Viva la Shinytouch

This isn’t an equipment blog. I spend too much time thinking about the stuff of biking as it is, I don’t need to indulge myself by writing about it, too. And besides, every bike has a story, usually interesting only to its owner.
I got a new cross bike. This one has been six months coming, and I’m so glad I got to ride it this week that I just gotta share.
Late last fall, I became aware of the reincarnation of Spooky bikes. Apparently the original company came and went during the ten-year period starting in the mid-90s when I really wasn’t paying attention to cycling. Now, Mickey Denoncourt, a self-described “underachieving overachiever” out in western Mass, is bringing it back. His commitment to domestic manufacturing really caught my attention. He wants to bring production jobs back to Massachusetts. As a guy who pushes bits for a living, that somehow struck home.
In January he announced that he had 2009 team framesets for sale, so I called him up and we talked a little bit. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse on a frame, fork and headset. I paid right then, but didn’t take possession of the parts until early May. On the bright side, I did get to talk to Mickey once a week for status updates. I kinda miss that.
While I was waiting, I had the idea of getting the frame polished. I’ve been easily distracted by shiny objects since I was a kid, staring at pictures of P-38s and B-29s in books, so “shiny” means “speed” to me. In fact, it wasn’t so much an idea as a vision – polished frame, blacked-out fork, wheel sand other parts. I hate it when I get an image like that, because it usually causes me all kinds of trouble and a pile of cash. But making it real is the only way to get it out of my head.
I poked around the Internet a bit and came up with Mirror Finish Polishing. He had a picture of an MTB frame he had done, so I figured he knew what he was getting into. He quoted me a six-week lead time. I sent the frame off in the third week of May, figuring I’d get it back toward the end of June and would have plenty of time to get it built up. Well, estimates being estimates, I actually got it back while I was away at the PMC. But Tony did shine it up quite nicely.
Once I had the frame squared away I could focus my compulsive behavior on components. I recycled levers, derailleurs and crank from my road bike, but I needed to scrounge chainrings. Cyclocross-appropriate chainrings for Campagnolo cranks are hard to come by. After a few evenings of searching, I ended up calling Zank and getting a set of 36/46 PMP with the Campy-specific not-quite-110-BCD-drilling rings from him. He also saved my bacon when I hesitated on buying another Record/Reflex wheelset and suddenly couldn’t find hubs in stock anywhere in the US.
A few late nights of bolt turning and cable cutting, and, behold, the Shinytouch!
Spooky Supertouch
Click through for a few more pictures.
Best of all, while lots of other riders are still getting their race rigs together (sorry guys), I got to ride mine twice this week! One nighttime park-and-neighborhood session on Thursday night, and a full-on cross practice Saturday morning. Cross newbie Scott K brought his new Major Jake down to the local middle school and we stomped down the wet grass for a couple hours. The bike did pretty well. I got the front brakes squeal-free on the first try, even. The front end might be a little light, so I may need to find a bit more drop or reach, but the drivetrain is race-ready and the saddle position is just right.
Less than two weeks to Quad Cross now. The first and last time I did that race, 2006, I didn’t do well with the backside of the run-up in the woods. I’m much better with the skills now, we’ll soon find out if I’m good enough.

D2R2 – 100 Km of Vitamin Dirt

Yesterday’s ride: the 100Km “lite” version of the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee, aka D2R2. A 1000-word entry on this beautiful and brutal ride would do it justice. But the bike-build time is encroaching on the bike-writing time, so I’m going to have to just hit the highlights tonight.

  • In addition to meeting various folks I know online, I bumped into a guy I used to work with and haven’t seen in about 9 years. He told me what he was doing now, and I thought he said something about running a “meatery.” Well, not quite.
  • I ran out of traction and bike-handling halfway up the first dirt climb, Old Albany Road. This road was extremely loose and gravelly, and there were basically no good lines. The organizers started riders in small groups, which meant less congestion in the early miles. Still, my so-so low-speed skills and 28mm Paselas weren’t enough, and I fell right over, bashing my knee on a rock. Guys on cross bikes with 32mm tires did fine. But I sure did like the long-reach caliper brakes later on in the day.
  • To the bearded gent playing bagpipes on Cooper Lane – thanks. The pipes always give me chills.
  • Checkpoint 1, at 12.9 miles, came up in about 1:05 of ride time. Fortunately, things got a little faster after that. Aside: it’s a 100 Km ride, but the cue sheet is marked in miles?
  • The Franklin Hill Road climb was probably my favorite. Hard-packed dirt hairpins. 34×29 was definitely low enough for the 100 Km ride.
  • We ate lunch in a little riverside clearing near a covered bridge. I could have stayed there all day. In fact, I should have stayed there all day, since I flatted on Green River Road just a couple miles after the stop, losing my spot in the BikeBarn paceline. I had 2 tubes and 2 CO2 cartridges. The contents of the first CO2 went straight out the vent hole in the inflator. Fortunately, the second one did its job and I got rolling again.
  • The 180 K and 100 Km routes join briefly after the lunch stop, and I got to ride with Doug Jansen for a little while. I said “hi” and asked how he was doing, knowing he probably didn’t know who the heck I was. He was looking pretty good, coming back from a broken ankle. At that point I think he was a little ahead of his group, since when we turned on Nelson Road he lagged behind a little, checking on a guy who was having some kind of mechanical issue, and I climbed on.
  • I rode most of the third section solo and made it to the 50-mile checkpoint before the BikeBarners left, but again lost my spot when I stayed behind to have a couple more of the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. Apex Orchards, wow. I need to go back.
  • After that I played a little leapfrog with gruppo Zanconato, catching up to them right about the time we hit the Hawk Road climb. The descent down the other side of that gravel track lived up to the “gnarly” description on the cue sheet. Washouts and wheel-eating potholes everywhere. I was thinking about my soft rear tire and having to drive myself home, so I went slow.
  • We finished in about 5 hours of ride time, with maybe 6000 feet of climbing. I didn’t exactly attack the ride, but it’s plenty challenging, and not at lame, as some (who, as far as I know, haven’t done the 100 K or the 180 K) might have you think.
  • Alas, I had to skip the beer-drinking and storytelling portions of the agenda and scoot home. Maybe next year.

I took a few pictures, but Darren’s are better.
Anyway, the scenery and good company make that a high priority for me to return to next year. And Ge, if you sign up for the 180K I will do my best to ride every pedal stroke alongside you.