Friday, April 10, 2015

Speedplay SYZR Pedals Have Arrived!

I picked up 2 pairs of Speedplay SYZR pedals last night from my sponsor shop, The Wheel Cyclery.  Although the Speedplay X series pedals are my favorite road pedals, I was never a huge fan of the Speedplay Frog pedals, just because of there limitations in cyclocross.  Speedplay first presented a pedal they were developing as a viable MTB/Cyclocross pedal, way back in 2008. So, I have been patiently waiting for it to come to production.  I think this is the 3rd iteration and they look to have hit the mark with the SYZR!   Here are my initial findings and will post a full review, once I have put them through the paces.

  1. The design and finish are on par with everything Speedplay produces, so that is a good thing.
  2. The cleats are complex in design and since the float is built in them, I will be curious to see how they function when gunked up in a muddy cross race.
  3. Mounting the cleats is straight forward, but you need to alternate the tightening of the screws as you are threading them in.  Then torque them to 5nm.
  4. Adjusting the float is easy and even when adjusted out to the full 10 degrees, my shoes did not hit my crankarms.
  5. The tension adjustment on the pedals is easy, but as with any, if you tighten the release you are also tightening the engagement.
  6. To engage the pedals, it is a toe in first engagement.  You can't just step down on them.
  7. The wings on the front of the cleats do a good job "guiding" your foot into the pedal.
  8. The float is not as "icy" feeling as the X2 or Frogs, as it offers a little more resistance.  There is a shim included that you can install to free up the float friction.  I will probably not use it, though.
  9. Engagement and disengagement of the pedals is more like a Shimano pedal than an Egg Beater, which to me is a good thing.
  10. The pedal body has a very open design and should shed mud quite well.
  11. There is a little more maintenance involved than some people might want, as Speedplay recommends lubing the cleat with a PTFE lube every 2 rides or after every wet/muddy ride.
  12. I wonder how much the replacement cleats will be and how often they will need replaced?  Being steel, they should last similar to a Shimano and not wear as quickly as the Crank Bros brass cleats do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cyclocross is Knocking!

Cyclocross is just around the corner............

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wintery Mix #2

Cross racing in February........apparently so!!  I raced the CAT3’s at the Wintery Mix #2. The starting line was a long wide paved straight away that gave plenty of room for the field to jockey for position before hitting the dirt. This was good since they decided to start the 1/2 field at the same time as the CAT3’s.  I hung in with the field for the first ½ to ¾ of a lap, then the 1/2 field started to open up a gap (need to get a little faster before I ever think about upgrading). I felt OK for most of the race, but regretted doing an LT test the day before, as I think if maybe I had been well rested that I might have possibly made the podium.  I had one mishap during the race, where I hit one of the dips a little hard while seated way back on my saddle and knocked the nose pointing almost straight up.  I rode as best I could on the saddle and grabbed my pit bike to finish out the race with 2 to go (I will be switching to a 2 bolt post before next season).  I ended up 6th for the day and I am happy with the result.
I actually enjoyed the course, although the softer areas were tough to power your way through, as it was that thick hard, wheel grabbing mud.  The section with “the ditch” was a blast.  The mud was a little thinner and I was able to ride it both directions, although some decided to dismount and run it.  My props to Mark Thomas and crew with the course (I have to admit I had been talking the course down all week, due to how rough I had heard it was at previous races, but a little rain did wonders). I look forward to training hard over the Summer and making a run for the podium next Fall! 

I want to thank Roger Harrison again for giving me a jump start.  I had left my lights on and my battery was dead after my race.  Roger is a truly selfless person and has been an important part Kansas City bike racing for years. Thanks for all you do Roger! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missouri State Cyclocross Championships

I made a trip with the Locke boys down to the Missouri State Cyclocross Championships in Jefferson City this past weekend.  We went down on Saturday and stayed overnight for the Sunday race.  This was by far my favorite venue of the year.  It had a little bit of everything, except sand (not a complaint, for sure).  The course had a lot of climbing, which is good for me since I lost 40 pounds this year.  It rained enough the night before to make the course soft, but not too muddy.  I lined up with the Master’s 40-44 for my shot at a State Championship jersey.  I got a pretty good start and was in the mix for a while, but I had made the mistake of switching wheelsets just before the start.  I decided to go with my Bontrager XXX carbons with Vittoria EVO XM tires, because they were lighter than my 50mm carbon tubulars that have Tufo Cubus tires mounted to them.  Since the mud was not deep anywhere, I figured I wouldn’t need the deeper rims and went with the lighter option.  Unfortunately, I could not climb the big steep hill and had to dismount on it every lap.  I was riding it fine with the Tufo Cubus tires, but the Vittoria’s just couldn’t grab enough traction to get me to the top.  I raced a good race with only one mishap, where I lost traction up the big hill and could not get unclipped in time and fell over.  The impact knocked my saddle sideways and I had to pound it back straight, so lost some time.  Other than that, I rode within my limits and ended up 9th.  Chris crashed out of his race, with a broken derailleur.  Christopher had a hard fought battle, but ended up 2nd to take home the Silver medal in the Junior’s race.  Overall a great weekend of racing!!  I look forward to next year’s State Championship in St. Louis.      

Monday, October 29, 2012

Boss Cross #3

I decided to go out and try my luck in the CAT3’s at Boss Cross #3.  I first have to start off by giving Joe and company their props for designing what I thought was a pretty good course.  The starting line was a long wide straight away that gave plenty of room for the field to jocky for position before the first turn.  There were a couple of corners that were a little tight and narrow (hint: if the tape needs to be fixed every lap, that is a good sign that the corner is a little too tight – not a complaint, just an observation).  I lined up in the second row of the 18 strong field after a quick practice lap.  I hung in with the field for the first ½ to ¾ of a lap, but just wasn’t feeling like I had any power.  I really need to warm up for at least 30 minutes on the trainer prior to racing, but I got down to the venue a little later than planned.  So, I decided not to chase the whole day and just ride the course at speed and work on my cross technique.  I did want to at least ride fast enough to not get lapped or finish last.  With about 3 to go, I was feeling a little better and decided to hit the gas.  As I approached the barriers and started my dismount, my cleat did not dis-engage immediately and I almost crashed, but was able to save it at the last minute.  I thought it was strange, as my dismounts have been pretty good this season.  On the next lap, I could see I was making up ground on the guy in front of me, but had the same thing happen at the barriers again.  Turns out the bolt on my cleat had come loose, so the cleat was moving with the pedal when I was trying to disengage.  Admittedly, I never check my cleats until I start to pull out of the pedals because of wear.  So I don’t know if I forgot to torque the bolt tight or what.  After the second mishap, the wind was out of my sails and I just went fast enough to hold my position.  I ended up 17th for the day and I didn’t get lapped (see earlier goals).  I was really hoping my comeback to racing would be a little more productive, but I think I am resolving myself to just working on my fitness and getting my racing groove back on.  

I have 3 goals this season:

1)      Don’t get lapped
2)      Don’t finish last
3)      Finish every race
The results will come, but they may have to wait until next year……

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ritchey BreakAway TI Cross Review

I had no less than 6 different people stop me at yesterdays cross race to check out my Ritchey BreakAway TI Cross bike.  After several iterations, I finally got my Ritchey BreakAway TI Cross frame built up the way it should have been in the first place and I thought it was time to post a thorough review.  Anybody who knows me, knows I am a Titanium freak and I love cyclocross.  So when I considered getting a travel bike to take with me when I fly, I knew I was getting a Ritchey BreakAway from my team sponsor Ritchey and I knew it was going to be the TI Cross model.  

I have had this bike for a few years now and have put quite a few miles on it.  It has flown to Rapid City, SD and St. Louis, MO several times with no issues or oversize baggage charges.  Tom Ritchey really outdid himself with the BreakAway design.  It is so simple that it is genius.  The seatpost is the connecting rod for the first joint and a special fitting with flared ends is joined by a clamp on the downtube for the second split in the frame.  You can check out the Ritchey site for a more detailed explanation and a great video of how to pack/unpack and assemble the bike.  The frame just has that classic look and appeal that I would expect from Ritchey.  With my build kit of Campagnolo Record 10-speed, custom carbon tubular CX wheels, Crank Brothers 3TI Eggbeaters and a full complement of Ritchey WCS componentry;  the bike came in at 16 pounds.  

I was very skeptical about how much rigidity the frame would have, given that it splits into 2 halves.  I knew from the first time I rode it, that I was wrong.  I did not notice any flexing around the BB area when climbing out of the saddle or any twist when putting it through a technical CX course.  I wasn’t really surprised at how smooth it was, but the lack of flex was a huge shock.  So, this bike is comfortable, yet stiff and splits in two so you can take it with you in your travels.  The rear triangle has rack mounts, so you could easily set it up for touring or add some fenders. What more could you ask for?  I am not sure; as my only complaint is that they do not offer a hard travel case for it yet.  The soft case is still going strong, but I am always nervous when I fly with it.  The baggage handlers aren’t known for their respect of passenger luggage. I have been waiting for Ritchey to release a hard case, but I may just end up buying an S&S hard case before I travel next time. 

Some of you might ask if this could be your “A” race bike.  I am here to tell you that I have raced the bike in some local cyclocross races and it rocks!  The bike handles awesome.  It has never once gotten sketchy on me; whether the course was rough, soft, muddy or even when misjudging a corner.  There is plenty of mud clearance, as well.  With a race weight of 16 pounds, it is easy to shoulder up the most demanding run-ups.  I have never had to tighten any of the fittings after any race.  The list of benefits just goes on and on.  Wow, I am impressed. 

Not only does Ritchey produce some of the best components on the market, they also make an unbelievable cyclocross bike that just happens to double as an airline size travel bike!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Boss Cross #1

Rick Barrett and I did our best to represent Cow Town in the CAT3’s at Boss Cross #1. I haven’t seen the results posted online, but I think they had about 34 starters. I, unfortunately, was the last to line up due to a last minute nature break (won't let that happen again). Rick had a great starting position and was off with the leaders. The course was pretty narrow on the first corner and if you weren’t in the front group, you had to almost come to a complete stop. So, I ended up chasing the whole day. Since the course was not very technical, but fast, it looked like to me, that where you lined up is about where you finished. Rick trashed his rear derailleur and was not able to finish and I managed to make my way up to 27th. Not a great showing, but it was my first CAT3 race since I upgraded back in 2009. A couple of things I did learn today, was that a good starting position is critical in the CAT3 races.  They seem to be much faster than what I remembered the CAT4's being.  You also need to force you way past someone if you want to pass.  I guess maybe I race differently than some, but if I can't bridge up to the next racer in front of me, I will let someone who thinks they can, by me.  Oh well, I'll get this racing thing down eventually.  It’s great to be back racing and hope to get a better starting position and finish tomorrow.