Friday, January 30, 2009
But despite my lack of interest in all things field/court sports related, I am being tasked with working this Sunday to keep things happy in case issues crop up with the game (I work for a communications company). So no big rides for me. I will get out, perhaps both days, but they have to be shorter rides. I will take the SS for maximum results.
Besides, the Lev needs a near total breakdown and check-up after Camp Lynda 2.0 and the giant sand and grit polishing machine that the St G. desert laid down that weekend. I also need to re-fit the zippy Carbon Edge wheels for continued testing.
Besides, besides, my back is very cranky right now. In fact, some times I can barely move or breath without wincing in pain, then, a bit later I am pretty mobile. I seem to be able to ride, but a long day over rough terrain may be a bit over the top.
I hope that the weekend finds you on a bike in some form or another. And, if you actually watch that Superbowl thing, drop me a line and let me know who won the match.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
- St G. has a lot of great riding. I was very surprised how good it really was. Not just wide open sage covered hills, but Moab-ish sandstone, shale canyons, buff stuff, big expanses, lots of fine grained, red-devil sand....mercy.
- There are a lot of Daves who ride long miles on mtn bikes and I think they were all here for Camp Lynda. I lost count and it got really confusing, so I just called any guy I was talking to by the name of Dave and I was usually right.
- I love riding in new areas. One of the best things about this type of non-event event is just seeing new country and riding a bike over it. Sweet.
- There are a lot of fast folks who ride bikes and I am not one of them.
- I survived. Actually, I felt really good, but missing Day 2 helped a lot. It pushed my limits a bit in that I had never done that kind of mileage on a mtn bike over that short a time...about 120 miles in 3 days. It continues to open my eyes to what can be done with some regular training/riding and hard work.
- Everyone I met was friendly and there were no big egos that I could see. That is a nice change from some other cycling groups I have been around (cough, cough...roadies...cough, cough...XC racers...nuff said)
- Rides like this make me think of the next big goal or big ride. Of course, it is all about Vision Quest till March, but then? I need to do a hundred mile off road ride. That would be epic for me and is a good goal, I think.
- Weather. Bad weather. I don't ride in bad weather. I live in So Cal. I just need to wait a day or so and ride then. Getting up early and beginning a ride in the rain, riding for 4-6 hours in the rain, and finishing in the rain was a new experience for me. Ya know what, despite the toll it takes on the bike, it was pretty fun.
Last night I was talking about the trip and my wife asked, "Would you do it again?"
Yep. As long as someone named Dave is there.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
About 30 ish at my last count, but stragglers came trickling in late. It was so cool to meet Lynda and Dave as well as Jeff Kerkove, Fixie Dave, Grizzly Adam, Sonya Looney, and others I recognized from the blogs and MTBR postings. There were a lot of big wheels in the lot as 29ers were more the rule than the exception. I think this fits very well into the mindset of the endurance crowd and the sand and the rocks of St G. are 29er country IMO. There were quite a few SS riders too. I was, without a doubt, out classed in speedi-ness with this group.
What followed was a mix of singletrack through sandy desert and some powerline jeep roads. T-Bone Hills, Church Rocks, and Prospector trails were the course according to Lynda. I really never knew where we were most of the time, but it was easy to follow the 25 sets of tire tracks ahead of me. This is beautiful country. I stopped to take a pic or two and everyone I had passed on the downhills passed me back. Sigh! Well, I am looking at this more as an adventuring tourist and many of the riders are dressed to kill, no Camelbaks, barely even a jacket among them. And, some of the riders here are first class fast people, no doubt. Even if I stripped to the bare minimum and took no pics, I would just have seen fading taillights. So, I set my own pace and others did the same. The front pack was pretty tight but the rest of us were strung out in the rain, pedaling.
At one point, some unlucky soul had piled it up on one of the rocky downhills on the powerline road and folks were busy helping him straighten his front wheel and get his wits about him.
Once I hit the Church Rocks area it was a hoot. It is kind of a blur, but I think the Prospector Trail is what we were on. Very Moab-ish. Slickrock and winding singletrack with some flow, some tech, and all fun. This is some of my favorite kind of riding and I have always been a decent techy rider. The 29er wheels just eat this stuff up. You can see from the arrow where the trail went (rider gives it scale).
This rider was stopped, perhaps hoping for GPS guidance on finding the right path through the rock. "Pleeeze, little GPS....heeeelp meee"
I ran into KT as he was coming off the side of the main trail having sampled some extra-curricular routes (he got lost). There were cairns everywhere on the slickrock sections, so it was easy to put a wheel on the wrong path. Usually I was able to keep a rider in sight and stay on course. A lot of the time I was either behind or just in front of Fixie Dave. If he is Slower Than Snot, what am I? Hard to say, but to anyone that can do that ride on a rigid, fixed bike on flat pedals, he or she has my vote.
At around 18 miles by my reckoning, we ran into the main pack as we were having a snack break. They were coming back out after hitting the clay soil about 2 miles up the trail.
I guess we were not that far off of the leaders. We turned it around too. On the way back I was poking along and was passed on a steep, ledgy climb by a big guy on an SS. It was Brad Keyes. I was amazed at the power gettin' put down to the ground. I could barely make it on the geared bike. Some people can really hammer and I can see that I have only a fraction of the skill and fitness of a really top rider. Sonya Looney was wearing this absolutely huge Ergon pack, the new epic sized one. KT asked her about the Winnebago-sized pack and she laughed, saying it was all part of product testing. You go, girl.
Today, the rain combined with too much clay and just shut my bike down before the real ride even started. Some other riders turned around too, and Ed the Tall called it a day as well. About 30 minutes of poking at our muddy bikes with sticks got us rolling on the pavement till we found a pressure washer at a coin op car wash. A bunch of folks continued on and I understand the course got very fun just a bit farther up the road. Ah well. The $100 ride was just too fresh in my mind to go through that again. I hate giving up on a ride, but I really hate tearing up my bike just for the sake of being stubborn.
Tomorrow is another day, but the rain is really narrowing down the route opportunties.
Well, pics and details when I get home.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The weather keeps flipping around so there is now a chance of rain on Thurs/Fri, but only 30%. I imagine we can stand a bit of moisture before things get sticky. I also imagine that the CL 2.0 folks have plans for that as well.
I am taking the Lev, of course, and the old wheels, not the zippy carbon wheels I have been testing. Why? Tubeless. Apparently the chief export of St George is goathead thorns. So, it was either spend some bucks on Slime tubes for the carbon wheels (and take a weight hit, I imagine)or just run the Stan's rims. I doubt I would ever have much use for the Slime tubes again so it seemed kinda wasteful. I swapped to the Captain Controls 2.2 both front and rear. It is a fast rolling tire and the low profile knobs and the full casing make for a good desert tire IMO. I also will bring the wheels off of the SS Monkey for spares and the Mtn King 2.4s will be on standby if the weather does get muddy.
This will be a great trip for the Deuter pack. The GPS is mandatory and a camera of course. The clothing is packed for cold to cool temps. I have a ghetto-fab plan for keeping my toes warm. Keeping my fingers (or toes) crossed about that. I plan to eat real food, no power bars or gels. I have been weaning myself off of costly packets of synthesized goodness and running on oatmeal cookies, Snickers bars, trail mix, etc. So far so good. I will bring Accelerade in a bottle for each ride. I have had good luck with that on long rides. S Caps will help with cramps. Of course, Fluid will be there for after ride recovery.
Other than that, it will be just like any other day in the saddle. And any day spent in the saddle can't be too bad.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Today's total: Just under 50 miles, just under 6 hours, and just under 7000' of climbing. No pics, not really a scenic ride other than the fact it was a spectacular day in So Cal, temps in the 60s/70s, breezy and visibility for like 1000 miles.
I'm tired, but I was able to sustain energy throughout the day and put down some power even in the last hour of the ride. That bodes well for CL 2.0 and, more importantly, Vision Quest in March. One thing is for sure, I will be glad to get past VQ and back to riding just for fun and not for training all the time. I don't know how the racers do it.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last night I went out on the SS Monkey for the typical Thursday night spin. It began with a 30 minute climb up a long, paved hill. Except for a dozen pedal strikes or so, I stood the whole time and never felt like it was too much effort.
Now, I don't say this to toot my own, anemic horn, but rather to point out yet another advantage of training on an SS vs. a geary. I noticed this on a recent and, for me, rare road ride where I actually got the REAL road bike out of the rafters and eschewed dirt for the day. It is old school gearing, no compact stuff, just 7 speed from days of yore. I stand a lot to get the hils done and to save the knees. On this ride I could feel the last few months of SSing come into play as one hill after another fell behind my wheels. How cool is that?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The bad part was, not only was it a cold wind, it was blowing huge amounts of ash into the air from the recent May Canyon fire. It is hard to see from this pic, but the burned area up ahead was a dust bowl of nasty airborne particulates. Once I made it though this, I would have been climbing even higher into the huge winds, completely exposed over miles of climbing. Yuck.
So, I changed my plans, hooked up with some buddies that I met at the trailhead, and planned for a more sheltered loop that included some choice singletrack.
Now, as we did the first hour long climb, I had the oddest feeling that I was pedaling a Barcalounger up the steep dirt road. There were other things too. Odd things. I had been raising my seat a bit here and there. I thought it was slipping. I also was finding myself sliding forward in the saddle to get up moderately steep pitches and fighting the bars a bit for control. Hmmm.
Anyway, off we went down a fabulous singletrack. I found myself being a bit off my line, correcting a bit more than I was used to as I dropped my way into the oak covered canyon. Not that it was ridiculous or anything as I was in complete control. I just figured that I had been spending so much time on the SS Monkey that I was getting used to the quicker handling hardtail. After all, I had barely been on the Lev the last 3 months, choosing the SS over the FS for most of my rides.
I also noticed the wheel flop when I was working my way up the creekbed trail, especially when pedaling out of the saddle. That was odd. I know that the Lev really should have a fork with more offset, but I was beginning to feel like the blush was off the rose. Was I just not happy with the Lev any more? I found myself thinking about a possible FS frame replacement as I finished the loop back into town.
I said goodbye to my pals, ate a Snickers bar, and headed up the climb for another loop. The way up was a repeat assault into the wind, and one hour later I was there again. I ate a bit more trail mix and walked over to where the May Canyon fire hit the ridgeline. This is just above the mobile home park where around 500 homes were lost. This was a hot fire and it left little behind.
I brought my Deuter pack for this ride as it has become my default choice for longer days where I need to be self sufficient. This has been a great purchase and I am still very pleased with the way it rides on my back, even loaded to capacity.
I dropped down the singletrack again and immediately noticed the way the back end of the bike was smacking me around pretty good. Very harsh. Odd again. I also was having issues getting the front der to shift up to the middle ring, like it was catching on something or a housing was fouled. I stopped, pulled on the cable at the TT with my fingers and the der seemed to move freely. I figured the last mud ride had gotten some grit into the housing section just out of the shifter. Another legacy of the $100 Dollar Ride.
At the bottom, I stopped to check to see what was up with the harsh feeling back end and the shifting issue. I looked at the rear shock air pressure and it seemed normal. Then, I noticed something. The seatstay bridge was rubbing on the front der cable at the back of the seat tube. Whaaaa??? There is no way that Devin designed this frame to run that way. What gives here? Then I backed up and took another look at the shock. I only had about 1" of freeshaft showing. That did not seem right to me.
So, I finished the ride carefully, loaded up and went home to investigate. I removed the shock from the bike and the linkage dropped back to the fully open position. Now THAT looked more normal. The seatstay bridge was nowhere near the der cable. I deflated the shock and it would not move. Hmmm...seems like it should move now. I inserted a screwdriver into one shock eye, stood on the screwdriver with both feet, and pulled up on the top shock eye with another screwdriver. No way. Oh oh.
I took the can off of the shock following the Fox factory instructions and found one of the seals on the inside of the shock had come out of its groove and was lodged tight in between the can and the shock shaft. Aha! I popped off the can, reset the seemingly undamaged o-ring/wiper into its happy home, cleaned the dirty oil out of the shock, poured a bit of clean fork oil into the can and screwed it back together.
Now it moved like it should. It held air, so back on it went. The difference in the placement of the linkage and the amount of freeshaft on the shock was amazing. Looking at the pics, you can see the groove in the seatstay bridge where it was hitting the cable just riding along. That was how far the linkage had collapsed. The o-ring is sitting about where the shock had compressed to and stayed there. In fact, if you look at the pic of the Deuter pack and the Lev against the tree (see above) you can see the shock in the stuck down position.
It got me thinking about the times I read on the net where folks are debating 29er geometry. You know the guy, he is wondering if the extra 2.5mm of the taller headset will mess up his handling and ruin his finely tuned machine. Hogwash. What do you think my head angle was? Under 70 degrees I bet. Maybe 69? 67? Who knows. Now it was not great, as I did notice it, and there were some some bad handling characteristics, but the fact that I was having a good time riding anyway does lead to some conclusions:
1) A rider, over time, will adapt to what the bike needs to get down the trail well. While there may be a 'perfect' setting for everything, the window of 'still pretty darn good' is huge.
2) I am pretty sure this happened gradually over time. If the bike had just changed all of a sudden, I would have noticed it.
3) Either that, or I am completely numb about anything bike-handling wise and my opinion is worthless. Pick one.
So, the day was actually quite excellent in that I was able to fix the boo-boo, I ended up with 4 hrs of riding and about 5K of up-ness, and I survived the wind. Not too bad at all.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Some quick impressions:
At first I was stymied by the deep V rim and the lack of presta valve stick-out that they provided. A call to GT and he reminded me that he included these little presta valve extenders in the box he shipped the wheels in. Oh yeah...that is what those little black things are. Now that was a bit of a pain to deal with. What if they get lost, fall off, etc? What about if the tube slips in the rim and the valve gets crooked enough to not allow the extender to fit in there anymore? Could that happen? Seems like.
Mounting the tires was not real inspiring as the rim was an OK fit, kinda loose, but not as bad as the DT Swiss 7.1s are. Not near as tight a fit as the Stan's Flows.
It is a narrow-ish rim, especially compared to the Flows. I lost over a 1/4" of casing width on the Captain compared to the Flow mounted tire.
Weight advantage compared to the tubeless Flow/Hope combo I have (with the same type tires, no QRs or cassette): just less than 100 grams per wheel/tire combo. Significant savings or not?
The American Classic hub feels very smooth and spins muuuuch easier than the draggy Hope hub and freehub combo. It does look like a narrower (although taller) flange though. I slipped a caliper guage between the spokes at the first cross point and it was measurable.
So, we shall see if they knock me out when I ride them. So far I am just so-so about them.
Besides that, the 100 Dollar Ride continues to mess with me. I bent the 34T cog a bit on the cassette. A bit of work with a crescent wrench fixed that. Otherwise I would have had to upgrade the cost of the ride. Sigh.
The Santa Ana winds are back, roaring across So Cal, dessicating the hills and valleys. This Sat I need to get in a pretty long ride and anywhere I had planned to go will be feeling the rage of these high winds. Ugh. At least it will be warm, likely near 80 degrees by Sunday. Nice, that.
Well, the rest of the week was not too significant. I did get another good night ride on the new lights and they are still working well. In fact, two friends want some lights now after seeing the result.
Till the weekend....
go ride a bike.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I hear it most loudly when I look at stuff like Camp Lynda or the Arizona Endurance Series and many other unofficial endurance events. I really like the idea of this type of grassroots ride. I am no endurance stud so the 120 mile stuff is out of my range, at least for now. But, there is that 50 to 100 mile range that has a lot of appeal for me. It is hard enough to test you but not so hard that it is beyond the fitter weekend warrior. It is still fun, but has me wondering if I can make it. That is a great combo!
I hear the whispers again when I get into good shape and want to take advantage of it before the summer lazys set in and it gets too hot. I am hearing it right now.
It says, "We need a local epic ride".
No doubt. I have recently discussed this with KT and he is all about it as well. Now, I have put on a ride that I used to consider epic, but it really is just sorta long and fairly hard at 45 miles and some pretty good gain overall. The biggest knocks against it are, that it is a point to point ride and it has no singletrack in it. I think it has run its course.
But where to go? I do so appreciate the parts of the country that have large, open sections of land that beg for big, random, loops of riding. We have a lot of riding, but it typically is very digital and is along strings of rugged mountains, jutting out between heavily populated valleys. Big loops are a bit harder to do and will guarantee lots of climbing, and often the return route is hazy as there may be only one road across the ridgelines.
So, I have been running some routes by KT as he lives in a valley that is surrounded by three mountains, all on public land. Come late spring/early summer, and, if the winter is mild, maybe we can get it figured out. If so, I would love to finally have a great, local epic ride that would be worth traveling to. Who knows, maybe it could become a classic (just like me...HAH!).
So, I think that I have a basic plan in mind, and God willing, maybe I can finally have an answer for those whispering voices in my head. Well, at least THOSE voices. As far as the others go....that is another story.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
We wandered about the countryside on one of my favorite under 3 hour training rides. It is a typical So Cal fireroad with a bit of pavement thrown in and some singletrack. It is like a big interval session and on the SS, hurts very well. thank you. The day looks sunny and harmless, but it does not show the cutting wind, cold and nasty, that we pedaled our one gear into for an hour. Brrr. Once we hit the dirt, the wind was more at our backs and side and was quite a bit more agreeable.
It was enough to tire out Ed for a change. It was the first time I had seen him weaken like a mere mortal...did my heart good! SS will do that, but he had a blast on the stock XXIX, 2.5 pound tires, rigid fork, etc. I don't know how much those Stouts really weigh, but I picked up the front wheel and it is one heck of a gyro going on there, I will tell ya.
The XXIX really caught my eye. I have plans to replace the Monkey for SS duty and the clean lines of the Raleigh impressed me. I had never seen one or read about it much, but it has all the stuff on my short list of features: Steel, EBB, SS only, great tire clearance, and it comes in an XL that gives me a 25" TT. I want that length for next time in both SS and FS, but it is hard to get in a Large, rigid, off the rack frame. I measured the XL and the standover is comparable to what I have with the Monkey, so I am used to that.
Add that frame to the list of potential new suitors for my affection.