Tuesday, June 19, 2012

PR's and Demo Days

I went out for my lunch ride feeling a little peaked (that's ˈpē-kid, not pēkt) from the weekend's efforts. I debated whether to go for any intensity at all or wait another day. At nearly 50, I'm finding it takes longer to recover from punishing rides. And how does one really know how fresh you should be for interval work? You can't spend five days a week recovering. You'd never build any fitness that way. So there should be some level of residual tiredness when going out for intensity work. But how tired is too tired?

Anyway, I hadn't been out to Uncanoonuc in a while, so I headed over at an easyish tempo pace. Legs came around after a while. When I approached Summit Rd, I ditched the water bottle (every 2 seconds counts!) and headed right into the steep, 500ft climb.

I felt awful but gave it my best shot anyway. I have my power meter set up to show average lap power. It ramps up to 480W starting out, then slowly drops. Question was, how high would it be upon summitting? My recent best was 403W, which netted me just over 6 minutes for the climb. I'm a couple pounds lighter now (<158 lbs this morning), so if I could match that power, I'd at least be faster than 6 minutes. My PR was 5:40 from 2008. I've been measuring my performance on Uncanoonuc for over 10 years now.

As I approached the summit, I struggled to keep average power above 420W. I clearly was going to have my best time in a while. I did not have my GPS set up to show lap time, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see 5:38 when I hit the lap button. A PR by 2 seconds! I was on the same bike as in 2008, set up a little differently (water bottle in 2008 but no power tap), so a very apples to apples comparison. That eases concerns over abysmal performance on Ascutney this weekend.

Wish running would go as well. Not sure when I'll be able to get back into it. My short exploratory run on Monday produced some mild discomfort, so I shut it down. May try again on Thursday. Another runner/rider had similar problems and was diagnosed with plantaris tendonitis. An interesting muscle/tendon that some sources say 7% of humans don't even have. Read more about it here.

This past Sunday, Pivot Cyles with Likin Bikin was at Bear Brook State Park for a demo day. This was perfect. I got in a superb training ride in VT the day before, so I could accomplish two tasks at BB on Sunday: Pick up my new climbing wheelset from Likin Bikin, and try out some of the latest full suspension MTBs on my favorite local trails.

There are only a couple New England dealers for Rolf Prima wheels. I didn't want to go south of the border and pay big sales tax. Next closest was Likin Bikin in the lakes region. I've been a long time user of Rolf wheels, going way back to 1999 when I bought a bike with Dolomite disk wheels. User experience is mixed with Rolf wheels, but I've had exceptionally good luck with them. One road set has many 10's of thousands of miles on them, abusive miles, and have never been trued. Rim sidewalls are about gone though. I ordered the Elan's. They came in a little heavier than advertised, just over 1400g. But they are definitely the lightest wheelset I've bought. They will be used primarily for hillclimb events.

The first bike I domo'd was a Mach 5.7 Carbon. The Pivot Cycles mechanic dialed in the suspension for my weight, then I was off. The Shimano brakes are uber punchy, way more so than the Hayes I ride. Neither good nor bad. Just different. I do not like 2x10 drivetrains either. They neither gear low nor high enough for the kinds of riding I do. I took the 5.7 on one of the most technical trails there, Carr Ridge. Yeah, now I know why DaveP is so much faster than me on this trail with his Yeti 575. I would still suck if I had this bike, but suck a little less. I found myself taking lines I would not normally take. Nearly 6" front and rear travel makes my Racer-X dualie feel like a hardtail. The slack head angle did make climbing more challenging, and without the suspension locked out, there was good deal of wallowing when climbing out of the saddle. I did notice some kick-back into the pedals going over bumps. The suspension is not as independent as my Racer-X FSR suspension. Maybe this comes with big travel bikes.

After waiting a long time for my size bike to come back in from a demo ride, I jumped on a Mach 429. This was an alloy steed. Rumor is a carbon version will be coming out later this year. The 429 was a very different ride. No wallow, and it climbed exceptionally well. I went up Bear Hill from the south. The handling did not seem to be as quirky as my Superfly 29er. I think Gary Fisher over-compensated the fork trail geometry spec. The 429 felt very much like a hybrid between my 4" travel Racer-X and my Superfly hardtail. Based on the type of riding I do most, I would probably go for the big wheels and small travel rather than small wheels and big travel. I've always been skeptical of DW and VPP designs, but Pivot seems to have a pretty solid execution of the DW Link design. I'm looking to add to the quiver in the next 12 months. Hard to say right now if I'll stay with a Specialized FSR suspension or jump over to one of the other designs.


Unknown said...

Rented the Mach 429 in Sedona this winter for a week. Great bike. Handled singletrack well, but was also a lot of fun riding up and bombing down Schnebly...

Cary said...

Pretty stoked on my EPIC 29er from Specialized. Worth a test ride.