Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Putting mechanic skills to the test!

This past week I've been putting my claimed skills as a mechanic to the test. Two of my friends (and teammates, oh and also both TN State TT champions) were going to be riding new TT bikes this year, and they both needed to get them set up! So I got my (short) ride in Saturday morning and started an all day (and night... and two more days) bike work binge.

Matt showed up with his new ride, a Fuji Norcom Straight. The last Fuji I really looked at in person was the D6, which never really impressed me. The Norcom on the other hand looks like a nicely thought out whip. The only two things that struck me as suspect are the stem and the brakes. The complaint I have with the stem is that it's pretty proprietary... very, very few non-oval 760 stem's will work with it (Andy Coggan seemed to have found an older Thomson stem that worked with his, so other's must exist, but sourcing one may be difficult to say the least.) and while Oval offers 80° to 130° options (by 10° increments) you only get +/- 8° rise, It's not necessarily a deal breaker, but personally I like to be able to use whatever stem I want. (One of my complaints with my own Ventus bars) It also makes fitting the thing interesting, as I doubt many of us have multiple length 760's just sitting around. The other issue is with the TTV TRP aero brakes, specifically the rear one. Personally, I don't hate the direct mount brakes... or at least, I don't hate them any more than I hate most aero brakes (something like the excellent Tririg Omega excluded of course) however, the rear brake cable exit routing is a total bone headed design. Why have the cable exit RIGHT INTO the crank. Here's what I found as a way around the near impossible (if you do it the intended way) to avoid cable to chainring rub.

There are really two (acceptable... at least that I've seen) solutions to the problem. The first is to route the exiting cable back up (away from the second entry hole) at which point you will have a dangling cable but it should be out of the way. The other solution is to use a zip tie to hold it flush against the caliper arm. This is a little "ghetto" but will certainly keep it in place.

We replaced the stock Oval bar (an ugly round base bar) with a sleek Profile Design Ozero, got him on it and started getting a solid look at his bike fit.

looking pro, although the Scott/Fuji combo doesn't work ;)

I think it turned out pretty well. Of course, looming in the background even as we finished setting up Matt's Fuji was Jimmy's box of parts and Speed Concept frame. Don't think I'm going to sugar coat this for you... I dread the original Speed Concepts rear brake setup. It nearly drove me insane getting it right on my own 1st Gen SC, and I wasn't sure I could emotionally handle going through that again! Nonetheless, I signed up for the job, and so I would not be deterred.

Let me clarify, as people seem to think just because I bemoan the SC's rear brake that I don't think it works effectively. That's incorrect... I actually think the SC's rear brake stops pretty well for a bb mounted center pull, when it's set up correctly. That is the issue I have with it. It is simply not a bike that was designed with your average weekend racer in mind, despite that being it's target. I'm fine with having the absolute top end bikes (like the 9 series in this case) being straight from the pro's team bus... you should be able to buy it if you want... but make the "average buyer" bike (the 7 series, as it was most likely the one priced for most recreational triathletes/tt'ers in mind) a little more user friendly when a skilled mechanic isn't going to be at beckon 24/7. That's why the majority of 7 series SC's I see stop very well on the front and barely stop the wheel from free spinning on the back.
/ Rant

And so it begins.

Anyways, it takes a little cussing and a more than a little bit of time, but I got through the setup in about half the time it took to do my own 7 series (although trying to route Nokon liner through the frame ate up most of that extra time) and, after a slight mishap with a derailleur hanger bolt and clipping the chain too short, (woops, I admit I forgot all about the bike having a long cage derailleur on it) it was time for some finishing touches.

Finally, all together and ready to race!

Custom cut aerobar cushions. Is that service or what?

Then we got Jimmy actually on the bike and started moving him around. I'm still a neophyte (at best) when it comes to fitting, but I think we got him set up pretty smooth. Much better than his position on borrowed bikes (Did I mention he won the State TT in a horrible position... he's going to be fast as F* soon.)

And now... I need to finish working on my own bike to be ready for this weekends Taco Mama TT in Alabama. It's 20 miles and my first race this year, so I'm hoping it will go smoothly. It'll also be the first race I do on my own SC. I've still got to get the pads dialed in on mine sometime before Saturday! Also, unlike Jimmy and Matt, I don't put out a billion watts, so I have to be just a little bit more slippery in the wind to make up the difference.

When nobody makes them as narrow as you want... break out the dremel. 

Sponsor dat fork!


Thanks so much for checking out the blog this week! I had a lot of fun making it!
Next week, a race report!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thank you

Thank you all, marriage success!

Just hitched!

It has been an amazing last couple of days. I can say with certainty this was the best decision I've ever made. (And I've bought a lot of bikes that I thought were excellent decisions)

Getting adjusted to co-habitating again (my last roommate moved out about 4 years ago) has taken just a bit of getting used to again, but for the most part it has been easy and awesome.

Probably the one area of my life that has taken the biggest hit from all this (not just this last week but for the last few weeks/months) is this blog. I look back at some of my most popular posts and see that some of my quality has definitely slacked. It would be nice if it were an immediate fix, and there are certainly steps I intend to take towards a fast fix, but it will undoubtedly take some time to get this page back up to where I feel it should be.

With that in mind I hope to start having a short "repair this" guide / series that is/can be much more accessible to the intimidated home mechanic. I also hope to get back to doing reviews, as it's one of the things everyone loves (myself included) And finally we'll have a couple of spotlights for some sponsors for the 2016 race season. All big dreams/hopes that I intend to come through on. We'll just have to see though!

Anyways, thanks for checking in! More (focused content) to come in the near future!

- Christopher Morelock

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mawwiage...

Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today!

That bwessed awangment
So yeah... since you are probably reading this on the 21st, that means that around this time tomorrow (or, if it's Jan 22nd or later when you read this) I'll be married. Honestly, it hasn't quite "sunk in" quite yet, although this week I've been running around trying to get last minute things done. My friends tell me about an hour beforehand is when it actually starts to "drop" on you. Not that there are any cold feet or anything like that... I'm extremely excited. Jenny is everything I could ever want in a partner, so I think I'm marrying up. :)

Saturday was my bachelor party, where all (well... almost all) my friends came together and we partied like we did when we were 20. (err... 21, yeah... that's it.) Actually it really just involved some very nice scotch, some long talks and breakfast at Cracker Barrel. (always a classic) 

The last of us... only the tough make it til' 3 a.m. and beyond
So, I'm sorry this was a short post... I've had some other stuff on my mind!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it! Next time you hear from me I'll be Mr. Wit.

- Christopher Morelock
Mr & Mrs Wit

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

An Adventure in Wheelbuilding

Building a wheel is something I've been interested in trying for a long time. It's one of those things that always held some "mysticism" to me when it came to bicycles. The problem has been... it's tough to find a reason to build a wheel when 99% of your riding is on a Trispoke and a disc.

Well, the cyclocross bike gave me an excellent excuse. It came equipped with some fine (if bland) clinchers but I was a little more interested in tubulars, being the snob that I sometimes am. My first inclination was to go with what I know...which is to say buy a used set of tubular 303's and be done with it... but then, where's the adventure in that. So, after some time scouring the internet I decided that I *might* be able to build my own wheels successfully. The first step was purchasing Roger Musson's book, and then reading up on what kind of wheel would be good for my needs. After narrowing it down I settled on the Velocity Major Tom's. They fit all of my needs, aluminum braking, strong, wide, tubular and although it wasn't a major concern they were also fairly cheap. I lucked up in hub selection as well, as an ebay vendor was clearing out Shimano sets so I picked up an Ultegra 6800 combo for $100, which seemed about as reliable as I could get without dipping into the "over budget" selection.

Measuring ERD gave me some initial concern... as does basically anything that requires precise measurements, so I waited to measure myself as opposed to just trusting Velocity's published ERD. It turned out to be a wash as using Musson's method I ended up with 598, the same as the website. At least that gave me some peace of mind moving forward. With a correct ERD and the necessary values of my Hub (which I found online) it was time to pick spokes.

The first thing that caught my eye of course was a nice bladed CX-Ray... the next thing that caught my eye was the price tag of them. After some quick addition I realized at $3+/ea I was going to have a fortune in spokes for my 32hole rims. Common sense took hold and I "settled" for Sapim Lasers in black, which was much more reasonable from a bulk standpoint.

But no job is easy to finish without the right tools... and wheelbuilding tools were a spot in my toolbox that was quite slim... a cheap Parktool spoke wrench being the extent of it.

Jenny's father happens to be a master when it comes to wood working and a lover of anything that involves a plan or diagrams, so I passed off Musson's book/plans to build a truing stand and was floored with what he delivered just a couple days later.

The Wheel building corner

I was able to craft a nipple driver using Musson's instruction out of an old flathead screwdriver, but failed (somewhat miserably) at making a competent dishing tool. In the end I sucked it up and ended up buying two Spokey's, a set of Park Tool Spoke Keys, a Park Tool dishing tool and a Park tension meter... hopefully everything I'll ever need in the future to build wheels.

As far as the building is going... I'd say so far successfully. It's far more time consuming than I had imagined, but there is something soothing about the methodical work. I'm still new enough that a spoke being slightly less tensioned than the others still freaks me out, as does a slight bit of wobble (under a mm) but I have confidence I'll get everything pretty well sorted and get quicker.

So far I've only "finished" the front wheel, but here it is.

So begins the tubular stretching

I'll probably go back over it one more time using Park Tools app before I begin gluing the tire, but I'm happy with how far I've got now!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016, A New Start

Finally I can quit with the hints and just say it. For 2016 I'll be racing with Provision Multi-sport Team. If you're familiar with the blog and my issues the last year you'll have heard the name before and know that they were instrumental in helping me return to racing. This year I'm hoping to extend that to a return to multi-sport as well as just cycling.

Now I'm going to have to scour the Internet for a free Disney font to use.

I'm excited and hopeful that 2016 will be my best year so far. To help me with some of my lofty goals, and to keep me in check and healthy as I start running and swimming again, I've enlisted the expertise of Coach Joe Peeden to help re-mold me into a swimming, biking and running machine. 2015 was a drought in the way of race reports on the blog, due primarily to the fact that I indeed wasn't doing much racing! This year hopefully that will all change and we'll be back to a healthy dose of the interesting stuff.

It also wouldn't be the first post of the year if I didn't put down my resolution. In general I'm as bad as everyone else is when it comes to them (that is, I make it Jan1 and forget it Jan 11) but this year I would like to try something that should be very easy despite the fact that I don't think I've ever successfully accomplished it. For 2016 I would like to be more positive in regards to my training and racing. Instead of constantly focusing on the "bad" parts of my day, I hope I'll be able to see the good parts and focus on that. I know, I know... I've never been a glass half full kind of guy, and I'm not all that into the whole new age feel good movement, but resolutions should at least be intended to help us become better people, so that's what I'm hoping for. You guys are responsible for keeping me held true to it as well... see me lingering on the negative side too long and give me a sharp reminder of this post!

Here's to a great new year!
Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Hangover

What a wild holiday's it has been. Surviving two Christmas gatherings feasts on the same day was brutal, especially when everyone wants you to try something they made "just for you." Add to that the eggnog and cookies (yes...we baked cookies) and you have a recipe for a food hangover I'm still not recovered from.

I took last week off from training, and currently I'm still not back on the bike due to the recall/replacement on the Computrainer's flywheel. Long story short, if you have a blue flywheel on your CT, get in touch with Racermate and get them to send you the replacement... or you risk bodily harm. Check out the Slowtwitch Thread for more. Anyways, the time off (which has been great by the way) has given me some time to get some new projects up and running, as well as putting some of my Christmas gifts to use!

My absolute favorite gift was something the missus got for me, an indulgence I would have never bought for myself no matter how awesome I thought it was.

Can a tool be art? Silca makes a good case for it...

Let me just say, these things are the bomb. My go to Allen's have long been Bondhus, which I consider very top end. I've used a friend's PB Swiss wrenches before and although I was impressed, I didn't see the need to upgrade. These things fit that same niche for me. Initially, Too Good to Use syndrome set in and I kind of didn't even want to risk marring the beauty that Silca has produced... then reality slapped me (and a need to use said wrenches) and I gave them a go. It's hard to make praise for a tool... it's either sufficient for the job or it isn't. These are. Not only that, but they were still in near perfect shape after being put through some paces. Does that keep the bolt head's from stripping out longer? I assume it should, and that's what Silca claims, so awesome! Now that I have them, looking at some of my cheaper lower end key's is almost embarrassing. Snob points +10, thanks dear!

But what good are tools without something to work on. My present to myself (from selling my mountain bike and my Felt frame.) arrived and was in need of a few good wrenches!

It's been a Raleigh long time since I owned a bike of this brand... (badabump)

I came out very happy with this bike. The previous owner had certainly got some use out of it, but I got it at a price I figured I couldn't go too wrong with. The groupset was changed out (by the last owner) to Ultegra 10 speed (which was perfect for me) and the rest of the bike built up with that mix and some of the stock parts. The wheels are pretty unimpressive clinchers (although with Dura Ace hubs) with some decent rubber... although I hope to build a set of tubulars for racing... but they will do fine as training wheels I learn the ropes on. I swapped out the rings for a Wickwerks single 42t, and ran my old Nokon cables on it just to look cool.  I've had it out on one muddy ride already, and I'm hoping to get a few more in before the weather turns dramatically nastier in Tennessee. (Although some might argue that's the only time a cross bike is worth riding...)

As my last little bit of news for the end of the year, I upgraded to Cat 4 on the road... something everyone tells me I should have done a long time ago, but that I have been hesitant to do. We'll see what kind of winds of change this brings for my racing in 2016. At least I'll have plenty of teammates with me finally.

So, one more holiday party (today actually) and I'm done. Back on the bike on the 1st of the year... and I'm feeling ready to be there. More to come in 2016!

Thanks for reading and have a great (and safe) New Year!

- Christopher Morelock


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like... well you know.

Christmas (or whatever winter solstice style holiday you choose to observe) is a little over a week away. For those of you who procrastinate and still insist on doing your shopping in brick and mortar stores... I pity you. Myself, I'm done with all my shopping (thanks Amazon!) and am only awaiting delivery of a few small things at this point.

For myself... I couldn't resist. I pulled the trigger on a cyclocross bike. I ended up with a 2015 Raleigh RX 1.0 with an Ultegra drivetrain. I plan on turning it into a 1x build, but we'll see.

I dig it... at least for now
I really like the paint scheme on this bike, along with the kit. I am timid of disc brakes and in my "get off my lawn" mindset wanted to stay in my comfort zone with a Shimano drivetrain. Most of the "entry" level cross bikes I found slapped you with 9spd Sora, which although I don't hate doesn't really excite me. This bike has been used (probably pretty well) but that doesn't bother me in the least so long as everything is serviceable. I also stayed within my budget (of the $ I got for my mountain bike and S32 frame) so Jenny will hopefully not murder me in my sleep. Of course, I immediately want to build some wheels for it... which is not how you stay in budget... but I can dream...

It's been a bittersweet month for me in some ways. There are some new opportunities I'm very excited about coming up next year, but along with them some obligations (more on all that at a later time) which required a split from my long time coach and friend David.  After 5 years of working together week in and week out, it was tough on me, like the "end" of any solid relationship would be. I know (and David agreed) it would likely be good for me, but nonetheless, change is difficult. I'm doing a couple of workouts this week and maybe a few before Christmas and then taking a week or two off to let the batteries recharge.

Speaking of training, Zwift released a custom workout designer in their "workout mode." Something that has been begged for since workout mode was released. With my free time in training I have just now started playing around with this new editor and I like it quite a bit. Paired with my computrainer it takes a lot of the mental aspect out of my training... I just plug in and push whatever watts the computrainer adjusts to.  After I've had a little more time working with it I'd like to give a little more in-depth review of Zwift now that it's out of beta.

Anyways, probably no post next week, if there is it will be short and sweet. (and showing off goodies possibly) So most likely the next update will be a bit before the first of the year.

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it! Happy whatever you celebrate!

looking fly (is that still what the kids say?) at a group ride

- Christopher Morelock