A Tale of Neos

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It is the one. Well Maybe. Today, I want to share with you what I see as one of the most painful journeys to self satisfaction I have experienced in a long time. No, this is not a post about mind over matter in training with ridiculous references to the Matrix. This post is a more down to earth tale about man versus screwing.

First, some background. In 2004, I bought a 150 dollar trainer from Performance Bicycle to start my trip back into the cycling world. In the years between graduating high school and 2004, I had spent most of my training doing pizza and beer repeats. Since 2005, I have been using the same fluid trainer. Yes. Three Ironmans. 8 years of triathlon. On the same trainer. Here is what that looks like:

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My trainer and its tramp stamp.

In addition to undergoing a transition from no resistance to high resistance after about 15 minutes of riding, my trainer sounded like a train trying to stop on a dime. So after I completed and passed my medical boards, I decided to reward myself with fancy schmancy Tacx Neo. Merry Christmas to me!

Of course, the trainer was on backorder, so it took a month to even ship. No problems; I figured I had waited 11 years, I can wait another month. Then, in mid December I received word the trainer was on its way and would be arriving right before Christmas. Great, what joyous, perfect timing! Except for the fact that I missed the UPS guy! Looks like my wait was going to be a bit longer. Finally, in early January, the 60 pound box arrived, and I jumped like Ralph with his new BB gun.

Out of the box it went like a bacon from the pan. Thanks to the instructions, the assembly was a cinch. As everyone already knows, you have to buy a cassette to go with the Tacx. The hub is a cool EDCO Multisys. Basically it is a hub that excepts both Shimano and Campy. I slid on my Shimano cassette, but my Shimano cassette tool didn’t fit. So I just decided to tighten by hand as much as I could and loaded up my bike.

Okay, so I just couldn’t wait any longer and I loaded up Zwift. The trainer paired up like Taylor Swift and lipstick: flawlessly. A few minutes later, I was cruising Zwift bathed in the soft glow of LED light and navigating along automatically changed resistance. The first ride was everything I imagined. Smooth. Alive. No more crunching along in my highest gear while just barely scraping my FTP. It was like a dream come true….except for the loud clunking. Yes, the scourge of DC Rainmaker’s comment section emanated from between my legs.”Clack-clack-clack-clack” pierced through the nirvana that is the Neo.

Into emergency diagnostic mode I went. Like a patient with chest pain, I went through every possibility, proceeding from most to least levels of probability. Adjust derailleur. Adjust quick release. Check cassette. Re-tighten cassette. Oil chain. Oil cassette. Drink beer. Try different bikes. Get bike tune up by LBS. Nothing I did mattered to the Neo.

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So, after two days, I gave up to the one possibility I wished to avoid: my trainer was a fluke on the assembly line. Back in the box and back to Trisports it went. Exchange went smoothly, and after three weeks, another trainer was in my hand. Rinse and repeat and there I was again, clipped into my pedals. Cadence picked up and…..”Clack-clack-clack-clack!!!” After this, my mind was as fried as Jens Voight’s legs. In one last hope of desperation, I took my bike and trainer to Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. I gave them my story and waited for the phone call.

There are some days you remember in your life. Your first kiss. Graduating from college. Your first Ironman finish. Thursday was one of those days. The bike store appeared on my phone, and I picked up the call with the trepidation of Wesley Snipes answering a call from the IRS. Was my bike framed cracked? Quarq bottom bracket busted? No. After all that, the culprit was…..a loose cassette!! Turns out, a few more turns of the screw with the proper tool was needed to cinch down the cassette. A campy cassette tool at that. This news was sort of like texting your friend that he left his phone at your house. Hilarious mixed with 2 shots of WTF.

The story came to the end this morning. Finally, after three months, I climbed atop my Christmas, Birthday and Boards present and pedaled off onto the Ironman Kona course. Whisper quiet. Smooth resistance changing with the terrain. Beautiful.

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They say that good things comes to those who wait. In this case, my problem solving skills can be looked at as an investment in awesomeness. Glad to finally have the trainer of my dreams…just wish it had arrived sooner!

Testing My Stomach’s Endurance

There is that show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Well, after today I may just start believing it. Today, I went for what I will call a six mile jog in Philly. In shorts. With a sleeveless technical shirt on. And no, this wasn’t some sort of new training experiment where you try to freeze your limbs off. It was a high of 72 today. In December!!

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Ironically, the warmer weather brought out a ton of people to the Philadelphia Christmas Village. All sorts….

With the warm temps, I couldn’t resist getting outside for a run. The treadmill and I have had only a lukewarm relationship this year. I was so desperate in fact that I ignored that heavy brick in my stomach that was comprised of three fish tacos and a Dark Horse 4 Elf (meh…) I called lunch.

To cut to the chase, yeah that was a really bad idea. One mile in and I was huffing and ready to recycle lunch into an appetizer. So instead of hitting the paces, I just jogged around like a tourist. Of course, with my hotel being near the art museum and having just abused my family by watching Rocky, I headed over to the steps again.

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Yo Rocky!

Despite playing the tug of war that is near puke inducing nausea, it was an enjoyable 6 miles in Philly and along the river. It has been too long.

Overall, my life has been a roller coaster of emotion. On Wed, there was a whole two hours on an airplane where I thought I had failed a HUGE certification exam that I have been training for in Philly for the last two years. Turn outs, it was a computer glitch. A computer glitch!!! Anyhow, while it is great to be on the complete other side of the chasm (ie I passed with flying colors), my brain has been through one hell of a ride over the past few days. Fortunately, now my life can return to some normalcy, consisting of working, loving, learning, and training in a different flavor. Time for a new chapter in life.

In anticipation of this week, I have been ramping things up for triathlon again. Got in a few good rides up to two hours this week. Long run is up to 8. Even sought out the local gym for a swim. I went to a place called Sweat Fitness; you get free access by being a guest at the very cool and well located Le Meridien in Philly. (Seriously, check this place out. Clean, chic design, and great food and drink in the lobby) The gym has a pretty unique setup. Very tight, but something charming about the urban feel of it. The pool was a therapy pool and the bobbing thermometer confirmed what I felt when I jumped in….a balmy 85 degrees. Plus the shallow end was shallow enough for a kid to stand up in and pee into the wind. At least I got to practice exiting a swim onto a beach.

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It had water and walls…it will do.

Okay, back to Montana and reality tomorrow!

 

 

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