November 19, 2010

The evolution of my ride...

Over the years I've had some solid bikes and I just thought it would be a pretty cool post to chronicle the evolution of my bikes over the years. I started out doing multisport in 2004 when my buddy Phil convinced me to do the first annual Penn Yann/Keuka Lake triathlon.  I was a newbie and had no idea what I was getting myself into.  It was the only race I did that entire year.  I rode it on this bike below:
 It was a FILA bicycle (I know, right? Fila makes bikes?!?!? I thought they just made crappy shoes!) But I was hooked and came back the next year to try the Olympic distance race.  In between that time, I got hired on to work for a large insurance company and was sent down to Georgia to live for a little over a month. I shipped the bike down via UPS in a cardboard box and reattached the pedals (I had shimano SPD's on it) and rode ALL over the Atlanta suburbs.  It was amazing and I felt as though I was a little kid again.  The shifters on the down tube and the swan neck stem didn't even deter me.  Neither did the fact that when I climbed, my knees hit the handlebars.  I was elated, I had a bike (given to me by my now roommate Erin Varley, thank you!) and I was riding...everywhere. 

But there comes a time that you realize you need to upgrade.  Not really knowing what I was doing, I chose a Trek 1500 bike from a local bike shop that was an aluminum frame.  I don't have a pic of it for here, but I still own it and actually raced on it this past year in several bike races. I finished 5th in the Bloomfield RR this year and some guy stated as we rolled around for cooldown, "props to the guy in the lead pack on the steel frame bike!"  Made me feel a little proud inside and that bike was adequately named "the TANK" because I used to ride it long and I loaded it down with bottles.  Also it is jokingly called "old ironsides" as well, but that's a little known name. I rode that bike out in Missouri for the US Halfmax National Championships which are now called the UltraMax or something like that. 
But I rode on and with the decision to race an Ironman in 2006, I decided it was time to buy a big boy bike and rubbed my pennies together to purchase, "the BEAST".  (see above, that's her hanging out a few days prior to IM Florida where she took me for a 20.7 mph bike split) She was a solid, solid machine and the first time I rode her, we travelled along the streets of Buffalo at blazing speeds and I knew it was a match made in heaven! :o) I was seeing speeds on the odometer that I hadn't EVER seen.  She was sleek, full carbon and FAST.  I got her several upgrades over the years and actually a lot before IM Wisconsin in 2008.  She came to IMLP in 2009 with a full carbon cockpit (stem, basebar, aerobars and brakes) and was as light as a feather.  She lived a good life.  Tragically though, it came to an end on 7/26/2009 as we had a minor mishap halfway thru the bike course at IM Lake Placid.   I still have her cracked frameset in my storage space in the basement and I don't really know what to do with her.  We've shared so many miles that I can't see just tossing her in the garbage just yet. We've won races, had the worst things happen mid race, had bad rides, shared many a laugh over the years.  But with every disaster comes a silver lining:
With the death of the Beast, came a new creation that rose up from her smoldering ashes.  The Lunar Phoenix (see above) was born and resurrected several key components from the Beast to make her a whole bike. I'm still working on getting everything back to where it was in 2009, but those components sure are pricey and my pocketbook will not allow me to be as frivolous as I would like to be.  But as the keen observer might notice, the LP is a P3 frame and the Beast was a P2C, both are carbon, but good old LP was a slight upgrade (why not, right?) LP is certainly fast and she'll be a solid steed.  She hasn't gone thru the rigors of a long course season yet though, so I'll have to break her in gently.  The beast was a pro at that.  She'd ridden herself thru 3.5 Ironmans (I say 0.5 because she only got thru half the bike the 2nd time I did Placid) But as always, there are upgrades to be had and instead of getting her fancy handlebars and such, I chose a more frugal and hopefully beneficial route this year. For my b-day this year, I was given a wonderful Tacx trainer which I affectionatively refer to as the "watt meter" and it's awesome.  I've never trained with power and it definitely showcases your weaknesses as a cyclist out there.   
This is the current set up that I have right now in the "dungeon" at my apartment. I ride in the basement laundry room next to the circuit breakers and most of the time it's in the darkness.  The lights are actually on a motion detector thing and they shut off after 16 minutes and 2 seconds exactly (I timed it last night...) but it's nice because no one really bothers me (other than my neighbors that come to change over their laundry and they already think I'm crazy, so I suppose it's no shock to see me spinning in the basement too)

But the Tacx isn't the only power meter that I've been in contact this year.  See my good buddy Matt upgraded his bike and had a spare PowerTap SL+ hub to sell, so I took that off his hands really quickly and am currently having it installed into a new rim (with the proper amount of spokes) by Craig down at the Mendon CycleSmith.  I'm stoked to be able to ride outside and keep myself in check with power because I have an affinity to go out too hard and then die in the latter miles of the bike.  I don't have a picture up of it yet, but will take one in the next few upcoming weeks. 

Now the only problem for me was that I didn't have a head unit to have the hub send the signal to.  This was a definite problem as I didn't just want a really expensive hub on my bike. I wanted to be able to utilize it.  This problem will be rectified hopefully this February when I purchase a Garmin Forerunner 310xt.  This little beauty is just like the GPS running watches in th past, but it has the ability to pick up a ANT+ signal from a PT hub and display power.  Plus it has a handy little quick release kit that allows this to be mounted to your bike and then twisted off and snapped onto your wrist for running.  BAM.  This thing is gonna be sweet for an Ironman.  It is basically a bike computer that is detachable and can be used to pace a marathon correctly.  And the kicker is, if I purchase the one with a HR strap on it, I can use my health savings account from work and buy this baby pre-tax and it's a qualified purchase because HR monitors are "necessary for the treatment/prevention of heart disease" according to the folks that manage our HSA's.  So that's why it's not coming into my possession until February, I have to still pour cash into my HSA for it.  But the wait will be worth it to have power on the bike and a GPS for the run.  Sweet.

Well friends, I hope you have enjoyed my evolution from a steel framed bike that was too small for me with shifters on the down tube, all the way up to a full carbon rocketship with a powertap that is being installed.  Now I must say this, the bike is only as fast as the rider, so I'm gonna be training my @$$ off over this winter and will hopefully be able to rip it up next season.  So until then, train hard my friends and I'll be the one crushing cranks with the lights off.  Cheers.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Very nice write-up Travis. Good luck with tearing up some ass this winter. I say you keep Old Blue ( I like that better than Beast and seems more fitting for a trusty steed who has past) and put her on your wall. That bike is art, atleast better than most things people pass off as art. For instance, drawings of people with stick bodies and disproportionately sized heads or trees with only branches and some sort of thing I assume is fruit magically floating within the "branches". These are often found of finger print smeared stainless steel fridges.
Where was I? Oh right, your bike. I say mount and stuff her. Maybe make a nice lamp out of her and tell everyone it was a major prize.

I love that you ride in the dark laundry room. Always makes me think of that Lance commercial where the lights go out at ESPN Headquarters because lance stopped pedalling in the basement.