My Rides

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smoothies - I drink / chew them alot

This will be a running smoothie journal 
I'll routinely post photos and recipes (rough, except by specific request/comment) and my brief comment on the taste.  So, check back for more veggie porn.

Smoothies have become my favorite way to get many servings of fruits, vegetables, lean protein (whey protein), and healthy fats.  I've been amazed at how much vegetables you can "sneak in" before it doesn't taste like something fun.  Now, I've been drinking smoothies for a few months now, at the same time avoiding sweets, soda (pop), so my taste has evolved not to like "sweet" so much.
1 beet, with greens, 1 apple, 1 stalk celery, 1 handful fresh parsley, 1 handful walnuts, approx 4 oz plain kefir, approx 4 oz cranberry juice, 4-6 baby carrots, 10 count squeeze of honey, whey protein (enough for 20 g protein)
[OK, should have added some berries]

Vegetables that I've found you can sneak in a substantial serving of, without much taste (especially if there's a cup of berries and/or a splash of cranberry juice):  broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots

Vegetables that you can pretty easily taste (not that it's bad, but not always what you want):  sprouts, celery

10/26 (Dinner)
Walnuts (handful), parsley (small handful), kale (2 big leaves), carrots (handful), pineapple (small handful),  tiny slice lemon (with peel), blueberries (handful), kefir - plain (approx 4 oz), cranberry juice (splash), cherry juice (approx 4 oz) , whey protein (enough for 20 g protein)
[This one was delicious]
10/27 (Breakfast)
Pea shoots (small handful), mint leaves, carrots (handful), celery (1 stalk), pineapple (1/2 cup), kefir (4 oz), cranberry  juice (4 oz)
[Delicious, love the mint-leaves]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Remember this jacket?

I wore it for the first time since March.  Yes, ladies, as a vest, with a sleek black Under Armour base layer.  And sorry men, that smile is patented.  It's loose fitting - like inches all around.  Must have stretched in the closet.  Sorry, the paparazzi weren't out on the trails tonight to snap a picture.

This picture got me thinking about this race - my first race - and my goals for Winter training.  I looked into some cyclocross races, but the few I looked into were closed (I waited too long to register).  Some guys at work are organizing group rides, and I may find something to sign up for or convince the family to go to Moab or something (long shot).  Otherwise, my goal is next year's Barry Roubaix race.

I took the time to analyze last year's results, including my placement, and set a preliminary goal for next year.
Of course, I made a graph.  It's kind of hard to see the plot text so here's a summary:
  • It's a histogram - showing race Elapsed Time (E.T.) along the x-axis, an number of riders (finishing around a particular E.T.) on the y-axis.
  • I finished at 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 53 seconds, (the text on the plot off to the right) about 9 minutes behind...
    • average time of 12.1 mph
  • ...the Median time (about 1:45)
    • average time of 13.2 mph
    • more people finished ahead of me than behind me
  • My goal is to finish about 18 minutes ahead of last year's Median time (about 1:35)
    • average time of 14.4 mph, about 20% faster than last year
    • more people finish behind me, than ahead of me
Do I think this is a reasonable goal?  These days I'm riding about 5 days a week, with a plan, and feel 20% faster.  I'm almost 15% lighter, so far.  Finally, and what I expect will make the biggest impact, I got some new carbon-fiber handle-bars that shave 120 grams off my bike's weight (approx. 1% of bike's weight, approx 0.1% of bike + rider weight).  (I bought those bars because they let me move my brake & shifter controls inboard).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bike Light - Experience

Related Posts:

I've really gotten into these bike lights.  I've built 2 now, and have even gotten into some light pattern simulation  - mainly to compare patterns of something I don't have to something I do have, to decide how bad I want to have.  I had been holding off writing about them until I can follow up commentary with objective photos.  My digital camera doesn't have a manual mode, so I can't set the exposure and aperture and take apples to apples shots, so those will have to wait.  I still want to note some of those "first impressions" for those tentative about taking the plunge - with questions like:

  • How much is enough light?
  • Should I mount my light to my bike or helmet?
  • How wide of a beam do I need?
I'll "answer" (offer one opinion) those in reverse order.  I'll frame my answers by first describing where and how I ride.  I live in a suburban area.  I mostly ride on unlit paved and gravel roads, with little traffic, sidewalks, and on double-track, single-track trails and in open fields (at a community college near the house).  I ride 15-25 mph off-trail, and 10-<20 mph on trails.  I consider myself an experienced amateur and rode all these places in the daytime for a year before riding at night.

How wide of a beam do I need?
For these areas, and with 200-1000 lumens, I think anything wider than 20 degrees FWHM (full-width, half-magnitude) is too wide.


The above is the (initial) beam pattern of (not scaled for my application) of my 3 x XP-G light.  On the sidewalk or single-track trail the reflection from nearby foliage is too bright - limiting how far I can see down the trail.  On a double-track or on a road, I'd just prefer to have more "throw" or redistribute some light from the side down the trail.  One time, while waiting for a friend, I sat at a wide intersection ( 2 lanes, separated by a median), and my light was lighting the top of a 50 foot tall tree across the intersection.  When I compare to my van's head-lights this light seemed to produce more light (than 1 dim light), but was spread out more...

With somewhere near 1000 lumens (my 3 x XP-G light is rated for up to 1280 lumens, excluding lens losses), having the light too wide isn't the end of the world, but it's not optimal (I've changed to the narrow clear lens, which is technically the same width, but 40% brighter in the center).  So, my advice is (especially after studying optics a bit more), if you're using 20mm TIR optics, for trail riding stick with "narrow-clear" (even for single LED lights, even if the lens is  - I'll explain in more detail in a later post).  Stay away from medium, and  especially wide.

How much is enough light?
That depends if you follow my advice on beam-width, and where you mount it.  After riding a couple of weeks with the 1000 lumen, 24 degree wide light, it broke (I broke it - don't ask).  So, I quickly put together my helmet light.  It's a "warm white" XP-G LED, driven at 1A, and should be producing around 250 lumens.  I rode with this for about 3 weeks, using a 20mm narrow-frosted lens (14.3 degrees, FWHM).  Mounted to the helmet, I found 200ish lumens "just enough" for the riding I do.

If you insist that you need or want something wider (excluding elliptical pattern lenses), 200 lumens is NOT enough.  As you spread those lumens over more area, the intensity diminishes rapidly (and, at least for TIR lenses, the total amount of light you get reduces as you attempt to spread it out).  So, for anything over 20 degrees wide, I'd say you need at least 500-600 lumens (rated pre-lens, as most lights seem to be).

But, for a friend, about to spend hard earned money, or precious time building, I would recommend 500-600 lumens for a single light.  Less light, and you'll be wanting more before too long.  More light, should be in a second light.

Should I mount my light to my bike or helmet?
Helmet!  I'll qualify that.  If you're planning 1 light, at least at first, and it's 500-600 lumens, or less, then mount it on the helmet.  The ability to steer the light - to look around an upcoming turn in the trail, or up the trail when things are smooth or down in front of the tire when things are rough, to look down at the bike computer or gears... ...really makes the most of a single light.

If you've got more than 500-600 lumens, you've probably got a big battery pack.  With newer LEDs you can get 500-600 lumens for about 5W power input, and a single (small, light) 18650 battery is good for about 10 W*hr (10 Watts for an hour).  So, you could go for a < 2 hour ride with a battery that doesn't feel too heavy mounted to your head...

Drawbacks to mounting to the helmet:

  • Mounted on top of the helmet, where most convenient, I've bashed the light on tree branches.  
  • I have to get my light right at the front of my helmet, or else the helmet cuts off the light spilling down right in front of my bike.  I'm not sure all helmets and or light mounting schemes will allow mounting to avoid this drawback. 
  • If you look up as you take a drink, or down at your computer you take the light off the trail.
So, for DIY light builders, based on my experience so far, I think the best value (light where you need it vs. cost, weight, complexity, etc.) in lighting is:

  • Cree XM-L LED, with Carclo 26.5 mm elliptical TIR lens, mounted to the handle-bars, and driven at 1-1.4A, by single 18650 Li-ion cell.  This will provide good illumination of the trail in front, and to the sides.  The beamwidth of this light alone breaks my 20 degree rule, but not when considered as a set.  
  • Cree XM-L LED, with Carclo 26.5 mm narrow clear or narrow frosted TIR lens, mounted to helmet, and driven at 1-1.4A, by single 18650 Li-ion cell.  This is your high-beam when riding straight ahead, and the light you steer as the trail turns.  The XM-L gives a nice spill, so a little glance down should illuminate bike computer of gears, without bringing the bright part of the beam down enough to blind you.  
These 2 lights together, will consume about 7-10 W, and significantly outperform (total light output, "throw" of the light or peak intensity, steer-ability) my 3 x XP-G light (also a 10W light).  The batteries for each will be easy to mount, and the bike mounted light could even be driven with a generator hub...  The 26.5 mm lenses are more efficient than the 3x10mm lenses, putting a lot more light down the trail.  The XM-L is more efficient than the XP-Gs...  In a future post, I'll take you through the analysis, calculations, and beam-pattern simulations that lead me to this advice / conclusion.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things: Bike features and components that help make cycling a joy

It's been a while since a post, largely because I've been doing so much riding at night - when I might otherwise be blogging.  Thanks in part to one of my new favorite things - my bike light(s).  Having the freedom to ride at night, while the kids are being put to bed, or after dinner is great.

Nights are less stressful.  If there errands to run (and there always are), or the family wants to eat out, I don't have to miss out or be the bad guy.  Work is less stressful.  If I'm making progress at the end of the day, I don't have to stress about compromising or missing my workout to take another hour to finish something up.

It's been so long since I gave it much thought, but my Brooks B17 saddles have to be among my favorite (bike) things.  Whether I get on the bike for a serious training ride, clad in padded lycra, or I tuck my slacks in my sock to take the kids to the park I just never notice my saddle.  I've probably ridden over 1000 miles on my mountain bike saddle, and 300 on the utility bike saddle.  I noticed some difference in the feel - tightened the laces on the utility bike's saddle, and ahhh...

I swear it must have rained every day (not all day, and probably not every day) for the last 2 weeks, and I've ridden every day except the last 2 (last night on the elliptical machine, tonight on the trainer).  As I chipped high fiber mud from my bike, and cleaned the chain, I realized I've been neglecting my saddle.  That brings me to another, related, favorite thing.

As I mentioned in my series about choosing and breaking-in the saddle I applied Obenauf's Heavy Duty Leather Protector (designed to protect leather firefighter's boots) while breaking-in my saddle.  Since, I've probably wiped on a quick coat 2 or 3 times (in 7 months).  I've looked and felt under the saddle a couple of times for moisture, mud etc.  My under-seat tool bag protects the biggest area of leather on the underside.  But, with a quick check, I feel the reassuring "waxy" feel of the Obenauf's.

I brought the saddle in tonight to chip off a few pieces of dried mud, give it a good cleaning, and re-apply Obenauf's - I probably still have a few good weeks of muddy riding this year, before sporadic wet snow rides.  As I said, the Obenauf's is wonderful stuff.  The 4 oz. jar is almost gone.  After applying to an old pair of shoes, and having the leather look beautiful, feel soft, it started going on everything leather.  Shoes, boots, wallets, belts.

Last, but not least:  29er bikes.  I kind of came into my 29er without any education or information (on 26er vs. 29er).  I had my mind set on a Cannondale hard-tail, and before I went home with the HeadShok 26er, I wanted to try a bike with the lefty-shock.  I rode it over the little test course outside the bike shop, and it was just so smooth.  At the time I thought I was feeling Lefty vs. Headshok, or the difference a few hundred dollars makes.

Since then, I've read up on 29ers, and gained my own experience.  Lately, on muddy trails, or soggy, grassy fields I just love those wheels/tires.  I built a strong, 36 spoke rear wheel to mitigate one of the 29er's short-comings (especially for a heavy rider) - a weaker wheel...  You see more and more 29ers, and you hear more professionals cite them as the bike of choice for cross-country and endurance races.

Some of the 29ers I dream about owning/riding: