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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Is this year a bad one to try randonneuring?

Old 05-11-21, 01:57 AM
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surak
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Is this year a bad one to try randonneuring?

I've done solo and group ride/mass event long distance rides, but don't know anyone who rides ACP/RUSA events. Is this a bad year to try it due to the way they might be run differently during the pandemic?

Also, what are some key differences between shorter single-day randonneuring and general road riding? I've ridden some RUSA routes that I've found on RWGPS. At least near Seattle, they're quite similar to popular routes that other groups and solo riders would also do, so I'm wondering if there's anything else to it other than having official checkpoints.
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Old 05-11-21, 04:43 AM
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The only difference that I'm seeing in my area (Illinois/Wisconsin) is more flexibility on the checkpoints. Instead of needing to get a card signed or get a receipt (necessitating interacting with staff at convenience stores), a timestamped photo is often accepted. Also, electronic waivers instead of signing paperwork in person the morning of the ride.

I did my first brevet in 2017. Previously I had done many organized group rides. Biggest difference for me was time limits. I'm on the slower end of the spectrum so have been in the position due to flats, horrid headwinds, etc. of having to really push to make a time cutoff. I find that stressful. Acquaintances that are much faster talk about stopping and having lunch/dinner at restaurants. That has never been an option for me.

ETA: I did one brevet in 2000 in Tennessee just before everything shutdown. It ended up being a ride of one since everyone else backed out. The control point at the turnaround (a distillery) was closed due to the pandemic so the RBA just had me take a timestamped picture to prove I really had done the whole route.

I haven't decided if I will do any brevets this year. I need to build my mileage back up. I did ride 100 miles 2 weeks ago and was wiped out. Quite a change from 2019 when I did over 5000K worth of brevets and permanents.

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Old 05-11-21, 06:23 AM
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Seattle?

Get fenders, a dynamo, good rain gear, and learn to drink beer.

I had typed out a really long and not snarky response but somehow it did not post.

Basically, the main different is self sufficiency. Controls are easy to learn.

You would do well just going up to some experienced Randos like Mark Thomas out there and asking for advice.

It seems how covid is handled varies. There are also regional differences to how people handle covid, distancing, masks, etc. I was recently hiking in Georgia, NC, and Tennessee. Nobody wore masks on trail and pretty rare off trail. People in NJ wear them riding in a car solo. On brevets in my state, the starts are now flexible and staggered. To me, this is not randonneuring. It is more like doing a solo time trial because the talking while riding is gone. I understand this is different in other states. However, as a new randonneur there are a lot of things to learn and I would start randonneuring but just expect it to get better in time. I am vaccinated, so, I would ride with others but they may feel differently. A large part of randonneuring is the social interaction even if it is just eating a bag of little Debbies on the pavement chatting at a control
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Old 05-11-21, 07:33 AM
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I'd say it's never a bad time to try it, but things are definitely going to be less social than in non-pandemic times. So if you try it and it's too lonely for you, give it another try post-pandemic.

Differences I find between general road riding and randonneuring (on the shorter events):

1. The vibe. Randonneurs are competing against the time limits (or their own PRs/goals for those fast enough that the time limits are almost never in play), but often are just aiming to have a good ride and finish; many road rides can get really "race-y" even among people who aren't remotely near the front. And as someone who isn't speedy, I've had people be downright condescending, insulting, and just generally rude to me on "roadie" events. (Note: I'm not talking about being rude if I was dragging down a no-drop ride or something, that would be appropriate to say something, I mean on things like club centuries where everyone goes their own pace, where I was well within the cutoff but definitely on the slower end.)

2. Self-sufficiency. Even in non-pandemic times; there isn't a rest stop with a huge spread every time you turn around like on a big club/charity century. Supported overnight stops, and sometimes support if the route goes somewhere there aren't any gas stations, but usually it's a list of businesses and a wave goodbye at the start.

3. Route design. Due to needing to take a straight-ish shot between controls, the routes meander a lot less. This may be more apparent in places with more densely packed roads where you can easily build a century route that never gets more than 25 miles from the start and slowly serpentines its way around a loop without feeling like it's doubling back too much, whereas a 200k would need to head much further out or have a million controls. Still generally the same roads because good road-riding roads are good road-riding roads, just more direct.
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Old 05-11-21, 09:28 AM
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Sarah brings good point. I thnik racey roadies can be pretty snooty about equipment, I am not sure why. Just my opinion. You will see all manner of bikes or trikes or velos or tandems or recumbents or heavens forbid, fixies on a brevet and nobody judges from my experience. Whether you sport 36 hole aluminum rims or the latest dimpled Zippy carbon wheels, nobody will even notice. The focus is more on the ride and the experience. An apt comparison might be long distance hiking versus a 10K runner.

I ride a recumbent nowadays. At a cafe break on a training ride, one roadie was looking at my recumbent asking a few questions and his buddy says, "What is wrong with you, why aren't you on a real bike??" The first rider was still asking questions and the other one blurts, I like your jersey. Where can I buy it. I said, you can't. You have to win it. He did not get it.....the first guy then says, "see, he IS a real cyclist" and the other rolls his eyes bigtime. Randos might geek out over your shiny brass bell but you won't find someone criticising over gear too often if ever.

Another obvious difference to general riding is distance. Randonneurs do 200k, 300k, 400km, 600km, or 1200km with a maximum overall time of 13.5 hrs, 20 hrs, 27 hrs, 40 hrs, and 90 hrs, generally IIRC. Most sleep once on a 600k. 400k is generally done straight thru. This is about 250 miles and is a very common distance. General racing riders would very rarely do a ride this long. Some Randos like to stop and have a nice lunch and nice dinner on a 600k. They will tend to ride together. Others like to get to the sleeping spot as early as possible to get as much sleep as possible, I know that is my way usually. I don't ride very fast or hard, I just keep stops to the bare minimum. This is like money in the bank or more properly, sleep that you can take. Almost everyone sleeps once or twice on a 1200k. I slept a ton on my last two 1200K grand randonnees. I did not sleep at all on one. Where and when to sleep is so variable that I think staying with friends on such a long 1200k is very hard.

I was feeling weak on a 600k in DC towards the end of the first day. Three strong well known randonneurs pulled up. I knew them but they did not know me other than just a fellow Rando. Obvious, I was suffering. Did they just pass me? No. "Get on our wheels". One young lady told me chicken jokes for like 2 hours. They never made me take a pull. Not once. I eventually recovered after a dinner rest at Mom and Pop sandwish shop. Is that unusual? On a New England 600K in nasty, pouring rain I was cold. One of the fastest Randos ever (Brad) pulls up and would not let me leave his wheel. He hauled my carcass from the middle of Massachusetts to the finish. My bike broke on a 300k qualifier for PBP. I was the lead rider by far. Every single and I mean every single rider either stopped to help or offered. There is a fellow in Florida that I have done several fast brevets with. We will often ride pretty slow for an hour chatting maybe letting food digest and one might say, "time to ride again?" and we will pick up the pace taking turns pulling. In my first PBP, I got dropped in the hills leading into Mortagne. I caught. There was an older Frenchman who came back and kept telling me in French to breath and increase my pedaling suppleless. He was the old school commander (one water bottle and one tubular strapped to seat with a Binda Extra) and looked after the young american. These types of differences are not so obvious but there is a world of difference.
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Old 05-11-21, 10:26 AM
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If your goal is to see if you can ride 200k and maybe longer routes within the time limit, there is no reason to not try it this year. If you are looking for mileage credit, you will have to assess that yourself, as that may be a different issue.

I have only done a few brevets, and I am a low wattage rider so the vast majority of the group had passed me by on the ones that I rode. Thus, most of the time I was riding alone, not with others. But, I expected that, I have done solo bike touring so riding alone is something that I am quite used to. I did my first brevet at age 65, so I expected to be a laggard, my expectations were met.

I enjoyed meeting and talking to others before and after the rides, that is something that is not happening at this time but it is impossible to say if that will change later this year. Now that vaccines are readily available and positivity rates are dropping, we will see how fast we get back to a semi-normal. In my county, 50 percent have completed the vaccination series, but my county is ahead of most others.

You will only find out if you try it. Pick one that is on a day with a favorable wind forecast, and plan out your nutrition in advance so you do not run out of fuel on the ride. There have been a few times I also needed some salty food for electrolytes, I now carry a couple ounces of salty snack food in my handlebar bag besides the standard calorie fare.

If you are in an area with a reputation for poor cell coverage and if you are concerned you may need to call for help, you can check your cell coverage in advance if you choose to have a plan B if you are concerned you may need it. I did not have a plan B on my first brevet, my only concern was whether I could make the time limit, and yes I did.
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Old 05-11-21, 04:28 PM
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It's not a bad time to start riding brevets, just the rules are a bit different than they were before covid. I managed to get a full series in last year (200,300,400,600) all ACP. Hopefully this summer will allow us to have official rides again. You can buy a medal if you finish an offical ACP brevet, and they can be used as qualifiers for the longer grand brevets and eventually PBP if that's something that interests you.

On brevets around here, they can be long solo rides since our numbers are sometimes very small. My first 400k only had 3 starters and we all rode different paces so I never saw the others again. My first 600k was similar but we kept meeting up at the controls. I would imagine Seattle has a lot more riders coming out for their rides in normal times. Some of my favourite brevet memories were the rides I did with a few others were we could work as a group and stop for sit-down meals. PBP was totally worth doing and I hope to go back... literally the highlight of the 2010s for me, lol.

Also I'd say if you like doing centuries then you'd probably enjoy 200k brevets at a minimum, and from there a 300k isn't really all that much more.
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Old 05-11-21, 07:51 PM
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You are might be a little late to the party, depending on your current fitness.
See the SIR website: https://www.seattlerando.org/
You'll need to be both an RUSA and SIR member to ride brevets. You'll notice that SIR starts its season, as it seems to one unused to randonneuring, absurdly early considering the local weather.
The brevet calendar is here: https://www.seattlerando.org/content...club_id=928629
There's also a Winter Training Series, which is really a good idea to ride next year: Those rides start the first Saturday in January and every succeeding Saturday for 9 weeks.
WTS routes for 2020 are here: https://ridewithgps.com/organization...?tag_names=WTS
You could do those routes whenever..
One should bear in mind that on that really rainy PBP several years ago, all SIR riders who entered also finished. The idea is to get everyone fit enough to do the big summer rides and to do that, we have to start early in the year.

I found brevet riding to be very interesting. I think that's the big difference between randoneurring and general road riding.
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Old 05-11-21, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
I've done solo and group ride/mass event long distance rides, but don't know anyone who rides ACP/RUSA events. Is this a bad year to try it due to the way they might be run differently during the pandemic?

Also, what are some key differences between shorter single-day randonneuring and general road riding? I've ridden some RUSA routes that I've found on RWGPS. At least near Seattle, they're quite similar to popular routes that other groups and solo riders would also do, so I'm wondering if there's anything else to it other than having official checkpoints.
1. Single-day RUSA events typically come in three varieties: 200k (125 miles), 300k (186 miles), and 400k (250 miles). All have “official checkpoints” as you say. And I'm not aware of other long single-day group rides that have such checkpoints. Another key difference is probably the length of such rides. One might actually find a non-RUSA cycling event that will last 125 miles. But I serious doubt a longer ride than that can be found. RUSA events claim to be unsupported. And to some degree they are. But non-RUSA cycling events that take up a whole day typically are highly supported by the event organizer(s). Yet another difference between RUSA and non-RUSA cycling events is RUSA requires a membership fee and an entry fee to enter. Non-RUSA events typically only require an entry fee.

2. Whether 2021 is a bad year to become a RUSA member and tackle a ride lasting between 125 miles and 250 miles probably depends on why you want to participate in a RUSA event. Anybody is free to design a cycling route that lasts between 125 and 250 miles, ride it, and have a story to tell afterwards. As you say in your question, you've looked at brevet routes that RUSA uses and you don't see any difference between them and routes that non-RUSA riders have devised. I suspect you want to join RUSA so you can meet some new cyclists and increase your social circle. Socializing on the bike in 2021 is limited due to Covid-19. So you won't be meeting nearly as many people at a RUSA event in 2021 as you would have in let's say 2018 or 2019.
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Old 05-11-21, 09:31 PM
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With SIR this year, starts are not the typical mass starts. You leave anytime from start time to an hour later, and write down your own start time. At least that's how they ran the 300k. It was super weird to sitting at Starbucks at 6:05AM, chilling out with our coffee and sandwiches, in no particular rush to wolf our food down and start. I think we departed at a leisurely 6:20 on a planned 6:00am start. That does lead to less socialization and more riding alone or in small groups. Controls are all info controls, so how much you go into stores/restaurants is wholly dependent on your desires/needs. On the 300, they had a staffed control at the halfway with sandwiches, snacks, and water. They had cold pizza and beverages at the finish.

I rode the 300k with a buddy. We saw other randos at stops etc, interacted a bit outside a Safeway, but otherwise it was the two of us on a solo ride.

There will be a summer SR series, as well as a June 100k populaire.

I think it's fine to start rando this year, but it's atypical in that there will be limited social interaction. I suppose you're a bit more self sufficient than normal, as well. Sign up for the June pop, see what it's like.
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Old 05-12-21, 06:37 AM
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In terms of self sufficiency, make sure your bike is in tip top condition. You will be surprised how far from "home" that a brevet will take you. In the NE, you might touch 3 or 4 different states on the same ride.

I have honestly never broken a cable on a bike ride. I replace them once or twice per year depending on miles, etc. I do not change the housing that often. I also use the good ones. I do carry spares (for others....LOL). If rainy, you definitely want to bring some lube for the chain on longer brevets but I suppose OP being from Seattle has that nailed. On general road rides, one does not think about this sort of thing. Another alternative is just enter brevets with randynerdy, he can overhaul Shimano, Campy, and probably even French bottom brackets on the road and he might even have a tig welder in there somewhere.
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Old 05-14-21, 07:14 PM
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My understanding is the reason Shimano shifters break cables is the limit screws are too tight.

But you would think other brands would break for the same reason and it's only Shimano
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Old 05-21-21, 11:47 AM
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Anytime is a good time to start riding in RUSA events. With our group in Detroit, you must register with RUSA first. For this year, most of us start together, and we split into groups within the first few miles. For something like a 200k ride, since the only limit we have is the 13.5 hour limit, I usually find a good riding partner around my level and ride with that person. Sometimes I'll try to hurry and ride under 9.5 hours, sometimes I'll take my time all the way to nearly 11-11.5 hours. With the Covid rules our RBA set for us, we take pics of ourselves at checkpoints and we can now submit our Strava/RWGPS data as proof.
The good thing is the rides are outside, so no need to mask up. We only mask up at stops, usually indoors at our checkpoints.

Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Sarah brings good point. I thnik racey roadies can be pretty snooty about equipment, I am not sure why. Just my opinion. You will see all manner of bikes or trikes or velos or tandems or recumbents or heavens forbid, fixies on a brevet and nobody judges from my experience. Whether you sport 36 hole aluminum rims or the latest dimpled Zippy carbon wheels, nobody will even notice. The focus is more on the ride and the experience.
This is one of the parts I love. Seeing bikes from all over the spectrum. New gravel bikes, 650B conversions, old 27" racers, new aero carbon fiber bikes, and all the cool accessories. Like Ghostrider said, no one judges. You're there to ride, not race. And all of us have such a great time, Sometimes, there's shared misery (cold winds, rain). But overall, you can develop a huge sense of trust riding with the other regulars. I'm glad I started riding with my group, and look forward to as long as I am able.

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Old 05-24-21, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
My understanding is the reason Shimano shifters break cables is the limit screws are too tight.

But you would think other brands would break for the same reason and it's only Shimano
It's not really a problem as long as you make it part of your maintenance schedule and replace the cable before it breaks, which tends to be fairly predictable by distance.

I replace my rear derailleur cable about once a year (every 6,000-7,000 km) and that's kind of on the limit. Beyond that you run a risk of them breaking. It always tends to happen in the same place, near the end inside the brifters. I think it has to do with the angle at the ratchet. Before it completely breaks, individual strands will separate, which cause friction leading to delayed shifts. Once you notice reluctant shifting it's high time to get a new cable installed.
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Old 05-24-21, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by joewein View Post
It's not really a problem as long as you make it part of your maintenance schedule and replace the cable before it breaks, which tends to be fairly predictable by distance.
Sure, you can replace it proactively, but it happens to some people quite early in the expected lifetime of a cable. I would check the limit adjustment either way
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Old 05-25-21, 08:46 AM
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I have found the breaking of shift cables an interesting topic. Why have I never broken one?

What I have learned is Shimano shifters put the shift cable into a very tight radius within the shifter. This causes more stress and fatigue on the cable.

I own 8 speed STI Dura Ace and Ultegra and 7800 Dura Ace 10 speed but don't use them much anymore. I went to the dark side (SRAM Red 11 speed and then e-Tap). I always attributed my good fortune with no breakage to replacing the cable periodically (as a preventative). Now that I have e-Tap, my shift count is recorded on the Garmin and I have learned that I shift much less frequently compared to other cyclists. I also read that 2,500-3,000 miles is about how long the right shifter cable lasts on many Shimano equipped rider's bikes or at least that is what I read. Assuming I shift 1/3 the frequency of most riders, I might have been able to get 7,500-9,000 miles out of a shifter cable. I used to just remove the inner cable, slide in a new cable into the same housing. It isn't a housing problem and I was not going to buy a $55 cable set to replace a $8-10 cable. A couple times per year and I never had one even frayed. I did use coated cables (Shimano, mid-tier Jagwire, no-name on Amazon) but it is doubtful that matters a great deal in terms of the strands breaking.

I guess if your RD cable broke and could not repair in the field, you'd have to convert to a single gear maybe wedging something into the rear derailleur to get it positioned somewhere in the middle of the cassette.
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Old 05-25-21, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
...
I guess if your RD cable broke and could not repair in the field, you'd have to convert to a single gear maybe wedging something into the rear derailleur to get it positioned somewhere in the middle of the cassette.
A couple months ago I rode home with a three speed bike, my triple crank still worked and gave me three useable gears. I adjusted a limit screw to move my rear derailleur closer to the middle of the cassette, so my gearing was not too absurdly high.

I do not pro-actively change cables on a schedule. In a typical year I ride four or five of my bikes, I do not keep records of mileage on them so I do not know how many miles on any individual bike.

The cable I snapped two months ago was on a rear bar end shifter on a bike I built up four years ago, so the cable was four years old. I was sure that I had bought stainless cables, but the cable I snapped looks like it was galvanized and corroded. I think hand sweat caused corrosion on the cable at the bar end shifter. If you think the bar end shifter has more corrosion than you would expect in four years, I used that shifter for over a decade on a different bike before putting it on the new build four years ago.





That was the first cable I snapped in at least a decade and a half. But I have replaced a few cables in the past when I saw a few strands had broken, so some were replaced before snapping.

In the near future I need to replace the front derailleur cable on one of my bikes, it looks like a strand or two has broken at the front derailleur.
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Old 05-25-21, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
That was the first cable I snapped in at least a decade and a half. But I have replaced a few cables in the past when I saw a few strands had broken, so some were replaced before snapping.

In the near future I need to replace the front derailleur cable on one of my bikes, it looks like a strand or two has broken at the front derailleur.
Can't blame it being hidden inside a brifter on that one!

The two times I can recall breaking derailleur cables I was on trips with my travel bikes and discovered during setup -- so thankfully never stranded on the side of the road and just had to get to a bike shop.

Last edited by anotherbrian; 05-25-21 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 05-26-21, 07:07 AM
  #19  
joewein
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I have found the breaking of shift cables an interesting topic. Why have I never broken one?

What I have learned is Shimano shifters put the shift cable into a very tight radius within the shifter. This causes more stress and fatigue on the cable.
That! I think before Shimano moved the shift cables under the bar tape to make them more aero, things used to be better (Tiagra 4600, 105 5500, etc) and if you're using downtube or bar end shifters, they probably still are. But modern brifters (11 or 10 speed) now force the cable into a 90 degree bend where there didn't used to be one when the cable entry was still perpendicular to the bar. Tight bends don't really work so well for cables wound from multiple strands as it forces some of these strands to bend more than others and take all the stress. Eventually they break from metal fatigue.

It happened to me once on a triple and I could still ride home with three gears. Since I switched to 11s doubles I have also switched cables frequently enough that they never broke completely, though they started to frazzle after about 6,000-8,000 km (4,000-5,000 mi) of riding and then it becomes a gamble when it will stop working.

Once it got so bad I could no longer use my top 4 gears! When we swapped that cable almost all the strands of the cable had separated. It's the friction of the broken strands that prevents the cable from sliding back against the RD spring pull when you upshift and the ratchet unwinds. Downshifts still work, until the last strand snaps.

If you swap this $5 part soon enough (on a fixed schedule) you should never really have to worry about it.
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Old 05-26-21, 07:54 PM
  #20  
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I've heard that the first generation of under-the-tape brifters were the worst for breaking cables. I put 30,000km on 6703 brifters without snapping a cable, there are two ways to route the shifting cable, if the shifter cable is running on the front of the bar with the brake cable, it's a much sharper bend... my bike came like this, so changed them to run on the backside and never had any problems. I think all the 11 speed (and 4700) shifters are designed to minimize this issue but who knows... I don't think my limits screws are ever too tight either.
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