Wednesday, March 20, 2013

winter's over, spring is here

Well here goes, another quarterly update.. or so it seems. We left off last fall, about mid cross season, which ended off fairly successfully, well much more than the previous year! Some good riding in December was nice to hold over some fitness into Christmas, when the cool weather started to set in. A bit of snow on the ground even got me out on the skiis! Unfortunately some untimely storms and bitter cold weather, put a halt to the Winter Bike League for a few weeks.
I received an invite to the Women's Development winter camp in SC, of course as mechanic. So I put some time on the trainer in January early Feb to get some riding in, before getting back out on the road for some WBL rides. SC was great, some good weather, and a couple of epic days in the hills.
Once I got back for SC, the weather was turning towards the positive, and the WBL rides carried on, with mileage racking up, a couple of warm days even got me out on the Madone once, which was sweet. But, on this, the first day of spring, winter's back. A typical maritime spring storm went through. Wet heavy snow, some drizzle to follow, and even some afternoon sun to stat the melt-off. Here's hoping for more on the positive side over the next couple of weeks.
I am off to Belgium for the month of April, this time with the U23 and Junior men, National Team projects, this will be a dream trip, that I am really looking forward to! I'll hope to have good time to keep up to date. at the very least, a condensed version, in a few months...

Friday, November 2, 2012

stevens prestige

I thought, since on a new ride this season, I may as well post up some details. I've had a few different cross bikes over the years, all good, and all with slight differences. Last years Ridley was a great bike, but I'm banking on this years to be better.
This season I decided to stay with an alloy frame, although carbon is great for cross, light, stiff and responsive, a top quality alloy frame is not far off the mark, and at least half the price.

 The Stevens Prestige sits right there. Certainly a lighter than the Ridley Crossbow, it is not much heavier than many carbon frames out there. I'm running the same build that I have been for the past four seasons, Sram Force, solid, reliable.
A DuraAce 7800 crankset has been on every cross frame I've used in that same time frame. Bars, stem, seatpost has also changed this season, BBB Cycling Components for that stuff, along with all the other little small parts.
 A couple of years ago I switched over to Kore brakes from TRP "frogleg" style. the use of a modern pad holder is a lot nicer, and easier to adjust. Standard road pads make for easy swap out for alloy and carbon specific pads.
I am still debating on switching over to a mini-V style this season. Kelly loves hers, and on a couple of test rides on her bike they do feel really good, so we'll see where that ends up.
All of the cables are fully sealed, Nokon links with Jagwire inner sleeves and cables. They are holding up really well so far, as had just about every sealed system I've used. The exception being GORE, I've never been too impressed after having a set in less than a month of cross use get destroyed. The internal routing for the shift cables is and nice clean too.
Cables exit the down tube and run external to derailleurs from there.
A new set of wheels are in this year, 38mm Carbon hoops, I laced up to Sokin hubs. I'm calling the wheels prototypes, so far the build is holding up beautifully (1 month racing, no truing) which means, a good chance we'll import some more to build for next season.
Challenge Tires have been a staple in the lineup for a few years, quality/consistency has gotten better.They give a nice soft ride, and lots of grip. The Griffo has been my favorite for some time now, while the Fango is good for damp/tacky conditions. I haven't used the Limus yet, but do have a pair, for the really nasty stuff.
The bike rides really well, handles quick, fast pickup, nice and stiff where it needs to be. I don't feel much rear end flex under power, but it still rides a bit smoother than the Ridley did. I could still use a slightly shorter head tube (its extended up compared to Stevens Carbon models for some reason).

I also swapped out the stock fork with my Easton EC90x, this also raised the front end about 5mm, but I think the saved weight (250g) is worth the ~quarter to half degree in head angle slack.
So far I am really happy with the bike, and am looking forward to the second half of the season. After four weeks of racing, in just about every condition, I'm sure that November will pack it fair share of wild conditions!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

october recap

missing out on the usual fall weekly updates, so here goes the monthly update quick version... Cross season finally got underway earlier this month, 2012 marked the latest start to the cross season I'd had in a while, if not ever..
Unofficially kicked it off with a grueling mountain bike marathon, at the Elgin 80, a far cry from a cross race I know, but a day of offroading can't hurt... or can it? 85km of 29'er riding, the first half was great, second half notsomuch. Rough riding, wet, and a longtime lack of mtb'ing did me in nicely!
A quick trip back home before returning to Moncton for the official kick off to the Maritime 'cross season took place the second week of October. Saturday evening the race was held in Dieppe, just before sunset. A nice cool evening (~4deg) and windy, on a really nice fast grassy park course around the velodrome. Nicely got with the lead group, before dangling off to eventually finish 6th. A good result, with some really fast guys up front. Sunday didn't go so well, a few degrees warmer, but with rain in the early morning, meant a wet, and rough, more mountainbikey course. An excellent start was scuttled about 200m in after overshooting the first corner. I held my spot in the top 5, until getting held up in the technical singeltrack on the second lap, crashed on the third lap, and would eventually come in to finish an ok 8th. Not thrilled, but its early, and wasn't my course.
The following weekend Neil and I packed it up and headed to Maine, for the Downeast Cyclcross weekend in New Gloucester. We stayed in Freeport, did some shopping, discovered that Subway in the US is way better than home, and had a great weekend. The racing was a bit of a different story. The rain started about 5pmish Friday evening, and through the night. The course turned into a mudfest by Sat am, and was very humid and foggy. Temps around 12-14 were quite nice though. A midpack start didn't help me, as I was quickly near the back and chasing. I would slowly claw my way up to midfield in very tough conditions, but leaders were already riding away. Sunday would seem better, the sun was out, temps up a degree or two, course packed down and was a drier, with some nice modifications. I felt much better, but started back row. so from the gun, nowhere to go but up. I would continue to pass people all the way through to the last lap, but result would be the same as Saturday's 18th. Not happy with result, but happier with racing, feeling better is a good sign.
The return home prompted me to do some work on bike, hitting up some parks, and get some skill work done.
We would return to NB for another weekend, to finish off October. This time to the Saint John area, Darling's Island. Based on attendance, I wanted to pull in a podium, it was realistic, and would confirm that my season is going in the right direction. A great start almost turned disastrous, with a near endo after hitting a compression hole at high speed. I recovered to take the holeshot into the first technical section, and would lead out the first lap. Four of us were away on the first two laps, although we'd spit in to pairs by mid lap 2. Gaps were still 5-8 seconds, I was able to distance 4th, and stay solo and increase my third position over fourth. I was still 10-15 behind the lead two. Mid race I noticed Brian was behind me (flat tire), meaning I was now in Second. Neil was alone in the lead, and our gap solidly remained at around 10-12 for the entire second half. I wasn't quite able to muster up an attach to bridge, but Brian was gaining from behind. By the end I held him off to hold second (another lap and he'd've likely caught me). Neil rode a good win. Really happy with second, maybe should have caught up to the lead? but with a few weeks to go until nationals, it was confidence boosting weekend.
November will be interesting, lots of racing in Halifax to come, and Nationals will be in there too.
Right now a fall storm is rolling around us, with remnants of a hurricane inland heading towards Ontario, it should be a rainy week here. Its already drizzly and windy, so we'll see how it shakes out. I may have to hit the rollers.....