Friday, June 29, 2012

Fork Me? Fork YOU!

When I got Mary Jane back from James I put the Waltworks fork back on her.  The idea was have a rigid, and a HT.

First ride in I crashed heavily bending the fork and later finding I had cracked the frame.  Before I found the cracks, I had realigned the dropouts and everything was hunky dory...or so I thought.

I went to put the Waltworks back on Blü.2 and found I couldn't get the brakes aligned.  I put the Singular 470mm fork back on and with one pull of the lever everything was spinning freely.

A rigid's a rigid's so end of story?  Not exactly.

The Singular 485mm fork is one of the best riding rigid forks I've ever had the pleasure to use.  When I had the Waltworks made it was the standard I was shooting for.  I was looking for lateral stiffness and fore-aft compliance (it really isn't vertical compliance as the steel is not compressing).

Walt succeeded and the fork was everything I was hoping for.

The Singular 470mm fork is a good fork.  It actually seems laterally stiffer than the 485mm, but also is a little less flexible in the fore-aft department.  There is a minute connoisseur of rigid forks difference.

Blü.2 is designed around the shorter fork.  I wouldn't want to raise the front end 15mm so the 485mm is out (at least in my Racer Boi mind).

Not running the Waltworks on my main race bike is unacceptable.  The Stroker Trails on MJ must be more accommodating than the Stroker Grams on Blü.2.  With a large adjustable wrench I started the initial re-alignment.  Then I put a wheel in the dropouts to keep them aligned as I fine tuned with  chainring straighteners.

All is right with the world again.

Here's some pictures.

The 485mm Singular

the 470mm Singular (can you see the difference?)

Das Waltworks

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good news: The stars finally aligned and I rode my bike to work yesterday.

Bad news:  I got a flat

Good news: I discovered the flat as I was about to leave for home so I could repair it in the comfort of my shop with all the tools and compressed air I could possible need at my disposal.

Bad news:  I had used my last patch

Good news:  I had a spare tube

Bad news: Now having depleted my emergency supplies no extendy treats on the ride home,

Good news:  The Sunday Princess was all stocked up and ready to go this morning

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is the back side of my building

The Farmington Canal rail trail to New Haven runs along it making it ripe for bored youts who borrow paint from dad's garage.

Some kids from the Southington High "Graffiti class" decided to show the building next door some love.

very nice

I hope no one gets bored.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Let's face it, even if you are winning, this sport is a fiscal black hole.  Entry fees, gas money, race and road food, parts and repair (racing is way harder on your bike than just riding), plus the time commitment of getting to and from the races leave you operating in the red.

Here is a highlights video Thom made of the West Hill / Grafton Pond race.  It sums up pretty well why we do this sport.  The fun and camaraderie, riding new trails (this was the first race at this venue and it was AWESOME!!!), making new friends, and hanging with old ones make it all worth it.

There is a scene where two woman are racing.  Through the overdub the camera mics pick up their conversation  "You're doing great!".

That sums up the sense of family and camaraderie I get from mtb racing.

Watch more video of 1st Ever West Hill Shop/Grafton Ponds Mountain Bike Race, Root 66 Series on


Using my super sleuth intraweb skillz, I cross referenced Grafton Pond's results with USA Cycling's data base;  they have no record of Zorro.

Monday, June 25, 2012

West Hill / Grafton Pond: Free speed!

Initially this race wasn't part of my "program", but after Domnarski Farm I really didn't want to wait until July to try and redeem myself.

I was a little put off by the venue change; I enjoyed the brutality of the old Putney course.  But upon pre-riding I started to think maybe change was good.  The Grafton Pond course is the most fun course I have ridden.  It gives you a decent amount of climbing, but broken up in bite size pieces connected by flowing ribbons of singletrack with just enough open section to afford passing.

At the start there were the usual suspects, but also a man wearing a full faced helmet.  Let's call him Zorro.

The whistle blows and Zorro takes off like a bat out of hell.  I guess he didn't get the memo about me getting the holeshot?

Who is this masked man?

His gap is holding but it's not growing.
After about a 1/4 of a lap it is apparent Zorro has shot his wad and on a technical singletrack climb I make my move.

Royce and Jake are close behind.
When there is a switch back I can see what gap I have on them is not growing.  Fortunately there is more climbing so I start throwing more coal on the fire to try and get out of sight.

It seems to be working, but I've also almost finished my first bottle.  I made a choice before the race to put 1 bottle in Fearless Leader's bottle stand instead of setting up Bottlestand 2000 with 2 bottles for myself.  This might come back and bite me on the assos.

Nearing the end of the first lap we come out into a field.  I feel my rear tire start to rumble and vibrate.  Oh fook!  
Am I flatting again?
Should I stop and check it out?

I decide to keep riding it until I can't ride it anymore.

Second lap is more efforts to get out and stay out of sight.  I'm starting to reel in age groupers which helps me keep my pace going.  Near the end of the lap I start feeling sort of clumsy.  I finish my bottle and look forward to picking up a fresh one. I also realize my tire is fine; I'm riding in tractor tire tracks!

The bottle is going down quickly.  I'm starting to get chills and I figure the best way to deal with this is to hydrate.

I start looking for free speed.  I try and take advantage of anywhere I can get speed with out actually working for it.  "Can I make it through these rocks without braking?  Well let just see shall we?"  I try and pump the woops, preserving every mph possible.

Start of the forth lap my second bottle is almost gone.  I take a plastic cup of water hand-up to try and stretch my resources, but 10 minutes in I'm completely out.

Now I'm getting chills and tunnel vision.  This song is running through my head.  Have I done enough to not get caught?  It's only about 20 minutes more of riding, can I keep it going that long?

It's been a long time.

I needed that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Race Weight

It's just a number, and as a metric to performance means very little in my opinion*.  If you mess around over at Analytic Cycling you'll see a couple pounds this way or that isn't going to make that much difference.  If I were really hung up on weight I'd probably sacrifice ride quality and ride a different frame.

But there is a psychological boost.  Ego epo.

Historically when I weigh 135-137 pounds I race well.
Usually I'll be in that range from Mid May to December (I don't always race well from May-Dec).  Then the holidays come, and the opportunities to ride become scarcer and I'll put on my Winter weight.  Around April I'll start freaking out that I'm still a few pounds over race weight, but not enough to limit the calories I'm shoving down my pie hole.

So this morning on the eve of a race with some climbing, being on the lower end of the race weight range is a happy thing.

Ironically as I began to type this there was a story about women in their 50s with eating disorders.

*Within reason, I'm talking about a pound or few, not a stone's weight.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I really wanted to ride to work today, but I'd been putting off replacing my truck's rotor / bearing for too long, and I've got some extended driving to do.

Ford got the bright idea they should start pressing their bearings into their brake rotors, and I guess since when ever you get your brakes done they tell you you need to replace your rotors (you don't), maybe it is pretty smart.

On a side note if the local small guy does your brakes, says he replaced your rotors and then you have a wheel bearing go within a month he has screwed you.

Anyways it cost me $125 for the rotor and special lock nut.

Which got me thinking; that's a lot of metal.
Precision machined metal with a bearing pressed into it and a big ass gear cut into the back of it for the ABS.

A Shimano XT rotor is over $50.
Lot less metal and machining there (way more than 50%).

Never ceases to amaze me the economy of scale.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've been loving the Nass as of late.

One thing that strike me about it is it's diversity.
Pine needles is one aspect of that.

The tight sliver between the pines is carpeted with needles.  Gives the ride a little cushin' for the pushin'.
If you weight your front end going into a corner and apply POWER you can effectively kick the rear around.
If you only have small power a tap on the rear brake will do the steering.

Kind of like riding when it's wet, but with traction.

Today was rather warm.  While you urban suckas were sweltering in 90+ *F the Nass was in the Mid 80s.  But rubbing the Nass in your face wasn't the point.  The point was the heat and needles made NW CT feel much like coastal New England.

We'll continue to celebrate diversity more in the coming weeks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why do I always get lost at the Nass?
I think it has to do with trails like this:

twisty bench cut made by trail runners who have the Summer off (i.e. teachers, thank GOD for education!).

Just mesmerizing.

But I always manage to find my way out.

Ironically, MTB J, a local, a teammate, rode in as I was pulling out.

Next time I'd better call if I'm poaching in his hood.
(no KOM's were captured or harmed on this ride)

Father's Day

If I am half the father my Dad is, my kids will be doing okay.

My "sacrifice" for my children today was to start my ride before 6:30 AM and be home before 10:00 AM.
The plan was a TdT (there's a shocker).  The TdT has become something of a Father's Day tradition.  More times than not it has been raining (sometime the Father's Day ride isn't on Father's Day).  I guess last week's TdT could have been classified as the Father's Day ride, but as long as I started early enough I could probably squeeze one in.

After 7 miles I suffered a first "F"; seem to be happening a lot of those this year.  Some kind of karmic payback?

Routes were recalculated.

I'm back to riding rigid again.  Picking my way down the descent from the Heublein fireroad to Rt 185 I was thinking I'm getting too old for this shiitake.  But as the ride wore on, and I got to a HC Ultra Fun descent I started to get the hang of it again.

When I got to Wintonbury Rd I chose to do the sensible thing and cut the ride short.  I could probably make it to the chimney and be home 10ish, but a "F" or some other mechanical, and we'd miss the Miracle League Field opening ceremony.

Turns out I was making pretty good time, and suffered no other "inconveniences", so I throw the Rt44 fun park (seeing as I was alone and no one was whining about how it isn't fun.  Of course it's fun; that's why it's the fun park!) and the Antler Trail in.

I was feeling so at home on the rigid I thought I'd make a run at Tig's East Side Descent KOM.  I might have had it but I stopped to talk to Paul and Mary at the water towers.

Made it home just in time to be showered in chocolate and socks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Special Sauce

After Domnarski Farm I was running low on sealant.  It seems I'm always running low on sealant.
I saw a thread on the MTBR about making your own "tubeless brew".
Being a tinkering DIY kinda guy I thought this might be the way to go.

1 part Mold Builder
1part Slime for tires
1part anti freeze
2 parts water
glitter (optional)

My first attempt was a big failure; who knew Jerry's Artarama closes at 7:00 PM on Tuesday?

Yesterday, I was passing a craft store, and on a whim I decided to go see if they had any of my needed ingredients.

Score!  On the bottom shelf across from the Bob Ross gesso the last 16 oz tub of Mold Builder in the store.

On my first shopping expedition I had stopped at a couple of department stores to look for Slime with no success, but now with Mold Builder in hand a quick stop at a proper auto parts store and I was done buying all the supplies I needed (I had an open bottle of anti freeze, water comes out of the tap, and if I really wanted we've got glitter galore around here).

Looks like a Shamrock Shake!

How does it work?
Hard to tell.  I swapped a tire from the wheel I fubar'd yesterday to another wheel.  The tire had a good amount of store bought sealant in it, so I only topped it off with one scoop of special sauce.

BUT...I've never had a tire seal so easy using my wimpy home compressor, so I'll take that as a good sign.

Now the cost analysis

Mold Builder.........................................................................................$18.00
Slime.....................................................................................................$ 9.00
anti freeze (I had it, but let's say I had to buy it).....................................$ 7.00
Total                                                                                                     $34.00

$34 for 80oz of sealant or $.425 per once compared to store bought @ $25 for 32 oz or $.8125 an ounce. That's a savings of almost 50%.

If this stuff works we might be on to something...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guess I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue...

Sure everything is fine when I'm doing stupid hill repeats

but when it's time to go and have some fun, I slide spectacularly on a root creating a debris field of epic proportions.

After I wandered around zombie like and Neal picked up all my scattered pieces the idea of riding comes back to the fore.

But wheel no turny?

Try and adjust the brakes; still no workie.

As I wobble out of the woods I notice a great oscillation in my front wheel.

Aha!  That must be the problem.

Get home and put my other wheel in the fork.

Nope, still not turning.

Good thing I have the expensive tool drawer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012


Another TdT.  I never get sick of this ride.  What used to seem like THE EPIC now is almost a regular morning ride.

Weather and trail conditions were ideal.

No mechanicals

No "F"s

Good friends and a comfortable tempo

It was so perfect that a new term was coined:

HC Ultra Fun
(a reference to a couple of the most awesome descents)

Have I mentioned the water fountains are on!!!!

We needed "headshots" for the team blog, so we checked our hair and makeup and struck poses.

(should I show off my locks?)

(does this chimney make me look fat?)

(can we get a close up?)

The Interloper
(honorary team member)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I had a whole post all ready to go about tires, sealant, bearings and all sorts of truly exciting stuff.

But it all culminates in me going for a ride on my bicycle this afternoon.
So I'll just cut to the chase.


Am I asking too much for Stan's to seal this?

I thought it was going to be one of those pull the tube out and just air it up jobbers.
Instead it was more like this:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This might be the problem

I went out for a quickie before picking up the kids from school.  After flatting out of Domnarski Farm, I felt it would be prudent to add a little extra air to my tires.

I could barely ride.  I was bouncing all over the place, slip sliding on all the damp rocks and roots.
I lowered my pressure to what I felt was a lower, yet safe amount of air.

This is what I thought felt "safe"

After playing with pumps and gauges, squeezing tires in new and exciting ways, I caressed it up to compromise between  wickid hawd (in my perception) and what my Winter tires had spoiled me with.

We'll see how that works out...

Another issue I've been having is there has been a terrible "click" in my drivetrain of late.  I thought it was my rear hub as the freehub bearings needed to be replaced and there was quite a lot of play there.

The non-drive hub bearing in a DT Swiss hub is pretty conventional in it's removal and replacement.  The drive side is held in by the "ring gear" which needs to be removed with a proprietary tool.  The DT Swiss pdf doesn't address the removal of the freehub bearings, and the only information I found on the interwebs was people ruining their freehubs by hamfisting the bearings out.
So by my logic I see a "ring gear" on the freehub, maybe it holds the bearings in like on the drive side of the hub?

ah no

DT Swiss freehub and tool are strong than my vice (thankfully)

David at DT Swiss was quick  responding to my inquiry on just what the fücke I was doing before I employed a method that would overcome the now well proven strength of the hub and let me know they just push out from the center.

Hub is good as new, but the damn click is still there (I rode with a different wheel & cog today).
Hopefully it's a bad link on my chain, cause the only other part left is the Pretty Things...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Domnarski Farm 2012

Well, I can't say I wasn't warned.

I was trying a couple of things different this year at Domnarski Farm.  I went with a spinny-er gear than I usually run, and I had a suspension fork.

9/10ths of a mile in I was questioning the latter.
With a suspension fork, I get a little carried away, over cook turns and, well I guess slam my rear wheel into rocks that my front was saved from by said suspension fork.

After working my way up to 2nd place behind a hard charging Josh Wilcox, I found myself on the side of the trail watching the rest of the singlespeed class, and then the 50+ class go by as I went about making the repair.

Just down the hill from me Mike Rowell was busy fixing his first flat.

I had brought two Co2s and a pump.  Hit the tire with the first cartridge hoping the Stan's would do it's job; no workie.

Put in the tube and fill it with the other Co2.  Feels pretty hard to me and I'm off.  Thank you to Aleksandra Mooradian for holding my bike while I replaced the wheel ( she had already double flatted).

I'm starting to bring back the 50+ group and by the power line climb I'm starting to catch singlespeeders.  I'm really digging the spinny gear in the singletrack, but not so much on the fireroads.

On my way down I pass Mike fixing another flat.

Get through the start /finish and head up the first climb, tire feels a little soft, but it's held this far.  Maybe it's my imagination,  and there's really not much I can do about at this point.

I make it to the top of the climb, start descending, and there it is; the soft tire squirm.  I get off and easily push my palm to the rim.

The plug is pulled.
I'm done.

I limp down, making it about a half mile from the finish before it's completely flat and I have to walk.

Fabian on the other hand  podiumed.
When in Mass...