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Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Noob’s Guide to HTFU…

If you are a sissy, wuss, or (insert any other word that one would use to refer to one as weak and/or prissy here), this post will either make you flail your arms about, screaming at your computer or you will simply nod your head in acceptance. You may even leave a comment about how insensitive and mean I am. There will be a very small percentage who will be inspired. Inspired to finally put up, to try harder… To literally HTFU. This post is for you. There will be another small group who says, I’m not willing to do that and I’m okay with it – let those crazy bastards have their speed, I’ll ride with the slow folks and be happy about it. You have my respect and admiration. And one final… Those who have physical limitations but still get out on that bike to put in the miles, you already are hard (even if you believe speed and toughness are always related – they’re not).

Ah, we cyclists are a funny bunch. Some seek to punish everyone else, some just love the ride and others are bitter that everyone won’t ride at the speed of their choosing. If you’re not one of the laid back one’s when you have your ass handed to you, this post is for you. Now, keep in mind, I ride with guys who hand me my ass almost every Tuesday night. Some are ranked, some were ranked at one time and others are budding (hopeful) pro’s and the fast age groupers, and I’m not usually that fast (though I did manage to keep up once twice, or close to it after an entire season of trying). While I’m not the fastest of fellas, my recovery pace would send your average bike rider into fits. So, how does one go from just your average 12 mile an hour tooler to a stud? HTFU, it’s actually one of the rules of cycling.

Have you ever pushed yourself so hard that you puked? Does your heart rate spike at 95 as you’re catching breeze going around a corner at 15 mph? When you get dropped, do you complain that the others ride too fast – do you leave the group, complain that “it’s not fair” or switch to running? Do you plan your bike rides to avoid hills? Have you ever wished that the group you want to ride with was slower?

The answers to the questions above, for me at least – one of the slow fast guys are: Yes, often actually. No. No. No. No.

Let’s try a few more: Do you regularly start out with the idea of having a nice, enjoyable, easy ride only to end up spending every last ounce of energy you had to give, wondering where that came from? Have you ever done telephone pole sprints? When you get to a hill do you shift down to an easier gear, or up? Have you ever even thought, “this isn’t fair”? When you get to a monster of a hill, something more than a mile long, do you enjoy the ride up almost as much as the ride back down? Do you smile on the way up that hill, knowing that the effort will make you stronger?

My answers are: Yes, regularly. Yes. Harder gear on training night so I have to apply the brakes on club ride night. No. Yes. Absolutely.

Now, if your answers are any different, how can you possibly expect to keep up with me? Some of the guys I ride with are a lot harder than that – how can I hope to keep up with them if I won’t work as hard as they do (though one significant problem of mine is that I don’t take enough days off – so that’s Reverse Super Hard right there).

The answer is to Harden The F@ck Up or don’t. There’s just no pretty way to put it. In the end, there’s no magic way to pedal that bike that will make you ride fast without working for it (I know, I’ve looked for it). In fact, if I really look at it closely, if I were to simply relax at this point, to take it easy on every ride from here on out and just try to enjoy being out on the bike I would get slower. This bit of self-knowledge comes from the adage, “it never gets easier, you just get faster” – I happen to be in complete agreeance with a friend of mine who took the point I made one step further. At first I didn’t quite buy into that, but have found that it is, alas, true.

Now, that is mainly for those who whine – or more, those who complain that other people ride faster, thus dropping them. In fact, rather than only complain about your attitude, allow me to pass on the proper attitude to maintain in such cases:

How fast a group of others decides to ride has nothing to do with me. The reason that I can’t keep up is because I don’t work as hard as they do. If I don’t want to get dropped I have to train just as hard as they do (if not harder). What I am capable of today is in direct proportion to what I did to get here yesterday. If that’s 25 mph, great – if it’s only 16 and the group rides 22, it’s:

Memorize those lines and if you ever get that whiny feeling again, recite them as if they were Gospel because that’s the honest to God truth. My slow ass is nobody else’s responsibility – unless, of course, you are on a no-drop ride. In that case, complain away ’cause you probably got hosed as long as you were faster than 12 mph. Another very important aspect of this little notion is that it’s okay if you don’t want to work that hard. There’s nothing set in stone that says you have to ride so fast and produce this many watts – hell, do what you like! The trick is that you can’t whine about making your choice if others don’t prescribe to it.

Onward. So what is the essence of Harden The F@ck Up? Climbing mountain passes for fun is considered hard, as is technical mountain biking. Cold weather riding (below freezing), riding in sleet or rain storms (not thunderstorms – that’s not hard, that’s dumb) and snow – that’s hard. Riding as fast as your legs will propel you, that’s hard. Pushing passed your limits, puking on a ride – they’re all hard.

Now I started out, as a pure cycling noob, on a Huffy mountain bike three sizes too small and the best I could do was 14 mph for 4 miles. Even so, I took that bike out every day until I found something proper – then I rode that just as hard as I could until I bought an old road bike and I rode the wheels off of that… 17 then 18, then 19 and 20 mph over 10 miles, then 13, then 16, then 20 and 30 miles… Then I bought a real road bike and I pushed that one even harder. I went out every day that I could. Some days I rode hard, others were just an easy spin to loosen up the legs. I rode in shit that would make most people stay inside – and I’m one of the weak hard guys. I was dropped every damn night I rode with the advanced group for a year before I finally started to be able to stay with them – but that didn’t stop me from going out there. I used the opportunity to learn. Who I could hang behind, who would fall off the back, where I needed to position myself so that I wouldn’t burn up on the hills… I watched the fast guys – where did they rest? I learned something new every time I went out. I watched, and rode and trained and kept at it… And after all of that time I finally made it – it wasn’t glorious, I had to hide the last half of the ride, but I did stay on until the very end (call it close enough for government work).

Now, as I wrote earlier, there is no magic pedal stroke that will make you fast. The only thing that works, for anyone, is to bust your ass (or start young – LOL). The problem lies in the fact that you personalize the fact that you’re not as fast as some people. I’ve heard a number of reasons: The arrogant bastards just want to hurt me (or the slower folks), men don’t want to be beaten by a girl – I just heard this one from a friend of my wife last night…

If you truly believe a person riding fast has anything to do with you, that says more about you than them – with one exception: There may be a fast person or two who may want to shake the slower folks who hide in the back (like me)… If you’re one of those hanger’s on, like me (I have to get just a little bit faster), the proper perspective is this: would you want to do all of the work so a handful of others can benefit without helping? You’d have to be pretty arrogant (and kind of a jerk) to feel entitled to making others do all of the work, no?

Yes.

I’m A Cycle-holic… Part 1,263

I’ve had two days off the bike, both work related. While it did sprinkle on Wednesday I could have ridden. Instead I napped because I’d been up since 3 am and I was wiped out. Yesterday it was early to rise just so I could get into the office for a bit to take care of paperwork before heading out to manage the largest job I’ve ever done. I had to make a choice today – either work late and miss my bike ride or head back down again Friday morning. I was not going down there this morning. I made it home with just enough time to scarf down a couple of pieces of pizza before heading back out the door to take my girls to softball practice – during which I took a much needed nap. I was beat. Thoroughly.

Oh how I’ve missed my bike. After more than a hundred miles in four days, the two days off, I wanted a ride – just one hour’s respite from the craziness that has become my day job. Just one hour to release a massive jolt of endorphins into my system. Just one hour to push the stress out of my body. Just one hour to kick any hint of depressive thinking from my in-melon committee right in the collective ass. Just one hour to stretch my legs after my most memorable club ride on Tuesday. It just wasn’t to be.

Ah, almost the weekend when I’ll be free to pedal till my heart is content – until there’s no room for stress. I found myself daydreaming about riding in the middle of the mess yesterday and I smiled. I like to think about racing some of my customers and some of my guys (the one’s who are necessary but a pain in my ass). I like to think about how I’d leave them puking, panting and whining on the side if the road.

Sitting here on the couch last night, watching a Tiger’s game that I already know the outcome of (they played at 1 pm), I’m thinking about the ride I’ll go on with my wife on Friday (today) on our 16th wedding anniversary, then about the restaurant we’ll be eating at (Da Eduardo’s, one of the finest in a 50 mile radius) with my buddy Pete and his wife. Then about the 35 miles or so I’ll ride on Saturday. Oh how I’m going to tear my ass up some hills on Saturday. Then some fellowship at the running club before heading home – the long way. The sunshine, working its magic on my awesome tan lines. Maybe a day on the fat tire bike for Sunday.

You know, now that I think about it, life is pretty good. The work will be there on Monday morning and I’ll kick it’s ass just like I always have…

I’m a cycle-holic, my name is Jim, and I’d much rather this reality than the alcoholic reality where I would be thinking about putting a bullet in my brain because “it’s just not fair” that life isn’t easier. I’m a cycle-holic because it helps me to love being me – even when being me kind of sucks.

This can be enjoyed by anyone. All it takes is a bike, a helmet, shoes, pedals and shorts… And the willingness to push those pedals just a little bit harder than is comfortable..

Personal Bests Abound…

Yesterday was an absolute roller coaster at work.  I’ve got a ridiculously large job with an idiotic schedule that will be nearly impossible to meet, though we’re giving it hell.  By the time I headed home I was fit to be tied with the newfound knowledge that I’ve become a veritable babysitter – and an expensive one at that.

I arrived home with minutes to pack up and head out the door.  I kissed my awesome wife and my two daughters, donned my favorite USA cycling jersey and my $150 shorts (dammit, I still can’t believe I paid a hundred bucks for a pair of shorts…even at 33% off, that’s a lot of cheese, but they are worth it), got my glasses, helmet, shoes, tire pump and ran over to the meeting spot.  I cut my warm up short – normally five – down to three miles.  First, I didn’t want to have to rush, and second I just wanted to chill out on the warm up – sometimes Mike and I feed off each other and I end up working way too hard.

We started at 6:01.  Conditions were utterly perfect.  Sunny skies, 70 degrees, and a tiny breeze out of the west with gusts up to maybe 10 mph.  The first mile was very easy at 19 mph to give the group time to form up.  The second and third miles were slow as well (3:08 & 3:06).

Then all hell broke loose.  2:39, 2:46, 2:39, 2:40, 2:30, 2:21, 2:22, 2:23 (no kidding), 2:55 (climbs), 2:34, 2:31, 2:18 (fastest mile), 2:41, 2:38, 2:36, 3:05 (climbing), 2:56, 2:36, 2:36, 2:48 – and that’s where I dropped off for the first time.  Folks, there were two things going on at that point.  First, I got behind a guy in a baby blue Bianchi who was yo-yoing on purpose.  He was pushing the Big Dog/12 gear (rather than cycling) with a cadence of about 50-60…  He’d get on the wheel of the guy in front of him, then fade back five feet, then hammer back up, then fade back again…  Absolutely ridiculous – I’d even dropped back at one point from the front of the pack just to get away from him.  On top of that, the head of the pack was yo-yoing as well, trying to shake loose the stragglers in the back.  We climbed what hills there were out there at a ridiculous pace – I never dropped out of the big ring.

I grew tired of the yo-yo at 23 miles, fell to the back and quietly slipped off.  Unfortunately there was another fella who dropped a few seconds before I did who said there was an easy shortcut to get back ahead of the group then latch back on so I quickly changed my mind and decided to go with him.  Sure enough the shortcut, which lopped maybe a half-mile off of the route, worked and we came out 500 yards in front of the main group.  I latched back on for another four miles (2:36-2:48) – same yo-yo.  At that point, I really did have enough.  I slipped back again and latched off, on purpose, with only four miles to go.  Even with the last four miles ridden easy, at an 18.5 mph pace I still turned in a personal best time of 1:30:30 for 32.2 miles, with an average of 21.6 mph (I was over 22.1 when I dropped).  On one level I am a little bit bummed that I made the choice I did.  A small part of me chastised the rest for not hardening up and finishing the last four.  On the other hand, the rest of me is purely happy with what I did do (most miles I’d ever spent with the lead group by a long shot).  Either way, the pace was absolutely furious.

So, even with the 1/2 mile cheat added back in I turned in a personal best on the route and that is awesome.  The sheer number of miles between 24 and 26 mph were crazy, also leading to a personal best for 10 miles: (25:24).  Simply awesome.

Now, I’d been worried that I was less fit this year, in terms of speed…  My miles are down and my overall ‘easy’ pace was a little slower than last year (18.5 mph instead of 19 mph) – even my all-out efforts were a couple of tenths down until a few weeks ago.  The last few club rides though, show that this isn’t necessarily the case.  Part of the drop, I learned just a couple of days ago, is due to traffic.  I went out for an easy ride and maintained an 18.5 mph pace (I know this by gear I was pushing) into the wind all the way to the halfway point.  When I turned to loop back though, I only had an 18 average – Endo’s auto-pause.  I expected this to go up a few tenths with the breeze at my back, but by the time I returned home I was up to 18.6 and I’d hardly worked to do it.  In other words, I’m slower because of traffic, not because I can’t ride as fast as I did last year.

In the end, it’s all good news.  Oh, and on finishing last night, the endorphins were absolutely kicking!  I had a sense of peace and tranquility that I haven’t felt in weeks.  It was beautiful and it will help me to get through the last half of the week – I needed it.

It’s all good baby.

 

Read this now

You know that plate that holds your shifter cables…

Friendly tip of the day… You know that plate that holds your shifter cables underneath the bottom bracket?.. Yeah, don’t forget to lube where the cables slide through.

I did. Uh, forget to lube that. You know, a funny thing happens when you sweat a lot, like I do, when you’re riding…at reasonably high speeds – all the sweat that doesn’t dry on the frame works down the frame…to that plate, and corrodes the cables. Add to that an occasional puddle or a downpour and the cables seize up.

Doh!

Stiff shifting tonight… Lubed ’em up, good as new. Go figure. Forgot about the ride right after a rain last week too.

Now I Get It… The Noob’s Guide To Derailleur Index Adjustments

I wrote yesterday that I’ve been having trouble with the front derailleur on my mountain bike.  Well yesterday afternoon, out on the single track, the mess wreaked havoc on my ride.  When you’re trying to ride a bike up hills that you can’t run up, you kind of have to have the third chain ring, and it’s usually all of a sudden.  I ended up horsing it into the small chain ring  and riding the last two-thirds of the ride in that – at least I wouldn’t have to worry about getting up the tougher hills in the second loop – they’re huge.  So I left my bike in the truck last night and decided to get to the office early and see if I couldn’t get it working properly again.

Now, I’ve messed with index adjustments before, even got lucky one time and did it quickly, but this one had me nervous…  I’ve spectacularly screwed up my derailleur settings before taking well over an hour to get them back to square before I got lucky and fixed it.  So it was with that memory still vividly etched in my memory that I tackled the front derailleur.  To make things even more interesting, just a couple of months ago I had a new chain, bottom bracket and crank installed on the bike – which brought with it the specter of having to adjust the H and L set screws into the equation (generally a no-no) and after messing with it yesterday just to get it into the little ring in the first place (using the L screw), I had my hands full today – or so I thought.

I finally get it.  I had the whole thing trail ready in ten minutes.  All I had to do was consult my Bike Repair App a couple of times to make sure I was turning the set screws and the barrel adjusters the right way.

So here’s what I was doing wrong:  I was making adjustments in whatever gear I happened to be in at the time.  A proper adjustment can only be made when the chain is in the smallest possible ring or cog for the derailleur I’m working on.  In other words, if I’m working on the front derailleur, I want the small chain ring and the biggest cassette gear.  If I’m working on the rear derailleur I’m in the smallest cassette gear and the big dog up front.  Once I got this straight, it was easy as pie.

A few minor tips…  The barrel adjusters tend to end up twisted all the way “loose” (clockwise) – some mechanics (one of mine) even do this on purpose.  This is unwise and unnecessary.  Best to twist it all the way clockwise, then a couple of full turns counter-clockwise.  This allows for minor adjustments incase you didn’t quite get it right when you try the bike on the ground (rather than in the stand).  DON’T MESS WITH THE SET SCREWS.  Once you get your bike properly indexed you’ll just end up going back and putting them back where they were in the first place – the chance that you need to mess with those is somewhere between slim and none (one of these days I’ll learn).  The steps in the Bike Repair app are pretty much right on, just follow that and you’ll be good.  Finally, if your bike isn’t shifting perfectly, tinker with the index adjustment.  You cannot get it so wrong that a real mechanic can’t fix it.  Had I not tinkered with my bikes so much I’d have been lost on the trail yesterday and I’d be stuck taking it into the shop this afternoon – and paying someone to fix something that only took ten minutes, with a 5mm Allen wrench.

Note to self: No time trials before mountain biking…

I went out mountain biking with my buddy Tim this afternoon after cutting the back forty. Now I like to put in some miles on the weekend but riding with my wife yesterday, I didn’t want to burn her out with too many so we kept that to 30. This morning I got the bright idea that I’d take the Trek out for a test drive to make sure I got my crank assembled properly before the club ride on Tuesday – this way I’d have some time to tinker… So with gusts up to 15 mph I headed out for a short suffer fest, just eight miles – one north, two west, one south then back the way I came – with four stop signs that cannot be run. My first mile was pretty quick with the crosswind but with the wind at my back I really put the hammer down. Even with two stops for traffic signs I was at a 23 mph average after three miles. I started to slow down after four and my average was down to 22 at the end of five. Then I turned I to the wind, put my head down and pushed for all I was worth. I tuckered out about midway through mile six and just held on till I got home and still ended up at 20 mph.

Then I went mountain biking on half dead legs. Now, in my post earlier this morning I wrote that he was going to hurt me… Oh my, I was right. I had all kinds of mechanical problems with the front derailleur so I had to ride the first third with only my middle chain ring. Some of the climbs kicked my butt. We stopped for a second and I monkeyed with it till I could get the small ring and rode the rest with only the bottom seven gears – and I still beat my last time by several minutes, even with a crash (picked the wrong line on a granny gear climb and timed a pedal stroke poorly getting my foot jammed on a root – dead stop, down, that fast).

This gets a bit interesting though because I was pretty much cooked at 8 miles (of 13 total). We were at the end of the easier loop pulling 4:40 minute miles. The second loop is much more technical with sharper climbs and my legs were starting to burn. Each climb hurt, each descent a few seconds of relief. But I didn’t let myself get down, I didn’t let that sinking feeling take hold – I never even got to a mile countdown, never tried to figure out how many minutes I had left to go. I just kept rolling, hard as I could, and then we were done. Freaking cooked. Note to self: No more time trials before mountain biking with Tim. Good God. On the good side I will sleep well tonight.

The weather for the next few days is going to be perfect for cycling so tomorrow will be an easy 16 followed by the club ride on Tuesday. No rest for the wicked weary (see below).

My Cannondale SR400… It’s ALIVE!

My old trusty Cannondale SR400 survives!

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My first road bike had gone to my wife, and was to be sold as it’s one size too small for me, when I bought a newer bike for her now that she’s shown an interest in the sport…

Well, as used bikes go, it’s spent the last several months forgotten, relegated to a corner of my garage with an obnoxiously large padded saddle on it, and no pedals. The saddle was a noob-ish mistake. It was my first saddle and I didn’t believe the notion that no padding could be comfortable. $35 down the tube, that thing sucks ass beyond fifteen miles. I found I was spectacularly ignorant when I finally bought a properly sized but thinly padded Specialized Romin saddle for my 5200.

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Well, yesterday morning my wife expressed interest in riding with me to the running club for my usual 30 mile ride and I thought about that old, trusty Cannondale sitting there, all lonely, in its corner of the garage. I actually felt bad for the bike that got me hooked on road riding, then did the same for my wife, so I made an executive decision. Bikes are meant to be ridden so I treated it like a pet, with emotions… I went outside and got that bike out if the corner, took the saddle and pedals off of my 5200 (after measuring the saddle height of course – I had set it by feel, not based on a measurement) and put them on that Cannondale and gave her some time in the sun.

There were only a few moments that I really missed my Trek on that ride… With seven instead of nine gears, there’s a bit to be desired for gear selection. Also, damn, there’s a reason the cycling world went to STI shifters long ago. On the other hand, I was able to spend the ride home in the big ring rather than spinning in the middle ring to avoid cross-chaining.

On the other hand, because the frame is so small, in order to get to the right distance for leg travel, the saddle is a good eight inches over the top tube and six over the bar top. In other words, I can get really low and still be quite comfortable. There are problems with the setup though – I’ve got a really long stem to make up for an otherwise short cockpit, the crank arms are too short, things of that nature. But really, for short, easy rides with my wife and for a crappy weather bike, it should do just fine.

So I rode that 30 miles with my lovely wife and a smile on my face. Happy to be sharing the time with my babymama (Elvis sense of the word, not the newer, disrespectful ‘baby’s mother’ version) and to give my old Cannondale a run and her due. When we got back, I decided to hang on to my Cannondale – to get me to the proper number of bikes to own without fear of adding “S” to the equation:

Rule #12// THE CORRECT NUMBER OF BIKES TO OWN IS N+1.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

To wrap this post up, I had a big chuckle about a few tiny setup issues that stuck out like a sore thumb within a quarter mile, that I’d completely missed as a completely green noob… First, the left hood was cocked in towards the center of the bike, about 8 mm to a full centimeter! I thought it was good when I gave the bike to my wife. Second, the stem was a millimeter off center – not much but it sure is noticeable now. Such is the transformation from green noob to, well, something a little more knowledgable than a green noob.

Later on today I hit the trails with my buddy Tim – who just picked up a new 2013 carbon Cannondale Scalpel. I’m a stronger overall cyclist than Tim, but his trail experience is light years beyond mine – then match his $3,500 Scalpel against my $400 3700 and this is gonna hurt – but good.

Open Crank Surgery – A Creak Too Far… A Noob’s Guide to Bicycle Wrenching

The fear of the crank.

I’m all about doing minor adjustments on my road bike, but generally speaking I haven’t liked messing with the big things because in the end, I ride it too much to be okay with any down time in having to take it to the shop because I screwed something up. It’s come time to change this attitude and as I’ve become more comfortable with my bike, learned to seek guidance from my Bike Repair App, and watched the mechanics at the bike shop, I’m finding that it’s high time I grow up a little bit and start with the serious tinkering.

Last year I installed a new 30 tooth granny gear chain ring with the help of the owner of my local bike shop so I learned then that tinkering with the crank, at least a self-extracting Ultegra crank, is ridiculously easy – as long as certain steps are not missed. Well fast forward to about three weeks ago and I began to notice a clicking sound when I really got on the pedals. It developed into a mild creak before long and then morphed into a clacking sound every time the pedals went round under extreme watts (say anything over 400). Now let me make this very clear, under normal riding conditions there was no noise whatsoever and I’m not cranking out the big wattage all that often so this was a very fleeting problem at first, barely enough to raise a concern. In fact, it sounded like my recurring quill stem creak and at first I was led in that direction because it only occurred when climbing. The first day that I got the clacking sound I had a very good idea where I needed to look – it started in the middle of a 30 mile Saturday ride. The first sign (within a mile), I pulled over and got out my handy-dandy multi-tool from my bike bag and checked the chain ring bolts to make sure they were tight (there was one that took an eighth of a turn) so I hoped for the best and headed on. Within another mile I knew that this wasn’t going to be so easy.

On getting home, I pulled out the big gun Allen wrench (8mm) and went at the crank arm bolts… Sure enough, the left side was loose. Not much, but enough. Once that was tightened down I had a feeling I’d be re-addressing the issue. If I’ve learned one thing about bikes it’s that if I’ve got a metal on metal creak, click or clack, tightening alone will not solve the problem. The parts must be disassembled, cleaned, greased and put back together to really get rid of the noise. The noises are caused by stress between metal on metal parts. Still, I had hope and crossed fingers on my side – which, that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee (in other words hope and crossed fingers isn’t worth much).

Sure enough, the clicks started again last week on climbing hills – so I had a pretty good idea what needed to be done (I just didn’t want to do it). Well yesterday I pulled out my big-boy pull-ups and got to work. This post has been fairly descriptive (and verbose) thus far for a reason – first, if you recognize this problem but can’t figure it out, now you’ll have a new (and more likely) place to look. Second, these phantom clicks and clacks – if you’re a noob (like me), aren’t always easy to find and diagnose. At this point, if you find you have this problem, use the Bike Repair App to complete the repairs – it has a full photo guided, step-by-step tutorial for each step (in case I miss something) and it really is a simple fix that should only take about 10-15 minutes if you’re slow and deliberate like me. In the end it took me two hours though.

At first, it was just going to be the crank arms but once I got the crank arm off of the left and then the right (with the chain rings), I thought, “hey, I might as well do this right and clean the chain rings really good while I’ve got this off the bike”. Then I thought, “hey, while I’m at that, I might as well pull the chain rings apart and clean and lube the whole assembly”. Then I thought, “Jeez, it would be a shame to do all of that work just to put a dirty chain back on – I should clean the drivetrain too”. Then I thought… No, I’m just kidding – after cleaning the entire drivetrain I put everything back together:

Chain ring side removed

Chain ring side removed

See, a wee bit gnarly.  Not nasty, but can use some love.

See, a wee bit gnarly. Not nasty, but can use some love.

Disassembled - and CLEAN

Disassembled – and CLEAN

Lube threads liberally - the only time liberal is okay (just so you know)

Lube threads liberally – the only time liberal is okay (just so you know)

That's SHINY, baby!

That’s SHINY, baby!

Note:  The stamps on the chain rings line up - the small two on the back

Note: The stamps on the chain rings line up – the small two on the back

...and the big on the front (the pedal is down - the stamps are up) - THIS IS IMPORTANT

…and the big on the front (the pedal is down – the stamps are up) – THIS IS IMPORTANT

On to the stand...  I built mine - for like $7

On to the stand… I built mine – for like $7

...and Bob's your uncle.

…and Bob’s your uncle.

He's still your uncle.

He’s still your uncle.

Now, here’s the deal and it really isn’t that difficult. First, my Ultegra crank is what’s called “Self-Extracting”. You don’t need a puller to take this apart and put it back together (brilliant!) so I’m just going to stick with what I know so I don’t write something stupid and get caught by someone who really knows what they’re doing… Now, ready? Take off the first crank arm (may as well start with the one that doesn’t have the rings on it, eh?). Take off the dust cap, lube all of the threads and put everything back together. Now, make sure that the pedals line up properly before you start cranking this down please (!!!). Then do the other side. It’s that easy dude. 10-15 minutes if you take your time.

If you think I’m a little kooky about all of the cleaning (I do go to a rather extreme length to keep the chain and drivetrain clean – I degrease and clean the chain every 200-250 miles rather than every 350-400 as recommended and do crazy things as detailed above)… See that chain? It came on the bike and I’ve put 8,000 miles on it. On my last check two weeks ago, there was about 1/32 of an inch of stretch and it depends on the angle at which you look at the ruler (1/8″ is time to change the chain or 4 times my current measurement). It is suggested to replace a chain ever 2,000 to 5,000 kilometers – that’s 3,100 miles. Figure the normal mechanic’s suggestion to replace things about 25% sooner than necessary and you’re looking at about 5,000 miles – and I’ll easily get this full season in on that chain (figure around 11,000 miles on the chain?). A clean bike is a happy me.