New wheels and the science of cycling-induced bogeys

For quite a while I’ve been considering buying a new wheelset for my bike. It all started when I removed the stickers from the old wheels. Partly this was because I have a minor obsession with removing stickers from things (DVD cases, insides of shoes, underneath of crockery, on top of work laptops even when it says ‘Do Not Remove This Sticker’, etc.) and partly this was because they were a budget wheelset and I wanted to conceal their true identity.

Stealthy budget wheels

Freshly polished stealth-wheels

The only problem with removing plasticky stickers is they tend to leave a nasty, sticky residue that can be a nightmare to remove. I once tried to remove a sticker from the front of a friend’s refrigerator while I was round for dinner and ended up spending a frustrating hour sat on his kitchen floor, trying every chemical and detergent in his cupboard to remove the residue. On the plus side I discovered that Pledge (other brands of furniture polish are available) removes this mess; on the downside I was never invited round for dinner again.

So I used Pledge on my old wheels and not only did I remove the crappy stickers, I also left them with a fantastic polished finish. However this still didn’t satisfy me, and after further deliberation I finally asked my local bike shop to help in choosing a new wheelset. In the end I chose a set of American Classic Sprint 350’s as they are lightweight for climbing, have smooth hubs, but are not deep section as I would be scared of being blown off in the wind and are aluminium rims rather than carbon as I’d be scared of hitting a pothole with wheels made from a brittle material.

The only time when being in a car seems more attractive than cycling

The only time that being in a car seems more attractive than cycling

I had been intending to ride the Castle Combe race track after work today, however we are in the midst of a deluge of Biblical proportions so I wimped out and decided to head to the bike shop instead to pick up the new wheels. Over the last year I’ve built a good relationship with the guys at the local bike shop (i.e. I’ve spent lots of money there) and the benefit today was that as my bike was already in the boot (from the aforementioned wimping-out) they said to just bring it inside and they’d transplant my rear cassette, tyres and set up the brakes. In the end I had three mechanics buzzing around my bike for half an hour correctly adjusting all the components (and noticing and correcting my previous bodge jobs like cutting down the steerer tube which had resulted in a bit of movement in the headset) while I sat on a stool drinking a cup of tea and acting as if it was someone other than me who’d made a complete pig’s ear of maintaining this simple machine. It was also agreed that I needed to ‘man-up’ and change the compact 50/34 to a 52/39 crank (probably as I’d falsely claimed to be a strong rider as you can’t have people knowing that you’re a bad mechanic as well as being a bad cyclist) so it looks like my ‘good relationship’ with the bike shop is set to further blossom. And all of this impromptu expert labour and advice was delivered for the recommended retail price of the wheelset – you just can’t get this type of service online.

New wheel

New wheel

Driving home from the bike shop I noticed that the rain was actually not ‘Biblical’ and really just ‘persistent drizzle’ so decided to get out there and test out the new wheels. I rode for an hour in the wind and rain, up hills and through giant puddles but to be honest couldn’t really comment on the performance of the wheels in these conditions. I arrived home after an hour, frozen to the bones, soaked through and after tipping the water out of my shoes I was confronted by my wife who ordered me not to come inside the house until I’d removed the massive, hanging piece of bogey from my face. Remembering the comments from my previous post I grabbed my camera and managed to capture the living stalactite for my demanding (and slightly gross) readers!

Stalactite of effort

Epic stalactite of snot

I’m not sure why Cold + Rain + Exercise = Epic Bogeys, but it’s a mathematical equation that is yet to be proven otherwise. Further research may be required into this interesting field. I’m also not sure whether the new wheels will make me faster but the good news is that the rims have decals and not stickers so there’s no need to grab the furniture polish.