Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Hangover

What a wild holiday's it has been. Surviving two Christmas gatherings feasts on the same day was brutal, especially when everyone wants you to try something they made "just for you." Add to that the eggnog and cookies (yes...we baked cookies) and you have a recipe for a food hangover I'm still not recovered from.

I took last week off from training, and currently I'm still not back on the bike due to the recall/replacement on the Computrainer's flywheel. Long story short, if you have a blue flywheel on your CT, get in touch with Racermate and get them to send you the replacement... or you risk bodily harm. Check out the Slowtwitch Thread for more. Anyways, the time off (which has been great by the way) has given me some time to get some new projects up and running, as well as putting some of my Christmas gifts to use!

My absolute favorite gift was something the missus got for me, an indulgence I would have never bought for myself no matter how awesome I thought it was.

Can a tool be art? Silca makes a good case for it...

Let me just say, these things are the bomb. My go to Allen's have long been Bondhus, which I consider very top end. I've used a friend's PB Swiss wrenches before and although I was impressed, I didn't see the need to upgrade. These things fit that same niche for me. Initially, Too Good to Use syndrome set in and I kind of didn't even want to risk marring the beauty that Silca has produced... then reality slapped me (and a need to use said wrenches) and I gave them a go. It's hard to make praise for a tool... it's either sufficient for the job or it isn't. These are. Not only that, but they were still in near perfect shape after being put through some paces. Does that keep the bolt head's from stripping out longer? I assume it should, and that's what Silca claims, so awesome! Now that I have them, looking at some of my cheaper lower end key's is almost embarrassing. Snob points +10, thanks dear!

But what good are tools without something to work on. My present to myself (from selling my mountain bike and my Felt frame.) arrived and was in need of a few good wrenches!

It's been a Raleigh long time since I owned a bike of this brand... (badabump)

I came out very happy with this bike. The previous owner had certainly got some use out of it, but I got it at a price I figured I couldn't go too wrong with. The groupset was changed out (by the last owner) to Ultegra 10 speed (which was perfect for me) and the rest of the bike built up with that mix and some of the stock parts. The wheels are pretty unimpressive clinchers (although with Dura Ace hubs) with some decent rubber... although I hope to build a set of tubulars for racing... but they will do fine as training wheels I learn the ropes on. I swapped out the rings for a Wickwerks single 42t, and ran my old Nokon cables on it just to look cool.  I've had it out on one muddy ride already, and I'm hoping to get a few more in before the weather turns dramatically nastier in Tennessee. (Although some might argue that's the only time a cross bike is worth riding...)

As my last little bit of news for the end of the year, I upgraded to Cat 4 on the road... something everyone tells me I should have done a long time ago, but that I have been hesitant to do. We'll see what kind of winds of change this brings for my racing in 2016. At least I'll have plenty of teammates with me finally.

So, one more holiday party (today actually) and I'm done. Back on the bike on the 1st of the year... and I'm feeling ready to be there. More to come in 2016!

Thanks for reading and have a great (and safe) New Year!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like... well you know.

Christmas (or whatever winter solstice style holiday you choose to observe) is a little over a week away. For those of you who procrastinate and still insist on doing your shopping in brick and mortar stores... I pity you. Myself, I'm done with all my shopping (thanks Amazon!) and am only awaiting delivery of a few small things at this point.

For myself... I couldn't resist. I pulled the trigger on a cyclocross bike. I ended up with a 2015 Raleigh RX 1.0 with an Ultegra drivetrain. I plan on turning it into a 1x build, but we'll see.

I dig it... at least for now
I really like the paint scheme on this bike, along with the kit. I am timid of disc brakes and in my "get off my lawn" mindset wanted to stay in my comfort zone with a Shimano drivetrain. Most of the "entry" level cross bikes I found slapped you with 9spd Sora, which although I don't hate doesn't really excite me. This bike has been used (probably pretty well) but that doesn't bother me in the least so long as everything is serviceable. I also stayed within my budget (of the $ I got for my mountain bike and S32 frame) so Jenny will hopefully not murder me in my sleep. Of course, I immediately want to build some wheels for it... which is not how you stay in budget... but I can dream...

It's been a bittersweet month for me in some ways. There are some new opportunities I'm very excited about coming up next year, but along with them some obligations (more on all that at a later time) which required a split from my long time coach and friend David.  After 5 years of working together week in and week out, it was tough on me, like the "end" of any solid relationship would be. I know (and David agreed) it would likely be good for me, but nonetheless, change is difficult. I'm doing a couple of workouts this week and maybe a few before Christmas and then taking a week or two off to let the batteries recharge.

Speaking of training, Zwift released a custom workout designer in their "workout mode." Something that has been begged for since workout mode was released. With my free time in training I have just now started playing around with this new editor and I like it quite a bit. Paired with my computrainer it takes a lot of the mental aspect out of my training... I just plug in and push whatever watts the computrainer adjusts to.  After I've had a little more time working with it I'd like to give a little more in-depth review of Zwift now that it's out of beta.

Anyways, probably no post next week, if there is it will be short and sweet. (and showing off goodies possibly) So most likely the next update will be a bit before the first of the year.

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it! Happy whatever you celebrate!

looking fly (is that still what the kids say?) at a group ride

- Christopher Morelock

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A year in review

It feels like the entire year has flown by in overdrive. As we start closing in on the last few days of 2015, a little reflection is in order.

2015 started in a pretty dark place. I was still in the midst of trying to recover from my OTS, hoping that I would be able to compete again. I knew that my goals for the year would have to be modified and brought back to things more attainable for someone basically starting over. (maybe that's a bit melodramatic and exaggerated, but bear with me) so for starters, just getting some time in the saddle was enough to make me happy.

My first "race" was a small Time Trial. I finished at the bottom of my category, and struggled to stay down in the aero position for even a decent portion of it. Man, to think I used to ride like that for hours, right? Nonetheless, it went about as well as I could hope, and gave me some faith that I was making a move in the right direction.

Hanging out after the return to TTing with my moppy hair

I stayed pretty secluded through the first and middle of the year, logging almost all of my miles on the trainer. It is here that Zwift really saved my sanity. Grinding with people I had never met in real life, even at embarrassingly low watts somehow felt a  little easier than with those who know me.

I went back and forth on whether or not to do a triathlon in 2015. In the end I decided I did not want to miss the West Side YMCA Tri, which I've done every year since starting triathlon. I had been biking an adequate amount at that point and figured the swim and the run were both short enough I could kind of "fake it" through them. It turned out to be a so-so choice... I actually had a better than expected swim considering my 2015 total of yards is, as of Dec. 9th, 200 yards. (All from that race) My run was painful however, and I payed for not running over a couple of miles before race day. For some reason, deep down I had kind of harbored hope that I was somehow going to be "pretty fit" still, despite training logs pointing to the obvious. In the end, I am glad I did it but not overly excited with it.

hoping not to drown

Redoubling my focus on cycling I actually ended up in fair shape by the time the Oak Ridge Velo omnium rolled around. I didn't quite have the motor built to stay with "the move" in the road race and ended up finishing with the pack a couple of minutes down. I managed to reclaim some of my TT'ing ability and finished 3rd, giving me a chance at scoring on the omnium podium. I gambled pretty hard in the crit, hoping that an early attack might give me an edge, or at least break the pack. It didn't and I very nearly payed for the effort when I dropped back and nearly fell off the group. I recovered and managed to put myself in the third spot by the bell lap. An attack by Matt on the last U turn won him the race as he was just stronger than everyone else in the field, but I managed to stay tucked and sprint my way to silver on the final straightaway. 2nd in the State Championship (even Cat5) is not the worst result for a comeback.

Trying to look pro. "trying"

Since then I've been mostly low key. Doing a couple of training rides out in the public again, not quite so embarrassed to show my face. While 2015 was not my ideal year, it has been a year that I feel I have grown considerably as an athlete. I have a much broader scope of things to help grow as an athlete in the future. I am excited for what next year holds. I plan to be a faster, stronger and most importantly, healthier athlete in the future.

So that's my little recap of the season. Three whole races. Nonetheless, I'd classify it a success.

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Off road ideas (again?)

I've got the Cyclocross bug. I know what you're thinking, the season is almost over... but I still have the bug. I've been watching some cross the last little bit and it just looks like too much friggin fun for me to be missing out.

The 4's and 5's about to start... with me on the sidelines! :(

Those who have kept up with the blog for a while may remember I thought something similar about mountain biking a few years gone by... and I am decidedly NOT a fan of mountain biking. So, what's the difference... well, hopefully the fact that, for the most part, I'm on a road bike, not a mountain bike. Drop bars and all of that.

Here is a cool little video from Provision's Drew Bailey.

So yeah... I'm kind of sort of on the prowl for a cx ride now. Hopefully I'll absolutely love it and it won't become a wall ornament like my poor 29er.

Anyways, some big news and changes are on the horizon, but I'm not quite ready to announce them. Hopefully within the next week or two.

Until then, hopefully you didn't eat too much for Thanksgiving and are enjoying winding down the year!

Thanks so much for reading!
-Christopher Morelock