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Month: September 2012

Lost 3mm Ball End Hex Wrench

Today while in the parking lots of either River Bends or Stony Creek with my brother in law Josh I lost my 3mm ball end hex wrench. I was carrying it along with the 4mm and 5mm wrenches in case I needed to adjust the dropouts on my single speed (specifically, to tension the chain). But, it appears that when getting out one of the wrenches so I could press my fork’s dust wiper back into place I must have dropped this one, leaving it in a parking lot.

Hopefully I can get another one without buying a full set.

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Custom 26mm FOX 32mm Fork Top Cap Socket

I need to rebuild the FOX F29 RLC fork on my Titus, so I ordered the supplies to rebuild the fork, but found that I’d need a socket that has had the face ground flat in order to properly (read: safely, without marring the aluminum) remove the top caps from the fork. While openly contemplating what to do about this on Facebook a friend of mine, Mark Dombrowski (also the MCMBA Trail Coordinator for ILRA) offered to make me an aluminum socket to meet my exact needs. He’d done the same for himself in the past, and this one was like his, but with the incremental improvement of a 15mm hex cap for turning the socket.

This sort of socket (or one with the face ground flat) is needed because FOX top caps have very thin flats and are made of aluminum. The internal flaring on most sockets either won’t mate well (best case) or will round off the cap (worst case). Grinding a hardened socket flat can be quite a pain, and having a softer tool for turning the aluminum is a good idea, so he came up with this.

I’m really thankful to have one of these. Once the replacement parts come in I’ll be able to rebuild the Titus’ fork, and I also should be able to use this on the fork which’ll come on the bike that I’ve currently got on order. This is a really nice part.

Here’s a few more views of it:

· Looking into the business end of the socket which mates with the 26mm top cap.
· The opposite end of the socket has a 15mm hex fitting.
· Oblique view showing the nicely machined part.
· Socket with Industrial Sharpie labeling so I can remember its exact sizes.

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Fat Tire and Potawatomi

This past Sunday was the Triple Trail Challenge, a rather nifty fundraising group ride out at Pinckney State Recreation Area which spans parts of the normal mountain bike trails and also some trails which are only open to bikes for that day. I headed out with Jeremy and Sol and had a really great time. The route was rather nice and I’d love to do this ride again. The Lakelands Trail was a bit rough, and some of the dirt roads were a bit slimy due to recent grading and spraying, but it all added up to an outstanding 38.5 mile ride.

While the ride itself is free, it’s used as a fundraiser by the Potawatomi Mountain Bike Association by selling t-shirts, beer glasses, and trying to sign up members. This seemed to be really successful, as I heard there were 600+ people out for the ride, they acquired over 100 new members that day, sold out of t-shirts, and were running short on pint glasses. After the ride there were ample supplies of complimentary chili (vegetarian, I believe) and Arbor Brewing Company beer for all those who participated.

I was one of those who bought one of the glasses (t-shirts were sold out when I tried to get one), and it can be seen above filled with some of New Belgium’s Fat Tire Ale. I’m not a huge fan of this beer, but it is a pretty solid, reliable beverage. Since it’s now available in Michigan I’ll probably pick up a few more bottles of their stuff, and it’s nice to know that these glasses nicely hold an entire 22oz bottle.

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I-69: Reached

A bit over two years ago I attempted to ride from near Addison Oaks up to I-69, but fell short due to the trail being washed out. Today, the first would-be-work-day of my current vacation, I decided to try again, this time starting from my house. Even though I had to cut it a bit short due to Roxie becoming ill and didn’t make my desired 100 miles, I think the ride was a success.

The ride started out with me meeting a friend named R (he asked me not to mention his name because he was taking a much-needed break from work), and he and I made our way up to the Polly Ann Trail. At this point he turned west and began heading home, while I went northeast and continued on towards my destination. After crossing the Lapeer county line and weathering the rough, unkept (although occasionally mowed) trail I hit my goal, the Interstate 69 underpass just south of Lapeer. I carried on for a couple miles further north before turning back and beginning the ride home.

On the way out I’d had to cross a rather questionable bridge which washed out almost four years ago. Back in 2009 Erik, Kristi, and I happened across this bridge and turned back, but now some enterprising soul(s) had built a timber crossing so I was able to easily keep going. Despite a 10′ drop on to concrete and iron I used my bike as a balance beam and walked across the 10″ wide wood plank to get to the body of the bridge before crossing another two on the far side.

On the way back I’d intended to bypass this bridge via dirt roads, but a bit of a miscalculation resulted in my traversing it in the other direction. While stopping to take pictures I was surprised by Dustin rolling up, having chosen to take the same sort of ride as me today. After heading south via dirt roads and into Stony Creek to refill water and drink mix, and then decided to detour through The Pines before heading home, but while in there I came across someone who let me by then seemed to be looking for his friend Charles. I headed up ahead to let this person know that his friend is all right (but just a ways back), and realized it was Charles, brother of Mr. George Hotelling, who I’d met at a housewarming party this past winter. What an unexpected coincidence.

Then, on top of that, it turns out that a former coworker spotted R and I riding up Lake George, but didn’t catch up with us before we’d turned off the road.

Everything was going great until Danielle texted me while I was talking with Charles and his friend to let me know that Roxie wasn’t doing so well. She had been pooping paste for a couple days, and this afternoon Danielle contacted me to let me know that Roxie had begun vomiting and then wouldn’t get up off the lawn and come back inside. Worried she took Roxie to the vet, and I rushed home. I had another 20 miles in me and could have broken 100 today, but Roxie is more important than that. (It turns out that Roxie has a GI infection resulting in her having digestive issues and being lethargic. She’s on a diet of mild food and antibiotics for a few days, after which she’ll hopefully be better.)

All done, here are today’s stats and route map on Strava. This was a good ride, and I’m thinking that I’d like to do something similar before vacation is over; perhaps some time early next week.

Here are the four decent photos that I took today:

· Looking north along a washed out bridge on the Polly Ann Trail just south of I-69.
· Looking south along a washed out bridge on the Polly Ann Trail just south of I-69.
· The Titus on the Polly Ann Trail where it passes under I-69.
· Looking down at the board which I walked to access the washed out bridge along the Polly Ann Trail.

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New Belgium’s Red Hoptober

With New Belgium beers now being distributed I’ve been giving all the available varieties a try. I’m still not fond of Fat Tire (it’s not bad, but nothing I find particularly special), but the others that I’ve tried along with this seasonal variety Red Hoptober (Shift Pale Ale, Ranger IPA) are quite nice.

It’s nice to see another widely available quality beer here in Michigan. While we do have loads of good local stuff and I prefer to buy Michigan beers if I can, I think that the available beer market improving in quality overall is nothing but a good thing for everyone.

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Space Debris Hit My Dad?

Back in 2000-2001, just before my dad retired from the Detroit Board of Education, he was standing outside of the school that he worked at with a coworker when glowing hot blocks — one of which is seen above — began raining down from the sky around them. No aircraft were visible overhead, and being glowing hot, partially melted, and seemingly made of ceramic, I strongly suspect that this was space debris. At almost the size of a box of matches and with a mass of only about 5g it’s terminal velocity near ground level couldn’t have been very high, which would explain how they could have been hit by them and not injured.

I’d forgotten about this until my parents mentioned it to me this past weekend when I moved this object from it’s place of display while helping them around the house. My dad had recently read a news article about a woman who was hit by a small piece of a disintegrating Delta II and can’t help but think that maybe he and his coworkers should be added to the (very short) list of people on Earth who have been hit by space debris.

A number of other photos of this object can be see here. It’s a little dusty from sitting out for a few years, but the hollow cells and ceramic-like appearance are pretty visible.


…to Richmond

It’s been a while since I last rode to my parents house, so with family plans in the afternoon I set out from home just after 11am, hoping to arrive a bit after 1pm. The last time I did this ride it took me just shy of two hours and I was left very winded with sore legs. This time I beat my previous time by twenty minutes and felt like I could have pushed myself harder. Sure, I was on a different bike, in different weather, and dressed differently, but I figure all of that riding earlier this year has actually made a difference.

Here is the ride data uploaded to Strava, if you’re interested. No, I don’t have a wheel sensor on that bike, thus no cadence and GPS-only speed.

Here’s a few more photos that I took during recent rides:

· Start of the east loop at Holdridge, known as Gruber’s Grinder. This is a slow, rough, but fun ride.
· Mushrooms found somewhere along Gruber’s Grinder.
· Ducks in a park in Lake Orion while stopping near the end of a ride with Scott.

Now, back to work for a couple of weeks, then off for another two. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a bunch of autumn riding (read: hopefully cool, dry weather) in during that time.

On the last ride I was wearing typical winter riding wear and on a full suspension 29er with a knobby front tire. This time I was in typical summer jersey and bib shorts on my older Specialized Rockhopper Disc with a 29″ front wheel and two Small Block Eight tires. I doubt the suspension and clothing was responsible for 20 minutes, though.

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Hammer-based Water Bottle Repair

The water bottle seen above was given to me during a Fun Promotions race at Bloomer a couple years ago when I was on a team with Nick, Marty, and I believe Kristi. It’s a rather nice stainless steel bottle, and I’ve regularly used it since then, quite frequently while working on mountain bike trails. Finding itself stuffed in bags with tools and tossed on the ground in the woods it has become quite scratched.

When out at Addison Oaks a couple weeks ago doing some mapping of the new connector trail it slipped out of my bag a couple times, landing on corse gravel. Dents from this are visible, and they resulted in the bottom becoming so domed that the bottle was more like a Weeble.

With a couple of carefully placed blows from a dead blow hammer flattened it back out and now it’s as good as new. I’ve got half a mind to remove the remainder of the finish and have a brushed stainless steel bottle, but for now I think I like its distressed character. I also prefer this bottle over SIGG and other similar bottles, as the inside can be scoured, and the threads are very large and round. SIGG (et al)’s fine threads scrape my upper while drinking, and I don’t like having to worry about not scratching the liner.

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Quick Sandal Fix

The toe of my most-frequently-worn sandals became detached a few weeks back, and had started peeling back and getting things stuck in it while walking. Instead of buying new sandals I decided to try patching them up with Shoe GOO. I was unable to get the sole to wholly sit in place so there’s a slight gap, but over the course of a few days I was able to fill this in and provide a decent cap. It’s not the best looking, but hopefully it’ll hold up. I should probably get some new (and more attractive) sandals as well.

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