Monday, July 20, 2009

Singletrack Sampling and Exploding HeadShok

Yesterday, I planned to put together a faster paced ride over at the local woods - St. Eds/O Denny Park.  New Guy Kevin emailed to take up my offer for a faster ride, that I mentioned a few weeks ago - so I said sure - and invited a few others who may be interested in such tomfoolery....

Two Wheeled Types,

Sunday 8:00 AM (stupid early) at St Eds for (approx) 2 hour ride.  I’m billing this as the no kids (sorry Ian), limited stopping, fast paced ride.  Get in and get out early, with enough time left in the day for other festivities.

Fast is relative depending on people, fitness, tide levels, fear of crashing, and Elvis sightings.  This will be fast for me (Al Franken) and I’ll crank it a bit.  If my fast is your slow, feel free to snack on a tuna sandwich while enjoying the relaxing ride.  If my fast is your fast, feel free to suffer a bit and have fun.

Email if interested.  Reply to all, since my home address is included.  Vacation day for me on Friday.

Nanu Nanu.


I'm all for getting my son out there and/or gearing the ride for other semi-newbies, but was looking forward to a faster ride with limited stops.  I snuck out of the house bright and early, no one else awake - and buzzed over to St Eds to meet New Guy Kevin - the only confirmed rider out of the bunch.  We waited until 8:00 AM in case anyone else showed up - no one else arrived.  Maybe all the '70s references in my email scared 'em off.  In any case, they were missing a super nice morning to be outside.

New Guy Kevin and I hit the singletrack and started rolling.  Within 15 minutes or so, Kevin literally hit the singletrack while crashing off a large log pile.  Ouch.  Landed on his hand, bending his fingers back. Double ouch.  It hurt, but he gave it a go for awhile, then bailed on the road to head back to his car.  All part of mountain biking, just the way it goes sometimes.  I'm sure we'll ride again when the hand heals up.

Alone, I took off a semi-race pace (for me) on the empty trails.  Nice to get out early for change.  All was cool until my HeadShok fork started to feel like a deflated pogo stick.  Then the lock out stopped working.  Mr. HeadShok had officially blown his brains out.  Gee, thanks.  This was an eBay special NOS (new old stock) Cannondale frame and fork, so no soup for you - uh, I mean warranty.

Crap-O-Rama.  Under a year old, little miles, all XC oriented, fork goes belly up.  Pretty lame really.  Oh well, I ride the pogo stick home, mentally figuring out how to replace or repair - with as little dough outlay as possible.  Gotta love being the one paycheck family of four.

My initial plan was to get son Ian a NOS (Remember what that means?) or used frame off eBay, then transfer the older, but still cool XTR parts off the Cannondale to his "new" frame - including a '04 Fox Talas fork I've been saving.  That would be a killer set up for 10 year old, no?  Then somehow dad (that be me) would score a new mountain bike.  We both would win and the world would be a happy place. Current economic conditions dictate that idea be filed under "Dream Land".

Time for Plan B.  Those options included replacing the Cannondale HeadShok cartridge.  Considering the stellar record I've experienced and what I've read off the Internet (invented by Al Gore) - no thanks.

Magura also makes, or did at one time, a replacement cartridge.  I'd go for that, 'cause semi-old school me thinks the HeadShok fork design is pretty cool (for XC use) and from what I've read, the Magura replacement works well.  Internet cruising finds no one seems to carry this thing - plus I don't have the special tools needed to pull the HeadShok apart.  Even though a HeadShok lobotomy sounds kind of fun, I'll pass on this.

That leaves headset adapters or replacement to mount a "normal" sized fork in the 1.5" Cannondale headtube.  I will pull the Fox fork out of storage for Cannondale use (sorry Ian).  The Fox fork is cut fairly short, since it previously lived on my Ellsworth Truth, that runs a 4" long headtube.  The Cannondale sports a 4.5" headtube length.  After much Internet cruising and a trip to the local bike shop, decided on a flush mount Cane Creek headset - that I ordered direct from Cane Creek today.  This should do the trick and allow the much nicer Fox fork to work on the Cannondale.  $90 for this project is a little steep, but cheaper then a new bike.  Oh yeah, I'll need a new stem as well - it never ends.

I also need all this complete by the weekend for Indie Series race # 7 in Rosyln.  Emergency backup plan would be to dust off the vintage Fat Chance Yo Eddy, complete with rigid fork.  I'd rather go with front suspension.  Sorry, I'm getting old.  I also need to score Ian a longer stem, since his 24" wheel Specialized is getting small for him.

Ian is currently in 3rd place overall for the series and we don't want to miss the last two races.  Fame and fortune await.  Well, at least a medal and sense of accomplishment.  That's cooler then fame and fortune, usually - at least with the fortune we could score new bikes and skip the parts swapping frenzy.

Man, maybe I should just bag all this bike nonsense and take up something cheaper and safer - like stamp collecting or just live for my lawn.

Fat chance on that happening....

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