Monday, February 16, 2015

U.S. Fat Bike Criterium National Championships

     The title sounds so serious, but ironically it is probably the least serious race I have ever attended.  It was a 30 minute race, plus two laps.  Extra credit was given for costumes, but no one took advantage of the 30 second head start allowed to anyone wearing a speedo.  30 seconds is a lot of time, but hardly worth frostbite on nipples.

     The race was held on groomed ski trail around the Wisconsin State Capitol.  It is part of the Madison Winter Festival, which is home to the state XC ski championships.  So after the skiers were done, we took to the course at 8pm.

     They tried to put cyclocross type barriers out on the course to make things interesting, but with everyone on fat bikes we just rolled over them like speed bumps.  Scoring was done on the honor system for the top three, and everyone else was considered fourth.
Fat bikers invade the Capitol

I got a free entry to next year

     Afterward everyone headed over to the local pub, where everyone who put their name in the hat received prize.  Prizes ranged from Power Taps to socks, the amount of support and swag that they were able to round up was unbelievable.

     It was promised that anyone not having fun was to be pulled aside and beaten with a ski pole, but it never came to that because fun was had by all.  –David Swanson

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stuff that works

Shimano 105 Chain and Cassette
     Bike parts are a perplexing bunch.  I have seen some parts excel in conditions that I wouldn't expect anything to perform in.  For example look at these photos from my cyclocross bike, I put it through 110 miles of sloppy road grime and snow melt this weekend.  The shifting performance was not affected, even with the valve lapping compound type chain lube covering every surface.  This chain is the same one I used in Trans Iowa last year, as well as Alamnzo's 162 miler, and the rest of the season.  It is now showing stretch on the chain gauge, more than exceeding my expectations from chain.
Shimano 105 Derailleur
     The problem is that it is impossible to tell what works before you buy it.  Even if it came highly recommended by someone else, what works for some may not work for all.  I have yet to find a 29 inch rear wheel that will hold up to a season of abuse. 
     A KMC chain came stock on my Beargrease, a bike designed to be ridden in nasty environments.  It broke the connector link within 30 miles of owning the bike, and the chain was stretched to the point of needing replacement in less than 200 miles.  So I have the replaced it with a Sram PC1051, I have had good luck with the PC951 on the 9 speeds and single speed setups.  Time will tell.
    It makes it hard to justify spending more money on higher end stuff.  I have heard that carbon rims are stronger than aluminum wheels of the same weight, but I dont want to risk that kind of money.  For the last three years, I have completely ruined one rear wheel per season.  I don't want to end up with an expensive piece of garbage at the end of the year.
     I will just keep on trying and breaking stuff till I find a solution.