Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Singlespeed Kinda Day

The temperature went down to the twenties and stayed there for one of the first times this Winter last night.   The ground was frozen solid.  Perfect day for a singlespeed hammerfest!
Rolled Blü.2 out the driveway and as I merged onto the road I gave the brakes a little pull...and the rear brake lever went to the bar.
As I was all set to ride, in no mood to bleed the brakes, and Mary Jane was all set to go, I guess gears wouldn't be all that bad today. 
Once I crossed the levee, where all the rain we got the other night hadn't completely frozen I was reminded why singlespeeds are so awesome.  I tried to shift to a bigger gear, and nothing happened.
Mary Jane has exposed cables which freeze up with frozen mud leaving you in a gear you don't want to be in.
That's one of the paradoxes of the Swift; the Phil Wood ebb makes it an awesome singlespeed, but it also has mounts to cleanly run full cable housings.
It seems a waste to not utilize the ebb by making Blü.2 a 1x8, but I hate the half-assed look of zip-tying housings to a frame in a way that it wasn't designed like I would have to in running full cable-housings on Mary Jane.
What's a guy to do?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It was the right thing to do.
The trails would be muddy from all the rain last night, and the roads were still damp.
With the wind riding fixed might not have been the smartest thing, but the Fun Machine has fenders, and Fast Eddy had me all revved up about the Golden Years of bikes and the like.
It was just windy and drizzly enough to let let me pretend I was some sort of "Hardman", yet warm enough to remind me I wasn't (42 °F).
I was  on the bike path about 40 miles into it at lunch time.  The bike path right behind the commercial district of Simsbury.  You know where the pizza joints and bakeries are.
Should have stopped, but couldn't decide if I wanted greasy Greek pizza (even if it was cut in squares), or apple pie with espresso.  I could get both, but that would have made the remainder of my ride rather, ah, uncomfortable.
As I got back to town I realized it would be about 61 miles total.  That's just too close to a metric not to ride a metric, so I zigged instead of zagging and ended up with 63.
Now where can I get some pie?
nature break at McLean Game Refuge

 the bike path if perfect for Winter miles

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Verb

har·mo·nize (härm-nz)
v. har·mo·nized, har·mo·niz·ing, har·mo·niz·es
1. To bring or come into agreement or harmony. See Synonyms at agree.
2. Music To provide harmony for (a melody).
1. To be in agreement; be harmonious.
2. Music To sing or play in harmony.
harmo·ni·zation (-n-zshn) n.
3. To ride a technical section repeatedly until you clean it

"I'll ride this rock garden until I harmonize it".

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

I don't know if it's Santa riding a bike or the eurotrash electronic backbeat but I'm infected!
Where's my cowbell?!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Commute of the year

Today was probably the last commute by bicycle to work this year.  Savings on gas grand total of $476.53.  Sadly I do not have an extra $476.53 burning a hole in my pocket now.
I decided to just keep track of the savings in gas mostly for the of ease of calculation.  At first I thought maybe the extra food I ate on commute days would compensate for the other auto-related expenses I wasn't counting.  But it soon became obvious that I eat just as much on non-commute days.

Now if I did have an extra $476.53 what would I buy?
Used Powertap wheel?

Stan's Alpha 340 rims?

75 loaves of bread

60 jars of Nutella?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Congratulations James!!!!

"James Harmon,  you just won the New England Regional Cyclocross Championships Singlespeed class what are you going to do now, go to Disneyland?"

"No, I'm going to crush you and Neal on a TdT!"

James is my first "client" as a coach.
More of a guinea pig if you will.
Right now we are really looking forward to 2012 and James' mountain bike ambitions.  But all that is sort of on hold as he finishes up his cross season.  A cross season that has seen him get stronger and stronger each week.
We're aiming to keep that momentum rolling another 4 weeks through Worlds (then I'm going to hide his bikes for a little while).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Laying in bed it seemed awfully windy to commute in this morning, doesn't sound as bad right now...

I was thinking...
I've always wanted to have some sort of Happy Funtime Mountain Bike sort of Competition.  I think I figure out what I want to do.
Most people have Boxing Day off.  Even my tool of a boss isn't requiring me to work.
So I was thinking I would go to the Res, and hide a bunch of tokens, probably poker chips along my Kitchen Sink Loop.  Everyone would meet at the lot, put $5 into a hat, and go search for tokens.  We would then meet back at McLadden's at 1:00 PM, where the person with the most tokens would win the pot*.  If there is a tie there will be a written exam tie breaker.  If that's a tie, arm wrestle for it.


*Winner buys the first round

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Respect My A-Thor-A-Tay!

I passed the tests (that includes a criminal background check; they never saw the moustache), and USAC cashed the check so I'm an "official" USAC certified coach.
Now if you listen to me babble about the superiorities of  Snickers over a Milky Way I can charge you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I think it's ironic on the day that I'm so psyched about going all dual beam up front that a woman pulls up to me at a stop light and tells me she almost hit me and I need to be more visible.
I say "thank you", and she says "I'm not trying to be mean I just had a hard time seeing you".
Again I thank her, and when the light changes we head our separate ways.

My first thought is "I have two red taillights, and two headlights and you have a hard time seeing me?"  But I soon except the reality that if I'm hard to see by anyone (no matter what I think) I could be dead.
I hate the Dead.

So as I ride along I ponder how am I hard to see?  No I don't have any reflective tape on my bike, and I should probably (definitely) change that, but the Planet Bike Blinky 7 is a freakin' beacon.  Rudolph ain't got nothin' on that bad boy...when the batteries aren't dead or dying.

I've been running it in "constant on mode" because of some internet wisdom that it is more visible that way.  I guess that wears those little AAAs out right quick.  I believe I picked up this light in August after my old tail light was jettisoned on some of Crazytown's finest roads.

Guess I'll have to run it all blinky or be more vigilant about changing the batteries every 3 months.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sandbagging douche-baggery

Never have I felt like more of a sandbagging douche bag than I did today.

I had no intentions of racing cross this season, so when the Harmonizer coyly suggested we race DAS Beer Cross, and then hit up Case Mountain for some mtb fun I found myself at something of a loss at my acceptance of the idea.

To keep things simple I figured I'd just race it on Blü.2; that way I'd just need to do a quick cog change and I'd be ready for Case.

I had zero expectations; the race was just something to do before a mountain bike ride.
4 people had pre-registered for the singlespeed race.  I figured since it cost less to sign up at the race, than on bikereg there would be a bigger turn out.


To make it even worse one of the people who pre-registered decided he had enough and was skipping the race.
On the line the organizer asked if we just wanted to do laps.  He suggested 4.  Someone suggested 3.  He looked at me and asked "what, do you want to do more?"
Well, yeah, 4 laps seems kind of short.
He then proclaimed "This guy probably wants to do 8" (that would be better).
We settled on 5.

By the first sand pit I knew I was in the wrong race.

The course was really fun and mountain bike-y.
Being on a mountain bike was a huge advantage on this particular course.  The sand pit was easily rideable, the singletrack was, well, singletrack, so of course the mtb was awesome.  There were two barriers; one I had to run, the other was an easy bunny hop.  The final obstacle was a hill run up in the woods.  Best way to tackle it was get up a head of speed, blast up it as high as momentum would carry you, jump off and run the remainder.

I finished the race in about 29 minutes (it was listed as a 45 minute race) and as the leaders of the "A" race begun to lap me on my last lap I was making a point to stay out of the way.

So on the finish line when the promoter gave me my prizes, did I graciously hand them to the guy who came in second?
Are you freakin' nuts?!
If there is one way to pacify Mrs. CB2 to the challenges of being married to a bike racer it's to bring her home presents.  Presents such as beer.

James got 2nd in the "A" race and also brang home a sixer (he got 2nd in Manchester on Saturday too; Yay James!).

Special shout out to the King for having the tool I forgot to pack to change my cog!
Case would have sucked with a 60" gear.

Case was fun too, although I did get us a little lost.
A great day on bikes!

Friday, December 9, 2011

This is going to SUCK!

Some how James convinced me to race DAS Beer Cross on Sunday.
I thought I said I wasn't racing cross this year?
I don't drink beer and have been doing long slow rides hand in hand with handsome boys from the Farmington Valley.

Fook me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Birthday Month

I find a mere day far too short for celebrating all that is me and my circling of the Sun another revolution, so I've taken to celebrating a Birthday Month.

Being so close to the beginning of the month it is good to kick it off with a bang and then bathe in the warm after glow until we celebrate some Jewish guy's birthday near the end of the month.

Neal captured me riding a geriatric width "skinny"

 As enamoured as I am with my Waltworks fork, I had to ride Blü.2; riding gears would seem just so wrong on my birthday.

Keep it up and you'll end up riding on a bike down by the river!

Sunday I kept the party going by joining the Benidorm boys for about as flat a metric as you could possibly ride around here.

The fun part now is keeping it rolling along for the next 26 days!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today it was time to give the Waltworks fork a real test:
Case MT.
The Res is rocky and all, but being my home court the rocks are sort of like family.
Case I guess is more like a second cousin; maybe see them (it) a couple few times a year, have a general idea of who (what) I'm looking at, but still not intimate with (which in the case of second cousins would be very wrong).
How'd it perform.
I'd like to think that my slightly custom dimensions had something to do with that, but for all I know Walt could have just tacked together a "stock" fork (I guess I could measure it but I have no reason to doubt, and since it's perfect who cares?).  Probably his tube selection and design are the main contributors to the ride.
For those who've never been, this is Case.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Got it!

After 12 weeks my new Waltworks fork finally came in.
Worth the wait?
My initial impression is a resounding yes.

When I sent in the deposit, I had missed Walt's disclaimer that he was waiting on fork steerers, and the usual 6-8 week leadtime might not apply.  That was probably good because I'm usually  not that patient and more than likely would have done something else.  Being such an awesome time of year to ride the weeks flew by.  After my first ride I'm pretty happy I didn't go another route.

When you decide to have Walt build you a fork, you give him you weight, riding style, your current fork's dimensions, what your looking for in a fork, and if you're feeling particularly plucky, the actual dimensions you want him to build the fork.
The Plastic Fantastic worked pretty good on Mary Jane so I suggested those dimensions.  What I was after was a fork that felt as good as my Singular's, was a little lighter, without any brake chatter (brake chatter isn't an issue with the Singular, it was on the original KM fork, and I didn't want to make a sacrifice just to save a few grams), and would work with the Karate Monkey's geometry.
At week #8, I change the dimensions to 5mm longer, with 5mm more offset than
El Cheapo Carbonito to try and make it more like the Singular, yet still be compatible with MJ.

After a little Fedex delivery-teasing it arrived yesterday.

As of right now it is perfect.
It steers directly, yet has enough flex to effectively offer some vibration damping, without any brake chatter.  I found myself letting go of the brakes and just letting the wheels "run" on rocky descents.  On flatter rooty sections I was more effectively able to stay on the power and pedal through them.  It is almost too good to be on a bike with gears.

The finish is well done, however Walt used quarters to cap the fork blades which just look lumpy under the powdercoating.  If there was some way to neatly strip the coating to expose Good Ol' George, that would look pretty cool.

Unfortunately I sort of put the donkey in front of the cart.  The fork was a "way to go Charlie" present for finishing second overall in the Root66 Cat1 singlespeed class.  I was planning on using the prize money to pay for a portion of the fork.  Almost 3 months since the last race still no payout.

look Ma, no lawyer tabs!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thank You!

November is coming to an end and with that so is Movember.
I sincerely want to thank everyone who has contributed to the cause; you have far exceeded my expectations.
But if you still haven't contributed go ahead, do it, all the cool kids are doing it.

Now as a thank you to you I give you the many faces of Mo

Thank god Novembers over.
Next year it's someone else's turn.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Long weekend of Thanks

Neal planned a sunrise Ride of Thanks. Half the guys were on rigid singlespeeds, the other half on geared hardtails. The Harmonizer took it upon himself to ride to the ride with a 48" gear. Not exactly ideal for the road ( 100rpm = 14.5 mph, 34 miles of tarmac).

I was thankful for Neal's donuts

Tradition fire on the beach scheduled from 3:01-3:36 PM

Thankfully JEB is a crafty good baker

The Tofurkey Burner
If you look closely at the picture of a guy taking a picture you'll notice 2 GIRLS!  The Tofurkey Burner started off with 12 riders.  The ladies were amongst the 7 that went the distance.

Back to the Nass w/ James
(and where were you?)
we started with arm and leg warmers, but were down to just shorts and jerseys by half way

Oooh, scary!
 What is truly scary is how many people actually hunt in Nassahegon when it is so close to residential and  widely used by hikers, bikers, and runners.

Home-made fuel

and now for something completely different...
Team Createx / Benidorm
"Super Largo" ride

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

At work I'm trying to wrap some things up before the holiday.  In fact I need to because a customer needs it done before they leave the state for 4 months on Saturday.
I was planning on doing the installation yesterday, but a spray system malfunction left me scrambling.
I'd have to do the install on Wednesday, but that might free up some time to ride Tuesday night.
As I'm about to head out the phone rings.

"what time are you going to be there 'til?"

A customer is a customer so I tell him my regular closing time.
That's okay, I can get some longer rides in over the holiday.

15 minutes before closing time the phone rings (the only time it rings since the afore mentioned call)

"I can't make it down today, It'll have to be next week"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pulled back

I thought I had an out.
Fund raising was not going very well.  If no one stepped up I could quietly shave this "thing" and slink into the woodwork.
But no, a few of you couldn't resist having me wear this "thing" until the end of the month.
It's funny though, I've noticed some women are more flirty.  Maybe subconsciously they feel they need to be nice to me so I don't murder them?!
Another thing I've noticed is a lot more people have commented about Movember than have donated.
Dig deep.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Half Way

This "thing" is taking on a life of it's own.
I almost ran a red light because I was distracted by a lovely Latina waiting for the bus, I'm ringing my bell at pretty women, and going into the bank for face time with the tellers.
What's next?
Am I going to have to buy a bunch of turtlenecks?

I was close to shaving it off but Neal, Fabian and Jay stepped up to the plate making me committed to riding this thing out (moustache ride?).

You too can help support male cancer research by going here and making a donation.
Pretty please with sugar on top?

Monday, November 14, 2011

A real ride

Today Blü.2 got a true test of her mettle.

For those not in the know, Nassahegon is some of the best riding in the state.  Super twisty, flowing, great climbs (for CT), some rocks (and then some more rocks).  When you think of classic New England singletrack, that is the Nass.

The trail gnomes had been hard at work out in Burlington cleaning up the wrath of Albert, and other than some heavy leaf coverage the trails were good to go (for the most part).

I don't know if it was the  headwind commuting to work on Saturday, or the installation I did on Friday, but my legs were toast.  I really wanted to ride Mary Jane set up as a 1x8.  But then I remembered the last time I rode gears at the Nass after a storm.

With the tight twisties, I was really appreciating the sharpness of Blü.2's handling.  She really carved the corners.  The quickness actually is something that I'm going to have to adjust to when the trail turns down, and keep my weight back a little more.

On the uphill side of things, the lower front makes her quite a nimble climber.  

We were only riding for a couple of hours, but the constant switchbacks made it seem like longer, but in a good way.   Like shoving 3 hours of fun in to 2.

The size of our group and the nature of the trails, we'd appear to all be heading a different direction when looking down the trail.  Here we appear to be just standing around in the woods.

Mookie wins the prize for actually riding the whole climb we're standing atop.

Things beyond  Blü.2's control even worked out for the best.  I only pulled my feet out of the pedals when I was doing something truly stoopid, and my brakes were silent when dry, which is good enough for me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Aint no Candy Mountain

As lovely as Blü.2's maiden voyage was, all was not paradise on the ride.
Two issue kept on rearing their ugly heads to distract me from the ride.
First and most annoying:  I fouled my brake pads bleeding the brakes.  Hayes recommends removing them when you bleed the brakes, I never have, but this time I guess I should have.
Screaming Banshees!
Everytime I thought I had burned off the contamination the squeal would come back.
You guys are gonna love me on Sunday (no pads "in stock").

Second issue:  Pedals.  Or maybe cleats.  First my left shoe wouldn't stay clipped in, and then both of them.  I had been last using these pedals on a 1x8 setup and hadn't noticed a problem, but with the way you ride SS I guess you're more likely to pull a foot out.

I hope it's just the cleats.  Time and time again, I'll get pissed off with Crank Brothers, swear I'll never use them again and switch back to Time.  I was lured in by their latest redesign replacing the bushing with a needle bearing.  Ironically I just had to overhaul the right one (less than a year old) because the needle bearing exploded. 
They are the best in snow, which will soon be an unfortunate reality.
I wish Time's were lighter or the lighter ones were cheaper.

That got a little rambly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


After a somewhat tumultuous build (cut the brake line, bleed the brakes, go for test ride, brake line pops off, re-cut brake line, re-bleed brakes, cross fingers...) Blü.2 was ready for her maiden voyage.

The differences between my original Swift, Blüsteel, and  Blü.2 are subtle, yet to ME significant.

One of the things I loved about Blüsteel was the fork, but one of the things I wasn't crazy about was the height of the front end, due in part to the length of the fork. I'm sure some might prefer the more upright position afforded by the higher front end.  I did  get used to it and think I did fairly well with it, but I could never get into my ideal just right position (I would browse for stems, but never went on a crazy stem hunt looking for some -17° unit).

Now I'm sure in an effort to appease ME, Sam did a minor rehash of the numbers, shortened the fork to 470mm a/c, reduced the rake to 45mm (from 48mm; Sam's always been ahead of the curve), and slackened the head angle slightly to accommodate.
Plus he gave it sexy new chainstays:
So what are the effects of these changes:
Charlie Likey!!!
 The bike fit much more naturally to me, balancing my weight even better than before.  The lower front end puts me in a more aggressive position to more actively drive the bike.
In the back of my mind I was a little concerned that the shorter fork would A. not be as compliant, and B. reduce the "mad skillz" I could sometimes (rarely)conjure  on Blüsteel..
Better handling, as compliant, and same "Charlie level"* mad skillz.

I always thought the perfect bike for ME would be if Blüsteel banged Mary Jane and had a love child.
Blü.2 is about as close to that as I think you can get.
  • Lower more aggressive position
  • great Phil Wood ebb
  • faster yet not twitchy handling
  • Classic style and design

Here's one last blurry camera phone shot, just cuz..

*mad skillz for me, a XC rider who has to go to work the next day

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's like this:

Here's the stats on my Movember Fund raising campaign.
Dollars raised:
Marble Design.
aka ME

So it's going to work like this; if you want me to keep growing this "thing", looking ever more ridiculous by the hour you had better pony up some cash.

OR if you really care about Mrs CB2, you can make a donation with a message to that effect and I'll shave "it" off.

Vote with your wallet:  Charlie looking foolish, or Mrs CB2 not embarrassed (less embarrassed) to be seen in public with me.