Easter well spent

For a while I’d been looking forward to Easter weekend, which would be the first opportunity this year to do some training abroad. I considered a couple of options, but after a short deliberation there was only one sensible option this early in the year: pay a visit to the start. So off to Geraardsbergen!

 

The chapel with an unknown cyclist

My parents decided to join me and we ended up staying at B&B de Pepelinck in Denderwindeke. I’d heartily recommend it to anyone who’s still looking for lodging in the lead up to the event. The welcome is very warm, the rooms are spacious and it’s just a leisurely 10 to 18 km (depending on the route you chose) to the Muur, which is a pleasant warm up for the climb.

I learned a couple of things this weekend:

  1. My route planning needs improvement.

    This is on the “most popular routes” of Strava

  2. Cobbled climbs are difficult, but a lot of fun! 
  3. Cobbled descents are also difficult, but not so much fun.
  4. I need a new charger cable.

    Electronic malfunction

I planned to ride the first little bit of my route towards Puy de Dome, maybe even passing the French border. But once I was up the Muur, I noticed my phone wasn’t charging. Apparently the charger cable decided this was a good day to stop working (it’s been looking like the above image for a while, but didn’t cause any problems before). As I still haven’t invested in a Garmin, my phone was both my navigation and my communication and it was already down to 20%. At that point I decided it wasn’t a good idea to carry on, and it was best to wait for my parents, who were also heading to the Muur on their own pace. While waiting, I rode up the Muur a few more times, so I would at least get some much needed climbing training done, while also getting acquainted with the climb.

So although I didn’t get as many kms in as intended, I don’t think all was lost. I feel very assured to know where we’re starting from, so that’s one less thing to worry about once the race starts. Also, I’m happy the electronic and navigational malfunctions happened now, plenty of time to work on that. And I still got some decent mileage in. Not sure how much exactly, because I couldn’t record the rides anymore, but any hour spent on the bike is a good one. And lastly, Daylight Saving started this weekend, which means more hours for after work rides. Time to kick it up a notch! 4 more months…

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The Bike Post

Bike frame

Sorry, I didn’t have an actual picture at hand

In a perfect world I’d have the funds to buy myself a state-of-the-art custom endurance bike, probably carbon, maybe titanium. Fitted with a nice pair of custom built wheels, suited with tubeless tires, etc. etc. In reality I don’t have those funds, and I will have to make do with what I have. Money will only be spent on what I think are the most essential expenses to be comfortable for 2 or 3 weeks. Here’s a breakdown of the bike. Of course we’re still 4,5 months away, so I might have to update this post as we go.

The Frame

The bike that will have to carry me to Turkey is my trusted Specialized Dolce Elite X3 EQ. It’s rather simple, but I really love that bike, it’s quite allround and fits me well. The bike has an aluminum frame, and weighs about 10kg without luggage, aero bars and bidons. So it will surely not be the lightest bike in the bunch, but I plan to pack very light. I won’t bivvy, so I can save the weight and bulk of bringing a bivvy, sleeping bag, etc.

The Groupset

The bike came with a Tiagra triple 10-speed. The cassette is an 11-32, but I still want to investigate if it’s possible, and if so, worthwhile to change it for an 11-34. With the extra weight on the bike, it’s probably interesting to have that extra gear available. I fear I might hate myself for saving a few quid, when I’m chewing away the 60.000 vm’s.

The Aero bars

I recently started using the Pro ski-bend clip-on aero bars. They’re the cheapest ones I could find that still seemed decent. I had never ridden with them before, so I didn’t want to spend too much money on something that I possibly might not like or use. That’s not the case though, I absolutely love them. The way they are fitted, I can still reach the hoods, so that should be perfect. My neck still needs a bit of training to stay comfortable for an extended period of time, but we’re getting there.

The Saddle

My bike’s stock saddle has been fine for my day trips, but I fear it won’t be comfortable enough for the TCR. Especially since I’m riding the aero bars, it’s not easy to ride them for two consecutive days, let alone three weeks. I’m now testing the ISM Breakaway saddle. They look uhm… interesting, but they seem to allow for a lot more blood circulation in the down region than any other saddle. After two semi-long rides I can say they do their job as far as taking away the pressure from my pubic bone. However, my pelvic bones are not at all convinced yet.

Unless my pelvic bones learn to love the Breakaway in the next two weeks, I’m also still interested to test a Selle SMP saddle. A (teany tiny) bit more conventional looking than the ISM, they share more or less the same philosophy as the ISM saddle, so I’d be curious to see how they compare to one another.

The Wheels

I’m currently riding a pair of Axis Classic wheels that came with the bike and the jury is still out whether or not I will upgrade them. To be honest I haven’t done enough research yet to figure out if it’s money well spent, so I need to pay another visit to my local bike shop soon to discuss this. And with wheel choice will also comes tire choice. For the race I want to run 25mm tires, but the brand will still have to be decided. I have already decided I will not be running a dynamo hub, instead I will have to rely on my battery powered power bank to charge my electronics. I’ll put that to the test this week, hopefully it will be flawless.

The Brakes

I’m riding rim brakes and I’ll keep riding rim brakes. I think I don’t even have a choice, I think my bike can’t be fitted with disc brakes (but I’m not a mechanical wonder, so I might be wrong). But it doesn’t really matter, because I’m perfectly content with my rim brakes, so they can stay.

The Pedals

When I first started riding cleats, I didn’t have a clue on different kinds of cleats and shoes. I just blindly followed my LBS’s advice to use SPD shoes and pedals, and never to any regrets. SPD shoes are also easier to walk with, so that’s definitely added bonus for the TCR. If I really want to, I could chose to replace my single sided pedals for dual sided ones. But I’m so used to the single sided pedals, that I’m not sure if it’s really a benefit.

That’s about it, as far as the bike goes. I will update this as soon as I have made a decision on the saddle and wheels. Now it’s time to go training!