Thursday, August 30, 2012

One Bad Ass Cross(?) Bike

   Spotted this bike at the last stage of the Pro Cycling Challenge. It's a Colnago, who I never pegged as a strong developer in Cyclocross. After looking at the bike closely however, my friends and I got into a discussion about what the bike was really for. It has slicks, and could just as easily be for road riding. The differences between a Cross bike and a road bike are:
  • Cross
    • Beefier frame and fork
    • More compact frame
    • Gearing is usually a 36/46 
    • Wheels usually have more spokes for strength
    • Cross bikes usually have center pull or disc brakes
  • Road
    • Frame is lighter and not as strong 
    • Road gearing is usually  36/52 or 42/52
    • Wheels usually have fewer spokes for weight reduction
    • Caliper brakes

 So I'm not sure what this bike is for. Either way, it has some really cool features, mainly, the carbon hydraulic disc brakes. It was all internal routing, so it was clean and felt so smooth!

The cockpit

It was running the Campagnolo 10 speed, which was a drag, I've never seen the 11 speed in person. Maybe the more burly 10 speed works better with the battering of a cross race, or this shifter and brake were in development before the 11 speed took hold.

The back end

One of the neat features of this bike is that the rear caliper acts as a strengthening member by bracing the stays on the non drive side. All in all, this is a really cool innovation, and whether for road or cross it's great to see new things from a big company like this!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stage 7: The Final Time Trial

Last Sunday was the last day of the Pro Cycling Challenge. The last stage was an exciting time trial in Denver. The race format is usually included in a large stage race like this, but usually in the middle. This made for an exciting last day, as the riders had 9 miles to have their last word in the race. We had a great spot picked out by Geoff, the resident Denver native where we could see the riders coming and going. Here is Levi leipheimer, the leader after a great race on stage 6, coming up a short hill:

Yellow jersey, coming through

The racers crested a short hill coming East, then Came back by going West. The hill was a great way to tell if a rider was killing it or not. This is Christian Vandvander Velde on his way to a great time:

Vandvander Velde 

I was skeptical if this time trial was going to be exciting to watch, but it was very enjoyable! we got to see a bunch of guys go by, and with every racer we knew the leaders were getting closer and closer. Well, as we bid farewell to the Pro Cycling Challenge, we can only hope that the course, fans and support that the teams and racers got was enough to keep them coming back for another race!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Stage 6 of the Pro Cycling Challenge this year culminated on Flagstaff Mountain outside of Boulder, CO. It was apparently a big deal for the city of Boulder to allow this event to take place. But man, was it worth it! the wifey and I went up early, and ended up next to the Sports Garage guys who had some thumpin' beats going:

Before the onslaught

It didn't take long for the place to fill right up! It was a super popular spot:

Everyone lining up

Looking back up the hill at Natalie and Randi, cheering the other spectators heading up to the top of the  stage to watch.

Show some leg!

Once the racers started coming up, everything went nuts! people were, sometimes offensively, excited. But overall the enthusiasm was contagious, and we had the best time. here's someone in the breakout flying by:

The face of pain

After the madness that is apparently professional cycling came through, we started walking back down.  It was somewhat surreal to be walking down the middle of Flagstaff with thousands of other fans, and see people all the way down by Chautauqua. 

The fans go marching one by one...

This was a pretty fun day, great fans and awesome racing. The next day, we'd be off to Denver for the final time trial!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stage 5

Stage 5 was from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs, going over Hoosier Pass early in the stage, and then a long flat race into the Springs. A couple friends and I took of Thursday night and headed up there to camp and then watch the race the next morning. The evenings shenanigans took a turn for the .. . boozy I guess, but it was an awesome time!

Drink up bitches

The next morning, we costumed up! We were about a half mile form the top, so that we could run with them without getting in anyone's way. We also watched a train of fans riding up to the sprint point at the top. This was like bike porn! Tons of classic road bikes, mountain bikes and full carbon rides going by. Here's our spot as a couple fellow fans cruise by:

The dino hoody and the one piece ski suit

Here's the leaders coming up, they were flying, we couldn't run as fast as they were climbing:


After that we rolled into Breck to check out the rest of the stage on TV and the goings on there. Then it was back to Boulder for the Flagstaff Stage. Keep an eye out for that post tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stage 3 recap

Great race and really exciting finish yesterday!!!

  • Jesse Anthony of team Optum took off early, to the confusion of the commentators. He appeared to be just testing the lead out. 
  • Much of the stage was on dirt roads, giving some advantage to riders with experience in Cyclocross or Mountain.
  • Due to the narrow and sometimes dirt roads, the team support cars weren't able to stay with the riders for the whole race, meaning many riders were unable to rely on the team car and end up carrying any additional gear and water they'll need. There will be neutral support, but that's for wheels and stuff, they won't be able to give a rider individual support like a team car.
Coming down Independence fast
  • Garmin Sharpe and BMC seemed to be fighting each other early on, Garmin was attacking early and often to test and tire BMC out. Sounds like Radioshack took some heat for not doing their part.
  • Cottonwood pass took them above treeline, the average speed is about 15 mph uphill!
  • Francisco Colorado took the king of the mountain points over Cottonwood
  • Francisco Colorado and Tom Danielson blazed up Independence 
  • Dave Zabrisky, who tossed his cookies in stage 1, has been in every breakaway so far
  • Tom dropped Francisco and took the top like a man. he continues to the finish while the peleton whittled his 2 min lead down to 10 seconds or so, but he took the stage!
Go Danielson Go!
  • Teejay and Dhristian apparently made some dumb and dumber jokes at the press stuff in crested butte and referenced Aspen
  • A couple cops had to chase a couple bears away from the finish line this morning
  • The teams were told not to leave food in the cars because of bears!

Keep an eye on this blog for some live race pics of the last three stages!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stage 2 Results and Stuff

Notes on Stage 2 of the Pro Cycling Challenge:

  • Tyler Ferrar trades the leader jersey to the sprinter jersey
  • Tejay van Garderen won the stage, and took the leaders jersey. Teejay is from Boulder, and finished 5th in the Tour de France this year, the highest American finish
  • Tom Danielson is liek 5'2, the podium girls had to bend way down to kiss him
  • The lead out group has up to a 2 min gap on the peleton, but were screwing around and lost most of it and were caught by the pack at the end
  • The last 40 miles or so were a gradual uphill, and the last 3 miles was a good climb, that blew everyone up, it looked like Christian VandeVelde was going to put up a fight, but Van Garderen put the hammer down in the last sprint. 
  • Liquigas rider Vincenzo Nibali didn't do great in the break away at the very end, and took some criticism for it, for some reason.
Today, as I write this, stage 3 is underway, from Gunnison they go over Cottonwood Pass, then over Independence Pass and then into Aspen. 

Stage 3

There's some dirt roads on today's stage, which is unconventional for a big stage race, but according to the commentators, similar to the Coors Classic of the 80's. Stay tuned tomorrow for the results and a preview of stage 4!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pro Cycling Challenge Day 2

The first day of the Pro Cycling Challenge is over, and the second day is under way! Here are some fun facts from yesterday's race:

  • The first stage was 126 miles long
  • There was 10,900 feet of climbing
  • There are no time bonuses in this event
  • 6 riders abandoned in day one, meaning that they can not return to the race
  • The race did not ride through Telluride last year, this is the first time it's been there (as well as Boulder in a week)
  • Tyler Ferrar won the sprint on day one, bringing the leaders jersey to a Boulder based team and a rider from the US! USA! USA!
  • Mavic has a neutral support vehicle following the race, which is unusual for an American race. The usually stick to the European races.
  • Some of the guys on Garmin are riding the Cervelo R5, a regular super bike. It was developed last year, is made of some kind of very modern carbon and has is no graphics or paint. Apparently they're highly exclusive, so much so that they are only under a few Garmin riders. keep an eye out for them, they are recognizable by the complete lack of graphics.
  • Day two route from Montrose to Crested Butte:
Map of the routes

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pro Cycling Challgenge Day 1 + DIY Headset Tool

Hello Cycling fans! Today marks the first day of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in my home state of Colorado.

This is the second year of the race, and it promises to be another awesome race. Today's stage is from Durango to Telluride with a couple climbs in the middle and then a long one at the very end. For commentary, check out this link, and for a full race rundown, look at the official website.
   In other news, I have been working on building up my bike tool collection. I have always used a hammer and a large flat head screw driver to remove headset cups. A real headset removal tool will do less damage and be easier. The real tool is nothing specail, and I thought I'd whip one up.
Step 1: I went to Home Depot and bought some 3/4" pipe, and a cap, and a new hacksaw.
Step 2: I had a delicious cheddar dog outside the Home Depot
Step 3: Cut it down the top:

Metal saw dust EVERYWHERE

Step 4: Gently bent the sides out with some pliers:

Step 5: Put the cap on. Now all I need is a headset to remove!

Final Product

I think that next order of business is a headset press, then I can take the cups in and out over and over all day long.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Natalie's Sweet Tri Set-up

   Natalie has been racing triathlons this summer, and for the bike part, she's been riding her road bike, with a few tweaks. Here, have a pic:


The base is her System Six, carbon and aluminum frame. The upgrades are:

1. Speedplay pedals, compatible with some tri-specific, easy-on shoes
2. Zipp 404 carbon tubular wheels
3. Profile Designs T2 Cobra aero bars

   The changes do three things: Lighten the bike up considerably; ease mounting and un mounting; give a aero position for efficient riding. So far this has been a pretty good move! Next stop, Kona!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

9 or 10 speed?

   Granted, this is just a listing on a bargain site, but seems like this is either the wrong cassette or it's missing a ring!
Chainlove at it's best.

   Still, this is a really cool cassette. The top 8 gears are made from one piece. Here is a look at how the manufacturing process works:

Steps 1 - 4

   You can see that they start from a block of aluminum. This makes them (apparently) lighter and stronger than  a conventional cassette. Conventional construction is to have 7 or 8 individual cogs all pinned together with steel pins. Here's another helpful cut away:

With backplate

The backplate is the top gear and I believe what is missing from the picture in the Chainlove image above. And at $150, even if it's missing a whole gear - what a steal!

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Much Technology can go into a Chain?

   Maybe you don't often think about the chain on your bike, but the truth is that they are pretty neat little pieces of technology. A basic chain is made up of links, but a roller chain is a bit more complicated. A modern roller chain is made up of an inner plate, an outer plate and a pin.

Outer Plate
Inner Plate

   With some older designs, the inner plates were one solid piece, known as a block chain. It's easy to see how one evolved into the other.

Outer Plate
Inner Block

   From a weight standpoint, they're not very efficient. Jump forward a few decades, and we've got chains that are far more advanced. Chains now are specific to the kind of bike you're riding. With a BMX bike, chains are thick and strong, not made to shift at all. You run a more narrow chain on an 8 speed than a 9 speed, and an even more narrow chain on a 10 speed. Some cool technology in modern chains are hollow pins and cutout sideplates:

Typical 10 Speed Chain

   Removing material in these places makes the chains lighter without compromising strength. Even now, you're saying to yourself, "Surely there can be no more improvement on this technology." Well, prepare to be amazed! Shimano has a Dura Ace chain with some really cool features. For starters, they are making it even lighter by cutting out both the inner and outer sideplates. Normally, it's just the outer plate. Second, they have designed the chain asymmetrically, to improve the shifting. Pretty important to put the chain on in the right direction in this case. 

Shimano Dura Ace Chain

The side plates are beveled to climb to higher gears faster and more smoothly than other chains. The neat thing is that these chains are still not super expensive at around $50. Consider yourself educated in chains!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Holy Shit, Where Have I Been?

The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. I have had a busy couple weeks, what with the Olympics and weddings and all that. A little more than a week ago, I married my best friend and girlfriend of several years Natalie (previously referred to as my financier)! I'm becoming a regular adult. Here's a pic of us coming into the reception:


It's been a fun few weeks and I'm super amped to be married to her and looking forward to blogging of the many adventures we have in our future. In slightly less exciting news, the United States have really been kicking ass in the London Summer Olympics. We've (yep, I'm a 'we' now) been watching a lot of the events. The events looks like they'd be so amazing to see. Coming up in a couple days is the BMX races. I have mixed feelings on this, because the track is nothing like a normal BMX track, but it's nice to see the international coverage. Here's a nice aerial shot of the track:

Olympic BMX Venue

The track splits where the ladies and men's events take different routes:

Men in Blue, Ladies in Red

 The track looks pretty cool and very fast. The BMX can be seen on August 9th and 10th. Here's a schedule of all the cycling events to come. Go USA!