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

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...
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