Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thanks and the last week of the off season

First, a big thank you to everyone who voted for me and the Zipp 2001 in Cycology Bicycles (free plug) Bike Beauty contest. We crushed everyone else (Take that Mike!) and I came away with the belt buckle and bragging rights. It's great to see some hope that these little pieces of history won't be forgotten. It's hard to believe that this bike is 20 years old and the design is around 25+ (1989) and yet many parts of the design (internal routing, aero brakes - especially the rear and it's placing) are only recently making their way into our sport as "the norm."
I'll give you, new bikes BB mounted brakes do have the advantage of actually having a shot of stopping you...

It doesn't hurt that it's also one of the fastest bikes ever made... holding up well even to today's superbikes. And I mean, c'mon. It's a sweet bike.

Speaking of sweet... here's another Zipp bike that I've always been intrigued by
The handlebars are probably a bit obnoxious (I'm thinking Obree "Egg" style is the way to go) and the HED 3 is a little bit blasphemous, but the motorcycle fairing is a great (if totally illegal) idea. Maybe you could make it "functional" somehow...

That thing "looks" like it could really do some work if you were willing to suffer a heinous position for a long enough time.

Anyways, I'll post up some pictures of the belt buckle as soon as I go claim it. Thanks again to all who voted for me.

As for the truly exciting stuff, racing starts next week!!!! Ohhh yeah! Next Wednesday is my first (ever...) criterium race, and then Sunday is the Knoxville Half Marathon. It's been two years (2011) since I last ran the Knox 1/2, and I'm excited to give it another go. I felt like a 1:41:xx was a great time for me then, but I have to say I will be a little disappointed if I don't go into the low/mid 1:3x:xx's this year. I know better than to put expectations on my race BEFORE race day arrives, but there it is anyways.

First tri is the next weekend, I'm still a bit undecided as to whether I'll be doing it or not. Hopefully all will go well with the 1/2 and I'll be ripping and raring to go for it as well. It'd be nice to start off tri season with a podium place, and the Trideltathon has treated me well in the past.
Coming into (or out of) transition last year at the trideltathon. White is just not my color...
So, hopefully next week I'll have some good news about my first Cat5 race. Until then, thanks for reading.

-Christopher Morelock
- Edit -
A picture of the belt buckle of champions!
And sporting the Endurance Conspiracy shirt!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shameless Plug (Vote for me)

If anyone has some extra time on their hands and wouldn't mind helping out your favorite blogger, please visit this facebook page and vote for my Zipp 2001.  (Just "like" my bike.)

Any excuse to post a picture of my baby!

Thanks many times in advance

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be Cool (or Get Shorty)

Puns aside, I've entered a new period in my cycling career. With a bigger focus on traditional cycling in my sights, (that is, less time on the TT bike) and a growing ominous feeling that in short (>10mi) technical, hilly tri's I would be better (in this case, better = faster) on my road bike, I've decided to purchase my first pair of "Shorty" ITU aerobars.
I admit, it was a tough step for me. The Triathlete in me Wants and Loves to be on my TT/Tri bike. The roadie in me hates to mar the sleek sexy lines of my road machine with aerobars... and yet, here I am. With an aerobar fitted Cannondale sitting beside me, fully intending to complete the transformation for my first sprint (adding the disc, deep front and *Gasp* Aero Lid to the mix)
It won't technically be the first time, I rode my CR-1 last year with a disc (only drop bars) and deep front due to some technical problems with my TT bikes (that should read as... they were disassembled in my living room floor.) but this will be my first true foray into a true "half" TT setup. I'll be honest, I'm pretty excited. They look pretty awesome (I mean, for what they are) and they fit great.
I went with these.
Not the Sexiest, the lightest, or the most adjustable. But I like them.
The Vision Mini Clip TT's.
First, the things I really like.
- The Elbow pads are extremely low profile. Now included in the box are risers if you don't want quite so deep a drop, but for those of us that do, many aerobar companies start out pretty high. Not these. They are low hugging the bars, and for that they get big points in my book.
- The "Bridge" really pulls everything together. Besides being handy for guys and gals who like to "Zabriskie" their hands, it makes lining up the distance between them fairly fool proof. That said, they are made to be rode fairly narrow, so it may not be for everybody, although I suppose the same could be said for basically anything when we're talking position.
Captain America riding with one hand on top of the other.
- The installation is idiot proof. 10 bolts (2 in each bracket, 2 in each arm rest, 2 in the bridge ends) with only the most minimal danger of over-tightening (and then realistically only if you are riding carbon drop bars) makes an "instructionless" installation a breeze. This is also a boon if, like me, you intend to be removing them fairly often.
- Finally, these guys are priced pretty competitively at $130ish new if you buy from your LBS, and hovering right under $100 if you are more inclined to take the internet/ebay route.

What's not to like? Well, considering you understand what you are buying, not a lot.

- No fore/aft adjustment is pretty common with vision bars, and these are no exception, so don't expect to dial in your pads.

- Being made to work under restrictions (ITU racing mainly) means they come in one length, 170mm. That's pretty short even for the smallest rider. If you don't intend to ride on top of the bridge (^above) then you may find your hands out in space. While this wasn't a deal breaker for me, a lot of triathletes may want something longer (and possibly with a deeper bend) to find optimal comfort.
So, how do they look? Glad you asked.
As you can see, they really earn the term "Mini-TT" bars. Just a tad shorter than the end of the brifters.
A good picture of the bridge... and of my dirty pain cave.
Obviously there are plenty of options when it comes to clip-on's, and I doubt you can go to far wrong with any of them. Some of the Profile (Design) bars have some neat options like the "flip up" arm pads (using the theory that when they pop up you aren't limiting your hand position, although in most tri's I don't think I would suggest you spend much of your time riding on top of the bar towards the stem... but whatever) and a bit more adjustability, but really, this is a solution to get you a low "aero" position on a road bike, not to make you the king of comfort.
I think I've linked to this page about a million times, but here it is once again, Bikeradar's "How Aero is Aero" to give some idea (and numbers) to what kind of improvements you could reasonably expect from adding some bars like this to your roadie.
Today is the first day of spring! Sadly our forecast is snow showers! :( So it's not quite time to move most of my riding outdoors yet. Fortunately, this has given me some time to work on my indoor roller skills!
Look mom, no hands! And I'm using a camera :)
I know, years later, I'm still too big of a wuss to move my rollers out of a doorway. Maybe someday.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Updated Microshift White Groupset review

In November I gave my original impressions on the Microshift White Groupset. (Link here) Despite having ridden it enough to give my opinion on it at the time, I felt like a follow up after a good amount of miles would be helpful.

First, the good news. I am still very pleased with my purchase for the money spent. It has held up flawlessly, shifting as good today as it did day 1. Besides that, the white group (in white) looks stunning. Not many rides go by that I'm not asked about my kit... sure that's not a performance edge, but let's be honest, we all like to look good.

I still feel like this is a "workhorse" group. It doesn't do anything very flashily (other than look good) but it does work consistently every time. That in itself has spoken volumes to me. I don't worry as to whether it's going to work, I am as confident in it as I am in my Dura Ace.

All that said... if I was just going to say all the same stuff, this post would be fairly useless.

First, a picture of the bike in the pain cave.
You remember my project. Well she's still doing work, even when it's cold outside.

So... the bad news.

I had expressed doubts about the shift lever for the front chainring. (The throw to shift up is exceptionally long) After doing as much tinkering as I could and having some mechanic friends see what they thought... I can say with certainty that this is just a design problem.
It's tough to see, but this is how far the lever must be thrown to shift into the big ring.
That's the big complaint I've come up with. Shifting up requires some serious forethought. It's certainly no dealbreaker, but if there isn't an option to adjust it, it would seem that making it shorter would work for a wider variety of people. Ladies (and girly handed fellas like myself) will have a tough time thoughtlessly upshifting like is common on the big 3.

As awkward as this is normally, it's made worse when trying to take a picture of it
The second problem I've found (again with the shifters) is with the control for the rear derailleur. The "button" shift (upshift) is placed in a fantastic place... IF you are on the hoods. Unfortunately, even in my shallow drop bars it is very difficult to find the button in the drops, and actually impossible from a true "sprinting" position. Obviously, this gripe ranges from an almost non-existent issue (to the more recreational) to extremely annoying. ("racer" types who spend a lot of time down in the drops) This one is a bit tougher on me, as I like to do a lot of my riding down low.

Those are my two complaints after some more serious mileage. Beyond that everything is looking (and working) quite smoothly.

Here are a couple of quick snaps of how the front and rear derailleurs look. I'm obviously biased (I mean, it is my bike) but I think the whole setup looks pretty stunning. Black and white... the way it should be :)
I know, my chain is absolutely filthy. But the Derailleur looks nice!
The rear always looks plastic-like in the pictures... it's much better looking in person.

So, from my original review, I think the only change is that the brifters are probably closer to a 6 - 6.5 /10.

To echo myself a million times however, all these gripes and  moans should be taken with a grain of salt. You are paying a couple of hundred dollars for a kit I'm complaining isn't quite as nice as multiple thousand dollar Record/Dura Ace setup. Of course it isn't. It's like with cars when they compare a $50k Corvette to a $200k Ferrari... sure, the Ferrari is going to win the comparison, but the fact that they are even compared is a huge statement for the Vette.

Again, if you are looking for great performance (just not perfect) for the price, I don't think you can go wrong with the Microshift components. As long as they keep a similar price point, they will almost certainly be my go-to from now on for all but my most "pimp" projects.

Thanks for Reading!

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Race Schedule for 2013 season!

I've been working out my season the last few days and suppose that means that it's time to share. Of course things have already had issues, with planning my races around vacation(s) and so forth, not to mention keeping healthy throughout the season.

This year my goal is to broaden my horizons. For the last 3 years I've had the basic recipe of "couple of shorter races early in the season, longer A race at the end." Not that I've got any big complaints about that setup, but I am interested in trying out some other things as well.

So although this is surely going to have edits (I expect I'll end up adding at least 4-5 more races, possibly more) here's the current look of things.

April 7th - Knoxville (1/2) Marathon
April 14th - Trideltathon *Depends on how I feel a week from the 1/2

April 20-27 - Vacation

May 5th - Rev3 Olympic OR TN State TT Championship

May 12th - Berry Peddler Road Race / TT

May 25-27 - USAC Pro Road & TT Championships in Chattanooga (spectating)

June 23rd - Tellico Summer Solstice (was Amica) Tri

July 6th - West Side Y tri

July 28th - XTERRA Panther Creek tri

August 3rd - Springbrook Sprint

August 18th - Fall Creek Falls Olympic*

August 24th - Storm the Fort Olympic* (will probably do one of the two olympics)

September 22nd - Anchor Splash Sprint

September 28th -  Possibly Atomic Man 1/2 Iron distance

Also starting April 3rd is a Knoxville Crit (training) series that I may end up doing.

August 25th 2014 - Ironman Louisville* (Tentative)

I am not sure how all this will turn out. I haven't really looked at any running races or mountain bike races yet, both of which I'm interested in. I would also like to enter some more road races and possibly work on my Category (Cat5 yay) but we'll just have to see.

Now, just to stay injury free long enough to enjoy these races :)

Next week I'll hopefully be giving some updated thoughts on my Microshift groupset after some miles.

Thanks for reading,

Christopher Morelock