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

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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Here we go again

Turning a new leaf, another project begins. I have spammed my 26in bike parts across the internet. Should have the majority of it sold off in a week or so. Then I will have funds to build a trail 29er.

I am really leaning towards a Turner Sultan. 4-4.8" of travel depending on shock/rocker configuration. Bushing reliability and chassis stiffness are major pluses in my book.
Sultan Details

On the other side of the fence is the Niner Rip9. 4.5" rear travel. Rear suspension similar to the DW Link design. A bit more plush, more active, and unfortunately a few reports of flex in the rear end.
Rip9 Details

Still plan on keeping the rear end of the bike locked together with the DT RWS 10mm thru axle. These have really won me over as the best way to keep the rear triangle stiff, yet not slowing down the already painful trailside flat repair.

Looks like the rear suspension by either option is going to be run by an RP23. So back to riding a Fox shock. Probably for the best. The Roco worked well, but didn't handle the chop as good.

Front end really depends on how much funds I can raise with part sales. I am really aiming for a White Brothers Fluid135 with a 20mm thru axle. But that will run me about $300 more than just getting a Reba 100mm. I think the WB Fluid135 will fit the bill and be much more confidence inspiring when the terrain gets rough or steep. The Reba is flexy at 80mm travel, I can't imagine it holding up well at 100mm and being pushed harder.
WB Info

Looks pretty substantial right? Not bad for a 29er fork ;-)

Going full 29er in my bike stable means that I need another wheelset. I am debating on new hubs or if I should just keep the saint hubs. I have been very pleased with the saints for their plug and play durability. They so weigh quite a bit more than a set of hope or DT hubs. Rims will be Stan's Flow 29ers. Tubeless is a good thing here with all of the rocks. Tires will probably get a bump to the bigger 2.2-2.4 29ers that are becoming more easily obtainable. Maybe a weirwolf 2.55LT in the back and a Specialized Resolution 2.3 up in front. That would roll pretty fast while still having gobs of traction and volume.

Stay tuned for further geeking out as I narrow in on the build spec.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday morning follow up

Just closing out on a good weekend. No riding, but a good weekend overall.

We did Cold Stone Creamery on Friday to celebrate Austin getting high marks all week. This was the first week that he managed to keep consistent through the entire week with no incidence of misbehavior or not following direction. Cold Stone is good stuff.

Saturday I was up and off to Monte Sano for a trail work day. Pretty cool, not only did about 10 people show up to help but the park provides plenty of tools (weed wackers, gas, pruners, etc). We ended up making it about 1/2 way down McKay Hollow before most of the crew headed back. Robert, Tim, and I kept on trucking and cleared the rest of Arrowhead Trail and out to the Hikers lot by Burrit. For the last hour or so we were just hiking and only stopping to clear downed trees and removing hazards. The first half of the trail we really cleared good. Guess next time we need to head up from the bottom, then the trail will be good for another year or so.

After getting home tired and hours late Erin dragged me off to Toys-r-us and Costco. Great, just what I needed after hiking over 10 miles was to pace the isles at costco. We picked up a couple of costumes at toys-r-us. Faith and Austin have really taken to dressing up, so we needed a couple more outfits. Faith is a very cute Dr. She walks around with a needle and pokes you while saying ouch.

Speaking of Faith...
Ground breaking news, last night Faith dropped her first deuce on the toilet. Like most things she sets her mind to she is adorable grunting away on the pot. Erin kept asking if she was done. Faith would reply, "Nope" and then keep on working. She followed up this morning with a #1. I am going to cross my fingers, it would be nice to have her potty trained early.

Sunday comprised of family breakfast, Church, naps for everyone but Austin, a little shopping, Erin and Austin's cooking of dinner, and a family dinner. Pretty simple, but at the end of the day it ends up being something that we really enjoy. Only regrets on the weekend are that I didn't get a haircut and that I didn't technu up so now I have poison oak on my wrists. Not bad.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another Wednesday ride in the books

Got out with the SORBA Huntsville crew for a lap around the mountain at Monte Sano. The ride started out very fast paced. We headed out and back on Family Trail, then out again onto Mountain Mist and Goat trail. I had a good run and even passed a couple of guys. To my surprise my pace was fast enough to drop them by a few minutes at the 3 benches. Nothing to brag about since most of the crew dropped me by the same or more heading to the benches. At the least I can be happy that the majority of the crew was still at the benches when I arrived. This was a first as I am usually arriving and all but 1-2 sweepers have gone on ahead. I can credit my good pace to the 29er again. I am really realizing that the 29 inch wheels are where it is at in the Southeast. From others in the club I get the impression that Monte Sano has about the most technical trails in the realm.

So I gotta get on with ditching the Ventana to get funds for a Turner Sultan. it will be a shame to see it go. It was my first custom frame. It might be my last since my bike shop ties are gone out here. I have been in contact with Chad at Red Barn and he has a good deal for me on the new frame and fork once I come up with the funds.

I have been looking around for a bed rack for my bikes. I considered the pvc rack, but I think they look pretty crappy and not too sturdy. Sierra Coast Cargo Racks makes a pretty cool rack, but really come up short when it comes to securing the rack to your truck. So basically you are leaving a $300 rack sitting unlocked in the back of your truck every time you head out. I don't know about you, but I would rather put money into bike parts than replacing a stolen rack. Here is a picture for reference...

So I have cooked up an idea for a basic rack using superstrut that will bolt to the stake holes in the bed rails. I am not sure I will fully appreciate the esthetic, but I am sure it will function as I want and that is important. If it works as I want maybe down the line I will make another out of sexier materials. The cheap version will run about $100, about double the cost of pvc or wood. I got $130 by selling off my roof rack, so I guess it evens out.

The family is doing well. Austin seems to really be enjoying school. We were feeling a bit guilty that he had no place to do homework or project without the constant interruptions by Faith, so we purchased a little table for his room. He has been getting home and heading straight for it the last couple of days. He is really into writing letters and doing crafts right now. Don't be surprised if you get a letter in the mail.

As indicated above Faith is a little terror. She is into everything and takes quite an offense if you tell her not to be into something. Upon installation of our new cabinet fronts in the kitchen she got to work with a purple Sharpie marker. She colored on every cabinet and on the floor. Thank goodness for Mr. Clean magic sponges. Erin managed to get all traces of Faith's art off of the apartment. We really have to be careful where we store indelible markers from now on.

Erin is getting along well, but she really does need to make some friends and unplug from the kids. I get home some evenings to find her slightly beyond her wits-end. I have been able to make a few friends through the bike club. She really doesn't have the same kind of community to leech onto for outside of the house fun.

I think we are both starting to want to venture out and see more of the state and surroundings that we are living in. It is pretty cool being centrally located. Snow, beaches, Atlanta, Nashville, Graceland, and others are all within a few hours of home. Faith is still not too fond of extended car trips, but she is doing better now that we got a new portable dvd player and she can watch Dora and other movies to distracter from being trapped in the car. Last weekend we drove over through Monrovia and Madison. Madison has a great park called Dublin Park with a castle themed playground that we had a lot of fun at. You get more for your money with respect to homes out that way, but the commute isn't good now and it is getting worse with the increased population. We have some time to figure out the house bit though.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wade Mtn.

Got out for a short ride on Saturday. I decided that I should try to hit some new terrain since I kind of have the lay of Monte Sano down. I headed up by the Alabama A&M campus to a little trail system called Wade Mountain.

I was greeted with a nearly empty trailhead parking lot. There was a horse trailer so I knew at some point I would be blessed with the sight of horse shit during my loop. I wasn't dissapointed in that respect.

The trail itself started out fairly benign double track.

I then found some challenging rocky climbs along the way. It was very hard to pick good lines, but the 29er just climbed a lot of stuff that I really didn't think possible. Despite the trail being a bit bumpy I was still very glad to be riding my 29er. The farther in I got the less ridden this trail system looked. I kept running through big swarms of gnats and burly spider webs. All the time I was working to clean technical climbs I was working double as hard trying to keep out of the overgrown poison oak. Bottom line, the climbs are hard to clean. The poison oak is an unwelcomed distraction.

I made my way onto Harris trail where the climbing intensity kept up. The sections I made were very satisfying. The ones I didn't make I would love to see someone do better on. About 2/3rds the way up my bars spun. Weird. I might have been riding for the last couple of months with my handlebars loose from when I swapped out stems. Kind of scary as I have done some burly downhill descents that would have been painfull to have my bars spin on. I stopped and snugged down my stem before hiking and climbing out the last bit on Harris.

Now the fun part. Funny thing is most of the DH I have come across in Alabama hasn't been very restful. This trail was no different. Rocky and technical was the theme. I also had a friendly fly or gnat buzzing in my ear every time that my speed dropped below about 10mph. I crept down the unknown trail. It was a blast. I nearly went over the bars into poison oak and rocks, but it was fun.

The rest of the trail was uneventful to finish out the loop. Some of the trail was fun with good rock gardens...

Some of the trail was fairly flowing. It was a joy to ride back out the the lot. Overall I would rate this a a place to repeat. It does need a little bit of trail work to beat back the weeds, but the technical content in a short loop is great. Kind of reminded me of DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz.

I finished out the loop in about an hour and a half. I think if you are all business you could get in 2 loops in under 2 hours and have a blast doing it. Thumbs up on Wade Mtn.