Holy balls, that was a rough one.

About a year ago at this time I was fighting through a bad sinus infection. As soon as I resumed exercise I bummed my knee and was out another 2-weeks, couldn’t even pedal. How is that different from this year? Well, i hit the weights two months earlier than before. I also got sick about a month earlier than last time. I’ve been taking care of myself but when a cough gets terrible, feels like you can’t get at what’s causign it down deep, and then gets diagnosed as minor Broncitis, it kind of stops everything. I quit training for two weeks to prepare for a commpany recurrent training event, got the cough, called off work sick after a week and then was prescribed an albuterol inhaler. You know, the kind that asthamatics get and the unnscrupulous racers use. It helped. In the end, after I was all done with bronchitis, it had turned itself into a basic cold for another week.

At November’s end, after Thanksgiving weekend, I began the work prep and as nearr as I can count, I didn’t train for probably seven weeks. Also, everything gained had been undone. I start over. I target core. that’s my weak area and also is for many others but mine is obviously robbing power and raising the heart rate. If I had a solid structure to work from, I would see big gains this year. So off I go.

The goal was to prepare for the boulder-roubaix race that I performed so dreadful at last year. The data showeed 170bpm/250 watts avg for an hour. I was spent. It was a Cat.5 and 40+ group. the winner averaged 23mph. 5 is weird and full of not really new guys. New to racing yes.

I was goig to show up this year, actually as prepared as anyon with a full time and terrible job schedule can be, but with the goal of a 192 pound race weight and some kind of real gas tank. Not so much now. I guess I’ll do what I can and still race it and run mid-pack but anything more is delusional. I’ll target some races in the summer for fun and joy and experience and use all this time to get ready for Cyclocross. We know how nice my schedule played with that. With any luck, I’ll get a call from a different airline with an offer and I would be ecstatic to let them screw up my summer cycling plans. I would appreciate that. The constant low level worry and self-pressure of waiting for that call is just one more load on the shoulders to carry. Along with that is relief for the retirement plan and the family provisions.

So, along with that, I havve to decide what to do with the bikes hanging in the garage. what do I keep. What do I sell. The Paketa is proving to be-well-uncertain. Did I really gain anything with it? It’s appearing to be destinned for a set of aero bars and TT use if It continues to behave the way I think it’s behaving. The CAAD9 is great but I want to get out of the 3×9 triple set up. Without bottles and my decent wheels it’s right around 18 pounds. the cross bike is great but a ighter frame would be nice. Weight for me is not a paramount issue but in a cross bike it is…heaving it up on the shoulder or picking it up for the barriers is a concern. a few pounds matter there and in that particular frame, it’s more. So, I could look for a cross frame I like and grab one, then sell a 2009 Fuji crosscomp frame to prety much nobody interested. I just built the Paketa but I could try to move it on for what I put into it then throw the CAAD9 out there as well and pony up another $500 for a Domane carbon Trek or C’dale Synapse. One racy enduro bike for everything would work vey well. Decisions squared.

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UCI makes case for single bike solution.

Cross vs. Road bikes has always been a comparison with easy at-a-glance answers. “A cross bike is not a road bike because of canti or disc brakes and knobby wide tires and the frame geometry is all wrong.” But guess what? Today, we are seeing something interesting. A true bike to do everything, including racing on both dirt and pavement.

Since the UCI is delving deeply into the disc brake solution for the 2016 competition year, we are at a point where the two styles of bikes are just about identical in equipment. They both have bottom bracket drops within 5 or 10mm of each other. They both have disc brakes. They both are using wider rim size with the road bikes trending toward 28c tires for low low rolling resistance. (Don’t forget that is 5mm less width than the knobby cross tires) Guess what? We have a cross bike out there with a lower bottom bracket on disc hubs that could be put in a UCI legal peloton right now.

I currently have that Fuji cross 2.0 I tried to race this year. The engine was the problem but regardless, It runs on wheels the Specialized Roubaix and the Crux came with. The Roval Pave’ serries. The rim width is 19mm and fits cross tires as well as a set of my winter 25c Gatorskins, if not larger sizes, with ease. So, we have a situation here, where an afffordable 17 pound (or less) bike can exist and be the only bike you could ever need for every single thing you could ever want to do. Period.

A 105 group running mid-compact rings up front could be perfect. How? The inner ring is a 36 tooth. That’s what my cross bike has. Either never touch the outer ring or replace it with a bash guard and you’re good to go for the winter race season. Take that off and put the 52 tooth back on and you got yourself the summer race bike. In fact, I never needed a front ring beyond that 36. The top cross pros only get in the upper 20’s if not touching 30mph during a full out sprint start or a big downhill that’s not going to last long anyway, and for the amateur I am, even if I quit my job and cross race full time, I will never see such a speed. So, a compact or mid-compact with 11-32 gearing will fit the needs of anyone. Just throw on some tubeless or tubular tires on disc hub wheels and you’re good to keep on going.

Road racing a cross bike? Theyre built for acceleration and fast changes of direction allowing the rider to really carve into a corner. So, how is that a downside at all to road racing? It would appear to be a sprinters bike. I still don’t know of a downside to this. Win.

So, let’s go back to the bottom bracket drop issue. My cross bike is within 5mm of my road bike, and within 10mm of other lower road bikes. That’s honestly very little difference in the end. A high BB makes a difference in cross itself for terrain clearance and on the road, a feel difference. But what will that really do when the rider makes the difference to begin with?

This is an nteresting concept. Who will try to race their cross bike in everything possible year round? What bike will they choose? What bike would you choose and why?

Paketa Scud: Build update-1

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I installed a Ritchey Pro headset. the local bike shop had one. Machined cups and familiar looking replaceable bearings. I greased everything up properly and everything seated right in. Very smooth. So now it sits absolutely the way it will sit when built. Now, that’s another thing. This frame only fits 23c tires. I put my wheel on with the 25c Continentals and the rear rubbed ever so slightly on the rear brake mount. I don’t want to race this thing on 23c gatorskins, they already feel kinda concretey in 25c form. However; the LBS man did comment on how he heard these thigns were supposed to ride, so…I might not be in bad shape. As it is now in the picture on 23’s, you see a trainer tire on back and some leftover slick on the front. The clearance is perfect. I guess a happy medium would be 24’s…

Since it was finally sitting properly, I put it right next to the CAAD9, bottom bracket to bottom bracket. The chainstays to the rear wheel are the exact same length. So, 408-410mm. Very good for power production and climbing. the seat tube is definitely slacker back a degree and will take up the rest of my seats adjustability. the headtube is also slacker by about a degree and with a fork rake of 2mm less than the 45 of the CAAD, the front wheel is still out slightly ahead. this is definitely a bit relaxed in ride, but that’s what it’s about. Long range cruise missile rides. The tubes are ovalized so there’s a degree of an aero component. If I wanted to, I could definitely get away with some TT bars.

Given the location of the stem and position, I can use a 100mm stem right way and know that’s what I’ll need. Waht angle I’m not sure about.

One thing I’m just dying to get are a set of Mavic Cosmic Carbone’s. Pictured below:

mavic carbone

Now tell me that this bike wouldn’t be outright startling to look at if not quite possibly extremely fast. Someone is selling them for $300. The worry I have is the spoke count. 16 front and rear. Again, I’m not a small guy. These reportedly weigh 1600g, heavy for an aero carbon set but they are very stiff, very fast and very responsive. If I had not already bought a set of Easton wheels with store credit, I would get these now and try not to be so heavy.

God, it would look good on those. Perhaps I’ll have to get a set of Boyd 44’s in the spring.

I already can’t wait to get it rideable. I need $500 for the Shimano 5800-105 11-speed build kit. I’m thinking Silver right now but if you think otherwise, please comment below. Until then, It’s some frame saver and small ammounts of touchup paint here and there plus some cleaning up and polishing to really make that finish look new again. It does look good when shiny. I’m estimating 17 pounds when I’m all done. The fork is listed at 500-grams. But at $50 new, holy cow what a steal. I don’t have the money to throw carbon parts all over this but a $750 total build price with a brand new 11-speed group and performance to equal some bikes costing way in the thousands…I’m doing alright. If this indeed is the ticket, the CAAD gets sold and that will cover the build costs.

A second hand custom geometry built frame? Yes please!

I was craving a steel ride. The Cannondale CAAD9 has been a great bike but after fifty plus miles I feel a bit buzzy and in the end, becuase of it’s racey creation, it’s not really the best choice for a bumpy race or a century ride. A snappy fast steeel frame would be nice and on a budget all avenues pointed to the Soma Smoothie. A more compact road-relaxed-endurance race geometry. The charts were all looking very favorable. $400 and somme ebaying for parts wold yield a greta long range steel ride that weighed under twenty pounds. Happieness. right?

Then, Craigslist crashed through my living room window in an unusual car. Paketa makes custom geometry frames. Not one is of a standard design. It’s for your body alone and for nobody else. So, how do you sell one on when it won’t likely fit anyone else and is also listed at a 62cm size? I had to know. These frames, new, are over $2,000 if not way more and when sold on they do go realtively cheap but at $180 this guy was asking for? I sent an email.

He sent a better picture and using the water bottle bosses, I could determine a scale to measure by. Things didn’t jive at all. He said it measured a 59cm top tube. I ride that on my CAAD now but on a 62 frame? That’s short. I decided to check it out and began to measure up my bike from the perspective  of what actually matters. The head tube in relation to me on the bike and standing by the cranks. From that position, with my legs in line with the bottom bracket sticking in the sides of my legs, I can see a straight shot down at the head tube and it’s exactly in line with my sight line if that makes sense.

I brought with me, a spare wheel with a 23c training tire on it, and a spare fork with another spare wheel and 23c tire on it, plus a piece of half inch styrofoam with a hole in it for a spacer to act like an external headset. Anyway, I made it over to see just how it really positioned itself on a set of wheels.

Damn.

That eyesight of the head tube, if anything, is just a centimeter closer thant the CAAD’s. I could see right through it. This bike was indeed a ‘compact’ bike. I can only imagine who it was built for. Was this a tall guy with limited flexibility forward? Possibly an upright positioned century ride bike? The tube angles of headtube and seat tube were’t all funny or out of wack so it was the usual fast road bike design. The best part was, I still had plenty of room for standover. I was sold on it. I then looked inside for corrosion because, well, it is made of a Magnesium alloy.

Mg on the periodic table is, in this alloy with aluminum, amazing. Supposedly it gives a ride feel of vibration absorbtion like steel, and performance stiffness like carbon at half the weight of titanium. Compared to the CAAD, this frame actually weighs a third of a pound more, but will ride that century and then out perform the aluminum on all levels of insanity. I will find out. I will build it.

Where did it come from? the seller only wanted the crank arms and some parts. It still had the bottom bracket so that came with it. I asked. Flea market was the answer. I agreed to the price and handed him $180. Then, I asked him what he paid for it. $100. Can you believe it? He didn’t even get all the parts. It was not complete even when he got it. but he made a profit, and I got a fantastic frame. The only reason I can imagine a frame like this winding up in a flea market has to be from an estate sale. The guy dies, the family has no idea just what he really had and just sells ‘a bike’ to the estate company. The buyers sold off the parts and threw the frame in the market. Traditionally, parts are worth more. but in this case, they weren’t aware of what this frame is. Besides, this custom and big, who would really want it?

Me. I’m tall.

So far the plan is a new 105 5800 11-speed group, on top of the Ritchey carbon comp fork I picked up off the Performance bikes clearance table for a super marked down $50. If there’s such a thing as a racing train, there is one a comin.

Budget cyclocross? Making a second hand tubeless wheel/tire right and ready. Check your stuff.

Craigslist. After an arranged purchase from some guy in a parking lot-or parking garage which seemed like the opening to a missing persons story-the buyer needs to remember one solid piece of advice.

I don’t care how new or awesome what you bought is, you don’t know who maintained it. You don’t know how it was maintained. You don’t know if it even was looked at with the idea that maybe it should be maintained but only after they finished that cheese sandwich and then when falling asleep it was forgotten and now . . . it’s in your hand’s.

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I bought a set of Specialized Roval Pave’ SL wheels. The picture is the first set I bought. They were set up on tubes and honestly, are fantastic wheels for the durability and flexibility of use. Anyway, I bought a second set, identical, but already set up with the Specialized Tracer Pro 2bliss ready 700×33 cyclocross tires mounted, with sealant. And boy they were ready. I did two races on them and a few training rides before, by 75 miles on the tires by yours truly, finding short needle thorns in the front tire as I was getting ready to ship out to my third race. Thank god it was on a Friday afternoon.

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As you can see, the sealant didn’t do anything at all but pee all over my garage floor. huh. so much for tubeless for the third race. By this time, I had taken the frist set of Roval Pave’ wheels and, with gatorskins, had made those my winter road wheels. I quickly put the tubes and a non-2bliss ready Tracer Pro tire on the back, and a Continental CycloXking on the front (because it was mowed grass and packed sandy dirt) and went on my way to compete. Remarkably, at 40 psi, they worked VERY well and the side walls look perfect after this 208 pound rider gassed himself into 4th from last.

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This is what Stan’s NoTubes looks like after, I think, over a year. a spongy greasy gum ball with oil all over the tire. Of course that was the oil that pissed out the thorn holes all over the floor under pressure. I stripped the tires off both rims and wiped out the insides of each casing with old worn out t-shirts and rubbed off the gummy residue from the tire lips. Not forgetting the rim itself, I cleaned that out too. So, they were ready to install again, or at least I would try. I began by mounting most of the tire bead and then pouring in something shy of 2 ounces of Orange Seal brand sealant. Closing it up I began to pump air. Nothing but orange goo out the bottom and down the side. I couldn’t pump fast enough to seat the bead. I was new to this and learning as I went. The shop where I bought the sealant, offered to do the honors of seating the bead under 65psi of live air. So I packed them up and headed over.

Hissss. Pop, pop. and then sloshing it around, it eventually sealed up nice.

Rear wheel (Roval Pave' SL), Tire, Shimano 105 11-28 cassette, 2oz sealant.

Front wheel (Roval Pave’ SL), Tire, 1+oz sealant after the loss.

Front wheel (Roval Pave' SL), tire, probably 1.2 oz sealant after some loss.

Rear wheel (Roval Pave’ SL), tire, shimano 11-28, and 2oz sealant.

They had a scale. I asked and they let me weigh them just out of curiosity. I know for a fact, over the stock wheels and tires the bike came with, these lightened it up by two pounds. It’s interesting to see the difference. 6 pounds 8ounces of wheels and tires. Not the lightest but for $250 total on Craigslist, including a cassette, I think it’s a pretty good bargain, especially since Specialized sells these wheels for $400 new.

Once I got home, I checked the air pressure and added more. It had come down at least 20+ psi each since mounting. Things were great until pulling the fill nose off the rear tire pulled the whole valve out. Not just the un-screwable stem core, but the whole tubeless stem through the hole and all the air came out. I had no idea I was being that aggressive. So In finally getting the valve out, and inserting it again the right way, I discovered I couldn’t mount the whole thing again. I just undid all that work. So, Remembering the GCN DIY tubeless cyclocross tutorial on you tube, I had to build up the wheel tape to get a better bead lock. This involved removing things, making a mess, cleaning off the wheel, actually taking all of the tape off it and putting three layers of electrical tape on. Piercing a small hole, installing the valve, and then pumping it up fast with the tire back on. Oh wow it worked! Just like the video. Now If I can get myself down to the weight of that presenter. . .

Then I had to do it all again because I mounted it all with the tire rotation arrow backwards.

Now, I’m Done.

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So I let them sit on their sides over buckets to keep them flat. Once every hour or so I’d come out and slosh them around slowly. holding them at a 45 degree angle and rotate them to make sure the fluid gets into the bead on both sides and then I flip them over for another hour. One of them did deflate down to twenty psi but after filling it back up, I heard a small leak that sealed itself instantly. That’s why you want to let them sit with occasional rotation. All of those little nooks and crannies the sealant can go needs time for the air pressure to shove it there, and then it will seal. I’ll let it set another day and then take both sets of wheels to the race Saturday morning at a hopps farm. At my race time it is scheduled to be 37 degrees. Am I excited? Not sure.

Ready to roll. I'll have to take it tothe shop to get it weighed, I'm just curious if I got it down to 21 pounds.

Ready to roll. I’ll have to take it tothe shop to get it weighed, I’m just curious if I got it down to 21 pounds.

So, in the end, get those tubeless systems serviced if you haven’t actually seen the inside of them yourself. Unless they’re absolutely zero pressure, you have no idea if there’s a golf ball rolling around in there, waiting for you to find out you have no actual flat protection. I was on top of a mesa on a hot 85 degree day running some single track stuff with these tires and nothing happened. Now, I get a little shiver knowing I would have been in serious marooned trouble if I picked up any thorns.

Review: Specialized Tracer Pro 2bliss ready

I ilke them. there.

I’m about 208 pounds right now in race trim on a 21 pound bike. I have these tires mounted on a set of Specialized Roval Pave’ SL wheels. the entire package I bought off Craigslist mounted and ready to go (more on that later). The first time I ran them at the course, I put them at race pressure just to see what the characteristics would be like and as a first time corss racer, they were lovely. I set them at just under 40 psi, again I’m not a lightweight, and the bumps were soaked up. They rolled quite well and never burped air. I never felt squirmy in a straight line or indecisive in cornering at that. Now, really getting into a corner and driving through it, leaning it in and carving my line, I haven’t exactly accomplished yet. It’s coming tho, I’m getting better and better at attacking corners and each time, It holds it’s ground. I need to work on my committment to the corner to really find out their limits.

I’ve used them on packed dirt, loose dirt, sandy packed dirt, combinations of that with gravel and on some mowed grass. they’ve held decent grip there and on sand, well, did I say I’m heavy? they tracked well in sand if I put effort into holding the bars firmly and staright. Leaning back and pedaling through a slow cadence. I got through where others did not but that has to be luck.

The only issue I sort of have is durability, but that is self-induced. They are not for long distance use on firm pavement and rocky single track or where you’re likely to panic stop and slide around corners. The rear tire suffered through several downhill descents into braking where it locked up here and there and the ocacsional brake assisted pivot on one of the weirdest off camber hairpins I’ve ever seen, all on gravel pack dirt, really wore into the soft compound. It is indeed a softer compound for loose terrain grip. Just like winter car tires in the summer. Super soft compound for grip on snow and ice. So, seriously agressive use on gravel will use the tire up, otherwise It’s fantastic for cross.

Where I have raced in colorado thus far, there is no mud. not yet.

Update. A lazy one but an update. I’ve been doing it!

Three races in cyclocross behind me, I get to reflect on things. I can blaspheme here, it’s one of the ways to truly express the feelings.

Holy shit is everyone in Colorado in shape! I may be in decent shape and doing alright for an average person with a bad schedule but jesus christ these guys are amazing. I only get forty minutes to compete in my ‘beginner category’ event. In that time, we circulate around the course for a few laps and the first person ove rthe line wins. Well, that’s nice. On my last lap i get, wait for it, lapped by the leader and half of the field. The good news is I don’t finish in last place. that’s for the two or three guys behind me who are arguably ten years older and thirty pounds heavier. So, had I started racing cros two years ago at 240 pounds, I would be those guys if not behind them.

Notes for the beginning cross racer: Learn handling skills. The outright speed ou have isn’t enough if it feels like you’re going to slide out and lay it down or fall over in a tight corner. Learn how to really drive it in there and carve the line, pedaling through it to power out. You will catch EVERYONE in your group that isn’t in front already, just by efficiencey of knowing when to accelerate and when to cruise. Let them pass you because youll get them back in the technical stuff if you are good in control. So where you suck at, efficiently pedaling at supreme speed, you can at least regain something and then when everyones tired at the end, you have a little bit of power left to finish hard.

So, the fuji Cross I have, at 21 pounds with tubeless tires at 38psi, works fantastic. I need to work more fantasticer.