Monday, September 16, 2013

Equipment - End of Season Maintenance

Not to be confused with "Beginning of Season Maintenance", naturally.

The end of each season sees the normal wear and tear on the bike, the stuff that you think, "Well, it should be okay next week". My thought process usually goes a bit more like, "Well, I'll replace that part next week".

In Maine I don't think I mentioned it in the post but right before I left for the last Kingman Loop I switched out the cleats. It's one thing to break a cleat at home, no more than about 20 minutes away from home base, with so little elevation changes that it takes me 40 hours of riding to climb the same amount as 8 hours of "flat" riding in Maine.

It's another thing to break a cleat in a place where I may not have a cell signal, there aren't any bike shops around, and where I may be a couple hours ride away from home base. Even if I had a signal it may be that the calvary, i.e. any potential help, may not have a signal.

Finally there's the off chance that I run into some wolf or something, even get bitten by a couple of dogs.

With these factors in mind I felt it prudent to swap out the cleats. I didn't know when I'd last replaced the cleats but I thought it was in the spring. However, checking back on Strava, it seems that I replaced the cleats last June. Based on my Strava log I have about 200 hours on the cleats. This includes a bit more walking around than normal at some points, especially at Bethel, and a bit less than normal, like my trainer rides. Whatever, 200 hours is pretty good. I'm at 140+ hours for 2013 and I did 75 hours in 2012 on them after June 2012.

I also took the opportunity to twist the left cleat a touch. Usually I like my heel to miss the crank by about 10 mm. For whatever reason I had my heel a bit closer and I found myself twisting my foot outward all the time. This didn't do much for my clipped in confidence as I unclipped somewhat regularly. With short rides and races I kept forgetting about it, but in Maine, with lots of time, I thought about it a lot.

Therefore when I replaced the cleats I adjusted the left one. Of course I then had a really fast ride (for me) immediately after. No knee pain either, and I have really, really fragile knees.

I kick myself when I realize stuff like this.

I mean, I knew it before, but it didn't seem important enough to deal with it. When I finally deal with it I'd think, "Why didn't I do that earlier?"

Along those lines I switched out my cranks. My SRM battery died in July or something and I've been too lazy to fix it. First I needed to find my Cannondale SI crank tools, which I lent the shop when they faced the BB shell. Ends up I buried it in my gear bag so I'd never forget it. Next I needed to stage a new battery (I have it and I know where it is) and solder it in. Finally I wanted to make a decision on crank length.

This year I committed to the 170 cranks. In 2010, my best recent year, I was on 175s, and I was on them since 2004 (minus a break in 2008) after I dropped a friend and returning to racing road rider while on my 175mm crank mountain bike. I then went to do sprints with a 175 mm road crank and went 10 mph faster than my previous 170mm sprint. I wasn't in shape but I figured that some of that 10 mph had to have come from the longer cranks.

I wanted to try 170s again because in my heyday, back in the 80s and 90s, I rode 167.5s and I was literally 6-8 mph faster in my fastest sprints. I thought I could regain that speed by getting shorter cranks.

Unfortunately aging 20 years had something to do with my loss of speed, and 170s actually made me slower than the 175s. In similar circumstances (tailwind sprint on the same course) I was about 3 mph slower on the 170s. Also I haven't even gotten a whiff of those heyday type speeds while on the 170s.

Therefore I gave up on the 170s.

Instead of doing a new battery and stuff I just put the other SRM Cannondale SI cranks on, the ones from the black bike. The battery is good, I have a second head unit so no calibrating, and it has both the 175s and my best-so-far Keos, the Carbons.

BB axle looks fine

The two right side crank arms.

That's another thing. The Keo Max2 pedals feel really loose, like really loose. The Carbons, allegedly possessing the same retaining force, are much more decisive in their grasp of the cleat. I made the assumption that the Keo Max2s would have the same retaining power due to the same newton-meter rating, but alas the pedals easily give up the cleat.

So my overall changes are as follows:
1. New cleats on my shoes (and they didn't change the retention feel on the Keo Max2s).
2. 175mm crank arms, instead of 170mm. This involves dropping the saddle 5mm to keep the saddle-pedal distance consistent.
3. Second SRM spider with newer/working battery.

I approached my first ride on the 175s with some caution. Longer cranks means a bit more stress on the knees, not because of the higher leverage but because your leg closes more with a longer crank. It opens the same amount, based on the same saddle height, but your knee closes up more. This means more pressure on the knee cap at the top of the pedal stroke.

Well I got on the bike, did some spinning while deliberately not looking at the SRM headunit, and then peeked when things felt okay.

110 rpm.


I expected 90 rpm or lower, after coming from the 170s. Apparently I'm more used to the 175s, even after a season on the 170s.

For 15 minutes I averaged over 100 rpm on the 175s.

No knee twinges, no weird aches, nothing.

I geared up and slowed down my pedaling speed.

One concern with the 175s was that my legs would come up a bit more, a total of 1 cm, based on the fact that my saddle dropped 5mm but the cranks come up 5mm more as well. In my 2012 fitness levels, or even my early 2013 fitness level, I was basically too fat to ride the 175s without gut punching myself with my quads on each pedal stroke.

Now, at the end of 2013, having dropped 12-13 pounds since March, I can pedal the 175s fine.

If I can continue the trend and get down another 10 pounds or so, I'll be back at or close to my 2010 weight. That was a good year, and I hope to at least start 2014 in a similar fashion.

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