THE BIRTH OF “SAMI”
- BIKE FRAME
In my 2017 budget, I allocated $10,000USD for my next bike. But, I put the house I own on the market and decided to pull the purchase forward. By the time 2017 comes around and the purchase complete, I would have past on Ironman Cairns, maybe Kona, and Ironman New Zealand. Shelly and I have had a great run but it was time for something new. And, while I could still rely on Shelly, I wanted something new and even better. I was doing everything I could to qualify for the world championship like becoming a near vegan, training nearly 25 hours per week, and training in a way I haven’t before as a self-coached athlete. And while a new bike wouldn’t suddenly bring a miracle performance, I didn’t want it to hinder my performance by even 1%. For it’s those “one percenters” that I am fighting for to the quality of athletes in the M30-34 Age Group based in Australia. Every second counts. Note: At IM Australia 2015 I was 2 spots out, 4:15 back or 0.7% out. And at IM Western Australia 2015 I was 2 spots out again at 12:12 back or 2.3% (Close enough).
Option 1: Money was essentially no option. I wanted the best. But what would it be? Maybe I stay loyal to Scott and get the 2016 Scott Plasma. I had just seen Luke McKenzie dominate with a 4:08:12 leading to the fastest ever Ironman by an Australian on Australian soil and it was great congratulating him and having a chat after Busso. But honestly, I couldn’t stand the yellow color and when I went back to www.racycles.com, the frameset alone was $6,000USD. The Premium Bike was $13,000USD; they were smoking something. Then I looked back and thought about all those times my lower back got sore. While the rowing injury at Northeastern University seemed to play into it according to my Chiropractor Craig Sperling at Alice Therapeutic Center, even Shane at Smith St Velo said the bike was quite aggressive. Maybe this bike was just too aggressive for me.
Option 2: The Cervelo P5. In 2015, Cervelo won the Kona Bike Count for the 11th straight year. This means that for 11 years, the best athletes in the world have chosen Cervelo. Well that seems like a good choice, but when 20% of the field rides this, why do I need to be like them? I yearn to differentiate myself. Back on www.racycles.com, I could get an older frame for around $6,000 and a 2015 model would cost $11,000. Again, I hated the color and I didn’t want an older model.
Other Options: Where else could I turn to? It was recommended to me the Cannondale Slice or Trek, but I had just never really put those on the pedestal that I wanted them to be on. And while Fiona qualified on her Cannondale slice, I still wanted a Ferrari, not a Porsche. The Specialized Shiv is now everywhere and #3 in the Kona Count… too many. I was even considering the Felt since Rhinny rides that. BMC, neh. And while Merida’s are being bought in Alice Springs like hot-chips, they are barely existent in Kona with 13 bikes out of the 2,000 bikes represented.
Option three: Then in March 2016, I got an email newsletter from www.triathlon.competitor.com and the 2016 Buyers Guide. I saw her, read the description and thought “Wow, this could be the one.” Welcome to the Argon 18 E-119 Tri+. “$12,250, Argon18bike.com. The draw: Lightweight superbike that handles well. The Argon 18 E-119 Tri+ has just about every feature that a superbike should possess. It’s lighter than most of its counterparts (18.9 pounds in size medium with all accessories and 17.2 pounds without), is plenty aerodynamic (a UCI-illegal frame, integrated brakes and aerobars make it reportedly 15 percent faster than the E-118 Next), has a stiff bottom bracket, top-tier ride qualities, and has well-thought-out nutrition and hydration options. The Tri+ also allows clearance for 25mm tires, is fairly easy to prepare for travel and comes stock with top-of-the-line parts. Another noteworthy feature is the E-119’s ability to tilt the aerobar extensions, a quality that many bikes lack. Triathletes with a flexible budget looking to buy the ultimate race bike will not be let down by the full-featured E-119 Tri+.”
I started doing my research and was quickly getting hooked. A Canadian company, 5th in the 2015 Kona bike count. Full integration (of the wires). The rear brakes alone took 6 months to engineer. Everything a triathlete would want by a company named for the Element Argon, which is “A Noble Gas” and created by a retired pro cyclist that had been to the Olympics. Well that’s cool. Yep, I think I found her. Let the purchasing ensue!
I went back to www.racycles.com (out of Brookyn, NYC) and they were selling the Argon 18 E119 Tri+ for $5,750USD. Shit, here we go again. But after plenty of googling, I found an Australia website called www.bikebug.com. Wait a minute. $6,000? AUD? But that’s only $4,400USD. Score! Even with 10% of Australian GST, I was paying 30% less than a store in the US? And then when I looked more at this website, the prices blew my mind. (Except for nutrition). The prices for nutrition needs are aweful and completely Australian prices. I buy my nutrition from many sources but lately go to: www.allstarhealth.com.
2. POWER METER
Ever since I learned about power meters in 2010, I wanted one. But knowing they were $1,000-$4,000 was enough to make me put a hold on that. In 2013, I finally took the leap with Shelly and upgraded the SRAM 80’s to ZIPP Firecrest Carbon Clinchers with a Cycleops Power Meter. I chose this so I could move wheels between bikes. But like I said before, I haven’t touched my road bike in nearly a year. It was a great introduction and well worth it. I had bought this kit for $2,600USD from www.racycles.com once again. Note I also chose clinchers vs tubulars because trying to deal with Glue and a flat in the middle of a race would be a big issue. Clinchers are now on par with tubulars and I just didn’t want to deal with that type of stress if I were to get a flat. With Clinchers, if you get a flat, it’s easy and quick. And then, if another 1 or 2 were to incur, you’re still good! I’ll never even consider tubulars.
The next most important purchase was in fact the powermeter. I was done with PowerTap. I wanted what the best in the world use (like my wife) J Hey, she’s going to Kona, give me a break! I didn’t want an SRM since you have to mail those in to change the battery supposedly. Pioneer, I didn’t know enough about either. But Quarq is what Fiona was using and would be easily compatible with my next important piece. I went with the Quarq Elsa RS GXP Powermeter, 172.5mm (same length as current crank). But this time, after googling I went with www.excelsports.com out of Boulder, Colorado. $1,138USD for this powermeter was a deal! Meanwhile, www.racycles.com has now lost me. I’m able to find cheaper components on everything. And note to anyone reading this, a powermeter is bar-none, the BEST single best investment you can do for triathlon or cycling. Period.
Shelly wears SRAM Red. I didn’t choose Di2 electronic shifting because the set is around $3,500. But like I said, I wasn’t holding back in this purchase. Di2 made sense for a few reasons the primary reason being, the ability to shift while standing out of the saddle and hands on handlebars. This would save me time, increase stability, safety, and power transfer. I bought all the cablings and chain rings from www.excelsports.com. The remaining components (and the most expensive), was purchased through www.chainreactioncycles.com out of Northern Ireland, UK.
I am a big fan of Zipp. While I may sound like a hypocrite to my statement before about not wanting to be like everyone else, I did choose Zipp. Absolute domination in Kona with the vast majority of the field on these Zipps for years and years, it’s hard to deny how good they are. I have loved my Firecrest 808’s and was keen on a new set. The reason for a new set was since I changed up the powermeter, there was no point in riding a bike with 2 powermeters. So would it be the Firecrest or the newest wheel the NSW (Nest Speed Weaponry). I had seen a review of these new wheels in LAVA magazine and watched some youtube videos. They were pretty amazing.
“Zipp’s new NSW wheelset line-up takes the technology achieved by the company’s revolutionary Firecrest wheelsets, and kicks it up several notches. From siped braketracks to zero-drag graphics to magnetically actuated hubs that automatically disengage while coasting, NSW is no-holds-barred performance in the form of the sleekest and fastest wheels ever to come out of Zipp’s Indiana, USA, factory.” Yea, that pretty much sums up what I was trying to go with on this bike. Done.
Once again I went to www.racycles.com The wheels were nearly $3400USD. No no no. I did more searching and I found www.probikekit.com. Weeks later I was watching the tracking of the wheels fly from England, UK through Singapore, to Brisbane, South Australia, and then Alice Springs.
I also bought a rear disc cover. Instead of spending $2500 on a rear disc to sit idle most of the time, I once again went to www.wheelbuilder.com and bought a new wheel cover for under $100 that I’ll put on in a week or so.
Shane at Smith St Velo, Alice Springs is my guy and I have recommended him to all my mates to go to him. In fact, last season I believe all of the Busso Crew: Me, Fiona, Lynnie, Deb, Karen, and Matt all got new bike fit’s with him. We get our bikes serviced there etc. And my reasoning is “trusted-service”. Hands down, the most pleasure buying experience I have in Alice Springs.
He knew it was coming. I brought the boxes and he supported me putting it all together for me. He noted it was a very complicated build and 7 hours of building, 1 hour of fit adjustments, and then fine tuning and there you have it. The only delay was my mistake in buying the wrong bottom bracket that I asked him to buy and expedite in shipping.
On Shelly, the bike was nearly complete when I had bought her from www.racycles.com in 2011. But since I sourced from Australia, USA, England, and Ireland, I went with the build. Hopefully, I gave Shane a positive working experience.
6. The First Ride
I went home and introduced Sami to Coach Sydney; they got along just fine. I attached my Garmin 500 and paired it to the Quarq just fine. I filled up the box with 3 tubes and 3 C02s. (The Box is awesome). I put 3 Clif Blocs in the bento box, and 2 bottles on the back. I rode it around my neighborhood to get a feel for it. Then I took off for the Airport Loop.
Initially, the fit felt really good. It felt more relaxed and comfortable than the Scott Plasma. My elbows were more on the pads vs my forearms so this might be an adjustment. It felt fast and I was at a high cadence of 95. Once past through the Gap, I got back down into the aero position looking at power and the speed already on 43kph (27mph). Well, this is good, I thought. I then shifted using the new Di2 which was just so quick and sharp. It was pretty amazing. Then I started practicing grabbing the bloks which worked just fine vs my typical XLAB accessories. (I don’t know where I’ll put my salt tablets just yet though). I also drank from the torpedo cage which is also a welcoming. Now, I don’t have to pull the bottle out from the torpedo cage. The one bad thing about this is that I’m looking nearly straight down when drinking… Will need to be careful and work on that one. But, filling up the torpedo was great. I open the hatch, squeeze the bottle in, then close the cap. The bottles on the integrated wing are also in a better position than the XLAB was on Shelly.
On my first ride of 49 minutes covering 18.5miles or 29.9km I held zone 3 power on 247NP. I hit a max speed of 32.3MPH/52kph (tail wind but not pushing it)
From this one ride, one of the major highlights is the powermeter. It’s one level up from Fiona’s. It doesn’t require an external magnet, has Left/Right Balance as well. Note to Garmin 920XT users: Initially the power meter did not pair to the 920XT but it did to the Garmin 500. I removed all sensors including HR monitor. Did a soft restart and moved it away from the other bikes, then it picked it up. The HR monitor always seems to screw up pairing power meters.
Tomorrow, I will do a new FTP test. I expect good things from this test since it has been too long since I last tested. I’m going with a 20min trainer test vs our typical 30min outdoor test for various reasons. Then we’ll be outside for the rest of the race-paced workout.
The last part in this series will be Sami vs Shelly.
I have bought one brand new car in my life, a Hyundai Getz when I moved to Alice Springs. It was around $14,500AUD. That was cheaper than this new bike. But this is my passion. Later in the night, Fiona and I celebrated with some French Champagne. Similar to my first year rowing at Northeastern University when a brand new Empacher 8 arrived at the boat house, champagne was poured over the front. Who wants to smash a champagne bottle on anything, even if it is made of Carbon Fiber? So just like that day 14 years ago, I christened Sami pouring some of the yellow stuff on the top tube and down tube of the frame. I suppose it’s better than the yellow stuff that will drip down its sides in 3 weeks at Ironman Cairns. Happy Riding.