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

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.