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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Drivetrain Overhauling...

...came about y'day afternoon after I finished my chores of building all the new IKEA furniture (new sofa to match the chairs we bought two years ago...and my new office).  The noise, the poor shifting bugged the SHIT outta me so I yanked EVERYTHING off.  Here's what I found:

The crankset was in good shape.  The bottom bracket bearings were still as smooth as the day I bought the crankset.  Cleaned it all, regreased it with Slick Honey and re-installed it all.

The chain isn't fact, I'd say it's barely at 50%.  Cleaned it....

The front derailleur just needed cleaning - road grime mostly.

The rear derailleur was the culprit.  My jockey wheels were CAKED in I pulled each one, cleaned it, greased the bearings with more Slick Honey and reassembled it.  It was then that I noticed the mounting bolt was in not turning.  With some effort, I turned it but something between the bolt and tension spring was TIGHT.  When it did let go, everything felt "smooth".

Reinstalled both derailleurs.  Laced the chain through and right away noticed the slack.  Now the chain at it's original length was it was a link too long.  Spin it and it sounds like shit - noisy like usual.  Pull a link and install a KMC quick-link.  Much better.  The "pull" at big chainring-biggest cog is Tight (note the upper-case and remaining lower-case....'cause it wasn't bad...just tighter than I usually like).  Shift through the gears....and wah-to-the-fucking-la, the bike sounds like a typical Campy bike - lotsa chain noise but not irritatingly loud.  Like before.

So it all came down to neglect.  I chalk it up to using that crappy lube from the UK I bought when I found a deal on some tires.  I'm still disturbed by that tension spring...and may look into that more.  At $200+ for another, I don't want to buy another just for shits and giggles.  Warranty?  Enh, it's not broken...yet.

After it all together, I adjusted the cable tension.  I also realigned the front derailleur to be straighter.  It still shifts great up front but I seem to have more range.  I was hoping to eliminate a bit more of the cross-chaining noise...but, no.  Used some Dumonde lube and that quieted some of the noise.

Test ride and all was good.  We'll see next week...or Saturday.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Prescott to pre-ride some of the Whiskey 50 course.  More or less, I'll do the Whiskey 30 without the dirt road climb in the 50.  The start is different than it was in main reason to go.  I'll still have to hit the section where the Epic was turned into the FrankenEpic.

I'll likely walk that.

It's a remote ride...and I'll have the Spot.  I invited two different people, both of which either chose to keep working or got caught up in family matters.  I thought of a few more folks...but reconsidered the idea of sharing 4 hours in the car and 4 hours on the bike.  I'm just not THAT tolerant of some personalities.

The fact I ride alone alot is a conversation Meghan and I have often.  She worries a bit when I ride in these remote places.  She knows I tend to ride even more cautious when solo...and it's not like I tend to ride over my head when others are around.  I know what I feel confident doing and what I don't.  There's a lot more don't.

The issue that I still have a hard time with is...unless the situation is dire, I could likely get hung out in the middle of nowhere for a LONG time.  For example:

Last Friday when I rode Mt. Peeley the rear wheel of the DiVerge was creaking - detensioned spokes (I guess) had me worrying about what would/could happen if I tagged a rock/hole too fast.  Would the 33c tire protect the rim?  How far will I have to walk to the truck?  It's not hot....but I'm down to 1/2 a bottle and I'm in crappy shoes for hike-a-biking.

Anyone I could call was more than a hour away.  Joe, if he's even in town, would be the closest in East Mesa and then describing my location to him would be a challenge.  If I have cell phone service.

So would having someone along be helpful?  Yes...but only marginally better.  Think about it - let's say I was with Josh.  He would be tasked with riding back to the truck, hopefully safely, loading up his stuff then coming back for me.  Still gonna take time.

Not that I haven't "made the call" before.  I sliced a tire on the road bike once in Tucson so badly, I had to call Meghan to come find me.  When I crashed the Epic at the Whiskey 35 in 2015, I called Meghan to come pick me up since the aid station folks operated on their own schedule with little regard for anyone wanting out.  I called my Dad MANY, MANY times in NC when I'd have issues - flats, stomach problems (that was a ROUGH one!).  The worst was when I was in southern Virginia on some remote dirt road with barely any cell service.  It was all my own fault - poor choice in tires, not enough spares and BAD line choice.

Then there was the time I walked on hot pavement with just socks after flatting....'cause my ankles were dying a slow death trying to walk in road shoes.  It was kinda (sick) fun peeling off the dried blisters a week later.  Exfoliating....the hard way.

It's just a matter of being smart....and THAT is why so many do these gravel races (and mountain bike races).  The anxiety caused by not knowing if you're truly safe or not is reduced when you know someone is there to help you.  Of course, all I really had at Whiskey 50 was someone to tell the story, too.  All else (except for maybe some bandages) was up to me.

All that being said, I'll go tomorrow.  I'll take a map.  I'll load in extra files for bailouts.  I might be adventurous but I'm not dumb.  Bailouts are not for wussies....bailouts are for those who know their limits.

And wussies.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

PV Hills...

...are one of my favorite places to roam when I really don't have a clue what I want to do...but I want to get in something more than bumble-fuckin' about.  This morning was one of those....but I knew my knee was still not 100%.  I figured "whatthehell" and rolled out on the R3.

Issue#1 - the Cervelo has been noisy lately.  Annoyingly noisy.  I've done everything short of taking it apart.  Chain noise?  It's not showing to be worn out.  Bent hanger?  Nope...lines up perfect.  Bent derailleur cage? Maybe....but it looks pretty good.  Cassette?  Torn apart, cleaned, change.  Chainrings?  Look good.  Wheel?  Inspected, all good.  Compound all that on top of a bad cable adjustment and halfway in I was frustrated.  I got it close but not perfect.   Thing is, with Campy, less than perfect means you don't know whatthehell it'll do reliably.  By the time I reached Desert Fairways, I wasn't done riding....but I was done riding this bike.  I went home.

Issue#2 - my knee never "hurt" but I could feel the weakness.  Enough to make me avoid a few steep ones (Castle & 36th).  When I did hit it, I felt I have more power.  All the work is coming around.

Issue#3 - People.  People are clueless...especially on this ride.  At least people on the path expect bikes to be around.  When I buzzed the 3rd woman of 3 walkers taking up the WHOLE lane on one of the roads, she was shocked, muttered something but I just pedaled on.  Never mind they were not walking against traffic, there was no reason to take the WHOLE road pushing me into oncoming traffic.  People do not understand what to do about cyclists.  They wave us through stop signs.  They expect us to cross in front of em' even if we're completely stopped.  One gal in a Mercedes looked peeved when I waved her into a driveway 'cause I was not even crossing her path yet she was stopped in the lane of a busy Camelback Road.  Then the idiot in the red Daewoo....or Kia....some foreign shitbox who tried to squeeze me outta the lane at Indian Bend and Scottsdale.  It's either idiocy, lack of respect or a strong mix of both.

So....good ride?  It still was.  I climbed well.  The views were great.  The roads were fun.  The high point of the ride?

My "new" tires:  so like I said in one of the other posts, the Vittoria Rubino Pro Control in the rear was gone.  Y'day I sorted through all my tires and decided to air up the Specialized Turbo's, 700x26. 

Holy. Shit.  I didn't realize how poorly those Rubinos handled until I put these on.  See, I took em' on recommendation from the guys when I worked at TWJ.  They loved em' - "they last forever"...."they roll FAST"..."they're tough,t oo".

But they always felt skittish.  Roll straight down the road and they ARE fast.  Turn a corner and that center strip transitions to seeping lines that just don't feel tacky.  I remember descending SoMo almost slower than I did on the CxChunk with fat file-treads.

So today when I was railing corners faster....and FASTER....I was shocked.  Was I feeling that good?  No, but my tires felt that good.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017


...was all i had on tap for Saturday.  No ride....thank God!  My knees were shot and just walking across to the kitchen made em' feel wonky.  I overdid it.  I know it.  I see lotsa rest...til Sunday.

Meet with some frosted tip, wifebeater-wearing gym dude about some home stuff.  Ya really think ya leave a good impression showing up in gym clothes to a semi-professional meeting...just 'cause ya roll up in a Range Rover (...the Ford Explorer of Scottsdale)? 

Anyways....the day ends in Tempe where we spent a chunk on more furniture...'cause we actually like this house enough to invest in it.  Not that we didn't like Tucson...but we know (really hope!) we're gonna be here awhile.

Sunday, up soon-ish.  Out the door by 8, on the road by 8:40-ish.  Lots of -ish's 'cause it's Sunday and neither one of us is moving swift.  And the drinking hasn't even started.

The route is the same route as last Saturday with Cyclologic....just with fewer people who have no idea how to behave in a group.  Still...they come.  Unexpectedly.  At lights mostly.  Otherwise everyone on a bike was nice.

Up Thompson Peak, past Pima.  Up Hayden, into the 'hood.  Jomax, then Scottsdale, stop at the gas station.  I feel good.  Meghan does not.  Doesn't matter how much ya invest in techno-sessions, they can't really predict which piece of plastic and leather will match up to your ass.

Up Carefree Highway with the boat haulers and Beemers, neither of which really like sharing the road.  Right into some 'hood, down Legends, down Pima back to the truck.  Head back home....and that was when I went to work on my bikes - the DiVerge got a bath....and a semi-teardown to sort through the brake issues.  I picked up....blah blah blah.

Yesterday I fooled with the Diverge more.  The brakes feel "good", just not as firm as I like em'.  I swapped pads around just to's defl'y the fluid pressure.  The new batch of fluid will be here Thursday.

I also saw I need a new tire on the rear of the R3.  I usually try to inspect my tires every other ride or so.  I'm gawking at it when I notice a spot....and then I notice LOTS of places where the threads appear to be beginning to show.  Look at the front - it's not supposed to look that way!

I dig around, find three good tires to swap over....later.  A Specialized Turbo 700x26....two Vittoria Rubino Pro (non-Control like I'm running) 700x25.  I'll figure that out later today.

Otherwise, I'll head to the gym shortly.  I can find way to put ANYTHING in front of going to the gym....but I need to go.  Maybe.  I could also do a home strength drill.  Don't have to leave.  Don't have to be annoyed by dudes with milk jugs full of water or chicks with intense stares and three layers of tank tops.

But we pay for it...and when I do settle in I like the gym.  It's just the people.  Enh.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Mt. Peeley... just across the highway from Mt. Ord.  I rode Mt. Ord last year on the FrankenEpic, had a BLAST going up and down.  I figured the old dirt road to Mt. Peeley would be similar. 

No.  No, it wasn't.

On the map, it's longer with less elevation.  It even looks shallower.  What I didn't account for was the different surface.  Mt. Ord's road is primarily used by trucks heading to the fire tower and whatever else is up there.  It's used quite a bit.  Mt. Peeley's road is primarily used by the public to get to the AZT trailhead.  Mt. Ord's is better maintained.  Mt. Peeley's....not so much.

The lead in was fine aside from the ever-present washboards.  I'm not feeling "great" - allergies and such - but I figure I'll adapt.  I went from riding kinda like shit to just feeling like full-on hammered dog shit. 

But at least it wasn't all washboard!

It just got STEEPER.  It seemed to always float between 10 and 18 percent.  Good or bad, it felt like I would climb for 15-20 minutes only to lose (what felt like) half the elevation I gained on the next descent bridging over to the next climb.

This went on for 90 minutes or so.  Factor in elevation starting at 4200 feet, I was surprised I felt better at 6000.  I guess it was about 5000 or so I made the realization that the jump of about 3000 feet might be having an effect to.

Enh, what doesn't kill ya....

Reach the top, consider blowing off the AZT trailhead stop and just turn around NOW....but curiousity is killing me so I plunge the 500 feet down to the end.  Get there, take pictures and eat dates.  All is good.

Well, not really.  So ever since I bought the Diverge I have only taken it on abusive rides and some flaws were rearing their heads:

Rear wheel: it's a problem I've found with almost every Roval wheel I own.  The spokes are tensioned from the factory a bit low for my fat ass.  As I would climb the steepest portions, I could head the spokes giving up a bit.  Only on the steepest stuff....but it was enough to rattle my confidence.

The brakes:  I'm a big fan of Shimano brakes....have been since I purchased my first set....but they don't have the road set-up perfected.  Not for a 220-lb blubber bomb on a 17% grade with skinny tires.  I had the front brake screaming halfway down.  The pistons were sticking anytime I held the brakes longer than a 3 seconds.  By the end the rear brake lever was touching the bar.

The cassette:  Now this is not a mechanical's just my weakness.  About 1/3 of the way in, I hit a STEEP nasty, loose climb that I refused to walk.  I may have stopped twice to gather myself but I didn't walk a DAMN bit of it!  I also felt something tweak in my left knee.  The next morning it didn't feel good at all....even if I was getting up to walk a charity 5k.   Anyways, I ordered a SRAM 11-36 and a new chain.  Yea, that's only 4 teeth....but I refuse to run those lil' doo-dads that drop your derailleur but allow you to run these popular HUGE cassettes.

Other than those....the bike is AWESOME still.  It handles great - get in something REALLY shitty where a typical 'cross bike would scare me, it just goes where you point it.  It also helps that I've been riding this one ALOT.

So....I'll fix the brakes, recharge the fluid and see what happens.  The pads, front and rear, are's either the fluid or something bigger than my tiny brain can decipher.

I've already retensioned the wheel.  It may get one more going-over but it's bumped up a good bit.

The cassette is coming, too....along with the chain, new brake pads (anyway) and more fluid.

I really should post soon as I figure out the new phone.


All the posts...

...that I intended to write didn't get written.  Here's a quick breakdown:

Saturday CycloBlogic Ride:   I jumped into the Cyclologic B-ride ' sounded like it might be fun.  The route was fun, the company was sketchy from the start...and the ride only got scary when ones up front just felt it was okay to BLAST around the pack, swerve all over the damn road or just choke up regardless of position in the pack.  I took the DiVerge 'cause I hadn't ridden it in awhile and I knew a big ride was coming.  That bike is so fun...

Didn't really ride for two days...

Sunday Wheel-Slinging:  a friend I worked with at Sabino Cycles puts on the road race portion of the Southern AZ Omnium.  He's always grasping for volunteers so Meghan and I head down to help.  Being I have a big truck, I offered to drive it around slingin' wheels at people who didn't have the brains to air up properly.  Get there, the direction of where to go and what to do is minimal....but it's not long my co-pilot is absconded to drive another car.  For three hours, I followed the Pro 1/2 race.  Nary a flat in the pack.

After 7 hours in the truck I was wasted come Monday.  Ended up swappin' on new treads to the FrankenEpic.  I finally just decided to go with the new Specialized Ground Controls, 2.3 all the way around.  As much as I say, "I want this to be a gravel-oriented mountain bike....for those harder days...for those..." blah blah blah....I'm falling back in love with riding trails.

While down in Tucson, I asked Darien, another co-worker from Sabino Cycles, how he deals with the long rides in the extreme heat.  His advice, "just ride easy in it" was heeded so I started on...

Tuesday Hot SingleSpeeds in the PMP:  this was gonna be one of those easy-ish romps through the rocks on the Juice.  I had started painting some new graphics on the FrankenEpic plus I really wanted to go rip on something different.  The Juice still had the 19 tooth on the rear, so "easy" for the heat and the warm-up before Weds.  I roll over, climb from Tatum up T100 pretty well....and then proceed to just ride the trails my vague memory has always thought, "that might be fun" but I'm usually on a mission to ride something else so I don't.

There's so much good trail out there....

Wednesday Pollen Puffin' & Happy Valley Climbin':  so intervals...and I know I need to do em'.  I also realized after it felt like my legs were shit on Tuesday that the pollen is floating and the air is histamine-inducing.  Which means there are unnecessary aches all over my body.  I set out, do a few sprint intervals that get lost in traffic.  I weave over to Thompson Peak and start my Z3 intervals - 12 minutes with Z4 surges every 1:30.  I'm doing okay up Thompson Peak...hit another batch up Pima...then turn on Happy Valley.  Just pedaling hurts - hard effort, no effort, slow, fast.  I finally recover as much as I'm going to time-wise and hit it again.  When I finally force my head to realize that it's just an allergic reaction and not my body falling apart, I pick up some momentum and good feelings.  I'm gonna be okay.

Post ride, I rest, eat and avoid the gym.  I knew Friday was gonna be tough....but I didn't know HOW tough.

Tough enough to get it's on post.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Friday's Hills...

...were rougher than I expected.  I'll admit, I figured Fountain Hills is full of old people so the roads can't be that rough, can they?


The route I had laid out had some serious numbers but I figured I had it in me.  Two or three hard passes up some climbs then hit the Palisades Loop, taggin' in the Dixie Mine trailhead.


I felt okay but not awesome.  Like I said in the last post - beer, late night, general bullshittery with Josh.  I roll down my MMC and when I get to the last street named for a golfer (...yep, it's that white up there), I turn right...but not before some old dude on a Roubaix chops me off.

This is my first interval so...I hit it.  I won't see Capt. Roubaix again.  The road kicks up STEEP and I power through.  The idea was to sit in Zone 4 for 3 or 4 minutes.  And I did....recovery couldn't come soon enough.  I was so slow trying to calm down, I was able to get in the 2nd interval on the same road.

Turn right at the top, weave down to the next road I had marked and get lost.  Soon I find myself facing a 15-18% WALL.  I mash and just stay in it 'cause....why not do the last interval?

Up to the light, figure I'll go ahead and do the Palisades Loop.  I wanted to do a few 8 minute Zone 3 intervals....and I got em'.  Zone 3 was so easy to hit and blow past, I was creeping on anything up.  First one was done before I ever got to the HUGE 18% downhill.

Last one, I hit the button on Palisades Street (road? whatever...)  I was doing okay - HR was steady, legs were spinning good quick circles.  Finish it, turn around and all I wanna do is find the car.

So that was 6 days ago....and today after 3 more kinda "whatthehellisgoingon" rides, I realized - the pollen has been DUMPED on the desert!  Pollen stirs up histamines in me.  Histamines make me ache and think something BIG is wrong.  That makes me ride slower.  Riding slower pisses me off 'cause I've worked to get to this point.

Today...on ride #4, I realized the deal.  Only took 15 years to figure this out!!

Anyways, there were more rides.....worthy of separate posts: 

More to come.


Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm not up early....

...and it was/was not intentional.  I had this plan to get up at 5:30 or 6 (the "standard" ride time for 95% of Arizona cyclists under 70).  The route was mapped - 30-something miles in Fountain Hills with a buttload of climbing.  Hill intervals.  I was going to do hill intervals.  I may still do em'.

I just stayed up too late....watching "Avalanche Sharks".  Aside from helping Josh learn that a 1.5" crown race won't work with 1.25" head tube....and polishing off a few Torpedoes, I accomplished very little last night.  Might have aggravated the neighbors by leaving Trunk-dog outside where he barked incessantly at the strange voice in the garage.  All he wanted to do was greet Josh...with more loud barks and possibly peeing.

I did nothing far as riding.  Rest day.  I did get out Wednesday.  I have found my perfect winter time ride - the Geezer Ride.  A bunch of guys, mostly ALL way older than me, way more retired...and for the most part, more fitter.  They gather about 3 miles away at a round-a-boot (...that's Canadian for "roundabout") and then head for a 30+ mile ride up Via Linda and back.

It's the same ride I did Saturday...for the most part.  They switched up part of the route, all new to me.  This time, with no hangover, I held on up Mountain View just fine....actually cruising in Zone 2 for a lot of it.  Through the twisties, up 128th to Via Linda.  When we made the right, I told my newly-made friend Dave that after Tuesday I wanted to "rest a bit" I was capping myself at Zone 4.5. 

I held on for about half the climb.

Crest the top, circle like vultures, head down.  Left and up Desert Cove, where I felt my alcohol content drop considerably on Saturday.  This time I fall in behind the guy who long-stared me on the way to the meet-up.  I'd already heard him talk and talk about all his climbing exploits since he got here from Florida.  I hold on to the top, feeling good...but I know I'm close to empty(ish).

Down and onto Via Linda, a train forms...but the lack of energy has me sitting more comfortable on the back, tail-gunning.  Well, tail-gunning is good for one thing - losing (unless you're sandbagging).  I wasn't paying attention.  A light changes.  I'm stuck with no train.

Edward and ???? are with me, we paceline to the bagel shop.  I learn world politics from the Jewish point-of-view (wrong or right) then we roll out.  Everyone else says goodbye, I go climb Hummingbird to get that extra little bit.  I feel good.

I'm kinda excited to ride.  Kinda not.  I'll put in a longer ride tomorrow...not sure what yet but I will.  Sunday will be spent in the Tucson slinging wheels at racers who don't know how to inflate their tires or dodge shit in the road.  Monday, I won't be in the mood to drive...but I will be in the mood to swap tires on the FrankenEpic.

The Vittoria Barzo's are gone.  The rear would be great for a road bike...although I'll admit it still does quite well.  While I'm down in Tucson, I'll swing by Sabino and grab up....something.  I'm still leaning towards narrower 2.1's.  However I know myself - when I see a 2.3 for the front, I'll want a 2.3.  The new Ground Control looks NICE - smaller knobs in the center, BIGGER on the edges.  The Fast Trak still looks like a tire to skate across ice....but so did the Barzo when I put em' on. 

Why not find more Barzos?  They wear out the rear anyway.  I'm running 28 psi consistently and less than a year later (??? how many hours or miles), it's near treadless.  The knobs are shredded up.  The front however looks pretty good.  I just want newer, better rubber before Whiskey, hopefully before I go up and pre-ride (at least) the 35 mile course next week.

I just looked at other Vittoria options...interesting.  Not sure what I want to do but I know I still have a bit of time, too. Enh.