Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dear Santa

I've been REALLY good, so could you hook me up with this Specialized

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alt Bars

I've been experiencing hand pain and numbness that has continued to increase over the years. Ergon grip help, but I'm not thrilled with their shape so I have decided to try some Alt Bars. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Alt Bars, let me explain. Traditional MTB bars fall into either flat or riser bars. Both of them are pretty strait forward, offering multiple rises and widths. However they all have one thing in common, they use sweep (how much they bend back from strait) of 3 degrees to about 9 degrees. Alt Bars buck this trend by offering much greater amounts of sweep, up to 45 degrees. To offset the amount of sweep (which puts your hands closer to you) you either need to use a longer stem or the bars will have forward sweep prior to the back sweep. I chose to get the Origin 8 Space Bar OR, which has a 37 degree back sweep but also has forward sweep. They feel funny BUT no hand pain with standard grips...none! I'm sure I'll get used to them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Growlers Gulch Hill Climbing Championship

Well I really didn't think I was even remotely able to participate in anything labeled "climbing championship". Not only am I not in very great shape right now but I have a love/hate relationship with gravity. See I am a pretty good descender but I would call my climbing ability "surviving". I really wanted to participate in the Super D last month but a pesky case of poison oak which turned into a staph infection knocked me out of that. Jeep kept pestering me to participate so I caved in thinking I would easily finish dead last. Read my post from last week, I couldn't climb crap!

But somehow, despite a lack of fitness, I was able to hold my own yesterday. Good thing technical skill was as important as fitness on these climbs. I was able to "mask" my lack of fitness with a few smooth lines and actually ride some of the hills quite well. As soon as the results are posted I will show them here, along with the video that I'm sure Jeep will produce.

Final Results...16th out of 36 riders

Monday, October 11, 2010

Slow with lots of rest breaks

OK, I'm admittedly out of shape right now. The slew of health issues has dragged me down both physically and mentally. So hitting the trails this weekend was more of an exercise in determination than fun. It's been many years since I could be described as a good climber, but right now any incline is tough. I had to simply ride slowly, take some breaks, and then ride some more. I just have to start hitting the gym more often and suffer some before I can tackle the hills again.

On another note, my riding partner of four years might have to retire. I'm talking about my setter/lab mix named Evie. She's about 6 or 7 years old (we got her from the shelter as an adult) and seems to be suffering from arthritis in her left rear leg. It first showed up last year and has been steadily getting worse. I'm going to start her on some Glucosamine/Condroiton and see if it helps. I hope she can be back on the trails soon, she will not be happy if she can't go riding with me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finally back on the bike

It's been a tough month, I contracted Poison Oak on my birthday and after 1.5 weeks it turned into a staph infection in my skin that required three days of hospitalization. It took at least another week after the hospital to recover from all the medication I was on. I missed a Super D race I was really looking forward to along the way.

Well I made it out to Stella today for a casual (and quite slow) ride with the dogs today. I also switched back to Ergon grips on my bike and I was having lots of numbing and pain in my hands. Problem solved.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bio-lubricants and Tubeless revisited

It's been a while on some of this stuff so I wanted to update information on the homemade tire sealant, tubeless systems, and chain lube. I also wanted to follow up on my biodegradable grease.

Tubeless Tire Sealant:
-1 part mold builder latex (get at Michaels)
-1 part tubeless tire slime (at Auto Parts departments)
-2 parts RV Antifreeze premix (the stuff for pipes, non hazardous formula)
-some glitter for extra coagulation

I've been using this formula for two years now with zero puncture flats.

Tubeless Conversion:
-Handy roll of Gorilla Tape
-Two valve stems*
*Presta helps if they are removable valve cores, Schrader can be used if they are bolt down type like Continental or Schwalbe valves.

Clean inside of rims with rubbing alcohol, wrap Gorilla tape one layer with overlap at valve stem hole. Make sure to press firmly to get tape to stick. Make small puncture at valve stem hole and install tube and tire. Inflate and let sit overnight, this really gets the tape adhered to the rim. Remove tire and tube, trim any extra tape to base of the rim sidewall. Apply a little sealant to cut out valve stem base and insert through hole. Tighten lock nut as tight as you can get it by hand (rims with narrow cavities sometimes need an o-ring at the base of the valve stem). Install tire as per normal tubeless installation, UST and Tubeless Ready tires mount up the easiest, sometimes with just a floor pump. Regular tires are more of a crap shoot and can fail (wire beads are usually a safer choice) so try at your own risk.

Biodegradable Chain Lubricant:
-1 part 15w-50 Renewable Lubricants Bar and Chain Oil*
-1 part canola oil
*10w-30 Bar and Chain Oil can be used strait up

Total cost was $20 for Bar and Chain Oil and Canola Oil, this makes 64oz of lubrication. That comes out to $0.31 per oz. Compare that to most "bicycle chain lubes" at about $8.00 for 4 oz, or $2.00 an oz. Since this makes so much, I share with friends. Just fill old empty lube bottles.

Lubrication Procedure borrowed from Chain-L (copyright 2008, F. Bollag, reproduced with permission)

  1. New chains should be oiled off the bike by stretching out on newspaper with the rollers up. This will do a better job of lubricating and save time on cleanup of the cassette and chainrings. Oil generously,  install and skip to Step 4.
  2. Used chains should first be cleaned as well as possible to avoid wicking dirt in.  If the chain has a reusable master link, consider cleaning and oiling it off the bike
  3. On the bike, oil chain in high gear (outer ring and smallest cog) or using a chainkeeper. Let soak in for at least 10-15 min (longer is better). While turning the cranks, wipe excess oil off the chain and derailleur pulleys with a clean dry rag, leaving only the thinnest film possible. Any excess will only make it messier than it needs to be.
  4. Turn the cranks and look carefully for fans of excess oil spinning off the pulleys, there shouldn’t be any. If there is, rewipe the chain and pulleys and repeat until no oil spins off.
  5. Change gears and wipe off the outer chainring. Then run the bike through the gears to spread a bit of the oil throughout the cassette.
  6. Don’t forget to wipe off any oil that got onto the derailleur, chainstay, etc

By now, the chain should have a thin, sticky film of oil on its surface. Leave this on for rust protection. It will attract dust on the first few rides but the good news is, after the stickiness is blotted up, the chain won’t get any dirtier. If you wish, you may “dry clean” the chain from time to time by wiping with a paper towel, but don’t add oil unless the chain “asks” for it.

Biodegradable Grease:
I have been using LubriMatic Green Bio LMX "Red" Grease. It is a soy based grease with a Lithium Complex soap. It is a fairly slick grease with excellent protection properties and good water resistance. Best of all, it only costs about $5 for a 16oz tub. Compare this to "bicycle" greases that run $20-$30 for a 16oz tub.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tour de Gulch a success!!!

Ok, so despite my limited time on the bike the past few months I was looking forward to the suffering that I was sure would happen. And as it turned out, I was not disappointed! To add to my misery, I actually believed the weather forecast a week previous and set up my bike with my summer tires. Then it rained all week and I was too lazy to put the full knobbies back on. So with a Stans Raven in the rear and a Bontrager XDX up front, off I went with Paul Norris leading the group. After a nasty little climb from Jeep's place to the beginning of the trails, we hit Predator as a "warm up". Predator was a muck fest, I felt like I was on ice the whole time! How I managed to stay on the trail is a mystery to me...I'll call it skill but it was probably luck. I did go down once, but other than a couple little scratches, no damage.

Next we headed to the upper trails...key word UP. Up is where my fitness or lack there of began to show. I made it up by pacing Vaughn, who is 72 years young by the way!!! Once up to the top trails, the tread was good in most locations and I actually could fly down most of the trails. It was a little sketchy in a few locations but overall good. I tried using my helmet cam, but it didn't come out good so I don't have any footage. I think Kelley got some good footage so when he posts on YouTube, I will link it. I also loaned my camera out, but Paul got some shots so there will be pics on the way.

We finally made it down to Secret Garden then had to climb back out on the Ridge Trail...I hit the wall and got my butt handed to me by Vaughn, so my goal is to climb as well as him. On the last climb my seatpost felt a little more flexible than normal. A later post ride inspection showed a significant crack which probably would have failed on the next ride.

After getting back to Jeep's place and getting cleaned up a bit, there was some great food available and free Vortex IPA courtesy of Fort George Brewery! Even the outhouse setup was first class!

Thanks to Jeep and all the help who made for a fun day of suffering!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wet and Soggy ride with a gimpy fork

Well it's June but you wouldn't know it here in the PNW. We had 20 days of rain that ended yesterday only to wake up and find it pouring this morning! I finally got the motivation at 11am and headed out. It was too warm to wear rain gear so I just had to get wet. The ride was fine except my fork felt horrible. At first I kept checking to see if I had a flat on my front tire. The front end just felt mushy, but the tire was fine. I figured I just didn't get the air pressure right, but the sag looked fine and it wasn't bottoming out. On the ride back to the parking area on the logging road at Stella, I'd had enough and went to lock the fork out (which I never do). This is when I realized the problem, the damper was not working. No adjustment made a difference.

So after getting home I tore down the fork, but really didn't see any leaks. But the fork is two years old and I haven't ever serviced the damper (I service the lowers and Solo Air every year). So 130 cc's of Torco RFF 7wt and all is working again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Riding with Ghosts of Ancient Giants

Normally when I ride Stella I am in my middle ring (large since I ride 22/34 2x9) on most of the trails. I am usually going fast enough that I need to pay attention to the trail in front of me. This winter I was introduced to a few new trails but the two times I have rode them it has been in a group and the pace was fairly brisk. But today after a month of illness, I rode nice and easy in my granny most of the time and rode some of the "new" trails pretty slow. On one particular trail, I was overcome with the sense that I was in an ancient forest. It's a feeling I get when in old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, redwood forests of the Northern California Coast, or the giant sequoias of the Sierra. It's a feeling of wisdom, of peace, of nature in perfect harmony. Yet Stella exists on Weyerhauser property and there are no old growth trees. But looking around I suddenly realized I was in a graveyard...a graveyard of an ancient forest and the headstones were all around me. The feeling invigorated my soul and left me feeling refreshed. Here are some pictures (sorry for the resolution, I only had my cell phone with me) of the headstones.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April in the dumps

April was not a kind month for me, I got a total of two rides in the entire month! My health has been faltering for a few months prior and it all came to a head in April. First, I got diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. Turns out having a small mouth and lower jaw combined with a large tongue is bad. So that explained why I have not been recovering from rides and my fatigue levels had been on the rise. Then, right after spending the night at the Hospital for my sleep study...I came down with a nasty chest cold that turned into Bronchitis. And just when I was recovering from that, I get a nasty ear infection that goes bad and I'm now dealing with a ruptured ear drum. And to make matters worse, to get in for my ear I had to see a doctor that is not my normal physician and he prescribed me a sulfa drug for some reason. Well guess what, turns out I am allergic to sulfa drugs so that made me even sicker. So while I might be out another week or so recovering, I am looking forward to nicer weather and my health improving so I can get out and ride again!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shake it up baby now

Twist and Shout!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A cold, wet, and muddy January April!

Maybe one of the muddiest rides of the year, and cold (car thermometer said 39 degrees at the start of the ride). I recently got a set of Salsa Carbon bars and I'm happy to be back on carbon. My hands always do better on carbon bars as they just have a way of damping out the little vibrations that otherwise go strait to my hands. I also was trying out a 36t cog I had got from E-bay on my bike. It did not perform as well as the cog bent and also showed excessive wear after only one ride. The seller has had good communication with me as we have exchanged some ideas so I hope he will allow me to send it back. My "custom" front mud guard worked fantastic as I had the cleanest face in the group at the end of the ride. I've never liked "moto" style front fenders as I cannot see my front tire well when going over log crossings and such. This simple device I made works almost as good but you can't even see it when riding the bike. Good ride overall, it's good to be back on the bike.

Custom front fender and bent rear cog (but notice my chain is pretty clean for such a muddy ride):

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Updates to Blog Layout and Illness

As you can see, I have made some blog layout changes. I have not been riding much as I have been struggling with my health on two fronts. First and foremost I have been having sleep issues that are not allowing me to get a full night of rest. This leaves me totally exhausted and barely able to make it through my day. Throw in a day of hard exercise and it takes several days to recover. I am scheduled to see a specialist, but the first appointment I could get was April 29th. Second, I have been fighting wicked allergies this spring. The worst I have had in many years. While the rest of the country was being blasted with winter storm after winter storm...the PNW was warm and wet making the growing season come extra early.

I hope to be back on the trails soon

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stella Ride with the Growlers Crew

Great ride today with the Growlers Gulch crew today at Stella. Thanks to Ken and Paul helping direct us around the trails. They were slick with lots of slippery roots so it was technically challenging. On another note, it has been over a month since I last lubed my chain. This includes several wet rides and bike washes. My chain remains clean and silent...very happy with my bio-lube.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Video from Saturday's Ride

Video #1 from Upper Dr Jekyll, I appear at 1:42 with Evie and Becks

Video #2 from Lower Dr Jekyll with Paul and Muddy in it

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Belly Video

Just a short video of me descending Belly at Growlers Gulch

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chain Lubricant Update


My home brew chain lubricant was used at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo and the reports back were positive. The chains stayed lubricated throughout the race and did not collect dust and grime in the dry desert environment. This is on top of my successful test in wet and muddy conditions. Nothing on long term wear protection yet but so far so good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunshine in February

The weather was absolutely perfect today for a bike ride. I headed out for a ride with the Growlers Gulch Girls in the sunshine, though it was a little cold. No matter, I wore shorts today the sun and the cold doesn't bother me. The trails were in wonderful condition, I was carving around them and feeling great until...CRASH! I guess I found a slick spot and down I went with my shin impacting my pedal quite harshly.

OK, no big deal, back on the bike. Rode up the road and recovered just in time for a fun descent down Walk in the Park except...CRASH! WTF? Same thing, front tire washed out and down I went, this time impacting my left knee into something and bruising it good (sorry, no picture). Anyway, still managed to pick myself up and finish the ride with Beauty, Belly, and Mr. T without any more drama. I must have just been trying to keep up with Samantha and Tonya too much!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Camelback Contents

Here is an idea of what I carry on the trails, I tend to be someone who often fixes other people's bikes so I carry a little extra. From Left to Right
-Pruning Shears multi tool for doing a little trail clearing. Includes a small saw and knife blade as well.
-Sette bicycle multi tool, includes tire levers
-Small container with extra cleat bolts, rotor bolts, chain links, quick link, caliper bolt, etc. On the outside is duct tape and a hose clamp for a blown air fork.
-Extra dérailleur hanger for my frame.
-Small bottle of lube
-Whistle with compass, matches, and a flint striker
-Gorilla Tape...multiple uses from patching tires to patching people.
-Emergency blanket
-26" Presta Tube...fits all 26" and 29" rims
-Zip ties...multiple uses
-Pump with multi head
-Toilet paper with hand sanitizer
-First Aid Kit with Ace Bandage, gloves, aspirin and benedryl, etc.
-Fix-a-flat bicycle tire inflater and sealer.
-(Not seen but on pack) LED mini light and knife.
-Any snacks that I bring
-Water (50-100 oz depending on length of ride)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Great Ride at Growlers

he sun decided to show up today and I actually got to ride in shorts! Rode with the Growlers Gulch Girls and we rode many of the trails. The climb out of Big Easy has been a nemesis of mine since last summer. Despite it being quite slick today, I finally cleared that climb! Here is a photo and video from today's ride.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Environmental Friendly Product Links

So I have shown what I am using for plant based biodegradable chain lube, grease, and cleaner. But for many, they don't want to go through the trouble of making their own product. Often they just want to buy the product at their local bike shop. Here is a link of specific bicycle products, if your local bike shop does not carry these products, encourage them too. Don't just buy a product because they claim biodegradable, many are only partially biodegradable and still contain petroleum products.

Chainj, Go, Ice Wax 2.0, Bio Grease, Green Fizz, Orange Peelz, Pro J

Ernesto Lube
Chain Lube

Green Oil
Chain Lube, Grease, Chain Cleaner, Bike Cleaner


Phil Wood


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two muddy rides, one clean chain

I got the nice privilege to ride twice this weekend. On Saturday I rode with the Growler's Gulch Girls on a nice ride. The trails were in good shape with only a few muddy spots. Today I rode Stella and found it to be much muddier. The trails were quite muddy in some spots and it was quite wet. Great test for the new chain lube, and the end result...clean chain and no shifting issues all weekend. Looks like my lube is going to be tested at a upcoming 24 hour race in New Mexico, I anxious to get rider feedback on it.

On another note, I am once again having a sticking piston problem with my Avid Juicy 5 brakes. After using Hayes for 5 years, I switched to using Avid. The braking power and modulation is nice, but these brakes have been a bit troublesome. Also, the clearance between the rotors and pads is very small so if your rotor is even a slight amount out of true there is some rub. Nothing major but annoying none the less.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My "Green" Collection of Lubricants and Cleaners

CHAIN LUBE-Renewable Lubricants Bio-Pro 15W-50 Bar & Chain Oil diluted 50/50 with canola oil. Meets ASTM's "Ultimate Biodegradable" rating, made with a canola base oil. This replaces standard wet style chain lube (I don't find dry wax based lubes to be effective). Can be used full strength for really nasty conditions.
DEGREASER-Purple Power which is certified biodegradable by SCS. Works very well diluted as a cleaner and degreaser, especially degreasing bio lubes that clean easier.
GREASE-Lubrimatic Green Soy Based Lithium Grease is readily biodegradable by OECD 301C (BOD/ThOD) Test Method. Offers 4x the bearing wear protection as mineral oil based lubricants.
LIGHT OIL-Tom's Secret Formula B-404 All Purpose Lubricant is biodegradable and is used for lubricating derailleur pivots, cables, and shifters.

I will be testing these products and giving long term reports. Initial impressions have me very optimistic about their performance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Riding with the Growler's Gulch Girls

Short post here, had a nice casual ride with the GGG's today. Good to see a couple new gals out on the trail learning how to ride. I've spent 18 years participating in this sport and most of it has been riding with Guys 99% of the time. It's nice to see the Gals only enhances the scenery ;)

Here is some video footage from the ride as well

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working on Going Green

So I have been working on changing my chain lube from a mineral oil or synthetic oil to a natural biodegradable oil. I am currently using a animal fat based chain lube that I have found is working every bit as good as any wet lube I have used previously. However, using a animal based product does have some environmental issues of its own...not to mention some ethical issues for some people. So in the mean time, I have been researching plant oils to determine which ones will be the best for chain lubrication. I am close to testing some out soon. In am also looking into using more earth friendly greases and cleaners, with my goal of using all plant based products on my bikes and the bikes that I service. My requirements are these:

-the product must perform to the same level as its mineral or synthetic oil equivalent
-the product must be produced in an environmentally friendly way (ie no deforestation of the rain forest, no heavy pesticides, no large feed lots)
-the product must not be derived from food sources
-the product must be economical

I currently use a Citrus based degreaser that is not totally chemical free. I don't like Simple Green as it doesn't work near as well, but I will be on the lookout for a better citrus product. My grease is mostly petroleum based and I will need to find an acceptable substitute. The soy based greases show promise, but many are lithium based which does not work as well as the waterproof grease I use now IME.

In the meantime, here is a Wiki to some more information

Update...I have ordered and will be trying the Lubrimatic Green Biobased LMX "Red" meets the all the criteria on paper, I will see if it meets the criteria in actual use.

Update 1/24/2010...I was formulating a plant oil lubricant based on Canola and Jojoba Oil, however Jojoba Oil solidifies at ~40 degrees F so not a good choice. I have ordered a quart of plant based bar and chain oil which I'm thinking will match or exceed the performance of the G-Oil.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mountain Bike Trends that I think are stupid


I purchased my first mountain bike in 1992 and worked in varies levels in the biking industry from 1995-2004. Here are some trends, changes, and parts that I simply do not care for (either as a rider, mechanic, or enthusiast).
-Alloy Freehub 80 grams but you have to run expensive cassettes (a high wear item) on them. For some reason if you buy nice hubs, you get stuck with these (Chris King actually offers a Stainless Steel FH Body). They're just a bad idea unless your a uber weight weenie. It'd be nice if more high end hubs came with a Steel or Ti option.
-9 speed...yes, like most I use it. And it has gotten pretty reliable was a solution for a problem that never existed. We should have stayed at 8 speeds, at least my chains would last longer! EDIT: 2011 will bring 10 speed drivetrains to the masses from both Shimano and SRAM...when will the insanity end!!!!
->$600 suspension forks...really, have they improved our riding experience that much? I still have as much fun on my $300 fork as I had on a $600 fork I owned in the past (and work on it less). Some things just don't need to get this complex
-Downfall of affordable Steel...OK, its making a bit of a comeback in the 29er and SS market. But it never should have gone away. Simply put, steel is durable, comfortable, and affordable. It also isn't that heavy, lets face it...most of us should be more concerned about how much WE weigh than our bikes. I'm hoping to be back on steel for my 29er soon and I refuse to ride anything else on the road.
-Prefabricated Wheels...Most use proprietary parts that are difficult to find and very expensive. You can get a hand built wheelset using better hubs, standard spokes, and standard rims for the same price that will be just as durable, just as light, and way easier to service.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crustius Maximus

My MTB name, post yours in the comments

Monday, January 11, 2010

Riding with the GGG

Short post as it was a short ride (for me at least). Rode with the Growlers Gulch Girls on Saturday and had a good time. I'd been feeling fatigued last week and then my Saturn broke down Friday night so I had to get picked up for the ride. When April and Jeanette had to leave early, I went with them as it was my ride back. It was OK as I was not feeling very hot, but I wished I could have rode longer. Growlers is a little muddier than Stella so I got to really see how the Michelin AT's worked, I'm happy to report that they are a worthy mud tire. I'm also happy to report that my new lube continues to work fantastically.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fall like conditions ride

It felt almost balmy today at 43 degrees after several sub freezing rides. I was even in shorts and knee warmers! The trails were mucking in places, the roots were snot slippery, and the mud was sticky. Sounds like a great all ride, except it's January. The Michelin tires handled like previous versions I've owned. Great in mud but slick on roots, so it makes things fun.

On another note I have been "testing" a new chain lube that I had mentioned on a previous post. Well, after a half dozen rides the verdict is getting clearer. I have found this lube to be a very good wet lube. It soaks into the chain rollers well, stays put, resists wash off, and does not attract much dirt. I simply wipe my chain down after a ride and I'm good to go. It is G-Oil Bar and Chain Oil that is readily available at Home Depot. The product meets the ASTM Ultimate Biodegradable rating. It probably won't make PETA happy because it's made from animal fat. I like it but might look for a plant based alternative.