Monday, June 24, 2013

Night Riding

So I've always lamented (complained) that getting rides in on the bike is always difficult.  I would always like to log more time in the saddle, but it's not as easy as swimming and biking.  The pool is open at 5am Monday through Friday.  Rain or Shine.  It doesn't matter if its 20 degrees outside or summertime.  Running for me is similar.  I run in the dark all the time.  Cold, wind, rain doesn't really matter.

But biking is different.  I don't feel comfortable going out when its raining.  But I will ride on wet streets, as that doesn't really bother me.  Also if I'm in the middle of a ride, and it rains, I will rarely cut the ride short.  I only do that if it looks like a bad thunderstorm.  So mainly its the daylight that hinders a lot of my riding, until last week.

I've met quite a few tri guys swimming at the Y.  I haven't really worked out much with them.  But after the Slide into Baxter tri, one of my tri friends, uber runner Chad, invited me to ride Tuesday morning.  Like 4:30 am on Tuesday morning.  Sunrise is at 6 am, that means Night Riding, baby.  Not to be confused with Knight Rider, duhduh, duhduh, duhduh (you know how it goes).

The key to night riding is lights.  Taillights to be visible to cars, and front lights to be visible to cars and also see the road.  I always ride with a taillight blinking.  I mean always, even in the daytime.  So I picked up a cheap $10 clip on to also wear on my back jersey pocket.  I had front lights so no problem there.

I got up early, but not really any earlier than I would for a long run.  In fact I was up earlier on Thursday for my 15 mile run. So I had everything together the night before that I could.  I skipped the coffee and bagel routine that I normally do for my weekend morning rides.  I started the Garmin at 4:25 am and headed off to the Peach Stand to meet up with Chad.

I took Munn road to try and stay off of 21.  I hit 160 and went down to the Peach Stand, did a U-turn and headed back west on 160.  Soon after crossing the interstate, I ran into Chad going the other way.  I turned around with him back down 160.  Eventually we caught up with Nathan, he u-turned and we were a group.

It felt safer to ride with a couple of other guys.  more lights for cars to see.  More eyes to watch out for cars and other road hazards.  We took 160 to the Gold Hill light and headed down into Tega Cay.  We took that to the fire station where the 4 lanes turns into 2.  We u-turned and headed back to the Peach Stand.  We basically did that out and back loop twice, Peach Stand to the Tega Cay Fire Station (and Runde Park).

Not as boring as it may look.

We started pretty slow, but eventually picked up the pace and I ended up averaging 21.2 mph.  I like to always average over 21, so I was pleased with that.  Also, we really didn't have to stop much at all.  For the hour and a half ride, my Garmin was only paused for 1 minute and 11 seconds.  Pretty Sweet.

Faster as we go.
I ended up getting in 32 miles and got home by 6am.  It was really great.  That's when I usually get done with my morning workouts, so I can be to work by 7am.  The night riding went so well that on Sunday for my long ride I decided to head out in the dark at 5am.  I hit the Garmin at 5:02 am and headed out to the TC Fire Station.  I turned around there, headed back by the house and then across the Catawba and eventually out towards Lake Wylie.  It was great to get a 4 hour ride in (87.5 miles) and still be back an hour before it was time to go to Church.

So the night riding helped me get in 238 miles on the week.  Not Epic, but still pretty awesome for some week in June.  Now I still prefer riding in the daylight, but being able to get more miles in without affecting family time is wonderful.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Slide into Baxter Race Report

The Baxter YMCA Sprint Triathlon is in its 4th year.  I have done this race all 4 years.  In 2010 it was my first every triathlon and I finished in the top 10.  In Year 2, I finished 4th, so then last year I was gunning for the overall podium.  I didn't happen as my 'running legs' were just not there.  Due to some bursitis, my legs didn't come around for good run splits until September last year. Read about last year's race here.

So this year my sights were set on the win.  Its not a very big race, and there are a lot of newbies.   Last year, this race started on the slide into the pool.  This year they started on the slide, but also officially changed the name to "Slide into Baxter".

I went to pick up my packet on Friday night at the Starbucks, but I was only able to get my T-Shirt.  I was told that the numbers were not in, and we would get them in the morning.  It made me wonder, however, with body marking and timing chips, at a small race, do we really need them at all?  I mean there isn't security to get your bike out of transition.
Green Lightning is Ready to Rock and Roll

 We did get our numbers in the morning, but just a bike number and a run number.  No helmet number, which I was good with.  The bike numbers were actually really nice.  Just a big sticker you can wrap around your seatpost.  I wish Setup Events would use these instead of the big bulky ones that they use now (I hate 'em).  These at Baxter were as nice as ones at a Rev3 or Ironman race, and actually more ingenious with the cutout design.

So setting up transition was pretty simple.  I spent a lot more time talking to friends about bikes and training and newbies about how this was all gonna go down.  Even met one guy who came to the Y this morning to work out, saw the triathlon, and decided to do it on the spot.  He wasn't even sure how the timing worked.  I actually thought it was kinda cool.

So I was bib 20 because I lied about my swim seed time.  Everyone typically lies about their times, so I wanted to make sure I was ahead of that curve.  Some people said they didn't lie, but thought that the seed time was supposed to be for 50 meters and not 100 meters.  Whatever, I like the excuse even if it's not believable.

Lining up for the Start
5:11, 14th of 70 overall
I made sure I started my watch at the top of the slide because last year I didn't and I screwed up my swim split.  This race is not really indicative of your swim capability, and I've said this before.  You're going down and back in the same lane.  People don't seed themselves correctly.  Its hard to pass.  So my average of about 1:53 per hundred really doesn't mean much.  Although I do think its interesting that I lied about my time, got seeded 20th, but then finished 14th.  How bad does everyone lie about their time?!?  Seriously?
That's Me!
0:39, 3rd of 70
Only 3 seconds behind the fastest.  Having my shoes rubber banded prolly made my transition pretty fast.

38:44, 1st of 70
I really wanted to hammer the bike here this year.  The course is basically constant up and down hills.  Its straight out and back.  This is the first time I've done this race with the FLO's, so I had them and my wheel cover.  I finished a minute faster than last year and averaged 24.3 mph, as the course is a little short (15.7 miles).  I had the fastest bike split by 1:42.

As I hit the turnaround, I began counting places.  I was the 6th person back.  With the time trial start, I really didn't know where anyone was at.  I know I had time on all the guys ahead of me (no one had passed me).  With less than 2 miles to go, I caught uber runner Chad Garret.  As I passed him he informed me that he would catch me on the run!  He started the swim second, which meant I had 3 minutes on him.  So he had to beat me by a minute per mile on the run, which was possible.  I worked my way up to the 3rd position going into T2.
Flawless Dismount
0:34, Tied for 4th of 70
10 seconds behind the fastest, but that was a 17 year old girl with and hour plus bike split.  Pretty sure she didn't use bike shoes.  So really just 4 seconds back of the fastest guy.  I decided to forgo the socks and orthotics for this race since its only 3 miles.  Only time this year I'll do this.
Forgot to hit the lap at the mat, and hit it at my rack

19:35, 1st of 70
This run course is long.  My Garmin had the distance at 3.34 miles.  About a 1/2 mile in I caught the uber swimmer guy.  Evidently he was a swim/bike guy and not a swim/run guy, which was good for me.  The guy at the front was quite a bit ahead of me, probably more than two minutes.  I hit the first mile in 5:55 without Chad in sight.  So I felt good about staying ahead of him as 3 minutes in 2 miles really wasn't possible at the pace I was putting down.  The second mile has the most hills and I came through it in 6:03.  So now with the long straight on Hwy 160, I could again see the front guy.

At one of the side streets I marked the time and I was 52 seconds back.    Unfortunately I didn't know his bib number.  I could have looked at his bike coming out of T2, but I didn't think about it.  I knew he wasn't in my rack, but he could be anywhere from 4 to 15.  If he was 15, then I only had 50 seconds on him.  So I pushed.  I hit the next mile in 5:53.  As we made the turn onto Market street I saw I was only 29 seconds back. So I pushed hard for the finish.  It was mostly downhill, so my 0.34 split was at a 5:08 pace.  That gave me an overall average of 5:52's.  I ended up with the fastest run split by 0:49.
Strong Finish

1:04:45, 1st Overall
So the guy ahead of me was bib 5, so I won the race by 3:22.  It feels good to win this race.  I know its a small YMCA sprint, but its my first overall triathlon win.  But as my wife said, "It's about time you won that race!" It's all about perspective, I guess.  Full Results here.

The Overall Podium
I got a glass pint and a $20 gift card to the Charlotte Running Company, but it was more about winning the race than anything else.  Sprints are hard.  You have to go anaerobic the whole time.  Redline the entire way.  I was just as sore after this race as I am at longer races.  My body is not as tired, but the legs were hurting that afternoon.  The Iron distance may be the end all be all for some people in triathlon, but if they think the Sprint distance is easy, well they need to hang with me.  Try going up and down hills at a 24.3 average and then hammer a 5K at a 5:52 pace.  I doubt they will still call it "easy".

The Spoils of the Win

The 1st and 3rd overall women were in my bike rack, so it was cool to talk to them before and after the race.  I'm not sure if this race will make it on the schedule next year, so I'm glad I could bring home the gold this year!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Speedplay Zero Pedals

When I got my bike back in January of 2011, I didn't own any pedals.  Or shoes for that matter.  I had gotten a pair of Speedplay X Series from my (now ex) brother in law.  So I had kinda gotten used to the Speedplays and became pretty comfortable in them.  I like clipping in without having to look down.  I also like the float.  I don't know how many miles they had on them when I started, but I put over 9,000 miles on them myself before I started having problems with them.

At first I heard the right one start making a clicking sound like it wanted to unclip while I was riding.  It never did.  I tried more grease, but it didn't help.  Then when I had my bike in the shop to get my new aero bars on, they told me the right pedal's bearing was shot and that I needed new ones.  They gave me a price but I decided to get them online (I can't buy everything there!)

UPS, Right on Schedule

Packing Slip, Cleat Lube, and The Box
I decided to get the Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Limited Edition Team Green.  They seemed to go pretty well with Green Lightning.  I ordered from Competitive Cyclist.  I literally had a tracking number in 4 hours.  They were on there way quickly enough, but they came from Utah, so it took a few days.

Lots of Documentation

Stainless Steel has a nice look.
The packaging was pretty nice.  The instructions seemed pretty thorough, although I really didn't need them.  They came with cleats as the Zeros are not compatible with the X series.  That's ok as they recommend new cleats every year anyway.  I got them on pretty quickly because I already had the formed spacers on my shoes from the X series underneath my base plate extender. The extender plate fits the Zero cleats, so I just had to screw them on.  I use the extender to move the cleats further back on my feet to help alleviate toe numbness.
Adjustable float screws on the left side.

Even Green Cleats!

I use the Base Plate Extender

The nice thing about installing pedals is that they quite possibly may be the easiest thing to install on your steed.  They looked great on Green Lightning.  I also ordered some of the cleat lubricant to help keep everything working well.

When I first tried them out there were really hard to get clipped in.  I mean really hard.  A bit stiff out of the box as you might say.  However, on my first ride, I could hardly believe how smooth they were.  I guess its one of those things that you don't really know how bad something has gotten (the old pedals) until you replace them.  They felt just awesome.

GL in all her Glory

Slowly but surely they have become easier to clip in.  It has taken quite a few rides, but they clip in pretty easily now.  The float is adjustable, and I have it set to float as much as possible without my shoes hitting the frame.  I really like the float of the pedals, as my knees continue to thank me.

All in all I couldn't be happier.  I'm glad I got the stainless as it wasn't that much more, as opposed to the titanium, which are a LOT more.  Green Lightning just got a little bit faster.