Monday, October 9, 2017

Page Update - Format Change

Hello all,

I didn't want to leave everyone in the dark when a post didn't show up on Wednesday, but this will be just a short update on what's happening.

I started this blog in late 2012, and since then, minus a couple of weeks where I was on vacation / etc I've steadily posted weekly. For the most part, it began as a fun side project for me to get some of my thoughts down. Seemingly on it's own and through feedback from you guys (both in comment and from analytics) the blog became more focused on reviews and how to's, along with a couple of race reports and the intervening weeks being mostly "filler." As I've started racing less and less (moving from Triathlon, to cycling and now almost totally to "only" time trialing) there has been more and more "filler" and a couple of people have let me know that the blog's quality has dropped. (Not that it was a bar of excellence at any point in it's life) Looking back over the last few months with as impartial an eye as I can have, I tend to agree. 

So, like many things in life, it's necessary to adapt and change or become completely irrelevant and disappear entirely. I still enjoy writing and most of the things to do with this blog, so I'm not quite ready to hang up my quill just yet. Nonetheless, it's time for a change.

The new format of the blog will focus on what it seems the viewer wants to see. More reviews, how to's, a couple of race reports and only the most infrequent "what's going on in life." Fair enough. 

What that means
- Less frequent posts overall. The blog will no longer be weekly, maybe not even bi-weekly. From this point forward I'll do my best to post links on Twitter (hey, follow me and I'll follow you back!) when a new one is up.

- Large focus on Reviews and How To's. Keep in mind that my reviews are almost always from things I've purchased with my own hard earned money. (Or ill gotten gains...whatever) So, unless you see a big disclaimer at the very top of the review, you'll know I wasn't paid/given the item to review, and I try to be "practical" about my reviews and just say "I don't know" if I don't know. The how to's will stay primarily bike related, but something else might pop up from time to time.

- Hopefully more quality despite less quantity. It's my hope that with more time to spend on fewer posts the quality of what gets put out will be much higher. This is where feedback helps me out!

So, that's the plan. Thanks everybody who has stuck with the blog over the last xxxx amount of time. I really appreciate it! 

Until next time

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nostalgia Race Report: IM Augusta 2011

So as Facebook often does, it reminded me that it was six years ago that I did my first half Ironman race in sunny Augusta. I had filed a race report on Beginnertriathlete at the time, and I got a little bit nostalgic. Not nostalgic enough to want to do another triathlon, but nonetheless, looking back at what I felt and wrote at the time was good for me, and I thought I'd share! I'll add my commentary in italics where I feel I need to reflect.

Pre Race
First let me put in my shout outs. All kinds of people deserve thanks, Bryan, Trigal, TriAya, Rudedog, Trix, Lockout, Shane, all the people who have been in my mentor groups, anyone who has answered any of my stupid questions... It would take a whole page to thank all you guys on BT and ST. Beyond that my LBS Cycology bicycles and my fitter Eddie Sloan, who's worked with me for countless hours on my position. 
Also my best friend Wes who has to listen to me talk about triathlon 24/7. 

David, who's not just the only man I've ever met paler than I am, but also a fantastic coach and friend who has to listen to me whine. 

Finally, my family, especially my mom, who doubles duty as moral support, mechanic, Medic, cook, driver, etc. Anyways, that's enough of the gushy stuff, on to the meat and potatoes. 

Getting to Augusta has been a bit challenging. My first two "A" races this year have been pretty disastrous as DNF's (Flatting out at Rev3 Knx and going off course at Amica 19.7) so I was a bit hungry to show I could perform. A week or so ago, I got a little overzealous on my run and ended up doing "something" to my back/butt/left leg. It basically put me to a super easy taper and quite a bit of doubt as to how I was going to hold up on race day. My goals were set up like this 
worst case scenario - finish (I really wanted to avoid a DNF
meh day - 5:05 or better 
happy day - sub 5:00 
good day - 4:52 
great day - anything below that 

I arrived in town midday Friday to our hotel in Aiken. After we dropped off the essentials it was a quick drive over to Augusta Marriot to get signed in, then to scope out swim start and transition. I ended up walking (in sandals no less) quite a bit farther than I expected to / should have. Most of the day Saturday I spent laying around besides setting up transition and driving the bike course. My grandparents and dad arrived later in the afternoon, and while my family went out for the night I walked across the street to Applebees, had dinner and went to bed early. (About 7pm)


woah, already some people I have fallen out of touch with that I miss. Actually the mid-2000's BT forum folks in general were all pretty great. You can see I sucked at taper's from the beginning.

I look so small in this picture!


Warmup
I got up Sunday at 3:15a.m. took a shower, had breakfast and coffee, took care of the essentials and got the rest of the car packed up. I was feeling pretty good overall, my ankles were a bit sore from walking around in sandals Friday, but no big deal. I set up the rest of Transition, jumped the bus to swim start, and waited around there until they started calling for my wave (wave5, second half of men 25-29) Jumped in the water, and had to make an effort to stay behind the start buoys. It began raining while we were waiting to start, but just sprinkled and had stopped before I got out of the water.

Perfect stuff, spend all day the day before the race on your feet... 

Swim
The announcer said the current was not nearly as fast as it was last year, but I dunno, it seemed like it was certainly moving to me. I started at the front of this wave, and got melee'd back to my "ideal" spot. I've found this a better solution than starting back too far and having to battle people kicking. I quickly found some feet and had a very uneventful swim... every minute or so I'd stick my head up to make sure we were on course, but honestly it would have been very tough to get off course. It did seem like we were pretty close to the shore (too close for the fastest part of the current) but I decided it was better just to sit and draft than it was to break out on my own. About 1k to the swim exit we ran into some very thick "seaweed" (whatever you call it in a river) which was a bit gross, but no big deal (or so I thought

I was looking at 35min going in, so when I saw 27' on my watch I knew it was going to be a good day.

You could throw a potato chip bag in the swim start at Augusta and expect it to do close to a 35' swim, so my 27' was certainly not impressive in the least. I didn't drown though.

T1
The run up the ramp and into transition was extremely long. (the entire length of the transition area) and I had to dodge the wetsuit stripper pile up. I had cut about 1.5" off the legs of my wetsuit prior to the race and it made a huge difference getting it off fast, I highly suggest it! As I'm pulling my left leg out my calf cramps!! OUCH. I shake it off fast and keep moving. Helmet on sunglasses on Out the door. Had to dodge a few people all over the course, but finally got into my shoes and down to business, calf being a PITA all the way.

I actually still acutely remember the pain in my calf. I've never experienced the same kind of pain before or after, and I hope I never do again.

Out of transition! No flying squirrel though

Bike
This was the first time my bike ride has ever been a "controlled" thing. Generally I just ride...hard. The goal at Augusta was to stay in the neighborhood of 200watts, and around 270-300 for the climbs. The first 10 miles or so this was very easy as I was fighting with my calf cramp along with the miles of people lined up. I spent this time making sure I was getting my calories in and massaging my leg. Eventually the crowds started thinning and my calf gave me some relief. Any time my watts climbed over 230w I would sit up on the bullhorns, just to stretch / grab a drink. The rest of the time I spent in Aero. 
At about mile 15 I was having a new issue. Severe pain in my crotch. I tried to push through it, but it was not subsiding and I was becoming quite worried. Finally I sat up on a downhill and reached down to see what the issue was. I pull my hand out with a fist full of that stupid seaweed! WTF! I try to wash my junk with my water bottle and clean up the situation. I got enough of it to make life tolerable the rest of the ride. 

I was hoping for a 2:33 and ended up with a 2:27, and never felt like I left my comfort zone doing it, so I would call it a good day. 
Avg. Watts: 191 
Max. Watts: 532 
NP: 206

Ahh yes, seaweed crotch. One of my finer moments. Not a particularly impressive bike ride, from the max watts you can see I followed the plan of "around 270-300 on the climbs" almost perfectly... It would take me another 6-7 years to figure out how you pay for stuff like that. Still, it wasn't a terrible bike for the fitness I had at the time.

Man, the Planet X... I miss that bike


T2
Coming into T2 crossed some covered train tracks and otherwise rough pavement. I was about to swing my leg over the saddle when I remembered my cramps earlier in the day... I came to a full stop and stepped over, losing a second or two but saving my dignity. (What there is of it to save that is

Otherwise T2 was pretty uneventful. Again, I did have to run the entire length of transition to get out. (same as the swim but reversed)

Well, common sense seemingly did play a part in my early triathlon career. 

Run
And here we were. 13 miles to the finish, two hours to beat my goal of sub 5. I come out of the gates just a bit hot (pun intended) but quickly slow down to a more tolerable 7:3x pace. The first three miles go pretty well and I am feeling fairly comfortable. Then, like a scene from a movie, the sky parts (it had been fairly overcast all day) and the sun beams down in all its glorious suffering. The heat pretty much skyrockets into the 90's and I immediately feel it. The aid stations on the run were also not exactly a mile apart, so after I miss getting a drink at mile 3 (I was throwing water on myself as opposed to down my throat) I can feel myself burning out. At 4.5 or so I can feel my left leg throbbing a bit in the back area, so I decide to stop and stretch it out. TERRIBLE idea, as soon as I stop and lift my left leg my calf balls up on itself and very nearly puts me on the ground. I get that worked out and decide that stopping is a bad idea in general. New plan - Walk every aid station and make sure to get 1 coke and 1 water (plus as much Ice as I can pack onto myself / under my hat) At one point I have 5 sponges shoved in my tri suit. At mile 8 I start feeling considerably better, but continue to walk through the aid stations. I see that I can very nearly walk the last 3 miles and still beat 4:52, but press on. I do take some extra time at the last aid station to "clean myself up" (Zip up my jersey, remove the sponges, clean coke off my face) and try to make myself look presentable at the finish line. I come into the finish with a last surge and stop my watch (after pictures of course) at 4:46ish... I'm pretty ecstatic as you can imagine! 

Planned Run was 1:40 and I came in at 1:44. With some of the small issues I had leading up to and during the race I can't say I'm unhappy with it, but I can't help but think if I had had a good run today I would almost certainly have been going to Vegas. 

Run splits per mile 
1.) 7:23 
2.) 7:43 
3.) 7:07 
4.) 8:14 (started walking aid stations
5.) 8:21 
6 & 7.) 16:28 
8.) 8:01 
9.) 8:03 
10.) 8:21 
11.) 7:47 
12.) 8:47 
13.) 8:18

Considering my open 1/2 marathon PB was 1:29:55 this is slightly less embarrassing than it first looks. Not an excellent 1/2IM Run, but better than any I managed after it. (Sadly)
Also, even though at the time 1/2IMWC was not well loved (Clearwater was hated and nobody was quite sure about Vegas) I wasn't anywhere near qualifying.

The heat was on. In those awesome Adidas Adios

Post Race
I quickly got checked out in medical (they shipped me over there despite me telling them I just "LOOKED" like crap. The medics seemed to agree and quickly got rid of me) Next it was over to the recovery area, where I graciously accepted a Bud Light, well deserved IMO. Next I found the family and we watched some more of the race, then walked across the street to BEEMIES (sp?) bar/restaurant and had lunch (Great food btw

Post race binge - 
- 1 order onion rings 
- 2 order french fries 
- 1 crab cake 
- 1 appetizer fried calamari 
- Appetizer platter dinner (Shrimp, Chicken fingers, Fried Fish, Oysters
- 1 Bowl Ice cream 
- 2 Pitcher Water 

I also waited around at the rolldown, but being only 2 slots in my AG and me being 13th I knew there wasn't much hope. Nonetheless it rolled down about 6 people... enough that it would have been mine with a 1:36 or so run... well within my fitness on a flat course :/ Oh well.

Disgusting... Bud Light? I really was young and stupid. That Beemies bar was pretty awesome though, if it's still there I highly recommend. 
Mehh... knocking 8 minutes off my run at that time (or any time since) was a little delusional. Looking back, I don't know that I could have knocked 4 minutes off with a perfect day. Still, that's part of youth!

Am I ok?


Augusta was a race I still fondly look back on. I went back the next year and came away 13 minutes slower, falling prey to some foolish mistakes and being impatient in both lead up and execution. Somewhat sadly looking back I never did another 70.3, and I think it was a distance I could have been pretty good at with enough time and work. Priorities shift and now that I'm pretty much a dedicated TTer it's not something I can jump back into easily. Maybe in a few years when things settle down a bit once more I can dedicate myself back to training to be mediocre at three sports instead of one. Anyways, thanks for giving me something to write about this week Facebook!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Entertaining week!

This last week has been extremely solid if you are a fan of cycling.  Sunweb put a real stamp of authority taking both men's and women's TTT at the World Championships.  Watching the women's individual time trial was pretty exciting as well. I was, of course, rooting for the American's (Imagine how good Chloe Dygert has the potential to be with a few more years!) but it was the Dutch that really dominated. Van Vleuten and Van Der Breggen really looked solid even through that nasty uphill.

In the men's TT Dumoulin really looked like he was on another level, and in a way I'm happy that a "time trial specialist" (although honestly, can you even classify him that way any longer?) still won the bands, as the climb seemed to be put in there as a foil for Tony Martin and friends. Rohan Dennis continues his streak of bad luck in World Championships... he's been my pick the last 3 years and has had an issue every time.  Maybe it's my fault.  Froome looked good overall, but tired. Not surprising considering his Tour Vuelta double. He needed to be a lot fresher to compete with TD in form.
The transition area was ridiculous... and pretty much was consistently a bad idea to change bikes. I didn't see anyone who seemed like they gained anything from taking the swap.  Martin Madsen (MTM on Slowtwitch) did it with only a single ring on his TT bike and finished a respectable 21st. Dark Horse story (well, it was more a story for the UK guys, I didn't see much about it over here) Hamish Bond turned out rather disappointingly, not because of his performance, but rather his mechanical. It would have been great to see how he stacked up with no issues.

hard to argue with that

In the women's road race, it was tough to see anything but the predictable outcome. The Dutch had the power and the numbers, and Blaak, with a little help from her friends, will get by with the stripes next year.

The men's race... what a good race to watch. (except when the coverage got miffed and we stared at the 1k to go banner for 5 minutes) When you look back at it now, I think... of course Sagan won it, but at the time... I never would have bet on him doing it. Even when he seemingly materialized out of nowhere for the sprint, it didn't look like he had it. But he did. Winning 3 WC road races in very different finishes... it's hard not to think he is one of, if not the best one day racer...maybe ever. Long live the champ.

FYI: You can watch the UCI's replay's (and live streams) on their Youtube channel by using a proxy service to get around the Geoblocking they put up. Of course you can also use Steephill.tv for live viewing, but you get some sketchy websites/streams and often a lot of non-english language streams.

But it wasn't just the WC going on. The Newly opened Mattamy National Cycling Center Velodrome in Milton, Ontario was the scene for "The Day of the Hour" where 8 Canadians set off on attacks on both the Canadian Hour Records as well as the UCI World Hour Records. You can check out lots of video on it here

By the way, Congratulations to all! I only have a taste of what it's like, and my hat's off to anyone who can ride the track for an hour at some serious speeds.

There were 4 new World Records and 8 new Canadians records at the end of the day, with outstanding performances by everyone. Like any good hour record, there was a non-zero amount of drama that has the forums humming. The placement of the little bumpers was not in it's normal position (which is touching the very edge of the upper part of the Cote, to prevent someone from dipping below the black line)

My awesome art program showing where they "should" be touching

While historically the bumpers do indeed touch the other edge, the always informative Alex Simmons brought to light that in the UCI handbook there isn't a rule specifying where the bumpers must be. (At least back to 2000 - take with a grain of salt as I'm not a UCI Comm intimately familiar with the rules)

From an actual performance standpoint... it's kind of a grey area in my mind. On the one hand, actually trying to gain an advantage by riding on the Cote for an hour record is a little ridiculous (you travel less distance in the turns, but you also have less banking) but on the other hand, having that extra 6 inches or so can allow a rider to be significantly braver about the line they choose to ride. Would I ride farther up the track if I was afraid I was in danger of hitting the bumper? Possibly. So in that way there is a little bit of advantage, if only primarily a mental one.  Since a few records were set with under a lap of distance between the records, it starts getting a little muddy as to the "spirit" of the rules. That said, there were UCI comm's at Milton who had no trouble with it for 8 hour attempts, so I see no reason to be outraged beyond a curiosity. Perhaps, with the renewed interest in the hour and this day in particular, we might get clearer rules.

That's all about other folk doing great things. Me... I've started riding a semi-serious amount again, but not anything overly exciting. With my mind focused on all the things to get in order for our trip to Germany my own cycling has taken a bit of a back seat, in my mind if not in my legs. I'm sure things will pick back up into full order soon. It's about time for a new project as well... I don't have anything staring at me from the workbench in desperate need of repair, it feels a little strange!

Until next time, thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shimmy Shimmy ya

Shimmy yam shimmy yay

Ok, ODB references aside...  my new project (well, bike project, the real time consuming project I've been working on is learning to cut my own hair, which is MUCH more difficult than bike related stuff!) is printing off some angled shims for my Brezza bars.

I've learned both times that I went to the wind tunnel (I'm a slow learner obviously) that higher hands worked for me. While I understand it's not quite so simple as some is good so more must be better, I think it's safe to assume it's not going to be a negative hitting the limit allowed by the UCI. The problem of course is that 3T doesn't make any angled spacers for the Brezza II's I use.  There are a couple of ways around such an issue, but I spent good hard earned money on my 3D printer, and by God I'm going to take every excuse to use it!

The initial mock up just took my original spacers design and chopped off a 10° angle towards the back. Voila!


Maybe not the most refined piece of work, but the important thing is that it's functional.

So, after a shell for test fitting and some minor adjusting, I printed off two of the little buggers and bolted them down. With the way the 3T bars bolt on, I don't see any need for a conical washer or any other frills, everything seems to be a-ok!



You get a feel for how much higher 10° actually is. I'm lucky with the 3T hardware as it conveniently also tilts the pads so no need for another solution for that. Now to throw it all back on the homemade jig and make sure it all passes snuff.

I may print off a few taller and shorter shims as well, just in case I get froggy and want to be able to test multiple angles and/or heights. With the material I'm using I don't want to add much height to the spacer, as I'm much less confident of it's lateral strength.

Thanks a ton for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What's next?

My break is over and now it's time to enter back into a base period. I do hate those first few days after a few weeks off the bike... when you still have the fitness to do some work, but all the tender and moving parts of you moan and hurt just that little bit to remind you that they enjoyed sitting on the couch more than they enjoy sitting on a saddle. It never ceases to amaze me that you could be averaging 2hours/day for months, take a short break, and then riding for an hour feels like eternity until the body re-adjusts.

So now it's nose back to the grindstone for a while. Most everyone has issues with it turning to worse weather, but since I do the vast majority of my training indoors anyways, it's pretty much business as usual for me.  I do hope to make it back to the track a few times before full on winter though... we'll just have to see if it all lines up.

As for next season... the planning is already taking place. Of course I am looking at another shot at the State Championship TT... I was soundly beaten this year, but wasn't totally on top of my game. Another year's worth of fine tuning and hard work will hopefully give me what I need to finally take that top step.  I also missed the track TN championships this year, which was unfortunate, it's definitely on my list for next year.

But primarily, it's the hour record that has my attention. I can do an hour, now I just need to fine tune doing it and start squeezing in more laps. The fact that my legs were in perfect shape afterwards tells me I wasn't working anywhere near my max at Rock Hill (although other factors certainly made up for a lot of that) so now I've been lured into the hour's hold. I'm not sure how far I can go with it, but right now it is what I'll continue building for. There are a couple of other velodrome records I'd like to use as test runs to improve my technical abilities... but my eye is really on the US Masters record. Time will tell whether that is a far fetched dream or not, but it's a nice carrot to consider during the long months ahead.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Some new projects in my off time

After Rock Hill, it was time to back off, partly because mentally I needed a break from the season and partly because the hope is that a little R&R will bring my TSH back down to normal (for me) levels. My extended bloodwork came back with no flags, so I suppose popular theory now is that I just have a fairly high TSH to start with, but that my increased load leading up to this had pushed it higher still. We'll see in a few months how that goes.

Nonetheless, time off the bike doesn't mean I've forgotten about the bike. There are some things I came away from Giordana thinking would make excellent improvements to the setup... and so here I am keeping myself busy.

The main thing I found uncomfortable at the track was my "Bridie nubs" (look, they probably have a better name than that, but I think that's a cool name and it's what I've always called them, so there.)

Version 1 and 2 were just something I whipped up on tinkercad and printed out on my 3d printer. They worked adequately, but for extended periods they really dug into my fingers and caused some pain, something I don't need more of. So it was back to the drawing board, and after a couple of hours messing with some different designs, I came up with these.



Version 3 is slightly more ergonomic with the cutouts (I wrap my pinky underneath, next two fingers in the cutout and pointer/thumb more on top) and probably more importantly I've totally removed any non-rounded edges. The smooth profile should keep them from digging into my fingers and hopefully the cutout will make for some slightly more secure wraparound. I'll have to do more testing on them, but at the least they are the right direction for v4 I think!

Here you can see the difference in design between v1 and v3.

As you fine readers certainly are aware, I'm an aero weenie. I love to eek out the absolute minute details of position/equipment. But, when you've worked on it like I have, you get to the point where the gains that you can still make require either a lot of time or a lot of money, most likely both. Certainly I'm not against spending either searching for those elusive missing watts, but now I'm taking a little closer look at other ways to save just that little bit extra.

I'm officially making my way into the world of friction weenies. I admit, in the past I've put very, very little interest or thought into friction. Sure, I bought the friction facts reports, but the extent of what I came away with was "wax your chain with additives when you're racing" and I called it good enough. But while searching for anything "free" I could for the track, I read that a lot of folks were pimping out their bottom bracket. Sure I've seen the video's of the BB/wheel/etc that spins seemingly forever, but until the FF report showed it actually could save a watt or two I never got invested.

Well, here we go. I picked up a pretty nice 7700 (needle and ball bearing style) DA7700 bottom bracket, found a pack of 50 ceramic enduro 1/8" balls (after balking at Ceramicspeed wanting $6!!! each for them... holy jeez) and picked up some CeramicSpeed TT/Track grease. Putting it all together and I ended up with... still a bottom bracket. But it should be a slightly more efficient bottom bracket!



Otherwise all has been pretty quiet in my part of the woods. I'm still pouring over the data I did get from my hour... plugging numbers, calculating... My mission was accomplished to get through the hour, and to set the track record, but now I wonder what distance I could have went if I wasn't riding to someone else's schedule. I want to have another go. Maybe sometime early next year when it warms up we'll head back and try to tack on a few more laps.

Anyways, as always thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Race Report: Giordana Velodrome (H)our Record

This is a tough one to put down into words... it's not the end of the journey, just a step... but man, what a good step it was to take.

Monday, August 28 at 1p.m. in Rock Hill, things came to a head and I took the first pedalstroke toward trying to set the track record at Giordana. It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time now, something that I wasn't sure I *could* do, something I still don't think I could have done... and yet, something WE did. But let's get to the actual report first, and then I'll throw in all my shoutout/thank you's at the end!

My wife and I set out late Saturday morning for Rock Hill. My mom had planned to go with us as well, but unfortunately had to stay home leaving it just us for the long weekend. Our trip down was pretty uneventful, Regional championships were taking place at the velodrome and we made it there literally just in time for the last person to step off the podium. Drat. We spent the rest of Saturday evening and most of Sunday exploring the local area (and checking out some great places to eat!) and just relaxing. 


Since I've had some very limited track time this year (and, well... ever) I was a bit nervous going into this, so I decided it would be best to do a little bit more on the track on Sunday than what was originally planned. I wasn't going to do any crazy efforts, but getting re-accustomed to riding the track was certainly going to be a boon.  While there I met with some local riders, one of which (I am very sorry I forgot your name!) was nice enough to help me with my line entering and exiting the turns and "flattening" the turns. This was a simple, short little bit of advice that REALLY helped me out on Monday. As time was winding down I did a couple of laps timed at "race pace" to see how it felt. I was on my training wheels and not in my skinsuit but was still slightly up on the pace without feeling like I was really working too hard for it. That gave me a much needed boost of confidence and maybe for the first time of the weekend I really internalized that this might just work out. At this point I even let just the slightest bit of bravado slip in and texted Derek "I think this is going to go well." It's at this point I should point out my phone auto-corrected "well" to "terrible" and I had a nervous laugh... stupid Galaxy S6...

Monday rolled around and the overall feeling I had most of the day was one of nervous anticipation. Since my start time wasn't until 1p.m. and my wife and I are early risers, we had a LONG time to spend just hanging out. I had breakfast and half/half coffee (1/2 decaf) around 6:30, then a larger breakfast at Panera Bread (Quinoa honey almond oatmeal) with more coffee and a lot of water. At the point my pee turned light straw color I started drinking Skratch mix to make sure I didn't over-hydrate. We really lucked up with the time wasting as The Big Lebowski was on and let's be honest, there is no better way to get psyched up for a big event than watching the Dude abide.

Finally, it was time to make our trek to the velodrome and get set up. It never fails to amaze me how time simply crawls by right up until you are at the venue, then it's like somebody puts you in fast forward. Bob and Ivan at Giordana already had most everything set up and were ready for me... I can't stress enough how excellent and professional these guys were. As I was drinking my (absolutely terrible tasting) mix of Beet Elite and baking soda and contemplating things that those who attack hour records contemplate (which at this point is all the things that aren't controllable, like weather) Derek (Dalzell, my coach) and his wife arrive and the team is all together and there is not much left to do other than a practice standing start (and test the timing) and to make a few nervous jokes.




As far as weather goes, we got good temperature  (maybe just slightly warmer than ideal) and a nice overcast, but with a good bit of wind. Some of the guys at the track said it was a bad day for an hour attempt, but it was what day we had, so we were going to have to make the best of it.

As I made my way up to the start line and clumsily tried to clip into my speedplay pedals (look, I'm a shimano guy... cut me some slack) I was struck very pointedly by the thought that Tony Rominger, one of the hour legends, didn't get up to speed fast enough from his start and fell unceremoniously, having to restart. (And fwiw, then setting the world record) As the countdown began, I thought... I hope I don't fall...
...2
......1

Don't fall don't fall don't fall...

I make it through turn 1 and thankfully don't wipe out. Coming into the straight it's down to business and I click off the first of many laps at a pretty unimpressive 31.4" something that certainly won't gain me any street cred with the real trackies.

Our plan was to ride conservatively at the current record pace. Having never done an hour before (or really any sets over 20 minutes on the track) we decided that would be the most likely to be successful strategy. That would mean holding roughly low 22" lap splits.  Lap #2 I'm at 21.8" and for the next 20 minutes I'm pretty much like a metronome clicking them off.  Derek and his significant other did an excellent job relaying information to me, I got lap splits each time around and every 5 minutes I got a sheet of how I was doing compared to the record. At about 20' I was 1.5km up. I was smiling, giving thumbs up to Derek, things were going well.


Black line...nailed it...right... at least I'm still in the sprinters lane

An hour attempt is unique. The challenge isn't just a physical one, maybe even moreso it is a mental one. There is just you and some lines. Every few seconds you try to line up entering and exiting the turn, and you see a flash card with your split on it, but otherwise you really see nothing and hear nothing. If you've ever done a set you may know the feeling... you look at your watch after what seems like forever has passed and you see that in reality only a minute or two has gone by. The hour is like that, except longer, and desolate. In a road time trial you have scenery, the danger of traffic, turns, other competitors, things to think about and ever so slightly distract you and take your mind off of small things that aren't really issues. On the track, you feel everything, and it feels worse because you have no distractions to take your mind off of it.  The first thing to hurt, for me, was my pinky fingers. Wrapping them around my bars was just uncomfortable enough for it to start annoying me. Then my thumbs started to feel numb (from the loops of my bodypaint3.3 choking off circulation I guess) and all in all my hand area just bothered me. Then my lats started to feel the stress of holding me in position.

later in the day, not even on the red line any more...

At around 30 minutes there were no more smiles, no more thumbs up. There was just one lap, followed by another. There were also starting to be more than a few 22.x" laps mixed in. As the day had worn on the wind had shifted, when I started it was hitting me coming out of turn 2, at almost the "perfect" spot to help me slide a little up toward the red line setting me up to cut the inside of turn 3. Unfortunately, as the day progressed the wind started hitting me exiting turn 4... and it was hitting me hard. For a while I tried to fight the bike and hold it in the sprinters lane, but as I have tried to convey little things turn into big things on the track. Fighting the bike was costing me a lot of energy I didn't have, so I eventually decide to just let the wind send me out of the turn wherever it wanted and to just ride it back down when it calmed. I'm sure it looked like I was totally losing control...hell, maybe I was... but it made sense to me at the time.

As the 5 minute intervals were coming up, 1.5km slid to 1km to .5km and finally to even pace with the record. 40-50 minute mark was steady 22" laps, a bit of a meltdown but not a disaster. At 15 minutes to go I remember thinking "I've done so many 15 minute sets... just do this one more and you never have to do another one." I could also hear everyone on the track trying to bolster me... part of me was very, very glad for the support, and part of me was concerned... were they trying to keep me going because it looked like I might stop at any second.
Honest moment, there was only one thing I wanted to do more than stop... and that was finish. At 10 minutes to go Derek started giving me minute to minute updates "9 to go!" "8:30" "Hold the black Line!" "steady!" and other things I'm not 100% sure I heard correctly, but I got the message.

"FIVE MINUTES, LIFT IT!"

Actually, from my lap splits at 7 minutes I started lifting, although I didn't feel like I was. I dropped back into mid-low 21" laps. At this point I was experiencing something I never have before... I saw things, I heard things, but they had no meaning. I could see Derek hold up my lap split, but it didn't hold any information that made sense. I heard my wife cheering, but she was foreign to me. I was a picture frame you buy at Target... There is a picture in it, but no meaning behind it. The only thing that I had to hold onto was a ferverous (or feverous?) voice telling me to push the damn pedals harder.

In the distance, I hear a whistle blow. I ride by and someone is smiling, giving me a thumbs up. Distantly, a realization dawns on me that the whistle means I can stop.

Panic grips me.

For the first time in my cycling life, I truly believe there is no possibility of me slowing down without wrecking. I'm not sure if slowing down will lock my legs up, not sure if I can support myself in any position other than the one I've been locked in the last hour. Slowing down is a painful shock to my system. I lift onto the basebar and my arms have support in them. I slowly ride down the track and have enough sense to let Derek know that I need someone to catch me. He does. Things happen, people, wife... all I can do is put my head into the aerobars and try not to fall over. I get off the bike and make it to the grass infield, where I collapse onto my back and finally have enough oxygen back to my brain to realize that the words being formed are "you did it."

Derek and Jenny keeping me from toppling over. Notice I'm still in the same position I've been in for an hour 

We did it! The final damage was 41.03km/25.49mph, or 164 laps. I was only able to add 3 laps to Tim's record, but I feel it was everything I had to give, and I'm happy for it!

So, this was a big enough thing for me to feel like I need to give some long winded shoutouts! If that isn't your thing, feel free to sign out early! Thanks so much for reading, bigger things are coming!

Ivan (from Giordana) Jenny me Derek and Millicent

Me and Derek, one down more to come

Most weight I've lifted over my head in years!

Thanks to
- My wife, who is the ultimate support
- My family, and especially my mom!
- Derek Dalzell for being an awesome coach, and his wife for doing math for me and just coming out to as support!
- Kevin Sprouse and Podium Sports Medicine for getting me to the line healthy
- All my friends who have listened to me talk endlessly and senselessly about 1/8th of a watt savings, Jimmy, Wes, Emil, Joe, Matt, Tony and so many more
- Tons of knowledgeable folks who took time to listen to and answer my endless questions... Marc Graveline, Alex Simmons, Colby Pearce, Dr. Bassett, Heath Dotson and lots of folks at Slowtwitch and Timetriallingforum
- Mark Florence from the Time trial podcast, which is likely the biggest source of information on hour attempts out there.
- All my sponsors, for continuing to believe.
- More that I've certainly forgot. I'm sorry.

The only other thing I'll add... come out, try it! It's $60 to make an attempt. Break my distance. Give me a reason to come back and do it again! I think 43km is well within reach of somebody with a fairly good W/CdA ratio and an ok day. Maybe a lot more!


- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What to do with extra fitness.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ended up sort of peaking beyond when it was expected. Obviously, that's not ideal, but now it's either let it go to waste or find something to "spend" it on. With no more TT's of note on the schedule for the year and with an imminent trip to Germany looming over me in the not so distant future, I had to come up with something quick and fairly close.

Last year around this time I had an ill fated attempt at Dick Lane Velodrome's Hour Day, where (on my second time ever on the track if I may impart a small excuse) I managed about 20 minutes before my very aggressive position mixed with my unpreparedness for the distinct difference of riding an hour on the track, along with doing it blind (both literally and figuratively, as I lost my contact lenses about 5' into the ride and couldn't hear anything my wife was yelling at me track side...) and maybe also the nonzero of how unique a track Dick Lane is (if you've ever ridden it you know what I mean) ended my ride. On the plus side, those 20' went pretty well... Now, just have to do that times 3.

As for the current record, Tim Granger is the man to beat, with 161 laps (40.45kmph) done right before Thanksgiving last year. I think it's a pretty good record on that track... as the Giordana velodrome isn't particularly "fast" being concrete and exposed to the elements.  I will definitely respect his record, and will ride very close to it for the majority of my own ride, or at least that is the plan.

So how do I think I'll do?  I'm actually very interested to see. On the one hand, I think I've come a LONG way since Dick Lane last year, but as I've said, trying to ride 40k+ for an hour on a track is something I have 0 experience doing, so there is most definitely the scenario where I don't even finish. That said, my primary goal is to ride it out, regardless of what kind of speed I manage. I would like to finish it at the very least.

In all honesty, my gut tells me that if I have to match the same watts I did at the TN State TT to hold the pace, it will be a tough day that will come down to the last few minutes. If the requirement is more, it may be out of my reach, and if it's less, I will hopefully only suffer a good amount and not the entire time. Some of that will also likely depend on the weather. As I'm starting late (1p.m.) and the track is exposed, I'll almost certainly get a hot day (which is technically a good thing) but I also run the risk of getting "too hot" of a day, which could be a disaster.

We'll know next week though! That will be exciting.
Just for fun I'll run through my gear setup

Me
- Giro Aerohead MIPS (M)
- Castelli BP3.3 (M)
- Aerocoach Trip Socks (M)
- Bioracer TT gloves (S)
- DMT P1 shoes (44)

Bike
- Fuji Track Elite (54)
- Dura Ace Track Crank w/stages PM (167.5)
- Dura Ace 53t Chainring
- Dura Ace 15t Cog
- Dura Ace 7710 Bottom Bracket
- Izumi Chain w/homebrew speed wax
- Speedplay Aero Zero cleats and pedals
- Tririg Sigma X stem
- 3T Brezza II Nano base bar
- Zipp Evo 70 Extensions w/3d printed dummy plugs
- Aerocoach Align arm pads
- Fizik Ares saddle
- Walker Brothers Revo2 disc w/22mm Vittoria Evo Pista rear
- No-Name Mavic iO clone, 19mm Vittoria Evo Pista front (Possible option of a deep section spoked wheel as well)
- Powertap Joule GPS+ mounted w/custom 3d printed behind the saddle mount.

Will all that gear pimpness buy me the speed necessary to get the job done? I'm guessing I'll still have to pedal pretty hard, but I'm hoping it at least helps a little!

So, next week either you'll get a race report filled with greatness, or one full of excuses ;)

Until then, Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Round of Blood Work

I had just straight up forgotten about my labs earlier this year... that means it was a good long break between my last test and this one, so I was a bit nervous about how things would look.

The good news is that my nutrients are looking good. Some of the ones I have had issues with in the past (Ferritin, VitD particularly) were looking very good considering the time lapse, so I was very happy with that. Magnesium is holding pretty steady, but considering I supplement it fairly heavily that's not "great." I've picked up some topical magnesium to add after hard workouts, so hopefully that will bring my numbers up slightly. My insulin levels dropped a good bit (putting me back in the normal range) which was great!

The bad news is that my cholesterol, which has always been high, is now starting to look high in pretty bad ways. Dietary changes and adding some high quality fish oil to my regimen will hopefully remedy it and put it back in the right area, and with any luck the fish oil will have the added benefit of helping with inflammation a bit.  I'm not terribly concerned with these numbers, but it's something that is trending in the wrong direction, and as I'm not getting any younger the time is now to try to curtail any further decline, rather than to sit idly and then possibly develop a truly serious problem down the road.

The other, other bad news is my Thyroid results, which also continue to go in the wrong direction.



Depending on what you read from who and what test you take from where, my numbers are on varying scales of "not great," and unfortunately aren't looking like they are getting better. Since I first started paying attention to my blood work in 2014 these numbers have been high, but they've continually went in the wrong direction, which is starting to become a bit more concerning.  We've decided that it's best to get further blood work done for possible autoimmune issues to see if we can get a clearer idea of the big picture. I'll save any speculation, as the rabbit hole of playing google doctor really isn't how I want to spend my days! Hopefully no big deal.

As far as how I feel... well pretty great. I've started to really peak (which was unintentional, but the way my body responded to a shift in training) and with no races left on the schedule I have been on the hunt for something to waste the fitness on. I've nailed down something, but I'll save that for another post.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pump it up!

I enjoy racing, and I enjoy training. But, I also really enjoy other parts of cycling, including the gear and the history.  So when I can pick up something that has some historic feel to it that is also pretty cool and as a bonus, quite useful... well I jump at the chance, especially if it's fairly cheap.

So, as you may know if you've read for a while, I like Silca pumps. The new Super Pista is a great bit of kit that I use every single day. In my garage I also have an older Super Pista (mid 2000's I'd guess) hooked up with a Hirame adapter I use on my race wheels. And just a couple weeks ago, I picked up an old (stamped 1989) Pista pump. With Silca re-releasing the Pista just recently, it seemed like a great time to snatch up a little piece of old school kit to play with.

This specific one was listed on ebay in non-working order. It seemed the previous owner had given up on it many years ago and it had sit in neglect since then. For $30 the majority of the pump was in great shape though, with some chipped paint (which adds to the panache of a pump like this in my opinion.) but otherwise pretty nice. Yellow is a flashy, nice color, probably my favorite behind Molteni Orange.

After it arrived I took stock of the problems. Primarily, it was simply that the leather washer had likely never been changed and had a couple of rips in it. The hose was in fairly good condition for it's age, but I added that to the list of replacement parts as well. Finally, the gauge. It seemed like it was still functioning, but without the pump working it wasn't possible to know if it was holding any accuracy... unfortunately it was almost certainly not after so many years, so a replacement gauge was the final piece. Fortunately Silca sells a rebuild kit for all their pumps, so it didn't take much work to get all the pieces necessary.

Garage pumps


Once I rebuilt the pump I tested the accuracy of the gauge. Unfortunately it was, as expected, miles away from accurate, somewhere around 25psi different from my digital gauge. That was unfortunate, the replacement gauge from Silca certainly looks good (and more importantly, it matches the vintage look of the original) but I was a bit remiss that I would lose the sweet 240 max psi from the original. Sad, but function of fashion.

Very sad days... 16 bar is a nice inflated number (Oh I've got puns)

Once it was back together and freshly updated, it was time to put it to the test. How well did it work?

My super unscientific test. Blow up a 22mm Tubular from 0psi to 100psi with the three Silca pumps.

1989 Pista - 21 full strokes
circa 2000 Super Pista (w/Hirame) - 18 full strokes
current Super Pista - 13 full strokes

Generation gap!

No big surprises there, the longer the barrel, the less strokes required. It's also fair to say that the "feel" improves as they get newer. Nonetheless, the old Pista did a fine job pumping up the tire. For what is essentially a much good bit more portable pump it did what you'd want from a pump you threw in the back of the car.

So, a new toy to use. If it's like my other pumps it's in for a lot of use... err, more than it's seen in the past 30 years. I just thought I'd share it, I think it's great that Silca sells most of the parts to keep your pump running for a good long time... of course now I'm hoping I won't have to fall back on that for many, many years to come!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lifenerding? Upgrade it all!?

I like to geek out on stuff. From what you guys read week in and week out (right? I hope so anyways) that primarily means bicycle related things.

While that is more than accurate, it also spills over into almost every facet of my life. I obsess on just about everything... what knives go in the kitchen (Tojiro) what hex keys to use (Wera) or even what boxer briefs to wear (Spanx... yes for men) all of this after hours of research. Why? I dunno... it's just something I sort of enjoy doing.

But that said, there are some glaring weaknesses in my obsessiveness when it comes to my own performance. For such a nerd about aerodynamics, tire rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency, I really lack when it comes to making my own body as finely tuned as I can. I've always been more of a "train hard and then when I'm done I'm DONE" type of person.  So I've been thinking about trying to see if I can apply myself (my teachers always said I didn't do much of that) to this in the same way's I've applied it to technology.

To start with (and hopefully not bite off too much at once) it's going to be an easy one. Proper cooling before a race. I've toyed with it in the past, and by that I mean I've poured water on myself and once I tried to put an ice pack down my back for the State TT (which turned out to be a cold/hot pack... which was a disaster once it melted) but after speaking with some fellow's in the know... I ordered a cold vest (pretty cheap on amazon actually! Same one the pro teams use so far as I can tell) and some menthol cooling spray. The cooling spray shows no benefit to actual performance in the studies I looked at, but perception was reported to be cooler in all cases. While that's not an actual gain, if it makes me feel a little better while I'm suffering on the bike, I'll consider it a win. The ice vests do have a positive effect on performance (well... lowering core temp does technically) so fortunately that money will hopefully end up well spent. There are some other area's of temp control (a slushy for example) that are definitely worth exploring, but these two should give me a chance to test it out.

Next is sleeping.  Like (I'm guessing) most of you, I don't think much about sleeping. Maybe I've used my Withings Activite to "monitor" it for a while (until the new wore off the feature) but really, that information, even if (and that if is a very big one, as I'll get to) it's accurate, doesn't really tell you what is important. Most of the "sleep trackers" on the market really only guess. Some more accurately than others, but at the end of the day, they are relying on HR and motion to estimate what kind of sleep you're getting. To really dig down you need some EEG readings. If only there was a machine that did that besides actual medical equipment.

Fortunately, years ago ZEO made just such a product. Unfortunately, probably due to timing (around the time of wearable fitness/sleep trackers a la fitbit) and the necessity to wear the goofy band to bed (I'm sure my wife will love it!) the company went under, despite good reviews and data collection of things like deep sleep and even REM. Although there is no longer official support for the Zeo, there is a fairly loyal community behind them, and it's still possible to get it to work. So, after perusing ebay, I ordered a used one. The goal behind this is to first start tracking my actual sleep and how much of it i spend in the different "zones" at night. Once that's established, I'll start making changes to see if I can maximize the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Is that worth anything? I think so, although I'm still trying to learn as much as possible in this area before I make any concrete statements. It should make a great project regardless of anything else.

It's also time to have my blood work done once more. With any luck everything will be a-ok after my "race season" and the bit of weight I've put on. We shall see!

Thanks for reading, a lot of randomness I know.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Race Report: ORV Time Trial

After a string of second place finishes, I finally managed to nab myself a top step. On the way, I also set a new PB on the ORV course, smashing last year's time. But it wasn't quite as smooth sailing as I had hoped.

For a short time trial (7.6 miles) I like to get in a pretty good warmup. So we arrived on site a little over an hour early, and I found some of my friends who had scouted out a shady area (it's still amusing to me that we "warm up" in 95° weather) and started setting up. When I took my bike out of the truck I saw that I had pinched the tube in my rear wheel installing the tire and now I had a flat that would have to be changed.

Fast forward another hour... my hands are in ruins, I've bent at least one tire lever, and I've given up on trying to get the super tight Vittoria G+ reinstalled and settled for the Specialized Turbo Cotton... You KNOW a tire is tiiiiighttttt (My friend Tony, who also gave up the skin on his hands to help me seat the tube under the tire, called them 695c tires) when you consider the Spec TC to be the "easier" one to install. Finally, with around 10 minutes to my start time, we have the bike back together. My wife and mother pin my numbers and I throw on my shoes and helmet... the bad news is I didn't get to warm up... the good news is I got a heck of a warmup fighting that tire!

I jump out on the road to check the brakes and shifter, and as soon as I grip the brake I can feel that my headset has worked it's way loose. Jeez... just like a car, a bike can brake down just sitting in the garage. Cue the whole "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance" saying running through my mind... So the choice is either miss my start time or ride it the way it is.



I make my way down to the start tent and try to get my attention focused on the job at hand. I was in the lucky position of going last, so I only had people in front of me to pick off, which always helps me when it comes to focusing. Finally, after all the hassle getting to the line, we're down to the 3,2,1... Go time.


photo credit to master photographer Tony Falin


Orv's course is short, but it's lumpy in pretty much all the wrong ways, and I've found it's easy to pay for burning the matches too fast. I come out of the start nice and controlled and quickly find my way into the bars. My goal is to push for somewhere a little higher than my 20' power for most of the ride, driving it up a bit on the uphills and letting it dip slightly to recover on the downhills. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor because I didn't want to see the numbers I'd likely be hitting, blowing up was a possibility we had discussed and would rather see than a soft race. So on I went. Making my way onto the on ramp to Hwy 95 the course starts throwing the rollers, something I've almost decidedly gotten worse at since adding 20lbs to my frame.  As the turn onto Bear Creek Road comes into sight I am in the awkward position of needing to make a pass. I decide to burn a match and really put in an effort to get ahead before we go into the turn so that I've got free road to go. It's right on the limit of too much and it takes me a moment to recover, but I find my cadence again and just keep telling myself it's almost over. The back end of Bear Creek road is generally downhill, but still with some quick inclines and some overall mediocre pavement. As I make the final sweeping bend headed for the finish I pour everything I've still got in the tank (not much) into it and really hammer down. I pass my 5th rider in front right before crossing the line and stop the clock in 16:51, about 20 seconds faster than what we had set as a target.



For Reference
2016 - 18:15
2017 - 16:51

It was great to finally take a top step again. It's been nearly 4 years (has it really been that long) since I got to stand on the top step at the end of a race. I suppose it's only fitting that it happened at the Podium Sports Medicine TT, and I'm glad I got to do it with them as my sponsor. We're still building towards something greater, but this was a nice confirmation that the hard work does reap some rewards even while working up to the bigger picture.  Maybe it's also a lesson to spend a little more time getting the bike race ready a little earlier during the week ;)


Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Impressive riding

With the tour entering it's third week it's not terribly hard to find some impressive rides... but there have been some very impressive rides put down by a couple of amateur riders in Aguascalientes as well.

Kevin Metcalfe's blog tells the whole story of his attempt to break the men's UCI hour 55-59 record. Spoiler, he does it (49.121km, putting a solid chunk into the former record) and from watching the live feed on Youtube it looked like he did so without too much trouble. Around halfway he did drop off a slight bit, but he never had a true crisis, which in itself is a testament to good pacing (and fitness of course) and being a smart rider.



Oh, and he also set the new record for the 2k Pursuit... so not a bad weekend!

Molly Van Houweling dominated the W40-44 records, crushing the hour in 47.061, and adding the 2k (2.24) and kilo (1.14) to her palmares. Of course she is already a legend in hour record history.

As for me, I'm getting ready to race the Oak Ridge Velo TT this Saturday. It's a short one, but it promises to be hot. This is probably roundabouts the last road TT I'll be doing this year, so I'm hoping that some of the fitness I've carried from earlier this year will help me secure another podium. As I've been denied the top step every race so far this year, I will be aiming to improve from silver this time!

I've also been doing a little bit of work on my own track bike the last few weeks... it looks like Rock Hill is going to begin having weekend racing! Awesome! Might have to break out the track elite!



Thanks for checking in, I really appreciate it! Next week, I suppose a race report is in order!

- Christopher Morelock