It's been a topsy turvy week. Kitted up and ready to ride Monday morning, I turned awkwardly and spent Monday and Tuesday flat on an aching back unable to move... that put an end to any momentum the previous week's improving mileage had promised. Adding insult to injury the rains held off and the sun came out. Crud.
Speaking of Crud, Brian at thewashingmachinepost generously sent me a pair of Crud RoadRacers. These superlight plastic fenders (160g for the set) are the perfect complement to any road bike that will see foul weather action. The ingenious design, complete with breakaway safety struts and self-centering "feeler" pads took about 30 minutes to fit on the Enigma. There's almost zero clearance when installed which makes the fenders as low profile as you can imagine. Your bike will look clean and so will your clothes, avoiding that mucky stripe that does your kit no favors.
Look closely and you'll see a little filament improvisation for the front-fender-tip clearance.
There's a better mod to be made when I have time, but this works perfectly.
I really like them. They're amazingly quiet except for the occasional sound as a leaf or bit of debris zips between tire and fender. The Crud site has plenty of test documentation to allay any fears that anything taking that path will catastrophically stop your wheel and take you out. The RoadRacers will be on the Enigma for the duration of the Northern California winter.
The RoadRacers attach to your struts with O-ring secured connectors
Braced for Action
I was still hurting Wednesday but braced myself for a scheduled shoot at Specialized where World XC Champion and Olympic medalist, Christoph Sauser (Susi) and mechanics Benno and Sandy were paying a visit. I spent the better part of the day photographing Christoph and the Specialized team of engineers and designers discussing equipment and sharing race feedback. If that wasn't enough, the legendary Ned Overend was in attendance. Ned was also nursing a bad back... we compared notes on wincing.
Christoph sharing feedback with the team
Mountain biking at Christoph's level involves an incredible amount of technology, rivaling the aerodynamic sophistication of TT bikes. I tried to follow the engineers and mechanics as they discussed intelligent suspension components (one of which is called the Brain), exotic drive train mods and the surprising proliferation of carbon. I finally lost the place when they spent ten minutes discussing a single bolt.
When the meeting broke, everyone wandered down to the build room. The Specialized HQ is always cranking with energy but there seemed to be more excitement than usual about 2010. With Saxo Bank and Astana riding Specialized ponies this year, there's an urgency in the building and a sense that all the pieces are coming together for a stellar racing season. Bikes lean against every desk and dogs sleep happily nearby or wander about as accepted members of the team. I wanted to stick around to shoot Christoph and some of the team who were going out for a ride, but my back was toast. Awkwardly, I bent myself into the Audi and headed home.
Christoph's mechanic Benno sporting some nice ink
Getting Back on the Bike
The pain let off and flexibility improved enough to swing a leg over the bike and ride to work Friday. My well-rested legs felt good but I took it very easy, slow pedaling up to lights to avoid having to put a foot down jarring my back. In the few days I'd been out the cherry blossoms had burst on the scene. It felt like an early spring and I was comfortable wearing only a red long-sleeve Rapha jersey, ¾ bibs and baselayer. It won't last of course, the rains will be back before Spring truly arrives, I'm just happy to be riding again... the Crud RoadRacers are light enough that they don't register as impediments in the dry. They're staying in place for when it gets wet again. Fingers crossed the back cooperates.