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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Throw up the horns

Well, Friday has once again graced us with its presence. I guess I am a week behind, but I never made any promise about timely updates. So here it goes.

I have been riding and tinkering with the 29er all week. I think that about Wednesday I finally got it. All of the sudden the slightly odd steering became undetectable to me. I am still trying to figure out if this is placebo or what, but it sure feels like I am able to carry more speed through the same single track. Only exception has been the rough stuff, where the hard tail chatters and loses traction. Very fun ride at this point. Only problem I am having is the focking seat post is slipping in the frame. Guess I need to throw on one of those ugly surly constrictors to put a stop to that.

Wednesday included the first double day of the season. Got in a lap on my lunch and then 2 laps after work. My legs were very tired yesterday, but I got out and did another loop. Nothing monumental, only hitting 1-1.5 hour loops, but I gotta take what I can get.

Looks like everyone is finally healthy again at our house. That is a good start. Faith has really begun to pick up a lot more vocabulary lately. She is pretty funny if you can catch what she is jabbering on about. She is officially walking and running as her full time mode of transportation. Oddly enough, this kid who was in the 95% for weight has slimmed down to about the 20th percentile. Now the doctors want us to try and fatten her up a bit. We are more into balanced diet, and maybe a few more meals a day for the time. Doctors recommended butter and mayo on everything. And you wonder why our nation has an obesity problem?

What is going on this weekend??
- Jon gets another year older. Congrats on the new place Jon & Jaime!
- Bogg's Demo 8hr relay race
- CCCX XC at Toro
- Doug working at SV Cyclesport all weekend
- High likelihood of Doug on a 29er in the SC mountains Sunday morning or Saturday evening. Anyone else want to ride?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lil bit more 29er talk

Put it on the scale yesterday. Came in at 29.4lb. Not too bad. If I guess that the XL weighed in at .5lb more than the large (total of 31.5lb) then my tinkering thus far has dropped about 2lb. Best part of that is that most of it was rotational.

I got a quick lap in yesterday. Jones ACX tires are a bit sketchy on loose sand. Climbing traction was about the same as the exiwolfs. I did clean a climb that I have only done once this year successfully on my Ventana (and it was actually raining, so the sand was laid down). Yesterday the combo of big tire and xc geometry made the task fairly easy. One thing I am noticing on the 29er wheel is that it has the ability to transform sketchy xc tires into decent performers. Kind of weird because on my 26er these tires would be the suck.

So what is the down side?
Looks like it takes more to change speed and direction with these big wheels. While pedaling it feels like I am pushing my all mountain tires when I try to accelerate. Best bet is to find a cadence and stick with it for efficiency.
Another oddity is the gear range. The standard 22-32-44 feels a bit odd. Due to the larger tire you are constantly pushing a higher gear. I haven't really found my comfort gears yet.

So what sucks about the bike?
Not much so far. The 120mm EA30 stem is flexy (gonna have to get a thomson on there). Cable actuated discs suck (little if any modulation). Cross Country geometry is not my favorite, but this is a purpose built bike for XC races and rides so nothing to really complain about there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

About that 29er

After the initial ride I had a couple of items that I wanted to fiddle with. Guess I just can't get away from myself. So off to see Mike and the boys. No Mike today, but there were a couple of items hanging around that I needed. A little digging in my scrap bins provided the rest. I think that I have dropped about as much weight off the bike as I can without getting into $$.

- Swapped out the WTB saddle (heavy, looked comfy but wasn't)
- Swapped out the seat post for an FSA that was a touch longer
- Ditched the steel chainrings for some shimano alloy (I just love having to take a dremmel to a new set of cranks to make aftermarket chainrings fit once again SRAM proves that they should leave the cranks to Shimano)
- Pulled off the steel bead exiwolf 2.3 in favor of some Bontrager Jones 2.2 (savings of about 300g/wheel but they are about .2" narrower)
- Got me some wider bars (about 2" wider than the stock bars)

I am going to have to swing by the shop and put it on the scale, but I would guess it is still hovering at just over 30lb. Not bad for a clydesdale XC build, but it is about as heavy as some peoples 5" trail bikes. Oh well, gotta remember that I don't like them sub 25lb bikes anyways (too skittish on the trail). I will get some additional thoughts up on the ride once I get a bit more saddle time. Stay tuned.

Sea Otter MTBR Pre-ride, April 7th

Mark it on your calendars! This is one of the most fun group rides of the year and a great way to meet some of the other norcal MTBR geeks. Ride, BBQ, and Beer.

MTBR Announcement

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's new, it's big, it's black, it's shiny...

and no, I didn't download it from any questionable website...

The Raleigh XXIX +G has arrived!

I had to throw some personal touches on it right out of the gate, but also wanted to get a feel for what the stock bike has to offer. Hey, it may only be $1200 but inquiring minds may want to know. Out of necessity I immediately swapped to 180mm rotors that I had hanging around. Other swaps from my parts bin included X7 shifters(instead of the SX5), an XT front derailleur (instead of the Deore), and a black S7 rear derailleur (instead of the silver one, just had to keep with the red/black theme). No bling, mostly lateral swaps other than the rotors. The most important part of these swaps/upgrades was to make sure that they cost me nothing out of pocket. Check.

So what do I think of 29ers after a short ride in the park...
1) This thing accelerates about the same as my 6/6 bike with 2.4 tires
2) Once going it holds speed well, better than the 26 wheels for sure.
3) Cable discs are not as great as hydros, but their redemption comes in their ability to be setup drag free with little fussing.
4) Steering is definitely going to take a few rides to get used to, the 29er coupled with the 80mm travel has a lack of response at first and then dives too hard once it gets going. It is an interesting phenomena to say the least
5) Climbing and off camber grip is downright awe inspiring There is something to be said for that larger contact patch of the 29er tire.
6) XC bike geometry is dangerous on the same trails that you ride your 6/6 rig on
7) The flex is there, but the 22" XL size seems to be stiffer than the L frame and honestly I have had worse flex out of more chi-chi frames. Not as bad as I had feared, so that was a relief.
8) Bigger wheels do roll better over obstacles
9) If this is to be the xc rig then some lighter tires will be in order (or on order shortly as the case may be)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traction, it's the little things

Well, so it is raining lightly this morning. Glad I squeezed in a short ride on the Ventana yesterday. I saw the clouds rolling in and despite my lack of motivation an North Coast brews calling to me from the fridge I broke free for a couple of laps around the hood. Despite it being fairly dry the sandstone is still desceptibly slick. I guess the rain isn't going to help that. But looking at the forecast (if it is correct) we have yet again been blessed with another batch of liquid traction. Just enough water to lay the dust down without turning the joint into a mud pit. Good, because I just finished getting the ventana cleaned back up from my last mud rides. Tomorrow and Thursday should be sick. Get out and ride!

I picked up a couple of goodies for the road bike this weekend. Used Bontrager 2pc cranks, FSA external bearing BB, and a set of red compound brake pads. The cranks may be a hit or miss, not sure yet. They apparently have not been spaced appropriately and shifted poorly on the trek road bike that they came stock on. I am hoping since I have an 8spd drivetrain that the wider chain won't mind the slight error in chain ring spacing. The pads are a test to see if I can get a bit more power for slowing my 200lb+ down when riding the skinny tires. It is amazing that road brakes are all the same despite the riders being 100-300lb and having quite different braking needs. Gonna throw the roadie in the stand this week and give it a good once over.

Other wrenching this week should include assembly of the new steed. Should be here in the next day or two according to the people I spoke with at Raleigh. I am excited to see it. I am also excited to have a bike that doesn't have 4000 grams of tire/wheel to chug up the hills. Check back for updates on this.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Week in review

Overall a good week for me. Not as much riding as I would like, but I gotta take what I can get. Couple of short rides so far. Just a road lap early in the week and a short lap out in the Wilder area. I did get a chance to ride a trail that I have been hearing about. It was cool in some sense, but it really just made me feel like it shouldn't be there. It was poorly constructed into the steep side of the hill with little chance of surviving the elements (or rider abuse) for more than a season. It had some jumps and drops with steep terrain that gave a sense of accomplishment to ride but my inner tree hugger just wasn't into it.

The Ventana is torn down in the stand. I figure it should get a little TLC. I have been riding it rain or shine since I got it. For the last month the rear brake has been dragging a bit. I am sure both wheels could use a true. Also the chain was prime for a cleaning and relube. So I got a few hours to put in tonight I guess in order to ride this weekend. The saga of the modified triple is over. Stick a fork in it. On my Wednesday ride it was getting caught in my hand carved ramps. So back to the 22-36-bash for a bit longer. Black Spire should have a 38t ramped and pinned ring in a couple of months, then I can run a 24-38-bash and be happy.

The road bike could use some love too. I am actually amazed by it. Sure it doesn't have any bling components, but it just works. I have had it built up for about 2 years and have done little more than swap a seat post and change a couple of flats. Granted I would like to put a new groupo on it, but that has always taken a back seat to other projects. And she just keeps rolling. The 8 speed drivetrain is flawless. So I guess I can tear it down and give it a quick tune up. But otherwise lube her up and she is good to go for another couple years.

Kids are sick again. Preschool is like one giant petri dish. I guess it is good for building the kids immunities up, but sometimes it is just one thing after another. More doctor's visits all around. Whoopie!

What's going on this weekend??

- Trail Head Cyclery is doing demo rides at the demo 9-3 Saturday and Sunday.
Check their site for more details.

- Weather looks good, so I am likely to find some time to ride in there. Give me a call if you want to hook up for a spin.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I have been kicking around about what to do for XC riding this season. Over the last 5-6 months I have sold off anything that was XC in my stable. These liquidated bikes and items went to property taxes, household expenses, and to funding new parts on the Ventana. So here it is with Spring creeping into view and me with no XC rig. One thing is clear, the Mrs. isn't down with me getting anything off the top shelf this year. I guess it is understandable after the Ventana last summer.

My search for a new xc bike was really driven by what Scotts Valley Cyclesport could get for me. What can I say, Mike and the boys hook a brotha up so I gotta roll what they can get in the shop. With a budget of next to nothing my choices are limited to another Rockhopper (I rode a Pro disc last year) and a Raleigh XXIX +G (a 29er as the name implies). Of the two the Raleigh is predominantly more of an XC rig. I have also been wanting to get out on a 29er for quite a while to see what all the buzz is about.

So yesterday I placed my order. It should be in my hands by the end of the month if all goes well. Only concerns I have are weight (the large came in at 31lb on the shop scale) and a bit of flex in the frame. For the intended use I think that the flex will be fine. The weight is going to take a bit of work, but I think with a couple of quick and cheap changes (lighter tires, seat, h-bars) it could be dropped down to a more respectable 27-28lb. Look forward to updates on this once I get it in hand. I am fairly excited to have a 29er in the stable for evaluation, so I am sure I will blab about it once I have some saddle time.

FWIW it should look something like this
(bigger of course since mine will be an XL)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Regarding Henry Cowell...

I have had a couple of online content police give me shit about talking unmentionable trails. Honestly I am very conscious of what names I do or don't use to describe the trails that I ride. But for some sticklers this isn't enough. There is to be no mention of trails that are illegal. Apparently their female parts tingle if you even elude to trails that aren't on the Krebb's map. Fuck em.

That said Henry Cowell Redwoods does have several trails that are legal for bicycle riding. Check it.

HC Site

Nothing major in terms of great singletrack, but legal trails none the less.

For the sake of not hearing the aforementioned people bitch I will censor my ride reports to the point where you might have to call and ask me where I actually rode.


Monday, March 12, 2007

DST and Weather

Okay, everyone should have sprung forward yesterday. But in case you forgot, here is the last reminder. Now we can ride in the Bay Area until about 7:30pm before it gets too dark to see without a light.

That's what I am talking about. Good weather looks like it will continue through the week. Not only dst, but great weather and dry trails to boot. It is like someone is giving a little hint that we should all be out riding our bikes.

Sacramento was chill this weekend. I have seen enough tattoos, kids, and pregnant women for the month after visiting the zoo, funderland, and the park in the 2 days we were there. Temperatures were perfect. Lots of sun. Quite a few beers too.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Week in review

It has been a fairly busy week.

Saturday I hit up the NAHBS. It is one of the coolest events I go to during the year. Of course I really can't afford anything other than pint glasses and beanies. It is still great to go and drool over the hand crafted works of art. Word was that I might be meeting up with Eddie, but the bugger wasn't answering his phone and we ended up missing each other. I miss Eddie. Gonna have to catch up with him another day.
Check out the gallery over at MTBR. Not quite as good as in person, but it will have to do if you missed the show.

Work has been a bit busy lately since our NASA project was re-scoped. I really love honing in on a moving target only to have it placed a couple of months farther out and way to the right. Oh well, life will go on and for now I'm getting paid so not too much to complain about.

Tuesday I was able to sneak in a Henry Cowel run. Bear Mountain is drying out nicely, but it is still very slow rolling. Felt good just to be out riding the bike. The front shifting is working fairly well. I still need to give it a little tweak, but for now it is a bit of rubbing in a couple of gears. Brakes held quiet and all the nameless trails were in good shape. I ended up pushing into dusk, but I did have my light with me. I blindly made it out of the woods, but stopped to install the light before I got run over by a car.

I finally got a hair cut. Feels good to not be so shaggy. No clippers though, so that was interesting. I don't think that I have had a scissor only cut since I was about 7. But Erin wanted me to leave it a bit longer for now. No mug shot sorry.

Yesterday I cut out of work with enough time to hit the UC trails. I ran into the Harbor High MTB Team. Guess their coaches have them doing hill climbs up Yukon. I should have asked how many times they were doing it. They were blasting back down it. The leaders were flying, but some of the back of the pack were very sketchy as I passed them. Nice kids though. My ride was an up yukon, fire road, and then I ran down some campers. One thing I noticed right off, the fire road in UC is much better rolling than Bear Mountain. After feeling like crap the last couple of times climbing that it was nice to see that it wasn't just me being slow (as usual). I ran the ride with my fork at 5 and a bit higher pressure. That downhill is just brutal. I would like to have a go at it on a 40lb dh bike one of these days. By the end of my run I did have some low level howling on the rear brake caliper. So back to the drawing board on that. One positive, the 8in rotors really do a good job in reducing hand fatigue. At the bottom I am normally a bit arm pumped. Nothing yesterday, I could have done a couple more runs had there been more light.

Today is a short day at work. Heading out to Sacramento to visit Erin's cousin in Folsom. Maybe I can sneak my bike in and to a ride at Folsom Lake one of the days. Have to get executive permission on that though. So it looks like another weekend without much in the way of riding. Guess it could be worse.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cupertino Bicycle Swap Meet, April 29th

Cut and paste from MTBR:
I also agree that this is the best swap meet in the Bay Area
Don't miss it!

Cupertino Bike Shop/ROMP Swap Meet
(my award for the BEST swap in the entire Bay Area)

Sunday, April 29th, 2007. Swap is ALWAYS on the last Sunday in April!

$2.00 admission. No early birds. Gates open at 10:00 sharp. Plenty of free parking in the strip mall in front of the shop. Line begins EARLY for entry. Exact change appreciated.
This is one of the largest and best bike swaps in the San Jose Bay Area; with over 50+ vendors, racers, reps and enthusiasts selling clothing, tools, shoes, frames, accessories.
Spaces costs begin at $60 and go up from there. Day of registration an ADDITIOINAL $20 on top of fee. Spaces sell out/register early.

Located at 10493 S. DeAnza Blvd. Cupertino CA
Call the shop or email for reservations/etc.
408 255-5517

Proceeds to ROMP and our on-going advocacy with off-road trails in local parks, open spaces and preserves. www.romp.org for club info.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Trail Conditions 3/6/07

I got out for a quick spin in HC yesterday. Trails look to be in great shape. The mud that was clogging tires on Friday has now dried into very good traction. Upper trails are dry, but not blown out. Lower trails are tacky. Bear Mountain fire road is still very slow, maybe it is just me that is slow. It feels like the brakes are dragging. I even stopped to check that they weren't about 1/2 way up the hill.

One positive (or negative depending on your view) is that the maintenance crew has placed gravel in most of the major mud bogs climbing up Bear Mtn. So instead of packing tires with mud in those spots you have to crunch though some rough gravel. I had feared that this would mean that the maintenance trucks had left tire tracks and ruts to the top, but to my relief there were very little signs that a vehicle other than bikes had been on the trail.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Trail Head Swap meet announced

That's right, check it out.
Trail Head Cyclery (14450 Union Ave, San Jose)
- 7am for sellers ($20 gets a spot)
- 8am for buyers (all welcome)
- 9am shop open (10% off sale)

Trail Head site
Scroll to the swap meet for additional information.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Star Date 2007.03.02

Friday again. Rock out with your cock out!


Where the F did my week go. No riding. No new parts. Didn't even go to work on Wednesday. What a fucking lump.

I spent most of Tuesday evening followed by Wednesday dicking around with my computers. End result: Freshly formatted scsi drives in my ancient system and I am still rocking the windows 2000. Yeah, it may only be a P2 450mhz but it gets the job done. Windows XP runs on it, but I couldn't get it to behave after installing it 2 separate times. So windows 2000 is what this old dog gets to the end.

Okay, so I did get a new toy this week(bike geeks may want to skip this part). A 250gig external hard drive and a 2gig USB flash chip. Now I can store massive amounts of donkey porn. I can of course use it to backup important stuff too. It made the task of swapping the OS very easy. The flash chip? I dunno, maybe it is good and maybe not. All I know is I walked into office max and dropped just over $100 and walked out with about $250 worth of retail product. Now I am all set for the next decade on massive amounts of storage.

On the bike front:
I was able to get that 32 to 38t jump working. I dremmeled the hell out of the chainring adding upshift and downshift aids to emulate a Shimano ring. That made things work marginally better. Things got much better though when I removed the SRAM derailleur and put on my crappy deore. Instantly the front shifting started working. After 2-3 minor tweaks it is now shifting flawlessly. Guess I can add this to the list of things that Shimano does well.
The list:
- Cranks, nobody does it as light and as stiff
- Chainrings, yep shimano has ramps and tooth shape down to a science
- Cassettes, another area where shimano has spent a lot of time working on tooth shape
- Front derailleurs, they just work no fucking around all business all the time
- SPD pedals, for me the perfect clipless system

I am not saying SRAM is crap, but there are just some things that can be left to the pros. I may have to put a complete shimano drivetrain on my bike one of these days just to see what I have been missing.

What is going on this weekend??

North American Handmade Bicycle Show, today thru Sunday 10am-6pm
NABHS 2007

Passion Trail Bikes 1st Anniversary Sat & Sunday, group rides, demo bikes, luau Sat night, if you are in the Belmont area check it out
PTB info

Gavin is having a 5th Birthday party. Party at Scott and Stacie's place Sunday afternoon. More screaming kids, games, and birthday cake. Bring it on.