Thursday, November 26, 2009

Training ride...

Ok, trained on the Fortius last night. Not feeling too great from the flu and all that, so I did a short (and thankfully flat) bit of the Milano San Remo. Tried to keep it in lowish gears as the moment I tried to up the power the legs immediately fell apart.

Here are the stats (at least, the bits I wrote down)...

1. distance: 24.8 km
2. average speed: 32.2 km p/h
3. average watts: 151
4. average rpms: 93

Have to admit that I like the Fortius more each time I use it. Impressive how I am not considering suicide - the 40-ish minutes I spent on the trainer just flew by!

So, it ended up being a nice agility workout... good to get the heart pumping and keep the legs spinning. No soreness in the legs today. Always a good thing.

Should be able to go for a longish ride tomorrow (off work) if the weather holds (threatening rain)...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planning for crazy ideas in 2010...

Sicilia No Stop 2010 itinerary

No training last night due to feeling generally miserable, with a lagging earache that won't go away and a sore throat that made me sound like Godzilla when I spoke. Then my wife said it made me sound manly. My daughters giggled and nodded gravely. I puffed up my chest in pride, thinking "... cool, I am a manly sounding man". Fits with the Italian macho image and all that, ya know.

Then I pondered what the comment said about the way my voice must sound normally...

So, with that out of the way, let us return to more germane (or at least, slightly less embarrassing) issues. As I am not cycling today, I will do the next best thing. Plan epic rides with all of you out there on the
intrawebz. :-)

Reading the Italian Cycling Journal, I came across the announcement of the 2010 1,000 km Sicilian Brevet ride. The website, still only in Italian, is here.

For those of you who are not familiar with Brevet rides (the ultimate ride in terms of participation and history being the 1,200 km Paris-Brest-Paris, first run in 1891). A bit more of an explanation can be found thanks to our wikipedia friends here.

Wow. 1,000 kms around the entire island, in September (should be fabulous weather, yet without the summer crowds as schools are in session). I must admit that the thought of challenging myself on these monster distances is something that I find increasingly fascinating. Maybe it's because I am no longer fast and don't have a hope in hell to hang with the fast young whippersnappers. But the idea of marathon-like slogs through days and nights is perversely appealing. Are any of you serious randonnée riders? Can anyone relate their stories of riding through consecutive nights, unsupported?

And the most important question... is anyone interested in participating?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pain and suffering and... the Fortius

Yup. My legs and my bum. On the Fortius.

Ok guys, I must come clean with all of you. I have let myself gain a wee bit... ok, way more than a wee bit, of girth around my midsection. Ehm... how do I say this in plain English? Well, I... errr... hmmm... Ok, ok.

I. Am. Fat.

There. I said it - it is out in the open and I can no longer avoid it. Funny, I had promised myself that I would never allow this to happen after working my rear end off to get into what was probably the best shape of my life about 18 months ago... but c'est la vie. No use crying over all that pasta, cheese, red wine, deserts, etc... well, you get the picture.

But all is well in Powerful Pete's land of cycling nirvana. I now have fantastic equipment, am enthusiastic about riding again (mainly due to my riding with a fun group of guys on the weekends - something that I had rarely done in the last few years), and have read about people like the gentleman on the 100poundsago blog (check it out, well worth it), who has done a fantastic job getting himself thin and fit.

Exactly. Yes. Absolutely.

The moment has come to kick it up a notch. Watch what I eat (within reason, I am still Italian, you know). Exercise regularly. You see, it has finally dawned on me that leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating too much and riding only on the weekends will not keep me fit and trim. My expanding waistline might have told me the same thing, had I been paying attention, but again, no use crying over what has come and gone...

So, I have started doing the logical bits diet-wise. And have set up the dreaded torture machine.

That would be the Tacx Fortius (click to see a corny Tacx marketing video, but it gets the point across... I am, by the way, far more handsome and have way less hair than the guy in their video). Which now graces our living room (the joys of living in small European apartments... and it thrills my wife too as an added bonus).

What is a Fortius? It's like a regular trainer, but it hooks up to your computer, with an electric motor that replicates, in real time, the resistance of uphills and the speed of downhills of a set course that you 'watch' on your screen while sweating like a fiend and (at least in my case) making strange guttural noises that make your eldest daughter giggle (don't ask how I know this). Not like riding outside, but it sure beats staring at a wall with a little bit of paper on your stem indicating the number of minutes in the next 52X17 interval set...

So this was the inaugural night. I plan to post each and every training session from today on, as a way to keep myself honest (and use potential internet humiliation as a motivational tool).

So, this evening was the last section of the Milano-San Remo DVD. Not trying to kill myself (still sore from yesterday's ride in the real world) but the resistance works well, I would lie if I said I didn't finish the session a bit tired. The overall stats are:
  1. Total distance: 33.9 km
  2. Time: 1:20:39
  3. Average speed: 25.2 kph
  4. Average rpm: 82
Ok, enough for today. Over and out, time for bed (feeling hungry... must resist...)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cervelo R3 follow-up review... 2000 kms later

My Cervelo, just back and still dirty after 65km this morning. Bellissima.

As some of you will remember, I purchased my Cervelo R3 this summer (August, to be exact) and have now had the opportunity to put about 2000kms on it, so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to provide my many readers with what could be called a 'long term review'.

Hopefully my review will be slightly less affected by 'new bike syndrome' which, I must admit, did color my initial review...

First the bits I really, really like.

The bottom bracket area. Fantastic rigidity.

1. The rigidity of the bottom bracket area is simply phenomenal. Every single nanojoule of energy (and, not to boast, but I produce several dozen in an all out sprint) goes to the cranks/pedals. Nothing is wasted in frame flex. I stand by the statement I made in my initial post about the bike; I climb at least one tooth harder thanks to this frame.

2. The weight. Or rather, lack thereof. We are talking about a sub-1000 gram frameset. I thought all reasonably light road bikes would feel more or less the same. I was wrong. You actually notice how much lighter (at least in my case) this bike is. It does go up hills easier!

The Funda. Does the job very, very well.

3. The 3t Funda fork. Quite frankly, the Funda did not inspire a great deal of confidence the first time I laid eyes on it. But I have to admit that the steering is very good and, once again, the rigidity is just fine - no lost energy up front. I also wondered if the width of the forks would be an issue on gusty days - sail effect and flighty handling and all that, but absolutely not. Rock solid. The steering is spot on.

Selle San Marco Mantra. Comfy for my bum and all the rest of the goods down there. Happy Pete.

4. The Selle San Marco Mantra seat. Fine, not strictly part of the frame, but hey, I purchased it with the frame, so... Very comfy for my rear end, with no numbness or other ill effects. The seat is graced with an absolutely massive 'prostate hole' which does its job quite well. The red highlights on the nose of the saddle have 'bled' a bit, which does not make me too happy, but if that is the price to pay for a comfy saddle, then so be it.

5. The Campagnolo bits. If you are here, you have probably figured out that I am partial to Campagnolo components. The bike currently has a hodgepodge of Campagnolo Chorus and Record (all 10v) bits. They are sublime. Perfect. Nothing to add there. And the Record Red bits are now on their way to being mounted on this bike. Heheh... what is better than perfect? Nirvana?

Now, the not so great bits...

Short stays.

How short? This short...

5. Short seat stays. I had read about this before purchasing the frame, but did not realise just how short they are. I have to make a conscious effort not to 'hit' the stays with my feet on the pedal upstroke. I guess that this is a result of the fact that the stays flare out quite markedly - it is not a deal breaker, but this is clearly something that riders with big feet (I wear a European 45 shoe) in relatively small sizes (mine is a 54) have to take into consideration. I know, I know, changing them would mean having to completely rework the geometry and handling, but hey, it is something that bothers me a bit.

6. Fork clearance. As I stated above, I love the fork. I do however, dislike the minimal clearance that it provides. I seriously doubt that I would be in a position to mount 25mm clinchers, something that I might like to do in the winter for a wee bit of extra comfort and puncture protection. For a bike that advertises its prowess in winning races like the Paris-Roubaix, I would have hoped for slightly more thought provided to light 'off roading' potential. Heck, they are even introducing bits of rough gravel road at the Giro...

So there you have it. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the R3 and find it to be a frameset that is fantastically above my capabilities as a rider. I can feel it yawning when I (think I) am hammering up a short steep hill. It handles well. It looks great. I get very positive comments at coffee stops (always a good thing).

So, if you have the opportunity, test ride one. I think you will end up owning one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tomorrow will be a good day.

Nice, I like the large Vredestein logos.

Friday evening. Just finished replacing my clinchers (tomorrow will be the first ride on my new Vredestein Fiammante DuoComps) on my recently trued Fulcrum 7s.

Tomorrow I will ride with my cycling buddies. Nothing heroic, maybe 75km with the guys with a nice espresso stop halfway through the ride.

The weather is forecast as being wonderful, sunny, not too cold, just perfect. Probably will not even need shoe covers or heavy gloves.

Sitting by the door, ready for tomorrow's ride.

The anticipation is almost as sweet as the ride. I am sure it will be a very pleasant day. Hope your weekend will be filled with many fun-filled kilometers of riding with your friends.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

8th Edition - Ciclolonga Piccolo Bar

I had mentioned that, while I have recently been remiss in my blogging, I had continued to ride regularly over the past couple of months. One of the most pleasant rides I participated in was an informal 'cicloraduno' which is akin to a non-competitive benefit ride. The Albano Runner Bike

It is an 80km ride, which starts and ends in the hill town of Albano south of Rome, escorted by the road police to keep things safe and ensure that people don't start racing one another... a common problem with cyclists!

To make things more interesting, I decided to ride to the starting point from my home in Rome, so at the end of the day I ended up riding 145 km. The longest I have ridden in a number of years.

So, how was it? A lot of fun. Hanging out with a couple of hundred of other lycra-clad weirdos who share my passion is always pleasant... helps me overcome that feeling that I am beyond strange for loving cycling and my willingness to spend inordinate amounts of money and time riding!

I have embedded the video made by the organisers which helps give an idea of the number of riders and what 'regular Roman' guys look and act like on a bike.

All in all a great day on the bike, 145 km of riding on a gorgeous October day with friends. This is what makes riding so much fun.

And a big thank you to the Albano team for having organised the ride, which included a rest stop with mineral water and bananas, as well as a final porchetta sandwich and wine lunch (we are Italian, after all)...

You guys are all invited to participate next year!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rough day...

Today I had hoped to be able to post about a wonderful ride with my riding buddies, but alas, it was not meant to be.

10 kms into the ride I look down to see my front wheel 'snaking' all over the place. I quickly pulled over and realised that a spoke had popped on my Fulcrum 7 front wheel. And as we all know, these pre-built wheelsets with low spoke counts are fine until you break a spoke - the high spoke tension wreaks havoc with things, making the wheel almost unrideable.

So I slowly rode home and realised that I did not have an inner tube mounted on my spare wheelset. I quickly transferred the inner tube from the wrecked Fulcrum, and proceeded to pump up the wheel... and, due to my haste, pulled out the valve from the tube. After muttering a bit under my breath, I understood that this was a sign of displeasure from the cycling gods, took the hint and abandoned the day's ride.

Must admit that this decision was easy, given that I did not have a replacement inner tube, and riding a front wheel without an inner tube is... challenging.

A quick trip to my local shop resulted in a fixed and perfectly true wheel.

Always a thing of beauty to behold.

And, as I was short of tubes and my clinchers are on their last legs, I stocked up on things.

Five Vittoria inner tubes (should not run out for a while now, I hope).
Two Vredestein Fiammante Duo Comp clinchers (Hhhmmmm).
A cassette tool and chain thingie. Hate to have a clean chain and dirty cogs...

Helping the economy...

The weather is turning bad. So I will have my espresso and then settle down to some maintenance, or rather tender loving care for my beloved ride.

So, in the end, the day was not a wash. Got to spend some quality time at the bike shop. Checked out all the new stuff. And will get to lavish much needed TLC on the wheels.

I will let you know what I think of these Vredesteins over the next few days. A bit curious really, as I have been a religiously orthodox Vittoria man for quite some time now. Any thoughts?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Campagnolo Record Red Ergopowers

Ok guys, Pete is back. And Pete is happy. Pete has been riding quite a bit. More about that later. But now for the important news...

Pete has been feeling vulnerable recently. And so, beyond eating pasta (coping strategy No.1), Pete looked on-line for cycling stuff (coping strategy No.2).

And opportunity knocked. Ok, not really. I googled and happened upon a spectacular find. At least for the Campagnolo aficionado. And then Pete spent lots of Euros.

Pete is now the proud owner of a set of Campagnolo Record
Red Ergopowers, with matching QS front and rear derailleurs. This means nothing to you?
Vade retro satana!

Well, let us say that they are special. Very special. Really, really special (hint, click on the link to learn more...).

Euro. Pro. Shifting. Let me repeat that for you.

Euro. Pro. Shifting.

They are beautiful. They are wonderful. They were taken off a bike with fewer than 200 kilometers (I can confirm this given their condition).

Absolutely gorgeous. I can, and do, stare at these for hours.

Functionally. They. Are. New. Nuovo. Nouveau.
Нови. Nuevo. Mpya.

And the are mine. Yup.

Did I mention that Pete is happy?

As these are QS (that's Quick Shift for those ignorant in The Campagnolo Way amongst you), the kit included a derailleur set to match. Oh yeah.

Are you impressed? I know I am.

Jokes aside. I am astounded by the attention to detail and the quality of the parts. Worth every cent. Although my wife, for some reason, does not agree...

A parting sexy shot... I solemnly swear to post pics once they are on the bike.

Can you hear the cycling angels singing? Trust me, even the cardboard box is beautiful!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lagging behind...

Sorry everyone! I have been remiss about posting, but as it often does, life has gotten in the way of my free time.

I have had some decent weekend rides (no weeknight riding now, with the time change, it's dark before 18:00 now)... and there are some new bike bits that are arriving to upgrade my Cervelo.

So I promise to begin posting regularly again (not sure if that is a good thing or not... heh!).

Powerful Pete. Lackadaisical? Absolutely, but still worth reading!