I'm heading out tomorrow shortly after lunch to drive (actually, for Jen to drive) up to Wichita Falls for this year's Hotter 'N Hell Hundred. This year, the HHH people made both elevation maps, like this:
..as well as a GPS coordinates map, suitable for loading into Google Earth. It's pretty cool -- you can take a virtual tour of the route this way. The map file is here, if anyone wants to try. I'm pretty heavy at the moment, and having been out of the pool for a few weeks...it's not going to be pretty!
Before the ride each year, I usually take my bike to a shop to get tuned up. The past few years, I took it to Nelo's. This year, I decided to try one of Bicycle Sport Shop's more extensive tune ups, their Pro Tune. I think it's basically like the tune ups I've had in the past, but with full disassembly, cleaning, then readjustment of the drivetrain. I haven't had anything more major than the basic tune up done on the bike since getting it, and it already had a bunch of miles when I purchased it used. The previous owner had it for a bit over a year and estimates he put 6-7000 miles on it! He was a sponsored rider of some sort, at least.
Anyway, the day the bike was supposed to be finished, they called and said 'dude, I have some bad news.' It turns out that the hub flange on my rear wheel was cracked, and so I'd need a new wheel ($$$). Apparently, the tech said that the wheels already on my bike (Rolf Sestrieres) were some 'crazy light, climbing/racing focused ones'. He thought that at '180-something' I was likely over the recommended weight limit for my wheels (they aren't made anymore, but he thinks the recommended limit was 155 or 165). Me being a porker probably contributed to the wheel crack. I tried to see what my options were for a comparable caliber replacement. He said he'd get back to me, and came back with 3 options: Mavic Ksyrium SL, Bontrager X-Lite, Mavic Ksyrium Elite. The first two are direct competitors, and the last is a less expensive and heavier version of the first. He used to recommend the Ksyrium SLs, but said that upon finding that Bontrager has a 5 year warranty, that was his pick. Unfortunately, both of those were out of stock. Maybe because they are such a big Trek shop (Trek owns Bontrager), they thought they'd have a much better shot at getting an expedited order of the X-Lites to the shop in time for the ride (he was guessing 7-10 days for the Mavics).
I went ahead with the X-Lites, and thankfully, the expedited order came Thursday. They turned it around that afternoon, and I picked up the bike yesterday evening. They gave me the busted wheel back as well. This is what the crack was:
The new wheel is on the bike and now my ride looks like (with fresh wraps, a new chain, and a replaced rear tire, too):
The downside is that this was definitely the most expensive shop work ($718!) I've ever had. I'd be scared to see how much cheaper these wheels are online. BSS charged $450 just for that single rear wheel...but I've seen used sets on EBay for less than $300. For example, BSS charged $45 for a 9-speed Dura-Ace/XTR chain. Looking on Performance Bike's website? Normally $35, currently on sale or $22!
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