Sunday, 9 June 2013

14.05.13 Bay Ride

I decide that it is time to get out there start riding with other people.  As much as I like riding alone as well as training alone because you can go as fast as you like or as slow as you like depending on how you are feeling.  When riding in a bunch you go as fast as the testosterone that is leading the bunch.  My new bike shop does a late bunch ride on a Tuesday night and I have decided that it is now time to join them.  My concern is the fact that I will not be on Catalina.  There are certain rules that you must adhere to when riding in a pack.  Things such as swinging your left arm from the bars to halfway up your back to show that there is an obstruction on your left hand side coming up albeit a car or a curb etc. to calling out when you are braking or slowing down.  One of the rules generally is that on a bunch ride such as this, you don't bring a bike with aero bars and if you do, you don't go down on them in the bunch.  Why??? Because when you are down on the bars you are not near the brakes and considering that you are about 5-10cm away from the back wheel of the person in front of you and if they suddenly break then you will not have time to react and will be on the ground quicker than they can say "braking!"

I arrive at the shop and say hello to Paul, Mike and Gareth.  It is a nice night tonight so I am looking forward to the ride but my only concern is that I will not be able to hang on.  If I can't hang on then it is going to be a lonely ride home along the bays.  We start out and head down to Freiberg pool.  To get there we are having to dodge traffic as well as lights so the real pace will not show itself until we really get going.  We all meet up at the pool and before too long we are off.  The pace is quick but I am feeling really good.  Since the slight adjustments on my old bike have been made I actually feel really good on it.  How good I feel will soon reveal itself as the pace has just picked up.

I find myself second from the back.  Not the place I would normally like to be but I don't want to be in anyone's way and until I can determine the pace of the pack I am happy to be here.  I quickly realise that this is the place to be as the pace has certainly picked up.  I am hanging on with no issues and look down to see we are sitting on around 35km an hour as we weave around the bays of Wellington.  The way that we are going usually determines what the other half of the ride will be like.  Bsaically if you are heading into a tail wind in the first section of the ride, then you have a head wind for the bulk of the ride.  We are moving and this is being assisted by the tail wind behind us.  Hopefully when we hit the turn into the headwind I will still be able to hang on.  We hit the turn and the pace quickens a little bit more as the big boys hit the front of the pack to drive into the wind.  I now find myself at the back of the pack with another person next to me and I am doing everything to stay on it.  I look across and meet Dee who is Mike's girlfriend for the first time.  I ask her if this is the normal pace and she says that it depends who is on the front.  Whoever is on the front is seriously going for it.

Just as quickly as we are going for it we slow down and bring the pack back to a normal speed.  It is good to see as there is nothing worse than when you fall of the back of a pack and then spend the rest of the ride on your own.  This pack does go for it but wait to bring the pack back together.  We hit a flat section before we go up a slight incline.  Dee warns me that the pace is about to pick up again.  She is right, there is a sprint to the top of the hill and everyone is going for it.  I stay at the back and although feel I can go faster, have no idea of what is to come so decide to pace myself.  I am not at the back anymore, I am obviously a little stronger on the hills than some but I am also no where near the front including Mike who has proven himself as a hill specialist.  We hit the top of the hill and descend back down the other side before we reform again.  The pack has again waited and we continue with each other until we hit another flat section before it is flat out again.  This continues until we hit the bottom of a huge climb that goes for around 2-3km.  It is one of those never ending climbs where you just have to get into a rhythm and go for it.  As soon as we hit the flat section the same people that jumped for the previous climb are at it again.  Before I know it, they are long gone and I am in for a long climb by myself.  I am halfway up and I can sense someone behind me.  I am not sure who it is but they go past me and tell me to jump on the back of their tyre.  Attached to them is Dee and attached to Dee is someone else.  We now have a train that has formed and we are all hanging on for dear life.  This is the part that I enjoy about being in a pack.  In this situation all you want to do is stop as your legs are burning but you know that it will be all the bit harder if you are dropped so you hang on.  You don't let that wheel in front of you no matter what.  As they say in cycling it is like an elastic band is attached to the person in front of you.  You can let it stretch a little but when it snaps say goodbye to the person in front of you.

We hit the top and again everyone is waiting for each other.  We have a drink and a snack and then we descend down to the city.  Victoria is away this week so I have the car at work.  I ride back to work and put the bike away before heading home.  I swam 2.5km this morning so by the time I get home I am shattered.  It was an awesome way to finish the day and after I have had something to eat I crash in bed enjoying a well deserved sleep.

Below is my bay ride information.
Bay Night Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Saturday, 8 June 2013

12.05.13 Longest ride of my life

It is Sunday.  The weather has been crap for the last couple of days however it has turned it on today.  I was busily checking the weather throughout the week in anticipation for a long ride.  Vic and Lachlan have headed to Auckland for a week so there is no rush for me on my ride today.  I decide that I really want to give Catalina a run for her money so there is a Haywards ride that I do that is around 80km and involves coming back home along a motorway.  This will enable me to be down on the aero bars and giving it my all to see how fast I can really go and how comfortable it will be for me.

I leave home and start the ride.  Today I am focussed on being down on the bars as often as possible.  I want to ensure that I get maximum time in that position to get used to it as well as maximise my speed for the ride.  I head past Tawa and as I have left a little later than usual (8:30am) there is a bit of traffic on the road however when I head out a little more there will be hardly anything.  I hit an area before Haywards Road which snakes around the water and is my favourite part of the ride especially when there is no wind.  I am down on the bars and starting to get used to the bars.  I am about to head to Haywards road.  It is a steady climb and was the scene of my crash about three months ago.  Haywards road is a steady climb before a descent back down to a highway.  It gets steep in parts but mostly it is a gentle climb.  I am riding along and feeling really good and strong.  I hit the main hill part and begin the climb.  As I keep mentioning this bike is not built for climbing but it just feels so much smoother climbing on this bike than my other bike.  It feels like me and the machine are one and all the power I am putting into my peddles is going straight into the wheels of the bike.  Before I know it I am at the top of the hill and I begin my descent down.

If this bike feels fast going on a straight, it is nothing compared to how it feels when it is going down hill.  It is scaringly fast!  Before I know it I am doing over 60km/hour.  The bike wants to go faster but I slow it down.  In no time at all I am at the bottom of the hill and back onto the freeway for my time trial ride to the turnaround point.  As per usual I am feeling really good and see the turnaround point but I decide that I am feeling too good to turnaround now.  We recently went and did some tree planting at the Kaitoke National Park which is only around another 5km away.  I decide that this will be the turnaround point today.  I am starting to get a bit hungry now so looking forward to having a break.  I make it to the turnaround point and pull out a couple of bars and chill out in the sun enjoying the fact that I have just completed 51km and am feeling sensational.

I begin to head back and in no time at all I have passed the turnaround point that I usually stop at.  I begin the long time trial back but the first part is now busy with traffic and the bike lane is not as big as it is further along so I am reluctant to get down on the bars.  Eventually I hit an area at about the 65km mark where it is a flat ride home.  I am down on the bars and sitting over 40km with ease.  I am back into town in what feels like no time at all.  I head to the old bike shop that I used to go too and order a nice coffee whilst sitting out in the sun.  It is the first time I realise that I am going to do close to a 100km ride.  If that is the case it will be the longest ride of my life.  I finish my coffee and jump back on the bike to complete the second last hill of the day.  I make it up the hill fairly easily even though it is a really steep and tough climb and begin the short ride home.  After the hill I suddenly realise that I am about to bonk!  I am all of a sudden really hungry and need to eat but only have a short distance to go home so decide to keep going.  I am closing in on home and know that I will be short of my 100km so decide to do a quick loop to ensure that I make the 100km mark but my stomach is telling me otherwise.  I don't listen to my body and complete the short loop.

I am starving now.  I still have one last hill to go (the hill of death). This hill has got me before and it will get me again today as I am struggling up it.  Eventually I make it home and I am ravenous.  I park the bike outside and come straight down to the kitchen to start getting something to eat.  I have not even looked at my watch to see how far I have gone.  All I am interested in is showing some bread with jam on it in my face as quickly as possible.  I have some more water and I am feeling instantly better.  I look at my watch and I have done 100.12km.  I am glad I did the extra loop as I would have been upset if I had just missed out on the 100km.  The amazing thing is that although I was starving, my body feels fine.  This bike has just done something to me.  It has made me realise that the distance I can travel on it is limitless at this point in time.  I have struggled through my Half Ironman races after doing 90km of predominantly flat courses yet I have done a 100km ride today made up of three to four good hills and I am still feeling good.  How far can I go on this bike?  Can I go 180km and complete an Ironman?  I am starting to think that I can...

Below is the ride for you to see.
Haywards Road Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My first long ride with Catalina!

It is my first real ride on Catalina.  It is a perfect morning with not much wind.  I have to be back at home by 10:30 so want to do around a 3 hour ride however it has been a long week and I enjoy a little bit of a sleep in.  I decide to do a loop around Makara Peak and then along the bays before heading home.  This ride normally takes around 4 hours so I may have to cut it short.

I leave the house and immediately enjoy the relaxed position on the bars as I am heading down hill.  Instead of bars that go around like a normal road bike, the P5 only have bars that go straight out which provide a comfortable position when going down hill or sprinting up hill, and the aero position.  I start the climb up to the road that heads to Makara and as mentioned previously this bike is not a climbing bike, so it is a tough climb.  I eventually hit the flatter section of the ride and am able to get down on the  aero bars for the first time.  It feels really insecure as I am so tucked in and I am reluctant to get down on the bars even on some flat sections.  I gradually get more confident and begin to enjoy the comfortable position that the bars provide.  I head over the Makara Peak and into the city before heading into the bay loop.  This loop is slightly secluded from normal traffic so gives me more opportunity to test my aero riding position.

I am feeling so comfortable it is crazy.  My back does not hurt and I am just cruising along.  I am up on the bars and I am sitting on 35km/hour.  I go down on the bars and instantly I am going 1km/hour faster.  I get back down on the bars and continue to ride along until I hit the airport.  I would normally continue past the airport but I am running out of time.  I am actually disappointed as I am feeling sensational and want to see how far I can go but turn around and head back home.  I am hitting more flat sections and spending more time on the aero bars.  I make it to the city and look down at the clock to see that I have only 20 minutes to make it home by 10:30.  It would normally take me at least 30 minutes so I am going to have to go for it.  I start my trip home and at every possible opportunity I get down on the bars to help me get home as fast as possible.

I eventually make it home, 10 minutes later than expected but as mentioned feeling sensational.  I would have loved to keep riding but my mum is over and we are heading out.  I make it home after completing 73km which feels like it is around a 40km ride.  It has taken me 2 hours and 53 minutes and below are the details of the ride.

Makara Short Loop 04.05.13 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Taking the P5 home...take two!!

I ride to swimming on my old bike knowing that today I will finally be picking up the P5 to take home. I complete my swim session and then ride to work.  I have a quick shower and eat some breakfast whilst I wait for the shop to open and then I walk my old bike there.  When I arrive at the shop they are still working on my P5.  As I walk in, Ricardo is in the process of refilling the brake lines with hydraulic fluid.  It now has the drink holder on the back seat with a light attached and by the end of the day it will be ready to take home.

I head back to work and thanks to me being exceptionally busy, the day fly's by.  I get changed before walking back up to Capital Cycles to pick up the bike.  I arrive and the P5 is there waiting for me.  Paul wants to have one last look at me on the bike so we put it on the wind trainer.  I get changed out of my Vibrams that I have brought with me and quickly realise that I have left my socks back at work.  I just put on my new bike shoes and Paul decides to make an adjustment of my seat by bringing it up slightly.  It feels a little uncomfortable so we put it back down again.  It is now time for me to go for some long rides and test it out before we make any further adjustments.  I take the bike off the wind trainer, get a couple of complimentary drink bottles, fill them with water and then wheel the bike out of the shop for the second time.  I make it back to work, pick up my socks and my backpack and get ready to ride home.

I attach my Garmin watch to the bike and then enter the traffic for the ride home.  As I have already ridden it home once before, I am a little bit more confident and very soon I am feeling good.  There is a lot of traffic on the way home however there are lots of flat sections before the steep climb home.  With no major stops for traffic lights and slowing down for cars and buses that pull out in front of me, I should be able to get down on my aero bars and really test the bike out.  The stopping at lights is giving me time to test the new cleats of my shoes.  They are still quite stiff due to them being new and clipping out and especially in, is very different to what I am used to.

I hit the major flat area and get down onto the aero bars.  The bars are much lower than what I am used to.  It also feels a little unstable as you are basically steering the front of the bike with your forearms.  But as soon as I am in the aero position, I am immediately comfortable and am easily sitting on around 37km/hour.  I get to the bottom of the gorge feeling really good and then begin the climb up the hill.  As I have mentioned before, this bike is not built for climbing so I am not expecting and major gains whilst going up hill.  In fact I am in the easiest gear possible but feel very comfortable.  I hit the Newlands turn off and for the first time I look down at my watch to see that it has only taken me 19 minutes.  I track this ride every time I ride home and I know that this time is fast.  I hit a slight and quick downhill before continuing the climb home.  I hit the last major climb up hill and by this stage I am definitely going quicker than ever before.  I make it home and stop the clock on 29:37.  I have just ridden faster than ever before.  The fastest time before this was 30:07 and that was when I was in peak condition just before my last Half Ironman in March.  I have stopped a couple of times because of lights and cars which has increased my time and yet I have still come home faster than ever before.  I put on my Vibram's and go for a warm down run.  I put the bike in the garage and proudly show it off again to  Vic.  The P5 is finally home and ready for me to ride!  Below is my ride home and a picture of my Cervelo P5 or as it will be known as now, Catalina.  Catalina is an Italian name that means 'pure'...a fitting name for this bike as it is 'pure' speed!!!

Ride home from work by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, 13 May 2013

Back to the shop with the P5

As I wheel the P5 into the shop the following morning, Ricardo who is one of the bike mechanics looks at me and says 'What happened?"  I tell him the story and he looks down at the rear brake and touches it then looks at his fingers to see fluid on them.  He tells me to leave the bike and come back later.

The day goes by and I have heard nothing from the bike shop.  I finish my day and then head back to the shop.  As I walk in I begin chatting to Mike and I fill him in on what has happened.  We start talking about a ride on the weekend and he invites me to it.  Whilst I am talking I can see another mechanic in the background looking like he wants to say something.  I turn to speak to him and he tells me that the bike is not ready.  I am then informed that the bolt that I had undone was actually the bolt for the hydraulic brake fluid and by pressing the break lever I have bled my breaks.  To fill the fluid back up again they have pulled out a plastic screw which is now broken and needs to be replaced.  They have to order the part in and it will hopefully be in on Saturday morning but most likely not until next week.  I am not happy however it teaches me a lesson though.  Gone are the days of simple mechanical fixes on a bike, they are now going to be complicated fixes only to be performed by skilled bike mechanics.  The last thing that I do before I leave Capital Cycles is book in my old bike for a service.  I need it to be working to the best of it's ability even though I will be spending most of my time on my new bike.  I will need it when riding in packs as well as some of my training of course any long rides or sprinting will be done on the P5.  My old bike is in a bit of a state.  Just before the Auckland Orca Half Ironman the gear shifting became extremely difficult, to the point that I could not change into the big chain ring on the front.  I struggled through the race in Auckland but it was now time to get it back in full working order.  I had negotiated a set of peddles for this bike so that my new shoes could be used on it rather than me having to switch back to my old shoes.  I leave the shop with my tail between my legs embarrassed that I have been the major cause of the problem with my new bike and upset that for the weekend I will not have my new ride.

Taking the P5 home

I ride my motorbike to swimming on Thursday Morning before driving to work excited with the prospect that I am picking up my bike that afternoon.  I have a busy day at work and before I know it is time to walk to the shop to pick up the bike.  The bike is ready for me and looks amazing.  The tube light has arrived and it is shown to me but I am not happy with it but have limited options.  I ask about drink holders.  We only have one position for a drink holder on the frame of the bike and we find one that matches the colouring of the bike and install it on the frame.  I also ask about rear drink bottle holders off the back seat as I will need at least two drink bottles when going for long rides.  We discuss the options and unfortunately there are none in stock so we need to order them in.  I then have the bright idea that if we mount a drink bottle holder on the rear of the bike, we can mount a light of that.  Mike agrees and shows me the options before we place an order for them to be delivered the following week.  Paul tells me to take the long way home and enjoy the ride and I suddenly realise that I have no spare gear should I get a puncture on the way home.  The light is also starting to fade and I have no rear lights.  I have a back pack on and we quickly mount a loan light on the rear and then Mike gathers a spare tube, tyre levers and a C02 canister and chucks it in a bag for me to use if required.

The time has come for me to wheel it out of the shop.  I am extremely nervous as the time is now around 4:45pm and I will have to ride home in virtual peak hour traffic.  I say goodbye to the boys and head out the door before joining the road and beginning the ride.  I hit traffic lights straight away and have to unclip my shoe.  It is very different to what I am used to and I am praying that I will not tip over.  I start to get used to the gearing and peddling down Willis Street before passing work and heading home.  As I hit an area with limited traffic I change up into the large chain ring and it makes a grinding noise before the chain comes off and jams on the bike.  A dropped chain is nothing major but I am a little embarrassed that it has happened and pull over to put the chain back on.  It is very hard to get the chain back on as it is really jammed between the frame and the chain ring.  Eventually I free the chain, put it back on and continue the ride.  The ride home is full of traffic and I am not confident to be down on the bars which is the most efficient position and will provide me with the greatest gain in speed compared to my previous bike.  Due to me not being able to get down on the bars as well as the stop start of traffic, the bike does not feel as amazing as I would have expected it to be.  Once I have ridden along the flat it is time to go up hill.  This bike is not built for climbing so again I will not see significant gains.  I make it home and proudly show off the bike to Victoria.  The first question she asks is how it feels and I tell her that it does not feel that different.  For the price I paid she is mystified how that is possible.  I get changed and go for a quick run to warm down before heading back home to admire my new purchase.

As I move the bike into the garage, the wheels move which is nothing unusual but I notice that the front wheel is spinning freely whilst the rear wheel has stopped. I take a closer look and spin the wheel whilst watching it.  The wheel is not spinning freely and I discover that the rear brake is rubbing on the wheel.  No wonder I felt nothing special on the ride home, the brake must have been knocked when the  chain came off and I have then ridden all the way home with resistance on the back wheel.  I grab some towels and turn the bike upside down to have a look.  The brake pad is definitely rubbing on the wheel.  I try to adjust it but cannot move it.  There is a panel that is hiding the brakes and I go and get some allen keys to have a better look.  I take off the cover but cannot move the brake lever.  I see a bolt that looks like it is holding the brake lever into position and start to unscrew it.  Nothing happens but I see some fluid coming from the bolt.  I squeeze the brake lever and the distance between the brakes and the wheel increases.  I tighten the bolt but now the brake is no longer working at all.  I am devastated!  I have had my bike for less than 1.5 hours and it is already broken.  After playing with the brake leaver for another 20 minutes or so I finally am resound to the fact that I will have to take the bike back to the shop.  I want the bike back for the weekend, surely it is an easy fix!  As the bike is unridable I put the bike in the back of the car before driving it to work so that I can wheel it to the shop in the morning.

The Final Fitting on my P5

Paul arrives and again apologises for being late for our fitting.  I forgive him as I can't wait to jump on the bike.  We put it on the wind trainer and begin to look at my positioning.  We have done the basic set-up on the bike and it is now time to make the final adjustments.  We start with putting my shoes on and again I am back down into the aero position similar to the other fitting.  Due to the measurements that have been taken on the previous fittings, no adjustments are required.

Paul then looks at my foot positioning.  He asks me to peddle whilst he sits on the floor.  He doesn't want my foot moving around too much as any major movement will result in loss of power.  I peddle around 8 times and then stop at the top of my stroke.  Paul then adjusts the cleat to my natural position when my foot hits the top and we do the whole process again around 5 times until he is happy with the minimal movement.  After we have completed one foot we move onto the other.

Paul then shines a laser on my leg as I am peddling that shows the line of my stroke and too see if I am going up and down and pushing through the peddle.  He shines the laser on my right leg and is happy with the position.  He shines the laser on my left leg and identifies a problem.  He asks me if I feel my left foot moving around at the bottom of the stroke.  I tell him that I have felt this during my rides on my old bike.  I thought it was a weakness in my left leg so I have been intentionally concentrating on pushing harder with my left leg.  It definitely feels different to my right leg but I never knew why.  Paul tells me to sit on the counter and he marks where both my left and right leg hang whilst I am relaxed.  He then puts a spirit level against the two and finds I am 8mm shorter in my left leg.  He grabs my shoe and goes into what he describes as his 'bits and pieces drawer' to try something.  He pulls out some foam which is around 5mm thick and cuts it into the shape of the innersole of my shoe.  He then puts both the innersole and foam in the shoe and asks me to put it on.  It is extremely tight but he just wants to see the difference.  I jump back on the bike and begin to peddle and amazingly I feel a difference.  He brings out the laser again and the difference is extraordinary.  Rather than me searching for the peddle at the bottom of my stroke resulting in a loss of power, I am now powering through the stroke with both legs and the laser is straight up and down my leg.  Paul knows that the foam in the shoe is too  uncomfortable so decides that he will instead build up the cleat outside the shoe.  Final adjustments need to be made including the tape on the bars and the brakes installed.  By Thursday the bike will be ready for me to take home.