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Entries in Sycip (5)

What the?

January. Time for winter parkas, gloves and layers. 62 degrees? What the?! Yup in deed we are having a pretty unbelievable spell here in zee republic. I got hot on my Carter Lake run today and had to jettison the leg and arm warmers. Paradise.

I got the roadie completely re-dialed by Dwayne at BCS. For not riding it n nearly a full calendar year, it was awesome to be back on it. You forget the speeds you can maintain out on the open roads. I set it up absolutely identically to my 'cross position, slightly modifying the position Todd Carver set up for me. More forward and aggressive and it felt infinitely better. Todd got rid of the pain...and I think this subtle tweak will see me happier as well. The Belgian bike fit gurus would likely scoff (with their 140mm stems and laid back seats) but it felt like a whole new and better bike. I also jettisoned the Ritchey Streem flat top bars (bunk, IMHO) and went for the carbon version of what I am using on my 'cross bikes: The Ritchey WCS Classic. Such an incredible feel in those bars.
And so the long distance stuff begins. 3.5 hours today with a re-loop of the Carter backside climb and I felt fantastic. I need to seriously burn some of this weight off and re-develop some of that slow twitch again.

Is spring here?

NorCal's Finest

No, not the 'finest' from that far NorCal of, say, the Humboldt variant. No, I'm speaking about the finest of the ferrous and non-ferrous variant. Like you, I scoped out the article on Cycling News and was stoked to see Sycip getting some air coverage for their Diesel 1 x 1. Jeremy and Jay Sycip (say: SEE-sip not SIGH-sip) are brothers who have made the bicycle their "trade"...but not without wrapping the trade in a thick layer of gooey art that draws you into their product like a moth to a flame. A welding torch and the most insane paint jobs are their rough parallels to oil and canvas. Outside bicycles, if you get the chance, you should check out some of the custom designed furniture these guys produce. Sick.

I am totally biased here having been a Sycip owner since 2001. The first time I saw these guys was at the 1999 Super Cup/National Championships when we raced in the beautiful Presidio in San Francisco (and we'll never be able to again. Long story...). I finished my race and walked past their hobble of a booth where they had like one bike on display. It was this sort of mint green and black thing I recall that shone like a beacon and it just drew me in. One side was the mint....the other was the black. Extremely unique paint job....which I would later find out is call their "split personality" paint scheme. I scoped out the bike and studied every detail form the paint to the over sized Columbus tubing used. Love. Or maybe lust. So I saved my pennies (it took me a while as a struggling computer guy living in a 200 square ft apartment in SF at $1000 a month) and by 2001 I ordered my custom Sycip. I walked down to the piers in San Francisco on the Bay where they had their 'laboratory'. They fit me, asked me questions and we assembled a combination of Columbus tubing for the main triangles and Tange for the chain stays which were stiffer and made for track bikes....all designed to some how find a balance for a bike that I would use all around...from climbing to sprinting. They NAILED it. From crits to Colorado dirt road races (we do a LOT of those out here), the bike Jeremy and Jay made me is irreplaceable. I do not know how I will be able to sit on a 'new' frame and not be able to judge it against the Sycip. Having ridden steel, carbon fiber and titanium road bikes, the Columbus tubing just makes this bike feel perfect in and out of the saddle, at speed or on slow technical climbs.

Anyhoo, go talk to them if you are interested in a new frame. There's my plug.

The REAL intent of the story here is the NorCal builder's story...and to expose you to some rich history and some other builders from the Bay Area. All of these NorCal manufacturers have a very intertwined and incestuous ancestry. Obviously, this is a personal story of some 'connections' between builders connected to my life, but the NorCal builders 'history' is legendary and well documented already.

As you read in the Sycip Diesel article on CyclingNews, Jeremy Sycip apprenticed under my long time friend Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles. It was there that Jeremy learned the ins-and-outs of welding frames and getting to know the characteristics of how various materials from steel to Aluminum, to Scandium to Titanium get 'glued' together. As you'll see, it seems like a LOT has been inspired from the hallowed halls of Paul's Rock Lobster 'laboratory' in Santa Cruz. Let's start there...

Paul is a Brooklyn-ite who emigrated to the Left Coast ages and ages ago. He found his way to Santa Cruz and befriended the likes of builders such as Keith Bontrager (who also was building bikes and bits in his garage) and Salsa Cycle's Ross Schafer (with whom Paul plays music with as they are both insane musicians). When you look at the styles of their frame building, so much of their influence rubbed off on each other. Look at the rear triangles of a Rock Lobster and a Bontrager and you'll see what I mean.

Paul's reputation grew as his frames carried various known names to 'cross and track national titles. In the late '90's, a 'boy' at the time, Mike Ahrens was nearing graduation from his university, and his thesis in his engineering program was a full suspension bike frame design. Mike did the engineering and he solicited Paul's help given his reputation to apply 'truth' to the design vis-a-vis materials, etc. Together they built what would later be called the "Pinch a Log" (see photo to the right). I also ran this FS rig for a while helping Mike dial in the characteristics. With Paul's guidance over the years and a helluva lot of engineering savvy on his own behalf, Mike has since gone on to create his own company, Ahrens Bicycles. I am absolutely looking forward to getting my Ahrens Revolver 29'er built up this spring!

While all this 'apprenticing' activity was going on at Paul's shop, another welding torch was burning bright right within the same space. Paul shared workspace in this small studio with another Santa Cruz artist: Rick Hunter. To see his bikes is to get a sense of retro-meets-modern-meets-funk. Rick's bikes are epic. His signature now is curvy top tubes as well as truly unique designs...but some things have remained the same such as his use of razor thin seat stays that shout out to Bontrager and Rock Lobster designs of 'back in the day'. I'm not necessarily saying Paul rubbed off on Rick given the close proximity of their work stands...but I wonder of there was a bit of that apprenticing going on as well. In any event, Hunter frames get worked in the West Coast mud weekend in and out by folks wearing lycra....or in drag.

I'll be attempting to bring some of that NorCal mojo with me to za Motherland in a week's time to dip these frames in the Holy Mud Water. I hope the pilot can give these storied fames justice!

Short Track on a nice cool night

So at 5:30PM tonight and I should have been rolling out to head down to the Research Center but the hail was coming down like you wouldn't have believed. Trees bending side ways and flash floods. Classic late day thunder boomers. By 6:15...calm, cool and beautiful.

The racing tonight was great. Super fast course and nice and perfectly tacky due to the dust either! Pretty big field again in the A's.

Before the racing I saw a Sycip kit warming up. I noticed it was an old friend from the Left Coast, Aaron Bonar. Great to see you man! Hope you enjoy Boulder.

I wanted to test the legs today and went for the hole shot. I should have grabbed it but settled in for 4th and held it for a lap or two. Sitting in, I finally got a chance to see some of Mike West's tactics. Man, is he savvy. He made the split happen, I stayed with it and then went on to just play with us (OK, maybe not 'us' but certainly me and some other chumps who couldn't hold that wheel!). He put in another HUGE surge to make another split in lap 3 (maybe 4?) and I couldn't cover to (sorry Ward!). So I stayed in the top 10 and fairly comfortably (well, red lining but feeling good) until 1.5 to go and I start developing a slow leak in the rear. Beat! Any carving resulted in the rear tire folding over so I literally had to ride at like 3/4 speed! So many dudes came by me at the very end I was bummed but I still think I got in the top 15. We'll see. Big time fun though! Collin created another very unique and very fast course.

In classic fashion, Brandon roles up in just about every Dopers Suck item he's got. Shirt, sweat bands, name it. Hilarious.

No pics tonight. Maybe some if I can get a hold of them.

CX cable routing debate

So Miguel and I are having a debate over this topic. I am fairly strongly opinionated and as he is designing his new CX frame, this topic is rearing its head again. I figured I's reach out to y'alls: the officianados.

Q: How do you, crossers, prefer your cables for the front dérailleur to be routed?

A: Across the top of the top tube! (or so is my heavy opinion).

Where this gets into all kinds of hairy debate revolves around the need for a pulley as most (if not all) road dérailleurs are bottom-pull-actuated. So to circumvent this (unless you are using an MTB dérailleurs if it can provide enough clearance for your cross needs to the rear tire) frame designers have long worked up a system that routes the cable over the top tube, down the seat stay (a la MTB's) and around this pulley which is affixed to the seat tube sending the cable back up to the front dérailleur. Just like you see on this Sycip below:You can see this on the Ridley image I posted to the right as well. I think Sven's Colnago is the same but I have no solid pictures.

The problem is, you guessed it, mud.

The routing debate relates to lots of things but primarily is is rider feel believe it or not in addition to humping the geometry by needing to lengthen the wheelbase too much for that precious extra clearance if you need a pulley and need it to clear mud. I've ridden Felt's, Scott's and Kelly's with cable routing which sent the front dérailleur (and rear in some cases! (see Kona pic below) down the down tube and when grabbing the down tube (which is the style I use versus top tube unless its REALLY muddy) to shoulder/port, it always felt shitty. Often, you get your gloves caught between the cable and the frame and it just doesn't feel right.

When I switched a couple-a years ago to a single 42 or 44 up front, this all changed and I am cable-less on all my down tubes (so it moots the debate), but I have been considering going back to double rings because of the non technical/roadie courses out here. So I am stuck in this debate....and trying to help out my bro.

Thoughts on this? Any builders out there? Any photos of Sven's set up? Sacha goes down tube, Jeremy and Jay go top/pully.

Anywhoo, opinions would be great and help Mike out.

Ah Spring! Spit shine the roadie and start the LSD

Mmm. 48 degrees. Yummy. It's Africa hot as far as I am concerned. Did a nice lunchtime roll and hooking up with my team mates FINALLY so we can spin together on our first ride of the season as a group. enough rollers, enough single speed and CX bikes on the sludgy roads and snowy trails (or now) . I am looking forward to spinning long hours on the roadie with good peeps.

My boys at Ritchey gave me the kind hook up to make the roads feel that much better on my Sycip. Jeremy and Jay Sycip built me this ride in 2001 believe it or not and I can't believe how well it's stiiod the test of time. 1000's and 1000's of miles on this.The new Ritchey stuff is like buttah. I am going with the new Streems to see what that is all about. I tend to ride on the tops of teh bars on the road so this is supposed to be more confortable.
The fork replaces a 6 year old LOOK and this is lighter and carbon from drop outs to steerer.
Seatpost bling will keep my heiney well positioned. I will do a complete write up of these after I have some time on the road. I use WCS everywhere so I expect the reviews will be stellar.

Looking forward to the LSD trip.