Friday, December 30, 2011

Letting go

This is something that my wife has had to do a lot of recently with the loss of her Mother, her Father, and just last week...her Aunt (her Father's side). She went back home this week to attend the funeral and take care of some things with regard to her dad's personal effects. I spoke with her each night and the first night of being back in her dad's house was pretty hard on her. One of the things I told her that night was that, as hard as it is to let go, it can also be very celebratory when you start to look back at all of the memories shared with that individual. I am still angry over the loss of her Father but I think of him every day when I enter our home and look at the horse shoe by the front door or the antique milk container on the deck. Whenever I use one of his knives (I always have one on me) I wonder how many times he used it. This is something I will never do with my own Father or Mother. I am grateful to be able to have what little memories of him that I do.

Likewise, I am equally grateful to have those memories of my wife's Aunt. I did not know her all that well but she was always kind to me and welcomed me into her family even before it was official. Arlene suddenly passed away on the morning of December 19. She was feeding her horses when her time ran out. Most notably, she leaves her husband behind. She now joins her brother again in a better place.

May you rest in peace Arlene and may you forever tend to your horses in fields of gold.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've been getting Physical Therapy on my neck for about 3 weeks from Cameron over at Colorado Sports and Spine Centers. I really like him and trust him when he's got his hands around my neck. So far he's been doing some manipulation of the spine in the neck and then having me stretch the scalene muscles every day to try and get some of my pathetic range of motion back. I'm also paying a lot more attention to my overall posture. There does appear to be an issue with one of the vertebrae as well as the first rib that was probably harmed during the dreaded accident. The pain is still incredibly uncomfortable and it really has me worried. This is truly impacting my quality of life. I'm so excited about my new bike and the places it will take me this year and the things I'll see but, right now, on most days the pain is too much to even ride at all. I have a really great offer to take part in a trip right after school gets out through the desert of the southwest but it will require over a week of 16 hour days and a very long hike a bike section with a bike lashed to my pack. I've analyzed that route for years now. There's always that stupid Colorado Trail thing that haunts me that I intend on tackling this year either totally on my own or with the grand depart in August. Then there's that ride along the Divide that I wanted to do next year for my 40th birthday present to myself. It seems that now, more than ever, I seem to be less concerned with racing and more about seeing what's around me. Physical fitness is not what's ever stopped me from completing that one trail. I believe it's that I'm lacking in what Matt Lee calls the "ST" (Suffering Threshold) department. In order to do any riding at all right now, I am going to have to just deal with the increased pain that comes from doing one of the things I love the most.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Canine Christmas

It seems that I enjoy Christmas more and more each year since meeting my wife and having both dogs makes it infinitely more fun. This is honestly how excited I get over good pens. All of the legal papers I have folks sign off on is always done in these pens with black ink. These pens will somehow pilgrimage from my work backpack over to Heather's purse or work bag over the course of a few weeks. Then, in an all out assault, I will storm the opposing bags and retrieve said pens and put them back in their original residence. The four pens you see here will being making their first pilgrimage in a matter of weeks.


We always spoil the pups with gifts. This year they got Sushi, their own pumpkin pies, Pupperoni's, milk bones, other treats, and the big gifts...stuffed animals. When we first got Bodhi, he had a pink pig that he loved to carry around and gently nibble on. Here he is with his new friend. Darth Vader.

Darth lost his tool belt and now has a small hole in his butt (on the dark side if you will) but he'll be around for a while.

When I first got Dharma I got her a little brown bear and she carried it around everywhere for about 2 months before finally realizing she could kill it. She quickly moved on to live baby rabbits which she would bring in lifeless and bleeding through the dog door in St. Louis and deliver to my feet. Now...her stuffed animals last about 5 minutes before there is stuffing everywhere. With Bodhi getting Darth, it was only right to get Yoda for Dharma. Here she is having her way with him.

Show the backside of his head the force she did.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gifts for the dogs

We gave the puppies one of their gifts tonight. Poochie Suchi from the Waggin' Wash.


It was a big hit. They also think Heather's new jammies are soft.


My wife was nice enough to let me take the fork down in the garage tonight and start getting some ideas on how things were going to come together. After a lot of measuring and thinking, this is what I came up with for the fork/stem. There's 30mm of spacers underneath the stem and that puts the bars 5mm higher than they were on the black bike with the suspension fork and about an inch of sag when sitting on it (I was shocked it had that much sag in it with how much air I run in it). I decided to stick with the 120mm, -10 stem because I've been riding it that way for 4 years and with a -6 stem on the black bike it immediately felt awkward and I really didn't wanna change things up too much.


The fork is a second generation Fargo from Salsa. I looked at carbon forks from White Brothers and Niner but kept coming back to this one because of the ability to run Salsa's Anything Cages, what I kept hearing about the ride characteristics, and for the good price. Big thanks to my friend Tim for giving me the homey hook up. Always appreciated buddy!


The seatpost is on the way. The fine folks at Eriksen were making it yesterday so I should have it sometime this coming week. Then I've got to do a bunch of shuffling of parts like seat, and brake levers off some other bikes but it should be done soon. I haven't ridden a steel frame in years so I hope it's not a wet noodle. I think it's going to be really comfortable and that ti post should make a difference. I'm bat shit crazy about the colors.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday. More later.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bike fit

I have spent many sleepless nights obsessing over the El Mariachi build. Originally I intended to run a layback seatpost, a Blacksheep truss fork, and possibly Blacksheep mustache bars. This is drastically different than the setup on my Alma and it worried me. I can ride that bike all day long and changing the fit so much is risky. After countless trips to the garage to take measurements, I ended up bagging the layback post and finally ordered what will go on the frame yesterday. It will be a straight post and it will put me in the same spot in relation to the bottom bracket as I am on the Alma. I decided to bag the truss fork and the fork I'm going to run is sitting under the tree right now and will go on Sunday sometime. A handlebar change would require changing stems. I actually want to change that though. I run a 120mm stem with -10 degrees right now and would like to sit up a bit higher. Flipping it to +10 is a big swing though so I intended on swapping to a 120mm with -/+ 6 degrees this year. That might help with numbs hands. The handlebar I ordered last week just showed up.


I don't really like it. The Salsa Pro Moto that I run right now has 11 degrees of sweep and it's 27" wide. The Fleegle bar is supposed to be 28" wide but it has 15 degrees of sweep. IT ends up being a tad narrower than what I like. You always immediately know when a bar is too narrow.

So slowly...this bike is beginning to fit precisely how the Alma does. Maybe it's trying to tell me something? So these will be going back to the folks at On One.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

El Maricahi

Very rarely do I see someone else's build that I like. This is one of them. I stole this off mtbr.com. If I were to do CTR again, I'd have to run gears and probably a fork but I might go 1x9. About 30 minutes after Christmas morning begins, I will be in the garage installing the fork, wheels and calipers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Deckers to BC

Normally I do not ride for 4 hours in the winter but I kinda lost track of time and was just enjoying the ride. I parked in Deckers behind the fly shop and rode 97 all the way up to Buffalo Creek and then came back. Nice day to be out but incredibly cold when the sun dipped behind the mountains in some shorter sections that were north facing. Hope you all got out and did something fun outdoors today.

A shout out

If you are in need of body/paint work on your vehicle then get yourself down to Perkins Collision and Paint in Colorado Springs where you can't spell Paint without spelling out pain. They'll set you up with half ass work that results in the best damn 30 foot paint job this side of Earl Sheib.


Normally...you'd pay extra for this kind of custom work.

I've seen 13 year old gang bangers with ADHD lay down a better coat on the side of a building with a can of Krylon and blend better with a single piece of 220 grit.

WTF was Subaru thinking by applying decals to the outside of the car?? Clearly it looks better sitting next to a landing net that wreaks of trout slime and a week old bagel sandwich left over from a recent fishing expedition.


You can also spell out colon with certain letters from Collision. Irony? No. I'm really trying to keep from going down today to have a face to face chat as I really do need to go to work on Monday.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Really??

I hate when anyone touches my car. Really. Leaving it at the body shop was nauseating. Today I went to pick it up. My car isn't new. It's got it's share of dents. I enjoy bombing down the fire roads in the burn area where you can see anyone else coming for miles and hearing the rocks bounce off the metal. I keep saying I'd like to Rally it so I'm obviously ok with it getting abused at the expense of me having fun. I think there's just something about people trying to get over on me that I simply can't stand. Mostly though...it's people touching my car. Needless to say I am disappointed with the work that was done. No wonder it's friggin' done early.

If you recall, I was told that nobody would be looking over the car with me upon drop off. Well...a dent that was NOT there before this accident was not fixed. It's a weird dent I'll admit but those that know me know that no one spends more time on their car than me. I know what dents and imperfections are on it. The guy says to me, "Oh that dent is coming out but they fixed the big one." I say, "Who am I, Stevie Wonder over here? I can ___ see the big dent is fixed. You wanna explain to me how the ___ this dent came from inside the vehicle? Never mind the fact that it looks like a ___in 5th grader blended the paint." Then I see it. Or...I don't see it. The 12" X 8" sticker that's supposed to be on the door that says Outback Sport. Oh.............that's right. It's supposed to go in the ___in trunk. I'm obviously not a certified professional.

This is the first time I've ever had an accident and been in this situation. Heather wants to go down in the morning to talk to them. However...I don't think that would be a good idea for me and...I don't want them anywhere near my car again. I'm very frustrated.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Neck issues

They continue to plague me. I have pain every day since going to the Neck Cracker but now when it decides to lock up it's incredibly painful. This week has been really painful so yesterday I went to what could be my new Doctor and got a referral to a Physical Therapist. I have my first appointment tomorrow morning. I haven't been able to sit on my back for a week now and, before that, I've had to run a different stem on my road bike and my 29er and it's still painful. I can't even ride the 26er at all. So glad I'm building up a new bike right now. Nothing like building a cool bike knowing you can only look at it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fat

I don't have too much more to go for the El Mariachi to be done but I'm afraid I already have another bike being built up in my head. Winters are long up here and fat bikes just look so much fun. The options are starting to grow but I doubt we will ever see them be anything more than niche builders. I definitely don't think the folks up in Bedford, PA will ever jump in the game.




This appears to be a new 9 zero 7 frame out of Anchorage. It's owned by factory racer Noah Holcomb. Looks like he had someone re-route the cables internally and then give it a respray with new stickers. Me thinks he was just having some fun with this picture too what with the cranks and all. There might even be a bit of photoshop happening in that area (if you notice the chain/big ring). Still a beautiful bike. The name of the bike on the top tube says "supersnow".

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Honey do's

That's what a good chunk of the day consisted of but they were fun. The first thing we did was head out into Pike National Forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree. We drove around some back roads and would park every once in a while and hike. After several hours we hadn't seen anything worth cutting down yet. I ride back on these roads all the time and thought I knew where we might find some good trees so we headed in the direction. After another hour we came to the spot that, apparently, a lot of other people knew about too. Cars were parked every where. So we got out and headed into the woods and finally stumbled across this guy. We both liked him a lot and thought he would look perfect in our home. As dumb as it sounds, I actually took a minute to touch it's branches and honor it before taking the saw out of my pack.


A few minutes later and it was all over.

We saw another couple earlier in the day and the guy was walking down the road while the gal lugged this huge tree. After I cut it down I told Heather to get after it.

Of course I was only joking.

We got it all strapped down and headed home.


The tree is 8 feet tall. I've never had a real tree but this is something we will do from now on. It was a fun experience and a gorgeous day to be out in the woods. This process helps thin the forest and we'll honor the tree by sharing the holiday with it and then either use the tree to make mulch out of or burn it to help keep us warm next year.

I also fixed the starter on our grill and then hung some more accent lighting on the deck and porch so Heather doesn't have to get surprised by any more bears or other critters in the front yard when taking the dogs out late at night.

Body Shops

Most people probably think of automotive body shops or paint shops when they hear that term. I, on the other hand, always think of some really cheesy strip club out in the sticks. Kinda like you'd find somewhere in Illinois. In fact, one such club used to exist years ago when I lived over there near Collinsville. It was called Dotties Body Shop. It was a really run down building with one of those metal above ground pools off to the side. There was a fence around the pool but some nights on my way home from working at my first bike shop gig, I could see the lights on. I never went in to check out the place. I was always a bit scared to do so. Probably for the best that I never did go in. Apparently, just driving by it all the time was enough to leave a lifelong impression.

You might be asking yourself why did I think of Dotties last night? That's a fine question. The answer would be that I took the Subaru down to the shop that's supposed to do the work last night. I got there about 3:45 and started gathering my belongings out of it. The place seemed nice. Good looking building. Huge parking lot in the back full of cars. Massive fence topped with razor wire to keep out undesirables. A 4 Runner was parked nearby and a gal came to pick it up while I was putting stuff in Heather's vehicle while she waited. This customer was not happy with the repair that had been done. I couldn't hear the details and I honestly just figured that it was either something small or she was just being unreasonable. I'm sure these people are professionals. (Keep in mind that I do not like relinquishing my vehicle to ANYONE so this is very nerve wracking for me.)

I walked in to sign the necessary paper work. The last paper was a big checklist to go through together with whoever was checking the vehicle in. ABS light on? Horn functional? There was about 40 things. After asking, I'm told that we're not going to check in the vehicle today but they'll do that on Monday. I'm thinking...what happens if I come back after the repair is done and the seat is torn? She tells me I can come down Monday to do the check in process if I'd like. Now...nobody has been waiting more for Friday than this kid right here but it's 4! Why not do it now? Then I think...relax man...maybe I'm being a bit like the 4 Runner gal? So I initial the page. Then I say that most of the damage is pretty visible based upon the description from the insurance company but I'd like to go over it with them so they know that the small dent at the front of the door was also caused by the accident as well as the paint rubbed off the door moulding. She tells me not to worry and that if it's in the general area of the description, she's sure he'll figure it out. I don't even know who the hell HE is so that's not re-assuring.

"Is you're name Dottie?" I ask.

"No." She says. "Why?"

"I just thought I had talked to someone on the phone the other day by that name but I'm sure it was something else like Darbie or Dave."

About halfway up the mountain I tell Heather that I am extremely nervous. I woke up at 3 this morning and was up for 2 hours. Worrying. Some half whit is down there with a pack of Big League Chew and a putty knife to fill in the dents. Then he'll find some nail polish that's a close match and slather that on. I fear this is not going to turn out good for me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blinglespeed

Big thanks to Chris down at Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs for helping me out this morning. I decided to have him install my bottom bracket and headset for me. It's slowly starting to come together. The fork and brakes showed up yesterday. I was able to take a look at the fork last night but I was not permitted to take any pictures.







I'm pretty much at a standstill until Christmas and then I'll be able to get the fork installed along with the wheels and calipers. Then I'll order the seatpost and the handlebar that I hope to use and start trying to figure out what stem to order.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

El Mariachi parts

They're starting to come in now. Unfortunately, the build has changed a tad now but I'm happy with the stuff that got here today. Because I wanted to run the XTR cranks, this will be a singlespeed so I ordered a 32 tooth Blackspire ring. I robbed these chainring bolts off the cranks on my Orbea but I had to file down the height of the female bolt about 2mm. It was a bit tedious but I could not find mango bolts anywhere and, as you'll see below, this bike is going to have a bit of color.


This was super hard to find. King still does the mango color but now they only offer it in the new Sotto Voce finish (where the lettering on the headset is also mango) and I just liked the classic look for some reason. I actually ordered it expecting to get the new style one but this is what showed up.

I also got a mango Chris King bottom bracket. I'm hoping to get the bottom bracket and headtube chased and faced this weekend so I can at least install the bottom bracket and cranks.


The fork and brakes are on the way and might be here tomorrow but probably Monday. Unfortunately, I'm being told that I can't install those until Christmas morning so that's fine. Originally I kept going back and forth between a Blacksheep titanium truss fork and a Blacksheep titanium unicrown fork but I couldn't get Blacksheep to return my calls or emails. So...I went a different route but I think it's gonna be cool still. I also wanted to run an Eriksen titanium, layback seatpost but their 27.2 post has 20mm of layback and that would really mess with the fit too much so that's out now too. In the end this bike should be a killer bikepacking bike.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not a good day

Normally it's pretty kick ass being me. I've got a killer wife. Two bitchin' dogs. I've got a job and stuff. Despite all this tremendous karma, today was just not my day. I forgot my coffee before I walked out the door. I just wasn't feeling it but I couldn't figure out exactly why. Then my car got hit by a runaway truck. Seriously.

I made it to the river hoping to get something going but I was met with tons of ice, increased water flows (thanks a lot Denver Water Board), and the accompanying chunks of grass, and murky water that goes with these.

It was like fishing in a giant Slushy.

The damage.

Friday, November 25, 2011

BC

I made my way back over to Buffalo Creek today for some riding. There's a lot of trails back there and they were fun. I didn't ride every trail because it started getting cold once the sun went down behind the mountains. I don't know if these trails were here before the fire but I bet it was beautiful if they did.


Because it's Black Friday I decided to bust out this bike. I haven't ridden it since August 1st. Getting back on it was like getting back on an old friend. Wait. That sounded really seshual. Regardless, I love this bike and the way it carves.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wolves

Heather and I went up to the Wolf Sanctuary in Divide this morning for the Turkey Toss. Actually, because of the unseasonably warmer weather we've been having and because there's been so much roadkill lately (a lot of it gets donated) the wolves weren't as hungry so it was a chicken toss. If you're ever in the Colorado Springs area and want a really cool way to waste a few hours check it out. For 20 bucks you can get a tour of the facilities and see all of the animals. Or you can do a VIP tour and go in a pen with some of them. They even have special events like tours during the full moon when they really howl.

There are only 2 true Arctic Wolves at the place but this is a hybrid Arctic/Timber. This guy was huge with massive paws that were about 6 inches across and included webbing that acts a lot like a snowshoe does in deeper snow.

This is Na'vi. He is a really young Timber Wolf (not even 2 years old yet) but he was big. I couldn't get a decent picture of him because he kept stalking up and down the fence line. He had the most amazing yellow eyes.

They would pick up these big frozen chickens whole like they were nothing and devour them entirely in 5 minutes.

Another beautiful Timber Wolf.

They have a small cabin near the center of the facility that has 5 freezers in it. Each freezer is capable of holding 1,000 lbs. of meat. This place runs entirely on donations and tour fees. They do get a lot of the elk and mule deer road kill in the area and right now, a lot of hunters bring up their scrap meat after they're done quartering their kills. The place is absolutely immaculate. I know we'll be going back again soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rough

I got a bit of a late start today but I decided to head to the river after a late lunch and see what was up. The crowds sure weren't. There was like 2 cars there when I pulled in. After about 30 minutes of walking and glassing the water I found a decent Rainbow. She wasn't the fish I was looking for but I decided to stop. She took a legitimate Black Beauty on about the 5th cast but quickly came off. Stubbornly, she went right back to the same spot. I knew she wouldn't be having that fly again so I re-rigged but she was hip to the game so I moved on. It's post-spawn now by a week or so and a lot of the bigger lake run fish have slid back down the river but I still saw plenty of decent fish and I was hoping there would be some bigger browns still coming out to play at night.

It was cold. It wasn't as bad as it was a few weeks ago when the sun went down but I still had to break the ice off the guides every few casts.

Dinner.




I switched from midges to a streamer just as the sun went down. As soon as the streamer hit the water on the first cast, it was demolished by a bigger Rainbow that came out of the water. I don't know that I've ever had a trout throw a streamer before but this one did and the line all came back to hit me in the face. I stared at the river for a second and then moved on. A short while later, I saw a big brown come all the way out of the water about 25 yards upstream from me. I had line coiled up in my hand and immediately dropped it and false casted 2 times and laid it just upstream from where I had seen it. Nothing. I couldn't believe it. I was breathing heavy. I thought, for sure, that thing was gonna get hammered. I worked that spot for 30 minutes and got nothing. I even rested it while I ate dinner. I never got any action.

Beautiful night to be out on the river though. I may do it again tomorrow night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This is the Black Beauty. It was originally invented in 1991 and fished not too far from my house in the fly speck of a town called Trumbull. This fly is really pretty simple in terms of what it consists of but tying it in size 22 proved to be a bit frustrating. I got several done though.

The Ramback

Last night I tied up this fly. For some strange reason...I thought of a friend of mine while I tied the final knot. This fly is called the "Ramback" (his name is not actually spelled like that but I think it's better for the fly). This is basically a Pat Dorsey Mercury Midge. Pat is probably the best guide in Colorado. Pat ties his with gray thread and then segments the body with copper wire. I used white thread and green wire. This fly represents the nymph stage and the bead is the key to the whole thing. Some midges will suspend themselves right below the surface of the water before hatching. These things then swim down about 6 inches and then come back up to the surface. They repeat this cycle before emerging. Each time they hit the surface, a little bit of air gets trapped in the shuck. I don't know why they do this. Perhaps the air helps them break free of their exoskeleton's? Whatever the reason is...the air bubble on their upper back looks just like a little drop of Mercury in a thermometer. My good friend is a science teacher. I think he'll get it.

I just got back from a 2ish hour ride this morning. It started out nice. It was cold but it was nice. I did a little loop that Marshal showed me a while back.




This was on the way back down. I thought I saw a trail so I checked it out. At times it was mostly game trail.

Then I saw this. Call me paranoid but I'm always a little cautious when I see stuff like this. Not long ago, a guy I know was out doing something similar and stumbled upon a much more organized camp over in Buffalo Creek. It was just off the Colorado Trail. He went in for a closer look and it was an abandoned growers camp. They left all the irrigation supplies, fertilizer, their food, and even a gun with the serial numbers scratched off. There's no shortage of that kind of stuff up in the mountains. This setup was pretty harmless other than looking like crap. A lot of the kids in town have places up here that they go to party. This is probably one of them.


I love the simplicity of the singlespeed but the fit is horrible and I hate 26" wheels. So...today I am ordering up some stuff to start building the blue bike. I'm not giving up too many details right now but will post pics when parts start coming in.

Stealing

I normally don't steal things but I robbed this right off Curiak's blog. Sorry Mike. It really IS funny.