It’s cold now in Chicago. We actually got a few snow flurries this week, along with actual ice on the roads. Winter’s here.
Along with it come the dark mornings when it’s tough to crawl out of bed for a swim workout. When you have to get in the routine of running outside in the wind chill, which for me takes a few runs. I’m still riding outside for the longer base stuff until the weather gets too nasty, but time on the trainer is becoming a necessity.
All this is to say, it’s back to structured training and settling back into a routine. This has also meant thinking about next year and The Big Picture. Next season is simpler, while figuring out what I want from and for myself in the longer term requires more introspection.
Since the beginning of November I’ve been off of Facebook, mainly because it was becoming too much mental noise — more than I wanted to deal with. It’s been a while now and though I still spend time goofing around on Twitter with most of the people I follow being news, triathlon, cycling, NBA and sports-related folks, along with a mix of friends and others who are just entertaining. But I’ve found that it is less of a distraction than Facebook was for whatever reason, possibly because it involved more frequent interaction with actual friends vs. more reading updates on Twitter.
In any case, it’s been a refreshing change and has helped to clear out some of the clutter. Given more clarity, it’s been easier to reflect on my training and racing experiences the past year (and more) as well as how triathlon has fit into my life as a whole. There are some changes I’ve been trying to implement which have been positive so far, yet with more time I look forward to seeing results not just in terms of training, but also shifting how I’ve approached work, friends and more of life in general.
Two of my closest friends are now getting married in the span of a few months of 2013; I’m the best man in one wedding and standing up in the other. Both new beginnings for my friends and their future wives remind me of what’s most important. That being to keep growing and working on the best and happiest version of ourselves, whoever that may be and wherever it may lead.
This morning I was reading Leanda Cave‘s Kona 2012 race report. While I’ve read a number of these from the pro athletes that raced, as well as their coaches, I thought the following was right on the money.
“It is a different pain in an Ironman as opposed to an Olympic distance event where flat out is as fast as you can go to the point your heart can not beat any faster. In an Ironman, you are willing your body to go but you are bound by the limitations to perform under fatigue.”
Very well said and it just reiterates that Ironman is so much about mind over matter, or whatever phrase you want to use. Kona was an exciting race to watch up close and I look forward to doing so again.
It isn’t news to anyone that HED makes awesome wheels for cycling. Back in fall of 2011 I chose to go with a set of HED Stinger 5 wheels for racing cyclocross. I raced on clinchers in 2010 (my first CX season) and had a lot of fun, but the downside to clinchers is they can’t be run at the same low pressures you can run tubular tires at without high risk of pinch flats. Now before I get hollered at, I’m no bike mechanic or tire geek, nor am I a self-professed cross expert. But I competed in approximately 20 CX races in 2010 on those wheels and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. They handled every condition from concrete/asphalt to grass, sand (including deep sand), mud, snow and ice. However when it came to running pressures at 28psi to 34psi, I found less-than-inspiring performance. I did pinch flat the tires in a couple races where we had to ride up over obstacles and I didn’t completely clear the back wheel. In any case, I wanted to step up my game for CX racing and felt I could then swap tires to use them on the road during triathlons, as well as possibly road racing.
I had Iron Cycles
glue up our custom team FMB’s (32mm) and put these onto my Focus Mares cross bike. Just as I’d suspected, the wheels and tires felt fantastic from day one. They were the first tubie wheels I’d ridden to that point, but they were different in almost every respect from the world of clinchers to which I’d grown accustomed. The Stinger 5’s accelerated quickly, felt stiff when out of the saddle and still forgiving over rough terrain. The benefit of tubular wheels and tires in cross is huge, as I felt completely confident running the tires at those low pressures and knowing the masterful glue job would keep the tires in place. I raced fewer times in fall 2011 than the previous year, but still put a nice beating on the wheels and tires in every possible condition, from a hot and dry fall day on grass to loose dirt, deep mud, sand, rocks and gravel and some snow and ice. The wheels made it through a number of cyclocross crashes, which can range from innocuous “falls” to the spectacular full endo. I did both and the wheels were no worse for the wear.
CX Race in Jackson Park, August 2012 – Photo Courtesy of Eric Goodwin
Once spring rolled around I decided on the Vittoria Corsa EVO CX tire, one of the more popular road tires for its low rolling resistance. These tires have latex inner tubes and what they lack in flat protection, they make up for in power savings and handling. Simply put, they stick to the road and roll fast. Again, the HED Stinger 5 wheels felt incredible in their first race, which was a 20K time trial outside Chicago
. I raced twice that day on farmland roads (which can have a few rough patches) and placed 1st and 4th in two categories. There were the usual Illinois crosswinds in the spring that day (as crops hadn’t yet grown to block the wind) but the Stingers handled them better than I could’ve imagined. I continued to use the wheels in my triathlons for 2012
, supplemented by a Stinger disc, which saw its own share of adventures
. Nevertheless, the disc was a comfortable and fast as the 5′s and I would consider these wheels in the future. The construction of the Stinger disc is unique, in that it’s a Stinger 9 wheel mated to a carbon disc cover…so it handles as well as a spoked wheel (and has a forgiving ride), while retaining the aero benefits of a true disc.
TT setup w/Stinger 5′s
IM Louisville Bike Setup w/Stinger 5 front and Stinger disc rear
All in all, the performance and value of the HED Stinger series shouldn’t be overlooked. While the wheels may not be as flashy as ZIPP’s they certainly rank in the same class and won’t hurt your wallet quite as much. Something to consider for your next season of triathlon, road cycling or cyclocross. Thanks for checking out the blog and if you’re interested in a set of HED Stingers, the guys at Iron Cycles can certainly help you out!
Leaving Louisville – the first 10 miles out of town on the IM bike course
Posted in Triathlon
Tagged aero, bike racing, cx, cycling, cyclocross, disc, fmb, Hed, iron cycles, ironman, road racing, roadie, schwalbe, stinger, tri, triathlon, vittoria, wheel review, ZIPP