Tag Archives: cycling

How to test ride a new road bike

I’m thinking of getting a new road bike after a pretty long layoff. That means I’ll soon be test riding a few bikes to find the “one”. Normally a test ride looks to answer a few questions about the attributes of a bike:

  • Handling
  • Vertical compliance
  • Fit
  • Stiffness, etc.

But now the video above has me thinking about a few different qualities:

  • Slideability
  • Half-pipe performance
  • Vertical drop limit
  • Ability to scale a castle wall

Ed. He only punctured one tire during the shoot for that video.


New Cervelo S5 aero road bike

Cervelo has just launched a new aero road bike (just in time for the Tour de France) and it looks pretty amazing. It’s called the Cervelo S5 (previous code name for the bike was FM70) and here are the stats:

  • Frame weight is only 990 grams. That’s very light for an aero road frame and about 80 grams lighter than a Cervelo S3.
  • Frameset is $3,800
  • A complete bike with Dura Ace Di2 is $9,000
  • A complete bike with Ultegra Di2 is $6,000!

$6,000 may sound like a lot of money for a bike (it is), but for this frame, with electronic shifting . . . it’s a pretty incredible package.


According to Cervelo’s wind tunnel testing, the S5 will save a rider 32 watts at ~25 mph over a conventional road bike. That’s a huge savings, which increase as your speed increases.  Grab a S5 with some Zipp 808 wheels and you have the ultimate wind-cheating-road-machine.  Let’s hope the Gamin-Cervelo Team can give the bike a good showing at the Tour – only 3 more days till TdF goodness!

When you don’t have enough space for a bike stand AND a desk

The "PIT IN" bike stand and desk

I’m thinking about getting one of these for my office. If I face it towards the window, then I can at least sit on my bike while I work and “pretend” that I’m really out riding.

Thanks Jeff & What’s a PDC?

I started this blog 3.5 years ago with few expectations. I was a writer in high school and college and thought this blog would be a good outlet to “exercise” my prose and also share my journey as a new cyclist. The blog has grown more popular than I ever imagined based on the success of posts like my SRAM Red review, VO2 max testing, comparing top speeds on a bicycle and the now infamous Little Known Facts About Jens Voigt.

The blog has actually gotten so big that I regularly have 10,000+ readers a month and often exceed 25,000 readers/month during the Tour de France. However, you might have noticed that the posts lately have been few and far between. I’ve been pretty busy lately with work, family, etc. I haven’t had a lot of inspiration to post either since I’ve only ridden 3 times in all of 2011 (3, 1-hour rides on the single speed cross bike to be more specific).   I took a shorter break this summer, but this time it’s been 2+ months, which is big for me considering that I rode 10,000+ miles in each of the last 2 years. So is this the beginning of a “Dear John” letter where I’m announcing that I won’t be blogging anymore?

No. Quite the contrary.

I received a great email this weekend from a regular reader named Jeff. His story is much like mine and other PDCs (Professional-Daddy-Cyclists) out there. Jeff caught the cycling bug a couple of years ago but is about to attempt a “comeback” after a layoff due to work, a new baby, etc. Reading my posts reminded Jeff that other PDCs have been through the same thing before and that it’s OK to not ride, because the “C” in PDC is last for a reason – despite being “professionals” . . . none of us get paid to ride a bike.

Jeff reminded me that the visitor numbers I see on the WordPress traffic dashboard aren’t just numbers, they’re people, likely PDCs, looking for answers to questions, inspiration or a laugh.

So I promise to post more often and share the journey of this PDC.

Thanks Jeff

Mechanical doping in cycling?

The accusation in the video above is just crazy enough to potentially be true. The technology exist to hide a small motor in a racing bike; in fact, it’s been around since 2007.  Check out the video above at about the 3:30 mark. It shows a Cancellara breakaway in both spring classics. Each time he “motors” (cheap-pun-opportunity) off the front  after moving his hand to the front of a brake lever, which is where the supposed location of a button that controls the hidden motor would be.

The video was  filmed after Italian newspapers reported that some riders in the Giro d’Italia were using bikes fitted with electric motors and then switching to unpowered bikes before stage finishes to avoid detection.

However, if you remember the ride above (who can forget), Fabian has always had a HUGE motor (no pun intended this time) and he did this in 2007 (theoretically before the in bike motor could have been hidden as well). Also, this blog has an amazing analysis of Fabian’s attack at Roubaix that proves it is plausible.

Kevin D. is always joking on our hard rides that someone needs to invent a motor good for a 200 watt boost. Someone has . . . and maybe someone has used it at the highest level?

New bike bling – Rotor Q-Rings, new bar tap & saddle

I decided to give the Kredo a mini-makeover courtesy of the good folks at Fort Worth Cycling.

  • Switched from silver to white Fizik bar tape
  • New white and black Arionne saddle  (had my old Arionne for 3 years)
  • Put on a set of Rotor Q-Rings (elliptical chain rings).

I’m loving how the white tape and saddle changes the personality of the bike ever-so-slightly (white is the new black). But the big change here are the Rotor Q-Rings.

I’ve been considering a set of Q-Rings for about 2 years, but only recently decided to take the plunge after learning a couple ThinkCash Racing teammates were using them with some success. I went for the “aero” rings in 53/39 which are black and quite frankly, look pretty badass. The science behind Q-Rings is simple – round rings force you to pedal at the same speed through the entire stroke. As a results, you spend just as much time in the dead zone (at 12 and 6 o’clock) as you do putting on the power zone (between 2 o’clock and 5 o’clock). Q-Rings are shaped so the chain ring is effectively smaller as you enter that dead zone (equivalent to 50 or 51 teeth) . It smoothly accelerates your feet through the dead zone and gets you back on the power sooner (where you push the equivalent of 56 teeth).

I’ve only done one easy ride on the Q-Rings, but they pedal just like round chain rings (there is no choppiness). I did notice that I was pedaling at a slightly higher cadence then normal, but too early to tell if that is the result of the rings. There have been several studies of the Q-Rings showing power improvements of ~5% at threshold and above. Considering how fast our company Tuesday Night rides are getting, I’ll take all the help I can get. I plan on doing some testing of my own in the next week or two, so I’ll let you know what I see.

Long road ahead . . .

Probably noticed I haven’t been posting much lately. Well, I haven’t been riding or racing much either. I’ve basically been off the bike for the last month due to:

  • Work travel
  • Snow/weather (very unusual winter for Fort Worth)
  • Sickness (got a crazy sinus infection I couldn’t shake)

Been back on the trainer this week and it’s been pretty rough. Very depressing to lose lots of hard-earned-fitness, but . . . c’est la vie. I’ve got some more work and personal travel coming up, plus some family commitments, so looks like I’ll miss a couple of races I was really looking forward to doing – Fort Davis, Mineral Wells Stage Race, etc. 

The new plan?

  • Hit it again, hard.
  • Get ready for the sufferfest that is going to be the ThinkCash company rides on Tuesday nights.
  • Target the State TT championships, defend my Texas Time Trial Championship and do the State Championship road race and any other new races that pop-up on the calendar and look interesting.

Should also have some interesting stuff soon to report on my ALCAT test results and coming up with my ultimate-athletic-performance-diet-plan. Might also do another threshold test soon to see just how much power I lost on my month off.

PowerCranks Update

So here is an update on my PowerCranks review. How have the PowerCranks helped so far?

Garage Training

Riding in the garage is no fun in the winter; however, lack of daylight, business travel, playtime with the kiddos and freezing temperatures require it. I’ve been more dedicated to riding in the dungeon (garage) this winter than ever before, largely due to the PowerCranks. I ride early in the morning (5:30 a.m.) when motivation and energy are often low. Busting out a workout of 5 minute VO2 max intervals when you don’t have much energy is tough; however, I find it much less difficult to throw my spandex-covered-legs over the PowerCranks bike early in the morning. I keep the ride interesting by mixing in one-legged pedaling (which is much easier to do on the PowerCranks since I can keep both feet clipped in), high cadence work (particularly difficult on PowerCranks) and “dolphin pedaling” drills (as barely visible in the iPhone video captured above). Side Note: Doing the dolphin pedal past other riders on the road is pretty fun too – you get lots of double-takes.

Muscular Endurance

In the past I would normally find that the aching in my leg muscles would often make completing intervals difficult (much more so than running out of breath). After more than a month on the PowerCranks, I find that my legs are doing better in hard and or long intervals. Might be the placebo effect, but it’s almost as if my legs are more efficient now.

Raw Power

I’ll do another threshold test in about a month, but I’m holding wattage levels in intervals that I’ve never done before.

A couple weeks ago I did a pretty brutal hill repeat workout – 36 repeats up a 1/2 mile hill (between 4%-6% grade). I consistently managed 325 watts to 350 watts on every repeat (at a weight of ~148 pounds). This is a hill I regularly climb (it’s the hill that I take up to the ThinkCash offices) and I’ve never managed to keep up those levels for anywhere near 36 repeats.

So far . . . so good

PowerCranks Review: Can they improve my cycling?

A couple weeks ago I ordered an early Christmas present – some PowerCranks.  PowerCranks are independent bicycle cranks. This means one leg cannot help the other and in order to pedal the bike you must push all the way through the pedal stroke – no relaxing on the back stroke. You’re forced to raise the pedal using your hip flexor and hamstring muscles,  ensuring that your leg muscles will become balanced. Put simply, after using PowerCranks you are supposed to have a more efficient/powerful pedal stroke (since your leg pushing down is no longer fighting the “deadweight” of the opposing leg).  You can read some scientific studies of the effect of PowerCranks on training here.

I put the PowerCranks on my cyclocross bike and gave them a whirl on the trainer. The first 10 minutes on the PCs were some of the hardest I have ever spent on the bike. I fought through the pain and finally found a “rhythm” after 15 minutes and managed to ride the PowerCranks for 30 minutes on the initial try. My next four PowerCrank workouts looked like this:

  • Workout 2 – 45 minutes
  • Workout 3 – 60 minutes
  • Workout 4 – 75 minutes
  • Workout 5 – 90 minutes

I’ve been very careful to slowly increase my time on the PCs and can’t imagine riding them for more than 2 hours (inside or out) because they are pretty painful on the nether regions. 100% of your weight is on your bottom (instead of your legs supporting some of your weight), so I would recommend slapping on some DZ Nuts or other chamois creme when using the cranks.

So what do PowerCranks feel like? It’s almost like doing one-legged-pedaling drills, but with both legs at the same time. I also like doing the “dolphin pedal” where you pedal with both feet, in unison. This one really works the core and forces a smooth pedal stroke.

I’m about to do a field test on my PowerTap to determine my threshold power before training with PowerCranks, then I’ll do another test each month to monitor the progress. My plan right now is to ride the PCs 3 times per week for 90 minutes per workout. Maybe in a couple weeks I’ll be brave enough to ride them outside.

The Post Ride Chat

If you’re a cyclist, this video will make you laugh so hard that you spit out your Cytomax (or choke on your ClifBar).

“Wow, that’s a lot of watts!”