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Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Barry-Roubaix bike

I've given my recap, my kegs have started to recover. Now it's time to cover my Barry-Roubaix winning* bike.

Before I decided on what I was going to ride, I consulted in others. After speaking with a number of previous racers, something was recurring. Titanium. A rough road race, titanium is the perfect material to tone down choppy roads and leave me not having to worry about damage from rocks jumping up.

The bike came from Guru, master custom builders from Canada. Guru has built their name around custom carbon, especially time trial and triathlon bikes. But Guru has an almost secret metal program which is really quite great.

Guru built this bike with thin seat stays for added comfort but with an oversized head and down tube to increase stiffness. A standard English threaded bottom bracket, integrated headset, and bead blasted finish round out the frame.The gruppo came from SRAM, Red has made it's way onto all of my bikes. This particular group was on my road bike last year, migrated to a Focus Mares carbon cross bike for the entire season, then was plucked from there and installed on this Guru. Shifting is still perfect as expected, nary a hiccup. The brakes are from TRP, the new CX-9's are a great brake for everything but the muddiest conditions.

Power goes into the Rotor 3d crankset with a Quarq powermeter running 46/36 FSA chainrings. I've had great luck running Quarq and find their accuracy to be as good if not better than anything out there. The only down side is calibration, but their method for calibration only takes a few seconds.

The Guru cockpit is from Zipp, SLC2 bars, Service Course stem. A Thomson Masterpiece seat post, Fizik Aliante saddle, Crank Brothers Candy pedals, and Lizard Skinz bar tape round out the contact points on the bike.

Last, and certainly not least, was the wheel choice. Barry-Roubaix has a lot of climbing for a race in the Midwest, so I knew I wanted something light. Since the race wasn't going to be blisteringly fast, I didn't feel the need for deep aerodynamic wheels. The Zipp 202 seemed to be the perfect choice with their feathery weight. Maybe more importantly were the tires, and I chose Challenge Griffo XS 32c tubular tires. Fast rolling and still offering a little grip in the gravel corners. Also important was tire pressure choices since the course offers a lot of variation in riding surfaces. Upon polling past racers, I decided on 63psi rear, 60psi front.

Looking back on my choices, I have to say I think I nailed it. Many of the decisions were no brainers to me, and the real variables I received guidance from past racers. If you're looking into doing Barry-Roubaix, I suggest titanium, carbon tubulars, and SRAM Red. Duh.

*I don't want to talk about it. Age Group winner, "wave" winner, and I THOUGHT overall winner. Apparently only one ROAD race on the day wasn't determined the same way EVERY road race is determined. Whatever.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Barry-Roubaix Race Report #2

From Brandon Elliott:

I got to the park a little late, not from sleeping in or anything like that, just moseying over. The park was backed up big time, so the 90 minutes or so I thought I would have was cut to about 45 minutes to warm up. No big deal, plenty of time.

Lining up was a little crazy with 400+ racers in wave 2 with me, but I found my way to roughly the 4th row. We were sent off with a shout from the announcer and I made my way up to the motorcycle for the roll out.

A few miles tick by with people sharing pulls until I know we're coming close to the first deciding climb on Sager Rd. It's a double-track section of Jeep trail that's rocky and a little rough. When I saw the turn to the climb I made a move to about 5th wheel behind Ed Bagley. We made the turn together and Ed pulled off! I thought he dropped his chain or something but no time to check on him, 2 guys made a break for it! Try as I might I couldn't close those two, but I did find a wheel of a guy on a fixed gear bike absolutely killing this rocky hill.

The fixie rider and I knocked out about 15 miles together chasing the two man break, but we couldn't get there. At about mile 20 a pack of 20 or so guys swallowed us up. We all hammered some hills together, and at roughly mile 25 we picked up the two guys who rode off at the beginning!

Now as a big packed we rushed through the last few hills, and the final 3-4 miles of pavement, which were primarily down hill.

The pace picked up with 2 miles to go. Small attack after small attack are closed, then we make a fast sweeping left into the park.

We're down to about 1500 yards. An attack comes from the left and 4 of us run him down.
1000 yards. Soft attack from the left again, no big deal.

500 yards, hard attack from the right and I get on his wheel.

200 yards to go and 3 of us are away.

100 yards and a sharp chicane to the left, I sit second wheel. The guy in front swings a little wide and I gun it. I hear third wheel cut the chicane short and hop a curb, he's coming.

50 yards, one guy is closing. I grab another gear and eye the finish. 25 yards, one more gear, and I'm there!

I look around and realize I won the sprint! A quick cool-down and I chat with some of the guys in the break. We chat about moves, cramps, and wins.

Finally I make my way over to the results and see....wait. I won my division but got 4th overall? Where were the other three guys? I rode right behind the motorcycle until we broke off, and never had anyone get by my group.


Oh well, first division win of the year, 4th overall in the 35-mile race. Ed finished 3rd in his division. 2 podiums for Iron Cycles today.

Barry-Roubaix Race Report #1

From Liz Markel, member of Team Iron Cycles:

Race report from the Markels: I did 23 miles, and did not finish last! :-D The uphills were killer on my knees (thank you to whichever IC guy asked if I was OK while walking an uphill!). My little victory was pushing the pace good on the downhills and the technical sections and feeling confident with the speed and my bike handling. Jon did the 35 mile and went over the handlebars on the 2-track section after another guy crashed and fell in front of him (both are fine), but did finish. We both agree it was fun, freezing, and VERY hilly...and that we'll try to race it again next year! Most importantly, though......CONGRATS B! Woohoo!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher early review

A couple months back Iron Cycles was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Zipp factory in Indianapolis. Zipp was based in Speedway, Indiana for years, but a move to Indianapolis came along when the need arose for a much larger space.

The headquarters houses design, production, and distribution for Zipp products as well as distribution of many SRAM products. The facility is clean, well thought out, and state of the art.

After the tour we had a presentation from some of the designers and while listening to their wind tunnel data, enthusiasm, and thoroughness of their designs I "drank the Zipp Kool-Aid". I was so impressed with what they were doing I had to give their newest line of products a try.

We all know the tubular 303 is the bee's knees in cyclocross. I had a few sets that I raced on all season with nary an issue.

But what of this new Carbon Clincher model and the Firecrest shape?

First, Zipp was late to the party with a full carbon clincher, but seems to be that way for good reason. Zipp wanted to be absolutely certain their braking surface could handle the high-heat of long descents as well as provide the smooth stopping power we all want. I can say that in my experience Zipp hit a home run on those points.

More important to me though is how fast a wheel is. Who wants to spend nearly $3000 on bicycle wheels if they aren't fast?! I won't say that I feel night and day faster on them, but I can't easily compare them to 32-hole box-section rims since I rarely ride them. Zipp's wind tunnel data shows that the Firecrest shape is not only faster than just about everything on the market (including their previous generation 808...think about that for a minute) in low-wind conditions, but a lot faster in high-yaw conditions. Fast wheels in the wind? Now who would want something like that in Chicago?!

Now let's talk about the first 500 or so miles I have on these wheels. Riding solo does feel fast, but so did the previous 404's. If I am saving a few watts I can't tell because I don't have an accurate enough way to test. They certainly do feel like they are holding speed a lot easier than a set of HED Bastognes or the Zipp 101s.

Braking does feel solid and smooth, though I did notice some "whistling" coming from my rear wheel under heavy braking on my last ride. First time I've heard that, and maybe just a brake pad adjustment away from being fixed, but worth noting.

If there is one thing that I can walk away from initial testing on these wheels preaching is the way they handle cross winds. If you've ridden deep-section carbon wheels you've almost undoubtedly felt cross winds pushing you around. The new 404 Firecrest shape has NONE of that. It's really shocking to say, and more shocking to (not) feel, but these wheels are incredibly stable all the time.

For a 200+ lb rider, that might not be a deal breaker. Bigger riders won't feel the effects of cross winds on their wheels as much as lighter riders. But let's say you're 150 lbs, or even 110 lbs. This new shape allows you to run a deeper and faster wheel in much more gusty conditions without feeling unsafe or having the fear of being blown off of the road.

Triathletes and time trialists rejoice. This new shape called Firecrest is your ticket. So far a 404 and 808 version is available, I wouldn't be shocked to see a 1080 as well. The full-carbon clincher 404 and 808 are available as well as a tubular variant. My guess is a 303 version of the carbon clincher will be out before we know it, as well as disc wheels (I hope!).

I highly recommend checking these wheels out. If you're looking for an all-out race wheel, the tubular version might be for you. Save some weight and get the aerodynamic benefits. If you're training on them as well like I do, grab the carbon clincher model. You can't go wrong with either. They aren't cheap, but they sure are nice.