Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bike issues

Work has been eating into my internet time lately. Things could stay that way for a while. Better than the alternative, I suppose. Not much on the news front anyway.

Three of my mountain bikes are out of commission right now. Last weekend I had another one of those stick sucks derailleur into spokes catastrophes. This happened on my Titus Racer-X riding at Otis. It wasn't quite as bad when this happened to my Dean Colonel riding at Trail of Tears a year ago. That time I sheared off the derailleur, broke the cable, housing, hanger and chain, but no spokes.  I have bad luck with derailleurs on the Cape. When you consider that I go with singlespeed most of the time, the probability is really high I'll have to sink major cash into my bike when I bring gears. I managed to get my Racer-X working well enough to ride back out. I didn't shear the derailleur completely off, and I snapped only one spoke.

When I built up the Racer-X, I ordered extra Shimano XTR spokes. The factory built wheels use totally custom spokes, and they can only be ordered from Shimano through an authorized dealer. I paid an outrageous sum for five of each length. My derailleur was toast, a brand new Shimano XT Shadow I just put on there. The derailleur hanger was salvageable. I figured a few minutes on the truing stand, I'd have the wheel in good-as-new shape. But no. The spokes are straight pull. The hub end of the spoke is threaded like a regular spoke is for nipples, but it does not thread directly into the hub like Velomax wheels did. A miniscule ferrule threads onto the spoke, and this wedges the spoke into the conical spoke hole in the hub. The ferrules do not come with the spokes, and I lost it in the woods. Do you think any retailer on the planet would have these in stock? Nope. IBC had to place an order with Shimano for me. My dualie is sidelined for a part that is a tenth the size of a spoke nipple. Really blows. I could pull a rear wheel from another bike, but...

My Dean Colonel hardtail is down too. The Mavic Crossmax SL rear hub tossed its cookies. A little research shows the plastic bushing they use in many of their hubs wears out quickly, causing a loose cassette and ghost shifting. I also discovered the main bearing on the non-drive side is toast. More expensive parts and long wait to receive them. That's two bikes out due to rear wheel issues.

My Dean Colonel SS is not operational now either. The Stan's sealant in the tires went dry, and now they don't hold air well anymore. This is nothing more than routine maintenance, and if I had more time, like by not blogging right now, maybe I'd take care of this issue. The rear wheel is even stripped down right now, no cassette, brake rotor or tire. I took it to Tucson as a spare.  I keep more spare parts in my basement than some small bike shops.  These failures exposed holes in my normal high level of preparedness.

I still have my new Gary Fisher Superfly. Nothing wrong with it. Scared to take it out with the streak I'm on. Being a 29er, I have zero spare wheels should something happen. I'll probably be racing it in another week by default.

Here's the Battenkill dilemma I had to deal with. I bought a set of Michelin Pro 3 Race 25mm tires specifically for the Battenkill race. The new course direction last year put the willies in me with the 40-50mph off camber turns on loose as marbles gravel. I figured a quality clincher with a little more width would be less apt to knife into the looseness. I mounted them on my Rolf Prima Vigor wheels, which went on my Ridley Noah road bike. I been riding these tires for a week now. I love the compliant feel the extra millimeters give. The Ridley is a very stiff frame, and the bigger tires dampen out most of the road vibration. They seem to roll just as fast as the 23mm Michelin tires I normally ride. They should be faster on non-paved surfaces.

So here's the deal. The seat stay does not provide enough clearance for 25mm tires. I thought maybe a couple hundred miles on the tires would take the peak of the crown off, and I'd be good to go. Over the last couple days, I've hit bits of gravel. Even sand sticking to the tire is enough to scrape inside the brake arch. I'm guessing there is about 500um of clearance in there. That is about 0.02" or less than 1/32" for the dimensionally challenged. Heavy rain is expected tonight in New York. This potentially will produce superb gravel conditions for Saturday's race, but moisture in the gravel will cause my tires to pick some of it up, and all I will hear will be sand grating in my stay. Not sure if this would actually slow me down much, but it will certainly bug the heck out of me.  The rear 25mm tire came off. The fork has plenty of clearance, so I will race with 25mm up front, 23mm in back. I really wanted the wide tire up front anyway for control on the loosies. The bigger rear tire would have been nice for increased pinch flat margin.

There's a gap in there if you look really hard.

Am I being unreasonable in expecting to be able to run 25mm tires on my Ridley? There's not a whole lot of clearance for 23mm tires either. You'd think Ridley, of all bike companies, would design adequate tire clearance for less than ideal race conditions. I think this frame would seize up the rear wheel if used on the muddy cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix.

Other than a 25mm front tire, I will be running the same setup as last year - 38x27 minimum gear ratio, Michelin Pro 2/3 Race tires, Michelin latex tubes. My race starts after noon. Could be a cold day.  Might even see new snow again driving over on Rt 9 through Vermont. It is expected to be very windy. The Battenkill course is highly exposed to the wind. Makes for some tactically challenging conditions. Looking forward to it.


CB2 said...

Good luck!
Bicycle Quartery has done numerous test showing the superiority of wider lower pressure tires for all road conditions. But being a magazine of primarily randouneering / touring I doubt racer will look at it too seriously. However in the last year or two Velownews was testing a number of wider tubulars and they too felt wider was better, although the review felt for racing he'd still go for light weight.
Too bad you can't fit the 25 in the back but at least you'll have it up front.

rick is! said...

wow! that is tight. better have a totally true wheel!

Anonymous said...

What Rick said! I would hate to hit something hard and have a slight hop in my wheel. That could stop you dead in your tracks. Best of luck on Saturday.
Be Safe

Hill Junkie said...

Good point. I was thinking only of sand/mud clearance. The course can be littered with giant pot holes in the gravel. I remember one year, there must have been 50 water bottles in the road through one section early in the course, and I was in one of the earlier fields to go too. There were massive holes that you couldn't see in time riding in a pack of 100+ riders at 40mph downhill. The 25mm tire would have half a millimeter margin before rubber meets frame. It wouldn't take much of a hit at all to close up that gap. That would be a race stopper for sure.

Mookie said...

You're right, though, Ridley of all bike companies... I've actually fit 28's very comfortably on Em's IF. Per your rec, I'm running 25's front/rear on my cross rig- all 20# of her. Fated Cervelo has been up Hot Tubes for over a month. Hopefully it's done soon as I'm tired of getting slayed.

Seeing as you'll be in Italia (bastard) at end of May, I take it you're out for a Six Gapper this year? Or are you planning on a later date? (Don't worry, I promise I won't break my face again.)

See you tomorrow.

Hill Junkie said...

I'd like to do a 4-gap ride (Brandon, Mid, Lincoln, App) before heading to Italy. It would be more training oriented and less death march oriented. Probably not doing Sterling RR, so maybe May 8? Also might head down for the High Point Hill Climb on May 1 and then do afternoon ride in Bear Mountain area. I've wanted to check these out for a long time now. Drop me a note if interested. I probably post open invite here for a May gap ride if it happens.

Mookie said...

I'll get back to you on May 8th. May 1st I'll be up in Arlington camping. I'll more than likely do Kelly Stand loop that weekend. I know it's 3 wks away but have you heard anything of road conditions up there? I think a "John from Arlington" has commented here before.

Anonymous said...

Better off being comfortable and a little annoyed with the scraping noise. Tough to put power down when your not comfortable.
If it rains and things get sloppy the 25 tire will give you better stability and tend to float better in any muddy/loose sections.
Riding a pair of cheaper, heavier and wide tubulars have given me the best luck in the past. The tubulars still weigh much less than any clincher set up.
Not sure how your rear tire is going to hit the brake bridge on your bike. If that happens then your luck does suck.