Monday, January 17, 2011

Trainer workouts just got harder; aesthetics advice, anyone?

I made two new acquisitions this week.

 Thanks to the kindly gents at the Trek Midtown shop, I am now the proud servant of a Powertap SL+ hub mounted to a DT Swiss 415 rim. Thanks, Jake!

Here's the thing: I hate it. And here's why: it's hard. 60 and 90-minute "easy rides" feel much, much more difficult with power data keeping me honest.

See, when I "spin" endurance miles on the trainer, I HAVE to watch something on TV. But the distraction of the TV is a true distraction; my cadence tends to slow as my body tries to sneak in some rest while my mind's occupied by football or old bike races. Sometimes, I unconsciously spin too hard when the action on the TV heats up. And spinning too hard is just as counter-productive as spinning too easy.

Problem is, training with heart-rate doesn't immediately catch the change in tempo, so a few minutes elapse before I realize that I've slowed down or sped up.

Not so with power data. It's instantaneous. So all those little fragments of rest that made the workout truly "easy" in the past are now themselves a thing of the past. Holding a near-constant wattage--even one that's just on the lower end of LE / Zone 2--is pretty challenging. And that's a good thing, right?

The calories expended seem about the same, but perceived exertion is harder. Perhaps I need to re-calibrate my Garmin computer to calculate caloric expenditure based on watts rather than beats per minute. Hmm....

2009 Fisher Presidio. It's SOOOOO pretty.
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Okay, enough with the wattage-wonkiness. How about an aesthetic debate? 

Here's the long-awaited solution to my 'cross / winter bike dilemma: the 2009 Gary Fisher Presidio. 

After eliminating the Surly Cross-Check and 2011 Presidio from contention because of their weight and geometry, I was about to order a Soma Double-cross -- literally 10 minutes after Jake asked me, "Have you ordered your Soma yet?"

I hadn't. I don't know why. I had the cash. The distributor had my size. I had the parts spec. picked out. But I spent two weeks stalling and dithering because I just wasn't SOLD. You know that feeling of certainty? Of, umm, love? I never felt it for the Soma. We'd been on a few dates and had a few laughs, but in my gut I knew she just wasn't THE ONE. I was so uncertain that I called Trek about ordering their aluminum XO2 instead. That bike would've been solid and reliable, but it also felt like kissing your sister. (I don't have a sister, so it would've been like kissing YOURS. And I doubt many readers of this blog have smart, sexy sisters. If you do, don't tell ME. I have enough problems.)

So I was going to order the Soma. And probably enjoy building and riding it. But I knew I'd always wonder, "What if?"

Then Jake Rasp came to the rescue. Good old Jake: builder of wheels, dispenser of advice, quipper of witticisms, courtier of Cora. After asking if I'd ordered the Soma, he told me Trek had emailed him a list of old back-stock items they were trying to move, including a 59cm Fisher Presidio in gloss black.

I nearly kissed him. And he's nobody's sister.

The 2009 uses a different geometry than the 2010 and 2011 bikes. The 59cm will fit me better than either of the 58 or 61 sizes that are currently available. The 2009is also built of True Temper Platinum OX steel, a much lighter and more responsive material than Fisher's current tubing. And the frame was made in Wisconsin, which, as a scholar of "localism" in my intellectual work, I really like. It's a "Midwestern" bike for a Midwestern season: winter.

I ordered SRAM Rival  shifters, crank, and front derailleur. The rear derailleur will be SRAM Apex in order to accommodate the 11-32  cassette I might use if I ever tour on the bike. Brake calipers will be Avid Ultimate, and I'll install a Ritchey bar, stem, and seat post that were left over from my first race bike. 

Here's where I need some aesthetic advice: what color should I choose for the bar tape, saddle, and cables? Should I go with black for an all-around stealthy look, or should I use white for a bit of bling to accentuate the white markings on the frame?

Comments, please? 


  1. If you go pink you can start wearing Rapha gear and be totally pro. Well, that is, if you want to spend the equivalent of your total bike on a couple Rapha outfits.

  2. Oh also, I already molested your frame this weekend. Hee hee. I'm totally jealous about the frame weight and looks.

    However, I am glad my frame has tons o' tire clearance and really good fender mounts compared to yours.

  3. Yeah, you have a much better rack....

  4. well, the arguement of black is easier to keep clean is lost on a gravel bike. I love the sexiness of a white saddle on a black bike. Then the pink that munson mentioned would look good with the saddle. My personal affection is with the white tape and saddle combo...that way when you cleaning it up you have that shinny black frame that says i'm all business b*tch come ride me with the white that says i'm sophisticated and enjoy long rides on the beach

  5. Regarding the power practice and watching the numbers. I wouldn't fret if if it's not 214w all the time. You're not riding an ergometer nor are you one. You should have at least a 10% tolerance in your endurance range. Obviously you shouldn't be spiking from 150 to 450 to accomplish a 230w average but there's nothing wrong with swinging from 210 to 240.

    Also black tape, white after Memorial Day.

  6. Brooks saddle, Salsa Rasta tape(it matches your aura).

  7. If I had the time, aptitude, and inclination, I'd photoshop all these color combos onto an image of the frame and then post the results for a poll.

    However, the Brooks ain't happening. My no-no zone would say "No-no!"

  8. oh i'm jealous of your frame. I wanted last year model but alas... back to scheming.