Heavy Pedals

A friend from down south showed up last night on a fancy new road bicycle from Independent Fabrication.  She’s had it for some time and I was delighted to see it.  As for the title of this blog–never you mind it.  Few of my titles make sense.  My friend’s pedals aren’t heavy (until you try to push them on American Classic rollers–that story, plus video, is below).  Just now, please join with me in gazing upon the machine’s loveliness.  [This is the last time I will apologize for bad photography.  Sometimes light just isn’t around when pictures are made.  There it is.  I am over it.]

While I was leaving to photograph the bicycle, the owner hollered at me  to notice the bar plugs.  She both knows me well and scooped me!  I love anything Nitto and didn’t know they made bar plugs.  I am hugely jealous.

The frame and fork are steel.  The owner was given the choice of a carbon fiber fork, but wisely went the other way.  Her cranks are carbon fiber.  Part of the SRAM Force group.  Those are my only quibble with an otherwise super smart bicycle.

My gurus tell me to be wary of carbon fiber, so I am wary of carbon fiber.  There is no part of catastrophic failure that I want to knowingly bring into my life.  The owner of the bicycle had a keen interest in quizzing our friend from the north (a materials scientist at GE who works with carbon fiber) about carbon fiber.  He agreed with my gurus.  Great stuff for certain applications (think windmill blades with very consistent and predictable loads), but not so great if you mean to pedal atop it.  Small abrasions can lead to catastrophic failures without warning.  Easy to nick a fork or a crank.  Easy also not to see the nick.  Maybe you’ll see it, but be tempted to ignore it, as the cost of replacement can be very high.  

A crank of carbon fiber isn’t as scary as a fork.  Most pedaling is done seated.  A crank failure while seated is less likely to cause a crash.  This is no different than pedaling with certain Sturmey Archer three-speed hubs.  If poorly adjusted or not well maintained, they can freewheel forward.  If this happens while you are standing to pedal, you are likely to have a fall.  Some advise remaining seated when pedaling with these hubs.

I don’t want to make too big a deal about this.  SRAM is a very good company making high quality parts.  The carbon fiber cranks are probably reliable.  You need to decide for yourself.  When deciding, keep in mind that metal cranks can and do fail as well.  If you keep a metal crank clean and inspect, though, you might get a warning of impending failure in the form of a small crack.  Maybe metal polishing around the crack.  Maybe creaking.  Maybe not.

Maybes are all around us.  Maybe we had some drinks and maybe the rollers came out.  A recipe for disaster, but our drinks were insufficient to run caution completely from the building (but something was cowering in the corner).  I was the only one coming off of them, but had sufficient experience to relax, balance and step off after coming off.  The other rider is just skilled.

The rollers were American Classics.  Their small diameter drums mean very high resistance (hard to pedal).  No added resistance device is required.  Smaller drums spin at a higher rate than larger drums, so the resistance is built into the design.  Easier to balance on rollers if you keep your wheels spinning quickly.  Not so easy atop these.

I’ve never appreciated properly inflated more than when on these rollers.  When I was strong, I could shift to a harder gear to increase the intensity of the workout.  As I am just now, I seriously doubt I could turn the pedals in the easiest gear for even twenty minutes.  Must pedal more.

I put the Independent Fabrication bicycle on the rollers first, before the owner came downstairs.  I couldn’t move the pedals.  The chain was on the big cookie in front (the owner is a strong rider) and I simply couldn’t make it go.  Rather than shift to an easier gear, I put the bicycle aside and waited for the owner to return.  Truth be told, I don’t know how to shift with brifters.  I’ve done it once on a Shimano system in a repair stand, but that is it.  Sure, I could figure it out, but not on rollers on someone else’s bicycle.  I like to shift while pedaling lightly.  Negotiating this on these rollers on someone else’s bicycle wasn’t going to happen.  No video of me not turning the pedals.

I put the ANT Light Roadster on next.  The wheelbase is longish so the front tire overhung the front drums.  Just a bit, though, so I was able to make it go without coming off the front.  I did end the short session by coming off the side.

The owner of the Independent Fabrication went next.  She does very well for her first time on these rollers.  Didn’t fall or come off the sides.  She just went but never felt comfortable to keep at it.  Good to know yourself (and be safe with a fancy new bicycle).  The bike seems to fit her very well.  I have big respect for the folks at Independent Fabrication.

I pumped up the tires on a Bridgestone RB-1 and had another go.  Before last night, I hadn’t been on the rollers in a couple of years.  My session began by coming off the side.  I got back on and was quickly breathing hard.  It went well, though.  I tried to get out of the saddle a couple of times, but the drinks said no.  I listened.

It was a fun evening.  I made falafel, baba ghanoush, red pepper hummus, a lemony rice and roasted white potatoes, yams and beets.  Our friend from the north brought an amazing salsa made from roasted poblanos and tomatoes with lime and cilantro.  He is a magician in the kitchen.  Matzoh, wine, G&Ts, white tea and Lagusta’s choco matzoh toffee rounded out the menu.

Here is some peanut oil half way to warming to room temp (I keep most oils in the fridge).  Ooooh!

My friend from the west wrote to tell me that Gerard Smith, bassist for TV on the Radio died on April 20, 2011.  I didn’t know as we sat and listened to their new album on the hifi for the first time last night.  Terrible news.


2 responses to “Heavy Pedals

  1. Thanks for such a fun evening! Randy, you are a rockstar on those rollers. I appreciate you not going into *too* much detail about your distaste for my carbon haha. Never you worry, I am a steel die hard at heart.

    See you!

    • The pleasure was ours! Thanks for making time during your short visit to see us.

      If I am a rock star, you are a punk rock star (good without a ton of practice). I hope you don’t get better. I wish time on rollers on no one. More fun to ride somewhere outside. I used the rollers regularly for only a couple of winters. I am happy to keep them around if only to break them out for party fun.

      As far as the cranks go, you have your gurus and I have mine (and we do our own research). I think our gurus are all good gurus. We’ve placed our trust where we have and should move on and enjoy.

      Hope to see you again soon. Be well and have fun!

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