Greg Grossart

Personal Summary

Work hard, play harder

Integrity can only be measured by how we act when no one is looking.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 22:37-39)

Married to my best friend & fellow adventurer since 1997

Greg Grossart

 Subscribe to Posts        Main Blog Page

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vertebrae Ceramic Cable Housing

As a part of a recent update on my road bike, I installed a set of ceramic shift and brake lines from Vertebrae ( The housing is very flexible, allowing for tighter and shorter (lighter) cable runs. However, the primary advantage is that they are "compressionless". So instead of the cables first deforming the cable housing when you shift or brake, when using the Vertebrae housing, the movement on the shoft/brake lever is directly transmitted to the brake/derailleur. This translates into easier/lighter shifting and more powerful braking with better modulation. Here are some pictures of the installed lines:

My upgrade included SRAM Red/EE Brakes/Vertebrae brake lines (from the Shimano Dura-Ace 7800/Zero Gravity Brakes/Standard Shimano Housing combo I have been running the last 3 years). I have been testing the new setup since May and have put them through their paces on regular training rides and in the TN/NC mountains during the Cherohala Challenge.
So, while I can't explicitly isolate the impact of the brake lines directly (because I did the entire upgrade all at once), I can say that the new setup is a huge improvement. My braking on fast mountain decents was incredible and the shifting is flawless. Besides the fact that they just plain work, as an added bonus, I think they look really trick to boot! The Vertebrae brake lines certainly aren't cheap, but they should last forever and I would argue that having superior braking when it matters most is downright priceless.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Barefoot" Running

I have been toying around with the idea of barefoot running for quite some time now. I have always preferred using running shoes that were thin and low profile (like Nike Zoom for road running) and Birkenstock sandals when cruising around. My brother introduced me to Vibram five finger shoes ( several years ago. He ordered a pair for himself and seemed to like them, but since he would definitely not consider himself a runner, he couldn't really offer me much insight as to their usefulness in that regard.

Recently, I have come across several articles criticizing the running shoe industry and their creation of a "solution" (running shoes) for a problem that doesn't really exist( That got me perusing barefoot running on websites like and and thinking more and more about barefoot running. As a person who loves to experiment with fringe outdoor gear and isn't quite ready to run completely barefoot, I figured it was time to give it a try so I ordered a pair of Vibram fivefingers (the KSO model).

Well, they arrived today so I had to go and take them for a spin. Knowing I didn't want to try them on the road for the first outing, I went to a local trail system (Dunbar Cave State Park) and took them for a nice 3 mile trail run so that I would hopefully not overdo it. While it took me a couple of minutes to make sure I got my toes in each of the "fingers", they really weren't all that tricky to put on. Using the sizing guide on the website, I picked exactly the right size as the fit was snug but not too tight.

The first part of the trail was sort of rocky and I quickly identified a limitation to these shoes. While walking over rocks isn't really a problem, the impact of running over rocks was a bit uncomfortable as I definitely "felt" the rocks through the soles of the shoes (unlike when I wear my trusty Salomon XA Pros). On this section of the trail, I didn't feel like I was able to run my usual pace as I was trying to be careful so as to really watch where I was going and avoid stepping on any sharp rocks.

However, after I got through the initial rocky section of the loop, I got to a portion of the trail that was primarily hard packed dirt and tree roots. It was on this type of terrain that the shoes really shined. With the thin sole and free toes I felt very nimble and connected to the trail. I literally felt like I was flying along the trail. It was a really cool experience. After I finished my loop, I went back to run the smooth section again because it was really that fun.

So, I would deem my first "barefoot" run as very positive. No blisters, a couple of ouch moments on the rocks, a decent workout (considering it was only 3 miles), and a ton of fun. While at this point, I certainly can't imagine them ever replacing my Salomon XA Pros for an adventure race, I look forward to regularly incorporating them into my training. Hopefully they will improve my running and toughen my feet up in the process. But, even if they don't, I anticipate having a lot of running pleasure along the way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2009 3 State 3 Mountain

My third 3S3M is in the books and it was another tough but rewarding ride due to both the course and the crazy weather. After optimistically saying "it can't be worse than last year" several times on Friday night, we were met at the start with overcast skies. Literally a minute before the ride started, the drizzle began to fall and quickly turned into a torrential downpour for the first 30 miles. Although it was raining harder this year, at least the lightning wasn't striking the ground (which delayed last year's start by 30 minutes) and the air temperature was a bit warmer. Also on the plus side, the rain seems to keep people riding a bit more sensibly than they otherwise might. Fresh legs, dry roads, and event excitement can be a recipe for cyclists losing their minds and riding stupid.

It was easy to ignore the rain on the first big climb up Suck Creek Mountain. The energy output of the climb coupled with the thrill of biking past other riders really keeps you warm. Once over the top, the warmth quickly turned into chills as the heavy rain and speed of the descent made for low visibility and shivers. Although I was able to somewhat control my speed on the descent (bicycle brakes just don't work as well as usual under those conditions), I was mainly worried about being hit from behind by a faster descender. Part of the way down, I made a quick stop to turn on my "blinky" and I was off towards the bottom. Once the descent was over, I thought about how bad the other two descents would be in rain that heavy. After a quick stop at the first SAG to put my jacket on, Mike Garrison caught up and we pretty much stayed together the rest of the day.

After about 30 miles of riding, the rain let up for the most part and though the roads were still quite wet, we got to really enjoy the remainder of the ride. I think the adversity of the first part of the ride really helped to bring out camaraderie among the riders. While I and fellow IndyRootstockers Mike Garrison and Michael Sapper (who we picked up at the second SAG) spent most of the ride together, it was also fun riding and chatting with different groups of people along the way. After making it to the finish, we got to enjoy the post race pizza and beer (which we really felt like we earned!). Our crew stayed at the finish line ringing cowbells and cheering on the other finishers who endured the weather and full century ride.

The Chattanooga Bicycle Club and the city of Chattanooga really put on a first class event. The route is well planned and very fun/challenging. The SAGS are well spaced, well stocked, and run by great volunteers. And, the police control at nearly every intersection along the way is the best I have ever seen at a cycling event. I look forward to participating in this event again (and again) in the future.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

LBL Challenge

It was great having a big Indy Rootstock showing for the LBL Challenge this past weekend. A double team roadtrip always ends up as a fun time with friends. We were greeted with beautiful weather (except for paddling into the strong headwind for the last third of the paddle!), a great course courtesy of Jason and BonkHardRacing, and some seriously tough competition.

Our Indy Rootstock foursome made it a goal of pushing as hard and fast as we could from start to finish to see how we could do and I think we achieved that goal. It sure is strange how it can seem almost effortless going fast for the first part of the race while at the end of a race it can feel like a monumental effort to just hold it together and limp on home. It was fun leapfrogging along the course with some of the top teams in the country throughout the race. It just reinforces how you don't necessarily have to be the absolute fastest team to do well (though it certainly helps), you just have to keep moving and minimize the mistakes.

Lots of "good" memories from the race like fixing 6 flat tires, having a bike crank fall off and miraculously finding the crank bolt 300m back on the road in the dark, and hiking through the woods at night sans headlamps (for the most part) using just the light from the moon. Once the sleep deficit is rectified, the chafe heals, and the insatiable post-race hunger is satiated, it is time to start thinking about the next one!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Indy had the privilege of hosting the 2009 North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) this year. Michael and I went to the show and spent the morning viewing all of the bike art. As a true gear geek, having all of these niche builders in the same place was simply amazing. After attending the show, we volunteered with CIBA to work at the ticket sales tables. It was cool that so many IndyRootstockers were able to make it to the show (7 by my count!). It was also pretty fun to see the wide variety of bike enthusiatists from all around the country all enjoying the show.

It was also cool to get to meet Jon from Moots at the show. After being a Moots fan (and rider) for 5+ years, it was fun talking Moots tech with someone really in the know.

Greg on his Moots (Michael on his TN Huffy) Greg on his Half-Moots

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I like to Blog

I like to blog because it rhymes with clog. And I like to know, with wooden shoes and the like (not drains and such). Blog also rhymes with flog, but that isn't very nice. Maybe I don't really like to blog all that much.