Archive for October, 2010

Fit Kit – 2010 Specialized Tarmac Elite

October 29, 2010 3 comments


I will write up a post later on why I choose Specialized, a lot of people seem to ask that, but this post is a pure and simple review of the 2010 Specialized Tarmac elite.

This bike replaced my 1986 Gardin, which was long in the tooth and if I was going to get serious needed something else.  I bought this bike in August 2010 from the LBS in Smiths Falls Ontario, SportX, and got what I felt was a very good deal as this was towards the end of the year. I thought my budget would only allow me to get the Allez Comp, but came home with the Tarmac!

The bike looks like this


Likes: Smooth ride, great shifting, comfortable, looks great, fast!

Dislikes:seat, brakes



The frame is Specialized FACT IS 8r carbon fiber, what that means I don’t know but this frame is light, looks great, is stiff and I like the angles it has. I did a lot of internet agonizing over aluminum versus Carbon Fiber and checked with friends and Carbon Fiber just seems the way to go right now. Specialized certainly likes a very fat down tube which compared to the skinny down tube on my Gardin is outright huge and it’s the one aesthetic aspect of the bike I don’t like, other than that the rest looks sweet in my mind. I think in 2011 this frame is called SL2 while the S-Works and higher end spec bikes are 10r/SL3. Either way this bike delivers more than my pedaling can offer. I removed the Saxo Bank sticker on the top tube (super easy, not very well attached really) and I like the carbon weave on the top top. Kept the sticker on the seat tube as that didn’t deter from the overall look.



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The 2010 Tarmac elite uses a Shimano 105 5600 group which includes double crank, brake lever/shifter, and front and rear derailleurs. In a perfect world this would be SRAM RED or DuraAce or Campy Super Record but those are not within my budget and wanted to buy from an LBS so 105 it was. seems like an interesting model to get better components cheap so maybe in the future? 

I have done about 700kms so far and nothing has broken, shifts on the rear so far are pretty quick and crisp. Every once in a while I have to tap the brake/shifter lever a bit to get it to engage but not worrisome.

Front is a bit more difficult, I worry a bit that I have broken the lever as it takes some time to move it up or down on the crank, usually just have to do it again. Still has always worked in the end and nothing I am too worried about. I rode a Shimano 2300 equipped Giant bike this summer and the chain was all over the place, dumped the chain a few times, and was frustrating. So far the 105 has held up great.

There is a new Shimano Group for 2011, the 5700, and the 2011 bike is SRAM APEX equipped which I think I would have preferred that but not unhappy with what I have.



This is where the Tarmac shines compared to my Gardin. There is a more comfortable reach to the handlebars and the position of the brake levers and the bends in the bars are much more natural.  Maybe a few too many wires but you get used to that right away. The 2011 105 group hides the wires BTW.


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Don’t really know what to say here. They are wheels. Nothing fancy but do the trick. The rims are Maxic CXP 22, the tires are Specialized Mondo Pro II. The Hub seems to be a no-name brand. No complains really but I assume an upgrade will make a big difference. May be something on my list for next year.



Seat is a Specialized Toupe (size 143). This is one area that I think I will have to swap out. My butt and this seat just aren’t agreeing. Usually after about 20 minutes the little pain spots appear. I am trying to see if the seat works itself into a better fitting position as I lose weight but consigned to the fact that I will have to find something a bit plusher. There just isn’t enough material for a comfortable seat here.



Left the worst for last. I have been trying to figure out who makes these brakes. There are no identifying marks that I can see. I went to an online shop where you can see all the brakes they sell on one page and tried to do a visual match. Nothing. If anybody knows let me know.

It is the only thing I have had to adjust, the rear brake keeps getting a bit loose and rubs. And now I have noticed that the glossy black finish is starting to come off. Already looking at 105 brakes as that would make the bike complete as well but doing some research as naturally you can go with any brakes you want.

Final Thoughts

I am super happy I took the plunge to spend a couple of grand on this bike. Have been pleased with it every time I take it out.  I see myself upgrading to something better over time but for somebody who is overweight and needs to get fit don’t see needing to get anything else until the engine is no longer what is keeping me back!

Since I took the picture below have added about another 100k. 700k seems like a good point in your use of a bike where you start to get a feel if you think you will really like it, and I think I am really starting to love this bike. Swap out the seat and the brakes and I think this may be the start of a great relationship.


Categories: bicycling, Fit Kit Tags: ,

2011 Starts right now

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Well the cold weather is here so that means usually time to slow down and wait out the chill until spring. Often that means the muscles get weak and the pounds add up. However this was such a great year I can’t just let it fade away like that. So have cast my mind forward to next year and hopefully a more agressive set of events. That means at least three tris, some time trails and hopefully more group rides and swims.  My aim is to continue to improve my fitness and not have to catch up in the new year when spring arrives. However that doesn’t mean as much as I have been doing. Will concentrate on my swimming mostly and dragged out the eliptical trainer down in the dungeon and increase the number of rest days.

Since I know that one problem could be having to catch up on my biking again, I have decided to “try” to ride year around. Maybe only once or twice a week but when the weather is nice (which here means sunny, no wind and -5) get out there. To that end have recently picked up some cold weather riding gear and looking at studded tires for my Devinci.

On the weight side Project 188 didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. Still stuck at 193 pounds. Why? One word FOOD.  Need to get more desciplined there.  Hope to have some good news on that front by next week.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Tale of Two Tris

October 12, 2010 1 comment

Looking a little worst for it at the end of my 2010 efforts

In June of this year I did the first of three triathlons that I ended up doing this year.  The first triathlon of this year was the Smiths Falls Classic on June 20, 2010. Now I live in Smiths Falls so this is in essence my home Triathlon. This was the main way that I was using to get myself motivated to finally get my butt in gear and get fit and since it was really close I wouldn’t have to worry about travel etc. But this wasn’t the first time I tried to do this!!

Back in 2008 I felt quite a bit like I did in 2010. I was in the same weight range (around 215 pounds) and I wanted to do something about it. I also decided then to get into shape and use the motivation of a triathlon to move things along. I also did some fitness related things but not as much as I needed, but still I was ready and willing to do things to make it happen. So on that Sunday in 2008 I lined up with the hundreds of other folks and set off. I did finish, which in of itself was a major achievement and got my times. It ended up derailing my plans for a couple of years.

Here are my 2008 times. My overall time was 1 hour, 46 minutes and six seconds.

Douglas DAVIS Smiths Falls ON 1:46:06   21st out of 23 men in my age group. 147 out of 157 men overall 205th in swim at 16:16 233rd in the run at 34:05  and 218th in the bike at 55:46

Pretty much a the bottom of the list across the board. I got discouraged, stopped working out and what little weight I lost I regained. So one lesson was don’t do an event if you know you will do badly and get depressed afterwards! I wasn’t prepared and it showed.

In 2010 I did the same event, exact same distances and routes. My overall time was 1 hour, 34 minutes and 53 seconds. Or over 12 minutes faster!!

Doug DAVIS Smiths Falls ON 1:34:53 15th out of 16 men in my age group 87th out of 114 men overall 99th in the swim at 14:00 150th in the run at 31:27  and 90th in the bike 49:27 31.

If you compare the two you will see that my swim was 2 minutes faster, my run 5 minutes faster and my bike 6 minutes faster. And I felt a bit more competitive. So what was different?

Two things.

1 was commitment.  I put a plan together and I kept to it. I swam and I biked a lot more then in 2008.

2 was a post triathlon plan. I knew I wanted to still do things after so I planned my fitness plan around things I could keep up with after the fact. That made the time spent leading up to the event doing things at a pace and at times that I knew I would be able to maintain after the event. In 2008 this was all I was doing, so when I finished it wasn’t a rallying call to keep going but a milestone that I had now met and could sit back and enjoy the summer. Once you get off track basically you are back at square one and in 2010 I had to start it aaaallll over again.

As you can see from my finish shot in 2010, still not looking like a pure athlete yet. At this time I was still over 200 pounds, I think 202, and have since lost about 8 more so in the end of the year triathlons I looked I think quite a bit better! Next year my aim is to be around 175 by the time of the first tri of the year so another 20 pounds from where I am now!!

So after this one was done I keep at it and entered two additional tris which were pretty fantastic, but that is a blog entry for another day!

I still didn’t run enough and in putting together my 2011 plan running will be a huge part of that. I still don’t like running but I need to improve. I am starting to think that in 2011 I can be competitive in the swim and in the bike but don’t want to lose it all in the run.  I plan to add one or two weekly runs starting in early spring.

Still stuck around 194…project 188 was derailed by a week in Europe and Canadian Thanksgiving, but with those now behind me should get back on track with this!!

Categories: bicycling, Triathlon

On hotel pools

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I love swimming and it’s something that you can often do while traveling. A good 20 or 30 minute swimming session can be great to keep fresh and in shape on a long 1 or 2 week trip.

I have figured out that there are 5 categories of hotel pools and different strategies depending on where you are.

1- No pool. There are still a lot of hotels that don’t have any pools. Despite some pretty big bathtubs swimming in there is not recommended! In this case your best bet is to find a local public pool. I have found that most cities have pools that are often quite close and being public they are usually cheap as the service all income bands. Some are quite old but usually they are full 25 meter pools which is good.

2- The outdoor pool. Some of these are quite nice but usually during the day kids rule and at night it can be dark and cold. Also not great when you have to visit say Oslo or Edmonton! And if it’s raining, or even too hot and sunny rarely works out as well as you would think!

3- The glorified bathtub. These are often found at Marriotts, Holiday Inn express and their type. Just big enough to push off, 6 pulls then you hit the wall. Not recommended but in a pinch may be fun for about 10 minutes. Bloody knuckles are a risk!

4- The 1/2 pool. The pool that I use near work at the Brookstreet hotel in Ottawa is of this type. There are usually between 7 and 12 meters long. They work if you like intervals but there is still a lot or arriving and pushing off walls. Still it can be a good workout and will improve your swimming.

5- The full pool. Ahhh..this is what we want. They are few and far between but if you get to a hotel with one use it to work on longer swims. The hotel I am at this week, the Intercontinental in Dusseldorf Germany has an awesome full 25 meter pool (or thereabouts, seems a bit short) so planning both a longer morning and night swim (pool is open until 11pm…nice). With pools like this you can leave the hotel feeling better and fitter then when you checked in!

So get out there and swim!

Categories: Uncategorized