Category Archives: Gear

A Tale of Neos

neo

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!

Unplugged

Already been snowed on once during a run this year. Behold Lone Peak at Big Sky Resort.

Already been snowed on once during a run this year. Behold Lone Peak at Big Sky Resort.

If you may have noticed, there hasn’t been much of my usual data on the blog lately. There is good reason for this, and it does not have anything to do with me becoming a recluse in a cabin among the backwoods of Montana. Ok, I do sort of live in the woods of Montana and I am sort of recluse, but I can’t grow a beard like Ted Kaczynski.

Whether by fate or just sheer bad luck, essentially all my training gizmos have become “unavailable” since Boise. First, I have lost my Garmin 910xt (I know this is a terribly ironic thing to lose). So boom, there went all my data for a while. It was kind of fun in a way, not having the constant gaze of the pace glaring at you from your wrist. Instead, it was back to my beloved Timex. That wonderful Timex that I bought for 40 bucks at the Coeur d’ Alene Ironman expo in 2009. That watch that takes a licking and keeps on ticking…..until 2 weeks ago. Yep, it finally died during Guardians of the Galaxy. So, then I was left to caveman mode, running when the sun was in the low sky to higher in the sky. Fortunately, the sun didn’t blow up. Well it I guess it did sort of.

Flare of September 10, 2014.

Flare of September 10, 2014.

Then I remembered I had that little Strava app in my phone, so I fired it up. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it’s better than nothing. I’m hoping certainly that it’s off as my last run through Philly was dreadfully slow and painful. I chalk it up to heat, stoplights, and laziness.

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In any case, the lack of any gadgets and the return to basics is coming at a good time. I have never been busier in my life than in the past few months, and I am literally to a point where I am just lucky to exercise, let alone stick to a regimen. I’m still trying to stay at it as well as I can. Today, I was still on east coast time and I was up at 6:00 to get a one hour trainer ride in. Made it to the pool at lunch to boot.

One thing that I have to mention that is rocking my world is my new running partner; she’s always on my ass.

Nathan Hydration Peak

Nathan Hydration Peak

This is my new Nathan Peak. I have a ton of these hydration belts laying around the house, but for some reason not one was big enough to hold my dang iphone 5s. So I splurged once again and picked this up from Amazon for about 25 bucks. Lets just cut to the chase, it holds a lot of liquid and my freaking phone.

More details. It fits great and doesn’t ride up my abdomen like a Marilyn Monroe’s dress over a ventilation grate. It also comes with velcro enclosures to take care of any loose, dangling loops on the front. It’s super plush in the back and so far it hasn’t given me any abrasions after four 14+ mile runs. Finally it comes in a variety of color to suit your fancy. If you need a new hydration belt for a good long run, I highly recommend it. And no, I didn’t paid for this!

Ok, time for sleep. Training isn’t the only thing that I am lacking these days….

Just had to give a shout out to this. I had a chance to visit Monk's Cafe in Philly finally. Pliny the Elder on tap and mussels!

Just had to give a shout out to this. I had a chance to visit Monk’s Cafe in Philly finally. Pliny the Elder on tap and mussels!

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