Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween post - Sick days and new project (as if I needed another)

Halloween is here and it has been a tradition of mine to have the flu on this day. I've had this thing for a few days, and along with the extreme stress of my job, constant running around to see my clients, training rides and getting behind on UGLY! Pads - this was the only outcome possible. I'm about 90%, but I still have this lingering cough and it just - sucks - ASS. Oh, well.

Surf City CX Race #1 is today, and although I wasn't going to race it, I wanted to go down to watch my brother. However, a client called and said he has a $XXX,XXX IRA rollover check waiting for me and he couldn't see me any other day but today; so I had to prioritize.

I've been posting my Eastern Traildigger 26" BMX Cruiser on Craigslist lately. I've been getting a lot of tire kickers from obviously younger (or people who prefer txt sp33lng) offering me $150.

no thnx, d00d.

So I put it up for trade (I was looking for a vintage mountain bike) and got this response:

I have a aluminum Gary Fisher Tomac special....
I was going to sell it for 500 bucks.. It has new everything, rides, shifts, brakes perfect. rIMS ARE nos, OLDER, BUT JUST PUT ON A BIKE RECENTLY. WHEELS ARE TRUE. Matching Bontragers... FRONT shock is very new too. ROCK SHOX..
No problems..Period. It is a 16 speed, as I eliminated big fron sprocket for ground clearance.New front tire. New brakes, cables, rear shift derailer, inner tubes, etc..... WANNA TRADE???

Right away, I was intrigued, but I also knew that there was no way I could leave this pretty gem in the modified condition it was presented in. $300 is what it would take to turn this into a viable mountain/urban machine again.

I met the trade-man and we did an even swap. The fortunate part about the swap was that the bike shifted excellent. And, as he said, it was solid. Unfortunately, as I started to take it apart, I found some issues.

First, the Rock Shox fork steerer tube was way too short, and therefore you couldn't adjust the stem rise. I was disappointed at that, but most importantly, the headset was not appropriate. These Fishers used the "Evolution" headsets, which were threaded, oversized types introduced back in the late 80's. When you take a frame like this and try and "Frankenstein" 1 1/8" headsets with Evolution style headsets, it doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried. What you get is an extremely tight headset and crushed ball bearing cages.

The solution is to buy 37mm to 34mm reducer collars, press those into the headtube and viola! You have a modern 1 1/8" threadless compatible frame.

The Rock Shox fork is being replaced by a Surly 1X1, since I want to ride this as a rigid.

Along with the fork and reducer collars, I purchased a gawdy orange Race Face Atlas handlebar, Schwalbe Big Apple tires, a new seat, and some colorful odds and ends to bring it back to a 90's color scheme, circa Club MTV era. And yes, I have hot pink Oury grips being shipped that will look saucy on that orange handlebar. My water bottle will stay on the frame via a pink anodized waterbottle cage.

Of course, the stickers ALL had to come off. You are looking at a very worn, 20 year old paint job with the "zig zag" detail. What was once a beautiful day glow green, is now an avocado color. But, the patina of an old, faded paint job is great - so I proceeded to remove the stickers. Some of the stickers have been on there for so long, the images blocked the fading, and what you have is a "ghost" image of the sticker. I wish the paint was still in good condition, but part of me likes that aged look.

It would've been nice to have the original thumb shifters, brake levers, cantilever brakes and rigid fork, but the way I'm going to build this is going to make it into a very nice urban trekker. My goal is to ride the Strawberry Fields Forever ride on this thing.

Lastly, The frame may be a big too big for me (feels like a 19") with no sloping top-tube. It's about the same dimensions as my On-One Inbred 29'er, therefore the seat post won't be raised much. The bike elitist in me cringes at that, but the pragmatic part of me says "who cares?"

Here it is in the current state. Parts should be in next week and this should be done by next weekend, just in time of me getting over this flu bug.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One from today's ride.

Got out with no "training" intent. Wish I was this fast and strong last Sunday!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Not much to report today as I raced a horrible race. Sorry, no photos, either. It was muddy and mucky which should've been fun, but mentally my head was completely not there. I basically "rode" the course and didn't "race" it.

I'm a little burned out on a lot of things, have a lot on my mind and I'm constantly running out of time to get things done and I've been working 7 days a week, let alone UGLY! Pads.

I can make up a thousand excuses, but all-in-all I checked out mentally about 1 1/2 laps in. Got lapped on my 3rd by the leader.

Hopefully I will be able to refocus for November. Nothing epic for today - just complete and utter FAIL. :(

At least my brother got a podium, which is awesome. I didn't even stay to watch since I was so embarrassed and disappointed with myself. I wanted nothing more but to go home after my horrible performance.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Road ride and cocky MTB'er

Did a very easy road ride today on my Surly Pacer. After dropping a helmetless MTB'er on Bernal, I stopped at the upper parking lot where I saw him, still helmet-less, drop onto the trail. When he did, his helmet came undone off his backpack and I told him it dropped.

Being a fellow MTB'er, I politely told him, "Be careful of the rangers out here, they give helmet tickets which end up being a couple hundred bucks..."

He then snidely replied, "Heh... I ain't worried about that..."

Trying to be of help and I get attitude. Hope he does get a ticket just for being a jerk.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyhow... here's the pic for today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Monster Cross busts out with a granny...

I decided to make my On-One Inbred into a 2X8... I feel the granny would help with some extreme situations. Here's a little suh'en-suh'en from the other day.

6 Month Review of the Pake C'Mute - The Do-It-All'er

I've been waiting to hit the 6 month anniversary of my Pake C'Mute build to give it a full, updated review. However, I think I've been having so much fun on it, that I simply forgot to do it earlier. For those of you juggling 2 or 3 similar do-it-all frames and leaning toward the C'Mute, I hope that the following helps you solidify a decision.

The original intent of purchasing my C'Mute was to build a cyclocross do-it-all'er similar to my brother's 20 year old Rock Lobster. My first experience with a cyclocross bike was attempting to ride my brother's scandium Rock Lobster race bike, which, after a few pedals, I gave it back to him. It felt weird, sketchy, and just wrong. Even with a negative first impression, I was still intrigued.

Months later I built myself a Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno, which I undoubtedly fell in love with. I was amazed on how well the bike climbed and actually managed the rocks in Santa Teresa County park so well. But, being a single-speed, it had its limitations, and that's when I decided to build myself a geared cyclocross bike.

My requisites were simple: steel, cyclocross geometry, do-it-all'er. I also wanted to be sure the frame had mounts for racks and lot's and lot's of tire clearance (minimum 700 X 40).

So, off to Googleland I went, searching "steel cyclocross frame" and the Pake C'Mute came up. It became a toss up between this, a Surly Cross Check and a Soma Double Cross. I briefly considered some other, more expensive frames, but cost was prohibitive for me. Looking at the geometry specs, weight and price, the Pake C'Mute seemed to fit the card.

I knew of Pake for their fixed gear frames, so I was confident in the quality and company.

I swapped some parts off my Surly Pacer (which ended up being rebuilt into a sweet road bike again) and had myself a nice, sub 22lb. cyclocross bike. You can check out the initial build here.

Since April, I've changed a few things to make it more suitable for its current job (racing) and they are as follows:

  • Ritchey Carbon Fiber Low-Rise handlebar
  • Old-school Falcon friction shifter
  • 1X8 set up: 34T X 11-32T
  • Thompson 130mm stem and Seatpost (the longer stem is to compensate for the switch to a riser handlebar)
  • Crank Bros. SL Pedals
  • Hutchingson Tubeless Tires with Stan's Sealant (Bulldog in front, Piranha in back)
  • Updated Forte Seat
  • Anodized Red bits


General Riding (road and path): I've done a metric century on this bike when my Surly Pacer was in limbo land, and I have to say that it performed beautifully. Most notably was the stability of the bike. I never feel like it's too twitchy or iffy in turns. The fat tire clearance makes a GIGANTIC difference: I think mounting up anything larger than 700 X 32 makes a for nice comfy ride that even the bumpiest of roads can't hamper. I never feel cramped or too stretched out and it climbs remarkably well.

Strawberry Fields Forever Metric Century 2010

Off-Road Trail Riding: Again, the stability of the design and tire selection makes all the difference here. Continental makes 700X42c cyclocross tires that work just as well as any 26" mountain bike tire (I have them on my Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno). Remember that tire pressure can make or break your ride, so make sure you have your psi low enough to sop up the bumps, but not so low that you are going to pinch flat. Tubeless is a great way to go.

Climbing Rocky Ridge in Santa Teresa County Park

I feel I can bomb and climb with any mountain bike (especially climb). Rock gardens are rough, but if you have the skills to do it, the bike can handle it. Climbing is the true strength of the cyclocross geometry and you will have a great time breezing by mountain bikers in their granny gears.

Racing: I am a C Class racer, first year. So far, I've been consistent with my racing and in contention for the top 10 in points for the CCCX series. This is mostly due to my consistency, because I always finish in the back of the pack.

Racing with the C'Mute has its strengths and weaknesses, and this is where I will probably be the most critical (and it won't even be that bad). I really like the stability, as I've mentioned, but when you have to drop the hammer, the geometry is a bit TOO relaxed for that. The chainstays are a bit long, and it feels like the acceleration is a bit muted. I've moved my wheel as far forward in the dropout as possible, but it still isn't as sharp as the racing frames you see on the market.

Most people will not be using the C'Mute as a racer such as I am. But, it is definitely an option if you want to go out and participate in your local series; the C'Mute can handle it.

The only crashes I've ever had were during races and the sweetest thing about it is I didn't have to worry about some precious $2000 carbon fiber situation. I basically yank the bike out of the bushes, hop on, and keep pedalling.

Racing the C'Mute is definitely doable, but unless you are a Hammerhead, don't expect to win any National Championships with it.

This may be the only drawback with a do-it-all frame. Too racy, it's tough to tour or commute with. Too relaxed, and it's tough to make it a go-fast bike. But this perceived weakness is truly a strength!


The Pake C'Mute is a wonderful idea. Part road, part commuter, part cyclocross bike, part mountain bike - you can truly make it into whatever you want. I feel this frame will be a dependable life-long friend. Its ageless design will never let you down, no matter how advance frame design becomes.

I foresee the C'Mute evolving into many forms and wearing many hats throughout its life with me. While parts and old technology are replaced, the platform will live on forever.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Toro Race Look Back and a couple of 9th places...

This was sent to me from my Brother. I thought it portrayed racing on the local scene really well.

This picture I attached was taken when I was soo going to take the inside line and pass Jesse and the guy in front of him with a charge over the barriers. Dude I remember the exact thoughts going through my head. I normally would. I was going to do it and the only reason why I didn't do it was cause I thought I might end up taking Jesse out and I figured I cant do that to Jesse so I held back. Cant tell here but they took it wide. If you look closely you see me eyeballing the inside corner. It is a tried and true area to pass. I tell you though come double points last race there will be no holding back if I am in contention. Sorry Jesse

One mistake I noticed myself making during that race was corrected by the help of a spectator actually. It was at the top of the climb. As I was getting almost to the crest of the hill about 2-5 pedal strokes from the top I would let off a bit and not carry all that hard works momentum up and over the crest. A guy up there was saying "nice pace" "keep it going over the crest!". This is when I noticed I had slowed right before the top, not good. And then the preceding laps I crested it. And I am not sure if this was good or bad because I straight up felt delirious after cresting.

One thing that I am saving for next year is I want to dis-mount step through for barriers. I have gotten descent with the way I dismount but I think that step through carries momentum better and can save you valuable time and energy. Lets say I saved 1 second by step through dis-mounts and 1 second cresting a hill. Over a 7 lap course it could save me 14 seconds. I have lost many races to someone who is less than 14 seconds in front of me.

Ok Toro Park wrapped up. What a blast.

So far, both my brother and I are in the top 10 for points, both in 9th place. Shoot, I may finish in the top if I race out the entire season. That would crack me up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

CCCX #4 - Race Report

Today's race at Toro Park in Salinas, Ca. was exhausting. The start at the bottom of the hill was killer, then having to do that hill 4 times was a burn you never feel when going on your weekend ride.

After the whistle blew, I knew that some of the roadies would have difficulty in the singletrack areas, especially since it was downhill and very, very fast. For me, it was perfect, and I felt very comfortable dropping those who rode the brakes through that stuff. I was able to remain in the BMX state of mind and bunnyhop the curb... but that damn hill is what destroyed me in the end. I believe my competitor knew I was fast on the singletrack, so he dug deep on the climb and got me last lap. 25th out of 27th. Ugh. Oh well, I think, even with that horrible finish, I may have moved up in the top 10 in points. :D

My brother did exceptionally well, especially after last week's fiasco. Riding injured, there were no shoulder'ed hill runs, so he was able to ride a very fast race. 8th place for him! Way to dig deep, HTFU and really rise above. What a proud moment.

We have next week "off" (but that doesn't mean there's time off from training) and then we go back to Manzanita Park!

All I have are pics of my brother. I think my Dad took some pics today, too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Burned out on training - go climb rocks...

Feeling a little burned out on the "training" rides so I decided to go climb the rocks on Rocky Ridge - what a nice change of pace!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CCCX #3 - Race Report

Today's race was very, very eventful - not so positive, but hey - it is racing after all.

After taking a few warm-up laps, I felt that I would have a great advantage, as a LOT of it was singletrack which is just my cup of tea. Just one hill climb (nice) and great technical stuff that is right up a MTBer's alley.

Again, the game plan was to find a position, and simply try my best to hold it there for the rest of the race... easy, right? I had a great mid-pack position and didn't feel a whole lot of guys could get me on the singletrack - I felt like a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, fate would have it that I was TOO confident and crashed on the first lap. It was a hot downhill singletrack into a very loose sharp right. The crash was padded from the bushes, but I lost my position nonetheless.

Curse words filled the air as I felt a good ten riders go by me. Being a good group of guys, I heard a lot of "Are you alright?" - and gasping for air at this point, I pulled my bike out of the trees and got going again.

It was a lot of work to get a decent position, and I know I was in last place for awhile. I felt strong today, so I was able to knock a few guys off the back end chase one other rider. He was a little faster on the hill climb (something I will be working on seriously from now on) and I fell back on that. Suddenly, I got flashbacks to my motorcycle racing days and I started to watch the guy I was chasing for mistakes. Again, with the BMX background, I gained a LOT of time on a log barrier, which I easily bunnyhopped while others were dismounting to get over it.

I noticed that he was double apex'ing a turn, which was actually just one big turn - and BOOYAH! passed him on the inside. I blocked his pass all the way to the finish line and I felt victory. I finished 23rd out of 27, which could've been better but, oh well... :)

Now, to my brother's race.

What went down in my brother's race bothered me a lot. Yes, he got very injured... but what really bothered me is that his goal was to break top 5 in points and today was his day. I mentioned earlier that there was a lot of singletrack - and I was confident that he would SMOKE the roadie guys. The course was fast and perfect for those of us who ride MTB's.

The whistle for the 35+ Mens B class blew and my brother was right in there. Not 10 yards from the start, a bigger rider nudge through the traffic and clipped and dragged him down into the gravel and (ouch) sliding. He got up RIGHT away, noticed that his front tire tore off (tubulars) and walked away in disappointment. I knew that emotions were running high - and I could definitely feel the wrenching in his heart.

For those who have never raced (or haven't done any athletic competition) - there is something about pouring your heart, mind, soul, time, wrench time and dollars into this passion - and to have it stripped away tears you apart.

My brother was pretty well beat up. He had a HUGE gash in his elbow, road rash on his knee and forearm, a busted up jersey, a busted up bike and big time disappointment. I think, through the pain, he reflected a little and sent me this e-mail later in the day:


Today's race was unfortunate for me but my feeling is nobody is at fault and that is because it is a bicycle race and these sort of things happen. Bicycle racing is a risk and in order to experience it you must be able to accept these type of incidents. You might mis-judge a turn or like in my scenario a guy clipped my wheel at the start and this resulted in a crash, and a high speed crash at that in gravel. I just hope that I heal quick and that I can resume my training. At this time my arm is in pretty bad shape with a big abrasion and what the medics called a hole that cannot be stitched up. I am having a hard time bending my elbow. I also have abrasions and both my shoulders and legs and hip but it is my arm that concerns me. No broken bones thank goodness. Bike wise a messed up front wheel, a tear in the sidewall of my tire which resulted in a flat, and some scrapes on both sides of my brakes.

Again, it was unfortunate but it was worth what could of been. And that would be another great day of racing and a finished race. I am looking forward to next week at Toro park!

As you can see, my bro's a trooper and I'm proud of him.

Anyhow, we have two more weekends and then it's break time, returning in November. Here are some pics from today.

Me going over some barriers.

A little knee scuff.

My brother before the disaster.

My brother after the carnage.

My old friend, Justin Robinson making the "A" class look easy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Couple fun pics from the past week...

Eh, time to HTFU again tomorrow - unfortunately today is a full work day. I had a great conversation with my brother regarding a "no excuse" approach to CX, and I really enjoyed that - more of that later when I don't have pending applications sitting on my desk. In the meantime, enjoy!

Here she is in current race trim.

A pic I took on a seriously hot day in Nor-Cal