Getting going in 2013

2013 is here! Time to crank up the mileage. Time to get ready for Battenkill.

After Luray, I took a break from hard training and racing to rest, spend time with my friends and family, and prepare myself to train for Battenkill. Honestly, rest was my first priority. My legs were tired and beat up after attempting single speed CX. I strained my hip flexor halfway through the season and that took me a few weeks to resolve. Then, after 4 geared races, it was clear my body was ready for a break.

Work has been very busy, with Congress closing out the year trying to avoid the fiscal cliff and the new Congress coming in. I’ve had very few chances to ride outside or at home on the trainer. It’s fine, I don’t need to push hard while I’m taking a break, but it’s been frustrating. I love being out on my bike. There is nothing like the open road and lots of miles to take everything else going on in life off your mind for a few hours.

I’ve been trying to avoid the pitfall of bad holiday eating habits. With my mom and daughter in town for Christmas, it was difficult. Not everybody wants quinoa and fried eggs for breakfast. After they left, I made myself a wonderful, not so traditional holiday meal. I made an open faced turkey burger, with a 5″ pita slice as the base, followed by baby spinach, bell peppers, red onions and grape tomatoes with a honey mustard sauce on top.

Here’s what I do:

Take about 1/2 pound of ground turkey meat. I season it with Old Bay, basil and freshly cracked black pepper. I make two think patties of equal size. I then put crumbled blue cheese on one, then place the second patty on top of that and seal the edges. Splash a little olive oil into a frying pan on medium heat and cook the patty, flipping once. I place the cooked burger on top of a 5″ pita slice that is covered in baby spinach leaves. Then chopped bell peppers, red onions and tomatoes. I’ll top it off with honey mustard sauce or BBQ sauce and there you go! A hearty, healthy meal that is easy to make and tastes fantastic. Here’s a pic:

TurkeyBurger

Closing out 2012

2012 was a life-changing year for me. A lot has happened since my last post in September. I was on Squadra Coppi then, now I am on Gripped Racing. I raced single speed CX then, I just finished the season on a geared Cannondale Super X.

I finished my abbreviated road season racing in just 5 races. My CX season was interrupted with a bout of tendonitis in my hip flexor, so I raced just 7 CX races. However, I am ready to start building my base and training for a race I’ve been wanting to do since I first got on a bike over 3 years ago: Battenkill.

Starting in January, I will be detailing my training and race prep for Battenkill here on this blog. Everything from diet, cross-training, my core workouts, my rides, you name it. And, of course, pictures!! Lots of pictures. If you have any requests, let me know.

Thanks to all my friends, family and those that have supported me. I’m thrilled for 2013, big things are coming!

Here are some shots of me racing ‘cross this past season.

Conventions, ‘Cross and One More Road Race

After a vacation-filled August, The end of the month and beginning of September took me off the bike even more. I was off to Tampa to cover the Republican National Convention and then on to Charlotte to cover the Democratic National Convention. My original plan was to bring my bike to Tampa, at least, but between the looming hurricane and my work schedule there was no time to ride. I was busy lugging myself and 30 pounds of photo gear all over the place. It was a great gig, I really did enjoy shooting the conventions. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off. I made some pics I’m really proud of and at the end of it I lifted a glass with my co-workers knowing that I love my job.

Revelers dance into the early morning hours at Homocon 2012, a party put together by gay conservative group GOProud, on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 in Tampa. (Photo by Jay Westcott/Politico)

Using tape, a worker replaces a comma on an Obama sign September 4, 2012, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. (Jay Westcott/ POLITICO)

My flight coming back from Charlotte was delayed because of runway work in Baltimore. I ended up getting home pretty late and managed to get about 3 hours of sleep before heading to Virginia Beach to watch Lauren’s 1st soccer game of the year. I got back later than I wanted and ended up getting another terrible night’s sleep, only to wake up early and head to Upper Marlboro, Md., for the Tacchino Cyclocross race that my team puts on.

The Tacchino is awesome. It’s without a doubt the best cyclocross race of the year in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s an amazing spectacle of racing, fun and friendship. And beer. And maybe a sausage or two. This is the 3rd Tacchino that I’ve photographed, but now it’s the first one that I’d be racing in.

After shooting the set up in the morning and the early races, I hopped on the trainer for my race at 11 am. I made the commitment to do the single speed category this year. It’s tough, very tough, but the way I looked at it was there are less people to worry about on the course at one time, and I don’t have to worry about shifting.

I lined up in the 2nd row, and before I knew it the whistle blew and we were off. 26 of us, charging through the prologue and around the first turn. We bend left 90 degrees and head up hill, and already I’m burning a match to stay in the group. This course was hard! We twist around a power line tower and up into some trees and I see National Champ Jeremy Powers watching the race. A little chicane in the woods comes up and down I go. Right at the feet of Jeremy Powers. Not how I envisioned it, at all. The main pack was away and I hopped back on the bike as quick as I could. I will say this: my dismounts and remounts are fairly solid. I’ve been practicing them, and while I’m not a pro, I’m decent enough. Where I struggled in this race was power. I don’t generate enough. I think as it is, when I was in great shape in July, I still didn’t generate enough power for single speed ‘cross. Being off the bike for a couple weeks made the situation much worse. My bike handling is ok; I went down just that one time. I was a little hesitant when the course got slippery, though. I need to be more sure of myself and charge a little harder into and out of corners. By the time I had the confidence in the corners I was on the last lap.

Here’s a pic of me negotiating an off-camber chicane before the finishing stretch:

Holy crap, I’m IN the picture

This race was hard. I got lapped by the winner. Definitely the hardest race I’d done to date. But it was fun, in a sadistic, suffering kind of way. Cornering and controlling the bike, once I got used to it and figured out where to put my weight, was alright. I was shaky at first, and that cost me time. I finished 20th out of 26 racers. I have something to build on, and hopefully I’ll get more saddle time before my next race on Sept. 30th.

This past Saturday I ventured up to Pennsylvania for my last road race of the season, the Kirkwood Road Race. I spent a couple days on the bike during the week leading up to this, and while I definitely wasn’t in the best race shape, I felt I could fair better here than at the Tacchino. 24 folks lined up in the Cat 5 40+ race, which rolled around the 7 mile, hilly loop 3 times.

It was beautiful countryside, and a spectacular area for a bike race. Right in the middle of several Amish farms. Amish kids with wide-brimmed hats and overalls waved as we raced by. Rows of corn did little to block the wind, though, as it was really gusty. On the backside of the course, on a decent that had us reaching speeds of 40+ mph, a guy in front of me started to lose it. I swerved and braked, and boom there was a gap. Then the course turned uphill. I hurried to latch back on to the lead group, and passed a few riders. A woman from the combined field was trying to get back on as well so I told her to get on my wheel. I pulled us back to the group and I was gassed. We turned a corner and the course pointed up (again) and sure enough somebody attacked. I had nothing at that moment. I was cooked. My plan to conserve energy until the end was shot when I TT’ed back to the pack and I certainly had nothing for that attack. As we finished the first lap, the pack had 200 meters on me and was widening that gap quickly. The last 3 miles had nasty hills and a terrible headwind. I was in the little ring pushing 130% FTP and was going 12.5 mph. Not my best day at the races. I finished 13th. This wasn’t my kind of course, it had 600+ feet of climbing in every 7 mile lap. 1800 feet of climbing in 21 miles is a lot and doesn’t really play to my strength. I think the Union Grove course up there is better suited for me and I’ll probably put that on my calendar for next year.

With that, my road season is done. Cross is getting started, and I am hoping to improve in my next race. I’m off to Vegas for 4 days, I’ll be photographing CrossVegas and attending Interbike (when I’m not playing poker). I’ll update after CrossVegas, I’m sure.

August

August is an odd month in bike racing. The Tour de France is over. The local road racing season is winding down. People are burnt out. It’s hot. Cyclocross season hasn’t started yet. What do you do?

Well, I went on vacation. I took my bike with me, but ended up riding it just twice. I went to Michigan with my daughter and my fiance and we went up north to the Upper Peninsula for my sister’s wedding. It was pretty cool to ride my bike up there, the hills were long and the roads were wide open. Here’s a pic of me along Lake Superior:

Me on the shore of Lake Superior

When I got back from the trip my coach had me on a rest week, which after the Michigan trip was really two rest weeks. This was just fine with me. I’ve been riding and training pretty hard since May and two light weeks on the bike were definitely needed. Well, one day wasn’t light, we had a cyclocross mini-camp followed by a 35-mile mostly gravel ride in Haymarket, Va. It was hilly, which would have been fine if I wasn’t on a singlespeed CX bike with 36/16 gearing. Ouch. Thank goodness for rest weeks.

After putting my feet up most of the week, Saturday I went out on the bike to do ‘openers,’ a series of efforts above functional threshold designed to get you ready to race the next day. Wait, what?!? Racing in August after two very light weeks on the bike? Yep, that’s what I did. I raced The Dawg Days of Summer circuit race in Bowie, Maryland. It was fantastic. The course was great, sweeping turns with no sharp corners. There was one little tight spot around a traffic circle but nothing crazy.

Teammate Brian Mattern and I were the only Coppis in the Cat 5 race, which went off at 8 am. I want to upgrade just so I don’t have to get up at 5:30 am!

The course is a “circuit,” so no free lap if you have trouble. There were no sharp turns, just one tighter spot around a traffic circle which ended up not being a problem. I spent most of the race near the back, paying attention to which wheels I could follow and where on the course attacks could launch from.

With 4 laps to go I looked to move up. An Artemis guy went up the left side and a VERY BIG Hagerstown guy jumped on his wheel. This was great for me. The Hagerstown guy was a little squirrelly but they were moving up. I told Brian to get on my wheel and we rode that freight train to the sweeping curve on the back side and into the top 15. It was textbook. The next lap, on the backside, guys in front of us were braking uphill. I cannot for the life of me understand why people brake in a race going uphill. My legs felt great, I was in a good spot and I motored and launched an attack. I hammered it for a solid minute and looked to see no one join me. I passed the start/finish with 2 laps to go and had a decent little gap, but I was getting gassed. On the back side, about where I launched, the field swarmed me and the next thing I knew I was mid-pack and moving backward when the bell lap rang. Everybody FINALLY ramped it up and I didn’t have much left. I finished off the back of the pack for 31st. Brian was solid and I think top 10.

This course was great. It was “my” type of course. I should have been more patient and waited until the end for a sprint finish. My tactics were great right up until I decided to go off the front without anyone. I did attack at the right spot, however. My legs were great all race, I really should have saved it until the end. The Sunday team ride is harder than this race. Next year, folks, next year.

I am racing Greenbelt on Wednesday, the last Greenbelt race of the year. I have one more road race, Kirkwood Road Race up in Pennsylvania, on Sept. 15th. That will put me at 5 road races since coming back from surgery and halfway to upgrading to Cat 4.

And you know what September brings? CYCLOCROSS!!!!

Race time!

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. I needed to race. I’m still building base and prepping for ‘cross season, but I love road racing and now that I’m feeling better it was time to see where I stacked up.

I had signed up for the RGS Title Crit in Sterling, VA. It’s a pretty simple office park loop, shaped like a D with a rolling backside curve that turns uphill to a corner. The straightaway has a slight kicker for the first 200 meters and then flattens out. I rode out to Sterling on July 4th to check out the course and get a feel for it and I’m glad I did. I was prepared for the headwind on the backside, and knew when to shift on the uphill turn. Recon rides rule.

The days leading up to the race I was pretty nervous. In hindsight, I put too much pressure on myself to do well. I’ve been riding a lot and riding pretty strong and felt that not only should I finish, but I should podium. This was unrealistic. A reasonable, achievable goal would be to finish the race. Nerves definitely got the best of me Saturday as I tried to do a leg opener workout and ended up feeling lousy and nauseous.

The nerves were still working on the morning of the race. I got up early, ate a light breakfast and Madeline and I headed out. We wanted to stop for coffee and it took us a little bit to find a shop open that early! Finally we found a Starbucks and got our drinks, then headed out to Sterling.

After I registered I pulled out the trainer to warm up. Man, it was hot! 90 degrees at 8 am. It was crazy. After 20 minutes on the trainer with no wind, I was dripping with sweat. I drank a bottle of water just warming up. I got off the trainer and rode a backwards lap around the course to warm up with a breeze flowing. I ran into my teammate Brian who was also racing in the Cat 5 race and we chatted a bit. Also ran into Dustin, a new bike racer and former runner who has been coming out on our Sunday rides. He’s a strong rider and would definitely be a factor.

I got to the start line later than I wanted and lined up in the back. I spent the first lap getting a feel for the course at pace and noticed how twitchy a lot of guys were. I sought out a good wheel and ended up making my way to the front. I was 4th for a couple laps, then Dustin launched a solo break. An Evo guy yelled at the two NCVC guys in our group to go after him, but they didn’t want to do any work. I went to the front of the chase group and pulled for the entire straightaway, then the next thing I know the two NCVC guys slingshot around me. After the corner I was top 10, top 15 for a bit after a few guys swarmed me. With 4 laps to go, I braked a little too much going into the first corner and burned a match to get my spot back. Going up the backside hill into the 2nd turn I had a shift issue and burned another match to get through it. I was probably 30th or so at this point and looked to make up ground. With 2 laps to go I saw some slowing ahead and the next thing I know two guys go down HARD, just to my right and ahead a bike length. I avoid it totally and didn’t lose much speed, but the group ahead attacked and got a little gap so I chased. I spent the bell lap chasing back to the first pack of riders and finished 22rd. Dustin won, stayed away just about the whole damn time. He’s freakin’ strong.

Overall I’m pleased with my result. I was a nervous wreck for the last 3 days. This was my first race after surgery and my first race in two years. And two years ago I wasn’t training properly. For this race I honestly was worried I would get dropped and spit out the back half way through. My goal going in was to last as long as I could with the front group. Well, I succeeded in that. I went beyond and ended up at the front for a couple laps, too. The front is definitely the place to be.

I have things to build on, things to work on. I need to work on cornering and not exhausting myself coming out of a corner. I maybe had 2 or 3 really solid turns out of 10 laps. Getting at the front and staying there is really important. At one point because of the pack stupidity I braked downhill on the back stretch, then had to brake going uphill! These guys were dumb. So the braking and surging zapped me a little more than I was prepared for. Being at the front will avoid that.

Kirkwood Road Race in three weeks!! Time to get ready for it. Here are a few pics from Chantilly that Madeline took:

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FTP

In the web world, and in my world as a photographer, FTP means “File Transfer Protocol.” Specifically, I use software that allows me to send pictures to a server without having to go through a graphic interface or a web page. It’s like a back door to deliver images to. I use FTP every day that I shoot photos.

As a cyclist, FTP means something completely different. It means “Functional Threshold Power.” Essentially it’s the power you can put out while still being able to clear the lactic acid from your muscles. If you go harder, the lactic acid builds up and you “feel the burn” and can’t keep going. If you go softer, you don’t feel anything and can go for hours on end. So, it’s the power you create at your lactic threshold, and it’s the basis for determining your training zones.

A few weeks ago, I hired Bill Gros of Pyramid Training Systems to be my cycling coach. Bill had been on Squadra Coppi in the past and a lot of my current teammates use his services. He came highly recommended. We did a long ride together and Bill monitored my pedal stroke and riding position, how I moved on the bike, etc. We chatted for a bit about what my expectations and needs were and what his expectations as a coach were. I really liked that. I like his approach and his style of coaching. If you put in the work, you will get results. He is showing me the work to do, and it’s my responsibility to get it done.

And I am getting it done. My first week was about 11 hours of riding, which included my FTP test. It was an hour and half long ride, with a 30 minute effort My functional threshold power is 202 watts, which isn’t great but it puts my watts per kilo in the mid Cat 5 range, which is what my USA Cycling license says anyway. I suspect this number will only increase over the course of the next few months.

My second week of structured training has been great. I know what numbers I need to hit to stay in my zones and I like the variety of workouts I’m doing. I’m getting stronger, and I’m getting faster and I love it. My hip has been great over the last two weeks. The last couple of days I have felt a little tightening of my hip flexor but it’s nothing compared to before. I will be stepping up my core workouts in the coming weeks and I know this will help. Hopefully I’ll drop a couple pounds, too. I’m still 12 pounds heavier than where I was before the surgery and I really want to lose it before ‘cross season starts.

Here’s a screen grab of my Critical Power curve, as viewed on Golden Cheetah’s software:

1100 watts for my 5 second average!

Base Building

I’ve written about the “stuff,” my new Power2Max power meter and my new Cervelo S5. What I haven’t written about yet is what the heck I’ve been doing with these things. Well, I’ve been riding and building base miles.

Typically, base miles are ridden in the winter, after a break at the end of the season. Cyclists build base in the winter months and then ramp up training and intensity as the weather improves to get ready for the road season, which around here starts in late March/early April. I had high hopes after my surgery that I would be off the bike just a couple months and would be able to start building base miles right on time. That didn’t happen. Hip flexor tendonitis kept me from doing ANYTHING until the middle of March when I got the all clear from my doctor. I started riding more and spent the better part of April figuring out what my hip could handle. When I would first get on the bike, I could feel tightness in my hip flexor. After 20 minutes or so, the tightness would go away. The more I rode, the better it would feel. Sure, there were a few times where if I would go too hard, I could feel it tighten up and I’d have issues. One ride I headed out on the trail on my SSCX and came back on the road over a few hills, 44 miles in total and it was hard. It took me a few days to fully recover from that one, but I did. Figuring out that sweet spot of cycling performance and what my hip could handle has been crucial to my recovery.

I firmly believe that one of the keys to my success has been the core workouts and stretching that I have been doing after every ride. I spend about 40 minutes or so doing a routine of stretches and various core exercises that target the muscles around my hip flexor. These are strengthening the area and my improvement has risen dramatically. Last week, on my 40th birthday, I rode over 50 miles for the first time in two years. I went 40 kilometers out, and 40 kilometers back. Here’s a pic of the 40th kilometer:

The last 5 or so weeks have been amazing. I’m riding 5 days a week and have had little to no pain in my hip. I can go hard if I want to, I can climb up hills, I can hold a tempo, you name it. I’ve ridden with my team a few times, which I haven’t done in two years. That has been a great feeling.

Very soon I’ll be performing a threshold test to determine my Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Once I have that number, my new coach and I will be able build a proper training plan that will increase my performance and get me ready for cyclocross season in the fall.

New Hotness

Along with getting a new power meter, I also purchased a new road bike. One of the benefits of a surgically reshaped hip socket is gaining a whole heck of a lot more mobility. My trusty CR1 never really did fit right and it became more evident as I increased the miles and training after my surgery. I posted the CR1 for sale and quickly found an eager buyer.

I walked into Freshbikes with a few bikes in mind. A bunch of my Squadra Coppi teammates had the Cannondale CAAD10, an aluminum-framed criterium killer that was priced right. A couple Cervelo’s had interested me as well, the R3 and the S5. And of course the Wilier Imperiale has been a long favorite of mine.

I had ridden the Wilier before and liked it, but my biggest worry was the fixed seat mast. As I continue to adapt to my newly shaped hip, there is a likelihood that my bike fit could change. A fixed seat post doesn’t make it easy to do that. Another worry was the stock Imperiale is spec’ed with Shimano bits and I prefer SRAM. A custom-build might be pricey. The Wilier was out.

Getting a good deal for the sake of getting a good deal wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted the RIGHT deal on the RIGHT bike. I ruled out the CAAD10, it just didn’t feel right for me.

I test rode the S5 one warm afternoon and knew right away that this was the bike for me. It felt smooth, fast and responsive. It felt RIGHT. I didn’t even bother to ride the R3. Freshbikes hooked me up with a great deal, and made it even better when I was able to swap out a couple parts I didn’t want. They installed my Power2Max and I was ready to ride.

I’ve had the S5 for two months now. I’ve gotten to know it pretty well. It’s an amazing machine! It is without a doubt the fastest, best handling bike I’ve ever ridden. When you stomp on the pedals, the bike GOES. The bottom bracket and chain stays are thick and stiff and when you combine that with the Rotor 3D+ cranks you get a responsive, powerful drivetrain. There is nothing like that “whoosh” sound of rubber turning over faster and faster as you ramp up the wattage on the pedals. Out of the saddle sprints are stable and fast, the bike never feels loopy or out of control. When the road points up, the bike handles just fine. A slight shift of the weight rearwards and the rear wheel digs in and climbs great.

What may be surprising to some is the handling of the S5. This bike is smooth and stable in the corners. It handles like a rocket sled on rails. I point it on a line and it stays on that line. And not just, “oh, I’ll take the outside line.” It’s more like “I’ll take the line 6 inches away from the outside edge of the pavement and stay there.” Taking corners on this bike is almost like carving turns on a freshly-tuned snowboard. And that’s on the stock Fulcrum clinchers. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles on carbon tubulars.

If there is a flaw to be found, it’s when the road gets really rough. I’m guessing it’s a result of the straight fork, but the front end gets a little choppy over rough pavement. It’s nothing I can’t handle, and it’s not too big a deal, I just want to give as full a report on the bike that I can. It’s probably not the most ideal bike for Paris-Roubaix, but for the roads I ride this bike is just fine.

Some people aren’t too keen on the bike’s lines. Personally, I love it. I nicknamed the bike “New Hotness.”

My Power2Max experience

Once I got the all-clear to resume riding and training from my Doc, I knew that a power meter was going to be part of the equation. Being able to quantify and track my recovery and progress is invaluable. But which meter to get? I had purchased a Power Tap wheelset from a friend, but after a couple weeks I realized that I’d probably never race on that wheelset and I definitely wanted to know my power output during a race. The logical solution then became a crank-based power meter system.

I started researching the different options and up until March I knew of only two crank-based power meters: Quarq and SRM. The Quarq is what a lot of my buddies had; it’s affordable and easy to use. However, I have heard on more than a few occasions that people have had issues and had to send them back. I’m not a fan of having to send things back repeatedly. The SRM is considered by many, including the authors of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter,” Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD, to be the “Gold Standard” of power meters. It’s been around for over 20 years. It’s reliable and accurate and SRM seems to have worked out any substantial issues. The battery is not replaceable, so once a year you have to send it in to SRM to get calibrated and a new battery installed. Doesn’t seem like a bad deal. The issue I had with the “gold standard” was that it was priced like it was made of gold! The SRM was out for me, it’s way too pricey.

Late one night, while trolling the internet, I discovered another option. A company called Power2Max makes a crank-based power meter and had just started distributing in North America. It’s a German company and they have been making their meter for a couple of years but it had only been available in Europe. Over the winter they sent a rep to set up shop in North America. Why they picked Vancouver, British Columbia I don’t know! I kid, I’m sure it’s great there. Anyhow, through my diligent research I read some early reviews and comparisons and heard about “drift.” Somewhere on the internets a reviewer claims that the Power2Max readings shift because the strain gauges don’t respond well going from a warm indoor setting to the cold, harsh outdoors. Message boards threw up hypothetical situations of climbing thousands of feet where the temp changes dramatically in the course of a ride and you absolutely had to keep pedaling and therefore it would “drift.” The more I read, the more questions I had. The price on the Power2Max was amazing, was it too amazing? Was it a sub-par product and that’s why it was a good deal?

One of the best ways to get answers is to go straight to the source. I e-mailed the Power2Max rep, Michael Wegner, and immediately got a reply. We began a dialogue over the course of a few e-mails and I felt like it was legitimate product and my confidence grew tremendously. I took one last look at the SRM and Quarq but I confidently decided to go with Power2Max as my power meter. One of the main reasons was Michael’s great customer service. If I had a question, it was answered immediately. Throughout the whole ordering process Michael kept me informed about what was going on. Having been in sales previously I really appreciate excellent service and Michael and Power2Max certainly delivered that.

I opted for the Rotor 3D+ crank in 170mm crank arms and a 130 BCD Power2Max. It doesn’t come with chain rings, which is fine because I like SRAM’s Red rings and their black version goes great with the meter. Freshbikes in Arlington installed the crank into my new Cervelo S5 and I was off and running. One of the first things I noticed was the amazing responsiveness of the drivetrain. It’s stiff. It goes when you stomp on it. I am no expert by any stretch, I just know what I feel. This bike with this crank is by far the most responsive, most solid pedaling I have ever felt. Hard efforts are rewarded with great acceleration and speed. I love it.

The crank is great, but what about the meter? That’s why I got the thing, right? Have I experienced “drift” like people say? In plain, simple language: no. After two months of use I have no reason to believe my power readings are inaccurate. I have not experienced any erroneous readings due to drift or any other crank-related issue. I use the Power2Max paired up to a Garmin Edge 500 head unit. My power when I first got it is right there with what I was doing with a PowerTap. Luckily after two months of riding, my power seems to be improving ;-)

Where does this drift issue stem from? Cranks and power meters and strain gauges are all made from metal. Metal is susceptible to changes in temperature; it expands and contracts. Have you ever noticed when you go over a bridge there are metal gaps in the pavement? That’s to allow the bridge to flex and handle the temperature change. How does a crank-based power meter handle the change? They offset the change by zeroing the readings from the strain gauges when there is no load. Each manufacturer does it differently. I’m told with Quarq you pedal backwards twice. Power2Max auto-zeroes every time you stop pedaling for two seconds. According to “Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 2nd Edition,” with the SRM “(the rider) must create a ‘zero-offset,’ or ‘zero-point’ to ensure that the wattage will be zero when there is no load on the power meter. This is a FIVE-SECOND procedure and can be done throughout the ride with no detrimental effects to your data.” Here’s a pic of that paragraph if you don’t believe me:

They go on to say “This only tends to be a problem when a bike goes from 70 degrees Fahrenheit while parked inside a house to a much colder 40-50 degrees outside. It is a good idea to park your bike outside for ten or fifteen minutes before beginning your ride so that the metal of the crank and the strain gauges can adjust to the correct temperature.”

Here’s what I take away from this: ALL crank-based power meters and their strain gauges can be subject to drifts in readings in the event of a huge temperature swing. ALL drift will settle down in around 15 minutes when the metal gets used to the temperature change. Each meter handles things differently. It’s how the power meter and gauges handle the drift that matters. In my own, personal experience, the Power2Max is amazing. It auto-zeroes every time I stop pedaling for two seconds. I don’t have to do anything else. I don’t even have to get off the bike. I don’t even notice it.

Let me be crystal clear: I’ve never doubted the capability of the Power2Max to auto-zero and I’ve never doubted it’s capability to properly display my power readings. It is a terrific crank and a great power meter. It even has a cadence sensor built-in, what’s not to love? If I had it to do over again and all three crank-based power meters cost the same amount of money, I would get the Power2Max. Every time.

I’m not an engineer, I’m a photographer and an amateur cyclist. I have no independent test lab nor do I own four different power meters to test side by side and show you charts. I like getting the most for my money and I do diligent research when I make major purchases. The Power2Max works for me and I’ll continue to be a customer of theirs because of the great customer service experience I received.

Just do me a favor, will you? Shut up about the drift already. It’s a non-issue. Sheesh.

Here’s my crank:

What the duece?!?

Yep, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Things at work have been crazy and time just seems to get away from me. On the upside, I have been riding quite a bit. If I can’t ride AND blog, I’d rather ride. It’s just that simple.

April was a great month for me. I ended up getting a new power meter (more on that in a little bit), a new bike, and rode 18 days. That’s the most in one month since 2010! I typically kept my rides around an hour or so, at a relatively decent pace. Mostly in the little ring, or on the SSCX up the tow path and back.

May has been pretty good. My intensity has gone up a little bit, but not too much. I’m logging more miles and going to other places than Hains Point, though that’s my main riding spot. I even jumped in a “crazy train” one Thursday night. That was an experience, for sure. Nothing like holding 30 mph in a huge pack of riders.

For the most part, I’m not concerned about intensity as I am just logging miles and getting time in the saddle. Running the heart rate up every now and then is fine, and testing to see how hard I can go is alright, but my main goal right now is to build a base, get comfortable riding, get my hip flexor settled down and get ready to train eventually. My plan is to see how I feel after 1,000 miles and if my hip is up for it, I’ll do a threshold test. Right now my hip is great. If I stop riding, it tends to tighten up, but as long as I ride and stretch afterward, things are fine. My right quad, the leg opposite my surgically repaired hip, has been bugging me. It tightened up on me the other day and again yesterday during a 6 minute interval workout. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I took it easy today and just spun in the little ring for 3 laps at Hains Point. I’ve got about 750 miles in the legs this year, and I’m hoping both are up to speed when I hit 1,000.

Here’s a pic of me in Squadra Coppi’s new kit, featuring title sponsor Vapiano USA. I was taking a break during a 44 mile adventure on the SSCX. It was exhausting and fun, for sure.

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