Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Zipp Strikes Back!

Part 2
cleaning up the mess. Hi Spider Man!

Last week I started breaking down the Zipp 2001 for a "refresher." Well I'm happy to say things are turning out even sexier than I had imagined they would. There have been a couple of "woo sah" take a breath annoying moments, but overall it's been a fairly straightforward and easy upgrade. The one thing of note that changed from what I had suggested as my final build last week is the extensions. I ended up using my Cobb Wrist Relief's over the Tririg Gamma's. Both are excellent extensions and both work pretty well for me, so in the end I chose the Cobb's because I've always liked the way the bend looks better than ski style... and for this bike cool was as big a factor as function. Likewise, cool factor was the deciding factor on whether to run bare cable or housing down to the front brake.

Everything coming together on the front end. The cable routing is insanely clean.

This post is not a review of the Tririg Sigma stem... but it would be criminal not to take a moment to praise it. I expected good stuff from Tririg in the first place, but the more I mess with the thing, the more I like it. You might notice that I've got two spacers under it, something I almost never do. Well, the Stem itself is so short I was afraid that if I cut the steerer tube any shorter I would never be able to use the fork again if I changed the stem... (which, you know, will probably never happen, but still) which is mainly an issue because finding a 650c 1" aero fork is not the easiest thing to do. That aside (and, that's actually a good thing 99% of the time) the thing is tight. I appreciated the hidden bolts and the "cap" to run the cables through works perfectly with the nokons. I'd love to see a negative ° stem in the future. I know there are reasons against it, but man that thing would sell!

Anyways, back to the Zipp. There were a couple of snags. First, the Cobb wrist relief extensions aren't the smoothest on the inside. Actually there is a lot of raw carbon just hanging out in there, so pushing the finicky Nokons through (without messing them up) was a challenge. Eventually I used an old derailleur cable and a lot of manpower to get it in correctly.

Omega installed!  400 front wheel showing that it was built to last ;)

Then of course there was the rear brake setup. I went back and forth a couple of times trying to decide whether or not to run the housing stopper on top of the Omega. Eventually I went with it, as I could get a little bit better power than I could running the noodle straight in. I'm not happy with the choice, but it's acceptable.

Everything else was pretty easy and straightforward. Lots of Vaseline at the cable entry points and around any bolt that is exposed to possible water/grime. (Important on all the Zipps) Now it's a matter of lining up the brakes with the wheels and putting the bad boy back on the road.

Also exciting is that the Cobb Mobb kits design is finished! Below is the two-piece. More interesting (to me at least) is the unique one piece design, which features an open stomach. It's the option I'll be going with most assuredly (more aero) and, secretly I've always wished it was easier to pee before a race in a onesie (hiking the leg up is awfully uncomfortable. ) Plus it should be much easier to stuff that "awakening" ice down the front in a hot race! Anyways, the kits will be made by COBB, so I'm expecting great things!
What you'll see me rocking in 2014!
Finally for this snowy day (it's 7° here today...sigh) I thought I'd mention some amazing blended whisky I bought last week. Hibiki 12 year is insanely smooth. Don't even say the word "mixer" in it's presence. The only thing you mix this with is whisky stones. (go home ice) Anyways, if "mid to upper" shelf whisky is something you are interested in, I highly suggest this stuff. It's on par with some of the better Scotch I've had.

One of the smoothest blended whisky's I've ever had... and I've had a couple ;) 

Anyways, it's time for me to dust off the rollers and get a workout in on my snow day!

Until next week, thanks for reading.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rigging up the Zipp (pt. 1)

PT. 1
Tearing her down.

My favorite toy is, without equal my Zipp 2001.  I don't ride it all that often, but man do I love it when I do. More than anything though, it's just cool. And I am a sucker for cool stuff.

That said, I kind of slapped it together when I bought it, getting it "nice enough" but not giving it the amount of attention it truly deserved as an aero benchmark. So, this year I've decided to remedy that problem, with a little help from the Tririg store.

Here's what we're starting with.

Pretty clean, but nothing spectacular. Cable routing is pretty meh.
This is what I started with. Syntace Stratos base bar, Ritchey stem, Oval S-bend extensions, Profile Design F19 pads/cups, SRAM Shifters and brake levers and Bontrager housing. Basically what I had sitting in my garage when I got the frame.

The Egg is still one of the best Aero brakes out there imo (especially when it comes to stopping power)
but it doesn't fit the "stock" Zipp look I'm going for.

The fork (Ouzo aero) is still a slick piece even by today's standards, but unfortunately the Simkins Egg brake is finally starting to show some age. I definitely have nothing but good things to say about the brake (other than it's a bit annoying to get set up if you have to do it "on the spot" away from the garage.) but it doesn't quite look the part for the Zipp. My vision for the final result is to be what Zipp would have used "today" as opposed to what they used in 1992.

The stock Zipp brake on the rear. Amazing aero tech for how old it is, just don't expect it to stop you.

The original Zipp brake on the other hand... well I don't have very much "good" to say about it at all. Once upon a time when aero goodies were a bit more of a "oh yeah..." afterthought, we were thankful for things like the Zipp brake, Hooker, Delta's, AX, etc. Hell, I've even "Cobb Hacked" a 105 brake. Unfortunately, the performance on these older aero brakes ranges from "serviceable" (The Hooker and AX) to downright dangerous. (The Hack and the Delta's come to mind) The Zipp brake falls somewhere in the middle... adequate as a rear brake (that is, it'll shave a little bit of speed when it's properly set up... which is a pain in itself) but definitely not something you'd want to rely on. And hey... it's aero, right? (And the carbon cover looks really cool.)

Of course, once they are side by side, you can see just how BIG the Zipp brake is.
Looking at the two brakes together it's easy to see just how far we've come. Not only is the Omega about half the size of the Zipp Brake, it also stops with plenty of power (and as a's even easy to set up!)

As for the rest of the cockpit, the changes are going to be straightforward... simple but effective. The S-bend extensions are getting swapped out for some Gamma extensions (at the ski bend is a bit easier for me to get into my optimal position, at least on this bike.) and the ugly Ritchey stem is getting upgraded to a much cleaner Sigma. Since I've got my old Nokons from my Planet X laying around, it seems like the perfect opportunity to upgrade that setup as well. Finally, I'll be chopping some of the length off of the Stratos brake extensions, as they are quite a bit too long for me.

Only a couple of things I'd *like* are missing from the new build. Unfortunately, I just can't justify the $ on some of these mods for a bike I don't ride all that often.

Things I'd like:
- A Zipp VumaChrono crank. The old Carbon Zipp crank I have is cool, but the Vuma is the update the 2001 deserves, even if it isn't the one it needs.

- A Zipp VukaAero base bar. Again, keeping things in the "Zipp" family would be sweet, but alas.

- Zipp Disc. The wheelcover is sorely lacking when you compare it to how sweet a real disc looks. Being a 650c bike though makes it really hard to justify a dedicated race wheel. Maybe an old 900 / 870 will show up on ebay one day that the hipsters don't snipe.

- A 3000 Front Wheel. I know it's not Aero. I know they're gobbled up by the aforementioned hipsters...but dang it, it looks cool. A yellow one would just be icing on the cake.

Anyways, I've got it apart. I even got the brakes mounted and the Stratos cut. Then the Arctic cold hit again and sapped away my motivation to be out in the garage. So, I suppose I'll save the "building it back up" for next week.

Thanks for reading, I always appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review! The 3T Ventus

In true Wit fashion... this review is for a set of bars that have been out for years and aren't even currently in production (screw you Ventus 2) nonetheless, I feel like enough people seek them out that a review is in order. And the whole "my sandbox" thing...

Bonus! It looks sort of like a Star Wars fighter :)

When it comes to aero fanboy pron (did I just invent a new term?) there are really only a few bars out there that inspire true lust like the original 3T Ventus bars. Sure, I'll grant you the USE Tulas, Tririg Alpha's and some "lesser known's" (The original Speed Concept 9 bars, the Felt Devox UCI illegal setup.) are certainly sexy bars... but I ended up choosing the 3T for a couple of reasons.

1.) It's fast. One of the fastest bars ever tested.
2.) It's sexy. Yes, that's a good reason.
3.) It looked like the -17° version would be a good fit on my P3sl.
4.) I am an ebay sniping addict and won the high bid way cheaper than I expected it would go for...
5.) Did I mention it was sexy?

Ok, so after the initial "ooh" and "ahh" phase wore off, it was time to get the bad boy installed and go for a ride. Due to my "want" for a higher hand position and the lack of adjustability on te Ventus, I chose W-bend extensions. (also known as Vande Velde extensions... searching for W bends won't find much in google.) Now after a few months on board the cockpit of Zeus, I feel like I can go over the good and bad.

On to the Review!

The Good

- Installation, mainly credited to the proprietary nature of the bar, is simple and straightforward. Bolt goes here, don't tighten beyond X, cables run smoothly through the internal liner, bingo. Done. Actually, I'd say that these were probably the quickest to setup bars I've ever messed with.

- The Ventus comfort pads/cradles are a thing that every other company in the aerobar market should get their hands on, study and then shamelessly copy. All set up I'd say it's on par out of the box with my old setup that I had to piece together to get "just right." (Oval cradles, Ceegee pads, 3T - mistral - mounts.)

The front of my P3alu. Note the deep bend W-extensions and my cabling skills.

- The attention to detail that 3T went to is worth calling out. "Crab Claw" like brake levers may not be for everyone, but they are slippery in the wind. A flat "wing" shape and no bend at the end of the base bar assures you that this thing was made with speed in mind as it's first priority. I've always appreciated that kind of "all in" attitude.

The Bad

- Adjustability. Now, if you're in the market for a Ventus, you should have some idea of whether or not it's going to work for you or not. You get two stem options, the +6° and the -17°. The negative is harder to find, but even it isn't a very "low" bar. (When I think low bars I think the Devox, or even the 3T Mistral.) With the bars and pads mounting above the base bar, it's completely possible it won't be aggressive enough for a lot of people, especially if you aren't on a terribly low bike to start with. Buyer beware.

Just a little curve in the cable breaks up an otherwise really smooth front profile.
Also a good representation of the stack height of the pads.

- I already said the thing was slippery. Well, let me reinforce that statement, except this time in regards to "when you have gotten water/sweat/whatever" on the basebar. The actual "wing" is slick as ice, and the stock grips on the brake extensions are terribly inadequate. Also, that lack of upturns at the end of the brakes may (may) be more aerodynamic, but it further reduces your grip on the bullhorns... especially going downhill.  To combat this, I ended up removing the stock grips and re-wrapping them with my preferred (tennis) tape, and then adding some grip tape (skateboard/boat) to the back of the wing (where my palms usually end up sitting.) it's not the most elegant solution, but it's functional and I feel a lot more in control.

Solution inspired by a post on Slowtwitch. It's actually pretty functional, if not beautiful.

- Crab claw levers have always suffered from not having a return spring, causing some people to complain of "squishy" braking. I've had visions, these and the "add on" 3T levers and have never experienced any "bad" braking (on Shimano, Simkins or Omega brakes) but it does take a little more time to adjust them "just right." Also, I've seen people complain over the years that they don't like the "feel" of those kind of levers either... to each their own I suppose.

- The internal routing, while not a problem for 99% of the population, is a real annoyance for those of us who like the "reverse" (or motorcycle) brake setup. (Right hand - front brake) I know there wasn't much way around it when they were building the thing (I mean... just fishing the cable through that bar would be a nightmare.) but it was something I didn't count on and had to work around. My solution isn't elegant but it's acceptable.

My solution to the front brake cabling and a view of my cheap zip tied solution...


First... I'd think you would want to try the Ventus before laying down the cash (they are still pricey... especially if you aren't an ebay sniper.) but of course that's not an easy thing to do. Most shops don't have *NOS aerobars in the $1k price range just sitting around for you to play with... so you need to at least be reasonably sure that you are ok with the Ventus' fit constrictions. (The stem length/angle and the height of the extension/pads) or willing to gamble / resale if it doesn't work out.

It's not the everyman cockpit. It's not even the "most" guys (and gals) cockpit. It's the setup for the rider who wants one of the fastest front ends out there and is willing to sacrifice some comfort (mainly the braking area) to squeeze out every hundredth of a second. Or if you just want to add some drool worthy bling to your ride.

I guess I'm saying that the Ventus does what it was designed to do very well, with the sacrifice of some of the creature comforts we've come to expect from aero cockpits. Personally... I love it.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

Soon to come... The Rejuvenated Zipp 2001!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Training in Hoth

Set your course for the Hoth system.
Well, I guess my luck for a soft winter couldn't hold out forever. Despite wearing a t-shirt out on Sunday afternoon (58°) I awoke Monday to the sound of the side of my house being buffeted by "wintery mix." Checking my weather app I was greeted with the information that it was currently 20° and would be dropping by the hour. Sigh. I know in the grand scheme of things the small inconveniences I suffer from having to throw some salt on my driveway and running in my "screwed up" shoes instead of my normal ones is laughable in the face of some of you guys farther north (-40° no thank you.) but you came here for my thoughts... and my thoughts are... winter sucks.

So, as I head into the new year, it's time for an introspective look at what is to come leading into the "big races" of the year.


I've been pretty lax on my pool time pretty much all of 2013. It's mainly a geographical problem (that is, the pool is about a 40 minute drive from my house.) but the fact that I was NOT injured in 2013 meant I was able to run through the year and wasn't "forced" to swim 4-5x/week, which was the case in 2012. That said, for the mileage I've put into it (especially as of late) I feel like things have went better than I could have asked for. Yesterday in my 4x400m sets my best time was 5:37, which is
1:24/100. All of the sets were under 6' even on low rest... so that's mildly encouraging. The last 1k I tried was 14:48 which means I need some work on my endurance (and a little more speed) to be sniffing the 20' 1500. So... more days in the pool, more low rest "long" sets.


Riding mileage has dropped quite a bit since the bitter cold hit. I'm averaging three rides a week right now, two of them being Sufferfest classes at the LBS and the other being an interval ride at home. I'd say "maintaining" is where I'm at currently. I don't think I've put on any fitness, but I also don't think I've lost much. I've also been trying to do every ride on the tri bike to force the position adaptation. Everything is smooth sailing now. If I were a bit less of a wuss I'd suck it up and get a long ride out with some of the guys on the weekend...but I am so I'm not. FTP to 300 on the tri bike by April is still in reach.

Sufferfest class. I'm on the far left on the aerobars.


Oh running... how our love/hate relationship continues. Despite the cold draining my motivation pretty regularly and the ice making my run a bit more hazardly, I think I've been doing pretty well. I'm over 40 miles this month and feeling pretty good running "medium" (~50') runs daily. I need to get my long run back up to the 1 1/2 - 2 hour range, but volume wise I think everything is A-OK.

Speed wise I'm still floundering though. I had really expected to be under 19' in the 5k by the first of the year, and while 19:06 isn't miles away, it's tough to look back and find those six seconds. Of course my amount of speed work is VERY low, as historically I've been able to handle volume but not speed work without getting injured. Hopefully my more meticulous stretching routine will allow me to add in more speed work while staying healthy. On the plus side, I run very well off of the bike (compared to my open times...maybe from being slow in open races) so it's fairly easy to line up improvements in one to the other.

Who has to be faster this year? This guy.

The real tell in the run will be the Knoxville 1/2 Marathon this year. (March 30) I ran a 1:31:51 last year but need to be considerably faster than that this year. I'm hopeful but nervous about what we'll find out on 3/30.

Or, if you wanted the short of all that... I need to get faster and cold weather sucks.

I put in my order for a Tririg Sigma stem to put on my Zipp 2001 (forgot I had that? I almost did myself. Gotta get that bad boy modernized.) and now I've got the itch to put some Omega Brakes on it as well. Hmm. So I should have a nice review of the stem in the near future.

Well, I'm off to get my 3° run in this morning.  Hopefully you are all staying warm and getting in some good mileage.

Thanks for reading

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Joining the Mobb (and a short New Years Day 5k report)

Let's get this out of the way first thing. Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas (or whatever you celebrate. Personally I have a diverse enough collection of friends that I get to celebrate pretty much everything from Hanukkah to Festivus .) and a Happy New Year! Hopefully it was fun, inspiring and safe. (For those of you who really celebrated last night.)

For myself, I celebrated my buddy Jimmy's birthday, stopped by another friends get together, got some dinner with the missus and then turned in early so I could get up at the crack of dawn to race... so I didn't get to party it up (or even see the ball drop) but, as a wise man (or wise guy) once told me, holidays are for beginners... there will be plenty of opportunity to celebrate throughout 2014 (Especially if the year turns out how I hope it will.)

Speaking of exciting things coming up in 2014... I'm joining the Mobb. If you've been to the blog the last few days you've probably noticed the new little green emblem. Well now I'm exciting to say I'm part of the 2014 Grass Roots team. I'm really excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with these guys... John Cobb is a legend to any of us who care about aerodynamics and bike fits... heck when I was on my way to A2 to do my tunnel testing he took the time to answer some of my questions and get me prepared for the experience... that's pretty dang nice for a no doubt busy guy who wasn't getting anything out of it. Anyways, more to come in later installments when it comes to the Mobb! Check out the Facebook Page and give it a like!

Exciting stuff on the horizon! Racing for the Cobb Mobb!

Cobb Mobb Facebook Page

----------------------- New Years 5k Race Report -----------------------

As I said before, I stayed up a little later than I had planned on New Years Eve. Albeit I didn't do any drinking and basically just layed around all afternoon, but I still was out til' about 11. I got up about 5:30 and got breakfast down, stretched a bit and got ready for the morning. I wasn't in the best spirits as I had taken quite a few days off for Christmas and was feeling really worn down before that. Still, the goal of hitting sub 19 minutes is still burning bright in the back of my mind. So it's off to the (new) race venue to get my packet (actually just a shirt) and warm up.

My 5k warmup is pretty uninspiring, with an easy run with a couple of strides thrown in to get the legs turning over faster. Soon it's time to line up and I head to the front (although this race draws quite a few more speed demons than most, so not the very front here.) We hear the gun (no national anthem?) and it's time to roll.

Mile 1 - 5:50

The start is fast paced. Looking back I was running with guys (and a girl or two) that were just faster than me. I realized this at the first turnaround (circle course) as they start pulling on me, but it's a bit late.

Mile 2 - 6:20
Just trying to pace back into the race (back of the line in the ugly yellow Nike shirt)

So somewhere in the mile1-2 range I start hurting. That brings on those dark thoughts like "We aren't in great shape at the moment, no need hurting yourself." and other such "bargaining" that my mind likes to do to me when I'm in pain. As you can see from the time difference, (30"!) I start to buy in. Toward the mile2 sign I get my head straight and force myself to pace the next person in front of me. The train is back on the track!

Mile 3 - 6:03

Right. Time to get some work done. The last mile is always a bit easier for me (mentally) than the second (which is always my weakest) and I catch my second wind just in time. Eventually I see the last turn to the finish line and start laying out everything I've got. I turn and see the clock ticking... it's close but I'm not close enough to sprint out a sub 19.

Final Time - 19:06

Getting closer... my Thanksgiving 5k was 19:17, so cutting 11 seconds in a month isn't anything to be upset about. Hopefully I'm on my way to a sub 19, I'm D@#%MN tired of writing about just missing it.

I grab some coffee and a banana and jump back in the car to head home. Ohh well, happy days. Great way to spend the New Years and set a standard for the year!

Ohhh I just snagged this picture off of Jenny's phone... a call back to Christmas Parties! (and really, it's never a bad time of year to wear a Christmas Sweater)

One last time... Happy Holidays :D
Hopefully everyone is ready to meet and exceed all of your goals (both tri related and just life related) in 2014!

So, until next time... thanks so much for reading through my thoughts. I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock