Sherlock Holmes and the mysterious clicking of the FSA K-Force Light crank

May 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Many many months ago, my bike developed a mysterious, notorious and extremely annoying clicking sound that seemed to come from the bottom bracket area. But only when I pedalled uphill in the seated position. Not on flat ground, and not while standing up. The clicking got louder and more annoying, to the point that I avoided long hills like the plague, which of course did not help my fitness (I’m not known as a flat TT specialist).

I tried everything to locate and eliminate the source of the disturbing noise: I swapped out wheels. I swapped out pedals and shoes. I swapped out saddles. I swapped out the seatpost. I padded the waterbottle cages with rubber, just in case. I brought the bike to 3 different shops for complete tune-ups and overhauls. I got new derailleurs. I uninstalled the cranks and inspected them, greased and put them back. I tightened every bolt to spec and then some. I uninstalled, greased the bottom bracket. I even bought a new bottom bracket (the bearings were worn out anyway). Putting so much grease on the bottom bracket and crank that I left a grease-trail on the pavement when I rode (OK, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but you get the idea) seemed to dampen the noise a bit for a short time, but it came back with a vengeance. I scoured the internet for advice and was ready to cast voodoo spells and chant incantations. All to no avail.

Given all other possible sources that I had eliminated by swapping out components, the noise had to come from the FSA K-Force Light crank and associated FSA bottom bracket. Even though I really like the crankset, I was on the brink of exchanging it for another, heavier crankset.

Then, finally, a couple of days ago, I found the culprit: the retaining nut in the self-extracting crank bolt assembly (see picture). I had tightened and more than generously greased the crank bolt and all relevant, but apparently nobody, myself included, thought about checking the retaining nut. It was not quite tight, which caused the clicking sound, but apparently only when the cranks were loaded in a very specific position, which only happened when I was climbing seated, and could not be reproduced by moving the cranks by hand or stepping on them in the shop. Mystery solved! Note the nut wasn’t really loose, that would have been very noticeable (by losing the crank), it just wasn’t torqued tight enough. I have since ridden a century and several longer climbs in peace and quiet!

FSA crank with retaining nut

FSA crank with retaining nut

If anybody else hears a mysterious noise coming from their FSA crank — check that retaining nut or it’ll drive you nuts!

Frohe Weihnachten, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Grannies, Freds, and LSD – A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles

November 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Cross-posting from my work blog at

Grannies, Freds, and LSD – A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles is the title of my 2nd talk at the upcoming 55th conference of the American Translators Association in Chicago. Information on my other talk on localization can be found here.


The bicycle market is a 6-billion-dollar industry in the US alone, and valued at over 50 billion dollars globally. This talk takes you on a whirlwind tour of all things bicycle, from low-end clunkers to high-end carbon fiber frames. Linguistically, you’ll learn what the jargon in the talk title really means (not what you think!), so that you can talk like a pro about the happenings in the peloton when you watch the next Tour the France, are able to translate the user manual for the newest electronic 22-speed gruppo, or localize the latest interactive GPS bicycling app.

ATA55 Bicycle Talk

You can download the slides here in PDF format.

Results and impressions for February 15, 2014 – Elvis lives, long live The King!

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer

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via Results and impressions for February 15, 2014 – Elvis lives, long live The King!.

Live from Beat the Clock — Elvis!!

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Elvis at Beat the Clock!!

Categories: Uncategorized

Finalized Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer Schedule for 2014

January 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Final Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer schedule for 2014!

The Beat

The finalized schedule for 2014 is as follows:

  • Feb 15
  • March 29
  • May 24
  • June 14

Apologies for any and all scheduling conflicts, but the calendar is so full this year in NorCal that we are bound to have a scheduling conflict with some other events.

Registration will be up within the next few days, watch this blog for updates. Thanks for your patience.

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“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.”

January 4, 2014 2 comments

— Blaise Pascal.

If you’re not dead yet, make a note of these important upcoming events in your calendar:

Early Bird Clinics and Training Race Series

The Early Bird Clinics are upon us and start tomorrow, January 5! Beginning and more experienced racers are taught everything from basic pack skills over cornering to sprinting. Even if you’re not the racing type but do the occasional group ride or century, try the clinic — everybody should know how to safely ride in a group. The series runs every Sunday,
Jan 5, 12, 19, 26, Feb 2, at Dumbarton Circle in Fremont.
For more info click here.

Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer

BTC is back again in 2014, albeit with a somewhat reduced schedule. The preliminary dates are:

  • February 8 (unfortunately overlapping with the Low Key Hillclimb Megamonster – our apologies, but the calendar is just so overly full this year)
  • March 1
  • March 29
  • May 24

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer time trial training series can be found on our website.

For sale – Thule hitch rack for 2 bikes

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m selling the following item:

Thule Helium 2 Bike Hitch Rack – fits 1 1/4″ and 2″ hitches

  • Rack fits 1 1/4″ and 2″ hitches — I lost the 2″ adapter, but that is available from Thule
  • Easy loading dual-arm design with narrow distance carries a wide range of bike frames — Note: does not work with frames with sloping top tubes (e.g. MTB frames for women)
  • Tilt-down design with Hitch Switch quick-release lever allows fast rear-vehicle access
  • Integrated locking cable secures bikes and stores conveniently in the rack’s support arms; includes lock to secure your rack to the receiver — I have both original keys and the removal keys
  • No Sway Cage anti-sway device prevents bike-to-bike contact
  • All accessories and manual included, except the 2″ adapter
  • One big scratch in the plastic on one of the grooves (see pic) because I attempted to transport a MTB with sloping top tube
  • Cost new: about $300. Asking $150 OBO

Click on the pictures for a closer view.

Contact me for further details. Located in Mountain View, CA.

Categories: Uncategorized

Top 3 stupid things people said to me after they nearly (or actually) ran me over on my bike

May 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Here’s a list of the top 3 things people really said to me after they nearly (or actually) ran me over while I was riding my bike:

  1. Sorry, I didn’t see you.

    … nearly 90% of drivers who come way too close [and certain bike riders who run stop signs at full speed, but who thankfully are in the minority].

    My standard reply: That doesn’t help me when I’m dead.

    Occasionally, when I’m in a particularly cheerful mood, I recommend a good optometrist as well.

    It is absolutely inconceivable to me how people can not see me in broad (but not blinding) daylight. I wear a bright orange/yellow Beat the Clock jersey, a white helmet and white very color-coordinated bike accessories (white tires!), never bike at dawn or sunset without a blinkie front and back, and never ever bike at night.

  2. The yield sign doesn’t apply here. I am in my car and you are only riding a bike, therefore I don’t have to yield to you.

    … The reply of a professor at a well-known ivy-league university with otherwise excellent education, after he nearly ran me over while I was biking in the bike lane on a main road and he was merging into the main road from a side-street with a yield sign.

    [Hint: The rules of the road, including stop and yield signs, apply to all road users, whether on 2 or 3 or 4 or more wheels, whether motorized or not.]

  3. And my personal “favorite”:

    I didn’t know that women could ride that fast.

    … A course marshal and fellow bike racer who let a huge truck onto the (supposedly closed!) course during a women’s criterium race. I nearly crashed into the aforementioned truck after rounding a corner solo off the front. Suffice it to say, my breakaway attempt ended unsuccessfully, because I had to break that my brake-pads smoked in order not to end up smashing head-first into the truck.

Beat the Clock at the Tour of California

May 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Newsflash — Beat the Clock is branching out and will be providing starters/timers for the public time trial that will take place before the pros zoom through on stage 6 of the Tour of California.

At this point we seem to have enough BTC volunteers, but you can register to ride here:

Below is some information from the organizers:

Registration for the Silicon Valley Time Trial Charity Challenge presented by Splunk, SunPower, and Suffolk Construction is now open.

The Time Trial charity ride will follow the same course as the professional ATOC cyclists, giving our 400 amateur riders an exclusive opportunity to ride the same 19.6 mile course that the professional riders will follow later in the day. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compare your time to the pro racers.

To keep the entry fees low to encourage the widest participation, the entry fee is the same as last year’s King of the Mountain ride at $50 per Open Category rider. This includes breakfast, lunch, and your racing bib.

Here are the event details at this time, and once you register, I’ll be providing you with additional information regarding the parking location.

9:00-10:00 a.m. Parking, bib pickup and continental breakfast. Our parking, bib pickup and breakfast is located at the corner of Santa Teresa Blvd and Bailey Avenue in San Jose.

10:00-10:30 a.m. Cyclists “stage” in groups at the Start Line, which will be located near the IBM Santa Teresa Research Facility at 555 Bailey Road. The riders will line up under signs according to their bib numbers. We will place company teams together. The CEOs/public officials will be the first group to start the ride.

10:30 a.m. Start: all groups,except CEOs, will proceed in “waves” of approximately 25 riders.

11:00 a.m. All riders have started and are on the course.

12:30 p.m. All riders have finished the course. The ride will end at the Santa Clara County Motorcycle Park located at 300 Metcalf Road. After finishing the course, riders will proceed into the Motorcycle Park to the Picnic Area for their lunch. Awards will also be held there later shortly after the ride finishes. All riders must be off the road by 12:30 p.m. when the road will be closed to everyone due to the start of the professional Amgen Tour race.

12:45 p.m. The ATOC race begins at the start line, and the ATOC Time Trial will continue until all riders have reached the finish at the Motorcycle Park. Our amateur riders will have a perfect view of the entire ATOC Time Trial, and they are welcome to stay the entire time until the Time Trial finishes at approximately 3-4 p.m.

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