Tag Archives: Specialized

The siren call of white

After meeting with Dave Mruz with Eastside Chiropractic, I knew I needed to do something about my saddle. It crossed my mind to see if somehow I could repair it. I realized that was playing with fire seeing all the trouble I was having. The decision was made to get a new one.

On my way to Sunshine Cycle Shop, I thought it through and it only made sense to get the same saddle this time around. First, I love the Toupe saddle. It is the saddle I have used since I started riding the road bike. Second, it would make the adjustment of the bike much easier seeing that the measurements could be moved from the old to the new and there would be less chance for an ill fit.

Then it was time for the most important question of all… What color should I get?

Specialized Toupe Saddle - White

Specialized Toupe Saddle - White

I decided on white. When I first got the white frame, I determined I would not go euro and turn it into an all white bike. The temptation was there and I was even encouraged to do so. However, I resisted.

I grabbed several saddles and put them in position on the seat post. After alternating back and forth between the white and black, I just couldn’t get away from the white. The black and gray accents just seemed to be made for my Giant TCR Advanced frame — which is white, gray, and black. I just had to do it.

Looking good with the white Giant TCR Advanced

Looking good with the white Giant TCR Advanced

Now I’m pretty pleased with the look. I still have the black bar tape going. I really don’t see myself going white with that. However, I might try a gray tape at some point when my current black wears out.

Yep, the white is taking over. Next up? Check it out!

Specialized BG S-WORKS Road Shoe

Specialized BG S-WORKS Road Shoe

Purrrfect!  White out!

I may have been sitting on my problem all along

I you’ve been reading LowCadence.com for any time, you know that I have been having neck, hip, and knee problems for some time now.  It has been a weird couple of months as I kept looking for the answer to fix these issues.  Finally, last night a possible answer came to light.

Dr. David Mruz of Eastside Chiropractic told me to come by with my bike and he would set me up on it and try to see what my body was doing.  So, I loaded up my bike in the rain and headed over — not sure what would happen.  I had hope because the good doc had already helped me with my neck.

He measured my angles and had me do various spins on the bike.  Then he started focusing on the points where my body touched the bike.  First, he looked at the handle bars, then the feet, and finally the saddle.

When he got to the saddle I heard him let out a “hmmmm” as he squinted down at my saddle from behind the bike.  “Come here,” he said. “Standing behind the bike, close one eye and adjust your gaze until the toptube is hiding the downtube.”  He moved me into position for the test.  “Now, bring the saddle into your field of vision.”  He paused to let me follow his instructions.  “Now, what do you see?” “Oooooo,” I replied.  “I see the nose of the saddle pointing slightly to the right.”

We further examined the saddle.  Turns out the carbon portion of the saddle was slightly moved to the left of the rails.  The saddle was also dipping ever so slightly down on the right side.  It was as though it has been twisted forcing the rear to move to the left which caused the nose to point to the right.  Looking straight down on the saddle you could see that the adjustment screws below the saddle were partially covered by the right side of the saddle.

My Toupe saddle after Saturday's crash

My Toupe saddle after my September crash.

What I wondered was  “How did it happen and when did it happen?”  As you can see in the picture above, the saddle had seen damage.  However, back in September is seemed to be mainly cosemetic.  I taped the saddle up and things seemed to be back to normal.  I don’t recall seeing the adjustment screws hidden the way I saw them last evening.

My guess is that the rails where weakened during the crash and then slowly the saddle began to collapse.  Of course, I was also dealing with the damage to my body at that time and that confused me trying to find the source.  It has never taken me this long to heal from an accident.  All of this points me to believe my issue truly is this saddle.

So, the next step is to replace the saddle and then get back on the bike.  It should become apparent after a few rides whether the problem is with my body or the saddle.  It could also be that it is a combination of the two.  However, we won’t be able to focus on the body until we even out the variables from the bike.

Is there Tegaderm for bicycle seats?

Tegaderm is amazing stuff!  After my recent spill that left road rash from my hip to my knee, I found the clear bandage “second skin” to be a welcome alternative to messy gauze and the like.  I’m seeing great improvement – it is like you can watch it heal through the transparent material.  Now, if they could just make Tegaderm for saddles.

My Toupe saddle after Saturday's crash

My Toupe saddle after Saturday's crash

Yep, that is my beloved Specialized Toupe saddle with a huge gouge in the right wing.  This was after only my second race using it.  It appeared I was going to be left with the same problem I was facing with the saddle I replaced.  The edges were rough from crashes and would rub the inside of my leg.

After attempting glue and black marker.

After attempting glue and black marker.

Thankfully, this damage is farther back.  It just drives the aesthetic side of me crazy!  In an attempt to salvage the seat, I glued the seat material back in place as best I could and colored in the scratches with black marker.  Not only did it not smooth out the edge, but it also looked nasty.  I was not happy.

Duct Tape!

Duct Tape!

I knew I could just throw some tape on it, but I’ve done that before and typically it looks pretty tacky and the edges get all turned up.  So, I went on Twitter and asked if anyone had any ideas.  Well, the best response I got was… you guessed it… Duct Tape.  So, I got some black tape and got creative.

The nice thing is that the two red tips at the back of the saddle are removable.  Previous year models had the tips pressed into place.  This saddle has them screwed on.  I was able to remove them and then apply the tape.  The tips help hold the tape in place at the curve of the saddle.  It should help hold the tape in place.  I did the messed up side as well as the unmarred one.   My hope was it would make it look “like it came that way.”

Matching wings!

Matching wings!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with end result.  Yes, I know that the tape may work it’s way up on the edge toward the center of the saddle, but I can easily replace it. $2 for a roll of tape sure beats forking over $160 for a new saddle!

On another note…

Check out the USA Cycling Professional Championship photos by Gabrielle Grace Smith.  She is a 15 year-old photographer that does some pretty good work!  Check out the photos she has of George Hincapie and you’ll see what I mean.

Riding in style and fast by the mile

Gave the Giant an over haul yesterday.  It started with the shifters and ended with me rolling out the door to test some Zipp 202 tubeless wheels.  I rolled out on my Thursday night ride with an illegal bike.

At 6.4 kilograms (14.12 pounds) the Giant was slightly under the legal weight limit according to UCI rules.  But hey, I wasn’t racin’, I was just out for a ride with the guys.  The only illegal activities we were worried about was us rolling through a stop sign. (If you are a cyclist in Greenville right now, you know what I’m talking about.)

First, the shifters – that is how this all started.  I love the SRAM group.  However, I have broken two of the shifters in the same spot over the last couple of months.  Yes, both times were when I have wrecked.  I do believe that the shifters could avoid this weak point with a little different engineering.  The nice folks at SRAM said they would “take it under advisement.”

They also sent me a new pair of shifters.  Sure, I had to pay $200 for them, but they are 2010.  They are pretty sweet looking – borrowing some of the styling cues from the the SRAM Red group – and are slightly lighter than the 2009 pair I broke.

2010 SRAM Force shifters

2010 SRAM Force shifters

The action is crisp.  Of course, as my teammate Reece is often heard to say, “Ah, new cables, it’s like getting a brand new bike!”  How much of the improved feel was due to the new cables and tune up and how much was due to the design of the new shifters, I don’t know.  All I do know is that I was flying through those gears with a minimum of motion.

Did I mention they look cool? Throw in some red bar tape, hoods, and cable housing and we’ve got a little bling action going.  It even matches my new seat.

The 2010 Specialized Body Geometry Toupe Team saddle (that is a mouth full!) is an improvement on my favorite saddle.  I love the Toupe saddle because it is a minimal carbon saddle that gives a comfortable ride because the carbon flexes.

2010 Specialized Toupe saddle

2010 Specialized Toupe saddle

The only problem I had with my previous saddle was that all my wrecks had torn up the edges of the saddle and it was beginning to tear up my shorts.  After one ride on my new saddle I realize another issue I had with the 2009 Toupe without realizing it.  The 2010 model gave me a noticeably better ride.

The reason for the better ride is the material used to make the seat.  The previous model was leather and was quite slippery.  You found yourself sliding around on the seat.  Sliding is the enemy of a comfortable posterior!  This model held me in place while keeping the flex that I had come to enjoy.  It has something to do with the “micromatrix” material used to cover it.  It is a noticeable improvement – in a case where I didn’t think one was necessary.

Oh yeah, those wheels.  The Zipp 202 carbon wheels with tubeless tires made my bike as light as a feather.  If I had purchased them, I would have found my bank account to be light as a feather!  Still, it was fun to try out something so light without the guilt of spending a couple grand on them.

Zipp 202 carbon wheels

Zipp 202 carbon wheels

What I liked… these things are fast.  I had to be careful as I was following other riders because the wheels got up to speed fast and then held it.  I was coming up much faster on leading riders as we rode out in a double pace line.  Improved acceleration was noticeable and the rolling resistance minimal.

Climbing was also done with ease – relatively speaking, of course.  The problem with was that several times I think I over did it as I tested out the wheels and was pretty much worn out by the time I reached Paris Mountain.  That is  when I really wanted the wheels to give me an advantage.

We had ridden over 25 miles by the time we started up and we had been smokin’ fast up to that point.  We slowed just a bit before reaching the bottom because Billy had fallen back – he had been fighting stomach issues.  John with Barley’s happened along and paced him back to us.

Typically after an effort like that it takes me between 13 to 13.5 minutes to climb Altamont.  I did the first half last night in 5 minutes and 40 seconds.  However, about 9 minutes in I knew I was in  trouble.  Still, I have to say things would have been much worse without the wheels.

I was on The Wall when I looked down to see my computer read 12 minutes 3 seconds.  There would be no PB for me tonight.  I could have pushed it and pulled off a 12:30.  That is a minute faster than normal for this ride.  However, I didn’t see the need and just sat up and meandered over the KOM line.

What I didn’t like about the wheels was the roughness of the ride.  They didn’t seem as rough as I had been led to believe they would be, but it certainly was not as smooth as my current wheels.  The braking on the carbon rim was also an issue.  It was, as I put it, herky-jerky. They were also noisy.  They seemed to flex and rub on my brake pads when I was under load.

Now, it could be that this was all because I had put these wheels on for just this test.  Perhaps some of the noises I was hearing would have cleared up had the bike been dialed in specifically for the wheel set.  Certainly, these wheels were made for climbing!

The primary thing that would keep me off of them would be the price.  They are so expensive, I would be near a panic attack each time I would ride them in a pack.  I also think that even with the added weight, I would prefer an aluminum braking surface.

One mean Giant machine!

One mean Giant machine!

It was great fun to climb on what seemed essentially to be a new bike.  Yep, Reece, what you say is true, “New cables… It’s like having a brand new bike.”  Oh, don’t forget about that new seat!

First date and I’m in love

As I watched John turn the wrench to loosen the heart of my Tarmac I felt a tinge of guilt for the action I was about to take. My Specialized Tarmac Pro had been a wonderful friend. We had climbed Mount Mitchell together and crossed the finish line as winners for the first time. Now another would take its place.

Enter the new Giant TCR Advanced. It arrived just yesterday and I got the call to bring my Tarmac to the shop so I could switch out the crank and wheels. The crank had to go with me because it houses my Quarq CinQo power meter. The wheels were my better ones so I wanted those on there for my first ride.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

Looking at the two bikes, I wasn’t so sure what I thought. The Tarmac is a very elegant looking machine. The curving top tube and narrow carbon fiber frame of pearl white and blue is very appealing. The Advanced is the dark color of graphite. The header and bottom bracket are over sized and the down tube is huge. The look isn’t elegant. The look is solid and fast.

Of course, you can’t judge a bike by its looks. John finished the construction and told me to hop on and take it for a ride. The first thing I noticed was that it was lighter. When I rolled it out the door for the test ride, the bike weighed 15.5 pounds. That is nearly a pound less than the Tarmac.

John did an excellent job moving my measurements over to the Giant. The bar was slightly lower but the hoods were in the same position. He said I now had the “racer boy” setup. My quick spin around the block showed some promise.

Now it was time to give the bike a better workout. Not too much… I didn’t want to stress the cables and connections too much. Just a bit of a test to see how my body worked on the new setup.

I met up with my friend Chris Hartzler at Cleveland Park and we began to make some laps. I’m not here to say that I could notice all the nuances of difference between the two bikes. I could obviously tell I was using new components. The shifting was crisp and responsive.

The ride was very similar and I’m sure a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was using the same wheels. However, there were some differences that I could feel. These changes had more to do with the geometry of the frame.

The Advanced frame is slightly smaller. So, there was a bit less bike beneath me. I noticed this mostly when I would come out of the saddle to sprint. The top tube was much lower as I rocked back and forth. The center of gravity was lower still. This gave me the feeling of the bike being more nimble.

The setup is different, but I like it. The TCR Advanced gives me confidence. Diving into the corners was enjoyable. Coming out of the saddle on a burst up a climb was exhilarating. What a ride!

There is still a soft spot in my heart for the memories I made on the Tarmac, but the way I figure I’ve got more time ahead to make some new ones. If the next rides on the Advanced are anything like the first one, I’m pretty sure my future memories are going to be great ones. Let’s go!

A different kind of bike Fit

Well, this weekend, I will be heading up to River Falls for the last Saturday race of the 2009 Greenville Spring Training Series. I’ll be taking my bike with me because I plan to race it. The weather will be nice and my finger is feeling much better, so I am pretty confident about giving it a go.

I thought I would use today’s post to show you how I get there. I have a 58cm Specialized Tarmac Pro and have the choice of carrying it in a Chevrolet Suburban or Honda Fit. With what it costs to go racing now days, I figure I need to save where I can. I’m taking the Fit.

People who have seen the video ask me why I don’t put my bike in there in “tall mode.” This seating configuration is where you flip the bottom of the back seats up exposing an area behind the front seats that goes from the floor to the ceiling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me.

It does work for a smaller bike. However, my Tarmac is just a little too long. My bike fits just fine height wise. It is just too long to fit across. Besides, I like having the larger space to work with when trying to load the bike.

Beyond the bike configuration, I really like my 2009 Honda Fit. It is fun to drive and good on gas. It has some pretty good options for an entry level Honda and it looks pretty cool.

Can you put racks on it? Yes, manufacturers of roof racks do have systems that work on the 2009 model. However, if you are looking for a hitch mounted rack, you are out of luck. At this time there are no hitch options that I am aware of — outside of fabricating your own!

The Fit is Go! and I am gone.

UPDATE: If you would like to see a close up view of the system, you can take a look at this post.

I already want my bike back!

I woke up a little sore this morning.  Nothing drastic, just enough to notice a little more tenderness in certain regions and stiffness in some of my muscles.  I think I can trace it back to two things: 1) Nintendo Wii and 2) my Specialized Allez with a “new” saddle.

Last week I made the decision to skip the Upstate Winter Bicycle League. It isn’t that the ride had lost its lustre for me.  It was simply a matter that with the race season starting for us next week, I wanted to be well rested going into that weekend after a long winter of riding.

By the way, the final points was extremely close.  Rodney and Yuan were only one half point from each other going into the final ride.  Rodney won the final sprint, but Yuan took second.  Because of the handicaps given in the various categories of riders, this gave Yuan the yellow vest.

Paul Mills easily held onto the green vest, which is awarded to the rider collecting the most points during the various sprint zones during the ride.  I like to think I helped Paul to his victory by helping him pace around Cleveland Park the night before.  Right!  Good job guys!  See you next year.

My plan was to ride with the Sunshine Cycle Shop guys on the Hour of Power.  However, I stayed up too late the night before trying to finish my vlog after a Wii party.  Saturday morning I ended up sleeping past the start time for the ride.  It wasn’t until that afternoon that I got out.

Shortly before lunch I dropped my Specialized Tarmac off at Sunshine to have a tune job done in anticipation of next Saturday.  I told them not to be in a hurry because I planned to ride my “old” Specialized Allez while the Tarmac was in the shop.  However, I would appreciate it if they could give me a used seat to replace the current one I had covered with duct tape.

The ride that afternoon was one of the best I have enjoyed.  After a cloudy rainy start to the day, the sun came out and the temperatures were in the middle to high 60s.  I easily worked my way toward Travelers Rest and headed toward the mountains.

I didn’t make it to the blue elevations before me in the distance, but everything seemed so right with the world, I felt like I could have kept riding to the Rockies!  I had stuck my iPod in my jersey for listening once I got out of town, but it wasn’t needed. This was one of those time when the thoughts in my mind and the sound of the rubber on the asphalt – swish, swish, swish – was the only music I needed.

So, why do I want my bike back?  Well, while the Allez is a very good bike, it just isn’t the Tarmac.  The steering geometry is different and I definitely missed my Specialized Toupe saddle.  My guess is I really need to get a bike fit on the Allez.  Some of the soreness I think can be attributed to that.  What I would like to do is take my old Toupe and put it on the Allez and get a new one for the Tarmac.

I’ll have to wait on that.  John texted me to let me know I was going to have to put on new rubber.  Seems I had all kinds of stuff embedded in the Michelins.  New bar tape to replace my current peeling grips also end up finishing off my budget for the month!

Enjoy the Tour of California.  I won’t be mentioning it much here.  You can find it all over the place elsewhere with coverage from people who are actually there.  I really don’t have much to add.

Thanks for reading LowCadence.com!