To Thine Own Crank Be True: The Number One Creakiest Thing On Your Bike and How To Silence It (sadly, not for good).
Tighten down those Boas, boys and girls. Cinch up those helmet straps ladies and gents. Smack your quads and call me (big)daddy, let’s take this baby out for a (quiet) spin!
I’m not going to beat around the bush with this post. Well, except for that first spectacular paragraph, which is fantastic, but other than that, let’s get into it!
There are a pile of crank types out there and they are not all created equal. If you want simplicity that just works, you want Shimano. Lightweight, works spectacularly… and costs as much as an entry-level mountain bike? S-Works or Campagnolo Super Record. Next level, you can’t afford this $#!+? THM Clavicula. Reasonable priced but a tad heavy? FSA or Praxis for the alloy cranks. SRAM Red, Rival or the high-end FSA models are decent.
They all break down a little different and some are going to be more susceptible to collecting grit than others and grit is the problem. It causes more creaks in a bottom bracket/crank interface than anything else known to cycling – that grit can also be exceedingly difficult to get out of the little nooks and crannies of the bottom bracket so it quiets down, too. Every group has one of those cyclists who you hate to see get out of the saddle because you know, the second that ass leaves the saddle, their bike will sound like someone chewing on Pop Rocks with their mouth open.
The main key to a non-creaky bike is to keep that bottom bracket and pedal spindle clean and properly lubed. Most cranks only require loosening a bolt or two to get the crank apart (or two clamp bolts and a cap for Shimano – and that cap requires a specialty tool), but for my bang for the buck, my BB30 S-Works crank is the best, least maintenance crank I’ve got in the stable, then the cranks on the tandem (I’ve never serviced them in the four years we’ve had the bike and they’re still silent as the day I brought it home[!]). Most will let in a little grit or dust over time and will eventually start clicking and creaking. FSA and SRAM cranks have wavy washers to preload the systems, so there’s a rather large gap at the crank spindle that’ll let dirt into the works so those have to be cleaned often to keep them quiet.
Being the mechanic of the house, I won’t deal with a crank that has a wavy washer because breaking a crank down every time I run my bike through a puddle isn’t exactly my idea of fun.
Anyway, what’s important to know is that those quiet bikes don’t get or stay that way on their own. An S-Works crank will stay quiet on its own for the most part. A Shimano will need to be cleaned a few times a year. A wavy washer crank, figure every two or three weeks, maybe more (if you ride through a puddle). The point is, if you take care of your crank, keep it clean and lubed, it’ll reward you with not being the Pop Rock person in the pace-line.
Tuesday Night’s Club Ride (which technically isn’t a “club ride” till some time in May, but let’s not get lost in the deep weeds) always leaves my legs rubbery on Wednesday. Wednesday is “pizza day”, though, so I have to get on my bike to justify my dinner.
Last evening’s “recovery” ride that really wasn’t a recovery ride because I was 2-mph too fast, was wonderful. Moderate westerly breeze, a little bit of sunshine, and an excellent 70 degrees (21 C)… none of which bodes well for a recovery ride, even if my legs really were smoked from Tuesday night. Chucker was stuck in a test car on a track in a non-descript location so I was on my own and I started out with excellent intentions that were thrown out the window after a quarter mile. See, even though I know the massive benefits of taking an easy day between the hard days on the bike, I still struggle with thinking I’m squandering an opportunity to get a little stronger by keeping my speed down.
That’s only part of the issue, though. Really, I just like to go fast… so what usually happens is I take the headwind sections easy and then let the wind push me home. Simple enough, but I tend to push a little harder on the tailwind sections to go faster and I end up with something near 18-mph when it should be 16-ish (29 km/h & 25 km/h). Done too often, eventually my legs will deteriorate to a point where I’m forced to go slow or take time off. So far I’ve been able to heed my legs talking back, though.
So last evening’s “should have been a recovery ride” was actually a lot of fun. I did some pretty speedy cornering coming of a downhill into a tailwind and just kept it light and simple. There was a little bit of up, some headwind, but there wasn’t much in the way of difficulty to the ride. One thing is for sure; I had a smile stretched across my face when I pulled into the driveway.
I simply love days like that. Good times and noodle salad. Only with pizza instead of noodle salad.
We’ve ridden the same route since I’ve been cycling with the club… since the early spring of 2012. Oh, it’ll vary from time to time for people who dropped or didn’t have the want to that night, but for the most part, exactly the same every Tuesday night. Until last night, due to a closed road that can’t be navigated around. You’d think that we’d grow bored with the route over the years, but it isn’t the route that makes the ride, it’s those you’re riding with and the speed at which you’re navigating the route that makes it fun. Every week. All year long. Without fail.
The Trek stayed home. Last night was tailor-made for the Venge.
We rolled out together, A’s and B’s, as one rather large group on the first night of the year with a fair breeze that was warm enough to require anything with “warmer” or “cover” in its name to be left at home for fear of sweating to death instantly – upper 70’s (25 C) was the order of the day and it was glorious. We had a lot of headwind to battle in the beginning miles of the ride so it was nice to have what had to be 20 or 25 riders in the double pace-line. We got plenty of rest in between pulls.
The pace was lively but fairly measured. There were a few surges, but the closer to the front you were, the better the ride smooths out. I was never far enough back to get into the yo-yo effect. The new route was great, especially as traffic was concerned – fewer cars than on the normal route.
We did run into some trouble in the hills, though. While there’s a little less “up” in the new route, what we do have is more concentrated on a few bigger, steeper hills. My buddy and his wife on their tandem fell off the back on the last major hill and I stayed with them so… and it was mentioned before we rolled that there would be a regroup in Vernon. That regroup never happened, even though we were only 75 yards off the pace when we turned into town so we ended up just the three of us taking it to the barn.
We ended up rolling over the City Limits line with a 21.7-mph (35 km/h) average for the main route (minus the cooldown mile).
All I can say is, it was so much fun being out on a warm, fast Tuesday night I actually had a tough time falling asleep last night. But I managed.
The Surprising Consequence of Going Through the Vaccine Flu that Isn’t Talked About (Likely Because It’s GOOD)
What I’m about to describe has happened to everyone I know who has struggled with the first or second shots (or in my case, both). I haven’t heard or read a peep about this – and when I fill out the CDC questionnaire, they really don’t give an opportunity to riff about your experience. I’ll go with my second shot because it’ll make for a shorter, more readable post. For the first, and the long version, stretch the bad stuff out over a full week and add about 20% to the intensity of the symptoms. Thank you, my most excellent immune system.
My wife and I got my second jab Friday, expecting to sail through it because I had such a rough go with the first. My wife felt her symptoms come on first, just three hours after getting stuck. I, however, felt quite good three hours in. I was relieved. For exactly 1 hour and 58 minutes. My symptoms washed over me like the second 10′ wave on an ocean beach… the first is all giggles as it peaks just over your head… you’ve jumped and it catches you a little off guard, but you’re good and you bob down on the back of the wave. Then the second wave smacks you like a train right in the arm and topples you, dragging you across the bottom for a second. In the space of fifteen minutes I went from smiling to a shivering, sore, pile of I’m not moving from this couch, somebody put in a movie, please. Tylenol, or the preferred Advil Dual Action, would take the edge off the symptoms but would invariably lead to me going from freezing with two blankets on to sweating profusely with my robe flung open and both blankets discarded in just a t-shirt and fleece pajama pants. This would repeat every seven hours (and, of course, you’re only supposed to take two ADAs every eight hours). I went to bed Saturday night knowing I’d be a wreck for Sunday as well.
I slept in a couple hours longer than normal and woke up vastly improved and quite happily surprised. I went for a decent, easy ride with my friends but kept it to the couch and rested up for the remainder of the day. I felt better, but I didn’t feel all that great, either.
Then Monday hit. I felt I didn’t sleep long enough, but when I was up, I was up so I just rolled with it. The day buzzed by because I’m outrageously busy and long about lunchtime, I felt energized. It wasn’t emotional relief, either, I simply felt good. I realized I’d been feeling better than normal most of the morning and it lasted throughout the day and night, into this morning (and I’m hoping into this evening because it’s Tuesday night, baby).
I’m not the only one to experience this, either. Every person I know who had a tough time with either of the vaccine pokes has experienced something similar. With my first shot, after the week of hell I went through, the week or two after… well, it was worth it… I’ve got a great description, actually. So, imagine you’re a big rechargeable battery (in a sense, we are, though we recharge with sleep, beef and bacon). Now, imagine you get left on the charger a little longer than normal and instead of the charge stopping at 100%, you actually fill up to 105%. That’s how it feels, like I’ve got an extra 5% in the tank.
It has its limits, of course. By the time I hit 4 in the afternoon yesterday, driving home from work, I was done. I suited up for a ride, but it was a short easy spin (I was supposed to attend my youngest’s honor award ceremony last night but her tennis match went long so she missed it – entirely her choice and I was not bummed she made that one).
Anyway, point being, if you’ve got some trepidation about getting the vaccine in the first place, it’s not all bad news, doom and gloom if you feel symptoms. The feeling of being super-charged at the end is quite wonderful.
I woke up Sunday morning and my jaw hit the floor before my feet. I felt pretty good. I checked my phone’s clock: 5:38. And I slept in. I was sure once I got moving the pain and shivers would wash over me and I’d feel gnarly again.
Let me back up a minute. When I crawled into bed still smarting from the vaccine flu, I knew for a fact there was no way I would be riding in the morning. It would take a miracle recovery. I was sweating like a wh… well, profusely and I felt rough.
I made some coffee and waited for the inevitable feverish symptoms to commence. I wrote my post for the morning and waited… and nothing. I looked at the clock. My Dual Action Advil wore off at 6. I should have been shivering for an hour already. Nothing.
My morning coffee was glorious. It was one of those cups of coffee that makes you glad you drink coffee. The second cup was just as delicious. My morning coffee was made more glorious because I was beyond hoping… I was riding.
I texted my buddy, Mike at 6:30, who’d planned on riding gravel because it was going to be chilly and windy, that I’d be riding.
My wife woke up shortly after and she said she was feeling a lot better as well. She asked if we could ride the tandem, though. She loves the back of the tandem when she’s not a hundred percent, being able to just pedal, talk and look around. She likes not having to worry about holding wheels in the group, etc.. I won’t lie, I was hoping for the single bikes because the tandem is a lot more work and I was unsure of how I was going to feel, but husbands have to do what’s right in that situation. And I did.
Mike called a little after 7 and plans were made. I sent out a text to everyone and readied the tandem, took a shower and got dressed.
The plan was for an easy ride – all headwind for the first 17-ish miles, tailwind all the way home.
And so it was, and we had a great group.
We rolled out at a decent pace into a gnarly, cold headwind out of the northwest. Mike took the first three miles then we took the next four. McMike took the next bunch. We were barely at a 16-mph average… and I felt surprisingly good. Jess was in rougher shape. She was fighting short, sparse fits of nausea. Big Joe spent some time up front, as did Mike and Diane and I was grateful in our diminished condition. Normally, Jess and I will take big chunks of the headwind when we’re on the tandem, but we simply couldn’t. Our friends really stepped up.
17-1/2 miles out, we finally hit tailwind. The ride home was as easy going as the ride out… just with some help from the wind. My wife and I were synched up excellently as pedaling efficiency was concerned. I love it when we ride like that on the tandem (it’s becoming the norm, actually). On the long home stretch, heading up a slight hill, I could feel my wife decrease her effort (which happens from time to time) and almost immediately she started chuckling and simply said, “Oh! I forgot to pedal for a second.” I busted out laughing and added, “Yep.” She kicked in again and we rolled on.
Unfortunately, there was a lot more north than there was west to the wind so the return trip wasn’t quite as fast as I thought it might be, but neither my wife nor I really cared. The clouds started to break up about six miles from home and the sun started poking through, raising the temperature a few needed degrees. I’d overdressed a little, in case I took a turn for the worse, but it was a meager 36° (2 C) at the start – a few degrees made a big difference.
We finished with 35-1/2 miles at 16-1/2-mph (26.5 km/h). I was more than a little thankful that’s all we did. Having missed riding on Saturday, I was greedy thinking about how many miles I wanted to ride. When Jess said she didn’t want more than 35 miles I readied my Trek so I could ride with Mike to his house then come back the long way (it would have added ten miles). That last mile, though, while I still felt quite excellent, I knew I didn’t need to push it. I made my apologies to Mike (who agreed I shouldn’t be stupid and push it) and called it good.
And just like that, it’s all over but the waiting. Covid poke #2 is in the books and we’re less than two weeks to normal. What a relief.
It is currently 5:40 in the am, Sunday. I got a full seven hours of sleep last night and my vaccine flu broke sometime during that stretch in bed. I sweated through two t-shirts last night, one before I went to bed was drenched and I didn’t even know it till I took it off (my fever was so intense, the moisture wasn’t even cold). This is much better than the first shot for me. With the first, it was a full week before I was back to normal, or to put it closer to where I’m at this morning, it took me five days to feel as good as I do after a day-and-a-half.
I was hoping to sail through the second shot after my body’s enthusiastic reaction to the first, but it just wasn’t to be. However, this’ll do. I was certain I wouldn’t be riding today when I went to bed. As I sit here, I don’t think there’s any question I’ll suit up this morning – in fact, my Dual Action Advil just wore off… I would have started shivering an hour ago if there wasn’t significant improvement over the night.
In my post yesterday, I wrote harshly about a woman my wife and I ran into at the bike shop. Her take on Covid was highly irrational and her behaviors in that regard were even less rational.
A friend whom I’ve been following for years commented:
I understand your frustration. In fact, I share it. But, this covid thing is highly emotional and I think you just need to be patient with people like that lady. I find it too easy to condemn her and be annoyed with her. But, a lot of people have died from this and there are those among us who are afraid of catching it. Don’t look for rationality where it doesn’t exist, even if you think it should, or ought to. She had an emotional response. I consider this subject to be the same as religion, unions and politics. Don’t argue because you aren’t going to change anyone. All you will do is fuel the emotional fire.
[ED. Emphasis provided by me]
Tony is right. I have no doubt I’m suffering Covid fatigue, but that’s not an excuse. Here’s my response:
You make an excellent point, Tony. While it doesn’t exactly fit, I can absolutely tailor it to fit me. As a recovered alcoholic working a daily recovery program, looking at myself first is normal… most people don’t possess the ability to look at their own lives and deduce that what they’re doing is slightly irrational. Thanks for opening my eyes, it’s appreciated.
Gotta work on that empathy. That’s one [area] I can use a lot of improvement.
Today I’m thankful for being on the mend… and possessing the ability to remain teachable. Now it’s time to get the bike ready for a spin! WOOHOO! I’m done, baby! Almost back to normal. And it’s been far too long.
And Sometimes You Get the Horns… Vaccine Flu Pt. 2: This One Might Be Enough for a Day on the Couch.
I had high hopes for my wife and I on the occasion of our second poke yesterday. I saw myself sailing through it. I’d hydrated, taken my Vitamin D, even got some early miles on the bike because I played hooky for my second shot so I would be resting comfortably at home as the vaccine took hold.
Immediately after the shot I felt a little off, but I put that to being hungry. We went to our favorite restaurant and took care of that issue and I felt quite good. My wife started with a low fever first, about three hours after her jab. I was doing maintenance on the bikes and feeling quite fantastic. I stayed hydrated and thought, finally, I was going to sail through the second.
Two hours later I was cold and I degraded quickly. My arm hurt like it stopped a hammer though the rest of the symptoms weren’t near as bad as the first shot, so I thought maybe I could sweat it out. I was a wreck by bedtime. I was sore, but again, not as bad as the first shot… also, the first shot took me a day to react harshly to, this one hammered me in five hours.
I went to sleep after taking a couple of Tylenol to help me sleep through the aches. At two in the morning, apparently that Tylenol wore off because I was hurting pretty bad. I rolled out of bed and took a couple more Tylenol and set on the couch to write this. The pain meds did their trick and I’m not feeling so bad again… actually, other than the sweating I feel quite good… and I’m going back to sleep.
Maybe I’ll be one of those who, after a day and a nap wakes up to feel better and recharged? Fingers crossed. We’re riding in six hours.
After that nap I’m feeling much better… I just may give it a go after some research that “experts” said it should be okay to exercise after the shot, and my butt is longing for my Venge.
Update: it was the Tylenol. I feel like
My wife just took my temp: 101.2.
In funny Covid-19 news, Sanjay Gupta recently said,
I wonder if you know where this is going… when did we start wearing masks outdoors?!
That would be a never. Now, granted, you can’t actually see anyone’s face in that photo… you’re just going to have to trust me. There are none. And certainly not now that the susceptible seniors are vaccinated.
In fact, that report was from yesterday. This is from the CDC two weeks ago, for Easter celebrations:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
- Visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.
Now, I wonder why the left in the United States are so ill-informed.
Here’s a better one. We were at the bike shop yesterday and a woman comes in with a mask covering her mouth only. My wife offers that we’d just gotten our second shot. She, of course, backs up six more feet on top of the five already between us and says, “Oh, my, you’ll have to stay away from me. I’m not getting the vaccine because I spoke with four doctors who recommended not to, and you’ll be protein shedding for another two weeks.”
I responded, “Good luck with that [not getting the vaccine]”.
She went on for a minute that we were a danger to others for two weeks. I laughed and walked away. If “protein shedding” were a thing, I’d have heard about it already.
Now, humorously, my wife let me in on the fact that this very woman is taking HGH and has been trying to recruit my wife into a multiple tier marketing scam. And she’s on the stuff.
So let’s take an accounting:
- She walked into the shop with her mask down below her nose. The word “useless” comes to mind.
- She’s on HGH but the vaccine is just a bridge too far – and four doctors have told her not to get said vaccine.
- First, why is it always four doctors? And are all of the kooks talking to the same four doctors?!
- Aaaand better still, all of that and she’s nutty enough to believe in “protein shedding”. In vaccinated people.
God help us all.
It was raining Monday so I had no problem with a day off the bike. The weekend was filled with big, hard miles and I’ve got a new focus for this year that won’t have so much “gotta ride every day” to it so when Tuesday was unseasonably cold well, I didn’t have a problem taking another day off. Snow flurries hit Tuesday night – we had an inch and some change sitting on the ground when I got to the office Wednesday morning. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, yesterday was cold with more wind. That new outlook of mine is only going to go so far. I just couldn’t take another day off, but I had no desire to ride outside…
I decided to swap out rear wheels and put my bike on the trainer.
Two minutes into my session and I realized why I’ve had such good spring roll outs these last two years… that 45 minute session was hard.
I’d run Star Wars Rogue One in the Blueray player and started out in what I thought should have been an easy gear. A minute into it, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround blasting, I was huffing and puffing… and starting to sweat already. I was showing a paltry 16-mph on the Garmin but the speed sensor runs slow (I was closer to 19). After a good warm-up I shifted one gear harder and the progressive resistance on the trainer kicked back. My speed jumped to 18-mph but I was pushing the same watts I do on a Tuesday night at 26-mph. I held that for ten or fifteen minutes, then downshifted for a break. Five minutes later it was back into the hard gear and I held that for another ten before another break. The last five minutes were cranked out hard. I averaged, according to my speed sensor, a whopping 16-mph average for 45 minutes (chuckle).
When I rolled out of bed this morning I felt like I was 82. My calf muscles feel like they’re attached to piano wires. My butt is angry and sitting it out in the corner, moping and I’m generally wondering who hit me with a truck.
And I love it.
The cold leaves today, thankfully. It’ll be a little rough, just hitting 50 in my neighborhood, but tomorrow is supposed to be quite lovely. We’ll get rain Saturday which fits the schedule perfectly because my wife and I are getting our second jab tomorrow. I’m taking the day off, too. I’m going to ride in the morning with the Friday retiree gang (and my wife) and then we’re going to get our shot. Then we’ll have Friday afternoon and all day Saturday to shake the vaccine off before rolling out Sunday to what should be some glorious weather.
It’s going to be a light week on the bike, but I can feel the weight coming off nicely (my jeans, wedding ring and watch all fit just a little looser) and a rest week probably isn’t a bad idea, anyway. Back to normal is only two weeks away for me. Technically, it’s already here, but let’s keep that between us… I wouldn’t want Atilla the Whitmer to get wind I’m not quaking in my boots behind six masks and a face-shield over COVID. She might send her Rottweiler AG after me for showing a lack of piety to the Governmental Apparatus. We wouldn’t want that, now.
Cycling and Saddle Height – You Learn Something New… Erm… Every Few Years. A Tale of Excessive Butt Pain On a Tandem and How I Finally Fixed It By Getting My Saddle High Enough
I ride a pretty spectacular tandem with my wife. We bought a Co-Motion Periscope Scout and had it fitted with road components – a 10sp triple crank with Shimano 105 components. It’s a heavy steel bike, but it’s absolutely beautiful. The welds are utterly gorgeous and it’s adorned with top-notch equipment. The quality of that bike is phenomenal and it’s truly a joy to ride and the steel frame is unbelievably comfortable. There’s one problem, though… it was less than easy getting the saddle right. On a tandem, it’s not like you can just get out of the saddle to climb a hill, relieving your butt of the pressure of sitting on it, so you tend to spend a lot of time seated and pedaling.
Unlike a standard tandem, with a Periscope from Co-Motion you can fit anyone from 4’2″ to 6’2″ on the back…
I’ve had, ever since we brought the bike home, saddle issues with it. Whenever we go beyond 40 miles we’ve had to schedule a late stop so we can give our keisters a rest. I’ve tried three different saddles, a Selle Italia low-end saddle that came with the bike, a Specialized Romin road saddle and finally, a Specialized Toupe sport saddle that originally came on my Diverge AL Sport gravel bike. That Toupe was the best fitting saddle I’d had on the tandem but I just couldn’t pass that 40-mile mark without baboon heinie issues.
A few weeks ago my wife and I did our normal Sunday Funday tandem ride and I told my buddy, Mike that I’d switch bikes and ride home with him for some extra miles. Immediately on getting back I parked the tandem, went in the house, changed shoes (road shoes for the road bikes, mountain for the tandem) and wheeled out my Venge. On hopping on the bike, it felt weird… like I was off balance and the bike wanted to rock side-to-side as I pedaled. I knew exactly what causes that sensation. The saddle on the Venge was higher than the Co-Motion. After 37 miles on the tandem, then hopping straight on the Venge, the difference was plain as day.
Now, I know the Venge’s saddle is perfect. The amount of time, detail and attention that went into getting that saddle in the perfect location borders on the ludicrous. Long story short, I ended up recently raising the saddle on the Venge because I refused to believe that my legs were 1/4″ shorter at 50 than they were at 42… my measurement used to be 36-5/8″ and I was all the way down to 36-3/8″ after lowering it for “feel” over a few years’ time. I raised the saddle 1/8″ (or 3 mm) and couldn’t figure out why I ever lowered it in the first place. Then I raised the saddle on the Trek to match (then lowered the nose by 1/4 turn of the front saddle mount bolt). Well, after riding the Venge, I raised the Co-Motion’s saddle to match the Venge, too… and our first ride since was Sunday… and nirvana.
My wife and I rode 46-1/2 glorious miles on the tandem and I felt fantastic through the entire ride. Oh, there were minor adjustments as the ride wore on, but there was no point at which I simply wanted to get off the bike so I could get off my butt for a minute. A first – and our only stop was at about 14 miles (give or take).
So, after a considerable amount of effort in getting the saddle on the tandem right, I can tell you a saddle too low is just as bad and painful as having it too high. To describe the difference in pain is quite simple, though. If the saddle is (slightly) too high, you’re going to feel like you’re bruising your sit bones, or the bones right in front of the sit bones that form the hip. This pain is ugly. On the other hand, if the saddle is a little low, the pain will be “hot” on your keister… I like to call it baboon or tandem @$$. If you can coast and stand up for a second, the heat goes away and you’ll be good for another few miles but it’ll invariably flare back up again, this is the pain I’m talking about. The saddle won’t be so low that your knees hurt (at the back of the knee… if the back of the knee hurts, raise, if the front hurts, lower), but you’ll feel more like you’re riding on a heating pad that’s set to “scorched sphincter”.
Now, this will work for a single bike just the same. If you’re feeling like your butt’s on fire after 30 or 40 miles, it just could be you have to raise your saddle a little bit… just not too much.
Just a thought. And some experience sprinkled on top.