Category Archives: Equipment

Everyone should know about their equipment.

Ballarat Autumn Day Ride 2016

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Dear Rouleurs,

As regular (…but non-existent…sigh)  readers would have noticed, this year MMT has been doing charity event rides.  As a cyclist I guess you go through this evolution of riding by yourself or with your mates and commuting which means you tend to stick to well worn routes.  For me this consists of roads eastern bayside suburbs.  Doing 50-60 km charity events is an awesome way of breaking out of routine.

This brings me to my latest adventure, the Ballarat Autumn Day (BAD) ride.  As a first time entrant in the BAD, I was surprised to learn that this was the 27th edition of this organised ride.  Judging by the entrants I saw, most were fairly serious cyclists.  At some of the previous events there’s been a real mix of  casual, enthusiasts and athletes.  Compared to the Ballarat Classic that I did back in February, its pretty low key and operates with the support of the local Ballarat Bushwalking and Outdoor Club.

I elected to the 50 km version which on paper fairly easy, see pretty pictures below. There was supposed to be only one relatively easy climb on the way back into Ballarat.  Morning Tea Rest was supposed to be somewhere on the way back.

BAD 50 km ride course profile

BAD 50 km ride course profile

Let me say from the outset, this was really tough ride.  In the week leading up to ride I was nervously looking at the weather forecast thinking..’F#*K that looks bad’…pun intended.  Team MMT arrived in Ballarat on the Saturday afternoon before the ride and noticed that the wind was already quite strong.  Unfortunately the BOM’s predictions of thunder storms and high winds proved correct.  I was seriously considering pulling out.

BAD 2016 - 50 km Course.

BAD 2016 – 50 km Course.

Sunday morning, it was still very windy but at least the rain had stopped.  As I could see numerous cyclists making their way to the start line, I thought ‘What the hell!! How bad could it be?’.  Opps there’s that pun again.  The answer to that was actually it was pretty awful.  I tagged onto, what I thought at the time, was a moderately paced bunch, rolling along at about 23-25 km/h.  Most days, that’s in the ‘cruise’ zone for me.

What I hadn’t realised was how much I was being sheltered at the tail of the bunch.  As the ride turned into the country, the gently undulating course became exposed to very strong cross and head winds.  The hills took on a degree of difficulty that in no way was represented by their piddly gradient.  You can see this the gradient profile. By the 22 km mark, I was done.

I was dropped by the bunch on one of the steeper hills and left out in wind. In these conditions that was a really crappy place to be.  I pinched the photo below off the BAD Facebook page.  This was the bunch I wheelsucked before being dropped. If you look hard enough at the photo you can see the grimaces on the faces of the frontrunners.

MMT wheelsucking at the back of the bunch.

MMT wheelsucking at the back of the bunch.

Eventually I tagged onto another bunch but much to my chagrin, took a right when a left was intended.  This put me onto the 100 km course and up more hills.  At least I was side on to the wind. By 32 km I realised I had really stuffed up.  I found a course marshal who showed me were I was. I was almost 10 km off course. D’oh!!! This meant a course correction was needed (see pretty diagram below. I rode off the course and down the Sunraysia Highway. Fortunately I had the wind mostly behind me. Despite heavy showers I made reasonable time.

2016 BAD 60 km course as ridden by MMT.

2016 BAD 60 km course as ridden by MMT.

Closer to Ballarat I found another course marshall and evidently the broom wagon. Both were a bit surprised to learn of my detour. After completing a 28 km course correction, l finally roll across the start-finish line. All I can think is, that was much tougher than I thought would be. I call the other half of Team MMT this. She’s sitting in the warm reception room waiting for me. I check in and discover that I’m not the only who has had navigation problems. The wind has played havoc with the course markers.

Fortunately the race organisers have warm drinks and delicious fruit cake on. I need both. Team support has brought my wonderfully dry set of clothes. Soon I’m feeling warm and that sense of contentment you have when you’ve achieved something. Despite the inclement weather, I enjoyed the event and thought that it was well organised. I plan to the proper 50 km next year. Its a pity that this event isn’t more widely advertised in Melbourne, as it has quite lot to offer city cyclists seeking a break from car infested roads.

Until next time ride safe

Marv

Cranksets and Cassettes…its a ratio thing.

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Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been obsessing over gear ratios, drive trains and hill climbing.  As a 102 Kg Clydesdale, doing sportives this year, these things matter.  I’m riding the  60Km version of the Ballarat Classic in February and that course contains some serious gradient.  Certainly more than I’m used on my local Beach Road ride.

So I started out looking at triple chain ring. Straight away, I encountered two significant snags.  First, Campagnolo phased triple chain rings on their lower end groupsets, hence I wouldn’t be able to source a Veloce component.  Second, even if I had sourced an older Veloce triple, it would have meant changing over the front and rear derailleurs as well.  Essentially, that’s 3 out of 4 bits of drive train.  Given its Campag, that would be a costly trip to a bike shop.

Instead, I read a few blogs and landed on fitting a compact chain ring with a smaller 50/34t ratio and higher ratio 13-29t cassette.  Originally, I had 11-23t which I upgraded as part of Zonda rim package to 11-25t.  For everything I’ve done thus far 11-23/25t has fine.  I tend to do most of riding on the outer ring anyway.  The theory being I should be able to keep my cadence fairly high and not have to stand on the pedals to exert brute force.  So I’m swapping out the 11-25mm for the 13-29mm.

 11-25mm  To  13-29mm
 20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-11-25  20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-13-29

The compact chain ring is an interesting beast. Depending on what online cycling magazines Its being described as the ‘killer’ of the tripleset chain ring. Mainly because of its ability to provide similar ratios to the tripleset, whilst enabling manufacturers to avoiding extra tooling and production costs. Most likely, this is why Campagnolo doesn’t offer triples on the cheaper groupsets.

So these were the alternatives:

53-39 – Race -> I have one of these already
52-36 – Semi-compact –> the one I’m not sure about
50-34 – Compact -> the one I’ve decided on.

53-39t has been the standard chain ring for some time now. It’s used in races that are mainly flat and in timetrials, where the more powerful riders are using a 53 to 11 ratio to achieve maximum speed.

50-34t Compact crankset has been around since 2002 and has been used by the Pros to travel through mountain stages. The primary idea being that a smaller front chain ring allows a higher cadence which should reduce muscle fatigue. It also allows less powerful riders access to lower ration gears without ‘crossing’ the chain. Crossing the chain creates more friction and increases wear and tear on the drive train.

52-36t Semi-compact is the new kid on the block. Its reason d’etre is that it provides the best of both worlds means a 52-tooth chainring for attacking descents and sprints, while maintaining a smooth chain line from the big ring when riding on flat roads, and a 36-tooth inner ring which, of course, offers a lower gear for climbing than a 39-tooth ring.

My decision on which crankset was made easier…again…sigh…by Campagnolo not having Veloce 52-36 crankset. So I’m swapping this 53-39 for this 50-34.

 53-39t  To  50-34t
 20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-53-39  20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-50-34

So circling back to where I started, in about 2 weeks I’ll find out how all of this tinkering in my drive train worked. The Cadel Evans Peoples ride is fairly flat with the exception of a couple nasty little hills on the back end of the course. Hopefully this will all ‘gel’ together and provide a really efficient ‘gearbox’ for my 46 year old legs.

Until next time

Marv

Product Review: Ritchey Carbon Pro Seatpost Upgrade

Dear Roulers,

Before I get started, Merry Christmas I hope you were on Santa’s nice list and received many cycling goodies.  I certainly did 😉

I own an oldish 2010 Wilier Lavaredo. I’m slowly been replacing the original bits of it, with hopefully, better bits. Yes, I’ve succumbed to that expensive disease that plagues cyclists, upgraditis. Of all the items that I’ve that I’ve considered replacing, it has been the seat post that’s caused me the most angst.

After purchasing shiny new Campagnolo Zonda wheels and Gatorskin tyres, I discovered that my newly shod steed was providing a fairly harsh ride. Later I discovered that almost all of this experience was due to excessive tyre pressure. However in the 3 or so weeks I endured that skittish, jittery ride, it made me ponder whether it was worth replacing the alloy seat post, handlebar and stem with carbon versions. Most of what I read seemed to indicate that other than reduced weight, vibration damping was a major benefit. So I started to assess replacement seat posts.

What I discovered was that there are literally hundreds of different types of seat posts, the main variables being composition (eg carbon or alloy), diameter, aerodynamic qualities, saddle position (straight or setback) and in-built dampening technology. It’s the fifth category that attracted my attention. It’s this one that seems to separate the vast majority of what’s available. The two stand out examples of this are the Specialized CG-R and the Canyon VCLS 2.0. Both have radically different approaches to improve ride comfort.

 2014-SpeciaizedCGR-Seatpost The CG-R seatpost post features 18mm of vertical compliance, Zertz vibration damping, and FACT carbon construction. Cylindrical aluminium head assembly adjusts fore-aft and tilt via a single bolt. Some online reviews suggest that the one bolt design meant fiddly fitting. However, testing by Velonews back in 2012 provided evidence that Zertz inserts reduce vibration greatly. Bikeradar provided a more recent review in mid-2014
 2012-Canyon-VCLS-Seatpost VCLS 2.0 uses two D-shaped carbon shafts placed back to back to form the post’s cylinder. Just above the maximum insert mark the two shafts split apart, with the Flip Head saddle clamp pivoting on their tops. A bolt at the base secures the shafts together and lets you slide them up and down in relation to each other to change the angle of the saddle. Unfortunately I can’t find any published testing on this but Bikeradar reviewed it in mid-2013. 

Now I would have happily parted with a few hundred dollars for one of these except for one small problem. They didn’t fit my bike. At a diameter of 27.2mm both seat posts required a shim to fit the 31.6mm diameter seat tube. Bother. I researched and couldn’t find anything conclusive about the merits of shims, carbon fibre seat posts and alloy frames.

That was deeply frustrating which is why I decided to KISS it and buy like for like replacing the Ritchey alloy post with its carbon cousin. They are pretty much identical except for the carbon fibre post. The saddle clamp and head work in the exactly the same way, providing me with a pretty simple swap over.

Ritchey Compo Alloy Ritchey Carbon Pro
 2010-Ritchey-Alloy-Seatpost  2015-Ritchey-Carbon-Seatpost

Fortunately I was armed with this 2012 Velonews Article written by Lennard Zinn   which indicated I should expect damping and flex from both the carbon construction and from the setback design. Happily I can say that Ritchey Pro Carbon Seatpost is the real deal and for the $75 I paid for it an absolute steal.

Until next time

Marv

New Shoes, New Cleats….what could go wrong???

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Godamnit……rookie error.

Last Wednesday, I managed to score the cycling equivalent of a home goal. Recently I’ve purchased a snazzy pair of Giro Rumbles, a light-weight lace up casual MTB shoe. Much to my surprise they didn’t come with cleats, rather fake bits of aluminium that were cleat shaped but were actually junk. I purchased new SPD cleats the other day and fitted them to the shoes on the weekend. So last Wednesday, I finally got around to trying them out on my morning commute to work.

As I cycled to work, I couldn’t remember whether I had closed the garage door. I looped around to check. Being back from holidays and a bit sleep derived, I thought a policy of ‘better safe than sorry’ was wise. So I pull up to a roundabout, give way to traffic, go to click out, when I discover I can’t. I think my exact word was “shiiittttttt!!!!” as I fell over in slow motion. I hate it when that happens. I feel so stupid for what was an easily preventable accident. This is where I committed my rookie error by not testing the click-in and more importantly click out.

To make matters worse, whilst the right foot cleat has released, I couldn’t get the left foot cleat to clear. So I’m stuck to the bike and sprawled out on the road. A 30-something female power walker comes over and asks me if I’m ok. Apart from losing some skin on and jarring my right knee nothing seems too badly damaged. I thank her for her consideration and assure her that I’m ok. Finally the left cleat releases and I’m able to stand up. My ego on the other hand has taken a crushing blow.

So what happened?
In short form, the cleats bolts loosened and this enabled the cleat plate to pivot round to an angle that was greater than amount of ‘twist’ I can manage on the ball of my foot. The cleats were able to move because I hadn’t done the screws up tight enough. Looking at the photos below you can see how much the cleat has pivoted around, out of position.

 20151111-VR70  20151111-Rumble
 My usual Shimano SPD shoes with cleat in correct position  My new GIRO Rumbles with cleat out of position

A simple click in and out test would have detected this problem. Like I said rookie error. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Oh BTW the Herald Sun reckons Chris Froome is coming to Victoria to compete in the Herald Sun Jayco Tour this year.

Until next time

Marv