Wednesday, 30 April 2014

On being well warned that there will be wear: gearing up for the new season.

The weekend before last looked a lot like this down in Richmond as I chased the guys on the Vet Ride:

Unbeknownst to me, they were actually all behind me at that very moment, but that sure didn't last. Once I did finally hook up with the group,  I only just managed to hang on for twenty minutes or so before I was back to riding lone-wolf-ish. And then once again my road ahead looked just like that. 

I'm not nearly as fast as I like to pretend. 

And evidently I have a very small brain. 

Worse yet, I am naive. 

Someone once said to me "Hey!  Did you know that the word naive isn't in the Oxford English Dictionary?" Believing him, I replied "Wow.  Really?"  Sigh.  I bought in to the slogan Campagnolo wears in, while Shimano wears out, too.  I believed that Campagnolo stands behind it's products no matter what, but don't worry. I learned the error of my ways on that count last year, when my derailleur exploded and took out a few very expensive spokes.

It was ugly.  I cried like a baby.  In public.

Why why why?!

You see? It was in the middle of the cluster when it just snapped!  Good thing I wasn't travelling woo hoo speed when it happened. Last year, that bike didn't have anywhere near the sort of mileage on it that it does now, and still. It was maintained, too, that derailleur. I had been in the shop with it only a few days before, having it adjusted, and even so it went boom. I was forced to swallow the cost.  It wasn't pretty.  Well, part of it was still pretty, at least for the moment. Look at how shiny the aluminum on those rims is! Nothing like they look now...  :S

Mmm Vittoria Corsa... forget the scored rims - those wheels will still go fast!
Fast forward a few months and several thousand kilometers, and there I was on the Vet ride last Sunday when the bottom bracket started making a racket the likes of which I've never ever heard before.  It was a crazy squeaking which bordered on a groan, accompanied by an intermittant tick, as if something was loose in there.  It got louder and worse the harder I pushed the bike, and it was consistent with the down stroke on my left pedal.  THAT's what told me that it was my bottom bracket, cause I have had to have it tightened and sealed with lock tight a few times already this winter.

I had just ordered a new drive train, minus the small ring, cause the big ring was looking pretty worn.

 I had taken the bike in for new cables and brake pads, and a general spring tune-up but they said I definitely needed a whole new drive chain.  And the sound of the bottom bracket really worried me, especially since I am never a stranger to catastrophic failure.  I am notoriously hard on things. My last name is Guerin, and it might come as no surprise to you that one wit who knows me well has determined that all things mechanical in my life ought to have a Guerin-tee.  

So it's not surprising, is it, that the inside of the crank looks like this. 
And again you'll find me wondering

Or more precicely it leaves me wondering how how how it happened.  These teeth seem to interlock with the teeth from the opposing crank, and yet there is absolutely no corresponding damage on the other side.

The bearings are hardly worn at all, and they should be the first thing to go!  They're fine.  You'd think that if the cranks were loose enough to cause wear and damage that the rest of the teeth would show evidence of the wear, but de nada.  It's very strange.  A mystery.

Sure Snobberdood might mock me, but that's just what he does. The crank is sort of the heart of the bike, and this one leaves me completely baffled. Yep.  It's a mystery.

On the bright side, it gave me a chance to change things up a bit.  I was thinking of getting a  big ring with more teeth, but you know me. I am so dense that hills hurt. Rob at my favourite LBS warned that I really should stick with a compact groupset, so I ordered another 50/34 crank, and a new cluster, too.  Then I took the old gear out for one more spin...

...down south to White Rock to see some of my favourite people, and to make this year's first contact with one of my favourite decks.  Mikeweb called this ride a border skirmish, cause that's Blaine, WA you see over across the drink there.

It was a gorgeous ride. 

I thought I was filming with the GoPro the whole way there, and I was stoked because we saw so many things I wanted  to share with you. The camera was on, the battery draining, but it wasn't filming. I saw the red light when I turned it on, but I didn't bother to check what was happening till we hit water in White Rock. We rode south through Vancouver along the Cypress bike route, then across the Canada Line bridge (my favourite) before we headed east along River Rd (as pictured at the top of the post) to the Alex Fraser bridge.  (That bit was brutal for a girl whose body has its own opinion about heights, btw, but let's not talk about that today, mmmkay?

We took the new Perimeter Rd (hwy 17) from the bridge west-ish to just past where it crosses the 99. I was excited about riding next to Burns Bog dosn there in Delta. It's a good stretch for a hard ride, and I really gave it all I had.  Unfortunately, the segment didn't match, because the dimwit who laid it down meandered all over the place!

I tried to obey all of the posted signage, but damned.  There sure were a lot of them!

From the 99 we headed east on the Ladner Trunk Rd, which parallels the 99.  I wish I had a photo of what we saw along here.  We were riding through farmland and on our left saw a number of birds on the ground all around.  This is one of the best places anywhere around for birding if you're any kind of fan of raptors, because Vancouver's dump is nestled in burns bog up there, in that crook of land between the Perimiter Rd and Hwy 99.  You'll find all SORTS of birds round there, for all sorts of good reasons.  This field was a bit wetish and lots of birds were mulling about.  As they do.  And we stopped briefly to point the GoPro at these birds because at first a few of them looked like massive turkeys or something amongst the lot, but they were eagles, just hanging around in a field looking massive.  They were gorgeous.  I wish I could share them with you.


On the way back we took a shortcut across the delta and shaved a solid ten kilometers off our journey. Better yet, it wasn't a road.  It was a hardpack gravel trail, which means we didn't have to deal with any traffic whatsoever for that leg of the journey, and it was significant.  I loved it.  It looked like that photo up there much of the way through.  And it looked like this, too:

It was a great way to say goodbye to my drive train. I had originally ordered a more compact cluster, in the hopes that I'd have more high end on a descent, but I lost out on my best hill climbing ability with that cluster, so I went back to the original 12/25, only we switched out the smallest two bits so that they're 11 and 12 instead of 12 and 13.  This way I have a little more top end, and that makes me happy, but I can still make it up those hills behind Jericho beach.  Having the ability to customise my cluster definitely made me love those Campy parts all over again.  I am trying to work on my spinning, cause I'm a masher by nature, so with any luck I will wear this set of rings out more evenly.  If I am still using the big ring more than the small one as the season progresses, and if I still need more top end, I might just switch the 50 out for a 52.  We'll see.

Oh ho!  And it looks like my first race will be on the island in a week and a bit. Till then, here's to red nipples and pretty pussies!

Ride on! 


  1. As I Campy fan myself I'm glad to see you didn't lose the lurve. It looks like you had a lot of wear and tear on those parts, even reluctant upgrades are necessary to us Campy-philes eventually. Re: the drafting a fast group - keep at it and then one day you will suddenly find you didn't get dropped. It's a huge thing. Good luck with the upcoming race. I think after all this adventure you deserve some kind of reward.
    Ciao bella donna!

    1. Thank you!! XX

      I have strength and stamina, but need to work on the ability dig deep and sprint again and again. This week I've been doing intervals so that one day soon maybe I'll be able to stick it out... :D

    2. Glad to see you are sticking with Campy! I am a Campy fan myself. Looks like you are pushing a compact 50/34 in the front and 13/29 in the rear. If so, this is the same gearing I use for the hills in N. Calif. I swapped out the 13 gear for a 12 on the rear to provide a bit more speed on the flats. You could even go to an 11 that means a pretty big jump in gear shifts.

      Keep up the intervals.........they are key for success!

    3. Thank you! Yes, the intervals are helping!

      I did switch the smallest two out for an eleven and a twelve, because I wanted more top end without losing my hill climbing gears. I checked again, though and the biggest ring in my cluster definitely has a little 25 stamped into it. I saw the coolest cluster the other day, with a few very large rings and a few very small ones, and very little in the middle. It had a way bigger spread than mine, that's for sure.

    4. Yea, there is a lot of cool stuff to choose from. For me, the terrain dictates the gearing and I need a lot of spread in the rear for the kind of riding I do (although it’s all good). My typical ride includes a lot of intense ups and downs, with sustained climbs and long curvy descents, so the cassette you described would be ideal. For flatter rides, I prefer a narrow spread in order find that perfect cadence, rhythm, and speed combination. I like riding with the “A” team so I look for any possible advantage……………well, almost any.

  2. You want a real border skirmish, ride down Zero Avenue. Gaze over the ditch that is our undefended border. Being along the border, the only cross streets are T intersections. If you time your ride so you turn around at noon, you can have a headwind in both directions. :-/

    1. Yes! It's funny, isn't it? When I was growing up we were taught that ours is the longest undefended border in the world. I think I have some video somewhere of the day I took the little guy across the line at Peace Arch on a trail bike in 2010...

  3. Pretty pussy indeed!

    The inside of your crank looks like it got beat on with a hammer. I have found some interesting things inside the BBs of bikes myself...

    Anyway - just make sure those brake levers are at 4:00

    1. LOL!! Right?!

      I will never understand HOW it managed to look like someone beat on it with a hammer, though...

  4. Loctite will not last unless ALLLLLLLLLL of the grease and debris are cleaned thoroughly from the mating threads. Mating. Heehee.

    1. Huh. They just tightened it up the first time without using locktite, but I think the damage was already done by then, because the noise was specific to the left crank downstroke all the way through. When they did use it, they did clean it out for sure, and then they even made me leave my bike overnight to set. But those threads didn't stand a chance. Thing is, HOW did that much damage happen to one crank and not the other? Just like the thing with the exploding derailleur, I am left dazed, baffled and confused.

      And yet again I can't help but shrug and draw the conclusion that I am hard on things.

  5. Shimano 9 Speed for me. It handles my bigness with all the extra commuter weight in the nasty streets of New York with bare minimum maintenance. I think 9 speed has a more "traditional" (retrogrouchy) look than the reall modern stuff. I beat the crap out of it regularly. Sorry to see that expensive jumble of metal spaghetti! Great pix as always!


    1. Thank you!

      Yep. I'm going to need a nine speed retrogrouchmobile for those winter miles next year for sure...

  6. Great post. Thanks for writing it. I don't know where people find the time to do it but am pleased you do.
    I'm also a masher by nature trying to spin more. It took me a while to work out that sign and what you were doing.. very clever and very funny.
    We're coming into our cold, wet, miserable season here so I'll be reading plenty of blogs like yours to keep me motivated to get out there and mash it up with the dimwits.