Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

September Was A Busy Month

First off, Steven Lee left the band, so we were left with no bass. Neither Steve L nor I wanted to go back to the the 2-piece mode, at this point, so I posted an ad on Craigslist (not expecting much), and started putting the word out that we needed a new bassist. The Craigslist ad got a lot of responses, oddly enough, and we met with some guys to jam a little and figure out how things felt.

Dan Clemens came in and, even though we had just met him, it was like an old friend had come back into the fold. So, we started practicing a set list for our first show - October 8 at Merchant's:

In the meantime, I had signed up for a mountain bike race, in Golden, which was the first-ever sanctioned race held on Jeffco Open Space trails. The proceeds were to go to trail maintenance and, the kicker, if you completed the long course you got a bottle of whiskey specially bottled for the race by Laws Whiskey House (a local distiller, here in Denver).

Even though I had done very little mountain biking, this year, really didn't have a bike appropriate for the downhill portions (at race pace), and only had 2-1/2 weeks to prepare, I signed up as soon as I read about it.

As far as training was concerned, I had no time to do anything significant. But, I did a little bit of commuting, and rode up Mt. Falcon in order to practice suffering...

Climbing with the big tires was not nearly as tedious as I had feared, and I felt pretty good about my time (only about 10 minutes over my time on a "normal" bike, when I am in a little better shape). The downhill taught me a lesson, though.

Due to tire clearance issues, I can only inflate the 3" 27.5 tire to about 28 psi. This is not enough to prevent pinch flats when jumping the bike off of water bars. Found that out the hard way, but I was at least close to the lower parking lot, and only had to walk a couple of hundred yards to get back to the truck. (It was my second flat of the day, and I didn't have another tube with me.)

I have a fix for that, but we'll talk about that in a later post.

I still didn't have a bike that I thought was raceable for the distance and elevation gain I was facing. So, I took the wheels off of the fat front, and installed a 27.5x2.3" tire on the rear, and a 29x2.3" on the front. I had planned on running 29" on both ends, but the only multi-speed 29" rear wheel I have is on the Funk, and I didn't want to take it off.

As it was, I had to use my 29" single-speed rear wheel as a front wheel, since the fork on the bike has 135mm spacing, for fat-bike wheels (old-school):

This is how the bike looked, in racing trim (of course, I removed the bags for the race):

I got a lot of thumbs up from other racers for having the nerve to race the rocky downhills on a full-rigid bike. Little did they know it was less a matter of nerve and more one of necessity!

The bike worked fine, for about the first 2/3 of the race. Then, at the bottom of one of the timed downhills (it was a stage race with 3 uphill stages and 3 downhill stages which were timed, connected by un-timed sections of trail and road), the 20-year-old XT rear derailleur decided to eject the bottom pulley.

Hmm, what to do? What to do?

I spent about 10 minutes of that timed section cutting my chain and single-speeding the bike in the granny gear. I had a 5 mile climb in front of me, and I figured the granny would be slow, but rideable. I was right about both and, at the top, I knew I couldn't ride another 10 miles in that gear, so I tried finding another gear I could use. After a couple of aggravating failures, I took the top pulley off of the derailleur, installed it in place of the lower pulley, and turned it into a chain tensioner so that I could use the middle ring on my crank-set.

It wasn't pretty, but it worked. 

I was so happy to see this sign, as I exited the trail after the last downhill section:

I rolled across the finish line in last place (although the final results showed that 3 other people actually rolled in with slower times than me, putting me fourth from last). I was happy with just finishing and getting what my buddy Rich referred to as the "participation trophy".

The total mileage of the race was probably about as much as my yearly total off-road, up to that date:

Here's my faithful steed and the prize at the finish area:

Throughout the month, I was also working on a couple of guitar projects. One is still in progress, but one got "finished":

I had bought another guys failed Telecaster kit project off of the local music gear swap page on FaceBook, and replaced the neck (which had a broken truss rod), as well as fixing some wiring issues. The more I played it, the more I liked the classic Tele honk on the bridge pickup. So, I decided to convert it to an Esquire (the original, single pickup Fender model, introduced in 1951).

So, I sourced an Esquire pickguard from, picked up a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickup from another website, and ordered up a prewired Esquire control panel (all American components, mounted and soldered, for less than what I could buy the parts for!) and, the Saturday after the race, wired it all up.

So, now, all I have left of the original guitar is the body and the bridge. And, I have a new bridge on the way ... Some projects just turn out that way.

Along the way, I wrote 3 new songs (two of which I will play on this guitar, at the show on the 8th), worked a lot of long days on a project at work, and just generally lived my life.

It was a long, busy month which seemed to oddly take forever to go by and also disappeared in the rearview mirror in an eyeblink. So, here's my one blog post for September...