Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Interlude (from important things)

First and most importantly - CHECK OUT THESE SWEET SHADES

80's Oakley Factory Pilots... I have to be faster channeling my inner Lemond...right?

The last week has been rough. Due to my smartphone being far smarter than I am I ended up flipping some workouts last Tue/Wed. Normally not a big deal, but it ended up sandwiching a long run between two hard bike workouts. The result? Me having to cut the second bike workout and then cutting my long ride in half on Sunday. Some rest is necessary even for the most ambitious of us it seems.

Fortunately these things (some people call it life) happen, and when they do you just adjust. No need to panic.

My swimming on the other hand is coming along nicely. I've been getting tips from some of the local "fish" and I can tell it is really helping. Most annoyingly, my left foot darts out on my right stroke, breaking the "tube." It's something that I've got to work on... even if it's only costing me a couple of seconds per race, it's time I desperately need. Still, after my result in the Storm the Fort swim, I can't be too unhappy with how things are progressing.

Running is pretty static at the moment, I'm still increasing volume, although it won't "really" be going up until after I come back from the beach. Saturday I had a 90' run in what I can only describe as the aftershock of the Great Deluge. Going out it was just pouring down rain, but at the turnaround point (you know... 5 1/2 miles from home) I noticed that the trails weren't draining fast enough. By the time I got on my way back, I had to do my best Oregon Trail impression and ford a couple of floods!

In non-training news... it's time to build the Cervelo!

While not a TOTAL swap from the Planet X (Which is on it's way to Single Speed land) it is certainly going to be accepting a lot of donations. Here's the build sheet as it looks so far

Trying to get the measurements set in the "Bicycle Graveyard"

- Cervelo P3(aluminum) frame
- Cervelo aluminum (possibly end up with carbon) aero seatpost
- Ceramic Speed Bottom Bracket
- Dura Ace 7800 Crankset (170mm)
- Osymetric 56/42 Chainrings
- Dura Ace 7800 Front Derailleur
- Dura Ace 7900 Rear Derailleur
- Tririg Omega Front / Rear brake Calipers
- Alligator I-links and I-link mini's for cables
- Arundel Chrono Aero Bottle

I've also imported my cockpit from the Planet X, however I am itching to try out a 3T Ventus (or maybe a USE Tula) on this build. The upside is that the Ventus is a nutty slick aerobar. The downside is that it's a very "fixed" cockpit. To emulate my position will require a good amount of tinkering and adjusting/sawing/dremeling/whatevering to make it work. I'm down for the challenge, just not at the price Ventus bar's generally bring. If I lucked into a good deal I'd certainly give it a try though.

The stem (which wouldn't be an issue with the Ventus) I'm using is a Ritchey adjustable. This is a rock-solid stem I use on pretty much all of my bikes, but that said, I'd like to track down the "big daddy" LOOK Ergo-stem. Unfortunately these things are pretty rare (especially a non-threaded one) but I have my eye out.

Lastly is the fork. The stock "Cervelo" one (before the Wolf) is a fine fork, but I'm much more interested in hunting down a Blackwell Research Time Bandit or an Argos (MDT?) Flat blade fork. Again, rare parts, especially when they have to be 1" size. Still, the hunt goes on.

Wheels will of course be my old standby Hed3 front (with Aerowing) and Powertap rear (with GP4000s probably) and latex.

I'm also considering trying to build my own cockpit. It's probably a pipe dream (and of course i'm terribly poor at FINISHING projects.) but it would be really sweet.

I have been working on my carbon fiber work and I did a repair on a carbon steerer that was cracked. Everything looks like it's good to go (other than needing sanded smooth) no way this thing isn't as good as it was from the factory. (If not stronger) I guess I may end up being the crash test dummy though...

Overwrapped it most likely... but I wanted to err on the side of "more" instead of "less."

Well, that's it for this week. Thanks for reading :)

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ReVIEW-Speed Skewers (and Amigo)

Hello Viewers and all,

The best way to dive back in to "normal" content... with a review of course!

Today I'm going to be talking about the View-Speed S3 Skewers. (and the Amigo multi-tool) View-Speed is Neal's (Nealhe on the forums) project, and it's "small" guys like him that really can come up with some great and innovating things you'd likely never see from the "big" companies.. Anyways, let's cut the foreplay and get down to business.

So, what's the big deal about the skewers? Well, let's get the technical stuff out of the way first.
- Made from Titanium
- 44ish grams (lighter than most NON weight weenie skewers)
- 5mm hex key installation
- ~$73.00 / pair

Ok, now the main reason you would be interested in these skewers (I assume) is because, like me, you are an aero nerd looking to shave as many precious seconds off your bike split as is possible. Comparing the S3's to a normal quick release skewer will quickly give you an idea of just how minimal they are.
Get out of here Fatty McFaterson!
What kind of time savings are we talking about here? View-Speeds estimate is around a minute for an Ironman bike split at 20mph average pace. This is the part where a lot of people are going to say to the screen "yeah whatever, that's not enough to worry about." Well... it's fine to be wrong if you want to be, but the fact is, you MUST have skewers on your bike. If using X instead of Y skewers can make me faster...why would I not choose them?
On the front of my Planet X. Sort of makes my 19mm Aerowing look like a fat tire!
Well, in honor of playing fair, there are reasons you might not choose them. The primary one is because of the way the S3's are installed. The bolt on system is not a big deal to install, however, it does add a step (and precious time) in the event that you have a flat and have to remove the wheel. I've timed myself a few times, and I don't think I can get the skewer off and back on in less than a minute... so IF you were in a 140.6 race, and IF you had a flat... then it would cost you some time to be using the S3's as opposed to quick-release skewers. That might be an issue for some... but speaking solely for myself, if I flat in anything under a 70.3 then the time it takes me to replace a tube is race-ending anyways. If I flat in a 140.6, adding a couple of seconds to the time I spend replacing it is "probably" not make/break... and is a risk I'm willing to take. I would also run them in a 70.3, although I think there could be some grey area there where I wouldn't blame someone for running QR skewers. I also obviously would not ever run these skewers in a road race/crit, where quickly changing out wheels is very important, but that's not who these are marketed towards.

I guess I'm saying I'm willing to gamble being a minute faster in a 112 mile ride against spending ~30 more seconds on the side of the road if I flat.

As far as "how they work" I can say I've had no complaints. I've been using them for a little over a month with absolutely no problem. I've used both the blue Loctite tape (included) and just regular blue Loctite in my installations and I've had no problem with any slipping or movement in my rear dropouts or any sign that the skewer might be loosening at all.

I went with the S3's over the S4's just because the S4's don't work with every fork out there (and I have quite a few different forks to move around) and also because the S3's are black. If you upgrade to the S4's you get a little bit lighter and a little bit less frontal area. (The cap has a little less bulge)
I don't think you can lose either way, just make sure your fork works with the S4 in advance.

The other item I got from View-Speed is the Amigo Multi Tool.
Included in the Amigo kit
This is a fairly handle little tool if you are looking to simplify your flat kit. It's basically a melding of a tire lever, a multi-head wrench and a spanner (for the S4 skewers) in either aluminum or titanium. (gotta save those grams)
Reviewing something like a multi-tool is tough. It is what it is. The tire lever acceptable (although being made out of aluminum I do have a nagging fear it *might* be easier to rip a tube with it as opposed to a plastic one if you were in a hurry. That's possibly an irrational fear though.) and will certainly get the job done on the side of the road. The S4 spanner I have not used (as I don't have S4's) but I assume they do the job, and the Wrench / replaceable heads is an excellent idea. The included "sheath" even lets you pick a couple of different heads so you'll be ready for multiple situations. The only gripe I come up with is that the included set of heads is fairly "low end." I think they would probably be fine, but I am a bit of a stickler for tools, so I will stick with my DeWalt bits personally.
Not a bad little compact setup to have when you're on the side of the road
I really like the View-Speed products (and projects) and Neal seems like a good dude (which shouldn't be the basis of whether or not the product is good or not, but it's always nice when the person running things isn't a tool.) so the Skewers and the Amigo both get the thumbs up from this guy.
On a completely unrelated note, the Aluminum P3 is in my possession and waiting for me to get all the necessary parts to build it up. I'm still a little undecided about whether I'll keep the Red/White Cervelo paint or if I'll be taking it to flat black. I was thinking if it stayed Red/White that the disc wheel would look cool with a decal of the TN state flag... although I am still on the fence... any thoughts from you guys would be appreciated!
New Disc Wheel cover?
Until next time, thanks for reading! I appreciate it.

Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An important lesson to a Triathlete from Dragoncon.

Last week was a far departure from the "norm" of this blog. This week I think I would like to consider it a bit more of a "transition" back to the standard fare. It's also going to be a little heavy on the musings, so for all of you out there that don't enjoy philosophy and basically just a bunch of wild and desperate ravings...  Sorry.

So, what was this little thing that I seemed to have forgotten that going to a convention (at least perceived to be) devoid of athletes reminded and enforced to me?

It's ok to be what you are. In fact, you should be proud of it. Hell, Celebrate it.

In the past few years I've made some pretty significant changes in the way I live my life. I've went on in moderate detail about my lifestyle prior to becoming a triathlete, and when I started my "metamorphosis" to athlete (and still, I use that term VERY loosely) it alienated a large portion of my acquaintances. (I use that term instead of friends because my real friends are still around) Even my family and close friends have had a very tough time understanding. Heck, for a long time I had the same trouble. Every new bike, pair of running shoes, wetsuit...whatever... would get a strange look of no less shock than if I had screwed my head around backwards a la exorcist.
Running stairs is a good form of cross training, and you can do it in your own home. Spider walk for added difficulty, or if by chance you are possessed by the king of wind demons...
And so, if you're like me, you almost end up "apologetic" for your lifestyle. "Sorry guys, bummer, I have to get up in the morning and swim." or "Oh... yeah it's just kind of a hobby." or whatever your excuse may be so that the rest of the world sees you as a bit more normal. I mean... you don't want everyone at the office to know just how serious you are about training...right?
But at Dragoncon I noticed something just standing around the lobby people watching. A lot of these guys and girls weren't ashamed that they were passionate about something... whether it was anime, video games, RPGs or whatever. They were celebrating it. And it worked. At no point did anyone look out of place just enjoying the sh*t out of what they loved. And that got me thinking, why the hell am I (are we?) not proud of what we love? Is it because we don't want to sound like we're bragging? F that. I worked my butt off! I'm not saying every time I meet someone on the street I'm going to kick off with a handshake and "Multiple Ironman Finisher" but if somebody asks, I'm not going to downplay it any more. Yeah, it was a long way, yeah it's a lot of work, yeah I love it. All of it.
Wearing spandex and half drowned, I'm having the time of my life.
 a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities.
So I'm a tri nerd, and I'm proud of it. It took a trip to a convention as far removed from triathlon as you can get to remind me of that fact.
I apologize for disrupting your regularly scheduled blogging... I promise next week the crazy rants about non-tri stuff will be over and we'll be back to normal. But hey, I'm on a roll.
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
As for some real tri related stuff, I decided to do my long ride inside on the trainer last Sunday. No, it wasn't raining, it was actually very nice out. Why did I put myself through 4 hours on the trainer then? Ehh... I haven't done it in a while and every now and then I like to test the mental as well as the physical. Long rides inside seem to really kill some people... I've always been at least "ok" with them... (when training for the Full Rev3 I did a 6 hour ride... that was pretty miserable I suppose) they aren't the most fun you can be having, but it's riding my bike so it can't be all bad. The key is to have a LOT of smaller goals and not just some big stretch of time where you are "grinding." Grinding is giving your mind time to reason out why you should cut it short. Here's what my 4hr ride looked like
30' spinning warmup
15' building (200w for me)
15' 210w
15' 180w
15' 200w
4x10' pushing a big gear @ 210w / 5' spin between. Each set drop a cog in the back (& cadence)
2x(1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5) @ 250w, equal time recovering after each set.
30' cooldown
That passes the time pretty quick. Of course you need to make sure you're taking in sufficient calories and water during that time, and a LOT of fans and good music certainly help. Of course using that model you'd need to adjust for your own power levels (My FTP is sitting around 29X at the moment) and this ride ended with an Intensity Factor of about .85
I'm also excited to announce a new member to the stable.
Excited to build this fellow up
That's right. A long(ish) hunt for a new race bike to replace the Planet X at last turned up a winner. This 53cm Aluminum P3 will be my main tri bike next year...after a little modification (and paint work) of course. Finding one of these guys in 53cm is pretty tough (in my experience) so I'm lucky I snagged it! Doesn't hurt that it's got some perfectly fine Dura Ace 7800 in the package. Of course I'll keep you all posted on the build (and on the likely transformation of the Planet X into a Single Speed/Fixie.)

As for other things in the works... I've finally gotten back around to my CR1 after a big order to Fiberglast. Filler has been applied and now it's just a matter of a quick carbon re-wrap around the stays and to get it painted. I'll try to get some pictures of the final bit of the process.

Anyways... Next week I'd like to get a review in, but we'll see what happens.

Thank you all for reading. Remember to be proud of who you are :)

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Wittiest Triathlete at Dragoncon 2013*

I came (late) I saw (too little) and I didn't even get a F*n Tshirt.

- I'm going to be breaking this into two parts. This one will be more of a picture sharing / things I saw that were cool / geek out post that has nothing to do with sports. (well, other than Marathon viewing of Mystery Science Theatre 3000) Part 2 will be a bit more philosophical and will actually tie in with Triathlon (I know, strange contrast from the outside)

If you've been following the blog for any amount of time (or have had the... pleasure... of meeting me in person) you know that outside of my love for endurance sports (which in itself may qualify as borderline geeky) I'm a huge nerd. I grew up on comic books, video games and anime. (Or what qualified as anime in America in the late 80's and 90's) I played competitive Magic: The Gathering for about 15 years... even got pretty highly ranked at one time. Anyways, so yeah... taking a mini-vacation to Atlanta for Dragoncon only made sense as a good "battery recharge" from my race season.

We (myself and Chad, one of my best friends, and also one of my only friends who could "appreciate" the event in it's entirety) loaded into the car early Friday morning and made the 4 hour drive down to Atlanta, only having one or two "oh sh*t" moments of nearly missing our exit once we were actually in Atl. We stayed about 10 miles out from the convention (even getting a room nearly a year in advance it was as close as we could get) at the Holiday Inn Convention... and what a turd of a hotel. I liken it very much to the "levels" of hell portrayed in Dante's Inferno in that each floor seemed to have a different "torment." Floor 3 (ours) was plagued with moisture. Literally laying in bed my covers were soggy. On floor 2 (of course only some floors have an Ice machine...) it was blazing hot and the Ice machine was constantly out of ice. Such are the dangers of "sight unseen" hotels. Fortunately we were going to be spending very minimal time in our Hotel, so putting up with a few discomforts was acceptable.

Our hotel, floor 3. Perfect if you were a Glutton for Punishment. (See what I did there!)

Enough about the hotel horrors. We load our bottles (bike bottles are good for a lot of things besides on the road hydration) with Kraken (rum) and overpriced Diet Coke and make our way to Dragoncon! Full of adventure, amazement, beauty.... and long lines...

Welcome to...LINECON 2013!

Yeah, just the wait to check in was a little over an hour and a half. A few people we met (it's easy to get cozy with your neighbors when you have nothing to do but stand) said the line on Thursday afternoon was so long that they decided to just wait til' Friday. Ok...ok... we survived that setback (and ended up a bit tipsy by the end of the line) and were rewarded with our passes. Now, enough whining from me (for real this time) on to some pictures and the cool stuff.
Great Daft Punk outfit (I kid...I kid...)
The Chess playing Jawa!
Wendy and Ronald... sorry I was a couple of drinks in for this picture...
Galactus, destroyer of paper mache
No idea what they were supposed to be other than hot...
King Hippo!
I assume the look of anger on his face had to do with figuring out how to use a urinal in that suit...
Chad taking a Dragon Uppercut to the chin
Mega Man!
This dude called me a primitive screwhead when I asked for a picture.
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in line for a drink.
The start of the parade... although most of what you can see is just the mass of people...
Patrick Swayze's reanimated corpse...
Doc Ock!
These costumes were really good.
Big evil eyeball truck demon cannon thing...
All the Deadpools... All of them.
Want me to drag him out of here and kick the sh*t out of him?
Blasphemy... I'm sure the ark is made of Natural Light...
Noo... don't kill me until I've finished my ale.
Dragoncon really does have something for everybody. You could spend your weekend immersed in any number of things that would leave you without even scratching the surface of everything there. Want to play some obscure board games... there's a room for that. Grind an MMORPG or Frag your buddies in Halo? Yep, it can be done. Drone through a campaign of AD&D for 12 hours straight? No Problem. Meet a ton of Fantasy/Sci-Fi Celebs and pick through a massive art show? Got you covered. Just want to catch a buzz and hit on girls (and guys) dressed as any obscure sci-fi/comic/anime character you can imagine... yeah, no sweat. In fact, the bars (and mini-bars) were some of the premium places to see some crazy light saber duels and robot on robot battles... all while drinking $4 domestics and $7 imports.

As for us, we managed to fit as much as we could (for first timers) into the trip. We attended two retro video game panels (which were both rather unsatisfying... neither group seemed to have any idea what they were going to talk about.) earlier in the first day, and then attended a showing / discussion of AKIRA hosted by Joe Peacock. (who is the #1 collector) Now, this was one of the first (bootleg) animes I had ever seen, so I was interested from the start, but I have to say it was one of the best presentations I've been a party to on ANY subject, but specifically pertaining to how important this film still is to art and animation. Akira is one of only 2 cartoons to ever be shot in 24fps, the other being Richard William's (of Roger Rabbit fame) The Thief and the Cobbler (which is also beautiful... what's done of it.) of course, Akira took two years to make... The Thief is currently at 30+ years (Guinness record) and will never truly be finished. (although here is a link to the "re-cobbled" cut...) Anyways, back to Akira... so much depth and devotion went into that movie... it was mind blowing. This link is of Joe talking about one of the more obscure background paintings in the movie and it's immense level of detail, despite most of it being covered by foreground objects.

Yeah yeah... /tangent. Go watch Akira and the recobbled Thief & Cobbler. They're both pretty sweet and basically still untouched in terms of quality. (and I'm a Disney fan)

Vincent Price in his last role. Also the inspiration for a couple of characters in Aladdin.

We also went to a pretty sweet skeptics meeting with Michael Shermer (of Skeptic Magazine) who had a very good presentation and some thought provoking material, even if it was a bit presumptuous for my tastes...

Also, most exciting for me was the chance to meet and question Lloyd Kaufman, the founder of TROMA (Toxic Avenger, etc) whose movies have entertained me (and generally repulsed everyone else in the room) since I was about 10 years old. I always think it's cool to meet guys that could have been "legit" (Kaufman had a hand in movies like Rocky, The Final Countdown and Saturday Night Fever) but instead went on to be a "B" (or even "C") movie Legend.

I heart the monster hero. (Obscure reference in article # who knows what.)

Finally, after battling through the crowds and the freaks (I mean that in a good way) and the endless maze that is gigantic convention center hotels... we finished off our trip with a marathon viewing of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. "Manos, the hands of Fate" (A classic... what a terrible movie) probably the greatest MST3K episode ever, and an amazing recall to my childhood. I never really appreciated how great MST3K was when I was younger. Now that I can really understand the humor (and drink...) it's even better!

Sadly, real life called and both Chad and myself had to be back on Sunday, so we turned in early (well... 3a.m. early anyways... Dragoncon doesn't really distinguish "time" in the usual sense. There's always a billion people around and inside lighting, so the only way to tell what time it is is by the amount of Karaoke going on and the general level of drunkenness.) and made the unexciting trip back home.

Fortunately, I came back feeling like the batteries were back to fully charged and ready for some serious miles running to be put down. The goal is for a low to mid 1:2x run at the Knoxville 1/2 Marathon next year, and of course to stay injury free.

So ends part 1. I hope you enjoyed some of my crappy photography. Next week I'll be explaining a bit of what my trip taught me in regards to triathlon. (and maybe even life in general)
I know it's a departure, but I hope you enjoyed it. Now go click all the links and learn new nerdy trivia to impress your friends with!

Thanks again for reading

- Christopher Morelock

*In my opinion