Saturday, August 7, 2010

Zsa Zsa Gabor and Cyclocross.

Sorry, going to go on a bit of a cycling rant here.

Here in Oregon we have this wonderful little organization, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association or OBRA. It has a wonderful little e-mail list that anyone can get on which allows us to complain, ask questions, learn about events and especially sell our excess biking related stuff. It is a spectacular service that I have used often over the past few years. It is free, unlike Ebay. And because it only goes to mostly serious cyclists I tend not to get a bunch of stupid questions unlike posting on Craigslist.

Often, especially this time of year as summer starts to get a little long in the tooth I start to see posts like this:

" Dura Ace 7800 shifters. Dented, scratched, work great, perfect for cross, $40 "

Works great, sure. I doubt for long. And I can't imagine using something on its last legs for cyclocross. Unless you like having excuses for sucking. Well, I guess I have my excuse, but it is more gut-related than anything else.

Anyway, I don't get it. I mean, I get it, but I subscribe to this view at all--Hanging all of the crappiest parts on your cyclocross bike.

I want my stuff to work, especially my drivetrain. If I wanted to race crap..., well, actually I would never want to race crap. And I absolutely hate it when in a race I start missing shifts and my chain can't seem to find and stay in a gear. Absolutely frustrating for me. It takes my mind out of the race.

Maybe it is the cost? $40, no big deal right? If the shifters break...rather make that when the shifters break you are only out a fraction of the cost of new. Fine. But until then continue to be frustrated during the race and bemoan the fact that cyclocross kills your equipment. Despite the fact that what you are doing is probably akin to putting present day Zsa Zsa Gabor in a beauty pagent.

Sure she was hot once, but why are you putting her out there now? Ridiculousness! Her time is past. She is probably lucky to get around the block a time or two. And that is exactly what should be done with that old dented up Dura Ace shifter. Time to retire that thing. Let it spent its last days in peace going to the store, or on your commuter or whatever. But don't spend money on race fees riding a bike with that shifter. Folly!

Meanwhile if you just had something nice and took care of it it would probably last a long time and you'd actually be able to find a gear. And I don't necessarily mean nice and expensive.

So here is my recommendation to those who are trying to race on the cheap: Just buy thumb or bar-end shifters and new mid-lever derailleurs and chains. Forget about buying the well-used Dura Ace that is in worse shape and has swapped more times that a West Virginia trailer park harlot (I've lived in West Virginia, there's some scary stuff going on out there, yikes). Seriously, retire that old stuff. Just go with what works, simple stuff that is difficult to break becuase there are only a couple of moving parts instead of dozens.

You may think to yourself, "Oh easy for him to say now that he has Di2..."

Umm, yeah, it is easy to say. But I ran a 9 speed Shimano drive train with bar-end shifter for about 3 years when I started racing cross because I didn't want anyone's sloppy seconds or thirds or whatever and because it just freakin' works just about all the freakin' time. Sure the shifting isn't as quick, but at least you can find a gear. And when it absolutely hits the fan, one can always switch that bar-end shifter to friction mode and find your gears in the worst situations sans busted gear. And that three season old friction shifter has been on my Cernitz Mule commuter bike that has over 1100 miles this year. All I ever have to do to it is occasionally switch cables and housing. Booyah Brothers and Sisters!

Anyway, enough. Most of you don't care. But I at least feel better.

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