Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 3 Jon In Wonderland

Or, How I rode a 2008 Surly 1x1 Straight Into Obsession.

As I mentioned, in the last post, once I had the Surly rideable, I was hooked. I wanted to make it usable for me, and paramount to that was lowering the standover height. Two things came to mind, in that regard: wheels and fork.

I figured that if I actually ran 26" wheels, which the frame was built for, that would lower the top tube somewhat. And, the Pugsley fork is a straight-blade, suspension-corrected version. The frame originally came with a non-suspension-corrected fork with curved blades.

So, I set out to find a suitable fork, but it had to be affordable. So, no actual Surly fork (people tend to be proud of them, price-wise), nor anything custom.

The answer came in the form of an Origin 8 fork, which is a near carbon copy of the original Surly unit. 

The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that the disc brake tab on the Origin 8 is shaped slightly differently. The legs are near-identical, much more so than the photos show. (Origin 8 photo from Amazon, Surly photo from City Bikes)

So, I ordered the O-8 fork, and some 26x3 tires, identical to the tires that I use on my Mongoose Beast, along with some used Avid BB-7 Calipers and some Avid brake levers. Once they arrived, I put them on the bike:

I even stuck some Surly decals on the fork. (I also left the Origin-8 decals on the side. It's more of an homage than a counterfeit, in my mind.)

The fork looked great, and did lower the top tube quite a bit, even with the 3" tire. I didn't have a 26" wheel to use on the back, so I was searching, even as I installed the front wheel and the fork.

I had 26" wheels, but I was looking for a wheel with an Alfine 8 internally-geared hub. They are rare as hen's teeth, pre-built, but I was really hoping to find one, since built wheels often cost less than the retail cost of the parts. But, I really wanted that hub because I wanted to build this 1x1 up as my new bike-packing rig. I already have enough single speeds!

Then, it happened; I found a used Afline 8 wheel, 26" rim on eBay for the equivalent cost of a new Alfine hub. I hit the Buy It Now button, and sat back to wait on its arrival.

A week later, the wheel arrived and, when I went to install the tire ... I found that it was actually a 24" rim! Oh, man! I misread the listing. 

So, I calculated spoke sizes, ordered spokes and nipples, and looked around the shop for a wheel I could pull the rim off of. Then, I happened to look at something else on eBay, and opened up my list of items I had ordered.

Shit. The listing specifically said my wheel had a 26" rim, and I just spent $90 on spokes and nipples!

I contacted the seller and, after I explained the situation, he refunded me the $90 it had cost me for the spokes and nipples. I already had a rim, so I was happy with that.

But, I still had not hit the bottom of the rabbit hole.

I was looking at pictures of the 1x1, when I saw a photo of the limited edition 1x1=11 Anniversary Edition. That bike came with 24" wheels , with 60mm rims, and 3" tires. I figured that a 4" would run in the frame, on my 25mm (internal) rim, so I ordered a tire. Then, I found another tire which would deliver more quickly, so I cancelled the first tire, and ordered the two-day delivery tire.

Once the tire arrived, I mounted it up, and installed the wheel:

I installed the hub into the track-style ends on the frame using the anti-rotation washer for vertical dropouts. This points the cable stop up along the seat stay, which allows the cable to run along the top tube (my preference). I hooked the cable up along the opposite side of the hub than how it is intended, which reversed the action on the shifter. 

The Alfine shifters are low-normal, as opposed to the old-school shifters which are high-normal. In plain English, the Alfine shifters are backward to what I am used to, and this made it "normal".

I wish I could claim to have figured that little modification out, but I read about it on a guy's blog, recently.

The 24x4" tire has a rolling diameter about a quarter-inch larger than a 26x2.2 tire, so the bottom bracket is not lowered. The front 26x3.0 is another quarter-inch bigger than that.

So, the bike is finished. Built. Ready to ride ... right?

Stay tuned. The rabbit hole goes even deeper. Believe it, or not...


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, one of the things I am striving toward is to have non-aluminum frames for all of the bikes I can (titanium and steel, to be precise ... not too interested in plastic frames and forks, any more).

The bike I had built up for the COG 100 race was based on my old aluminum Bikes Direct "Motobecane" 29er frame. It is a worthy frame, and it rides very nicely. But, it is aluminum, so I started looking for a replacement.

I found it in the form of a circa 2009 Redline Monocog frame and fork on the Bay of e. I ordered it up and, when it arrived, I swapped the parts over from the "Motobecane". (I put that in quotes because BD simply owns the rights to that name, and it has nothing to do with the French company from the past.)

The dimensions of the Monocog are a close match to the "Moto", and the ride is very similar, as well.

Aesthetically, it is head and shoulders above the "Moto", in my eyes. 

One of the good things about both of the frames is that, if I so desire, I can swap the tires out and transform the bike into a single-speed 29er mtb. But, for now, it remains a gravel/long distance rig.

As an aside, I am thinking of trimming down the front extensions on both of my Velo Orange Crazy Bars handlebars (I have one on both this bike and my single-speed fat bike). I don't do anything with them that requires the length, and they are unwieldy, to me, at times...

The Crazy Bar is a 666mm wide bar with a 45-degree sweep, just like the Surly Open bar. It just doesn't have the forward bend from the stem, like the Surly, which makes it easier to mount lights, and other accessories. The feel is near-identical.

Those are my two favorite bars, right now.

Anyway, back to bike building:

As I was working on the Monocog, I kept hitting my head on the Surly frame, which was hanging on the crank of another bike on the shop. I had a guy messaging me about buying the Surly, but he was kinda driving me nuts by asking me question after question, the answers to most of which are available on the Surly website if you just look.

Finally, I simply messaged him that the frame was no longer available, and removed my listing from FB marketplace. I decided that I would build the frame up with whatever random parts I had lying about, and then I might try to sell the whole bike, locally.

Little did I know the rabbit hole I was heading down, with the 1x1...

 I built the frame up with 27.5 wheels shod with a 2.8 tire in the rear and a 3 in the front (the frame would not clear a 3" tire, between the chain stays). The crank is an old XT Octalink set complete with Deore rat-trap pedals, Surly Open Bars, the Pugsley 100 fork, random seat and really cheap Chinese disc brakes and levers. Ergon grips give you something to grab onto.

The standover height problem was still there, with the 27.5 Plus tires (even on 23mm internal width rims), and the brakes were pretty poor; wooden feeling and not very powerful. (Of course, in their defense, the pads were brand-new and not broken in.)

Of course, since I was using the Pugsley fork, that meant I had the option of running the 26x4 tire on the front, as well.

I made the mistake of riding the 1x1 a few times, and any plan of selling it went by the wayside. Despite the tall standover, this has always been one of my favorite frames to ride. I decided to upgrade the brakes, and maybe do some other things to make it better suited to my use.

Aaaand ... that's when I went down the proverbial rabbit-hole.

Next post: Bicycle Therapy - Part 3    Jon In Wonderland


Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 1

Since my last post, I have been through some wellness issues which kept me down (both physically and emotionally) for a bit. There was a period of a couple of weeks when I was told by my doctor to stay off of the bike. I missed the COG 100 bike race (which was epically difficult, due to the weather), and I just generally was not happy.

So, as I sometimes do, I kept my hands busy to keep my brain occupied with something other than my woes. In other words, I have built a bunch of bikes, since I last checked in. So, I thought I'd post up what I've been doing.

I'll break it up into a few posts, so you don't get bored with one big post.

First, I finally built up my 1989 DiamondBack Formula One frame. I have none of the original parts, so it is not a restoration, by any means. But, it is a hoot to ride, and doesn't take up a lot of room in the house, so it is my "convenient bike", for just jumping on and running a quick errand.

Since I built it up, I have added a seat bag with some tools and a flat kit, plus a frame bag for slightly larger items.

 I have a nicer fork in the shop building, waiting to be installed. It's not installed yet, because I have been really busy, since that fork arrived, trying to straighten up the building and weed out the stuff I don't need. But, that's another post for another day...

I love the Brooks Cambium saddles. I have them on five bikes, now!

This is the third F1 bike I have owned. The first was a 1988 DiamondBack, which I built up as a pretty weird road bike, 17 or 18 years ago. Shawn B ended up with that one.

The second was a Rockfish frame which I converted to track ends and built up as a fixed gear. I sold it, and immediately regretted that. (If you bought that bike and are reading this, I would gladly buy it back, btw.)

As I was working on this bike, I kept looking at my other bikes and thinking of changes which needed to be made. One big change was to my fat-front studded tired fixed gear commuter.

This was an aluminum cruiser frame which I had gotten to replace the Surly 1x1 frame I had used for a couple of years as my fat-front winter bike. The Surly frame is a Large, and I have negative standover clearance on it, with the fat tire mounted to the suspension-corrected Pugsley 100 fork. So, I got this frame, thinking it would alleviate the standover height problem, and work well enough to suit me.

It did both, but I really couldn't stand the looks of it. Plus, the frame is aluminum, and I am moving away from aluminum frames, as I get the opportunity. So, I searched around, for a week or so, and finally found an older cro-mo GT Ruckus single speed mtb frame on eBay at an affordable price. I nabbed it and, when I built it, I used my Ritchey cro-mo fat fork on it. The color was a close match, between the fork and frame, and I liked the fork, anyway.

The Ritchey fork has the 135mm hub spacing, and I had a wheel I had built up to use in it. The wheel has a Shimano rear hub in it, to fit the dropouts. But, that provided me with a challenge in mounting a cyclometer to the bike.

The freehub body on the wheel puts the fork leg quite far from the spokes. So, I was trying to figure out how to space the bike computer pickup out from the fork leg, to get it close enough to the spoke magnet. Finally, I realized that I was going about it all wrong.

Instead of spacing the pickup out to the magnet, I ended up spacing the magnet out to the pickup. I installed a single-speed kit on the hub, then mounted the magnet to the cog. A couple of zip ties keep the cog from spinning, and everything works as it should.

The new frame fits, and looks really good (to me, anyway), including the "matching" fork.

The cruiser frame went back into the box it arrived in, and I suppose I will try to sell it, eventually.

Next up: More steel in the quiver!


Monday, March 18, 2019

Sometimes Things Don't Work Out

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been under the weather for a couple of weeks. Due to that, I pulled out of the COG-100 race.

I am very disappointed, even a bit angry that health problems have forced me to drop out. Getting old sucks, for sure, but being unhealthy sucks even more.

And now, on top of a sinus infection that kept me down for two weeks, I find out that I have a problem with my left eye (Iritis, or Anterior Uveitis if you want the posh name) which prohibits riding a bike until it's cleared up...

Not happy.


Saturday, March 09, 2019

No Training This Weekend

Last weekend was a bit of a mixed bag, weather-wise. I got out for a good solid 70-mile ride on Friday, under sunny (but windy) conditions. Then, on Sunday, I rode in this:

Sunday was a bit chilly, with the temperature at 5 degrees F when I left the house and only warming up to 9 degrees F by the time I rolled home. That's kinda how the weather has been all year, so I wasn't too surprised. But, I am getting tired of it.

This weekend, it has been sunny, with highs in the 50s and ... I am sick as a dog and can't ride my bike, at all. I came down with something on Monday, and I've done nothing but go to work, and then go to bed almost as soon as I get home, since then. I left early a couple of days, and took 6-hour naps before I got  up for an hour prior to going to bed for the night.

Not a lot of fitness improvement going on, but I did lose 6 pounds because I keep forgetting to eat, due to having no appetite.

The COG 100 is three weeks from today. I was feeling better about my chances of actually finishing, after my last week's training rides. I'm hoping this isn't pushing me backwards...


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Last Weekend Wore Me Out

And, I'm a bit discouraged by that the fact that I was so tired after two training rides, and a recovery ride.

Last Thursday, before I headed down to the Englewood Tavern to host my bi-weekly Open Mic Night, I installed the cyclometer onto the race bike. I also swapped the water bottle cage from the fat bike, and loaded up the handlebar goodie bag, so that I would be ready to go on Friday morning.

I like the little bag so much that I actually ordered another, so that I won't have the water bottle cage on the handlebar. I'll have one goodie bag full of snacks, and one with the bottle in it, and snacks in the outside mesh pockets.

Speaking of snacks ... I took all of my research into account and loaded up with high-carb foods for the training ride. I find that the general nutritional consensus is that you simply can't do endurance training and racing while strictly following the Keto plan. So, I follow it on non-ride days, and eat my carbs when I need the fuel.

On Friday, I rode 53 miles in right at four hours. Not bad time, I suppose, (an hour faster, on the same loop, than the week before), but I was pretty spent when it was done. On Saturday, I took the fat bike out for about an hour and did a fairly easy spin. Then, I rode a different route on Sunday (race bike, again), and managed 30 miles in a little under three hours.

On Sunday, a cold front moved in while I was riding, and I got quite chilled on the bike. Both my hands and feet were really cold, and I could feel it in my core, as well.

So, altogether, I rode about 80 miles, over a 3-day span, and it wore me the hell out. This does not bode well for my ability to race 100 miles in under 10 hours, 40 days from now.

I've really noticed that it is more difficult to regain my fitness now, in my late 50s, than it was 8 or 9 years ago. Time leaves no-one behind, I suppose, and I am wearing down, physically. I just hope that I don't embarrass myself, too badly, at the race.

Regardless of how I feel about my conditioning by the end of March, I will go and attempt the course. I have challenged myself to it, and (barring injury), I plan to give it my best shot, whether I succeed at completing it, or not.

The C.O.G.-100 is an actual challenge, not a foregone conclusion for me. And, that's why it's important to me.

Wish me luck ... I need it!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Busy 10 Days

Over a few rides, week before last, I started to notice a problem with throwing the chain on the single speed Beast. I finally realized that I need to modify the dropouts on the frame, so that I can use the quick-release axle length, without the axle flexing in the non-drive dropout. I can do that, and eventually will, but I need to concentrate on training, right now, not fabricating bike parts.

So, in light of that, I pulled the trigger on a Bikes Direct Deadeye Monster single speed fat bike for $399 (thank you PayPal Credit). I had been eyeing them, for a while, but didn't feel justified in buy-in one until an actual need for it arose.

I swapped over the cockpit setup from the Beast and temporarily swapped the seat post and seat from the racing bike (they are both 27.2mm internal diameter seat tubes).

Here it is, shiny and new, last Friday

I like the orange paint, and the rims and tires are the same as those on the Beast, so the transition was not too jarring. Both the front and rear hub spacings are 135mm, so I might eventually relace the front rim onto a single speed hub so that I can swap them out, if the need arises on the trail.

The next day, I did a 30 mile ride on the Highline Canal Trail. We had experienced a few warm, sunny days, and a lot of the snow had melted from the trail, leaving some pretty long stretches of deep, sandy mud.

Judging by how muddy the bike and I got, with fenders installed, I shudder to think what it would have looked like if I had left them off. I have a down-tube splash guard coming, from eBay, to try to alleviate some of this, in the future. And, I repositioned the rear guard in an attempt to keep some of the mud and water out of my jersey pockets and shorts!

The next few days were a wash for training. My band played a pre-game show before the Super Bowl, down at Englewood Tavern, and we had a show at the Lion's Lair on Tuesday. So, I couldn't even ride back and forth to work, in order to get some pedal-spins in.

On Wednesday, we had a severe enough snowstorm that we were sent home early, from work. It took me an hour and a half to drive 12 miles...

The next day, I was still wiped out from the previous weekend, and a bit down in the dumps from some of the personal things I went through in January. So, I took the day off work, but only managed to ride to the coffee shop and back on the Winter Commuter, with the studded tires. I was not happy with myself, but it was just how the day went.

Friday dawned cold, but sunny, and I suited up for a ride on the new snow. I pushed it hard for 10 miles, then turned around and headed back. I kept my heart rate up, and got in some pretty good strength training.

I had added a water bottle/snack carrier to the bike, which made hydration and fueling a lot easier. I think I'm going to get another, and have two on the race bike.

I came home a lot cleaner from this ride that I had from the previous Saturday's ride!

I was pretty happy with my performance on Friday's ride, but I was getting a bit worried about my endurance. The only training I have been able to get in has been in the form of relatively short (20-30 miles) high-effort snow rides on a mostly flat trail. The constant snow storms have really limited my ability to get out for longer, hillier efforts.

But, after the sun and warmer temperatures of Friday, I decided to take the race bike out and try to do a long loop on the bike trails around town, Saturday morning. The bike trails are typically plowed, and I figured that the sun would have mostly cleared off the layer of snow which the plows leave behind.

So, yesterday, I left the house at about 9:00 A.M. on the racer. It was really sketchy, getting out of my unplowed neighborhood, but I made it to the Cherry Creek Trail without incident. Heading south, I was happy to see that my assessment of trail conditions had been good, and the pavement was mostly dry. Until, that is...

I crossed into Cherry Creek State Park, where no trail maintenance had been performed! This was rough, and icy, and caused me to crash at one point. Luckily, I was being super cautious and going slow enough that I was able to get clear of the bike and land on my feet as the bike went down.

The entire distance across the park was like this, and it was the only stretch I encountered on my entire ride, where the trail was not plowed.

Eventually, I got past the park, and was able to pick up my pace, again.

I followed the CCT to the E-470 Trail and turned west. I rode along 470 until I got to Chatfield State park, and turned north on the South Platte Trail, which I followed to Evans Avenue. (Somehow, I rode right by the turnoff which would have taken me to Dartmouth Street, as I planned.)

From there, I zig-zagged through the neighborhoods to Kaladi, where I stopped for coffee and a snack before riding the final two miles to my house.

I don't yet have the cyclometer on the racer, so I don't know my mileage, for sure. As near as I can figure, it was somewhere between 50 and 60 miles of riding, in 4 hours and 45 minutes, to Kaladi Brothers.

One of the things I was interested in finding out was just how long I would be comfortable on the bike. At about the 4-hour mark, I began to feel it, pretty badly. I was pretty bummed by that, as I need to have the capability of staying in the saddle for, at least, twice that long in order to be confident of finishing the C.O.G.-100.

Today, though, I feel a bit a better about it. I found some good info about training with low-carb intake, a method known as "Training Low". Some people do this as a way to train their muscle tissue to uptake carbs more readily, when they are available. According to what I read, though, this will bring on fatigue a lot more quickly. A 3 hour low-carb intake ride can bring on the same fatigue as a 5 hour ride with normal carb intake.

I was still experimenting with eating low-carb on the bike, yesterday, and I think that affected me. I am going to experiment, on upcoming rides, increasing my carb intake to match the effort and duration of that particular ride.

So, on a bike commute day, I might ingest 50g of carbs rather than my normal <35g .="" 100g.="" 85="" a="" and="" approximately="" day-long="" endurance="" high-effort="" maybe="" on="" ride="" short="" to="" up="">100g, as needed. But, I will still keep my calories in a reasonable zone. I'll just reassign the percentages of fat vs. carbs.

On rest and recovery days, I'll stick to the Keto diet I have been following, since last July. I find that I feel good on that diet, and I stay satisfied.

I'm having to get all scientific on this, as I only have 51 days until the race. Of those days, I am out of town 4 of them, for work, and I am sure things will unexpectedly interrupt my training schedule. Therefore, I have to optimize the time I train, as well as I can!