Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shoes and TMI

I'm the type of guy that once I find something I like, it's kind of hard to convince me that something else is better. That being said, I've owned 3 pairs of biking shoes in my life:

2004 - Sidi Bullets - Basic 3-strap velcro mtb shoe... I rode the crap out of these things, until the velcro died enough to not hold on, and the sole had huge grooves in the bottom from the eggbeater pedals, so that the engagement is quite loose...

2005 - Sidi Dominator 5 Carbon - When I got my first road bike, I went with some higher end shoes since the Sidis had done me no wrong. Fit is great, pretty stiff, and tolerable all day despite the crappy paper insoles they come with. I'm still rocking these to this day.

2007 - Sidi Dragon - The mack daddy mountain shoe... I still rock these as well, by far the most comfortable shoes I've owned... They've been through many miles of heat, cold, rain, snow, and everything in between. The replaceable sole is nearly done, though I've yet to replace them yet. I've lost one of the techno-twisting middle buckles, but they're useless anyways...

So what would make a man change from shoes that work decently well? Reluctance to buy a $100 sole for a 3 yr old pair of shoes? Boredom? Distraction by shiny object? Drawn to B-Dot supremacy?

Take your pick, but I've ended up with not one, but two shiny new pairs of cycling kicks, with the new [new = last year release] Bontrager RXL shoes in road and mountain flavor.

As for fit, for both shoes I had to drop down a half size from my Sidis to get the proper size... and even then, I can only wear them with thinner summer weight socks. Not really a big deal most of the time, but sort of an annoyance. The next size up is too large to wear even with thicker socks. Beyond that, the derby cut works well to really let you adjust out the volume in the front of the shoes to get a snug secure fit, while the toe box is wide enough for comfort. The buckles work well enough, although I sort of miss the half click release option from the sidis for easy adjustment on the bike.

After a couple hundred miles [sadly, many on the trainer], I can say that the RXL road shoes are superb... A+. I've had no issues of numbness or pain, and they are noticeably stiffer than the Sidis. The eSoles insoles make a huge difference, and is easily felt while pedaling. The vents seem to work at pushing air into the shoe, but I've only had one outdoor ride without booties to go by. The heel locks in well, and no sliding around yet. Overall I'm super pleased...

The mountain shoes verdict is still in progress. I've done a cross race and a 2. 5 hour mountain ride with them so far. On the bike, they fit well and are night and day stiffer than the Sidis. Despite the extra roominess compared to the dragons, they don't slide or move around at all either. So far, I'm still debating on the off the bike performance. I have a little heel slide while running/walking, and the super stiffness could be an issue on longer walks... So it's gonna take a while to see where these will fit in, and whether they will hurt me in a longer race where walking is an issue... happens sometimes for a singlespeeder...

But overall I'm pleased with both pairs and can't wait for the weather to stay warm enough to get some more testing in!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Powered Up

I realized it has been some time since I've blogged... I guess with all those epic rides and all the long hours down in sunny Florida logging base miles, theres just not much time left for typing.

If only that were the case...

Instead, I've been working 50 hour weeks and riding the trainer every other day... I hate this damn cold, my appendages refuse to cooperate with me.

So instead I've been finding shiny things to occupy my time, like my christmas present to myself.

I decided to try and add a bit more structure to my training this year, and ended up getting a Powertap SL 2.4 hub from the fine folks up at Saris. My timing was fortuitous, as for 2010, Bontrager wheels were no longer paired spoke, which meant I could actually build the wheel into a nice rim.

I had batted around the idea before of getting some bombproof training wheels in the form of the Bontrager Classics. 32 spokes, durable hubs, puncture resistant tires, etc. But then I started to actually think, and realized that [1] I don't race road, so why do I need "race" and "training" wheels? [2] If I did do a race here or there, wouldn't I want the powertap? and [3] I like shiny things.

So instead I decided to replace my current RXL wheelset [for sale, $475] and just build up a lightweight all around wheelset. Since I like things that match I went with the new 2010 RXL scandium rims, and the DT Swiss Aerolite white spokes, which are flattened to be bladed, but are small enough to fit through a 2.5 mm hub hole without slotting. Rounded it off with the DT prolock nipples. I don't know much about them except being told they are the best, and carry a price tag to match.

After getting it all built up, the final weight for the wheelset was 1720 grams. Not bad at all with a 412 gram hub. This pushed the Madone up to 15.5 lb with the sensors/cages/pedals/everything. I don't think I can complain about that at all.

Sadly I haven't gotten to ride anywhere but the trainer and the boulevard, so I haven't been able to do a solid threshold test and get all my zones set up... But it is interesting to see all the little things like terrain, wind, cadence, etc that have such a huge impact on how much power you're actually outputting. But I think it's going to be a great training tool and I'm really looking forward to this damn cold going away so I can put it to good use!