Tag Archives: TCR Advanced

The demon bike

Back when I started riding mountain bikes I used to be one of those people who named their bikes. Sometimes they got the name of the brand. For instance, there was “The Huffy“, but normally they got a descriptive name like “The Tank” or “The Green Monster“.  By the time I got my Pro Flex 755 I got past the habit of naming my machines. Well, today I’d like to resurrect that process and introduce to you… The Demon Bike.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

The bike as I like to remember it

As with many things evil, The Demon Bike was a work of beauty and I had to sacrifice to get it. I sold my Specialized Tarmac Pro and my back up bike, a Specialized Allez. It gave every reason for me to believe it would be a great relationship. I used the bike nearly through the entire 2009 race season.

The first crack in the frame

The first crack in our relationship

Now as I think back, that year was a very rough one. I went down several times – not all of them on the black Giant (what I took to calling it later when I replaced it with a white Giant). The ultimate fall came at the 2009 SC State Road Racing Championship. I was taken out by another rider and ended up pretty beat up. The Giant was beat up more with the top tube cracked right through (see the above image).

I thought the bike was gone. I even replaced it with my current bike — a white 2010 Giant TCR Advanced. Perhaps it should have stayed that way. However, I learned that the frame could be repaired. Seeing how I missed having a back-up bike, I thought it might be a good idea to spend the several hundred dollars to get the bike back in my stable. I did and was impressed with the results.

That brings us to the end of the story. I used the bike for several events and for setting up a test of the iBike powermeter. Then I got some really fly Boyd wheels that just set the black frame off perfectly. I found myself drawn to ride the black Giant more and more.

So it was that loaded up the bike configured as you see it in the first photo above. I planned to race it for the first time since bringing it back on the road. Perhaps I never should have. Just several hours after the above picture was taken the bike looked like this.

The aftermath

The aftermath of the final crash

Notice the head tube and front fork. The bike broke above and below the head tube. That is a lot of force folks! Actually, since this incident, I’ve learned the regional Giant rep is taking a picture of the bike around with him. In his words, “That is pretty impressive!”

Closer shot of the damage

Notice the front fork and wheel

It is funny, I raced most of my 2010 season on the white Giant. I had some close calls as you always will in a Category 4 race, but I never went down. Life was good! Multiple podium finishes had me upgraded to Category 3 and the sky seemed to be the limit.

Then In my first race back on the black Giant — and my first as a Category 3 racer — I had the hardest crash of my life! I’m now out for the season. Wow, even if I could repair that bike frame (not only was the headset and front fork damaged, the head tube was also crushed), I don’t think I would do it! It is time to put The Demon Bike away!

Now, this post is tongue in cheek. I don’t really believe that a bike can contain some type of evil energy that would cause me to wreck. I would more prefer to think that God allowed me to wreck on the black frame so I wouldn’t ruin my white one!

It is just kind of funny how that when I first put the two bikes — a white one and black one — together I joked that they were like the two angels on your shoulders. The black one was the bad angel and the white one the good. I just find it ironic that the joke seemed to be true!

Less critical of the crit

Billy White told me it would happen. It has taken awhile, but what he predicted has come true. I’m actually starting to warm up to criterium racing.

It is a good thing too. Criterium racing is the primary way American cyclist compete against each other. When the summer months arrive, all across the country you will find racers going round and round on short courses. That time has come!

2010 Giant TCR Advanced with SRAM Red

My crit weapon of choice: 2010 Giant TCR Advanced with SRAM Red & Boyd wheels

The big daddy to kick off criteriums here in the Southeast is the Athens Twilight. No, it has nothing to do with vampires. The sucking going on will be competitors trying to gain an advantage – or merely survive – by riding the wheel of the racer in front of them.

Athens Twilight is now in its 30th year. The race has consistently brought over 30,000 spectators to watch the racers compete under the city lights. It is an atmosphere the fans and riders enjoy.

However, there is another criterium series kicking off. The 2010 St. Francis Sports Medicine Summer Race Series kicks off tonight at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC. The series returns to the track after a year away with racing at the old Greenville Braves Stadium. The performance test track was a favorite venue and you can expect fast racing — depending on the winds.

Check out the event page over at POACycling.com to learn more about the race. Especially if you are a cyclist just beginning to race, consider cutting your teeth out at BMW. Rather than really sharp turns, the Summer Series crits feature more sweeping turns that allow you to get more comfortable with the speeds often associated with crits.

What exactly was it I didn’t like about this style of racing? Part of it was simply that I’ve always thought that road racing was the purest form of bicycle racing. Varying terrain, distance, and team strategy over the course seemed more like the types of racing you see in the Tour de France.

However, more than that, I was scared. Crits typically are under a mile in length and involve at least four turns. Depending on the course, these turns can be rather abrupt. So, you have 40 guys going 25 mph into a 90 degree turn and it can be a recipe for disaster! My first ever race was a crit and I went down alone in one of these turns and dislocated my finger.

The crit is also hard. In road racing, you can more easily sit in and cover the distance waiting for the final move of the day. In criterium racing, you have to know how to handle your bike but you also have to know how to accelerate. Pedal… set yourself up for the turn… hold your line… hold your line… ACCELERATE! Pedal… Pedal… Pedal… set yourself up for the turn… hold your line… hold your line… ACCELERATE! Over and over you go.

However, I have come to enjoy the race as I have come to understand it better. Admittedly, it is also more fun as my bike handling skills have improved and my training has helped me learn to manage the acceleration. One of the things that makes it enjoyable is that there is continual action. There is very little of just sitting in and getting pulled along. You must be fully engaged for the entire distance.

Chasing down the leaders at the BMW Peformance Center

Chasing down the leaders at the BMW Performance Center

Tonight I should have double the fun. My coach has me doubling up racing the Category 4 race as well as the Masters 35+. I’ll finish the first race and then line up immediately for the second race. I’m glad he has confidence! Hopefully it will be contagious.

Come on and give a crit a try. You might find you like it… after awhile.

Back on black

Haven’t had a chance to mention this, but for the first time since last September I had the chance to ride my black Giant TCR Advanced. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was told by my coach to go out and do an easy hour spin. A perfect occasion to head to Cleveland Park.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

My repaired and newly built up 2009 Giant TCR Advanced

I love the bike. Calfee Design has it looking almost new. The only thing I did not have them do when they repaired my frame and repainted it was not to put the TCR Advanced logo along the front section of the top tube. I’m thinking about replacing it with a LowCadence.com decal.

The ride is smooth but nimble, just like my white TCR Advanced. The bikes are set up so well that when I am on the one, I don’t feel any different than when on the other. I do notice some difference when when it comes to the components. The SRAM Red components on the white bike do have a slight advantage over the SRAM Force components on the black one. However, to be honest, once I stop thinking about it, I don’t notice even that.

Rolling on that bike, especially after the solid finish at Fork Shoals this year, I felt that things have finally come full circle. The memory of the accident is fading. My mind is more focused thinking about the future than remembering the past. My bike is repaired and so is my confidence.

I’m back on black! It’s been too long and I’m glad to be back.

Tale of Two Giants

It is done. I finally have the two Giant TCR Advanced frames built up. This all started back in September and is ending here in February. Now I’ll have another choice to make whenever I decide to go for a ride — do I ride white, or do I ride black?

Back when I joined the POA Cycling Team, I sold my Specialized Tarmac Pro and my first road bike, a Specialized Allez Elite, in order to get the team bike – a black 2009 TCR Advanced with Force components. It was a great bike and I was glad I made the switch.  However, the problem it created was that I only had one bike.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

Now, for most people that isn’t a problem. What I found for me was that I often ran into situations where I would have the bike in the shop for a tune-up or to have something fixed that I had broken, and I would be bike-less. I came to regret getting rid of both of those bikes.

That was never more the case than in September 2009 when I was taken out in a race. The black Giant was cracked on the top tube. I had no bike at all.

Thankfully, Giant sent me a replacement frame. To make things nicer, it was a 2010 Giant TCR Advanced. I was able to build it up with 2010 SRAM Force components. It was the bike I used to ride the relay from Greenville to Austin in October.

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

When Giant sent me the new frame, they did not request me to return the old one. At first I didn’t know what to do with it. Then a friend of mine told me that he had a frame fixed with Calfee Design. I looked into it and found that for a little over $300 I could get the black frame fixed.

So, I sent it off and received it about the time we placed the team order for 2010 SRAM parts for the team. It is way too good of a deal to pass up and I decided to snag some Red components. The plan was to move the Force group to the black TCR Advanced and put the Red group on the white TCR Advanced.

FINALLY, after months it all came together. Then I couldn’t decide which bike to use as my primary bike! That is important because my one Quarq CinQo powermeter is in the crank – a SRAM S900. The number 1 bike would need to have that crank.

After a bit of deliberation, I decided to go with my original plans. I get differing reactions from people regarding the look of the two bikes. Some like the white. Some like the black. I think I like the both.

Maybe I’ll be able to find a way to get power on the black bike and I’ll be able to switch between the two of them more often. I could ride the one that best fits the mood of the day! More importantly, I’ll have a bike to ride whether one is in the shop or not.

Now… if the snow would just clear from the roads so I could ride one of them…

Ebony and ivory

Ebony and ivory

SRAM Red, White, and Black

What do I do now? Before Christmas I ordered some components as part of my POA Cycling Team deal with SRAM. I’m certain John, at Sunshine Cycle Shop, grew weary of me asking when the order would arrive. Well, I’ll pester him no longer. The order arrived yesterday.

Now I’m left with a quandary. Which frame do I put the components on? The white Giant or the black one?

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

My original intention was to move the ’09 Force group from the white bike to the black bike and then build up the white one with the ’10 Red group. With that in mind I ordered a new Force crank so I could keep my SRAM S900 with the Quarq CinQo on the white bike.

That would have full Red on the white bike except for the crank and full Force on the black bike. It all made perfect sense until some friends told me I should consider racing the black frame with the Force group and leave the white frame and the Red for the cookie rides. The idea makes sense.

Let’s face it, there really isn’t that much of a difference in the components. Yes, the Red is lighter with a slightly different construction, but when it comes to someone at my skill level it really doesn’t make that much difference. I hate to say it, but it really comes down to what looks good.

That is the problem. Since I only have one Quarq CinQo and I am training this year, I have to keep the powermeter crank on the bike that I plan to race. Unless I plan to mix the Force crank with the remaining Red group, I have to keep the Red stuff with the S900.

I’m leaning heavily toward my original plan – build the white Giant up with the Red group and the CinQo. The black bike would then be all Force. If looks count for anything, that is definitely the way to go.

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

2010 Giant TCR Advanced

Then again… if I race the white Giant, I will be the only POA rider on a white bike — all the other Giant frames on the team are black. Also, the black frame is the repaired frame and keeping the white frame out of the racing action would keep it safer. Who cares if the black frame gets nicked?

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

Then again… you only live once and that white frame is really sweet. With the Red group on it, that white Giant is going to stand out… though I have to admit the black frame just looks more menacing.

Silly, isn’t it?

Help!!!! I can’t make up my mind!

My first paint chip on my 2010 Giant TCR Advanced

I love my Giant TCR Advanced. It is kind of cool because it is somewhat unique. Since it is a replacement frame to replace one that was damaged last year, it has a different paint scheme than what you will see on your LBS floor. Funny, but I have had people comment that they like the look of the replacement frame better than the floor model.

Then the other night I was switching out my rear skewer so I could put it on the trainer. As I released the lock the rear seat stay flexed out (as normal) and a white flake of paint popped off. “Oh great!” I thought to myself. “My first damage to the frame and I didn’t even do anything.”

My first paint chip on the 2010 TCR

My first paint chip on the 2010 TCR

Interestingly, I was able to get a glimpse of the paint job. At least at that point of the bike, it is pretty thick! The chip that came off felt pretty substantial.  I think it would have taken a bit of force to try to break it in two. I didn’t try, of course!

So, I went about fixing it. At first I thought of getting some model paint and touch up the spot. Then I remembered some glue that my son and I were using to fix some of his toys. It was Elmers brand Gorrilla Glue. It did a good job on the toys and since this chip was more like a “piece” than a flake, I decided to try gluing it.

Applying the Elmers Gorrilla Glue

Applying the Elmers Gorrilla Glue

After letting it set for a bit, I took some white fingernail polish and coated it a few times. Later I checked on it and it was pretty solid. I’ve ridden it several times since then and the blemish is still there, but you would have to be looking for it.

The finished repair

The finished repair

I would be interested in knowing if anyone else has had any issues with the paint job on the Giant. This is the replacement frame that is a matte finish. I did not damage the frame by bumping it into anything or crashing.

It almost appears that the rear dropout must flex and it loosened a weak point in the paint causing it to pop off. I say that because the chip actually “popped” away from the frame as though it was under pressure and then released.

Oh well, no big deal, at least I don’t have to be so obsessive about avoiding my first scratch. There is also a measure of relief that the first one was not due to my stupidity! I’m still loving the bike.

A Calfee repair is all it is cracked up to be

Maybe you remember this video I took back in September 2009. It was a sad thing to watch as it shows my 2009 Giant TCR Advanced frame with a massive crack going nearly around the top tube. I had given up for a loss.

Then a friend of mine told me that he was sending a frame off to Calfee Design for a repair. To make a long story short, I decided to give the service a try. Less than two months after sending the frame out to California, it arrived back at Sunshine Cycle Shop when I was out of town last week.

I got to see it today. Wow! It looks even better in person. Yes, if you look close, you can see where the repair was made.  However, as I told someone at the shop… “You won’t be able to notice it when I’m going pass you!” Now I’ve got $1500 quality frame for just a few hundred. Can’t wait to get my SRAM Force group set on that thing!

So, would I recommend you send your next busted carbon fiber frame to Calfee Design? You betcha. Be sure to remember this URL – CalfeeDesign.com.

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!

White and black but still the same

Why change a good thing?  I can be sometimes bad about that.  There are times when I’ll keep using something for longer than I really need.  My ProFlex 757 was one of those.  However, things didn’t get much better than my 2009 Giant TCR Advanced.

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

2009 (black) and 2010 (white) TCR Advanced frames

Of course, you can’t see here, but the top tube of the black frame above is cracked.  This caused me to order a replacement frame.  It arrived last week.

Just after cleaning my 2010 Giant TCR Advanced

Just after cleaning my 2010 Giant TCR Advanced

At first, I thought the frame had a different geometry.  I kept looking and it appeared that the rear triangle of the 2010 frame was different.  The chain stays appeared to be thicker and the carbon molding seemed to have some different angles.

I'm loving the head tube graphics.

I'm loving the head tube graphics.

Even the head tube seemed to be smaller.  Other TCR Advanced owners commented that it appeared the seat tube was also more aerodynamic.  It was enough to get me to get the two frames side by side for some close inspection.

Pretty cool graphics on the seat tube as well.

Pretty cool graphics on the seat tube as well.

Bottom line is that the only changes between the 2009 and 2010 frames are the paint jobs and graphics.  I loved my black Advanced.  To be honest, I wasn’t real excited about getting a white frame, but it was the only replacement frame that they had.

The chain stays are going to be the challenge.

The chain stays are going to be the challenge.

Now that I have it, I really like it.  The graphics have some nice visual tricks.  For instance, what appears to be black decals on the down tube are actually exposed carbon weave.  It is the same with the “graphics” running along the top tube.  In the sun light you can clearly see the weave.

Let's get out an ride!

Let's get out an ride!

So, I had hoped to come and give a review of how much better the new frame is.  Well, here is the good news.  It is just like old frame.  On yesterday’s ride I had people asking me if I liked the ride of the new frame.  My answer was, “Well, I don’t even realize I’m on a new frame until I look down at it.”

That is exactly how I hoped it would be.  It does look sweet…

I’ve been framed

I’ve talked a bit about my lack of a bike to ride recently.  However, I haven’t shown you any pictures of the damage.  That is partly because I didn’t want to look at it.  My bike has been at Sunshine Cycle Shop since the day I crashed.  Well, I stopped by yesterday to go out with the old and in with the new.

You get the idea of the force with which that guy hit me.  People have the impression that carbon fiber is very fragile.  Really it isn’t.  It takes just the right force applied in just the right way to end up with a result like that.

Well, out with the old!

The crack in my 2009 Giant TCR Advanced frame

The crack in my 2009 Giant TCR Advanced frame

In with the new!

My new 2010 Giant TCR Advanced frame!

My new 2010 Giant TCR Advanced frame!

The main reason why I stopped by the shop was because John had sent me a text just as I sat down for lunch letting me know that the replacement frame from Giant had arrived.  Oooooooo, a 2010 Giant TCR Advanced frame with a white satin mate finish.  The lettering is a combination of exposed carbon weave and a black paint with silver highlights.

The frame weighs in at 2.8 pounds.  The geometry seems to be the same, but the size of the tubes seem to be a bit smaller.  I’ll have a better idea of the setup once my components get moved over.  Oh, there is also a matching fork to complete the set.

Funny, but the new SRAM Force shifters I received have white accents.  It is as though they were made for this frame.  I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that today I’ll get another text from John telling me that I need to take this sweetness out for a test ride!