My Rides

Monday, April 25, 2011

S.U.B. (Sport Utility Bike) - Build, Part 3

  • Installed Headset Spacers (9 x 10 mm, Origin8 Silver from $6.20)
  • Installed Front Disc (Avid BB7, $45.99 from Jenson USA)
  • Installed Downtube Shifters (Rivendell Silver Shifters, $42, from Velo-Orange)
  • Installed Pedals (Crankbrothers Mallet C, moved from other bike)
  • Installed Brake & Derailleur Cables (Novara / REI, silver housing @ $1 / ft, teflon cable, $6 each)
  • Installed Rear Wheel & Tire (from other bike)
First:  I love the look of the bike with the downtube shifters.  It keeps the bars, and the whole bike very clean.  There's only about 12" of derailleur cable housing on the whole bike.  The front derailleur will be only cable.  The 12" is used for the loop between the chain-stay and rear derailleur. 

It's been over 10 years since I used friction shifters, and probably 15-20 since I used downtube shifters (on a bike my dad had).  The Rivendell Silver Shifters are just so nice and simple.  I wasn't sure using them would seem as natural as the trigger shifters I've become used to.  Well, it was a piece of cake.  Just reach down, shift, and then feather a little as you pedal.  I definitely feel I prefer the trigger shifters for true mountain bike riding, where you need to shift quickly & precisely, but for a utility bike, these are very nice.

On the first couple of rides around the yard (chasing kids), and around the neighborhood (at a casual place) I feel like I want the chain-line to move inboard a bit.  Right now, the middle ring on the front lines up with the middle ring on the back (which probably makes sense if all gears would be used equally).  I expect to rarely be in the large ring (furthest outboard) up front, and expect to be in the 5 larger (further inboard) gears in the back. 

ISIS spindle bottom brackets seem to come in 3 standard axle/spindle lengths - 108 mm, 113 mm, 118 mm.  I have the 113 mm.  If I switch to the 108 mm I'll move the chain-line inboard 2.5 mm, or about 57% of a gear (gear spacing on 9-speed cluster is 4.34 mm). 

Overall, it rides nice.  I'm happy with the fit & comfort (so far).  The frame size is right.  I like the handlebar height (yes, I'm keeping all of those spacers).  It's definitely a more rigid ride - I need to get a bigger / softer rear tire.  I'd like to be able to fit a Schwalbe Big Apple 29x2.0, but I'm not sure that it will fit.  I have the 28x2.35 on the front and love the "suspension" that the "balloon tire" gives.

The rear tire on there is a "37mm", and it measures 1-5/8" wide, with about 3/8" clearance each side, and about 5/8" in the front, and over 1" on top.  That seems to indicate that I'll have 3/16" on each side, but I don't know about the front - maybe I'll try to find a shop who has a 29x2.0 tire on a wheel I can try to fit...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

S.U.B. (Sport Utility Bike) - Paint Ideas

I know I said I was leaning toward powder blue.  Since I ended up with a new frame, in an OK color, I started thinking about just painting the fork, or painting the fork and adding some accents to the frame.  Here's idea #1 (compared to current colors).  I think brown pinstripes on the head-tube and fork would be cool, and painting the cranks the same cream would be cool.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

S.U.B. (Sport Utility Bike) - Build, Part 2

Progress this weekend includes:
  • Install bottom-bracket (Nashbar ISIS 113mm, $28)
  • Install crankset (Nashbar Mountain 44/32/22t, $35)
  • Install rear Derailleur (Nashbar Mountain, $3)
  • Install front Derailleur (Nashbar Road, $17)
  • Build front wheel & install
    • Mavic A119 32H Rim (Universal Cycles, $27)
    • Shimano XT 32H Hub (Universal Cycles, $44)
    • Wheelsmith double-butted spokes (Universal Cycles, $16)
    • Wheelsmith spoke nipples (Universal Cycles, $3.20)
    • Schwalbe Big Apple (29x2.35, had it in the garage - what a monster, eh?)
  • Strip paint from spare Cannondale brake lever & install (free-ish)

Most of this was pretty straight forward.  The bottom bracket went in smoothly with some Phil Wood waterproof grease.
Phil Wood 3-Ounce Grease Tube
The crankset took a little more work requiring banging with a mallet - one side of the BB spindle rested on a piece of 2x4.  After banging it on, and tightening completely, I then removed it with a crank-puller, cleaned it out completely (there were some shavings), re-greased and reinstalled.  The re-installation only required a tap to get the bolts to engage threads.  

As mentioned in the previous post I'm trying to build with silver-ish parts where I can.  The lever was originally painted black.  I inherited a grinding wheel with a box of attachments (including wire brushes, and polishing wheels) from my Grandfather, so I set out to see what I could accomplish.  This is brushed, but not polished.  It's a mountain lever, so it's I.D. was originally around 22.2 mm.  With a spindle sander I opened it up enough to fit my 23.8 mm bars.  Originally I had planned bar-end shifters.
Shimano SL-BS77 Dura Ace Double/Triple Bar End Shifters (9-Speed)

Since the frame has down-tube shifter mounts, I plan to get a reverse lever to install in the bar-end, sometime down the road.  This will look cleaner, and let me hide the brake wire under the bar tape.
Tektro RX 4.1 Reverse Brake Levers, 164 grams, Silver

Thursday, April 14, 2011

S.U.B. (Sport Utility Bike) - Build, Part 1

Finally getting around to building up the bike mentioned last month.  I ended up changing direction on the frame.  After I bought the Dolan frame I came across an aluminum touring frame at Nashbar that sounded more ideal for my utility goals.
  •  It has longer chain stays so your heals don't hit rear pannier bags (which I use when commuting).  
  • There's room for larger tires.
  • This frame also let me use cheaper threadless headset.  The Dolan frame requires a more expensive integrated headset.
  • There are lots of integrated mounts for fenders, racks, water bottles, etc.
  • Since I was ordering new, I had more choices for the size.  The Dolan frame is 63cm on the seat tube - making the stand-over really "tight" - fine for a serious riding bike, but less utilitarian.
  • The above amount to good excuses to make the Dolan frame into a dedicated road/cross/training bike.  
  • It's so cheap!  ($99, free shipping)
I started assembly today by installing the headset and mocking up the frame & fork.  My criteria for choosing a headset were:
  1. Not black (chrome, aluminum, etc.)
  2. Cheap ($21)
I ended up with FSA's "The Pig" from Universal Cycles.

For the fork, I wanted a simple, cheap disc fork with clearance for 29er tires (so I could ride a big front tire for some cushion).  I love my 203mm Avid BB7 mechanical disk brake on my Cannondale, so my plan for this bike to run one of those on the front (no rear brake).

I want this bike to be comfortable.  My Cannondale (with more upright stem installed) puts the handlebars at 28" above the axle with no sag (shock) - this height felt perfect in my 2 hour training rides (where I'd pump the shock up for about 1/2" of sag).  I did my fork shopping with the Dolan frame, which has a huge 9" head-tube, and chose a Dimension fork from Universal cycles that meets my criteria (simple, cheap $65, and short 410mm axle-to-crown).  The smaller Nashbar frame has a much shorter head tube (5.7") so I'll need some headset spacers to reach my "comfort" height.  I feel reaching the needed height with a taller steerer is better than longer fork legs - less twist & flex (I may be wrong).  The pic below shows the front end mocked up with the stem at the top of the steerer, putting the handlebars at just under 28".

I rested the fork on a 2x4 on end, and hammered on the crown race (the lower bearing race which is press-fit onto the fork crown) with a rubber mallet.  The lower cup went in easily - I hammered it in with a short piece of 2x4.  The upper cup was more difficult.  Either the frame or the headset was a little rough on the I.D. or O.D., so I lightly filed each, until installation with my redneck tool went smoothly.

Rounding out build day 1, were another beautiful Brooks B17 (got this one 17% off on Nashbar's St. Patrick's day sale for $75) on a Nashbar seat post (<$21, same sale).  The handle-bars are simple bullhorn bars from Universal Cycles ($23), and the stem is a beautiful polished aluminum piece (26mm clamp, 70mm length, 6 deg. rise) from Velo-Orange (handle-bar and stem criteria were same as headset - not black, and cheap).

Here's the mock-up, so far:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Barry-Roubaix 2011: My First Race

We made the drive from Detroit area to the Middleville area Friday evening before the race.  On the way to pick up my race packet (number plate, instructions, etc.) I detoured us on some of the roads the race would use, early the next morning.  Remote and hilly!  I drove what would be the last nine miles of the race - from the aid station at Hull & Goodwill Roads to Yankee Springs Road.  Two of those last nine miles were on gravel and seven on paved roads - including one of the 2 bigger climbs of the race - and 5 miles of downhill to the finish.  I started to get really excited.
The next morning I arrived as planned (before 9AM), and set about to put my bike together, get suited up, and ride a little warm-up - I notice while training that it takes about 20-30 min of spinning to clear the snot out, and get my cadence up to 90-100 RPM (without thinking).  So, I set off to circle a back corner of the parking lot, and was soon joined by a bunch of more experienced looking folks doing the same (good call, I guess).  

At this point, it's about 18 degrees.  I'm wearing, starting from the toes:
  • Ankle height socks
  • Shoes, with neoprene toe covers
  • Leg warmers
  • Bib shorts
  • Heart-rate monitor (calorie counter)
  • Insulated base-layer (lycra outer)
  • Save a Horse, Ride a Ton-Ton Jersey
  • Cycling Windbreaker
  • Gloves
  • Marmot skull cap
  • Helmet
After warming up, I actually felt a little hot, but was sure I'd get colder at a race pace...  Strapped to the bike are:
  • (2) 24 oz. bottles of room-temp Gatorade (refrig. temp Gatorade turned to slush in my last training ride)
  • (2) GU Roctane Energy Gels (taped to top tube)
  • (1) Spare tube
  • (2) Tire levers
  • (1) Folding allen wrench set
I've got my Tomac Small Block 8's pumped to 60 psi (back) and 45 psi (front).

Then I made my way to the starting line, with a stop at the outhouse (good, it is possible to pee wearing bibs).  I was a bit nervous.  I'd never lined up for a race before, and there wasn't much in the instructions about doing so - I trusted it would be self-explanatory.  Sure enough they held up signs on long sticks.  First the 65 mile "elite" starting group.  Then someone with a sign for the 35 miler's walked back until the last 65 miler, and the 35 milers formed up, then the 23 milers - piece of cake.  

I first found myself in the first 1/3 of the 23 milers - everyone around me was on something made from carbon, wearing very serious clothing, and looking very fit and experienced.  I slid back to the last 1/3 of that group, near a guy with a mohawk glued to his helmet, and 2 first timers from Windsor.  This was my sort of crowd.

Then groups started rolling out.  I should mention the cool timing (which is probably only cool to me, but, again this is my first race).  We have number "plates" (thin cardboard) with a RFID tag on the back, and the start gate has a reader - as you roll through it "beeps" and the clock is started.  So, we rolled through, and were away.

My goal was to finish with the median 23 milers.  Last year that was a time around 1 hour, 45 minutes, or an average speed of about 13 mph.  On level ground I'd need to do about 15-16 mph, and take every advantage my weight affords on the downhills, to average 13 mph overall.  I've heard about beginners setting out too fast, and blowing up, but I knew my pace and my section of the field wasn't doing it.

So, I started passing people.  Kept my eyes on my cadence and heart-rate and just kept going at the pace I'd trained at.  I never wanted to look at my average speed, elapsed time, or distance - just wanted to know my cadence, current speed, and how many calories I was burning.

It was all pretty much a blur until the infamous Sager Road.  At about 4.5 mile into the race we turned onto this mile of hilly, rocky 2-track.  It's up and down the whole way, with a net elevation gain of about 100 feet.  A lot of those fit guys on cyclocross bikes didn't have the gearing and/or tires for it, so I passed a lot of them.  There were water bottles lying every couple hundred feet, and I pointed a broken chain out to one guy.  There were crashes, and lots of passing back and forth.  I would end up being passed in granny gears on the short climbs, and then re-pass on the descents.  There was an older couple on a tandem that just went up the hills like a diesel...

Then we turned South for a couple of miles.  I had in my head that all of the early climbing in the race happened after Sager road, so I was prepared for a dual-humped climb.  After climbing for a while, I was getting hot.  At the top of one hill, I took off my helmet to remove my cap underneath, then dropped it.  Since I was stopped, I decided to take a little extra time to unzip my sleeves from my jacket.  Well, I'd never done this before, and they got hung up.  In the end, I ended up taking the jacket off, removing the sleeves, and putting it back on.  Meanwhile, people are just riding by me.  It seemed like an eternity.  Probably 2-3 minutes.  Then as I started riding again, I realized I had my gloves stuffed in my rear jacket pocket, tangled with my sleeves and hat.  As I stressed and fidgeted, I realized that I had stopped at the top of the climb, not on the first hump...  Oh well...

So, now I'm trucking along re-passing people while fishing for gloves.  I finally got those on, and resumed my proper pace.I'm feeling really good at this point.  I catch up with the guy with the mohawk on his helmet, and chat for a minute.  He tells me he got it on Amazon.  

The sun is out, it's warming up, I feel like I have the right amount of clothing, I'm keeping my pace and cadence up, and my first bottle of water is about gone, and my calorie count is at about 1200.  

At this point I peel off a GU Roctane gel and eat it, and swap my water bottles.  
Perfect!  Now I'm heading North to 1/2 way point, followed by the aid station.  At this point the guys on cyclocross bikes have recovered the time lost on Sager road and maybe the first climb, and forming small groups.  One or 2 of these pass me, but this is nothing like what I'll see in a bit.

I've decided way before the aid station that I'm not going to try to grab an orange slice, or a cup of water.  I've got 24 oz of Gatorade on board, and another energy gel if I need it.  I cruise through, pretty much alone.  I don't know if people stopped behind me, or if I finally reached my place in the pack where the people in front are faster, and those behind slower, but I'm trucking along alone on some lonely dirt roads, until...

Until, the first freight train roars past me.  The aid station is where the 35 mile, and 65 mile "elite" course rejoins the shorter 23 mile course.  I'm in the middle ring up front and the biggest gear in back (not my lowest, granny gear, but almost) trucking up a hill, and ZZZZHHHHHOOOOOMMM - a group of 8-12 elite riders just fly by me.  Some out of the saddle, others head down in a draft.  Just amazing.  That keeps you going - not wanting to look totally lame, I sit a little straighter, kick the cadence up a little...

As I make the turn out onto Gun Lake Road (paved), another big group flies by.  I take the long way around the corner to give them space, and then just marvel as they pull away from me.  It's about a mile before the big climb I drove the night before.  I feel really good, and just decide I'm going to take it easy up the hill - not slack off or anything, just keep it in whatever gear keeps my RPM high, and gets me over the top.  I unzip the jacket and start climbing.  

The descent is amazing.  I'm in my biggest ring, and smallest cog doing about 30 mph.  I catch and pass a couple of guys, and then realize they're on single speeds, and don't have my particular weight advantage.  There's a little climb, followed by another descent, and I catch a draft from a guy in the 35 mile race for a minute.  At this point I'm feeling really good, and, with the hill behind me, and some gas in the tank I'm wanting to keep blue number plates (23 milers) behind me - for the most part it's been 35 and 65 milers flying by.  Each time a blue plate passes, I swear, and try to push a little more.   

Then, the road flattens out, and it's about 2 miles to the finish.  The hip muscles, and butt muscles are feeling tight and sore.  My arms are tingling and I'm shaking them out every couple of minutes.  I keep the pace up at 15-17 mph as I ride into the park and across the finish line.

ET:  1:53:53 (12.1 mph)
25th of 43 (men 30-39)
139th of 218 (all 23 milers)
I was a little shaky, and would quickly get and drink my last 1/2 gallon of Gatorade, but I felt great.  As I turned around to watch the finish line, the people riding in behind me looked fit, experienced, and rode nicer bikes than mine.  

Feels good.  My son asked:  "Did you win daddy?", to which I respond:  "Yes!"

Even though I didn't meet my goal (median finish, 1:45:00), it was really pulled out of the air.  In the end, I feel like I trained and prepared well.  I had the right tires on the bike, at the right pressure.  The bike was setup well (with the cold, I did have some trouble getting into the small ring on the front derailleur early on).  The Brooks saddle was perfect!  I had a good breakfast, and ate and drank the right amount at the right times in the race.  Again, it was a great day, and a great race!