Sunday, December 30, 2007

So PRO it makes Blanco's teeth hurt

You know I have to have this. It's only forty dollars and I already have the Battery pack and extra Silca heads to complete the Pimpitizing. Fuck FMB's. Blanco Suave's going high tech redneck stylee!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pay it Forward

Or back or whatever direction you want. Seriously, quit hanging on to all of your shit you think is a treasure. Believe me, no one is going to want to give you what you think your old 8sp Grip Shift is worth, even if you throw in the yellow shark tooth twist grips. It's just a clutter. Plus, you aren't ever going to get around to selling it on Ebay, anyway. If you ride your bike at all, and have a J.O.B., there is not nearly enough time in the day to clean up and post pictures of all your worn crap. Especially if you are already stealing time from "The Man" by blogging at work. Never mind all the time it takes to answer all the dumbass questions that go hand in hand with Ebay, like "Can you ship to Canada via Priority Mail, but COD, 'cause my PayPal is a little jacked up right now and I'm in a pissing match with UPS?"

I just gave away one of my old cross frames that had been gathering dust in the garage rafters. I had been meaning to repaint it and then probably spend way too much time and money building up a bike that I don't have room for. I also gave away some old XTR discs to a good friend this year. I had been meaning to clean them up and put them on Ebay, but that never happened and the new ones were already paid for. Now he's set up to go mountain biking with me, and I have more space in my garage and some serious favor leverage for when it comes time to do some home repairs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Blanco Suave Rides (slowly)

Here's the bikes I likes.
This is the new baby. I wanted Mike to make me a steel cross frame and fork based around the Paul Components Racer brake. I like how low pro they are. This bike will see limited use as the pit bike during cross season, but mostly it will be for gravel road rides and commuting. It rides a bit more softly than my race rig, which is what what I wanted. I already love this bike. It is going to get way too much saddle time.

This is the race rig. Ti, light and sexy. It's stiff and tough and with the single ring, all about business. It tops out at just over 18lbs., which for my fat ass, is plenty light. I don't know about the carbon hoops, but they look cool. The Dugasts that are on there are the bees knees, though. I have a set of Kings laced Mavic ceramic Reflexes that I can run should the need arise, like at PIR this December.

Stops and Starts

I feel like I’m playing a giant real life game of red light/green light. I’ve been getting all geeked up for cross season and now that it’s here, one thing or another is keeping me from getting in the racing groove. Family commitments, work commitments, house and car work, etc., etc. I really like this time of year when I can just worry about the races on the weekends. Every weekend. I do well with racing consistently.

Blanco Suave isn’t one of the Oscar Freire types that just shows up at the big dance and lays waste.

No I’m more of the Boonen type that need to race into fitness.

I respond better to old adage that nothing gets you more prepared for racing than racing.

I’ve been able to postpone the impending feeling of doom by telling myself that I’m wanting to peak later in the year. But it’s coming up on November and I only have one cross race under my belt. Last I checked, I’m not going to Belgium for all of December and January, so the late part of the season is coming on fast for me and there hasn’t been much of an early or middle part of the season.

I’m hoping that the weather will turn into the proper NW shit storm that it usually does. Not that I love racing in the grime, but I tend to deal with the circumstances better than others. I love it when I overhear racers complaining about the cold and wet. It means that much fewer people to worry about. I’m also hoping that all of the racers that have been tearing it up week after week up until now are starting to fade in motivation. I can’t be the only asshole who realizes that you can only ignore your family, friends, and ever-shrinking wallet for so long. That’s the other nice thing about the wet and nasty. Repairs to your equipment tend to get more expensive and it takes longer to keep everything running. Further ruining motivation and making getting the always needed kitchen pass harder.

So basically, Blanco Suave’s plan for cross domination depends on the failure of every one else. Notice I haven’t once mentioned my own fitness or skills. No, I tend to prefer to bask in the schadenfreude of cross racing.

Why torment myself with my own failings when Blanco Suave can delight in the suffering of others? That must be the reason that the races bring out so many “Spectators” (hecklers).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tired of Tire Reviews? Too bad!

Here's the follow up to the last post about clinchers. I promise it won't be so long winded. (Not true. I had my fingers crossed!) If you want to know what I like (long walks on the beach, curling up with a good book, fine dining, blah blah blah) or where I race (in front of you, unless I happen to be lapping you), then you'll need to look back at the last entry. The only time Blanco Suave repeats himself is when I decide someone is worthy of two roundouse kicks to the head, Tonkin-ator style.

This here ree-view is about the sublime world of tubulars and all the glue huffing goodness that goes with them. I don't know if the fumes make you long for Belgian ale and frites, or the other way around, but the tires really are the bees knees. I know lots of racers who try all sorts of way around running them , from the voodoo tubeless conversions, to Stans's, to waiting with baited breath that Hutchinson and Shimano's joint tubeless venture will be the answer. Some are even foolheaded enough to keep on running the Tufo red headed bastard child tubular clincher abomination. To this, Blanco Suave says, please continue and thank you. It's a fact that even a bad tubular is faster in most conditions than a good clincher, and as a user of great tubulars, I encourage everyone else to continue running clinchers. The only reason to run clinchers is if you are on a budget. It's way cheaper to throw another tube in and get back up and running for $4 and 10 minutes than it is to spend another fumigated night out in the garage peeling and regluing another $100 tire. Or if you only have one bike and one set of wheels, then clinchers make perfect sense. You can commute during the week and race on the weeknd. But as we all know, if you are racing cross, budgets are something only to be looked at after you've spent the rent money on another set of obscure French silk sew ups; because the casing had a special strip under the tread that your other 6 pair didn't, and that would make them that much more perfect for one 45 minute race you do in those conditions, and if you are going to spend all that money on one set, then don't you need another set for your pit bike as well? See where this leads?

Any-whooo. here's the shizzy. Feel free to disagree with me, but then as you can see by the slick commercialism of this site, I obviously get paid a ton of moulah to spout off, so I must be right. Oh yeah, feel free to pay me tons of moulah to spout off.

Tufo Prestige
It's the red ones, but the yellow are just as bad. The two redeeming factors they have are that they are available in something bigger than a 30 and are reported to be pretty good in the thorny and rocky areas of the country. I think the two things they have going for them is they are they are cheap on the interweb and, well, they are cheap on the interweb. They have almost no side knobs to speak of, and the transition knobs point stright out to completely open areas on the casing. Actually the other thing they have going is the base tape. Since Tufo doesn't sew a tube in the casing, but vulcanizes it, the base tape is nice and flat and makes gluing all the way to the edges a breeze. Good luck fixing a flattened Tufo. There is no tube to patch back up . (Not that you would, but there are businesses that charge way too little to do this for you!) Most Tufo riders wind up dumping about a gallon of the Tufo sealant into the tires, hoping to get them ridable again. The upside to this is they become heavier than your commutron wheels and you do get some kick ass training in. I say save the gooped Tufos for race day! (Again, better for me. Follow along.)

Vittoria Cross Evo XG
Cool shiny silver euro goodness offset by not the most supple casing and a base tape that likes to seperate from the casing. These are pretty decent if you are on a budget and live in a pretty rocky and rough area. They also clear mud pretty well and have okay side knobs. Beware that the casing is a little tough (again, good for the rocks, lead butt) and that the 32 is tiny where as the 34 is nice and big. My first set didn't have the straightest casing and wouldn't roll through my buddy's chainstays. I would recommend these to someone who wants to try out tubulars, but is scared of what to do if they flat. (But buy them on sale.)

Challenge Grifos
Here's the first real step towards buying uber expensive tubbies. The first time you buy a set, they will be your special race tires, because he casing feels so much more supple than anything you've tried so far. You'll also pick up an unhealthy obsession over the accuracy of the gauge on your pump, wished it read in BAR in easily readable fine increments, and you'll buy a stand alone pressure gauge. It's really the first big leap into Euro snobbery and single ring coversions using sandwich gaurds and not some chain keeper thingy. The first generation used the same tread glued onto all the diffeent sized casings and was originally made in 30c only. In fact it was called the Largo when the factory was Clement and not Challenge. The Grifo was the pinner 26c tire for all the old school hard men. Any-hoo, when they applied the tread to the larger sizes it was a bit under sized in relation to the casing. It worked okay in 32, but a 34 had it's knobs seemingly just on the top of the tire. You's still get pretty good traction if you ran the pressures low enough. The new ones have an extra row of knobs on the side and they rock. It's a tire that makes you feel a gear faster on bumpy and power sucking grass.

Dugast Rhyno
All the euro pros run these. They'll make you buy a digital pressure gauge and talk a buddy into "pitting" for you. You'll pit bikes every other lap if it's at all moist, let alone muddy. Just so you can show off to the crowd and to give the official something to pay attentin to. The new tread simply rocks. It's the first tread that matches (or comes closer than any tread ever has) the quality and ability of the casing to provide traction.
I haven't tried the classic Typhoon yet beacause my wife found and confiscated the Blanco Suave's Visa card. She said something about feeding babies and then I zoned out thinking about Duvel beer and frites. (MMMMMM,frites.) Damnit Woman! Doesn't she know that I need a set of Duggies for faster, dryer courses and somehow my two set of Challenges won't quite cut if for mid pack domination??
Any-hoo, these are the big dogs on the block when it comes to performance. Sven Nys's personal mechanic is the owner of the company. He bought it from a French hobbitt who learned his craft from God. Be prepared to be amazed at the lovely suppleness of the casing. If you don't know who Sven Nys is, then you'll never appreciate a Dugast tire and you should just go ahead and run Kenda Knarly's on your flat bar Redline. Remember to pick a color that matches your baggy shorts and the bottle cage you refuse to take off, you troglodyte!

P.S. Your blinky tail light fell off at the last set of barriers when you decided to carry your bike in one hand like you were going to throw a javelin.

Next up on the docket for blogification: Gluing and how your wrong and I'm right.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cross Tires

Or as I like to refer to it, the reason I have no money and a garage full of old tires I don't use, but won't give away.

So I’m putting my thoughts about the tires I’ve used over the years in one place. It seems to get some comparative info, you really need to search through the threads to get what you want. I’ll start off with the clinchers and work my way up to the tubbies. Now, I haven’t run some of these in a few years, so I’ll try to give the best recollection I have of them.

First a little breakdown on the type of terrain I ride in and then the type of rider I am. I ride my cross bike a lot of places. During the bulk of the year, it gets used as a commuter and gravel road explorer. Later on it gets turned into the full on cross racer rig and goes round and round in the slop and mud every weekend. Both uses have two very different needs.

Our dirt and gravel roads come in two types. One is the sweet and smooth decomposed granite that only gets sketchy late in the year as it gets looser and looser. In August, think of about a half an inch of kitty litter over a cement floor. The rest of the year it’s pretty nice, fast and smooth. The other type of gravel is the typical shit they put down on logging roads. Sharp, sometimes loose, and always sketchy and power sucking if it’s been freshly graded. Sometimes you find yourself suffering in the washboard tracks the cars leave because it faster and has better traction.

The local cross races are on pretty hard pack dirt and gravel that bakes up hard, unless the rains come and then it turns to sticky gumbo. One course has a fair amount of grass and real mud made form actual dirt so clearing shit from the lugs isn’t too big of a deal, but the grass gets really greasy. The clay gumbo is a real power suck and a wider tire works best.

The Portland races are your typical cross type courses that have grass and mud and some dirt and pavement mixed in. If it’s not too wet, the organic material mixed in the mud can clog up a bike pretty good. If it gets really wet, then your tires will usually clear the crap, but say goodbye to your brake pads and chain. You’ll have a fine grit of sand scum up your crack that hurts like hell to scrub off and takes two washings to get out of your chamois.

I’m the type of rider that prefers to remain fairly upright in my corners and I tend to sit and power a slower cadence instead of standing. I’ll stand, but at 6’4” and 195lbs., I start getting in the red pretty quick if I have to support my body off the bike. I save the standing for resting my junk and accelerating. I think my height makes me want to keep the bike upright and not lean into the corners too much. I’ve got a taller center of gravity and if I get a 15 degree lean into a corner, it’s farther away form the tire’s contact patch than someone 5’8”.

So as far as tires go, I tend to prefer something with a round and predictable profile and while I like a wide tire, I really want it to be tall and cushy. It needs to roll fast and corner confidently. I also like it to have a fairly supple casing. I hate it when you ride a tire that feels like it’s made from a garden hose.

Geax Blade- 700x32c
I really wanted to like this tire. I thought the fairly open tread would shed mud and roll quickly, which to be fair, it did. However, it’s smaller than listed so I had to run the pressures pretty high to combat pinch flats and the tall knobs give a squirrelly feel when transitioning in to the corners. They also tended to break free a bit unpredictably. They did pretty well on the loose granite and they rolled fast on the pavement, so they were a good tire for late summer exploration rides. I think they would have been better if the tread was lower and the casing was bigger.

Panaracer CrossBlaster- 700x31c
A new tire made in the old school cross philosophy of narrow and light. They are so light it makes it hard to put anything else on the bike if you have a scale handy. They were impossible to clog with mud, probably due to their low and widely spaced knobs. They were a nice round profile and had a supple casing, but due to their small size, you had to run the pressures way up there to keep from pinching. Not a very durable tire, but did I mention they were light? Probably the perfect clincher tire for running in the super deep mud where you are looking for the tire to cut to the hard stuff and you’ll probably be carrying your bike a lot. Otherwise it’s too specific to make a good cross tire.

Michelin Mud- 700x30c
There is no way these are a lowly 30c. They look like a 34c and have the nice round and tall profile I covet. The original green treaded tire that everyone still uses as a comparison when referring to mud performance. They’d pack up a little if there was a lot of grass and other organic material in the goop, but otherwise a fine tire. Michelin used a weird inner casing that made booting a cut next to impossible so you had to watch it in the rocks, but you could generally run a lower pressure than any other clincher. They didn’t roll all that fast on the hardpack and pavement, but then that’s what the Sprints were for.

Michelin Sprint- 700x30c
See above for comments on size and shape. These things were the best. They were the semi-slick version of the Mud. They rolled faster and could find way too much traction for the amount of tread or lack thereof. Most guys ran this on the rear with a Mud up front, however it was not unheard of to run Sprints front and rear. Some guys would even do this in the mud so there was no chance of gumming up the tread. This was the first tire that clued me in that casing size, suppleness and tire pressure have as much, if not more, to do with traction as the knobs do. One of my all time favorites.

Michelin Mud2- 700x30c
The replacement for the original. Slightly different tread and no longer green. Same casing and same Michelin adherence to a completely wacked sizing scale. Still works great, but some would say the green tread cleared mud better at the expense of wear.

Michelin Jet- 700cx30c
The replacement for the Sprint. Michelin did away with the diamond tread and changed it to some weird diagonal file tread that had a tendency to give a funny sound when run at speed on pavement. Not as predictable as the Sprint, but it saw way more spec on bikes, probably due it coming in black instead of the green silica compound. Good tire, but not great. By the way, you can still get the Sprint tread from Michelin, but it only comes on their commuter tires with black tread, heavy casing, and fewer TPI. Don’t fall for it. The Jet is a much better tire.

WTB CrossWolf- 700x32c
WTB’s cross racing clincher. It rolls fast and feels nice and grippy in the corners, even when leaned. I just doesn’t clear mud from its transition and corner knobs. If it was a little bigger and had a little more open tread design this would be a great tire. I bet this thing rocks in the Bay area and Santa Cruz races. It’s not a bad commuter or exploration tire, but not as good as the one coming up next.

WTB InterWolf- 700x38c
Buried way in the WTB lineup, almost hidden in their commuter division is the InterWolf. It measures out closer to an actual 35c and its profile is round and tall. The casing simply rocks. You can run lower pressures than you think, and it rolls like a high-end road tire. The tread lasts forever and it’s reasonably light. It’s replaced the Sprint as my favorite clincher for everything except for mud. It’s another tire that works way better than you’d think

Tufo Diamond TC- 700x30c
Tufo’s weird attempt at the clincher market. Imagine a tubular with hard rubber wings just outside the base tape. Those wings snapped into the clincher beads and were held in place by the air pressure of the expanding casing pushing them out. They were an absolute bitch to install when new and tended to pop off when the got older. They had no way of patching them, so you had to rely on this liquid latex sealant. Not very inspiring when out in the boonies. This one was the diamond tread and the cheap but tough casing. They actually were pretty good commuters. With about twice as much sealant as recommended you didn’t have to worry about thorns and you could get away with lower pressure than a regular clincher. They still rode about like a garden hose.

Tufo Elite LPS TC- 700-30c
The sucker tire for all of the guys who wanted tubulars, but were afraid of glue and spending money on a dedicated wheel set. I think these things were a false economy and wound up costing you more. You’d get addicted to the ability to run low pressure and when you’d finally had it with the shitty tread that only worked when not leaned over at all and beads that would pop off the rim under slightly hard cornering efforts you’d finally pony up for some tubulars because you couldn’t stomach the thought of going back to clinchers. Except maybe the Michelins. But by that tine you’d drawn your elitist line in the sand and crossed the Tiburon in to tubbie town. I’d go back to racing clinchers before I ever went back to these. The last I heard, Tufo stopped making them. Go figure.

To be continued with the follow up on tubulars.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Man, I’m grouch to day like I have a badger bit down on my ass. Too much time already off the bike with too much time off the bike looming ahead of me. The first day or two on the meds after the crash were bearable. I pretty much slept a weekend away. Sure, peeling my underwear off of my ass cheek wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for my first Father’s Day, but at least I got in some winks without burning valuable spouse capital.

Now it’s starting to get into the meat of the shitty recovery time. At best I’ll be back in the saddle by this weekend. I’ll still be feeling like ground chuck and have the mobility of a beached whale, but fuck, at least I’ll be out there. Hopefully I’ll be unsnagging scabs from Lycra instead of mopping up wound ooze from the bib shorts. Fun fucking fun.

It’s amazing how a little change in the schedule can make me a grump. I should just change my name to Oscar and move into a garbage can. I don’t know if idiots can sense when I’m in these moods, or if I notice the idiocy more, but I have dealt with more fucking morons lately than I care to think about.

Blah, blah blah. Poor fucking me. As soon as I can bend down enough to put on a sock and shoe, I’m outta here on a ride.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sangria De Suave

That’s the goo that’s stuck to the sheets in the guest bedroom. The sheets were previously stuck to the Suave himself, thanks to a high-speed get off during the Thursday nighters. Old Blanco decided to launch up the Dooley with two to go and midstream was slammed to the ground by a skip in the drive train. I don’t know what happened. The chain is intact, the freehub engages normally, and the bike was shifting fine. All I know is one second I’m feeling all Boonen-tastic and the next second I’m trying to cheese grater every square inch of my left side with ¼” chip seal. It makes old Blanco a bit gun shy about putting the power down. Not that the power will be getting put down anytime soon with the large amount of scabbage on the posterior that needs to heal first. But still, I need to have some confidence in the Suave Sprint. I’m not exactly going to out climb the group. If I’m going to do well at all, then I’m going to have to trust putting the watts down in big legged bursts and not have to worry about scraping myself along the pavement. The crappy thing is that it happened at high speed and under power. No way of replicating that except for being at high speed and under power. I’d feel a little safer if it had been something like left had slow speed turns or in the 34/25 while doing a leisurely 60 RPM’s. Nope, I get to go out and try and make it happen again at race speed on hard pavement. It makes me wish cross could be here sooner. Sure, the equipment is largely the same, but you answer me this, would you rather wreck in your front yard or in your driveway? Yeah, I thought so.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Is there a 12 step program for this?

I have a problem. I can’t quit obsessing about tubular tires and wheels. Especially cyclocross tires. It all started with a set of Tufo tubular clinchers. I bought a set at the apex of having colored tires on your cross bike. But because I had only clincher wheels, they tubular clincher set up seemed like the perfect idea. They only have two issues. One is you get addicted to how well a low pressure tire rolls across bumpy slow terrain and two is they suck everywhere else. Seriously, no traction on anything and they have a tendency to pop off the bead if you run them hard through corners. Especially if you run them low enough to get any kind of traction. They also have a habit of leaking air at very in opportune moments. Their prescribed sealant helps, but not very reliably. They also run a little on the small side. Since I don’t live in 1976 when cross tires were 26c and pumped up to 85psi, 32c is as small as I want to go and the Tufos only reach 30c.

The easy solution would to just go back to clinchers. At the time there were a plethora of decent tires for clincher rims headed up by the infamous Michelin Mud with the green tread. It’s really an excellent tire that is as good as you’ll find to this day. Flats would only cost a buck to fix and take about 5 minutes. I also wouldn’t have to worry about another set of wheels. I could continue to switch out the tires every year from the road bike. Hell I could even get a second set of wheels so I wouldn’t have to have the road bike without hoops for cross season. Shit, I might even have a spare set of wheels and be PRO.

No, I had tasted the sweet nectar of tubbies and wanted the fully leaded, non-diet, sugar filled goodness of the truly Belgian way. Since I was new to the tubular game, I decided I would get one set as the race wheels that were only brought out at the big time Portland races. Ones that featured lots of grass and no rocks or thorns. No way I was going to waste these babies on goat heads and the Southern Oregon jungle cross courses. That lasted about a week. Pretty soon I was running them in all the Portland races due to the importance and stature of the series. They deserved to have tubulars used. I mean, if I’m going to drive 5 hours to compete in a 45 minute race, then shouldn’t I bring out the big guns? This lasted pretty much one season.

I’d love to say the reason I held out so long for a second of set of tubulars was due to my already established principals regarding the stature of the local series versus the Crusade Cup series, but it was really about finances. I blew all of my dough on travel and there was no way I could justify buying another set of wheels and tires at the time. Utilities have to be paid and Christmas presents have to be bought. Besides, waiting until after the holidays gave me all year to obsess over it. I had time to shop and scour for deals. If I was patient I could get a second set pretty cheap.

Yeah right. Part of the problem with running sweet gear is that anything but matching stuff is unacceptable. Okay, it’s my problem not the problem, but whatever. Anyhoo, I did find a second set of blingy tubbies, although in my defense, I did wait around and score a set of Kings laced to ceramic 28 hole Reflexes. Cool, now I have a set of bomber deep sections for the Southern Oregon series and a set of lighter box sections for the P-town races that will still work in the glop. I was even thinking ahead. I bought a pair of Vittorias in a 34c for the local races due to their flat protection and a set of 32c Challenges for the Crusade courses.

Two things ruining the plan, as we now know it. First is Vittorias kind of suck. I mean, they are better than clinchers, but shit, they aren’t as nice as the Challenges when it comes to plush. They also run a bit wobbly and bumpy. Second is that I’m only racing the local races due to family constraints. So I have sweet set of wheels just sitting in the garage, begging to be used. It’s hard to save the goodies for the big races when you know you aren’t going to get to go. It’s like saving yourself for marriage when you know the reality is you are going to wind up a cat lady spinster. Good thing the season was mercifully short, once again giving me lots of off-season to plot and scheme.

Long story getting longer, but oh well. I pony up for a second set off Challenge tires, this time in 34c, ‘cause that’s how I roll. Well, around this time I luck into a free set of carbon tubular wheels. That’s right, free. Well the only thing going on those bad boys is Mr. Andre Dugast himself in all the new Rhino glory. I’m certain this time I really will save this set for only the big races in Portland. I wonder how long it will be before I manage to convince myself I need a second set, this time with a dry conditions tire.

Let me get this straight. I now have three sets of tubulars, two with Chris King Hubs and Mavic rims running Challenge sew ups, and a set of carbon tubbies mounted up with Dugasts. I guess I need a pit bike for all of these wheels. Time to call Mikey D. See, I told you I have a problem.