Gauntlet Attempt, Part 2

By November 12, 2014 Uncategorized

Last weekend was motivating.

Not the crashing part, the feeling like I can catch and ride with guys part.  The part where I felt like I could be racing with guys, even if they were ungodly sketchy.

I’m still on the fence about trying the Master’s field as I can “age up” to it as my racing age for cross is another year older.  I never considered that as an option because I’m not formally 35, but that’s one of the side effects of Nationals being in January.

So here’s me over the weekend, before I hit the deck.  With some tweaks and the right mindset I’m hoping for a strong showing this week at Shedd Park.

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Analysis & Fiddling

By November 11, 2014 Uncategorized

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This past weekend’s racing campaign was a mixed bag.

The good was that I settled into a cross race and felt like I could actually dig in and be competitive, or at least in the mix.  That was at least until some asshat knocked me out of the race on Saturday.  At the top of the steep run up I got shoved off my bike as I was remounting and then fell down the embankment as my bike fell on top of me.  In the crash I smashed my knee and got pretty scraped up.  It was bad enough that after I got the bars straightened out and was rolling again that I was having a hard time pedaling and squarely in last place.

At one point I realized that if I wanted to get into the mix with these guys that I had to stand on it- so I did, and within half a lap I picked up a handful of places.  The power output is interesting in that it’s either on or off, and while my heart rate stays pretty high and the weighted average (removing zeros) is 266 watts there’s very little time spent at that intensity.  That’s something most cross racers know well, but adapting to that from a marathon racing mentality is difficult.

After the Dam Cross I was tired, but my legs were fine.  Like not in any way sore or worn out.  And my back was also fine.  It’s nice to not be in pain, but it makes me think I’m not getting the most out of my fitness.  My training has also been long distance and more steady state, so I’m looking at adapting my approach to better suit the task at hand.

They have single chainrings as well, so I’m looking at my 36 x 32 low gear and thinking that if I’m competitive when I stay in the big ring then maybe I should make the bike geared a little higher.  If it’s steep enough to need a 36 x 32- which nobody else is using- then it likely makes sense to be off the bike on foot rather than burying myself.

To that end I’m thinking about going with a single ring up front.  I’ve always liked that approach for the majority of race courses out there.  It feels slightly overgeared in warm up, but really I do my best when the course is hard like that, and I think I’m not pushing hard enough.  The pedaling is so hard when it is on that I think being in the right chainring and not worrying about that will be a benefit.  And having that chainring be massive enough to be dangerous but not so massive that I can’t turn it going uphill.

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I’ve been stockpiling drivetrain components so I have a Raceface 40t and 42t in the narrow-wide 110 bcd flavor sitting at home.  The big question is whether or not I’ll need one of these to make it all run.  Currently there’s a scuffed X0 type I derailleur handling shifting duties but as it doesn’t have a clutch I’m not sure it’s up to the task of keeping the chain on without a guide.

While the knee heals up I’ll hopefully get my tubulars built up this week.  I’ve completely botched my setup and have been jerking Jason around with what will now be my third set of rims.  With any luck they’ll be able to work with the hubs & spokes that I already have.

Objects of My Attention, American Metal Edition

By November 7, 2014 Uncategorized

So it would be sweet to have a Moots cross bike, but I don’t have one yet.  And honestly, I’m not sure exactly what I’d want for it either, option-wise.  Pretty sure I’m sticking with disc brakes, and would have to have a pump peg.   Through axles?  No idea.  Custom geo?  Maybe, depends how finicky I want to get and how firmly I grasp cross bike geometery.

On the Moots facebook page there are a number of sweet builds, and one guy has all three of these configurations below.

First up the is the base Cyclo X.  Looks sharp with the Enve fork, and I like the white bar/stem setup, as well as the white cables & black tape.

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I don’t know if this is the same bike or a different one, but it looks cool with the red headset and spacers, and I really like the Crossmax wheels on the cross bike.  Usually mountain bike wheels look dumb- you know, like mine do on my cross rig- but here I think they fit.

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And maybe he sold these to get the new RSL version, but this one’s also sweet.  Drilled for Di2 but with a single ring up front and a SRAM crankset.  It’s also presumably running Clement tubulars, and based on my experience setting up Carrie’s race wheels I have to admit they’re not only easy to work with but also durable and remarkably straight.  

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Hampsten is also one of my favorites, and I really like their 7-Eleven-inspired team paint scheme on this proper road frame.  They’ve shown it before on a track bike, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about those.  Here it looks great, and not too Christmas-y as you might expect from a red and green combination (photo courtesy of Hampsten’s facebook page).

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Also this week was SEMA, which for those not in the know is a major car show.  I don’t care too much about the usual industry fair, but Expedition Portal posted some amazing pictures of some cool truck & 4×4 related show builds.

It would appear that if you’re going with a big, American truck you want a Dodge, and if it’s older it should be a Power Wagon.

Like this one from the 40′s.

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Which features an awesome matched axe & shovel set.  I might need to make a matched set for Dan for his FJ.

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Or this Power Wagon from the early 80′s.

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Power Wagons are pretty awesome and it’s amazing that many of those built in the 40′s and are still rolling (I see two locally on a regular basis).  I’m not sure the new Dodge Diesel stuff is as cool or as durable, but there seems to be a market for them.

And of course, Toyotas.  Did you play Ivan Stewart’s Off Road in the arcade?  I sure did.

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There were also a number of highly modified Tundras, which is also pretty awesome.

This was one of the cooler and less ridiculous ones.  Who doesn’t have fond memories of Tonka trucks?

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So with the possible exception of the racing pickup everything in this post is American made metal.