Bad Backs, Fenders and Shooting Sauser

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.

Rear View: The Enigma wearing Crud RoadRacer fenders Front View: The Enigma wearing Crud RoadRacer fenders

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.

Side View: The Enigma wearing Crud RoadRacer fenders

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.

XC Champion Christoph Sauser shoot at Specialized HQ

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 enjoying morning session

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.

15 Responses to Bad Backs, Fenders and Shooting Sauser

  1. 52Teeth says:

    You will find that the rear Crud guard could do with being longer, all mine does is throw every bit of dirt at the ‘front mech band on’ which means you need to take it off and clean behind it. Clean bum though.

    • You’re right, I have noticed a bunch of grit being deposited there. I make it a point to hose off the bike after every ride in the wet, to try and stay ahead of bigger maintenance chores like cleaning the bb. That’s been working well.

  2. mike says:

    what are those things on your spokes?

    • Mike,
      The wheels are Topolinos. They have a unique connector (some might call it ugly) between the carbon/kevlar spoke blade and the threaded end of the spoke. Fantastic wheels though.

      ::M

  3. Chris says:

    I have a set of SKS Race Blades and I’m curious how the Crud RoadRacers compare. Any opinions?

    • The SKS fenders are by all accounts another great option. I haven’t tried them. Interesting that fenders on race bikes haven’t caught on much. I still see 95%+ of riders out training in the rain without them and ruining team kits etc. with crap of the road.

  4. kurt says:

    Sorry to hear about your back, pain in any form is a hinderence on the bike.

    Those fenders look great and make that Enigma look almost civilized. I can’t wait to hear more about them as you experience their foul weather performance.

    I took the wife in for a bike fit using the Specialized BG Fit system. The video feedback goes a long way towards providing the justification for the changes. New stem, saddle, and shoes and a few adjustments over 3 hours have her in perfect position.

    The Specialized line-up is looking sweet for 2010. I was checking out the Tarmac up close. It almost makes me want a carbon frame.

    Thanks for the cleaning tip (the sock) on previous post. Renate rubbed (ground) bird droppings from the back of a chair into her new bright white Giordana Forma Red jacket. The stain looked permanent, but a little detergent on a sock with a little rubbing did the trick. Thanks.

    Take care of your back.

    Ride on

    • thanks Kurt,
      did the book arrive (I don’t remember if you let me know). Good to hear first hand experience with the BG fit system… I know Specialized puts a big emphasis on the SBCU. At some point I’ll get in to the center and do a post about the program.

      ::M

  5. Sean O'Brien says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. What was holding up your Enigma in the first two shots?

  6. Sean,

    Pure willpower… actually Juli’s fingers, easily cloned away.

    ::M

  7. Nick Rearden says:

    Can’t believe apart from wishing your back well that everyone wants to comment on the mudguards, for flip’s sakes.

    We’ll get it over with; yes, the Mr Crud RoadRacer ‘guards are brilliant and every roadie in Britain knows this now having enjoyed the wettest and most miserable stretch of weather in living memory.

    However, the back. Have you been to a chiropractor? A good, recommended one? I wish you lived here in Bath UK because you could see our local Dr Giles Courtis who seems to specialise in cyclists’ dodgy backs. Certainly worked for me and countless others. Apologies if you’ve been through all this before; I’ve only been enjoying your site for a few months.

    Get well soon, Nick

    • Nick,

      Thanks for the good wishes.

      Here on the left coast I’ve not seen a single rider sporting the RoadRacers. Last weekend I saw dozens of riders out in a steady rain, and not one had fenders… every one of them was working on that black stripe up their backs. Time to get the word out, these are solid performers that don’t make your race bike look or feel like a Clydesdale.

      ::M

      • mark says:

        I “had” a pair on the left coast (Seattle). They sat around for a long time until the rain came. When I went to install them (pain in the butt), I discovered one was broken.

        It wasn’t worth the cost/effort to ship them back to Europe. I don’t know where you can order them in the US. Maybe that has change recently but I ordered them right after they were released

  8. Alan says:

    I have a pair of the crud racers and SKS raceblades as I am not a fan of the black stripe. In my opinion Mr Crud’s product wins hands down in terms of wet weather protection. Although the race blades are alot easier to fit, I found on my bike I could not attach them to my front fork. The rear race blade lives on my singlespeed.

    However the Cruds once fitted to my road bike provide better wet weather coverage, are lighter and look alot sleeker than than the competition. They can be purchased in the UK for as little as £20 and the way the £ – $ exchange rate is at the moment I am sure it is a competitve price for the US market.