my wife's favorite town.

Outside the Heidelberg castle at dusk 
seriously, that's a big barrel of booze

The city from atop the castle

and another view of the river

The final stop on our journey was Frankfurt, which, at the end of the day was a nice way to end our trip. We had seen lots of Bavaria, which is a more historic part of Germany, and the last day we could spend in what's essentially "modern" Germany. Nonetheless, the "Christmas Markets" that had eluded us the rest of our trip were finally open, and so we spent a good amount of the day shuffling through them looking for presents to bring home. (I was told just buying a box or two of kindereggs was not sufficient)

Christmas market, open!
Another view of the Christmas Market, tons of business springs up seemingly out of nowhere.

On a random side street sunglasses shop I found this in the window. I wonder if the owner knew the significance of Indurains Pinarello hour bike, or if he just thought it looked cool.

Inside a mall we found this impressive Lego sculpture.

The Opera house at night!

View from our hotel room of the city.

Frankfurt is a big city, and for the most part, one big city is like all big cities that I've been to. Nonetheless, it had a certain charm about it (at least in the area's we stayed) that was a little friendlier than the US.

Our cruise, despite running into trouble due to flooding, was a great way to see a lot of countryside in a trip. Being able to cover distance from one town to the next while you sleep/eat/etc is awesome, and I became keenly aware of us the last two days when it was taken away. The flip side of the coin is that you are always keenly aware of the time when traveling like this... so to sit around and just enjoy something you found interesting is sometimes impossible.  I'm not sure what, if any compromise exists, but overall I thought the experience on the ship (a Vantage if that's of any interest) was a mostly positive one.  When we return to Bavaria however, I think it will be in a more traditional way.

Thanks for checking out my blog, whether you found it by accident or are a follower (I know you exist) We're going back to normal schedule for the next post, don't worry. I've got some reviews and how to's that just need editing. I've also got that "big news" that I'll have to let out of the bag pretty soon, so that's exciting. Until then, I really appreciate your time!

-Christopher Morelock