Friday, April 28

What verb tense issues?


Up at 3:47AM so I can blerhg and shower (because I got home too late last night to do so) and out the door for The Spoke Easy ride to Bike Source to meet up with the Ride With the Mayor of Bike Town to the Annual Ride to Breakfast With the Mayor.

It makes sense, I assure you.

Yesterday, I had a post-work window to play on bikes while The Pie went to yoga.  My plan was to double up with a ride in the morning before work.  Well, none of that panned out as I'd originally thought.

Our foster dog that is recovering from hip surgery woke up with a pin sticking out of her repaired leg.  Suffice it to say, this changes things.  I end up having to drive Nia to school (in a car, who does that?) and then back home to drive The Pie and Cajun to the vet before pulling my bike out of the trunk and then riding in a round about manner to get to work.

The chances of rain were looking to crush my dreams of a post-work brewery ride.  I decide instead that I will ride 14 miles out to Belmont.  Rain or shine.  Destinations (no matter how silly they are) tend to motivate me.  Mills and South Main Cycles were putting on a Thursday night ride and demo, and even if it got rained out, there's always beers at Station to look forward to if I end up getting soaked.
Off at 5:00PM and time trial across town.  Afraid that I'll inconvenience everyone if I take Google's predicted time of an hour and thirty minutes, I get there in less than an hour.  I guess Google assumes I ride a beach cruiser and only pedal with one leg.

Mills had taken the time to set up my ride in a Dick-friendly manner.

Yeth, I rode a Pivot LES... again.  Yeth, it was one size too large... again.  At least Mills put a 50mm stem on it for to accommodate my lack of personal size. 780 bars had me pretty sprawled but it was a much bueno option as opposed to riding my tarck bike on the Rocky Branch trails.

Anyways, a shit ton of people showed up.  Twenty?  Thirty?  I didn't count.  I also spent zero time looking around the shop (never been before), and we were on our way to the woods.

Mang.  Rocky Branch (never been) is feature-laden.  Supposedly only 4.3 miles, Mills led us around in a way that felt like twice that.  Since I hadn't planned on riding trails that day, I had worn my wrap prescription Oakleys that cause terrible abberations in the woods.  Sketchy.  A bunch of the features and bridges were kinda terrifying.  I know they weren't as bad as they looked, but the glasses make it like I'm riding in my own personal fun house.

Despite realizing that I hadn't adjusted the reach on the brakes or put the saddle at the correct height... and the bars had me at the limits of my reach, I still can't get over how pleasant the rear end of the LES feels.  At some point, I really need to get on a small and see if I really like it or not.

Mills takes us back out for a shortened version of another lap and then we head back to Station.

Beers and meeting new people and talking to Jason from Stone Brewing to find out that he worked at my LBS back in Ohio, Frankford Bike, right about the same time I was making my exodus from the Buckeye State.  We knew a lot of the same people, just at slightly different times (and ages).

Mebbe one beer too many for me and my empty stomach, and I hop in Mills's Tacoma for a much appreciated lift home.

No regerts.

Except I'm way tired right about now.

Thursday, April 27

Gore Part Four: The Gorening

I received a shipment of Gore Bike Wear last week (warning: expect Gorefomercials in the coming weeks as I get around to using this stuff). Unlike last time, when I was asked a bunch of questions and then sent what they thought I'd like and then I didn't like most of it for one nitpicky reason or another, this went down differently.

"Tell me what you want.  What you really, really want."

"I'll tell you what I want.  What I really, really want."

There was room on the form for four items.  Since I understand how google docs work, I added a fifth line.

Mostly because a majority of the items I was requesting were not $400 rain jackets.  A bit more basic were my needs.

But I'll start with the one that I thought was a long shot (because I was asking for more things than I should).

Let me preface this by saying that months ago, this was shipped to my house:

A sweet $500 jacket that has all the bells and whistles... sent to my house.

My old house.

By the time we figured it out, there wasn't much that could be done.  Most of the Pro Jackets had been allocated to real "industry" insider media douchebags for reviews, so I was shit outta luck.

Well, that jacket was more than I really wanted anyways.  I'd been eyeballing the ONE GORE-TEX® ACTIVE BIKE JACKET ever since they announced the Shake Dry™ technology.

In a nutshell, the Gore-Tex membrane is on the outside instead of under a layer of DWR coated fabric... like this:

If you have the laminated kind, you know (or at least you should) that you need to maintain the DWR by washing and drying as directed and retreating as needed.  This coat won't need all that.  It's as simple as it gets... like me.

I already have the Gore Rescue WS AS jacket (Which got a pretty positive review here), and that jacket is going to be saved for more mountain bike adventuring and urban tomfoolery.  What with its  hood and very packable size, it's much buenos for those activities.  I wanted this new coat for work and commuting... and it came just in time for some proper testing.

I got three days in a row playing with my new toy this week.  One day of greenway junk mile collecting, three commutes, and two days of riding around the city delivering hardware and footballs.

Fanny pack commuter life.  Gore Bike Wear shants, tiny hat, socks, and knee warmers not included with purchase of coat.

What can I say?  It fits very well and kept me drier than the West Texas wind... but I kinda expected that.  It's got a sweet chest pocket for my phone/pocket computer and it doubles as its own stuff sack.

Which doesn't require "stuffing."  There was ample space in there, and the actual size of the bundle is quite a bit smaller.

I think all jackets, vests, and rain shorts/pants should pack into a pocket.  It makes too much sense.

If this was all I got as a Gore Ambassador, I'd be okay with that.  I can't say that I've been the most conscientious launderer of my other Gore-Tex items, so it's nice to know I won't be able to screw this one up... too much.

The outer finish is described as an "advanced matt black look," which is somewhere between normal black and the Chesters' workout suits from Christmas Vacation.

Which is a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it.  It is different and not "just black," but at least it will stand out in a pile of all black gear (if you have the same problem that I do when you travel and pack like a rat).

Wednesday, April 26

Can't be turning on a dime cause the rims scrape

I'm sure some of yinz will be thinking, "Why do you need another set of wheels?"

Why indeed.

My 29er 24 spoke Industry Nine on Nox Farlows have been going on strong for two years.  I think I checked the spoke tension... once?  I've bottomed the tire to the rim on rocks and roots and whatnot multiple times, and there's not one noticeable ding.  I've never gotten through one entire "season" of rigid single speeding on an aluminum rim with the same positive experience.  Didn't matter which aluminum rim I was on, I put some regrettable nasty on them.

So when I decided it was time to try 27.5+, I got a set of  32 spoke Industry Nine built on Nox Kitsuma rims.  I didn't wanna sabotage the experience by building up a tank set of wheels setting the whole thing up for failure because I'm hauling an extra pound of rotating weight (that I'm eventually going to dent and ding as well).

So why something else now?

Had the Kitsuma 29" rim existed when I had my first set built, mebbe I wouldn't feel the need to do this, but it didn't.  I love extra volume up front when rolling rigid, and I've had two mismatched sets of Industry Nine Enduro™/Trail wheels in the past.

But the Kitsuma rim was not a thing two years ago.  It is now.

And this time, I went all in. 

Some of you might have saw me sticking my toe in the water on social media thinking about a new bike (sorta to replace the Stickel).  Nothing was 100% what I wanted, so I just decided to let the idea go for now.  I know this might sound backwards, but all that research just made me even that more happy about my feels towards my Vertigo Meatplow V.7.  Boost™ be damned.

Boost™ makes me think too much about resale and upgrades and parts availability and extinction.  I don't know if it needed to exist, but after hearing a Pivot guy defend Super Boost™?  He made it sound not so stupid.  I don't think I'm in a position to judge.

Mostly because it does not affect me if I just let myself be happy with what I have... well, now.  You know what I mean.

With my other two wheel sets, I went with a geared free hub, because... resale.  It's hard enough selling pink wheels, but when I get the single speed specific free hub?  Let's just say that it takes a very particular buyer to want them when I'm moving on to something else.

I've decided that the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 is going to be around for the foreseeable future.  Time to double down and get the wheel set that I'd want on it if I were building this bike like I were gonna keep it forever.

A single speed specific free hub/shell.  It makes for a stronger (not like I need it to be stronger) and better looking wheel IMHOMO.

Farlow rim again in the rear because I run a 2.2 Ardent Race.  I've tried a tire that narrow on my 27.5 Kitsuma rim in a pinch, and it was a no bueno.  When Nox says, "Note: If you are planning to run 2.1-2.3" XC tires, you will be better served with one of our narrower rims," they mean it.

The Kitsuma does what I want up front tho.

The change in tire volume is very apparent (not so much with a fish eye lens). The increase of internal width from 29mm to 36mm is significant. 

Shit.  I went outside and got better images last night.

No fish eye.

When I went from the (Old) I9 Enduro™ rim to the Farlow, I was able to go from 18+ PSI to 17+ PSI, which makes me wonder if I'll be able to get 16+?  Mebbe.

Or mebbe none of this matters, because...

one of the biggest reasons I really wanted to get these wheels was the upcoming 29 X 2.6  Rekon+.

I'm hoping this will be the go-to replacement for the Ardent 2.4, but we'll see about that when I get my grubby hands on one.  In the mean time, I have that Minion DHR+ (which I'm in love with), and it will be all the more buenos on the wider rim.

Those guis...

So I went from a 1,490 gram wheel set to a 1,670 (still lighter than the 1,710 gram Enduro™/Trail set up from three-five years ago).  I had guessed a 150 gram jump with the addition of 16 spokes and the heavier rim, and 180 grams is just a small pile of paperclips heavier, so ok.  If I think about how much weight I lost with the Ergon SMR3 saddle and the loss of a 10-15mm of alloy spacers...

So many thinky thoughts.

The never-ending quest for the most perfect simple bike cycling machine.

Looking forward to getting to the mountains this weekend on them and then PMBAR with Watts the next weekend.  2017 is gonna be all the buenos.

Tuesday, April 25

It tied the room together...

I've mentioned that my left rhomboid has become my new hobby.  I blame my issue on the fact that 9-5 has two checks in the negative column.

When I'm out delivering, I'm wearing a bag on one shoulder.

When I'm not delivering, I'm sitting in front of a computer killing time and trying to remember to not sit all hunched over... which I'm not that good at doing.

I also realized that the bar/stem combo I was running had me too stretched out with my hands close together... bringing my chest in, which is also a no bueno for the rhomboid.

So that's why the 50mm stem came off the Stickel and the riser bars came off my pump and a quill adapter from my old Colnago got stuck in my tarck bike to tie it all together until I could come up with a better solution... one that was in front of my face the whole time.

I'd seen that Zac had been fabricating stems recently, but threadless 1 1/8" jobbers.  He's really  expanded his talents to all sorts of things over the past year or two, and Fattimagic has been pumping out all sorts of stuff.

But I didn't know how hard it would be to source the materials for a 1" quill stem (with expander/bolt/cap).  Where would he be able to get all that stuff?

Oh... mebbe right here?

I don't know why I didn't think of it before. The stem that Chris M had given to me so that I could try a basket (which I ended up hating), but the stem remained because it looked way dope on the old tarck bike.

I asked Zac if he could hack the stem, grind it down, replicate the same negative rise (better for carrying boxes on handlebars), and make it bueno.  He did just that less then five days after I handed it to him.

I had to run out and buy some gloss black spray paint to bring it to it's full glory, but here's the end result (in trbl lighting):

The crabon bars that are on there were dirt cheap but are probably still too narrow.  I need to begin my hunt for wider 25.4 bars, I guess.  So far, it would seem that 25.4 died around the same time that bars got wider than 580mm, so this is going to be easier said than done.*

But at least all the other things are back where they belong, and a certain sense of balance has been brought back into my world.

 Super pumper pump ready to pump.

Stickel Meatplow V.6 ready to head back to the mountains... but mebbe not*?

All thanks to my crafty little friend, Zac.

If you've got an idea to create something that's beyond your skill set, consider giving Fattimagic a shot at it.  Peruse his portfolio and see just what he can do for you.

* I may have lined up a sweet custom Moots ti bar that has a history... and as it so happens, is the same length as both of the bars on my mountain bikes (but not as wide as my super pump).

 * Possible experiment pending.

Monday, April 24

Conlict of Interest

On Friday, I thought I'd be coming home to the birth of a new wheel set.  I had already been nesting in preparation.  The Vertigo Meatplow V.7 was upside down with no wheels in it.  Pistons pushed in waiting for new rotors to make everything shiny and new.  Tires standing by.

But they didn't show up. Hmmm.

A ride in the mountains planned and the Stickel Meatplow V.6 stem was still on the tarck bike and something that needs done ain't yet.  I reckon on how much work needs done that might need to be redone if I undone it.

I end up putting old wheels with old rotors and a worn out Ardent Race on the rear and Minion DHR+ on the front and prepare for an early start in Pisgah.

All things considered, my lack of preparedness did not stop Zac from being on time and Bill Nye to not be ready for a scoop and Wirun and his buddy not to be waiting for us at Ingle's and Colin to pull up just when we were getting ready.

Wash Creek Rd to Spencer...

To the bottom of Upper Spencer where Zac gets excited and heads down Lower Spencer while the rest of us stand around and deliberate and eventually I go looking for Zac who is down the mountain knowing that mebbe he went the wrong way so he decided to filter some water.

Get back up with everyone and proceed with Middle Fork and over on the Never Ending Grassy Road of Death... where I realize I need a photo of these two bike together.

 If you don't see it, whatever.

Down Fletcher Creek and finally, after three weekends in a row, I'm feeling like I'm getting my 1,000 Yard Pisgah Stare back.  If you don't know what that means, I can't help you.

It's at this point, we all head back up Spencer Branch from the bottom.  2.2 miles with about 1,000 feet of climbing.  I only looked at the data later because I wondered. 

 It does hurt a bit.  Some more than others.

Over to Trace Ridge where Colin told me that he has climbed the initial bit before on a single speed, so I tried and I guess it's okay but ouch.  I raced ahead to get one shitty image out of many absolutely shitty images way down low on Trace.

My take away from the ride, other than a great time, was this:

I'm glad I was able to upgrade my Wolf Tooth ReMote lever with the new Light Action version actuator... thing?

It's pretty much what I wanted when I installed the ReMote in the first place.  My thumb is normally weak to being with, and it's much worse right now.  It worked well enough, but I wanted it to be longer for reasons of leverage and how far my minuscule thumb had to reach.  Now I feel like I can breathe hard on the lever and my post droops.  I was super stoked that I didn't have to buy a whole new ReMote and only had to replace the lever bit for $18.

The other thing.  I'm getting addicted to the Minion DHR+.  As I get my TYPS (Thousand Yard Pisgah Stare) back, this thing just hauls the mail. 

I know that climbing with all this tire in a racing situation is stupid, but once I got my eyes where they needed to be, I was just bashing all the things coming down Trace Ridge.

To the point where I was wondering why I even want a bike with a squish fork.  I'm pretty sure its girthiness takes its toll, and I mighta cleaned the whole 1.3 mile/807ft climb on Upper Spencer had I not been hefting that extra weight.

But I don't know if I care.  It so much fun to ride my bike the way I like it (rigid) but with a lot less concern about things going sideways.

The racer boi in me says no, but the asshole who doesn't give a fuck about anything other than the next beer does not GAF.

So conflicted.

Friday, April 21

Broke Brake Mole Hill

M 9000 guts.

It's all because my left brake lever got stuck and then I had to replace it and of course bleed the front brake when I got it all put back together.

Can't have a fresh bled front brake and a who-knows-when-it-was-bled-last rear.  If I'm bleeding both brakes, might as well push the caliper pistons out and clean and lube them while we're here.

Good enough?

Something has been creaking.  Sounds like mebbe when I installed a new Cinch chainring, I didn't get cinchy enough with the lock ring.  Pull the crank and check... nope.  Tight as a bull's butt in fly season.

Since we're here...

Why not break out the Wheels Manufacturing bottom bracket bearing extractor I bought months ago and put in the new bearings I picked up from Bike Source recently?

BTW:  I'm super stoked on this tool because I've been just pulling the outer seal off the bearings and blowing them out with Triflow and an air compressor before regreasing them.  That's it.  And probably not often enough.  More than once I've ignored them after a wet ride/race to find them sorta... stuck?  Meh.  I'll be pulling the bearings all the way out, removing both seals and soaking them for now on.

And... let's pull the bottom bracket ups completely out because I don't know when they were last out of the frame and no one likes seized cups... and because I'm tired of looking at them, swap the faded ano spacers with some new ones that came from I don't know where but there they are.

Wheels out, frames upside down, so mebbe a good time to pull out the sliders that haven't been so slidey lately and lube them... and anti-seize the titanium 12 point 10mm bolts.

Well, shit.  I've done almost everything possible... Industry Nine wheel bearings feel fine and that problem is gonna solve itself soon enough anyways.  Drop the fork, look at the Cane Creek 110 headset that I've ignored for more than two years since I built the bike up on day one.

Pull the bearings, remove the seals... disappoint.  Not nearly enough contaminants to justify getting into this... but we're here now.  Triflow, air compressor, grease.  Smooth.

Notice some drooper cable rub in two spots because I'm all up in the headset business.  Dammit. Remove old, worn-out protective sticker.  Clean.  Grab some Crankskins thingies and get to it.

Wheels are still out so pull down the Stickle from the wall and see if the 29" wheel fits in the super tight 34X20 position (16.mustache hair inches) that I've got the 27.5 set at currently.  Fits.  Barely.  Start thinking about trying the .75 worn chain right there on the floor but realize I'm going down a wormhole that I have zero intentions of really exploring until... June?

Put the wheels back in the frame and flip it over even though I'll probably be taking them back out... tonight?

I don't think there's anything else I could possibly do... mebbe take out the seat post, clean, relube?

I'll save that for later so I have something to do while I drink beer some other night.

And this is what happens when you're anal compulsive and you have a defective brake lever.

True story.

Thursday, April 20

Fixin' to do somethin'

Yesterday was my first official pre-commute greenway junk mile ride of the "season."  I know it's time to start doing these rides when I wake up randomly at 4:00AM with much excite in anticipation of getting up at 5:30AM for a ride.  I try to fall back asleep, but my eyes are open every fifteen minutes checking the clock.

Seven minute breakfast, coffee, morning constitutional, more coffee, my second ever glass of Rocket Red (more about that later), kit up and out the door.

Anyhoo, I grabbed my Misfit Meatplow and finally had a chance to put one of my half-assed theories to a true test.

Yeth, the drive side crank arm is not where it should be for a photo (3:00), but it's a fixed gear and your cranks will never be where you want them to be.

I converted the bike to a fixed gear late last year and took off the brakes.  Since then, I've used it for shits and giggles and just getting around when I didn't feel like riding my tarck bike, but I was more or less thinking about this time of year.

Riding a fixed gear for training makes sense... to me.  My legs are always moving, accelerating, braking, trying to keep up.  Just moving in circles as long as the bike is in forward motion.  I'm also more mentally engaged in the activity at hand.  No coasting along and looking at the sights.  38 X 18 pushing a 29 X 2.2 tire down the road or gravel or what have you.

So, it was odd that I was listening to this episode of the JRA podcast on Mountain Bike Radio.  One of the listener questions was about training for single speed racing, and the answer was "ride with gears."  Cross bike, road bike, mountain bike.  Just something with gears.  Meh.

I'm not saying I don't agree.  It's just that I can't care enough about racing or fitness to ride a bike I hate.  I also started to wonder if there's anyone else out there riding a fixed brakeless mountain bike in an effort to earn some sort of fitness for our particular non-sport known as single speed mountain bike racing.

Like... anyone?

I guess it doesn't matter.  It floats my boat, and I feel like I'm ticking all the boxes.  Intervals, high cadence, low cadence... moving blood to my legs and creating enough lactic acid to make them feel dead later.

Compared to last year's junk mile rides on the same exact bike but with brakes and a free hub, this just feels more like home to me.  I don't think I'm starting a new trend, but if you're bored with your training regimen...

They're cheap and available through Quality Bicycle Products, so 99.999% chance you can pick one up at your local bike shop.  Of course, you gotta have a real single speed mountain bike.   Frames with a prehensile tail holding a cog or roller that keeps tension on your chain need not apply... unless you have a death wish.

I think it's a great thing to do, but what do I know?  I also think that having a dead end job isn't so bad as long as I get to wear shorts to work.