Crunchy good times are coming

TR0C3911The weather is about to cool off.  The air will be crisp and moist.  The leaves will flash their grand finale before falling to the ground and giving us something crunchy to ride on.  Maybe it's time I come out of this summer hibernation and start writing some thoughts down. 

I've done two pre-season races so far, just to get a little feeling going:

Krugers Crossing
Krugers is pretty cool when it's not a huge bog of corn husk fortified mud stucco.    It started raining during my race, the hard ground got a nice slick layer of snot on it, and I slipped out on a turn.  I received minor raspberries and one snapped derailleur hanger.  Game over.  Even on the dry days, we loose derailleur hangers at Krugers.

Het Meer
I've always wanted to try this race.  It's at Vancouver lake, and has some sand in it.  It was fun, but I was in no condition to race.  I was even slower than normal.  But it was a fun, long course and nice to get out there.

I have some work to do.  Chainlines to dial in.  G-springs to replace.  Cleats to position properly.    And I also can't forget kids to hug and bills to pay.    I'll try to have some fun this Fall.

Road tires on 29er rims

Can you run road tires on a 29er wheel?  

I have a couple sets of Stan's ZTR 355 29er wheels that I use for Cyclocross.   Those rims have a maximum PSI that always kept me from running road tires on them during the off-season.

Then I started thinking...that can't be right.  So I did some math to calculate the pressure on the rim based on tire size.  Below is a list of tire sizes and inflation pressure, all put the same amount of tension on the rim:

 

Tire Width

Pressure

2.1" (MTB) 50psi
23c 116psi
25c 107psi
28c 95psi
32c 83psi
34c 78psi

 

So yes, you can run road tires on a 29er rim.   Obviously, you wouldn't run 700x21 or probably even 700x23 tires on fat rims.   IMO 25c or 28c tires should be fine.

Baker City Stage Race

1045148_10151527354495665_1106696557_nI knew this was going to be hard, but I'd forgotten how hard it really was.  Baker City was, like the rest of Oregon, HOT.   I've never drank so much water in my life.  However, we did our best and dealt with it just like everyone else.   In the end, nobody on the team was in a significant place in the GC, but we all finished the damn thing.  That's more than a third of our category can say.  My teammates were looking at this as a weekend training camp, and I am now in complete agreement with that.

OUCH
It was really hot.  On top of that, there were some really big hills.  I thought I was doing fine until the peloton punched it up a big climb.   Then, I hurt, couldn't breath, couldn't cool off, and just went backwards.  Trying to chase back on was just a cruel joke, gaining ground just to be spit off the back again for the next climb. 

Stage 1 was 72 miles, very hot, and hilly.  Stage 4 was like that, with an additional 28 miles and a big mountain to climb at the end.   After being dropped and squeezing out all the energy I had left trying to catch back up, the darkness set in just trying to finish the day.  It hurt.  A lot.

What to take away
I would much rather race to compete, rather than race to participate.  I was not adequately prepared to compete.  Just survive. 

I know how my body works, and when it's really hot, it does not perform well.  I just hope to be better acclimated to whatever weather is in store next time.  This race really was a lesson in coping with the heat.  It's just one more thing you need to learn to overcome.  This helped a lot because I really had no choice but to keep going.

In the end, I got some good training in, and I'm happy to be on the road again.  There's plenty of time before cyclocross starts.  I'm going to try and enjoy this for a while.

Back into the roadie thing

I've been out of the road racing scene for a long time now.  With all that's been going on, I really haven't had the time or energy to train for it, let alone race.

However, I'm about to get back into it with the Baker City Cycling Classic.    My teammates Richard and Monty have been training pretty hard this year; I've never seen them ride so fast before.  Me, I never found the time or motivation to train.  In May, I found myself hopelessly out of shape.  I considered dropping out of the race, but decided I would just ride my ass off and trust my body would come around enough to survive. 

When you are in really good condition, it's a lot of fun to go fast.  But when you get out of condition, you really miss it.  You ride with your peers and find you can't keep up, or you try to do things your body once was capable of but not any longer.   My teammates have been really going after it this year, and they are deservedly going very fast right now.  Me, I am blessed with health, but I've chosen to not take advantage of that like I should.  There are always other stresses, distractions, etc.  You still need to take care of yourself.  This race is a good catalyst for me to do that.

I suffered heavily riding with the boys in May.  They killed me.  Finally, one week away from the race, I can finally hang with them.  Where I was once just fighting for dear life to stay on their wheel, now I can take pulls and participate in the throw-downs.   I've still not caught up to them but given the right conditions I can at least hold my own.  I'm happy about that.  Very happy.

So here we go; one week until Baker City.  It's kind of special for me because I did this race ten years ago.   Time flies.  I am glad to be getting back into shape, and hope I can keep it going into an improved cyclocross season.

However, first things first, and now it's all about Baker City.  There are four stages spread over three days:

  1. Hilly, wind blown 72 miles on Friday
  2. Time Trial, Saturday morning
  3. Crit, Saturday afternoon
  4. Death march, 102 miles in the mountains

I hope I survive to the end.  I'm not just going to sit in and see if I can finish.  I want to help my team if I can.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll write a recap after each stage.

CX Update

PIR1It's been a while.  I did a couple more Wednesday nighters since my last post.  I'm slowly getting better, and I'm really having fun.

Today's race was at PIR.  It rained yesterday, so I was really hoping for some good mud on the course.  There was indeed mud, but it firmed up pretty good by the time we were done.   Not what I was hoping for, but maybe I'll get some soupy slippery awesomeness at Barton in a couple weeks.

My results are still underwhelming.  My back is usually the weak link.  I go hard until it wears out, die for a couple laps, then go hard again for as long as it lasts.  I finished the race today able to talk comfortably (not terribly out of breath), but as soon as I sat down I realized I was completely exhausted.  Seems weird to me.   I'm gonna try some things to fix that.  Adnan (Aeolus Endurance) gave me some core exercises to try.  And of course I have to stretch.

The course was fun.  There was plenty of slippery, tight corners.  Often, choosing the primo line meant getting smacked in the face by a pine tree.  I had a good time and improved a thing or two in technique.  But I'm still slow and I'm not really going for it with the technical stuff.  I could do more, but I think I play it safe because I'm so tired and messing up will just slow me down and make me more tired.  I just need to, you know, go for it. 

Cross Crusade #1 - Alpenrose

Alpenrose1Today, 1,399 of my fellow cyclocross nuts and I reined down on Alpenrose dairy.  It was a zoo.  Actually, I've been to the zoo, and it was much more crowded at Alpenrose.  The sport is beyond huge here in PDX. 

I arrived at the venue less than an hour before the start of my race.  Normally, that means no pre ride.  But AHA!  I was there Yesterday and I DID get to pre-ride.  In your face, Alpenrose!

So naturally, since I had all the twists and off-camber turns dialed in, I crushed it today.  Right?

Ummmm, no.  

Short  story:  I didn't fare as well as last year, and I didn't do so hot last year.  Long story:

I got passed by so many people, I lost count.  It was very hot and dusty out there, and I hate hot and dusty.  The course was awesome and well designed for a fit bike racer.  For me, it was torture.

I felt like a shriveled up raisin 1/2 way through, but I crawled on.  I ran out of gas 3/4 of the way through.  Seeing stars and dizzy, I just wanted something to eat.  Maybe a popsicle.  But I slothed onward.  Finally, I heard the announcer declare LAST LAP.  In truth, I thought the last three laps were last laps.  I didn't know what was going on.

Anyway, I did hear the last lap bell, and I felt a faint glimmer of hope.  One more lap:  All I had to do is ride one more time around before I could go score that popsicle.  Do it for the popsicle.

I didn't make it.  I crashed, not far from the finish line.  I was trying to catch the two guys in front of me, slid out in some thick dust and flatted my front tire.  I considered jogging to the finish, but I was too wobbly to do that.  I just walked to the tent to find some shade, pack up my stuff, and get going.

I seldom DNF, but I did today.  Looking forward to some eventual improvement in the fitness department, and some cooler weather.  

I never did get that popsicle.

Photo courtesy Dave Bussey

Alpenrose Blind Date #3

My assault of the cyclocross season is off to a slow crawl.  But I'm going to do these Alpenrose Wednesday nighters because:

  • They are awesome
  • It forces me to work out hard
  • I love riding at night

I missed the first race (out of town). 

I unknowingly started in the wrong group for the second race, one minute back.  Probably didn't make a difference in my result.   Perhaps that's enough said right there.

Third race was last night.  I knew timing would be terribly tight, and it was.  I arrived 10 minutes before the start, which would give me just enough time to change, register and get on the line.

I got out my kit and started changing in the parking lot.  Mid change,  I realized I had forgotten my helmet.  I had not allocated the five minutes required to find a loaner, so I was pretty much sunk.  I found myself extremely agitated, pacing around and swearing under my breath, temporarily unaware of the fact I was not wearing any clothes.

I snapped out if it,  quickly got dressed and walked away.  I lost my underwear in the dark. 

So ends Alpenrose Blind Date #3.  Looking forward to episode 4.  I'm leaving myself lots of room for improvement.

Tubeless Cyclocross

October is here, and so is the rush to dial in some new wheels before the season is in full swing.

Tubeless seems to be gaining some traction, both with new wheel offerings that are tubeless specific, as well as more people out there willing to give it a try.

If you give this a try, you should consider reliability as the #1 goal.  Weight, looks, materials, etc.  are all less important.  If you're going to experiment, do that with a set of wheels you train on.  Keep the race stuff reliable, because you bash stuff a lot harder in races than you do in training.  

Reliability Factor #1: Wheel Choice:

You can get a huge head start in reliability by using the right kind of rim.  A rim is either designed for tubeless use, or it's not.  If it's not, it's not a deal breaker, but it means YOU have to figure out how to convert it into a tubeless friendly setup.  And I hate to say it, but it's never going to work as good as a tubeless specific rim.   Your mileage may vary, but I am pretty sure this generally holds true.

Let's take a look at the two types of rims, side by side:

Regular clincher rim cross section (Velocity Deep V):

deepV
Tubless specific design (Stans Arch 29er):
stansArch

You can see the bead hook design is different.  There's a lot of room in the clincher rim for the tire bead to move around.  In the tubeless rim, the tire bead doesn't really have any room to wiggle around.  Room to wiggle is generally bad, because when that happens, your tire will most likely loose it's seal and "burp" some air.

The rim on the left (clincher rim) can work, but it's not going to be super reliable unless you alter it.  In this case, you could add an additional layer of rim tape (or two).   Every rim design will require a little different tweak formula to be more reliable with a tubeless setup.  Some rims might not work at all. 

You see how this is kind of a gamble?  It is.  Your best bet is to go with a tubeless specific rim.  You can build them yourself, have them built up, or buy a pre-done wheelset from an ever growing list of vendors.  I think the list now includes Stans Notubes, Giant, American Classic, Alex and Industry Nine.  I'm sure there are others.

Reliability Factor #2: Tire Choice

The strength of the tire bead is pretty important.  If the tire bead is weak, or tends to break, your tire could blow off the rim.  I've had it happen before.  Not fun.  Some tires work better than others.  A lot of tires out there that are not marketed as tubeless ready are very good.  I've experimented and found numerous tires that work well:

 

Tire: Rating (1-5) Comments
Michelin Jet 4 Sidewalls seem a bit less durable
Michelin Mud2 5 Works awesome.  Sidewalls a little weak when the tire gets aged
Kenda Kommando 4.5 Solid tire, perhaps a bit less supple than the others
Schwalbe Racing Ralph 5 Temperamental mounting.  Do it right or you will have problems
Maxxis Raze 3 Trouble sealing/burping, but I'd like to have another try with this brand. 
Continental Twister Pro 1 Not a good tire.  Even worse for tubeless use.

Tires I'd like to try:

  • Specialized Captain
  • Continental Race and Speed
  • Everything Kenda
  • Clement PDX
  • Hutchinson tubeless tires

I'd like to try all of these tires, but my experimental trials are bound by personal budget and time available to tinker.  So when it comes time to buy another pair of tires, I'll get something from this list. 

Reliability Factor #3: Mounting

You really need to mount the tires the right way.  If you don't, you're just setting yourself up for trouble.  Having a tire hold air in your garage is NOT an indication of reliability.  If you skip either of these two steps, you're probably going to be disappointed.   So if you want to give it a legitimate try, do this:

  • Soap suds:  Brush soap suds on both sides of your tire.  This will help the tire bead pop into the right place, all away around, and seal up well.
  • Shake and Bake:  Once you add sealant, you need to shake the tires and lay them on their side for 5 minutes (each side 1-2 times).  

I would show you the videos I tried to make for this post, but they really suck.  Better to just go to notubes and check it out:

Road Tubeless Kit from Stan's NOTUBES on Vimeo.

Still Here...

Hi there.   It's been a while since I've checked in.  I'm still around, still enjoying the bike when I can, still the same guy. 

I'm gathering up some creative energy.  Regrouping, rethinking.  I'll be back soon.

De Ronde 2012

It's coming...

Ronde PDX - de ronde van west portlandia

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