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

Monday, April 27, 2009

This is just getting old now

So yesterday I get it in my head that I want to do a big loop at Monte Sano. No problem. I have been doing okay on the standard rides. I can handle it. Well, I bogged around in the morning until afternoon working on the lawnmower, yes again. Had a couple of beers. Just general waste of time on a Sunday.

Ended up hitting the biker's parking lot at about 2:30. Gary showed up a few minutes later. We hung out in the lot getting ready and shootin the breeze with a couple of other riders. All in all we weren't riding until 3pm. Plenty of time right?

So out past the lookout we headed onto the N.Platue Loop, down Cold Springs. First missed turn of the day. I always miss the turn off to make it up to the gate. At any rate, we climb back up and then hike a bike for a few to check out an alternative line. No go, just wasted time. Oh well, ride the fire road out to the road and ride up to the gate on pavement into the Land Trust. Alright, first hurdle down, we made it into the Land Trust. Nice blast down Tollgate to High Trail. Stopped at the intersection of BLuffline to grab a couple of pictures.

Gary and some of the weird armoring on the Land Trust.

Looking back up at the entrance to High Trail.

Onward we went, climbed out Bluffline to Monte Sano Blvd. It pops out right by Burrit Museum. I headed towards Natural Well, wrong turn number2. Fortunately Gary had ridden the Arrowhead extension trail before and roped me in. It is a good little trail, maybe 1-1.5mi of single track. In true Monte Sano form the best boulder to launch off has an uphill run-in. The trail winds along the bluff and even has a fun rock channel to go through.

Complete with friends...

From the extension you get dropped right onto Natural Well at the start of the original Arrowhead trail. We take a break and Gary starts talking about some jumps coming up. I look down the hill thinking someone added something exciting. No such luck, but I do notice a couple of rocks in a corner. Those could make a jump I guess. So we proceeded to make a take-off from the existing terrain to gap the corner. Turned out pretty well considering we were working with sticks and rocks, not proper tools. I hit it a few times. Give a little lift, but mainly the slope of the hill gives the height on the way down. Maybe 2-3ft vertical and 10-12ft horizontal by the time you touch back down on the trail.

checking it out for the first time.

Throwing some style at it and pulling a bit more air.

We raced down Arrowhead, stopping at the bottom for a rest. Of course this is not a good sign when you are stopping for a rest at the bottom of a downhill and only about half way through the loop we were on. At this point we are committed and just need to hammer it out. So we trogged on. The next 4-5mi are all in the low end of the park and it is still pretty soft, muddy, and slow moving. Pretty much saps out the energy we had left. At about 7pm we hit the bottom of Warpath. No energy, not much water left, and nowhere to go but up about 800-1000ft vertical to get back to the cars. We rode what we could of Warpath. As dusk crept over us we hiked up the last couple hundred vertical feet to O'Shaughnessy Point.

It was now dark and we were both running on our last legs. Bonked, on the fire road and heading for home. It was a painful couple of miles on a fairly flat road. But we made it back to tell the tale. Overall I think it clocked out to 15-16mi. That is about as much mileage as I have ever put in up on Monte Sano. I felt like crap for the rest of the evening and am pretty tired out even today.

a look at the loop...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Week in review

Nothing too exciting around these parts. Erin and the kids are still fighting off their illnesses. Poppy was given the stupidest haircut ever. Seriously. The grass keeps right on growing.

I did manage to squeeze a couple of rides in. Tuesday was a slosh ride out on the arsenal. Decided to hit the full loop, about 10mi. Good ride, but a lot more water and slime than I had anticipated. I was finally getting in a groove when out of nowhere a little black flash with white accents. Crap! Skunk. About 2-3ft off the trail. No time to really do anything about it, so I gave a loud cat hiss and shot by. Fortunately I came up on it fast enough that although startled it didn't get a chance to spray me before I passed the danger zone. I pedaled on for another mile before realizing that the sinking feeling I was having was indeed a flat. We have the burliest thorns out here in AL. Looked like someone drove a finish nail through my tube. Nothing like changing a flat on a slimy/muddy tire.

Wednesday found me trying to hang with the SORBA group ride. Steve and Sean showed, both have a lot more saddle time than me this year. I did my best to hang on the Family trail sprint. Then I was given the lead heading down the rockiest descent in the park. I was instantly regretting the additional pressure and lower volume settings in the rear shock. It rode exceptionally bad through the repeat rock hits. I was able to ride the entire trail at decent speed, but at the bottom my hands and forearms were toast. A good indication that my suspension wasn't doing all it was suposed to. We started out again on some unmentionable trail. As Steve and Sean started to drop me I again had that sinking sensation. Yep, another flat. Another thorn. Jeese, these things are brutal. So I did a quick change and tried to catch up to the faster riders. Note, exercise in futility. All I managed to do was kill myself and tire me out for the rest of the ride. I managed to catch up to them at the bottom of War Path. From there it was a combination of hike and ride back to Goat. I was surprised to find the trail was so flat. I had never ridden up it.

By the time I got to the top of Family trail Sean and Steve were rested. They "spun" back to the bikers lot. Of course their spin was a bit more spry than my own. Heck at that point I couldn't even keep up with the weekend warriors on Family back to the truck.

I sure hope these rides are making me stronger/faster, cause they sure aren't doing anything to boost moral or ego. No one to blame for my sloth state. Too much time off last year. Double hard to get back into action this year. Oh well.

Hey, is it beer thirty yet?
So my morning started with Faith bringing me a beer at 8:30am. She had gotten up. Everyone else was down stairs. So she snuck into the fridge to get some strawberries for breakfast. Since she was there she decided that I needed a beer for breakfast. Far be it from me to turn down a beer. It's noon somewhere. Gee, wonder why this beer gut isn't getting any smaller...

happy Friday

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FW: Cowboy email

Well, sometimes you get a forwarded email that is actually worth reading. Here is a cut and paste that someone here at work sent me.

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous
pasture in California when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him
out of a cloud of dust.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan
sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, "If
I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will
you give me a calf?"
Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully
grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects
it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the
Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his
location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the
area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.
The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and
exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany .
Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image
has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL
database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his
Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech,
miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the cowboy and says, "You
have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."
"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,"
says Bud.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with
amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.
Then the Bud says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what
your business is, will you give me back my calf?"
The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why
"You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government", says Bud.
"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"
"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even
though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already
knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of
equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you
don't know a thing about how working people make a living - or about
cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep. ....
Now give me back my dog.

Now that is good humor :)

Here is another one.

Kind of sums up some of the myspace and facebook crowd as well...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just plain sick...

This guy is good, very good.

Weekend report?
Austin had a soccer game Saturday morning, so everyone in the house was up and running early. Austin is pretty funny to watch. I will upload a video of it. Basically he is a bit of a space cadet who orbits around the other players. I am going to have to get out and spend some time practicing with him. Was going to work on that yesterday, but the weather was again uncooperative. Another Tornado warning too.

I snuck off for a ride Saturday afternoon. Figured I would dail in my tire and shock pressure at the trail head. Well in typical form I arrive just as a group of familiar faces is about to head out. So of course I just hop on and start riding. It quickly turns into a fast paced ride. Between Tim and Jim we (Clay and I) are getting a workout. There were a couple of short breaks to regroup. Only decent break was at the three benches. I snapped a picture of the crew...

Roll call (left to right): Gary, Jim, Me, Clay, Robert, Tim

Gary was a stragler that joined us for the ride. Turns out he is a pretty good match for our B-team. I ended up chatting with him for a while after the ride. Hope to hook up and ride with him again sometime this week if the weather cooperates.

We kept our ride to the top end of the mountain. The water table is too high to do much of the lower trails. I think the entire ride clocked in at just under 12mi. I am still amazed at the terain here. That ride took just shy of 3 hours and I was totally wiped when done. In contrast in CA I could have covered over 20mi in the same time. The rocky terrain just saps speed and requires full body effort to keep momentum. At any rate, we zig-zagged around the mountain side for a good while. Then we got split up and 2 riders exited for the afternoon. I was left in Tim's dust trying to catch up to the other 2 riders who had taken a different turn. No breaks, just hammered back the direction they headed. I was somewhat releived when I got back to three benches and didn't catch them. I took a well deserved rest before carrying on. Even then I only made it to the bottom of Mountain Mist. I bonked and ended up hiking out the last 2/3rd mile to the bikers lot. Only the second time I have had to walk the climb.

Here is the bike sitting ready for more. Erin has officially dubbed it the "Homewrecker". Ah well, can't win them all.

So there you have it 12mi, 3hr, and totally cashed out. Definitely need more saddle time if I am going to be doing any of the bigger 15-18mi loops.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday report

Well, so what's up in the world of Doug? Dunno. I have been busy, but I can't really be sure as to where my time has gone. Weather around here has been nuts. We had tornado warnings and some damage in the N.Alabama region this last weekend. Most of the week has been cloudy, but no rain since Monday.

I managed to sneak in a ride on Wednesday, but boy was it slippery and muddy. Fortunately riding out on base nobody cares if you ride in the mud and make a general mess of yourself or leave a few tire treads behind. I met up with Clay for a mid-morning 4mi quick loop.

It is a fun loop. Not a lot of elevation change, but there are a few short/technical climbs that will get the heart rate up. I am still amused at the rock gardens here. I don't think I ever climbed up one in CA, but in Huntsville it is fairly common to ride trails that go straight up rock gardens. The stuff never looks rideable, yet if you commit it seems to work out. I will have to get some pictures of some of these for emphasis.

I am still dailing in the Heckler. Probably should snap a picture of it, all clean and tuned right now. I have been trying to get the rear shock to ride better. Stuart hooked me up with an RP3 that has and AVA (adjustable volume air sleeve) on it. That is probably as good as it gets for this suspension design and air shocks. It still blows through travel, but the damping keeps it higher in travel most of the time. I also picked up a cheap coil shock off e-bay. It is a Manitou Swinger 4way, basically the same thing as a progressive 5th element shock. I had forgotten how dead and overdamped these things are. The heckler rides great with the coil shock though. Only issue is mass. Yes, I am going there. The RP3 weight is about 250g. The Swinger with a 550lb spring is 1025g. That is closing in on near 2lb heavier. Ouch!! I am going to have to ask Stu to keep an eye out for an orphan dhx5.0. The DHX with a titanium spring on it would only be a touch over 1lb in weight penalty. I can live with that.

Drivetrain has also gotten some love. One issue with buying a used bike is that you never know how much life it has left. Well on my trip to Oak Mtn I had a ton of problems with the original chain. So I replaced it. Of course the bike immediately started to skip gears as the new chain wouldn't mesh with the worn teeth on the gears. I gave it a few rides, sometimes you can stretch a new chain enough to get it working. No-go. Yesterday the answer to the problem arrived, new cassette and mid-ring. Going to get those bolted up for a ride this weekend.

I also took advantage of a cheap e-bay deal to snatch up some beefier rims. I didn't want anything too heavy, but it needed to be stronger and wider than the XC hoops that are on the bike. I have been having to true them after every 2-3 rides to keep them in line. I got a pair of Sun SOS rims mainly because they would work with the current spokes. I would prefer mavic rims, but price and compatibility was right. We'll see how they hold up. I think they are about equivalent to XM321 rims from Mavic that I like. Swapping the rims went pretty quick. No surprises.

This morning I re-bled the rear brakes. The SRAM bleed method is just dumb. Sorry, gotta say it. They have intentionally created a system that is prone to headaches. First thing you do is de-gas the dot fluid. Next you put bubbles back into it from the caliper. Who came up with that bright idea?? Fricken ingeneous that guy :-) From there you try to keep the bubbles you just put into the syringe from getting back into the system as you pump the fluid up to the lever. It is just a mess. Through and through. Obviously the designer never bled the brakes on a car or motorcycle. Put fluid in, push it through with the master cylinder, cap both ends when done. No syringes. No 5 step process. Simple. Grrr. Well, glad to be done messing around with that for now.

So obviously I have been working on the bike more than riding it the last couple of weeks. We have also had cub scouts, civic meetings, Easter, and yard maintenance thrown into the mix. Life goes on.

a cool space station link for the road...
Click Me

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Very nice

2009 Santa Cruz Syndicate V10 Testing Video Part 2 from Litter Mag on Vimeo.

Always nice to see some SC video with DH racing pros ripping some choice unmentionable single track. Ping me back if you can figure out the trail (and yes, I know it). Audio was acting a bit weird, but the ride clips are good.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oak Mountain Birmingham

Okay, probably should have been a bit snappier in getting this ride report up. But life does have a way of slowing these things down.

We set out at a bit after 8am on Sunday morning to Oak Mountain down by Birmingham. It takes about an hour and a half to get down to the park.
State Park Site
View of the loop:

Google Map link
The loop is right around 17mi give or take. Very little elevation gain, yet it feels like you spend more time climbing. It wraps its way up, down, and around the mountain. Some sections are very fast and rolling. There are small berms in some of the corners. This trail would be jedi fast if not for all of the roots crossing and weaving it. Overall it was still a nice change from the rocky Monte Sano trails.

At about 6mi in I knew this was going to be a pedal fest with little chance for recovery. I am surprised my tongue wasn't hanging out...

And of course the bike was already getting a thorough covering of grime.

The chain started to skip and jump. That stayed with me for the rest of the ride, but caused no major issues. I don't like how badly shimano chains behave in the wet and mud. They shift a bit better, but the annoyance isn't really worth it.

Some good company:
Dani (X-racer from CO), she kicked my but all day. It was like riding with Ed and Jeff all over again. She had enough energy that she would do the climbs and then catch the last guy and ride up again.

Chris and Tim both strong riders. I think Tim works out or rides like 5 days a week and he kicks but up and down the mountain. Chris, IIRC, has only been riding for a while and is still learning the ropes.

Clay and Cam good riding buds in the clydesdale class. They are more on my pace, but Clay was hammering better than me this day.

A few more random shots:

Yep, me head down finishing the 2mi climb and Dani smiling as she crested the top for the second time. She only came back down about 1/4mi this time though, so she didn't have it too bad for bonus footies :)

Closest we got to a group shot:

A good ride. I want to get back here when it is dry. Probably a much faster trail that way.

Here is a video of about my favorite part of the trail: