Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm bringin' sexy back...

As I alluded to in my last few posts, I took a Cervelo Soloist Carbon out for a spin a few weeks ago. As it happens, I ran into El Presidente when I was at Bike Authority, and we rode together for a while. He turned me onto the Chippewa Creek Road Race course within the Brecksville Reservation before heading home himself. I tooled around there for a while before heading back to Bike Authority. The climbing was quite nice, though the road with the rollers hadn't been plowed yet, so I didn't get to give it the full workout I wanted, but I still got a good idea of what the bike was like.

I became interested in the Soloist when I found out that, in addition to screaming down the road, it could be set to a more TT/Tri friendly position just by flipping the seat mount. This is especially nice for me, since I race Duathlons and time trials occasionally, but not enough to warrant a specific bike (besides which, I lack the 18 figure income necessary to finance a nice bike for each category). Thanks to the two position seatpost and already aero design of the bike, you only need a set of clip on bars to go own people at a time trial. Or if you don't the bike won't be the excuse.

The first thing that struck me was that this bike is freakin' light. While it's not the lightest on the market, it's way lighter than anything else I've ridden before. Despite this, it's stiff as a board. I tried to get the bottom bracket to flex in the shop the way my aluminum frame does, and it never moved; the BB was as solid as I've ever seen. So far, so good.

The second thing I noticed was how much the Soloist likes to accelerate. Rick took off first on his R3 and I nearly ran him over, so great was the acceleration from the Soloist; definitely way more than I was used to. Even though I was riding a size smaller than I needed (a 56cm instead of a 58), I still had no problem hopping into the big ring and the higher cogs on the back and keeping up with Rick down the hills, up the hills, and on everything in between. The Soloist hugged the curves on the downhills through Brecksville like Michael Jackson would a preteen at Neverland, and responded beautifully whenever I pointed it around a turn. Overall it felt solid, with nary a rattle or vibration, while at the same time remaining light and responsive. Were Elliot Spitzer reviewing this ride, I do believe he would give it at least six out of seven diamonds.

The only downside I noticed to the Soloist was that it comes standard with DuraAce. While that's a plus for most people, I've been riding Campy for the last three years and I'm used to the shifting mechanics of Ergopower levers; in addition, my spare parts, kit specific tools, and other wheelsets are all Campy. Fortunately, Bike Authority has assured me that they can outfit whatever bike I decide to get with anything I want. They, of course, suggested Record, DuraAce or Red, and such a bike certainly deserves the best gruppo money can buy, but we shall see what the pricing comes to and what my budget allows. The next step is for me to try other bikes, including at least one other carbon model of a different brand (the Soloist was my first ever all-carbon bike), as well as try the aluminum Soloist. The aluminum model has the same geometry as the carbon, but it weighs 20% more and costs 40% less; given the already light weight of a carbon Soloist, 20% ain't much. Once that happens, I'll post my results here, hopefully in a more timely fashion than with this test ride. Less than 100 hours until I'm in sunny Los Angeles!!

The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.

Once again I have been lax in my blogging. I'll be posting a review of the Cervelo Soloist Carbon shortly, but first I shall describe the riding exploits of late.

Thursday afternoon I went out to the Chippewa course with Matt T. for some climbing practice. We did a modified loop of the race course, starting at the bottom of the Valley Parkway and going all the way to Brecksville Rd. before looping back around Parkview Rd. to rejoin the course. We did three full laps and climbed the hill one last time before turning around and calling it a day, after I bonked on the last hill. All in all we wound up with about 1400ft. of climbing over 27 miles, and an average speed of 15.4 mph. About ten minutes after we got back to the cars, the skies opened up, dropping a blinding rainstorm. Fortunately we were safe and dry by this point.

On Saturday, Matt and I drove down to the Malabar Farm race, where we met up with Dave S., Pete S., and Chris B. Dave, Pete, and Chris raced the 3/4 pack (Dave took fifth, Chris took ninth, and Pete finished in the pack), Matt raced the 4/5 pack and finished with them, while I raced the 5/Cit pack and managed to hold out for the win. I guess all that climbing practice on Thursday paid off. So now the plan is to head out this Thursday for another gravity based torture session. See you on the road!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.

Obviously Kipling never met me...

So it's been a while since I posted. I have no excuses other than the usual, "I was working/sleeping/eating/biking." But I have been doing some interesting stuff since my race report two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, Mar. 4, I helped canvas the West Side for the Obama campaign. It's been a long time since I was involved in any type of politics, and the feeling was one I had forgotten. To be surrounded by people who love what they do and are passionate about succeeding is an awe inspiring sensation. To know that they are doing this not for compensation, but simply because they believe it's the right thing to do only adds to that. It would have been better if Obama had won the state, but at least he won the county.

The mountain bike (see this post) is coming along nicely. Now that the order is in from Crank Brothers, I have all the parts I need except the wheels, and those should be into Bike Authority within the next two weeks. Then there shall be a bike building bonanza, with a bevy of beer, broads, and borscht. The Eggbeater pedals are especially nice; they have all the float that a mountain pedal should, but they feel much more solid with better power transfer than the Shimano SPDs that I first started riding.

And finally, last Thursday I took a test ride on a Cervelo Soloist Carbon. Stay tuned for a review tomorrow, since I'm toiling in the University Hospitals salt-mines all weekend, and bed calls. Until then, Happy Riding!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Let's get this party started right!

Today marked the opening of my career as an actual bike racer with a team and everything. I regret to say that I did not do well. I finished dead last (or far enough back that place really didn't matter). I could blame the too long training ride yesterday; the fact that, in hindsight, my front wheel was misaligned; or I could just man up and admit to the lack of training over the winter. I now have just under four weeks to get ready for the Tour of Richland County out at Malabar Farms. My very first road race was the 2005 Ohio Road Race Championships on the same course, and I can't wait to get back there with a real bike (one without flat bars this time). Other than myself, SBR had three riders come out: Chad M., Dave S., and Chris B. all braved the cold. Chris and Dave raced in the Cat. 3/4 field and finished in the pack. Today was Chad's first road race and he managed to pull ninth in a pack of at least thirty. Kudos to him!

As far as a race review I thought the course itself was nice: flat, short, and fast, and very spectator friendly. Some would say, however, that race organization, left something to be desired. Others would say it was a complete fuster cluck. Thanks to the promoter only having one registration line open, even those who pre-registered had to wait in line for almost an hour; considering that registration opened only an hour before the Cat. 4/5/Juniors/Womens race this was something of an inconvenience. Before the start of the 3/4 field, Gov. Schwarzenegger showed up to start the field and parked his motorcade right in the race path. As the 3/4s rounded turn 4 into the final straightaway, the motorcade started to pull out against the flow of cyclists. Th marshals stopped the race at that point and waited for the motorcade to leave before they restarted everything. And to add injury to insult, apparently no one on the Fat Rabbit Racing team owns a broom, as none of the corners were swept before the race; turn 4 was around a seventy-five degree hairpin loaded with gravel. I must say that I expected better from a club that puts on, at least from the reports of my teammates, some of the best triathlons in the area. I can only hope they do better next year; for now, on to Malabar Farms!