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Month: June 2011

First Flat of the Year

Today while riding at Stony Creek I got my first flat of the year, a pinch flat that happened somewhere in the Back 9 of the Roller Coaster. Just yesterday I switched from the original rigid fork on the Salsa El Mariachi to a squishy Rock Shox Reba which made me feel much more comfortable riding the trail quickly. I strongly suspect that I was fine with the lower pressure when riding the rigid bike more slowly, but today I took something a little too fast, didn’t pick as nice of a line, and pinched the tube. Oh well. That’s what spares are for.

(This was another great day of riding. In the last four days I’ve been lucky enough to ride almost all of my favorite local trails, including Bald Mountain, Addison Oaks, Stony Creek, River Bends, and Maybury.)


Thanks, Feedback Sports!

For years now I’ve been using Feedback Sports’ RAKK storage and display stands to hold up bikes around the house. Unfortunately, the place I bought all of mine from sold them without the clips to hold them together. Wanting to clip them together in the garage I emailed Feedback Sports asking if they had them available.

After a brief exchange of email, Sammy, an internal sales and customer support person sent me a $0 invoice for the exact number of clips that I didn’t have, and it arrived this morning. Now I’m able to hook all four racks together, which is quite nice as then they don’t slide around the floor when shoving bikes into them.

Thanks, Feedback Sports!

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Platform Pedals and Sandals

I’m not going to complain about a trip to the ATM and UPS drop box expanding into an hour+ ~14 mile ride that involves meeting Danielle for frozen custard, but platform pedals and sandals weren’t the best choice. Next time I’ll wear something better.

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River Bends Trail Video: June 2011

Yesterday I met up with some friends from MMBA / mountain biking stuff and recorded this video of one lap of the current single track at River Bends. It starts out with me following a guy named Jim (who provided the camera), until part-way through (after ripping his shirt on a tree) he drops back and I follow Vlad to the end of the single track trail. This does not show any of the pavement, seasonal loops, or two track return trail.

Click the image above or here to watch.

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Wickwerks Chainrings

Having worn out the chainrings on the Titus I took time to tear down the bike, check torque on all fasteners, bleed and change the fluid in the brakes, and generally give it a mid-year cleaning. I also fitted the Wickwerks chainrings seen above, a Mountain XC Compact set acquired in this bundle. (The cranks were used on the Salsa El Mariachi.)

Erik and Nick are both using these rings, and I’d heard nothing but great things about them, including how (incredibly) quickly they shift. Having fitted them and gone for a test ride, I’m very impressed. The specially ramped rings quickly lift the chain, making shifts happen much faster than traditional rings where a pin or two will lift the chain. Whether or not high performance front shifting is really that important is definitely debatable, but with the rings being a good price (in the bundle) I’m considering them worth it.

What’s particularly interesting is something that Erik pointed out. When on the bike stand the front chainrings seem to shift just about as well as any other set. However, once on the bike and under load they shift much, much faster.


Time For New Chainrings

While riding this past week I had a few occurrences of what seemed like a bit of chain suck which quickly corrected itself. I’ve also been having a problem with the chain dropping into the smallest chainring up front, telling me that it’s time to look at (and readjust) my drivetrain. Looking over the rings this evening I found this large burr on the middle ring, along with a whole bunch of wear, which means that it’s time to replace the middle chainring. I also got to looking at the cassette, and it’s likely due for replacement too, with small burrs forming on the more commonly used cogs. The chain is fine, with Park Tool’s CC-3 indicating less than .75% stretch, and thus safe to continue using.

When I built up the Salsa El Mariachi I used a Race Face Deus crankset purchased on a deal from Wickwerks which got me the crankset and a triple set of Wickwerks rings for just under $200. With the crankset now fitted with a Surly ring I have the Wickwerks rings left over and ready to go on the Titus. While the smallest and largest rings aren’t worn enough to replace I think I’ll replace them anyway so that I’ve got a matching Wickwerks set along with it’s high performance shifting.

I’ll probably do this all sometime later in the week, as tonight’s going to involve going to bed early. In the mean time I’ve got two other excellent bikes to ride.

Photo of worn, almost hooked middle chainring from the Titus’ original crankset.

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Lumberjack 100, NCT, etc.

This past weekend was the Lumberjack 100 (LJ) race up north, and I headed up with Erik, Kristi, Nick, and Marty to both volunteer for the race and watch Nick and Erik finish. We stayed in a nice (and rather remote-feeling) cabin, everything went according to plan, and I was able to get in a bunch of nice riding on both the North Country Trail and at Midland’s City Forest. It was a very nice weekend.

On Thursday after work I headed up north, meeting Erik and Kristi at Shay Station, a very nice coffee shop / restaurant place in Cadillac. We headed to the cabin, met up with Nick and Marty, then had a lazy evening and Friday which mostly involved final bike maintenance, eating good food (thanks, Kristi!), and relaxing. Then, Saturday morning was Lumberjack.

I woke at 4am, as I had to be at the trailhead at 5:30am to work my first volunteer shift in the parking lot. Just after this wrapped up the 337-strong pack of racers passed me (pic · pic) and the race was on, so it was time for me to head to the aid station for the first shift there. This was a great place to be, as it allowed me to see all the leaders come through on their first lap and then help out any of those who stopped and needed assistance. Working at the aid station mostly involved filling up people’s hydration packs and bottles, getting them food, and just generally helping them out if the needed anything. It was quite nice, and something really fun to do as opposed to sitting back in a tent and waiting for people to finish.

After the aid station shift I took a short break, then spent some time handing out patches. Everyone who finishes LJ gets a dated patch commemorating their completion of the race just as the cross the finish line, and this was also a great (albeit slightly hectic) time since I got to see quite a few people I know crossing. After a few hours of this (and being able to give Erik his patch) I turned the job over to someone else and hung out back in the Trail’s Edge team tent. Not long after Nick came across the finish line (pic) for his first LJ finish. That evening we celebrated with beer and bratwurst (Garlic/Kraut and Jalapeno) from The Dublin General Store, but due to the long day (albeit not nearly as long as Nick and Erik’s) I soundly fell asleep pretty early.

The next day after we all packed up and parted ways, and I headed off towards the Timber Creek Trailhead to ride some of the North Country Trail (NCT). Not knowing much about the area in which I was riding I ended up heading north for 45 minutes, then turning back towards the trail head. After reaching the trail head I wanted to ride some more, and a quick look on the map showed a river access not far away, so I headed south down the NCT to the Upper Branch Bridge River Access and spent some time wading around in the water before returning to the car.

This was an absolutely wonderful segment of trail to ride. Very beautiful but with nice rolling hills and great views. I’d really like to do it again, but next time riding straight through from one of the other trail heads. That’d put it at roughly a 40 mile ride, so there’d be a need to stage cars for this.

After leaving the NCT I stopped off at Midland City Forest on the way home, just for a bit more riding. The trail was much drier than the last time I was there and it was a bit more fun to ride, even though I was quite tired and got turned around (read: lost) a few times.

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Bartaza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder

Yesterday afternoon Danielle and I received another one of the gifts on our Amazon Wedding Registry, but this one is something that I’d specifically picked out: a Baratza Virtuoso coffee grinder. For years now I’ve been grinding and brewing coffee fresh every morning, and Danielle has started to do the same. The coffee grinder that we had (well, still have) was a basic Mr. Coffee model that worked, but leaked grounds, had static electricity problems (read: grounds would fly out and cling to things when opening it), and would clog a couple times a week.

After doing a bunch of research, this grinder seemed to be the most cost effective model, while still holding a goodly quantity of beans. Having received it I’m not disappointed. It feels very solidly made, is much quieter than the previous grinder, has a more consistent grind, and doesn’t build up a bunch of static. I’m really looking forward to using this. Hopefully it’ll be the end of having to listen for the telltale sign of the grinder starting to clog and running to the kitchen to stop it before it plugs and starts heating the grounds and turning the clogged bits into powder.

Thanks, Bennett!