Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Weekend = All Trails To Ourselves

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'.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oranje boven!

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.

Sparkle, sparkle!

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Still riding!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the fence

I might have outgrown my bike... yep. Apparently what I do would be classified as All Mountain/Freeride/Enduro. My bike is borderline XC/All Mountain. How I came to this conclusion? I think I'm going to break the frame one of these days. The rear triangle needs to be tightened up every three rides, and the frame has a flaw in it from factory. When the rear shock totally bottoms out, the frame tubes will actually hit each other. For this reason I have not been jumping the bike too much, and I avoid hopping side ways as much as I can. This is stupid, because I really don't want to worry about my frame potentially breaking on me out on the trail. So I've been lurking at different frames. This is what I'm considering at this point:

Kona One20 - This one's awesome because it comes in a 14", but it's a 120mm travel bike, and I'm scared I'll outgrow it. I'm probably more interested in a 160mm travel bike. It's well built though, and looks like it could handle the abuse I will throw at it, it will be nice and light though. I'm mostly worried that it would feel just like the Spec Saphire that I demo'd a while ago, which I didn't like. Too much of an XC feel and handling, looking for that slacker head angle.

Kona Coilair - This is the All Mountain/Freeride bike. It's a 160mm travel bike, but I think the smallest size is probably 15" or 16", and obviously it will weigh a bunch more than the One20.

Transition Preston/Covert - Premium frames. If I can get my hands on one for a fair price I wouldn't hesitate. I'm worried about the standover on the Covert though, the top tube is actually curved UP. The Preston looks like it would be a good fit.

Ellsworth Truth - These can be had for a little cheaper, they're probably fairly heavy I'd imagine. I'm trying to stay in the 30lbs to 35lbs range...

For now I'll just try and make my frame work, make some adjustments to the rear triangle and see how it does. Throw the new fork on there, and hopefully it will actually make a huge difference. I'm pretty sure the 20mm front end will be nice.

Javelina Night Ride

Last night was an extremely fun night ride on Javelina trail at South Mountain.

We rode from Pima Canyon up the jeep trail to the National/Mormon trailhead, then hanging a right onto Mormon, and then another right to the Javelina trailhead. The trail starts with some tricky switchbacks, and there used to be a straight way down that I took once, but it was blocked off with rocks. It was hard to spot another way through in the dark, so down the switchbacks I went. The left turn with the step-down/side drop off I still can't clean, it changes every time I'm out there too. It then dips into a small sand wash, and then comes the climb fest. The first couple of yards or not too bad, it's somewhat steep with some loose rock. The loose rock increases in size as you go up further, and in the middle is a very steep section where you basically have two choices in lines you can ride (that I could see in the dark). If you hang to the left, it's just more loose rock and it makes you spiral around a steep climb, to the right is a hardpack/slickrock very steep irregular climb, which I think is the easier way. Someday I will have the leg power to make it up that, not last night though. So I hike-a-biked up that, and jumped back on for the rest of the climb which is just sand over hardpack, somewhat steep. Once you've made it to the saddle, the fun starts. The trail is like a ridge trail, but the drop offs to the side are not that horrifying. It's very fast singeltrack alongside the mountain, with big chunky rocks and sharp turns. It's all fairly easily rideable, and a lot of fun in the dark.

The trail ends in a little parking lot behind the mountain, and from here there are a few trails, Beverly Canyon, East Loops, that loop back to the Pima Canyon parking lot. These trails aren't too exciting, some nasty technical climbs that are very challenging, but other than that no real obstacles. On this side of South Mountain there is an enormous contraption of trails though, I don't know them all by name, but I usually find my way back snaking through. Not last night though, I took a trail, dipped through a wash, and somehow ended up riding on the green of the neighboring golf course. No biggie, just played around on the little stair steps and mini climbs, then took the golf cart trail back to the parking lot. Those darn golf courses invading the desert.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Second Weekend Of January

Another exciting weekend, mostly spent on two wheels. On Saturday we checked out the Lost Goldmine trail on the mountain bikes, out in Apache Junction, at the base of the Superstition Mountains (I will upload the riding pics later). On Sunday, yet another dirt bike day, out at Lower Sycamore Creek, brought the camera but didn't take a single picture :(.

Lost Goldmine trail (and connecting loops)

The trailhead is buried in a very nice AJ neighborhood, and in what seems to be the middle of nowhere is a big parking lot and trailhead. There are a lot of hikers here, but hardly any of them are here for the Lost Goldmine trail. There is a trail that branches off a few yards from the trailhead, climbing a ways up onto the mountain, that is the one most people take for hiking.

Coming out of the parking lot, there is a short climb up onto the first hill, very loose rock, with some moderate switchbacks. Very fun, but can be a challenge when you're not really warmed up. The next couple of miles remind me a lot of the front side of Pass Mountain, the dips into the washes, with technical climbs out. In general, the trail is very rocky, and very loose, very chunky, very fun. After a couple of miles (say about 4 or 5), the singletrack ends, and you can take a jeep trail heading south. This double track is actually very fast, not technical, but large rocks and boulders. Like a non-technical downhill you can bomb down.

A couple hundred yards down there's a turn to the right (maybe more like a mile), and there's some more of this same kind of jeep trail. Then hidden in a turn, there's a rock canister, indicating the beginning of the single track that meanders back towards the parking lot. This is an extremely fun trail, fast, mostly hardpack desert. Very twisty, lots of switchbacks, little rock obstacles, even a large log. This trail basically takes you back to the fenceline of the neighborhood and turns back north towards the parking lot. This north heading section is pretty tricky at some spots, it's back to the loose rock.

I'm looking forward to riding this hidden gem again, let them South Mountain people keep fighting the crowds, I can have this single track all to myself. It has a little bit of everything: tough technical obstacles, fun downhill, fast singletrack with some jumping obstacles.

It will be even more fun, once I get this delivered:

Yeah baby! 160mm of enjoyment. I will rebuild my front wheel with a 20mm DMR Revolver hub and red/silver DT Swiss Spokes/Nipples. Hopefully I'll be able to ride my new setup next weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

Started the year with a brutal ride on T100, rode 1A counter clockwise, and branched off on a goat trail at the saddle. This was mostly unrideable hike-a-bike, but good excersize.

On Sunday finally took the dirt bikes out again. Rode around the lower sycamore area, sandwashes, some singletrack. Great way to start the new year. Sorry for the glare in the picture, it was sunny and warm....