Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Spin Doctor ....

Growing up, in 1992, aged 20, there was a semi dreadful song by the Spin Doctors called 'Two Princes'. I call it semi dreadful as it was ploddy at best and one of those songs that gets into the public domain and becomes a sleeper hit. Heck, we used to jam it at band practice such was its rudimentary structure. However, fast forward some 25 years.  The spin doctor can be applied to my wheel builder, Drew at ridefullgas.com who has equipped me with two princes indeed - which are far from the aforementioned ploddy. 

45mm DM8 fatboys shod with in house hubs and hand made spokes. My remit to Drew was to build me a set of fast everyday wheels stiff enough to take my 14.5 stone on some of the local climbs without bending. I will never be Carlos Sastre in size, but I can and do ride my bike full gas - and I bloody love it. The first thing advised was to move away from bladed spokes which bend in motion (take a plastic fork and twist - you'll get the idea - I know aeroplane wings have the same issue).  The next objective was the rim, which we decided would be a 45 due to the lamentable wind here in Devon. 58's were calling me Mordoor style but 2017 has been bad, but such is life in between an Estuary and Dartmoor. The hubs are wonderful to, akin to King R45 in shape with great pawl engagement and snap as well as some lovely support on the splines to save cassettes biting in and eating away at it akin to some other famous brands.  Lovely graphics to boot and you have one smart wheel-set ready to ride, handmade in the UK, on the cusp of the Cotswolds. 

Of course, we all know wheels can look good, but if they ride like a bag of spanners the quest can restart as soon as you have spent the money and frankly I have had my fill of factory wheels with rider weight limits in excess of 250 lbs that actually can 'support' a rider but not really perform.  A triumph of marketing over engineering for sure. I am  not alone in entering the paradox in the assumption that lighter is better but if I rewind back to 2010 I had a great couple of years on 32 spoke 3 cross Mavic Open Pro before moving to 11 speed in 2013. Mildly heavier but like my Fat Boys, hugely stiffer though not a patch on my new wheels for abject speed when the road opens up. 30 mph into a head wind - that'll do nicely. The stiffness is noted in the use of the cassette. Noodly wheels constantly push you into lower gears, effectively robbing the rider of 'power' over cadence. Stiff wheels reward you by engaging the torque you put through the pedals and thus leap to life in the smaller sprockets on the rear but maintain the cadence. It is win win. Nice.

Now, I ride with power and as such, I use power, time and speed to barometer my performance and see what is what. To cut to the chase, these wheels are absurdly good. I really mean it.  Strava PB's have been attained in multiple places. Days Pottles Lane, nailed. the wozzer, nailed. (see pics attached). To a skilled climber these hills are short and sharp, to a clyde on a bike, a royal pain and with the wrong kit, no fun at all.  But this is Devon and 90% of the riding is exactly that. Sharp  and steep. The stiffness in the back wheel is exactly what I had been missing and testament to this is the fact that I did Days Pottles Lane in 7.47 at 13.4 mph with 209 watts going into the pedals. That is a result, I usually top out at 220 ish climbing and start to slow down as my FTP 261 watts for 20 mins. Going up was a revelation as I noted the increase in speed climbing. I am far from the worlds most analytical rider, but if you pay for this kit, then use it, pre, during and post ride. 40 miles in sub 2.20 today, happy with that at 46 years old and carrying a bit of timber and dealing with chopsy 65kg 17 year old's at work who don't even remember 10 speed let alone anything before that.

Now, here is the science bit. Great wheels work on great roads, but also perform better on terrible roads. That said, slow roads are slow roads and we all know one or two. But on the flipside we all know the roads that light up underneath us a allow us to monster the bike along - carbon rims transmitting the swoosh of a quality tube and tyre thus eeking more power out of your legs. I had that experience today nailing a PB on a sharp 43 miler to Tiverton and back with the reverse triangle on Strava coming in at 1 hour 37 mins and a jump in mph noted - I shaved 7 minutes off the overall segmented loop. Worth. every. penny. I got into the zone today one of those rides when you think 'did I do that road - I can't remember it?' to yourself as you are simply at one with your kit and fitness and end up flying. There is no bigger testament to the right kit and the right wheels.

I am old enough and wise enough to know that this may not happen every time I ride. If it did, I would give Dave Brailsford a tinkle and offer myself up as a replacement for Landa. But, the proof is in the pudding and these wheels are frankly fantastic in so many ways. They have above all else done exactly what I wanted them to do and that is testament to Drew at ridefullgas who listened to what I wanted from a wheel-set.  A seriously top drawer build, service and support. They say in sales you buy the salesman first and perhaps you do. Watch this video from 5.4 mins.  Drew knows his lemons for sure.

Ultimately, they have transformed my Dogma with excessive buzz removed but no loss of speed or verve on my part. Finally, given that they are stiff, light, strong and fast, pick 4 - one wonders what the 58's would ride like ... time to reconvene the cookie jar of savings.

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