Keepers Tour 2012 Update, Part 2: The Lion Rides Today

Keepers Tour 2012 Update, Part 2: The Lion Rides Today

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With Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 stitched up and in the history books, the challenge of documenting the trip became immediately obvious; how do you take the myriad impressions, experiences, and perspectives and put them down in a meaningful way – let alone in a way that can somehow be digested. Surely, to document even just the Keepers’ view on these goings-on would result in an article much longer than anyone would be prepared to read and would be a far cry from comprehensive. 

We have decided that the best approach is to split the report into four Articles, one authored by each Keeper, and each covering a different section of the trip. We also look forward to the contribution of additional photos and stories through the posts from those who joined us and those who witnessed the goings-on from afar. Today, we look at the comedown from the big first weekend, and the perfect hangover cure to deal with it.

Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 Updates: Part I // Part II // Part III // Part IV

After the first two incredible days of the Keepers Tour, it was hard for me to remember exactly what we did on the days following. I had to look through my photos to jog the memory and fire up the awesomeness tank, which was well on the way to overflow. Talk about throwing us in the deep end; Roubaix was some introduction to the tour, to each other and to hours of the most painful fun one can have sitting down. Gingerly. To follow up such an overload of riding iconism, how about a spectating trip to the Ronde on the Kwaremont? What could possibly top the first weekend?

Nothing really, although no-one seemed to realize. Every time we crawled our way out of bed each morning, the dull ache from the previous night’s Malteni and wine tastings ever present, we would stagger around awaiting for the rundown of the day’s events. Most of the time it was easier to listen to Alex, the French one, than try and decipher William’s bastardized Irish/Gallic concoction of blasphemy and vitriol. But we all understood “C’mon guys, let’s boogie!” when we had dawdled just that bit too long in getting our asses onto the big yellow van (or the little black van if you wanted a more civilized ride). On Monday, we were to visit The Chapel, aka the Eddy Merckx factory in Brussels.

Some of the Weekenders were still around, and joined us for the day. I got a ride with @Skip (Mark) in his rental car, and it was a soothing alternative to the raucousness in the van (ie Frank). On arriving at The Chapel, the sense of excitement is dampened a little by the nondescript building, and not really ignited in the sparse foyer. We really hoped that The Prophet would be in mass, but unfortunately he was off healing the sick elsewhere. We were probably too sick to help anyway. We were greeted by Ilse, who showed us around the displays of famous bikes and gave us a rundown on the operation. Then we were herded down to the ‘factory’ floor, where instead of seeing 65 year old Belgians with oxy torches in hand, carefully crafting steel masterpieces, we saw 20 year old kids assembling bikes, frame after cookie-cutter carbon frame. A bit of a letdown. But then you remember where you are, and start peering into offices to see if Eddy’s lunch from yesterday was still there, or wondering if the stapler on the desk might have been punched by the hand of god itself. Probably not, but hey, it’s ok to dream yeah?

After the last of the Signs o’ the Merckx were flashed and Ilse’s business card obtained (it’s business time), it was into the city centre for a lunch of crocque monsieur, coffee and beer. The bar was a cool retro-style, with corrugated iron decor, and even sold Malteni. A walk around the beautiful old square and a look at the Manneken Pis was about all there is to do in Brussels, at least by the way William eagerly chided us back to the van indicated. Maybe he was just trying to minimise the time he had to spend listening to the banter. The actual reason was that he wanted to get an afternoon ride in, which was cool by me as I had to get some Spoke articles finished up and the rarity of an empty, quiet, sober gite was too good to pass up. The crew were out for a couple of hours, and when they returned there were plenty of shit-eating grins on display. The tales of attacks up the Kemmelberg and the sprint home left me with some envy, but I now had my work out of the way and some fresher legs to deal with them, and the Lion, the next day.

You know it’s not going to be an average day when you wake up and say “What a great day for a ride with Johan Museeuw” but today was our moment. Everyone was abuzz and apprehensive as to what the ride would be like, what type of guy he is, and how much he could really hurt us without even trying. But first, of course we couldn’t just relax and wait his arrival, oh no, there was a morning to fit in some more rad stuff.

On the menu was a drive to the quaint and clean city of Roselare to visit the National Weiler Museum. Museums can be the bane of the Euro traveller, and after a while seem to blend into one another to form a big ball of tedium. But before we’d even left the gift shop for our tour, the money was already flowing as everyone saw a book/jersey/cap that they just had to have. The lady who gave us the tour was very thorough and informative, so much so that William had to gently persuade her to hurry things along as we had a date with the Lion to keep. She seemed suitably impressed and sympathetic, and sped through the highlights of the rest of the comprehensive cycling history on display. And what’s the point of going to a museum if you don’t learn something? For me, the story of JP Monsere was one I’d never heard, and the tragic nature of it was quite sobering. A Belgian and World Champion, he was killed by a car during an event in 1971, but more poignantly his wife endured the terrible fate again when their 7 yo son was killed in the same way a few years later. As one of the last ‘attractions’ on the museum tour, it leaves you a little taken aback and you wander out thinking a bit more intently about this whole mortality thing.

The cries of “guys, guys, coom on fer fook’s sake” echoed through the gift shop as more impulse buys were made, followed by ten minutes of waiting outside while William tried to remember where he’d parked the van. It’s big and yellow, should be hard to miss. The drive back to Westouter was rapid and not without some consternation, as the Lion wouldn’t like to be kept waiting. At least, we didn’t want to seem like assholes who sauntered in for a ride with a three time Roubaix winner like we were doing him a favour. As we pulled up, we could see Johan standing in the gite, not looking too agitated which was a relief. But everyone hung back a little on the short walk inside, maybe thinking they’d cop a spray of Belgian abuse for keeping him waiting. As it turned out, he was very welcoming to all of us, and after about five minutes it was just like some other bike riding guy was sitting down to lunch. But most bike riding guys don’t have pros calling them and offering to jump in on the ride, as Klaas Lodewyck, a young Team BMC rider did as we ate. He turned up soon after, took one look at the bunch of 40 somethings milling around asking dumb questions, and decided he might get at least some workout if he did his own thing. He did the pro thing of scoffing down a coffee and cake first though. But we still had the Lion captive, and he couldn’t get away coz we were paying him.

Weather-wise, it was the best day of the entire trip, almost warm, with a nice sunny blue sky and little wind. The guns were being bared for the first time, and the display of Witte kit was quite impressive. @Roadslave wasn’t as impressed with his own form in the white jersey, vowing never to wear it again. At least he still looked better than Johan, whose grey tights with stirrups weren’t exactly the height of Euro chic. But he can do what the fuck he wants, this is his turf. He did cut a dashing figure in the V shirt we presented him, and he wore it proudly before and after the ride. Even though he had no inkling of The V, he asked questions and seemed genuinely stoked on what the community is all about. It wasn’t long before he was asking for our autographs.

The ride itself was a blast. Around 90km were covered, with two trips up the Kemmelberg, one from each side. I guess if you’re a legend of the sport it may seem tacky to hammer people who are paying for the pleasure, but Johan struck a fine balance of hanging back but not letting anyone get too cocky. “I’m here, I’m not racing you but just be aware I could kill you just by breathing on you” seemed to be his MO. We tackled plenty of the backroads used in Gent Wevelgem, and there were a few attacks going on, usually covered by Johan’s good friend and mechanic Ronny. It was like the Lion still likes to have a domestique around, just in case.

I suppose you all want to geek out on what Johan was riding, as a man who can ride whatever he likes. Well, his setup was all pretty basic. A Museeuw MF1 in red/black/white was sporting an Ultegra, wait for it, compact crankset. Johan told us that he was ‘just testing’ it and of course would never trade in his 53. Ronny was on a sweet ass MF1 in black with Campa. I don’t think he even had a 39 on his crank, as he just ground up every incline at about 50rpm but still passing us. His bike looked hot, and would make a great V-bike with a bit of an orange splash on it.

The fact that Johan didn’t eschew a shower and had a beer and snacks with us afterwards meant that we hadn’t made total dicks of ourselves, not even when someone almost took him out making a wrong turn (I’m sure someone will recall who). Johan offered to get us into the VIP at the following day’s Schelderpris, an offer we gladly snapped up. At the gite that night, there were more than a few calls of “best ride ever” going around. Roubaix seemed a distant memory. We’d just ridden in Flanders with the Lion, goddammit. It was going to be pretty hard to top that.

 It’s been said before and will be said many times hence, but we cannot thank enough everyone involved in this tour. Of course Alex and William @Pavé Cycling Classics, who go above and beyond their call (Alex dropped my bike back to me in Lille last night, and we’ll be catching up for a beer before I leave… their generosity is unparalleled). Genevieve, who cooked the most incredible dinners for us and washed our putrid kit always with a smile and a French phrase I couldn’t understand but appreciated all the same. The drivers/mechanics Matthias, Matheiu (I think), Andrew and others whose names escape me. Jesse, incredible to have a photographer of his renown give up his time because  he ‘likes what we do’. To Johan and Ronny, thanks for giving us your time and enjoying the ride as much as we did. We must also thank our awesome supporters fizik and Lezyne for supplying us with the best equipment to tackle the stones, and personally I’d like to thank Graeme @Cycle Sport for the awesome Vittoria tyres and tubes, and Mark Dickson @KRD for his help with the Lezyne side of things in NZ. 

And of course a huge thanks to all the attending Velominati, without whom it would’ve just been four dickheads lost in Flanders for a week. Thanks to you, it was 16.

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// Cyclotourism // Defining Moments // Folklore // General // Keepers Tour // Unforgettable Rides

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    @frank

    We somehow missed this bit of the story: on two occasions, @Bill quietly slipped off the back, and Ronnie went back to tow him up both times. The first, they came flying by us on the left, went right to the front, and upped the pace.

    On the second, Ronnie decided to push @Bill, and then Johan dropped back and helped out. One of the most touching moments of the trip. How cool is this?

    Wow, that’s a beautiful photo.

  2. exception 'ImagickException' with message 'unable to open image `/nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati//wp-content/plugins/dm-albums/php/image.php?degrees=0&scale=yes&width=600&height=700&quality=85&maintain_aspect=yes&rounding=nearest&image=/home/frankdstrack/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2012.04.18.15.46.19/IMG_4273.JPG': No such file or directory @ error/blob.c/OpenBlob/2638' in /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php:1224 Stack trace: #0 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php(1224): Imagick->__construct('/nas/wp/www/clu...') #1 [internal function]: dm_replace_image_embeds('

    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@frank

    We somehow missed this bit of the story: on two occasions, @Bill quietly slipped off the back, and Ronnie went back to tow him up both times. The first, they came flying by us on the left, went right to the front, and upped the pace.On the second, Ronnie decided to push @Bill, and then Johan dropped back and helped out. One of the most touching moments of the trip. How cool is this?

    Ok, i had refrained from comment up to now, but this is just too much to bear!

    I hate all of you smarmy “i had Johan push me up a hill” fucks!

    (Can I please come next time? I will be quiet and sit in the corner and even polish your bikes for you when you are sleeping? Please,please!)

  3. Sigh…only about 13 more years until the kids are in college and I can convince the wife that she should let me go on a trip like this. You guys will still be doing these in 13 years, right?

  4. @brett
    You lucky dog. Back in Lille? I guess if they invited you out they don’t hate us too much. What does it take? We drink all their beer, we curse and behave like animals, abuse their hospitality? We did all we could.

  5. @Nosyt
    Insha’Merckx*, yes.

  6. @Velosophe

    @snoov

    Wait a minute, I’ve been told off for denigrating compacts. It was explained to me that there’s not much difference between say 53 – 15 and 50 – 14. Johan probably had 23 – 11 cassette, if he’d had a 53 on the front he might’ve had 25 -12 cassette with a pretty similar gearing.

    @frank
    Very very cool.

    Please, rational arguments have no place in these Halls of Compact Shaming!

    Seriously though, I think there are three real downsides. First, to a lesser degree, the loss of top-end gearing for bombing down descents at warp speed. Next, and to a greater degree, the overall gear-inch increments, their placing along the cassette and spectrum of shifts. This ties into the third point of contention, being the big jump between small and big ring. Whereas with a standard crank, you get a perfect balance of usefulness between small and big ring, perfect gear spacing, and good front shifting, a compact leaves you with an awkward relationship between small and ‘big’ ring, wider spacing between 1t shifts, and sub-optimal front shifting.

    Lets get real though – honestly a compact just look heinous and screams wussy.

    How does a front ring of any size affect the spacing between 1t shifts ? They are 1t whatever you have on the front – the cassette has no relationship.

    What will actually happen if you are using a standard is that you will probably have a 12-25 on the back which will have more 2t shifts than the 11-23 you could use on a compact.

    So the opportunity for the lowest spacing comes with a compact, which also makes it easier to do a double shift and not have so much space when changing from the large to small ring.

    As for the highest gear for bombing down descents, again assuming a compact 11-23 versus a standard 12-25 the 50-11 is 122 gear inches while the 53-12 is smaller, at 119.

    Of course anyone who uses 11-23 on their standard is a harder man than me, but should expect to be ridiculed as a poseur if I ever go past them on a climb.

  7. @Gianni
    Reminds me of a Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

    “I bit the head off a rabbit on live TV and swore my allegiance to Satan. What else do I have to do to offend these people?”

  8. My boy Museeuw would counteract a 50 ring with an 11-21 rear surely?

    However i imagine the truth is the 50t would be his inner granny ring. You obviously misinterpreted him.

    However those calves would scrape against a big ring over 50t so maybe it makes sense.

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    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@frank

    We somehow missed this bit of the story: on two occasions, @Bill quietly slipped off the back, and Ronnie went back to tow him up both times. The first, they came flying by us on the left, went right to the front, and upped the pace.

    On the second, Ronnie decided to push @Bill, and then Johan dropped back and helped out. One of the most touching moments of the trip. How cool is this?

    Wow, what a beauty of a photo. Very “Tomorrow, We Ride-esque”.

  10. @Zoncolan

    However those calves would scrape against a big ring over 50t so maybe it makes sense.

    if I ever resort to a compact, I’m stealing this as my justification.

  11. How does a front ring of any size affect the spacing between 1t shifts ? They are 1t whatever you have on the front – the cassette has no relationship.

    What will actually happen if you are using a standard is that you will probably have a 12-25 on the back which will have more 2t shifts than the 11-23 you could use on a compact.

    So the opportunity for the lowest spacing comes with a compact, which also makes it easier to do a double shift and not have so much space when changing from the large to small ring.

    As for the highest gear for bombing down descents, again assuming a compact 11-23 versus a standard 12-25 the 50-11 is 122 gear inches while the 53-12 is smaller, at 119.

    Of course anyone who uses 11-23 on their standard is a harder man than me, but should expect to be ridiculed as a poseur if I ever go past them on a climb.

    The size of the front ring is related to how many gear inches are produced by any given cassette cog on the rear. I can’t explain the physics behind this, but go ahead and use Mike Sherman’s Bicycle Gear Calculator and set up a drivetrain with 50t and 53t front rings. I find the chart showing speed at a given RPM the most helpful.

    You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM. I’m not making this up.

    The argument regarding cassette choice I also find a bit dubious. The perceived need of a compact crank more often coincides with a perceived need for lower gearing in the rear as well, rather than vice-versa. A rider who places a high priority on close gear spacing [as explained above] would serve themselves best by running a standard crank, and simply swapping between cassettes based on terrain considerations [leaving anything above 26t out of consideration entirely].

    I think a close rereading of Rule #5 and Rule #10 is in order. Choosing a compact is like turning Rule #10 on its head – “It doesn’t get easier, you just go slower”.

    Hence, Rule #5.

  12. @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

  13. Two “oh wow”s for me today:
    1) Ricco just got smacked with a TWELVE year ban. Oh man.
    2) COTHO rode for Cofidis? I never knew that until I just saw some old Fleche Wallonne photos.

  14. Ah, guess he never really rode but was signed, then fell ill. Still never even realized he was on Cofidis, but now it makes more sense why – not many photos of him in Cofidis kit.

  15. @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

    \\ Try it. Last season rode 52/”42″ with 11/21 (10s) and switched to 53/39 in the winter for higher cadence. Also changed crank arm length from 175 to 172.5 for the winter. And being one of the few, would take the socket, torque wrench, grease, and optional cassettes (13/26 or even as slight as 12/23) with correct lock ring and change the cassette onsite (racing) given the lay of the land. Now I am back to 175 with 11/21, and back to 52/42 for the warmer season. This is going to eventually transition to taking on a 54/44 just for the hell of it. Changing the cassette (and rings) on demand becomes a great habit to have if you know what you are doing — and have tried it. Keeping or changing the rings is also a mental commitment. Do it and trust it.

  16. @Vin’cenza

    @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

    \\ Try it. Last season rode 52/”42″³ with 11/21 (10s) and switched to 53/39 in the winter for higher cadence. Also changed crank arm length from 175 to 172.5 for the winter. And being one of the few, would take the socket, torque wrench, grease, and optional cassettes (13/26 or even as slight as 12/23) with correct lock ring and change the cassette onsite (racing) given the lay of the land. Now I am back to 175 with 11/21, and back to 52/42 for the warmer season. This is going to eventually transition to taking on a 54/44 just for the hell of it. Changing the cassette (and rings) on demand becomes a great habit to have if you know what you are doing “” and have tried it. Keeping or changing the rings is also a mental commitment. Do it and trust it.

    My Ridley Damocles ISP arrived two weeks ago and it has a wussy compact 50/34 – 12/27 fitted. My old bike – which is now being stripped down for parts for use next winter – was a 53/42 11/21. I thought that I was being hard on the old set up but I go faster on the Damocles. This has a lot to do with the new bike not being on the point of disintegration and therefore trustworthy and being better at transmitting power. It also has a lot to do with previously being somewhat over-geared – just because you can turn the crank (and the old bike was used in Tuscany last summer on some 12%+ average 4 – 5k drags) doesn’t mean that you’re moving very fast. In short I’m noticing no real change in top speed on the flat (because I’ve still got the ability to spin); I can go up hill more easily and faster because I can maintain momentum and I can at least begin to meditate on complying with Rule #85.

  17. @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

    I will certainly concede your first point concerning gear spacing.

    I do, however, find it a complete load of bull that compact defenders always cite the ‘top gear’ argument of a compact paired with an 11t- cassette vs a standard and 12t- cassette. How this justification ever came to be seen as rational is beyond me. A compact or standard crank user can equally decide whether or not their smallest rear cog will be an 11t or 12t. There is no argument for a smaller big ring providing higher top end speed. 53x11t > 50x11t. End of conversation.

    Ultimately it’s a personal choice, and

    Yes, a compact will allow a lower granny gear, bail-out gear, or whatever you wish to call it. No, that gear will not get you up a hill any faster. It’s a psychological trap sprung from a lack of Rule #5, and a pox upon the proper cycling ethics this community purportedly stands for. How many decades have riders been conquering nasty climbs with nothing less than 42t up front? Even climbing in a 39x25t ought to garner a furrowing of brows in reflection of this truth. I think many would do well in situations throughout life – cycling and otherwise – to take a moment to stop feeling sorry for themselves, and think about the hardships endured unflinchingly by those who have paved the way before us.

    Ultimately this is a personal choice. Ethics aside, for me the biggest hang-up is the relationship between big and small rings. I find a 53t and 39t to work beautifully together, and I like that I don’t have a clunky 16t jump between them accompanied by a 3 cog shift on the rear every time I shift the front.

  18. @the Engine

    @Vin’cenza

    @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

    \\ Try it. Last season rode 52/”42″³ with 11/21 (10s) and switched to 53/39 in the winter for higher cadence. Also changed crank arm length from 175 to 172.5 for the winter. And being one of the few, would take the socket, torque wrench, grease, and optional cassettes (13/26 or even as slight as 12/23) with correct lock ring and change the cassette onsite (racing) given the lay of the land. Now I am back to 175 with 11/21, and back to 52/42 for the warmer season. This is going to eventually transition to taking on a 54/44 just for the hell of it. Changing the cassette (and rings) on demand becomes a great habit to have if you know what you are doing “” and have tried it. Keeping or changing the rings is also a mental commitment. Do it and trust it.

    My Ridley Damocles ISP arrived two weeks ago and it has a wussy compact 50/34 – 12/27 fitted. My old bike – which is now being stripped down for parts for use next winter – was a 53/42 11/21. I thought that I was being hard on the old set up but I go faster on the Damocles. This has a lot to do with the new bike not being on the point of disintegration and therefore trustworthy and being better at transmitting power. It also has a lot to do with previously being somewhat over-geared – just because you can turn the crank (and the old bike was used in Tuscany last summer on some 12%+ average 4 – 5k drags) doesn’t mean that you’re moving very fast. In short I’m noticing no real change in top speed on the flat (because I’ve still got the ability to spin); I can go up hill more easily and faster because I can maintain momentum and I can at least begin to meditate on complying with Rule #85.

    You make perfect sense. I am conditioning myself to go into a 28 mph average to finish (attack) for final 5 to 10 mile duration (50 to 60 mile training ride). Anyway, you said it brother!

  19. @Velosophe

    @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    You may not be making it up but you are wrong, especially this:

    “You will find that the speeds attained between 1t shifts of the rear on a 53t front ring are more closely spaced than that of a 50t front ring at any given RPM.”

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 50 ring:
    121.7 111.5 103.9 95.6 89.2 83.7 78.7 74.4 70.5 63.7 58.2

    The average spacing is 6.35 gear inches.

    These are the gear inches for a Campagnolo 11-23 cassette on a 53 ring:
    129 118.2 109.1 101.3 94.6 88.7 83.5 78.8 74.7 67.6 61.7

    The average spacing is 6.73 gear inches.

    Every shift except one is smaller on the 50, the largest shift is on the 53 (10.8) and the smallest is on the 50 (3.9).

    My opinion remains that most people riding a standard will opt for a 12-25 (with three 2t changes instead of 2) and thus have a smaller top gear, and incidentally a smaller bottom gear – so I totally reject the idea that a compact is wussy.

    I also suspect very few people, even here, are going to change their cassette cogs to suit the terrain.

    P.S. I have my own gear calculator in a spreadsheet which I’m happy to send to anyone who wants it. It’s not hard, you take the wheel diameter in inches and multiply by the front ring teeth then divide by the cassette teeth. I’ve also set it up to calculate RPM, gear development, speed and total RPM per distance (for fixed gear).
    The Gear Inches represent the size a direct-drive wheel would need to be to produce the same gear effect i.e. if you were riding a penny-farthing or ‘ordinary’ bicycle how large would your front wheel be.

    I will certainly concede your first point concerning gear spacing.

    I do, however, find it a complete load of bull that compact defenders always cite the ‘top gear’ argument of a compact paired with an 11t- cassette vs a standard and 12t- cassette. How this justification ever came to be seen as rational is beyond me. A compact or standard crank user can equally decide whether or not their smallest rear cog will be an 11t or 12t. There is no argument for a smaller big ring providing higher top end speed. 53x11t > 50x11t. End of conversation.

    Ultimately it’s a personal choice, and

    Yes, a compact will allow a lower granny gear, bail-out gear, or whatever you wish to call it. No, that gear will not get you up a hill any faster. It’s a psychological trap sprung from a lack of Rule #5, and a pox upon the proper cycling ethics this community purportedly stands for. How many decades have riders been conquering nasty climbs with nothing less than 42t up front? Even climbing in a 39x25t ought to garner a furrowing of brows in reflection of this truth. I think many would do well in situations throughout life – cycling and otherwise – to take a moment to stop feeling sorry for themselves, and think about the hardships endured unflinchingly by those who have paved the way before us.

    Ultimately this is a personal choice. Ethics aside, for me the biggest hang-up is the relationship between big and small rings. I find a 53t and 39t to work beautifully together, and I like that I don’t have a clunky 16t jump between them accompanied by a 3 cog shift on the rear every time I shift the front.

    \\ Proper way to close your argument is using the (period). Like this. Period! Sorry that I am feack’n around today. I do love testing and experimenting with chain rings, cassettes, and crank arm length. Need to mention that I tested 177.5 arms (hell-of-it) and lost everyone on the climbs, but easily chased them down again. I will let you know how the 175mm with 54/44 on 11/21 goes this year — at some point. 28 average testing (trialing) !!

  20. And don’t forget that you may have to change a derailleur with extreme changes. Like a Record 55 that I have in the drawer.

  21. Proper way to close your argument is using the (period). Like this. Period!

    Duly noted! I figured ‘End of conversation’ would spice things up a bit, plus it’s a reference to my favorite youtube “meme dad” Gene Leonhardt – the father of Jessi Slaughter aka kerligirl13. “You done goofed!”

    Coincidentally, I just read he died at the age of 53.

    RIP

  22. @Velosophe

    Ultimately this is a personal choice. Ethics aside, for me the biggest hang-up is the relationship between big and small rings. I find a 53t and 39t to work beautifully together, and I like that I don’t have a clunky 16t jump between them accompanied by a 3 cog shift on the rear every time I shift the front.

    Now you’re really dragging the discussion into the depths… the solution to your problem is neither Standard nor Compact, it’s Rule #90.

  23. @ChrisO

    @Velosophe

    Ultimately this is a personal choice. Ethics aside, for me the biggest hang-up is the relationship between big and small rings. I find a 53t and 39t to work beautifully together, and I like that I don’t have a clunky 16t jump between them accompanied by a 3 cog shift on the rear every time I shift the front.

    Now you’re really dragging the discussion into the depths… the solution to your problem is neither Standard nor Compact, it’s Rule #90.

    Rule #90 works for the Apostle but is something that mortals – particularly ageing ones have to work towards. Empirically provable fact – I go faster when I’m in the right gear and that not necessarily the tallest one all the time. Also given that none of us use the entire block why are we carting around 20 ratios plus of metal when we’d probably be ok with a single front ring and five on the back 80 – 90% of the time?

  24. @the Engine
    Because our bikes go to “11”.

  25. I run 53/39 (12-23) on #2. Compact (11-25) on #1. With the exception of total top end speed provided by the 53-11 combo during a field sprint on a flat course, I really don’t notice that much of a difference in perceived effort vs actual speed between the two. I think it really boils down to wether you mash gears, or spin. I do know that I can sit in the field of 120 Cat I/II/III’s averaging 28+mph for 50miles and I’m not spun out with the compact gearing. I’m sure that both sides could make a great argument about which is the better choice, but I’m fine with both, and like @Vin’cenza, I change up the cassette to suit the course, like I’ve done since before ‘compact’ was on the market.

  26. @Velosophe

    Proper way to close your argument is using the (period). Like this. Period!

    Duly noted! I figured ‘End of conversation’ would spice things up a bit, plus it’s a reference to my favorite youtube “meme dad” Gene Leonhardt – the father of Jessi Slaughter aka kerligirl13. “You done goofed!”

    Coincidentally, I just read he died at the age of 53.

    RIP

    \\ End of conversation !! Period !! \\ I like it.

  27. I read all the above posts. 5 mins I’ll never get back. Y’all need to get out more..

  28. Apart from Burns..that was funny!

  29. @paolo

    I read all the above posts. 5 mins I’ll never get back. Y’all need to get out more..

    Thanx for your valuable contribution. And still waiting on broken clavicle to heal up — asshole !!

  30. @Vin’cenza

    I just snorted my coffee…Hey man I do what i can. Please never make the mistake of taking me too seriously.

    I’m sorry to hear about your clavicle, if I see you out on a Cogal one day I’ll buy you a pint!

  31. @Pedale.Forchetta

    I love (almost) every photo here. Eheh…

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    Sorry, …photos here…

    No Pedale, you were correct the first time:

    I love every photograph/photo here.

    or

    I love the photographs/photos here.

    I must add, your English and all the non-English speakers (as a first language) that visit this site ought to be very proud indeed of their bilingualism. I’m ashamed to admit only a basic understanding of French and Spanish, bravo to you all!

  32. @snoov grazie!

  33. @Ron

    Two “oh wow”s for me today:
    1) Ricco just got smacked with a TWELVE year ban. Oh man.
    2) COTHO rode for Cofidis? I never knew that until I just saw some old Fleche Wallonne photos.

    COTHO has lots to say about Cofidis in his book. They sent their lawyer to visit him while he was dying of cancer to terminate his contract and rescind his health care policy. Nice.

  34. @paolo

    @Vin’cenza

    I just snorted my coffee…Hey man I do what i can. Please never make the mistake of taking me too seriously.

    I’m sorry to hear about your clavicle, if I see you out on a Cogal one day I’ll buy you a pint!

    Psych !! Make it 2 !!

  35. @Vin’cenza
    Oh good one gear geek! Fucker..I’ll happily make it two

  36. Bravo! Thank you, Bretto. I got a good, solid kick out of this, “guys, guys, coom on fer fook’s sake!” Love it. That and, “Let’s boogie!” Dig it!

  37. @ChrisO

    Rule #90. Well played sir.

    @paolo

    Yeah I do need to ride some more.. unfortunately I’m stuck in Afghanistan until December. Got a wicked new #1 waiting to be built up when I come home on R&R in June though!

    And I’ll admit, there’s a compact and a standard Red crank sittin in the pile ‘o parts!

  38. @Velosophe

    Bootneck ?? I’m sorry to hear that you’re stuck over there. I have friends or actually really Sons of friends out there and a good friend who flys C17’s in and out. I lost my nephew out there in Dec 2008.

    Keep your head down and stay safe. And if I see you on a ride I guess I’ll be buying you a couple of pints as well..

    For the record I ride a compact and I feel no shame.

  39. @Velosophe
    Where are you and with whom? I was at TK and Camp Vance in 2006 with 3rd Group. I hear it is a lot rougher there now than when I was there. Please be safe, keep your head down, don’t be a hero and I’ll buy you one when you get home. Godspeed, Brother.

  40. @paolo

    Thanks paolo. Sorry to hear of your nephew. We are doing what we can to mitigate unnecessary risks. I’ll certainly take you up on the pints whenever the chance arises!

    @Buck Rogers

    We’re at a tiny firebase in eastern Paktya. I’m an Infantry enabler from 2nd ID – the battalion in the news lately, unfortunately. We’re attached to an ODA from 1st Group. Before the 1st Group guys rotated in, we were working with a team from 3rd battalion, 3rd Group. Awesome bunch of guys on both teams.

    Good news is that our AO is mostly a through-route that the insurgents don’t want to muck up, so they don’t stage many attacks here. Less-than-good news is that we are about to move and start a new VSO cycle in more kinetic location. 1st Group doesn’t get out to A’stan much, and are really itching to play cowboy and indian.

  41. @Velosophe
    Yeah, I hear you. Everyone new is looking for their CIB and bronze star. Stay safe and we’ll say a prayer for you. Look forward to riding and sharing stories with you sometime in the future once yu are back safe and sound. Godspeed.

  42. Back in NZ after 3 days of travel, what a horrible end to the tour. I’ve heard a few attendees saying they are having withdrawl, and I’m suffering the same fate.

    Pulling my bike from the box to be reminded it doesn’t have a usable back wheel, and no Pavé loaners so I can ride. But seeing all the cool shit, like socks and caps and books and newspapers and bottles of Malteni and signed flags and my booties still with Roubaix/Flanders mud and dust on them… that lifts my spirits, but then dumps them just as quickly when I realise that it’s over.

  43. @brett
    You gotta be glad that you safe home though.NZ is far away and three days of travelling ain’t easy.Been away from the site for a while but quick look at some photos and I’m sure you had a fantastic tour.Photos look really good.

  44. @Buck Rogers

    @Velosophe
    Yeah, I hear you. Everyone new is looking for their CIB and bronze star. Stay safe and we’ll say a prayer for you. Look forward to riding and sharing stories with you sometime in the future once yu are back safe and sound. Godspeed.

    I just hate the TIC chasers

    Stay low, keep moving

  45. @Dan_R
    Yeah, seems like if you look for trouble, you’ll often find it downrange.

  46. @Buck Rogers

    @Velosophe
    Yeah, I hear you. Everyone new is looking for their CIB and bronze star. Stay safe and we’ll say a prayer for you. Look forward to riding and sharing stories with you sometime in the future once yu are back safe and sound. Godspeed.

    Means a lot to me Buck. Definitely looking forward to it too!

  47. Forgive me if this has already been covered, but the photograph seems to be of Johan Museeuw, in a Velominati t-shirt, bouncing on a trampoline…

  48. @Jarvis

    Forgive me if this has already been covered, but the photograph seems to be of Johan Museeuw, in a Velominati t-shirt, bouncing on a trampoline…

    I just updated the photo to that, because it is too good to pass up. Museeuw, bouncing on the trampoline outside our gite, wearing the V-Shirt, and with his V-Mussette slung over his shoulder. Be still my beating heart!

  49. …and I think that is the Kemmelberg in the background. Somewhere under that hill a dishevelled Jarvis is trying to stay warm

  50. @frank

    @Jarvis

    Forgive me if this has already been covered, but the photograph seems to be of Johan Museeuw, in a Velominati t-shirt, bouncing on a trampoline…

    I just updated the photo to that, because it is too good to pass up. Museeuw, bouncing on the trampoline outside our gite, wearing The V-Shirt, and with his V-Mussette slung over his shoulder. Be still my beating heart!

    That’s not a V musette, it’s a V Museeuwette…

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