27 April, 2009

Chainsuck

Reflecting on what led to my DNF yesterday, it is pretty clear that the chain was damaged when I had some chainsuck and had to un-jam the chain from between the chainring and my frame. The reason I am posting this is to seek opinions on what I should have done differently to avoid this situation.

I’ve always had pretty bad experiences with chainsuck in muddy conditions regardless of the chain, lube and chainrings used. I’ve used the cheapest of chains at times, but in this case was using a Dura-Ace chain in the middle of its lifespan with brand new TA Specialties chainrings. By all rights this should be a failproof setup. In my experience, however, new chainrings seem to be the most problematic and chainsuck becomes much less of an issue after they have been worn in a bit. I don’t let my chainrings get so worn that they are hooked, but I imagine that this would be even worse than a new chainring. I have had some success in the past with simulating the wear in period on chainrings by filing down any excessively sharp corners, burrs, etc. so I may try that on my new rings.

In any case, chainsuck is not uncommon, especially for people who ride in mud a lot (why would you do this?) and has prompted the writing of extensive articles such as this one. I tend not to ride in the mud, but occasionally I am forced to race in the rain. I think that riders who ride in wet conditions are better prepared either with their shifting technique, choice of or application style of chain lube or with the accelerated wear on their drivetrain, and probably experience these problems less.

So should I have used a heavy, sloppy chain lube to try to keep the mud off my chain? Would I have had better luck had my chainrings had half a season of gentle wear on them? I’d like to hear your experiences so please post if you have any.

26 April, 2009

Race report backlog: Paris-Ancaster and Mansfield O-Cup

Paris to Ancaster really deserves a proper race report, but a week later with another race already done it seems silly to write one. As everyone who was there knows, it was cold and windy. Very windy - in our faces for most of the race. I also had a pretty bad cold, which left my lungs a bit lacking. Aside from that I had a decent race, with no mechanicals or crashes, and what is in retrospect not a terrible finish time given the conditions (weather and health).

On to today, the first mtb O-Cup at Mansfield. I got to preride the course yesterday, and confirmed my love for Mansfield as a race venue. I thought the course was great, and offered a lot of flow with all the challenging climbing coming in the first half leaving the rest for fun. It became obvious in the afternoon that the weather forecast was going to be correct, and we would see rain on Sunday. After driving to Mansfield in the rain, I mostly hid in the car whenever it began to rain hard and about an hour before my race decided to get changed and try to warm up. Just as I did, it rained quite hard, leaving me soaked and cold.

I rolled up to the start time feeling pretty cold and not too snappy, but optimistic for the race. The start was not too bad, taking an easy pace up the hill so as not to blow up. About 10-15 minutes into the race on a doubletrack climb I got some bad chainsuck, and had to pull over to rectify that. I knew my chain was probably damaged, but kept going... at the top of the hill, I must have broken my chain when I pushed over the top, and left it behind. At the bottom of the hill I had no chain, and I knew my race was over. I notified the marshall to radio in my mechanical, and ran/coasted back to the car.

It's a crappy way to start my mtb season, but these things happen... I will just want to try that much harder for Albion in 2 weeks.

10 April, 2009

Race Report: Good Friday Road Races

I'll keep this one pretty brief.

My first (real) road race - I was not sure what I could expect in terms of results, but I knew my training has been pretty good this spring. The mixed M3/S4 field was huge with 149 starters. The sketch factor was out in full force and the smell of brakes was in the air in the first minutes of the race. I narrowly avoided a crash on Middletown road, and got into the drumlins with the peloton.

From there I was able to stay sheltered and close enough to the front to avoid any excitement and stay connected on the drumlins. On lap 3 I was feeling good so I moved up on the final climb to find myself leading the race for the descent and a short while after. I sat up not wanting to do too much work, and grabbed a wheel after a few people passed.

As we came down Brock road to the finish the pace was increasing and I was sitting maybe 10th wheel, and suddenly there were people and bikes all over the road. I was able to stop more or less in time, but got run into and involved in a pile. After getting up, putting my chain back on and opening up my brakes I spun in for a mediocre 17th place, 2m40s down from the winner.

Casualties:

  • 1 3T handlebar
  • 1 fresh roll of fi:zi'k bar:tape (installed last night)
  • 20 minutes of wheel truing time
  • my chance at seeing how I'd do in the sprint finish

07 April, 2009

Race season is here!

Last weekend saw what most would call the start to the race season in Southern Ontario with the Tour of Pelham, Uxbridge Icebreaker and WOW Hilton Falls All Weather Challenge. I chose to sit out these events in favour of some spectating at the ToP and a training ride on Sunday with a group made up mostly of people affiliated with my new club/team. This is I suppose the first I’ve mentioned it explicitly on this blog – I will be racing with The Hub Race Team (formerly The Hub Bicycle Club). They’re a very cool bunch of people, and I felt that they were a better fit than racing for my home club (SCCC) due to their appreciation for various disciplines (road, mtb, cross) and the fact that I will be in the K/W area much more than I will be in Niagara to train with the SCCC. Look for a Hub Race Team website release later this month, and some new team kit in May.

For me the racing season will start with the Good Friday Road Races put on by the Hamilton Cycling Club this Friday on the Westover-Strabane loop near Flamborough. Our ride on Sunday took us from Cambridge out to the race course to check it out. The terrain was rolling for the entire ride and the pace quick, which made for a good effort. The course itself surprised me with the grade of some of the hills, but they’re short enough that they should not be a huge detriment to my race. The course will definitely favour a rider who can get up the hills with some big power and then put the hammer down for a flat finish. We’ll see how I do in what is essentially my debut to road racing. Training is coming along well, if not a bit behind schedule. I feel my endurance is good, there's still room for more power development and I have yet to test out the tech skills on the mtb at all this season. Hopefully there will be enough time before the first race to dust off the mtb skills and test some equipment changes. Weight loss is also a bit behind, but my strength is up so my climbing has not suffered. I'd really like to get down to my low weight from last season early this year and keep going to a good race weight though. We'll see.

I'm excited to start the race season, as I'm sure everyone is at this time of year. It will be interested to see how things go as I develop in what is my second season of really racing, and my first hitting up the O-Cup circuits in a serious way.

01 April, 2009

Sickness (mostly) gone, getting ready to race

My cold seems to have passed, except I'm still coughing a bit, and my nose is still running. I feel great though (especially in comparison) and there was really only a couple days interruption to my training.

I've been getting in lots of ride time, and for the most part it has been quality riding. I feel that my aerobic endurance is where it needs to be for any of the races I have planned, and my power is good. Top end may be a bit lacking, and my ability to sustain at threshold is not as good as it will be at peak. For this early in the season though, I think I am good. I have no idea how I will do in the first few races, but I would love to see some good results on Good Friday and at Paris-Ancaster.

I will be out spectating at the Tour of Pelham this weekend and then heading to K/W for some socializing and a hammer ride out of Cambridge on Sunday with the Hub guys and others. It's supposed to be a long hard ride, and should be a good test - worth missing the usual SCCC ride for which says a lot. Next week I will back off on the volume a bit and focus on some power workouts and getting quality rest and recovery. Hopefully my legs are there when the Westover-Strabane drumlins call.

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