Saturday, January 26, 2008

Equipment - Preparing to Race

With my upcoming West Coast Training Camp coming up, I started to finalize preparations for the trip. I've been hoarding the clothing I'll bring out there so I don't have to worry about washing and drying stuff the night before I leave. I've been careful to put extra parts and pieces as necessary in my gear bag.

And, as of last night, my bike now has a zero setback post and the criterium bend Mavic 350 bars.

Since I got two scales for Christmas, one for components and one for bikes, I decided to weigh the parts I removed and compare them to the weights of the parts I'd be installing.

Unfortunately for me, the net result of my "fit" work was a gain of about 90 grams, 0.2 pounds. I removed the lightweight Alien carbon post (whose design I'm not fond of anyway) and installed in its place a Thomson post (the normal one, not the lighter Masterpiece) and a shim to adapt it to the 31.6 mm seat tube. This resulted in a 53 gram gain, but the faster, more forward position should be well worth it.

What it looks like now. It's level, the angle makes it look like it's pointing down. I stayed with the Fizik seat.

I got to raise my seat a bit (because to keep the sacred BB-seat distance consistent, if you move the saddle forward, closer to the BB, you also have to move it up). This minute change will also improve my aerodynamics since I can hold a low position more easily, and, I hope, my top speed.

The latter reason is in my head since I have no empirical proof, but it seems to hold true. And therefore it works for me.

The tape before I removed it. Seemed a pity but it had to be done.

The other thing I did was to lose the 3ttt anatomic road bar, the wide and squared off bar I like in the winter. It's great for long rides but horrible for sprinting or threading through miniscule gaps in the field. I replaced it with a long-discontinued Mavic 350 crit bar. These narrower bars are better for getting up front when necessary, and the extra centimeter of drop will let me hold a more forward rotated, lower position.

As far as the numbers, I gained 10 mm in drop, lost 15 mm in width and gained 37 grams in weight.

Again, though, this is functional weight. I wouldn't sacrifice the fit of the crit bar for a few grams of saved weight.

The last thing I need to do is to swap out the normal brake pads for the carbon specific Swiss Stop pads. After a fruitless search for exactly how to do swap the pads, I winged it. I'll be posting my 'findings' in a later post.

With the right brake pads I can slow how and when I need to do so, and that'll give me the confidence necessary to descend like a madman out West. With the shorter descents around here I've been able to comfortably hit 45 mph with no sprinting, no unusually aggressive tucks, in freezing cold conditions, all this on non-aero box section wheels.

The warmer climate out west lets me wear thinner gear, allowing me to tuck much more aggressively, sprint faster, and attempt to attain higher top speeds. The Cannondale SystemSix frameset feels much more stable and predictable than my Giant TCR, and on that Giant I was hitting 50 mph before I lost my nerves out west. With the aero wheels I recently got for training, I hope the SystemSix will let me accelerate until I hit the aerodynamic wall, not force me to brake once I lost confidence in the bike.

As a follow up to the weight gaining fit updates, I attempted to lose some of the gained weight by swapping out the standard cable housing and replacing it with the Nokon stuff I have on two other bikes. I'm not keen on the shifter housing but the brakes should be fine. I don't know the weight difference but the Nokon stuff feels noticeably lighter than the steel Ergo housing.

I confirmed this when I swapped out the brake housing. Without compromising any shifting (I prefer the real stuff for the shift housing), the Nokons dropped 25 of the 90 grams I gained for a net gain of 65 grams. Not a lot for the significant functional and fit upgrades which caused the gain.

After a final session of riding, to make sure the levers are straight (because no matter what they're always crooked) I'll be wrapping the bars.

And then the bike will be done.

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