Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Begrudging the Sludge

As I mentioned recently, last week the icy perineum of the Polar Vortex descended upon the New York City area.  By the weekend however it was beginning to relent, and on Sunday I headed out for a ride:


While I've joked about using the Renovo as a rain bike (by the way, the creaking is still there despite my recent cassette swap), the truth it that it's my trusty Milwaukee that sees me through the sloppier end of the weather spectrum, and for this reason it spends most of the winter be-fendered and skinny-tired.

Even after weeks spent alternating between a crabon bike and an artisanal wooden bike (and despite being due for some new shifty bits in the not-too-distant future due to the aforementioned sloppy conditions to which it is frequently subjected) the Milwaukee was a delight to ride.  I also congratulated myself for my choice with each pedal stroke, for between the melting ice and snow and the liberal application of road salt the roads were a real mess.  Indeed, I daresay I felt a bit smug.

See, my ride took me on perhaps the most heavily-trafficked Fred corridor in the entire Western Hemisphere, that being Route 9W.  And because the weather had finally broken, thousands of Zwift-addled Freds and Fredericas were out savoring their first outdoor rides in quite some time.  The thing was, 9W was even more heavily salted than it was heavily Fredded, and as group after group streamed by I marveled at the fact that not a single rider was astride a bicycle with fenders.  "How is it," I wondered, "that not one of these riders has a winter bike?"  It seemed to me that for the price of the crabon wheelsets all these riders were subjecting to such foul conditions in February for some reason they could have instead purchased themselves fully-equipped winter bikes and kept their Fred chariots in pristine condition for the spring.

Then I realized that this is New York and maybe all those fancy crabon bikes were their winter bikes, which was kind of sobering.  (And after realizing that I also realized that for many years I too only had one bicycle on which to do all my racing and "training" and regular riding, and that plenty of old fusspots probably thought the same thing about me as I churned through the salt and slush to Nyack on my fenderless bike all winter.)

Anyway, not only was 9W more heavily salted than I'd ever seen it, but the consistency of that salt was also different from any I'd ever encountered in decades of riding there.  Not only did it stick to my bottom bracket shell like confectioner's sugar:


But when mixed with water it turned into something with the consistence of Pillsbury cookie dough:


In fact, as route 9W is in New Jersey, I wondered if mandating the use of edible road salt might have been one of Chris Christie's final acts as governor:


Fortunately, the George Washington Bridge bike path itself was rather wet, which meant that the road spray went a long way towards rinsing the sludge off the bike on my return trip to New York.

As for the Renovo, I took a spin on it yesterday in the gloriously freakish springlike weather we're currently having:


The creaking, as I mentioned, is still there.  The only thing I can think of is that I left out a cassette spacer or something.  (It's hard to keep track of which type of cassette requires which type of spacer, these days but I'm fairly certain that an 11-speed cassette on an 11-speed freehub requires no spacers, especially since both wheel and cassette in this case are from Shimano.)

I guess I could always stuff my ears full of road sludge.

41 comments:

Beck the biker said...

Jeeses what do they leave on the roads around there? And, podio? Keep on working the salt mines.

Anonymous said...

I was informed by someone on Reddit that the sludge is a result of the authorities using a more environmentally-friendly road salt than they used to, given how much of it winds up in the Hudson. I caught so much of it just riding across the GWB into work the other day that my front wheel was all locked up when I got back on the bike to head home at the end of the day. Now I know to dig it out before I lock it up for the day. It's disgusting, and for me, at least, adds enough resistance that everything feels like I'm riding uphill.

George Krpan said...

Discs are the way to go on a winter bike.

Durianrider is currently launching a tirade against disc brakes, saying that they rub and hence,slower. Love him anyway.

BikeSnobNYC said...

George Krpan,

They certainly have their advantages but I also appreciate the simplicity of rim brakes in winter.

--Tan Tenovo

Billy said...

Clearly, the only thing you can do with the Renovo at this point is give it away in a reader contest and hope the winner is less bothered by the creaking.

I am using my folding bike as a winter beater because I cracked the fork on my Space Horse. Warranty replacement is done today, so later I can rinse off the folder and go back to my usual.

pbateman is not going to finish his oatmeal this morning after seeing Tan T's bike said...

my god that is legitimately disgusting. i would boil that bike, then use all manner of industrial cleansers to disinfect. actually, i'd probably just set it down and walk away.

at least down here in the wang state our roads are just covered with alligator piss and various opioids and cocaine that people have dropped so you get a nice buzz when handling your bike after a ride.

that shit looks like you run the risk of turning into Swamp Thing.

SwampSnob. Just burn it bro.

DaveD said...

That looks like a dead eel stuck in your fenderspace! I see where SKS is offering a new fenderset (out in April?) that will straddle the fork crown on low tire clearance setups. They're called "Speed Rocker". Love it when the Germans attempt clever US marketing strategy.
I've not had any issues with dragging dick breaks,keep them properly adjusted (mine are mechanical). Just got new rotors after 27500 miles on the befendered commuter.

HDEB said...

Road salt is yucky, it eats metal and harms plants. Himalayan pink salt is especially yummy in Momo's

Chazu said...

Speaking of shifty bits: does anyone know where to find Ultegra road chain rings, circa the 9 speed era? (6500?)

Anonymous said...

can't believe you are putting those open pro's racing rims through that salt.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...so now the Freds & Freidas are palping an eel on their spines from the gooey salt spray... instead of the usual skunk line? That can't be good for your body!!! it def ain't good for your bike.

Crusty Crab said...

Absolute salt corrupts absolutely.

I can't stand the stuff.

Nothing like sweeping the garage in the spring nd inhaling all the road salt as it lingers in the air.

dancesonpedals said...

Every time I ride in the Fred Center of Bergen County, I am reminded of the conversation JFK had when he was introduced to Ludwig Wittgenstein.

JFK: Mr Vittgenstein, do you spell your name with a V?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Nein, W.

Fender Putty said...

DEAR LOB!

huskerdont said...

Those damn spacers. My MTB was skipping a while back and I figured it was the vine caught in the cassette. A few months later I noticed it was still skipping. I had the spacer in the wrong place such that the chain could not possibly engage with one whole cog. What an idiot, you'd say, but it's worse. I swear I've never changed that cassette, so it must be original to when I built the bike up years ago. How did I go through hundreds of miles of mountain biking and not figure that out and only twice notice there was a problem?

Fenders aren't aero.*

*I actually do have fake, detachable peni--- I mean SKX rear bike fenders that I'll put on in the face of inclement weather.

Some guy from upstate said...


1. I assume the skinny tires on the Milwaukee are for fender clearance, and not because they cut through snow better or something.

2. Ahh, the winter wonderfulness of grabbing the water bottle and getting a mouthful of road salt! Yum!

3. Re: brake discussion. Bicycle disk breaks only rub if the rotor is bent or they are maladjusted. My bicycle for extra sloppy conditions has a coaster brake - no exposed parts. And really big fenders. Also flat pedals so I can wear my wellies.

wishiwasmerckx said...

My only experience with dick breaks is on a downhill mtn bike, and I find then too grabby.

My riding buddy has them on his downhill bike, which he got from a sponsored pro racer one year old when the new year model was delivered, and they require CONSTANT attention. Warping, rubbing, hydraulic leaks, misalignment, etc., etc. And this is from top-of-the-line pro parts. I can't imagine the trouble with lower-end production stuff.

babble on said...

A) I love dick!... brakes

2) Where else could Master Bateman live, but in America's Wang?

Finally) Our racing, I mean Freds United, club insists on fenders from October thru March. Must be dangerous riding a peloton with NYC Freds. Roadspray in the face is blinding. And THAT spray is thick enough to suffocate you, too. Eww.

Hee Haw the barista said...

Because Christie is fat ... get it?

Steve Barner said...

I switched to mechanical disks on my winter bike last year because I was weary of pleading with my bike to start slowing down, if only just a little, when I hit the 17% grade on my dirt road in the snow. The brakes are TRP Spyres, relatively inexpensive, never grabby at all, still quite true, even after the white-knuckled descents, recently, with this ice. I was hard on the rear brake lever for a mile this morning, without letting up. Rim brakes, dirt roads and water don't play well together. The arguments the brake pads make with the rims after peeling off a few clumps of alloy are truly cringe-worthy.I've worn the sidewalls thin on quite a few rims over the years. Disks fix that problem.

9-speed Ultegra cranks fit almost any 130mm BCD chainrings, assuming a non-indexed left lever. You can use 8, 9, or 10-speed rings with a 9-speed chain. Shims are available if you lose a gear due to chain rub with a 10-speed ring.

Glen Larimer said...

I keep reading about your creaking Renovo, and I wondered if you have changed the wheels to see if maybe they are the problem. I had a strange creaking on my Cannondale SuperSix off and on for months and tried everything - new bottom bracket bearings, regreasing the chainring bolts, checking pedals/cleats/shoes, etc. Finally, I swapped in a pair of wheels from another bike and found there was no sound at all. I ended up changing the bearings in the freehub, and the sound is gone!

JLRB said...

Happiness is a warm ride home - SHORTS!

#whatfendersyourunning?

Matt said...

Been riding dick breaks on my mtbs for well over a decade...surely there are ones that suck and constantly require attention (can personally attest to the suckiness of Hayes nines, Avid Jucy 7s, and even the newer Avid XXs that came w/ my newest mtb fred-sled). Best breaks you can get IMO are big S Ice-Techs...I have them on both mtbs (XTs...the newer set are the new 8020s...4 piston, huge stopping power even for us 1-finger breakers!) and they are simply fantastic! No adjusting or attention necessary. Ride them till the pads are worn out and start to squeal...push the pistons back and swap in a new set of pads, easy peasy! My new gravel bike has big S Ultegra road dicks...and so far they also are FANTASTIC! (only about 800 miles on it so cant say long term). Cant imagine going back to rim breaks...dicks are the bees-knees!

huskerdont said...

I like rim brakes for dry riding. I like dicks for the wet.

BB7s on the MTB are good. Cheap Promax on the gravel bike have actually been better than expected *except* the design allows water to go into the rear cable housing (it's turned up at the chainstay), and that water freezes, then the brakes freeze when used. So when it's below freezing, I only use the front brake on that bike; so that's optimal.

The crabon bike has Ultegra hydraulic dicks. These are amazing, best stopping ever, but they were some damn noisy dicks when wet, so I switched out the metal pads for organic, and they are maybe 75% quieter but still noisier than I'd like dicks to be. I think it must be something about that rotor.

Chazu said...

Thanks Steve

Babble, you deserve the highest quality dick... brakes available.

Anonymous said...

Crazy bottom bracket shell on that bike - is it some sort of long, skinny press-fit? Never seen a metal bike that wasn't a good ol' threaded BB.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:00pm,

Not sure what you mean, it's a completely normal threaded BB shell with Hollowtech II BB.

--Tan Tenovo

O4fuxake said...

Great! This heralds a whole new category for the bike industry:

The Sludge Bike

Anonymous said...

Here we are now, entertain us

James said...

I have a steel bike with a press fit bottom bracket shell.

babble on said...

Chazu- right!?! A fast she-Fred has got to know she can count on a good hard stop when she needs it!

1904 Cadardi said...

I have a buddy from north central England where the winters are apparently wet with a side of wet. Also wet. He says anyone showing up to the group rides without fenders is required to ride in the back no one wants to eat your Fredtastic "too cool for fenders" anti-social road spray.

Uptight Luddite said...

A good thing to do to help locate/identify bike noises is to have another riding along to listen as you ride. By being able to move about to listen from all angles it Can give a more reliable indication of the source/location of the sound.

babble on said...

Today Is Wednesday in NYC, right?

babble on said...

OHNOOO! OMG. Can't speak to the sebatical, but in all the time I've known him, snobberdiddums has never yet left us hanging so long without a note from his mum!

You OK, TT? JEEEZ, I hope you haven't tripped on some Cheetos, or something. And if you did, I sure hope you have American Freedom insurance.

pbateman has had a crummy day and mom jokes cheer me up said...

I often have to take dick breaks when visiting your mom. She gets me some food and a beer and then we're back to it.

I know i pressed her bottom bracket once and she was really squeaking...so, yeah. Could be the issue.

I also did have to put a fender on her to keep the various spray and sludge out of my eyes.

Snob, can i have the Renovo since you're giving it away?



Haywood Jablome said...

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/us/wisconsin-finds-another-role-for-cheese-de-icing-roads.amp.html&ved=2ahUKEwjdkvbRnqjgAhVByoMKHdRrCfgQFjAOegQIBxAB&usg=AOvVaw1uc19KFCTAcrhcEf0H7BlM&ampcf=1
They're using cheese in Wisconsin to deice roads .Yum. Here in south east michigan, they don't use much salt at all for fear of polluting lake Erie. Usually makes for a dangerous commute during a snow or ice event. Cages are dangerous,bro.

Beck the biker said...

" And the New York State Thruway Authority has a beet juice pilot program that has used 400,000 gallons of the stuff over the last three years." Did it smell vaguely of borscht? https://tinyurl.com/y7g3gxtq

Steve Barner said...

I believe this has happened before, but it's still ironic that the "Worst Day of the Year Ride" has been postponed because ... it's the worst day of the year. http://eventsbyaxiom.com/worstdayride/

dop said...

Himalayan Pink Salt is either a punk band or a euphemism for cunnilingus

Unknown said...

In the wood world we call the noise "delamitation".