My Expensive Fatbike Tire is Damaged!

I can’t believe I made it almost 3yrs before experiencing significant tire damage to the fatbike tires that I run tubeless on my Bucksaw. Of course, they’re not “designed” as tubeless tires, but they work just fine.

Out on a ride a couple of weeks ago, a stick nearly the size of my thumb punctured my tire. Yowza!

1024181648

I was less than a mile of easy gravel from the trailhead, so I wasn’t concerned. A quick look confirmed that the hole was too big for Stan’s to deal with. Which also confirmed that for as close as I was to the trailhead, it wasn’t worth pulling off the tire, temporarily booting it, installing a tube, and riding back. So I just walked. It was a nice day and I was in no hurry to get anywhere.

1024181741a

I had another set of tires at home, too, so I just threw on an older Husker Du to get me by for the time being. You see, good fatbike tires aren’t cheap. A 120 tpi kevlar bead Surly Nate tire goes for about $120 MSRP. Needless to say, I didn’t want to be buying a new tire since I’m in the process of a new build (you’ll have to wait to find out what – I have the frame, but haven’t decided on the full build yet).

So I hit teh Googles to see what people are doing to repair such tires. I’ve read about sewing up the hole so it won’t stretch, and letting the sealant do its job. Yeah, I dunno if you noticed on that hole, but my tire was missing rubber. Sewing wasn’t going to work unless I wanted a (not so)awesome hop to my tire. So that method was out. I read some reports about people using car tire patches to fix mtb tires. So I started looking for the materials needed, and car tire patch supplies are typically available in massive quantities. Sure, I’d spend maybe half the cost of a new tire, and I’d also wind up with enough adhesive and whatnot to repair tires for my day job (meaning, I wouldn’t, and a lot of that stuff would either go bad or wind up being tossed out). Fortunately for me, a company that makes lots of car tire repair supplies just so happens to make a little kit for bicycle tires.

1110181459

For what it’s worth Rema Tip-Top’s product pic is a little different from what actually comes in the package.

1110181459b

It’s similar to the old school kits for patching tubes, but it’s critically different. The patches themselves are a much thicker rubber, more suitable for repairing the tire. The cement is also different. I found my kit at BlueSkyCycling for $8.49 plus shipping, so I spent a WHOLE LOT LESS on it than I would have for massive quantities of auto tire repair supplies.

The method is essentially the same, though. I had to clean off the old sealant film, but that was just a matter of scrubbing with a rag. I touched the area up with some alcohol to address any residual sealant goo or mold release, and then roughed the area up with the included emery paper. Apply cement and wait 5min for it to get tacky. It’s worth noting that it was fairly cool in my garage when I did this, and I don’t think 5min was quite enough. Still, I applied the patch, and clamped it between wood blocks to ensure the patch stuck well. I left it like that overnight to be certain. I finished up by applying a thin layer of silicone RTV sealant over the top, just to make sure that any loose edges of the patch were stuck down, and that any gaps would be filled. This wasn’t in the instructions, but I wanted to be extra sure it worked.

1105181507

Everything appeared to work after doing a dry install (no sealant), so I installed sealant and inflated to 20psi. The patch held overnight no problem at that pressure. So I deflated to ride pressure (about 9psi for a rear tire) this morning for a chilly spin with an old friend in town for the weekend.

This is an exterior shot of the patched location, showing the missing bits of rubber and the divot left behind. I took this picture after my ride this morning, and everything held up swimmingly. I noticed no appreciable balance wobbles on the trail, which is something that concerned me with car tire patches (I never could get a good feel for the sizes of those things online, in order to choose an appropriate size).

With fatbike tires (or any good mtb tire for that matter) being as expensive as they are, I really recommend keeping one of these tire repair kits around in case you damage one like I did. I’m not sure I’d be confident in a repair like this on a sidewall cut. There’s probably a reason why car tire shops always say that they won’t work on tires with sidewall damage. A cut sidewall may well be an excellent location to sew the tire back together (and THEN try patching with this method).

DIY Mountain Bike Pogies

This is some old stuff I’ve been dragging my feet on posting. This past winter, I made myself a pair of pogies. They’re awesome, but I do need to tweak them a little for next winter. After going through the process of making them, I’ll discuss what I need to change.

Step 1:
Figure out what shape you need. This is a pretty obvious step, but for me it turned out to be the trickiest. I WAS going to post printable patterns, but I’m not 100% pleased with how mine turned out, so I’m not going to share imperfect patterns. Use cardboard to make a mock-up. You need to fit your grips, brake and shifter controls, and have a little bit of extra space. I feel like I could use a little more interior space. At times, it’s a little tight reaching my controls.

DIY MTB Pogies

DIY MTB Pogies

Once you get the pieces together, assemble the cardboard and do a dry fit. This was an early version which was CLEARLY too small. I went back to the drawing board and made it bigger. On my final version, I also eliminated the fourth small panel on the inside curve to reduce seam count. In hindsight, I should have kept the panel, but possibly made it smaller than is shown here.

DIY MTB Pogies

While you’re doing this step, you should work out the materials you’re going to need. I used a combination of scrap material from my quilt project and new materials.

Material List:
Momentum90 DWR fabric (liner)
1000D Cordura (shell)
Thinsulate 150
3/4″ grosgrain webbing
3/4″ No-snag Velcro
3/4″ triglides
Polyester thread, both thinner lightweight for the liner, as well as heavy duty for the Cordura
Rare Earth magnets
Sharpies (I used silver for visibility on black fabric, and black for marking on the thinsulate).
Pins, clips, and/or masking tape
Sewing machine with a walking foot
Sharp scissors

Once you have your supplies, go ahead and start using your cardboard guides to trace onto the fabric. Be aware of the inner and outer surfaces of your fabrics, and only draw on the inner surfaces so you don’t have sharpie marks all over the visible parts of your pogies.

DIY mtb pogies

Also draw your seam allowances. You’ll cut on one line, and use the other as a sewing guide. In both the previous and the following pictures, you’ll see that I traced one out, and then modified the pattern, which required a bit of attention to make sure I cut in the correct spot. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance.

DIY mtb pogies

Once I made one panel, I would use the fabric as my guide to ensure that all subsequent panels matched. Make sure that for each pogie, the top and bottom panels are mirror images of each other (this matters when the fabric has an inner and an outer surface).

DIY mtb pogies

Once I had the liner fabric all measured and cut (you can see my seam allowances, too), I used it to trace onto the Thinsulate. Do your marking on the thin backing of the Thinsulate.

DIY Pogies

Cut out your Thinsulate panels.

DIY Pogies

Make sure you draw your seam allowances on the Thinsulate.

DIY Pogies

Trace out the shell fabric and cut it. Important note: Make your shell panels just a tad bigger than the liner panels. Remember, the liner has to fit comfortably INSIDE the shell, so the shell needs to make more room. For this, I drew my seam allowances OUTSIDE the traced pattern, rather than inside (like I did with the liner).

DIY Pogies

Run some tests with your sewing machine on some scrap fabric to make sure you have the machine’s settings (stitch size, thread tension, etc) correct before starting. The first bit of sewing will be to sew the Thinsulate to the liner fabric. Make sure that the thin backing of the Thinsulate sandwiches the insulation between the backing and your liner fabric. And make sure that the shiny inner side of the liner faces your insulation.

DIY Pogies

Once it’s sewn together, cut the seam allowance off of the Thinsulate only, like so.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

Once you have all that finished, go ahead and sew your panels together along your seam allowances. The “outer” surface of your liner fabric will be what touches your skin, and the insulation will be outside. Go ahead and dry fit everything to your bike to be absolutely sure that things will fit together.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

So long as everything fits well, go ahead and start assembling your shell fabric. Sew everything together with the shiny “inner” surface towards the outside. This will assemble the shell inside out, and will make sure that the shiny “inner” surface is on the “inside” of the pogie, as it will be touching the insulation. You will just invert them once you get the shell pieces fully assembled. I chose a pretty stiff fabric here for abrasion resistance. 1000D is probably more rugged than is minimally necessary, but in this case that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I used the Velcro, grosgrain webbing, and triglides to cinch the pogies around my handlebars to hold them on the bike. As you’re assembling the shell pieces, you need to keep in mind the placement of these items and make sure you sew them in where you need them.

Here you see where I placed them well after the fact. I got into a groove with the sewing and forgot to take the progress pics. You’ll see the end finishing seam, also, so add about 1/2″ beyond the visible edge for the seam allowance.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

I added reinforcing bar tacks where multiple seams intersected because I wanted to make sure these held together crashing through dry brush on slippery winter trails.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

Slide the liner/insulation inside the shell, and sew them together at the ends. Go ahead and fold the seams and give them a nice finishing stitch.

Once you’re finished, you’ll get something like this:

DIY Pogies

Go ahead and fit them to your bike.

DIY Pogies

Now you might wonder what the rare earth magnets are for because I haven’t talked about them yet. Ok, so these I added after a ride on the pogies. I added them inside the pogie, so it was impossible to take a picture of that process. I epoxied a corresponding magnet inside the end caps on my ODI grips. I made little pockets out of 1000D fabric for magnets, and bar tacked them into each pogie. Placement was a bit of a trial-and-error process, and I still don’t have it exactly right on all of the pogies. Throughout this process, I had to make sure the magnet polarities lined up so they’d hold. I had to get some pretty strong ones in order to hold through the plastic and the fabric, in order to keep the pogies from flopping around and sagging on my bars.

Most other companies use a bit of cord or bungee that wraps around a special handlebar end cap. That would certainly be easier, but I wanted to be a little creative. Some folks who do the DIY bit have used stiffeners in their pogies to get them to hold their shape. I found that the 1000D fabric has plenty of stiffness, especially with the liner and insulation fabrics as well, that stiffeners are unnecessary.

Coldest Ride to Date. 1F at start

Now onto a couple of things I would do differently. I rode a couple hundred miles with these over the winter, so I feel I got a good impression of them. They’re VERY warm. In fact, they were warm enough that they were excessively warm unless it was below about 20F. If it was much warmer than that, my hands would be sopping wet from sweat. And that was with a thin, well-ventilated full-fingered glove. This goes to something I’d do differently. Primarily to use fabrics that ventilate better. The Momentum90 fabric has a pretty good DWR coating on it. I’m sure this inhibits ventilation somewhat. DWR is kinda unnecessary in a liner fabric for this application. I’m glad I used it for my down quilts, but it’s excessive for a synthetic insulation used in the snow and well below freezing at that.

My pattern could use tweaking. You might notice something in the following picture:

DIY Pogies

The inside curve puckers a bit. That happened when turning the shell inside-out. That heavy fabric doesn’t pucker gracefully. This is where I’d do well to have an additional panel along that seam to allow the fabric to curve better. It would have the additional benefit of providing a bit more interior volume. Depending on the size of that extra panel, it may not even be necessary to do the liner and insulation the exact same.

Also – the magnets. Nice idea, but didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Even though the ones I used were the strongest I could find in a size that would fit on my handlebar end caps, it’s still rather easy for them to slip off if they’re even just slightly tugged. I’d skip the magnets and either go without entirely, or use cord or bungee.

2013 Year in Review

I have to say, 2013 was the best year of riding I’ve had in a long time. It came at the expense of hiking and canoeing, though. According to my Strava logs, I rode for almost 70 hours and logged around 360 miles of riding (combined between my commuter and mtb). There were a handful of rides I did not log, so in total, I probably reached 400mi or close to it. My goal was to get to 500mi on the mtb by itself, so I did come up a bit short.

I’d say if I want to hit that goal for this year, I’m going to have to step it up some. Last year, I didn’t get many rides in for the first 3 months of the year. It’s tough, because on the mtb, I’m at the whims of the freeze/thaw cycle as well as my tolerance for cold. I’m going to have to get more riding done in cold parts of the year. My riding picked up some in the spring, but not as much as I’d like.

To be fair, I was training for my first half marathon, and immediately post-run I was dealing with some knee issues that kept my riding down. I did not log very many of those runs, and I can’t remember exactly why. It could have been that I couldn’t find my Forerunner for awhile because I do remember doing a lot of runs without it. At any rate, I’m not training for any running races this year, so my spring riding should improve.

My riding also dropped off this fall after the Brown County Breakdown. It’s a great event, but weather kept me from hitting the 50mi goal I had for the big ride day. I also moved to a new place right around that time, and getting situated was a major contributor to reduced ride time.

On the positive side, I really got to explore a lot of trails that were new to me for 2014.

The trails at Brown County State Park were entirely new to me this year. As were the trails at Versailles State Park, Southwestway Park, and Westwood Park.

I participated in the 2013 Hoosier Outdoor Experience for the first time, leading kids and other beginners on mtb rides around the trails at Fort Harrison State Park (which I rode for the first time in 2012).

My wife got stoked about riding again, since we have better quality trails available to us now. She wanted a new bike for her birthday, so in the fall she got this (which she enjoys riding even more):

I got a new bike, too. I replaced my On-One Pompetamine with a Salsa Vaya. I also went from singlespeed to a 1×10 drivetrain, which gives me a little more versatility. I want to ride this thing to Brown County one weekend in 2014 to go camping, and then ride back home. That ride should shoot my annual total WAY up.

Here’s hoping 2014 turns out even better.

Goals for the next year:

Actually get 500+ total mtb miles.
Do at least one 50+mi mtb ride by midsummer. And again for the Breakdown.
Get more commute miles.
Take the commute/touring bike for a weekend camping ride.

Offseason Maintenance Projects

It’s getting close to the “offseason” for many outdoor activities.  Or, at least, the shorter days and holiday business tends to reduce our enjoyment of some of these things.  It also happens to be a good time to take care of any maintenance you might need to take care of.  Several years ago, I made use of the winter offseason to sew a couple of down quilts.

I’ve been working on a master’s degree the past few years and so I haven’t had much time for winter gear projects, but I did give the shocks on my mountain bike some maintenance a couple years ago.

This year, I think I’m going to give my mountain bike some bearing TLC.  I’ve got some squeaky suspension pivots and since it’s been several years since they’ve been replaced, it’s probably time to do it again.  While I’m at it, I’ll be taking a look at my BB, hub bearings, and headset bearings.  They are all cartridge bearings, so I’ll be getting my hands on a bearing extractor and a bearing press to do all this work.  I’ll probably spend more on the tools than on any replacement bearings, but the tools will pay for themselves over time.  Eventually.

Yeah, I know my actual service intervals are WAY off of the manufacturers’ recommended service intervals for this stuff.  But honestly, I think the manufacturers are a little overzealous in their recommended service intervals for a lot of things.  That, and I’m not all that hard on my stuff.

I am also going to try to get the woodwork on my canoe sanded and varnished.  One of my paddles also has some wear that could use a bit of TLC to keep the water out.  I doubt I’ll be doing that one in the deep of winter, though.  I might get the wood sanded, but  I’ll probably wait until it starts to warm up again to varnish it so I can get some ventilation and warmer temps to help the varnish dry.

What are you planning to do as your winter gear maintenance project this year?

Don’t be a Stravatard

I wish I could stake a claim on that word, but I can’t. I have no idea who came up with it, but I’ve been seeing it around lately.

The short of it is that Strava’s segments competitions are pretty popular in some places. That popularity coupled with some people’s single-minded drive to compete is causing some problems out there. Other sharing sites are taking note. Garmin Connect introduced running Personal Records earlier in the summer and just added the functionality for cycling at the end of August.

A lot of people will be aware of the San Francisco cyclist who died as he was trying to earn the King of the Mountain (KOM) on a downhill Strava segment. The guy had a lapse in judgement when he decided to blow through an intersection at speed. There’s also this guy, also in San Francisco, who hit and killed an elderly pedestrian while going over 35mph in a 20mph zone, running a red light in the process while his buddy (who had some sense) stopped for the light.

The problem is not exclusive to the road. While I’m not aware of any fatalities as a result from excessive competition for Strava segments, there’s plenty of derision, (2), (3) for mountain bikers who try too hard for Strava segments on public multi-use trails (especially downhills) endangering hikers and equestrians along the way (and possibly damaging the trail to boot). Other mountain bikers are also frustrated with the phenomenon. There are reports of people calling “Strava!” on the trails to get others to move out of their way so they don’t have to slow down for their run at a given segment. “Stravatizing” of trails also seems to be occurring, where riders will sanitize the trail to make it faster. It also appears as though some are even shortcutting switchbacks and finding other ways to cheating, (2), (3).

A lot of people are behaving very poorly in the name of an internet competition. I get why Strava can be cool. I use it from time to time. I have set a few segments. I think I still have one KOM. It’s fun and motivates me to do better. But in NO WAY does pushing for a Strava segment trump other trail users. It’s not worth hurting (or killing) someone. It’s also not worth being an asshole.

It’s been said before, but if you really want to race, then pay an entry fee and sign up for a real race.

Here’s how I propose handling this situation. I propose two sets of recommendations. The first set addresses folks who wish to track their rides.

1. Unless you are on a closed race course, you are at the mercy of other trail traffic. Do not behave like a Neanderthal because other trail users are slowing you down so you can’t beat your PR or earn that KOM. If you do behave poorly, expect consequences. Either other trail users returning the favor, or being tracked down by rangers or police. Please, be nice and courteous, and slow down. We’re all out on the trails trying to enjoy ourselves.

2. Do not set downhill segments. I am guilty of setting one before I knew better. I can see some gray area here on downhill mtb-only trails (in my defense, the one downhill segment I set was on a downhill directional trail), but this is especially poor form on two-way trails. Pushing for Strava segments while doing downhill where there might be uphill traffic is asking for trouble. Please don’t do it. Flag a segment if it is questionable.

3. Do not set segments that cross intersections governed by stop signs or traffic lights. This sort of thing can drive people to do dangerous things. This is especially bad news if combined with a downhill segment. Flag these.

4. Don’t be a tool and cheat. GPS files can be falsified. Don’t do it. If you see an obvious attempt at cheating, flag it.

Now, for folks dealing with Stravatards.

1. Don’t let them get away with it. Be a courteous trail user and let the faster rider by when it’s safe to do so. But don’t succumb to the call “Strava!!!!!” and jump off a cliff or into a patch of poison ivy just because some Stravatard let out his most intimidating war yell.

2. If someone is causing problems because they’re racing on busy public trails, call rangers or police and report the fool with your best description. I know a lot of you have cameras…either a regular digital camera, or on your phone. Use it. This is especially true on trails that have speed limits and those with specific rules about riding courteously and/or yielding to specific user groups. Nobody needs people like that on busy public trails.

3. If someone is Stravatizing (or otherwise modifying without permission) the local trails), report that stuff to rangers and your local trail stewards. I hesitate to suggest undoing all modifications because some of it might just be legit trail maintenance you’re not aware of. But some things, like obvious shortcuts on switchbacks, are probably okay to block off. That sort of thing has been a problem as long as there have been switchbacks; it’s not a new trend. Still report it to stewards and rangers, because permanent solutions are going to be a lot more involved than your few minutes of brush dragging will be able to fix.

It is possible to use tracking and online competition websites (Strava is not the first and it won’t be the last. It’s just the most popular right now) without endangering others or turning into an asshat. It just takes some sourtesy. That segment will be there tomorrow if your attempt today doesn’t go the way you’d hoped. The best time to compete for segments is during a closed-course race, but I realize that the best segments might not show up in any local race. Just be smart about when you try to set a PR or KOM on it.

Early Aug Night Ride at SFA and New XT Shadow Rear Derailleur

Shimano M772 XT Shadow Rear Derailleur

After my ride in Indy and the mechanical I suffered (being the second time I had that particular problem recently), I decided I needed to replace some worn parts…particularly my 9 yr old XTR M952 rear derailleur.  It still “works”, but I’ve had to bend the cage twice recently.  It’s on its last legs, I believe.

The Bike Shop in Nac had a NOS XT Shadow M772 rear derailleur in stock.  Not sure how old, exactly, but it’s probably been on the shelf for 5yrs or so.  I negotiated a deal for it with the owner and went home to install it.

I’ve been using an Avid Rollamajig to eliminate the ugly housing loop on my old XTR for quite some time.  That worked in my favor when it came time to install the XT.  The goofy routing had been fixed by this time, so my existing housing fit perfectly.  The inner cable fit perfectly, too.  Since the Rollamajig had the inner cable looping around the wheel, there was a lot more than necessary, so I was able to simply clip off the worn end when I installed the new derailleur.

The install went smoothly until I got everything ready to start adjusting the b-screw, limit screws, and cable tension.  I was having some odd problems in the largest cog that I couldn’t tune out.  So I proceeded to keep my eye on the cog as I rotated my cranks to see if I could figure out what was going on.  I noticed that the skipping was happening at the same cog tooth.  I marked that tooth with a sharpie and watched more closely.  Yup, that tooth was the culprit.  I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with it, though, so I checked it out from other angles.

Sure enough, that cog was ever so slightly bent.  I found it by shifting out of that cog, and looking down the chainline.  I had to use my finger as a stationary point to see it.  It was only bent 1 mm or so.  Very slight.  It probably happened one of the times my bike threw the chain and bent my derailleur.  It’s hard to say if throwing the chain bent the cog first or what.  I could see things happening either way.  I used a smooth-jawed pipe wrench to grab the problem tooth and the 2 next to it and bend them back into submission.  That did the trick.  If it was a more severe bend in the cog, I wouldn’t have been able to tweak it like this.

Shimano M952 XTR Rear Derailleur
This was a SRAM PG-990 cassette that’s only a handful or two of rides old.  I’ve never bent a cassette like this before and I’ve ridden much gnarlier terrain than I’ve been on lately.  I’m doubting whether I’ll buy one of these again.

After getting the XTR off, I think I might clean it up and put it on my commuter to convert it to a 1×9.  The long cage isn’t exactly ideal to a 1×9 setup, but it’s a commuter bike and shouldn’t be a problem.  When this one finally goes, I could easily replace it with a derailleur that has a proper shorter cage for the tighter gearing range of my commuter bike.

I had my light battery on the charger to top it off, so when I finished up, I tossed the bike on the rack to get a quick night ride in.  To my chagrin, I couldn’t find my Oregon GPS.  Curses, the last time I used it was in Indiana, but I didn’t want to spend so much time looking that I didn’t even ride.  So I grabbed my Forerunner 205, checked the battery (good to go!) and hit the trails anyway.

Initially, I had a bit of cable tension tuning to do before I was riding well.  Stuff like that doesn’t often show up until you start putting power to the pedals.  Gotta get it off the work stand and actually test ride it.  I know better.  I was also reminded why I don’t wear the Forerunner when riding.  When I get warm and sweaty, my wrists swell up and I don’t have much adjustment room on the Forerunner wrist strap.  I really should just put it on the handlebars.

I haven’t been on this trail in the dark in quite some time.  Forestry crews have been cutting a lot of trees that were killed in last year’s drought.  Plus, the spring rains washed away a bit of the sandy trail.  So the trail character is a little different.  I wasn’t really “on”.  It doesn’t help that this time of year, the sand gets really loose and traction can be tough to find.  This was not one of my fastest rides.  I like riding Labyrinth when I’m out here doing night rides, but one of the felled trees was blocking the top of Labyrinth today.  Where a trunk crosses the trail, the crews have been good about clearing a path.  But in this case, it was the tree’s whole canopy that was blocking the trail.  In daylight, I’d have searched for a way around.  In the middle of the night, no thanks.

The North Loop was in pretty good shape, but hitting the rock gardens on Rocky Road in the dark is tricky.  I got the last two, but was unsuccessful on the first, which I think is a little more difficult, anyway.  There is some work going on up here, though, and workers have cut a pretty wide path down the fall line.  There were some piles of material that looked like gravel at the top of the hill by the access point they’re using.  It’s hard to see in the dark what they’re doing with all of that.  They might be trying to shore up some eroded areas caused by runoff from the neighborhood at the top of the hill.  It could also be material intended for use in the skills course towards the bottom of the hill.  Either way, cutting a path straight down the fall line is a recipe for a trashed trail.

Creekside is riding pretty nicely right now.  It’s faster than it has been in quite some time.

All said, though, it wasn’t my best ride.  It was good to be out, but the heat and humidity were pretty high, and my control of the bike was a little shaky at times because I haven’t been on the trails at night for so long.

Fort Harrison State Park (Indianapolis, IN) MTB 14 July 2012

I got to ride these trails for the first time recently, though they’ve been open for a few years now, I think. I grew up just a couple miles from here and wish these trails were open when I started to mtb. Alas, they were closed to bikes long before I started riding. Yay for them being open now. The Hoosier Mountain Bike Association has done a great job with these trails.

I recorded my ride with my Oregon for posting on Strava.

It was a great ride. The trails were an absolute blast. It’s really well-built contour trail. Judging by the side slopes, I was sure I’d pack on more elevation change here, but I suppose if the trails are intended to be a bit easier, they wouldn’t use all that’s available. Maybe if they have plans for a more advanced loop in the future, they’ll use a bit more of the available terrain. Regardless, these are fun trails. They certainly won’t become an erosion problem in the future. All the stream crossings are armored, and there are some technical features scattered around. Some rock gardens, boulders to wheelie drop, stuff built from the odd fallen tree. Nothing too tough, but some of it was plenty tricky for me, too.

I had a couple issues out here. The first was a mechanical when I made a wrong turn. Bent the cage on my rear derailleur. It’s more than 9 years old, so I’m surprised it’s gone this long. But this is the second time in the past few months this has happened. Both times it tossed my chain into my spokes. And with the SRAM cassette I run with the machined out backside, the chain has a tendency to jam between the hub “flanges” (my wheelset is a Mavic CrossTrail with straight-pull spokes and it doesn’t have a flange in the true sense of the word, but it’s where the spoke ends are helt) and the back side of the cassette body. The pins on the back of the cassette that hold the cogs in place make things problematic getting the chain out of there. The first time it happened, I mangled my chain. This time, I avoided that outcome. But with this being the second time it’s happened (and the second time I’ve bent it back into submission), I need to fix the derailleur. I’m trying to replace the cage first. If that can’t happen, I’m going to go with a NOS 9spd rear derailleur. That happened on the Franklin Creek Loop.

Fort Harrison State Park 14 July 2012My second problem was a minor wreck on Schoen Creek. Lost traction in the dust, and a tree ejected me from my bike, causing me to slide across the concrete-solid trail surface. Skinned up my elbow real nice in the process. That was my first “ejected from the bike” crash in a long time. Most of my wrecks in the past few years have been the low speed “fall over sideways” affairs that rarely leave a mark.

All in all, great ride. Thankfully, the trails are so flowy that my wonky derailleur wasn’t much of an issue before I managed to bend it back (noticed by a fellow rider at the Camp Glenn trailhead who came over to see if I was getting my mechanical sorted out). Bending it back got it into working order so I could pedal more and finish the rest of the trail.

There’s a longish downhill towards the end of the Franklin Creek loop that is just a giant pump track. I loved it.Fort Harrison State Park 14 July 2012

In spite of the severe drought for much of the midwest right now, I found it remarkable how lush the native prairie meadows were even on the tops of the hills and far from water. Wildflowers blooming and healthy. Grasses were green. Stressed, for sure…but making better use of the scant water than most of the turfgrasses and flower beds in the area.

My bike was quite happy with the ride. It’s a different sort of thing than I’ve ridden the past 4 years in Texas, that’s for sure.

First Bike Video

My GoPro HD Hero arrived today and I got to take a couple minutes of video before it got too dark. I used it on the default settings, which are for 960p HD…essentially a tall HD format. I tried out the chesty mount first because it was the easiest to set up. It is pretty clever. I have quite an assortment of mounts I can use, and I’ll be playing with a couple of them tomorrow when I hit the trails with some buddies.

In addition to the chesty, I have the handlebar/seatpost mount, vented helmet mount, and all of the other little adhesive mounts that come with the helmet version. I will probably swap between chesty, helmet, and seatpost tomorrow. I have a couple ideas for utilizing some of the sticky mounts, but I’ll have to figure out optimal placement for them.

Here’s the short clip I came up with this evening:

The song makes me laugh, “Mountainbiker Klaus”…haha. At any rate, I don’t care much for the 960p setting here. Seeing my chin the whole time kinda sucks. Tomorrow, I’ll be playing with 720p, which is the same FOV (field of view), but not so tall. If the size works, but I don’t care for the FOV, I might try the 1080p setting for future vids, because it provides a slightly narrower FOV.

I’m liking this Sony Vegas HD Platinum software, though. It’s so easy to flip videos in the software, I don’t think I’ll worry about using the “UpD” setting on the camera. The less I fiddle with in the field, the better.

I have already decided I need another mount…I need the tripod mount so I can put the GoPro on my Ultrapod for static shots. mudpuppy (on mtbr) created this one that used the GoPro attached to a Gorillapod only. Clever.

First Ride of 2011

It took me awhile to get my first ride of 2011 in. No excuses here. I was lazy for the first couple weeks of January, but we’ve also had rain moving through the area on a regular basis since the New Year. We’ll only get a day or two of dry, sunny weather, and up until now, those days have coincided with days I’ve had other stuff to do. Today, I had time to ride, so I took advantage of the nice weather.



It wasn’t an exciting ride by any stretch. But I rode in to work and I rode home. It was a car-free day. I met another rider on the trail today, and spent some time chatting it up…and then I realized I was burning what little daylight I had available so I had to take off so I’d make it home before dark. I didn’t bring anything but a rear blinkie today.

The trails were pretty nice. There was a wet spot or two on the parts I rode, and those spots are known problems. Now that we see them, though, we should be able to prioritize them and get them dealt with. I didn’t get a chance to look at some of our other historic trouble areas. The major one we worked on last spring has been holding up well.

It was good to get out on the bike today, and the Lanana Creek Trail just south of Pecan Park was pretty crowded. I didn’t see any other riders, but lots of folks were out for a walk. And justifiably so, the weather was quite nice.

Prestaflator

I got an air compressor (well, a gift card for one – because we weren’t going to haul one 2,000 miles with us on our trip to visit family for the holidays) from my wife for Christmas. I ended up choosing a portable Kobalt compressor for my uses, since I mostly just want it for inflating tires (car and bike) and for the occasional other random use (like installing/removing grips and for blowing dirt out of my drivetrain). The inflator and hose that come with the Kobalt compressor are pretty lame, though. There’s not even a pressure gauge on the schrader inflator.

I didn’t want to be stuck using presta-schrader adapters for my bike tires all the time, so I decided a Prestaflator would be worth the investment. I chose the $50 multipurpose tool with the safety blower tip and the schrader adapter in addition to the Silca-style presta valve adapter since I needed a decent inflator tool for all my uses. It arrived in the mail today and here is a short initial review.

Prestaflator

Prestaflator

This is the inflator with the presta adapter installed on the end of the hose. The tool itself is well-built. It doesn’t leak anywhere (after installing the male coupler end with some Teflon tape) and the trigger operates smoothly. My only beef with the tool is that the hose is extremely stiff, and it’s got this odd natural bend to it that’s the wrong way I’d like it to bend. I cannot get the hose to rotate without unscrewing from the valve/gauge assembly. It makes it a challenge to inflate even a tire on a 26″ mountain bike. The stiffness of the hose results in it being difficult to maneuver it around the cassette and the rear brake rotor.

I think I would benefit from the right angle “Disc Wheel Presta Head” due to the stiffness of the hose and the odd bend I can’t get rid of. I’ll work with the hose some to try to get it to bend how I want it.

Now for its performance.

I used the Prestaflator today to re-set my rear tire as tubeless. I had initially used a gas station compressor to set it up, but I swapped it back to a tube when I got a flat on a ride because I didn’t put enough sealant in the tire.

Aside from the aforementioned hassles I had dealing with the stiff hose, the Prestaflator performed well. The head wasn’t leaky at all before, during, or after inflating the tire. I did have to turn the output pressure on my compressor up to about 100psi in order to seat the bead on the tire, and the Prestaflator had no trouble with that. One thing I did notice was that the gauge on the Prestaflator would shoot up to the pressure coming through the hose when I pulled the trigger. To get an actual pressure reading of the air in the tire, I had to stop inflating. So I had to use an “on/off” technique to inflate the tire without overinflating.

When topping off the air in tires, I think it would be easiest to set the compressor output pressure to the desired inflation pressure and just inflate until it stops. At that point, you could check the pressure gauge on the Prestaflator to ensure an accurate reading. It would probably work ideally to set the compressor output pressure a couple psi above the desired pressure, since the Prestaflator has a release valve you could use to drop the pressure down exactly where you want it.

Overall, I like the tool. I wish the hose didn’t have the odd backwards bend to it and I think that right angle adapter would be good to have for ANY Presta valve. That adapter might even mitigate the hassle from the oddly-bending hose. I still think the quality of the inflator is very good. I don’t think the stiff hose is any reflection of poor quality. I think the hose is that way because that’s how it was stored/packaged (it was zip tied in place bent over backwards when I opened the box).