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!