Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yesterday at work was dead. I made four deliveries, and had to return one of them because the recipients had taken the day off. Total bust. I made about $9.

But we did have some rousing conversations about the crossword puzzle at a table in everyone's favorite office building.

It was a nice day outside, but that just made me wish I was mountain biking. I took some pictures since there was no hurry to get any of those packages out.

I didn't take the last one while I was riding yesterday, but I was trying to make the transition as jarring as possible. Since I stopped shaving my legs after the last race of the year, I've noticed an interesting re-growth pattern. I seem to have back of calf baldness. That means that either my calves are too ripped to fit in my pants, or my pants are too tight. I'm going with the former.

Last night I spent almost an hour and a half grooving to an Elvis song on some weird Wii dance game while my lazy ass friends watched. If you've seen me dance, you can probably imagine how awesome I looked. If you haven't seen me dance, well lets just say I make that pork product look like a cold hot dog.

Monday, December 27, 2010

snowy rolling

I did a couple shorter rides over the weekend. On Friday I sprinted around a little county park by my house that has a few miles of tight singletrack. Nothing special, but it was still fun.

On Saturday I rode in Ohiopyle for almost two hours before the whole Christmas dinner business. The place was empty, but a damn rabbit beat me to first tracks.

I was really surprised that the snow was so ridable. But the day still didn't photograph well.

Winter in Western PA. Greyest thing ever. I was supposed to meet the posse at Boyce Park on Sunday morning, but when I woke up at 8:00 a 70 mile drive seemed like it was way too far.

Then Colleen and I ended up driving to Monrovile anyway. She could buy some new riding shoes and I dragged her smiling face around Harbor Freight Tools for a while. When we got home I ended up riding circles around the miniature park (not the one with singletrack) next to my house in the dark. Shoulda just gone to Boyce in the morning.

When winter finally goes away, I'll be on the mountain for some overnight trips with my bike. I'm still thinking about attempting the Colorado Trail Race. In any case, it seams (pun intended. I'm such a riot.) like time to start getting some bikepacking stuff together.

On Saturday night, I stitched up a prototype saddle bag for my sleeping bag. I used some scrap material from an easy-up to get a feel for how it would hang on my bike.

The first version was pretty close, but there's still lots of room for improvement. I sat down and started sketching out ways to make it better.

Then I realized I'd basically drawn a Carousel Design Works bag. Nuts. But I think I can change and simplify it a little. I'm ordering some good fabric today.

And I'm on board with Ergon for next season. I'm stoked. I've been using GX2s for the past two years, and they rock. Glad to keep using them. I'm pretty excited to try out their the new gloves as well. They should be great if they work as well as the grips.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

off season training

I go hard in the off season:

You haven't lived until you've slid down an icy hill in a contractor bag. It's like putting your organs in a soil sifter. It's hard to see in the video, but the ice chunks pounded and shook and mixed up my insides, snow filled my eyes, and at the end of the hill I couldn't breath. So I ran up the hill and did it a few more times. My chest is still bruised.

After that extreme day of sledding, we headed for the Laurel Highlands Trail. I started the hike by falling into an icy puddle and submerging my feet, but after a few miles of walking they either started to dry out or went numb. Whatever the case, I still have all my toes.

On the way back down the mountain, I checked out my on-season co-worker's digs (not to be confused with off season co-workers.)

He's either still living here, or was abducted by migrant trans-gender electricians before he had a chance to pack his underpants.

The chop bus is a nice place to live in the summer by Pyle standards, but in the winter when it's around 5 degrees at night, it couldn't be very pleasant.

Then I captured the Viking Cat and put him in a sweater. He loved it. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

shirts and schedules

It seems my recent post has triggered a blogoterrarium wide hub rebuilding party. Hub rebuilds are always fascinating. You're welcome.

On to the important stuff. I've given it an entire Big Bear Classic mug's worth of thought (normal sized mug included for scale. a big bear classic mug's worth is a lot.)

Anyway, I've given it a lot of thought this morning, and now I believe I'm ready to release the 2011 Extremely Tentative and Imminently Changing Official Knobby Meats Racing Conglomerate Schedule. That acronim would be ETICOKMRCS. (Pronounced etty-cock-merse. I know you were stumbling through it.)

Most of these dates are pulled from Mahokey's very excellent calender on XXC:

1/29 Snotcycle
3/26 Michaux Mash
5/14 Mountain State 100 (if the mysterious promoter ever puts up more info)
6/4 Mohican
6/13 Stoopid 50
7/16 Breck 100 or Single Speed Nationals
7/30 Wilderness 101
9/4 Shenandoah 100 

I'll fill in the rest of the weekends with some WVMBA, OMBC, and ABRA races (if the rumors of ski resort mountain bike events are true.)

Since I have free lodging lined up with my helper monkey Sam (the little angry faced one on the back:)

I'm planning on staying in Colorado and racing out there for a month. But I still have to pay for all those ETICOKMRCS entry fees.

I threatened to do it a while back, and now I've done it. Just in time for Giftmas, Knobby Meats shirts are on sale. Hooray! I know you're thrilled.

Everybody looks more dashing in a viking cat shirt (and the more shirts I sell, the more silly things I can write about races.) I embedded a large lime green shirt button at the top of the blog. And now we're off to the weekend. Later folks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a really surly hub re-build

My Surly hubs are a constant pain in the ass. I've spent more time screwing around with my fixed gear wheelset than my Hope Pro IIs or Industry 9s. Anybody who says fixed gears are maintenance free is delusional. Or they ride a really creaky bike.

Anyway, before the Gnar Check was a Gnar Check, it was just a plain old lime green Cross Check.

I raced cross on it for a few months, and while I was doing the Dirty Dozen fixed, the rear hub died. Tim Carson pulled it apart, and found the bearings entirely smashed. He put some ceramic bearings in. We hoped that would solve the problem forever.

It didn't. The hubs are super finicky because they're adjustable cartridge bearings. Too tight and the wheel won't turn, too loose and rim wobbles side to side. The other day my back wheel stopped turning again. So I pulled it apart.

I didn't take any pictures of disassembly, but it's pretty simple. Unscrew all the stuff on one side of the axle and slide it out. I don't have any cone wrenches, so I used needle nose pliers.

The naked axle:

The end caps fall out when the axle is gone, and the bearings are exposed. I carefully pried the seal off the front of the bearing with a razor blade. It was very crunchy inside.

Wiped out all the crap, then packed it with a shit ton of grease. It's gonna be a long winter. The road salt'll wash out all the extra.

I worked the grease into the bearings by spinning it with my finger, then popped the seal back on and pressed it down with my finger nail. Boom. No more crunchy bearings.

Set the end cap back on the hub.

Greased the axle and slid it back in.

Then screwed everything back onto the axle.

I screwed everything together with my fingers. A wrench will make the bearings too tight when they're clamped down in the frame.

While I had the wheel off, I cleaned up my dropouts.

Same brush I use to get knots out of my hair.

Then I achieved proper chain tension by wedging a big Made in USA (Chinese round things won't work) round thing between the frame and the tire.

And then I made sure the axle nuts were tight. But my wheel always manages to slip forward at the worst times, so I went crazy and made doubly sure that everything was tight.

I stepped on that shit. With my foot. (I'm not sure how else you would step on something, but I still felt the need to specify.)

And now it's tight.

(note- You'll probably crush bearings if you step on wrenches. The torque settings on my foot are just calibrated better than most peoples.)

screwing shit up

I'm playing with the layout of this thing since I don't have to be freezing my ass off delivering packages this morning. A template designer just popped up when I opened the design section of blogger, so apparently I can use what ever I want for a background.

Better or worse than the plain old black layout?

Monday, December 13, 2010

cross checks and bad ideas

I've been meaning to put my Cross Check on Craigslist. But I never have the motivation to type up an ad, so it's hung sadly in the work stand while I ripped around on the Crosby.

A few days ago, I picked up my Punk Bike prize that Larry at Thick Bikes had snagged for me.


This was a game changer. Previously, I hated riding the cross check because it wasn't gnarly enough. But with gnar bars...

I started getting the bike ready. The bottom bracket was shot and wobbly, so I had to replace it. As soon as I threaded the crank puller in the non-drive side crank arm and tightened it down, it stripped. I tried all kinds of locktites and clamps to get the crank puller to hold, but it just wouldn't go.

Then I tried a gear puller:

Looked menacing, but it was also a failure.

Finally I resorted to cutting the crank arm with an angle grinder, then smacking it really hard with a hammer. If all else fails, destroy. It worked. I got the bb off, screwed in a new one, and put my old set of Race Face Turbines on.

Then I pulled the Cross Check fork off, installed my Salsa Cromoto Grande, bolted on a 50mm stem, put an WTB Exiwolf on my fixed wheelset, and mounted the Gnar Bars.

And the most gnar shredding Cross Check in the galaxy was born. Those bars are 700mm wide, and droopy on the ends:

It's so good and slack. I'm guessing it has about a 67 degree head tube angle.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Punk Bike 2010 and other sexiness

Oooh baby. Everybody loves a muddy shit stain.

Jon Pratt photos

Punk bike was cold. Punk bike was muddy. Oompa loompas broke their bikes:

It was a lovely day, and I was grinning away the whole time.

It was so muddy that on one of the little stages my back wheel packed full of junk and refused to turn. I had to walk the rest of the thing, then chip the frozen mud away with a stick.

I won a few stages, but I had to leave after stage 8 of 12 for some banana family business. Sadly I was unable to defend my title. But I did leave right before the up-down and was able to avoid a repeat of last year:

Friday, December 3, 2010

banana time

A year its waited.


Alone in the darkness of Greensburg.

Flapping like an enormous foam sock.

Clipped to a telephone pole guide wire with a Stanley Quick Clamp.

But now it's time



Be there.

Or be a giant nerd and go to a cross race on the same day. I won't be around to throw donuts at you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yesterday morning was raining, snowing, and about 35 degrees. It was a really shitty morning. I was sure that I was going to quit being a bike courier. I was fully prepared to turn in an application to Starbucks.

I started listing the positives and negatives in my head:

-Buses. They're painted pretty colors, but the bus drivers have a sick entitlement to the road. They pass close, stop without warning, and drive fast. Obviously, I'd be on the losing end of a collision. I imagine a bus driver's penalty for hitting a cyclist is early retirement and an increased pension.

-People yelling loudly into their phones. Their voices carry for at least a full block. "I TOLD at bitch! I told her! NO LITEN TO ME, I SAID I TOLD AT BITCH!" Head ache inducing.

-Cold, wet weather.

-Slippy drain gates and other metal shit. See "busses" for why these can be bad.

-Strangulation by messenger bag. 50 pound boxes hurt. And the no matter how I load it, the corner of the box always stabs me in the small of the back. Not fun when trying to avoid busses, metal shit, and loudly yelling people who jump into the middle of the street because they're too engrossed in their conversations to see the cold, wet, and strangled bike messenger who is about to run them over.

-Pedestrians. Never look before they step into the street. Never. When they finally see me, they take evasive maneuvers. If I turn right, they jump backwards and place themselves squarely in my path. Turn left, they'll skip forward and gasp.

-Pay. This was the big one. I made about $4.50 an hour my first month. Minimum wage is $7.15.


-Free mints and other small candies from nice receptionists.

But at the end of the day I got my paycheck. I shattered the minimum wage line. So I'll keep at it. Riding a bike around (standing in elevators, walking, and sitting on my ass waiting for something to do) isn't too bad.