Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Iron Price

You want to race, get deep in the thick shit and show everybody how strong you are? Throw down for that $20 gift card to Taco Bell in the prime sprint?  Take that Cat5 podium and taste the sweet nectar that is the tears of your opposition? Or maybe just take that Strava city limit sign KoM.

Then you have to be willing to pay the iron price my friend. And you better like that shit, cause brother (or sister) you're going to hit the ground, sooner or later.

Maybe it's a little fresh in my mind. I was involved in two wrecks over the weekend, albeit I only went down in one of them. (My friend James rolled a tire at the end of the day in our practice match sprint on Saturday... broke his clavicle and some ribs... and some bike equipment. Right before Master's Nationals in CA. Shit totally sucks) First race of the Rock Hill track series (12 lap scratch race) and about 10" into it (still on the neutral lap, made it from the start to turn1) a rider in front of my friend Dyllon and I clips a pedal going too slow into the turn. He slides out, directly in our path. First rule of track cycling... you can't go under a rider slider... it never works out.

You see that shit happening and time slows down, Bullet time like the Matrix, except you aren't Neo, you're the poor non-agent policeman he pulls some crazy kung fu time and matter defying kick you in the face fella... ie. You're about to get shit on. You play out a few scenario's in your mind in hyper speed... can't go up the track, not going fast enough. Can't bunny hop two people. Can't go low... fuck. Hold on to the bars. This is going to hurt. Not again. Hope my bike is going to be ok... Hope it doesn't scare my wife too bad...

Personally, I almost black out in the crash itself. I always have. It's like my mind just partitions that away so I don't have to re-live it. I'm on the ground.  Stuff doesn't feel great. Hear people running, bikes untangling.  Somebody tells me to take it easy... yeah, gotcha. I sit up, take stock. Shoulder hurts a bit, left hand is bleeding freely. Cheek hurts, and ear burns. "You're bleeding quite a bit behind your ear, did you hit your head?" Did I? Hell if I know. When you're not terribly smart to start with it's hard to know.  Deciding my lower body is functioning properly I get up and we move to a bench. The race has re-started at this point, they definitely aren't waiting on my busted up ass.  Somebody tell my wife I'm ok. Oh, there she is. Hey dear, look at your dumbass 35 year old husband bleeding through his spandex. Did you get any good pictures? Where do you want to eat tonight?

"Your collarbone looks broken" Oh no, don't worry, that's the plate from this one time way back when I broke my collarbone... why does it stick up like that? Oh that's from the last last time I wrecked on that side and dislodged it. It just looks bad. "What cut your ear so bad?" That? Let's see... helmet doesn't have any scratches or bashed spots... sunglasses aren't broken. Oh... that's just the back part of this expensive Kask helmet digging into the back of my ear when it went forward, thanks a lot Kask. Dyllon's ass saved me from smacking the ground with my face. Give me ass over pavement any day. Ear stops bleeding eventually... band aids on the fingers. Alright, now to the important part... how does the bike look.

Dislodged wheel... broke my computer mount for the saddle, tore the side of the saddle very slightly. Scratches in the (brand new) handlebars. Nothing seems broken. The pro/1/2 race is ending, almost time for the second 3/4 race to begin.

Hop back on the bike "Are you sure?" We drove all the way out here to race... might has well try to race.
I ride around the practice track with just my left hand on the bars, making sure my arm isn't going to give out on me at a random inopportune time. Seems like it'll hold. We line back up on the rail "Everybody make sure you're going fast enough to get around the turn this time" a slightly nervous laugh rings out.

After this race (I managed to get 4th in the win&out for what it's worth - nothing like adrenaline to keep things moving fast) the guy that clipped his pedal finds me and apologizes / asks if I'm alright.

--- Real talk --- This is what you do after you're involved in a wreck with other people. ALWAYS. If you're not fully sure what happened or it was a "shit happens" scenario, you find whoever was hurt and check on them anyways. This is your responsibility. And if you did something that directly caused it, be doubly sure things are good.
On the same note, if you're the person that got wrecked... when they come and apologize (so long as it wasn't malicious of course) that's the end of that shit. You're good.  You signed the waiver, you knew it was a risk. Don't hold a grudge or be a dick about it. Move on. Bike racing (triathlon, cross, mountain biking, running, spartan, etc etc) is a fun, beautiful sport but it's also dangerous as fuck. Don't try to convince yourself it isn't. Read that waiver you signed... you could DIE. They don't put that in there just to scare you.

Jump back in for the points race. Shit is high tension now. Everybody is tired, everybody makes mistakes when they are tired. Field splits... Points races are wild because everyone stays in, so if you get lapped you're still in the field. So speeds can be drastically different. (Did I mention there are no brakes ;) )  We run it a bit, eventually the prime lap comes up and I put in a massive effort to stave Dyllon off at the line (for a sweet $20 gift card might I add) but I've blown my load. I try to take it easy for a lap or two but can't get my wind back... shit still burns/hurts... to hell with this. I pull out. Great decision! Probably the first one I've had all evening.

I have a couple of beers and try rubbing some dirt in "it." Not sure what to rub dirt in, but it sounded good, and I'd had a beer or two, so I try it. Didn't seem to help. Still sore as hell, and now it might be infected.

Look, this isn't a scare you post, it's not a pity me post. This is a reality check post. Bike racing is dangerous. You're going high speeds on two 19-25mm slits of rubber wearing a helmet and spandex, oftentimes in close quarters with people are tired, bored, nervous, or just plain fucking sketchy.  (You aren't safe triathletes... you have to pass a shitton of people in aerobars that often don't even know which side of the road they are supposed to be on... and go through aid stations with these people... and of course the stereotype is you suck at bike handling anyways...)

I'm a safe, defensive rider that is past the point in his life where he is willing to take a chance on a gap that might not really be there, or take a sprint for top15. But I still wreck. Shit happens. It sucks. Often it's not my fault... sometimes it is. It happens to newbies that forget to unclip and fall over, it happens to Chris Froome when he takes his hands off the bars... it happens to everyone.

Decide if that is for you or not. Talk to your partner about it if you have one. But FFS, don't lie to yourself. Be willing to pay the iron price!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Has it really been that long?

Preface: This is going to be different, more foul mouthed, more raw/honest. If you're offended easily, I'm glad you came to check in on the blog, but from here on out, things are going to be different, this is your warning to turn back. -Chris

Image result for pirate flag

I have re-written this post about 10 times in the last month or so.  Trying to figure out what the next evolution would be. If you've been paying attention / checking in on the page you'll have noticed some of the layout has been changing to reflect the current state. In this post, I'm going to go over my thoughts on the next "phase" of this blog and just talk about some stuff that I've been wrestling with.

First off, I look back on my old posts and see that there are some quality technical posts sparsely strewn into an otherwise mediocre attempt of an ok athlete to hype up middling results. While the blame for that is definitely on me, I'll say that the culture of Age Grouper Hype Men (and Women) definitely rewards (can you call whoring yourself out for a discounted kit a "reward?" I suppose we all want to be a part of something.) us for making something out of nothing.  "Check me out bro, I just won overall at the YMCA Tri A Tri, next stop Kona! #Zuut #WATEINC #CerveloJ5x²" Yes, I was that fucktwit. (*by the way, in the new iteration of the blog where I am more "honest" and real, I cuss. Liberally. Just like real life.) Look, if you like part of the culture that goes along with these teams, I have no beef with it. And really, is there ever a feeling that compares to that first time, after sending in thirty applications to age group teams, figuring out creative ways to tell the company their product changed your life, (Seriously bro, Snowman Jizz flavored Goo changed my fucking training! Sponsor me!) that you finally get that confirmation email that you've been accepted to the team. It's on par with the first time you got tongue, or smoked that cowboy killer behind the school gym... amirite?

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First rule of Goo, tell all your friends about Goo, Brah! We got cheap kits to sell!

Ok, I'm starting to get off track. That was basically my long roundabout way of saying I'm sorry for all the shitty filler shill posts throughout the years.  I'll expand on that a little more later in this post, but for the most part, I'm happy with most of the how-to's, and maybe a few of the reviews, but really it is the posts like my struggle with OTS and DNF'ing my first race where I was closest to my honest self that I see a spark of pride at what I wrote. I want to write more about what things are really like, or at least what they are like to me.

Now I'm going to take one quick aside'ish and talk about banner ads and adsense in general, the bloggers starter kit of selling out. MONETIZE that bitch! Look, if you're a small size blog like this one (all time hits 150k, 1k last month, most of those probably bots or a wayward search from Pornhub) don't become that sellout for the big time. In 3 years time of having that stupid targeted banner ad on this page I tallied up an impressive $23.35. If that's not worth annoying the shit out of any real person that might have found the blog by accident I don't know what is. Moral of the above couple of paragraphs... shilling is stupid and I'm not doing any more of it.

That said, let's tackle the reviews portion of this blog.
I want to read back through all of them and tell you that I was wholly honest about my reviews up until this point. To put it diplomatically, I'll say I was in general pretty honest to point out what I saw as flaws but overall I was definitely more or less positive on anything I reviewed. One of the most popular posts OF ALL TIME on this blog is on Osymetric Chainrings, and a follow up on it. It was positive enough that Osymetric USA had a link to the review for a few years (maybe still? I dunno) and while I linked to TomA's much more scientific review of them (Look, if you come to this blog for good data like that, I will fail you. Go check out Tom or some other smart guy's blog) I basically ended it saying "I think they feel good and power seems to be up."
Of course power is up asshole. You've been training. If it's going down there is a problem. (and that doesn't even touch on the issues of Osy's and power meters, but I did touch on that in the post itself)
So I'm sorry if you bought placebo products on my suggestion. I wanted to be a sick ass reviewer, and figured the best way to do that was not to piss off the product creator by saying their shit sucked.
My one consolidation to you is that from now on, if I post a review of a product, it's going to be one of two things
1.) Something I really believe in
2.) A total piece of shit I'm going to bash!
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Overall it's not that bad. 8/10 

On to a more positive note... I look back and I'm overall pretty happy with my How-To section. I think most of them are filled with more "a,b,c,d" and less bullshit. I hope to continue those, as I think some mediocre pictures off my phone and some explanation together can on occasion help people out. Now that I'm focused on Track, maybe even more so, as track cycling is a small subset without the kind of overwhelming Q&A that comes in Triathlon or road cycling/TT circles. So, I guess that's something to look forward to. Or skip.

So my view for the future of this blog is something a bit more realistic. I'm still going to have rambling posts about nothing and about racing in general, but they're going to be honest posts of a former triathlete trying to figure out track racing, Or whatever the hell else I end up doing. If something scares the shit out of me (Real talk, learning how to Madison is scary as shit.) No more puff pieces talking about how great thou art by finishing 1 out 1 in my division. (thou? thy? I? I art doesn't sound as good) 

That's my vision for the blog going forward. Hopefully you'll stick around as the motherfuckin' saga continues. If not, I'm sorry to see you go, but I just don't want to write trash any longer. (Well, it's still going to be trash, but honest trash. That's better, right?)


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Unexciting Start

Not just a great title for a post, but also how I describe my standing starts on the track. Other words that might fit are "lackluster" "uninspired" "terrible."

It turns out, years of muscle memory starting at a pedestrian speed (either for a longer time trial or with a running start before hopping on a tri bike) don't really lend themselves to the violence required for a hard and fast standing start on the track.  At the CCA Regionals at Giordana Velodrome a few weeks ago I learned this the hard way.

Ignore my kilo... that would be for the best at least... as it was dishearteningly slow for the watts I invested into it. 

My first lap in the 4k (as well as the kilo) was about 4 seconds off the pace of pretty much everyone else in that list. My second lap was also a little slow as I had still not got up to top speed. After that point I put down pretty good lap splits until the very end where I started to fade (it was another 1k longer than my masters races) but overall it would have looked much better if I had just done an even slightly better start.

Of other things to note, with the power I produced for the ride I went slooooowwww. Most of the calculations I ran it through spit out a 5 even or slightly under for the watts I was making... so something was/is off. Looking at the other times I suspect a big portion of it is that the track at Rock Hill is getting significantly slower at a pretty fast rate. You can feel it getting lumpier even compared to when I started a little over a year ago. It's certainly not DLV levels of bumps, but it's not smooth either. 

Another thing to consider is some of my equipment. (We're going to assume my SRM was reading correctly as it was zeroed before the start) I was trying out some 3T Revo bars in hopes that they'd help with my start (seems they didn't, or perhaps it'd be bad to see what it looked like without them) - but it is definitely possible they aren't very slippery bars, there is a lot going on with them. (although I do appreciate the on the go adjustibility) My skinsuit (the new Velotec) fits really well, but It's been beaten into my head over the last 10 years that "fits comfortably" usually isn't a good thing for a skinsuit. Having shredded my BodyPaint 3.3 though, that's sort of where we're at. My rear tyre changed from a Vittoria Pista Evo to a more durable (although certainly slower) Continental Tempo2. There's also my position, which has gotten a good deal wider and higher than it has been in the past.

My experiments with width have brought out some good results in the ability to produce power within single digits of my road bike power (something I've never gotten close to before) but it's something I haven't put a ton of work into and definitely needs tuned to be optimal... if it can be optimal. I'm guessing from my Aerolab analysis that I'm giving up roughly 12-15 watts in cda to gain roughly 18-20 in power production... so a net positive but not by much. Albeit a wider position may allow me to ride a tighter line, be more comfortable, etc etc. Still, needs work.
Mostly, I think I may need to work on my head position on the track. I'll post the video below so you can see how I'm periscoping... a lot of that is because I suck at lining up the turns on the track and have to look up not to ride the red line (which I do a bit of anyways) but some of it is just how my head sits. It's possible a longer tailed helmet like the Wasp might be better than the Aerohead for me.

Still, overall everything went pretty well.  I've got a lot of work to do. My short term goals are to improve my standing starts as that's where a lot of "free" time will come from, and also to bring my top end power up so that I have a bit more "punch" when I need it. That'll take up the next couple of months, then it'll be a build to bring my 4-5 minute power up while in position, while riding a tidy black line around the track.  The longer scope goal is to get back to planning an attack on the Master's hour record. There have been setbacks this year, but if there is a silver lining it's that it will give me more time to become more confident in my abilities to take on the challenge and set a solid record. Time is on my side (unless some other stud breaks it first and puts it out of my reach)

As for the site/blog, I'm hoping to get things back on track this winter and return to more how to's and reviews. I've got a nice list of things built up but just haven't gotten to any of it yet.
Other things I'm going to consider (depending on how big of a job it turns out to be) is trying to build a part of the site that carries on the legacy of Aeroweenie.com where lots of data was compiled to one place where you could quickly find the white papers/data you were looking for. It's still a resource I use although it sadly isn't kept current.
Finally, I have had a lot of interest in some of my 3D printed projects. I may begin selling some of those projects for those that have interest. Mainly the "nubs" that exit out of the extensions for trackies like Bridie O'Donnell famously used in her hour attempt. (I see that the Tanfield's / Bigham also have some ends in their track bars, although a different design)

There you can see some of my prototypes, each with different amounts of stack/reach they add to the bars. It's not a certainty, but something I might do if there's the interest. I think the 3D printing place that did Bridie's was charging over $100... mine would be considerably cheaper.

Anyways, thanks for reading! I always appreciate it a ton.

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, August 6, 2018

Still here (Some short State Championship Reports)

I'm still here!
It's been a long time since the last post. There has been a lot going on, and honestly, some really low points for me. It's been a real roller coaster the last couple of months, but I'm hoping to have come out the other side for the better.  But, for this post I wanted to put down some of my thoughts on the State (Track and TT) Championships for Tennessee.

Most of my season has been derailed after a high speed crash (my front tyre blew out) at the track a couple of weeks ago. Most of the damage was just to equipment  and skin, but I did a real number of my hip and hip flexor. After two weeks I can spin again on the bike without much pain, but the damage to my fitness has been done, and I've had to pull out from my hour attempt in Aguascalientes this year. Hopefully I can salvage some of the rest of the year and gain some strength so that when I start planning next year I'll be ahead of my target as opposed to right on/below it. Another season of track craft certainly won't hurt my odds.

Unfortunately the Bodypaint isn't the best at protecting your skin

Ruined a nice pair of socks too :( 

But enough whining, on to some reports from the weeks (now I suppose month+) past

Track State Championship
The astute among you might have noticed some red flags already. The primary one, that Tennessee doesn't have a velodrome. (but we'd like to change that!) 
Fortunately, Dick Lane Velodrome was gracious enough to host us during their own state championship, which will bring up the second point... there wasn't a big show of support from the Volunteer state. In fact, my success was guaranteed the moment I lined up... as I was 1 of 1. Participation award - Check.

Nonetheless, I wanted to actually contest some of my division. What I didn't quite realize was that I was about to get thrown into the elite division (as there was no 35-39 Masters group) and that all Cat's would race together. As you might expect, a lowly Cat4 who's done a couple of mass start track races wasn't going to have a snowballs chance in the big league. The omnium structure was cool, although it rained out the scratch on Friday night, we made up for it early Saturday (making Saturday's schedule scratch - kilo - 4k IP - points race)

Overall, it went pretty poorly. In the scratch race things went pretty boringly, and I foolishly took the opportunity to show my stuff off the front. Unfortunately for me, I got strung out for a little bit then shelled off the back where, with the other unfortunates like myself, we formed a little gruppetto and circled the track half a length behind the big leagues. There were no pulls, and slower riders were instructed to stay on the bottom of the track. This turned into a real problem the final lap, as our little group was caught directly in the final turn. There was some yelling, and some rubbing. Fortunately, there were no wrecks, and I scathed through the finish "best of the rest."

The Kilo I fared far worse. It had been a long time since my last stint in aerobars at Dick Lane, but I had forgotten exactly how rough it was. I hit the first turn at speed and very nearly wrecked. The next two laps I had a death grip on my bars and coasted through... almost getting caught (very embarrassing) at the line. Off to a great start!

As the 4k approached, I had a gut check moment. I seriously considered putting my drop bars back on. My ego however told me I'd rather crash than suffer the indignity of doing a pursuit without my aerobars.  I lined up with the intention to just go as hard as I felt comfortable with. While the lower speeds made the bumps less of an issue, it didn't help me out any when it came to putting down a fast time. I finished 4th in the Elites... and took a fair amount of pride in that considering I did it at a well below max effort.

Finally was the points race. Unfortunately it was quite a bit of a letdown, as I had broken a cleat at some point that evening, and after a couple of laps with heavy clicking and an odd feeling in my foot, I decided to not chance it and DNF'd. It also saved me the humiliation of getting shelled again, so that's a victory, right?

All in all, a great learning experience, but not what I'd hoped to bring out of it. Of course, one of my goals for the year was to finally lay hands on a State championship jersey... and I suppose technically I accomplished that in the lamest way possible.

TN State TT
The State TT has been something I've wanted to win for years now. Something most of my friends have won on their way to better things. I was seriously hoping to improve my placing from 2017 (2nd) and felt that I had been putting in the work to get it done. Specific training I hadn't been doing (there is a lot of climbing on the front half of this 40k for a TT) and gaining weight for track wasn't going to be a big help in that respect, but I still felt I was in the running.

About 1k into the race I came upon a divet in the road/bridge connection and hit it full speed. It jarred me hard enough that my TULA bars slipped backwards (and up) a bit. It was slightly less comfortable than what I had set up to begin with, but higher hands should be a positive, right? Derek and myself had came up with a strategy and power targets for me to hit on each section... a plan I executed perfectly! I came in the last kilometer full gas, and nearly wrecked as I crossed the line. It was a race I went very deep in. I felt like I had left it all out there and had a great race.

Unfortunately, not great comparatively. I went slower than I did the year before (on 20+ more watts) and was not even on the podium (4th) at the end of the day.

For sure, it was a blow to my confidence, in everything. One of the problems with only having a few specific targets over the year is that when doesn't go "to your expectations" then you have a big letdown. But, upon review and a non-emotional look at the event, I can't be anything except happy with my performance.

It was only a couple of weeks later I took my spill at Rock Hill. Here we are a month from that point and finally I don't have pain in my hip. (Although sitting extended periods does make it sore/stiff still)  I'm melancholy about how it has turned out and what it means for my hour attempt. I wish things had turned out differently, but it's a fools errand to focus on what could have been, instead it's back to working towards something.  Fortunately I happen to enjoy the journey, so on to bigger and better things!

Until next time, thanks so much for checking in on me. Hopefully it won't be as long of a break between posts :)

- Christopher Morelock 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The nightmare of logistics

It seems like I am starting more and more posts this way, but... it's been a while.

The primary reason is that training has taken a front seat in everything. This is the final push towards July to get as fit as possible, and it's a trying time. Mentally as much (if not more so) than physically. Unfortunately, the things that don't immediately fuel that get pushed to the side. (like the blog, sadly)

One of the things that seems to go hand in hand with hour records is devilish logistics. For possibly the best firsthand account you can read  The Hour by Michael Hutchinson. While his struggle was primarily related to the bike required for the antiquated "athletes" hour, my own tribulations stem more from the location. Mainly, it's the end of May and I don't have a concrete venue to do my attempt at in July.

Aguascalientes is still where my hope lies, but it's becoming likely that the velodrome will be undergoing maintenance (re-finishing the track) during our target dates. Sanding/working on the boards can take quite a while (a month or so) and the process can indeed slow the track down a bit until it is again "worn in." The work was supposed to be done by now, but delays have set it back to what seems to be perfectly scheduled to interfere with our trip. It's possible we won't know for sure until July1... at which point I'm concerned I won't be able to secure flight/lodging (for a price I can stand to pay) which has left me scrambling to try to figure out a "plan b."

The seemingly obvious choice is just to wait and re-schedule the trip for later in the year. While that seems the most logical solution, it's one that I'm not sure I can come to terms with. I am ready for this to be finished. Spending every waking moment thinking about bearing friction and atmospheric pressure is something I enjoy in the abstract, but has begin to take it's toll on me. It's difficult to focus on one big event for almost two years and not start to feel the strain as the end comes into view.  I suspect this will be my first and my last "serious" hour attempt.

The next spot on the list is Colorado Springs. The altitude is similar, the track is longer (both a good and a bad thing) and the travel is easier. The downside is that the paved track is not on par with the boards in Aguas, and just in general the track is a bit slower. I think it's still a great option, but of course it doesn't come without it's won logistical problems. Namely, the bubble that surrounds it is not a permanent structure, and the velodrome is working to make it permanent. If that happens, it will have to come off while the permanent fixtures are installed... of course the time frame for that is likely in July...meaning best case the top is off, and worst case the track is just closed. Neither being ideal for a backup plan.

There is also "The Day of the Hour" in Milton. By all accounts a very nice track, and pretty quick. Unfortunately, it's also at sea level. Doing my calculations, it would be very difficult for me to break the record at sea level... maybe impossible. It's also possible I'm selling myself a bit short, but with the cost involved in this endeavor (and the likelihood that I'll never try it again) I really want to make this shot the absolute best I can.

At the end of the day, these are all things that are mostly out of my control, so all I can do is ride the wave and see how things pan out. Of course that's easy to type out on the computer, and a lot tougher to deal with sitting in the chair.  We'll see how this all shakes out. At the very least, it's going to be an interesting story to tell in the years to come!

Thanks for checking in, I really appreciate it. I promise we'll get back on a normal schedule one of these days!

- Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A short TT report (Oak Ridge Velo TT)

I'm still kicking! It's been a while since the last update, I apologize for anyone who was anxiously hitting refresh on the blog for the next post! Things have been moving quickly, and they're only going to speed up between now and the end of July. I've started about 8 posts and not finished any of them... so when things slow down again there is going to be a flood gate of stuff! Thanks for checking in, on to the report!

It's been a while since I last turned the cranks of my TT bike in anger. Actually, it was the Oak Ridge Velo TT last year that was the last time. As the schedule flipped this year it just so turned out it was the first race of the season this time! While the weather conditions would be vastly different, it would be a pretty good way to measure how I was progressing vs. where I was last year. 

For the nerds out there that are interested in such things, and to add some spice to an otherwise "I rode hard" style race report, here's the difference in the weather at 4p.m. (roughly my race start) between years

7/22/2017 - (16:51) 91° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1422 with wind ~ 7mph blowing Southwest
4/14/2018 - (16:50) 77° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1744 with wind ~10mph blowing South

What does that mean? Well, the condensed version is that the day was slower due to the conditions. (I know, I've just opened up a whole new world of excuses for people to use for a bad day now! "Yeah man, I was feeling good, but the Rho was just not in my favor!") While the lower temperatures "feel" better, in general we usually go faster when it's hot. (The caveat being if it's so hot that you are truly overheating) To expand - 

In 2017 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:51:xx
In 2018 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:50:xx

What was the difference then? It took me 20 more watts to cover the distance 1 second faster this year. I rode the same bike, same wheels and tyres, with equipment/position that gave me a similar CdA (I looked!)  or at least similar total drag, (total drag being a mix of CdA, rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency) and paced the race similarly. (Note this doesn't account for traffic draft, changes in road surface over a year, etc etc) If you look at other repeat racers times vs. 2017, pretty much nobody went faster this year.

But enough of the nerdy stuff. This is a race report! 

As a full disclaimer and apology, most of the people racing the ORV TT had already been riding on Saturday before I even got out of bed. Road racing, and especially any going longer than an hour isn't in my wheelhouse any longer, and I don't miss it! Nonetheless it's my new secret strategy to winning Omnium TT's... just don't wear yourself out earlier in the day!

Abs of steel has been failing me...

I arrived about an hour and a half before the start. The general plan is to get to race site with plenty of time to fix whatever inevitably breaks on my bike (last year it was a flat!) and sequel into the start tent moments before it's time to start with a sky high heartrate. Somehow the universe mercifully spares me any mechanicals and I get to spend that time socializing. Some may say it's the right time to warmup for such a short event...but what do they know. Eventually I do kit up (In my red kit... which hides the blood from when I'm stuck with safety pins... just like a spandex Deadpool) and figure I probably should at least pretend to warm up. I do some openers, which any the track guys I know would laugh at, but felt like huge starts for me, then ride into the start tent. As usual, once things start moving, it moves fast.

3,2,1 Go

I come out of the gates hot. (For me, again... laughable standing start watts) As soon as I'm up to speed I find my place on the saddle and tuck. For me the race is split into three sections, the first third (up to the highway on ramp) is to get into a good rhythm and settle my heart rate. The second section is all about making power (a long steady incline up the highway to the turn on Bear Creek Rd) and the third section is about maximizing where I spend my energy.

The first third goes by to plan. My heart rate settles in around 180 and my watts are pretty consistent though the slight rollers. As we approach the on ramp I catch my first rider. I split my focus between the road, (a dangerous balancing act as the shoulder is not swept, and the curvy road begs impatient motorists to make dangerous passes... all divided by some gnarly rumble strips) my wattage and relaxing...as much as you can relax at 180bpm at least. I've found giving myself things to think about helps me TT much more consistently. Nothing worse than a blank mind counting seconds. I come up on my second rider but I'm close enough to the edge I can't squeak out an "on your left" I just have to pass and move on. 

Making the turn on Bear Creek it's time to bury myself. At this point the terrain changes pretty significantly, going from a general trend of steady uphill/false flat to true rolling terrain. Unfortunately I'm at my worst at stuff like this, I just can't get comfortable and stay in a gear, and my watts can drop / jump pretty wildly. I focus and just try staying smooth, something that has gotten a bit easier with my increased track time, but still isn't optimal. I pass my third rider and as I cross one of the hills I can just glimpse my fourth one. I figure if I can hold my pace and increase it to the finish I might just catch him. As we make the final sweeping bend before the final straight, I take my first second (too much, a full cadence drop to 0 in an otherwise beautiful power data file) of freewheeling. Once I'm out of it I put my head down (don't try this at home kids) and just follow the white line. I glance up and can see the finish, and realize I sadly won't be catching my fourth rider! I don't have anything left for a sprint, so I just hammer on to the line. Finally, I hop onto the base bar and can gasp air again. 

The primary success for me was hitting my targets (technically I was 1 watt below my goal... but I'll allow it to be rounded!) and feeling "comfortable" doing it. That was a success. It was a happy bonus to also be able to take the top step of the podium at my "home" race as well.  The fact that I was able to add a chunk of watts to my race on less fitness (for those of you who are Trainingpeaks nerds, around -20 CTL to the race last year) should mean my goals for later in the year are going to plan. 

After that, I watched some of my friends start/finish their race, and collected my sweet sweet prize purse. It was great to see so many of my teammates dipping their toes into the world of bike racing.

So that was my ORV TT. I managed to sneak into the top 10 overall (I'm a nerd and looked) finish times, which I'll also take a small amount of pride in. 

Next on the agenda is getting back down to Rock Hill and doing some aero testing on skinsuits, as well as doing the final adjustments / dialing in my position. I'll try to grab some pictures and jot something down worth reading!

Until then, Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

-Christopher Morelock

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