Thursday, January 31, 2008


Many of you who know me know I'm not really much of a ShimaNO fan, but I have secretly been running a few of their [MTB] components for a long time.
Their shifters always seem to pull top coin for resale which helps if you buy a XT/XTR bike, but that's about it. The XTR shifters I had (pre-rapid rise) felt mushy at best. Even SRAM's pre-07 X.9 triggers were much more crisp than the Shimano shifters of today. That pretty much led me to SRAM shifters about 5 years ago, and I haven't looked back since.
Shimano's cassettes, on the other hand, are pretty damned good. I'm sure SRAM has improved their shifting over the years but when I had a mid-upper level cassette several years back, it just didn't shift that well and it was shot after one season of me not really racing that much. I've had 2 or 3 XT cassettes in rotation for about 3 years and they still shift very well. As I was looking at components to spec for my new bike I got to the cassettes and gave the SRAM a hella good look because A) I like SRAM. Alot. B)I don't like mixing components. 3)The SRAM spider is red.
Red is, afterall (ATMO), mountain biking's equivalent to the road's white.

Anyway, listed weight for the SRAM was 305g against a 260g for the XT. I like red, but 45g on a gamble when Shimano shifting is a known? Even I have to pass on the red for that. For 2008 Shimano came out with a new cassette, the CS M-770. I saw a picture of it and had to take a moment. They added five little nubs to the back of the spider pins to catch dropped chains and prevent jamming everything up in back.
These little nuggets would have saved me about 20 minutes at the XC National Championship last year since that exact fate cursed me. Out of pride I had to finish the race so I sat there for literally 20 minutes digging the chain out from behind the cassette. And me with no cassette lockring tool. Shame on me...

I'm a little concerned that the gears are not the nickel finish they used to be. I'm hopeful I don't have any durability issues as a result. Since I'm an AR clean bike person, it may not be an issue.
I was also rather disappointed when the new cassette weighed in at a portly 297g, but I will give up 40g to save 20 minutes. Trust me on that one.
Hopefully SRAM designers read my blog and decide to add the chain pins to their cassette. I also hope they've improved durability so that I can just get the damned SRAM cassette. My conscience will then let me sleep better at night knowing I'm running a same-brand drivetrain.

Plus it'll have a red spider.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Uncomfortably numb

So about 17 minutes into my threshold test, my arms started going numb. By the time I hit 19 minutes, my arms were numb from elbows to fingers. That's a new one on me. I've had my tongue go numb before, but arms?? Plus I wanted to puke.
I put up a few less watts than I wanted, but my average over the effort was a few watts over my last test in November. Given I'm lifting weights now and my legs don't ever really stop hurting, I think I'm in good shape. Nevermind the fact that this is January and I really have done zero power exercises on the bike.
While I'm piling on excuses, I crashed on my mountain bike on Saturday when screwing around on some North Shore hucking type stuff. I made the transition from bridge to fallen tree just fine, but I think the snow had something to do with my fall as I tried to exit off the tree. I don't know if it was my front or rear wheel, but one of 'em washed out and I fell about 3 feet. I ended up with a bruised shoulder, outer thigh, trapezius muscle and above all a bruised ego. The funny thing was that when I was checking out my bike for broken bits, I discovered a WAY bent chain ring from earlier in the ride when I botched an attempted manual of a 12" tree (it was uphill, so I was going a bit too slow). I didn't clip out, but I kinda balanced on the BB for a second or two. Well, I guess it was actually the chain ring I was resting on...

With that, I'm out.

-the ATM

Houston, we have a problem

So I booted up my new training tires only to find out that things are tight.
Really tight. As in, the electrical tape holding my speed sensor cable is the difference between contact and not. Methinks a 23c tire is in order.

On to other opportunities for improvement, I think my super sexy-light MTB race hoops are not actually UFOs, which makes sense. Advertised weight of the UFO is 370g and to have both come out to around 340 is impressive yet disconcerting on the production tolerancing front. Ringle' has a new hoop for 08 called the Equalizer 21, which is advertised at 350g - much closer to 340 and I can accept that without concern.
Reason 2 for thinking I got the Equalizer is that using the spokes I bought for the listed ERD of the UFO are up 2-3mm short. The Equalizer has an ERD that is 2mm more than the UFO. I luckily have enough spokes of the correct length for the rear and the wheel builds up fine, spokes exactly where they should be. All that's left is to measure tension then outfit with the trimmings... rim tape, disc, cassette and tire.
Measure tension, you ask? As if you thought my engineering ass would not measure tension.
When it's all said and done, the wheelset will weigh in just at 1430g. Pretty sick!

In other news, I'm all set for my threshhold test tonight. I was reflecting this morning while on the, uh, throne and realized I was approaching this test as a race, thinking of my preparation leading up to it. That's a good thing, and I'm most assuredly motivated. We shall see what sort of mad power I can throw down.

-the ATM

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Columbus Cross

Today was the the 2008 edition of Columbus Cross, the local club race I put on for fun. It's a bit too late in the CX season to have many show up trying to crush it, but it's still fun to do. We run it underground style, where you show up and race for pride. Since it is underground, I try not to get too nutty with the flags, both because I had to install them in frozen ground and I also want to tread lightly in this fairly excercise-averse city of mine - don't need Johnny Law sweating me. I guess I didn't put in enough flags and this lead to a few missed turns and general confusion for the first few laps.
Of the 5 people that raced, I think maybe one has raced CX before. There were two mountain bikes, the rest cross bikes. Gaps were formed early, with the frozen ground issuing out a few dropped chains and generally rough rides from too much tire pressure (reference previous comments on no CX racing experience). In the end, Battin had enough of a gap to bust a cross-up out on a small rise.

Gotta love throwing caution into the wind on your Bontrager XXX Lite carbon tubies!

Alas, a good time was had by all and the course was no worse for the wear. Perhaps with a different date and a bit of promotion I can get a few more to show up. Perhaps I need to get UCI status.
Yeah, that's it!


the ATM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Packing Peanuts

Apparently, the water soluble packing peanuts are no good and a new edible packing peanut must be used.

OK, fine.

Perhaps I'll call them secret training aids!

This was a good day for bike stuff. My everything-else-but-bike order came in, and I have to say I'm quite happy with my selection. I'll hold off on pics to keep you coming back, but I will say that one of the Ringle UFO hoops I got tares out at a paltry 333g, and the other is a mere 344g. 'Tro in a set of DT Swiss 240s paired with DT SuperComp spokes and you'll be soon be looking at a set of 1400g wheels.
Lest I forget, I'll also share the goodness contained in the box that came with packing peanuts, er, cookies.

I also got my new training tires, Specialized Armadillo Elite 25c. I think a bit better tread than the Paves, simply because the Pave was smooth down the center (and they're not really designed for training) but they will not likely be as supple. Again, not really comparing apples to apples. Anyhoo, all I need is a bike and some time to build 'er up. I have a sneaking feeling that whatever day I get my bike, I will be up into the wee hours of the morning building it up.

This is my sickness.

-the ATM

Monday, January 21, 2008

January is...

'Clean Your Computer' month, or so says the liquor store sign on the way to my house. WTF?? Can't say I've ever heard of that one before. I think we need to be a bit more judicious with our month designations, given we only have 12. Why not something worthy, like 'Take a Shower' month?

All that being said, I think February should be referred to as 'Let's All Recognize Andy for the Cool Dude That He Is' month. Better still 'Give Andy a Dollar' month. Honestly, I'll hear what you have to say about me but I'll bet you the dollar you owe me in February that your opinion of me is not going to make or break my spirit.
Well, unless you're my mom. Or maybe Don.

In related news, is Floyd not just in the biggest 'I just don't give a flying rat's ass what happens from here' mood? Bold, and pretty spot on. Frankly, his stage 17 performance to Morzinne was not THAT unimaginable. It was more the hugely arrogant faux pas on the part of the entire peleton that netted Floyd the W.
Anyhoo, I don't really want to start that debate. Just figured it was cool. Michael Ball, wheel designer extraordinaire comments notwithstanding.

-the ATM

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I decided to get the book recommended by Belgium Knee Warmers, "Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Throught Hell". I got it a few days ago but really didn't have time to start reading it until this am, knowing my MO for reading a good book - I just can't put it down (When I was reading "The DaVinci Code" I got to the last 100 pages at about 1a, and finished around 3, with a 6a departure from Canadia on business.)
Anyhoo, After only the Preface, I needed more so I pressed on. I got about halfway through the first chapter and wanted to continue but my coffee was done and I had lots of errands to run. After only about 15 pages, I was already imagining myself on the cobbles, thinking of what wheels I would run, and knowing they would be booted up with a set of Vittoria Pave' 24s. I even wondered if my handbuilt (by me, naturally) training wheels would stand up to the pounding. Aside from the romance of riding the parcours, I really do want to make a trip to ride some of the hallowed cobbles. Maybe I can add it to my AT LEAST two week trip to Italy and climb to the Madonna di Ghisallo...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Light my fire

So after finally recovering from destroying my legs testing 1RM (460lb in the leg press, BTW), I apparently decided it would be a good idea to shred them once again on my favorite trail.
If you've never ridden Grandview, picture 3 steep climbs in rapid succession with tree roots and limbs strewn about (or aboot if you're Canadian). Throw in lots o' leaves that are both wet and covering some mud and you get the idea. I've ridden this trail plenty of times, so I knew to expect this.
The whole reason I was on the ride was because Matt Battin was planning on riding on the road around Grandview, but I talked him into riding the trail instead.
Silly me.
On the way out, we were talking and he lamented that he wasn't riding enough such that when he rode, he was going to go hard if he felt good.
I took a little solace that I was rockin my Rush with a triple, so having a 22 would save me.
In a word, no.
I must have about one link too many on the chain because pretty much any gear while using the granny was skipping like a worn out cassette, but fine in my 32t. As a result I was lighting my thighs on fire when climbing. Throw in some really stupid mistakes and I was getting pretty pissed about the situation.
The back half of the trail, while still difficult, does not offer the gradient challenges of the front half. I started to feel and ride better as a result. Once we jumped back on the road, we settled into a good rhythm that was not too hard, and we ended up with a 2:23h ride.
Job done.

In other news, I got my new fork. Hot damn, German engineering. They may have some funky advertising:
This does not make me want to buy a Magura brake product


but they make a fork that's 1470g of uncut steer tube goodness. Just under 3-1/4 lbs, it should be quite plush. It's no Carbon Lefty SL (2.8 lbs), but it should be damn near as stiff. Plus, it's white. So I've got that going for me. All I need now is a super sweet carbon bike. Be on the look out for pics of that in the coming weeks!

the ATM

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I love weights

Which is to say I hate weights. I recognize their benefits but crap I hate working out in the gym. That goes double for the first pains from lifting and testing 1 rep maxes.

I also hate flats, especially when they happen in the last 20 minutes of a ride. I flatted yesterday and in the course of finding the source, decided my awesome Vittoria Pave' tires need to be put to pasture. I picked out 3 pieces of glass out of the casing and found like 3 other cuts in said casing. Eh well, I guess a full year of training on them, something like 3000+ miles isn't too bad, especially since many of those miles were on some less than spectacular road surfaces with lots o' sand and gravel.

Pretty lame, but no pics today.

-the ATM

Thursday, January 10, 2008


As I get ever so close to the completion of my Winter project, I figured it was a good time to bust out a pic of the first piece of art I hung on the wall post-paint.

Yep, that's my old bike still in 3D. Once I got my new Cannondale SystemSix last January, I rode it exclusively until maybe April. I rode the old CAAD 5 to work one day and within a mile was convinced the frame was cracked with all the noises the bike was making. After inspecting all the welds and getting a clean bill of health, I realized it was just 6 years older in design than my Sys6. Holy shit was 6 years of evolution can do.
After that, I didn't really want to ride the old bike after that. Just couldn't bring myself to do it. Since the top tube was dented from my dog crash I couldn't sell it, either. So it hung from its hook in the garage for the rest of the summer until I needed the shifters for cross season, then it started getting cannibalized until I fully decommissioned it.
I wanted to show it some respect and do something special with it instead of just throw it in the closet. It was, afterall, my first road bike and heavily contributed to my cycling passion. I just felt too connected to it to hide it or get rid of it. My buddy Matt suggested mounting it to the wall and framing it in with some decorative molding. Wanting to go for a bit more simple, I decided to just mount it on the wall. We played around with locations and both liked the above location; Prominent yet doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.
I figured I'd get some retro cycling posters to frame and hang on the wall around the bike. It even loosely ties into my previous art theme of either pictures or engineering drawings of engineering structures, like the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (St Louis Arch for those not so learned), bridges and of course the Eiffel Tower. Even if it doesn't fit, it stays. It's too much like an old friend. In fact, it is an old friend.

Hi old friend.

-the ATM

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Andy:1, Car: 0

I decided to get in a BCD (Butt Crack o' Dawn, that is) ride today to avoid the rain that was sure to come. I rolled out from the crib about 6:40a and spun out to the North side of town. I was rolling with a nice tailwind at about 25 mph then realized the Mustang that I thought saw me, didn't. And I was blasting my Light & Motion Vega at full power! As per Standard Operating Procedure for impending doom, things slowed down. I was thinking of ways to minimize the damage; you know, 'do I aim for the hood or shoot for the other side of the car?' that kind of stuff. All the while, I'm still trying to evasively maneuver to avoid the car altogether. At this point my rear tire was locked up and I was sliding a bit sideways.
All said and done, I was able to use my mui excellente' bike skills to not get really messed up, and avoided bike and body damage altogether. I distinctly recall seeing around 6 inches between my foot and the bumper. Yikes. Thinking back, the car surely realized they screwed up, but I still felt it necessary to drop a few F bombs and other salient words. At least I felt better about it.

On the MTB front, I ordered my new fork for the year, in white, of course:

That's all for now-

the ATM

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sorry for partyin'

I guess I'm finally smart enough to figure out how to stream audio... so the link above is the audio I tried to post previously.

Anyhoo, I hooked up with the B'ton crew for a New Year's Eve ride. We planned on rolling out at 10, but a few issues had us rolling out closer to 11. All told, I had about 5:15 ride time, with a non-normalized average power of 150W. Pretty chill. It was one of those rides that just couldn't have gotten any better, save for one flat and a broken chain.

Temps in the 40s, sun, great crew, you name it. Plus we ate mexican afterwards. Woot woot!

After that, we went back to their pad to start the NYE festivities. While I was letting the Mexican settle, I found myself rebuilding Ryan's Record hub that had some crunchy noises going on and limited freewheeling capabilities. As his personal mechanic, I felt obligated. Anyway, I kept it reasonable on the booze front, as evidenced by my feeling fine when I woke up.
I haven't had college-party fun since being fresh out of college. I forgot how much fun can be had. Unanimous vote of NYE All Star went to Mike for ghost riding his Little 5 bike and for streaking around the block to get out of pounding another beer.
There was a casualty from the shindig, in my phone. Towards the end of the night, my phone was mistaken for Mike's and got thrown (and dropped) across the room.

If I have to donate a backup phone to the Good Times Gods, so be it!