Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who wants to coast, anyway?

This looks like a fun way to spend the long winter months this year...I don't think I crashed enough last winter.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hiatus schmiatus

I took a bit of a self imposed racing hiatus this summer and I am not sure what I think about that. Fool's Gold was this weekend and looks like it was a great time, but I'm glad I stuck around town to see My Morning Jacket.

When I say hiatus that is ignoring a couple alleycat races but er, I don't count those. They are cool and all, but it's not the same. I don't daydream fearfully about them the way I would about going to a too long race in a new, exciting place 

My reasoning involved some babble about the heat and saving money. I have not been able to avoid the heat and money is not exactly piling up here in the house, although I am damn close to paying off my car.

The hiatus has allowed for a beach trip with Melissa and some extra time around the house on weekends which has been awesome so I hereby deem it a success.

You see where this is going, the hiatus is about to end. I ponied up for the School of Hard Nox 50 Miler in Mississippi on Labor Day weekend. Yep. Mississippi. It actually looks pretty cool. The course has almost 5,000 feet of climbing, was cheap, and is generally regarded as "hard" by those who have already partaken.

Immediately after the money was plunked down the fretting began. What about training? That should happen before racing, right? I have been riding to work and going to ride where ever I want on the weekends. Or not riding and making french toast. Boris, Jacob, Lee and moi rode 9 laps on the Dead Dog trail out in Trussville that ended up giving about 4400 feet of elevation gain and enough roots to numb your hands and rattle your teeth. The ride was awesome and made me feel better about my new purchase.

So much for the carbon free bike

I bought one. I had to. I have wanted one for two years and got a good deal on a used one. I left on a skinny front tire for the first ride at Oak Mountain a couple weeks ago. Christ, that was brutal. It made me remember my 26er rigid days. The ride was rough enough my pump dislodged itself and I broke a bottle cage I thought was bomber. It wasn't. I then came to my senses and returned to my favorite front tire of all time - the Rampage. I stray from them time and time again even though they have not done me any wrong. Truly an excellent tire.

It's all good with the carbon wonderfork now and the bike just feels right. It rides like a bike, in a great way. I will do without the Mountain Bike Action style superlatives here - I trust it in the twisties and downhills and it seems to climb as fast or slow as I care to. I cannot go as fast on a rough downhill but who wins an endurance race on a downhill, anyway? Maybe someone faster on the dh than me, I don't know.


I am up to 40 minute runs in the dinky little Unshoes sandals. I don't ever get excited about going for a run but I no longer despise it. Running is just something else to do in the day, better than brushing my teeth or washing dishes but not as good as coffee or oatmeal. I guess I will keep it up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More on seat height...and boobs.

Basically, I'm a dumbass.

My knee hurt because I carelessly put a new saddle on a bike with no regard to setback. All better now.

I have still been poking around for bike fit info. Not changing anything..just learning. Here is some more seat height wisdom from Steve Hogg, a pretty smart guy when it comes to bike fit. No laser and smoke BS. Anatomy and kinesiology at work:

How to set seat height accurately if you are a bike fitter:
Focus on the velocity of extension of the rear of the knee under significant load.  That velocity should be a constant.  If you see even the tiniest flicker of acceleration at the rear of the knee before the bottom of the pedal stroke, then the rider is losing control of the motion and is too high; at least on that side.  If in doubt, increase the load a touch.  Always check the other side under similar load and if there is a difference in fluency between sides, have a look at the pelvis from the rear for your clues as to why.  What is significant load?
Significant load is enough resistance to have the rider forcing the gear a bit at 80 – 85 rpm but not so much as to sacrifice technique.  This kind of load is similar to riding a hill hard while seated, in one gear harder than is comfortable. Under this load, better than 99% of riders will drop their heels more, and extend their legs more than they will under less load or in flat riding where momentum plays more of a part. It is this kind of load that determines seat height.

How to set your own seat height:
Find a hill that takes at least 3 minutes to ride up. Warm up thoroughly and then ride up that hill under significant load (see above for definition of significant load).  Do you feel like you are riding a step machine or do you feel fluent through the bottom of the stroke on both legs?

If you feel like you are on a step machine or feel a bit powerless, drop your seat 3mm and repeat the hill.

If you feel equally fluent through the bottom of the pedal stroke on each side, raise your seat 3mm and repeat.

For those who have to drop their seat, repeat the hill and drop the seat 3mm per time until you feel fluent through the stroke while forcing the gear.

For those who have to raise their seat, repeat the hill and raise the seat until you feel like you are a touch less fluent on one side than the other.  This is an early warning sign that you have entered challenge territory.  (For more info about challenges.)

Now drop your seat 6mm.  Why not just drop the seat to the last 3mm increment?  Because not every day is the best day of your life.

For the patient ones still looking for the boobs: Sorry. Google Liz Hatch or something.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I flipped. Then flopped. Then changed my mind some more.

Well, after a lengthy decision process on the rims for the Nature Boy cross wonder bike I changed my mind at the last minute.


I chose the Notubes Alpha 340 rims based on the recommendation of a fella at Stans and a few reviews online. Stan's tech support staff will say all of their rims are most excellent if you call them, btw. For whatever reason I researched the 340s a bit more this weekend while I impatiently waited on the wheels to be built. I was not happy with what I found.

Apparently, the bead hook design that makes Notubes rims so awesome on the mountain bike side was changed to suit the new Road Tubeless stuff. I found this post detailing some odd spoke tension changes that occur to the 340 rims when a tire is mounted on them sans tubes. In short the tire compresses the rim causing spokes to lose tension. When spokes lose tension nothing good comes from it.

Also found this in some comments to the excellent cross tubeless primer from the guys at cxmagazine:

yes, you can run rim brakes on ZTR 355 29'rs. we have literally sold hundreds of them. you might have some inconsistent braking til the black anno wears completely off, but its really not a big deal. its a pretty short brake surface though, so use short pads and just watch over the wear a little closer. There is not a better tubeless option/rim in my opinion and we've done tubeless since the beginning. you'll have a great experience with it. Dont bother with the 340. The 340's we were real excited about when they first hit the market. We bought a bunch and immediately started selling them. EVERY single rider we put on them (130-190lbs) had burping issues. We had guys that blew all the air out and people were getting both upset and disappointed. We put two layers of yellow Stan's tape on them initially. That way if they went road tubeless, the high air pressure wouldnt blow through the tape. A second layer is not a bad thing for cross either as a tight clearance between tire and inner rim diameter tends to be a benefit. Not only did we have different heights and weights of riders trying these out, we also had them all trying different air pressures and there was plenty enough people to cover both aggressive riding technique and softer technique. The only couple of things that made these rims solid was higher pressure and the thick Stan's rubber rim strips we started using. Both of these options were bummers to the people that got these rims. Each one of them was excited to have a rim that was both lightweight and to be able to utilize the benefit of running low pressure as we've come accustomed to.
The big bummer now...... Stan's discontinued the ZTR 355 29'r rim a couple of months ago. Ive tried to find them everywhere, but all suppliers are out of stock. so, our limited stock of this rim will not take us even to the beginning of the CX season.
if you find em, buy em. I dont know of a replacement for it yet. Hopefully they bring the original bead seat technology to the Alpha 340 and we'll be very happy once again.

I was able to bail on the 340s at the last minute and am going to use the Arch ZTR 29er rims, which should be the most badass, durable, tubeless cross rim available right now. This is what Cyclepath, a shop that does lots of tubeless cross stuff in Portland recommended to me. The rims are primarily for disc brakes but stop fine with rim brakes after the ano wears off and I can also run 28c tires WITH tubes to whatever PSI the tire is rated to for commuting. I will be using either PDX Crusades or Michelin Mud2s tubeless for cross with Stans juice. Muuuch better feeling about these wheels with the Arches. Now I just have to wait... Some more.