Friday, December 7, 2012

Old brakes and Tough breaks

Old Brakes:

This is one of the coolest articles I've read in a long, long time. Check the link, it's a good read. I don't even know what possessed me to check out NSMB, obviously I will do anything other than study for finals, but I'm glad I got distracted. Dude bro takes apart an old, haggard set of Hayes Mags and gets those things feeling new. The article is rad for three reasons:

1. Everyone in the universe has an old, clapped out set of Hayes Mags in their garage. Everyone. If you don't, you're not even a real bike rider. Or you're thirteen.

I sold my old, blown pair a couple years ago for $30 and a half eaten Snickers bar, and now I'm really regretting it.

I miss them already, sort of. I've got to tamp down the nostalgia, though, and stay realistic. Fixing your old Hayes brakes fits in the same category as "I could totally fix up this old, broken radio set on Ebay. I'll totally listen to the radio all the time at home," or "sure I'll take your old microwave, I could totally use two microwaves!"

2. The title of the article is "Teaching the principle, not the procedure." That's a pretty good way to think about anything mechanical. Sort of like the give a man a fish/teach a man to fish proverb, it's way more useful to learn how to figure mechanical stuff out than to be taught how to do little, individual tasks.

Many people who are smarter than me have said that working on crappy, old bikes is the the best way to learn. When you listen to Monk on all those TWR videos, he says that most of what he does now is just bolt on new parts and clean the bike. Obviously he's being modest, and I think a lot of smart people would credit him as one of the best mechanics in the world, but things are different when you deal exclusively in new, dialed parts. Bolting on new stuff isn't really "working on bikes." When it comes to getting your hands dirty and fixing real problems, nothing provides the manifold opportunity for challenge, growth, and learning of a rusty, old POS that is a danger to its rider.

And old Hayes Mags are nothing if they're not a rusty, old POS that are a danger to their rider.

3. The article is from Jeff Bryson from Cana Danada. If this is the same Jeff Bryson I'm thinking of, than he has won a bunch of BC cups and has kicked my ass a couple times, too. It's good to see smart articles written by guys that can actually ride, even he does put those sweet, new Mags onto flat handlebars.

You're forgiven. THIS TIME.

Tough Break:
Trek World Racing DH 2012 || Leogang World Champs from Trek World Racing on Vimeo.

Three things about this TWR video:

1. If you don't watch anything else, watch the last 40 seconds. As someone who has ridden there, I can certify that every single gap and line he does is 100% impossible, as is million mph speed in places where I was awkwardly wobbling and creeping down riding my brakes. To me, that was hands down the most impressive riding I have seen on a bike in 2012, and maybe ever. The kid can ride a bike.

2. I'm not placing blame here, and I'm not going to delve into the conspiracy stuff that you'll see elsewhere on the interdork. TEAM ROBOT has stayed above the petty, human fray on this topic, and we're not going to change that now. But, did you see the totally deconstructed Hayes Mag in the article. Homeboy from Canuckistan took that thing completely apart before he put it back together. You have to wonder: in two years of Gwin racing the same proto brakes, how many times did the TWR boys takes those brakes 100% apart. I mean, 100% apart. Seems unnecessary at the time perhaps, but I'm guessing the brake failure wasn't 100% instantaneous. Probably there was some sort of gradual wear that served as the foundation for a later disaster. I'm not saying this to point fingers or shame anyone, but here's what I do walk away with:

I am a lazy bastard when it comes to my own equipment. I race too much to leave my equipment to chance. I should put in a little more work on my own bikes so that they like me back. If I don't, maybe my brake will explode on me during a World Champs winning run. Or maybe not.

3. Okay, let's delve into the conspiracy stuff: I always believe the athlete over the engineer. Always. There are so many stories from car racing, or moto GP, or any of the other tech/science heavy sports, where some racer is testing something and comes off the track and says "it's doing X," and the engineers say "it can't be doing X. We've run the math and there is no way it can be doing X. You must be feeling something else." I had a friend that worked at Leupold Gun sights, and every once in a while the guys in the machine shop would see a new drawing from the engineers and say "this is going to break." The engineers always said "no, we ran the numbers and it's strong enough." And every single time it broke in testing.

Engineers are not God. So when you hear Gwin say "it felt like both brakes failed," then probably both brakes failed. When the engineer guy from Big Blue is saying "you probably thought you felt the rear brake fail, but it was just because the front brake wasn't there," I have to wonder: really? You're going to question what Aaron Gwin did or did not feel his bike doing? Sure, there are brainless riders that coast by on talent and athleticism, whose only feedback to the engineers is "it was badass" or "it rode dumb," but I'm guessing Gwin is not one of those guys. I like how there is no discussion or argument featured in the video, and Gwin just listens and nods. Like we're supposed to believe Gwin's thinking "sure jack, I must have been wrong." I didn't think there was a conspiracy before, but at that exact moment I knew in my heart it was true.

I'm not saying it was Shimano. That's what everyone else thinks, but here's the real deal:
  • UCI feeling pressure from USADA and world news media from the Lance thing. Obviously they knew about the doping and turned a blind eye. Things look bad for the UCI. 
  • Gwin coming through the ranks, poised to win World Cup title and the rainbows. Another too good to be true, out of left field American racer who crushes urbody, urday and makes the competition look like JV. Smells like Lance all over again. 
  • Turns out it's not drugs, Gwin's the real deal. But UCI can't stand the idea of America showing everyone else how much their country sucks, and plans to plant drug testing samples and get Gwin banned for EPO or blood doping or Red Bull or whatever they use these days. They pick the World Champs as the event to shame him. Gwin will be too disgraced to come back, and then we'll only have FAAGs representing America.  
  • UCI can't go through with drug bust plan because they're taking heat on this Lance thing. Drugs are out. 
  • UCI plans to sabotage Gwin's bike, so they threaten Shimano & TWR. If Shimano doesn't turn a blind eye, the UCI threatens to pass a new rule to make good, well made parts illegal on the World Cup. Shimano knows if this UCI rule goes through, every top 20 rider in every cycling sport will be on SRAM. Some Euro joes will be on Campy, but that's only road and no one cares about Campy anyway. This will kill Shimano's marketing and sales. 
  • UCI wants a French or Swiss rider to win it, but even they don't like Spagnolo, and no one would believe it if Nick Beer won world champs. They don't want to detract from the glory of the Swiss/Belgian/French cycling legacy, so they settle for a non Swiss/Belgian/French rider who still won't get people excited: Minnaar. It's like a Dungey MX win; no one at home is dancing and singing.
It all goes down. Here's a visual representation of Whitely breaking the news to Gwin on his week off between World Champs and Norway. Gwin played by William Wallace, Martin Whitely played by Robert the Bruce, Monk played by Irish Stephen:

And that's the way it went down. True story.


P-Money said...

Would that be considered one of the signs of the Robot Apocalypse??.....Finding out Gwinn sleeps with a couple vials of EPO underneath his pillow?? Oh well, Juicers Gonna Juice - JGJ ;)

Acadian said...

When that Gwin video came out I forwarded it to a few of my friends and told them to skip straight to 10:23 and hold their jaws before they hit the keyboard.