Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New to the quiver

So last year I started skiing seriously. I am not very good hence I retain the title climbwill while the other Will gets the ski prefix. Contributing to my lameness was that my old skis weighed next to nothing and were only 90mm at the tip: My 190 lb. carcass would just sink through all that powder we had last year. My new Voile Carbon Surfs, mounted with dynafit comfort bindings and driven by the Scarpa Matrix boot will hopefully change that (both the sinking carcass and the bad skiing that is).

The Voile skis have snowboard inserts. To mount the dynafits you have to obtain this grey plastic mounting plate. On the mounting plate there are three hole patterns on the for the rear binding piece for small medium and large boot sizes. The hole patterns are spaced 1 1/8 inches apart. The dynafits can adjust about 1 inch, leaving two 1/8 inch gaps between binding configurations on the ski. My boot landed just shy of this gap. The binding adjustment screw at its limit will just barely accommodates my boot. Either the guys at Voile checked to make sure that no major boots sizes' land in those gaps or they were just plain stupid. Mondo point sizes are not exactily equivalent to centimeter sizing: e.g. my 28.0 dynafit evolutions are slightly shorter than my 27.5 scarpa matricies. So it seems unlikely that they could ensure that all boots will fit their skis...


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cyclocross State Champs: I'm A Contenda!

I just got done with the Utah cyclocross state championships. Another fine day of racing at Wheeler Farm. Some of us on the blog do this funny sport. True, its somewhat strange, and it does not have the following that road or mountain bike racing has. Why do it? Well first off you have to like racing. Why cyclocross racing? If we make analogies to auto racing then Road racing would be like NASCAR or Indy, Mountain bike racing would be like Baja or rallying up pikes peak, Downhilling would be like monster trucks. Cyclocross is like formula one: Winding tracks with ups, downs, curves, hairpins, banks, continual accelerations and decelerations, and running. Most people know of cross for the running and jumping over barriers part but mountain biking can also have hike-a-bike sections. To me the running makes for interesting tactics and emphasizes different types of fitness, but the running makes up only a very small part of the race. The other thing about cross is that it is the winter time branch of cycle racing: When the other racing seasons winds down cross is the only race in town. The mud and snow make for suffering and challenging riding conditions: Do I run this muddy trenched section or can I ride it? The other great thing about cross is that its much more low-key: People come out to have fun. Antics abound and the courses are usually in parks where many people show up. Spectators can usually see much of the course and watch the progress of packs of riders and the race leaders as they go by different sections of the course.

Here is some pictures of the single speed and men's B race. The race was great for me. There was some good racing.

Check me out cruising on the runup.
On the last lap this other single speed rider snuck up on me and passed me, demoting me to third place. I passed him right back and we both got clogged up in a pack of B men riders. We all went through a wooded single track section. Once out of the woods I took an inside line that was bumpier than the smooth section, but the B men didn't mind me passing as I was not their problem.

The course closed back up on a corner and I safely had three guys between me and the other single speed guy. I unloaded all energy reserves on the flats going into the final stretch for the single speed silver. Steve Wasmund, the first place guy is like so much better that I never even saw him the whole race. Maybe next time...


Monday, November 6, 2006

I'm all out of gears, AKA another thing you can do with a Voile ski strap

Two weekends ago a crashed out pretty bad on my cyclocross bike: Right off the start line and into a pile up. I dented my top tube on my thin-wall aluminum Cannondale frame, frayed rear shift cable, and busted my rear shift lever. This last Saturday I finally started to fix the dang thing for Sunday's race when I finally realized the extent of the damage.

I called up the folks at cyclesmith and I converted my bike to a single speed. Before the crash, this was my last bike to still have gears. But gears grind, bend, and eventually break before anything else does on a bike and so the single speed is a natural progression (regression).

In a cyclocross race gears confer only a slight advantage and this year the Utah cyclocross series has a single speed category that runs with the B male category. The single speed fields are about 10 people and the B men run about 40. The leaders of the SS category are usually in the top 10 of the B category (I got 6th overall last Sunday).

To make the single speed I bought some lightweight non-shift break levers and a Surly singlelator. The Surly singleator works to keep the chain tension on the rear cog. Rather than fiddle with jingus spring system I just used a good ol Voile ski strap to keep the chain tension. It works well and its bright orange! Ben also helped me out with a 18-tooth BMX rear cog: Muchas Gracias Ben!

I'm running a pretty tall gear: 48 chainring X 18 cog X 700c wheel X 32mm tire giving me ~72 gear inches. This seems to be a good choice for the flat winding courses of Wheeler farm that don't have too many hairpin accelerations.