Monday, August 30, 2010

I did it, it's done, and that's all she wrote

Well I guess I'll elaborate a little.
Had my 24 hour race this weekend. Really not a whole lot to say to be honest. The only reason I signed up for this event was a burning curiosity I've had for quite a while now. I wanted to get to a point where I thought it was impossible to continue, and continue from there. That alone was my reason and I think it helped me a lot when I was out there.
Now I'm a pretty philosophical guy (though I do still acknowledge that us humans are merely a stones throw away from poo flinging monkeys) and I wanted to get just a small sampling of the pain that some have to endure in less fortunate circumstances than I. I really can't say that I have a better understanding of this but it did help me to keep moving.
The goal for the race was to just keep riding and not stop. I set out at exactly the pace I wanted to ride, and rode that pace until the end. Up until about 8pm I was feeling much better than I thought I should and didn't start to feel uncomfortable until about 1am. Uncomfortable I can say would be the theme of this event for me. Sure 6am rolled around and I got to a point where the hours ahead of me seemed unmanageable but I quickly reminded myself, this moment is what I came here for. I was glad to be able to recognise that and continue.
So all things considered it was a very good experience. I am humbled by the human body which seems to be able to work itself to death provided you have the mental fortitude. Not sure if I will do it again since the experience has been experienced.

Huge appreciation for my brother Joe who stayed up all night in the cold and was the one person I could trust to rely on in the event of a mechanical or mental break down. Thanks to my sister Mary for the support and the awesome memento from this experience (I hope little Joely enjoyed his first camping trip). Thanks to Jason for keeping my brother company in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks to momsie and Doug for their 4 star cheffery and tolerance of my demanding demands. Thanks to Jacob and Tristan for joining me for a lap (Tristan are you ok after that crash dude??).

8pm, waiting for the pain to start
Last 10 feet of the race. Sooo happy.
Tired but happy. Helmet is wet because I rode the plank matey and survived.
Joe made it all happen. Gave him the jersey so he will ride more!
All I can say about this photo is that Sean is putting out the vibe!
The man hands are still soft as a baby, no harm done!
Getting the X-Ben cleaned up. On to the next ride.
I feel awesome today and I am going for a ride tonight.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All set to go

Have all my stuff together for this 24 hour thing this weekend. Should be an interesting endeavour. Not much to write, just a few pictures of the spread.

Smorgasbord. Figure I might as well get diabetes in the process.

The Beast will be with me for most of the suffering.

My backup courtesy of Trek Store and Hardwood.

Heading out tomorrow after work and staying there overnight. I am campsite 61 so feel free to stop by and say hi (I probably won't be there, don't touch my food!). My team name is "It's my birthday and I'll die if I want to", Sunday being my birthday. My brother will be there for mechanic and sister for managerial duties as well as my mom and Doug for moral support. Can't think of a better way to spend a birthday then by experiencing the feeling of death.
More packing to be done!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There are many different stories about what went down that day

this is what really happened............

Ontario Cup #7 - Provincial Championships
Woodnewton, August 22nd, 2010

I am liking this course. Whole vibe reminds me of where it all started, racing at the Bethany farm with the Martyns and Alpha Racing. Nice fun and fast singletrack and that flowy downhill is a work of art!

Morning at the race site
Stomach has been killing me for the past couple days. Maybe I am stressing about this 24 hour too much. Maybe I shouldn't have bought all those fresh Jalapenos at Price Chopper.
Glad I got to see my little guy become Minime Provincial champ. Darn kid is fast. Motivated people make me feel like a slacker.
Wow it is really raining, lets go check out the course and take a survey.
Hey there is the Mr. Cabardos
*Hey Louis how's the course??
Slippery as hell, put on your rain tires!*
Hmn Louis is a pretty strong technical rider, must be pretty bad out there.
*talk to a bunch of folks*
Ok the consensus is that it is apocalyptically muddy out there (except for the ever wise Chico who insisted on staying with dry tires). That's it I've hit my 2 hour cut off, time to make a decision. Mud tires it is!!!!
Sealed up my Maxxis Medusa 1.8 super knobby tires no problem. They didn't lose any air and was able to run them at 23psi which was about as low as I wanted to go for such a low volume tire.

Warm up
oooooooo k I think I am starting to regret these mud tires. Not gonna lie to myself about that, other people sure, but I can't fool me.
Feeling fine though. Stomach seems to almost be sorting itself out. Feel a little low on power but the legs feel good. Maybe just a little lightheaded but sometimes I think that the fact I've been out of school for so long has left my brain unchallenged and I am slowly getting more spaced out. Would drugs help this?
It better start pouring rain so I can justify these tires!

Lining up
Hmn not much exciting going on here. Looks like mostly everyone is here, all super chill. I am actually pretty darn fit right now but this stomach thing is making me nervous. Or are my nerves giving me this stomach thing? I think I think too much. Oh the race is about to start.

Lap one
Off to a decent start. Stomach thing went away, score. In a pretty fast group of slow riders, picking a few off. Liking this course and the mud tires were totally awesome for that 100 metre section of mud.

Lap two
Well this is starting to suck. Core feels super tired, I think my stomach gymnastics have taken their toll over the last couple days. I am really starting to go backwards quickly. Alright this is leaning towards a DNF. Definitely have to think of a reasonable excuse before I call it a day. I could use the multi-excuse tactic. Lets take stock; my tires are slow, my stomach has been bothering me, I am old (classic excuse), I am tapering for 2011.............
OK Ben get yourself together! You know what is easier than thinking of an excuse for DNFing?? Actually trying and not needing an excuse at all. I mean if I can't make it through 2 hours of suffering I am well and truly screwed for this 24 hour race.

Lap three
Gettin' her going now. Adrenalin is starting to kick back in and I am feeling better. Getting that heart rate back up where it should be and starting to pick some guys off again that went by me on the 2nd lap fiasco. Hey there is Brendan, I would be happy with the day if I could beat him.
Ohh look a spectator on a collision vector with your narrator.
*a brief foray off the beaten path*
Good times by the feed zone. No harm done.

Lap four
Brendan is strong. Wonder if I can shake him. He is much faster than me in the singletrack so he can rest. I am faster on the open stuff and climbing so if I stay out front in the twisties he won't get a gap.

Lap five
after Brendan has let me lead for 2/3 of a lap we are heading down the long, slightly uphill front straightaway.
Brendan "Sorry I would do some of the work but I feel like I am going to die"
Me "No worries dude, sorry I am so slow in the singletrack."
Feeling tired ehhhh, well I guess I should try and lose him now so he doesn't drop me in the singletrack. Maybe he wont bother chasing if I can get out of sight.
Score got a gap on that hill, legs are starting to cramp but it's the last lap so they are allowed.
And we're done.
That's strange, my heart rate stayed at 135BPM for 10 minutes after the race.

All in all it was a rough day in the saddle. I did feel better once I got going again but I could in no way use my fitness to its potential. I have abandoned all feelings of stress about the 24 hour this weekend and just making sure I am eating well all week and getting 8+ hours of sleep each night (opposed to the 6 hours I got all last week).
Maybe I can convince some of my family that are helping out with my race to do some live updates on my progress. I'll bring my laptop and rocket stick so stay tuned for potential updates on my deteriorating condition.
Grain of sand, I'm off to Never Never Land.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How-To: Align your rear derailleur hanger

A rear derailleur hanger is the small tab of metal that connects your rear derailleur to your frame. It is designed to be the weak link so that it breaks first and saves other more expensive parts from failure. Almost all hangers are specific to the model of bike you are riding and even vary year to year. It is a good idea to have a spare one on hand instead of trying to track one down when you really need it (like the night before a race).
It’s not too often that I don’t feel the need to check the alignment of a rear derailleur hanger. It is also a rare occurrence that a hanger doesn't need aligning, they are almost always out of spec. Even brand new hangers purchased to replace bent old ones frequently will not match up perfectly with the frame and will need aligning.
Most of the time it is not visible to the eye if a hanger is bent or not. Telltale symptoms of a misaligned hanger - the rear derailleur will shift fine at one end of the cassette but will lose it’s ability to shift and hold a gear as it moves from one side of the gear cluster to the other. If your hanger is way out of whack your derailleur will appear to be pitched on a sideways angle as you eyeball it from the back of the bike.
No matter how fancy you get with your other adjustments, your rear shifting will never function normally unless you have an aligned hanger. That is why performing this alignment is usually one of the first tasks I do when adjusting a rear derailleur. There is no point in fine tuning all of the other adjustments only to have to do it all over again once the hanger is shifted into alignment.

Tools needed:
-5mm Allen key
-Hanger alignment tool

Now I know what most of you are thinking………. “I don’t have a hanger alignment tool!?” Well no you probably don’t. I do really think these are one of the most important tools you can own. I bought one right away as soon as I decided I was going to be working on other peoples bikes as well as my own a little more seriously. These tools are well made and durable and will last a lifetime. The updated tool (as pictured) accommodates most of the bikes on the market. This Park Tool hanger alignment tool retails for about $100.
Or you can take it to your shop. It is about a 5 minute job and should cost <$10.

Now this job is really easy to do. It should take you 5 minutes or less after you've done it a couple times

Step 1: Always make sure your rear wheel is centred in the dropouts. I always do this with the bike on the ground. Stand on the opposite side of the quick release lever, lean over the bike putting weight on the saddle to push the wheel square into the frame and close/tighten the quick release lever. No point in adjusting a derailleur to perfection only to find the wheel was crooked in the frame sending you back to square one (it happens to us all).

Step 2: Now with your bike in the stand (or flipped upside-down a la poor mans work stand) shift your rear derailleur all the way down to your smallest cog on the back. This relieves a lot of the tension on a chain/rear derailleur and makes it easier to work with.

Step 3: Use your 5mm Allen key and make sure it is securely fit into the B-axle bolt on the rear derailleur. Sometimes derailleurs are torqued on there really tight so taking the extra 2 seconds to ensure a secure fit with your 5mm helps prevent any bolt rounding/cursing/hacksawing of frames. Break the bolt free then proceed directly to Step 4. Do not pass GO at this time.

Step 4: This step is pretty important for protecting your hanger. It is made of soft aluminum (remember it is designed to break first) and the threads are also easy to strip out (commence cursing, and dremeling, and opening of wallet). By grasping the entire rear derailleur in one hand, rotate it clockwise so that it is floating free of your frame. When it is floating free you will be able to loosen the B-axle bolt quite easily with your other hand while guiding the derailleur straight back towards you as not to damage the final few threads of the hanger on derailleur removal.

Step 5: Now that you've loosened it all the way out, just let the derailleur sit out of the way of the hanger.

Step 6: Wipe the crud off your hanger so you have a nice clean surface to attach your hanger tool.

Ohh clean
Step 7: Carefully screw your hanger tool into place. Don’t cross thread. Your hanger tool is steel and your bike hanger is aluminum. Your hanger will lose and you will have to buy a new one.

Step 8: Now that your hanger tool is installed it is time to adjust it for use. Always make sure the set screw is snug to eliminate any wobble in the tool. Then line up the hanger tool arm with your wheel valve stem and adjust it to within a few mm’s of your rim. The reason we use the valve stem is because you want to reference the same spot on your wheel since the entire wheel might not be perfectly true.

Line it up with the valve stem

Step 9: Now you can actually align the hanger. How this is done is by making sure it lies on a parallel plane to the wheel. Rotate the tool clockwise around at the same time you spin the wheel. Keep the alignment arm right by the valve stem and make sure there is an even gap between the arm and the rim as your rotate around.
You’ll only be able to rotate so far before the frame gets in the way but you’ll be able to align it ¾ of the way around the wheel which will inevitably result in the hanger being aligned for the ¼ of rotation that is blocked by the frame.
*Don’t drop the hanger tool onto your seat stay, it is a heavy tool and your bike is a delicate flower.

If there is not an even gap between your hanger tool and rim then you need to push or pull the tool to bend the hanger into alignment. Remember if there is no gap at the bottom of the wheel and a 5cm gap at the top then just bend it in 2.5cm at the top and it will bring the bottom out the other 2.5cm. Always rotate the wheel clockwise so that it can freewheel and you don’t have to bother with the chain moving around.
*Note* Aluminum doesn't like to bend. If a hanger is out of whack by a lot then there is a chance you will break it by trying to align it. There is very little danger of damage to the hanger if it is only off by a little bit.

Keep manipulating your hanger by bending it with the tool until there is an even gap as your rotate the tool and wheel all the way around. Take your time.

Step 10: That’s it, your hanger is aligned. Unscrew your hanger tool from the rear derailleur hanger. Now you can carefully begin installing your rear derailleur back into the dropout. Again grasp it so it can go straight in.
The reason we rotate the derailleur clockwise in our hand is so that the B-tension adjustment screw will clear the tab on the derailleur hanger that it eventually rests against. Tighten the 5mm B-axle bolt until the derailleur snugs up against the derailleur hanger and then loosen it ½ a turn. Release your grip on the derailleur and allow it to rotate counter clockwise back down into place.
This is especially crucial with Shadow derailleurs. They work a little bit differently. There is a plate that fixes the derailleur to the hanger. On it will be a tab of metal that needs to sit right against your frames derailleur hanger. Make sure there is no gap.
Torque the B-axle bolt to its final tightness. Be firm but not ridiculous, 7 out of 10 on the perceived exertion scale

We rotate the derailleur so that this screw will clear the hanger as you screw the derailleur back onto the bike

Before you torque it down make sure this screw (B-tension screw) rests directly against the hanger. Or in the case of a Shadow rear derailleur, make sure the plate on the derailleur is oriented in such a way that the metal tab rests against the stopper on your frames derailleur hanger. (I will illustrate this later)

That’s it you’re done! Go forth and adjust the rest of thine derailleur knowing thou hanger hast been purified.

Questions, comments, and suggestions welcomed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How-To: Adjust your rear derailleur - Q&A Section

-my derailleur shifts slowly or not at all on the upshift and downshift
Most likely try replacing your cable and housing

Similarly-my derailleur shifts poorly in both directions
Most likely try adjusting your B-tension screw.

-my derailleur shifts well for only half of the gear cluster
Most likely try aligning your hanger

-my derailleur suddenly started shifting into my spokes off the top or into the frame off the bottom
Most likely try aligning your hanger. Your limit screws are off and since they don’t adjust themselves the problem usually lies in a bent hanger.

-my derailleur shifts into the spokes off the top and/or into the frame at the bottom
Most likely try adjusting your limit screws.

-my derailleur is slow to shift in one direction (either up or down but not both)
Most likely try adjusting your cable tension.

How-To: Adjust your rear derailleur

Over the next couple of weeks I will be de-mystifying everything there is to know (mostly) about how to properly adjust your rear derailleur. Ever wonder what all those little screws do? Ever shake your head at the mechanic that can perfectly adjust your shifting with 1/2 turn of a wrench after you've been suffereing with poor shifting for a month? This will be your one stop centre for all things rear derailleur.

Topics covered

How-To: Hanger alignment
How-To: Adjust limit screws
Replacing cables/housing
Q&A Section

Stay tuned..............

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Little wheels keep on rollin'

Well they should with their Tiramic ceramic hybrid bearings.
My Token gold alloy pulley wheels arrived in the mail today. I love the design of them and got the gold to match up with the Ben-meya rear derailleur. Unfortunately when I opened them up I realised they were no where near a match to the gold I have been using so something needed to be done. I began the painstaking process of mirror polishing every surface of them. I decided to leave the cutouts gold for a nice hint of colour and since it is such a small amount it is not noticeable that the gold isn't a match. In fact they look amazing! I was certainly questioning my sanity as I brought the Dremel closer to my 5 minute old pulley wheels but I am glad I did.
Took about 2 hours to do the job and will make a nice addition to the finished product. I am undecided at this time about the pink/red bearing caps, will wait and see if I want to leave them or polish them or paint them gold. They do have that "look at me I'm ceramic" appearance but we'll see later.
Still waiting for my custom carbon short cage, carbon hanger plate, gold alloy hanger bolt, and gold pulley screws. They are coming from Germany so a couple weeks for them. After that it should be pretty much finished (though I have found a couple more bolts I can replace with Ti lol).
Oh and I had a eureka moment for tuning a 7700 DuraAce 9 speed cassette. Can't wait to get started on that. Hmmnnnnn so many things to do, so little time and money.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Ontario Cup #6 - Kelso

Kelso has always been one of my favourite races on the Ontario scene. Sure sometimes they screw it up a little but for the most part it is a great time. Here is my first person account of how it went down that day.

Hmn feeling a little weak or maybe it's just the wind. Damn kids I coach are getting too fast, no I'm just old and it's not my fault.
Saw 2 Nissan Skylines parked in a driveway, awesome.

Lining Up
Good to see everyone again. Feels like forever since Buckwallow. I'll file in somewhere in the last 1/3 of the pack since I'm not a great starter and not feeling super fit.

Lap one
Wow got a pretty good start. Passed a bunch of guys, lol at people trying to ride up the gravely right hand side of the hill only to spin out and have to run it.
Huh a little rattling noise that doesn't sound normal. Oh well probably just my number plate screwing with my Nokons or something.
Oh crap my seat just fell off.

*stop and gather up the seatpost pieces and saddle and wait for all the Elites to roll by so I can soft pedal the 500 meters to the finish. Looks like a DNF :-( *

I think I lost a part of the clamp. Now I'm going to have to buy a new seatpost. But I'll have to put on that heavy ass RaceFace post in the mean time while I order another Token post because I really do like this post.

*Soft pedal out into the open field just before the lap/finish and my impending DNF*

Look down and
Oh wait all the parts are still there. Screw this I'm fixing it and finishing this biaaatch. Why do they make these damn screws so tiny. Oh yeah that's right I went for the lightweight. I regret nothing!
Wow this is really hard to fix. Wouldn't that be funny if I couldn't fix it and had to DNF because it was too hard. That is not an option and would be very harmful to my reputation as the greatest bicycle mechanic to ever touch a 5mm.
Ok so it's fixed! That was way harder than I thought, I think I lost about 10 minutes in that whole mess :-(
My seat is now at a very awkward angle. No time to adjust it now!

Lap 2
Ah catching some of the Elite Women back. Shouldn't be too long before I make my way back up to the back of the Elite Men pack. Maybe on the 3rd lap.
Oh crap that rattling is back better stop and torque the crap out of it. Look out little titanium bolts, we're going 5Nm and beyond!!!
Ok it is definitely tight now, and it fixed the angle of the seat, feels pretty close to normal.

Lap 3
Good rhythm. No complaints. Where's that Elite Mens pack??

Lap 4
In the grove now. Still feel kinda slow but again I'm old so I have an excuse.

Lap 5
Where the #*@& is that Elite field. Oh there they are! Only 2/3 of a lap left, better pour on the gas. DFL is much better than DNF but DFL still sucks.
Ok I see a pack of 3 or 4 guys. Hey that must be Cory in the 3-Rox kit.
Just coming up on last place now, closing fast. Right on his wheel.

*boom, I hit the dirt hard. My bars spin around in such a way that bars arent meant to be spun. Bars connected to things like Nokons, and Magura Durin SL's, and FSA K-Force handlebars.*

Nooooo my bike!! Oh great another mark on the top tube. Better stop and loosen the brake and shifter so I can twist my bars back without marking the frame up any more.
Alright I'm good. Better hop back on and oww that hurts when I have to move. Oh well just superficial stuff, spin it out.
Oh look there is the finish line. DFL is better than DNF and at least I was close to the next guy.

Well I still did have fun at that race. Glad I rode it out because it is still good for the fitness. Looking forward to Provincials in 2 weeks and foolishly looking forward to my 24hour solo on August 28-29.
B-b-b-benny and the jetsssssssss.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Santa brought me some bolts

Yes he did. Got my little bubble wrap envelope today that I had been waiting for. Figured it was a good time to finish up the last main body piece of the Ben-Meya rear derailleur. So it is 1:00am now and I am done a good bulk of the work on this project. Waiting on some more parts, carbon short cage, carbon hanger plate, aluminum hanger bolt, and aluminum pulley wheels. These parts are pretty much bolt-on so not much time to put into this any more. I still have a final polish to do on all of the parts and plan on putting some paint on the carbon cage but other than that should only be a couple hours work left.
This baby is a mix of lightweight and good looks. Sure it could be lighter but I think it will be a good solid piece that I can put alot of mileage on. Needless to say I am thrilled with how this project is turning out and makes me look forward to the next component on the list for modification. I think as soon as I am done the Ben-meya rear derailleur, which should be by the end of this month, I will get started on a wheelset.

From the front, with camera flash.

From the front, no flash

Top-backside, flash

No flash - you get the idea


New screws all around, including b-tension and limit screws

So stay tuned for the conclusion of this exciting saga.