Changing my Pacha

While convalescing and getting fat I’ve been buying things to make me feel better. And what does one buy when one wants to cheer oneself up? A new rear cassette, of course.

My new ‘pacha’ (Colombian Spanish for ‘cassette’, according to one of my cycling clients) is in the mail:

downloadI know what you’re saying. “Gerry, this new pacha looks just like your old pacha.” Well, count your dientes, amigo – this one has 11 on the small ring and 25 on the biggest (the one I have now is 12-27).  As I said back in March, I’d try out this new combination of gears and see how things went. Well, I have been doing this without actually buying the cluster (e.g. on Ventoux last month) and I’m finding that I don’t need the 27 unless things get stupidly steep (like Mt. Bouquet). None of the climbs in the Alps will be 20%, so I have growing confidence that I can survive with 25.

The question that hasn’t been answered yet is if I have enough power to make use of the 11 on a flats. But I don’t care. I’ve made my buy, my pacha is in the mail, and I feel good. It might go without saying, but Mt. Bouquet may not be on many of my training rides again this season!

14 thoughts on “Changing my Pacha

  1. Very useful discussion and decisions, Gerry. I am just going through the same thinking. At one point was considering standard but the suggestions to “think about how you will feel in day 5” and “to have a backup gear” convince me to go with a compact–definitely 34, may still consider a 51 IF I have to buy a new chainring to replace my 50 (which does have an issue). For the back, I believe I will be receiving a very nice SRAM red 11-26. But I will also bring an 11-28 that I can easily put on if I need it… Next topic is wheels: carbon or alu (breaking); tubular or clincher (rolling over). If I find time I’ll write a little blog entry…

    • I’d love to read that article. I don’t want to over-think it, and I am pretty sure either cluster will be just fine, but there could be benefits (e.g. on descents) to having a bigger gear to play with. I’ll do the same as you and take along my 12-27 because, as you probably rightly stated, it’s Day Five we might need to be concerned about.

  2. Hi Gerry, I couldn’t understand if you’ll have a 39, 36, or 34 as the small chain ring? In general, I found a 11-25 11sp campa no issue in HR 2011/20012 with a 36 in the front. If you only have a 39 small ring, then I’d suggest a 27 or 29 at the rear, but otherwise a 36x 25 should be alright for a tour in the alps.

    • Rich, I might not have mentioned it because my assumption is everyone is running a 34! Which isn’t true, obviously. So, it’d be 34×25, which is probably giving you a good chuckle right now.

  3. Hi Gerry, I tested myself on my last ride to see if I could make it up the 3km x 9-10% portion of my loop in the 26 tooth ring and it seemed to go ok. It could have been the hail encouraging me to pedal harder. I use a compact. I was actually thinking of going up to a 28 though. I’m thinking more of the cumulative effect of the HR. I’ve not had a mont ventoux like ride yet to gauge my progress so a bit in the dark on what’s best. Is it easy to change a cassette? Or does one have to change the chain and adjust dérailleur etc? I was quoted around 200 francs.

    • What do you have on the back now? 27? Actually, even a Ventoux climb or three probably can’t replicate the accumulative fatigue we’ll be feeling after a few days on HR. I’ll be doing a ‘training camp’ next month that should give me a better idea, since it’ll involve a stupid amount of climbing.

      It’s easy to change my cassette, but I have a Campy set-up. I’ve change Shimano, too, which I don’t remember being difficult at all. No adjustment just be necessary, but good question about the chain. I’m really not sure. Something to ask Google (or coach) about!

  4. Gerry – I rode the 17km, ITT Hill climb in the Tour de Slocan on the 3 day of the 4 day event with a compact Campy front (50/34) and 11/25 cassette and was never lower than my 23 and generally in my 21 and 19. The grade was as low as 5% in some sections and as high as 13%. That said, I still bringing my 12//27 with me to Haute Route.

    • I think that’s the current wisdom on the blog, i.e. come with something ‘aggressive’ and back it up with something ‘realistic’!

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