1985 Trek 770 Review

Today, we speak of a new offering from Trek, with state of the art technology.

  • Double-butted Reynolds 531 tubing
  • Campagnolo Super Record drivetrain, with 12 forward speeds!
  • Campagnolo Super Record brakes.
  • Campagnolo Super Record downtube shifters.
  • Campagnolo Super Record seatpost.
  • Cinelli stem and one-piece aluminum bars.
  • Flat-top fork with Tange C-14 cast crown.
  • Investment-cast dropouts and lugs.
  • Concor saddle.
  • Factory-advertised weight of 19 pounds.
  • If we could do color photos, you’d see the eye-searing Pink finish…

Ok, ok.  So it isn’t 1985.  If it was 1985, I would not be able to straddle a 56cm bike.  It’s 2014.  Let’s revert back to color.

This is the top-of-the-line Trek road bike from 1985.  This is the Madone 7 of 1985.  It is a recently acquired ride for me, and the reason for the acquisition is simple: I’m incredibly spoiled.  I’ve spent my riding “career” on the dreamiest bikes around.  I’ve never had a road bike with fewer than 20 speeds, nor have I had a road bike that lacked integrated shifting.  Ever.  I’ve never had a drop-bar bike that wasn’t either carbon-fiber or titanium.  I have no historical basis to judge what a bike rides like in comparison to the greats of yesterday.  I watch old Tour footage and old Giro footage, and I wonder–desperately wonder–what those bikes felt like.  And thus, the 770 has made its way home.

This bike is all original (zoinks!) except for the bar tape, cables and housing, the hoods on the brake levers and the wheels.  Yes–original saddle, yes original drivetrain, yes original paint.  Yes.  Original.

Amazingly, it weighs 22 pounds.  More than 8 of those 22 pounds are the portly 36h cheapo Shimano hubs, Wolber rims, SS spokes, cheap tubes, and 25c Specialized tires.

So what are my plans?  Sandblast and powder coat?  New decals?  Update to Di2?

No.  The plans are simple.  It has a few small maintenance items needed (new brake pads, new derailleur pulley wheels, new cables) and it really needs some different wheels (as these are not original, are super-heavy as noted above and are a bit sketchy).  Last night, I did the derailleur pulleys, brake pads, and a new seat post clamp bolt.  Next, the plan is to ride it.  That’s it.  No restoration.  No fixing the paint chips.  Just ride it.  (At least for now).  It’s running 25c tires at present, with heavy wheels, so it’s a bit difficult to compare it to ‘modern’ bikes that I have ridden…but that will come.  I am amazed by how responsive it is, and how spot-on the geometry is for a road bike.  I’m also amazed at how skinny the handlebars are (both in width and girth), and how narrow the bike feels overall.  She’s got a few scars, but they’re signs of character.  This is an amazing bike.  Amazing.  Fun is in store.

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There IS a future in the past.

As I haven’t yet devised a way of taking blogging full-time, it comes last after a long line of other things I get to do, and things I have to do.  Family, friends, work, actually riding bikes…these all take precedence over blogging.  Nonetheless, I do like to check in from time to time and drop some thoughts.

Today, we’ll talk about bikes of the past, and for good reason.

My first bike was a hand-me-down.  I never had a tiny bike–my first bike was a 20″ Schwinn.  It was a dark green, with rusty chrome handlebars and hard, orange plastic grips.  It was decades old when I inherited it, and it had previously served as the chariot of my older brothers and sisters, and before them, my aunts and uncles.  I distinctly remember my first ride without training wheels…getting a good firm push down the gravel driveway, pedaling pedaling pedaling pedaling, and experiencing the exhilaration of two wheels…until I realized I didn’t know how to stop.  The gravel pile that we kept on the farm loomed ahead, and thus I plowed into it full speed, coming to a rather precipitous stop.  Helmets?  Nah.  We didn’t wear helmets.  We wore Toughskins.

At the time, my brother and sister had some really sweet bikes.  They were Raleigh Rampar R-7s, like this one:

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 12.28.23 PM

My brother had a black one, with white decals, knobby BMX tires, and these great, soft-rubber black grips.  My sister had a blue one–the blue shown in the picture, with fenders, a banana seat, and this crazy slick rear tire that had squared-off shoulders, instead of rounded shoulders.  I lusted after those R-7s for years, until my sister outgrew hers, and I inherited a baby-blue bike with a banana seat and a slick rear tire.  Those parts gave way to a traditional saddle and knobby tires.  Soon thereafter, the bike sprouted a front basket and this PA/Alarm/Siren system on the handlebars.  My brother and I would spend countless hours riding all over the farm, chasing each other, being the police, being the bad guys, and generally riding ourselves into the ground.  We rode those bikes into the ground, until bikes stopped having as much importance in our lives.  We got an ATV, and spent more time riding on four wheels than we did on two.  When last I saw the Rampar, it was rusting away in a shed on the farm.

For a period of quite a few years thereafter, I don’t remember really riding bikes, or spending a lot of time on them.  We spent a ton of time outside, but not really on bikes.  I never had a “10 speed” or anything like that–though I did steal a few rides on my brother’s Raleigh.  I’d spend the occasional hour or two bombing around on the Rampar, or riding my parents’ Diamondback hybrids, but it wasn’t for several years that I had a bike of my own again.

 That next bike was a Raleigh Eclipse CX…basically a flat bar cross bike.  A representative picture is shown below:

 photo NancyBbikes0732_zps96586340.jpg3×7 drivetrain, v-brakes, flat bars, 35c tires.  Essentially, an early, flat-bar version of what I spend a lot of time on now.  That bike lives on, at my brother’s house.

The Raleigh was a nice bike.  Reasonably fast on pavement or the local limestone paths, and easy to shift and ride, it was my first ‘modern’ bike.  And yet, the riding bug really didn’t hit me.  I had it for years, and eventually passed it on to my bro, predominantly because I wasn’t riding it.  That, and because I replaced it with a full suspension mountain bike.

I have no idea who made the mountain bike.  I do remember it was an aluminum Y frame, single-pivot, rim-brake 26″ “mountain bike”.  I picked it off the rack at Target, largely because it had a sticker saying, “Shimano Equipped”, and I had a vague recollection that Shimano made bike stuff.  It too had a 3×7 drivetrain.  The front fork was coil-sprung with no dampening and no adjustment.  The rear shock was coil-sprung, again with no apparent dampening.  I ended up adjusting the shock’s coil to basically eliminate any travel from it, because otherwise, it would bob incessantly.  My very brief ‘in the Target’ test-ride did not reveal that flaw.

This bike was heavy, shifted poorly, would barely stop, bobbed incessantly under pedaling, and was not very comfortable to ride.  In retrospect, it was probably built wrong, never properly adjusted, comprised of amazingly cheap components, and the wrong size.  (Target offered one size: adult).  I then entered another component of my life without a bike, as I couldn’t stand the dang thing, and sold it (on Craigslist, for what I paid for it).

The next time bikes entered my life was a few years ago, starting with a Trek Fuel EX 5.5, then a Trek FX, then a Scattante road bike, then the Ridley, the Vaya and so on.  But there’s a part of my riding experience that I’ve always felt was missing…the 10 speed experience.  Other than the Big Dummy, I haven’t spent any substantial time on a steel bike…and never on a lugged frame.  I haven’t really experienced down tube shifters, or 1″ steerer tubes, or the feeling of an older bike.  This–this will change.


Man, you’d look great in our (Night Bison) T-shirt.

On August 31, 2014, at Civil Twilight, the Night Bison will depart from North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, Illinois.  You should be there.

You should prepare for the ride by pre-ordering a Night-Bison t-shirt (printed with this wonderful logo):

And by ordering an awesome Jake Early limited edition Night Bison print.

Full details on pre-order are available on the Axletree site here.  Pre-orders for the t-shirt are available here.  Pre-orders for the Print are available here.  Click, buy, come, ride.

Pre-ordering is kind of a big deal.  This is the first time we’ve tried pre-orders.  Usually, we order a batch of shirts based upon anticipated turnout, and then people show up, buy us out of shirts, and complain that we don’t have enough.  This year, we’re trying the pre-order option to give people a chance to buy what they want…and we’ll print what people order.  This also gives people outside of Northern Illinois the opportunity to get in on the awesome gear if they’d like, as well.

Note: buying a shirt or poster does put you in the running for door prizes, as well.  It’s a pretty sweet deal all around.

Ridley Noah for Sale

My beloved brother decided he wanted to get into cycling.  I did what any devoted brother would do, and worked to put together for him the nicest bike I could find.  It turned out to be a bike that had nicer parts than any bikes I owned at the time.  It’s this bike:

Here’s the deets:

  • 2012 Ridley Noah, with all of the aero enhancements (split fork and seatstays, aero frame shape, aero texture strips on leading edges)
  • 56cm frame (measured from center of steerer tube to center of seat mast.
  • Currently at 78cm from center of cranks to top of saddle.  Will go up 2cm, or down as far as you want.
  • Campagnolo Record drivetrain.  53/39 chainrings on Campy hollow carbon 172.5mm cranks.  (Pedals not included).  Campy 11 speed Record Carbon rear derailleur, 12-25 11 speed cassette.  Campy Record 11 speed chain.
  • Campagnolo Record brakes and brifters.
  • New bar tape on Deda RHM02 handlebars with Bontrager 100mm x 7d stem.
  • Fizik Pave Sport saddle
  • Bontrager RL bottle cages and wireless computer.
  • Fulcrum Racing 3 wheelset with Hutchinson Carbon Comp tires.

After two rides and thirty miles, my brother had the indecency to get promoted to Captain on the fire department, get married, have a baby, and otherwise engage in conduct that precluded him from giving this bike the love and attention that it required.  Bad news for him.  The good news (for you) is that this bike is now for sale, in the format as described above, with just 30 miles on it.  This is a bike that has a $2,000 drivetrain on it.  The wheels are $550.  I’ll throw in everything else for free.  That’s right.  Buy this bike for $2,500.00.  I’ll ship to the CONUS for actual cost (professional packaging and shipping by a reputable bike shop).

Seriously, it’s a fantastic bike, and needs a good home.  Your home.  This is the bike that prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to say, “America is all about speed.  Hot, Nasty, Badass Speed.”  You need this bike, this bike needs you.  Synergy.

The bike is super-clean.  There is one little imperfection in the clear plastic chain stay protector (shown).  Otherwise, super clean.

Super fantastic internal cable routing.

Super amazing bike.  For you.


It is somewhat terrifying to acknowledge that there has been a bout of Skipalottapullitis going around lately (Latin: Refusus Laborus).  Skipalottapullitis is a social disease, communicable among cyclists riding in close formation.  The mode of transmission is relatively well documented.  Typically, the disease will be spread by a host infected with the pathogen who introduces it into a peloton.  The locus (place where the infection is absorbed by the victim) for the infection tends to be at the front of the peloton, and the route of transmission is through indirect contact.

In epidemiology (the study of diseases), some diseases are spread by vectors.  Vectors are host organisms that do not exhibit any of the symptoms of the disease, but which still carry and transmit the disease.  Skipalottapullitis is never spread by vectors; the host organisms always display the relevant symptomology.

Symptoms for skipalottapullitis include:

  • Nervousness or sweating when a cyclist finds him/herself at the front of a pack actually having to work.
  • Ducking out of a rotation to avoid doing work, under circumstances where not absolutely required by fatigue.
  • Refusing to pull through when a cyclist reaches the front of the pack (this symptom usually manifests itself in less severe cases as either simply refusing to pull through (i.e. adhering to the front rider) or, in more advanced cases, it can manifest itself as trying to stay on the wheel of the front rider and pushing other riders out of the way (i.e. the double rider pull through).
  • Creating a wide array of situations where a rider does not have to do any work during a cooperative group ride.
  • Lagging towards the rear of the pack in any instance where work is likely to occur.
  • In those circumstances where an infected rider finds him/herself at the front of the pack, the rider may exhibit symptoms of confusion such as stopping pedaling, or even applying the brakes.
  • The development of hoop-adhesion syndrome (also known as wheel-sucking).

Skipalottapullitis is extremely infectious and, if left untreated, can completely ravage or even kill a peloton.  Early, aggressive treatment is required to eradicate the condition.  If the treatment is not provided, the most advanced forms of the disease can manifest themselves.  In advanced forms of the disease, even strong riders can become infected.  In such cases, the hoop-adhesion syndrome often manifests itself and riders will exhibit hoop adhesion until a sprint opportunity presents itself, at which time the riders will suddenly develop the will and ability to ride quickly, sprinting away from those who did the work to get them to the sprint point.

There are circumstances where skipalottapullitis can be advantageous, or even encouraged.  Social group rides with friends are not among those circumstances, however.  It is highly recommended that such group rides inoculate themselves against skipalottapullitis, lest it reduce the peloton to a quivering pile of 15mph knees and elbows. Inoculation consists of conversation, creation of friendships and mutual respect, and the insertion of similar social barriers that make it obvious and awkward for the disease to be transmitted.

If you, or someone you know suffers from skipalottapullitis, get help before it is too late.  Start group therapy, today.

The Ten Thousand

A few weeks ago, I rode the Ten Thousand.  We had anticipated having a group of 5, but then the weather forecast suggested it would be really severe weather…and our group dropped down to Lenny, Tobie and I.  In contemplating whether riding was a good idea or not, Lenny said that, “To suffer is to live.”  (I realize that in the original Nietzsche, it is “to live is to suffer”, but I think Lenny said it better).  I was in.

As we rode up to Freeport the night before the ride, we were talking about the most memorable rides we had ever done.  I talked about the muddy sufferfest that was Brown County last year.  Lenny talked about a myriad of other similar experiences he had.  We both agreed that the rides which are the hardest, in the worst conditions, are the ones that are often the most amazing.

We briefly partook in a pre-ride gathering at Freeport Bicycle Company, and then hit the sack for a good night’s sleep before the ride.  In the morning, the weather forecast suggested that we would hit rain first thing in the morning, and then would either perish in a tornado, or would have moderate weather all afternoon.

We signed the incredibly well-drafted waivers, and prepared for the ride at scenic Krape Park in Freeport.

There were two ride length options–about 75 miles, and about 125 miles.  You know which one we picked.

The Moots was packed with 3 bottles (I had a 4th in my jersey).

I also had a small Tangle bag (you can see below, about 45 miles in).

For food, I had a mixed bag (literally).  I had a bag of salted cashews, a few energy bars, a few gels, and a packet of roasted and heavily salted yukon gold potatoes that the Mrs. had made for me.  (Brendan had turned me onto that option a week or two prior, and it was wonderful).  Immediately before the ride left, I downed a sandwich and a few pickles.  On the ride, I had a gel at mile 20 and started eating potatoes at mile 30.  (The picture above is at the mile 45 rest stop, where I was refilling water bottles).  Note on water: there was a water stop at 45, and gas stations at 80, so I only had to bridge 45 miles max.  I took four bottles, anticipating that I’d use 2-3 (weather dependent) and have a fourth for emergencies and/or to help other riders.  As it turned out, that strategy was perfect, and I never touched the fourth bottle.

On the rollout, it did start to rain moderately.  No wind, no lightning…just a moderate, warm rain.  Nothing to frown about.

I should note…pics are by Chad Gregory.

When we got to gravel, it was wet, but not unduly soft.  The going was good.  Here, you can see Team Axletree–me on the left, Lenny second from right, and Tobie on the right.

I brought a camera but no memory card (d’oh) so I didn’t get any pictures.  As it turned out, that was a good thing…it let me focus on the ride.

By the rest stop, we had established a good pace and knew what to expect from each other.  I had (as noted above) eaten a gel and a few potatoes.  Shortly thereafter, I finished my potatoes and had a energy bar.  I had a gel around mile 65.

We spent a good chunk of miles 20-60 with Andrea from World of Bikes.  WoBAnd was an incredibly strong rider, and held her own when we were with her.  She was also pleasant company to ride with.  She endured our karaoke and questionable humor, and held a great pace.  Her goal was to finish in 12 hours, and by the end of the day, she had done so.

The roads were amazing.  I had done a preview ride a few weeks earlier, but the 125 mile course had even more to offer.  The route was truly majestic, and had inspired choices.

Around mile 70, I started to feel like death.  I wanted nothing more than to get off of the bike.  At mile 78, I could see the town that had a gas station in it, but it really seemed like a good idea to get off of the bike and look at that town from 2 miles out for a while.  I didn’t stop or get off the bike, but only because Lenny and Tobie were pushing on.  We got into town, and I saw a gas station to our left, about 1/4 mile up the road.  I wasn’t sure if that was our stop or not, so we turned and went there.  I was desperate to get off the bike.  (On a related note, had I mentioned that most of my training rides were no longer than 70miles?)

At the gas station, I must’ve looked pretty bad.  Lenny looked at me and asked how I was.  I told him the truth–I said that I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff, and I wasn’t sure what was on the other side of the cliff.  He gave me a concerned look, and suggested that I not go over the cliff.  I downed a gatorade, a bar and a bag of salted nuts, we paused for about 5 minutes, and then got back on the bikes.

As soon as we were back on the bikes, I felt immensely better.  Much, much, much better.  In retrospect, I believe that is what they call “bonking”.  Having never done it previously, I can say that it sucks.  A little sugar and a few more calories in me, I was recharged and ready to roll.  We got back on route, and rolled past the Casey’s that was the intended stop for riders.  Since we had just stopped, we rolled past (and watched the jaws drop on other riders as they assumed we were just going to finish without stopping).

The temps were in the 80s, light wind, and relatively overcast skies–the weather was pretty ideal for riding.  (The only downside is that we were soaking wet all day from the morning’s rain, which left some weird skin abrasions on my legs, under my bibs).

We reached Hanoi Road, and rolled through under pretty good conditions.  By this point, some 95 miles in or so, we were all pretty quiet.  We would ride our own pace up the hills, and regroup at the tops.  If Tobie or I dropped off, Lenny would go back and mother hen us back together.  I can genuinely say that it was pretty amazing seeing how unfazed he was by the day’s riding.

With 15 miles to go, we saw a few other riders in the distance.  Recognizing them, it mustered up all of the remaining gusto I had left.  If we could see them, we could pass them.  I got down in the drops and poured out the rest of my energy into the pedals.  We passed them, they grabbed on for a few miles, and then they dropped off.  The last 10 miles was essentially Lenny pulling us back into town (with Tobie offering him a few respites).  I did not contribute anything to the group effort for the last 10 miles.  I was cooked.  But we did finish the last 15 miles at over 20mph average speed.

We finished in just under 10 hours elapsed time, with two five minute stops (rest stop at 45, gas station at 80).  The route was fantastic, and the ride was incredibly challenging.  I learned a great deal about myself and about what it feels like to bonk.  I also learned more about how incredible my friends are.  The Moots, in ever typical Moots fashion, was flawless and perfect all day–I couldn’t think of a single thing to change.

I don’t know how to conclude this ride report.  It was incredibly challenging–far more challenging that Almanzo, and many times harder than the Gravel Metric.  It was also incredibly rewarding.  I am unbelievably grateful that I decided to ride, and that my friends persevered and rode as well–and thankful for Chad Ament’s fantastic efforts in finding and devising such an incredible route and event.

How to finish this?  I’m already thinking about how to do it better–and faster–next year.