Bontrager Node 1.1 – Nice but not quite there.

Bontrager Node 1.1 Review

This article is the first of my Practical Reviews.  Practical Reviews focuses on how well the product works and my personal experiences with the product.  Practical Reviews tries to rise above the poetic nature of many bike review sites and instead give real-person thoughts.  One caveat of this is that I’m not a professional reviewer – I don’t have access to a wind tunnel to test four different types of brake calipers.  I don’t go 100% through every feature of every product (although DC Rainmaker does and his reviews are great too), but rather focus on what I’ve used.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me at zachryanwong@gmail.com.

The product today is the Bontrager Node 1.1 (or Model #09586, as Bontrager seems intent on stressing) and corresponding handlebar mount.  Cleverly named and minimastically styled, it’s a small, compact bike computer that has a few features that made me buy it in the first place:

1.)   It’s Ant+ compatible.
2.)   It’s cheap.  70 + 20 bucks (mount) through the Bontrager/Node store.

White top, black body.  But then again, if you're blind, why are you looking for a bike computer anyways?

The product photography will improve, trust me.

I was in the market for a new bike computer after I got my 2014 Felt AR5.  I had been using a haphazard combination of a Nashbar HRM watch wrapped sideways around my stem and a Blackburn Delphi 3 mounted on my handlebars.  I didn’t like having two computers and I didn’t like the long cadence wire that wrapped around my top tube and seat tube.  I was going to make the switch to Ant+ eventually, when I got my power meter, so I decided to move up the computer purchase.  For reference, I paired the Node 1.1 with the Garmin GSC-10 (Speed/Cadence) and the Motorola MOTOACTV HRM, both of which are great and haven’t given me any problems.  I also got the Wahoo Fitness Ant+ key, so I could use metrics with Strava.

Neat packaging, everything has its place.

Well done, gentlemen, well done.

I’m not one to go over small details like packaging, but the design of the Node’s box is actually really cool.  As you can see, everything is placed in its own section of the box.  The quick start guide fits snugly behind the accessories pack.  A small detail, but still cool.  The Node itself is plastic, with a plastic LCD lacking a backlight.  That’s fine, I don’t ride in the dark anyways.

The Node 1.1 has a plastic mount bracket that the computer slides into.  There are plastic shims included that allow you to mount the Node to different diameter handlebars.  A stem mount, mounted with zipties (not rubber bands) is included.  This is important b/c it means that the mount is more or less permanent (and hard to remove if you want to).

The Bontrager mount that I bought is aluminum.  It holds the plastic mount bracket with a screw and the Node slides into the bracket with a solid snap.  No worries of anything falling off at all.  I found the screws on the mount to be troublesome, as they were all quite tight (hard to tighten or untighten the screws, not just at first).

The all aluminum mount attaches to the plastic bracket.

The all aluminum mount attaches to the plastic bracket.

Underside, Secure clip in front

Underside, Secure clip in front

The Node mount goes around the handlebars.  It has a very small footprint, which I appreciate.  And, bonus (!), it matches the black/white of my Felt.  When in doubt, go black or white.  Or just black.  The only problem with the mount is that it doesn’t extend far enough.  As you can see in the picture, it slams right against the stem bolts.  If I wanted to tilt the computer up, I wouldn’t be able to.  This really needs to be fixed because with non-standard stems like the Zipp SL Sprint, it’ll be impossible to use.

Tight against the stem.

Tight against the stem.

Now about the computer itself… This review could be summarized with a single fact: I returned the Node 1.1.  It’s poorly designed, at least for my uses.  The Node 1.1 has a bigger brother, the Node 2.1 and it seems like Trek pulled the standard scam, putting necessary features in the more expensive offering to force people to buy that one.

I’ll explain: For me, a bike computer, especially one that is Ant+ compatible, should show be able to show the four standard metrics without a hitch: power (preferably with smoothing), heart rate, cadence, and speed.  The Node 1.1 displays speed without a problem – it’s the central number, taking up about half of the screen.  However, when it gets to heart rate, cadence, and power, it gets sketchy.  The only customizable part of the Node is the bottom part (highlighted in red).  It can cycle through various settings like distance, cadence, heart rate, time, etc.  It also has a feature called Dual View.  That allows the user to view two things at once… kind of.  For the Node 1.1, users cannot view heart rate in dual view.  Below is the table of which functions can be shown in Dual View.

Capitalism... Sigh.

Capitalism… Sigh.

Green and Blue cannot be customized, Red is very limited.

Green and Blue cannot be customized, Red is very limited.

As you can see, the Node 2.1 (extra 70 bucks) can show heart rate and grade, but the 1.1 cannot.  That’s sad to see.

However, even if this was a Node 2.1 review, I wouldn’t be able to view heart rate, cadence, power, and speed all at the same time – I could only view three of four and would have to see speed at all time.  I don’t know why the designers didn’t think of this, or why they didn’t just implement it.  How hard could it be to have all fields customizable?  I like having a clock (green), but ride time (blue) really isn’t important to me at all.

Overall, then, the Node seems like it could be a really good computer.  Build quality isn’t anything outstanding, but it’s styling, compact footprint, and low price could make it a great buy.  However, it’s held up by (as is typical with a lot of products, not just Bontrager) a lack of customization and practicality.  And for Practical Reviews, that just won’t do.

TL;DR: Small footprint, good aesthetics.  But can’t see HRM, Cad, PWR, and SPD all at once.

Final Verdict: Poor.

Final Verdict: Poor.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Announcement: I’m a Skratch Labs Taste Agent

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been selected to represent Skratch Labs this year as a Skratch Labs taste agent.  Skratch Labs is a company that sells energy drink mix and cookbooks, but mainly promotes all-natural training.  That means 100% #realfood and real ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce it or you wouldn’t get it from a farm, then it’s not in their drink mix nor their cookbooks.

I found Skratch Labs through their video on how to make Sea Salt and Chocolate sticky bites (just one of the awesome recipes in their cookbooks).   In general, their recipes have an emphasis on high water content, so that they’re easy to digest (reportedly.  I just need the extra water because I drink A LOT.  I guess I have a drinking problem) and taste (and they do taste good).  I just made PB&J rice cakes.  Yeah.  PB&J.  And rice.

Anyways, it might sound like I’m mindlessly plugging sponsors, but I actually use and love Skratch Labs.  They’re humor, they’re food, and they’re real food philosophy.  It helps that everything tastes good, too.

Throughout the year, I’ll post videos and blog posts about the various recipes I’m making and protips from what I learn.

A really cool logo!

And they use minimalist design… not that I would know anything about that…

Leave a comment

Filed under News, Personal

Polar Dash Race Report

Polar Dash 2014 Race Report and Review

Strava File, Official Results

Polar Dash 2014 took place on January 11th, 2014.  It was a 14 mile out-and-back along LSD (Lake Shore Drive).  I signed up to run because I wanted to do something with all the running (cross-training) I did during the winter.  It was about 35 degrees, which was really nice because the week previous it had been ~7 degrees Fahrenheit, pretty cold.  However, it was rainy, which I’ll talk about later.  My goal for the course was an 8:00 pace, which would be a 1:45:00 half-marathon.

I don’t have much to say on the event.  It was $60, including a fleece and a knit hat.  I would have liked to have an option not to get the geat, but they made you buy it.  It was all outdoors, which was kind of a bummer, especially b/c there were winds of 20 MPH+.  No tents, even.  Sufficient number of porta-potties (which is important).  Bagels, chocolate, water, hot chocolate, and bananas after the race.  Timing wasn’t an issue for me.  Pacers at 30 second-split intervals. (i.e. 6:30 pace, 7:00 pace, 7:30 pace, etc.)

Going into the race, my strategy was to just try to stay with the 8:00 group.  I didn’t want to or think I could go faster.  I had stopped training in the weeks prior due to super-cold weather (I know, I know) and final exams.  Mostly the weather, though.  Also, mock trial.

Anyways, race started off good.  Adrenaline was going crazy.  My HRM said 198 but I was at an RPE of maybe 9 (of 20).  Looking back at the Strava file, it shows that the first mile was 9:00 pace.  We got stuck behind a lot of people who didn’t estimate their pace well at all (although shout-out to the St. Charles West girls – was fun to run with you guys!).

Anyways, pace started to settle in after we got onto LSD.  Thanks to the pacers (didn’t get their name, although they were chatting away, sigh) for helping us.  There were two other people in my group.  A cross-country runner whose coach had signed her up and who was running her 50th mile in, like, three days.  She was hardly breathing.  And another guy who was huffing and puffing even more than me.  It’s a shame I didn’t stay with them (oops, spoiler!) b/c I should have told myself that he was suffering just as much as me and if he could, I could.

I felt good for the first 5ish miles.  I was carrying just a tube of gel (2 wet tbsp honey, 1 dry tbsp maltodextrin) and ate some before every water station (which was about every two miles).  Water stations were disappointing.  There were 3 (?) total and the volunteers were not spread out at all, which meant I could grab two cups max.  I’m a heavy drinker, so that’s disappointing.

I stuck with the group until about a mile after the turnaround.  I began to fall off the pace a few minutes after we hit the turnaround due to cramps.  I stopped and gulped air and walked for a little.  The way I recover from cramps is by bending over and taking huge breaths.  I’m pretty sure I worried a few people…

Anyways, it was hard after that.  I began to run with other people who were passing me, assuming they knew how to pace if they were pretty close to my group (8:00).  I kept falling off, though, either b/c of something mental or b/c of cramps.

About mile 9/10, it got really hard b/c there wasn’t anyone near me at all and my muscles were really hurting.  At that point, it was my muscles that made running difficult.  Every step hurt a little bit.  And my feet were hurting too.  I ran through puddles and then they kind of numbed up.  Then they felt like cinder blocks.  Dunno if that was a good idea.

I’m not one to wax on the pain and glory of it all, so let’s skip ahead to about mile 11.  At that point, I was determined to finish the half marathon ASAP.  I can’t fathom why the race was a 14-miler.  Their reasoning was “You can not only set a half-marathon PR but a 14-mile PR as well!”  Anyways, it was about 1:40 and I was trying to get as close to 1:45 as possible.  I ended up running 1:52:44.  That’s fine with me.  I hadn’t trained much, if at all in the weeks prior.

Anyways, running into the finish, I tried to latch onto the 8:30 guy, who was “a little bit off, like 5 minutes, because I fell.”  Anyways, lost his wheel/foot and ended up finishing at 2:01:32.

Overall, I’m glad I ran the half marathon.  I think it’s a good experience and I always welcome new experiences.  I would have liked to hit my goals, but I realized I didn’t put in the prep necessary.  I’m probably not going to run the Chicago marathon b/c this wasn’t very ‘fun’ and I can’t imagine how hard 26.2 miles would be, but we’ll see.

Thanks for reading the report.  I’ll leave you with this picture and its caption that I tried to use for the #stravaproveit of the day.  (And if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you totally should!)

Me w/ my medal

Proving that even in the rain, snow, and wind, even through puddles, snow banks, and ice patches, even through pain, suffering, and mental I-Can’ts, at the end of the day, WE ALL CAN. #stravaproveit #polardash2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Race Reports

Nashbar Jail Brake Review

The cleverly-named Nashbar Jail Brake calipers are a budget pair of road calipers that won’t break the bank (see what I did there?).  For just $35/pair, they are targeted at riders who want an upgrade over stock brakes but don’t want to reach deep into their wallets.

With aluminum arms and a steel spring, the calipers weigh a reported 173 grams per caliper (346 grams total), including hardware.  The might not be boutique TRP R970 SLs, but they aren’t 600 dollars, either.

This review consists of two parts: An unboxing and my initial impressions and a long-term review after I’ve put at least 400 miles on them.  I have not posted the long-term review yet (as of January 1st) and have 0 miles on them. If you want a short summary of the pros, cons, and bottom line, skip to the bottom of the review.

Product shots:

_DSC6177

_DSC6185

_DSC6186

The brakes come in a small, brown box with a small, albeit very detailed instruction manual.  The manual includes thorough instructions on installing and adjusting the brakes that are easy to follow.  Manual includes proper torques for all bolts.

The brakes themselves are plain but sleek, a semi-glossy black throughout with silver brake cartridges and hardware and a small, off-center Nashbar logo on the bevel.  If you’re building a ‘stealth’ or minimalist bike, as seems to be popular these days, these calipers will fit right in.

_DSC6181

Although certain calipers, like the golden Planet X CNC Calipers can add a major bling factor to your road machine, brakes are generally not the place to add visual flair (although it can show attention to detail).  Small and out of the way (and almost always black) it’s usually a better idea to save colorful touches for other places like bars, saddle, or wheels.

The box is bare aside from the two calipers, secured by small zip ties.  The brakes include all hardware necessary for the caliper itself, although it would have been nice if cable ends had been included (if you’re replacing brakes, you’ll need two crimp-on cable ends).  The mounting stud on the rear caliper is shorter than the mounting stud on the front caliper, for mounting purposes.

Pre-installed in the brake cartridges are stock Nashbar pads.  You can buy Nashbar replacements, although I’d recommend getting the Shimano replacements, which are proven to be quality and are only five dollars more.  Interestingly enough, the brakes are designed so that the front of the brake pad engages before the back.  I’m guessing that this is how the brake provides for modulation.  There are a few things to note about this approach:

  • First, there will be more wear at the front of the brake pad.  For small engagements, the pads will only contact the rim in the front.
  • Braking modulation will increase along an exponential curve.  That means that squeezing the lever two mm at first will result in much less stopping power than when squeezing the lever two mm when the brake is already almost fully-engaged.
  • Brakes may wear faster in the front, but the rear of the brake will not wear very much at all.  After a few months, or upon replacement, expect to see the pads worn in a slant.

No pre-installation maintenance needs to be done to the calipers, although the brake pads come folded into the brake arms, to compress the calipers into the box.  Just use a 4mm Allen key to put the pads perpendicular to the arm, in preparation for installation.

For installation you will need:

  1. 4mm Allen key (pad adjustment)
  2. 5mm Allen key (cable stop and mounting stud)
  3. Small Philllips-head (pivot adjustment)

You may also need a 2mm Allen key if you wish to swap brake pads.

Installation is standard.  Simply take the silver nut that is threaded on the mounting stud, pushing the mounting stud of the correct brake through the hole, and secure the stud on the other side with the nut.  Make sure that the brake and its pads face the right way.  To do this, locate the rear/front brake based on the stud size (see above) then adjust or rotate the pads so that the ‘forward’ lettering and arrow point towards the front wheel.

From there, thread the brake cable through the cable-adjusting barrel, securing the housing in the barrel, pinch the brake arms together until they are 1 mm away from the rim on both sides, and secure the cable in the cable pinch mechanism.

You’ll next need to center the brakes.  Make sure your wheel is centered in the dropouts first.  The easiest way to center the caliper is to twist it with your hand.  Rotate the brake with your hand until the pads are aligned.  Don’t worry; the brake mounting nut will not unscrew.  If you still need further adjustment, tighten or loosen the Phillips’ head screw on top.  Tightening the screw (turning clockwise) will move the pads, looking at the caliper’s logo, to the right.  Loosening the screw will, of course, do the opposite.

Bike Nashbar now recommends that you squeeze the lever tightly ten times.  Presumably, this stretches the cable and makes simulates initial wear.  You may need to re-tension the cable after doing this.

During installation, I ran into a few problems.  Most prominent was that the included nut was too short for the front brake.  I had to use the nut from my old brakes to secure the caliper to my fork.  This may or may not be specific to my frame, but it’s still disappointing to see that all necessary materials were not included.

There are also some accessibility issues that clearly weren’t thought out.  For instance, once installed, you can’t see the ‘forward’ lettering on the back brake, to check the correct alignment.  Also, the quick release of both calipers blocks the adjustment of that side’s brake pad.  I had to open the quick release then adjust the pad, then close the quick release.  These small mistakes are almost to be expected.  These brakes are probably re-branded OEM brakes.  It’s very, very doubtful that Nashbar designed and manufactured them themselves.  These are the drawbacks of buying budget cycling componentry.

My first impressions aren’t only negative, though.  As far as I can tell, there’s no flex in either of the brake arms, even when I pull the lever all the way.  The cable pinch bolt holds the cable tight and the arms do not flex.  Also, all bolts and adjustments (including the pivot adjustment bolt) work as intended.  There are no problems so far.

Comparable Products:

Product

Price

Weight (pair)

Nashbar Jail Brake

$35.00

346g

Shimano Tiagra

$54.88

375g

SRAM Apex

$61.79

306g

Campagnolo Centaur

$70.95

315g

Tektro R540

$79.99

328g

Shimano 105

$83.98

306g

*The difference between the lightest set and the heaviest set is 69g, which is the weight equivalent of drinking4 tablespoons of water before riding.  Price difference is about 22 dollars

Overall, these brakes seem to be promising.  Extremely cheap, seemingly well made, we’ll have to see how they turn out.  I’m going to put 400 miles on the brakes and then I’ll post my long-term review.  As of now (12/30/2013), I have 0 miles on the brakes.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • No perceivable flex under full power

Cons:

  • Included mounting nut was too short.  Installation would have been impossible without my old nut.
  • Some usability issues when installing

Bottom Line:
I can’t make a conclusion yet, as I haven’t ridden the brakes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Running Goals: 2014

I’m going to run the Chicago Polar Dash Half-Marathon January 11th.  For sure.  I’m also considering running the Chicago Marathon October 12th, 2014.

Chicago Polar Dash (January 11th, 2014) – Goal: Sub-1:45

Sub 1:45 puts me at just below eight minutes per mile (8:00/mi) pace.  That’d be a good race.  When I ran a 10k for Strava’s Any Way 10k Challenge, I was able to run a consistent, sub-8:00 pace by tagging my Heart Rate at 180 bpm.  I felt like I could hold that intensity for a while.  I could have run sub-8:00 if I hadn’t run (no pun intended) into problems.

The biggest challenge will be weather and training consistently.  I’m on my school’s mock trial team, which practices about 2 hours per day.  Also, with all-honors course load, especially at my school, I struggle to find time to run and rest.  The weather on the day of the race will also be a factor.  I’m hoping for no wind.  Temps I can handle, but wind will make it really hard (although maybe with people around me, not so much.

Chicago Marathon (October 12th, 2014) – Goal: Sub-3:15

I don’t know for sure whether I’m going to run in the Chicago Marathon.  It’s an ideal race: big, well-run (I assume?), and a ‘home race’.

The biggest problem with running this would be training.  I like running in the winter b/c it’s kind of fun to be out in the snow and cold temps and it’s the only exercise I can get that doesn’t drive me crazy.  However, in the summer, when it’s 95 degrees and humid (and even if I run in the mornings, it’ll still be 75 and sticky), I really don’t like to run.  I might just bike and see how that works out.  Maybe I’ll do a 1/2 marathon TT Mayish and see how biking is helping my fitness vs. running only.

The reason I’d be able to train for this is that I don’t have any A-races at the end of the cycling season.  That frees me up for marathon-specific training.

Sub-3:15 seems ambitious to me, but I think I can get to it.  That’s sub-7:27 pace.

Thanks for checking in with me.  I’ll keep everyone updated with what I’m doing and planning and how everything is going.  If you want to receive e-mail alerts of new posts, subscribe via e-mail at the bottom of the page.  As always, the best way to stay up-to-date with my activities is through my Strava.

1 Comment

Filed under Personal

Planning This Season

I’ve been thinking about next season (2014) for a while now, but only just got around to writing a post about it.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I’m really excited about 2014. It’s only my second year of training, but I’m really eager to get training and see some good results. My ‘A’ priority races are really big events and fall into three-weekend period, which is really nice.

I used the Cyclist’s Training Bible by trainingpeaks.com founder Joe Friel. Thus, there are ‘A’ races, which I base my entire season around, ‘B’ races, which are important and I might rest for, and ‘C’ races, which are used for training and aren’t very important.

A Races:

  1. Quad Cities Races (Burlington RR, Snake Alley Criterium, Melon City Criterium, Quad Cities Criterium), Memorial Day Weekend
  2. Glencoe Grand Prix, May 31st
  3. Tour of Galena, June 6-8

Quad Cities Races:

The Quad Cities Races are four races held on Memorial Day Weekend, one per day (Friday -> Monday).  They are located in the Rock Island, IL area, which is about a four hour drive.  These races are the most important races in my season because three out of the four races (each except Burlington RR) are part of the USAC Road Development Race Series (RDRS).  RDRS races are used by USAC officials to identify upcoming talent.  If I do well, I should get on USAC’s radar.  The RDRS is a national calendar, and having three races four hours away in one weekend is a fantastic opportunity for me.

I especially want to win the Quad Cities Cat 4/5 U23 race on Memorial Day.  I think it’s specially designed to identify talented riders who have gotten a late start into the sport.  Which describes me, right?

Glencoe Grand Prix:

The Glencoe Grand Prix is part of the USAC National Criterium Calendar (NCC).  Like the RDRS, it’s a series of races that USAC designates as ‘big.’  Because there are only 18 NCC races all year, the competition in each race is super stiff.  These are the ‘A’ races for Domestic Pro teams.

Tour of Galena Omnium:

This is a great race because it has a TT, Road Race, and Criterium.  It’s pretty much the only road race in my calendar, and the only one that has a significant amount of climbing.  It’s only an hour away and should be a great race.

B Races:

  1. Cobb Park Crit (April 21st)
  2. Monsters of the Midway (May 5th)
  3. Lake Bluff Criterium (Intelligentsia Cup, NCC)
  4. Wood Dale Criterium (ABR Illinois Criterium Championship)

C Races:

I may or may not race in these.  Most C races are on Saturdays, so I don’t have to miss church, and aren’t super important.  Most were chosen just because they are close and racing is fun.

  1. Hillsboro Roubaix (March 22nd – Cool race over dirt and bad roads)
  2. South Beloit Circuit Race (April 4th)
  3. Elgin Criterium (May 12th)
  4. Tour de Villas (June 29th)
  5. Homewood Criterium (July 6th – My 1st race ever.  Got dropped)
  6. Sharon Road Race (July 16th)

Subscribe to my blog – I’m going to continue writing about my upcoming season and how training is progressing.  See you on the road!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Motivation to Run

There’s been quite a buzz these past few days since Chad Stafko wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal titled “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over it.” Most runners were angered, annoyed, or amused. Myself, I can’t quite figure out what Stafko was trying to say, as his point didn’t seem to be particularly well-supported or logical. I can’t imagine what the Wall Street Journal was thinking, either. I guess there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? But then again, I’ve always felt that WSJ has a bit more class than this sort of work.

Many people responded by writing snarky responses, criticizing Stafko and his apparent lack of intellect. Like I said, I was a bit confused upon reading it. It seemed like Stafko didn’t understand why runners run or even why people work out.

A lot of his questions do make sense. Why would someone go outside and run when it’s zero degrees outside, in just a compression shirt and tights? Why would someone run a marathon when the only way to describe it afterwards is “painful?” Why do I ride outside, in pouring rain, sucking up mud and inhaling the fumes of cars in front of me? Here’s why:

  1. For fitness.  Running is so convenient and quick, especially compared to going to a gym.  Sure, it’s a different type of fitness (Cardiovascular vs. Muscular), but what other activity helps lose weight and cut fat like exiting your door and jogging around the neighborhood for just thirty minutes per day?  Also, the feeling of being in (and knowing I am) great shape is amazing.  It puts me in a good mood, helps me feel confident about myself, and is beneficial to my long-term health.
  2. For fun.  Believe it or not, running can be really fun.  This past July, I was a bit disillusioned with my cycling training.  In the midst of all the intervals, FTP workouts, and long, easy rides, I had lost sight of why I started cycling in the first place – because I love going fast.  The feeling of speed (physical speed, not the drug, you big dope!) is exhilarating and exciting.  I threw out all my planned workouts and started riding fast.  And I started enjoying myself a lot more. (who knew that doing what you want leads to enjoying yourself, am I right?)
  3. To see the world and explore.  This was what draws me to cycling as well.  By running, I don’t have to waste gas, I don’t have to wait on a car.  I can just go out, see the neighborhood, see how people live, etc.  I can see new places and collect new experiences.  And that’s pretty cool.
  4. For nature.  Seeing the leaves fall, snow collect, flowers bloom, the sun rise and set is one of the biggest reasons why I run.  I love it!  At a time where I spend so much time inside, whether that be while doing homework, studying at school, or browsing the web, getting outside into creation is fantastic.
  5. For competition.  This is thanks to Strava. I’m able to get out and run and compete against myself and (occasionally… use Strava more if you live in my area!) against other people. The feeling of breaking mile PRs, 5k times, and other lengths is one of the greatest out there.

That’s why I run. I’d encourage you to leave ideas about why you run in the comments, or e-mail me and start a conversation!

A lovely scene of golden fall leaves and rich blue skies.

*jaw drops* Nature. Bang bang. Thanks to Chris Gin for taking cool pictures (on Flickr).

That’s actually a really nice picture. The yellow and blue complement each other well.

Bonus for reading this far!  Snark!  I’m going to rewrite the first few paragraphs of Chris Stafko’s essay. (And the last line.)

There is one kind of bumper sticker I see almost daily here in my medium-size Chicago suburb: A rectangular, two-tone sticker that says “Proud of my ______ school honors student.”  In case you’re lucky enough not to know what an honors student is (and, obviously, not being one), let me explain: They indicate that their son or daughter is a good student and that they’re proud of them.
There is only one reason parents display these stickers.  They want the rest of us to know they’re proud of their children.  So let me be the very first to offer my heartiest congratulations for achieving something I never did.  I’d even offer to give them a kiss on the cheek – one their spouse is done doing it themselves.

Why the heck are these parents proud of their children?  They just want to put the bumper sticker on there so they can post it to Facebook when they get home.  Duh.

I saw a great bumper sticker the other day.  It read “I’m not an honors student.”  I’ll take one of those, please.

Leave a comment

Filed under Motivation

7 Year Goal: Double My Power

And I’m talking all of my power.  Not just for 5 second sprints.  Not just for 5 minute bridges.  Not just for FTP efforts.  I’m talking 5 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minute, and FTP.  All doubled in the next 7 years.

“Doubling” my power is probably unrealistic. The would put me at a max power of almost 2,000 watts (Thor Hushovd put out about 1800 back in 2009). It’s just a fun phrase that generally summarizes my goals.

So, some quick estimates as to what I want my power to be in 7 years:

Type Current 7 Years (realistic estimates)
5 Second (Max) 910 W 1820 W(1600W)
30 Second (Sprints) 520 W 1040 W
5 Minute (Bridges) 260 W 520 W (?)
FTP (1 Hour Max) 220 W 440 W
Ma, you think I can ever go this fast? Thanks to Flickr user yogendra174.

Ma, you think I can ever go this fast? Thanks to Flickr user yogendra174.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dreams

Ah, dreams.  We all got ‘em, whether we want them or not.

My dreams are wild, they’re diverse, and they’re perhaps unattainable.  I don’t know whether I will or want to achieve them.  But that’s how it should be, am I right?  Dreams shouldn’t be constrained by reality or reason.  They shouldn’t be restrained by fear or apprehension.  They should run free, twist among our thoughts and actions, and meander through our lives.  Dreams are special things.  Don’t stop them from being magical.

These dreams are unfettered and untethered.  But it doesn’t matter.  Because they’re mine.

My dreams:

I want to be an Olympian.
I want to race at the highest level of domestic racing in America.
I want to change the world.
I want to influence the next generation of cyclists and give them opportunities I never had.
I want to be a national champion.
I want to be a world champion.
I want to race for an elite development or U25 team.
I want to start an elite juniors team in my hometown.

Dreams.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Life as if you’ll die today.” – Photo attribution, Seyed Mostafa Zamani on Flickr

~Zach

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal