Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tire Review: Geax Saguro

In a perfect world where all the singletrack is packed loam, the Saguro's would be an almost perfect tire. A little heavy at over 700 grams, but boy do they roll nice. High volume and a fast tread.

I was loving the Saguro I had put up front on my Soma, the oxymoron race bike, when I decided to go back to rigid, but conditions have been ideal, with just enough precipitation to keep the trails from getting all dry, loose and sandy.

The past couple of days we've had off and on showers to make things a little more interesting. If that wasn't good enough, I decided to put a Saguro on the back too.

Now here in Connecticut, the most slippery conditions next to ice is when the rain stops and the trail slime starts coating all the rocks and roots. When it's actually raining, riding's not so bad, but once the water stops flowing and washing away the slick stuff, watch out!

In these absolute worst conditions, the Geax Saguro's suck.

They are the suckiest sucks to ever suck when conditions suck.

The rear would spin out under pressure climbing, and the front would skitch across the trail when descending. I kept on lowering the pressure, vainly attempting to gain some traction from them, but it was for naught.

I did find out that you can go real low with the pressure and not bottom out. I was down to 17.5 PSI in the front, and 18.5 PSI out back. Sidewalls must be real tough.

Then again, you can't bottom out on roots and rocks when you're sliding across them...

From what I've read, they might be the perfect tires for Singlespeed-A-Polooza, but that's a chance I'm not going to take as Gerry and I fight the battle for the Lanterne Rouge. Not saying the field is stack, but holy shit! The field is stacked!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Plastic Fantastic?

Got home from the Angel Ride to find a long, narrow, yet light box waiting for me on the table.
My new carbon fork had arrived!
It seems well made; nothing obviously flawed about it. Tubes cleanly glued into the dropouts and crown. Weighed within 50 grams of the advertised weight. Everything was exactly as it should be.

So it looks and weighs like it's supposed to, but how does it ride?

Like a fork. I found it to be precise. I didn't notice any extra damping over the rigid steel forks I've ridden, or did I notice it flexing around over bumps or braking. Then again I don't have the mad skillz to be looking at my fork in rocky singletrack; I'm looking at the trail. For vibration damping I've noticed more of a difference between carbon and alloy handlebars.

What I did notice was how much it lightened the front end of my bike. 2 lbs less than a Reba, 1.5 lbs less than the original steel fork. Lofting the front end over logs or changing directions was almost telepathic. Not really, but it was noticeably easier.

In my oh so scientific and strict test regiment, I found the carbon fork to be faster than the Reba.

I rode the same course today as last Tuesday and was more than 3 minutes faster. Sure it was drier, and last Tuesday was 2 days after a race, but today was 2 days after the Angel Ride, and I definitely was missing some top-end (I only hit 18.7 mph on the levee, last week I broke 20 mph). Plus I had to cut the grass yesterday (isn't that what teen aged sons are for?) and stand in the sun watching a parade. Plus I stoped to help a guy with a broken finger, and slowed to politely pass two women riding today. I didn't know which route I would take today, as my thighs and hips are still sore from the weekend, but once I got moving, I felt pretty good.

Ah, mountain biking; the cure for what ails you...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Angel Ride

So the Angel Ride was this weekend. My team, Team Sarah, raised over $17,000. Thanks to all who helped!

I chose to ride the Fun Machine, my fixed gear. The choice was made on a couple of different levels.

First: For the challenge. Last year I rode my Cannondale, and it had it's challenging moments, but, all and all, nothing to push any boundaries for me.

Second: it's my favorite road bike. I just plain enjoy riding it more than any other bike on the road.

Third and most importantly: Out of respect for the brave campers who attend the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. Riding any bike is such a insignificant, minuscule challenge to what the kids face.

After safety and inspirational speeches in Norfolk, we hit the road. the ride to the first rest stop / check in is almost all downhill, and at a comfortable pitch too. No crazy spinning, just a steady tempo in the mid-twenties.

The road to rest stop 2 leads from Peoples State Forest to Granby, with some nice climbing and fast descending along rt 219. The ride starts to thin out here as everyone settles into their pace. I start yo-yo-ing back and forth with different groups; hill go up, Charlie goes forward, hill go down Charlie goes backwards.

There is less climbing on route to the next stop, the lunch stop, as we head towards the CT River. Two of my team mates and I are first to this stop.

Oh yeah, reason 4 for riding the fixed gear: I did not want to be in the competition for "Winner of the Charity Bike Event".

From lunch we head through Ellington, and what will turn out to be my biggest challenge. There is a climb that twice tilts up to a very uncomfortable grade. My Garmin says I topped out at 18.7%. Which might be correct seeing as I was over 60 miles into the ride, but it sure felt tougher than Buena Vista or Hater's road, which both exceed 20%.

From the last rest stop there is a lot of hype about the last hill up to the camp. It is long, but I found the grade reasonable and could get into a tempo. T.J. and Scott dropped me on a descent, and finished 1st and 2nd. Some juniors from Mystic Velo came in a little after me, and went out for another 20 to make it a century!

First day total: 83.24 miles, 75o7' of climbing. Time to get massages, and stuff our faces with culinary delights from Mohegan Sun. Breakfast rocked too!

day 1

T.J. and Scott

Day 2 was perfect terrain for the fixed gear. Mostly rolling, with short steep climbs. I felt great; my tendons were a little tight, but all in all, I felt good. About 15 miles in, the roads were wet from rain that had fallen earlier (we left the camp in the dry), and soon it began to rain. This only lasted for a little more than 5 miles, but long enough to let me feel like a badass for riding in the rain, and to make my Garmin, which I just got back from warranty repair, go all screwy. First it's screen went blue, then it shut off. I'm hoping this is a freak occurrence due to rain and a low battery, but I'm getting pretty tired of all the issues I have to deal with with it. Customer service is top-notch though.
At one point, a guy from Mystic Velo passed me on a descent, only to be re-passed on the next climb. He called out, "come on, what are you doing, we can work together, and make this pleasant" to which I responded, "I'm real slow on the descents and flats, don't worry you'll catch me". He then realized I was on a fixed gear, and not just being a prick ( by riding a fixie, maybe that automatically makes me a prick?). We worked together for a while, but I think his juniors, had worn him out, and when the grade increased, he fell off pace.

TJ, Scott, and 3 or 4 juniors from Mystic Velo again finished first. I came in early enough to get a hot shower, stuff my face, and get a massage without having to wait in any crazy lines. I did have to wait a little bit for the massage, because only 2 of the 4 scheduled masseuses showed.

Day 2 is 50 miles, and is supposed to be 3200' of climbing. My Garmin crapped out at 30 miles, and had recorded 2600' at that point, so that's probably about right. I read day 1 was 6250' of climbing, but I'll go with my Garmin's reading on this one!

A great weekend of riding for a great cause. I feel honored to be able to do my small part to enrich the lives of children facing such unthinkable

Our inspiration, Sarah (standing) and sister Amanda

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Zoned Out

Riding today I had this weird disconnected feeling. It was as if I was watching a video of my ride. I didn't think about pedaling or steering or about any of the other actions of my body. I just watched my very silent ride.

Kinda cool.

To do my part in stimulating the economy, I bought this pretty plastic fork that will match the Soma oh so nicely.

My only expectation of it is that it'll be 2 lbs lighter than the Reba, or 1.5 lbs lighter than the original steel fork.

I figure since even w/ the Reba I'm still slower than snot descending, I might as well loose a couple pounds for when I'm ascending.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

West and Welaxation

I'm the least structured rider when it comes to "training"; I don't even wear a HRM anymore. Seemed I was just strapping it on and looking at the readings afterwards, saying to myself "Yep, my heart was beating". I let my body and the terrain dictate my workout. After a race I usually try and take it easy for a day or two, and where better to do that than at one of the happiest places on the earth, Pennwood.

Had to be one of those "ten best days of the year" days. Temperature around 70 F, low humidity, a couple of days since the last rain so the trails are firm, with a little tack, yet not dried out.


Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so either; I've never seen so many people at Pennwood on a Weekday, which probably explains why the trails are getting so much wider, and braided.

Enough of the bitching, what a great night for a ride.
Being a recovery ride means I get to play on every rock that looks fun, not that my rigid training schedule prevents that, but sometimes it's just fun to noodle around, enjoying the scenery.

When I got to the chimney, I saw a guy pushing his bike up the fireroad, if you haven't rode Pennwood out to Tarifville, this is a tough climb. I joked "Now go back down and ride it" He told me, he usually makes it but it was his first ride of the year. I let him know I can only make it about 50% of the time. He wished me well and took off towards Pennwood as I shook the remnants of Winsted Woods out of my shoes. When I caught him on the climb to the transfer station, he grunted out "I hate you" between breaths. I thought it best not to let him know I was just taking it easy noodling around.

What was one of the best parts of riding in the home town of Max Creek tonight? No more creaks!
After all the swapping, torquing, and lubing, it seems the creak was just my rear skewer.

Now do I swap everything back to the Karate Monkey, or make it in to the Karate Monster-cross?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Podium Shirt

Lead up to Winsted was not great.

  • Broke a spoke on a "race wheel"
  • The "creaking"
  • Not happy with my shock
  • Although I was feeling great all week, Friday and Saturday on the bike I was lacking
  • While I contemplated "the creaks" I crashed on Friday and hurt my foot.
  • Had to make an unexpected trip to work to change tires
  • Left shock pump and CO2 inflator at work (I'd be racing with a pump)

On Friday I decided, right before I crashed, I would race the Soma, because I couldn't deal with "the creaks". First thing Saturday, I decided to swap all my favorite parts from the Karate Monkey to the Soma so I'd have the best of both worlds; all the good stuff without so much noise. This all went fine, but after I broke the spoke on my race wheel, and rode my back-up, I realized the Nevegal was more tire than I wanted on a hardtail. Hence the trip to the shop before I met James for a pre-ride.

Pre-ride was going well. I was questioning my choice of gear, but after James and I discussed it, much contemplation and number crunching, I concluded it was what it was and that's what it was.

Now the real challenge of getting out of Winsted when there is some sort of parade going on was at hand.

All my last minute swapping turned out to be for naught as the creaks came back! Sorry for the redundancy of this post (to the three of you who might be reading).

A little more last minute wrenching, and finger crossing, and I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

Race Day!

It just wouldn't be Sunday in Connecticut if I didn't get caught behind every geezer doing 10 mph below the speed limit and stoped at every red light now would it?

When I finally get to the race venue, James and I hook up for a couple of mini laps to warm up; I don't know how the kid can go so fast down rocky descents on a rigid!

Call up comes quickly, and we have a decent turn out for Winsted; at the awards Chris says 12, but I think there were a few more than that.

Dick blows his whistle, and we are off!

Through the grassy field I'm holding my position pretty well, I'm in 5th or 6th spot.

Fortunately the climbing starts early and I'm up front dicing for third. The four of us are pretty tight in the single track as I take third wheel, until I bobble and drop to forth. This give 1st and 2nd a chance to build a little gap as I have to start dueling it out for third again.

We go back and forth through the singletrack and descent, but when we get to the rocky climb up the back I take control. At this point 1st and 2nd are still in sight, but a good 30 seconds up the trail.

By the top of the climb, I'm passing the stragglers from the 30-39 class, trying to stay on the gas while keeping in mind I've got 3 more laps ahead.

Second lap I feel fantastic. Reel in more back markers, using them as carrots to keep me motivated.

As I round the turn at the end of the rocky descent that leads to the tough rock climb, on the side of the trail is the guy who was leading our class fixing a flat. Bummer for him, but now I'm in second! On the climb I pass the leader of the singlespeed class, who started I think 4 minutes before me.

The third lap, I'm still feeling pretty good, but starting to feel the climbs. I keep reeling in the back markers, and looking over my shoulder.

Final lap. I'm feeling it, fatigue that is. I'm most worried about the guy who was leading. In my mind, if he has a quick tire change, he might catch me on the next descent. Every climb I feel I can barely turn the cranks over, but I do; I clean all the climbs (which I also did on the second lap; 1st and 3rd, I had to run parts of the big rock up the back), but I'm bobbling in the singletrack. I keep on myself to keep pushing, it's not over until it over, but I'm running out of steam. Any minute I fear I'll be caught.

But it never comes. I make it to the final descent alone and cruise comfortably to second. I was beat by 59 seconds. Less than 15 seconds a lap. Is there anyway I could have pulled that time back? Probably not. But the gap is reassuring that I'm progressing. Third was over 3 minute behind me.

So I had packed my "Podium Shirt"; a clean Marble Design cycling jersey. But in the end, I excepted my medal and prize money wearing a thermal jersey because its cold in them there hills (and there was no paparazzi!).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Waiting

Dark damp, and dreary, waiting to race, or rather waiting to wait to race.

After battling a case of the creaks, tearing down my race bike of all it's fancy bits and swapping them to my spare bike, only to realize I had cured no creaking problem by doing so (I believed some saw wielding hack had ruined my bb threads and that was causing the creak); 1/2 hour into pre-riding w/ James the creak was back...and it was angry.

Fortunately, James had had recently suffered a case of the creaks, and found the remedy lied in the freehub. I overhauled mine, and it was creak free on the little test ride I gave it running up the closest steep hill I could find (The grassy slope behind Sedwick Middle School) a few times.

I'm not real happy with how my shock has been feeling lately either. I've been bottoming out a little more than I'd like, but if I add more pressure, I don't like how it feels, and it still bottoms out! I'm going to make one last adjustment to it, if it works, great if not, I can go back to how it was.

After the pre-ride, I couldn't get out of Winsted. Seems they were having some sort of May 16th parade. I ended up having to drive through Riverton to get home!

Not exactly how you want the run up to a race to go, but it is what it is. I just have to shut it off and get down to the business of riding my bike as fast as I can through the woods with some other geezers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wash it away

There have got to be a lot of blog posts like this one out there:
Crap week washed away by time on the bike.

After throwing un-godly sums of money at car and tooth repair this week, having pop-up problem after problem pop-up, including bike trouble, to be topped off with an altercation w/ the Volvo-Nazi, when I got home from work on Friday, the only words I could utter were "I'm going riding".

I love riding on muggy drizzly days (really), and especially love riding on Fridays. For some reason, perhaps others would rather be somewhere else on a Friday afternoon than riding their bikes (fools), the trails are usually empty.

As damp as the ride to the ride was, under the canopy of the trees, the trails were bone dry. Fast and fun, except for the famous res. mud pits due to poor trail design, and irresponsible users. I'll step down from my high horse for a second here, honestly the worst parts are the fireroads, and some of the wet spots are wet because of the primary function of the reservoir, it's a reservoir. It's designed to collect water. When you build a trail across a slope that leads to a reservoir it's bound to stay wet. The endless braids and trail widening does piss me off, but other than clearing deadfall, I'm not doing anything active to prevent it, so I guess I'm part of the problem.

Where was I, oh yeah, the cleansing...every pedal revolution....silent pedal revolution, my soul was scrubbed and scoured of all the drudgery of daily life, all the pitfalls and responsibilities that everyone must deal with disappeared. At least for the moment, all that mattered was the next pedal stroke, and what was in front of me.

Monday will be here soon enough, and all the crap that goes with it, but for now I still have two days of "bathing" in preparation for it.

On a pleasant side note, the carbon road cranks worked great. For clearance reasons I have to run a wide chainline, but they are silent, and I love the spinniness of the 170 mm length. I was sold on the added leverage of 175's (after riding 170's forever), but after last night, I'm re-thinking that.

Friday, May 1, 2009

That's just wrong!

Carbon road cranks on a Surly! Armageddon is coming!

My Raceface Turbines finally bit the dust, and The FSA's were what I had on hand so...

My bottom bracket bearings were click-click-clicking, and a good amount of play had wiggled into the spindle. I either replaced the bearings or put up with that noise, noise, noise, noise!

I hate bike noise.

When I yanked the cranks, it was obvious they would bottom out the next time I put them back on. Done.

The only cranks I had were these, or a alloy pair just like them, in a nod toward juxtapositioning, I chose the carbon.

After much more dicking around, searching for bolts, measuring chainline, staring at the mess that I call a work bench than one could possibly expect changing cranks could take, viola!

They might look out of place, and I can't use smaller than a 34t chainring, but if they work, and arn't costing me any new funds, then they're perfect...and quiet.