Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Unexciting Start

Not just a great title for a post, but also how I describe my standing starts on the track. Other words that might fit are "lackluster" "uninspired" "terrible."





It turns out, years of muscle memory starting at a pedestrian speed (either for a longer time trial or with a running start before hopping on a tri bike) don't really lend themselves to the violence required for a hard and fast standing start on the track.  At the CCA Regionals at Giordana Velodrome a few weeks ago I learned this the hard way.



Ignore my kilo... that would be for the best at least... as it was dishearteningly slow for the watts I invested into it. 

My first lap in the 4k (as well as the kilo) was about 4 seconds off the pace of pretty much everyone else in that list. My second lap was also a little slow as I had still not got up to top speed. After that point I put down pretty good lap splits until the very end where I started to fade (it was another 1k longer than my masters races) but overall it would have looked much better if I had just done an even slightly better start.

Of other things to note, with the power I produced for the ride I went slooooowwww. Most of the calculations I ran it through spit out a 5 even or slightly under for the watts I was making... so something was/is off. Looking at the other times I suspect a big portion of it is that the track at Rock Hill is getting significantly slower at a pretty fast rate. You can feel it getting lumpier even compared to when I started a little over a year ago. It's certainly not DLV levels of bumps, but it's not smooth either. 

Another thing to consider is some of my equipment. (We're going to assume my SRM was reading correctly as it was zeroed before the start) I was trying out some 3T Revo bars in hopes that they'd help with my start (seems they didn't, or perhaps it'd be bad to see what it looked like without them) - but it is definitely possible they aren't very slippery bars, there is a lot going on with them. (although I do appreciate the on the go adjustibility) My skinsuit (the new Velotec) fits really well, but It's been beaten into my head over the last 10 years that "fits comfortably" usually isn't a good thing for a skinsuit. Having shredded my BodyPaint 3.3 though, that's sort of where we're at. My rear tyre changed from a Vittoria Pista Evo to a more durable (although certainly slower) Continental Tempo2. There's also my position, which has gotten a good deal wider and higher than it has been in the past.

My experiments with width have brought out some good results in the ability to produce power within single digits of my road bike power (something I've never gotten close to before) but it's something I haven't put a ton of work into and definitely needs tuned to be optimal... if it can be optimal. I'm guessing from my Aerolab analysis that I'm giving up roughly 12-15 watts in cda to gain roughly 18-20 in power production... so a net positive but not by much. Albeit a wider position may allow me to ride a tighter line, be more comfortable, etc etc. Still, needs work.
Mostly, I think I may need to work on my head position on the track. I'll post the video below so you can see how I'm periscoping... a lot of that is because I suck at lining up the turns on the track and have to look up not to ride the red line (which I do a bit of anyways) but some of it is just how my head sits. It's possible a longer tailed helmet like the Wasp might be better than the Aerohead for me.



Still, overall everything went pretty well.  I've got a lot of work to do. My short term goals are to improve my standing starts as that's where a lot of "free" time will come from, and also to bring my top end power up so that I have a bit more "punch" when I need it. That'll take up the next couple of months, then it'll be a build to bring my 4-5 minute power up while in position, while riding a tidy black line around the track.  The longer scope goal is to get back to planning an attack on the Master's hour record. There have been setbacks this year, but if there is a silver lining it's that it will give me more time to become more confident in my abilities to take on the challenge and set a solid record. Time is on my side (unless some other stud breaks it first and puts it out of my reach)

As for the site/blog, I'm hoping to get things back on track this winter and return to more how to's and reviews. I've got a nice list of things built up but just haven't gotten to any of it yet.
Other things I'm going to consider (depending on how big of a job it turns out to be) is trying to build a part of the site that carries on the legacy of Aeroweenie.com where lots of data was compiled to one place where you could quickly find the white papers/data you were looking for. It's still a resource I use although it sadly isn't kept current.
Finally, I have had a lot of interest in some of my 3D printed projects. I may begin selling some of those projects for those that have interest. Mainly the "nubs" that exit out of the extensions for trackies like Bridie O'Donnell famously used in her hour attempt. (I see that the Tanfield's / Bigham also have some ends in their track bars, although a different design)


There you can see some of my prototypes, each with different amounts of stack/reach they add to the bars. It's not a certainty, but something I might do if there's the interest. I think the 3D printing place that did Bridie's was charging over $100... mine would be considerably cheaper.


Anyways, thanks for reading! I always appreciate it a ton.

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, August 6, 2018

Still here (Some short State Championship Reports)

I'm still here!
It's been a long time since the last post. There has been a lot going on, and honestly, some really low points for me. It's been a real roller coaster the last couple of months, but I'm hoping to have come out the other side for the better.  But, for this post I wanted to put down some of my thoughts on the State (Track and TT) Championships for Tennessee.

Most of my season has been derailed after a high speed crash (my front tyre blew out) at the track a couple of weeks ago. Most of the damage was just to equipment  and skin, but I did a real number of my hip and hip flexor. After two weeks I can spin again on the bike without much pain, but the damage to my fitness has been done, and I've had to pull out from my hour attempt in Aguascalientes this year. Hopefully I can salvage some of the rest of the year and gain some strength so that when I start planning next year I'll be ahead of my target as opposed to right on/below it. Another season of track craft certainly won't hurt my odds.

Unfortunately the Bodypaint isn't the best at protecting your skin


Ruined a nice pair of socks too :( 

But enough whining, on to some reports from the weeks (now I suppose month+) past

Track State Championship
The astute among you might have noticed some red flags already. The primary one, that Tennessee doesn't have a velodrome. (but we'd like to change that!) 
Fortunately, Dick Lane Velodrome was gracious enough to host us during their own state championship, which will bring up the second point... there wasn't a big show of support from the Volunteer state. In fact, my success was guaranteed the moment I lined up... as I was 1 of 1. Participation award - Check.

Nonetheless, I wanted to actually contest some of my division. What I didn't quite realize was that I was about to get thrown into the elite division (as there was no 35-39 Masters group) and that all Cat's would race together. As you might expect, a lowly Cat4 who's done a couple of mass start track races wasn't going to have a snowballs chance in the big league. The omnium structure was cool, although it rained out the scratch on Friday night, we made up for it early Saturday (making Saturday's schedule scratch - kilo - 4k IP - points race)



Overall, it went pretty poorly. In the scratch race things went pretty boringly, and I foolishly took the opportunity to show my stuff off the front. Unfortunately for me, I got strung out for a little bit then shelled off the back where, with the other unfortunates like myself, we formed a little gruppetto and circled the track half a length behind the big leagues. There were no pulls, and slower riders were instructed to stay on the bottom of the track. This turned into a real problem the final lap, as our little group was caught directly in the final turn. There was some yelling, and some rubbing. Fortunately, there were no wrecks, and I scathed through the finish "best of the rest."

The Kilo I fared far worse. It had been a long time since my last stint in aerobars at Dick Lane, but I had forgotten exactly how rough it was. I hit the first turn at speed and very nearly wrecked. The next two laps I had a death grip on my bars and coasted through... almost getting caught (very embarrassing) at the line. Off to a great start!

As the 4k approached, I had a gut check moment. I seriously considered putting my drop bars back on. My ego however told me I'd rather crash than suffer the indignity of doing a pursuit without my aerobars.  I lined up with the intention to just go as hard as I felt comfortable with. While the lower speeds made the bumps less of an issue, it didn't help me out any when it came to putting down a fast time. I finished 4th in the Elites... and took a fair amount of pride in that considering I did it at a well below max effort.

Finally was the points race. Unfortunately it was quite a bit of a letdown, as I had broken a cleat at some point that evening, and after a couple of laps with heavy clicking and an odd feeling in my foot, I decided to not chance it and DNF'd. It also saved me the humiliation of getting shelled again, so that's a victory, right?

All in all, a great learning experience, but not what I'd hoped to bring out of it. Of course, one of my goals for the year was to finally lay hands on a State championship jersey... and I suppose technically I accomplished that in the lamest way possible.

TN State TT
The State TT has been something I've wanted to win for years now. Something most of my friends have won on their way to better things. I was seriously hoping to improve my placing from 2017 (2nd) and felt that I had been putting in the work to get it done. Specific training I hadn't been doing (there is a lot of climbing on the front half of this 40k for a TT) and gaining weight for track wasn't going to be a big help in that respect, but I still felt I was in the running.

About 1k into the race I came upon a divet in the road/bridge connection and hit it full speed. It jarred me hard enough that my TULA bars slipped backwards (and up) a bit. It was slightly less comfortable than what I had set up to begin with, but higher hands should be a positive, right? Derek and myself had came up with a strategy and power targets for me to hit on each section... a plan I executed perfectly! I came in the last kilometer full gas, and nearly wrecked as I crossed the line. It was a race I went very deep in. I felt like I had left it all out there and had a great race.

Unfortunately, not great comparatively. I went slower than I did the year before (on 20+ more watts) and was not even on the podium (4th) at the end of the day.

For sure, it was a blow to my confidence, in everything. One of the problems with only having a few specific targets over the year is that when doesn't go "to your expectations" then you have a big letdown. But, upon review and a non-emotional look at the event, I can't be anything except happy with my performance.

It was only a couple of weeks later I took my spill at Rock Hill. Here we are a month from that point and finally I don't have pain in my hip. (Although sitting extended periods does make it sore/stiff still)  I'm melancholy about how it has turned out and what it means for my hour attempt. I wish things had turned out differently, but it's a fools errand to focus on what could have been, instead it's back to working towards something.  Fortunately I happen to enjoy the journey, so on to bigger and better things!

Until next time, thanks so much for checking in on me. Hopefully it won't be as long of a break between posts :)

- Christopher Morelock 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The nightmare of logistics

It seems like I am starting more and more posts this way, but... it's been a while.

The primary reason is that training has taken a front seat in everything. This is the final push towards July to get as fit as possible, and it's a trying time. Mentally as much (if not more so) than physically. Unfortunately, the things that don't immediately fuel that get pushed to the side. (like the blog, sadly)

One of the things that seems to go hand in hand with hour records is devilish logistics. For possibly the best firsthand account you can read  The Hour by Michael Hutchinson. While his struggle was primarily related to the bike required for the antiquated "athletes" hour, my own tribulations stem more from the location. Mainly, it's the end of May and I don't have a concrete venue to do my attempt at in July.

Aguascalientes is still where my hope lies, but it's becoming likely that the velodrome will be undergoing maintenance (re-finishing the track) during our target dates. Sanding/working on the boards can take quite a while (a month or so) and the process can indeed slow the track down a bit until it is again "worn in." The work was supposed to be done by now, but delays have set it back to what seems to be perfectly scheduled to interfere with our trip. It's possible we won't know for sure until July1... at which point I'm concerned I won't be able to secure flight/lodging (for a price I can stand to pay) which has left me scrambling to try to figure out a "plan b."

The seemingly obvious choice is just to wait and re-schedule the trip for later in the year. While that seems the most logical solution, it's one that I'm not sure I can come to terms with. I am ready for this to be finished. Spending every waking moment thinking about bearing friction and atmospheric pressure is something I enjoy in the abstract, but has begin to take it's toll on me. It's difficult to focus on one big event for almost two years and not start to feel the strain as the end comes into view.  I suspect this will be my first and my last "serious" hour attempt.

The next spot on the list is Colorado Springs. The altitude is similar, the track is longer (both a good and a bad thing) and the travel is easier. The downside is that the paved track is not on par with the boards in Aguas, and just in general the track is a bit slower. I think it's still a great option, but of course it doesn't come without it's won logistical problems. Namely, the bubble that surrounds it is not a permanent structure, and the velodrome is working to make it permanent. If that happens, it will have to come off while the permanent fixtures are installed... of course the time frame for that is likely in July...meaning best case the top is off, and worst case the track is just closed. Neither being ideal for a backup plan.

There is also "The Day of the Hour" in Milton. By all accounts a very nice track, and pretty quick. Unfortunately, it's also at sea level. Doing my calculations, it would be very difficult for me to break the record at sea level... maybe impossible. It's also possible I'm selling myself a bit short, but with the cost involved in this endeavor (and the likelihood that I'll never try it again) I really want to make this shot the absolute best I can.

At the end of the day, these are all things that are mostly out of my control, so all I can do is ride the wave and see how things pan out. Of course that's easy to type out on the computer, and a lot tougher to deal with sitting in the chair.  We'll see how this all shakes out. At the very least, it's going to be an interesting story to tell in the years to come!

Thanks for checking in, I really appreciate it. I promise we'll get back on a normal schedule one of these days!

- Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A short TT report (Oak Ridge Velo TT)

I'm still kicking! It's been a while since the last update, I apologize for anyone who was anxiously hitting refresh on the blog for the next post! Things have been moving quickly, and they're only going to speed up between now and the end of July. I've started about 8 posts and not finished any of them... so when things slow down again there is going to be a flood gate of stuff! Thanks for checking in, on to the report!

It's been a while since I last turned the cranks of my TT bike in anger. Actually, it was the Oak Ridge Velo TT last year that was the last time. As the schedule flipped this year it just so turned out it was the first race of the season this time! While the weather conditions would be vastly different, it would be a pretty good way to measure how I was progressing vs. where I was last year. 

For the nerds out there that are interested in such things, and to add some spice to an otherwise "I rode hard" style race report, here's the difference in the weather at 4p.m. (roughly my race start) between years

7/22/2017 - (16:51) 91° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1422 with wind ~ 7mph blowing Southwest
4/14/2018 - (16:50) 77° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1744 with wind ~10mph blowing South

What does that mean? Well, the condensed version is that the day was slower due to the conditions. (I know, I've just opened up a whole new world of excuses for people to use for a bad day now! "Yeah man, I was feeling good, but the Rho was just not in my favor!") While the lower temperatures "feel" better, in general we usually go faster when it's hot. (The caveat being if it's so hot that you are truly overheating) To expand - 

In 2017 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:51:xx
In 2018 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:50:xx

What was the difference then? It took me 20 more watts to cover the distance 1 second faster this year. I rode the same bike, same wheels and tyres, with equipment/position that gave me a similar CdA (I looked!)  or at least similar total drag, (total drag being a mix of CdA, rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency) and paced the race similarly. (Note this doesn't account for traffic draft, changes in road surface over a year, etc etc) If you look at other repeat racers times vs. 2017, pretty much nobody went faster this year.

But enough of the nerdy stuff. This is a race report! 

As a full disclaimer and apology, most of the people racing the ORV TT had already been riding on Saturday before I even got out of bed. Road racing, and especially any going longer than an hour isn't in my wheelhouse any longer, and I don't miss it! Nonetheless it's my new secret strategy to winning Omnium TT's... just don't wear yourself out earlier in the day!

Abs of steel has been failing me...

I arrived about an hour and a half before the start. The general plan is to get to race site with plenty of time to fix whatever inevitably breaks on my bike (last year it was a flat!) and sequel into the start tent moments before it's time to start with a sky high heartrate. Somehow the universe mercifully spares me any mechanicals and I get to spend that time socializing. Some may say it's the right time to warmup for such a short event...but what do they know. Eventually I do kit up (In my red kit... which hides the blood from when I'm stuck with safety pins... just like a spandex Deadpool) and figure I probably should at least pretend to warm up. I do some openers, which any the track guys I know would laugh at, but felt like huge starts for me, then ride into the start tent. As usual, once things start moving, it moves fast.

3,2,1 Go

I come out of the gates hot. (For me, again... laughable standing start watts) As soon as I'm up to speed I find my place on the saddle and tuck. For me the race is split into three sections, the first third (up to the highway on ramp) is to get into a good rhythm and settle my heart rate. The second section is all about making power (a long steady incline up the highway to the turn on Bear Creek Rd) and the third section is about maximizing where I spend my energy.

The first third goes by to plan. My heart rate settles in around 180 and my watts are pretty consistent though the slight rollers. As we approach the on ramp I catch my first rider. I split my focus between the road, (a dangerous balancing act as the shoulder is not swept, and the curvy road begs impatient motorists to make dangerous passes... all divided by some gnarly rumble strips) my wattage and relaxing...as much as you can relax at 180bpm at least. I've found giving myself things to think about helps me TT much more consistently. Nothing worse than a blank mind counting seconds. I come up on my second rider but I'm close enough to the edge I can't squeak out an "on your left" I just have to pass and move on. 

Making the turn on Bear Creek it's time to bury myself. At this point the terrain changes pretty significantly, going from a general trend of steady uphill/false flat to true rolling terrain. Unfortunately I'm at my worst at stuff like this, I just can't get comfortable and stay in a gear, and my watts can drop / jump pretty wildly. I focus and just try staying smooth, something that has gotten a bit easier with my increased track time, but still isn't optimal. I pass my third rider and as I cross one of the hills I can just glimpse my fourth one. I figure if I can hold my pace and increase it to the finish I might just catch him. As we make the final sweeping bend before the final straight, I take my first second (too much, a full cadence drop to 0 in an otherwise beautiful power data file) of freewheeling. Once I'm out of it I put my head down (don't try this at home kids) and just follow the white line. I glance up and can see the finish, and realize I sadly won't be catching my fourth rider! I don't have anything left for a sprint, so I just hammer on to the line. Finally, I hop onto the base bar and can gasp air again. 

The primary success for me was hitting my targets (technically I was 1 watt below my goal... but I'll allow it to be rounded!) and feeling "comfortable" doing it. That was a success. It was a happy bonus to also be able to take the top step of the podium at my "home" race as well.  The fact that I was able to add a chunk of watts to my race on less fitness (for those of you who are Trainingpeaks nerds, around -20 CTL to the race last year) should mean my goals for later in the year are going to plan. 

After that, I watched some of my friends start/finish their race, and collected my sweet sweet prize purse. It was great to see so many of my teammates dipping their toes into the world of bike racing.

So that was my ORV TT. I managed to sneak into the top 10 overall (I'm a nerd and looked) finish times, which I'll also take a small amount of pride in. 

Next on the agenda is getting back down to Rock Hill and doing some aero testing on skinsuits, as well as doing the final adjustments / dialing in my position. I'll try to grab some pictures and jot something down worth reading!

Until then, Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New Saddle and fit

Sniped a Mistica on Ebay, been interested in this saddle a long time (I've worn out many Arione Tri's in my time) put it on the FUJI and adjusted the fit. Got a lot more roll in the hips, I like it. Power is a lot smoother at the top of the stroke.


Still a couple of tweaks to make, but overall happy with it so long as it feels good turning left!

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, March 5, 2018

Aguascalientes



I haven't been totally honest with you guys. Since late 2015 when I began working with my new coach Derek Dalzell, we've had one thing in mind... one "long term" goal that we knew would take years to come to reality, with no guarantees that it would even then. And so, nose to the grindstone, we've waited and worked toward it. Now, it's time to put it out there and bring it to words in "public" for the first time. July 2018, I'm going to attempt to best Jason Sprouse's US National hour record of 45.641km

Some folks might find that a pretty modest distance for a Men's master's record. I did, and that's exactly what spurred me on towards it. If you were to look at the AG records, the 35-39 record is certainly the "softest" one still out there. That's not in any way taking a dig at the record... it's stood for 10 years and was done at T-town (outdoors at not the fastest track in the world) something I'm fairly sure I couldn't do. Nonetheless, I think with the right amount of "smart planning" and hard work, a nobody has been triathlete with only minimal track experience like myself might have a shot at putting a couple of meters (at least 10 please!) onto the record and getting my name jotted down on USAC's record page. That said... I've gone 41k in my hour last year at Rock Hill... that means I need to add around 19 laps to that. 19 laps is a LOT of laps.

So you say... you are crazy... how do you plan to get that many more laps plugged into the same time frame. Well... I've definitely worried thought of that.

First, from the data we collected at the track at Rock Hill, there are some things to be considered. The primary one is that we were ONLY aiming to best the current track record (40.5km) which meant both gearing and target lap times were set to be slightly up on that pace... NOT my threshold (or, looking at the power data, anywhere close) which means, on paper, I should have been able to go much farther. Now, paper vs. reality is two things... and I didn't feel great at the end of that hour... but it was my "first" time. I plan to do another tune up hour (again at Rock Hill) quite soon, and we'll see if I can't add a fair amount to that.

Another thing I plan to use to tip the scales in my favor is location. Aguascalientes Velodromo Bicentenario is the fastest track in the world, as it is a fast wooden (indoor) track with the near optimal amount of elevation. Many very smart individuals estimate that going to that track "gifts" you a "free" kilometer or so in distance. Being indoors it also means I'll be able to run a front disc, which should help with the aerodynamics. The downside to going to altitude is that it can have a negative effect on your ability to produce power... but I'm hoping to adapt well (and lets be honest, I don't have much power to lose)

Alex Simmons (who has an excellent, much more technical blog you should certainly check out) has done a lot of hard work figuring out what kind of W/CdA is necessary to go a certain distance at certain elevations. Using his charts, it seems like, roughly, I should be able to do 47km. Again, Paper vs. Reality, but from all I've seen this paper lines up pretty accurately.  That gives me a little wiggle room if things don't go perfectly.

There will be more updates in the future as things develop and I know more. I've also been keeping a blog entry over the last year or so that has chronicled the journey... once this is all done and finished I'll edit it and release it in a couple of posts. It should be fun to look back at what I've learned over the years!

So, until next time, thanks so much for reading! Time to turn left!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How To: Install Soyo (or other Track) Grips

I was halfway through installing these the other day when it struck me I should do a "how to" on it... that's why one grip is already on and the pictures kind of suck. Sorry... be glad you got anything!

Since I've made my way into the world of track, there has been one seemingly endless source of frustration... getting those dang grips on "easily." Some people will always prefer just good old fashioned bar tape, but personally, I like the grip from Soyo's. (with gloves on... might be a little tough to handle if you ride gloveless) Well, the first time I *attempted* to install some, I absolutely ripped my hands to shreds. So bad in fact that I had to stop and wait a couple of days to finish while the skin healed back. That was after spending an hour or two online looking for the "easy" way to install them. Sure, a google search will find you a couple of threads and some YouTube video's, but nothing really helpful for installing the super tight NJS style grips. (Soyo, Yoshida Champs, StrongV, etc) so, using what little I picked up online, and a lot of trial/error, I've gotten really good at installing them, and I thought it'd be fun to put a resource out there that was a little more in depth. So lets get to it.

- Lubricant/glue - 
The first thing to decide is what kind of lubricant you want to use. First, let's be clear, you want something that won't continue being slick after it dries. (When you're twisting from a start or in a sprint, you don't want the grips moving) That means oil/wd40/grease/etc isn't what you're looking for. From the things I've tried, it really comes down to 3 choices. 
- Rubber Cement
- Hair Spray
- Windex (soapy water would be fine too) 
All of them have positives and negatives, so I'll let you decide as to which one to use. I've tried all 3, and have my own thoughts on each. 

Rubber cement is the "traditional" way if such a thing exists. The Keirin stars in Japan (or their mechanics) do this using rim cement (I used Elmer's rubber cement... but whatever) and once that sets, those grips aren't moving. EVER again. The good thing about that is you don't have to worry about anything slipping on you when you are really torquing on the bars. The downside is that you've basically bonded your grips to your bars, and getting them off is a matter of literally cutting them off. Once you've got them off there is also the matter of cleaning the dried glue off before you can move forward. That's not a huge deal on metal bars as any number of solvents will help you along, but on carbon it's a little more dodgy. There's also the fact that you will inevitably (or at least I did) make a hell of a mess installing them in the first place. Fortunately, it's a lot easier to clean up while everything is still wet, but still... it's not a lot of fun. I used this on my Nitto bars, but honestly... I think it's overkill.

Hair spray is the next step down in terms of hold vs. mess. This is what I consider the go-to method. You'll get a lot of hold, some lubrication while installing, and not a lot of mess either installing or after removing. This is what I've used on most of my carbon bars since it's a lot less difficult to clean the residue off if I ever want to replace the grips. I use good old aqua net (also what I use for my 3d printer build plate) because it's cheap, unscented and readily available. Some of the "spritzer" bottles might work a little better as they stay "wet" longer than the aerosol spray does, but I haven't had much problem.  The main downside is the over spray, and that it's pretty fast drying so once you commit, you need to get the grip on asap. It's almost certainly not the same strength hold as glue is, but unless you're really putting a ton of torque into your drops, I can't imagine them budging. I've tried multiple times (using both hands) to move mine, and I can't do it. Although I'm not a pillar or upper body strength to compare to.

Windex is the go to for when you're having issues getting the #$@*& things on. (Soapy water is a fine substitute as well) Windex is really nice for installation because you can be LIBERAL with the application and not worry about it. It's quick drying, which is another nice bonus to using it. The downside is that you don't get any extra "stick" when it dries, so just the tightness of the grips is all that keeps it from moving. I can move the "centering line" of my Soyo's ever so slightly when I use this method under normal conditions, and I can twist it a bit if I really try. Not enough that it would be noticeable mid-sprint/start, but enough that you can see it afterwards. If you're a big stickler for things being perfect (I sort of am) then it might drive you crazy... but functionally it should be fine for the already super tight grips.

Other Options There are a bunch of folks (well, some anyways) that use other methods. One that's pretty popular is using an air compressor with a needle nose (search google/YouTube for installing a golf grip with an air compressor to get an idea how it's done.) to "slide" it on while consistently blowing air under it. I've tried it a couple of times, and I don't find it to be a great installation method. That said, it is great for removing the grips, and it can help you straighten things up if you got it twisted around somehow. Overall, I think it's meh, but to each their own. Another option some suggest is boiling the grips to make them more pliable. You could also heat them up with a hair dryer / heat gun (I'd be very careful with a heat gun that you don't burn them) I've actually heated the ends before to make them easier to slide over the tip of the bar when starting out... I don't know that'd I'd go so far as to boil them though.

Alright, so you've picked your poison. For the installation part I'm using the Windex method, mainly because I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the short grips on or swap them for longer ones. I'm also putting these on Sphinx bars, which are so noodly that I'm likely not going to be using them for lots of sprinting/hard starts... so no need to glue them on.

Here's the steps I use to get them on "easy"

Secure the bars
This is probably the thing that made the biggest difference for me. Take the stem/bars off of the bike (or mount the stem to the bars if you haven't installed them yet) and remove the fork or use a spare fork/metal rod to attach the stem to. Then secure the fork/rod in a vice or your bike stand (so long as it's sturdy) with the end of the bar facing you.  You're going to be tugging/twisting/pushing on this thing in anger pretty soon, so it needs to be well braced.



Lube it up
I start by spraying down the inside of the grip and the very end of the bar. I just want to get the grip slid over the lip of the barend to start with (and if you go crazy with the Windex at this point everything will be too slick to get a good grip on.

Windex to the rescue

As you can see, the grip has to stretch a pretty significant amount to fit over the bars. Again, if windex is proving to be a little tricky getting the grip over the end, you can gently heat it up and you shouldn't have any problem clearing it. Now that you've got it started, it's time to get a bit more liberal with the Windex. I coat the rest of the bar, and spray a little more into the end of the grip for good measure at this point.



Test your grip strength
At this point it's all about how tough your hands are and your technique. Personally, I've got delicate hand model'ish hands, so it's here that I pull out my trusty leather work gloves (whose real purpose is relieving stress in spokes on wheels I build, and occasional yard work... very occasional) and spare myself the blisters that I'm sure to incur without them. If you're more of the "manly" type, then by all means forgo the gloves.


The best method I've found is to take your other hand and brace the bars (pushing back against the bend in the drop) as you both push and slightly twist the grips up the bar. You don't want to go crazy with the twisting, as you want the grip to line up straight when it's all the way on, but twisting will help it climb up the bar.  Once you get about halfway up, it'll become much more difficult. At this point it's best to go back down to the start of the bar and start pushing/twisting again. Once the grip moves up in that area, go back to the top of the grip and pull it further up. It's a little tough to describe, but you'll get more grip on the bar by working in these two steps.

Go back and make sure it's all the way on

When you get close to finished you need to check and make sure that the end of the grip is firmly against the end of the bar, it can be a little hard to tell. Once it's on, check and see if it's lined up correctly. (Most grips have a seam that runs straight up the grip... I always line that up dead center) You want to do this now, because after the Windex dries up it'll get much more difficult to make adjustments.




And  that's how that is done. I'm still not 100% sure if I'll keep the short ones or get some long one's... I really only use the back of the drops on these bars (check out that super short stem on these Sphinx's to keep them legal)  so I don't really need any more surface area, but then again it might look slightly better with the longer grips. If I do, maybe I'll update this with pictures using another style.

Well, thanks for reading, hopefully this saved somebody from some frustration and blisters!

- Christopher Morelock