Monday, April 7, 2008

Pictures from the pits...

I always like seeing photos of the bikes that will be used for the annual Paris-Roubaix race. It interests me to see the special preparations that team mechanics make to the bikes and parts to survive the race. This one race has the potential to have mud, dust, heat, rain, wind, calm... But one thing always remains constant, the cobbles.

As a preview into what will possibly be pulled out of the team's trucks for the start of the Hell of the North this Sunday was pictured on cyclingnews.com. Yeah, the new electric Campanolo bits are interesting, but the two images that caught my attention were the obvious Dura Ace cranks with a SRAM sticker on one of the Astana team bikes. Instead the photo's caption focused on the fact the "Bontrager" box section tubular is not available to the public. It's sometimes easy for a team to hide a non-sponsor component, but in the case of the iconic Dura Ace crank, a sticker is a pretty lame attempt. I mean what do they think? A simple sticker covering the words "Dura Ace" is going to fool folks? Maybe they were also fooled by Superman's disguise as well. A pair of glasses is really a spectacular disguise.

The other photo that caught my eye was the photo of the Saunier Duval-Scott team bike showing the chain watcher. Never mind the Shimano 10s chain on the SRAM sponsored bike, James Huang has a sharp eye, but didn't mention why there was a coating of grease on the chain. I mean, grease on a chain?!? What are they thinking? Who in their right mind would use grease as a chain lubricant? Well, in harsh weather conditions with a lot of rain/mud/water, grease is an incredible chain lubricant. It stays on the chain, repels water and mud and can be the difference between finishing a race with a drivetrain that performs perfectly for the whole race. Can't really stop and add lube to your chain during a race such as Paris-Roubaix.

In 1995 at the NORBA National race in Georgia, I lubed up my racers' chains with a thick gooey lube and then followed that up with a coating of grease on the chain. This combination was impervious to the wet, red Georgia mud. The bikes came back from the race with their drivetrains still quiet. A dried out chain is not only loud and annoying, but can be more prone to breakage. You don't have a chance at a good finish with a broken chain.

(What's playing: Peel Moxy Blues)

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