Rouge Roubaix XV

A.K.A. One of the unluckiest/luckiest days of my life.

Saturday morning, Matt and I drove down to St. Francisville. We stopped on the north end of the course and pre rode the 2nd and 3rd (previous years, these were the 1st and 2nd, but the course was changed this year) sections of gravel. It was sandy and treacherous as usual. I was happy with the fit & feel of the new bike. In case you were wondering, a CAAD10 rides very nicely- the handling is great, and, though it’s a tiny bit less “rockety” than a super stiff carbon bike, it’s miles better than the 2009 Madone I briefly owned a couple of years ago.

Sunday morning, everything was shaping up for a good race. For the first time in 15 years, women had their own separate start (in previous years, they’d raced with cat 4 and/or masters men). I haven’t road raced in the area in a couple of years, so, other than Louise Smyth (a.k.a. best TTer in the South & last year’s winner) and Amy Phillips (who I’d met racing cyclocross in TN), I didn’t know who the horsepower of the bunch would be.

The race got off to a little bit of a slow start. Fine by me- we had 104 miles of course ahead of us. However, as we approached the fist gravel road section at about 18 miles in (a new addition to this year’s course), Louise, who’d been sitting on the back, moved up to the front of the group. I glued myself to her wheel, and, as we made a sketchy, loose, hairpin right-hander onto a gravel road, she and I got around clean while the rest of the field faltered.

Hammer = down.

Louise can throw down on some gravel. We pounded through the rest of the section, and as we neared the exit, looked back and saw that one lone rider, Amy Phillips, was dangling in no-man’s land behind us. We decided that with ~80 miles to go, it’d be wise to include another good rider into hammer time. The three of us worked our butts off to the next gravel section. Behind us, I can only imagine the infighting that was keeping the group from getting organized and chasing us down, but Louise and I agreed that it was unlikely that they’d catch us if we stayed steady.

Gravel #2 (the longest gravel section) was a little sketchier and sandier than the first section. We paced ourselves- going just hard enough to make it through everything smoothly, but not so recklessly that we couldn’t see the washouts and waterbars ahead of us. Unfortunately, right near the end of it, Louise stopped as we approached the crest of a hill. Amy and I stopped at the top and yelled back at her to see what was up, and she said that she’d dropped her chain. We soft pedaled for what seemed like an eternity (it was probably only about a minute, but in “off the front” time, it felt like 10) before deciding that we didn’t want to stick around long enough to see the rest of the group. So, Amy and I set out onto the road as a duo.

We agreed on sharing the work in steady, two minute pulls and settled in for what was going to be a long, hard day. Unfortunately, this is where the bad luck comes into play. At mile 58, we were on a long, flat, straight section of road. Amy mentioned that (because of the lack of hills or turns), this would be a good place to see if anyone was behind us. While she pulled, I took a good long look over my shoulder.

Nope, nothing back there except a car in the distance.

Seconds later, I heard a fraction of a second of car brakes panicking on the asphalt. Before it could register in my head what was happening, the car I’d seen behind me seconds before plowed into me and my bike. I was airborne long enough to picture myself dying on the side of the road. It was the most absolutely terrifying moment of my entire life because I was moving so fast, and everything hurt so bad.

(just typing this now is making me feel clammy and anxious)

The rest of my story is in a police report, and, because I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do “legally,” I’ll leave the details out except to say that I went to the hospital, was x-rayed, and was discharged with nothing broken. Just to clear up some of the rumors I’ve heard- no, it wasn’t a hit and run.

As for the race, Louise caught up with Amy, who’d stopped when I was hit. They battled it out for the QOM on the next gravel, then rode together til the last gravel, where Louise attacked her and rode in for the win.  I’m disappointed that I wasn’t there, but I’m happy that I’m not in a hospital or dead right now.

Gu Energy

I haven’t talked about it much until now (it was a little bit of a late addition to the sponsor list), but it’s high time I made this post. All of my sponsors are great, and they’re all very important pieces of the race season puzzle, but today’s post is dedicated to Gu Energy.

Details aside, they’ve made both a product and race entry contribution that’s so significant, it’s allowing me (budget-wise) to go to an extra stage race (TSE) this season along with the Breck Epic. If you know anything about mountain bike stage races, you know that they’re expensive as all getout- not just the entry fees, but also the cost of travel, lodging, etc. I’m incredibly privileged to have such a generous sponsorship, and I hope that all of you who are reading this take it into account when you make your next nutrition purchase at the bike shop.

I mean, it should go without saying, but, like most of my other sponsors, I used Gu products way before they had any idea that I like to ride a bike at high rates of speed. Just a quick rundown:

Roctane (gel and drink mix) is one of my most favorite nutrition formulations of all time, and, even if I wasn’t sponsored by them, I’d still mainline it during my hard training & racing efforts. In the words of my friend Forrest Owens, “it hits you like a freight train through a wet paper sack.”

Gu Chomps are like athlete candy. I use them a lot as a pre-ride snack, but you can eat them any time just like you would a regular gel (there are two servings per pack). Confession- sometimes I want to ride just so I’ll have an excuse to eat them. They’re crazy tasty.

Recovery Brew is also something you’ll start craving once you’ve had it. I’ve taken to making various recovery brew recipes. My current favorite (since it’s cold & gross outside) is heating up 1/2 water 1/2 goats milk in the microwave (just enough to make it warm) then pouring it over the chocolate smoothie recovery powder in the shaker bottle. It’s like having post-ride hot chocolate.

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P.S. There are two other people that use the pictured shelves & drawers for storage, so other stuff is bound to show up in photos.

P.P.S. Honorable mention to the new style purist bottle- holds 22oz, softer plastic than your usual bottle, and a water hose for a spout. That shaker bottle is pretty sweet, too, and you don’t actually have to use it in the same manner that Poolboy Matt does for it to be effective.

I haven’t pictured the electrolyte brew and tablets. I like the Roctane so much that I generally just drink it in my bottles, however, the electrolyte brew does have a lot more salt in it that I’ll be craving in the summer time, so it’ll likely show up on the shelves in the next couple of months.

 

 

Oops

First off, just as a quick update, there’s more bad juju going on with the EVO. I’m just waiting to work things out with C’Dale before I give a full report, because I want my next report to be my last one.

Now that’s out of the way, I can talk about my own screw-up that kept me from riding in a group MTB ride in Oxford on Saturday. As a little change of pace, Poolboy Matt and I decided that we’d go down to Oxford for the “Tuff Guy” ride- a group ride starting at one trail system, taking a road/bike path route to trails on the other side of town, then coming back to the starting trail system. The weather was pretty dismal- temps hung in the low 30’s, cloud cover was thick, and the humidity was so high that the moisture in the air was turning into snow-ish ice pellets that’d pelt you in the face and collect in your collar. We figured it’d be more fun to suffer bad weather with a group on new trails instead of suffering alone in Memphis.

So, Saturday morning, we got into a breakfast time-vacuum of some sort, and ended up rushing a little to leave. I backed the car out of the garage to pack and realized that the roads were slimy, so I decided to stick the bikes inside the Element rather than on the rear rack. I removed the front wheels, and they fit in perfectly with our bags & other riding stuff. We were off & running, and made the drive down with 20 minutes to spare before the ride start.

As soon as we arrived, Matt took his bike out & rode off to look for a bathroom. I got my bike out and it immediately hit me- I had no thru axle for my front wheel. I didn’t even have to look around in the car to make sure. I clearly remembered wrestling with it a little to get it out of the front wheel, then tossing it on the ground in the driveway before installing the bike and front wheel into the back of the Element without retrieving the thru axle. I flagged down Matt. We made a few hail-mary efforts to look for someone with a spare bike that may have one, but it wasn’t happening. I knew Matt was really looking forward to the ride, so I offered to be a crew person for the group then do my workout on the trainer once we were home. However, he decided he’d rather go back and ride in Memphis.

The ride back home was very quiet.

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Back home, we hit the reset button- eating lunch, prepping bikes, and deciding on a route. Given the rain we’ve been having, we chose on an out & back route that included the driest of the nearby trails as well as some of the Memphis Greenline. Pace would range from spirited to “hammertime.”

We ended up having a great, exhausting ride. Matt installed a rigid fork on his bike a few days ago and decided to celebrate by riding cross-country pace+ on the inbound portion of our route. The combination of pace and lack of trail traffic (due to weather than was better suited to staying inside with a hot toddy) made for some serious Strava terrorism. We may not have done the planned group ride, but we got in one helluva workout.

Day = salvaged

Just Riding Along and Stuff

Just Riding Along seems to be gaining some traction in recent episodes. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, you can check it out here: Mountain Bike Radio- Just Riding Along

The past few episodes, we’ve actually had more write-in questions via Facebook than what we can cover in the show, which is great, because it’s very effective insurance against dead air- on a related note, if you want to be 100% certain that we fully discuss a topic that you want information about, I’d suggest actually calling in during the show. We often times have to speculate, which is fun, but may not give you what you’re looking for. Added bonus- you’re also much more likely to win the giveaway if we’ve got one.

Since it seems we’ve got a good listener-base, I’ve also been trying to procure some product to test/review/talk to someone about on air, and, so far, I’m 0 for 3. Apparently, no one other than Bruce Dickman from ProGold sees the value in internet radio shows (nothing wrong with that, of course- we’re pretty huge fans of their products).

On the training front, everything is chugging along. I’m putting in approximately 15 hours per week (give or take), and, though my legs were arguing with me yesterday about the intensity of some 15 minute intervals (I eventually won the argument, but it took lots of loud music and hurt a lot), everything is going pretty well. The weather here is back to 40/windy/humid as f*** for the foreseeable future, so my volume is acutely stunted by taking to the occasional trainer ride. Not that I can’t get out in that stuff…

Tough day at the office

…it’s just some days, 40 and raining feels less tolerable than others.

In “mechanic of the century” news, I found one last thing that got killed by the mud/powerwashers at CX Worlds. Fullface Kenny was giving me a hand with a quick check of tension on my 2 sets of I9 wheels (normal suggested maintenance after the first few rides) when he found that all of the outboard bearings in my i25 road tubeless wheels were dead (not the wheels’ fault- this is guaranteed to happen to any bearing if you’re sloppy with the pressure washer). I hadn’t touched them other than one washing since we’d come back home, so I’d totally missed it. So, it was impromptu hub rebuild time at the shop. Luckily, Kenny has continued my legacy of bearing hoarding at the shop, so I was able to replace everything that was crunchy. I got artsy with Instagram (again).
P.S. In case you were wondering, after a little thrashing- including both Syllamo and Tour de Wolf (read- irresponsibly fast launches from washed out root drops), the Trail 24s were in near-perfect shape.

Finally, in “EVO Saga” news, Cannondale has responded favorably to my previous blog posts about my frame issues (I was actually contacted directly by Mandy Braverman from @CannondaleWomen on Twitter). Previous issues aside, it’s nice to see a company that responds to customer issues rather than ignoring them/pretending they don’t exist, or, even worse, deleting them from existence when posted in a public social media spot (ask Dan Hensley what he thinks about Specialized’s views on IMBA Rule #2). As of Tuesday, they are supposed to be shipping a new bike my way. This one should be non-defective and totally compatible with any PF30 bottom bracket available. I plan on tearing my current frame down again today in preparation for the new one’s arrival, though I’m not getting too excited just yet, because I don’t know if it’s shipped. I’ll keep you posted.

Crosswinds Classic

There’s really nothing to report about this one. I showed up, registered, then was approached by an official and one of the two other 1/2/3 women (Scotti Wilborne) who were at the race. Instead of racing in a small group, she wanted to ride in the men’s 1/2 race. Her reasoning? She didn’t want us to get battered by the wind for 70 miles/4hours (our race was billed at 39 miles- I have NO idea where she got those numbers), be bored, and not get a good training day. I think, to paraphrase, she was saying, “I don’t want to grind around in the wind with one/two other people then sprint for the finish.” She even told me, “if you don’t want to do the distance, you can pull out after two laps, and I’ll let them call you the winner.”

I told her two things:
-I’m here to race, I don’t care how many people it’s against.
-If I wanted to hang around on a group ride with fast guys, I wouldn’t drive all the way here and pay money. I’d stay home and go to a group ride.

The one thing I didn’t say (which, honestly, I don’t think would have changed her mind) was, “hey, I don’t know where you got the idea that I was going to make it easy, but I intend doing my damnedest to kick your ass and win, even if it’s just the two of us.”

When I was arguing with Scotti about which race to do, I was hoping that the other Memphis woman who was at the race, Pam Tate would be at the start line. Instead, she raced the men’s master’s race. She complained that it was too easy. I told her afterward that she should’ve raced me, because it wouldn’t have been easy. She gave some sort of reason that had to do with needing more/faster pack racing because she was doing some bigger races this season.

The thing is, women can’t actually race each other in a men’s race. The guys get in the way. They either chase you and weld you back into the field, or they’re making breakaway moves of their own, and you’re not welcome to play. What it turns into is sitting in the group, listening to guys piss and moan at each other, occasionally going hard, then finishing with the pack. It’s essentially a group ride, but with slightly higher testosterone levels. The men’s 1/2 race at Crosswinds had two break groups, and, with that, most of the teams were represented, and the field shut down to “roll to the finish” speed. One of Ryan’s teammates reported that Scotti was complaining that no one was chasing the breakaways down.

So, I rode 39 miles with a couple of tandems and a couple of juniors. I rode the first lap with them, then I decided to do my own thing and ride the 2nd & 3rd of the 3 laps as hard as possible. I got my training for the day. I wished it didn’t have to be that way, though.

Supersix EVO Update

If you don’t know the story, scroll back a couple of days and read it first, lest you be totally lost.

First off, when I was told that the “surefire” bottom bracket cup kit to make my frame work was being overnighted to me, that wasn’t true. It was sent 2-day. When I opened the package, I find that I’ve been shipped a single aluminum bottom bracket cup. Unlike the “wrong” kit that was sent days earlier, which included two bearings, two cups, and an instruction manual, this is just one, bare cup (Joel talked to a C’Dale tech who said that it should have been two). I take a closer look and see that the only difference between this and what I’d received previously was that this was a normal cup that had been honed out a little (it was very obvious by the lack of anodization and scoring on the inside surface)

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I’m not even going to try to build any sort of suspense here. When I installed it into the drive side of the frame with the bearing, the bearing didn’t turn smoothly. It didn’t bind up nearly as much as before, but it made an obvious “click” as it rotated. There’s no way a bearing would remain viable for any length of time in that situation.

At this point, it was after business hours. I called Joel and let him know that on Monday, please inform Cannondale that the only viable options for me are to either A) get a perfect, new frame, NOW, with a perfectly functioning, ceramic bottom bracket installed without any shop-made band-aid fixes, or B) Send the frame back and get a refund. I’m not playing this “lets hone something out and hope it works” crap any more. This bike retails for $7700. I haven’t been able to ride it since OCTOBER.

I’m going to a road race in Arkansas tomorrow morning. I’ll be riding my cyclocross bike.

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Tubular Gluing How-to

If you’re a mountain-only type of person, this post will do one of two things for you- bore you to death and make you never come back, or be oddly fascinating as to why someone would take this sort of time to prepare wheels and tires just for road racing (in all fairness, tubular CX wheels/tires are used almost exclusively by serious CX racers, and tubular mountain bike wheels/tires do exist, they just aren’t that common).

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, all bike tires were tubular. I’ll spare you the explanation of what that means since Google is your friend, and just say that now, they’re generally only used in road, tri, and Cyclocross (and occasional MTB) racing. Gluing a tubular tire to a rim is a process that seems to mystify a lot of people. Do it right, and you have a very safe, reliable, lightweight, and incredibly buttery-feeling ride. Do it wrong, and your tire could come off of the rim, and you could wind up seriously injured.

So, let’s first go over what you can do that’s “wrong.”
-Not use enough glue
-Not apply the glue evenly/leave dry spots on the rim and/or basetape
-Not make sure that the basetape is pressed all the way into the center “well” of the rim when you install the tire
-Not prep the basetape/rim surfaces before applying glue
– Make a mess/install the tire backwards (won’t kill you, but doesn’t look pro, either)

Here’s how I avoid those things. Disclaimer- if you are currently searching the internet for “how to glue tubulars,” you’re likely to find different methods that will yield the same result- a well-glued tire. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those as long as the end product is the same. Heck- Poolboy Matt does it differently, and I’m about to race a set tomorrow that he glued for me last season. The important thing is, whatever method you choose, you avoid the things I mentioned above.

Supplies- acid brushes (available in the plumbing section of the hardware store), Acetone, Goof-Off, latex or nitrile gloves, truing stand, glue (I like Vittoria Mastik One), a skinny broomstick, and a helper for step 6.

1. Prep the tire. The night before you’re going to glue, put the tire on the rim dry and inflate it to 120psi. That will stretch it out a little and make it easier to install once it’s glued.
2. Prep the gluing surfaces. Wipe the rim and basetape of the tire down with some acetone. If there’s old glue on the rim, that’s ok as long as it’s not clumpy and messy. I usually soak those spots in a little acetone, which softens the glue and makes it “melt” a little into the fresh glue you apply to the rim.
3. Put electrical tape on the brake track of the rim. Trust me- It makes everything soooooo much cleaner.
4. First coat of glue. Inflate your tire enough that it starts to roll inside-out. Add air until you can lay it on a clean counter and the basetape faces up. It’ll look like this:
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(instagram it for added “hipness”)
Wear your gloves, and brush the glue on a little at a time, being sure to get it all the way to the edges of the basetape without going over. You want every millimeter of it to have glue on/in it. When you’re done, put it someplace out of the way so it can dry.
Put your wheel in the truing stand. Put a similar coat of glue on it Be sure that the glue is smooth and even from wall-to-wall on the rim. Leave it in the stand to dry. Keep cats away from it.
5. I give everything at least three hours to dry, but it won’t hurt to go longer (some people say overnight). At that point, evaluate as to whether or not you need another coat of glue on both surfaces…
-Basetape: some basetape is very “thirsty,” like the Conti in these pictures. I ALWAYS go with 2 coats on a very absorbent basetape. Tires like a Zipp tubular have a much less absorbent basetape, and, you’ll find that the glue you applied is already giving you a nice, solid sheen. This is where your judgement comes into play. If in doubt, apply another coat of glue and allow it to dry, just like you did before. It should end up looking like this:
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-Rim: Here’s another judgement call on your part. If you’re gluing a wheel/tire for road & crit racing, put another coat of glue onto the rim. In those situations, you’ve generally got more brake heat and turning force applied to the rim/tire. Also, someone who flats a tire in either of those situations is going to remove their wheel and get a spare from the pit/wheel truck. In most triathlons, not only will the the wheel/tire not be subjected to the same severe turning/brake heating forces as, say, a road-racing criterium, but also, if the rider flats, he/she will generally need to be able to remove the tire on the side of the road and install their spare. If you put another coat of glue on the rim, it’s going to be close to impossible to take the tire off without a lot of time and herculean effort. If in doubt, apply another coat and let it dry. It should look nice & smooth, wall-to-wall, like this:
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6. At this point, you have 2 dry surfaces with “enough” glue on them. The last coat of glue is a very thin one, only applied to the rim. Once you’ve done that, let the air out of your tire and call in your helper. Set the rim on a clean surface on the ground (I use a piece of cardboard on the floor). Stick the valve through (you remembered your valve extender, right?), and pull outward/down on the tire (making sure to keep the basetape centered on the rim) to wrap it around the rim and give yourself as much “slack” as possible for the last bit of tire. (If this doesn’t make sense, search youtube… I’m sure you can find a few videos there.) When you get to the last section of tire, you want to try your best to grab it and pull it over the edge of the rim rather than rolling the tire surface and sidewall through the glue- this is where an extra set of hands is very helpful.
7. Once your tire is installed, add just enough air to give it shape. Put it in the truing stand and start working your way around the to make sure that the tire is centered on the rim. Some people use the feelers on the truing stand to look for any wobbles. Whatever works for you.
8. Once it’s centered all the way around, uninflate the tire.  Lay your broomstick on the floor and roll the tire over it to insure good contact between the basetape and the rim. This is ESPECIALLY important if your rim has a very deep “well” in the middle. I usually make several passes, using my bodyweight to press down and really make the basetape and rim stick.
9. Inflate the tire to 120psi. Remove the electrical tape and use acetone & goof-off to clean up any excess glue.
10. Bask in the glow of a gorgeous job. Install wheels on bike and go kick everyone’s butt.

The Cannondale EVO Saga

A BUNCH of people have asked me why I haven’t been on my fancy roadbike that I talked so much about last Fall. Well, it’s not often that I post anything on my blog that’s not 99% complementary of a company or their equipment, but, as I’m sitting here, waiting for a bike part that will hopefully allow me to ride my road bike after NOT being able to ride it for more than 3 months, I feel compelled to tell this story. Hopefully it will keep me from having to re-tell it because someone asks, “What ever happened to that Supersix??”

As you might recall, I received my Cannondale SuperSix EVO (women’s edition) back in October. If you’ve forgotten/missed it,  here’s a link: http://www.brickhouseracing.com/?p=4861

There was something I didn’t mention in that post.- When I first assembled it, the bottom bracket bearings (ceramic bearing, Pressfit 30) seemed to have some drag to them. I shrugged it off as new bearing drag and went about my business. However, in the back of my head, I couldn’t help but feel like I was working harder than I should have been.

The super fancy Cannondale PF30 bottom bracket:
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Fast forward a couple of weeks. I was giving my bike a little once-over and, as I spun the cranks, felt the same (maybe worse) drag on the bearings. I remove the crank and confirm with my finger that yes, the bearings are NOT spinning well at all. In fact, one of them is SO bound up that instead of it spinning with the crank, the crank spun inside of it, scoring the spindle…

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I take the bottom bracket out… suddenly, the bearings spin like a champ. Press the bottom bracket back in… bearings bind up. Obviously, the frame is out of tolerance, right?

I call Cannondale and leave a message w/tech. Eventually, someone calls back. He says it’s a bottom bracket problem, and says they’ll send out a new one as well as a new spindle to replace the damaged one. A few days later, the warranty parts arrive, only, it’s not a bottom bracket and spindle in the box, it’s an under-the-bottom-bracket cable guide and a spindle. I call back and get the bottom bracket headed my way.

Two days later, it arrives. It’s a plastic-cup/steel bearing SRAM PF30 bottom bracket. Not really what came in my bike, but, whatever, I’ll try it. It just so happens that Steve, our Cannondale rep, was at the shop when I finally had the time to install it. I press it in, and, whaddayaknow… bearings bind up. Not only do they bind up, but the drive side cup/bearing gets stuck in the frame. Like, REAL stuck- Steve, who could easily pass for a lumberjack from shoulder to fingertip, took some scary hard swings at it with the hammer, and it wouldn’t budge. He contacts the mothership and confirms that, yes, this is a problem with my frame, and not the bottom bracket.

What I heard next made me sad. Being the new, hot thing, I wouldn’t be able to get a replacement frame until the end of December. I decide I’ll make lemonade out of those lemons and go into full-on cyclocross training, riding a CX bike instead of a road bike for every minute of my pre-worlds training (outside of MTB rides, of course).

Fast forward again. My frame is supposed to be delivered while I’m at Worlds. It isn’t. My frame arrives February 8th. No idea why, but that’s when it got here. I’m stoked, so I take it home and start putting it all together. I press the bottom bracket in, and, the bearings bind up. Again. Just like the first frame. I call Joel, the bike shop manager/buyer from Outdoors and let him know that I’m boxing BOTH frames up to get shipped back to Cannondale. He talks to Cannondale, and they finally fess up…

Those frames are out of tolerance. It’s all of them. To fix this, they’ve manufactured new cups to fit into the out-of-tolerance frames. The cups are machined to accept a BB30 bearing without causing it to bind up, and they’ll ship a set to me. At this point, I’m getting mad. I’d been waiting since October for a new frame, and, in the meantime, they had a part that could have possibly made my old frame useable (if we could somehow remove the stuck PF30 cup from the driveside).

A few days later, I get the part. It’s a new set of cups (like the black ones that hold the bearings pictured above, but supposedly sized to not cause binding) and steel BB30 bearings. In my frustrated state, I call Joel back and tell him to contact Cannondale and kindly ask them to send a set of ceramic bearings, like the ones that originally came with my frame. He was happy to do so, and called me back a few minutes later with another report from Cannondale. In the 3 days since they’d last talked, they made a DIFFERENT set of cups for the EVO frame that supposedly work even better, and they’ll come with ceramic bearings, so DON’T use the kit I just got, wait for them to send a different one out!

So, that’s where I am now. They said that Wednesday, they’d get overnighted to the shop. It’s 3:20, and it hasn’t shown up yet. My bike lays in wait…

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Several people have asked, “Why don’t you throw a fit and get a frame that doesn’t need a proprietary part?” Well, the redeeming thing right now is that Cannondale offers a lifetime warranty on their frames. They stand behind it. We warrantied an early ’90s Raven MTB when I was at the shop. Of course, they didn’t have one of those as a replacement, but they sold the guy a Carbon Scalpel 29er at essentially an Employee Purchase cost. So, in the future, if the custom-cup thing doesn’t work out, I have faith that they’ll take care of me. Hopefully, though, this is the last you’ll ever hear about it.

Thing that needs to exist #327

Monday night on Just Riding Along, Kenny and I (Matt was out of town) discussed a need for a update/improvement to a bike part that only exists on the entry level/hybrid end of the market. It started with a discussion about gearing. I’m a big fan of 2×10 drivetrains. I’ve used SRAM XX and X0 as well as Shimano XTR. Kenny is a total 1xdrivetrain fanboy. His favorite setup now is either full 1×11 or, for the more budget-oriented build, using a 1×11 crank/chain (designed to work together to keep the chain on the chainring) and any clutch-type 10-speed rear derailleur.
Functionally, he’s had great success with both, but these are my holdups with them:
-On 1×11, the gaps in between gears would bug the hell out of me (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42). I’m already swearing off 11-36 10 speed cassettes for the same reason (once my current one wears out, I plan on going 11-32).
-SRAM is slated to release different size 11 speed cassettes in the future, but then the problem of range comes in. If I’m gonna have gears, I want a similar range to the 2×10 I use now (39/26 up front, 11-36, soon to be 32, in the rear). I use the 39×11. It’s not often, but, in training on the road or during races that include some road sections, it is a gear that I find on a regular basis. This is why, on a 1×10 setup, the range just doesn’t do it for me. Like I said, if I’m gonna cart around some gears, I want my 39×11, and I want a granny gear of some sort (I’ve found that a 26×28 is really useful on most climbs, sometimes as low as 32, but I rarely find the 36)

SO, to get the range I’d like, the current 1×11 offering would work with a 34 or 36t chainring, but the gaps, as I mentioned, would set off my nit-picky/diva pet peeves. Enter, solution:

megarange

Make a baller 11-speed version of the Shimano Megarange that comes on cheapie bikes all over the world. My dream gearing would be essentially a 10-32 “10 speed” cassette (gears something like 10,11,13,15,17,19,23,25,28,32) with a 42 tooth low gear. Problem, solved. Gear divas all over the world rejoice, and I become a 1×11 fangirl forever. (P.S. There is this: General Lee Wide Range Cassette Adapter, which is interesting, but not really the same thing.) As for the haters who say, “that jump from 32 to 42 will NEVER work,” well, if a cheapass Acera on a Hybrid can make the jump, I see no reason why a baller-ass XX1 derailleur couldn’t hack it.

Of course, this is a lot of nit-picking over gears for someone who indulges in Singlespeeding on a very regular basis, but, until women’s singlespeed is a more popular race category, I’ll always be looking for the best (even if it’s just in my head) setup. SRAM, make my dreams come true…

No-Race Weekend

If you’ve been around for a while, you may (or may not) notice that I skipped the 4th Annual Southern Cross Race. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it the last 3 years, but with CX Worlds extending my CX training so far into the winter, I wasn’t feeling the race weekend. Looks like it was cold and damp as usual, and the women’s podium ended up with the same ladies on it as last year.

Could I have podium-ed? With my current level of fitness, probably so, but speculation is pretty useless in bike racing.

Am I sad I missed it? Nope. I spent the weekend training. Saturday, the guys from 901 Racing invited me out for their (chilly) team ride. It was a mostly steady ride, which was good since my legs were pretty trashed feeling from the previous days of training. On the hard efforts, I could tell that the power was in there, I just had to work past the “quads fresh out of the meat grinder” feeling to get to it. Saturday afternoon, Matt and I visited No Regrets. This time, however, I wasn’t the one getting the ink:

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Sunday, Ryan completed his shortest homebrew session ever when he started a 3-gallon batch of cider. Hopefully, it turns out to be a viable option for gluten-free homebrewing (his last attempts resulted in a mead that tastes like olive brine and a sorghum beer that’s super bitter with an aftertaste of more bitter). Luckily, this seems like the simplest of the three, and, if the finished recipe is any indication, it’s going to be incredibly tasty.

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After that, Ryan, Matt, and I rode most of the Wolf River Trails. We attempted to go to Grey’s Creek (a less-used, slightly more adventurous trail), but one of the creek crossings a couple of miles in was way washed out, and continuing on would have meant either searching upstream for a better crossing or getting our legs wet/cleats clogged w/mud in the washed out one (neither of which was a desirable option for the guys). So, we turned around and dodged runners on the more traveled trails.

Because of the incoming rain, I’m skipping yoga this morning and going out for my ride instead. Ryan and Matt are both traveling for their jobs this week. I’m excited to have the house to myself so I can go to late yoga class then lay around in my underwear with a bottle of wine and a cheesy movie that includes explosions and sweaty men with no shirts. Bachelorette mode: engage.