Friday, March 26, 2010

Bikes of the RdR

Kevin Sweeney's "Ridley" Hilarious. Last CX season I was like come on get Kevin a Ridley. If I was his sponsor this type of humor would work instantly he'd be on an X-Night the next day. But you know what? He's better with aluminum for cross anyway. Chapeau brother that joke still kills me!

I love bikes. Love working on them. Love looking at them. Love the feel of them. The weight. The smell of oil, lube and rubber. Aesthetics are a part of it. But not in the fashion that has taken over a lot of the mainstream press. I am much more Ak-47 than M-16. Give me a weapon that will work in all elements, all the time and will never let you down. And like an Ak make it for the masses. Or at least for the masses of real bikers who are going to live and breathe on the machines not treat them like some kind of show pony.

The build up to the Rhonde had people scrambling for bikes. Friends were frantically building bikes for friends who wanted to ride it. I got countless emails about bikes etc. I tried to hook people up as best I could. Friday night I was up until 1:30 in the am building up the Sycip into a cross killing machine. Lately I have been on the edge as far as what shape my bikes are in. Surprise surprise I get a bit OCD with my bikes. Not in the I want my bikes looking PRO OCD but in the I am very finicky about how they work and run. They have to be reliable. Cross teaches you that. I toss out cable way before its to the point where it will be a problem. I change cables and housing constantly to get the right shifting. I run campy and that shit is not cheap. But it is a small price to pay.
My midnight run bike build almost ended poorly. It was that close. I was using oldish campy parts and trying to make it all work. God bless campy. Even old campy works better than new anything else. I made the huge error of trying to deal with the chain shifting up into the biggest cog by tweaking the limit screw. Hmmmm how do you think that worked out? Kachhhunk. I had to go crack a Sierra Nevada and take the ear buds out after that debacle. But I took a deep breathe got the chain unstuck from in between the spokes and the cogs and dialed that shit in.

Couple of observations. Campy has changed up their housing. Don't know if its a 11 speed thing or what but it is really nice. I had just put Yokuzunas on my Rock Lobster and those are NICE but the new campy? Bellisimo! The brake housing is supple. Certainly compared to Yokuzunas which are super stiff...Cabling up the bike with the campy cables and housing was a joy. Its weird as I am on the cusp on switching (or trying at least) Sram Force. Everyone has such good things to say about it. I still just don't know. I love me that campy thumb paddle. I love that campy is just bombproof. Is it a coincidence that the deraillers that keep ripping off peoples bikes are Sram? I don't know. I have ripped a campy off. Granted a huge stick got sucked up in there but still. Once in 10 years of riding campy in cross races and just riding my cross bike everywhere. That's a pretty good track record.
But back to the cables, I am so stoked that Yokuzuna makes campy cables. They are really nice. Shift like butter. Seem to not stretch. And they come in WHITE!!! That stoked me wayyy up! I had no problems with the fresh set I put on the day before the Rhonde. Again I am (it feels like it anyway) walking a fine line between putting new stuff on the bike and dialing it in right before big rides and having it work great. It has been working out but it is taking me way out of my comfort zone. I like to have my bike dialed weeks before anyone could witness or be party to my bikes demise. Maybe I am not as bad a mechanic as I think I am but I am still taking David's class so I can learn to wrap bar tape properly!
Richard Fries showed up to the Rhonde on a borrowed Tim Johnson 9 ball cannondale. Not a signature model, Tim Johnson's personal bike that TJ rode to victory in KC in 2008! And I wonder why he rode like 10 men that day! Tim and Richard must have been separated at birth because that bike fit Richard like a glove! I don't know if that bike is going back to its owner any time soon Richard seemed real comfortable on that machine!

Both my bikes worked fantastically. The Sycip rebuilt is a thing of beauty. It basically is me incarnate in a bike--blue collar east coast grit with a little west coast mellow thrown in to take the egde off. Chris Igleheart built me that gorgeous segmented cross fork right before last cross season. Budgets and life got in the way of me building the bike up. That fork changes everything on the bike! It rode/rides so nice its incredible. Are steel forks heavy? Yes. But sometimes stiff and light doesn't make it right. A steel fork made by a master, and make no doubt about it Chris is a master, rides so smooth and so carvy it will blow your mind! I loved this bike before I really love it now. I set it up single ring with a pauls chain protector and it is one nice riding cross machine.
I still am going back and forth in my brain about a road bike. I know at some point as we head into the summer if I show up on all the group rides on my cross bike I will become "that guy" especially if I show up looking like a caveman with unshaven legs. Will a proper road bike make me faster on the group rides? I don't really think so. Would road brakes be safer? The Paul's with swissstop pads work really nice. Lots of stopping power and good modulation. So really it is only fashion. People will see my canti brakes and think I am a dork. The only real limiter is that both my cross bikes are set up without water bottle bosses as I like it that way.

We'll see its still Belgian weather in the NE it sure feels like cross season still. Summer riding seems like a lifetime away. I may just be that guy it will be a test of metal to see just how the cross guy does on a ride like Tuesday Night Worlds....that should be entertaining...


  1. Campy works. I've got umpteen bikes worth of Ergo levers and derailleurs, and until I break something so bad I can't repair it (possible but not likely), I'm sticking with it. Force is the sexy, though. I hear its call, but I'm trying to buy fewer presents for my bikes and just ride the darn things like the tools of self-flagellation that they are.

  2. In my experience, when a derailleur comes off, it's the replaceable dropout blowing up (by design) well before the derailleur itself does anything. So I don't see how a sram or campy derailleur would change anything, unless you think a SRAM one is more likely to shift into the spokes because of some reason.