It pains me to admit this, but I'm mechanically inept. Sure, I can do basic things, like changing tyres, tightening brakes or removing cranks, but anything more difficult than that is beyond me. So when it comes to mechanical advice, I really depend on others. Over time I've narrowed down my pool of advisers to four people: DC and Drew from the Revolution, Dan Shifter and Sean "The Man" Hurley (of no fixed internet address). So when three out of these four people all told me that it was time for a new chain and cassette, well, I knew I had to act.
It took me a couple of weeks, but eventually I hit up Hurley, asking him what parts I should purchase. Now, I've got SRAM Red on my bike, and I'm kinda a snob with that stuff, so I just gave him two options: more Red, or Dura-ace. His reply: a Record 10-speed chain and a Shimano 105 cassette.
Once he'd convinced me that the chain would work just fine (3.9, 3.9, that's my number...) I was sold on the Record, but the cassette took a bit more explaining. Like I said, I'm a snob. I've told others that 105 is the lowest Shimano they should stoop to, but really, before now, I wouldn't look at anything that wasn't Dura-ace. Hell, Casey has 105 on her bike - as if I want the same parts on my racing thoroughbred.
But the facts added up - for a 200 gram weight addition you get cogs that are made of steel, and therefore last a whole lot longer than those made of titanium. When I'm not sick I train and race through the winter - sometimes even when it's raining - and so a cassette that promises to last is vital. And 200 grams isn't much - I could simply go to the toilet before a race, and be at least 200 grams lighter immediately after doing so.
So I bit the bullet today. New chain and cassette, Record and 105. I got Drew to put it on for me. Sure, it's turning into a bitzer bike, with mismatched parts and accessories, but I'm starting to like that idea. A bike that's not too perfect, that has a bit of mongrel bred into it. That's not too heavy, but won't fall apart at the appearance of some road grime.
I'll let you know how it works out.