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