Bye to the DX350

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Felled by a cracked chainstay right behind the dimple. I was actually prepping for a ride and had the bike upside down going over my Hetres with a headlamp removing the embedded glass bits that eventually work their way through and cause flats when I noticed the crack. It’s been broken for quite a while as I remember creaking specific to one side when climbing out of the saddle with a lot of power several weeks ago.

Well, the frame had a pretty good run. I did four really awesome gravel races and spent a lot of interesting miles in the fall riding 650b tires. I had a back up frame all ready to go so the parts swap took 3-4 hours Saturday morning while my girlfriend made pancakes and my cat chewed on every available piece of metal. New bike is a Soma Double Cross Disc with the DX350’s fork. So far it rides awesome and I really like the steel frame/carbon fork combo.

Shake ‘N Brake 2015 100k Race Report

Ooof.

I’ll be filling this in over the next couple of days as I’m pretty whacked from the race and pretty slammed at work.

ETA: It’s hard to explain just how hard this race was. Going in I had suspected it would be muddy and kind of a slog but I did not suspect it would be almost 7 hours of sheer destruction. I was very unhappy at the end, as is the case with any difficult cycling endeavor I was ready to go again the next day and felt really positive about my experience.

Leading up to the race was quite literally 7-8 days of hard rain every single day. Very intense weather, so I knew it would be a little bit muddy but I was prepared for how soft the roads actually were. Every mile that was offroad was a challenge and most of the gravel roads were difficult as well.

Leading up to the race I rode two 15 hour weeks but spent almost no time on the bike I rode during the race. Kind of stupid choices but I lucked out and had no position related issues on race day.2015-04-24_9-21-35

Trying to avoid the lower back pain I have had the past few months I dropped my saddle to the same level as my MTB (about -5mm from the old position) and moved it forward about 2.5mm. Had my tire pressure around 40-45PSI f/r. My set-up worked perfectly, at the end of the race I felt horrible as a human being who had been “racing” for almost 7 hours but had no pain related to my set-up. Tire pressure seemed good too, had decent grip in the muck but felt good on the road. I could feel rim contact if I rode heavy over roots and rocks but by and large I floated pretty well and had no tire issues.

I didn’t do any warm-up, pretty much got on my bike 2 minutes before the neutral roll-out and off we went. I got dropped by the leaders within the first 10 minutes, dropped by the main chase group after about 30 minutes and dropped by the last guy I saw about 40 minutes in. Spent the rest of the race by myself, which was actually pretty nice. Lots of things to think about in those woods.

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I wrote down what I ate after the race and added it all up, I ate around 1500-1700 calories in various forms. I had gels, shot bloks, gatorade, some chex mix and two weird clif bar things. I ate the last two because I felt that “too much carbohydrates, not enough fat” hole in my stomach after about 2 hours, same after about four hours. Overall I think I ate pretty well, if I had know the race would be so much longer I would have had more caffeine and brought a second camelbak. I also think i should have packed in another 100-200 calories but I don’t have any logic for this, just a gut (ha!) feeling.

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Some thoughts added:
The course was actually a pretty nice mix of singletrack, gravel and road (where it wasn’t mud). Having a good position right at the start is a good idea since the first section is a net downhill with a lot of twists and turns and if you’re not a good descender you need to really blast the flats/climbs to maintain your position. The first section of singletrack is pretty much one steep, curvy climb. I ended up dismounting and walking twice since running the whole thing isn’t an option due to a couple quick, short descents.

WTB Nano and Monster Cross?

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After feeling under-gunned at the Assault on Mt Currahee I decided to get something a little bigger/more aggressive than the small block 8 tires I was running. There aren’t a lot of options in the 40c size so I ordered one of the cheaper options and went with the WTB Nano with wire bead. After I ordered the tires it occurred to me that I might want to measure the fork clearance and I found that it might be pretty tight with a large tire. I was a little stressed by this but one I got the tires and mounted them it was obvious I had more than enough room.

The tires are reasonably aggressive and mounted easily. They measured out to 37mm on my 24mm outside width rims. Not really having anywhere else to ride these I decided to take then onto the Sope Creek trails. These trails are fairly technical and rocky/rooty so I figured I would end up going pretty slow. Turns out I was mistaken, the bike and the tires performed really well and I was slower than my MTB but a lot less than I originally expected. My ride ended up be about 20 miles with a little bit less than 4 miles being on trails/gravel, the rest on pavement. I had the tires around 60 PSI and this is obviously way to high for MTB trails but it seemed to work fine, if a little jarring. Toe overlap is a major issue and apparently I love swinging around my front wheel as I had to constantly keep an eye on what I was doing to avoid crashing due to foot/tire interference.

Here’s an example of the lower loop at Sope Creek:IMG_0549

I guess this was technically a monster cross ride so that’s something. In the past I’ve been enamored with the concept, having a kick ass bike that you can take anywhere. In my mind I’d be blasting down the road, see a cool trail and just hop the curb and start shredding some serious gnar. In reality, you’re going have to adjust your tire pressure, run compromise tires that suck as both road and trails and deal with poor human/bicycle fit (toe overlap) or run some weird geometry. The main things I noticed were that the tires were really too small to be fun on the trails and the knobs were too aggressive to be fun on the road. Cornering felt like shit as the bike got all squirrelly due to the knob-flex. I also noted the center rib tended to grab the painted lines and any raised lines in the road. It wasn’t a major issue but it was kind of disconcerting when it happened. Maybe Atlanta area road paint is just exceptionally thick?

Monster cross is probably better for a different environment but after riding my road bikes on gravel and some short trails and then this cyclocross bike with monster cross tires, I’m not quite sure the latter is really needed. I mean, you’re not going to be tackling sick mud pits on road slicks but you can ride pretty much anything that would be fun on a 28c tire, I think.

Messing with setback again.

So I’ve been looking at old pictures of my fixed gear bikes and noticed just how much less setback I used to run. With this in mind I slammed my saddle forward and raised it about 3-4mm. It feels pretty good but now I’ve got a slight twinge in my left knee and my average speed was super low today. I’m thinking I might split the difference in setback, I moved the saddle forward about 25mm and added a 15-20mm longer stem. My plan is to keep the stem the same and maybe move the saddle back around 12-13mm and see how it feels. I’m not sure if the potential benefit will materialize before Southern Cross.

I started messing with my position since I’m having such a hard time climbing seated. I’ve been debating what the cause is but there are a couple things that are no doubt contributing. The number one issue is probably the fact that 70% of my bike time the past three months has been on a single speed. Next on the list is I’m currently riding fairly heavy, it’s winter and I’m just not in great shape. My plan for today is to drop my saddle a few mm test out a little more setback and try to work on seated climbing.

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