Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Pit Bike is completed and a small trip down memory lane

After two years in hibernation, the pit bike is back and roaring to be utilized this season.

I designed the geometry and paint scheme with my friend Ben while we were grad students at Hopkins. We custom designed the logo and Mike DeSalvo still occasionally uses it on some of his show bikes. I love the bike, it is a pearl white paintjob with a dark metallic blue painted logos, but more on the bike later.

Having the DeSalvo Cross bike in my house again reminds me of all the times Ben and I spent chilling out at Cafe Q, the long fall sunlight coming through the 40 foot windows, drinking Doble Espresso, and talking about the newest trick parts, or how cool some pro was(at the time it was VDB for me). These are the only good memories I have of grad school in general. By the way my friend Ben and Chris at Hopkins were what some in the Cyber world would categorize as SUPER PRO. they taught me so much during my impressionable starting years... I once owned a Bianchi Trofeo with that super trick Celeste paint job. I waxed that thing so many times, my friend told me that if I stopped putting ten coats of wax on my bike, it would weigh 5 pounds less.

Anyways, I think Chris may be getting back into racing cross and the B-field may never be the same again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sportlegs Part Duex

Hot hot day today.

I wanted to test out the Sportlegs again today. On recommendation, instead of taking 3 capsules, I took two this time. I was a little bit uneasy about taking them again since the pills bothered my stomach the last time I took them, but I wanted to give them another try.

Last night I did the most insane stair work out. At the Harvard Colosseum, I did 10 reps of single steps, 5 reps of Plyometrics work, and 10 reps of tall stairs. I woke up this morning and my legs were completely shattered.

I was scheduled to do 5 really hard laps this afternoon at the Harvard cyclocross course. About half an hour before the workout, I took two sportlegs and drank a cup of water mixed with Cytomax.

On the first lap, we went pretty hard, legs felt okay, if not a little blocked. On the third lap, we went super hard and I sensed that little tickle in my calf right before it cramps up. But strangely it never did, and on the next lap, I even rode harder. I feel pretty destroyed from the workout.

The stomach is now, 4 hours later, is making light gurgling noises, but overall seems okay. I will try out the sportlegs at a local race in two weeks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Holy crap.

Cyclocross is hard.

I was able to ride 3 laps Au Bloc and after that my body and mind completely shut down.

All throughout the fourth lap I was trying to think of other sports I did not totally suck at. I couldn't think of too many.

Things I am really good at: Watching movies. Remembering faces. Putting together a bike. Driving carefully.

I kind of think these guys are funny.

Friday, August 24, 2007



Are they the miracle drug for the midpack cyclist? Or are they just a laxative? The main ingredient in these little magical pills is magnesium. Unfortunately for some, like myself, it acts as a complete laxative. I just wasted 27 dollars.(US dollars....) but did lose 5 pounds!

Getting Drilled The best deal ever!

This morning I finally went to the Harvard Dental School Faculty dentists office after not having gone to a dentist for 15 years. Apparently there are some deep deep cavities I need to have drilled. I got two super deep cavities filled for only $47. Is that like the ultimate deal ever? I thought it would be like at least $200.

Seiorusly now. I went riding with the one called PVB. It was painful, and today, two days later, my hips are all sore from the fast pace. There were some girls prentending to run and get a workout and such, but it was painfully obvious that they had taken a keen interest in our super smooth dismounts and remounts done at one would call "Au Bloc" pace. I saw them videotaping using their camera phones so hopefully they will put it on YouTube later. At one point I look over and PVB's fricking pedal body is still stuck to his shoe, but the axle is still attached to the crank. They should have a power limit on those candy Sl's.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nearly Complete...The MudPig Specs

2007 Hampsten MudPig Custom limited Edition

The full description and specs for the frame and fork will be in a later post.

Frame: Reynolds 853 Tubing with Pearl Mica White Paint
Fork: Alpha Q CX-20 Custom Paint 450 Grams

Race Wheels: Fast Fast Fast conditions...
Wheels: Shimano Ultegra hubset laced with DT spokes, Velocity Escape Tubular Rim
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 12-27
Tires: Dugast Typhoon 700X30
*This is my second set of tubular cyclocross wheels. I used to own a set of Ksyrium sl's with Vittoria Cx tires glued to them. Those wheels were nice, but the bearings were pretty messed up and I ended up selling them on craigslist. I had this wheelset built by a master wheelbuilder at Harris cycles in West Newton MA. I am not sure if the Dugast tires are too narrow, but we will see. I noticed that even though these tires are near new, there seems to be some delaminating of the tire from the bottom of the casing. Perhaps I messed them up during mounting. When pumped to pressure, it is not noticeable, but I do hope that it does not shear off during a wicked corner. I still have to buy some skewers. The dream is to buy those USE SpinStix. I envision using these wheels for fast grassy courses like Canton, Gloucester.

Race Wheels 2: Little rougher conditions...
Wheels: Reynolds Solitude Wheelset 1550 Grams
Tires: Schwalbe 700x35 Fast Freddy Light 310 Grams
Cassette: SRAM 970 12-26 225 Grams
* I bought these wheels because for the money, they were an awesome deal. Unfortunately I have noticed that they are not selling these wheels anymore because they are having machining problems with the cassette pawls. after getting dicked around by customer service at Reynolds, I decided to keep these wheels and ride them for cross. they are pretty light at 1550Grams for the pair, and the rear hub has really fast engagement. I think the Schwalble tires are pretty nice and wide and can be ridden at around 45 PSI without much deformation.

More to come on these wheelsets after I have some real riding in them...

Shifters:Shimano Dura-Ace STI, 9 speed 390 Grams
Front: Derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear: Derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace
Crank: Shimano Dura-Ace Ten speed with 48/38 FSA Rings
Bottom Bracket: Dura Ten
Pedals: EggBeaters Sl
*I have kept the Dura Ace 9 spd stuff on there. they have worked for me for 4-5 years, and I have no desire to change them just yet. I am changing from Candy Sl to Eggbeaters this year. I do love these pedals, but they end up getting trashed after one season. Luckily, the nice guys at Crank Bros. at the big races will rebuild them for free. I wish that I had bought the short spindle Ti model....

Saddle: Specialized Alias 143mm 255 Grams
Seat Post: Ritchey WCS Aluminum 200 Grams
Handlebars: Ritchey WCS Aluminum Classic Bend 44cm, OS 225 Grams
Stem: Thomson X2 Silver 100mm 155 Grams
Headset: Chris King 1.125" Silver 125 Grams
Cable Hanger: IRD Long Drop 25 Grams
Brakeset Shimano BR550 with SwissStop GHP brakepads and Salsa wide Yoke 380 Grams
*I have used the Specialized Alias saddle for over 5 years now. It i my favorite saddle and I can't imagine riding without one. Although the newer version is not as attractive as last years version, it does not have all that stitching on the top of the saddle so it should be friendlier to your expensive lycra.
*I have never built a bike with ERGO bend handlebars. When they began appearing in the mid 90's, I was torn. I was appaled at how they looked, but every pro was riding them, even my favorite Jan Ullrich(3TTT Prima 199), but I could never get into them since the ergo bend makes reaching the brake levers impossible on the old Campy Athena components.
*I also belileve that Thomson makes beautiful and structually sound products. I do not like their older stems, but I love the Thomson X2 series. Heavier than your super light stems, but very very solid.
*I have had Chris King headsets on all of the custom bikes I have had in the past. These things never lose their value, it is ridiculous. I hope to one day own some Chris King wheels laced to some carbon rims.
*This year I wanted to ride some different brakes. I wanted to buy some Paul's or some Spooky's, but i could never find a good deal on them. I ended up buying these brakes after I saw some on the TIAA CREF Javelin's and they looked real good. The stock pads weren't all that great and they get worn down very quickly in the wet, so I will be trying out the SwissStop brake pads which are supposed to be "Like The best thing ever"
Totally Tricked out machined dropouts made by Co-Motion.
Very Very thin but stiff dropouts.
Thomson X2 stem.
Although it is hard to see, the paint here is a beautiful pearl white mica which reflects the sun light in a complicated manner not re-produceable on film.
For a 700x35 tire, it is nearly a tight fit.
The Alpha Q cx 20 fork has plenty of clearance. I am using a Salsa straddle cable instead of the one supplied. i am not sure what it will do, but it is fricking stiff.
The rear seat cluster uses a salsa liplock.
Downtube. The decals are under a clearcoat and can barely be felt.
Over the stem front brake cable routing with the silver Fizik bar tape. Brakes are reversed at the moment, or as they call it, Italian Style. I wanted to use the Aztec brake cables because I was told that they will reduce the amount of mushiness during braking. So far, I love the positive feel the brakes give.
Ever trusty Chris king Headset and the rear of the stocky fork crown.
The Boar. Not to be confused with Hogzilla, the 1200 pound pig found and killed in Alabama.

Weighing it at a little over 18 pounds...

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Hampsten Arriveth....and I build it in the 90 degree heat.

So, at around 7:45 AM, there is a knock on my front door and there is the Fedex dude with a nice box waiting for me. I took the box inside and I tear into it like a crazed beast (Please watch the clip Boar Vs. Gator Vs. Lion that is so popular on youtube). It was only 8AM by the time I got the frame all unwrapped. My girlfriend Meg mentioned that my knees were shaking from the excitement and beads of sweat had already started forming on my oily forehead.

I brought all the parts from the basement and I threw in "Alfie" in the DVD player. At times I like to listen to movies as I work on a bike. Although I had this vision of documenting every step of th build, I got lazy and ended up just going straight through the build. The frame was meticulous packed and prepped by Steve Hampsten at Hampsten cycles. The whole process took about 6 months from the initial conversations to the delivery. As expected, the care taken in preparing my frame was more than I could have asked for. I also received a very nice set of socks and a nice hat, but the nicest touch was a completely bad-ass, personally signed print of Andy Hampsten on one of the most epic climbs of the Giro.

Where does one start? Looks wise, I love white bikes so I ended up getting a white Mica paint job, both frame and fork. I also had Steve order me some of the Newer versions of the decals in Orange, which I believe took some time to make, but it was well worth it. The frame is totally trick. I am not even sure where to begin. I will start a new post with the complete specs.

But for now it is build details...

I like to start out with the BB area. The frame was nicely prepped so the BB went in completely smoothly. I am using a Shimano Ten speed dura ace BB, the outerboard design, with a 175mm Dura ace cranks with 48-38 chainrings made by FSA. This portion was very easy and it was a complete success. In the movie, Alfie was hitting on some rich birds.

Next, I put the Front mech and the rear mech, which went on with no problems. Since I specified to have all top of the top tube braze-ons, I ended up using one of those funny pulley things to control the front mech. No problems here.

Next I put the stem, handlebar, and STI Brifters on the bike. I am using a Thomson X2 Silver stem, which I think is one of the best looking stems out right now, mated to a Ritchey Classic OS Shallow bar in size 44cm.

Next I set up the front and rear Mechs using Shimano Dura Ace cable and housing.

...At this point Alfie was experienceing some serious inner quandries and was pondering the effects of his shallow nature on his relationships with his close friends...

Lastly I set up what I consider the most difficult and important part on the Cross Bike: the brakes. In the past I ran Empella Froglegs, but I never liked how stiff the return springs were, so I changed this year to a set of Shimano BR550 cantilever brakes with some nice SwissStop GHP compound brake blocks. These came on the recommendations of Mr. Thorne at, which is a very knowledgeable shop and a great place for cyclocross riders in general. I ended up using Aztec Powerlines compression-less brake housing so that I can get the most responsive brake feel. In the past I have always had mushy mushy brakes. When I ordered the Hampsten, I begged to have an extra stiff rear brake cable braze on, and here is what they delivered...Very nice and stiff, and totally trick and industrial-looking for a steel bike. The shimano brakes are about a .25 pound heavier than the Empellas, but they were about a 1000 times easier to set up and have a much lighter brake feel(more pictures later). Luckily my Reynolds Solitude wheelset and my tubular wheelset have very similar dimensions so I can swap out the wheels without having to adjust the brake blocks. I am OCD about brakes for cross because I feel that, having good brakes is essential since you can go into a corner super hard and brake right before to take the 180 turns. I feel that to go faster, you should be able to brake with more confidence. But then again, no one goes really that fast in a c-race. Also, it is essential to maintain braking in every imaginable weather.

Finally I am waiting to get the steerer tube cut, and to glue in the steerer tube insert which apparently Alpha Q forks require.

Here are some preliminary pictures.. I am pondering which color bar tape to buy. I have ran white in the past, but it may be too much for this bike...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Constructing a Hampsten Mudpig

Let us begin from the beginning...

I think maybe 4-5 years ago I came across the Hampsten website and thought that their bikes were quite the business. They were totally out of my price range but now that I am not a sad sack grad student, I will finally build up the bike I have been wanting for quite some time...

I started speaking with Steve Hampsten back in February. I still remember the day, Bonus money in hand, I called from my desolate apartment at Trilogy Boston. I told him that I wanted a really responsive and stiff cross frame. There was a flurry of snow outside and the roads were completely frozen. no better time to start planning for cross than now I suppose.

I have owned several cross bikes in the past from which I learned a great deal...

1) Strong Custom cyclocross frame 99-00
2) Bianchi Cross bike 00-01
3) DeSalvo custom cross (now my pit bike and is residing in VA with my friend Ben) 02-Present
4) Specialized Tricross(loved this bike) 05-06 Season
5) Hampsten MudPig 07-?