Friday, June 9, 2017

Adventure Time

No, not this kind…

Image result for Adventure time!

But this kind…

I’ve been a big fan of Topeak products for a while now, I actually have an original Alien Tool from circa 2000 which is still going strong.


I love their Quick Click feature that lets me switch saddle bags easily and I have them for all my bikes. Last year I added their Fuel Tank which is a top tube bag “Bento Box” for Dirty Kanza and it worked perfectly!


So following them on Facebook deemed natural and this week I won one of their giveaways and won a Backloader!


With Crushar my last registered race of the season and the summer holidays fast approaching this is whetting my Bike Adventuring whistle!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Summary

May in the bag and a mostly successful month it was. Becca had some travel and with the extra time I was able to double down on a couple of days with the weekly goal of 300 miles. My Lynskey and Cervelo were at Wins with various changes and one day of the week was a quick dirty spin on my Mountain Bike which left me a little short on the goal but a 295 mile week is a solid week. My viewpoint on what is a “normal” week has definitely shifted from the 200 mile mark and is now hovering around 230 miles. 250 miles is a good week and anything close to 300 is a great week. That said the accumulation is a function of training and I am basically following the TrainerRoad plan with a longer weekend ride and a recovery ride on the Monday.

The big event of the month was the Belgian Waffle Ride, report to follow. The day turned into a hot one and despite not having that much heat training in the first half of the year I was able to get through the race and actually race rather than survive the event. The following week I had an aborted Everesting attempt; more lessons learned the hard way and then the following weekend another century. So in short three big back to back weekends.


June by comparison is a quiet month so I can focus on training for Crushar in the Tushar which is up early in July.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Belgian Waffle Ride

So as usual this is late but hey better late than never! I have a couple of Race Reports to write up before they fade into the distant memory but this is the most recent and my short term memory is suffering the worst! So on with the show!

The Belgian Waffle Ride. 130 or so miles with a third or so off road and plenty of climbing. Add in some deep sand, a shallow water crossing and 95f+ temperatures, hot waffles and cold beer and you get the idea.

Having attended the Camp in January I had an approximate idea of what to expect. Back then the course hadn’t been completely locked down. In fact, it turned out that the final Permits hadn’t been granted until the week of the race so there was going to be an element of surprise to it but that’s how I like it!

I headed down a day early to attend a dinner organized by the Camp hosts as well as some of the Race Management. I was staying with Casey, an online friend converted into an IRL (in real life) one who I had met at the Camp and we both attended the dinner. Becca was manning the home fort with Volley Ball commitments for the kids and would travel down by train the next afternoon.

The dinner was casual and fun. The next day was easy going with an early group ride which took us on the last 15 miles of the course and included a quick spin up Double Peak. Double Peak is a one mile climb at 8%. I would next get to ride it again on race day at mile 120! Fun Times!

The rest of the day was spent hanging out and navigating my way through the Expo and packet pick-up. The bike got a quick wash and polish and I was pretty much ready to roll the next day. A casual dinner and I picked up Becca from the Train Station. The final prepping tasks and the alarm was set for Dark o’clock!

The start was a 20 minute drive from Casey’s. We got there with plenty of time to spare and could park easily. With nearly an hour to go there was time for second breakfast, I confess to skipping the Waffles and opted having extra coffee. All that was left was the nerves to build up.

I had opted to go in the second wave which I anticipated, correctly, would be less competitive. While my goal was to race the event, I wasn’t keen on rubbing wheels and going down hard and early. The second group rolled out and with a left and left we were on the main road and on our way.


132 miles is a long way and rather than give you a mile by mile, blow by blow diatribe I’ll try and break this up into more manageable sections.


The first four miles were a neutral roll out. This makes it sound like a mellow chatfest…nope! The Police were out closing roads and letting us fly along and through junctions. There was no hanging around and we were averaging 18-19mph riding uphill! There was an early climb that spread folks out and then it pitched up a little steeper which was an early test of nerves and equipment with some pretty rough gear changes and chains being dropped. A sharp right turn put us on the first section of dirt. I took it easier than most and spent as much time avoiding as many thrown water bottles as I did pot holes. I passed a couple of early flat tires and made it safely to the bottom. Another road section for a while and we were directed off onto the dirt, into the sand, into the deep sand and then forced to walk and carry the bike.


This was short lived and around the corner was the first Aid Station at Mile 25. Becca, who had been waiting for me, was sucked into volunteering. She spotted me and asked if I was good, I was. I rolled through.

A quick spin up Bandy Canyon was followed by the long climb up Highland Valley Road, just over 1000’ in just over 6 miles. Tick, tick, tick the miles ticked by and I was rolling across to Ramona. I had ridden this section back in January on Camp and we had had a brutal headwind. This time with no headwind and I was PRing all my Strava times.

With a little over 43 miles on the clock I hit the second Aid Station. Becca had leap frogged me from her impromptu volunteering at Aid Station 1. I pulled in and refilled my bottles and pockets, ditched my phone which was weighing heavy in my jersey and had a quick reapplication of SunScreen. In and out ASAP was the order of the day!


Black Canyon. Twelve miles of off road, mostly climbing, some shade and no relaxing. There was one long descent in the middle. This was tricky and required you to focus. The road wasn’t closed so there were a few cars here and there. I had covered most of this climb in January and my time, while slower than then, wasn’t terrible. By this time, it was getting warm, and the Aid Station at the top was doing a brisk business with cokes and cold water being the order of the day. While it had been a tough section the distress of some of the riders so soon into the event was surprising but then again, well you know! I tried not to linger. Most of the time was spent finding somewhere to lean my bike rather than just laying it down in the dirt, which seemed to be the modus operandi of a lot of people.

Stocked up I was back on the road and rolling for the section that I had not ridden before as it was new. This was basically a clockwise loop. In my mind, it would bring us back to this point but in reality it brought us back down Black Canyon, basically at the bottom of the climb out! It was a 20 mile loop and after the climb out of Black Canyon and the ride back down I was back with Becca and rolling into the Aid Station at Mile 81.

I filled up on all the cold stuff and chugged more coke, grabbed some more food and shot off. I had had a pretty good rest on the way down and was anxious to get rolling as quickly as possible.

Back on the road I joined a small group and we took turns pulling as we rode across the rolling roads and through the farmland. They lost me on the descent of the 78.


I was comfortable sitting in at nearly 30 mph with cars and motorcycles whizzing by. At the bottom, it was back onto Bandy Canyon although this time to the side of the road and back in the dirt. The trail weaved backwards and forwards and eventually sat us back out onto the road where there was the climb back and then the road descent back down Highland Valley back towards Lake Hodges.

There was one Aid Station around Mile 100 and I met back up with Becca who had parked the Van and walked in with a Cool Box full of goodies. I resumed riding and was put back on a section I had covered during the camp. This time, however, I was riding it from the other direction. I knew there were some tricky short climbs and descents and with a few dabs and a lot of grunting I managed to get through 99% of the Lake Hodge section without having to walk. At the end was a surprise Aid Station had the dregs of a water cooler and I took what I could and moved on. With around 25 miles left I was on the home straight…kinda!

There followed on and off-road sections which wound their way towards the finish line. The previous days ride had dropped us onto the course about 5 miles from the start of the Double Peak climb and every time you rounded a corner you thought…or hoped that the 5 miles would start.

It came as a surprise when I did round a corner and came across the “Oasis”. I grabbed another coke and refilled the bottles and headed out again. More road, more dirt and more uphill. Finally I crested a small hill and recognized yesterdays’ section.

The climb up Double Peak is not long, but it’s steep and when you have 120 or miles on your legs it just goes on and on. There is small respite on the way up but then it pitches up again. There was a steady stream of riders heading down giving cheers of encouragement and motivation…easy to say when you could almost roll back to the start without a pedal stroke!

I finally got to the summit and made a point of riding right to the very top, stopping at the Aid Station, which was in the parking lot and then trying to get going again would be hard so I rode up to the top straight back to the Aid Station, chugged another coke and made the descent down.


The final ride back to the finish was mostly downhill. I had one eye on my Garmin and was riding as hard as I could to get a sub 11:00 finish. I passed a couple of folks who must have thought I was an idiot! My Garmin Edge 810 had 2% left and I wanted to beat it to the line!

I got caught at pretty much every light I could and used my best judgement.

The last right hand turn and some maneuvering around a truck in the way. A gentle roll up the curb and I was done!

Becca was there to catch the final 50 yards!


…and my Garmin! Well here you go!


So here are the post mortem thoughts;


I had been asked the day prior did I have a target time, I had replied around 9 hours. Obviously, I underestimated the day. That would have been a close to 15 mph day…I realized soon into the ride that around 10 hours was more realistic. With the added heat, I am pleased with my finish time of 11:02. I was especially happy that my total stoppage time for the day was only 35 minutes. This included the 5 or 6 Aid Stations I stopped at and a stop to pee.

With that said my actual goal of racing the event was more or less met. Pacing over that distance is hard. Could I have gone faster maybe? Looking at the data I spent 48% in HR Z3 and 14% in HR Z4 so 62% of my HR was “racing”! Food for thought for next time


I ate and drank a lot, way more than I have ever done with no adverse effect. Pretty much anything that was on offer was game, Becca had fresh fruit and Coke and the Aid Stations had more soda, water, PB&J and plenty of Clif Product. I specifically used SkratchLabs mixed with Base Amino.

My Lynskey Cooper CX was great…as always. I could have maybe gone with slicker tires but I had trained in the Clement USH XPlor and so they were the tires to ride in. I kept the bike lightweight with a Topeak Wedge II saddle bag, I like their bags, they are simple and do the job and the “click” feature makes them easy to move around. Inside it contained had 2 tubes, 2 C02, a tire boot, a quick link and a multi tool, I carried a small pump and that was it. My water bottles were CamelBak Insulated Podiums, they are a bit heavy and they are not throwaway bottles but they keep my drink cold and that’s a real treat when you’re cooking in the sun!

What could I improve?

More time on the course, more time on my gravel bike would have helped. I have race ridden it this year at more events but predominantly my training is on my road bike. The Lynskey does have a Stages and having more insight into that would be a better thing for pacing. Something to consider for next year.

Other than that,…well I think that’s it!

And so, finally, about the event.


I have to confess that I was somewhat intimidated by this event, I doesn’t have the craziness of the Rock Cobbler and it’s not a pure gravel ride like Dirty Kanza. The general attendance of this race is fast road riders and that’s not the environment that I feel comfortable in. With that said, there is a saying to be X do what X does and I have watched enough cycling on TV that I know how to ride in a pack, it’s just that I don’t do that much. So when I did I focused on the wheel in front. I took my turns on the front and did my best to be safe and not in the way. I had concerns, as mentioned, above about having an issue early, this proved to be unfounded and I surprised how quickly riders got spread out.

Overall the event is amazingly organized. From the Expo to the Post Race Party. The route traverses several municipal areas and they all come together to support it.

Finally, it’s fun! Yes, it’s hard and yes it’s a bit out there but if you train for it you’ll be fine!

Here’s the Strava details let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The Lynskey got a little facelift. I added a little length to the stem going from a 100mm to a 110mm. I switched out the Ergoterra bars to Ergonova bars from 3T. The Ergonova have flatter tops which is more comfortable for climbing and they are a little narrower 42 (vs 44) which makes them my position a little tighter and aero on the bike. This with the longer stem lowers me down. I also have added a 3T Stylus seat post which is carbon and should give me a marginally softer ride vs. the aluminum Doric post I had before. It’s topped with a trusty ISM Prolouge, yes it’s odd looking but it’s my ass!

I am reusing the Fizik bar gel and I have soft touch Fizik tape to match out the all-black trim look. The bike also has a Stages PM so I can ride to power and not burn too many matches too soon, it’s going to be a challenge given the changing terrain.

Other than that the bike is unchanged from BWR Camp in January!

Lynskey BWR

I am always in awe of how sharp this bike looks!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Summary

Another solid month.

With that said the month’s structured training got messy with two events on the calendar, The Mullholland Challenge and L’etape California. The taper into the rides was minimal but the recovery post ride took a few days to get through, although the recovery for L’Etape fell into May. Next up is the BELGIAN Waffle ride on May 21This is an A race and my goal is to race it, not just complete of survive! Three weeks of solid training and some final dialing of the Lynskey and I’ll be set!


I was able to keep the average of 1000 miles a month afloat so I am pleased with that!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review; Waterfield Club Cycling Pouch

Failing eyesight and the need for reading glasses was the primary driver for upgrading my iPhone at the tail end of last year. I moved from a 6 to a 7+. Of course, the bigger font came with a bigger screen, this meant there was a need for a bigger pockets on my cycling jerseys. Or at least more room being taken up in my pocket by my phone. The problem was further exacerbated by my desire to ride with a Wahoo dongle to capture my outdoor rides within TrainerRoad. The end result was a phone and cable sticking out of the pocket. Not want to have a $1000 phone eject out of my pocket on the road or trail I spent some time looking for an option for keeping it safe and secure. I came across a few possible options that had no problem housing the phone but the cables were always the problem. The cases were just not long enough to allow for the cables poking out the bottom, the opening was on the side and wouldn’t accommodate the phone and cable or they were just plain expensive, upwards or $100 for some.

Some weeks into my search I came across WaterField designs. They offered the Club Cycling Pouch which had the unicorn of phone pouches, a closure at the end rather than the side. According to their website it was large enough to hold the phone, a CO2 cartridge, multi-tool, credit card, cash and key. They offer two versions; the Black Ballistic and the Brown Canvas, I opted for the Black version as it was a bit less conspicuous. I placed my order and a few day later it turned up. It only had to come from San Francisco so by distance standards it was local

I was really impressed with the overall build quality of the Club Pouch. It’s very well made and has some very nice features;

  • The zip closure has a self-sealing water proof barrier
  • There is a separated phone sleeve within the pouch that is lined with soft material to not scratch your phone’s screen
  • It’s lined and the fabric has a great look and feel
  • The ballistic nylon exterior seems to be very resilient
  • It’s made in America and it looks gosh darn nice!
  • I have ridden with it several times now, including Strada Rosso, and I have to say so far so good.

It slips easily into a jersey pocket. It’s actually a perfect fit so it’s not sloping about. It does poke out some but unless you have super deep pockets that’s going to happen.

I have a saddle bag on my bike and so I don’t have any need for the items that WaterField suggests you carry. I have opted for the Professor Gadget version and carry an Anker Lipstick charger for my Phone and Garmin as well as cables to support that. I have cash in there too.

It doesn’t quite do what I need it to do. I am unable to zip it closed with the extra cable but I can get the zip far enough around so that everything is secure in the pouch. No doubt without my additional cables the zip would close without issue. That said this would something to consider if you are wanted to charge your phone and ride as the charging cable has some section that sticks out.

I decided to not remove my phone case while using it. I do stop and take photos and protecting your phone while riding only to drop it on the side of the road would be maddening to say the least. My phone case is not huge but it is a snug fit in the specifically lined section. I just use the other section without any issues.

So overall this is definitely one of the better cases out there. Protection and access are often counter point to each other and the Club Cycling Pouch  does a good job of balancing the two. In an ideal world, for me, it would be a quarter inch wider and a half inch longer but my use case is pretty specific so for most people I think this is a great option.

I purchased the Pouch directly from their website. It’s priced at $49 so it’s not cheap but as a percentage of a cost of replacement phone it is, in my mind, good value for money!


The Club Cycling Pouch was purchased by me. See previous gear reviews in the tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Friday, April 14, 2017

April FTP Test

Looking back at my TrainerRoad history it was November that I did my last FTP Test. Since then I have gone through the CX Training Plan and since the new year both of the Sweet Spot High Volume Base Plans. With hindsight I should have tested my FTP at the beginning of the year but I didn’t. Deep down inside I probably thought it was higher than I was riding at. I was coming off some long endurance months with Dirty Kanza in the Summer and my second Everesting in the Fall. Neither of these are ideal for working up to CX season where races last 45 minutes and you are in Zone 5 for most of it!

So in reality my FTP of 258 was too high through the Winter but I stuck with it through the Spring with the expectation that I would ride “up” to it during the base phases.

As I closed out the first 6 weeks of the Sweet Spot Plan Sweet Spot plan, TrainerRoad announced that they had revised the plans and had added more Sweet Spot rides that are shorter duration vs Endurance rides at the weekend. This didn’t really impact me as most of my weekend rides are outside, at least the Sunday one is. This is weather not withstanding and there have been a few weeks that the week has been sunny and the come the weekend it’s been raining. Not that I am a fair weather rider per se but I am all for making the best use of my time and 2 hours of quality on the trainer far outweighs 3 or even 4 hours in the rain!

So with all that said it was at the start of the next Phase; Build, specifically the Sustained Power Build plan that I sat down and geared up for a FTP test.

I have done enough of these to know what I need to do to make it as successful as possible. I was a couple of days past the Mulholland Challenge and I felt that I had recovered enough. I have a pretty stedy routine for days like this and the key to it to try and make sure every variable is accounted for; time of day, tire pressure, drivetrain cleaned, fluids and so on are all the same as the last time…or as close as I can get.

I use the TrainerRoad 20 Minute FTP test but I front it with my own designed warm up ride. This is simply a 15 minute ride with increasing power that is designed to get the legs spinning and get me, well…warmed up!

I completed my warm up and rode through the first 30 minutes of the test which is in itself a warm up. started the test. I break the actual test into 5 minute sections. I am pretty sure most people do this as thinking about the entire 20 minutes can be a bit overwhelming.

The target power, per TR was 265, I was aiming for 275 which was slightly over but based on recent rides I thought was achievable.

The first 5 minutes went well. I settled in nicely and was having no issues. In the second 5 minutes my only concern was my cadence which was up in the mid to high 90s, faster than I typically ride, I momentarily changed gear and my cadence dropped to 85 and my power shot up over 300 watts. I knew I wouldn’t able to hold that for the remainder of the ride and so I switched back. The net effect of fussing about with the gears was to unbalance the 5 minutes of target vs actual and so I was slightly down. The third 5 minutes is usually the trickiest. You’re past the halfway point and you’re counting down to the end but it’s such a long way to go. That said with the earlier fussing I focused my mind and cruised through. The final 5 minutes is a count down and during the last minute I dialed it up and increased the power. The last section of the ride is the cool down and this was something I needed. My HR had topped out at 170 which is high for me on the bike! 


The calculation post ride is almost instant and TrainerRoad spent no time in telling me I had increased my FTP 2 points up to 260. I was a little disappointed but the extra 1 or 2 points I was hoping for were no doubt lost during the second 5 minutes’ interval and in future I need to look at the gearing to find something that lets me sit at the 90 rpm cadence. There is always something for the future.

So with all that said my new FTP is the highest it’s ever been. I do think that I was correct in my assumption that I have ridden back up to the prior 258 during the last 8 weeks.

The next step on the plan is the Sustained Power Build, this is an eight week cycle. L’etape and BWR will land on weekends during but that’s the way the plans roll out and it can’t be helped.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Planet Ultra Mulholland Challenge

The Mulholland Challenge is the first in a three-part King (or Queen) of the Mountain Challenge organized by Planet Ultra. When the say challenge, they mean it. The ride is posted as 106 miles and around 12,000’ of gain. It actually came in at just over 107 miles and over 13,200’ of gain. It zig zags across the Santa Monica Mountains with ascents and descents up many of the storied climbs and a few that are less so.

My goal for this race was to ride it faster than last year. While I have had a big year in terms of mileage so far my overall elevation gain is a little less than I hoped. That said I was going off a serious block of training having completed the TrainerRoad Sweet Spot Base plan. More thoughts on my plan to follow in a later post.

The strategy for the ride was to get out as early as possible. The event had a relaxed starting policy that let you start anytime between 6:30-8:00am depending on your anticipated finish time. Becca dropped me off which was great as that ensured I wasn’t hanging or driving around looking for parking. After a quick pit stop in the host hotel I was on the road by 6:45am-ish. The morning was cloudy and cool and would make for a cold start but expected to soon warm up, even more so on when I started climbing.

The majority of the riders were more punctual than me and as is my modus operandi I had missed the actual start. No worries, navigating around or within other riders was one less thing to worry about.

As mentioned the ride traverses the Santa Monica Mountains. The first section was centered around the Topanga Canyon end, south of Las Virgenes (aka Malibu Canyon). After an uneventful ride out along Mulholland Highway, I caught up with the first of the tail-enders after 10 miles. A sharp right onto Topanga and a quick climb to get our climbing legs and lungs ready we were treated the first decent into Topanga Village. Nice and steady. The next climb was up Old Topanga. I settled into a nice steady pace, quick light spinning with a high output. As I got to the top I passed a few more riders. A twisty and wet descent dictated the easy pace as we rolled back down the other side. This proved to be a wise choice as close to the bottom several fire trucks and an ambulance were dealing with, what looked to be, a nasty accident with a tandem.

IMG_3148At the bottom was the first Aid Station. With cool temperatures, all I needed was a checkpoint sticker as proof of me passing through. A rolling section took us to the bottom of Stunt. This was the first of the major climbs. I have ridden it several times, most recently with Becca. It’s not long at about 4 miles with about 1300’ of gain. My ride up took 29:28, by far not my fastest time but there were traffic signals at the bottom where a construction crew was clearing dirt off the road from the overnight rain. For reference Phil Gaimon (former Cannondale Pro has the KOM in 16:03!).


I picked up a few more riders along the way and at the top I was 2:40 in and had covered 37 miles. A little over a third in distance. The descent down Piuma was a little sketchy. The low cloud had decided enough was enough and to release its load. It was less than a minor shower but enough to make the road wet. I eased up and rolled down knowing that as the road unwound at the bottom there was a sharp right turn. The turn came and my caution proved a good move as there were plenty of cars at the bottom lining up for a local restaurant for breakfast.

Back onto Mulholland and we were riding back the way we came to the next section. Let’s call this the Rock Store section. At the bottom was the second Aid Station. Tucked away off the road there were bathrooms and water as well as some bars and bananas. I scoffed several bananas and left. This was about halfway.


A quick word on my nutrition/hydration plan. My bottles were filled with Raspberry Skratch. I like it fairly strong and so there was a scoop and a half per bottle. I have also taken to cutting it with Base Aminos. This combination has been working well in replacing electrolytes and muscle fueling. It has been working really well. In terms of nutrition I had started with a handful of bars; Rx, Lara and Clif and then I would take whatever the Aid Stations had to offer. A bar an hour and half a bottle an hour was the rough consumption level, a little more fluid when the sun came out.

The ride up Rock Store was simple. Crossing over Kanan and then a little extra climbing up Encinal to get to the top of the Mulholland descent. This section is where I completed my first Everesting and so the ride down was very familiar. At the bottom, it was a right turn onto PCH and slap bang into a headwind! Well this sucks I thought and it did for the short ride to the base of Yerba Buena. I stopped at the base and stripped off my vest. The cloud had cleared and it was warming up. Yerba is a pretty climb, the views are pretty in the canyon, the road is pretty shitty and the climb is pretty steep! A steady 3 mile climb to the next Aid Station and then, at least in my mind, the worst section of the ride; Cotharin. The road is terrible, it’s only a mile long but you gain 500 or so feet. In the end, it actually wasn’t that bad and in reality the descent down Deer Creek proved to be much more challenging with a heavy side wind trying to blow you into the middle of the road. Back on PCH I headed South and had a nice tail wind which gave me back some of the time lost pedaling North.

IMG_3150IMG_3152I was left with the final climb, Decker, back to the finish. As with all the other climbs I kept a constant pace and a light spin. I caught a couple more riders. My reward at the top was the final Aid Station that had cans of coke! I drank half of one and departed. Of course, this wasn’t the final climb but it was the last “categorized” one. What remained by comparison were nothing but rollers.

IMG_3138Finally, back at base level all that was left was a quick flat finish to the finish line.

Digits from the day; 106.7 miles. No cruising round the parking lot to round up! 13,209’ in 7:50 moving time and 8:25 elapsed.

Overall I was really pleased, I rode a sensible ride and kept a solid work output through the day. I was reduced my ride time by 25 minutes from the prior year and my elapsed time by a total of 37 minutes!

IMG_3144There is no doubt this is not an easy ride. But it’s definitely doable with some preparation and training.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Redlands Strada Rossa IV

This is beyond late in being written and posted but to be honest work got busy and it wasn’t the best of days so I really wasn’t that inclined to sit down and put finger tips to keyboard. But here I am and it will serve as a good reminder when registration comes round again for Redlands Stada Rossa V next year, skip this event.


As a reminder, I rode this race last year but crashed and ended up limping home with a DNF and with my rear derailleur shot and not being able to change gears. So this year I had unfinished business. It was only to be a B race or possibly even a C race but it would be a good opportunity to put my newly installed 11 speed groupset on the Lynskey through its paces and give me a pretty good sense of how I was coming along fitness-wise in the grand scheme of things.


Nice and Shiny! It lasted about 30 minutes!

The event is a fundraiser for the Inland Empire Cycling Alliance. Inland Empire is with San Bernadino and is roughly 120 miles or a solid two-hour drive from my house.

The morning and drive out was uneventful, albeit an early one. About halfway into the drive I realized I had left my wallet behind and that I didn’t have enough gas to get home…so no stress there!

I considered my options; turnaround, call Becca and say could she come out and help, call the AAA or beg someone for some cash! As luck would have it I had been contacted by one of the organizers asking if I could donate some raffle prizes and had a name of someone who could (hopefully) lend me $20 to get home! I had quickly reached out the companies that I am an Ambassador for and to a few others that I know. Unfortunately, I couldn’t drum up anything in the few days’ notice I was given so I raided my closet and found some unworn Truckers from Headsweats. Some socks and a cap from 3T. A few bags of Skratch were pulled from my kitchen cabinet. 3TrainerRoad generously chipped in a 3 month subscription and Thread & Spoke created a special coupon code. I was armed with a box full of swag, a name and a need to borrow some cash!

An enforced stop to find a bathroom put me a little behind schedule and by the time I arrived, met my contact, begged some money, handed off the swag and got my bike the horn blew for the start and we rolled out. 200 yards in I then realized I had forgotten sunscreen, with the possibility of an 8 hour or longer day it seemed stupid to not stop, I quickly shot back to the car and slathered myself. Of course, the small-ish group of 90 mile riders were out of sight! Bugger!

Fortunately I had the route in my Garmin and I was able, after a couple of wrong turns, to get onto the route without too much drama. The first 5-6 miles or so was on and off road but nothing too problematic. There were a few more wrong turns but I quickly corrected my errors and was happily making my way along thinking that I would catch sight to the main group riders at some point. Yeah about that!


Getting out of town…and following tire marks in the dirt!

At Mile 8 the route went off road and here I made a fatal error and missed a turn completely. With hindsight, I should have turned around but at the time it seemed I was on the right trail. I spent an hour riding, hiking up slopes, hiking down slopes, carrying my bike and covered between 5-6 miles. I finally found the missed turning and was back on track. However, I was obviously a long way behind the 90 mile riders. I referenced the route card and altered the distances so I knew what to add on to the miles on my Garmin.


Rideable, Carryable…it’s all the same!

I did some math on the timing and thought that I would probably miss the first Aid Station as it was only serving the 90 mile ride. Even though there were no posted times for AS closing I was so far behind that it only made sense. I though therefore that I would hit the second AS for me which was the first AS for the metric century riders who had set off 30 minutes after me. I would be at Mile 27 including my extra 6 miles and they would be at Mile 13. Don’t worry about the math, just know that I would find an AS at some point!


As I closed in there were no signs of any AS, no popup tent, no empty water jugs, not a soul. Ok I thought then hopefully I would catch something at AS 3 (#2 for the Metric riders) at M44/M29 respectively. I was riding back on the road at this point but had no cash on me to resupply so I went into a gas station, ducked down, used their ice machine to fill my bottles and left. I rode onto the next AS location and as before nothing. Fortunately, this was in a park and I found a water fountain and filled up both my bottles which had some ice left in each!

At this point I been covered 60 miles and been on the go for nearly 7 hours. I had started with two full bottles of Skratch, refilled them with ice around mile 40. I had also grabbed a couple of Clif and RX Bars from home. Usually I would rely on real food but I hadn’t had any time to whip up any portables.


Any port in a storm!

Fortunately I am not a heavy drinker and it was not an overly hot day. There was some cloud cover and wasn’t over heating or even close to it. There were a couple of tough climbs where I got a good sweat on and some pretty rough sections but I was managing on my minimal supply and had started to actually ration myself. My food was gone and with 30 miles or so go I had two full bottles of Skratch and the slim possibility of actually finding an AS location manned. I thought it would be around another 2 – 3 hours of riding as I was averaging 12 miles in the hour. I should probably mention that for the entire day after the start I didn’t see one other rider, not one!

I chipped away at the mileage and actually recognized some of the route from the prior year albeit it we were riding in reverse. I was rolling along and minding my own business when I overcooked it on a descent and went over the bars, the bike landed in a heap next to me and my shiny new shifters were all nicely scratched. This added insuIt to injury. I nice cut on my knee rounded things out. I remounted and got on with the day. No point sitting there pouting!

Despite the lack of fuel and fluid I was feeling pretty confident of finishing but it was becoming a race against time to beat the battery on my Garmin. I had, somewhere along the route, lost my route card and without the Garmin I would be lost too. I did have my phone and I was skirting civilization as I went from road section to off road section so there was no real issue of being lost in the woods so to speak. Also unlike last year there were pretty good course markings with chalk arrows and plastic cones so I was able to follow those quite easily.

Long days like this are often more mental than physical, a fact born out by the technical data; Ave HR 128, NP144. Pushing on when you really just want to say ‘eff this is something that is hard to explain but every pedalstroke is getting you closer to the finish. It becomes an internal narration of continuous forward motion and one where you know that stopping just isn’t an option. Anyway, no one is coming to get you!

With all that said it all came a head quickly; my Garmin gave out a final chirp and died. I was in the back of residential area and couldn’t find any arrows or cones. I rode up, down, left and right and really gave it a good go to find the route but I just couldn’t see anything to follow.

I pulled out my phone, hit Google Maps and pulled up the directions back to the car and the start/finish. I was 9 miles away, I would miss the last 2 or 3 off road sections but it was basically the same net mileage. I turned up the volume and listened to the directions as I rolled back to the start. I was expecting to see the promised food and drink and folks telling war stories and the like. I found a deserted parking lot!

I cleaned up, headed to a gas station, grabbed some food from Trader Joes where I could pay with my iPhone and drove the 2 hours home!

If you want to know about the course my best advice is to download the oute and go and ride it. If you are interested here is my Strava file. I am sure it will change next year anyway. It’s not easy or for the fair weather rider. This year was easier than last I am told and I would agree. It’s a long technical day that challenges your fitness and bike handling skills. Compared to the few other Gravel events I have ridden it was much more technical on the off road sections.


I had thought to berate and complain about the event. The mysterious missing Aid Stations were apparently there and I have seen photos online from other riders on the course and at the finish line! By my best guestimate I finished somewhere around 2-3 hours after the second to last person. I would certainly not expect anyone to wait for me for that long and I had signed away my life with the standard waiver at the start. It’s an adventure after all!

There are things that could be improved, this year was better than last and I am sure next year will improve again but my love affair with Strada Rosso is over. I had gone to the race to close unfinished business from last year and even though I didn’t quite ride the entire course and I added a section of my own design, I more or less covered the distance and I was certainly out there for the duration.



My Fenix3, which has a better battery life then my Edge810, recorded for just over 11 hours in total, of which 9 hours was moving. I covered 93 miles and 7800’ of gain.

Strava categorized the day as Epic, I wouldn’t disagree!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DuraAce 9000…is that 9000 miles?

There is definitely some irony to this post! Last month I wrote about how my Cervelo had rolled 20,000 miles. For the record it’s currently at 21,043 miles.


This week the bike developed a noticeable clunk in the bottom bracket/crankset area. So much so that I could feel it through the soles of my shoes. Today I dropped it off at my local Service Course; Wins Wheels and explained the issue. No worries they would check it out and let me know. Not three hours later they called to let me know that the drivetrain was in their words “dead”.

I am a big believer in logging the details and as I use SportTracks to log my mileages on gear I was able to see that it was actually 364 days ago that the Groupset upgrade was made. I also saw that a little over 8800 miles had been accumulated since the upgrade. The last time the bike was in the shop was November for the BB change and since then I have added another 4000+ miles. It’s frightening how quickly things add up when you ride around an 1000 miles a month. It has basically gotten to the point that I am wearing things out!

Anyway, long story short, new chain rings, cassette and chain. This also means new cassettes on two other wheelsets too. Wins is great in that they have no compunction if you want to source the parts yourself. Unfortunately with the Mulholland Challenge this weekend and a busy week at work I have no time so I was more than happy to let them pull the spares off of their shelves.

Two more hours later I was back in the shop picking the bike up and looking at the new shiny bits!


For reference, a chain should last about 2000 miles, Cassettes and Chaining rings should last about twice that. Of course, that depends a lot on how and where you ride and how much you look after you kit. If you abuse it and live someplace where there is a winter and all the fun weather that goes with that it could be much shorter! Either way it is significantly less than 9000 miles!

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Summary

WOAH! That escalated quickly!

The month got pretty big pretty fast! The nice thing is that the accumulation is driven by the training and not the other way round. Unless you have been hiding under a rock you will know that I am using TrainerRoad for my training. Specifically I have been following the Sweet Spot Base High Volume Plans. I will cover the plans in more detail in a different post. But to summarize (and copy from TR’s website);

The Sweet-Spot block is the most efficient form of base training for 99% of cyclists — it’s what we recommend. You’ll train in the Sweet-Spot, Threshold and VO2max power zones for a blend of interval training that makes you stronger, faster.”

There have been typically only two diversions away from the plan have been a recovery ride on a Monday which, per the plan, is a rest day. From experience having an easy ride sets up for a better week. Long outdoor rides at the weekend have supplemented the training and given me the opportunity to put into practice some of the training and keep my road skills sharp…well you know it’s all relative.


The only event this month was the Redlands Strada Rosso. Turned out (again) to not be the event I planned for. I still need to write up the report and will post that soon…it’s still sinking in!

Coming up in April I have two road events; Mullholland Challenge and the L’Etape so lots of climbing and then some more climbing!

Strength training…yeah still need to work on that!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

20,000 Miles and Onwards…

So my Cervelo R3 rolled 20,000 miles!

By today’s standards it’s a dated bike, I like to think of it as a classic! I got it back in October 2010…wow! To be honest it was a cross training tool back then as I was much more focused on running and then triathlon. It was only in the last 3 years that the bike has edged out the running shoes and wetsuit. I have since sold my Tri Bike and wetsuit and a pair of running shoes now lasts six months rather than two! 


Ready for ride #1 Miles 0

The Cervelo has changed during that time and it’s interesting (at least to me) to see the progressive changes over time. In fact all that really remains is the frame, headset and handlebars! Here is a quick mind dump of things that I can remember.

The bike came with a stock mechanical Shimano Ultegra 10 speed Groupset in time I added a Stages Power Meter. The bike obviously came without pedals and so I installed SpeedPlays. When Garmin sent me a Vector2 Pedalset/Power meter I converted over and removed the Stages. Eventually I upgraded the entire Groupset and now it’s running a mechanical DuraAce 9000 11 speed with a 34/50 and 11/30 gearing. Plenty of teeth for climbing!

Originally the bottom bracket was a standard English Shimano model, this was changed to a Hawk Racing BB, less friction and more speed! Additionally Hawk Racing pulley wheels replaced the standard DuraAce wheels in the rear derailleur.

The original wheelset were stock Fulcrum Racing 7, these got changed to Fulcrum Racing Quatros and since then upgraded to either DuraAce9000 C-24s for climbing or 3T OrbisII 50mm deep wheels for the flat stuff. I used to ride Scwable UltremoZX 23mm tires, this changed to Scwable OnePro 25mm tires in time. More recently I have ordered a pair of Clement Strada LGG 25mm tires as the OnePros need replacing. I have become a fan of Clement tires since using them for Dirty Kanza and all my other gravel rides and also for CX racing last season.

The bike came with a zero setback 3TCycling seat-post, which was immediately changed for a 25 setback post. That post cracked a year ago and so it was replaced.

While these are small changes in themselves the biggest change has been to my position. I started with a 3TCycling 90mm Arx stem. I am riding the same make and model stem but it is now a 120mm and I am thinking of pushing that out to 130mm. After 7 years I finally got the steerer trimmed too!

The stock Fizik saddle was 86d after one ride, I gutted it out with a Selle Italia one that matched the frame but not my ass for another couple of years until finally converting over to an ISM Prologue. In fact all my bikes have this saddle. Good enough for 227 miles and 29,000’ of climbing!

It still has the original Serfas bottle cages that I mounted

The Garmin mount has been replaced with a Cycliq DuoMount.


Approching 21,000 miles later…

I hesitate to put this down here and it will probably jinx me but I have managed to never crash it and it actually only has a couple of minor blemishes in the clear coat!

I am constantly on the lookout for something new and alas I cannot afford my dream frame, a Cervelo RCA which is won’t see any change out of $10,000 for the frame and fork alone!

Whatever I find it’s got a lot to live up to!