2015 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 0

06.15.2015 | 5:53 am

This was the fifth year I’ve raced in the Rockwell Relllzzzzzzzzz 

Oh I’m sorry, I seem to have fallen asleep. Let me try that again.

Once you’ve done an event five timezzzzzzzzzzzzz

Hmmm. I’m having a rough time staying awake for some reason. Almost as if I’ve been knocking myself out doing a 525 mile / 27,600’ climbing relay race and am still a little bit sleep deprizzzzzzzz

Hm? Grmph. Sorry about that. I’m just going to go and take a quick nap, then I’ll start again. I’m sure I’ll be more lucid thzzzzzzzzzzz

(Twelve hours elapses.)

OK, I feel better now. I’m ready to tell this story. And let me tell you something, by way of hooking you in for what is sure to be a monster multi-parter: I was 100% correct in identifying Team Infinite Stamina as our chief coed competition. 

I’m going to tell you a story with a ton of drama, fierce competition, cramped calves, surprising twists, and a nail-biter of a conclusion. It’s the story of what was quite possibly the most intense and hard-fought race I’ve ever taken part in. And this story I’m going to tell, well, all of it will be true — at least to the best of my memory (and that’s an important caveat when you are racing without sleep for more than a 24-hour period). 

But that’s not the story I will tell today. That starts tomorrow.

Today, I’m going to tell you about bratwurst. And generosity.

The Best Part of the Rockwell Relay

The best part about The Rockwell Relay happens before the gun goes off. Before you get in line, with your heart ramping up, with tight clothes on your body, and with a million questions in your mind.

The best part of The Rockwell happens the day before the race, during packet pickup. 

Because that’s when I set up a tent and grill 500 beer-boiled bratwurst (generously donated by Colosimo’s) for racers. They in turn toss a couple of bucks into a box (100% of that money goes to World Bicycle Relief) and I talk with them about the race.

I answer questions. I talk about my love for bratwurst. I get to hang out with other people who love bikes and racing and…bratwurst.

This year, I had more fun doing this than ever before, because I didn’t do any of the actual work

Instead, I had my teammates — The Hammer, Cory, and Lynette — do all the prep, while Friend of Fatty team “What Were We Thinking, Part Trois” built the grills. Here’s Yann and Chris (with help from one of the Rockwell guy’s kids) competing to see who finishes first:

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Then it was time to start grilling…except I had forgotten to bring matches. And as it turns out, you can have 150 cyclists in a park, and not have a single one of them be a smoker. 

We sent someone off on an emergency errand to buy a lighter, and asked everyone to be patient. Which they were. 

Once the fire was ignited and the charcoal had turned white, Dave settled in and began grilling on one of the grills:  

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The Hammer and Cory worked another:

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And I just stood around and talked with people. Chatting with them about what they could expect the next day, thanking them for their donations, telling them about WBR.  

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On request, The Hammer would sometimes join me. Because I’m pretty sure most people were a lot more interested in talking with her than with me.

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Word got out that we were giving away bratwurst (and taking donations), and before long about 70% of the people in line were either just in the area or found out about us while they were at the nearby farmers’ market.

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We didn’t mind. We had plenty of bratwurst and people were donating generously.

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All told, we raised around $400 for World Bicycle Relief:

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People were streaming by more or less continuously, but we kept up…and had time to have a bratwurst or two or three ourselves.

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And we had plenty of time to talk with — and get photos with — other teams, including Team TRG – Texas, which had made a pretty long journey to do this race:

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Obviously, we were in a very serious mood. 

Facing the Competition

Troy — yes, the Troy from the Infinite Stamina team I had identified as our primary competition — came by. “Have you read my blog today?” I asked Troy.

“No,” he replied.

“Oh, I think you’ll enjoy it,” I said. Then I continued, “Have some bratwurst.” 

Troy looked at me warily.

“Is this a trick to give me food poisoning?” he asked.

“No, it’s delicious bratwurst, made, boiled, and grilled locally and lovingly by bratwurst artisans,” I explained. “I’ve had two so far, and everyone on my team has had at least one. Cory has had seven.”

(It’s possible I made up the bit about Cory having eaten seven, but Cory does in fact lead a carb-free existence, so maybe he had eaten seven.)

“I think I’ll pass,” Troy said.

“Oh, come on,” I persisted. “We’re going to try to demolish your team tomorrow, but not by sabotage.”

“Thanks anyway,” Troy replied.

“Fine, eat this plain bun then,” I said.

Which, to my amazement, Troy ate.

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Now that the race is behind us, I just want to assure Troy: there really was nothing wrong with the bratwurst; they were in fact double-cooked (boiled in beer for forty minutes, then grilled over charcoal) to make absolutely sure they were both safe and delicious.

The buns on the other hand, had been injected with flesh-eating bacteria.

Just kidding! (Or am I?) 

The Best Part After the Best Part

While I strongly encourage everyone to enjoy a brat or two before the race, I hope nobody actually thinks that this should be their evening meal. It’s a treat. Protein and fat-loading.

Every year, we buy our actual dinner at Paradox Pizza, having a margarita pizza and caprese pizza delivered to the park, with the plan to eat some that night, then store the rest for eating cold on the road the next day.

But we got kind of busy about the time the pizza arrived and the pizza got cold. Luckily, reheating later was no problem at all:

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In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that heating pizza over a charcoal grill makes it better than it was in the first place.  

Lynette and The Hammer seemed to agree. 

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By the time we were finished, we — my team (SBR-WBR) and Team What What Were We Thinking Part Trois (aka Team Friends of Fatty) — had worked for about 3.5 hours. The day before a race. A race which would go on, non-stop, for way more than a day.

Everyone had worked hard, and worked happy. 

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I love these guys. Love ‘em to death. 

The Best Part Right Before The Best Part

We stopped by the Subway Sandwich place to have 3 foot-longs made, went to the hotel, and were in bed and asleep by 9pm. It was important to get a lot of sleep that night; it’d be a while before we slept again. 

The next morning, we had our traditional pre-race breakfast — scrambled eggs and pancakes at Denny’s — and then met at the starting line.

I was to be riding the first leg, so was the only one in the team kitted up. I was wearing — for the first time, by anyone as far as I know — the 2015 Fat Cyclist Kit:

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Actually, that’s a Root Beer Gu under my pant leg, but I’m also happy to see you.

Naturally, we also got a team jump-shot photo:

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That’s as high off the ground Lynette ever got. Which I’m not even sure is off the ground at all. She’s going to need to work on that.

And then, as I was walking my bike to the starting corral, The Hammer said to me, “Did Cory tell you he gave away his lights to Team Infinite Stamina?”

My head spun around. Twice.

What?” I said. “He gave away his lights to our arch-rival team?”

“Yeah,” The Hammer said. “One of the racers in the Infinite Stamina team apparently forgot to bring lights.” 

“Doesn’t Cory know that part of winning a race is being prepared for the race?” I said. My personality at race time is way different from my personality at pretty much any other time.

“Tell me about it,” The Hammer said.

“And it’s not like we have more support than they do,” I continued. “They have eight racers, four of which have the sole responsibility of acting as domestiques to the coed team, to make it easier to beat us! And they have drivers and help! All we have is…us. 

“Cory’s lights were our only backup lights setup. Now if one of our lights fail, what do we do?” I fumed.

I was, at this moment, engaging in just a little bit of hyperbole, and a whole lot of drama…without any particular real concern. Cory’s lights were in fact one of my backup light systems. With Cory’s setup, we had brought enough lights and batteries to power a team of eight. Now, instead of being able to cope with four light/battery failures without problem, we could cope with three before I had to get creative.

For events like this, I’m kind of a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy. 

“Well, at least now when they beat us, we’ll be able to claim that they couldn’t have done it without us,” The Hammer said. 

I liked that thought. Liked it a lot. Made a note to myself that I’d remember to include it in my race report. Which I now have.

“You know,” I told The Hammer, “We should try to win.”

“You’d better go fast, then,” The Hammer replied, not unreasonably. 

So I got in line — self-seeding myself into the second row — and began my pre-gun ritual: I began stuffing my face. 

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There’s actually a lot of wisdom in eating at a starting line. You’re not going to get such an easy opportunity to get calories into your system again until you cross the finish line. And especially right at the beginning of the race, you’re probably not going to get the opportunity to eat at all. The race is too nervous.

“Remember,” The Hammer told me, “Don’t go attacking off the gun like you did in 2013.”

“I promise,” I said.

The race director counted down from ten — all of us counting along. The cop car escorting us out of town fired up his siren. The race began. 

I soft-pedaled for a moment ’til I was clipped in.

Then, unable to contain myself, I stood up and attacked.

And that seems like a good place to pick up in the next installment.

 

My Rockwell Relay Prediction: We Will Lose

06.11.2015 | 3:47 pm

Greetings from the SBR Sprinter Van, currently en route to Moab, Utah.

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Lynette and The Hammer, talking and laughing. Laughing and talking. And laughing.

Team SBR-WBR is on its way to the Moab city park, where we will be grilling the 500 bratwurst we boiled in beer yesterday (shown below):

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I’m very excited to grill all this bratwurst, to talk with racers, to raise some money for World Bicycle Relief, and to hand out some Root Beer Gu Energy Gel to anyone who donates at least $5.

I also am excited to conduct a secret research project as I hand out all this food, the results of which I will share with you sometime in the near future.

And then, Friday, I’m excited to race — for the fifth year in a row — the Rockwell Relay.

Unfortunately, Team SBR-WBR is going to lose the Competitive Coed division. And we’re going to lose badly.

The Problem With Team SBR-WBR

Team SBR-WBR is made up of four very strong riders, when compared to other coed teams comprised entirely of members of AARP.

Our average age is 51. For realsies.

But our age isn’t really the problem. No, our problem has more to do with who we are.

Allow me to explain.

The Problem With Racer 1

The biggest problem of Team SBR-WBR can actually be best understood by the fact that the team’s name is “Team SBR-WBR,” not “Team Fatty-WBR.” 

Which is to say, my team isn’t called “Team Fatty” because I lost a bet. And that bet is that I would get down to racing weight before this race began.

Which is to say: I am not at racing weight. Not even close. I am strong, but fat. Fit-fat, if you will.

Fortunately, being strong-but-heavy is only a problem if the ride you are doing has a lot of climbing. 

Unfortunately, the leg of the race I’m doing has pretty much nothing but climbing in it.

Even if the rest of my team raced perfectly — and maybe they will — we will lose. Because of me. Because I suck.

The Problem With Racer 2

The Hammer is Racer 2 in Team WBR-SBR. She has been training for The Rockwell Relay in a novel way: by hardly ever riding her bike.

Her focus this year has been on running, so she could do the Squaw Peak 50 Trail Race. And that focus has paid off handsomely: she took second in the Masters category last week.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: doing a 50-mile trail run with 10,000 feet of climbing in it will sometimes make your legs a little bit fatigued for a few days afterward.

Fortunately, when The Rockwell Relay starts, she will have had a full five days to have recovered from the Squaw Peak 50. I’m sure the fact that she hasn’t been riding her bike coupled with the fact that she did a twelve-hour long race less than a week ago won’t impact her riding this weekend at all.

The Problem With Racer 3

Cory Borup is the guy who I placed the weight-loss wager with. Unlike me, he hit his goal, losing around forty pounds.

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He looks fantastic, doesn’t he? He’s worked hard to get so light. Which is awesome and impressive and admirable and stuff. It’s also why our team name starts with SBR his Bike / Tri shop — which goes very nicely with the van we’re currently sitting in:

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Yes, ownership of a Sprinter van is a prerequisite to my friendship.

Anyway, it’s great that Cory has lost so much weight. Unfortunately, he has done this at the expense of the ability to maintain any momentum whatsoever on the bike. He is now a frail husk of a man, easily knocked off his feet by a light breeze.

He used to be a remarkable TT specialist. Now, air resistance poses a serious challenge to him. No, not wind resistance. air resistance.

The Problem With Racer 4

The fourth racer in Team SBR-WBR is Lynette. 

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Lynette is one of those people who has done more Ironmans than she can count. She’s fast. She has great endurance. And she has, for the past couple of years, averaged one collar bone break per year. 

Staying upright has been a problem for Lynette as of late.

It is our fervent hope that she will abandon this new hobby (i.e., crashing her bike) now that she has run out of collarbones to break.

The Competition

Now, I’m not trying to anti-trash-talk here. OK, maybe I am, but the fact is, even if our team was perfect, we’d still lose. Because there’s this other coed team which will — and we are quite confident on this point — crush us.

Team Infinite Stamina.

Now, I’m not saying that other teams will not also crush us. The very likely will. But it doesn’t matter. As long as this one team is out there, we’re sunk. How deeply sunk isn’t all that important.

Here’s why Team SBR-WBR is in trouble:

  • Racers 1 and 2: Team Infinite Stamina is racing its two women in slots one and two. Really, anything I could say about these two racers can be better said in this picture, from the podium of the 2014 Lotoja Classic, a very popular 200-mile road race:NewImage
    You see second place there? That’s Marci. And third? That’s Mary. And they’re on the same coed team. That could pose a significant problem to Team SBR-WBR.
  • Racer 3: Troy is Racer 3. He was actually the guy who introduced The Hammer and me to The Rockwell Relay. Each year, my team has beaten his team. I can tell he wants to win this year. Wants it real bad.
  • Racer 4: Danny is Racer 4. Honestly, I don’t know anything about him. But I choose to imagine him as an eight-foot-tall giant of a man who crushes rocks for fun and is not a professional cyclist only because he didn’t find it difficult enough of a challenge.

Luckily for me, I’m not at all interested in the competition aspect of this race. I’m just doing the Rockwell Relay to see the sites, enjoy others’ company, and have fun.

Yeah. Right.

Announcing the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere (Sort Of)

06.9.2015 | 10:03 am

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The 100 Miles of Nowhere (#100MoN for all you medially social types) is one of my biggest — and certainly my silliest — annual fundraisers. I use it to raise money for Camp Kesem, the incredible charity that provides free summer camps for kids who have parents with cancer. 

My twins have gone every year for the past three years (and they’re going again this year). It’s their absolute favorite thing to do every year. 

Last year, we did the 100MoN in September, with registration in July. A lot of you have been asking about when it will be this year. 

Which I will get to in just a second. Right after I explain what the 100MoN is, for those of you who haven’t done it before.

What Is the 100 Miles of Nowhere?

The 100 Miles of Nowhere is a race without a place. It’s an event in which hundreds of people participate . . . all by ourselves.

It’s a very strange thing where you pay for the privilege of riding your rollers, trainer, or a very small course (like around the block) for 100 miles. You get some awesome race swag. And then the profits from your entry go to Camp Kesem.

I did the first annual 100MoN by myself, back before I knew it would be annual at all.

The second one a bunch of us — from all around the world — did together, and people sent in their stories, many of which I published here.

And since then, I’ve limited registration to 500 people and we all do it on a certain date (approximately), riding a creative (if you want) route of 100 miles (more or less).

As you have no doubt noticed, the rules for this event are very stringent.

When Will the 100 Miles of Nowhere Be This Year?
This year, the 100 Miles of Nowhere will be November 10-ish. Registration will happen in late September. This will be for a couple reasons:

  1. It’ll happen the same time as the Camp Kesem Leadership Summit, which is 11/10. We haven’t figured out exactly what this will look like, but the amazing kids who lead the Camp Kesem camps across the country will be able to see the crazy things we do to help them, and we’ll be able to see the crazy things they do to help kids. I’m excited for this, even though I don’t have any idea yet what it means. This, basically, is how I live my entire life.
  2. I didn’t want to do it during the summer, because I’m fundraising for WBR during the summer. The Grand Slam for Zambia is going to happen around Tour de France time this year, and I just don’t want the Grand Slam and the 100MoN to step on each others’ toes.

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Last year, I charged more for the 100MoN because I included a jersey with the swag, instead of a t-shirt. I heard from some people who loved the jersey, and from other people who didn’t like how much 100MoN cost. I’d love your preference for this year: cheaper registration (with a t-shirt), or include a jersey again with pricier registration?

Also, I’d like to know your thoughts on additional swag: gels, race plates, CarboRocket, gear, random prizes, and so forth. Are those an important part of the 100MoN? Or just a nice-to-have? Or a “don’t care about having?”

Finally, the date: obviously, November is cooler / colder / wetter than a summer 100MoN. Are you OK with that? Or should I scramble the jets and make this happen in late summer after all?

If you’re planning on doing the 100MoN this year, please take a moment and leave a comment. Your thoughts really do affect how and when I’ll put this on.

PS: If you happen to live in or near Michigan and are interested in riding the 100MoN at the actual Camp Kesem summit venue, let me know about that, too. 

To Own a Ferrari

06.5.2015 | 3:06 pm

A Note About DK200 Winner Yuri Hauswald from Fatty: Yuri’s a pro cyclist, a nice guy, a marketing guy for GU, and a friend. And now he’s the winner of the Dirty Kanza 200. There’s a great story about him here. Huge congrats to Yuri for an amazing win on a brutal course.

I love really nice bikes. The high end stuff, as well as the stuff that makes the high end stuff look like low end stuff. I embrace this appreciation of beautiful, light, high-tech gear, and do not apologize for it. Nay, I celebrate my love for bikes that are way, way better than I deserve.

I sometimes get a little grief for this. Pretty much along the lines you’d expect, too. “Isn’t that a lot of money to pay for a bike?”

Yes, it most certainly is. 

But I love it more than I would ever love a car, I enjoy it way more than I would ever enjoy a car, I use it more than I use any car, and — this is my most important point — it costs less than a third as much as even a crummy new car. 

And then there’s the even more important than most important point: I simply cannot afford to own one of the very best cars in the world. Just can’t. However, if I stretch myself I can afford to own the very best bikes.

I could never own a Ferrari. But I can own the bike equivalent thereof.

And the sensation is not dissimilar, as I recently discovered when given the chance to ride — for the rest of this season — the Cannondale F-SI Carbon Black Inc.

Here’s its beauty shot from Cannondale:

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Is that a color photograph, or is it black and white? To be honest, there’s no way to tell. Every single thing on this bike is black, white, grey, or silver. It’s as elegantly monochromatic as a bike can be.

It is a beautiful bike. It is also upgraded to the max in every possible way, making it the incredibly rare bike that you cannot imagine running anything but stock (although I would eventually make a few changes, which I’ll describe shortly). What, in this spec, would you want to swap out?

Spec Highlights

  • Frame: F-Si Asymmetric, BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon
  • Fork: Lefty 2.0 Carbon XLR 100 29
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR Di2
  • Brakes and Levers: Shimano XTR Race
  • Wheels: ENVE Carbon M50, tubeless ready (Ai offset lacing), Lefty SM front hub, Chris King rear hub
  • Handlebar: ENVE Carbon Sweep, flat
  • Saddle: Fabric ALM Carbon Base/Carbon RailSeat 
  • Post: ENVE Carbon, Di2 compatible

It is, quite simply, a perfect bike build. An XC racer techno geek fantasy rig. And when it arrived at SBR Cycles a couple weeks ago, I wanted nothing in the world more than to drop everything and rush over to the bike shop to watch it be built.

Unfortunately, I was at work. Even more unfortunately, I was in a meeting. Even most unfortunately of all, I was the one who was leading the meeting. Even more unfortunately than that, I was the one who called the meeting, because it was about one of my critical work projects.

Short of feigning a heart attack, there was no way I was getting out of that meeting. And since I’ve already used that trick three times in the past four months, I suspected people were beginning to cotton on to my shenanigans.

Hence, I remained in the meeting, watching helplessly and from a great distance…while SBR tweeted the building of my bike. 

From the unboxing…

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(No, not really the F-Si. The SBR guys were messing with me.)

to the building… 

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And the closeups. Oh, the closeups. Like this:

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I tell you, I just about started crying. 

And then the closeup of the new XTR Di2 junction box, which doubles as a display. 

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I’ll have more to say about Shimano’s XTR Di2 in just a minute. First, though, let’s take a look at the other alien space technology part this bike has built in: A ridiculously supple fork, that doesn’t fork at all. The Lefty: 

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And staying to the “no possible upgrades” line, the rear hub is a Chris King:

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Which means, once I got it on my rack (behind the Scalpel, because I somehow have both for now), there was no way I was not going to have a massive grin for pretty much the rest of my life.

All on ENVE M50 wheels. 

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Oh mercy I love these wheels.

So I arrived at the shop to find a completed, ready-to-ride bike. All set to go. Here I am, with the Scalpel and the F-Si Black:

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Yeah, I’m grinning like a fool. You think you wouldn’t be?

And then, pretty much the moment I got the bike…it rained pretty much nonstop for about two weeks.

Sure, I still got this new bike out for little rides, but nothing that let me really get a feel for it. For one thing, I didn’t want to gunk up this thing of beauty. More importantly, I didn’t want to be a part of this:

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No, that’s not MTB wheels that did this, that’s motorcycles. But I didn’t want to be a part of the problem, you know?

What It’s Like to Ride 

Finally, last Saturday — while The Hammer was off on a little run — I had the opportunity to take the F-Si Black on a good-sized shakedown ride

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I took it on singletrack, fire roads, and even some really steep pavement. 

And this bike is, in fact, the MTB equivalent of a Ferrari. Faster, better and more capable than I have any right to…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like being on it. 

For the nearly eleven hours I was out, I happily climbed and descended mountain after mountain — extending my ride waaaay beyond my original plan.

Because I simply did not want to stop riding. 

Sure, eventually my legs became fatigued —16,000 feet of climbing will do that to you — but not as soon as I expected. And the expected pain in my contact points — my butt and hands — just never materialized at all. Huge kudos to Cannondale for the amazing Lefty fork, as well as for a frame that is light and stiff but miraculously not harsh.

And for the Fabric saddle — the first time I’ve ever kept the saddle that came on a bike (instead of replacing it with a Selle Italia SLR).

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That is a wonderful saddle.  

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I was out there all day, riding hard…and loving how this bike feels more and more as the day went on.

Miracle Drivetrain

Of course, one of the really key features of the F-Si Black is the brand new Shimano XTR Di2 drivetrain. For those of you who don’t follow this kind of thing, that’s the electronic shifting drivetrain for mountain bikes.

And it is unbelievable. Even more unbelievable and wonderful than the road bike version of Di2. 

Why? Easy. On the road bike, Di2 just does what you would do, but electronically. You are still the one who decides whether you’re in your big/small ring up front, and which gear you’re using in the back.

And — if you want — the XTR Di2 can be that way, too. 

But I never ever use it in that “manual” mode. Because if you let it, the brains of the XTR Di2 will decide for you when it’s time to move to the big or small ring. All you have to do is press one button to shift to a harder gear, or another to shift to an easier one. Di2 shifts the back gear…or front…or both, for you. 

And it makes that gear change fast. And reliably, even if you are struggling up an extremely steep hill. 

And it just works. Every. Single. Time. 

It’s the most amazing MTB drivetrain in existence today. And I say that as someone who is so deeply in love with SRAM’s XX1 that between The Hammer and me, we have four bikes with it.

Yes, it’s heavier than XX1: about a pound heavier than the equivalent bike, I’d say. The battery (hidden in the seatpost, a charge lasts for multiple weeks of frequent riding) and motors on on derailleurs have to weigh something, right?

And this XTR Di2 is — as you’d expect — expensive. A big chunk of the Cannondale F-Si Black’s $11K price tag comes from the cost of Di2. 

But it’s amazing. Ferrari-level amazing. 

And between the incredible range of this drivetrain, the ease of shifting even in places where a shift normally wouldn’t happen, and the geometry of the F-Si itself, I am climbing stuff that better riders than I am aren’t climbing.

Changing A Thing or Two 

Earlier, I said this bike is so maxed-out there’s nothing I would change.

That…wasn’t exactly true.

First, while I tried riding with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 tires the bike came with, they’re just too narrow for me. I don’t like them. I’ve replaced them with the Specialized S-Works Fast Trak 2.2s, which The Hammer and I have on all our XC bikes. That’s not a lot wider of a tire, obviously, but I’m just a lot more comfortable on it. It may just come down to being what I’m used to riding. 

More importantly, though, I made a couple of slight changes to how the XTR Di2 setup works. 

First, since I quickly came to trust that the programming of the XTR was smarter about gear ratios — when to shift to the small ring / large ring, and what kind of corresponding jump to make on the cassette — than I am, I decided to commit to it, and got rid of the left-side shifter: the one that lets me manually change the front derailleur.

This took me all of three minutes to do; it was basically as difficult as unplugging headphones from an iPod.  

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And just like that, I have no front derailleur shifter:

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Instead, all my shifting — both front and rear — is being controlled with just the right shifter.   

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But to be honest, when I first got this bike, I was mis-shifting a lot. Being really used to the SRAM trigger layout, on Di2 I was shifting up when I meant to shift down, and vice versa.

And I wasn’t transitioning well, since my other two MTBs still use the XX1 drivetrains.

So I downloaded the free software from Shimano that controls Di2 drivetrains, plugged the junction box into a USB port, and switched around which trigger does what — changing the drivetrain so it suits me, instead of waiting for my old-man brain to adjust to the way this bike works.

That took about twenty minutes (it might have taken less, but I had to borrow a Windows computer [my own setup is a Mac] to make the change on). 

And with those changes, the XTR Di2 shifting behaves just how I’m used to on SRAM 1X drivetrains…but with all the benefits of a front derailleur and electronic shifting. 

And — this is important — I made these changes myself, and I am no mechanic (to put it mildly). 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s now a perfect setup.

Leadville?

I am a hardtail guy. I just am. I loved (and am still loving) the Scalpel, but this F-Si…well, it feels like driving the Ferrari of MTBs to me. Fast, light, incredibly responsive. Perfect, frankly.

I haven’t made the decision for sure yet — it takes more than a few rides to make sure — but I’d say that this is going to be my Leadville 100 bike this year.

As you might expect, I’ll keep you posted.

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Rootbeer

PS: If you unexpectedly received a box from UPS, and that box contained five-freaking-hundred GU Root Beer Energy Gels, with a message from Yuri Hauswald (yep, the same one linked in my note preceding this post): “Use however you see fit,” what would you do with those gels? This may or may not be a hypothetical question. 

PPS: As long as I’m talking a lot about Yuri and GU, Yuri’s the one holding the new Maple Bacon GU in this picture. No I haven’t tried it. Yes I want to, and have asked for samples, ASAP. And yes I will let you know what I think.

Just a Little While Longer

06.1.2015 | 7:09 am

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A Note About 2015 FatCyclist Gear Delivery: A few of you have sent me email, tweets, Facebook messages and Pinterests (OK, actually nothing from Pinterest) asking when you’ll be getting your 2015 FatCyclist gear. The answer is: it’s on its way from Italy now, and will arrive in the DNA warehouse at the end of this week. Then, it all ships out to you early next week, arriving in most US locations by the end of next week. I’ll show photos and whatnot as it all arrives. 

A Note About the Rockwell Relay Pre-Race Chat: A few days ago, I had a conversation with the founder of the Rockwell Relay, along with a couple of experienced racers and one guy who’ll be racing the Rockwell Relay for his first time (as part of a two-person team, no less). It was a fun conversation with a lot of useful information for anyone who plans on doing this race. Click here for a recording of the chat

Just a Little While Longer

Recent studies conducted by highly-educated, intelligent-looking people (all wearing protective goggles and lab coats) have demonstrated that, more often than not, it is better for you to wait just a little while longer before correcting the cycling-related problem you are currently experiencing. The reasons are as surprising and manifold as they are relevant and commonsensical.

(Note: The data from this study is incontrovertible, so I am not going to take the time to present it, convey, or otherwise show it. Or summarize it. Or even mention it. It’s good data. Really good data. It’s the data-est.)

I am pleased to now share this information with you.

Rock In Shoe

You know that little rock you’ve got in your shoe? You know, the one that got kicked up by your front wheel, flew a perfect arc onto the one little gap between your foot and shoe — a gap so small that you wouldn’t have even known it’s there except obviously there is a gap, because that little rock has just executed an almost impossible feat of aerial acrobatics and is now in your shoe. 

Yeah, that rock. With every pedal stroke, you can feel it. Stuck right there between the shoe and your big toe. From the feel of it, it’s a pretty darned big rock. Bigger than you’d have thought could work into your shoe at all. 

But it’s there. Oh, it’s there all right. But it’s on the move now. It’s decided to park itself under your arch for a while. It’s a sharp little sucker, too. 

Maybe you should stop, take your shoe off, and dump that rock out.

Or better yet, maybe you should wait to remove it, for just a little while longer. 

After all, sometimes the rock moves to a place where you can hardly even notice it. Maybe it will find that place soon — in the triangle-shaped gap between your third and fourth toe and the front of the shoe — and it will stay there for the end of the ride.

Hm. Doesn’t seem to want to be moving right now, though, does it? It seems to have settled in right under the ball of your foot. Right where you put force down every pedal stroke. You’re really getting to know the shape, size, and density of that little rock now, aren’t you?

Still, though, you should probably wait just a little while longer. You’re riding with a group, after all. They aren’t going to want to wait while you stop, unclip, and perform the various ratcheting, velcro-ing, windup cabling, and plain ol’ shoelace-untying rituals necessary to get the shoe off.

And then you know you’re going to discover, when you finally dump that rock out, that it’s not all that big. Like, smaller than a BB. People are going to roll their eyes when they see what a tiny little thing it is you’ve made such a fuss over.

So just wait a little while longer. If it’s still bothering you in ten minutes, you’ll take it out then. 

Eating 

You’re racing. You’re riding hard. You’ve been burning calories  as if  it’ were actual fuel that makes your body perform. And it’s been about half an hour since you’ve had anything to eat.

Probably you should eat something, so you don’t bonk.

But, you know, maybe not just yet. Food just isn’t all that appealing right now. Which is a strange irony, and that irony is not lost on you: when you’re eating just for fun or out of habit, eating’s no problem at all. But when eating is a necessary component of staying strong and fast on your bike, well, hey: suddenly your stomach thinks now’s a perfect time to start a diet.

So, sure, you’ll eat. In just a few minutes.

But now a few minutes has gone by and — weirdly — you haven’t gotten hungrier. No, now you’re starting to feel a little bit gross, and the thought of food makes you feel even grosser. 

So you should probably wait just a little while longer.

And now, well, sure you’d eat if you weren’t on this technical downhill section of trail or road. Honest, you would. In fact, you’ll get to eating that gel as soon as you get to the bottom of it. 

Unless something comes up. Which, from the way you’re feeling, it very well could.

Sunscreen

Your neck is hot, and you’re pretty sure you know why. It’s sunny outside. Warmish. You’ve been out for three hours. 

Probably, it would be a good idea to reapply your sunscreen. 

But maybe wait just a little while longer. Hey, the ride’s almost over, really, and the day’s cooling down at this point. Or it will start cooling down, in just a few hours.

Didn’t someone tell you once that you can’t get sunburned after 4pm? You’re just a couple hours from 4pm at this point, so the sun probably isn’t as strong now, right?

And besides, it’s not like putting on sunscreen now as opposed to fifteen minutes from now. So put it off. Wait just a little while longer til you put on that sunscreen.

Really, what could go wrong?

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