Monday, October 09, 2006

Three-Dot Lounge: Hellyer Park

Howdy cross fans, and welcome to the wonderful month of Hottober. Which is, in case you didn't know, one of the four months of cyclocross season: Bumptember, Hottober, Mudvember and Freezember. Though yesterday's race, being still early in the month, was a little of both Hot and Bump. And the weather experts are still divided as to whether there will be any mud in Mudvember this year or if it will just get hotter.

Speaking of bumps, nice turnout yesterday for the first round of the Bay Area Superprestige at Hellyer Park. Hands up, how many of you dropped your chain on that course yesterday? I did too, except I need more than two hands here. Mark Noble, he could've dropped his chain a couple times and still finished well in front. As for me I'm still looking for one of my kidneys. I'm also looking for a mechanic who can explain to me the finer points of third-eye setup for single chainring. Seriously, email me
here 'cause I need help.

Speaking of gears, if you run double chainrings on your bike you may have wondered what to do with the vestigial 11 or 12 cog that invariably comes on those stock-bike cassettes in back. Seriously, unless you're Barry Wicks you probably have no need for a 53-12 in NorCal races, or even a 48-12 for that matter. So here's one idea mentioned to me on the course yesterday: run junior gears. I bet most of you didn't even know the USCF re-introduced junior gear limits, but in fact Shimano makes special cassettes in 13-25, 14-25, 15-25 and even 16-26, which have one-tooth steps through most of the block. For serious big stud appearance run a 44 single in front and you're golden.

An unfortunate milestone was crossed in the Babblesphere last week when Editor John "Keep It Clean" Funke was forced to shut down the comment line on my doping post. In light of all the messy emotions stirred up by my article, I resolve and promise to do a better job this week and absolutely refrain from mentioning anything that could be remotely viewed as controversial. Natz qualifiers.

Administrative note. If you were out there taking photos and want to share with others, hop down to the
race report blog and post your link in the comments. Funke or I will try to remember to put up a photo link in the reports section each week. Judging by all the guys out at Hellyer with big cameras that looked like they cost more than my bike, you must have got some good shots. Post 'em.


Blogger funkdaddy said...

There was a lot of chain-dropping out there. I still think a standard FD with a 3rd-eye (or equiv) on the inside is the best way to keep your chain on. Other things to consider:

*Obviously remove as many links as possible
* Perhaps use a more solid (i.e. metal) chainwatcher - my 3rd eye is plastic and will give if the chain gets jammed in there. There's nothing worse than dropping your chain under your 3rd eye.
* Backpedaling is a bad habit that will drop chains on bumpy courses, when setting up for a corner, make sure to pedal forward to get your pedals in place.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Velojuice said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Velojuice said...

I run a metal chain catcher then modify it putting it a little forward on the chain ring. It has to be just right to work well, but if the chain comes off it "catches" on the metal and when you pedal it comes back on by keeping it from truning backwards to far. Might be a little confusing I can show you sunday. After a couple adjustments during warmups on sun I hit it just right and didn't lose it once during the race. I did lose my legs somewhere though, if anyone finds them let me know

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Jim Macdonald said...

I have very good luck the double chain guard kit. The TA chain ring in the kit is an unpinned "outer" ring. My set up is Chain guard on the inside of the crank, chain ring on the outside of the crank, 5mm spacers, then the outer guard. My single chain rig sits where the big ring would go on your road double.

I dropped the chain a few times last year during training, and it was always to the inside. So, I flipped the chain ring around. This places the chain closer to the inner chain guard and improves the chain line a bit. Maybe this would be a problematic setup for up north in the mud, but for here it works fine. For chain length, I use the basic Sheldon Brown method of enough linkage for the big big combination +2 links.

Once I set the bike up like this I NEVER dropped a chain. I never worried about my chain yesterday at all. NEVER! I knew others were going to have problems yesterday and that the chain setup would help me squeeze into a money spot. This setup also prevents dropped chains due to kicking of the pedal on a dismount. 1 season never a dropped chain, going on 2.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So would it by completely lame to run a DH chain guide?

4:48 PM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

I have had the good fortune of not ever dropping my chain with my current set-up. Yes, I am refering to my geared bike, not my SS. I have found by leaving it in my big chainring all the time as well as running a third eye chain watcher while always pedalling forward has been the key. I run a 39/46 with a 12/23 and with the exception of deep mud(Portland Nats) and DFL races by skateparks, I am able to stick to my plan of big ring only. I ran a single ring for 2 seasons but ran out of gear too often. I tried a 14/25 cassette too which came up short a few times in sprint finishes. I do use my 12 & 13 often and will put an 11/23 on for certain fast courses (Gloucester, Candlestick Park)and am glad to have the extra when needed especially if there is an extra fast or long start. I run the third eye so it wil rub on the chain if I am in the small ring and large cog. I will also set the inside limit screw on the f.der to rub again if my chain is on small ring and large cog. These things have worked for me well. I am SURE someone will disagree with all this but it works for me. Lates, Rich

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Brij Lunine said...

Who can ever argue with Rich Maile? Especially regarding the adjustment of derailleurs. The gearing is another matter for those of us w/out his power (most folks).

Messeur Carr asked about single ring w/a guard and watcher which I'm running on the advice of the Lobsters (42x27-12). It kicks my butt training but was working perfectly yesterday--I felt the chain come off towards the end of the rough section and get back on a number of times. CCCX#2 was another story. The chain must've bounced up from the bottom and gotten forced down underneath the blasted 3rd eye. This is a real drawback. It was also a real bummer. So I'm switching to the sandwich: two chainguards. It seems obvious in retrospect and pretty impossible to drop with this set up but chainline and spacing is an issue. Also note how many riders use this set up vs. the single guard w/3rd eye. My LBS was a bit dumbfounded and kept trying to convince me a DH chainguide is necessary. I had to just cite convention and not wanting to buck it. I did have to order a bolt kit w/spacers from because the LBS didn't have the right combination of bolts and spacers. Ahh the early season bugs...

Best of luck with it,

8:46 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Ok Rich, this is too funny - I'd say the same exact same thing except that I stay in the SMALL ring all the time, save for extremely rare situations. Kinda showcases the difference between our styles - Nitro/Gasoline vs. Diesel. My god, man, 39/46 and 12x23 and you never use the 39?? I go 38/48 and 12x27 and I never use the 48!

No, Rich doesn't have problems with his chain, it's all with his TIRES. How many flats did you get yesterday? It was fun going mano-a-mano with ya until doink! psssssssssst...

10:48 PM  
Anonymous J. Suzuki said...

I used a 46X36 with a 12-25, and as frikkin' bumpy as that course was, I never dropped my chain. I did use both my big ring, and towards the end, the small, but the key was to "keep pedaling"!

I've also been thinking of going single ring this year, but all this talk has got me re-thinking, what's an old guy to do?

Still haven't decided!

See ya' next weekend.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Here's a trick I learned from my DS & DH days (for front derailleur folks). Shift your front derailleur to the big ring. Notice the gap between the top of your chain and the underside of the derailleur plate. Reducing that space can help keep your chain from bouncing up and off the big ring.

First determine how much of that space to fill. The chain needs to climb up and over the ring's teeth. So at a minimum a gap the height of the chain needs to remain plus a little extra. The remaining space can then be filled with a spacer. I've used brake pads since they fit well and are around the correct size. Slide one into the space and then use a small zip tie to hold it down.

Now make sure you can shift smoothly from the big to small ring and back. Do this test with the chain shifted to the extremes on the rear cassette.

Nice, simple, and dirt cheap chain keeper.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

True, I had zero issues with the chain a the Hellyer waste station during my race because I was on my SS due to ending the life of yet another new tubular tire that was on the geared bike. This was the 4th flat in as many races this season. I'm noticing a lot of other folks (Alan losing 35+ race) ruining new expensive tires more this year than in years past. I KNOW the tires are not getting lower in quality, so anyone with some thoughts? Maybe a new thread, ehh DC or JF?

7:15 AM  
Blogger Benjaminiac said...

i ran the third eye/single ring setup a few years ago and it only ended in heartbreak. it was great when i was training and at low stress events, it's just when it really mattered (sitting in the first group at a UCI event with 1/2 a lap to go) when it would invariably drop and leave me fuming at the side of the trail.

i've found that double guard is the only way to go of you gotta do single, but why cut down when it's 1) dry so you don't need the mud or mechanical advantage and 2) dry so it's bumpy as hell and your chain falls off.

run the double ring and derailleur.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

maile's comment reminds me of a quote from the resident strongman on my college bike team:

"Always, ALWAYS, use the big ring"

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gordo says the nice tires don't belong here where it is hot and sunny, hard and rocky. Use the inexpensive Tufo's that have black tread and red sidewalls. I think they are Pros and don't have the LPS label on the side. Only bad thing is they only come in 30 or 34 width. I would guess that the nice Tufos are being made lighter then years past and that is why they are not holding up.
Rich, time to sell more skinsuits to buy new tires. Ciao, Kongo

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"inexperienced" crosser says run a single BJM style (42T w/ 32/11) and 35c clinchers to avoid dropped chains and pinch flats. At 178lbs I ran 42psi rear and 38psi front and it got me though the race trouble free. Don't ask me what happened in CCCX#2 the week before.....

Like I said though, I am unexperienced and probably just had good luck coming my way since I had a large withdrawl of bad luck previously.

my two cents,
steve reaney

12:57 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

This whole tire issue doesn't warrant a new thread, Rich, because the answer is obvious:

1) There were a few rocks out there amongst the grass/sand/wood chips.

2) After age 40, the eyesight is the first to go.

I saw them, you didn't.

Neither did Alan.

Case closed.


1:53 PM  
Anonymous ak said...

oh no, not ageism, J Funk. Truth is, we did landfill cross. I removed a couple large, and dangerous looking chunks of asphalt from the course, no need for people to wreck wheels and faces out there. Maybe Tufo, etc. can come up w/ a cheap, norcal landfill cross tubular for us. Sad fact, a lot of racers, not a lot of good venues.
BTW...been riding a single ring 42/12-27 for last year or so. Just went back to double 46/38 x 12/27 and having a hard time w/ the extra options and wide range between the two chainrings. the 42 seems so perfect.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...


3:01 PM  
Blogger chessmaster said...

Avoiding dropped chains with a single ring / 3rd eye setup is all about chain length, and the resultant chain tension. I basically set mine up so that the rear derailleur would rip off if I took out another link, when I'm in the 25 cog in back. This is contrary to traditional advice on road setups, but once I drastically shortened the chain, I've had no issues, including last laps as USGP's :)

4:08 PM  
Blogger Linda Elgart said...

Re: Landfills

We really do have some good venues in Sac this year. Penn Valley had GRASS, and people loved it. Rancho Seco will have GRASS, and it's in a park, too. And our final race, at Granite Regional Park (not Granite Beach) is all on cross country running trails, fast, pretty smooth, and while there isn't green grass, there is a nice nature preserve in the middle with a pond and ducks and stuff.


5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sure linda.......

gonna throw in any horses in the route like districts last year?

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was bitchin, the best cross riders are able to improvise around all the obstacles not just the pussy shit at the Bay Area races!!!! Rock on Bro!!!

7:47 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

hey ... are we even gonna have a Districts this year?

and, i likes me sum Sacto action.

... oh, and i still want disc brakes.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

olaf your so cute

wish i could be your saddle

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually id take off the saddle and id be your seat post and have you race on me......olaf

here is to giving away beer and drinking beer on campus this coming weekend at surf city

beer party at a highschool campus!!!!!!!!!! i know the falculty will like that.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...


and if you think faculties don't drink...

party at Soquel!!!

9:56 PM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

and pie
you forgot about the pie

there's also grass at Soquel, but its the Linda/Granite Regional duck park kind.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

Oh and...

The beer will be warm. Please don't drink it on campus.


10:08 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Olaf, Districts is on the Calendar, it just doesn't say "Districts" yet. You'll know very soon.

...plz just no more disc breaks

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im thinking districts on dec 3rd and in the bay area near the ocean.

i make the choice and that is my final choice~!

ok everyone Dec 3rd pilarcitos series will do the districts

have fun

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Notacontenda said...

Back to chain dropping, I stayed in the big ring all day, and kept pedaling throughout to keep chain tension. On the bumpy downhills, I used my brakes to modulate my speed while keeping the pedals going. I can do that because I'm not a contenda.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all this big-ring stuff, does seem to be about style as you guys in front could lap me w/shopping carts..but notice the pros using single rings w/double guards over the years without spinning out(trebon, wicks, wells, gully)? - there do seem to be lots more flats, at least here (3/4 DFL races, etc.)...more rain = more weeds/thorns/more hidden stuff? - Evan

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
I saw a set up on Bart Wellen's bike you might think about, he had a single ring with the two chainguards and a front Shimano derailleur clamp around the frame, no derailleur of course, but a long bolt, locked in place with a simple locknut, through the hole. That than was positioned just above and across the chain guards, to stop the chain jumping up. The bolt looked like a 6mm about 60mm long. You could not actually take the chain off the ring because of the bolt.
Hope that might help you, I plan to fit them to my bikes asap!
I shall see you soon at the race on Nov 26th!
All the best,

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Brij Lunine said...


The Wellen's set up sounds great. I think the only way the chain could pop off would be a freak twist from the bottom--hard to imagine, but probably possible given the Murphy's Law in racing situations.

Definitely worth thinking about. Thanks,Brij

1:04 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

I was wondering if anyone had done something like that (the Wellens solution). Cool - I'll stick with the FD, tho.

BTW RE Tires and flats - you HAVE to consider the course when choosing tire pressure - just because you supposedly can't pinch flat a Tufo tubie doesn't mean you can run them at low pressure on all courses. Tho it would have taken the sting out of all those bumps, I consciously decided not to go below 40psi because of those rocks.

I'm a firm believer that flatting is (generally) not just bad luck, but usually a result of rider error or bad judgement.

...until I get MY next flat, of course, I'm sure that will be due to bad luck ;-)

12:13 AM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

I agree with JF on the pressure thing. I used to run my tires 28-32 psi but with more hazards in the earlier dry races I seem to be more like 38-45 psi on tubs and 45-50 on clinchers. But as it was pointed out, bad eyesight has been my worst enemy. On the chain guard set up like Wellens, there was a guy who I saw at races a few years ago that made his own frames that had this same set up. I can't remember his name(old age again) but Taylor might have been it. It looked good and seemed to work well. Lates, Rich

5:55 PM  

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