Drained the tank.....Mud Fest.....Weight Goals.....new bike?

Draining the Tank (in a good way this time!!!)

Warning:  Today's blog entry is about 90% online journal entry information for my own edification.

Weekend training scheduled a total of 5 1/2 hours or riding.  Studying the SPRING forecast, I saw that snow was going to hit on Saturday night around 7 pm and last into Sunday.  Being that Sunday was my 3 1/2 hour outside planned ride that was to include a lot of hill work, I swapped days and did my Sunday yesterday.  The Saturday ride is a Zone 2 effort and I can do that on the trainer inside Sunday.

I was hoping to take advantage of the frozen earth and get some laps in out at Lake Ahquabi before it got too muddy and the snow hit.  The hills are perfect for my prescribed ride, so I suited up and headed out to hit frozen dirt.  I didn't get going as early as I wanted to, but so be it.  I parked at the Beach Shelter, and headed off for lap one.  It was quickly revealed to me that the entire trail system was extremely pock-marked from hikers and deer having been out on the trail while it was soft.  Rough stuff that needs a bevy of Fat Bikes to hit the trail while it is soft to smooth things out.

It was also quickly revealed to me that the DNR has hired contractors to do some trail work on a few sections (lots of Bobcats and big grader equipment are parked out on the trail at the moment).  What was once a fun section of trail is now wide enough for a jeep and looks to be on tap for a dump truck load or two of gravel.  Rats!  I turned up on the levy by the first pond and climbed up to the monument to avoid the newly made "road" of a trail.  This got me thinking of some possible route changes for The Mullet this fall, but I will wait to see what the finished product is from the DNR hired contractors.

By the end of lap one, temperatures were warming up enough that the ground was starting to get soft.  My tires started to pick up a bit of dirt by the end of lap one.  Lap two had my tires leaving an imprint which didn't bother me because if anything, the trail needs some imprints to smooth out all of the damage from footprints and deer tracks.  By the end of lap two I was throwing mud all over the place.  Lap 3 was a MUD FEST and I needed to get off the trail.  I had to keep stopping to pull chunks of mud out of the fork and rear triangle so the wheels would turn.  I cut the lap short after I got to the campground and headed back on pavement to the parking lot realizing I was not going to get my 5+ laps in at Ahquabi for the training.  I figured I would quickly head back to town and grab the road bike to finish up the day's ride.

The bike needs a cleaning...


A bit too much mud...


I was eating dirt...


Not too worried about having caused any trail damage as the mud was collected - for the most part - on the sections of trail where all the earth moving Bobcats and graders are parked and have torn up the earth before they reshape it and dump rock/gravel on it.

I got home, put my bottles on the road bike, washed my face, grabbed my iPod and swapped jackets for one that was clean.  I did Zone 2/3 all the way to Carlisle and back to finish up the day with 3 1/2 hours of "on the bike time".  I finally had a tailwind from Carlisle back to Indianola, so the trip was 10 minutes or so quicker.  In spite of the low 30's weather and dry conditions, I saw nobody else out on the trail on Saturday between noon and 2.  Too bad, it was good riding.   I fueled well throughout the riding and although got a good TSS from pushing hard all day, I was drained in the right way as opposed to rolling home with my tail between my legs.  I felt very good from the day's effort.  The hills at Ahquabi quickly reminded me what lies ahead in the near future as the first race is at Swanson in 2 weeks.

Celebrating Chuck's Birthday

Headed over to Joel and Deb's house for dinner for a group of 9 of us that celebrated his birthday with a 5 course meal.  It was a fun evening and I noted that Joel and Deb bought new Trek bikes that were hanging in the garage.  Joel got a carbon Trek road bike that looks pretty spiffy.

Weight Goals

I weighed in at 184.6 the morning after the birthday party/5 course dinner.  So I don't know if I'll hit sub 184 this weekend.  5 courses was not the way to lose weight - especially with a huge piece of chocolate cake, lots of cheese, and a few glasses of fermented grapes.  Maybe tomorrow morning will get me closer after today's Zone 2 ride and eating a bit more disciplined...

In spite of that, I have calculated a few things weight wise to set goals.  The 2012 May Issue of Bicycling had an article entitled "Your Ideal Cycling Weight".  According to the article, the standard formula to figure out a baseline weight for men is 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, and 6 pounds per inch after that.  For me, that's 75.39 inches which calculates as 106 + 92.34 = 198.34.  I currently weigh 184.6, so I am below the base weight.  From there, you measure your wrist size to calculate your body's frame size.  For me, the wrist size calculates out that I am fine where I am.  However, if I want to improve performance and find a better ideal weight, I need to subtract 10% of my base weight to find my "ideal cycling target".  That equals 178.5 pounds.  I've been down to 177 before and cycled for a season at the weight and it was great for climbing.  So 178ish is sort of where I hope I am headed over the next couple of months by shedding another 6 pounds.  I think this is a realistic target that I can achieve without a major overhaul in my lifestyle.

Another calculation in that article is called "Get Competitive".  They say that for men, a competitive cycling weight is between 2.1 and 2.4 pounds per inch.  That's right from Joe Friel's book.  If I calculate that out for me, I get to a competitive cycling weight in the range of 158 - 181 pounds.  If that's true, I'm just a few pounds away from being competitive.  Well, at least for guys my size.  It's not going to help me against the 130-160 pound riders going up the hill, that's for sure.  Obviously, the climbing gets better nearer the 2.1 pounds per inch figure, but I'm not setting my target for that this season as it would take about 26 weeks to get there in a healthy fashion from my current weight.  I'll be happy to hit the upper end of the range and play it be ear from there.

The good news is the weight loss is a free upgrade! 

New Road Bike Search

That's right.  I'm on the prowl and search for a road bike.  Zack's is a size 58cm frame and I am a bit cramped on it.  It's got the shimmy at high speed and the typical problems for big and tall riders. Being that I am doing a lot of training on the road and I am doing RAGBRAI this year, it's probably time I get my own dedicated machine.

Where to start is another thing.  I don't like the super hunched over aero road racing position, so some of the more relaxed fit frames attract me (Specialized Roubaix, Secteur, etc...).  It needs a longer head tube, and the idea of disc brakes such as the Roubaix Disc or the Secteur disc look promising and really are attracting me, but come to find out they don't sell the Roubaix disc in the US (only in England) and the Secteur with disc brakes - although listed as coming in 61cm and 64cm frames - is only available up to size 58cm according to the computer stock system at Rassy's.  RATS!!!

It sucks being tall as the cycling industry (outside of Leonard Zinn) is obviously run by a bunch of not very tall folks.  Ditto on the airline industry in terms of Economy seats!!!  Case in point, go talk to a salesman at your typical LBS.  They'll be about 5'7" - 5'10" (5'10 1/2" is the average US white male height by the way) and fill you with all sorts of information about the racing frames and various bikes having less of an idea what it is like to get a good fit on a bike for us tall men.  If you ask if they have any 61cm or 64cm frames in stock and you might get a blank stare, then a mad dash over to check their inventory data and announce they have maybe one in a box somewhere or maybe one is on the floor, or the most usual - they could order one.

That being said, following a similar scenario above, I did do a short test ride on one of the mid-level Specialized Secteur Comp Apex size 61cm bikes at Rassy's the other day.  It's the alloy version of the more expensive carbon Roubaix and has the relaxed fit with the longer head tube.  The same bike in a Comp Apex version is not available in 2013 as they came out with the 2 disc brake models (which are not available in the 61/64cm sizes).  There were some changes to the fork/head tube juncture in the 2013 Roubaix/Secteur models - so again, the discounted price on the 2012 model would mean I miss out on some nice tweaks they made this year.


Not a bad looking bike and a bit of a discount since it is a 2012 model.  It did feel a lot better than my son's Allez 58cm, but still felt a tad small to me without some changes (different stem needed, longer cranks, maybe a wider bar) and left me itching to toss my leg over a 64cm frame just to make sure.  However, no 64cm's in stock to try.  The component list and the more relaxed fit of the Secteur Comp would probably do just fine for me and I will have to go back and take a closer look.  Hard to tell on a parking lot test without my gear on and really hammering it to see how it does.  Tempting, but I would like to see a few other things before deciding.  I'm not sure what the MSRP was on the Comp Apex in 2012 or what the discounted price would be if I bought it, but I'll find all of that out.  I guess the color scheme would work in Iowa as the black/gold/white is Hawkeyeish.   It's not my favorite color combo.  But hey, this would be a training tool and I don't need to overthink it too much, right?

Leonard Zinn looks to have it nailed on a joint venture he did with KHS bikes.  The Flite 747 (now there's a name for those of us with a big wingspan) is for guys that are 6'4" - 6'6".  Long head tube.  Short and stiff chainstay.  Kept the HT and ST angles good for stability and actually developed a proper size fork with the right amount of trail for a tall man.  No shimmy at high speeds.  36H rims with sturdy spokes.  200mm cranks with a higher BB to account for that.  And the price is around $1700.

This could be the bike for me.  The bike looks pretty good for the price and tall man specific build.  Going custom through Zinn directly would cost about twice that amount for a steel frame, more for an aluminum alloy or carbon frame.


It doesn't look too bad out of the box.  Sort of an old classic look.  I'm not a huge fan of the big KHS white decals shown in the picture on the TT, DT and fork, but the rest of the bike looks acceptable.  The fit is more important.

For my own edification and working through some sizing information, I will plug in my Zinn fit numbers for a road bike here.

First in an aggressive road bike riding position...


Recommends a 633mm TT with a 130mm stem and a 195mm crank.  Guess what, the KHS Flite 747 comes with a 620mm TT, a 130mm stem, and a 200mm crank.  And the BB height is 292mm for the KHS which closely matches the suggested 289mm BB height from Zinn.

Then as a more recreational road bike riding position...

Recommends a 609mm TT with a 128mm stem, and a 195mm crank.  That would explain why the Specialized 61cm Secteur frame and the 110mm stem I tried felt a bit too "short" on my little parking lot test ride.  I would need to boost the stem at least a good 15 - 20 mm in length to get my recommended "recreational fit" on the Specialized bike.  It also points out why I want to toss a leg over a 64cm Secteur as the geometry of that bike fits better for an aggressive position, but would still be a shorter reach with the 615mm TT and 120mm stem that it comes with than the recommended aggressive or even the recreational position Zinn claims is my fit.  So perhaps the 64cm Specialized would be a route that I could probably upgrade to a bit longer cranks (not much room for this without a higher BB, but maybe I could get away with 180mm's).

If going with the KHS, I could easily run a different stem for a "recreational fit" on that bike, plus still get close to the ideal crank length that Zinn suggested.

Here's the KHS Flite 747 Geometry Chart (it's only available in one size)...

KHS Flite 747 Geometry Chart

All in all, it sounds like the KHS is about as close as I could get to buying a stock bike that "fits" for me.

Of course, the dealer in Des Moines does not stock this Flite 747 bike and was trying to talk me into a Long Haul Trucker from Surly over the phone because he likes that bike.  I don't want a Surly Long Haul Trucker, but the dealer could order the Flite 747 for me with a 50% deposit.  Not sure what would happen if I don't like it, but perhaps a restocking fee would be involved.  Again - tall men are out of luck when they want to toss a leg over a demo bike.  I guess, at the very least, if it just didn't work I could pay a restocking fee or if I buy the dang thing and it doesn't work out - I could sell it on eBay to another tall drink of water and not be out several thousand if I invested in a carbon road bike that didn't fit quite right.

I've even thought about buying a frame and fork (61cm or 64cm frame with a fork that has an uncut steerer tube) to build my own bike getting the components I want (at least 180mm cranks and wider bars - maybe 440mm or 460mm wide).

This 2011 Allez E5 frame is available in 61cm with an uncut steerer tube which would allow me to dial in a nice relaxed fit.


The question is if I could build it up economically enough to match the Flite 747 or a full bike from Specialized in 64cm price.

What to do?  Decisions, decisions....

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