Wednesday, April 27, 2011

monster x 1.0

Introducing my newest rig, Monster X 1.0:

(Bad iPhone 3G photo.)

After my Gary Fisher Paragon died in December, I had to quickly buy a replacement mtb (because who can be without a mtb for more than a week or two, especially during the winter?), which I did, but when the warranty replacement came what was I to do but find a creative use for it?

So I built the monster cross--which, in this case, is essentially a fully rigid mountain bike with drop bars and road shifters.

I finally finished the build last week* and I'm happy to report that I really, really like it. It's heavy, which is a bummer, but it's a lot of fun on the fire roads and bits and pieces of mild single track that make up the majority of my forays into the woods. For that purpose, it's perfect.

There are still a few kinks to work out, however. First, the X-9 rear derailleur that I'm using does not play well with the Rival shifter it's paired with. Though the derailleur was obviously designed for nine-speed use, I didn't figure it would be a problem using it with the road shifter and a ten-speed cassette. But it is--the derailleur won't hold the furthermost inward position no matter what I try. I'm not sure if that's a problem with the derailleur design or perhaps a problem with this particular derailleur, which may be bent from abuse from previous mtb applications.

Second, I've got to make a decision as to whether to run a single-ring setup or a double--a matter on which I waffle daily--and then complete the build, either with an appropriate derailleur or chain guards, depending.

Third, I'm dissatisfied with the fork. It's a nice steel 29er fork, as far as that goes, but besides being heavy (it is), the crown doesn't fit well with the 1 1/2" lower headset bearing. The headset has an adapter to fit the 1 1/8" steerer, but the crown of the fork is so skinny that it doesn't rest nicely up against the bearings and I'm worried about the long-term reliability of the patch. So I have one of those beautiful new Niner carbon forks on order (it's now been two months) and am super excited to see it installed on this rig. Presently, I'm salivating over my mental picture of its awesomeness.

Finally, I've got to find a better solution to the stem situation. I knew I would need a super short stem to replicate my road position on this bike, so I grabbed a 50 or 60 mm downhill number from one of Merv's bins and it works nicely, but probably weighs close to a pound on its own. Finding a nice lightweight stem that's as short as it needs to be on this bike has not been easy. Really, this is a low priority problem--what I have on there works fine, it just distracts from the overall aesthetic of what I've got going on. In time...

Anyway, I've been out three times on this little beauty and I'm really taking a hankering to it. I'm much more comfortable in a road position than on mtb bars (when not truly mountain biking) and a suspension fork is superfluous for a good deal of my adventures off-road. Once the shifting issues are resolved, I'm excited to plot some nice long backwoods routes and really put it to the test.

And of course the bike offers tremendous flexibility too, depending on tire choice, which is one of the reasons I was so excited about this build. I have a nice pair of 700c X 28mm road tires on order that will work nicely for long rides from Ship to the fire roads of the Tuscarora State Forest and back again...or for exploration further south in Michaux and into the Maryland mountains. Knobbies are great and all, but they are not fast...

* Getting this thing together has been way more of a hassle than it should have been. Here's a list of some of the difficulties I've encountered, other than what I already discussed:

(1) The derailleur hanger wouldn't fit on the frame until the frame was modified by file. Personally, I was unconvinced the hanger I had was the appropriate hanger for the frame (as I imagine most people would assume when it doesn't immediately fit), until assured by a Trek dealer that it was correct. I let them do the filing.

(2) The new Trek BB90 or BB91 or whatever the heck it is was a tremendous hassle. In all internet-dom I could find only one supplier that seemed to know what he was talking about and could sell me the appropriate Shimano BB. Even then there was some confusion between the road and mtb versions of this BB, with Trek customer support telling me one thing and the Trek dealer something else entirely. I'm happy to say, however, that the first BB I eventually did buy fit perfectly.

(3) Lack of careful measurement (and an overabundance of wishful thinking) on my part led me to believe I'd be able to use a Dura-Ace 7800 crankset with the frame. But that was foolish--it didn't work at all. So that left me scrambling to find a new crank that would fit the frame. (I ended up cannibalizing the XT crank on my Superfly and buying a new crank for it, but even that was fraught with complication--when one is considering the purchase of a new crank, one wonders if an entire drive train upgrade wouldn't be in order, in this case to a two-ring setup. In the end, I decided against it, primarily with financial considerations in mind.)

(4) It wasn't until I installed derailleur cable and chain that I realized my setup afforded no means of adjusting derailleur cable tension--no barrel adjusters on the derailleur (they're on the levers on mountain bikes) and no barrel adjusters on the levers (they're on the derailleur on road bikes), and of course mtb frames don't have a place for frame-mounted barrel adjusters on the down tubes like many road frames. Anyway, I ordered an inline barrel adjuster and the problem was easily solved, but it's just another one of those things...

(5) SRAM Rival front derailleurs don't have enough reach to get a chain on the outer chainring of a three-chainring mtb crankset.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

it's rodeo time!

For Immediate Release:

Shippensburg University Cycling Announces Youth Bike Rodeo

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania – April 26, 2010 – On Friday, April 29, 2010, Shippensburg University Cycling will host the Fifth Semi-Annual Spring/Fall Youth Bike Rodeo. Intended for children in Kindergarten through fifth grades, the event will include activities such as helmet fitting, minor bicycle maintenance, bicycle fitting, safety tips, and a skills-testing obstacle course. The event begins at 4:00 pm and will continue until 5:30 pm.

The rodeo will be held on the Shippensburg University campus, in the Queen St. commuter parking lot at the corner of Queen St. and Richard Ave. While there will be no adult specific activities, parents are encouraged to stay and participate. All participants should bring a bicycle and wear a helmet.

This event builds off the success of previous SU Cycling Team sponsored youth bike rodeos. Thirty to forty children participated in each event.

About Shippensburg University Cycling: Shippensburg University Cycling is organized as a university club sport. The mission of Shippensburg University Cycling is to promote cycling socially as well as to prepare athletes for collegiate competition.

Ship Cycling competes in road and mountain bike events in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference ( under the auspices of USA Cycling ( The team is funded by the University Student Senate as well as the generous support of area businesses including Sunrise Computers and Electronics (, The Carlisle Group (, Mountainside Ski & Sport ( and Wertner Signs (

The team holds regular training rides, open to all area cyclists, in the rural farmland and mountainous terrain of Cumberland and Franklin Counties.

For more information on the Shippensburg University Cycling Team, please contact Nathan Goates, faculty advisor (, Matt Conroy, club president (, or visit our blog at

Dr. Nathan Goates
Shippensburg University

# # #

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

louco com poder

According to CyclingNews, McQuaid and JV have been trading email.

In an email seen by Cyclingnews, McQuaid wrote to Vaughters:

"I have had enough of this High Moral Ground from you and I am refraining myself from writing exactly what I am thinking.

"Enough to inform you that when I have finished with the teams today you will have plenty to "reflect" on and communication will be the furthest thing from your mind!!”

I really wish we had the text of the whole correspondence.

All the same, a preponderance of the evidence over the past few years is that McQuaid is straight loco. And, you know, I'm inclined to agree with him on the radio thing, but it's clear a majority of the riders don't. And the teams sure don't. And given that reality, how can you expect to "lead" when your constituency* so adamantly opposes your policy?

Time to look in the mirror, McQuaid, and make a change...

*It's tricky to pinpoint who McQuaid's "constituency" actually is. I suppose an appropriate parallel might be to say that McQuaid is like a public school board (all of it) and the riders are like the students. It's a shaky metaphor (for a number of reasons), but the point is that McQuaid is NOT directly accountable to the students, but it's still his job to lead them. If he does not have their trust and respect (which it seems clear he does not), then he's failed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Saturday, I won a race. I'm not going to lie: it was awesome.

And now I have to document, because that's what we do.

Fulton Road Race. Fifty-eight starters. Five laps around a 10 mile course for a total of 50 miles. A fair amount of climbing--about 750 ft per lap, most of that over two steeper climbs, the rest over a long false flat / 1-2 percent grade and a few rollers.

Short story: First place after an 18-mile solo break.

(Through the start/finish after lap four--ten miles to go...)

Long story: Things started out chill enough, but then you hit those hills and everybody races, races, races up. After the first time over the climbs you got the sense about 35 percent of the group had fallen behind...but they probably caught back on again...then fell back once more the second time through...

And so it continued until the beginning of lap four. People seemed to realize that the race was now between the folks left riding together and things slowed significantly. There couldn't have been more than 30 riders left in the field. No one up the road, no one pushing the pace.

So about two miles into lap four
six to eight of us sat around at the front. Chatting. Playing around. Then Jon came up and took a bit of a pull--sort of stretching his legs--and as we came down and then up from the little valley between a couple rollers I accelerated and rode right away. (I say "accelerated," but it was a real effort.) No one chased. And I can only assume they all just kept dinking around like they were before.

My effort was half-hearted at first. I figured I'd be off the front for a few miles and they'd get motivated and catch me so I didn't want to burn too many matches. But after getting to the top of the first climb and seeing I still had a significant gap I started to push it 100 percent. I was hoping that a couple of guys might bridge up to me, using one of the climbs as a catalyst for their attack--and they appeared to try to do just that--but no one ever got that close.

On the second climb, fourth lap, I could see the advancing hoard maybe 20 seconds behind me and thought they'd easily catch on by the start/finish, but I poured on the gas anyway and after the climb they must have just shut it down (no one wanting to be the one chasing) because going through the start/finish I had 1:30 on the field.

And that's where you begin to think you might just have it--when you get out-of-sight. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind in these sorts of races.

I turned myself inside-out on the last lap. Again, I thought they'd get me just after the second climb--I could see a chasing group of two--but while they seemed to get awfully close on the accent, once the road leveled out I couldn't see them behind me anymore. Later, I found out the two weren't really cooperating and were content merely to stay away from the field and sprint for second. Their loss. :-)

At the 200m mark I knew I had it and sort of just rolled in across the line. Second and third came in maybe 15 seconds behind me...and the field maybe 10 seconds after that.

On the last major climb, which tops out some two miles from the finish, I'm sure Jon could have bridged up to the two chasers. He's good at that sort of thing--plus he said he wanted to. But had he done so he likely would have pulled up others, which may have sped the chase considerably, which then may have caught me. So many thanks to Jon for the smart team racing.


* The motorcycle official would occasionally come up to me, get a time split, tell the chasing pack the split, but not me. How lame is that?

* It's funny, Jon and I were trying to talk ourselves into not going on Thursday. I had completely forgotten that I had done this course before, two years ago (Ryan and I finished 11th & 12th), and that it is easily my favorite Lancaster Co. course. I figured this out on the drive there, and then I got all excited about the race. Even if I hadn't done well, it would have been a shame not to have been there--if I'd figured out later what course this actually was I'd been sad to have missed it.

* Rich (Ruoff) puts on an organized race and all, but they really are kind of boring. No announcer (and they had a megaphone there, they could have at least done a little announcing). No podium. No leader's jersey for the series (which I would be wearing; which would be awesome). No real hullabaloo at all. To me, it's that sort of stuff that makes the difference. It's a very inexpensive way of making the race more interesting and endearing for participants. It's how you make just a boring race into an event...into something. Anyway, promoters could be a little (a lot) more creative.

* I don't know how (some) pros have the energy to throw out those exuberant displays of excitement at the finish. I could barely get my hands off the bars for an understated (but heartfelt, believe me) fist pump.

* This is my first non-TT road win since August of 2006. It feels good to win. It's been a long time.

mavic gets a win...

...on it's first go with this wheel. Lucky ducks.

(Facebookers, you'll have to visit the blog to watch the video.)

(Photo from cyclingtips.)

Though, I've got to say, while the video is cool (and who can't help but have a bit of a man-crush on Thor), it doesn't make me any more likely to buy a pair of Mavic hoops.

Ok, carry on...

Friday, April 8, 2011

clever, clever

Yesterday, I was off riding the new Wildcat reroute (the cat's meow) with Aaron. We were bouncing along ok (well, you might say I was stumbling heavily through the gnarly rock gardens as Aaron floated magically over them) when I flatted from a substantial sidewall tear.

As I was grumbling with the prospect of having to put a tube in a tire full of gross sealant while fumbling with a make-shift energy-bar boot, I realized I hadn't brought tire levers. Aaron hadn't either.

So while I'm prepping mentally for the walk out and call to rescue-lady Valerie, Aaron suggests that I use his quick-release lever.

Wow. Major light bulb moment. A quick-release lever doubling as a tire lever! Who knew?

After that moment of realization, I figured my quick release lever was just as good as Aaron's, and so I tried it...BAM: worked perfectly.

How is that I've been riding bikes (w/ quick release levers), getting flats, and fixing flats for nearly two and a half decades and I'm just now learning this trick? It's brilliant! And while I'm tempted to say 'life-changing,' and realizing that might be a bit hyperbolic, I've got to say it's a pretty revolutionary insight. I mean, really, this is right up there...


Incidentally, I quickly learned that while a quick-release lever makes a great tire lever, one has to take care to keep track of the nut on the other end through the process or it will no longer serve its primary function--securing a wheel to a bicycle. Because, yes, I lost mine sometime mid-tire-removal/install. In the woods. Among last year's fallen leaves. And a fresh pile of deer poo.

But after an eternity of panicked searching (five minutes), Aaron and I found one spring and one nut...which was enough. So, with energy-bar-wrapper-tire-boot in place, air in tire, and skewer once more secured, we headed home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Trying to stay warm between laps at the MASS relay on Saturday.