Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NGR E-Load

Alright, alright. Enough procrastinating, I'm down to the last hour of the year and I want to stay on the team as the token slow guy that makes everybody else look good. Of all the products our Benevolent Dicktator arranged for us to represent this past season the one that surprised me the most was E-Load.

The Product - delicious strawberry

I had only tried the stuff once before, in the middle of a 100km race in 37 degree heat, and it was mixed wrong. The worst cramping I have ever had.

Fast forward to this year and I am loving E-Load. Mixed properly it has gotten me through long rides in much better shape than I historically had, I know that's hard for some of you Big Ringers to believe but it's true. It has even seen me though longer winter training sessions...

Like a true roadie, shades, no helmet and drinking in the stupidest way possible

Of course the sponsor offers more than one product, another favorite is EMEND. Post exercise recovery drinks for all your naked recovery....

Blogging and recovering all at once, I love technology.

Other than being tardy, what's morally wrong with my NGR? You would have to know me and somebody else on the team reasonably well to get it.


Naked Gear Review - Cervelo R3 SL

OK Big Ring, I get it. You want to see me naked. The late night phone calls, the fancy dinners, even the booze weren't enough to get me to drop my drawers but you've pulled out the big guns and threatened to kick me off the team. Well played - you win. Here I am in all my naked gear reviewing glory...

As pointed out in Big Ring's blog a few days ago, I've left my review to the last minute. As it's a bit chilly for my liking to do an outdoor naked review, I've decided to review the bike that's on the trainer, which also happens to be my newest bike, the Cervelo R3 SL.

This bike was an unexpected purchase. I had called Cycle Logik just to see how good Cervelo's year end sale was on their cheapest carbon bike, the RS. I was informed the only bike Cervelo had left in my size was one of their most expensive bikes, the R3 SL. I politely informed them that this bike was WAY outside of my budget despite the fact that this was my dream bike and the bike Carlos Sastre won this years tour on. Well, it only took about 24 hours for me to re-evaluate my budget and commit to buy the bike. Unfortunately, this all happened at the end of the riding season and the only outdoor time I've had on the bike was a 5 km loop of the experimental farm with my 5 year old son on his BMX and the rest of the fam. Not exactly the type of riding the bike was designed for. Oh well, here are my initial impressions of the bike based on our limited time together.

Looks - It's go fast black with a hint of "See ya later" white. In other words, it's freakin' gorgeous!

Weight - Picking up the bike for the photographs last night, I'd say it weighs a tad over 16 pounds with pedals, water bottle cages and Garmin 705 bike computer (confirmed with a bike scale). Not bad at all for a huge frame.

The ride - As mentioned, I've had limited time on it outside. Having said that, even just at a modest pace it feels faster. Seriously - it was really weird but even just cruising along it felt smoother and faster. I did a couple of quick jumps for fun and it just rockets. The difference from my old bike was enough that I assumed the bearings in my wheels and/or bottom brackets must be shot but when I checked they both spun nice and smooth. Very strange - might all be mental at this point but time will tell. Other high points: the carbon does seem to soak up more road noise (I'm coming from an aluminum frame), the 7800 Dura-Ace shifters/derailleur combo has more positive clicks than the 7700 I was coming off of and I especially like the return of the trim function on the front derailleur. Low points - only one so far. The rear Hed Bastogne rim has a slight imperfection in it which is annoying when braking. Cycle Logik will clear that up with Hed though, so not a real issue. Oh, and how is it on the trainer you might ask? Well a picture is worth a thousand words, so...

Oh yeah baby - this bike was worth it. I've never been able to get that aero on the trainer before, nor have I gotten that close to the ironing board in a single training session. I can only image that it will be better on the road.

That's it for this review, but now that I've lost my blogging virginity (yes, this was my first time and it wasn't quite like I imagined it would be - is it always this messy?) there will be more to come. A follow up outdoor review of the R3 SL will be in order, I want to get a review in of my beautiful Vassago Optimus Ti SS (Dr. Peter and I may have to do a "he said, she said" with that one as we both bought the same bike - the good doctor of course providing the feminine perspective) , and due to the positive experience I've had with that bike's 29er wheels I'm thinking of converting my beloved Ibis Mojo over to 650B wheels, which will definitely warrant a review. Oh, and stay tuned for my New Year's resolution...

Phat Tony

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day CSM Training Outing With The Whole Famn Damily(not quite)

Got out for my 6th ski of the season today on Christmas Day. I think thats a personal record. I did CSM Bronze on about 140 training kms 2 years ago, thats 140kms for a 160km timed marathon. I winged it, it went well, so did Silver last year and so this year we - Coco and I - are reaching for Gold, with all these training kilometers and the time remaining until this years CSM, I'm hoping for great results. Todays ski was kind of special though as we - Jenn, Matt,myself, were out for a fun ski with the dogs for our annual Christmas day outing, and I had plans to do some *homework thats been awhile coming*.

We went to nearby Larose Forest where there's a 21km out and back groomed ski trail thats really nice for a quick ski when a drive to the Gats isn't really practical.

The weather today was fairly warm and we used a 0 to -2 red that the pine needles which were abundant in some sections rubbed off fairly quickly.

Before too long though the hard work of skiing ahead of my ski partners caused my body to heat up more than comfortable and i had to do something about it.

I told those guys to go ahead so i could layer and not have to listen to complaints about the amount of time i was taking, which is inevitable with these guys, it would be easy to catch up anyway!

After i caught up to those guys i realized i should take the opporunity to plug the great Kenda gear I've enjoyed using over the 08 biking season and draw attention to the fact that its also great for other fun sports!

I hope everyone got some great new gear in the stockings,

supporting actors
Jenn (Fiance)
Matt (Fiances brother,teammate)
Riley (Chocolate Lab)
Molly (Weinmeraner)
Ashton(Heinz 57)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How to Shoot a "Naked Gear Review" - Part II

How To Do A Naked Gear Review - Part II
(not to be confused with the children's story book of the same name)
- by the original big ring

Ask Yourself, "What Do I Want To Review?":

You must also choose what you are going to review. It needs to be something that you feel worthy of getting your gear off for. For example, my Vassago Bandersnatch - totally worth getting naked for. I'm also waiting for a very special Vassago product to arrive sometime soon to get naked for! Time will tell.

LinkLinkThe facial expression captures your readers attention.
My facial expression in this photo is saying, "Yeah baby! This bike is the cat's meow."

It's All in the Eyes:

You may also notice my facial expressions. Try mixing it up. The same boring bland smile may have worked on your significant other, but it ain't going to work on tech savvy bike geeks looking for a little skin. Use your money maker and sell the product!

Camera Angle:

Stan's No Tubes
Try different vantage points. Shooting from the same location gets boring. Mix it up a little.

Product Placement:

The use of strategically placed objects help cut down on the need for 'blocking rectangles'.

A wheel works well.

From a recent review, my knee/leg creates the perfect "My eyes! They burn!" shield.

LinkIn this review that I am presently working on for Citra Wipes, I photoshop'ed a towelette to be much larger than it actually is so to act as a cover up. It also 'exaggerates' the product - an advertising trick widely used.

Get Creative:

LinkPlaygirl centre fold? Moi?!? Awwww, shucks - you're making me blush!
What cycling related piece of gear could I possibly be reviewing on my sofa? My heart rate monitor.

One last tip, try taking some shots in unexpected places. Most all of us will be in the workshop or on the trail when taking photos for your review of cycling gear. Be creative and get out of the workshop and off the trail.

Good luck, have fun and I'll be keeping an eye out for you on the web!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to Shoot a "Naked Gear Review" -Part I

LinkWith 2008 quickly coming to an end, there are several Big Ring Racing team members who may be looking for a new team to race for next year. It seems as though Phat Tony, King, Golonghardman, Coco and Zamboni have forgotten their agreed upon contractual terms of agreement: at least one naked gear review before the year is up. With only a few days left, I hope the boys get some new gear under the tree that they can review. Here's a little help to get you started . . . .

How To Do A Naked Gear Review
(not to be confused with the children's story book of the same name)
- by the original big ring

Get Comfortable:


First, you've got to feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera. No one wants to see some one all stiff (if you're into that sort of thing you need to look at other places on the internet) and uptight. I like to loosen up my going in my backyard and bouncing on the trampoline for a wee bit wearing nothing but a ten gallon cowboy hat. It feels good and my neighbors love it. But with it being winter and stuck indoors, I like to pretend I am an animal, wild and free. Rwooooar!

Loosen Up:

Next, I like to limber up so that I feel loose and won't pull a muscle while I get into my poses.

The calf muscles are especially important to stretch. Doesn't my bottom look taut!?!

Reveal Your Goods Without Blinding Anyone Permanently:

Face it, if you're as ugly as me, no one wants to see you naked. So, you're going to have to use some sort of "blocking" device to cover up your junk or be prepared for people to send you nasty e-mails telling you to put your clothing back on.

You must decide how generous, or modest, you are going to be with your cover ups.

Here I am in one of my earliest 'naked gear reviews'. I was fairly modest with my rectangle. What can I say, I was feeling a bit shy being new to the 'naked gear review' thing, the basement was also very cold that day so there was 'shrinkage' involved - hence the smaller square.

Here I am wearing a very nice vest that I picked up in Switzerland this past summer

The shot above, however, I was feeling relaxed and the workshop was at room temperature allowing me to 'hang' how I normally do. Hence, the need for an appropriate sized rectangle.

Penis nosed elves are perfect "Ewwww! My eyes! They burn!" shields

Also, don't limit yourself to just using black squares and rectangles. See More on this in tomorrow's Part II.


Lighting is very important. The above shot is during a review I am working on for my lighting system. It didn't work so well. When shooting outdoors, make sure you do so in enough light.

The sun is providing perfect lighting to show off my lilly, white taut bum as I ride off in the distance on my Vassago Jabberwocky.

Choose a Theme For Your Review:

Besides the obvious , I have a running theme in all my reviews: I am wearing my helmet, socks and shoes, and sometimes gloves and glasses. Wardrobe changes are important too. Notice I am wearing different items in my photos? It keeps the reader coming back for more, "What won't he be wearing this time!?"

* Part II of "How to Shoot a 'Naked Gera Review'" is tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best Ride Ever

Last night the skiing was crap, so Paul and I decided it was a good idea to ride our bikes instead. The rainy thaw on Monday combined with the freeze on Tuesday made for excellent riding conditions. It was my third snowy ride of the season and by far the best.

Introducing Crazy Paul

On an undisclosed trail in an undisclosed park, we climbed and climbed until we reached the top. That's when the fun began. The trail was hard packed from the many generous snowshoers who unknowingly created the ultimate singletrack. It was swoopy and fast just like Albion Hills. For the last downhilly section, I focused on hanging onto Paul's wheel going as fast as I could. Weeee!

However, the reward wasn't without risk. If you lost concentration for a second and veered off the trail even an inch, your tire would sink to the hub and you'd superman over the bars landing with a thud on the hard trail ahead. Between the two of us we must have endo'ed half a dozen times, many times at high speed. But that didn't dampen our spirits. We just picked ourselves up and happily jumped back on our bikes ready for more.

One happy Vagabond!

We finished the ride with big stupid grins, high on endorphins. When I went to bed last night, I replayed the ride helmet-cam style over and over. So much fun! Wish you Big Ringers could have been there too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Missed Gilles and Tanya's xc ski this morning. Got out for a good skate ski in the late morning instead.

Am I the only one on this team doing anything worth blogging about? Even if it's not worth blogging about, let's hear about it.