Archive for March, 2009

Speed Trumps Durability.

Posted in 1 on March 25, 2009 by bencycles

I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to my drivetrain and I really hate drag. Recently, drivetrains have made a lot of strives in performance, mainly with new crank and BB designs, which are really awesome compared to the old Topline cranks with square taper BB I used to use (and send back regularly from warping the spider every couple months…). But this performance has come at a cost, friction.
And I really hate friction.
My friend over at B&L Bikes, Gordon was showing me how smooth the new Campy Super Record 11 (drool) was. And it is… Which gave me a bit of spin envy. My Shimano BB in my MTB is nowhere near as smooth. Well, it’s smooth, but has a lot of drag.

I’m a bit of geek (I was the Grand Champion for model rocketry at the state fair in CO way back…) and like to take stuff apart, usually making the thing broken at some point in the process, so I sometimes wait till it’s on its last legs to begin.

I do not recommend you try any of what I am about to describe.

I’ve had this Shimano BB a while and decided to fool around with it after I got home since the Sprout was sleeping. I pulled the cranks and took a look at it. In bold letters are the words “Do Not Disassemble”. Well, that’s right up my ally. Starting is the scary part. When you pull off the cranks, you see a large plastic plate on either side of the BB which are what the cranks snug up against, sort of like a headset. I wasnt sure how those plates were attached. Turns out they just snap in, really securely. I was able to pop them off by tapping the inside lip (from inside the BB shell) out from the backside with a screwdriver and hammer (gentle persuasion…).

Once I did that, I could see the cartridge bearings, which look just as you would suspect. Just like an oversize skateboard bearing. They still felt very smooth and ran a lot better without the plastic plates, but the plastic plates appeared to be important as spacers for the cranks, so I wanted to use them. I found a small O-ring that seals around the outer perimeter of the plate to help keep dirt out. Well, that’s gotta go… Then I popped the dust seal off the cartridge bearings, lubed the bearings with some low viscosity oil and then just popped the plastic plates right back on. No dust seals. For the dry climate we have around here, all we have is dust, water contamination is rarely an issue, and the plastic plates are snug enough that it will probably be OK, at least for a few races… If I were more worried about longevity, I would have left the large seals on the cartridge bearings. I think most of the drag was coming from the small outer O-rings, but I’m not that worried about longevity.

The o-rings and seals I removed from my BB.

The o-rings and seals I removed from my BB.

Now my $30 shimano BB runs as smooth as your fancy $300 ceramic BB, and I still have beer money.


Fiesta Island Soul Searching

Posted in Race/Ride reports on March 9, 2009 by bencycles

The face of calm serenity

Do time trials count as therapy? I guess turning Metallica up really loud during my warm up musta worked, ’cause I was 10 seconds faster.

The following text is lifted directly from an email I sent to a friend which sums it all up nicely. Why write the same thing twice? That would leave less time to train.

Look on my face? why, that’s my look of zen calmness… : ).
I took 10 seconds off the last tt with less aerodynamic equipment this time. Riding my own bike was a lot more comfortable than the one I borrowed last time, which I think made a difference. Now if I can just get a hold of one of those goofy aero helmets… I taped the aerobar pads directly to the handlebar because the clamps didn’t fit and were too wide anyway.

It was cool because a friend lent me his Zipp 404’s with a powertap hub. I don’t have $1000 lying around to go get one, and frankly I’m not sure I would want one if I could afford it, but it was fun to play with.

I’ve been getting my VO2 max and power tested for a sports drink study, so I was really curious to see how those results would compare to a “real world” situation. It turned out to be pretty dead-on. The watts I was able to maintaine for the tt were almost exactly where the study indicated I would be at about 105% LT. My relative VO2 is decent and my efficiency is pretty good but my max power isn’t super high (not too much of a surprise, flat sections [such as tt’s] are where I suffer most). It helped me hold back on the first lap and finish stronger at the end.

Of Hot Suns and Sharp Palms.

Posted in Race/Ride reports on March 1, 2009 by bencycles

Raced the first race of the west coast Kenda Cup today. There was a big crowed, 30 guys in my catagory, which was great. It’s not as much fun to come in last and still place top five.


Opening day of the new season. Just an hour and a half to San Dimas, woke ’round seven and played with the Sprout before loading the car and rollin.


prepped and ready, sippy cup, too. After getting to the gate of the park and realizing I was cashless, it was a dash to the RV park and finally back out of the park to Chevron to find one of those little cash dispensing robots that actually works and grab a little cash.

I think I found the last shady spot not too far from the staging area and made camp. This place was packed. Vendors, riders, and all the floatsom that goes with a big race.

I was glad to have a shady spot, ’cause it was getting hot. But to get to the shade I had to cross over a big pile of dried palm fronds. Now I know, DANGER. Those dried palms are the sharpest effing things around! I impaled my calf on that SOB and it really hurt. Between sliding out in a turn earlier in the week and now this, I thought taking it easy this last week was probably more dangerous than if I’d just kept riding hard.

Go line up. There are a lot of people. It was great but i was a bit nervous since I’d ridden so poorly a couple weeks earlier. Grabbed a spot in the shade and waited for the inevitable. Check my start gears. 20 seconds. Start my watch timer, then GO. Fast Fast Fast. And hot. And full sun socal style. Such a difference between a 10 man field and a 30 man field. Guys everywhere. did I mention it was great.

It was a total power course, not the best for me but I wasn’t gonna just give the thing away. Lap two was the toughest. Mentally, knowing there was still another full lap to go after this lap… It was the hardest to stay motivated through, hardest to keep pushing, especially after pushing the first lap like it was the only lap. So much of this stuff is all in the head. Even with the mental demons, I managed a lap time only a minute slower than the first, which was tits. Starting the 3rd lap was like a release, knowing this was it. Tickling the cramps on the climbs, starting to feel heavy, but like I said before, I wasn’t gonna just give it away. Finished strong, even grabbed one place back in the last half mile to claim 7th in a field of 30.


Even SPF 50 is no match for the sun around here. Yeah, check out that tan line. And I was feeling that last lap, too. Ouch, hello pain cave. But seriously after all that, the palm spearing my calf is still what hurts the most. The race however was great.