Friday, February 26, 2010

Twin Peaks

I have a set ride that I do on occasion that I have named as "Twin Peaks". In short it is a climb up Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura. These are two mountains which dominate the Canberra Landscape. Well at least as much as some ~850m mountains can dominate in a landscape that is at ~550m on average.
The ride starts from my front yard - the timer gets punched as soon as I pass the chinese elm. The big ring is selected and 80 seconds later I am in the Mount Ainslie Nature Park and on singletrack. I have a good 6 minutes of singletrack before I hit the main fireroad that follows the hi voltage powerlines to the lowest point of the ride. This is after some awesome flowing fast ST.
The next 12-13 minutes are all UP. There is mainly fireroad but just a couple of minutes of technical singletrack. The fireroad is reasonably steep (middle and easy) and the HR is up around 95% of max. The last bit of the climb is on the bitumen for 2 minutes at 10% up to the top loop of Mount Ainslie.
This climb is about 270m from my front yard and takes anywhere from 24:30 to 25:30 depending on wind direction, ground moisture and personal fitness and recovery.
From here it is back down the tar to the point where I entered, then a right hand turn down some 40km/hr almost fall line singletrack - this descent fully pumps the brakes up. Onto the fireroad then pinned over to the saddle. The saddle is a fireroad that has been in various states of smoothness (loose term) over the years. It pretty much takes you over to the top gate of Majura Pines. At the moment it is reasonably smooth and fast.
From this point it is up some zigzag trail singletrack to the base of the Mt Majura radar firetrail. The zigzag trail is technical and quite taxing. It is also technically for walkers. The fireroad climb is pretty much the steepest part of the ride and comes at the end of the test. It is about 5 minutes of pain. It can be done in middle and easy, however lately I have been experimenting with granny and 3rd and 4th, with a few options of 2nd. So as you can figure it is reasonably steep.
At the top whilst at MAX HR you have to hop off the bike, jump a gate, grind up to the tar, then head up to the Majura trig station, this is when the timer can be stopped.
The altitude function on my HRM shows 540m climbed for the 2 hills.
Phew what an epic translation! I like doing this ride in winter, or cooler times as it is extremely hard on the body and temperature regulation is easier in the cooler times. I also like doing this ride when there is a howling westerly as most of the fireroad climbs head in an easterly direction. I also tend not to do this ride if it has rained as it saps energy in a huge way.
Bottom line: Hard ride. Climbing specific. Continuity between climbs. Mental toughness. pacing technique.
I also find that I can only do this ride for 3 weeks at a time (ie every Tuesday). It builds fitness, is a good indicator of fitness, but must be respected.
When I got my new Cannondale Flash, I was curious as to how it would compare on all of my 'timed' loops. My average "last 5 rolling" efforts time up the 'twin peaks' is 48 minutes and 30 seconds. The fastest ever is 47:37 (kickass 30kmhr tailwinds up the climbs).
I gave it a whirl today on the Flash. The day was perfect (for an awesome road ride - ie no wind). The training week has been fairly good with regard to both endurance and intensity, and I raced last night at the Majura Dirt Crit. The flash felt awesome, and the time up Mount Ainslie was 24:45. The time for the second segment up to Mount Majura was 23:02 --- so a total time of 47:42. Not bad for a first run up these climbs on the bike on a non-windy day. I usually tend to do a faster run the 2nd week with a consistent or slower 3rd week - then I leave it for a while.
I am still in the process of fine tuning my bike positioning, but I am quietly happy with this time. The positioning won't affect performance, just how I feel on the bike.
Flash is good!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My best Marcel Wust impression

Took the new Flash out for a spin today. A coupleof hours around Bruce Ridge, Black Mtn , arboretum, then out to Stromlo to do some recce on the WOrld Cup course which is more than likely to be the track of course for the Stromlo National Round.

The Flash was sensational on the tech sections of the entire 6 minute climb. I was able to chack out some new lines at Hammerhead which gets me in straighter and faster. All up I rode it about 5 times or so. It is scary how much you can attack the tech stuff. Yet it goes uphill with the legs just turning the cranks over.

4 hours later and about 2 kilos lighter I was back at home in time for a protein drink, some pasta and a snooze whilst watching the Winter Olympics. A bit of dehydration out today!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cannondale Flash

OK so the pictures aren't being loaded in this report - but they will be in very shortly.

I have had my Cannondale Flash now for about 2 weeks. During this time I have ridden it about 5 times, including 2 dirt crits. I purposely held off from reviewing the bike until a) I had finished tweaking it and b) the new bike syndrome wore off.

One issue I have had is that I have barely been able to ride it in fully dry conditions. It has rained a fair bit here in Canberra lately. Last Saturday was 3 and a half hours in pouring rain in the Brindabellas on the road bike, which by the way is a brand new Cannondale Super Six frame - this machine is a keeper - plus I need to order some spare 11 tooth cogs.

Anyway, back to the flash. The entire bike is light. When I picked it up from the bike shop, it was hung up on the scales and was 8.6kg with plastic pedals that probably weight more than my CB 4ti eggbeaters. The modifications I have done are as follows:
new stans wheels (AM classic, enduro ceramic zero bearings, small block 8 ghetto tubeless, Rotor rings, ESI grips, Selle SLR carbon saddle, full Ti and alloy bolt redo, King Ti bidon cages.

I threw it on the bathroom scales (which can measure fat content also) and it came in at 8kg...... For reference, my Scott Scale was 8.9kg on the same scales.

OK so it is light - scary thing is tehre are no 'temporary' parts - you know, the weight weenie double cost, half lifetime type of parts that you wonder if they will last the entire ride - so that is a good thing.

The ride - as I mentioned on my Facebook status - this bike has redefined everything that I thought I knew about XC specific hardtails.

It is like this: It ride downhills like a DH bike (ie fast and effortless) and climbs like a road bike (efficiently and effectively).

I spent a long time on a few Scott Scale frames and the associated geometry (18 months) and had some great results, so it was quite daunting taking a massive leap to a totally different concept of a bike (Like Tiger Woods redesigning his golf swing when everything wasn't too bad to begin with).

For starters, the bottom bracket is lower on the Flash. This makes cornering effortless - I haven't even come close to finding the tyre release point when leaning hard. However I have found a few rocks with my chainrings (only on Canberra World Cup climb - which the chainrings got buzzed on the Scale anyway). The headangle is 70 as opposed to 71. The chainstays are 0.1 of an inch longer. The wheelbase is an inch longer, so it is more stable, and you would have thought harder to get through the tight stuff, but with the lower bb height it works. I now have 110mm of fork travel (I had the Scale running 80mm). The front end is also a bit higher. The front centre (bb to headtube) length is also longer which effects the out of saddle position of the hands and feet.

The ride: It's good. It is brutally stiff laterally at the bottom bracket. All my power is going to the back wheel that is for sure. Even seated pedalling feels more efficient. Due to the light weight and the efficency of the frame, I am often in 1 gear harder - ie faster.

The SAVE seatpost - I am not sure if this adds to the comfort or not. I am convinced that the skinny seat stays absorb shock. You can put the rear brake on and rock the bike back and forth and see the stays flex (the Taurine also did this).

With 2 dirt crits on it, there is a 3rd and a 1st on the board. The 3rd place I was experimenting with some rocket Ron tyres on XTR wheels. The RR tyres were not great for the conditions, I was coming back into training after a transition period and up against a peaking Shaun Lewis and a hauling Brad Morton. Result woudl not have been different on that day. Last nights race was a different event! - better tweaked position, wheelset and tyres, suspension settings, continuity of training, it rocked!

One issue I have now is that the descents (which I would consider a strength - relative to what you actually require in XC) can be full on attacked a lot more. Maybe I need to recover on the climbs. But with an 8kg bike, do I attack these also - what a dilema!!!

So in summary. The Flash works extremely well. In a way it has redefined what a hardtail can be. Ultimately it is still the engine of the rider that will win the race, but I can in all honestly not blame the bike now. At least with the Scale I could say that it was sesnational for climbing but a bit ordinary for descending.

Timed twin peak climbs (Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura from my front yard) and Majura hotlaps will come in about 1 week once all the water has stopped existing on the trails.

Friday, February 5, 2010

been a while

It has been a short while since my last post, and a few things have happened. I rode the wave of good form for a few club short track races. 2 first places in the A grade short track races on 2 equally hot stinkers. Weather that is! 2 Super fast courses were prepared at stromlo on each day on different tracks - just awesome.

On Saturday I went for a long ride - standard loop, just super windy, like really windy - my ears were hurting due to the rushing sound going past. The bastard wind also was swirling. Checked with BOM when I got home - yep, did a full 180 on me.

Saturday afternoon was spent in a daze, pretty much felt as though I had been run over by a truck. Sore throat, lethargic, sore muscles, wanting to throw up etc. Sunday was a little better but not by much, something was obviously wrong.

Now I know I was starting to burn the pedals at both end a little bit, but I usually have a good handle on this aspect. Kylie was experiencing the same symptoms so I knew she wasn't doing a big block currently. The food, what about the food?

We racked our brains to think back to what we had eaten lately. The ham!!! Dodgy used by date!! Not good at all - especially 3 days in a row - no wonder I felt like crap.

So due to a course being on at work (or not actually at work, but off site) - I though it might be a good idea to have a total break off the bike for 3 full days, eat some 'fun' non tainted food and chill.

So after just 3 days, feeling bloated on sugar from the lollies and biscuits provided at the course, and the subsequent water retention that happens with such consumption, I was itching to get back on the bike.

Thursday Short track - perfect. With a markedly lower heart pump stroke I ventured out for my normal trunk trail warm up at stromlo. HR high - normal after even 1 day off the bike, legs feeling like they have no idea how to go around, general thoughts of 'how do I do this' floating through the mind.

And pretty much nothing of anything in the race - and being off the pace. I still managed 3rd place, but this is the thing I was actually looking for. Now the mind is refocussed for the next block leading up to Stromlo National Round. After being sick on the weekend I decided to skip the Thredbo round that's coming up in 2 weeks time. This will allow me to rebuild for the Stromlo round on a course I truly love.

The next best thing that happened is that my Cannondale Super Six frame arrived, plus my Cannondale Flash also showed up. As is teh rule, take nothing new to a race, so it hasn't had the chance to see any singletrack yet. as with the purchase of any of the shelf bike, some parts tweaking must be done. So I am currently waiting on some Stans wheels, and some different cranks. Other changes will include swapping the XTR disc brakes out for some avids, pulling off the Racing Ralphs and swapping with some Small Block 8s and going from XTR shadow to XTR normal.

I am hoping that all of this will occur next week, and I will a) have a chance to run the Flash up the twin peaks climb against the clock, b) run it at my Majura training facility (secret lap) against the clock and c) race it on Thursday at the World Championship short track.

Reviews will follow - also with photos. After my tweaks this should be an 8 kg bike. Which is almost a full kilo lighter than my Scott Scale. it had better be faster!