Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Excitement filled weekend (short RR included)

I had a fun weekend. Some ups (actually a lot of climbing) and some downs (my power...) but overall a good time.

I guess we'll start with the Oak Ridge Velo TT.

I arrived a couple of hours early, hoping to get to see some old friends and have plenty of time to warmup. Of course, when I was packing my trainer in the car I wasn't smart enough to remember to pack the skewer. The View-Speed Aero skewers are great for a lot of things... but they are pretty useless for mounting your bike to the Kurt Kinetic. Fortunately Rebekah and Eric come to my rescue and let me borrow a skewer for a little bit. I miss don't get my perfect warmup in, but I felt like I covered the bases sufficiently. It was also 95° so being warm wasn't much of an issue.

Going in the plan was to average about 300 watts, give or take a little... or, considering the up/down terrain, at least have an NP around 300-310. Considering it was an 8 mile TT and  given my training lately that shouldn't have been too unrealistic.

heading for the start line

Seriously... I just had my oil changed.

Looking back, perhaps it was ambitious for the day. Training through the race (with a run and hard swim Friday) combined with the absolute meltdown temperatures (10° hotter than my powertap read last year... thanks 5p.m. start time) and I was probably not hitting that goal... and I didn't. 262w avg is all I could muster. Kind of disappointing from a "numbers" standpoint, but my time was podium worthy in all of the non-pro12 divisions (and good enough for a top 10 there) so I can't be terribly upset I suppose. For the second year in a row I claimed the silver in the CAT5 division... again being narrowly beaten.  I did get to wear my Greg Lemond sunglasses though... so that's a win in and of itself.

Rebekah giving me some encouragement.

Retro Modern

Sunday was a birthday ride for a rider at the local shop. She wanted to do some climbing so off to Bluff Mountain we went. We certainly started off with a heck of a group (considering the usual size of our Sunday morning ride) to head out with.

After a couple of mishaps (including a saddle coming off mid-ride) and some fairly spirited miles, we close in on the looming mountain. At this point the ride split and the vast majority headed back to the house, content with a 50 miler. Of course, being the glutton for punishment that I am... I couldn't help but point my bike towards the sky.

brave souls who love to go up. Jackie getting in the selfie!

After what seems like forever on the lonely ride up, I make it to the fire tower. I expect I'll have a couple of minutes to wait for the rest of the group to crest, so I take the time to check my facebook (priorities) and gnaw on one of my rice cakes. Tired and entertained by technology, it's not until the baby bear is only a few feet from me, having a nice hike up the side road, that I notice him.

Our eyes meet for a split second before I launch the remainder of my rice cake at him and execute a flying mount I will likely never replicate in a race. It occurs to me only as I'm bombing downhill at a pace that would whiten the knuckles of Fabian Cancellara that I missed an excellent selfie opportunity. Bombing downhill, bear in background... would have been sweet. Unfortunately I had to settle for not meeting momma bear.

The rest of the ride is fun and uneventful, followed by some good food (and maybe a drink) at Barleys. Not a bad way to spend the weekend.

On a completely unrelated note (I know, imagine that right?) I just received my long coveted new toy in the mail.

Bonus... it's a great weapon if it doesn't end up working on the bike

Yes, it's a fork. But not just A fork, it is (one of) THE forks. The Argos (branded as MDT also) steel blade aero fork. Here is a link to Argos' website (it's a bit primitive, but gets the info across) if you'd like to know more. The real question is... will the thing work on my P3alu. Well, it's made for an external bearing headset... which my P3 is not... but would I let something like that stand in my way? Of course not. It helps that I am not blazing any trails here either, as you'll see here that somebody else had the same idea.

So we've successfully seen the fork installed, now my only worry is getting the brake mounted to it (as the head tube sticks out a little farther) without any issues. My guess is a couple of spacers will do the trick, but I assume nothing when it comes to messing with bikes these days.

This weekend is the second to last sprint in the Fleet Feet series. I am a point (maybe two?) down from the lead as we stand, so I need to put in a good race Saturday. It's a very real possibility that either there won't be an update next week, or there will be a shorter one Monday or Tuesday, (Probably a race report) since I'll be heading to Milwaukee on Wednesday. If anyone reading is going... hope to see you there! I'll be on the red/white Cervelo in the Cobb Mobb gear :)

Until next time, thanks so much for reading! Stay safe out there.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Counting off the days

TL;DR - I sort through where I am in racing. If you check the blog for reviews and/or race reports, I should be back next week with a RR. If you don't want to read through my random sorting of my mind, thanks for checking the blog, see you next week.

When I started planning out this season, it began as most of my idea's usually do... a generous helping of bravado combined with impulsiveness with only the bare minimum of actual thinking or planning.

Basically what I had written down was this
- Win the local Fleet Feet series points championship (sprints)
- AG Nationals (Qualify for worlds with a good day)
- Aquabike Nationals (Podium)
- Profit

Of course that was at the end of last year.

Most people (myself included) consider a year a long time in the abstract... that is, looking forward from today a year seems far off. Unfortunately (for me) when it comes to becoming faster in racing a year is not that long... especially when multiple sports need to be improved fairly substantially.

The next step I went through was all consuming despair. I was already locked in to the races, but not where I needed to be in the numbers department. Oh sure, I'm fit. Hell I've been fit for years. But Fit =/= Fast. Turning in a 2:25 at Rev3 Knoxville didn't do anything to re-establish my hopes, bad day or no. Most of my other races haven't been noticeably faster than 2013, although I'll be the first to say trying to compare two days a year apart is both maddening and fruitless when it comes to discerning truly accurate information.  My training has been promising and my run at the Knoxville 1/2 marathon was a step forward (pun intended) but nonetheless... both my run and my swim are still much farther away from where I had secretly harbored hope for them being at this point in the year.  My bike is still sitting at about a 4.3w/kg ftp (possibly as high as 4.5 as I've lost a bit of weight in the last few weeks and have been putting in a bit more t.i.t.s.) which is respectable but certainly not strong enough to make up for my swim or (most damning) my run.

Which leads to the step I'm at right now... acceptance. Not complacency mind you, never that... I doubt I'll ever be complacent when it comes to my racing... but an acceptance that I've put in the time I was able to put in (or that I thought I was able to put in) and followed my plan as closely as possible (I think I missed one day I had planned over the last 6 months, and it was while I was on vacation.) and now all that I can do is finish these last couple of weeks, get a good taper and race the absolute best I can on the morning of.

Will it be enough? The realist in me points to a resounding no. I think on paper even on a good day I'm still a couple of minutes off being fast enough for a top 18 (or likely even top 25) ag finish. That probably goes for the Sprint on Sunday as well. (I'm doing both races)

Regardless, I'll be enjoying my weekend. My new goal is to PR the Olympic distance and let all the things I have no control over fall where they may. I don't mind getting crushed, so long as I know I didn't leave anything on the table.

All in all I'm happy with how my training is developing. Something about how long it took to build Rome comes to mind. I'm still moving towards my larger goals, steadily. So long as my health holds up things should be fine.

Saturday is the Oak Ridge Velo TT. I won't be doing the full Omnium this year as I feel the crit is a little more risk than reward this close to some bigger races, and the road race... well I just wasn't looking forward to it the same way I was the TT, and since they're on the same day I decided to focus on those 7 miles this year.

Warming up last year... hoping to crush my time this year.

Next week I should have a short report on the TT, and maybe a review... I've got a review in mind, but need to get the time to finish (err...start) it.  There's also some interesting stuff going on in my garage, but at the risk of it being a disappointment, I think I'll wait on sharing it.

If you suffered through all of the above, Kudos! You deserve a picture of a cat trying to be Godzilla.

Aaaaaahnnnnnnaaahhhhhggggg!!!! Or whatever sound Godzilla makes.
Thanks so much for reading (or at least looking at the Godzilla cat.)

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

6 Years of Triathlon (a race report)

Saturday was that time of year again. My Triathlon Anniversary. This is the 6th time I've gotten my feet wet at the West Side YMCA triathlon, the first race I ever did. It's a super sprint (200y, 12k, 4k) and a small race usually, but nonetheless it holds a very special place for me. This year it had another reason to be special. Jimmy had finally caught the bug and decided to try a triathlon, so it would be his first as well. His goal... have the fastest bike split.

Nothing like some friendly competition!

On to the Report!


I get up pretty early and have a cup of "Olympic Gold" Granola (Kristin Armstrongs breakfast) and wash it down liberally with espresso. I shower and pack up and as soon as the beautiful support crew arrives we're off to the venue.

Jenny giving me some last minute advice... like "don't suck."

I get a pretty good position in transition and get marked. The run course had been changed this year so I spend a little extra time acquainting myself with the new route and making sure I'm aware of any surprises (as some of the course was off road) that might be awaiting. Then it's back to get a lap of the bike course in and again make sure nothing nasty is on course. Finally, as I've been unable to swim all week (pools closed... which is a lot funnier if you're internet meme savvy.) I got in a "long" warmup in the pool as time for the start drew near. (Long being about 500y, which is long only if you consider the swim is only 200y.)

Then it's good lucks and see you soon's to the family and Jenny, and a last well wishes to Jimmy who was seeded quite a ways back (he's not a swimmer.) I seed myself about 10 people back and prepare for the redlining to come.

Swim: 2:58 (19th place)

Don't judge me.
My swim was terribly unexciting and blessedly quick. In a sprint with a swim as short as this one, that's exactly what I was hoping for. I knew I was going to be a couple of places down coming out of the water, but was fairly confident my bike would shore up most of the difference... other than Nick (the eventual winner) who I knew would be tough to catch from the start, as he's a fairly "complete" triathlete and a good swimmer.

Before I have time to consider most of that however, the swim is over! I crawl up the ladder and it's time for transitions!

T1: 1:11

Look at that handsome devil with those razor sharp tan lines.

This is the nastiest transition ever. The entire way to (and in) transition is loose gravel and broken pavement. Fortunately I practice walking on hot coals, so it's no big deal for me. I take the jaunt down to the bikes, get my helmet on and head for the line. I've been practicing my flying squirrel but I'm still not positive I can nail it 100% of the time... so I take a step over as opposed to a full jump. Cost some seconds but likely saved some skin.

Bike: 17:54 (4th place)

That doesn't look chrome at all...  stupid Kask.

This bike course is very rewarding to those who are familiar with it. There are two turns in particular that can be taken very fast only if you know them, otherwise you'll slow quite a bit thinking they are tighter than they are. I was actually down a couple of watts from last year, but faster, mainly due to not as much braking on said turns.

Jimmy had said he wanted the fastest bike split, so I was willing to dig a little extra to try and deny him of it. (what are friend's for) Overall, the bike went great for me, with a short delay behind a van (we were in a subdivision) and nearly crashing coming back towards t2 (the race turns left up a big hill to go out into the subdivision, but also turns left coming back toward transition... which can cause some awkward moments when somebody like me comes barreling into that corner expecting to take the turn at full speed. It's the one complain I have about the race... but I'm unsure how to solve it.)

Alas, I was indeed beaten by Jimmy (who got the fastest split) and two others. I kept the losses down though... within 30 seconds of the fastest split, so I was happy.

T2: 0:37

Stupid belt! Being cheered on by the Village People. 

After the near run in (literally) turning back towards transition, I had shaved enough speed that hopping off my bike uphill would be tough, so I took the wuss' way out and gingerly stopped and stepped off. Again... slow... but dignity salvaging. As I ran into transition and yanked my helmet off I slung the face shield off and into the endless rows of "stuff." I look for a few seconds but can't find it so shrug it off. As I get to my rack (actually past it since I was looking for a rack with a space at the end) I realize Nick has nagged my corner spot. (For which he apologized more than once after the race, even offering to take a penalty for it. Stand up guy, but no need to get worked up  in a little race like this.) I get the Cannondale lodged in the triangle made by the top of the rack, grab my number belt and visor and head out on the run.

Run: 16:01 (6th place)

Go ahead, take a second to let how much clashing is going on with what I'm wearing to settle in.

Immediately coming out of transition I hear Rebekah (dressed as the construction worker from the Village People. YMCA...get it?) giving me a little update as to where I am... two ahead of me. Ut Oh...

Being a short 4k with some off road segments, I'm not sure if I can chase anyone down (heck... I'm not sure I can chase anyone down on a good day) but I am hungry for a good placing at this race. At a little under the first mile marker I see somebody on the horizon. It turns out to be Mike (a local Fleet Feet guy who is a VERY good swimmer and very consistent racer.) who is in a little bit of duress. I see him slow to get a couple of deep breathes and know I've got him. I make the pass and the water station lets me know there is only one guy ahead of me but that he has a good lead. Being a time trial start that can mean a lot of things... but I try to muster up what gas I've got left and finish strong.

I make it across the line leaving what I've got on the grass, then collapse in tiredness. Sprinting is hard.

Total: 38:38 (2nd Place)

I get a kiss (woohoo!) and congratulations and then make the trek back to transition to find my face shield and see if my bike is still holding up. After that I take a quick shower (forgot a towel...doh) and come back to cheer on the others. I find Jimmy and he is all smiles (You can read about his thoughts on the race here on his blog) as usual. Then it's sit around and wait, watching lots of my friends get called up for their awards (including Jimmy, who was second in his AG in his first tri!) and then finally coming out with second place overall.

The Greatest awards picture shirt ever.

6 years later, I'm still having just as much (maybe more) fun as when I started. Hopefully I can keep the trend up for another 6 (and many more) years!

Jimmy and myself posing

And that was the gist of it.

Thank you guys for reading, I really appreciate it! I've got this next week off to take a little easy, then it's the Oak Ridge Velo TT the next week, the Springbrook Sprint the first weekend of August (gotta keep getting those points) and then it's off to Milwaukee for Nationals. I signed up for the Sprint on Sunday, so I'll be racing back to back days... hoping for a miracle.

Until next week! Stay safe, we've had enough bad luck in the tour this year for all of us.

- Christopher Morelock


Check out the new and improved VFlow Plus 2 here! (Works with the rear hydration mount as well)

The magic floating in space saddle! Ooohhh, ahhh!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It wasn't a race...really...

Plenty of exciting stuff is going on, so as usual this is going to be a little all over the place! Bear with me!

So the Tour is in full swing. Some exciting racing has already took place, and unfortunately if you're like me... some tragedy. Cav's wreck on day 1 removed him from the tour and opened the door for Dolph Lundgren Marcel Kittel to rack up stage wins most likely uncontested. I've got some backup hope reserved for Renshaw, but I admit it's a dim light. I just can't get behind any of the other sprinters... I dunno Cavendish has always been my sprinter, so disappointment from the start for me.

Fastest man in the peloton!

Next on the list of things to get to... some of the new designs on the Cobb T's. Sure sure you can wear your Ironman finisher (or sprint finisher...whatever) technical tee before/after the race... or you can get a few double takes (and probably a laugh or two) with one of these. Here's my personal favorite...

You just sorta need to be able to back it up ;)
Heh... should have went for the full monty and just spelled out A** in my opinion. But oh well.

As for the not a race race report...

It wasn't a race, it was just a fun ride. Except there was a KoM jersey for the first person up Butterfly gap... halfway through the ride. So it was kind of a race. Sort of... but not really. Unless you were in the first group... in which case it was definitely a race. I think. Maybe... but not.

Here we are waiting to get the show on the road (and beat the heat)

Far left black and blue Cycology Bicycles kit. The hulking guy to my right in the same kit is Jimmy. 

The only real "team" in the area is Knoxvelo (you can see the red/white kits peeking in and out in the picture) and they were the only guys there in force for the 100 miler. I had 100% pure intentions going into the ride to A.) Have fun and B.) Ride with the "A" group to the climb. Jimmy was a little more serious about it the night before and the morning and by the time they called for everyone to start getting ready to go I had lapsed into full on "race" mentality. Jenny would later shake her head and say under her breath "boys..." I guess that explains it.

Heading out of town... in the best place for staying out of trouble.
We get the go and I'm immediately ready to get to the front and lead out of town. I've said it before and I stand by it... the first couple of miles of a big charity ride are DANGEROUS. Give me a Cat5 crit any day.

I'd go into a little more recap from the first 40 or so miles but honestly... there's not much of interest. I sat in once the "A" group was established and poor Jimmy did the lion's share of the work. Unfortunately there were a significant number of Knoxvelo boys in the group and they were unwilling to let any funny business (that is, getting away early for an "easy" win) go on, so it was just a matter of putting in the miles.

As we closed in on Butterfly we started getting organized (that is to say I dragged myself up front to talk to Jimmy) and discussed how I felt. Honestly I felt pretty good (so no excuses for what's to come.) so we started some back/forth attacking on the group. Everything got pulled in pretty quick but we caught some people off guard. As we turned down the road for the climb I made my move. Unfortunately the rest of the group wasn't full of slouches and they were all experienced enough guys to not let me make a gap. Then it was just a matter of who was strongest.

I'm a pretty good climber. That said, the kind of climbs I excel at are steady grade long grinds... you know, basically a inclined time trial (imagine that) but that's not what the gap is like. It pitches and levels, pitches and levels... the kind of climb you need good steady power AND a strong kick.

I got crushed.

Once I saw I wasn't in the league with the real climbers in the group I backed off, managing to come over the line in decent shape but far from the winner.

Crossing the KOM line after a disappointing showing on a tough climb.

Such is life on a bike.

I feel like I'm going to get a good chance to recover (it's not like the climbing is over...) and catch back up to the guys in front of me on the little bit of downhill following. Of course it's the perfect time to drop my chain!
My front derailleur stop screws had backed out from all the rough roads we'd been on! That's pretty intense!

I get things adequately "rigged" back up and try to keep as much grease off of me as possible (yeah...) and then find myself in no-man's land. I ride to the next aid station and find that I'm all alone. That's one thing you learn early in bike riding/racing... if you can't hang, nobody is going to wait for you. (Nor should they)

Fortunately... it's not a race.

I wait around, drink some extra Gatorade and find some other stragglers coming in. We form up a good group and head off for the last 50 or so miles.

Nothing much important from that point on, just what it always should have been, a fun long ride. I don't think I've ever been quite so ready to get back to Barley's and have a drink though. (Hard Cider...YEAH!)

So next year... I'm going to go into this "not race" in better shape. 150lbs is still a bit too heavy for this kind of climbing. I think at the same power with 10-15lbs lighter I'd have crushed it. But it wasn't a race, so no big deal. :) Right?

This weekend is my anniversary tri race, the West Side Y. It's short and painful, and I'm excited to be able to do it again. Of course Nationals is closing in, where I can go and really get my butt handed to me. I would say I'm just going to have fun...but yeah... we all know how that goes.  I'm going to have fun doing the best I can and hopefully do a little bike split crushing at least.

One step at a time.

Thanks everyone for reading. I as always appreciate it.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Achievement Unlocked - 100 Posts

Who would have thought that 100 posts later I'd still be doing this. Kind of hard to believe that this blog has turned out as well (in my opinion... it's possible I've got low expectations though...) as it has. I can only hope that if you've read through a good portion of the posts that you've found something useful, insightful or at the very least humorous out of my ongoing saga. This blog has certainly helped me, if only to give me an outlet for reviewing my own accomplishments (however meager) and failures. (however astounding) It's also given me a chance to do something I enjoy, which is write, despite the fact that my High School English teacher would say I'm fairly lousy at it. (Too many parenthesis and Ellipsis...)

The most exciting time of the year in sports is also upon us. It's the one month out of twelve that I get to reverse the roles most of my friends enjoy and spout off stats and wins that nobody else has any clue about. That's right... tour time.

The most important questions must still be answered... like "What Stem is that?"

I'm excited about this year's tour... I think there is at least a small chance that we have an interesting race for yellow. I could be totally off of course and Sky could continue it's overwhelming dominance, but I suspect that at least Saxo will try to make things interesting. And of course there is my secret guilty pleasure of rooting for Cavendish to rack up stage wins.

I also have some small hope that every other word won't  be about doping this year. Unfortunately after Froome's TUE and Kreuziger's current woes that seems like a pretty vain hope. I want to believe we've turned a corner in cycling... but I'm afraid I just don't. But of course this blog doesn't want to get that serious, so let's just pretend that all is right.

Rainbows and Unicorns farting Sunshine!! All is happy in the world!

As for life in the realm of mortals (that this Saturday is the Tour de Rocky Top 100 miler, again featuring the miserable challenging Cat2 climb up Butterfly Gap. While I'm an ok climber, I certainly wouldn't say I enjoy it... but nonetheless I'll be making my way to the top once more this year, hopefully without adding on a couple of miles. (we got lost last year and ended up with around 110 miles.) If I were in a little bit better shape I'd consider racing to the top for the climber's jersey, but I will have to be satisfied with just making it up to the top. :)

Last year it took about 6:45 to be done (of course there was some wandering and slow riding, and the extra miles) and I'd like to be done in under 6 at the absolute max.

Last year's route... a little different, but all the important parts are still there :)

So, happy 4th of July to everyone. Have fun, blow stuff up, eat and most importantly be safe! Enjoy the start of the Tour on Saturday and give me a thought and little mental push to get me to the top!

Thanks so much for being a part of all 100 posts! Here's hoping to hundreds more :) Without seeing the views this blog gets there's no way I would have stuck with it... so thanks to you all even if you're just a silent face behind a keyboard!

- Christopher Morelock