Archive for the 'Riding – CX – MTB' Category

Global Bike to Work Day… or… Bike-to-Work Day in the USA?

How about both? Gotta do one out of reverence for Strava and their decision to host the challenge globally and gotta do the other out of patriotism, US ranking.  See, this might not be a real hard decision for anyone with a 15 mile commute.  I have to go 45 miles one way.   Notice I didn’t say kilometers.  I did it in 2:42 last year but only once, the global challenge.  This year I suppose I’ll do both because I’m not sure which is official?  Should we get the UCI and USA Cycling involved?  It can’t get anymore convoluted.

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Went for a ride, made the news.  Good news too!

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Very little faith left in Strava rankings. GPS variance may be to blame.

Got some first hand experience in the reliability of Strava rankings this weekend.  Might be due to GPS variance but there may be more to it.  Data collection and analysis may have something to do with it too.  Either way, myself and others know the truth as of this weekends results.  I give you exhibit A, a segment known as Riverview KOM.  This is the result of my riding partners upload.   Notice anything strange?

21.7 avg. yet 19 MPH max.?

How did Juan average 21.7 MPH when his max speed on the segment was 19 MPH?  Even better… how did these results rank him at 26th when all present on the ride know I chased a slower rider in a forward group to the top of this hill segment, in a brazen attempt to see if I could summit first and then I literally waited at the top of the hill for Juan to get to the top.  I stopped and waited.  And it wasn’t even recorded as my personal fasted time on that segment by my GPS.  So is my Garmin Edge 500 to blame?  Or is Juan’s iPhone 4s the culprit?  The next questionable segment sheds some light on the blame.

Here is another very odd result of this ride that does in fact decide a KOM.  I’m happy, almost proud, Juan got this KOM because it was his first ever but…. there’s another problem.  I pulled Juan on this segment.  The entire segment and in fact the entire road the segment is part of.  His first comment to me upon seeing this KOM was “but you pulled me”.   This was so close that I can only attribute the 10th of a second difference to GPS variance because I was indeed in front, and occasionally creating separation up to 2-3 bike lengths that Juan would have to make up.  Further segment analysis proves data collection is the likely offender.

Here are the results of this KOM segment shown from Juan’s Strava profile and my own.  Notice Juan’s top speed, 44.3 MPH.  I assure you we never did 44 MPH on this segment.  I’m confident because my bike was in front and my GPS reflects the more accurate 27.5 MPH top speed leaving me to believe it was Juan’s iPhone 4s skewing the results, giving Juan the KOM.

Top speed 27 MPH.

Before jealousy and animosity are presumed please understand while I care if the rankings are correct, I could not care less if they result in accolades for myself.  Like I said I’m happier Juan got his first KOM regardless of how it occurred technically than if I got another.  However I will no longer put a lot of faith in top Strava rankings separated by a second or two since I now have personal experience and first hand evidence there is some level of GPS reliability or data analysis skewing results.

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40 miles later…. the office. Can I keep going?

Can I keep going?

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All terrain ride to work today…

Little bit of everything today

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Going to get a new frame and it will NOT be BB30. PF30 bottom brackets creak.

BB30 and PF30 bottom brackets… The darlings of carbon frame manufacturers. The excuse is they allow for the use of larger downtube layups. Bullshit says I. They allow for less expensive manufacturing processes at the expense of creaking bottom brackets worldwide. Leaving the expense of threading to the PF30 bottom bracket manufacturers. I had an aluminum Jamis Dakota mountain bike frame that was BB30 and never could stop the creaking. Flash forward a year and everyone I know, even the top riders in the RTP area complain about the incessant creaking and maintenance.

Problem is almost all the manufactures of carbon frames have elected to go on the cheap. Same goes for the Shimano BB92 press fit. Nothing will be pressed into my frame but the headset cups (assuming it’s non-integrated). So I’ve started look at steel, like Gunnar. eBay has a few barely used CX frames that are carbon and threaded, but used. Doesn’t really matter what I have to resort to I don’t want to deal with the headache of BB30/PF30 maintenance on a cross bike any more than I want to deal with the hassle of disc brakes. I leave those to mountain bikes where they really do make a difference. Never had a problem stopping with canti’s on my CX. Old school? Nope. Just not high maintenance.

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BMX will be dead in America in one generation.

Connor really wants to get into BMX on his own accord but I’m starting to think it’s a bad idea.  Doesn’t seem to be anything near like it was when we were growing up.  Tracks are now privately operated and always closed, the local track is only open for paid practices on Thurs. at 5-7PM.  I suppose it’s now sport for parents without jobs?  He hasn’t even been able to get exposure to a track thanks to access limitations.   Local races are now cancelled when there’s any state points race held anywhere, testament to anemic participation.  I’ve got to go tell him for the 4th time he can’t go today because of rain or another cancellation due to a “state race” somewhere.

I’ve already had some run-ins with parents and race organizers, in person and on-line, who seem less than cordial, expecting pats on the back after making big mistakes the likes of which cannot be made by other USAC officials at sanctioned races without total points disqualification.  To be clear cyclocross, MTB and USAC road officials are volunteers too but somehow manage to avoid total amateur hour.

Now that BMX is an Olympic sport plan to watch the USA continue to get crushed beyond belief by Europeans, mostly Germans, where all cycling is taken very seriously.  In Europe BMX is heavily organized with plenty of tracks still staffed by municipal (ya, government) employees.  Can you say “not for profit”? I don’t know if the private operation in America was because of municipal operators like the City of Raleigh trying to offset liability or because operators thought they could make money?   Regardless, it’s not working.

Sad we start these sports in America, Mountain biking and BMX, but now we can’t get riders anywhere near the podium.  I can now tell this is not due to lack of interest but a failure of how the BMX is promoted, how tracks are operated (privately) and the lack of real training and experience of the officials.  BMX operators would be wise to embrace USAC and the UCI, go to races for other cycling events and see the organization first hand.  If these current track operators had to deal with the number of riders and size of races in the 80s and 90s they would be quickly overwhelmed.

Here’s another odd thing: It seems there aren’t many older kids in BMX (12-16 years old).  Almost comes off like a bunch of dads trying to relive the 80’s by pushing their young kids into it so they have an excuse to go race their own cruisers.  I kept racing bikes, moved to other advanced cycling disciplines.  I never talked Connor into BMX, just built him a bike.  His friend across the street got a dump truck full of dirt delivered last week to build their own jumps.  It’s their interest.  Sad when they want in but can’t easily participate because of massive access restrictions.  Ya, ya… there’s a new super track in South Carolina.  Rumor has it those officials are in over their heads too.  If USA Cycling wants BMX to flourish in America again they better reign it in.  Under the current operating model BMX is gone from America in a generation, no doubt about it.  I better build Connor the cyclocross bike he’s been asking about.  The junior CX division is getting big.

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It’s hard to find a new carbon cyclocross frame with cantilever mounts.

Specialized has a carbon Crux Pro available for around $2300.  There are several steel and titanium framesets still available with cantilever brake mounts, my favorite being the Ritchey Swisscross, which I am seriously considering.  No secret that by and large manufactures have aborted cantilever brakes on cross bikes in favor of discs.  Here’s all the advantages of disc brakes:

  1. They stop better.  This may give you more confidence, improving performance.
  2. They may clear mud better than cantis.  Gravel grinding this is less of an issue unless conditions are real bad.
  3. Usually quieter under load.

Here are the advantages cantilever brakes provide me personally over discs:

  1. Lighter
  2. Easier to adjust and maintain (this is subjective but I have no problems).
  3. Quieter when not in use, or loaded
  4. No bent rotors rubbing the pads.
  5. It’s easier to take the wheels on and off without risk of rotor damage.  I remove a wheel daily to put the bike on the rack.

Overall canti’s have always been a better option for my riding conditions and maintenance requirements.  I’m not heavy and I’ve only had one instance when a rear canti failed and therefore inhibited my braking power.  Other people may have factors in play guiding the opposite.  Regardless, I wish there was still a better selection of carbon frames with cantilever mounts and reasonable price tags.

 

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83 Miles on the Greenway

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Still undecided about the mountain bike…

I still own my Jamis D29 even though I’ve spent months convincing myself I should sell it. Now the news comes that the trails at Lake Crabtree could be closed within the next couple of years. I brought it with me to ride today. Taking one more stab at making the 29er fun. Hell, I’m not even convinced the geometry of the bike is right for me despite various stem changes and bar layouts.

There is a hot Salsa Chili Con Corso cross frame on ebay right now for $449. It would be a sweet frame to build with spare parts I already own. I’d like to have flat bar and a drop bar cross bike. I could sell the Jamis and have money left over. But it is such a pain in the ass to sell and ship a bike.

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