Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My first long ride with Catalina!

It is my first real ride on Catalina.  It is a perfect morning with not much wind.  I have to be back at home by 10:30 so want to do around a 3 hour ride however it has been a long week and I enjoy a little bit of a sleep in.  I decide to do a loop around Makara Peak and then along the bays before heading home.  This ride normally takes around 4 hours so I may have to cut it short.

I leave the house and immediately enjoy the relaxed position on the bars as I am heading down hill.  Instead of bars that go around like a normal road bike, the P5 only have bars that go straight out which provide a comfortable position when going down hill or sprinting up hill, and the aero position.  I start the climb up to the road that heads to Makara and as mentioned previously this bike is not a climbing bike, so it is a tough climb.  I eventually hit the flatter section of the ride and am able to get down on the  aero bars for the first time.  It feels really insecure as I am so tucked in and I am reluctant to get down on the bars even on some flat sections.  I gradually get more confident and begin to enjoy the comfortable position that the bars provide.  I head over the Makara Peak and into the city before heading into the bay loop.  This loop is slightly secluded from normal traffic so gives me more opportunity to test my aero riding position.

I am feeling so comfortable it is crazy.  My back does not hurt and I am just cruising along.  I am up on the bars and I am sitting on 35km/hour.  I go down on the bars and instantly I am going 1km/hour faster.  I get back down on the bars and continue to ride along until I hit the airport.  I would normally continue past the airport but I am running out of time.  I am actually disappointed as I am feeling sensational and want to see how far I can go but turn around and head back home.  I am hitting more flat sections and spending more time on the aero bars.  I make it to the city and look down at the clock to see that I have only 20 minutes to make it home by 10:30.  It would normally take me at least 30 minutes so I am going to have to go for it.  I start my trip home and at every possible opportunity I get down on the bars to help me get home as fast as possible.

I eventually make it home, 10 minutes later than expected but as mentioned feeling sensational.  I would have loved to keep riding but my mum is over and we are heading out.  I make it home after completing 73km which feels like it is around a 40km ride.  It has taken me 2 hours and 53 minutes and below are the details of the ride.

Makara Short Loop 04.05.13 by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Taking the P5 home...take two!!

I ride to swimming on my old bike knowing that today I will finally be picking up the P5 to take home. I complete my swim session and then ride to work.  I have a quick shower and eat some breakfast whilst I wait for the shop to open and then I walk my old bike there.  When I arrive at the shop they are still working on my P5.  As I walk in, Ricardo is in the process of refilling the brake lines with hydraulic fluid.  It now has the drink holder on the back seat with a light attached and by the end of the day it will be ready to take home.

I head back to work and thanks to me being exceptionally busy, the day fly's by.  I get changed before walking back up to Capital Cycles to pick up the bike.  I arrive and the P5 is there waiting for me.  Paul wants to have one last look at me on the bike so we put it on the wind trainer.  I get changed out of my Vibrams that I have brought with me and quickly realise that I have left my socks back at work.  I just put on my new bike shoes and Paul decides to make an adjustment of my seat by bringing it up slightly.  It feels a little uncomfortable so we put it back down again.  It is now time for me to go for some long rides and test it out before we make any further adjustments.  I take the bike off the wind trainer, get a couple of complimentary drink bottles, fill them with water and then wheel the bike out of the shop for the second time.  I make it back to work, pick up my socks and my backpack and get ready to ride home.

I attach my Garmin watch to the bike and then enter the traffic for the ride home.  As I have already ridden it home once before, I am a little bit more confident and very soon I am feeling good.  There is a lot of traffic on the way home however there are lots of flat sections before the steep climb home.  With no major stops for traffic lights and slowing down for cars and buses that pull out in front of me, I should be able to get down on my aero bars and really test the bike out.  The stopping at lights is giving me time to test the new cleats of my shoes.  They are still quite stiff due to them being new and clipping out and especially in, is very different to what I am used to.

I hit the major flat area and get down onto the aero bars.  The bars are much lower than what I am used to.  It also feels a little unstable as you are basically steering the front of the bike with your forearms.  But as soon as I am in the aero position, I am immediately comfortable and am easily sitting on around 37km/hour.  I get to the bottom of the gorge feeling really good and then begin the climb up the hill.  As I have mentioned before, this bike is not built for climbing so I am not expecting and major gains whilst going up hill.  In fact I am in the easiest gear possible but feel very comfortable.  I hit the Newlands turn off and for the first time I look down at my watch to see that it has only taken me 19 minutes.  I track this ride every time I ride home and I know that this time is fast.  I hit a slight and quick downhill before continuing the climb home.  I hit the last major climb up hill and by this stage I am definitely going quicker than ever before.  I make it home and stop the clock on 29:37.  I have just ridden faster than ever before.  The fastest time before this was 30:07 and that was when I was in peak condition just before my last Half Ironman in March.  I have stopped a couple of times because of lights and cars which has increased my time and yet I have still come home faster than ever before.  I put on my Vibram's and go for a warm down run.  I put the bike in the garage and proudly show it off again to  Vic.  The P5 is finally home and ready for me to ride!  Below is my ride home and a picture of my Cervelo P5 or as it will be known as now, Catalina.  Catalina is an Italian name that means 'pure'...a fitting name for this bike as it is 'pure' speed!!!

Ride home from work by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, 13 May 2013

Back to the shop with the P5

As I wheel the P5 into the shop the following morning, Ricardo who is one of the bike mechanics looks at me and says 'What happened?"  I tell him the story and he looks down at the rear brake and touches it then looks at his fingers to see fluid on them.  He tells me to leave the bike and come back later.

The day goes by and I have heard nothing from the bike shop.  I finish my day and then head back to the shop.  As I walk in I begin chatting to Mike and I fill him in on what has happened.  We start talking about a ride on the weekend and he invites me to it.  Whilst I am talking I can see another mechanic in the background looking like he wants to say something.  I turn to speak to him and he tells me that the bike is not ready.  I am then informed that the bolt that I had undone was actually the bolt for the hydraulic brake fluid and by pressing the break lever I have bled my breaks.  To fill the fluid back up again they have pulled out a plastic screw which is now broken and needs to be replaced.  They have to order the part in and it will hopefully be in on Saturday morning but most likely not until next week.  I am not happy however it teaches me a lesson though.  Gone are the days of simple mechanical fixes on a bike, they are now going to be complicated fixes only to be performed by skilled bike mechanics.  The last thing that I do before I leave Capital Cycles is book in my old bike for a service.  I need it to be working to the best of it's ability even though I will be spending most of my time on my new bike.  I will need it when riding in packs as well as some of my training of course any long rides or sprinting will be done on the P5.  My old bike is in a bit of a state.  Just before the Auckland Orca Half Ironman the gear shifting became extremely difficult, to the point that I could not change into the big chain ring on the front.  I struggled through the race in Auckland but it was now time to get it back in full working order.  I had negotiated a set of peddles for this bike so that my new shoes could be used on it rather than me having to switch back to my old shoes.  I leave the shop with my tail between my legs embarrassed that I have been the major cause of the problem with my new bike and upset that for the weekend I will not have my new ride.

Taking the P5 home

I ride my motorbike to swimming on Thursday Morning before driving to work excited with the prospect that I am picking up my bike that afternoon.  I have a busy day at work and before I know it is time to walk to the shop to pick up the bike.  The bike is ready for me and looks amazing.  The tube light has arrived and it is shown to me but I am not happy with it but have limited options.  I ask about drink holders.  We only have one position for a drink holder on the frame of the bike and we find one that matches the colouring of the bike and install it on the frame.  I also ask about rear drink bottle holders off the back seat as I will need at least two drink bottles when going for long rides.  We discuss the options and unfortunately there are none in stock so we need to order them in.  I then have the bright idea that if we mount a drink bottle holder on the rear of the bike, we can mount a light of that.  Mike agrees and shows me the options before we place an order for them to be delivered the following week.  Paul tells me to take the long way home and enjoy the ride and I suddenly realise that I have no spare gear should I get a puncture on the way home.  The light is also starting to fade and I have no rear lights.  I have a back pack on and we quickly mount a loan light on the rear and then Mike gathers a spare tube, tyre levers and a C02 canister and chucks it in a bag for me to use if required.

The time has come for me to wheel it out of the shop.  I am extremely nervous as the time is now around 4:45pm and I will have to ride home in virtual peak hour traffic.  I say goodbye to the boys and head out the door before joining the road and beginning the ride.  I hit traffic lights straight away and have to unclip my shoe.  It is very different to what I am used to and I am praying that I will not tip over.  I start to get used to the gearing and peddling down Willis Street before passing work and heading home.  As I hit an area with limited traffic I change up into the large chain ring and it makes a grinding noise before the chain comes off and jams on the bike.  A dropped chain is nothing major but I am a little embarrassed that it has happened and pull over to put the chain back on.  It is very hard to get the chain back on as it is really jammed between the frame and the chain ring.  Eventually I free the chain, put it back on and continue the ride.  The ride home is full of traffic and I am not confident to be down on the bars which is the most efficient position and will provide me with the greatest gain in speed compared to my previous bike.  Due to me not being able to get down on the bars as well as the stop start of traffic, the bike does not feel as amazing as I would have expected it to be.  Once I have ridden along the flat it is time to go up hill.  This bike is not built for climbing so again I will not see significant gains.  I make it home and proudly show off the bike to Victoria.  The first question she asks is how it feels and I tell her that it does not feel that different.  For the price I paid she is mystified how that is possible.  I get changed and go for a quick run to warm down before heading back home to admire my new purchase.

As I move the bike into the garage, the wheels move which is nothing unusual but I notice that the front wheel is spinning freely whilst the rear wheel has stopped. I take a closer look and spin the wheel whilst watching it.  The wheel is not spinning freely and I discover that the rear brake is rubbing on the wheel.  No wonder I felt nothing special on the ride home, the brake must have been knocked when the  chain came off and I have then ridden all the way home with resistance on the back wheel.  I grab some towels and turn the bike upside down to have a look.  The brake pad is definitely rubbing on the wheel.  I try to adjust it but cannot move it.  There is a panel that is hiding the brakes and I go and get some allen keys to have a better look.  I take off the cover but cannot move the brake lever.  I see a bolt that looks like it is holding the brake lever into position and start to unscrew it.  Nothing happens but I see some fluid coming from the bolt.  I squeeze the brake lever and the distance between the brakes and the wheel increases.  I tighten the bolt but now the brake is no longer working at all.  I am devastated!  I have had my bike for less than 1.5 hours and it is already broken.  After playing with the brake leaver for another 20 minutes or so I finally am resound to the fact that I will have to take the bike back to the shop.  I want the bike back for the weekend, surely it is an easy fix!  As the bike is unridable I put the bike in the back of the car before driving it to work so that I can wheel it to the shop in the morning.

The Final Fitting on my P5

Paul arrives and again apologises for being late for our fitting.  I forgive him as I can't wait to jump on the bike.  We put it on the wind trainer and begin to look at my positioning.  We have done the basic set-up on the bike and it is now time to make the final adjustments.  We start with putting my shoes on and again I am back down into the aero position similar to the other fitting.  Due to the measurements that have been taken on the previous fittings, no adjustments are required.

Paul then looks at my foot positioning.  He asks me to peddle whilst he sits on the floor.  He doesn't want my foot moving around too much as any major movement will result in loss of power.  I peddle around 8 times and then stop at the top of my stroke.  Paul then adjusts the cleat to my natural position when my foot hits the top and we do the whole process again around 5 times until he is happy with the minimal movement.  After we have completed one foot we move onto the other.

Paul then shines a laser on my leg as I am peddling that shows the line of my stroke and too see if I am going up and down and pushing through the peddle.  He shines the laser on my right leg and is happy with the position.  He shines the laser on my left leg and identifies a problem.  He asks me if I feel my left foot moving around at the bottom of the stroke.  I tell him that I have felt this during my rides on my old bike.  I thought it was a weakness in my left leg so I have been intentionally concentrating on pushing harder with my left leg.  It definitely feels different to my right leg but I never knew why.  Paul tells me to sit on the counter and he marks where both my left and right leg hang whilst I am relaxed.  He then puts a spirit level against the two and finds I am 8mm shorter in my left leg.  He grabs my shoe and goes into what he describes as his 'bits and pieces drawer' to try something.  He pulls out some foam which is around 5mm thick and cuts it into the shape of the innersole of my shoe.  He then puts both the innersole and foam in the shoe and asks me to put it on.  It is extremely tight but he just wants to see the difference.  I jump back on the bike and begin to peddle and amazingly I feel a difference.  He brings out the laser again and the difference is extraordinary.  Rather than me searching for the peddle at the bottom of my stroke resulting in a loss of power, I am now powering through the stroke with both legs and the laser is straight up and down my leg.  Paul knows that the foam in the shoe is too  uncomfortable so decides that he will instead build up the cleat outside the shoe.  Final adjustments need to be made including the tape on the bars and the brakes installed.  By Thursday the bike will be ready for me to take home.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My purchase of the Cervello P5.

As I have stated numerous times in many of my blogs, my current bike needed to be changed.  In my investigations it has turned out that my current Cannondale bike is not only very old it is the incorrect size for me.  This means that I am stretched on the bike and peddling something bigger than what I need to be peddling resulting in some fairly uncomfortable positions.  I knew that this year a new bike was on the cards so I began my investigations looking at all types of bikes.  I knew that I needed a time trial bike.  There is no point in purchasing an expensive road bike and then for races, slotting on some aero bars and trying to go fast on it.  I needed a bike that was specifically designed for racing.  I would use it for training as well as the Cannondale but regardless, it would always be ready for racing with no adjustments required.

So I begin my search in late January looking at all major brands.  Googling best time trial bike in the world and reading my triathlon magazines.  Eventually I make it to the Cervelo website and discover a new bike that it soon going to be released.  It is the Cervelo P5.  Looking at it on various websites and reading about it, it comes across as the ultimate and fastest time trial bike, and I convince myself that it is way out of my reach.  I am happy to admit it but I begin to fantasize about this bike.  It becomes my Excalibur (Waynes World) and eventually the only bike I want is this one.  The problem is that it is near impossible to track down.  I can't find one for sale anywhere on line and I spend months thinking that it is a lost cause.  I continue to search for a P5 for sale, trying to find a price for it and someone who  I can talk to about it.  Eventually after much searching I find that Capital Cycles in Wellington is a distributor of Cervelo products.  I send them an email along with a couple of other shops across the country asking about the P5.  Capital Cycles is the first one to come back to me (and the only one in the end).  Unbelievably they have a P5 on loan from Cervelo and they have it currently displayed in their shop.  I arrange a time to go the shop and speak to Paul who is the owner who will talk to me about what I want to achieve and whether this is the right bike for me.

I count down the days and eventually a couple of days later it is time for me to head to Capital Cycles to view the P5.  I walk into the shop and just like Excalibur in Wayne's World, it is hoisted up in the centre of the shop on a stand, above all other bikes.  I love it straight away.  I begin to talk to Paul and we discuss my needs.  He measures me and we discover the bike he has is the perfect size for me.  The bike is on loan from Cervelo so he has no great demand to sell the bike.  The price of the bike is a little more than what I was expecting but I am given a commitment that he will make this bike fit me like a glove.  He also tells me that he will include a pair of shoes and peddles of his choosing but that they cannot be chosen until he sees me on the bike.  I need to make a decision as I am told that a shop in Christchurch has an interested party and they want the bike down there for display in a couple of days time.  It is Friday and I tell him that I will come back to him on Monday.  He tells me that he will ignore the Christchurch phone calls until then.  I toss back and forth that night and Saturday and have great discussions with my wife.  The bike is a lot of money and there is no guarantee that it will make any major difference.  Regardless, I decide that it has to be mine!!  I email Paul on Sunday and negotiate a deal, hopefully I am not too late.

I receive an email whilst away at a conference and am told that the bike is mine.  I am ecstatic but then a dread comes over me that I have made a very expensive mistake.  I soon push that fear away and realise that this is something I deserve and it will be the right decision in the end.  I organise payment and schedule in my first fitting.  A week goes by and I am so excited to head down to the shop to finally sit on the bike.  I get changed from work and walk to the shop.  I get there and there is huge anticipation but I stop in my tracks when I realise that the P5 is not on the wind trainer waiting for me and Paul is no where to be seen.  I speak to one of the other guys in the shop called Gareth and ask where Paul is.  Paul was getting married the weekend prior but was meant to be back at work on the Monday.  Gareth apologizes as Paul is not in and I tell him that I am here for a bike fitting.  Gareth again apologises and states that Paul may not have been thinking straight as his mind was on the wedding.  I am disappointed, I have almost been counting down the hours to this moment.  I ask Gareth to call Paul and he is reluctant but offers to reschedule.  He asks what bike I am being fitted on and I state the P5.  He replies with an "Oh what!!!  That bike!!  Let me give him a call."  A couple of minutes later he comes back to me and tells me that we will have to reschedule.  I make a booking for two days time.

Two days has passed and I am back in the bike shop.  This time I see the P5 sitting at the end of the shop on the Wind trainer waiting for me.  I see Paul and he apologises for the other day.  I am half listening to what he is saying but I am fixated on the bike.  Only the essentials are on at present as I soon learn that this bike will be custom built for me.  Every inch of the bike will be cut and glued perfectly for my body.  

First things first, bike shoes.  I have bought shoes in the past for my bike and to me, if they fit you and look good they are fine.  Wrong!!  It is more than that and Paul explains to me that there are various differences in shoes with regards to the level of support they offer as well as what will work for my body and positioning.  He chooses a pair of shoes and I try them on.  They feel amazing already.  He puts the cleats on them and then attached the corresponding peddles onto the bike.  The peddles are like nothing I have ever seen before.  They are tiny little circles and look nothing like a peddle.  They are a minimilist peddle as I discover.  The big peddles that I am used to are long gone.  I learn that the peddle needs to be small as the power from the foot needs to be transferred straight into the bike and nothing should be lost on a clunky peddle.  The next thing to adjust is the seat height.  This bike has a carbon fibre frame with a carbon fibre seat post.  Paul wants to get the seat height exact.  Once he has the seat where he wants it he will cut the seat post so that it is resting on the bottom of the frame.  This way there is no way the seat will move and it will be easy to remember the seat height if I take the seat post out.  We measure the seat and then it is cut to perfection.  Next job is the bars and bar height.  My arm angle is measured to ensure that my forearm is at right angles.  Once these are done the handlebars are glued into position.  After around an hour the basics are done. There is nothing on the bike except for the bars and wheels so the rest of the bike needs to be built including brakes, gears and minor things such as the tape on the bars.  Another appointment is made for a couple of days time.  It is Thursday so  I am going to have to wait for a weekend before I get to see the bike again.  It is so close now until that first ride and I just can't wait.

I return back to the shop and walk in.  Again the bike is not on the stand and Paul is not in the shop.  I catch up with Mike who is another guy who works in the shop.  Paul is stuck in a meeting but will be in soon.  I take the time to start organising the bike for me to take home later in the week.  I will be riding this bike both morning and night so need some lights as well as a seat bag to carry tools.  Mike starts helping me out and showing me some of the options however as soon as I look at the options, I am immediately limited in what can go on the bike.  For example, the seat post is thick and will not hold a normal saddle bag.  The options that I have is a seat bag that will sit on the back of the seat which is fine but the bags on offer do not allow for a light to be on the back.  The light options are even harder to decide upon.  Out of all the options that we have nothing will fit on the bike.  Eventually it is decided that we will put on a tube that sits on the rear frame of the bike and go with a seat bag made by the company that makes the seat itself.  By the time we have discussed the lighting options Paul arrives.

Crash and Burn

I am looking forward to my break.  It is well deserved and needed.  But a week into enjoying the sleep-ins and casual drink, I get a gastro bug from Lachlan.  I try to push through it thinking it will go away but after a couple of days of it I decide that the only thing I can do is starve it and eat nothing for a couple of days.  I am meant to be indulging yet I spend 2 days of a weekend without eating a thing.  It is a great weight loss technique though with 3 kilos shed in 2 days.  By the third day I am eating rice crackers and after 5 days I am eating simple foods.  This is not the way that I wanted to spend my time off!  Eventually I am back to eating normally again but the gastro bug has taken it's toll on my body.  A week after overcoming the bug,  I am struck down with the flu.  Again the worst of it is over a weekend so I am stuck in bed for two days.  The worst thing though is that it is Easter.  Again I should be out enjoying myself and catching up with friends, something I have not had a chance to do for months.  But no, I am stuck in bed, my body aching just hoping to get better soon.  After a week, I am feeling a lot better.  Work now takes over and for the next two weeks I am flat out traveling and catching up.  Before I know it 5 weeks has passed and the worst thing is, I feel like I have not had a break!  I have missed the start of the swim term and begin to get frustrated that I am not dong anything. Regardless of the fact that my body has not had a huge rest, it is time to get back into the pool.