A new family member has arrived

By Spinning Mum:

Remember my last post about naming a bike? Well, it is now time to find yet another name for our newest family member and motivation for 2013: My brand spanking new BMC racemachine RM01.

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure, whether it makes sense to invest in a new ride while not knowing if I will be able to free enough time to hit the roads with two kids on my lap and all the chores that come with the package but Cycling Dad was of another opinion. In order to encourage me to accompany him on at least some of his marathon endeavours (and probably to make up for taking over my gym membership once my baby bump prevents me from seeing my feet), he was determined to put me on a lighter and faster bike.

While he was presumably talking about renting a top-notch model, I took him at his word before he could change his mind justifying the expenses by telling myself that whereas other women are dreaming of receiving diamonds as a birth gift, I might as well wish for something made of carbon but in a slightly different appearance.

Good for me that the year was slowly coming to an end and a lot of dealers were trying to meet their bonus targets by granting generous offers. Thus, I started to look around a bit, defined my budget, made a list of specs and features I wanted my new bike to have (full carbon frame equipped with an Ultegra Di2 compact groupset and not exceeding 7.3 kgs) and screened through a gazillion of reviews about the 10 different models which would meet my idea of a sweet ride. At the end it took me two weeks and a pregnancy-related nervous breakdown to finally come to a conclusion and only two of the bikes I was interested in actually withstood my criticism.

Unbelievable that some manufacturers tried to convince me that they put an Ultegra or even Dura Ace group set on their bikes whilst at a closer look they simultaneously install Tiagra or Sora parts. Yes, I am talking about you Specialized and Trek! When I am prepared to spend an incredible amount of money on a decent bike, please do not fool me into thinking, I am buying a top-level groupset when some of its parts have been replaced by cheaper and heavier components. Thank god, that some reliable online retailers accurately depict every single screw mounted.

So, the Madone and S-Works models I had in mind failed my examination like a couple of other rides which were either too heavy, received only mediocore test scores or were already no longer available in their 2012 dresses. However, eventually I managed to downsize my list to three bikes:

1. The Merida Scultura Pro 907-E
2. The Scott Foil 15 / Contessa Foil
3. The BMC racemachine RM01 I eventually took home

Though I am usually a very brand loyal consumer and the Merida frame is one of the lightest available, I decided against it. Partly because I wanted to try another brand and partly because the price of the 907-E was still a tiny bit too high.

The Scott Contessa Foil as well as its male twin the Foil 15 were my favourites for an entire week. The 2012 Contessa looked sexy, received killer test results and had all the right specs. Unfortunately, it was already sold out at the beginning of December so that I had a closer look at its brother the Foil 15. To be honest, it did not turn me on much in the beginning as I did not like the black and silver paintwork (Well, what to say… I am still a girl…) but small details such as the Dura Ace bottom bracket, the beautifully integrated Shimano Di2 and the tremendous discount I was able to negotiate convinced me so far, that after a quick test ride I was ready to order it from Bernhard Kohl – my dealer of trust (http://www.bernhardkohl.at).

I was literally just about to submit my downpayment online, when I ran a final research on the Foil (http://www.roadbike.de/rennraeder/test-scott-foil-15.621495.9.htm) only to find out that it did not receive the same good grades as its twin sister (http://www.roadbike.de/rennraeder/test-scott-contessa-foil.685112.9.htm). Totally devastated I could not quite understand why the test results were differing in such a vast way, though the frame and composites were actually the same.

Thus, I once again turned to Bernhard for his professional advice and an offer for the last model on my list. A couple of days before I had the chance to test different BMC models at his shop and really liked their stiffness and responsiveness. (At this point feel free to take a minute to picture pregnant me cruising around the bike shop on some first class race material – surely a sight for the godsl^^) Having a close relationship to BMC and riding this brand as well Bernhard of course wanted to convince me of the RM01 and actually made the decision for me by offering the 2013(!) model at a price I could not resist :)

And so it came that my sparkling new ride is now standing in the hallway waiting for me to get back into the saddle. Right now I am 30 weeks along and unfortunately no longer able to take my latest attainment out for a real spin, so please stay tuned for my review coming up some time in spring!

 

 

 

 

Will the Colorado State Champion jersey return home? a.k.a. will US pro cyclist Michael Creed join me on the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon?

By Cycling Dad:

This is an open letter to Michael Creed, Pro Cyclist currently with team Optum Pro Cycling in the USA.

Dear Michael,

I was fortunate to get to know you during my time as an exchange student in Colorado Springs in 1995/1996, when I was invited to a few training rides to the US Olympic Training Centre. Back then I must have been a much better negotiator than I am today, because I managed to talk you into swapping your 1995 Colorado State Champion jersey for the team jersey of my German cycling club Pulheimer SC (not quite as glamorous, at least at that time). You were the very best athlete in my age bracket that I have ever had the honour of racing wheel to wheel with. While my cycling career vanished first into a sea of beer with little cycling, then years of studying with more beer and a career start in Hong Kong with an occasional pint and still very little cycling, you stayed true to your – to our – passion and turned professional. I have seen you race, and I will eternally respect your mental and physical strengths in competition.

I regret seeing cycling as a pro sports in its most profound crisis ever, and that you had to start your career right at the time when this crisis was already building up. You must have gone through some quite rough patches “growing up” as a pro cyclist in this system, sadly both despite and because you most likely have never doped yourself. A lot of things need to be, and hopefully will be rectified in professional cycling. But the damage to our sports is done. To me, the saddest part of all this is knowing that gifted sportsmen like you are denied the full endorsement and support they deserve. Professional athletes like you should be role models to our youngest. Clean sports – on all performance levels – is absolutely essential for that. Luckily, your current team Optum Pro Cycling seems to support high ethical standards in sports.

Let us never forget, however, that for most of us reading this blog (and I am certain for you too!), cycling is more than just a competitive sport. What unites us all is the enjoyment of a great ride, sucking up impressions, scents and landscapes as we cycle past. Cycling is life.

Pathos aside, to keep the fun in cycling and return to the origninal idea of this letter, I am offering you a chance to get back your State Champion jersey. If you come to Europe in August to cycle the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon with me, I will gladly hand back the piece, which has been my most priced cycling accessory over the past few years. Considering my cycling track record since we last met, I can assure you that it is almost as good as new. The Oetztaler Cycle Marathon is one of the most beautiful semi-professional/amateur cycling events in Europe, and I am sure you could finish the course with an impressive time.

I know you are following this blog because there can only be one person to reply to the poll in one of my previous posts “Winter Blues“: “Hell no, I am a pro cyclist and just moved to California for my winter training.” Haha, got you!

Finally, to present you the evidence that I am still holding your jersey hostage, here’s a recent photo of me wearing it while looking after my son Konstantin. Let me know if you are in, so I that I can wash the jersey before handing it back to you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

By Cycling Parents:

We are wishing all our friends and followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your support in 2012. Please keep it up in 2013!

Hope to see you back on the bike soon and let’s all try not to get lost in that cookie jar ;) .

Yours,

Alex, Kai, Konstantin, (working title baby aka. The Adorable Weight) and of course the hon. Mr. Nibbes, esq.

Why Spinning Mum’s bike has a name

By Spinning Mum:

You might have been wondering why I always refer to my bike as ‘Julie’ though normally I  do not belong to those people who refer to their dish washers as Harry or their cactuses as Emanuela.

Not that I do not like how some of my friends personify their cars, computers and vacuum cleaners, but my creative powers simply always ceased after finding witty names for our hamsters, so that the only non-living items in our household carrying names are probably the infamous Billy book cases available at a Swedish furniture store.

Okay, I am wandering off the point… So here is the story why my ride got a name:

I decided to get my own bike after only three times out on different rental racers I borrowed from Riders Pro Bike Shop in Tung Chung. When I returned my last ride – a well used but oh so smooth running black and yellow GIANT roadie which reminded me of the most likeable Transformer ‘Bumblebee’ – our dear bestower and co-rider Andy had the perfect entry level road bike on offer: a MERIDA ROAD RACE HFS 904-COM. I could score a good deal because it was a previous year model and could save some extra cash by changing the original wheels to Kais old set of Gipiemme rims.

 

Shortly after I took my precious new birthday gift home for some further adjustments the curious rookie rider in me wanted to check what I actually invested in. I tortured google and found out that MERIDA’s girly versions all carry the epithet “Juliet” to distinguish them from their brothers. Though I actually got the Romeo-version, somehow this info got stuck in my brain and when I took a first test ride around the airport later on that rainy day, I unconsciously started to call my new ride ‘Julie’.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and I took Julie out to the streets around Hong Kong Disney Land almost every day. Given the fact that I spent at least one hour a day in the saddle, this quirky behaviour became a habit soon. Partly because I absolutely treasure my bike and partly because I think that we are a good team speeding around and pushing up steep hills. You won’t believe how often I catch myself thinking: “We will make it up there, Julie” – true to the motto a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved :)

That’s it – plain and simple and maybe a bit loco, too.
How about you? Has your bike a name?

 

Weekly Training Summary Dec 3-9 / Training Zones

Just a short update as there’s a ton of work to be completed before Christmas. I have a feeling that most of you may be facing a similar time crunch at this time of the year ;)

After the previous week’s recovery, I had a strong start into the new week, doing a Functional Threshold Test on the static trainer on Tuesday. This test allows you to determine the highest physical intensity that you can sustain for approximately one hour, and also provides references for the different heart rate zones recommended for training. I wish I could be more instructional and provide you all the details and theory, but this will have to wait for another time. Here are the results:

With the aid of my newly established training zones, I spent another hour on the static trainer on Wednesday, with 3 x 5 minute efforts at the top of HR Zone 3 and 5 min easy spins in HR Zone 2 between each effort. The workout felt more structured and I pushed myself a bit harder than I usually would during an hour on the static trainer.

Thursday only saw a 30 min swim session as I got to the pool from work only around 8.30pm. Still better than no workout, which became Friday’s feature. No workout, and around eight big pints of beer on the sidelines of an icehockey match…

Unfortunately, the weekend rides turned out rather disappointing. It stated snowing heavily on Saturday and I had a hard time on my mountainbike, resulting to equal parts from a lingering hangover and from freezing cold feet from carrying the bike across snowy passages at the beginning of the trail. I abandoned the ride after around half an hour and retired to the bathtub.

Sunday’s ride was only marginally better. Overnight, the snow had been cleared off the roads with tons and tons of salt. The sun then came out to further dry the tarmac, which should have provided excellent riding conditions if it were not for said tons of road salt, which soon formed small piles on the shoulders of the road. I have never seen that much salt on a road before. You could even hear the road salt under the tires, as if driving on a layer of sand along a beach walkway. As a result, every passing car drew up a fat dust cloud which one could not help but inhale. Can’t be healthy… besides, temperatures were still a bit chilly. No wonder my buddies from the cycling team did not show up for the rides this weekend. So I called it a day after only around 60k… 

Here are the somewhat disappointing details of this ride:

Better luck this week. Stay tuned.

Sunday Ride and Weekly Summary

By Cycling Dad:

Today brought another ride with the team and once again I ended up completely fried on our living room carpet. We went on a big loop around Vienna with flat sections in the South and East and hilly sections in the North and West.

This past week’s statistics:

- Two hours on the static trainer (one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday)
- Two hours gym training with some other bike riders – running, sprints, flexibility, full-body interval training (Friday)
- 230k on the road (110 on Saturday, 120 on Sunday)

I am officially in pain… this was slightly too much at this time of the year and with my prior training.

Next week I will take it easy in preparation for the next four-week training cycle which will culminate in the Christmas feasts.

I love my Garmin Edge 500

By Cycling Dad:

I could not wait for the weekend to arrive so I could take my brand new Garmin Edge 500 out for a ride. Today’s tour was 110k and my verdict is that this is the best bike computer I have ever owned…  it surely is also by far the most expensive cycle computer I have ever owned.

So far the Garmin has cost me a bit more than EUR 2 per km and it is clear that I need to work on these figures to justify the purchase. I’ll leave the maths to you. But look at the wealth of data this contraption provides about today’s ride (click on ‘view details’ on the bottom right corner to see the full pony show):

This is what you get: at 48x69x22mm, the Edge 500 is not exactly the smallest bike computer on the market, but at 65g including mount, it sure is still not too heavy. In fact is snugs right in the space between your handlebars and fork top screw. Included in the kit is a heart rate chest strap, a wireless cadence and speed sensor as well as two base mounts so you can use the Edge 500 on a second bike. In fact you don’t need the sensor on the second bike as the 500 will compute the speed from the GPS data, but it is essential for the cadence and I understand from the manual that the sensor will increase the accuracy of the speed readings. Setting up the system is super easy and I was done within 10 minutes. Here’s a size reference:

The Garmin Edge 500 is charged and data synchronised via a USB cable that comes with the box. It has a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that lasts for around 15 to 18 hours on a full charge. Before going for the first ride, all you have to do is set up the custom screens you want to use. You can have up to five screens to cycle through and each screen can be loaded with up to eight data fields which can be configured freely to display a range of information about your ride. From the usual speed, distance, time, to more sophisticated heart rate, cadence to useful bonus features incline and alt difference there’s nothing left to wish for. All information is available as per actual, average and lap. You can even connect the Garmin Edge 500 to ANT+ enabled equipment such as static trainers and power measurement cranks and hubs, but I will leave that for next season. One key feature that I have not tested so far is the option to display a pre-set course by GPS coordinates. While the 500 will not display the surrounding environment on a neat map (you have to get the bigger brother Garmin Edge 800 for that), it is supposed to display the route in a breadcrumb trail and tell you when to make turns to find the way. I am curious to find out just how well that works, but it may become a key asset for the longer exploration rides with Alex in the summer.

Also included in the package is software to enable synchronisation of your Garmin with Garmin Connect, an online portal to store and share all your cycling tracks. This is cool because it gives you a complete overview of your training performance over time. Transferring data between Garmin Connect and the device is fast and very easy.

Both thumbs up for the Garmin Edge 500.

I ordered my Edge 500 at Chain Reaction Cycles, my trusted purveyor of cycling goods. CRC is also my recommendation for a wide range of other cycling equipment, so make sure to order your gear from them and please support me by clicking on the link below before making the purchase :D .

www.chainreactioncycles.com

Stay tuned for more product placement ;)

Haiku to Static Trainers:

By Cycling Dad:

I promised that I would share my thoughts on static trainers with you one of these days. Upon pondering for a while, I have made the decision to use the Japanese Haiku as a means of expression. You can fill the gaps with your own emotions towards spending time on static trainers, including spinning bikes…

Traditional (5-7-5):

Sweat dripping nimbly.
Tire tormented by steel.
Taking me nowhere.

Punk-rock version:

Sweat dripping nimbly.
Tire tormented by a roll of steel.
Squeezing my tire.
Squeezing my balls.
Taking me nowhere.
Will this be forever?

Thank you.

P.S. Despite all the nagging, I want to let the world know that I managed to do one hour on the trainer last Sunday after returning from Zurich and another one this morning. Trying to get used to the idea that I will have to spend a certain part of my winter training on this contraption.