Fall riding season in Utah is a special treat!
Fall riding season in Utah is a special treat!
Do you race bicycles? Yeah, me too. Whats funny is many times when I mention to other riders that I race, or if they ask if I race and I say yes, they often respond with “oh I just ride bikes for fun”. Oh so do I, I explain. To me racing bicycles is fun, pushing myself to new limits on a bicycle is fun, actually anytime I spend ona bicycle is fun. Actually it doesnt matter if Im racing, training or just rec riding. If I am riding my Bicycle, Its all fun to me. But thats not what i want to talk about today.
I want to talk TSS. Yeah i did a little race on Saturday called the Wasatch Back 50. It is a 50 mile mountain bike race. It was run on a brand new trail system called Coyote Canyon in Heber City, Utah just outside Park City. Anyway the trail was tough as it was brand new so it was very raw with bumps and rocks and sticks everywhere. The course also included over 6000 ft of climbing and it was very loose. Anyway, the bottom line is, it was tough race and I scored a TSS score of 413. If you dont know what a TSS score is, the acronym stands for Training Stress Score. It basically attempts to put a number or score for the amount of stress you put on your body when you race, train or just ride. It is calculated using an algorithm that is based on wattage or power you produce plus heart rate data over time and distance and altitude. It is complicated and if you want to know the exact method used, Google it and read about it. That also is not what Im here to talk about.
So after my race I had a TSS score of 413. By the way a TSS score of 400 is what most people that are actively training score for a whole week of workouts. So, needless to say a score 413 on a single day at a single race is quite a bit of stress on your body. Anyway where I am going with all this is in the value of knowing the TSS score of your training so that you can use that information to get faster.
As you may or may not know, getting faster requires you to put a training stress on your body, then allowing your body to recover from the stress and build back a stronger cardiovascular system and more muscle than you had prior to the stress that you put on your body. So, it is pretty important to be able to quantify the stress load that you are placing on your body so that you can more accurately calculate the time to recovery and not wind up wasting the training effects you are working so much on. So according to the information out there on TrainingPeaks and else where, a TSS score of 413 is considered high and “some residual fatigue may be present even after 2 days”. So what this tells me is that I want to benefit from the training stress I just put on my body, I need to stay in recovery mode for more than two days. So, armed with this information I did an easy spin (zone 1 only) for 1 hour on Sunday, an easy spin for 1.5 hours on Monday and then the third day will be Tuesday where i plan to do another easy spin 1.5 hours Zone 1 only. So, after a Saturday race with a TSS score of 413, by Wednesday I should feel pretty good. You can usually tell if you feel pretty good by going out an doing a ride that you normally do, preferably that has a climb. Do the climb, not hard, just do the climb and pay attention to how you you feel. Does the climb feel almost effortless? Your recovered and probably stronger than you were before the race. Or does the climb make your legs burn a little and feel kind of sluggish? Your not recovered, you need more time on recovery. That’s it for now. I hope that helps you figure out how much recovery you may need after a hard training session, so that you can work smarter and not harder. Get faster by riding slower, …sometimes. If you know someone that races, share this with them. They may be working too hard.
Do you watch your TSS scores? If you race, you should.
Ok, i admit it. I am a glove junkie. I am very picky about my riding gloves and I am always trying out new gloves and looking for the perfect glove for different riding conditions. Actually, I am very picky about everything on my bike and my bike gear, but I am especially picky with the 3 points of contact on a bike. The 3 points of contact, in case you didn’t know, is your butt, your feet and your hands. I spare no expense when considering bicycle accessories and bicycle components that are part of this three point contact system. If you are like me, and you ride almost everyday, then taking extra care when selecting bicycle parts in these three key areas will make your rides much more comfortable.
So, as you may or may not know, i am also a certified weight weenie and a total minimalist in my outdoor gear selection, as you can tell by looking at the bike I ride, posted in a previous blog post and the 18 pound Niner Air 9 Carbon above. So when I consider gloves for my cross country style riding, I like gloves with minimal padding. I like to feel the bar very well and i don’t want much between me and this very crucial control point. All I really want is just enough protection to keep my hands from blistering and enough protection on the finger tips to keep from peeling a fingernail off in case of a crash. Yes, I always wear full finger gloves on a mountain bike for just this reason and yes it is a lesson learned from personal experience. I don’t like a lot of padding in my gloves for several reasons. Reason number one is that I cant feel whats is going on underneath me as well when the glove has extra padding. I also feel that if you have your controls setup correctly, you should not need extra padding in your gloves. If your stem length is correct and your frame size is appropriate and your saddle height is properly adjusted and your core strength is good, then you should not be putting a lot of pressure on your hands that would require extra padding in your gloves. If you are putting extra pressure on your hands then you should figure out why by looking at those other areas instead of trying to mask the problem with extra padding on your gloves. I also don’t like extra padding in the palm of a glove as it tends to come with more stitching and seams in that critical area that tend to bunch up and reduce feedback and create blisters. So, I am a minimalist all the way.
So here are some things I DO want in a glove. I want a minimalist design with minimal padding. I want a glove that fits well with no bunching in the palm and I want a glove that gives me a good grip on the handlebar in dry or wet conditions. I want the glove to be durable enough for daily riding and I like it to be easy get on and off. Thats all; is that asking too much? Well maybe, but like I said I am picky or at least that is what my riding buddies tell me. Well there is one more thing that I like in a glove since I am asking for the world, I like to be able to operate an iPhone without removing the glove. This last one is not a must have, but it is a nice bonus.
So, what glove has all these qualities and has got my attention?
Well before I get to that I would like to mention my constant standby glove that gets me through dry spells when there is nothing available that fits all my criteria. The Fox Racing Incline Glove is light, has minimal padding and it is cheap. However as mentioned earlier I don’t really care about cheap when it comes to the 3 Points of Contact. But when I cant find a higher quality glove, the Fox Racing Incline gets me through any dryspells and seems to be available year after year with minimal changes except maybe cosmetic changes. The fox glove works well but they wear out pretty quick and they don’t offer the feel of a higher quality glove, but hey at least they cheap and available.
The Hirzl Gripp
So my current glove of choice has just recently become available in the US. It is made by a company called Hirzl out of Germany but is now being distributed here in the US. The glove has the tactile feel of a very nice racquetball or golf glove. The glove is made of very thin well tanned kangaroo leather and the stitching is amazingly small and tight, kind of what you would expect to see on the finest Italian shoe. And they fit like a glove should. One word of caution on the fit. These gloves are very European so the sizing runs small when compared to US sizing. I normally use a large in US sizing and had to get an XL in the Hirzl to get the proper fit. The glove is amazingly supple, feels like the finest chamois and doesn’t bunch up in the palm. It is also very well vented so it doesn’t get hot even in the dead of summer. I have had other leather gloves that I couldn’t wear in the summer because of improper venting. Giro and Knog in particular came out with a leather glove but neither of them lasted very long on my picky hands. The Hirzl glove has very small vented openings in the palm that are incredibly low profile you cannot feel the opening nor the seams and so far after 6 months of usage the little tiny vents have not torn open. The backside of the glove is very well vented also and keeps your hands from sweating anymore than they normally would. The glove fits low on your wrist like a racquetball glove so it allows your wrist full movement without chafing. These gloves are slightly sticky and work really well with ESI foam grips on your handlebar.
The two small vents can be seen above just below my pinky ans another between my thumb and index finger. You can also see there is a very thin gel pad covering the outer edge of my palm. No other padding is provided which I love. It is just enough.
Durability so far has been very good. I have about 6 months of usage on the ones in the photo. Three months in the fall of 2012 and now another three months in the spring of 2013. They have held up very well under almost daily riding and racing conditions. With Fox gloves i would go through two or three pairs per season when they would develop either holes in the finger tips or seams coming undone. So far the Hirzl’s look good as new even after 6 months.
And of course one of the most amazing things I love about this glove is that you can operate an iPhone with them on. I guess because the kangaroo leather conducts heat from your finger, so the iPhone screen recognizes it easily and responds.
So, the Hirzl is now my new all time favorite cross country glove for 3 seasons. So, usually when I find something that works, I buy a dozen of them because as you know everything changes every year in the bicycle business, and you may not be able to get the one you like if it gets discontinued or is always out of stock when they become super popular.
So there you have it. These gloves are not cheap. They retail for $50. You may be able to find them at your local bike shop but in case you cant, you can help support future Bicycle Accessory product reviews and this blog by buying them from our little shop in Heber City Utah. Please excuse the rough looking images on our website. Google forces us to remove any watermarks even though we pay for the rights to use the images. Thanks for reading. What is your criteria for a great glove? Let me know. I may want to try it them out. Hirzl Gloves
So, we finally completed the uber light dream bike build, and have had time to take her out on the trails to see how she rides. So, first things first. When we started this build we were shooting for a hopefully 19 pound useable race bike for a 175 pound racer. We knew it was going to be a sub 20 pound bike and we figured anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.
So the completed build came in 18.5 pounds with pedals. here is the lowdown on the components used.
Frame: Niner Air 9 Carbon RDO Large frame in black licorice
Fork: Cannondale Carbon Lefty XLR 2013 Model with Project 321 Adapter
Wheels: Enve Carbon XC Rims on Project 321 hubs (i think they are I9s rebadged) w Sapim spokes.
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 1 by 11 with 32T Front and 10-42 Cassette.
Shifter: SRAM XX1
Derailleur: SRAM XX1
BB: Standard SRAM PF30
Brakes: Magura MT8 Carbons with Ashima rotors 160/160
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph, 29×2.25 front and 29×2.0 rear.
Bar: Ritchey Superlogic Carbon Flat with sweep
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4Axis 6 degree negative
Seatpost: Ritchey WCS Carbon
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite 140g
Pedals: Crank Bros Egg 4Ti
Grips: ESI Foam Race
Thats about it. Everything went together very nicely with a few exceptions. The first exception was the brakes.
Magura MT8 Carbon Disc Brakes
Let me preface by saying that am a big Magura Brakes fan. i have tried almost everything out there and i keep coming back to Magura as my all time favorite. I am a XC geek so brakes have to be very light and very linear in order for me to be interested in them. So even when I recently bought a $10,000 Carbon Full Suspension Uber Light Race Bike with full XTR and Enve Carbons. The first thing I removed was the XTR brakes. I like brakes that begin to engage with just a very small amount of lever motion and that come on very soft and increase braking power as you continue a very small pull of the lever towards the bar. I hate brakes that don’t even start to engage until the lever is half way to the bar in its stroke and then when they do finally engage they come on way to strong way too fast. The XTRs displayed both of these bad habits, so i chucked them on my last bike. So with this hardtail build, since it was going to be full custom, not a box bike like the full suspension, I knew I wanted Maguras. All my other bikes are outfitted with Magura Marta Mags and i love them. This was the first bike where I was going to install the new MT8s. So the brakes went on without issue, however even after repeated bleeding we could never get the lever to start the engagement before halfway through its stroke; exactly what i don’t like about all other brakes. The great linear modularity that Magura is famous for was there but the lever had to be pulled almost all the way to bar before reaching full braking force which meant one finger braking was not going to work.
I have been riding the bike with the brakes as they are and the lever stroke has improved a little over time, but it is still not up to speed with my other bikes that the old Magura Marta Mags.
We had some other issues that i will report on later, and I am going to contact Magura and see what can be done on the brakes. i will also be posting up a ride impression report once i get a few more miles on her.
True Grit is an endurance race in St. George, Utah. This is a long tough technical race. There is a 100 mile and a 50 mile option. I brought 40 mile legs to a 50 mile bike race, but it was great training. Bruce, one my competitors did a great write-up of the race. http://ow.ly/jrKJg