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Monthly Archives: January 2020

Santini Pro Replica Jersey Review

I picked up my first piece of Santini kit because a blog that I follow wrongly suggested that Santini’s pro sleeveless cycling jerseys were all kinds of fantastic. Santini kit does look great and I’ve heard nothing but good about them, but sleeveless and pro in the same post? That just didn’t seem… right.

And that would be because Santini doesn’t make a sleeveless cycling jersey, let alone a pro sleeveless cycling jersey.

Santini does make running singlets and triathlon tops, but their cycling section is dedicated solely to sleeved jerseys. Even their women’s jerseys all have sleeves, too (though they do make a tank).

Anyway, while I was there, I remembered Santini is a sponsor of Trek Segafredo… and my Trek just happens to be black and red, so I figured while I was there, I’d check on the kit. They were selling a smashing cap for $15. I clicked it into my shopping cart immediately.

Now, it just so happened, when I was navigating through the teams I spotted Ducati Corse…. now that’s a jersey, right there! It was glorious.

$105… I didn’t even blink. Clicked it into my shopping cart and checked out. Friends, that’s a f***in’ sharp jersey right there (I got a nice Christmas bonus this year so I spent some of it).

Well, my small haul showed up yesterday after 11 days.

The cap, cotton, is fantastic. It’ll become one of my favorites.

And the jersey… now, the jersey is sexy.

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You know when you’ve got a high quality piece of kit in your hands, and this is that (though what is it with Italians and skinny arms?!). When you’ve got a quality piece if kit, even your winter pot roast and potato body looks good with it on.

I ordered a large, figuring Italian sizing would run a little smaller than we’re used to in the USA, and I was right. The fit is perfect, and surprisingly very close to “true to size” if a little tight in the arms.

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Finally, I want to delve into the rule pertaining to “Pro Kit”.  Technically, according to “the rules”, one isn’t supposed to purchase pro kit unless it’s “old school” pro kit, at which point, it becomes cool again.  Five or ten years ago, the rule had some bite to it.  Nowadays, it’s finally become fashionable to support to your favorite teams – a lot like they do with football, the other football, baseball, or hockey.  I am embracing the idea that this should be allowed as it is in the other sports… especially due to the fact that we cycling fans can actually wear said team-supporting kit whilst actually participating in the sport the kit was meant for.  In this case of “The Rules”, I think it might be time to retire the “No Pro Kit” rule.  It just doesn’t make sense anymore.  It may have at one point, but give it a rest already.

Just a thought.  Ride hard, my friends.  Santini’s kit is good stuff.  My new Ducate Corse jersey will find a regular place in my summer rotation (and the Trek Segafredo cap will be a regular when I’m on my Trek).

Recovery Can Only Begin After I Stop Digging the Hole I’m Trying to Bury Myself In… AKA The Bottom

I thought of the title for this post a few days ago and saved it in my Drafts folder… then, the Daily Reflections from last Thursday:

Why all this insistence that every AA must hit bottom first?  The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the AA program unless they have hit bottom.  For practicing AA’s remaining Eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking.
12 Steps & 12 Traditions pg 24

I had a chuckle about the “coincidence”.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my bottom lately… erm, no, not that one; the point at which I decided it was time to put down the shovel and stop digging a hole that seemed it was becoming exceedingly difficult to get out of.  While I had some very bad things happen in my life, my bottom was actually pretty high comparatively (and for this I am unquestionably grateful – I consider the fact that I was able to quit at with a relatively high bottom, at just 22-years-old a rather large miracle).

I’ve seen high bottoms and the lowest of low bottoms.  I’ve seen people who should be certain they’ve hit their’s continue digging without even looking up.  I’ve seen otherwise intelligent people, oblivious to their impending doom that I could see coming for miles.  From the outside, it’s a bit like looking at a slow-motion train wreck in which the train runs into a semi truck carrying dynamite.  You don’t want to be up close and personal for that.  It’s better viewed at a safe distance.  That’s usually not how it works, though.  Watching someone go through it hurts.  Watching what happens to the family that absorbs the blast is worse.

The significance of one’s bottom is this; it’s not a singular point at which someone all of a sudden realizes, “Holy shit, I’m completely out of control!  I think I’ll stop being out of control!”

You’re better off trying to control the climate.

The bottom is simply the point at which we decide to stop digging our own grave… and hitting our family with the shrapnel from the train wreck.

That last point is the most important part.  We ego-maniacs with inferiority complexes tend to think it’s all about us.

Said Every Alcoholics Anonymous Noob Evah!

Mrs. Bgddy showed this to me last night… I LMFAO… OL!

Bitch, you better reshuffle… holy $#!+ that’s the best line ever.  The funniest thing is, we all know that person.

Irony.  It ain’t just a mineral in the mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Indoor Winter Cycling Training; Build Strength in the Winter While You’re On the Hamster Wheel of Doom…

It used to be I’d use the winter to keep my legs moving.  I rode my Trek on a trainer all winter long, four or five days a week and all was well.  I’d take it easy, as most do, and just put in my time to keep some of my legs for spring.

I’d lose a bit of my power over the cold months, but I could build it back come springtime.  Especially with hill sprints.

Spring was a lot of work, though, once I started riding with friends regularly.  Getting in shape for Tuesday night took a lot of want to and it seemed I’d struggle playing catch up with my friends.  It got to a point I started to dread spring… a time when we should be happy we’re finally outside again.  That was the impetus for changing how I structured my workouts leading up to springtime.

The next winter, I still took it easy from November until December 31st, but come January 1st, I put the hammer down on my training.  The thinking went like this: why wait til spring when I could constructively use my winter training to build strength, then spring wouldn’t be so bad.  It’s not like I had anything better to do.

I began using my harder gears on the trainer.  I maxed out the resistance on my Giant Cyclotron and only used my last three gears.  I had to build up to the 52/11, too.  I’d start using 52/14 and 52/13.  A month in, I’d start using the 52/12.  A couple of weeks later, the 52/11.  By the time we rolled our bikes outside my hard days in the saddle were spent entirely in my hardest gear, on the hardest resistance setting.

That spring was fantastic.  My friends spent their spring catching up to me.

I used that training system for the last three-ish years and I love it.  It’s not perfect, of course, getting worked up to hammer out 45 minutes on the trainer takes some doing, but the benefit is huge.

This year I upgraded my trainer to a Cyclops Magneto trainer and that’s allowed me to work even harder.  I’m already progressing to two hard days in a row (though I sure am feeling it as I’m writing this!) and I’m pushing a gear I don’t know I could have at the end of last year.

My Cyclops dumb trainer may be dumb, but it packs a pretty sizable wallop in terms of resistance.  The benefits of getting the hard training done before spring rolls around are numerous.

  1. First, with the rise of Zwift, training has become a lot more enjoyable… all of the big hitters are hammering all winter-long now.  If I rest on last year’s laurels, springtime is even more brutal than it used to be.
  2. Next, I don’t have to worry about traffic, balance, stopping, or… anything.  I can just hammer.
  3. Spring is a lot more enjoyable when I am at least equal or close to my friends who have been putting the hard miles in all winter long.  It’s even better if I can be a little ahead.
  4. Winter is a great time to improve one’s power to the pedals.  Think about it, why wait till spring when you’re just putting grind time in anyway?  Why not use the time to do some good rather than just spin?  Winter, when everyone else is complaining about having to ride the trainer, is perfect for getting stronger.

Good times are only a couple of months off.  I’ve found it’s better to be ready for them than dangling at the back with my tongue precariously close to my spokes.

What to Do About Bad Meetings? They Can Be Useful, Too.

I’ve got a friend who is one of the more obnoxious AA’s I know. He is a miserable person and he has a big problem with positive people. You can imagine how he and I get along.

But you’d be wrong.

As long as we don’t get too deep, we do quite well.  The trick is keeping our loose friendship shallow.  We don’t want to try to save the world together, but we regularly show up to help each other out.

Where this gets important is what he teaches me.  Most will take someone they don’t see eye to eye with and keep them at arm’s length where they can’t do any damage.  If I treated my friend that way, I’d have been deprived of an excellent lesson in life.  He teaches me what not to do. He shows me what life could be like if I constantly look outside me for understanding and contentment.  And, to be honest, I hope a little of my happiness rubs off on him.

More than a dozen years ago, I attended a meeting with a dear friend of Mrs. Bgddy’s family.  He is recovering and has a lot more time that I do.  A LOT.  So he took me to a meeting one day, I can’t remember the why and how of it, down in Ann Arbor.  The meeting was comical.  We had a guy show up with his scrubs on, his hospital badges on, and a stethoscope around his neck.  I’m pretty sure he wanted everyone to know he worked at the local hospital.  I could understand the scrubs, but the badges and stethoscope?  Too much.  We had another few people newer to the program show up as well.  He and I could have been the only two with decent time.  The meeting was a shit-show and afterward, as we were walking out, he said, “Wasn’t that a shitty meeting!?  Did you see that ridiculous guy with the stethoscope around his neck?”  I was taken aback… I’d been recently lectured on finding the positive in every meeting, no matter what (by more than a few from my home group).  And here’s this old-timer exclaiming that a meeting was indeed shitty?

Folks, it was a shitty meeting.  And I never went back.  Some shit you just don’t have to sit through a second time… and I didn’t miss it, either.  It’s good to branch out and explore new meetings, but I don’t have to be a glutton for punishment, either.

When I was much newer in recovery, maybe a year in, I was invited to a “Men’s Dignitary” meeting.  My sponsor asked if I really wanted to go.  He said it was an interesting meeting and it might be good for me.  I went to eight of them, and with each one I tried to find the good in the meeting.  I tried to find the good in a dozen old-timers berating and hammering on noobs for being noobs.  After a couple of meetings they started in on me, but having been around for a year, I knew a little bit about how to handle myself with a pompous asshole or two.  They left me alone, for the most part after that, but after each meeting I would still leave feeling worse than when I walked in the door.

I talked to my sponsor about it and we decided together that it wasn’t worth going back.  If I was worse off after the meeting, why mess with it?  I didn’t just stop going, though.  I discussed my feelings and my motives honestly with my sponsor first.

The guys at that meeting were onto something.  I had a girlfriend who had just six months clean and she was a bit of a basket case (what can I say, that’s all I could attract at the time, I was an improving mess, but a mess nonetheless).  They hammered me about her for two straight meetings before laying off after I gave some back.  Eventually I did break it off because the relationship was a dead end and she was turning abusive.  Having been raised right, a good guy, I gave her one bite at that apple, following the old, “men don’t hit women” norm.  I told her if she tried punching me again, though, I was going to hit her back.  It wasn’t long after that I decided I needed a break from women altogether and took a year to work on myself so I could attract someone better (it ended up being a year and a half).   She wound up in a mental institution immediately after the breakup… and after my break from relationships, I ended up meeting my wife, and we’re happily together 24 years later.

The problem with the men’s dignitary meeting wasn’t in message, it was in delivery.

There are meetings out there where the quality is “less than”.  There are people in the program out there who are “less than”.  It comes with the territory.  The trick is to find what I can use to be a better me in those situations.  These lessons are a lot easier to pick up now that I know the program front to back and upside down, but they were more necessary when I didn’t.  I never would have figured out on my own the lessons from the three situations I presented above.  I wasn’t smart enough or honest enough.  With another long-timer in the program, though, I learned enough to come out smiling.

Folks, my ego was the only thing that could have gotten in the way of some really great lessons.  My ego, unchecked, was enough I could have ruined a perfectly happy life.  Imagine if I’d come to my own (probably wrong) conclusions about the ex-girlfriend and the men’s dignitary meeting.  The one thing that I understand today that I didn’t then is that sometimes I have to dig for the lesson a little bit.  It’s dirty work and it was once easy to skip the shoveling to rest on my laurels.  After all these years, I know it pays to get dirty now and again.

Road Bike Drivetrains and Using Cable Liner to Keep It Clean and Light… And What to Do About Rattles for Internally Routed Cables

Cable liner is used on internally routed mountain, gravel and road bike drivetrains. It’s considerably lighter than cable housing and can keep your cables from being exposed to the elements.  There is a weight trade-off for the weight wienies, but it’s not enough for me to worry about – liner is extremely light.

The most common place to use cable liner is at the bottom bracket cable guide located under the bottom bracket shell (though some will use it the entire length of the exposed cable inside the bike’s frame to help with rattles – I’ll cover that later):


One can imagine how gnarly the cables would become over time if they were left exposed to road grime and rain…

The center cable goes to the front derailleur.  The one on our right goes to the rear derailleur.  

Now, when I picked up my Venge at the bike shop, the front derailleur cable liner only poked out of the frame by an inch or two.  When I changed out the shifter cables after four years (double what is recommended for exterior routed cable systems, but a little quick for interior routing), I decided to go all out.  Go big, as they say.

On the left, the bike is rubber-side down, but it’s a little tough to get a decent photo.  The photo on the right is with the bike rubber-side up and with the tire removed for clarity… so basically, what I’ve got is a 6″ piece of cable liner for the rear derailleur cable, but a piece that runs from the inside of the top tube at the cable guide, all the way up to about an inch below the front derailleur cable bolt.  About 3″ longer than what was originally provided, and enough that it keeps most dirt away from the cable.

Now, the cable liner is not to be confused with the cable housing.  Cable housings are 4 or 5 mm, while the liner is anywhere from 1.6 to 1.9 mm depending on the manufacturer.  On a road bike, your brake cables are going to be around 1.5 mm and your shift cables are 1.1 or 1.2 mm.  Most of the liner you’ll find on the web is the 1.8 or 1.9 mm (1.8 for the black non-coated and 1.9 for the lube-coated – white).  I’m obviously partial to the non-coated and I use the liner for not only protecting the cables on the bike, but as a guide to run the internal cables without fuss.  

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The plastic and two metal pieces are ferrules or end caps.

Cable liner can be found online in 30 meter rolls (90 feet) for $10 to $15.  

In a future post, I’m going to try to use cable liner on my Trek 5200.  The cables are externally routed on that bike so I’m going to try to cover up the rest of the cable that usually sits exposed and see what happens….  more on that later.

Now let’s get to the internal routing rattles.  Rattling was a problem in older internally routed bikes but most brands have addressed the issue with housing stop inserts.  The inserts keep the cable from resting on, or hitting, the frame.

Spec.CableStop_2013
Kit for a 2013 Specialized with internal routing (Venge, Tarmac, Roubaix, Ruby, Crux [carbon])

The insert (second from far right) slides into the frame far enough the taught cable can’t bounce and hit the frame.  My Venge uses four of these.  One at the entry point into the down tube of each shifter cable and two for the rear brake housing (where the housing enters and exits the frame).  Specialized’s answer was fantastic.  I’ve never had a problem with cable rattle while friends have other brands and complain regularly about cable slap.  By the way, I bought a pack of four inserts at my local shop to keep in my tool bag… just in case they’re ever discontinued.  This is one of those items that, 20 years down the road, they’ve stopped making and you have to bodge up a workaround… unless you’ve got the parts already.  Incidentally, if you’re wondering, the piece on the far right in the photo above is for rear derailleur cable at the right rear seat stay, where the cable housing loop goes into the frame at the bottom of said seat stay.

What can be done to limit the rattle if your frame doesn’t make use of inserts?

Well, there are a few simple solutions:

  1.  Use cable liner.  This will dampen the noise considerably, but it won’t completely stop the cable slapping the frame.  
  2. Go naked on the cable routing inside the frame and use the donuts they provide with shifting cable replacement kits – your local shop will have thousands of them… you can also buy them online by searching “rubber shift cable donuts”.  Install four to six on a cable, spacing them equidistant from each other and your problems should stop.  The problem here is, you know they’re going to slide down if you’re using them on the shift cables in the down tube...
  3. So go all in and use a combination of items 1 & 2… put the donuts over the cable liner.  It’ll work.  I just tried it to make sure so I could add this to the post.  It takes a little dexterity in the fingers, so don’t attempt this if you’ve got arthritis… it’ll just piss you off.  Call a kid over to help… and you’ll be able to re-use that liner over and over again when it’s time to change your cables.  This will solve the problem of the donuts sliding down the cable, too.
  4. Install a cable liner over the offending cable and, where the cable will be about 12″ into the frame, put a zip tie around the cable/liner.  Don’t cut the end of the zip tie, wrap the end around the cable and insert the whole thing into your frame.  The zip tie end will unravel and hold the cable away from the frame.  

Greg J., this post is for you, bud.  

If it were me, I’d go with option three out of the four.  Option three, from a “continued use” aspect, seems like the best to hold up to how I ride my bikes.  Once I got a donut on the liner, it wasn’t going anywhere

There’s maybe a 10 gram weight penalty for doing it, but that’s a small price to pay for a quiet bike.  And that’s the one thing that trumps bike weight; silence.

Ride hard, my friends.

 

… It was Indeed the Beginning of a Fatal Progression…

https://wp.me/p7j2zs-2ov

That’s from today’s Daily Reflections. The title is from Page 23 of the 12 and 12.

… it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression…

Just before I quit drinking, I was convinced the world just didn’t like me. That, and the universe had it out for me. How could that many things go that bad for one guy?!

Then I was sentenced to treatment. I didn’t detox the pretty way, with drugs. I went cold turkey, shoveling out pig stalls… I felt it.

I also believe the shakes, night sweats and random terrors all positively contributed to my decision to ask God for help. DT’s were a wakeup call.

I really am that bad.

F*ck.

At the time, the graph of good times and bad may have felt like an “up and down” line graph… a little bit of up, some down, some more good times, so up… some really bad times, way down… more up…

Then withdrawals. And with them, the realization that it wasn’t up and down, up and down. My life was a steady down with some bumps in the road.

When I drink or use drugs, I am actively participating in my own demise. I am no longer at the beginning of a fatal progression, I’m at the end. I’ve simply suspended the decline by not drinking and working a program of recovery.

And as a benefit of doing so, a day at a time, I have been given a life of consistent contentment and happiness normal people feel blessed to experience fleetingly.

It was the beginning of a fatal progression. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Many new to sobriety have a hard time grasping how they can live without drugs and alcohol. When looked at from my perspective, I have the blessing of experience. I don’t know how I could want that misery back.

Recover hard my friends.

Are Meetings Needed to Stay Sober? From Dry Drunks and Popcorn Farts to Happy and Recovering (and Everyone In Between)

This will likely be the toughest post I’ve ever written.  I am beholden to steer clear of controversy related to AA and the 12 Steps, but this is a hugely important topic that doesn’t get enough of a proper airing.  I’m going to try to walk the tightrope.

Let me start by adding a disclaimer; the following is my opinion and my personal understanding.  If you want to know exactly what’s in the Big Book, look to the forward and the first 164 pages.  I highly recommend reading that rather than basing your opinion on someone else’s opinion.  Especially when trying to make a determination on what the book does or does not say.

With that, I’ll begin.  Are meetings needed to stay sober?  No.  And yes.  One of the biggest misunderstandings about the aforementioned Big Book is whether or not other forms of recovery are acknowledged.  Many mistakenly believe that those in AA believe “the program” is the only way to recover.  This is entirely untrue.  It’s a fabrication and a pervasive myth. AA does indeed embrace the idea that it does not corner the market on recovery.  The idea that “AA” as a whole only recognizes its own “brand” of recovery is simply false (page 31, 38 & 39, bottom of 94, last paragraph of 95, and finally, 103).  As I go, I’m only worried about my own recovery and passing on my experience, strength and hope that it might help others.  Our stated goal, and I fully embrace this, is simply to be useful to others.

Where this gets tricky is that our brand of recovery happens to be very thorough.  We “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to rectifying our past and making amends for our misdeeds.  We learn to change how we think and live down to our very core.  We look at everything that we are and seek to rise from the dregs of society to become productive members of society.  Better, we do this without trained professionals and at little cost, beyond a Dollar to help with coffee and rent and a few more to buy a Big Book.

Put another way, if cancer could be fixed the same way, there’d be a line around the block to get into a meeting and no one would complain about having to work a few simple steps!

Happy and Recovering

That out of the way, I have two very close friends who lead perfectly happy lives who stopped going to meetings decades ago.  One found God and happiness in church and the other simply got the message and changed his ways long, long ago.  Both are fine, upstanding members of society and have more “clean time” than I do by more than a decade each.  Those two alone show beyond a shadow of a doubt that recovery is attainable without meetings.

The trick is, each of my friends are mindful of who they hang out with and what they do with their free time; they’re every bit as vigilant as I am about my recovery.  They also worked some form of program in the past where they transformed their life to break the cycle of addiction.  These items are a must if one hopes for peace and contentment.

Dry Drunks and Popcorn Farts

Now we’re going to wander into dangerous territory.  If I were to have sworn off alcohol for good and managed to quit on my own, cold turkey as they say, well, I’d probably be dead or drunk today.  I simply couldn’t do it without the program and live with myself.  I had to fix my stinkin’ thinkin’ and everything that came with it in order to sober up.  I also needed the companionship that only comes with being a part of AA.  And therein lies the rub – but that’s me.  I can’t fairly say what someone else needs, I can only share my own experience.

However, where we get into trouble is when well intentioned people lack the ability to honestly assess their situation and become irritable discontents.  Within the program these people can get help.  Outside, without professional help, they languish, forever placing the blame that belongs on who they’re looking at in the mirror on other people, places, and things.  Things they have no control over.  These are your dry drunks that we often refer to as “drier than a popcorn fart”.  They quit drinking by sheer will alone, and they’re not happy about it.

I don’t know what the answer is for people so afflicted.  It’s a horrible condition indeed.  I just do my part to be useful to my fellows, wherever possible.

In the end…

In the end, it’s all about happiness and contentment.  Call it “quality of life”, a fantastic buzz-term for this topic.  I continue to attend meetings because they better my quality of life.  I’ve said for a long time (after someone passed it on to me), it’s a lot harder to fall off the wagon when you’re sitting in the middle of it, surrounded by 50 of your closest friends.  It’s easier to fall off if you’re sitting on the edge, all by your lonesome.  All that wagon needs is to hit a bump and you’re flying through the air, waiting to land in the mud.

Meetings and steps isn’t the only way to sober up.  It’s a thorough way.  It’s a useful way, and when done with gusto, a way to sober up that leads to an exceedingly happy life.  I continue to go because going makes me happy.

But that’s just me.

The Pursuit of Road Bike Perfection; Making Your Road Bike Shift Better and Diagnosing Problems That Can Cause Poor Shifting in Shimano 10 Speed Drivetrains (Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace)

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Most people wouldn’t notice that cable housing sticking out a little farther than the other side… I’m not most people.  It drove me nuts!

I wrote yesterday about fixing the rear derailleur shift cable housing that was installed a bit long at the shop because the mechanic was trying to get my system to shift better than I was able to eek out of it when I upgraded the drivetrain from 105 to Ultegra (both 10 speed).

Now, Shimano’s 10 speed system is notorious for running into shifting problems because the rear derailleur’s spring was a little weak.  Searching the internet for help is a struggle in and of itself because there’s a lot out there, but not much is specific.  I can tell you, based on my experience, they fixed the problem with the 11 speed drivetrain – my wife’s 11 speed operates perfectly – and she’s a little harder on her rig than I am on mine, especially on my Specialized Venge.  That bike has only seen two or three raindrops since I bought it new in ’13 (a bit of an under exaggeration, but not by much – I have a very nice rain bike).

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I ran into trouble when I bought a used Ultegra 10 speed drivetrain from a friend.  I had a tough time getting the shifting dialed in right after the upgrade… and I had a harder time trying to figure out what went wrong.  After an exhaustive search on the internet, I gave up and took it to the shop.

The shifting was much improved after the shop mechanic had his way with it, but it still wasn’t perfect.  He didn’t like it either, but it was the best he could do.  We blamed it on the idea that the shifters were overused rather than just “used”.  The derailleur had to be dialed in within 1/32 of a turn for the rear derailleur to operate smoothly and (more important) quietly.  Specifically, one of the middle gears would click either going up or coming down the cassette (but not both) if the indexing of the rear derailleur was a little off. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get it dialed in and everything I found on the interwebz said the culprit was drag in cable.  I just couldn’t find it.

Fortunately, on more of a vain note, I hated that the rear shift housing stuck out too far from the frame – it didn’t match the cable on the other side.  I left it that way for a full season because I figured it would be better handled over the winter when I had the time to take it to the shop if I messed something up… better to ride the bike when I can ride it, right?

So, after thinking the process through, I went to work as soon as I had some time after the snow flew.

First things first, I wanted to shorten that cable housing, because doing that gets the shift cable out of the way to really look at how the cable could be getting hung up elsewhere.  For that, I had to pull the rear derailleur cable out far enough that it was inside the housing that leads from the down tube to the handlebar and shift lever so I could snip the housing but not the cable.  This is a simple process for externally routed cables.  For internal cables, it’s a bit more of a big deal.  The problem is running the cable back through the frame.  Mechanics use magnets to feed the cable through the frame – this works especially well with the bike right side up on a stand, as gravity helps, but you can run into problems with some bikes because running new cables requires removing the crank.  To avoid issues, I like using cable liner.  With cable liner, I can run new cable in exactly the same place the old one was when I pulled it – and cable liner, for this purpose, is reusable and cheap.  (Jagwire 1.8mm x 30 meters runs about $11 on Amazon – the 1.8 is a little thicker than others but a shifter cable slides through it more smoothly than the thinner options… the only problem is fitting it into some ferrules/end caps).

So, I did this to trim the housing, but if you’re looking for drag in your shifting system, do the same thing, just don’t snip the housing.  Shift the bike all the way to the small cog on the cassette.  Take the aluminum cable cap off with a pair of needle-nose pliers.  Make sure there are no frayed hairs on the cable tip (give the cable end a quick twist to seat a frayed end if needed) and thread in your first piece of cable liner that you cut long enough it’ll stick out of each hole in your chain stay over the shift cable.  Once your liner is through the chain stay, pull the cable until it’s hanging down from the bottom bracket cable guide.  Unbolt the cable guide cap and remove the small piece of cable liner (if you have one).  Then thread on another pre-cut piece of cable liner that’s long enough to stick out the hole at the bottom bracket and where the cable enters your down tube.  Once it’s through, take two pieces of electrical tape and tape both ends so the liner won’t fall out on you.  Pull the cable through the cable liner.  With the cable out, roll your shifter hood up from the base to expose the hole for the shift cable.  Push on the cable at the housing end until the head of the cable pokes out of your shifter.  Then, carefully pull on the cable head at the shifter until the end of the cable is at the tip of the housing.  Pull the cable another 3″ so it’s well inside the cable housing.  This will ensure that the cable is well inside the housing so you won’t cut it when you trim the cable housing (unless you just want to install a new cable – in that case, pull it all the way out).  Clip the housing and make sure the hole is round.  Put a housing end cap on it and check to see you got the length right – better to cut off too little and have to trim some off than cut too much and have to replace the housing all the way back to the shifter lever.  Push the cable back through until the head is tucked in its hole in your shifter.  Reroute your cable back through the liner in the down tube and pull the liner when it’s through.  If it’ll fit in your system, run a new piece of cable liner at the cable guide underneath the bottom bracket shell (4″ to 6″ will do).  I don’t like leaving bare cable at the cable guide in an internally routed system (the liner in the cable guide limits dirt and thus, cable rot).  Thread your cable through the chain stay liner and when the cable is through, pull the liner and set the two pieces aside to set in a tool box for future use.  Finally, put your derailleur cable housing loop back together and adjust your index your derailleur.

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Now, to shifting quality.  In my case a few of the housing ends were coated plastic and when I put everything back together, I noticed the ends weren’t playing well with the barrel adjuster and I didn’t like how the cable slid through the plastic ferrules (end caps) – it just felt like there was a little drag on the cable when I pulled it through the housings.  Drag is bad when you’re talking about a Shimano 10 speed drivetrain because the derailleur spring is too weak.  Any drag, and I mean any, in the system and the rear derailleur won’t work quite right.  I switched the plastic end caps out for metal one’s and put everything back together.  That solved my drag problems in the shifting system.  The shifting went from acceptable to excellent, just like that.  It also survived a double check two nights ago, and a triple check last night.  I can’t believe how smoothly the drivetrain is operating… I’m a little giddy to ride it.  It’s the cat’s pajamas once again.  The problem wasn’t the used shift levers, it was a little bit of drag in the system from something that shouldn’t have been a problem.  Once that was remedied, et voilà

These issues of cable drag in the shifting system can be exceedingly difficult to find and diagnose.  This one was for me.  The shifting quality was excellent on the original 105 10 speed system but over time, the original plastic housing caps ended up gumming up the cable operation.  I had myself stuck in a box with this before, but some elapsed time and forethought, and small problems were not only simple to diagnose, they were easy to fix.

In the end, the shift quality is all about drag in the system.  The less drag, the better the bike will shift.  And sometimes the problem can be as small as a little ferrule at the end of a cable housing that’s gumming the system up – even a cap that worked before a cable change.  A poor cable housing cut can be a problem, too.  Dirty housings, too much or the wrong lube in the housings, old shift levers, dirt or grime in the shift levers, dirt in the derailleur itself… all can contribute to drag in the system and poor shift quality.

When you can’t figure out what the hell is going on, let me recommend reworking the housing system from the shift lever to the back of the bike.  Serfas complete shift cable system that works well and is cost-effective.  It comes with everything you’ll need to change your old cables and housings and it comes with metal ferrules (or end caps).  If you want to go a little next level, Jagwire is fantastic and their pro kit will be a great upgrade for all but the highest-end steed.  Better still, if you want a little more flash, go for the Jagwire Road Elite Link Kit.  Of course, if you just want to stick with Shimano, they make a couple of different grades of cables and housing kits.  The standard and Dura Ace kits.  I have it on authority the Dura Ace kit is supreme, though I’ve never used it (I have the Serfas on my Trek 5200 and a hodgepodge of Jagwire on the Venge).

Finally, for cutting cables and housings alike, I like Park Tool’s cable and housing cutter.  It’s an expensive tool, but worth every penny when you get a crisp, clean cut.  Watch the brake cable housings, though.  They don’t cut as well because of their design and you have to round out the hole before firing a cable through.

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And On the Eighteenth Day He Said, Thou Shalt Tinker with Thy Bike. It’ll Make You Smile. And So I Did.

I had a long day in my car Monday. Eight hours drive time for a meeting that lasted an hour and a half. It was productive and absolutely necessary, so it was good but what a drive!

Thankfully, I left early enough in the morning that I pulled into my driveway before 4pm. I had time to burn before my trainer ride…

The shifting quality of my Venge is and has been less than perfect. Call it very good, but… just a hair off. The rear derailleur had to be dialed in perfectly for the gears to operate quietly. A thirty-second of a turn one way or the other and a one of the middle gears would click either going up or coming down the cassette (but not both). It shouldn’t be that difficult to get it dialed in and I knew what the culprit was (drag in the cable), but I didn’t want to mess with it until the season was over.  The bike was mechanically sound, it just wasn’t perfect.

Also, the housing that comes out of the handlebar and goes into the frame’s down tube was just a touch long so it touched the brake housing. The mechanic at the local shop had tried to improve the shifting quality that I was stumped on and simply cut the cable a touch too long when he installed a new single-piece cable housing in lieu of having an in-line adjuster for the front and rear mechs (an in-line adjuster for the rear mech is redundant and a little useless – for the front derailleur, it’s a necessity in an internally routed cable system).  It had bugged me since I brought it home but not enough to take the system apart to fix it.

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It’s the one on your right – the left cable if you were sitting on the bike.

It was being stumped that had me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room filled with grannies on rocking chairs to tinker with what worked… even if not perfectly. I couldn’t help but think I was being too picky.

I found three problems. The shop had installed two housing ends that were plastic with a rubberized coating rather than metal. I didn’t like that the cable felt like it was catching a bit and it didn’t play well with the barrel adjuster. I pulled the cable through and trimmed the long housing, added metal ends, and changed the housing assembly going into the derailleur itself. Then, I added a piece of cable liner at the bottom bracket cable guide to match the front cable (I’m sure the mechanic removed the old liner thinking it was binding the shifting but the problem was more in the choice of cable housing ends [aka ferrules].

Then I put everything back together.  The whole operation took 25 minutes from start to fully adjusted and shifting seamlessly (with internal routing – using cable liner as a guide is as good as, or better than magnets).

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I managed to achieve perfect.  I’m stoked how well the bike shifts now.

After tinkering with the Venge, I changed into my cycling kit and hit the trainer for a 45 minute intense workout and followed that with dinner… I fell asleep watching the national championship football game.  It’s very likely I had a smile on my face as I drifted off.

I’ll get into the repair in greater detail for tomorrow’s post because it’s a HUGE issue with a 10 speed drivetrain.