21 December 2011

Yes, it's the season ...

... for illnesses. I've been sick twice in the past two weeks, first with a sore throat and now with a swollen/drippy nose and headache. Because of that, no workouts since my last attempt at my own personal Pistol Hill ride.

I do have some big plans though. I believe that I should be able to feel well enough Friday to do a couple of repeats of Escalante, though three or four would be better. I am working the front half-shift on Christmas, so I would like to also do a ride sometime Saturday, and I should be able to do Pistol Hill on Monday, then get in another short ride Tuesday morning before doing the back half-shift Tuesday. Wednesday I'm going to take a rest day, maybe do some recovery zone spinning on the trainer inside, but then on my birthday Thursday I'm going to rock Pistol Hill again. This time going all the way to the southern intersection with Camino Loma Alta (which means I'll be doing the Cat 4 climb on Pistol Hill twice; once westbound and again eastbound). I'm sure it's going to be a butt-kicker but I'm determined to do the "full" ride. Thirty miles. Seeing that at least a couple of the races I plan to do next year are more than twice that distance, I probably should get cracking eh?

17 December 2011

Review: Bellwether Axiom bike shorts

Today's review is of the bike shorts I've been using for a while now, the Bellwether Men's Axiom Short

First, I will start by saying that I now own two pairs of these shorts; since I bought the original pair in July 2010 I have lost a decent amount of weight and some thickness, in my legs and backside among other places, and so the XLs that I bought then don't quite fit right anymore. They still work, and are still serviceable, but I needed to get another pair anyway so I just pulled the trigger and got another pair of these, just in LG instead of XL.

So, the first piece of information about these shorts is that not only did I like them, I bought a second pair. And I will buy a third pair when I can afford another one.

Any pair of bike shorts with a built-in chamois will work to some more or less degree. I have an older pair of Pearl Izumi shorts with a basic synthetic chamois, and they work okay. But the Bellwether Axioms have a couple somethings extra: first, the chamois is anatomically padded with a stiff material, and has a breathable front panel designed to keep particularly sensitive parts cooler than otherwise would be true. The fit on the shorts is amazing, and I'm really impressed with the chamois.

Unfortunately, the way the chamois works means that the shorts cannot be tumbled dry, and must line dry. This might be true of any synthetic chamois (I always line dry the PI shorts but just as a preference and habit, not anything I've read that says it's required), but because of the padding of this particular chamois, it takes a while longer than my other shorts. Not that this is a HUGE con, just something to keep in mind.

The legs have a silicone gripper panel, which is not uncommon; what it has that seems to be uncommon is two thin grippers rather than one thick one, which means it hugs less tightly but still stays put. It feels better than the PI shorts. The outer material is a dimpled construction, which seems to work quite well, and the seams are all totally unnoticeable while wearing and riding. No chafing, no bunching in the chamois, and no ride up on the legs == winner.

The shorts are running about $75, and are not the top end of the Bellwether line (that would be the Chronos shorts, at around $115/pair), but are in my experience way better than the normal low-end shorts, shorts that a person just starting to cycle (for weight loss or aerobic fitness or whatever) would otherwise buy.

My recommendation: buy as many pairs of these as you can afford (within reason; if you're only going to cycle two days a week then two is probably your best bet!). They are excellent.

12 December 2011

Tentative 2012 racing schedule

Yes, I know I owe you some reviews, and they are coming. First, I wanted to announce the tentative 2012 road racing schedule for Quixotic Raindrop Cycling (which is just me ... for now!).

Please note that some of these dates are estimated and based on last year's dates (in most cases they appear to be based less on specific dates, and more on which weekend). Also, these are primarily events in or around Tucson. There will be more added as the season progresses and as USA Cycling updates their calendars.

23 January: Avondale Criterium; Avondale, AZ
25 February: Tucson Criterium Series (#1); Tucson, AZ
2-4 March: Tucson Bicycle Classic; Tucson, AZ
7 April: El Tour de Mesa; Phoenix, AZ*
21 April: Old Pueblo Grand Prix; Tucson, AZ
28 April: Tour of the Tucson Mountains; Tucson, AZ*
3 June: Thunder Road Time Trial; Sahaurita, AZ
8 July: 3 Bears Time Trial Series (#3); Red Rock, AZ
21 October: Sonoita-Patagoina Time Trial; Sonoita and Patagoina, AZ
17 November: El Tour de Tucson; Tucson, AZ*

*: Not "races" per se; these events are rides and benefit various charities.

In order to upgrade my USA Cycling racing license for 2013 I'll need to start in 10 mass-start races, and I only have seven scheduled so far, so there will be some additions. I was looking at possibly the Colossal Cave Stage Race, which is a three-stage race just like the Tucson Bicycle Classic (a Time Trial, a Road Race, and a Criterium), and there are a few other time trial and crit races around the state that are possible.

04 December 2011


As of 0540 on 04 December 2011, 225.8 pounds. That's up 2.0 pounds since the previous recorded weigh-in on 18 November. Which overall isn't as bad as it could have been, but still moved in the wrong direction.

03 December 2011

Recent activity

Of late, I've been backing off just a touch, trying to lower my training score a little bit week to week in an effort to "true the blade" so to speak. My rides on the river path have been at a lower HR range, while I've been cutting back on the road rides off Old Spanish Trail and points nearby.

The most curious thing happened as a result of that. When I went off to my river park ride last week, my HR (and HR Zone) were in good averages while my speed was improved (just a little ... I mean, from 11.8 mph to 12.3, but 0.5 mph improvement with a concomitant reduction in HR to output that velocity is pretty much the point of training, right?). Ever since then, I've been able to average 12+ mph on rides that used to be in the 11 or less range, and have been able to push 13+ on some rides. I think I might be getting the hang of this cycling thing.

In addition I've been able to upgrade some of my non-bike gear (selling back old cell phones can be a nice way to do that!), including a second pair of the Bellwether Axiom shorts, which I will review later in the week. I also have been experimenting with various drink mixes for both during-activity hydration/electrolyte and calorie intake as well as post-workout recovery, including a new jug of Cytomax sports drink mix that I will review next week as well (a preview: I got the 4.5 pound jug of Pomegranate Berry ... and it is DELICIOUS). Also new: a doo-rag (the Halo Protex bandana), a pair of cold-weather tights (which haven't arrived yet; when they do, I'll review them), and also some stuff that's not really new but that I need to talk with you about: the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence sensor, and the Respiro Sport Men's Saddle.

Here's a list of recent workouts, including a link to view them and time/distance (reverse chrono order):

03 December 2011 1 hour 32 minutes, 18.73 miles
28 November 2011 48 minutes, 9.37 miles
26 November 2011 1 hour 23 minutes, 18.52 miles
22 November 2011 1 hour 20 minutes, 16.79 miles
17 November 2011 1 hour 49 minutes, 23.49 miles
15 November 2011 2 hours 6 minutes, 25.28 miles

Tomorrow's a shift day, so there will be no workout but I will do a weigh-in first thing in the morning, and I have a 33 mile ride (probably take a hair under 3 hours) planned on Monday. I'll let you know how that goes.

Oh ! I almost forgot, I am officially a USA Cycling Category 5 road racer, as of today, and that license carries through all of 2012. I have been scheduling next year's training periods, and my races, in Training Peaks, and when I get confirmation of the dates for my chosen races I'll be sure to post them here.