Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Baconator - Chapter 3: First Snow

The Baconator Saga continues...We started quite a while back with the Baconator build then a few "test" rides (totally trash testing). The Baconator has been quitely resting in it's cave waiting for some snow to ride on. While doing some of my normal cyclocross training (hand digging a trench in my back yard) I noticed white stuff on the mountains that was not there the day previous....SNOW!!! Whoohooo!!!

It did not take me more than a fraction of a microsecond to decide I needed to take a day off from my normal cyclocross "training" to explore some of this new white stuff.

Somehow the Baconator ended up in the snow on the mountain. I had one of the funnest rides ever. It took me several stops to let air pressure out to those monster truck tires until I felt it was finally right (which was an incredibly low air pressure). I started out with 15 psi and I'm not sure where I ended, but I'm quite sure is was close to 5-8 psi, which made for one soft ride with unbelievable traction on the snow. I climbed steep hills like they weren't even there and raced around everywhere with a huge grin on. I can not wait for more snow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CX Training?

Yeah, I know it's so totally unlike me to post sooooooo much in a single month, but I really want you to know that I take cyclocross training seriously. Since April 1st I've officially ridden one of my to-many-to-count bikes (that seem to need dusting all the time) exactly 22-times (+/- 5-10 rides that I neglected to record because of some sort of disbelieving euphoria that I actually rode a bike). Let's see now, I typically ride 5-6 days a week normally which would equate to one heck of a lot more rides than 22 or 32! Just so show you that I actually train I'm provide photo evidence of my CX training (which is rather unorthodoxed by any normal bike training standards) it is:

Yep that's the extend of my CX training this past 6-months, projects like this - hand digging a water line (my house main line is under there some where and I really do not want to rupture it with an excavator and to further my delemia there is no map or way of finding it's exact path - I know it's down there somewhere...). Fun huh!

This kind of intense labor certainly aids my ability to carry my bike on steep run-ups in a CX race...I've certainly noticed a difference. So grab a shovel and start digging!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All-City SS - Race Proven

Well it finally happened - I did my first cyclocross (CX) race this year. Whew, I feel much better now. I just can not seem to make people understand that I am a CX junkie at heart and need a fix now and then. Unfortunately my employer does not understand my cycle-logically, obsessive need to feel pain when pedalling a bike at the hardest possible rate my totally out-of-shape, non-trained body will take. Not only do I punish myself in one race, I almost always do 2 races in the same day. I call it racing into shape. (photos by Hank Greer and Bryan MacDonald - awesome)

At any rate the newish All-City single-speed (SS) was raced in both a SS only race and a race with many poor souls that still think 20+ gears are necessary to ride a bike.

The dirty orange rattle-can paint job was truly inspiring and I'm sure it made me go faster.

The couse was in Sandpoint, Idaho and was their 1st time putting on a CX race for the INWCX-Series. I must say that I was impressed with the course and I hope they do it again next year. The course was fun to say the least and the fall color was perfect.

My boy, Alejandro, has really taken over my On-One CX disc bike (supposedly it's my commuter bike, but I have not had much opportunity to steal it away from him). I'm totally encouraging him to ride CX and he seems to enjoy it - enough that he actually wants to train (not sure what training is these days beyond hard work on my property). Alejandro was happy to take 2nd in the Jr. division.

My results? Hmmm...3rd in the SS (Whoohoo!!!) and 5th in the large 50+ division (double Whoohoo!!!). I was 3rd in the 50+ until the end of the last lap when I started running out of steam (I'm sure some kind of bike specific training may have helped me here, but I've barely ridden my bikes the whole past summer). I am super stoked that I did so well and loved my day with friends and my boy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CX SS Color Morph (again)

Something happened to the world's fastest cyclocross single speed (well it's the fastest CX SS in my world)...the lime green morphed into an ultra cool dirty orange color (thanks to some strange skill I have using rattle can paints).

The real story is that I simply could not help my self - Orange has some kind of power over me and orange makes me feel like the Force is with me, none of this has anything to do with the power zapping ability lime green has on me. Now this bike really is the fastest CX SS in the world...color has a lot of power...I love orange so much that I'm thinking of painting my Gunnar orange also, specifically flat orange with lots of black (my other favorite color).

Too bad I'm terribly out of shape and I've had to work every weekend there's been a CX race. It seems that my employer does not yet understand my absolute need to suffer so intently riding a bike every fall on weekends. Instead what I am hearing is, "We need you to work"...not sure what kind of life this is where I can't have time off when requested. Hopefully they will figure it out, I know I already have it figured out quite well.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cyclocross - Single Speed vs. Geared

My mouth is still gaping in the shocked, open position after seeing the results of timed runs on Cyclocross bikes (Single Speed vs. Geared) at the Sky Ranch Cyclocross course in Moscow, ID. Yes, I'm mentally insane and totally obsessed with things like this.

The bikes in the test were:
  1. On-One Dirty Disco CX disc carbon geared bike that I have been using as a commuter on the road mostly - Geared 2x10.
  2. Gunnar Crosshairs CX steel geared bike - Geared 1x10.
  3. All-City Nature Boy CX SS with an ugly rattle can paint job (which I'm sure will change soon since I have no love for lime green) - Geared 1x1.
The lightest bike is the Gunnar, followed by the On-One, and All City is definitely the heaviest of the bunch. All riding positions are set up very similar since I am very sensitive to my riding position.

I timed myself on diffent weekends riding many, many loops at the CX track on each bike on the same day. The results are not what I expected. The Gunnar has a more comfortable feel to me and also "feels" the fastest. The All City feels great, but "felt" the slowest. The On-One is just another piece of crap carbon (plastic) bike and it feels unforgiving on bumpy CX courses as most plastic bikes do to me.  After numerous runs the results were consistent every time (in order of fastest to slowest):
  1. All City SS
  2. Gunnar Geared
  3. On-One Geared

The time difference was consistently 10-15 seconds between the All-City and the Gunnar and 25-30 seconds between the All-City and the On-One. In a CX race doing 6-7 laps this could be a big difference. I was in such disbelief about the time diffences and the SS being faster that I rode many extra loops on each bike confirming my times. Then I set out to prove the geared Gunnar was faster (because it felt faster) but as hard as I tried I could not make it go any faster that my All-City on this course.

On a CX course designed with more long runouts (i.e. a road toad designed course) there would most likely be a different result. For example I have a 23-mile loop near home that has 10-miles of pave and 13-miles of gravel in which the Gunnar is the champion by a whopping 2-3 minutes typically. I'm anal enough to time both the gravel and paved sections though and I have found that I can make my SS go just as fast as a geared bike on the gravel, but on the pave there is no way the SS can keep up with the geared which accounts for my loss.

Oddly enough though the On-One is stupidly slow on this same loop. Maybe everytime I ride the On-One I'm having a bad bike day...maybe it's just not an efficient riding bike - wouldn't be the first time I've been on a bike that sucks your pedal efficiency from your riding soul. I wish I could explain some of this to my mentally derranged mind and out of shape body because I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my timed results. 


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cyclocross Bike Crazed - Will this ever end?

Hmmm...What the heck happened??? I turned 50 in June (did a great bike ride on my 50th) then it's suddenly October! I'm not sure what happened to summer...well that's not entirely seems I spent my entire summer working on and around our new place (you know building fence, horse pens, horse barns, hay barn, wood shed). All I know is that there was very little bike riding in between all those projects. I still have a few more urgent-before-winter chores to get done. So needless to say my bike riding has greatly suffered, but it seems that my need to test new stuff has not stopped.

Oh yeah, just when I thought I was somewhat over the-need-to-test-and-ride-everything obsession here I am again mildly thrash testing some new stuff. All this is possible only by riding which means I'm back riding again, insanely out of shape, but nonetheless riding until I feel a need to puke on every ride (which these days doesn't take much). First up is my new carbon communter bike, an On-One Dirty Disco disc cyclocross bike. For some reason it looked like a fun commuter bike - and it is...

It's nothing fancy and it is fun to ride to work and on the back roads here. I've become a big fan of cyclocross bikes as the best ride for the gravel rides I like to do. I thought I would like to "try" a cyclocross disc bike since I roast my rim brakes all the time on the steep hills around here. Fortunately or not, my boy seems to have taken a fancy to this bike and he jets around the "farm" on it as if he were in a CX race all the time. Hmmm...not sure about that kid sometimes.

Next up is an All-City steel single speed cyclocross bike. I'm not sure what got into me, but once again I had a desire to ditch my plastic SS-CX bikes and get back on a heavy steel bike. I have no regrets in getting rid of the stupid light carbon bikes since the ride of the steel is soooooo much better. I accidentally gave it a custom paint job (rattle can) since I did not find the original lime green very eye pleasing. A black bike seem to be my thing, Love this bike.

Finally, after repairing or being profoundly unhappy with combo shift/brake levers I decided take a risk (oh sure twist my arm) to try a very unconventional unit that is incredibly simple, not to best looking to some people (I love it), but works flawlessly. Meet the Retroshifter...

I tried it out on my Gunnar as a 1x10 drivetrain and totally love how well it works and I like the cost and the crash replacement deal they have. I am now such a fan of these that I'm thinking of using Retroshifters on my other geared CX commuter bike (the On-One).

I am also testing the E-Thirteen XCX chain keeper up front and have had zero issues with losing a chain since I started using it a few months back.

I wish I could say the same thing about the Pauls Chain Keeper, but I had nothing but problems using the Pauls unit with their extension (which I needed to place the chain keeper properly on my Gunnar due to tubing flare at the bottom bracket). Using the Pauls chain keeper with the extension I lost my chain in several CX races last (using it on 2-different bikes) and I lost chain numerous times just riding or commuting to work. So far I've not had any issues with the Pauls unit (without the extension) on my Stong Frame running a 1x9 drivetrain. Both the Pauls and the E-thirteen are not cheap but at this time I think I have found what works and what does not.

My summer is gone, I'm out of shape (for me), and I guess I'm just normal otherwise in my need to ride and test everything bike related. I wonder what's coming next from my bike obsessed brain and test laboratory? I can't wait to see.