Archive for July, 2007

Okay, it’s not cyclocross, but check out the sequence of photos leading up to this one.

Apparently, this guy lowered his head in a sprint, ran into a leadout man, and this was the lucky aftermath. Check it out!

Here’s the boy with the messenger vibe. We got the Skuut in the spring but it was slightly too big. He grew into it last month and now he flies around the driveway and yard. He loves his Skuut so much, he insists on riding it in the house.

Frost on the Skut

tektro1257.jpgThere are a two primary methods to hang your front brake cable on your cross bike. There’s the fork yoke which bolts onto the font of the fork crown. The advantages are that you don’t need a housing stop on the headset (and it’s associated stack height). It can also improve cable routing by letting the cable get around even a low handlebar stem without a sharp kink. cable_hanger.gifThe disadvantages are that you can’t run a high straddle and if your fork isn’t drilled, you’re out of luck. Then there’s the traditional headset mounted cable stops. They allow practically unlimited straddle cable height. As were alluded to above, the disadvantages are increased stack height and the potential for some pretty nasty cable bends.

Well, there’s a third alternative. Use a cable hanger designed to fit on the seat post binder bolt and bolt it onto one of the stem faceplate bolts. You can usually get much better cable routing with this setup than with the headset mounted cable hangers and it allows plenty of straddle adjustment. It’s lighter than either of the other two alternatives as well.

I’ve taken a few photos of my setup on the pit bike. They’re part of the slide show in this post. Here’s a close up:

Cable hanger

You can buy them at Nashbar.

Four and a half years ago, I bought a used Redline Conquest Pro on Ebay. It was a 52cm frame. I eventually realized it was too small and I replaced the frame and fork with the 2002 version in a 54 (used, of course). The bike has seen lots of changes since I bought it and it retains perhaps a handful of the original components.

This Redline is my commuter/pit/rain bike. Much of the year it is fitted with fenders and an Adams Trail-a-bike hitch. It fits okay but I don’t like the geometry nearly as much as my Merckx. One of the upgrades I made is the Ritchey BioMax bars. I like the short reach and shallow drop but I’ve come to dislike the overly ergonomic bends. I also dislike the sharp bends from the tops to the drops. I much prefer the Deda 215 bars on the Merckx and my road bike. The original owner had it powder coated black and I’ve stuck a collection of stickers on it.

The specs:

  • Frame: Redline Conquest Pro (with disc tabs)
  • Fork: Alpha Q cyclocross fork
  • Headset: Chris King 1-1/8″
  • Stem: Off-brand
  • Bars: Ritchey BioMax
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 9-speed STI
  • Front dérailleur: Shimano Ultegra
  • Rear dérailleur: Shimano Ultegra
  • Crank: Shimano Ultegra (38/46)
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra (12-27)
  • Pedals: Crank Bros. Eggbeaters
  • Seatpost: Parts bin generic
  • Seat: Terry Fly
  • Wheels: Shimano Dura Ace 32-hole hubs laced 3x with 14/15 spokes to Mavic Reflex rims (tubular) or Shimano Dura Ace 28-hole hubs laced 3x with 14/15 spokes to Mavic Reflex rims
  • Tires: Tufo Flexus (muddy courses) or Griffo Challenge (dry courses) — basically whichever wheelset isn’t on the race bike.
  • Bar tape: Cinelli
  • Brakes: Avid Tri-Align cantilevers with Kool Stop pads
  • Chain: SRAM 9-speed something

The cable routing for the rear mech and rear brake is along the top tube. Front dérailleur cable routing is along the down tube. I prefer the down tube cable routing for the front mech because I think the pulley is a mud magnet and I haven’t had a problem with the cable when shouldering the bike.

While the Merckx is my favorite of the two, this Redline has gotten me though some races and is a solid commuter bike.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

I just read about the big plans for the US world Cup race in 2008. As I’m sure you all know, the plans for the October 2007 US World Cup cyclocross race didn’t come to fruition. The promoters appear to be serious about bring a World Cup race to the US and are planning a three day event for 2008 which includes a World Cup race, a second UCI race, and amateur races plus concerts, food and other entertainment.

The full article is at cyclocrossworld.com and I got first wind about it over at race.cx.

This is the first installment of a series that features the bikes of ordinary riders like myself. Sure you’ve seen the high zoot bikes the pros ride in pages of VeloNews or on cyclingnews.com. But I’m going to show you the bikes the dudes racing right next to you might be riding.

For this first feature, I will introduce my very own race bike, a Merckx Alu-cross. I bought it used three years ago.

The specs:

  • Frame: Merckx Alu-cross
  • Fork: Wound Up carbon with carbon steerer (1″) with an FSA compression plug
  • Headset: Ritchey
  • Stem: Ritchey
  • Bars: Deda 215
  • Shifters: Shimano 9-speed STI — Ultegra right, 105 left
  • Front dérailleur: Shimano Dura Ace
  • Rear dérailleur: Shimano Ultegra
  • Crank: FSA Gossamer (38/44)
  • Pedals: Crank Bros. Eggbeaters
  • Seatpost: Parts bin generic
  • Seat: Terry Fly
  • Wheels: Shimano Dura Ace 32-hole hubs laced 3x with 14/15 spokes to Mavic Reflex rims (tubular) or Shimano Dura Ace 28-hole hubs laced 3x with 14/15 spokes to Mavic Reflex rims
  • Tires: Tufo Flexus (dry courses) or Griffo Challenge (mud)
  • Bar tape: Cinelli
  • Brakes: Avid Tri-Align cantilevers with Kool Stop pads
  • Chain: SRAM 9-speed something

The cable routing is along the top tube and there is a pulley below the front dérailleur clamp to redirect the cable. The rear derailleur hanger is not replaceable and I wish that it were replaceable. The frame rides great. I’ve got a Redline Conquest Pro that has the same top tube length, but the Merckx feels much more comfortable and responsive.

The bike came with Avid Shorties but I hated the poor mud clearance and the squealing. My preference would have been some Pauls but I didn’t have the budget. Instead, I trolled Ebay and found some Avid Tri-Aligns for cheap. Those brakes were big back in the mid to late 90’s and are very adjustable. The bike originally had a matching pair of brifters but I ripped the lever off the left one in a crash while bridging up to the leaders at the state championship race two seasons ago. A friend had a spare lefty that he let me have for karma.

As I mentioned in the last blog entry, I just swapped out my 48 ring for a 44. I can’t recall the brand but it’s a basic no pins, no ramps, no crank arm pin ring. I’ve got a similar ring in a 46 on the pit bike/commuter and haven’t had any problems with shifting. Since the front rings are so close in size, they don’t need the extra bells and whistles to help out getting the chain up on the big ring.

I think that hand built wheels are great for cyclocross. They are strong, serviceable, as light or lighter than similarly priced boutique wheels, and readily available in the used market. I troll Ebay and haven’t spent more than $200 for any of my last three sets of tubular wheels. I prefer DA hubs since I’m run a Shimano drive train and DA is a great value. They are light, have pretty good seals, and will last a long time if properly cared for.

I’ve been really happy with my Merckx.


Created with Paul’s flickrSLiDR.

After spending more time in the drops in my recent cross workout, I decided to ditch the top mount brake levers. It’s definitely a cleaner look and the brake housing routing is a bit more direct for less cable friction. I also found I had a roll of red bar tape — I usually only buy black. So Eddy got a bit of flash on the front end.

I also replaced the 48 ring with a shiny silver 44. The chain ring bolts on the FSA Gossamer crank are aluminum and I stripped one of them. I drilled it out, found some steel bolts in the parts bin and threw away the aluminum bolts. I expect to spend most, if not all, of my time in the 44 ring come races. Exceptions will be longer hills and slog-a-bog courses.

eddy_july.jpg

I took Eddy out for a spin today and it felt good. I figured that it was about time to dust off the cobwebs and ride around on squishy tires, hopping off and on at random intervals. I headed over to Skyridge Middle School and made use of their grounds to good effect. There is a terrace for the track and it provides a good run up and some excellent descents.

I spent most of my time working on handling but squeezed in some dismounts and run ups. Two things really stood out; 1) weighing less make a huge difference, and 2) I’ve rediscovered my love of riding in the drops. I rode in the drops quite a bit my first season but ditched the practice for following seasons. Riding in the drops seemed to smooth out the ride and lowers my center of gravity (good for cornering and descents). I plan to use the drops a lot more this season.

I’m getting excited for the season!

I tried stripping the glue from one of my rims with acetone. The glue was on pretty thick and it was taking forever. Then I recalled, after too much time spent with the acetone, that mineral spirits work much better. My hands are sticky and the rim is clean enough for new glue.

This kind of work sure makes Stan’s attractive.

Holy cow, it’s hot. I went for a ride yesterday at lunch time and it was not fun. The temperature was about a hundred degrees with a 17-23 mph east wind. The humidity was very low so the moment I started riding, I could feel the water getting sucked out of my body. Of course by the time I rode home from work, the wind had shifted direction and changed from a strong tailwind into a gentle headwind.

Today, I got my ride in early and it was downright pleasant.