Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bissell Training Camp - Day 6

This morning we did a "media session." A bunch of folks from www.cyclingnews.com, www.roadbikereview.com, and local folks like Veronika Lenzi. Then it was time for some good riding.

Most of the day was pretty chill. We went out to Pope Valley and then rode the ToC stage 1 course back in. Parts of the sections were "at your own pace," which for the climbers ment... well, you get the idea. Tonight is out big dinner at the Rivieria.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bissell Training Camp - Day 5

Over the past few days Team Bissell has had Bill Peterson from Foot Fitness work with our bike positions. At first, I did not know what to expect since I already felt "comfortable" on the bike. Even when asked about problems, I initially responded with "none." In hindsight, I replied "none" because all of the knee and back pains that I did have I attributed to fatigue or a lack of core strength. But as it turns out, there is a morphological reason for both. So, I now know that my left foot pronates pretty far, and that as I put power into the pedal, my foot flattens out and twists my leg and does all sorts of not-so-good things to my back. Additionally, my left foot turns in 2 degrees while my right foot points straight forward. So Bill then fixed my Speedplay Zero cleats on my new DMT Radial shoes to exactly the position that my feet needed. Another thing that Bill is working on is a custom footbed that will eliminate my pronation. That should straighten out my back and put an end to the pain that I thought was caused by lack of core strength. I'll keep you posted on that once it arrives.

After the bike fitting, we ventured off to Cavedale to get a nice effort in for the day. It was a beautiful ride over Bennette Valley and over Cavedale. We also were graced with the presence of Santa Rosa's Italian Cycling connection, Giampaolo Peces from the Riviera Ristorante.

Here is a picture Mr. Paul Mach. He is enjoying an EFS Peanutbutter Chocolate Chip energy bar. Those who know me know that I am a peanut butter fanatic and can vouch for the tastiness of their bars.



After getting back from the ride it was time for some interviews with the local TV stations. Here is BJM talking about why Santa Rosa makes a great place to have training camp. I can sum it up in a few words though... short sleeves and shorts in January!!! Oh yeah, and the great roads, scenic trails, and cycling friendly city.


Afterwards we went for a ride to Occidental with our sponsors. It was really nice to get to meet the people that make the team possible. But what really stood out was that fact that their companies are involved with the sport because of the healthy lifestyles associated with cycling. Mark Bissell explained that Bissell is a huge believer in healthy living, which is what their vacuum cleaners and other cleaning appliances do for us. They help make our homes cleaner and thus healthier to live in. Advantage Benefits also believes in healthy living since they work with healthcare for corporations and have first hand knowlege of the financial benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Gita also believes in healthy lifestyles and promotes it by importing top of the line sporting goods such as our frames, components, saddles, stems, bars, shoes, and clothing. Wynalda Litho also, believes in promoting healthy lifestyles. You may have never heard of them before, but I gaurentee you have purchased their products hundreds of times in your lifetime. Their primary product is packaging for movies. So look at your DVD collection and most of that you see (besides the disk) is thiers. Kellogs is slo kicking in healthy foods such as cereals and Nutragrain bars. Once again, healthy lifestyles!

After the ride was some good food. First Endurance Ultragen recovery drink, fruit, sandwiches, and Kellogs Nutragrain bars.

Tomorrow will be another day of eating, riding, media-ing, and other fun stuff!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bissell Training Camp - Day 4


Today was the first day of training camp that had a real training day. We went up to and did the infamous Geysers. It was quite fun to do the climb with a bunch of guys that literally, do this for a living. Ben and Andy JM lead the climbers up the back side of the hill while the rest of us.... sprinters ;-) kept our own tempo. So that was a fun and fast journey up the hill. The decent was also plenty fun. Following Ben down was also a nice learning curve. The team decends very gracefully and very fast. But I got to say, I feel much more confident on the Prince then other bikes I have ridden. It is definately built for speed, both ascending and descending.

Another highlight of the ride was on the way back in. I got to talk with Frank Pipp about my kind of riding.. one day racing where speed trumps climbing. I definitely was a little concerned about not keeping with the climbers up Geysers but after talking to him about some of the racing he has experiences, (i.e. Stillwater Criterium), I was glad to hear that climbing IS NOT EVERYTHING when it comes to cycling. Both him and Kirk O'bee are new sprinters to the team that have a laundry list of pro wins. With any luck, I will have the chance to learn a lot form these guys. Anyway, Pipp reminded me that climbing is a specialty, like time trialing or stage racing, that sure I have to do, but I don't have to be the best at it to be successful. Our kind of racing is about pure speed. Pure speed is a different kind of skill that doesn't necessarily make one a good cllimber. So for the 90% of races that are not pure climber courses, a sprinter will do very well.



I also got the chance to test the Easton EC70 SL. These were sure fun to ride with today. They definately feel fast, no question. They also break extremely nice. Two thumbs up with a huge smile from me for these babies!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bissell Training Camp - Day 3

I am tired so I'll post more photos and use less words. So today's training camp went like this...


Wait for the van to leave for the photo shoot in Paul's hotel room.

Sit around and wait for our turn to get photos done...
Stare at the Ferrari type bikes next to my beat up old truck....


Watch our photographer try not to fall off the roof of the van.... while waiting for him to take our pictures.

Sneak a picture of Tom while getting ready for another photo shoot.

Oh yeah, we rode about an hour too. Just spinning out the legs before tomorrows ride.

Lastly, thanks to the Riviera for another wonderful dinner!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bissell Training Camp - Day 2

Today started off well. We met in the late morning for a good breakfast at the team hotel. Most of the team then worked on their new bikes, but since I already had mine as of last Friday, I got to lounge a bit. Then shortly after 11:00AM, we set off for a coffee run.... in Healdsburg. We stopped at the world famous Flying Goat, for some of their french press brew and goat barz. Very tasty indeed.

There seemed to be a lot of interest in the team at the Flying Goat. I mean, how often do you see $80,000 worth of new bikes sitting in front of a coffee shop?

This was the view for a lot of the ride. It was a recovery day for most since they were just trying to get used to their new whips. There was even a Belle Velo gal that passed us on the way back into Santa Rosa. But in all fairness, she was probably on EPO or something.



video

Now it is off to photo land!

Bissell Training Camp - Day 1



Day 1 of training camp was a, "travel day." So, at the crack of noon, Paul Mach and I drove to the shop, picked up a mountain bike, and then went to Annadale for a Tour de Annadale. It was quite fun. Sometimes I forget how fun mountain biking is after months of riding on the road.

After cleaning up I had some free time and then we met at the Hotel. I got to meet a few of my new team mates; Omer Kem, Morgan Schmitt, Jeremy Vennell, and Peter Latham. We then went to dinner at a Thi restaraunt just aroud the block from the hotel. Then it was off to the mall to show Peter what a real American mall was like.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Prince Review

The bike:

I have a few rides on the Prince now so I feel it is appropriate to give a review of the new Red Stallion. One of the first things I can say is that when it comes to bikes you typically can have two of three traits; stiffness, light weight, and affordability. So typically, I have always had to choose affordability and ___________. That said, this bike is no acceptation. After building the bike up and tossing it around the shop, it was clear that it is a light bike. With the training wheels and tires on, the bike weighs in at just under 16 pounds. Consider when I put my race wheels on the bike will be UCI legal... barely! The other characteristic that this bike has is stiffness. I had the chance to do some heavy duty climbing with my boy Mr. Mach this last weekend and the power transfer of the bike was definitely noticeably more then what I am used to. That's not to say that my previous bikes were "flexy," but that this was flat out more rigid. Honestly, I can say that stiffness is one of those things that you only notice under extreeme circumstances so it is hard to replicate on a "test ride" around a parking lot or a 5 second sprint outside of a bike shop. But once you take one of these bad boys up Kings Ridge, I am sure you will understand. Keep in mind that nowhere in this did I say this bike was affordable, since the frame set alone sells for more then my whole bike last year. Two of three!

The group:
One thing that I was worried about was moving from Shimano's Dura Ace grouppo to Campagnolo's Record grouppo. I have spent all of my 7 years on a road bike on Shimano components and the thought of something different was quite the pill to swallow. But I was amazed at how easy it was to switch. Not only was the switch easy, but it also has some advantages over the Dura Ace group. The biggest "benefit" for me is the thumb shifter (see above photo) for the rear cogs. With one swoop of the thumb you can move down 5 gears. Or, with a slow swoop, you can go through the cog 1 at a time. The benefit over Dura Ace is that you can be gripping the handlebars at full force (think SPRINT) while your thumb does the shifting. I was told you can do that with SRAM's double tap, but I used a Red equiped bike for 2 rides and didn't get the have of shifting while in full sprint motion, but I picked it up on the first try with Campy.

The bars:Those who know me know that I am an apostle of the integrated bar / stem combo. Well, Oh boy did I luck out with these bad boyz. This is the MOst Talon integrated bar. Not only is this bar light and stiff, but the graphics on these bars mystical. It is hard to capture the true detail in a picture, so next time you see me on the road or at a local event, make sure to come by and check them out. Unfortunately, blogger won't let me post this picture horizontally, but if you tilt your head to the right and the computer to the left, you can see what looks like kung foo eyebrows and a really pointy nose. Imagine the white streaks are wrinkles in the brow and you have one pissed off ninja. OK, maybe it's just my imagination running wild, but it still looks saucy!

The saddle:
Another nice little feature is the line of MOst saddles. Close your eyes and imagine a Selle Italia SLR but flashier, that that's the MOst XLR XP. The glossy white looks killer. Hopefully we'll get some white bar tape to match!

"Our amps go to 11"
Lastly, did I mention it has 11 rear cogs? Imagine your 12-25 cassette, with an 11 tooth bonus! Perfect for a super fast decent after a long climb.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kings Ridge and GOODIES!!!!

Paul Mach and Nells(sp?) came over today for another epic Kings Ridge ride. Since I have already posted blogs on the Santa Rosa / Occidental / Monte Rio / Cazadero / Kings Ridge / Tin Barn / Coleman Valley / Occidental / Santa Rosa loop, I'll get to the other "news." Paul Mach took delivery of his Bissell paraphanilia and we BOTH took delivery of our new Pinarello Princes. Actually, I took delivery of the frame and parts yesterday afternoon after a heroic effort by Glen Mitchell, who scoured Sonoma county to get all the parts that would enable me to stay up to midnight building it up. Thanks Glen!!! And Ben, I miss you! I hope you are enjoying Argentina.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Going to Stillwater, MN?

I was reviewing some pictures off my camera and I remembered I found this really cool bike shop in Stillwater, MN over Christmas Break. As a little footnote, I may have mentioned to some of my friends that my ideal "retirement" from corporate life / engineering life / cycling is to open up a small bike shop that also has a bakery in it. We got the original idea from Cenna at Okiboji Expedition Company. He runs a bike, ski, coffee shop in Okiboji Iowa that is an amazing place if you ever go there. But it seems I am not the only one who thinks it is a good idea. Oliver and his mother Maryse have started the Bikery in Stilwater, MN. They are still in working on getting the shop off the ground but they make coffee that is amazing!!! Bot only that, they have home made soups and freshly baked bread that is greatly appreciated after 4-5 hours of cross country skiing or bike ride. So, if you are in the area, check them out for sure.


Here is Oliver standing in front of his top of the line bike brands... Eddy Mercks, which is distributed by gita, which also sells Pinarello!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bicycle Commuting to work again :-)

Well, they days are getting long enough again to start biking to work again. Starting Monday I've been pedaling my way from Santa Rosa to Petaluma and hope to continue doing so until my last day at 3M on May 1st. I apologize for the poor photography, in this case the utility pole, but I thought I might share with y'all the nice sunrise I get to see every morning. It is kinda nice to get up with the sun with a belly full of coffee and cereal while pedaling a Pinarello to work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sunday Ride with the fella'z - King Ridge Style

Sunday was another one of those "this is why we ride" kind of rides. We met up for some espresso and treats Sunday morning then headed out for another epic west county ride. We headed out of Sebastopol mid morning and headed north through Monte Rio. Then to Austin Creek and eventually, Kind ridge.
Not sure where this one was taken, but apparently I was hungry.

Thanks for the pics Yuri!

Monday, January 12, 2009

"I didn't hire you to race cyclocross" -Glen Mitchell

This weekend I decided to take a stab at cyclocross... um... riding ;-) It was a good time for sure. Lots of music, lots of friends, lots of beer... and a bit of heckling from the announcer. All in good fun of course.
I am not sure exactly what facial expression that is. Maybe it was a burp.
Here you can see my secret to jumping over the barricades. Kinda like Michael Jordan, just not as obvious.

In the end, I may have broken into the top 10. Which was OK I gues, considering that was mid pack. Then after the race, I saw big boss man Glen Mitchell, Tonya, and Kira. I think he saw how disappointed I was finishing nowhere near the top, so to console me he said, "I didn't hire you to race cyclocross," but I think he meant to say, "good job, you'll get better with practice"

Thanks again to Veronika Lenzi for taking photos at this... "ride"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New year, new team, new kit!

Tuesday night, Ben (our new housemate & Bissell mechanic) came home with a bounty of Bissell clothing for the year. I was in disbelief at the sheer quantity of clothing. But then going through it all, I was blown away by the quality and variations of clothing Giordana makes. I think I counted 5 different types of long sleeve jerseys, from light weight to wind proof thermal and 3 types in between. Pictured above is Matt modeling the Long sleeve thermal / wind proof jacket with the Euro biking hat. Additionally, they had INSULATED BIBS!!!!! I never knew those existed. I always wondered how to keep the kibbles and bits warm on 30/40 degree days... well now I know!

RIDE ON!!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First Race for 2009!?!

It looks like my first race for the season will be Cherry Pie in Napa on February 8th. I remember last year I signed up for the race but became ill the week beforehand and was still recovering from it. Hopefully this year I can stay healthier and actually race this northern California Classic.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

YEAH HOLIDAY FUN!!!!

Here is a wonderful example of the joys of Christmas, "Poo Pooing Santa Claus". Kinda like a Pez dispenser except for instead of sweet tarts coming out of the neck of an Alien, you get a chocolate goodie from Santa's...... back.

Oh yeah, that's Peter Baker, Emily's brother.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Heat wave in Minneapolis for Christmas!!!


Sorry for the lack of updates... I have been on the road and sans computer. So I'll post a few over the past few days to get caught up with the Christmas vacation.

Christmas day started out amazing... amazingly early (3AM wake up call) and amazingly lucky. Emily drove to SFO to catch our 6AM flight to MSP. We were pretty excited to get out of Dodge so it was easy to get up. The drive to SFO went very smooth and we saw something we have never seen before, and may never see again. As we were driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, there was not a car in sight. There was no fog. The scene was surreal as it reminded me of the pictures from when the bridge first opened. No lights to be seen except for the vintage yellow street lights that seemed to be straight out of the 30's. It made me think of what it probably looked like shortly after it was built.

We arrived at the airport ahead of schedule and had plenty of time to relax before the flight. Just as we were boarding though, we had a pleasant suprise... FIRST CLASS UPGRADE!!!! The look on Emily's face was priceless. She had never flown first class and she could not hide the excitement. We had barely sat down in our extra wide seats before the flight attendant came by with coffee. Real coffee in real coffee cups. She was pretty impressed, since last time we flew in coach they had the cheap a$$ styrafoam coffee. I'm not sure if it was actually better coffee or if it just tastes better while watching the "coach commoners" struggle to find places for thier bags behind us. Either was, Emily was happy and thus so was I.

The flight "flew by" and we landed in MSP around noon. We stood outside waiting to be picked up and the "cold" 20(?) weather hit us west coast softies pretty hard. Once getting in to the Baker's car Jeff and Denise told us that this 20 degree weather was a hot spell, and that it had been 20 degrees COLDER for the past few weeks. "Nice to be home" I though.