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.

Tuesday, April 18

Not My Plan

Whilst I was in Bike Source on Saturday, Bryan invited me to join him and a group of mostly strangers for a Heartbreak/Kitsuma loop... starting at 10:00AM on Sunday.

"You're never gonna get a big group to go up Kitsuma after Heartbreak with that late of a start."

"Yes, we will."


I lightly agree to go, assuming I can get someone in the car with me.  I've promised a ride with a certain Charlotte somebody in the mountains, but I'm afraid this won't be his kinda ride.  Late start, unknown individuals, Kitsuma probability levels below 40% (IMHOMO).

Then the start gets moved to 11:00AM.  The ride start location moves from the lower East side Kitsuma parking to the upper West side.  For those of you not from around here, this makes the bleak even bleaker.

I get Bill Nye to join me regardless of what might happen, and I'm scooping him at 9:00AM.  A time that I would normally want to actually be starting this bike ride...

But when you jump in on someone else's plan, the only thing you can complain about is your own stupid ass for not coming up with a plan.

I manage to take the time to put the Minion DHR+ on the Vertigo because it's a lot easier than what I'd have do in order to make the Stickel rideable.  I'm too lazy to swap the 32X18 gear out before I go to bed, but I manage to get up at my normal geriatric hour, and with so much time on my hands, I go ahead and put on a much more manageable 32X20.

Scoop Bill Nye, drive to Black Mountain talking about tiny homes, rally in the upper lot with most of the others, wait for the two people that still thought we were meeting in the lower lot, rolling by 11:30AM, if I had to guess.

Through Ridgecrest and onto Rattlesnake in a way that I've never been.  Almost make it up without walking, but then get to the part I always forget about and end up hoofing it.  From there, much regrouping, taking in the views...

but once we get close to the top, I put my head down and go.  I need to start figuring how close to PMBAR shape I am.

Get to the top and wait.

BTW: Barnbus.  Dammit.

I was here with him once.   Feels like yesterday.

Eventually, we head down and I take pretty much the backseat on the Fire Hose section from the top.  On to Heartbreak proper and not too far down before Bryan puts a big dinger in his front rim.  Out come a variety of tools, none of which were designed for the task at hand.  Eventually, he has something that looks like he won't have to walk the rest of the way out.

We rally down, and I am much excite over actually getting to use this 3.0 tire for the reason I wanted it.  So much rigid buenos.  Inspired by the grippy confidence, I was able to clean the one switchback on Star Gap that I'm prone to walk... as I've fallen off the edge once in the past, and once was enough.  So, so buenos.

Pop out at the bottom, make quick work of the climb out, get to the upper lot at 4:07PM.

Yeah, Kitsuma is not happening for me.

Eventually everyone rolls in and the only ones heading back out are the folks from Asheville.  I'm jealous, but not jealous enough that I wanna get home after 8:00PM.

3,800 feet of climbing in 21 or so many miles* after the previous day's slog around town was plenty for me.

*  There were Garmins and STRAVA for days on this ride.  Bill Nye wowed me with data on the way home.

Monday, April 17

Rogue Pun

Saturday.  I needed miles.  Wanted to end my day at the Spoke Easy swap meet to get some flat bars for my tarck bike project.  Lacking direction or goals, I revert to some of the route from the Tour duh Charlotte.

Leave out the house towards the big buildings.  Get to the center of the city (because I like to repeat my work commute on my day off) and turn left.  Head to Southwest District Park with my STRAVA running the whole time.  Pull out my phone and see that my battery has dropped 10% in 8 miles.  Turn of STRAVA.  Guess there's not much need in knowing how far I'm riding if I know where I'm going, no more, no less.

One lap.  I consider two, but since I've got no idea if I'm going further than I would want since I didn't plan this all too well.  One's good enough.

Head over to our unmaintained non-trail from the Tour duh Charlotte, Amay James.  Hop into the woods.  Man, this is a great trail for not really being a trail at all.  It's a shame that nature is probably going to reclaim it... again.

Meh.  Came to a giant downed pine tree (they hate me).  Limbs everywhere, and the tree managed to take out a live tree with it, muchly compounding the issue.  Shoulda carried my pocket saw.  Consider leaving it,  but decided to give it an earnest effort.  Twenty minutes and one bloody nose later, the I managed to reduce the face high pile of angry dead tree to something less irritating.

Not sure if all the effort was worth it, since I've got no idea if anyone else will ever ride it before this place looks like the Jurassic Park facilities in the first sequel

A couple laps out there and then head over to Renni.  Immediately run into Good Guy Greg and Chronic.  They were out their doing the Lord's work... making Renni great again.  Then run into Rocky... which meant this was a logical time to break out my pepperoni and Dale's lunch and share.

And then run into the much larger crew... Emily, Hubbs, Big and Buttery... some other folks.

photo cred: B&B
They invited me to have some trail work pizza and at first I was all "no," but then I saw it and smelled it and was all like "yeth, please."

BTW:  I'm super stoked on what's going on out at Renni.  One of the oldest trails we have in the area.  Chopped down by development on this side and that.  Mileage lost.  Some broken into vehicles... next thing you know, it gets dropped out of the rotation for most people.  Too many other trails with more mileage on a "better side" of town.  An embarrassment of dirt riches.

Not for much longer tho.  A group of dedicated individuals are working to bring this place back up in the rankings.  They've gotten Parks and Recs to give us a whole bunch more land to work with, and soon(ish), Renni will be a place to go to again.

I digress.

Grab my slice and head out.  Next stop, Bike Source.  Grab some gels (mostly for The Pie), get a refund on some helmet pads I ordered that are never going to come (thanks, Specialized), end up walking out with a sweet crabon Easton CT2 3° 580mm bar... which ironically is the same crabon bar I bought back in the early 2000s.  So, no reason to go the swap meet... other than beer, people and watching the yutes "jam" on the tiny bikes.

And also on city B Cycles.

Spend as much money on beer as I did the crabon bars, ride home, feel exhausted, shower, grab a beer, head to the hammock for a nap... and then my family comes home.

So, no nap.

Later that evening, I end up falling asleep watching Rogue One for the first time.  I didn't see the ending, so don't spoil it for me.

Friday, April 14

I could stick my head up a butcher's ass...

It was not an easy purchase.  I can be cheap.  Thrifty... when it comes to certain things.

Like the other night.  My cable end had fallen off my drooper post cable behind my Wolftooth ReMote lever.  The cable was fraying, and I'd already managed to twirl it back into place and get it into a cable end once.

But not this time.  It was a ratty mess.

So, I cut the frayed end off, saw that it was pretty darn close to still being a functional length, released as much cable as possible from the drooper end... and still came up a dollar (or two) short.

And then I just went ahead and installed the $2.00 cable that was on my work bench bought for this very purpose.

Time wasted?  About fifteen minutes (not including the ten purposeful minutes installing the new cable).

So anyways, the purchase I'd made.

I bought a Lindarets Belltower.

Their image, not mine... the orange bit is the Belltower.

My Spurcycle bell has not always played friendly-like with my handlebar accouterments, the most recent battle being when I installed my TOGS.

I had already constructed one shim to clear my brake lever out of a hunk of titanium handlebar shim material that I found in my toolbox.  The TOG required a slightly thicker shim, so more time spent trying to piece something together and hold it in place while tightening the tiny bolt and holding the rubber feet in place...

It was an endeavor only worthy of exerting on a $60 bell (glad I kickstarted this, because I would probably never pay $110+ shipping on a couple bells).

Anyways, my homemade shim was admittedly shitty, and I've had to mess with it a couple times when swapping my cockpit around.  Let's say that the time I've invested in reinstalling my bell (including digging through my toolbox, picking dropped shit up off the floor, running upstairs to grab another beer, etc) would total well over an hour.

How much should I be charging myself for labor?

$6.95 for a piece of 3D printed plastic, plus $4.99 in shipping...add in another $1.88 to rush the whole process along... because at that point, why not spend another $2?

This showed up in short order (thanks to that extra $2):

Yeth, that tiny bit of plastic in a Ziploc bag with bubble wrap in a giant box.  Sigh.

Not that I needed to, but because it's who I am, I put it on that night when I got home form work.

Clearance, Clarence.

Let me tell you, it went on about one thousand times more easier than anything I had concocted thus far.

One of the key features is this tiny hole that allows a place for the bolt to go as you tighten down the retaining band.

Something I've struggled to get right with some (but not all) of my shims.

Mebbe you know someone with a 3D printer and the time to figure all the details out.  Mebbe you don't have conflicting interests in your handlebar real estate.  Mebbe you don't even have an artisanal bell (you should tho).  Mebbe you stopped reading this post somewhere after I mentioned being too cheap to use a $2 cable.

But mebbe you're like me and your anal compulsion does not allow for half-assery when it comes to your bikes.  I'm not sure what it is about the new placement of the bell, but I've got a certain amount of sustain in the ring that wasn't there before I installed the Belltower.

I have theories, but that's about as much as I can write about a $6.95 piece of plastic (that cost me $13.82).  Ask me over a beer (that you pay for) and I'll tell you how sound waves and their relative exposure to quarks might affect bell sound quality.

Wednesday, April 12


I decided sometime back to get a new saddle.  I'd been happy with the Specialized Phenom for the past two or three years, so I went to order a new one... but the design had changed.  I bought it anyways.

In short order, some fancy aesthetic bullshit started peeling off (I blame baggies), and I was disappoint.  There were other issues.  Single speeder problems.

Oh well.  Time to find a saddle from a different manufacturer.

The Ergon SMR3 Pro looked sweet as far as profile and weight goes, but white was no longer available through any distributor that my LBS deals with normally.  A possible Face Friend brah hookup (on white) is no bueno.  Blech only.  I turned to the devil that is mail order.  I ordered a ti railed saddle which is more expensive than the crabon railed one... because I was confused by Thomson's carbon specific clamps... and alternative news.

Then I found better information that wasn't on the Thomson site, liked the saddle enough to order another one with crabon rails so more saddles on more bikes and then a very kind individual at my LBS surrendered a SME3 MTB Enduro™ Series saddle to me and now I have this:

I have been fully Ergon Ass-Similated.

The shape and size looked right.  Once mounted on my drooper post part, it felt right.  A few rides in, and all I could think was that this saddle is downright... innocuous.

I don't know how else to describe it.  It just became a nothing that my butt part did rest upon.

The nose doesn't snag my baggies and my sit bones are in a good place.  The nose is plenty comfortable for scooching up on when hitting steep climbs.

My coworkers don't understand why I weigh bike parts.  I don't understand why they don't understand.  I should just be allowed to liberate this unused, dusty hunk of office machinery and give it a good life full of purpose.

My old Phenom "weighted" around 270 grams (weighed at home with slightly less accurate scale), so that's a sweet chunk of pork gone without even trying.

Also, for me, this is a buneo:

The underside of the nose is pleasantly free of any harsh edges that dig into my shoulder when I go into full scramble hike-a-bike mode with the saddle resting on my shoulder.  I tend to do this when things get steep enough that I want a hand free to grab stuff or when it's too tight to roll the bike next to me.

More single speeder problems, I know.

Still, this saddle only gets my Seal of Semi-Approval.

Something tells me that the blowout prices on the white carbon (and the lack of a stocking distributor) means that they aren't gonna bother making them anymore.  And I like white saddles.  Because... burrito.  I like this saddle enough that I ordered another one yesterday.  So, hooray for making a saddle I love and boo for making a saddle that looks like it won't be made anymore.

BTW:  I gotta a lot of these Phenoms in a pile...

So if you want one cheap, holler at me.  Two old school, one newer school, looking for a good home.  Ti rails, all of them.  White, natch. Will trade for toy instruments and toy instrument lessons.