Show of hands…

How many of you have been around here since the blog beginning?

The Kenda road team days?

How about back during my short stint on the Metro Volkswagen team followed shortly after by a nervous breakdown which led me to mountain biking?

My first 100?  (You know… the Cohutta ’10 with all the rain and thunder?)

My first road trip to Colorado? Second?

Just started reading today?

 

How about that time that I decided I’d quit working my “normal” job in the bike shop and dedicate most of my free time to racing and training in an attempt to become a professional cyclist?

 

 

 

Wait, what?

 

SuperX

I like fixing bikes.

It’s mostly about solving (or preventing) a problem (or several problems). Usually, it’s a worn out, broken, sticky, or otherwise compromised part, but sometimes, frame manufacturers give mechanics a problem with brand new bikes… the perfect example being the presence of normal, road bike cable housing stops on a cyclocross frame.

I’ve posted before about my dislike of open cable on any bike that will be ridden in any condition other than “dry.” It’s just dumb. There’s no point in putting a break in a bike’s cable housing if there’s any chance that, on a regular basis, you’re going to ride the bike in a manner that would foul the cables with mud and/or water. Even so, it’s how most cyclocross bikes are manufactured.

In the past, I’ve just dealt with it, changing out shift cable and housing on a somewhat regular basis for a stable of cyclocross bikes. I’ve also used Gore sealed housing kits, only to find that while, yes, they do keep stuff out, with modern shifters (cable routing under the bar tape) and drop handlebars, the amount of drag is terrible because of the interaction between the stiffness of the housing and bend from shifter around the bars (in their defense, the sealed housing kits work beautifully on mountain bikes and road bikes with the older-style, externally cabled shimano shifters). Just recently, I zip-tied a full length housing to the frame of Ryan’s “A” bike. It works flawlessly. I’ll also be the first to admit, though, it doesn’t look very good.

So, when I installed a Gore housing kit on my new Cannondale SuperX (yeah, I’m doubling up on Cannondales this season) and the shifting was crappy and heavy, I decided to go one up on the solid housing by using a drill to convert cable stop to “housing holder.”

Side note: Before I tell you all about taking a drill to my bike, let’s talk about warranty. Some bike companies can be evil, and, if you modify your frame in such a way, then your seat tube cracks up the middle, they’ll refuse your warranty, even though it’s highly obvious that the two events are, in no way, shape, or form, related to each other. From my dealings at the shop, I can tell you that Cannondale is not this sort of company (Niner isn’t, either). However, it goes without saying, that if one of my drilled cable stops breaks, falls off, or suffers any other cable-stop related malady, it’s my fault, and there is no warranty to speak of. Your frame manufacturer may be somewhere in the middle with their warranty philosophy… I’d advise you to find out prior to drilling if that sort of thing concerns you.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

I started by looking around on the internet for technique recommendations. I saw some good advice about protecting the frame with tape in case the drill bit gets jumpy, so I put a layer of Gorilla Tape around the downtube housing stop:

 

Next, I started with a small drill bit. How small? No idea on the numerical size, but it was a little bigger than the existing hole. Even with a not-so fresh drill battery, the bit went through the carbon stop like it was made of butter (so easy, I ended up not using tape when I drilled the stop on the chainstay. A metal stop may have offered more resistance). I prettymuch just repeated the process with increasingly large bits until a piece of 4mm housing fit through the stop with just a little friction. Done and done:

 

Depending on the frequency of cable stops on your frame, you will likely still need to use at least a couple of zip-ties to run the full-length housing. I typically wrap a piece of electrical tape around the tubing prior to mounting the housing/zip tie in order to keep the frame from getting rubbed at the mounting location. It’s still not perfect on the “looks” scale, but it’s a lot nicer than having the cable housing run next to unused housing stops.

Side note #2: I use Jagwire L3 lined cable housing for the best shift quality, though I’ve used less expensive stuff with equal success. The thought that using full-run housing will noticeably increase friction and drag on the cable is balderdash. Sure, from a physics standpoint, yes, there’s more friction on the cable when there’s more housing. However, I’d like to see you do a blind, side-by-side test, and see if you can tell the difference in lever feel between broken and solid housing. You’re sure as heck gonna notice a difference when the broken housing gets fouled. I digress…

I rode yesterday. The verdict? AWESOME. It’s only a matter of time before the Scott Addict CX undergoes the same surgery:

 

With the forecast for Sunday’s Reservoir Cross looking like “mud,” I can’t wait to plow through the slop with perfect shifting.

Yoga and Chainrings

As I mentioned last week in my confessions, I haven’t been going to yoga as often or as consistently as I’d like to. I’ve definitely done better on the consistency part since I’ve been every Tuesday and Saturday for the last few weeks. I could squeeze in a 6am Thursday class  like I was earlier in the summer, but I’m not sure if losing the hour and a half of sleep would be 100% productive from a recovery standpoint. Plus, the 2 hours of cyclocross training on my current Thursday training schedule would be nearly impossible to complete if I wanted to be at work on time (at the Cordova store, we keep the shop open ’til 8 on Thursdays, so I’d go in at noon).

I did discover the most amazing class, though. Arline’s 10:30 “level 3” Vinyasa Flow on Saturday. It’s unlike any other class I’ve been to- the music is a little louder, and the poses are often things I’ve never done. The entire thing is like one long dance, and most of the time, there will be at least one or two moves that I don’t yet have the strength/flexibility to do more than attempt. Not that all yoga classes aren’t challenging, but this one takes the challenge up to notches I can’t yet reach, and I love it!

In bike-related news, I discovered a huge first world problem involving plans for my new road bike. Seems that a compact rotor chainring in size 52t won’t fit on the Quarq made for the Cannondale Hollowgram crank:

I’m thinking about exchanging them for a set of CX-sized rings, but I’m 100% sure yet. I’m a little sad that I’m going to have to settle for some less-sexy, round FSA chainrings. First world problems, right?

Yesterday, my plight garnered a little ribbing at the shop, and, as I poke fun at myself here, I can be glad that I have these problems now. “Eat or pay bills” is not the easiest way to get through grad school, but it did give me a greater appreciation for the easy life I lead now.

 

Interbike #2

Wow… it’s been good! Sponsor-hunt wise, there’s still a huge air of uncertainty left with many irons in the Interbike fires. So, I can’t really talk about any of them.

 

Last night, we hitched a ride out to Crossvegas. The race was cool, and I gave Georgia Gould a random high five when I spotted her winding down in her team tent afterwards. She looked a little confused, but played along like the champ she is.

This morning, I woke up feeling kinda like I was in the middle of a stage race. I mainlined some coffee and got a cheese omelet at the Palazzo food court before heading out to day #2 of the shmoozefest. Like I said, things went reasonably well.

Photos!

 

 

Interbike #1

Yesterday, I began my first Interbike journey (pilgrimage?) I spent most of the day crammed in planes, but soon enough, arrived in Vegas…(prepare yourself for a day’s worth of blurry camera phone photos)

 

The plane ride here was long enough that I made it through about 2/3rds of Tyler Hamilton’s Secret Race. It’s pretty fascinating, and (aside from the drug use part) makes me feel a twinge sentimental for road racing. While my time on a “real” team was brief, I could still relate to the dedication and willingness he describes to work and suffer for each other to win races.
From the air, the desert area outside of Las Vegas looks fascinating. While there appears to be very little in the way of population, there’s a spiderweb of what looks like dirt roads/4×4 trails that criss-cross the landscape. I could see myself getting intentionally lost out there for days.

Once I found my bags and favorite roomate, Amanda Carey, we shuttled to the hotel and sat around waiting for stuff to happen. Nothing happens here at a reasonable hour. It’s always winding up about the time I’d be winding down and drinking chamomile tea while Ryan and Matt are doing the dinner dishes. Last night was no different. After having a kickass dinner at Spago with Joe (President of Outdoors) and Joel (head bike buyer of Outdoors), I met back up with Amanda, and we found Hollywood Jeff and his lady-friend Julie.

 

The next few hours included a trip to the SRAM after party (stupid crowded & noisy, so I had a martini and bailed) and a much more low-key, successful from a networking-standpoint, gathering at Treasure Island. I didn’t leave until 1:30 or so. The sidewalks were packed outside…

 

This trip might be slightly more exhausting than going to an actual bike race.

 

Stuff about Things

Once again, the lack of any one new and exciting event has led me to compile a post with random vignettes from everyday life…

1. Chris King hubs are overrated. Sure, it looks really nice, and the quality is great, but you can get comparable products that are less expensive and more easily serviceable (NO part is going to last forever without some TLC). A Hope rear hub costs a couple hundred less than a King. It’s also an incredibly simple design and can be completely overhauled in 15 minutes with inexpensive cartridge bearings and tools found in any bike shop. Hell, you can even clean and re-lube the freehub pawls without removing your cassette.

2. On Saturday, I rode hot laps at Herb Parson’s Lake. My lap times were excellent, and I feel like I’ve magically taken a step forward in my bike handling abilities. At first, I just thought it was knowing the trail. Then, I rode a new, long-ish extension loop for the first time, and hauled just as much ass as I had been on the parts of the trail I was familiar with. It made me feel like this song sounds:

 

3. On Sunday, I did some endurance-pace riding. Five hours’ worth. I started by riding a 3 hour loop with Ryan, came home to cool off, then went back out for 2 more hours in the 100+ degree heat. The first hour was fine, the second, not so much. I ended up stopping at the Dunkin Donuts drive through for some ice. The heat wouldn’t have been as rough if it hadn’t been a low air quality day. We were under a code orange ozone alert, so I ended up with burning eyes and throat and a little chest congestion later than night.

4. Tuesday, in order to avoid the heat/pollution, I only rode outside for two hours, then came home and did my intervals on the trainer. As motivation, I sent this photo to Amanda Carey and told her I was coming for her:

 

5. Having 4th of July off was pretty boss. I woke up early and rode first thing. After Tuesday’s kickass training, I decided a laid back exploration of the newest links to the Germantown Greenway were in order. It did not disappoint:

 

Afterward, I went to yoga (which turned out to be a great idea since I ended up sleeping in this morning instead of going to the 6am class I usually go to), then had some lunch before going to Fullface Kenny’s Pool Party, a wine tasting at Corgi Nathan’s house, then back to Kenny’s to watch the Germantown fireworks display from the pool.

This morning, I’m extra glad that I was the designated driver.

Bike Stuff

I’ve never been one to follow all the rules, so I decided that when The A9RDO’s chain just surpassed .4mm of stretch, I’d try something other than the “mandatory” Shimano chain on the XTR drivetrain. I was shopping around and came across KMC X10SL chains. They have a super baller one in black. Seeing as I’m vain and want to make my bike as stealthy as possible, I chose that one… because, you know, the XTR one isn’t fancy enough (in addition to that, I’ve got a gold 9-spd KMC on my singlespeed that’s seen hundreds of miles and is still in excellent shape).

This thing retails for around $140. (Good thing I work in a shop, right?)

Sure, it’s a part that will eventually wear out, and, given its lightness and sexiness, possibly faster than a chain that I could purchase for $20. However, I’d like to see how the DLC (short for “diamond-like coating”) fares under the rigors of endurance training & racing. Also, it matches my bike and comes in a velvet-lined box…

 

I installed it this morning and went for a ride. Shifting is no different than with the XTR chain. I took a photo, but you can’t really get a feel for the sexy stealth-ness now that it’s coated in a layer of dust:

 

On a totally unrelated note… ANIMAL PHOTOS!!!! Everyone loves animal photos!

Go fast… sometimes sideways.

Good lord, I haven’t posted in almost a week. That’s like, blog kryptonite, or something.

This week’s slightly bike-related post is about the often-times painfully bored existence of the stereotypical adrenaline junkie. The event that brought about this post was a short car ride. Last week at work, one of Fullface Kenny’s friends stopped by. This friend, a Porsche driving school instructor, was driving a Nissan 240. The Nissan 240 contained both a roll cage and a Chevy LS1 motor (the same one that you’ll find in a Corvette).

You see where I’m going with this…

We spent all of 5 minutes driving around the deserted back road from the shop. A large portion of that 5 minutes was spent drifting sideways and/or accelerating as fast a possible. It’s amazing what a very skilled driver can do with a very powerful machine. I spent most of the time plastered against the seat and giggling as much as I could.

According to Kenny, that’s Dude’s normal mode of driving. He gets tickets. Apparently, he once got a warning for wheelie-ing a street bike in front of a cop with a 24-pack of budweiser strapped to the tail. Why no ticket? Because the cop said that it was the dumbest thing he’d seen that day and was going to have a good time telling his buddies back at the station.  What’s the point of telling you all of this? Well, I can see a few of you shaking your heads and thinking about what a total idiot this guy is. However, also according to Kenny, the guy has worked his way up a corporate ladder and has a very respectable, clean-cut, wear-a-suit-and-carry-a-card job. I can only imagine how much stupidly fast and sideways driving it would take me to unwind from that sort of thing.

“Adrenaline Junkie” is a totally cliched and played out stereotype, but if you think about the meaning of the words, it makes unfortunate sense. For whatever reason, we belong to a subset of homo-sapiens that requires heavy doses of epinephrine on a regular basis in order to feel satisfied with life in general… very much like an individual addicted to any externally available drug, substance or action.  If you don’t get it, you experience withdrawal.

Boredom.

For those of us living with co-morbidities of both adrenaline junkie-ism and Attention Deficit Disorder (maybe the two go together like diabetes and high blood pressure?), normal life can sometimes start to get depressingly boring, so we do things that other people think are crazy… like driving a car really fast and sideways, riding a mountain bike at high rates of speed, or completing incredibly random expeditions via various modes of human-power.

Side note- if you look into the bikecar videos at that last link, you’ll see the one I posted a couple of months ago where the expedition was interrupted by a motorized car. Dave looks almost excited that some sort of dangerous wrench was thrown into his plans. “F*CKYEAH, EXCITEMENT!!”

Boredom is a horrible thing. It’s almost physically painful. Some people reading this will agree, others will think I need to take my Ritalin and chill out. I’m on a constant search for small bites of excitement in everyday life. Not necessarily for adrenaline-raising purposes… just mostly for “something different and awesome” purposes.

Sometimes, it’s just cool stuff that shows up at the shop:


(that bike is all Campy!)

…or outside of the shop:

(Indy caught his 2nd mole ever… he has to eventually with the number of holes he digs in the process!)

Whatever it is, when I don’t get it, I start doing crazy things like cutting my hair into a mohawk or getting a new piercing. Anything to add the edge of danger or excitement to mundane periods of life.

Another “Pearl Izumi WTF?” Moment: P.R.O. Bib Short Review

Another entry to the annals of Pearl Izumi’s bad decisions when it comes to their relationship with female cyclists: The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Droptail Bib Short. It’s their top of the line model for women.

The “droptail” idea with bib shorts is a great idea. P.I. does a good job with their “Elite” model short, which has an actual waistband around the backside (the quality of the construction of the “elite” line is not that great, though). Hincapie also makes a droptail bib. It uses a simple plastic buckle in the back suspenders. It’s under your jersey, but low enough that it’s not hard to reach, and the top half has a “tail” strap that makes it easy to fish the top half back in order to get it buckled.

Enter the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. short. Through work, we get a screaming deal on certain brands… Pearl being one of them. I bought a pair, even though on the website, you can’t tell how the droptail actually works. Turns out, it uses a similar design as the Hincapie model… except that it uses bra hooks, and there’s no tail on the top strap. The closure also sits up higher under your jersey:

Let me get this straight… I’m supposed to reach under my jersey, up between my shoulder blades, and unhook those? Worse yet, once I’m done, I’m supposed to fish around under my jersey for the top half, then RE-hook that thing? I’m flabbergasted at the idiocy at work here, because it’s painfully obvious that no women were involved with the design or testing of these WOMEN’S shorts.

I returned them with a note to that effect. I received a refund, but they’ve not contacted me for feedback purposes, and I don’t really expect them to, because from my past experience with them, that’s how they roll.

More around the shop…

Yesterday, most people who came through the store were Mother’s Day shopping. As a result, the most common question was not, “what bike should I get?” but more “do you think my wife will like this shirt?” No, I think your wife would like it if you expressed your love and gratitude for her on a random day of the year OTHER than one created by greeting card companies.

I did have a customer come in for a new wheel. She’d tacoed her old one, so I set her up with something a little more stout. Inside her tire, I discovered what had to have been the world’s largest Stan’s Ball.

 

Later, I worked on Ryan’s Speed Concept time trial bike. It was engineered by someone who hates mechanics. Maybe “hate” is not a strong enough word… more like “vendetta”… as if a mechanic had killed his/her family and dog, so he/she went to engineering school, learned about bikes, and created this particular frame as a method of revenge.
I switched his brake levers out from a set of SRAM levers to a special set of Bontrager ones. They essentially were forced to create a barrel-adjuster style brake lever in order to overcome the shortcomings of the brakes themselves. The only way to adjust the pad width without the special levers is to remove a fairing and swap out the spacer washers from behind the brake shoes. After I removed the base bar to route the front cable and spent an hour or so arguing with the rear brake, the final step of the process is to replace the cable cover on the top of the base bar. The only problem is, the cables themselves are in the way of attaching the cover, so I had to devise a way to hold them down while I installed the cover bolts:

 

Speaking of shop… there’s a new shop kit. It’s… colorful.

At least I’ve got something a little more subdued for when I don’t want to look like a quilt: