Sunday, August 22, 2010

Guru Redux

It's been 5 years since I built and started racing my current race bike. It was a rebuilt and personalized circa 2002 Cervelo One. So when Tim offered to let me build up his Guru Crono since he had moved on to a sweet Scott Plasma, I leapt at the chance. I've been racing bikes since 1985. The first was my only complete bike, a steel Lotus. It was fuscia. Since that bike I have ridden only aluminum. Aluminum bikes have a lot of things going for them, but one of those things is NOT comfort. If your position, tire pressure, etc... is not spot on they can be brutal.

The Guru Crono is an all carbon bike, so for that reason alone I was curious to ride the finished product. However, making this project more interesting, I was determined to use only things found in my cellar to rebuild it. This first photo shows what I was starting with.

The main thing missing was a fork. Well if you've been in my cellar (and you probably haven't because that's just not allowed), you'll know it's a bicycle graveyard down there. I had a couple of options for a fork, but selected a fairly vintage Giant Aero fork. I've always liked it. It has a bit of lateral flex to it, but that's not really an issue for me. Next the components were all pulled straight from the Cervelo. The one acquisition for this build was the Vision aero base bar and extensions. I got them for $80 and I like their profile. My current bars are just a little "busy".

The ride: The second I started rolling I noticed one thing instantly; this bike handles much more quickly. Whether it was just the fork or a combination of the fork and frame geometry, this handled more like my road bike. However it was not squirrely. It was very stable on straight lines and I never felt like I was in danger of a digger...well after the first lap I never felt in danger! I'll admit feeling more than a little apprehensive and thus tense for the first 20 or 30 minutes. I did need to stop about 15 seconds after rolling out to adjust the front brakes. The pads were way off. The shakedown ride was on the trainer. You don't use brakes on the trainer...whoops! After that everything stayed put.

While my lap times were not noticeably different than previous rides (don't underestimate the benefit of being familiar with a bike) there were two key areas where I felt a difference. The first was on the false flat I hit 21 minutes into each loop. The bottom bracket area of this bike is stiff. The second I put pressure on the bike moved. I was noticeably faster going through this stretch. The front end of the bike is also lower than the Cervelo and this was evident on Sachuest Beach Rd. There was wind today and I felt like I could "duck" under the wind a bit. Not everything was perfect. I missed on the saddle position and my quads blew up around mile 50. Seated climbing on steeps was difficult (I'm sure the lay off didn't help here). I've already fixed this. Now I just need to stop peeing fire (kidding...that's already stopped)! A few other things needed to be tweaked, but nothing major. Oh yes, the other pleasant surprise was how much better the shifting was than the Cervelo.

Overall a good ride. Things showed promise. A number of the issues from the morning might well be tied to the 2 weeks which have passed since my last road ride. I'm seriously considering racing a sprint tri on September 4th to see how the bike races before I hit Pumpkinman on September 12th.

Today's ride

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I have a laptop and a blog and I'm not afraid to use them! (or Why you should sponsor me.)

I'm fairly analytical in nature. Hell, it's what I do for a living. So when I sit here and assess my marketability, the "why" a company should sponsor me, I come up with nothing...almost. It's really a matter of perspective. I'm not Lebron (thank god!). More to the point, I'm not Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack, Andy Potts, hell I'm not a triathlete of any note whatsoever! I'm not a professional athlete at all. There is nothing significantly different between me and the multitude of age group athletes who are out there in the wee hours of the morning, or night, in the rain, in the snow, in all sorts of crap hammering out hours and miles to be 5 minutes faster at the end of 10 hours next year. I have a full time job at a bank. I have a wife and two children. I have a modest house with a mortgage. I'm not special in any demonstrable fashion. And that...that is the key. There is nothing different. I'm representative of the vast demographic which inexplicably (to those who don't understand) spend hours, and yes dollars, on sport. Perhaps my advantage over many is simply that I found my focus on sport a bit earlier than some and have a bit of a head start. Oh, and I can write a bit too.

Racing is expensive, but frankly can be budgeted fairly easily. Entry fee, travel, room, food for x number of nights...no big deal. The price clearly limits the amount of destination races, but really there are other limiters that play a bigger role. For me the bigger issue comes in the form of unplanned expenses, and these occur in training as much if not more than racing. Good wheels, power meters, heart rate monitors, tires, tubes, chains, shorts, shoes, shirts, socks, food (oh god the cost of food), water bottles...this stuff adds up. As my sponsor I'd be looking for you to help me get through the training so I can make it to the races. This year alone I had 3 pairs of $80 shorts blow out seams (I'm huge...okay no I'm not!). Stuff like clothing, shoes, parts, "hydration systems", if you got it to share I'll proudly display it in training and racing. No worries about look'n all NASCAR here!

So what's in it for you? Well I don't expect something for nothing. Send me stuff and I'll use it and write an honest review about it. If I like it I'll pimp your goods to all my friends and even some people I don't like! If it's junk I'll adhere to my personal standard that I will not just denounce an item. Rather I will provide constructive feedback as to how it can be better. And for pricier items (e.g. if a bike manufacturer would want to loan me a ride or wheels), I'd gladly return them following the review. You see I'm easy. And I can talk when inspired...or write...or Tweet (somewhat)...

I'm a middle aged man, and we have no inhibitions because frankly it's just too damn late to change us. That means you'll get pure, unadulterated honesty. I have a lovely wife, two darling kids, and for some unknown reason this need to be a triathlete. It's as if it is encoded in my DNA. I'm never more content than when I'm so exhausted I can hardly speak. And that is a story which describes untold numbers of us.

Sound appealling? Drop me a line and let's make a deal: joel dot kehm at gmail dot com.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quote of the week (and other memorable moments/thoughts from vacation)

Dylan (sitting in the shallow water of Crystal Lake) - "Daddy, there's water in my hole."

I'm such a juvenile! Had I been drinking anything, it would have been coming through my nose. That was last Monday. You see we spent this last week on what might well have been our first full family vacation, and I mean a true vacation. The road bike stayed home. As it turned out the running shorts (and socks!) stayed home, though that was by accident. Sure I was upset about my stuff being left at home, but only for a short while. I've been more huffy for a lot longer about other things in my day. Instead this became an opportunity to say "f--- it. For one week I'm just a guy with his family (who had his swim stuff and mountain bike and could still sneak in a little sump'n sump'n during the week)!

There were so many things that we experienced, that it's hard to remember everything. But I'll try to hit the high points. Going back to my little buddy Dylan, along with the quote Dylan had the first memorable event of the week. We had taken a boat over to a remote part of Nauset Beach and there were horseshoe crab bodies everywhere. Well leave it to my little buddy. He has a way of grabbing things that he shouldn't. Recall the bumble bee he tried to hand to Mommy? Well here we are two years later. "Ouch Daddy. It poked me." Yes Dylan found the LIVE horseshoe crab. Meanwhile Alexandra was mermaid girl. She put her mask on and just started swimming along checking out things on the bottom, and diving down to grab things.

The next day we hit the bike path as a family. For this, we unveiled Dylan's new Lightning McQueen bicycle!


The bike path was crowded and a little hairy at times, but all had a good time...well almost all. Dylan didn't have the best trip because he took two diggers. However, he got some ice cream at Cobie's and finished up the ride. What a trooper. However, he was done for the rest of the trip. His sister on the other hand, she couldn't get enough. Later in the week Daddy and Alexandra got to go out on the path together, and yes, we covered some miles. Give her some "daddy sippy" (Gatorade), a juice box, some gummies, and a place to pee outdoors, and she is good to go!

And lest you think it was all kids and parents (and grandparents) having a good old fashioned family vacation, well, Mommy and Daddy got a little grown-up time. And what do two grown-ups do when getting their first free time in what seems like years? Why they hit a drag show! Actually I got to cross two things off the bucket list: "#47: Drag Show" *check* "#58: Happy hour at gay dance club" *check*!

*begin digression*
Let me digress for a moment. The thing that jumped out at me in these experiences was how the "human experience" has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. Did you know that there are some really uncoordinated arrhythmic gay people? There were quite a few lonely people as well, just like you'd find in any straight club on any night. And there were nice people and d-bags. Maybe because I clearly was just an observer, and as a middle aged man could really give a rats ass what people think about me, I was able to appreciate things in an objective way I couldn't when I was a young'n hit'n the clubs (no comments Miss Leanna). People are people, even when they are in an orange prom gown and blonde wig yelling "Hi runner!"
*end digression*

Of course it wasn't all fun and games. Stress is an ever present part of life. You try to let your guard down, and wham! In retrospect it didn't dampen the enjoyment of the trip, but what a pain-in-the-ass that they did such a lousy job cleaning our room. We stayed at the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster and at those rates you'd think they could clean up the hair balls, candy wrappers, cheese-its, and families of dust bunnies left over from prior guests (we don't eat candy or cheese-its). My pillow fell behind the bed...and then had to be washed. A bit distressing because I'm not made of money you know, and this vacation was a little bit of a reach because I truly wanted to experience it with my family. They did waive the resort fee after we complained for the 3rd time (and I'm not a complainer, really), but they're still getting a nice letter.

And it wouldn't have been a vacation if someone didn't get sick. Yes Miss Alexandra got the scratchy throat, mild fever, and bad attitude I had last Saturday following my training ride (more on that and the Garmin file in a later post). But don't think for a second that that stopped her. No, it would take a lot more than a summer cold to have her miss anything...anything at all. She's a little terminator "And (she) absolutely will not stop, ever..."

Yes the last week was truly memorable. We have tons of photos which will end up on Facebook soon. The kids have memories now like I have from my childhood, and that makes me so happy I can't explain it. Dylan and mini golf. Alexandra on ready for two wheels. Tons of hermit crabs. The elusive minnows. Grandpa and "the stick" comment (I'll explain another time...). Special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for watching the kids a bit and to Alan and Mike for showing us a good time.

And of course my loving wife out and having fun and dancing, something that could not have happened a year ago. I love you.

Friday, August 06, 2010

What's my thing?

Seriously, when you think of me what do you think of? What is(are) my defining characteristic(s) at least from the standpoint of external perception of me? Is there anything about which you'd like to hear more, e.g. a topic for a recurring series of posts? Do you want more pictures?

I'm not having another identity crisis, but I am starting to think forward a little. This is an opportunity that has not existed in my life in some time; the ability to plan the future, to think about what I want to be when I grow up. I want to write more, and so I want to know what people think. My posts cover a very broad range of things. I'm looking for a little focus, at least for some of them. Help me please (and I'll say nice things about you!).

Yes I an serious here, and remember I reserve the right to delete the more offensive of the suggestions!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

So this is what my parents felt...

My mom saved lots of stuff from my childhood in my parents basement. Once we bought our house in Middletown, "care packages" began arriving with some of my stuff from long, long ago. I remember thinking three things:

1) I can't believe this is still around.
2) You held onto this crap all that time?
3) What the hell am I going to do with it?

Well yesterday I experienced some of what was probably going through my mom's head and heart. We are beginning to make some room in our overcrowded travesty of a cellar, and to do that it means things such as the crib and bags of baby toys must go. It really was not that long ago that we used these items, and yet they will never be used again. I confess to feeling sad as they went into the dumpsters at the transfer station. My little nugget and the wee man are no longer that.

(FYI, most items are slated to be ground up and recycled.)