2012 Cross Preseason: Rhonde Ohop

After the unusual Midsummer’s Cross race, my Cross preseason starts tomorrow at Rhonde Ohop. The Ronde is a kermesse style race with a mixture of pavement and dirt. It’s near Eatonville, WA, where we found bike culture too, earlier this year.

I’m swapping bikes from road to cross when we hit the dirt with the 11 Redline Conquest. The new 12 bikes are being shipped and built now and should debut at Starcrossed. More on those later and CrossVegas too.

Early Schedule

Suffer Faces

USGP Portland: More Cowbell

More cowbell

USGP Portland: The Most Cowbell

No, we want the MOST cowbell

When the Season is full on with the cow bells clanking, guts wrenching, and snot flying, follow Suffer Faces. That’s where we’ll feature beginners, masters, women, and the working people of the Sport.

Midsummer Nights's Cross Race 26

Each run up his face twisted more

We’re showing their suffering faces.

Keanu Reeves Winning a Bike Race!

You’ve really got to want it is right! This American Flyers-inspired commercial features a young Keanu getting coached by his dad and winning a bike race. Then rewarding himself with a refreshing Coke.

Keanu does Coke after cycling. I don’t remember seeing this. Do you? Would’ve been totally awesome if he was a Surfer, Cutter, Dude bike racer and said, “bro” after winning.

Working on Campagnolo Power Torque cranks

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

Once upon a time, I was an Italia-phile… I had an Italian bike with Italian saddle (Selle San Marco), Italian pedals (Diadora), Italian shoes (of course), a Northern Italian/Romanian girlfriend (gorgeous), and I had cycling components from one of the most revered names in the industry, Campagnolo. I could go on and on about the history and the mystique of the company founded by Tullio Campagnolo, but soooooo many others have already done it……. and I’m tired of drinking KoolAid.

I’m going to come right out and say that this is a ridiculous design. Essentially, Campagnolo tried to keep the aesthetics and bearings of their UltraTorque cranks (Record, SR, Centaur, etc) while ditching the UltraTorque’s central Hirth joint connection. The only plausible reason would be to lower the cost. On the other hand, using the same bearings and similar seals as the more expensive cranks is probably the worst decision, as the UltraTorue cranksets are prone to short bearing life. Much like the UltraTorque cranks, the PowerTorque cranks use a spring washer to preload the bearings, though the PowerTorque cranks use a much more substantial spring. Though the bearings seem to be identical to the more expensive cranks, they mount differently. UT cranks have a bearing press fit onto each half of the spindle between the Hirth joint and the crankarm. For both PT and UT cranks, a C-clip catches the drive side bearing into the cup, but the PT nondrive bearing is pressed into the cup instead of onto the spindle. Thus PT and UT bottom brackets are not interchangeable.

The left crankarm fits onto the splined spindle with a large fixing bolt. How large? It takes a 12mm allen wrench…..cause that’s convenient (for those of you who don’t touch bike tools, this statement is sarcasm). Oh, but the real fun is trying to remove the crankarm. That’s because the bolt is not self-extracting. Since the PT arm mimics the UT arm, there just isn’t enough room to contain a self-extractor like on SRAM road cranks. Instead, the Campagnolo instructs you to use their PowerTorque tool kit and a gear puller. I’m a bike mechanic, and I didn’t even know what a gear puller is….that’s because it’s a fucking automotive tool. And the so-called “tool kit” consists of a plug to insert into the end of the bb spindle (so to give the gear puller something to push against) and a thin cardboard pad so you don’t scratch your precious cranks where the gear puller grabs onto the back side of the arm. Except that the thin pad is still thick enough to prevent the claw of the gear puller to fit between the arm and cup. In fact, I had to sculpt/grind the gear puller to fit even without the pad.

It’s ironic that in the good ol’ days, Campagnolo used to make THE professional bicycle tool kit and now they make tools out of cardboard and crankarms that make cotter pins look sophisticated. The new Athena PT crankset is shiny silver alloy, which means that unsuspecting consumers will buy it because it looks retro compared to all the carbon cranks currently on the market. I would say that is a mistake on their part.

Campagnolo PowerTorque tool kit

Above is the so-called “tool kit” sold by Campagnolo for the PowerTorque cranks. Expensive and almost useless. I modified the plug with a central hole to catch the driver on the gear puller, prevent the puller from sliding off as I tensioned it.

A Cruiser on Beach Drive

Was out for an early evening ride on Beach Drive to demo a Cross bike. Was just about to go hard with some intervals and stopped to take this photo of a woman on a cruiser.


Best part is she’d never heard of Cycle Chic, Velocouture or Bike Fashion. She just liked to ride her Townie.

Jagwire DIY Racer cables/housing kit

Jagwire Racer cable & housing set

Jagwire “Racer” DIY cable/housing kit (~$45) offers consumers an improvement for shift/brake performance as well as aesthetic tweaks to their machines. The Racer kit is targeted to roadies, contains cables and housing that fit both SRAM and Shimano systems. The Racer kits have a lot of technical features including teflon-coated cables, “L3” lined housing, sealed ferrules. The brake housing is probably the most special, since it consists of coaxial reinforcing wires rather than spiral-wound flat ribbon like typical brake housing. Coaxial reinforcement is standard nowadays for indexed shift housing, as the coaxial housing compresses less than spiral-wound, but it is generally unsuited for brake cables because the higher loads of brakes threaten to burst the coaxial wires outward with the housing collapsing like an accordion, resulting in dangerous lack of braking. Jagwire defeats this problem binding together the coaxial reinforcement wires with a sheath of woven Kevlar.

Techincally, there is no such thing as “compressionless” housing (as Jagwire calls it), but this stuff is quite stout. Under full pressure, the Racer brake housing feels as stiff as Nokon segmented housing. However, Nokon housing has the advantage of being very flexible in the sense that the housing can easily follow tight radius housing runs. The Jagwire compressionless housing is unyielding to the point of affecting brake caliper return, especially on a small bike like mine with short housing runs and tight bends. A minor issue is that the housing is difficult to cut unless you have really good housing cutters. A home mechanic using straight-edge dikes (not dykes…that’s something different) will probably just mangle the job.

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