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Back in 2008 I thought I was going to attempt Tour Divide.  I figured I’d kit up the Racer X and hit it, but I had never done any bikepacking and I was still ripping fast in XC races, so I put that idea behind me and never really thought about it again until a couple of years ago when I did the AZT 300 and CTR.  I thought, “No way in hell would I do TD…..too much road.  Yuck.”  Then I started Nuke Sunrise and I started thinking about things I’ve accomplished….and haven’t.  TD was back on top of the list.

At the start of last summer, I made the decision that 2014 would be my year for TD…..northbound as it would be stupid to fly my ass up to O’Canada just to ride back home to a place I prefer to escape every summer.  Soon after making the commitment, I contemplated a new ride.  I really wanted to do it on a Fargo style rig since JP’s last attempt was done on one and he mentioned that he had no hand issues during or after…..something I’ve been battling for a couple years.  So I looked up some of my favorite frame builders….and saw that Walt Wehner of Walt Works had moved to Salt Lake City where I was visiting at the time.  I made arrangements to meet up with him and I gave him a deposit….a whopping $200.  Just before my Christmas break, he started building my frame….a severely upsized Fargo.

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orange frameSo all these build shots made their way into email and I was really hoping to have this beast ready to roll by the time I left for South Carolina, but that didn’t happen.  It  didn’t show up until a couple weeks ago.  I got it built that night (despite over an hour spent rummaging for all the parts I needed) and rode it the next day to Mundy’s Gap….a burly rock fest of  a climb.  I cleaned everything up and down and was thoroughly impressed with the short stays and general fit.   The ride down was a hoot on running a Knard 3.0 up front on the fat bike fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ditched the Knard after one commute.  Those things are tanks and I really am thinking speed.  I think I can achieve plenty of comfort with a carbon fork and maybe 2.3’s front and rear.  I think I may even ditch the Moxey post…..mainly so I can more easily run a seatbag.  This bike is so comfy that I really don’t think I’m going to need it.  I’ve got a Thomson on the way.  I’ll put some miles on it to make sure.  The Selle Anatomica is pretty sweet.

Eventually I got this thing made.  What a freakin’ puzzle.  Now I need to start working on the tanks that will bolt on to the top tube….and ride more.

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I also bought this bad boy.

dyno wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a Shutter Precision thru-axle dynamo hub.  I had it laced up in less than an hour to a Velocity Blunt SL (420 grams).  This will be the first blunt I’ve ever rolled…..seriously.  I’ll be charging batteries with this bad boy so the only batteries I’ll have to purchase will be AAA Energizer Lithiums to power my Spot….which I don’t plan on using 24/7 like other racers.

So here’s a run down of the build:

Walt Works frame

Salsa Enabler Fork (will upgrade to Niner RDO carbon TA fork)

Chris King headseat

DT Swiss 240 S rear hub w/ Stan’s ZTR355 rim

WTB SS rear hub w/ Stan’s 355 rim on the fat bike fork (will upgrade to SP Dynamo TA on Blunt SL rim)

Shimano Ultegra front shifter/brake lever

Shimano 105 10 speed rear shifter/brake lever

TRP Spyre cable discs w/ Yokazuma cables

Shimano XT 9 speed rear derailleur (new 10 speed dynasys won’t work with 10 speed road shifters)

Shimano XTR front derailleur

Truvativ X9 180mm cranks (28/42 rings)

Crank Bro’s Candy SL pedals

Sram 1050 10 speed cassette

105mm generic stem (upgrading to Syntace 100mm stem)

Salsa Woodchipper bars

Lizard Skins 2.5mm thick bar tape on with one layer of fake cork foam tape under the “tops”

KMC chain

Moxey Pro seat post

Selle Anatomica X seat

As for tires….right now I’m using some old WTB semi-slicks.  For TD, I’ll use something like the 2.35 Kenda Slant 6 or the 2.3 Maxxis Ikon.  Those are a bit bigger than what most guys run, but I do want some comfort on all that washboard.

Currently, my during the week training consists of riding it like this.

loaded with racksSome days it’s well over 50 lbs.  This pic was taken when I was at a text book fair.  I took home a crapload of books ($$$) and I could really feel it back there.  Good training for sure.

I’ll post more after I get the new fork.  I ordered an orange one, but when I pulled it out of the box, I saw it wasn’t even close to matching and Jen thought it was pretty lucky.  So I’m sending it back for a black one.  It will drop some weight for sure.  I’m more curious as to how it will feel.  I’ve never ridden a carbon mountain fork and my road bike fork is 14 years old so I really have no idea how it’s going to feel.

 

 

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Some of you may know that Titus closed their doors earlier this year.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve blogged, but this deserves a bit of attention as it’s one of the root causes of problems in our current economic situation.

Here’s my view on why Titus went down.  It’s an outsider’s view with some internal information that had been gleaned over a few years of correspondence with Titus personnel back when they gave me a great deal on custom bikes.

Chris Cocalis was slow to innovate and change and had trouble managing a growing business.  He sold out to investors who brought in Pat Huss who had previously run Cannondale into the ground.  Pat brought with him Jeff Titone.  Both are nice guys, but I’m not sure they really belong in the bicycle manufacturing business.

Failed efforts at fancy exogrid products and carbon stuff from overseas started the fall.  Originally producers of HIGH quality custom frames, they tried to seek more profit by going overseas.  This never made sense to me as they had to fly over there all the time to do quality control….which sucked if you ever owned a carbon chainstayed racer-x.

A couple years ago, they sold off their sweet jigs and took all ti production to Litespeed.  Yuk.  The aluminum stuff was still being made in Portland and the carbon stuff overseas.  They shrank their operations in the states trying to become a marketing and design company.  Customer service suffered and people started looking at other great bikes like the Trek/Fishers, Pivots, Tall Boys, and other fantastic bikes on the market that cost about the same or less.

Titus deserved to die.  Hanging on to the Horst Link and giving up on in house production reduced their value.

Planet-X Bikes recently purchased Titus.  I hope they didn’t pay much.  Hopefully they will return to some custom in house production if they can ever get a hold of those sweet jigs they used to have.  Good luck Planet-X Bikes.  If you bring back Titus, keep ’em custom, keep ’em ti.

I guess you could call these blingy.  But at only $110 retail, does that qualify as bling?

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You may remember my previous post on the M086.  They served me quite well this summer.  They were awesome during the Breck Epic which had numerous long hike-a-bikes.  The stiffness was perfect and the right amount of flex at the toe made them quite comfortable.

The downside…one of the velcro straps on my black ones broke…the day after the epic.  I was able to use duct tape to fix it.  I used the new Loctite brand Sumo tape.  That stuff is way better than standard duct tape.  I continued using the shoes the rest of the summer with no problems. 

At the beginning of the summer I ordered the above bronze colored shoe from the UK.  They finally showed up today!  I’ll have to take extra good care of these bad boys as I don’t think the Sumo tape comes in a bronzish gold color.  They’ll be my race shoes.

Anyway…I got on Facebook this week.  It’s a time waster for sure, but I think I can maintain good internet discipline.  Signal Peak is this weekend.  The camper is ready to go and the truck got it’s first oil change.  It took me over an hour to get the filter off.  I think the robot they use to install the filter hadn’t been calibrated in a while.  I turned it one full turn with 2 tools on it before I could turn it with my hands.  Ridiculous.

The last two weeks have been CRAZY!  The IMBA crew came to town….with pretty short notice in my book.  But no biggie.  We adapted and the members that came out learned some new tricks.  We also learned that we should slow down a bit on our building and work harder to build trail better. 

The best part is that the city of El Paso wants to build trails in their city parks.  They have one park that is just primo for it.  We’re going to do some flagging this Sunday.

But tomorrow is all about making Mad Cow as fast going up as going down.  If you live in El Paso and haven’t ridden Mad Cow…..well….you’ve been missing out.  It still needs some love.  I got some new toys and I’ll be giving lots of trail love tomorrow.  I spent an evening fixing up the bob to hold the toys.  I had to bust out the tiny wheeled circus bike since my bob doesn’t have the 29er friendly attachment.  A few minutes with a jigsaw and a door knob drill bit, and I got this sucker dialed.

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It’s over 12 feet long all together.  I picked up an Italian Grape Hoe that is super comfortable to swing.  It will work well in softer conditions or for roots that need to be cut.  I tested it out in the garden and it’s like a hot knife in room temp butter.  I gave the handle a bit of protection with an old Nevegal.  We’ll see how that works out.  I also picked up an extra long Mattock.  My other Mattock is super burly, but it’s heavier and has a super short handle.  It works well in the steep terrain when working on bench cuts, but Mad Cow is kind of flat. 

Of course the trailer has room for the McLeod.  I also fashioned a little water bottle holder for extra fuel by cutting up a water bottle and taping it to the trailer.  The fuel bottle fits in nice and snug.  In the bag I have long pants, face shield, hat, gloves, a file, and the chainsaw attachment for the Husque.  I can’t wait to put the blade that’s mounted up now to the test.  I’m not sure I’ll use the chainsaw blade.  It’s for big stuff.  Mad Cow has mostly little stuff that likes to grab your arms and feet.  I’m just hoping my ghetto carpentry skills hold up and the back board doesn’t break.  I took it on a test ride on the trail by the house.  Everything seemed ok but I decided to put the padding in there to protect the Husque.

So tomorrow will be about 45 minutes of road to the trails….another 30 or so to Mad Cow.  I’ll spend an hour or two on Mad Cow, then ride some more.  Then head back home.  Hopefully it will hold up.  Check back for photos of either disaster or pure trail love bliss.

Wow!  What an amazing weekend.  I probably should have ridden longer/harder/faster, but I got a lot of stuff done and introduced some new folks to the northeast trails.  Rudy from the UTEP bike club brought some friends out and I gave them a little tour.  We hit Mad Cow, looped back to the dam, then went back up to the “tire” to hit Stan’s and and the last bit of the Puzzler before the feedzone. 

The only reason Jen and I wore our knee warmers was because the wind picked up.

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Before we met up with these guys, the sun was blazing and the wind hadn’t picked up yet.  We saw a garter snake.  The views were amazing.  We were up on Sotol when I went for the camera and realized I’d left it on top of the car.  I rarely drive to the trails, but since we were meeting these guys, we figured we’d take the single speeds….which wastes some serious time on the roads getting to the trails.  We also had some errands to run afterwards.  We took the b-line back to the benzo and happily…my camera was just chilling on the roof. 

Good thing.  Jen was able to snap this sweet poser shot with me in my hummingbird attracter kit and not so matching yellow socks.

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The day before, Jen and I saw this fat feathered friend on a ridge line.  This is one of the fattest hawks I’ve ever seen.  I could see him pretty well, but the camera was a little lacking.  I refuse to carry a huge camera with a big ass telephoto lens.

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Thirty people have registered for the Puzzler.  That’s more than last year, and most of last year’s entrants waited until the day before the race to enter.  Hopefully that will be the same this year and we’ll hit our target of 50.

I’ve got some stuff for sale if anyone is interested.  I’ll send pics if you ask.

Hayes HFX Mag brakes with both fat aluminum levers and carbon levers – $50 for the pair

Surly Jim Brown Disc bolt on hubs, 32 hole, with freewheels 17-22.  21 and 22 are White Industries – $150

26″ Fox RLC 100mm disc only.  Will include 1st gen stan’s rim laced to DT Swiss Onyx disc hub with Revolution spokes.  Steerer about 7″. $350  BBB5 brake another $40.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock….almost brand new.  6.5×1.5.  Comes with lots of hardware to mount to any bike that uses that length shock.  Mounted to Jen’s Racer-X for about 3 rides.  Back on Fox for this season.  $125

Pray that no creature ever chews through the main wiring harness of your vehicle.  Especially if it’s a newer vehicle.  Yes….I’m still waiting on our truck to get fixed.  As you can see from the pic below, there were quite a few wires in that harness.  I probably could have reconnected them all myself, but it’s 100+ outside.  I was also hoping that my dealer would be willing to find a harness from a salvage yard, but they wouldn’t go for that.  So instead of paying $1900 for a new harness and waiting for about a month to get it, I let them repair it.

Turns out that when everything was chewed up, a bunch of fuses blew.  Then, when I tried to start it, I blew more fuses and reprogrammed the main computer as well as burned out the neutral safety switch.  Not good.  So we are still waiting.  Friday.  Still waiting.

I guess that’s the downside to electronics.  While they help our lives in so many ways, they can leave you in a pickle when they get messed up.  As a former electronics guy in the military, I learned enough to do quite a bit with electronic hardware stuff.  If I had an airconditioned garage, I would have been able to fix the wiring harness.  I would not have been able to reprogram the computer or find out what other funky codes may been showing up on a diagnostic system. 

Speaking of electronics….seems I’ve put some people up in arms about my comments regarding power meter screenshots.  I really wanted to focus more on people’s subtle cries for help that they post on their blogs.  If you aren’t racing well, and you are having dietery problems, or you are overtraining, or you are trying to mix up too much intensity when you are focusing on endurance events, or you think you are overtrained but you are really undertrained…..and you have a coach, it’s probably in your best interest to keep it on the downlow.  It’s definitely not going to help your coach any by telling people you are dead tired and can’t turn the pedals over. 

These cries for help are not entertaining.  Jen tells me to never comment.  “Let them flounder,” she says.  Hell.  We did our share of floundering that’s for sure.  But we never paid anyone to tell us what to do either.

I guess it takes time to find yourself, your limits, your favorite foods, your favorite bike position, and whatever else makes you fast.  Hopefully you will do your best to have fun.  Losing is not fun.  Not achieving your goals is not fun. 

I’m not sorry if I insulted anyone.  I do hope that my comments help you realize just how petty competition is.  Our world is changing quite rapidly now.  Racing will soon be only for the really wealthy or the ones that know the really wealthy.  Those days of loading up the VW bus with a couple friends, a bag of weed, enough energy bars for the weekend, and just enough money to cover gas and race entry are long gone.  The lowest payout isn’t going to get you back home.  The highest may only get you halfway home or to the next race.  Free underground racing will take over, but there will not be any $$$ involved.

Soon (and I mean in a few years) we will ALL be commuting regularly by bicycle.  It’s going to be tough.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of us.

 

Today was my 38th birthday.  I enjoyed my morning by rallying the Moto-lite to school.  It was already about 85 on my way in.  I found a pretty good sized concrete roller jump that I like to hit every morning.  It’s definitely a highlight of the morning.  This morning I got chased about a quarter mile by a chihuahua.  I tried to take a picture of it, but it didn’t save to my phone……

I also tried to take a picture of the $4.59 diesel price at one of the stations I passed on the way in.  I pass 6 gas stations on my way to work.  They aren’t nearly as busy as they used to be.  In fact, it seems that people are waiting to the last drop to refill.  I should have taken a pic of the guy getting his car pushed into one of the stations this afternoon.

One of my students asked me why I would ride my bike to school on my birthday.  What an idiot.  These kids are in a totally different world.  Most of their parents can barely afford the car.  83% of my students are on free or reduced lunch, but well over 50% have cell phones.  The good thing is that probably less than 50% of the students at my school get taken to school by their parents.  Most live within walking distance.  They would never ride a bike though.  That’s what poor people do.  And they would rather push their freakin’ car to the gas station to fill it back up than ride a bike.

Times are changing much more quickly than most people realize.  Here are a few of my predictions:

1.  By summer of ’09, cheap gas will be $6 a gallon.

2.  Food prices will be about 15% higher by summer ’09.

3.  Fewer than 30% of the students at my school will have cell phones next year due to the fact that their parents will not be able to afford them.

4.  Crime rates in Northeast El Paso will will double by summer ’09.  This will be due to gas theft, car jackings, muggings, and petty theft so people can buy more gas.

5.  Bike thefts….something that is almost unheard of around here (this is due to the fact that riding a bike makes you look poor and most people are too lazy or scared to ride one)….will increase significantly by summer ’09.  The local bike shops here don’t get their sweet bikes stolen.  They get their office broken into and ransacked until they find the money drawer with a couple hundred dollars in it.  Never mind that $5,000 Trek Madone or $6,000 Titus Carbon Racer-X.  Petty thieves are pretty clueless on that stuff around here.

Those are just a few things I think will start to become more common.  It will actually be a good thing if bikes become a commodity in this town.  What the dirt poor don’t realize is that walking is for chumps.  If they were smart they would have cobbled together the junk parts from all those shitty Mongoose walmart christmas bikes and made something that would have at least gotten them to the bus stop.

Mr. President….the Saudis CAN’T pump oil faster.  They are pumping it as fast as they can.  And only a fool would sell it for less and try to produce less.  If I owned an oil field, I wouldn’t sell any of it yet.  I’d wait a couple more years for it to hit about $300 a barrel.  Then I’d sell it.  Of course, our government would probably spend about $250 a barrel to steal that $300 barrel via a war (theft) for my oil.

Hell yeah I rode my bike to work today…and it hit 101 degrees.  It was my birthday!  Why would I want to drive my car on my birthday?  What fools!  Screw all of you stupid fools for thinking that those of us who ride a bike to work are “crazy”.  Putting that gas pump in that dirty little hole in your car and driving all about town at $3.65 for the cheep stuff…….that’s crazy.