This past week has seen our riding year begin to coalesce around the annual D2D race. Miles have been racked up, diets have been followed and in the case of Dandini, ribs will hopefully have healed.
It says a lot about us that when we decide to race we choose the event that’s last in the season – nothing to race for – and has the flattest course on the circuit. Even so, don’t think we’re not taking things seriously.
My preparation has been mixed in the run in to the race. Plenty of early miles this year have settled me into a decent base fitness, but recent weeks have seen upheaval at home (my wife has returned to University, both kids now at school) and a huge workload professionally. All this has conspired to limit my riding. On top of that, I’ve had a bit of a feverish virus this past week which I think is now behind me.
But event preparation continues. My biggest concern has been my bike itself. Not so much which tyres to run or indeed which bike to take. There’s never been much doubt I’d take my Five since it is a surprisingly capable machine at covering the ground fast, so long as you don’t want the ultra lightweight of a race rig. What it does provide is a trustworthy companion when the trail turns to singletrack and that counts for a lot in my view. I do want to enjoy the race after all.
With that in mind, I’ve just crossed the final line (in my view) to being a proper home mechanic, by stripping my Hope Pro2 rear hub and replacing the hub and freehub bearings. After 3000 miles I just couldn’t take the increasingly noisy freewheel clatter and relentless creaks any longer.
The process wasn’t without trouble but 3000 miles of neglect (not one bit of fettling in that time) meant I only had myself to blame. Various efforts at getting off the freehub culminated in some sharp raps with the hammer and a screwdriver in DaveC’s garage, which ripped out the freehub, axle and the driveside hub bearing in one go. Seriously, don’t try that at home without careful consideration as you can truly knacker the soft alloy.
It turned out the hub bearings were perfect, but the freehub was completely devoid of grease – hence the freewheel clatter – and the bearings were badly worn. Having knocked out all the bearings it was time to clean everything in sight before replacing with new bearings. The part numbers are available on Hope’s website so it’s pretty simple to order cheap ones off eBay.
The whole process was accompanied by sensible application of grease and made considerably easier by Colin’s set of Hope drifters which pushed in the bearings very easily. I also found a couple of broken pawl springs so replaced those too.
Now it’s reassembled the hub is smoother than it probably was when new and the freewheel is now noticeably quiter and more thrummy. I can’t say for sure if the creaking is cured as it’s been pouring with rain all evening but should be able to tell very quickly if it’s worked. Previously the whole cassette move as the freehub rocked on it’s worn bearings.
If you run a Hope hub you really should look at servicing it. I take back what I’ve been saying about Hope hub noise, although that’s never going to go away completely, and have added to that a new-found respect for Hope’s technical products. On this showing (and bearing in mind spares are widely available for the whole Pro2 hub) I’d expect them to last for many, many more miles.
So D2D, bring it on (all 11.4 miles of it this year apparently). It might be damp but I can deal with that so long as I can just put in some mechanically smooth Zen miles in my own zone, enjoying the cat-and-mouse experience of reeling in more tired and less skilled riders.
We won’t be challenging for any wins, but a bit of fitness, a bit of singletrack competence and a lot of mental stubbornness will hopefully see all 21 of us that are attending take something from the event. Even if it’s just Trench Foot!