Thursday, January 31, 2013

BItchin' Custom BMX Bike

Check out this sweet Haro Racelite XL ridden by Haro Team racer Nic Long:

Rainbow bright

  This bike was custom built, with a 21-3/4" top tube and a 17-3/8" chain stay. It was also custom painted with this eye catching confetti look. One thing that interests me is the cranks. Haro is making a BMX specific (read: not a repurposed MTB crank) oversized crankset. This thing has external bearings, allowing for a 24mm spindle. Check it:

Stiffer than a wedding dick

   Haro's Cliq line also includes forks and bars. Nic took this bike to victory at the 2010 ABA Grands a few years ago, and then went on to race for the USA in the 2012 Olympics. Here he is in the front at the Grands:

No gloves, like a brave sir

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cleaning Your Drive Train

   With winter going on and on like a Geoff, it's time for some kind of post on keeping your bike clean. This time we're going to cover the drivetrain, because mine sounds like a cement mixer.
  •  Prep - First off, it's best to do this when your bike is going to sit for a while. You will want to clean it, and then let it sit and dry before putting on the lubrication. This is fine because cleaning will take longer than lubing up. ALWAYS LUBE UP. Here's the stuff I'm going to be using:

Choice of champions 

   It's much easier to work on a bike on a stand, so throw your steed on a stand. It's important to clean off the gunk before greasing, otherwise you're just going to have greasy dirt on your bike. 
  • Clean the chainrings - Start with the chainrings. First thing I do is spray them down with some degreaser. People say not to use WD-40 on  bike, and that's true... as a lubricant. It is great for cleaning, and if you lube after, safe to use cleaning.
Wiping off the crusty stuff

   There is no need to lube the chainrings, they will get lubed fine from the chain. Speaking of the chain, lets clean that puppy off! 
  • Clean the chain - The goal here is to get the chain free of grime. Here I am using a Park Tool chain cleaner:

Fancy schmancy

   "But Adam I have no such tool." No sweat, a rag will do just fine. Spray some cleaner on the chain, and then spin the cranks and wipe the chain until no more gunk is left on the rag. 
  • Clean the cassette - Next the cassette. I have a set of brushes that work pretty well for getting gunk out.

Cassette brush

If you don't have anything like this, strips of a rag work really well too. Just spin the wheel:

Flossing the cassette
  • Lubing the derailleur - After cleaning is complete and the cleaning solution has dried, it's time to lubricate. The general purpose lube here works great for the derrailer's moving parts and wheels. 
Lubing the derailleur

  • Lubing the chain - For the chain, there are a bunch of different products depending on what you like. I'm using some Finish Line dry weather lube. It's important to get it on the moving parts of the chain, between the inner and outer plate.

Lubing the chain 

   It's equally important to wipe the excess off when complete. The lubricant on the chain that isn't between moving parts is just a magnet for dirt and will gunk up your drive train fast.

Wipe off after lubing

   As long as you have your bike on the stand, it's not a bad idea to wipe down the frame, and get it clean of any road grime or dirt. This whole process shouldn't take more than about 10 minutes, and once you have it down, can be kind of rewarding. Your silky smooth drive train will thank you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sewing, Bro Style

   Last fall I bought a set of cold weather bibs and a jacket for riding to the work on the chilly winter days. Unfortunately, the zipper on the heels of the tights kept splitting open. Enter my awesome zipper sewing skills! 
   Like any domestic project, this one was better with some beer. While walking the dog, I stopped in the LQ and found that Shift Pale Lager is now available in a 12 pack:


   Onto the sewing - I picked up some 7" zippers from Joanne's and some needles and black thread.  Here's some zipper vocabulary for you:

Learn it... love it.

   When sewing something like this that needs to be strong and looks aren't much of an issue, I use this threading method. This results in 4 pieces of thread in each stitch, very strong. 

Doubled over threading

   Here's the busted seam and new zipper:

The goods

   I decided not to remove the old zipper. I yanked the old slider off and just sewed the new zipper tape right over the tape. This way there was less chance of the new threads tearing out the lycra of the tights. Here is one side half done:

Here is the complete zipper closed. You can barely see the old zipper on the edges of the new one. Maybe I'll start a trend of multiple zippers.

   ...and here is it open:

Smooth like butter

   I used them this morning and they worked great! The sewing pattern I used was admittedly sloppy and I decided to go over it twice to make sure it was well reinforced. Oh, and Shift tastes just as good out of a 12oz can as a 16oz can. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shelving the Masses

   Up until recently our basement was overrun by boxes. I was a zombie box-pocalypse It was time to de-box and put in some shelves. Here's the space before:

Many boxes not shown

  We saddled up and headed down to see Mr. Steven Berlin got some smexy shelving at the local IKEA, as well as some Swedish meatballs.

Billy Bookshelf

And here are some progress pics! The shelves went in pretty great, floor to ceiling and wall to wall. 

(Tetris theme)

(Tetris theme cont.)

I had to cut the bottom out a bit to make way for the molding on the bottom. That took the longest since I had to cut all 8 pieces. 

Diagram 1.2.04b

Even Max was getting in on the action:

"You cut, I'll hold"

And that's about it! The are getting stocked with stuff. They fit really well with the length and height of the wall. I did anchor them to the wall with a simple dry wall anchor, mostly to keep them from shifting.

So much room for activities!

   Best thing about this was it really cleaned up the area! Now to fill them with items of interest!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Bike to Work Day?

    In a city like Boulder, you'd expect Winter Bike to Work Day to be a grand affair! This year it was a balmy 40 degrees and only slightly overcast. I was really hoping for this:

"To work!"

   Of course this is what commuters deserve, however optimistic:

Go commuters!

But in reality it was more like this:

The lonely road...

   But wait! Here are two of my fellow commuters, enjoying the warm weather on this fine January day. Ride on, brave strangers!

   Hopefully BTWD will have a better turnout come May!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Connecting the Canyons!

  In honor of MLK day and having the work off, I took my mountain bike out for the first ride of the season. And what a ride it was! A while back I met a guy in this bar and he told me you could connect Lee Hill Road to Sunshine Canyon. Right out of a 80's treasure movie, he gave me a poorly drawn and inadequately labeled map. Luckily, working with maps and imagery all day has given me better than average tools for finding routes. It's true, you can connect many of the canyon roads west of Boulder. This ride went like this:

Lee Hill - Sunshine - 4 Mile - Canyon - Flagstaff

   And it was epic! Here's a map of the trail:

Ridden counter-clockwise

   And the elevation profile, labeled with the peaks and canyons. The ride at the beginning and the end was 8 miles of to and from Gunbarrel. (click to enlarge)

   The first big climb ends by the Star House, this kind of spiritual meeting place between Sunshine and Lindon. The top is really beautiful!

The view from the Star House

   No error there, my phone freaked out and stopped working, didn't record the sweet panorama I took and cut my GPS of the rode in two. Oh well, you'll have to take my word for it that it was awesome. Plus, another reason to do this ride again. Next was a little road riding and then I got on Betasso from the North. You'll notice my camera was set to "Blue Picture Mode"

Early season Betaasso

   The winter biking window was in full effect here. Had it been a little warmer, this would have been a sloppy mess. Fortunately for me, it was cold enough that it was pretty firm. After Betasso, it was onto the newest addition to the Boulder trail system, Chapman Drive. 

View riding up Chapman Road

  This was an awesome ride, and other than Betasso, it was all doable on a cross bike. The mountain bike season has started, people. Quick, get on your bike and start pedaling as fast as you can!

A picture I accidentally took fumbling my phone

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance Versus Oprah

  Last week Lance Armstrong was called out by Oprah Winfrey to a battle royale. The no holds barred match took place in his now partially destroyed home in Austin, TX. Oprah did a good job of holding her own against the former champion.

"Well, I hate you more!"

Oprah opened strong with the "Yes" or "No?" choke hold often employed by her gender. It's highly effective and had Lance backpedaling early in this clash of titans.

Oprah with a vintage move holds Lance helpless 

   Lance countered with "After winning against cancer, it was hard to stop winning." Oprah seemed stunned by the break in her patented 'feelings' grip.
   Suddenly, Tyler Hamilton is brought into the ring. Lance brazenly claims, "I NEVER READ YOUR BOOK!" Tyler is shocked, but confusingly claims "I no longer hate you." Oprah realized her tag team partner's weakness and calls in surprise contender Betsy Andreu. "Who's the fat, lying bitch now, asshole?!" Betsy bellows. "I never called you fat, you lying bitch!" Lance shouts as she drives his face into the mat.
"Hell have no fury..."

   It looks like it's lights out for the 7 time champion. In a last ditch effort Lance tries humor - "I was one nut down; I needed a little extra testosterone!" Little does he know, Oprah has no sense of humor. After some shuffling around they find themselves in leg holds.

The sexual tension is palpable

   In the end, it seemed like the victor was obvious...

"OWN still sucks ball."

   Maybe in a few years, if the sport is clean, we can say this was a fire that had to happen and the fresh growth is better for it. I'm more inclined to think that this will be remembered as be a terrible thing that helped no one and best be forgotten. Perhaps it can provide fodder for 2nd rate comedians and bloggers. You want to know who I think won?

No one.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cross Racing

   Despite me previous thoughts on 'the noble sport' I entered my first cyclocross race the other day. I have to say, this was a lot of fun! I have never raced cross before, but it was pretty much what I expected: a bit of a free-for-all at the beginning, a lot of grunting and a crash in the middle and then a sufferfest at the end. This race was at the Valmont Bike Park, and they did a great job of laying out a fun and challenging course. Here is a little map of what we did:

Race course by spaghetti

   The race was pretty relaxed, no timing chips and acasual atmosphere. Here our hero battles for a 12th place finish for the day:

Rocking the new Vork kit

AND even more exciting, here's a video of the stair section:

Greenbird's first video! 

   I really liked the format of multiple laps rather than one long loop like mtn biking. I was telling my cycling friends that this is probably the best mixture of all kinds of racing. For everyone who rides a cyclocross as a commuter but has never raced, I recommend jumping in sometime. Get your shoes muddy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Internal 3 Speed Fixed?

   Just when bike technology seemed to be going in the wrong direction... no gears... no brakes... no beer - Sturmey has come out with a really interesting piece of fixed gear technology. This is a 3 speed internal shifting hub... for a fixed gear. That's right - A FIXED GEAR 3 SPEED:

The business

   Here are the specs on this bad boy:
  • Comes with a 130mm or 120mm spaced axle, so it can go on a track bike or a standard road bike converted to a single speed
  • Threaded driver can run a either a fixed cog or a single speed freewheel
  • Spacers on driver allow for easy modification of chain alignment
  • Available in all kinds of colors: black, silver, red, gold, purple, and turquoise
    What I think is awesome is that it's not some proprietary cog system BS. An example of that is the White Industries cog. What this also means is that you can thread and cog and lock ring on, and any standard BMX freewheel:

"Put me in, Coach."

   By putting on a BMX freewheel you could easily run it as a single speed rather than a fixed gear. Here's a shot of the driver on the hub:

Lots of room for spacers

   And here's an action shot:

   The shifter has to be a push / pull style shifter, sometimes called a friction shifter. These hubs don't have a retracting spring like a derailleur, so you have to have a shifter that both pushes and pulls the cable. Here's a classic friction shifter:

Friction shifter

   This shifter is nice and cheap and another piece that doesn't have the be purchased from Sturmey for an exorbitant fee. Here is one more shot of the hub exploded exploded view. Final thoughts? I would LOVE to ride one of these, so one of my faithful readers is going to have to buy one and send me a report.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Trail Review: Chapman Road

   If you frequent the Daily Camera site (pro tip: don't.) you may have come across this article. This is pretty exciting! A trail that connects Canyon and Flagstaff Road. This road has been here for a while, but closed to foot and cycle traffic. With some recent weather and fire conditions, they have apparently deemed it open to the public. Here's a map:

All the climbing with half the pavement

   Even in the fairest of condition, this trail is not easy. With about 1000 feet of elevation gain in 2 miles, this is not a trail for the faint of heart. The payoff is that you get a rare seen view of Boulder Canyon west. At the bottom there's a great trailhead and parking lot:

Parking for all... the sissy's that drive.

   The trail heads out from there on a pretty nice road:

Lull me into a nice sense of security...

   ...but quickly turns into nonsense. When dry, the road is not as smooth as Poorman, more like riding the Community Ditch. This time around there was about 4" of snow:

Ah, Adventure.

   The trail is awesome, and when dry, seems like a great way to connect the creek path to Walker Ranch. Advantage is that you are on more trail than paved road. Disadvantage is that If you just want a short ride you have to come down Flagstaff, as Chapman is uphill traffic only. My take? It's a great cross ride. 

The upper trailhead

   And thus ends another report for a new trail. Exciting that a few months ago we became able to connect 4 Mile with Betasso via the 4 Mile Link. Keep 'em coming, Boulder!