Friday, March 29, 2013

Stages of Desire: Stage 1 - Anticipation

I have made no secret about the desire that I have to replace the wheels on my bike with something "better".  No matter how much I instruct my inner self that I just need to deal with Rule 5 and allow the basic equipment that I have on the bike get me stronger, and deal with upgrades when the actual need for an upgrade arises, the desire has grown.  Through all of my research and talking to folks, I've been told that the biggest upgrade I can do is going to be in getting new Wheels.  Lighter, stiffer, more aerodynamic!  If I listen to all of the hype that manufacturers put out there, I should look like Peter flippin Sagan on new wheels!  The reality is that a 38 year old network engineer that is 6'1" and weighs in around 215lbs is never going to look like Peter Sagan on the road. Well, maybe like Peter Sagan when he's 80.

There are some realities, and there are some outside expectations that I have for this upgrade, and I'm looking forward to going through the entire process and doing a write up for each segment.

After going through the investigation process, I decided on getting some Boyd Vitesse alloy wheels as my upgrade.  I had mostly made this decision late last year, but I had told myself that I needed to save up to get them this Spring, specifically for the final preparation for the Assault on Mnt Mitchell in May.  In fact, I'd have said wheels now if they hadn't had such good sales this quarter that they are waiting on a new shipment of parts. 

I chose the Boyd's based on recommendations from several friends as well as other folks here locally that are using them.  The overall opinion of the wheel has been extremely positive, and the fact that they are assembled here locally means that I have a local source to work with if I should happen to have a problem.  They also make the wheel in two varieties:  1 set for light people, and 1 set for Clydesdales like myself.  The fact that they make a wheel that is rated for someone up to 240 lbs gives me more confidence that I will have the best chance of not having wheel issues possible.  Most modern high end wheels end up having a top end recommended weight of between 200 and 220 lbs.  

As for expectations, I expect that they are going to be lighter than my existing wheels, and that they should take less energy to keep rolling.  What I want to see is how the difference in a better hub as well as a better balance of weight between the hub and the rim equates to pedaling efficiency.  My hope is that when I'm dealing with a larger incline (between 8-10%) I can keep the wheel rotating with less exertion than I do currently, either while seated or standing.  Whether it's because of flex/stiffness, weight distribution, weight of the wheelset or mystical wheel mojo can be up for debate.  This may equate to a slightly better speed while climbing, but only from a Greg LeMond "it never gets easier" standpoint.  At some point the amount of effort to climb is no longer determined by the low speed rolling resistance, and instead is a factor of the ability to climb and keep your heart rate under control.  My expectations are that at 8% incline I should be able to keep a cadence of 70 while in the 34-24 gear ratio with a lower heart rate with the new wheels.  There are always variables to deal with when setting expectations as specific as this such as temperature, time of day, fueling, and overall condition.  I have data points from earlier this year on Paris Mountain that I'm expecting to use as a baseline to compare to.  It won't be perfect, but it should work as a basic measure to get an initial comparison. 

Until the new shipment of parts comes in, all I can do is anticipate the adventure to come!

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