Friday, February 26, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 5 - Post Actual Size

This part of the bike timeline has to do with my boomerang, first leaving Cannondale, then rediscovering the brand.

I had a good friend with a Specialized M2, and I decided to get a matching bike.

1995: Specialized M2 S-Works, same parts as the red bike. Peak wheel count at this time = about 30 pairs of wheels. Rider weight approximately 142-145 lbs. Max speed on this bike - over 64 mph, my highest ever on any bike.

I returned to 170s on this bike. Take-off cranks, actually, cranks that a customer told us he didn't want. He sponsored our team for a couple years, and, trust me, he didn't need the old cranks.

The original Campy Vento wheels, higher spoke count versions of the original Shamals. They weighed a ton but were strong, fast, reliable, and stiff. Well, until you hit a sunken manhole cover at 45 mph while drafting an 18-wheeler.

Note the Scott Rakes optimistically installed on the bike. Setup with mountain bike pedals (winter time, and I wore insulated mountain bike shoes), a single shop bottle, and a white saddle I still have and use. You can see the N-Gear Jump Stop as well, peeking out from behind the small ring. I've tried to install one on every bike I've had since I discovered them.

I figure I took this picture in the winter, or before some big road race. By the time summer rolled around I'd usually have given up on the Rakes, I'd put on a second cage, and some trusty old aero wheels ended up on my bike. The white saddle, the heavy wheels, they all scream "steady speed efforts".

Winter, in other words.

Or not:

The M2 in angry mood. Picture by GMF. Zipp 340 front, the ever trusty TriSpoke rear.

14 cm stem, crit bars, and Ergo levers. This would be an 8 speed bike. I can't believe he caught me in the middle of the field, at a perfect moment. By now I was running SPD-Rs (the non-Look Shimano pedal) and Sidis. My weight would have been in the mid 140s.

With Mike K at Ninigret Park, RI.

This was earlier in the day from the picture above. Some optimism still shows in our faces. The actual race didn't work out so well.

This was our era of "professional Cat 3 racer" lives. We'd train after the shop closed for the night (Mike worked there too), ride, then spend an hour or two overhauling our bikes.

Repeat each evening.


A tough moment in a tough race. Keith Berger is on my wheel. The Punisher, at the front, is punishing me for beating him at the Tour de Pump.

Unbelievably that's the first turn at Bethel. The dirt lot behind is now a parking lot for a big building housing Navone Studios. One of the Sleepy Hollow riders from this story sits behind Keith.

The M2's claim to fame? I left the original spec headset in place (sold off the rest of the bike to finance the frame/fork purchase). I figured the round bearing headset would be good for a few months and then it'd be toast. I started planning on my cool Chris King headset purchase. Only one problem.

I never needed to replace it.

In fact, it's still good.

Anyone need a threaded 1" headset? Good condition.

Yeah, I still have the frame and fork. I finally cracked the right chainstay and had to retire the frame.

2000?: Giant ONCE TCR, size Med, Campy 9s Daytona (before it changed name) build kit. The kit had Chorus cranks among other things. Claim to fame: built on my washer and dryer. I also weighed 203+ at some point while I raced this bike.

The Giant had the first threadless headset system for me. I hated that system for a long time - it was hard coming off of the Specialized headset, one that never needed anything. The threadless wasn't so hands-free.

The laundry folding table.

I built the bike on the washer and dryer.

I'm not sure why I took pictures of the build but I did.

Almost done.

Closer up of "almost done".

After the build. No tape because I'd ride the bike on the trainer before I wrapped the bars.

Interestingly enough, that's the saddle I have on the Tsunami, right now. In 2010.

An early, heavy race. Years later, when I saw this picture, I actually wondered who was wearing the green kit. The missus wondered how I got into the kit, it was so tight on me. My friend Greg.

I weighed about 200 lbs and lasted maybe 4 minutes in the first race that year. I won a field sprint later in the Series. It's amazing what a little racing will do for the legs.

I rode Spinergy wheels for a long time, promoting the brand because I wanted to do so. My friend worked for them and I have a passing acquaintance with the actual inventor (I've mentioned him earlier in this bike timeline series - he helped design the original Cannondale race frame). If only they'd have refined them a bit, with no UCI meddling (like the 16 spoke minimum rule), I think the wheels could have been great. They had a lot of potential, but, ultimately they were only "medium".

A current wheel guru said that he wished he had that tensioned spoke patent. Those are some significant words coming from the guru in question.

Within a year or so I'd ditched the red stem in favor of one by Ritchey WCS. I haven't used a non-Ritchey stem since (except on the tandem).

The Giant had a 55.5 top tube with a 73 degree head tube. It was the first bike I ever raced that had a 73 degree head angle - the other frames were crippled with anywhere from a 70.5 to 72 head angle. The 73 made me feel like I could slalom around little gravel stones while sprinting full bore.

I cracked the chainstay on the first one. I got another and fell hard when I unclipped sprinting out of a corner of a crit. I'd loosened my SPD-Rs so I could unclip without hammering on my shoe with my fist, but I'd loosened them too much. I gouged the top tube so relegated the frame to indoor use.

Hammering with my fist didn't seem too bad after that.

Claim to fame for that crash? The first one the missus kinda sorta witnessed. She didn't witness the crash. She did wonder where I was in the field when the field went by the start/finish line. She didn't see me because hen it went by her I was crawling off the road, onto some broken glass of all things, a few hundred meters away.

I got up, got to the pits, got a sympathetic grin from the original Bethel Spring Series official (he was the pit official), and got back in the race. A bent chain link meant I couldn't stand in any gear, and my road rash started getting uncomfortable. I sat up, my gears skipping, my chain about to fail.

I rode back to the missus, bleeding from various spots around my body.

That's when the missus realized how hard I'd gone down.

I visited the ambulance and got a bit bandaged up. I'd forgotten how much road rash stung - the last time I'd gotten road rash was back in the early-mid 90s.

As I lost weight I started yearning for a lower bar position. The tall head tube on the size Medium Giant worked for my heavy self, but even 10 pounds less and I felt like I was on a mountain bike. I bought a Ritchey adjustable stem and pointed the stem down all the way. It didn't seem right, to need to do that.

So I searched and searched for a frame that would let me connect the dots (cranks-saddle-bars) without too much weirdness.

I retired the frame after taking a lot of measurements one winter and finally finding a frame that would work. I can't find the pictures, but I Sharpied the frame with all sorts of cryptic markings. Using advanced plane geometry (for me anyway) I realized that I could replicate my saddle-bar relationship on a size S Giant. So size S it was. The yellow Giant would be retired.

Hanging in the basement.

2005: Giant TCR Carbon, Small, Campy 10s Record/Chorus. Minimum weight of rider 175, max 198? lbs. Reynolds DV46 tubulars for race day, some clinchers for training.

I upgraded the drivetrain to 10s towards the end of one of the Bethel Spring Series. I'd been struggling in the races, but on the first day on the 10s I won the field sprint. I joked that if I upgraded the whole bike I'd win my next race.

I used Eurus exclusively for a while - the only 10s wheels I had.

I used carbon 175 cranks for a while, eventually replacing them with Campy Record cranks for their lower Q factor (i.e. the crank was narrower overall, making the pedals closer to the centerline of the bike.)

I got the tubular DV46s in preparation for the 2005 Bethel Spring Series. Combined with a long training camp in California, with a prior one in Florida, I was flying in the Series. I finally won it on the last day.

2006: Giant TCR Aluminum, Small, Campy 10s R/C (back up for carbon TCR above). I rarely rode this, disassembled it to steal parts (just the stem, post, and bars) for the Cannondale and then the Tsunami.

My 2006 California training camp. Note the squared off road bars - this meant I wasn't working on my sprint at all. My host Rich is with me. I borrowed the missus's wheels for the trip.

I loved the feel of the size Small Giant, and when I spec'ed out the Tsunami, I used the Giant's seat tube as the basis for my seat tube requests. It's 4 cm shorter than the carbon Giant, measuring 40 cm to the top of the top tube, 44 cm to the top of the seat tube.

I had to change the fork - the original Giant fork wasn't good over 45-50 mph. Seemed a bit flexible.

The two Giants at Bethel. The aluminum one is the lighter colored one with the white saddle. Note the Reynolds Ouzo fork on the aluminum bike.

Let's transition back to the carbon Giant because, although I bought the aluminum one later, I rode the carbon one the most. And, towards the end of its career, I made a significant change to the bike.


Carbon. From this post. The Coke bottle is upside down, a trick I learned from a visiting Rabobank rider (visiting the area, not me).

The Giant had the first ever powermeter I owned - a PowerTap. Once I had power I never looked back. I started looking for a crank based power system after I realized that I would need to buy four or five PT hubs to rebuild my wheels, and that one or two of them would be impossible to build with a PT hub (the 21 spoke Eurus, the "no-spoke" TriSpoke, and my 20 spoke Reynolds).

I found an awesome deal on an SRM. It was about $1k more than the cost of the power system, but it came with a free SystemSix frame, Fulcrum 1 wheels, and a Record build kit.

Yeah, it was a System Six team replica SRM Record bike. I called the missus to feel out how she felt about me buying the thing.

Her response?

She wondered why I hadn't already done a "Buy It Now".

2007: Cannondale SystemSix, 52 cm frame, SRM/Record 10s. Post, stem, bars from the aluminum Giant above. DV46 clincher wheels to replace the stock Fulcrum 1s.

Bike as set up shortly after it went together, with the Reynolds clinchers.

Initially I set up the bike with one of my trusty Ritchey stems, crit bars, trusty Thomson post, and a yearned-for Reynolds DV46 clincher wheelset (to perfectly match my DV46 tubulars).

Then, after a year on the stock 170s, I moved back to 175s. Immediately felt better for certain races. Immediately felt worse for others. I think starting the season on 175s is best for me, moving to 170s for the faster, warmer part of the year.

That's about where I've been for the last couple years.

And now?

The Tsunami.

(You'll have to wait a bit for that post since I haven't done a post-test ride post on it.)

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