Friday, December 31, 2010

IditaTour - Mike Curiak

If you're ever in doubt that Mike Curiak is a pioneer in distance riding with an unstoppable internal engine watch this video. He rode 1,100 miles along the Iditarod Trail completely self supported. I recommend watching it in HD full-screen.

IditaTour: Part one. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

FATS Ride

I drove down to FATS in Augusta for a ride yesterday. I managed 27 miles of riding on some of the best trail in the area. There were several limbo trees on the trail. I slowed down for the first few but they all seemed to be at a height that was easy enough to slide under with minimal effort. Later in the day, I skimmed under one of them at about 15mph. At the last second it was obvious that this one was a little lower than the others. Even with extra effort on the duck & lean I nicked the back of my helmet and Camelbak. Yow...



Taking a break


Lots of trail armor. FATS is the model for proper trail maintenance.


I took a break to cook some lunch at the trailhead (Ramen followed by grits). I forgot my spoon so I made some chopsticks out of a downed limb. The guy from Atlanta I was talking to while eating had a tough time understanding how I could eat food with sticks.


There are tons of dwarf palmetto palms growing in the FATS area. In one steep creek bed there were hundreds of them. I would have loved to see them in the snow earlier this week.


Happy... tired. I came home and went into a coma. My legs are concrete today.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mountain Bike Gear For Sale

If you know of anyone looking for good deals on mountain bike gear, please forward them my way. I have lots of gear I'd like to pass on to someone who can put it to proper use!

Contact me for question and/or offers at: donmeredith74@gmail.com

More photos at http://mygearforsale.blogspot.com

DT Swiss 1540 Wheelset $375


Click Photo To Enlarge

Ritchey WCS 120mm stem $50


Click Photo To Enlarge

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Passion

It was cold but fun today. I thought there would be more people on the trail but I only saw four on bikes.





Beautiful blue skies - the silver lining to the cold front.



Taking a break at the rock garden. I only dabbed once... managed to keep my momentum. Win.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Midlands Area IMBA/SORBA Chapter Formation

Several people from the local rider base have come together to coordinate the formation of a local IMBA / SORBA chapter. The benefits of a local chapter include:
  • Development of local trail systems
  • Promotion of mountain biking awareness in the area
  • Increases ridership in the local community
  • Serves as a group for the local rider base meet new people
  • Coordination of group rides
  • Making riding fun for everyone!
To create a new chapter we need 50 members registered with IMBA in the area. You can go to http://www.imba.com/join - When it asks for a local chapter affiliation - choose "I don't have a local chapter. When you join, please send me a quick email to let me know so we can make sure that your membership is counted as part of the 50 in the area.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Christmas!

Ok, not quite but the fun has started. I got to take the new bike out to the trails for the first time today. GREAT ride but I need more training to keep up with her.



I got to ride a lap with a very old friend Kurt from the Clemson Cycling Club days. He was in town with his son who did a great day out on the trails. Good times.

video

We also worked on our angel tree gift this afternoon. Its not quite like putting a Black Sheep together but its fun anyway. If you've never given gifts to a needy family you really should give it a shot. I can honestly say that its my favorite part of the Christmas season. This year I had the pleasure of putting the bike together with Kate. She's a good mechanic for a 2 year old!



video

Monday, December 6, 2010

Black Sheep FINISHED!

I figured out the puzzle of getting the Middleburns to play nice with the new Black Sheep and finished her up this evening. I still have some parts swapping to do but I was able to take a full speed ride around the (cold) neighborhood. RAD!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baa Baa Black Sheep!

We're making progress... here's an updated shot. I still need to get the cranks sorted out and dial the brakes in but VERY close.



So, the klunker inspired Black Sheep is finally here. Its a beautiful bike. I'm headed over to build her up at a friend's house later this afternoon. Itching to take her for a ride..

Cobbled together for a preview


Internally routed rear brake line


Jen Green head badge


James etched SIMPLIFY on the downtube... more subtle than my usual decal


Top tube & tank tube combo is just... sexy

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things to come

I've said it before - its the details. I picked up these beauties from a buddy yesterday for the upcoming Black Sheep build. Proper.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Sheep Bikes

I took a trip out to Denver & Ft. Collins with the family this weekend. We were able to make it to the Black Sheep HQ & visit good friends. GREAT weekend. Here are photos of the new bike on the jig.





Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vintage Style Cruiser

I'm working on a new project bike that's based on a pre-war cruiser. The frame and fork will be something similar to this hot rod that Mike Curiak had built up by James at Black Sheep Bikes.



The idea is to stay faithful to the design of the pre-war cruisers like the Elgin Oriole (circa 1936) in the photo below but with updated handling and features. The bike will keep the single point bent top tube and tank tube and the truss fork that will carry over the single point bend theme. I'll be using disc brakes, modern bottom bracket and headset. Sexy.



RD at Shawnee Trail is working with me to get some cranks together that are faithful to the spirit of the bike. There are two things to decide - the cranks to start with and the style of the chainring. Opinions?

Crank option #1: Recycled Shimano 970 series cranks coated by RD. Ignore the gold chainring bolts - I'd go with silver or black, of course. The 970s have nice angular lines that mesh well with the frame style and gear changes would be easier than the next set (chainring versus spiderless ring).



Crank option #2: Shimano 952 series cranks. These lend themselves better to a spiderless chainring like you'd expect to see on a vintage cruiser. Gear changes would be harder but a 33t ring would cover pretty much everything I ride with a small range of cogs.




If I go with the 952s with a chainring I might be able to get Jesse at HomeBrewed to cut a custom chainring for less than the cost of a kidney on the black market. Ignorning all of the complications involved, which of these warms your hearts? Does the standard HomeBrewed ring (on the 952s above) come close enough?

(Thanks to the Chainwheel Tattoo Project in Portland, Oregon for taking the time to catalog all of the vintage chainrings.)

Williams (circa 1950's)




Cyclo Rosa (circa 1930's)



Specialties TA (circa 1950's)



Fonlupt (circa 1930's)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Its The Little Things - Shawnee Trail Bike & Performance Coating

The backpacking, bikepacking & mountain biking community is filled with good people. One of the people I've had the pleasure of meeting in the mountain biking community is RD Dale (crazy8 on mtbr.com) from Shawnee Trail Bike & Performance Coating. I can't say enough about RD as a person and his products & services are top notch. We met when I started searching for a unique crank set for my new single speed build. I'm currently riding a set of XTR960 cranks that RD modified for single speed riding and love them. My set is polished only but you can see on RD's website that there are a lot of ceramic coating options available. In my opinion, these cranks dead sexy after getting the Shimano branding off of them. Another nice benefit is that the cranks are recycled (pun intended) from the crowd that needs the latest and greatest Shimano gear and leave behind perfectly good cranks for the landfill. You can see in the photo below I don't baby my drivetrain. Its there to push me up, down, over or through what I want. If it breaks, that's weakness leaving my kit. ;)



I also run gears that were cut by Homebrewed Components and then coated by RD at Shawnee. These gears are single speed specific, light without sacrificing durability and just as important as all of that, they're made by a cottage industry builder. I'm particularly impressed with my two-piece cog. It has an aluminum base (coated in green to fit with my Irish motif) with a titanium ring rivited to the base. Lightweight and endlessly durable. The photo below is of the gear after roughly 500 miles of nasty trail. Impressive.



Last, but not least, I asked RD if he'd help me out with my tent stakes. You'll find several brands of UL stakes on the market with orange paint on the top to help with visibility. The paint is needed because its easy to lose the small ti UL stakes in the leaves. Unfortunately for me, my mild red-green color blindness dulls the contrast of orange paint in leaves and pine straw. I had RD coat the stakes in yellow and its a HUGE difference. Its unlikely I'll ever mistakenly misplace one of these babies... they practically glow in the dark!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Its The Little Things - Multi-tool Simplification

Multi-tools offered in the cycling industry are trash. Its a rule like gravity or that the guy that you're riding with for the first time will tell you he used to ride semi-pro only AFTER making you break your lungs trying to keep up with him. (I still enjoyed the ride, Kelly) To add insult to injury, they're also expensive. I recently cobbled together an upgrade to my Crank Brothers Multi-17 so I thought I'd share...

The Crank Brothers tool weighs in at 6 1/8 oz (172g). This widget includes 6 hex keys, 2 Torx bits, a flat bladed screwdriver and a chain tool that has features that look like spoke wrenches and box end wrenches included. The tools in general are low end junk. The chain tool in particular stands out to me. It is clearly designed by some sadist that hates cyclists and takes delight in destroying their gear. The chain tool itself is almost impossible to use since its semi-permanently attached to the multi-tool. You feel like you are working without the benefit of thumbs when you try to repair a busted chain on the trail. Just to add a little sizzle to the whole thing, the designer also threw in spoke mangler wrenches that are expertly toleranced to guarantee rounding out your nipples. There are also two box end openings to destroy various nuts on your bike if you're still not quite on the verge of having an aneurysm on the trail. So, in summary, bike multi-tools are:

  1. Heavy.
  2. They're cheaply made.
  3. They include things you don't need.
  4. They feel the need to add features like the spoke wrench & box end wrench openings that are so poorly made they only serve to destroy your gear.
  5. The ergonomics are so bad you can hardly use things like the chain tool.
  6. They rust ... immediately.

I replaced them with a simple, reversible ratchet driver, specific bits that I need for my particular gear & a Park chain tool. The ratchet, and the five bits (5mm hex, 4mm hex, 2.5mm hex, T10 & T25) weigh 2 3/8 oz (67g). I got the ratchet in the photo from my contacts in the Taiwan / China sourcing work that I do with my job. If your job doesn't require that you take the 1,000 hour flight (coach) to Asia, Amazon carries a few like this for cheap. I'm using Apex brand bits because I can get them easily from work and they're really good stuff. If you go this route, do yourself the favor of contacting an industrial supply house and get high quality tools. Nothing sucks more than cheap tools. Add a Park Tool CT5 chain tool and you have all of the same functionality, significantly higher quality tools, better ergonomics & less weight.

Go ride!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

TNGA Fail

The plan included me being on the trail and roughly 20% done with the TNGA. Instead I made the hard call early on Day 1 to drop out to minimize the aggravation factor of being picked up somewhere in North Georgia. It was crystal clear that my single-speed climbing kung-fu was weak in comparison to the gravel climbing I had in front of me. I failed. I didn't properly prepare. As I write this it looks like 5 of us have dropped out completely in the first full day. Its a tough ride. I did learn a few things, however:


  1. Don't be lazy. I didn't train enough. I could have forced myself through a night or two before being completely wiped out but none of it would have been fun. Obviously, an adventure on this scale will be a physical challenge but if you're not ready for it physically, the beating takes all of the fun out of it. I wasn't ready.
  2. I no longer consider the claimed 56,000 ft of climbing to be some sort of GSP glitch. This course means business and its particularly grueling in the first section. If you're planning on riding this one next year do intervals & climb the steepest trails you can find... a lot.
  3. Don't rely on the other singlespeed riders to show up. In other words, plan to ride alone. Ultimately, 36 signed up and 18 people started.Everyone had gears and disappeared not long after the first few climbs. The GPS track provided by Dave Muse was solid but you still manage to make wrong turns here and there. Have a stupid proof way of processing the cue sheets on the run.
  4. Have a more comprehensive plan. Carrying 5d of food seemed like a good idea. I didn't have to worry about where I stop. I was 100% self-sufficient. Unfortunately, the associated weight only compounded the fact that I wasn't ready to climb that much on a SS (or a geared bike more than likely).
  5. Stan's sealant is magic. On the way out the TNGA decided to give me a little kick in the pants and cut my rear tire. I stopped the air with my finger which gave the sealant a moment to set up in the hole. Its solid... zero leak. Magic!
With all of that said, I still had a great ride on Saturday. The downhills on the way out confirmed that the climbing on the way in was brutal. On one section in particular I started from the top at a dead standstill. By the time I reached the bottom I topped 30mph without any pedaling. That's steep! The weather was perfect - sunny, cool, a little bit of a breeze.



The guys organizing the race did a really nice job getting everyone organized. You can keep up with this year's race at http://trackleaders.com/tnga . You can also get interesting updates at: http://mtbcast.com.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shakedown Ride

I've decided to jump into the deep end and enter a long distance event. I could do a 100 miler to start but that's not quite my style. Instead, I signed up for the inaugural Trans-North Georgia Adventure to see if I have what it takes to do long distance single speed racing. Its 350 miles of off-road riding from the SC-GA border to the GA-AL border. Most of it is in the Chattahoochee National Forest so it highlights long remote stretches and 56,000 feet of climbing. Joy! Its also self-supported so those sponsored weenies don't have a Subaru behind them supplying fresh GU every 2 miles. There's a map of the trip here.

This weekend was one of my last chances to do a shakedown ride to see what works and what doesn't. The weather was... challenging.

Me smiling... before the endless rain.


Quick stop at a convenience store to do some contact maintenance. I was able to resist the 99c Colt 45.


I rode the ~15 miles from the house to the campsite. I was only able to get about 2 miles down the road before the rain set in. Obviously I was soaked to the bone when I got to camp. I had about 30 minutes of grace to get everything set up before the rains started again. It didn't stop raining again until about 5am. Fortunately, my camping gear is dialed in so I was able to stay dry all night long.

MLD Grace Duo - my haven from the SC monsoons


Cooking dinner in relative comfort - the tarp does nothing for 88F & 100% humidity at 9pm


So, what's next? LOTS of training so my legs don't secede halfway into the ride. Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on how to track my progress during the race via SPOT updates on TrackLeaders.com

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Shortest Bikepacking Trip on Record

I planned on doing a local bikepacking trip but the weather had other plans for me. The radar has looked something like this for the past couple of days.



I did pack everything so here's the gear:



A - Frame bag and gas tank from Epic Designs.
B - Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Duo Tarp
C - Thermarest ProLite 3 short sleeping pad
C#2 (should have been D) - Thermarest pillow
E - SealLine 10 liter dry sack. Already has Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag & Mountain Laurel Designs Serenity net tent stuffed in it. I also had shorts and a capilene silk weight t-shirt in the dry bag.
F - Silnylon bag for dinner and breakfast.
G - Vintage Camelbak MULE bag & bladder.
H - Snowpeak 600... switch between this and BackpackingLight Trapper's Mug depending on the trip.
I - Fuel canister and Snowpeak TiMax stove
J - Snowpeak french press - luxury coffee on bike and kayak trips!
K - First Aid Kit
L - MSR towel, mirror, three small droppers with Bronners, sunblock & eye drops.
M - Old DAC tent poles re-purposed to serve as tarp poles.
N - Tent stakes (2 MSR Groundhogs, 4 MSR needle stakes, 4 Ti J-hooks)
O - Granite Gear zip up envelope that I keep all the miscellaneous small stuff in. Brunton Wind, Gerber LST knife, small aluminum whistle, Petzl e-Lite.
P - Simple tool kit: pump, chain break, ratcheting driver with a few different insert bits.
Q - MYOG Bear bag & line.
R - MYOG reflectix cozy for meals
S - Paper & pencil (pens always seem to fail)
T - Wet Ones
U - MSR HyperFlow water filter

Here's everything packed on the bike:



Its a tight fit getting everything packed using the Camelbak. You can see that I had to strap the sleeping pad and pillow to the back of the backpack which would be a real problem in the rain. There's also a little too much volume close to the seatpost with the dry bag. My leg hits the bag as I'm pedaling. This wouldn't be a problem on short trips but I can imagine it would be annoying on longer trips. I could solve all these problems by getting a seat bag from Epic Designs or by using a proper backpack like my modified GoLite Ion or MLD Burn.

Total weight for the setup ended up being around 8lbs on the bike and 7lbs in the Camelbak with 1L of water.