Monday, October 27, 2008

Want to buy my 2008 Giant TCR?

Hey, this may be a blog, but it is all about me, and I am thinking of selling this bike (see here, here and here for other posts about it), so here goes:

I bought this bike brand-new and unassembled in a box in June '08, as a 2008 Giant TCR C3 with the standard Shimano 105/Tiagra components and awesome carbon-fiber frame. But it is actually just the '08 C3 frame (size "medium," or about 54 cm equivalent) built up with the '07 Shimano Ultegra/Race Face components from my previous 2007 TCR C2. The '07 C2 components have roughly 2,400 miles on them, while the '08 C3 frame has only about 800 miles it.

It is pretty much standard otherwise, but I replaced the original Mavic Aksium wheels with Easton EA50SL wheels (could swap with others if you wish), and installed a sweet Enduro ceramic BB. Everything is in great condition.

Here are the bike's current specs:

  • Race Face Cadence, 31.8mm handlebar
  • Fi'zi:k Aliante saddle (Selle San Marco shown in photo)
  • Shimano Ultegra SDP pedals
  • Shimano Ultegra front and rear derailleurs
  • Shimano 105 brakes
  • Shimano Ultegra 10-speed shifters
  • Shimano Ultegra 12- 25T, 10 speed cassette
  • Shimano Ultegra chain
  • Race Face 39/53t crank
  • Enduro ceramic BB (woo-hoo!)
  • Easton EA50SL 30mm-dish wheels
  • Vittoria Open Corsa Evo-CX open clincher tires

Just for comparison, here are the 2009 C2 specs:

The frame fits me great (I am 5' 7-1/2" with an inseam of about 32", if that helps). I don't think the frame has a single scratch on it.

Please e-mail me for more info, or to arrange a time to check out the bike. The '07 C2 bike was about $2,100 new, the '08 C3 was about $1,700, so I am looking to get about $1,499 for it. If I can't get a decent price I will just keep it. Thanks!

[Update: My 2008 has been sold!]

p.s. I would also consider selling my repaired 2007 frame with the 2008 TCR C3's 105/Tiagra/Race Face components instead. But only if the price is right. :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I graduated from the beginners track program!

I'm still lame, but at least now I can go to the real Hellyer Park Velodrome track races... and feel even more lame! All it took me was three years of only managing to get to the beginners sessions once every fall.

John Pollard and I drove over the hill on this unseasonably-gorgeous day to be schooled by Mark Altamiranda, a long-time trackie from the area. This was the last of my three required sessions and thus I would be eligible to race on this track in mass-start races (the State Championship events I raced there last fall were not mass-starts). But this was John's first visit to Hellyer in 20 years, so he was starting from scratch. He was very impressed with the beautifully landscaped infield, with water fountains, stands, paved warmup lanes and apron. Much nicer than when either of us first saw it.

I was also struck by the large contingent of "fixies" that showed up for instruction. It seems these younger hipsters are entering into cycling via a different route than a lot of us did, and that makes things more fun. It reminds me of how different cross-country and downhill racers are in mountain-biking. But not everybody is into this trend.

After getting our $5 rental bikes (mine was an ancient affair with steel Columbus tubing!) and bolting our pedals onto them, we started with a 40-lap paceline session on the banked oval track. This turned into an amazing exercise in accordion-playing; the vast spread in abilities of the students caused huge gaps to form. Mark soon gave up and just had us ride as two pacelines... which then came back together before it all degenerated into a crit finish on the last couple of laps. I hovered on the infield during this free-for-all!

We then got to pair up and practice jumps. It was a little confusing, but we finally figured out that Mark wanted us to sprint side-by-side; one of us in the lower "sprinter's lane," the other higher up the banking on the "stayer's line," then trade positions. He'd blow the whistle and we'd jump, then he'd blow again and we'd relax. It would have been fun if we hadn't kept running up against other riders. But the intended lesson was to show how the shorter line in the lower sprinter's lane was faster, though you could use the banking to accelerate downhill from the stayer's line.

Another great exercise he had us do was pair up and practice bumping into each other while riding laps. This was to teach us how to avoid overreacting if we ever got squeezed together during a race. John and I had fun really leaning hard into each other, trying hip-to-bars, elbow-to-elbow, elbow-to-knee, helmet-to-helmet, etc. A very good skill to have, and one I've been fortunate enough to already have, putting it to good use several times over the years!

Then Mark had us all ride in a line and have the leader do a 200 meter sprint that he hand-timed. He'd point at us and yell "prep lap," we'd jump off the front, build up speed, then get timed from the line just out of turn 2 and to the finish line after turn 4. I was first up (I planned it that way!), and spun up nicely. Coming into turn 2 I really hit it hard and passed the line already at 100%, or close enough. But the handlebars and fork of my springy steel bike started wobbling as I headed into turn 3... where the other riders happened to be. With my low trust-level the prospect of entering the "pain tunnel" while riding next to my fellow students on this noodley bike was frightening. One guy even insisted on riding below the stayer's line! I actually cussed under my ragged breath as I flew by them for a 13.3-second run. A bit slower than the 13.08 I turned last fall. That was no surprise (also, this bike had lower 48x17, or 76.2", gearing). John got a 13.4, and I think everybody else was in the 14s and higher.

After our sprints Mark offered to set up an "Australian pursuit," which sounded like a bad insider's joke. It turned out to be a race where everybody starts out evenly spaced around the upper "rail" of the track, then tries to catch the guy ahead of them. Passed riders drop out until just two riders are left, and they duke it out until one of them dies or gets passed, or the officials decide enough is enough. I managed to win, even though I missed the chance to let John cheat in my favor by giving me some draft!

Afterwards John and I felt that Coach Edwards would be disappointed if we didn't work on our "FTP," so for that reason, and in sympathy with our teammates who were racing in the Quimby Road edition of the Low-Key Hillclimbs, we stopped by in Los Gatos on the way home for two 15-minute intervals. Very nice!

So what does this all mean to me? Well, since I am not likely to buy a track bike I probably won't be taking advantage of my new rating to race all-out on the track. It's just too hard to make time for that anyway. But I may give it a try on occasion. For Tuesday night "Points" races they do allow rental bikes, as they do for the Wednesday night races (varying between Points, "Scratch," "Miss & Out," "Madison" and "Snowball"). So track racing may be something I'll be trying when they start up again in April.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My 2008 season retrospective

It's still a bit early for my 2008 season retrospective, since I'm still racing the "Low-Key Hillclimbs" series which ends on Thanksgiving Day, but heck...

This is the time of year to look back at my 2008 goals I set last fall, and assess what I learned from it all. Let's revisit them:

Training goals:
  • Raise my FTP (my 1-hour max power) from 265W to 276W (estimated as I don't have a PM).
  • Break the 19-minute barrier on Old La Honda Road.
Race goals:
  • Win my first Cat 3 criterium.
  • Win Coyote Creek Circuit Race and Watsonville Criterium.
  • Win my first Expert cross-country race.
  • Enter my first dirt short-track race, at Sea Otter Classic, and don't get pulled.
  • Finish top-10 in any road race.
  • Provide invaluable service to my teammates in other races, helping them to win!
Let's look at each one:

Raise my FTP to 276W: Coach Mark sez I was probably putting out around 272W when I did my Soda Springs Road test ride on March 5th. If I use Tim Clark's power calculator, and enter the following data, that power results (152 lb, 30.5 lb, 272W, 5.45 miles, 8.5%, 2415 feet, -9 headwind, defaults for the rest). Since I bettered that time by 30 seconds on August 9th in spite of weighing 1 pound more, that would mean my FTP would now be 276W! So, this looks promising (assuming the conditions were otherwise identical), but until I get an actual power meter it's still just an estimate.

Break 19 minutes on Old La Honda Road: My best time is still 19:50, in spite of trying again on August 7th. Oh well; I may just have had a bad day. I will try this climb again soon though, so there's still time!

Win my first Cat 3 criterium: Didn't happen! I flatted out in 4 races (Santa Cruz, Cat's Hill, Giro di San Francisco, San Ardo), collided/flatted in 1, and crashed in 1, so that didn't help in the least. I did get a few top-10 and top-5 finishes though (see my USCF ranking).

Win Coyote Creek Circuit Race and Watsonville Criterium: These ended with the above collision/flatting, and getting dropped, respectively!!!

Win my first Expert cross-country race: I only raced one cross-country this year, and got 3rd. I meant to race on dirt a bunch more, but that was all I did.

Enter my first dirt short-track race: I went to Disneyland instead. Maybe next year? I'm not certain these would suit me after all (no recovery time), so maybe not.

Finish top-10 in any road race: I really thought this would be hard, as I usually get dropped in these, but this is the one goal I exceeded: I actually got 1st at the Panoche Valley Road Race! But man, it was hard, very hard.

Provide invaluable service to my teammates: Uh, that didn't really happen either. In the one race I really tried to help in, it turned out everybody else was trying to help me! Oops.

So, my 2008 season was a bit of a mixed bag, as I expected it would be, but I'm actually pretty happy about how things went for me (other than that crash and those flats). I've intentionally emphasized my long-term training goals this year, and will continue to do so well into 2009. So to have any good results at all, and many more glimmers of hope, is pretty cool!

Next I will set my 2009 season goals. The knowledge I've gained in 2008 will help me set good ones. It's fun too!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How to make your own super-duper sports drink

If you've read my posting about the risks and benefits of sports drinks, you will know that I believe in drinking moderate-"glycemic load" sports drinks during my workout rides and races, instead of the typical high-GL sports drinks. Accelerade is my favorite, and seems to leave me feeling much better during long, hard rides. But you can make your own sports drink and save a bit of money. It's easy!

The list of ingredients in Accelerade in descending order:

  1. Sucrose
  2. Whey protein concentrate
  3. Trehalose (Ascend™)
  4. Citric acid
  5. Natural flavor
  6. Fructose
  7. Lecitihin
  8. Magnesium carbonate
  9. Salt
  10. Maltodextrin
  11. Monopotassium phosphate
  12. Ascorbic acid
  13. Vitamin E acetate
  14. FD&C yellow 5
  15. FD&C yellow 6
Easy, huh! ;-) Actually, it is easy, especially if you aren't a slave to following this exactly. You just have to know why they add these ingredients to their sports drink and where you can get them.

Sucrose: Ordinary sugar. This is where the energy to power your muscles comes from, and it's lower-GI than many other sugars so your blood-sugar won't spike as high. Look in your kitchen, or go to any grocery store. Cheap too.

Whey protein concentrate: Also easy to find, in many grocery stores and in health-food stores (I no longer use the isolate version for this recipe as it seems slightly harder to digest). This reduces the GL of the sports drink and improves your performance and muscle repair.

Trehalose: Uh, well, not sure where to buy this, but since it's just a complex sugar I don't feel I'm missing out by not adding this to my sports drink. Though it is also an antioxidant which is great for limiting the damage caused by hard exercise; but we can get that from other sources.

Citric acid: They probably add this for taste and also for its natural preservative effect (and I believe it also helps your body absorb certain minerals, e.g. iron). You can just add some lemon or lime juice to get the same effect.

Natural flavor: Whatever.

Fructose: More sugar, and also something you can buy in better grocery stores and health-food stores. I don't feel the need to add this though.

Lecitihin: I think they must add this for the choline content, which is neat because it helps you burn fat. Not essential if you eat well-balanced meals (vegans beware!), but if you stumble upon some at the store, why not grab it. I haven't (I eat eggs which are a great source of choline).

Magnesium carbonate: Chalk! Magnesium is an important mineral and helps with muscle function. Scrape a stick of chalk, or find an antacid that contains this. I get enough magnesium from eating healthy fruits, vegetables and nuts so I don't bother.

Salt: A good idea, especially on very hot days, to prevent hyponatremia.

Maltodextrin: Another sugar (AKA maltose). Sigh. It's very high-GI, so I would rather avoid it. Might be good for short, high-intensity races I guess.

Monopotassium phosphate: I think they add this for the important electrolyte potassium (phosphorous is extremely plentiful in foods, so I doubt that's needed in a sports drink). Potassium can also be obtained from many foods, including bananas, avocados and potatoes, and even salt substitutes.

Ascorbic acid: AKA vitamin C, also an antioxidant. A good idea to ensure basic health, and acts as a natural preservative. (Strange fact: Almost all animals can make ascorbic acid in their livers, but we can't because of a "genetic defect.")

Vitamin E: Another nice vitamin with antioxidant properties.

FD&C yellow: If you like unnatural colors.

OK, are you ready to make your own sports drink? Here's my recipe:

Quick, lazy version:
  • Water (16-24 fl. oz. typically)
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) sugar
  • Whey protein concentrate (about 5 grams; may require careful measuring... it's usually about 1 heaping tbsp)
  • Pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon (tsp)) salt substitute (for potassium)
  • Pinch (1/16 tsp) salt (optional; recommended for long rides on very hot days)
Got more time? Add this too:
  • 1/2 tsp lime or lemon juice, or to taste
  • Vitamin pill, crushed (for vitamins C and E)
  • Antacid, preferably with magnesium
  • Flavoring (liquid stevia sweetener, peppermint extract, KoolAid, whatever you like)
  • You can also substitute some of the ordinary table sugar with maltose or fructose, if you want
This provides 125 calories, 28 grams carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 179 mg sodium, 192 mg potassium, 0 fat. Nearly identical to Accelerade, though higher in carbs (using fructose would lower the carbs for starters).

[First test: I did my usual intense six "L5" 6-minute intervals ride with my teammates and brought two water bottles: one with Accelerade, one with my home-brew. Both worked well, though my home-brew did seem to take a bit longer to digest. This intense workout is a great test, so I would say even as I make it now my home-brew would be fine for longer intervals. Might be an issue for some people during shorter intervals though. I am thinking Accelerade's higher-GI sugars may be of more benefit to the stomach's ability to absorb it than I thought, so I may be trying to add some maltodextrin to my home-brew soon... or maybe it just needs the magnesium carbonate to help calm the digestion down. I will update this posting when I get a chance to try that.]

[Second test: I bought some whey protein concentrate, some magnesium-based antacid and have now gone through several more batches of my sports drink. The biggest tests have been the tough Saturday rides I do with my team. My home-brew sports drink has stood up to every challenge. I have revised the recipe above to reflect my latest tweaks. By the way, I had a bucket of Cytomax lying around, so I've been using that instead of sugar some of the time. Works about the same, so I wouldn't bother otherwise. Enjoy!]

Enjoy your sports drink, and the money you save!