Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Marshal called me this morning and wanted to go ride the trails in Pueblo. We got in a good 4 hour ride on nothing but trails. The Salsa continues to impress me. Not much more to say. My first race may be on these trails in the later part of April. I took a few pictures along the way today. Hope everyone got out for a spin. Thanks for checkin' in.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Subaru nuances

For weeks now I've been needing to take care of some stuff on the Subie. The first issue was a horrible squeak somewhere in the clutch system that they all seem to eventually suffer from. This actually turned out to be 2 squeaks that were happening at the exact same time. It was odd because the system is hydraulic but one piece slid through a rubber boot and sounded like a small bird. The worst part was a spring located on the clutch fork down inside the bellhousing of the transmission. It was a joy to get to. It was sealed with a rubber boot and all I can think of is that it was corroded with clutch dust. I finally got it to be quiet.

The next issue I've been having is during cold starts when it's in the teens or lower in the morning. The car starts right up but then almost immediately falls on it's face. If it's cold enough it will actually die (but it's gotta be damn cold for that to happen) but usually it just bogs for a second and then the rpm's jump way back up again until it's warm. The computer isn't throwing any codes yet so I'm kinda guessing at this point. My first thought was the Idle Air Control Valve. I removed it first.

This was right after pulling it off. The motor now has about 50,000 miles on it but this thing was really clean so I was a bit disappointed. Anyway...I carefully cleaned it with alcohol and Q Tips.

This the throttle body where the IACV is mounted. Spotless. I didn't even clean it.

I also removed the throttle body and cleaned it out but it was pretty dang clean too. I'm still learning this motor and car but I was told to clean the Mass Air Flow Sensor as well. I gave up looking for it after 30 seconds. There isn't one on this car. Then I thought...maybe that's why it's acting up? Then I realized that this car uses a Manifold Pressure Sensor. Interesting because the late 90's Subies did have a MAF. I removed the MAP and cleaned it with an electronic cleaner but it was really clean as well so I'm not optimistic about that either. I guess we'll see what happens on the next really cold morning. I love working on cars and spending time in the garage.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thompson stem

I went down to look at stems today because I'm still struggling with my neck and upper back. The fellas at Colorado Cyclist were kind enough to let me install this 120mm, zero degree stem and go for a ride in the balmy 13 degree temps to see if it was any better. It raised the bars another 20mm and brought them back 5 mm. Unfortunately, I'm in pain just standing so I couldn't really tell much of a difference on my lovely test ride but it sure can't be any worse. I like their seatposts but haven't ever been a huge fan of their stems but it's not nearly as bulky as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps once the arctic conditions up here subside, I can get out for a little jaunt.

Gooood Lawwwwd that's a helluva lot of spacers. I look at all of my other bikes and just cringe when I see the drop from seat to bars.

I wonder if the folks at Eriksen could whip me up a set of titanium ape hangers? Even that probably wouldn't look as odd as this wannabe snow bike.

After I left the bike shop I went to the Urgent Care to get some x-rays done on my neck. I'm really hoping they show something that would explain the pain. Not a day goes by that I wish I hadn't heard that 5 year old dare me about NOT being able to do a front flip on her trampoline. No way that thing was regulation size. Because of her I now gotta ride around lookin' like a damn fool on a bike fit for the circus.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Playing in the garage

Today I got my custom Fred Bar from Erik and I couldn't help but head straight to the garage to play around. I have had Tour Divide on the brain for several weeks now. I still think about some other things but it feels good to get excited about another kind of adventure. I've been reading tons of info, blogs, forums, etc. and this has been nice because I've even made some minor changes to how I intend to pack my gear this year. The undertaking for that route is going to be huge so I'm sure the head start on planning won't hurt. I feel pretty confident in my ability to pick the appropriate gear to bring along for a trip of that magnitude but the logistics truly do intimidate me. Many of the areas of the northern section are not an area to fool around in so you really wanna have your ducks in a row. My friend Marshal did his homework and I saw a lot of his handy work so I plan on asking him for help with making my own maps that show services, profiles, and cue sheets.

Because of the issues/pain I'm having with my neck, I have a whole lot of spacers under my stem right now and I'm still not happy. Going to a zero degree stem should raise the bars another 20mm so I should be able to remove some of the spacers. This is how the Fred-like bar should mount.

I was a bit surprised when I stepped back to look at how high this thing put the aero bars.'s only because of how high I have to run my flat bars now.

Then I installed the aero bars on the flat bars. This time they felt just a touch too low.

This is with the pads spaced out about 10mm higher with some Lexan spacers and longer bolts. This felt good for the few seconds I sat on it. Just the fit aspect of setting up a bike for something like Tour Divide is really going to be a process.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Tonight I realized that tomorrow it will be a week since my last ride right before this storm rolled in and we got dumped on. It was cold last Wednesday night. Cold enough that I only stopped for this one lousy pic. This is water that has frozen after dripping out of a drainage pipe just above town. In the winter it gets huge. No shrinkage here. This is probably close to 12 feet tall. It's damn cold tonight and there will be no riding. As of now, I have only one bike that is totally rideable and it can't be ridden on the trainer and I couldn't be happier about that as I'd rather ride outside in the cold than sit on that stupid thing and grind it out. Thankfully I don't have to be in any condition to ride long distances for a bit. Although April will be here soon and that's when things are starting for me this year.

It's been a little nasty up here the last week. Pretty darn cold and still snowing off and on. I spent a lot of time indoors over the weekend except for a few errands and a trip to the movies (seriously expected more out of Liam Neeson's new one The Grey). To pass the time I decided to make something that I openly admit to stealing from Don's website and that, apparently, he stole from someone else's site.

I've tried a lot of different things when it comes to making fire for warmth or cooking food. Most of the time when I'm traveling light, I don't bring a stove and if I find myself needing to cook something, I get creative with a small fire and rocks. Normally, a small Bic lighter is all I bring to make the fire as we generally always have enough dry stuff up here. But...I thought these were neat so I made some up and I'll try them in the spring once the overnighters start.

You're gonna need a candle, some of those cotton facial cleansing things, something to melt the candle in, and then something to pick up the final product while it's hot. I did not have any of those disposable aluminum pie tins so I put some foil in a sauce pan so my wife wouldn't get mad at me.

Put the candle in and turn the heat on low and let it start melting.

Once you've got some liquid wax in the bottom of the pan, remove the candle and throw one of those cotton things in. It will quickly absorb the wax. Grab it with something and set it out to dry. Don likes to use tweezers for this but I'm more of a chopstick guy myself.

This is the finished product. You can toss these in a ziplock bag and when you need to get a fire going, you take one out and kinda rip/break it almost in half. When you do this, it will expose the cotton fiber. I was able to get one lit quite easily with a magnesium/flint starter and even easier with the Bic. One wafer will burn for about 5 minutes and you can build a really nice tipi of kindling around this and get things going. I don't know that I'll use these much as I generally don't have too much trouble with just a Bic and that would be lighter but it's always fun to make gear or take existing gear and modify it. Thanks for letting me steal this Don.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The sun

Found this pic I had taken last weekend on the summit of Ute Pass just outside of town. It's rare that we don't see the sun for a few days here but it's been 2 days now of nothing but snow.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Maybe a week or so ago Erik Lobeck threw this little number up on the classifieds of bikepacking dot net. I was probably one of the first ones to see it and knew right then that I wanted it but I held off. I kept checking back every day or so and found it getting some attention. I thought for sure it would sell quickly. I checked back today and saw it was still there and then got a hold of him and made him an offer on it and he'll be sending it my way on Monday.

It's an odd piece that most people probably won't recognize. Several year's ago there was a West Coast custom frame builder that did a short run of what they called the "Fred Bar". It was aluminum and about the same dimensions as this one. It was created for people that wanted to install aero bars on their mountain bikes for things like Tour Divide and not have to have the position of their handlebar compromised in order to do so.

Erik is from Steamboat Springs and he's sponsored by Moots. In 2010 he's the guy that slugged it out with Matt Lee but he was relegated for an incident that I didn't agree with so I like him. These are very hard to find which is why I'm sure Erik had the folks at Moots build this one.

Basically this is a simple and ingenious inch and a half long stem that mounts above your existing stem. The aero bars mount to the short handlebar section welded to the stem. You can run riser bars (which make aero bars hard to install) and they also make it way easy to still connect things to the bars like compression bags, lights, GPS, etc.

I really like the fact that this puts the aero bars a lot higher and back towards the rider so you don't have to lean over as much. This will impact the position of the knees over the bottom bracket area less and take a whole lot of pressure of the triceps for really long days.

Obviously, it's titanium so it doesn't way a lot either.

So why did I snatch this up? Because I've been itching to do the Tour Divide for a few years now. I just have not been really comfy with the idea of it until I finished another long local ride that absolutely haunts me. I'm taking a bit of a different approach to things this year and know it will be good for me. Mainly, I am not putting all of my eggs into one basket. I may do the CT as an ITT but I'd sure like to start with the group since Waterton Canyon will be open again and I just really like the camaraderie of the grand depart. Regardless, I've got quite a few other long rides already lined up. So with that said...I'm going on record now as saying that I intend to line up in Banff for the 2013 Tour Divide. I think it will be a great adventure for my 40th year.