Purchase: Speedplay X/2 clipless pedals

The big crash of 2011 put me back to square one on the Gios. I’ve had the Frame and dropouts straightened (at Defiance Bicycles), the RD rebuilt (at Tacoma Bike), and my good friend Joe, who happens to work at Performance Bikes, is ordering rims/spokes for the wheelset.

Making sure the Gios’s ready to ride I was going over the build in my mind and I had forgotten the pedals. The Ultegra cleats were toast ($20 at least) and one pedal was well scraped. Time to get new ones. I explored a couple of options, first looking at Crank Brothers Eggbeaters and then Speedplays. My old neighbour Tim rode both on different bikes. I decided on the Speedplays after reading about the need for SPD shoes on the Crank Brothers. Did some shopping around and found a guy selling a pair of used X/2 in Seattle. How convenient, family day-trip to Seattle the next day! The X/2 are the mid-level steel spindle pedals and lighter then the Cromoly model.

Speedplay X cleats on Sidi Genius 5
The instructions that came with the (new) cleats were fairly straightforward, with waaayy too much to read. I had to skim to find the important parts and then follow those instructions. I quickly found the right shims and screws for my Sidi Genius 5 shoes and they were installed in a jiffy. There was no confusion on installing the pedals on the test Battaglin; they were well labeled. Once I was sure that the old cranks didn’t strip the threads on the old Dura Ace pedals they were on and I was outside testing them.

Speedplay X/2 installed on Battaglin
Clipping in for the first time on any clipless pedal is always strange. It took one try to feel comfortable.  Clipping in is easier since there is no need to find the front of the pedal, you position and push down. Riding, my right foot felt comfortable, but my left heel was all over the place, shifting side by side as I was riding. They call this float and I was NOT used to it. My previous Ultegra, and before that Look, pedals had very little float and I liked it. I didn’t like this so I jumped on Speedplay’s support pages and looked for adjustment instructions. Oh…

The X Series Pedal System is for you if you are a:

– Rider who prefers a maximum float range

Bugger! But it says it can take up to 2 weeks to get adjusted. I commuted to work in them today and it felt good to get out of the clips and into some real pedals again! The float was there all the way to work, but on the way home I started to adjust and it felt normal. It can be hard to tell when you’ve properly unclipped. There’s no feedback from the pedal or cleat so I’ve found that I’m overcompensating in my heel-twist. It is easy to unclick so it’s not been a concern.

Recommendation? Hard to say yet. The pedal is about 50g lighter than the Dura Ace Clip and 100g lighter then the Ultegra pedal so there is a small weight gain. Easier to clip in then the traditional Look style. Pedalling feels the same apart from the float. Clipping out will take time. The cleats are metal now so I’m a little less sure-footed when walking through the mall. I’m happy with my purchase though and look forward to getting more time riding.

Longest Ride Ever

Ride Route 5/19/11

This was my longest ride ever! I know, 30 miles isn’t that far. When I was riding back in Wisconsin I couldn’t ever seem to manage to ride longer then 27 miles. That’s just how it always ended up. Today I tried to go 40, but at 15 miles in my legs started to go. They still had strength, but I must have tweaked something in my right leg as it never quite felt right.

I took the Scott Pierson Trail along Highway 16. Not a pleasant ride. You are literally next to the Highway, it’s noisy, and there’s a fair amount of debris (glass, pebbles etc) on the path. It’s also super-underused so you have the whole trail to yourself. It can be a bit of a navigation to stay on it too. The signposts aren’t very clean. After I got over the bridge I joined the Cushman Trail (again after a bit of searching around.) I was just commenting to a couple of gents at the recent Build a Better Bike Tacoma Meet-up that I missed riding in the country. It was so easy in Madison. Ten minutes of riding and I’m in the fields. I haven’t really been able to experience that here. Cushman trail was the closest that I have found. Similar to the Scott Pierson Trail it follows HWY 16, but there is some distance between the roads. It had some really great climbing hills and the surface was really smooth.

Oh, and I almost forgot, this was one of my fastest rides too. I averaged 16.17 MPH over the 30 miles. I’ll be moving things over to kph soon, so I’ll just say that it was just over 26 kph.

Ride: Point Defiance Loop again

Rest time

I rode the the Point Defiance loop this morning. Almost the same route as last time with the main difference was the uphill roads into Hilltop. Last week I rode up what must be the steepest hill in Tacoma and it was so hard I couldn’t even drop my hands to shift to an easier gear. Evidently I’m a glutton for punishment. On the way back I decided it might be fun to climb on cobblestones. It’s a party on the way down, but on the way up it’s hell! I never walked though!

The Gios rode well. I switched out the front wheel to see if that resolved the fork-shudder and it made a huge difference. But, now it barely brakes at all! It certainly didn’t feel as light as the first few rides I had with it, but it’s still a joy to ride. I’ll look to put the longer stem on it soon. Another take-away is that I need a cassette with larger cogs. This is definitely set up for Florida riding!

After the ride, my legs feel fine, I could go further and harder with no issues, it’s my neck, shoulders and back that are sore. Because of leaning into the drops I think I’m putting my upper body’s weight onto my shoulders and it’s starting to ache there. I’ve tried to find different combinations of internal tension to support myself with my abdominals, but I think my core is just too weak. I’m not sure where to “hold” myself to prevent my back from getting too sore. Any suggestions? I’ve only really been riding a traditional rode style for the last year and a half, and not regularly enough to really get a breakthrough.

Map of ride

First Ride

The Battaglin at the end of the ride

After a few crazy months of searching for a house, moving into said house and dealing with winter, I finally got out for a ride. A short 17 miler along the water-front to Point Defiance and back. Started off well, I rode downhill, through downtown and got some speed up, quickly realising how much I had missed this. Last summer I was riding weekly around the lakes and in the countryside of Madison, WI and felt in very different shape.

Riding for pleasure is so different to commuting. Losing the backpack and not having a time crunch makes all the difference in the world! The straight along Rustin Way was a blast: I went as fast as I could into the wind (which is odd, because I’m pretty sure I rode into the wind on the way back too!). The climb up into Rustin proper was easier then I ever expected; my daily commute involves 2 decent hills, and this one was a pinch! As I started the loop around 5-Mile Drive in Point Defiance I caught up to a rider in his 50s on a Carbon Trek. He seemed to be struggling so I started conversation. He’d been really sick and had to quit work to get better. He started telling me about an expensive wind-breaker that he’d been holding out for, but finally decided to buy. Guess who makes it? Yup, Rapha! I replied by telling him that $200 is a lot in bike-parts. Not a concern for him – after all he has a few Treks with Dura-Ace & Record (bastard!). It was fun actually riding with someone for a change, but I had to drop him when he took a break for the restroom.

On the ride back I decided to tackle what is probably Tacoma’s steepest hill! It was so steep I couldn’t stop climbing to change down to my bottom gear – curse these downtube shifters! I made it home intact and checked my stats – an average of 16mph which is a notch higher then what I would regularly get in Wisconsin. And this is all on the heavier Battaglin. Can’t wait until I get the fork-shudder taken care of on the Gios!

Ride Map - 5/6/11
Ignore the first 4 miles – this was from a ride with Olivier a few weeks back.

For the full map with mile splits see: Ride Map

Rouleur Magazine

Rouleur Magazine 23

I’ve been following another online/print magazine Embrocation Magazine for a few months now and they always have something interesting and insightful to say about racing bikes and the road-racing scene. Recently they highlighted a bi-monthly magazine Rouleur which looks more like serious coffee table material then a magazine. It was the “Inside Campagnolo” article that really caught my attention. Campagnolo are like the Ferrari of the Cycling world: not necessarily always the best, but ultimately you want their gear. They have an attention to detail, design and presentation that is almost unmatched (Paul Components are one the engineering focused companies that almost matches this spirit).

EVERY issue of Rouleur is something special – each edition is an essential piece for the avid bicycle collector or print media enthusiast.

Embrocation Magazing

I was surprised while reading the magazine that there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of focus on the bikes. The Campy (Campagnolo) article focused on Valentino Campagnolo, Heir and current CEO. The article on NAHBC (North American Hand-built Bicycle Conference) in Austin this winter featured (excellent) portraits of frame-builders from the conference. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. I’m drawn to aesthetics and I celebrate the bike and its form, rather then the act of riding itself. I’m currently two-thirds through and have enjoyed every second of reading it and now, considering my overall experience, the title explains everything. Rouleur means rider in French. This magazine is about the people who ride and love riding and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Find it here: http://www.rouleur.cc/issue-23 or http://www.embrocationmagazine.com/store/rouleur-23