A Time for Tubes

I’m very fond of tubeless fat bike wheels and moved to a set of SUNringlé Mulefüt rims (on Hope hubs) in mid-2014. These have worked great until the last two weeks when they went wrong with the On One Floater tires I’ve been using in snow. I was experiencing slow leaks on the rear that seemed to get more rapid as the day progressed, yet when aired up at home and in room they’d hold air reliably for days on end.

After a real rough time at the FunPromotions FatBike Series race yesterday at Addison Oaks (rear went flat slowly making for a hard ride / need to stop / etc) I gave a more serious look at the problem. Here’s what I found… The side knobs on one half of the rear tire (drive side) have become torn. I had noticed some slight tearing along the edge knobs before, but as the tire held air fine as tubeless for numerous rides before this, I didn’t think it was a problem. Apparently now it is. (This high res photo shows a bunch of the typical diagonal wrinkles, and the end of each one has a torn side knob.)

I suspect that a combination of new tears developing while riding and the freezing cold keeping the sealant from working normally resulted in the flats I was experiencing. I could dump more sealant in, get these holes to seal, and hope for the best, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea…  Instead of hoping for reliability out of something visibly failing I’ll switch to a tube on the rear.

The Surly Nate has seemed like a good winter tire and I could grab a pair of them to replace the Floaters, but I’m not too keen on rushing to buy new tires now just for the remainder of winter… Maybe I’ll just stick with a tube on the rear for the time being, and then decide what to do snow tire-wise some time before the next winter.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine + Pro Flywheel

Earlier today I purchased a used (but nearly new) Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and Pro Flywheel from someone local for cash plus a set of nearly-new tires that I didn’t need. I’d been interested in trying out a trainer with a heavier flywheel than the Cycleops Fluid 2 that I’ve used for the last few years as I suspected it’d smooth out my pedal stroke and make for a more outdoors-y feel. I’ve had problems getting my heart rate to the same levels on the trainer as when riding outdoors, and I suspected it was from the higher drag, constant hill climbing feeling that I was getting with the Fluid 2.

For my first ride tonight I did TrainerRoad’s 8 Minute Test (without the Pro Flywheel) and thus far I’m very happy. There is a much longer coast/spin down time with this trainer vs. the Fluid 2 resulting in less of a climbing-stairs feeling and something more like riding into a strong headwind. This I’m fine with. The result of the power test put me at a 304W FTP, and during the test I was able to reliably get my HR to roughly my maximum, somewhere in the mid 170 BPM range. The last time I did a test (back in October) I was barely able to hit the 160s.

On my first try with the large flywheel — after removing it to wipe everything down — I noticed that there’s a bit of vibration when I’d get it to higher RPMs. I imagine it just needs a little aligning, but if I continue to have issues hopefully Kurt will help sort things out. The larger flywheel provided an even more intertia, and it almost felt like riding down a gentle grade with a steady headwind when using it. Serious effort was required to get it started, but once it was going it seemed to smooth things out even more.

I’ll try it out on some longer sustained-effort rides in the near future and perhaps even do another power test with it, just to see what happens. I really hate power tests, though…

† TrainerRoad claims that it’s Virtual Power is roughly 3% off from a power meter when used with a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. It’d be nifty if this is the case, as I wouldn’t mind having a 300W FTP… That’d put me at roughly 3.79 watts per kilogram.

Low-Cost 29+ Stand

Building on the Low-Cost Fat Bike Stand idea and needing a way to support the forthcoming Jones Plus build I’ve built a 29+ bike stand from PVC pipe. By taking the previous plans, narrowing the main section, and adding length and height I got something which securely holds a 29+ (700c x 3.0″) wheel.

Modifications to the original plan involve narrowing the center pieces by 1″, adding 0.5″ to each support leg, adding 1″ to the pieces between the upright and the back side, lengthening the horizontal pieces for an 11.75″ opening, and increasing the height of the upright for a 25.5″ opening. This results in a stand which allows the wheel to set in, touch the ground, and slightly lean sideways against one of the uprights. The stand can also be placed directly against a wall and approximately 1″ will be left between the tire and the wall.

Parts for Jones Plus Build

I’ve had my eye on the Jeff Jones / Jones Bikes venerable Spaceframe for years, but wasn’t interested enough to pick one up. Still, Jeff’s bike designs have intrigued me. This winter everything fell into place for me to build up the newest Jones Bikes design, the Jones Plus. Being built as a single speed it’ll replace my well loved steel Salsa El Mariachi, but it is should easily be convertable to a geared bike, should the desire arise.

After months of thought, collecting parts via group buys, weird corners of the internet, local bike shops, and the Jones Bikes store itself, the parts are now all here and the build has begun. Here’s the collected list of parts going into the bike. Not all have arrived yet (and the list will be updated if needed), but if all goes as planned it’ll be built by the beginning of March:

Frame / Fork: Jones Plus (24″)

Headset: Jones Headset for Truss Fork

Front Hub: Jones 135/142-F Hub

Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350 135mm Disc Brake (Int.Standard) w/ Bontrager 54t Star Ratchet Set (436413)

Front Axle: Jones (Comes w/ Fork)

Rear Skewer: Shimano M770 (Deore XT, 173mm, Y3TG98020)

Rims: Nextie Jungle Fox Carbon Fat MTB 29+ Rim 50mm Width Double Wall Hookless Tubeless Compatible [NXT50JF] w/ 3mm Offset (measured 576.5mm ERD)

Spokes: DT Swiss Supercomp (Black, 276mm, Spoke Calculator Screenshot)

Nipples: DT Swiss standard, aluminum (Bilver, 1.8mm, 16mm long)

Tires: Bontrager Chupacabra

Tubeless Valves: Stan’s NoTubes 44mm

Tubeless Sealant: Stan’s NoTubes Tire Sealant

Rim Tape: Stan’s NoTubes Rim Tape 21mm

Brakes: Shimano XT, Levers: BL-M785, Calipers: BR-M785

Brake Rotors: Front Rotor: SM-RT76-M (180mm), Rear Rotor: SM-RT76-S (160mm)

Crankset: SRAM XO1 (GXP, 175mm, Black)

Crank Protectors: Race Face Carbon Crank Boots, (Black)

Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP (Silver)

Chainring: MRP Bling Ring (32t, GXP, Silver)

Rear Cog: Surly Cassette Cog (18t)

Chain: SRAM PC 991

Single Speed Spacer Kit: Surly Spacer Kit

Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3 (Black)

Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 (23 Degree)

Stem: Thomson Elite X4 : 31.8 Mountain (1-1/8″ x 10° x 90 mm x 31.8 mm, SM-E138 BLACK)

Headset Spacers: Wheels Manufacturing Black Aluminum

Stem Cap: Niner YAWYD

Grips: Ergon GP1 (L)

Saddle: Specialized Phenom (143mm)

Seatpost: Thomson Elite (27.2 dia. x 410 mm, SP-E113 BLACK, Straight)

Collected photos of the parts can be found here.

WinHTTP PAC File Caching Location

When troubleshooting issues with proxy auto-config (PAC) files and WinHTTP on Windows 8.1 you may wish to view the cached PAC files which the WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service have written to disk. These cached PAC files can be found in c:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\LocalService\winhttp and are named with a nine digit number and a cache extension (eg: 1667635681.cache). There is also a cachev3.dat file which appears to contain the download location of the PAC file, the MIME type of the file, and the download date/time.

This can be discovered by using Process Monitor with a filter of Path contains winhttp when the WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service is started (net start WinHttpAutoProxySvc).

2014 Lumberjack 100: No, or Not Yet…

Just over an hour from now registration will open for Lumberjack 100. This is one of my favorite races; 100 miles of beautiful northern Michigan trails at the beginning of summer. However, this is the first time in three years that I won’t be signing up today.

This race usually sells out quickly so last year I signed up the day registration opened, but right around the time I was to start the training plan for it I decided that I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t face a third year of rigorously following a strict schedule of when and how to ride, so I sold my entry. I kept roughly following the long ride weekends of the training plan† because I liked how all the riding made me feel, but without the sense of obligation or goal.

My plan for the Lumberjack 100 weekend was instead to head up to the race, hang out, volunteer, and do a bunch of riding on my own in the area, with one lap mid-race to help out. Instead something clicked, I had a great spring without pressure, and when a couple weeks before the race a friend offered me an entry at a great price, I accepted. Not only did I finish the race, but I beat my previous time by more than an hour.

Good luck to everyone registering today — it’s a great event — but I once again don’t want the pressure. So, what happened last year will be my plan… Ride my bike, have fun, reserve a cabin in the area, and if closer to race day it sounds like I’m wanting to do the race, I’ll get a transfer and do it. If not, it’ll be a fun weekend of hanging out at one of the best races in Michigan.

† I’d been using the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race – Finisher Plan which is comprised of shorter rides Tuesday – Thursday and then longer rides on Saturday and Sunday. I highly recommend this plan to anyone considering a 100 mile race, particularly Lumberjack 100. It does a great job of building lots of endurance. The most impressive thing I found about it was, post-training plan, the ability to go out on a five or six hour ride just for fun without it seeming like a serious, insurmountable effort.

Broken Derailleur Hanger

For the first time in my life, I’ve broken a derailleur hanger. Yesterday when riding at Bald Mountain Recreation Area, a few miles from my car which was parked at Addison Oaks, I heard a thunk and looked down to see the derailleur in a rather awkward, unhelpful position (photo). Sunset was coming soon, and while I had lights the Oakland County Police who patrol Addison Oaks† are not fond of those who are in the park after dark, so I had to do some quick thinking to get back to the car.

Along with breaking the derailleur hanger, the derailleur cage itself was twisted, so I figured there was no way to get rolling without making the bike a single speed‡. I removed the derailleur, strapped the cable and housing back, broke the chain, and re-connected the chain in the best gear combination I could identify for decent chain tension. While there were occasional shifts up and down the cassette as the chain bounced, this worked well until I was climbing the final hill before Lake George Road.

With a bang the chain had ridden one cog on the cassette higher than intended, tensioning the whole assembly so tightly that I couldn’t turn the cranks. Opening the quick release rear skewer transferred tension to the skewer, bending it, and making things worse. Since the bike would freewheel my only choice at that point was to walk the bike out, hopping on to coast down hills. Thankfully I was only two miles from the car at this point.

I’m still not exactly sure what happened to cause the break, but I can’t help but suspect that yesterday’s crash had weakened it somewhat. Even though was shifting fine and the derailleur appeared straight, I suppose this could have played some part?

Once I got home I set to fixing the bike, and thanks to having a spare derailleur (leftover from making the El Mariachi a 1×9) and basic parts like a spare derailleur hanger, chain, and cable, I was able to get the bike working nicely again. It also gave me a good reason to wash the bike and clean Orange Seal residue from the tubeless valve stems. When the chain bound one cog on the cassette became slightly bent, so now it makes a bit of noise when riding, but it wasn’t noticeable on a test ride. I’ll try to bend it back when I next have the cassette off the bike.

The photo above shows the broken derailleur hanger, and what I believe to be plastic deformation. I find the stretching of the laser etched “Wheels Mfg Droput-25″ logo to be particularly fascinating, as it shows how the aluminum stretched before failing. The thin, torn off sliver is interesting to me as well.

After the work my bike is back in order, and while everything seems in place, I need to give it a shakedown ride before I’m willing to take it out on remote trails. With luck I’ll be able to squeeze this in tomorrow morning.

† It seems that junior / trainee officers are regularly assigned to Addison Oaks, and they seem to take a hard line which makes them less than pleasant to deal with. While a broken bike likely would have been a fine excuse for being in the park after dark, I didn’t want to deal with this.

‡ In retrospect after inspection at home, I probably could have gotten the bike well enough to ride out with a new hanger. I’d have had to deal with a bunch of mis-shifts, but at least I wouldn’t have bound the chain and had to walk. This is what I should have done… Oh well, at least it was a nice day and now I have a story.

Anatomy of a Crash

 

Today’s weather was cold — right about freezing — but sunny and with very low wind, which is just about perfect for getting in a mid-afternoon ride on hard, snowless trails. Riding this time of year is almost like riding on concrete trails and generally quite fast, save for the occasional spots where a thin top layer has thawed in the sun. These spots end up acting like grease sitting on pavement and require a bit of caution and attentiveness. Riding today… one got me.

I was following the 6/12 Hour Route that I so love, and just after the Grassy Knoll heading towards Woohoo Hill there is a long, sweeping turn section that’s fairly flat and pretty basic. It can usually be ridden quite quickly, but today 50′ or so had a thin greasy layer and I ended up crashing on it, sliding along for a ways on my hip.

The photo above shows where my bike ended up (click here to embiggen), and what I find most fascinating about it is the forensic evidence it contains:

  • Lower left corner of the image is where the normal tread (45NRTH Hüsker Dü) in the mud layer ends. I would have been leaning the bike slightly at this point.
  • The long bar-like tread marks are where the tire began to slide, and the wide side knobs left grooves in the direction of the bike sliding to the outside of the turn as the tire rotated forward. This indicates the bike was leaning quite far by this point.
  • Rear tire track is on the left, evidenced by it being on top of the track on the right.
  • The tires then hit a small root, which being on an unsuspended bike impart a bit of bounce. This is why there is a gap in tire marks after the root.
  • Rear wheel was moving in a wider radius than the front, which is not what normally happens. The bike was thus no longer pointed in the direction of travel.
  • Wobbles and gaps in the tire marks indicate that the bike was pretty much sideways and out of control at this point.
  • The flattened-smooth part of the tire marks is where my hip/right leg first made contact with the ground and I began sliding.
  • The S curve and straight grooves in the dirt (directly below the top of the rear tire in the image) are from the brake lever and end of the handle bar. The brake lever made the S mark as it compressed and while pushing into the ground.
  • Light mud is visible on only the right half of each tire. This shows that I was already leaning the bike when I hit the greasy mud.

So, what’s the takeaway? It’s a pretty simple message: don’t lean the bike when encountering greasy mud, and if there’s a need to two-wheel side through an area like that, try to avoid bumps that’ll contribute to a loss of traction. Normally I’m good about both of these, but today… I wasn’t. And I have the bruised hip and scraped knee to show it.

On the next pass through this section I was much, much more careful… This isn’t something that I needed a photo to know, but I do think it’s pretty nifty to see post facto.

 

 

Contrails and Haze

This is the view off of the front porch, with a nearly full moon and chemtrails contrails casting shadows on a layer of hazy clouds. I really like how this looks, and wish I was better at photographing such things.

Micro SIM in Nokia 1661

Sometimes you just need to make a SIM card fit… Like in this case where my warranty replacement Nexus 5 from T-Mobile failed a few days after receiving it and I want the same account working on my spare Nokia 1661. I’m glad it still has the alignment marks on it from when I needed to do this earlier in the year.

My first Nexus 5 gradually had the GPS module fail, beginning to be problematic in September and coming to a head in mid-November. The warranty replacement — which I received six days ago — has the screen brightness seemingly stuck at the dimmest mode possible. I’ve already done a full data wipe, so tomorrow I get to visit a T-Mobile store and pursue another replacement… But at least I’ve got a way to make calls and send texts until the next replacement is received.