Monday, March 30, 2009

New Ride Trek Madone 6.9 Pro Red

The maiden voyage of my new Trek Madone 6.9 Pro Red is done. It consisted of a rather hilly, and quite windy, ride with Jessi and Steve. I knew we had planned on riding this afternoon and my new Madone was to come as well. UPS arrived at about 1:00pm and I immediately got into the box because it seemed too light and I thought that the wheels were missing…they weren’t. I started working on it about 2:30pm after a few other obligations. So that gave me about 2 hours to get this all sized up and set up. Seems simple, and it “can” be.

Upon opening the box all I could see was bubble wrap and styrofoam. I guess that’s good. I took the frame and many of the components out of the box and began getting them ready for the light assembly required. This would be he first bike I have had with the new SRAM Red. But I thought it was built on the Shimano platform for the most part, so how hard could it be? Well, it wasn’t that hard but I seemed to fumble around with the front derailleur more than I needed to. Other than that, taking off the reflectors on the $2000 Aeolus wheels was a little funny as well as spoke protector. Yup, the same ones you see on the bike at Toys-R-Us. After running a few measurements and checking levels, I was ready to go.

Let me quickly walk you through the bike. The bars that came on it were Bontrager carbon bars that are 44cm wide. That’s pretty wide for a narrow shouldered guy, but feels super stable on the road. The bars are nicely matched up with a white carbon Bontrager stem. Very sleek and bold…yes, both. The SRAM Red brakes are fitted with carbon pads to accommodate the Aeolus 5.0 wheels (that happened to be clinchers…hmmm). The bar tape and cable housing are a very bright white, for now, and really set off the bike. I really like the seat post design that is a carbon mast design. Many frames are going this route to save weight, and decrease parts while making things stiff. The front derailleur is a clamp on, which happens to be one of the first bikes in a long time that I have owned without a braze on. The SRAM Red package was complete with the red accents and the cassette that has red anodization detail facing the spokes…pretty cool. I completed the bike with a pair of Look Keo Carbon Ti pedals.

I got this bike all built up literally 10 minutes before we had to leave. So as I walked out the door with my new ride, I was not 100% confident that I double-checked all the bolts. Oh well, should hold. I rolled down the driveway and grabbed the brakes…worked. Whew, I can stop. How about a quick acceleration? Yup, everything held. How about shifting from chainring to chainring under load? Yup, did it. So as Jessi rolled down the road too, we were off. Currently there is absolutely no computer of any kind on the bike. No speed, heart rate, cadence, time, …nothing! So I was riding by all feel on a completely new feeling bike. I felt like it looked cool. I mean, how often do we go out and train on a set of racing wheels? Though I was sitting way more upright than I do on my TTX, I felt like I was cruising along nicely. Jessi was tucked in behind me not complaining.

We came to a few stops and climbed a few more hills before we ran into Steve. From that point, we pick up the speed and started running the bike through the tests. It climbed like it was 10 pounds and as stiff as a downhill bike. The shifting was precise, and never left me shifting up two to come down one. It is designed on a 2-click system that you can quickly adjust to if you are used to Shimano STI. I had no problems with it form the get go. We hit some pretty big climbs and I found the hoods very comfortable and had a large enough platform to rest your hands. They also allowed for out of the saddle climbing, and even shifting, with success and ease. There were only a few times that I found myself in the drops, but when I did, I felt like I was pulling a Tour peleton behind me. Granted, I was going down an 8% descent. It made my ride go by so quickly. Since this was a brand new bike, and I did not change ANYTHING out of the box other than adding pedals, I was happy to ride for a bit and not experience any soreness. I did not even change the saddle! Jessi, Steve, and I had a great ride. I was so lucky to have such a great couple of people to ride with and let me test this new steed out with. I dragged them all over the place.

So to sum it up, this bike is race ready out of the box. I have ridden quite a few bikes from steel, aluminum, and carbon. I have used all the great components from the down tube retro-friction shifting to the Campy Ergo, to the Shimano STI. This bike was honestly a pleasure to ride. I would like to let everyone come and ride it and experience what it is like, but it’s mine and you can go buy your own :) I highly doubt many local Trek dealers will stock these bikes in a full size run, so if you are ever at a place that they are demoing them, take advantage of it. It’s like being at the BMW test track with a fist full of keys. Now I really know that Lance was never on drugs. I know exactly what he was on.

A HUGE thank you to Team TIMEX, Tristan, Tom, and all the great minds at Trek. It's because of all you that I am in need of a tent. But it should only be a temporary arrangement.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Ticket To Hawaii!

Well, not really a "free" ticket, but a way to save on one ticket for the Thompson household.

After Emma got back from her swim meet, and after seeing her lug around her team swim backpack that she got for Christmas the past few months, I truly thought it was as big as her. So today we put it to the test.

There are many internal pockets in this bag that I thought would be great for a reading light and some small snacks...maybe an inflatable pillow? Emma liked the idea. Granted, I did compare it to "First Class," just without the annoying stewardess. I have not quite figured out the oxygen, but those are small details.
Hawaii ticket from Alaska Airlines : $550
One extra carry on: $25
CPS Lawsuit: Priceless

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UBC Triathlon

We made another pilgrimage to the wonderful Great White North known as Vancouver BC. We were there back in June at the ITU World Championships where I was not too happy about the race that unfolded at that time…but that is in another blog :)
A little snow over the Pass
Jessi and I took off on Saturday at about 1:30pm. Kind of a late start, but a drive is a drive and it really did not matter what time we got there. We also knew our race was starting at about 12:00 the next day so there really was no huge “rush” in getting there. Emma went up to Schweitzer for a weekend of skiing with her Papa Tim and Grandma Kris.
Secured Parking that we cleared by 1/2 inch going in, but could not drive out. We had to back out
Our accommodations found us staying at the luxurious Quality Inn in Vancouver. Might I caution you before staying at this location if traveling to Vancouver. We set our clocks forward and got a good night’s sleep.

This weekend would see similar weather trends with the wind and unseasonable cool temps (36 degrees on race day) as was experienced in June. But I have to say that this race is a lot of fun. The first time I raced this event was back in 1998. It was set up a tad different, but the gist was the same. It is well attended, selling out weeks before the event.
Paying to Park. I Hate this.
We made it to the race site in search of a parking spot. I am not one that likes to pay for parking, but we were in Canada and I think they charge you for parking in your own driveway. We eventually gave up and parked in a hospital parking lot that, of course, you had to pay for. But at this point we were ready to go. We got the wheels aired up and the gear in the packs, and we were “race ready.”
His and Hers
After being redirected at every building we went to, we eventually had all the items in the right places and were awaiting our start time. As I have said in many other race reports, I am normally one of the first ones to the race site, but one of the last ones ready for the start. This race was no exception. As all the athletes in my wave were listening anxiously to the pre race talk in their swim suits, I stood there in my fleece pants, down jacket, and fleece beanie. I figured we had about 10 minutes, so plenty of time to strip down.
Outdoor Pool
I eventually took off all my outer warmth and was exposed to the elements with nothing protecting me but a thin layer of orange lycra. They staged us in a “warming tent” right next to the outdoor pool. It was at that point that the race would begin. You would walk across the timing mat, get in the water, and then they would tap you and say “go.” I HATE being the first one because I usually screw something up. I was told to enter the water so I hopped in the pool. It was surprisingly warm…so I peed..just kidding. It was quite warm though. Then all of a sudden the lady said “go.” Crap! I pathetically pushed off the wall and was off. I felt slow…I mean really slow. Like something was slowing me down. I was in a skin suit, but it felt more like a drag suit (and not the cross dressing type…that would be really slow). I proceeded to the end of the pool where I would duck under the lane line and continue back. I would see all the people that were coming behind me. I tried to take a split by counting my strokes. But I know it would not be that accurate. As I came to the other end, I did a flip turn and headed back along the other side of the lane, just like “circle swimming.” Little did I know that this pool had 8 lanes and we were to duck under the lane line each time which meant..yup..I was swimming right into everyone that was behind me. Nice…real nice. Fortunately I was swimming slow so any impact would hardly be felt. I narrowly missed the guy behind me (really in front of me) and then I ducked into the other lane and continued on. I finally made it other end and got out of the pool. I glanced down at my watch to get an idea as to what I swam hoping that I would surprise myself at the sheer speed I was really going. Nope. It provided evidence that I was just above “treading water” speed. Oh well. Off to T1.

They had our T1 bag ready for us as we exited he pool. However, in the bag was my down jacket, fleece pants, and other warm clothes. So as she outstretched the bag to me, I shoved my goggles and swim cap in it and said thanks. Jessi and I both looked over the arrangement of the course and figured it would be faster to do all of T1 at the bike itself. So the T1 bag that everyone was grabbing, we did not. My wet body carried me barefoot through the 36 degree air temp and to my steed about 400 meters away. There I started the longest T1 I think I have ever done. I put on a vest, arm warmers (which I never rolled up) helmet, number belt, and gloves. I could see the people coming from the pool all dressed and ready to go. I grabbed my Trek and ran out of T1 and did the common flying mount. I am always a tad afraid of missing the seat, or having the seat fall down when I do that. It’s quite a spectacle to watch when it goes right, but would never be forgotten if it went wrong. Bottom line, I was off on the bike.

I brought my Trek up to speed and then started to fumble with my shoes to get my feet into them. I have never tried this with gloves before and struggled quite a bit. I think it took me about 2-3 minutes to finally get my feet in. And since this was such a short bike, I was wasting precious time. Once all secured in, I was able to start going. My watts went up rapidly and the adrenalin kicked in. The cool air was making a statement on my face and bare legs, but I knew things would adjust. But for the first few minutes, it felt like pins in my legs being poked all around. The first out and back is a slight downhill. I found myself in my largest gear turning it over pretty comfortable for a bit. I was passing people at a ferocious speed. Granted, some of them were in a completely different race, more than likely longer, and on mountain bikes, but I felt like a sports car on the freeway passing semi trucks up Snoqualmie Pass. I made it to the first turnaround where I could take a split on 2nd…or at least the guy who started the swim behind me. I figured I put over a minute into him in the first few miles. That was good. But I still had a 5k to run and I needed some more time. I continued to push some good watts and saw Jessi flying the other way. She was looking very comfortable and traveling at a high rate. I was finally making my way back to T2 and thought I would put in one more big effort before setting up for a dismount. As I approached T2 I got my feet out of the pedals and was ready to jump off at a pretty good clip. As usual, the official was waving his arms and yelling to stop..slow down…dismount here…all the same things they say when they don’t think that you see them. I jumped off at about 15 mph and skipped into T2. I wasn’t really “riding” my bike, but like running though a parking lot with a shopping cart, I was using it to propel me a bit.

I got to my transition spot and was able to get into my shoes quickly. I grabbed my Rudys and TIMEX visor and was off on the run. I started off the run with a quick turnover and figured I would give it what I had. It was only 5k, but it was still 5k. I got to the first marker that said “1.” Since we were in Canada, I knew that that was not a mile marker. But it came quickly. I eventually saw “2” and I knew I was close to the turnaround. It always feels better to be running back to the pasture so to speak. As I hit the turnaround, I took another split to see how far back second was. I was running well, I thought. I did finally see 2nd and he seemed to be running well, but was too far back to make a push for it. So now it was just me running against people I could not see. I started to look for Jessi and was hoping to see her soon. With all the people on the bike course, people being cold, and three 180 degree turnarounds, it all increases the chance of an accident. So when I saw her running up the hill, and looking strong, I knew she was doing well. She was trucking and looking good. I continued on towards the finish navigating all the turns and cones in the last kilometer. I saw the finish and just ran strong to the end. I crossed the line, they took off my timing strap, and then I started running back on the course to cheer Jessi in.

It wasn’t long before I saw her so I turned around knowing she would catch up to me quickly. As I turned around in the middle of the run course, I figured there were a few people that probably thought I was running in the race still and just turned around in the middle of the run. Oh well, not a big deal. I ran the last 1.5ks in with her and I could tell she was cruising. She even picked it up for the last ½ mile. I peeled off with about 300 meters to go and met her at the finish.
After crossing the line, we quickly went to get or bikes out of transition and got our warm clothes. We tried to look for some results, but none were posted. We saw that the awards ceremony was not for another 1.5 hours. So we headed back to the car, loaded it up, and were off to Spokane. It was good thing we left when we did, because we did not anticipate the 90 minute wait at the boarder. Yikes! That was frustrating. We were in a bit of a hurry because we wanted to get home and see Emma. The drive home was pretty uneventful other than consuming 5 Krispy Kreme donuts. That was pretty fun.
The 90 minute wait at the Boarder
Hmmm...what shall I have?
ALL MINE, Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha...
It was a great trip that found us home in 36 hours from start to finish. Both Jessi and I won overall for men and women. That was pretty cool. But it was definitely not a distance that we really wanted to race. But you race the race in front of you and do your best in that. Even with a race that short, that went pretty well, there were definitely things I would change if I were to do it again. But for what I knew, and what I had, I am happy with the race.

I love racing. I love the anxiousness and the feeling of “Why am I doing this?” that you experience. But at the end of the day, you always seem to know why. Never be afraid to test yourself… it’s what makes you better.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

So I am not a huge calorie counter, or even someone who really watches too much what I eat. I am very thankful that Jessi takes care of 95% of that for me by shopping and getting foods that would benefit me more than others. If I were the one who did the shopping I would probably not get too far past the Hostess isle where I would be able to justify the raspberry filling in the powdered donut as a “fruit serving.” And the shredded coconut on the other ones has got to account for something…right? I do have a sweet tooth, and I LOVE Costco cake. I am not too sure what food group that falls into but I know there is a milk product in there and some fruit as well. And all those chemicals…come on, those are scientifically created. That is NASA stuff. Hi Tech means "good stuff" in the triathlon world.
So Kathy W. gave me a book called, “Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter.” It’s a great reference book to all kinds of foods. But more specifically, they have a big section in the back that has all the common restaurants, ice cream shops, and of course coffee houses. Once in particular, Starbucks. I have been known to go to Starbucks from time to time, but I am not what some would call a ‘regular,” or “addict.” But I thought I would take a peek at what one of my favorite treats had to offer. That being the infamous Pumpkin Scone. That innocent scone with a gourd for its name hiding under a silky layer of frosting. Yes, you know the one. It’s normally not available after 8:00am because of its popularity.

So what is the verdict? The Pumpkin Scone weighs in at a hefty (good word huh) 510 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 71 grams of carbohydrates. Now, I have to honest and say that these numbers really don’t mean too much to a guy that does not count calories. So I thought I would compare it to some items that would “outweigh” the delicate and delicious Pumpkin Scone.

Take for instance the Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds. That has got to be a killer. That grease bomb has 510 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 40 grams of carbohydrates. Pick up your jaw please. Yes, it’s true. I might as well go to McDonalds and get a Quarter Pounder with cheese if I get the Starbucks Pumpkin Scone in terms of base nutritional value. If you sat those two side by side, I would suspect that over 90% of people would think that the Quarter Pounder with cheese would be substantially worse for you. I am not too sure if I want people to se my car I the McDonald’s drive thru getting a coffee and Quarter Pounder each morning…but I might as well.

And those deep fried Chicken McNuggets that we all used to eat, but would not touch now because of how bad they ‘must be’ for us? A 6 piece meal has 250 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 15 grams of carbohydrates. That is practically a Weight Watchers Meal! Granted, if you want the sauce, that’s another 50 cals per container. Pretty disheartening really. I will stop now and simply provide a comparison chart to my once loved, wolf in sheep’s clothing, Pumpkin Scone.

Starbucks Pumpkin Scone______510____ 22 ____71
McD Quarter Pounder w/Cheese_____510_____26_____40
6pc Chicken McNuggets___________250_____15______15
10pc Chicken McNuggets__________420_____25______26
Big Mac______________________540_____29______45
McD Hot Fudge Sundae___________330_____10______54
12oz Oreo McFlurry_____________560______16______88
Quizno’s Steakhouse Sub (6”)_______510______21______52