Friday, December 28, 2012

We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly!

I apologize for not updating this week. With the holidays and work being a bit hectic, along with getting ready for Beginnertriathlete's mentor groups to start again (it's not just for beginners, and besides myself there are a lot of good mentors running groups!) I just let the blog slip a bit. I'll get it back together for next week! I hope everyone had a great Christmas/Holidays!

Happy New Years!

-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Post (Feliz Navidad!)

Better Christmas movie than Gremlins?

It's the most wonderful time of the year... at least that is what I've been told. It seems like the closer to a Holly Jolly Christmas we get, the more likely it is that somebody will try to bite your head off. (I pity you if you still have to go near a mall before the 25th)

I've never been much of a "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" kind of guy, but I do admit I enjoy (and moreso as I've gotten older) gathering with my family at Nana and Papaw's house, stuffing myself on Turkey and taters, and then settling down to watch Frosty the Snowman / Nightmare before Christmas and open presents with the young'uns. (not mine thankfully) I am extremely lucky when it comes to family. Although they might be a little odd, they're a tight and loving group of nuts! I've also got my "other" family I have to throw a shout out to. My best friend Wes has always had me come share Christmas eve with his family, and I don't think they have any idea how much I have always appreciated that.

Okay, Okay, enough sappy stuff. How about a picture of Santa on a bike!

Santa rides a Kestrel... who knew. Don't ask where he has the presents.

In training news I'm giving my best attempt at becoming the Run, Run Rudolph of triathletes. At almost 90 miles currently and another week and a half to go, it's looking like it may turn out to be a record for me in miles per month. I'm hoping that by March or so I can get up to 200mi/months... then I'll be singing Joy to the World! I'm still not sure if I'll end up a "runner" by the end of this focus, but it certainly has to help.

I hate to leave you guys with so little substance this week, but I'm not in the review mood and, well, I basically summed up all my training right above. (Run. More.) What I do have to give you is my fondest wishes that you and yours will have a good holiday... I know we're not all into the whole "Silent Night" or "O Holy Night," at least not for their proposed meaning, but I do hope that whatever your belief you can have a good Holiday season and maybe come to remember that some of the things we try to emphasize this time of year (good will towards man, spending time with your loved ones, buying cool sh*t...) shouldn't end on December 26th... it should be how we act all year round. So leave your Christmas lights out, let the tree take root in the living room, ring the silver bells, leave the fruitcake on the counter until it ripens, go on a sleigh ride in June! That's right, I'm saying maybe we should all be just a little more redneck :)

I mean... this picture is just awesome.
As always, thank you for reading my random thoughts. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy/Merry (not sure which is right) Kwanzaa... or just happy holidays.


Unless the world ends on the 21st. Hopefully if it does, it's kinda like this!
Save me Will Smith!
Thank you all
-Christopher Morelock

(Bonus: How many Christmas songs did I mention in here?)

It's currently 7:43a.m. Eastern... and I'm still here. I guess I'm still holding a vague hope for a Zombie Apocolypse that I'm just not aware of yet, but for some reason I feel like the Mayans were wrong. Guess taking out that ridiculous interest rate loan yesterday and spending the night at the strip club was a bad idea...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happiness is a day of climbing on a warm December day

I love it. This time of year. No, no... not Christmas. (although it's fine too) I'm talking about that time, after you've suffered through season ends burnout, (for me it was basically every day post Augusta) that you start to feel it. That passion. The fire. For me, it came yesterday at the local shop ride.

Always look relaxed when you are on the bike but aren't riding. ALWAYS!

It started off innocently enough. I'd been meaning to get back out on the road for our Sunday group ride, things just seemed to keep getting in the way. (And by that I mean... I'd wake up about 30 minutes late every Sunday with a hangover.) NOT yesterday though! I had the Cannondale fit and tuned, ready to roll... my long sleeve gear to combat the mountain air (unneccesarily as it turned out) and even some GU and Lar bars to keep me going. Nonetheless, I wasn't overly excited. Sure, sure, I've not given up on cycling during my run focus these last few months, but I certainly haven't celebrated it. To be honest, I was just a little burned out from the "hit these target watts" for X sets of x minutes type workouts I had been doing leading into the end of the season. I've been going to a weekly indoor cycling "clinic" at the LBS twice a week, but other than that (and dusting off the Kreitlers for a few nervous rides... man you forgot how to ride rollers fast!) I've been letting the bikes collect a bit of mold.
1 leg drills for giggles. Notice the pool of sweat beneath me :)

All that changed when we decided to add a virgin (to us at least) climb to the ride. Three steep (albeit not very long) ascents to the top of the mountain, with a little bit of time between them where it levels off and gives you some time to recover. Nothing over 20% grade I don't believe... still, pretty tough. Enough to really get you nice and cooking. Deep into "The Suck" as it were.

Then it hit me. Holy cow. This is awesome!

The view from the top! Now I've just got to get down

I love climbing... always have. (Descending...ehh) Something about how you always see the "wars" in cycling fought on grueling climbs. Jersey unzipped, cross hanging, sweat dripping and that face of absolute "I wish this was over" splayed across your face. I love it. Not only that, but I noticed something else... I was climbing (and riding) in better form than I was earlier in the year! On much less training. I suppose to break through some roadblocks in my performance I had to totally change things up. Who'd have thought it! Run more, bike less, do both better! (Ok maybe it's not that simple, but still)

Even Jan looks like he's having fun!
 I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm totally out of my lethargic mindset, (I am still enjoying extra cookies and spiked eggnog pretty regularly.) but I've certainly got the spark kindling again. It helps that for the first time in 3 years, I'm not "focusing" on one A race. This year I'm doing races because I love to race, not because of some (of my own and others) expectations.  Who knows, I may even come out of 2013 better than I came out this year! We shall see.

Until next time, keep grinding those gears. Thanks for reading.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All I want for Christmas is a 29er!

In the "real world" I'm running 30+ mpw, swimming poorly (ehh not bad really, just cut down to 2x a week) and cycling with my LBS 2-3x, mainly shorter stuff. I'm hoping to go sub 19 in my next 5k (tentatively on January 1st... although that seems ambitious given my history with New Year's Eve party's.) and besides that (and most exciting of all!) I think I've finally narrowed down the Mountain Bike I am going to buy. If you haven't heard of these guys, let me introduce the Airborne Guardian and the Airborne Goblin.
Considering my history with staying upright, this may be a bad idea...

Oh look, a nicer version for me to break something on!

I haven't quite decided whether the Guardian or the Goblin is right for me (that is, if I can justify the extra $$$ for the Goblin) but either way, the Airborne's check off all the boxes I have for my first 29er. Those mainly being
- a Hard tail
- Aluminum
- Front shock (better than a Suntour)
- Full bike (I'm not ready to "build" my own quite yet)
- Under/at $1000.00

The Goblin breaks the $ barrier by about $250, but does have some significant (i think...) upgrades, primarily being the upgraded fork, (Air instead of Preloaded) the drivetrain, (x7 instead of x3) the brakes (Avid's instead of Tektro's) and the crank (x7 double instead of a truvative triple)

None of that is a dealbreaker for the much cheaper ($599!) Guardian... only the triple crank really bothers me. (For some reason I've always, probably irrationally, hated triples) I assume that most disc brakes stop with ample power, and from what I've read an Air fork is more of a luxury than a necessity for a smaller guy like me.

I've been leaning toward the Guardian since I'd hate to buy a $1200 bike and then never use it (ok... that's unlikely, but still) but I also don't much like the idea of buying a $600 bike and then spending $600 on it in the next month or two!  If any of you faithful readers out there have some input, I'd love to hear it.

Oh, and who is excited for the Holidays? This guy!

I know I know... It was 4a.m. on Black Friday.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Microshift White Groupset Review.

(First I apologize for using stock pictures, my digital camera decided, after over 8 long years of surviving debaucherous trips to the beach and graphic design class mishaps, to crap itself. You've been a soldier Fujifilm 2megapixel Finepix.)

Here is what we've got to work with, plus housing and cables that are included.
Well, I've finally been able to put some (cold) miles on the CAAD8, and, more importantly to this review, the Microshift White groupset. I feel like this is an important review for anyone who is thinking of building their own "budget" bike, mainly because of the value minded pricing on the Microshift groups on ebay. Of course, if it works like crap, then it's not worth it at any price point now is it? Follow through then, and consider my opinion before making your future group choices.

Again, as I said in a previous post, I ended up paying $261 (shipping included) for my set on ebay. Included in the package was everything you see above plus cables, housing and an extra set of "hoods" (white ones and black ones) which was a nice little surprise, because everyone wants to look "pro" with white hoods.

I admit, when I first ordered the White Group I had only mediocre hopes for it. In the pictures it looks...well... cheap. And why wouldn't it look cheap, it IS cheap. A quick search on ebay shows that new Dura Ace 7900 brifters (only) are selling at somewhere between $350-$400. Even Shimano's "budget" minded race set (105) is selling for over $200 new. (again, for brifters only) Admittedly "White" is not Microshifts top end set (Arsis Carbon is, about $100 premium) it's more of the "Ultegra" of MS. Of course you could compare to both SRAM and Campagnolo as well, but I've always been a Shimano man, so that's where my comparisons will come from.

The Brifters
White Hoods included!! Score!
So, lets get the bad out of the way. You aren't going to be able to adjust the reach on the levers... which is a minor complaint that generally women (and some men with svet hands... myself included) have. The next complaint is the cable routing for the shifters, which is to say that it is not internal. Again, this isn't a deal breaker by any means, but Campy, SRAM, and even Shimano have moved almost all of their lines to "hiding" the housing under the bar tape. That said, I still like Dura Ace 7800 shifters better than 7900 ones, and I have always thought it was because of the internal routing "gumming" the shifts just a tiny bit. As for the good stuff, let's talk about the shifting paddles. I suppose the closest comparison is SORA, or possibly Campy's Ergoshift. (although no thumb triggers)  In the picture above it's easy to see the large lever, but you have to look a little closer to see the smaller one sticking down. (easier to see on the right side of the pic) If you are like me and coming from Shimano, this will require a break in period to get used to it. (I still try to push the whole brake lever in to shift down) Both paddles on the rear shifter are firm and responsive, and once tuned right I've had absolutely 0 shifting issues. The front paddle to shift down (the button) is nice as well, but pushing the longer paddle in to get an upshift is not something you can do without putting some effort into it... you really have to push that sucker in. I couldn't get it "tighter" with any adjustments unfortunately. A big plus to these guys is the ability to "dump" your gear with ease. I could drop 5 gears on my cassette with one long sweep of the downshift lever! Braking is pretty much a given at this point with modern brifters and the White's are no exception. Cable pull is fine and I could lock them down on command. Realistically when it comes to shifters you just want them to work... nobody has a good ride when they are hitting the lever and hear the "clicking" of your chain not quite making it to the next gear. Well, at least at this juncture I can say that the White's have been excellent.

Shifters Rating: 7/10

Rear Derailleur

I promise it's not made of cheap plastic... even if it looks it
Besides the shifters, the rear derailleur is the place where you can really tell when something sucks. I'm happy to say that the White does NOT suck. Setup is easy and straightforward, and even with someone like myself who runs an arguably short chain (I always use the line through the pully bolt method, which always ends up being a link or two short in most people opinion) the White didn't do much more than grumble at strange gearing combos, (looking at you 50/28) stretching happily to an awkward looking angle. Quick shifts up and down were concise, and after some tuning (mainly due to cable stretch) I could grind up and down the cassette at breakneck speed without complaint.  I suppose it's worth mentioning here that the White RD (and set in general) is NOT a quite set. If you remember the first couple of years of SRAM's stuff... yeah... it's louder than that! Loud can be a good thing (I've had to look at my Dura Ace before to make sure it shifted) to some people, and it can be a deal breaker to others. It's not as "clunky" as Campy nor as sharp as SRAM... somewhere in the middle. You certainly won't be sneaking up on anyone on this kit.

Rear Derailleur Rating: 9/10

Front Derailleur
Insert Andy Schleck joke here
Oh the front derailleur. Such a simple little piece of the whole setup... never glamorous, often overlooked (or even left off!) but nonetheless essential to most of us. Tour's have been lost on faulty FD's. (Well... in reality lost to faulty user error most likely, but SRAM Red's old FD's were crappy) The MS follows tradition in that it does what it has to do... which is move your chain from big to little (and vice versa) without any issues. So far it has done so flawlessly for me. I admit that in general I'm a bit of a worrier... I usually run a chain catcher with my FD's. I'm sure I'll end up getting one for this bike, but at current I don't have one and have not (yet) paid the price for such blasphemy. The White FD is basically just a copy of everybody elses FD's... which is a good thing, basically across the board they all work great. The only gripe I have is that the adjustment screws are pretty tight on the inside (seems tighter than Shimano's... I'll not mention Campy's glory in placing the screws outward facing... well I guess I just did...)

Front Derailleur Rating: 9/10

Other stuff

Of course cables and housing are about what you'd expect. Nonetheless, it's a nice touch that my little UPS box didn't require a trip to the LBS to pick up small parts. Even the caps were included. I'll mention again that I was extremely excited that there were two choices for hoods in the box. (let's be honest, Hudz for most sets will set you back at least $30, and white always has a premium price!) The box also included instructions for installing everything...if reading instructions is your thing. I glanced them over and was moderately surprised to see that the English translation was actually pretty good, (Good lord, try to read the nokon manual in the terrible broken English it uses) so if you need a little reference, you aren't totally stuck out to dry.
Another seemingly silly thing that is a big deal to most people is the color options! Yes, I know it's called "White" and all the pictures I've posted are indeed of the white White group. Well, it comes in plenty of other colors as well (Black, White, Red, Blue, Yellow and Green - although the green is Team Exergy's kit color... I do not think it's for sale to you and me.)

Overall: 8/10

I think the days of "cheap" Microshift may be heading to an end. A couple of manufacturers (Felt comes to mind) are already speccing bikes with it, and more than one team (Cofidis and Exergy) are using it in big races... and why not. If it works as good as what the big boys are putting out, why not save some cash, whether you're just a weekend warrior or racing for the big purses.

Microshift is not for everyone. If you want the hottest cutting edge groups, you should look elsewhere. If you have a Campagnolo Tattoo, move on. If you'd rather piece together used Dura Ace / Ultegra / Force / Athena, that's fine too. (I've done that one a couple of times myself) But let me say that you should at least *consider* Microshift. You get a LOT of bang for your buck on race ready equipment.

I hope everyone had a very good Thanksgiving. It's time to get back to training!

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! A cold check in.

I sit here at my computer waiting on the heat/air repair man. Sunday morning I awoke to my teeth chattering and the temperature inside my house hovering at a tropical 58°. Now I'm all for toughing out the weather when it comes to getting a ride or a run in... but when I'm trying to surf the internet or sleep... I would prefer something a little closer to 65+ at the minimum.  Even now as I type this (tough to type with wool gloves on) I look like this....

Triathlete? Negative, I am a meat popsicle.
Ok, maybe not that bad... but wool socks are on and the electric space heater is definitely doing work. It's pretty bad when you get up and are looking forward to going outside to run because you know it'll warm you up!

Tomorrow is the big day (Thanksgiving) and, for many of the people who bother to read this, it means it's also Turkey Trot day. I'll be hitting up a 5k myself early in the morning, hopefully breaking my PR in the process (Sub 19... I can dream, right?) After that it's off to either gorge myself in celebration or disgust, have a couple of drinks, and watch Christmas Vacation / Bad Santa for a few hours before turning in early for the battle that will be Black Friday.

Usually I'm pretty excited about BF, but this year not much has caught my eye. My computer is finished, I've got a 60" TV, and basically all the other "big ticket" items are just meh to me. I'd kind of like a Tablet (the ASUS 32gb Nexus is $229 at Office Depot) but I'm not sure I care enough to shell out the $ for it. If you're going to fight the mobs as well, here's one or two hot picks from my nerdy side :P

-Kmart has a 32" HDTV for $79
-Best Buy has a 40" HDTV for $179 (sub 200! who'd have thought it possible)
-Wal Mart has a 60" HDTV for $688
-Tigerdirect has a SSD drive (120gb) for $49.99 - I paid $70 two months ago and it was a deal then!
-Sears has the Barnes&Noble Ereader for $39
-Gamestop has the PS3 Bundle for $199
-Sams' Club has the Galaxy S3 for under a dollar if you pick up the 2-year plan
-Home Depot has a Magic Chef microwave for $38

Target also has the Gateway NV52L15u 15" laptop for $349... it's probably the best deal on a laptop this year (money spent to what you get) but it's still not a Black Friday worthy deal IMO.

Anyways, enough shopping advice from me. I'll be making a couple of stops to the local bike and running shops looking for any good deals that might be that way... I'd really like to score a nice hardtail mountain bike for around $600 - $900. Unfortunately that is prime real estate for the craptastic Suntour fork that is so commonly spec'ed on cheaper Mtn Bikes. Maybe my LBS will discount the Trek/GF Mamba they have on the floor.

Anyways, that was the quick update for the week. I'll update tomorrow with how the Turkey Trot went and what kind of post race binge / gluttony I took part in! Feel free to 1-up me if you can!

Everyone have a happy and safe holidays. Thanks for reading. Now, off to find another blanket to throw over the shoulders!

-Christopher Morelock

A cold morning 5k and I was fighting through a bit of stomach issues. Nonetheless, I managed to PR with a 19:21 and finish 3rd in my AG. Woohoo... then the massive binge of turkey/ham/eggs/salad/potatoes/pie... whew. So full.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Get Thyself together!

First, a rant!
It's like I'm saying something, but not really.

This morning I get up (at 3:30a.m.) and make my 30 minute drive to the pool. When I get there I'm greeted by a sign that says "Closed for Veterans Day - will re-open at 5:30a.m." What the crap. Veterans Day was SUNDAY. I'ts F*n Tuesday. Nice Holiday hours there 24/7 365 Globogym. I mean I'm all for celebrating Vet's Day but jeez... I've got laps to do. So, I drive myself back home and proceed to continue working on the "projects."


On to the important things. The CAAD8 is almost complete! It might just be an early Christmas Miracle. We've run into a small snag, in that I do not have the silly Cannondale Specific Bottom Bracket cable guide (D'oh!) however it's an easily remedied (albeit $10) problem.
This thing... a tiny headache.
So, that means that all I really lack is FedEx delivering that piece and I'm ready to finish the build! The paint turned out with a couple of runs, mainly because I used a rattle can of "Flat" clearcoat that turned out to be crap. I could have brought it back down and re-bought the stickers, but instead masked them off and used some good old DuPont paint/clear to clean it up. Not perfect unfortunately, but good enough for my winter/crit bike.

What we started with
She's not much of a looker... but we'll fix that.
and here's where we are today. (Ignore the fact that my garage is a mess)

Spider Man floor mat!

Replaced the fork that was cracked with a Reynolds Ouzo

Decals turned out great!

I'm getting VERY antsy for the first test ride. Hoping to get it finished by this weekend! Here's the breakdown for this "budget" build.

-Frame: CAAD 8 (used) - $250 (also included headset, seatpost clamp and derailleur clamp) as well as a cracked Slice Fork. Slowtwitch Forums
-Fork: Ouzo Pro (used) - $50 Craigslist
-Bottom Bracket/Crankset: 105 Shimano (used) - my parts bin
-Groupset: Microshift WHITE (front, rear, shifters, cables) - $261 Ebay
-Brakes: Nashbar Jail Brake - $35
-Seatpost: Felt Aluminum - my parts bin
-Saddle:  Nashbar R2 Saddle - $20 -
-Pedals: Shimano R540 (white) - $34 -
-Bars: Scott Anatomic Drops - my parts bin
-Stem: Bontrager Carbon (ooohhh)Xlite stem - my parts bin
-Chain: Nashbar x10 chain (pro-tip - it's just a KMC) - $35 -
-Bottom Bracket cable guide - $10 -
-Tape: Lizard Skin - $35 - LBS
-Bottle Cages: Bontrager X lites - $32 (2) - LBS

+ $75 worth of Rattle can paint / paint stripper / sandpaper / clear 

- Total - $872.00

Of course that's considering I already have a set of wheels/helmet/shoes and all that garb. If you were to replace the things I had available with purchases, I'd guess you'd add about $150 for a decent (tiagra - 105 level used) crankset/bb and probably another $50-$100 on the other pieces depending on how nice you wanted to go.  (Bars, seatposts and stems are all excessively cheap if you don't mind aluminum) A set of basic training wheels and tires would set you back another $250 or so. That would bring us in right at $1400.00 if we came from the ground up. It's easy to see why building a bike isn't any cheaper than just buying one (although this guy is built to MY spec and not a factory... and plus, this was way more fun.) especially if you don't have a garage full of extra parts to pull from.

Nonetheless, I'm excited. I'm especially interested in giving the Microshift set a spin. It feels extremely nice in my hands, so high hopes.

On a more depressing note, the Scott is taking it's sweet time to get stripped down. In all fairness I've been focusing my efforts on the CAAD the last few days (I need a road bike up and running!) but now it's time to redouble the efforts.
Here's where the Scott sits (hangs) right now.
You can see the white paint being a pain in the @$$ where it is thickly coated.

It looks worse than it really is, but it looks pretty bad :)

Naked carbon on the head tube. If all of the bike's carbon was only so nice. Sigh :(
Unfortunately, Scott didn't do me the service of giving the bike a final "beauty" layer of Carbon fiber. That means it's got some pretty ugly area's (even before you count all the filler they used.) in it. Also, a few area's of wrap have came undone (where they meet) after removing paint. It'll have to be re-epoxied and possibly re-wrapped (depending on how paranoid I get between now and doing it) This is certainly going to be a full winter project, but I'm hopeful that it'll turn out well. It kind of has to, if only just to get back at all the people who said I was crazy for stripping it down in the first place!

And finally, there's always room for a little training talk. In this case, very little.
I'm running...
...and running...
......and running......
The evil clown laugh is now stuck in your head. Hey, I'm a nerd first, triathlete second!
My mileage both swimming and biking are still pretty low (actually, fairly embarrassingly low come to think of it) and my running/diablo3 mileage are growing :) I can't say that I miss them all that much at the moment. It's been a while (years) since I could say I'm injury free at the end of a season, so it's prime time to work on my running. Hour long commutes to and fro the pool can take a back seat for a while and I can enjoy a little extra R&R. If I can get the CAAD together this weekend maybe I can even escape from the "dungeon" to do some outdoor riding.
My Pain Dungeon, with 3/5 fans visible. Some work gets done here.
And alas that's all the time we have for today. As the cold weather creeps in I'll leave you with warm thoughts. As always, thanks for taking the time to read and share!
Goodbye Warm Weather! Hello Hoodies.
-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Birthday - to me :)

Firstly, my apologies for being a day or two late. Recovery from birthday weekend and all that...

Running towards living long enough to be a dirty old man.

Well, it's that time of the year again. Time to celebrate beating the odds and successfully not perishing these last 365 days. This birthday is probably the first "important" one I've had since I turned 25... (insurance went down! Booya!) not because of my actual age (ahem... 29) but because of my racing age. That's right, I've aged up into the 30-34M category at most races. No longer will being a fairly good biker, passable swimmer and mediocre runner cut the mustard. Now it's either get fast or go home. (In a couple more years, it'll be time to go to the nursing home!)

Zipp has yet to release and discs for this bad boy.
That said, I'm trying! My running mileage has been coming up (although both my biking and my swimming miles are embarrassingly low) and I have stopped feeling like I've had the absolute crap beat out of me every time I walk back in the door, so I'd say that's forward progress. I guess it's time to sign up for a Turkey Trot and get a race under my belt before I gorge myself on Thanksgiving dinner.

So looking back from my birthday, and because really, I've been rather boring this last week or two (well... I have certainly had some wild nights... but this isn't a blog about hellraising... well... mostly.) I think we'll go back through pictures (they're each worth a lot of words I hear) of my time in triathlon (and the M25-29 AG)
That's right, 200lbs of Hanes sock and Schwinn Helmets!

 My first true love. I still ride this bad boy on occasion.

Then I wrecked... broke my collarbone... had surgery... you know...

Picture of the damage

Back in the water not 3 months later! Still not a good swimmer though!
Rev3 Knoxville... my disaster of a first OWS. Somehow I lived... and vowed to learn to swim (good)
And at the end of the same year at Rev3 Cedar Point. This time I was ready for Lake Erie
Loving every minute of the 112miles of cycling. HTFU Disc's first appearance!
140.6 later... I'm an Iron Full Revver
Learning to lose a bit of modesty. TT skinsuit and shaved legs!
Pretending to be a roadie. A far cry from the beginning... I've got a real jersey!
Post Augusta with some cool wall art!

I suppose I'll stop there. I've got some more good pictures, but I may need to use them at some other time! :)

I'd like to thank all of you that read through my little story here, and for sharing this part of my journey!

Until next time (and maybe some real substance!)
-Christopher Morelock

Monday, October 29, 2012

And now for something completely different.

First, in the spirit of keeping my posts triathlon related (at least to some extent) I'll recap how things are going on that front this past week.

- Running mileage is still on the rise. Sadly East TN has taken a decided turn for the worst in terms of weather... from shorts to coats over the weekend. Being the hater of the dreadmill that I am, I snagged this little life saver for 1/2 off on
Makes all your cold feelings into warm feelings!

I'm usually not a big fan of running jackets, but this one is just breathable enough that I can stand it on my long runs without overheating. I wouldn't say Saucony makes a handsome jacket, but it's undeniably nice!

- I'm about halfway through with the CAAD8. Which is to say I just applied the second layer of primer this morning. The magic solution for getting your paint to look good is... strip, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, stickers, clear, sand, clear, sand. For the most part I use 1500 grit... you really just want everything nice and smooth before you move on to the next part.

And that's really it in the tri related world. Adding mileage to runs, maintaining swimming and biking (or at least trying to minimize losses) and working on the projects. That's how "off season's" tend to pan out for me... work on something specific and try to take a little extra time to catch up on life (read: Drink more)

-------------------------------------end tri stuff-------------------------------------

So in my Clark Kent life things have been busier. That's pretty normal for the end of tri season too... I'm never in lack of projects to keep me busy, and with extra time (not driving to the pool every day or two is huge haha) it always seems like I get in over my head pretty quickly.

- As a used car salesman it's always a "perk" to get to play with the interesting cars that come in. We generally try to keep a few "classics" on the lot, and low and behold if this little fellow didn't find himself a new home (with us) last weekend.
70 Coronet Super Bee! 383 w/ factory Air... nice.
  Fixing up old cars is basically the same game as fixing up bikes, except on a grander scale. This guy is a good 20 footer, but with a little work (and some serious ebay/online parts grinding) I'm hoping to turn a pretty nifty profit. Enough to keep my other addictions going at least!

- My old roommate got married last weekend!  He had an absolute blast of a reception (that is, an open bar) and we all managed to get our boogie shoes on and dance the night away. I feel a bit sorry for the bride's father (he thought we were all nuttier than squirrel poo... which... may be accurate) but on the whole everything went off without a hitch.
Groom (far right) and the rest of us jokers. I'm rocking the Red Solo Cup of course.
I wish I could convey how happy I am for the bride and groom, but since I can't... I'll just repeat my congratulations! Hopefully when he comes home from now on if anyone is naked it'll be his wife and not his roommate passed out in the floor. Not that that's ever happened...lately...

- Great joy to the world! I was doing my grocery shopping last night and was struck by a glorious sight!

Build your own hangover!
Eggnog is back on the shelves! Now, I won't lie to you, I'm a Christmas man for all the wrong reasons. One of my favorite movies of all time is Christmas Vacation... and I absolutely love the campiness you can get away with around Christmastime. I also love some good ole' Jameson Irish Whiskey... together we have a winning combo. Just add a cheesy Snowman (or Moose) mug and...well... things don't get much better.

- Finally, I've started to work on my (majorly) backed up paintings again. It feels weird picking up a (overly expensive... hey, I love nice bristles) paint brush after so long away from the canvas. No, I'm not throwing a picture of my canvas work on here... I'm a bit too shy when it comes to my work for that :) I will throw a random picture out of my sketchbook on here though...

Terrible Scan... Link and Zelda
I've been thinking of painting something Tri related for a while, no idea what it will be though. Actually, who am I kidding... I accepted my last commission (what I'm working on now) last year and it's not even halfway done :( (Hey, it's done when it's done) so I suppose I am not going to have much time for my own stuff in the near future!

Well, that's what I've got this week! Thanks for stopping by and seeing what's up in my life.
Next week... my Birthday!

- Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What else is there to talk about this week...

The weather... politics... religion... women's suffrage... I'm not sure anything I could write about has been more heatedly "discussed" in the past few weeks than...


Patriot. Hero. World class cyclist. Wait...

You don't need (or want) me to repeat what you've already read on every forum or news source on the internet. You know what has went down, and you have already formed your opinion on the situation... and nothing some no-name blogger from East Tennessee has to say is going to sway you. So I'm not going to try. That doesn't mean you get a free pass from reading me pan on about some of my thoughts though... I mean, seriously... it's my blog.

First, let me get this out of the way so that we have perspective in regards to anything else I say. I'm primarily indifferent to the situation. I think at this point (years later) everyone was already riding down the rail road tracks they layed years before, with no opportunity to de-rail or change course. Could they have made better/different choices? Maybe... but then we wouldn't be at this crossing would we? Even the UCI had no "true" choice IMO. Either uphold the USADA's recommendation, or go down with the sinking ship. (they quite possibly are anyways...)

So now we're left with this, from what I've seen.

- People are attempting to get money back from Livestrong... which IMO is not only ludicrous, but just skeezy in general. C'mon people, what were your intentions (well... tax write off excluded) in the first place. At some point doesn't the ideal overshadow the idol? The same thing goes for the raging debate of whether to wear your bracelet or not. If you were wearing that bracelet to support Lance, (and you no longer do) then take it off and throw it away. If you were wearing it for the symbolism (originally the "Wear Yellow Live Strong" program) then for the love of baby Jesus...keep it on.

Do you wear it for the meaning or the man?

- Landis is still running his mouth... which, I suppose, is a good thing. The first tour I ever watched was 2006, and man, I remember thinking how insane it was that he made up SOOO much time just by being a tough b#stard! Then came the fallout, and then of course the book (I have a signed copy... I'm going to start a book shelf with a new category... Cyclist Fiction) and the biggest scummery of all... the Floyd Fairness Fund. Hopefully he really will pay the people who donated back, but really dude... geez that's low.

Floyd after finding out he was stripped of the 06 Jersey.

- They are just leaving the 7 years Lance won the tour as blanks... no winner for the history books. Why? So we can look back in 50 years and say "wow that was a shitty time in cycling history... all those dirty dopers sucked!" as the future generations ride on breaking records with metal legs and stem cell fueled GU. Not to mention... remember when Andy Schleck won the tour? Remember all those fans cheering for him on those glorious steps? Remember the toy Lion, the podium kisses, the... oh... wait... that's right... he got his award later, after everybody went on with their life. It was Contador that stood up there and got all the cheers, kisses, and recognition... was on the news the world over, in the papers... you know, page 1. (Well, 1'ish most places) as opposed to Andy who might have got mentioned as being the "real" winner on page 8B. You can't strip all those memories and accolades, so why try? Just throw the * up there and let us move on. Especially when you can't look back in the records and find a *clean* rider in the top rankings... ANY of the years we're looking at. Maybe Cadel? MAAYYBBBBEE.

Not my idea of podium girls... but whatever floats your boat.

- The other fella's are pulling out all the stops for the "Most Loatheable" award. Hincapie really left a sour taste for me... retire and then admit to it... of course not after 2006. Even though in his own statement he says he needed to dope to be at the top level, he then quit doping and or 6 more years continued to stay competitive. (for him) Sure thing George.
Then you have Hamilton and his crusade for book sales (it actually was a good read) and media attention.
And Garmin... I don't even want to go there. The "Clean team." I'd run from that roster like the plague if I heard the term "clean" being thrown around.

Hamilton at his book release signing.
Then there are the triathletes. Where do we fit in to all of this. For some precious few, there is hope that triathlon is not riddled with the same "dirt." I would like to say I was one of those people, but I am not. I think that besides triathlons extremely lax testing protocol, the desire to win (at all costs) will cause men (and women) to cheat at, well, basically anything. Obviously Moats getting popped in the heat of the Lance debacle has opened a couple of eyes, but I suspect that we have a long time coming before we really get to taking steps towards cleaning up triathlon. I hope I'm wrong and that the few isolated incidents in triathlon are just that...but... well I'm no Optimist. I know firsthand what people will do to get what they want, regardless of how silly it is.

~~~Flashback Time~~~

Once upon a time, I was in college. I lived with a couple of fellas and we were exactly what you would expect from 20-something year old East Tennessee boys. That is to say we were immoral jackals who's greatest aspiration in life was to make it until Thursday night. (Party Thursday - Sunday! ... hey, it's a college town, cut me some slack.) This, oddly enough, is where I first ran into Steroids. Not on the football field (I was about as dexterous as a dead cat) or the swimming pool (hah, couldn't swim) nor the track (hated running... strange looking back how I ended up in triathlon...huh) but in my friends room, helping him poke a needle into his bare ass.

Yep. I am guilty of helping a friend dope.
For Glory? Nope
For Money? Nope
For a Spot on the team? Nope

Why then? For a much nobler purpose. Because he thought it would help him get girls.
That's it ladies and gentlemen... all it takes to get somebody to dope... a pretty set of legs.

And, at the very least it helped his confidence...which in turn became a self fulfilling prophecy. He got more girls. You could ask him today and he'd tell you it was a great choice. (He's married now)

What about me? I was tempted. Fortunately I had a couple of things working for me.
1.) I was already a pretty witty fellow (especially with a little liquid courage) so I had no real "need" to be the big guy to impress the ladies.
2.) I didn't have the money to buy the stuff. (I spent it all on booze)
3.) I'm basically terrified of needles. (Manly I know)

Coming from an athletic background including 12oz curls for reps,
quarters for dexterity, and a power hour for endurance!
Yes, I was a screwed up youth adult
So that was my experience with the stuff. It wasn't for me, and I'm glad I didn't do it then, but I certainly wouldn't look down on my friends who made those choices. Same thing with the guys that get busted doing it now. I don't agree with their choices, and I think they are getting what they deserve when they get caught (well... they are getting some of what they deserve at least) but I know they are doing what they think is *best* for them. We can all internet keyboard jockey about how much slime they are... but when it all comes right down to it let me ask you this... and really consider it.

You're *almost* there. Pro. They come to you and say "we'd like to have you on the team, but..." you know what's implied. It's going to end up being the difference of going home and being a good home town cyclist, or getting to fly around the world and train / race with the best... and get paid to do it. What would you say? Now imagine that it was your dream (as it is for many of those guys) from the time you were a kid riding your 7-Eleven Huffy. Would your answer be different when you were 17-24 than it is now?

There you go... that's what I've got. I know... a lot of it is opinion... hell a lot of it isn't even a all that well informed opinion... but it's what I think.

Bottom Line. Let's hope that all that has been done and will be done is for the good of cycling, triathlon, and all other sports. Let's hope that the next generation looks back and says "If not for them, it would have never gotten any better."
Let's hope.

-Christopher Morelock