27 March, 2009


I seem to have caught a cold – not uncommon for this time of year. Thankfully it comes now and not in the middle of my busy April of racing. I’ve been off the bike since Tuesday, but should be riding today and this weekend, and will hopefully be back to normal by mid-next week. I should not be set back much as far as Good Friday goes, and probably not at all for Paris-Ancaster.

I’m eager to do some off-road riding again, but seemingly not as eager as most people I talk to. That probably has something to do with the new road bike that has kept me happy on the pavement these days. Mostly I am concerned about the limited amount of mtb time I will have before the first O-Cup at Mansfield. As long as I can do a few rides to get my handling skills back up to par I should be alright.

20 March, 2009

Meet the bikes, Spring '09 edition

I took some nice photos of the bikes finally, tonight, and thought I'd take this opportunity to post up what I've got in the basement these days. Click each photo to view it in larger sizes on flickr.

I'll give a brief spec rundown on each. For complete details see the "New Bike" posts for the 29er and road bike. Expect an update on the 29er after Paris-Ancaster when it gets back into its XC race clothes.

First up, the oldest of the bunch, my Trek 8000. When I got my 29er last year, the Trek took a secondary role as my winter/beater mtb. It was singlespeed for most of that time, but this year I decided to put gears on: 1x9 with 32t front and 11-32 out back, using a Tiagra rear derailleur and Dura-Ace barend shifter. On-One midge bars, Zion rigid fork and Nokian studded tires round out the equipment making this bike suited to icy singletrack. Needless to say, its time of year is on the way out, but I may throw some non-studded tires on and ride it from time to time.

Next up is the 29er, my main mtb rig. Right now, however, it's set up in gravel grinder mode for the Paris-Ancaster 60km race, with semi-slick touring tires (Continental Travel Contact) and a triple/12-27 drivetrain (I normally run 2x9 with 24/38t rings for mtb). I won't be seeing the 22t for P-A, but it's on there so I can do some mtb riding with my other wheels if desired. The tires may be heavy, but they will not flat. Catastrophic tire failure took me out of the race just before halfway last year, so I decided that finishing slightly slower on account of heavy tires was better than not finishing at all. The best part is that they are totally bulletproof and I can ride through all the road debris I want and not even think about flatting.

gravel grinder machine

Finally, more pictures of the new road bike. See my last post for full specs. The rest speaks for itself.

16 March, 2009

New Bike: True North Cycles custom road bike

With some serious fit issues on my cross bike (Kona Major Jake) I knew some changes would have to be made. After looking at the geometry of just about every cross frame on the market I found that none have enough headtube height for my position at a top tube length I could work with. It was clear I needed to talk to True North, as they set me up with an awesome mountain bike last year and I really think Hugh's work is the best around.

The thought came to me to get a road bike this spring, and then swap parts from it to the cross frame in the fall. I again went in search of a stock bike and found none that fit. The best would have been a Specialized Roubaix Expert and in the end I decided I'd prefer a custom steel frame to the Roubaix. The result is this:

(click for larger)

Not the best picture, but it gives you the general idea. The finish is clear powdercoat over the raw steel, and it looks great. Better pictures or a close view in person reveals lots of colour in the HAZ around each weld. Hugh welded on stops that he normally brazes only doing the derailleur tab and bottle cage nuts with brass. The full build is below:
Tubeset: Columbus Spirit
Alpha Q CS20

Chris King nothreadset
Stem: Race Face Revolution 100mm/8°
Bar: 3T Ergosum Pro 44cm
Tape: SRAM Supercork (white)
Seatpost: Race Face Revolution
Saddle: fi'zi:k Antares k:ium
Pedals: Look KeO Sprint
Bottle Cages: Arundel Dave-O matte carbon

Crankset: Ultegra SL 53/39 175mm
Bottom Bracket: Chris King
Front Derailleur: SRAM Rival
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Rival
Shifters: SRAM Rival (updated '09 version)
Cassette: SRAM OG1070 11-26
Chain: KMC X10-SL
Cable housing: Jagwire 4mm LEX der. housing/5mm CEX brake housing (white)

Brakes: SRAM Rival

Hubs: Dura-Ace 7403 rear/Suntour Superbe Pro front
Rims: Velocity Aerohead
Spokes: DT Swiss Competition
Skewers: KCNC Ti
Tires: Vittoria Open Pave CG 290TPI 24c
Continental Supersonic (sub 50g)

It comes in around 8.3 kg as configured, and could be a lot lighter with some more race worthy wheels.

Of course to go with a new road bike I needed shoes and pedals, and the bike show this weekend was a perfect opportunity to find those:

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

I took it out for a quick ride last night, and the initial impression is that it rides nicer than I could have imagined. The components (notably the 290 TPI tires) certainly contribute to this, but I can't discount the ride quality of steel and the feel that can only come from a custom frame that fits perfectly. I'll be doing some component reviews throughout the spring as I get used to the new gear.

10 March, 2009

2009 Race Plans

You will notice that the 'tentative' label for my race schedule to the right is gone, so I'm calling this schedule somewhat firm. Registration is complete for Paris-Ancaster and the O-Cup XC series. The road season I will let unfold as it goes, but I am looking forward to Westover and K/W will be a local race when I'm in Waterloo for the summer. I might get talked into doing some more road races; we'll see.

Following all that will be cross, which is what I am putting my focus on as far as goals this season. Road and mtb will just be preparation, though I do have some side-goals that I'd like to attain but would not be too bummed if I didn't. What matters is getting some results in cross. Winning a race at least. Just when I start seeing said results is likely when I'll upgrade to hang with the big guys, and once again work just to hang on the back. I'm stoked about this challenge, and about seeing if I can really make it happen.

Training feels like it's way behind schedule, but I keep telling myself everyone feels that way at this time of year. Then I get on the bike and ride... some days. Hopefully soon I can start putting the volume in to build up to race condition. I feel good on the bike these days which is good, but I have to be careful to avoid injury as I have a few weaknesses which have a tendency to make themselves obvious at the beginning of the season.

I will talk a bit more about goals and training in later posts. For now - the bike show is this weekend, and my new machine is all ready to be shown there before I get to ride it. I will post about it after the show, so for the first look at it you'll have to go to the show and check out the True North booth.

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