Friday, April 25, 2014

never gets old

I had no teammates and was feeling eh, ok, not great, not really anything, just was there. Not sure why I was there, nothing to train for, but there because because.

I said I would set up Lunchrider for at least one sprint and Doug (his teammate) agreed, so on the 2nd or third sprint, we started lining up a bit a few back. The wind made it ugly to really ramp up the pace and when it slowed probably 100 meters before the "hill". Workowski shook his head at the slow pace and just to be a protagonist, went. Mind you Workowski is wearing a cast on his left arm around his wrist.
I checked my shoulder to see that Lunchrider (LR) was there, he was(2-3 back), and went to work and slowly started bringing back Workowski. By the time we got half way through the woods right after the slight rise, I knew I was going to blow up and started to pull to my right. And no one was really following at that point except a few.

As I pulled to my right, Bernstein came flying by on my right and LR jumped onto his wheel and they went 1-2 into the turn. LR didn't disappoint took the sprint for first.

Later on, somehow LR and I connected again and were 3-4 going into the hill. Yozell attacked and went hard, again as the pace slowed because no one, no one, wanted to be in the strong wind at that point. And if you did want to give it a go, that was the place to go, and it seemingly held pretty often.

Yozell got a solid gap, and I couldnt tell if he would come back, but it seemed like he would come back. One guy pulled off leaving QCW, me, then rick. QCW pulled through the turn, as I checked my shoulder no one was there. just me this guy and rick. And yozell dangling, checking his shoulder, begging to be brought back. So I jumped, or whatever left I had of a jump, waiting, and waiting and waiting for Rick to come by, so I kept on the little bit of motor I had left, but it was clear yozell had it to the line, so I figured I had second, but Rick came flying by.

Finally, on the second to last sprint, 3 to go, the one after BS attacked into the wind and took 5 points, there was a bit of a small conversation about trying to set up Rick again. Doug attacked or started to up the pace, I was not sure, so I jumped on thinking this would be the lead out, with Rick 2 behind me.

But Doug slowed and the other guy gave up, so I was out front again, so I decided I would just go for as long as I could and keep the pace high. Then an odd scenario happened. I checked my shoulder and saw that it was JB (old cycledrome teammate), then LR. As I upped the pace, JB sat up. Letting me ride away on purpose, and a pretty significant gap opened quickly, but I didn't want to ride away on purpose. But the gap was too big to wait.
So I went, halfheartedly, then check my shoulder and the gap was still there. I should go at least a little I thought. I checked again and it was still there. Then somehow it disappeared and I was fading. Turns out Doug then took up the pace making and brought me back but with LR in tow which I was happy to hear anyway, later on, since my effort was more out of necessity than purpose. LR was in good position and either took first or second, and it was second.

11 points for Rick. 2 points for me. Points never get old. They really don't. Almost as a bit of a relief to score some for the first time or just getting points at all, is still an accomplishment. Maybe even book worthy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Keywin Carbon Pedal Review, Comparison, and other random pedal ideas

3 contact points. Handlebars/shifters, saddle and pedals. Today I want to spend some time on pedals. I have spent time on all the major pedal systems except Shimano.

My first fray into clipless pedals were the Look Keo, then Look keo 2 max. Followed by time rxs pedals to speedplay to time iclic back to speedplay back to time rxs.
I really enjoyed all the pedals for different reasons. I liked the platform of Look and that was about it, the float never really worked for me, and I wanted to get something that wouldn't mess up my left knee. I never tried Shimano because they seemed too similar to Look and I moved to Time RXS.

Time was great and their float is some of the best available. Knee problems never went fully away and Speedplay was supposedly better. Long story short, I went back and forth between Time and Speedplay and never found something with the float feeling of Time, and adjustability of Speedplay.

Enter in Keywin

Keywin pedals have really been around for over 20-30 years. They really have been around since the beginning of the clipless pedal boom. They simply are a small business that never overly advertised, but were/are always well represented in Australia. Every year some local Kiwis come to the local track racing scene, and many of them use Keywins (which also offers one of the only pedals with a track adapter). Between word of mouth and a friend of mine using them I decided to ive them a try.

On the Chart...

I tried to pick the most current version of the pedals to compare numbers. I also tried to use companies websites to help find the "best" numbers. All the numbers are claimed weights. Although I could not find the cleat/pedal interface of shimano, I'd imagine they are par for course at 700, which is what it the current trend is trying to achieve.

Keywin pedals recently updated their CRM to Carbon as a newer model (2012-2013 I believe). The Keywin CRM (the one that was around for 20 years) became the Keywin CARBON crm. The main difference between the two being: carbon bodies (lighter) and also stack height. From the original CRM to the CARBON version, the stack height went from 17 to 14mm.  They are both controlled radial movement (CRM) even though the CARBON does not include it in its name.

STANDARD VERSION in the ~$200 range weight  total system cleats and pedals grams msrp spindle lengths tunable float float stack height completely  rebuildable cleat/pedal interface in mm^2
keywin carbon steel 224 grams 299 $225.00  yes yes 0 to 6 on the spindle 14   yes 3045
Speedplay stainless  206 g claimed 349 $200.00   yes no 0 to 15 adjustable on cleat 8.5/11.5  adapter yes 750/4 hole mounting 568/3 hole
shimano ultegra 260 grams 335 $200.00  no no cleat options 0,1,3,6 13.7  no n/a
look keo 2max carbon 244g claimed 312 $200.00   no no cleat options 0,4.5,9 15.7   no 402
time  xpresso  8 carbon  190 grams 276 $249.00 no/adjustable q factor by swapping cleats 2.5 mm yes 5 deg 14   no 700


You can say weight doesn't matter but it does. At least in rotational weight it does to me. Frame weight (I am a steel guy) doesn't have the same affect as rotating your feet (pedals, cleats and shoes) thousands upon thousands of times on a ride. There are two important weights up there. Not just the pedal weight, but also the cleats and pedals, because well, they work in conjunction.

Speedplay often is considered the lightest, but in reality, they are not. The cleats are par for course for cleats (around 85-90 grams) but most people don't use speedplays without the 3 hole adapter which adds another 55 grams, putting them at or above the same price point for pedal systems.

Keywin is only second to Time Xpresso's in terms of total weight. The main problem with Time Xpresso is their new (iClic, same as Xpresso) cleat has notoriously broken (did for me x3 times) and not very durable. So although Time Xpresso is lighter, I don't believe in sacrificing durability for weight.



As I think is clear the cost per a gram is actually less for Keywin than any other brand except again, Time, but I already covered that. Cost per a gram may sound stupid, but did you buy Dura Ace or Ultegra? Rival or Red? Chorus or Super Record? because depending on what you bought, you paid a lot more to save some weight and it wasn't even rotational weight.

Spindle Length

One of Speedplay's claims to fame (and rightly so) is offering different spindle lengths. Keywin has also been doing this for some time.
The concept is simple. You wouldn't just pick a helmet or handlebars, put them on your bike, or even saddle for that matter, you need the right size/fit for your body. Crazy concept.
Pedals should be the same. Graeme Obree chose a smaller q factor (or tread width) because it worked for him. Everyone is different so this varies. It even varies on correct spindle length based on the shoes you wear.

I was a long time wearer (2 years, believe me that is 2 decades for most people) of specialized shoes and they worked well for most standard pedals (which have a length of around 53-56 as standard--measured from where the pedal is in the cranks to center of pedal, depending on the brand).

When I switched to Bont shoes the drilling put my feet a little wider than I wanted/realized and when I tried Keywins in the -3 mm spindle lengths, I was amazed at the difference. And my body was pleased. Some of it is trial and error and other part is getting a solid fitter who knows what they are doing. Furthermore, changing shoes, inserts, and wedges definitely have more affect on the proper spindle length needed.

In this department Keywin and Speedplay win hands down with really 3 different options for either narrower or wider spindle lengths (a total of 7 options for spindles). I would call it impossible not to find something that works in this range. Also because they both rebuildable, you can buy different spindle lengths for different legs if necessary (which can save lots of money).

Other pedal companies are catching onto this and I believe it will soon become the norm. Shimano is finally offering pedals a 4mm wider option. Time has always offered adding 2.5mm of q factor by swapping the cleats left for right. Look now allows adding one or two 1 mm spacers to the spindle.

Tunable Float and Float all in one

To me most pedal's float feels like slop. It just feels loose. It lacks a connected feeling.
Time still has float but the float for TIME is built into the cleat. So it has a connected feel, but the only negative is that it will continually re-center on its original spot. It takes time to get just right but after that it generally is okay. That being said, re-centering isn't great for the body, at least theoretically it sounds off.
Time also has tunable float, 3 different settings that change how the float feels--tunable float. The float is still the same amount, but some people want the float to feel light while others like the float to feel tight. When I used Times, I had different settings for each foot. 

None of the other pedals--shimano, speedplay or Look have tunable float.  The speedplay float again is impressive with up to 15 degrees, but in my opinion if you are using all 15 degrees of float, you probably need a different spindle length. 15 degrees is a long way. And again, the float feels like slop.
All the brands, Shimano and Look offer float in their cleats, from 0-9.

Finally, Keywin does something no one else does. NO ONE. It offers float in the SPINDLE. As in the pedal and cleat move together move together. No slop. At first it feels weird. Here would be my challenge. Ride your current pedals with float that feels with what I am dubbing "slop" and then swap to Keywins. Then put your old pedals back on. Then realize you had slop in your pedal/cleat interface.

So with Keywin there is still float but you never lose that connected feel to the pedal and feel no slop. The float you will feel is from the pedal/cleat moving on/around the spindle up to 6 degrees and even an option to switch to 0 with a quick plastic piece switch.

Small, easy to remove plastic piece with 6 can be changed to 0
Also, you can adjust how the tunable float feels using a phillips head screwdriver by tightening or loosening a screw.
Small tunable float with use of phillips head screwdriver

Stack Height

I think stack height and pedals is slightly misunderstood. Shoes and socks probably have a more adverse affect on stack height than the pedals themselves do. Certain shoes have a large amount of carbon and material between the cleat and bottom of sole. More stack height. Oh wool socks today instead of light ones. More stack height.  Different size insoles, more or less stack height. There are a lot of variables. A lot.

But because these are comfort items, let's just look at the numbers.

Every pedal company has now dropped their stack heights to closer to 13-14mm in the past two years. Speedplay ends up being ahead IF you use a 4 hole shoe and NO adapter at 8.5. Otherwise, Speedplay with an adapter is 11.5 which is still a solid advantage, but remember you are clipping a cleat AROUND the pedal and not into it. That feels much different than most. 


If something breaks on a pedal, or bearings wear out, you should be able to replace them. I guess I think that for all bike parts. Bicycle parts are expensive and having to buy a new (insert item here) because the bearings wear out or a small piece breaks off is just silly. For many pedals this is simply the case, you must buy a new or almost completely new pedal set.
Keywin and Speedplay are the only companies who you can buy every single one of their parts and replace them relatively easily. You can make an old pair of keywins or speedplays like new without having to buy a whole new pedal in many instances.

Before the last topic, here is a chart of the high high end versions.

This is the -3 or 52mm version of the TITANIUM keywins, weighing in at 161 grams

keywin carbon ti 171 grams 245 $300.00 yes range of spindle lengths yes 0 to 6 on the spindle 14  yes 3045
spedplay nanogram (with adapters, subtract 55 grams w/o 3 hole adapter) 130 grams 273 $630.00 yes range of spindle lengths no 0 to 15 adjustable on cleat 8.5/11.5 adapter yes 750/4 hole mounting 568/3 hole
shimano dura ace pd sl 9000 212 grams 298 $400.00 no 4 mm longer axle cleat options 0,1,3,6 13.7  no n/a
look keo blade2 ti 180 grams 258 $400.00 no but yes, can put washer spacers on axle from 53<-->55 no cleat options 0,4.5,9 13  no 700
time xpresso 12 titan 152 grams 238 $400.00 no/adjustable q factor by swapping cleats no 5 deg 14  no 700

Cleat/Pedal Interface
Lof socks sneaking into review

ti spindle shown here

Last and certainly most important. Your pedals transfer power. That's where it all happens. You should want a solid connection and the most of your cleat touching the pedal so you don't waste energy.
Keywin wins. By quite a margin. Every company this year is boasting around 700 mm squared for their new high end pedals for cleat to pedal interface.

Keywin has over 3000mm squared. Almost 4 times the amount of surface area connected. Why/how is this impossible? No slop.

When I imagine what the perfect system for a pedal would be it would be a shoe and cleat build as one and pedal attached to it. Obviously this design is impossibly flawed since shoe sizes and cleat placement would be nearly impossible (or at least cost prohibitive to build).

With Keywin you get as close to that as possible. You step in and then turn your shoe towards the crank and you are in. You are cleat and pedal are totally connected and there is no movement between the cleat and pedal (to unclip you turn your foot out like normal). It is a totally different feel than any other pedals. Therefore the surface area is constant. You are always connected.

It actually takes a few rides to get used to. At first I wasn't sure about it and put my Time pedals back on, and was instantly surprised at how much I felt like I was "losing" power. Because the connected feeling was gone. I put the Keywins back on and have never looked back. 

A couple of notes before I make up some cons

I never liked Speedplay and the way it connects via lollipop, it just doesn't work for me. And never felt 100% stable. The Keywins with their large platform, with a connected feel, solve this problem for me. The cleat also have ample room for fore/aft adjustment of cleat. The left to right movement is given through the spindle.

I am a closet weenie with a steel bike. I like light parts. But they usually come at an astronomical price. Keywin finds the right balance of almost the lightest and below the competitive cost of others. Hard to do as a small company, but they do it.

A made up list of cons

Turning the foot inwards to clip in. For Keywins it is simply how you clip in and how the system works. It is worth the difference in feel. So it's a fake con.

The cleat isn't made for walking. Oh yeah, neither is my road bike. If I wanted to walk, I would not take my road bike, I would go walking. Fake con number two.

The clipping out is probably a *touch* harder than other brands, but just like anything you get used it (and wonder why it is so easy to unclip other pedals).  

They take time. The cleats and spindle take a little bit of time to get used to. Also, you should try different spindle lengths to make sure you have the best one. Or find a fitter that knows what they are doing. If you ride them once and take them off, I would encourage you to compare them very closely to the pedals you were using.

Full Disclosure

I have been using these for over a year and half now and love them. Simply love them.

Dodgy knees, yeah you should try these.
Hip problems(often back too), try spindle lengths differences.
Oh you want more power out of sprint, yeah you should try these because they have the largest platform.
Climber, want to push cleats back further, try these. Every type of rider would benefit from them.

This made me realize, I want others to try these too. I have benefited from them, so should others. So I became a dealer of Keywins. One of the few in the United States. You should try them.

They are so good, that I am offering folks (people who I trust), the chance to try them for free, no obligation. If you don't love them (in a proper spindle length), I will buy you a beverage and/or pay for the shipping both ways. Seriously.

Cheers and happy riding.

Friday, April 11, 2014

First and Another Thursday Night

The parking lot felt the same, maybe even a bit more energetic than usual, it was above 60 degrees which made it feel like summer after this past winter. There is almost a smell that accompanies the place, maybe spring, maybe the park, not sure. And I still haven't gotten used to the trees being down in the middle of the course, but for some reason it makes the last turn feel safer.

And one thing I never get used to, for the first time of the year, is the suffering. This is year number 5 of doing this training race and every time, no matter how fit I am, it hurts. And I remember, as if it were for the first time, there is a different level of riding and actual feeling and leg speed and flexibility and body contortion, whenever I do this crit for the first time of the year.

So I looked around and it was normal. Most of the usual crew with some guests from QCW and some of the local engines, it was not going to be a relaxed night. And there was wind. The kind of wind that feels difficult even when you are hiding in the group, but it still is much easier there.

Even the roll out, warm up laps felt fast. Everyone just wanted to get started. By the second lap there was lots of movement and some of the Lamprey team was up front, so I joined and sat 3rd or 4th wheel by the time we got to the little rise. It was hard to predict what would happen in the sprint because of the wind being a slight cross head wind that made it difficult to find shelter. And I wasn't sure about my legs,  probably more my mind than anything, but I was going to sprint because that is what sprinters do, even if they are unsure of the outcome, if nothing else but to hope an outcome. So as we got through the woods, the QCW guys attacked on the right, and it was tough to see if they were going to get through and I hesitated, (which means I had already lost), and tried to sneak into the inside line and couldn't hold onto what could have been fourth and had to settle for 5th (or better known as 0 points).

The second sprint seemed possible but again timing and lack of legs meant I had nothing, so I did some work here and there while Marten attacked before the 3rd sprint and Joe and Greg blocked like good teammates do and Marten stayed away for 2 sprint laps (almost 7-8 laps) with two or three other guys.

And then the attacks came like they always do, some hesitant while others more convincing and eventually around the midpoint or slightly thereafter, an attack stuck, and all of us who do this ride enough, and then saw the composition of the riders, knew it was going to stick, regardless of what we did the group. And the attack stuck and Marten was in it which meant Joe and Greg blocked and I think I did for a little but then was too tired either mentally or physically to do it anymore and I sat on.

I was tired and sitting around the middle back of the field and thought about moving up but didn't really want to, and thought about the fight I just had with my wife, one of those fights that wouldn't be over later that evening, or maybe even later this weekend, it would be over eventually when one of us would relent, but neither of us were there yet.

Then I snapped back into it and felt as though I had just done the same turn about 2 seconds ago, and almost forgot I had been riding, and then felt that way again and was happy that the race was soon over. I was trying to decide if I could leave early around 715 in case we didnt get done by 730 because I had to be home by 8. But the laps kept ticking by and the time didn't so I forced myself to sit on, tired and tired. And with one lap to go and tired legs and mind I decided it was a bad idea to contest the sprint and LR being a good friend and also sitting in, joined me for the last half of the lap we would do and joked about the usual things we do.

Couple of notes

I have no doubt Joe or Greg could have been in the break if he really wanted to, but instead sat in and played good teammate.

It was good to see the Cycledrome guys out in full force, such a good group of guys.

Twice I checked my shoulder to see who the new Cycledrome rider was (seriously I thought it was a new guy) and then realized it was Larry. Larry apparently lost 30 pounds this winter. I love that guy, so good for him and that means everyone should be scared because he looked like he was putting out more or the same watts with that much less weight.

LR will be bringing guns to knife fights by the end of the year. He has actually been riding, and a few more rounds (see what I did there) of leg speed and he will be winning races.

BS attacked to attack just to attack and that is always good sign.

Maybe I didn't see it that much, but it felt less squirrely last night compared to other big nights in the early season. I am not sure if it was the composition of riders or just because of the wind separating things, but only once or twice (not unusual for any night, anytime) did I think  that was a dumb move or that was a scary moment.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Expletive-ing Battenkill

And after 3 (maybe four) months of training it was finally here. All the "after Battenkill" to do list would finally be a reality. I was just ready for it to be over.

After a solid block of training, I was feeling good, then got sick for 2 weeks and it never really went away. There is the start of excuses. But really I was sick, and still am and it still sucks, cannot breath properly.

Greg had everything overly prepped for battenkill, in a good way. Bikes, nutrition, sleep arrangement, heck I probably could have arranged for a masseuse. He took care of everything so thanks again for that. I knew exactly where I needed to be for the first few miles and even when we got there, between the house, food--everything really, all I had to do was show up and race. It is probably about as pro feeling as it was/is going to get. Except this is a race that suits none of my skills.

So domestique was really the goal. Grab bottles, offer wheels if it got that bad, and just look out for everyone. We had a silly strong team but this was a silly hard race.

As I understand it, the race really starts in getting to the bridge. I should back track. I had a lot of self doubt going into this race and somewhere along the line between friday and saturday it never really went away. This is a bad way to start a race. I was still going to race because I think I know how to do that, reasonably well. In some ways Battenkill is less of a race and more of a monkey knife fight kind of ride. People just keep getting dropped until the peloton is no longer a peloton, and the group that got away isn't really a group that got away but rather just a group that was riding and just happened to be faster.

The race starts after the covered bridge so I am told by Greg (about 17 times), so that meant, getting to the bridge (mile 5) in the top 10-15 out of 120 starters (of the 150 that registered). And Greg was right. We got through the bridge at around 8th, 10th, and Joe on my wheel around 11-12th. And we hit the first dirt section and it was a pandemonium. Soft, wet, mud and potholes everywhere. Every where. People were riding from left to right, and right to left with total disregard for others. Trying to find the fastest line which seemed impossible.  Still in the top 15. Bottles falling out and bunny hopping every 10 meters. And I dropped a bottle. More self doubt. Then I settled in for the next couple miles of this and made a right hand turn down into another dirt section.

Single file, attack. Time to just hold a wheel. Oh yeah, this is racing, this is how it goes. Self doubt going away. Another hard effort up the road and a slight gap. So I shift down and start to go across to wheel and I can't pedal. Stuck. Chain still on big ring. Wheel still in. Chain stuck. Against the 11 tooth cog and dropout. I tell myself it is going to be fine and try to heel kick the chain out of dropout. Not working, try again, kicking the spokes by accident. Unclip, off the bike. Anger, lots of anger. Try to pull out chain by hand. Still not working.
Look back and see there is still another 60 guys coming. Maybe I can figure this out. Slam the wheel out of dropout and push it back in. Everyone gone. Up the road. I should give up. Call it day. Expletives. But they aren't that that far away. Give it a go. It might as well be my last effort. So I sprint, all out and am deep into the red. Hit the bottom of perry hill and catch the back of the group. Effort up the hill. Holding onto a wheel. The road flattens shortly. And now it kicks again, and everyone goes and I have nothing. Nothing. Too much effort to get there. Done. I ride slowly and then just ride.
I am not riding the rest of the ride (55 miles) by myself. So I just want to get to the first feed station and call it a day. The next 15 miles take forever. I ride up Juniper which is literally mud and and soft ruts throughout the climb. My cyclocross skills must have paid off a little, as I am one of only 2 people actually riding it faster than walking pace, because everyone else is walking (>15 people). I ride for another eternity and think about how it feels like I wasted 3 months of training for this. Then I realize, like I always do, that in the end and in the now, this really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it matters to me all at once and both are ok. And eventually I get to feed station and find lamprey systems feed/car. Day over.

A DNF was not something I hadn't ruled out when I started the day. I have ridden a lot this year and racing for 90th wasn't really what I had in mind for the day. I have looked at the limit screws on my rear derailleur and they are all properly set. The only explanation (logical one I can think of) is that when I shifted into the 12 or 11, I simultaneously hit a bump in the road (which of course I did since they were everywhere) and it hopped down the cassette into my dropout, quite miraculously. I have never had this happened to me ever before and judging by the damage it did to my dropout, it certainly was a freak thing.

Lastly, I will never do this race again (with expectations). (If I ever do this again) I will truly enter this race, as if it was a ride or fast group ride or even gran fondo feeling because after 25 miles even riding by myself, this course was/is waaaay too hilly for me. Meaning I will not train for this race again. I am designed for a lot of things, but to go up (steep) hills fast (over and over again) just isn't one of them.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Guess I have never done this...

...Trained. On purpose. With a singular goal in mind. It just has never happened. Sure I have trained for "the season." The season being a vague, open ended words for doing races occasionally and wanting to be fit. Maybe march series or first thursday night of the year as a way to gauge some of the fitness.

Long gone are days of crazy base miles (I am not sure they ever actually happened).

So instead, I get fit over the winter by riding here and there, getting the on the rollers and getting outside whenever possible. Often structured, through the coldest parts to minimize the boredom and avoid frostbite. Sure that is training, but it is not training for something in particular.

Battenkill. I swore I would never do it. In truth I got tricked. Greg slowly dropped hints all winter about the reasons I wouldn't be able to do battenkill and I confirmed them all. Then as the battenkill registration came up, he started pressing me more to register. I started to reach into my excuses bin, and as I did, I realized he had already asked all the questions and backdoored all my answers. The only reason I could think of was I didn't want to ride, which was not be true.

So it wasn't until the most recent (and only) march series crit is when I actually realized that I was only training for battenkill. Afterwards, I will be taking a break. Not a long one, but a break of sorts. I did remember, that I do love racing. That's what got me into this sport in the first place.And it was fun to be with people and share the stories and excitement that come with it. But I have never worked at a singular event and it is starting to suck.

But right now, after this winter of training, I just want the next week to be over. Not to mention I got sick and am basically taking this week off. We keep joking, and seriously all at once, 1 more week until the off season.
I want my riding to be over. Or I want to stop thinking about racing one race. I want to not have a singular goal. In the end, it will probably "be good for me" in the way that working through and having discipline are good, but it has been awful for me in my own rebelling heart of not wanting to be forced "to train." Maybe that's why some riders say they don't train, because they don't want to think of it as something that is forced even if they are training. Or something odd like that. So for me, a few more forced days on the bike.