I’ve always tried to get my Trek 5200, my first race bike, to be as good as my Specialized Venge. I’ve done everything I could to make it as light and fast as I could afford. It is, today, as close as I’ve ever had it to that ideal… it’s been a labor of love, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (as difficult as it’s been at times).
This last mess really pressed what mechanical skills and knowledge I’ve got. This one even got me to expand on that base… it’s been a while since I dug into the files to do some serious research.
When it was all done, I addressed a lot of issues that needed attention, though. Things I couldn’t see when I built the Trek from the ground up.
Even installing new chain rings can have on affect on chain line, shifting, derailleur setting (front), and overall performance (I went from aftermarket to Shimano 105 chainrings).
And so last night I made some final checks to make sure everything was operating properly before rolling out to meet my buddy, Chuck for our normal Monday evening ride.
I know the front derailleur is probably adjusted a little tight, relying on a lot of tension on the cable from the barrel adjuster, but it operates perfectly. That reality makes it a little tough to tinker with anymore. Every gear, minimal trim…
So with calling that good enough, I rolled out. I had my eyes set on really giving it some power to make sure my skipping problem really was solved.
I was on the gas in a hurry. Today’s weather is going to be a $#!+show so I knew I wouldn’t have to preserve my legs… I’ll ride the couch tonight. The Trek responded well and I immediately jumped to 20-mph. The legs were feeling some of their pre-DALMAC glory so much that being on the gas actually felt good.
I was right on time, pulling into Chuck’s subdivision. He was rounding the corner to the exit street as I was turning onto it from the main road. I did an about face and we rolled it to the first intersection where we had to wait a few seconds for traffic to clear.
We had a rare and slight tailwind heading west and I was feeling really good, so I put the hammer down a little bit, raising our normal 16-17-mph, easygoing pace to 22. I held the front for two miles and gave it to Chuck who held the pace. We had us a little ride going. Chuck took the next two miles, leaving me a half-mile on Morrish road coming out of a quick one-mile subdivision… and that’s when I saw him, flashing light, just about to turn on Hill road – the same way we’d turn. He was riding pretty upright… I was betting eBike.
We were already up to 22 when he turned and I instituted full-on hunter/killer chase down mode. I hopped the pace up to 24 as we approached the intersection, waited for the four-way stop intersection to clear and making our turn. I’d made up some distance but I wanted to pick that bike off within the next mile. Down in the drops and with a slight tailwind, I dropped the hammer and had it up to 26-mph on the pool table-smooth pavement. I could feel the lactic acid building in my legs as we flirted with 27 (43-km/h). We were closing the gap fast. At a quarter-mile I could tell he was on an eBike for sure, and he was going down.
It was a fairly cool bike, too. Relaxed, upright geometry, large battery pack, fat tires (looked like 26″ as we were going by)… he saw us coming in his mirror and moved to the gravel shoulder, unnecessarily. We blew by him at 25-mph as if he were riding a beach cruiser. I dropped the speed back to a more reasonable 22-mph to the next intersection. Chuck took over next and we stayed on the gas for another mile before turning into our two-loop subdivision. I offered that, if Chuck wanted to dial it back to normal, I’d be good with that – or we could keep it up.
I was hoping for “dial it back”. And that’s what he chose.
The next four miles, two laps around the subdivision was fun and easy. We had flashes of fast, though. Entering the subdivision for the second loop, we’ve got a slight hill about 75 yards up the road and I wanted to give the little ring a good run to see if it skipped. I still have the yips over the skipping and I’ve got to dispel this heinous $#!+ and put it in the past. I dropped seamlessly to the small ring and two up on the cassette to keep the same cadence and got, hesitantly, out of the saddle. As the hill started, I increased the wattage till I knew it should be skipping… then gave it more on the next pedal stroke, and more… and I just went up the hill. On the last stroke to the crest, I really gave it some juice – measured at first, then increasingly dropped the hammer. Nothing. No skip, not even a hesitation or change in pitch at the chain/chainring. I was pretty sure that was it. I sat down and shifted to the big ring again, then down two in the back, a smile on my face. I’m glad that freaking saga is over.
Three miles later, we were into another subdivision with a bigger hill in front of us and I decided to hit that one with a little more gusto – not quite normal “let’s sprint up this sucker”, but I didn’t worry about being ginger with it, either. Down to the little ring, up one in the back as the hill started up… out of the saddle… power down, side to side with a little sway… and nothing. Just straight up the hill. With that, I knew she was ready for DALMAC. I can take The Wall, no problem.
The next five miles were a weight off my shoulders. I love my 5200.
We had smoked chicken nachos for dinner and afterward, as Monday Night Football was firing up (and how about Gladys Knight?! She’s amazing by any normal standards, but at 77? Wow. The National Anthem was a little too much “pop/blues” for my liking [I’m a traditional fellow as the Anthem goes], but she did a fine job of it and definitely put her stamp on the rendition), I was looking for something to work on as I didn’t have anything left to do on the Trek… so I turned my attention to my wife’s gravel bike… I had a new Sora medium cage derailleur waiting to go on the bike. And so I went at it. More on that later. It went perfectly.