Archive for May 2011

Weekend of Biking

For this past holiday weekend some friends (Nick, Marty, Erik, Kristi) and I all headed up north to Pine Creek Lodge, a nice, basic, and affordable campground in Wellston right near Big M Ski Area, home to Lumberjack 100. The intention of the weekend was to pre-ride the Lumberjack course do a fair bit of mountain biking around the area. While much of our riding ended up being cut short from original plans, it was still a great weekend spent outdoors.

The trail tally for the weekend was as follows:

· Big M: Rode most of the outer trails as part of the LJ100 route. After some mechanical issues and as the afternoon rolled on we opted to cut our ride short and go eat dinner.
· North Country Trail, Segment B: Only rode from Udell trail head to Steinberg road and back. Super-fun segment, but rain set in and radar showed it to be a big storm so we headed back and went to visit Tippy Dam instead.
· Arcadia Dunes: This is an incredible IMBA-designed trail in a land preserve. Rolling, flowing, fun climbs and downhills here are great. If it wasn’t so hot I would probably have done a second lap.
· Midland City Forest: Rode this by myself on the way home, as I wanted a break from driving. Apparently I missed a traffic backup by stopping here. Interesting, tight trail with some very sketchy areas, yet fun to ride. Needs a bit of work in some places, but otherwise good. Met a guy named Mark Mutton here who explained the basic trail layout and showed me around a bit; this was very helpful and appreciated.

Coupled with a whole bunch of great food and coffee, sleeping in, and generally nice weather, this was a great weekend. The biggest downside was cutting the back of my right calf on my chainring while failing to make it up an iffy armored climb at Midland City Forest. I stumbled, and in keeping myself from falling I caught my leg on the chain ring and put this gash in it. Once cleaned up it doesn’t look too bad, but I’m still having a bit of pain from it whenever that muscle tenses and the skin there stretches. (Tomorrow’s planned single speed ride should prove to be interesting.)

We also ate quite well, with much of our food coming from either the Dublin General Store (home to lots of great meat products) or simply stuff cooked up on the fire or in Tak and Jon’s cabin. (They came up as well, but rode, stayed, and traveled separately.)

This was a really great weekend.

Here’s all the photos taken this weekend:

· Marty, Erik, Kristi, and Nick at the top of a random climb in Big M.
· Nick riding along a fun, fast, flat piece of trail in Big M along the Lumberjack course.
· Erik, Nick, Kristi, and Marty as we all took a brief rest somewhere along the Lumberjack route in Big M.
· Erik’s Pivot Mach 429 and my Titus Racer X 29er at the top of one of the harder climbs in Big M along the Lumberjack route.
· Bratwurst from Dublin General Store grilling on a rack at our camp site at Pine Creek Lodge in Wellston, MI.
· Looking down at the water at Tippy Dam as Kristi stands on the rocks.
· Erik, Nick, Kristi, and Marty while we took a trip to the Tippy Dam on the Manistee River.
· My bike in front of the sign for Arcadia Dunes, a mountain bike trail designed by IMBA and located in the C. S. Mott Nature Preserve.
· My bike in front of the Midland City Trails kiosk showing a map, trail rules, etc.
· Pet cemetary found along the Frog Hollow loop of the Midland City Trails.
· Chainring cut and grease mark after stumbling on a steep armored climb.
· Chainring wound acquired at Midland City Forest, cleaned with water and with antiseptic ointment applied.

First Fall of the Year: Tree Farm Pump Track

Tuesday’s wonderful weather prompted me to head out to the Tree Farm (aka Novi’s Lakeshore Park) for a ride on the El Mariachi. It was a great ride, and I’m finding that I really like the Specialized Comp shoes (as shown above). Now that the top of the tongue and area around the heel has slightly broken in they Just Fit, and seem to have a better overall feel than my previous (and likely very worn) old SIDIs.

I was quite happy that I was able to hang on with the faster group of folks at the front, especially when riding a completely rigid single speed. At one point while riding the pump track (and doing what I thought was a good job) I waffled on whether to exit the track or keep riding, and in doing so washed out my front wheel and fell. Save for some scrapes on my arm and knee I wasn’t hurt at all, so there’s my first fall of the year. I guess it’s a good way to start.

Historic Case Badges

This evening while cleaning out an old tool bag I found these two old computer case badges for Data Premium and Pack In Tell brand computers. These were two house brands from Computer Warehouse, a retail computer outlet in Troy and Madison Heights where I worked from late 1996 until early 1999. These shops were later known as Thomas Computer Warehouse and then Computer Builders Warehouse. During this time the Computer Warehouse stores worked closely with Inca Computer Company; so much so that I essentially transfered from CW to Inca to work in their R&D department. Once Inca closed up shop (it was basically a brick and mortar chain with grandiose plans opening right in the middle of the dot-com bubble) under I returned to Computer Warehouse for a few months before moving on to the world of corporate IT.

I think I’ve got an Inca badge or two around here somewhere as well.

Flowers: 2011

This morning I finally got all the plants on the front porch rearranged, planted new flowers and herbs, and lightly fertilized everything. Shown above is a lemon tree that Danielle bought, then some (typical for me) salvia, then the nifty purple plant whose name I’ve forgotten. Some peppermint was acquired and planted in the same place that the rosemary started, the sage now has its own pot and will hopefully flourish, and the garlic was moved in with the green onions. The purple plant whose name I can’t remember is also doing very well after Danielle cut it back over the winter.

If you’d like to see the rest of the photos of this year’s flowers and plants, click here: Flowers 2011.

Eggy Hash

Today’s lunch was some eggy hash, made with shredded potatoes, onion, roasted garlic, egg, salt, pepper, sweet corn, mild cheddar, chili powder, and (smoked) Spanish paprika. I probably should have used less cheese and left out the roasted garlic, but it was otherwise good. I’m also now quite full, which is good as I want to get a bunch of things done this afternoon.

Permanent Trail Marking for a One-Day Race

Apparantly the promoters of the Back To The Beach Half Marathon and 5K see fit to apply permanent spray paint to rocks, roots, and ruts along the route of a trail race. Yes, this one-day race has now caused much of the two track trail at Stony Creek to have nearly every mildly exposed non-dirt element on the trail to become a blaze orange eyesore.

The photo above was taken this morning when Pete, Mark, Bill, and I headed out to The Pines in Stony Creek to fix up a bunch of the muddy holes that developed during this especially wet spring. Using a mix of park-provided gravel, fill rocks, and a small amount of cement (as a light binder) we scraped out the mud holes, added fill, mixed in the scraped out mud, topped it with a light dusting of cement, raked it together, then tamped it firm. After settings up for a few hours these segments are now dry and hard-pack dirt, and should be much more resistant to washing away / turning to peanut butter in the coming years’ spring rains.

After the trail work I headed home and washed the Titus, then set back out on it towards Stony Creek to meet up with an old friend and coworker Jeff, who was there for the day with his son. The two of us rode a lap around Stony Creek’s main road, then ended up at West Branch Lot C, where Danielle (and a bunch of other friends) were at (or running) the Michigan DNRE’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman mountain bike class. After hanging around there for a while we retired to Rochester Mills Brewery, which I accessed by way of a bunch of single track, including The Pines to check out the sections we’d worked on this morning. I’m quite happy with how they came out, and I think they’ll go a long ways towards making the trail year-round ridable.

After Rochester Mills I headed towards home, racing the front that brought tonight’s rain. All said, this was a 39.75 mile ride over 2:47:22, for a moving average of 14.25 MPH. This is my fastest average time of the year, and the earliest ride last year of similar length and average speed didn’t happen until June, and had much more of it’s route along the relatively flat Paint Creek Trail.

UPDATE: Turns out that this may be spray chalk, but as I couldn’t rub it off a rock with my foot I’m hesitant to believe that. Or maybe it’s a long-lasting chalk. If this gets cleaned up / goes away within a couple weeks I’ll feel a lot better about it and take back harsh statements made about the use of long-term marking for a one-day event, but if markings I’ve seen other places in previous years are any indication this stuff will be visible for months.

I Like This Bike

Today was the Salsa El Mariachi‘s first trail ride, and it went well. Riding all the single track at Stony Creek and the two hardest climbs was great, and the rigid fork played a huge part of it. Being fully rigid and a single speed this bike feels completely different from the Titus, but in a good way. It fits me better than the VooDoo Dambala did and is the most comfortable rigid bike I’ve ridden. While not something that I’d set out for 40 – 60 mile rides on (at least not as it’s currently set up), it’s really fun on trails and I can see myself riding this quite a bit.

Salsa El Mariachi: Built

After work today I tore down the VooDoo Dambala and cleaning the parts for assembly on the Salsa El Mariachi frame. After the parts were disassembled and cleaned, after another five hours passed (including a break for dinner) this pile of parts turned into the bike you see above. It’s currently fitted with the rigid fork, but at some point in the future I’ll probably switch to the squishy Reba. For now I figure it’d be nice to get back to having a rigid single speed to ride, especially now that I’ve got some nice, reliable, wide-profile wheels.

I’m still waiting for another Carnegie’s Bar to arrive from the UK for this bike, but in the mean time it should do just fine with the FSA CarbonPro that had graced the VooDoo. There’s also going to be a bit more fiddling to do to get the saddle position right, but I think everything in a good starting place for now. With any luck I’ll be able to get out to Stony Creek tomorrow and try it out.

I’m really happy with how the look of the bike came out as well. Without really trying I ended up hitting a blue/shades-of-grey color scheme. While I’m not interested in spending an inordinate amount of time color coordinating a bike, I do like it when everything falls into place to have something nice looking. And here I was questioning the blue color of the frame at first…

MPHD Coating the Salsa El Mariachi

After work today I set to coating the inside of the Salsa El Mariachi frame with Amsoil MPHD . After removing the Alternator dropouts (PDF) I cleaned off any remaining grease on the bottom bracket shell and head tube and liberally fogged the tubes with the corrosion protectant. Tubes were done one at a time with the frame slowly rotated afterward, then once all tubes had been treated I hung/propped/laid the frame in all manner of positions to try and ensure that the protectant evenly coated all of the internal surfaces. After a number of rotations I hung the frame to with no tubes horizontal and headed off to get some dinner.

The frame continued to drip and dry, and after arriving home I was able to remove much of the residue left on the frame with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel. I hope that the MPHD will dry sufficiently over the next two days so that on Friday evening I can assemble the bike. Tomorrow evening I plan on disassembling the VooDoo and piecing together the major components (crankset, wheels, etc) so that come Friday I can properly build up the bike. Perhaps then on Saturday I’ll be able to go for a test ride out at Stony Creek.

The photo above shows the frame after the initial applications, but still with quite a bit of spill-over in the rear of the frame, on the newspaper spread on the garage floor, along the down tube gusset, etc.

Bald Mountain and Addison Oaks are Wet

After work today I met up with Jon at the Clarkston Road crossing of the Paint Creek Trail to ride Bald Mountain and Addison Oaks. While Bald Mountain was a bit wet Addison was so wet that we skipped the second half (and most fun part) of the trail. Still, it was nice to get out and ride some single track, particularly something other than Stony Creek. This isn’t to imply that Stony is bad, it’s just the local go-to single track and it’s nice to have a bit of variety.

The photo above shows one of the wonderful new maps at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. The story I’d heard is that the old park manager was retiring and didn’t do much his last few years there, but when the new person took over he started making all manner of positive changes. I’m not sure how true this story is, but within the last year all of the (previously terrible and generally useless) intersection signs in the park have been removed and replaced with new, high quality maps. Kiosks like this also have been put in place, and now Bald Mountain has a nice feeling of being-cared-for to it.

Here’s two more photos from today, one of a fallen tree which someone has formed into a sketchy log pile (note the chainring marks) and the other which is impassible for a typical rider. Also, here is a GPS plot that Jon recorded of tonight’s ride. Note that heart rate is definitely not mine.

Tonight’s ride (per my bike computer) ended up at 23.66 miles, 2:03:14 moving time, for an average of 11.56 MPH, with a maximum of 26.56 MPH.