Look a little closer:
That's right, drive train changes.
I love my bike; I’ve had it since 2007. In bike years, that makes it a toddler. Perhaps the more meaningful measure of time is hours. Hours spent in the saddle. For LD riders miles or kilometers is another important consideration. I don’t score ‘off the charts’ in either category (time or distance) but I will say I am surprised by how quickly the years have passed and how pleasantly the miles have rolled away behind me. And the bike has been a big part of the pleasure.
For long distance riding, the fit is the thing and if Tournesol isn’t my perfect fit, it’s close enough that I don’t notice. Every time I roll down the driveway, it feels like slipping on a pair of well worn boots. High praise, but like anybody who rides a bike, there are things I would change if I had unlimited resources.
This bike has pretty much done all I have asked without so much as a whimper. Perhaps it’s a shame that a bike can’t whimper once in awhile because if it could I probably would have given the Tournesol a little better care and maintenance in the last three years. I’ve ridden this bike over some pretty nasty roads; miles and miles of farm country chip seal checkered with truck size pot holes. And because it is designed for bigger tires, I’ve put them on and ridden over plenty of ‘native surface’ and gravel roads. That flexibility, to ride ‘rough stuff’ roads has been a fun new element of riding this bike. This in all seasons, and we do have a long wet season here which punishes a bike and it's components all the more.
I’ve attended to the minor maintenance over the years but sooner or later components begin to wear out. Sooner if you are not methodical on the regularly scheduled maintenance. One thing leads to another and then well, time for some decisions on what to fix and what to replace. The drive train on my bike is at that point partly because I ask a lot of the bike (I’m a big load) and partly because I have been less than meticulous with the maintenance.So what to do: replace in kind or, since replacement is in order how about a little switch up? The chain and cassette are definitely in need of replacement. The chainrings still have life in them but nothing lasts forever.
I talked this over with my good rando friend and fave LBS mechanic Cory and he helped me get comfortable with some changes that I have been thinking about for awhile.
I've replaced the Campy triple crank set. I modified the campy triple a few years back by replacing the 30T granny with a 28T Salsa chain ring. Iin it's place Cory installed I a compact double set up from White Industries. We have a lot of White Industries components on the tandem: rims, hubs, cranks, and the chain and idler rings. White Industries may be the best manufacturer you’ve never heard of.
The new crank set comes with 44 and 30T chainrings. We replaced the 13X29 campy cogset with an IRD 12X34 cogset. 32 teeth on the back, gad that thing looks like a pie plate, it's a little embarrasing.
We also installed a new bottom bracket. There’s lots of discussion in the two wheeled world about the various highly regarded bottom brackets (and other components) that are available. Like White Industries, SKF is not widely known for bike parts, but if you google them you find they are leaders in industrial bearing technology. I went with the BAS 600 bottom bracket.
This thing comes with a 2 year warranty and includes a patented seal design and roller bearings on the drive side. Was it Keith Bontrager who popularized the expression “Strong, light, cheap. Pick two"? Well this little gem scores in the bulls eye in the strong category: cheap and light, well not so much. Of course a new front derailleur was needed, to save a few dollars I went with Campy Centaur.
Cory assures that I’ll have the same (or nearly) bottom end. Granny may be gone but her replacement should suffice. I’ll be sacrificing the top end and some overlap in the middle gears. Ah well, I have not been employing my 'Mad Descending Skilz' all that much in the recent past. I will be happy if this serves my needs, and hope for the added benefit of smoothing out occasional balky front end shifting.
A number of you have sent well wishes, condolances, and supportive notes as a result of my recent flop on the SIR 600K brevet. Thanks I appreciate it, mostly I like that it means people are reading here. Turns out I was a little sicker than just a case of rando plumbers disease. I've spent the last 4 days at home with chills and fever, upper respiratory issues, back on drugs, on, and on, and on, not what I want to write about.
It was a blow to me, because I had done relativelty well on the 400K a couple weeks prior and I honestly thought I'd get through this challenging ride, so to bail in the first part of the first day was a bummer. And of course getting a 600K in the books enhances the odds in the great PBP ticket lottery.
It's got me thinking, or rethinking my long term goals. Plenty of time for major decisions later. Right now, I just need to get healthy so I can ride my new bike!