Sunday, August 30, 2015

gearing:

I am not a roadie. This is an obvious fact. I’m not against road bikes. I’ve just never had a standing relationship with one. But cross…there’s a relationship that has endured. I can mostly be found on a cross bike. My oldest cross bike in my quiver right now is my Vicious Cycles Slider. This stead has treated me well throughout the years. She has gone through many changes throughout our relationship, but has been loyal every step of the way.

Another thing about me is that I am not a climber. I can’t climb for shit. I’m also not part of Team Stick Boy, never have been, never will be. Maybe that has something to do with it, and I’m o.k. with it. That being said…I never back down from climbing. I do go out on routes and look for climbs. Hell, I even do hill repeats once and awhile.

But this being said, the one thing in my mind when building up a bike is gearing. I’m kind of terrified about it to be honest. Will this be enough gears? What about this range? Do I have the right chain rings?

A quick history on the Slider…I’ve been running that bike on a 1x system for about 9 years now. I’ll let that sink in…yes! 9 years. I did that mostly because I wanted a simpler system for cross. I didn’t want to mess with a front shifter. I understood and listened to my riding that if I just put on a chain ring that was in between the current two chain ring set up, I could use the full cassette range without problem. Now…I’ve had drop problems for sure, and it wasn’t till my current set up with a Wolf Tooth chain ring are my problems gone. (currently running a 1x10 Shimano 105 set up) But my fear of gearing was still there, and how to get around that pesky road derailleur of a max range to 28 teeth?

Sometime ago with Shimano, their pull ratio was the same on their mountain and road shifters and derailleur. So with some 105 shifters and a sweet XTR rear derailleur my problem was solved. I could climb almost any hill, road or off, and be just fine. A simple solution to a simple problem. My gearing always hovered around a 42 up front and an 11-34 cassette. Now times and tech have changed, and on the Slider currently is still a 42 up front, but an 11-32 in the back.

Now what’s my point with this? That I’m ahead of the curve? Well…yes. History has proven this empirically. People thought my set up on the Slider was crazy. But now people are paying a lot of money to change over their bikes to a 1x set up; when all you need is the right chain ring up front with what the current road rear derailleur can do. I’m seeing more bikes come with a 1x11 set up. I’m reading articles were riders are ‘testing’ a 1x set up for riding, and how and where they are riding. And it’s just been another day in the saddle for me. Is it practical? Not sure. That’s up to the individual. The individual has to be honest with themselves. How they ride. Where they ride. Their strengths as a rider. And, honestly, working in a bike shop I don’t see too much of that coming from customers, but that’s another topic for another time. A 1x system will always be that; 1x. So is this current move towards these systems a fad, like single speeds were? Not sure. You’re also reading this from a guy who loves his single speeds.


Amitabha…

Friday, August 21, 2015

come back....

i'm kicking this back into gear...again.

after a few conversations on twitter, and some other things; i'm going to try and post weekly.

i often take the summer off because of shop responsibilities, and those are still hot right now, but so are the conversations i've been having.

stay tuned, and hope all is well; and that i can put out some words that you'll enjoy.
amitabha...

Friday, September 12, 2014

SSCX?

Let’s take something fun & beautiful and complicate it.

That sounds like a few relationship I had, and to mirror that; it’s the way I feel about NEOCX and my love of SSCX.

I’ve been racing cross for around 15 years now. Most of that has been on a single speed. Mostly because of the fun of it. I’m not going pro anytime, so why not have fun with it. (I’m going to pause for a bit, and so should you and re-read my last sentence at least 5 times and let it sink in)



And as the Single Speeders increased, we were granted our own category. (and a special thanks to that individual, you know who that is….) I thought this was great. I would be racing with people all with the same ‘handicap’ as I. I’ve known the feeling all too well of a cross race hitting pavement and hearing the clicking of gears, and I’m left alone. Then after the race looking for the other people that raced SS and seeing where I stacked up with them. Now the playing field is even. Great idea….

Well; I took a few years off from racing because there are many more important things than racing bikes (I should take a moment here again as well for this to sink in, but I won’t. because if you don’t get it, then you won’t get this and you should stop reading now).

And as I was getting back into the swing of wanting to race, my buddy tells me about the SSCX class. I was stoked. I get to the line, and I’m surrounded by a bunch of really fast guys. My first thought…”what the hell?”  Then I thought that maybe they broke up the class into two…nope.

So now as the time has gone on, I’m still confused about the SSCX class. So now it is nothing short of guys (and some gals) racing in the SSCX class and then moving on to their geared class. So is the SSCX race just a warm up for everyone? And now that they have moved the time of the race to 9am for this reason, are we just creating some kind of sand bagging?

Well…I can’t win in my category, but I may have a shot in this one & I really want the points in my category as well…so I’ll do this.

Is it NEOCX again catering to the 1% of racers in Cleveland that care about points? Is it a way to kill attendance? To kill off spectators? To kill off the participation in SSCX as a whole? I know half the SSCX field has a hard time getting moving so early in the morning esp to race.


I welcome any discussion….

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

tin foil Jens...

My tin foil hat looks good on me now…doesn’t it?

I made the prediction earlier this year that Trek was going to get their hooks into Jens. Some people thought I was crazy. But look at the logic here…

Jens has a outspoken personality. His interviews are always entertaining. He’s known for attacking in the break aways. Putting out a monstrous effort. His great one liners of ‘shut up legs’, ‘suffering’…

He’s marketable, which in Trek’s eyes means money. Plain and simple. Put him on a shirt, maybe even a make a Jens edition bike…people will buy it.

He’s going out on top, so why not make some money off of him.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not blaming Jens. It’s a paycheck, and every damn one of you would take it as well. I mean look at Ray that started Ray’s Indoor Mtn Bike Park. Trek got him, and now he’s retired riding bikes all over the place. Not a bad way to spend retirement. Again…I don’t blame him.
 
Trek needs someone to lift their brand up after the whole Armstrong thing. Who else are they going to go after? Fabian? He still has years to ride, and could be on another bike in a year or two. Trek is scrambling for something. Did anyone even pay attention to the team this year at the Tour? Other than Jens…me either. I didn’t know the Schleck brothers were racing till mid way through the race ;) And when Fabian leaves mid way through to go ‘train’ for another race, what does that say about the faith of the team doing something, or even your teammate hanging out for Jens’ last ride on the Champs?

But one thing sticks in my head…he had a very long career. This career in cycling started in 1994. He rode throughout the Armstrong era. This era was plagued with doping. It’s been proven by independent laboratories.

It has also been proven that during the seven wins (yeah, I said it…wins) of Armstrong that no one was found to be clean. Unless you watch this:

Although he denies ever doping, there are a multitude of evidence that states just the opposite. So my personal question then is, why do we raise up riders like Jens but not Armstrong? Was Armstrong a dick? I wouldn’t expect any less. During the height of Led Zeppelin, do you think those guys were ‘cool’? Doubt it.

So why give this guy (and many like him) a free pass? If doping is wrong, it is wrong. Or is it just a case of who is more marketable at the time? Open your eyes kids...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Habit

Habit. We are creatures of habit. In some sense habit and route make our lives make sense. We understand our surroundings just a little better with these two things. If things do not go according to this route/habit, then our day seems off. Seems wrong.

What if you do not get your morning cup of coffee? And if you do get it, you have to stop somewhere or get it from somewhere else? Your morning may feel different. Ever forgot to brush your teeth in the morning?

We feel comfortable in our habits. Aristotle believed our ethical virtues arise from our habit. Who we are, ethical; is determined through our habits. Our habits are acquired by our own choosing. Our habits determine who we are. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle.


Want to change who you are? Change your habits. Change your route.

The problem with this…it gets us out of our comfort zone. The habits that we have acquired so far become comfortable to us. However; if we expect any change, we must change our habits. If we want to become anything else, then we must step outside of our comfort zone.

This applies to cycling as well. Want to be a better cyclist, then step outside your comfort zone. As we do this, we begin to push our limitations. Taking your cross bike onto a mtn bike trail. Your skills will increase exponentially after repeated habit. Without your mtn bike you do not have the luxury of wide tires or suspension to get you over/through rocky sections, roots, going down bumpy hills. If you take these luxuries away you are forced to think about the trail more. Think about the line. Think about how to get through a tricky section. Instead of just ‘jamming’ through it without thought. To just ‘float’ over the objects.


This goes the same for riding a single speed or fixed gear bike.


Know that hill that you always have trouble with, even with gears? Hit it with a single speed. See what happens. I’m sure the first few times will be horrible. They always are as we move outside of the comfort zone. But as you continue to ride on the single speed/fixed you will notice improvements in your overall general riding.

Now try this practice on a local mtn bike trail with a SSCX... ;)

What I have noticed from this practice, is that I started getting PR on some of the local Strava segments; either on my single speed or geared bikes.

Maybe in some way we understand the greater complexness of it all when we really take the time and understand the simplicity of it all…

And remember; who you are is determined by what you do…

Amithaba...