Sunday, February 11, 2018

The "Because Schilling takes forever to blog"

Yep, you got it...Mr. Schilling's TAT (Turn around time) to blog about his rad adventures is just too I've taken it upon myself to do it ups my blog count and I'm gonna bury that chump in blog numbers...
This is the cool bike from George Harris that John borrowed for this ride... it's in front of the BCT where he's taken about a billion pics...  

This is a dirt case you didn't know...

This is an old gas pump that has been repurposed to dispense Bud Lite Lime...mmm, John loves that stuff when he does big rides....

Thursday, February 8, 2018

# ┌∩┐= 0

OK boys and girls, time for a good ol’ fashion rant…

While doing my usual mix of activities (work, beer drinking, bike riding, reading about bikes, shopping for bike stuff, blogging, bike art, etc), I realized that many of us (including me at times) spend TONS of energy trying to eek out more speed on my bike.  We all read about carbon this or that to drop weight, new tires, training methods, blah blah…

What I realized is that the # of f*cks I was giving to things that had very little influence on my riding speed had creeped north of ZERO.  And that many of my riding buddies, and the conversations we were having centered around these same, somewhat insignificant things…

What are they you ask?

#1: Tires…  Arguing about tires is about as close to conversational masturbation as it gets.  Ask 10 people what their favorite tire is and you’ll get at least 5 different answers (even for a given terrain!).  Granted, you can’t compare a Walmart tire to a $75 race tire or to a downhill specific tire, but arguing that a high quality Maxxis XC tire is faster or slower than a high quality Bontrager or Specialized XC tire is just plain dumb.  (I’m sorry, those rolling resistance tests published are OK, but don’t tell the whole story) We all know people out there that are absolutely killing it on tires we’ve kicked to the curb saying that “traction was poor” or “it washed out in a turn”…    Guess what, it’s not the tire that sucks…it’s your technique.  Work on it, over and over and over…when you can get that worn out front tire to hold you in turns on kitty litter, you’ve got $hit down…

#2: Boost…  OK people, listen, I’m a mechanical engineer…I understand things like forces, stiffness/compliance, angles, etc….   But when did a small amount of additional lateral wheel stiffness make me measurably faster?  Nope…  If you can find a good, statistically valid study that proves the lateral stiffness that boost spacing provides makes me cover ground faster, I will sell all my non-boost crap and drink the Koolaide.  Till then, I will watch boost empty peoples wallets faster while the value of their non-boost components goes to hell... 

So, take that time you spend at the computer writing emails to buddies arguing about tires and boost and whatever else, and go f*cking ride your bike…ride it fast to the point of near puke….ride no more than 1x per week at Browns Ranch to practice momentum conservation and cornering, ride rocky stuff to practice sketchy handling…ride with faster people to push you...just be sure to ride and don't blame life for getting in the way.  Yeah, sometimes it REALLY does, but each time you think it does, i'll bet at least half the time you can come up with a plan that still gets you on the bike.  

THAT's the #1 thing that will make you faster.

If you’re getting in only 4 hours a week on the bike and spending that or more surfing the internet reading bike related stuff looking for things to make you faster, you’re doing it WRONG.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Glues, Spooges and $hit like that…

So as MTBrs, we’re undoubtedly going to run across times when we need to glue something together… could be our favorite pair of MTB shoes to get a few extra miles out of before replacing, could be a slice in a tire sidewall, could be our frame that we got welded and are now stranded out in some remote place (Looking at you Schilling).
What I’ve noticed as I’ve talked with many of you reading this, is that you choose a substance that may not really be the best thing…I mean lets face it, we have ready access to stuff like JB Weld, Shoe Goo, Super Glue, lots of 2 part epoxies, silicone, etc…But, they are all made for VERY different purposes.  So this little blog write-up is to hopefully add some logic based on my experience but also my mechanical engineering know-how from working with some of these things in my past life.

Shoe goo
Shoe goo is amazing stuff, rubber in a tube that gets you really high (note: use in a well ventilated space) but gets mistakenly used as a bonding agent.  It is NOT.  I would highly discourage using the stuff to bond two things together since that is NOT what it was designed to do.  It really doesn’t have great bond strength.  It’s basically a wear surface to replace worn off parts of your shoe.  Sticks great to rubber, but not so much to other highly flexible parts of your shoe (like the uppers).  I have applied this to the underside of my mtb shoes WHEN THEY ARE NEW to lengthen the HAB life of them.  Below is a pic of two of my pairs, both of which are at least 3 years old, the Shimano’s having been HAB’d up Mingus 2x and been through the AZT300.   Obviously, you have to clean the surfaces to which you apply it and it will tend to flow so you can’t lay it on too thick.  But, the stuff is great when used for what it is intended.
Great for parties and making your shoes last longer

I put on Shoe Goo on these SIDI's when they were almost new and have not worn through the toe yet....still going strong.  I'm sure the socket head cap screws used as toe spikes helped too.

Another view of the SIDI's... note that that it doesn't stick to the leather very well due to the flexing

These are those Shimano M089's that have been to hell and back..again, I put the stuff on early in their life...well before the toe area got too worn down.

Here again, note how the shoe goo does not stick to the uppers very well.

Superglue has a ton of uses for MTBing….keeping skin stuck together, gluing your buddies ass to the toilet seat, etc… lol…Superglue is obviously a GLUE(duh)…a bonding agent (Cyanoacrylate).  They work when the stuff you are bonding is fairly rigid AND the bond line is THIN.  They don’t fill gaps very well.  Below you’ll see a pic of a pair of my somewhat new Shimano’s that have an inherent design flaw where the sole next to the cleat delaminates.  This happened the same way in the pair I discussed earlier that has been through tons of HAB.  The solution (which works EXTREMELY well) is to use some superglue (the cheap stuff from Harbor Frieght), let it wick into the joint, but then clamp it with some spring clamps to keep the bond line tight.  If you were to try and fix these with shoe goo or some other flexible adhesive, you would probably have issues.  Where superglue falls down is when the surfaces flex a lot, ie, tire sidewall slices.  However, some manufacturers have formulated more robust cyanoacrylates (gorilla glue) that can flex.  Personally, I have not tried these.  Hutchinson has a tubeless tire patch kit (that they are quite proud of) that has a specially formulated superglue for bonding rubber…
I'm a fan of the cheap stuff at Harbor Freight...used correctly, it works great

Note the slightly darker area right of the cleat...that's the superglue where I bonded down that sole ridge.

Using a spring clamp to keep it tight
This shoe was glued EXACTLY like above very early in its never failed after bonding it with cheap a$$ Harbor Freight Super Glue

2-Part Expoxies
There are of course a ton of these ranging from quick cure ones to not so quick.  Things like JB Weld are 2-part epoxies.  Typically these cure very rigid but also have great bond strength with metals, plastics and carbon (stuff we find on bikes).   Below is are a couple of pics where I used it to repair a set of carbon bar ends that after multiple crashes, had worn through the carbon.  They are definitely not made for flexible materials.  I did end up fixing a set of saddle rails with it, but in the end did not use it since I had a replacement.  I’m pretty confident it would have worked fine.
My cheap Chinertown carbon bar end that started to crack from too many diggers

5 bucks worth of 5 min great...get it at HD.

Silicone actually has more uses than just to seal bathtubs and make boobs bigger…I have had great luck using it to repair cut tires.  For example, we all have cut a sidewall at some point and later get it home and patch the inside.  Sometimes, the cut is barely through the sidewall or even the patch we use might be “just” big enough.  I will take pure silicone, and smear it on the inside of the tire over and beyond the patch or over the cut.  It adheres quite well to the inside of tires and when it sets up, will not extrude itself through the cut or puncture in the tire.  Obviously, it’s not a very robust wear material so if you put it on the outside of the tire, it won’t last too long. 

No, not this kind of silcone ya bunch of perverts

So, there you have it…a quick brain dump on glues and such.  I’m positive I don’t know everything about this, and you all have info to add.  But, hopefully this helps a few folks buy the right spooge for their need.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Trail 4, Like having a Baby

Well, first, I don’t know what it’s actually like to have a baby, but based on experience being there and the comments made like, “That hurt like f*ck, I’m never doing that again!”, I have to imagine it’s not a terribly fun experience…But then a few years later, the memories of passing a bowling ball sized tiny human through your crotch seem to go away and they want to do it all over again.  The right response to such silliness is of course, “Wait honey, you said it hurt like hell the first time…and you want to do this all over again why?”
And that’s what Trail 4 is like…A solid shit show from start to finish...bowling ball sized rocks...10.5 miles of rugged, rocky, sharp, brutal desert terrain that makes you work for every mile…  After you do it once and say things like, “I’m never doing that again!”…a few years later, perhaps lured by the possibility of adventure and backcountry shenanigans, you’re ready to try it again…

Note here that there are no pictures of bikers...should have been a warning
That my friends brings me to today’s little adventure…Yes, this blog is not about Strava bashing, zone this or intensity that, but an honest to God blog about an epic ride (shocking, I know).
It all started a few weeks ago when Justin and myself did a little ride where we rode the newly completed Maricopa trail between the Bronco TH and Bartlett Lake Rd.  After that ride, I started thinking about better loop options and thought, “Hey, if you go up Trail 4 from Spur Cross, through 7 Springs, pick up the Maricopa trail, it would be about a 40 mile loop from Cave Creek.  No biggie right?  How hard can 40 miles be?

Well, after bailing this morning on some other ride options(Sorry Mark!), I decided it was time for a little solo adventure, a  vision quest of sorts….so I loaded up a gpx file on the etrex and got after it…Started a few minutes after 9AM from FTBS in Cave Creek and headed north.  Weather was perfect, a tad chilly and a nice thin cloud cover to keep the temps in check.  Up through spur cross; stopped to pay my $3 at the entry to the park and asked the lady, "anyone come through hiking Tr4?"  She looked at me like, "Hell no man, no sane person goes up there". I went passing some huge groups of hikers out for a nice 1/2 jaunt then like you would expect, the trail gets teeth quick after the first climb away from the creek.  
This is actually a good section of trail...still not rideable

These signs are scattered along the 10 or so mile stretch...just to mock you.

From there, it’s a constant cactus dodging, rock hoping, HAB up, HAB down for at least the next 9 or so miles.  I really can’t say I’ve HAB’d that much in quite some time…truly a Schillingsworth type of route.  In all this suck ass trail, I will say that the views are spectacular, its incredibly quiet, and all in all a pretty cool experience (to walk beside your bike).  Honestly, it was quite enjoyable!...I was in no hurry, no strava KOM's harmed, just enjoying a nice HAB....
Lots of water up there

Flowing water right here...neato.

beautiful scenery

more water...would have been nice to soak my feet.

Some rideable trail!  actually this section was REALLY cool and very much not desert-like!

Old fashioned Ride-Over gate...need skillz to ride over this one.
Finally, I emerged near the 7 springs campground where there is still quite a bit of water flowing (which is amazing considering our lack of rain or snow).  
On down to the Bronco TH where the new section of the Maricopa trail ties in.  Here the trail follows the powerline access road but they reworked much of it. 
new bridge on the Maricopa Trail
It takes a turn upward and eastward to go through a valley climbing towards Kentuck Mountain before topping out.  This is where the suck really started to get me...the trail in this section is oatmeal...a slight uphill is a HAB...  Finally, I got to the top.

View from the Highpoint...let the brake smoking begin!

Then the scree slide begins…basically a 1300 ft descent to Blue Wash (with a few stinger climbs tossed in there).  The final grunt up out of Blue wash and an easy roll back into Cave Creek…
It was quite an adventure…after all the “training” and other intensity nonsense, I was due for a good ol’ fashioned adventure…and this one delivers!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

STRAVA Challenges are BS

As the year came to close, I sat at the computer with a Pizza Port IPA close by,  seeing people post their ride stats for 2017 as summarized by Strava or Veloviewer…  Admittedly, I do the same thing, that is post my ride stats for the year (since I’m kinda proud of them!).   However, this year was different for me…my ride numbers(miles, time, vert) were not my highest to date yet this year, at the ripe old age of 52 (well, 51 up to October), I qualitatively felt like I was riding stronger than ever before;  Busting into top 10’s on highly contested climbs, grabbing some key KOM’s, and all in all feeling like my angriness has been paying off..  but why not in prior years with more miles, more vert, and more saddle time?

As I’m sure you all realize, I humbly believe I know the answer to this; an answer I wrote about in my prior blog post.  But, since I don’t want to repeat that, let me take a different tact.  

WARNING: What you are about to read pertains to those people who mainly ride bikes to get fast…if adventure, flower sniffing, or pleasure riding is your thing…COOL… what follows will not pertain to you.  But if you are a Type A, competitive SOB that wants to be fast…keep reading.

Flash back to when you first started riding in a more consistent, serious sense…not just rolling down to the liquor store for a sixer of PBR, but actually riding with some intent.  That being either better fitness, competition or what have you.  At some point, it probably dawned on you pushing your limits was fun (in a sick sort of way).  So maybe you trained for a century or perhaps some longer MTB ride.  So, you piled on the miles after a spending some money on chamois cream for your taint, you got it done…  Following that accomplishment, you were hooked…the desire to become faster overcame you.  Maybe setting goals helps you so you did that…miles per week/month, or ride time per week/month.  And so you did it, more saddle time, better fitness, and all was well.

But still, other riders were faster.  
They dropped you on the climbs.  
They stood around in the desert waiting for you to catch up.  
They waited at the car for you.    
W.T.F. you may have said….

Along comes STRAVA….what a great mashup of ride data availability and cheap recording technology (smartphones, gps devices)….  We now compete every day on rides even though our competitor is either asleep, at work, or sitting at the bar.  STRAVA upped the ante with their challenges…The equivalent of costume jewelry where you gain “badges” by accomplishing basic goals…ie, miles per month, or vertical climb per month. 

UGH…what a setback (IMHO).

Before your panties get too much in a bunch, let me explain…  We all have different goals and different ways we are motivated.  Read a little B.F. Skinner and the behavior theory stuff and you’ll get that.   For some people, basic activity goals work great....that’s why all these step counting devices people wear on their wrists work!  Give ‘em a goal, a way to measure progress against that goal, and they’ll alter their behavior to get it.  It’s awesome and I’d venture a guess that people who measure activity are in general healthier (I’ll bet insurance companies have all the quantitative data on this).

But if you want to be at the top of your game in something like cycling?  Forget it…just focusing on miles, vertical climb or saddle time, just ain’t gonna get you there.  And this is where STRAVA does us a disservice…it creates these challenges and pits us against our fellow athletes to maximize these basic, yet almost meaningless metrics.

As I said in my prior blog post…it’s about intensity and skill.   A friend of mine summed it up well…”Hard days hard, easy days easy”.  Wanna get fast on the MTB, do intervals.  Practice bike handling.  Go hard a few days a week…really hard…like OMG I’m gonna puke hard.  Go easy other days.  Practice conservation of momentum…you work hard to make speed, work harder at maintaining it.  Sleep a lot.  Eat good stuff.  Clean your drivetrain (well OK, the OCD guy in me needs to do this).

And finally, boycott those climbing and distance challenges on STRAVA.  They are just plain dumb. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why Strava Climbing Challenges and Browns Ranch can make you SLOW

First, for those falling off their chairs at the fact Angry Ray has posted something on his blog, get over it.  I like to wait for just the right moment.

Second, what I’m about to discuss is entirely my opinion based on my own observations and self-study.  If you don’t agree with it, no problem…I won’t be offended or at least if I am, a few IPA's later and I'll get over it.

I tend to believe wholeheartedly a few things when it comes to getting faster on a mountain bike based on my experiences over the last 7 years of riding seriously(and making MANY mistakes), as well as reputable sources of quantitative research found on the internet.  They are:
1.      If you want to build speed, you HAVE to do high intensity cycling.  I certainly hope no SANE person argues this point…there is so much research about this and even more importantly, it is crucial as you get older (just ask people like Ned Overend).  Oh and BTW, I'm not talking about, "gee, I'm breathing a little more", but more like, "I f*cking taste blood in my mouth and feel like I can puke" type of intensity.
2.       Getting faster on a MTB means you have to master two dimensions: bike handling and fitness.   You can be a WATT machine, but there is truly an efficiency thing at play when you ride that could probably be calculated in watts/mile or some other efficiency metric.  Bottom line, carrying speed through turns, tech sections, and using the terrain to generate speed (like a pump track) is huge.  I like to call it "free speed".
I had to have at least one pic in this blog...may as well be my awesome Vassago VerHauen...

OK, so hopefully at this point, you’re on-board with what I’ve said and possibly wondering, “Why are Strava climbing challenges bad and why is he so down on Browns Ranch?”

In order to answer this, I first have to admit, I only ride a single speed mtb.  The only derailleur I own is on a road bike and I don’t ride it on the road anymore. Hit by a car, a few near misses and I realized my life is more valuable.  Too many idiot drivers.  Anyway, it’s last use was on a Wahoo Kickr(thx Dana Ernst!) while I recovered from hernia surgery and unless I end up unable to ride mtb’s, it’s gonna get sold.

So that being said, most people who ride SS probably understand that your power output is generally dictated by the terrain you ride.  Without gears, you are either spun out(at one end of the spectrum) or barely turning the pedals over at the other end of the spectrum.  However, that is precisely what is so IMPORTANT!  On a geared bike, you can generate nearly constant watts over varied terrain by simply changing gears and keeping your cadence constant…on a SS, you don’t have that luxury and are forced to generate watts at all ranges of cadence.  The fancy term in the power world is “quadrant analysis” where you can see this illustrated(google it).    We SS folks end up training our legs to NOT be narrow cadence power generators, but a multi-purpose engine capable of high RPM’s and low, “god this hurts” lug the engine kind of stuff. (Shaw Butte, Mt. Elden, etc)

Now, I love Browns Ranch…it’s like a Cornering 101 class… and doing work out there is important since it teaches you all the finer points of efficient cornering (or suffer the consequences).  However, a steady diet of that place will NOT work all “corners” of fitness (especially low RPM).  It will reward the Strava whores with plenty of costume jewelry and make you feel like you are a BAMF.  You will look at your HR trace and think, “damn, I was zone 4-5 for many of those segments! What a great workout!”.   Sure, it’s one part of the equation, but it’s like crack…people get HOOKED.    Now, if you don’t care about getting faster on a SS and just love miles and scenery, then no worrries, that place is AWESOME.

Now for those Strava climbing challenges... I think Strava challenges are great and for some people, goal setting can be a very powerful motivator.  But taking a very unilateral stance of saying “all that matters is how many feet you climb” is just stupid.  Here’s why…as I said above, we need to spend some portion of our training week in our upper zones of HR and do so at a range of cadences (especially for the SS people).  Just focusing on feet or meters climbed does not equal better training!  Consider this…I know of friends who focus on that 10k meter challenge every month but accumulate much of it in zone 2 and their other rides are hardly in zone 4.  Does it make them faster?  Well, it’s certainly good endurance miles, but I would argue it’s not building power for them.  They can check the box for meeting the goal but it's not the right goal if speed is what you strive for.  My point, don’t become a slave to the Strava challenges… focus on getting into the higher HR zones (or power zones if you have that technology) for a slice of your training week.  And of course, be sure you make that power at both high and low cadence.  

If you gotten this far, thanks for reading.  Stay angry.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Tell-you're-Ride...Such a blast

About a month ago, Olson and I were talking about taking another road trip after our successful and super fun time last fall where we toured the west.  However, we didn’t have as much time, and wanted to go someplace we hadn’t been.  Additionally, after getting totally rained out last fall and not getting the miles of riding in Colorado that I wanted, I was looking for a bit of redemption.  Olson mentioned Telluride since a few Doc friends of her from work had places there and I’d never been…  She found a VRBO place in downtown Telluride 200 yards from the free gondola so the plan was hatched.  Within milliseconds, I was doing my trail research planning my assault on some sweet mtb trails.
About a week before we left, a check of the weather was not looking good…f*&K.  Really?  Can I get a freaking break here Mother Nature?

On our drive up Monday, we encountered plenty of rain in AZ and consistent rain from Cortez to Telluride.  Luckily, it let up late in the afternoon Monday when we arrived.
yeah, that's snow up there

We took the gondola over to Mtn Village and had some dinner at the Tomboy Tavern.

Going up the gondola

So many beer of each please...

So angry that one...
The next morning, it was time to shred...I decided I'd ride what's referred to as the "Gentlemen's Loop" which starts at the top of the Gondola and takes the Prospect Trail...
my bike hanging precariously outside the gondola

looking down on Telluride

Ready to rip the prospect trail

crosses lots of ski runs

so much water...prospect creek

sweet trail

Jurassic Trail

More Jurassic Trail

Finally back into town after a little less than a 2 hour ride and the Olson was looking to do a hike.  So we decided to hike up bear creek which is a very popular one in Telluride...

where cairns are born and raised

That night we hit up some 1/2 price sushi at good!

Then took an after dinner ride up the gondola for a nice glass of wine at Alreads... was actually snowing at the top!  (10.5kft)

Sweet ass ride...

Rain, rain, rain

The next morning, I wanted to get up to higher elevation but the threat of rain was significant...I really didn't want to get soaked and struck by lightening but I figured I'd head up past the power plant as far as reasonable...
Old dude in yoga pants

hey baby...wanna feel my spandex?

Views get better as you climb

The power plant and Bridal Veil Falls

Above the power plant and falls

crazy wildflowers

The theme of the day...wet, green, and steep

Looking back on the powerplant on the descent

the money shot...looking down on Telluride

I was up there

After my ride, Olson was itchin' to get out and we decided to head up the See Forever Trail with hopes to do the loop down the Wasatch Connector and Bear Creek, but the weather got ugly quick... so we ran down...(I need new knees now).

she won the prize...a sketchy old

big views

At our turnaround point at the top of see forever trail...storms were headed our way fast!

On Thursday, the weather forecast looked a little better; at least until about noon.  I decided to do a loop somewhat similar to the Gentlemens Loop but more climb and further to the south that followed more of the Telluride 100 was AWESOME...just a little rain right near the end...Perfect.
A grouse...sat very still!

a marmot

Prospect trail crossing the talus field

Turkey mesa trail...

Awesome descent through the aspens...incredible

on my way down to the Illium Valley

It rained like crazy Thursday night so for my last ride, I figured I'd take another run up past the power plant since the road drains well and is pretty rocky...Some fresh snow up there!
It ended up being a great trip...4 days, 4 rides...59 miles, 8200 ft of climbing plus a bunch on foot....Olson hiked her legs off and I got a healthy dose of Colorado mtb riding in...  So many great rides up there; need to plan more trips soon.