In which you get an update, but no pictures. Yet.

There’s a big reason I’ve been busy and not posting a lot lately. It’s not a good reason…or it is a good reason, but it’s no excuse. Something like that. I mentioned when I owed you an update that I got a new job. I also mentioned that I’d finalized a few things on that new mountain bike trail. That’s really dodging the issue a bit. The truth is, I got a job with the city parks and recreation department that new trail is in. My job is…building trails. So, I have paid time to spend building trails with an mini excavator owned by the city, that I don’t have to pay for, or buy fuel for. Really, all I have to do is show up and build trail. And train volunteers who want to help. So most Saturdays, we have volunteer crews out there. This is in addition to the work days we still run on our existing local trails on the first and third Sundays. That’s sort of a wreck too.

Recently, an property owner adjoining the park where our existing trails are had their property logged. We discovered that some of the trail originally built in the park….isn’t. So the section of trail that the loggers did their thing over top of is destroyed, and we’re building a re-routed section that stays inside the park. If I’m honest, the most impressive thing so far about this situation has been the lack of finger pointing by the groups in the park about who was at fault for the trail being on private property. So far, everyone is just sucking it up and helping build the re-route. Which is nice.

And don’t think that my being too busy to post has in any way hampered my riding. It hasn’t. I’ve had some great rides lately, both because they really were great rides, or because they maybe were marred by some mechanical difficulties, but the company and just the fact that we were out riding made them great. And really, isn’t that the important thing? On one ride a couple of weeks ago, my Single Speed started making an alarming creaking sound rather suddenly. It was so bad I was afraid I’d broken the frame. I got home, put the bike in the stand, and took the bottom bracket appart, cleaned everything up, threads, bearings, frame, all of it. I check the frame very closely for cracks, but didn’t find any. I put the bottom bracket back in, and torqued everything down right, and gave it a try. Behold, it worked beautifully, and was silent. While I would like to upgrade the Single Speed to a nice Ti frame (Lynskey?) I must say I was relieved to not HAVE to do so.

The last two times I’ve ridden the Anthem, I’ve been plagued by pinch flats. This is more confounding than normal because I checked the tire pressures, I’m running exactly what I’ve always run, I weigh the same, and yet two rides in a row, I’ve found snake bite holes in my tube after a rather jarring impact on the back wheel. Which either means I’m riding worse than I was, or I’m going faster than I was and it’s thrown my timing off, or just causing me to hit harder and pinching. Either way, it’s frustrating. As such, I’ve decided to consider this new fangled tubeless technology. Although, you could argue, I’ve gone about it backwards.

I converted the rear wheel of the Single Speed to tubeless. Yes, just the rear wheel of the Single Speed. Here’s why, lest you think my crazy(er). The tires on the SS (WTB Exiwolf front and Nano rear) have both been victims of sharp rocks – cut right through. But running with tubes, that’s not a huge problem, because the cuts are in the tread. It also happens, that the Pacenti rims on the SS are designed to be tubeless compatible. I have a set of Racing Ralphs that I took off my Anthem – I can’t say I was horrible impressed with them, especially on the front. I was going to grab one of those and throw it on the back of the SS, since I decided I would “use both of them up” on the back of the SS since I don’t think they’ll cause me traction issues there. The surprise came when I let the air out of the Nano and went to break the bead to remove the tire. It was HARD to get it to release. So, just for giggles, I took the tube out, put the tubeless valve stem (the only one my LBS had…another reason I only did the rear) in the rim, and put the tire back on. A quick shot with the air compressor and the beads seated just like they should, and it blew a bunch of air out of the hole in the tread, like I knew it would. But it looked good around the bead. So I took the tire off, put a good old fashion patch on the inside of the hole in the tread, put the tire back on, seated the bead (cheating alert) then let the air out, took the valve core out, and dumped in my Stans juice. Put all that back together and inflated it, and sealed everything up and….presto. Tubeless. Like it had a brain. So how is it?

It’s great. I dropped the pressure from 32 psi to 30 psi. I took it for it’s single track shake down this morning. The grip was outrageous. 2 psi made a lot of difference. The feel was also much better, the ride as a whole was less harsh. I rode the bike pretty hard, hit some off camber roots, jumped it, carved some hard turns, and basically tried to make it burp, but it held like a champ. So now I need to do the front. And I need to figure out how to deal with the S-XC2 rims on my Anthem – a full Stans rim strip kit, or just some stans tape? Ah well, I’ll figure it out.

I’ll hit y’all again soon with pictures. I’ve got trail pictures, flower pictures, pictures I probably don’t remember taking, and probably pictures of me playing with fire.

I’m not dead. Yet.

I know it’s been a while since I posted. Sorry. I’ve been a busy man. I’ve spent three days out of the last two…or has it been three?..weeks in meetings with a local city government about a new trail system at a park. I dedicated bike trail system. I’ve also been on the property a couple of times, and made some very interesting discoveries. Including that I’m going to be building a LOT of elevated trail over a creek on the property. Each crossing – and I’m aiming for two – will need 40 to 60 yards of deck elevated to an unknown height as of yet, but I’m guessing at least 2 feet. I’ll know for sure when the water goes back down. I’m very excited about this project though, because I really do feel like mountain bikers finally are getting cut loose in this area to build a real playground.

Speaking of playing, I have gotten some playing in. Our Saturday Social last week was fun, we had a good turnout and picked up a few new folks. One of the new folks we picked up was a seasoned rider who had never been in the park before. Four of us ended up doing over 7 miles giving him the guided tour. Here’s the group about halfway through the first loop. Y’all will get used to seeing this barn. It’s a real landmark on our trails.

April 6th Social ride. There are three participants not including myself who are not in frame.

April 6th Social ride. There are three participants not including myself who are not in frame.

Late in the ride I had a bit of a spill. Honestly, after a couple of days, it didn’t feel that bad. The only real problem with it, is that I still can’t explain how it happened. You know those old cartoons, where someone pulls the rug out from under someone, and they go completely horizontal, and come crashing to the ground? Well, that’s what happened. I was riding into a switchback, and *boom*, I was laying on the ground. No idea. But that brings me to a tip. You’re thinking, hey, weren’t you carrying  a camera? Yep, I sure was.

The camera I carry on my rides isn’t something I’d get all broken up about if it got destroyed in a fall. Still, who wants to break a camera? I carry my old Canon Digital Rebel XT. I have a gizmo called a Capture Clip (Peak Designs) on the strap of my Camel Back. I can get all crazy and bunny hop stuff and jump things with the camera on this thing and it doesn’t smack me in the face or anything else. It’s pretty sweet. Even sweeter is the fact that in this crash, it not only held the camera, but again, the camera didn’t hit me in the face or anything, and when I stood back up, the camera worked. In fact, I carried with me the next day at Rotary. When we, you guessed it, did trail work.

We’ve had a trouble spot for some time where the trail is on flat ground because it has to be. It’s the lowest spot on this bit of flat ground right before you get to the creek. So when it rains, a bunch of run off from where a pump station was put in flows off the hill and onto the trail, and sits there. That’s a problem. Here’s a picture I took (with my camera that survived my strange spill) of the solution, and the four guys that worked with me to help finish out this somewhat drawn out project.

These guys worked super hard with me April 7th to get this turnpike finished. We did in one day what would have taken two days on either of my other work days out here. Bravo chaps. Bravo.

These guys worked super hard with me April 7th to get this turnpike finished. We did in one day what would have taken two days on either of my other work days out here. Bravo chaps. Bravo.

You can see an old section of turnpike disappearing out of the frame at the back, and the new section extends to where I’m standing to take the picture. It’s a lot of work, but it should allow water to pass through in a few places, and run further down to a low spot with a lot of drainage into the creek, keeping the trail from being wet and muddy after rains. We’ll find out today I guess.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to, in short. I’ve got a full day ahead, that includes another Saturday social. But first, I have to go haul a couple of tons of gravel for a friend….

The week in review.

Normally, I would try to do more of a post per ride or issue, or whatever. But the way things have been going I’m fortunate to be able to have time for this update. Ok, that may be a bit of a dramatization, but seriously. Here we go.

It rained early in the week, and then it got nice. It stayed warm and sunny with a light breeze until late Thursday evening. When it rained again. Fortunately, it didn’t rain much. The trails would have been ok on Friday, but I avoided them just to be safe, and went to the rail trail. Friday was a special occasion for a ride. My son just got a new bike, his first 26″ MTB. It isn’t a huge step up from the 24″ youth bike he was riding, but then again, it is. It’s a bit lighter, it’s made with slightly more durable components, and it has disc brakes. The bike he got is a Giant Revel 1. It’s a great ride, and the guys at the LBS did a great job setting it up for him. I should post a picture of the floor tag that was on the bike just to prove how great the guys at the LBS are, but maybe I’ll do that later.

Anyhow, my son and I did 8 miles on the paved section of the trail. It’s a pretty trail, it runs along the flood plain of the Cumberland River, through a little community called Chapmansboro. It crosses a creek, where there’s a good sized old railroad bridge. It’s a flat trail, with pretty views, and an easy ride for anyone to get acquainted with a new bike. It would be enough to say that both of my children have learned to ride bikes on this trail because my yard is too steep for small children.

Saturday morning, I started out my day with a treat. The first Formula 1 qualifying session of the new season. That was cut short, and I won’t go on about why. It didn’t matter, I had work to do anyway. I set off for Bells Bend Park to meet up with the guys from SORBA MidTN. There’s some new single track going in out there. It’s a gateway trail, something designed for beginners to cut their teeth on. It will only amount to 4 or 5 miles when it’s all done, but it’s slow going because the first section of trail is going into re-growth woods. By nature, it’s very thick, and while that makes the trail building slow work, it makes the trail special. It’s like a tunnel through an impenetrable wilderness. When this trail is done, it may be designed for beginners, but it will be an enchanting, relaxing ride for anyone when pushing the limits isn’t in the cards. I stayed there til mid day, then bolted north for some trail time, on a bike.

The our group met up for the Saturday Social, and unsurprisingly, most of the crowd was different than last week, but they were mostly still regulars. I pulled one of my standard charge-ahead-and-take-pictures maneuvers at one point and caught some of the folks riding over an up-and-over that can be rolled, jumped like a table top, or pretty much anything in between. So without further delay….

Here comes a regular. This angry, chain smoking German bloke isn't really all that bad a guy. In fact, I rather like him. He's converted that Canondale to 650b as well. He's got nothing but good to say about it. He's also a good hand to have around when you're building trail. He helped build that structure he's riding on......

Here comes a regular. This angry, chain smoking German bloke isn’t really all that bad a guy. In fact, I rather like him. He’s converted that Canondale to 650b as well. He’s got nothing but good to say about it. He’s also a good hand to have around when you’re building trail. He helped build that structure he’s riding on….

I have to confess, this is the first time I'm aware of this rider had been out with us. I was pleased as punch to see someone else on a rigid single speed.

I have to confess, this is the first time I’m aware of this rider had been out with us. I was pleased as punch to see someone else on a rigid single speed.

You might recognize Richard from last week's pictures. He's back again. For what it's worth, this is Richard of esbk.co infamy, and he's the bike mechanic who laced up the angry German bloke's wheels.

You might recognize Richard from last week’s pictures. He’s back again. For what it’s worth, this is Richard of esbk.co infamy, and he’s the bike mechanic who laced up the angry German bloke’s wheels.

Here's another of our regulars. We see him quite a lot.

Here’s another of our regulars. We see him quite a lot.

Finally, I’ve got a rare treat. I’m usually behind the camera, not in front of it, but I did let Richard play with the camera for a minute, so there’s a picture of me, featuring my trusty single speed.

IMG_3860-SS-crop

We did a little over 6 miles, with around 870 feet of climbing. It’s a little more than we do on some of our socials, but it’s not that long a ride in the grand scheme of things. I will say that for this time of the year, coming out of all the rain we’ve had recently that’s prevented a lot of riding, it felt really good. I’m looking forward to the groups picking up as the weather evens out and people get back into the swing of these Saturday afternoon rides.

Dodging bullets.

Fortunately, this isn’t a post about going riding during hunting season and being shot at. It’s pretty serious though. All last week, my family was taking turns being sick with the flu. My wife was even supposed to go to a conference this past weekend and didn’t because she was sick, in spite of my staying home with the first sick child to try to keep her away from the illness. She ended up getting sick and not going. All the while, I stayed healthy. Which meant that rather than sitting around the house this weekend, or entertaining the kids, everyone else stayed home and recovered from being sick, while I went riding with friends. It’s worth mentioning that many of them were recovering from a winter spent away from their bikes, either by choice or due to weather. What’s a lot of hooigans who would ride with me look like?

Saturday Social ride participants from March 9, 2013.

Saturday Social ride participants from March 9, 2013.

So this lot was riding with me Saturday. We  did more talking than usual, much of it between gasps for air as we took breaks. The range of riders, skill levels, and gear varies wildly on these rides, so sometimes it’s interesting to check out what’s going on. For the record, from left to right, that’s guy who could be retired on a Trance 29er, a much younger guy on an old Trek with no suspension, one of our military boys on a Trance 26er, and a 1998 ProFlex. Behind the ProFlex is one more rider, on a Trance. I personally was on my Anthem this day because..umm…there was a reason I rode that bike that day, but I don’t remember what it was. If you think you detect a pattern, you could be right. Two of the riders on this ride work in a bike shop that sells Giant bikes.

We went out and did our usual “beginners loop” because this ride, in addition to being a social ride, is also a family ride, and a beginners ride. It starts out with two loops around a relatively easy trail, where riders can get pointers and gain experience on single track. After that, usually the beginners or less ambitious riders will drop back out to the parking lot, and others will continue on for a loop or two of slightly more advanced riding. After that, usually more people drop out (these people tend to hang out in the parking lot chatting with each other and inviting other people to join the ride next time) and the remaining people will tackle the two more advanced loops in the park. On this particular day, that meant everyone but me went back to the parking lot, and I made a big loop and finished by stringing together a series of downhills I affectionately refer to as the Roller Coaster. But before that happened, I took off and got way up in front of everyone else, so I could snap a few pictures of the guys coming down the back side of the loop.

The ProFlex is a work of art, but Richard still rides it plenty hard.

The ProFlex is a work of art, but Richard still rides it plenty hard.

Anthony likes down hill stuff, it's where he got started. This is all pretty easy for him, he's relaxed.

Anthony likes down hill stuff, it’s where he got started. This is all pretty easy for him, he’s relaxed.

Irish thought he was pretty retro on his rigid Trek. Next time I ride with him, I'm going to take my (rigid) single speed and show him what simplicity is all about.

Irish thought he was pretty retro on his rigid Trek. Next time I ride with him, I’m going to take my (rigid) single speed and show him what simplicity is all about.

 

It was a fun ride, and I always enjoy the crowd that shows up for it, although it was a relatively small turnout this time, and I’m looking forward to everyone getting back into the swing of this ride as the weather gets better. Unfortunately, the 4 miles and change I rode Saturday didn’t quite get it done for me, and I was itching for more. Fortunately, the rain that was forecast for Sunday held off until after 5pm, so I was able to take the SS back to Rotary park (the location of the Saturday Social, also the only place in Clarksville, TN to mountain bike – for now) and put in a 7.5 mile tour of all the trails in the park. Now, that ride I felt. In fact, I could still feel it this morning (Tuesday) when I woke up. Although the ride felt good, being able to feel it for two days is a sure sign that I’ve got a little work to do before I’m back in shape for good riding weather.