Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm too sexy for my...

Blanco...so sexy it hurts...
My apologies to all Right said Fred fans. I am an ugly bastard...seriously. That is a mug only a mother, wife or offspring would find attractive. But Blanco makes you feel like Zoolander. Seriously. It flat out rocks! On a hot day in NE that smacks of summer words can't even describe the sheer awesomeness of this kit.

Fitting that my first ride in Blanco would be Memorial day. Any earlier would have been tres gauche...non? Took 2 pics before my battery died and frankly it was starting to feel way too Narcissistic clicking photos of myself ( i contest its of the blanco but...) on such a gorgeous day that should have been my sole focus. Found the double edge to the Blanco. Its not unlike going on a sunday ride in a Hotrod red Porshe Boxster. Sure you could be that old guy that just goes soooo painfully slow or you are going to have to get ready to redline it everytime some dude in an Audi TT, or Vette or 3 series comes rolling along. 

For me it was out near the realm of the Dover Demon. Dude came up on my bumper at warp speed. If it wasn't for his crappy drivetrain and shifting he would have smoked me. And mentally there is no way I would have chased him. He would have broken me. But I heard his clikkity clack slam shifting and just pulled out all the mental gymanstics. I slllooowly and silently started going down the cogset and ratcheting up my cadence. Still on my wheel. 

I thought let's see how this feels. And put it in the big ring. Still casually. That's the beauty of campy its a silent killer and smooth. No dice he was a man possessed. Or was he a man at all? We'd all been joking of finding the Dover Demon for weeks. Had I finally found him on this wooded lane? We descended at about race pace and on the next riser he made his move. He half-wheeled me to come around mais non I accelerated and got over the riser first wheel. Next bomber descent I came back to the real world and thought to myself what am I doing? I let safety take first priority. I'd made my statement. I wasn't going to be a dickhead or endanger an obviously more fit rider on a sketchy descent. I let him pass and followed his wheel. Up past col de charles we rode at a fast tempo. Once up on farm st we exchanged pleasantries. It appears the Dover Demons name is Nestor and he hails from Chicago. He has a husky Italian accent. We shook hands for a battle well fought And he departed with a "ciao" The Dover Demon has been found he lit my lungs on fire and has a warm and welcoming smile....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer whites

Blanco C'est Arrive´! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sycip Crosser

Top mount cable routing
Brass headbadge

Segmented wishbone rear end with pennies for caps

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring cleaning

Man Town is in rough shape frankly its a disaster...its a little late for Spring cleaning but its on now. I want it dialed for this cross season...tubies are hanging from hooks, visions of organizers, work areas, etc...But while weeding through piles of junk...do I really need back issues of Velo News from 2001? The Buyer's Guides maybe but the actual VN probably not....I have found some gems. Some in pretty much perfect condition, some slightly worn but all too good to be just taking up space. All this stuff deserves to be ridden and ridden hard. 

Here is a list of some good swag from casa de chip...The creme de la creme is my Sycip cross frame...its pictured here in its original gangreen paint job....I had it repainted before last season in a nice dark gunmetal grey mettallic. It is a wonderful riding steel cross machine. 

For sale items:

Sycip Cross frame: 853 steel, segmented wishbone rear end, top mount cables with pulley. TT is 52.5 with a sloping TT 53.5 effective, Seattube is 46 center to center and 50 center to top, Headtube is 9.5 cm. I can sell it frame only or frame and fork. I could also build it up as a complete bike with either Shimano Ultegra Sl or Campy 10-speed mix of Centaur/Chorus. I have a set of oldish Ksyrium elites for campy or Bontrager Race Lites for shimano. The shimano Ultegra SL/bontragers would be a really nice and smart race bike! Its a beautiful handbuilt frame from one of Northern California's master builders. Frame only $500, Frame and fork $700 (includes king headset) Ultegra SL/bontrager $1,700, Campy/Elites $1,200

• I have two steel cross forks 1 kona, and 1 beautiful Igleheart New England Segmented cross fork! both are 1/18"

• 2 pairs of Campy Chorus carbon UT cranks. Both 170 I have rings for road or cross $200
• Thomson stem 130 31.8 and 10 degree rise $60
• Easton stem 120 mm 31.8 and 0 degree rise $60
• Vittoria Open Corsa evo cx tires 23 mm brand new in the box $60 for the set
• Pauls Touring cantis brand new $60
• Thomson elite 27.2 post with setback $60 black
• Ultegra Sl groupo with 172.5 compact cranks
• Ritchey wet black wcs stem 100  31.8 $60
• Ritchey bars either pro ergo or wcs classic both 42 $60 ea
• deda classic bend h-bars 42 $ 60
• Campy Chorus Carbon seatpost 27.2
• Froggleggs canti brakes (old school cross goodness) $60 for the set

Fire me an email if you are interested in any of the parts or if you have any questions....velocb@mac.com

Cross season is a mere four months away!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Came across this great quote

Excerpted from Mark Twight

"We train in preparation for sport-specific tests or work-related challenges, we do not train for the sake of it or because conditioning is our sport or hobby. We don't do this because we want to look a certain way or to lose weight (these are consequences). We suffer during training to improve ourselves physically and psychologically and we measure those improvements on mountains, on frozen waterfalls, in burning buildings, facing cunning adversaries, on the battlefield, on the mat and in the cage. Because these tests occur outside the gym we don't compete in the gym, we work hard, and we work together to make the sum greater than its individual parts. Cheating here won't help us get where we are going so we enforce all quality all of the time."

"That's our yardstick, how long is yours?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

It wasn’t a rock, it was a Rock Lobster…

Paul Sadoff the master builder of Rock Lobster fame www.rocklobstershop. blogspot.com built my first cross bike. It was part of a fleet of steel school bus yellow Rock Lobsters that swarmed the courses of Surf City in Santa Cruz in the early ‘90s. I think I got one of the last ones of that batch…in part I think because one of my friends Willy called me at the last minute to get my order in. It was slightly too big for me and I was heckled severely by Mr Black Socks for having too little seatpost showing but I loved it. That bike was my gateway drug into what is now a full scale addiction to handbuilt bicycles.

The old (I hate saying that term) team bikes were made of steel. Paul’s more modern bikes are made of aluminum. I’ve been on steel bikes for a decade or more. Last season when I was itching to try get a new cross frame I was hit with a wave of Nostalgia…Why not go back to where it started? I called Paul who lives and races in Santa Cruz, California. He remembered me from way back and we hit it off. He is a true master of his craft and is a teacher, musician and racer. His cross race team is one of the biggest and coolest around. Doesn’t hurt that they are on gorgeous sea foam green Rock Lobsters that are built with one thing in mind racing cross.

In my talks with Paul I realized a lot of what I thought I knew about cross bikes was not really up to date. Paul is one of the coolest builders to work with. From 3,000 miles a way I was able to email him numbers and then basically say build me what you would build for the team. It is by far the best cross frame I have ever ridden. Its everything you want a cross bike to be-great power transfer, awesome cornering, light. and doesn’t scare you in the technical bits.

I get a lot of questions about the bike and he was so great explaining everything that I have enough knowledge of the bike to be dangerous. But I wanted to ask Paul himself just what makes this tick. There is a lot of mastery hidden behind the killer welds and beefy tubes. Below is a quick Q&A that Paul so graciously took the time to answer. The two points I will make. Downtube cable routing makes so much more sense on a race bike. It makes front shifting so much better and doesn’t pack up mud down at the stay/bb juncture. And aluminum does not beat you up. My Rock Lobster is arguably more comfortable road riding than my steel race bike….

Vcb: What defines a Rock Lobster cross bike? ie what makes the bike ride sooo well on a cross course?

A Rock Lobster 'cross bike is made to be ridden fast without being scary and/or sketchy. Another consideration is the stiffness in the rear triangle to make for a better feeling of power transfer during all of the constant accelerations during a race. The center of gravity is low, making for a more stable feel in or out of the saddle.

Vcb: Why is aluminum such a great material for cross?

Aluminum has the advantage of stiffness and impact strength at a light weight. Since it is metal and not a composite it can withstand side impacts with less chance of serious damage. The increased wall thickness makes the frame resistant to crumpling in a frontal impact such as colliding with a barrier or another rider.

Vcb: Tell me about some of the details that give the Team Tig such mojo? The low bb, the downtube cable routing, the geometry?

The Team Tig is really a culimnation of over 20 years of 'cross bike building and listening to top riders. The cable routing and frame geometry were initially a way to make 'cross bikes that could keep up with mountain bikes on the earlier more technical courses. The downtube routed fr. der. cable was a solution to a mud-buildup problem caused by the fr. der. cable pulley used in the top routing-also the need for an extra long non-standard fr. der. cable was eliminated

Vcb: How has the modern cross rider position changed?

I think that top tubes have gotten a little longer and the rider is a little more centered between the wheels. Bars may be a taste higher so that control can be maintained in hard braking steep downhill situations.

Vcb: How long have you had a team and how many riders do you currently have on the roster?

Our team is starting it's 6th season this fall. I believe we have around 30 riders at this time, give or take a few. We have a core group of 2 women and 6 men that make up our elite 'factory' team.

Vcb: You made a big jump in your own racing last year what secret training did you do to achieve this?

I attribute a lot of my race success last season to the fact that I downgraded from the 45+ A category to the 45+ B category....it's an easier group. Also, I was not injured at the beginning of the season like the season before and I trained on the road at elevation for two weeks in July while I was teaching a class in Ashland, Oregon. I'll be doing the same this August. I'm turning 55 next year so this is my last year in this age group and I am the oldest one so I'll have to really up my game. Training with the team once a week in Aug-sept. is a huge benefit for me

Vcb: You are obviously a believer in the power of the mustache do you feel the mustache played a role in last seasons success and do you plan on growing it back?

The mustache is gone......I'll have to excel on non-mustache related merits

Vcb: Where do you see cross now as opposed to 10 years ago?

'Cross is bigger now and there are many more women at the races. Courses are faster and there are more races covering a longer part of the calendar. It used to be that everything was over before Christmas....now you can race into February.

Vcb: What do you love most about cross?

I really like the community in cyclocross and the fact that everyone gets appreciation from the crowd no matter where thye finish. I like the fact that the worse the weather is , the better the race becomes.

Vcb: You've traveled across the country and seen all the different cross scenes are there huge differences or is it all just one big cross family?

I think that there are several large enclaves of 'cross in the US and they each have their own distinct personality but when you get a lot of these folks together at a big U.C.I race or the nationals , it's pretty much about the day rather than any one group being superior to another.

Vcb: Are top mount brake levers dead?

Top Mount levers are not dead to some but hardly anyone on our team is using them. When Paul Components stops making them, that's a sign that they might be irrelevant soon

Vcb: Do you step through?

Some times I do, as long as I'm not feeling too clutzy........I don't think about it unless I'm practicing for the most part. I'm not technically very good so I'll do whatever I think is safest at the time.

Vcb: Your team is one of the coolest around what do you attribute to this?

The team is great because of the team , the sponsors , all of the personalities associated with it. Way more people are influential in the team's inner workings than what is the norm.....most of the time I think of myself as a member of the team , not as anyone with any more control of it than anyone else. I do build the bikes and provide some support here and there but these folks on the team are very good at taking care of themselves for the most part. Lots of folks are really more helpful than I am ! It's humbling and it makes me want to do more for them every season.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Torgueing around

The GF Standard comes with 16 bits and  a nice carrying case and opens the door into new realm of bike geekery

I am not a carbon guy. Carbon in most cycling applications just seems too expensive and too risky...ROI (return on investment) is low ROI (risk of injury) is high. Most of my parts are sensible. But who doesn't have a carbon steerer tube on their fork at this point? And some parts are torque sensitive. I've been a big believer in the hand tightening method. I've never had a problem...ok I am lying. I've had a couple of campy chorus carbon seatposts fail at the seattube juncture (can you say overtightening stress riser?) and I had a carbon sid steerer tube that developed some crushing/stress risers where the stem fixing bolt clamped the steerer (again likely overtightening) Never had a failure and obviously never had anything come loose. Admittedly I am a hamfist.

I'd been thinking of getting a torque wrench for about a year. I heard about the www.effettomariposa.com giustaforza torque through a few sources (BKW/Zinn). I ordered one from a us distributor. Other than my Campy chaintool it is my most prized bicycle tool. They have a lot in common. Both sit solidly in your hand. And both are heavy...I always love the feel of heavy metal in my hands...but I digresss....The effetto mariposa is gorgeous in its sheer strength and beauty. It is also very easy to use. You just tighten or loosen a knob at the base of the tool to set torque between 2-16 nm. You then tighten whatever bolt on the bike you are working with until you hear a loud click of the head  releasing. 

The only funky thing about the tool is that before you first use the tool you have to "prime" it. Priming the tool is very easy all you do is manually (with your thumb) move the head back and forth at its lowest setting to move the grease around inside the tool. After a few times doing that its ready to go. But directions that come with the tool do not explain this very important step in using the wrench. When I first used the tool it wouldn't "click" Even at its lowest setting the head would not release. I checked the website and it explains this procedure in detail and in a very easy manner to understand. One thing I found is that a torque wrench puts a lot of torque on a bolt. It has way more leverage than an allen key. How ironic would it have been if I destroyed a carbon steerer tube with a torque wrench designed just to prevent this happening because of missing one crucial step in using the tool?

Now I am just torque crazy. I seriously need a laminated card with all the proper torque settings of all my bike parts. This isn't necessarily easy. For example deda specs on its stems max torque 8nm. That is a lot of torque believe it or not. 5nm is probably a safer bet. But it raises the question of where do you go to get the most accurate torque settings for a part? The manufacturer obviously but sometimes its not as easy as just googling bike parts and torque. ...A whole new level of bike geekery is about to begin!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm only happy when it rains

Gorgeous day in the western 'burbs....went looking for the Dover Demon on the road machine.....sorry Yash no luck this time but I'll keep looking. I did see some other things though....Happy Mother's day to all the moms out there and the incredible mothers and mother figures in my life...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dirty White Sex

I cringed when I typed in the title of this post. The Puritanical upbringing that is so ingrained in my waspy heritage seemingly will not die. Frightening that over a decade living in SF, 4-years at art school and being firmly planted in adulthood and I still can't shake my inner prude....but the title couldn't be helped because this is all about Dirty White Sex. 

I have always had a sidi fetish. Nothing compared to www.mudandcowbells.com but none the less I worshiped at the alter of Sidi for years. In fairness Mr. Keller kicked my lust for Sidis up a notch and he is the one who brilliantly coined White Sex. The odd thing about the interwebs is someone who you've never met and lives a timezone away from you can make such a mark on you. 

A couple of bloggers have brought my cross game to a level it never would have reached without their influences. Mud and Cowbells was/is a beacon for any crosser who wants to learn, get stoked, and lust after all the bling that the cross gods have to offer. White Sex changed my whole outlook last year. I swore by shimano shoes the last two seasons. But after getting the dragons I'll never go back. 

Shimano shoes are heavy, cobby (for my feet) and have zero style. Dragons are the pinnacle of style. And as long as you put those toe spikes in they give plenty of traction. And they come in White! The confidence that comes from looking down at your white sidis on the start grid cannot be measured. Whenever I get a new pair of Sidis I jokingly tell my kids are you ready to hear the Angels singing? I am only half joking as Angels do sing when you look into a box of fresh Sidis just filled with the promise of lung searing efforts, ballet-like dismounts and yard sale crashes in mud pits!

But I feel I've let Greg down. The LCC certainly would not approve of the pair pictured above. My Dragons are beat. They are dirty. Dirty white things look even dirtier than dull dirty things (shimanos) CC (thankfully) counseled me (well, heckled me) into not wearing a brand new pair of white sex sidi Ergo 2s at Battenkill. I was so stoked to show up at the start line with shiny white sidis! But there is stylish and there is stupid. I do not have the budget to be outfitted in a never ending stream of pearly white sidis. I am now holding on to the sick brand new sidis for the peak of summer and perhaps only for Hup epics and Tuesday Night World Championships!

But its time to put a line item into the budget for next cross season. Size 42 Dominators White...Imagine those with a white skinsuit on the start line of Sucker Brook? scary...

Monday, May 4, 2009

5 signs you are the worst runner on the planet

1. You can barely flex your feet and your legs are destroyed a day after chasing the kids on their bikes around the neighborhood

2. You can barely keep up with the 4-year old on her "big girl bike" while she is screaming "mtn bikes are CRAZZYY!" at the top of her lungs and pedaling furiously to catch her 8-year old sister

3. You are so gassed after 3 laps of this torture that you have to beg the kids to stop and relax for a moment

4. You have to use ice-cream as a bribe to get said kids to have mercy on papi so he doesn't have a heart attack.

5. You end up "riding" the 4-year olds bike home like a circus clown because you can't keep up with this brutal pace any longer.--much to the kids ridicule and hilarity.

Shake n' Bake

Shake n' Bake Hup-style began last August up at 24 hrs of Great Glen. Its in full effect and will be launched at venues throughout the NE in the coming months...We had a little Hup bbq at casa de Woods/Baker. Gretchen made some delicious Hupcakes with a Shake n' Bake theme. The boys were sun-burnt and a little fried from 130 miles from Bos to Wachussett and back but two hardman rode to the party! And one rode back! Love it.

The hup hot tub club had a bit of a reunion with Dj Robert taking a full dip while Yash and Rosey chose to soak their calves....tons of fun. Great to get together when there is no race pressure or otherwise. Fun with family and friends eating homemade Quac and cupcakes! It doesn't get any better.