13 April 2014

Ups & Downs

Pain
Our gentle old man is gone. We had to say goodbye to Zeke on Tuesday night, after his condition worsened pretty quickly. He was diagnosed w/a cancerous tumor in his jaw about 3 months ago, and had it removed. It took about a week after his surgery to return to his old self, then we noticed the bulge starting to re-appear again about 2 weeks ago, the cancer had come back & spread.


BFF
'We did the picture, now take this shit off my head!'
I heard you like scenery, so how about some scenery in your scenery.
The family back in 2007.
Mr Zeke - loved, adored & will be greatly missed!


Upgrades
Now for some more upbeat news, I got another toy.

150mm of plushness?
 After dealing w/ a 2010 Marzocchi Bomber TST44, I stepped up to something modern. The 32mm stanchions on the Zocchi weren't nearly enough to handle my 240# when the going got tough. I could feel the flex at times, and often feared the day when it would just snap on a big hit, catapulting me over the bars, as I did around 1978 on my old Schwinn.


We had set up a jump in the side yard of my folks' house, and would barrel down the hill from the neighbor's house to hit it. I rolled down at top speed on one of my runs & launched it. When the bike & I got airborne, I noticed that the front wheel didn't. Not having the sense of bike maintenance in my youth, I had overlooked checking that the wheel was locked in place. So, there I was, sailing through the air & watching the front wheel roll away in front of me - 'uh-oh', I thought. As you can imagine, when the fork impaled itself into the yard, the bike came to an instant halt. On the other hand, my forward momentum didn't. I remember landing on my chin & chest pretty good, but lucking out with no injuries, other than my friend Jeff standing there laughing at the carnage.

The Pike has 35mm stanchions, & a tapered headtube, both of which should make for a much stiffer front end. Another plus was, instead of only having a rebound adjustment, I now have compression as well. More adjustments is good, but as figuring them out....    Got it installed within an hour of receiving it & was jonesing to ride it, but had a lengthy ride planned for the following day, so would have to wait because April 5th was the Anti Epic Gravel Grinder ride in Monument.


A fork more fitting of the Honzoschmidt


Minor Pain
Steve, Hirsch & I loaded up late morning & rolled down to rendezvous w/Joe & all the others who were rolling out that day. Even though Steve lent me his Chinese carbon MTB, this was still a tough ride - just 50 miles w/3,600' of climbing. The terrain rolled up & down through the open fields heading east from Monument, then came back after reaching the town of Elbert.

Steve dropped back pretty quickly, and I continued rolling on, watching Joe & Hirsch slowly disappear in the distance. I stopped a few times, but never saw Steve, then ran into Hirsch at the 1/2-way point in Elbert. We starting heading out of town, when we saw Joe waiting for us, so decided it was time for a break. We then rolled most of the way back together, with me falling behind as I was slowly crumbling.

Finally, about 5 hrs 30 minutes later we rolled back in Pike's Peak brewing just in time for the raffles going on. This is when I found out that Steve had only made it out of the gate before having to turn around b/c of his non-pedaling legs....bummer! But, as he said, that was a good decision to make today, or else he'd be crumpled up somewhere out along a dirt road w/the keys to his sag vehicle tucked in his pocket. As for me, one & done. Did the ride, but have no interest in doing that again - lots of pedaling w/no real payoff. Other than the aspect of having good friends along for a ride (a huge motivation plus), I would have hated it...just a long sufferfest in my book.

The next morning, I hopped on the bike to do some errands & realized just how badly my taint was feeling from the previous day. Had to stand almost the entire 10 miles I did running errands. OK, no bikes for a few more days for my butt!


Recovery
After a very tough beginning to the week, I desperately needed to get out & do some fun riding, as well as test out the new fork. For an initial test, I wanted something somewhat smooth, but with some minor chunk, so headed to Golden to pedal up Chimney, then bomb my way back down. The week before I did the same ride about the same time & saw only about 5 people on the trail, but today was 75 degrees, so things would be much different. I saw a group of about 8 bikes heading up as I rolled into town, as well as a few hikers.

Started heading up & felt pretty good - pedaled through several sections where I usually am off pushing the bike. Ran into besoft just before Windy Saddle & learned that the bi group was the GBS/Niner lunch rides they were doing, so hopped in w/those guys. 

I started the ride w/the recommended settings (95+ psi, 4C/4R) and didn't get as much travel as expected, but since Chimney Gulch is pretty smooth, that may not have been the best test. I dropped the pressure 5 psi & went straight over to do a quick lap of Dakota Ridge (which has a rock or 2). The fork felt good, but still didn't have that 'butter' feel to it.


Next day: let's lower the pressure to 80psi & head to Deer Creek - I would be able to get some fast stuff, along with some good rocky sections there. It did feel pretty good, but not blowing me away yet. I did notice quite a difference from the 4-yr old Bomber - I wasn't even hammering & still beat all my previous times, so something was working right.



Yesterday: I again lowered the pressure & tried 75psi on one of my favorite descents - Longhorn. Coming down, I finally felt the fork was doing it as it should, it was pretty stinkin' sweet!

As you fall into a black hole, the gravity pulls with differing force depending on the end of you that is closer to its center. If you're falling feet 1st, the gravity pulls harder on your feet than it does on your head. The closer you get, the more drastic this effect becomes. So, the body part closest will travel faster than the rest of body, so you'll elongate & become thinner.


In the end, your body will fall victim to an effect called 'spaghettification' – your body eventually resembles a strand of sketti - because as you near the center, the effects of gravity increase. 

This is what came to mind as I was descending Longhorn - the Pike wanted to go faster & faster, and handled everything w/ease. However; the rider & the lack of suspension on the rear could not keep up to the front end, so I felt as if I was being stretched by the effects of gravity. That was a good feeling. 

I really noticed the increased stiffness of the tapered steerer & bigger legs on this ride. I had a few 'oh shit' moments where I thought I was about to lose it, but when I turned the bars to recover the front end responded very nicely & got back on track in an instant. After a few of those mishaps, I knew that I had slowed myself quite a bit cuz I almost came to a halt more than once. However, when I got home & looking at my times, it turns out that I had beaten those done on my old Sanction, a 160mm/150mm FS monstrosity!  It seems the Pikey was doing its job - my hands/wrists felt relaxed at the end of the downhill section.

But, 75psi for a 240# lardass?!

After reading through an MTBR thread about the Pike, I figured that I must have received one lacking the proper oil/lubrication.



 In between yardwork and other miscellaneous house duties, I dropped the lowers, re-filled oil and re-lubed the seals.  Now with 75psi, I was able to get full travel in the driveway. Pumped it back up to 95psi, and voila, a much 'buttery' feel than straight from the factory. Correct lubrication does wonders! If ya ain't getting the smoothness advertised, check your levels ASAP. 

Looks like I need to start back at square 1 again to get it set up, so time to schralp those trails again.  Can't complain about that!



28 March 2014

On this Day.........

...in 1979, I was in 8th grade at Lemoyne Middle School when the shit hit the fan.


About 1.5 miles, as the crow flies from the house I grew up in, on the Susquehanna River, is a little place called Three Mile Island. Early that morning, a stuck valve caused a problem, which resulted in the country's worst nuclear accident up to that time.

What was really freaky, was that only 2 weeks before this, a movie came out dealing with nuclear meltdowns - The China Syndrome. Since T.M.I. was in our backyard, we went to see it to see what all the fuss was about. We almost found out for realz a few weeks later!

It's an Etters thing, you wouldn't understand.
We got some really vague news while in class, so had to stick around until someone from the family came to pick us up. I was fortunately in Home Ec at the time, so we hung out w/some food products. My aunt came by to pick me up, then my mom packed us up & we headed to Chapel Hill for the next 2 weeks w/another aunt & my cousins.

No idea of the actual release of radiation, MetEd said all was well, but we'll never know. I continue to use it as my excuse to explain things I do, or how I act. The unit that overheated was shut down permanently, while the other reactor went back online soon after & continues to run to this day. Do you like Hershey chocolate?



"Hershey PA three miles near
Empty assurance, nothing to fear
The nuke is down
Poisoned the ground
Hush it quick
The cows are sick
And there's nothing like the face of a kid
Eating a radioactive chocolate bar
Forever and ever
Radioactive chocolate forever and ever

Poisonous fish, poisonous rivers
Cancerous kidneys, stomachs and livers
They don't give a fuck
Just wanna make a buck
Radioactive chocolate forever and ever

Buy American, buy Hershey
They'll sell you death
With no mercy
They're gonna gain their wealth
And risk your health
Radioactive chocolate forever & ever."


The other historical event of this week was the 40th Anniversary of Casa Bonita. Never been there, but maybe I'll make it there someday. 


16 March 2014

Fall has come & gone
Winter has also come & gone, and come & gone, and come & gone, etc.....
Let's hop into the 'WABAC Machine' and re-visit what's happened over the past 6 months.

Mally got herself a nice new job, so now she's working exclusively in acupuncture, and during the daylight hours, I get to see my wife more than 1 day/week now!! 

She had a working interview back in November, which went extremely well (as expected), so I pedaled into town to meet her after she finished to have a celebratory dinner. We tossed my bike into the 3 week-old car, and headed to the restaurant, when BAM!, some clown decided to ignore the left-turn only lane & continue straight ahead into the driver's side quarter panel/door & mirror.

We got a new  'smashed up' car!

Thanksgiving day led some of the boys to BCLP for the Turkey-X race, but not without some mechanical issues happening: Bobby's Hamplanet had some drive-train slippage, which he solved by light pedaling for the race; Hirsch picked up tubeless conversion supplies, but decided against installing it for the race. Result, he had 3 or 4 flats, and the Wild Turkey shots caused some riders to refund after another 100 yds or so.

Only racer w/a kickstand for the win!

Did some on-again, off-again pedaling over the winter

Refreshment stop at BCLP
Christmas Eve on Green Mt.





White Ranch always pleases
Joe & I pushing the time limit at Lair o' the Bear
Joe & Greg vogueing
First ride at Ken Caryl

BeerdBelly V
Another fantastic season opener at Elk Meadows. Mostly sunny day with temps in the low-40s gave us excellent conditions to spend the 1st day of 2014 w/a great group of like-minded folk.


New Parts
After riding w/dropper posts on the Honzoschmidt & Sanction, I knew the Monkey needed one, but wasn't willing to shell out much on one. Voila, Jeremy mentioned a budget version during a TITS ride, so I ordered up a TMARS.

-27.2mm x 425mm
-3 positions: fully extended, 55mm drop, & 110mm drop
-spring-activated lift

Hadn't found much info about these, but wanted to add a dropper to my 27.2mm seat tube light-duty bike, and this $80 dropper fit the bill perfectly. Ordered from Taiwan & it was in my hands about 8 working days later.

One review mentioned that they disassembled it & lubed everything up to improve movement, so once it came out of the box, I proceeded to rip it apart. Once I started wrenching, I saw how simple the design was. On-bike installation was also straightforward: plop it in the seat-tube and run the cable to your bars. I did however notice an issue straight away that needed resolved: once the cable was routed, I saw that the barrel adjuster for cable tension was in a terrible position, too close to the housing box where it could get kinked very easily. To solve this, I just swapped ends and put the barrel at the bar end, problem solved. It comes with a 1.1mm cable, but I found that can be replaced with the normal 1.2mm derailleur cable.

Preliminary adjustments completed, so time to pedal around the yard & see how it worked. Right away, I noticed that even when completely slammed, there is a mile of post sticking out. The measurement from the top of seat-tube to the saddle rails is a gargantuan 8-3/4”!    Buyer beware – check that distance before you buy this thing. Since I'm Sasquatch-sized, my saddle height was only about 1/2” off the mark, and I was able to solve the issue by putting hacksaw/file to Karate Monkey seat-tube.

As you see in the picture, the bottom of the housing containing the controls hits the seat clamp, making about 3/4” of the post useless, which adds about 1-1/4” extra post overall.

It goes up, it goes down
The TMARS will take a ride to get the hang of learning to put some pressure on the saddle when you adjust the saddle. You can't just hit the trigger & move it, as the pressure from the spring will inhibit the lock pin from moving enough to unlock it from its current position. Cable tension is important to set up correctly, or else you'll experience a non-locking post: just a bit too tight & the post may not stay locked into position; a bit too loose & you'll have to mash on the lever to get it to unlock. It took me some trial-and-error, but I finally got it just right, and the post worked as it should on its initial ride. If you can't get it to lock in the lowest position, I found that taking a 6mm allen key to the bottom to relieve some of the pressure on the spring will do the trick.

My next project is adding 1 more position to the post - 27.5mm drop in addition to the 55mm & 110mm factory stops.

Pluses:
-affordable
-functional
-simple design

Minuses:
-long length


Some more fun took place

We celebrated Mally's 11th 29th birthday, where the
veghead of the house cooked up 8# of pork belly
Joe & I enjoying the final bits of sun at Alderfer/3 Sisters
Délicieux! Mally & I finally cracked open our last fancy bottle of wine, Henri!
DR is usually the 1st dirt to dry, which is good since it's one of the funnest!


More new shit
So I bought a leftover 2012 GT Sanction last year, and rode it about 15 times over the summer, mostly at Trestle & Keystone. Really fun bike that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I had a recurring itch in the back of my head since the summer before. After cleaning it up post-ride last fall, I decided to list it for sale to see if anyone wold bite, and if not, keep riding it. After 6 months of posting sporadically, I had a taker.

Regarding that itch: let's go back to summer 2012 at Trestle - I demoed a Kona Entourage, and thought it was hands-down  the funnest bike I'd ever ridden. I was instantly hooked, and have been jonesing for one ever since. Cash in hand from the sale of the GT finally gave me the ability to look for one in earnest, and yesterday, I finally got one of my own.

Oh, joy!
Got home & made some quick changes to suit it to my sasquatch-sized body: since they only go up to a large, I needed to give myself a touch more room, so swapped the Kore OCD 800mm bars from the Honzo w/the stock Kona 780mm bars; swapped the OE MTX33 wheelset w/older, much more heavy-duty Ringle 36h anchors passed to me from Boomer, and put on Kenda Excavator DH 2.5" instead of those skinny Maxxis 2.5" (measure more like 2.35") that came stock; increased rear disc size up from 180mm to 203mm; and ordered an x-firm coil to put in the Domain fork. Just need to figure out which weight coil needs to replace the lightweight stock on the Fox Vanilla.

Bring on summer & big-time fun riding again!







30 October 2013

Halloween

Had the in-laws in town for a long weekend, so headed to Estes Park the day. Glad we made it, because less than 2 weeks later the rains came.

Got back to doing a little bit of pedaling, headed up Mt Evergreen after work.

Finished up work early, so checked out Bergen Peak after a cold spell & found perfect conditions.


Since I got out during daylight for my ride, I stopped by the TITS ride later that night to have a few drinks w/the crew before they headed out.


After dealing with the lemon for too long, I finally gave in, and we picked up a sweet Jetta TDI.

Sold the lemon, then raced to VeloSwap where I spent $70 & came home w/some good loot.

We got ourselves our anniversary present, which also covers both our birthdays, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa,  Christmas and any other holidays happening in the next year.
Rocky & Miss Silvia in the house!

I finally changed the Honzo to a non-SS bike. Honzo + Hammerschmidt = I might finally go fast downhill.
Honzo 2.0

Halloween tune-age



17 August 2013

Summer 2013, fuck you.

In the hood.
As I took the bins to the curb, I found that some 'artist' had their way w/our cars, both of which were parked in the driveway, as well as the neighbor's garage. 

Damn kids!
This day also was scheduled for the removal of the pain-in-the-ass silver maple that's plagued our sewer line since moving in.
Good riddance, ya bastard!
Gas + rag + elbow grease

In the Springs
I participated in The Captain 2013 enduro, which took place on the edge of Colorado Springs. Had a great time hanging w/the Inflexible crew & riding some excellent CS trails. Didn't finish DFL, nor break myself, so it was a great success.
To the top, James.
Plans change...
I finished in 1 piece.
...but the bike didn't

In the East
Had to make an very unhappy, unscheduled trip to NJ. 
1962
Donald Paul Lubic, 4/2/44-6/14/13
Spent the following week hitting all the old haunts down at the beach: Wawa's, Angeloni's II, White House, Jo Jo's, Romanelli's, as well as seeing lots of the places I worked with dad over the years.
Kathy & Iron Mike's back porch
...and some of his fermented grapes.


Back in CO
Got high w/goat & slow. I tried to connect Crystal cabin to McClellan last year, but went up from the cabin. This time, we went up the jeep road, then crossed the tundra to get to the cabin. Seems I was on target last year, only about 100yds from the road.  (all pix by MtGoatEpics)
4,000' of downhill from here!

Thanks Frank!

Back East, Again
1st was a long weekend work trip to HQ, in Princeton
Over one of the Great Lakes?

Came back home for 3 days of work, then jumped on a plane to go back east again, but this time for beach fun with all the family units.
Recognize!
Wow, this joint was deluxe

In CO
Finally hit Keystone, and loved it! Got in 9 runs, which is OK at Trestle but put a hurting on me here. That place is MTB-ing!
I guess Idaho Springs has all the gold
Shooting shit
Back to TITS (pic by Garrett)
Crunch-time at work begins tomorrow and won't slow down till mid-October, so lots of time in front of the CRT screen for me.....just great.