Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Ibis Remains Grounded

To continue my ultra exciting series on the dead Ibis, I present yet another chapter. Crank up the DVR, this may soon be a mini series on the Fox network. To refresh your memory, Chapter 1 starts with the rear derailleur mysteriously exploding off the spiffy carbon Ibis, during a commute home - many weeks ago. Quite strange.

Chapter 2 included replacing the derailleur hanger, only to discover the derailleur itself completely tweaked - so replaced as well. However, shifting was still off and no time to further diagnose. With my annual winter slump starting a bit early (burp), 'cross races, recent snow, the old school steel Ibis still functioning, and mountain biking on (most) weekends - the carbon Ibis remained hanging in the garage. Today I took some time to look at it once again, so I now present Chapter 3 of this saga. Time to pop some popcorn and break out the hankies...

After I threw the bike on the workstand, didn't take long see what's up. Please note the chain about to separate, masterlink pin poking out from the side plate. Yikes. That could have been ugly, if snapped during a sprint or powering up a hill while standing. The chain is also twisted a bit as well. I don't know if this occurred while the hanger busted, or somehow caused the whole mess, or even during test riding after installing the new derailleur and hanger. Weird chain of events - pun intended. In any case, the chain is toast.

Here's where it gets fun - and expensive. The entire drivetrain has almost 10,000 miles on it - so, the cassette, chainrings and chain have all worn together. Installing a new chain to the worn cassette and rings is just asking for shifting woes, skipping chain, and other festivities of doom. There's two schools of thought for drivetrain maintenance. One is to replace the chain regularly, before it wears, increasing the life of the cassette and chainrings. The second is to wear everything out at the same time, then replace all at once.

I subscribe to the second theory - kill and replace all at once. I think the cost breaks out evenly, since replacing the chain every 1000 miles or so, at a cost of $30 - $40 a whack, means I would have worn out $300 worth of chains already. Even if the chain was replaced every 2000 miles, we're still talking $150 and the time spent measuring and replacing chains. I'll probably spend $200 to replace the Ultegra cassette, chain and chainrings. Get the picture?

I already had a new Ultegra chain on the workbench. Let's see how far the worn chain "stretched" in 9500 miles, compared to a new chain. How does a chain stretch? As the many pins and rollers wear, they develop more play, increasing the length of the chain. Here you can see the pins of both chains look fairly even at this point.

By the end of the chain - not so cool, eh? The worn (dirty) chain on the bottom is few millimeters longer. As you can see, the pins no longer line up. The cassette and chainrings have also worn to match the chain. A new chain added to the mix is a recipe for headaches.

Please note: The new chain has yet to be cut to the correct length - that's why it's a few links longer. I hope you enjoyed this little Bike Repair 101 course. Yes, this will be on the final exam.

The Ibis will remain without a chain until I dig up everything needed to make it fly once again.

With that, I hereby end this tale of woe for now. With the old school steel Ibis requiring a drivetrain replacement as well - though still rideable - and Christmas looming around the corner, this Ibis may remain grounded for a bit longer then expected.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Seattle Sledding Action

Fun film pulled off YouTube to give you a taste of Seattle street sledding action. Looks like a blast - wish I was there. Well, actually I was - except in the traffic below - then bailed back to work, to wait out gridlocked disaster.

If I had known this scene was going on, would have walked over from work. Way more fun then sitting in traffic or an empty office.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Snow hit the Seattle area yesterday. Doesn't really happen that often and when it does, usually a wet, heavy type snow that's crap for riding. Not this storm - cold enough for dry powder - and lots of ice. Perfect for riding, so that's what I did. Skipped work today and buzzed around the local trails for two hours or so. Growing up in New Jersey, I did a fair amount of two wheel exploring in the snow, and riding today reminds me of that. Cold and clear, with great riding snow. Nice.

Woods, snow, low level winter sun. Sweet.

Compact snow and ice makes for fast snow travel. Only fell once today, not bad considering I don't get much snow practice. And that was even running the Kenda Small Block 8 tires - not exactly the best tire for snow rolling. At times, they were basically two giant snow doughnuts - almost like snow slicks.

The bargain Sette Razzo 29er continues to impress.

Later in the day, took the kids sledding, as Ian demonstrates. Sun was setting, it was cold - maybe 20 degrees. Daughter Amy had enough after a few runs. Wife scored some rare alone time, while we manned the plastic sleds.

As mentioned, the snow hit yesterday. The Seattle area completely falls apart when it snows. We're talking multi hour, gridlock traffic disaster. I drove to work yesterday, it was snowing a bit - two hours to drive 17 miles. Temps dropped even further and more snow during the day. I bailed out of work around 4:00 PM, knowing it was a mistake. It's best to wait until much later.

Sure enough, after sitting in traffic for 30 minutes, moved maybe half a block. I attempted a different route and spent an hour sitting in another gridlock mess - and have yet to even get to the highway entrance - still stuck in downtown Seattle. I park the car and hit a pizza place to grab some dinner and waste time. After another hour or so, go for it again. Same deal, maybe half a block in 30 minutes attempting to hit Interstate 5 to get home. Insane. I peel off back into downtown, park and head back to work. Even work beats sitting in complete gridlocked traffic, watching the windshield wipers and brake lights.

I wait until 10:00 PM for the final attempt, even though all routes north are still gridlocked. I head south, completely out of the way, and take the long route home. After driving for over an hour, finally home around 11:30 PM. Crazy. I should have ridden my bike, would have been hours faster and a bit of a epic trip, for good reasons - not annoying ones.

Here's a little example pulled off YouTube of what happens in Seattle when it snows. Steep hills, lots of ice, little to no sanding or plow trucks. Then toss in inexperienced snow drivers and it becomes a virtual fun fest. The roads and highways become littered with abandoned vehicles. It's crazy town.

Pro rally driver I'm not (except in my dreams), yet I have no trouble getting around in the snow. I guess flinging Fiats around the East Coast as a kid in the snow helps - as well as years on dirt motorcycles and mountain bikes. It's all about the controlled loss of traction.

Lucky I'm off tomorrow and for Thanksgiving. Temps are supposed to remain below freezing, preserving the winter wonderland for a bit longer. It's fun while it lasts.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winter Has Arrived

Despite the calendar, feels a bit like winter today. A windy 38 degrees, trails still wet from recent rain. Escaped for a quick solo ride late in the afternoon. Fingertips frozen via ripped to shreds full fingered gloves, especially during the road cruise to the trails. Thirty minutes or so of singletrack buzzing cures that, and gets everything up to operating temperature.

I thought I'd grab a quick 45 minute ride before dark, but stayed out longer and finished the trail section in near darkness. I've ridden these trails so many times, could probably do it blindfolded. Bored of them? No way. After 20+ years I'm still grateful to have nearby trails to roll on. I'm a lucky boy.

Big wheels keep on turning - all 29 inches of it. The Kenda Small Block 8 tires are little sketchy on muddy trails, but work much better then you'd expect.

Full moon view for the ride home.

Another day, another ride. Another excuse for some personal time and escape to the woods. All good and to be repeated again - soon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

MFG Cyclocross - Final Countdown

MFG Cyclocross - Woodland Park GP from j.cameron.b Productions on Vimeo.

Pretty cool movie pulled from the MFG site - from last weekend - final race of the series. Official 'cross weather, 800+ racers, plenty of spectators. Great day. Take a gander, even though you're probably at work. Go ahead, nobody is looking.

Final results posted as well. Son Ian scored 6th place overall out of 49 racers. Nice results for the Junior Boys 10 - 12 class. Great job.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MFG Cyclocross Series Race #6

It's the final countdown - last race of the MFG series today. The venue was Woodland Park in Seattle - nice set up, plenty of people and racers - great turn out. Overcast, no rain, comfy temps, changing fall leaves, muddy course, perfect 'cross day. Excellent. With no rain on the horizon, female half of the family joined in the festivities as well.

Wacky chain of events had us running late to the event, including stopping to assist an older woman in our neighborhood. We passed this woman sitting down on the curb apparently resting, but just didn't look right. Wife said turn around, to check her out. By the time I spun the car around and headed back up the street, she was laying on the sidewalk, with some guy walking a dog taking to her. We jump out of the car to see what's going on. My wife (out of practice nurse) talks to the woman. Dog walker dude said she was feeling dizzy and wanted a ride home, apparently she lives a few streets away. Dog walker dude was offering to drive her, but after talking to the woman - said she lived alone, her husband had passed away 3 years ago. Dropping her off at home alone doesn't sound like a smart move.

My wife tells her she needs to be checked out, she's going to call 911. The woman says she doesn't want to be charged with an ambulance ride, she's lost her job as well, and attempts to get up. She wobbles a few steps and lays down in the street - she's not going anywhere. Ambulance arrives in a few minutes, during that time we learn she's 67 years old and walks regularly. From some of the other symptoms going on, wife suspects some heart issues. We talk to the ambulance folks for a bit, while they load her up. Hopefully it was something minor and she's back on her feet soon. If we knew where she lived, we'd check back to see how she's doing - didn't get that info.

On a side note, the idea of being afraid to call an ambulance due to cost at 67 years old pisses me off. Maybe she could afford it, maybe not. In any case, something you shouldn't even have to think about. We have one wacky health care set up here in the U.S. That argument saved for another time and place, this blog is about bikes - usually.

Oh yeah, I noticed dog walker dude was wearing a dirt motorcycle event sweatshirt. He notices the bikes on the car roof rack. Find out he rides mountain bikes, ski races, and races motorcycles. Nice guy, we have a lot in common and lives right down the street from us. If I see his garage door open one day, I'll pop in to talk bikes. He says anytime and we shake hands. Cool.

With all that, we finally climb back in the car. Time check reveals we might still make the race, so we go for it. We head towards Seattle and arrive a few minutes before Ian's race - no time to warm up or pre-ride the course. At registration, find out we missed the cut off. They let us race anyway, but Ian's finish may not be scored or apply towards the series results. Bummer. Registration dude said talk to finish line folks to see if they'll track Ian for this race. I run over and ask. Finish line dude says maybe, but can't promise anything, and to email them after the event. I understand why the cutoff exists (about 20 minutes before each race) - need time to enter all racers into the computer system. Fair enough, we'll see what happens.

I explain the situation to Ian on the start line. Told him to just go for it and have fun - the most important aspect of this gig anyway. True?

Ian appears to be explaining something important, or checking for rain drops. Kid behind seems to be admiring Ian's gloves...

Off go the kids aged 10 - 12. Older Juniors already on the course. Man, I enjoy seeing the good kid turn out at 'cross races.

Junior racers in action, looking pro.

Ian going for it - series points or no points - but chalking up some style points for the mountain bike camp anyway. I'll work on scoring him a 'cross bike and official racing duds for next season.

Great 'cross course. Twisty grass sections, combined with gravel roads. Ian said this was his favorite course of the series.

Daughter Amy lined up for battle for the Kiddle race. Sure, I may look cute - just try passing me.

Huge turn out for the kiddie race. Hilarious all around fun. This was the largest kiddie race I've ever witnessed.

My little racers.

Post race family pizza. Mmm mmm good.

Fun day out for the family. Wife and I enjoyed watching the kids race and both kids enjoyed racing. I have no idea what place Ian came in. Up until this event, he was in 6th place overall for the series, out of 40+ kids. With any luck, they'll score him for this race as well. If not, not a huge deal, but would make an 11 year old racer happy. I emailed the race folks as requested. Even without the points, Ian had fun at this race and ended the series on a positive note.

Overall, the MFG Cyclocross series is a cool deal and worth checking out. I've been completely lame and didn't even race once this series, due to various legit and not so excuses. I will be out there again sooner or later.

With that, the end of the 'cross report. If you've yet to experience cyclocross as a racer or spectator, I suggest you do so. It's pretty hard not to dig the whole scene.

Update! The fine folks at MFG Cyclocross contacted me. Ian's race does count (14th place) and will be applied towards the overall series as well. Fantastic. Ian is happy - and dad. The 'cross community rocks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Old Guy Ride - Take Two

I hit the "Old Guy Ride" this morning - as titled by old riding pal Tom. I set the alarm for 7:00 AM, hit the snooze button until about 7:45 AM, and still made the 8:30 AM start time. Meeting place being Big Finn Hill park, just a short cruise from the house. I buzzed over on the 29er after a quick bowl of cereal, banana, and some OJ. Breakfast of champions?

A few familiar faces for this ride, since this being the second time I've joined this gang - including Tom, and the Principle of my kid's elementary school, Bethel. A few others mixed in as well, including Scott on a sweet Turner full suspension 29er. All of us appear to be on the far side of 40 years old and I know some of the gang are at least 60 years young. There's no race posturing, just a bunch of guys out for fun with a total low key vibe. This ride has been going on every Saturday for 15 years now, anyone invited. Tell me that little fun fact ain't pretty neat.

Weather looked like rain, though never happened, temps in the 40s - welcome to fall in the Pacific Northwest. Wet and muddy trails - but not too bad, plus lots of fallen leaves to hide slippery roots and items to catch your wheels. There's something about riding in the fall that clicks with me. Reminds me of my East Coast roots - pun intended.

Yes, I am the master action photographer. Here capturing the official cell phone stop. Feel free to download and frame over the fireplace.

Scott pulls some styling air on the Turner. Who says you can jump 29ers? Ride ritual rotates ride leaders. Today was Scott - who likes to climb - routing us multiple times over the short, steep climbs contained in our woods.

The Principle displays the benefits of "higher" education - by catching a little air.

Mid ride expresso stop. Expresso shack located directly across the street from beloved neighborhood singletrack. Ride ritual involves someone picking up the tab and the favor goes around each week.

Various muddy implements of fun stacked against expresso shack....

....and nearby dumpster. The country club crowd doesn't know what it's missing.

Part of today's gang - sipping coffee in a parking lot - wet and muddy. All good, clean fun.

The Principle schools us on some trials riding.

What goes up, must come down.

All in all, about a 3 hour ride today. Fun stuff. Cool thing about bikes, doesn't matter if you're 12 years old or pushing 60 - all the same. Get out in the woods with friends, splash in the mud, share some laughs - playtime with benefit of exercise tossed in. And that's pretty damn hard to beat.

See you next time...

Friday, November 12, 2010

1990 Durango Worlds Revisited

Via a link posted off RetroBIKE, pointing towards MountainBike Action - a great series of articles written by Zapata Espinoza - reflecting on the 1990 UCI World Championship held in Durango, Colorado. A great look back into the early days of mountain biking, with Ned Overend and Greg Herbold assisting for the retro ride.

I started riding mountain bikes in 1984 and have watched the sport progress to where it sits today. In a lot of ways, the '90s were the heyday of mountain bike racing. It was a great time of colorful riders, increasing sponsorship dollars, media attention, and rapidly changing technology - especially in the suspension arena. Was it better back then? Sounding like cranky old guy, yeah, in some ways it was.

I was also involved with motorcycle motocross during the '70s and it was a similar vibe. This "thing" was just past the infant stage, starting to blow up and get really cool. Both scenes had an overflow of interesting folks and developing technology. I'm really glad I was part of both worlds and have some great memories from each front.

If you were riding mountain bikes during that era and/or were a race fan, you'll enjoy the stories and pictures. If all of this was before your time aboard two wheels hitting dirt, you may get a kick (or laugh) out of what mountain bike technology was about in 1990. Pic above as example: Don Myrah on the Fat Chance, rocking the toe straps and Campy gear. Almost brings a tear to my old school eyes for many reasons.

Link to 1st article here. 2nd article here. 3rd article here. 4th article here. 5th article here.

Enjoy. No need to live in the past, but certainly fun to visit occasionally.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drag Racing Sting Rays

I caught this oldie, but goodie, off another bike site. 1970's bike drag racing, complete with flaming burn outs and parachutes to slow down. I didn't know Sting Rays were that fast. Apparently, not quite fast enough for helmets though.

I grew up in the '70s, so the whole vibe of this video cracks me up. The bikes, long hair, striped shirts - yup, it's all there. Witness for yourself.

As goofy as this all seems now, I still can see some merit in it. This would be perfect for kids, especially kids not really into bikes yet. Set up in a school yard, cheap timing system, no matter what the era - kids would dig it. Probably some adults as well. Call me crazy.

Now - how can I rig up a dual parachute system?...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

End of the Slump

It's the end of the slump as we know it - and I feel fine. Finally, out for a real ride today. Due to the family and I being on and off sick, work related tomfoolery, and other nonsense - first actual ride in almost a month. Way too long of a layoff. Let's not try that again, shall we?

Two hour social cruise with an old riding pal, Jeff. First time we've ridden together since '97 or so. Yeah, a long time. Jeff was a member of our weekly mountain bike ride, back when a bunch of coworkers used to hit the trails together. People move on, change jobs, lose contact - then reconnect through the wonder of Facebook. Man, I'm sure glad Al Gore invented the Internet.

It's been raining for a few days, trails good and wet, but not that bad. No rain for the actual ride. Cloudy, but fairly nice out. Jeff is just getting back into mountain biking, complete with his '90s era Cannondale hardtail. Still rolls just fine, complete with V-Brakes and still functioning Headshok. That's all a boy really needs for a little fun. Big bucks long travel rig not required. Buzzed around for about 2 hours, reacquainting Jeff with the trails he hasn't ridden in many years. He seemed to dig it, we'll hook up again.

Our ride intersected with the "Old Guy Ride" (as riding pal Tom calls it), so we chatted for awhile. I'm hoping to hit that ride again soon. The old dudes probably think I'm dissing 'em, since I've run into 'em a few times while riding with other folks. Not the case, their 8:30 AM start time is a tad early for the folks I've been riding with.

After the ride and hose down of the dirty 29er, complete with scraping mud off my legs and shoes - some family time and errand running - in the pouring rain. Looks like we timed the ride just right.

While out later in the afternoon, noticed this item for sale. Yes, that's real plastic snow. None of that fake plastic snow crap for us. Nothing says Christmas like real plastic snow. Ho, ho, ho.

That concludes my very exciting and ultra detailed ride report. Transcripts are available for purchase in the lobby. Good night. Drive safely.