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Arrived: Veloflex Vlaanderen Tubular 700 X 27C

Readers know that I’m a huge fan of Veloflex tubular tires; I’ve ridden probably 60K miles on them in the past 8 years, going through at least 60 tires (I’ve lost count), and I know how each of them performs.

So I was intrigued by the introduction of the new 700 X 27C Veloflex Vlaanderen. I requested some review samples, and Veloflex obliged.

I received two of the new Veloflex Vlaanderen tubular tire today. Wow! I am intrigued by the supple casing and tread pattern and substantial tire volume. By palpating the tire build with my fingers I’d say that the Vlaanderen holds huge potential as about the most comfortable ride in a tubular one might find. My guess is that it will be distinctly more supple and comfortable than the Veloflex Roubaix and possibly less puncture resistant (the rubber seems less thick). But that is speculation until a road test.

Because I’m leaving on a trip I won’t have the Vlaanderen glued up until about mid June 2015, report to follow. But it looks very promising as possibly a tire of choice for anyone looking for an ultra comfy tubular with superb handling and grip. I won’t be able to test it on the rear of my Moots Vamoots RSL because it won’t fit a 700 X 27C, but it’s the front wheel that has me intrigued in terms of exploring the comfort zone.

Veloflex Vlaanderen 700 X 27C tubular tire
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Lactate Threshold Training: 10X Repeats on upper Pave Alpine Rd

Get Shimano Di2 at Amazon.com.

I’m loving the 34 cog on Shimano Di2. It lets me spin through slightly steeper pitches with a flick of the shifter. This pays off for hill repeats, and I think it will pay off for endurance events with steep climbs.

While five double centuries in two months has paid off handsomely in deep reserves of aerobic endurance, my lactate threshold and peak power now needs attention as spring waxes and summer approaches.

The next big event is Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge, and since Steven Barnes (organizer of the Everest Challenge) seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth (I hope he’s OK), the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the only major hard-ass goal for me left this year. And one I have designs on winning. So I need to make sure my peak power and anaerobic fitness are pushed up, and I have about 3 weeks to do that.

Shown below is a 10-repeat workout, average time 9:34 @ 313 watts. I could definitely feel the burn by repeat 6, but it was perfectly tolerable. I could probably have done 12 and maybe more, but I had work to do and could not afford the time. For me, 313 watts is a bit disappointing; I should be doing at least 330 watts or so on these repeats. But, well, I’m some years older than 2012 and maybe age is acting up. More threshold training will prove or disprove that.

Besides, it was National DumbF**k Day on Alpine Road: wrong side of road drivers, dogs on leashes spanning road, and one dumbass with his car in park (you can’t make that stuff up!) on a blind corner in the middle of road, with a cyclist crashed as a result, with me narrowly missing. I yelled at this sh*t for brains to move his car over, but he wanted to argue about it while his car remained in park in the middle of the one-lane road (as it had been), a deadly obstacle for the next hapless cyclist to round the steep curve in the road. Nothing wrong the car, something seriously wrong with the brain. Where is that phaser when you need it?

Ten (10) lactate threshold repeates on upper Alpine Rd

Shimano Di2 DuraAce and Ultegra — Weights and Why and Which to Use

Get Shimano Di2 at Amazon.com.

I had been running the original DuraAce Di2 10-speed on my Moots Vamoots RSL. Finally I scraped together the money for Shimano Di2 11-speed . There were several motivations, in this order:

  • I wanted the 11-32 cassette option (32-tooth cog) that is possible with Di2 Ultegra. Because on 10% to 26% grades of the Eastern Sierra, that 32 cog will be my best friend. Especially after climbing 10,000' or more already. An 11-28 is fine for most stuff or for shorter efforts, but for Alta Alpina 8 Pass Challenge and the Everest Challenge or the 26% grade of eastern Sonora Pass, that 32 cog will be lovely.
  • The 11 speed cassette means a tighter spacing when using 11-28 cog (less gappy in gear ratios in the last 3 cogs, if it weren’t for hills I’d use an 11-25 cassette).
  • The Ultegra and DuraAce derailleurs are plug-compatible, and thus the same bike and wheels are more versatile with a derailleur and cog swap (chain may have to be replaced if switching to the shorter-cage DuraAce derailleur, but the Ultegra handles a 28 or 32 cassette). In the winter, I can run the DuraAce derailleur with the 11-28 for tighter spacing; I don’t need the 32.
  • The 10-speed Di2 parts can be used for spare parts for on my Moots PsychloX RSL, which has 10-speed Di2, it’s now a sort of 2nd road bike that sees only a little dirt. With the original 10-speed Di2 getting harder and harder to find, this gives me a backup set.
  • My left Di2 shifter has been intermittently failing to shift, and I did not want buy a new 10-speed shifter.


The 11-32 Ultegra cassette delivers an entire extra gear (32 cog), but matches the last two cogs of the DuraAce 11-28 with its 25, 28 cogs. So it’s like getting three gears instead of two when climbing the steep stuff.

With a 50 X 34 compact double crankset, the gear ratios are 50:25, 50:28, 50:32, or

 DuraAce 11-1828 11,12,13,14,15,17,19,21,23,25,28

Ultegra: 11-32: 11-12-13-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32


Weights accurate to the gram.

The weight penalty for the 32-cog Ultegra setup vs 28-cog DuraAce setup is thus (266-215) + (284-195) = 140 grams + some extra chain weight— call it 160 grams, or about 1/3 pound. Undesirable (why is there no DuraAce 32 cog support?), but a modest penalty to gain an extra gear on steep climbs to save the quads.

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2015 Central Coast Double

See also To Draft or Not to Draft: What Does it Accomplish?

I had a tough time at the 2015 Devil Mountain Double due to a delay in fueling, so for the Central Coast Double, I resolved to begin fueling early and regularly. Fuel consisted of Hammer HEED, Hammer gel and seven all natural Panda licorice sticks (100 cal each, a good portion of which is glucose equivalent), and a few minor bits at the lunch stop. This worked like a charm.

The reason I like to supplement with licorice is that by 2/3 through a double century, I lose all appetite for HEED and gels, a risky proposition when fueling is more critical than ever. The licorice does not lose appeal and seems to keep things in balance for me. There is some “junk sugar” which serves a critical role of giving the glycogen-depleted liver a job to do, and even a small amount of protein in it.

  • Solo effort: I accepted no drafts/pacelining as is my wont. While I pulled the lead group for some miles up the Pacific coast into a stiff headwind, they wanted to switch leaders to go faster (perfectly reasonable of course). So I dropped back, watching the paceline slowly disappear until miles out of sight by the end of the long slog up the coast. I ultimately overtook all of those riders, and finished first (Highland Route).
  • Weather: cold/foggy to start, stiff headwind heading north along the coast all the way to Nacimiento Road (the best climb of the route). At the summit, it all went sunny and warmer (but still on the cool side).
  • Clothing: Starting out, summer-weight tights, dual summer-weight jerseys (short sleeve), regular gloves. I took a sleeveless lightweight vest, but did not use it. I stripped the tights off at the summit of Nacimiento Rd. When power and fueling are good, temps down to the low 50’s are fine for me, though my arms did stay a rosy red all that cool day.
  • Minor delays: I started last in essence, dropping a baggie out of my jersey pocket early on, so I had to stop and get it, thus being dead last about 1 mile out. I also caught two red lights right before the finish. Stops were required at all rest stops, but I minimized the delays (lunch stop forced a good detour to get water unfortunately), but aside from one “pit stop” spent most of the time was on the bike.
  • Mechanical: none. The Moots Vamoots RSL with DuraAce Di2 performed flawlessly. But I do want a 32 cog for steeper climbs (to save quadriceps strength), and so I’ve sold some gear to raise funds for Di2 11-speed, which will allow an Ultegra medium cage that allows a 11-32 cassette.
  • Bike fit: I am grateful to Kevin Bailey at 3DBikeFit.com for his attention to details of my bike setup. A meticulous master of his craft, all aspects of my bike fit with Kevin resulted in maximum comfort, or properly speaking minimum discomfort, since 211 miles is a very long ride. The afternoon prior, my right wrist went bonkers due to continuing issues with nerve damage and I had no ability to articulate/twist it without severe pain. I considered skipping the ride entirely. But because Kevin set my bar position and reach for three hand positions all keeping the body in the same optimal position (hoods, drops, bar top) and all keeping the wrist in optimal straight/unbent position, I had zero pain in my wrist/hand—non issue. That and the other aspects of reach, saddle height, custom orthotic were all spot-on. Pretty amazing to have it all work so well. If the fit is right, the body can handle things, but if the slightest thing is off, 211 miles can be punishing by overloading some joint or muscle.
Central Coast Double 2015-05-09
199 watts @ 121bpm, 211 miles, roll time 12:17, clock ~12:40

I took NO DRAFTS WHATSOEVER, but did pull the lead group of riders for several miles into a stiff headwind up the Pacific coast. So I am rather proud of my effort this day. I felt great; everything worked well for me. Official results.

Central Coast Double 2015-05-09, results
2015 Central Coast Double route sheet
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2015 Devil Mountain Double: Fuel Right or Be Slow and Cold

See also To Draft or Not to Draft: What Does it Accomplish? I do all my double centuries as solo efforts, strictly refusing to draft (I will pull), and dropping back or springing past if necessary to avoid taking a draft.

I had a tough time at the 2015 Devil Mountain Double, losing power for much of the ride and never being able to get warm, my time a good hour longer than in the 2012 Devil Mountain Double. The reasons seem pretty clear, and they were not reasons of fitness, but foolish errors in fueling.

Fueling, power, catabolic muscle damage

Steve Born of Hammer Nutrition was kind enough to spend some time with me discussing what might have gone wrong. His assessment (which dovetails with mine) on the ride and the recovery is that my foolish mistake to take in any fuel until having burned about 1300 kilojoules meant that I used up a good portion of my glycogen stores. I also worked the first part of the ride too hard sprinting past riders and always riding solo (never taking a draft as is my wont) and “burning some matches” too early.

All of which added up to greatly reduced power output for the 80-170 mile mark or so. And which it seems, forced my body to eat its own muscles for fuel (protein), which explains the swollen feel in my quads for 4-5 days following—muscle tissue damage.

Anticipating warmer temps I made a crucial mistake: I stripped my tights and left them (still with a double jersey, outer one long-sleeved). But it never warmed up, with cloud cover blocking the sun too often. I never did feel warm again, not even on the climbs. My body, not properly fueled, seemingly could not both warm itself well and produce power. This is atypical for me; see the Central Coast Double discussion; I don’t have a problem staying warm down to the 50’s if properly fueled.

I had some wasted time on the ride: a stop light that would not change (most riders just run red lights and stop signs, I usually do not), a need to refuel/rest for a some minutes fairly late in the ride), and (ironically) finally feeling strong for the last 20 miles but having to back off the pace to stay with other riders who knew the route, because I could not read the route map without stopping (dark).


Recovery reflected my execution errors: it took at least a full 7 days, versus 4-5 days for all the previous doubles this year.

Unlike the three previous double centuries, I had a feeling of swelling/puffiness in my quads for 4-5 days which was fluid gain as the muscles went through a process of repairing significant damage (weight swing of 8 pounds!). This I attribute to the failure in proper fueling and the body eating muscle tissue for energy—a lot of damage incurred in a 15 hour ride.

I had a MUCH better time with the Central Coast Double.

Devil Mountain Double 2015-04-25
184 watts @ 118bpm, 209 miles, roll time 14:21, clock ~15:32
Devil Mountain Double 2015-04-25, Mt Diablo portion
257 watts @ 140 bpm, 11.14 mile,3282' ascent
Devil Mountain Double 2015-04-25, Mt Hamilton East portion
213 watts @ 123 bpm, 6.55 mile,2315” ascent

Severe Safety Hazard at the Hwy 92 Bike Overpass

It’s good enuf for government work. You can’t make this stuff up.

What kind of nitwit would install barbed wire along a biking/skating path?

Update May 11: I learned that the county wanted to do the non-nitwit thing, but that the agency owning the land (San Francisco Water district) insisted on barbed wire. Since then, the SF district has relented, yet the county is paying for installation of non-barbed wire, the work only partially completed as yet. Sadly, there is no “negative feedback loop” whereby bureaucratic nitwits would suffer the consequences of their stupidity.


On the other side of the freeway, there is a very steep descent where speeds can approach 30 mph. Imagine flatting unexpectedly or hitting a slippery spot, and hitting the barbed wire at speed. Shredded and maybe even killed (puncture an artery, game over). Or maybe just missing the sharp turn on the descent from the overpass (on bikes or skates). A wet patch in winter—whatever.

There can be only one use for the barbed wire: to injury anyone using the path, since it won’t keep wildlife out and there are no cows—it’s 100% pointless.

Since I took this photograph, the top two wires are now non-barbed, at least on this side of the freeway, but barbed wire remains on the lower tiers (as of May 2 2015). But even those metal poles could do serious damage to anyone hitting them. They should be set back at least twenty feet, not placed so close to the edge of the path. This is a brand-new installation; the old poles and wire were ripped out. The contractor ought to have refused to perform the work for such a dangerous idea.

This is a serious safety hazard, paid for by your tax dollars. Whoever is responsible should have their paycheck docked to fix this with their personal dollars. A summary firing would be even better—this kind of judgment for public works is fatally flawed.

Barbed wire along the Hwy 92 overpass over I280, San Mateo County

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