Rest week is over and I was looking forward to tearing into Build 1 this week - a bucket full of high intensity work.
Whoops. That didn't work out quite as planned. Coach Bill G. gave me a pretty simple work out - 90 minutes of riding, stop every 5 minutes or two to do a stomp - first 4 seated accelerations in a big ring, then 4 standing, then 4 seated, with cooldown and warmup. Easy peasy, right?
Yeah, for most people they would be. The seated accelerations went fine, no probs, and I was pulling wattage in the 1200s... nice. Couldn't wait to crank it up in the standing stomps, then we'd see what this new PowerTap can do.
So I got to West Potomac Park, threw her in 53:13, stopped, held a trackstand for a second, and blasted off. I didn't go quite as hard as I was able - my standing sprinting form is a bit off, not having really done it since last September. But I still put in a credible effort, about 20 pedal strokes, brought me up to 32 or 33 MPH in about 15 seconds, then I slowed down. There was a *hell* of a lot of front derailer rub all of a sudden, but I didn't think anything of it.
A little while later, I was on Hains Point, and repeated the same routine. Only when I stomped (and pulled up with the back leg, I rock the good form always) the chain blew off the big ring and looped over my foot. "Hmmm... that's weird," I thought. "Must have hit the index on the front derailer, must have bumped the shift lever or something." So I maneuvered the chain back on, ignored the new pain in my knee, came to a stop a half minute later, and stomped hard with the opposite leg. "Greglelgleglsedfrtld...." Same result, the chain slewed off immediately.
And so it went. I tried it two or three more times, all with the same result. At that point I remembered Art M. had counseled me that I would probably have this exact problem until I shifted to some really solid chain rings - he has a very similar power curve to mine, at least at the short interval peaks, and basically turned his Dura Ace big ring into a cheap frisbee every time he did a stomp, also throwing the chain. He fixed it by switching to heavier, clunkier but apparently stiffer Ultegra chain rings.
I limped back to the office, worked, and limped through the homeward commute, noting some grinding noises emanating from the crank area, and trying not to lay down any serious wattage. The post mortem at Family Bikes indicated that the chainring - a rather flimsy bit of tin foil - had been bent. Likewise one of the spider arms on the crank was bent, and one of the chainring bolts was sheared vertically - from end to end, rather than through the middle. As Jonathan put it, "never seen one of them break that way..."
So I guess we'll try to get a warranty claim in on them. I'm hoping for a merchandise credit or something like that - no way am I sticking with the Race Face Cadence crank. Maybe they make good stuff for mountain bikes - in fact I am sure they do. But this crank is their attempt at a roadracing crank, and they sell it as such. Now I am a big dude and lay down some wattage - the pass that broke it had a peak power of 1510, 20 second power of 1220 - this is pretty high for a rec rider but pretty commonplace figures for a sprinting road racer. This crank should not have failed under this type of use. Their web site indicates that they have a lifetime warranty on this crank... we'll see if Race Face stands behind their product. I hope they do - but regardless, I will probably be going with something uglier, heavier, and stronger in the future.