Monday, December 31, 2012

last day of the year commute

So, I managed to ride to work today on the Voodoo for what was virtually the only ride I've done in the month of December aside from the S24O I did on the 1st with my friend Joe. I did get out last night for an urban assault on Essex Junction to try out the new winter boots. I have to say that I am glad that I finally got them. It is nice to know that you can walk through a section of snow without your booties pulling up and letting snow all over your shoes that will melt and get you feet wet. Not to mention that they are very comfortable.

In other news, I just ordered and Surly Necromancer frame that I will build up in short order (hopefully) so that I can finally get in some fatbiking. I am looking forward to it. I have a couple of friends that have been at it a couple years and I have just been dreaming about it. +Mike Beganyi is my local authority on the subject and I look forward to finally sharing in the bounty.

Stay tuned for writeups on that build. I will be starting with a wheel build as soon as I gather the rest of the parts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December (nearly winter) S24O

There was a lot of anticipation leading up to this trip. It wasn't terribly certain that it was going to happen until a couple days before and then the day of seemed to have some events that compromised the departure. In the end my friend Joe and I left his house at about 3pm for the ~30 mile trip to Little River State Park for an overnight at a leanto.

out for another bout

Joe had recently purchased and put together a Taut Terrain Amber Road. It is one fine rig I might add. Dyno light, Alfine IGH, belt drive, integrated rear rack, kickstand! That's right, I am finally old enough that a kickstand is cool again.

the rigs
We rode into the evening on some really nice dirt that I have never been on. That helped make the trip more mystic. The route was off the beaten path but for some reason, the night we were out there, the traffic was pretty dense. We ended up riding out into a valley with some nice expansive views. It was actually bouncing around between cold/windy to warm/breezy. It was on Nashville Rd. in Jericho/Bolton that I was thinking how nice it would be to be on a fatbike. Later on the ride I thought the same thing again when we got to the park. After an incredible and sometimes sketchy downhill on Stage Rd. we ended up at Route 2 in Jonesville, a community of Richmond. We proceeded to follow Duxbury Rd. along the river into Waterbury. Blustery gusts of wind and long stretches of road bring you to realize that you are out there because you love it. Why else would you leave the comfort of your warm home and Netflix to spend a potentially dreadful night in the woods.

After a quick stop at the store for a warm up and a few supplies, including a flask of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum and apple cider, we continued on to Little River Rd. It eventually kicks up and takes you around the edge of the dam and into the park. We embarked on some unplowed roads, snagged a couple chunks of firewood and rode on to our camp. We setup before too long, changed out of our riding clothes and worked on warming up. I was pretty determined to have a fire this time after missing out on one last trip. With a bit of luck and help from Joe, we got something going and it was, if nothing else, spirit lifting to prepare for the cold night's sleep. Oh, and let's not forget the enjoyment of some spiked cider.

I wasn't properly prepared for what was to come so I had a rough night. I ended up leaving the interior of my tent and jumping up in the leanto with one last attempt to get some solid rest. I have learned quite a bit on this trip and will know better next time I attempt a winter S24O. And yes, there will be more! I still had a blast.

We finally saw morning light, got up and prepared some breakfast. Sitting there enjoying our meal, we got some morning sun coming up and life, at least for me, sprung back. We packed up camp and hit the road. It was decided that we would just hit Route 2 back into Richmond and then Cochran Rd. for a bit. The temps creeped up enough to stop and strip off some layers. We continued to ride in towards home and we split off from each other on River Rd. where Joe turned up to his house and I continue on to mine.

Very nice trip, all things considered. I look forward to doing more of these winter trips in the future and definitely a ton of them next Spring.

my body imprint - not all that insulated

packing up for the ride home

Joe's Taut Terrain

top of the Waterbury Dam

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recent happenings

There are a few events that have happened on the bike and I never got around to writing about them. One of them was an alley cat race called the Great Turkey Chase. I did it with my friend Joe, who turned me on to it. It was our third time in a row. It is a benefit for the VT Foodbank. The just of it is you race around Burlington from store to store following a map and buying items that they request. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 miles worth of riding all the while the bag on your back is getting heavier with the food you collect for the finish. There is time bonuses for bagging a turkey before the finish. We don't ride fast enough to be in contention for a win so you just do it for the sport of it.

This year we did quite well, getting in way better than half the field. We rode strong and ride pretty well paced to each other. The start is downtown at Maglianero cafe. From there you work your way downtown with a few stops before heading out to North Ave to the Hannaford and then back. This time the route went into Winooski which was very nicely laid out.

It is an exiting time and I will continue to do it each year. It's for a good cause as well. This year the weather was very nice. The most interesting thing that happened to me this year was leaving my bike in a bad spot while I went in a store to come out and find that it was backed over by a SUV. The bike was not hurt but the saddle took a good beating. It bent the seat rails which I worked back the best I could. Only thing that hurts from that is the $170 price tag if I care to replace it. I don't!

Another, and even more exciting, event I did was a fall (read: early winter) S24O similar to the one I did 13 months ago. I spent the night at a leanto but I got to sleep in my new Tarptent Moment. I will do a review on that in the near future. I have only camped in it twice so I would like to get a few more trips in it first. I also got to try out my bikepacking setup which includes my new bags from Scott Felter of the Porcelain Rocket. I have to say that these bags are fracking awesome and are premium quality. I knew that they would be great even before I got to use them. I will also do a write up on them soon as well.

On this trip I went solo. I had plans to get out with Mike but he feel sick a few days before the trip. It was not good weather but the foulness was a good personal test so I took the challenge. I set up an impromptu route that maximized dirt roads. This is the map:

I went through Westford, Essex, Jericho, Richmond, Waterbury. I worked my way up through Cottonbrook into Little River State Park just in time for dinner. After night fell I had a bit of rain that turned into a snow squal that lasted about 45 minutes. I was afraid that this was going to last all night but it actually tapered off before I hit camp. When I got there I tried to get a fire going and was successful at first but I couldn't find a way to keep it going with nothing but wet wood all around me. I decided to eat dinner and setup my tent. After I ate, I changed and hit the bag. It turns out that I got a lot of sleep. I did get up one time for the bathroom and I woke up a few times during the night either slightly uncomfortable or cold. I think the overnight low was around 28 degrees. I was using a 20 degree bag but I think that it has lost a bit of its insulating value to age.

When I woke in the morning, I was cold enough to want nothing more than to pack camp and hit the road. I did just that and came down the front of the park to route 2 and headed for Richmond. It was there I stopped at a cafe to warm up and get a bite to eat and some much needed coffee. After hanging out for a bit, I hit the road and finished the ride to my house. I made it back 23 hours after I left for the trip. The ride out was ~60 miles and the return trip was ~30 miles. Good time and I felt pretty good in the process. The bike was flawless.

Will I make it out again before the snow flies!?

Here is a photo dump from my S24O: (phone pics)

Lost Nation Rd.

old Vermont charm


new Vermont charm

nothing beats Vermont dirt

lunch break

VT art

the rig

there's snow up there

hey wait, i'm going up there

flat in Waterbury

Cottonbrook just at dark

morning after a cold night

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lazy on the posts, lots happening!

I'm am working through some thoughts and will be posting here soon. I have thoughts on a recent illness, the VT50, an overnight bikepacking trip and more. I have plans for the winter and into early spring. Please stand by while I sort it all out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sweet mother of the FAT Gods!

This is a very good thing. I like where fat is going. Now to get it off me and get it on the bike!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

SingleSpeed USA 2012

Quite a different experience for me than most:

Saturday morning I got up and gathered all of my things, loaded the truck and was ready to roll. I then realized that I was a bit early to make the journey to Stowe. I ate breakfast and hung out at home for a little while. I rolled out feeling like I was forgetting something even though I had been over it a dozen times insuring myself that I was all set. The trip over gave me plenty of time to think of things and I realized that I had a tube in case I lost a tubeless setup. I also had a patch kit in case I lost said tube. As far as inflation, I only had a big air cartridge which would probably only cover one, maybe two flats. I got nervous and when I got to Stowe I promptly looked for a bike shop. I found one that opened at 8am and found a pump that I bought to have on hand just in case. Of course, as it goes, I didn't need it and I didn't have any mechanicals.

After the pitstop to the bikeshop, I headed over to the Stowe Polo Fields. I was still early and there wasn't any sign of a bike event to be seen. I headed back over to town and pulled in to the parking lot by the theater. I saw signs of other single speeders so I pulled in to chat a bit. I found a couple guys that were over from NY and they were chatting about trying to find a place to park. I told them if they wanted to follow me, I would show them were the closest bike path parking lot was. We got there and suited up and rode the bike path down and over to the polo fields. At this point there was a collection of bikes starting to accumulate.  

ready for the start
 After some mingling and such (I knew quite a bit of people there) we got some quick instruction from George of Bike29 and then we were off. It seemed to have come out of nowhere so most everyone wasn't sure that is was go time. We rolled out of the Polo Fields and up a long paved climb that came right at the beginning and all to soon. At the top of the climb we turned into the woods for some nice, fast single track. I will share something. I am no single speeder. It is super fun and I like working with the one gear but you have to have the skills to make it work. Hind sight would say that I should've ran 32/22 not 32/20.

I did this race because it came to Vermont. That was pretty much the single reason. I guess it was also a good excuse to ride trails in Stowe, which I had never done.

man, this shit's hard
 I was at the back of the pack (roughly 200 riders) straight out of the gate. I stayed there. I only got back into the mix throughout the race because people would hang out at the aid stations. There was water BUT there was mostly junk food, beer, and liquor. Single speeders are off road hipsters and they like to do things their way and quite different that the norm.

 Below is a picture of a stop that I made after the half way aid station where people were chugging 40oz beers and shots of whiskey and tequila. I stayed away from the festivities for two reasons. The first and one at hand was to maintain a level of survival in the race. The second is because I stopped drinking alcohol during my year long training session for Tour Divide. I digress. While I took a moment to clean some shit out of my shoe, someone that I later learned named Seth rolled back towards me and was thinking he was going the wrong. Mind you this guy was just at the mid station doing a 40. I got him steered in the right direction and I watched him trip all over the place falling and crashing. I was worried for him but they were always slow speed crashes and quite funny.

It wasn't long that Seth left me behind. Even drunk, he seemed to make light work of the trails ahead. I never saw him again. Matter of fact the only people I kept seeing were some riders from and the sweep that was on a full suspension geared bike. He helped two people that were riding in the vicinity of me get off the trail and back to town early. They didn't want to continue. Not much later he said to me that the section coming up is pretty technical and if I want to get out, now is a good time. I firmly told him that I wasn't stopping, he accepted and we made good of what we had.

this was a pretty nice section of the course

Before too long after one of the hardest climbs I've ever done, he turned to me and said that is it for the climbing. It was a rough gravel and stone section that climbed up somewhere onto the Trapps property and went on and on for what seemed like forever. The last section of the course was about 2 miles of downhill singletrack. I quickly dubbed that as "REWARD". It was so fast and flowy that I actually had to stop twice to shake the hands out from the pressure they were taken on from gravity. Me behind them and my rigid fork in front of them put alot of emphasis on my wrist. Nothing bad but noticeable. I believe the name of this trail is Kimmers which let out across a nice wooden bridge at a trailhead. That was the finish. I had done it and it was over! There were still about 30 people hanging around drinking and such when I pulled in seven hours after I had started. I was greeted like royalty. Last place! DFL! I stuck to it and got it done.

a note from my daughter
Things that I took away from this event:

  • I am not (currently) a single speeder - it is super fun but you have to be quite fit to pull it off
  • I was last in a very large field but I beat everyone that pulled out and technically all those who didn't even do it. (for whatever that is worth)
  • a single speed bike is fun, quiet, and simple
  • know your terrain and choose a gear that is suitable for it and your abilities
  • don't worry about anyone else out there. 
  • very easy to drain the tank when putting in a hard effort
  • little to know rest or recovery while riding
  • have comfortable shoes that allow hiking/walking (it happens)
  • SS hipsters, although weird and different, are cool people and mostly judgment free
Would I do it again? Most likely not, but I would have a good time riding trails on a ss otherwise and plan on having a dedicated ss bike in the future. I think that more than anything, this race reinforced the mentality of if you are going to start something make sure you finish it. That, for me, is the greatest achievement of all.

here are a couple of other perspectives of the event.

Friday, July 27, 2012

the eve of SSUSA

I have done nothing to train for this and I have never ridden the trails in Stowe. It is going to be a surprise at every corner. I will push and hike and probably puke but I have every intentions on finishing. I plan on giving it all I have and riding at "my" race pace. I have thoughts dancing in my head on giving a run for the prestigious title of DFL. I earned it once in an alley cat race. This one, I don't know. It is hard to imagine that I could possibly be the slowest in say 200 +/- riders. Who know. I do hope to finish.

Once this race is over, I will start gathering the things I need to set the Voodoo back up with some gears and get to training for Tour Divide. Until then, I might have a few more slower paced rides in the single speed flavor. Once it is setup for touring, I will be all about miles not trails. Commuting will pick up to a higher level than it has been. I will also plan out some nice bikepacking trips. That's what excites me the most.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

time flies!

It has been a while since I have posted anything. I have been real busy with work but now things are a bit more settled in.

Since my last post, I did another 200k and was successful at completing it. I decided that I need to focus on some trail riding since I have SSUSA coming up in two weeks. A couple weeks ago, on a super wet day, I decided to race Catamount for the first time this season. It would be only the third time since I broke my collarbone. I was going good until about half way through my first lap I got out on the rocky fire road connector and HISS HISS HISS HISS. I punctured the tire set up tubeless. I walked out of the woods and started thinking about how I under sealed the tire when I set it up. I tucked my tail between my legs and took it hope to fix it up. (mind you the same thing would have happened if I had a tube in the tire).
 I vulcanized a patch to the inside of the tire, remounted it to the rim, added more (the proper amount) of sealant and pumped it up. It held and continues to do so weeks later. Seems to be the fix. The next Wednesday was July 4th so I was out of town camping with the family. No race. This past week I went back to Catamount for another go at a race. I am only doing two laps to work myself back into the demands of racing. Three laps is a bit out of expectation right now.

I have to say that I had an absolute blast on the course. I also have to say that the Voodoo is setup full rigid, single speed. I am not a single speeder but I love the way it acts out in the woods. It is such a basic sensation riding a bike that has nothing fancy going on with it.

There were just three of us in my age group and I finished last at it. BUT I am pleased to say that I was only 1.5 minutes back and they were on full squishy bikes with gears. I'm happy with that.

My rear brake has been acting up since I replaced my pads. Way too tight. No clearance between pads and rotor. Complete rubbing and squealing. Riding with the brake on. It was time to deal with it. I removed the pads and took the caliper off the bike. I pumped the lever to bring the pistons out and found that one of them was not moving. I gave it a heavy douse of brake clean and kept working it until it let go. Some how there is too much fluid (or it expanded) in the lines keeping the pistons from going in far enough. I cracked open the banjo joint and let a small amount of fluid to escape and put it all back together. Money!

I still need to shorten the lines so I will bleed the brakes when I do that. Moving on I will continue to ride the Voodoo as a single speed until after SSUSA. It will then go back to 1x9 and get setup for my Tour Divide training. I have many thoughts on this and will make another post on the subject.

Oh yeah, and I have this to play with now too!

Monday, May 14, 2012

200k - FAIL!

Saturday was my first long ride of the season. 131 miles! I had (have) no base to speak of and it was a long shot but I felt pretty good. I had done a 30 mile ride the week before. Not prepared by any stretch of the imagination but I am pretty good at pushing through and finishing. Well, this was not the case. ~20 miles to go and I had nothing left in the tank. Nothing!

I had a monkey on my back for most of the ride. With 90 miles behind me, I got to Middlebury for a much needed rest. I took about 45 minutes off from the ride and tried to recover. I think now that I fell short mostly because I wasn't quite fueled right during the ride. I was able to get another 20 miles or so before I hit Vergennes and call for an air strike. My wife already knew I was in trouble and had headed out to find me. That was about all it took to realize that it was time to call it.

I got picked up with my tail between my legs yet surprisingly proud of my accomplishment giving my recent health concerns. I definitely realized what I have to do to get where I want to be. June 9th is the date for the 300k. There is a 200k option which I will probably go for. I still have a positive outlook to start and complete the 400k on June 30th. Time to get to work.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

FrankenBianchi shakedown, longish ride, first in a while

Today, my wife and I joined a large group and did a covered bridge ride with the Green Mountain Bicycle Club. It was an awesome day to ride and we took advantage of it. We got in 30 miles of very punchy terrain. It was nice to be riding and putting the new set up of the San Jose to the test.

Let's start with the build. The woodchipper bars are absolutely lovely. I like the flare on them. It allows for a more natural and comfortable position of the wrists when you are in the drops. They are the narrow ones and they work perfect for a road bike. The fork is nice. It had the good feel I like of a steel fork and the rake and trail make for a very stable ride. I feel (or at least want to) an improvement over the old fork. The disc up front is a very nice added feature. It seems a bit underpowered when I first took it for a small spin. After my ride today, I feel that it has worked it self in real nice. I would prefer hydros over mechanical but that is a different time with a different bike. The dynamo hub is yet to be tested. I don't have a light yet. I am sure that it will be just fine. The only other thing that I did on the bike is put a new canti on the rear. I went with Avid Shorty Ultimate. It is a sweet brake that sets up real nice. I love the engineering that went into it. It is powerful and smooth.

Other than that, the bike is still the same bike (aside the fact that I put a King headset on it) and it is a blast to ride. I think that this bike has the potential of being so many things. I has been a platform for thoughts and I had a really nice bike in mind in the future.

I felt pretty good today on the bike. My fitness level has dropped quite a bit. I have this week coming to ride a bit before my 200k this coming weekend. Should be interesting. I look forward to the butt window. I have a bigger picture here and I need to step it up!

For the meantime, I have to focus on something real important to me:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

more progress with the San Jose

I got the rim tape on and got the rubber on the rims. I got the Afine back together (shift components) and set up the chain. I decided to leave it at 38/20 which is where it was the last time I rode it. Technically it was this past winter but I didn't really put much time in on it. I had some trouble with the studded tires hooking up so I got a little gun shy for a bit. The drivetrain is all good to go. I mounted up the front disc and caliper. The Formula adapter is pretty sweet but it seems to push the rotor outboard quite a bit. Look how much clearance (or lack) there is between the rotor and fork.

This might have to change. I am not sure if there will be any flex in the front end that will cause the rotor to hit the fork. I will find out when I ride it. If it becomes an issue I have two ways to solve it. The first may be the easiest and that is to order and centerlock rotor. I was trying to avoid that because the brakes already came with a rotor that I can use. The second option is to dimple the fork leg on the inside where the rotor is close so that there is more clearance. Since I plan on doing some drilling and brazing to the fork, I could do this method and then repaint the fork. We'll see!

I like the look. I do wish they were hydro! hmmm, next build
 I have the cockpit all set up. I talked in the last post about being able to adjust it a little by flipping the stem. Well I got on the bike to check out the position and was not satisfied with it. I went ahead and flipped the stem and now it seems to be right on.

Salsa woodchipper bars courtesy of Mike B.
 So, it seems that I am down to the tedious tasks of finishing everything up. I need to run cables for the brakes and IGH, wrap the bars (which I always cringe at doing) and mount up the rear brakes. I ended up going with the AVID shorty ultimate cantis. You can set them up in either wide or narrow depending on your needs. They seem to be made well and hopefully they perform well too.

Hopefully I can get a bit closer to being done with it all tonight. I'm eager to get it rolling and I need some saddle time before 5/12.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

my 100th post, FrakenBianchi

I just realized that this is going to be my 100th entry on this blog. Honestly I should have way more posts than that but nonetheless, it is a milestone. So, what to talk about? Well, why not the latest on what's up. I have the Bianchi coming together very nicely. I put a King headset in place of the original. I felt that when replacing the fork it was a good time for the upgrade.

look at all those colors
I brought the bars up with a spacer for a neutral position. I will be able to tweak it a little by flipping the stem over if I want to bring it up a little more. Maybe for the 400k!

I got a Soma fork that is used on the Double Cross. It has a very similar rake and A-C measurement as the fork that was on my San Jose. I have plans to drill the legs on this fork to add bosses for Anything Cages. I had Scott of the Porcelain Rocket make me some bags that are designed for the cages. This is one of them:
I think these bags will add a nice feature to the rando rig for long rides. There are a lot of creative solutions for getting gear on the bike and I think this is a great one.

I want to keep the fork clean and tidy. I will drill a hole just above the dyno connector and run the wires inside of the fork leg and then bring it back out up high to the light. It will look cleaner and keep it out of harm's way.

These mods will take place at a later time. Right now I want to focus on finishing up the build and getting some miles on it to shake it out. I have just less than two weeks until the 200k and I want to do it. I'm not sure how much suffering will take place but with my recent set backs, I look forward to it.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Gravel Grinder that got away

After two weeks of ridiculous pain behind my right knee, I finally went to the doctor two days before the GG. They found a blood clot. MEH!

I am under treatment for it now and after just a few days it is feeling tremendously better. With a little patience and tender care, I will be back in the saddle again! It seems that I keep finding set backs. Or more so, they are finding me. I have about three months to the day to get my sloth like existence into a state of being that will allow me to survive a ride (not a race in my case) of about 30 miles of single track on a single speed bike.

Back to the Grinder:

 It was a gloomy day. Cold, stiff wind and no sun to speak of. That didn't stop some 150 people from participating in the 5th running of this event. I have to say that this particular type of riding is my favorite. Suffering on some climbs, bombing some downhills, and dirt. I love it. Not this time but I have and I will again.
 There was an aid station at about half way and it was set up in typical "George" style! Everyone was having a great time. The weather doesn't ever seem to put a damper on this event. I have done it will mud and even snow and it is still awesome.
 That, my friend, is the spread. Bananas, pretzels, twizzlers, meat sticks, cheese, and BACON. Even chocolate drizzled bacon. I resisted any of the aid station delights and reserved them for the riders BUT....
  I did partake in some necessary refreshment. After we felt everyone had come through the half way point, we packed up and headed to the finish where we got the after ride delights set up. Freida's of Stowe hosts the after ride food with some delicious chicken tacos with homemade tortillas. Excellent! There was even a keg of Vermont's own Long Trail on tap.

Moving on! Next up is SSUSA. I don't know if the SS frame I'm building will be done in time so I think that I am going to set up my Voodoo with the King/Stan's wheelset if it comes down to it. As much as I think I will never be ready for it, I can't wait to do it.

More to follow!