Friday, August 8, 2014

3000 Miles

Approaching the 3000 mile mark on my Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc this week. Just swapped out the original drivetrain and still running the second set of Schwalbe Racing Ralph's. The chain had elongated only 1/16th inch, but there was some funky chain-flying-off-the-big-ring business going on when stomping on the pedals. Perhaps it was some of the teeth on big ring being worn down almost to nubs. Can't complain. I've never gotten anywhere near that kind of mileage out of a MTB drivetrain before.

So what gives? I started using a different lube. Last year when Dave and I hit Utah, the moon dust trails there quickly rendered the wet lube I've always used here in the northeast useless. Over the Edge Sports bike shop in Fruita recommended Rock 'n Roll Extreme lube for riding out there. It worked. It is a dry lube, meaning it dries up leaving a waxy residue on/in your chain. This holds up to dusty conditions well, but not wetter New England conditions. Or at least I thought. I took the remaining lube home and continued using it.

What I immediately recognized is how clean your chain stays. Zero gunk buildup. In fact, I stopped cleaning it altogether, which was a messy deal with petro-based wet lubes. Instead, when the chain started to get a bit dry, I just added more lube and wiped it down. Done in 60 seconds. The bike went out to Arizona with me this spring and saw many hundreds of dusty miles there. Then there were many 50+ mile rides locally in not so clean conditions. The drivetrain refused to show wear. It wasn't until it started misbehaving that I replaced the cassette, rings and chain.  I'll still use wet lube on my fendered winter bike, but for mostly dry trail riding, this dry lube seems to really be the ticket.

Then there are the tires. How do I average 1500 miles on a set of Racing Ralph's? Actually, on the 2.35" snakeskin version I'm running now, I could probably squeeze 2000 miles out of them. People have asked me "are you riding only on sand?" While I may not ride rough, rocky terrain every time I go out, there were certainly several hundred very hard miles on my current set of tires riding Tucson and Sedona this spring. Riding style maybe? I rarely ever skid the tires. I do hit a fare amount of pavement, which can wear some tires down quickly. I'll put my third set of Racking Ralph's on the Tallboy before the bike ships out to Colorado in a couple weeks.

Needless to say, I've been quite happy with the bike. Most weeks I spend more hours on the Tallboy than all my others combined.  I've been mostly trail riding this summer and have nearly abandoned any structured training. Mt Washington in a week will be interesting. Certainly no goals, other than to enjoy the climb and the company of other like-minded souls. Between being busy at work and helping my son through a life challenge, there is little mental energy left to worry about VOmax reps or hitting Ascutney for "training." In fact, the only climb, or race for that matter, that I've hit so far this year is Mt Wachusett. Do I miss racing? A little bit. Do I need racing to maintain my motivation to state fit? Absolutely not! I've done way more spirited pace 50+ mile MTB rides already this year than I have done in any prior entire year. What I may lack in top-end is probably gained in endurance. Looking forward to even longer rides this season.

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