Friday, May 22, 2009

Equipment - Riggio Plans

Recently I updated the Riggio, swapping out the crank and bottom bracket combo.

However, I really feel the need to update the wheels on the bike. My big gear tendencies, along with a poor one to three minute threshold, meant that aero wheels should help a bit. They'd allow me to maintain the same speed at a lower wattage, helping me either stay in the race (first goal) or have the strength to do stuff when it counts (second goal). I also want to replace the heavy front wheel.

Based on my current "inventory", I have a couple choices.

First I can go "light".

I have a nice 32 hole Sun M17 tubular rim (340 grams on the scale, I checked). I'd previously built the wheel and then promptly unlaced it because the pinned seam was so bad. Well, bad for braking. For the track it shouldn't be a problem. I never rebuilt it, so it has about an hour of tension on it, max.

I also have a matching 19mm tubular tire. See, the M17 rim is 17 mm wide, and it was designed for a 19 mm tire. I have such a combination in the rear, and it's working fine. These wheels would be great for the hard accelerations required in races like the Chariot or Match Sprint.

A couple weeks ago I disassembled an old front wheel - Ultegra hub, Araya ADX-4 rim with an extra hole in it the size of a sheet rock screw - to salvage the hub. And with the trio of Japanese standard front track axles I just got, the hub will become a track axle.

Okay, either that one or the Dura Ace hub'ed wheel that is still intact. I haven't decided, but since the DA wheel was rideable and only recently built, I felt kind of bad taking it apart.

But writing this has made up my mind. That DA wheel, as it exists now, will perish soon.

Either way I'll need 300 mm spokes to lace up the M17 rim. I have to check my stash for what I have left, but I'm pretty sure I have either 299s or 300s in there somewhere. I have gobs of spoke nipples so it's just a matter of putting things together.

If I don't have the longer spokes, I'll look into a 2 cross pattern. I don't want to go radial, not with the weak flanges of a first generation Ultegra hub, and one cross seems a bit pointless.

I just have one rear wheel, the aforementioned M17-rimmed wheel. A Suntour Superbe Pro hub sits in the middle, a beautiful hub even in today's standards. Except for possibly relacing the wheel with 2.0 Revolution spokes (to reduce weight) and possibly tying the spokes together (to increase stiffness, which, on the bumpy track may be counterproductive), I'm happy with the wheel.

The other way I can go is "aero".

And I have everything for that, both front and rear wheels. The front is a circa 1994 Specialized TriSpoke wheel, threaded for a freewheel. These are the ones that can be converted to a front wheel easily, needing only a normal front axle set for a Suzue cartridge bearing hub. Luckily I have that set up, and with the addition of the second of the trio of track axles, the TriSpoke will be reborn a track wheel. I'll need to glue a tire (a take-off Conti that's too lumpy for the road will be fine) and voila, instant aero track wheel.

For the back I have a circa-1995 Specialized TriSpoke rear freehub wheel. These cannot be converted to a front wheel, but, hopefully, they can be converted to a track wheel. I bought a conversion kit made by Surly, and if it works out, I should be golden.

If not, I'll be looking to either unload the kit or find a hub that works with it. For example, if the conversion kit makes the wheel sit off center in the frame, I can't use it. On a spoked wheel I could just re-dish the thing, but with a TriSpoke I lose that option (it's a rigid three spoke wheel).

For now I've decided to stick with the 50x15 big monster gear. It suits me for now, and I'll eventually get a spare wheel with a much larger cog for warming up and working on my spin.

Of course, I could always work on, say, smoothing out my pedal stroke or even (gasp!) working on fitness.

For pedal stroke stuff, I figure I'll get a bigger cog, maybe a 16T, maybe even a 17T. I'll stick that on a wheel for warming up, focusing on crazy spinning. I want to figure out how to get the bike stable on the trainer (it wobbles like crazy) and how to shorten the wheelbase on the Kreitler rollers (the front axle is about an inch behind the roller axle). That'll give me the option of riding the track bike on a day other than Wednesday evenings in New Hampshire. I also do much better with technique experimentation while riding indoors in a controlled environment. I have a feeling I'll need to lower my saddle some, and I want to confirm this in some kind of semi-controlled manner.

I'll also be working on specific efforts, namely the ones that make me falter in a race. These include doing smooth, steady efforts after a jump (like chasing down a break), high level 1-3 minute efforts (2-6 lap efforts), and, of course, maximizing my top speed.

The latter I want to do "just because". It's the thing I least need to work on but it's a whole lot of fun going 100% on the track. I just want to zing the speedometer and see what it hits.

The first two efforts will take some doing, especially motivating myself mentally, but I think I have a good idea: I'll helmet-cam a day of racing and use the resulting video as a timer for my efforts.

I also want to install a cyclometer with cadence because it'll give me an idea of what works for me and what doesn't. If I hit the same top speed in a 48x15 as a 50x15, but I can acclerate faster, I'll know to use a 48x15. If my top speed drops dramatically, I'll know not to do so.

Finally I want to do some more sprints while at the race. Not just in races, but in the "between" periods. Being able to wind out the Riggio is a lot of fun, and "saving" myself for just the races limits me to perhaps one or two sprints a night. By blasting out 6 or 7 sprints during warm up and warm down, I can get in a much more intense evening of riding. I learn a lot about myself and how I interact with the track each time I go, and I don't want to dwaddle during the evening and let some precious potential lessons fritter themselves away.


Maybe I can get some of that stuff done tonight. Equipment stuff, not the training stuff.


crispy said...

I've been toying with the idea of doing some track racing with my fixie, but from the sound of things on your blog it's geared a little high - 52x14. Whatcha think?

Aki said...

52x14 is huge - 100" gear. More typical would be a 88-90" gear, a 49x15 (88"), 50x15 (90"), or, if you use a bigger ring, a 52x16 (88") or 53x16 (89"). I was told a really big gear was a 51x15 (92").

You could get a 16T and call it a day, as long as you can move your wheel forward in your dropout (the 16T will use 2 more links compared to the 14T, so your wheel will move forward in the dropout about 1/2").

However, the gearing bit is really true when dealing with an opponent. This is because you have to deal with a combination of acceleration and speed, since it does no good if you're geared for a 45 mph top speed but can't accelerate fast enough to stay on your opponent's wheel.

Note: gear inches is the theoretical wheel diameter or 2x the theoretical radius of a wheel directly connected to your cranks, so a 90" gear means it could be a 90" diameter wheel with a 1:1 pedal connection (like a tricycle with a 90" tall front wheel, or a same:same gear like a 24x24).

For example, in my first Chariot race (standing start, 1 lap mass start race), by the time I took about 2 down strokes, my opponents had taken perhaps 3 or 4. So I went 2 x 90" x Pi and they were at 3 or 4 x Pi x 89". Guess who was 1/8 lap down 1/2 lap later? Yep, me.

At the same time, if, in a match sprint, I keep the initial tempo pretty high, guys can only accelerate so much before hitting top speed. If I'm not tired yet, I can jump to their speed to match them (because we're rolling fast enough that I can still jump on a 90" gear). However, now I have the upper hand - I have yet another jump to *my* top speed based on my bigger gear.

When doing solo events, gear is less important because you're not worried about keeping up with someone. In 1984 Rory O'Reilly, the US team's Kilo rider, used something like a 52x12 to do the Kilo. He rolled awful slow off the line but he had immense strength and could roll that 117" gear really fast once he got going. He did a 1:02 or so if I remember correctly. That's a very good time even nowadays.

crispy said...

cool, thanks for the response!