Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fingers: 10. Chainrings: 0.

Having just watched A Sunday In Hell at Morning Glory Coffeehouse, and being a little bored, I decided now was as good a time as any to start converting the Portland from a tripe to a compact double. I've been collecting parts since late last year, and at this point I have almost everything I need.

I decided to start with the biggest piece - the crankset. I was determined not to let any chainrings get the best of me this time out. I put the bike up on the stand and got started. Just like when I switched cranksets on the Bianchi (the stock FSA Gossamer from that bike would be replacing the 105 triple on the Portland), I had Crank Brothers Eggbeater SLs installed.

The one annoying thing about the SLs is that they don't have a wrench face on them, so you're forced to use an allen key to remove them, putting your hand on the inside of the pedal and in direct view of your carnivorous crankset. I wasn't about to rip up any of my fingers tonight, but I had already removed the chain from the bike and there still wasn't a really easy way to get decent leverage on the crankset.

Enter the rubber mallet. I set my Pedro's 8mm Allen Key Pedal Remover into the drive-side crank arm and gave it a decent whack with the mallet. One more time and the pedal loosened. No harm done to the bike, the pedal, or me. All I had to do was repeat the process for the other side and I was out of the woods. I was pretty happy. And relieved.

Now the Gossamer is installed on the Portland and the 105 triple is in a box in the garage. Next up: front and rear derailleurs (again, stock parts from the Bianchi that have since been replaced will allow for the conversion) and new cabling and housing. I've never messed with cabling at all, so that should be interesting. I hope this next phase isn't something that I start and have to let Pro Bikes finish.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross was this afternoon on the slag heaps in (slightly outside of?) Frick. Heather came along to cheer for me, which was awfully nice of her, especially considering the great trek from the parking lot next to the Irish Center up to the slag heaps. She was the only spectator with a cowbell, and most of the racers had no idea why she kept ringing it.

Tough course. It was about a mile, with a fair amount of loose gravel, two nasty mud bogs, one set of triple barriers, and a really steep run-up. After the second (and easily more punishing) of the bogs, there was this little hill. I think I might have made it up the hill while still on my bike for the first lap. Maybe the second. After that, I got off and slowly trudged up that crappy little hill, too spent to pedal.

The race was an hour long, and the idea was to finish as many laps as possible within that time. I managed eight, which was more than I thought I'd have been able to do. There was one guy who got eleven, four others with ten, not sure of how many with nine and then eight.

Either way, highlights for me were:

  • Not wrecking
  • Not falling off of the edge of the slag heap in multiple and various places
  • Grabbing the mud money from whoever it was from Iron City Bikes who was offering it to whoever was willing to grab it. After the race, I dug it out of my back pocket and realized that it was only $1, but hey, a dollar's a dollar, and no one else seemed to want it. I am not a proud person.
  • Gorgeous weather. They had been calling for rain today, but that didn't even come close to happening. The sun was shining all day long.
  • Losing my bike computer. It popped off somewhere. I tried keeping an eye out for it after I noticed it had gone missing, but no luck. It's gone and now. Bummer. At least I have a dollar to put toward the cost of the new one.

This was only my second cyclocross race, and I think it was probably more physically draining than the Murrysville 'cross race, although I think that may have only been 45 minutes long. I wasn't crazy about all of the loose gravel, especially after wiping out thanks to some cinders a few weeks ago, but as mentioned earlier, I was able to avoid wrecking, even if it meant a certain measure of caution when approaching some sections.

So much mud.

Friday, March 12, 2010

First wreck of the New Year!

I decided to go for a slightly longer ride at lunch yesterday, since I'd worked the previous night until 10:00, and had to be up and ready to go by 6:30. I figured all that extra time was worth a few extra miles. Plus, it was 65° and sunny. This would be the first day of 2010 for shorts and a short-sleeve jersey!

I'd have been better off sticking with my short loops. Or maybe doing this loop in reverse. But of course, I did neither of those things. I was close to halfway through the loop, right in the middle of Oakland. I turned from Bouquet to Jonclaire, and then onto Yarrow, gingerly making my way through all of the potholes that have crept up over the course of the last month. The second half of Yarrow is a pretty steep downhill, but my own speed was kept in check by the car in front of me slowly inching down the hill. In retrospect, this was a very good thing.

After the car was out of the way, I started going down the hill. Got myself all positioned for the sharp right onto Boundary at the bottom of the hill. Didn't even really consider the road beneath me. Especially didn't notice the cinders. Ooops. I started to lean to the right and everything slid out to the left. I went down pretty hard, landing on my right hip, forearm/elbow, and shoulder.

I picked myself and the bike up off the ground and took a look to see how we were doing. The bike looked okay. I didn't see any holes in my shorts, although I knew I'd at least get a nice big bruise out of the impact. The elbow was pretty scraped up, but it wasn't pouring blood or anything. I was still about eight miles from home, so I got back on the bike, tested it out, and decided that it felt solid.

Continued on. Made my way down the Panther Hollow trail, and that's when I could feel my shoulder starting to burn a little bit. When I got to the jail trail parking lot, I took a closer look and saw some small holes in my jersey, and after unzipping, some more scrapes.

I made it the rest of the way home without incident. When I took off my jersey, cinders fell out from it. I looked at it a little more closely and noticed some holes in the side, too. Apparently my entire right side made contact with the ground in one way or another.

I got in the shower, fully aware that I was going to have to do a good job scrubbing the road burn on my elbow, as well as my shoulder. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I was able to get everything all clean, with no obvious signs of remaining debris.

Once I was all dried off, I cleaned the elbow out some more with peroxide and then wrapped it up in gauze. Today it's looking pretty good. Mostly dried out and not weepy at all.

It was warm enough today that I was able to just wear a t-shirt, so I didn't have to worry about keeping it covered to avoid getting blood all over a long-sleeve shirt. I'll probably cover it tonight just so there's no risk of it opening up and ruining our sheets.

The good? Well, I still finished the 18.25 mile loop in 1:02. The bike seems to be mostly fine. I washed it today and didn't see any chipped paint anywhere. Which is really surprising, actually. The tops of the shifters are a little dinged up, but that might be it as far as cosmetics.

When I cleaned the chain, put it back on, and re-oiled it, I noticed the rear derailleur making some clicky noises as I was going through the gears; not sure what's going on there. I didn't see any scratches on the derailleur when I cleaned it, but maybe the hanger got bent or something. I'd been wanting to take it over to Pro Bikes anyway for new cables and a general tune-up, so I dropped it off this evening after work and added that to the list of things I asked them to check.

Other positives:

  • I was the only person involved. I'm hoping that counts for something. If there's some quota of wrecks that I'm supposed to have, I really hope that I'm knocking them all out now, and by myself. I didn't lose consciousness or have to go to the hospital.
  • Not including various spills and scrapes on the MTB, this is my first road accident since The Great Concussion of '08. I'm glad I was able to pick myself up and get home without any trouble.