Monday, August 16, 2010

One of Those Days!

I Have been involved in endurance sports for many years. If the starting point was when I took up running at age 15 - that's nearly 35 years of these stuff. If you do this stuff long enough, you know that you have good days and not so good days.

Over the weekend I had "One of Those Days" - and not the good variety of these days. I was supposed to be doing an 80K road race on Sunday morning, but I woke up and felt really rough. It was to be a two hour drive to the race site, then a 2+ hour race then a 2 hour ride home - all-in, about seven hours of my Sunday was to be taken up with this race. Not sure why I felt terrible, as I had, had a fairly light week of riding in the past week. I decided to not go to the race, initially with regrets, and instead go out for a 2 hour ride on my own. Within 1/2 km of starting the ride, I knew that I had made the right decision. My legs felt dreadful and completely lacking of any fitness and strength. My regrets turned to a feeling of making a wise decision.

I was having the type of day that, you dread ever lines up with a race-day or a day with a really hard workout planned. I have had them over the years - fortunately, they have infrequently lined up with race days, but I am sure some of my really ugly performances over the years, have been because - it was One of Those Days.

The two hour ride was done well off my normal pace for this route, and as I came up towards the end of it, it was feeling more like the rap-up to a ride twice as long and as hard. Over the years, I have become fairly adept at predicting these low ebbs and making good choices as to whether to race or not, or postpone that really hard workout for another day when I can go really hard. Not sure what it is that leads to these days. I know that if you fastidiously track, morning heart rate, body weight, diet, key workout details, total watts used per-work etc . . . you should be able to track and predict these days. These days, I can predict them by feel, and yesterday I know that I made the right choice!

Your mileage may vary!

Picture at the top is from the end of the road at Chain of Craters Road in Volcano National Park, Hawaii, where recent lava flows have blocked the road.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cervelo S2 or R3: Aero or not for road bikes?

My wife, Paolina Allan's S2

My R3

Which Cervelo road bike should I get? The S2 or the R3? It's a question I hear often. It's a good problem to have. Both bikes are at the head of their class. Both bikes get rave reviews from informed and knowledgeable road bike reviewers. Both bikes have a Pro Tour Race winning pedigree. Both bikes, as ridden by the Cervelo Test Team, are available, stock at Cervelo dealers.

Is having an aero road bike an advantage?

Here's my take on this:

Last fall I got an R3. This is the bike if you do a lot of road riding, in groups or on your own, and you prefer a more comfortable ride. After all, this is the bike that has won Paris-Roubaix twice in the past 5 years. This is also a great bike for road racing - it's very light, even with ordinary kit, and rides very stable and true. The knock against the R3 is that it is not "aero". However for the occasional road racer, as I am, it's of little concern. Most of the Master's road racing that I do, no matter how many times you try and break-away, comes down to a field sprint, so you are riding in a pack almost all the time. How "aero" your frame is, is the least of your concerns.

I recall reading a stat after one of Lance Armstrongs Tour de France wins a few years ago. Outside of Time Trials, in three weeks of racing, Armstrong, had spent a grand total of 12 minutes riding on his own in the wind, for that Tour de France win!

Finally - as many know, I have a wonky back. The extra vertical compliance in the rear triangle in the R3 is a welcome feature - on long rides and on rough pavement it is a very comfortable ride. We have a lot of lousy pavement in our area and we also ride from time to time on gravel and dirt roads and the R3 handles all this very well. The R3 has that "all-day" comfort that is highly valued by Pro Tour riders or any serious rider for that matter who puts in a lot of miles.

Recently, my wife got a new Cervelo S2. This is the bike that started out life being called the Soloist in the Cervelo line, and really invented the whole category of aero road bikes. The bike is very aerodynamic - it's even more aerodynamic than some manufacturers time trial and triathlon frames! This was the preferred bike for my wife because, women's road race fields tend to be much smaller than mens. There are more, small and solo break-aways that stick. You often have to bridge from one group or rider to another, on your own. Here, aerodynamics for a road bike, can be really important. Also, my wife travels from time to time to Stage Races where there is a Time Trial as one of the stages. By using the S2 with Clip-On aero bars, she saves herself the hassle of having to bring along a dedicated TT bike, and as previously mentioned, the S2 holds it's own when it comes to aerodynamics. The ride on the S2 would best be described as being firmer than that of the R3. It's still pretty comfortable for an aero framed road bike.

In summary - you should consider an aero road bike if you do a lot of solo riding, you are a woman road racing, you can make a break-away stick in road racing, or you want one bike to do it all - even be used as a tri-bike. If not any of that, then a non-aero road bike such as the Cervelo R3 will serve you very well.

So there. Hopefully that will help you decide which Cervelo Road Bike or an aero road bike is for you!