My (Euro)cross to bear

Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

More cycling yesterday. I think I’ve finally broken my annual post-Interbike slump.

For some reason, probably that we’re suddenly in the middle of October, I decided to pull my favorite Steelman Eurocross off its hook, give it a bit of a wash and brush-up (plus two new Michelin Jets), and go chase myself around the Elena Gallegos Open Space for an hour or so.

I like to enjoy this sort of foolishness on a weekday, during business hours, the trails come weekends being thick with body-armored double-boingers, texting dog-walkers, the iPlod People and other impediments to forward motion. No need to have an audience while one struggles up a rocky pitch in the 36×26, with 700×30 tires.

One of these days I need to give the old beast more than some fresh rubber. Nine-speed Ultegra, maybe? That eight-speed STI is the velo-equivalent of stone knives and bearskins these days, though it seemed just the ticket back when I still had a song on my lips and a spring in my steps.

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14 Responses to “My (Euro)cross to bear”

  1. Charley Auer Says:

    Upgrades to older favorites; very difficult decisions! Aging has positive and negative aspects to it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well said, sir. I may stay old-school, and indeed go even older school. I still have a pair of eight-speed Ultegra bar-cons and some 105 brake levers. So with new cables and housing I get snappier shifting plus a lighter bike. Winning!

  2. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    PO’G – it ain’t the number of cogs in the back – it’s that you need a smaller chainring up front. While compact doubles (or even less smart IMHO, single chainrings) are all the rage with the cool kids (who are probably not old farts) as you get older a TRIPLE starts to make more and more sense. I’d even make a small wager your ancient bar-cons might work with a triple, though you’ll probably need to find a front derailleur to go with whatever crank you choose. You might end up needing a longer cage on the rear derailleur as well, but for my money there’s still nothing better than having a gear for every situation (a range from 30 X 26+ to 52 X 12) AND small steps between them – something you just don’t get with 34/50 compacts or single front ring setups, whether they have 8, 9, 10 or 11 cogs the back.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ayup. This bike still has the gearing I ran back when I was racing, which is a shade too tall for me in my present devolved state.

      The rings on the Race Face crank are 48/36 (110mm bolt circle), so I could always go 46/34 with an 11-28 in back and I’d be OK on rolling terrain. But the steep bits would still require me to get off and run and/or yearn for a triple like the one on my Nobilette.

      Here’s another possibility, from Rivendell: a Sugino crank with 40/26 teeth. I could go back to 172.5 crankarms on that bad boy, too. The 175s have been feeling like a bad idea for some time now, and I’ve been making the switch as funds permit.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        My argument for a triple is based on a couple of seasons trying to enjoy using a 34/50 compact setup. Even if the low gear was low enough (which it was then, barely) the huge gaps between ratios and the lousy shifting pretty much inherent when 16+ teeth differences are involved made me oh-so-happy to get back on a triple with 30-42-52 and 9 cogs from 12-26 in the back. I’ve since “upgraded” to 10 cogs (12-30) and might even put an IRD Campy-compatible 12-32 cassette on for next season….but you couldn’t get me back on a double crank setup, even at gunpoint!

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I agree Larry. Although my bargain solution will be to replace the 34/50 105 crankset with a Sugino 30/42 crank. That way I don’t have to replace those nice 105 STI levers and front derailleur. Not as good as a triple, but better, much better.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Or, you could sell it for a tidy sum and have an empty hook in the garage to show to herself. Major points waiting to be made mi amigo. Maybe even get yourself taken out to dinner.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’d feel badly about selling it, Pat (though I sold two earlier Steelmen to a teammate). For some reason it feels proper to hold onto one bike from each of the disciplines I used to race — road (DBR Prevail TT); mountain (DBR Axis TT); and ‘cross (Steelman Eurocross).

        I do have another, lower-mileage Eurocross I wouldn’t mind unloading (carbon fork, only one bottle cage). And the Soma Double Cross is starting to feel small to me now that I’m riding 58cm frames again (but I like its eight-speed, triple-ring Ultegra/XT combo).

        Weird thing is, I ride ’em all. The only machine I haven’t ridden lately is my Steelman time-trial bike, and that’s because it makes me feel like the old fat dude driving the ultra-suave sports car.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        “…(but I like its eight-speed, triple-ring Ultegra/XT combo)” Now you’re talkin’ my language! Not really, but triples are good even if you’re speaking Japanese instead of Italian.
        Herb’s post illustrates why I’m getting more and more into the bici d’epoca thing – gorgeous bikes that are easy to work on, what’s not to like? I run a old time clip & strap pedal on mine, but use retro-look shoes sans cleat. Much easier when you have to hoof it up that steep hill on a loose surface.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It’s amazing how quickly using a clip-and-strap setup comes back to you. I still have an old pair of Sidi cyclocross shoes (with cleats) and various suitable pedals, and I keep thinking how nice it would be to go all 1983 on one of my bikes. That would be a really good look on the Sam Hillborne.

        Those Sidis are comfy. Until you get off and walk, as you note.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Walking on any sort of cleat no longer interests me. SPD (gawd, they’re not even Italian!) all the way. They can’t be used on bici d’epoca though I’ve heard tales of “cheaters” using them with the old-time clip and strap attached only to their shoe so nobody notices – until they get off the bike anyway. For me the old muscle memory of flipping the pedal and shoving the foot in came back pretty quickly – though I forget now and then about not being so securely attached to the pedals when it’s time to hop the bike over a hole or rut. Landing on the top tube with a dinged shin was a pretty good reminder a few years back, so my issues are fewer these days.

  3. Herb Clevenger Says:

    After reading POG’s blurb about the Rivendell Joe Appalloosa I shocked and stunned friends and family by buying one. The shock came as I am such a cheap weasel that for me to pay retail (almost anyway) while already owning four perfectly good bikes had everyone shaking their heads and making clucks about senility. My goal was to take a giant step BACKWARDS and ditch the Lycra, hi-tech BS and sit up and ride like a kid again. Mission accomplished and then some. I even let Rivendell talk me into not using clip less pedals and using their old school selection of components. Couldn’t be more delighted. And a huge plus is how damn easy this throwback bike is to work on. So POG- I join you in saluting and using proven veteran parts from the past and after many years I am a full fledged retro-grouch.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Good on ya, Herb. Adventure Cyclist’s Alex Strickland bought that Joe Appaloosa I road-tested, and he’s been busy upgrading bits of this and that. Me, I’m very happy with the Sam Hillborne.

      And I took its flat pedals and put them on my townie. It’s amazing how well a low-tech item like that works.

  4. larry brown Says:,money talks.

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