Sunday, December 28, 2008

trail options are slim nowadays

It's that time of year again. It's either raining and 60 degrees or 15 degrees overnight and 40 during the day. The sun pokes out enough to thaw the ground from the overnight freeze and the trails just get muddier and muddier. Montgomery Bell is the one trail that remains in great shape during this time of year.

Jamie (Lynskey celeb) and Jut were in town for the holidays last week so they got the Yazoo Brew Crew together for a big ride at Montgomery Bell. Many people wanted to ride Hammy and I also would of loved to, but not right now. I haven't been there in months but I can only imagine what it's like right now with all the rain we've had this past month.

A group of 12 or so all met up at Monty Bell on a dreary afternoon. It misted slightly as we all got our stuff together and headed into the woods, but never full-on rained. We had about 9 singlespeeders and 3 geared riders... bikes ranged the full spectrum from 5" travel all mountain Ellsworths to Surly singlespeeds and a few Ti 29ers in there as well. We started together but the front few quickly pushed the pace and everyone found their place. Thad suffered a flat early on and told the group to continue on. (his first of 2 flats, Mr. I rarely flat and carry tubes for a year, that go flat in my fanny pack) I waited with him to provide conversation but not much other help. I did figure it'd be more enjoyable for him to catch up with the group with a partner, especially if it took a while to find the other riders (and of course it did.) We ended up skipping out to the road and swinging back by the parking lot since one of Thad's spare tubes also had a hole. (the one he's been carrying for a year) So the two of us went back into the woods and tried a more direct route to where we thought the group would be heading.

We rode many sections of the trail backwards in our trek back to the group. Monty Bell is a great trail to change up the direction. Most of the sections flow great anyway you go and it places the challenging sections in different spots than you're used to. We rode a lot of the Yellow trail that I hadn't ridden since the race loop was marked. The race loop really takes you on some of the more flowy sections of the yellow trail. The yellow is a tough trail and most of the hardest parts aren't on the race loop. We were riding most of it backwards so there were a few hills that were just straight up, though thankfully really short. Thad got to witness some (better than 26er) 29er traction on one climb where he spun out. I only made it about 15 feet farther than he did, but it wasn't really from a lack of traction, but more of a lack of leg strength and fatigue from keeping the bike pointed uphill and not sideways off the trail.

After seeing the group on a distant trail and thinking they would cross our path and being wrong, we finally caught up with them. There aren't many leaves left on the trees so you can see riders as they zig zag through the trail, but you can't tell if they are truly that close to you or just on a trail that weaves close by. The group continued riding as before with a few motivated folks off the front and everyone else falling into their own rhythm.

I had made a couple minor changes to the cockpit of my new Quiring. Pushed my seat a bit farther back on the rails and lowered my stem 10mm. Both changes made the bike fit better. Last time I rode I had some knee pain. I never found out if it was from the cold weather and my lack of knee protection or from a poorly placed saddle. This time I rode with knee warmers even though the temperature was at least 15 degrees warmer and I had no knee pain at all. My saddle was a little to far forward before so I'm sure that helped. The new lower bar height felt better and the bike rode great this time out! I also ran lower tire pressure which I also liked. I was more comfortable on the bike, it handled better and I bounced around less with the lower tire pressure
and I enjoyed the rigid fork more. My hands were quite sore last ride where this time I barely noticed any soreness. My Oury grips finally settled in and the adhesive (hair spray) dried so they weren't spinning on me like my last ride. I think this helped a lot with my hand fatigue since it let me use a looser grip on the bars.

So far after two rides I am loving this new bike! It fits me like a glove and handles like I want a bike to handle. Thad (29er wanna be) keeps asking detailed questions about how it rides and how the geometry feels in different trail sections. So far I haven't had any great answers other than..."handles great! I love it!" The bike feels stable which is one of the few words I've come up with that describe it. It has a 71.5 head angle with a 475mm rigid fork and a 46mm fork offset so I think this leads to a very stable handling on the flats and downhills. It probably makes the bike a bit hard to steer on the steep uphills but all my past bikes have had a tendency to wander on the really tough climbs. The Quiring wanders less than my Soma though. I really got used to a kind of slack head angle from riding my Ventana which had a 70 degree head angle and I always loved the confidence it gave me on the downhills. This bike is crazy light too. I've never had a bike this light before. The gearing feels easier than it should. I have it geared 32x20 right now which should equate to 32x18 on a 26" bike. I've been riding that gearing for the past 6 months on my Soma so I'm pretty used to it and it feels noticably easier on the Quiring. No complaints here, but it does have me wanting to pick up a 19t cog for trails like Lock4.

After we all had our fill of the trail we made our way over to the Yazoo tap room to rehydrate. Unfortunately Jut was feeling sick so he had to miss the ride but he met up later for a few beers. It was a lot of fun hanging with the guys on the team that I don't see much. All in all, another great day of biking and hanging with friends on another dreary Nashville day.

Thad's second flat right at the end of the trail. Who's nailing something on a bike trail anyways?

Friday, December 19, 2008

a day late

Well as I sit at work and watch the 70 degree, sunny weather go by I can't help but reminisce on our urban jaunt around Nashville yesterday when it was 40 degrees and raining. At least we all aren't normal and we still enjoyed our wet ride.

A group of idiot cyclist met up at the Yazoo tap room at 11am with plans to ride through Nashville to Percy Warner park and meet up with some more idiot cyclist. The ride started slightly late as we (J5, MeanJoe, KRS1 and myself) all took our time getting dressed and prepared for the inclement weather. Thad and I worked out our route as we rode with only about 1 street ahead planned out. The main goal was to avoid West End Ave yet not vear too far off course since we were already running late. We enjoyed riding through many a quaint neighborhood before finally giving up and braving West End/Harding for the last mile to Belle Meade Blvd. Here we were good cyclists and rode single file, paceline style to try to get to the park entrance as soon as we could to not keep our future riding partners waiting too much longer.
site note: these type of rides teach you quickly the importance of wearing glasses and keeping your mouth closed while riding close behind the rider in front of you, even if they are using a fender.

We didn't dilly dally long after meeting up with Mr. Clean and Bikeme. I did trade Crosschecks
with MeanJoe and gave his fixie a go. As the group started to enter the park I look down and see my rear tire is flat! auuhh I'd been "Joed"! We yelled and screamed and got a response from the group though we were still left to wallow in their wet dust as I changed my first flat of the day. Bikeme rolled back and pulled MeanJoe and me back to the group, who about ran us into the holler. When you think someone is lost, do you stay where you are or do you backtrack your path at full speed, riding 3 abreast in a park with blind corners? Thankfully our group of 3 didn't plant their face into any of the other group of 3 riding towards us; even if MeanJoe did lose some cartilage stopping his fixie on a dime.

This first loop took us quite a while to finish as I had another flat where everyone offered everything they could to help, including a shriveled tube, a pump that barely worked, and a pump that worked your arms into jello. I somehow lived through with a CO2 to use another day. KRS1 tested Stan's pressure ratings and lost in an explosion of white goop. Thankfully he was climbing slowly at the time of the shooting and he was able to recover and stay out of the ditch. After we finally finished the first loop we were all wanting more since we'd finally got a groove going, but at the same time the stop and go of the first lap wore us out. We went back in for a short 1/2 loop and then parted ways with Mr. Clean and decided on some lunch at 5 Guys.

I only saw 2 guys there but the burger and cajun fries were great and hit the spot for some wet, tired cyclists. We all made our attempts to finish the generous helping of fries and loaded up back to head back to our cars and more importantly, some refreshments at the tap room. I wasn't able to stick around long as I have many house projects to finish before my parents come visit for the holidays but I made time to sample the two newer brews, Hop Project 9 and the Wassail. It hurt to leave so early, but I had to go and finish my bathroom project, those rooms are kind of important with guests in town.

On the house front, we are all moved in, almost settled and working out the kinks of an old house, more room than we've ever had, and trying to stay warm and cheery through the crap weather we've been having. We've been knocking out little projects right and left and I just finished up the most recent project in the downstairs bath. Long story short: someone at some point needed access to the pipes behind the sink and cut a huge 12"x25" hole in the drywall. Not a huge deal if you're living where it's always 70 degrees outside. When it was 30 outside there was a very cold breeze blowing into the house from this hole. I cut some drywall to fill the hole and temporary put it up with tape with plans to truly fix it later. With my parents coming to town for Xmas, later became now. But to do it right I needed to remove the sink and vanity (again) to gain access to the entire hole. Out came the drywall mud, tape and putty knives and 3 days later it's all put back and working, no leaks or nothin. One other thing I got to fix was that when the painters got around to the bathroom, the sink had already been put back so they couldn't paint behind it. We still had some visible blue paint on the sides and inside the vanity to deal with. I just went a head and painted it when I had the vanity and sink removed so now it looks super nice and professional. Feel free to check out my Flickr photos at the link to the right if you're interested in more photos. I know this isn't the biggest project ever, but for a new homeowner it feels rewarding to tackle and conquer any project.

We also have a new addition to our not-quite-totally-empty dining room. Fred was very generous, not only in helping me with my new bike build but also with supplying us with a hand-me-down double bike stand. If our dining room isn't going to have any dining room furniture in it, it might as well have some cool bikes! Thanks Fred!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My journey to a custom bike

Ok, it's here, it's built up and it's been ridden...... and it's awesome!!

For some back story: In late April I got fed up with riding bikes with full suspension and gears, and started considering selling my Ventana and upgrading my singlespeed to a better frame. After a ton of research and contemplation I settled on having Scott Quiring build me a custom titanium bike. After talking with Scott and looking at his customer gallery I realized that he makes 95% 29ers and 5% 26ers. hmmm ok this got me thinking that it would be a good idea to test ride some 29ers and see if I'd like one.

After test riding jjscarff's Redline Flight and MeanJoe's Karate Monkey I decided it was time to try something completely new and go big. I liked the way their bikes rode at Hammy and Lock4, even rigid so I just decided to go for it. I put in my order in at the beginning of July. Scott Quiring mentioned an 8 week wait and having read up on a lot of custom builds online (from all kinds of builders), I figured 10-12 weeks was a more fair estimate of the time.

After ordering up the frame I went down to Harpeth Cycles to have Fred (Soul69) give me the full Serotta Fit system. After a lot of poking, prodding, stretch tests and some miles chasing an imaginary road racer, Fred had me all setup with what bike would fit ME.

I sent these fit numbers on to Scott Quiring, along with a list of questions he had me answer. Half the questions were about my old bike and how it fit, the other half were body measurements that were similar to those Fred got during the Serotta Fit. This was when the waiting started. This was about the 20th of July. Scott and I emailed back a bunch about head angles and fork offsets and axle to crown measurements and then he got started on designing the frame.

Around the middle of August I got a frame drawing from Scott emailed to me. I mulled over it and forwarded it on to Fred and Thad (Johnny5) and got their opinion. Fred and I compared the frame drawing with the info we got from the Serotta fit. This was one step that I stalled a week on, thinking a lot about the numbers and comparing them to my Serotta fit. A week later I made a few tweaks to the top tube measurements and decided on having Scott also make me a custom steel fork for the bike that shared the offset of the 2009 Reba and the sagged axle to crown height. At the end of August I received the updated 2nd frame drawing with the changes and again I took a week or so to mull over it. At the beginning of Sept I OKed the 2nd drawing and the waiting began again.

At this point I just waited. I tried not to think too much about the bike and tried not to pester Scott about when he thought it would be ready. I had hopes that I would have it in time to race the Swank65 in the first week of November but it didn't happen. I just kept riding my Soma and enjoying life. Oh during this time I also decided to buy a house, searched for houses, bought a house and started moving and also my brother-in-law passed away so I had a lot on my plate and many things to keep me occupied.

Nov 24th I receive an email from Scott saying my frame and fork were finished and ready to ship that week. Problem is this was Thanksgiving week and I was leaving town Tuesday. So I had to wait til the next week to have him ship it so I could make sure I was home. After a few FedEx snafus, I finally picked up my frame and fork and brought it home. I believe it was 18 weeks from order to delivery with some stalling by me because of my indecisiveness.

In the time I was waiting I was able to pick up the parts I'd need one by one which was nice. I used some parts off my Soma like cranks. chain and saddle and bought some parts online, from Dan Hensley and from Harpeth Cycles. I used my Chris King rear hub from my 26er wheel and bought a new Hope Pro II to have Rick Harmon at Harpeth Cycles build my 29er wheels. I kept the Juicy7 brakes from my Ventana and bought some aftermarket levers for them. Fred and Rick were awesome and got me all setup with parts and wheels and Rick expertly installed my bottom bracket (no small feat) and my headset. I installed most of the rest at home and then had Kelly Benward (FullSquishy) help me cut the steerer tube and install the star nut. It was a team effort and it all came together perfectly! Thanks to everyone to helped with this build, whether with parts, labor, or moral support!!!

So without further ado I present my new titanium custom Quiring.

Chris Cooper polished my White Industries cranks for me. He did an awesome job on them!!

You can see the rest of the pics here:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Build kit is as follow:

Frame: Quiring Custom Titanium 29er
Fork: Quiring Custom Steel
Stem/Seatpost: Thomson
BB: Phil Wood SS square taper
Cranks: White Industries ENO
Pedals: Time ATAC composite
Font Tire: Panaracer Rampage 2.35
Rear Tire: Kenda Karma 2.2
Rims: Stan's Flow 29er
Front Hub: Hope Pro II
Rear Hub: Chris King SS
Brakes: Avid Juicy7
Brake levers: Twenty6
Saddle: WTB Rocket Race
Handlebar: Salsa Promoto 17deg sweep
Grips: Oury
Chain: SRAM 850
Cog: Endless Kickass Cog 20t

Edit: I also purchased a killer red Chris King headset from Jeff S. (BikeMe) and another set of Time ATAC pedals from Tryon (TryFour).

Friday, December 12, 2008


That's "fineeeeee", not "fine".

The Quiring build is complete. Steerer is cut (measure how many times?) and star nut is set. Thanks to HalfSquishy, aka Kelly B! Big thanks to him for helping me complete the final steps and the moral support during the cutting of the steerer tube.

What no pics you say?? Nope. It's not quite time to debut this bad boy. That and I didn't have time before the sun set to take the bike for it glamour shots. Kelly and Tim S have seen it... ask them what it looks like! I think it looks bad ass and from the little bit that of time I spent sitting on it in the hallway, it's gonna ride awesome! heh

I'm really looking forward to taking the Quiring out on it's madien voyage. Unfortunately I've developed a cold with some serious sinus pressure. That and oh yea, there was snow out! I hope the forecast changes for the new week cus right now it's looking bleak!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The build is coming along nicely. Fred and Rick at Harpeth Cycles have come through big time with getting the wheels laced up quickly, my King hub serviced and installing my headset and BB. I spent some quality time tonight putting the pieces together while watching some "For Your Eyes Only". It's been a long time since I have assembled a bike from the ground up. It's exciting and so far is all coming together well. I got the wheels all set and tires installed with the magic Stan's goop. I've got a few pieces of bling left to debut and I'm hoping to be able to ride the thing by this weekend.

Me and some friends (and new bloggers) rode at Percy Warner Park today. I was really wanting to get on the bike and the weather was just not looking good for the entire week. I saw an opening in the forecast and sent some emails. HalfSquishy, Mr. Clean and Tim S. showed up to hit the hilly, wet roads of the park. The weather wasn't great, but the ride was awesome. The park was very quite, no one was there but us and the fog was thick. We rode to the nice overlook of downtown only to see about 50 yards into the fog. It was great! Really gave you the feeling you were riding somewhere exotic like the woods of France or something. We were also treated to a gang of male turkeys, which Chris (Mr. Clean) and I got to see a second time on our second lap. We also saw a good sized buck to which Chris mentioned: "Man, he looks like he could really kick our ass if he wanted." It was good times for sure...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sir, They've delivered a healthy Quiring

After quite the run-around, I have taken ownership of a very light bike box filled with a frame and fork. I snapped some quick photos to appease the masses, and add to my smugness.

The frame looks awesome! If it hasn't been obvious yet, it's a Quiring titanium 29er with hooded Paragon sliding dropouts and a steel rigid fork. The fork was intended to be painted to match the finish of the raw titanium. It turned out more on the glossy/tan color side but I think it looks good. (Edit: I've been told by my art-major wife that the color is more 'warm silver'.) It will be much more clear once the parts get put on.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Just got back from the Renegade Holiday show in chilly Chicago. 1 more successful craft show in the bag for Freshie and Zero. We braved the frigid temps, icy roads and dangerous guitine elevators to mingle with the hip indie crafters and finish our xmas shopping. We both had a great time (as usual for Chicago) and even though it was only 8 degrees yesterday when we headed to the show, we managed to stay relatively warm and dry all day. Dry was a great thing if you remember our last trip to Chicago and the last Renegade show where it rained non-stop from Friday to Sunday and almost flooded the streets of Chicago.

I came home to a couple boxes of bike parts. Hmm by my mental count, I believe I have all the parts needed to make a 29er single speed. Oh wait, not quite yet... I still need a frame!! what the! Oh yea, it's still sitting on FedEx waiting to be picked up! I tried to get it friday before I left town. After seeing it labeled as "on the truck for delivery", even though I'd called and asked for it to be left for me to pickup, I headed over to our old condo to wait on the FedEx man. After waiting (and cleaning) for about an hour and a half, FedEx came.... and went, without stopping!! What the!! So I check the tracking info again.... oh now it says, "at FedEx location, waiting on customer pickup." what!?!? So it appears they put it on the truck, then took it back off 1:45 min later... bad timing on my part. So the frame had to sit at FedEx for the weekend. I hope they were nice to it!

I'm crashing after forcing my body to stay awake and alert for the past 8 hours on the road... I'll leave you with another shot of future bike parts.... minus the smug grin this time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

back on track

What is this blog supposed to be about anyhow? biking, oh yea... I like to do that! I slipped out of town early this morning and met J5 and H for what was to be an easy paced ride around Monty Bell.

Work hasn't been very busy lately but I've had no trouble filling my time with house projects. I entertained the idea of bringing my crosscheck home with me for Thanksgiving but decided I didn't really want to ride alone and didn't want to deal with the hassles. Lazy? yep! But I did enjoy a lot of R&R chillin' at home with my parents and brother's family.

Today was a great day to get out and I just had to do what I could to seize the break in the arctic weather. It was still cold at 8am when I headed out and it was tough to decide on how many layers to wear. I settled on just a long sleeve baselayer, wool Yazoo jersey, knee warmers and a pair of woolie Swiftwick 12s. After warming up on the bike, I was toasty and felt great the rest of the ride. The trail was completely full of leaves but offers some great views. It was fun to ride a head and spot Thad and H weaving through the trees towards me.

I tried to concentrate on my flow and my momentum. Monty Bell can be pretty smooth if you learn to be more loose and go with the trail. I notice as I begin to fatigue, my flow also suffers and I get more clumsy. This is something I'd like to work on in the few months. I think it will be good to have some winter riding goals.

We rode the full race loop and I gotta say I enjoyed every minute of it. Far from how I felt at the race held at Monty Bell in Aug. I still struggled in some of my usual spots but I cleaned some sections that generally force a dismount. My 32x18 gearing felt great once again. I'm wondering if I should just give up hope on going back to 32x17 anytime soon. I've really been enjoying the slightly easier gear the past few months. I've got the new bike speced to start off with 32x20 (29er) which should keep me around the 32x18 (26er) area. I won't dwell too much on the new bike, (or Thad will whine) but it's in Toledo right now, on it's way for a Thurs delivery.

I had to resurect my old Hadley geared rear wheel from the depths of storage for todays ride. Having take my SS wheel apart to deliver to Harpeth Cycles, I was in need of something to use on the Soma. I remembered I had a Fibroncini spacer kit from a while back and went to work getting the wheel prepared for action. First step was getting the 18t cog on and spaced well. This turned into quite the project requiring two different lockrings and a dremel. My driveside dropout had a little too much paint in it which hendered my axle from moving forward enough to tension the chain. After some quick sanding I was in luck. Next I had to re-tube the wheel. It was setup tubeless with some Stan's but hadn't been refreshed in probably 6 months. I didn't think it prodent to waste some more Stan's sealant on the wheel since I may potentially not ride this wheel much, if at all, after I get the new bike built. So after cleaning up all the old, dirty, slimy and slightly congealed sealant, I slapped in a tube and had the bike built up and ready to go quickly.

I worked fast because my new workshop is detached from the house, and completely not climate controlled. Working on your bike when it's 35 degrees will keep you on task. The only thing left that I needed was the adapter for my tugnut so I could keep my wheel in place, only kind of important. Thad came through and let me borrow his brand spankin' new one. The wheel worked great. I did notice some play in the hub/axle/dropout and at first attributed it to a loose axle. After I tightened it and it was still there, I figured it's the Salsa quick release axle. I think it's just slightly smaller than the inner diameter of the hub. Probably not the best thing for it to stay like that but I'm not gonna worry about it too much since I shouldn't be riding this wheel for long.

They are calling for rain and colder temps tonight but possibly a dry day tomorrow. I'd like to possibly ride into work, and of course the tap room later on. (maybe even hit Percy Warner) I hope the weatherman is right!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

smug update

Part #23 for the new bike has arrived....

never had a silver Thomson before....I don't think a Marsupial has one either.

wheels keep on turnin'

New frame is finished, but sitting in Michigan. Not sure if the fork is done yet, hope so and I hope it's shipping soon...

Stem is in, rims are in, chainring and cogs are in, seat post, front hub and tires are on order. King hub is removed from crappy old 317 rim and ready for it's new home, laced to a 29er Stan's Flow.

Wonder when the bike will be ridable... hope it ships soon!

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