Busy Few Weeks

As usual, just because the blog has been quiet doesn't mean I've stopped riding. If anything, I'm riding more than before, balancing time more carefully, and thus, finding less time to blog.

So I have a Quarq Cinqo power meter on my Fuji Aloha CF2 road bike, mounted to a SRAM S900 crank. Apart from the weight (mostly from the crank itself), I have been very happy with the setup. It is ANT+Sport compatible and works flawlessly in bad weather.

I also appreciate SRAM's consistent use of the GXP bottom bracket standard. All SRAM road cranks, from Rival to Red, use a common BB. FSA uses at least three separate standards for their bottom brackets, meaning that it's impossible to swap, say, a Team Issue for an SL-K quickly. Why, pray tell, would I want to do this? Well, I happen to own one in a 175mm length, and another in 172.5mm. I would like to see what my ideal crank length is in time trials, experimentally.

As such, I ordered new SRAM Rival cranks, in 172.5 and 175 lengths. Now, I'll be able to swap crank lengths on my road and TT bikes, and use a power meter on both. Granted, I can't both use the Quarq and play with crank length, but for that, I have a PowerTap.

Another small project is inspired by Mavic and California state law. Lately, sunset in the Bay Area has been around 5:15pm, meaning I ride home in the dark. California law states that wheels must be reflectorized. I saw that my Mavic Ksyrium ES front wheel had reflective decals on the rims. So, I ordered some black retro-reflective tape, designed a stencil for the correct decal shape, and stuck on the reflectors. You can't see the black reflectors at all against the black rim, but they light up when photographed with a flash!

Another project was to experiment with Nokon cable housing. The plan was to use it on the next generation race bike, the still on order Specialized SL3. Since I ordered the wrong part (Shimano instead of Campy, for SRAM shifters), I figured that the spare set could go on the Aloha. I could test the cables and the installation process. I could also test the trick under-tape cable routing option for Shimano shifters. All I can say is, thumbs down. First, I had to drill out my frame cable stops to accommodate the liners. Then, installing the system amounted to stringing beads on a wire for about an hour. Once I had the system lubricated with Tri-Flow and installed, after about three hours, I just could not get good shifting out of it. My Dura Ace suddenly became Tiagra or Sora. I have to admit, it looked pretty cool.

Of course, the kicker was when the front shifter cable failed on a ride.

What, seriously? I followed the instructions precisely, including leaving exactly 3mm between the end of the liners and the end of the cable. My guess is that the sharp bend was causing the wire to rub against the inside of the metallic housing, causing fatigue. As a direct result of the failure, I opted not to use Nokons on the SL3. After reviewing the options, I put Gore Ride-On cables on the Aloha, which has been great so far. (I used it on the Roubaix for months until the frame died.) I will experiment with Yokozuna Reaction cables on the SL3.

Apart from all of this mechanical fun, my continuing experiment at self-coaching and learning continues. I am following Joe Friel's plan, almost to the letter, with 700 hours a year. This translates to about 12,000 miles. I have a spreadsheet on my computer which helps me compute hours and rides for the whole year. On a shorter time scale, I put the week's plan on the board. It helps keep me honest. One of the weeks is below.

This is my first year with this system, so, again, it is an experiment. I am continuing to tweak and improve my practices with regards to nutrition and training with power. Thusfar, my algorithm for fueling on long base rides is:

Food: 1 Larabar 60 minutes into the ride, and every 45 minutes thereafter.
Fluid: 4 oz Cytomax every 15 minutes (one bottle lasts 90 minutes).

I'm not hungry or dehydrated on my training rides, nor do I need to use the restroom. This will likely change as intensity or temperature increase, but for now, staying fueled and happy on long rides is easier than ever.