Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Ibis Flies Again - Almost

A few weeks ago, the spiffy carbon Ibis mysteriously sheared off the derailleur hanger while commuting home from work. Damn strange. A replacement hanger arrived pronto after ordering off the Ibis site. I replaced the hanger only to find the Ultegra derailleur completely tweaked. Ouch. It caught the spokes for sure to get that wasted.

My theory is the hanger was letting loose, hence the creaking noise for a few pedal strokes, then Blam-O, into the spokes. It remains a mystery. In any case, I ordered up a new derailleur from Excel Sports and finally got around to installing it today...



Depending on your political take - this derailleur is leaning to the left, pointing to the right, or moderately bent. Pick one. Like the current political picture, none of them appear to be great options.



Dead specimen removed, now a nice paper weight.



Newer style Ultegra bolted up, all angular and racy like. Yup, should knock a few minutes off my commute time and I'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.



After the swap and little tweaking, bike was shifting perfect in the workstand. Test ride however, not quite so. A little more tweaking, still not perfect. No time to finish however, since family Halloween festivities were waiting. Busted derailleur projects can't hold up trick or treat time.

Will need to attempt at a later date. Hopefully, the Halloween curse on the Ibis will be lifted by then...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

MFG Cyclocross Series Race # 5




Race number 5 of the MFG series kicked off today at Lakewood Park in Seattle. We missed race number 4 last weekend due to half the family being sick - me included. We've all been wiped out on and off during the last three weeks with a bad cold or touch of the flu. You think you're over it, then hit with the double whammy. Missed school days, wife out of commission for days at time, and me feeling like crap for over a week each whammy. Last two weekends spent home with various members of the family down for the count. Then add in a reorg and overtime at work, and I haven't been on my bike for over two weeks now. Buckets-O-Fun.

On top of Ian and I missing racing itself at event # 4, I also missed the spectacle of the SSCXWC hosted on the same day. Would have been a goof to witness that. Oh, well.

Okay, enough whining and complaining, we did get out today. Ian is almost back to normal health wise and wanted to race. I still feel crappy, but no way I'm spending another weekend home. Off to the races we go....




Lakewood Park, we've never been there - nice spot for a 'cross race. Some elevation available, so a little climbing and descending required. Two barrier sections, one with small barriers, other with normal height requiring a dismount. Lots of twisty grass sections, a sprinkle of pavement, and you have yourself a great 'cross course. Attendance seemed down at this event, not as many folks racing or spectating. Still a decent showing.

Oh yeah, it was also raining the entire time, so everything was nice and slippery. Plus, maybe 50 degrees if lucky - it was officially cold, wet and muddy. Isn't that how 'cross is supposed to be?

Once again, I did not race - not even on my radar at the moment. Kudos to Ian for wanting to complete the series. After the last few weeks, I'm just looking forward to riding again - never mind racing. I did enjoy pre-riding the course today on the 29er however. There is light at the end of the tunnel.



Ian lines up for the Junior 10 - 12 race. Only 7 kids in his class today, compared to 20+ at previous events. That's okay, he'll take some series points just by finishing. Ian was the lone mountain biker today and appeared to be the only kid not on a race team. Even so, after racing 3 events, was sitting in 7th place overall out of 40+ kids. We'll see where he falls after missing race # 4 and after today's results are totaled. Where ever he may land, all a good experience for him.



Ian out on the course, 2 lap race for his class today. He seemed a bit off the back and suffering some - pouring rain, wet and muddy. Hey, after the flu episode and not riding for 2 weeks, gets big credit from me. He wanted to finish and accumulate series points. Mission accomplished.



Post race Ian - muddy, soaked, tired and nauseous. Really nauseous, but never lost it. Maybe from the effort, probably still a tad sick. Plus told me he crashed twice, once on the shorter barrier section - direct barrier hit on thigh. Ouch. Nice bruise later as proof. To add insult to injury, he was literally shivering while I helped him change out of wet race clothes. Sitting in the car with heat blasting, while eating hot food from one of the vendors brought him back to life. Not really a fun race experience today. He's a tough kid though - wants to hit the last race of the series for sure.

After loading up the car - that be my job - we headed home. Ian passed out sound asleep in the back seat for part of the trip. Tough day for an 11 year old. Racing is not easy and not always fun. I'm proud of him.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Xtracycle in Action




A few months ago, while I was selling off some old bike items to finance some new rides for Ian and I, my neighbor gave me two old bikes collecting dust in his garage. One of 'em being a nice old school Giant mountain bike, complete with XT group and rigid fork. Bike was clean, but sporting a huge frame - around a 21" seat tube. I immediately thought of my old pal John, back east, who earlier emailed about creating a utility bike for daily use.

A deal was struck, bike boxed up, and sent to the DC area for it's new life. John did complete the project, installing a Xtracycle kit to the old Giant. It came out pretty sweet, a cool useful rig. Pic below as completed.





This week I received a pic of John giving his daughter a lift to school on the Xtracycle. That's Mollie hitching a free ride while catching up on some reading. Awesome. John mentioned Mollie now rides her own bike to school. Even more awesome. Eventually Mollie will probably be hauling the old man around the on Xtracycle, having things come full circle.

John and I met back in the early '80s while spinning wrenches at Whippany Cycle. John later went on to form Ozone Action - group of folks to point out companies that produce chemicals destroying the ozone layer. After that, a multi-year stint as Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. He's now combining his economics background and environmental expertise to help fund various environmental causes. Super intelligent guy and damn funny as well. I always get a kick out of hearing from him. A Google search on John Passacantando will get you more info my old bike shop pal. Not bad for a bike mechanic from New Jersey.

Super cool seeing this old mountain bike get a new lease on life. What a perfect use for it, I think you'd have to agree. The Xtracycle kit is pretty freaking neat. I also dig the wave of complete utility and transportation bikes that have hit the market over the last few years. These are the types of bikes that could bump up bike use for "regular" folk, not just bike enthusiasts. Wear street clothes, buzz down to the store and carry a few bags of groceries home. It just makes too much sense. If I had some extra dough to burn, would build up a utility bike to toy around with. Being ex-motorcycle guy, I'd even mess around with electric assist on the rig. Would be a fun project.

For now, a messenger bag and my current pile of bikes work just fine for daily use. Even so, I find the utility style of bike a fascinating addition to the scene and hope to spot more of 'em in use.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Ride Journal - Not The Usual Bike Mag



I discovered this magazine recently, after Philip - the editor - commented on one of my blog posts, and we later exchanged email. Magazine is based out the UK and is pretty damn cool. Don't expect reviews on the latest carbon fiber widget, how to train for a century, or the latest in Powerbar technology (burp). This magazine is about riding itself - expressed though short stories, cool illustrations, and interesting photography. It's not something to flip through in 15 minutes. No, it's actually something bike related to sit down, read and enjoy. Very well done publication.

Another aspect I dig about it - not pigeon holed into being a road or mountain bike magazine - it covers all aspects of our little subculture. That opens up a broad spectrum of ideas and influences the bicycle world offers and makes for more interesting reading. The stories come from regular riding folk, to more famous names like John Tomac, Greg LeMond and Charlie Kelly. Very cool indeed.

The magazine is available in actual paper or online. You can download previous editions for free in PDF form, read posted online articles, or purchase the latest copy. You won't find this mag at the local bookstore here in the US, so cruise on over to their site.

The Ride Journal - it's worth a look and a read. Give it a go, let me know what you think.

Urban Trials - Don't Look Down




Rough week at the Dan O Estate - sick wife and kids. I've yet to be whacked with the bad cold they all share, or maybe I'm just willing it away. Yeah - it just ain't gonna happen. See? It works. Since I seem to be the only 100% functioning human in the house, I've been drafted into take care of everyone mode. Fair enough.

No riding time outside means watching other people ride inside. Not quite as much fun, but helps pass the time. Old motorcycle riding pal posted this to Facebook and I couldn't help stealing it. Observed Trials dude plays urban style in Belgium. Most impressive skills. Be sure to catch the bridge bit at end - some serious risk on that one - though he makes it look silly easy. Pretty amazing.

I hope to ride for real tomorrow - though not counting on it...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Big Air and Splash Landings




Been swamped at work and home lately - haven't ridden in one week now. That's just not right and will be rectified ASAP. It's not even winter yet, way too early to skip seven days without turning a pedal.

In the mean time, check out this video I caught off the Chuck Ibis site. Ah, those crazy kids and their flyin' machines.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Little Huckster




Riding pal at work sent me this link - I got a kick out of it. Check this kid out - looks to be barely 5 years old. Imagine him on a bike with pedals - in 10 years - look out world.

Video itself is also cute, complete with Ventures soundtrack. I dig the Ventures - who doesn't?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Snap Goes The Hanger




Super nice fall morning for the ride into work today. Almost 60 degrees, sunny, changing leaves - yes please. As I was cruising along the Burke-Gilman Trail, passed a slightly chunky dude on a cool old school Gios. He jumped on my wheel and I towed him into Seattle. Waiting at a cross street, he pulled up along side and we exchanged greetings - as I watched the sweat drip off his nose.

Gios Dude said he's seen me on the trail before and usually couldn't catch me, now 2 month into riding, held on - didn't know if I got slower or he got faster. I told him he got faster (even though I'm not all that fast myself) - enjoy the day - and with that I continued to work.

Ride home was warm, much cloudier, but no rain. I left my real camera at home, so goofed around with my incredibly cheap cell phone camera. Only interesting shot posted above. I'll mess around with it some more. It's so crappy, puts a interesting spin on the results.

After stowing the cell phone/camera back in the messenger bag, continue home and hit the climb into my neighborhood. It's a decent hill, about 500 foot elevation gain in maybe a mile - it's respectably steep - and something I get to enjoy on every ride. Some days are more "enjoyable" then others.

I'm grinding my way up the hill, in the saddle, and hear a creaking noise with every power stroke - right foot only. With each stroke trying to diagnose what the hell it is - BB bearing gone bad, weird spoke noise, aliens invaded my frame?

It didn't take long to figure it out, just a few more crank revolutions - 'cause that's when my rear derailleur exploded off the frame. WTF? Closer inspection revealed a broken derailleur hanger. Freaky. I'm guessing the aluminum hanger was creaking out it's death song before shearing off. In 25+ years of riding as an (alleged) adult, that's never happened before. Damn strange. Fairly spectacular noise as it blew apart.

I'm about 1/2 mile from home, so just carried the wounded Ibis the remainder of the commute - with Sidi shoes, messenger bag full of junk - and slightly cramping lower back. Fun. I can't really complain though. After years of commuting and riding, my first mechanical meltdown - on the road anyway.



What's wrong with this picture?



Houston, we have a problem.


Lucky for me, the carbon frame Ibis has a replaceable derailleur hanger. I'll order one off the Ibis site tomorrow. I'm guessing with close to 10,000 miles on this rig, the hanger must have been flexing enough to weaken it - would have been much uglier if the frame had broken instead.

Looks like I'll be riding my old school steel Ibis until I get this back on the road. No problem there.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

MFG Cyclocross Series - Race #3




MFG series race number 3 today at Five Mile Lake Park in Federal Way. If 'cross was a school subject, we'd score a perfect attendance record from Mrs. Cowbell, since we've also hit race 1 and 2 in the series, so our report card is looking pretty good.

Today's race site is about an hour away for us, the old guy race (that be me), scheduled for 9:30 AM. With travel time, unload and warm up - pretty early morning - so I, uh, skipped it. Yeah, you can see how motivated I've been to race lately. We elected to just hit the kids races later in the afternoon.

Even if dad is lame (that be me), both kids raced today - and that was cool. We've also never been to this location, so that was cool also - something different. Nice site for a 'cross race, very compact for good spectator viewing. One uphill running section, a sand section, lots of grassy twists and turns. Parking was tight - really tight. We unbelievably scored a spot near the finish line and festivities - helpful with kids, wife, getting supplies, unloading/loading bikes, etc. Meanwhile, race announcer warning riders the sheriff was about to start towing cars illegally parked nearby. Ah, joy.

Ian once again did battle in the Junior Boys 10 - 12 class. He seemed to be doing okay at the beginning of the race, then I lost sight of him for awhile, only to be appear off the back at bit at the finish. Told me he lost the chain on the uphill running section, and it took awhile for him figure out remount it. He was mad that occurred, but I explained bad luck is part of racing - just got to continue - which he did with a nice sprint at the finish. I explained that getting mad was actually a good thing. Proves you care about how well you're doing and being a bit competitive. All races are a learning experience and you have many more to follow. I showed him a few times how to remount the chain afterwards, though we've gone over it before. Easy to forget, since during our usual rides, never been a problem. He was quietly hacked for a while after the race, but got over it and is ready to race again.

We left before the results were posted - it can sometimes take awhile - so we'll check online later. At race #2, he scored 15th place out of 26 kids - not bad at all - especially considering most kids are on race teams and sport full 'cross bikes, clipless pedals and the whole schtick. Ian is still racing a mountain bike with platform pedals and we just wing this for fun. He had similar results at race #1. Plan is to hit as many races of the series as possible and collect points via consistency. After two races, Ian was in 13th place overall - pretty cool. Still, the main intent is to just have fun and gain experience. If he continues to dig this, I'll set up him with a 'cross bike for next season. By then he'll also be 5+ feet tall and fit a 700c bike without a problem - plus probably kick my ass.



video

The start of the Juniors race - boys and girls. From really young kids up to age 12. Scored separately, but race together. Mixed in the crowd is Ian, racing Junior Boys 10 - 12. The older kids, up to age 17 or so, have already left the start line - so they're mixed in as well. I'm psyched to see a ton of kids racing 'cross this year. I've said it before, 'cross is perfect for kids - short, fast, not that technical, parents can watch almost the action. Perfect.



Amy raced the kiddie class today - first time ever on her own - without training wheels. Yes! Lots of little ones lined up for a go at it. The race was supposed to be super short, just a section on the grass. However, once they past the finish line - they all kept going - even through the sand section! The improvised finish line moved to the barrier section - hilarious. They probably would have tried lifting their bikes over the barriers if not stopped. Amy said it was the longest kiddie race she's ever done.



The kiddies take on the sand section. Awesome!



Go Amy go!!



MFG Cyclocross dudes - thanks! We're having a blast with the series.



After the race, stopped at Alki Beach in West Seattle to goof around a bit. Lunch at this Irish place - mmm,mmm good - Irish stew. Nice place with a water view.



View from Alki Beach - not too shabby. I tell you, living in the Pacific Northwest ain't too bad.



With that, I conclude this week's edition of the 'cross report. Stay tuned for future broadcasts. Adios.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Danny McAskill - Amazing




Direct via YouTube, another installment of Danny McAskill to awe and amaze. Incredible blend of trials and freestyle moves with risk involved, though with his insanely smooth style - it looks easy. Most impressive.

Besides virtual riding via the Internet, I did get out for a nice 2 hour mountain bike ride this morning with fellow coworker dude. He has the extensive bike background - raced BMX, mountain bike experience - including racing the infamous Kamikaze Downhill Race "back in the day", as well as bike shop duty in the past. After a multi year layoff from bikes, back into it big time over the last few months - including three new bikes. First time we've ridden together, fun ride, always cool to show off my local trails. We plan to hit the woods again soon.

I honestly enjoy getting out with different folks to ride - especially if they're coming "out of retirement" or new to the sport. You can see the gleam in their eyes that riding, especially mountain biking, is coolest damn thing ever. And yes my friends - it is.