Sunday, August 28, 2011


A dozen or so cyclists from our local area made the trip out to Deerfield, Mass to ride the Deerfield Dirt and Road Randonee, aka the D2R2. This ride is known for its challenging climbs, narrow twisting dirt and gravel roads, scenic overlooks, and believe it or not, great food and drink. Organizers this year added a 115K route to the customary 100K and the 180K loops. I have done the 100K ride several times and i wanted to try the all new 115K ride. Stacy, Liz, Abbie, Brad, Seth, Mark, Tom, Chuck aka Q, Art and i all felt the 115K was the correct ride this year. It was a good choice.

The ride is organized as a Randonee, which means its timed, but its not a race. The challenge is to stay on course by following the detailed cue sheet and to simply finish. Believe me, just to finish feels really good. The 115K route was significantly different from the 100K and it road more like 150K because of all the elevation changes. All the rides start from a 'start chute' that allows all riders to start at their own schedule within a 30 minute window. Simply line up in the chute, sign the book with your start time, and then you are off. Art, Q, Stacy and i were all off and navigating the course at 8:02, two minutes into our start window. The route started easy enough with some road sections through the picturesque Town of Old Deerfield. Soon we were onto dirt and pace lining along South Green River Road, a cool undulating dirt road where you could easily average >24 mph. The Keltic train swept us up here and we picked up the pace. Better than the swift pace was the scenery. The river water flows crystal clear over a rocky bed that parallels the dirt road. Cairns can be spotted here and there if at 24 mph you can take your eye off the wheel in front of you. After a quick stop at the water stop, we were back into the woods and a completely new section for D2R2. This was a 'jeep road' that was steep, rocky and muddy as any MTB trail i've ridden. It took all my energy to clean this section. And then we climbed some more. At the end of a long grind, i came across Q napping at a T intersection on a sun filled patch of grass. Gee, was i that far behind? We climbed some more, descended and then climbed some more.
The cue sheet is interesting reading enough by itself. Notes of caution like, "left at Cowpath # 40", "livestock often in road", "a hard dirt climb", "a very hard dirt climb", "a super-hard dirt climb". The word "climb" shows up all over the cue sheet and is not wasted on small elevation changes. If it says "climb", believe me, you are working very hard. At about 30+ miles, we started a gradual descent on sketchy roads back to the Green River Road area for lunch. Lunch was awesome. 3 or 4 different kinds of subs (grinders for the New Englanders), PB and J, cookies, salads, bananas, energy drinks, soda, and more. We sat and ate. It was remarkable how uncrowded the lunch stop was. Riders came in and out on their own schedule and there never was a crush of people, as the organizers have really spread out the riders with the start schedule.
We left the lunch area (oh, i failed to mention that the lunch area is in a grassy park on the River next to a covered bridge, very cool) and immediately started climbing again. This section of the 115K had three major climbs... the hard, very hard and super hard. The Pennel Hill climb was notable for me because i had to dismount and walk! I was completely gassed. I was spinning in a 36 (front ring) and a 27 tooth rear cog and i could just barely turn over the pedals. If i stood up, the rear tire would spit dirt and gravel and i would be almost balanced at a full stop. I alternated between standing, trying to smooth out the pedal stroke and then sitting to maintain forward motion. Eventually, i lost. The dirt, gravel, and % grade, won out over me, my poor fitness and lack of balancing skills. I got off and walked until my heart rate was back to recognizable numbers. I glanced back down the hill and saw Artie still pedaling up the hill! What an animal. I was to learn later that i was simply hallucinating and he was off the bike too. He told me that he looked up the hill and saw me off the bike walking and thought to himself ... "Holy crap, i should turn around now and go home". Now with Pennel Hill etched into my brain forever, we regrouped and limped towards Patton (the super-hard) Hill. This hill is part of the 180K loop also and has quite the reputation. I was determined not to walk. The Q recharged somehow and was up the hill ahead of me. I road with 4 guys from BHCC. Good company. One asked me if this was the infamous Patten Hill. I blurted out "yes" in between gasps. He asked me how much longer is this hill? Gee, i don't know. We had been climbing for what seemed to be days. Its my first time up the Hill. I have no idea how long. I thought i should stop, pull out my cell phone, call Q, and see if he reached the top yet and then report back to the BHCC guy. Yikes, i was losing my mind. I replied "I don't know". I did make it without a dismount, and at the top collapsed at the final refreshment station. These folks now how to reward riders. They had watermelon, water, energy drinks, fruit, brownies, and more cookies. Yum. We re-grouped and headed off on the fourth and final leg. The cue sheet listed this final leg at 11.9 miles with 1100 feet of ... of course... climbing. Some of this was recognizable to me from previous years. One rocky downhill section was a hoot, with tennis ball and bowling ball size rocks everywhere. The cue sheet called it "gnarly". Yes it was.
Eight, nine or ten miles later, we were on pavement and the BHCC boys decided to behave like the lead out train for Mark Canvendish. My legs were screaming, so i sat in and used every trick and excuse i know in order not to contribute. Finally the tents came into view and i could smell the food. Checked-in, changed, and immediately went to the Berkshire Brewing Company beer truck to get my pint glass and redeem my ticket for a special Franklin Land Trust IPA. The food was great... BBQ'd chicken, ribs, salads, fresh organic grown green beans, and more. What a finish. We re-grouped again under the tents, ate, drank, traded stories, and then packed up all before Hurricane Irene made her appearance. I'll do it again. I want to conquer Pennel Hill.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gluing up some new tires on some old wheels

I developed a technique that I describe here that I think is a great way to remove old glue from an aluminum rim.

This week, I glued a new pair of Challenge Grifo Cyclocross tires onto a set of Mavic Ksyrium SL aluminum wheels.  The first step, of course, was to stretch the tires onto a old set of rims. I then pumped up the tires to about 60 psi and let those sit for several days. I also add some sealant to the sidewalls while the tires are stretching and the sidewalls are still nice and clean. I then went about removing the old Grifos from the wheels. The front tire came off with the usual amount of prying and tugging. The rear tire took a bit more effort and I had to use a bicycle tire lever to pry up the tire. I then I slid the lever under the tire, between the tire and the rim to further work the tire off and use the leverage of the tire iron to get the tire off. It eventually came off.
I was now faced with an ugly view of old glue on the rim and I needed to find the best method of cleaning the old rim, prior to gluing the new tires.

I had seen and read about several methods of removing glue online. One method involved heating the rim, a section at a time with a hair dryer to loosen the glue, and then pick off the glue with a dull butter knife. That method proved to be rather inefficient. Here is a picture of a small section of the rim after heating and picking glue off.
This effort took me 15 to 20 minutes to complete.  For 20 more sections on my Ksyrium, it would conservatively work out to be 300 minutes or 5 hours of work per wheel. 10 hours of painstaking heating and picking for two wheels. Not to mention the many Band-Aids for all the nicks and cuts on my fingers and hands.
Others recommend scraping just the big chunks off and then coating the rim with some fresh glue. The idea being that the new glue will fill in the voids and irregularities of any old glue still on the rim. Many blog entries say that its never necessary to remove all the old glue. Others recommend removing all the glue with chemicals, such as acetone.  The problem in my mind with using chemicals is the risk of any chemical residue left over from the cleaning will compromise the new glue that needs to be applied. Besides, Acetone is really toxic, so I was not going to use acetone.
I remember seeing some pictures online where someone used a grinder of some sort to grind off all the glue. That gave me the idea to use a portable electric hand drill with a wire brush to remove the old glue. Here is what I did. I used a wire brush as pictured here:
Remember, I am working on aluminum rims. NOT CARBON! With the wheel positioned on a piece of wood on the floor, and one half of the rim held between my knees, I used an electric drill with the above brush attached, to scrape off the glue. The outside edge of the brush fit nicely into the curvature of the rim. I also found I could regulate the pressure applied and get nearly all the glue off the small section of rim in seconds. The result looks like:
I cleaned the entire wheel in about 5 to 10 minutes. What I also discovered was, with the brush spinning at such a high rpm, it would simultaneously heat, soften, and remove the glue. Depending on how long i kept the brush moving on the rim surface, I could actually leave a very thin layer of glue on the rim. The rim surface looks clean but there remains a very thin layer of glue. I am thinking that this will be a good thing. I would think that if there is any dirt on the rim, the dirt would absolutely have to come off. In my case, the rim was not contaminated with dirt; it just had a lot of chunks of old glue.  I was  careful not to grind down to bare metal. As you can see from the picture, the original paint from the rim remains. What is not apparent from the picture is the surface is very smooth to the touch and ready for a couple of thin new coats of glue.
I would like to hear people’s opinion on this method. Are there any flaws in what I have described here that I am not aware of? What do folks think of this method of cleaning old glue off of rims in preparation of gluing on new tires?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 4 and 5 at Natz

Its been 'cross all day everyday. What an awesome week so far. On Friday, Connie and i got up early to get out to the the frozen tundra of a course to see Emma White (CBRC) and her brother Curtis (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team) race. Emma's race was early.... 8 AM, and it was like zero degrees out. Emma got a great start and the race quckly turned into a two person race between Emma and a girl from Albequerque New Mexico. Emma came out of the wooded section in first place and then crashed on an easy left hander just prior to crossing the road to the 'lower' part of the course. The two girls battled back and forth. Each taking turns sliding out on corners and taking over the lead position. On the last lap, Emma was in front but crashed hard approaching the barriers and the other girl took over first place. On a snowy uphill approach to the road that linked the course to the steep icy uphill, the girl from NM slid and was on the ground, Emma was just about to go around, when Emma got caught up in a tape post at the same troublesome spot. Now all that was left in the race was the tricky uphill 'horse shoe' climb, a bumpy icy downhill and then a pavement blast to the finish line. NM girl had maybe a 20 meter lead on the pavement, but Emma was charging. At the right hand turn onto the finish stretch, Emma had closed the gap to about 5 bike lengths and she was smoking. Emma finished about a bike length back for a well deserved Silver medal. This race turned out to be one of the most exciting races of the day.

Next up was Curtis. Curtis was lined up in the 4th row due to some inexplicable computer glitch. No matter, because after the gun went off, Curtis had blown through rows 3 and then row 2. He was top ten after the first corner. He and team mate Nate Morse rode cleanly through much of the first part of the race, taking some chances, pushing hard, but limiting encounters with the icy ground. After a couple of laps, Curtis had moved up to fourth place, but still had a large gap to close, which he did, eventually catching the wheel of the 3rd place racer. In the last 500 meters of the course, Curtis marked his target. In the same location where Emma and her competitor had bobbled, Curtis made a move and attacked the 3rd place guy, getting around him before that tricky uphill horse shoe hill. Curtis knew that he needed to be ahead of this guy on the hill and he made that happen, and that sealed 3rd place for Curtis. Another great race.

At 11 AM the single speed dudes raced and that brought the biggest and loudest crowds so far. I am still trying to understand the whole single speed thing. I think next year i'll try it. It may stick, and it may not. What a gorgeous day though.... brilliant blue skies, frigid cold, loud boisterous crowds, and cross, cross, cross.

New Yorkers Ruth Sherman ( Corning Race Team) and Margaret Thompson (Hammer Nutrition) each earned bronze medals later in the day. New Englander Jonny Bold took the Championship jersey in the Men's 45-49 race.

Later in the evening we dined with the White family at a very cool place in town called McMenamins.

The schedule for day 5 allowed Connie and i to sleep late and have a nice leisurely breakfast at the hotel, and the rest of the morning was a good time for me to pack up the bikes. My race on Thurs was in such frigid weather that my bike was free of any real mud or grime and the pit bike was spotless. The bikes went into the box a whole lot easier this time and soon we were off to the afternoon races. Today (Saturday) was quite a bit warmer. The temps had climbed up to 40 degrees. The course was now getting greasy. No real mud as the ground was still frozen hard from the previous week's extreme low temps. We watched Danny Summerhill win the U23 mens race. In the Men's 35-34 race, Nathaniel Ward ( / Joes Garage) had a front row slot on the start line and took advantage of it by taking the hole shot. Nathaniel was in first place after the first few turns of the race. About midway, N Ward slid on the grozen grass and his right hand shifter snapped in half when it enccountered a pole. Tough luck for N Ward. New Englander Matt Kraus (Richard Sachs RGM Watches) had a great ride taking 9th place in a race of almost 150 racers.

Night time events: closed out of the World Premier of The Cyclocross Meeting, a film to be shown at the Tower theatre in downtown.... sold out! ... bummer. Dinner was take out from the Typhoon, a Thai resturant! So unlike me, but it was good.

Tomorrow, its Women and Men Elite.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 3 Bend, Oregon

Day 3 at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships dawned bright and sunny with morning temps again in the single digits. My race was at 1:00 PM which is a good start for me as i am not a morning person. This start time allowed me to sleep in and have a nice breakfast at the hotel. The plan was to get out to the course around ten, check out the bikes again, and witness one of the race starts. The race start in a 'cross race is critical. Folks that make it to the first turn have a decided advantage, as a cyclocross course will tend to stretch riders out and if you are way back in the bunch, its difficult to make up ground on the leaders. Tough, but not impossible. I once witnessed a last row guy in Providence R.I. race make it all the way to the podium. None the less, starts can make or break your race. Adam Myserson says that the sprint is at the front end of the race in 'cross, referring to the explosive sprint effort that takes place when the whistle blows to start the race. So i wanted to see a real race start so i could judge where a good line might be, or where a choke point might occur. After watching (and learning) from the Men's 30 - 39 age group race, i planned to line up on the right side of the starting grid and take a wide line in the approach to the first gentle left hand turn that went up a small icy hill and then took another left at the top. This pre-race reconnoiter paid off.

Another small detail related to quick starts is something that we practice at our training rides and that involves clipping into the pedals as soon as possible to be able to turn a huge gear to get up to max speed as soon as possible. In order to do that, clipping into the pedals is crucial to avoid lost pedal strokes looking for that spot to clip in. So just as the race is about to begin, my left cleat was completely clogged with ice and would not clip into the pedal at all. I quickly ducked into the Clif Bar tent area and got Rob Weubker and one of the pro mechanics to chop the ice out with a screw driver.... whew, another detail covered.

Now it was time to stage up.... The staging of riders was orderly and well controlled. Officials called up each and every racer by name. I was lined up in the fourth row, which is quite a change for me as the races i had been doing in the Northeast had fewer riders or points that i had accumulated allowed me a front row spot. I lined up way to the right as planned and waited for the whistle. It blew and we were off. My start was a good one, clipped in early, blew past some guys, went wide right as planned, avoided a small bottleneck, and went from 35th to maybe tenth. Yikes my heart rate was pegged. Guys were all over the course, weaving, crashing, crashing into the tape, crashing to the ground, crashing into me, it was cool. I settled into race pace and vowed to stay upright and not make mistakes. It paid off. I lost positions on some parts of the course but i was able to pull back guys in other parts of the course. I had a couple scary moments, one where i was suddenly sideways in the lane and then sideways in an opposing direction. That ticked off the guy behind me but, you know what? Go around me if you can. Another near crash involved a pass i made to get by a guy that caused me to approach this uphill shelf with a left turn at the top with way too much speed. I hit the lip of the shelf and the force knocked my left hand off the bars. I made the turn and kept it upright, but i was right on the edge.
I battled with four or five guys and we all traded positions often.

It was great racing. I ended strong and held off the one guy who had passed me at least three times earlier and i ended up 14th. Not bad. I was pleased. It was a great day of racing.

Paul Curley of Tauton Mass., a fellow Northeast guy, took the win in my race to add to his closet full of National Championship jerseys.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships

Day 1 and 2 on the way to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Chanmpionships were long days indeed. The trip actually started on Monday, when i stuffed two Redlines into a double bike box that i borrowed from my good buddy Tim Leonard. I spent 2 to 3 hours taking apart two bikes and fitting pieces into the box like a jigsaw puzzle before i was able to completely close the lid on the box. It was a tight fit. And i worried about how everything would fare under the hands of the Southwest baggage handlers.

Tuesday Connie and I headed to Albany airport, checked luggage, checked the bikes, and boarded flight 141 to Las Vegas. The connector in Las Vegas was late.... like what else is new, but no matter because that allowed us to have a long and delightful dinner with the White family, also enroute to Natz. Curtis and Emma were excited about the trip but were taking it all in like its just another race. The second leg of the air trip arrived, and we landed in Portland around 11:30 PM local time, 2:30 AM Albany time. We were pooped. We got a behemoth rental vehicle and crashed at a Marriot in Portland, finally settling in at around 12:30 AM local time.

Day2 started crisp, sunny and cold... like 6 degrees farenheit in Portland. The trip to Bend took us over the pass in the shadow of Mount Hood. What a sight.

Bend was a three hour trip from Portland.

We arrived about Noon, another check-in at another Marriott and then i went to work putting together two bikes. I was a bit stressed over the whole bike box trip, baggage handlers at various airports, and whether i packed up the bikes correctly. Low and behold, everything made it perfectly fine. The bikes went together nicely and i was off to the race venue and packet pick-up.

Bend, Oregon is a very cool town, an eclectic downtown area, lots of shops and restaurants, and lots of bikes on roofs. Packet check-in was orderly and rather quiet. I expected bigger crowds. Numbers on the left.

Off to the the race venue which was just across the river from the Old Mill area in Bend and within eye-sight of the check-in. I parked in one of the Event lots and unloaded the bikes to shake them out, make sure everything worked correctly, and maybe even ride the course. I ran into David Goodwin, antother 55+ guy from Northampton Cycling Club. We chatted and compared stories about the trip out. He had already done a couple of laps. After straightening the bars on the pit bike and adjusting the seat height a bit, i rode out onto the course. It was all taped and had maybe several dozen racers pre-riding. It was 90% snow and ice covered. There was a 6 inch wide icy rut as the 'preferred' line and about 3 - 4 inches of powdery snow covering the rest of the lanes. A small section of the course in the grass was free of any snow, but it was a very small stretch. There was a man-made stair case and the standard set of barriers, but other than that, little else to get you off the bike. There were a couple of small, short 'hills' that were very icy and could perhaps cause a dis-mount. I saw Paul Curley and Tom Stevens of Gear Works and also Utah Rob, who called out to me, but i was unable to connect up with Rob as he was heading one way and i the other.

I rode the pit bike first and i did two laps. I took it very easy, just trying to get aquainted with the course. I returned the pit bike and then rode the primary bike a bit to make sure that i had connected all the dots, and i had.... it was working quite nicely with no further adjustments. I was feeling a lot better now that the bikes were all in good working order. I was also liking the ice and snow. I am thinking (today) that the ice maybe a good surface for me, and perhaps it will even out the field a bit... i don't know... we'll see. Check in tomorrow. My race goes off at 1:00 PM.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bay State Cyclocross Race

Today was 'Sterling', Race # 11 of the New England Cyclocross Championship Series. The Bay State CX race in Sterling, Mass. Connie and i drove out the night before and made it to the race venue slightly behind schedule due to a whole number of small incidents that just added up to being a little late. I was feeling a bit crappy besides, stomache or nasuea type feelings, nothing to speak of (and i never mentioned it to anyone until now ) and i was trying to ignore it and chalk it up to race jitters. Anyhow, i pre-rode he course. It was pretty much identical to previous years. There was one new chicane section in the side of a small hill that had a quick succession of up down left right combos that was really cool. You could bomb thru them with speed, but the last left hand uphill was slightly tighter and steeper than the previous three turns so you had to be ready for that. I get a real kick out of how i tend to dissect all the CX courses i do. They are all different and all have their quirks or personality or in the case of the Bethlehem Cup... which has a serious atttitude.

So getting back to the Bay State. I had a fair start up the cinder running track. The wind was horrendous, and on the back side of the track, everyone was hunkering down in the drops and sliding in behind wheels. I took a chance and went around a couple guys and set up for the turn to head for the run-up. I didn't want to get hung up in any kind of congestion on that steep mucky hill. I made it up OK and settled into a mediocre first lap. I felt mediocre. I soon got into the race though as the course is interesting one, with the horse jump and all. Its a signature Tom Stevens course with flow. Its all about the flow and this course has it. The Redline was perfoming way better than i. I love that bike!

I was surprised that i was able to get by David Goodwin who has beaten me in all previous Verge races, so i am sitting in about 5th or 6th position which is pretty good. After about 3 laps, another serious foe, Gary Pressler is right on my wheel. Gary also has kicked my butt pretty soundly this year. Well, Gary sucked my wheel for 3 laps! He rode a smart race. He used me to break the wind. I made the mistake of riding into the wind on the right side of the running track, right where the head wind (coming form the right) was the worse. The next lap, i smartened up and rode way to the left up against the tape to provide less shelter for Gary. Didn't work. I kept pushing hard though because i was really worried about Goodwin catching me. So on the last lap, just as i expected, Gary came around me about 150 meters and one left hand turn from the finish. I had my chain on the big ring and was pushing a big gear so i could be ready for a sprint. And sprint we did. I buried it with all i had and Gary conceded. I was feeling good about that finish! Afterwards Gary and i talked at length about how the race unfolded. I told him that i pretty much expected his attack. Even if i lost that sprint, i would have felt just as good about our race that day. It was fun. Gary is a great competitor as is the whole 55+ crew. A great day.