The Longest Ride…. So far!


Yesterday was a beautiful day, down here in the Houston Area!

I was able to get together was a local Triathlon Group- I’ve ridden with them several times and I really put a lot of my improvement to their credit.

I knew this was going to be a 40+ mile ride. So I prepared by ensuring great nutrition on my rest day(Friday) and the morning of the ride.

I got all of my gear set up the night before. Made sure all of my Gels and Gu’s were in my trusty day trip backpack(it was a cool little birthday gift from Backwoods last year- My wife and I use them all the time haha). Went through and did full mechanical checks on everything( more about this in a little bit). I also got my kit ready, however it had apparently not been washed since my Thursday ride.So I tossed it in the washer Friday night, just before bed. I figured I would try something new, since I was going to be getting up so early, and put it in the dryer on “fluff”. Well this turned out to be a bad idea. Cause at 6:00 A.M. I was pulling on wet and cold kit and hating life for a few minutes. In the end, I was mostly dry before heading out the door and I was dry before the ride started, so no biggie.

With a Roll Time of 7:00 A.M. from my Buddy’s house, I got up at 5:50. Immediately went and started a small coffee and some oatmeal.  Got dressed( with a few curses and and shivers) and got my tires pumped(15 minute drive to the meet up so figured why not air em up in the comfort of my warm home and wet kit?) and then settled down a bit to eat my oatmeal and drink my coffee.

While I was eating, I also got in a few stretches to help warm me up a bit(some injuries have to be babied everyday- and if you treat them right, they never bug you…. mostly).

I took off around 6:35 AM and got to my Buddy’s house right at 7. It was a bit chilly so I opted to wear arm and leg warmers and put a light running jacket on as well. I also had my thermal skull cap. I just used finger-less gloves, as I never “feel” like my hands get that cold as long as I have some blood pumping(and if that stops I have other worries).

I situated my gear with opened gels/gu’s in my right jersey pocket, an extra heed mix packet in my center pocket, and more gels and gu’s in my left pocket, along with my knife 🙂 I open them and have them positioned so I don’t need to fumble around trying to get a gel out while riding. It has worked so far!

I had my water in one bottle and mixed Prepetuem into the other. I had the Heed packet, just in case I finished the Perpetuem and felt I needed more electrolytes.

For my Nutrition Cycle during the ride, I am continuing to use the 10(ten) minute timer method. So after the first ten minutes, I pop a Gel and 2 squirts of water. Second 10(ten) minutes I take 2 squirts of whatever I have mixed(if I am only carrying water I skip the gel on the second cycle). Then I just rinse and repeat this. So basically every 20 minutes I am getting a bit of calories, protein, carb’s, and electrolytes. So far this is working well for me- as we will talk about in a minute. haha.

So we take off from my Buddy’s house and get to the park that the group is meeting up at and we wait as more peeps arrive. On our way we actually pick up another one of the riders in the group. It kind of worked out like you would see in a movie- as the group moves along another one just drops right into place- it was pretty funny and cool too.

Once everyone arrived, we were 9 riders deep. Nice little crowd!

At around 7:45 we head out! The first 15 miles of the route we took I have done before. We stopped at another local park at the 13 mile marker and took a break. This was in a park. This part of the route would not be repeated, as it is a ride in, turn around and ride out portion of it. We all stretched our legs and made sure everything was riding okay. At this point, I took off my light jacket and rolled it up and put it in my center jersey pocket. It is a running jacket, so it packs pretty small, but not as small or convenient as a cycling jacket. There may be one of those will be in my future :).

Everything else was feeling and working fine. I was feeling great. The pace was low enough I was having a good conversation with a couple of the other riders. We took off again after a few minutes and continued our journey.

Just before the 15 mile mark, one of the riders peeled off and turned around- that is what he had planned on doing as he didn’t have the time to do the full ride that day.

So now we are down to 8 :). As the morning progressed, the sun came out and the temperature warmed just enough to be nice and toasty when we stopped, but the air felt great while we were moving.

Since it was such a beautiful day, we saw several other individual riders and groups of riders, getting their own miles in for the day. Good Times!

The roads were busy at times, but we were very visible, as we made sure to keep closely together for the first half of the ride. We also managed to hit every single red light possible. I am pretty sure we hit a couple that weren’t even there(least that is what it felt like haha).

 

At about the 28 mile mark, we had another rider turn around. Again this was planned and we were prepared to lose another one, haha. We made our turn around stop point at the Starbucks on the Kemah Boardwalk. This was about 30 miles in (per my Garmin- I had an extra 2 miles on the rest of the group since I had left from my Buddy’s house). We did quick checks and had a little cup of coffee. A few head breaks and some water bottle refilling and we were good to go. We did chill for a bit and sat and talked. The day was so nice, we couldn’t wait to get back on the road.

We finished up our rest stop, put our gear back together and got out of there!

The ride back was a bit more difficult, as we had a headwind most of the way. What had come from a 18-19 mph ride turned into a 16-17 mph ride fast. We ended up separating into two groups, one at the 17+ mph range(I kept up!!) and one at the 13-14 mph range. The front group did stop often to let the slower group catch up, that way we were never separated by more than a few minutes.

We made it to the 39 mile mark and took our next break! I was still feeling good. This is now 2 miles further than my longest ride! Although I could feel fatigue starting to set in. I was making sure to stick to my nutrition plan, even if it felt like extra effort to drink or eat. This worked pretty good all the way until I couldn’t keep pace with the faster riders. I was already back to a portion of the route I have done before, so I was comfortable riding on. I ended up not making a right turn though. And looped through a neighborhood- which was cool cause it added more miles to the tally!

At this point I was noticing that My chain didn’t like the middle of my rear cassette when trying to shift up, I would have to “click” it twice and it would “jump up” an extra gear. Woot, I have finally ridden my bike enough to need a service!! Another milestone down! I would also like to attribute my failure to make the turn to paying attention to the mechanical issue- newb mistakes 🙂

After contacting my Buddy and being rescued, lol, we got back on course and made back to his house safely. All in all it was a great day and truly awesome ride.

Total Mileage: 53.46 MILES!! This beat my longest ride to date by over 16 Miles!

Although I did have to slow down a bit near the end, I never bonked! This is showing me that my nutrition plan worked pretty well! It also showed me a very good level of fatigue. So I know I have the strength and my endurance is really picking up. I’m so proud and excited to see and feel these gains in my abilities. So often you improve but don’t see it from your personal perspective. This was a great experience and I can’t wait for my next long ride! But that will probably wait for at least next weekend haha.

So for the day we had zero flats. Zero Falls(although I made a solid attempt to fall at the meet up location- but we won’t count that). Zero other mishaps. Excepting my taking a longer route hehe.

The sun was shining. We had great people in the group. We couldn’t of asked for a better ride!

I linked it below if you guys want to take a look!

Thanks for reading everyone! Leave me any comments or questions!

Garmin Connect.

 

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Wahoo RFLKT Bluetooth Bike Computer


So I recently got a Wahoo RFLKT Bike Computer. This package came with a Cadence Sensor as well.(Which was a cool deal- although it seems to be a standard selling package across brands).

First up: The PC.

RFLKT

Well the PC itself is nice and small- so for the peeps looking for something with a small foot print- it is nice and small lol.

The PC itself connects to your phone, via Bluetooth. Energy Drain really doesn’t seem to be much of an issue- compared to using the phone like crazy(like playing games and watching videos on it). I have gone on two hour plus rides and only used about 13%-20% battery. But everything was turned off except the Wahoo App(we will talk about that in a minute) and a Charity Miles App(look it up, it’s pretty neat and free too haha). This could be an issue for longer rides or in warmer weather. I will give more information later in the season, during longer rides and higher temps.

he Unit uses a regular old CR2450 Battery. Web Site lists battery life of about 12 months- I can’t find reason to complain about that. We will see how long term usage and real world conditions apply.

The unit has four buttons on the body and three different mounting options. You can do a bar mount, a stem mount, or a quarter turn mount. I played with both the bar mount and the stem mounts. The bar mount is plastic, but seems very sturdy. I moved to the stem mount, due to what all I currently have on my bars(I will probably clean them up later on as I am cluttering them up). I did not play with the quarter turn mount at all, so I can’t speak to it directly. However, both of the other mounts are more than effective, I am sure the quarter turn would be as well.

There is also a back light on the unit. But I haven’t really used it all. I can see that it would be useful in low and no light situations, to see your data metrics.

The stem mount is held on via a rubber band(supplied in the box) or zip ties(which are also supplied). I have been using the band and it has not budged at all- unless I really push it from one side(like when you hit a button). I usually hit a button and stabilize the opposite side with my other fingers, doing this results in no movement of the unit and is no inconvenience.

The only “rub” I had with the unit were moving it from mounting option to mounting option. It comes with a tool to remove the unit from the different mounts and I can really only say it takes finesse to get it to release from them. I brought this up to Wahoo support, and apparently the unit I got had the “old style” mounts. They promptly sent me the “new” ones, which are about 100 times easier to move the unit from mount to mount, should that ever be a concern. With a little luck yours will have the new mounts haha.

Wahoo RFLKT Bike PC- Mounted

Next is the Cadence Sensor.

Cadence Sensor1

The Cadence Sensor is pretty simple. It is also Bluetooth and it uses a CR 2032 Battery. Although I kind of “wish” they both used the same battery, it really isn’t that big of a deal. They are cheap enough and easy to change out.

It comes with a few mounting options as well. You can Mount it to your bike using a supplied Silicon Cover to put the Sensor in and then Zip Tie(supplied) to your off-side crank. It can also be mounted using Double sided 3M Tape(that also comes with it). There is even the option to mount it to a “shoe pod” and strap it to your shoe for use in riding multiple bikes(although not at the same time hehe) as well as measuring cadence for running- which is a cool aside. I used the silicone jacket and zip tie method. It hasn’t moved at all and is very solidly in place.

Cadence Sensor

Forgive the dust please.

Now, the Wahoo App:

The App(free download) gives you total customization over what the RFLKT Unit shows. You can basically build it anyway you want it, with any data at all showing. You can also make multiple screens(I have only configured a few, but I think you can make up to twelve or more). You can customize the Button Functions as well. So you can control things like start/stop, play music, lap, or next page.

The app also lets you do the normal things, such as set alarms/notifications for HR Zones(using a HR Monitor of course) or giving verbal queues based on whatever data you want- time, distance, speed, pace, etc.

To connect everything up, you just open the Wahoo App on your phone, then hit any button on the RFLKT and it will show up for connection so you can pair them up.

With the Cadence Sensor, you just need to spin the cranks, a blue light with flash every few seconds(shown in the pic above- yeah that took awhile to get a pic of the light on… You’re welcome) at this point the Cadence Sensor is on. It will also show up for connection to your phone.

After initial pairing- both devices connect as soon as you “start” them up, with the App open. No further “manual” connection will be needed.

So far I have had zero disconnection or data drop out issues using the Bluetooth connections. I have also paired a very cheap Heart Rate Monitor (Big Box Store clearance sales rack kind) and have had no issues with connection or data accuracy(although I really don’t try to count my pulse when it is up in the 170’s+).

The App uses your Phone’s GPS to track your route. It has been very accurate so far and matches Google Maps for distances. However, I would think that if I am in an area with poor signal that accuracy would diminish.

The App also lets you send the data to almost any data resource you want- Strava, Garmin Connect, MapMyWhichEverOneYouUse, and more.

I really have to say I am pleased with the little PC, especially for being cheaper than many other Bike PC’s. That is in part, since it uses your phone for recording and such, but the components are quality and seem like they will last a good long time- or until I can get the wife to cave on a shiny 920XT.

I do look forward to putting more miles on my bike, knowing that I have the data I want ready and visible when I want it. I would totally recommend one of these for anyone looking for an inexpensive Bike PC.

Thanks for reading and leave any comments or questions below!

My Bike- Name: The Bike


My First Bike
My First Bike

Side View

Well, I have one Bike…. For now. It is a 54 CM Felt Z7. So far I have logged 206 Miles on it. These have been very enjoyable- comfort wise.

It is entirely stock. The bike shop that I purchased it from did a basic Fit for me and that has seemed more than adequate so far. I plan on hitting about 500+ miles then getting a professional fit. As it is, i have no joint or tendon soreness after rides- although my longest ride has been 29 miles so far.

The Frame is from the “Endurance” class Road Bikes from Felt.

It has a very comfortable saddle to bar drop that I have found is comfortable for at least 2 1/2 hours(my longest ride haha).

It features Felt’s Performance CF Frame with mostly internal routing(both top and bottom tubes). The Frame really makes a comfortable ride for me. I can feel it flex going over bumps and rough roads, which reduces the strain on me while riding. Which is always a good thing.

It has Tubeless ready wheels out of the box, however I do not plan on going tubeless anytime soon. It also has “All Weather” tires from felt- which have held good traction over the few rides I have had on damp or wet roads.

The Stock saddle seems to fit me well. However, I do notice a tendency to slide forward a bit and need to readjust myself to get my sit bones back on the saddle properly. I do not yet know if this is a sizing issue, or maybe an angle or something else that may need to be adjusted. That being said, I don’t/haven’t noticed any major soreness or other issues I have read that people have had with saddles.

It comes with a pretty complete Sora Drive Train. These are the “newer” version of Sora, so the Shifters are STI(which I like, so I will be “ready” for upgrades without relearning my shifting positions and patterns later on). It has a 9 Gear cassette on the wheel, and a compact crank set. So far this has served me well. I feel that this set is smooth and responsive. I know others may disagree, based on performance specs or past experience with the same series of components, but they just feel good to me.

Past this, the Bike is light. feels very agile and able to do anything I will want it to do, at least for now. I am truly enjoying this bike, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who fits the geometry.

I’ll post more about the bike as I put on the miles, as well as updates on any modifications or upgrades as they come.

The Dreaded “First Flat”


So while on a ride yesterday- had my first flat. This was also my first completely solo ride.

Now to say I was “prepared” for a flat would be a lie. I had not practiced changing a Tube, playing with the tools, or even really looking into doing any of this at all.

However, I was prepared, by ensuring(with the use of a friend who is a very very experienced rider) that I HAD all of the tools and materials I would need when the “Day of the First Flat” would come.

Although I only took pics of the Flat and the Fixed Tire. I would like to go through and talk about the experience.

There I was, it felt like I must have been going like 50 MPH on a straight away!!(in the real world that equals about 15-17 MPH sorries). When the road suddenly got a lot more rough than just seconds before. I pretty much knew something was wrong- but what could it be? I immediately stopped pedaling and started to slowly apply both brakes. While slowing, I discounted anything falling off, completely broken, or a catastrophic failure- I mean, I didn’t do a flip, skid to a halt and I was still upright right? So it can’t be too bad…..

As I slowed, I picked a good line in front of me that gave me a few seconds of “I can look around” time. I looked down and beheld a front tire that was bowing under the rim. Woot!! Figured out what was wrong! A flat Front Tire!….. Not what the hell am I gonna do! Oh that’s right, I have a tool bag under the saddle.

So I got off, moved far onto the side of the road- nice little grassy area to work in, it was a great temporary office. Took off the wheel and just started to inspect it. “Something” had caused the flat, so I figured the best route would be to find That, before doing anything else. I identified a staple sticking out of the side of the rubber. Now I am no expert, but I am pretty sure I haven’t seen this staple installed there before. So I pulled it out(the tube btw, is pretty much completely empty. at this point).

Now I get to use tools! I pulled out the Tire Levers to get the tire off the wheel, which was pretty simple- although I am totally glad I had two levers, that made it much easier to work around the rim. Now, I know you don’t “have to”, but I took it all the way off(paying attention to the directional arrow so I could re install it correctly(50/50 right?). I then inspected the area the staple was in and the rest of the inside and outside of it to ensure it was free of FOD. I then removed the old tube and folded it up as small as possible. Pulled out a new tube and a Pop Bottle(tis what I call the CO2 cartridges) and the valve to screw onto it. Put on the new tube, which was easier than expected. And now the fun part. Getting the damn tire back on and making sure not to crimp or overlap the tube at all(it seemed logical that filling up a tube with it not “fully inside the tire” could lead to issues. That part was fun. I ended up putting just a bit of air in the tube, and that helped out immensely. This part probably took 5 minutes by itself haha.

Now I find where my tools are wanting. I don’t have a gauge. So I used my hand as a gauge :). I took the partially inflated tire to the back of the bike and felt the back tire. Then just kept putting in air until they felt “about the same”. It worked pretty darn good too. When I got home I put my track pump on it and I was at like 118 psi- which is just 2 psi below what I manually inflate them- good times.

I rolled up the old tube, and stuck it in my saddle bag. Put the pop bottle in my jersey pocket. The valve and levers back in the saddle bag. And put the Wheel back on the bike. Everything is now cleaned up and the bike is all back together.

Woot first flat fixed and ready to go! Good times.

I plan on continuing with the same tool combo’s and materials. However, I want to find and add a small hand pump with a gauge on it. So I can use the pop bottle for the convenience of putting a lot of volume in fast, and then fine tune the pressure with the hand pump. Is this a normal practice? Or even advisable? I ask, because I only had about 5 miles left of the ride. But, were I out on a 50 Mile + ride, I don’t know if I would be very comfortable on an “Unknown” Tube Pressure. I am sure one can be found that will easily fit in a jersey pocket- I don’t think I would really want it on the frame, no real reason why, but it just does not appeal to me right now.

And this concludes the first flat for New Guy Cycling lol. I am sure there are many to come. I am just glad and very thankful I had what I needed to handle it without to much issue.

Let me know what ya think!

Cause: Staple
Cause: Staple
Fixed it!
Fixed it!

Another Ride on the Books!


Was able to sneak out and put in another ride yesterday afternoon. I just rode, no real fitness goals or anything. I did maintain a high HR the entire time and I felt fine. Set a pretty good pace and just pushed it out.

Also got to experience my First Flat!! Woot woot. Pics below. I picked up a staple in my front tire, in the side wall. pretty simple to pull out, and made sure there was nothing left on the inside. Since this was in the side wall of the tire, does that mean I under-inflate my tires? I usually fill them to about 120 psi(recommended by the bike shop guys). Just wondering about every one else’s experiences with that.

This was the first time I have changed a tube. was not too hard at all. When I got the bike I made sure that I picked up all the tools I would need/would make the job easier, for changing a flat. All in all, it took about 10-15 minutes- adding in a couple of minutes to take some pics and shoot some text messages haha.

This was also my first solo ride. So, it figures I would get a flat all by myself lol.

Other than that, the ride was great. Awesome weather. Traffic wasn’t bad. No one seemed to intentionally test how hard it is to hit someone on two wheels.

It was going to be a 25 mile ride- that turned into a 23 mile ride due to the flat. I try to keep most of my rides to where I only 5-10 miles from the house at any one time. So I usually make crosses with the roads, by just going up it and turning around after a few miles.

Afterwards, I felt great. Had a recovery drink( I like After Glow and sometimes Recoverite), some small and easy to digest food, and water to help gain back what I had lost.

More to come as we conquer the road!

cause: Staple
cause: Staple
Used a pop bottle to fill it up.
Used a pop bottle to fill it up.

Holy Crap- and Here Goes Nothing!


Well,

This is the beginning of what I hope will be a great adventure!

I recently decided to get a Bicycle! This is after almost 16 years of not even owning a bicycle. A Friend at work asked if I would be interested in doing a Triathlon with him(don’t freak out too much, its only an Olympic Distance). I agreed. Went home and got registered, then sat back and relaxed. It was about ten minutes later that I looked at my Wife after I realized “… Umm, I don’t even have a Bike to Ride in this thing!!”. Her response? “Duh, you just figure that out?”(yep always the woman to make you feel good about yourself haha).

So there I am, now researching bicycle types and brands and accessories and needs and wants. I get to talking with a local Running buddy of mine, and he goes “Well, if you are getting a Bike, why not ride in the MS150 with us?”(the “US” being a group of people in Team Red White and Blue). Since I obviously think every word through before saying anything…. I naturally said “Yes, that’s sounds awesome!”. It was about five minutes later he told me that the 150 stand for One Hundred and Fifty Miles!

Another few weeks go by, I visit multiple Bike shops. test Ride every two wheeled contraption that will fit me(or not in some cases) and end up with a Felt Z7 Road Bike. So far I have put just under 200 Miles on it, and loving it! The open space, the roads and scenery, the amazing Cycling Community. They all seem like an extension of home to me.

(spoiler alert- Trekkies Beware!) These will be the Adventures of New Guy Cycling. Our Mission: To explore new roads and ride in groups never ridden before.

We will Learn. We Will Fall. And We Will get up and Ride Again!!