AATLT: Bar Tape

You may have noticed that we’re big on acronyms here at RATG.

AATLT is All About The Little Things.  Today’s edition relates to….BAR TAPE!!!

I hate doing bar tape.  My A/R tendencies make me tape and retape, over and over again, to get it just right.  And then I get a wrinkle, gap, or other issue that makes me go insane.  But hey…after a while, I get it right.

When you get to the end of the tape and want to secure it to the bars, what to do?  My favorite wrap, Lizard Skins, includes some nice matching tape to finish the job.  That’s a perfect solution.  But if you’re rewrapping the same tape or using a different brand of tape, what do you do?  Sure…there’s always electrical tape.  But I have a cleaner, stronger, easier solution.

Silicone sealant tape.  It adheres to itself (and only itself).  Once it’s bonded to itself, it will not come apart.  It is waterproof and very durable.  But if you do need to take it off, you can cut it with a razor knife, and it will peel off with no sticky residue or anything else left behind.  You can also wrap it nice and tight around the end of the bar tape, and get a really nice looking edge/seal on the tape:

It’s available at home improvement stores everywhere.  This particular brand came from Home Depot.  After it bonds to itself for a while, it will not come apart.  No loose ends to unravel, no issues, no problems.  Just neat and clean edges.  The Vaytanium is much happier now…

By the way, the setup featured in the pic above is a 3T Ergonova LTD carbon fiber drop handlebar, 42cm, with Lizard Skins DSP bar tape over Bontrager IsoGel bar gel…for super smooth gravel riding.  I neglected to take a “during” picture showing the bar gel, but here it is:

AATLT No. 1.  Bar Tape with Silicon Tape sealant.  You read about it here, first.

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25,000 French Hydraulic Drop Bar Brakes

Ok…this could have been three posts, but it was more fun as one.  Three notes:

1.  We’re now well over 25,000 views.  So we’re doing something right.

2.  I don’t speak french…but there’s some pretty tasty bikes on this french biking site.  How did I find that?  Someone on that site liked the Vaytanium, and linked to it.  Cr-azy.

3.  Hydraulic Drop Bar Brakes…another take on them.  This looks kind of like the fancy-schmancy pieces that Gnat is using on one of his builds…the cable to hydro setup.  I’m sure it works really well…I’m waiting until everything is integrated like in this week’s spy shots from Sea Otter).  Here’s the pic:

Man…those are some beefy brake lines.

Secret Training.

Saturday morning would, this time of year, normally be a group road ride for me, out at NCC.  This morning, when I awoke for the ride, it was dumping and the radar was an angry dark green.  Accordingly, I had breakfast with the RATG family, and was fortunate enough to get clear weather thereafter.

I’ve been so overjoyed by the carbony wonder of the ENVEs on the Ridley, and it’s been such a dry few weeks, that I haven’t put many good miles on the Vaytanium lately.  So this morning, with a 42 degree mist falling and some 20-25mph winds out of the east, I mounted up on my titanium steed and headed out to my secret training ground.

I’ve found that my riding is much stronger this year–riding all winter has undoubtedly upped my game.  It has also upped the game of those I ride with.  My two weakest areas are: 1) sustained 90%+ efforts (e.g. fast group ride with lots of wind and lots of pulls); and, 2) longer climbs.  So in other words, I’m a great rider unless I have to ride hard or uphill.  Obviously, there’s work to be done.

I’ve found a local loop that is 7/10 of a mile.  There is a 900′ stretch of the loop (a little under 2/10 of a mile) in which you climb 120′.  In other words, it’s an average 13% grade, albeit for a relatively short duration.  This is still Illinois, after all.  Since there are a few spots where it levels out a bit during the climb, I’d venture that most of the actual gradient changes in the 900′ climb are probably closer to 16%, and towards the top, there’s a 20%+ stretch (but only for a very short duration).  The good news is the layout.  It’s not on a road, but it’s a looped, paved surface…so you ride a hard 900′, and then loop back 1/2 mile to the start–and hardly ever see any other bikes, walkers or traffic of any kind.  I’ve been using it for intervals, where I do one climb in the big ring, out of the saddle, at max effort, loop back, then do one climb in the little ring, sitting, spinning as hard as I can, loop back and repeat.  It is steep enough that when the pavement’s wet (like today), you really have to manage your weight balance between the front and rear…to much to the rear and the front will lift…too much to the front, and the rear will spinout.

It may only be 120′ of climbing, but when you put together 10 or more loops, it will kick…well, it kicks my butt.  It’s rare to find somewhere in my neck of the woods with elevation changes that are this significant and repeatable, on a paved surface.

On my other rides, I’m working on those 90%+ efforts, and trying to step up my game.  The funny thing about those rides is that I either run out of cardio (breath) or legs…but never both at the same time.  I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is that I’m doing differently…I don’t know if I’m pulling a bigger gear to slow my cadence and burning up legs vs. spinning faster to burn up cardio, but I’m trying to figure it out.  I’m also continuing non-traditional workouts at least 2 days a week…so I’m getting good exercise 5 or more days a week.  Even at that intensity level, I’m still holding steady at 150#.  Good news/bad news: I’m not losing weight / I’m not putting on muscle.

But I’m riding, feeling pretty well, and making some important changes in my life to improve my general outlook.

Riding the secret training grounds, and heck, riding at all this morning, reinforced that I want to be on the bike.  Even in crappy conditions, I still enjoy it.  And I love the Vaya.

It’s a Small World–Race Across AMerica.

I had recently posted how incredulous I was that, in my small sphere of cyclists, I was being exposed to the brandy-spankin’ new Domane.  Today’s post will be brief, but similarly incredulous.

Have you ever been dropped, on a group ride?

Have you ever been dropped, on a group ride, by a guy wearing a backpack?

Have you ever been dropped, on a group ride, by a guy wearing a backpack, who rode 22,000 miles last year?

Have you ever been dropped, on a group ride, by a guy wearing a backpack, who rode 22,000 miles last year, who is riding RAAM this year?

Amazingly enough, I can answer affirmatively to all of those questions.  One of the..ahem…stronger riders in the regular night ride at North Central Cyclery is a gent by the name of Paul Carpenter.  I just found out last night that he will be riding in RAAM this year.

Details on his website, here.

That takes a lot of dedication…and perhaps a minor loss of sanity.  RAAM is a non-stop, non-drafting cross-country ride.  That’s right–non-stop.  No ‘stages’ with rest in between.  The clock runs continuously, and you stop to rest when you want to…with the clock continuing to run.  Having read a few books about RAAM, it’s a race of attrition.  And, as indicated…no drafting.  It’s a solo pull the whole time.  There are a myriad of rules that govern what you can and cannot do, the route you have to take, what happens if you get lost, etc.

I’m just dumbfounded that a guy I know is riding it.  That’s all.

Clipless Pedals: Road or “Mountain”

I run the Crank Brothers Candy 3s on my Ridley because, frankly, it’s convenient to have crank brothers cleats on all of my bike shoes (road, mountain and winter), so I can jump from bike to bike.  In the immediate aftermath of that post, however, I’ve had a couple forum jockies post comments, and I’ve received a few blog comments and emails (some rather strongly worded, so I haven’t permitted them to post through) criticizing this practice.  The gist of the comments is that I should convert to a larger road platform pedal, for greater pedaling efficiency.

Is there really a performance or efficiency advantage going from a mountain pedal (basically, an eggbeater with a small platform around it) to a road pedal? My road shoes are carbon fiber sole (Bontragers…either RL or RXL–can’t recall off the top of my head)…so there’s not really a ton of flex there. And I see that some pros run speed plays, which are just as small, if not smaller, of a platform as my Candys.  And the Candy’s are reasonably light–so there’s not going to be a ton of weight difference (if any).

What’s the skinny on pedals for skinny tires?