The Day (After) SRAM Failed Me

*UPDATE: SRAM has been reached, solution achieved. The rep in question is paying for the replacement part out of his own pocket, I don’t feel he should do this, but thanks.  This was precipitated by Kyle Robinson, owner of Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny, IA.  Kyle, seeing this rant, and being a concerned bike person and all around good human, made some contacts and straightened it all out.  Thank you, Kyle, for taking care of this situation for me.  Next chapter of Project Pink will be “A Day At The Doctor” aka a trip to Kyle’s for crank install, as said SRAM rep would like the shop to handle the replacement.  Fair enough. I still love ya SRAM.

Those of you who took the time to read about my little gravel travel on Pink last week will probably remember the part where my SRAM Rival 1 crank arm pedal threads gave out after a whopping 35 miles of use.  Here’s the continuation of that story…

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35 Miles of use. SRAM says “NOPE” to replacing. VERY COOL.

It took me a while to get the pedal out of the crank arm, I was dumbfounded by the whole issue when this is what I found after the extraction.  The pedals were installed correctly, the bike had only been ridden around downtown twice before taking it out on the gravel, and everything seemed fine.  I have never in my life seen a pedal/crank arm fail in such a way.  When I was riding I thought it was my pedal, as it’s a pretty old set of Crank Brothers Mallets that I keep around the shop for test rides and they have seen some fairly serious miles in their time.  Pedal failure wasn’t out of the picture, but the pedal is perfectly fine, no issues whatsoever.

I took the cranks to my LBS for them to make a call to SRAM.  I felt like a fucking dick for taking something in I purchased from a private seller on the internet, but the guys are super cool and understand that I’m a little special at times.  All Good.  The SRAM rep came by and took a look, said they will not replace it.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  Your product failed under normal use, left me stranded, caused other people inconvenience, and is keeping me from riding this newly assembled bike, and NOPE.  I ride SRAM on all of my bikes. I have been loyal to them for many years, and this one incident is making me rethink that loyalty.  I’m pissed. I’m insulted. I’m out a crankset.

Until SRAM goes back on this decision and replaces the faulty part, FUCK SRAM. 

Stay cool!

Sam

CNB

A Colossal Ride

It’s been a pretty rough year for cycling here at CNB.  Injuries, mechanicals, work, family stuff, more injuries, blogging, extreme heat, and other assorted crap have gotten in the way of enjoying the normal amount of time that would normally spent in the saddle.  I’ve lost a bunch of weight and started making much healthier choices, but The Fitness Train hasn’t pulled into the terminal yet.  Now that it’s practically the end of summer (aka cross is coming), it’s time to get that Pain Pass punched.   This week I am doing an assessment of where I am at and where I’m headed, making a plan for this fall/winter, and putting together a rough training program to follow for next spring’s cycling.

By “Doing An Assessment,” I mean riding bikes.  Project Pink is down for the count as Rassy’s figures out what SRAM is going to do about my faulty crank arm, so it’s time to bust out the road bike for some base miles.  Yeah, base miles are starting in August this year.  Wow.  So far this week I have assessed that I am in no shape or form to toe the line at DAMN or Gravel Worlds (although I still plan on trying to make it down to Lincoln for the hanging out), and that it’s going to be a rough road to Spotted Horse, which is also a bunch of rough roads.  I may do some SS cross this fall, I haven’t raced in a few years and I think it’s time to add some CX back into the mix.  I may even look at doing some road events (not crits) for some fun.  I mean, I just wanna have some fun. I want to make use of this weight loss. I want to have fun on the bike again, something that has been elusive through my health problems and fitness issues.  I know many of you reading can relate to this in your own way.  I would really like to hear from you all.

IMG_6754Anyway, this is the bike I’m riding while waiting for Pink to come back to life, a stripped down version of my “road packing” rig (because everything is “________ packing” these days).  2015 Salsa Ti Colossal, Nextie carbon wheels with my favorite White Industries/Son28 hub combo (built by Ed at Beaverdale Bikes, who builds all of my wheels and should build all of yours), Panaracer “Gravel King” 28’s, SRAM Red Etap, Thomson Stem/Seatpost, Selle Anatomica saddle.  The bike was built by up by Matt at Rasmussen Bike Shop in West Des Moines, IA. Matt is my go-to for the tough/frustrating stuff that I can’t do, and the pricey stuff that I shouldn’t be allowed to install/work on to begin with.  Thanks to Matt and Ed, I have a few pretty nice rides.  Thanks, guys.

Anyway, I need to go ride that fine uh….ride.  Have a great rest of the week, and keep that rubber side down!

Sam

CNB

Eat Em & Smile – Pink’s First Gravel

Pink FINALLY got to see some gravel travel.  I was not feeling super great, but it was 78 out and a mild W/SW wind, perfect conditions for doing the Booneville route up to Adel, then back into town for a beer at 515 Brewing.  The ride started out at a nice easy pace, this was just to be a fun spin on familiar gravel to test out the whole 650b/1×11 setup.  The fit was the first thing to make itself known, the levers need to be raised a bit more, and that longer stem with a little rise would be helpful.  I definitely found myself riding on the hoods more than usual, I’m a “corner curve” kind of person.  I also noticed that I did not have the bars centered. WTF.  The Rival 1 drivetrain was dialed in nicely, shifting was crisp and immediate. It was going to be interesting seeing how climbing went with a high end of 42×36, especially on Old Portland Road.

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It was a beautiful day for this Twin Six Standard Rando. 

The WTB Byway ‘Road Plus’ tires on these ENVE rims are gold.  Maybe platinum.  I had a hell of a time getting the tires to seat properly (due to my shitty taping job), but now that they are there, hell yes.  I was running around 45 psi and could have dropped them down to 38-40 for a little more squish, but they handled the intermittent loose/fresh rock spots with ease. The small climbs at the beginning of the route were no problem, but as I went on to a few of the steeper grades I found that the wheels still spun up the hill with ease, but I was already getting down to the 36 cog and was only 13-14 miles in.  “This could turn into a slogger” I spoke quietly through dusty breaths.

It’s dry out there, and I hit some truck traffic that was kicking up giant clouds of dust.  The mild winds were not helping matters, I would have traded a little extra effort on the flats for a good dust-clearing cross wind.  It may be time to start restraining the beard and using a dust filter until conditions get a little less brittle.

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“Awe yeah, she’s beautiful alright…nothing like her in the whole world” – David Lee Roth, Yankee Rose

So I was trucking along, thinking about hitting the B-road coming up and noticed my right foot was getting some odd feedback from the pedal.  At mile 16.5 I stopped to assess the situation.  I was wearing newish shoes, the cleat could need tightening. Nope. The crank arm could have worked loose. Nope. Everything I checked was copacetic, so onward and upward towards some fun hills.  There was that weird, off balance feeling again.  This time when I stopped I found that the pedal seemed to be loose, but not in a way that it was unthreading from the crank arm, but it was just flopping there.  There was about a half inch of lateral play.  NOT GOOD. I made some calls and found a sag, then limped ole Pink into the Booneville Tap to wait for a lift.

IMG_6745After a few drinks and an order of fries, my lift arrived and I was off to my home shop to see what the hell happened.  It took a while to get the pedal out, and when I did it was a mess.  The threads in the crank arm were all but gone, left behind was a pile of dust and metal shavings.  It looks like they didn’t get the threaded insert in there during manufacturing (Thanks, Peter, for pointing that out), but the pedal installed fine.  It’s going to the shop for a warranty call, and hopefully SRAM will replace this bad boy quickly.  I need to get Pink back out on the road!

 

Sam

 

CNB

TrackPacking: Next Level “Fun”

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Bikepacking Rig

Ok, we have all heard of Bikepacking by now (it’s the “buzz” outdoor activity right now), and for the tens of you whom read this here “bike blog,” you are probably familiar with the term “Dirtbagging.” These are offshoots of normal rack-and-pannier bike touring (or backpacking if you’re into walking places), and generally involve packing all of your stuff into frame bags and other rackless packs, then hitting the dusty trail to camp out in the woods or some other remote area. Sounds like a whole lotta fun for everyone, right?  Yeah, almost TOO much fun.

Enter the newest bad idea: Trackpacking.  

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Trackpacking Rig

Trackpacking is closely related to Backpacking, more so than Bikepacking, in that you actually put all of your stuff on your back.  All you need is a track bike, or some other such fixed gear bike (no brakes! Trackpacking requires no brakes, them’s the rules), your camping gear, and a messenger bag or back pack.  You can get some pretty severe “messenger back packs” these days, so you almost wouldn’t need to leave anything behind. It’s that simple. Load up your messenger-type bag, hop on your fixie, and head somewhere to camp. This is really ideally suited for Sub-24 hour trips, unless you are particularly fond of long distance, multiple day fixie travel.  I used to be in that realm, but gears kind of soiled my chamois for said torture travel.

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Dirtbagging Rig

Pointless Back Story: I was pondering the entertainment value of the known realms of bike touring/camping, and what could be the next step for camping-kind.  The brainstorm took into consideration equipment on hand, I don’t need to buy any more “packing” gear in this lifetime, how much I love having fun by not having fun at all, and routes/roads to travel here in central Iowa.  I also wanted to use a bike that I had on hand, pretty easily achievable goal, but I wanted to use something that wasn’t common or run-of-the-mill, perhaps a little played out, even.  Enter the Track Bike.

I’ve done one Track bike tour (track bike, messenger bag, 90 miles) years ago, it did not end well as the weather took a sharp nose dive and I was not prepared for the adverse conditions.  I had a new leg tattoo, rain and road grit splashed up into it for a couple hours.  It got infected and I had a fever for a few days.  Yeah, that sucked. I should probably do that again.

So, that is the plan.  I’m putting together a route for a camping trip that involves some fairly level terrain (first three days of Ragbrai come to mind), and I’m getting out there to bust some knees and party on, Garth.

Sam

CNB

 

 

Project Pink Jr: Candy Cup

Lately I’ve been trying to recover from being off the bike for about 7 weeks, there was a failed attempt at Fatbike Dirt Bagging last week, and then a trip out of town, then I return to a bunch of work things that have been piling up, so I decided to make the best of what time I have to ride.  I’ve spent my week getting re-aquainted with fixed gear bicycle riding.  It’s a great workout, no coasting = always pedaling.

The last three days have been a blast running errands (about 50 miles worth) on one of my favorite fun bikes, Candy Cup aka Project Pink Jr. Why the name “Candy Cup,” you ask?  I have no fucking clue, I was drunk one day and called her Candy Cup and *POOF* there it is.  It’s the same day I tried changing Bathory’s name to Cat Vegas, if I remember correctly, and thankfully that didn’t end up sticking.  Whiskey is a powerful drug.

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Candy in all its glory

Candy is a Leader Cure that I picked up in Chicago a few years ago when I had friends living there that we visited often enough to keep a bike at their place.  It was a great convenience, being able to travel without bikes on top of the car, or once I flew in from SFO and was able to get right on the bike and go.  Super convenient.  After Candy ended back in Des Moines, I found that the short riser bars and stock saddle needed some changing, and I had a set of pink Duro tires laying around the shop, so those went on. The stock crankset suffered what is a usual fate for my goddamn fixies, the left crank arm ended up being damaged and needed replaced.  I found this sick Sugino Messenger in pink and couldn’t really pass on the deal.  I’m finally comfortable enough to ditch the front brake, and I think the bars are going to get some pink tape when that happens.

It’s a great little whip for around town riding, and I’ll be taking it out on the road for a little thing I’m going to call “TrackPacking,” which you can read about in a future post. It’s probably exactly what you envision it is: another bad idea. Anyhoo, I need to go out and enjoy this sub-melting point weather and ride some more.

Sam

CNB

A Few Of My Faves

CNB Bike Related Favorites Listing:

  1. Sarah Cooper – “Coop” is a local central Iowa endurance cycling beast. She has been on the “podium” of many of the midwest’s nastiest endurance races, and last year she flat out won Race Across The West, which qualified her for even more punishment in this year’s RAAM.  She won the Women’s Solo category in RAAM last month riding 3,070.28 miles in 11 days, 18 hours and 56 minutes, which also put her in 10th overall among these elite racers.  I will hopefully get to talk with her about her experience sometime soon and transcribe that here. Click on her name up there and read about it all from her own words.  Also, she put on a little thing called the Spotted Horse Ultra, a punishing 150 or 200 mile gravel race in central Iowa. (Sarah if you are reading this, I’m sorry I missed the party, work got a little crazy.)
  2. RidingGravel.com – It’s got the goods, and they know their stuff. Click the link and learn a few things.
  3. BikePacking.com – Have you ever had a question about Bikepacking (DirtBagging)? These folks probably have the answer. A wealth of knowledge for all you who like your touring dirty, or all of those who aspire, it’s worth a click.
  4. Compass Snoqualmie Pass Tires – These 700cx44mm tan-wall beauties are the big sibling in the “pass” line. Mine are in the ulra supple “extra light casing” model, and ride so nice I’d like to put these on pretty much any of my bikes that would fit them. Highly recommended.
  5. J-Paks GravelPak – It’s the “Baby Bear’s Porridge” of seat packs.  This Pak is the ultimate seat pack for long day rides, packing wet weather gear on your commuter, or keeping your “ride kit*” handy in an easily transferrable package. This thing has lived on many of my bikes over the last 10 months.
  6. Pink (the color) – I’m way into pink right now. There’s Project Pink, and it was reaaaaaally difficult to avoid trying to put pink ano everything on this beauty. If you have pink ano parts for sale, let me know. I’m starting to horde them for a rebuild of one of my current bikes.
  7. TAN WALLS TIL SNOW FALLS – That’s my new mantra.  The Compass line of tires has nothing but tan wall goodness, and the WTB Byway set waiting to go on Pink are a lovely tan wall. Maxxis, Panaracer, and many more can provide you with those lovely walls of tan. Tan is the new Black.
  8. Speed Metal Cycling Podcast – This is the only way I like to experience the thrills and chills of professional road racing, through the hilarious insight of Dan Skullcrusher, Klaus, Natalia, and Mike.  It’s amazing how a few huge doping scandals soiled this sport for me for life.  I remember getting the Tour De France special editions of the bike magazines when I was a kid, seeing these heroic young (and some old) men just destroy themselves in the name of winning “just a bike race.” Decades later we all find out they were also destroying themselves with performance enhancing drugs.  It’s a shame that road racing was just a sham the whole time. I’m totally in to not watching the Tour, but listening to these lovely creatures discuss the tour is awe inspiring. They also have a Name That Colombian page that coaches you on how to properly pronounce the names of Colombian racers. Very helpful.
  9. Dirt Bagging > Bike Packing – Tomato/Potato situation.
  10. Trans Iowa 14 – NO, this hasn’t been announced, and I half expect that TIV13 may have been the last year, but I’m sure GT will be reading this and I want him to know at least ONE person is thinking about what to do with his fall/spring “free time.”

Sam

CNB

*tools, tubes, air, rain gear, lock, burrito, whatever you take with you on the reg.

WTB Byway: First Impression By Way Of A Long Ass Story

One of the catalysts to starting the new Project Pink build was a conversation about bike stuff with Riding Gravel partner and Trans Iowa mastermind Guitar Ted.  As we rode down the rocky roads of the Gent’s Race, he filled me in on WTB’s “Road Plus” movement (650b rims, 47mm Tires which are supposed to be “better” than running regular skinnies), and his test of their Horizon tire. We also chatted about their upcoming yet-to-be-officially announced more-gravel-friendly tire, which is now known as the Byway, and how it was superior in stability or something on gravel (you can read GT’s words on the Byway HERE) Then he looks over and says “But you don’t have a 650b bike, do you?”  I swear he flashed an evil grin as he spat those challenging words my dusty direction. Dammit. Accepted.

A few weeks passed, and Trans Iowa 13 happened.  WTB was kind enough to be a sponsor again this year, and they sent over tires for everyone who finished.  It was a really bad year for finishing, but a good year for building an entire new bike around a new-to-me wheel size, and I was offered up a set of Byways of my own. Thank you, GT, you are the best (If you know him, you know this already. If you have done TI, you may have a slightly different opinion of him. He’s also one of the best at punishing bike courses).

So I secured a frame for the project, and it happened to be the same frame that GT was running his 650b’s on, the Twin Six Standard Rando.  I’m definitely stoked on doing my own test on the same bike that he did his testing on.  I bargain basement shopped for the parts I didn’t have around, and started a wheel build order with my favorite local builder, Ed at Beaverdale Bikes.  He was also a catalyst for Project Pink, as he had procured some very special 650b rims last year, and it took about two seconds to decide on using those.  More on the wheel build later…

“You have a package on the way to you” sprung up on my phone screen.  The tires were on the way! There were the last piece of the pink puzzle, other than waiting on the wheels to be finished.  They arrived. I was so goddamn stoked. I’ve been on a tire search after my favorites, the Clement MSO 40’s, had finally showed me they just weren’t up to the task of hauling my oversized ass around the countryside.  New Tire Day is a thing of celebration around the CNB HQ.

My First Impression: The Byway tires fit neatly in the box in which they were shipped. Upon opening said box, I saw the gorgeous tan walls (TAN WALLS TIL SNOW FALLS), along with the smooth center that graduates to file-tread, then some outer blocks for stability when hitting the sandy corners out there. I decided to leave them in the box on my bench. I mean, I don’t have wheels to mount them on so why get them out yet?

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YES, that is my actual first impression. It’s literal. It’s concise. If you made it through the entire story of how they came to me, thank you.  If you didn’t, how did you end up just reading this paragraph?  My plans are to set these up tubeless on the new wheels, which will be my first tubeless setup on an “Adventure Bike.” I’ve been running tubeless on my single speed 29ers and my fat bikes (FATBIKE!) for a while now, and it’s been great, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Byway stands up.  I’m just really pumped to get this bike all built up and rolling. I am thinking of all the times I rode long road rides on my..uh..road bike…and how many gravel sidetracks I didn’t get to take because of my puny 28mm tires.  NO MORE! I truly hope that the Byway will bridge the gap between the dirt/pavement realm for me, giving a good fast paved roll and the ability to go off-route and tear shit up on the gravel.

Sam

CNB