What's the weather like in Doug's neighborhood?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday cheer

Christmas has been a marathon day today. Fortunately we were able to get all preparations out of the way and be in bed ourselves before midnight. We were awakened promptly at about 7:30am and have been unwrapping, building, projecting, and playing since. The kids are thrilled with their toys and being able to fire right into playing with them. I think we went a bit overboard, but we figured that there would be a few Christmas checks in the mail so it would even out.

Pictures on the day:

Some videos up on youtube: search for "brummett"
(I may still be uploading, it takes a while...
Okay, that's all for now. YouTube uploads are terribly slow this evening. I am going to bed.

happy dog:

Faith in her new chair:

Faith's new piano:

Faith likes her tea set:

Austin Rocks:

Another happy dog:

We didn't get our presents to the family out yet. We have a pile of gifts wrapped, but will need to get them off in the mail in the next day or two. Sorry for the delay, but life has a way of making you busy during the holidays and we were taking care of the little one who we have to see face to face Christmas morning first.

In contrast Thank You to those who got presents in the mail to us. Shannon & Family, Steve & Tony, Nancy, and Sue your presents arrived in good order and were accepted in good spirits. You all have done too much. The kids loved it and we feel very thankful for our gifts as well.

Merry Christmas to all!

We love you and are missing your company this Holiday season.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blazing into the Holidays

Time is counting down to Christmas. As stated earlier the brunt of shopping is out of the way. We are about to head out and brave the mall and Target once again for the last of stocking stuffers, Santa pictures, and a haircut for Austin. We will also need to get stocked up for Christmas meals. Just one of the nice things about the family gatherings is that the burden of food preparation falls a little on everyone. I picked up fixings for a green bean casserole the other day and have stocked up on sparkling cider, but otherwise we haven't shopped food yet. Not a big deal as we aren't planning on making cooking a major focus on the day. Neither of us are into cooking a turkey or anything that requires hours of supervision. I think a canned ham, turkey breast, or something along the throw it in the oven for an hour level is where we are at this year.

The closets are stacked with presents. Still need to find time to get the kitchen put together, but that will be a tomorrow afternoon project. Hopefully all of the parts are there.

We will be taking video and hopefully distributing or posting some of it up for family and friends to see. It would be nice to actually put some of that video to good use. As it is most of our video it sitting on miniDV in the cabinet and we haven't been very good about using the camcorder. I think being so far from the family it will be more important to capture some of the holiday fun.

Okay, I am that much of a dork

I am really enjoying having the larger monitor, but Erin can't get used to it. She is still clinging to the laptop. I think I will get a wall mount for it to put it a bit farther back from the user and also a little higher. The computer itself is running well and looks like it is up to the task of 1:supporting the higher resolution monitor and 2:dealing with streaming web and flash content.

Time will tell, but the Windows 2000 OS may not have been the best choice. It works, but most of the new hardware is leaving it unsupported. The Roxio DVD decompressor that I use on the laptop is not backwards compatible with W2K. Most sounds cards also leave W2K behind in favor of XP/Vista. I will say one thing, not having to worry about authorizing the system has been convenient. Not a big deal as I can upgrade to XP later without too much hassle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

T'is the season

Hello all. It has been hard for me to get around to the updates lately. Not really sure why. This has just kind of been a back burner project anyhow. Well, here is the updated scoop.

Erin and I have been scurrying around to do our Christmas shopping. It is a bit of a different atmosphere here in Huntsville. Most people are long done shopping, the shelves are a bit slim, and there isn't a crazy rush at the mall. Weird. Normally we are just getting rolling on the shopping front instead of finishing up. The house is decorated, but not to extremes. The tree does look a bit silly since decorations start about 3" out of Faith's reach. We have some lights strung outside, but again pretty easy display. Christmas should be interesting without all of the running around to family gatherings. Of course we will have to entertain at a higher level to make up for the lacking business.

Erin and the kids have all been fighting one thing or another for the last few weeks. Austin is looking like he does still have some asthma issues due to his preemie arrival, but he is doing a lot better now that he is on some medication targeting it. Faith has been a snot nosed little kid for the last week. She is super cute, but boy is she a stinker. Recently she has taken to arguing and yelling. Good times there. I will have to take some video of that to share.

What have I been up to?
I have crammed in a couple of rides since my flat fiasco a couple of weeks back. I finally got around to checking out some of the trails out on the Arsenal. They are low traffic and a bit of a mess with the Fall leaves and downed trees. Definitely going to require some more scout work, but it does look like lunch rides will be an option again. This weekend I got a short ride in at Monte Sano. I am feeling the effects of not riding much. I am going to have to work on that more. Surprisingly I made a couple of switchbacks and a climb that I have not previously been able to clean. Guess my slower pace was saving energy that is usefull for those sections. The Sultan is still kicking ass. I love that bike. The Raleigh on the other hand is not nearly as much fun as I remember. Guess getting back onto longer travel and suspension has made me soft.

I am just completing some home computer upgrades. With the increased demands of web browsing and streaming content the 10 year old Pentium II 450MHz just couldn't keep up. The Diamond Viper V770 AGP card that Eddie gave has been beyond support for years. The Sony Viao that Rebecca gave us never did work quite right. After many attempts at getting the correct drivers for the proprietary motherboard I tore it apart and yanked the CPU, RAM, and HDD out of it. I took these components and dove into a crash course in computer updating. It was a lot of reading and searching for what would be compatible and what wouldn't. The upgrade required a new motherboard and a new video card. I decided to replace the ATX mid case and monitor while I was at it. The old case has been around since 1997 and the monitor since 2001. Again compatibility was watched as close as possible. Add in some new speakers, keyboard, an extra stick of RAM, and it is a done deal for now.

Here is the outcome:
CPU: P4 2.8GHZ, 533MHz FSB, 512 L2 Cache
Motherboard: MSI 848P Neo-V motherboard, SATA, USB2.0, IDE 133/100/66, socket 478, 800/533MHz FSB, LAN & Audio onboard
ATX mid Case: Antec Sonata III with 500w power supply
Graphics Card: XFX GeForce 6200 256mb, AGP 8X
RAM: 2 x 512MB, PC2700, DDR333
HDD: Maxtor 40GB, don't know where I got it but it works
OS: Windows 2K SP4, I didn't feel like fighting XP authorization any more
Monitor: Acer 22in widescreen LCD, 1680x1050 native
I may snap a picture, but that might just be off the charts for geek points.

Not screaming fast or ultra whistles and bells, but it should get us by for a while. It didn't break the bank and has many features to aid in transition to newer hardware like SATA. The MB is capable of clocking the CPU a bit faster too. The new case is much quieter and cooler. I don't hardly know what to do with all the extra room on the monitor. I would call it a success. I could also blame it somewhat for my distraction from riding and obsessing on bikes. Heck, it is Christmas and I don't even have any bike parts on my wish list. Weird.

I may not post again before Christmas. So if I don't talk to you, have a Merry Christmas. I wish you all the best for the Holiday season.

Oh, and for those who read through all of the MB's and GHz's thanks for reading this far. Eddie is probably the only person who might even care about that stuff. But since I have to claim a success somewhere you guys have to suffer through it ;-)

Monday, December 3, 2007

More extreme

Yep, that's right. Getting my extreme dose of Dew on right here. Just got back from the soda machine. Saw that they had Mountain Dew MDX. Figured what the heck. Wow, it is like they bottled a lime flavored otter pop. Kind of good and kind of not so good. 47g of caffeine and 80g of sugar. If that doesn't get you moving nothing will. Throw in some ginseng, guarana, and other herbals to throw one in the face of redbull.

Okay, enough of that. It's a soda. Big deal.

Weekend riding:
Got out for a quick spin on Sunday. 3 flats, 2 tubes, and 5 patches later I got back to my truck. One more flat and I would have found myself walking out. Sometimes when it rains it pours. I can't remember ever running into this much fuss in a single 2 hour stretch though. I rode about the rockiest sections of trail we have here and I guess that is what I get for it. First flat could be attributed to my new pump. I picked up a new floor pump on the way to ride since I left mine at the shelter Saturday night. Any rate, that one happened about a mile from the trail head. I tossed in a new tube and carried on. Lots of rock crawling and winding around at the Land Trust. I turned and headed down towards 3 caves loop and got my second flat. Another pinch, but with the added bonus of a simultaneous sidewall tear/puncture. So since I know where the flat is I only take part of the tire off and patch the tube. On with the show. I bomb down water line trail and do a loop around three caves. Apparently there are caves and tunnels all under Huntsville. I will have to see what the history is on these. They are big though.

From here I climbed out Alms House trail. It is a very technical climb. Not steep, just rock crawling and careful line selection. I made more of it than last time, but am realizing that some of it just may not be rideable. For my efforts I was rewarded with one over the bars experience, a scratch on the lowers of my new fork, and a ding to the top side of my rim from wedging it in between a couple of boulders. I am going to have to find some newbie rider and torment them with this trail. Up and out I climbed and then I started up Toll Gate trail. Kerplow! Gunshot and instant flat. Guess my hast fixing the last flat just bit me in the ass. Tube number 2 now is split beyond repair. Back to tube number one and some more patches. Fortunately this held back to the truck. Moral of the story, tubeless is good.

Rain threatened, but I got little more than a few droplets sprinkled. The rain/storm weather has been welcome in some respects as it has brought the temperature back up. I didn't need to bust out my new thermal knee or leg warmers. I think it was hovering at about 65deg. Not bad for the beginning of December.

I will post up a family entry later. There is a picture I wanted to post up.

Work is finally starting to pick up to a real world level. Yippee, let the rocket science begin. I am not doing anything too glorious. Mostly updating existing structures for new tests. Trial by fire on structural steel assembly practices. So far so good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kind of slacking on the updates

Honestly not a ton of momentum on the riding front. The weather here has been a bit unpredictable. The new job, church obligations, and family time have all been making riding a bit more of a back burner endeavor than I would like. But life goes on.

I have hooked up with the church's bike shop. So now I have the pleasure of working on huffy, roadmaster, and all other makes of cheap bikes. Gotta keep the less fortunate on 2 wheels right. I spent a couple of hours working in their shop Saturday night. I am still finding cuts on my hands from all of the frayed cables and burred metal on those bikes. It is a neat way to give something back to the community and I am happy to be able to lend a hand.

Thanksgiving was low key for us. We lounged around the house all morning, then went out and caught a movie at a local theater. Surprisingly enough Faith was well mannered and we all enjoyed the show. After the show we took a drive to check some fall colors. We caught dinner at a local buffet, so there was some turkey involved. We think this worked out very well. No dishes, no fuss, everyone enjoyed the day. Happy Turkey Day to us. We did a webcam conference with the family to wish the best to our family in California.

On the webcam front...
If you have webcam and would like to chat, just drop me a line and we can set up something. It is pretty easy, but a bit quirky. Guess you get what you pay for using the free servers of yahoo to host.

Friday and Saturday were dubbed Homers in Huntsville. We had about a dozen riders from around the South and one in from NY who partook in the festivities. Temperatures were cold. It was in the 40's, but with wind chill it felt below freezing. The ice in back of my truck didn't melt all day, so I am going to say it was freezing. Honestly the cold temps weren't too bad for riding. I finally got a ride where my micro-fleece wasn't cooking me alive.

Here is some of the report:
Okay, lots of pictures...

Sean rocking the muffs while hooking up blackagness

blackagness carnage. We were all thinking that he should have brought a turner, didn't even make it out of the parking lot before this minor issue popped up...





Jeff, I forget his UN


Okay, how about some riding and regrouping...

somethingclever behind a shrubery

Jeff sporting some determination

RD on a BLT

Jerry sporting the bhaklava (sp?)

regroup at Warpath

regroup at Warpath

We did some additional photo ops, but the other riders had those well covered on the camera front. Also after we got down to the bottom I started lagging. Not sure what was up, but I was early to tire today and very slow to climb back up the mountain. Something about Monte Sano, 18mi feels like a lot more. I am tired and worthless tonight. Damn glad it is a slacker shuttle tomorrow for me ;) Only thing noteworthy on my ride was a good pedal smack to my shin in the Land Trust. I will live.

Some more ride photos...
Me picking through a rock garden. From the top there is no obvious line.

Me standing at the base of a rock ledge with the group. Mostly pondering how to climb it best. Doesn't look like much, but only 2 of us made it up it.

My rear cleaning the ledge.

A nice view of Monte Sano. Most of the leaves have fallen, but still very nice up this way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Raccoon Mountain, Chattanooga TN

Well, had a descent weekend. Got some work done on the bike, did some shopping, and managed to squeeze in a day trip up to Chattanooga TN.

Trail Details

Steve, Randall, Jeff, RD, and I packed into 2 vehicles and did a caravan from Randall's house to Chattanooga. Drive time is a bit over an hour. Temperatures were in the upper 50s, so it wasn't cold. Trail conditions were good. Gotta watch out for those leaves, they get pretty slick. The trails were a lot of fun, but pretty demanding. Since there is little sustained elevation change there is really no rest. I snapped a few pictures at basically the only rest stop we took as a group. We did stop a few times for 1-2 minute regroup, but not really rest. By the end of the 17mi I was dog tired. Glad I rode this trail system though.

The trail itself can be ridden forward or reverse. We did it oposite of how Steve normally does it. I noticed that a lot of the jumps were going the other direction. Yes, jumps. The trail actually has a lot of jumps and berms carved in for fun factor. Nothing too big, but fun none the less. We stopped and played around on a log ride for a few minutes. Not too narrow or tall, but fun. The trail was fast and flowing in some secitons. Other sections were grueling to keep momentum in. The trail weaves all around in the woods making it quite easy to lose ones self. I looked down for about 30s while about 40 yards back from RD only to lose site of him. After about a half mile of following the direction I thought he took I turned and headed back to where I lost the group and hung for about 5 minutes. I figured from there I could find my way back or at least the group would be able to find me. RD came back around and led me back to the group. I had been on the right trail. Still a bit amazed that the trail weaves enough to lose people that are only a short distance ahead. From there on the trail was much more purposeful and headed in mainly 1 directionback around the mountain and up to the lot.

I found a gnome along the way, so a photo was necessary.

Bottom line...
Fun trails. Would be even more fun if you are conditioned to take advantage of all of the jumps and obstacles.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bogging down

Well, seems like we are settling into things here in Huntsville. Just picked up my first pay check on the new job. That's cool. Good to get on with the pay cycle. Fortunately we really didn't see much of an effect on our finances. It is always a bit sketchy just walking away from a job and getting into another. You kind of end up in a limbo where you don't know for sure when you will see money coming in again. Well, it is a relief. Got paid for a week and got the signing bonus. Bonus is a misnomer since it will likely just cover the expense of COBRA insurance until January 1st when medical through the company kicks on.

I am still squatting out at Teledyne. I am getting to tour some cool facilities and meet some of the team that I will be working with. So far everything looks promising. At this point it looks like there is several years worth of work to do on this rocket and there will be others to follow. Kind of cool to be hooked into the next space transport vehicle. Well, probably more cool once I actually start working. I am feeling pretty good though. I have been able to wade my way through a massive amount of paperwork in the time I have been "working". I was able to get my temporary clearance within 2 weeks. The 2 engineers I am working closely with have taken 3 and 4 weeks to get theirs. I guess a bit of pestering and playing dumb really does expedite things. I think I would go nuts if I was sitting around for 4 weeks with nothing to do. One of the engineers actually sat down and read a GD&T book cover to cover. He doesn't even have internet, so I guess it was more entertaining doing that than staring at the wall.

Riding. What's that. Not getting much time on the bike right now. I get a distinct feeling like I am sneaking off when I am working on or riding my bike. So I haven't been doing much. Just collecting some spare parts and maintenance components. Finally got around to swapping the Gravity Dropper back to the 3" drop. I also re-strung my hydraulic lines. So now I have cables and housing all cut to length for the Sultan. I received my 32t chainring today, so I will swap that out tomorrow. The 36t up front worked for the 26in bike, but turned out to be too steep for the 29er. Not much else to show, but I did end up tooling around for more than 2 hours last night between cutting lines and bleeding the brakes. The Goodridge lines are a lot easier the second time around once you know how they work. I decided to keep the pads I have been running (Galfer semi-metalic in the rear, Shimano resin composite up front). Some people have been saying that mixling 1 composite and 1 sintered is the hot ticket for more power, yet still avoiding brake howl. Maybe after I do a bit more getting used to the bike I will play with that. Overall I am very stoked on the Turner Sultan. Very capable bike both climbing and descending. Only problem I have is that I don't have more time to ride it.

Heading to Chattanooga on Monday. Nice thing about government contract work is that you get the govt. holidays. So a few guys in the SORBA club are heading up to Raccoon Mountain for a day trip. It has been on my list of places to check out, so of course I am in. I will post up some pictures and a report after, so check back.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Time flies...

Well Halloween came and went. Austin was a vampire, Faith Little Red Riding Hood, Erin wore a silly hat and glasses, and I wore a keg hat with a camelback bladder in it. The keg hat proved to be a bit top heavy at first, but got easier to work with as the evening went on. We went around to maybe a dozen houses with another family from Austin's school. Good times had by all. Just the right amount of candy to deal with.

I got out weekend before last to the Bankhead Land Trust. It is located about an hour away from Huntsville. The trails were still a bit on the muddy side, but much smoother than those in town. There are three loops there. We did the closest to the parking lot. I was happy to get out and hit trails that were lacking the rocks I have become accustomed to in Huntsville. When these trails are dry I would imagine they are very fast. As it was they were still some of the best flowing sections of trail in AL that I have sampled.
Some pictures:

This weekend was kind of a bust. We sat around on Saturday trying to make connection with Erin's cousins. That didn't happen, so we headed out and did some additional shopping at ToysRUs. Yesterday we did lunch with John, Mary, and Erin's cousins. Ended up getting home around 3pm. I grabbed my stuff and headed off for a short ride. Decided to hit a lap in Monte Sano. The Sultan gobbled up a couple of trails that have had me a bit sketched on the Raleigh. I was carrying enough speed that I managed to pinch flat my front tire. I have yet to pinch flat my raleigh and was beginning to wonder if pinch flats were possible on a 29er. Well, they are. So I am sitting there changing a tire on the Goat Trail as the daylight fades away. Since I am only about 1/3rd of the way along I turn back and head up Keith's Trail instead of slogging up Goat to Mtn Mist. For the first time since I got the Sultan I am noticing some suspension bob and heavy tire activity. Guess Monte Sano really is just a pain in the but when you are out of shape. I had a good ride and got to the truck just as it was getting too dim to see in the woods. I get home to find my tire is again going flat. Turned out to be a thorn. 2 for Monte Sano, 0 for Doug. Sometimes you are the nail.

Work is kind of stagnant. I am just filling out forms and cruising the net. I guess until my temporary security clearance comes in I am kind of dead in the water. Everyone knows it, so I just do what I can to pass the hours. It has been good in some respects as it has given me time to dig into some stuff like past employer info, birth certificates, etc... I have gone on a couple of tours of the NASA facility. There is some amazing equipment out there. It really blew me away at the sheer scale of operations. They have a tensile/compression facility capable of loading/pulling an entire rocket stage at up to 100 million tons of force. Very cool stuff to geek out on. I have another tour tomorrow to see a scale mock up of the stage of the rocket I will be working on.

Faith will be 2 tomorrow. Yippee, no more nursing. Countdown on daipers. It will be cool to be out of the baby phase. She is really a character and a handfull. She has really started to talk in complete sentences and the things that come out of her mouth are quite funny. She has started to declare anything that she wants, "Thats a mine" or something to that effect. Cute, but going to be trouble for a while.

Erin is now down to her pre-child weight goal. My beer diet hasn't been all it was cracked up to be. Guess you can't slack on it and only drink a beer or two. The key is that you have to drink enough to vomit. Guess I wasn't paying close enough attention...
Going on a diet post

That's about all I got for now. Thanks to everyone for getting me updated contact information for my security documents.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just figures doesn't it

So I get the Sultan together, put in one ride, and the next day it starts raining. Hasn't let up since either. It looks like it will lift tomorrow, but the trails will need a couple days to dry out. I am really looking forward to dialing that bike in. Guess you just can't do anything about the weather. I have a couple of suggestions from the guys in the club for trails that will dry sooner than others. Oh well.

Not much more news on the bike front. I got a Maxxis Crossmark in the mail yesterday. I will be tossing it on the rear of the Raleigh for evaluation. Should be faster rolling. Will have to wait and see if it gives up too much traction. At any rate, first time I think I have been on Maxxis tires in years. I just didn't dig the way the high rollers gripped and they haven't had anything to attract me to their tires. Go figure 29er's would have me on brands and tires that I had written off years ago.

The Raleigh could use some TLC. I think it is about time to overhaul the fork. The hubs sound like crap and the rear axle is bent. It shifts fine and the brakes work, so I just keep riding it. But eventually something will have to give. I have been toying with the notion of offing the frame and wheels in favor of lighter xc stuff. Dropping 3-4lb off my xc rig is nothing to scoff at. Just need to make sure that the wheels stay at least as strong as they currently are. Maybe a spring project, maybe a never gonna happen project. Not sure.

Hitting short timer status here at work. There are still a few people who are catching the news late in the game. But whether they all know it or not Friday will be my last day here at General Products. Monday starts fresh with more new-hire paperwork at Teledyne Brown. From what I here the security clearance isn't that big of a deal, but paperwork for it sucks. Gonna have to see how that all pans out. For those using my work e-mail, STOP IT. Get in touch via my home address:


I will have a new work e-mail on Monday. Eventually, after security screening, I will have yet another address that will be @nasa.gov. Probably best to pull offline though and just use the personal e-mail.

On the home front...
Faith dislocated her elbow on Monday. Least that was the guess we got from the doctor and nurses. During the 2 hour wait Faith was happy, but wouldn't use her arm. Of course about 10 minutes before we are led to the doctors office she apparently rights herself and starts using her arm again. No x-rays and apparently no big deal as Faith is business as usual. Kind of weird, but I guess it is fairly common for toddlers who throw fits and pull away as they are being picked up. We will just need to take care from here on out.

Halloween and Faith's birthday are eminent. Planning has begun for both events. However true to our typical form we will likely be ill prepared for both. We picked up costumes this weekend, so I guess we are at least somewhat set.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend stoke

The Sultan is together. Needs a bit of fine tuning. I want to swap back to the 3" shaft for my Gravity Dropper. The rear hydraulic line is too short. The steerer can be cut a bit shorter. Turner uses long head tubes, so there is no need for spacers. I have 1 5mm spacer under the stem and even that feels a bit high.

The ride report...
Well, it rode like a Sultan. I had taken cruzthepug's Sultan out in the Spring and was really impressed by how well the bike pedaled despite the air pressure being set for someone 20lb lighter than myself. It also rode well despite the layback post and 120mm stem. Needless to say I was excited to see how the same bike would work out setup to my personal preferences.

I am stoked
My build pedals as well as cruzthepug's. Of course the heavierr tires/wheels do make it a bit more downhill oriented. But I was pleased to find that it still climbed very good. Even with the 90mm stem I found no problem with weight distribution. I stopped once to adjust the air pressures, but otherwise was happy running 220 in the rp23 and 15psi in the Fluid135. I was able to get full travel out of both without feeling like I was bobbing down the trail. Riding with the platform on was unnecessary. I tried it in all three settings and honestly don't see a need to run the platform. Pedaling was comfortable and efficient with the platform off.

In comparison to the 26in Ventana X-5 that it replaced...
The Sultan pedals better with less platform. The F135 is much smoother than the RS Pike air fork. The Sultan pedals better out of the saddle. The bigger wheels just mob over the rocky terrain here in AL where the 26in wheels seemed to get caught up a lot easier. Yet again a 29er has changed my perception of ride quality

In comparison to the 29er XC bike...
Yeah, it doesn't have the snappy acceleration of light weight xc tires/wheels. Wheels on the Sultan are noticeably stiffer, track better, and transfer power without any wind up or delay. Rocky trails are point and shoot on the Sultan instead of white knuckle sketchy. Once again I can now trust my bike to handle jumps and drops.

Build spec:
- XL Sultan frameset
- WB Fluid 135 fork
- XT crankset 22/36/bash
- XT front derailleur
- X9 rear derailleur
- X0/X9 shifters
- Saint/XT disc brakes, 8in rotors
- Halo Freedom Disc wheelset, 20mm front, QR rear
- Nevegal/resolution tire combo
- gravity dropper
- Specialized 90mm stem
- Salsa h-bars
- Nisene saddle
- lock-on grips
- PC970 chain
- Weight?? Probably 31lb, feels much lighter than my X-5

I tooled around in the Huntsville Land Trust for a few hours. I had ridden the High Trail before, but the rest of the ride was new territory for me. You can follow my route on the map below. Blocks on the map are about .1mi. I think my total ride was about 12-14mi, but I didn't measure. The toll gate trail is a shale/rock fire road climb. Kind of like riding up a river bed. It was a good warm up and test of how well the Sultan could climb and motor up loose terrain. I stopped and snapped the first pictures of the day at the intersection with High Trail. Once on High Trail I messed with the rear shock air pressure and shock platform. In the end a bit more pressure and platform off are where I left things for the rest of the ride. Much less fuss than I had anticipated. The White Brothers fork performed flawlessly. It is my first WB fork and it was pretty much set and forget. I rolled to the end of High Trail and snapped a few pictures of the bike and trail signage.

I took a brief trip down Waterline Trail. Sketchy for sure. Full pads and full face helmet to tackle that beast. I decided that on the new rig it was best not to even try a trail that steep and technical. So I hiked up and rode out to the top of Bluff Line to take advantage of the full downhill run. I dropped the seat and proceeded onto the most fun trail I have ridden in AL. It had rock gardens, massive amounts of flow, rock ledges, and a couple of small drops. I stopped in a couple of places, snapped pictures, adjusted my bars, and hiked up to do the sections again.

From the bottom of Bluff Line I took Annandale to connect to Waterline a bit below the sketchy stuff. Waterline also was a must see trail. Fast rocky downhill. I was really able to see how my suspension was working on this trail. Here is the bottom of the trail for an idea of what I am talking about...

From here on the story is pretty boring. Lots of very technical terrain. Alms loop had some hike a bike, but a lot of tech climbing thru rocky outcrops. I wouldn't put it on my weekly routine, but it is worth doing sometime. I dropped down Alms Creek trail to find a more appropriate bike flowing trail. Fagan Spring trail proved to be just the ticket. Great singletrack, flowing uphill climb, and beautiful rock outcrops and channels to ride through. At the top I decided that I wasn't dead yet, so I headed out Railroad Trail. Interesting, but more of a hiking trail. It was mostly double track with chunked up granite boulders to ride on. Highlights of the trail are the plaques with history lessons, several bridges over granite gaps, and the scenery.

All and all it was a great break in for the Sultan. I was surprised that I spent very little time fussing with the setup. It really just worked as it was. The chain popped a few times off the bat, but stretched enough on the initial climb to mesh with my cogs and chainrings. So far so good.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday 10/19 Update

Yesterday Erin joined me in the final countdown to 30 years old. That's right we are getting on towards middle age. Erin has been somewhat amused and frightened by this at the same time. She keeps sitting with ladies at church that look her age only to find out that they are 22-24. Kind of weirds her out though to see that her perceived age is closer to 5-6 years younger than she now is. I haven't noticed this myself as most of my newly acquired friends are 30-40.

At any rate we had a casual evening and a dinner of Papa John's pizza. Thin crust and well done was quite good. I got home late from work to find Erin a bit bummed out. Her day had not gone as planned and the kids have been little terrors around the house lately. Her mood improved with time, a kid break, some flowers, and a present ;-) I was able to surprise her with a set of diamond earing studs. I was really at a loss for what to get her when that little voice in my head (you know the one where you hear your wife telling you something) piped up and mentioned that you can't go wrong with jewelery. So I listened and headed off to a store that has been advertising a moving sale. Jewelery isn't cheep, but at 50-70% off it is at least somewhat more palatable.

Her mood was improved to the point that I managed to sneak in a bit of bike wrench time. Got my tires and rotors mounted to the Halo wheels. Mounted the wheels up to the Turner Sultan. I need to mount a chain, install my seat/seat post, dial in the shifting, and secure the dangling cables. A quick stop by the Home Depot on the way home and I should be all set to finish out the build tonight. I should be able to hit the trails in the morning for a shake down ride. As it sits it at least is looking more like a bike.

No riding this week. Too much going on. I will get some more ride stoke up this weekend.

Okay, so I am officially a geek. I picked up a new watch at Costco last week. I didn't think much about it. I just needed a new watch. So I grabbed a G-Shock that they had for $30 figuring it was a decent price. I get home and start reading the manual. This thing has more whistles and bells than my old cell phone. It gets daily updates from the Atomic Clock signal. I knew that by a brief glance at the box when I bought it. What I didn't know is that it also has solar rechargeable battery power. The face of the watch is actually solar cells. Okay, I am impressed. I read further to find that it also has auto illumination. Yeah, that's right just lift it up to your face and the backlight turns on. Major cool geek points. Okay, check it if any of this sounds interesting to you...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I got some wheels

They go clickety clack and all that. Well, got home to my wheels yesterday. No big surprise there. So I launch into build and prep mode to try and get the Sultan together. I mount the cassette and put the rear in the truing stand to true it and tape it. Then I get the idea that I should probably do the front first since I need to use the rear qr to hold it in the stand. So I swap out and give'er a spin. Well crap, big ol ding in the rim. FedEx must have been extremely careful in their transport of my precious cargo. Yeah right, special treatment like drop kicked it off a loading dock.

All is not lost as I have yet to return those 32h hoops, so I can just swap out the rim. Other than an hour of my time it will not slow me down too much. So I get on the phone with Chad over at Red Barn and check to make sure he is down with me doing the swap. He was totally cool about it and was glad that I hadn't returned the other hoops so that we had the option to do as I proposed. Any rate, ended up on the phone with him for a good 20 minutes. He is a cool guy and not just on the bike front.

So I launch into swapping the rim. Deep section rims suck. I made it about 7-8 spokes in and decided to call it a day. I am going to have to thread a spoke into each of the nipples from the outside and guide them out of one rim and into another. Pretty time consuming. Also a few Keystone Ice into the evening my patience just wasn't into it.

It is now dark and I am getting on to thinking about some food. Well, that's about it for Doug's adventures in bike building for the day. You win some, you lose some. Gotta call this one a loss.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekend review

Well, I promised to post up something about an actual ride this weekend. So here it is...

Steve, RD, and I hit the reverse loop of Land Trust, Arrowhead, McKay Hollow. All smiles except for the hike a bike for about a mile straight up McKay Hollow. Knew that would suck on the way in. However the rest of the trail was quite a bit of fun. I am not convinced that it is more or less work one way vs the other. The loop also included riding down cold springs trail which I have been wanting to ride. I had mounted up my Resolution 2.3 tires on Friday. Wanted to give them a test on the familiar platform of the Raleigh. Honestly I was a bit disappointed with their performance. For the additional heft of the tires they were only marginally wider and I found little or no difference in traction. Maybe they need the wider rim to really give them a better foot print and a more open profile. I will run these a bit longer before condemning them, but my initial impression isn't overwhelming.

I started the ride with too much pressure. This is one positive to the resolutions, looks like I can run 5-6psi lower pressure in them. Of course I didn't realize this until we are half way down the gnarliest descent of the morning (along the lines of the final descent on mailboxes, but with more loose rubble mixed in). So I am skating down it and wondering when I am going to bail. Yeah, not if but when. I pull it out and drop some pressure before we cross over into the land trust. More descent after a little grunter of a hill. I think this descent, from Monte Sano to the bottom of the Land Trust, is my favorite. Good mix of technical, speed, and some obstacles to hop over.

The climb out of the Land Trust sucks and is really more of a hike than a bike in portions. Once up we cross over into Monte Sano and connect back in to Natural well back to the start of Arrow Head. I really liked dropping into Arrow Head. Another ear to ear grinning experience. Once down the flat portion of AH and McKay Hollow actually flow much better in this direction. Of course I am running out of steam at this point and Steve has faded off ahead, so the flow was appreciated. RD has dropped back a bit, but he is a trooper and despite me being able to hold him off for a couple of hours he usually passes me in the end and keeps trucking. I guess he is more accustomed to the 3-4 hour rides. We arrive to the bottom of McKay Hollow and dismount for a brisk hike a bike. The trail is difficult to ride down. I can assure you that it is harder to push a bike up though. Once past the worst of it we remount and ride on. Still no sign of Steve, he has been training hard this season and has officially handed RD and I our asses on this ride. I just can't get a spin going after that hike, so I dismount and hike out the rest of the climb. Not sure if it is gearing or being out of shape at this point. As anticipated RD passes me about 200 yards before the top.

I am pooped, so a spin back on Family Trail is all I can do. Even that was tiring. No pictures of the ride. I will take some pictures before too long. Lots of good trails. Hard part about the pictures is that you have to be on a ride where people are okay stopping here and there to take them.

The turner is looking good

My wheels should be here Tuesday, then it will be all business. Will be really nice to have it together. I have tried to be patient with the build, but I do hates me the waiting. I don't know how people do the whole 6 month build and planning for a new bike. That would just drive me nuts. Arrghh

The spare bedroom is still doing double duty as office and bike storage.

Works well enough, but I do long for a garage again. I have rigged up one of our patios with the repair stand and tools hanging on the back of the door, but it is a sorry substitute for a real work shop. Maybe I can get in with the crew at Trail Head and build some bikes for them over the holidays to get my foot in the door for using their shop. Have to see on that one.

Okay, other than bikes...
Looks like our first house guest will be here later this week. My Sister Shannon will be out in GA for training and is willing to drive over to spend the weekend with us. We have missed her and are looking forward to the company.

I will be up to my ears again in new-hire paperwork. Since the new job uses a payroll company they have requested that I take care of all the paperwork in advance of hitting the ground there. So new IRS forms, application documents, background docs, etc. Happy happy joy joy and all that...

Blast from the past. Rodney Lewis finally got back to me. I had called him shortly after arriving in AL. I thought he was living in TN, but apparently he lives about an hour away from us on the Western border of AL. Very cool. We are going to have to get together and catch up. I haven't seen or spoken to him much in about a decade, but I am sure we will pick up somewhere about where we left off. He is expecting his first child within a month and sounds like he is doing very well. When we meet up I will snap a picture for the folks back home in CA to see how Rodney is faring. He said he doesn't ride anything without a motor these days and is big on bass fishing.

We are finding a lot of possible houses for the family. I think we are going to start getting a bit serious on the house search front since we both feel like we do want to stay here. First step will be to see what we can get into price-wise. We are eyeing stuff in the $160-220K range which shouldn't be a problem. Only real snafu is this changing of jobs, so work stability is shot again. We'll see if that turns out to be a problem or not.

All right, that was long winded. Keep safe. Hug the family and friends for us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

News on the AL front

Well, it looks like it will be rocket science from here on out. I have accepted a job offer to work for NASA on the Ares Rocket program. I will be doing more of the same. Lots of fixturing and design work to ramp up for prototypes of rocket parts. I will be working at the Marshall Space Flight Center here in Huntsville. I am a couple of levels of subcontractor deep, but it sounds like my direct report will be a NASA manager. I am looking forward to once again joining a real engineering work group. No more office in a trailer. Hopefully a bit more progressive and up-beat work environment. This last job has been entertaining, but has turned out to be less that it was advertised as. As such I am not really interested in hanging around and hoping that they change their ways. Been there, done that. Not really into doing it again.

I will start into that endeavor right at the end of the month. Should be a lot of work, but very good on a work and also career building level. From what I have seen the job looks to be right on par with a lot of the other work in the Huntsville area so it is a good stepping stone. Depending on how the program rolls out I could even end up out there for quite a while though.

On the Home front we are still busy as ever. Never seems to be time for much. We are involved with a couple of courses/programs at the church. Erin is finally making some girl friends, so she is getting a bit more settled. Austin has been off for Fall Break all week. I think Chuck-E-Cheese was in the plans for today. He has been making friends at school, but Wednesday was the first time since we got here that he had a friend come over to play for the afternoon. That went over great. His pal Jake is of a similar personality and they play very well. Now if we can just pry Faith off the boob and get her a play friend everyone will be set. She has been doing great in her play/bible study group on Sunday mornings. Here she is hanging with another grom at the MSFTF...

But what about the bikes???
Well, unfortunately not much to report there. I haven't ridden in about 2 weeks. My wrist still isn't 100%, but it is feeling well enough to hit the trails again. I am kind of in a waiting for parts funk right now. Add the wrist and a bit of stress with respect to setting up a new job and it is easy to skip the riding. My wheels should be here on next Tuesday. Then I can finally get the Sultan up and running. I have been piecing it together as I have time, but at this point I need some wheels to go any farther with the build. The Avid Flak Jackets went on without issue. Nothing monumental, but I did wince a little as I handed over $50 for cables and housing. My Goodridge stainless line looks to be a bit short. I will make due for now, but will get a new line before too long. I will move this one to the front and put on a new rear line. Derailleurs, shifters, bars, stem, headset were all moot points. Nothing too exciting. Check back Tuesday or Wednesday for a build update.

I will post up a ride report this weekend. Probably going to explore the Land Trust a bit more so I will stop and get a few pictures. Lots of fun stuff on that side of the mountain that I haven't ridden yet. Hopefully I can talk Steve or someone else in the club into joining me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Cool stuff

Not sure if it works or not. Going to have to try it out though ;-)

Edit: 10/11/07
Total BS, doesn't work. We did pick up a dew and try it out, but my inner cynic was right. Nothing in dew makes HO2 and baking soda glow. Bummer, because if it worked like the video it would be awesome. Save your money and drink your dew.

Friday, October 5, 2007

It's the little things

Well, another wonderful Friday here in Alabama. We have been enjoying mid eighties weather all week. Honestly I don't know what I have to show for the week. My Sultan arrived, but sans spokes. My spokes came in yesterday, but then I notice that my 36 hole rims are a few holes shy of matching up to my 36h hubs. Doh!

Chad at Red Barn is a champ. He overnighted the missing spokes to me. When I got a hold of him today he offered to let me use a loaner set of wheels until the 36h rims got in stock at his distributor. When he realized that his loaner set didn't have 20mm front he ordered a set of Halo complete wheels for me to borrow. In the end he said I could keep them for wholesale if that is what I wanted. So despite some confusion he is still hooking me up and I am only out a bit of riding time. Waiting sucks, but life goes on.

No Tuesday ride because I was going to build wheels. No Wednesday ride because of a class we are taking. No Thursday ride because I was going to build wheels. Probably no Friday ride because I am going to install my fork. Probably no Saturday ride because it is a trail work day. That's a lot of not riding. Probably for the best. I managed to tweak my wrist a bit last weekend, so it needed the rest. It didn't hurt while riding it, but was a bit painful to rotate and move in some positions Monday. Makes not riding a bit easier if you are hurt and waiting for parts.

In good news Marzocchi has lit a fire back under their Bomber Girls campaign. Mariela Del Lago at the forefront...

Check out the marzocchi site for more bomber girls and screen savers. Oh, you can also check out their 2008 lineup. That is up now too.

Brent Foes is also taking a swing at sex selling...

I dunno about those, but I might need a new t-shirt...

Or at the least a new set of rotors...

Okay, okay maybe I don't need anything. But for some reason those products just catch my attention. Weird.

Not much else going on. At this point it is work, family time, internet surfing, bikes, and sleep. Lather, rinse, and repeat. and I am out...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Going on a diet

That's right. Found this jewel of a plan out on the internet. Priceless...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's here

Well, after a bit of impatient waiting the Turner Sultan arrived yesterday...

Got the whole box of goodies. Everything looks to be in order, but no spokes. Dang, knew there was too much going on to get it right the first time. Should have split the order and paid for a bit more shipping so that everything would arrive in order.

Initial impressions:
Frame. The welds and construction look to be on par with the Ventana that it replaces. I dig the metal head badge. The monkey who installed the chainstay protector didn't degrease the stay first, so it isn't fully adhered. Faced, chased, and ready for assembly.
Rims. Halo Freedom rims look to be about the same heft as the mavic EX321 that I have been running for the last couple of years when I am not running tubeless rims. So I think with a good build they should hold up fine.
Fork. This thing looks good. The CNC work is very clean. Laser etched graphics. The monkey that works for White Brothers really torqued on the top caps, but it broke free and I was able to confirm that the heavy booster spring had been installed.
So other than a couple of monkeys flinging poo in my general direction things look to be tip top.

Check back in a few days for more info as I build it up and start riding.

Monday, October 1, 2007

MSFTF in review

Well, just coming off of one heck of a weekend. My but is sore and I have random bruises all over. Doesn't sound too good when I describe my outcome that way. The Monte Sano Fat Tire Fest went off this weekend. The guys that did 25-30 miles each day are studs. I put in about 20 miles each day and I am feeling it today. I do think that the weekend was good for adding to my fitness level. I was also happy to find that my legs weren't giving me any problems with the miles. Guess even 2 days a week will eventually start to bring you back to riding condition.

I was able to ride and meet a lot of good people. I also put some faces to the names over on MTBR. It is kind of funny how you end up talking to people online and sometimes never actually meet them. Online personality is hardly ever the same as real life.

Saturday I ran sweep for the Intermediate ride. We put in about 16mi. Headed down McKay Hollow, Arrowhead, into the Land Trust, up Bankhead, and half of the observatory loop. Good loop. I hadn't been over into the Land Trust before. It was nice and of course similar trails to Monte Sano. I was amused by how many over the bars experiences went on going down McKay Hollow. I knew it was a tough trail, but I was seeing a lot of bikes flying up in the air without riders. Kind of a reality check to see people a bit less used to the aggressive trails and how they fare. Once we got back I grabbed a couple of beers and hung out. Then came the games. I helped some of the other club members put on the games. I received my only injury of the weekend in the Huffy toss. Stupid bike had a sharp edge that took some of me with it when I hurled it. Then came the poker run. I needed to put in an extra 5-6mi right. My hand sucked. I ended up with a pair of 2s.

Sunday was more of the same. We headed out family trail. Then the group split as I lead a few guys down Warpath ridge (remember that white knuckle trail I mentioned last week). Well, I cleaned the gnarly section of the trail only to be foiled by my xc wheels/tires. A couple of bad bounces off of loose rocks and I was shot right off the trail. I go over the bars and hug a tree as my exit strategy. Worked pretty good, but I had enough momentum to swing around the tree like Tarzan. No harm no foul. I remount and carry on. Down to Flat Rock trail. I was feeling the miles from Saturday as we weaved through the woods, but was feeling better at the top of the climb out of the bottom. So a few of us headed off to grab a few more miles on dirt instead of heading pavement back to the event center. We rode Mountain Mist and Family trail. By the time we got back people had already been clearing out. I grabbed a couple of beers and kicked back. Ended up helping clean up with the club before packing it in for the day.

On a positive note I did end up clearing out my pile of 26in tires. Granted I didn't get as much money as sending them off to the 4 corners of the earth through e-bay, but I also didn't have to ship them. So I think it works out about even and I walked with some cash to offset any of the expense of the weekend.

Other than the fest I put in about 16 hours of work on my report for the MSL project. I think I am done. I am feeling pretty burned out this morning. Basically they would have to offer me a lot of money to motivate me to give up any more of my free time. Just feels like I have been scrambling between rides, work, more work, eating, and lastly a little bit of sleep. I'm pooped.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday update

Cramming for finals. Yep, that's what I am all about. Stayed up until 2am yesterday cranking out report sections for the MSL project. I have been contracted by Oxford to finish up the last of this portion of the project. Pay is good, but the hours suck. I was basically given 1-1/2 days to update and generate all report sections that I was responsible for during the project. It is kind of cool to follow up, but also kind of a challenge to wrap myself around it all after a couple of months out of it. Today promises to be another long day.

Well at the very minimum I have the Fat Tire Fest to look forward to:
MSFTF Information

I am leading a couple of intermediate rides. Probably running the sweeper position. Seems to be my normal position on group xc rides anyhow. Two days of full mtb fun and games with no spousal time restrictions ;-) Hopefully Erin and the kids will come by and hang out too. I think that there is entertainment for all this weekend.

No Wednesday ride this week, but I did get in a good ride on Tuesday. I have been hitting some of the trails in reverse and checking out new routes. The group rides seem to stick to familiar routes, so it is nice to break away and do some scouting. I ended up riding out and around the Observatory loop, down Sinks the steep section, up Mountain mist, up to O'Shaunhessy Point, down Warpath Ridge, around Goat Trail to 3 benches, then straight up Sinks Trail to the parking lot. Warpath ridge was a hoot. I can't wait to blast down it on the Turner. As it was on the Raleigh it was a white knuckle experience. Faith absconded with one of my gloves, so I ended up riding without gloves. I am not a fan of it since my hands sweat and I end up clinging onto the slippery grips for dear life on the rocky descents. Overall I really enjoyed this convoluted loop. Only real excitement of the afternoon came when I busted my chain. Fortunately is caught up in the derailleur instead of snapping clean and sending a knee into the stem or worse. A few minutes trail side and all was well with the addition of a power link. Always keep one in the pack.

Monte Sano Map

So after the chain business I have grease and sweat on my bare hands. Great combo. Fortunately it is all uphill to finish out the ride. Boy never thought I would say that. I took a mellow pace and really wasn't worked over by the ride. Nice to do a Doug paced ride. I have been clinging onto group rides and getting a bit worked over with the xc pace.

Well, that is the only excitement of the week. Just too much work and not enough play. So it goes sometimes. Gotta keep the lights on and the high speed connected up in here. Keep the rubber side down...

Check out the Interbike blogs if you get a chance. Here are a few to get you started.
Bike Magic
Sedrik Vomir rocks, check the Superbowl entry
That should keep you busy for a while.

Checked out Eddie and Skye's Blog. It is cool. Nice to see the family. I miss Eddie.

I'm out ;-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oldie but goodie

Came across this while wasting time at youtube. I have seen it before, but it is classic.

Wah, no Turner for you Doug

Okay, faked out by the tracking system. Shipping label was printed Friday, but the box wasn't picked up until yesterday. So the updated ETA is prolly 10/1/07. Oh well, work to do and the Fat Tire Fest is this weekend.


Mad trials skillz...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday news

Arrived into the office(errr trailer) this morning. Yes, if I hadn't mentioned it yet my office is in a doublewide trailer. If that isn't stereotypical, comical, and just plain wrong I don't know what is. So come to Alabama where you can engineer high tech products in a trailer. I am sure Jeff Foxworthy has a couple of jokes on this topic.

Anyhow, back to what I was starting to say. Got in and checked the e-mail to find this little gem waiting...

So it looks like I may actually have a box of goodies show up today. Of course I am not really ready for them. Heck, I didn't even think that Chad had received the rims yet so it is a bit of a shock to even be caught like this. It would be nice to get it on the trails by the weekend, but I am not sure that I can manage that. At a bare minimum I would need to lace up the front wheel, install headset/fork, and cable the bike. This stuff was much easier when Mike was just down the street. I miss Mike and the shop.

I finished anchoring the park stand to my patio yesterday, but that is about the only prep work I have laid down to take care of the above mentioned work. Okay, more to come once things are in hand. Check back.

a couple of beer thoughts:

Not sure I condone or agree with all of the above, but some of it gave me a chuckle so I figured I would share.

In case you live in a cave...
Interbike 2007 has started. Check the mtbr site for details. There should be a bunch of geeking out on dirt demo for the next couple of days before the indoor expo kicks off. It really doesn't seem like a year since the last time this came around. Guess with the release of new stuff at the Sea Otter we get a bit of a taste half way through the year. Anyhow, check it out if you are seeking the latest and greatest. Avoid it if you are clinging onto your functional equipment and not in need of anything fancy or new ;-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend review

Nice weather around these parts. The humidity still has me sweating a bit much when I am busy, but I will take the 80-90 degree temperatures.

Got the Maxxis Ignitor mounted up on the Raleigh. I decided to check it out in the front. I can pretty much get used to anything out back on the bike. But I am kind of particular when it comes to the front end steering and handling. Size matched up about tit for tat with the Bontrager Jones ACX. I put the ACX on the rear. I notice that it squirms a bit more than the XR I was running. The Ignitor has a more rounded profile, but for all intents and purposes performed just as well as the ACX. So I was pretty stoked on that because I have come to like that tire other than knob height and side knob width. The Ignitor addressed both of my complaints and looks like it will have a home on the front of the Raleigh for a while.

My Specialized Resolution 2.3 tires came in. Got my hands on some of the last to come out of Specialized. Guess that someone decided to shit can the tire this year despite its popularity. Typical Specialized form. You are gonna love our new tires, BTW we have discontinued your favorite tire so you really have no choice but to try the new stuff. I don't really get the logic at the big S. The mold is paid for and tires are doing well. Why discontinue them. Gonna get some use out of the ones I picked up, but will probably jump off the big S tire bandwaggon to a more predictable manufacturer.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours this weekend. I rode mainly upper trails at Monte Sano. Good to get a lap in. Hopefully I can spin some more miles this week. Mounted up some peg board in the patio shed and mounted the work stand to the concrete to have a spot to wrench. Hopefully it works out to be well enough for now. I really don't want to be lugging around the 100+lb base for the stand and I don't feel like dropping $200 on a portable stand.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More fun than a barrel 'O monkeys

Okay, not really. Just slugging through another week. No riding for me. Wednesday came and I just wasn't feeling it. My rear tire was still flat. Work has been a bit busy. I have been putting in 9-10 hour days this week to try and finish my project by the end of the month. Kids have been sick this week. Not a big deal, just fevers and wining.

I heard on the radio this morning that one of the local markets is selling a tasty "3 Beaner Pasta Salad". I kid you not. In CA that might be offensive to some. Here it isn't even a thought. In other "offensive" news Ludacris dropped the N-bomb on a crowd at a Martin Luther King event. Awesome, little bit of a no-no given the occasion.

I mentioned using super strut last week for a bike rack. Well, here is another application. Guy is selling super strut truing stands on e-bay for $50. Probably pretty stable and functional.

Speaking of racks, get your heads out of the gutter, I found this cool little concept while doing a google image search for rack ideas. Euro Auto company Opel has engineered a really cool hideaway bike rack for their SUV. Check this thing out...

I have all my bits on order for the new/old rig to finish the conversion from the Ventana to my new Turner Sultan frame. Other than a pile of tires and a couple of rims I have cleared out my 26in specific components. Now I wait...

Got a quick fix yesterday. Stopped by Trail Head to have Tommy pull the crown race off my fork so I could ship it off to Ireland. Trail Head is a cool shop. I have gone in there a few times and met Tommy while out riding in Monte Sano. They removed the HS cups from the Ventana and set me up with a bike box last week. He also hooked me up with some axle washers. I keep trying to give him money for these little favors, but he seems just happy to see me. So I broke down and bought some tires from him to get some cash flowing into the shop in appreciation of his help. Mounted up a Maxxis Ignitor 29x2.1 on front of the Raleigh last night. Looks good and measures out about the same as the Bontrager Jones ACX 2.2 I have been running. Feels like it will roll a bit better and has a more rounded profile so might not catch rocks as much on Goat and Mtn Mist. I moved the ACX to the rear to give a bit more cushion and traction over the XR that I have been using. The Bontrager XR turned out to be a pretty good rear tire. It rolls almost as well as the kenda karma1.9, but has more volume and climbing grip. I think it will be my rear race tire when I get froggy for XC. The Raleigh is holding up well and is ready to get in a couple of rides this weekend.

Get out and ride this weekend. Keep the rubber side down. Good luck to you guys racing in CX and Humboldt this weekend.

and I am out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Monday update

Yeah, I know that it is Tuesday. Just didn't get around to writing anything up yesterday.

The Ventana, we had a pretty good run. In the end though I just never bonded with the frame. The combination of high bottom bracket and steep seat tube just left me feeling way too high over the bike. It didn't have that confidence inspiring feel. Only time that it felt really good was when the saddle was dropped and I was ripping singletrack downhill. Honestly the whole project has been a bit of a disappointment. The bike didn't work well with a long travel fork and even with a shorter fork it wasn't the best balance. I could console myself knowing that I had been able to ride a quality bike, but with the issues I had along the way I can't even recommend the brand to others as the end all in quality. My experience was otherwise. Sherwood at Ventana is a stand-up guy, but for a $2K frameset I think it should have been better. A parting shot before I tore it down...

10lb of shit in a 5lb box. Yep, broke the frame down to the bare essentials and fit it into 2 boxes capable of being shipped International Express mail.

I started with this (note, the frame fits nicely in this box complete)

Austin is a crack up. He found that ghost bag and hooked it up to Poppy's leash. He then put on a ghost show for us by hiding behind the box and making scary sounds while dragging the ghost around the box fron with the leash.

I wrestled with the box for a while and eventually got everything crammed into this...

If you look close at the previous image you will note the emblem for size reference. The front triangle by itself fills a box up to the International size restriction. I get to see this afternoon if there is any issue when I go to mail it off. These 2 boxes are headed to Russia. That's right, a very excited buyer in Russia snagged it up off e-bay.

I have been reading up on the various 29er full suspension bikes, but in the end decided to go with a Turner. They seem to have it together. I also want to check out the bushing rear suspension to see how that holds up. Should be better out this way than bearings since we do get a bit of rain and mud out here. As of last week I am officially a Homer (that's how the Turner guys over on mtbr refer to themselves)

No "upgrades" this time around. Just hook me up with a stock size and a stock color thank you. Chad over at Red Barn Bicycles hooked me up with a pretty sweet deal. His price on the frame was over a hundred bucks less than anywhere else on the net. I also hit him up for that White Brothers fork. Also a good deal there. While we are at it I needed some new hoops to complete the build/swap. Out the door it was a chunk of change, but with the proceeds from ditching my 26in stuff I was only out a few hundred. That is acceptable for me and the Mrs.

Again, check out Red Barn Bicycles for great prices on the latest in components. There are a few shops like this one on the net now. I think it is a pretty cool gig. Basically the guys typically have a store front, but they also deal in exotic/boutique frames(Intense, Ventana, Turner, Independent Fabrication, Merlin, etc). They don't make full pop on the stuff, but they do move a lot more cool and high end stuff through their shops. They get to check out the newest stuff without having to worry about it sitting on the shelf. And they get a reputation as being good guys to deal with online. They aren't megastores like Jensen or Performance. Prices aren't listed. Basically no window shopping. You tell the guy what you want and he will tell you his price. It will usually blow the megastores price out of the water. And you get to feel good about putting a few bucks into the pocket of the small shop.

So now I wait for parts to come in. I will be breaking down my saint wheels and lacing them to a set of robust 29er rims. Eventually I would like to pick up a lighter set of 29er wheels for xc days. But for now I have the Saint hubs, they are good quality, and they are not worth much on the open market so I might as well get some more use out of them. Lace them to a set of these beauties

and throw a set of 29in x 2.3in tires. What you got there is some serious traction. I have been impressed with 29ers up until now only riding xc tires. I can't wait to see how awesome the grip is with a more substantial tire mounted up. Looks like the 29er tire selection is going to get a big boost this year. Panaracer, WTB, Hutchinson, and Scwalbe all have big volume tires coming to market this fall. Now you have some real choice in the 29er tire market.

If you have some time to waste, the Eurobike photos are out. Lots of cool stuff. Kelly's again had half naked ladies painted up and on display. Errr I mean displaying Kelly's Bikes. Since this is a family site I censored (sorry guys)

Haven't posted up on riding last week, but I was able to get out for a couple of good rides. Rode a couple of new routes in Monte Sano. I am finally starting to feel like I can ride again. I am still getting left in the dust on the climbs, but I am catching up much faster at rest stops. I did have a major blowout on Saturday, but it was my fault. Got a bit happy on a 2' off camber drop and wasn't running enough pressure, so my rear tire came unseated. End result was a gun shot loud blowout and a shredded tube. No big deal and it was only a couple hundred yards from the parking lot at rides end. So I walked it out. The weather here has finally chilled out a bit. Currently it is very similar to Santa Cruz weather.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Without further Adieu

Okay, promised this a while ago. Here is the virtual tour of our apartment...

The entryway/front door:

The Master Bedroom:

Laundy Closet:


Kids Room:

Kids Bathroom:


the Hall:

The Living Room:

Veiw from the back yard:

Okay, we didn't clean much. This is about the level of mess that we live in. Sometime it is cleaner. Sometimes it is worse. But overall this is a good depiction of the apartment we are living in. It isn't perfect, but it is very comfortable. The kids are happy to run around on the green belt in back or just hang out on one of the patios. We are settling in, but still struggling with buying a place in the not too distant future.