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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now we are getting somewhere

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am seeing a trend. Warmer weather is on the horizon :-)

Yesterday's ride was cold and with windchill it dropped another 10 degrees. Hard not to run off and start snagging up base layers and thermal jerseys when things turn nippy. But from the look of it lows will only be down in the 30's and 40's for another month or so. And highs are already creaping up into the 50-60 range. All of the layers will come back off and it will be short sleeves once again.

Other news?
Not much, picked up a set of used tubeless tires for $7. They are Hutchinson Octopus 2.35 with a slow rebound sticky rubber. Out of production now, but I figured for the price they were worth picking up. It seems like several manufacturers were using a 40-50A durometer soft compound on 2.3 UST tires circa 2004-2006. Then about 2007 the well dried up. DH clincher tires, single ply clincher tires, and DH ust tires were the only ones that continued to be produced in soft compounds. The sticky compound 2.3 UST tire was left by the wayside. These octopus tires tipped the scale a bit portly at 1150g.

A few months back I snagged a set of 2.35 Maxxis High Roller UST in the sticky 42A rubber compound. The front tire hasn't been off my bike since I mounted it. Coming in at 900g they are a bit heavy. But they do work well even at pressures down to under 30psi, which is somewhat unheard of for me. Basically it indicates a fairly stiff sidewall, so it doesn't burp or come unseated even at lower pressure than I can typically get away with. I took off the rear since it was a bit slow rolling and didn't shed mud as well as the Continental Rubber Queen.

At any rate when I see these out of production gems on e-bay for dirt cheap I grab them. Most are 900-1100g. The casing is thick and strong. They work exceptionally well on the wet rocks and roots here in the Southeast during the winter. May be too heavy/slow for the summer, but I will post back when the time comes.

I think I have a rubber fettish...

...last season's tire testing

Caught our local SORBA club meeting last night. Not a whole lot going on right now. Looks like a section of Family Trail is going to get some TLC and the South Plateau is officially open to bikes. Another cool prospect, seems that the Land Trust is okay with the building and maintenance of a "freeride/DH" trail on their property. They just want it done right. Some kids have carved in a sketchy, unsustainable trail with no go around or warning of upcoming obstacles. I think the LT response is a great indication of the respect for the trail work and maintenance the SORBA club here does.

Another positive trail growth report. SORBA Huntsville will be launching a fundraising effort to extend and re-route McKay Hollow trail. Not sure how much additional mileage will be gained, but it should be cool. Only $75K. Wow, trails are expensive to build!

That's all I got for now. Ride, rinse, food, beer, sleep, repeat...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Life and other such ramblings...

Well, last Thursday marked the completion of my 32nd trip around the sun. It was uneventful. I like it that way. But I do believe that doing very little on my birthday really puts Erin on edge. She comes from a family where birthdays never go out of style. So it is hard for her to sit back and go with my flow. After about age 16 birthdays in my family involved a dinner out and maybe a basic gift. Again, I am good with that. I was able to sneak off for a short lunch ride (more on that in a second), got off work a touch early to pick up my mom at the airport, and had dinner out. It was a good birthday in my book.

Not a whole lot, mainly at my request. Mom flew out for the boy and my birthdays, the kids made a couple of cards, and Erin made a cake.

Amazingly I have been able to get out on the bike a bit. Mostly squeezed in rides here and there, but Saturday was a longer outing. The weather has warmed a bit, the trails dried out some, and I even got in 3 rides in the sunshine this last week. Crazy. My birthday lunch ride was a bit of a flop. I grabbed the Heckler for the first time in about a month. As I went to check the air pressure at the trailhead the valve core came loose and shot out into the loose leaves. After about 5 minutes I was able to locate it and get my tire reinflated. The arsenal trails were muck and slop. About 2mi in I hear my front tire hissing, so I stop to inspect the source of the issue. I pull out a good size piece of shale that went straight through the casing. Then I tried to get the sealant to fill the hole. I had given up and started to ready myself for a fun muddy tire repair when I gave the tire one last spin. Hmmm, no more hissing. Guess the Stan's finally decided to get to work. Surprisingly I only lost a few psi, so a bit of air from the hand pump and I was rolling again. Fortunately that was the brunt of my ride entertainment.

My other rides were far less eventful. Just good trail rides in Monte Sano. The trails were firming up nicely, but still have enough moisture to keep you on your toes. It is amazing how even a little mud in your tire will instantly combine with unseen moisture on the rocks/roots and send you sliding off course. But I am not complaining. I will take this any day over the weather and trail conditions of the last 2 months.

Forecast looks good to get in a bit of riding this week as well. We did get some rain last night, but by mid-week it should be back to rideable trails and partly cloudy weather.

In the garage...
Still a mess. Too many projects without much activity. Hopefully in the next couple of weekends I can finish clearing it out enough to begin work on the next woodworking project.

I was able to snatch another set of Saint M800 hubbed wheels off e-bay. Sun Ryhnolite/Saint wheelsets have been on clearance since 2006. The big OEM mfg must have made about 100X more of those wheelsets than they ended up actually selling. At any rate, I picked up the whole wheelset with 2 axles for $60. For perspective, the rear hub I got for Christmas was $60 by itself. I didn't hesitate too long at that price.

On Groundhog day I received the final piece of the hardtail puzzle. So as Phil declared 6 more weeks of winter my new frame arrived. Nice timing. This is war you overstuffed rodent!

So that was weeks ago, why wait until now to talk about it?
Well, I am a bit of an ass. What's new? Erin walked out as I was working on building up the bike and commented on it. Only the comment was a half question, and then a compliment on the bike. Either she really thought it was my other bike or she held her tongue. I am guessing the former. At any rate, I have been waiting for her to realize this is somewhat of a Parent Trap scenario.

I do have to admit that this

does look somewhat like this

So I can't give her too much what for. But it has been somewhat of an inside joke in the garage for the last few weeks.

Well, there it is. The Banshee Paradox as pictured above is the culmination of spare parts, online scavenging, and a couple of Christmas presents. It is an interesting 29er. It is very slack angled, designed for a long travel fork, and has very short chainstays (16.9"). Couple that with a fairly low bottom bracket and a short stem and you have a very stable yet nimble 29er hardtail. Check out how tight the rear wheel is stuffed in behind the seat tube.

About the only way to make a shorter rear end on a 29inch wheeled bike is to interrupt the seat tube and use a direct mount front derailleur.

It makes for a very fun riding bike. It carves trails well. Honestly it is the first 29er I have thrown a leg over that actually manuals with ease. At the same time, despite being easy to loft the front wheel, it climbs great too. I haven't ridden a bike that had this light of a front end that would still allow the front wheel to stay planted during climbing. It is still a hardtail though, so it is a bit bumpy in the rocks. But the playful and nimble ride characteristics make up for it. Color me smitten.

For more info on the Banshee Paradox check out the Banshee Bikes Blog or their website at bansheebikes.com. You can always check back here as I get more miles on it I am sure to have something to say about it.

That's about all I got this time around. Keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter, yup still ongoing...

With temps fluctuating between 25 and 40 degrees Winter is in full effect here in Huntsville. I have been getting it a little bit of trail time on the bike, but honestly the trails are either frozen or slushie at the moment. So riding really isn't that great.

New and exciting stuff in the garage. Hmm...
I did manage to get another set of wheels in. Back in 2007 Jenson was blowing out Saint hubs laced to Sun Rhynolite rims for about $150. It was a good deal. I ended up swaping out the rims and putting the hubs on my Sultan 29er. Well, in January there was a seller on e-bay tossing out the same wheelset for $60 and throwing in an additional axle. I bought a rear hub in December, *note* I did wrap it and put it under the tree, for the same $60. So a month later to score an entire wheelset for that price got me pretty stoked.

Otherwise not much. I rented a storage unit to try and clear enough room in the garage to function. We do actually have some woodworking projects coming up this year. Unfortunately there is still a sizeable amount of Erin's crap taking up space (she will likely give me crap for that comment since technically some of it is kid stuff, but since she won't let me dispose of it I am going to lump it all together as Erin Crap).

Yeah, wanna see my sweet winter beard? Yeah, didn't think so. That's why I didn't post it.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Technique Tuesday

Nice little video put together by the guys at TBC...

Here is a Bikeskills.com video featuring Greg Minnaar, looks to be filmed mostly in Nisene Marks. Funny, some of those run-ins looks flat on film. In person they are fairly steep though.