I won’t keep you in suspense:
Brian and I finished the bike around 3:00 (build details to come), which didn’t leave enough time for the ride I had originally hoped to do today…namely another assault on the Mowry Fire Tower (aka Woonsocket Hill Road.) So instead, I decided to go attempt another little hill I’ve had my eye on for a while. It’s a wide, but completely rutted path at a park that must be right at the borders of Johnston, Providence, and Cranston. I pass it all the time when I head out the the Scituate Reservoir, and you see this Dirt wall on the far side of the park. I was hoping that 1:1 gearing plus cross tires would clear it. No such luck.
That extended section of ~29% is no joke. And the dirt is very loose and rutted. Basically, unless I figure out some better technique, even my new bike isn’t going to make it up this thing. Sitting, I thought I’d fall over backwards. Standing, the back wheel just shot out and spun out, bringing me to a stop. Plus, the ruts and sand everywhere mean that you have to watch your line very carefully, so one mistake and your attempt is over. After my last attempt, I just walked it to the top.
From there, I rode back to Providence and went up Bowen. But, since I had a new cross bike, I figured I should make it a little harder on myself, given that I’ve gotten pretty proficient at getting up it on the road bike. I went straight up the cobbles, through the steep section, the plan being to transition to the sidewalk at the last possible point, so that I’d be riding the 30% section on the dirt/cobbles. First attempt was pretty similar to the dirt road in Cranston. after I hit the dirt, I spun out the back wheel, stopped and walked the rest of the way. Next attempt got a little farther, and the last attempt I stopped just at the transition to the sidewalk. Interestingly, the road is flush with the sidewalk up there, so there’s really no excuse to not ride the road all the way up, except of course that it’s much, much more difficult and probably impossible with 23s. Also the dirt sections at the very top are so soft, I was actually trying to find patches of cobbles to ride one, so that I’d have some traction. It’s nice to have Bowen back to being an actual challenge in any case.
The build itself was pretty uneventful, and came out very well. A couple things of note:
- I didn’t have a very good front brake cable hanger, so the cable is a little jammed under the stem. But with a better hanger, that should be fine. Plus, the brake still works perfectly in spite of the messy bend in the housing.
- and the question I had never quite resolved: how would the XX crank and Force front derailleur shift? Well, we had to leave the derailleur cage slightly higher than normal, or it would have hit the chain stay, and after installing the cranks, and getting the cables tensioned and all that, it still didn’t want to shift into the big ring very well, even with the upper limit screw at maximum. With some pushing and fighting, it would go, but wasn’t going to be very ideal for any kind of race situation. Then Brian had the brilliant idea to move one of the crank spacers from the drive side to the non-drive side (so there’d be two spacers over there and none on the drive side). That moved the crank just enough so that the derailleur now pushed the chain beautifully up to the big (well, relatively big…) ring. After riding it, it shifts as well as any front crank I’ve ever ridden, so I’m happy.