Sunday, July 23, 2006
The event was (very well) organized by Stone, so we started near his place in Longfellow, at Minnehaha Coffee. I opted to drive over to his house, and start from there since riding from St. Paul would have moved this event from Epic to Stupid. Billy and Stone were waiting at Stone's place, pretty much all set to go, so I unloaded the bike and we rolled off to the coffee shop. 2 blocks down we ran into Freeride and Thorny who were already lost and going the wrong way, so they jumped in and we all headed to the coffee shop.
Once there, I was shocked to find a full bike rack and a whole lotta people waiting. Wallace and KK were the Kenwoodies there, but in addition there were 4 Penn boys and Chuck from H-wood racing. So 11 people in total, which is huge for a ride like this. We all went in and got fueled up for the day, then sat around outside for a few minutes eating and drinking. I think my favorite part of the ride occurred just as we were getting ready to leave. I'm pulling my new bike out of the rack and Chuck comes over to look at it 'cause he obviously had no idea what to make of this thing. His first question was "is that some really old bike?" to which I simply replied "nope, brand new, this is my 4th ride on it." To which he followed with "that thing's a singlespeed, you're gonna get dropped!" A point which he seemed adamant about, so I didn't even reply. Chuck's a plenty nice guy and you'd think he'd have ridden enough with me by now to know what kind of bike I would be on. I was pretty surprised that I ended up being the only person on a single for the ride. Tomac was supposed to be there on a single, but some family obligations kept him from making it at the last minute, so I was on my own.
I knew this was going to be a long day with a lot of road riding between off-road areas, so I had at least planned ahead. I knew the 34:17 gear I had on there wouldn't be cutting it on the roads and the front chainring is a spiderless XTR set-up so that size is locked in and I didn't have any smaller cogs in back. Fortunately One on One came to my rescue with a 14t cog at the last minute. I was thinking a 15t would have been perfect, but 14 was close enough and certainly better than 17. I put both the 14 and 17 on the bike figuring I'd just switch between gears as we went from pavement to dirt, seemed like a fine plan.
So the ride starts of and we head down to Minnehaha falls and hit some of the single track in there. I didn't get a good feeling since We basically just rode from pavement straight into trails with no break, I was stuck in the 34:14. It was a short section though, and I made it through fine. We returned to pavement to head down the path and towards St. Paul. At fort Snelling, there is a very steep paved hill you have to climb up to get to the bridge with will take you to the promised land (St. Paul). This hill is usually the site of big-ring sprints and heroic climbing efforts to race up it. Yesterday it almost ended the ride for 2 of us in the first half hour. Freeride was in front of me going up it, and I was cranking with everything I had (big gear). Suddenly Freeride shifts his front chainring and drop's the chain while pedaling really hard, his foot drops underneath him and his bike is instantly sideways, while I'm instantly running into him. I jambed on the brakes but couldn't stop fast enough, so I tried to steer around him, but I ended up riding over his rear wheel, then endo'ing for what seemed like forever. I balanced on my front wheel long enough to have the thought to unclip, which I did and landed on my feet. Freeride had somehow done the same, neither one of us hit the pavement, but both bikes did. I looked back to see my brand new bike bounce in the air, then land on it's side. Miraculously not mark on the fresh paint. I landed on the handlebar and pedal. We both pressed on.
We got over to St. Paul and headed to St. Croix Farms for a few hot laps. By the time we got there, I was figuring out there were a few repercussions from the crash, and I had to stop to make adjustments. The others took in a short lap while I readjusted my front brakes and straightened out my stem and bars then hooked back up with the group. At this point, Chuck, the guy who was full of sage advise at the start bailed out and went home. No comment on how appropriate it is that he's an H-wood rider!
After St. Croix falls, we headed across the river on the new 35e ped bridge and over to Salem hills. I hadn't been to Salem hills yet and wasn't sure what to expect. The trail was actually pretty fun. It's not a hard trail, it's rated as beginner, but it's well laid out and can be ridden pretty fast. The 34:14 wasn't much of a problem here. K-racer Miriam also showed up here and rode with us for a little while, and another Penn guy jumped in as well. So we rode off from here with 11 people again and began a longer road section south to Lebanon hills. The Penn boyz that showed up were all really fast and one or two were a little too eager to hit thing hard, so we ended up time-trailing it down there at about 20 mph for most of the way. I kept thinking I'd get shot out the back since my gear was now on the low side but I managed to hang in there. We finally hit Lebanon and all the Penn guys were starting to complain how out of gas they were. I thought that was funny since I was actually feeling alright, and they were the one's going far too hard on the ride so far.
Unfortunately KK had to turn around and head home due to prior obligations just as we got to Lebanon hills, down to 10 people again. We put in a good lap at on all the trails and regrouped in the parking lot to head to lunch at a nearby Bruegger's. Stone and Wallace were feeling fiesty though and wanted a second lap, I knew we had a long day ahead yet, so I opted out. The rest of us headed to lunch and to sit around inside the air-conditioned bagel shop.
Lunch felt good, I mean really good. We all had sandwiches and refilled out bottles, then headed out. Terrace oaks was next, as it was only a couple miles away. But before we got there, 2 more Penn Boyz bailed out and headed home. Down to 8.
Terrace oaks was a blast for me. I hadn't been there in years and it brought back all the good memories of when I worked at BJ's in College, since we'd go down there once a week to ride. The trail is nearly the same as it always has been, but since Lebanon is so closeby hardly anyone appears to ride terrace anymore. All the better for us, in fact I like that trail far more than Lebanon since it's more grown in and feels like a real "trail".
From Lebanon it was time to see what we were made of. Headed down to the Riverbottoms trail and since we were on the south side of the river, that meant riding the Nettles to get to the trail. The two Penns boys that were left were adamant that they would not ride the nettles. sissies. So they pulled out once we crossed the cedar bridge. Down to 6.
We crossed the Nettles, and they actually were not anywhere near as bad as they can be. Got to the riverbottoms trail and proceeded west. We hit the raft crossing of 9 mile creek on the trail and all 6 piled onto the raft. The sucker was stuck, wouldn't budge to move across, and just by looking down we could tell the water was low. Thorny slowly and gingerly lowered one foot down into what we thought would be about a foot of muck to try and pull us across. When he jumped down with both feet and the water wasn't even over his ankles we all just about fell over laughing and proceeded to walk across the creek and up the other side. Keep heading west...
Hit the west end of the trail at the Bloomington Ferry bridge and stopped to take a little water break and discuss how we didn't want to climb the steep road up from the parking lot. Eventually we had to head up though. Since I still had not changed to my lower gear, I was rocking the big gear up the hill, so I had no choice but to go hard. Full sprint up and I found myself alone at the top, so I just headed out to the convienence store we had agreed to stop at for more Gatoraid. Regroup at the store and hang out for a few minutes. Things are starting to seem more somber, and I think people were really starting to feel the hours of saddle time we've put in. Amazingly I'm feeling pretty good yet and I don't know why. I have no right to feel good, I haven't trained at all and I'm probably in the worst shape of the group. I'll credit the bike and the Cliff-Shot-Blocks that I've been eating all day. I got a bunch of those as free samples and was pretty skeptical, but man they really seem to help.
From there it was due north up to the Gravel Grinder. Most folks don't know the Gravel Grinder, it's a short (probably about a mile long) trail just north of 494 in Edina. It's all loose gravel and it's all either straight up or straight down. Honestly I think this thing is the hardest trail on the whole ride just due to the climbing. I'm still rockin' the 34:14 so I know there are only 2 options: go hard or walk. The latter would have been the smarter option, but I chose the first. I hit the gravel standing up and never sit till the top. Wallace is right on me, but there's nobody after that. I had made it about 15' from the top when I spun my back tire a bit. Not enough for me to stop, but enough for Wallace to seize the moment and pass me. So I followed him down the other side, sketchily since the Crow tires aren't exactly good on this kind of stuff. The two of us popped out the other side and there was nothing doing behind us. We rode on, but they decided to turn back to make sure everyone was coming. We finally all met back up and consoled each other on the pain we were feeling. Unfortunately these was worse to come.
The Euro-climb was just ahead and I had forgotten about it. Damn. That's a paved climb through some residential neighborhoods, very curvy, very steep and very unrelenting. I popped about half way up and had to back off. It took some time, but I think the big gear had finally gotten the better of me, I just watched in envy as the others downshifted into lower gears to make the climb. I suffered my way up the rest of the climb and regrouped with the others down the road. It was time for some caffeinated GU.
We were rapidly nearing Minneapolis so discussion turned to what to do next. Freeride was going to head off at an upcoming intersection since we were almost to his house. Thorny was planning on riding back home too, but his route would be further north along ours. Stone and Billy were losing motivation to hit Wirth and were thinking about just heading back to Stone's place to start the BBQ festivities early. Wallace and I were unsure, so we all kept riding.
At France Ave we had to make the critical decision. Billy and Stone were set of calling it a ride, so they were heading back to Stone's place. Thorny was heading north from here to his house. Wallace and I conferred and while we both didn't feel great, we felt like we still had a little gas and I felt like I would be disappointed if we didn't do Wirth, afterall this is the Super-enduro!
So Thorny, Wallace and myself headed north (3 left). Throny was in a trance, just riding, just trying to get home. He was way in front of us and was still pointing out road obstacles as if he thought we were right behind him. He peeled off at Glenwood Ave (2 left) and Wallace and I began our last dirt-ride of the day, Wirth. It was actually a really great ride I thought. The trails were great, not too many folks out and I felt like we had truly made it a super-enduro. Once the lap was complete, we headed back south to the Greenway and rode that over to Stone's house. Perfect timing since Stone and Tomac were just out picking up the dinner. We each took a quick shower, then gorged on BBQ. Awesome.
My hat's off to Stone for organizing such a great day. Wallace thanks for making it a super-enduro with me! I think the mac-daddy mileage prize has to go to Wallace for sure though as he put in the bonus lap at Lebanon hills. That guy is tough.
The new bike was great for the ride too. Honestly I've never been so comfortable on a ride of this length as I was yesterday. The singlespeed turned out to be not too bad and I just might recover from this one in time to ride it again next year.
Friday, July 21, 2006
It was a sad buck hill season for me, I made it to the first race and the last race, that's it. My schedule just wasn't working out well, and I was out of town on a lot of Thursdays. Not to mention the "incident" the first race soured me a little and I didn't really feel like racing for a while.
Last night was great though. Perfect weather, lots of people and me on a brand new 29'er. I knew I wasn't going to be doing anything special in terms of actually riding fast, so I started back a bit and went out at a pretty reasonable pace. I hooked up with the Freidell bro's for a lap, then once it thinned out I decided I couldn't stand riding behind Gary's bright green IF spandex shorts, so I picked it up on the climb. Next I got in with Deanwood. We rode most of the race together and I was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately my seatpost wasn't quite tight and I could feel it slipping starting on the second lap. I thought I'd just ride it out, but man was it getting low by the third lap. Deanwood was kind enough to offer a wrench (since I hadn't brought any tools) and I stopped to make a quick adjustment halfway through lap 3. It had dropped about 2", so I made the corrections and was on my way about a minute back from where I was. I could see Deanwood in front of me, but just didn't have much left to bridge the gap, so I decided to just keep things comfortable and finish out the race without killing myself (which I did just fine). All in all a good race.
It was only me second real ride on the new 29'er and I wasn't totally sure how those tires were going to like buck. I've got the Crow's from stans on there and they're crazy light. Super fast on the climbs and accelerations, but how would their baldness they take the sandy singletrack? Turns out, not too bad. Yes, they'll drift in sand and on high-speed corners, but for the most part they hooked up very well at the 30 psi I was running. Don't think I'd want to ride really rough stuff with them, but for the relatively smooth stuff they're grrrrrreat!
In other news, we were out of town for the past week out in Oregon (my apologies for anyone trying to contact me recently). We drove out with a couple of friends, which made for a lot of car-time. 27 hours each way roughly. The friends we traveled with were heading to a wedding out on the coast and we wanted to visit two sets of friends in the Corvallis area. We all spent a day or so in Portland, which was fun since Beth hadn't seen the city before. Then we headed down the coast and eventually our friends dropped us off in Corvallis for a few days.
It was great catching up with our friends out there all of which we hadn't seen since our wedding. Both sets of friends had new babies within the last 4 weeks, so there were new faces to meet as well!
We happened to be traveling though the same weekend as the Davinci days festival in Corvallis, so we had to check it out. The main focus of the festival is what they call Kinetic Sculpture Racing. Basically people build crazy human powered vehicles that have to complete in 4 stages of racing: a 10 mile road race, a sand pile climb, a mud bog run, and a 1 mile journey down the river! Not only do these vehicles have to traverse all these things, they have to do it with style, there's an artistic portion to the judging as well. Some of these contractions obviously had massive amounts of labor put into them, probably years of work, they were impressive to say the lease. Others needed some improvement, but at least the people operating them were having fun!
The one thing that was evident is that I must partake in this event in the near future. I was chock full 'o ideas all weekend of what I could do really make one of these thing fly, I won't say any more though, as I don't want to spoil it!
Monday, July 10, 2006
House first: Sunday I finally got around to filling in the grout around all the stone blocks I had applied to the foundation of the house. This was one tedious job. You mix up mortar in small quantities, then pour some in a large cloth funnel bag (think cake-decorating bag), then squeeze the runny mortar into the gaps between the blocks. Sounds easy enough, but when half your work is above your head that means you're holding a bag of concrete overhead for hours. It took me about half of the mortaring to finally get the hang of it and get the mix consistence just right. I'd say the first half of the project took about 4 hours and the second half 2 hours.
Once you get the mortar in place, then you have to smooth it in the gaps and make it look good. Unfortunately with stones that are all irregular all the gaps are different sizes and shapes. Therefore there is no tool you can use to get in all the gaps, it's a finger job. I think I wore off all the fingerprints on my right hand doing this, but I managed to get it all in there and smooth, but the concrete mortar just sucks all the moisture out of your skin.
Here's the final result though, I think it looks pretty good. And now we can finish up the garage door trim and paint.
Now onto more important things, bikes. After far more painting than I had planned, I was finally able to build up the new lugged 29'er this weekend. I experimented with some new paint on the lugs, chrome paint! The lugs on the frame were actually stainless since I was planning on polishing them out, but then when I decided to use the bridgestone fork crown, I had a dilemma. The crown wasn't stainless and I couldn't make it match the polished stainless lugs. I didn't like the idea of just painting it and polishing the rest, so I decided to try something new.
Different chrome paints have been around, but none of them have historically been any good. But I came across this stuff that was terribly expensive, but of a quality that was on par with the other paints I use. I decided to try it. I learned a lot during the process of painting this one and I think future projects will go much faster because of it, but the reality is this paint job took as much time as at least three regular paint jobs combined! Was it worth the time?
I think so.
The paint is really unique. I'm not sure that I'd exactly call it chrome, but more like polished aluminum, very metal-like though. I suspect part of tha is due to my base prep, I think I can get it darker to look more like chrome with a darker base prep.
I absolutely love how the fork crown came out though. The blue coming through the windows inside the crown and the long points are just stunning. That crown really makes the bike in my opinion.
I tried another new method on this paint job, liquid masking agent. I did about 75% of the masking with a brush on masking agent. You let it dry, then cut it out with an xacto knife. It was much easier to work with than I thought, and really left some nice crisp edges. I think I'll be using it more.
Here's the whole front end. What's a lugged mtb without a matching lugged stem? Really? I jus had to do it. That's one of Darrel McCulloch's lugged stem kits, but I turned around the back lug to give it a rise and then reshaped all the points to match the frame. You can't see it in this picture, but the headtube is finished off with a sterling silver Bob Brown Cycles logo, the finishing touch!
These stems are pretty well thought out, the steerer clamp is 28.6mm (so this one has a shim, but you can't tell) and the bar clamp is 31.8 so it can fit pretty much any size or type of bar (with a shim if needed). The lugs can be flipped to give different angles and the castings were left with extra material for shaping in the right places. Well done Darrel. Finished product is under 200g for a 135mm length!
The seatlug is pretty straightforward, but I like this picture because it gives you an idea of the depth of color on the blue. That's actually a candy blue finish, the frame is painted silver, all the blue color is in the clearcoat, so it looks really deep. Again, more labor on the paint, but worth it in the end. Candy colors are a pretty neat effect that can be very subtle or quite dramatic. I'm going to be experimenting more with them.
The dropouts are real chrome. These are Campy 1010b's with the deraileur hanger removed (since this is a singlespeed) I was going to use track dropouts, but I just don't think they ever look as classy as road horizontals, especially these horizontals and this bike is about class. There's really no reason to use track dropouts in a frame like this over a forward facing dropout, the wheels hold fine, especially with those huge "fun-bolts" on the King hub. I love the really big window on these too, they really knew how to make a nice looking dropout back when these were made. I've got a few sets left, so lemme know if you want them on your frame!
Finally, here's the whole thing built up. You had to figure out by now where those super-shiny polished XTR cranks were headed right? Polished is the theme of the bike, that along with lightweight. The whole thing comes in about 18 lbs, pretty darn good for a steel 29'er I think. The Stan's no-tubes /Chris King wheels are the main culprit in saving weight, but all the parts are reasonably light.
My only big concern with this bike is the Stan's rims/tires. I'm somewhat skeptical about their long term durability, but time will tell. They're really light, but you can also feel the large de-tensioning of the spokes when you inflate the tire to 40psi, the rims are that thin! I also spent far more time than I think it should have taken trying to get the tires to seal up to the rims. we'll see....
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Mark and I had decided earlier that we'd ride part of the way home from the cabin Sunday afternoon. On the way up, we left a car at Royalton so that we would only have a 75 mile ride instead of a 150+ mile ride all the way home. Seemed like a fine plan.
Sunday came around and we made a last minute decision to boat to Crosslake for one last ice-cream stop before we hit the road. So we all piled in the boat and headed to the local ice-cream shop. Now some of you may remember that I wrote about another trip up to my folks cabin a few weeks ago with a big group of friends. During that trip we visited this same ice-cream shop with the intentions of gorging on ice-cream by all getting Doozies: supposedly nearly a quart of ice-cream on a cone, you even get your picture taken if you get one. Well, out of the whole group of about a dozen people last time, I was the only one to get a doozie. The group was weak.
This time Mark wanted to make up for his poor showing as part of the group a few weeks earlier, so he ordered a doozie, and naturally so did I. The key to eating these things is speed. If you take your time and lick away on the surface, it'll just melt and you'll be left with a cone full of liquid and that's no fun. So you have to take big bites and never slow down, which both of us did. We polished them off with style, then headed back to the cabin to pack up and hit the road.
By the time we got back it was about 4pm, which was later than I wanted, but what can you do. We hit the road figuring it would be 4 hours max to ride to the car we had left in Royalton, so we'd still have plenty of daylight. Keep in mind that at this time all Mark and I had eaten were Blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and then a huge serving of ice-cream for lunch.
I felt really sluggish all the way to Brainerd, but I chalked it up to my laziness and not riding much lately. Mark seemed fine and my stomach was doing alright with that ice-cream.
Unfortunately we both knew that there would be nowhere to stop for food or water between Brainerd and Little Falls. This meant some dinner now even though I wasn't all that hungry, or wait 2 hours at which time I knew I'd be out of gas. Mark was a little hungry, so we decided to stop now. It was Sunday night in Brainerd and we were well on the other side of town from all the chain restaurants, so we had to scour the old downtown section for an open establishment. Finally after riding around more than we needed we found Giovanni's pizza. Not my first choice, but it was the only choice! We ate in moderation knowing it was really hot and that it might not sit very well while riding. Not to mention we had really maxed out on dairy food already for the day.
Hit the road again and again it was getting later than I wanted. It was after 7 now and we still had about 50 miles to go. About an hour down the road both of us started to feel bad. Really bad. The pizza was working it's magic in the wrong way and we both just really felt sick. Standing up was terrible so we sat as much as possible. When we came to the split in the road where we had to decide between a closer town, but overall longer route thru Little Falls, or the overall shorter route through Pierz but a longer time to a bathroom, we headed to Little Falls. The ride had become about the most uncomfortable ride of my life by the time we got to the city limits and I've never been happier to see a gas-station. relief.
After a brief stop and some rest, we got back on the bikes and tried to figure out the best route from here to Royalton. I had been planning on riding through Pierz, so I didn't have a route from this direction. Unfortunately there was an airport between where we were and where we wanted to be and no thru roads. So we headed down through the otherside of town, hoping to pick up a county road south of the airport. The sun was rapidly sinking.
It seemed like we had found a good route riding county road 76 south, it had a big shoulder and very few cars, perfect. Well perfect until it dumped us onto Hwy 10. Yup, it merged right in, so now we were riding on the shoulder of a major highway with cars flying by at 70 mph and it's pretty much dark out. We got off that as soon as possible about a mile down. Got on a county road that could have taken us right where we wanted to be, but instead we turned one road too soon and ended up back at hwy 10 a few miles down. crap. It was ride 10 a little longer or back track quite a bit to try and find another road in the dark. We opted to ride down 10 a little further, facing traffic so we would be able to see if anyone was going to plow into us. After what felt like an eternity but was probably about a mile, we hit another county road and headed off into the darkness. It was really dark now, thankfully there was nobody out on these back roads at all, so we had room, but the bugs were awful. At least we were going the right direction. We rode for what seemed like a long time until we started seeing signs of what appeared to be a town. Houses with mail-boxes at the road instead of fire-road signs, garbage cans out for city collection. So we turned east and headed out towards 10 thinking we were at Royalton (the city is right on 10). Nope, we got to 10 and there was a wood working shop and nothing else. I knew we had to be really close to town, but I couldn't see it in either direction looking up and down 10 and honestly we didn't know if it was just north of us or just south. Not to mention it was after 10pm now and we're really getting tired. So we broke out the cell phone and called Amy to ask her to mapquest this woodworking shop that we were sitting in the parking lot of. Finally after a few minutes of being eaten alive by mosquito's she found it and informed us were were about a mile away from the car! thank God. We turned around, rode to the real to and quickly found the car. Thankfully by this time my stomach was feeling better, but my legs and butt were shot.
Next time, leave earlier, less ice-cream, no pizza. I'm still trying to recover.