Friday, February 27, 2009

Tech Tips: 3rd Eyes, Bats, and much more!

You never stood a chance against this. Sure, you've purchased mass quantities of eBay quality aero frames, fancy wheels that even lawyers can't afford, and you've consulted with Dr. Lim from Garmin Slipstream. However, my bike make yours look like it's going backwards. My bike makes yours tremble with fear. Why? Because MY BIKE SPAWNED A BAT. I don't know how it happened, but who am I to ask questions of this sort? I refuse to elaborate. Deal with it.

I don't suppose that I can dissuade any of you from disassembling your drive train a week before the season, can I? When I was first starting to race, I remember one of the senior riders telling us not to pull a "Joe Kopena" and take our brakes apart the day before the race. Ask him how that worked out. If it works now it will work in a week. Lube and clean until you get dizzy from the fumes, but please try not to play mechanic the day before the race. It keeps us all safe.

Something I would recommend would be to make use of a "chain keeper." It involves an uninvasive procedure whereby you slip a plastic ring with a knob underneath your front derailluer which prevents your chain from "dropping" off of the little ring onto your bottom bracket. You're not Christian Vande Velde, and you likely can't catch the peloton after a dropped chain. So if you've got $10, get yourself a "Third Eye" or "Dog Fang" or whichever brand you like and save your race. In case you think it's not pro to rock one of these, look closely at some of the pro bikes featured on

Also, I have to mention how excited I am to start the season. Thanks in advance to Joe and Caitlin, the race directors, John Frey and Velocity Results, the USAC officials, the riders, and everyone else who makes the ECCC possible. Special thanks to Rutgers and Princeton for being awesome and keeping this thing real (and no aero!). Remember, it's a long season so BE SAFE. Be smart, keep your head up, ride predictably, don't be unnecessarily agressive, hold your line (BU!), and don't forget to get the hell out of your team van, put the Calculus book down, and watch the other races! See you there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Goin' back to Philly

Just got back from an awesome weekend in Philly. Long story short, Philly is better than Boston. I have many reasons for this statement, but I'll limit my explanation to four letters: BYOB. Philly has plenty of 'em, and it's always fun to find a great place and have an awesome dinner on the cheap. This past Sunday we discovered an excellent Greek place called Effie's on 11th and Pine. I was lucky enough to have the company of two ECCC veterans; Caitlin Thompson (the real brains behind the ECCC, pictured above) and my former teammate and cycling life-coach Adam Leman from Drexel. We walked into the place with an entourage of 9, and instantly clogged the "waiting" area, which was a 10' x 8' room that contained 4 small tables, a cash register, and the....uh, kitchen. SMALL. However, after a few minutes of dodging the wait staff, we were taken away to a private dining area which seemed like a converted stable room with independant heating and music. How sweet is that? Three bottles of wine later, Caitlin told me how lame my blog is while Adam and I complained about the disjointed schedule for the upcoming Rutgers / Princeton opener. ITT at Rutgers, then a crit at Princeton? Really? Later, a few of us wound up at a natical themed bar called "Misconduct." Really?

More importantly, the weekend was the end of our last "build" period of our training schedule. My legs are wrecked. Saturday I decided to do some cross-training by running around a park for an hour, and Sunday I went out for a hilly ride with Adam. I could barely keep up with him on the infamous Philly rollers as my legs felt absolutely swollen. We thanked God that Joe Kopena wasn't with us, as we fondly remembered how much he loves to ride casually for a few hours only to bury himself up hills to embarras us at the top. However, he was busy "UNH-proofing" the house for some visitors later that night. I hope nobody was harmed.

Finally, I decided to warranty my Cannondale frame. The "cosmetic" cracks around the top and down tubes are unacceptable for such a high-quality frame. I've owned 3 Cannondales now (2 deceased thanks to a car and an Army rider), and I'm starting to doubt their quality control. Thankfully, my brother is lending me his sweet Bianchi carbon frame in the meantime. However, I forgot how much of a pain it is to build up a bike in a day- brake bolts need to be swapped, housing doesn't fit neatly, and the front mech is a narrower diameter...bummer. $35 at Landry's solved most of my problems this morning, but I'm sure more issues will come up. Who needs brakes anyway? Either way, like Andy Schleck would do for his older brother Frank, Collin has surrendered his machine for the taller, better-looking older brother. Thanks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My own personal Zabel

I'm absolutely ashamed to admit I've never seen "Hell on Wheels," the documentary about Team Telekom's 2003 Tour de France...until now. Highly recommended for several reasons. First, it's mostly in German, which is a language that clearly lends itself to suffering. Second (and I'm going out on a limb here), there is no Liggett / Sherwin commentary whatsoever. I love them both like English fathers, but watching the tour without them is sobering to say the least. Third, the massage scenes are both gratuitous and thought-provoking. Whether Zabel is speaking of his 'bromance' with Rolf Aldag or crying about Ale-Jet's recent victory, his wisdom shines through like Kloden's farmers tan.

Without doubt, today's ride must be dedicated to Zabel-esque sprinting. The schedule must be cleared, all climbing must be heavily frowned upon, and elbows must be placed firmly outside of the vehicle. Only one question remains: what to sprint for? In the great state of Massachusetts, there are so many town lines suitable for such an endeavor. But Zabel would demand something special. Perhaps this would provide that extra motivation:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You down with FTP?

It's pained me not to go outside today, with temperatures hitting the HIGH 30's in Boston. However, I needed to test my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) once again to see how things are going. The results were somewhat encouraging, with a 20-minute average of 311 Watts. Subtract 5% to get a FTP value of 295.5 Watts. Hopefully I can bring that number up a little bit before the season, but I'm much more concerned with topping off my shorter efforts (5 sec, 1 min, 5min) for the upcoming ECCC races. For that purpose, we have Natan here at BU. He's got a mean sprint right now, but I'll have his number the next time we cross those much-feared Dover town lines...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cracked! Ok, so not really- it's just the clear coat. But do I really need to worry about a possible bike frame warranty a month out of the season? Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but the crack happens to be right where the carbon and aluminum are bonded. Boston winters are brutal on bicycle frames and components, but I've never considered riding a "beater" frame when the temperature drops mostly because of (1) cost and (2) significant changes in geometry. Thankfully, I shouldn't miss a day on the bike so no worries!