Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another s725 Review

This review comes from cyclingnews.com. A good writeup and I completely agree with the downsides they point out.

Updated Sites

I just came across a couple of sites that have been revamped for '05:

Friday, November 26, 2004

Identity Crisis

I realized that having separate blogs dedicated to different subjects is stupid, so I'm going to shut down the tech blog and enter all tech related entries right here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Christmas Dreamin'

While I was riding home the other night I passed a yard selling Christmas trees that wasn't open earlier in the week. I'm pretty sure I must have blinked and missed Thanksgiving so I started thinking... what would my dream road bike setup look like? Let's see:

Frameset:
Cannondale Six13
It would be easy to go with a spiffy Trek frame or something handmade by an old man in Italy, but I think I'll stick with the highly rated American frames that have performed so well for me.

Wheels:
Zipp Z3 and Zipp Z4
Naturally one wheelset won't suffice. The Z3 is a good all around choice and the Z4 for those times when you need something a bit more aero. Of course I'd go with tubulars in both cases because we're in dreamworld and I can pay someone to install the damn things. I'm sure the advantage of the ceramic bearings in these are well worth the ridiculous price. ;) (I think they are > $3k these days)

Crankset:
FSA K-Force MegaExo and SRM Power Meter
Once again, two are better than one. It would have been easy to go with a Dura-Ace or Record crank, but I'll give the nod to FSA. Their updated carbon crank has adopted the external bearing sported by Dura-Ace and looks sweet. The SRM crank will serve as my power meter for training, though I'd be willing to bet this setup would be light enough to run it in competition.

Brakes:
Zero Gravity
Why be boring and go with a standard set of brakes? These things make Dura-Ace brakes look like a hunk of lead.

Derailleurs:
Shimano Dura-Ace

Cassette:
Shimano Dura-Ace
If only SRAM made a 10 speed cassette...

Pedals:
Speedplay Zero
I love my pair. For the dream machine I'd upgrade to the titanium model.

Shifters:
Shimano Dura-Ace

Saddle:
Fi'zi:k Arione

Seat Post:
Specialized Pave'
It would be easy to pick the classic Thompson Elite seatpost, or maybe an Easton carbon post, but I'll go with the new Specialized post which integrates a vibration dampener

Headset:
Chris King

Handlebar/Stem:
Full Speed Ahead Plasma

Monday, November 15, 2004

Weights Limits 2

Cyclingnews apparently had a big reactions to their article on weight limits. They have posted a variety of opinions on their site, including a post from yours truly (for the limit, against, on the fence (mine is here)).

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bike Weight Limits

The current minimum weight for a road bike, according to the UCI, is around 15 lbs. What was once a virtually impossible weight to achieve can now be purchased at your local bike shop. It isn't cheap, but it's there for the taking. Bike manufacturers have been increasing the pressure on the UCI to reduce the weight minimum. This was the topic of an interesting article over on cyclingnews.

I have a split view on the subject. As someone that loves technology, I love seeing manufacturers continue to push the bounds of cycling technology. It's also why I love Formula 1. They push technology to absolute extreme. However, as a racer I appreciate the fact that money can buy speed, and there is only so much money I can invest in this hobby. I believe amateur racers should be on a level playing field, both physically (through the category system) and financially.

When I raced radio controlled cars as a kid there were two classes, stock and modified. Racers in the stock class all used the same, inexpensive motor. You weren't allowed to tamper with it in any way. Modified class racers, on the other hand, could buy any type of motor they wanted and tweak it in any way they wanted -- a much more expensive proposition. Both classes had great competition, which is ultimately what matters.

There are similar types of people in bike racing, but no stock and modified classes. This is most visible at amateur time trials. Equipment can make such a difference in a time trial that money literally can buy speed. If a guy rolls to the start line with a time trial frame, aero wheel package, and full apparel package and I show up with my standard road kit, he will toast me if we are of the same physical ability. Even worse, he might be able to beat me even if I'm in better shape! Is it fair that he wins because he is willing and capable of spending more money?

So what can be done? At amateur levels, I believe regulations need to be put in place to limit financial differences. Time trials should be conducted on the same bike you ride in a road race. Perhaps the only addition would be a set of aero bars. Nothing else, keep it cheap and simple. As for bike limits, I propose increasing the weight minimum to 16 or 17 lbs for amateur races. A person should be able to go into a bike shop, spend a reasonable amount of money and have a bike that is every bit as competitive as the top guys in the peloton.

As for the pros, drop the weight limit. Manufacturers will continue to push techology and keep things interesting. Amateur riders could still purchase they latest ultra light bike, but would just have to add weight for competition.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Creepy Night

Tonight's ride takes the cake as the creepiest I've ever had. I chose to throw a loop around a nearby lake into my route home. Certain parts of the road surrounding the lake are totally wooded with no homes or street lights. And, there is almost never a car around so it's just you and the darkness. Today's twist was the heaving evening fog which had settled on the area. This is pretty typical for this area at this time of year, so it wasn't unexpected, but creepy nonetheless.

As I rode around the lake my headlight cast an eerie shadow on everything and lit up the fog with a ghostly glow. I figured one of two things was going to happen. I was going to be abducted by aliens or some freaky creature was going to appear in the middle of the road in front of me. Well, nothing appeared in front of me, so I think I might have been abducted. I don't remember anything, but that's always how these things start. Maybe in time I'll find out what really happened tonight.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Not meant to be

Even though I said winter was here, I was happy that winter decided to take today off. Relatively mild temperatures (high 50's, low 60's) and no rain (even a little sun!) promised to make for a great riding day. I only had 1:30 scheduled, so I headed out to a more remote area (the Snoqualmie Valley) for today's ride. The riding was as good as you can get for this time of year. My only gripe is that all of the farmers in the area were burning piles of leaves and sticks, leaving a low cloud of blueish smoke filling the valley. I'm sure that was wonderful on the lungs. Maybe I should have stayed home, smoked a few packs and watched football.

Anyway, on the way home my rear tire went flat. It took me a while to get the change completed because the damn wire bead tire was so difficult to get back on the rim. After finally getting it on and verifying I had all of my finger tips I proceeded to a CO2 cartridge to inflate the job. I popped a new cartridge into the "pump" and started to struggle with screwing the whole contraption together. Normally this is dead simple, but after a few minutes I was still struggling. Opting to not be the typical male and use brute force (it was really hard to resist the instinct) I took a closer look. It turned out the C02 cartridge was just a tad too large for the holder. I couldn't believe it! A manufacturing defect? Just plain sloppyness? Who knows, I was screwed. I called in the reserves to take me home.

After I got back I was checking out the bike and noticed that on top of everything, the rear wheel is totally bent. I don't get it. The wheel is a virtually new, heavy, cheap 32 spoke training wheel. Nothing fancy. I've been the hell out of my racing wheel and they don't wobble at all. Now I'm trying to decide if I should pay to have this thing fixed or just invest in a wheel truing stand. While I'm at it, I think I'll be giving up the C02 cartridges for a mini-pump. They've let me down before and whatever cool factor they offer just ain't worth it.

Oh, remember I said I was scheduled for 1:30? My stopwatch was at exactly 1:30 when I pulled off to change the tire...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Winter is here, Part 2

Fully equipped with my brighter than the sun HID headlight, I decided to take a spin around Mercer Island during my commute home. For those of you that don't know, Mercer Island sits in the middle (kinda) of Lake Washington, which is just east of Seattle. The shores of Lake Washington are dotted with the homes of Seattles rich (and sometimes famous). Mercer Island is no exception, except since it sits in the middle of the lake, the rich get to look at each other. One of the islands more notable residents is Paul Allen, of Microsoft fame. If you have a spare 40 million, there is nice cottage available on the island.

What does this have to do with the ride home? I don't know... other than the fact that the island has very few street lights on the twisty, tree lined road that runs its perimeter. It was dark and cold, but at the same time fun and peaceful. I could get used to this... now if only we could do something about the rain.

Oh, my biggest gripe is that I can't see my damn HRM in the dark. Doing a structured workout is a tad more difficult now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

New Blog

All kinds of tech ramblings with hopefully a bit more traffic than here:
http://dougstech.blogspot.com