Sunday, April 29, 2012

Raven TT #1

The last time I competed in this race was during it inaugural season in 2010. I really liked the course and it's proximity to where I live but didn't get a chance to race it last year due to scheduling. 

The course is both fun and hard. There are some good high speed turns, one big hill and a lot of steeper rollers with an overall length of around 11.5 miles. The hill and rollers make it hard to get into a rhythm and you always seem to be changing gears. With that said, I'm not a climber so I lose a little ground in those areas most of the it's a challenging course for me.

I hadn't ridden in two days so my legs were likely fresh, but a little dead due to time off. After about 30 minutes of warming up on the trainer they started to wake up a little...but still were not all the way there, so I didn't quite know what to expect for the race. My best time ever is a I was shooting for something in that range.

I also had a different bike set up than previously...and will make a few more changes. Previously the seat post I had was a reversed Ritchey which worked, but had the nose of the saddle pointed up a little, which makes it a little uncomfortable when in the drops. So, I switched seat posts to another "Throw away" post I had laying around and tried to make it work...which it didn't. So I went back to a zero degree post and a Selle Italia Max Flite saddle that allows for a very far forward positioning of the saddle...which worked OK, but I had the saddle set just a little bit too high as I could feel it in my knees the last 1/2 of the race. I plan on picking up a cheap post that I can reverse and will allow proper set up of the saddle as well as switching back to my original saddle for next weeks race.

Other changes made to my set up was lowering the bars by 1cm and switching from a 95mm to a 110mm stem. Looking at photos from the PIR TT I could see I was a little tall and looked a little compact on the I made the switch. I'm still not sure it's better or not right now.

I also decided not to go with a full set of TT wheels leaving my disc at home. I instead went with my 58mm, tubular Corsa Concepts for lighter weight and to get some power numbers during the race. I had just got them back from having new tires glued on after my crash at Kings Valley, where I also had to re-true the rear wheel a little, so I wanted some time on them to make sure they were ready for next weeks road race. So I wasn't as aero as I could have been for the race, but still good overall.

The race it's self went well enough. I tried using my power meter to pace myself...but in reality probably should have just ignored it. I think my pacing overall was good though...but I can tell the final hill is my slowest part of the race. I can hit the front side hard because I'm fresh, but coming back up it after a 25 minute hard effort is more difficult. Next week...I need to get out of the saddle and push it more there for a better time.

Overall though I had a good race finishing 2nd in the Masters 40+ (6th fastest time overall) with a time of 28:50, which is good and falls within my average for this race. I can tell there are areas where I can go faster on the course...which I will try to do next week. Something in the range of 28:20 - 28:30 is attainable, I just need a slightly better run at certain sections.

I think a few changes to the bike will help here as well...Some final tuning and it should be set up for a long time...until I can afford to get a new TT bike as my 5 year old aluminum Fuji is behind the times when it comes to being the most aerodynamic design out there.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

300 miles on the new CAAD 10

So, I've hit the 300 mile mark after a week (16,500+ feet of climbing) on my new Cannondale CAAD10 (4) and wanted to give my impressions of the bike now that I've spent some time on it, made some fit changes and done a lot of climbing on it.

Mid week my new top cap from "Slam that stem dot com" came in which was the final piece in getting my bars in the correct position. With this my total stack height is down to 15.8cm (including headset) which is about 1cm taller than on my Tsunami...however, using a -17 degree stem instead of the -10 degree stem puts it within 1mm - 2mm of my old position.

The fork on the Cannondale however is 8mm longer than my old Easton EC90SL, which may bring the front end up a little higher than the old bike by a little.

Other changes that had to be looked at with the fit was the shorter top tube (by 1cm) and slacker seat tube angle (by .5 degree). The reach was taken care of by going to the Pro Vibe 7 deep drop bar as it has a 1cm longer reach than my Ritchey bar did. The slacker STA was taken care of by using a saddle with longer rails and thus more adjustment to move it forward and be put in the correct position.

The fit feels really good at this point and I don't foresee any adjustments at this point since my power output is good and my weight balance feels good.

One overall, noticeable difference between the Cannondale and my Tsunami is I feel like I'm riding taller on the Cannondale than my Tsunami. Part of this is the longer fork (8mm longer than my Easton EC90SL) and possibly taller bottom bracket. Now that I've to the stem low, it's not as noticeable, but it's still there.

The weight of the mentioned in my previous post is 17.13 pounds as shown (with cages, pedals and computer mount). My race wheels are still in the process of getting their tires glued on, so no pictures or weights with them on...though it should come in right at 16 pounds (no bottles). Given this is an $1800 bike (though I'm made a few changes to some components) that's very light for the price.

As for the bike it's self...

The ride is still aluminum harsh, but refinements have been made over the years. Over pavement cracks and small holes in the road, the sharp impacts can be felt and if they are big enough, getting out of the saddle should be done. However, on small bumps and chip seal roads the ride is better damped than my old Tsunami, but isn't quite as good as my old Velo Vie.

The CAAD10 does use the "Save" technology from their higher end, carbon frames, which just means the seat and chain stays are flattened in the middle to allow for some flex in them. I'm not sure how well this works with an aluminum frame, but I hear it does wonders with carbon frames. Aesthetically though, it's not as nice looking as the older curved stays CAAD frames had.

The bike does give a solid/connected feel of the road when motoring along...Some of the more comfy bikes I've ridden didn't give me the this and I feel my speed (at least while descending) suffered at times.

If you are looking for a plush bike...look elsewhere...if you are looking for a race bike, the CAAD10 should be worth checking out regardless of it's lower price or non-carbon frame.

The handling of the bike is good, but may appeal to others a little more than myself. With that said, it's well within acceptable range. At lower speeds (below 30 mph) the bike feels great having a solid/planted feeling to it. When speeds go over 30 mph it gets a little twitchy and I have to watch how much input I give the bike to make sure I maintain my lines. My old Tsunami was built to be very stable at speed and there is a noticeable difference between the two when descending.

Personally, I'd like to see a little more stability at speed and less so at slower speeds. A fork with less rake might do the trick since Cannondale put a 45 degree rake on the stock fork. If I had the money I'd try an Enve tapered for with 43 degree rake...but since this has me tapped out on finances, I'll pass for now.

With that said...I received my first Strava K.O.M. on the Cannondale this weekend on a climb/descent (the segment has some initial climbing and then drops down about 800 feet and is pretty twisty) I can say that it corners very well, and as I said before, has a great road feel so I can tell when it's getting close to it's traction limits.

The stiffness of the bike translates well when it comes to climbing. I've been setting faster times up local climbs on it than I was on my Tsunami which may be due to a slightly different fit, better power transfer, better gearing (since this bike has a compact front crank instead of a standard crank), I'm getting lighter or I'm getting into better shape. Probably a combination of several factors.

I have yet to complete a full on I can't comment on it's sprinting ability, however every other aspect of the bike is doing well...So I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt for now.

The fit/finish of the frame is acceptable, though I can tell a difference between this frame and older Cannondales I've owned. The CAAD frames used to all be made in the U.S.A. but now have been outsourced to Asia for manufacture. The welds are no longer as clean as they used to be, though they are still smoothed/sanded after welding which cleans up the appearance...the overall look just isn't as clean as it used to be.

I will also say the seat tube/seat stay juncture is pretty ugly on the CAAD10 compared to previous models. They were going for a stiff top tube, which they got, but it made for an ugly connection at that juncture.

I don't have a problem with any frame misalignment or bad welds though, so it at least passed the QC portion before leaving the factory.

The only change I can see making in the near future to the bike is a different crankset. The stock (Apex I'm guessing) crank is stiff and solid, but is heavy and ugly. Granted that's not a good reason for a change but I can see saving 100-200 grams and making the bike look much better with a nicer crankset on the bike. I'll also look at changing the gearing of the crank to a 50x36 instead of the stock 50x34 since I don't quite need the 34 tooth gearing and I feel a 50x36 when combined with an 11x26 cassette is the best amateur race gearing combination out there. a replacement for my Tsunami, I'm happy, especially for the price of the Cannondale compared to similar priced bikes. It doesn't have quite the same feel, but is a great bike in it's own way. Now, I just need to get my race wheels and some results on the new bike. Hopefully we will have many happy miles together.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My new Cannondale

So now that my Tsunami has gone to the recycle bin in the sky (or maybe lawn or wall art, not sure yet)...I had to get a new bike. Being the bike geek that I am, I'm always looking at bike geometries and what might work when it comes to getting another bike or a back up bike.

With this in mind, the Cannondale CAAD series of frames has always been on my short list of bikes to look at. They have been around forever, the frame has been refined and on a cost/performance ratio they are "Very" hard to beat.

So after my crash yesterday, my wife told me to "Just go buy another bike" ... taking her advice like and good husband would do, I went out after cleaning myself up and checked out a few bikes to replace my beloved Tsunami.

I looked at the Scott Foil 40, CAAD 10 series and was considering the Felt F series of road bikes. I would have loved to picked up a Scott Foil, but nobody had one in my size and I just couldn't justify the extra expense over the Cannondale. The Felt bikes would have fit a little better (shorter head tube), but the parts for the price just isn't there.

So...I came home with a new Cannondal CAAD10 (4) Rival equipped bike.

I did replace a few of the stock parts with some that I already had including:

  • Thompson 0 degree seat post
  • Thompson -17 degree (110mm length) stem
  • Pro Vibe 7 round bars
  • A set of 32 spoke Open Pro wheels laced up to my Powertap for training

I also bought a new Specialized Romin saddle since my saddle was also killed in the crash and I've wanted to try one out for a while knowing the size and shape would work for me.

Today I was able to take the bike out for it's maiden voyage, a 47 mile ride with 3300 feet of climbing. I didn't do any huge accelerations, but did do some tempo climbing and just worked on getting the fit dialed in while checking out how the new ride handled and felt on the road. One addition I'm waiting for is a new top cap for the headset from "Slam that stem . com" that will have a stack height of about 2mm giving me the lowest possible handlebar set up for this bike.

The bike it's self is lighter than I anticipated weighing in at 17.13 pounds according to my fish scale. That's with my Powertap wheelset, bottle cages and Garmin 500 computer mounted. Not bad for an $1800 bike. With my race wheels it will be just over 16 pounds and if I want to upgrade in the future, taking another pound or two off will be very easy with a few parts swaps.

The initial feel of the bike was one of feels like a bike built for big power guys, but has the ability to work for smaller climbers as well. There isn't a whole lot of flex in the frame or fork and out of the saddle efforts seem to propel the bike forward as would be expected for a stiff aluminum frame.

Road noise was still there as is expected on an aluminum frame, but is muted a little due to the tube manipulation Cannondale has done with the bike. Basically it's not a silky smooth ride, but it's not super harsh either. Completing 60-70 mile races, or 100 mile training rides in the summer won't be a big deal where I feel beat up by the bike, as other bikes I've had rode harsher. The frame gives enough feedback to let you know what's going on with the road, but not enough to beat you to death.

Climbing was solid, but not spectacular...then again, is anything spectacular climbing wise for somebody just under 200 pounds? Part of this is getting the position dialed in which will happen over time, but out of the saddle efforts where position isn't as important were very good...over rollers it would shoot up and over with no problem.

I haven't done any full on sprints I can't really comment on that, but given the solid nature of the bike I expect them to be good.

Handling wise the bike is a little twitchy at speeds over 40mph, at least more so than I'm used to. Since my last bike was a custom frame I had it made with stability in it was very stable at speed. The Cannondale holds a line fine, but small movements can make a big difference, so learning the characteristics of the bike at speed will be important.

Cornering was solid and the bike held lines without issue.

My only real complaint would be I'd like a 1cm shorter head tube and 2cm shorter seat tube to accommodate riders that are on the fringe of bike fit. This is a minor squabble and part of that is just the look and feel that Cannondale was after with the bike.

Overall...the CADD series of bikes from Cannondale seem to be the workhorses of their lineup. They are solid, dependable, refined and just plain work for much less money than higher end carbon bikes.

I'm looking to many thousands of miles aboard the new Cannondale and hopefully a few wins along the way as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kings Valley...a dismal failure

 So...Kings Valley has come and gone again this year. I had high hopes heading into the race as I knew my power was there and my weight has been dropping. The conditions were perfect this year with temps in the 60's and a nice south wind, which would make the back side of the course perfect for breaking away.

The race started as expected...a few hard efforts, a couple people trying to establish an early break and basically the general feeling out that takes place during a race. The Masters 3/4/5 field was "HUGE" with 80 riders starting the race.

Up the first climb we were not going that fast...but it opened up a great opportunity to start a break. As we crested the hill I accelerated to catch a guy that had gaped the field by a short distance. When I reached him two others had jumped with me and we had a solid group of 4.

I knew one of the members of the break as he was a former teammate and a strong rider. One of the other riders appeared to be very strong as well...but the 4th member didn't seem very strong as he couldn't pull through on a downhill section.

By the bottom of the hill (spanning about 3 miles) we had opened up a gap of 40-50 seconds and were opening it up.

Then came a sharp right hand turn when everything went downhill for me. Before entering the corner the lead guy wasn't holding his line, which caused me to brake hard...then we made it through the I thought. Just after hitting the backside of the apex I was on the ground...HARD. The only thing I can recall is  the weakest guy blew through the corner, didn't hold his line and took my front wheel out...but I can't totally verify if this is true because of how quickly it happened.

Looking back at my Garmin data I hit the ground at 29.8 mph...the crash destroyed my custom Tsunami frame and most of the components on my bike as seen by the photos below:

 As you can see by the right seat stay, it's bowed inwards...when it should be straight like the left side.

The right side chainstay got dented and has a small gash now. I'm really not sure how this happened unless my bike was hit from the back side because I basically just laid the bike down from my recollection.

Both shifters were broken in the crash. The front shifter paddle broke off, the rear shifter was bent and the paddle damaged in the crash. The bars were also damaged as you don't see the bar tape worn off and all the gashes on the side of the handlebar.

Other parts that were broken in the crash: The saddle was destroyed as the sides were worn off as it skidded down the road. Both tubular tires are trashed with the rear tire rubbing on the chainstay and the front now there is another $200.00 or so to get new tires glued onto the wheels...however the wheels appear to have made it through the crash extremely well. With that said...I'll highly recommend Corsa Concepts for wheels if you are looking as they are fairly light and "Extremely" well built (hand built in house).

Here is a picture of my helmet...another casualty of the crash. There are several cracks in the helmet now and it shows the importance of wearing your helmet.

I also lost my brand new team kit as both the jersey and shorts were shredded.

With all the damage to my bike and it being totaled...on the way home wife told me to just buy a new bike. So with that in mind, after cleaning my wounds up...I headed out after the race and did a little bike shopping. I really wanted a Scott Foil 40 but couldn't find one around in my size and the extra money for it just didn't seem worth it for a bike that could end up like my Tsunami.

Knowing the geometry of many, many bikes...I decided to go and pick up a new Cannondal CAAD10 (4). I had them put a new top cap on the headset that dropped the bars by 1.5cm (stock is 25mm, replacement is 10mm). I then added a -17 degree Thompson stem I already had and a Thompson 0 degree seat post. I also replaced the saddle with a Specialized Romin, which so far I really like and the bars with some Pro Vibe 7 round bend bars I already had to give me a lower position in the drops.

I'm still a little taller than I want to be, but overall the bike fits really well. It came in a little lighter than I expected an $1800 bike to be. With two cages, my Powertap training wheels and Garmin computer it weighs in at 17.13 pounds. With my race wheels on it will come in right at 16 pounds...not bad for a Rival equipped, aluminum framed bike.

Overall...a crappy day on the bike, but I should heal up quickly and am already planning a 3+ hour ride on the new Cannondale better associate myself with the new bike...Bonding time and all. I'll probably get in some good climbing and enjoy some extra gearing as I now have a compact crank instead of standard, which I needed for the steeper sections (over 8% grades). I will likely eventually replace the stock crank with a SRAM Red or Force compact with 50x36 gearing instead of 50x34 since I think it will fit me perfectly.

Anyway...a dismal race, some injuries, a totaled bike and a new bike. Quite the Saturday for me...hope your's was better.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This past Sunday was the first of two ITT's at Portland International Raceway. The Time Trial is 6 laps and around 11.5 miles in length. This is the 2nd year they have hosted an ITT at PIR and last year's was great, so I expected a similar experience again this year.

With the length of the track and riders going off at 1 minute intervals the largest number of riders on the track at any given time would be around 30, which on a nearly two mile track means lots of room to move around and constant carrots to chase on the track.

The weather was great with temperatures in the low 60 degree range, but there was a good headwind down the front straight, which is the longest and straightest part of the race. The back stretch had a tailwind but was the most protected from the wind, so it didn't quite make up time wise that was lost on the front straight.

Looking at my times, I went out fast on the first lap then fell off for the second lap. After that I leveled off until the 5th lap that was a little slower, the picked it up for the final lap.

I was hoping to beat my time from last year, but the wind conditions made that hard and from the times it seems like overall...everybody was slower than last year. Comparing the times I was 4 seconds slower this year than last, but when looking at my overall placement I was higher placed than last year.

I ended up with a time of 25:18 with an average speed of 27.1 mph and 2nd in the Masters 40+ division...Overall I had the 5th fastest time on the day (though two of those times were by the same rider racing in different categories) and was the 4th fastest rider on the track.

I'm pretty happy with the result as this is around 7 weeks earlier in the season than when this race took place last year and my weight is finally starting to get down to where it needs to be. I hit a dehydrated 194 pounds last week, but morning weights are closer to 197-198 I still need to drop another 8-10 pounds to be where I want.

I'm planning on racing Kings Valley this weekend, which looks to be another nice weather weekend...should be interesting to see how that goes this year.