Cross-chained, big-big—I’m strong enough to upshift soon.
Emptying my last bottle—the finish must be near.
Following the move—I can’t be that close to redline.
Wearing long sleeves instead of arm warmers—it can’t warm that much in a few hours.
Switching the cassette with a 25 for one with a 23—I won’t need a bail gear.
Running smaller tires—the course can’t be that rocky.
Rolling out without a rain jacket despite gray clouds—I’ll be home before the dump begins.
Tightening the arc of a turn in the wet—I haven’t run out of traction yet.
Launching off a big rock on an unknown trail—the landing can’t be that bad.
Hanging on to the back of a group at a pace too fast to sustain—they have to slow soon.
Packing a vest but not a jacket—I mean, it’s cold, but not that cold.
Leading an unknown descent—how bad could it get?
Ts-ts-ts-ts-ts-ts-ts—that has to be someone else’s tire.
Boxed in the group with 200m to go and staying calm—I’ll find a way out.
Packing one tube and no patches—if I flat more than once my day is over anyway.
No brakes descent in a residential neighborhood—no one will be pulling out.
Letting the break go—they’ll be back.
The attack.


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  1. Nico

    ‘Switching the cassette with a 25 for one with a 23’
    Do they still make 11-23 cassettes? I guess I’m not the only person hanging on to one of these.

    1. Author

      They do make ’em … not that I know anyone still riding them. Mine are all in a drawer in my garage. That may say more about how hard they are to sell than how I hang on to stuff.

    2. Michael

      I thought my 23 WAS my bail gear, 30 years ago! I went up Gibraltar last week and thought how I used to do it with a 42×23 as my low gear. Glad I still have knees!

  2. Dan Williams

    I recently bought a Serotta CSI that came to me with a 39×23 low gear on it (Record 8spd – circa 1996), and honestly, it’s not that bad – even with a 23-lb bike (I ride a 62). At least for shorter rides without sustained, 15+ minute climbs at over 10%. The shifting of that group is incredible – though the ergonomics and braking leave much to be desired.

    In related news, I’m glad I bought my CSI before DK went on The Pull – the market value of them probably jumped 50% overnight 🙂

    And it is a sweet ride.

    Dan, aka. Clean39T on the IG.

    1. Josh Beach

      39 x 25 was plenty – it’ll be enough, despite moving from miles to kilometers on the edge of the Alps.

      (Chasing my wife up that 18% stretch wasn’t pretty. But my 8 speed Record equipped CSI with Wheelsmith wheels is prettier than her battery augmented ride!)

  3. Mike Terrell

    This thin layer of ice on the roads won’t last all the way to work – I can keep going (did that one just yesterday; not my best decision).

    1. Josh Beach

      Aggressive tread, siping, and spikes will make up for the 16″ wheels in this fresh snow – it’s not that slippery! (Wrist still hurts. 🙂 )

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