Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday pieday

Did you notice that Redline dropped a cropped photo of the 29er Monocog on their social media feed? That's right, the steel singlespeed is back.

Yeah, it has been humid here. Dew points in the 70's can mean wet windows or soaked motorcycle rides to work. At least even the humidity can be art.

The kids are back to school including E starting at Ohio University. He wouldn't stop for a photo though.

A couple weeks back the neighbors dog literally ran in to the side of my truck. It is not uncommon for them to run down to the road and sprint alongside me, especially if I am on two wheels. This time however, it leaped right into the middle of my back door from the raised roadside, continuing down the side, leaving a dent in my bed and ripping the mud guard off. Then, just turned around and ran home. All this while I am driving about 20 mph. Honestly, going even 25 makes me feel like a rally car driver. And then somebody nailed our mailbox, again a couple nights later. Jokes on them, our mailbox is already a turn from the last 7 times it has been hit, dragged, thrown in to the ditch or otherwise vandalized. Sadly, they also hit our new neighbors new mailbox too.

Last weekend, after missing out on a ride, I decided to do a long run. I would not consider myself a runner, but just that I run. Been trying to get out a couple times a week, sometimes more, some less. Sometimes a run is 2 miles, or maybe 5. But, I have never actually run a 10k. I am not particularly fast, but set myself a reasonable goal of 10k in 1 hour. Managed in in 58 minutes with around 400 feet of elevation gain. I was tired but pleased. Shelly says "well, you were gone a long time". Thanks for the encouragement babe. Personal podiums. Oh, and ran across a green tree snake on the cool down.

Phones and cars are making us dumb. We don't have to remember anything or learn anything. Cars gets "smarter" so that we don't have to do those awful, mundane things like turn on our lights. PSA, when there is 1/4 mile visibility and early morning, you may just need to turn your headlights on. Honestly, like a fourth of the cars I passed this morning didn't. And tonight, that same 1/4 of drivers will probably be going down the road with their brights on.

I am ready to go back to the mountains.

Get outside.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Fast when it doesn't matter

Drew Carey: Welcome to "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter. That's right, the points don't matter, just like if *Nsync and The Backstreet Boys traded guys.

A couple weeks ago E and I headed down to Rio Grande, OH to ride in the inaugural Flying Chicken MTB TT that takes place on parts of the old Farmhand Classic XC course. The derecho of 2012 left the course littered with trees and subsequently cancelled the event for the year. Then Bob Evan's farm was sold, trails were in limbo, and the race disappeared from the calendar. Fast forward to now and the mayor of Rio is an avid dirtbag mountin biker. The trails are now part of the town or college, I can't remember right off, and Matt and the gang are trying to get folks riding them again. The race was about a 6 mile loop and was self timed (via Strava). Entry money was to benefit the local veterans association.

Rio Grande is only a half hour from our house. Our plan was to head down around 9 am. I don't set alarms on the weekend and am usually up by 7:30ish anyway. But this was just a few days after getting back from vacation where our flight was delayed due to a hail storm and we got home at 6am followed by a couple hours of sleep and then off to work I go. So when I woke on that Saturday morning at 9 am, it was a rush to get some food and coffee, the bikes loaded up, and out the door. Then we ran in to a road closure and had to find a detour. We basically got out of the car, paid fees, signed waivers, put on shoes/helmets and hit the course. Warm up? Nope. Just pin it.

Time trials are fun. The biggest hurdle for me racing MTB has always been traffic. Time trials limit that so I can go my pace. They started us 2 minutes apart. By the end I had passed 6 riders. I rode my carbon fiber XC race bike. (That thing is so fast, see Review: Redline d660). I ended up with the fastest time of the day, "winning" the event. Ethan surprised me and ended up 3rd for the day. No podiums, no payouts, no bragging. Just ride really hard. My kind of race, the kind where the points don't matter.

A side note:
Bombtrack dropped photos of their newest adventure bike, the Hook ADV. Looks remarkably similar to my Redline D440. Guess I am ahead of my time, a trendsetter if you will. Feel free to send royalties my way 😁.

What's spinning:
Death Cab For Cutie dropped a new album. Did you know that Ben Gibbard is an ultra marathon runner?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Full Stache

I recently had the opportunity to rent and ride the new full suspension, 29+ Trek Full Stache while on a family vacation to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The 29+ platform really interests me, though I personally think the sweet spot may be in the 2.6-2.8" range rather than full 3". Even more, I was interested in riding a full suspension one. I have been on hardtails for as long as I have been on dirt and the last full sus bike I rode 20 years ago left me jaded about them as I bounced and squished all over. I realize that the technology has grown exponentially since that one ride but honestly, considering I have been on a full rigid SS 29er for the last 8'ish years I really didn't see them as necessary.  That is, unless I am in WV and they seem like a great idea riding through Blackwater Falls or over Moon Rocks.

So, based on all my lack of experience and expertise on full suspension trail bikes I offer you my review of a full suspension trail bike.

I found the Full Stache surprisingly agile.  Not to say that it handles like my carbon fiber XC hardtail, but it certainly felt smaller and lighter than it is (it is not light at over 34 pounds as ridden, 10 pounds heavier than my race bike). The extra stability was welcomed over the rocky terrain of the mountains and the suspension seems excellent set right out of the box based on my weight. I had a difficult time on a couple of tight switchbacks getting it to make the turn but the rest of the ride was a joy as I looked for things to ride over. Slow speed handling was excellent considering the thing is a monster truck. Only weirdness handling wise is that when you get up to speed the gyro effect of the massive tires can really be felt.

The build kit worked very well. Last set of SRAM hydraulic brakes I used left a lot to be desired. These new units (SRAM Guide R) worked just fine, at least for the 25 miles that I rode them. Now, I will say that the rear cassette looks almost comically huge. The SRAM Eagle GX 12 speed goes all the way to 50T! Funny how I recall that when we first started to ride 29ers we were warned that a 36T was too big and created so much torque that we would rip the rear hubs apart. I found the shifting to be effortless. Really, I was surprised how well it shifted (easier than my Shimano SLX 2x10). A flip of the lever on the rear shock locked it out and made climbing less squishy.

So, do I want one. Heck yeh. It could never replace my single speed, nor would it make a great race bike except for maybe Plantation Trail in Blackwater Falls, but for fun, ride anywhere and over anything, I'd take it any day.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Squishy geometry

I have mentioned that after riding my rigid singlespeed in the Blackwater Falls/Davis area of WV a few years ago I developed a ganglion cyst on my left wrist. After converting my monocog back to MTB duty this year I immediately irritated my wrist. While the cyst doesn't hurt in and of itself, it does cause stiffness and soreness due to the swelling. With that, I decided it was time to get a real suspension. I have an older White Bros Magic 29 (80 mm) fork, but have had some issues with it. A rebuild was going to be at least $125 if I shipped it in. I also wanted something with a bit more travel and the travel kits for this fork are no longer available.

The Redline Monocog Flight 29er has suspension corrected geometry for an 80 mm fork. The rigid fork has 47 mm offset and the frame has a 71 degree head tube angle. By installing a 100 mm fork with 51 mm offset it decreases the head angle to about 70 degrees with very little change in trail. The biggest problem? Finding a suspension fork for a non tapered head tube.

I searched for a used fork. Most were very used and required a rebuild. I searched for new but most of the straight 1-1/8" steerer forks were either low end or in the case of the MRP, really expensive. The only thing I could find that fit the budget and the level of spec I was looking for was the X-Fusion Slide RL2 29" fork. I picked one up for under $300 (significantly less than the $429 MSRP).

Installation was simple. I did peel about 3/4 of the stickers off of it though. Really, the thing was covered in stickers. I have one test ride on it thus far and can say that it was a lot easier on my wrist and arms. The decreased head angle will also (hopefully) add a little stability in more technical stuff like WV.

My back road bombing bike (Redline d440) also has a rigid fork, with a BMX style legs it is even stiffer that the Flight. So I rebuilt the White Bros fork myself. The seals and bushings seemed to be in great shape, just did a full service on both the air spring and damper leg. Then I moved the fork to my drop bar 29er.

It adds a little weight, but hey, the bike was no lightweight to begin with. Now it is ready to crush the rutted and washboarded back roads. The fork offset does decrease slightly which should add trail and make handling a tiny bit slower? But I doubt I can even tell. A little more stability on rutted up gravel descents would be welcomed.

Monday, July 16, 2018


I have a Buell. Really enjoy this motorcycle. Except - they are dead. HD put the nail in them in 2010. This past week I lost my second exhaust valve servo. The stock muffler has a valve that changes the runner length depending on RPM and throttle position. This drive servo sits on top of the air box but still gets warm. The gear inside is plastic and loaded by a spring. Over time this plastic deforms until it doesn't catch the drive and boom, engine light. This is a common problem. Some folks have just removed it and disabled the light through the ECM. I actually like it. I have the interactive exhaust control activated in the ECM. It adds some torque in the 2000 rpm range.

Problem: the part is now obsolete. Solution: modify an intake runner servo for a Ford. The Dorman 911-912 servo control is the same part without the correct cable pulley and mount. The mount is easy, a piece of angle cut to size with a couple holes and a slot. The pulley is a little harder. You start by grinding the weld off the existing lever. I then took it o the mill and cut the shaft to size, including the notch to match to the old pulley that I removed from the old servo. We have a laser welder at work and a few pulses of that to hold it all in place. I got it put on the motorcycle and cycled the servo. Crap, the servo was shipped in the open position, not the closed (home) position. I attached the pulley in the wrong place.

The shaft is a pain to machine. You have to hold the unit in the mill by the plastic housing. The shaft has some free play. I ground away the laser welds and re-cut the notch.  Not there wasn't a good enough fit for the laser (it really likes a nice tight fit). So I TIG tacked it back on. This is also a pain since the shaft gets hot and goes through a plastic housing. I finished it off with some epoxy to fill in the gaps.

All this too say that it sucks that HD closed Buell. It is a pain that parts are obsolete. However, with some elbow grease and patience, we can keep these things on the road for a long time.

For reference, in the closed position the pulley flat nearest the cable hole will be parallel to the housing nearest the wire connector.
Need more details? Hit me up.

Dry Lightning

I made it out last night for an unpaved ride on my d440. Just a short one, ended up around 16 miles and 1400 ft of climbing. I was within 2 miles of home when I caught a flash. It kind of startled me, wasn't sure what it was. The sky was a mix of clouds and blue with the sun in and out. Within about a half second came the boom. Lightning! Uncomfortably close. No rain. No other indication I was about to ride in to a storm. With my heart rate up, I pedaled hard for the house. A half mile later came a second bolt. Still no rain, just a small grey cloud over. Pedaled harder. Made it home with a few more claps of thunder. A check of the radar showed a very tiny cell that just popped up right over me. It did end up raining for a few minutes and then it was gone.

Scored from the record sale at the Jackie O's brewery.

Went to see Jake Dunn and the Blackbirds on Friday at the river front amphitheater in Pomeroy Ohio. This is hanging on the retaining wall along the boat docking area. I am not an electrician, but it does seem a little suspect to me.
Cool cloud formations.
This kid. He watched the Smurf's cartoon for the first time. A half hour later he built a Smurf head out of Legos.
Cotton candy clouds.

Hope you can get outside, spin some tunes, go see a band, do something creative. Just watch out for the lightning (or just bad wiring).

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


June, the end of Q2 business wise. You aren't planning to take any time off in June were you? I guess not. It's OK I suppose. I am not anywhere ready to race the Hilly Billy come Saturday. The race distance is longer than the last month worth of riding.

I took out my rigid SS this week. I still love riding this bike, but it was hot and humid. I was sweating so much I could barely hold on to my grips. That and by the time I got done the ole Bible bump was back (see Ganglion Cyst). This developed a few years ago after riding in Davis WV for a few days. Now it is easy to irritate, kind of like me lately, easy to irritate.

Punches. Watch the news and want to punch someone in the face. Almost get rear-ended on East State St while waiting to turn in to my office, with my signal on, with lots of space and time between me and the approaching offender, who started flashing his headlights before standing the car on its nose to keep from hitting me, and whom almost got rear ended himself but the truck behind ran off the road. Yeh, makes me want to punch negligent drivers too.

Try to get ahead at work only to be delayed by something I have no control over  while trying to hit that Q2 deadline mentioned before and I feel like I am punched in the gut. Then there is the drama surrounding our school levy (failed) and the cuts that have to be made. Oh, and it turns out meth is back on the rise, A New Wave Of Meth Overloads Communities Struggling With Opioids, just up the road in Vinton Co. And Athens was listed as the 8th poorest town in the US.

But at least the Punch Brothers have a new album dropping. That's the kind of Punch I can dig.