Monday, October 5, 2009

Where Will it End

Since MT Snow, there has been a gnawing at me. I led the race from the halfway point, only to be passed on the last gentle fireroad decent to the finish. Maybe if I had more gas in the tank and had a bigger lead, or maybe if I was able to just shift into a bigger gear.
I love riding the singlespeed, and can't be any happier with my results, but there is always that "what if" in the back of my head.
Hence the 1x8.
The maiden ride of the 1x8 was a success. A success in that I enjoyed riding it. It was fun shifting to a larger gear and cranking downhills. Spinning uphill seated was nice too. I was surprised that I made some technical spots; somehow I was in the right gear. That was always my problem before with gears; always in the wrong gear for the situation. I even rode up the "chute" on the powerlines; a feat I never would accomplish SS.

But efficiently sitting and spinning highlighted a rigid's shortcomings. Seated your not as "prone" to deal with trail clutter as out of the saddle attacking. How can I make this some how more efficient?

I dusted off the Reba and slapped it on.

Knowing that the suspension fork was going to add 2 pounds to a bike I just added a couple of pounds to brought out the weight weenie in me. Well the cheapskate WW that is; dug around and put the lightest stuff I had onto the bike

I put the hydros back on, that saved 70 grams.

Regular grips saved 100 grams.

I even swapped the rear skewer to save 10 grams.

When I put gears on I decided to tempt fate and run a Kenda Karma 1.9 on the rear to save 100 grams or so as well.

Total weight 26.1 lbs.

Not exactly a light weight, but it's what I got.

Slime Time

Saturday got out in the AM after the rain stopped. When it stops raining and starts drying out is when things get the most slippery. When it's raining it's just wet, but once the rain stops the slime begins to form on roots and rocks.

Being wrapped up in sitting and spinning I was riding too passively. That, the slime, and my tire choice shattered my confidence. Once you loose your nerve, your done. Everything is compounded. I was sliding all over the place and the fork wasn't improving control at all. I did enjoy it when I was able to hammer up to speed. Which showed me riding more aggressively gave me more control.

Sunday was a little better. Armed with the knowledge that pussyfooting around would have me sliding on my ass, I rode more assertively. This helped. I also learned when it's slimey, ride a bigger gear in technical spots. You need the torque and the gear inches to get over slippery rocks and roots. Especially small ledges.
I've got to hone when to sit and when to stand. Long climbs; sit. Short technical climbs; stand or "hover".
For all but the steepest courses the 1x8 is going to be perfect. My smallest gear is a 34f x 32r, which seems to be plenty spinny around here. Any lower and it would probably be faster walking. I'm going to order this guide so I can ditch the derailleur and front shifter and save a few more grams.

Last night I swapped my beloved Time ATAC's out for Crank Brother SL's. Saves another 16o grams of rotating weight. I swore off eggbeaters after a set exploded on me, leaving me to pedal out of the woods on a pedal spindle with the body in my pocket. I'll just have to be more vigilant in my service of them.

Finally, the weight. When all is said and done, it's going to weigh about 25.7 lbs. By XC standards that's a tank, and it's a scary big number. Yet riding it, it doesn't seem heavy at all. Actually rides pretty light. If I decide I really like this "variable gear" fad I might have to pick up a bargain frame so I can keep a singlespeed and a gearie. Performance has frames that can be had on special for $99, which would not only provide me with a platform for a geared bike, but shed another 1 1/2 pounds of the weight.

But can it possible ride as nice as the Monkey?
For a race bike does it matter?


Todd H. said...

Welcome to the dark side !!

Todd H. said...

I was actually looking at those frames too, but I think i'm going to keep at what I'm trying to do here.

James said...

This last race in NJ I was thinking about selling Selma. Long open double track sections made me spin forever while the guys with gears just casually pass me by.
I've been thinking about gears more and more.
And suspension.
When I'm on my cross bike I feel really good about gears. The only thing slowing me down is me.

Anonymous said...

I think gears and front suspension is a natural progression for someone who did as well as you did this season. I was strictly singlespeed for about 5 seasons, then went back to racing with gears last year, back and forth a bit to all gears (and mostly a suspension fork) this season, which saw me earn my best results. I did not race the SS once and I am OK with that decision. Having gears allows me to push harder at times and recover at other times. As you stated, climbing becomes more of a sit and spin affair and I think it suits me better. Suspension just makes sense when conditions are rough and allows one to make more line options.

I do not think you will like the aluminum frame, but I really do not have much to base that on. I have 3 different MTB frames - 1 steel, 1 scandium, and 1 aluminum. The alloy one rides much harsher than the other two frames, with the steel one being the most comfortable. I also think the KM has some pretty special geometry with the short stays and the Access frame does not. You would be better with lighter rims and tires than a lighter frame, just my opinion.

When you start talking carbon frames with 26 inch wheels, watch out!