Tuesday, December 29, 2009
FUBAR; Is it me?
It was more than just a bearing.
When I went to pull my cranks to replace the bb bearings, I noticed the lockring was hanging loose. Only problem is my bb doesn't have a lockring. The flange had sheared off the cup, leaving the remainder flush with the shell.
Removed the other cup, pulled the spindle, and found the drive side cartridge bearing had completely disintegrated. Yet there was no signs of rust or corrosion?
A trip to the hardware store netted me nothing to remove the now flange-less cup.
My solution; carefully applied violent force. I hammered an old bb tool into the spline-less cup and was able to unscrew the it.
So what gives? How is it that a man who shops in the boy's department keeps destroying cranks and bottom brackets?
Fortunately for me, I seem to always have good luck when it comes to hunting down cranks on ebay. Found a XT Hollowtech II set and bottom bracket for $100. I had a set of those before; loved the stiffness, but felt the bb bearing wore too quickly, but maybe with the precision machining of the Phil Wood EBB insert, they'll last longer. One thing I'm pretty sure of, no matter what the bearing life is, I'm pretty certain they won't implode on me.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Woke up, got out of bed (there's a song in there...), looked at the thermometer. 30F. Not quite as cold as I had hoped. Walked out on to my newly exposed lawn; ground was frozen solid.
First pedal stroke I feel / hear my chain pop. Maybe I forgot to lube it after my last ride. As I started to climb out of the saddle, I could feel the bb spindle rocking back and forth. Maybe I could ignore it? Nope, too annoying. Mechanical negligence gnawing at me. I was hoping to wait until closer to the racing season to replace the bb bearings, but looks like if I'm going to ride the Singular, I'm replacing them (and with the promised deep freeze coming, I'm riding the Singular).
So I headed back home to get another bike.
I could ride the Fun Machine, but I had spent the last two days on the road, or Mary Jane, which was sort of set up as an extreme hybrid. Even though I had to swap pedals to ride Mary Jane, it was overcast, drizzle was starting, and the people who had to go to work were pissed, so I'd rather spend my time in the woods.
My Mom is always preaching about meant to be's and today was one of those. Drizzle turned to sleet, frozen rain and snow and being on the road in that would be no fun at all. As I turned on tho the first rocky fireroad, I realized, I hadn't grabbed a 15mm spanner, or a tube that would fit into the 37's I had on my bike. The torrent of rain and snow melt that had flowed down the the path of least resistance, i.e. the best line, was still flowing, something about physics, or science, and moving water not freezing. There are a number of trails that if the fireroads had rivers flowing down them, which they did, then they would also be a stream. With no way to fix a flat, and with possibly fragile trail condition, I'm glad I was on a bike best suited to fireroads.
I also found out windproof is not waterproof, and after 2.5 hours in damp weather right around freezing, my hands stop functioning.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Snow Strategy Worked!
Maybe instead of fat floaty tires, I should be running skinny tires that can bite through the fluffy powder to the frozen ground below?
That's what they do with Pro Rally too; run skinny snow tires that can bite.
That's what Mr. Kowalski did back in the day too. He'd take the huge balloons off his Bronco and put on these silly looking little snow tires to get through the Winter.
So that's what I did. I had bought some 37mm studded tires for commuting, and never really found a need for them. Now was my chance.
Mounted them up at about 40psi and hit the road. I left my cog / chainring the same effectively reducing my gear to about a 46" (from a 49").
Where other users had tread, I would have been better off with a standard mtb tire. Things were more compacted than the other day, but the skinnies were not ideal on it. Staying on the side of the trail in the untouched powder on the other hand was great. I gutted out the fireroads to an elevation were fewer users had traveled. At one point I was actually hoping to bog down, or spin out so I could take my glasses off, but no dice, I had to wait until the trail flattened out a bit to take them off (ah, shucks). The skinniness of the tire didn't create too much drag cutting through to the frozen earth below, and the studs and tread could really bite in. As long as the powder was fresh, and I didn't wander into a snow drift, or break through a frost heave things went well.
But even so, a lot of work. I'm properly anesthetized for the Holidays.
Merry Christmas (hohoho and all that jazz)!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There will be profanity in this post
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I was going to have all the fun. I was going to ride every log, every drop, chute and rock at the res.
And so it is, and has come to pass, and now I can ride the trainer, or the roads in another day or so, or xc ski wishing I was mtbing.
A little below 20F, but felt so much nicer than Thursday when it was probably 5 degrees warmer, but there was a 25 mph wind and the air was much drier. If I had a sandwich and another warm bottle, I could have rode all day (Kim wouldn't have been pleased with that).
I snapped this shot to show how perfect the conditions were. Some snow but mostly crunchy and ride-able, and the ground was frozen solid.
If you're tearing up the trail as such, maybe consider not riding on them when they're so vulnerable?
While I stopped to get on my soap box, it was another opportunity for some more product placement.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Waiting for the shoe to drop
Suggesting a guaranteed ride in the slop, is wiser than taking a chance on a longer ride in better conditions another day was sure to bring conflicts my way.
First my sister-in-law called saying my wife was late and not answering her phone. I'd be more surprised if she was on time and / or answered her phone, but that put the seed of "what if" in my head. Would I be getting an emergency call that she had a flat or broke down?
Then a customer called about picking up a small piece, inquiring as to how late I'd be in the shop. "Ah, not that late, I'll leave it outside for you". "But how will I pay you?" he asked. "Just slide it under the door". If he stiffs me it's on his conscious, and not worth missing a ride.
As I was about to get changed and leave for my ride, a contractor stopped in. He grabbed some samples, and started talking about the job. I was bracing for him to tell me he was bringing his client down this afternoon, when he says "I'll see her this weekend and get back to you next week".
WooHoo! I made it out the door!
The conditions were perfect. The ground frozen mostly solid, the only softer spots were well on their way, but deep standing water hadn't frozen completely yet. One problem was the best lines were often where the snow melt flowed and froze, leaving a thick, slick glaze. Good time to try some new lines.
Deep frozen ruts from people riding when it was muddy in some sections presented a challenge to being able to choose a different line.
I had hoped the 45 degree drop in temperature (from in my shop to outside) would lower my tire pressure a bit, but after a half an hour, I stopped to lower them some more.
Soft tires+hard ground=Awesome!
As I rode along I plotted my course. Adding and subtracting trails as I rode. At the 1 hour mark, deep within the shelter of trees I was going to go long. 10 minutes later with frozen water bottles, on the Western ridge being hit with a 25 mph wind I was rethinking that. Maybe a big loop isn't the best idea. Time to head back down to the truck. Just as well, the temperature, and conditions, there were still sections of snow in the woods, had slowed me down enough that I still got almost as much riding time as I hoped.
Glad the torpedo missed the bow.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The plan was to get about an hour of riding in before dark, but with the mild conditions the trails were probably going to be a sloppy mess. Irresponsible to ride, and really not too much fun.
But with a forecast like this:
I began thinkin' things. Instead of getting 2 short rides in, with one being a sloppy slogfest, how about getting my morning work done in my "before dark ride time", and freeing up a big chunk of daylight for riding on frozen trails tomorrow?
I love this time of year, and these conditions for riding. Everything is frozen solid, ultimate traction, next to zero clean up needed. If you can't "clean it" when it's like this, you have no excuse but yourself.
So I skipped riding today, when I swore I needed to so badly, on the chance that riding tomorrow would be that much better. Was I being a responsible trail patron? Will it turn out to be a case of "A bird (or in this case ride) in the hand is worth two in the bush (or a possibly longer one tomorrow)?
Either way, I've got brand new Ignitors on the Swift, and a proper 52" gear ready for what ever nature has to offer.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I guess it's a tradition now
Instead I went with the family to kill a perfectly good Douglas Fir. For the second year in a row, I accidentally left my bike in the back of the truck.
My truck's a pretty decent size and all, but there was no right way to put my family, tree and bike in there.
What to do? What to do?
Here's an idea! Ride the bike home!
Last year I had cross tires and a smaller gear on the Fun Machine, so I took a more direct route on some bike paths and fireroads.
This year it was set up in Winter trim; full fenders, 70" gear, and 25's, so I took the scenic route.
The ride started off well enough. Mid 20's heading into the wind. I kept on telling myself in 20 minutes my face would warm up, and the sting would ease. I was glad I was heading into the wind as I would soon be turning and would only have to deal with a cross wind. Maybe I would I even feel the elusive tail wind I've heard so much about?
James and I have ridden 219 in New Hartford from the North before, and I must say it only sucks slightly less climbing it from the South. I didn't know if the climb was just that stiff or if from riding my mountain bike so much, I had lost my road legs entirely. The climb just sucked that much, because as I began to climb after the Barkhamsted reservoir, I began to get into a rhythm.
All in all it was a fairly enjoyable ride but I must say that's about my limit (2.5 hours) for a road ride below freezing.
But now that I've done it two years in a row it's a tradition, so I got that going for me, which is nice.
Happy children laboring
route home 2008
Route home 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A Lighter Shade of Suck
That being said today's ride sucked.
It wasn't epic suck, like 80k (that's 50 miles to you and me) into driving rain with temps hovering around freezing, or double catastrophic flats where not only does your spare have a puncture, but the glue in your patch kit is dried out, and your pump explodes. Not to mention even if you could get cell phone coverage out in the middle the woods, your in the middle of the woods, so what good is calling someone about a flat?
No today was just a dull aching suck.
The fun snow of yesterday was now crusty and wet. There would be glimmers of possibilities, that would end in a crunch and a dab.
None of the fireroad were passable, and I became exiled to the "paved loop". I didn't even have a fixed gear to make it the slightest bit interesting. My boots were still wet from going from riding directly to snow blowing in the rain, and with the wind my gloves were just slightly inadequate.
I saw some truck tracks breaking off from the paved loop, that looked like an interesting possibility, but my hopes were dashed once I was on them; the temperature is still too high and they were just a sloppy mess.
So that's it, I share my suck with you, and hope it doesn't rub off.
I think I'll go see my parents tomorrow; even if the riding sucks down there, I'll still have my mom trying to fatten me up.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I also switched Mary Jane back to a freewheeling bike (wah) do to crank problems, and put a rear brake back on her.
5:27 AM, 3 minutes before I wanted to get up, the phone rings, it's an automated call from Lillian's school saying there is no school. Go to the window, and what do my wondering eyes see, but 2 1/2"'s of snow, with more steadily falling.
I'll get to play in the snow for a couple hours before coming into work!
The only one game, was Charlie B, and by the time we hit it we had about 6" of snow. We rode the street, riding the crown of tire tracks when we could, or through the thick slushy slop on the sides, when a car came by or when we slide off the crown.
We went into Sunset Farms, an upscale neighborhood bordering the res, where between the tree cover and lack of traffic, the riding was much better. We used the paved roads to more easily gain elevation, before heading into the res.
Once inside, we used the fireroads to get up to the fence line and rode the single track back down. We had a momentary scare when a truck pulled up to us; we thought we were going to get a ticket for being in the res when it was closed, but it was just two workers driving around.
As we neared the bottom, the snow had changed to rain and the temperature had risen slightly, making the snow heavy and wet. By the time we got back to Charlie's we were thouroughly soaked and ready for something warm.
But my snow day was over, I'd have clear snow , go to work, and be an adult again, at least for a few hours.
No kickstand needed
Charlie shows how it's done
How do you like Charlie's snow hub?
Monday, December 7, 2009
All Dressed Up
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Just happens to be the birthday of two musician that played prominently in my youth.
First, Andy Williams.
Ahh, those December days before Christmas, listening to 8-tracks of Andy singing about the joys of the season. So pure, so innocent.
Secondly, Ozzy Osbourne. A little different influence going on there. Cranking Erik's tune box, steal my parents booze, and plotting crimes.
I like to honor these pillars of my development yearly by taking a half day and going for a ride. This worked out well with my schedule seeing as I had deliveries East of the River.
East of the River is known for two things; easy women with big hair (who might be seen at an Ozzy show), and great, technical riding.
I don't know about the women, as some how they always were able to resist my charms, but the riding is the epitome of New England technical singletrack.
To honor the self proclaimed Prince of Darkness, I chose to ride this mecca of gnar with Kenda Karma 1.9's. Laziness is probably a better description than choice, as I did a quick change from cross mode to mtb on the Singular. Impressed myself by gettin'er done in under 15 minutes. Changing to some decent tires would have added 15 minutes on a good day, to an hour if the gods of sealant were not smiling upon me.
Wrong tires or not, the Ozzy / Andy paradigm, on the eve of a full moon was working it's freaky mojo as I rode in a short sleeve jersey and shorts in December!
Happy Birthday boys!
Gotta fuel up with store bought vittles on such an important day.
A glacier threw-up
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
My brother-in-law's father passed away, and it wasn't long before I was wondering how the arrangements would effect me getting in one last race this year.
Being the team player that I am, I'm going to race the Singular. But being a cross race there are a few adjustments I've made to make it a more appropriate tool for the job.
Huge clearance Clarence
Old school schwoopyness
First, Nitto Northstar handle bars. I ran these last Winter on the Soma fixed. I liked the lower position of them, but for true offroading the tended to slip on rough descents, which is more than a little annoying. I could have probably cured this by buying a stem with a wide, not cutout face plate, but that would involve buying something, so that wasn't going to happen.
So far for the cross applications I have subjected them to they have stayed in place.
They do quicken the steering too. Some engineer can probably explain the bio-mechanics of this, I just know it is. Takes a while to get used to in singletrack.
I could have put standard drop bars on it, but that would involve changing the brakes to mechanical discs, which is more time than I plan to invest in this project.
I had a lot of trouble with flats running 35mm cross tires and tubes. I tried to get the cross tires to work tubeless but that = big FAIL!
My solution is to run the narrowest mtb tires I have. Kenda Karma 1.9's. I've always loved how these tires roll yet grip, but found them to be quite fragile on New England single track. I gave them a double shot of Stan's and cross my fingers.
My gearing is top secret at this point. Let's just say I've been giving the ebb and Sheldon Brown's gear calculator a workout.
Right now I'm 75% sure Ice Weasels will be the race of choice; the 20+ riders registered for the Singlespeed class almost 2 weeks in advance will probably out weigh the greater distance, and now equal registration fee to Beer Cross.
Of those 20+ riders, only one or two are regulars to the SS that I know of. Will my singlespeedalicity out way my cross virginity?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Being pressed for time, it's good to know all the ins and outs of a trail system to get the most out of it in what time you have. For me this was before darkness fell completely.
Another advantage is you can vary your ride to suit the conditions or your state of mind. It was slippy, and the well worn trails and braids were muddy. The whole catch 22 of slick riding starts to play on you; you don't want to go too fast, because it's slippery, but if you aren't carrying enough momentum you're going to be more likely to crash.
Conditions and darkness led to a little fireroad flying to get me back to the truck before nightfall.
Blasting down fireroads got that cross jones going again.
I might have to plead some sort of insanity; if I don't get this cross fever out of my system, I can't be held responsible for my actions.
Now if I can some how sell this, I've got a couple more decisions; What race, and which bike?
Ice Weasels is only $15, but it is far away. But it's at a farm so maybe there is a tractor* there that I can ride on/sit on.
Beer cross is $5 more, but it's closer. The prize list is beer, which doesn't do me any good, but maybe would help me sell it to the Lovely Ms. Kim.
I could race my Singular, or the Fun Machine.
The Singular would be the team way to go, but we'll see if Sam can get to the mail box with my jersey before then.
The Fun Machine is more of a "cross bike", but the fancy Paul Component brake although pretty, kind of blows, and I haven't been very successful at flat free riding it in the cross vein. Although the Fun Machine has taken everything I've thrown at it, it is a 30 year old touring bike, and I'd hate to break it doing something stupid (like racing for beer).
*If it's a Deere, I'll fart in your general direction
Sunday, November 22, 2009
After riding a quick loop on the streets to test the theory that there are no tail winds (I forgot my pump at home), I was on the trails.
Everything starts off familiar as ever; fireroads I've ridden hundreds of times over the past 15+ years
Filtered out to an overgrown powerline utility road.
The slick tubulars are not the best on damp grass.
Old skool energy bar (pecan / pear bread, mmm)
The powerlines funnel down to this over grown single track through dried out reeds and briars
and abruptly end in these dried out wetlands.
Well, so much for my off tarmac adventure. I did ride about 13 miles on dirt though. Although the Challenge Paris-Roubaix tubulars were not the best on the damp grass the did surprisingly well on dirt and gravel. Twice I nailed my front rim on a rock and braced myself for the inevitable "psssst" of a flat, but it never came. Makes me think about a possible 2010 cross campaign (tubulars+sealant=Happy).
The 65" gear I was loving on the dirt, was now a hindrance on the paved roads. 20 mph required a cadence of 104 rpm.
But it was Sunday, and I was riding my bike, so what's few rpms between friends?
Friends Racing Cross
Here's some shot's of the Cheshire Cross race. Looked like a ton of fun. Quinn enjoyed it too, but I think the highlight of the race for him was digging a good sized rock out of the earth by the finish line.
I think if I raced cross, I'd love it too much, which is one of the reasons I don't race cross; I don't need another racing season...but watching it is making me think things!
Some of the back markers in the races didn't look like they were loving it though; looked like the living dead.
Waiting for the 3's start
"The Hill People" or "That noisy costume party" as Quinn called it.
James running after the "Hill People"
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Night Ride w/ Tom and Mark
This was an excellent opportunity to get in some riding w/ Tom and Mark out in E. Granby.
I haven't been doing much night riding, in fact this would be my first ride with lights since late Winter.
Trails were great. Company was great. My lights worked great; really was a treat to have two working lights. Mark's lights died a couple of miles from home, so we had to make a Mark sandwich so he could share our illumination.
I swore I'd get some picture since I rarely get to ride with others, so here's what I got:
That's a picture of Tom; great likeness.
Some guy Bill we me on the trail
Tom demonstrates why derailleurs suck.
Here, in full motion, Tom once again demonstrates the pit fails of having something hanging off the rear of your bike controlling the chain.
Got back to Tom's just in time to see Roxanne (Tom's wife) back her Volvo into the side of my truck. When you're up to your neck in it, what's a little more?