October 31, 2012

2012 Berryman Adventure - Part 2

back to Part 1

 Jacob opened an Ensure and gave it to me.  The calories helped clear my head.  I pulled open my pack and got out our first aid kit and took some ibuprofen (three, four, more?) I dunno how many.  And there was a long elastic bandage.  I’ve carried that thing through so many races and always considered it a hindrance, just required gear weighing me down.  But now I pulled it out silently thanking all the past and current race directors (Thanks Gary!) that put that on the required gear lists.

My ankle was swelling already so I was kind of afraid to take my shoe off.  So I worked fast, pulled it off wrapped it tight with the tape and jammed it back on.

Gear Tip:  Get the elastic bandage that sticks to itself.  I can’t believe how well this thing worked.  It stayed on nice and tight the rest of the day.  I was also wearing tall Swiftwick socks when this happened.  I’m sure the compression of those socks helped prevent this injury from being much worse.

I found a nice length of recently downed oak branch to use as a cane and slowly hobbled back up the hill.  We changed our game plan from clearing the trek section, to just making it back out to the road.  It was still an adventure race though, so we picked a route back out that allowed us to get two more CP’s.  I maxed out the 100ft rule (but didn’t exceed it!) by having Jacob go down into the reentrants and the one pond to punch the CP’s.  Once back out on the paved road I was able to manage this shuffling, wobbly, slow, barely-jog. 

The rest of the race would be bike and canoe, so I just had to do these last few miles back to the bike CP.  I felt like I would be able to ride OK since there would be no twisting or turning loads on my ankle once clipped in.  Not fast, but Ok.  There was a cut-off time for the canoe at 7pm.  After plotting points and strategizing last night I had estimated our paddle time at 3 hrs, so we had to be in the water by 4pm.  Thinking there was 2hrs of biking to get there (boat ramp) meant we had to finish the trek by 2pm.
We skipped the last couple of checkpoints to make it back to TA on my injured ankle to meet our 2pm goal.  There were a couple CP’s (14, 15, and 16) that I hated passing, they would have been easy to pick up on the way, but there was no way the ankle could go down anymore reentrants.

SuperKate and Jim from Team Hangover were also heading back into the TA at the same time we were, so we got in a little fun-time goofing around with them while trying to keep up with Kate’s 6 min/mile pace.  We came back in by gravel road and was sad to see only a few bikes left in the TA.  I swallowed more ibuprofen and we got out on the road pretty quickly.

The road biking was over for the day once we hit the intersection with the Ozark Trail.  We turned in and were rewarded with some amazing singletrack.  Despite my ankle screaming in protest I loved this section of the race.  The trail was amazing.  Long screaming downhills and smooth sailing.  Jacob was loving this section too.  The climbs were perfectly switch-backed to keep them manageable.  I have to get a weekend soon to ride there again.

CP19 was placed in a creek junction just off the trail.  We stopped at the perfect spot and Jacob ran off down the creek to punch the CP.   He came back successful a minute later.  We continued on the great singletrack crossing the highway and picking up CP20 just before turning north onto the Council Bluffs trail.  Council Bluffs has always seemed pretty technical to me, so I was a little concerned about Jacob riding it.  He hadn’t been on the mtn bike for a few months, but the kid was great, he rode or bounced over everything the trail threw at us. 

We made it back to the 5/21/27 TA and we each downed an Ensure (and more ibuprofen for me) to keep our energy levels up for the canoe.  I was so glad to be getting off our feet for awhile.  We seen Bill and Laura Scherff finishing up the canoe leg as we were heading in.  Bill gave us some great advice to attack the lake in a clockwise direction to make the most of the increasingly strong wind.
At the pre-race meeting we were warned about the lake level.  Since Council Bluffs is a man-made lake water levels were currently sitting at the same height as the standing timber that was left when the lake was originally flooded.  Jacob was up front paddling so he had stump-watch duty.  We brought our kayak paddles to the race and we really made some good time on the paddle leg.  We dodged stumps, and hit a few, but ended up getting all 6 paddle CP’s and stayed dry to top it all off.
We came back into 5/21/27 TA and had a hard choice to make.  The next 3 CP’s would mean we had to ride the singletrack loop around Council Bluffs.  My ankle was NOT feeling up to multiple click-in’s and click-out’s, as I knew there were places I would have to walk around out there on the very technical rock gardens on the southeast side of the lake.  We had missed enough CP’s in the trekking section that we already knew we wouldn’t be finishing well enough to make any difference.  So we decided to cut our losses and ride in the by the short single-track on the northwest side of the lake.
The final bike leg was over a few minutes before dark.  We came into the finish to cheers and friends waiting.  Bonk Hard also had some great post-race food for us.  We sat around re-hashing the day with other teams, and were asked multiple times about Jacobs age.  Haha, not many 15 yr olds in adventure racing.  The best part is he loved it and is ready to go again!

October 24, 2012

The Changing of the Tires

So one day I’m out riding my road bike when I notice something red on my tires.  Well when I finished my ride, I took a good look at my tires and what do I find, but the side wall of my Michelin Krylion Carbon Tire deteriorating and a red ply coming through.  And these Michelin tires were expensive, I wasn’t happy about how the wore out so quickly. 

If you know me, you know I am cheap, so the first thing I thought, was how long can I ride this bike before the tires will explode.  I talked to my wrench, that’s Chuck, and he said “well you really should get some new tires”. He also said that since Schwalbe is our sponsor I could get some really high end tires that will last a whole lot longer.  He also gave me all the technical data about why these Schwalbe Evolution tires were way better than the Michelins that were literally deteriorating in front of my eyes. 

So Chuck placed a tire order because he needed a Racing Ralph for his mountain bike anyway, so he ordered tires for me too.  I didn’t have to do any of the leg work, I’m sure glad I have Chuck as my teammate. 

Even after I got the tires I just couldn’t find time to change them and I continued to ride on the deteriorating Michelins. 

They were getting so bad that I finally said enough and decided to change them.  So one day during my lunch hour at work, I picked up Chuck and we drove to a park pavilion, since it was pouring down rain, and we changed the tires.  

Well if you really want to know I wasn’t much help, Chuck was almost finished with changing the back tire, while I was still trying to get the tire off the front wheel.  I finally got it off with the help of a co-worker who was hanging out with us.  That was just about the same time Chuck was putting air in the back tire.

I finally finished installing the front tire, again, with some help from Chuck and got the wheel back on the bike. See how we have the valve stem at the center of the Schwalbe logo.  Now if I get a flat I will always know where the tire was lined up to the tube when I’m checking for puncture particles.  My wrench, Chuck, taught me that. I guess you know what happened to those worthless Michelin tires.

So now it’s time to test these babies out, my next post will be a review and how the tires work at road tested by me. 

October 17, 2012

Gravel Bike - Part 9

Part 1

I installed the brakes in Part 8, now they needed cables.  I ordered the standard SRAM brake and shift cables.  There are some very cool sealed cables available, but they were so expensive it seemed like I could replace these cheaper cables a couple of times before paying for the expensive ones.  The brake and shift cables are not interchangeable.  The SRAM boxes were labeled appropriately.  It seems like it would be impossible to confuse the two since they have different outer sheaths and different inner cable diameters.

The inner cables go through the shifter handles once the rubber covers are peeled up to expose the entrance hole and exit groove.

The outer sheath is threaded over the inner all the way up to the shifter and inserted up to the stops.

The other end of the cable has to be cut to fit.  It will be different for every bike.  I just set the cable into the stops with some nice easy smooth bends.  Then I came back and used electrical tape to ‘tie down’ the cable to the handlebar bends.  Next I swung the handlebar from side to side through the full steering range making sure there is no interference with other parts, while also checking to make sure it didn’t pull too tight or limit the steering range.

I have a great tool for cutting cables.  It is the Park Tools Professional Cable Cutter
It does a great job of cutting the outer sheaths without crushing the anti-compression windings or the inner Teflon liners in them.  The first bike I built I used a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel for the cables.  It worked, but not very well.  Do yourself a favor and get this tool (or borrow mine) before your next cable job.

I continued routing and cutting the sheath until I had the length right.  I stuck a ferrule over the end and seated it in the brake caliper.  The BB-7 caliper has a nice seal over the outer sheath and inner cable end to keep out water and grit.
 The interior cable is pulled tight and clamped down under the caliper cap head screw.  I didn't have a torque value for this so I just got it nice and tight without going crazy and crushing the cable.

I cut the cable off leaving about two inches hanging free below the caliper.

Lastly I secured it with a nice red anodized aluminum end stop.  The same Park tool I used above has a die set to crimp cable ends also.  It comes out looking way better than mashing them to hell with a vice-grip.  I hate it when bike don’t have these cable ends on them.  The cables end up frayed in no time making any further maintenance on them almost impossible.

I used the same methods to install the front brake cable and shifter/derailer cable.  It takes all the same steps so I didn’t take a bunch of extra pictures.  Here is a great link for everything you ever wanted to know about bicycle cables:  Sheldon Brown

The bike is getting really close now.  I want to take it out for a test ride so bad.  Just waiting for tires to show up, then I put in a seat post, saddle, and ride!

Part 8                                                                                                                                  Part 10

October 5, 2012

Gravel Bike - Part 8

Part 1

I got a pair of rotors for the brakes from Ebay.  They were one of those ‘too good to be true’ deals.  The damn things didn’t come with lockrings, so I had to order a set separately.  It still came out cheaper than buying a new set from Shimano, but weren’t the great score I thought.  Either way, they are still a nice set of XT Centerlock rotors that were brand new take-offs from a bike shop, never ridden before.  I debated for a while on size, considering a 180mm/160mm front/rear combo.  In the end I decided with tire sizes I wanted that 180mm would be overkill.  So I have a 160F / 160R set. 

I love the way these fit up on the hubs.  The rotor splines (I roughly counted 55) aligned perfectly with the hub, there is zero play.  The machined splines look and feel so much lighter and stronger than 6 cast hex screws.

Rotors are directional.  I checked the etching and made sure I got them on the right direction. (I didn’t try it, but I think that if they get put on backwards they will not align in the caliper.)

I spun the lockring down by hand, making sure not to cross-thread anything.

One of the complaints I read in reviews about Centerlock hubs and rotors is that they take an extra tool to install.  The tool is the same one required for cassette installation.  But, I already had one, and didn’t see it as a negative.
 I torqued the lockring to 35 in lbs.  There are matching serrations that ‘lock’ the ring in place after torqueing so I didn’t use any threadlock compound.

I’m using Avid BB7 calipers.  I installed the calipers on the fork and seat stay with the bolts and adapters that came with the rotor.  I’ll do the alignment later when I get the cables installed.

My plan is to run Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tires set up tubeless, so I had decided to use Stan’s rim tape.  I read somewhere that people get away with using plastic electrical tape.  I’m using his wheels and sealant, so I thought his tape would be most compatible, and less likely to cause problems.

It was an easy install, but it had me wondering if the 21mm tape I got was too wide.  It never ended up on the interior sidewalls of the rims, but it was pretty close.  I used my thumbnail to help ‘seat’ the tape over the spoke holes.  The only tool needed was a pair of scissors to cut the tape after I ran it around the rim.
I got a pair of Stan’s 35mm Presta valves for the same reasons as the tape above.

                               Part 7                                                                      Part 9