Sunday, April 29, 2012

Welcome to Paradise

Racer Boy Ian and I took the short drive over to Paradise Valley for a little mountain bike action.  We hit this place last year and had a blast, with a vow to return.  Today was the day.  

Loaded up the race ready '94 Camry Wagon (envy of the neighborhood...) with bikes and gear and off we went:

The map to it all.  Place isn't all that big, but enough twisty fun singletrack to satisfy.  Met some nice guy in the parking lot, riding a sweet Ritchey 29er in single speed mode, and we all cruised together for awhile.  Why is it that so many cool nice folks, ride mountain bikes?  Must be a DNA thing.  I'll contact the institute for a little grant dough and we'll get to the bottom of this theory.

My trusty 29er rests against sign pole.  Too bad it can't read.  It can ride though and does that pretty damn well.  I've been using this rig for two years now, no complaints.  Felt great on the rooted out, muddy singletrack; which this place has in spades.  There's even a few wooden stunts to attempt, most of 'em pretty tame.  This park is really about XC fun and frolicking.

Ian balances small rocks on the giant, moss covered trail side boulder.  A fun diversion, complete with some Clif Bar chomping.  Another fantastic father/son day out, bicycles being the secret key to it all.

Ian in action, he kicked my ass today.  Was riding smoother and stronger then old bike geek dad, since I was dragging a bit.  Eventually all rides will revolve around keeping him in sight.  He gets older and stronger, while I get older and slower.  That's okay.  At 50+ years old, I ain't doing too bad.  I would guess in the general population of semi-old dudes, only a small percentage of 50 year olds are splashing through puddles on a mountain bike for 2 hours.  I'll take it.  I like not being normal.  Normal is highly overrated.  Trust me.

Fun ride with 2+ hours of cruising around.  We don't know these trails well, so some backtracking and doing a few sections twice (or more).  Wet and muddy, all singletrack, Roots-O-Plenty, tight turns and plenty of smiles.  Ian enjoyed hitting somewhere new for a change.  Me too.

Great place, we'll be back...

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Slump is Broken - Commuter 'R' Me

As of today, the commuting slump is broken.  Finally.  34 mile round trip.  I'm embarrassed to admit how many months have passed since I've last commuted to work.  An extremely lame winter, haven't been this lame since, uh, last winter.  Some years I'm the pretty hard core commuter - lights blazing, pouring rain, snow - didn't matter.  The last two years, call me Mr. Lame.

Even so, once I start cranking again, wind up commuting 3 - 5 days a week.  That's upwards of 170 miles per week.  Not too shabby and during the course of a year, I still wind up putting more commuting miles on two wheels then four - usually.

Let the ramp up begin.  My wallet, mental outlook and fitness level, will thank me in a few weeks.  Until then, slow speeds and some ouch factor involved.  Bike commuting rocks.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring has Sprung - Mountain Biking 'R' Us

Squeezed a few mountain bike rides in this week, including yesterday with pal Brian christening his spiffy new 29er.  Son Ian also joined in on the festivities.  Perfect day with sunny temps in the 60s, trails in great shape - with just a touch of mud to make things interesting - leaving actual proof of dirt fun on leg and bikes.

Cruised our local trails, St Edward State Park/Big Finn Hill Park, for the uh, zillionth time.  Doesn't matter, any trails ridable from the house are perfect in my book.  We're lucky to have this playground virtually in our backyard, a few hundred acres laced with singletrack.

Bikes lined up, after a quick post ride hose off, for official photo session.  We appear to be Team Sette, with all of our steeds sporting the same downtube sticker.  Brian was impressed with his ceremonial 29er dirt action.  I've been digging my 29er for two years now.  Ian's Sette frame that I recently built up is working great.  If you're looking for a great ride at a great price, Sette is pretty hard to beat.

This now concludes my Sette commercial, which wasn't my intent.  Intent is to just ride, whatever you're riding.  See you out there.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shimano Shifter Hell

Welcome to Shimano hell, I'll be your tour guide.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a Shimano fan - they make great stuff.  However, I'm cursing 'em a bit at the moment...

Replaced the rear derailleur cable on my zippy Ibis carbon road bike, which runs Ultegra STI shifters.  Piece-O-Cake, done in no time flat, been through this routine before.  Bike in workstand to adjust shifting - won't shift all - nada, ziltch.  What the heck?

Closer inspection reveals cable end in shifter not sitting where it should be, appears to be above the grooved slot.  Either I threaded the cable incorrectly, missing the grooved slot and housing (most likely), or the barrel cable end somehow pulled through the housing (unlikely).  No big deal, I'll push the cable back through the shifter and reseat.  Not so fast Bunky...

After an hour of screwing around, along with an additional 20 minutes from a neighbor - seems to be impossible to push the cable back through - gap is too tight.  Attempted to push cable with a thin awl from the back - sorry.  Grab from the front with needle nose pliers - sorry.  Removed two screws to hopefully access via plastic hatch - sorry.

Cutting the new cable would do nothing but allow the cable end to drift somewhere into the shifter housing.  Crap!

Considered removing pivot bolt lock nut and see where that gets me. I chicken out knowing STI shifters are not really designed to be taken apart.  You can just see the tiny springs, spacers and various watch like parts waiting to explode all over the garage.

After some online searching, discover this is a fairly common problem, though usually occurs when a worn cable snaps in the shifter, leaving the barrel end stuck.  My dilemma is similar, though my cable is intact.  From the online pics and stories that I read, some wound up buying a new shifter after unsuccessfully trying to remove the cable - some bike shops unable to remove as well.  Others drilled a small hole into the shifter housing to access the snapped cable.  Most removed after hours of poking and prodding with various awls and dental type tools.

Man, you'd think Shimano would have designed some kind of access hatch to remove a broken off cable end.  Replacing an expensive shifter assembly because of a broken cable is just plain nuts.  Even though my problem appears to be self induced, amazing that I can't easily remove the cable.

I plan to cut the new cable a few inches back and remove the shifter from the bike.  Then sitting a table with good lighting, can twist and access the shifter internals as needed.  Neighbor lent me a thin awl and really skinny needle nose pliers to poke around with.  What a pain in the uh, shifter.

Wish me luck.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

BOY - Powerful Short Film

Moving and incredibly well done short film.  Break out the hanky before viewing.  Having a cyclist son myself, even more powerful.  I wept both times viewed.  Call me sappy.  Impressive little film.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Levi's Commuter - Aboard the Bandwagon

While searching though Blog Land, came across a post in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, yapping about Levi's getting into the bicycle clothing market.  Debate if the concept is just a flash in the pan for Levi's, jumping into the commuter/transportation arena, or something that will stay in the Levi's lineup for awhile.

My vote is flash in the pan and Levi's will abandon the concept sooner or later, this whole "cycling thing" a blip on their marketing radar.  Even so, even with hipster alert written all over it, I still think what they're attempting is cool.  How many large, household name companies are pushing bicycling?  And indirectly, that's what they're doing.  Anything that gets cycling in the mainstream media is a good thing.  And if commuting and transportation oriented, even better.

The cycling racer image, of which I'm 100% guilty, will never sell to the mass market of everyday folks and get 'em on bikes.  Not going to happen.  Seeing people riding with street looking clothes - heading out to work, shop, whatever - more of an impact, I think.  The racer wannabe, training ride mentality, is a roadblock to getting more folks on two wheels.  And if the hipster fixie crowd gets more people on bikes, I'm all for it. Skinny jeans, sneakers, and toe straps included.

Check out the Levi's commercial.  When was the last time you saw anything advertising wise from a huge, non bicycle related company, spotlight cycling in such a positive way?  And for that, kudos to Levi's.  With any luck, I'm proven wrong and they sell piles of clothes and people actually wear 'em riding their bikes. 

Nothing wrong with that picture.