Chain Recovery and Lube

I’ve tried several of the bicycle specialty chain lubes, and I haven’t been too happy with any of them. The last one I used, advertised to be ‘long-lasting’ and ‘repels water’, left my almost new chain rusted after one race in the rain at the beginning of August (Boston Tri). Here is what my chain looked like after I put the bike up on the stand and wiped everything down.

02 Bad Chain 2(Sorry about the blur. My phone is not the best camera.)

As you can see, just one sprint-distance race in the rain (and near the ocean with sea spray) turned the chain into one long line of rust. Using my Chain Breaker, I took the chain off, wiped off the last remaining lube, grit, and other road debris, then attacked the rust.

03 Clean Chain

As using a wire brush and sandpaper is out of the question, there are a variety of commercial chemical products to remove rust. The most common on the left consists of a strong phosphoric acid-based solution which converts the soft, flaky rust into a harder, impervious coating. However, this is a little too strong for this case, and would result in coating that might bind between the links. The milder ‘CLR in the center is also an acid-based solution, mostly based on various organic acids such as citric and lactic (yes, the same lactic acid which builds up in your muscles), along with surfactants, which dissolves thin layers of gunk and surface rust. After cleaning the last of the oil and grease from the chain using the IPA (isopropyl alcohol, 91%) , I let it soak a bit with occasional agitation.

04 Clean Chain 2

After a bit, the last of the rust was gone, leaving a clean chain in a dirty, rusty water bath. Removing the chain with gloves, I rinsed the chain with cold water and then immediately with the IPA to remove last traces of water. Wiping down the chain with clean paper towels, I hung it to finish drying.

05 Wax Chain 1

Meantime, I set up a double-boiler and melted one block (out of the four-block pack) of the paraffin wax I recommended previously. After the wax had melted and the water under was gently boiling (don’t let the water boil over!), I put the chain in to soak.

06 Wax Chain 2

The chain bubbled a bit as the paraffin soaked into the links, and then slowly stopped. After allowing it to soak a bit more, I fished the chain out, and hung it to cool.

07 Wax Chain 3

After the chain cooled, and the paraffin hardened, I had to flex the chain a bit to get the individual links moving. Once the chain was moving somewhat freely, I checked it against the chain wear gauge.

10 Check Chain 3(Thank you Jennifer for taking the picture while I held the chain and gauge. Now clean up your room.)

As the gauge showed only a minor amount of wear (perhaps I should have checked it before cleaning and waxing), I mounted it back on the bike, and spun the crank and shifted until the chain moved smoothly through the full range of the derailers.

11 Good Chain 1

12 Good Chain 2

Result: Almost new chain, dry lubed, for just a few pennies, which will not attract sand and grit. It worked well for Cranberry Olympic, and what do you know, the old, tried and true method appears to give the best results according to Velo News, Sheldon Brown, and even testing from a laboratory dedicated to cycling. Take that, overpriced, fancy lubes.

Cranberry Olympic – 21 August, 2016

Cranberry Olympic 3rd Place

Overall: 3:02:05.1

After hearing about it from TriFury teammates for years, I finally had a chance to enter and compete in the Cranberry Trifest Olympic race. The Trifest actually runs two days, and consists of a sprint race on Saturday and the Olympic on Sunday. I entered the Olympic race intending just to run it for fun, without worrying about speed or placing. Surprisingly, I captured third place, and even more surprisingly, there were more than three people in my age group (which is usually how I reach the podium).  Here’s how it broke down:

Swim: 0.9 mi / 39.32 min, finishing 6 out of 7 in my age group. I’m not the fastest swimmer by far, and with Jamie telling me the water temperature was 81 the day before, I skipped the wet suit, which probably added ~4 min to my time. The swim was unique, as they ran it as a two loop course due to low water levels. My wave was right in the middle (4th), so by the time I got out there, I was  getting run over by the elite first wave swimmers, and then run over by the younger, faster swimmers in the later waves. I got smacked, and smacked, got poked, and poked, got grabbed, and grabbed, more swimmers than in any race ever. All part of the fun. I hope they keep the same course for next year.

T1: 1:52.8 min. Although I probably lost ~4 min on the swim without the wet suit, I made most if not all of it up in T1. Had I worn it, it probably would have taken me five minutes to get out of it and on the bike, as getting out of a wet suit while sweating profusely takes more time than it saves.  I also skipped the socks for the first race this year, for which I paid for later.

Bike: 26.2 mi / 1:22:55 hr / 19.0 mph average, finishing 2 out of 7 in my age group. Like Mass State, I concentrated on keeping my heart rate in a relatively low zone. The bike course was nearly identical to Patriot Half, with a few sections cut out to change it from 28 to 26 miles. Jamie recommended taking salt tablets, so I took one at the start along with the ‘Gu’ every 30-40 minutes and liquids. I didn’t know I was averaging 19 mph until getting my results after the race.

T2: 2:25.3 min. Seems a bit strange that my T2 was ~32 seconds longer than T1, although I don’t know where the timing mats were located. I did make it a point to have  a good drink from my bike bottle before going out, and did have to fight a bit with the speed laces on my shoes. I will have to check these, specifically the right shoe, as you will see.

Run: 6.2 mi / 55:21 min / 8:56 min/mi average, finishing 2 out of 7 in my age group. This run was actually quite nice, as I was expecting the run to be similar to Patriot (hot, sunny, with little shade). Although there were sunny sections, and it was getting quite warm by this time, the run was mostly shady. I made it a point to walk through every water station (one every mile) and get some water, and took another extra salt tablet at the first water stop and a Gu just before the third stop. After the second mile, I could feel holes getting worn in my right foot. While I had skipped socks with my bike shoes many times before, this was the first sockless run in my (relatively) new racing flats. I concentrated on everything other than my feet, and finished the race with two smaller blisters on my toe and heal, and a large (~3″) long blister right along the instep of my foot.

Overall, it was a great race, and I hope  to be able to sign up for both the sprint and Olympic races next year.