[Publisher's note: Last Fall Slowtwitch held a contest to choose our new logo. The winner was Slowtwitch user Cupajoe, a graphic designer in Eastern Canada. We offered the winner a new carbon complete bike—we did not specify which bike. When Cupajoe (Joe McNamara) won, we asked him if he had a preference. We thought it reasonable, and asked him to blog about the process. Part I, of the blog, containing the first several installments, is below.
What follows is not an advertorial, and in fact Guru is not a Slowtwitch advertiser. The blog is exactly as Joe wrote it, without any coaching from us. This is part 2 of Joe's Guru bike blog. Here is Part 1.
About Cupajoe: he started racing as a junior in 1987 on the road. He raced both road and mountain bike from 1988 to 1995, and was Eastern Canadian Hill Climb Champion in 1991 off-road for sport class. Joe lives in Eastern Ontario and is a member of the Cornwall Multisport Club. He currently competes in triathlons and footraces. He is married and has twin eight-year-old daughters.]
If I Build It, it will...
After what seemed like an eternity (actually was only a few weeks) my bike arrived via UPS. I booked the day off and sat on my front porch to await its arrival.
With the box in front of me I couldn't believe it was actually here. It was on September 18th, 2007 that Slowman told me I had won the contest. It was now April, 2008 and here it was. I opened the box and was blown away. It was a work of art. To me it was like having my logo design come to life. I could now see that GURU was the one company that could give a bike a personality.
I figured it would come like most bikes arrive at the local bike shop—partially assembled with a couple hours of work to do. I was wrong. Every piece was in a separate box or bag. I had a lot of work ahead of me.
I've stripped down and built up many bikes and much to my father's dismay (Dad, if you are looking down on me this one's for you) I admit that some never made it back. This bike was going to be different. First I had to update my tools. I still have square taper cranks on all my bikes and use a 10 year old chain tool. Down to the LBS to buy me some tools.
Now that I had the tools something was still "blocking" me from building the crono up. I was a little intimidated by the bike. It looked so beautiful that I did not want to screw it up.
One of the bottle neck's in the build up was the cable routing. When it is done it looks great but doing it takes some patience. For a skilled GURU mechanic it might be a breeze but for your average wrench, it is a little difficult.
Another issue I had was that I did not want to put too much torque on the bolts. I've head horror stories of carbon seat post bolts being over tightened and cracking the frame. I threaded all the parts with just enough torque to hold them snug.
It took me a week with some help from the customer service at GURU to get the job done. It looked so good that my wife let me keep it in the living room for a whole month. I love her.
The only thing I was not going to do was cut down the fork by myself. For this I would need some help.
Feeling like I'm being set up I wanted to start riding the Crono in the proper position right from the first ride so I was in search of a fitter in the Ottawa area. Michel Somogyi from GURU tipped me off on a great boutique shop named Ace Custom Cycles owned by Richard Coburn. He is Eastern Ontario’s and Western Quebec’s only Serotta dealer, one of only four in Canada. At the time he was getting set up as a Guru dealer and was just measured for his own Crono. In fact he was at the factory and saw my bike coming out of the paint shop and now it was sitting in his shop.
He took all the measurements that were needed and started adjusting the seat and bar heights, aero bar width and extension and seat fore and aft. After two hours of on and off the bike and video analysis of my position we came to the perfect position on the bike. The seat was a bit higher and the bars seemed to be a bit lower than my last set-up so to get me into this position by mid-season we adjusted to a compromise and Richard left an inch play on the fork so I could gradually move down a spacer when I felt I was ready.
Richard had all the right tools to tighten up the bolts to the recommended specs and skillfully cut down my carbon fork and epoxied the aluminum insert all while having Michel Somogyi on conference call to walk him through it. You only get one shot at this.
I was now ready to hit the road.
Are you ready?
The first ride on the Crono was April 19th. It was a warmish day, the roads were clear and I was ready to see if all the hype you hear and read about GURU bikes is real. I picked a quiet loop with varying terrain and asked my wife to tag along for the first 25km as a spotter for my bike position. I made some small tweaks (aero bars closer and dropped the stem down to the recommended height) and I was going to open it up for 30km.
At this point in the season I was still working on my base and I really was not expecting anything special. As soon as I applied power to the pedals the bike responded and seemed to hold the speed. It was very easy to try and up the speed a couple of km's/h and hold it. If you wanted to go fast, the bike did too and was willing to help. I had fun doing this for the whole ride and ended up doing a sort of interval workout in the process.
One trait that I noticed early on is the stability when in the aero bars. Cornering and descending were not a problem. On one short (100m) descent I upped the speed to 52 km/h and on the ascent (100m) I held the speed easily and carried it over the top. Right away I knew this bike was going to be fun to ride.
Speed for your average joe
I had not been a member of the local cycle club since 2000 and now that I had this great bike, I could not pass up the chance to put it to the test of the local 15km and 40km time trial series. The last year I rode any fast times was 1997. Back then I could ride high twenty-one to low twenty-two minute for the 15km and just over the hour for the 40km. But back then I was also riding at least 300km a week.
My first time out for the 15km time trial was in the high twenty-five minute range. It wasn't fast but I held the aero position for the whole thing and I knew that if I had the fitness, I could get my time down to something respectable. My first 40km time trial was the same, one hour, seven minutes and change. Same feeling, very comfortable and easily held the aero position.
To try and bring my time down I decided to do two quality rides per week and the Wednesday time trial. Throw in a couple of the Multisport Club Monday night Duathlons and I had a recipe to bring my time down. My weekly total km's never went over 150 yet I could feel my fitness returning.
To bring us back to the reason for this article, my Crono patiently waited while I put in the time on its saddle, eager to break out of the stall and rip up whatever challenge I put in front of it. My best times for the year ended up being 22:23 for the 15k and 1:03:53 for the 40k. I was very happy and I knew that coupled with the performance of the bike and the motivation it gave me, I would never had ridden those times on my old setup.
The "A" race
The only test left for me was to see how the Crono performed in a Olympic distance triathlon. I was trying to recover from tendonitis in my right achilles since the spring and just when I thought it was gone, it would rear its ugly head and come back with a vengeance. Luckily cycling didn't seem to bother it. I decided to just manage the pain with ice, Advil and as little running as possible.
I picked the Esprit Montreal Triathlon as the "A" race. My weak swimming was also giving me some worries. I knew a fellow club member (bx3 on the forum) was doing the race also and asked him to give me some pointers and moral support for the swim. I was really there for the bike and I did not care how long the swim took me. It turned out to be not as bad as I had anticipated and I was on the bike passing people left right and centre.
The bike course for the Montreal Triathlon is on a F1 track. It is 2.5km long and has a long straightaway, many turns, a rise and a decent. Add to that competitors from the iron, half iron, and sprint distances along with the olympic distance and you get a recipe for a bike handling nightmare.
This would be the ultimate test for the Crono.
I had no problem staying in the aero position while passing many riders in all situations. While riding up the hill, in the corners, on the descent and especially on the straightaway into the headwind. I never felt that I was out of control and could change my line if needed for riders that were changing theirs (and there were a few).
The transition from bike to the run is also noticeably easier on the Crono. Last year I did weekly brick workouts to help me in this area and it would still take me at least 2 km for my running legs to kick it. This year with no brick workouts it only took me 250 meters to settle in on the run. I suspect this is a combination of the correct fit and the comfort from the bike that allows me this luxury. I'll take it whatever it is.
The season ends with a bang
The last race of the season was the local Multisport Club FunDu duathlon. I was the race director this year for the race and had set up a good course which I had trained on for a couple of months to test it out. I knew if I put in a decent run and held my own on the bike, I could be a factor. I came out of the first transition into the bike in second place. I was burying myself trying hold my position. I was passed by three riders (one of them RobInOn on the forum) by the turn around and it was there I remembered that I had not notified the competitors at the pre-race talk about some nasty pot holes one kilometer from the finish of the bike. It was at this point that oxygen must have been cut off from my brain because I also forgot while trying to catch the riders in front of me.
A few kilometers later it happened. BANG, BANG!
I rode right through the two foot long, five inch deep pot hole in the aero position at 40 plus km/h. Luckily I did not go down but suffered double flats and I knew I could not let this happen to anyone else. I got off my bike and stood in the hole to warn the other 40 competitors about the hole. All that being said, I think the reason I did not end up on the pavement were a combination of the stability of the ride and the characteristics of the frame.
Damage report: the frame seems to be fine but my front rim has an up-and-down to remind me of the event.
In the end I was lucky to be chosen as the winner of the logo contest and, to that point, winning the bike has changed my perspective on high quality bikes. I know can appreciate the engineering and design that goes into a professional level bike and would not have had that chance if not for the generosity of Slowman. Fitness-wise it has helped me drop 15 lbs. and I am now focusing on my swim so I can match my bike and run abilities at the Olympic distance and come out of the water in better placing.
Who wouldn't want to finish the swim faster if they had a GURU Crono waiting for them in the transition, ready to rip up the course and hand deliver them to the run?
Thanks for the experience to one and all.