Friday, September 11, 2015


There is a lot of controversy, speculation, and misinformation around this topic, so I thought I'd share my experiences with it here. This is not a sponsor driven advertisement post, but instead is my genuine opinion that I have actually had to silence for many years due to sponsors association. I have used it in years past when racing as a privateer and during off season/training in other years when not allowed to race it due to sponsor compliance and of course, now with the Stan's Notubes Elite CX Team. Why so much controversy? Haters need something to hate and traditionalist are going to reject change no matter what it is, but also, it was born in a "cobbled together, use what is available" environment that went wrong for a lot of people.

I think this was one of it biggest early selling points. Someone can take whatever tire and whatever rim, throw a Stan's kit in there and blast air in it with a compressor and there you go. Tubeless! However, the problem with that is lack of standards. So you get an inconsistent rim diameter and an inconsistent tire bead diameter that sometimes resulted in catastrophic failure when run at low pressures in a small volume tire. This caused many folks to write it off as a complete failure and they still hold this belief today. The situation is greatly improved today with Stan's dialing in rims designed to be set up tubeless and tire manufacturers tightening up standards. Before I dive into the real talking points of tubeless tech, I'd like to address a couple points that I believe to be misinformation.

Tubeless tire/rim combos are heavier - I see no reason that this would be the case. We are adding a tire bead, but losing three layers of material that would normally be on the bottom side of a tubular tire (base tape, casing, tube). In my experience, it is quite the opposite. Seems like most people are racing on a 1400g tubular wheel like a Zipp 303. A light tubular tire like a Challenge Chicane is 400-450g. Mud tubular tires even more. I am currently racing on a Stan's Valor wheelset that is 1300g and our Kenda tire selection ranges from 310-340g. Our "heavy" mud tire is 340g. Sure, you add 1-2oz of sealant, but don't we run that in our tubulars anyway? I did.

Tubeless tires won't be as supple - My logic would assume otherwise. We have a volume of air enclosed by a fabric that is attached in 2 different ways, but none-the-less, attached. If the volume of air is the same then, in theory, you can make that fabric to be whatever you want it to be, supple or not, and all things should be equal. The fabric enclosing the air volume in a tubeless tire is 1 layer of stuff. A tubular is 2 layers. 1 layer of stuff generally has the potential to be more flexible than 2. Of course there are some clincher tires that have a really thick 1 layer and therefor aren't as supple as 2 thin layers. However, the set up on my bike now uses 1 layer of thin material that, to me, seems to exceed the casing flexibility of any tubular I have ridden.

Ok, moving on to the claims that are real issues, or at least potential my opinion. 

Burps - This is an area that I think Stan's has made huge gains in the last couple years. Personally, I have never burped a tire. I don't even know what it sounds like. Does it really sound like a burp? The first thing brought up right here is, "yeah, but you are 135lbs". True. Good argument. However, to compensate, I've put my set up at 10lbs and tried cornering it, with leg out, off camber, hard as I can, to try and put it into an extreme situation that would cause a burp. Nothing. The tire folds over, rim on the ground, but the bead of the tire doesn't budge. However, I do see this as something that could happen and believe there is more to be done in the design department that could eliminate any possibility of this. Some of it has to do with, again, lack of standards. This is something Stan is always wrestling with. Tire bead diameters are getting better, but still all over the place. So Stan has to design a rim that will accommodate all of these, therefor sacrificing a bit of burp resistance in the process. If tires were all held to a high standard and exactly the same bead diameter, then the rim could be made to match it exactly for a perfect, tight fit.

Pinch flats - Without a Stan's rim, a tubeless set up is far more susceptible to these than tubular because the sidewall of the rim is basically putting the tire between a knife edge and immovable object. With a Stan's rim, the rim's sidewall has been designed to be so low, that the material of the tire bead actually hits an object before the rim sidewall has a chance to puncture the tire. In my experience this has proven to be the case. I have been on off road MTB trail rides on my CX bike where I have spend a good portion of it hitting the rim on stuff and been fine. These rides far exceed anything one would experience on an actual cyclocross course. Another design feature that Stan's build into their carbon rims that address this is radial compliance. A Valor wheel, built up, will move vertically, 7mm while maintaining exceptional lateral stiffness. This is huge, for a few reasons. First, CX bikes these days are really rigid. This is adding suspension, but that's a whole other topic. It's relevant here because a rim that moves is likely to hit objects with less force, lessening the force available to compress the tire and it's bead and cut the sidewall. I do, however, still see pinch flats as a place where tubeless tech has more room for innovation. There is still the possibility that an object can bypass the tire bead and hit the sidewall, which is still quite sharp. We will see what the future holds, but for now, the technology is more than capable of running low pressures on a typical cyclocross course without any added risk of pinch flatting.

There is still a world of innovation left in this sector and it is this that I have always like the most about it. The potential for what it could become. It is really just a baby in the cyclocross scene and if it gains some backing and support, it really holds the potential to make things much easier and convenient.....especially for the amateur racer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

First Nittany

My first go at the Nittany Lion UCI CX race is history. It was a sub-par performance plagued with mechanicals......and I'm super psyched about it.

Why? Because.....a post surgery mediocre performance additionally limited by bike issues is still as good as, or better than, my absolute best day under perfect conditions from the pre-surgery era.

Yeah, on Saturday my bars slipped down in the first lap. Oh that trick. I feel like no matter how tight you tighten your stem, this WILL happen once every year. It's inevitable. However this year, after the bar slip I also had my left hood continue to migrate down the bar until my hand was falling off the front of it and removing the skin in the process. At some point I submitted and fell to the drops, which was relief for the hand and hell for the lower back. I was the tail end of the sprinting group at the end for 4th. I felt like I was not able to produce the power that I have become used to producing after surgery, but attributed this to the handlebar situation.

For Sunday I moved everything back to it proper spot and tightened it all down. Since I had the slip out of the way, this was a productive measure and things stayed put like they should. The race was faster today with Steven Hyde stretching things from the beginning. Feeling a little better than Saturday, but definitely not on par with mid-week. Must be still working out the kinks or adjusting to the spikey effort of CX. Regardless I was more "in the mix"...."mixing it up" and stuff. By the last part of the last lap I was securely in 3rd and closing pretty fast on 2nd, when I rolled a tire. I ran the last 5 corners and walked across for 5th.

Oh well. Gotta get this stuff out of the way. Looking at names in the results at CrossVegas and doing some comparison and know, that stuff racers always do....."well if I beat him here and he did that there" or "my numbers are this, so if I raced there I would be in this place"......well, anyway, I liked what I saw when I did that......maybe I can just send them a power file and they can stick me in the results where I should have finished.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plumbing "fix"tures

I was holding off to be fairly certain of my status and not going off some fluke or hunch about how things are doing. However, at this point it is really quite safe to say that my surgery this spring was a success! I wasn't sure for quite a while as I dug myself out of a pit of inactivity, but now that I am out, I have surpassed anything I have been able to do at any point in the last 2 years with regards to pushing a safe margin. It may be a bit before I can say that I am back to normal, but the fact that in fairly short order, I am beyond my one-legged self leads me to believe that I have an adequately repaired artery that should allow me to progress to par again and hopefully beyond.

Things are looking good for 2014 and beyond....

Drawing a line in the sand

Can someone please tell me why blood doping or EPO is somehow different than using an altitude chamber. To blood dope you extract your blood and this triggers your body to produce more red blood cells. EPO is a pill filled with a substance that triggers your body to produce red blood cells. An altitude chamber artificially alters the air you breath which triggers your body to make more red blood cells.

Yeah, one is legal. The others are not. However, in practice, what is the difference? All three are bought fitness. It's not hard work or physical talent. It's a technology you paid for to make you faster than your competition. This is otherwise known as "cheating".

I see this all over the place in cycling. "Take this supplement and it will make you faster!". "Pop this pill and you will crush your competition!" C'mon people. OK, these supplements may be full of legal substances (maybe not) but just stand back and take a look at what you are doing. It's really no wonder that there is so much cheating in cycling. It's a clear path to crossing that line and the line, legally speaking, is far beyond the real cheating line. To me, if someone is popping supplements and using chambers and the like, they are already cheating. If you want to argue that it's legal so it isn't cheating then we have to bring up the point that these legal options ARE the gateway to illegal doping. If somebody is doing these things to try to get an edge, it ain't gonna take a whole lot to see that taking some EPO is a whole lot easier. The mentality is EXACTLY the same and the incentive is right there.

 I honestly have more of a problem with these practices than I do with the high profile world-tour doping cases. I mean I have a problem with it all. I can't imagine doing any of it under any circumstances and somehow feeling good about myself. However, these guys are trying to hold on to big contracts against a bunch of other people who are being all "doctored up" to go fast. The local, regional, domestic cheating is a matter of trying to get an fake edge over others for pride, and/or very little income. It is appalling to me that we all fail to recognize and we often even embrace cheating methods just because a governing body calls it legal. While at the same time we disgrace others who did/do the same thing, only on a higher level.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Clean slate

I always thought I was pretty good at riding slow......that is until the last 3wks of my surgery recovery in which I was told to limit my efforts on the bike to below 100bpm. Maybe when I am fit that might be a somewhat reasonable number to stay below, but completely unfit, this is an output that will hardly get me up the hill I live on.

I spent the first week following this restriction pretty close by using a triple chain ring with a MTB cassette and doing some walking. Believe it or not those first few rides where I would ride for an hour and only go 10mi (I'm no mathematician but that's like 10mi per hour), actually made me quite tired after doing literally nothing for 2 months. I soon began to employ a new strategy for keeping under that number. Staying home and not riding my bike. On week 2 through semantics in my Garmin HR zones settings I ended up putting the number at 111bpm and riding a bit more. Then by wk 3 I switched onto my normal road bike and sorta stopped responding when my heart rate would venture up to 120-130bpm. I think this was all fine.

Monday was the end of my restriction. The smart thing to do would be to ease into it and start building a base up before hitting it hard. I smashed it as hard as I could on the first 3 days of training. By smash it I mean like a whole 250 watts. But lemme explain....I feel I have circumstances that warrant such ignorance toward such proven methods. I wanted to get a sense of whether my blood flow had been repaired or not. As of this point I feel like I have had some really good signs. For most of my life a lot of my venous blood flow has been clearly visibly coursing through my vessels just under thin skin. Since '08, I had not seen much of that definition in my left leg. Now I am seeing them once again. Also there used to be pinching sensations in my hip at rest that are gone. However, to get a definitive idea of the repair job I needed to get blood demand up and see if the supply was there.

In my rational thought I new the first efforts were going to be slow and feel like poo, but I couldn't help but have an irrational part of my brain take off on this tangent thought process that pointed out that my blood flow would be opened up and despite complete lack of activity I was going to feel like superman, crushing my previous one-legged abilities. That is definitely not what happened.

Trying to hone in on the sensations in my left leg was difficult because my right leg, lungs, heart, head, back, etc were screaming as loudly. I take this as a good sign. Everything is equally as slow. After the good part of a week, this is still my feeling. I have turned down the speed and began some base building, but when the burn comes to my legs, it feels like both feel it equally, which is fantastic. Time will tell whether things are truly back to normal, but for now I am thrilled to be able to get out for some epic summer rides with the good signs that have already become obvious.

Pretty flowers 2

What a lovely bouquet I have received......

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pretty flowers

It's late but around here the first round of flowers are popping out, which inspires me to write a little bit. After dispersing their seeds last fall the flowering plants of the region went into a long dormant period to wait out the bitter winter, which was especially bitter this year. Finally the temperatures climbed and day night cycle progressed to a point that triggers the complex mechanisms in plants to start a reproduction frenzy. This frenzy relies on a symbiotic relationship between many species, all dependent on each other in a balance achieved over thousands, millions of years, depending on the species. The birds arrive from their long journey, to eat the insects that just hatched out to feed on the nectar of the spring flowers, who in turn use the insects to achieve their own reproduction in the form of transported pollen from one flower to another, or in some cases from one part of the flower to another......that is, the ones that are not cut and placed in a pot of water on the table in someone's house. Let's take a look at this practice for a moment. Our view of other life forms is not consistent and tends to be hypocritical. Put this practice into another scenario, with a different species......

We are taking a lovely hike along a marsh and we come across, let's say, a family of beavers. The young are just getting old enough to strike out on their own and reproduce. We get excited and comment on their beauty. We are very interested in their testicles. Particuarly the largest, most fragrant balls. After we have selected the biggest ones, we chop them off. We also take some other notably large, smelly balls off a few other beavers. We bundle a bunch together in a hand and tuck a few in behind our ears so we look pretty and then we take them home with us. When we get home we put them in a vase on the table and smell them occasionally for maybe a week, at which point they shrivel up and we just throw them out. Meanwhile that beaver never reproduces.

Well that isn't so harmless anymore is it? Is it wrong? I don't know. I'm just a human, but I'm going to tend to say it is. I mean, what is the point? So back to my point.....our view of life. A person will not think twice about ripping off a plants reproductive organs for no real gain but that same person might practice a vegan diet because they don't want to harm cute, furry animals. They would harm one for nothing more than aesthetics but refuse to cause harm to the other, even to feed themselves. Why is it that the life of an animal is worth so much more than a plant to us? Again, I'm just a human, but my thought is that life is dependent on death and harm to others. Without it, life does not happen. However, like with most things, I think the real answer exists in the happy medium. A reckless ignorance toward life and uninhibited exploitation of it is an obviously bad path but sheltering oneself from a basic function of life on earth is also not healthy. The happy medium, or mediocrity that exists in the natural world is one where death is apart of life, but only for the purpose of sustaining another life. Not for a pretty dinner arrangement.