Tuesday, June 23, 2009

4th of July Crit!

It's that time of year again, 100 deg temps today, and the 4th is right around the corner. For the last two years, we have put on what many regard as one of the best crits in MN. We took the race over from Mr Andy Dahl, one of the organizers of the amazing Nature Valley Grand Prix. Andy did an incredible job of starting the race and building support and ridership. It's something Jake and I do not take lightly, and we try to run as professional of a race as we can. Things like on staff paramedics, free neutral support, free and easily accessible water and fruit for racers. I'm even flying in our experienced pace car driver Brandon from California! He's probably driven more miles around downtown Northfield and anyone ever, literally hundreds of miles around the course over the years.

While Jake and I do what we can, we really depend on volunteers day of for help running the race. At Northfield, the biggest challenge has always been find people willing to be corner marshals. The race has 8 corners, all of which need to be staffed all day with competent people from 9am to 6 pm. This is a big role to fill. If you're coming down to watch, please consider volunteering. We really need your help to continue to make this race a success. This is a race that is put on for the community at large, Jake and I don't make any money and spend a lot of our time to put it on. Please consider helping out if you can, even if it's for an hour or two. We also need help at the registration booth. This is a crucial point for getting the race running smoothly, and we really could use some good people to help us out.

Here's the race flier with a list of race times and events.
If you are available for volunteering, please contact Jake of I for details. If you want to race, come on down, preregistration is here. If you just want to watch, bring the family and enjoy the best that small town MN racing has to offer. See you there.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wear A Helmet!

Just got a call from a customer who bought a bike this afternoon. While she was riding it home, a car ran a stop sign two blocks from her house. The driver was on her cell phone and said she did not see the stop sign. The woman is fine, and just received large bruises. Even the bike is relatively all right. She got incredibly lucky.

Just a friendly reminder to wear your helmet whenever you ride your bike, even two blocks from home. It's the things you don't have any control over that will do you in.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grumpy Mechanic Rant.

Curt brought in the latest issue of Outside Magazine the there day. Apparently there's a lack of angry/grumpy/surly/generally bad-tempered mechanics out there. See here.


I think that most of what the article said is true, angry unhelpful people in any business are not a good thing. There is a need to be straight and upfront with people about poor choices and behaviors though. Here you go, lesson for the day.

There's a huge lack of personal responsibility today. Gone are the days of breaking things and simply replacing them. Now it has to be someones fault. "I crashed on my bike and it landed on a rock and broke," to paraphrase the latest I've seen. Shit happens. Riding a bike is dangerous. If you brake something, man up and accept that it's your fault. If the bike was sitting in your garage it wouldn't have broken. YOU had to crash for that to happen.

That's not to say that there aren't legitimate warranty claims to be made. There have been some products I know of that have a high rate of failure under normal riding conditions. For the most part, the companies I've worked with have done there part and fixed problems, made things right with customers, and everyone has moved on. I've used this simile before. It's like hitting a telephone pole in your car and expecting the car company to fix it. It ain't going to happen, and you shouldn't expect it too.

I'm not going to speculate on why this has come around. Maybe these guys were just coddled and spoon fed everything growing up. Maybe they are just whiny little children. Maybe they weren't breast fed. I don't know. I know that I'm not that old, and that wasn't how I was raised, so I don't think it's a purely generational thing. You see this in just about every part of our modern lives. In large part it makes me more than just alittle angry. How much money is the country collectively spending because of this? Just think about that infamous lady and the $8 million cup of spilled McDonald's coffee. I think you'll get an idea.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Big Dummy rack v1.0

Here it is, the Big Dummy bike rack version 1.0. This was a somewhat rushed execution of the setup. I am missing one piece for the rear mount, so this is a bit half assed. It worked wonderfully, so the proof of concept is there, I just need to get the proper parts. The rack is a simple tray mount system from Rocky Mounts. It mounts using their hardware to a set, (I need one more,) of cheap 1" threaded quill stem extenders from JB Island. Simply slide this unit into the Wideloader mounts on the frame, tighten the two 6mm bolts, and you're good to go. Cheap, secure and easy. It's awesome.

Garnering many looks from passing motorists, here's what I looked like going down the road.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bike Rack

I'm riding home with a bike mounted on the Big Dummy. It's awesome. More to follow. Cheers all!

Culture Shot.

Random art shot for the day. From a visit to the Musee D'orsay in Paris back in '05. Meg and I had a great trip. A Saturday salute to bike mechs everywhere.

Friday, June 12, 2009

CX on the mind.

With the July 4th race looming on the horizon, I've been thinking a lot about CX racing of late. By the time the Crit is over, we'll be thinking about CX race possibilities for the fall. Last year, Jake and I put on what I considered a very successful two days of racing in Duluth. This included the only night CX race I've heard of, and a killer longer race on Sunday. This year is not looking too good for that happening again. The weekends that we had to choose from either coincided with a UCI race in Madison, of Masters Nationals, not good on either end. It's looking like we are not going to hold the races if those are our choices, but it's still a possibility. If there is a club or team that currently has a weekend alloted to hold a race, and it's not going to happen, please let Jake of I know. We'd love to hold the races again if possible. On that note, here'a reminder of what's happened in the past. If we have a race again, it will surely include Sean's infamous "Pinwheel of Death!" Cheers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This is why traditional wheels are awesome.


Many of you have heard about this by now. Bikesnob sums it up rather well. Basically, it comes down to overpriced, over hyped technology with no actual real world benefit and only marketing to back it up. When you can get wheels that are as light, built with much better quality hubs, with traditional spokes anyone can replace, why would you buy a wheel set that costs $800 more with no benefits? A traditional set of wheels getting close to the weight of those can be built in the range of $550-700. The Mavics don't even look cool. Rant off.

New dropouts from Paragon.

These are new rear dropouts from Paragon Machine works. They have been out for a while now, though some of you probably haven't seen them yet. I have really grown to like the aesthetics and function of the chain stay disc mounts on my OS Blackbuck. True to Paragon form, these are works of art in and of themselves. The graceful lines and cut outs just beg to be put in a simple EBB mtb, while the unobstructed rack and pannier mounts scream of functionality and ease of use. These solve a lot of the issues with mounting accessories on a disc bike. On my Rawland V1, for instance, I cannot mount both fenders and a rack at the same time. 2010 Rawland Models have been completely redesigned to accomodate this. While this is a problem with any disc bike, mounting the disc on the chainstay solves many of these issues. Similar dropouts to this are used on the suberb Salsa Fargo, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them on El Mariachis before too long. If possible, I'd love to have my next frame built with these. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home.

There's a truck out behind the shop right now. If my camera worked I'd take a picture. It's a late 60's Ford with at last six different colors of paint covering various rusting areas around the body. The truck was a gray, but the interior of the bed is rattle canned bluish. The white walled rear tires are bigger than the black wall fronts giving it a nice rake angle. There is no tail gate, presumably for better performance and weight savings. Both seats tilt towards the outside of the truck, belying questionable floor integrity.

On the rear window, written in pink window chalk, it states "Steffen! I'm having your baby!"

Now that's awesome.

A bit hard to read, but worth it.

Found this in the archives. It's a gas.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Start of a busy week.

Today starts a big week. Meg and I have a meeting with a small business adviser today. Discussing plans for changes to the shop, as well as large changes on the horizon are in order. While it's always exciting to talk about the future, it is a little daunting to think about things large and seemingly so far away.

Tonight we are also starting the demo on our bathroom at home. This will certainly be a project, and as it's the only bathroom in the house a bit of an important one. The pressure is really on to get it done promptly and correctly. If there are any delays we'll be showering at my parent's house. An minor inconvenience to say the least. We need to replace all of the walls and tile surrounding out bath tub. Over the years the sheet rock has gotten water damage. When I touched a funny looking tile a couple of weeks ago, it fell into the wall. Oops. So yeah, demo tonight, plumber tomorrow for new fixtures, new Durock walls up tomorrow night, and hopefully tile finished before the weekend. Adding all of this to being rather busy at the shop, and I should be sleeping soundly for at least this week!

All things considered, it's going to be a good week. I am looking forward to having a working shower again, and to starting some other large house projects. The bathroom is the first step there, and should go rather well. For all of the mess it's going to make, it's actually a pretty easy thing to accomplish.

After taping my wrist and eating a lot of pain meds, my arm is getting back to normal. It still hurts, so I'll be lucky if I am able to even commute in this week. It may be a good week to be so busy anyway, as my riding this week was going to be pretty limited as it stands. Happy Tuesday, hope you can get out and ride!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rainy Monday Blues

I had a great week last week for riding. I was able to ride into work three days, and I got three good mtb rides in. In addition, a couple of small trips to the gym have been really helping to keep my lower back happy as well. Aparently, however, my arm decided it wasn't to happy with all of this. What started as a little soreness in my wrist earlier in the week progressed on Saturday to the point I had trouble turning wrenches. As it's my right had, and I'm right handed, this is a serious problem.

After running into a very close friend who's a gerneral practitioner, she informed me it's nothing more than tendonitis. I've never had something like this happen, so I was relieved to hear it was realitively minor. I've been downing pain meds, icing, and I'll get a brace today. Hopefully this will have me up and running by the weekend. If the weather coopoerates I should still be able to ride slowly into work, and that will have to suffice for the time being. This may be a good time to try out some Ergons on the H bars!

Happy Monday all.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Week in review.

So, a lot of photos. We went camping on Sunday at Big Woods State Park in Nerstrand MN. This was the inaugural trip for Curt's 1978 Volkswagen bus with the Westfalia camper package. It rocks. We knew that the night was going to bring rain, so we came adequately prepared with cards. Big Woods is a relatively small park, though it's just gorgeous to hike around. Being a Sunday night, we had the whole place to ourselves. There were only three other campsites filled, which made for a really quiet night. The camp office is closed, so we had no way to buy firewood. Seems odd to me that they would use the honor system to pay for a $22 campsite, but not $3 worth of firewood. Curtis and I walked around to all of the vacant sites and were able to scrounge up enough wood for a respectable fire. I think we'll be spending a lot of Sunday nights like this.

So this was the set up.

The little white box, the smaller relative of G-Ted's little blue box, and the bus share a spacious site. Here are the digs such as they were.
Dinner and beverage, (shush, no alcohol in state parks in MN!) Kielbasa from the superb Nerstrand Meat Market, one onion, two potaotes, and a yam.
It really was a perfect evening.
Hidden Falls in the park.

Tuesday night we had a great ride after work. Though dry, the trails are in great shape. Before.
Almost to the Nature Center. We're now able to be on dirt 3 blocks from the shop.
Straight River bridge.
Teepeetonka Park single track.
Some gravel for good measure.

135mm WHUB and Pofahl fork. More on this later, but it's awesome.
Freedom meets razor wire.

First overlook.

Playing on rocks.

The lupines are in fill bloom. The sights and smell are just heavenly. They are just everywhere.

A great night and a killer ride.

Today I got to play with the truck. I needed to get two 8' sections of laminated 1/2" plywood to the shop for some bathroom work. Since they are both longer than either of our cars can fit, it was a perfect excuse to ride the Dummy and trailer to work. Seen in front of Goodbye Blue Monday, it still fits legally in the parking spot. It got rave revues for the stellar parking job.
Securing the load with Eric. He gets credit for these next shots.

Off to work!
The ride took about 20min longer than my usual 50min or so. I think that's rather good considering the 35psi 2.4" tires, and a 35lb trailer with 50lbs of ply! Happy Wednesday.