Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Litespeed L1R Review – December 15, 2012

Litespeed L1R

Litespeed L1R

Litespeed states that they spent four years designing their latest road frame, and it shows in their results.  The Litespeed L1R is extremely stiff while maintaining a comfortable all day ride that will please any competitive rider.  Equally important for racers, the Litespeed L1R provides an oversized bottom bracket and the revolutionary new BB386 design that results in immediate power transfer.  For riders looking for an all around light, stiff, fast, and comfortable race bike, you’ll find a winner in the Litespeed L1R.

Ride & Handling: Power, power, and more power….and precise handling too.

 

The Litespeed L1R’s defining characteristic is its ability to go fast when you put down the power. The drivetrain efficiency is incredibly high and provides immediate benefits when sprinting and climbing.  However, I felt the biggest difference when performing my weekly 2 x 20 min power intervals on a pancake flat Silver Comet Trail outside Atlanta, GA.  Since this is a paved road that I ride several times a week and use for interval training during half my rides using a Powertap, it was easy to quantify the immediate benefit of the Litespeed L1R’s increased stiffness.  Let it be known that I think professional bike reviewers and magazines compare so many different level bikes that they may be easily impressed when presented with a higher quality ride every now and again.  However, I’ve been racing the last 2 years on one of the top bikes in the industry in the Specialized Tarmac Sworks SL3.  The Tarmac Sworks is widely considered by all reviewers as one of this decade’s best race bikes for stiffness and speed coupled with light weight performance.  So, it should be noted when I write about increased stiffness and power transfer that I am comparing my observations to a top of the line race bike with top of the line race components.

Stiff and Confortable

Stiff and Confortable

The Litespeed L1R’s frame rigidity should be most noticeable when you’re sprinting, but I found the biggest power (i.e. improvements in watts) from more common riding such as closing gaps, bridging up, and solo breakaways. The Specialized Tarmac SL3 was responsive and stiff, but compared to the Litespeed L1R, it had the slightest delay in power transfer.  Since I am using the same Boyd 58mm Carbon Clincher wheel, it is even possible to view the power transfer improvements in my Garmin 500 head unit.  The Powertap seems to show slightly higher power numbers in the initial pedal stroke than the Tarmac Sworks with identical components.  While Litespeed deserves all the credit for these frame improvements, they are likely standing on the shoulders of giants by using the new BB386 bottom bracket.  I have no doubt that what I am feeling is a combination of the Litespeed L1R’s 60 ton carbon vs. Specialized Tarmac Sworks 46 ton carbon and the L1R’s BB386 bottom bracket compared to the Tarmac Sworks BB30 bottom bracket.  Several other noticeable differences are the rear seat stays that look more substantial than the toothpick thick seat stays on the Tarmac SL3.  Since I’m comparing my experience to the SL3, some might wonder how it would compare to the newer SL4.  Luckily, I have also ridden the SL4 on several test rides, and I can honestly say that I didn’t notice any difference between the SL3 and SL4.  The frame geometry is the same and frame tubing is very similar, so I am confident that my perceptions of the Litespeed L1R would be very similar regardless of SL3 or SL4.  To be fair, I have not ridden the Venge, but I have a former teammate who owns a Venge and L1R.  He confirmed that the L1R is a superior bike to the Venge which can’t be ridden for long periods of time and doesn’t provide any improvements in bottom bracket stiffness or power transfer given the smaller BB30.

BB386 Bottom Bracket

BB386 Bottom Bracket

Handling is not an area where I notice any differences between the L1R and Tarmac Sworks.  The L1R is an excellent handling bike, but the Specialized Tarmac Sworks bikes also do well in this area.  I definitely feel this bike handles as well, and my personal bike handles slightly better due to a more exact bike fit that is only possible because Litespeed built additional sizing options.  I was riding a 56.5 cm top tube on the Tarmac Sworks, but I am actually best fitted to a 56 cm (ML) Litespeed L1R.  Litespeed offers both an ML (56 cm) size and an L (57 cm) size. This is the most common area where riders find in between sizing, and Litespeed allowed many riders like myself to dial in their exact fit.  Downsizing just that small .5 cm has resulted in a much better handling bike for descending and cornering at high speed on my 56 cm L1R.

Litespeed L1R Frame

Litespeed L1R Frame

I do not have a scale at home, but the bike feels about the same weight as my previous 14 ½ pound Tarmac Sworks without pedals and spec’d with DA7900.   Since Litespeed isn’t spending millions on marketing like Specialized, I’m sure they opted for a slightly stiff bike in certain areas that I would assume adds a few grams, but it is nothing I can feel as a 162lbs rider when climbing hills.  Litespeed lists the frame weight at about 1,000 grams, and the current SL4 at 56 cm is within 50 grams of this weight.  I’ll happily trade 50 grams for the increased stiffness and power transfer from the Litespeed L1R.

Litespeed L1R Seat Stay

Litespeed L1R Seat Stay

 The Litespeed L1R is the best road bike that I have ever ridden.  The combination of comfortable all day ride coupled with the immediate power transfer from the BB386 bottom bracket make this bike a bargain and the best overall value in the professional level race bike category.  While it is important to remind readers that I race for the Litespeed-BMW Cycling elite race team based in the Southeast, I am not someone who writes a lot of reviews or advocates products based on team sponsorship.  My review of the Litespeed L1R is based on firsthand experience and analytical power analysis that tells me this is the fastest bike that I have ever ridden.  For that reason, I thank Litespeed for their efforts and look forward to using this new bike to achieve strong results in Pro/1/2 races in the Southeast in 2013.

L1R Down Tube

L1R Down Tube

The BB386 bottom bracket adds significant stiffness that is very noticeable when climbing and pushing out watts on flat sections.  My first ride yielded a 2% increase in 20 min peak power with same Dura-Ace components, Boyd 58mm Carbon Clinchers, and Powertap perfectly zero’d and calibrated.

Read Full Post »

I just noticed that I haven’t posted anything since July 2012.  Rather than write up six separate posts, I’m going to give the reader’s digest version of each month.

August

Grant Park Criterium – This was a late season crit that I was looking forward to racing, but most of my training was higher mileage road racing type efforts and 1 mile hill repeats.  I felt good at the start, and made a bad early move.  I was riding fifth or six wheel a lap or two into the race when I saw that Ty Magner had a flat.  Several strong riders took off immediately, and I jumped on for the ride.  Unfortunately, it quickly rotated to me and when I tried to pull through, these guys didn’t let me off the front very easily.  I ended up pulling hard the front side and again on the backside which put me into the red about 3 laps into the race.  Not smart.  So, I slowly moved my way to midpack to recover for about 10 minutes before moving back up.  It was that kind of day for me, but I did use my head later in the race.  There was a small group a few meters in front of me with my new team represented in the group.  Rather than pedal up to them given it was only about 10 ft on a flat narrow section of the course, I eased up next to one of my new teammates which created the break at the 30 min mark.  The 9 riders that we basically placed into the break survived the rest of the race, and I ended up finishing 22nd.  While it was an uneventful race, it was eye opening to see how easy it was to create that break with a teammate in the move.

The following week, I officially joined the Litespeed-BMW Cycling Team.  One of the most exciting aspects of riding for the team is the ability to ride for various riders and play different roles.  Typically, I was forced to freelance a lot on the road or chase everything down.  Now, I’ll get to either support a protected rider or allow the race to play out a little more knowing we have several cards to play.

The first race with Litespeed-BMW Cycling was the always challenging River Gorge Pro/1/2 Road Race.  This year, BMC/Hincapie Development controlled the race early and kept everything together until Sand Mountain.   Unfortunately, our best rider in the race, Chris Brown, flatted around mile 16 and had to chase back on for about 7 miles.  I initially dropped back to help him pace back up.  I drifted about 500 m off the back of the pack that started to pull away pretty quickly.  Then, I saw the neutral vehicle about a mile or two miles back without Chris drafting behind it.  I assumed that he had an issue and dropped out, so I tried to ride back to the pack.  At first, I tried to ride at a steady state to avoid getting tired, but then I got nervous that it was taking too long to catch them, and I went into TT mode.  I caught up pretty quickly at that point, but I probably burned a match or two doing it.  About 10 miles later, we reached Sand Moutain, and I was still stuck in the back.  Once we hit the mountain, the pack exploded.  I quickly hit the gas and moved up on the outside passing a ton of riders.  I was definitely going way to hard at the base of the climb because I caught the some of the stronger climbers within a minute and latched onto their wheels.  I ended up behind my teammate Anders Swanson who was on Phil O’Donnel’s wheel.  We passed a buch of riders and were climbing at around 1/2 mph faster a couple minutes into the climb.  About halfway up the climb, things got difficult for me, and my fast start was catching up with me.  I did 440watts at 162lbs the first 5 min of the climb, and then I got scared that I was going to pop as we neared the top.  I didn’t know if there was 500 m or 1 mile left.  It turned out, there was only about 300m left to the top, but I pulled back and watched Anders and Phil ride away while a few riders caught and passed me, as well.   Once on top, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bridge up to the front group just ahead about 100m or wait up for the group behind me that was 40m behind.  I saw my teammate Chris Brown who would normally be ahead with Anders was behind since he chased back after the flat for 7 miles.  I waited for his group and pulled them for the next mile or two to close the gap to the group in front.  I rotated back and things got slow again, so I came back to the front and drilled it for a few more minutes until we were within about 20 m of the group in front.  Eventually, a few others bridged across given our close distance, and we became one big group of about 25 riders.  Unfortunately, a few hard efforts caught up with me on the final climb, and I cramped badly in my left leg.  A few weeks later I realized that I had a small power discrepancy in the left leg which required some isolated drills and hopefully will fix the left leg cramping issue in 2013.  I tapped out a decent pace on the final 2.5 mile climb and finished 24th behind some good names and in front of some good names.  All in all, it was a decent result given the way I rode during the race and different objectives I was focused on at different times throughout the race.  My goal for 2013 is to race it at 159 – 160lbs without some of those hard efforts and better pack placement.  I am confident that will be enough to get into the top 15 or better.

September

September brought the end of season.  I talked my wife into a final race weekend in Anderson, SC called the Labor Day Omnium.  It was a really well run race, and the Pro/1/2 field was strong drawing most of the strongest riders from the Southeast.  I went with a few early moves in the circuit race, but I was trying to be careful to stay with the favorites.  I was watching Robert Sweeting and Frank Travieso closely, so I didn’t notice when either UHC GA 786 project or Team Type 1 had their team sit on front and ease up to create a split of 10 riders up the road.  By the time I saw them, it was too late.  Brian Toone and I tried to chase, but there was nobody willing to help us.  I’m not sure if I was asleep at the wheel or it was a perfectly executed teamwork.  I think about it a lot because it ended up being my last race of the season, and I was in good form in terms of w/kg with plenty of rest heading into that weekend.  I came away in 27th place which was not close to where I was planning to finish.  Unfortunately, my wife got crashed out of the Cat 4 women’s road race the next day, so we spent all Sunday in the hospital.  So, that was a terrible end to the season.

October

With the start of Fall, I started racing in the Georgia Cyclocross Series.  The first race was in Rocky Face, GA, and it was a tough and rocky course filled with single track.   I had been training for a few weeks around the fields at a local high school, but I didn’t have the muscles to handle the steep inclines and descents in dirt.  I finished 9th in the Pro/1/2/3 race and was solid midpack.  The following weekend was in Marietta, GA at the Jim Miller Fair Grounds Parking lot for the North Georgia State Fair.  The course is a local CX practice course, and I was able to come out for a couple pre-rides which helped a lot.  I decided not to go for the hole shot and instead focus on following the front wheels.  This helped as the race was fast and several riders crashed towards the end of the race.  I was sitting 3rd right on the 2nd place wheel of Brandon Pruitt heading down the back side of the course.  I jumped ahead of him on a slow pavement uphill and got a small gap.  I had enough of a gap to take the win, but I dropped my chain when I put my bike down after the final run-up.  I panicked a bit and lost about 10 seconds.  He passed me after about 5 seconds, so I’m sure he was pleased when he saw me with my fingers stuck in my chain rings with 1/3 lap to go.  In any event, it was the 2nd race of the season, my second Pro/1/2/3 race ever, and I got on the podium, so it was a good result.  Since my wife’s wrist was still broken, I decided to skip the 3hr drive to Augusta the following week.   I didn’t touch my cross bike at all that week.  Then, the following week, we again skippped a double weekend in Savannah.

November

I went another week without touching the cx bike.  The next week, I stayed off the bike for a 3rd straight week and was starting to think about switching back to road training for good.  I find cx to be fun when you’re racing or preparing for a race, but I’d prefer to ride my road bike if I”m just going for a training ride.  Also, I built up my new Litespeed L1R, and it was like the kid with the new toy, and I wanted to ride it.  After 3 weeks off the cx bike, I decided to show up for a double weekend in Conyers.  On the first lap preriding, I rolled a tubular and hurt my ribs pretty bad.  So, I skipped racing that day and the next.  I was in pain the following week, so I didn’t ride the cx bike for a 4th week.  Finally, on the following Sunday, I showed up at Centennial High School for the CX Crusade race and went through one of the worst racing experiences of my life.  The back hurt, locked up, and there were no legs.  It didn’t help that I rode 55 miles on a group ride the day before, but the pain was mainly due to not riding the cx bike at all for 4 weeks.

So, the plan is to finish out the final 3 Georgia Cross races in the series.  If I can ride the CX bike at least once a week, I will not be a strong CX racer, but at least I’ll avoid the bad back pain from last week and finish out the series.

Read Full Post »

At the end of April, I was finally seeing months of hard work on power and even harder work on dieting finally come together to produce some results.  However, with just under two laps to go, my brake hood caught was caught by an untied barrier balloon, and I was thrown to the ground at 27mph.  The weeks following the crash have been long and slow to rebuild.  Almost seven weeks later, I am still in pain every morning until I take some Advil.  I cracked ribs, and they seemed to heal in four weeks, but whatever collateral damage occurred has left me sore everyday since.  At this point, I don’t think I’m going to ride pain free for months, so it is time to start racing again.  My power is off around 5% from the peak at this point, but that is better than the initial 10 – 15%.  With very little post-crash training, my weight went up about 9 lbs, but I am now only 6lbs over and plan to get within a couple lbs  from peak low by July.   With some good fortune, I can hopefully achieve near peak condition again by cyclocross season in October.  Either way, it is time to toe the start line again, so I’m planning to start my first race back this weekend in Covington, GA.  I’m not looking for any results, and I’m going to be happy with finishing.  Out of the saddle sprints and hard surges still hurt since they pull on the rib area, so I’ll likely be the guy hanging next to the motorcycle marshal all day.   Hopefully, it will be an uneventful return this weekend.

Read Full Post »

After doing intervals on and off for the last few weeks, power is finally above 300 watts FTP.  Last year, I peaked around 310 which seems like something I can surpass if I continue to do short intervals and add 5 min / 10 min intervals.  My 5 min is close to peak numbers, but 1 min is still 50 watts low.  5 sec sprint is near peak numbers at 1500 watts. More importantly, race weight is down to 181 lbs.  I would like to see weight below 178lbs by Gwinnett Bike Fest in July.  If I can raise these numbers a bit more and drop another 5lbs, the results will improve dramatically and put me in position to get upgrade points.  My goal is 1 podium and 1 win this season, but a bigger goal is a Cat 2 upgrade so I can race US 100k this season (or next) and Roswell Criterium 1/2 next season…that is a definite bucket list item for me and would trump any wins or podium finishes.  As a result, I am going to have to start entering Cat 3 races moving forward.

Read Full Post »

Cherokee Road Race was 65mi on a rolling hill course that included a good mix of strong teams and riders.  A group of five 45+ riders got away and the 35+ riders were content to let it go.  No other breaks were allowed to go in the race.  So, the 35+ race came down to a field sprint with Andy Lougher, Kirk Corsello, and Michael Burns rouding out the top 3.  I got 4th which was fine with me after cramping most of lap 4 since I dropped my only bottle left at the end of lap 3 leaving me with no water for the last lap in the hottest part of the race.  It was a beginner move, and I realize that I need to use proper cycling bottles for extra bottles in pockets rather than being lazy and tucking a couple publix disposable bottles in my pockets that become slippery.  Next race, Rome Road Race….

Read Full Post »

Next weekend is the Georgia State RR championships in Canton, so this morning I went out with my team to review the course.   It is very similar to last year with a few of the neighborhoods removed due to permit and issues with permission.   Currently, I am tired from a solid training week with less recovery days than normal.   My TSB is currently – 15 and CTL is now 78 TSS/day.  This is about six points above my previous peak, and my body doesn’t like it.  I’ve struggled to properly taper for races this year with my days off approach, so I’ll try to “spin” my way to revovery this week rather than complete days off the bike like I normally do leading up to a race.  Hopefully, this conventional easy spin recovery approach will work for me, we’ll see Saturday in the Masters 35+ RR and Sunday’s Cat 3 crit.

Read Full Post »

Category 4 Podium - Gainesville Road Race

Category 4 Podium - Gainesville Road Race

Without having enough mass starts prior to Gainesville forced to race until I got an auto-upgrade to cat 3. Now, I have 10 mass starts and 30 points which allows me to upgrade to Cat 3. The Gainesville Road Race started very normal with a slow pace, but lap two seemed to have several moderate surges. Several riders tried to go up the road, but in the windy and cold conditions, I was happy to let them go. At 5 miles to go, I went upfront to bring the pace up, but instead, I actually just rode a very slow endurace/tempo pace since nobody wanted to push it with me. Since I was not willing to do the work for the pack knowing that a sprint finish would benefit me anyway, I just rode along at what felt like an slow/medium tempo pace. The interesting part is the fact that the pack let me hold this slow / medium pace past the 1km to go sign.  After the sign, I was riding slowly on purpose because I felt the headwind and uphill finish required riding in someone’s draft up to 100M.  However, nobody jumped after the sign, so we rolled as a pack with me out front for about 1/3km.  At about .5 miles to go, someone finally jumped ahead.  I jumped on their wheel immediately and rode them for about 200 m, then I came around that guy for what felt like a 250 m sprint slightly uphill.   I looked back when I was about 50 meters which I never do because I couldn’t hear anybody pedaling behind me.  Luckily, the next guy back was about 50 – 75 m heading uphill as I was getting closer to the finish.  I started to sit up, then decided to give it a few more pedal strokes.  The slight hesitation allowed the 2nd and 3rd guys to gain on me, but I still crossed a couple seconds ahead for the win.  It was nice to get my first road win, but it isn’t the same as winning a crit with the crowd and finish line banner.  I’ll take it.  With the win, I now have about 30 points this year already and will get the auto-upgrade.   My next race is the Nalley Roswell Criterium, so I don’t expect to do very well in my first Cat 3 crit.  My goal is a top 20 finish or at least near that mark.  I noticed that most of the Cat 3 riders had similar paths to Cat 3 which resulted in a string of podium finishes before upgrading.  So, I’m sure that I’ll be pack fodder in Cat 3 as opposed to competitive in Cat 4.  You have to start somewhere…..

Here is my latest power profile 09 on top and 08 on bottom.  1 year apart….some change, but not enough for Cat 3…..

March 31, 2009 Power Profile  (upgrading to Cat 3, but I still only have Cat 4 power numbers….whoops…)

4-1-09-power-profile

4-1-09-power-profile

March 31, 2008 Power Profile – still weak…but a quick diet to make 2009 stronger.

4-1-08-power-profile

4-1-08-power-profile

Read Full Post »

It  is hard to believe that the 2009 race season has started.  Last week, I began the season with the Tundra Time Trial.  While I didn’t podium, I was satisfied with a 5th place finish in the Category 5 division with a time of 22:39.  Given that I do not own a time trial bike, skinsuit, etc…it was a solid time.  I think all those items could have helped anywhere between 20 – 30 seconds.  If I can improve on my TT a little, I should be well positioned to do well in stage races this season. 

My first real race is February 28th called the Top View Classic.  The TopView Classic is the kick-off event of the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix, and will feature two challenging road courses.  Saturday, February 28th takes place in Barrow County, featuring a rolling 7.1 mile loop in Winder, GA.   It features a challenging 1.5 – 2mi climb that will be looped five times.  That amounts to over 8 miles of climbing….pretty tough since I am still stuck at 185 – 187lbs depending on the time of day.  I did get some Zipp 404 tubulars for racing that will reduce about .5 to .75 weight from my normal 32h PT rear/front Ksyrium training setup.  However, I’ll likely compete against guys riding at 140 – 165 lbs….  Stay tuned for results.  Also, I have started a Twitter account for the Cycleworks Cat 4 Race team with results and race updates in real-time.  You can follow it at http://twitter.com/Cycleworks_Cat4 .

Top View Classic - Winder, GA

Top View Classic - Winder, GA

Read Full Post »

After 2 full months of different variations of chest cold (most bronchitis), I am finally nearly void of any chest cough and runny nose and chest mucus.  This has been the worst cold I have ever had and likely caused by racing cyclocross in December before I was completely healthy.  The frustrating part was that cyclocross ended December 7th, so from December 7 to January 7th, I was very good about no riding, yet I couldn’t get healed as things were already bad.  I healed several times in mid-December, but I had relapses for reasons that I still don’t understand since I was not riding.  As noted in prior posts, my CTL (fitness) dropped from 72 TSS/day to 35 TSS/day.  After a solid Saturday/Sunday of training this weekend, I am now back to 55 TSS/day.  My goal is to be at 75 TSS/day by March 1st which is a very realistic goal.   It is a shame as I should be closer to 100 TSS/day by March 1st if I hadn’t gotten sick which would have definitely would have made me one of the more fit riders coming into the Georgia Cup.  However, it was not meant to be this year.  Basically, instead of making offseason improvement, I regressed about three months….sad.  Also, I packed on about 6 lbs which is the opposite of my goal to lose 10 lbs….even more sad.  So, this offseason was a complete failure!  However, 2008 is over, and it is time to focus on 2009 and more positive things ahead.

My race effort of the season is going to be the Tunda Time on February 14th.  I expect my bad offseason will leave me with a pretty poor result, however, it will be nice to get some updated power test numbers for peak 20 min.  I should be able to change my FTP to a lower number or potentially see if I have regained some fitness by then. 

After that, the Georgia Cup racing starts in the first week of March.  I don’t know if I’ll make it to Greenville for the early season training races, probably not.  Team Cycleworks has a training camp in Dalton, GA on Jan. 31/Feb 1st that should be fun, as well.

Read Full Post »

Latest pix of the cx bike:
picture-002

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »