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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Light on the blogging

As always, this time of year the riding is less. Family and Holiday business takes the drivers seat. The blog gets the short end of the stick. I would say the back seat, but I think it either is in the trunk or thrown out the window. Sorry, not much to write about unless you want to hear the full details on the Holiday shopping, my workday, or random findings on the internet.

I have managed to sneak a few rides in this month, but it pales in comparison to how much saddle time I got in last month. Riding this month has either been cold or wet. I actually rode in snow on the 6th. Still kicking myself for not having the camera along for that ride. The trails have been in a constant state of slippery. You are either on mud, soft soil, leaves, or riding mud-packed tires ontop of wet rocks. It's riding, so I will take it as I can get it. But the pace is slower and the elements harsher so I might whine about it.

Oddly, as I sit here and complain about weather, it has been in the upper 40's and lower 50's all week with sun to boot. There is a thunderstorm prediction for tomorrow though, so trails should remain mucky for a while longer. On a positive note, the days are once again getting longer and spring is again just around the corner.

Happy Holidays. Thanks to all the nice people who have sent cards and gifts our way. They are really appreciated this time of year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old School

Fortunately I just caught the end of this clumsy era in BMX history. Most of this morphed into flatland or vert riding disciplines. Some cool bike handling going on though.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Can't make it here anymore

Good little tune by James McMurtry

Came across this in my random interweb wanderings. Good for a listen. Sad but true.

Weekend recap:
Erin has been sick the last couple days. Nothing much going on around the house. Jenny and Robert were in town Friday and I dropped them off at the airport Saturday afternoon. It was nice to have some company in the house. Erin truly appreciates any time she can get with her mom.
We managed to get the tree up and decorated. I think this year will likely be the final year of the fake tree. Now that the kids and dogs are getting older we can start back on real trees for the holidays. I somehow managed to avoid doing any additional decorating. But I can only procrastinate so long.
Saturday evening was my company Christmas party. It was a nice gathering. A few more faces than last year. Jim and Brenda always do a nice job of making it a fun evening of fellowship for the employees. I walked out with a nice ornament from the white elephant exchange.

I managed a couple of shorter rides up in the Land Trust. Friday was just an out and back up Toll Gate Trail. I ended up off work early due to a software upgrade, so I figured it best to hit the trails :) Saturday was tanked by obligations, but Sunday I was clear for a ride. I ended up meeting up with a group of NASA scientists whom I had not ridden with before. It was nice to get out and meet some new people. Snow was still clinging to most of the horizonal branches of trees, but not much was on the ground. Obviously that means it was cold. Temperature was hovering about 40-43 degrees. Fortunately I do have some cold weather gear, so it was not a major issue. Traction on the other hand was somewhat an issue. The wet and cold made for slick rocks/roots. All things considered I was glad to be out riding regardless of the conditions.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nice bit of Santa Cruz Bicycles media

Classic clip of SCB media propaganda...

Glimpses of Hans, John Brown, Nathan Loyd, sweet Santa Cruz singe track trails, even the old sender on the DeLaveaga disc golf course. Sweet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New duds

Aunt Bec yet again provides Faith with some sweet new duds for Fall weather. Thank you Aunt Bec

and a handfull of other lovely poses by Faith...

Thanksgiving pictures

My favorite:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On the grind

Weather is again heading towards the wet side of things. I can't complain. Just finished out November riding.
Pretty much a banner month:
- 17 out of 30 days I was on my bike
- about 150mi ridden
- Rode Wade Mtn for the first time in over a year
- managed one double-ride day

So yeah, bring on a bit of rain. I can take it. The garage and the house could use some tending to. Things tend to get a bit neglected when all spare time is spent on the bike.

The roof is done. Now we just have to juggle funds to pay for it. Insurance does this nice thing called depreciation where they don't give you enough money to pay the whole bill until the work is done. My initial response to said bill was a bit of sticker shock. The invoice came in about $2,000 over the initial estimate. While that doesn't sound like much it is about a 30% overshoot. Live and learn, the way the job was quoted I basically handed the roofer a blank check for the unseen damage. Looking over the insurance estimate though it is inline with the scope of work, so we should be able to get everything but the skylight covered. So initial sticker shock aside all is well.

Thanksgiving has come and gone in our household. Honestly without any direct family here the holiday is not a huge deal. I got out early for a turkeyday ride. Got back home about the time Erin and the kids were finishing showering up for the day. Then we stagnated for a bit and debated about what to do. We had thought about going to see a movie, but there really isn't much playing right now that is appropriate for both Faith and Austin. So we hit up the Blockbuster and rented a pile of movies. I grilled up dinner, which is turning into our Thanksgiving tradition. Somehow it is just easier. We get just as much relief in not having a huge cooking/cleaning mess as the joy of having the great food. So it works for us. Steaks, zucchini, salad, and croissants made everyone happy.

Otherwise business as usual.

Friday, November 13, 2009

There's a hole in the bucket

Just putting up a couple of photos of the skylight addition. Hard to capture on camera due to how much light it adds. Glad we decided to do this.

Guys are working on evening out the spackle right now. Hopefully this will be the last of the work inside the house. It is pretty obnoxious having to drop everything to be around while the roofers work.

Faith's birthday request

...a trip to Chattanooga, TN

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heckler face lift pt.1

Okay, mentioned I had some changes on the bike front.

Well, here is the main visual...

I came home from my Wednesday ride to find my replacement swingarm in the entryway. Cool. So I forged ahead into the task of swapping out the swingarms and the pivot bearings. An hour later I had the bearings out of the frame. Long story. Basically Santa Cruz uses a machined shoulder in the frame to locate the bearings. This shoulder means that you have no mechanical access to the outer bearing race. So removal depends on the bearing staying together while you beat it out with the inner race. One came out clean. The other decided it would be more fun to separate, leaving me a headache to get out. I managed to get'r-done and installed a fresh set of bearings.

Another discovery, but a more positive one. With the disappearance of Cateye cloth bar tape I was looking for a new chainstay material to protect the aluminum frame from the steel chain. I came across 3M splicing tape. Cool stuff, rubber and tacky. Easy to work with and cheap. Cover that up with white vinyl and you have yourself a very inconspicuous chainstay wrap.

Raw Materials:

Big Thank You goes out to Santa Cruz MTB for the warranty on the original swingarm.

Tuck and roll

Good stuff right here

I can still remember a crash I had back in high school where I clipped my pedal on asphalt, tucked and rolled through the crash, and came up totally unscathed. The hard part is fighting the natural urge to superman.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still trucking

Not blogging a whole lot at the moment. Guess I just have better things to do. Sorry, to my 3 faithful followers. I will try to get back to the 2-3x a week deal. Hard part is having interesting events happen with the same frequency. My life is not so exciting.

Weather here in the Southeast has been great. It did rain yesterday, but otherwise riding conditions have been stellar for the last couple of weeks. Okay, maybe stellar is overshooting a bit. But I have at a minimum been able to get out on the bike with some frequency as of late. The ride log tells the tale. I am getting in about 80-100mi/month (October was high due to Tsali trip). I would like more, but honestly don't really have the time to designate. So that will have to do.

Only problem with the elevated riding schedule is that I keep breaking stuff. This is getting a bit old. Erin gives me the stink eye when I am heading into the garage to "work on my bike" again. Heck, I am tired of working on it as well. I just want to ride. Latest casualty, my swingarm. I have been breaking pinch bolts with some frequency since the purchase of the bike. Well, to liven things up the bike decided instead of breaking another bolt that it would just give up the alloy threads in the swingarm. Willie over at Santa Cruz was very nice to me and has a new swingarm in the mail. Hopefully the new design will be less of an issue. No pinch bolts anyways. I was able to dig up a longer bolt from the LBS and salvage a few more rides out of the damaged swingarm, but I will need to mail it off to Willie when the new one arrives. Can't complain about that. I honestly didn't expect them to warranty the thing, so paying shipping back to SC is a small price to pay.

More on the warranty front. Specialized also ponied up some warranty parts for my command post. After Tsali the post had got gunked up and the sealhead was questionable, so I left it at the shop to be sent in for a rebuild. Specialized decided to just send parts instead. Again, can't really complain. Only thing lost is a bit of time to swap out the parts.

Last breakdown was more of a wear and tear item. The rear derailleur finally gave up the ghost. Shifting has been crap for a couple of months now, but when I swapped over to the Rocket twist shifters I could no longer get consistent shifting across the cassette. Guess 3 years is a decent lifespan for a rear derailluer. It is weird wearing out parts. Usually I replace stuff well before that time arrives. If I sell them while they are still functional I get to play the shell game and apply the proceeds of sale towards new parts. Now I am stuck with a broke down derailleur and have to shell out 100% out of pocket on new. Fortunately I had a spare Saint derailleur sitting about to

Not a breakdown, but still an item requiring attention. The new fork is a bit much. Turns out for my riding the Heckler's break even setup is a maximum of 140mm front travel. The added 10mm has pretty much demolished the steep and technical climbing ability of the bike. I hit the switchbacks on Sunday and had a heck of a time. So it looks like I will be cracking open the Revelation and reducing travel. I don't know what people riding with 160mm forks on this bike do. Either they really like climbing with the saddle up their taint or they hike the climbs. I am not really into either of those options.

Okay, so that's a lot of bunk going on. Expect a new parts breakdown in the next week or so.

Last week my boss sent me a link to this Ares video. Ares 1-X takeoff to touchdown. Pretty neat time to be working for NASA.

Around the house we are finally getting to the end of the whole tree falling mess. The new roof is on. Skylight is installed. The tree is gone. Stump is ground. We are a little bit of paint and a gutter away from sticking a fork in it. I will be glad to be done with that. We ended up going through 4 seperate roofing companies to get things in order and actually get the work done.

Leaves are falling. I have a pile of bagged leaves out on the curb for pickup with the trash. Austin spent a fair amount of time helping me out on Saturday. It did require buying him a rake. He raked, bagged leaves, and even helped mow the lawn. No complaining either. It was nice to have the help.

That's it for now. Gotta do some work...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shooting stuff

Another cool video clip of some high speed photography.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mixed bag

Weather here in the SE has been unpredictable as of late. At least more unpredictable than normal. Fall has arrived. With a bit of a chill, then more rain, then wind. The trees are dropping their leaves pretty quick. Not much color this year due to all the rain and the lack of any early season frost. Still some beautiful trees around, but they are fewer this year.

Yesterday I snuck out for a quick ride at the Land Trust. I figured even if it was a bit wet in there I could still get in a 5-8mi ride. As I was unpacking my gear up at the trailhead Steve pulled up. It was nice to have some company and motivation to ride a bit harder.

Right out of the gate I pulled the wheel out of the dropout. Kind of a weird sensation powering a climb and having the wheel snap out. Guess you really need to reef down on the Saint axle. My hadley alloy axle doesn't require nearly the same amount of torque. Quick fix on that and we continued on up Tollgate Trail. No rest, straight into High Trail. Maxxis super tacky High Roller 2.35 UST tires are fantastic in the wet terrain. Really loving it. Unfortunately Maxxis no longer produces the tire in this softer, 42A, durometer. They offer it in non-tubeless though. At any rate the compound really grips on the wet rocks and roots. I found myself trying to make it spinout and only managed to succeed once on the entire ride. It doesn't do any better in wet mud, but I try to avoid that stuff anyways.

We stopped for a rest at the junction of High and Bluff Line trails. Snapped a couple of pictures.

the heckler with it's new fork

Steve all kitted out

Yours truly

We headed down Bluffline. Steve was on a realatively new set of brakes, so they weren't bedded in yet. He rode it out with a bit more respect for that issue. I bombed down the trail at a decent clip. The RockShox 2010 Revelation Team model is quite a fork. Despite being a factory tune, intended for someone lighter than my own 240lb, it performs fantastic. It handles big hits and high speed about as well as my fork that I sent out to be tuned specifically for me. At the same time it takes the small bumps much better. The Black Box damper and Dual Flow rebound cartridge are a huge improvement over the 2009 forks.

I had enough time at the bottom of the hill to get the camera out and catch Steve on the final descent.

I had come across the top of that rock, slid about 2 feet sideways, and almost ended up in no man's land off to the Steve's left hand. Fortunately the tacky tire compound regained composure and I was able to get back on course. Again very impressed with the tire compound. Note to self, search out more NOS HR UST ST tires. 2nd note to self, Bluff Line is super slick when wet, slow down a little. Usually under these conditions I would run the trail at about half speed, but the tires made me do it faster. Since I wasn't getting that sketchy loss of traction feeling I just kept on hauling.

Another shot taken the corner up from the last. My point and shoot can't really capture the elevation change very well. I am about 30ft down from Steve and about 40ft away, that's a pretty steep section.

Last one for the day. Just looking up in the trees. Nice day to be outside even if it was a bit slick.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ares 1-X Launch goes off without a hitch

Well, a day late and more weather delays but the test rocket launch went well this morning. At about 11:30am est I watched the final countdown and the rocket takeoff.

Very cool stuff. Check it out here...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ares 1.X launch

Looks like the first launch window was missed due to a cargo boat in the danger zone. If you are interested in catching the launch in about an hour check out NASA TV.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cool picture

Ares 1-X and Space Shuttle Atlantis on their launch pads...

Should be an exciting week for NASA.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Boycott Monster Energy

Well, looks like Monster Energy did cave and drop this lawsuit. But honestly I am not really stoked to hear about this kind of behavior to begin with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A bit of buzzz about work

Well, for the first time in nearly 3 decades a new rocket platform is headed to the launch pad. Fox has a decent slideshow of some of the Ares 1X progress.

While not a fully functional Ares, this is the vehicle to test the solid rocket and the parachute recovery system. The upper stage of the 1X is just a dummy. Still pretty neat to see it go up. Hopefully on the 27th.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tsali weekend report

Why is it every time I head off for a weekend with the boys I come back with a sore but and a bit hung over...

Nothing much going on in the days between the FTF and this weekends adventure. I pretty much just rested up for the riding to come. Work days were a bit longer to make up for lost time. I took Thursday and Friday off.

Alright, lets jump right into it. Lots of pictures. As usual, just click the picture if you want to see a bigger version of it.

Riding kicked off just Northeast of Chattanooga off the Ocoee River. First stop is Brush Creek, which is a fun out and back for a total of about 12.5mi. The trail itself wraps around a reservoir and hangs low to the hillside. Sorba Chattanooga also has some trail information. The trail is one that lets you set the pace. Go as fast or as slow as you like. There were mud/water holes all over the place, but other than them the trail was dry and good riding.

.4mi in from the parking lot

Pat climbing up to the sign

View from Boyd Gap trail head

This would be the cleanest my bike would be post-ride all weekend

We packed up and headed to our final destination Tsali

Tsali is another trail system wrapped around a reservoir, Lake Fontana. It has around 30mi of unique trail to it that can be linked together as desired.
We started off by running Thompson Loop. No pictures, guess we were a bit excited to hit the trails again. Thompson is about a 6mi trek, mostly uphill and meandering around the lake with a couple of fun dh descents mixed in.

Up top looks something like this

Clay grabbed a nice bit of video of me on the DH portion of the trail

Tsali - Last Mile of Thompson Loop from Clay Morgan on Vimeo.

Next Pat somehow managed to talk us into another loop. So out the Mouse Branch we went.

Clay climbing out one of the chutes

So how does 28mi for the day make you feel Clay??

View from the overlook

This extra loop put us into a bit of a bind. We finished up as darkness overtook the dusk. We were filthy, needed to wash the bikes, check in to the hotel, and get some dinner. After looping around Bryson City for about 45min we finally located a car wash that was closed down. Fortunately our quarters still fired up the pressure wash and we were able to hose down the bikes.

Then we scrambled off to the hotel The Gearhead Inn. Where we found out they provided a hose and towels for cleaning of cars, or in our case bicycles. Good to know. Of course after checking in everyone snuck in a quick shower. That put us ready to find some grub at about 9pm in a small town in the middle of nowhere. This should be interesting.

Fortunately Gauyuito's seated us. We had the restaurant to ourselves, which is probably a good thing as we were a bit loud. Nothing like a big mexican meal, magaritas, and some good stories to go with it.

Friday was more of the same. Up and going, to the trailhead by about 10am. The day starts with an 18mi combo of the Right and Left Loops.

A bit saddle sore, but with views like this it was easy to get rolling along

Trail leading to the overlook

One more for the record

Jeff, Larry, and Pat talking it up at the overlook rest stop

Renee, Macgyver with the camera (going to have to get his photo album, he took a lot of ride photos)

Nice looking trail

Clay snapped some footage of the Right Loop

Tsali - Right Loop from Clay Morgan on Vimeo.

Lunch break

Back up Thompson loop after lunch, gotta ride while the weather is clear. Forecast for Saturday is looking bleak. No rest for me, I headed straight to the top instead of taking the 2-3 breaks we had the day before.

Bike is a bit muddy

I am a bit muddy

Also a bit faded after the ~25mi for the day so far

Grabbed a few photos as the boys rolled up

Renee never did seem to get tired, this was only his second time ever on a mtb but he is obviously pretty fit.

Everyone gets a bit giddy when the trail is all DH and the day is almost at an end

Back to the carwash, Guayuito's, and off to the hotel to watch the video Clay shot during the day.

Saturday rain showed as we expected. We packed up and headed out. A bit of loitering around at breakfast and then at Nantahala. We were half hoping the rain would stop so we could ride Brush Creek again on the way home. At the same time half hoping it would continue as Clay and I were pretty worn out. We arrived back at Brush Creek to find decent weather and wet trails. We geared up and rode.

The bikes give testament to the wet trails

Overall a great weekend of riding. Made some new friends. Rode some nice trails. Saw beautiful scenery. Even got to do some sweet jumps. Total ride miles on the weekend was 66mi, all dirt. Thanks to Clay and the boys for letting me tag along.

one more for the road...

Monday, October 5, 2009

As promised...

Okay, Monte Sano Fat Tire Fest went off without a hitch this weekend. Weather on Saturday was fantastic, even Sunday despite looming clouds the weather held out. I think we logged about 18mi on the Rocky Ride Saturday. Clocked another 12mi on Sunday. If you have learned anything about my local terrain it should be that it is tough to cover a lot of ground. Our Rocky Ride lived up to it's name-sake, linking together 18mi of the rockiest and most technical terrain in the park. I lost toll on the body count. I think the end result was something like 7 flat tires and a broken wrist for our efforts. Out of our crew of 9 only 5 of us were rode the entire ride to the last technical climb.

Okay, photos...
(as always you can click on the image to see the full size over on picasa)

nice to see the dogs hanging out and playing, but please pick up the poo before Gary runs it over ;-)

the heckler, ready to ride for the weekend

Nice little tech section the club built up for the event.

Steve looking all business in the morning

Hey Sean, say tubes :-)
All of our flats were from riders on regular tires converted to tubeless and using some sort of sealant. My UST tires, although heavier, take the abuse of the rocks much better.

Dang gadgets. GPS tracks the ride better if you turn it on. Doh!

Yep, bottom of McKay Hollow. Had to regroup here and wait for Rick to patch his tire up. Punctured a sidewall on the way down, instantly flat. It was cool to see a 2ft diameter puff of Stan's escape as it happened.

Rick, Matt, and Rob (Mr MTBby198 )waiting on people fixing flats.

Traci was a champ, cleaned all of McKay Hollow only to have her day foiled when she tumbled sideways after losing traction in a slow tech spot. Who left that rock there anyways.

Richard clawing his way out of the crack. This is what happens if you lose momentum half way through.

Gettin'er Done the right way. Guess Sean and I were the only ones to make it through this tech move clean that day.

Lowest point of the ride. 3 Caves in the Land Trust. All uphill from here boys.

Moving so darn fast I am just a blur in the woods.

Hey, my arse (fortunately still blurred).

Climbing out Tollgate Trail. Almost done for the day.

That'll do. Chilling with Clay and Eric.

Clay even snapped some video. Didn't turn out so great on the trails, but on the playground it gave a cool perspective.

Monte Sano FTF 2009 Wooden Stuff from Clay Morgan on Vimeo.

That's it, I am wiped out from a good weekend.