Ok, my training was going pretty good mid winter, my long runs were up to about 10 mile run every week or so. I was riding on the river, with my homemade studded tires. I was skiing when there was snow (not so often this winter). This early spring of snow and ice have been putting a crimp in the style of this guy who is not so disciplined when it comes to trainers and rollers. The issue is that I have a couple of significant rides coming up this summer that I have to get ready for. So I have been getting out, between blizzards and ice storms, BUT I NEED TO GET OUT A LOT MORE!!! These 2 rides are going a be challenging.
The Kokopelli Trail runs from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah.
The first is a little more than a month away. I am heading to Colorado with a small group of biking friends to ride the Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah. The Trail is 142 miles long with over 18,000 feet of elevation gain and from the looks of the profile at least 3 major climbs. We plan to do the trail in 4 days, and the 3 other people I am going with (John, Kat, and Chris) are what I would describe as bicycling over-achievers, so this certainly will be a ride!
Until last fall my mountain bike was a 1990 Raleigh Technium. I changed out few things over the years, but it has always been a heavy beast. Last year I built up a Singular Hummingbird as a monster cross bike. I am planning to use this bike on the ride. I have been riding it without a suspension fork, but I am thinking I am going to need to track one down for the Kokopelli ride. One of the oddities of this bike is that it was designed to have a 29″ wheel up front and a 26″ wheel in the back (I am using a 650B there). Anyway, this means I need to find a light 29″ suspension fork. I built this bike up with drops (Salsa Woodchipper 2′s) because of an issue my 56 year-old elbows seem to have with straight MTB handlebars.
My latest build, Singular hummingbird frame, White Industries Hubs, Stan’s rims, XTR derailleurs, with Retroshift shifters adapted to drive them.
The 2013 Tour de Wyoming route is 329 miles over 6 days, and includes Beartooth Pass and Dead Indian Pass.
We are working with Hermosa Tours on this ride. The ride will be self guided, but the tour company will stage our camping gear each day along the route. I’m staring to get excited about this trip because it is coming soon, Really soon!
Later this summer Kathy and I will be joining some of our Owatonna biking friends for the Tour de Wyoming. It is in mid-July covering 329 miles in 6 days. This ride is in Northern Wyoming and goes over 2 significant mountain passes– Beartooth Pass and Dead Indian Pass. I have wanted to ride Beartooth Pass ever since my sister rode it in the mid 80′s and Dead Indian Pass that connects Cooke City, Montana to Cody, Wyoming is a favorite road that we have been driving since before it was paved.
Both of these passes will be a challenge because we are planning to ride the tandem. Our combined weight is around 310 pounds and climbing with a tandem is a real challenge. The climb from Red Lodge to the top of Beartooth Pass is 30 miles uphill and tops out at just short of 11,000 feet. I am not sure we can do it, but woah(!), do I ever need to get on the bike!
We live where a big hill is 100 yards long– we are going to have to do a lot of hill work before this summer!
I carry a couple of screw drivers that have been cut off and sharpened on the shoulder straps of my backpack.
I have been doing quite a bit of ice riding, I have not fallen yet (come close a couple of times), I have broken through 4 or 5 times, and I am now to the point where I am figuring out what works and what does not. As an experienced sea kayaker, I have spent considerable time paddling in cold water and have a healthly respect for it. Putting cold water together with cold air temperatures means that I am thinking about what I might do if I fall through the ice.
I carry a 50′ StohlQuist rescue line strapped to my backpack where I can get to it quickly if I need it.
Safety/Rescue Equipment. The rivers I have been riding a fairly shallow. Usually they are 1 or 2 feet deep, but both have deep holes so that it would be possible to get completely wet. I am told that it can be very difficult to get yourself back up on the ice if you go through, wet ice is very slippery and that is all there is to grab into if you fall through. I carry a couple of screw divers that have been cut off and sharpened into ice picks (something I remember seeing in Boys Life when I was a kid). I have these tied to the straps of my back pack “quick release” fashion so that they would be easy to grab if needed. It is hard to help someone else who falls through the ice without falling through yourself, so I carry a 50 foot rescue line. I also carry a sleeping bag, fire- starting materials, and my mobile phone in a dry bag in my back pack.
Clothing. I wear the layers that I wear when I ski or do anything else outside in the winter. The colder it is, the more layers I wear. I wear a polypropylene balaclava under my helmet. I wear thick downhill ski mitts with pockets for chemical hand warmers. I tried using my mountain bike shoes and over boots, but the truth is they are just not warm enough, and I have stepped through the ice several times. I have switched to big BMX platform peddles and I wear knee high neoprene boots.
I made this “goth” bike tire with over 500 sheet metal screws. They grip ice better than I would have imagined.
I started out ride my XC bike with the carbide studs that I use for winter road riding, they work fine except where the ice was glazed.
Randy, Dave and me on the Straight River in Owatonna
Then I switched to carbide studded MTB tires. They are a little better in terms of traction and stability, but not much. Finally I drilled and screwed about 1,000 3/8 inch sheet metal screws in a set of mountain bike tires. I do not think this would work well at all on the road but on ice, they grip very well. I am running them tubeless. That is probably a pretty good endorsement for Stan’s Notubes Tire Sealant: 500 holes per tire and they still hold air.
Last weekend it was warm and I took my daughter Linnea along on the Straight River near Owatonna. There were lots of open spots and I broke through several places. This weekend I put out a notice to our local bike group and I got 2 takers. I gave them the 2 bikes with sheet metal screw studs, and I took the MTB with the carbides. They definitely had better traction!
Randy and Dave on the Straight River
Dave went through, and up, and over.
I have been building a kit sailboat. It is a PocketShip designed by John Harris and available Chesapeake Light Craft. My original plan was to build this boat from plans (why by something pre-cut when you can cut it yourself?). How I ended up with this kit is a story of its own, but anyway, I now have the boat just about finished (several years ahead of plan) and I was trying to figure out what to do for sails. Chesapeake sells sails for this boat and that was my original plan. Bite the bullet, come up with the $1100 for a mainsail and jib, and be done with it. Then there where these old racing sails I got from a friend that I thought might cut down to size, in the end the outcome seemed too unpredictable for a “soon to be sailboat captain” who really has no idea what he will be doing.
This Singer 107W-1 is the zig zag machine I eventually found.
The sail was not hard to sew. Figuring out how to get a couple of ever larger pieces of Dacron under the neck of the machine and to pull smoothly through the feed dog was the hard part.
So I spent about a year looking for a nice (and cheap) industrial sewing machine. I ended up with 4 (another interesting story that just causes my wife to roll her eyes) before I found one that will do what I need it to do.
(Industrial zig zag machines are not as common as I might have thought). Anyway, I now can sew sails but I decided against cutting down the old sails. Instead I had Jeff Frank of Sailrite design and
computer cut a jib and mainsail for my PocketShip. It came in a kit with every thing to complete the sail. The panels and patches were pre-cut and everything else including a customized instruction book was included. All at about 1/2 of the cost of a jib and main from Chesapeake. At least as important I get to feel like I bought those 4 sewing machines for a “justifiable” purpose.
The actual sewing and assembly of a Sailrite kit is very straightforward. The panels are cut as accurately as a CNC will allow, and a seam allowance is printed right on each piece. The patches are pre-cut and and oriented assembly is a matter of taping the pieces together. Sewing is only complicated by trying to figure out how to get a couple pieces of stiff, slippery, Dacron that eventually will be one piece 17 feet tall and 11 feet wide to fit under the throat of the machine and to pull evenly through the feed dogs. (It takes a lot of tables and a lot of rolling, taping, and clamping).
I have no idea how these sails will perform but now that I am to the stage where there is only a little bit of hand finishing let I can say that this was a satisfying project that came off without much of a hitch, and was well worth the $550 that was saved! So now I am dreaming of the Spinnaker, and of the batwing sail I need to make for the kayak sailing rig I have in the works….
The completed jib.
The Mainsail .
Linnea’s Soma B-Side build with 26″ Roval wheels, XT components and a compliment of EBay parts.
One of my winter projects has been building up a couple of mountain bikes for the women in my family. They are both about 5′ tall and that means they are one the lower end of bike frame sizes, in fact it can be hard to find the right fit for them. I am still assembling parts for Kathy’s bike, but Linnea’s is complete! Last fall there was a great deal to be had on small Soma B-Side frames (maybe there still is…). They make a 13 1/2 inch frame designed for 650B wheels. When the frame came I put a pair of 26″ wheels on and I put blocks under them to see what it would look like with 650B wheels in terms of stand over. Well the industry might be hyping 29er’s and 650B’s, but for the women in my family I think they will need to stick with 26″ wheels for the foreseeable future. The good news is that means you can get some great bargains on used high end 26″ wheel sets!
This discontinued Spank Spike stem was a big time problem saver after I cut the steer tube too short!
The bike went together great with one almost fatal mistake (at least for the fork). I found a nice Fox 32 F-Series RLC fork on EBay. It is surprising how much you have to pay for a used fork like this. In fact, it was the most expensive component in the build, costing significantly more than the frame. I installed a Cane Creek 40 headset and planned to add a couple cm of spacers (Linnea has short arms to go with the rest of her) and I forgot to figure the stem in the stack height so I ended cutting the steer tube too short!! After a lot of Googling, I found out a few things about this error. First this is one of those things, like driving your car into the garage with a bike in the roof rack (I’ve done that) that is sort of a bike mechanic rite of passage. Secondly, there isn’t an easy or inexpensive fix for this mistake. Third, almost no one makes a stem with a really short stack height. I did find one made by Spank with a 26 mm stack height but has been discontinued, I found one on EBay. It has one very large pinch bolt instead of the usual 2. So far it looks like it will solve my self-created problem!
The shifters and derailleurs are XT Dynasys 10 speeds. The drive train is a FSA Gravity 32/22 the cassette is a 11/36 so I am thinking she will be able to climb really steep hills very slowly The wheels are Roval Controle E5′s that I got from my friend Chris who has upgraded to 29 inch wheels. The brakes are Avid BB7′s. As Linnea says, it is a pretty sweet ride!
Linnea taking her new MTB for an inaugural ride on the ice– there are some big icing gripping studs on those tires!
Falon doing her signature stand.
Falon dressed and ready to go!
I got a skijoring harness for my dog last Christmas, but the snow never really materialized so I did not get to ski with her last year. I did do a fair amount of running with her (cani-cross, as it is called in Europe). I even zip tied a flashing bike headlight to her (OK, drivers probably don’t know what they are seeing, but flashing dog ear fluff has to look like something you shouldn’t run over). I realize that most people would use some sort of sled dog for this sort of purpose and not a smallish Epagneul Breton or French Brittany, but Falon is the dog we have and she sure seems to enjoy it! When I get out the harness she does her stand-on-the-hind-legs dance to say, “I am ready!” She weighs less than 25 pounds, but she can take about a minute off my fastest running pace per mile.
Falon likes the running, but putting the harness and snow boots on is not something she really appreciates. It takes quite a bit of effort and usually an extra set of hands to get the booties on her feet and she usually looses at least one of them somewhere before we get back. I have been teaching her to “gee” and “haw” like a real sled dog and another command I made up myself– “come on over” which means– “get over here by the curb so the car behind those headlights that you seem so interested in does not run you over!” She can do a 5 mile run pretty easily these days.
John and Falon by Hyalite Reservoir, south of Bozeman.
We went to visit my family out in Montana after Christmas this year, where they have plenty of snow. We brought Falon along with us so I could see how she works with skis (actually she pulled my 11 year old nephew most of the time). She pulled him 10 miles around Hyalite Lake south of Bozeman and it looked like they both were having a great time!
I am not sure I have ever skated quite as fast as I did Epagneul Breton style.
When we got back from Montana, there was still (barely) enough snow to ski so I finally got a chance to see what see we could do. Back when I was a competitive cross country skier, they used to say the function of your poles is to make your skis glide longer. When you have a dog, even a small dog attached to you, it is the function of the dog to make the skis glide longer! Wow, I have never been able to skate as fast as I did Epagneul Breton style! We were going quite a bit faster than I run, so after about 7 miles, she was pretty tired (so was I). This was so much fun I am wondering if we need to get a real sled dog?
Sometimes what you used to know can get you into trouble. I used to know that Shimano road shifters had the same pull ratio as as their mountain bike shifters. For instance, our tandem has Ultegra shifters, and in the back has an XTR derailleur and a nice big mountain bike cluster. So, when planning my latest build a monster cross bike (a mountain bike with road style drop handlebars), I decided to go with Shimano compatible 10 speed RetroShift shifters and a 10 speed XTR rear derailleur. Here is where the fun began– the RetroShifts say they are Shimano compatible, but I think the Goats at RetroShift where really thinking about cyclocross with their shifters, so they really mean road derailluers. Shimano does say that their 10 speed DynaSys derailleurs are only compatible with DynaSys shifters but it is in finer print than I usually read.
Well, I really like the RetroShift Shifters and I really like the XTR Shadow derailleur, and I really, really like a challenge. This is not the easiest hack, but it is not all that hard to accomplish with a file, a fine bladed hacksaw, and some epoxy or silver solder (what I used). The problem to be solved is to increase the amount of pull that the RetroShift lever makes with each index click. I accomplished this by shimming the groove that the derailleur cable fits in. I imagine an engineer would have measured the pull ratio and then calculated the shifter radius required– I used trial and error.
Then I bent a piece of 1/16th inch stainless steel tubing and a piece of 1/16 square brass stock around the radius of the shifter body. They were shaped as shown below. I then silver soldered the 2 pieces together (you could epoxy this and by-pass the soldering) so the the stainless channel for the shifter cable would ride above the original cable groove. I left a little of the tube whole at the end where the cable attaches to the shifter so that the cable could be threaded through to hold the entire assembly in place on the shifter.
I have a couple of hundred miles on this hack and so far it works perfectly. I think it may wear the shifter cable more quickly because the transition from the cable attachment to the assembly is a little more abrupt than it would be without the adapter, but time will tell.
I put my studded tires on for winter riding.
On Sunday I decided to go for a ride. There are still a bit of ice and pack snow on the road so I put studded winter tires on my cross bike and headed out. For those of you who don’t know this, I have moved to a new interim position, so that means I have a new area to explore! I am in Tripoli (pronounced Tra-po-la) Iowa, the town is near the Wapsipinicon river, and Sweet Marsh, home of a small population of massasuga which I am sure are all hibernating, but I digress… Anyway I head out east of town and when I crossed the Wapsie I saw snowmobile tracks on the river so I circled back and gave it a try. My cross bike does no have wide tires but the snow on the river was not very deep. (the river must have froze sometime after the first big snowfall).
There were snowmobile track on the ice, but there were several places were they had broken through.
The snowmobiles had broken through in several places. I broke through the ice in a couple of places, once with my foot and once with my front tire. Even through the water was shallow, it is pretty exciting! I headed up stream and got a couple of miles until the river was so clogged with downed trees that riding was not possible. I got out at the county park on the west side of Sweet Marsh, and did some gravel riding (that was the original plan).
Today was warmer and my bike seemed to want to head back to the river, so this time I went down stream. There was a good stretch of open water that I had to skirt but after that I was able to ride almost 8 miles on the ice. It was cold recently so the ice was fairly thick — maybe 4-6 inches in most
I was pretty cautious of places like this where the ice looked thin on the way out, but most were thick enough to support the bike (and the rider).
places. There were places where the ice had froze over spots that must have been open recently. These were shallow spots, where you could see the bottom right through the ice it was only a few inches down, but it felt strange to ride across!
This was one of those ride that seemed to be like finding something completely new.
I saw a dozen bald eagles, and I was keeping my eye out for an otter– there were tracks all over the place, but the only mammal I saw was a very cold looking opossum that I am sure was dreaming of summer!
My daughter Linnea said a couple of weeks ago that she could see a fat bike in my future. I am pretty sure, if the snow gets a little deeper I am going to be coveting one!!!! Maybe I will put my studded tires on my monster cross bike, they are 2″ wide, that is half to a fat bike
It was one of those rides where you feel like you have found something no one else has thought of yet.
This guy had frost bitten ears and tail– I think it must have been wishing for summer.
Tom and Pat coming into Greenland
We left the AmericInn at about 9:00 am, to clouds and a pretty strong wind. Fortunately it turned out to be a tailwind (at least for the first 20 miles or so). Our friends Casey and Margaret were up here visiting the grandchildren, so Casey rode with us a few hours in the morning. The day was supposed to have a couple of category II climbs and there was some fear in the group about that, but either the rating system was faulty or the tailwind helped enough– no complained about the hills!
We stopped for a break at Greenland and rolled out another batch of Linnea’s baked goods, then we had lunch at Twin Lakes State Park. That left 25 mile into Hancock for a great day of riding
Rest stop in Greenland.
Ann, Grant, and Jessica near the top of the biggest climb
Kathy on the road.
Randy always has a smile.
Ann riding past the Beast.
Rest stop at the mouth of the Presgue Isle River, Mile 17.
The drive form Duluth to Wakefield was pretty uneventful, we got to Wakefield and the start at about noon, and got started riding about 1:00. It was suppose to be warm and sunny but it turned out cold and drizzly, but everyone’s spirits were pretty high. Todd and Randy came up a day early and stayed at Silver City.
At the start in Wakefield.
They were planning to meet up with us but mobile phone coverage here is spotty, we could not contact them, so I was happy to see them ride into Wakefield while the rest of the group was having lunch. Our group was up to nine riders! The first 17 miles were a mostly down hill ride to Presque Isle Campground, where I set up a rest stop. On the next leg there was a climb back up all of the elevation that we lost descending down into the campground. It looked like the climb was about 3 miles long so I did not hear too many complaints.
We got to Silver City at about 5:00 CST.
Tom and Pat at the start.
On the road
Todd near the top of a long climb
Ann out of the saddle.
The "race" leader
Randy near the top.
Jessica on the climb.
Kathy heading up the hill.
Preparing to depart in the beast, with 6 watercraft on the roof and a vintage airstream in tow.
We left this afternoon about 5:00. It has been a little hectic the last couple of days making the Airstream tow legal, wiring the Landcruiser for electric trailer brakes, tracking down all of my kayaking gear, figuring out how to safely carry about 20 expensive road and mountain bikes, and all of the miscellaneous things that are needed to get ready for a kayak/bike trip for 12. By about 4:00 we were more-or-less ready.
It was a pretty slow grind up to our stopping point on west of Duluth, (The Landcrusier is a little bit less of a gas hog if you keep it around 55 mph). Ann, Jessica, and Dave road with us in the Landcruiser we affectionately call the beast. We met Tom, Pat, and Howie at the Motel in Carlton. On this trip I will pretty much be doing support, driving the sag vehicle, and leading the paddle adventures (we will be staying on the water each night). This is a new role for me– usually I am riding but it should give me a chance to get some good photos
Tomorrow we head to Wakefield MI and the leg that goes along South Boundary Road to Silver City. You can see what is planned here. It should be fun.