Wednesday, March 30, 2011

These guys are badasses

Even though I ride both mountain and road, it's no secret that I consider mountain biking a tougher and more arduous discipline.  Having said that, these guys are (A) completely out of their minds and (B) totally badass for riding in wind that I wouldn't even leave my house to go driving in.


Waiting out a rainy day here in the Dirty-D.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Ride 3-27-2011: Silence is Golden.

I didn't want to ride this Saturday.  In fact, if it wasn't for the newly installed fork (more below) on the Hammer, I doubt I would have made it out my door. I got up late, didn't eat right, felt dehydrated and tired, and my legs really didn't have a ride left in them after Friday night's tough training ride. But the new fork needed to be sorted out and dialed in, so I packed up the gear and the Hammer and headed out for Crabtree.

I decided to ride without a Camelbak, something I've been doing more and more lately for shorter rides.  I stuffed my jersey pockets with a spare tube, a CO2 cartridge, a energy gel pack, and a multitool.  It was a cold day, so I wore a light jacket.  I still felt a little tired, but was surprised at how good my legs felt.  Most of the early climbs were done in a low gear and high cadence.  I stopped a couple of times to tweak settings on the fork but it actually came pretty dialed in straight out of the box.

I should mention that lately the Hammer's been making a creaking sound that has been driving me crazy.  I checked every thing I could think of: bottom bracket, headset, stem and bar mounts, seatpost clamp, etc.  None of it helped.  It got so annoying that it almost made me not want to ride the Hammer.  It was during a short stop to adjust the lockout threshold that I decided, for no reason, to wiggle the rear triangle and--voila--the supporting strut for the seat stays creaked a little.  I quickly traced the noise to a loose bolt in suspension.  A quick turn with the multitool and suddenly...silence.

It's amazing how quickly your mood can change based on little things.  With the Hammer running smooth and quiet for the first time in months and the fork dialed in, I didn't want to stop riding.  Coming off the powerline, I swung onto loop 5 at Crabtree, a fast, flowing ribbon of singletrack that snakes along the edge of Lake Crabtree and characterized by one big climb.  My normal time around this loop is 9:45, but with my new found energy, I made it around in 9:37 and felt great.  So I did it again: 9:30.  The third time around the loop, I managed a 9:27.  This went on for another hour, I set PRs at most of the climbs around Crabtree.  After about 20 miles, my legs were getting tired and I was already late for dinner with a friend, so I packed it in and headed home.  Considering this was a ride that almost didn't happen, I'd count it as a success.

Oh, and the fork.  It's a Fox F100 RLC.  All I really need to say about it is that it's a Fox fork.  Buttery smooth, quiet, stiff, with excellent adjustment.  It also looks a whole lot nicer than the old gray Fox F100 RL I had on the bike.  The fork seems to help front wheel traction too.  I had more confidence leaning the bike into turns and craving through bumpy corners.  I attribute this to being able to tune the slow speed compression on the RLC model.  For those of you wondering if the low speed compression adjustment (the "C" in RLC) is worth the extra $200, the answer is unequivocally yes.  You can actually set the fork up at a platform to match the platform rear shock.  The only bad thing I can say about it is that it still creaks occasionally, especially under heavy braking, but it's so rare that it really doesn't bother me. If you can afford it, there really isn't a better race fork than this.

I'll see you on the trails.

- E

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bike Profile: Fuji Team Pro

I guess I could start off this review like every other review of high end carbon bikes: this bike is laterally stiff but vertically compliant.  It climbs like a [insert analogous object known for climbing abilities], descends like a [insert analogous object known for descending], has quick handling like a [mongoose?], but is stable through corners like a [not a mongoose].  But Bikesnob already beat me to that joke.

So I guess I'll start off by saying that this bike fits me like a glove.  And because of that, it is, by far, the most comfortable, fastest, best climbing, best handling road bike I've ever ridden.

It's specced out with an Ultegra 10-speed gruppo and  Cosmic Carbone SL wheels, and Continental GP4000 tires (amazing by the way).  Eventually, I might go to ceramic bearings, just so I can have the ability to smugly declare I run ceramic bearings.  Last time I weighed it, with cages and empty water bottles it came to 17 pounds.

The truth is, this bike's abilities far exceed my own.  I'm 6'2" 220 pounds, so I'm not a small guy, but when I stomp on the pedals, this bike doesn't even flinch.  But it doesn't really launch like it's fired out of a gun either, it's just a smooth surge of power with each pedal stroke.  I wouldn't call it a pure sprinter's bike, it's too long and the headtube is a little too tall.  It's not a pure climber either, it's too beefy.  It's basically a perfect bike for someone who likes to log long fast rides year round.

Fuji made a lot of decisions that cater to the enthusiast rider with this bike.  External cable routing is less sexy than internal, but makes changing cables a breeze, machined aluminum dropouts mean you're not worried about over tightening when transporting the bike or swapping wheels, 27.2 seatpost combined with a full carbon fork and slightly taller headtube means hour six still feels bearable.  And I have to admit, I'm a sucker for the classic horizontal top tube.

Complaints?  There's a few but they're small.  For one, the frame doesn't drain.  At all.  Seriously Fuji?  A couple of drain holes in the bottom bracket is too much to ask?  Also, one of the water bottle cage bolts snapped inside the frame, so I've had to resort to using a zip tie.  It works fine but speccing some bolts made out of something other than paper would be nice.

So far, I've logged about 2000 miles on the bike since purchasing it last May, and it's been flawless.  Can't wait to rack up some more miles this summer.

- E

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Welcome to The Nerdy Cyclist!

Hi and welcome to The Nerdy Cyclist. For better or for worse, I'll be dispensing my thoughts on bike culture, bike parts, bike racing, bike riding, and bike riders. I hope you guys stick around, it should be fun!