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!