Tuesday, March 19

This Aggression Will Stand

Being a Topeak ambassador means that sometimes a box just shows up.  When I open it, I might get something I've expected.  I mean, they ask me what I might possibly want, weeks go by, a box arrives at my door... and sometimes it's something I wasn't expecting, didn't ask for, and leaves me slightly befuddled.

I don't just request random things.  As evidenced by my recent culling of unnecessary things, I only want objects that take up space in my life that are useful.  Things that serve a purpose or mebbe are an improvement on what I already have.

So, I came home to a big box on Friday. 

I don't remember asking for something that would fit in a big box, but alas, here it is.

Allow me to be a shitty ungrateful bastard before I even take it outta the box.

I was brought up believing that the standard clamp-a-frame-pipe-and-spin-the-bike-around-in-space was the only way a work stand should operate.  When these "take your front wheel off" type stands started popping up years ago, I thought they were dumb.  Because... different.

This is despite the fact that almost every time I see a pro bike being worked on by a pro mechanic, it's almost always a front wheel off the bike kinda stand.

So, take my current living situation.  My small house offers me a tiny space behind the kitchen to work on my bikes.  Too small for my Feedback work stand to really be any use, so I just perma-mounted it out on the porch sans legs.

I do head out there from time to time... when it's not too cold... or too hot... or I'm not too lazy to carry what tools I might need out there with me.

Most of the time, I just lean my bike against my work bench or flip it upside down... and end up with a sore lower back if I don't pay attention to how much time I'm spending hunched over.

So, despite the fact that I have already come up with a work around or two for my current living situation, I figured before I asked for a return label, I'd give it a chance despite my prejudices and whatnot.

Me in my tiny space, beer fetcher removed from its hitching post, as I often do when I feel the need to move about freely.

Room for the feet parts...

and enough room between the bench and the stand to actually move around and do repair things.

But still, it looks cramped and is there enough room to move the bike into different positions to work on different ailing parts?

I didn't look at the instructions before I started playing with it, partly due to male stubbornness but also because I figured mebbe it would work intuitively like an iPhone or a VCR or a space shuttle.

This was obvious:

Tilt... up... down.  Mmkay.  I already fiddled with that knob when I was taking it outta the box, so obvs.

Also, because I'm not a monkey, this was easy to figure out and...

It made perfect sense once I started playing with it.  Traditional stands have one collar, and when you loosen it to either rotate the bike or raise/lower it, you had to control both motions.  Two collars means you can rotate the bike WITHOUT having gravity trying to pull it down towards planet earth.

Up.  Down.
Round and round.

Obviously, in my cramped quarters, I don't have much room for round and round as I do up and down... or at least I thought.

I was down here messing with the bottom bracket cradle and strappy bit that holds the back of the bike in place...

when I accidentally discovered this feature:

So, yeah.  The whole thing slides back and forth quite a bit, allowing me to spin the bike in all the directions quite a bit more than I woulda thought in my cramped quarters.  Also worth noting, since the clamp is directly above the stand (as opposed to almost a foot out from center), I've got more room AND the whole thing is way stable compared to a regular stand.

Well, well, well.

Other little bits of information:

There are adapters that pop in and out for quick-release, 12 x 100 mm, 15 x 100 / 110 mm, 20 x 110 mm thru-axle forks. Good for me, since I have three out of five of those standards in my house.

Obviously, it folds down nice and small-like:

Which means it fits under my work bench when it's not in use.

And of course there's an optional tool tray that I don't need because my tools are right behind me... and an optional travel bag if you're the prepared sort to travel with a work stand.

So there you have it.  Sometimes (often times) I don't know what's good for me.

Thanks, Topeak (said in the same voice you might say "thanks, mom and dad" when they coerce you to make the right decision through guilt tripping or other parental device).

Monday, March 18

Clouds of Depression Lifted

Praise be.

I got what I wanted.

I reached out to Todd earlier in the week in an attempt to pin down a plan to go to the mountains.  He agreed, invited others... that's about as far as the plan went.

Eventually he tossed out a couple options.  Something something Bennett or head to Wilson's for some Sinkhole Brown Mountain #9... something... something.

I tell him Pisgah Proper sounds better (partially because of potential post-ride beers at The Hub).

Saturday.  Wake up at 6:20AM.  Seriously wonder if anything is worth getting up this early for on a weekend.  I haven't been to the mountains in so long, I can't remember.

Get in the car, head out, stop for gas... and I hear "Hey, Dicky."

I'm hearing things.

Look around.  Jacob is standing there looking at me with so much youthful exuberance, bikes mounted on the back of his vehicle.

"Where you going?"

"Dunno... but probably Pisgah Proper."

"We're going to Brown Mountain.  Pretty soon, it will be back open to OHV traffic, so we wanna get it while we can."

Now I want to go to.

I think the last time I was on Brown Mountain woulda been the early 2000s... back when I had a stupid 40+ lb "free ride" bike.  You know, the kinda bike that would now weigh 29lbs and have 1-2" more travel.

Anyhoo, when I meet up with Emily, Greg, Jason and Todd, I put in my request.  They acquiesce. 

And what follows was a bluebird day in the woods with friends... and as the mountains do often, we ended up bumping into Jacob and his crew off and on all day long from start to finish.

 Quite honestly, this is exactly what I needed.

Super steep climbs on ATV trails along with even steeper chutes and rock tech stuff that I haven't seen in almost two decades.
I've been riding Charlotte way too much this winter, losing what 1,000 yard stare I had for riding long descents at speed. Also, I built the Vasssago Meatplow V.8 for going to the mountains, and I haven't been living up to my part of the bargain.

This halp.

Todd took us up and over and down to an off the beaten path-path promising either the best or at least second best view in North Carolina.

 He also thinks Peanut Butter M&M's are the best M&M's, so his opinion is slightly tainted.

The ride was just long and hard enough to prove that I have a long way to go before I'm Pisgah fit. Honestly, despite my lack of fitness, it was still the bast day I've had in the saddle in such a long, long time.

Also, La Salsas...

According to Greg, this is the first time that he had to walk away from an unfinished, novelty-sized Dos Equis (I won't mention the half a burrito in a to-go bag).

Friday, March 15

Stealing Bread

I was really tossing around the idea of heading to the Croatan Buck Fifty garvel grinder this weekend, but I ended up deciding against it.  It sounds like a hell of a great time, but as the real "season" approaches, I'm feeling the urge to do things more in line with my eventual intentions.  Lots of flat garvel versus some time in the Pisgah (I haven't been there in over a month?)...

I need to get my climbing legs going.

Whilst I've been losing fitness gained from Winter Shart Tarck, my PMBAR partner Watts has done a mountain bike stage race in Israel, a garvel event in Utah, and he's going to the Buck Fifty this weekend.

Last weekend, I rode my bike to a brewery.

And back.

So to say our fitness is probably in two different places right now would be a fair assumption.

In order to gain some rapid fire motivation, Nick "Dip 'n Spray" Barlow and I are teaming up once again for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.  I think this is our fourth go at it?  We've been able to post up twice in the two spot on the podium and fall way short with a fifth a couple years ago.

I'd considered doing this race solo 50+, but it's not like I've been getting the kinda mileage in March that I used to back when six hours in the saddle sounded like something to do in April.  Not to mention, I've really been doing such a terrible job prioritizing events with a 50+ category, so why even pretend to have any focus right now?  Regardless of class (I've done Solo, 40+ Duo, and SS Duo), it always feels like the beginning of the "season" for me.  The race has been going on since '09, and I've been there every year.

Back when I wore white shoes... and raced a rigid single speed with pink wheels.

An incredibly groovy course with a million berms, great people, a lot of my little friends will be there, big payouts (if you can get a spot on the box), and last year there was free beer at the after party?  Still no word if that's coming back tho, but I'll take the risk.  There's still a few spots left, so as people get used to seeing the sun again, be prepared for the event to sell out.  It pretty much always do.

I'm also sorting out my stage race intentions.  If you'd read my last three posts, you'd know that sorting things takes time tho.

The morning after I got us registered for Warrior Creek, I stepped on the scale.

Let's just say (without saying much at all) that I have my work cut out for me. 


I'm an "athlete."

Wednesday, March 13

Enough of That

(in)Soles for days...

Gross?  Mebbe.


I keep old insoles that are in decent condition. I've found some shoes that fit like dog turds with stock insoles that work better with another brand.  I've got SIDIs inside a pair of Mavics, Mavics inside of Pearl Izumis... etc.

Probably still gross tho.

This was the main goal in doing all this (aside from making my eventual death less of a burden on my loved ones):

I've got usable space on my bench again.  No more bits of chain, busted pedals, empty Ziploc bags, almost used paper towel, broken iPhone 6, random lights, stickers... it was almost completely covered and pretty useless as an actual "work" bench.  Would be great if it were slightly higher for working on shit, but... good enough.

I'm definitely not saying that I've gone through 100% of my bits.  There's still a box of stuff full of things that I could probably sell for $10-30 a bit, but... effort.  And what if I need a 70mm stem again (I won't) or find myself wanting 670mm handlebars (nope)?

It's a small box, I swear. 

Oh, and there's this:

Probably the shamiest of the shames.  I see canti-posts, a derailleur mount bolt, a V-brake pad, Marzocchi air pump adapters, three (four?) different standards of crank bolts, Grip Shift cable door covers...

Ever since I moved into the new house and put this toolbox out in the washer closet, I've ignored it, aside from the lower two levels full of household tools... most of them found on the side of the road or "borrowed" from my father.  It's probably time to pitch the entirety of the bike-related contents and just make it a "home owner" tool box.


Mebbe I wait until next year, just in case.

Tuesday, March 12

More Compulsing

Continuing with the sorting and cleaning and pitching and storing of things...

I rarely use a bike computer (do we still call them "cyclometers?), and when I do, it's a really old wireless Cateye Strada.  Yet still, I had computer bits from multiple units in two separate containers and on my pegboard.  No sense in taking up a hook on the wall for the couple times a year I need it handy, I decided to sort what was useful and get it all in one container.

Since I have to familiarize myself with the instructions just about every time I use it, I didn't wanna toss them, but all folded up proper like... too many languages to fit in the tiny storage can.

Wouldn't you know, Cateye felt my pain.

Chop, chop, and in the can... not to be seen again until PMBAR to cover my time piece requirement.

I'm happy and yet still shamey as to how this turned out:

All my tires stored in the same place and in an orderly fashion.  Above it, my rarely used MTB (non-commuter) lights, an almost as rarely used Sawyer filter, chains, Industry Nine spare parts, crank/bottom bracket bits (to include a worn-out Dura Ace loose bearing BB for my tarck bike that I can't bring myself to throw away), fully organized Shimano brake stuff, and a box full of discontinued Backcountry Research straps that I use for all manner of things.  Strapping my puffy coat or a library book to my handlebars, keeping a crank arm stationary for stubborn removals, holding bikes in place on less than optimal car racks... whatever.

This ammo can...

Used to just have gel flasks (that I don't really use?) and chamois cream samples in it.  Kind of a waste, so I recycled a mess of the flasks and put all my PMBAR gear in it, along with backup PMBAR items for people who lose track of whistles, emergency blankets, and ponchos from year to year.

And those chamois creams... ?

Hoarded like an elderly man who keeps dead hearing aid batteries "just in case."  These will come in handy if I keep them more handy, I guess... as opposed to in an ammo can outta reach with other items I never touch.  Mebbe also a good idea to keep the sample embro packs somewhere other than with the chamois creams.

Getting closer...

Monday, March 11

Made hay, no sunshine

Aside from finding out that my car battery was dead right at the beginning of four days where I was expected to be an Uber for my daughter and the doggo, it wasn't all bad.

Up super early on Saturday to get Nia to her ACTs. The rest of the day with Boppit... until it's time to pick Nia up, take her home, take her to work... and then pick her up again at 10:30PM.

So what to do at home with a dog all day long?

How about finally going through all the tiny bits and baubles littering my work bench area? A proper culling has been a long time coming.  Shit that I've been collecting for what I guess would be more than two decades.

Kid makes ashtray.  Parent doesn't smoke.  Parent fills ashtray with all the things.

Such random crap.  More valve caps than I can shake a valve stem at.  Rando bolts, cable clips and sorters.  Washers.  Ear bud mushrooms.  O-rings.  Just a shameful collabo.

I had a small bin of what I'll call "shoe hardware."  Cleat bolts with some life left in them.  Used and new cleat shims.  Almost but not completely trashed toe spikes and the associated tools to insert them into the soles.

For the life of me, I don't remember the shoes this went to or what the tiny end did (does?).  I kept nothing but the new bits... and some spare straps and buckles... and tiny screws... and mebbe some SIDI SRS replaceable sole bits that don't look ded yet.  I'm almost ashamed at how much I kept, but not as ashamed as I am about how much I had collected.

My previously "organized" Shimano bleed and part box.

Jeebus.  How many sets of brakes does this pile represent?  How many olive inserter grabbers did I think I'd need?

Looks like about twenty.  And those UFO looking things.  And the things that keep brake pads apart.  And those piston blocks.  And all the ti hardware.


I assure you I cut it down to reusable hardware and only one spare of the plastic bits.  Mebbe.

Tire levers.
The Park TL-1 levers are my go to for tire installs and removal.  Not the newer TL-1 levers with "PARK TOOL" in the current script tho.  They changed the material they're made with to something shitty and flexy.  The way old ones are the bestest... and they're also the ones covered in latex goo.  The others?  Found or given to me at some point.  I pick them up when I see them in the trail.  Ikinda dig the metal core one.  Maxxis levers get trapped on the bikes to stay sponsor correct, natch.  That Giro multi tool you see in there... dates back to pre-'96.  Ohio days.  I have no idea why I still had it in my possession.

You think that's it?

Of course not.

I can draw this out for a couple more days easy.

Thursday, March 7

Weekends like these...

I picked pretty much the worst possible time (in known history) to turn fifty and enter the era of old people racing.  Yet another weekend coming up where dirt ride possibilities are terribly limited.  Not only am I primary dog/child caregiver starting tonight, it gonna rain.  Again.  Because that's what it do.

And the trainer I bought for The Pie so many years ago continues to collect dust in the murder room/crawl space under the house.  As much as I wanted to be "fast at fifty," I just can't do that to myself.  Bike riding is an outdoor activity.

Nothing against those that train indoors.  They want whatever it is they want much more than I have since some time around 1995 or so when I lived in Ohio.

My best opportunity to get in the saddle will be Sunday.  Unless I wanna cage Boppit and deal with the massive drool cleanup (think Katrina), it's my only window where he can be left outta the crate with some supervision.  It will be warm and moist... but I just cleaned all the unfortunate Watts Fappening related mud off the By:Stickel Beer Fetcher, the obvious bike of choice for around town boredom crushing.

So... yet another thumb-twiddling, navel-gazing weekend on deck.

Hardly training for anything much at all.

Positive note: I'm finally trying to focus on what I might be doing for the months following PMBAR.  Feels good to be making some kinda plan(s).

Also,  Podcasts.

I've been listening to them for years now.  Mostly bike-related at first, then branching out into other interests (I guess I have some).  Anyways, I've been wondering if that's the best thing to be constantly piping into my head.  Without taking quiet times to just think, is there a correlated drop in the tendency to have a creative thought?  Opinion forming?  Crazy idea exploring?  Fantasizing?  Is having voices speaking to you that aren't yours cluttering up the works and keeping things from firing on all cylinders?

Anyone?  Anyone?