Sunday, May 28, 2006

Happy 60th Anniversary

Happy 60th anniversary to my parents! The family gathered in Ohio on Saturday to celebrate. My older brother and family came from D.C. and West Virginia and my younger brother lives in the area. Note the hair (or lack of). At this point I've still got the most.

For an anniversary present we got a copy of my parents' Christmas card list and sent a note out to all their friends and family members asking for photos, cards, and letters to be sent to my brother who with his family arranged them into an album. We had a great response and learned quite a few new things about our parents.

My son Jason tried to get back but couldn't arrange the proper flights. He flew in to Detroit while we were down in Ohio and will be here for a week when we go back to Ohio for the Mohican 100. We'll stop by my parents on the way home.

Outside their place they have a few plant hangers mounted to the wall and a mourning dove decided to make a nest in one. She let me get pretty close to take a picture of her and her two babies.

I didn't ride on Saturday but spent the time with the family instead. Sunday morning I was ble to get out and ride from my parents east of Cleveland to my sister in-law's place on the west side of Cleveland. I rode down to the tow path that runs through the Cuyahoga National Park and took it almost from Akron up to Cleveland.
This path follows the old Ohio & Erie canal past many old locks, restored buildings and abundant wildlife. Throughout the area there are numerous historic attractions and optional road routes that take you up and out of the valley. The path is very well maintained with restrooms, water and small stores in some of the restored buildings. The path is over 30 miles in length and there are other bike paths that join up with it. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. There are two roads that also run most of the way along the valley that are popular routes for the road cyclists.

A sample of the path and a highway overhead. This gives an idea of the depth of the valley, great roads criss cross the area going up and down the valley hills. Steep and twisty.

A great blue heron nesting site

One of the locks

Another view of the lock

One of the restored buildings that is a visitor center/store

Self portrait while riding. A typical expression while I'm concentrating on something. Michael Jordon got the tongue thing from me

Friday, May 26, 2006

1/2 inch is all it takes

I received my setback seatpost yesterday for the Rush and moved the seat back about a 1/2 inch. Now it feels like my other bikes when it comes to seated power. Getting my knees just a little bit more behind the bottom bracket increased the amount of push to the pedals.

I also put on the Ergon grips with the integrated bar ends. A lot of endurance racers seem to be using these now, they provide a resting spot for the heel of the hands and should help fatigue on the longer rides. The bar ends are not as long as I'm used to but will give an additional hand position. The flat part of the grip puts my hand in a similar position to what I was used to on the bar end so it's not too much of a change.

When I built the bike I used a 31.8 riser bar but the bar is a little wider than I normally use for a geared bike. Normally I could cut it but the bar diameter gets too big too soon, I have just enough room now as it is when using a twist shift. I'll leave it alone for a while before I decide to find a narrower bar.

I put on the Lizard Skin chainstay protector before my ride yesterday and it helped quiet the chain slap. I have read of some people using clear heat shrink tubing to do the same thing. I don't know if that would muffle the nosie as well but is would allow the reflective stickers to show through.

One of the victims of the Addison race was my Polar HR monitor. The buttons were stuck and the monitor couldn't be shut off. I sent it back for repair and it arrived back yesterday. I've been using my wife's monitor which she has never used anyway, but it only gives an average HR and doesn't show a running time, only the HR while working out. I am used to mine that has all the other data functions and can be programmed for interval training. Those who know me know how I like my data. Since I didn't have my bike computer on the Rush until yesterday I had been wearing the HR monitor on one wrist and a watch on the other to keep track of the time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The shortest distance between two points

I rode the Rush at Pontiac Lake this afternoon, a trail that is fairly rough in spots with rocks, roots, and fast downhills with braking bumps at the bottoms. There is a preferred line in most sections, clearly defined by its smoother surface as it winds around some of the obstacles. I found that I was starting to ignore the established lines and instead would be pointing the bike straight over the rougher sections. The only thing I didn't like was all the chain slap noise but I installed a Lizard Skin on the chain stay tonight so it should be quieter now.

I tried out the Wingnut and it hardly felt like I had anything on my back. I liked the side pockets that I could reach while riding. I had an email from the company today after I questioned the bite valve. It turns out that it has an on/off function and you pull the valve out to turn it on. When I tried it yesterday it was barely on which explained the trouble I had getting water to flow. I pulled it all the way out today and it works much better. It seems rather large when it's in your mouth but it works. I think that Camelbak still has the best valves.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rush update

I've spent a little more time on the Rush now and today I was able to ride it on the trails at Stony for a few hours. I think the seating position I started with is almost right on, I may move the seat slightly farther back but that's about it. The seat tube moves about 3/4 of an inch to the rear with 25% sag so that is why my static measurement showed the post so much closer to the bottom bracket. It wasn't until I was almost done riding today that I realized I had no back pain, usually my back starts to bother me a little with moderate efforts after two hours. I guess that is another sign that the fit is close. I think I would lower the bar for a short race though.

On the trails it felt very fast in the tight stuff due to the shorter wheelbase than the bike I was used to riding, that's what I wanted. It may be a little slower up the hills due to the added weight but not much. I think it's deceptive how fast you are going since the ride is pretty smooth. I had to change my climbing position slightly, I need to stay over the saddle more to prevent the back wheel from spinning as opposed to the old bike where I could lean farther forward.

Tomorrow I'll ride Pontiac Lake where it is a little rougher and see how the suspension really works. I'm also going to try a new Wingnut hydration pack that a lot of people are starting to use. It sits lower on the back to avoid fatigue. I tried it around the house, the only thing I don't like so far is that it seems to require a lot of suction to get the water to come out.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Busy weekend

I travelled down to east of Cleveland on Friday to see my mom perform in the musical, 70 Girls 70 at the local little theater. This weekend was the last of the performances so I wanted to make sure and see it. She didn't know I was coming so my dad got the tickets and I met him at their place just before the show. When the musical was over the cast stays on stage to greet the audience and boy was she surprised when I walked up. While not having a major role, at age 80 she has to start somewhere. In fact most of the cast was over 60.

The next day I did a road ride out to the country where my wife and I grew up, the Burton/Middlefield area. Along the way I passed an interesting orthodox monastery.

This is a major Amish area so auto drivers are used to watching out for slow moving vehicles. I rode past many farms and Amish out in the fields or in their buggies. They always waved and said hello.

In Burton I spent some time at the Century Village, a site where many old houses and building have been moved to and turned into museums.

In the center of the town square is the log cabin where they make maple syrup, Geauga County is a big producer of syrup. There is always a debate over who makes better syrup, Vermont or Ohio.

Just on the other side of the square is the Geauga County fairgrounds, I used to go there every labor day and for a while was in the 4-H when I raised sheep. Saturday they had a Goldwing show going on as well as an antique tractor show. I love riding back in this area, it is easy to just keep riding out in the country.

Close to my parents on the way back I came across a person standing on the side of the road by a marsh looking across the other side at a big nest through a spotting scope. I stopped to see what it was and it was a bald eagle nest. He let me look through the scope and I was able to see a parent and the two young eagles. I had never seen one in the wild before. He had a digital camera that he could hook up and also a website where he publishes the photos.

Today Robin and Shari came over and we did part of my hill route before they had to leave. I went back out for a few hours on the Rush to get better aquainted with it. It felt a lot better today, the other day the seatpost kept slipping which was one of the reasons my legs were tired.

I received my new Scalpel frame, a size smaller than I have now to better negotiate the singletrack. While not a custom paint job it sure compliments the Cannondale Midwest Racing uniforms. Now I have to take the parts off the old frame and put them on this one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

First dirt for the Rush

The rain held off long enough after work that I was able to get the Rush out on the back roads for its maiden voyage. I didn't really get a chance to test the handling but checked out the suspension a few times on some of the drier potholes. Did I say holes? What holes? It was if they weren't there. The front wasn't as smooth as the rear but I need to adjust the air pressure.

I think the cockpit is just about right but can still be tweaked, I want to play around with a few stems and a setback seatpost to see what they will do. I can see it will be quicker in the singletrack but it felt slower than my Scalpel on the road. It's only about 1.5 pounds heavier so I thought maybe it was the more aggressive tread I had on the back combined with the new seating position.

I started to hear chirping noises from the front wheel while riding and checked it out when I got done. It seems the spare wheel I threw on with the semislick tread does not have the rotor spaced exactly the same as the new Crossmax. The front brake was dragging fairly hard which helps explain the sluggishness, the wheel wouldn't turn far when given a spin. The new wheel is dead on the center of the caliper and has no drag at all, the different wheel and new brake pads combined to cause the drag.

I think I'll be sticking to the roads for now given the weather forecast. Hopefully I can test it offroad soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Addison aftermath

I've looked over all three bikes I used at the Addison race and have to replace a number of items, although not as much as I had feared. I may discover more though as time goes on.

The list for now:

Scalpel headset bearings
Right side XO shifter ( the one on there is first generation and still works but heading south)
Derailleur hanger - I had a spare but ordered a few more
XO Derailleur B screw - it broke off when the hanger bent
Scalpel shock mounting bolt - unfortunately this is the Scalpel's weak point, it's broken before
XTR derailleur pulleys - the HT was running 1x8

I changed cables on the Scalpel but everything else on the bikes seems OK and within specs, just a little more worn.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rush pics

I brought the Rush outside between raindrops to take a few pictures. As is it weighs about 27.5 pounds, close to what I estimated. I have a heavier seat, bar ends, and tubeless tires on it which if I went lighter I could probably save about 2 pounds. Not too bad for a 4.3" travel bike.

In daylight:

Using a flash to show the refllective bits:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Addison race report

Rain the past few days and more rain off and on during the race made it muddy and a race of attrition. It seemed the longer the race went on the worse it got, and when the sun came out for a while the mud turned to peanut butter that clogged everything up. Even the SS's were having some troubles today.

Not my bike but an example of mud buildup after one lap. Photo from Tom Lining

Count me as one of those with troubles. The first two laps went great but the drivetrain started having problems as it gunked up so I switched bikes and our team member Joel was kept busy cleaning everyone's bikes. Thanks Joel. I kept switching bikes until on my 5th lap the mud got so thick it bent my derailleur hanger. I decided to finish the lap walking so my 40 minute lap turned into 1.5 hours.

Back at the pits I took out my SS but the gearing was too high and I struggled on the hills and even the flats where the mud was. After a few laps I pulled in to change the gearing. Going back out I noticed that I was starting to feel weak, I hadn't been following my nutrition plan with everything else going on. I decided to pack it in after 7.5 hours. At the time I was tied for 2nd with 2 others but I didn't care. Everyone was working for 2nd or below with the amazing and nationally ranked Mark Hendershot also running in our class. I will probably end up finishin 5th or 6th. I'll just look at it as a long hill ride, since it seemed like every pedal stroke was a struggle.

Getting the SS ready to go. Photo from Paint Creek Racing

I have to commend all those that were able to keep racing, especially Danielle who was still going strong when I left and Jay Jones who was winning the single speed class. My team mate Pete ended up winning his class in the 6 hour.

The trail the next day, one side for the feet, the other for the bike.

On a positive note I finished building the Rush on Thursday night but have only ridden it up and down the street for about 5 minutes. Given the weather forecast it looks like I won't be riding it for a while. I still need to get the seating position dialed in. Sure glad I didn't take it to Addison. I'll post some pictures of it someday. For now here are some pictures of the parts and of the frame. The frame has reflective trim that shows up when the lights hit it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

RUSHing to get it done

The Rush frame arrived last night, courtesy of my team member Joel who picked it up at Dexter Bike and dropped it by my house about 9:00. After taking some pictures (to be posted later) I worked on it for about an hour and a half and got most of it done but need to mount the brakes, shifters, and cables. I installed Joel's new Lefty fork that I am borrowing while waiting for my Lefty with the Fox Terralogic internals to arrive. It is backordered due to it's popularity.

Of course it started raining last night after being sunny for a week and it is forecasted to continue raining for the next several days, including through the 12 hour race this Saturday where I had hoped to debut the Rush. I plan on having several other bikes ready for the race that include a 1x8 and even a SS if the mud is really bad. The Rush may be sitting on the sidelines for this one. Hopefully it will stop raining long enough for me to even get it outside to check the fit.

Speaking of fit I had ordered a size smaller that the Scalpel I'm currently riding, Cannondale seems to use long top tubes and short seat tubes, just the opposite of how I fit. My hardtail is a size smaller and is a lot quicker in the tight stuff so I thought I would try it in a full suspension as well. If it doesn't work out I guess I'll go back up a size and sell this frame. Stay tuned for a ride report and pictures.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Biking weekend

We had a beautiful weekend both weather wise and from a biking viewpoint. Saturday was a bike demo days at Island Lake where we helped out our sponsor, Cannondale. We helped set up their display area and talked to potential customers and prepared bike for them to test ride. There was a lot of interest in the bikes, particularly the new Rush. Other bike manufacturers had their bikes at the demo as well.

Today was the second race in the MMBA CPS series at Ft. Custer, alway one of the favorite trails to race on. I set up the Hammer nutrition tent and was able to sell some product as well as offer advice. The race seemed to be well attended and the course was very fast. I managed to score my second win in the series, partly due to good fortune as well as training. On the first lap I was on the leader's wheel when his back tire blew completely off the rim. Later another rider caught up to me when we got jammed up due to slower traffic in the tight stuff. I followed him for part of the second lap but passed him on one of the bigger hills and tried to put a few riders between us. Later he crashed on a big log pile but I didn't know it and kept trying to pass as many as possible. I think I ended up winning by about a minute.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Perfect day for a ride

Today was a scheduled recovery ride and it couldn't have happened on a nicer day. The warm temperatures and blue skies were made to order for a relaxing ride on the back roads and rail trail. I noticed the other day that the trillium are out again on a trail near me, the hillsides are covered with thousands of them. I'll have to take my camera with me to Addison Oaks too and get some pictures of all the flowers at the entrance to the trail.