Category Archives: Bike

Speedplay Pedals

Santa brought me Speedplay Zero pedals for my bike. Actually, a set for each bike.

First order of business was to put a set on the bike that’s on the trainer. This gives me the chance to get used to them before using them on the road.

The hardest part is always getting the old pedals off but I persevered. Once on, it was try them out.

My first observation was that my saddle was too high. Going from Look style pedals to Speedplays resulted in lowering my saddle roughly a quarter inch.

The release action seemed as easy as the Look pedals but the clip in part seems a bit more challenging. I remember my friend saying this same thing. Of course the action of clipping in is much different than the toe-heel entry action with Looks.

I like the fact that I can dial these in to have no float. I know there is a lot of talk about the positive aspects of float in pedals but there is also buzz about the lack of float. These pedals allow me to decided how much float to have in my pedals.

I’m still working on fine tuning my entry technique and would love to hear if anyone has any hints or tips. Do you have float in yours or none at all?

Christmas Wish List

What’s on your Christmas list this year? (Biking related or not.)

I didn’t have much of a list this year. My husband has done well in buying practically everything I could ever want/need for my cycling addiction. I did have fenders on that list for winter riding, and think Santa might be bringing those for me. He might also be giving me a time trial helmet, that I put on my list rather late.

One of the hot items this year is also an I am Not Ted King t-shirt. I have it on good authority from a very credible elf that one will be under the tree for me.

I think I have actually done better purchasing for my husband this year than in years past. Usually I’m at a loss for gifts for him. He falls into that “hard to buy for” category. Not because he’s difficult, but because he tends to buy what he needs throughout the year. And he’s a bit of a techy so I wouldn’t know where to begin in that department. This year is different. Thankfully I asked him for a list of things he might want and from that list I’ve been able to build on it. (I should have done this before!) I’ll elaborate on this after Christmas, that is if my gifts are well received.

The only thing really on my wish list is the lack of snow through most of January, or at least until after New Year’s. I want to have more road rides before we get too much snow and since I’m on vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, it would be a nice time to ride on snow-free roads. (I suppose I should be asking Mother Nature for this as opposed to Santa.) That said, we did just buy snow shoes for when it does finally snow. To that end, now that we are “prepared for winter” from a recreation standpoint, we probably won’t get much snow. Call it a jinx if you will. And if so, I’ll buy skis next year…

Happy Holidays! I hope you’ve been good enough for Santa to bring you at least one item on your list.

Dempsey Challenge Recap

Today was the Dempsey Challenge, a 100, 50, 25 or 10 mile bike ride with also a 5k run/walk in Lewiston, Maine. It was a large fundraiser for the The Patrick Dempsey Center at Central Maine Medical Center that “provides free support, education and wellness services to cancer patients and caregivers”.

I had heard about it on a local news program during the off season and my friend encouraged me to sign up when the registration opened so I did. Good thing because they capped registration at 3500 participants and actually filled it weeks before the event!

This summer the call had gone out to the club I race for, PVC, looking for ride ambassadors. I figured since I was going to be there I might as well ride as an ambassador so I volunteered. Luckily I was selected as an ambassador for the 50-mile ride. Whew! The century that I originally registered for, I found out later, was extremely hilly. I was thankful to be required to ride the shorter route.

Duties as a ride ambassador include chatting with people to make them feel good about the ride, especially if it was raining, helping with any mechanicals, and calling for a SAG wagon if needed. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with people throughout the ride, asking everyone stopped along the road if they were okay or needed assistance, and changing one flat tire.

It also gave me an opportunity to chat with local cyclist, OA/Cyclemania and PVC member, and fellow ambassador, Bob Baiguy. Super nice guy and I enjoyed riding with him for a few miles.

The weather was predicting rain all week. As we got closer to the weekend it started looking up a bit with only showers in the forecast, instead of heavy rains. I’m happy to report there was no rain whatsoever. Just some wet roads that dried by mid-day, and only some heavy fog to contend with on one descent.

Before the start of the ride I had seen George Hincapie and Ted King go by me towards the start line. I had a couple friends hold my bike as I made my way through the ever growing crowd to snap some pictures of them. Since they were standing around with no one with them, I asked if I could have my photo taken with them. They were gracious enough to oblige:


Ted King, me, and George Hincapie. I felt like I had won the lottery!

Unfortunately I missed seeing Dave Zabriskie but managed to snap a photo as he was leaving and I was settling in for a lobster after the ride. (Yup, you ride the Dempsey Challenge and they give you a lobster dinner at the end of the event.)


Lobster dinner

Photo by my friend, Spencer Reed.

I was questioning my fitness going into the event and spent a couple days on the trainer to loosen the legs a bit prior to the ride. Even though I didn’t ride the loop fast, due to my duties, I felt pretty good and didn’t struggle over the climbs like I thought I might.  I did, however, start to cramp after 45 miles, despite a Cliff Shot and some margarita shot bloks, Accelerade and water. I also experienced a bit of intestinal discomfort a few miles from the finish. I probably should have taken an almond butter & jelly sandwich with me for some “real” food.

It was nice to be on the Scott again. I know I’ve said it before, but this bike rocks! The Scott has my climbing cassette (12/27) on it so it was the one I wanted for the hills.

The course was a nice one, winding through great country roads in central Maine during foliage season. The sun would have made the foliage a bit more vibrant but it was a relatively mild day for this time of year.




I think the event was probably successful enough that it will become an annual event. You might add it to your cycling event calendar in the future!

Just About Perfect

Took the Scott in for service before the Dempsey Challenge Sunday. While it was there I had some cosmetic updates done by changing out the bar tape and hoods from red to white and also added white cable housing. This bike is so sweet looking! (Now I just need white bottle cages to complete the look.)


Cleaning My Bike and Proving My Point

During my recovery ride last night I kept hearing a clicking, or even a sort of squeaking noise. I couldn’t pinpoint the noise since it was intermittent but seemed to be more when I would go over rough pavement or pedaled.

Since it had been a few rides since I had cleaned my bike I thought it would be a good time to do it after my ride and see if I could investigate the odd noise.

As part of the process of cleaning the wheels I also wipe down each spoke. It was then that I realized on the rear wheel, opposite from the drive train, was a broken spoke, AHA! That was the source of the noise I heard! It’s weird that it was the sound of the broken spoke that made me check. Otherwise, I would have kept riding it. You see, the bike did not handle funny at all. I’ll attribute that to the integrity of my wheels – the team issue Zipp wheels.

I originally had them on my Aegis when we built it up. Then my husband bought another pair to put on the Scott, with the premise that I’d be able to swap the wheels between the two bikes. I must admit, these are incredible wheels and I’ve been very happy with them.

At any rate, I only proved that cleaning your bike after each ride is a good idea to give you a chance to inspect parts to make sure that all is in good working order. I only wish I had cleaned it earlier (over the weekend) because I fear I’ve been riding with this broken spoke for a few rides now. Shame on me and lesson learned!

Back on the Bike

I’ve been back on the bike more consistently lately. I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself on the bike, which is a relief because I was concerned I was losing a lot of fitness.

I almost missed out on a ride yesterday due to some thundershowers moving into the area around ride time. However, they never materialized so I headed out for a solo ride.

My timing was such that the CCCP ride group caught me about 200 meters down the street. I tagged on with them for a little while, as the pace was pretty moderate. I hung out in the back so I’d have an out if the pace did pick up, which it didn’t. So I turned off about 3 miles into the ride. I didn’t want the pace of the group ride dictating my training.

While I was on the ride an interesting thing happened to me – I dropped my chain when downshifting. That rarely happens to me. I know it also happened to another guy on the Saturday morning ride that I lead last weekend. He was able to get it back on while riding. Someone else commented that he was impressed he could do that. I told him it was pretty simple: shift up with the front deraileur and pedal.

So when it happened to me, my first thought was, “Oh crap!” Then my second was, “Don’t panic. Upshift and pedal.” I did and it worked like a charm. Of course that put me in a higher gear than I wanted going up the little rise where the chain fell off so I had to stand up to get back onto the group. Luckily they weren’t going that fast so my effort was just enough to put me on the back without redlining.

Hopefully this nice stretch of weather will continue so I can spend some nice days on the bike. If not, I’ll have to resort to riding in the rain. UGH!

The Best Kind of Service

I went out for a short bike ride tonight. I was really enjoying being on the bike when about 3 miles in I felt a rhythmical thumping with my bike. I stopped to investigate the situation but found nothing out of the ordinary.

Then I heard a loud boom. For a split second I didn’t know what it was because I had never experienced that sound before without it being some sort of fire arm. Then it dawned on me that my tire had blown. Actually, it was my tube. Good thing because I wouldn’t be able to easily replace my new limited edition white Grand Prix 4000 tires.

So I set about to change the tube. When I got ready to pump it up with my CO2 cartridge, it was empty. I’m not sure if it was a dud or what the situation was. Nevertheless, I had nothing to pump the tire up with so I had to call my husband for a lift.

When I spoke with him I indicated that he could bring me a CO2 cartridge or just come get me. I figured the latter would be the case and my ride would be over for today. I totally underestimated my husband. Not only had he brought some cartridges, but he brought another spare tube, had the pump in the car, in addition to my spare bike!! Wow! It was all there for whatever I chose so I could continue my ride. Now THAT’S service!

I chose to pump up the tire with the pump and be on my way. I’m so happy because it was a great afternoon to be on the bike, even if just for a little while.

Making an Adjustment

When I was out on a ride with a local group Thursday night I had a shifting problem. I could not shift into my large chain ring. I had to resort to reaching down and pulling on the cable that runs from the shifter to the derailieur.

Upon my return home I realized the cable was pretty loose and no doubt from me pulling on it. So I set out tightening it on my own and am happy to report I was able to fix it. During my subsequent rides it shifted flawlessly.

This was a simple fix. I would have normally taken the bike into the LBS for this kind of repair but after taking a bike maintenance class I was confident in my abilities to make this adjustment on my own. Yippee!

Bike Maintenance – Another Aspect of Cycling

One aspect of cycling that many of us cyclists don’t deal with is bike maintenance.

I’m not referring to the ordinary cleaning, lubing, break pad changing. I’m referring to the real nitty gritty of bike maintenance such as cassette/chain changing, crank changing, deraileur adjustments, cable adjustments/changing, etc.

I’ve always been impressed when I heard of someone building up a bike themselves. Not taking it to a shop, but actually putting in the labor themselves to create their very own bike.

So I had an opportunity to dabble in this today. The class was called Introduction to Brakes and Gear Adjustments. The instructor, Erik, preferred the students to come with a project to work on with your own bike. Well, I definitely had a good project: I wanted to bring in both my bikes, take the 12/25 cassette off the Scott and put it on the Aegis with a new chain and then put a new 12/27 cassette on the Scott.

I arrived to find that there were two of us in class. I did expect to be more and I hope there are more that take Erik’s class in the future, because it is well worth every penny!

The class started with an explanation of components and how they work. Then it was on to the hands on projects. I managed to complete my project in the time that was alotted for the class. Now I’ll have to go out and test the bikes to see if I like how they turned out. I might have to actually take out another link in the new chain on the Aegis. We erred on the side of leaving it a tad longer and it will require some testing of the bike to make sure it’s okay as is. But I know that’s easy enough to do on my own.

I had asked about instruction on wheel truing, another important aspect of bike maintenance. Erik informed me that others had asked about that type of class as well and he thought he might put together a separate class for that. He was happy to show me how to do it, as opposed to actually doing it. But I chose to tell him I’d be interested in taking the truing class – a detailed and hands on instruction was better than if he had just explained it in the short amount of time we had.

I hope you are able to find such a class like this in your area. If you are in the Greater Portland or Mid Coast areas of Maine, I highly recommend taking Erik’s classes. They are very informative and I guarantee you will get a lot of knowledge from them.

There is still so much more to learn about maintaining my bikes but at least I received a decent start today. I know that when my spare set of wheels come in, I’ll be able to put on a cassette and have them ready to use. Pretty cool!

If you are inclined to attempt some bike maintenance on your own, Erik recommends this book for your repairs:

Park Tool Book

It’s the Park Tool’s Big Blue Book of Repair. This book seemed to have a lot of good information with some great pictures to help guide you through your repairs.

The Scott Got an Upgrade

I have mentioned my husband’s bike, the Scott Speedster S30, previously. I’ve ridden in before and have been pretty impressed with it. Luckily my husband and I are about the same size so with a couple minor adjustments it’s a perfect fit.

After riding it I had mentioned to my husband that he should upgrade the 105 components to Ultegra. Part of me was just kidding. I have been riding Ultegra on my bikes now for a while and really like it a lot. The 105 components to me felt a bit clunky and rough.

To my surprise my husband took me seriously and upgraded this bike entirely with the new Ultegra SL groupo. I had also mentioned that I had thought some of upgrading my compact to a traditional double, though I still had reservations about my climbing abilities with a double as opposed to my current compact crank.

My intention was to try the Scott with it’s new upgrades as soon as possible. Unfortunately that took me longer than I had anticipated, mainly because I would immediately just go for the Aegis because it fits me like a glove and I know what to expect. Tonight was finally the night to ride the Scott.

Now, going from a fully carbon fiber bike to a fully aluminum bike, you expect it to feel different. You also expect to feel a lot more road vibration. I’m not going to tell you it was as smooth as my Aegis, but this bike is still a really sweet ride.

The new Ultegra SL groupo worked flawlessly and I really liked the double. Granted I wasn’t able to ascend any significant climbs but the ones I did ride, I rode well. At some point in the near future I’ll take it out to tackle some larger climbs to see how I do with it. If nothing else, it could become my training bike to work on my leg strength.

I was even tempted to take it with me to ride it at Lake Sunapee Road Race tomorrow, but I’ll go with the one I’m more comfortable, and the one I know I can climb with.