Friday, July 25, 2008

Montana De Oro State Park, AKA Kickin' It With Slocaus

Say hi to Tim, AKA Slocaus, on the MTBR forums.

I was going to be in his neck of the woods, that neck being the San Luis Obispo/Morro bay/Los Osos part of Nor Cal, or Central Coast, or whatever it is, and he graciously offered to show me around the place on a fine Wednesday morning. Tim is a fine fellow and a shining example of mountain biker goodness and humanity and we enjoyed a nice 2 hour putt around the hills and valleys of Montana De Oro (MDO) state park on some sweet singletrack.

According to Tim, MDO is an excellent example of how user groups can work together to create fine trails, co-exist respectably and peacefully, and be a huge benefit to funding strapped land managers. CCCMB is the mountain bike group spearheading the hard work to build great trails and great relationships.

MDO sits on the coastline of a beautiful section of the Pacific ocean and offers fine views and decent challenges. More XC in nature, this type of riding is right up my alley.

As you can see, it is a nice place to ride. Tim is a lucky man to have this in his back yard and I was lucky enough to be able to share it with him. Thanks, Slocaus.

A few things:

- the world is a big place and there are lots of places to ride bikes on it.
- most mtn bikers I have met are cool folks.
- the internet is an amazing tool to connect it all together...places, bikes, folks.

Tale of the tape, 11.77 miles, 2172' of climbing, 2 hours of riding and gawking.

LBS Blues.

No not the Mormons, that is LDS. I mean the Local Bike Shop, hence LBS. I am getting set to convert the Karate Monkey to SS, so I need a 20 tooth cog, 2 Stan's valve stems, some Stan's goop, and a 20mm to QR set up for the Hope Pro II front hub.

Now I do shop local as often as it makes sense, usually for tubes, P-bars, lube, etc. I do all my own service, and most big parts are used or ebay or....wait for it...internet retailers. Why is that, $$ compared to $$$ usually, but there is the bigger factor of I want it 'in stock', not 5 days away. My fav click and mortar store is Local to me, so shipping is sometimes next day arrival, and the customer service is superior. And, they have it in stock 99% of the time. Love the blowout prices as well, if the item meets my needs.

There are others, Speedgoat, Pricepoint, Cambria, etc. I like Jenson.

So I already knew I would need to order the hub conversion on line. It would save the blank stare I would get from the LBS tube jockey as I explained the Hope hubs dealie. But the other stuff?...shoot, SS cogs? Stan's valve stems? Stan's sealant? Should be locally purchasable.

Off I go on my fool's errand.

First shop had sealant, nothing else. Kind of a roadie based shop, but they have a decent sales floor. Past experience says slow to order parts.

Second shop is a funky groove kind of mtn bike shop. I know they do SS only rides, so I went there. I asked about the cog and the owner starts diggin' into a box of used parts. Not a good sign. No cog, but one valve stem only, not sure if it will fit the rim/yellow tape setup. Never asked about the sealant.

Third shop has a great inventory, really a good neighborhood bike shop, not high end. No to all of the parts I needed.

Fourth shop a 3O min drive from me. A Pro level shop IMO, but no luck, or in the sister store 60 min away.

Hmmmm. To the net. Jenson has everything but the valve stems and they actually have 2 of the three kinds, but not the one model I need. SO, I will need to call Stan's No Tubes for that part. The rest, a slam dunk and I will have them in 2 days, I bet.

I tried, really I did. What's a guy to do? I guess I am either too spoiled OR too educated. Not sure which, maybe both.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Suffering is fun?

During a conversation the other day about the 40 Something ride I did earlier this year, the guy asked me how I felt during the ride. "It was fun", I said. He just looked at me with the oddest expression and said, "FUN???", "How could that be fun? It was over 100 degrees when you finished a 7 hour ride!"

Huh. It had never occurred to me that it was anything but fun. Well, obviously it was painful and just a bit crazy, almost to the point of 'Danger Will Robinson' heat exhaustion/heat stroke/melting into a pile of goo kind of crazy.

But it was then, and remains now, fun. And that makes me a bit puzzled about me. You know the way your dog cocks his head to one side, lifts his ears a bit, and just goes, "say what?". That look applies here as well.

When I was fighting cramps for the last 2 hours of an endurance race, knowing full well that I had more to go, pushing uphill into 40 mph headwinds cuz I had long run out of gears on my 1x9, I was suffering pretty nicely, thank you. Still, I had a good time.

Weird, huh. No one outside of my cycling friends get it, and even some of them are not so sure. I have to admit it puzzles me as well, I mean why does one willingly place themselves in that kind of situation, suffer, and then sign up to do it again?

Not sure I understand it all myself. I know I get a great deal of satisfaction from it. Some of it is foolish pride in being able to do what others cannot or will not do. But that cannot be all of it. It does not explain what is going on inside when I am all alone out there suffering and digging deep, no one to notice how brave I am, no one to impress but lizards and such.

Weird, but great all the same, great not just because it makes my like richer, but also because that God given trait of mankind that makes us strive, suffer, and push ourselves has made for a richer human experience that we all are a part of, even the ones that will never do more than shake their head and wonder about the crazy folks who do hard things.

I like hard things. And, I like that about me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Hoops, Part Deux

Deux = Two

French, ya know. Gettin' all international on ya there. Must be all the Tour De France watching I have been doing.

Well, remember what I was saying about the new wheels for the SS Monkey? How I was going to stay all cheap and simple? Well, change of plans. It had occurred to me that in the future I wanted to upgrade the wheels on the Lev. They had been bought for the KM with the option of being transferred to the FS. Check! Done that. They are good wheels actually, DT Swiss Onyx hubs, DT Swiss TK7.1 rims and a nice hand build. Not real light or flashy, but pretty darn good everyday wheels.

But, in the semi-near future, I want to upgrade the fork on the Lev to the new Reba with a 20mm Qr, the Maxle Light. The bigger wheels do stress the fork/frame interface a bit more and at my weight and size, I think the 20mm is the way to go. However, that requires a new front hub since the Onyx cannot be converted from QR to 20mm.

Well, if I could get a new front wheel with a hub that could be run either way, I could use it now on the Lev and be ready for the new fork next year. The best hub in the mix now for that is the Hope Pro II, decent cost, light weight, and very easy to swap over.

So as I mentioned the other option was to upgrade the Lev wheels now and move the DT wheels back to the SS Monkey. Yeah, they are disc hubs, but that just gives me options in the future as well. So, I needed to spend about $300.00 dollars for the build on the SS wheels OR go the whole hog route and spend more for the long term plan. Trouble was, my immediate budget was $400.00. No much headroom for fancy wheels, but if I was patient and had a keen eye, maybe I could find a nice set of used wheels.

I really had a hankering for a Chris King rear hub. Not sure why. Just do. But, to find a used wheelset with a Hope front hub and a King rear hub with tubeless ready rims...oh yeah, I wanted to be ready for easy tubeless coversion, I mean why not?...finding that combo could be a challenge.

So, I watched the classifieds and eBay. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I had almost grabbed the LX hubs I had on my desk and headed to the bike shop to get them built but I was having rim decision issues. Good thing I was waffling.

Just after hanging up the phone from talking to the nice folks at Stan's Rims about the ZTR355 for the SS build, I checked the MTBR classifieds one more time. Well, hey...looky there...wheels. Hope Pro II hubs, Stan's Flow rims and Sapiem spokes. How much? $400.00 shipped. Oh baby. Pay Pal and they are mine. So, plan deux is fully in action. Another $25.00 for the conversion pieces to get to QR and I am ready for the future.

The Hope Pro II rear hub is actually lighter than the King hub AFAIK, but it certainly is lighter than the Onyx hub due to the alloy freehub on the Hope. I will save 25Gs per rim and even more weight savings if I go tubeless, and I certainly will with the Flow rims making that simple. One thing I am not so crazy about is that the Hope rear hub is a noisy fella, quite the 'clacking' going on back there. Well, I guess I will just turn the iPod up a bit more.

Anyway, come on Big Brown Santa. Bring me baby's new shoes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Man stuff: Camping, Riding, Eating. The Good Life.

The First Annual Iron Men Camp-and-Ride weekend is in the books. The Iron Men dealie is a list of Christian guys I know who all like to get out and ride as often as we can, but life and all its pressures and obligations can make that hard to do. So, I set aside a weekend where we could get away from all that, camp, ride, eat, take power naps, etc.

We camped at Mt Pinos in the Los Padres National Forest. The singletrack that runs through the forest there is very fine and is a challenging climb if you decry the shuttle and ride up to earn the DH. Some of our group are training for a tour in the Colorado high country, so the 7 to 8 thousand foot elevations and miles of climbing would get them just a bit fitter for the upcoming trip.

We camped nearly by ourselves on a beautiful evening and following day. We had Joe W., Phil C., and myself camping. Joe's brother Dan came up to join us, camping next door, and Stan the Man would meet us for the ride on Sat AM.

The next morning we loaded up and drove down to the bottom of the trail. The plan was to ride up McGill, Harvest, Southridge, and then to the summit of Mt Pinos, then turn around and zoom back to the truck. I figured around 3-4 hours of riding. McGill Trail is around 3 miles and is a granny ring shocker right from the truck. It gets easier in the last mile, but it can humble ya if you come up with a flatlander's big ol' ego and pin it from the parking area. Yipes! No air up here.

From here, we continued moving up the series of trails and kept on climbing. At the end of the second trail, Stan the Man, who had been running late to meet us, caught up to us and the five of us carried on. Stan was looking fit. Must be sneak training. I will point out that we are a...a how shall I say it, a 'mature' group. No young'uns here, but 40 is the new 30 and 50+ is just getting warmed up! The meadow at Chula Vista campground was beautiful and the Lupine was taller than my saddle height.

We kept on up to the very summit of Mt Pinos, 8845', and the view was definitely worth it. A bit of picture taking, some food intake, and we were ready to go. Stan is getting a jump on us here and is playing catch me if you can. I never caught Stan until we regrouped. Fast, old dude, that Stan.

Down we went, no crashes, no mechanicals, just great stuff. I ran into a bunch of shuttle monkeys on big-hit bikes and decided to play catch up on the trail section out of Chula Vista. This is one section of trail that has very clear views down the trail so speeds can be much higher here, and it is much more techy with root jumps, ruts, etc. They had a head start, but I caught the last guy, even with my 29er XC geek bike and all. Still not too old I guess, this Vintage Rider. Here Dan defies gravity for a brief bit and scares the camera man all at the same time.

It was a great day on the mountain, the campground was nearly empty, the weather was warm and the trails were sweet. 15 miles, 7.5 up, 7.5 down, 4134' of climbing.

God is good.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Vacation Part 3: The Kid and I

Well, I finally got to ride with my son. We were to do that in Tahoe, but we cut that stay short and moved over to the eastern side of the Sierras in hope of clearer skies.

We ended up in Grover Hot Springs State Park. Simply wonderful place to camp.

Real mineral hot springs, incredible meadows, a hike to waterfalls, and a made to order doubletrack that wound through the trees along the valley edge. Swoopy, smooth and nearly level, my son had a blast and I had tons of fun watching him have fun.

We did the family hike thingy and even the dog enjoyed the coolness of the water after a dusty and hot walk.

I think I like meadows. I really am keen to do some bikepacking next year and camp in this type of area more often. The soil was warm, the grass green, the buzzy things were buzzing and the 'cheeseburger' birds were sounding their call. Self portrait of feet in boots, in the meadow at sunset.

From there, we headed down 395 to Twin Lakes Resort, Bodie, and then on home. Nice week away.