Thursday, June 27, 2013

Magical Water

Today after completing my chores and receiving permission from Heather I decided to head out to one of the reservoirs outside of town. I generally always choose Spinney because I don't have good history with the others. About a week before leaving for Mexico, I told Heather that I had never been skunked in my secret cove at Spinney. This was true. Until today. This is what I was throwing for 5 hours today (in different colors). With a wire leader. That is a workout. It's always difficult casting from a belly boat because you are so close to the surface of the water but I paid much closer attention to my form today and was covering a lot more water than normal. I covered some sexy water today but came up trumps. Shit happens some times. 

It was hot as hell on the water. My thermometer was showing in the low 90's. I thought for sure there might be some big Pike lingering/sunning in the shallows or waiting for prey in the transition spots but I think that window has closed for the most part for the season. Although I didn't see shit all day so I think it might have been too hot.

I saw this older gal when I left town and again when I came back to town. She was driving a pimpin' pink classic Thunderbird. It looked super rad but would look better with fly rods hanging out the back and heading to the water.

Not long after I got on the water I noticed the end of my rod appeared bent. This is an 8 weight carbon rod from Temple Fork Outfitters. I really dig these rods and also have a 5 weight that I abuse the shit out of. Tons of guys break their rods down after they're done for the day. Not me. I throw it in the green wagon and do it again the next day. This 8 weight doesn't see much action at all but I'm gonna start using it more. At least I planned on doing that. There are no cracks in the carbon at all. It's not pinched. I don't know what happened. I have an email into the folks at TF to see if they have any ideas or know if they can fix it.

Tomorrow is Friday and I will fish the moving water. The flows at Spinney Ranch are finally where they need to be and things should be settling in and fish should be setting up. Water flow is so critical. It impacts so many things like plant life, aquatic life, bug reproductivity, water temps, and fishing. When the water is low it gets hotter. When it gets hotter it doesn't hold as much oxygen. When it doesn't hold as much oxygen, the fish can't breathe as well. When this happens the chances of reviving a fish after a fight are decreased. When the water temps creep up too high, I don't fish. It's just too hard on them. I don't know what the fuck is going on with the flows in Cheesman Canyon but it's not good. Flows are almost 200 cubic feet per second lower than average right now. I wish the Department of Water Resources would open up the dam. I would love to sit and have a beer with someone from DWR and learn more about what controls the flows. What determines when it's time to open the valves? It's gotta be more complex than simply drinking water.

Water always makes me think. Sometimes I sit and watch the river. I pick a piece of water and follow it through the rapids while taking a break. I see the bubbles and follow them. At Spinney Ranch they flow into 11 Mile Reservoir. Then through the dam. Through the canyon. Towards Denver. It flows through Nebraska and eventually dumps into the Missouri which then meets up with the Mighty Mississippi just north of St. Louis. I often think it's interesting that I proposed to my kick ass wife on the banks of the South Platte (at the end of the fence line at the third parking lot if you must know). I never go the that place and fail to think of Heather. As a side note, I was nervous as hell that day and not fishing well. I finally landed a Kokanee Salmon and placed the ring in the net. I handed her the net after I also placed a clump of grass in it and asked if she would remove the grass carefully while I revived the Salmon. She found the ring and I was already on one knee and proposed. My wife was raised on 30 acres at the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi. I never really put that all together until after we were already married. It just seemed like the "right place" to ask her to be with my dumb ass for the REST OF HER LIFE. Anyway...that drop of water eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. One day...that same drop will find it's way back to the South Platte. Maybe right when I'm standing there. So magical. This is the kind of shit that I think about when I am on the water.

Back from Mexico

Heather and I just got back from 8 days in Mexico. This time we stayed at the Excellence in Isla Majeres. It was amazing. This is the first trip we have taken to Mexico where I have not been at least thinking about riding my bike. Didn't think about it at all. Never set foot in the gym. Completely relaxing. Except for the fishing. Heather booked me a full day on a skiff with a guide and we fished the flats and Mangroves. My guide Bernardo picked me up at 5:45 and we were off to the marina. The term "marina" is a bit misleading here. It was not what I expected. Very run down with really nasty dogs running around. There were dilapidated skiffs all over and, for a second, I was worried. Then I got over it. This is the only dock at the marina. 

After we got the skiff loaded up and the motor started, we idled out towards the deeper water and this was the way the sun looked as it started to come up. I thought this scene was amazing. I did nothing to edit this picture. The first location was about a 20 minute boat ride and it was nothing but flats as far as you could see. The wind was fairly calm but it was never still. I should mention that this was my first time fly fishing in salt water and the first time ever being on a skiff so I didn't know what to expect. Now, I consider myself to be a better than average fly fisherman when on the river. My ability to spot fish, cast a nymph rig or a streamer rig are all very good. I quickly learned that this was going to be a long 8 hours. I knew the casts were going to have to be longer for salt water but not as long as they had to be. Factor in the wind and the fact that these fish are cruising (normally quite quickly) and you are balancing on the bow of a skiff and it's a whole new ball game. Trout generally set up in a lane and only move a little bit but they are set up when feeding so it is very possible to work a single trout for an hour as long as they don't spook. This is not the case on salt water. You have 2 maybe 3 shots at a fish or a school that is moving so you have to be able to cast quickly and accurately. Try getting 90 feet of line out in 2 front false casts and 2 rear false casts before finally making you're final cast. The fish are now 15 feet to the right (or left, or closer to you or farther away) than they initially were so you have to be taking this into account during your false casting. If your fly doesn't land correctly it's game over. If your retrieve isn't nuts on it's game over. When it's game over, you start from scratch, glassing the water and try the whole process again. I think I generally spot trout better than a lot of people I fish with and I couldn't see shit in Mexico. There were plenty of times when my guide was yelling at me to cast 25 yards at 2 o'clock but I was blind. Very humbling for me.

It must have been close to 3 hours and several location changes before we started consistently seeing fish (mostly Bonefish and Permit). Finally, I was beginning to be able to spot fish (sometimes on my own but mostly after being told which direction they were cruising). The first hookup came when I was able to see the small school and put the fly in the right spot with the right fall and the right retrieve and they turned on a dime and started following it. After several minutes of fighting the fish, Bernardo was giggling and I asked what was so funny, and apparently I had caught a less than desirable fish. The Jack Crevalle. It fought very hard for it's size and was peeling plenty of line off the 8 weight rod. As I was reeling in I looked over my shoulder and asked if the Bone would fight harder and he just laughed.  I scooped up the Jack, took a picture (which Bernardo didn't understand) and released it.

Maybe 20 minutes later, we saw another school and, again, I was able to put it all together and see the whole thing unfold. This time it was a Bonefish and immediately I said, "Holy fuck." Bernard didn't speak much English at all but he understood that and was doubled over and leaning on the pole. I could not believe how hard the fish fought. It immediately made a run that went straight into the backing. I have never had a fish take me into the backing before. I made some ground on it but it made several more runs down into the backing and each time it went I was so glad my knuckles were not in the way because the handle on the reel would have hurt at the rate it was going. It probably took 15 minutes to get this fish to the boat. Wish there was sound here because all that could be heard was the drag screaming.

My first Bonefish. I was really impressed with Bernardo's care for the fish. One of the best parts of fly fishing for me is the revival process and making sure that the fish is ok before finally letting it slide out of your hand. He took great care of each fish that he handled to make sure that it was ok. I have caught trout that were easily twice as big as this Bone. I was amazed at the power it had.

Near 11 o'clock we decided to hit the Mangroves and look for Tarpon. I was very excited about this. Tarpon are much bigger and I was hoping they would be easier for me to spot but they hide themselves in the shadows very well. There was a school just hanging around the group of Mangroves on the right in this picture and we watched them for 10 minutes while Bernardo told me what needed to happen to catch one. Lead them by 5 or 6 feet. Strip as soon as the fly hits the water. Not too quick. Not too slow. Never stop the movement. Faster once you get their attention and they begin to move. I won't lie, it took me several casts to get the fly in the right spot. I had a fish hit and was immediately shocked at how hard the pull was. I stopped stripping in that instant and lost the fish. We let the school calm down for another 10 minutes and started in again. They would cruise in a circle maybe 20 foot in diameter and the plan was to put the fly in their path and let it sit until they got close and then start stripping. Again, Bernardo told me to be ready and DO NOT let dis feeeesh get to da mangroves. OK. Again the take was so violent and happened so fast that I didn't have much say in the matter. Before I knew what was going on it had darted straight to the mangroves and then ran to the right. It popped out of the trees 20 yards to the right and did a spectacular jump while it gulped air and filled its swim bladder to get ready to fight. Bernardo only said, "Told you not do dat!" I do not know how the line didn't break but it was almost like it cut straight through 50 branches. Completely free. The fight was on.

It took 20 minutes to get this tarpon to the boat and I was ecstatic. Such a beautiful creature. It took a long time for this one to be ready to go but finally it cruised away from the boat and started gulping air before, eventually, re-joining the school.

We fished for several more hours after this. I caught a Barracuda and made several more casts to tarpon but was not able to get any more which was fine. It was an amazing and very hot day on the water. I learned a ton of lessons. Before we started the day, I asked Bernardo how old he was. He said he was 21 but I'd be surprised if he was even 18. He put me on a lot of fish that I blew. I know there were times that he was frustrated with me. He said he had been guiding for about a year and there were times when I questioned whether or not he had me in the right position to make my casts. Don't get me wrong, I fucked up plenty of casts and, like I said, I've never been on a skiff before. I'll be anxious to talk to friends who have and see what they say about some of the positions of the boat that seemed off to me. I never questioned Bernardo (although I came very close in the last 2 hours when I was very frustrated with myself). I don't think he would have understood though because there was a big language barrier. There were several times where I would be false casting and he would shout out, "To da left. More left. More left!!" Each time I would correct and he would scream louder, "Left!!!" I finally realized that he didn't know the English words "left" or "right." He had them switched. The boy was deadly with a fly rod though. I like watching people cast. He could punch the better part of that fly line straight into a headwind.

I found holes in my fly fishing game during this trip that I never knew existed. I need to learn to cast farther. I need to learn to deal with windy conditions better. Here in Colorado, fly fishing is equivalent to more like putting is in golf. We have a relatively short game. Even if you're gonna pitch streamers and you're quartering them downstream, it's not that long of a cast. I need to be able to cast twice as far with a bigger fly. Heather asked if I would do it again. Oh fuck yes. When I first started fly fishing for trout, I routinely got my ass handed to me. If I had quit, I would not be where I am today. I cannot wait for our next trip to the flats. I even told Heather, "Ya know...we should look into relocating to the beach." Maybe...Cabo. Until then, I'll settle for chasing trout here in the Rockies and I'll for sure start to fish more still water where I can learn more. It's always good to challenge yourself.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I was up late last night thinking about the situation with the Honda. I hate to simply throw money at a problem unless I know for sure that it's gonna solve something. I could not find anything on the ole interweb that talked about exactly how the brake fluid was distributed on this car. I was under the impression that one of the chambers in the master cylinder sent fluid and power to the drivers left front disc as well as the passenger right rear and that the other chamber went criss cross apple sauce. I did not think the power was simply split between front and rear. This morning I pulled the master cylinder off and put it in a vise and pushed the piston in and only got fluid out of one line. I was 99% sure the master was bad so eventually I ordered one. It showed up at 5. I had it bench bled and installed in 20 minutes. Then I started bleeding one of the brakes. It took forever but I knew it was coming. Finally, I got fluid. In another 40 minutes I had all 4 brakes bled and the car was back on the ground and ready for burnouts. Or just a test ride. I am so happy. I hate not being able to figure out a problem with something mechanical because it's really not all that complicated. I am very confident that the problem all along was with the master cylinder so I only wasted a bit of time at the junk yard and 10 dollars. But if a shop had done this work I'd be in the hole hundreds of dollars so I'm ahead of the game. The car still needs loads of work but at least I feel it's safe for the kid to drive. Next up will be a rear wheel bearing. About 15 years ago I bought the tools to install similar bearings on VW's and I still need to use them 2 more times in order to pay them off. This bearing HOWLS. I expect it to be dust when I get into it. The other big issue is that we don't know when the timing belt was done last so it's time. This is a single overhead cam motor so there's not much going on but any timing belt is a big job and the water pump is under all that too so it gets done as well as the thermostat. For now, I'm taking some time off to fish.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I have always wanted to buy broken down cars, repair them and flip them but I've never done it. It might be a means for a bit of income during the summer months but really it would just be a hobby I think. In the middle of trying to get this CB650 up and running, I had someone ask if I was interested in working on a Honda Civic. I said yes and now I'm kinda wishing I hadn't. It's rare for me to get pissy while wrenching. I did quite a bit of work to it but sometimes I need to chew on things for a while before I put 2 and 2 together and it feels like I need to hurry on this one. During the course of the front disc and rear drum brake job, the rears would not bleed. The fronts worked fine but I never tried to bleed them. A day later while having dinner with Heather at PF Changs I was thinking about the issue (while still listening to her of course). Why would fluid not get to the rear wheel cylinders? I started working on it again today.

This car has 2 lines coming off the master cylinder and they lead to the brake proportioning valve which has 4 more lines (one for reach corner coming off it). I traced the 2 lines for the rear brakes back to the PV, removed them and had someone press the pedal. No fluid moving. Then I removed a front line. Fluid moving. I automatically assumed it was a valve issue. Honda gets $150 for that thing but I scored one from the junk yard for $10. I installed it and had fluid for the rears at the valve but not at the wheel cylinders. Very inconsistent. In hindsight, I should have gone one step further and seen if both lines at the master cylinder were moving fluid. After several hours of trying to bleed the brakes and scratching my head I began to look at the master cylinder. Brakes not wanting to "pump up" is usually a sign of a bad master cylinder but I wanted to be sure. I removed one of the lines off the master cylinder and had Heather slowly apply pressure to the pedal and got no fluid to come out. In fact, I even cracked a bleeder on a rear brake and sat there pumping the breaks for 15 minutes and never had fluid move at all (zero drop in the reservoir). I'm pretty sure I was dealing with a shitty master cylinder all along here. It's $80 for a new one. Pisses me off. I just wanna be sure. Still trying to figure out if I'm gonna buy one in the morning.

Still trying to figure out who, in their right mind, buys a used car with 4 different tires on it (some with belts hanging out) and a drivers door that doesn't work? I'm not even gonna mention the spray painted interior. I gotta keep this thing in the garage for fear of what my HOA would say.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Tour Divide started on Friday. Not gonna lie...I'm having a bit of a hard time not riding much. Yesterday morning after watching Trackleaders and seeing what some of the riders were up to I decided to get out for a small ride. I rode my old Marin 26" MTB. It looks like a circus bike with all the steer tube under the stem. I brought along my rock climbing shoes and chalk bag and rode about 4 miles out of town to do some bouldering. I haven't done this in a long time. It was fun but I'd rather be riding I think. There was a bunch of house sized boulders all stacked up on each other and I was able to leap frog from one to the other until I was at the top. Way above town. I sat there for about an hour. Listening. Thinking. I left when a storm blew in and pedaled home. Less than 10 miles and my neck was sore.

I'm trying to stay busy. I am fishing way more than in previous summers and that's a great thing. I've always talked about guiding during the summers and maybe this is a sign that I need to look into it. I've been taking on projects. The CB650 was super fun. The 98 Honda Civic that I worked on for the last 2 days was not. I installed all new belts, front rotors and pads, rear drums and shoes, plugs/wires, oil and filter, adjusted the drives door at the hinges so it closed properly, and it still needs a timing belt, water pump, thermostat, new shocks, and rear wheel bearings. It's a huge turd.

I feel a tad lost.

CB650 Project is Done

Well the CB650 is done. Well. If it belonged to me there would be a lot more that I would do but the owner is happy. He basically wanted me to get it running and then, assuming it ran well, install new exhaust. I had the bike running about a week ago. It ran like crap because the exhaust was all rotted out and I'm sure this was impacting the compression but I thought it would be ok with the new exhaust. So he plunked down $325 for that. It arrived earlier last week and I went to pick it up. There was some mis-communication when ordering the exhaust though. What we got was replacement mufflers. He thought he was getting a full exhaust (including the headers). I was told by a mechanic at the shop that this would work but that I would have to get the mufflers welded on. This did not seem correct to me because the pieces were nice and shiny from the chrome. There were no instructions with the exhaust either. I finally talked with another mechanic and he spent over an hour with me trying to figure out if these would work and, if so, how to make that happen. The replacement mufflers we got will only work on a CB650 Custom and, as I found out, it's very difficult to tell if you have a Custom model or not. Well...I do. In the end, we figured out that in order to make this work we would need to cut the headers off the one piece stock exhaust system. Below is the H pipe that is welded into each side of the stock exhaust. I needed to make cuts in the headers as close as possible to the welds on the far right. I used a pneumatic cutoff wheel. Then the mufflers simply slide on. The trick is making sure you have enough header inside the muffler and, apparently, this will not work with a standard 650.  

This is the right side all adjusted and bolted up. You can barely see where the headers slide into the muffler just below the side cover.

This picture makes it look like the mufflers are not even but, if you know me, they are. To the 1/16 of an inch in all directions. The left side was a bit more difficult to get adjusted correctly because of the kickstand and center stand but eventually it came together.

The bike looks so much better with this exhaust and it sounds really nice. I took it out last night for a drive on the side streets through town and saw no less than 3 police cars. The plates are 2 years old but I'm happy to say that I did not get pulled over. It's hard to believe that this bike is over 30 years old and has never had any real work done to it. No valve adjustments, no re-builds, nothing. The carbs have never been removed for even a cleaning. This has been a super fun little project and it's got my gears turning. It might be time to start thinking about a project for myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer of the Fly

I've caught several small Northern Pike over the years while fishing at any of the reservoirs around here but it's always been on spinning gear. I have always wanted to catch a bigger one on a fly. Yesterday I decided to go to Spinney Reservoir and fish big streamers with my 8 weight rod. During this time of year, the bigger Pike like to come into the shallows and sun themselves. They also like to hang out near structure like weeds and grass and wait to ambush their prey. They are a nasty fish for sure. I had scouted some coves when I still had the canoe so I knew where I wanted to be. I waded out as far as I could and started casting. After about 30 minutes, I caught a typical Rainbow that was about 18" but that's not what I wanted. I continued to work the back of one cove. As I stripped in a big Clouser Minnow, the line suddenly went tight but it really didn't appear like a strike but more like the hook just got hung up on something. Thinking I was snagged, I raised the rod up and felt resistance but no movement. Snagged. Then I used both hands and really leaned back and I could feel that I was lifting whatever I was hooked on up. I just figured it was a rock or a stick and it was budging. Then I felt the head shake and it started peeling off line. Sticks and rocks don't do that. 

I freaked out. The reel I was using has a horrible drag and I didn't want the line to break so I let off the drag and pointed the rod tip straight in the direction of the run. It finally stopped and I made some headway but this happened several more times. Finally I could see the end of my fly line so I knew I was close. Then I saw the shadow and finally, the head. I know I was talking during the whole time. It was then that I realized that I had not put any wire leader on and was only using bigger monofilament. Out of instinct, I grabbed my net and went to scoop the fish up but then laughed when I realized that the head would barely fit in let alone the entire body. I had been stepping back towards shore while fighting the fish and was now in shin deep water and decided to just try to drag it out. I got in several inches of water and pounced on it. It was like a wild bull and I was covered in mud. 

Eventually I got the hook out of it's boney mouth and tried to get a few pics and measured it against my rod. This would have been a perfect fish to keep but I never do that so I didn't have a cooler or a fillet knife and it was a decent hike back to the car. The DOW does not want these fish in the reservoir but I didn't feel right just leavinging it on the bank so I revived it and watched it slowly glide away as I tried to stop shaking and catch my breath. These Pike do hurt the trout population but man are they impressive. They are so aggressive. I can see why many people target these fish specifically. This was probably the best shot I could get of the fish. Super disappointed that nobody was there to get a decent shot of me holding the fish. 

I caught another, smaller one right after this but it broke the line right as I was grabbing it. This is the fly I was using for the bigger Pike. It was destroyed. Now it hangs near my tying bench.

I drove below the dam to fish the moving water and had an incredible day. The fishing has been tough lately on this stretch of river because Denver Water keeps jacking with the flows but in the 2 hours that I fished the river I probably had 15 fish to the net. Here's one of the Brown's.

A small Rainbow who was eager to take a San Juan Worm I had tied the day before.

Another Brown.

The day wouldn't be complete if I didn't bring about 6 of these to the net. The Division of Wildlife is doing a survey along the river right now and probably for most of the summer. They have divided the river into 3 beats. The upper most beat has had significant work done to it (with boulders and structure being added). They are trying to get an idea of how that beat fishes in comparison to the other 2 to see if putting similar structure in place along the entire river is worthwhile. They're running around asking anglers to keep track of their time on the water as well as how many fish they have landed and their size and species. I got to talking with one of the guys after my survey about the Sucker fish. He said that during the last electrical shock study, that 50% of the fish in this stretch of the river were Suckers. I was stunned. Prior to this year, I had never caught one here. I admitted to him that there have been a few times where I have thrown them on the bank for the birds but he said that the Biologists want them in the water. He was just as miffed as I was but apparently, the Biologists feel that the smaller Suckers benefit the trout because the Brown's will eat them. We both agreed that the bigger 18-20" Suckers should probably be killed but until they actually device a plan, I will now continue to release them. I worry though about what will happen to one of the best Gold Medal stretches in the state if anglers begin to catch as many Suckers as they do trout.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Subaru Thermostat

I have had 2 people contact me about auto repair related things that they have come across here while searching for answers. I am writing up what I did this morning for that and because it seems that many of the folks that work on their Subies are younger and, for some reason, they don't document this sort of thing so it can be hard to find DIY's for repairs. I'm not used to that because the Jeep crowd will tell you what the symptoms were, what part numbers they used, provide photos of the repair along with an explanation and a final end result. It seems that many of the Subie forums are focused on wheel fitment and sticker bombs. 

A while ago, I talked about the erratic overheating issues that I've been having. The first step was I wanted to rule out a faulty temp gauge, sensor or electrical issue. I installed a secondary temp gauge and...waited. Well yesterday the secondary temp gauge got up to 200 and then the stock gauge went up so I pulled over and found coolant near the lower corner of the radiator, drivers side. Now, the radiators on Subarus are aluminum with plastic ends and, quite often, the connection between the plastic and aluminum is where leaks occur. I opened up the overflow tank and it was...overflowing. So I was not sure if the coolant leaking was from the overflow or a faulty radiator. Typically, a leaking radiator doesn't cause an overheating issue. Just a mess. While it's possible that my radiator is blocked and, thus causing overheating, the next logical (cost efficient) thing to look at was the thermostat. It is not uncommon for a faulty thermostat to open randomly, or not open all the way. So I wanted to get everything cleaned up, install a new thermostat and, like before, wait to see what happens next. I suppose one could just order a new radiator but I like to know exactly what the problem is/was. 

This repair is being done on a 2002 Impreza Outback Sport. It is very difficult to find DIY's on the OBS. Most things you find will be for the WRX which uses a slightly different radiator because of the turbo cooler. This is the motor after I got home yesterday and pulled the coolant overflow and the drivers side fan. Both are held in with 2 10mm bolts up top. Remove those and lift the tank out after disconnecting the hose form the filler neck. Disconnect the plug for the fan (located underneath) and wiggle that thing out of there. I did this because I really wanted to have a better look at the bottom of the rad. It did not appear that the leak was coming from there. This is good because finding a rad for the OBS was quite difficult yesterday. In fact, I never actually found one other than the stock unit which the dealer wanted $360 for. You can get all aluminum rads from Koyo or Mishimoto for about that price although Rally Sport Direct did not have ANY for the OBS. For the thermostat, most of the time I would never buy a thermostat from the dealer but you SHOULD in this case. I have read loads of threads about issues with non-OEM thermostats. Go to the dealer, bend over and get ready to pay about $40. I will say, it is a big thermostat. Much bigger than ones I've seen in V8 motors. It comes with the gasket. 

Next, jack up your car and put it on stands. It's probably a good idea to unbolt the negative terminal on the battery so the fans don't come on. The t-stat is located under the car. Just follow the lower rad hose and you will see the t-stat housing. Remove the hose clamp, make sure you're drain bucket is under the housing and then pry the hose off. This may take some persuasion. Push the hose up out of the way and use a 12mm socket to remove the 2 bolts on the housing.

This is the thermostat. Notice where the coolant is leaking from. That hole is called a jiggle pin. The only real way you can screw up this simple repair is to not have that pin towards the front of the motor. It allows air bubbles to escape. Pry out the old t-stat.

Wipe off the surfaces with a clean rag. The t-stat housing is plastic so make sure there are no cracks in it. You will notice that the ears of the housing have metal sleeves. Don't get crazy tightening this back on or you will crack the plastic. Push the new t-stat into place. You will feel the gasket kind of seat in it's location. Put the housing back on and thread the bolts in. As you tighten it, you will feel the gasket compress and finally the bolts will come tight. Give it a bit more. Reconnect the rad hose.

At this point you are ready to fill up the rad. This car has a filler neck on the rad itself. The WRX does not so if you have a WRX, use the turbo cooler (it's the highest point in the system) to fill. Slowly fill it up. At this point, I cleaned the subframe of all the coolant that leaked the day before and then reinstalled the fan and overflow tank. You are pretty much ready to start it up now. One of the most important things about these cars is making sure to burp the system of any air. If there are air pockets in the system you will see those sporadic overheating issues. Motor gets hot temporarily when a bubble passes through and cools down once it leaves. A lot of people say to turn on the blower motor to 4 and set the heat for hot when you start the car up. The reason is to move coolant through the heater core and chase out any bubbles that may have entered during the draining/refilling process. I think the coolant always flows through the heater core in these cars but I'm not sure so it's good insurance. I leave the rad cap off while the car is running. You will start to see bubbles coming up the filler neck.

Be patient because this may take a while. The t-stat from Subaru is a 76 degree (C) one (172F). I let the car idle for as long as it takes to get to operating temp (although I do shut off the heat after about 10 minutes or the car takes forever to get up to temp). Eventually, my t-stat opened up (you'll know because that lower rad hose will get hot), and more bubbles came out as coolant moved through the block. Make sure you don't have anything in the way of the fans because that drivers once will come on. Put the cap back on, fill the overflow to the full mark. You are done.

I will drive it like this and see what happens. I am hoping to not have another overheat issue. If I do, then all that's left in the system is hoses, rad, and water pump. Doing a t-stat is easy, relatively cheap, and probably should be done more often because it can cause such a huge issue with warping the heads  and/or leading to costly head gasket issues which I truly hope is not the case with this car because the motor only has 60,000 on it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Did you ever get that feeling...

That you know how something is going to turn out but you never really know unless someone that is more educated/wise tells you for sure? I've had that feeling for the last few weeks. The last 2 days, in particular, were really strange. The issue is one of the discs in my neck. After Kokopellis, I didn't/couldn't ride for a few weeks because of the pain. My primary care doctor sent in a referral for my spinal doctor about 2 weeks ago and I still haven't heard anything. He also gave me some pain killers and muscle relaxers to get me by. When I don't ride, the pain subsides. I rode the other day and had almost immediate pain. Last summer I got a Cortisone injection but it's all done. I'm sure my spinal doctor will want to do another MRI and then I hope to get another injection but I don't know that someone can get an injection every year. I also don't know what long term damage continuing to ride might cause. The doctor and I talked about this issue and cycling before so I'm pretty sure what his recommendation is going to be. The issues are not caused my bike fit. They are likely caused by genetics, a long ago trampoline incident, and all of the endurance riding I've done in the last 6 years. In the back of my head, I am pretty sure my doctor is going to recommend that I find something else to do other than cycling. Cycling has been a huge part of my life. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Do not take the smallest thing for granted. Ever.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fishing is not a pain in the neck.

Yesterday I rode for 3 hours and my disc was killing me. Today I fished for 4 and my neck was fine. I truly do think it's just time for me to re-evaluate what cycling looks like for me. If it looks like anything at all. When I got to the river it was super windy and cloudy but I rigged up a double nymph rig with a flashback pheasant tail and a Barr emerger. I saw this sucker set up in a riffle and he was feeding. These garbage fish compete directly with the trout for food and sometimes when we're bored or taking a break, my buddy Scott and I will see who can foul hook one. Kinda mean...yes. What's worse is that I usually kill these or toss them to the birds. This fish took the pheasant tail and it's the first sucker that I have ever fair hooked. I felt it was a sign and I let him go. 

Heather says this is an Iris. I just thought it was pretty.

It didn't take long for a storm to roll in over the Divide. It passed just south of me but it offered enough darkness that I quickly switched over to a streamer and started catching trout. I didn't get any pictures of the trout but one of them was about 12" and he crushed a Meat Whistle. Just before I went to cradle it, it broke off and made out with some fancy jewelry. I would love to be there when someone catches that small fish with that 3" fly caught in the corner of it's mouth.

This is not potoshopped. This sucker took this streamer pattern. That's 2 suckers with totally fair hook sets in one day. This is actually the fly that I lost in the mouth of that ballsy Rainbow. Because this was also a fair hook, I felt as if I had to abide by the same rule for the other sucker. I let it go.

Another storm blowing in.

I hit rush hour on the way home and these 2 little ones did not want to move.

This cow elk and her calf were hanging out by the road as I came by. The calf took off but mom stuck around for a photo.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rampart Reservoir 2013

Just last week the singletrack around Rampart Reservoir re-opened for the first time since the Waldo Canyon fire. I wanted to get up and check it out because this is one of my favorite rides. It is beautiful. With nothing but sight seeing and checking out the damage from the fire on the agenda, I started pedaling. It was pretty surreal. This is a slideshow of some of the pictures I took.

RR2013 from Chris Neumann on Vimeo.

This ride was about 4 hours total and it was a really mellow pace. After the 2 hour mark, my neck started to lock up and, shortly after that, the pain got worse. I'm 40. I'm worried. I love riding my bike and there's some things that I was still hoping to do. I'd like to do the Colorado Trail one more time and I've always wanted to do the Tour Divide. My doctor says that I should reconsider things. I'm worried that if these neck issues continue that I will be 50 and feeling like I'm 65 and that's no way to live. I hope to get back into my spinal doctor by the end of the week and see what he recommends as the next step but the chances of me doing this weekends ride in Salida are slim now and that's a shame because it's a fun race.