Friday, November 23, 2012

Saddle bags do not look pro

Let's face it, a lot of people ride around with giant saddlebags dangling off the back of their saddles.  Besides ruining the lines of the bike, it rubs against your legs, and it swings back an forth like a...well you know.  Seriously, it's an embarrassment.

Seriously, what are you doing?
If I see anyone riding around with a giant saddlebag, I am just going to assume they also have Trucknutz on their car.

Obviously, you've guessed that I don't like saddlebags.  However, since going full time on my 'Nago, one of the problems is that it only comes with 1 bottle cage mount.  Now, this looks totally pro, but forces me to carry my second bottle in my jersey's center pocket.  This isn't really an issue, but in the interest of weight distribution, I had to move stuff out of my pockets.

Thus, I recently stumbled upon a tidy and totally pro looking solution using an old nylon watch strap.  A double layer of electrical tape is wrapped around the folded tube's circumference to prevent damage from the saddle and seatpost.  This also means I always have 8 to 10 inches of electrical tape on hand, which is really useful.  The nozzle is threaded onto the CO2 cartridge until it just tightens but doesn't puncture.  It's then held in place by a small piece of electrical tape (see a pattern here?  I love this stuff). Finally, a small piece of electrical tape covers the open end of the nozzle to prevent road debris from getting in there.

So far it's proven really robust, with no movement even over rough roads.  Also the whole package is very narrow, so there's no rubbing during pedaling.  Nice.

Rad and pro.  Perfect combo.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Acciaio e Carbonio: Colnago Reborn

With the demise of the Ksyriums for the time being, and the Fuji taken apart (and sold), my need to tinker turned to the Colnago. The Fuji was my race bike, so I've decided to race the Colnago in the DC area crits next year instead. This meant shedding some grams, sharpening steering, improving the aerodynamics and most importantly, looking fantastic.  All these goals were accomplished by swapping to a threadless carbon fork and some full carbon deep aero wheels.

"Deep aero wheels and carbon fork on a vintage Colnago is crazy!" you might exclaim and you'd be right. But as my girlfriend will tell you, I've never let something like that stop me. The new wheels and fork have changed the demeanor of the bike in some very noticeable ways. It's not a night and day difference, the essence of the bike-the long haul grand tourer-is stil there, it doesn't constantly chomp at the bit to go to threshold the way the Fuji did. But just beneath the surface there is a darker, more sinister undercurrent to the ride that wasn't there before. I find myself jumping out of the saddle to shoot for the top of climbs that I would normally spin up. Maybe it's the wooshing of the carbon wheels, maybe it's the slightly muted stiffness of the carbon fork, or maybe it's the slightly more aggressive saddle/bar position. Who knows. If the old version was an Aston Martin DB9, the Colnago 2.0 is a DBS.

I'm also not going to pretend that I'm not a vain roadie (because I am). Looks are important, especially when the frame is vintage. I know that this bike isn't everyone's cup of tea but to my eye, the mix of old and new, steel and carbon, the naked frame with visible brazing and modern drivetrain is just sublime. It looks as at home whether I'm wearing Rapha and out for 200km of discovering new roads or in full team kit chasing prems at a local crit. Not too shabby for a frame that's older than me and was destined for the scrap heap.

A few more snapshots:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Unsinkable Ships...

...sometimes sink.  A nasty pothole on a rainy commute home put a big dent in the of my rear Ksyrium SL.  The wheel wasn't even out of true, and I made it the rest of the 10 miles home without any issues.


For now, I've moved the ROLs over to the Colnago, and the Ksyrium will go in for repair soon enough.  The Fuji is is disassembled down to just the frame, fork and bars awaiting a new parts group and wheelset (DA or Red, Zipp or Enve...yeah gonna be a dream bike build).

Cleaned up real nice-like
Artsy shot of the group for eBay.

In other news, my buddy Ryan over in Italy just bought himself a sweet rig, a Legend Fedala.  Handbuilt Marco Bertolleti steel, Rival/Force mix, Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels.  He says his search for Italian Steel was inspired by my Colnago. Right on.  Congrats, Ryan.  Go forth and crush miles, my son.

Al white, so Euro.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Turning 29, Eastern Shore, and DCCX

So I turned 29 a few days ago, and that was a revelation.  For me, it was a chance to reflect on the good  things in life, as well as the bumps in the road.  And the not so good things in my life really are just that: bumps.  Overall, can't complain about the way things are going.

I decided to gift myself with a long Saturday ride out in the Eastern Shores of Maryland, and man was it gorgeous.  I drove out to Tuckahoe State Park and rode out to Dover, DE and back, making a figure eight.  On the way out (W-E) I had a good tailwind and was flying.  The way home was into the wind and much, much slower.  The Colnago performed beautifully, and aside from a flat right at the turn around in Dover, it was a perfect ride.  The Strava of the ride is below.

Today, I drove out to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC to see my friend Erin Silliman race.  Erin's an old high school friend of mine who picked up cycling maybe 5 or 6 years ago, and in that time has rocketed to racing Cat-1 on both road and cyclocross.  Today, she raced hard and finished on the podium alongside (among other all-star women) Laura vah Gilder.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stick around to watch Erin's boyfriend Greg race.  Some pictures I took from today's race (sorry, all I had was my phone with me)

Erin on her way to the podium.  Greg is over there on the right in the blue shorts cheering her on.

No cross race is complete without some tutus

Nice wheels, E!

This is steeper than it looks.

Little downhill that some people got air on.

Lap/finish area.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rol Race SLR Initial Impressions

So yesterday was the first day I got to take the Rol Race SLRs out for a ride.  It was a shortish tempo ride with a double loop of the St. Stephens and Chesterfield punchers.

As I pedaled out from home, I realized something very quickly: my legs felt like crap and I knew it was going to be one of those hard days where you work like a dog but don't go very fast.  Nonetheless, I was very pleased with the stiffness of the Race SLRs.  They feel very solid, even more so than the Mavic Ksyrium SL's that are my go-to wheels.  They feel about the same accelerating as the Ksyriums, but hold speed better.  I also noticed that the bike picked up noticeably more speed coasting down hills (and I was coasting a lot because of my lead legs).

Still, when I got home and uploaded the ride to Strava, I was surprised by what I found.  An average of 19.4 mph is much higher than what my legs were telling me.  Moreover, several very high placings on the St. Stephens and underwood climbs and a 3rd overall on the Muur van Chesterfield segment, which features a 6.8% average but rises to 15% for the last little segment was enough evidence for me that these wheels work very well.  Certainly I'll need a bit more time on them to tell, but for the time being, I'm very satisfied.  I'm thinking I might try running the American Classic rear wheel once it's back from the shop with the Rol front wheel and see how that feels.

Anyway, here's the link to the ride.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just in: Rol Race SLR wheelset

Last week, the rear American Classic Carbon 58 on the Green Monster cracked a spoke nipple and is out of commission until I can get a new spoke and nipple from AC.  I've been looking for a lighter wheelset for a few months now, but didn't want to spend a fortune.  Based on several recommendations from friends, I decided to head over to Rol Wheels' website to take a look.  Hit the break for the deetz.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is awesome.

Casual cyclists ride into a fake mountaintop stage finish, complete with outrider motorcycle, directeur sportif in a chase car, rabid fans, trophy, and interview. No words. Can't breathe. Laughing too hard.

This is amazing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On the art of bicycle maintenance

The 4mm allen key is the most important tool any cyclist needs to own.  Next to, of course, the 5mm allen key.  It's amazing to me how much of a bike can be built with just those two tools.  Still, as I gradually improved my bike maintenance and building skills, other tools started filling my pegboard: bottom bracket wrenches, chain whips, cassette lockring adaptors, cable cutters and most recently a 32mm flat headset wrench for the King headset on the Colnago.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Old dog, new tricks

Took home the final sprint on an unexpectedly fast shop ride today, and got the KOM on the sprint segment and a couple of PRs.  And it was a crisp 70 degree day.  And the sun was perfect.  And the roads felt like glass.  And I didn't think I had the win, but I was riding the Colnago and so magically had one more kick left in the legs and it was just enough.

Old dog, new tricks.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Il Progetto Colnago è finito or how I learned that some bikes have a soul

Several months ago, I embarked on a project on building my dream bike.  This past weekend, I rode that bike in the Bay Country Century, and it performed flawlessly.  In the process of building my dream bike, I learned a lot about the (almost) lost art of boutique artisanal bicycle making using thin steel tubes, a little about the Italian regard for industry standards, but most importantly, I learned that some bikes--especially old Italian steel bikes made by a man from Cambiago named Ernesto--do have a soul.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bay Country Century Ride Recap

Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding the Bay Country Century just south of Annapolis, sponsored by the Annapolis Bike Racing Team and Parvilla bike shop.  The event is in its 17th year and judging by the number of people who participated and the smiles along the way, it is not stopping anytime soon.  Hit the break for the full report.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Il Progetto Colnago

I'm now the proud owner of an early 80's Columbus tubed Colnago Super frame.  I have big things lined up for this blue beauty: I could do the period correct Campy Record build, but that just seems so overdone.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for history, but those bikes, with their perfect re-sprayed paint and gleaming re-chromed bits and pieces just don't appeal to me. This bike is going to be something very special and very different.  It's worn and used, chipped and scarred.  I'm thinking thinking a rat-rod styled club racer.  The plan is to let the bike wear its scars by leaving the paint exactly as is (sealed under a coat of clearcoat, obviously), with a build kit as modern as it gets:

Chris King 1" threadless headset
Ritchey WCS carbon fork 1" with alloy steerer (for stiffness)
Ritchey WCS 4axis carbon wrap stem
Ritchey WCS carbon bars
Ritchey WCS carbon seatpost or Moots Cinch seatpost
SRAM Red (black) gruppo
Ksyrium SL wheels
Fizik Arione seat (white)
Continental GP 4-Season 700x28c tires
Arundel stainless bottle cages

Finish it off with matching white bar tape and cable housing.  That beautiful matching fork will be going on my wall.  Now I just need to crush some miles so my legs can do this bad boy justice on fast club rides (because it won't be nearly as stiff as the Fuji).  Projected completion date is Summer 2013.

Here's some pictures of the frame.  I'm so excited, I can't even describe it.  I'll keep you updated on the build as it comes together.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strava finally kind of works.

Strava embed is finally working. Here's my ride from last night. Down Ye Olde Erwin to Franklin, up Chapel Hill to UNC, then a loop through campus and back. It's a route that I can ride without thinking too much, so I call it "The Yoosh".

And I'm gonna call out Matthew Boote (KOM up Franklin St.), I'm coming for you.  I will crush you.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strava on Android is still dumb

I forgot my MotoActv at the significant other's house over the weekend.  Since she was out of town for a few days,  I fired up my smartphone for my ride yesterday.  Upon opening the Strava app, I noticed that it sported a fancy new look.  "Oh hooray," I thought, "they must have fixed the random crashing problem".  So after starting a new track, I set off on my normal Durham-Carrboro-Chapel Hill-Durham loop.

I checked the phone several times on the ride, and the phone was humming along swimmingly.  Feeling confident, I rode on.  When I got home, I realized the app had stopped recording five miles from home.  @$%!!$.  So I guess I'll be continuing to use Mytracks or MotoActv for the time being.  Also, for all those MotoActv users who are looking to convert their .csv tracks to Strava readable .tcx format, here's a fun little app I found.

Anyway, here's most of yesterday's ride.  Note that there's a small detour necessary on NC10 due to construction.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Taking my talents to the District and other assorted news.

Thesis: check.  Defense: check.  Doctoral Degree: Approved.  I've survived, and my career as a Ph.D. student has come to an end.  Next time I step into a classroom, it will most likely be to teach.  I'll be taking a job at the Naval Academy starting in July, first as a postdoc, and hopefully in a year or so as an Assistant Professor.  Therefore, I'm officially announcing my free agency to all cycling clubs in the DC area.

I'm looking to get into road racing seriously in the next year, look for me aboard the Fuji Team Pro, most likely decked out in full DA gruppo soon.  To that end, a couple of things are happening:

1.) I've started logging all my rides and runs on Strava.  I'd love to see how I stack up, so come try and take some of my KOMs.  Follow me here.  I'm doing this with my phone as well as with a MotoActv that just came in for review.  Look for the review soon.

2.) The Hammerhead 100x is going up for sale.  It's been a loyal and trusty race bike for two seasons, competing in two full XC and endurance seasons, as well as logging a Burn24 and a 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.  It's also been my full time trail bike.  The handling is telepathic, and the PUSH'd shock is as good as any modern day Fox RP23.  It's not a 29er, but with a skilled rider, it's deadly fast.  If you or anyone is interested, feel free to get a hold of me.  I'd prefer to sell local, but will ship to a serious buyer.

I'm looking to start posting regularly from here on out.  Things are gonna get shaken up, and I can't wait.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Zipp 404 Firecrest Clincher Review

Zipp's new 404 Firecrests mounted up and ready to roll.
Before I get to the review, I want to give a big shout out to Dave and Geoff at Durham Cycles for hooking me up with these wheels to test.  If you're in the Durham, NC area and you're in need of work done on your bike, parts/accessories, looking for a new bike, or just want to hang out and talk bikes, you'd be hard pressed to find a friendlier or more knowledgeable couple of guys.

Folks, first of all I apologize for the lack of updates.  Writing a PhD. dissertation is really starting to get in the way of riding bikes.  Today it hit 60 degrees, and I decided I had to put in a ride.  Thanks to the fine folks at Durham Cycles, I got to demo a pair of Zipp's new 404 Firecrest wheels wrapped in Vittoria Rubino Pros for about 50 miles today. According to Zipp, these are the new hotness in aero wheels, claimed weight of 1557g, the new blunt Firecrest shape, 58mm deep with the familiar dimples, a new heat resistant brake track, and yours for a mere (sit down for this one) $2700.  I won't bore you with the details, and just get right into answering the question: so how do these super-wheels ride?   Hit the break to find out.