Sunday, July 26, 2009

Indie Series Race # 7. Hot Enough for You?

The Indie Series rolled on today to race number 7 of the series, this time in Roslyn, Washington.  Roslyn had it's 15 minutes of fame back in the 90's as the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska - where the the TV series Northern Exposure was filmed.  The Hollywood types have long left, leaving the small town back to its roots.

Until today, I didn't know about the great trails they have - right out of downtown - where the race site was.  Makes you wonder how cool it would be to live with a set up like that - nice.

Ian and I were looking forward to this event.  His 9:00 AM race time required us to get up stupid early for the 1.5 hour drive over the pass. Weather reports predicted close to 90 degrees today, so the early start was a good thing.  We arrived with enough time for a stress free sign up and look around.  Race promoter, Dan (never got his last name) gave us some early info - this is a tough course, the toughest of the series in his opinion - due to the steep singletrack climbs.  

Course was a 4.5 mile lap, with 1 lap for Ian's class.  A good call, I think 2 laps would have turned this into a death march for the kids. Adults did 2 - 4 laps per race, depending on class. 

Before the race, I fitted a 3 cm longer stem to Ian's bike, raised the seatpost to full max, and slid the seat back on the rails.  It fits him better - but he'll need a small frame 26" wheel bike soon.  This 24" wheel Specialized has been great for him.  Well worth the dough.

As noted in my HeadShokectomy post, I swapped the blown out HeadShok for a Fox fork a few days ago.  All was cool, until I realized the fork doesn't clear the frame.  What a hassle.  For the race, fitted a rubber boot cut from an inner tube to protect the downtube.  At the race, Diamond Back had a bike demo - Diamond Back Dude mentioned a taller fork crown race, to move the fork down 5 mm to clear the frame.  I'll look into it.

Sport class racers head for the woods.  A short, super steep climb strung people out right after the start.  It was a tough, but fun course - almost all singletrack.  The heat added to the "fun". 

Another wave of Sport racers ignore lonely garbage can.  I am the master photographer.  I'm actually under the registration tarp, borrowing some shade - felt like 100 degrees out - no motivation to wander course for pictures.

Ian's race was earlier and beat some of the heat.  Here he pushes up yet another steep hill, passing Aaron (I think that was his name) who's racing in the 11-14 year old Beginner class.  He later passed Ian back and was gone for good.

I followed Ian around the course as I have throughout the series.  He was hating life early in the race, but continued at a slow pace.  He felt better after the climbs ended and had a great time on the descent back to town.  Range of emotions go from "I want to quit" to "That was fun, when is the next race"?  I give Ian and the other kids a lot of credit.  Mountain bike racing is not easy.

After the race, Ian was toasted from the hills and heat - wolfs down peanut butter and jelly sandwich in dirty gloves. Yeah - he's hungry.

To the victor go the spoils - or something like that.  Well, winners medals and cans of Monster Energy drink (perfect for small children). Kid on the left, Scott Funston won the race, while Ian in came in 2nd place.  They were the only two kids in the Boys 10 and Under Beginner class signed up for today.

The Scott kid is fast, wins every race he enters and currently in 1st place for the series.  Ian has now moved into 2nd place for the series by being Mr. Consistent.  Nice going for all.

Overall, a well run race.  The entire Indie Series rocks.  Last event is August 8th in Greenwater, down by Mount Rainier - our favorite course of the series.  This could be the last time I ride with Ian during his race.  If he continues racing next year, the 11-14 age group steps things up a bit, in course length and other aspects.

I'll enjoy it while I can.....

The Tour Rocked

The Tour - as in Tour DAY France (Thanks Bob Roll) - is finally over.  After staying up way too many nights past midnight to watch the "expanded coverage", complete with expanded commercials - I can now get some sleep.

With the return of Lance, the Astana super team - complete with Contador and Lance vying for team lead - the Schleck brothers and Cavendish - the fastest sprinter ever, was a great tour to watch.  Gotta wonder what Lance held back as to not attack team mate Contador.

In any case, Contador deserved to win - he's incredible.  A 3rd place finish for Lance was a great showing, though it seemed weird seeing him on the lower podium.

Next year should be interesting as well, with Lance back again - now with Team RadioShack.  I think every team member scores a 8-track player and clock radio.  No wonder he jumped ship.

Friday, July 24, 2009


As mentioned in my previous post, the HeadShok on my Cannondale blew up during my last ride - rendering it as useful as a leaky pogo stick. Options were weighed, opinions researched and credit card pulled into duty. It's time for a HeadShokectomy.

Let's begin....

Official "before" shot - Cannondale resting comfortably against garage door. Even though this rig was an eBay frame and fork deal with parts pulled from old donor bike - it looks cool. Since "white is the new black" in the mountain bike world, it appears modern. Then you spot the V-Brakes and HeadShok, welcome to the '90s. Looks like something Tinker Juarez would have raced in 1995 or so. I don't care, looks wise - I dig it.

First - using tiny Allen wrench, remove giant lockout lever from top of fork. Note silver nut on top - this is a target for later. Little pink bike in corner giggles at the Cannondale's misfortune.

Next - remove front wheel, stem, handlebar and V-Brakes. Man, gotta love removable face plates on stems. In my old school bike shop daze, this would require removing one grip, brake lever and shifter, then side handlebar out. No thanks. Little pink bike now looks on in horror.

My, what a big headtube you have. Not shown due to inability to man camera and hammer at the same time - hit the top of fork with a rubber mallet (remember the silver nut target?) A few whacks and entire fork assembly drops out. Piece of cake to remove. The headset is a little tricker to extract, but still pretty easy.

Here's the dead HeadShok, complete with leaking oil (brain fluid?). Lockout lever reinstalled for storage. Who knows, maybe one day I'll dig up a replacement cartridge.

Not shown, due to PG-13 rating - removal of original headset. I don't have official headset tools at my disposal, so carefully tapped them out with a hammer and punch, through the headtube. Don't try this at home without adult supervision or prior experience.

Spiffy new headset ready for installation. It's a Cane Creek XXc Flush II unit. Sounds like a high capacity toilet, but it's not - just a well designed headset that allows a 1 1/8" fork to work with a 1.5" headtube. It also has a super low stack height - what I need, since the Fox steerer tube from donor bike is cut a bit short.

Installation not shown due to graphic nature and additional use of hammer. New headset carefully pounded in with my patented "blocks of wood and rubber mallet" procedure. Do not attempt this at home, your mileage may vary, management not responsible for stolen or damaged items.

With the new headset nestled in the aluminum frame, I then pressed the new bottom race onto the Fox fork steerer tube, using a PVC pipe I keep for such occasions. Someday I'll pick up some real headset tools, but for now, my semi-caveman methods work just fine.

With all headset parts ready to roll - slipped the Fox fork into the headtube, added a few spacers where needed, installed new Race Face stem and reinstalled the handlebar. I needed a new stem since the Cannondale stem won't fit the "normal" sized Fox fork. All other stems collecting dust in the official Dan O Garage are too long for this set up.

The completed installation. Cane Creek wasn't kidding on the flush mount description. The short, pre-cut for previous bike steerer tube, has room to spare. With the skinny ass XC stem, mondo headtube and stack of spacers ready my puncture my sternum - looks pretty damn stupid. It'll do the job though, so okay for now. If I did it again, would use a beefier looking stem with a 31.8 bar, to offset the huge frame tubing. This Frankenstein set up keeps the bars in the same relative position as before.

The "after" shot, suitable for framing. Looks uglier and gained a little weight, but the Fox suspension quality is worlds better then the HeadShok. Will test ride this weekend.

Adios from the Bike Garage. Ride safe, ride often - just ride....

NOTE:  If you're actually using this post for real information - read update post here.

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....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Birthday Cruise with Google Bike

Today was Ian's 10th birthday.  We have a family tradition that allows the birthday boy (or girl) to pick the day's festivities.  Even though it was pretty hot, Ian wanted to hit the Burke-Gilman Trail for a birthday ride.  Sister Amy was busy playing with the girls next door, so mom and Amy stayed behind.

A quick post and a few pictures.....

Ian is growing like a weed.  The 24" wheel Specialized is getting a little small.  During the ride, raised his seatpost to max height and it's still a bit low.  I may swap out for a longer seatpost and stem to get through the summer.

A stop at Matthews Beach in Seattle.  The water looked inviting - it was hot.

I dusted off the Bridgestone RB-1 for the cruise.

The old RB-1 still looks sweet.  Rides great also.

Kindly stranger manned camera for official Dad 'N' Son portrait.

Spotted the Google Bike photographing the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Look for updates on Google Earth in a few months.  The post contains cameras facing 360 degrees.  Pretty wild.

Google Bike pilot said he was from San Diego and gets paid to ride 10 - 20 miles a shot.  Sounds fun until you hear the rig weighs a few hundred pounds.  The red item you see in the rear is a running generator.  Did I mention it was hot today?  80+ degrees.  This kid is working for a living.

Ride on Google Man.  We'll enjoy your efforts online soon.

Easy slow cruise on the Burke-Gilman for Ian and I.  We're lucky to have this trail close by - as it also serves as my commute route.

Maybe the Google Bike photos will inspire other areas to develop bike trails.  Let's hope so anyway.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Indie Series Race # 6. Is this July?

Race # 6 of the Indie Series today at Lake Padden in Bellingham, Washington.  This is one of the longest, if not the longest, continuos running mountain bike race in the Pacific Northwest - this year is the 17th edition.  That's a lot of years and for a good reason - great trails and location.  Lake Padden is a sweet park that includes a nice sized lake, trails to hike and ride, dog area and playground.  Looks like a popular place for nearby folk.  It's about an 1.5 hour drive for us, not exactly around the corner.

We missed race # 4 due to a schedule conflict and race # 5 due to the Funhouse Festivities.  Looking at the results afterwards, if Ian had just entered and finished both races - he'd be in 1st place overall for the series.  He's currently in 3rd place for his class - really cool for him.

Yesterday the weather was 80+ degrees and sunny, officially hot for around here.  Today, woke up to cool temps and rain.  With the rainy weather, the female half of the Dan O Clan - wife and daughter, decided to stay home.  Ian and I plowed ahead, who cares about a little rain?  We're talking about mountain bike racing, weather adds to the fun.  With half the clan voting to sleep in, I did get the pleasure of de-loading the larger family hauler, then re-loading all into my car - in the rain.  That doesn't add to the fun.

By the time we hit Bellingham, rain had stopped - replaced with a cold wind and occasional sprinkle.  Strangely cold for July or maybe normal for Bellingham.  Great racing weather, but not so comfy hanging around race course weather.  Still, a pretty good sized crowd milling about and racing.

Ian did battle in the Beginner Boys 10 and Under Class once again.  I followed behind to watch and offer assistance if needed.  The Lake Padden event gets a larger kid crowd then most races, which is cool and a bit strange, since this course is pretty tough for kids.  Lots of pushing up steep singletrack and walking, sliding, crashing bikes down steep singletrack.  There was about 10 kids in Ian's class and he finished in 3rd place - a great showing.  This is not his favorite course. A bit of grumbling, two small crashes - one riding, one walking bike down a hairy section - one thrown chain added to challenge.  He did put a mad sprint in at the end, that was fun to watch.  The 3rd place finish also cheered him up.

I've been riding a lot and was looking forward to racing myself in the 45+ Sport class.  Was not to be - with mom and sis at home, and no one we know at the race, meaning Ian wandering around for 2 hours alone - while I thrash myself in the woods.  I'm sure he'd be fine, but that would be on my mind while racing.  I also thought we'd head home after his race to shorten the day.  We wound up waiting around for the 5:00 PM awards, since Ian scored the 3rd place.  I should have just raced, even Ian said so.  Being a responsible parent wins out over racing.  I'll get something in before the season ends.  I hope.

To kill some time in the afternoon, we cruised a few trails and watched the Expert and Open classes race - the officially fast folks.  Not a bad afternoon at all.

A few pictures.....

The actual Lake Padden.

Unknown Racer (says so right on his jersey) wonders how traffic cones grow in the woods.

LeMans style start for most classes.  Others had standard start with a $25 prime for the holeshot.  Great idea with potential pile up viewing for spectators - that never happened.

Spotted this dude on old school, Tomac style Yeti - complete with drop bars.  Cool bike and colorful rider.  Later, saw him ride on a flat during his race - to his car to repair - then rejoin the race.  Admirable, but maybe carrying a spare tube would be easier - no?

First carbon hardtail Ibis Tranny I've seen for real.  This one set up as super sano single speed.

A few Expert class racers blur the woods with speed.

Ian eyes up the future competition.  With the cloud cover, it was incredibly dark in the woods.

Ian's patented monkey imitation.

Our bikes rest in the woods, illuminated by flash.  Yup, it's dark in there.

Ian on the podium for 3rd place.  Kids who scored 1st and 2nd place nowhere to be found - probably bailed hours earlier - we waited (and waited....and waited).  Smiles on people in background from Ian falling off wet, slippery podium - directly on his butt.  He jumped right up with arms raised TDF style salute.  Pretty funny and he took it well.

The race winnings proudly displayed.  T-shirt, water bottle, blinky light, and.....

Dog tag medal for 3rd place.

See?  We don't make any of this up - official proof.

After the festivities were over, loaded up the car and hit I-5 South towards home.  After getting up insanely early, racing and being outside all day - Ian passed out in the car and woke up as I pulled in the driveway.  I then got to unload the car (again) in the pouring rain. Joy.  I'm not complaining.  I'm sure Ian and I will remember this stuff years down the road.

Next stop on the Indie Series is Roslyn.  We've never ridden there and we're looking forward to it.  Let's add a few more memories to the mix.

Friday, July 3, 2009

From the Archives: 1994 Fat City Cycles Catalog

Recently pulled from the Official Dan O Vault - Fat City Cycles catalog from 1994 - now posted for your amusement and reference.  This was the last (or next to last?) year for Fat City to produce frames in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

They later moved to New York state and produced frames in the Serotta shop.  The '96 and '97 Fat catalogs I also pulled from the Vault-O-Rama are from the New York location.  I can post 'em at another time.

Ponder and wonder at what was cool in '94.....

Fat Cogs refers to the Fat Chance Owners Group, the Fat club - complete with secret hand shake.  I was a member, a freebie deal through fellow Fat fan, Elisa Shostak - who was friends with Chris Chance's wife at one time.  All I know was, the packet arrived with a Fat Cogs t-shirt (that I still have).  A nice surprise in the mail.  

Being from the East Coast, gotta wonder if they all needed a tick check after this shot.  Man, I don't miss that.

Early rear suspension design, complete with Rock Shox fork up front.  This stuff looks incredibly dated now.

This is one of the nicest Fats ever made.  I'd still go for one of these today - even with the rigid fork.  If you have one, hang on to it.  Elisa's hubby Walt, rides one to this day.

The famous Team Yo Eddy model.  Really, really nice steel bike - still worth lusting after.  I have a '91 model with the original rigid fork as well.  I'll get it posted on here sooner or later.

The Buck Shaver was a lower priced model, named in honor of a Fat City employee, who passed away during the Fat era.  If I found a clean one, would grab the small frame model for my son's next bike.  Would be pretty trick for a 10 year old, no?

The Wicked Lite was a more all-around design.  It reminds me a lot of my '86 Fat that I still own.

I always thought the Fat road bikes were really cool.  I posted about this sweet bike previously.

I still have my Blah, Blah, Blah t-shirt hanging in the closet - only worn for formal occasions.  Dude I work with has the Fat jersey pictured.  He wears it occasionally as I weep.

Well, there you have it.  If you're from this era, a peek back in history. If you started riding mountain bikes recently, probably thinking "Who cares"?  Or maybe you get a kick out of seeing some mountain bike history.  I know I do.

New or old bike - ride on.