Presently, just about to head to the airport to catch a flight out of town. I spent the last 5 days on the road traveling, so why break that kind of streak by staying home and actually accomplishing something.
We drove to Michigan this weekend to visit Beth's family. We were overdue for a visit to her Grandmother too, so the day after arriving in MI, we loaded up the car and headed out to Fremont Ohio. By my rough estimation, we hit about 1300 miles of driving over the Memorial day weekend. I'm tired of sitting in cars. Now I get to go sit on a plane for 3 hours, then drive another hour to my destimation. can't hardly wait.....
We did take a slight detour along the way to Fremont, with a stopin Sandusky OH to go to Cedar Point. I hadn't been there in about ten years and I think Beth was about the same. But we both love roller-coasters, so we had to stop. The park has really changed, the new rides are crazy fast. Cedar point is really known for coasters, and they don't disappoint. Their newest one the top-thrill dragster was just opened, and was only running sporadically, so we didn't make it on. It created 2 g of acceleration though, and is claimed to be the fastest coaster in the world. Basically it just shoots you straight out with a cable (like on an aircraft carrier) and up a huge tower, over the top, then back down. It's gotta be fast though because by my best guess the tower is about 250' high and it's straight up, you need a lot of momentum to get a train of 20 people to climb that!
I think both Beth and I determined that we're not quite as able to handle those rides like we used to though. the 4 hours we spent there was more than enough for both of us to really be feeling it. Guess we're getting old.....
Well, I'll be out of town in scenic New Jersey this week, measuring the flow of dust in gigantic air ducts (don't ask, it's not very glamorous). So no riding for me this week. I don't think this trip is long enough to bother bringing a bike. Maybe I'll get in a run or two if I can.
Well, I better run before I miss my flight.
Wow, I’ve been away from this so long I don’t know where to start. I’ve been on the road for the better part of the last two weeks, so I wasn’t able to get to bloggin’. Let’s hit the weekend highlights first.
I flew back to town Friday, to come home to three messages on my machine from a good friend. All of which kept telling me I needed to check out this garage sale in New Brighton due to the large bike content of said sale. So I went over to check it out. He was right, I wish I could have made it over Thursday before things had been picked over. There were tables of repair tools, and quite a few framebuilding items. I began making my pile of goods, and making a list of things for the owner that he should really put on ebay. I walked away with three boxes of tools and tubes/lugs/parts etc… for $50. Good start to the weekend.
Saturday was the official Grand opening of the Theodore Wirth mountain bike trail, put on by my good buddies over at Morc. I was unable to attend due to prior commitments, but I hear the folks at Morc didn’t let all the rain that came down all day stop them from riding the mud. WCCO was out there and ran a short story on it on the local news, that’s great to have some press for mountain biking. My hats off to all those that made it possible. (I’d write ling-winded-pointless-tirade about the fine example they set by riding their newly created trail in the rain and mud for the tv cameras, but that probably wouldn’t accomplish anything productive).
Saturday night was Grant and Katie’s wedding. Grant is the lead guitar in one of the twin cities most up and coming bands, derailleur. It was a great wedding, and it was the first time I had actually seen Grant’s hair tamed and in control. Rumor has it he actually let someone other than himself cut it before the wedding. Way to go Grant, we’re all proud of you! Congrats on finally tying the knot after 7 years!
Sunday was the Kenwood Cyclery Wake. Unlike most wakes, which can be times of somber reflection on a person’s life, this one involved ten cases of high-life and not a single corpse. It was a joyous occasion despite a few rain showers. Thanks Mikey and Billy for putting it on. Thanks to the Vitch for lots of great years of Kenwood. We’ll all miss the shoppe, but it’s good to see that the huge group of friends that is Kenwood Racing will survive and keep growing.
Not much shop-talk. I got a couple of frames prepped for paint this weekend, hope to get them sprayed soon. On is a Rivendell Glorius Mixte frame. I really like the idea behind the glorius, and I’m really impressed that Grant actually made a run of these things. However, the resulting bike seems too quirky for me. This bike is $1400 for the frame and fork, with non-custom geometry. I don’t have a problem with that price tag, it’s got really ornate lugs which were cast specifically for this frame, you gotta recoup that money somehow. What I don’t care for is a bike that costs that much, but it so limited. It’s built around 650b wheels and centerpull brakes. I don’t mind those things, but the thing I don’t like is the lack of any other option, especially on the brakes. When I fist saw the frame I thought they missed a cable stop, it took me a while to figure out (and accept that fact that someone would do this) that this frame was built to only accept a centerpull brake in back. There’s no way to mount any other kind of brake, and the straddle wire for the brake has to straddle the seat-tube. The actual cable staddle will forever be hitting the top-tube, that would drive me nuts. Oh well, it’s a Riv, it’s quirky and odd, but that seems to sell. And if Grant can sell them, more power to him. That guy’s a marketing genius in some unique way.
Well, I’m hoping to get back on a bike tonight at the Kenwood Monday night ride. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve ridden, I’m more than ready.
I'm half-tempted to contact Kenwood about what it would take to buy the shop. If they were in a more agreeable location (for me) it'd be even more tempting, though. It sure would be sad to see them disappear. How are you adjusting to your new work arrangement? Is it going well? Peace, Nathan
Here it is Friday and I find myself way behind on writing here again….
It’s been a pretty hectic week for me, and I’ve been under the weather a bit, so that hasn’t helped much. It’s Friday, I think that calls for a rant. Today’s rant shouldn’t piss any one person off though because it’s something everyone has: genetics.
Yup, I’m going to complain about my genetics (don’t worry Mom and Dad, I’m not blaming you!) So I’ve had this ongoing issue with my blood pressure when I work out. I never even knew about it until 2002, so I have no idea how long I’ve had it. My blood pressure at rest was always fine, typically about 125/75, so it never came up as an issue at regular check-ups. However when 3M was gracious enough to put a fitness center right in my building at work, I joined right away and got a fitness assessment. Part of this assessment is a bike test where they take your heart rate and blood pressure at various points along a progressively increasing workout.
The test is kind of a low-level stress test (if you’ve ever had one of those at your doctor’s office). It’s a pretty low level exertion test as it’s designed for the average American who’s completely out of shape. The first time I did the test I didn’t even get my heart rate about 135 (that’s hardly even working for me, my max at that time was about 205). But even at that meager 135 heart rate, by systolic BP jumped up to 220. That’s really high, too high.
So I went my doc and he did a series of stress tests, much more accurate tests that allow a higher exertion level. He was willing to take the testing up to a heart-rate of 180 (which I routinely exceeded during bike races). He got my systolic up to 275 and the scary part is I often went harder than that in a racing situation. He agreed something had to be done, so he prescribed a few meds to try. After experimenting with different meds and the various negative side affects they had on my riding, we settled in on a combination of a beta blocker and an ACE inhibitor. It was difficult to make these work as they tend to lower your heart rate (especially the beta blocker) and my resting heart rate was already around 45.
Racing was a tough adjustment at first since my heart rate was lowered, I constantly felt like I had lost the top end of my capacity. But eventually my body seemed to get used to it and I started feeling “normal” again. Racing was just as good, but my heart rate was just consistently lower, my max went down to about 180, but I felt good. Everything was going fine until this spring.
A few months ago I started noticing things that I knew were related to my blood pressure, things I hadn’t felt in a couple of years. When I’d lay in bed at night, the pounding of my heart would keep me awake and I always felt short of breath. I went back in. Doc prescribed another med and did an Echo/ultrasound of my heart. The tests came back saying everything looks great with my heart, no problems whatsoever. However the blood pressure’s not getting any lower. The new third med isn’t working, and it’s making me feel like crap. So I’m heading back in again today.
Just for fun I had another fitness evaluation done today, using the exact same test that originally found the problem. I’m pretty much half way back to where I was before starting any of this, and for no apparent reason. I’m frustrated, and the only thing I can blame is genetics.
I’m a fit person, I always have been. I eat healthy (heck the latest tests last week even said my sodium levels are just fine). Never smoked, hardly ever drink, I’m one of the healthiest people I know, but yet here I am 31 and with all kinds of blood pressure problems that we just can’t seem to keep under control. Genetics. I know there’s heart-related issues on both sides of my family, so I can only assume that’s the root cause. But what can you do, that’s the one thing that’s beyond anyone’s control. Kind of a sucky feature eh?
Oh well, all I can do is deal with it, try the next med and then let my body re-adjust. It’s a frustrating process as it can make riding uncomfortable for a while. Makes racing almost impossible as I never know how I’ll react until I adjust.
All right, enough complaining, I got bikes to paint.
Friday night we headed over to Mlps to check out the downtown crit for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Thought we were in for a washout but the weather turned just in time and the streets dried up nicely for the start of the women’s race. It was great seeing the pros out there tearing it up on a pretty tight course. There was a pretty good pile-up on the fourth from the final lap of the Men’s race, happened almost right in front of us. One rider went a little wide and hit one of the outside metal barriers. We heard a loud snap, turns out it was his carbon fork, sheared both legs right off. There was a good sized pile up as the pack was still really tight, but fortunately everyone got up on their own. Hate seeing that kind of wreck.
Saturday was a painting day, got a couple frames painted, but not without about 4 hours of masking time. Yuk. One was the Riv Glorius I’ve mentioned before, it came out good, but man was it a pile of work. There’s a lot going on with those lugs.
My Brother and Sister in-law were gracious enough to come over and help us out with the deck as well. I had the frame up, but just needed to get all the top boards screwed back down. Thanks to them it’s done and ready for the new slide glass patio door installation this coming weekend. (this is pretty much how the whole summer’s gonna be, work on one project to get ready for the next house project, then sneak in bike work somewhere too). I can’t wait for this remodeling crap to be done.
Sunday did a little more paint work, some general cleanup in the yard, and then a great ride to finish the day. I was hoping to make it out to Stillwater for the final crit of the Nature Valley, but there was just too much to do. So an evening ride across St. Paul made do. I felt aweful for the first 10 miles, but then once I got up Ramsey hill I started to feel like my body was remembering what this biking thing is all about. I hit it pretty hard across Summit ave and picked up another rider. I didn’t catch his name but he was one a nice frame Chris Kvale made him, so he can’t be half bad! He hung in the draft till River road when I went south. I looped back to downtown and did a few more hills, hit the highbridge, then Ohio St. and finished it off climbing the Kellogg Bridge and then Mounds park hill. I thought Mounds park was going to claim my quads, they really started to complain going up that in the 53:19, but somehow I lived to tell. I definetly need to get in some longer rides to get my endurance back. I’ll have to make some time. It would help if it would stop raining long enough to get a ride over 40 miles….
Well it’s time to check the weather to see if there’s any hope of the Kenwood Monday night ride. It’s not looking good, monsoon season continues….
The Kenwood team kits have arrived! I stopped by the shoppe last night to get mine. The jerseys are hot, the skinsuits even hotter. Unfortunately all the shorts and bibs came with women’s chamois sewn in, so they’re going back. Maybe we’ll get those for 2006… For those not in the know, the 2005 colors are gold, high-life gold. Be sure to get your team paint job to match.
We had some exciting weather last night, lots of rain, high winds and hail. Of course I was out in Wirth riding on the Monday night ride when it all came up from out of nowhere. The weather was great when we left, about 80 and sunny, but then halfway through the lap things seemed to get dark pretty fast. Then wet. Then windy. Then we could hear trees breaking from the high winds, so it was time to head out! Fride and I made it back to the safety of the Shoppe and waited out the storm for a bit.
Despite being a short ride (only about an hour) it felt good, better than I expected since I went pretty hard Sunday night. I’ve been feeling better on the bike this week, maybe I’ve finally shaken whatever was making me feel like crap the last couple of weeks. My heart rate seemed back to where it should be. I can’t tell ya how good it feels to feel good on the bike again.
I know you have to be tired of hearing me complain about the weather, but man I sure hope it breaks soon. It’s been storming/raining everyday here, and I’m planning on cutting a 6’ x 7’ hole in my house this Friday. I can have these storms, I got a patio door to install! Beth’s been hoping to start on repainting the exterior of the house too, we haven’t had a long enough dry spell for her to even start any pre-work. On the otherhand, since I’ve never been a believer in watering my lawn, it’s usually brown by this point in the year, but so far this year it’s thicker and greener than ever.
Well, short posting today, not much else to say.
So much has happened since my last entry here that I don’t know where to start. It was a busy weekend, but I’ll go back to Thursday first.
My in-laws came up for the weekend to help on some house projects. So I took vacation Thursday afternoon and Friday. They showed up at about noon Thursday, so my timing was pretty good. I had been debating racing at Buck hill that night, but honestly I didn’t really feel up to it. But it was a beautiful day and I knew it I should, so I packed up the bike and headed south. Figured it would be entertaining for the in-laws too (they came down to watch).
It was a hot one, at least for what Minnesotan’s are used to…. I got in a solid warm-up lap and began to feel better. I had planned to take it easy since this was my 4th ride in the previous 3 weeks, but my racing side got the better of me. The course was good, a nice PD-set course with lots of creativity. It didn’t seem like much climbing at first, which isn’t good for me (I tend to make up my time on the climbs), but I think that was an illusion. By the third lap I wasn’t sure if I’d make it up the main climb again, but somehow did. I was running the 29’er equivalent of a 32:17. The fourth lap was even worse as both of my quads were cramping. Guess I need to get a few more hills in and build up my legs some more.
Despite the really sore legs, the race went really good for how out of riding shape I am. I felt great in the singletrack, the big tires were really hooking up. I think I’ll stick with the bigger gear and just work on strengthening my legs. I really do race better with a taller gear, even though it hurts the quads more.
Afterwards, we grabbed some food with some friends that live near buck, then headed home for some rest before a big day of home improvement. Installing a new sliding patio door in the livingroom, in place of the old crappy picture window.
Friday started at 6am. The two Bob’s (my father in-law is also named Bob) started into removing the picture window in the livingroom. The demo went smooth and fast, I was really surprised how easily the picture window came out. Turns out the main pane wasn’t really sealed in there, it just had 4 screws holding it in (these windows were really cheap!). Once that was out, we cut the rest of the opening for the new door and re-routed the electrical to clear the opening. The job was made pretty easy by the fact that we were able to use the existing header from the picture window for the door, so there really wasn’t too much carpentry work needed. We got the new door in that afternoon and closed up the rest of the opening by evening. Not bad, we celebrated by enjoying our deck with a cookout.
I stayed up way too late that night watching a movie (Jackie Brown) but I’m a sucker for movies…. The next morning 5:30 am came far too soon. I got up and Bob and I packed up the trailer with all the trash left from the old window and some previous projects. We ended up dumping 700 lbs of trash in that single load! Picked up some drywall and misc supplies on the way back from the pay dump, then grabbed a huge breakfast at the Lousiana Café (He loves spicy food and breakfast, so why not combine them!).
We got back and got to work. We put up two new outdoor lights over the deck, and finished closing up the interior wall with drywall. Build new steps from the house to the deck, trimmed the new door, and replaced the missing siding. Basically got it all patched back up. Beth and her Mom (Norma) were painting the back side of the house this whole time, so they finished up by painting the new trim we installed and the whole thing looked like it had always been there by evening. A few of the neighbors stopped by to check it out and everyone seemed to love the new house color (green). I guess the previous owner’s gray paint job wasn’t that popular, but nobody had ever complained before.
Sunday Beth continued painting, while I continued other work. I did some more drywall work, then finished up the tree trimming that had been started on Thursday. Took a trailer load of deadwood to the brush disposal site and then began moving my tent/shed. I’ve got this cheap Menards-type carport-tent thingy that I used to store my Miata in for the winter. These days it’s used as a shed, and we’re hoping to cram most of the junk from our garage into it during the construction. I had to move it to the back yard to make room for the construction, then re-organize everything inside of it. I started moving stuff out of the garage, but have a long way to go. One thing is for sure, it’s not all going to fit in that little tent!
Capped off the night with band practice, out first real practice in a while. We figured we better brush up a bit since we’re playing a wedding in two weeks.
So another weekend without a single ride. Bummer. I promise I’ll get some in this week though. My legs still hurt from Buck last week, those craps really hurt for a long time. I’m also in need of some serious shoptime this week. I’m falling way behind with all this house work. Time to play catch-up, again....
Nice to know even though you were cramping and haven't ridden much that you can still blow by me like I'm standing still. Hmmm, who needs to ride more?? 29er one speeder should be up and running tonight....uh, maybe. Thursday for sure!
Recently painting frames has become kind of a bone of contention for me. So I’m going to write about it today.
Painting frames is something that very few people do, and there are lots of good reasons for that! First and foremost, it’s tough. I mean really, really hard to get really, really good at. It takes years of practice and hundreds of frames to practice on. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not.
It’s also not cheap. The overhead required is huge when compared to other areas of framebuilding. You need a serious compressor, guns, masking supplies, lots of chemicals, and paint. High quality paint has always been expensive, but recently the prices seem to really be climbing due to tighter environmental regulation. Don’t take this as me complaining about environmental regulation, I’m all for it even if it means higher prices. Hopefully it will spur paint companies on to come up with formulations which can provide the high quality of the toxic paints today but without the harsh chemistry. But for today, I’m stuck with dangerous paint as it’s the only way to get the kind if finish people have come to expect on bikes.
As an example, just to get started and buy enough chemicals to paint a frame (we’re talking a high quality paint job here) one needs roughly the following (these are generally the smallest quantities sold in each chemical):
Metal prep: $25 / qt
Etching Primer: $35 / qt.
Primer activator: $27 / qt.
Sealer (the good stuff I use): $75 / qt
Sealer Reducer: $35 / qt
Sealer Activator: $21 / pint
Base coat (color) : $40-60 pint depending on color
Basemaker : $35 / qt
Clearcoat: $42 / qt
Clear activator: $20 / pint
Clear blender: $34 /qt
Thinner for cleanup : $ 6 / gallon
Tack cloths: $2.00 / frame
Now if you add that list up, that’s about $400 just in raw materials to spray your first frame(and that’s at my discounted rate). Granted most of those materials come in a quantity that will allow them to be used on several frames, but my point is, it’s not cheap. Most people seem to think I just buy a primer, color and clear, then spray them. Not so. On each frame I have to clean out my gun at least 5 times, and that’s just for a single color paint job. Each time I clean the gun, I have to waste anything left in the spray pot. That’s money that goes right to the hazardous waste disposal site.
Those costs also don’t take into account anything used to strip the frame. I need chem. stripper for that, then sandblasting. The chem. stripper is hazardous as well, so I need to contain all of that and dispose of it. The blaster is pretty friendly, but it needs abrasive media and lots of compressed air.
The paint is formed of a chemistry known as isocynates. Those are nasty buggers and can’t be filtered out of breathing air. The only way to be protected while spraying any of these high-end paints is to have a supplied air respirator system. That’s right, when you watch the idiots on OCC or those hot-rod shows spraying catalyzed paints with just a particulate respirator or sometimes no respirator, they’re filling up their lungs with these moisture clinging isocynates.
So lets look at what I’ve got for equipment (these are what it would cost to buy all these today) :
Air compressor capable of keeping up with the blast cabinet: $1000
Sandblasting cabinet large enough to fit a tandem frame: $1300
Supplied air respirator system: $800
Spray guns: $300
Painting stand for holding frames: $200
Oven for curing : $1000
That stuff adds up fast, obviously you could get by for less, but if your goal is to do a lot of paint, you’ll need close to this amount, and a clean booth to spray in. That’s a lot of overhead to cover.
None of this even takes into account my labor. Stripping and prepping a frame can take between 1.5-3 hours depending on what the finish is, and if there’s chrome I need to protect. A single color spray job takes about 2-3 hours for one frame with absolutely no masking. There’s almost always masking to be done, that can be several hours depending what’s there. This adds up fast, again…. When all is said and done, I suspect I have about 5 hours of labor in a paint job without masking. An average paint job probably has closer to 7 hours of labor start to finish.
Then add into this equation the health risks associated with painting and the hazardous chemical disposal (thankfully the disposal facility in St. Paul isn’t far away). Painting isn’t a pretty picture.
It also drastically cuts into time that could be spent building frames. Painting is the number 1 reason why my lead times are so long, I’m busy doing repaints between frames.
I’ve done my best to keep painting prices fairly low as I’ve felt is was a good service to the local cycling community. However I’m at the point where this “service” is becoming detrimental to the rest of my business. For all these reasons, I’m restructuring my painting philosophy. I’ll still do repaints, but the prices are going to be going up as well as the lead time. My hope is to reduce the number of those so I can spend more time actually building frames and reducing that lead time. So I hope when you see higher paint prices, you’ll know why. It’s not that I’m greedy, but I simply would rather be building frames than repainting them. I have a limited amount of time for this business, so why shouldn’t I focus the part of it that it more fun and rewarding for me personally?
Kenwoodies don’t worry, the team paint will still be the best value I have, but that price is going up too, and it will only be available to people currently in the club.
Wow, three days in a row of blather on this blog, what’s the world coming to?
Yesterday was my birthday, so I decided to celebrate in the best way I know how, cut out of work for the afternoon and ride my bike. It was a really sunny day, no wind, almost perfect by all measures. I grabbed some lunch on my way home from work and prepared for a nice long ride.
I figured I’d ride down to Hastings via Cottage Grove and get in a few hills, then head up through Afton and back in making about a 65 mile route. Great plan, but fate didn’t seem to be on my side in accomplishing it.
Lunch didn’t sit well, I think I had some bad deli-meat on my sandwich. So I started off the ride not feeling great. The humidity started creeping up pretty quick too, and I think I underestimated the sun. It’s been cloudy and rainy so much here that I must have forgotten what the sun was like. I used sunscreen, but it was so humid that you’ll really recognize me at Buck hill this week if I’m wearing a chaci’ed jersey.
I headed south first, along one of my favorite routes towards Cottage Grove and the first big climb. Well, that plan got altered as there was a bridge out for construction about 2 miles from Cottage Grove. I had noticed some construction barriers along the side of the road a few miles back, but I figured they were old since they’re weren’t up in the road. I obviously overestimated the ability of the construction crew to properly mark things. So I turned around, and rode up about a mile of hill to get back to the last intersection and take an alternate route. I had two choice of direction, one went roughly the direction I wanted to end up in, the other went the opposite direction, however I hadn’t actually ridden on either road before. I chose the option going in my direction, or so I thought….
After riding down two miles of decent, I figured I’d be cruising into cottage grove from the north, no so, I was cruising into south St. Paul from the east. After 1 full hour of riding, I managed to get approximately ten minutes away from my house. Amazing.
So back up the two miles of grade I had just descended, then take the other detour route. This one leads me east, past Cottage Grove and I end up about half way to Afton, but at least I know those roads. I head south back towards Cottage Grove and roughly to Hastings. By this time though, I’ve added almost an hour to my ride that I didn’t anticipate and it’s getting really damn hot. Unfortunately I know that there are absolutely no options for water stops out in the area I was planning to ride and I’m through half my water already. It’s becoming increasingly clear that I’m not going to make it to Hastings, or if I do, I’ll be really dehydrated. Definitely not used to riding in the sun and heat.
So I decided I’d head back north a bit and see how I feel. I rode up towards Old Cottage Grove (which is much cooler than Cottage grove), then up towards Afton. I still wasn’t feeling great and my waterbottles weren’t getting’ any fuller, so it was time to cut the loop short in search of water. I stopped and filled up a few bottles once I got back to some civilization, then hit a few more hills on the way home. I don’t know haw long the ride was (I don’t use bike computers) but I’m guessing about 45 miles. I felt like I had done 80 though, not a great sign, but who cares, I got out for a nice ride.
I feel pretty good today, my legs feel fine, so that’s a positive sign. I think I just need to acclimatize to the heat and humidity we’re having this week.
We headed up to Coon Rapids later that evening for dinner with the folks to celebrate birthdays (I happen to share my birthday with my Mom, or is it the other way around?). Headed home and collapsed into bed.
In other news, I found out yesterday that I have asthma, hence the chronic shortness of breath lately. I’ve actually been on a daily asthma med for about 5 years now, but it appears I just need a little more. I actually consider that really good news. It means that there’s nothing wrong with my heart (aside from blood pressure issues), which is what the doc was thinking was causing my breathing problems. So in the big picture, taking a few puffs off an inhaler before riding seems pretty good compared to needing some kind of heart surgery. Heck, maybe I’ll be able to breath easier at Buck hill again now, that would be nice.
Bob- Hey!! Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And... That is FANTASTIC news about the med issues... Asthma ain't a bad deal considering the other possibilities. So what are you now... 48?? ;-] -Me
Man was it hot at Buck hill last night. They set a good course, one I would normally love since it involved a lot of climbing, but last night things didn’t go my way. The warm-up lap felt pretty good once I got used to the inferno-like conditions. I was a bit late making it to the starting line though, everyone was lined up already and about to go. So I didn’t get the greatest position off the line, but there was a huge climb right off the bat, so I figured I ‘d make up the time there. I did my best, passing lots of folks on the climb, but once we hit the single-track climb I was locked in position, there was no room to pass.
The bike felt good, but I noticed in the singletrack that the rear tire felt a little soft. I kept riding. By the time I got through the first lap I was riding just about on the rim, so it was time to walk in. Buck is a pretty short race, so I don’t usually bring any tools with. You’d lose almost a full lap (out of 4) fixing a flat, so why bother carrying tools up that climb!
So I ended early and took on a role as spectator, watching as the other kenwoodies reacted to the heat. It was an odd race, people were all over the place in terms of position. I saw plenty of people get off to stop and rest or walk a climb. 104 degree heat index will do that to you, unless you’re Tommy-Mac. He seemed completely unphased by the heat, riding in to a strong finish behind fast Eddy.
Between the car-ride down to buck, and the two laps I rode, I managed to down a gallon of Gatorade. I think I was still dehydrated. Hot hot hot.
I’ve been making some time down in the shop to try and catch up on projects. I’ve got a tandem frame about half done, I’m hoping to try and finish up most of it this weekend. It’s close and it’ll be nice, fully lugged, very custom. I’ll get some pictures of the lugs up here soon.
I’ve been spending time working out in the garage as well this week. Wednesday evening I had the joy of tearing apart all the wheel bearings on Beth’s car. She had an intermittent screeching noise coming from one of them. It seems like you really ought to be able to tell where that noise is coming from when driving, but oddly enough the best we could do was suspect it was on the passenger side somewhere. Thankfully Ben at the Shoppe keyed me in that the bearing may just be loose, causing it to turn on the spindle, making said horrible screeching noise. I was skeptical since it required my 3’ breaker bar with a 6’ pipe on it to break the rear spindle nut loose, but he was right. The bearings looked just fine, but when I reinstalled the spindle nut, I got another half turn on it with no problem. I guess the nut was just frozen in place, but not actually tight. Checked the other 4 as well while I was at it, they were much better.
And then to give me more work, the miata’s has been acting up a little in this heat wave we’ve been having. It’s really odd, when I start the thing within about 5 hours of the engine last running the idle is messed up right at start-up. It wanders up and down, but will smooth right out with a quick dab of the gas pedal, and it’s fine after that. It’s not a problem when the engine’s cold (meaning sat overnight) as the ECU puts it on high-idle for about a minute and that cures the problem. It’s not an issue when it’s cooler, and it’s not an issue outside of the first 20 seconds after starting. It seems related to the new AFM module that I’m using to smooth out the air-fuel mixture at high boost levels. But the AFM itself tests out fine. I think it may just be a slight temperament of how far I’ve pushed increasing the engine output. I’m going to try and clean out the idle air adjustment on the throttle body next, supposedly that does wonders to smooth out idle drop on miata’s. I think I’ll read out the engine error codes too, just to see if there’s anything else going on. Could be an airflow sensor problem as well.
Alright I’m just ramping now, so I’m signing off for the weekend.
Finally, after to long some good shop progress was made this weekend. Mother nature has been providing me with plenty of reasons to stay down in my nice cool, dry shop lately. Got the main triangles of a lugged tandem mitered and brazed up, and a start on the fork and rear triangle. I’m hoping to get most of it done this week.
We got in a great ride Saturday, before the deluge of crappy weather that we’ve been having. Stone Phillips, tttt, and To-Mac showed up at my house at 7:45 am to head out towards Afton. I think the only way this ride could have been harder was if Deanwood had shown up. These guys can’t leave a hill alone, or let any other rider be on the road without chasing them down. The ride basically consisted of a long series of sprints, mostly up large hills. It really worked my legs over, but somehow I managed to keep up. I was really feeling it on the way back to St. Paul, but I decided I should get in the same mileage that these guys had, so I kept going with them back to Minneapolis. Turned out to be worthwhile, as we stopped for breakfast at the Longfellow Grill. I needed it bad. Had the Smoked Salmon Scramble while Stone and To-Mac chose the Jack-cakes. What a meal. The only problem left was that while those two only had to ride a few blocks home, I now had a 12 mile ride home across St. Paul with a couple good climbs at the end. I had been sitting and eating for almost a hour and a half!
I’m not sure if my legs have ever felt less inspiring than they did that morning. It took until about downtown St. Paul before they felt alright, but that was quickly remedied by having to climb Mounds Park Hill and upper afton to get home. I made it home, but I was toasted.
After that it was over to my Brother’s house to help him and Kat put up their new fence. Surprisingly it didn’t feel all that bad to squat down all afternoon holding up fence pickets.
It seemed that we entered home-renovation hell on Friday when a disaster struck. I had went down to the city offices over lunch to apply for the building permits for the addition. I had my application all set to go, along with the site-plan drawings that they requested. They cheerfully took the application and sent me over to the “plan review” area to talk to a reviewer. So over I went, explaining the plan to the reviewer and showing him the drawings of the addition. He gave me the list of what additional items I’ll need to provide for the permit (which I expected) and then asked about set-backs.
I had looked into the set-back on my lot multiple times already. The Zoning commission even publishes setback data on their website, and I had called the city to confirm the numbers. The design of the addition was based on those numbers that I had been provided with. Well, it turns out the Zoning website is full of crap and the setback on my lot was almost twice as large as I was informed. Turns out every lot in St. Paul has it’s own unique set-back, it has almost nothing to do with your zoning. In the case of my Block, the set-back was simply the existing distance from my house to the street. Therefore making it impossible to do any modifications to your house that don’t stay within the existing footprint of the house without needing a variance. Incidentally the variance makes the city between $350-450 each time.
This presented a problem as my addition would extend about 4’ too far into the set back, the kindly informed me that I’d need a variance. This certainly wasn’t in my plan, nor should it be, I had based the design off the data they had given me, and it turned out they were wrong. What a bunch of crap. To make it worse, if I wanted my variance to heard at the July meeting of the Zoning board, I had to get my application and drawings in by Monday (this was on Friday). Otherwise I have to wait till August to have my case heard. I hate this.
I went home pissed off and knowing I had to work fast to get everything I needed by Monday. I decided to remeasure the whole lot myself and verify their dimensions and measurements. So I staked off the corners of the lot and stretched stings to mark the property lines, and measured all the distances from the house to the lot lines.
Turns out the city had made another error. They listed the set back as 48’ which is the exact distance from the corner of my garage to the street. However, my house is not parallel to the street, it’s set at a steep angle and the front corner of the house is actually closer to the street than the garage. They missed that when they measured for set back. And as it turns out, my addition is not any closer to the street than my existing house it located. There’s just no way I should need this variance.
So I made up a new property drawing showing the entire lot line and street curb line. Showed all the measurements to the curb line and showed how my addition will sit on the lot. I brought that in Monday morning to the city and planned to put up a big argument. Well damn them, they were remarkably nice and I hardly had to make any argument at all. They took the drawings back to the a few other people and in about 20 minutes came back up and said I didn’t need the variance. They also apologized for the error and any inconvenience it had caused me. It was actually a good experience and they were really helpful, it’s like they weren’t actually city workers, but human beings! My hat’s off to the folks at the St. Paul LIEP office, I hope the rest of the project goes as well.
Well, the Monday night ride got rained out last night and tonight isn’t looking much better. So it looks like spin class over lunch is in order.
Wheeeeeeew, glad that worked out Bob! Nothing like agencies (of any kind) to ruin a perfectly good day (week, month, year, decade... ). Ya gotta LOVE red tape!! Sounds like it's all a GO... I bet you two will be happy to get this puppy all finished up soon. -Me
What teases! Get you all pumped up then set you loose with an apology...