Thursday, May 18, 2017

BPTS17 #1 - Where'd all these juniors come from??

Let me just say how excited I am to have completed a race upright. It's funny how little things can creep into your brain, but having wrecked 3 times already this year with 2 broken ribs, I was starting to get a little gun-shy of taking chances, or of riding in groups at all.

So this was going to be a simple race recap about how a bunch of kids from Miller School and Endorphin Fitness showed up with their coaching staff and put down a 25.x mph thrashing on us. Tales of glory would then have unfolded about attacks, counterattacks, and pointless ventures into the wind. It would have ended with me recounting a futile effort to block an inside line that nobody was pursuing, that ultimately took me out of sprinting contention on the final lap.

But that's not what ended up being the story. The story was equipment. And not just one piece, either.

For several weeks, I've noticed a smidgeon of drag in the Blue's drivetrain. When I last put it together, the bearings were so smooth it would ghost-pedal walking it down the street. Lately that effect wasn't happening at all, even if I rolled the bike up to lunacy speed on the stand and let go of the pedals, they would just stop. That's normal on most bikes, but not on my race bike.

I had thought maybe it was the freehub bearing, or possibly that my bottom bracket was due for a re-grease, but the cranks still turned freely, they just wouldn't ghost-pedal. I compared the relative resistance to my other steeds, and it didn't feel too out of whack, so I figured I could just let it ride for a while. And my power numbers were looking really good, but not exponentially higher (nothing implying a serious problem with the driveline).

But then I struggled at Wintergreen. I got hard dropped on a group ride. I felt like a dying fish at Bryan Park. Something was not right.

So yesterday I went out to the garage and re-tried my usual friction tests: one-finger reverse turning the cranks, back-spinning the wheel on different bikes in the same gear, and holy crap the thing only turned the cranks 1 revolution. The commuter managed 2.5 revolutions on much cheaper components.

I pulled the crankset, and the drive-side bottom bracket bearing was seized. It would rock back & forth about 3-degrees, but it would not turn no matter what I tried.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't typically have a set of spare ceramic 2437 ABEC-5 bearings sitting around, so while I immediately went in and ordered a new (expensive) set, I also knew this set had to be unstuck.

I pulled the seals and found no grease at all inside. The cranks had been turning on a thin layer of grease between the crankset-axle and the inner bearing race. 25.x mph over 30 minutes with a bearing completely seized? That'll slow you down a bit. It's a wonder the DA7900 crankset isn't deeply notched (and thank goodness, because I'm getting sick of throwing money at this bike, and it's one of only 5 parts I haven't replaced!)

I pulled the plastic carrier and worked the races until the whole assembly turned, grinding and begrudgingly, then chased the balls to one side and dumped the whole lot of it in a cup of solvent.

After a thorough scrub-down and drying of all the pieces, I dropped the balls back into the badly-scored outer race, re-seated the inner, spaced and re-inserted the carrier, then greased the ever-living shit out of everything with Redine CV-2. There's still a "feel" to the bearing, but now it spins freely.

I regreased the rest of everything and put it all back together, and now it ghost-pedals like a madman. Back-spinning the rear wheel turns the cranks closer to 5 or 6 full revs.

So that was one issue resolved(ish), but my trusty Garmin Edge 520 also decided Tuesday night was as good a time as any to start switching off randomly. First in the warm-up, then in the race, it  would record a couple of minutes and die. So I had to find out later how fast the whole thing was, which really pissed me off. I kind of rely on that thing to give me critical information about heart-rate, sustained power output, and other good info that I can review later to formulate future strategies.

Crazy thing was mine wasn't the only one that died during the race, which leads me to believe there may be a bug with the most recent 11.10 software. A full factory reset seems to have the unit working now, but that can't continue to happen during races, or I may have to start looking at other solutions.

Anyway, yadda yadda, bunch of juniors came out and beat up on us for 30 minutes, but we held on and were there in the end, just with no punch left. Finished just outside the top 10, and now my bike is in fighting shape for next time.

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