Early wake-up on Sunday morning to head out to the North Valley: Black Canyon City. Before I left for Army duties I was supposed to go ride the BCT trail system with a group, but for some reason didn't make it there. All I remembered was people telling me it was single speeder's heaven, and not very many technical obstacles. Perfect for a welcome home ride. Considering I had been off the bike for a year or so, and that I rode this first ride on a single speed fully rigid 29er, I did alright.
The trail starts off with a very rollercoastery section that is a lot of fun, which then descends into the little wash. There was some water running, it was hot out, and it was nice to get splashed riding through it. From here on starts a grueling climb, but the landscape is gorgeous. Switchback, climb, switchback, climb, switchback, climb, "are we there yet?", "nope", switchback, climb, switchback, climb, "how about now?", "nope", switchback, climb. And finally after being seemingly eye-level with the Bradshaw mountains (ouch!), is the saddle, and the descent begins. The trail goes down a few fun little rock piles, and twists and turns.
I realized that I hadn't adjusted my break levers after Mike rode my angry little animal a few times, and the downhill was rather sketchy, since I barely reached my levers with my last knuckles. With no front suspension, I was having a rather hard time staying in control with my fingers getting knocked off the levers continuously.
We were running low on water, and the loop seemed a lot bigger than we had expected so we had to turn around. Back up the darn mountain it was, and boy did I get fried on the way back. We made it back OK after taking a little break in the wash area where there was some shade and trees. So here's the riding pics, in no particular order:
So we decided to do an 'epic' ride. But first we did some epic cleaning around the house, and made an epic decision that the carpet HAS TO GO. Carpets and dogs don't go together very well. So I guess instead of getting that sweet NorthShore bike rack to match my new car hitch will have to wait. So after doing some epic laundry, we quickly jumped on the bikes and took off. But not really, it didn't go that smooth. The plan was to ride from the house, jump on the canal to Red Mountain, ride the trails to Usery, do a lollipop around Pass Mountain, and then come back. So we weren't going to drive to the trailhead, and therefore our routine was a little messed up. I locked up the house, put a key in my camelback, rolled the bikes out of the garage, and Mike followed me out while shutting the garage door. But my camelback with the key in it was still in the garage. Epic Fail. Eventually I got it out of there, and we were able to finally start our epic ride, during which we had to beat not just sundown, but also the rain clouds. Not that a cloudy sky guarantees rain, but being from Holland, I felt rushed to make it to my destination before getting hit by a massive rainstorm. I think somewhere along the way I felt a few drops, but that might have been my imagination. The massive rains seemed to have stopped though, and all that is left is the remnants of a once violent gush of water:
So the Canal starts right at the end of the street, and is a true straight shot to the Red Mountain trailhead, it dumps at Power road, just a little bit down the hill from Pig Trail. Usually we park right across the street from there, and do a short little routine loop, Pig Trail, up Hawes, Disneyland to Saguaro Trail, down the switchbacks, and depending on time, Mine Trail, otherwise back to the four way and either take Pig Trail back or Ridge Trail. This time however, we felt it might be appropriate to save some energy, and just go up Ridge Trail to Saguaro, down the switchbacks, up Mine Trail, and catch Twisted Sister to Big Rock and Wild Horse. After the rains, the desert looks really green and lush, and some wild horses flocked to the normally bone dry area. Here is Mike on a collision course with one:
Shortly after this picture, my right hand pinky finger started cramping up, pulling to the left, crossing over my other fingers, and causing annoying discomfort, and ruining the sweet downhill that followed. When approaching the NRA Pit, the sky was getting awful dark, and there wouldn't be enough daylight left to make it around Pass Mountain. We democratically decided to make it the turn around point, and head back to the canal.
Once back on the canal I got some evil stink-eye from this baby cow from the Indian Res.
I'm pretty sure it cursed me, because shortly after that I noticed my handlebars being a little too close to my front tire. When I got off the bike and inspected it, I confirmed my suspicion that my brand new fork had just pooped out on me, and lost about half its travel. So today I will be getting on the phone with Marzocchi to get it fixed under warranty. That does mean that I have to slap a Nixon on there for the time being, which I'm not too happy about, but at least there's a spare and I can keep riding!
So all in all, we did about 25 miles, which is not bad, but I'm not sure if it's truly 'epic'.
I finally picked up the new frame yesterday over lunch. I decided to go with a Transition Covert, because of the winning combo of a 67 deg head angle, and 6" of travel. Also I would much rather support a small, rider oriented company than a huge commercial cycling enterprise. Transition is also more focused on the more demanding riders, so I can be fairly sure that this bike is up to today's tasks, but also future tasks.
Anyways, it must have been the longest half-day-at-work I've had so far. With the frame in the trunk of the car, sitting in the parking lot, all I wanted to do was to go home and assemble it. I'm surprised I still got some things done at work, nevertheless I sprinted out of the building at 5 o'clock sharp, anxious to get to the real work...
Of course, traffic wasn't moving as fast I would have liked, and everybody was getting in my way, and slowing me down, and it seemed like an eternity before I reached the garage+bike stand+tools. But before I could even touch the new frame, the parts have to come off of the old frame first. With a bright orange shiny thing calling my name in the corner of the garage I went to work.
First I took the chain off, then all the derailleur cables. I pitched the 'old' housing, which would make good spare, there's plenty of it. Removed the old shifter cables, which were still in good shape, but I just wanted a new start with the new frame, so in the spares bin they went. Then I went ahead and removed the brake calipers, and wrapped them around the handlebars. Since the handlebars were going to go on the new bike as-is, I didn't have to move anything around.
I took off the derailleurs and crank set, threw them in a crate, together with the chain, for some extensive cleaning and regreasing. While these parts were soaking in Foamy, I dismounted the bottom bracket (right side=reverse thread!!!), cleaned it off and put it in the corner with the new frame. Then I cleaned off the drive train parts that had been soaking, dried them, then lubed and greased them.
Next I removed the wheels, and the handlebars. Then took off the fork and stem. Took the crown race off of the fork, and zip tied it to the rest of the headset. I put the new race on from the new headset, greased it a little, and put it in the corner with the new frame. Now pretty much all the parts I need are off the old bike, so the old frame gets tossed in the corner, as soon as I feel like it, it will get cleaned, regreased and ready to be sold.
Now it's time to get the new frame ready. I start by pressing in the headset cups, and zip-tie the rest of the headset on there. Next I take the bottom bracket, squeeze some anti-seize on the threads and spindle, and mount it on there. Then slide the seatpost in, and clamp it in the 'bike stand'. Take the zip-tie off the headset, assemble it, and slide the fork in. I like to use innertube to protect the frame against chain slap, so I wrapped some of that on there:
So with all of that on there, it's just a matter of slapping all the parts on: crankset, derailleurs, stem, handlebars, housing, brakes, shifters, etc. etc. And then the real fun starts, meaning the initial bike setup and fine tuning. Or at least that's what I was hoping for. Everything seemed to go really smooth until I wanted to mount the rear derailleur. I could not for the life of me get the bolt started in the thread! Help was on its way, and by converting a crappy old derailleur into a useful tool, the derailleur hanger was fixed. Turns out the thread was tapped from the rear, and it wasn't tapped all the way through. Luckily the chain length didn't change, and all I had to do was adjust some limits here and there, and the B adjustment on the rear had to be radically adjusted. Drivetrain is ready to go, yay SRAM!
Then it was time to adjust cockpit & handling. I slapped the seat on there, and adjusted the seat height. I took it out for it's maiden voyage on the street to check drivetrain, suspension and cockpit. Drivetrain was extremely smooth as expected, had to let some air out the rear suspension, and add some to the front. Also, as expected, the stem was too long. I already saw this coming when I checked the geometry of the frame, the top tube was half an inch longer than my other frame, and since I like to sit back a little more rather than moving the seat forward, I had to swap stems with another bike. Then with some final tweaks, it was absolutely perfect! After some playing around in the street, I could already tell the much improved handling and smoothness. On Saturday morning I will take it on its first ride, and plan on typing up a ride report + review! Plans are to go all the way down Desert Classic, up Telegraph Pass, then down National, which is about a 20 mile gnar loop...
So here's the final setup:
Frame: 2008 Transition Covert - Transparent Blood Orange - Small (16.5") Rear Shock: 2004 Progressive 5th Element Air, 7.5"x2.0" Fork: 2009 Marzocchi 55, ATA, TST2, 120-160mm adjustable, 20mm QR - Black/Red Headset: Cane Creek S-3, Sealed Bearings, 1-1/8" - Black Stem: 2008 Azonic Baretta 40mm 10deg rise - Silver Handlebars: 2009 Raceface Evolve DH Riser OS Bars - White Grips: ODI Ruffian Lock-On Twist Length - Black/Red Clamps Front wheel: 2009 DMR Revolver Supergun 20mm Front Thru Hub, 2008 DT Swiss X430 Rim, DT Swiss Champion 2.0 Silver Spokes, Red Nipples Brakes: 2008 Avid Juicy 5 Hydraulic Disk Brakes, 165mm Rotors - Silver Shifters: 2009 SRAM X0 Twist Shifters 9x3SPD - Black Seatpost: 2009 31.6mm Ritchey Comp - Black Seat: 2009 Nashbar Race Seat V1 - Black/Red Front Derailleur: 2009 SRAM X7 34.9mm Low Clamp - Silver/Black Rear Derailleur: 2007 SRAM X0 Long Cage - Silver/Black Crankset: RaceFace Evolve XC, 22T, 32T, Bash, 170mm - Black Rear Wheel: 2008 DT Swiss 370 QR Rear Hub, 2008 DT Swiss X430 Rim, DT Swiss Champion 2.0 Black Spokes, Black Nipples Cassette: 2009 SRAM PG970, 9 SPD - Silver Chain: SRAM PG971 9SPD w/ Powerlink - Silver Front tire: Kenda Nevegal UST Tubeless 2.35 Rear tire: Maxxis Ignitor Tubeless 2.35 Pedals: Ritchey Logic - Black