When you prepare for battle, you must sharpen your sword and polish your shield. I just made that up, but it applies to most things. Get your gear in order before doing something that depends on your gear as much as your mind.
When gearing up to shoot “Monday Night Football,” a sports shooter would use canned air and cloths to clean his lenses, front and back. Get the proper clothing and extras you might need just in case.
When gearing up for a bike race, the checklist is different but the effect is the same. Very few sports rely on gear as much as cycling. One bad choice could cost you dearly. Maybe bobsledding is the exception, but who the heck recreationally bobsleds in Pittsburgh?
I’ve been going over my preparations for the impending Dirty Dozen, a bike race that pits man versus hills in an open-air battle over Pittsburgh’s almost-famous terrain. To climb six of the nastiest hills in the ‘Burgh is tough, but to hit all 13 of them in one day requires some thought as well as some damn strong legs.
I have been sitting up at night counting teeth in cassettes and cranks to get to sleep. I have a dilemma.
I own two road bikes. One is a new carbon road-racing bike. The other is a 30-year-old touring bike. They present two different tacks. The race bike has a “racy” set-up. The front crank is a double, meaning it has two chain rings to choose from. One has 53 teeth, the other has 39 teeth. The rear cassette runs from 11-25 teeth. This is good for most hills and an extra gear to scream on the flats and down hills. It’s meant to go fast, fast, fast.
My other bike weighs almost 50 percent more. It has a steel fork and an aluminum frame. Its crank is the knee-friendly Shimano Biopace ovoid-shaped rings. It is a triple, meaning there are three rings to choose from. The biggest is a 50-tooth ring. The middle ring is a 42 and the smallest is a 28-toothed “granny gear.”
I have been waiting for a new cassette to come in the mail from the UK. I think the boat is a little slow — I ordered it the day before Halloween. They must be on “holiday” or whatever it is they call slacking off in Europe. What’s coming in the mail my buddy Steve keeps referring to as “Her Majesty’s Cassette.” I’m not sure if that means its arrival is up to some inbred Brit or if it ever gets here, it will be announced with a trumpet fanfare.
This is a very rare cassette, I’m told. A 12-30 Ultegra 6700 10-speed is its official title. It might not make as big a stir as the Beatles’ arrival, but I might scream and cry and faint if it ever gets here.
So, what’s keeping me up a night is, do I use the slick, light bike with the slightly easier British cassette? Or do I ride tried and true “Old Blue” with the super granny?
I’m hitting some DD hills today after work with Old Blue to get some perspective. Is it cheating to use a granny? I’m torn.
Maybe the Queen will know the answer. She is, after all, the world’s most famous granny.