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Month: October 2011

New Wheels, Great Test Ride

To deal with the rash of recent broken spokes (1, 2) I decided to build up a set of new wheels. These are SRAM X9 hubs, Velocity Blunt SL rims, and DT Swiss Competition spoke with black brass nipples. Last night I finished them up and today I took them for a test ride.

This ride ended up being really nice. I first set out towards Stony Creek, and when cutting through a service road past a local fire station (this avoids a bunch of sidewalk and an awkward corner) I came across a cut apart car behind the fire station. I suspect that this was used for a demonstration during the township fire department’s recent open house. (I attended another similar open house a number of years back, and photos of car dismanteling from that can be seen here.)

I next headed up Mound and wound my way through some neighborhoods to 25 Mile Road, which I took to Shelby Rd. and in to Stony Creek, climbing the (frustrating) paved hill at the entrance and then ducking into the Trolly Trails as soon as it began pointing downward. By chance I just happened to run across Pete Kresmery, Mark Senyk, Lloyd Lind, and Brad Byrne in there, which was a nice surprise. We all rode for a while heading north along the east side of the lake via the fitness trails, around the pavement for a bit to the West Branch lot, then for a lap through The Roller Coaster. After this we separated ways, but I just happened to run into Billy Kepsel, and he and I rode a little two track and then one lap of The Pines together before parting ways as I turned off to head to Rochester via Sheldon Road.

Unexpectedly, I then caught up with another guy riding along the road that I happened to know, Alex Mitevski, who was out for a pre-Iceman ride with his brother and dad. The four of us then rode together back to Rochester, where we had a rather interesting experience with an irate driver just as we headed south along Letica Drive through this intersection. I heard a horn honking a ways back and looked back to see a 20-30-ish something guy in an older Jeep Cherokee angrily honking and screaming while passing us with his window rolled down. I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying, but with headphones in and cigarette hanging out of his mouth he was horsely screaming something about getting on the (pedestrian filled, at that point) sidewalk before he sped off at 50 MPH+ into a 25 MPH zone.

Welcome to biking in Rochester, I guess. The last time I was on roads here, I was in another 25 MPH section when someone tried to question me about my right to be on roads because bicycle use supposedly doesn’t pay road taxes.

After parting ways with Alex and his family I headed over towards Bloomer, hoping to ride a bit of the trails there before heading homeward. Most of the trails near the river were wet, and as I didn’t feel like getting lost on the other single track I just rode the beautifully cleared (see above) lower ridge trail a couple of times, poked around the two track, then headed out the southern not-really-entrance at Dequindre. I’d wanted to cut through the foot path behind Yates Cider Mill and over into Holland Ponds, but with autumn cider season being in full swing I instead headed over to 23 Mile Road and wound my way to River Bends via the sidewalk and Mound Rd.

Just as yesterday when out riding the Mukluk the trail was in great shape, but with the addition of some water and frost parts were a little greasy. This resulted in exciting times such as what’s shown above, when I had a low speed, fun little fall when the back end of my bike kicked out on a wet climbing turn. The rest of the ride was uneventful, and I left the park via a back route across the train tracks and through Utica. I then had an uneventful ride through a typical route via some Utica neighborhoods, through a park, along 21 Mile, then north along Milonas and back home.

This was a really great day for a ride, the new wheels held up to the 41.95 miles (3:13:40 moving time) without issue, and I even managed to ride with a bunch of friends. I’ll try to clomp around on them a bit more this week to be sure, and then hopefully they’ll stay good during Iceman next Saturday.

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Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Chapter II, Part 1512: Requirements for Bicycles

In case you’ve wondered where to find the Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements for bicycles, here is a summary: regsumbicycles.pdf

While the previous PDF is a brief summary (described within as “…a simple unofficial description…”), the full regulations can be found here: TITLE 16–Commercial Practices, CHAPTER II–CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION, SUBCHAPTER C–FEDERAL HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT REGULATIONS, PART 1512–REQUIREMENTS FOR BICYCLES

(I looked this up this morning because I’d remembered that bicycles and pedals are supposed to be sold with reflectors but I wanted to find a citation. It seems that this is required even if a bike is custom assembled, unless it is “…a bicycle that is uniquely constructed to the order of an individual consumer other than by assembly of stock or production parts.”.)

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Salsa Mukluk 2

This past week I received a new Salsa Mukluk 2, and yesterday I finally finished assembly and got it out for a ride. In short: I really like this bike. Being a fat bike it’s got tremendously large tires which were originally designed for riding in snow, sand, and on other soft surfaces. This makes for a very interesting but really fun ride. I’m really looking forward to trying it in snow. As I already do a fair amount of winter riding (up until the snow is too deep to ride) this should extend the riding season for me even further. I am also really hoping to take it up north to the area around Sleeper State Park and Danielle’s aunt and uncle’s cabin so I can explore riding it on beaches and on sandy roads.

This bike was purchased via our team shop, Trail’s Edge Cyclery, and this allowed me to receive it unassembled and have fun building it up myself. Over three evenings I slowly (and enjoyably) put it together. This involved putting all the major pieces together, cutting the steerer tube while fitting the fork, cabling the whole bike, and setting up the drivetrain. Putting it together myself gave me a chance to set up the bike fit things (seatpost height, saddle fore/aft adjustment) from the get-go, and careful measuring of my other bikes resulted in the Mukluk being wonderfully comfortable for the first ride.

I also made a few slight modifications during assembly, including switching all cage mounts to stainless steel fasteners, filling empty (potential water ingress) holes with screws, converting a downtube bottle cage mount into additional cable retention points, wrapping the chainstay with an old tube, soaking the rust-resistant zinc-coated chain in ProLink Voyager, and fitting Ergon GP1 grips. This was a really enjoyable process and I’m very happy with the results. Due to the larger wheels I also had to fit a spacer kit to my bike rack so the wheels to fit, but this generally went well and works as advertised.

Yesterday I took the bike out for a first ride at River Bends, and it went rather well. I’ve got a small tick that seems seatpost/saddle related that I need to look into, but other than that I had no issues with it. The twist shifters seem nice but will take some getting used to; having no particular indexing for the front derailleur is quite a change, but being able to trim the front derailleur on the fly is nice.

In the photo album Salsa Mukluk 2 you can see a number of photos that I took during the unboxing, build, and first ride. Click here if you’d like to see them.

(Incidentally, this just happens to be post #1000 since March 31, 2008 when I moved to using WordPress for blog posting.)

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Salsa Mukluk 2 is Here!

Yesterday a friend played delivery driver and picked up my new (but unassembled) Salsa Mukluk 2 from our team bike shop, Trail’s Edge. Last night I mostly unpacked it and took pictures and hopefully I’ll get it assembled by the end of the weekend. There’s a lot to do and I’m intending to be particularly picky during assembly, but I’m also really looking forward to riding it.

The photo above is of my workbench with some of the parts laid out on it and the front wheel aired up to 30psi in order to stretch the tire to shape and get the bead seated properly. These wheels are massive.

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Wrong Size Car Battery

A not-starting car this afternoon led me to purchase a new battery† on the way home from today’s bike riding. Unfortunately, when I went to install it I found that the part spec’d by O’Reilly Auto Parts to fit a 2006 Honda Civic EX, Super Start Battery #35-72 doesn’t quite fit. The photo above shows why, and after reading a bit it appears that I need a Group Size 51R battery and this 35-72 is something else. I’m not quite sure what size it is, but it’s definitely not 51R.

Unfortunately I found this at 8:51pm and Danielle and I weren’t able to make it there before they closed. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it sorted out in the morning. I’m tempted to return it and go to another (more proper) auto parts place. I would have gone somewhere else to purchase it, but at 7:30pm on a Sunday night O’Reilly was the only place open. For now, I’ve got no usable car.

† After sitting in the car listening to my iPod and charging my phone for ~30 minutes I left the car. Upon returning it wouldn’t start with typical low-battery signs. Nothing had been left on and a jump got things running, and as it’d been a bit questionable for a while (power windows are sluggish after the car is shut off, occasional not-quite-starting last winter) I feel it’s time for a new one.

UPDATE: According to the person at the O’Reilly “…they put the two-door battery in your car…”. I don’t really believe this, but the end result was me obtaining the right battery and dropping it into the car took less than five minutes. Everything is now sorted.

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Wheel Building Time!

After picking up some parts from the shop tonight I’m now ready to build up a new wheelset. Velocity Blunt SL rims (32 hole, black), SRAM X9 hubs, DT Swiss Competition spokes, and black brass nipples will hopefully make for a nice new wheelset for the Titus. Everything about this build is value-priced, but if things go as planned they should be fairly light and functional. This will be the second full set of wheels that I’ll have built and the first with all-new parts. Hopefully I do a good job.

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1up USA Quik-Rack Fat Tire Spacer Kit

While waiting for my Salsa Mukluk 2 to ship I’ve been slowly picking up the various accessories I’ll need for it. This is one of them, the spacer kit to make my bike rack, a 1up USA Quik-Rack support fat tire bikes. Since I don’t yet have a need to carry the bike I haven’t installed it yet, but hopefully that’ll happen soon. I’ve got a few concerns about how well the rack will work for non-fat bikes after fitting the kit, since it might not hold the wheel as securely, but if I have to slightly augment the now-wider rack to accommodate smaller tires that won’t be a huge problem.

This kit cost US$29 shipped and while I likely could have fashioned something similar for a bit cheaper, it would have taken a fair bit of work. Purchasing this kit saved me a bit of time and allowed me to get something ready to go which is known to fit. Now I just need to get the bike…

UPDATE: The kit has been installed, and it works quite well. This photo shows the expanded rack easily holding a Salsa Mukluk 2 (Surly Rolling Darryl / Larry front wheel). The only disappointing part is that the Fat Tire Spacer Kit did not come with a wider anti-rattle band for one of the spacers. Instead the previous band must be reused, and it doesn’t fill the space nicely (photo).

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Shower Beer

Here’s to one of the greatest pleasures in the world: a quality beer while showering. I guess this is the evening corollary to drinking morning coffee in the shower, another one of life’s great pleasures. Not only does one get to enjoy a comfortable, relaxing shower a tasty beverage comes along for the trip.

The beer shown here is Big Sky Brewing Company’s Moose Drool, brought to me by my parents from their recent trip out west; seen poured into a glass here. Also in this sampler is Scape Goat Pale Ale, Big Sky IPA, and Trout Slayer Wheat Ale. All of these beers were quite good, and if I can find this stuff in Michigan (I think it’s distributed here…) I’ll likely pick some up.

This shower comes at the end of a long, and slightly frustrating, day. Today was Massive Fallout, a lengthy group bike ride around a number of local trails and an event that I’d looked forward to all year. This morning the weather was rather poor, and being not-quite-properly dressed for it and somewhat uninterested in riding in cold and rainy weather I skipped out on the ride. I don’t regret my choice, but I can’t help but be disappointed at the weather which kept the event from being what I’d hoped. Oh well, maybe I’ll be able to do the ride next weekend with friends or something like that.

(For what it’s worth, this photo was taken with the Olympus Stylus 850 SW that I’ve had for more than three years and which has accompanied me on almost every sweaty bike ride that I’ve taken, a couple of international trips, a few swimming adventures, and random other hostile places and it’s held up great. I’d highly recommend a camera from this series if one is looking to purchase a decent-image-quality pocket camera that can be taken along on almost all trips.)


New Single Track at River Bends

I’ve been on vacation for the last week or so (since the 3rd), and much of this time has been spent working on a new 1.3 mile segment of single track trail at River Bends. As of this afternoon it is now signed and open and can be considered complete. All work on this segment from here on out will be tweaking or maintenance; initial building is done.

The image above shows the entrance to this new segment. This spot had previously been a wall of brush, best illustrated here at the end of a trail ride video from River Bends where the rider turns left after exiting the single track. Now riders can continue straight and ride another long segment of twisty single track. This takes the place of riding some relatively flat two track which had a couple unpleasantly blind corners. An updated copy of the River Bends Trail Map (PDF) shows this new segment of trail, the eastern yellow line which flows north between the asphalt and two track.

While I did a fair bit of work on this trail segment laying it out and doing a bunch of the rough cutting and such, it would not have been possible to build this without loads of help from other volunteers. Some folks (in particular Jeremy Verbeke and Paul McAllister) were able to help out in the middle of the week, while others donated their time and effort during a scheduled trail day on October 9th where our numbers (21 people!) allowed us to finish most of the work resulting in something recognizable as a trail.

Thank you to everyone who was involved with this; we’ve got more trail!

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Burchfield Time Trial

Early yesterday morning I headed out to Ingham County’s Burchfield Park for the first Burchfield Time Trial. Despite being almost two hours away I figured it’d be a fun time, and it was. The trail was a mixture of Tree Farm-esque twisty single track with lots of roots, more flowing sections through the woods, and lumpy grassy trails through fields. There’s also a couple super-nifty areas that wind right along the banks of the Grand River. Weather started out cold with temperatures in the upper 30s when I arrived at the park, but by the time we started it’d moved up nicely to the mid 40s, and finished around 50. Insulated knickers, a base layer, a short sleeve jersey, toe covers, and medium weight gloves were perfectly comfortable for this, and the only thing I had to change was pushing my sleeves up while out in the sun in a field.

After reading a bit about the trail and getting input from some folks I took my rigid single speed Salsa El Mariachi to the race, and for the most part this was the perfect bike for there. The grass field areas were a bit rough, and lacking the ability to shift gears I was a bit slow on the flat sections, but it was still fun. In the end I placed 15th out of 18 (with 5 DNFs) in Class A, which was the geared or ss, sport or expert class. Had I pushed a little harder and cut only 30 seconds off my time I would have moved up two places.

The awards for the race were also really nice. Each was an 18T cog stuck in a slot cut into a birch log with a finishing place decal applied to the cog, hand-made by one of the people who’d worked on the race. These were a great alternative to the traditional medal.

The photo above was taking near the top of one of the longer hills, a mile or two before the end of the race. Here is another one of me from the same spot, taken slightly before this one. I’m not quite sure who took the photos, but they were posted here on Photobucket under the username DeadTreeRun. I particularly appreciate that they offer the full res photos for download without charge.

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