Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Kit

I know, just what we needed--love the old school look.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fitwerx and Parlee Z5 Review

Ever dream about finding that ultimate bike shop? Of course, it would have to sell high-end bike goodies-even better, it has them in stock so you can see and feel the bounty, as if you need something to push you over the edge. Then it's instant gratification--out the door you go with the much "needed" goods--much better than the standard operating procedure of "we'd be happy to order it for you."

If asking for in-stock, super high-end goods was not enough, let's ask for a staff that knows more about all things bike than you ever thought possible. Now I know this is already sounding too good to be true, but in my dream world, the customer service would be second to none and while I'm at it, I would also ask for a mechanic that treats my bike like the piece of art that it is.

Well, I finally found the perfect place--Fitwerx in Waitsfield, VT.

I had avoided getting a new road bike for quite awhile, mostly because my current road bike at the time was a rolling torture chamber and I had no desire to pay a lot of money to revisit that pain in a new flavor. After talking with Joey about how much less taxing it can be to train on the road, he assured me that Ian at Fitwerx could solve all of my problems. After doing some online research, all of which was extremely positive, I took the plunge and called Ian to talk about my needs. We scheduled a fitting (you can read about the process on their website). The fitting was most impressive--four hours later, after many measurements of both me and my current bike, much conversation and some very cool video footage, Ian had his numbers--the magic angles, inches and centimeters that were going to change the years of unnecessary suffering I had done on my Litespeed.

Much of the conversation was about my desire to have a road bike that was not only race-worthy, but more importantly, comfortable enough to ride all day. Of course I had to build the bike with components that will last a good long time. I was amazed by Ian's knowledge of a wide variety of frames and components but even more remarkable was his insight on how each of these parts would or would not best suit my needs. I left the shop thoroughly impressed. Several days later I got an estimate for my perfect bike and as you know, that was the Serotta Ottrott--I can only say I love it more now after several thousand miles than the day I got it.


So why am I writing this now? Well, several months ago you may remember the wheels started churning so to speak and I wanted to build a bike to climb Mt. Washington. So again
I called Ian and did not really say much more than "I need all the help I can get to climb Mt. Washington in August--what can you build up that is super-light, comfortable and tough enough to ride everyday?" We discussed several frames and that was that. Realizing that my requirements were somewhat of an oxymoron, I was not expecting a build quote by the end of that day but I got one. Again-perfection! A mixture of components that I never would have thought of on my own--and I do a lot of on-line research--built up on the new Parlee Z5.

I took a couple of days to research the parts I was not familiar with--the frame, Zipp crankset, and Hive brakes, to name a few--all of which got high praise across the board in the performance, light-weight, style and durability departments. The most clever part of the build is the SRAM XX rear derailleur and 10 speed cassette which will give my feeble little legs a bunch of bail-out room as the gas starts to leak all over the place half-way up Mt. Washington--very smart and I'm sure I'll love it even more when I have to use it.

I can go without my power so I have the 404 on the back for training purposes.

The Zipp 202 tubular--I went with Continental GP 4000 tires because they are super puncture resistant. I'm sure I could brake the 13 pound mark with lighter tires--not sure it's worth it.
I also used Tufo Extreme gluing tape instead of glue which works very well--lots less hassle and has eased my "transition" to tubies.

The SRAM XX 11-36--lots of bail out room.

It's like a piece of jewelery--now I want to upgrade the mountain bikes to the XX.

The 202 rear wheel with the SRAM XX 11-36 cassette. I think I will eventually try a Red 11-28.
This wheel is close to a pound lighter than the 404 (with Powertap).
I'll tell you what, I sure do love having power on board--my only regret.

SRAM XX rear derailleur to accommodate the XX 11-36 cog. I am going to put a Red derailleur on after Mt. Washington.

The Selle Italia SLR team edition with carbon rails--the same saddle that is on the Ottrott--love it more and more each time I ride it. The Easton EC90 post is an old favorite--I think it's my third one now--if it just had some markings on it to help with adjusting saddle angle it would be perfect.

The bottom bracket area is big and stiff. I can't honestly tell the difference of the narrower BB30 bottom bracket which is a good thing. The Zipp cranks came with ceramic bearings--very nice!

I've never been a guy to buy high end pedals but these rock and were well worth the upgrade.

The Zipp cranks are another piece I wish I had put on the Serotta as they are lighter and of course look great. The biggest benefit though is that you can go to a 53x39 by changing the rings--a lot cheaper than swapping out the whole crankset.

Everyone seems to love the SRAM red. I keep hearing great things about it, but truth be told, I did not put it on the Ottrott because after riding it I was not impressed. This time around, after hearing even more positive feed back from other riders I went with it--still reluctantly but justified my decision because it weighs less than the Dura Ace. I'll be honest and I thought I would never say this I'm a big fan--it just took awhile to get used to. Now I'm wishing I had it on both bikes because going back and forth between the two is causing me, with my limited mental capacity, to make a lot of bad shifts.

The Hive brakes--awesome--what else can I say. They stop like crazy and are super easy to adjust--can't ask for any more than that.

More about this later--the new Joule 2.0.

With this build, after the initial estimate, I worked with Steve for the majority of the process--with big-time industry credentials, he knows bikes and could not have been more awesome to work with. Like Ian, Steve went above and beyond--prompt in returning phone calls and e-mails, and pleasant in dealing with my last minute vanity changes--top notch customer service.

So, here she is, all 13 lbs 2 ozs of her.
( wt is with the 202 rear wheel)

So back to why I am writing this now. I picked up the new bike a month ago and have had the chance to really ride it (close to a 1000 miles now)--again, as with the Ottrott, the Z5 fit is spot-on perfect. As for the ride, out of this world--for being as light-weight as it is, the bike feels surprisingly beefy, stiff, smooth and super comfortable and yes, it climbs like a mountian goat. I'm still waiting for the stem, which is on backorder from Zipp.

My second go-around with the crew at Fitwerx was again fantastic--since getting the bike, I have received several e-mails and a card thanking me and reminding me to let them know if I have any problems. More so, these guys love their bikes and they just plain want to make sure I love mine too. So you can bet on it, I'll be back--hopefully in time for cross season, if I can just somehow sneak it past my wife.

Monday, May 24, 2010

DirtRag Dirtfest and the Niner Carbon Air 9

Yes, I'm still alive--just been in recovery mode as far as the blog goes. I spent the last four days down in PA at DirtRag's Dirtfest with Mike, Mark, Dave F. and Rich. We got off to a very early start Thursday morning. I was up at 4:20 which probabaly would not have been so bad, except I didn't get to bed until 3:15. Mike picked me up and we were off to Raystown Lake, PA --about a six-hour drive--you know how much I hate to drive, so I was most excited to find out that Mike seems to live for coffee as much as I do. Our first stop was Starbucks in Scranton which is about two hours away.

The bikes were looking like a blur through the sun roof in the blue morning light.
We arrived a touch ahead of schedule at 11 am--not bad considering we stopped and got a bit lost in State College. The first thing I saw when we arrived at the campsite was Rich's espresso machine--SWEET!--I had heard rumors that he might bring it. Between Dave's camper and Rich's machine, this was hardly "camping." I should also mention that the weather was absolutely perfect--70 and not a cloud in the sky.

The fruits of my 3 am labor--my Niner Carbon fork arrived at 5:30 pm Wednesday. I had been hoping it would get here as I really wanted to test out the bike as it will be set up for the Blackfly +/- the wheels--powertap or not?

Pretty slick and about 2 lbs. lighter--I was exceptionally impressed with how it rode all weekend. The trails were a perfect testing ground as they were no bumpier than the roads up at the Blackfly. The fork is very smooth and responsive, so needless to say I'm very happy with it. It should be perfect for the Iceman as well--can't wait.

I'm guessing there is something like 40-50 miles of trails in the park. My understanding is that they were done by IMBA and what a great job they did. 95% of the trails are rippin' single track--the rest had a touch of rocks and roots here and there--nothing really technical.

Mike coming up Ray's Revenge--I think this was our favorite. The view from the top was spectacular. I believe I read somewhere that this trail had the most climbing which was in the neighborhood of 750 ft. None of the trails seemed to hit very hard when climbing--of course I would have preferred a bit more punch going up.

A little hot dogging at the top of Ray's Revenge. We rode about 30 miles a day and only missed one trail (Loco-Motion) by the time we left.

We finally made over to the festival to check out the vendors. At sign-in they were giving away the mini Stan's sealants. It became somewhat of a competition as to who could accumulate the most--the winner had 18.

I'm guessing there were about a dozen bike manufacturers there--I stopped by Stan's to see if I could get my badly beaten rear wheel trued--it was beyond repair so it's got to go back to their shop this week. I've got to send both the front and back wheels back--I hit something on the last day--I think it was the rock garden and now the front rim is more out of whack than the back.

Before we headed back out to ride the rain came and it got a bit chilly--some hot coffee from the Standing Stone Coffee shop hit the spot.

So is this what you want to know about? I was fortunate enough to demo the new Carbon Air Niner--Wow!! In person, it is much beefier than it looks in pictures.

I was not sure what to expect as the bike was not mine nor was it set up especially for me. It was set up as a single speed--I'd spent the past 3 days on gears. For starters, it weighed in at just about 19 lbs. but it sure felt a lot lighter that that. I got about 45 mins. on it and all I can say is that it is sick--it climbs like crazy and it's so responsive going up the hills it felt like I was on my road bike. I was a little tentative going downhill as it was starting to get wet and slippery (not to mention that this is a bike you cannot buy yet). I could not believe how rock solid it was going down and through the corners it accelerated and went exactly where I pointed it. As you would expect, the carbon dampens the vibrations which is really nice--it's stiff and light--pretty much perfect for a bike but I still have my concerns about the durability of carbon for a mountain bike if you crash or it gets hit. Time will tell. The coolest thing about the bike is what Niner calls the CYA botton bracket system which allows you to run the bike either as a SS or geared.
The frame is designed to hide the derailleur cables a small detail which I absolutely love--it is such a clean look. Will I get one? What do you think?

While I was on my dream ride, Mike was demoing a beautiful Atomic Blue ONE 9--which he absolutely loved. I think he is torn as to which one he wants--he loved the carbon but the One 9 was so nice he may not be able to wait.

After our Niner detour, we were about 4 hours into our day--neither of us had counted on being out that long and we were running short on calories. Sitting pretty next to the Stan's sealant was a box of Reeses--no competition on those but they saved the day. I think I ate four of them and was good to go.

You can't really tell from the photo but we were covered with mud--it pretty much had been raining for two hours now and didn't stop until the next morning. Other than being a bit slippery (the Stan's Crow on the back did not help), the mud was actually a blast--the fine watery stuff which was a nice departure from the thick stuff I ride up here.

As it had been the previous two nights, dinner was fantastic, although the rain brought the party inside. I managed to doze off shortly after taking this photo at 10 pm--have not gone to bed that early in a long time. We woke to rain and ultimately called it quits, heading home without riding on Sunday--a bummer, I chalked it up as a rest day--could not wait to see the possums.

We had a great weekend-fantastic food, ride, rest, ride, more food and lots of sleep--oh and did I mention Rich's espresso machine. I think we are going to plan a trip back in the Fall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wood Beetle Attack!

The Baby Don was kind enough to give Cora this little treat for Mother's Day. When I asked him why he did it, he said, "I didn't--it was a wood beetle that attacked me because he thought I would taste good."

It must have been a hungry beetle--Donny was pretty sure he tasted good.

Here's Waldo--the cover-up which I guess made sense 'cause a Trump-style comb-over was certainly out.

You have to hand it to Cora and me--we sure are consistent in our parenting style--we are now 3 for 3. At the age of 4, each of our kids managed to cut their own hair. Well, that depends on whom you believe--apparently Max told everyone at school I "did" this to him. All is good--Max is now convinced he is more aero on his bike.

Monday, May 10, 2010