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Month: March 2012

Post-Barry-Roubaix Treats

This weekend Danielle and I traveled out to the Grand Rapids area for my first go at Barry-Roubaix. After a great race and hanging out for a while we headed to get Roxie and then back home, but not before stopping in Ann Arbor at Zingerman’s. Being just off of I-94 we were able to easily stop at both the Bakehouse and Creamery where we picked up a bunch of great baked goods and cheeses. This resulted in tonight’s outstanding snack of a sea salt bagel spread with pimento cheese spread, eaten while sipping a glass of Bell’s Hopslam. We’d also picked up some doughnuts from Zingerman’s Bakehouse; properly fried ones filled with chocolate pudding. A picture of it can be see here, and this may be the best doughnut that I have ever eaten. The filling, dough, and topping were perfect.

As far as the race goes, it was a wonderful time. I probably could have pushed myself a little harder, but during the race I felt good, and finished with a time that I’m content with: 2:21:42 / 15.2 MPH average / 66th our of 92 in my class. My max heart rate was right at the end meaning I probably could have pushed a bit harder, but with an average of 156 I think I was doing okay.

The course was through some really beautiful areas, and the rain the night prior had the dirt roads in tip-top shape. Some of the anticipated sandy bits were a bit of a slog and required dismounting and walking, and there were some serious puddles in a few sections, but it was overall quite fun. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with 60-ish temperatures and overcast skies making me perfectly comfortable in typical summer wear of shorts and a short sleeved jersey, lightweight gloves, and simple socks. A bit of misting rain found its way to us for around 20 minutes of the race, but only the slight visibility degradation was a problem.

The start/finish area was also very well set up and included both some great beer and excellent food. I had some Korean-style pork tacos (with kimchi!) and a really nice chili-pork burrito. There was also a few kegs of Founders beer on hand, with tickets reasonably priced and proceeds going to benefit the WMMBA‘s campaign to build fifty new miles of single track trails in the next five years.

This was a really great race. I’m extremely glad I went.

My Garmin Connect data from it is here, if you’re interested.

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Markwood @ 40 Miles

Today I set out for a longish ride and got exactly what I was looking for. Setting out from home I first headed up to Stony Creek where I ducked through the Trolly Trails and Fitness Trails before heading over to the normal MTB trails. Here I ran into a bunch of people that I knew. After a first go through the Roller Coaster with some folks I ran into my friend Jeff who was taking his son on his first MTB trail ride. I rode two laps of The Pines with them, then a bit more with Mark, who happened to cross our path on his way into the park.

From here I headed north, without much of a goal in mind. I ended up over at Bald Mountain, which was a mixture of wet and perfectly good. The climb up to Lake George was particularly wet, so I ducked out of there, headed over to Markwood (where the photo above was taken), and made this my turnaround point. I probably could have taken a different way home, but the PCT was a nice, inviting, smooth highway and I was getting a bit tired, so it did nicely.

Once back in Rochester, after stopping at the police station (the only open public bathrooms around) to refill on water and mix up some more sugary drink I navigated the crowds and headed off to River Bends. Half a lap of River Bends and some old slaughterhouse dirt trail riding later I was in downtown Utica and on my way home. Total for this ride was 71.30 miles, with a moving time of 05:29:51 out of a total time of 06:31:05. I lost half a mile and 2 or 3 minutes out of that from resetting the computer a short distance from my house after dealing with some HRM issues, but that’s pretty inconsequential in the scope of the whole ride.

After getting home Danielle made an outstanding mushroom pasta for dinner, then her and I curled up on the couch and watched The King’s Speech. This has been a good day.

Hopefully I can keep doing rides like this and push myself up to 8 or 10 hours of moving time. For now, it’s bed time.

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Metro Beach and Broken Chain

This previous post about what I carry while riding got some interesting comments with people surprised that I carry so much, with one of the more commented on items being nitrile gloves. This evening while riding back home from Metro Beach I’d just passed a guy roller blading and when I stood to take off there was a POINK sound and my cranks just spun, dispensing the chain on to the ground. I’d been having a weird feeling when pedaling that almost felt like the freehub not cleanly engaging, but this answered what it was.

This was a simple break where an outer plate separated from a pin, tearing the chain open, and thus easily mended with a SRAM PowerLink. However, twenty minutes later when stopping at Metro Beach I’d relubed my chain because it was making a slight squeaking sound and I thought that maybe the odd feeling could be a slightly stuck link. Being out and about I wasn’t able to wipe the excess off and thus the chain was wet with lube and grit. This exact situation is why I carry nitrile gloves.

After putting them on I was able to fix the chain and get the bike back to working so I could finish my ride, all without ending up with dirty hands. With the chain parts then tucked away in inside out gloves and everything put away I set off and had a great rest of the ride.

End result today was a smidge over 52 miles in 3:22:59 of moving time. I got no heart rate data because the sensor’s battery appears to be failing, as it was reporting ~190 BPM while pedaling out of my driveway. I took it off and shut off the sensor monitoring, which did weird things to the Garmin data itself (such as reporting 87 kcal consumed).

Here is a photo of the actual broken chain hanging off the derailleur, if you’re interested.


High Volume Inflater for Tubeless Bicycle Tires





In order to set up my bicycle tires as tubeless I needed a way to get lots of air into them as quickly as possible to pop them on to the bead. After experimenting with pumps and various blow gun nozzle setups I decided to try and make something more effective. Inspired by a tool that I saw at Rochester Bike Shop I put this together: a modified blow gun fitted with a Schrader valve tire connector that’s had its check valve removed and the gasket replaced with a slightly smaller one.


The result is an inflater which’ll fit snugly enough around the body of a coreless Stan’s NoTubes valve to seat a tire and can also be used with a Presta to Schrader adapter.

The parts used for this were as follows, all purchased from either a local hardware store or at Performance Line Tool Center:

· Milton S 153 Blo-Gun ($9.99)
· Milton S 699 Air Chuck ($1.99)
· 5/16″ Compression to 1/4″ NPT Adapter ($3.49)
· 1/4″ Rubber Washer ($0.59)
· Quick Disconnect for Air Line (Had at home.)

First, the blower tube and rubber head were removed from the handle/valve. The compression to NTP adapter was then fitted into the body, as the compression threaded side of the adapter was the closest reasonable fit that could be found. The air chuck was then fitted to the NPT thread on the other end of the adapter. The compression nut and ring are not needed.

Next the air chuck is opened by unscrewing the brass ring around its opening and the check valve from inside was removed. Removing this allows the assembly to expel air whenever the lever is depressed. The center of a 1/4″ rubber washer is then slightly enlarged using a stepped drill bit so that it fit tightly over the body of a Presta valve. This modified washer is put in the chuck in place of the original, and the chuck is now usable for coreless Presta or Schrader valves.

Finally a quick disconnect that fit my air hose was installed and the tool was ready to use.

With this I had no problems airing up a newer (but still old tread pattern) Schwalbe Racing Ralph and a somewhat used Kenda Small Block Eight on my newish Blunt SL-based wheels. I’m still working on finishing up the tubeless setup, but this tool really helped get it done easily.

Were I to build another one of these valves I’d probably do it with a Milton 151 instead, as it’s a simple lever valve body with 1/4″ NPT fittings on each end. It’d then be easier (and cheaper) to set up the chuck, as a simple 1/4″ NPT to 1/4″ NPT nipple of whatever length desired could be used. This part wasn’t available (or known) to me at the time, so I made do with what I could find. Total cost was less than $20, and it should last for as long as I need it.


One Centimeter Makes Quite A Difference

Today’s unseasonably nice weather found me home with time to get in a bike ride before the sun set. Not long after setting out I realized why my legs were more sore than normal after Sunday’s ride: my seat was too low. I stopped, move it up about 1cm, and it was like a whole new world. I’d suspected it was a bit off, and my legs were sore in the way that a too-low seat makes them, but it hadn’t really felt bad. Apparently it’d slid down a bit over time and I didn’t outright notice it. After fixing the height I simply felt faster and my legs felt better. It’s amazing what a difference such things make.

While out and about I ended up poking around various neighborhoods and took the back way into River Bends. The trails were surprisingly sold, with the vast majority of it being completely ridable. There’s a few unpleasantly muddy bits, but overall a few more dry days will have it ready to go. With luck this spring won’t be nearly as wet as the last and there will be lots of dirt road and dry trail riding happening soon. I also hope that we’ll be able to route around or fix some of the muddy spots at River Bends so they won’t be problematic in the future.

It appears that someone has been trying to live out in the woods at River Bends. Way back off of the Seasonal Loops I found a makeshift shelter (photo) that someone had assembled out of deadfall, recently cut smaller trees, and tarps. No one was around, but there were some large metal cans inside and the shelter had quite a smell coming from it.

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Final Kegerator Drip Tray Design

This past weekend I put the finishing touches on the tap portion Kegged Beer Cooler (Kegerator) by finishing off the drip tray. It was built using a 14″ wide stainless steel drywall mud tray that has been caulked with RTV silicone. I’d originally attempted to hang it using hard drive magnets, but as can be seen here this didn’t look as nice as I’d hoped, and the magnets sitting off of the wooden support blocks made it a bit unstable.

This past weekend I cut some new blocks out of oak (picture), stained and sealed them to match the collar, drilled holes in them so epoxy could penetrate nicely (picture), then epoxied 24 square (1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/8″) neodymium magnets on the back of each (picture). These blocks were then epoxied to the metal tray, and they now hold the drip tray nicely under the taps. As expected the magnets are quite strong, so spaced evenly along the block the tray is held on with considerable force. I imagine I could fill it with liquid and it wouldn’t budge.

This isn’t a particularly fancy design, but at a total of ~$30 I’m quite happy with how it came out. It serves the need of collecting drips, is easy to remove for cleaning, and looks pretty good.

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MMBA Forum Posts during 2012 Iceman Registration

The image above (click to embiggen) shows the one hour moving average statistics for posts (replies) and topics (new threads) on the MMBA Forum. This morning registration for Iceman opened on USA Cycling‘s website and as a result of the site collapsing under the load many people visited the forum to complain, commiserate, and generally discuss the situation. Most of the traffic seemed to be in this thread, although I don’t keep per-thread statistics beyond what’s already exposed to the end users.

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