Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday Escape

Got out on the roads Tuesday and it felt great! I rode my usual R. Ave to the county line and then back on Q. Ave. It is such a scenic little bit of county road I can't believe I am lucky enough to live close enough to ride it whenever I want to. The snow/ice was just grippy enough on the way up to allow me to ride it at speed and make little to no roost. I rode the white snow and stayed away from anything dark (read: ice) or the powdery gravel. It was just starting to get wet on the way back, but still a great ride. I stopped here to have some water and enjoy the day that was provided for me, and the rural postal carrier that I had waved to three miles back pulled up to see if I was "ok" or needed "help" !! Couldn't he see the huge smile on my face? He rolled down his window and I said, "How's it going?", to which he chuckled and responded, "How's it going with YOU?" He thought that it was pretty cool that I was riding for fun on the roads he mis-trusts and feels a little unsafe on, even with his studded tires. I laughed and told him that my tires (Michelins ROCK!!!)were biting right through the snowy surface and that I hadn't spun a wheel or slipped at all. He just chuckled and said that he didn't feel right driving along without checking on me. I told him thanks and that I would watch out for HIM if he ended up in a ditch. He was cool.
This old country school is also cool. It is just up R Ave. between 180th and 190th. There is a movement in Boone to preserve it and use it as an educational tool. They wanted to move it from its site to an area off one of the school grounds here in town, but the $ needed to do so was too much. Also the risk of loosing the structure in the move was sky high! I am happy that the land owner is donating the building and land to the town and it will remain on the original grounds. The bricks are being shored up and replaced, and they will tuck point the whole works later. A cool tool for the community. I would love to see a KCCI weather cam there to help with security as well as providing a boost to the science curricula. Might be a good place to try for some Project Mainstreet monies too.

Cracked the rear ski all the way through on my ski bike so now it is in dry-dock until I can get another one, or nail some tin on to get me by. And with fresh powder looming, I will need to do something! Have fun out there and don't forget to check over your shoulder once in a while. Later!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On Hot Rodding Bikes

So it appears to me that if I had more time to dream up things to do with old bikes I would be spending ALL of my time dreaming, and not enough of my time riding. But as winter approaches and the odds of running out the door and riding 30 miles are getting smaller, I will share a link that has inspired some crazy ass builders to do way more than just tinker. Check out and look beyond the feature bikes. Look through all of the home built bikes and the show coverage. Some of the bikes being built in the Amsterdam show are insane! I love the mini bikes (10" wheels?) in that show. And all those black wheels! Big meats up front, even white tires. Granted, some of these guys struggle with the negative space and proportion, and I can't really tell you why I hate Ape Hanger bars so much, but they're at least doing something to grow and learn. Entering a judged show is a quick lesson in anything. Imagine a judged race! "I didn't like the colors on your kit as compared to your bike, and you don't do a hard enough effort between climbs, I'm relegating you five spots back from your finishing spot!" WTF?
The site is usually updated about every 3 months. So go to this site once in a while and spend some time looking at the creative side of bike culture. You may just have an inspiration to go with your perspiration. Later!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Line Rider

A bike that came together so ridiculously easy I can't believe it! No welding required, just nut and bolted, screwed and spacered. It started out as a free bike that I had intended to make into a crotch rocket inspired road singlespeed. It sat around for about 2 months before that idea was supplanted with the ski bike idea. I scrounged around for some additional free materials and thanks to freecycle (Thanks Karl!) and a co-worker (Thanks Sheila!) I procured the garage door hinges and old skis needed to get this thing "rolling." I started off by removing every part but the seat post/seat, bars, and bottom bracket. Next I took the axles out of the hubs, keeping all spacers and nuts for re-use. I put the axles through the center pin of the garage door hinges, put a nut on the outside of the hinge pin, and bolted the axle to the drop outs.
Now to attach the skis. Out front I simply took the binding off of the ski and screwed the hinge to the ski. Had to re-drill a few new holes, but the ski material (presumably fiberglass) drilled very cleanly, so it was easy. I used a strap of Natuzzi webbing for a limiter on the ski, to keep the nose pulled up and prevent a high speed get-off into the snow!
Out back I cut some spacers out of an old decking board. this gave me the lift-kit needed for the ski to clear the bottom bracket and allow the rear suspension to work. Screwed it all together with deck screws (counter sinking the bottom 4) and it was almost time to get going. I put another limiter on the tip of the rear ski, using a water bottle mount to anchor it to the frame. Mounted the axle, but with some Delrin spacers to fill in the loose play.
I took it to "Murder Hill" out in the park and right out of the box it was PURE fun! From the top on the first run and it was just like riding a regular bike, maybe easier. I need to fab up some foot pegs, but other than that I think I got it all right. I could not stop giggling about how cool this thing is! Just a blast! I rode a chute today for about 3 hours that was banked up about 3 feet on each side, and it carves in the powder very easily, but the back ski could be a bit shorter ideally. Good quad workout running it back up each run too.
I would be happy to help any of you make one of these for yourselves if you want to have fun. It would be a blast to get about 4 or 5 of us and bomb the Y Camp hill and Devil's Backbone!
Squirrel, I hope you still have the Raleigh! Let's derby!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Bridgestone RB-3

Right out of the box you can see that this is a very large frame. Bigger than I should be riding, but I ride it once in a while anyways. And besides, it was free. It has decent index shifters, Bio-pace chainrings, and Ling-su (or something) brakes. I switched out the drop bars for some old English looking mustache bars, flipped for some drop. I have dreams of making this into a fixed gear bike someday, which is really the only reason I have held onto it for 2 years. I would hate to just strip off the shifters if it the frame was more my size, but I predict that it won't be too traumatic once I get some fixed wheels in my hot little hands. That leads me to a question for any of you who might be reading this. I have a set of wheels from Alien Bikes that I am lusting after and hope to buy in the spring. They are all black, deep section, fixed only wheels and I have about 8 or 9 bikes that I think I could use them on. My hangup is that the rear wheel is only threaded on one side, and I don't know how much chainline adjustment I can get from this. Some of my bikes would have to use the big ring up front for it all to line up, which means I'll have to get a pretty good size cog out back to keep the ratio realistic. If you want to see the wheels online you can link off of fgg and check them out. ALL BLACK, the only way wheels should be made! I can see these wheels on my Il Pirata Bianchi, Miller Beer Puch, yellow Puch, Old Trek, Falcon San Remo, Rolls Racer, Mitzutani Seraph Spree, Toys-R-Us, Raleigh Record, RB-3, the possibilities may be endless. So if you have time please comment or ask questions in my comments section. Later!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Lives !

Wow! I was shocked today to learn that Evel Knievel passed away. I can't believe it! He just settled a law suit with Kayne West (not Kim West) over a parody-gone-bad in the last couple of days. Now, dead. I know that some of you guys out there (30 - 40+) were as influenced by Evel as I was. Who among us didn't dream of jumping something outrageous every time they threw a leg over their top tube? As a boy of 5 or so, I used to ramp my bike in the neighborhood alleys with all of my buddies. Big Wally, Little Wally, Brian Weedman, Adam Weedman, Wilbs, Mike Doherty, Scott Jones, even the neighborhood "wimp" Timmy Sadler, used to jump our bikes all day, every day, in the alleys surrounding our neighborhood. Each ramp growing another brick higher as the record jump grew longer. Until we actually made a ramp that somebody brainstormed in their garage one day. We made a double angled take-off platform (first stage about 30 degrees and a second stage at about 45) with a cross braced support at the front, instead of bricks piled up. This thing launched us to ever increasing personal bests at each turn. We only jumped air, until the day Little Wally said he would jump the hedges in front of Scott Wilbur's house! Outrageous! But do-able with the new ramp. So we set up the ramp at what we thought was a good distance to clear the bushes, but not too close that it would be easy or a for- sure jump. So we're all sitting on our bikes and LW goes back to his starting point. Somebody started chanting, "EVEL EVEL EVEL..." and he starts down the sidewalk toward the ramp. In true Evel fashion he did a run-bye and then back to the start. And the crowd goes wild! Then a run-up to the lip of the ramp to "see" what he had to do and where to land. I think someone fained having to leave at that point because they couldn't take the drama! Back to the launching point one last time and he did it for real. I remember his orange Yamaha Motobike (single seat, not banana) sailing silently through the air, slightly crossed up, and landing perfectly, a huge J skid following, and he just turns to us all and smiles! Awesome! No helmets in those days, your tolerance for pain was your helmet. Knee pads? Gloves? No way.
When you think about it, Evel was not so much a skilled jumper as he was just a ballsy showman. Who jumps a Harley over anything? That's a recipe for disaster! If he had ever jumped a Yamaha YZ 250 with massive suspension and wide bars he would have made every jump he tried. Bring out a dozen more buses and get that landing ramp the hell out of there! Iconic, crazy, full of piss and fire! What a role model. We all owe him some debt of gratitude for offering up his health and well-being to give us the thrills and spills that made us copy him. When Evel was on, you stopped all life and watched, heart in your throat, to see him try the impossible. Half of you wanting him to clean it, half wanting to see him rag-doll in slow motion. He looked much older and haggard than the 69 years he lived, but all of those x-rays probably took a few layers off of his skin! So next time you ride, offer up some thanks for Evel Knievel and go jump something with your bike! Later!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short Term Goals

I NEED to spend more time on the bike (anything counts at this point) so I have set up a couple of short term goals. First, I will try to ride to some destination on my day off (Tuesdays) no matter the miles. Miles are not the measure of a ride as some of us know. Others will arrive at this enlightened realization only after chasing miles for too long and forgetting what keeps an adult riding their bike in this world, FUN! Go out and ride Urban, or gravel if you don't usually, or just ride laps around your yard...make up reasons to go out. Make a BRUTOOB and go for a ride. Buy a thrift store dinosaur and just ravage it somewhere. Trust me, it is very therapeutic. You'll have to convince yourself NOT to get rid of it afterwords.
Another goal is to ride at least part of my measly 2-mile-each-way commute to work each day until the end of the year. I make no less than 4 trips per day- to, back home for lunch,back to, and home after. Add 2 additional trips on Monday and Thursday, and there are plenty of opportunities there to ride. If gas gets too much more crazy you couldn't pay me to drive it. Besides, it will give me more smiles than miles. Rode back from dinner tonight, it's a start.
Next is to keep a project bike in the basement at all times this winter. I have some older projects that have been shoved to the back of the garage it favor of the quicker fixer uppers. For instance, I bought an old Raleigh about 3 years ago that I just never did anything with. It's old steel, the right size for me, has internally routed cables, and I have all the parts I need to get it back on the go! And a bike from a brand that I can't find anything out about, Rolls. It has a license sticker from Fullerton, California, and is coated with some kind of green gunk. All of the chrome underneath this gunk is spotless, so I have hopes for this one to end up a nice fixed gear. I figure that I can get 4 or 5 bikes done this winter. Can't argue with that!
Another, to build up a good array of winter riding gear, and use it. I want some ski goggles, neoprene booties, and glove/mittens for starters. (By the way, check out bikesnobnyc for a fun read on this area.) If I get this ski-bike off the ground, and I soon will, I can go out with my sons and have a blast on any Sunday. Have to check with Joel about the technical requirements of the ski edges/lengths for taking it to 7 Oaks. I can't wait for snow!
So I guess that by posting some of these goals I can feel like I really have to do them now. If only there were fewer Saturday events, and more on Sunday, I would have mondo opportunities to ride. Actually, that wouldn't help too much because I will be teaching Sunday School with my wife for the rest of the year. Gotta pay your dues if you wanna play the blues, and you know it don't come easy. Later!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Performance

Another, yes it's true, dumpster-dived rescue. This one took some vision because it was just an ugly junker. Tires rotted out, stamped and riveted cranks, really odd wheelbase, etc. Since I felt like crap on Tuesday (my normal day off from work) I decided to just try to make it into something I could ride for the heck of it. So I took off all the junk, flipped the extra-wide riser bars and painted them right over the rust, shortened up the cables and housings, pulled the cranks, and stuck the wheels from my GT on there. From there I straightened out the chainline, slid on a 16 tooth, and re centered the brakes. Found a decent seat, slipped some WTB grips on, and whaddayaknow, it's a rideable bike! A little short in the reach, but I can put on a different stem to help there. And I have another set-back post that is the right diameter which should just about dial it in. I went out last night for a little urban riding and had a blast! There is a poured curb downtown that is about 150 feet long, on a slight incline/decline. 8" wide by 9" tall. I tried about 20 times to ride it from each direction. The closest I got was all but about 20 feet of it, on the uphill. Then went to the sweetest hill in town for wheelies. It is a stretch of Story Street that is three blocks long. All on a slight incline and just the right resistance for the one wheeled wonder! I managed to do two and a half blocks (blowing through a red light in the second block) but couldn't get the total length in one shot. Still, a 2+ block long wheelie is good. The bike seems to have a very long wheel base, and actually looks like it was made for 700c wheels. Also, the bottom bracket is very tall. It does have a sticker on the top tube which reads "400 cross" so I'm thinking that even though the brake studs are at 26" position it is probably a 700c frame. Makes sense that the manufacturer could make one set of tubes, then weld the studs at the correct position for a mtn or cross/hybrid frame. This reminds me, there was a bike on FGG that had these sweet adapters on it. They are made by Mavic and adapt the brake studs from a 26" frame to 700c position. Assuming that there is enough clearance on the fork, stay braces for the wheels you could actually do quite a bit with these. Speedgoat has them for $25.00 per wheel, I think I need some! Anyways, back to BOTW, I think I will put some miles on it on the gravel and keep it around for riding to work this winter. I actually only tried to do something with it because I love the green tires vs. the blue paint and green/white graphics. Now I think I like it enough to race it next year. Looks good with a number plate on it, as all bikes do! I need help! Later!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Westpoint Townie

I bought this bike at my church's annual rummage sale. For a dollar! What a deal. It was "anything you can fit in a bag for $1.00 day" and they made an exception for me. A friend and classmate of mine saw me on it at HyVee one day and told me that it was once his Grandpa's bike and that he used to ride it up and down the alley when we were kids. I thought that was cool. I offered to give it to him if he wanted it but he declined, thankfully. I have ridden it on BRR twice, pulling my oldest in the Burly. I blacked the rims out, pounded out a dent in the front fender and sprayed the supports, flipped the bars for a lower stance, and switched the plastic seat for something more civilized. I happened upon the rack at the annual DSM swap meet that used to be the second weekend in September. It matches the paint pretty damn close and will handle a twelve pack no problem. I just bought a pair of white Kendas from Nashbar about a month ago and they will no doubt add some contrast to the pea green and yellow. Headlight is for effect only but I may knock the reflector out and mount up a little L.E.D. flashlight in that baby! Later!

Monday, November 5, 2007

CYCAT: 'Clone For A Day

I can't remember how I found out about this event, but I am sure happy that I did. I think I followed a link off of DQ's blog? I had never done an alley cat race before and thought, "Might as well keep trying new cycling things, you ain't gettin' any younger!" At $5.00 it can't be any worse than the $30.00 that I threw out to ride two laps of Spooky Cross! Still, being a little gun shy about not knowing who might be there, I played it safe and rode up to the registration area to see if I knew any faces. I was relieved to see Alex Renner there and he waved me over to the sign up tables. Once there I signed up and entered in the singlespeed category. There was some discussion of what constitutes a fixed gear vs. a single. Someone said that if it is fixed but has brakes it's just a singlespeed. Others were of the opinion that fixed is fixed, bailout or no. Who should come along and lay down the authority but Steve Lauber! He pulled up on his fixie, "Fixed is fixed!", he said, done! So we were all hanging out, and I have to say there was a cool mix of cycling styles and people. Carney Bros. Inc. on a dirt jump bike and a sweeeeeeeet Sycip fixie, Alex's friend Mario on a LeMond cross bike, Laubers sweet Raleigh, (check out his brake lever actuated bell sometime, wicked cool) Alex on his stickered Trek fixed, an old Schwinn fix with extremely narrow bars, a fendered Raleigh fixie, a number of "campus bikes" (gets you to a bike rack somewhere close to class, might be there when you go back for it, no big if not) a killer Bianchi BASS, and others. I rode my bike of the week, Sentinel singlespeed. I forgot that my camera was in my car, grrrr! After hangin' for some time we got the goods handed out. Bryan Moritz and crew had set up a wild premise for this race and we were now going to find out the details. Credit to DQ for giving the idea to Bryan. Each rider was given a bingo type card with 24 numbers filled in and a free space. On the back of the sheet was a map of campus with about a dozen dots. Each dot represented a bike rack on campus that we were to ride to. In whatever order you wanted. At each rack was a series of three numbers written on the cement in different colored chalk (34 76 52 etc.) If you had the number on your card you wrote the color of the number in that space. Once you had bingo, or in this case CYCAT, you hauled ass back to the starting point. Sounded clear enough. I was wavering on wearing a helmet or not. No mention of it during the instructions, only a few people had them on, but Alex says, "You have kids don't you?" Strapped on the brain bucket and waited on the street for a neutral roll out to a traffic light. At the light we were waiting until it went to green, and like that we were off! I was rolling along with a grin and passed a few guys on the way to campus when Alex rips by on his Trek. I thought that I was going to get all competitive, but realized that this was more about fun, and also there would be a big luck factor with this format so I hopped a curb and grabbed a little air. Cut a few lines between some trees, and was wishing I had a back brake so I could skid around some turns! I found out quickly that there were some black chains strung between poles right in the best lines. Black is hard to see in shadows! I had decided that my strategy would be to get the numbers at central campus first, then work in a clockwise direction to pick up the rest. As I was heading to the first set, I cut through the grass to get a better line. Approaching the sidewalk I did a lunge wheelie to clear the sidewalk. My chain must have popped off and as my back wheel hit the sidewalk I shot forward. Hit the only brake I had out of habit(front brake/quick stop) and the next thing I know I'm sliding across the grass on my shoulder (instant thoughts of Varnum, Emily, helmet choice, shit I better not trash my Ralph shirt, wow this grass is really green,there goes my race, etc.) I stood up laughing and rolled the chain back on but could not find the numbers anyplace! Crap! so I carried out the strategy and wound up finding the last number I needed after returning to the flagpole for a last check. CYCAT! Hauling ass back to the park I thought that I would be way behind. I saw a campus cop as I flew by and thought I was going to get maced or something, but he just said Hi and kept walking. I could see Andrew Carney ahead of me and didn't think I could catch him. As I got closer I thought he was trying an aero tuck as he was sitting weird. Given that he was on a dirt jumping bike I thought that was the only riding position he could manage. I found out later that he had started with a broken and taped seat, and that he was sitting on the seat rails with the seat in his lap when I passed him! Awesome man! He cursed me as I went around him and I went on to finish 4th overall and first in singlespeed. I have to thank Bryan Moritz and the ISU cycling club for putting this event on. I hope they do it again, and I hope more people do it. Also major thanks to Steve Lauber and Bike World, "The Store That Supports The Sport!" I won a Surly flask and a Surly Singleator for my efforts, but also had a blast riding from the heart like a kid. Flat pedals and sneakers, jumping and bunny hopping, confusing and scaring pedestrians, laughing and crashing! Hope someone has pictures to post. Later!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Other Stuff I've Been Up To

Haven't been doing too much riding as of late, but still getting out there some. Rode out through Jordan and south to the county line last Tuesday. Around through Ledges and back. I couldn't believe it but I found another old country church East and South of Luther. Never would have had any idea it was out there if I hadn't decided on this route. And this one crept up on me so stealthily that I didn't see it until I was half a block away! It's like a message from Someone!
I made this all-purpose carrier the other day after realizing that a cold beer would be really tasty in the middle of a ride, DUH! So I took a $10.00 gift card that my sons gave me for my bday and went to Ace Hardware. Bought a small assemblage of PVC and some brass screws, nuts, and washers. In total a cost of $10.41. Assembled the ends to the tube, drilled out some holes to mount the strap, screw strap down (brass will hopefully not corrode) and add every sticker I've been hoarding for the last few years. What to call this new invention? I thought of BRUTOOB and Beer Quiver, but BRUTOOB won out. Now I haven't really tested this thing yet but it rests quite nicely on my back and is not very heavy at all. I used thinwall PVC to save some weight. It will hold 5 cans of beer and a 44oz. cup of ice, any bottle of wine and some bread or cheese, Most Whiskey bottles, and I'm sure some Fat Tire 22s would slide in there easily too. I could think of a hundred other uses for this thing and I bet I could sell them if I wanted to. I have a way of inventing things and sitting on them, only to see them marketed later and kicking myself for it! So I'm claiming the name "BRUTOOB" and the concept of a PVC carrier worn messenger bag style. Make your own if you want to, but you saw it here first.

Also, I am making this bike into a ski bike. I dumpster dived the bike from Bike World Ames and sat on it not knowing what I would do with it. I wanted to make a junker singlespeed, but it has a high forward pivot and I didn't think that would work for the chain tension. So I pumped up the tires and did some ghosters off of it! I haven't done that for 30 years! I quit after almost hitting my own car on the third one. Then it struck me to make a snow bike so I scrounged up some skis from a co-worker and am in the process of sourcing some free garage door hinges to mount on the skis and run an axle bolt through. I hope we actually get some snow this year so I can go out to Murder Hill and shred it! I will post a few after shots of the finished bike and maybe a few action shots. Better teach the kids how to run the camcorder so I can maybe win some money on AFHV or Country Fried Videos! Later! I think I am riding the CYCAT Sunday, anybody else?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Sentinel Sophmore

I have no idea what this brand is about. Can't find anything about it on the web. Odd that it was sold in Council Bluffs but is an unknown? I tried no less than 3 times to buy this bike from the local Goodwill, but every time I went in to ask them to sell it to me (Usually $5.00) the old hag at the counter would say, "It's not in inventory yet, we can't sell it!" So I waited for a dark night, Homecoming last year, and just hopped on it and rode it home! That's right! It had been converted to singlespeed by somebody and just needed to be finished off. So I took off the brakes, ditched the drop bars for a cut down and flipped riser bar, and steel wooled the chrome rims to a nice shine. I Dremmeled the big ring off and there you go. Another free bike. Added the most comfortable grips I have ever used. They are from an old reel mower and are the style most commonly called "Coke bottle grips" because of their resemblance to the iconic pop bottle's profile. They come up under the palm of your hand at the center and taper down to the bar to about a 1mm thickness. Had to have the set-back post to make it fit decently. Free from the City of Boone with a pile of bikes the guys at the city shed gave me:) I guess it's not a totally free bike because I did pay for the seat. $2.99 at Ames Goodwill. Add the cost on my soul for stealing and it's still cheap! Later!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What a Day

What a day for a ride! If you were not able to go out today you missed a great day! I rode up R Ave. until the Boone/Hamilton County line. From there I had a choice of going to Stanhope or Stratford. I had some Poptarts at the top of a hill and thought about it for awhile. Stratford won out and I was soon headed West into a very slight headwind. Just enough of a wind to keep the sweat from collecting, but not enough to make work out of riding into it. Each mile was just better than the last until I found myself laughing out loud at the perfect day. Here are some of the things that I was treated to on my ride.

Someone gave a "dam" about their land and made a beautiful wetland preserve on Q Ave.

This is the other side of the road. I wanted so badly to ride down some double track and look at the water! If I had land I would do exactly this same thing. Then put in some single track!

These little snakes were all over the place today, sunning themselves at the side of the road.

I will be back to poach this creek for some ice riding once things get to perma-cold stage. If you have never been ice riding you are welcome to come with. More on this later!

This little country church was hiding in the middle of nowhere in Hamilton county. I could see the spire for miles but had never known about it before today. Don't know how many miles it was for today, but they were all quality miles. Who could ask for more? Later!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Nishiki Rally

Another of my old bikes. Guess how much it cost me....Guess, I'll wait..... That's right ZERO, Zip, notta! Dumpster-dived it from the back of Bike World Ames. The Store That Supports The Sport! It ain't exactly light, but then I never was a weight weenie so who cares. Heavy bikes track straighter when there is little input from the rider! Think of it as autopilot. This thing is a blast to ride and I put in some heavy test bed miles on gravel this summer to get it to the best riding position that I could. I rode it at Spooky Cross and even though I only got two laps in, I feel like it was me that was the problem, not the bike. Not much (read NO) clearance for sticky mud, but plenty for the thin soupy mix I was in. Picked up a ton of grass, but who didn't. I put the 844 stickers on the top tube as a salute to the Union Pacific train of the same character. Heavy, black, built to run shit over if it gets in the way! If you have ever been near that train you know what I mean. I spent a Tuesday with my sons chasing the train, UP 844, from Grand Junction to Boone this last summer. This bike reminded me of it, and I can look down at the top tube while riding and reminisce about that day's adventures. Running the original bars, but I used the old rib spreaders on them and got a nice 52cm center to center spread. Cross friendly and free! Originally a 5 speed, tweaked it to work for 6. Shifts on the stem, stops on a silver dollar, not another one like it in the world! Later!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spooky Gross

I tried my hand at cross racing Sunday at the Spooky Cross race in DSM. I went down there with the full understanding that cross racing is fast and can be messy, but this was not fully understood until I started my race. Since I race Sport Open on mountain bikes and had no idea what I should race in USCF rankings I stood around for a long time looking for someone familiar so I could figure out what to do. Since I didn't really know any of the folks around and didn't recognize any vehicles I waited as long as I could before registering. At about 5 minutes to go before the start of the Masters 40+ I just panicked and said, "Might as well try this group," and rationalized that if I had never tried Mountain Biking back in 1992 at Volga, then I would never have enjoyed all those years of racing since then. So I put down my $20.00 and signed up for the race. Oh, no USCF licence, add $10.00? No problem. No form for that, just pay? Oh, I guess that's how it's done right? So I had no time to warm up (my fault) before the race and as I was sitting there listening to the roll call I finally recognized a few names. People who I knew to be bad asses! I leaned over to the officials table and asked DQ if I was outclassed in this race. He said that if these guys would kill me then so would the 3 and 4s, so I might as well get it over with. Thanks! All I could stand was 2 laps around and my glasses were fogged over and mudded up, my back was already shot, and I knew it was not going to happen for me on that day. So I actually quit! I quit a bike race. What a low point in my "career" that was. But not to worry for you see I had done that same thing back in June of 1992. I was going to try my first mountain bike race at "some place called Volga" and when I got there I was so nervous that I nearly didn't even want to sign up. The important thing was to try, so I signed up, put on a number plate (a cool thing to do to any bike) and started with the beginner class. There is a section there called Vertical Beach, a sandy climb, that I was trying to ride while everyone else was off the bike and pushing. Well I got to the top and all of the Fig Newtons and green Hi-C that I had on the way to the race came shooting out of my mouth, nose, and nearly out of my ears! I look back now and laugh! But didn't laugh at the time. Instead, I rolled back to the start/finish area, gave Rich Gossen my number plate, and shrunk back to my car. Thought I would never ride again, let alone race. Good thing I was wrong on that day, just as I may have been on Sunday. Cross racing will be as much of a blast as any mountain bike race I have done once I get into the right class. I will return to race another day, probably at Jinglecross. We'll see. I had more fun hanging out after the race watching the 3/4 race than I ever have had after a mtb. race, that's for sure. I stood under a pop-up tent and watched the guys, and gal, ride through the rain and slop. Recognizing only their bikes after the first two laps. Drinking a few beers before noon on a Sunday? No problem. Trying something new and quitting? No problem. Having a plan for the next time, priceless. Later!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Puch Singlespeed

This is another of my free bikes. I just have a knack for knowing how to spot them I guess. I saw this one sitting in front of a garage sale one Saturday and stopped to check it out. Now you must realize that it takes a certain way of looking at a bike that has the seat post hammered all the way down, bars rolled back, stem jacked up past the minimum insertion line, etc. to know that it can be salvaged and fit to your riding style. If you know how to spot them your odds of having multiple bikes are very good. This one had all of these maladies and a price tag of $5.00 on it. I would gladly have paid the lady for it, but she just looked around her glasses at me and said those magic words, "You can just have that if you want it, hon." So I took it home, ditched the shifters, threw on some Kenda 27s, and dropped the chain on the cog that gave me the straightest chainline. It's a big gear, but I'm more of a diesel than a redliner, so it works out in the end. I made a quill-to-threadless adapter out of an old stem and put on some cut down/flipped cruiser bars for a nice reach. The tires shown here were a failed attempt at making black walls out of gum walls. I cannot stand gumwalls or skinwalls, GROSS! But these are the problems I live with! Later!

Perfect Riding Weather

After dropping the kiddies off today I sat down in the recliner and pondered on what my day off might hold for me. The last two Tuesdays have been ruined by rain, so while I didn't ride at all (last week I didn't even touch a bike on my day off!) I did get plenty done around the house. So I concluded that I would make a dry run to Pilot Mound to see what the actual "mound" was all about. But first, an hour long nap, AHHH! O.K., so I went to the local convenience store for a coffee, suited up, and headed out of town on Q Ave.. At 155th I headed west toward Devil's Backbone (north of the Y camp) and rode behind a maintainer for about three miles. I thought that it would be a drag to wait for him to go down the hill ahead of me, but at the same time I didn't want to rush down it and not enjoy the speed and white knuckle thrills! So I waited him out, took a pee, and when I was sure he was on down the road and not turning around to come back up, I went for it. MUCH to my delight he had left a large soft berm in the middle of the road and I railed it at a good speed and flew around both the right and left handers like a flat tracker! I should have gone back up and done it again but wanted to get to the mound, so I coasted out the energy from that and pedaled on. Stopped at the spring in Fraser for a top off on my bottle and on to the crippler that is around the bend. 160th? I think? If you've ridden this beast you know the one, it goes straight up to the west, just after the Hunt and Fish club. Brutal! From there it was a short jaunt to the mound. You see, the town got its name from the large mound of dirt to the south of Pilot Mound. It is said that there was a fierce Indian battle there many moons ago, and that wagon trains used it as a natural beacon, with a fire on top it can be seen for miles and miles! A natural land formation which rises up like an oversized ant hill. It is heavily wooded on all sides, has ATV trails wound around it, has a swampy area on the North, and would be a kick ass place to hold a cross race! Sand, mud, grass,can you put single track on a cross course? It has all of these things. I am planning to ride up there again some Sunday and will try to post a date for anyone who wants to go along. Tons of primo gravel on the way there and back, so we might as well enjoy it. 35 miles today, round trip from my house. More if needed. Later!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Other Bike Of the Week: Shrink Ray

This is a bike that I bought at Goodwill for a fixer-upper. I painted it to "match" my KHS and gave it to my son, Marshall, for his first bike. He rode it quite a bit until the big day came. He helped me take the training wheels off and we hoped for a quick crash and recovery, then riding for the rest of his life. We got the quick crash, but then he would NOT try to ride it at all. He would go out with his helmet on and try for 10 minutes and then end up chucking his helmet across the yard and caving in to tears. But bless him, he would go back and try again, chuck the lid again, and fume until the next round. I believe he would have learned quickly if his little brother, Mitchell, wouldn't have walked up to his own bike and ridden away without training wheels on the first try! Kinda ruined it for poor Marshall. So now Mitch is big enough to ride the KHS Team, and is the reason that I come home to freshly worn singletrack in my back yard. Love that! At 7 years old he is already counting laps around the house (76 on a Saturday, watch out Squirrel!) and can rip a skid like a dream *Now with trailing foot action!* He thinks that this is a wheelie, but it's more of an act of momentum vs. gravity. But we're calling it a wheelie for now! Kids and their bikes, gotta love it. Later!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bike Of The Week: KHS Team ST

This is my KHS. It's a 19" frame, but I am constantly struggling to make it fit my 6 foot frame. I saw this bike in the Interbike coverage from the 2000 model year and HAD to have it. I don't know for sure why I was so smitten with it, never having been on it, but something grabbed me and said, "Must have bike!" You know how it goes, right? So I have spent 8 years hating this bike, but riding it just the same. It gets no respect from me. It has a Rapid Rise XTR rear on it and I really can't stand it. The first race I rode with it was Decorah, and the bottom of the first long, rocky climb was no time to forget that you don't use the thumb shifter to grab a climbing gear, you use the trigger! Cross chaining the granny and 11 tooth is not going to get you up that hill! Also, the top tube is too long, the stem is too long, the soft ride doesn't do jack, I indexed the headset, and the chain suck is too often. I know I could remedy the stem easily, but gee, it matches the bars! Kidding, I'll do it some day. It is a very delicate relationship to maintain, and you thought marriage was a lot of work? Some days it even boils down to which tires are on it! I think it rides best with green Michelins, but they're almost always on my GT singlespeed. I think I would not mind breaking this frame, but I will keep the bike until that happens. It's paid for, why get rid of it? Later!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Let Me Tell You

Let me tell you a couple of things that you might not know. One, it is the worst time of the year to ride East/West roads. Especially paved roads. The sun is at very low orientations to the road at prime riding times, early a.m., and early evening. This means that the average-to-low-attention spans of motorists will be further taxed by their inability to see us. There are enough distractions inside of cars these days that the fact that a motorist can't see is a minor inconvenience! No shit, I saw a lady texting in her car the other day! Both hands at the top of the wheel, both thumbs twitching out a message. "hlp me i m rtrdd cnt c wr im going 2 bad 4 evry1 lse" So, ride North/South on gravel but be aware of point number two! Two, farm machinery is everywhere and pisses off motorists like no other! You should allow plenty of sight distance on both sides of any tractor, combine, gravity box, hay rack, grain truck, or auger coming at you, from either direction. Like we were taught in driver's ed, IPDE! Identify potential problems (J.D at 12 o'clock, traffic behind) Predict what problems might come up (pissed off guy wants to get around J.D.) Decide what your actions will be (if he comes around while you're there, you may want to get on the shoulder) Execute your decision (get over to the shoulder, flip the bastard off, and live to ride home!) Now I know some people will say that getting over for someone in a car is caving in, but your head caves in easier than your pride, and the flipping of the bird buys your rights back with interest. Try it, you'll like it! Just my $.02 worth, take it or leave it. Do enjoy this primo weather though! Later!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Squirrel's Nest TT

Another sweet Chris Maharry production. Is there any other way to wrap up the season? Always fun and great racing too! I have to say that the course was killer! Knowing that Squirrel marked it out, and later finding out that it is his own personal playground, I'm not surprised that it rocked so hard! Lots of short, big effort climbs, corners that have a flow, and no pussified log crossings! You can't jump here you're going to sample some dirt. I was only a little apprehensive about the first mile or so of the single track. Some of those bridges come at you on a weird angle. I felt like I did o.k. for riding it for the first time, but might have liked to get a couple of laps in to guess when to really pick it up for the finish. I think my legs hurt more today than they did on September 2nd! With the season pretty much over for racing I can now settle in on some of the bikes I need to finish around here. I am desperate to paint this old Puch that will end up a fixed gear. It is going to be an homage to Miller beer. Gold paint, green and red accents, and hand cut Miller graphics. And a bottle opener hard wired to the frame. Also, I want to experiment with white tires. I was in contact with a guy through fixed gear gallery who used a certain kind of bonding paint to make his tires white, like the vintage old bikes. I just picked up a Robinhood and a Hercules this morning and they should be interesting for singlespeed projects. Nothing easier than taking parts OFF of a bike to make it cooler! Got an old Freespirit two weeks ago that should be fun, and there are several bikes I have barely touched, just waiting to be re-mobilized! I could go on for ever about ideas I have, so I will spare you ( the single reader who might be reading this) and post bikes as they're in a rolling state. Also, Interbike is on and the pure bike porn that follows is enough to make a guy go blind. Leave me some addresses if you know of good stuff. I usually rely on mtbr and various links from that site.No bike of the week last week, so I will do a double this week. Later! Oh, I am still thinking of riding to Pilot Mound soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

You know you're riding an old bike when...

You go out for a ride and your rear wheel slips out of alignment, and you stop at the first farm you come to and borrow a Crescent wrench to fix it! Nutted axles are old school. You know you're riding that old bike in Iowa when the guy you borrow the wrench from says, "I have a dozen of these, just keep it." That happened to me while riding my 70s Puch single speed yesterday. I went out of town East along the U.P. tracks and turned South, into the wind, at U. Avenue. About 4 miles south of 30 my chain loosened up and bent over one of the teeth on my cog. Broke it off and hoped to soft pedal home but the problem got worse over the next mile or so. This wheel has not slipped in the time and miles I have ridden this bike, so I foolishly trusted it for another ride. So I stopped at the first farm with signs of life and asked to borrow a wrench. Owen Hunter, a cool guy who was playing 50Cent while working on his Morton building, just gives me a wrench to take with me! (One good reason to ride gravel, the people are usually nice.) After tightening the chain line up I rolled off about 6 more miles coming back through Ledges. I rode the hill by Camp Hantessa and made it all the way to the Boone Speedway and "BAM!" the chain broke with a nasty twist to the links. No way I could see to Mc Gyver it so I hoofed it across 30 and home. Two things I took from this ride. One, if your bike is almost as old as you, plan to have a wrench on every ride. One is all you need with these old bikes. Two, don't count on the kindness of strangers, but be thankful for it when you encounter it! Now to pay it forward! Later!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9/11 Ride

Did you go out for a ride on Patriot Day? You know, 9/11!
I did and I took that time to reflect back on the day that it all went down. I rode R. Avenue up to the Boone/Hamilton County line and sat on the top of a hill that overlooks a bit of Iowa that I'll wager few have seen from the seat of a bike. The wind was light, the sky was clear blue, and the grasses were waving at me as if to say, "Come on, ride over this way and see what there is to be seen." So I took the liberty of riding aimlessly. It made me remember that day and the feelings it produced back in 2001. If you're old enough to have a recollection of the day Kennedy was shot, then you already understand why people say you will never forget where you were when you found out. If you're not that old, you now have that same experience. Ride, smile, appreciate, repeat! Later!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Schwinn Something

I don't know for sure what model Schwinn this is because the graphics on the down tube and top tube are completely faded out. I added some Schwinn lettering on the down tubes with vinyl sign lettering to give it some of its heritage back. It does have the head badge and a shop sticker on it, so it's not without some roots.

I picked this bike up on a total whim. I was just coming back to town two years ago from vacation, and saw this bike, and a kids bike, sitting on the parking on Story Street. "$10.00 each" markered onto a cardboard sign. So we get unloaded and Kelli knows I want to go and at least look at it, "Go!" she says. Like a shot I'm out the door, boys in tow, and it's sprinkling a little. So we pull up and it starts to rain pretty hard, but I run over and it looks pretty sad from all kinds of grease build up, some surface rust on the wheels, and the classic 'bars flipped up hippy-style' look.

I'm standing there on the busiest street in town, in the rain, contemplating buying an old Schwinn for fun, and the guy pokes his head out the front door and says, "You can just have that if you want it!" No need to clarify brother! I chuck it in the Volvo before he realizes what he just said, and the boys think I'm stealing it! My 10 year old son, Marshall, is such a stand-up, kid of character guy, that he was beside himself. "You have a problem!" he said! Too funny!
Over time I steel wooled the chrome back to health, added a longer seat post from an old Schwinn exercise bike (it's about 18" long!) clipped and flipped the bars with some bar ends rednecked on for extra hand positions, and added some fenders that I had sitting around. Also trimmed the bottom of the springer seat to give it more of a Flite profile, comfy seat though! I have been riding this one to work this week in the beautiful weather, but tomorrow may necessitate a drive:( Later!

Redneck Tech #1: Dirt Drops

This is a super low tech way to make dirt dropbars out of a pair of old steel road bars. Totally hot rod, back yard tinkering, but cheap is fun! I first saw this technique done on a bike on and emailed the kid who did it. He shot back that he has had no problems with the bars fatiguing or anything, so I figured it would be a cool way to get some decent bars. I have a pair of Salsa Bell Lap bars that I love, but they are taped up and firmly ensconced on my Bianchi single speed. With a dozen or so bikes that I run drop bars on, there's no way I am buying all those pairs of dirt drops! So here you go, and I hope the pictures will match up to the descriptions, this is my second try at this post.

Standard old school drop bars rarely give you more than 40cm on center, drop to drop. Not much for torque when coming up out of the river valleys! Not much for variety of hand positions either. But you have a way around these demons.

Like my old friend Ricky Bobby, everyone has a floor jack sitting around the double-wide, right?

Just position the jack like so, between the stem and end of the drops. Check that there is plenty of contact on all surfaces, and slowly pump some pressure into the jack. Release the tension and measure from the center of the stem to see how you're doing. The bar will relax a bit after the tension is released, so measure with no load on the bar!

Watch this bend right here for pinching. The forces at work on the bar will cause it to pinch at the weakest point, naturally, and this is that point.

Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am! Repeat the process on the other side of the bar and be careful not to go too far with the second side. Take your time and check often with no load on the bar. As you can see, this bar gave up about 2 1/4 " and is now ready for dirt duty! As a bonus on most old bars, the drop is not very deep and may allow you to use the proprietary stem/bar combo from the bike it came off of, without sacrificing handling and/or fit. It works for me, but then I have low standards! *I apologize to Alex Renner, Mike Johnson, and any other engineers who are offended by this post! Later!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Overbite

An old Schwinn that I bought from a former salesman from Redeker's, where I work. Jim Bridges. He told me that he put many miles on it riding to and from work. Not content to leave it in the dirty vintage state that I bought it in, I got crazy after looking at for too long. Took an old Huffy frame and cut it at the top tube/seat tube/seat stay junction and flipped that piece around backwards. I wanted the look of an old board racer Harley, with the bars down low and the seat way back. So I put a star nut in the top tube of the donor piece, and bent the reflector bracket from the Schwinn up. Then ran a bolt through the bracket and into the star nut. Re-locate stem and bars to seat tube of grafted piece, bolt dropouts from grafted piece to original axle, and the front was coming together. Opted to run 2 front brakes since there were 2 mounts, so it has plenty of stopping power with the rear coaster brake too. "Overbite" Hooked the nose of the seat to the original (and firmly rusted-in) seat post and ran a bunch of electric tape around the second seat post to hold it there. Someday I will bolt it in place or use some stainless straps. Not fun to ride for very long, but I am planning to do BRR on it some year. Rode it at a car show/swap meet and got some mixed reactions. Some guys got it and some said it just looked silly. May paint the wheels black too. Always fun, never too serious, the way it should be! Later!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Random Thoughts and Remembrances

I love the 24 hour race if for no other reason than it gives the mind time to open up and let things in, or out, at random.Some of what I can recall thinking about are...
* Squirrel heckling me for laying down. b.t.w. I flipped you off through my car window!
* Seeing leaves on the trail, some light side up, some dark side up, and seeing the perfect camo pattern in them.
* Think I met G-Ted on the trail but not sure. Was he on a green Surly? Single speed for sure!
* Saw more deer in 24 hours this year than I have seen out there in 9 years of lapping that trail!
* Jason Parkin (KCCI) was out there camcordering the camp area.
* Waiting in line for pasta, and Kyle Sedore asks how it's going, and I look dead at Taylor Webb and grunt, "huh?"
* Trying to identify who was out in the night by their tire treads in the mud of the far back hairpin...Maxxis Worm Drives, WTB Nanos, mine from the last lap, What the.. a cross tire? "Sumpter?" and why didn't that ever dry up?
* Cussing the skeeters! Je-sus!
* Saw sneaker-boy's footprint in the dirt.
* Team 14 up most of the night saving that first corner of the pits from sobriety!
* Which came first, "orange" to describe a color, or "orange" as the name of a fruit? Had to be one or the other.
* Why don't computer keyboards have a button that will imprint www. in one keystroke? And another that stamps .com?
* Billy Idol "Dancing with Myself" in my head for 3 hours! "Sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat!!!!!!!!!!!!"
* Carl Buchanan (who doesn't know me from shit) Looking near death on a night lap, and I ask him how it's going. "I'm fucking exhausted!" is all he can get out. Not even with exclamation point, he was that tired.
* Nick Wooley, Smiley, comes through with a long sleeved shirt for me to wear on my first morning lap. Thank You!
There were so many empty thoughts that shot through my head it's amazing. I firmly believe that the body will respond to whatever the mind throws at it, so I don't know how to train my brain to do more next year. Some strong minded fool I turned out to be! Fell free to put your own random thoughts in the comments. LATER! Wish I was racing Sugar Bottom next weekend, but Saturday is planned with my family and I wouldn't miss it!

Monday, September 3, 2007


Well another 24 hours at 7 Oaks has come and gone and I am at the same point I come to every year. After finishing I swear I'll never do it again, and then the next day I realize that I can't wait until next year to do it all over again! I can't complain about my 4th place finish for 24 hour solo, so I will instead start off by saying that Squirrel is just the bikin'est M.F. I know and deserves the win hands down! Carney is a stubborn minded guy from what I know, and would have made it closer, or different, if not for some bad luck! Hi-top/gym shorts guy? Never heard of him before but he killed it! Who saw that coming? Good job kid, and somebody get him some kind of deal on some mountain biking shoes and shorts? Can you say hamburger ass? I bet that kid can! As for myself, I shouldcouldawoulda..... Didn't ride as many laps as I wanted to but am happy to have been able to have the experience again. I shouldn't have been up 'til 1:00 am doing laundry, after having mowed, after having worked all of Friday but compared to the day before that Squirrel had I can't complain! Helped fix the bridge, partied 'til the wee hours, gets up and wins the race? Thanks to ALL of the guys who got that bridge moved back and all of the work that Troy, Ron, Kyle/Kyle and the others did. So I thought I had enough food to get me through, I was wrong, but headed to HyVee for some melon wedges and a few Budweisers. Grab a couple of McD biscuits and headed to the race. I was almost scared when I pulled around the corner to the parking lot and it looked like there was hardly anybody there. Usually it would be full all the way down to the lodge with campers, support and racers, but seemed empty? Oh well, grabbed a spot under the chair lift for easy access, kitted up, ass creamed up (ass cream, you scream, we all need some ass cream) and headed over to sign my release papers. To my surprise my big brother and his wife and son were there! I was happy to have their well wishes and started jawing with my bro, "no we don't get breaks, no it's not on a paved trail, yes there really is 7 miles of trail out there, yes my butt is going to be hurting) and so on. I'm half way waiting for the group photo to be called to attention and laying down the 29er rap to Theron and I hear the tube blow? What the.... Luckily it was premature and I didn't miss the start! So I get in line, continue to see people I thought would show up (Matt Maxwell, Cory Heintz, Paul J. etc.) and now the tube won't pop. Well I felt great on the Po'boy 9er and the first 5 laps peeled off easily. Except for a no-see'em crash at about 4:00pm! I had picked up a hawk's feather on the first set of climbs and stuck it in my stem for some good mojo, only to go down without provocation on the back side! Just got up all dirty and bleeding. Pick up the bike and roll on, but without my water bottle which got launched into the woods. I don't know if the lack of fluids at that particular point contributed to my gut hurting or not, but at 5:00 I could not belch, fart, eat, drink, nothing! My stomach shrunk up like it had been stapled or something! Nothing in, nothing out. Lockdown. So I crawled into my car for 45 minutes to wait it out and heard some red haired fool come past and heckle me, "Get back on your bike old man!" So I got my KHS ready for some laps after I decided to get back out there and realized at the top of the first climb that the fit on that bike was crap! Too long of a stem, too high on the seat, bars too low too. So I lowered the seat about 12 mm and made the best of that lap knowing that I would have to adjust from the 29"wheels back to 26", and that's not the progression you want to make. The 29er set up is clear and away the best of the two. Now I read that someone is pushing an intermediate size? Sounds like marketing to me as I see no need for it other than to get money out of the pockets of people who can't realize the "bigger is better" thinking of 29ing. Anyhow, I knew that I would fair better at night on my KHS as 9 gears are better than 6, hydraulic brakes are easier to feather than straddle wired cantis, and extra laps beat crawling home pissed off! By 11:00 or so I had 9 laps in the books but thought my stomach might be ready for some real food so I opted to chill, change shorts, and jersey, and gloves, and wait for pasta time. I had one bowl and at first felt better, but my stomach still felt like it was the size of a golf ball! I would like to say that Sport Beans may be good for some people, but they were probably a bad choice for me as I think they sat in my gut and festered. Note to self, NO MORE BEANS WHILE RACING. If you knew how I eat, you would understand the absurdity that I felt when I could not eat anything at all. So,unfortunately I caved in and got back in my car, fashioned a pillow out of a towel, and fell stone silent for about 5 hours! Flat on my back in a Volvo hearse! Good thing I don't drive a Cadillac. At that point I didn't care about riding as much as I craved sleep, so off I went. No more "chase the dot through the woods'' for tonight! I woke just in time to take my lights off of my bike and let the scoring table know that I was going back out. I knew that I was over the stomach thing and just wanted to get in 4 more laps to equal what I thought was my total from last year. (I had actually only done 12 last year so I ended up doing 1 better this year.) I had 2 of my morning laps in and Ron DeGeest rolled up and said that I was in 3rd place! What? Not possible, the kid was two up on me when I re-started! He's a clever motivator that Ron! It did put some snap in my legs for awhile though and I thank him for the head games! At 10:00 I knew that all I had to do was get in ONE easy lap and I would be done! Thanks to Troy and Kyle Robinson for believing that I could do 2 laps in that time, but I knew they were kidding when they tried to get me to buy it. They wouldn't give me 'til 1:00 to do it either, end of negotiations! I was relieved to be done, satisfied with 13 laps and 5 hours sleep, and again delighted to see that my brother, mom and dad, wife and kids had all come down to see me finish. Thanks again to all of the organizers, their spouses who support this lunacy, and people in the pit row who yelled out my name on most of my laps! As always, I can't wait to do it again next year! Later! And I hope my butt will put up with 8 hours of bleachers at Super Nationals Modified qualifying Wednesday night!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shadows Fall

Well, no getting around it. The 24 looms and the nerves will inevitably rise. My day at work today was long (12 hours) and boring which did not help. So I am going to try to ease my mind by putting up a few thoughts on the race. First and foremost I am racing this year for FUN! There will be far more people that I know this year than the previous three, thanks for your friendship people! I feel like this will help me feel less like I am suffering through something alone and if I can stay awake past 10 hours I will have support in the knowledge that someone out there is in my corner. A reminder that I will be 42 in October should also serve to ease the anxiety of trying something big. You're only as young, or old, as you think you are, right? The tale will be told from my butt first, as that's what hurts the most round about 3:00am. The hands also have something to say as a little bit of my old friend Arthur is known to hit the hands from time to time. Last year my fingers were "ghost shift/braking" for 5 hours after I stopped racing at about 11:20. Twitching in the thumb and index finger. Another big battle for me, and this one is a bitch, is the guilt I always get for feeling like I'm out there having all this "fun" and ditching my responsibilities as a dad and partner in my marriage. Not that the boys or Kelli care. They'll have their annual movie party and stay up as late as they can at home. Dad who? I guess I can let it go and get over it. But I will not quit racing or trying, and certainly there is a point when I will say, "Hey, this is what you chose to do, get after it you puss!" Once that threshold is stepped over I will be O.K. I just hope it comes at about 1:30 p.m., not 1:30 a.m.! On the technical side of it, I will have my poor man's 29er under me and hope that it ho;ds me through the race. If that fails I will have the KHS in the pits, as well as my GT. Note to self, FLAT KIT IS READY! Last year my lap per hour pace was going great until consecutive flats in the dark blew my head apart and i slept for 6 hours! Not looking for gear problems this year so I am not going to talk about it. Rigged up a redneck tech item today. It is a syringe that I will put chain lube in. Put 10" of tubing onto it and zip tie the syringe to my frame and the end of the tubing to the front der. On the fly lubing of the chain! I could have used this in the last two years as my chain began to dry out and shift performance tapered to crappy at best. No mud this year though, so I may not need it as badly. Kyle Sedore was kind enough to stop in at Redeker's tonight and says that the back section between the bridges may have to be cut out this year as the bigger of the two bridges is about 300 yards down stream and may not be in place at race time. You must respect the work it takes to prepare for this event from the other side of the bars. These guys put in crazy efforts and time to make this happen and deserve all of the respect they can hear from us, so let it out and give these guys a good word when they're around! Expect dry and fast otherwise. I believe that I can do a lap per hour on a shortened course, so I am looking for high teens to twenty for my goal. Something to shoot for. As long as I eat enough I will be fine. If you knew how I eat though you might be amazed at that statement. I eat non-stop and without a plan most days. I am a nervous eater for sure. So I am loaded with convenient food and will not try to go crazy on "power food" or gels and the like. Two years ago I tried noodles, and granola bars, and oatmeal. Great for a Sunday at home, but not so great when you don't feel your hands anymore and can't stop long enough to make a snack. Not worried about that end of it this year, so not to dwell on it here. I can always call Kelli and beg for a Taco Bravo or a Snack Wrap! "Godfather's, do you deliver to Seven Oaks? Sweet!" See you there! Later!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bike Of The Week: GT Avalanche

The bike I've had the longest. It has been through many changes in its lifetime, haven't we all? First raced it bone stock. Rigid, LX brakes, Panaracer Smoke/Dart combo. Then the chi-chi-itis kicked in and many purple anodized parts were to be seen on it. Wow, so many people are running these suspension stems, I should try one! Oh well, that's not for me, but this AMP fork looks cool. Too stiff, no adjustments, look at that RST, it's polished like the frame! Faster with suspension, cool, let's get something off the beaten path and try the Girvin fork. It's polished too, has adjustable preload and angle, and NOBODY runs one around the three state racing scene. What? My frame is pitting or oxidizing or something? Send it out to paint, it's begun to boor me, and not just any paint, Rock Shox Judy Yellow. Including the fork. When I get it back I'll make a sticker for each fork leg that says "SCHMUDY" That will be funny! Judy-Schmudy. Rce it in yellow for a year or two. Single speed? Those guys must be whacked! Nobody can race a bike with no shifters! (Devil on left shoulder) "Cut that stuff off of there. You'll have a blast riding one gear. Maybe someone will mistake you for a bad ass. Just do it. You're not cool if you don't!" O.K. I'll try it. Cut, grind, try, adjust. Wow! It is fun, but 32:16 has worn out. What's another ratio I can try? How about 42:21? same ratio but bigger parts to spread the load and save on replacement costs. Set it up and raced it for a couple of events, including Webster City, Sugar Bottom, Decorah, and Boone, including my last 3 laps of the 24 last year. This year it will be sitting in the pits, waiting to be called up if needed, as it has in the past. Cut the graphics by hand out of vinyl graphic tape (3 color drop shadowed) and added some skulls with lightning bolts on the top tube. One tough bike! Later!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Much Going On

As far as bike riding, I have not been on mine lately. Thought I was all fired up for Sugarbottom, but rain spoiled that too. I have been dealing with the cleanup and recovery from 20" of rainwater in my basement! Also, my wife, Kelli, had double hernia repair last week and is recovering slowly (not her strong hand) but surely. She is "letting" me do laundry and grocery shopping! I will miss it when she's better. Signed up for the 24 hour race at 11:46 Sunday night. Just as my basement was about to flood. An omen perhaps? Hope to hell not, as this race has its history with rain. Not sure of my bike choice but it looks like I will be racing my poor man's 29er, with my GT single speed as backup. My KHS is what I would most like to ride, but the rear brake is not working and I don't know if I can get it to work by race day. We'll have to see. One good biking moment from the last week or so. I was riding to Kum and Go with my seven year old, Mitchell, to get some snacks for movie night. He races ahead and rips off a 15 foot J-skid in some sand, perfect form and corrective steering, and looks over his shoulder at me and says, "That's my skid of the month so far." Gotta love it! Later!

Although you won't find validation for this thought in any parenting books, if your 7 year old begs you to paint flames on his bike, you just might be doing something right!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bike of the Week : Buffalo Soldier

"If you know your history..."

This is a bike that I almost threw away. I almost didn't even take it, but now I'm glad I did. I use a Yahoo group called Freecycle to get bikes for free. It is too cool of a way to get what you want from people who don't want what they have! You simply join the freecycle group in your area and post that you want peoples' old XYZ (in this case BIKES!) and they will respond where they are and what they have. So I got this bike from a lady in Nevada who listed it as a "Nice bike if you know about bikes." So I respond to her post, get the address, and drive to Nevada to pick up the goods. I pull up and there sits a black Huffy with aqua and purple graphics, rusted-ass chain, hard as hell seat, and an old clapped out seat bag. I cuss myself for wasting gas to pick up a pile of scrap metal, throw it in back of the Volvo, and boogie to work. Not until many weeks later did I dig in to this bike and change up a few things. Cut off the graphics with a razor blade. Next the rusty one piece crank was replaced with a 5 spoke that I salvaged off of a dumpster find. Wooled it to a shine, add grease, install. Now for the bars. Flip and clip, stretch some bar ends around them and re-tape with 50 cent hockey stick tape. (I will do a redneck-tech post on this later.) Not minding the reach on the stem, but hating the shifters sitting there, I creatively re-assigned the rear shifter to the seat post and ditched the front shifter since the der. was no longer needed on a single chain ring. Add older, harder black seat, and VOILA, a decent farting -around- on- bike! Just about to toss the old seat bag but had to look inside to see if there was anything in it. To my shock and delight there were the liner notes from a Bob Marley cassette tape in there! Ratted out and barely legible. So I added some Rasta colored tape bands around the bars for the classy touch it needed. Front brake only. Blast to ride, JAH!

"...Then you would know where you're coming from!"