With this morning’s loop, February kicked up a bit towards the end of the month.
343 riding miles with a 58 and a 63 Saturday loop, plus a soggy 48 to see the TOC riders cross the bridge.
Had one week feeling like utter crud - curiously enough following the CXSR race and the soggy 48 - so I was off the bike for the following week with not quite a cold, but coughing fits, sore throat and I think some fever.
Again, mostly fixed Quickbeam miles, though the Hilsen got in a bit of trail work. Four gym sessions. No specific running.
Tempted to punch my card at the Davis Bike Club 200K next Saturday.
JimG took the vid-cam in hand and logged some impressive footage of the Men’s B Race in Doyle Park up in Santa Rosa.
Many of which were referenced in the writeup.
They seem determined to award the Singlespeed division Golden Chainring to Paul P., even though their own notes on race day indicate otherwise. And, I do recall nicking him on the last lap.
It’s interesting to compare how course conditions degraded during the day. I was averaging 5:36/lap on the singlespeed, and then 7:18/lap in the geared, old-guys division. Of course, my conditions degraded pretty extensively, too. (And I haven’t checked their math, either.) (And I can’t figure out why our first lap, which was not a full circuit, took longer than our second lap, which was.) (Nor can I determine how the one guy who finished a couple ahead of me managed to turn in a 5:04 first lap, which was significantly faster than anything turned.) (And, of course, the whole idea of “Average Lap Time” is pretty skewed, as with the shorter first lap, that made everyone look a bit faster.)
Because I was not smart enough to get passed by the leader at the right time, it looks like I was last man on the course - rolled around through the mud for just shy of an hour.
That explains why I was having trouble with the whole time-space continuim thing after the race.
Video is almost ready. Did the final edit last night and now just deciding if music adds to the experience… Stay tuned!
This just made me laugh.
After meeting Paul P. up at the SRCX race last weekend, I dug through the archives and found a couple of mid-90’s catalogs (curiously enough from a company which used to exist in Santa Rosa). On this rainy Sunday AM, I was idly sipping coffee and scanning some images to add to the Paul Component Engineering group on Flickr, when I flipped to this item. Had totally forgot about these.
Chuckle, chuckle snort. I am such a child, sometimes…
This bit of the story continues from here.
After peeling my muddy, soaked gear off and slipping into something at least dry, I wandered out to find the gang. JimG had brought brownies, and between those and a quick slug of strong and hot coffee from the thermos, I continued to feel pretty warm and upbeat. The folks up in Santa Rosa put on a right fine and homey show. At one tent, bags of free pretzels were in attendance. Others had food, beer and coffee offerings. Fundraising raffles and the BikeMonkey magazine folks. An exuberant marching band (the Hubbub Club) arrived to regale us with tunes. A couple of beautiful weimaraners and a puppy or two hung out, wondering both about all the complex smells about and the sanity of their owners for bringing them along on a sloppy day.
It felt like I was surfing a bit of the post-race elation, but as the capillaries began to constrict again, the cold and damp seeped in a little bit. After a quick facilities check, it seemed to make sense to sit for a spell and see if there was any reason to think that racing again was a good idea. I regained the motor vehicle, wrapped some jackets over myself and sipped my way through the Clif electrolyte beverage. When mixing it that morning, I realized that I had bought a “Hot Apple Cider” which the instructions specifically said was to be made hot - the implication of a glowingly warm drink being a friendly recharge. Ignoring those instructions, I had made it with cold water - it isn’t like I had a large enough thermos to maintain another hot beverage anyway. Still, it was pretty good, and the chemical compounds seemed to do their thing.
Somewhere out on the other side of the front windshield, the women’s wave went off. A few of the fast folks I recognized from the BASP races moved out to the front, the thickening mud making progress iffy and soiling the pink-and-flowereed Sheila Moon racing kits that were in attendance. Singlespeeds, A’s and B’s were all out in a 45 minute race. Whoever was off the front moved through the conditions with an amazing momentum and fluidity. But, her dark jersey quickly became mud-sodden, so by the time she went by, I couldn’t pick out any logos (and as of right now, they still haven’t posted results on the Bikemonkey.net site).
By this point, I had maybe an hour and half until the Old Guy Geared race at 2:30. I had two thoughts on the subject. One, I didn’t feel totally torched by the first race, and in fact had felt a little better towards the end of it. Two, I have a pathological dislike for racing/riding for less time than it takes to get to the race/ride. At this point, I’d gone for about 15 minutes less than it took to get there (well, if you discount the warm-up riding).
Stepping back out into the day, I made my way down to the signup tent, and inquired what one had to do if one was so idiotic as to want to take the organizers up on the offer to engage in the free second race. Unfortunately, the Human Services Officer was down at the beer tent, heckling the women’s racers, so there was no one to engage in an intervention. Thus, the sign-up folks were all too happy to give me a second number, and transfer my information to the next start sheet. At the same time, I met a fellow who was also older and multi-geared. We chatted a bit, and I mentioned that I’d done the singlespeed race earlier. He said, “Oh man, I did that earlier this season. It was a great workout, but it hurt! “
Somewhere behind me, there was the of sound a large and heavy door swing shut on rusted ancient hinges, closing with a resonant echo that dissolved into eerie silence.
Since commitment to a stupid idea is often key, I decided to change back into a more cycling-oriented attire before completely losing my nerve. Luckily, I had a backup set of dry clothes, so there was not the chilling sensation of damp and muddy chamois contact. About this time, it struck me that the C. Xavier Hilsen was shod with my older, much more worn set of tires. If any course conditions cried for every bit of tire surface area and knibbly bite-ability, this was it. Conditions continued to degrade visibly as the other race laps continued.
This was during the women’s race -
Hemming and hawing a bit, time suddenly seemed much shorter, and the reappearance of JimG was highly fortuitous. He dove into the task of swapping my muddy front tire from the Quickbeam over to the Hilsen. Quicker than I could hand him levers and a pump, the newer tread was in place, and there was pretty much nothing left to do but race.
I pedaled around a little bit, found a Honey Stinger Gu-analog in my pocket and fired that down for whatever good it might do. Then lined up in the wave of guys who were old enough to know better. Putting my foot down as we waited for instructions, it seemed to set very deeply into the mud. There was no longer any grass left to speak of. When I picked my foot up for a second, the attached mud made it appreciably heavier. Of course, once you are out there with a number pinned to your side, you have pretty much traded away any opportunity to slink unnoticed back to the car.
An electric guitar version of the star-spangled banner played, and then the young pup B’s headed out. A minute or so later, we dug in and saddled up. Things felt a little clunky at the start, and it seemed as though my swapped-in-from-the-MB1 WTB saddle was a trifle too high. Beginner’s error, but no time to mess with it.
Actually. Honestly. The “beginner’s error” in this race was bothering to bring a bike with gears. For the next 45 minutes or so, there was no chance of spinning out the Quickbeam, and although the C. X. Hilsen would’ve gotten jealous, I think it secretly would have been very happy to stay in the back of the dry vehicle. Plus, there would have been a few less surfaces to pile on mud.
I suppose for the first 15 minutes or so, things didn’t really feel that bad. Slipped, slid and slogged a bit, to be sure, but nothing really horrible. Then I noticed that the mud seemed to be packing up a bit. Then a bit more. The bike began to get noticeably heavy. Then my body began to get noticeably heavy. The bicycle had an excuse, as it was adding mud that I couldn’t manage to shed through momentum, the odd bunny hop or simply dropping the bike hard after shouldering it. The race became a bit of a slog.
They say when you’re head is down, you’re in a bit of trouble. In the above photo, you’ll notice that if my head were any further down, it would start going up. I must point out though, in this small sized image of Gino’s photo, it appears as though my eyes are closed too. They weren’t. I mean, it wasn’t that bad.
The course continued to dish out its challenges. The intended directional input seemed to matter less and less with each lap. Each time down the creek dip brought with it new and interesting explorations of geometry. I think I manged to stay upright most of the times, but it wasn’t pretty and the tangential angle began earlier each time. The runups were, well…runups. In the singlespeed race, I’d managed to pedal up some of the time, but now the power had seeped out of my legs and it became a game of trying to ride the momentum to the moment of inertial loss, then hop off and try to find some angle of toe entry or foot splaying that would generate something resembling grip.
I think I cursed once. Well, I know I did. But, I did apologize.
However low optimism set in the west, somewhere through the mud-soaked haze I could hear Gino and JimG yelling. At some point, Gino ran alongside for a while (well, let’s be honest here - he trotted… Ok…he at least walked briskly…) barking encouragement and snapping a few photos. I don’t think I thanked him enough afterwards - it was actually quite helpful.
The short stair runup became a weird thing to fear each lap, but the tactile sensation became quite loathesome. As it was the one place to be shouldering the bike, I would grab the downtube. Each time, there was a thick, cold hunk of mud which would form into my glove, creating one of those weird, finger imprint shapes that was popular on golf club handles for a while.
The announcer took up some of the heckling as well, as I would generally go by with few, if any competitors around. At one point, I guess he figured out this was my second race, and offered the observation that it must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time. Only, he again mined that for all the humor it was worth.
Yep. Like I didn’t think of that, myself.
That, my friends, is one muddy bike. I guess it kinda gives away the fact that I didn’t use the big ring too much during the race. But, it was over.
We hung for a while watching the A’s go past. The rain which I’d prayed for during my race finally came. I used up 8 or 10 water bottles to try to knock off enough mud to load it onto the roof rack. JimG was kind enough to offer the use of the shower at his hotel room. Gino was resourceful enough to notice a stray hose outside the same hotel and I got to play euro-trash bike racer and hose everything off near the front entrance.
We rested a bit, and then headed up to Healdsburg, where aside from a tippy table dropping a pint or so of someone elsee’s beer onto my lap, it continued to be a great evening. Bear Republic serves a great root beer and ale, some darned fine polenta and one of the zippiest concoctions of garlic fries you are likely to come across.
The company was off-the-charts great, and it was wonderful to cross the streams - introducing the Bay Areans and Chico Hooligans forged friendships which should continue to grow in future rides and outings.
Rumor has it that we may all head to the next CX Nats up in Bend, Oregon in December. Word. (Um… do the kids still say that?)
As mentioned here a few times, the Chico Hooligans had planned an offensive to the south, and showed up in force minus one for the Last CX Race of Last Season, put on last Saturday (2/14/09) in Santa Rosa by the enterprising folks at BikeMonkey.net. I hadn’t toed the line or thought about time and place based racing since BASP #4 back in November. (Scheduling conflicts had prevented a full-season attendance, causing me to miss the race at Coyote Point.) But, as any cross-junkie will tell you, once you start thinking about barriers, run ups and lap cards, the twitch sets in and you’ve gotta get your fix.
The good stuff, y’know - the uncut, pure cyclocross fix - always has some weather mixed in.
Oh sure, we had a little residual mud down at the Candlestick Park race. But, for the most part, the most pressing question about the weather was where to toss your arm warmers before your race, so you could find them again afterwards.
It started raining mid-week or so. Big, heavy drops with serious intent. Our sump pump kicked on for the first time in months, it seemed. Then, it just kind of kept raining. And (for us) it was a relatively cold rain - snow levels were said to be below 2,000 feet. Though we probably wouldn’t see flurries, it would certainly be damp.
Chico Gino had come across a Vanilla Singlespeed CX bike through an incredibly serendipitous chain of events. So, he had entered in the B Singlespeed division. I decided that would be a fun way to spend the day, so on Friday night, I swapped, flipped and stripped the Quickbeam, and made it ready to race. The Hilsen was still in C. Xavier Hilsen mode, and since the second race was free, I brought it along just in case I was stupid enough to do the Geared, Old-Guys race.
On race day, my wife was feeling a little less-than-perfect, not buoyed by the possibility of either (A) standing in the rain watching us race or (B) sitting in the car trying to stay warm. Against her strong protestations, I made her sit this one out and headed north with a loaded car. Which should explain the dearth of photos for this event.
It rained most of the way to the Sonoma county border, then cleared to a low cloud cover, with some heavy dark clouds still threatening to the west. I got to turn off my wipers, but the steady hiss of tires on wet pavement continued to the race venue - Doyle Park in Santa Rosa. I’d never been to that particular park before, arrived at the wrong parking lot, corrected and pulled off a ridiculously fine bit of parking karma to snag a place facing the course. Exiting the vehicle, an orange and metal-fendered bicycle eased along at the edge of my vision. This turned out to be Claire, Gino’s wife, who had ridden over from the hotel and was tracking down the rest of the gang. They appeared quickly, and I met Paul P., Roy and Renée, who had previously existed only in photos by reputation. Gino was there, and kindly allowed me to fondle and parking lot ride the Vanilla, which was even lighter than I’d imagined and ridiculously nimble-feeling.
Back on the Quickbeam, I plodded around the course to find and deconstruct the tricky bits, figured conditions would degrade quickly once tires began removing the sod, and opted for trying to get my heart rate up on the paved roads around the park.
Before too long, we all lined up on the squishy wet grass and awaited the start. As B Singlespeeders, we were looking at a 30 minute race, and had to wait for the Men’s C wave to start before they released us. Someone had observed that the lawn had no idea what was about to happen to it.
Then we were racin’!
Gino hit the gas, his BMX-roots still vibrant and fertile. I slip-slopped a bit on the grass before beginning to thread my way through all manner of Junior B’s and C’s that started with us. They routed us on a “follow-the-concrete” parade lap to begin, and within a minute or two, we came upon a herd of brake-squealing, momentum-killing, oh-we-have-to-ride-this? folks in the C’s.
Now, I bear no animosity towards the C’s. And it wasn’t like a title or a jersey was on the line. And, to be blunt, it wasn’t like I was going to win or anything. And it isn’t like I haven’t hit the brakes at an inopportune moment and heard the gasp of exasperation from a faster rider who had been behind me. But, there were obviously four relatively tricky bits on the course, and I had at least made a plan on what I wanted to do.
Just to break with the race narrative briefly, here is some unsolicited advice to any new or novice cross (or mtb) riders -
Y’know that “perfect” line you rode during your practice lap? (You did ride a practice lap or two, right?) It will not exist for you. Sure, it’s nice to have a sense of where you’d like to be, but for the first lap or so, you need to realize that every other person in your group wants to ride the exact same slice of topography in pretty much the same way. This will lead to everyone in front of you hitting their brakes, and, in the most egregious circumstances, standing stock still astride their bikes until they get their chance to ride “their” line. Now, remember, the course exists from tape to tape, not just the smoothed line that you rode earlier. So, when you come across a tricky bit during the early parts of the race, assume two things: (A) someone will be stopped and standing right in the middle of where you planned on riding, and (B) someone will have fallen and will be lying directly in your exit line. In fact, it’s probably best to assume that you will need to get through the section by following The Worst Line Imaginable. Therefore, when you engage in your practice lap, see what alternatives you can find.
Oh, and during the race, it’s ok to pick your bike up and run past people who are just standing there. As long as you don’t hit them, hook bars with them or yell at them.
Dropped in, scrambled up, brought a tree with me, detached it and remounted. Then we were into the “intestine” section - multiple right/left switchbacks among trees with incredibly short straights between - a course feature which I really hate to encounter on a singlespeed, when you are among geared riders, as they are twiddling in too low of a gear and you end doing a fair amount of half-stroke, half-stroke, half-stroke then trackstand work. This was exacerbated by the quickly degrading surface of the grass, which began to turn into a chili-type mud beneath our tires.
We worked our way out of the intestines (?!), found the only serious straightaway which led across a couple of curbs and into a broader set of switchbacks in front of the announcer and the tents. To keep interest up, the announcer was openly heckling us, and seemed to be mining the “keep-both-hands-on-that-Vanilla!” vein at Gino to humorous effect. Another switchback in front of the crowd, two barriers (a little higher than most and built to what appeared to be Mil-Spec) and another switchback, and we were heading towards the creek.
Gino shot by the other way, a vision of momentum and grace. I fell in with another group picking its way to the creek area. Luckily this batch had a little better sense of purpose, and we brought some speed into the drop in, which curved left and immediately climbed back up.
Well, theoretically. I found myself on a slide-for-life on a tangent to my preferred route. Slid for a while on shoulder and hip toward the water, came to a stop, got untangled and scrambled up the muddy bank. Dropped in on the next dip, came upon a bottleneck as the narrow trail constricted to a narrower set of concrete stairs. This was thoughtfully covered in sand, and had a 3″ steel pipe as a handrail at hip height, so you bang against it to constrain any course deviation. The sand, as it turned out, was a feature for the next ten or fifteen yards or so, bringing one of the endearing features of Dutch cyclocross to our fair lands.
We arched around the playground, found the sand once more and then bumped up a curb and down off some concrete edge to the creek again, looped around and came up. At this point, I realized my bars had been tweaked by the unscheduled landing, so I hopped off and twisted them back. The Quickbeam began to wonder just what it had done to deserve this kind of treatment. Back on again, we hit brief pavement, then headed to the fourth creek dip, which had been the first tricky bit on the first lap.
From here on, it was back to the maddeningly-slow-intestine-bit, followed by the why-don’t-I-have-any-power straight section, then the yeah-just-keep-heckling-monkey-boy bit, the sloppy running-the-barriers-is-supremely-uncomfortable
-but-for-some-reason-it-feels-better-than-pushing-pedals part, before repeating the creek dips. After the first lap or two, I was feeling pretty crappy. The mud was thickening and momentum was fleeting.
Then it started raining. Which you might think was a bad thing. But, you’d be wrong.
First, I’m one of those people that actually enjoys riding in the rain. Second, it made things wet rather than just gloopy, and the mud stopped sticking. In fact, it was downright refreshing.
As further support for the Kent Peterson mantra “Keep pedaling, it will get better”, I did. It did. And I commenced to start catching people. There was a Legolas guy out there, and I nicked by Paul (though I had to resort to making clanky derailleur sounds to fake him out), and some other folks. I did have to wonder how much some of those full suspension mountain bikes were starting to weigh by the last couple laps.
The singlespeed force is strong in this one…
I spent a little time trying to knock the big chunks of muck off the Quickbeam, then sat for a spell. I don’t know if it was the new-to-me Clif electrolyte drink that I quaffed, or just the exuberance of escaping from a shorter race with fingers, toes and teeth attached, but, while the more sensible folks were donning warmer clothing and enjoying the ambience…
… an altogether much less clever idea was forming in my brain.
This story continues here…..
And we’re ready as we’re gonna be for tomorrow’s little cross shindig up in Santa Rosa. I let Gino talk me into doing the B-Singlespeed. Short race, but fast youngsters. If I don’t decide to play lame afterwards, the second race is free, so maybe I’ll get the Hilsen muddy, too. Depends how nasty things are out there after showers all week.
And, of course, how nasty I feel…
Update 3/4 - Now links to site rather than playing. Click above to see the video.
My bar tape finishing habits have been bothering me for some time. They began back in my Cinelli cork splash days (oh, come one… we all did it at least once…) when the “Cinelli-Cinelli-Cinelli…” finish wrap tape snapped (again!) just as I applied what should have been an appropriate amount of pressure. The electrician’s tape roll hung on a nail by the shared workbench, and I’d watched my sensei use it quickly and efficiently numerous times, while he would silently shake his head as I snapped my way through the stuff that came in the box. Since the final breakage of the C-tape meant it no longer even made one complete orbit of the bars, I reached for large black roll.
It worked quite quickly, and you could put a boatload of pressure on it. The resulting snap-back of the tape tightened things up even further. From that day forward, it was three and a half wraps of black electrician’s tape. No more tape popping and unravelling from the stem area.
More recently, it just started to seem cheap and tawdry. I’d notice the way it would catch the light and look wrinkled and scrunched. I’d see the adhesive residue creeping out from underneath, and spend more time cleaning up the bars to remove the gunk.
Recently, as the white bar wrap on the Quickbeam became increasingly dishwater grey, I felt it was time to move on. Back when the Hilsen arrived, Mark at Rivendell had finished off the cork wrap with an exceptional twining job:
In the year or so since I’ve had that bike, I’ve realized that you spend a fair amount of time with that general area in your field of vision. The care put into the twined and shellacked wrap tended to bring about a smile.
Honestly, I’ve been shying away from the whole shellac thing. Twining the bar tape seemed a bit like a simple gateway drug. Adding shellac just seemed to change people. It seemed that fine and normal folks would start there, then start wrapping and shellacking all manner of things. Which, in and of itself is fine. But, where do you draw the line? Clearly, I needed some boundries. Or, at least a safe word. Maybe a lacquer-buddy… My wife was starting to work with oil paints again, so we volunteered to watch out for each other.
The twine turned out to be the easy part (although RBW just mentioned that their source may discontinue the product). I just put it on the same order that brought a new chainring recently. Me and 385 feet of hemp twine, hanging out. Cool.
But shellac? Not so simple. Seemed like it should be easy enough to pick up at the chain hardware store near work. Well, only if I wanted a gallon. Or an aerosol spray can.
Nope. I figured that there could be little more dangerous than me armed with propellant-powered shallac. I recently recaulked the tub, using one of those clicky-gun-things. It was ugly. I mean, did you know that you had to pierce another seal after you clipped the tip off of the caulk module?
Local hardware store? No. Another local hardware store? They kept steering me over to the varnish display, and asking rather pointedly why varnish wouldn’t work better, especially since it came in a wide variety of colors and finishes. I think they knew about the hemp. Struck out at the big craft store, a model & hobby shop and Sears. I’d actually peeled the bars over the weekend, and was riding around with gloves and near-naked bars for these errands. It began to recall the recent theme of “Quest for Salmon Canti Kool-Stop Pads“…
Finally, I thought to hit up Marin Color Service - a contractor-oriented paint retailer who always seemed to have lots of cans of stuff on the shelves. A phone call confirmed they had it - both clear and amber - in sizes as small as a half pint.
Turns out they lied, of course. But not badly. I honestly hadn’t expected the clerk to wander out onto the floor the check that they had the smaller sizes, especially since they claimed to stock it, which at least meant they could probably order it. His answer had been so decisive that I hadn’t confirmed that they actually had clear in the little can. So, I had no one to blame but myself upon finding myself staring at a gallon of clear, and many varieties of the amber.
My plan had not been to start with the hard stuff. A clear sheen on some twine might mean wax or some sealant, but not necessarily shellac. The rich roasted color of the amber was a definite sign that I was using, similar to the Mentats. There was no turning back. They also gave me a free paint can opener.
Despite knocking the twine ball off its perch, chasing it across the floor and then figuring I had plenty of twine already pulled out only to find myself two wraps short (not enough tag end to do the nifty whip finish), things came together pretty well. I could put the kind of pressure on the turns that I’d only dreamed of with tape. The whip finish worked perfectly. The twine wraps were not specifically symmetrical, but close enough not to be offensive, while being different enough to be interesting.
Because it was Saturday, the weather silly-gorgeous and definitely time to ride, I neglected the shellac step before heading out onto the roads. But, last night, I broke out the cheap brush, spread a little paper and put a couple coats on the wrap. Here it is in this morning’s light:
In fact, it got me excited enough that I decided to re-coat Mark’s original twining job on the Hilsen. Since the working theory is that the C. Xavier Hilsen will be out on the course this coming weekend, I wanted it to look its best.
As I considered the bar tape, the fraying at the corners of the ramps worried me a bit. Once that works through, the unravelling begins. Granted, next on the work manifest was the stem replacement on the Hilsen, but in the meantime, I didn’t want to be trailing bar tape. And the shellac was open. And the brush was already dirty. And I knew it would help seal things a bit to resist the wear. And once I started, it looked pretty cool…
Um.. ok.. It may be time for an intervention. Maybe it’s something in the laquer. Once you get that brush in your hand, it’s really, really hard to stop. Let this be a lesson to you all.
Pity that the 12th is a Thursday. Most likely, work demands and class will prevent my attendance. But, for the lucky folks who can attend -
May the weather be temperate, such that your lamps are not blown out!
276 (estimated), with a couple of 50+ Sunday loops.
Nothing spectacular, but mostly fixed Quickbeam miles on the commute. A couple of drop into the gym sessions, but no specific running.
There’s a last Cross race up in Santa Rosa on the 14th. Haven’t tried a dismount at race speed in a while, so I need to make sure my calf is up for that. Very tempting to try, as the hooligans from Chico are planning to attend. The SFR 300K is on the 21st, and I think pretty much off the menu for this month. The Santa Rosa Cycling Club 200K is scheduled for the 28th and a possibility. The week following that is the Davis Bike Club 200K. Mostly midweek/evening classes this month, so optimism is high.
Had heavy-duty classes on Friday and Saturday, plus a last-minute houseguest starting Thursday, in addition to regular work stuff. So, when the friend headed off to the airport on midday Sunday, my working plan had been a leisurly ride, enjoying the silly-warm weather and comparative lack of traffic. Something about a sports event causing the latter. I was suprised that so many people were going to stay in and watch the Cyclocross Worlds, but maybe there’s hope for us afterall.
But, I could tell Saturday night that the week had taken its toll a bit. Wasn’t exactly fighting something, but my voice was off and head a little loopy. When I reevaluated things on Sunday - or more precisely, when I asked myself whether I wanted to ride and didn’t bounce around the house like a dog who sees the leash get taken down - it just made sense to underdo things a bit. Another Anti-Costanza workout.
And there was some real pressure to knuckle down and clean up the bikes. Or, at least one bike. As I’ve mentioned before, my “workspace” is basically in the art room, so if it involves cleaning, degreasing and other nasty byproducts, it’s banished out back. With the weather we’ve been having (or more appropriately, “not having”) this winter, it’s been tough to trade away a ride for some scrubbing. In fact, I ‘d rather don the raingear and boots and do the cleaning in the rain.
But, the “to-do” list on the Quickbeam had grown to a lengthy list - nasty-noisy drivetrain, road gunk, the dirty-dishwater-won’t-clean-up anymore bar tap, a
little hop in both the front and back wheels, dry pedal bearings, dry
spots on the saddle, a little “tick” sound out of the headset every once in a while, that embarrassing rear-brake squeal. Oh sure, it still looked good in the sun, but wasn’t ready for its close-up.
I actually had been trying to do this for a while, as the brake pad issue was reasonably egregious. For some reason, it had been very important to replace the OEM Shimano pads with some Kool Stop Salmon compound. Even the half and half would’ve been OK. The first set was easy enough to find - a little pop into A Bicycle Odyssey after class. But, they’d only had one set, and since new canti pad installation is a dish best served in four courses, I needed another set. Should’ve put more weight on the suprise of the staff that they’d had it.
Five other shops had only the standard compound. Another had no smooth post canti pads at all. Another stop in the Sausalito shop brought news that the next shipment had not arrived. Luckily, they took the extra retail step, checked an upcoming order and confirmed that they were coming.
In the meantime, I exfoliated enough of the trail grit and lube goop from the chainring to see that things were ugly. One of the curses of a simple drivetrain is that you don’t really assume things are wearing like they do on many-geared setups. So, you don’t flip the chainring. And, I’ve been running the same chainring since February of 2006, when the Quickbeam arrived. As mentioned above, it had developed a grindy sound that was not really part of my singlespeed asthetic.
The drivetrain kept catching my eye as well. On the “Fixed Up” ride a few weeks earlier, the position of the rear wheel seemed rather far aft. It seemed that a stretched chain and ground down ring might have that effect.
Parts accumulated with a small package of bits from Rivendell, another trip to the shop, and a bit of rooting around the parts pile (actually down to my last 8 speed chain). The warm Sunday afternoon tipped the cow… wait. Is that a phrase?
First step was a quick eval - with the gearing set in the 40/14 fixed mode, the effective chainstay length was 45.7 cm’s. The chain measured - I kid you not - 12 1/4″ for 24 links. The 40T chainring looked like breakers at the beach.
Got drivetrain noise?
Things mostly chugged right along - everything got scrubbed and no anomolies appeared, new chainring setup easily, pads went on quickly, a little adhesive residue from the bar tape. The only thing that didn’t get addressed was that I couldn’t budge the freewheel so I’ll have to use a big bench vise at some point. When things went back together, the chainstay measurement came in at 44.9 cm’s. (Insert Roger Rabbit-y rubbery headshake sproing noise here.) Yeah, almost a centimeter is a change.
It got me wondering about dropping another link out of the chain. It might be interesting to experiment with a slightly shorter wheelbase. Of course I need to make sure that the 18T freewheel setup wouldn’t bottom out (or, technically “front” out) on the fork end. Food for thought. Project for another day.
Got things mostly wrapped up and stowed in time to shower and zip out to see “Slumdog Millionaire”. Which is brilliant.
The Quickbeam is much happier now. And ready for its close-up…