Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mud, Snow, a Bike, and January.

What is it about that combination and me that makes me take a bike out and get it all muddy? Seriously?

With all the Austro-Daimler building this weekend, I decided to take STeve out for a spin... to test out the cross tires, yeah, that's it.

For January riding, this ain't bad.

There was some mud involved.

I rode out Woody Mountain Road a ways, then out to the city well pump houses on closed roads. I definitely have a lot more respect for Cross riders after today. Pedaling through mud, snow and softpack is hard work, especially on skinny tires. Yet somehow it was easier than I recall it being on the mountain bike last year.

And it was a lot of fun.

Mileage: 20

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Customer Service: How to Earn a Customer for Life.

Earlier this week, I posted about my hard introduction to the asphalt that is the intersection at University Drive and Woodlands Village Boulevard. I've since then successfully navigated that intersection, with no broken pedals. However, I now know that I've left my mark on the pavement, in the form of a faint white gouge from the broken pedal stub.

But, that's not what I'm here to tell you about.

I said I planned to send off the pictures of the pedal to Crank Brothers, just to see what they thought of the situation, maybe someone might learn something from it.

I certainly didn't expect to get these a few days later:
A brand new set of Candy 2 pedals, to replace a 4 year old pair of abused, no longer under warranty pedals, that I had no proof of purchase for. They didn't have to do this for me, but customer service like this rocks, and definitely puts Crank Brothers at the top of my list for excellent service.

But... orange pedals?

I have a bike that would like orange pedals....
STeve's new stompers. Not bad.

In other news, I put more parts on the Austro-Daimler today. Now, I had planned on posting up pictures of the bike after each individual part went on, but I really don't feel like ordering that many pictures in a post, and some are fairly redundant, and others aren't turning out as well as I'd like. So you get the Reader's Digest version for now. If people want, maybe I'll put together a Picasa album with all the pictures I remembered to take of the build.

Here's what I started off with today:

Now, I know that's not what I left off with. "It didn't have wheels before!" I know, I know. I got a little antsy, and got the rear hub put together, then tossed both wheels on the truing stand. After that... well... I wanted to see what the bike looked like with wheels on it.

You understand, right?

Anyways, Here's how it sits now:
All major components installed. All that's left are brake cables, saddle, bar tape, and initial adjustments. There were some hiccups today, like realizing just why I had to respace the rear axle wider. The tires I had planned on using, the ones that were on STeve, were too big and wouldn't fit in the frame. (STeve now has more aggressive tread cross tires, instead of smooth ones)

The problem I have now is that I hate front derailleurs. The friction shifter that handles the front derailleur can't handle the spring tension from it, so it slips. I have ideas as to how to counter it, but we'll see.

For now, it looks a lot like a bike.
Mileage: ~8 ish.

Monday, January 23, 2012

That's a new one for the Wall of Shame...

I suppose I should preface this entry with "Don't worry, I'm OK." There, now that I'm sure you're freaking out, I'll tell you a story.

So... today I was on my way to the bank, and, of all places, the bike shop, when I suddenly found myself and my bike sprawled out in a busy intersection.

Don't worry, I didn't get hit by a car. Nor did I hit a car. This is a tale of catastrophic structural failure.

I was following a line of cars making a left hand turn onto Woodlands Village Boulevard. We had a green light, as did the oncoming lane. I looked through the car in front of me to see the way was clear for both of us to proceed, and started cranking hard, as usual.

What happened next was not usual. Not at all.

As I stomped with my left foot, and pulled up with my right foot, powering into the intersection, there was a loud snap, and I stomped the pavement with no small amount of force with said left foot. I vaguely recall wondering why I was quickly tipping to the left, and then I went down. I got up quickly, picked up the bike, and speed-walked to the center dividing median.

Long story short, this is what happened:
The pedal body stayed attached to my shoe until I got into the crosswalk, where it detached without me noticing. Fortunately a lady (who I assume saw the whole thing) was nice enough to pick it up for me. I was just too hopped up on adrenaline to notice that my left foot was stepping funny.

So, I chilled for a moment, lamented that my left side was soaked from having fallen on wet pavement and the fact I had just washed that jacket, checked the bike over, and of course, took the picture above. I took about 5 steps toward home, then decided "Hey, I still have one good pedal. Might as well ride home!"

Riding two miles with one leg? Not fun. But it sure beats walking.

So, after a trip to Absolute, I took some more detailed pics of the damage.
The missing pieces of plastic where the spindle enters the body are still in the intersection.

Seems I stomped it into the pavement hard enough to crack the wing on the right side.

The rust spots developed after I got home... this was about three hours after the incident. Figure it broke, got smacked into salty road water, rust is gonna happen on bare steel like that.

The only thing I can figure is stress fatigue. Bi is my highest mileage bike, and I do not go easy on it. I pedal hard, and when I'm taking off, I can sometimes apply enough force to bow the chainstays outward enough to put a good inch of slack in a tight chain. Thinking about it now, I honestly can't say I'm surprised this happened. Maybe I should refine my riding style to prevent this from happening in the future. We'll see.

I will be sending Crank Brothers these pictures, for their input. I don't remember when I bought these pedals, I don't even have the receipt for them, and I'm sure they're out of warranty. I just want to know what they think of the failure. For what it's worth, if you take good care of them, Crank Brothers makes a great product. When I went to Absolute after the crash with Jack, I bought a new set of eggbeaters for the Austro-Daimler, for when it gets to that point. This broken spindle could have happened to anyone, on any brand of pedal. I just lost the coin flip for today, I guess.

The bike is fine, aside from some scrapes on the left end of the bar. I had an extra set of pedals, the ones I took off from Henry. Same color even. I'll be riding Bi to work tomorrow.

Myself? I'm not shaking it off as easily as Bi is. I whacked my elbow pretty hard on the pavement, and have a pretty good knot on it, as well as a few scrapes. It's gonna be pretty stiff tomorrow morning. My left hip also seems to have taken a hit, as it's a little sore. Definitely could have been a lot worse.

Though... once again, my helmet did absolutely nothing.

Mileage: 5 or so.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Assembly Required.

No ride today... Just some housework, repairs, and such. A little work on the garage door to make it work smoother, fixing a chair, stuff like that.

And assembling a bike. At least a little bit.

First, I took a bike frame, one that I've had since September, that I've been itching to build, and I piled bike parts around it, like so:
The Austro-Daimler frame and Tange fork I picked up in September, Tange Headset, Nitto Technomic stem, Tiagra brakes, Silver downtube shifters, Tiagra front and rear derailleurs, and SRAM PG-950 11-26 cassette. Not all of these will be going on this time around.

First, the rear brake:

Then, after some... judicial tapping with a hammer and some blocks of wood, the headset was installed, thus joining the frame and fork in blissful smooth-spinning marriage:

The front brake joins the party, after drilling the back of the crown out to accept the Allen nut:

While I was installing the shifters, Jack took Su out, and distracted me with the laser in the snow:

The weather is the main reason why I didn't ride today... I wimped out. Windy and sleety/snowy.


After Jack, Su, and the laser went back inside, I finished the downtube shifters:

And to finish things off for tonight, the stem:

As it sits, it's nowhere near complete, but it's starting to look bike-like... and I'm not ashamed to say I can stare at this for hours:

I held off on the derailleurs until I have gears and cables to work with. And before I do that, I need to paint the crankset I have so it'll match the chainrings and the rest of the bike. It's black right now, silver would look so much better. The rear wheel needs to be re-dished and trued, as well as new bearings, before I install the cassette. The bottom bracket needs to be rebuilt, and I need the proper tools for that. And obviously, there are more parts to get.

Now, it's not a whole lot of work, what I've done for tonight, but I took my time for two reasons. Firstly, because threaded headsets, forks, and downtube shifters are all fairly new to me, despite being old-school. I just don't have much experience with them, so I wanted to make sure I did everything right.

Secondly, I've been dreaming about building this frame up since I got it, and now that it's actually happening, I want to savor it.

All that said... it's hard to wait until I can ride it.
Mileage: zippo today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ride to restore (In)Sanity: Road Ride.

After a rather... long... week at work, I decided to dust off STeve and hit the tarmac. After-work rides are fun, and relaxing, but I'm fairly numb after 10 hours at work, so my enjoyment is sometimes muted, not to mention that I have to go to work the next day, so I can't just run myself ragged like on some of my weekend rides.

My plan was to ride out and around Mormon Lake today. So, when the temperature hit freezing this morning, I pulled STeve off the wall and got him ready for a ride. About 2 hours later I actually left, which gave it time to warm up to 50 degrees outside. A comfy temperature, I though.

And it was. Shorts, jersey, arm warmers and medium gloves weather, and I was considering ditching the armwarmers after a few minutes. But, the closer I got to Lake Mary, the more the wind started blowing. A headwind. My least favorite kind of wind. And it was cold, cutting wind. The kind of wind that no matter how hard you fight against it, it just saps all the heat out of you.

So I stopped.

I wanted to ride to enjoy myself, and I wasn't enjoying myself with this wind. So I stopped just past the Upper Lake Mary dam, had a snack, took a few pictures...
Looking towards the dam... the lake is pretty low.

I thought this was cool... where the ice ends and the lake starts. The water near the dam is heated, to keep the water intakes from freezing, I assume.

And frozen lake. I hear that the ice is thick enough to walk on... I'm not that brave.

...And then turned around, revelling in the fact that my horrible headwind was now a tailwind. I took a detour up the hill to the NPOI observatory on Andersen Mesa, which, from Lake Mary, is a steep, unbroken two mile climb. I did it pretty quick, but I was beat at the top.

After coasting down, with the wind at my back I headed home. Along the way, I noticed a group of riders catching up to me. Out of spite, I stepped up my pace a bit, curious to see if I could maintain a faster speed. They chased me all the way home. More and more, I realize I ride faster when I have someone to chase/chasing me. I guess somewhere deep down, I am a little competitive.

Which is good I suppose... because I'm stoked about this:
I'm on the Absolute Bikes Racing Team!

Guess this means I should sign up for a race or two, now. I was planning on heading down to Prescott to watch the Whiskey Offroad race in April, then maybe hit up some singletrack while I'm there, but I'm considering more and more signing up for one of the shorter stages of the race.

After all, someone has to come in last, might as well be me.

Mileage: 25.2

Monday, January 2, 2012

Friday Bike Ride: San Tan Valley

I miss going on Friday night bike rides. My Fridays have turned into date night with Alex and our neighbors when we are all up for it. It's always a ton of fun, but I miss my bike buddy. Riding by myself doesn't have the same spark as our giggly nights listening to music on crappy speakers bungied to Kev's bikes. Or racing each other and me basking in my win only when Kev is super tired. Yay for me! And just the relaxation of it all.

But! I thought it would be super fun to have a long distance Friday Bike Day. We wouldn't be riding at the same time, but it would be in the spirit of things. Seems like a nice idea for the last Friday of the year.

I decided to pop out of bed and head to San Tan Regional Park, hoping to ride the trails up in elevation and catch the sunrise from a great view point. My legs have other ideas. Since I have not been riding regularly at all the five miles with a slight uphill kinda got to me and I didn't have enough time to get in and ride to where I wanted to be for the sun rise.

So I waited at the park entrance for a few minutes while the sun peaked out from behind a hill. It was beautiful as always, and I just spent the time thinking about past rides. And future rides as well, thinking about how I want to ride to the park entrance more often and build myself up, and eventually ride in the park with all it's hilly trails and beautiful landscape.

Once the sun came up and blinded me, I cruised on home just in time for work to begin. It was a nice ride.

I wanted to see the view from the plane...
Mileage: about 10...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Merry New Year. Let's Ride Bikes!

Annnd, post number two of the day.

A few weeks ago Team Absolute started to organize a New Year's ride in Sedona. So of course I said yes, I'd be there.

It was warm, it was pretty, and the 15 or so of us took off from the Village of Oak Creek at about noon-thirty on some of the gnarliest trails I've been on yet.

There were flat tires, crashes, and I lost count of how many trees I bounced off.

Now... how did I get down there? I slid down!

Now, I'm tired, and I'm sore, and I have scrapes and scratches on my arms and legs, but it was good to be out on the trails. This was my first time using the bike carrier on Slide for a park 'n ride, and I feel a little more confident in it after today. I'll probably do more riding down there as a result.
Mileage: 15.8

Friday Night Bike Night: Flagstaff! (Friday, December 30)

Yes, I'm making two posts in one day, because one is very late, that being this one.

So Thursday night, TC tells me to go ride to someplace cool on Friday. It being the last Friday of the year, we should have a Friday Night Bike Night, even though we're not in the same place now. She would do a ride of her own in Queen Creek. Sounded like a good idea to me.

So I spent Friday at work thinking of where to go, and remembered a spot off of Lake Mary Road that I found in Google Earth. I managed to take off from work a little early and rode fairly fast out there, since I wanted to get there with enough light to see and take pictures. Also, because I knew I would be walking one I left the pavement for all the mud and snow out there.


So, I found the turn off, just north of the Lower Lake Mary dam. I stashed Bi a ways off the road, locked to a pretty substantial tree, and started walking. It was a lot of cross country, the dirt road leading where I wanted to go alternated between ankle deep mud, water, and ice.

But it wasn't a long hike.

Old footings for a railroad bridge near Lake Mary. And not a small bridge at that. The big tower is about 30 feet tall, and the span is probably over 100 feet. I've been looking for more information on it, but haven't found anything yet. The area around Flagstaff has a lot of abandoned railroad right of ways, most of them belonging to the old lumber mill, so it's a good chance that that's what this is.

I want to go back in the spring when it's dry, and explore a little more when the snow isn't knee deep.
One a railroad, now a dirt road.

Bi, waiting patiently for me to come back.

Sunset on the peaks.

The ride home was a bit slower, and cooler, but it was nice watching the light fade. It was a good ride, I think.

Mileage: 17.4 (For Friday)