Monday, January 08, 2018

Quick Guide to Trek's Road Bike Naming Standards

I have a lot of trouble keeping up with people talking about Trek's road bikes. Maybe it's because I'm just the teensiest bit dyslexic, but to be fair, picking all your product names out of the same 6-letter hat is kind of a dick move. So with a fantastic suggestion from a teammate, I'm going to make a cheat-sheet with some potential future model names just to keep track of it all.

Current line:
Madone - the racing bike
Emonda - the climbing bike
Domane - the endurance bike

Potential future models:
Nomade - the touring bike (h/t D. Riddle)
Meando - the hybrid touring bike
Demona - the bike that looks very fast but isn't, and is always in the shop for go-fast parts
Endoma - the indoor trainer (Esperanto joke)
Odamne - the sexy as hell bike that you can't afford
Odeman - the only bike you're able to ride by the time you can afford the Odamne

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parts-hungry Fuji is hungry again

In 14 months of ownership, I've put 4300 miles on my 2016 Fuji Roubaix 2.0. It's not a great bike, but it ticked the right boxes: light(ish), cheap(ish), braze-ons for a rack. I've griped about it a bit in the past, but in general the thing was rock solid for the first 8 months, with only a bottom bracket and a chain worn through with frequent commutes.

But summer hit, and with it came much higher mileage. The next bottom bracket lasted only about 4 months, and my fancy bar-tape unraveled 6 times, which pissed me off to no end. The replacement chain is dead @ 75% wear right now, but that's to be expected. Hell: this one lasted 800 miles more than the original (note to self: KMC makes a heck of a chain!).

Still, though, just bottom brackets and chains? Not too bad. My tires were showing serious signs of wear, like a totally flat tread on the rear tire. That changed last week when I noticed a gash on the sidewall with tube sticking out. I guess I dodged a bullet, because I was able to get home on the bike, but about that same time I started noticing the shifting getting really sloppy at the front.

A quick check revealed a big ring that looked like it had been through hell and back. Every 5th tooth or so was worn down almost flat. That's nuts, because the Blue Axino's DA7900 chainset has gotten 7000 miles of use under my legs, and several thousand miles from the previous owner, and it's in better shape. And that f*ing chainset is BENT. Best estimates put that guy at almost 17K miles, and still rolling strong, and I can't get 4500 miles out of a set of Praxis rings. Not a very good return on investment, but then I do subject the Fuji to weather conditions the Blue will never see.

A quick trip to my local big-box bike retailer for discount tires turned up a happy surprise: they're now carrying the bike's stock chain rings as replacement parts! Woot! And on sale! And with a bonus coupon!

So this bike may still be a middling confused mess of a platform (is it a race bike? why the hell does it have rack mounts? and why do they interfere with the drop-outs? why is the wheelbase a full 15mm shorter than my purpose-built crit bike? why is the head-tube so freaking short? why is it so damned rigid and called a "Roubaix"?), but at least it's staying on the cheapish side to keep it rolling.

Monday, December 04, 2017

A terrible weekend racing bikes is still a pretty great weekend

Friday night, for the 2nd time this year, I threw my back out doing nothing at all other than just being old. Being old is stupid and should be avoided whenever possible. I was fine at the bottom of the driveway when I checked the mail, but when I parked I was in agony. By the time I was ready for bed, I'd taken a fistful of ibuprofen and had a heating pad on. A Saturday with 2 cyclocross races did not seem a very exciting proposition.

Alastair and I got the truck packed and got there with plenty of time, then proceeded to lose a lot of time to my inability to carry anything or pull bikes out of the truck. Then we lost time at registration, where they couldn't find my 2nd race number. Then we lost time, lost time, lost time. I managed to get Alastair out just long enough to get half a lap of practice in while I scrambled into my skinsuit and pinned my number, but I was running late.

My watch told me I had just enough time to hit the porta-loo, and that's when I learned a really neat lesson about skinsuits: they are not porta-potty friendly. The temp was low enough that I had a thermal jersey over it, so I tried to treat the think like a regular bib. No dice. Just as I finished getting "down to business", I heard the faint sound of a whistle. Well, crap. No sense rushing a miracle, I finished and sped across the park to the starting area, where nobody was interested in telling me how or where to get rolling. And then a couple of turns were...curiously under-marked. By the time I had my heart-rate up, the leaders were well into their race.

I figured there was no sense giving up, as riders would get shelled off the back pretty quickly, and indeed I managed to pick off at least 2 riders every lap. Not great, but better than DFL. I never caught the main pack. Hell I never even SAW the main pack, but I went as hard and fast as I could by myself for 30 minutes. Ultimately my lap-times were competitive for the 4/5 race, just several minutes behind everyone else's.

The guy across from me was in the Army. He says one of their big mantras is: "If you're early,  you're on time; if you're on time, you're late; if you're late, you're left." Well: lesson learned.

I headed back to the paddock to lots of embarrassing questions and comments about timeliness, and proceeded to freeze in the sweat trapped in the skinsuit.

Alastair, meanwhile, embarked on his double-header of a cyclocross race followed immediately by a mountain bike race. He has not figured out the importance of a strong start and faded quickly in both races. He really enjoyed the 'cross race and hated the mountain bike race, claiming that he felt unable to apply power on the mountain bike. A review of his lap times showed that he was actually 16 seconds faster on his first mountain bike lap, but I'm guessing he felt slower because it was smoother, and then just backed off because he didn't feel like he had it working.

Either way, after 1 hour of racing 'cross, the boy was DONE.

I lined up later for my 2nd and final race of the day (first time I'd ever done a double-header, too). I learned my lesson racing Masters 1 - 4 and won't do that again, but a 3/4 race seemed right in my wheelhouse, especially after doing fairly well at DCCX Masters 3/4/5. I made it to the start on time, but I suck at 'cross hole-shot starts. I got spit out the back by the 2nd turn, and while I managed decently quick laps (most faster than in my first "race" of the day), I just couldn't pull the group back.

I sat on E. Halverson's wheel for the first 2 laps, pulling in 1 or 2 guys, and then he just rolled away from me. With only a couple of guys staying a stable distance behind, and no hope of catching back up, I settled into a fatigued rhythm and just held on.

With 2 laps to go, my back decided it was done. I could ride, but it was getting really tough to climb the only obstacle that required a dismount: a 23-step staircase. Earlier in the day it was uncomfortable, but now it was excruciating. The last time up the stairs I nearly collapsed, and I was almost grateful when my front tire flatted a couple minutes later. Granted it was the last lap, and I did limp it home, but I was done, the bike was done, and it was time to acknowledge being an old man.

The only thing I could really take away from that race was that I finished on the lead lap.

But I gotta be honest: as much as it sucked, I kinda loved it. Yesterday I could barely walk from the pain in my back, but I'm jazzed that I get to race again this weekend. I just have to make the start.