Thursday, May 24, 2007


Here it is almost the end of the week and I still haven't written the Cable Classic recap.

4 Kenwoodies head north to the "Love Shack" Friday afternoon. Despite stopping in Cumberland for watered down red food coloring spilled on overcooked spaghetti noodles, we get to the cabin pretty early. Normally we cook up at the cabin that night, but since we had our fill of starch already we didn't really know what to do with the evening. So when Deanwood asked if anyone wanted to take a tour of the lake via boat, we were all in.

It was a pretty typical Deanwood outing. Nearly clocks me in the head trying to start the motor, and he ended up knee deep in lakewater while standing in the boat before the night was done.

The next morning we rolled out of bed at the crisp hour of 6:30am, for an 8am departure. Again, with only 4 of us at the cabin, things went far too smoothly, and we actually left on time. TSP has teh foresight to make his own coffee at the cabin, so we didn't need to make the usual coffee stop in Stone Lake on the way to the race. Good thing since we left so early we actually rolled through Stone Lake before the coffee shop even opened.

We made it to the Lakewoods (start point) at like 8:30 or something. A new world record. I don't think a Kenwoodie has made it to the Lakewoods before 9:45 before (race starts at 10). We all register, roll around a little and try to figure out what you do with yourself when you arrive an hour early to the race!

Continuing the anomalies, the weather was oddly decent at the start. I've been doing the Cable Calssic for years now and I honestly can't remember it ever not being 40 and rainy at the start. It did rain for about 3 minutes an hour before the start, but quickly cleared up and was about 60 degrees. Again, I didn't really know how to cope with that, I had plenty of wool, but not much warm weather stuff. Oh well.

I lined up pretty far up in the main start area, hell bent on trying to spin the 34:17 gear fast and get in front of people before the singletrack. I didn't need a repeat of last year.
Start rolls out and I spun my butt off, but it wasn't enough. I slip into the singletrack about mid-pack and promptly stop. Literally, unclip and stand there waiting for the line of people to ride the first singletrack climb. And repeat it on the second and third climb. Frustrating to say the least.
Even despite the waiting, the rest of the early singletrack is horrible when stuck mid pack. People are moving waaaaay too slow for my gear and I'm rapidly blowing up trying to turn it over at about 40 rpm. Finally after about 12 miles things loosen up to the point where I can ride at a comfy pace. I start passing people like nuts in the woods, but as soon as we hit any of the fire road sections they put it in the big ring and drop me. Head into the next singletrack, repeat.

That's pretty much how it worked the whole race. I popped pretty hard about mile 18, but pulled 'er through to finsh pretty much right in mid pack. Right about where I went into the first singletrack. sigh. I'm starting to think Cable isn't as singlespeed friendly as I keep telling myself. Maybe back on the tandem next year.

Additionally this weekend, both my cars broke. Yup, I spent most of last week riding my bike everywhere and I think my vehicles got jealous. The clutch release cylinder went out on the Miata (meaning you can't DISENGAGE the clutch!). The Jetta had a more interesting failure. I was pulling it in the garage and went to raise the windows. The passenger side window stopped about 3/4 of the way up and then went back down. I raised it again and it responded by going about half way up, then suddenly dropping freely down into the door! I didn't have time to look, so I pulled it in the garage and left it.

Sunday I rebuilt the release cylinder on the Miata. Fortunately (probably unfortunately) the exact same thing had happened on the Jetta last year, so I knew how to attack it. $7 in parts and 2 hours of labor later it was back in action.

Took the door apart on the Jetta to find the window regulator in pieces. Pretty much unsalvageable, so I went and ordered a new regulator. Picked up the new regulator last night, went to install it and it didn't fit. Went back, had them actually order the right regulator. Hopefully I'll get it in this weekend if it shows up before then.

In other news, I'm being inundated with requests and orders for 953 frames. I can only come to one logical conclusion about that, my prices are too low, so they're going up (God bless Capitalist Free Market Forces). A base 953 frame is going to be $2500. I'm really not just gouging people here. I simply can't keep up with huge demand, so I'm hoping this will help keep my lead time less than 2 years and to be completely honest, my time is becoming increasingly valuable to me. I feel that if I'm going to spend it building bikes it needs to be more worth my while.


Friday, May 11, 2007

week in review

It's been a pretty good week, I actually rode my bike more days than I didn't ride and given my schedule as of late, that's a big accomplishment.
Monday night I did my errand running via bike, I have three forks to ship out and a couple other packages. Somehow I managed to get all three fork boxes halfway in my Bailey bag which was enough to do the job. Rode 'em down to the fed ex depot and dropped everything off. It happened to be a pretty warm and humid evening and it looked like the rain was going to hold off for a while so I extended my ride. Went into South St. Paul a little bit, hitting the Ohio St. climb on my fixie and then riding up through the big park in Cherokee Heights. Exactly as I was turning around to head home I feel a few sprinkles of rain. No problem, it was really hot and humid and the drops were actually feeling pretty good, that is until I got down to Shepard road by which time is was pretty much raining full-on. I had a rain coat with me, but I was already soaked and it seemed like it would just make things less comfortable. Made it soak, completely soaked through, but it was still warm and I felt pretty good.

I did a couple of off-road rides in Battle Creek this week too. First one I rode my usual racing bike set-up with the Crow's for tires. It felt good and light after riding a heavier bike with heavier wheels out west the previous week. The crows really are silly light and I think you really get used to how they handle (which is a little on the sketchy side) and learn to deal with it.

I bought a set of Kenda Small Block 8 29'er tires before heading to Fruita, figuring I'd want a spare set of tires out there. Well, I didn't end up needing them out west, so I figured I'd give them a go at Battle Creek. They're a pretty light all around 29'er tire, the two I have weight in at about 625g each (Kenda claims 575). In contrast, my Crow's come in around 530g.
I put the SMB 8's on my King/bontrager wheelset which are slightly heavier than my full Stan's tubless wheelset, but I didn't want to hassle with the stan's tubless goo which would have been required to use the lighter wheels with these tires.

First off I noticed the heavier weight right away. The SMB 8's definetly don't accelerate as fast as the crowns, but nothing really does. They felt about the same as my Little Alberts for acceleration. Once I got in the woods though it was hard to deny that they roll really well and feel nice. The rounded shape made cornering great and I felt a lot more surefooted in the technical areas where the Crow's get sketchy.

The biggest difference was in decending some of the rockier sections. I didn't feel like my bike was bouncing all over the rocks and that the tires were liable to be cheese-gratered over any sharp rocks (which is pretty much how the crows make you feel). It was nice.

All in all, I say if you've tried the Crows and felt they were a little too sketchy on tread for you, you should really check out these tires. I think you'll dig 'em. I'll probably try to run them tubeless and see how that feels. But for now I'll probably run the crow's out at Buck hill as they're still tough to beat for big steep climbs on a singlspeed.

I am considering trying these at the Cable Classic though, they roll fast and it tends to be wet, slippery and flat in Cable, might be less than ideal for the Crows.

Last night was the big Derailleur show at Memory Lanes in Minneapolis. It was a fund raiser for the Minnesota AIDS Ride, and I'd say they had a pretty good turnout. We had a great time and I felt like we played an excellent show. The sound was a little funky being that it's a bowling alley and we're set-up right in the middle of the lanes, but most folks said it sounded pretty good. Got to debut my "new" drums for the first time outside of my basement and they really do put out some killer sound. I don't know exactly what it is, but there is definitely some magic in these old Gretsch babies!

in shop talk, I've just been catching up on small jobs that have been waiting. Build three new forks and did a couple repairs. I've got a few repaints next then back into new frame orders, the fun stuff!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

back in town, shippin stuff out.

Another successful Fruita Fat Tire Festival. I don't have a whole lot of pics, simply because I didn't take many. One of those things, when you've been to a place a few times already I just never seem to take pictures. But here's how things pretty much looked all week. Hippie van with the awning out, usually 3 tired people sitting under it and lots o bikes on the top and back of the van.

This was sunset at 18 Road early in the week before the crowds appeared.

There were scattered storms around that whole day. As the evening came on, it got sunny at the parking lot, but was raining pretty hard about 1 mile east of us, creating this great rainbow.

This pic pretty much characterizes the weather the first 3 days, scattered heavy rain, but not a washout. Then the skies cleared we had sunshine the rest of the week.

Lots of riding, usually 2 big rides per day followed by lots of eating and drinking. We hooked up with one of the mechanics (Fish) at The Edge Bike shop for a ride one day and quickly made a few new good friends. Andy from the Hot Tomato joined us and led us on an epic day of riding out at Rabbit Valley. Ended up camping at Fish's place the next three nights and partying at Andy and Jen's place each night. All around great folks, can't wait to see them again next year.

I'll write up more of a report later when I have more time and get some of the pics from the others that were out there.

Back in St. Paul things have been hoppin. I made the sprint for the finish line this week, building wheels and assembling the tandem just in time for it to arrive on the new owner's 50th Birthday. It all came together in a spectacular finished package: (click for big)

This was really a "spared no expense" bike. Campy Record Drive train, Davinci cranks, Phill BB's, King Wheels, you get the idea. Hopefully these pictures help clarify some of the questions I got after the last round of pictures about what the third BB shell was for. It's the key to the Davinci Drive, which allows each rider to coast independently. It's a pretty neat idea, but a lot of work to make, especially when you're building a fully lugged tandem. I'm thrilled with how it all came out and I hope the new owner is equally thrilled!

This one was without a doubt the most complicated frame I have ever constructed simply because of all the lugwork that had to be made for the Davinci drive. But it's truly one of a kind and I think that's what the owner was shooting for.