Sunday, September 27, 2009

US Cup Unification Race, a Kitty and Interbike

Thursday Sept 17th: Todd tried to catch a lost 6-week old kitty in the woods at Bonelli (San Dimas, CA). The kitty loved Todd's Power Bar balls and drank a good bit of water but would not be caught and found a great hiding spot in the cactus. Friday Sept 18th: Todd spent another 3 hours and finally caught the little guy who wouldn't have lasted long in the extreme heat. We took him to Citrus Veterinary Clinic in San Dimas, CA. If anyone wants a new cat please give them a call.

Sunday Sept 20th: US Cup Unification Race at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA. It was way too hot for a race. Luckily I had enough points to win the Unification title by just showing up. Only three pro girls started and I think half the guys DNF'd. I had goosebumps the entire race, we basically rode around just under the overheating threshold and it became a road race, waiting to see what the other person would do. It ended up coming down to a sprint in the last 5 minutes, but as I changed gears getting ready to go I dropped my chain and the race was over. Congratulations goes to Allison for winning the one day race. After the race we packed up and headed to Vegas.

Monday Sept 21st: Finished the drive to Vegas, ~ 2 miles from the RV park the slide-out awning broke and fell down. We took it off, checked in at the RV park then hit Dirt Demo day 1. . Tuesday Sept 22nd: Dirt Demo day 2, 8:00am Dirt Demo (HUGE) road group ride. We thought it would be a chill early morning spin, I had only eaten one hardboiled egg and drank a 25 calorie FRS before the ride. I started mid-pack which was a mistake, my legs felt great and I started bridging from group to group, it was a great power day. The rest of the day was spent riding every Specialized bike I could get my hands on (Era, Epic, 29'r, Tarmac SL2). The Era actually rode the best. Most of the bikes had the new SRAM XX drivetrain, wow! I need that drivetrain... I wish I could have tried the 16.6lb Cannondale Flash! Once Todd figures out how expensive Interbike is in the long run, I think he'll try to keep me from going.

Specialized 29'r Carbon HT

Specialized Carbon Epic
Wed-Fri Sept 23rd-25th: Interbike all day, dinner industry parties, Cross Vegas and Gold Sprints at night. I was on my feet for almost 18 hours a day!! Pink recovery socks saved my legs and had style!
FRS kept me going. I had never tried the FRS drinks, but I scored a give-a-way case and got hooked on it... .
Here are a couple cool items:
I am going to try this new ZeroGoo product on my next ride, it mixes gel with water for a constant flow of pure gel, pure water, or any mix in-between. It was super light and easy to adjust.
Saturday Sept 26th: We put in a new fuel line, luckily that was the ticket! Hit the road to NM with A/C!
Sunday Sept 27th: Todd stopped off at the Albuquerque, NM airport and flew to MD. I continued on to Santa Fe, set up the "house", got a fix of NM chile and visited with Todd's family.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Specialized Trail Crew

I just saw a listing looking for Specialized Trail Crew members. It sounds like they figured out a job title (albeit non-paying) for what I do when I am not racing, travel the US in search of new trails and new cycling friends. I already have the Specialized gear. I already lead rides for my clinics as I travel, and join group rides in each town I visit. Leading rides without the clinic part would just be, well, a pretty normal day.
Having a title may justify my passion for attracting unsuspecting people to this addiction called cycling. They may not quit their job, sell their home, buy an RV and travel the US in search of new trails, but then again maybe they will... I love getting out on the trail with guys, girls and kids of all levels. Going for a super slow spin or a long epic ride, showing someone how to bunny hop or use clipless pedals in the park, joining a singlespeed hammer ride or trying to follow a DH rider down some drops is a great day on the bike.

just another excuse to post a picture of my race bike (which now has S-Works carbon cranks).

Specialized has solid products, it seems they put a great deal of time into their research, design and testing. The carbon hardtail is an awesome race bike, there were a few races where I could have used an Epic, but the hardtail performed very well. Even the smaller things are done correctly, I did a short review of the helmet, shoes and gloves last year. Basically the women's gloves actually fit, I haven't found any other gloves that fit this well. Specialized also offers extras like the Riders Club website, clinics and demos; and now ride leaders, this is something I would love to be a part of.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On the move again

CO Trail Thru-hikers Blueberry and Mark
Durango was a great base for the last couple months. Last weekend was fun, I rode the CO Trail, ran into one guy about an hour's ride in that needed a tube (it was cold and raining, would have been a hard long walk out), then talked to some guys who were in trouble with their girlfriends for poor planning and making a ride a lot longer than it was supposed to be, they had been out for ~6hours and were making matters worse by not waiting at a turn and hoping the girls would figure it out. The girls were waiting at the turn for the guys to return... Another guy had me make a call to his girlfriend as his phone had died and he needed a ride, turns out she had been to the trailhead twice already looking for him. Then I gave a couple thru-hikers a ride to town, had dinner with them and dropped them off at a trail angel's place for the night since they didn't want to camp in the pouring rain. Blueberry took 6 weeks, Mark ~28 days from Denver to Durango. See Mark's site, raising funds for Burma.
I raced the last Durango Devo short track Wednesday 9/9, won $50 for a series win, worked on the generator and hit the road to CA Thursday.
Dash airconditioning units don't do much to cool off the motorhome while driving. Ours has a leak so we don't even bother to put freon in it, especially since we try to travel/live where it is ~70-degrees. With three pets to keep cool we run the generator and the coach A/C when it is hot, this assumes the generator works...
Before heading to Durango I had Freightliner change my oil and filters in both the coach and generator (it took them two days, horrible experience, I won't go back, I can do it myself in 5 hours or less). Since then I have had what I thought was a generator oil leak. It wasn't a loose drain plug and was worse while running. I opened the generator (not a quick job) thinking it would be due to a loose oil filter.
.What I found was a diesel fuel leak at the fuel filter (which Frieghtliner had replaced). Durango Napa had a replacement filter, after replacing it I still had a leak. I guess it is the line between the fuel filter and fuel pump, if you overtighten the fitting it gets a hairline crack. Of course no one stocks the lines. I ordered a line from Cummins in TN, had it shipped to CA and hit the road without an A/C. When I was working on the generator wearing a jacket in 50/60-degree weather this didn't seem like such a bad idea.
Fuel Filter and lines (back one needs to be replaced, I think...)
Hot RV, hot desert, hot pets = BAD IDEA. The highest temp was 107, but not for long; mid to high 90s were the norm.
Hot Kitty and her ice pack
NE AZ and 30 minute stop for road construction. Open windows didn't really help much without the air flow.
The stop in Flagstaff, AZ was nice, much cooler temps. I parked and went for a quick ride. I ran across this family. The little boy had just wrecked and was not at all happy. I tried to distract him from crying by asking a bunch of questions while we walked all the bikes to a house. I told him he was tough and would make a great pro mountain biker. He said "no I won't, I keep falling!" and started crying again. Too cute.
Friday night I didn't get much sleep, it was 86 degrees at 2:00am when I went to sleep and 80 degrees at 6:00am when I woke up. I got an early start but it got hot quickly.

Outdoor Temp

Indoor Temp
When I arrived at our RV park I didn't waste any time getting into my spot, plugging in and turning on the air conditioner. I registered, disconnected the truck, found my spot, didn't even get out to look at it, just drove by and backed right in. When I got out I had a few comments from the peanut gallery on how well I handle the 40' rig.
After I set up Todd met me, he has been on his own work schedule MD, TN, AZ, CA, AZ and back to CA. We finally met up, it has been 55 days apart. I think he has ridden 5 hours total in that time. His get back in shape weeks will correspond nicely with my end of season break, then we hope to race a December dawn to dusk race together in AZ.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Specialized S-Works Crank Review

Specialized S-Works Carbon Cranks:

This review is after one month's use. Out of the box these cranks are very pretty. As you can probably tell I added a bit of red.

Replacing my XTR cranks with the S-Works Carbon Cranks saved ~71 grams. Following the directions and recommendation of Specialized I opted to install the bearing sleeve (if you decide to leave it out you'll save an additional 30grams).

If I ever decide to go to a 2x crank, and save even more weight, Specialized also sells just the spider.

The new cranks were professionally installed by Ryan at Mountain Bike Specialist. Ryan is Todd Wells' Durango Mechanic and has seen the only issue with the S-Works cranks that I know about. Todd had an internal crank nut come loose. To prevent this see "Installing the Carbon Crank" step 2, make sure you add loctite to #9- Steel Retainer Nut as shown. Ryan used red loctite on this one place for me since I was overly paranoid. I recommend using blue or green loctite everywhere else as recommended.

I wear all cranks like this, my XTRs look the same way. I should have used a crank protector.
The first ride with the new cranks was a ~3.5hr 38-mile race (Hermosa Classic) where I hit a million rocks with the brand new cranks. If I could not crack them in that race, not knowing the course and hitting every rock in the trail, then they are good to go.
Shifting between the small and mid chainring is pretty smooth, but trying to get into the large chain ring is not as quick or smooth as with the XTR. It may shift right away or it may take up to three pedal revolutions. This seems to be common with other racers as well. But to save ~71 grams I will take a less smooth shift to the big ring.

For the first couple weeks my chain would stick to the chainrings, occasionally to the point of getting chainsuck. I had the same issue using a (6 week old) used chain and a brand new chain. Both Ryan and Specialized recommended running the cranks (with either chain) a few weeks to see if the chainrings would wear-in, they did. It took up to two weeks and I no longer have any chain sticking issues. I would recommend allowing 2-3 weeks before a big event in case you need this break-in period.

I think these cranks spin more freely than the XTR cranks did. (The XTR cranks were installed with the S-Works bearing adapters, not the XTR bearings.)

Bottom Line: Buy these cranks for the weight savings, bling, 2x option, and stiffness (although I can't tell the difference in stiffness). Remember to follow installation directions. If you are picky you may notice less smooth shifting vs. XTR.