In the blog a couple of weeks ago I told you I got a new mountain bike, the LOOK 996. Last Saturday was the first day I rode it after Roy got it all dialed in.
On Saturday, I didn't have much time on the bike - just 45 minutes. The sun was going down, I was chasing the light and had to deal with the inability to see the trail in some spots because the sun was drilling into my eyeballs. Even with the challenges of the light and not being able to pick my line, I was impressed with the maiden voyage.
Because I rode only 45 minutes on Saturday, I wanted to give the bike a good test before reporting back to you.
First, know that I've ridden a TREK Fuel 98 for the last four seasons. It is a nice bike that has served me well. Also know that the trail I rode today with my buddy Todd is the same trail we ride about one a week all year long, until the snow makes it unrideable. For locals, the trail is Devil's Backbone.
For non-locals, Devil's is primarily single track with a mix of terrain. It has multiple long sections of rock gardens, some loose climbs, some long, steepish climbs (aka Heart Attack Hill), some drops, some sweeping turns with drop-offs (aka The Horseshoe of Death), some tight turns, some smooth sections of trail and it can get talky this time of the year. For those that want "more difficult", there is a loop that has three or four sections combining most of the elements mentioned above within each single location.
Below is a photo of one of my favorite sections. Behind me is a small rock garden, then this nice drop. I don't know why, but I love to ride down it. The main drop is about 1.75 feet with the landing sloping away from you. We took some video today and if I get a chance, I'll upload that too.
Some of the big differences between the LOOK and the TREK are completely different suspension designs, the LOOK has two more inches of wheel base and it also has an additional 20mm of front shock. Roy speculated that I would love the way it handles on fast descents. He suspected I would like the suspension system as well. Both of us thought the extra two inches of wheel base might give me problems in the tight turns. (I stink at tight turns anyway.)
The first thing I noticed today is that the LOOK just floats over the rock gardens. Sweet! Some of the places on the trail that normally cause me some problems if I'm not on the best line, were no problem at all today. I can best describe it as the difference between smooth and stable (the LOOK) and twitchy (TREK).
In fact, on the outbound trip I rode two sections of trail I've never ridden before! The LOOK allowed me to power up a step I've had trouble with and through a rock garden on a climb. It held the trail and was stable. How great is that?!
As we traveled to the back loop of Devil's, I kept having more and more fun. I was able to talk Todd into extending the ride twice. I just didn't want to quit.
On the homebound trip, I was able to ride up another section I've never cleaned prior to today - a climb with multiple rock steps. I told Todd that it feels like I can shift my weight to make the bike pop up over the steps.
Todd (current Yeti rider) gave the LOOK a try and said "This is a nice ride. It really tracks well. What a nice bike."
I've test ridden a number of bikes on Devil's when the demo trucks come to town. I've been on some nice bikes. Not one bike has allowed me to clean sections of the trail that I haven't cleaned in four years of riding - until today.
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Congress and Federation Programme that precedes the ITU Congress meeting in Madrid, Spain. When offered the opening, I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the preamble as a presenter during some of the forum sessions and to lend my ideas to Sport Development.
Here are the provisional ITU Sport Development sessions:
2008-2012 Strategic Plan: Taking Triathlon to the World
Strategic Planning 1 - Long Term Athlete Development. "From the playground to the podium"
Strategic Planning 2 - Building the support programme of coaches, educators, resources and event to support Long Term Athlete Development.
Each country that is recognized by the ITU will be sending National Federation (NF) representatives to attend the sessions. There are several additional sessions for National Federations to attend including case studies; marketing and sponsorship; events; media and television.
The final event of the preamble to the actual ITU Congress session is a celebration of the Les McDonald era. Those of you that have not been in the sport of triathlon for very long may not know who Les McDonald is or what he has done for the sport of triathlon.
Briefly, Les worked to form the International Triathlon Union. To be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a sport must have an International Federation (IF). The IF for triathlon is the ITU.
Les has been the only president the ITU has known and he is retiring this year. A man with extraordinary drive, an often controversial fellow, he was the primary driver to get our sport onto the Olympic Programme. Getting a new sport onto the programme is no easy task and remaining on the programme is a challenge as well. For example softball and baseball will not be represented at the 2012 Games in London.
It will be over a week before I head to Madrid, but preparation for the trip has already begun.
It is a considerable honor for me to be involved in, and to attend, this historic ITU Congress. I'm excited for the trip.
Early October, I started a community discussion thread on the subject of people drafting in non-drafting races. I asked readers to chime in on what they see in races.
This week, in post 56, Jesse Hammond posted a link to a photograph of a guy using fins at Ironman Florida this year. The internet has been on fire with discussions about "Finman". (For those of you that are not familiar with the rules in triathlon, fins are definitely not allowed. Also, drafting during the bike segment is not allowed in any race for age groupers. Drafting is only allowed for professional, ITU racers.)
I've read a few posts from several of the discussion boards and was somewhat surprised that some people didn't care about Finman or drafters. They were apathetic. Their attitude was, "It didn't affect my personal race or my personal results. I'm not aiming for a spot on the podium. After all triathlon is an individual sport and it's all about me racing myself to see if I can better my own time. I don't care what other people do."
So, Team Apathy doesn't care that any rules or principles are broken as long as it doesn't affect them personally? I have a problem with that attitude - I don't like it.
It would be impossible to have order in sport if no one cared about rule enforcement until the lack of rule enforcement affected them personally.
In the case of incidental drafting, I know there are times when athletes are tired and not paying attention. They stay too long in the draft zone, they get caught drafting and they get a penalty. It was a mistake and will likely not happen again.
What about repeat offenders, blatant cheaters?
Wearing fins in the swim is pretty obvious cheating. I wish blatant drafters could be called out in a more obvious manner. They tarnish the sport. They are no better than Finman.
If it is too hard to enforce drafting rules, for whatever reason, then perhaps it's time for race directors and officials to just throw up their hands and simply allow drafting. For those that don't want to draft and want to test their individual mettle as a triathlete, they can simply choose not to draft. After all, what everyone else is doing really doesn't affect them, so draft away.
If Team Apathy members grow and dominate sport, what will happen?
Can't wait to ride, can't wait to ride, can't wait to ride...
The short of it is I've been patiently (some would argue that "patiently" is not the correct word) for a new LOOK mountain bike. This is their first year into the full suspension market and so far the bike has gotten rave reviews from industry experts.
The first photo below shows the bike receiving some post-shipping TLC from Roy Gatesman at Peloton Cycles in Loveland, Colorado. The second photo is not the best quality, due to my error. Even though the quality of the photo isn't great, I had to include it because only the best shops let dogs visit. Meeka is seen enjoying TLC from Roy pre-run. Andy Yount is on the right side of the second shot. He is a new mechanic and a freerider currently healing a knee injury. Though I haven't seen him ride, I suspect his skills are very, very good.
Bad weather is moving in tonight. Sadly, it will be awhile before I get to go for a ride on the new LOOK. As soon as temperature and trail conditions allow, I'll go for a ride and give you a report. Until then, I'll patiently wait...
Can't wait to ride, can't wait to ride, can't wait to ride...
Last week I was in New York for a new product launch for TIMEX. There were three products displayed at the event, one of which was the Fitness Tracker. (More on the others later.)
Those of you that follow the blog know I'm a gear junkie and I like the techie stuff. That written, I have to say that the Fitness Tracker is one of the coolest non-techie gadgets I've played with in a long time.
(The Fitness Tracker is shown in the wellness category on the TimexTrainer website.)
The unit comes with a pre-set calibration for stride length for walking, jogging or running. If you are taller or shorter than average, there are instructions on how to calibrate the unit for your stride length.
The sensing unit detects the number of steps you take and it wirelessly transmits that information to the watch unit. The watch then estimates the distance, speed (miles per hour), pace (minutes and seconds per mile) and calories burned, among other items. It does have a chronograph so you could log your workout information.
One way to use the Fitness Tracker is to put it on first thing in the morning and leave it on all day. As long as the sensing unit is switched to "on", the watch collects information for you until you shut the sensing unit off. For people attempting to meet the recommendation of some doctors to get in 10,000 steps every day, the unit has a count-down view to let you know the number of steps you have left to meet that goal. (You can also modify the number of goal steps.)
I decided to let the unit track my steps all day long. Sadly, it confirmed that I don't take many steps during a day unless I do an actual "workout". Actually, I was surprised at how little distance I cover in a normal work day. (I have a home office.) Those of you that work in an office environment outside of your home likely cover much more mileage in a give day than I do.
It is kinda fun to see the steps tally when I make extra effort to get my fanny out of my office chair and take a mental health break by walking around the block. (The dog is appreciative as well.) Additionally, small things like parking the car at the far end of a store lot is rewarded by more steps getting tallied. You can watch the steps get tallied as the numbers change. You can also see a small figure in motion to know the unit is sensing your movement.
Based on stride rate, the watch senses the difference between walking, jogging and running; giving you the appropriate credit for your stride length and distance covered. Erin, one of the TIMEX athletes, has used the unit for track workouts and said it is very accurate.