Thursday, December 17, 2009

I thought I was cool

So today we had a team ride out of Uconn, with a starting temp of 19 degrees. Awesome. There were two of us, waiting for a third, Caitlin. We're dressed to the max- I had no less than 19 individual articles of clothing/gear on my body (I cheated-gloves, etc count twice). But nevertheless, I felt like I had a fat suit on. Ryan was similarly dressed, and even used ski goggles for the occasion. Everyone else bailed.

Except Caitlin. When I saw her, I did a double take. She had a flimsy jacket. A lightweight set of tights. No booties. Her ankles were bare. Gloves were so thin I could see through them. Small headband on-hair showing through her helmet. No face protection. Mid-ride, she had frost and icicles forming on her chin. We rode for 2:15.

Oh. My. God.

She didn't complain once. Incredible. And I thought I was cool for going out today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

lack of posting... due to a current favoring of caffeine. But the carbon is returning.

I was fortunate enough to write a business plan for C&C in my business ventures class with a couple peers. Those interested in viewing further let me know. I'm excited; I do truly feel this is a working business plan, with a real, feasible opportunity. There's bits and pieces missing, but the generic idea is there.

Anywho, with school finally winding down, base training begins this weekend. Stick with a usual routine of longer slow rides, shorter tempo rides, skills work, etc. The difference between this year and years prior is a) I'm starting two months earlier, and b) I actually have a will to stick to the training. Goal #1 is Battenkill, so there's no time to waste.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coffee and Carbon

We are not a coffee shop.
We are not a bike shop.
We are a fusion of Caffeine and Adrenaline.

OK, so I don't really like the tag "adrenaline." Any suggestions are open.

But in any case, this is one tag I'm considering for my mentioned startup, should I fail to find a legitimate career upon graduation. And I've already made (hypothetical) strides:

1. I've recruited my current company's executive chef for the bakery..."It wouldn't take a lot to convince me."
2. I've got two leads to run the coffee storefront
3. I have a vision

Ok, so a vision doesn't necessarily mean much. but I'm excited anyway.

You walk into a standalone building (necessary for prominence, draw and space use). It's a coffee shop, square shaped or otherwise surrounded by a raised floor to the bike area. Picture a square, with a U on the outside. There is small seating tables to your left and right, with a traditional coffee set-up to the front of you. There will be scones, and there will be croissants.

Walk around to the back of that counter, and you have the bike maintenance area. It's open, with one counter for the register. To the back of the store is a bike fit area. Focus on product spotlights, rather than flooding the floor and going "look look! I have lots of bicycles!" This will require a larger inventory in the back, taking away from floor space, but that's OK.

Overall, it's a laid back, yet professional store. Don't ask me how that's going to exactly be pulled off.

Bicycle brands:
-High end: Parlee (maybe I'll sell one a year), Cervelo
-Work Horse: Specialized (amazing marketing dept., higher store-front support)
-Budget: Jamis
-Off the mark: insert non-normal fixie/SS bike brand, don't know which one.

Orange and Blue is a consideration, but is really exploding right now. Still, it's traditional Merckx. Red and Black is kewl, but way too devilish/evil for a shop. Pink is just...well, pink. Light green and off white is soothing, but can I push a bike sale looking at "Rainforest Mist" walls?

I'm thinking ultra-modern white and red, with off-red accents. Crisp, clean look, appealing, etc.

Market Feasibility:
Bike shops get killed by the internet discounters. Everyone knows this. The coffee segment of the shop will help with foot traffic, but there's no getting around the fact that the internet is the boon of all shop owners.

So, I'll join them. Probably closely follow the model of Speedgoat in PA, who offer competitive pricing, with a customizable, neighborhood atmosphere.

Not sure here. Even though this place is supposed to be a fusion, coffee-goers rarely intermingle with bikes. Bikers do love coffee, though.

As a local business, most will have to be word of mouth. I'd probably concentrate most efforts in community service, from a strategic standpoint and a community standpoint:
It leaves the company with a good image.
It's good for the community. duh.
It's cheap. (bike rodeos, local events, etc...mostly involves showing up)

Not Chester. With working with Charlie at RadSport, we had an awesome thing going. We had a solid foundation and customer base. We had margin. We were going up.

But while the market share was there...the market wasn't. Chester and the surrounding area is just too small.

So I'll go looking for a smaller portion of a bigger pie. Shoreline CT is an obvious possibility, but it's filled with old people in my immediate shoreline, not that many riders, and we've seen two shops can within a few years.

Closer to Hartford, while out of Hartford, the better. The 91 corridor is littered with shops, but the aspect of the coffee shop complicates it more...have to find a place that hits a lot of traffic, but isn't within a mile (1/2 mile?) of a DD or Starbucks.

Will it work? Beats me. Any suggestions? By all means, let me know.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A ride outside does wonders

With a senior's school workload, (albeit school of business is better than a few...ok most...other majors here), as well as two jobs, I enjoyed a treat on Monday when I had a three hour block to go for a ride...outside! In the daylight!

Did I go out for three hours? Nope. One.

And it was amazing! It dawned on me that when I track myself, I push my goals too far, and then stop tracking because I never hit the goals. So, for a change, I've started tracking data without setting's October. I know, it's a huge and mind-blowing revelation...

So, averaged ~83% of my LT, went for a nice, easy, beautiful, spin, hit one of my favorite hills, and came back rejuvenated. The long cold hours will come later on this season. Right now, it feels good to just ride while beginning to formulate a training plan for next year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

By the Numbers

The Numbers

A few years ago I was involved with a cycling study on campus that involved doses of placebo/caffeine in cool/warm climates. This testing required gathering some normalized data, which I can share...

Keep in mind, these numbers are two years old, but VO2 doesn't vary all that much.

-VO2 Max: 4.6 L/min
-VO2 Max (normalized): 58.5 ml/kg/min
-Estimated Heart Stroke Volume: 125 ml
-Estimated Lactage Threshold: 65% LT <<< I am going to get this retested, he wasn't testing specifically for LT

The following pertained specifically to the nature of the study, but are still interesting.

Wattage at 60% VO2 Max: 170
Wattage at 70% VO2 Max: 210
Sweat Rate at 11 degrees C: .8 L/hr
Sweat Rate at 33 degrees C: 1 L/hr

The Study:

We were placed in a temperature controlled room with a stationary bike that can constantly vary it's wattage. So, rather than provide x resistance at your given cadence/gear ratio, it will provide x resistance...whenever. Pretty cool, and also the most realistic road feel on a trainer I've felt. I think it cost something like $10,000. And to ruin it, they had a Fizik Arione saddle...

Anyway, we sat on the bike for 1.5 hours, alternating every 15 minutes between the 60 and 70% wattages, to fatigue us. We then performed a 15 minute TT, when we were supposed to go as fast as possible. We did this 4 times-two times at 11 degrees, twice at 33, once each time with caffeine, one with a placebo.

Two kickers-we had a cathiter in our arms to pull blood every 15 minutes (they were nice enough to put plasma back in each time), and we they were constantly monitoring our core temperature, for, we were told, safety during the trial. That safety measure in labs requires a probe up the pants. Not cool.

When the results first came out, I was very suprised. My average wattage from placebo to caffeine in 11 degrees showed a 3.4% improvement (297 to 308 watt average), while in 33 degree heat it jumped an amazing 29.4% (200 to 258 watt average). I was later told that the difference in heat was minimal with everyone else, so I'm assuming I just had a real bad day with the placebo in the heat. Too bad, I was ready to start chugging espresso before any hot day.

The absolute, god awful worst part was the stroke volume testing. We had the regular VO2 tester mask on, with the input and output air disconnected, so we would breathe in and out of a bag of air for about 20 seconds. And he made us take constant, really deep breaths. Picture breathing in and out of a plastic bag on a ride. Not fun. I also have no idea how it works, but I assume it has something to do with calculating the Co2 in the bagged air, and running that through some #'s to hit a stroke volume. I also have no idea what pertinence that information had to the study.

Best part? The first 30 minutes of each 33 degree study. It was February at the time, so it was AWESOME to go into a hot chamber and be warm for a half hour.

Homemade E-motions Trial #1= Fail

So I decided to turn my newly purchased rollers into a home kit emotion roller set. It's close...but not quite.

First, for anyone unfamiliar with emotions, they are essentially rollers with wheels attached to the sides, rolling on a lower track, with bungees keeping you centered. you can look it up if this doesn't make sense.

Anywho, it turns out that when I'm sitting on the rollers, the bolts extruding from my skateboard wheels are striking a piece of wood on the sides to keep the rollers running straight.

I need a camera.

It's close...oh so close. At least I hope it is. Pictures and round 2 to follow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello and Welcome

As I sit here in Finance 4209- Applications in Financial Management, I find myself wondering why I am creating a blog in the first place. My greatest motivation probably comes from reading and enjoying the thoughts and comments of others of the same situations in which I am involved in. So I hope those who read find similar enjoyment in my own point of view.

So, introductions.

My name is Paul Bickford.
I am a senior in business management at the University of Connecticut.
I have raced bicycles since 7th grade.
I started racing bicycles in 7th grade because I was cut from the baseball team tryouts.
I want to open a bike shop/coffee shop combo.
It will be named coffee and carbon.
I currently race for the UConn club, as well as Capital Velo Club.

Thanks for Reading.