Almost like a real business, Service Course Velo will be again open on Saturdays. From now on the shop will be open Tuesday through Friday from 11am to 6pm and on Saturdays from noon until 5pm. Closed on Sundays and open by special appointment on Mondays. Please feel free to call or email if there are any questions. Cheers.
Cross season is just starting to heat up, which means there are clinics, workshops, camps, and training races happening all over the US right now. People are posting on Facebook about it, the race schedule for August and September is filled with them, and Twitter is popping off with what is always the most hotly contested question every year when people are learning how to get off a cyclocross bike. “Should I be doing a step through dismount or should I do a step behind dismount?”
Quick visual reminder for those that want a little heads up. Here’s a few pictures and a quick video of each to refresh the memory banks.
Here’s a step through dismount
He’s executing perfect form. Body close to the bike, weight driving through his hand on the top tube, and he’s facing the barriers, ready to take a full stride at speed over them as soon as hit right foot hits the ground. Perfect high speed barrier dismount.
It used to be the step through was the preferred method of dismount. It keeps you facing forward towards the barriers as you dismount and allows a full stride as soon as your right foot hits the ground, meaning you could carry a bit more speed (in theory). This dismount was developed way back when people used to race cross in toe clips and straps. To do a dismount in clips and straps, before you ever swung your right leg over the rear wheel, you first unclipped your left foot, flipped the pedal over, and stood on the other side. Then and only then you continued on with the rest of the process of the step through dismount. Also, because you were wearing something closer to a soccer cleat, it was easier to step forward with your left foot than it was to slide off the outside of the pedal. That extra step of unclipping and flipping a pedal took more time to do, so cross courses reflected that in their design and execution, meaning there were going to be more high speed barriers that allowed you a longer amount of time to set up properly and safely.
And then, clipless pedals were invented. Of course, people kept on dismounting and stepping through the same way they always had. They also kept on unclipping with the left foot first before they swung their right leg over. Instead of flipping their pedal over though, they just rested on the instep of their foot. Someone realized though, that since you don’t have to flip a pedal over, you might not even to unclip with your left foot at all until the end of the dismount and that would save even more time. The problem is that clipless pedals don’t always release like you’d want them to and when you’re body weight is driving forward, in front of your bike, and your left foot is still clipped in, it’s exactly like getting tripped while sprinting. Bad things can happen. Don’t believe me? Ask Joey, he’s probably the most famous and most recent example.
So you can see what bad things can happen if the step through dismount done at speed goes pear shaped. The risk versus reward isn’t a very good ratio. Also, there just aren’t that many truly high speed barriers anymore. Most of your dismounting, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels is really all that fast, even on what would be considered a high speed barrier. Factor in the changes in most course design to have more slow speed type barriers and you’re going to want to learn the step behind.
Here’s a step behind dismount.
Sorry for the small picture, but you get the idea. Notice how his right foot is going to drop off and touch the ground behind his left foot. And this is a picture of Jeremy Powers, former national champion, so of course his form is excellent. It’s very similar to the step through body position. Close to the bike and weight going down through his right arm onto the top tube.
Here’s another picture
The step behind is safer and is actually quicker, because the amount of time you need to set up for it is much less than the step through. This is especially good if you are coming into a barrier at a very slow speed, like in the middle of a hill or right after a tight corner. Here J-Pow tells his students on why the step though is bad.
Notice he mentioned Joey. That guy got all sorts of famous for all the wrong reasons. You don’t want to be the next Joey. Just to be sure of how it’s no longer used, here’s a video of last year’s cyclocross world championships and I’d bet you don’t find one step through in the whole shebang. It’s kinda long, so if you don’t want to watch it, you can take my word for it.
In conclusion, I’m not going to tell you outright that you shouldn’t do the step through, but realize that 1. It’s an advanced technique and you should have a very good handle on how to do the step behind dismount first and 2. It’s has a very specific time and place where it’s useful and faster, but the risk of buggering it up and becoming a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons is very high.
It’s kit re-order time. In two weeks time from this upcoming Friday (That’s right! Friday the 13th!) I’ll be sending in the order to Pactimo to get another round of jerseys, bis shorts, and whatnots made. I’m sticking with the same classic Service Course Velo design, so don’t worry if you are just adding a jersey or a pair of shorts to your existing wardrobe. It’s still gonna match. The way this works is all orders are done by pre-payment in full and then on the Monday after the order window closes, I send Pactimo a wad of cash to get the ball rolling. Usually about four weeks after that, everything shows up and you roll on by to pick up your new, swanky gear and look like the most stylish cyclist in the Rogue Valley.
The pre-pay works a little different this year. I’ve set up an online store where you can go an build your own shopping cart of the things you want, pay with whatever type of plastic you prefer, and you’re done. A receipt will be emailed or texted to you immediately. Check it out here:
After the 13th of September, I’ll close up the online shop and you’ll have to wait until the next go round. If you want to pay in cash or in person, no worries, just swing on by and I can assist you in your sartorial quest personally.
The clothes are very high quality. Not Rapha/Assos priced, but not bargain rack at Performance either. I’m selling these for my cost plus a minor amount to slightly offset the loss of blood from the credit card fees and shipping. They fit true to size, but they are a race cut. I wear an XL t-shirt, so I use an XL jersey, but it’s not a baggy club cut. It fits like a race jersey should.
Please feel to call, email, text, stop by and chat, telegram me, or send a message in a bottle if you have any questions along the way. Once again, here’s the link to the online store to order your kit.
Got your attention? How’s that for a title? Funny story about that. A long time ago when I dabbled in poorly promoting mountain bike races, I was discussing the Beginner’s Course with some volunteers. Between my mumbling style of speech and their relative newness to the sport, they kept giggling every time I mentioned what they heard as the “big intercourse”. Long story short, we all come into a sport not always knowing the vocabulary and shorthand, and the inside baseball talk and shorthand used by the old timers can make it worse to get a handle on what a person needs.
What I’m driving at is cyclocross season is fast approaching and for those of us in the industry, we are well aware it’s the fastest growing segment of the sport and for damn good reason. We are in on the lingo and all the tech and everything that goes along with that. However, right now for a beginner, it’s a very confusing time. Disc or no disc, 9,10, or 11 speed, tubulars, tubeless, or (gasp!) tubes. Never mind the myriad of frame material options that ALL are valid if done well and dastardly if not. Lots of questions for lots of newbies coming into the sport. It might be kinda nice to not clog their info intakes and run them off our great little niche before they get a toe hold.
Service Course Velo is going to offer up for a limited time (pretty much until after the cross season of 2014) a super secret, special handshake, guy who knows a guy who knows a guy deal for the cross neophyte. If this is your first time racing cyclocross, swing by and sit down with me for a spell and we’ll talk cross and cross bike and I promise to spill as much unvarnished, unbiased truth as possible. I’ll even tell you to go buy a bike from a competing bike shop if that’s the best option for you. If you want to talk online retailers, that’s fine too, but you’ll have to tolerate a brief spiel about buying local. Of course, you’ll have to pay for the standard assembly and tune rate for a mail order bike, but I promise little to no snark.
Here’s the breakdown on the deal.
if you wind up buying a bike somewhere else, whether it was online or local, you’ll get free bike counseling leading up the purchase, a free bike fit after the fact (usually costs $50), a sweet YO! SCV Cross! sticker and if you want to, a matching t-shirt at my cost.
Buy a bike through Service Course Velo under $2000 and you’ll get the free bike counseling, free bike fit (again 50 bones usually), I’ll pay your entry to the excellent intro to cyclocross clinic at Cycle Analysis, one entry fee to the Southern Oregon Outlaw Cyclocross race of your choice, the free sticker and this time, I’ll throw in the t-shirt no charge.
Buy a bike over $2000 through Service Course Velo and the bike consult is pro bono, the fit is thrown in (again a $50 charge usually) , free entry to the cross clinic at Cycle Analysis, free sticker, and free t-shirt, but this time I’ll pay for your entry fees for the whole Southern Oregon Outlaw Cyclocross Series.
Remember, this offer is for cross newbies. If you have a few seasons under your belt, swing by and I’m certain we can talk and establish a proper sliding scale to still get you a great deal on a new rig and some schwag thrown your way.
Here’s the sweet sticker and design for the t-shirt. If you have no collection of the t.v. show “Yo!MTV Raps!” then I don’t know what to tell you. This is what you get.
Continuing in classic Service Course Velo fashion, here’s another article on basically how not to spend money. Brilliant plan for a bike shop, right? I figure if I can save you a few duckets here and there when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep, then maybe you’ll take my word for it when it’s time to get some real service work done or do a major equipment upgrade. Anywhay, here’s a few tricks and tips I’ve compiled that I’ve found to make life with bikes a little easier and maybe even less expensive.
1. El Cheapo iPhone case. If you are the type that has an Otter Box style case for your smart phone, then pass this one up, but if you are like me and can’t stand how big and bulky those cases make your phone and yet don’t want it dying from sweat and rain, read on. Most of us know that in a pinch a standard ziplock bag works pretty well. They are kinda big and since they are designed to keep your pb&j’s from leaking, they are kinda wimpy. Go to your local bike shop and buddy up with the head wrench. Odds are good they’ve been stockpiling these little babies.
These ziplocks are made of tougher stuff than the standard sandwich ones. Plus, 95% of all smart phones fit down inside with just enough room for an I.D., credit card, and a $20. The best is that the touch screen function on your phone still works while snuggled up in the bag, so you don’t’ need to dig it out to answer calls, take pictures, sext, or update that ever so important Strava segment (heavy sarcasm on the last bit there). So why go to the bike shop for these? Because all sorts of small parts come in them and any shop would be smart enough to hang on to at least a few. You might have to bribe your mechanic to deplete their secret stash, but it’s well worth it. I keep one in my gear bag and one in my glovebox so I always have one handy.
2. Here’s a freebie that can save your bacon in a jam. (Great, now I’m hungry. mmmmm, bacon. mmmmm, jam.) Anyway, if you ever find yourself with a spare tube but no presta equipped means with which to inflate it, don’t worry. You are all set to McGuyver yourself back on the road as long as you can locate a gas station or anyone with a standard schraeder pump or compressor. Take the plastic valve cap you usually toss into the recesses of your seat pack .
Now grind the pointed end on the rough pavement or if you have a pocket knife, nip the tip off so it looks like this.
Now turn it upside down from the way you usually put it on a presta valve stem and thread it onto the little threads at the top of the valve. Voila, schreader adapter. It’s not perfect, but it will allow you to use that nice old lady’s ancient foot pump or the gas station’s compressor.
3. Speaking of presta and schraeder valves, there’s a few of you racier types that fancy the deep section rims. Have you ever flatted and the only spare tube you or your riding buddies had barely poked out above the top of the valve hole? Not much chance of getting a pump or CO2 on there, huh? Seeing this really sucks.
That little nub sticking out is going to make keeping a pump head on the valve a real chore. This is where those brass or alloy presta to schraeder adapters come in handy. In a pinch, you can use the plastic valve cap trick, but everyone should carry these nifty little fellers in their repair kit.
Now just switch your pump to schraeder and you’re set to go. The larger size also works to keep the valve from sinking into the rim when pumping up the tire, too.
4. Fenders are great on the mountain bike, but as the weather turns a bit nicer, all most of us ask is that we don’t come home with dirt on our face and in our eyes. Most of that stuff that winds up on your glasses actually comes off the tire before the tire clears your fork arch. That’s why all those little honeycomb crevices they like to put on the back sides of forks are loaded up with a seasons worth of grit. There’s a few over the counter options out there that cost a bit and work well and there’s some free ones that do okay but look crappy, but here’s a tip that looks pretty decent and doesn’t cost hardly anything. Go to your kitchen or to the market and buy one of those thin, flexible, plastic cutting boards.
Trim it to fit the space behind the arch of the fork and between the upper legs and then cinch it up to the arch with a couple of zipties and you’re good to go. It’s free if you can avoid getting caught raiding your kitchen, but it’s easier to color coordinate if you pony up the $5 at the store. Plus, you’ll have plenty of material make some for all your riding buddies. Just make them pay you a sixer or so for it and don’t tell them how easy and cheap it is. Also is it’s an excellent place for stickers and stickers will make you at least 13% faster.
Keep that bad boy on all year round. It weighs nothing, never gets in the way, keeps your grill podium fresh, and also keeps the fork from loading up with a year’s worth of trail gunk and deer poop.
5. Nitrile gloves are awesome, cheap, and come in quantities large enough that you can stash some darn near everywhere. They’re great for keeping in the back of the car for changing tires and in the tool boox for keeping clean during emergency repairs, but they also work well for some other things you might not think of. I use them under my regular riding gloves when I’m racing in the rain and it’s cold out. Regular insulated gloves always wind up soaking up a ton of water and weighing about four pounds each by the end of the race and your hands still freeze. Neoprene gloves are great, but they cost a bit for the good ones and don’t do you any good if you didn’t pack them. In a pinch I can always bum some off the 1st aid tent staff or neutral mechanical support, never mind the fact that any auto parts store has them by the caseload.
They also make cleanup worlds easier after the race. It’s really quite nice not to have a bunch of grit and grime all over your hand after you change out of your muddy kit. Just save the nitrile gloves for the last thing to be removed and it’s a much nicer experience.
This next tip about the gloves is for roadies, cross dorks, and serious euro snobs only. Pull on a glove to put your embrocation on and you won’t have to worry about accidentally getting some on your junk or absentmindedly wiping your nose with your hand afterwards. It lets you keep the hot stuff where you want it and not where you don’t. Just apply the embro and then peel off the glove. Bob’s your uncle.
6. Speaking of embrocation, did you ever notice how well it kicks in on the way home from the ride and once again the shower? The pros use special stuff their soigneurs put on a towel and have their legs wiped down for them, but I’m guessing most of us aren’t in the same boat. You need to use something with alcohol in it and you don’t want to waste whats chilling in the cooler on external applications. Go to the market and get yourself one of these.
Don’t worry. You aren’t going to bleach anything. It’s made by Clorox, but there isn’t any bleach in it. It’s mostly alcohol and it comes in handy dandy wipe form. If you’re a germ-a-phobe, then rest easy knowing it kills all sorts of germs and other bugs. Plus it comes in a bunch of scents including unscented.
If you don’t embro up, and you are a knobby tire type, you still should have some of these in the gear bag. Aside from the obvious ability to remove grime, the other thing they do very well is cut through and remove the oil in poison oak. Regular baby-wipes won’t cut it (pun intended). These are the bees knees for an after oak ride. They also make it easy to swipe your bike bits and shoes down so if there’s any of the poison oak on them (and there is) then you won’t get any later on down the road from touching your gear.
Now that you’ve saved all that money and made your life easier, you can feel free to come buy and spend all that extra loot at the shop. Just kidding. No I’m not.
The hot tire for gravel riding is the Clement X’Plor series. Either the USH or the MSO. The USH is a 35c slayer of pavement and gravel that transitions seamlessly between the two surfaces. The MSO is a bit larger at 40c and is perfect for eating up the rougher dirt and still being smooth and quiet on the pavement sections. Both are use dual compound rubber for great grip and rolling resistance, and a 120tpi casing for a supple ride.
Unfortunately, they are so popular that both are out of stock until the beginning of May. Service Course Velo is offering a presale offer to anyone who wants to reserve a set (or more) of these tires. Both tires typically retail for $75 each, but if you preorder a pair through the shop, you’ll only spend $60 each.
The only catch is you need to order at least one pair (two tires) and you have to pay up before May 1. You can mix and match if you want to and of course feel free to order more than one set.
Call or email if you have any questions.
Whoa! I bet that kinda got your attention. No, Service Course Velo isn’t going down the late night infomercial route with big claims and three easy payments of anything. It’s just time to talk about lubing your chain. It’s like adding air to your tires. It’s an essential part of riding a bike unless you are one of those folks whose chains I can hear from inside my car, across three lanes of traffic, windows up, and with my stereo on, or worse you’re one of those belt drive freaks. (Just kidding belt drive fans, you aren’t worse than those other types. I just wanted to yank your chain a little. You guys are tied.) Unfortunately, almost every single rider out there doesn’t lube their chain the right way. They use too much and pus it on at the wrong time for it to work it’s best.
Here’s the dirty little secret on chain lubes. They all basically boil down to two components. (Not literally. Please don’t boil your chain lube.) One part is an evaporative carrier. It makes the chain lube thinner so it can get in all the nooks and crannies. The other part is the actual lubricant. It’s thicker and heavier and designed to keep the metal bits that make up your chain from scraping against each other. Dry lubes use more of the carrier and less of the lube. Wet lubes use more of the lube and less of the carrier. Wax based lubes pretty much work the same way, except they leave a wax residue that is designed to fall off and “clean” the chain as you ride. Except most of their lubricant is suspended in the wax, so once it falls off the chain, no more lube. Basically, don’t use wax lube.
Really quick, here’s a diagram of a chain, so you have an idea on what I’m talking about when terms like pins, rollers, and plates are thrown around.
There’s not really much too them, is there? You know where your chain needs lube? Inside the rollers where they spin on the pins, or rivets. That’s it. Nowhere else. Any lube on the outside of the chain, whether it’s on the plates or the outside of the rollers doesn’t do anything but attract dirt and grime. Dirt and grime on a chain are bad. Look at this.
Yuck. That grime and grit does two things. The first thing it does is combines the dirt and oil to make an excellent cutting compound that wears out the chain faster. This is where the saving money speech starts to tie in. When chains wear, they also start to wear out the more costly parts of your drivetrain, like chainrings and cassettes. If you let a chain go too long between cleanings or replacement and it wears out those other pieces, when you put a new chain on, it will skip under load, cause chainsuck, and generally cost a ton of money. The other thing that dirt and grime does is actually pull the lube out of the rollers and pins. Think of putting kitty litter on an oil spill on your driveway. It soaks up the spilled oil. Well, that’s what the dirt on the outside of your chain is doing. It’s wearing your chain out faster and making the parts that need lube become dry sooner than they should.
Sometimes it’s not even the over lubing of chains that cause problems. Do you know about those chain cleaners that clamp around the chain and you fill them full of solvent and then run the chain through them until it’s clean? These handy dandy things that just about everyone of us has gotten for Christmas or our birthday at some point? (If you haven’t gotten one yet, be patient, you will. Mom’s and wives love buying these things).
The problem with these is twofold. One is you are “cleaning” your chain with some pretty dirty solvent as soon as you pull about three inches of grimy chain through it. The other is that almost all of the solvents you use leave a residue that gets inside the rollers and continues to do an excellent job of removing any new lube you put on the chain. If you are going to use one of these to clean off your dirty chain so you can start fresh and go about things the right way, remember to use something like White Lightning Clean Streak or even generic disc brake cleaner to flush out any left over solvent residue. Whatever it is you use should evaporate almost immediately and leave the chain dry to the touch.
So lets get down to brass tacks on how and when to lube a chain. First, the how. Shift into the big ring up front and the small cog in back. Now take your dropper (NO! Not an aerosol lube! NEVER an aerosol lube!) and apply one drop to the top of each roller on the chain below the chainstay. Rotate the cranks slowly backwards and keep going until you’ve gone all the way around. I like to start at the quick link if the chain has one, otherwise I’ll take a black sharpie and mark the chain so I know when I’ve made the full way around. Don’t just squeeze the bottle and spin the cranks around as lube drains out. That’s too much. Trust me, you’ll only need a tiny amount.
Ok, the lube is on, now take a rag and grab the chain with it and give the cranks a few spins around to wipe off any excess lube on the outside of the chain. Don’t worry about wiping off to much. You can’t do it. The only lube the chain need is on the inside of the rollers.
From now on, to clean your chain under normal conditions will be to give the chain a quick wipe just like this before you lube it.
OK, now on to the when. This is definitely where almost all riders get it wrong when it comes to lubing a chain. The best time to lube a chain is right after your ride. Yup after. That gives whatever evaporative carrier your chain lube uses the most time to get the lubricant into the rollers and pins and then evaporate away. If you put it on right before your ride, the lube never has a chance to set up inside the chain. It will be thinner than it was designed to be and the pedaling forces will fling it to the outside parts of the chain, making the plates dirty and the rollers and pins that need the lube dry. Almost every single lube gets put on too frequently as well. This is not a routine that you need to repeat after every ride. Of course different lubes have sorter and longer life spans, but the rule is to only lube your chain when you can hear it starts to sound dry. No more unless you are riding in some pretty extreme conditions or washing your bike after every ride like the pros. I personally like a wet lube. Using it like I described, I never have issues with a black, oily chain, even in super dusty conditions like Bend or in wet slop like Portland cross races. My personal favorite is Motorex Wet. Motorex is a huge, Swiss based lube manufacturer that makes lubes and greases for just about everything under the sun. But unlike most lube companies, they actually set their engineers to design a lube for bikes, instead of re-labeling another product made for motorcycles or go-carts or whatever.
So spend a little dough on some good lube, use it right, and save yourself time and money. Taking care of your chain is like cleaning your bathroom. It’s easy and quick if you do it regularly, but it’s an awful and disgusting chore if you put it off and wait too long.