Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shout out and a few pics from US Nats TT

First, let me send a huge shout out to

I was going to build a fixed gear clincher for training on and wound up goofing up my order (totally my mistake, just didn't pay attention to what was in my cart.) They spotted the error and fixed it for me. That's after helping me work out the right spoke length so I didn't have to measure it all myself and THEN order spokes later. (I'm lazy what can I say) Just thought I'd share an above and beyond experience with a great place to deal with.

For my build I went with the TR269 hub, H+Son SL42 and some Sapim Race spokes (32spokes)
Nothing overly exotic or fancy, just a good solid training wheel.

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I've got it almost done, just a little more radial "perfection" and the final tensioning. Then to get out there and beat it up.

Over the weekend US Pro Nationals came to town, and I got to see some great racing on Saturday! It's my first time seeing the World Champion jersey in person, which is pretty awesome! Here's a couple of photo's I snagged (Sorry, I am a crappy photographer)

Knoxville local Stephen Bassett

The world champion on her way to being the US champion as well

Maria Foley Danker also representing Knoxville!

And of course Jimmy being Jimmy. Now world famous!

It was a great event, happy to see it returning!

Have a great week everyone!

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How To: Going 1x - Removing a riveted FD

Another how to! It's been a while but now that things are slowing down again (I missed track state championship because of some work I can get back to tinkering with things. And this week we'll dive right in to something I have seen some people mention doing or thinking about doing, but that maybe you are a bit timid about tackling yourself.

First, let's get the disclaimer out of the way. If you screw your frame up, that's on you. No manufacturer recommends doing this, and neither do I. But if it's something you are considering doing, you might has well have a guide to reference. Also note this is done on a Speed Concept, so YMMV from manufacturer to manufacturer. My guess is that all of them riveted on are done basically the same way, but who knows.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's address the inevitable question of "why."
I'm not going to try to convince you. If you found this post through searching, you have already read more than I can put into words here. If you just stumbled on this and are rolling your eyes thinking "what a waste of time" then nothing I can say will change your mind. That's not my intent anyways. So, let's get on with it.

Alright, so you are planning to remove your front derailleur and go "permanently" 1x. The simplest way to do this (besides buying a 1x bike) is just to de-cable and/or remove your front derailleur. Now (unless you have a clamp on style, in which case you're done) it's a matter of what kind of derailleur hanger your bike is equipped with. A couple of my bikes just had bolt on hangers, which is obviously best for this kind of stuff, since two bolts and you're done. My old P3sl has the hanger welded to the frame, and so even though the P3 is on track duty it's still got it's hanger. Some day I may grind it off, but I hate to as that is VERY permanent. Most (at least TT / Tri) bikes now are something closer to "semi-permanently" mounted to the bike. That is, riveted. That's the case with most of the carbon cervelo's, and, more importantly to me, my Speed Concept.

So, what does "semi-permanently" mean? It means you're going to have to do some "surgery" to get it off, but that you could re-install it at a later date with minimal work if you changed your mind. For that you'd need a rivet gun (yes, like you'd get at Harbor Freight for ~$5) and the corresponding pop rivets, but it's not a job out of the reach of a home mechanic.

So, the thing is riveted (and also glued) to the frame. So what do we need to get it off? I used
- Electric handheld drill w/drill bits (a couple of sizes)
- heat gun (not necessary but makes life easier, a blow dryer might work)
- hammer
- punch (could improvise with hex keys or something similar)
- screwdriver/something to pry hanger off.

Now, before we get into it too deep, it's important to understand the design of the rivet holding it on and how to get it out. What you'll see is what looks like a button head bolt, except there is just a hole in it instead of a place for a tool to remove it.

This is a rivet. Everything below the dome is out of sight when installed. The outer straight piece is broken off when installing the rivet.

this handy diagram I borrowed off the net shows how the rivet is installed. #3 is how it looks in your frame.

Now that we have an idea of how they got the rivet in, let's get to work on getting it out.

We'll break this FD removal into steps.
1.) Drill off the cap heads
2.) Punch out the rivet
3.) Heat the hanger
4.) Pry the hanger off
5.) Get rid of the debris

Step 1: Drill off the cap head
This one is pretty simple, you can expedite this process by starting with a bigger bit from the get-go, but it's best for "first timers" to start slow. Grab your drill bits and find one a little larger than the hole in the rivet. Drill into the head a little bit (as you can see in the diagram, the cap is not deep, you don't need to go any farther than where the cap lines up with the frame.) The reason I suggest starting with only a slightly bigger bit than the hole for now is that if you drill too deep, you just drill into the rivet itself, whereas if you start with a very big bit you may start drilling out the frame if you go too deep. That said, you will have to move to a bigger bit, maybe a couple of times. Just take it slow, repeat until the cap head breaks loose. Now, either repeat this step for each rivet before moving on, or move on to step two and repeat each step for each rivet.

You may want to throw something over the ring/chain as you'll get shavings everywhere.

Step 2: Punch out the rivet
Ok, so the head is off. Now we need to get the inside of the rivet out of the way. With the head off the easiest way is to grab your punch / makeshift punch (I actually used a hex key because it was laying beside me while I was doing it and I'm lazy. Anything hard, straight, that you don't mind whacking with a hammer and that will fit is perfect.) stick it in the hole you have made by removing the head of the rivet, and tapping it with your trusty hammer. It shouldn't take too much force to knock it back into the frame (so you know, be careful hammering really hard or you could literally punch all the way through the frame! That would be bad.)  The easiest way to get the trash out of the frame is removing the seatpost, turning the bike over and shaking a few times. If you are really lucky and have a larger hole at the bottom of the frame they might come out there on their own.

Now, repeat this until you have all the rivets removed.

Step 3: Heat the Hanger
Now, you can try to remove the hanger before this step. Depending on what kind of adhesive they used besides the rivets, it may come off with only minor amounts of prying. On the Trek they used some epoxy, so it really needed heated to loosen it up a little bit. Like everything else, take your time, a heat gun gets REALLY hot really fast. You just want to warm the hanger and adhesive below it up up, not turn it white hot. When in doubt, go slow, you can always turn the heat gun back on.

heat it up, don't burn it up

Step 4: Pry the hanger off
Alright, so it's time to take remove the hanger. Your method of prying it off may differ. I used my screwdriver, stuck it through the opening in the hanger (where the derailleur mounts) and pried it off. It took minimal force. You could also probably do it with pliers or any other things. Use some caution and common sense... the hanger is probably metal, and you just warmed it... so grabbing it with your hand is a bad idea.

Step 5: Get rid of the debris
If you haven't gotten rid of the back half of the rivet (now in your frame) this is the time to do it. If you remove the seatpost make sure to mark where it was for reinstallation. It's possible that if you took off a little outer layer of paint/material when you pried off the hanger you'll need to sand it down to even to prevent further fraying. In the picture below you can see in my case the glue took a little bit with it when removed.  Not a big deal, but also not for the feint of heart. This is also the time when you should figure out how you're going to dress it up now. I went cheapo mode and just painted the area black... but you could get creative and make it look considerably nicer (something I may do down the road)

Removed! Semi Perma 1x

Is it worth doing? It depends. For me, I like to tinker on stuff, like smooth lines (no hanger sticking out) and obsess over any potential aero gains. Are there any? Most likely some, and some reports suggest that the hanger itself is the biggest portion of that drag. Whats a few watts mean to you? Again, hard to answer, a lot of us spend a lot of money for a watt or two... so doing something (relatively) cheap/free seems like a good bang for your buck. Again, not suggesting it's for everyone, but if you're going to tackle it, here's a way that worked well for me!

 Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Race Report: TN State TT (Cat4)

Back again with another report, this time for the TN State TT race.

How to start this report... I've tried a few times and failed to muster how I feel about it. Bittersweet is the best I can come up with. Again the top step has eluded me, but I had one of my best races, ever, which is all the more important. Of the things I could control, I think I hit a 95 out of 100 on execution, which in itself is probably the most important takeaway from the day. But let's start at the beginning.

The TN State TT was a race that was uncertain for a long time. Whether it actually was going to happen or not was up in the air until a couple weeks from race day. When they finally confirmed it in a new location, I was happy as my build up was targeting it and I do hate to miss timing like that. The new course was also a bit more friendly than the previous location, which thankfully included a good bit less elevation change. 

Coming off of the Georgia State TT I made some modifications to my equipment, not wanting to run out of gears going downhill again (a problem I had in GA) I swapped from my 50t to a 54t chainring (I run 1x) and put on a slightly wider cassette. With 3% being the max grade I was certain I'd have the gears I needed going up and down. I had ripped my skinsuit at the GA TT, but fortunately Kevin Sprouse came through in the clutch and got me into the new Body Paint 3.3 skinsuit before he left for the Tour de Suisse. It was also my first time running the new, extremely quick Vittoria Corsa Speeds, the new king of fast tires.  So, with my ride pimped out, it was time to go make what meager watts my motor can do.

We (my mother, wife and I) drove down to Dover on Friday evening, and I got in my final spin in at the hotel room. We had dinner at an excellent pizza place nearby and then watched the back half of Saving Private Ryan before bed.

Saturday we made our way to the race site about an hour and a half early, giving me time to get my numbers and get everything set up for my warmup.  I spent about 40 minutes total warming up (with a 5' or so break to pee in the middle) including a ~5 or so build and a couple of 30" efforts to open the legs up. Finally it was time to slip into (nothing so elegant actually happened, it was actually a lot of tugging...very gentle tugging) the skinsuit and head to the start tent.

My holder did a fine job, and then it was time for the countdown.
3, 2, 1, Go.

Coming straight out of the gate I spiked my power a bit getting up the bridge, then immediately slipped into my position and found my rhythm. The goal was to hold very steady power on all the flats and uphills (the out of the course had a generally steady "false flat" profile to it) and then at the long drag (~3% grade) to the actual turn point to spike it up just slightly and expect to recover a bit on the following downhill. All in all, I wanted to keep my heart rate in the low 180's for the majority of the ride.

As I came over the bridge from the start gate I smash into the open bit of pavement between bridge and road. It jars me hard, and for a second I wonder if it was hard enough to blow a tire. It wasn't, but it was also not an experience I wished to repeat as I crossed the other side of the bridge.

They say nothing new on race day, and I try to stick to that. I'm decent at bunny hopping on a road bike, but admit I've never done it (in aero) on my tt bike... but the concept is similar, except for that slight bit less control and having your elbows locked in place and the body weight distribution and so forth... Perfect time to try it out, right? I pull hard on the end of the bars and then immediately after pop my feet. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I landed it... not perfectly, but adequately enough that i didn't wipe out, which I suppose is good enough.

On a long straight out and back time trial you get plenty of time to think about things, which is a blessing and a curse. Some people can turn their mind off and just hammer, me I sit and think about things. It's something that has hurt me in the past, when I let my mind wander to "this sucks" territory... but this year I've worked hard on focusing on other stuff. I also moved my computer higher so that I can see the numbers just by glancing, which gives me some "motivation" to stay on watts and some buffer to calm me down. The other thing I've worked to focus on is staying as still as possible. Most of the guys I'm racing against out power me by a good 70-90 watts over an hour effort, so anything I can do to maximize my slipperiness is an absolute must.

Slowly, I start picking people off. As we near the turnaround I'm passed by a Cat3 rider, and I shadow him the remainder of the first half as we start going by an increasing amount of traffic. With the turnaround in sight and two riders immediately ahead of me I put in a "too big" effort to get by them (and to the turnaround first, so I can pick my line) which in retrospect probably cost me 15" or so overall. Fortunately after making the turnaround I'm able to get my heartrate back under control and start the fast return trip.

Holding my watts steady on downhills is a problem I have, so I really had to focus hard on what should have been the "easy" part of the course. I did a good job (for me) but still left some time out there. It's about this time I start to think to myself that the chamois in the Body Paint 3.3 is not the most robust... my undercarriage was really hurting! Finally I see the cones that lead back over the bridge to the finish line, and I get out of the saddle to try to power over. The stretch takes a lot longer than it did on the way out, and it's all I can do to stay in my right mind as I crest the hill and put in my last effort to the finish line.

Final Time - 57.52 on a slightly long course (25.3mi)

It was good enough for second place on the day, which was not the step I had hoped to land on, but it came from one of the best executed races I've ever had, so I am happy. It's also the first time I've "officially" broken an hour in a 40k, so small victories and all that. There is a saying in car racing "no replacement for displacement" and at a certain point it's true in human motors as well. The difference of motor size matter a lot more when the competition is also trying to check off all the aero boxes. It does give me something to look forward to next year, and motivation is always welcome!

Thanks to the Sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

States, this time in TN

When it rains it pours. No races for months and now it's all here at once. The TN state TT is Saturday in Dover, TN. It's been a long time coming.

After Georgia I'm feeling pretty good physically. Another week of some tough feeling workouts and now I'm feeling a bit beat up, but I'm on the taper again and looking like I'll peak on Saturday morning, which is obviously ideal.  Then the week after the track state championships will be held in Atlanta at DLV... I'm on the fence as to whether I'll go or not. I'd like to but it's a lot of events right together and I don't have just tons of track time racing. I'll play that one by ear.

So what's the plan for TN States? Somewhere in the 57 minute range seems like it should be pretty doable on my current fitness and is also what best bike split thinks. On a good day maybe a little better, on a bad day hopefully I still break an hour, something I've somewhat comically and somewhat sadly not been able to say in an open 40k tt for some various reasons/excuses. I'm done with excuses though... I'm going out and I'll ride my plan until the last section, in which I'll try to turn myself inside out.

So, short post this week. Things to do, tapering to get in, work to catch up on. I'll be back next week with another race report, and then who knows where we'll go from there.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock