Psyched for gravel racing!

Put this guy together tonight, feeling pretty excited for Sac O’ Suds 50 on Saturday and then the Standard Deluxe Century on Sunday. Woo!

USA Cycling has destroyed any integrity cycling sport had left.

I’m pretty ambivalent about USAC racing but somehow I missed this.



Veloclinic did a better take:

but I want to type something too cause I’m ANGRY.

Completely destroys any integrity of the sport. Can’t imagine why I would even hold another USAC racing license when the people I am competing against are doping with express approval of the governing body?

I’m always interested to see just how much faster the 40+, 50+ and 60+ mtb categories are around here. Buncha horeshit if you ask me.

First guy is an asshole, he’s STILL actively competing. Do you think everyone who came in after him knows he’s doping?

It’s not about the win/lose. It’s about blowing yourself up to hang on a wheel or keep up with another rider. These efforts can destroy your race, especially if the other rider is doped up or has been pharmacologically assisting their training. Either way this is awful.

The second dude is even worse: Holy shit with this guy:


What a fucking asshole. At least he doesn’t race, just slings the dope and uses lawyers to allow him to boost his market. Now he can hype the Recreational TUE to his users and get them hooked on “low-T.”

What’s really interesting is he wrote a book in early-2012:

And then only rode three mountain bike races in late 2012/early 2013. The third of which he got popped, lawyered up and got USAC to change its policy. HMMMMMM.

I can’t wait to spend all winter training to get my nuts kicked in by some asshole on T or HGH who’s doing it under a RTUE or if it’s non-USAC because the RTUE destroys the integrity for all bicycle racing sport so if there’s no chance of a test, why wouldn’t they use drugs?

Reminds me of “exercise-induced asthma” ya ok that’s great.

Fuck off USA Cycling.

Why didn’t you buy that? Low Trail Edition

Why Didn’t You Buy That? Soma Grand Randonneur Edition

After being blown away by the story of the first Paris-Brest-Paris in issue no. 50 I hit the Bicycle Quarterly HARD.

(I wholeheartedly recommend you check out the issue as well as the accompanying blog post here:

I ordered the entire back catalog and blew through all the issues in a matter of weeks. My thoughts were laser focused on low-trail, handlebar bags, fat tires and dynamo lights. Dreams of conquering far away mountains and gliding over gravel peaks sent me off to sleep every night.

The main production low-trail frame, the Soma Grand Randonneur was something I researched heavily. I looked at dozens of builds, read every review I could find and really tried to get into the bike. I wanted to try low-trail so bad, carrying stuff in a handlebar bag with a cool rack on my speedy fendered fat-tired bike would be awesome.

Once I actually confronted the build I was planning it all fell apart.

First, the threaded fork.


I spent my first few years as an adult riding threaded forks and quill stems exclusively. They’re ok and work fine but obviously lacking in convenience of handlebar swapping, stiffness, length and height options and so forth. Threadless systems are awesome and thread systems suck. This is re-enactment nonsense to see a modern bike take such a huge step back. This is the main thing that kept me away. I wasn’t going to spend several hundred dollars on a frame to deal with quill stems.

Next was the brakes, cantilever brakes are not something I enjoy. There were dozens of posts about the Grand Randonneur and squealing, chittering, juddering brakes.

But there was always a little wiggle keeping me from diving in all the way. I was on board with everything but the brakes. After trying out discs on my mountain bikes and subsequently on my road bikes I had vowed never to go back to rim brakes. This is a problem as there are no low-trail production disc frames. To get into low trail and discs you need to navigate the vagaries of custom builders and their ever lengthening queues. I hedged and went ahead and added myself to the Elephant National Forest Explorer wait list. $1350 for a very excellent frameset, but the timeline was very long. Although I went another direction if I had waited in line it would have taken a little over a year before I got my frame in hand.


These two things combined just killed the bike for me. I decided to shelve the low trail idea and see if it resurfaced later on with more modern design choices. Nothing yet so my money is still in the bank. Maybe I’ll get back on the Elephant list?

Anyway, goddammit Soma why do you always have to put one or two dumb design choices in every bike you make?


Wheel size revisited

Back in August I partici-raced the Red Clay Ramble down near Milledgeville, GA. It’s a great race and with a good course and excellent promotion.

I had a terrible race. Bike didn’t work, legs didn’t work, very tired and lowkey upset at my girlfriend so things just sucked.

My bike was a converted 26” hardtail running drop bars with 9 speed integrated shifters. Tires were 26×2.2 Forte Tasli which has a mild tread and weighs about 650 grams a tire.

I spent a good portion of the race yoyo-ing with the same dozen or so riders on cross bikes. What I noticed was that on gravel I would get gapped easily, any coasting down hill would see me off the back very quickly. Riding up the other side of a hill I would need to pedal sooner than my companions. I was redlined trying to stay in their draft.

Once we hit pavement I would easily catch and pass the other riders in my group.  

[Not to be rude but I’ve raced against these riders before and for the most part I have finished several dozen minutes ahead of them on other gravel courses like the Shake ‘n’ Brake, Mt Currahee and Southern Cross.]

Anyway, I recall Jan Hiene mentioned this phenomenon during his ride report for the Oregon Outback as well. He was on a randonneur-style road bike and was catching an MTB rider on the dirt sections but getting passed by the same rider on the pavement sections.

What I’ve been thinking about is the effect of wheel size. Everyone I was riding with was on a 700cx32/35/40 size wheel/tire combo. This combo is anywhere from 4-6% larger in circumference than my 26×2.2, could this have had an effect of slowing me down on the dirt?


So if the approach angle of a wheel is a determinant of rolling resistance, which we can sort of assume based on 26” to 29” experience in the MTB world, than a 26×2.2 is going to be at a disadvantage to bigger wheels when the road is rough.

Pavement is smooth, even on the roughest paved roads there are often only a few dozen roll-over obstacles in a given distance. The bumps you encounter are small and fast so you do not lose much to them regardless of tire size.

On a dirt or gravel road the roll-over obstacles are in the hundreds or thousands per mile. That’s part of why dirt speeds are so much slower than pavement speed no matter how smooth the dirt is. The rider is spending more time going up and down as opposed to forwards. Micro climbing all those rocks and undulations.

Here’s a picture I stole from REI’s website (EAT THE RICH)


And here’s a MTBR thread:

So I guess my point is I fucked up and should have made my 29er my gravel bike.