What to do when its icy outside

NOT IMPRESSED Albert, views it all in disgust.

Its happened twice now. Twice I have entered a 200km GPS Audax, and on both occasions I have had to cancel when I got up in the morning. For a 200km on a Sunday, I have to set off at 4am, otherwise Im not back in time to make Sunday dinner.

Lately, its been very mild indeed on the island, infact this year, I have only had to walk into work twice, so perhaps I am getting a bit cavalier about it all. Jack Frost, and his pal Mr Snowy put paid to my hard planning. I got up, went outside to get Enid, and nearly slipped over. Mr Snowy had deposited his load all over the place, and then chickened out, partly melted and invited Jack Frost over for a final beer before bed.

When its icy at 100m, its usually mega icy at 400m+ My Audax, was to be coastal, but end up on the mountain by 3pm, just when the sun is starting to get his pj's out. It was not to be. Again, that is, not to be a 200km.

Feeling guilty about all the cake, chocolate, biscuits, toast and marmalade I had yesterday in preparation for today, I walked back indoors with a grizzly look. I thought I would wait until 7am and see if a thaw was to occur. Well, it wasnt. Ah... but, what have I been putting off for ages, and ages.

Today, Hettie would have her new clothes!

Hettie before I got started Hettie before I got into vandalising her

Please excuse that rotten floor, it doesn't look that disgusting in real life, its a natural stone, and it doesnt look good in photographs so I have discovered. 🙂

Why was she getting all this attention? She is just 2 years old, and has covered 10,000 of summer time miles. I am learning as I go along regarding bicycle maintenance, and some one told me, you never change the chain, let the whole lot wear out, and replace it all. So, I thought I would have years and years of usage of this great chainset. Last year I cycled Lands End to John O Groats, and before this ride, I had the indexing checked as Hettie had started to think I wasnt as fit as I should be. She thought perhaps that changing gear as we cycled up hills, into a much harder gear would be fun.

The indexing worked to a point, and during my ride up the middle of the UK, the boys who worked for the cycleholiday firm I had booked with, spent far too long of their personal time setting and resetting my indexing for me. Hettie and I managed the ride, but when she got home, she went on strike and refused to work in the gears I chose anymore.

Not to worry, it was October by now, and Hettie was set up for hibernation. Hubby took a good look at her chainset. "You've worn that out good and proper lass'. And so I set about getting her new gear.

There were 9 speeds with similar gearing to Hetties available, but as I was re-dooing everything, why not upgrade to a 10sp? It will be a good learning curve. Hettie had been a 9 sp, with a rear ratio of 12/29 with a 50/34 up front. By going to a 13/29 I will be giving my tough legs a wee rest with a slighly lower up hill gear at the back. I am keeping her 50/34. It suits the hills on the island.

THing is, moving from 9sp to 10 sp, isnt just about replacing cassettes, you need different set up on the ergo controls as well. Mick suggested I sent my controls to Mercian, and they could upgrade them I was not confident to do this myself. But in the end, I purchased a brand new set of 10sp controls in that famous auction site.

Hetties handlebars have always been too big for me. This was an ideal opportunity to get them stripped back, and replaced with a smaller set, which I am hoping I might be able to use more fully. Currently I cannot reach the drops on Hettie.

Here are the new bars:

Nice small bars, low drop They are Bontrager VR – C and have a much shallower drop and shorter reach

But before it all got started I procrastonated. Its hard when you dont know where to begin...

most important thing Tea... where would we be without it?

My new ergo controls were a good price, and they arrived complete and brand new. First job was to try to read the instructions without my glasses (at work...) and to try to make sense of the dreadful diagrams Campagnolo assume you understand. About 40 minutes later, after much brain scratching and mugs of tea, this was discovered:

DSCN1122 There it is, the little torx screw you had to undo (once you finally found it) to get the controls onto the bars to secure up again.

I was happy enough once they were fitted in place onto the new bars. Next job, was dismantling Hetties old bars and removing them. Oh, its hard to start stripping off the old Brooks leather bar tape, these bars have been a long way with me, I hope Im doing the right thing. And I hope there is some improvement. I dearly hope I dont have to book her into the LBS before the close of this exercise too. 🙂

Replacement bars Here they are in place, and I am feeling rather chuffed with myself so far.

Hettie before Hetties bars before....

And after:
Stripped to her alloys

Removing the gear cabling Removal of the gear cabling

Yes, the brooks has gone too... Yes, its all change, even my beloved Brooks has been removed.

The Brooks saddle has also been removed, not sure what I am going to do with it. This saddle is fine for me for rides up to about 100km or 63 miles, but I cant do with it for any longer than that. I have replaced beauty for the Beast. Hettie will be sporting a similar saddle to Enid. Its black, its HUGE and its ugly as anything, but I dont need to stand up for the final 10 miles of a 200km ride with it, I can ride without padded shorts (for rides up to about 60 miles). Comfort has beaten a cosmetic appearance. Poor Hettie, she isnt very pleased about it.

FInally, I ended up stripping the handlebars, removing all Hetties old cabling (taking lots of pictures so I know where it all went, as it will be some time before Im back to complete the picture as I am waiting for a cassette and a new stem to fit later. Luckily him with a big bag of tools was in his shed tinkering with a motorbike, and suggested we removed the cassette. Very pleased to hear this, as I have no upper body strength and was dreading the removal of this. Anyway, it was a piece of cake! Chain whip on, pressure opposite with a locking device on the cassette, and suddenly it was loose and it was off! I thought this would be a much more convoluted experience.

Getting that old cassette off

Finally here she is, naked and forlorn:

Shes almost naked

I have told her, things will improve (she is yet to be convinced). That new toys are on their way.. (She continued to pout) and that the new saddle will bed in and be comfortable soon. She turned her back...

To be continued.....

17 comments on “What to do when its icy outside”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Well done so far Mary. I don't think it will be too difficult to finish the job – looking forward to part 2 and seeing the photos. I reckon you'll enjoy Hettie all the more, adorned with your own handiwork. The hardest bit is knowing which parts to order when you are not doing a like-for-like replacement.

    One small point. You are going from a 9-speed 12/29 cassette to 10-speed 13/29. The hill climbing gear – using the 29-tooth sprocket – will be the same as before. Is that right? The difference will be that you have a slightly lower top gear, with one more tooth on the rear (13 instead of 12). To make hills easier you'd want a 12/32 cassette. I use 11/34 (9-speed).

  2. Mary wrote:


    Your RIGHT! THank you for this reply Patrick, I have just finished cancelling the cassette from ChainReaction. What a bother! I really MUST try to get my head around these bloomin ratios.

    I have looked at the 11/34. Campag dont do them with a compact... not sure what to do now. I dont suppose its possible to 'build your own' cassette is it? Can one purchase individual rings and then get the range one needs?

    I dont think I need 34, Im happy enough with all the hill work I do on a 29, but I would love to drop to a 12 or 11, and I cannot find this range on any cassette. Oh, cept SRAM the chain makers, they do one, but then I have looked at their chainsets and oh, ugly, sorry, I couldnt go for one of those... Black.. ugg, and big looking.

  3. Mary wrote:

    Are you on a triple chainset with that range Patrick?

    Campag dont seem to offer triples anymore, which is a problem, Im happy to go to one if I can get the range of gearing for hills. The usual online shops I use do not offer Campag triples anymore.

    Its a shame, cos the Campag stuff, its lovely to look at, and Hettie is really wanting some thing attractive in her chainset. Any recommendations?

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Yes, my chainsets are triple (Shimano XT). It is an MTB chainset in principle but they are also common on touring bikes designed to carry heavy loads. Yours is a road chainset – 2 chainrings and the ergo controls I'd assume are for double. I have no experience of Campag. If I were you I'd go on the CTC forums and ask for advice based on your intended type of cycling. Mick F knows about Campag so you could send him an email?

  5. Mary wrote:

    I have found that SRAM (having said it wasnt very attractive) does a compact with a ratio of 11-32 on the rear cassette! Why cant Campagnolo do something similar? It would save a lot of hassle.

    Hettie had a 12-29 9sp, I would love to have this very same thing again, but after months of scrolling the internet the best I can do is a 13-29 which as you said Patrick is a step backwards. Other than that, I have to have a triple chainset, and that means no, cos Campy no longer make triples.... Back to the drawing board .... again...

    Gawd its looking like a new groupset all for the want of a cassette. I am never going to wear it all out in one go ever again! 🙂

    Thinking I might have to leave Campy, that blooming Italian man keeps on deleting perfectly good set ups. (not sure how to break the possible news to Hettie though....)

    Mick I believe (could be wrong here) uses a 13-29 10sp. Its not what I need sadly.

  6. Patrick wrote:

    Mary, I'm not sure what's wrong with 13-29 if you were happy with the 12-29 you had before. The difference, apart from the closer ratios you'll have with 10-speed, is a slightly lower top gear. For example if you pedal at a cadence of 90 rpm you will do 27.18 mph instead of 29.44 mph, or to maintain a speed of 29.44 mph pedal at 97 rpm (I fed the values into our gear inch calculator). Doesn't seem like much of a problem to me.

    I don't know if you can mix a SRAM cassette with a Campag chain. Perhaps you can, in which case a 12/32 SRAM cassette will give you a higher low gear for hills. I don't think it matters what the cassette looks like – they are just a disposable component.

  7. Kern wrote:

    Hmmm, ver-ry interesting ... I had always assumed our Campag rear cassettes went to 30. This post got me to go downstairs and start counting teeth – 29 indeed!

    We have a 50-40-30 triples on the front. Mary got a 28 chainring for climbing but didn't like how the gears changed (i.e. torque difference) so we put the 30 back on.

    Good project, Mary, and I gather from the photos you didn't have to go too far to make Sunday dinner. An alternative project might have been building a new wheel – but according to Patrick that would necessitate a glass of wine rather than a cup of tea 🙂 .

  8. Mick F wrote:

    Hi Mary, well done with the machinations!

    I agree with Patrick, if you were happy with your bottom gear before, you'll be ok now. Campag's biggest sprocket is 29t and their rear mechs have a max size at 29t too though I reckon that they can take a little bigger. The problem you will have is trying to get a different cassette to fit your hub. There are versions of cassettes of different makes with Campag splines.

    If you want a better spread of ratios, you need a Triple. That is getting more difficult with Campag as like you say, they don't do them any more – but they are available if you search about. Trouble is, if you do get a Triple, you'd need a new bottom bracket as well.

    Best thing to do IMO is to stick with your PlanA, and fit your 13-29 10sp and take it from there. Lace up your new Ergos and try them. 10sp is so much better than 9sp ever was, I'm sure you'll like it.

    For the record, I'm on a 12-29 10sp cassette custom ratios from Miche, and a Campag Triple 30/42/53. This gives me a wide set of ratios to chose from including a nice high top gear for the long downhills. The 30/29 is low enough for me to climb any hill I've come across.

    Fit all your 10sp and set them up. The rear mech needs to be adjusted as per the instructions and when it's done, it should not need to be touched again – perhaps a tweak to tighten the cable if you fit a new one – they stretch a tiny bit after a few days if you've fit a new one.

    If you need any tips or advice about setting the rear up, just give me a shout.


  9. Keith Edwards wrote:

    Mary the best way to think of the chainring/cassette ratio is 2 wheels next to each other, with a piece of tape on the outer edge of each. If the front is larger and it is turned around once then the smaller on will turn a round more than once. Just like a small child walking with an adult. With their short legs they need to take more steps to cover the same distance.
    If you get a cassette with 11 teeth as the smallest cog not 13 then it will have to turn faster to keep up with the front. So this will increase the top speed.
    I just checked on Ribble and the largest one (longer legs to keep up with the front) is 29. So the only way to lower the gearing is to change the front smaller than 34. If you check Byercycles web shop you should be able to find out if it is possible to get a smaller chain ring.

  10. Mary wrote:

    Thanks all, this is very encouraging. It isnt as easy as it looks to get all the whistle and blowers talking to one another.

    I have a cycle pal in Spain, and he suggested these:


    Thats the make you suggested Mick isnt it?

    THese are the same ratio as Hettie had removed, ie 12-29, but they were a 9 speed, and these new ones are a 10 sp. Mick, will this 12-29 in 10sp require a triple at the front? Or can I get away wiht a 34/50 compact? (already got the new compact ready to fit) I was thinking that perhaps if I changed the tooth ratio on the front, I can use a different on the back, but the sums are making my head spin... so, Im sticking for now with what I understand and happen to have in the shed.

    The Enigma (Enid) is a 10 sp with 13/29 on the rear cog. My worries are that Hettie on her 12-29 runs so much nicer than the Enigma does, but Im not sure if this is because Hettie is ligher than the Enigma or that perhpas she is better set up?? Which was why I was a bit gutted to have to go with 13-29 – which I consider as my inferior winter ride.

    I am thinking perhaps if I get on wiht this lot with Hettie for the time being and then to change the Enigma to the SRAM Apex groupset (cos that has a HUGE range of gearing 11-32 on a compact, there will be NO hill on the island I would have to walk up)

    Wish it was the case of buy stuff and slap it on... Sadly this isnt the case. Which is why I expect a lot of folk would drop off at LBS and go home happy what its someone elses headache.

  11. Hilary wrote:

    Well done Mary – thats quite a big project you have undertaken there, I have not plucked up the courage to change my own cables yet, much less replace the whole lot.
    Narrower bars with a shallow drop should be a lot more comfortable. It is difficult to get low gears on a campag set up, as you say SRAM is the only double to give really low gears. I have a triple with campag ergos and cassette but SRAM chain and TA triple chainset which has shorter 165mm cranks. Chainrings 26,36,46 and 13-26 cassette.

  12. Mick F wrote:

    Yes, Miche cassette is the make.

    I only got Miche because they were the only make that I could get hold of who would do individual Campag compatible sprockets.

    I wanted specific cogs – and having lived in the era of Suntour Ultra where bike shops had a panel on the wall with all the ratios you could pick from just hanging there! Build your own block! anything you wanted would be there for you!

    I wanted – and I consider this perfect – was 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25, 29 and only a custom built cassette could do it in 10sp. Campag's nearest off the shelf offer was (only) 13-29 and you can't buy individual sprockets unless at a considerable price.

    Campag do a similar similar cassette to what I want now but as an 11sp: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 , 19, 21, 23, 26, 29

    To move to 11sp cassette needs new Ergos, new rear mech, new front mech and new chain as well and I cannot modify my Ergos to 11sp as the system is completely different. However, as I'm totally happy with what I have, I see no reason to go to 11sp.


  13. Mary wrote:

    LOL, Im hoping YOU TUBE is correct Hilary.. 🙂

    I learnt to knit this winter thanks to You TUbe, so Im hoping the videos are correct for the rest of this project too.... There is always the LBS if I fall flat on my face, but as the nice man there is expecting me to book my bike in... well, lets say I like a challenge, and I want to prove something both to myself.

    At least I still have one bike running.

    Oh, read some reviews about the Apex... dont think Ill bother with that. But Ihave found the home of Miche Mick and I reckon they have a new customer... Heck, they even sell chainrings – couldnt find any of those either, so had to plumb for new cranks...

  14. Mick F wrote:

    The problem with going away from a stock Campag cassette, is it's not "timed" correctly. My Miche setup doesn't change sweetly in mid-cassette.

    I can set up the indexing to the Nth degree, but because the chain "looks" for the ramps in the right place that are not there, it tends to need a little bit of an over-shift up the block at about 4/5/6 cogs. It drove me a bit mad, but TBH, I got used to it. After the click with the paddle, just move it a little bit further – without a click – and the chain shifts. Coming back down the block is less problematical.

    I did think there was something wrong with the Ergo or the rear mech, so I fitted the Campag Centaur 10sp 13-29 cassette I have as spare – and it worked perfectly! 🙂

    Campag state that all their kit should be a matched system, and although I reckon that's mainly hype and protectionism, there is some truth in it.

    Mary, what model of Ergos have you bought?

    I ask because I'm interested as there are all sorts of different Ergo mechanisms out there. Ultrashift, Quickshift, Powershift, Escape or just plain Ergos like my pre-2007 Chorus ones. Some of them are unrepairable, but I'm sure they work fine!

    Good luck with the build!

  15. Takano wrote:

    Hi Mary, fortunatly it looks like you have a good solution. I learnt a lot from this post (and without suffering). Thank you.

  16. Edward Gilder wrote:

    You might find that Highpath Engineering can help with custom cassettes although I find the info on their web site a little difficult to follow.

  17. Mick F wrote:

    Highpath won't do 10sp and they don't do a 29t.

    I telephoned them and asked.

    They won't do 10sp, though they can. They won't do them because they got tired of complaints about the timing and them not shifting sweetly enough.


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