Racing 101: Completely Insane

I’m insane. Completely, bat-shit insane. I renewed my USCF Racing License.

Renewed. My. Racing. License.

What? I’m a 235# sack of crap. What use do I have with a racing license?

Incentive, maybe. I also sent in my Level 3 coaching license exam. I figure, if I’m going to coach, I probably need to get back out there in some form or other. Now that I’m not chasing upgrades and results, maybe it’ll be fun and spur me on to get into reasonable racing shape. I’m in as a 5 this time, no point in trying to kill myself by entering as a 3 or 4. And there’s absolutely no point in my racing Masters, that’s where all the really fast men are these days (some former teammates, I’m sure). At least I have the option of being pounded then dropped by two different groups of people, now. Maybe even two different groups at the same race. That’s a definite plus.

Anyway, I went to ask my bike-shop-owning buddy, Todd, if I could wear his shop kit (which I have), and got some encouragement there. Of course, this encouragement followed a look that said, “This guy is off his rocker. Maybe I should stay out of arm’s reach.” I’m sure there will be at least some discussion of my apparent sudden-onset retardation. He did say “yes,” I should mention. So, he’s not above the embarrassment of advertising on the lanterne rouge of every amateur race in the Southeast.

It’s a good incentive to train. I’m trying to figure out the whole coaching and training thing, so some experimentation on myself is an excellent idea. If I figure something out, then I’ll switch to the Eddy B-eating-doughnuts-and-yelling-from-the-car technique. (Hey, it’s tough to drive a straight line at low speed while hanging out a window cursing.) I’ll be posting progress reports regularly and (shudder) photos. You might want to avoid the Intarwebs for a couple of weeks.

What I Don’t Know About Bicycles, No. 1

Okay, I’ve been wrenching on and off since around 1987. Sometimes, it’s been more serious wrenching than others, but hey, at least I’ve been paid to wrench a bit, I’ve done almost all of my own bike work, and I know at least something about bicycles. Or so I thought.

As you can see by the photos, I’ve recently completed a new build. It’s a painted Ti frame from GVH Bikes, with a new SRAM Force kit and a bunch of other goodies. Although I own mostly 1980’s vintage steel with nice, easy quill stems and alloy bits, I own a torque wrench and I can read, so what the hell. I might as well have a modern racing bike, right? Some non-ferrous metals, some carbony goodness, that sort of thing.

In a couple of nights, the bike’s built. Then, the “so easy” build starts demonstrating what I apparently don’t know about bicycles.

The first thing I don’t know about bicycles: some torque wrenches can’t be trusted.
My first ride starts Sunday. I figure a quick 35 or so near my house will give me a chance to work out the quirks with the bike and still be close enough to home to fix things if need be. Within 2 miles, I realize my seatpost is slipping. Now, I’m not too concerned, since I have a wrench of just the right size to fix this. I pull over, hop off and readjust the seatpost, uncovering a nasty bit of decal damage to my pristine new Ritchey WCS Carbon seatpost. Joy. Whoever it was who decided that the decals on this seatpost should overlap the seat tube contact area should be beaten by a mob of coffee-shop cyclists in full Discovery kit.

Great. The seatpost is now scratched nice and pretty, so I can at least ride the bike. It is meant to be a rider, after all, and these sorts of things happen.

A mile down the road, and I still feel like it’s slipping. Of course, I’m paranoid by now, so I watch it. And watch it. Dammit, I knowit’s slipping. Wasn’t the seat collar at the edge of the “R” in “carbon”? Now it’s on the “R” proper. So, I slow to dismount and unclip my left foot, which swings wildly out, with an attached crankarm. More joy. I thought I tightened the thing, but as it’s clipped to my foot, I guess I didn’t tighten it enough. I make it to the edge of the road, and of course, I don’t have a wrench to tighten the crank arm with me. The first couple of threads have stripped a bit, and there’s a bit of aluminum wire from them floating about. Most of the threads are completely intact.

The seatpost has definitely moved a little bit. People have complained quite a bit about carbon/alloy or carbon/steel junctions, and my own little kludge–a Cane Creek seatpost shim for 27.2 to 30.0 mated to a Ritchey WCS Carbon seatpost–is setup just right to have some problems. That, however, can be rectified with the addition of the right materials, namely some of Tom Ritchey’s own Liquid Torque.

I decide to bail on the ride and call for backup, which arrives shortly in a Toyota Sienna minivan.

One day later, I figure I’ll repair my mess, mount the lights and go for a night ride in a nearby neighborhood. I dial my torque wrench up for the crankarm and tighten it until the wrench clicks. Done. No problem. I don’t think this will present any more problems, but I’ll get another crankarm ordered just in case. I reset the wrench for the seat collar, reset the seatpost, and start tightening. Crunch. The seat collar snaps in two and I drop the torque wrench, which neatly bounces across the seatstay, taking a nice 2mm chip of paint with it. Okay, now I’m angry. I drop everything and stomp off to eat a large bowl of cereal and three slices of pizza. Screw weight loss. Screw riding. Why don’t I just sell these things or just throw them out?

An hour later, regaining my senses, I question my torque wrench. I know I tightened that crank. I also know I used the wrench on the seatpost. Apparently, something weird is afoot. I’ve had the wrench for some time, and I’ve never had it do things like this before. Hmmmmm….now that the doubt is in my mind, it’s there for good. This thing is going out.

Looks like I’m going to by an Effetto Mariposa torque wrench. At least with it, I’ll know it’s all my fault.

Picture Page

Annoying photos that I post in forums get stuffed in here. Download and enjoy!

The weight weenies on Bike Forums, not to mention the more-nefarious activity on Weight Weenies itself, needed a comeuppance. Thus, I present my own ultralight downhill bike. It would have been lighter, but I had to beef it up for the rigors of downhill and freeriding.

Ultralight Downhill Bike

(I can’t really take credit for this fine ‘shop. If this is your photo, please drop me a line.)

Here’s my racing bike, before even being ridden. It’s a Garv V Titanio from GVH Bikes. It’s a welded Titanium frame, painted by Marinoni, and named after Gary V. Hobbes, the late owner of GVH. Frame weight was just under 3.5 pounds, unbuilt. An excellent value from an excellent shop. Give Tom a call and buy something nice; you’ll rarely find a better person in the bicycle business.

Gary V Titanio - Side


  • 58cm c-to-c seat tube, 58cm c-to-c top tube, welded Ti, about 3.5 pounds
  • Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork, all-carbon
  • SRAM Force group
  • Chris King NoThreadset
  • Ritchey WCS Classic bars, WCS 4-axis stem, Cinelli cork tape
  • Ritchey WCS Streem saddle
  • Ritchey WCS Carbon seatpost
  • Topolino Revelation AC29 wheels
  • Continental GP4000 tires
  • Time RXS Carbon pedals

All built, she’s 17.6 pounds in this configuration, though she’ll also wear Easton EA90SL wheels frequently enough, for another 100 grams or so of weight. Given the size of MY ass however, there’s not much point of her being any lighter.

I am particularly proud of the headset spacers. I have always liked the UCI World Champion rainbow, and here’s my homage to it: a set of Chris King spacers.

Gary V Titanio - Stripes

In all honesty, I went with the Ritchey components for pretty much the same reason. Call me vain. And be sure to tell me to “flip it.”

Of all the bikes I’ve ever wanted, a Cinelli Super Corsa was at the top of the list. Now that I’m old and fat with disposable income, I can buy one.

Here’s my baby, a 1995 Cinelli Supercorsa. She’s not quite what I had in mind back in 1988. There’s no Campagnolo hanging all over her, since that company has decided that black plastic is more interesting than polished alloy. Luckily, SRAM decided that Rival would be polished alloy. I couldn’t resist the addition of the Delta brakes, however. That pretty much defined “awesome bike” in my racing days. Nitto stem, seatpost, and bars make it a bit more attractive than the modern Cinelli ugliness, though the right NOS set might find their way onto her.

My Cinelli Supercorsa…hanging around

Check out my Deltas…

I’m still up in the air about these brakes. They’re extremely finicky to adjust (especially without the advantage of a Campy quick-release on the levers), and they have no tire clearance whatsoever. Plus, it requires a 3.5mm wrench to adjust (I ordered a bunch of them). Even with 23mm tires, I occasionally notice little scraping sounds if the tires get wet and pick up a little sand. I know Italians like their close tolerances, but this is positively GERMAN. Still, they’re beautiful brakes, and I get a lot of comments. If I ever decide to divest myself of them, it’ll show up here.

Delta Brakes

Oh, yeah, I like Cinelli…

I had to tie-dye the old-logo t-shirt, though. I can’t wear white shirts for very long. Apparently, my lips do not restrict the flow of coffee and pasta sauce as do everyone else’s.

Yeah, I like Cinelli…

Some time ago, I purchased a Cinelli Ti Grammo stem, in Art-Deco colors, like that the old Carrera Jeans team used to ride. It sat around, and I thought I’d NEVER find a bicycle that it would look good on. Until now. This is a 2000 Casati Ellisse with SRAM Rival and Campagnolo Record. Please note that the colors aren’t just close, they’re darn near perfect. Freaky, eh? This is the first case of a bicycle built to match a stem that I’ve seen. Am I a nut?

After receiving much abuse for the saddle, I’ve since changed it to a celeste Fizik Arione with matching tape. However, given my general dislike for ass-hatchet saddles, I have a green Brooks Swift that may find a place on this bicycle.

Casati Ellisse before saddle and tape change

Casati Ellisse detail

Okay, maybe this joke will get old, but Carlos over at has created the perfect kit for those without racing team associations. Strictly speaking, I’m registered as a member of the Higher Ground Bicycle Co. team, but until I lose this flab, they probably would prefer me to avoid wearing their kit. I can always use this photo as the “before” photo in my weight-loss ad.

Unattached rider kit

I have always wanted a Pogliaghi, since I saw one in a 1985 issue of Bicycle Guide:

1985 Bicycle Guide Pogliaghi

So, here’s my 1981 Pogliaghi. She may or may not be considered a “real” Pogliaghi, depended on Basso’s involvement with the production of these bicycles in the early 1980s, but she’s real enough for me. She’s built with Shimano Dura Ace 10sp and a Truvativ Rouleur carbon crank. The seatpost, stem and bars in this photo have since been replaced with Nitto (the only company still making attractive components) for a more-correct-if-not-Italian look. That said, I should mention that modern components are, in fact, better shifting and all-around better working, but older components are better looking. The fact that I ride this bicycle frequently precludes the use of a full period-correct Super Record group, or even the most beautiful C-Record crank I can find. I still love them, but I’d rather ride this. Heck, at least I have the 10 speed downtube shifters.

Pogliaghi before stem and seatpost change

I cut the steerer and rode the Gary V for a couple of weeks. I could NEVER get the seatpost to tighten up. It slipped no matter how much roughing I did to the surface, how much stick-um (Ritchey Liquid Torque) I applied to it, or how tight I clamped the seatpost (I snapped the seat collar). Thus, it is GONE. I have found Thomson to be the best stems and seatposts available. They’re strong and attractive in the most industrial way. I will not falter in my love for them, nor will I equip anything mean for racing or other utilitarian purposes in anything less. Thus, my “working-man’s” racing bike is now kitted out in Thomson with a Brooks Swallow Ti saddle. It may be a few ounces heavier, but it’s not going to put me on the ground due to catastropic failure (something you have to worry about at my weight–see above photo).

Gary V Titanio after changing bars, stem, seatpost for something better

I never had a nice mountain bike. The last one I purchased was for my father, a 1988 Schwinn Sierra. I still have it.

People at my favorite shop (Higher Ground Bicycles) are pretty into their mountain bikes, though, and Tallahassee has a pretty fair number of local trails and good dirt rides. So, I started toying with the idea that I needed a mountain bike. Then I saw John Kalin’s Surly Pugsley, and I knew I had to have one. Here’s mine, referred to as “Tallahassee Pugsley #2″ in all it’s glory. It’s a Deore build with Thomson (natch) and a sprung Brooks Flyer saddle. Although we have very little snow in North Florida, we do have a LOT of sand. The Pugsley tracks over the sand without a care–something that a 2” tired MTB will NOT easily negotiate. I can bomb through the sand traps without a second thought. Given my handling skills, this is a Very Good Thing.

I have never owned a bicycle that received more attention from non-cyclists. I have been engaged in conversations with men clustered around a barbecue cooker at a curb store, people in traffic, ladies at my daughters’ elementary school…you name it. Everyone wants to know about the Pugsley. And what can I say? It’s the coolest bike in the world.

Surly Pugsley…the coolest bike in the world

Uh oh. I got another bike. Given my predilection for Italian steeds, the likelihood of my owning a Specialized (nice as they are) or Trek (blech) is pretty low. This pretty much kept me out of the MTB market entirely, until I saw the Pugsley. Unfortunately, the appearance of a new Cinelli SoftMachine frame on eBay with a very low buy-it-now was a little too much to resist. I figured I’d hold onto it for awhile.

Then Todd May (Higher Ground Bicycle Co.) came along with a deal for a new Camry Hybrid for me, and he sweetened the deal by offering to build up the Cinelli. Bastard. That was too good to resist, although my wife was more than willing to give him $2000 more just to leave out the bike (as such, please see my auctions). She’s an XT build, again with Thomson, Mavic CrossMAX ceramic wheels (UST), and a Fox F80 fork. Without even trying, this came out to a 22 pound build, which I’m told is pretty light. The pedals are Time ATAC cyclocross pedals, which is a little weird, but then, I’m a little weird.

I’ve had to commit to racing this thing this year. Thanks again, Todd.

Cinelli Softmachine 2

Cinelli Softmachine Port Side

Cinelli Softmachine Rear Detail

Avid Brakes

Avid Brakes - pads

Easton Fork

Easton Fork - Detail

FSA OS 110 Stem

Easton Stem

Specialized Avatar Saddle

Profile Bars

Profile Bars 2


Kirk - mountaintop

Ritchey Stem 1

Ritchey Stem 2

DA WheelsetDA Wheelset 2
DA Wheelset 3

SOLD! 1984 Serotta Nova Special, 58cm

Update! My Serotta has SOLD! Thanks for looking.

Yes, I’m selling my beloved 1984 Serotta Nova Special frameset and fork. It’s a 58cm (c-c) seat tube, 56cm (c-c) top tube. Tubing is Columbus SL. It has an English bottom bracket. 126mm rear spacing, but no problems with a new hubset (I ran several without cold-setting). This frame has been treated with boiled linseed oil during my ownership of it.

1984 Serotta Nova Special Frameset

Paint has a few scratches and is getting a little brittle. Decals are the same. Some touch-ups were performed by the prior owner, and are visible. I have never crashed nor dropped this frame. This is an excellent frame and fork, and a great candidate for a repaint or restoration. I hope it will go to a Serotta lover and not one of the fixie-hipsters. Unfortunately, it’s just a little too short for me on the top tube, so I’ve moved to a slightly larger Cinelli Supercorsa (my lifetime dream bike) as I’ve gotten in better shape and become more flexible.

Matching yellow Bontrager bottle cages are included (they match the decals). The name decals are removable, and not painted on.

$300 with free shipping.

Contact me (Michael) at oopfoo(replace this with the “at sign”)

More bicycles…

1985 Vitus 979

Hanging over my piano, I’ve my 1985 Vitus 979. I built this bike up as new-old-stock with a Mavic component group. Currently, I have a more-correct front derailleur, but don’t have it in the size I need to replace the slightly older model on the bike. The wheels are a bit more current than the group (they’re Mavic Heliums from the 90’s with new Bontrager RaceXLites), but I liked the color so much that I had to put them on. Obviously, I have a thing about red. The bars and stem are Cinelli–not too incorrect, but I’m still on the lookout for the perfect Mavic stem for the combination. Still waiting on the perfect Mavic headset, too. The worst offense from a period-correct standpoint is the seatpost and saddle. American Classic and Specialized Avatar shown here. Vitus seatposts are floating around, as are NOS vintage saddles, but I’ve been too lazy to buy them, I suppose. The bike, when ridden is generally setup for 6-speed with period-correct Mavic hubs and Araya rims, though the Mavic shifters are index all around and will handle the 8-speed cassette shown here.

This illustrates the problem for some of us who want to build a classic bike but still have a few of the modern improvements available–better saddles, better shifting, better wheels. Do you have a museum piece or a rider? Which will it be, and how much crap will the Classic and Vintage people give you for building the latter?

Bicycle building…

I’ve been building bicycles. Now that I’m fat, slow, and with some measure of discretionary income, I’m building the bikes that I always wanted when I was young, fast, and weighed 165 pounds.

1996 Cinelli Supercorsa

First in line, my Cinelli Supercorsa. It’s a 1996 and a bit past the heady days of Cinelli glory, but the essence of the frame is still the same: Chrome lugged Columbus steel with a buttery ride. As I wanted an everyday rider, this bike presented a bit of a quandary. How should I build a classic Italian bike with modern components when Campagnolo’s top gruppos are all carbon and black?

After looking for 2006 Campagnolo Record in alloy, I finally found a crankset to go with the NOS Delta Brakes, but was unable to find the rest of the drivetrain to match. Angrily, I selected a new SRAM Rival group. I’ve since found it a superb set of components, well-finished and well-made. Perfect for the bike, although it may lose a few points for it’s Yankee/Deutsch origins. In addition, though I could have pieced together a pair of 10-speed Campagnolo downtube shifters from new bar ends and an old mount, I opted to keep the DoubleTap shifters. Glad I did. I’m pretty much in love with the simplicity and effectiveness of these shifters. I’ve since ordered a pair of Force levers for another build, just because they’re SO good.
That’s a matching Nitto bar/stem/seatpost set. Was unhappy with the Cinelli stuff I had around, so I found something as pretty to tide me over. Yes, I know it’s sacrilege, but something had to be done to make the machine rideable and safe. The saddle is a Specialized Toupe Team. Not too sure how I feel about it so far. I’ve found it a great saddle for <2 hours, but at around 2h30m or so, things start falling asleep. It may require simply more time in the saddle to overcome, but I have a Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow and a couple of Brooks that may end up replacing it in the long term. The wheels in this photo are my heavies: Velocity Deep V's in red. I have Easton EA90SL's for the bike, too, as well as Speedcific Niobiums for my Powertap SL 2.4. I chose this particular set for the photo, as I really like the red-on-red for it's overwhelming color. I have a red Vitus 979 with red Mavic Heliums, too. Everyone knows that red is faster, right?