Monday, April 04, 2016

Equipment - Off Season Experimenting

(Not a great post but I need to put down some thoughts before I post other things.)

I recently realized I may be going for my record between outside rides, with both rides being races. In 2015 my first outdoor ride was the first race in the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series. My last three rides outside were the second Limerock (July 19th) and two Tuesday Nights (July 28th and August 4th). I haven't ridden outside since. I'm pretty sure my first outdoor ride this year will be whatever race I do in 2016, possibly in May or June. I really don't want to go a year without racing so I want to race by August 4th.

To race, though, I need to make sure my bike is okay.

Winter for me is a time to refresh the equipment, try things out that I've been thinking of trying out. I have a list sorts of things I want to get done. Although I started this post a while back I figure that with today's weather it's appropriate to get this thing up. Now or never, right?

April 4, 2016
The view from our front door.

I have four major bike refreshing/reconditioning thoughts, as follows:

1. Goal: Get black bike up and running. Need: Another stem for that bike, install stem and FSA Compact bars. Install Adamo saddle. Solder in battery in SRM spider, measure slope, make sure wire harness is okay (I think it's not). Install Ant+ speed/cadence sensor for Zwift.

2. Goal: Get red bike up to snuff. Need: rewrap bars (it's been early 2014 since I've wrapped the bars). Replace SRM wire. Get Exustar pedals back on bike. BB30 bearings. Check race wheels.

3. Goal: Experiment with 170mm cranks. Need: fiddle with red bike. I already put the cranks on it.

4. Goal: Experiment with saddle position (related to 170mm cranks). With 5 mm shorter cranks I need 5 mm more set back because my foot doesn't go forward as much. I also need more height, because my foot doesn't drop down as far.

First Goal - Black Bike

I haven't had the black bike rideable since I put the custom stem on the red bike. Those that go to the same races as me might have noticed that I haven't been bringing a spare bike to the races for a couple years now - it's because the black bike isn't rideable.

The main reason is that I haven't ordered another custom stem. I guess it's money I don't want to spend right now. I have the old bar/stem and they fit the same for the drops so that should work for now. If I want to spend a few hundred dollars on a stem I already have the bars for the bike.

I do have a second Adamo saddle that I need to install. The saddle came free courtesy of a pay-it-forward from a member of bikeforums.

The one tricky bit is the 170 mm cranks. I don't have a second set of 170 mm arms for the Cannondale SI cranks, so I may leave 175s on the black bike.

I'm pretty sure the SRM wire is shot on the black bike. Someone asked how such a wire goes bad. Unlike a cyclocomputer (historically the super thin wired cyclocomputers aren't that reliable) the wire plugs directly into the SRM. A cyclocomputer normally sits on a mount, and the wires run into the mount. To repeat, the SRM doesn't plug into a bar mount. Therefore there's some regular movement with the wire  each time you plug and unplug said wire, and I think it makes it go bad. The wired SRMs rely on the wire for cadence, speed, and power. The only wireless aspect of the wired SRM is heart rate.

Since wiring harnesses are about $80-85 each, and I have two bikes, it starts adding up really quick when you consider that for me I need a harness every year or so.

Second Goal - Red Bike

For sure I need to rewrap the bars. It's been about 2 years since I last wrapped them. Enough said.

The SRM wire on the red bike just died a couple rides ago. As mentioned above the wire eventually breaks somewhere so cadence/speed/power data doesn't show up. I have to replace that before I have any kind of power readings and therefore any true experiments with Goal Three.

I put the 170 mm arms on the red bike - the Cannondale SI is a modular crank system so the cranks are separate from the (SRM in this case) spider. I have two sets of 175 mm arms, one set of 170 mm arms. I had some Look Carbon Keo Max pedals on the 170 arms. I slip out of the Keos like nobody's business so I need to switch them out for the Exustars. They're much more reluctant to let my feet out and that's better for me.

One possible solution is to get a wireless SRM. It's possible to upgrade an SRM from wired to wireless (just ask SRM if you have one). Apparently my SRM units are not consistently upgradeable, although I'll find out more what that means. I could sell my SRMs and buy a wireless, and use no power on one bike (leave it on the trainer for Zwift?). This is sort of jumbly totally not solid anything kind of stuff right now though.

My BB30 bearings are worn. I need to replace them.

I need to double check my race wheels to make sure they're okay. I'm sure they are but I don't want to find out at a precious race day that they're not okay.

Third and Fourth Goal - 170 mm cranks and resulting position and pedaling changes

I've been riding 170s for about a month now. It's not a super long time to acclimate to a different crank length but it's enough time to notice a few things. For historical reference I rode 170s from about 1983-1988, 1995 to 2003, in 2009, and in 2011. The last two times (2009, 2011) I was looking to regain lost speed and instead lost a good 30-50 feet in the sprints. I'm furiously chugging the Kool Aid though and I'm hoping that the 170s will help me this time. Otherwise I'll go back to the 175s. With the 170s there are a few things I know about.

First, for some reason, with 170s I need to be toe in a bit. With 175s I need to be toe out. I adjusted my cleats a couple times in about 20 minutes and it's been good since. I had historical precedence so I knew I needed about yay much toe in. Took me two tries, and about 10 minutes of pedaling gingerly to confirm, and I was good to go.

Next, since 170s have 5 mm less reach and drop than the 175s, I had to push the saddle back 5 mm and raise it 5 mm. I raised it a bit more, I think 4 mm extra, because it felt like my back was a bit flatter, but my knees screamed in protest. I quickly lowered it to the baseline and my knees recovered - it took about 3 weeks but they're okay now.

I do know that too much more set back and I'm pretty far back in terms of knee-pedal relationship. I'm slightly forward right now, but not much. The Adamo saddle lets me move back without much problem, so I've been pedaling lower rpm from further back, higher rpm sitting up front. My older saddles really didn't let me do that so this is a nice change.

So that's it for now. It's been pretty busy in a time consuming way here at home so it's tough for me to write posts. I do have a few thoughts jotted down in draft form (a couple hundred to be honest, but maybe 10 or 12 in the last few months). I hope to find time to get those out there shortly. For now this is it.