An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The sadly common misconceptions of 650 wheels...

I'll admit up front that I'm a fan of 650 wheels. I've got four-and-a-half bikes that use 650's (one is a funny bike that uses a 650 front and a 700 rear). I prefer 650s on tri bike and track bikes for different, but extremely important reasons. And this is especially important on a tri bike where stability is a concern -- unless you're tall enough to merit a front center of 68cm or more, you pretty much need the 650 wheels in order to get the chainstays short enough to get your weight off the front wheel.

But I keep hearing all these arguments against them. Many times from supposedly knowledgeable people. And every one of them is absolute bunk. Horse puckey. Doodoo.

I had a very specific case this past weekend, and I'm going to leave out names to protect the guilty.

A lady came into the shop with a Lightspeed that had been absolutely TRASHED. Left bullhorn snapped off, both aero extensions rotated upward at bad angles, front wheel twisted and taco'd, rear brake locked on the back wheel and twisted. I was told that nothing could be done to the bike other than have measurements taken, as it was evidence in a court case (a lady crossed the center line into a group of 8 riders, and had done the same thing a mile before to a lone rider). In any case, this Lightspeed had 650 wheels.

She was wanting to look at the bikes offered by this shop, and so was getting put on an Argon 18 (the shop carries this brand, which does NOT use 650s even on the small size frames). And she was a bit nervous about a change over to 700 wheels.

And then all the BS came out. My tongue was bleeding for me biting it so as not to contradict the shop owner in front of the customer, but seriously, it was getting deep.

* 650 wheels are hard to come by, and you can't get as good of wheels in that size.
* Aerodynamically, 700 wheels are better.
* The geometry doesn't matter, as long as you fit on the bike.
* The industry is moving away from 650s.

And then there was the guy who frequents the shop squatting behind be as I was making an adjustment to the saddle height...
"The perfomance of 650 wheels..." I just looked over my shoulder and said, "Don't start."

About the only thing I could tell the customer's husband about the bike is that with the long front center, it would help the bike's stability.

Now I can understand a shop wanting to sell what they have. But arguing about availability of 650 wheels to some one who ALREADY HAS THEM?

What I find is that 650's have been vilified by shops who don't want to stock another size. And the industry responds to what sells. And then the BS comes out to convince customers of all the excuses shops give, when the REAL reason is just that they don't wanna...

Performance differences? 650's accelerate quicker due to the lower moment of inertia.

Geometry? Road bikes are more stable because they put 55-58% of your weight on the back wheel. Rotate yourself forward over the same geometry and that puts WAY more of your weight on the front wheel. You have to move the wheels forward to compensate. Chainstays can only get so short with 700 wheels... And that doesn't even get into aggressive positions on small frames.

Aerodynamically speaking, it's a wash. The smaller wheel will use a longer head tube, so frontal area really isn't affected.

Please, people, don't give in to the drivel dished out by shops regarding 650's. If you have a preference, or if your frame size merits the smaller wheel, by all means go there. Likely you'll be glad you did.

And when the good deals on tires and tubes roll around, stock up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Long in the saddle...

A week has passed since my last post. It went by very quickly, what with the preparation for the century ride I did on Sunday, work, and sleeping. Creative writing energy has waned. A little.

This past Sunday was the longest ride I've done in several years. In fact I can't remember the last time I did 100 miles in a day on my motorcycle.
The weather was beautiful all weekend.

The Daffodil Classic started about 5 miles from my house, and I was toying with the idea of riding from home, doing the 40 mile loop, and then cutting off the 60 mile loop and heading home. It would have been about the same mileage. But a friend convinced me to do the 60 mile loop first so I could ride with her. My wife came to see us off, then came back again later with my daughter to meet me after the 60 mile loop, take what clothing I cared to discard, and see me off again to the "unknown mileage" beyond my longest ride.

I met one of my old team mates, and he towed my along for a good 10 miles after the 60 mile loop at well over 20. I told him I hope he wasn't expecting me to pull through at that speed. I may have paid for that little 2-man TT later on, but it was a lot of fun while we were flying along the highway.

Until I hit the 80 mile mark, the uphills were the best part. Well, except for the downhills.

But that last hill? Fighting quad cramps the whole way, in my bottom gear and standing, riding that ragged edge of cramp vs. making forward progress. I was a good 15 miles past feeling good on uphills. And this last one is cruelly placed and even more cruelly steep. But once past it, it's downhill and flat all the way back.

I've been on a bit of a quest for new bike shorts of late. NOT bib shorts (and I know, SO many people will ride in nothing but bibs), and not all high-waisted, and a chamois that isn't all multi-thickness and gel-filled. And if it cost less than $80 that would be a bonus as well. Surprisingly hard to find. Anyway, I wore some older Performance brand shorts on Sunday, and they worked out fairly well (though the waist could have been a little lower -- I guess I could alter them myself). Experimenting can be expensive.

I ended up averaging a little over 17 miles an hour on the bike for the 103+ miles -- not bad, though I longed for my old racing days when that pace would have kept me going all day.

Monday was an exercise in avoiding stairs. Up or down. Though up was worse.

So when's he next century?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The tale of the tape - OR - How did the race go?

The 4K-7K on 4/7 was FANTASTIC!

We couldn't have asked for better weather! We exceeded last year's participation by almost 50%, we raised some good money for Corner of Love, we spread the word about Altra Zero Drop shoes to a bunch of people who'd never heard of them before, we gave away a free pair of Altra shoes, some free entries into our next event, and some coffee from Starbuck's. The keychains with the runner's results seemed to be very well received as well.

Sure, there are a couple things to iron out for the next event, but that's just how they get better.

And after the race, I had a nice long bike ride home.

Next up is May 19th in Lakewood, for the (Five Card) Stud Run to benefit Fisher House.

Friday, April 6, 2012

24 hours to go...

In just 24 hours, Lucky Cause Sports will open its day-of registration for its first event, the 4k-7k on 4/7. Rather convenient how that worked out, eh?

It's been a little harrowing, a little exciting, and more than a little bit of work to get it to come together.

We picked up a sponsorship from Altra Zero Drop Footwear (!) for our first two events, which includes a free pair of shoes to a lucky recipient at each event. Makes me want to enter the race myself...

So tomorrow is an early morning (for a weekend) to get the race venue set up, and the turn-around point with water. We've already exceeded last years complete participation in just pre-registers as of last night, so I'm going to be pro-active and call it a success.

It's not going to be a major-flash event, but it should be fun. The weather forecast looks to be cooperating (we really lucked out last year, too).

Counting down the hours...

Monday, April 2, 2012

The invisible hill

Yesterday I went on one of the most draining rides in a LONG time.

The weather forecast said 40% chance of rain (almost a sure thing in the Cascade foothills), but the wind had given me fitful sleep for much of the night. I got up about 6:30, watching out the window for showers... I got ready to head out, and by 8:10 I was on my way.

The wind was still blowing, and once I got through the first 4 mainly-downhill miles, it was directly in my face. For the next 10 miles. What would have been flat rail-trail became a seemingly uphill slog. My speed was dismal.

I got to the section of the trail that was mostly uphill, and felt my speed ease a bit. Five miles later, I turned around and had the wind blasting me in the face again, rendering my downhill run into more exercise in trying to make myself as small as possible. I turned off the trail and headed toward another town... More into-the-wind riding.

Another 7 miles later, I finally got into a crosswind section, and then the last 12 miles finally truly downwind.

Fifty miles in three hours and 10 minutes. And I was beat. I felt like the entire ride had been uphill, when in reality it had far less altitude variation than the 60 miler I put in last weekend.

At least with a good hill, there usually a nice descent waiting on the other side. Or a decent view.

They say it's the things you can't see that are the most frustrating.

Wind... The invisible hill.