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.

Cyclocrunk

I just noticed on my “stats” page that a lot of people are finding my blog via searching for “Cyclocrunk.” The series started tonight, and, for various reasons that would likely bring drama to my blog, I’m not doing it this year. Here’s the link to the Cyclocrunk site, and, if you need more information about the race than what the promoter has provided on the site (such as location, race format, etc.) you should call Victory Bicycle studio.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Still Waiting

I know that everyone is waiting and watching my blog every single day for news about what’s up & coming for 2013 (jeez, 2013? It’s just now starting to get a little chilly, and I’m talking about 2013). In case you actually are, the only update I can give you is that yesterday, I got news that almost makes me want to get my hopes up. However, I’ve made that mistake in the past, so for now, I’m just going to talk about pets and stuff.

For all of my roadie friends who read, keep watching in the next couple of weeks. I’m getting one of these. I actually ordered it back in August, but it won’t ship from Cannondale until the 8th. The first order of business? Take the super-pimp one-piece spider/chainring set off of the Hollowgram crank and install this (with a set of Rotor chainrings, which are also on order):

Of course, I’ve been super excited about getting it. Yesterday, the excitement really hit home when I was working on a customer’s several-years-old carbon road bike and realized how the graphics and bigass carbon weave look a little dated. My BH Connect looks very much the same way. Don’t get me wrong- I love that bike. We’ve done a lot of ass-kicking together, and it really is an awesome bike- it’s super stiff, and the fit is perfect. I can only imagine that getting a new bike will be much like a police officer getting a new partner when his old one retires. If it’s anything like my Cannondale SuperX, I won’t be disappointed.

In less exciting news, my “no wheat” experiment is going well. I can’t say that I notice any difference in overall health or wellness, but it has removed a source of high-density calories from my diet, so I’ve lost a small amount of weight (consistently 1/2 a pound of morning weight lower than before I started). I made wheat-free chicken nuggets the other night by taking gluten-free pretzels and crushing them in the food processor before seasoning them, dipping them in egg, then rolling them around in the pretzels. I baked them for 15 minutes, but I’m guessing you could pan-fry them instead if you’re so inclined. They were pretty delicious baked.

And, because everyone loves animal photos, here are some of  Indy and Thor kitty. Thor is the most awkward sleeper, ever.

 

Confessional

It’s been since the Breck Epic that I used a foam roller.

I haven’t had a massage since I was in Breckenridge.

I haven’t visited my chiropractor since August.

I’ve developed a strong affinity to having a “glass” of wine most nights (a pint-sized wine glass counts as a glass, right?)

I haven’t obeyed the old adage “Don’t walk if you can stand. Don’t stand if you can sit. Don’t sit if you can lay down” following my first few hard rides back into training.

It took me a long time to get back to going to yoga classes on a regular basis after my trip West. I’m back at it now, but a change in my work location means that I’m only getting to class 2 days per week. I have no other excuse except, “I haven’t made time to do more.”

 

In other words, somewhere in the past few weeks, I fell out of the habit of taking care of myself. It finally caught up to me on Sunday when I couldn’t bring myself to finish a 4 hour ride because I was too exhausted. I ended up riding 2.5 hours and going home to recover.
It’s nobody’s fault but my own. So, like fixing a yard that’s been unkempt for months, I’m tackling one issue at a time. Sunday following my partially failed training ride, I ate, picked up dog food, then sat on the couch for most of the afternoon. The last two nights, I’ve spent about 20 minutes with the various roller-type devices to work the knots out of my hips and thighs. I drank the last of the wine last night, and I probably shouldn’t buy any more for a while.

The other stuff, I’ll work on. I transferred over to the Outdoors bike shop on Poplar (in East Memphis- a 20 minute drive vs. the 5 minutes to Cordova), and the hours of the shop are different, so I don’t have the long mornings a couple of days a week like I did before. As a result, I’m having to choose between recovery ride, yoga, or chiropractor (a massage has been out of the question). Usually the ride wins out. I know all of this stuff seems like absolute “1st world problems,” but, as someone trying to be faster than everyone else riding a bike, they’re hurdles I’m going to have to clear.

Along the way, I’m trying to make small changes to the way I eat. I’ve recently decided to give up wheat for a month. I’ve read enough educated guesses and anecdotal evidence to think that it may be a good idea to get carbohydrates elsewhere. I suggest you do your own research and see why- there are plenty of arguments both ways.

So, the recovery “lifestyle” train is slowly getting started pulling its load of fall training volume. It’s almost overwhelming to look ahead, but I’ve been here before, and it’s totally doable.

Cross Hiatus and Winter Plans

It wasn’t until I was making a fall/winter race schedule out that I was reminded that Master’s Worlds aren’t until the end of January. Last year, the season felt like it went on forever while I was getting ready for The Race at the beginning of January. Also noted while I was compiling my schedule- there’s a plethora of regional mountain bike stuff happening in October.

With the exception of the “undecided” weekend of the 11th, I’ll likely end up not racing cyclocross until November. Here’s what October’s looking like so far:
-13th/14th: Cyclocross in Little Rock or the Six Hours of Herb race near Memphis on the 14th. I can’t decide which I’d rather do. I get kinda bored with long lap races and the amount of prep they take in their execution, but it wouldn’t involve traveling.
-21st: Race to the Canal in Kentucky. I’ve never done a point-to-point race. It looks like a bunch of fun.
-27th: Berryman Trail Epic in Missouri. Never done it before, but it’s always been on the radar. There is always a strong women’s field, so it should be tough in a good way

Now that I’m sitting down and typing this out, it seems to make more sense to race cyclocross the weekend of the 13th- mostly because the recovery period following a weekend of racing cyclocross is much shorter than racing the hell out of a 6 hour race. The last thing I’d want is to line up for the final weekend and feel like I’d rather be at home in bed.

Also on the mountain bike horizon: The Eagle Rock Loop. A long time ago (in a galaxy far away, no less), I ran the Athens-Big Fork trail marathon. It is, to this day, still one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I remember thinking afterward how impossible the trail seemed for a mountain bike (at the time, I hadn’t ever really ridden a bike, though). Now, Todd “Antique Gun Show” Henne and I are in the “yeah, that sounds cool” phase of planning an adventure that includes riding the A-BF trail as part of a 27 mile loop. It should be almost impossible, but not quite.

 

Also a goal this winter? Help the Syllamo trails. I’m feeling compelled to get in touch with IMBA and see what can be done in the winter to help the poor drainage and overgrowth that plagues much of the trail as it ages. Busy times ahead.

Clear Creek Challenge Race Report

Based on how sleepy my legs felt on Saturday after taking nearly a week off of the bike (including Interbike: 3 nights of sleep deprivation, 2 days of flying, and 2 days of walking/standing around on concrete), I knew that racing Cross Country on Sunday carried a strong risk of being a partial to total shit-show. However, Ryan and Poolboy Matt were looking forward to going down to Oxford for the Clear Creek Challenge race, and I didn’t want to disappoint. I figured at the least, it’d serve as a high intensity jump start back into training for Cyclocross.

The race course is largely rolling and flowy with a few bigger hills and a couple of lightly techy spots. Because of the rolling nature of it, the downhills and turns have a high ratio of reward for risk, and people who are familiar with the trail definitely have an advantage. I have ridden it a couple of times, but it’s been at least a year since then. I wasn’t sure how much the four other women had ridden it, but the group at the line included Laureen Coffelt, who never goes anywhere unprepared.

When the promoter gave us the “GO” signal, I momentarily attempted to implement my usual XC strategy of letting whoever thinks they’re fastest get the holeshot and going into the woods 2nd wheel behind her. However, the other women rolled it like they were starting a 50 mile road race, so I threw down the hammer and took the lead.

The initial portion of trail is twisty and fun. I don’t know what went on behind me, but I was able to build a lead by trying to stay way off of the brakes. I could still hear that the other women were close, and the trail constantly doubles back on itself, so there’s no “out of sight, out of mind” until you’ve got a heckuva lead. I kept pinning it until the trail was a little quieter. About 30 minutes in, the singlespeed leader (who had started a couple of minutes after me) caught up to me and let me know that Laureen was deep into 2nd and was a good bit behind me. I’d decided that I was going to chase down cat 1 men (who started 4 minutes ahead), so I didn’t let up.

The rest of the first lap was uneventful. I did my best to tune out the burn and stay off the brakes and eventually caught a cat 1 man. I passed through the start/finish area at just under an hour & 10 minutes for the first lap. I wasn’t sure of my lead until I re-entered the woods and heard someone yelling for Laureen as she was coming in to the pit area. Holy CRAP she’s close!

Pace-wise, I couldn’t push much harder. I was keeping up with nearly the same effort I’d started with, and still felt like I was flying up the hills. Feeling a little more confident with the dirt on the course, I kept trying my best to maintain speed and momentum. I kept seeing Laureen on the double-back parts of the course, and figured she was about one minute back… if I slowed down, I was dead in the water.

Thankfully, I didn’t slow down. Well, actually, about 1/2 a mile from the finish, my quads started to cramp like mad. Luckily, though, I fought through to finish in front, and was able to polish off another 1:09ish lap…

 

So, it was a good day. I like being pushed. I hope Laureen has plans to race some cyclocross.

Interbike #3- Nothing to see here…

Last night, after I made my #2 post, Amanda and I took off in a cab for Lotus of Siam, a Thai food place on the seedy side of “off the strip” that Dejay Birtch had picked out. It was pretty boss.

 

There was a huge after party to go to. Everyone wanted to check it out, including myself. However, I’ve had enough hangovers to know better than to go out and have an awesome time the night before I get on a morning flight back to Memphis. I don’t consider it a sign of getting old, I consider it a choice based on a lot of experience. Why didn’t I just go and say hi, skip the drinks, and still get back in time to get a few hours’ sleep?

 

As a result, I slept 6 whole hours and awoke feeling like forty bucks (I’ll feel more like a million once I’m back home and sleeping on my own memory foam). I packed, had a leisurely breakfast at Denny’s on the strip, and caught a cab in time to get to the airport just ahead of the crowds.

Once I’m home, it’s time to get to business. Post-season is over, and it’s time to get to cyclocross training.

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.