Tuesday, December 27, 2011

back in Pisgah

Spending a much needed break from work here in the mountains of North Carolina. It has been two years since I last visited North Carolina. Last time the weather was not as condusive for hiking and bicycling. This year it is (no snow, 40-50s during the day).
I did bring my bike with me. How could I not when I am minutes from Pisgah National Forest?
It has been a very relaxing couple of days spending time with my parents and siblings that I don't get to see that often. I have been resting, reading books and hiking with the dog. My phone doesn't even work well here so it has been nice to get away. For some reason I felt like writing today so I'm borrowing my father's teathering from his phone. Probably the last time I do this while down here.

Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Yesterday I met up with Dicky and Zach (who for some reason I kept calling Josh. I blame it on Dicky's lack of proper introductions) for a ride at Wilson's Creek. The same Wilson's Creek where Dicky enlarged his ankle.
I think we rode somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 to 5 hours give or take. Longest ride I have done since the beginning of the summer. I knew I was in for a treat since I haven't been riding much the past few weeks/months but no matter how I would feel I told myself this is a much needed ride. Especially since I opted to not touch my gearing and ride what I ride at home in CT (51.9 gear inches).

We started with a long slog up the road for a few miles and probably well over 1,000 vertical feet. Any numbers I throw out will be wild guestimates as none of us had any devices to record such data. Not even Dicky's new oh-so-smart-phone (which is quite humorous watching him try to navigate through it).
We were rewarded with some very long descents that were a blast to ride. The cool thing about this area of Pisgah is most of the climbing we can ride on our singlespeeds. We'd then go up another climb. We repeated this process 4 or 5 times (give or take, I wasn't really counting).

The weather was great. It started just above 30F and climbed to the upper 40s / lower 50s during the day. Perfect for some wool jerseys.

At one point we crossed a raging river where we had to jump from rock to rock.
Later on we had to forge another river in knee-deep cold water.
It was cold for the first two steps but then it was not that bad. The remainder of the ride was tolerable too. I was surprised as my feet get cold easily but I was comfortable.

The last descent was just as awesome as the first. A giant ridge line with tight singletrack and rolled into some benchcut that meandered around the mountainside.
After about three hours or so, I started feeling the effects of not staying hydrated and not riding much the past few months. The last two climbs were tough on me but despite my slower pace than anticipated I did manageto keep going and finish the ride as planned.

Friday, December 23, 2011

winter rides

Well, we thought winter was on its way. It was below freezing for longer than 24hours last weekend. Somehow this week it got back up into the 50s and decided to rain a bunch and flood our trails again. We can't really win this fall/early winter. Its either rain or no rain but trails too wet to ride on.

Despite all the work I've been doing around the house I did get out for a ride last Sunday with my friend Joey. It was a cool 25F out but we were comfortable and I was excited to go for a ride (haven't ridden in a few weeks). He was playing around with his new video camera. Not bad but there's more work to be done.

I did squeeze in a ride to work on Tuesday. That was a nice relaxing ride along Hartford's Riverfront.

My friend Tony (one of the contributors to the beat bike blog) found a kid bike trailer at the East Hartford transfer station (dump) a few months ago and gave it to me because I was interested in putting together a utility trailer for groceries and such. After it sitting outside for months I finally got around to stripping it and planning its next incarnation.
I decided I'll get some aluminum sheet metal and use that as a floor instead of plywood. I can then also conform the aluminum to the frame which will bring the floor closer to the ground (lower center of gravity). Working on placement of a bicycle mount as you can see. That is important for something I have up my sleeve....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

we're in trouble now

I somehow lost my rear brake on Sunday's ride. Planning on bring my bike with me this weekend so I can ride Pisgah while in NC next week I opted to actually do some maintenance on my Superfly.

While I was trying to figure out why the lever and pistons would not retract I also noticed my rear wheel was sluggish and some of the spokes were loose. Guess this is what I get for not touching my bike in six months.

I got to this point and was walking down the path of panic. I now had a rear brake in pieces on the bike with mineral oil dripping onto the floor and a DT hub strewn apart on my workbench. I hadn't eaten anything since noon and it was now approaching 10pm. Blood sugar low, time is running out before it was bed time, having never touched a hub other than a Mavic I navigated away from Bad Brains on my phone and in a pseudo panic ridden state called George and left some run-on sentence voicemail.

I then walked away...

And found my computer upstairs and started googling about what happens when you use pharmacy mineral oil in Shimano brakes and what else of my DT hub can come apart and be cleaned without any fancy tools.

Lesson # 1
Do not use pharmacy mineral oil in Shimano brakes. I am ashamed of doing such a thing when all it took was a minute of searching on the internets great alternatives to the red Shimano Mineral oil you can find in your local bike shop.

Only Pentosin hydraulic fluid I have is CHF 11S which is synthetic so I can't use that. I did have some Finish Line 10w fork oil laying around so I used that to both flush the brake system out and fill it up for proper use. A liter of Pentosin CHF 7.1 is on order and I'll move forward using that fine hydraulic fluid.

Lesson # 2
Came to find out that DT hubs are super easy to take the freehub apart, clean and re-grease. Probably easier than Mavics since you don't need any tools. I also confirmed my suspicion by counting that I actually do have the 36 pawl upgrade. I then greased the freehub with some automotive white lithium grease and then greased the seals of the axle flanges with some Pauls waterproof grease.

All back together again and in bed by midnight.