Sunday, July 25, 2010

Almaden Quicksilver, Review of B.icycle and my new iPhone 4 app...

The Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge is next weekend and I've been stepping up my game a little to "train" for it, even though I will still be destroyed. I did throw on the front derailleur, a 30T chainring and my downtube friction shifter I am calling the "Obama lever" since it will bail me out. I thought about just going back to a triple, but I will never go into the big chainring because there's just not enough flat to have to do that. Anyhow...

Yesterday I rode Almaden Quicksilver Park again on the CX bike. It is miles and miles of open fire road type trails and lots and lots of climbing. I did get lost and had a hard time trying to find my way back - eventually it looped around and I descended back to tierra firma. I wanted to hit Santa Teresa County Park, but ran out of food and my water re-fill was warm water which didn't quench my thirst very well. So I went home.

I encountered a bobcat on the trail. As I approached it, it stood there and stared me down. I raised my hands and "growled" but it didn't even flinch. As I rode away it kinda lurched forward at me, but nothing happened. I heard they attack people, but I wasn't skerred.

Here are a few pics from yesterday:

I saw this poor guy off to the side. This looked more like a hit and run since it was in the middle of the trail and it wasn't eaten.

This is the bobcat I saw. I had to manipulate the photo because nature blessed these local animals with some killer camouflage. You can barely see it in the photo.

View from one of the lookout cliffs.

Memorial for Pat Tillman.

I have a little beef with the B.icycle app I downloaded. It really only works if the 3G network is available (so it gets lost in the mountains real easy) and it doesn't quite calculate total climbing. The climbing equation they use is they take your starting elevation and subtract it from the peak elevation. In other words, if you go down into a valley and climb back out, it doesn't count that. WEAK. I think a Garmin is in my near future.

This iPhone app, however, DOES rule. It's call PriPri MARRON and it totally makes any photo look like it's coming out of a Japanese import store. It even has Engrish labels you can put on your photos. Awesome.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get Dirty


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ned Overend Wins S.S. National Title!

Bike Party - July 2010

Last night, the wife and I rode San Jose Bike Party. Aside from my headset coming loose and having to tighten it using a pair of pliers, everything went smooth. Not as big as the last one, but still fun, and there were actually some hills.

Utility Bike held up great and was comfortable as hell, although I'm thinking I should drop a few teeth on my lowest cog so I can get some flat speed and not spin out.

Here are the pics!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Truly amazing and creative.

Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno Review - After 7 months

I was looking back at some old posts trying to figure out when I built my Fantom Cross Uno, and it looks like I've had it for 7 months now. For some reason, it feels like I've had it longer, but now's a good time to give it a refresher and my current review of the bike.

I'm still extremely stoked on the bike, and after messing around with three different bars (the Ritchey Lo-Rise WCS Carbon bars are on there now), a couple of different tire combos and even riding it fixed, I think I've found the "sweet spot" in it's current form.

Since I didn't have anything else to compare it to aside from my mountain and road bikes, I couldn't give the frame a fair assesment. But now, especially after completely abusing my Pake C'Mute, I think I can give it a fairly good rundown and hopefully give you reasonable insight on how this thing rides.

Compared to my C'Mute, the geometry is very twitchy and fast. When seated on the C'Mute, you feel as if you are "in" the bike, but with the Fantom Cross Uno, you feel like you are "on top" of the bike even with a drop handlebar. The steering is twitchy, and there is even some slight toe overlap, so you Sasquatches need to be aware of that.

The steel frame has a nice feel to it, and it climbs like a champ. I have mine geared 44/22 (I have track cranks on there and 44T is all I could find in a 144bcd bolt pattern), and it does great on the dirt. With a slick'ish Ritchey Speedmax rear and a heavily knobbied and wide Kenda Kwick front, it handles well for smooth off road. This frameset can accept up to 700X42c tires - I have yet to find a worthy CX tire in that size. It will not take a skinny 29'er tire.

I think this frame is more suited for urban duty with some dirt thrown into the mix, or even racing. For trail riding, it is a bit on the skiddish side, and you really feel yourself getting loose - not nearly as stable as my Pake C'Mute on the fast off-road descends. I'm not sure if I would set this up in a Monster Cross SS touring bike even if it has all the mounts for racks and such. I think the tight geometry would not fair well when loaded up with gear.

Unless you need mud clearance, the cantilever brakes aren't necessary if you are going to only take this on the road. This is why I would recommend an SS road frame with horizontal drop-outs with regular road brakes if you are sticking to the road primarily (see my posts regarding my Motobecane Messenger).

The Fantom Cross Uno is fast and does well when built into a bare-bones single-speed trail rocket. It is quick on smooth single track and narrow fireroads, but a little sketchy on pure mountain bike trails. Any kind of loaded touring or long, all day adventures should be left to framesets with a more relaxed geometry, such as the Surly Long-Haul Trucker - don't let the rack mounts on the Fantom Cross Uno fool you into thinking it should be taken across the state.

If fast riding, mashing climbs and loose descends on smooth'ish off-road trails is your thing, The Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno may fit your needs.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing |

Amazing and very helpful. Strange, but I already incorporate these techniques; kinda stumble upon them myself trying to deal with a weakness of mine. This is a great article for all cyclists!

Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random Shots of Animales From this Past Week of Riding

Favorite thing about getting out and about the "sticks" are all the wild animals roaming about. To think that it's all right here in my own backyard - not bad consdiering I hated Almaden when I first moved here. Seriously, how anybody can stick ONLY to the asphalt is alien to me, but to-each-his-own; I hope whoever is reading this gets inspired to do some off-road trekking if they're not already doing so.

I need more time to roam about - maybe after the summer and things cool down. Otherwise, it's way too hot to spend the day about exploring these hills (and climbing them) right now. Com'on Fall season!

There are more deer this year than the previous years, especially the bucks.

Tons of jackrabbits, and also regular ol' rabbits. The coyotes must be well fed.

Those hundreds of white specks are birds. At the lake, I used to think they were plastic grocery bags, until I saw them fly away!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stan's No Tubes Cyclocross Set-Up

On my quest to find the perfect CX tire set-up, I followed my brother's advice and went with the Hutchinson CX tires: Bulldog up front, Piranha in back - both tubeless ready. I also went with the Stan's No Tubes rim strips for 700c wheels.

I am no stranger to the tubeless way of life, and all my off-road bikes (with the exception of my single-cross) are set up tubeless. With the dry, hard thorns that plague Almaden, it's only practical to go this route.

I decided to do some fireroads and headed toward Quicksilver Mines - a nice system of fireroads and dirt paths that climb to the highest peaks of the area. However, about two blocks up from my house, I hit a piece of glass with my front and sealant started spraying all over the place. I did what you're supposed to do with a tubeless set-up and I pointed the puncture toward the bottom to allow the sealant leak down and seal the hole. As I rode toward the trail head, the hole would spring a leak again and spray sealant, where I'd repeat the process of letting the stuff fill the hole.

I think I took the wrong entrance when I arrived at the trail because those paths are steep and more suited for hiking or a MTB granny gear - not my steep'ish CX set-up. I'm sure a lot of riders could clear it on a compact crankset with road gearing, but I am just a mere mortal! There were a few hike-a-bike situations.

The hole held up quite fine, and after poaching a few illegal trails to get back home, I was able to get to a road descend (Hicks Rd.) where it still held up, even hitting 30-40MPH in some places. Some of the clay dirt caked up in the area, which I think helped seal the hole even more. I'm not sure if my tire is toast, so we'll have to see if it holds up. I hope it isn't... I just installed it last night!

Clay + Sealant

My front tire deflated to about 35-40psi, I'm guessing - which is fine for the trails I was on. On the road, it was a bit frumpy on the climbs, but this was a true test and I wasn't about to throw in a tube.

As far as the Hutchinson tires go, they performed quite well and I was very impressed. The slicker Piranha rear combined with the bite of the Bulldog front proved to be the right way to go, although I did burn out on a few of the steeper areas on the dirt. They rolled fast, which was most important. Some Kevlar protection would've been nice in regards to that piece of glass.

When I arrived home, I immediately grabbed my Stan's Sealant Injector and replaced what I had lost on the trail and it held air after sitting for 30 min.

So far, so good; fingers are crossed. Crossed? Awesome... I did it again, folks!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rode with the Wife today...

Threw the spare seat and seatpost on the Big Mo' and let the wife take it out for a cruise. We didn't really go far, but she doesn't ride much and the climbs took a little time. Here's how the ride went:
  • Trip time: 01:58:06
  • Trip distance: 11.0 mi
  • Trip calories: 469 kcal
  • Average speed: 7.4 mph
  • Maximum speed: 16.3 mph
  • Climbed altitude: 1535 ft

She did make it up Ohlone Trail pretty well, but we ended up taking the pavement home since downhills make her nervous. It looks like wide fireroads is the most off-road we'd be riding together. Which is fine, because her Scott Sportster P5 (which fits her like a glove) works really well on those types of roads.

Utility Bike Build

I really don't know how many bikes I've built like this: The closest I can recall would be my Red Schwinn (which was awesome and never should've sold). Anyhow, I wanted to build a bike I can use for utility - running mail, grocery store runs, bagel runs (ooh, that doesn't sound nice), and even SJ Bike Party. I wanted something with gears, big fat comfy tires, gigantic handlebars, a super tall stem, a comfy saddle and wide, flat pedals.

My old, red Schwinn

I've had this old 80's Jamis MTB frame crammed into my garage closet for some time and decided to use it. Gathering a bunch of parts and throwing in a chunk-of-change, this is what I came up with. The spec breakdown is as follows:

  • Vuelta Zerolight Wheels (cheapos!)
  • Schwalbe Big Apple Tires (love these)
  • Subrosa BMX pedals
  • Seat post (weird 26.6 diameter)
  • Sram 9sp Cassette - converted to 7sp
  • Sram 7-sp. shifter
  • Sram Chain
  • N-Gear Jump Stopper (for the 1X7 set-up)
  • Front rack
  • Center stand
  • Schwinn Gel seat (not shown)

The rest of the stuff I had laying around my garage. Old MTB frames are perfect platforms for these types of builds. They are generally cheap, made of steel, rigid, and have a neat, vintage look about them - especially the old Specialized frames with gawdy graphics and paint.

I fashioned a plastic file basket with thumb screws and mending plates from the hardware store so I could have a big, quick release basket for food or mail runs; the basket can either be mounted on the front or rear racks and can be removed via four bolts.

The pump stays in place, and I threw on a water bottle cage for good measure.

My favorite part about this bike are the Schwalbe Big Apples (26 X 2.35). Even for the up-and-down on my street, I can definitely feel what everybody else was raving about in their reviews. They are meant to be inflated to 22-40 (max) PSI, and like the balloon bikes of old, they are intended to act as "suspension" with high volume, low pressures. Surprisingly, they retain an incredible amount of rolling speed, even at 30 psi. Great design and modern technology rolled into one. Rolled? Boy, do I crack myself up sometimes. They even have a reflective stripe on the sidewalls.

The 1X7 set-up was built using a SRAM cassette. I removed 2 cogs and replaced them with a spacer I had in my bag of small parts. The largest cog I have is a 34T, and up front is a 38T. This is plenty granny, even if things get steep. I considered using a 33T up front, but I think that would've taken away from the flat-out speed desired for the type of riding I'd be doing on this bike. I doubt this bike will see any "real" climbing - but if there is a hill, I have the gearing to do it.

There's something about these types of bikes that just make me smile, and when I ride it I can't help but feel happy. They're comfy, you're sitting straight up, and I'm not a nervous-nelly leaving it parked. There is an element about it that it might be stolen, but far less than the other machines hanging in my garage.

I think having a bike like this in the stable is a smart choice for the bike nerd. I really don't feel like sitting in an aggressive posture to get bagels or doughnuts on a given morning. I want to sit-up and smile while pedalling in flip-flops.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

'Cross ride Report

"I am going to map out cx epic 2 thru Henry Cowell with a intro to Scenic Drive up to UC for Sat" the e-mail I get on 6/29 from my Brother. Of course, I'm all up for going, so when Saturday rolls around, I'm up at the crack of dawn to drive the hill, southbound. That morning was a little fuzzy for me, given that the wife and I have been staying up to the wee hours of the night watching Dexter. Yes, two-wheel fanatics - I am addicted to that show. Anyhow, the route was to go from his house, up to the twin gates via Wilder Ranch, somehow cross over and end up in Felton to the observation deck at Henry Cowell State Park.

I don't know WTF, but I was wiped out yesterday. I don't know if I gassed myself out on the first climb or if the lack of sleep got the best of me, but I was completely bonked - so bad that I even had to walk part of one hill, which I haven't done for a long time. It's okay, though... I pushed through it and did okay.

The one thing I learned yesterday was to put mind over matter and push through. The mind can be a powerful pain killer.

We rode 25mi. and climbed 2,500 feet of pavement and dirt trails. We even had to hike a good mile of sand - which kinda sucked after climbing the very steep "Pipeline" pathway.

We got this trip information from a cool $9.99 iPhone app called B.iCycle which is GPS tracking for your iPhone. Having messed around with these types of things before, I was very skeptical - but after yesterday's experiment, I was extremely impressed. I did buy it for myself and will be tracking my rides. If you get it, be sure you have a fully charged battery!

One final note before I get to the pics - the WTB Pathway tires (set-up ghetto tubeless) were an epic FAIL yesterday. They are fine for out here in SJ, but for the loose and soft of Santa Cruz they did horrible. I let air out to give me more traction, which just lead to more rolling resistance. I think for a pathway/commute bike, they are beautiful, but for anything serious, they were sketch. I felt the front drift at least a dozen times.

Here are some screen shots of the new app and some pics from yesterday.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Extremely epic.

Alien life form found in tubeless set-up

I've been contemplating running a ghetto tubeless set-up on my Pake' for some time and decided to go ahead and try it. I purchased a set of WTB Pathway clinchers (wire bead) and used 26" Stans rim strips. It's been holding up fine, with the exception of a small burp I got yesterday while descending the very rocky Stiles trail at Santa Teresa County Park.

Anyhow, before my ride yesterday, I heard something buzzing in my front tire while spinning. It was like, "zzzzzzz-zzzzzzz-zzzzzzzzzz-zzzzzzzzzz..." and I was thinking WTF? I stopped to see if my brake pad got twisted and was rubbing the tire, but that wasn't the case - so I just continued my ride and had some fun.

This morning I spun the wheel again, and still the same rubbing sound, which appeared to be coming from the inside. Cracking open the bead, I found this alien living in my tire.

I guess my attempt to use "Slime" brand tire sealant was an epic fail. That stuff sucks. Luckily, I had Stans in there to do the job right. I decided to take a picture of the alien next to a 110mm stem so you can see the size of it. Weird!