Planet Damian

August 24, 2016

Christof Damian

What is in my bag. Part 1: Small Saddlebag


I wanted to this for a while, but it came up again recently, so here it goes.

This is my small saddle bag, that I use daily and in group rides. For sportives or Gran Fondos I use a slightly bigger bag, which I will come to in a different post.

I don't really like to have too much stuff in the jersey pockets. On the usual rides I just carry my phone, cash, credit card and keys and maybe one gel. When it is colder or changing also a wind jacket.
 
  • mini tool
  • chain tool
  • the silver tools, where I have no idea what they are for
  • tire levers
  • CO2 cartridge and valve
  • spare tube, this is a pretty big and robust one for 28mm tires 
  • chain pins
  • tube valve extenders, in case I have to borrow a tube
  • tube valve tool
  • presta adapter, to use petrol station compressors
  • patches
  • spare contact lens


All of this fits into a Lezyne Roll Caddy, which looks nice and fits to the saddle easily. 

In case you are wondering where my pump is: it is a small Topeak pump fitted to one of the bottle holders.

Use the comments for any tips or questions.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at August 24, 2016 02:00 PM

July 21, 2016

Christof Damian

La Ruta Minera



Mauro talked me into taking part in the La Ruta Minera sportive, conveniently he broke his collarbone before and didn't join.

On paper this looked like a lot of fun. It is a bit shorter than Gran Fondo La Mussara and a "bit" more climbing.

The event starts and finishes in Berga, which is an hour away with the car. There is no good rail connection, so I rented a car for the long weekend.
I booked a hotel through the sportive organisation from Friday to Sunday, with the race being on Sunday. The Hotel HCC Ciutat de Berga was nothing special, but the front desk was very friendly and he did the sportive last year. He even checked out my gears to make sure I was not trying with a 11-25 cassette. They allowed bikes in the rooms for this weekend and also provided extra early breakfast and late checkout on Sunday.

Saturday was for relaxing and sight seeing. The old town of Berga is pretty and for the nerds they have the only Free Software Street in the world.





Sunday the race. I felt good. I had stuffed myself with pasta the previous days. I had water and gels. The bicycle was mostly OK (some problems with the bearings in the front wheel). All systems go.

Maybe the uphill start should have given me a clue, but the temperature was nice and so was the landscape. The first climb was easy to manage around 600m of climbing. But the second one already took most out of me, 1000m of climbing with one ramp of 23% gradient.
Distance wise this was only the halfway point and lots of climbing remained.

Before the next big climb the temperature went up to 37C with nearly no tree coverage. On the last hill the heat took everything out of me. I stopped a few times in the shadow just to cool down again.

The finish line obviously was also a climb. Overall there were only two sections that were flat and allowed me to slipstream a bit.
That my descending sucks also didn't really help.

But ... I did finish and it is a beautiful area of Catalunya. The organisation was also lovely, it felt like a big family. There were less than 600 cyclists taking part, which is a lot less than my previous sportives.

I am probably not going to try this again, but will visit the area when it is a bit cooler :-)

Some more photos in my google photo album.














by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 21, 2016 06:53 PM

July 01, 2016

Christof Damian

Half Time for New Year Resolutions

Half a year is over and it is time to see how my New Year Resolutions are going.

Yoga Everyday

Pretty well I would say. Since I started tracking it with HabitBull I have done it in three of four days. I found it harder when traveling or with days where I have work and evening events. But I am happy with this so far.

Cycling Mini Adventures 

I didn't put a number on this, but I was imagining something like about once a month. I had to cancel the Velothon Berlin because of work. But I did some other stuff.

This month a trip to Andorra and Berga.

Draw something every day

90% success in drawing something, the number for recognizable things is lower.

Blog once a month

If you count this one for last month I am fine.

12 Books

This was ambitious, it it got worse before it got better.

  • The Girl on the Train - very nice, I read this very fast
  • Remote - rubbish, a string of fortune cookie texts
  • Ordinary Thunderstorms, good start - bad middle - no end
  • Seveneves - I gave up, this must be the most boring book in the world. It is like watching the paint dry, where you already know which part drys first.
  • The Expanse 1-5 - I found this through goodreads, it is a very simple space opera with some nice ideas and characters. Now I have to wait until the author writes more books.

So I am doing good so far, it can only get worse...

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 01, 2016 10:43 PM

May 23, 2016

Christof Damian

Gran Fondo La Mussara 2016 Report

Last year I attended the the Gran Fondo La Mussara, it is a great event, well organized and with a beautiful route.
Sadly I was not able to finish it. I had to give up after 110 of the 189 km. I was not properly prepared due to various injuries and illnesses in the beginning of the year. And I got another injury during the ride.
But I decided to give it another try this year, so I registered early as this event sells out pretty fast.

Registering early including an hotel turned out to be a problem. The hotel forgot all registrations and notified the organizers with one week to spare. Luckily I found another hotel, which turned out to be a bit more expensive, but much better. It is just one kilometre from the start, has really big rooms, you are allowed to take your bike to the room and they organized a special early breakfast for the riders. So if you are in the area I can highly recommend Brea's Hotel, maybe not for a romantic weekend, but for riding or doing anything at the Fira it works out brilliantly.

Another fun bit this year was the panic about disc brakes at sportives in Spain. Luckily this got sorted out beforehand and doesn't affect my events this year. But I won't be registering for any others until this is settled for good.

The Gran Fondo is a very well organized event. The start and finish line is at the Fira Reus. This is also where you pick up your race pack, jersey and the pasta party after the event is held.
The race pack contains your start number with timer chip, a booklet with all kind of information about the race, one very useful sticker for your top bar with the food stop locations, one sticker with the height profile and some energy food.

The jersey was the one let-down. I generally don't like to be forced to use the jerseys provided by the sportive, and this time it really showed why. It was much too small for everyone and the quality was really bad. The zip didn't work well and got stuck all the time. As this was probably the cheapest version of Santini jerseys it also only had three smallish pockets. I can't see anyone of the 5000 participants buying from Santini in the future.

The problems I identified last year were:
  • injuries before the race
  • injuries during the race
  • running out of energy early (bonking)
  • and then overeating at the food stops  
I avoided injuries before the race this time and whenever something did hurt I made sure I rested enough and left the bike at home.
My strategy for avoiding the bonk in this year was to start with enough energy. This meant mainly eating lots of pasta in the three days before the event. Maybe twice as much as would typically eat. 
For food during the race I packed 10 of my preferred energy gel and four packs of power for energy drinks to avoid the food station food. I only stopped to stock up on water. 
I also set the alarm on my Garmin to 20 minutes and 300 kcal to remind me to eat and drinks.
To avoid injuries during the race I stayed in the saddle most of the time, which is easier on the knees and tendons and I set a heart rate maximum alarm on the Garmin too. 
All of this worked out pretty well. I arrived at the finish line with energy left and without pain. Very tired though.

After the race I had my protein shakes prepared and in the evening I was fit enough to check out Reus and have dinner there.




We spend the night in Reus and went back late Sunday, after checking out a village food and wine fair that I noticed them setting up on the day before. Very typical Spanish with a monster Paella dish.

I am probably not doing this Gran Fondo again, as the route seems to be the same every year. But I can highly recommend it. Even the small one with 89 km is a very nice route and gives you most of the experience without killing yourself.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at May 23, 2016 12:14 PM

April 13, 2016

Christof Damian

Gran Fondo Barcelona 2016 Review

race number
This year I took part in the second Gran Fondo Barcelona. A Gran Fondo or Sportive is basically a large group ride with a given route, which shouldn't be competitive. The advantage is that you are often travelling on closed roads and there is some support in form of food stops and mechanical support.

I already took part in the 2015 edition, so I knew a lot of the things that were expecting me.

Registration was a lot better this time. It was situated on the top of Montjuic, not far from the Olympic stadium. This time it was held outdoors in a big tent, so it would have been possible to come with your bike. The whole process took only ten minutes or so.
A minor problem was the availability of jerseys, my large version was too large and there were no more mediums available. But they are sorting this out now, so I will have my jersey to remember the ride with a good fit.
As you were required to wear the official jersey on the day I just used the too large version. I don't think requiring these is a good idea. Cyclists are picky about their equipment and I probably would have chosen something a bit warmer. It also makes it impossible to recognise any friends you are riding with. Or yourself on the photos.
Anyway - I got my race pack, which includes the jersey, arm warmers, some energy food and for some reason a pack of beef stock.

sunrise
This time I tried to prepare a bit better than the last time. On the night before I had a massive portion of spaghetti, more than I can usually fit in my belly.

start
Early rise on the day, shower a large muesli and packing energy bars and wind-stopper. It was pretty cold in the morning.

Short ride up to the starting line on Montjuic. I guess there were maybe 600 riders all together. They had the usually horrible euro-techno sound-system and for some reason cheerleaders (!)


stop
From Montjuic we went along the coast to Sitges, where the first food stop was. I skipped that one to keep going a bit faster, but after a kilometre or so we all got stopped by the lead car and basically waited until everyone caught up. This would be a theme that would continue for most of the race. And when we were not stopping the car in front would drive so slow that everyone was riding in one big peloton. This made riding some narrow roads quite tricky.

another stop
I am not a fast rider, but for 120km I was able to see the "leader" in front of me and I even arrived just ten minutes behind him at the finish line. When they said "non-competitive" they really meant it. There was a mention of a minimum speed of 24km/h, but apparently they also enforced a maximum top speed of 30km/h.
At some point we also lost the police escort for further delays.

In the end I only used one food stop to refill my water, with the energy bars I had with me it was enough.

I got away without a puncture too.

medal
But I managed to finish. The finish line is extra special with this Gran Fondo, because it is 10km away from the start, the medal and the pasta party. I heard from some people who didn't know this and so either were surprised by the additional climb or never picked up their medal.

My average over the 138km was 28.88km/h

I would really suggest to move start and finish to the same place. It doesn't have to be in the centre of Barcelona either, which probably would make it easier with space and permits.


Overall I enjoyed myself, but I am not sure I would do it again next year. Compared with Gran Fondo Mussara, which I am doing in May it is just not as well organized. And most of the roads I am riding all the time anyway. It will be more for people who come from other cities and want to also enjoy Barcelona.

In summary, the good parts:

  • the route
  • registration 
  • food stops
  • police escort (they where very nice, skilled and helpful)
  • the jersey (and replacing it with the correct size)
  • food stops
  • beef stock
the bad:
  • distance between finish line and pasta party + medal
  • the medal is a bit boring
  • "official" and "VIP" cars, they were in the way quite a bit
  • slowing down the whole ride, so that really fast riders were probably bored
  • random stops

As I said: next sportive is Gran Fondo Mussara mid May near Reus, which will be much harder. Last year I gave up after 120km of 189km. This time I will be hopefully better prepared.















by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at April 13, 2016 07:00 PM