Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How To: Going 1x - Removing a riveted FD

Another how to! It's been a while but now that things are slowing down again (I missed track state championship because of some work I can get back to tinkering with things. And this week we'll dive right in to something I have seen some people mention doing or thinking about doing, but that maybe you are a bit timid about tackling yourself.

First, let's get the disclaimer out of the way. If you screw your frame up, that's on you. No manufacturer recommends doing this, and neither do I. But if it's something you are considering doing, you might has well have a guide to reference. Also note this is done on a Speed Concept, so YMMV from manufacturer to manufacturer. My guess is that all of them riveted on are done basically the same way, but who knows.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's address the inevitable question of "why."
I'm not going to try to convince you. If you found this post through searching, you have already read more than I can put into words here. If you just stumbled on this and are rolling your eyes thinking "what a waste of time" then nothing I can say will change your mind. That's not my intent anyways. So, let's get on with it.

Alright, so you are planning to remove your front derailleur and go "permanently" 1x. The simplest way to do this (besides buying a 1x bike) is just to de-cable and/or remove your front derailleur. Now (unless you have a clamp on style, in which case you're done) it's a matter of what kind of derailleur hanger your bike is equipped with. A couple of my bikes just had bolt on hangers, which is obviously best for this kind of stuff, since two bolts and you're done. My old P3sl has the hanger welded to the frame, and so even though the P3 is on track duty it's still got it's hanger. Some day I may grind it off, but I hate to as that is VERY permanent. Most (at least TT / Tri) bikes now are something closer to "semi-permanently" mounted to the bike. That is, riveted. That's the case with most of the carbon cervelo's, and, more importantly to me, my Speed Concept.

So, what does "semi-permanently" mean? It means you're going to have to do some "surgery" to get it off, but that you could re-install it at a later date with minimal work if you changed your mind. For that you'd need a rivet gun (yes, like you'd get at Harbor Freight for ~$5) and the corresponding pop rivets, but it's not a job out of the reach of a home mechanic.

So, the thing is riveted (and also glued) to the frame. So what do we need to get it off? I used
- Electric handheld drill w/drill bits (a couple of sizes)
- heat gun (not necessary but makes life easier, a blow dryer might work)
- hammer
- punch (could improvise with hex keys or something similar)
- screwdriver/something to pry hanger off.

Now, before we get into it too deep, it's important to understand the design of the rivet holding it on and how to get it out. What you'll see is what looks like a button head bolt, except there is just a hole in it instead of a place for a tool to remove it.

This is a rivet. Everything below the dome is out of sight when installed. The outer straight piece is broken off when installing the rivet.

this handy diagram I borrowed off the net shows how the rivet is installed. #3 is how it looks in your frame.

Now that we have an idea of how they got the rivet in, let's get to work on getting it out.

We'll break this FD removal into steps.
1.) Drill off the cap heads
2.) Punch out the rivet
3.) Heat the hanger
4.) Pry the hanger off
5.) Get rid of the debris

Step 1: Drill off the cap head
This one is pretty simple, you can expedite this process by starting with a bigger bit from the get-go, but it's best for "first timers" to start slow. Grab your drill bits and find one a little larger than the hole in the rivet. Drill into the head a little bit (as you can see in the diagram, the cap is not deep, you don't need to go any farther than where the cap lines up with the frame.) The reason I suggest starting with only a slightly bigger bit than the hole for now is that if you drill too deep, you just drill into the rivet itself, whereas if you start with a very big bit you may start drilling out the frame if you go too deep. That said, you will have to move to a bigger bit, maybe a couple of times. Just take it slow, repeat until the cap head breaks loose. Now, either repeat this step for each rivet before moving on, or move on to step two and repeat each step for each rivet.

You may want to throw something over the ring/chain as you'll get shavings everywhere.

Step 2: Punch out the rivet
Ok, so the head is off. Now we need to get the inside of the rivet out of the way. With the head off the easiest way is to grab your punch / makeshift punch (I actually used a hex key because it was laying beside me while I was doing it and I'm lazy. Anything hard, straight, that you don't mind whacking with a hammer and that will fit is perfect.) stick it in the hole you have made by removing the head of the rivet, and tapping it with your trusty hammer. It shouldn't take too much force to knock it back into the frame (so you know, be careful hammering really hard or you could literally punch all the way through the frame! That would be bad.)  The easiest way to get the trash out of the frame is removing the seatpost, turning the bike over and shaking a few times. If you are really lucky and have a larger hole at the bottom of the frame they might come out there on their own.

Now, repeat this until you have all the rivets removed.

Step 3: Heat the Hanger
Now, you can try to remove the hanger before this step. Depending on what kind of adhesive they used besides the rivets, it may come off with only minor amounts of prying. On the Trek they used some epoxy, so it really needed heated to loosen it up a little bit. Like everything else, take your time, a heat gun gets REALLY hot really fast. You just want to warm the hanger and adhesive below it up up, not turn it white hot. When in doubt, go slow, you can always turn the heat gun back on.

heat it up, don't burn it up

Step 4: Pry the hanger off
Alright, so it's time to take remove the hanger. Your method of prying it off may differ. I used my screwdriver, stuck it through the opening in the hanger (where the derailleur mounts) and pried it off. It took minimal force. You could also probably do it with pliers or any other things. Use some caution and common sense... the hanger is probably metal, and you just warmed it... so grabbing it with your hand is a bad idea.

Step 5: Get rid of the debris
If you haven't gotten rid of the back half of the rivet (now in your frame) this is the time to do it. If you remove the seatpost make sure to mark where it was for reinstallation. It's possible that if you took off a little outer layer of paint/material when you pried off the hanger you'll need to sand it down to even to prevent further fraying. In the picture below you can see in my case the glue took a little bit with it when removed.  Not a big deal, but also not for the feint of heart. This is also the time when you should figure out how you're going to dress it up now. I went cheapo mode and just painted the area black... but you could get creative and make it look considerably nicer (something I may do down the road)

Removed! Semi Perma 1x

Is it worth doing? It depends. For me, I like to tinker on stuff, like smooth lines (no hanger sticking out) and obsess over any potential aero gains. Are there any? Most likely some, and some reports suggest that the hanger itself is the biggest portion of that drag. Whats a few watts mean to you? Again, hard to answer, a lot of us spend a lot of money for a watt or two... so doing something (relatively) cheap/free seems like a good bang for your buck. Again, not suggesting it's for everyone, but if you're going to tackle it, here's a way that worked well for me!

 Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Race Report: TN State TT (Cat4)

Back again with another report, this time for the TN State TT race.

How to start this report... I've tried a few times and failed to muster how I feel about it. Bittersweet is the best I can come up with. Again the top step has eluded me, but I had one of my best races, ever, which is all the more important. Of the things I could control, I think I hit a 95 out of 100 on execution, which in itself is probably the most important takeaway from the day. But let's start at the beginning.

The TN State TT was a race that was uncertain for a long time. Whether it actually was going to happen or not was up in the air until a couple weeks from race day. When they finally confirmed it in a new location, I was happy as my build up was targeting it and I do hate to miss timing like that. The new course was also a bit more friendly than the previous location, which thankfully included a good bit less elevation change. 

Coming off of the Georgia State TT I made some modifications to my equipment, not wanting to run out of gears going downhill again (a problem I had in GA) I swapped from my 50t to a 54t chainring (I run 1x) and put on a slightly wider cassette. With 3% being the max grade I was certain I'd have the gears I needed going up and down. I had ripped my skinsuit at the GA TT, but fortunately Kevin Sprouse came through in the clutch and got me into the new Body Paint 3.3 skinsuit before he left for the Tour de Suisse. It was also my first time running the new, extremely quick Vittoria Corsa Speeds, the new king of fast tires.  So, with my ride pimped out, it was time to go make what meager watts my motor can do.

We (my mother, wife and I) drove down to Dover on Friday evening, and I got in my final spin in at the hotel room. We had dinner at an excellent pizza place nearby and then watched the back half of Saving Private Ryan before bed.

Saturday we made our way to the race site about an hour and a half early, giving me time to get my numbers and get everything set up for my warmup.  I spent about 40 minutes total warming up (with a 5' or so break to pee in the middle) including a ~5 or so build and a couple of 30" efforts to open the legs up. Finally it was time to slip into (nothing so elegant actually happened, it was actually a lot of tugging...very gentle tugging) the skinsuit and head to the start tent.

My holder did a fine job, and then it was time for the countdown.
3, 2, 1, Go.

Coming straight out of the gate I spiked my power a bit getting up the bridge, then immediately slipped into my position and found my rhythm. The goal was to hold very steady power on all the flats and uphills (the out of the course had a generally steady "false flat" profile to it) and then at the long drag (~3% grade) to the actual turn point to spike it up just slightly and expect to recover a bit on the following downhill. All in all, I wanted to keep my heart rate in the low 180's for the majority of the ride.

As I came over the bridge from the start gate I smash into the open bit of pavement between bridge and road. It jars me hard, and for a second I wonder if it was hard enough to blow a tire. It wasn't, but it was also not an experience I wished to repeat as I crossed the other side of the bridge.

They say nothing new on race day, and I try to stick to that. I'm decent at bunny hopping on a road bike, but admit I've never done it (in aero) on my tt bike... but the concept is similar, except for that slight bit less control and having your elbows locked in place and the body weight distribution and so forth... Perfect time to try it out, right? I pull hard on the end of the bars and then immediately after pop my feet. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I landed it... not perfectly, but adequately enough that i didn't wipe out, which I suppose is good enough.

On a long straight out and back time trial you get plenty of time to think about things, which is a blessing and a curse. Some people can turn their mind off and just hammer, me I sit and think about things. It's something that has hurt me in the past, when I let my mind wander to "this sucks" territory... but this year I've worked hard on focusing on other stuff. I also moved my computer higher so that I can see the numbers just by glancing, which gives me some "motivation" to stay on watts and some buffer to calm me down. The other thing I've worked to focus on is staying as still as possible. Most of the guys I'm racing against out power me by a good 70-90 watts over an hour effort, so anything I can do to maximize my slipperiness is an absolute must.

Slowly, I start picking people off. As we near the turnaround I'm passed by a Cat3 rider, and I shadow him the remainder of the first half as we start going by an increasing amount of traffic. With the turnaround in sight and two riders immediately ahead of me I put in a "too big" effort to get by them (and to the turnaround first, so I can pick my line) which in retrospect probably cost me 15" or so overall. Fortunately after making the turnaround I'm able to get my heartrate back under control and start the fast return trip.

Holding my watts steady on downhills is a problem I have, so I really had to focus hard on what should have been the "easy" part of the course. I did a good job (for me) but still left some time out there. It's about this time I start to think to myself that the chamois in the Body Paint 3.3 is not the most robust... my undercarriage was really hurting! Finally I see the cones that lead back over the bridge to the finish line, and I get out of the saddle to try to power over. The stretch takes a lot longer than it did on the way out, and it's all I can do to stay in my right mind as I crest the hill and put in my last effort to the finish line.

Final Time - 57.52 on a slightly long course (25.3mi)

It was good enough for second place on the day, which was not the step I had hoped to land on, but it came from one of the best executed races I've ever had, so I am happy. It's also the first time I've "officially" broken an hour in a 40k, so small victories and all that. There is a saying in car racing "no replacement for displacement" and at a certain point it's true in human motors as well. The difference of motor size matter a lot more when the competition is also trying to check off all the aero boxes. It does give me something to look forward to next year, and motivation is always welcome!

Thanks to the Sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

States, this time in TN

When it rains it pours. No races for months and now it's all here at once. The TN state TT is Saturday in Dover, TN. It's been a long time coming.

After Georgia I'm feeling pretty good physically. Another week of some tough feeling workouts and now I'm feeling a bit beat up, but I'm on the taper again and looking like I'll peak on Saturday morning, which is obviously ideal.  Then the week after the track state championships will be held in Atlanta at DLV... I'm on the fence as to whether I'll go or not. I'd like to but it's a lot of events right together and I don't have just tons of track time racing. I'll play that one by ear.

So what's the plan for TN States? Somewhere in the 57 minute range seems like it should be pretty doable on my current fitness and is also what best bike split thinks. On a good day maybe a little better, on a bad day hopefully I still break an hour, something I've somewhat comically and somewhat sadly not been able to say in an open 40k tt for some various reasons/excuses. I'm done with excuses though... I'm going out and I'll ride my plan until the last section, in which I'll try to turn myself inside out.

So, short post this week. Things to do, tapering to get in, work to catch up on. I'll be back next week with another race report, and then who knows where we'll go from there.

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

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

GA State ITT (Cat4) and 2-Man TTT

It's been a while since I had a race report to post, and now I've got two in one!

This year I've decided to focus solely on becoming a better time trialist. Unfortunately, in Tennessee time trialling is really not a thing... so starting my "season" has been a long time coming. 

My original focus was the TN State Time Trial Championships, however as the race date drew closer without a confirmation I feared the worst, that it would be re-scheduled or worse, simply cancelled. Georgia's State TT had been on my radar for a while, but we had originally figured it as a tune up / train through race, however, as TN's race became less certain and with my fitness coming towards a peak for the season, I decided to re-schedule and make sure I had at least a single good race to focus on lest I just miss out on everything. Shuffling your training plan to shoe horn in a peak/taper last minute a few weeks before planned certainly isn't the ideal way to do it, but it is what it is and what we had to work with.

The couple of weeks leading into the GA TT had/have been rough, I was pushing longer weeks and higher intensities and missing a fair number of those targets. It erodes the confidence we have built up and we start thinking somehow we've backslid into de-training, even though that is not logical. Nonetheless, I was getting a little nervous about the race. Tapering went like my tapers always have historically, I feel pretty "meh" as volume drops and recovery increases. I'm used to this by now, so I wasn't too freaked out by it. On Thursday we sat down and discussed my strategy for the GA course, keeping in mind that I'd have to go back out within an hour and try to hold it together for the 2 Man Team Time Trial. Although that was an afterthought, I still wanted to at least be able to not be totally embarrassed by my pulls. I would limit myself to low 300's for the punchy climbs and not let my heart rate climb too far above 180 until the last 3k or so, as at that point I'd start digging a hole I couldn't recover from. I've blown up in a longish TT before in epic fashion, it's not an experience I ever look to repeat.

I took a half day off work Friday and met my friend's Jimmy and Sharon at their house. We'd decided to split a hotel room since the upcharge staying in a college town on Memorial Day weekend was ridiculous. We strapped the bikes (three Speed Concepts) to the Subaru and made our way down to Gainesville. 

By the time we drove the course, got unloaded and found a place to get some dinner it was close to 8p.m. I'd planned to do a 30 minute spin with a couple of pickups that evening (sitting in a car for a couple of hours isn't great for keeping the legs fresh) but decided it was late enough it was best to cut it short and not risk getting too worked up right before bed. Sleeping in a hotel is already enough of a challenge without a sky high heartrate. 15' spinning would have to do. We turned in a little after 9 and set the alarm for 6.

Race day rolled around fairly uneventfully. One last check of the bike, we packed the car and met the rest of the crew at a local Panera Bread for coffee and breakfast. Then it was off to the races, as Sharon and the rest of the girls started about an hour before us.

The course itself was a little short of a 40k (measuring about 35k) and an easy enough out and back setup with only the turnaround in a 3 lane road as the "technical" section. Going out was vastly downhill, and the back half, as you might imagine, was mirrored uphill. It would certainly punish someone who didn't hold a little back for the return trip.  

I've been using Team GB/Sky's TT warmup for a couple of years now (ever since I saw and stole it) and I've always felt it was a great warmup that didn't run on too long. I was surprised that my parents had made a side trip on their own mini-vacation to see me off... that's always great for morale! I ran down to the start to see some of my friends off, gave Jimmy some well wishes (and a stick of gum... our tt secret weapon) gave the bike a final check over and fully kitted up... then rode to the start ramp myself. Finally, at 10:07 on the dot, it was go time.

I went off the ramp and took a hard right out of the parking lot into another right onto the main road the rest of the race would play out on. As I've mentioned, the first portion is very fast due to the gradual decline. I've been running a single front chainring for a while now with a 50t ring which has treated me well up to this point. Unfortunately I found a 50x12 big gear simply wasn't allowing me to push my target watts. I was running in the low 200's for some long stretches... a rookie mistake not to match the necessary gear to the course. It wasn't a disaster, but with the length of time spent in 50x12 it was certainly not optimal. Stay aero, stay tucked, stay focused. I say stay focused because here I made a real error. As I was coming onto the time check I saw a volunteer standing up in a truck bed as a side road entered onto the race course. There was a cone in the middle of the lanes. For a moment my adrenaline addled mind thought "am I at the turnaround??" (actually, it was the turnaround for the juniors) I move to my pods/brakes (USE Tula's have some funky brakes) and start to slow... I'm a bit confused. The volunteer notices that I'm a moron and starts yelling "go go go!" Even after driving the course and knowing the distance I'm still not smart enough to trust I know where to go... Ferdinand Magellan I am not. I curse under my breath at the seconds wasted but there is nothing to do but get tucked in and drive on. I was checking my computer fairly regularly to keep me reigned in on the uphill sections and to remind me I wasn't going hard enough on the downhills. I stayed tucked into my aero position and just continued my rhythm. It had been a while now and I hadn't caught my minute man... that was slightly worrisome but I didn't panic. I also hadn't been caught.  Finally, as the (real) turnaround neared I saw riders in the distance. Then it was like a gate had opened, I passed a duo, then another, and finally another before the turnaround. As I made my U-turn I took the opportunity to grab a swig of water. It wasn't a necessity, but I figured I'd be thankful for it soon as the course was only going to get harder on the trip home. 

At this point I was able to get some bearings of where the rest of the field stood. Everyone that started behind me was still a fairly even to farther distance away from me on the road. I saw Jimmy blazing through and considering how far he started behind me I figured he was having a good ride. I was still feeling pretty good, but my heartrate had been staying pretty steadily in the high 170's low 180's for a good chunk of time. It was sustainable, but I was feeling it. I decided that I'd cut back the power I was averaging on any section of uphill I thought would last over a minute to high 200's instead of low 300's, then I'd use anything I had left at the last climb before the finish. I made another pass at the 10k sign, and got a glimpse, finally, of my minute man. Now I had a target... something that makes the pain just a little more bearable. At this point the course really makes you pay for all that downhill you enjoyed on the way out. Nonetheless, I stuck to my plan and eventually caught my minute man just after the 5k sign. On the next climb he passed me again on the uphill section, and put in a good enough effort that I was unwilling to respond but kept him well within sight as a pacer. Finally after what seemed like forever, we crested the final hill and made a mad dash for the finish tent. (and more importantly, the finish line) I stopped the clock in 51:21, a bit slower than we had predicted (with the help of Bestbikesplit) but still in the "good day" category. Back to the caravan I fueled up as best I could, knowing I'd have to go back out there within the hour to do it all over again. Jimmy finished not long after (51:07) and we went to see how we had placed.

I managed to secure second place in the 4's... missing the top step by under 10 seconds. I knew I had left that 10 seconds out there, maybe by just not slowing down at that one point, definitely by having a better gear ratio. Live and learn... It was fitting a native Georgian stood on the top step in my mind anyways. Jimmy had an even tighter squeeze... He finished in third, under a half second behind second place. Still, a good showing for the Tennessee boys. The ladies of course absolutely dominated... sweeping the top step all around.

After my best attempt at re-fueling/hydrating it was time to return to the start line for the team time trial. Showing up fortunately had already nailed us the top spot on the podium, and at least I was more than a little happy that I wasn't going to have to chase or be chased again. We knew going in that Jimmy would be the stronger of us, so it would have to be up to him to do the larger share of the work. On the one hand you feel a little embarrassed that you can't do more while your buddy is suffering pulling and you're just tagging along, but since time is taken on the second man over the line it's not doing either of us any favors if I kill myself and have to totally limp home while he rides away.  I do the work I can for the first half of the race, we are on a 2 minute rotation and with a little help from the extra rest and the gracious downhill I'm able to help out at least a bit. As we close in on the halfway point I tell Jimmy I'm not going to be able to go much higher than 300 on the climbs, as I'm starting to feel the earlier efforts. At the turnaround Jimmy tells me he's feeling good...  As he takes his pull on the first gradual incline I almost lose contact... "DOWN" I feebly yell, our call signal for distress.  Jimmy takes the lead the majority of the return trip, and although it's certainly helpful to have a wheel in front of you to keep you motivated, it doesn't help nearly as much when you are climbing, as the drafting benefit isn't really there. I take some short pulls on the quick downhills and a couple of flats, but for the most part I'm just trying to keep my legs moving and not cramp up. A little past 5k Jimmy tells me to pull to the 3k sign and he'll get us home. It's hard to believe just how far 2k is on a bike until you're counting off mailboxes, trees, ruts in the road, whatever just to try to pass that time. The road finally straightens out into a false flat and at the end of it is a bright neon "3k" sign. Agonizingly slowly we creep past it and Jimmy takes over. Here the road pitches again pretty much all the way up to the finishing straight, and again I'm close to losing contact although it's clear by my computer that I'm not pushing all that hard. A little under 1k, the final uphill section and I stand up out of aero... a big mistake. My right leg immediately starts cramping. I sit back down and will myself to make a circle with both legs... it works well enough that I don't literally just stop and topple over. Finally we crest and can see the finish tent. It's a fairly long drag and again a slight false flat running up onto it... I give it everything I've got left and we stop the clock at 54:36. 

As we (well I at least) limp back to the car Jimmy suggests we return to the finish line to see the girls 4-person team finish. I agree and make it to the turn in the road downhill before rational thought strikes me "I'm not going up this hill again." I turn around and head back to the car... sorry girls. (They crushed everyone else without me seeing it anyways!) 

So our two man TT was slower than either of our individual efforts. Not unexpected given our fatigue, at least my own. Still, I felt like considering the increase in temperature and wind we put down a pretty solid time for our first venture into team time trialling. A special thanks to my teammate for pulling me along the course, especially while I was hurting.

Overall, It was a good day, very important for ironing out the details for TN States, where hopefully I can improve my podium positioning by a step.

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

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

First TT of the year

Whew... finally it's upon us. Taper week. The Georgia State TT is Saturday, where I'll be doubling up doing the ITT as well as the 2 man TTT (or more like being pulled by Jimmy) which is a long time coming, I'm ready to put some of this training to good use, and full disclosure, I am really ready for an easier week of training! It'll be the first time I've ever attempted a TTT so we'll see how that pacing works out, especially after we've both already done the individual event.

It's also a bit of a last minute taper/prep. The plan originally (well originally it wasn't on my calendar) was to train through it with a mini taper while still focusing on the TN State TT... but since that event is only a few weeks out now and still floating in limbo with no announcement as to whether it is even happening, I thought it was probably best to move my TT build focus forward a few weeks to this event, that way I get a race in that I'm fairly well prepared for regardless of how TN turns out. Ideal, no... but we roll with the punches.

With fancy gold Jagwire link cables

I found a little unicorn a week or so ago as well... the old anodized Cervelo's don't go up for sale all that often for a reasonable price, but I snagged this Soloist in my size and in the best color. I had my eye out for one of these fella's for a while since I have a lot of interchangeable parts from my aluminum P3. I built it up with a lot of stuff from my parts box... 1st gen Omega brakes, a DA7800 crank and FD, some Apex shifters/RD I had planned to use on a cross build. I'm happy with the build, can't wait to hit up some crits on it.

On the Slowtwitch front, Premier bikes was having a little crowd sourcing of a paint job for the Tactical. I submitted two different designs but sadly neither were anything they were looking for. That said, I thought they looked pretty neat so I thought I'd share them.

Camo in general gives me bad memories of the old Quintana Roo's, but I thought the dark blues worked well

I really liked this one. Steel and rivets, calling back to old WWII bombers, or even the Trek TTX with a similar design.

Ahh well, different strokes for different folks and all that.

As for the Giro... well I'll just say that Tuesday was a sh*tty day for Tom Dumoulin. I wonder just how long we can milk that joke? Nothing but respect for him choosing dignity (if you can call stripping and defaming the countryside dignified) over the...other option... Maybe Depends should become a sponsor for the Giro in the future.

Next week... we're gonna have ourselves a race report! Woohoo!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Failure into Forward

It's been a tough few days. That's about all there is to it.
At a certain point in the building process you hit that "wall" where the workouts continue getting harder and despite all signs pointing towards you being able to hit those numbers... your body just decides it doesn't give a shit about reason or science and it just goes stubborn mode on you. At that point your mind starts to enter into that "oh no, we suck again!" thought process and everything just snowballs into a trap of self loathing.  Or is that just me?

Regardless, I've missed a couple of workouts last week (as in, missed goals, not missed doing them) and I'm hoping it's just my body getting used to upped intensity/volume. It's a scary thing for me specifically because missing targets reminds me of overtraining, although this is certainly nothing so dramatic.  Hopefully a day off on Monday kickstarted me back on track and ready to get some work done on target again!

For those of you not following the Giro... spoilers ahead.

Things certainly aren't as we had planned. Yet another incident with a motorbike has really shaken up the GC, and now after the time trial we see that there is some serious damage done. It's definitely too early still to make any bold claims, but I find myself thinking maybe Tom Dumoulin isn't the outside shot winner after all. He has certainly put himself in a good position after Monday's TT... if he can just hold it together the next couple of big climbs it's hard to see much way for even some of the truly gifted climbers to eat away the advantages he can stack up in the time trials. Certainly the way he rode his own pace under Quintana's attacks on Sunday and limited his losses looked promising. Thomas also had a great time trial, almost good enough to slip back into the top 10 overall... it would still take a lot to get him back towards the podium, but if any team has the raw power to do it it's certainly SKY.
 / spoilers

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Slow and Steady

Well, for better or for worse, not much has been happening the last week. The Giro rolls on without fireworks (yet) and personally I am just getting my hours in on the bike counting off the weeks until the State Championship. (Literally 1 month exactly away and we still don't know how long, where at, etc... ridiculous right?)  That's not ideal, but what can you do? It looks like the Georgia state TT is at the end of the month (24mi TT) I may travel down and do that as a warmup.

I tweaked my back on Monday night by leaning over the oven... which hasn't helped my training at all. I'm finally feeling a bit better today, but jeez... getting old sucks. Alas.

Otherwise, I'm afraid it's all steady sailing on the training/racing front. I did pick up an UGEE 1910b tablet to paint with, but that's a little far outside the scope of this blog I think. So, I'll spare you all a long post of me just writing crap and just say, Enjoy watching the Giro.

Until next time, Thanks so much for checking in!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sugru + Bike shoes = something

Last week I did some (slight) bemoaning of what I felt were some downgrades Bont made with the Zero+ over the older Zero, mainly the inclusion of the toe bumper/bash guard. On a practical level I understand how it made it's way onto the shoe (nobody wants to jack up their $400+ Bont's.) but from an aero eyeball standpoint it looks like a clear step backwards.

Comparing it to my DMT P1's (which, I planned to test last weekend but unfortunately it was far too windy to tease out something like this) you can just see how much more "junk" is plastered onto the Bont's. After sulking a bit at the bad fortune of weather I convinced myself that the Bont's were just not on the same playing field regardless, but I figured I could do some slight modifications to try to even up the playing field.

The first thing to go was the toe pad on the bottom of the shoe. Since these are going to be track and/or TT shoes exclusively, there isn't going to be much walking around in them going on. The bulky toe pad just adds some frontal area and realistically with most cleat setups the very front of your shoe is going to be floating in air regardless. I decided to leave the heel pad on as I figured it was much more likely to be a "necessity" than the front. It looked like a simple removal, just one phillips head screw holding it on... in practice though it is also loctite'd on, which along with the previous owners sweat/dirt/road spray/pee(?)/etc they were quite the bear to remove. With enough prying (and disregard for the pads themselves shape after removal) I got them both off in about half an hour, could have been a little faster if I had less concern for the carbon sole.

Unfortunately the front bumper was a little more troubling. It's just loctite'd on, and at least from my inspection looks to be a moderately integral part of the shoe's upper. Being unable to find any pictures of it removed (I guess most people are unwilling to experiment/destroy their high end shoes) I concluded that it's not coming off. So, on to plan B... smooth it out. There were a couple of ways (each with scaling levels of permanency/damage to the shoes) to do it, but honestly I was kind of excited to find a good use for something Heath Dotson turned me onto... Sugru.


Sure, it looks like a late night infomercial product, but I figured I'd give it a go regardless, so after a quick trip to the local Target (and nearly scratching the idea after balking at the price tag on 3 little packs! $11... it had better work!) I was ready to see what kind of mess I could make.

Using Sugru is about as natural as it gets. You rip the little pack open and are greeted with what seems to be a very small amount of Play-doh. Feel is the same as well. There is certainly no indication that you are actually using a moldable glue, that's for sure. It took me roughly a pack for each shoe to cover and smooth out the bumpers. I had enough left over in the second pack that I went back and also smoothed over the little holes in the carbon sole left where the toe pad used to be. I was a bit dubious, as even after 20 minutes or so of messing with it, nothing seemed to be getting any harder. (That's what she said...badabump)

before (back) and after

The next morning they had "cured" and it certainly was no longer Play-doh. Even my (half hearted, I didn't really want to break it off) attempts at chiseling it didn't phase the hardened Sugru.  It certainly seems strong enough to continue it's life as a toe bumper on the shoe, and now it's nice and smooth.

Don't laugh at my molding skills

The question is really did any of this help? If it did help, was it enough for it to actually show up/matter, and even then, is it better than the already very smooth DMT's (or even Specialized Sub6's) My gut still tells me no way, but I'm willing to be wrong, maybe even slightly hopeful since the Bont's actually FEEL a lot nicer than the Specialized or the DMT's. Hopefully I'll get a little nicer weather in the coming week or two and I can get out and test them and finally have the answers.

So, back to Sugru. I used the final pack to fix a couple of things around the house (mostly little bits of my 3D printer that I wanted to semi-permanently - Sugru IS removable - bond.) and it has actually converted me to being a fan. It's slightly expensive for what is primarily "cool" with the side benefit of occasionally being handy, but there are some real uses for it out there in the cycling world. (Heath had mentioned filling in the gap of non-aero speedplay cleats with Sugru... seemed like a good use to me)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Catchup

Well, lots of stuff has taken place since the last post. For one thing I've been on vacation enjoying NOT riding every day. I've found that a week is almost perfect for me, because on the first day or two I am just so excited to be doing nothing, but by the 5th and 6th day I'm just like "shit let me get home so I can ride my bike again!" Similarly the same holds true for eating. My wife told me towards the end of the week "I'm ready to start eating clean again!" Me too. I think of vacation sort of like a pendulum that swings with equal force to how little of that kind of stuff you do normally. When I'm on vacation I treat it like what it is... not real life... and don't sweat things like having a beer with dinner (or two) or ordering fried fish instead of grilled. I soak all that junk in... basically binge and purge. That way when I'm driving home I'm ready to get back to "real life."

it's good to have this view every now and then

That said, I got an amazing bit of swimming in while on vacation. It astounds me that I still feel just like I had never stopped swimming... for the first few minutes... of course then all the muscular fatigue sets in and I feel like I'm dying. Ahh well, at least if I ever decide to start again I won't be coming from absolutely nothing.

Relaxing painting of DEATH waves

I won't bore you too much with vacationing tales... as most of them started and ended with "went to the beach" (unfortunately my poor wife did manage to get sunburned towards the end of the trip and we had to skip the last day or so.) and because a lot has happened in the tri / cycling world over the last two weeks.

The big talking point over the last little while has of course been the independent bike test put on by the Aerocamp fella's (Heath Dotson and Brian Stover) and the very controversial Kileyay (PV) the results of which we are still waiting for. Also, following on the tail end of that, Thomas Gerlach drove down and tested some tire combinations at A2, another gofundme project. It seems like all the rage these days, and perhaps this might be a next step in getting "real" data out to the public.

I admit I donated to PV's project despite not personally liking the way he went about things (Sorry TG, I was on my way to Florida when you announced and my wife probably wouldn't have been happy with me allocating our vacation money to more testing, especially after my own recent trip) because I like the idea of what is happening and what it might mean in the future. That said, my guess is that all of this is a lot of thunder without much actual storm. For one thing, the number of people who actually truly care which bike is fastest, whether disc brakes are slow or whether the "data" given to us from manufacturers is fudged is VERY low.  Most bike buying decisions even by the most serious of athletes really boils down to finding some kind of justification for the one you really want deep down (it's more comfortable, it's faster, it's stiffer, it stops better, etc etc) so in all honesty, we don't really WANT the fastest bike (as shown by the quick demise of the P4) we want the bike that we WANT to be the fastest, and we'll accept pretty much anything that lends us some justification.

There is also the unfortunate fact that while I'm of the opinion that when testing things like this you pick the "best compromise" between all the bikes and just accept that you can't have a 100% level playing field... there are going to be many that ruthlessly attack the protocol  no matter how cleverly Heath and Brian (and Geoff) set it up.  While most of that is noise and not substance, it will do a job of keeping the truly useful stuff hidden in a quagmire of trolling forum posts, somewhat ironic given PV's history.

I've got a little testing of my own upcoming. I'm interested in knowing which of the "aero shoes" out there is the fastest. (well... of the one's I could afford... I didn't set up a gofundme, probably foolishly)  I suspect there won't be much difference (none of them are the Bont Chrono, which Aerocoach tested 4w better than the Bont Riot... and the Chrono is a very aggressive shape) but I am quite interested to see if there is any repeatable difference. The lineup
-Bont Zero+
-Specialized Sub6
-Fizik R3 road shoes (control)

Showdown in progress

My guess is that the DMT P1 will be best. It's smooth and the laces are covered with a zipper. I had thought beforehand that maybe it would be the Bont's, but after having them in my hands they are just BIG shoes. Very wide, with a clunky flap (when compared to the DMT's) however, they do feel amazing, and I haven't heat molded them yet. I'm not sure about the Sub6's... on the one hand, the laces are probably worse without a cover (because of silly rules, the sleeve, which isn't a part of the shoe isn't allowed, but the zip up dmt's or flap on the Bont's is fine... silly UCI) but the shoe itself is very narrow, strikingly so against the almost clown shoe size of the Bont's. The R3's with their ratchets and straps hanging off just have to be the worst, but I'll test them anyways, always good to have a control if nothing else.
aside - I don't understand Bont's thinking on the updated Zero+... adding the toe bumper (the original zero was lacking it) seems like a big mistake except for longevity w/ toe overlap. The cover flap fitting over top of the boa dials also seems way worse than how it would fit over laces... but we'll see.  /aside

And of course it's back to hitting it hard on the bike now that I've had my week of being lazy. States is not far off and I have high hopes to at least have a better day than I did last year. So, back to the grind.

Thanks so much for reading, it's good to be back to writing (if you can call it that) a bit.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Giro Aerohead MIPS

The Arrowhead Aerohat Aerohead. Few Helmets are as striking, and very rarely do they come with such high praise before release. It's no secret that I have a thing for aero lids and an almost sickness for looking for just a couple more "free" watts here and there... so when I read Jim Manton (ERO) had tested it better on everyone he put it on, I paid attention.

Rohan has set some impressive times in the Aerohead (and not in it as well)

The danger of claims like that (as you should know if you are a follower of this blog) is that blanket statements like that are dangerous. It's certainly NOT the best helmet for EVERYONE. We are all too different, if only slightly. But that said, it is certainly in contention for the most consistently good helmet offered right now.  I've seen nobody (again, dangerous terminology) test it that it wasn't in the top3 best helmets they put on.

So, let's talk about it... there's more to a helmet than being fast, right?

The Good
The good news is that there is a lot to like about this helmet. For me personally (and for many of you as well) the start and end of pretty much everything dealing with a helmet will be whether or not it's fast. In that regard I would guess it will be tough (not impossible) to beat. In my own n=1 example I tested most of the "fast" helmets against it at A2. In the end, the Aerohead was a clear winner (size medium, beating the next closest, a size small Specialized TT04, by a couple of watts) with the only questions left out there (currently) being either the eye wateringly priced Aerohead Ultimate, the astronomically priced  Crux (Team GB 2012) helmet or the not yet released Kask helmet we saw on Froome at the end of last year. (A longer tailed Bambino, close to the Crux design)

Of course that is only for me... As I alluded to above, some very smart guys (including Jim at Ero and Brian / Heath from Aerocamp) pretty much agree that the Aerohead tests "very well" on most everyone. I wrote not too many weeks ago about the importance of doing your own testing, but also mentioned that if you were unwilling/able to do your own testing, a good fall back is to pick something that does well on a wide variety of people. In the case of helmets, I think the Aerohead is high on that list, if not at the top.

Whether you believe MIPS technology is a huge step forward or just a fancy acronym, I can't think of any reasons not to at least be lukewarm to the fact that it's included in the helmet design.

Many helmets use magnets to attach the visor, but Giro really got it right. The magnets they use are powerful and locked in place. "Finding" the right spot for the visor (both down or flipped up) to sit is very easy, as a corner quickly locks and then pulls the rest in place. After dealing with snap on visors or (even worse) the old glued on magnets, it's refreshing to find one that just works without a bunch of hassle.

snapped up

normal position note the long powerful magnets

Another thing that's pretty nice is the price. At $250, it sits as the cheapest buy in the "superhelmet" category, slightly cheaper than other good options like the POC or Specialized. It's not a big price drop, but considering what they could have priced this helmet it's refreshing not to just be getting heavily price gouged.

The Bad
The visor, despite being well thought out, is not really an optional piece of equipment with the Aerohead. Sure, you can pull the Taylor Phinney and ditch it, but at that point you're better off wearing another helmet. So despite it seeming pretty nice to be able to remove it quickly, you really won't be. The exception to this is in the case that the visor fogs up. I wipe down my visors with anti-fog as a precaution, but in the even that it happens it's not nearly so catastrophic as it would be in a lot of helmets with visors, where you simply have to choose no visibility or ditching the visor and hoping to pick it up later. Still, that's not ideal.

Phinney seemingly ditched his visor (from fogging up likely) halfway at the 2016 US Nats.

Another negative rolls back around to pricing. Sure, Giro cut a few bucks off the price, but they also don't give you much in the way of accessories. Most of the other aero helmets come with a carrying bag (or even a hard shell in some cases) and at least a clear visor to swap to. The Aerohead comes with some extra padding and that's it. The Ultimate does include a hard shell and clear visor, but at double the price. Supposedly both are going to be made available for purchase separately, but so far I haven't seen either listed on Giro's website. (This could be because of the visor redesign, see below)

Using my old selector bag to transport the Aerohead... not ideal with the visor

Heat and Weight aren't things that I normally factor in much to my helmet purchases, but if you do, then both segments are likely negatives. The helmet is fairly heavy (the heaviest aero lid I have just by my rudimentary "pick up" test.) which is somewhat surprising since a lot of the "helmet" is really the visor. I guess in most other helmets that space the visor fills up is really nothing more than a plastic fairing... As far as getting hot... I personally don't think it's anything especially warm, but I've seen that cited multiple times in different people's opinion of the helmet, so it's worth mentioning if you're prone to overheat.

The Ugly
Besides the helmet itself?  (It is a... "striking" design)

Giro has had a couple of hiccups with the helmet. The original release (check your date) had a lot of complaints about the visor digging sharply into some folks cheeks. That (I'm guessing) has delayed some of the optional pieces being released (like the different tint visors) as Giro has had to re-work the visor for the next batch. To their credit they will send you the (slightly) adjusted visor if your date matches up free of charge.

Fogging is the other issue that can get ugly. You can find endless discussions and recommendations about prevention online, and mostly I've found the "common" ones to work pretty well, but not flawlessly. Sometimes it seems like it's inevitable.  That's definitely something to consider. The other (current as of 4/12/17) issue is the lack of visor options. The dark lens is great on sunny days, but is pretty lacking in overcast/rainy days and also indoors or at night. This is a problem that is likely soon to be solved, but as of today it's not.

Final Thoughts

If you're just going to be guessing what helmet is best, I think the Aerohead is a very safe bet. The wrap around visor gives a nice full view and the MIPS *could* help save your noggin. There's a lot to like in the Aerohead's rebirth (Lemond was using the original in '89) so I'd say it should definitely be on your radar. As always with anything aero, it would be best to test it yourself, but if not... it's a smart guess.

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Putting it all together

I've been hard at work. With our vacation looming in the near (less than two weeks, thankfully) future, I've made it a goal to get all of my bikes in perfect operating order in need of basically nothing. When you've got a full garage of bikes, that's a pain in the butt and a lot of work, but I'm making headway. I'm down to just cleaning up my road bike and replacing the derailleur hanger on my wife's cross bike.

So what have I been up to?

As you can probably figure out for yourself, cabling the Speed Concept has taken the lion's share of the time. As if a regular cabling job isn't enough of an annoyance on any "superbike" I wanted to up the ante a little bit by insisting on using my Nokon's and to really amp it up, set the brakes up with the USE Tula's. Nightmare mode for sure. (I've even found a couple of bends nokons will not allow you to make! Great!) Really though, despite the Gen1 SC's having some...not so well thought out designs (having to remove the rear brake to re-cable the rear derailleur is laughably annoying.) it's not that bad once you've played around with it a few times. That said, if this cabling job can last me all season, I'll be thankful.

While I've got my Fuji dialed in for endurance work on the track, I started thinking maybe it would be nice to have a bike specifically set up for mass start events. Well, my aluminum P3 was sitting on the garage floor looking awful pathetic not built up, so I figured it would continue it's faithful service by being my new pursuit bike.

Despite the fact that the paint would chip and crack at every available opportunity, I had some real trouble stripping this thing bare, even using some pretty nasty chemicals. Following that it was sanding it down (320/400/600 sandpaper, then a finishing pad) and polishing the heck out of it (Eagle One and Mothers) something I picked up polishing Torque Thrust wheels many years ago. Bringing out the shine in aluminum is a black hole... you can literally obsess over it forever and still not get it perfect... this is going to be a "beater" so I got it 5 footer smooth and waxed it. You can tell it's not quite on par with the bars, but meh, it's good enough.

It's not only the bicycles that have been getting put through their paces... I haven't let my 3d printer sit idle either. The problem is that I run through a lot of filament on designs that are "close" but eventually just are a few mm out of spec. It's annoying, but I'm getting a little better at it.

These plugs were just fun little things I made with our (Podium Sports) logo on them. Certainly not the bleeding edge of what is possible with a 3D printer, but hey, might has well add some bling where you can.

This on the other hand is something actually pretty useful. Since it's a no-no to have the computer in a visible area on the track, I created this handy dandy mount to fit behind the saddle of my Fuji, in matching blue filament of course.  Having one made (a real pain because most track mounts are Garmin specific) is closing in on a Benjamin, so I count that as offsetting the cost of my 3D printer! (At least that's what I told my wife!)

It's a little tougher to see exactly what you should be looking at in this picture, but it's actually an (extremely) low stack dust cap. I didn't have any 1" caps that were low enough to work with my Cervelo, so I took a measurement or two and bam! Perfect fit.

So I've been pretty busy the last few days. I'm also quite excited to head out on vacation... but there is still a lot of work to be done between now and then... Next week I may just have a new review up unless I get distracted between now and then!

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

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why Testing is important - The Outliers

Another theory blog? It looks like it. Seems like lately I've just had a lot of heavy stuff coming down on top of me that needs put into words. (Heavy for bike related stuff, not real life stuff)

If you like to nerd out on bike stuff (and, if you are still reading this blog I assume that has to be at least relatively true) then I'd say there is a very, very good chance you have either googled, posted on a forum or asked a friend / competitor "what is the best xxxx." Whether xxxx is helmet, shoes, bike, wheels, tires... whatever. And you almost certainly got an answer... more likely if you asked on a forum you got a LOT of answers, and a lot of contradictory ones as well.  Now, the overwhelming majority of those answers will come from a place of "I use/like this so I recommend it" or, slightly better they have read and regurgitated that x piece of equipment regularly tests better than y. Very few have actually done testing, of those even fewer have tested on a sample size other than themselves, and none have tested that piece of equipment on YOU.

So, you will find yourself at a crossroads with three possible paths to take.

  1. Just pick the one you like the best. This one requires the absolute least work on your part... and nonetheless, this is often a suggestion even I give people, because when it boils down to it if you are spending your hard earned money on this or that piece of kit, you have to like it. Buying a much faster aero helmet won't do you any good if you don't pick it up to use it in races because of whatever reason that "really" boils down to you not liking it.
  2. You do some research and pick the one that seems to be "best" on the most people. This is really just playing the odds and hoping that you are NOT an outlier. It requires a bit of effort on your part as you need to dig through quite a bit of information to find these kinds of things. A good example is aero helmets... most of the modern Giro helmets test very well on a wide variety of people, so it's a safe recommendation if you are in the market for an aero helmet to just pick up the one you can afford (A2's run under $100, Selectors a slight bit more and Aeroheads in the mid $200's) and bank on the "it's good for more people than it's bad for" odds. You obviously don't "know" you fit into that category, but it's probably the best you can do for a guess.
  3. Personal testing. There are many methods of individual testing, and when it boils down to it, most of them are relatively effective at giving a clear answer as to whether A or B is better. These methods each have their own benefits and negatives and can wildly vary in cost and accuracy. The "gold standard" is of course the wind tunnel, where you'll spend a couple of hundred dollars per hour but will get an accurate number with the minimal amount of heavy lifting required by you. There is velodrome testing that ERO and Aerocoach have made popular as an alternative to tunnel testing, generally a bit cheaper but with slightly more variables. Then there is the "at home" testing, the (currently) best of which is the Chung method. This will require at least a little work by you to figure out how to actually sort through the data, and you'll need a (accurate) power meter, something most of the semi serious athletes will already have access to. Seemingly the hardest part of Chung testing is actually convincing someone to take the time to go out and do it. If a power meter isn't in the budget, there is always the old fashioned rolldown test... which doesn't take any "extra" equipment other than a friend, a stopwatch and a hill... and the patience to do many, many repeats to try and eliminate botched data. Some of the old school guys used to take pictures from the front then cut out their silhouette and weigh it to measure frontal area (now much easier with something like photoshop) although frontal area is limited in what it tells. 

Personal testing is great for everyone, but it's especially important if you are the outlier. (See the circle of life coming together here? How do you know you are the outlier...) For most people, I think the Rudy Wing 57 is not a terribly great choice for an aero lid. Nonetheless, Rudy 50% discount codes abound and it's a very popular helmet. Most of the people I help with their testing find that the Wing57 is not great for them. On the flip side, the Aerohead is consistently the #1 helmet for folks. So it's my go to suggestion when people blind ask "what helmet." Nonetheless, an athlete just this weekend tested them head to head... the winner? The Wing57. In this case, If she had went with option 1 or 3 (which she did) she'd have gotten the best helmet. If she'd listened to me (option 2) she'd have picked a slower helmet. So you can see the dangers in randomness and in taking someone's (even good) judgment as truth.

I really got this reinforced into my head at the wind tunnel this past trip. I had a custom Nopinz supersuit that I had ordered last year that I had been wearing in my A-races. The thing was very difficult to get into, so I never took it out to my loop and field tested it, I just assumed it was a great suit. When I took it to the tunnel... I was giving up about 10 watts vs. my "backup" Castelli Bodypaint 2.0.  I was shocked. So every time it really mattered in a race I was penalizing myself 10 watts. Even the pastor needs the gospel reinforced to him every now and then.

Thank you guys for reading! I really appreciate it! Now go test!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Triathletes and Reach

This week, I'm just going to ramble off into some musings about stuff I've noticed... Let this be your disclaimer that I'm not a certified fitter, professional, expert, guru or anything else you might attach some fancy title to... I'm just an athlete that pays attention and likes to go faster. Take any "wisdom" from this post at your own risk.

As I have made a transition into the world where staying UCI legal pertains to me, it has given me a new appreciation for how much I really liked a "long" bike. Primarily because now I have a limit on it.

It's something difficult to convey in pictures, especially my own because even now I attempt to "scam" the system by riding very far back on my saddle rails, which effectively "stretches" the reach once more. Here's a few pictures of my position over the years.
Circa 2012/13 still very much a triathlete Saddle is slammed as far forward as possible on a P3 w/ a long cockpit to keep a pretty good amount of reach

Much later (2016) my hands are still way over limit and my I'm still a few cm in front of the bb with a long front end.
Current. Saddle 8cm behind the bb extensions just a little behind the 80cm line.

 Like I said, the progression of my own is kind of masked by how much farther I end up traveling backwards to "emulate" the same stretching out. It's a little more obvious between pictures 2 & 3 above, as you can see just how much further (on the same saddle) I am sitting on my Fuji. (not to mention how much further back on the rails it is)

I'm limited as to what I can do now. It's go backwards or get more compact. Why go backwards to accommodate such a stretched front end? To go faster of course. In my own experience, reach is an excellent way to shift/remove two very big cylinders (your upper arms) from hitting the air head on. But if that's true, why are so many folks that have no "guidelines" to follow so compact. Specifically triathletes, who can ride pretty much anything / way they want. I'm not suggesting for the general population to go full on superman... but they literally aren't restricted from it. The position above is nothing new, the "deep/down diver" has been around long before I was ever turning cranks. Here is one fellow who knew a bit about going fast

What a beast, right?

So if guys are trying to stretch out under the watchful eyes of "big brother" and doing some extreme stuff to get there, why aren't the guys that have no rules?

I've been helping some athletes the last few weeks to get faster... that is, more aero on the bike. One common theme I have is that the guys/gals that want to do races where they *might* have to pass a jig are ALWAYS beyond the 80cm length limit. (These athletes, as a disclaimer, are already very, very fast and have almost to a rule come to lengthen their cockpit on their own before ever talking to me)  This usually ends up with us moving them backwards on the saddle and in some cases going the more extreme/costly route of putting them on di2/etap to get them a couple more cm. (Don't get me started on how you measure mechanical shifters...:rolleyes:)

What I've found very interesting is that most of my triathletes are very near meeting the 80cm rule without any prodding. (or necessity) Look at a state level TT'er, arms are very obtuse (like Obree's / mine) look at a triathlete, that same angle is almost always 90° on the dot (or within a couple degree)

I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus (even some random off of google search) by posting "look at this position, isn't it meh!" but you can do a search of your own "triathlete bike position" into google will bring you hundreds of examples. You'll see some outliers, but you are also going to see a whole lot of "90°/115°/150°" folks out there as well.  I suppose it makes sense, as there are so many fit "systems" that basically revolve around this, and as no surprise, almost all of them are focused towards triathletes.

Sure, you can search for "TT bike fit" or even "track bike fit" but the interesting thing is that in either of those searches you will come up with a lot less info. In fact, TT bike fit will almost certainly just bring you results for a tri bike fit, as the two are so often lumped together despite being truely different disciplines. For track fit... well you'll basically get a couple of tips on slightly adjusting your road bike / tt (tri) bike fit...maybe.

Am I going to put a tri fit system (I won't pick any out in particular, as most follow very similar guidelines) on blast. Absolutely not.  I think some very good, efficient fits come out of them, whether it's FIST, Guru, BG, about 1000 websites, whatever. They have excellent broad guidelines to get pretty much everyone into a "decent" position that is relatively sustainable. Unfortunately, that's often where the fit ends for the majority of people. Instead of a tool, it's often used as a crutch by the person doing the fit, which is why you see so many athletes in cookie cutter positions. Certainly, as I've said before, you shouldn't necessarily have a long distance triathlete and a 25mi TT'er in the same position, but neither should be limited by a system that isn't taking them specifically into consideration.  I know 90° supposedly is the easiest way to support your upper body skeletally... but in practice it's often not any more difficult for somebody to support themselves at a much more obtuse angle. The key is to experiment and not be a slave to a system or the accepted common knowledge.

Andrew Coggan said this many years ago, and I still believe it's one of the quickest ways to get into a "fast" position with minimal input.

 If my goal were to set myself up
in an aero position with minimal drag and I didn't have access to a wind
tunnel, I'd just drop the elbow pads far enough down below the saddle
that my shoulders (acromion process) were within a couple of inches of
being level with my hips (head of greater trochanter), move the elbow
pads in to where my arms were as narrow or perhaps narrower than my
thighs when viewed from the front, tilt the aero bars up
ever-so-slightly, and keep my head down. I'd then go out and ride the
bike - hard - in that position and see how far foward (and thus up) I
needed to move the saddle to where my thigh-torso angle was similar to
the "working position" on my road bike. I'd then ride the TT bike for at
least one hour - hard! - each week for at least 6 weeks before any race.
Sounds crude, I know, but for a flat TT this neanderthal approach will
probably get you to within about 1 km/h of your maximal speed.

That's pretty much what I did above. I'm of the impression that this works well for just about everyone, with enough time to adapt to it. Don't take that as me saying "use this, not this" system. I'm just sharing ways people have been doing it for many years, but the vast majority of athletes do not know.

My whole point of this post (if there is one) is that we spend tons of income on go fast goodies that we hope will make us faster. Helmets, cranks, bearings, chain lube, etc (all great things) but for those of us without "limits" (again, speaking of UCI) - basically all triathletes and *most* non-elite level time trialists - maybe we should start looking at how we can make our bodies the big improvement. Don't be afraid to experiment... take measurements of where your position you are comfortable with is RIGHT NOW, then experiment slowly with changes. Maybe you'll hate it, in which case you can go back to your original setup... but maybe you'll like it. Maybe it'll make you slower... maybe faster. Never settle... continue exploring and looking for something better!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock