Thursday, May 18, 2017

TCR Update

Whats up yall?  So I got the Giant built up and have put in 3 rides on it and am quite happy.  So what have I noticed between a newer carbon frame and an older aluminum frame?

1.  My Cannondale isn't much older than the TCR actually.  With that said, Cannondale knows a thing or two about building aluminum frames.  If I were to ever buy an aluminum frame it would be a Cannondale hands down.  Obviously seeing how that is exactly what I did.  They can be found for relatively cheap and be built up very light if you are a weight weenie.  Lets talk ride quality.  Honestly, it doesn't feel much different.  The handling is about the same though maybe a little more road vibration (less dampening).  However they both accelerate about the same, turn in feels about the same, and over all comfort is about the same.  The only difference I can tell as far as comfort is the fact that my stem is slightly lower on the TCR now as I got in my low profile bearing cover for the headset.  Oh, my bad...the Cannondale weighed in at 14 lbs 12 oz with my carbon wheels and the TCR is 14 lbs 10 oz on the same set up.

2.  Weight:  To my surprise, the TCR came in at just 2 oz lighter than the Synapse.  Granted the TCR is not the SL version which would have netted a little more weight savings.  However, the only difference in my build is the headset bearings, frame/fork, seatpost collar, and the noted headset top cover.  I think that speaks volume for an older aluminum frame!

3.  Pride:  I will admit that I have had a sense of pride riding either of them.  For the Cannondale I think it was a bit of the sleeper affect as well as the paint/color combo.  They never mass produced that frame in those colors so out here on the east cost (it came from TX) it is very rare and many people mentioned and questioned the colors.  The yellow decals simply glow against the matte black paint.  Then after the paint, they start to notice that it is a full Sram Red build with a bunch of custom parts added which for some reason simply blows their mind.  As for the TCR, I sort of feel like every other person out there with a black carbon frame build.  It just blends in with the crowd if you will.  However, it still has all the same trick parts on it and because it is a carbon frame no one really even bothers to look and just assumes, its a nice bike.  So for that part of it I'm somewhat proud.  Even more funny have asked me how much either has weighed.  Just yesterday a UPS driver actually got out of his truck at a traffic light to pick it up.  Said he was really into mountain biking but didn't believe me when I said it was under 15 lbs.  Can't say I have ever had that happen before.

So there it is!  Built up and rolling.  I did start getting some creaking yesterday towards the end of my little ride.  At the moment, I'm thinking that perhaps a chain ring bolt is loose but will also check the BB cups as well.

I was hoping to have a few other things to discuss here but I didn't have a chance to take pictures of them so I will put that together here soon enough.  Basically, I'm going to start reviewing a few parts and nick nacks that I have been using or tried out recently.  So I'll talk about my newer pair of shoes and how they compare to my older ones, my titanium spindles for my pedals, different seats, seat bags, brake/shifter cables, computer mount, and an update on my Chinese carbon rims pictured above.

Hope everyone gets out for a ride!  Stay active folks!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Whats New?

What's up all?  Figured I'd give an update as to what has been going down in my little cycling world.

So first of all I completed my organized 44 mile ride this past Saturday.  I say organized because in the cycling world we will all think century ride (which is what I'm training for) and for all other folks out there, think 5K run.  Sponsors, entry fee, rest stops, vendors...  The weather sucked for the most part with temps in the mid 50's, windy, drizzling rain off and on...  None the less all went well.  I stopped at a couple of the rest areas but never consumed any of what they had to offer.  I had my own nutrition plan and food/snacks on board as well as had a friend meet me at the 30 mile rest stop to restock.  All went well despite the weather conditions.

Quite happy with my training so far.  I was quite surprised at how well I rode up hills and while the ride was not a race I constantly found myself dropping people or gapping them on the climbs.  At the same time, I rode an average speed of 16.8 mph for the ride which is right on par with my training rides.  I honestly had to keep telling myself to slow down to the point that I found myself laughing at times.

So what's new with the bike?  Well, it is working great.  Rode my carbon wheels for the event and that went good as well.  It was windy but for some odd reason, I did not feel affected by it nearly as much as I did on my recovery ride the next morning and the winds were about the same.  My attempt at finding another saddle has been on hold and I did the ride with my original, narrow as F@#* Selle SLR saddle and it went well.  Guess my butt is just getting used to it again.  Aside from getting some crushed rock mess from a parking lot jammed up in my cleats making it difficult to get clipped in all went well mechanically speaking.

I will admit that yes, my butt was getting sore at about mile 35 or so as was my back and my legs were getting tired.  But most happy to report that I had no cramping what so ever so that is a win in my book.  So for now, I'll keep rolling with my training plan and add some different back exercises to my gym workouts on back day!

Recover is key folks.  I made it a point to foam roll and stretch that night as well as the next morning then did a very SLOW 15 mile ride.  My goal was to keep my HR below 150 if not 140.  In the end my average was about 121 and my max was 151 so I'll call that a success as well.  Funny how much you can actually observe when the pace slows down and you are just tooling along.  The bottom line is that between the foam rolling, stretching, and the recovery ride, I felt frickn great!  Yes the butt was a little tender but not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Everything else felt pretty loose and my legs would only start burning (sooner than normal) on some of the climbs.  I will admit that it was a bit of an odd feeling doing a complete ride and never feeling out of breath or tired!

Ok, so I mentioned the bike.  While all is working well I will admit that when I started building it my goal was to get something that I liked and was able to afford.  Ok, more so afford.  I wanted carbon but knowing I had to buy an entire bike, I opted to find a cheaper option which resulted in my Cannondale Synapse frame/fork (aluminum).  The coolest thing about that frame aside from the fact that it is indeed very light weight is the color.  Cannondale never mass produced that color way!  It was a special order for a local cycling team out in Texas.  So when I ride it around here, I get a lot of looks and am frequently asked what model it is (one because it is an old frame).  So that has been cool seeing how there were a ton of Cannondales at the ride last weekend.

None the less, I managed to find a good deal on an older Giant TCR Advance carbon frame/fork.  I used to have an aluminum one when they first came out when I worked at a shop but opted to sell it and keep riding the Colnago I had.  In any case, I have a new frame on the way!

For the most part, everything should cross right over though I'm sure I'll have to dick around with my cables again.  Hate messing with those things.  Just a pita since they are the beaded style if you will and I'll probably have to swap out my inner cables as well.  I may have to get another seatpost however as this frame does have a slight compact geometry which will my my current one won't belong enough.  Fortunately, I have the exact same seatpost on my mountain bike but in a 400mm length so I can use that temporarily until a new one can be sourced.  Am thinking that since I'll have a carbon frame that I'll try to find a carbon post and right now I'd say I'm leaning towards the Zipp SL. Yes there are others lighter but they cost significantly more.  I'll also have the option of going with a zero or 20mm set back but again, won't know until I get it built up and ride it. Guess we shall see.

Also ordered a new chain as I believe I cut mine a little too short but this time am going to go with an 11 spd chain as it is slightly lighter and still fits all cog teeth.  So same chain, but 11 spd.  I'll just make sure I add a couple links over what the old one is.  KMC X11-SL in gold of course!

I also ordered a new headset top cap (the cap that covers the bearings right under the stem) so I can officially slam my stem.  That was the plan for the Synapse but now will have to see how it feel on the TCR.  No picture of that  at this point but it will drop the stem about 3mm more.  Nothing crazy mind you but it will definitely be slammed finally!

Lastly, I ordered a new Garmin mount.  Nothing special but did go with the K-Edge aluminum one.  Yes, it will weigh more than my tuned Garmin one but unfortunately, that one doesn't put the head unit centered on the stem.  The part that wraps around the stem makes contact with the stem so it annoys the piss out of me every time I look down at it and it is off centered.  I had another one that sits center but for some reason tilts at an angle.  Just can't frickn win here!  So we shall see how this works out now.

I suspect that all this stuff will show up some time next week which means I won't get the bike built up until next weekend some time (more like pulling an all nighter on Friday so I can ride it Saturday!).

So that is about it for now folks.  Will definitely post up pics once built.  None the less, heres a pic of the Synapse from the ride last Saturday!  I must say, the decals on this bike definitely stand out and they aren't even a neon color!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What next?

So I sit here at my desk waiting for lunch time to roll around so I can go for a ride.  I could go now but also waiting for it to warm up a little more.  None the less, I have been thinking about my next bike project.  I figure this will probably be something I work on over the winter tho ideally would have it done before that.  Just don't quite know how I'm going to finance it just yet.  More on all of that in a minute.

So, I'm waiting for a few more parts to arrive.  I ordered another stem.  Same length but a more aggressive negative angle.  Slowly been working my way back to a lower stem angle and have finally taken the plunge.  Ordered another Zipp Service Corse SL in all black 110 x -17 degrees.  This will generate the slammed stem look as well as get the stem running parallel to the top tube.  My old Zipp was a 100 x -6 or 8 and my current Cannondale is a 110 x -6.  We shall see how this pans out and feels when riding.  Should be interesting.

I also have a new braze on derailleur clamp coming.  I had ordered and installed a nice carbon one to shed some weight but during the dialing in process of the derailleur I hear a nice crack and it was done.  So I have been riding an Ultegra fd for the time being.  The new clamp will allow me to install my Sram Red.  Probably won't result in much of a weight savings at this point but at least my drive train will be all one brand!

Carbon Seat update:  Finally got my new Chinese carbon/padded saddle.  Installed it and found that the seat rail design/placement doesn't allow me to slide it back as far as I am currently running my set up.  I also found that the shell does not flex at all.  The padding is thin and compresses easily.  Once you sit on it, it's flat and hard as hell!  So the decision has been made to just slap it on the SS MTB instead.  On the flip side of things I found a brand new take off Bontranger RXL ti railed saddle in the width that I want to try for $39 shipped.  Yes, it weighs about 70g more than my current saddle but it flexes, has the width, and padding that is actually padding!  That should be here by the end of the week.

Scale:  Out for delivery today so perhaps we can get a weight on the bike when I get home today! :)  An accurate weight anyway.  I weighed it a week or so ago using my bathroom scale which only weighs in 1/2 lbs increments and got 15 lbs.  However, I have swapped out some parts (drive train to Red) and I know I shaved some weight on my levers and rear derailleur for sure.  Hoping to see 14 as the big number!

New Project:
I think I want to build a nice track bike or fixie as folks call them now days.  I actually have one already though it is not quite able to be ridden at the moment.  It needs a new rear wheel as the loose ball bearings in the shitty cheap wheel are shot.  I have struggled with buying anything for this bike because I only paid $200 for when I got it.  I believe it to be a Jamis and I swear the frame alone weighs in at close to 10 frickn lbs!  I think my steel SS 29er MTB is lighter than this thing!  But the debate is on.  I can go ahead and work on getting some nice wheels made for it (or the build anyway).  I want to go with some classic high flange Campy hubs second choice would be Philwoods.  But Campy's just because they are vintage.

I can then simply slap them on what I have and roll.  However, that is not quite what I want.  I am thinking I want it to be a very classic looking vintage Italian bike.  So the real debate here is whether I want to buy a vintage road frame with all its chromed lugs or buy a classic track frame.  The down side to the track frame is that I can't run brakes on it due to there being no mounting holes in the frame/fork for them.  I don't feel safe riding in my area without some sort of brakes other than my legs.  So it is looking more and more like a vintage road frame.  The other option is a more modern track frame and go with something fairly light made out of aluminum as carbon would simply be more than I want to spend.  The down side there is that I KNOW I will start trying to make a super light weight fixie and classic parts just won't do.  So I'm definitely leaning towards the vintage direction.  Only time will tell tho.  Wheels will be the first order of business regardless.  Nice, bright polished, high flange, hubs!  Silver spokes, and hopefully, some silver or black low profile rims.  How cool would it be to run some low profile black carbon rims????  Sorry, not paying for that!

So there you have it.  Next post will hopefully have some pics of the bike with new stem, seat, and weight!

Monday, April 17, 2017


Well, as I mentioned the last time, I have been building up another bike.  I would have to say that for the most part it is complete.  But is it ever really done?  I think not.  That said, even though it was working and I had something to get out there on, I realized there were somethings I just wasn't that happy with.

For starters, Ultegra!  I hate the looks of the crank and the annodizing color of their parts.  I will admit that I found the 6700 STI shifters to be quite comfortable on the hands but I can't stand the way they work.  I don't mind that you have to twist the actual lever.  But for some reason, the front (left) derailleur dragged.  It took a ton of effort to shift the damn thing even after setting it up over and over.  It just wasn't smooth.  I also disliked that they don't just shift when you hear the click.  It's like you have to go just a hair past the click and then it shifts.  Again, I reset the rear derailleur several times and still experienced the same thing.

I decided to go ahead and go with Sram Red.  I already had the crank and figured that Dura Ace would only be a more expensive version of the crappy shifting as the 6700.  My past experiences with Red were ok, but I thought they were very hard to get dialed in and keep that way.  It was also my first time using that platform coming from Campy (which is the best of all in my opinion) so I actually had to learn how to use them since one lever does both jobs.

So I managed to win some auctions and get the bike rolling this past week with a new drive train.  I should also add that I went with Red because both sets of wheels that I currently have are Shimano/Sram splined and there was no way I was ordering new wheels to make this happen.

Ok, back to the story.  I looked up a couple of install how to videos on Youtube.  Not that I needed to know how to install these parts mind you.  I have been working on my own bike for as long as I can remembers in addition to working in several different bikes shops over the years.  But I figured why not see what Sram has to say on the matter.

I will say I did a couple things different than I normally do but followed Sram's directions to the T.  Sure enough, I test shifted the bike while in the stand and all worked great.  I think rode around the neighborhood and shifted under load and to my surprise it worked there as well!  Not a single adjustment needed to be made.  It just frickn worked!  Click, clunk!  In gear, every damn time!  Crisp and solid.  Couldn't be happier!  Not to mention it weighs less so that is like a double win.

Put two rides in on it.  One for about 9 miles and another for 34.  Still not a single adjustment made!  I will add that I also installed all new cables and went with the Jagwire metal beaded style.  They took forever to get set up (the first one took over an hour and then I still had 3 more to do).  In total, I think it took me about 2.5 hours to do the cables and rewrap my bars.  In the end, I shaved a few more grams, my brakes feel great, as does the shifting.  Couldn't be happier.

I now have over 100 miles on my Chinese carbon wheels.  Again, they are working great.  Bearings are tight, wheels are true, they are loud as hell, and look SO sexy!  They also weigh less than my Ksyrium Elites (those things are frickn bomb proof tho) so that is also a bonus.  As soon as the scale shows up, I'll post some pics of them on the scale (both Mavic's and Chinese).  I won't break the tires off them as they have the same tires on both sets.

For now, things are coming along and I'm happy.  Just gotta get out there and keep riding when I can.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I'm Back!!!

Well hey there!  I know it has been quite a while since I have posted anything here.  In fact it has been so long that it would appear that all my blog posts are gone!  Don't know WTF happened with that?  None the less, I will give some quick updates.

1.  Sort of hopped off the bike about 2 years ago or so and have just been spending some time in the gym.  Yep, went back to my gym rat life.  Put on some more weight/muscle and feel better about the way I look now.  But as with everything, I have started to get a little burned out and realized that I wanted to ride again.  I actually figured that out a while back but just haven't been able to make it happen.

2.  My wonder twins are now 18 and both off at college.  One in D.C. at Howard University on a full ride track scholarship studying mechanical engineering and the other out at Salisbury in a masters program for exercise science.  Both are doing well and growing up fast.

3.  My little one is still at home at the age of 12 being active in damn near every club known to man at her middle school resulting in us running all over the damn place and never knowing what time she is actually getting home from school.  She is already being recruited to run cross country next year in 7th grade and the wonder twins high school coach is waiting for her to get there and join his team.  Looking like she will run on the travel track team again over the summer which will prep her for cross country next school year but also wants to swim on our neighborhood swim team as well.  Not quite sure how that one will work out.

4.  Still in the gym about 6 days a week.  Managed to pull a 510 lbs deadlift, bench 265, and squat 425.  That was all in different months mind you and no longer focus on the numbers but rather my physique.  Also competed in another Olympic Weight lifting competition and have realized that while I enjoy doing it, I hated my last 12 week training cycle so much that I have since taken a break from doing much of any of it.  It has slowly become fun again but it just isn't fitting into my workout schedule so of course my speed and technique are suffering.

5.  Built another bike!  Yep I took the plunge.  After the last bike was pretty much totaled due to a fall in the garage while being worked on with the wheels off I finally broke down and have managed to build a nice bike for cheap.  Yep, $150 for my frame and fork!  Slowly I have replaced borrowed parts with high end ones of my own and I'm proud to say that the bike is not 100% mine and there is nothing left borrowed on it!  So far I have managed to log about 100 miles on it but my work schedule and the weather has been keeping me off it.

Have a friend of mine with connections in China that picked me up a set of the infamous "Chinese Carbon" wheels.  Getting them for super cheap but explained that I have been reluctant to ever order them because I'm in the US and if I had any issues I'd be stuck with the bill to send them back and I'm sure even getting that far in the process would be nothing but a headache.  However, my friend was able to speak with them directly, I have a means to make a return if needed free of cost.  So when they show up I will do a review of them and post some pictures.  I have yet to see such a review done on these and only hear people talk about how cheap they are and what not.  Yet the people saying this are always people that have heard it from someone else.  So we shall see first hand here in a couple of weeks.

6.  Goals:  Well, I'm currently signed up to do a 43 mile ride on May 6th.  I signed up for this simply because it is for a good cause and because it is a supported ride.  Most importantly it is mid way through my training time frame and is about half the distance.  The main goal being, my doing the upcoming Sea Gull century ride out in Salisbury, MD where my daughter goes to school.  That ride is in mid October so I have sort of made a plan/goal to increase my riding distance by 10 miles a month.  Of course I'm behind folks!  So far I have only been able to get in a 25.5 mile ride which means over the next few weeks I need to get that mileage up to about 30-35 by the last weekend in April so I'll be ready to go on 5/6.  Barring the weather, I should be able to do that.

7.  The bike.  Well it is an aluminum frame and full carbon fork.  It's a Cannondale Synapse.  Apparently it was a race frame from a team out in Texas which is why you might not have ever seen that color combo and all decals are applied at the factory just like the main Cannondale logo.  Basically,the team ordered them directly from Cannondale and had them painted just for them.  So I must admit that it is nice riding around on a bike out here in MD that NO ONE else has!  As far as my swapping out parts goes, I'm slowing down a bit.  I let my inner weight weenie take over for a bit as I was replacing used parts with ones of my own but am now slowing down to really think about what I want to upgrade and questioning whether or not it is worth the price.  The goal is/was to be down in the sub 16 lb range and I'm sure it is there tho I haven't weighed it.  Hoping to get that done this weekend.  May just have to use my home scale but that is only accurate to the 1/2 lb which sucks but will give me an idea of where I'm at with it.

So there you have it!  1SPD rides again, though I should probably be calling myself 20-SPD!