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Month: April 2011

River Bends Line Trimming

This afternoon Pete and I headed out to River Bends to add a final bit of polish to the new half-mile segment of single track that’s been in development for the last month: line trimming grasses and raking it. Pete ran the trimmer and I followed behind with a leaf rake clearing away debris. Since some portions of the trail pass through stands of grass, this is necessary to mark the trail and scorch the earth so the trail will take hold. The photo above shows one such segment which should now establish itself as bare dirt trail, ready for bikes, hikers, runners, etc.

After we finished this segment of trail Pete left and I headed back out to walk the rest of the trail and clear up things as I could. I ended up removing a number (3 or 4?) trees that had fallen across the trail, with most of them needing to be sawed into pieces before the pieces could be cleared. Unfortunately I also found that a number of segments of the trail is a muddy mess, but that’s no surprise given the recent rains.

I also came across the stakes that Shelby Township appears to be using to mark a new asphalt path that’ll connect the park with downtown Utica. While the construction of this project will impact a good deal of the existing single track in the park, I look forward to it as it’ll make the area considerably more accessible and provided one of the missing-link connectors between Stony Creek and Metro Beach Metroparks.

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Clearance Bike Shoes (2010 Specialized Comp)

My current bike shoes are 2.5 years old and getting a bit stretched and beat up, so I’ve been thinking about replacing them with a pair of Specialized-brand shoes because I’ve heard good things from a number of friends about how well their Body Geometry products fit. (I’ve also been very happy with their Phenom saddle, another BG product.)

On Friday I stopped into Fraser Bicycle and Fitness to pick up another Feedback Sports RAKK and while there I noticed that they had a number of last year’s shoes on clearance, including a pair of Specialized MTB shoes in my size for 50% off. Being ~$70 instead of ~$140 made it an easy choice. The shoes I ended up with are 2010 Comp MTB Shoe, in brown, size 46. They can be seen above fitted with toe studs, brand new Crank Brothers Eggbeater cleats, and Crank Brothers Shoe Shields.

As part of adjusting them I removed the toe studs and moved the cleats up about 10mm, roughly two marks on the bottoms of the shoes. While I like the idea of the toe studs they make walking prohibitively difficult and I don’t think I’m likely to find myself in a situation where they are needed. I might install them for a cyclocross race in the fall, but otherwise I think they’ll stay off the shoes.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to try them out for actual trail riding and see how they work. The uppers of these seem quite a bit stiffer than my previous shoes so hopefully that won’t be a bother. I don’t remember what the Sidis were like when I got them, but I don’t remember them being quite this stiff. Hopefully this won’t be a problem.

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Stony Creek Single Speed on New Wheels

After work today I took my single speed out for a test ride on the new wheels that I built for it. I started at the F parking lot of Stony Creek’s West Branch picnic area, rode up to the top of Mt. Sheldon, down the Roller Coaster, and then back up to the top of Mt. Sheldon after finding other routes that I’d normally ride to be flooded. This wasn’t a particularly long route, but as it was my first single speed ride of the year on hilly single track and I rode it non-stop it felt nice. Having forgotten to reinstall the wheel magnet after rebuilding the wheels I was unable to obtain a distance reading, but I figure it was somewhere around six or seven miles.

During the ride I kept trying to identify some new feel with the wider rims on the new wheels, but I really don’t think it made a noticeable difference. The wheels did work well, and despite my failing to go easy on them they stayed true and seemed to be exactly the same as when I set out on them. No spoke pops were heard, nothing went awry, and they Just Worked™. Maybe I did an okay job.

I still need to swap out the stem for a slightly longer Thomson that I picked up from a teammate a few weeks back and this should make the bike a bit more comfortable, but for now I’m happy. I can ride my single speed again. Yay!

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New Single Speed Wheels

After ~8 hours of work I have a complete set of wheels for my single speed again. Starting with a dented rim and acquiring parts to do the rebuild I set to learn to understand how to lace the rims and how to finish off the wheels. Having renippled a wheel set before I had a bit of experience with tensioning and truing wheels, but these were a bit different spec and the work was done two years ago, so there was a lot to learn.

I ended up with a three-cross lacing, symmetrically laced on the front wheel and asymmetrically on the rear. This is per the recommendation of Shimano for disc brake wheels, and confirmed by info found at the Disc Wheel Lacing article at PVDwiki. A setup like this is the same as is used on motorcycles, and appears to be recommended by all manufacturers (except Chris King) as the best way to set up wheels. Best I can understand this will allow the wheel to accept lots of load on the front wheel when braking and an even amount on the rear when braking or pedaling.

Once the wheels were done I put the tires and rotors back on and took a brief spin around the parking lot, riding up and down curbs as frequently as possible. I heard one or two small spoke pops, but otherwise they seem all right. I think I’ll end up going for a ride on them then retensioning / truing them on more time, and after that hopefully they’ll be okay.

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After picking up parts for new wheels from Trail’s Edge I headed out to Maybury State Park to ride the trails there. Most of the trail was fine to ride with only intermittent wet spots, but one section around 300′ long was sloppy, wet, and even difficult to walk around (photo). After my first lap I wanted to ride more, but stopped just before this muddy section and rode gravel / pavement back to the trail head. Along the way I passed the creature seen above, a raccoon who had clearly seen better days.

It was very nice to get out and ride at Maybury again. At first I wasn’t feeling too great about riding there, but by the second lap I’d remembered what I like about it. I only wish I’d been able to ride it a bit more. While I normally don’t mind walking past a messy section of trail, a 300′ walk through soft leaf-covered mud puts a pretty big damper on things. I’ll just have to go back once it’s dried out a bit more.

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Wheel Parts Are Here!

For my first lesson in wheel building I’ll be following Jobst Brandt’s book The Bicycle Wheel and building up the following parts into what are hopefully a good set of single speed wheels. I’m intending to use basic motor oil for spoke/nipple lube and no locking compound. Hopefully with sufficient attention to detail I’ll be able to build a solid, true, appropriately tensioned, and very reliable set of wheels.

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Another Half-Mile of Trail…

Today some folks and I headed out to River Bends to do some more work on the new segment of trail, and now it’s open and ridable. There’s still a bit of line trimming needed and the park has to cut out a few trees, but it’s otherwise ready to go.

An Eagle Scout candidate, Spencer Wood, is also doing some work on the trails as part of his project. While we were out working on the trails today he had a crew of people installing these footings for a trail head kiosk which will hold a trail map and other relevant park info. Once this is done, the trail is ridable, and a bit more signage is in place this is going to be quite a nice little trail system.

If you’d like to see the new route, the most recent version of the map can be found here: River_Bends_17-Apr-2011.pdf.

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Hubs for Single Speed Wheel Rebuild

After ordering new rims, spokes, and nipples I disassembled the wheel I damaged a week and a half ago and it’s front counterpart, and here are the hubs. The front is a WTB LaserDisc Lite and the rear is a WTB LaserDisc Single Duty. These will be rebuilt with butted DT Swiss spokes and Salsa Semi 29’er Disc rims.

This will be my first full wheel build. About two years ago I built a truing stand and replaced the nipples in the 26″ wheels on my Specialized, and despite taking a while I seem to have gotten it right. The wheels have stayed true and I haven’t had any problems with them. This should be very similar, with only the addition of having to lace the wheels first. I still have to get my head around doing this properly, especially on disc brake wheels, but I hope (and expect) that it’ll work out pretty well. I can’t ride my single speed until it does, so I’m a bit anxious.

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CamelBak Bottle Cleanliness Issues

The biggest design failure of CamelBak Bottles for cycling (the Sport line) is the difficulty of cleaning the burst valve in the cap. The above photo shows the black mold / mildew that I found after removing the mouthpiece and plastic retaining ring which holds the burst valve in place. This portion of the assembly can only be flushed and can’t be mechanically cleaned without this (slightly difficult, and not designed into the bottle’s use) disassembly.

Note that the burst valve (seen on the right) is made of a rich blue color rubber (seen around the edges) and the inside of the valve assembly (seen on the left) should be a solid silver color. I was able to clean this with a toothbrush and some soap, but it surely won’t be long before this has to be done again.

Even after this I’ll continue to use some of these bottles, but I definitely won’t buy any. (I happened to get this one and an insulated one for free. They are nice, but at ~$10/ea and with this cleaning difficulty I don’t think they are worth buying.)

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High Winds and a Clean Garage

I went home early from work today because I was motion sick due to the swaying of the building in the high winds. I didn’t expect this to happen as I don’t normally get motion sick, but an hour after arriving at work I felt my head swimming, my stomach churning, and I was unable to think clearly. Even eating a bit of lunch didn’t help, but walking around for a bit at ground level seemed to. So, around 1pm I headed home and finished up the afternoon working remotely, which isn’t a particularly challenging thing since most of my work is remote, but instead of being 35 miles away I’m normally about 300′ away.

After getting home it took almost another four hours before I was feeling better, but after that occured I decided that it was a good day for cleaning the garage. This hadn’t been properly done in two or three years and was long overdue, so it was quite satisfying to finally wash the floor. It only took about an hour to empty the garage, sweep it, and hose it out. After letting it dry out (which was helped by the wind) I put everything back in, and now the garage floor is as clean as the basement floor. I can once again walk outside with bare feet without needing to brush then off before coming back in.

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