Friday, August 30, 2013

Lifting continues

So back when I was in my lifting phase a few months back...well lets go back to week one of that time frame anyway.  I went to move the barbell (unloaded, just the damn bar) from the lower level of my rack to the upper so I could do squats.  I grabbed the bar as if to do a biceps curl and instantly felt a nice strain in my left elbow.  I literally went thru my whole 3 month cycle w/ irritating tendonitis.  As a result, I was limited on what I could curl as well as dealt with the pain in other movements off and on.  As the cycle came to an end, I was getting back out on the bike more for my cardio workouts which of course transitioned into my riding the bike all the time and working out very little (once a week and light at that).  One day I went to pick up the 5 lb can of protein powder w/ my right hand and felt the same sort of pain in my right elbw.  Ridiculous!  I have now been on the bike for about 3 months w/ minimal lifting and both elbows are still nagging w/ my right being the worst.  I tell ya, getting old sucks!

In any case, I have lifted 3 days this week and pretty much hit all body parts w/ delts and traps being hit twice.  I will now be taking the next two days off and trying to get some riding in on those days (at least one anyway).  On Monday I will be starting a basic power lifting routine.  I haven't done a real power lifting routine since the mid 90's so it should be fun simply because it will be different.  There will be a lot more math with this as it is important to know the max lifts weights for some exercises so that you can calculate percentages as each week you will use a slightly higher percentage w/ the goal of increasing your max by the end of the cycle.  At the same time, I don't really care how much I can lift but I know that I'll get into it.

I actually have some goals in mind.  One of which is a concern of my wifes.  She really doesn't want me to get any bigger.  I on the other hand hate that I have lost so much size on my upper body.  I worked hard to get that only to lose it just as fast.  But lifting and cycling don't mix very well.  Honestly, I'm not interested in putting on more weight.  I actually want to lean out in the mid section but at the same time put on a little muscle on my arms, shoulders, and traps all while staying around the same weight.  It really shouldn't be too hard.  I do pretty well on my diet and I actually enjoy cardio (riding my bike).  W/ a 3 day workout program, it will provide me the time to still get out on the bike.  I may not be riding as intensely but it should allow the transition back into longer miles to be a little smoother than it was this last go around.

So the question is why do power lifting over something like cross fit or a more traditional program?  In this case, it's simply to do something different for a little while.  I have been doing traditional workouts for quite a while and it will be nice to switch it up a bit.  I do suspect that by Dec/Jan, I will probably transition into some more HIT style training and cross fit stuff.  I'll get into that when the time comes.

I ordered some new wrist wraps (Inzer 20") as well as some Schiek elbow supports.  They are thicker than what you can buy at a sports store (I already have one of those).  I don't expect them to do wonders but I'm sure they will provide a little more support than what I have.  The wrist wraps are simply to replace the ones I bought some 7 or 8 years ago.  I typically only use them on heavier chest or shoulder presses.  I do my best to only use supports when needed.  I don't believe in wrapping up my knees in an effort to lift more weight.  In stead, I only wrap my knees if I feel they need more support.  If the weight is too heavy and my form is sacrificed then I know it is time to back it off a little bit until I'm strong enough to make the weight. I do wear a belt on squats and deads once the weight hits 225+ and so far that has served me well.

As a side note, I did get out on a little 10 mile ride today.  My goal was to stay below zone 3 as far as my HR which meant just tooling along.  This was to help me to be good and warmed up for doing some squats.  Again, I didn't go heavy at all.  My hamstrings strain pretty easily so no need to go heavy on squats for a while.  I'll work my way back up to that.  Later in the afternoon, I worked out again and did shoulders and some dead lifts.  Ended up lifting 245 lbs for deads.  I was at 405 3-4 months ago.  I know I could have pulled more today but I only have 255 lbs here at the house so I will definitely have to go back to the gym once the percentages start going up.  Overall, it was a good day and the 2 days off will be welcomed even though I'm excited about getting the program going.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back in the GYM

Well, I have been riding a fair amount lately.  What I mean is that I am getting out more and when I can anyway.  None the less, my weight has dropped back down.  I sorta took a break from riding back in late winter/early spring and went back into the gym.  I basically didn't like the fact that I had lost a lot of muscle in my upper body.  Of course I was riding better but I just didn't like the way I was looking.  After about 3 months in the gym I went from 176 up to 198 lbs.  I was definitely bigger and my riding sucked.  But I put on some size all over.  It was neat but at the same time sucked.  A lot of my clothes weren't fitting and I was thankful that the weather broke and I could start wearing shorts.  Now I'm back down to 180 or so.  All my shirts are looser now but I am still having issues with pants.  I guess I kept the size on my legs since I'm still riding all the time but not doing much for the upper body.  So with that in mind, I started lifting again this evening.  I figure I'll focus on my upper body while I can still get out and ride (weather permitting I mean).  This doesn't mean I won't be doing some leg work tho.

I had been working out to some degree on Tuesday nights when I had a training appt.  But the guy I train is finally ready to go at it on his own so I figured that since I didn't have an appointment I might as well go ahead and workout on my own.  So I basically did back and shoulders.

I was smart enough to make sure that I didn't go too heavy but rather shoot for a lighter weight, more reps, and less rest.  I did a couple of compound movements (deads and cleans), some bent over bb rows, lat pull downs before moving to shoulders.  The shoulder workout was somewhat easy yet breath taking.  4 exercises, 3-4 sets, with reps starting at 16-20 and dropping to no less than 8 with only 30 seconds rest between each set.  IN the end, my shoulders got a decent pump and I was sucking wind.

As far as the bike goes, well, I haven't been out on the MTB in a while.  When I have had the time, I have booked out on the road bike.  I typically try to get out and ride at lunch as it frees up my afternoon to play dad/husband.  That has gone well but I do want to get back out on the trail.  Perhaps that will happen later this week depending on the weather.

The road bike has been coming along but I am definitely at a point where I either need to drop a ton of cash into it for some wheels or just ride it.  I have opted to just ride.  Much cheaper!  The weight is down to 16 lbs 3 oz with the lighter wheels and I guess I'm content with that at this point.  It rides nice, shifts great and best yet, is lighter than most of the carbon bikes my friends ride (week end warrior folks).  Better yet, it still has the classic Italian look to it!

So other than taking a couple of rest days this past week due to a surgery leaving me with 9 stitches in my right sideburn area.  I had some skin cancer that I had to get removed.  But after two rest days and the swelling down, I slapped a couple of bandaids on that bad boy and was back out on the bike!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Been a while

I guess it has been a while since I have posted anything up.  Probably about as long as it has been since I have been out on the single speed.  Between weather, kids schedules, work, personal training appointment (part time work)...I just haven't been out on it.  I have however, been out on the road bike quite a bit.  That of course has it's own issues.

So, there have been some changes made to the Bianchi since I last posted.  Nothing too major mind you but still some good stuff.  I finally went ahead and picked up a used set of Record Ergo 10 spd shifters off ebay. Like a dork, I forgot to weigh them before installing them.  Oh well.  I also swapped out my ITM flat top bar for the 3T Ergosum LTD that I had.  For whatever reason, the newer V3 style Centaur levers wouldn't tighten down enough on them and kept slipping but the older V2 levers work just fine.  The bars are a few grams (8) heavier than the ITM's but they are more comfy to me.

I also upgraded my headset finally to a green Tune!  I think it adds enough pop in color to the bike and am quite happy with the weight of it.  It is about 30g lighter than the FSA I took off the bike.

I swapped all my cables back to Jag Wires (in celeste of course).  They weigh more than what was on there but they feel so much smoother.  Quite happy with that actually.

I pulled the KCNC seat post and swapped it for a Bontrager carbon one.  I added about 15g but the clamp doesn't rub on my inner thigh's putting holes in all my shorts.  

I picked up two new pairs of shorts (bibs) because I have holes in 3 pairs of my old ones from the stupid seat clamp.

Got some new cleats for some new shoes that I picked up off ebay.  Yep, I bought a pair of used shoes.  I can tell they were worn due to a little bit of grease on the inside of the right shoe (must have hit his chain or chainring) but other than that there was not a single mark on them!  Bontrager RXL's in white for $71 shipped!

Ordered new Hoodz for the brake levers as the stock ones were worn out and had a couple of tears in them.  I ordered them in Celeste and they actually look pretty good on the bike.  Quite pleased as they feel more comfy that the stock ones.

I think that is about it as far as the parts go (oh, picked up another set of tires for the heavier wheels-Conti 4000s).  Weighed the bike and it came in at 16.3 lbs.  Not bad  really.  I think the low weight before was 16.4.

So the big issue at this point in my cycling life is cramps.  I still get them.  I have been doing a lot of research on dehydration, electrolyte replenishment and training.  I have come to the conclusion that I actually do quite well with my hydration and diet and am simply at a point where I need to incorporate some actual training into my week rather than just going for a ride.  I have basically hit a point where I am riding harder than my body can handle for an extended period of time.  I start cramping around the 30 mile mark.  At the same time I don't feel like I am out of energy or bonking.  I actually feel great w/ the exception of the muscle cramps.

With that said, I will now be making it a point to have either an interval day or a hill climb day that will be an official training day.  It won't be about picking a hilly route but rather doing repeats on a single climb or doing intervals on a flat.  Both suck!  But both of them will really go a long ways to helping me get stronger and develop the ability to ride further down the road.  When the weather breaks and things get cold (if they get cold) then I will switch to doing intervals on the spin bike in the basement again.  For whatever reason, I stopped doing them and just simply started going for rides and enjoying it.  Guess I will have to suffer at least once a week if I want to be able to do a century ride some time next year or keep up with some group rides (which I probably won't have the time to do actually).

Yep, that is about it.  Life rolls on and things have been hectic at work as usual.  I'm able to dip out at lunch for a quick ride which has been my saving grace really but other than that, time is precious!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Training Supplements

Ok, this will probably be a bit of a long one.  I basically posted something up on a bike forum a few months back about over the counter performance enhancers.  Testosterone Boosters basically however, I will not limit this to discussion to only that as the thread also discussed items that help to increase your endurance.  Products such as Optigen and Sport Legs as well as recovery drinks.

Now I caught some flack from fellow board members that feel that these OTC products are simply doping at its lowest level.  Perhaps they are in a sense and I am sure that some of the testing guidelines might even consider you testing positive for some over the counter products.  But I don't know all the rules specifically.  I also don't race any more so it really isn't an issue for me.  Even when I did race at a CAT 3 level, blood testing wasn't even an issue at local events because it costs too much and it wasn't like we were winning great sums of money either.  Nor did we have huge factory sponsorships on our backs. 

So things sort of got blown out of proportion when I mentioned trying to come up with a supplement stack that would basically mimic what pro riders were doing (the real doping plan).  The idea was to take an otc test booster in combination with an endurance product such as Optigen HP.  I thought it was a sound idea even though I knew it wouldn't have the same results as a real cycle such as Test and EPO but both of those are illegal and expensive.  But could such otc products offer a bennefit at all to the local weekend warrior.

Unfortunately, the weather and my daily schedule crept in and I haven't been out on the bike as much.  Instead I started lifting again because I needed to be doing something.  I decided I would go ahead and give a test booster a try anyway since I already know what Optigen HP can do for you. (more on that later)

I picked up some Muscle Tech Premium Test Booster from Sams Club for about $19.  I have been taking it for about 6 weeks now.  I am basically on my second bottle and take 4 pills a day first thing in the morning.  I have no intent of buying another bottle at this point.  That is not to say that it hasn't worked at all mind you.  I just don't think that it is worth my continuing with it in my plan.  I don't really feel any stronger and I can't say that the weights I am lifting have increased much faster over not taking the product.  I can't say that I recover any quicker either.  But I do think it has contributed to my gains over all and is simply part of the big picture if you will. 

I honestly believe that I could stop taking any one of the supplements I am on and not see a very noticeable difference in improvments right away.  However, they all seem to come together to make a pretty good muscle building stack if you will.

So this is what I am currently taking on a daily basis:

1.  Muscle Tech test booster (4 pills) every morning when I get up.

2.  Muscle Tech Whey protein (1-2 scoops) every morning when I get up.  I may take another shake later in the day after a workout (maybe an hour or so post workout) if I am not already eating a meal.  If I feel hungry later in the evening or want some sort of snack after say 8 PM then I may take another one.  But really, I am trying to focus on getting the bulk of my protein from whole foods instead.

3.  Muscle Tech pre workout drink:  I typically take this before I workout.  Usually just a half dose (1 scoop) unless I am planning on a hard workout like for legs or shoulders.  This particular drink also has creatine in it which is a bit of a plus as it helps to increase blood cell size which means that each cell can now carry more nutrients to the muscles.  It also has nitric oxicide which helps to generate a muscle pump.  Again this is good because we are trying to get all the nutrients we can to the actual muscles.  However, on a bicycle ride, I wouldn't want to take this as your legs would just feel like they were going to explode.

4.  Vitamin Shoppe BCAA's (1 scoop) right after I workout.  I think this would also be good to take as soon as you wake up but because money is a factor here I have tried to keep it just for post workout as I can't afford to go thru it that fast.  Why BCAA's if you are taking a protein shake?  Well, even though Whey protein is one of the faster digesting proteins, your body still has to break it down to micro nutrient level.  Basically your body is trying to get the BCAA's out of it.  So when your body is craving nutrients right after you workout why not skip that step and give it what it needs?  So I take a BCAA drink right after mixed with my recovery drink...

5.  Vertigo Recovery drink (1-2 scoops).  Again this depends on how depleted I feel.  I typically take just one scoop as it is basically a carbohydrate drink.  My goal is to put on some lean muscle so I am doing a bit of carb restriction if you will.  I try to limit how many carbs I am taking in so consuming a huge amount at one time right after a workout tends to bog down my metabolism.  But if I had a hard workout then I will take the full dose which amounts to about 70 carbs and 240 calories.  Again, why the drink?  Recovery drinks are designed to help preserve muscle tissue and help to jump start the recovery process.  You don't get bigger or stronger when you are actually working out.  You grow when you are resting!  These drinks help to replenish your bodies glycogen stores which inturn helps to preserve muscle tissue.

This particular powder is flavorless so you can mix it with just about anything.  I normally mix one scoop of my BCAA's powder with it since its a melon flavor and that is what I drink as soon as I'm done working out.

So, as I mentioned, I think that the combination of the supplements along with a strong and relatively clean diet really do make a difference.  I feel that I couldn't get as far as I have with just diet alone though that has helped tremendously.  I'm still a little up in the air as far as the recovery drink but that is only because I want to stay lean and it is just extra calories.  But I can't say that I have put on a lot of fat so far so I guess its ok.  I don't plan on continuing on with the Test Booster when my supply runs out in a couple of weeks.  We will then see if there is any noticeable loss in strength.  Right now, if there has been any gain it has been subtle.

Over the past 6-8 weeks I have been keeping an eye on my weight.  I started out back in January at a weight of about 176 or so.  Today I hopped on the scale at 191.  I'm not really looking to gain weight any more so of course this concerns me and I know I need to get some more cardio into my daily life.  Once the weather breaks this will be much easier mind you.  For now however, I have to watch my carb intake and try to go at it from that angle.

My goals with all of this is to put on a little more muscle.  I don't want to be huge mind you but I still feel that for my height, I still look somewhat lanky.  I'm 5'9" and weigh 190 for crying out loud and I still don't think I look stocky in the least!  Hell, half the people that know me can't believe I weigh 190.  In the end, I could very well hit 200 lbs before I really start to focus on leaning out but summer is just around the corner so I only have so much time to work on this before I have to start leaning out so I don't look like a pig at the pool this summer!

As far as the combination of the otc test booster and say Optigen HP, I think it would work but I honestly haven't seen a lot of results from the test booster.  My current opinion is go with a similar supplement plan as I have listed above and add in the Optigen HP and remove the Test booster.  I think this would net you the best results for otc products but that is just my opinion.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time for a change

Well, I have spent quite a bit of time riding the bike over the past couple of years and I guess mentally, I just needed a bit of a break.  Not that the weather and the kids schedule didn't help with that mind you.  None the less, I have been on the bike far less since late January.  Once we started getting some crappy weather I found myself working out instead.  All of a sudden lifting seemed exciting again and my body was pretty much healed up.  Don't get me wrong, I still want to get out and ride but the trails are soaked and we have had nothing but windy days lately (and rain/sleet).  But the gym has been warm and inviting.  Even the gym in my basement has been fun.

I did get out for a ride last weekend with a couple of friends.  The trails really had some wet/muddy spots in them and like a dork I had my racing wheel set up on (w/ racing tires if you will).  It was nice to hear the loud buzz of the Hope cassette hub but dang if my legs didn't get tired!  My buddies were on their full carbon, fully geared, and fully suspend rigs and I was on my 32:17 rigid SS.  At about the 9 mile mark I started feeling fatigued and just wanted the ride to end.  It was starting to not be fun and felt more like training than a good time.

With that in mind, I realize why things had changed.  Mentally, I simply needed a break.  Riding was feeling more like training than fun.  Every ride had a purpose.  I either needed to get in a certain distance, so many intervals, so many climbs or sprints.  The goal had become keeping up with the fast group or not getting dropped in a road group ride and staying at the front.  Hell, none of these were even races!  Sure I had a sense of pride when the ride was over but I really didn't have a lot of fun while I was actually pedaling.  I had more fun building the bikes and waiting for parts to show up than I was actually having being out on it!  Certainly it is not supposed to be this way.

The gym of course is a change.  It provides new challenges and new goals.  The odd part is that it is training period.  At the same time it doesn't really feel like it.  In my mind I have set goals but they are not so much about how much weight I lift or how much I weigh.  Instead, I have a few areas that I would like to see improve.  Basically, I want to make my arms and shoulders a little bigger.  At least that was how it all started.

I have pretty much been lifting about 4-5 days a week now for the past 2.5 months.  I'm still excited about it though I have put on some weight.  Back in late Dec/early Jan I weighed in at about 172 lbs.  Today at the gym I hopped on the scale and it read 185.5 lbs.  While that is a bit of a jump mind you I assure you, last week it said 190.5 lbs!  I realized that I wasn't just putting on muscle here so I cut back my carb intake and started trying to do some low impact cardio (spin bike or elliptical) at a slow pace but keeping my HR between 110-120 bpm.  That seems to be helping...I'm frickn starving and want a Big Mac tho!

Ok, so now you know the story.  I'm lifting again and have gotten bigger.  My arms have already grown about 1/2" (not much but I did measure them in the begining and can see a measurable difference).  My traps look taller and my shoulders are looking rounder.  Guess I am on my way to achieving my goals there.

I started taking some supplements about a month ago as my diet wasn't quite where it needed to be then.  Basically just a prework out drink and some whey protein post workout.  Then about 2 weeks ago, I changed things a bit.  I still take my pre workout drink but post workout I take a recovery drink that helps to replenish your glycogen stores as well as mix it with some BCAA's which is what your muscles need to help them repair themselves.  BCAA's are in whey protein but your body has to break the protein down to get them to their simple form.  By taking them as a dedicated supplement in their simple form, your body can process them faster and get the muscles the needed nutrients faster.  This is great right after a workout when your muscles are most receptive (30-45 min post workout).  I then try to eat within an hour and a half after my workout.  If I can't actually eat a meal high in protein then I will add in a shake but I have really been working on cutting back on the number of shakes I take and try to get my nutrients from whole foods instead. As a result, I typically have a shake first thing in the morning and then one before bed (maybe, depends on if I feel hungry or not).  I think the results speak for themselves so far.

This is not to say that it has been easy.  It has been a struggle to make sure I am eating good meals and on a regular basis.  Honestly, my work days are easier than the weekends. Basically because my lunch box sits right on the side of my desk and I have access to it every 2 hours or so when it is time to eat. On the weekends, I'm constantly running all over the place and struggling to get in my normal amount of meals in a day (about 6).  As a result, I end up eating fewer but larger meals which in turns slows your metabolism down as you body starts to hold on to the food because it doesn't think it is going to get fed again for a while.  Then Monday rolls around and I have to get my body used to eating more frequently all over again!  So on Mondays, I don't feel too hungry and almost feel like I am force feeding myself and then on Saturdays I think I'm frickn starving all day!  But I am getting better.  I actually pack a lunch box and take it with me now when ever I think we are going to be gone for more than 2 hours somewhere.  Ridiculous?  YES!  But it has definitely helped quite a bit.

I hit a little bit of a road block earlier this week when I woke up to some tendonitis in my left elbow.  This is the same sort of thing that happened to me about 4 years ago when I was lifting pretty hard.  I have however learned a bit since then and have been icing it and taking Motrin.  I have also been stretching more this go around and not doing exercises that irritate it.  I have made sure to rest it and just 4 days after the pain came, it feels much much better.  Because of the holiday coming this weekend and going out of town, it will actually get a 4 day rest period as well.  Hopefully things will feel much better next week.

So am I going to get back out on the bike?  You bet.  I know I started getting frustrated on the last ride when I was feeling tired but still trying to keep up with a friend.  Someone I could ride away from last year.  I know that when I get back out on the bike on a more regular schedule things will be a little different.  I won't get as tired as fast for one thing.  At the same time, I'm not going to put myself in a situation where I feel that I have to keep up with folks.  I'm simply going to ride my pace and focus on having a good time!  Same goes for the road bike.  I plan on getting out at lunch for some nice little rides in the park and simply focus on maintaining a lower HR so that I can count those little rides as my cardio for the day and simply burn some calories.

In the end, the goal is to be back at about this same weight but have less fat and more muscle.  I suspect that I will probably continue to go up in weight over the next month or two but the goal is to lean back out by July.  So basically, I'm on a bit of a bulking phase right now.  I expect that I will put on a little bit of fat along the way but the goal is to keep that to a minimum as I am finding that it is harder to drop fat now that I have gotten older!

I almost forgot.  I have started running off and on as well.  This is largely because one of my daughters wanted to do one of these mud/obstacle course races.  Since she is only 14 I really can't send her out on the trails to go running by herself so I get to do that with her.  Since I have to go out and train with her, I figured I would sign myself up for the race as well so it will be something we are doing together.  It's funny to see her so excited about this sort of race.  I on the other hand only have flash backs of having to do this sort of crap in basic training, air assault, airborne, and SFAS classes and I certainly did not have a good time!  But like I said, it is something that we are doing together so I will put all that aside and just do it!

I guess that is about it for now folks.  Time go eat again!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ordering Italian

Ok, so a while back I ordered my current ITM handle bars.  I picked them up from ebay and now feel like quite the sucker if you will.  Don't get me wrong, they look identical to the set my friend has (prior to my scraping the clear coat off of them).  I even paid $185 for them so they must be real...right????

Well after posting my previous post about "made in Italy...really" I now have to wonder.  I am thinking that I basically got ripped off.  Of course it is too late to do anything about that short of bang my head against a wall.  If only I had read up on this all a little bit more prior to making the purchase.

I am saying this because while the bars are actually made in Taiwan for ITM, they should have been sold from an ITM dealer if you will and not some ebay store that was shipping them from China.  Hmmm, how the hell did I miss that one?  Especially when paying that much for the damn bars to start with!  Frustrating really.  Especially now that I am looking to replace them already.

The good news is that they won't just get pitched.  I figure I'll just slap them on the fixie instead.  I have my original ITM bars on that bike (the ones I got with my Bianchi).  Ones that the guy that sold me the bike (who happens to own a bike shop and is very up on gray market crap) and ordered them specifically because of the logo colors (matched the bike) when he was building it.  I would bet a lot of money that they came from the same damn factory that the ones I bought came from.

In any case, I have decided to buy Italian again via China!  Yep, I'm going to order a bar from AliExpress.  I have ordered a couple things from them in the past that have turned out to work quite well so I figure why not.  At least I know I'm getting a knock off this time! 

The weight is supposed to be about 174g which is right in line with the real thing and all the logos look the same.  Hopefully they will hold up but I really don't doubt that at this point.  I was going to oder them last night but that just didn't work out so I am hoping to get that done this evening.  Basically I have to be nice to my wife because I want to use her credit card for this.  They only take certain forms of payment and I would much rather use a real Visa rather than one tied to a bank account.  So we will see what happens.

Still no update on my damn wheel yet.  Just ridiculous really. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Status updates...

Hmm, so where to start....

1.  Nothing new has been done to the bike(s) really.  I did order some KCNC inner brake cables and a Far and Near 11t lock ring for my cassette.  Placed the order last Wed evening from Fairwheel.  Paid for the cheap shipping (USPS Priority) and it was in my mailbox on Saturday!  Kick @$$ really! However...

2.  The rear wheel is at the bike shop due to some dimwhit crashing into me at an intersection.  Not a car mind you, another rider when we were on a group ride.  In any case, the wheel got knocked out of true.  This of course happened about 3 miles into the ride but I went ahead and did the whole ride (which probably didn't help things).  So that was some 3 weeks ago and the wheel is still at the shop.  Again, not sure what the frickn hold up is.  Seems to happen to just about everything I turn in or order from this place.  I get no communication as to the status of the repair or order.  Then when I pop by the shop to check in I am given a bunch of excuses as to why it is still there or hasn't been ordered...more on this later.

3.  Haven't installed the cables mentioned above yet.  I also got a set of Ashima Reaction cables (both brake/der) as a Christmas gift from a friend.  Actually, we got two sets of der cables.  For whatever reason, he kept getting sent two der sets instead of one of each.  He sent them back twice to one place and then the other place sent the wrong thing.  As it turns out Ashima uses the same outer cable housing for both sets so I just told him to keep the inner cables and I would order some brake inner cables (KCNC).  As mentioned, they have not been installed but that is because....

4.  I'm thinking about getting a different handle bar again.  I love the compact shape of the ITMs that I have and am quite glad I gave the compact design a shot.  However, even after all my research prior to purchasing these bars I must admit that I am not happy.  The bars have a flat top design, however, they are not exactly flat.  One would think that the leading edge would be thicker towards the front and thinning out towards the back (sort of like a birds wing if you will).  But for this particular set, the leading edge is thinner.  Then on the back edge there is actually an angle in the bar right where you palm would rest.  This results in either rotating your hands forward to be on the flat part thus requiring your thumb to be wrapped around the bar (stretched to a degree) or rotating your hands backwards to be on the smaller part of the flat and creating a larger break in the wrists.  In both cases, this is somewhat uncomfortable.

I was very into the idea of having a flat top bar that had internal cable routing so that I would not have to wrap the entire bar.  But in doing my research there are only limited bars out there that meet this criteria:  flat top, compact, internal cable routing, under 215g.  I appear to have chosen the wrong one for me!

Now I am looking at the Zipp Vuka Sprint and/or the 3T Ergosum. 

     Vuka:  First of all it would match my stem.  2nd, it's a flat top, compact, internally cabled, under 215g (barely at 210) bar.  Pretty much hits every aspect of what I am looking for (aside frm having a bunch of logos on it).  It looks like the flat top is designed closer to what I am looking for as well.

     3T:  This bar is round, compact, no internal cables but weighs in at about 175g!  Hmm, I have ridden a round bar all my life (ok, I did have a flat top on my Blue for about 2 months way back).  I really think the big thing is that the bar has a compact design with a short reach and short drop.  The fact that it weighs in at 25g less is a plus for sure.

So for the moment, I am leaning towards the 3T bar.  I know it won't match my stem but neither does the current one.  It would be a weight savings over all (between what I have now as well as with the Vuka) and I have found it for a couple of $$ less than the Vuka.  I will then however have to wrap the entire bar but at least I know that would in turn give me a little more padding on the bar top over no wrap at all.

Planning to get the bar ordered today if I can and will figure out what bar tape I'm going to go with once it gets here or shortly after ordering.  That is up in the air as well.  I like the grippiness of the Lizard Skin dimpled tape that I have but it really doesn't offer much padding.  Dimples don't seem to be available in the thicker version of the tape.  The other option is the specialized tape that I had before.  It sort of resembles suede to me.  It has a good texture to it, provides grip when wet or dry and also offers a little more padding.  It's actually still pretty damn light as well since it is still foam based if you will.  But it all depends on what is available when I go shopping for it.  Both tapes are over priced in my opinion.  I mean when you have to pay  some $25+ for some damn bar tape, you know things are getting stupid!  Just ridiculous really.

So that is about all that is going on.  The shop continues to jack me when I place an order or turn something in for repair.  I don't know if it is just set on the back burner because the owner and I have known each other for years or if this happens to everyone.  But I swear, I show up at the shop all the time and the owner is doing something on the computer and the mechanic is working on something other than my part.  In this particular case, the mechanic said he didn't even know it was in the que and thought they were ordering a new rim for it.  Apparently my decision to just true the wheel did not get passed down stream and therefore, nothing got done with it.

At the same time, I placed an order for a new tail light.  I wanted one of those rubber style ones that has the band that simply wraps around the seat post.  To my surprise the shop sells these things for almost $30!  But I had a few dollars on a store credit and told him to just order it.  I stopped by the shop 3 days after the day it was supposed to have come in, only to be told that he couldn't find it available anywhere so it basically hadn't been ordered.  For crying out loud, I could have gone to frickn Performance and picked one up or ordered it online.  But I am trying to support my local shop here.

I just don't understand why they can't let you know what is going on.  I don't understand why this seems to constantly happen to me when dealing with this shop.  I don't understand why the shop owner seems to get upset when he sees something new on my bike that was not purchased thru his shop.  HELLO!  You can't seem to turn thigns around or order a simple frickn bike light without a delay...why the hell would I give you $100 more!  The fact that they charge more for damn near everything doesn't seem to help matters either.  Just frustrating!

Fortunately the weather has sucked and I haven't been out riding much so not having the wheel on hand hasn't been too bad.  I have the other set on the bike right now anyway so I'm good.

I got a ride in yesterday.  Not quite what I expected but interesting.  I started out and there were a few flurries.  Then it turned to sleet, then to little ice pellets ripping away at the exposed skin on my face, then a light mist, then flurries, finally damn near nothing as I turned into my driveway 15 miles later.  Just odd.  Short of outright rain I think I saw it all yesterday!  Oh, and it was about 27 degrees.  I did pull off and snap a quick picture of the bike on the side of the road with my Blackberry (sorry for the quality).  I should add that I originally had the SS mtb all set up to go out on but when I opened up the garage, I realized that the snow had started to melt and things looked mushy so I swapped bikes and headed out on the road.