Zach Zupancic

Zach Zupancic

Senior Designer, SolidWorks addict, AutoCAD zealot, Cyclist, Shade Tree Mechanic, & moderately tall. 

Gran Fondo, Fixies, Fatties

March 1st 2009 was a fantastic day for me. It is the day that got me back into training and an overall better fitness level. I have wanted to get into some type of event that allows me to have a base line time that I will be able to work from and off. My current fitness level is nothing compared to what it was while I was working for Teldata. While I was working in San Diego I was able to bike 9 miles every workday, and then on the weekends I was doing at least 30-45 miles. In other words, I was doing around 85 miles of bike riding every week. I never made the time to cross train, actually I didn't have the time, but that was due to the drama. After I left Teldata in December is was all too easy of me to just get into my car and just drive the mile to work, and all of my free time was spent being with my lady, as she would get depressed if I wasn’t with her every moment.

In August of 2007 I made a bet with a co-worker of mine; $100 to whomever could lose the most weight before Christmas. When we weighed in I was 308lbs, I was a size 40 waist, and wore XL shirts. The bet was never fulfilled, as he fled the country to tend to his family in Mexico. I quit Salcor and started to work at Guitar Center for 9 months or so, lost some weight because I was running around and moving guitars. I left Guitar center in January and started to work for Teldata. When I started working at Teldata I was barely able to properly fit into a size 38. I wanted a change, I wanted to one of those sartorialists on a cycle that Scott Schuman loves to photo. Months and months passed and I was shedding weight. None of my clothes fit me anymore, and for the first time in my life I was happy about it.

In November of 2008 I weighed 207lbs, a waist of 34, and can wear Medium shirts. In one year I was able to lose 100lbs. The earliest time that I can remember weighing that much was when I was in 8th grade. My BMI went from 35.6 (obese) to a 23.9 (normal) in one year.

I started to lose some of my drive after I left Teldata. The dramas of life were getting to me and I couldn’t spend any time on a bicycle; that coupled with the holiday season I gained some weight. As of today I weigh 220lbs giving me a BMI of 25.4 (cusp of over weight). This brings me to why I wanted to get back in shape. My goal this year is to break the 200lbs mark, just once. I don’t want to stay there; I just want to break it so that I can say that I have. I also want to maintain a weight of 210-215; although once I start muscle building I will probably weigh more than that, but it is nice to have a target weight.

little italy gran fondo

The Gran Fondo was the starting point. In the ride there were two different classes; the 100 mile, and the 45 mile. I enrolled in the 45 mile for two reasons; I wanted to do it on a fixed gear and I didn't think that I could do 100 miles in the shape that I am in right now. My goal for the ride was under 3 hours 30min. This was a very tangible goal for me, as a couple weeks prior I did 29 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes; the Gran Fondo has quite a few more hills so I knew that my pace would be slower. Jeg and I got to the event an hour early, so that we would not be in a state of rush as well as find decent parking. We were able to find parking a block away from the start, unpack, and stretch with plenty of time to spare.

before race front
fixed 44/17
wtf fixed...
taking a dump or stretching


The century riders were to be led by a pack of Ferraris and Ducatis, and every wave would be sent off by Ernesto Colnago himself. All in all the start was very Italian.

DINO
ducatis starting line
ferraris starting line
Ernesto Colnago sending us all out

After all of the century riders were set off it was time for the 45 milers to grid up and set off.

taller than most
amongst the riders
on the toezies
amongst bottle rear entry

Within the first 2 miles I hit a bump and my seat flopped back, so I had to pull over and tighten it. Then I went over some train tracks a couple miles later and I had a flat tyre, and my seat went out of whack again. At this point I was the very last person in the entire field; I was so far back that I didn’t see anyone at all. While in the process of trying to catch up I got lost... twice. Once I got back on the right path I noticed that my pedals were flopping around a bit, similar to the feel of a really loose chain, I looked down while I was waiting at a light and moved the pedals to see if I could locate the problem. The Chain dint move the pedals were... bad karma. I pulled of yet again and tightened the bolts that hold my chain ring to my pedals and started off again. About the 10 mile mark I finally started to catch up with the stragglers. Surprisingly they were the couple that I was standing next to in the starting grid.

I followed them for a bit, and we passed the first aid station. A couple miles later I had another flat tyre so I pulled over and patched it up. At this point it was pretty smooth cycling, that is until I hit a rock and had yet another flat at mile 20 or so. We then passed though and made a loop around the Olympic Training Center in Otay Mesa; I stopped to get some water as well as attempt to pick up the pace. People were passing me on the downhill, as they were able to knock into the big ring and gain some speed while I just unclipped my feet and watch the pedals dance below me. It is actually quite funny, because the people that passed me on the downhill were the same people that I was passing while climbing up hills :) fixies win.

At around mile 33 they had the final aid station. I stopped to fill up on water and get some energy via bananas, oranges, and a few pretzels. Then we started making one of our last climbs and while I was trying to stand up to get some leverage my thigh started to cramp up. I sat back down and put more force into the upstroke to compensate when my calf started to do the same thing, thankfully I was able make it to the top of the hill unclip my feet and try to stretch it out and remove the cramps. And then out of no where a cyclist pulls up next to me and asks whether I unclipped because of the fixed gear or cramps. I told him cramps and he told me that he has some salt tablets, and Advil to ease the pain. I pulled over and praised him for his generosity, took the pills and gulped a hefty sum of water. Within a minute the cramps were gone and I could move again.

2 miles away form the finish line I started to make some pulls and passes on people, but this action was sapping me of the little energy I had left, and at one red light it was really apparent. I was trying to slow my pace down so that I wouldn’t have to unclip at a red light when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to hold my balance for too much longer. I tried to unclip my foot, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t fall, but I did nudge a lady and she got pissed at me.

"You should ride a track bike if you don’t know how to"
"It is not the bike, I couldn't unclip my feet"
"Still you should watch out"
"You try doing 45 miles in a fixed gear, and tell me that you aren't as tired as I am"
"Grumble, grumble, grumble"

I mean, for fucks sake... if someone accidentally fell into me I would not get mad, I would chuckle and make a comment about sticky pedals. But I would not get angry at them... I followed them to the finish line keeping my distance so that I wouldn't have to hear them.

Out of all of the participants I was the only person there with a fixed gear bike, and I finished the race in 3:24:22. I was really happy that I was able to beat my goal time. At the same time though, I knew that if I would have kept up with my fitness I would have been easily able to break the 3 hour mark; which will be the goal for my next ride/race.

death tired after race

During the ride I had 3 flat tyres, 2 seat malfunctions, my bottle fell out of the cage twice, got lost twice, and I had to stop and tighten all of my chain ring bolts; and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have never done a race/ride of any kind you really should try it. It is a nice way to get out of yourself and focus on nothing but the sound of wind in your ears.

close-up dead tired