Thursday, December 30, 2010

Waxless Touring here I come!

The Nordic bug has been knocking on my recreational door for some time now.  I think at least the past two seasons I have come close to buying a setup but just never got around to it.  This year is the year and I snagged a used waxless touring set up at the Gunstock Nordic Center.  Figured I go with something I could ski classic on groomed stuff as well as take off track a bit to start and then get a skate setup if I really like the whole nordic thing and the trails at Gunstock.

These even have metal edges so if I find anything cool out in the woods I can try and shred it and maybe not die.

Fischer (we have to) Explorers

I don't know a whole lot about the current nordic tech but I believe these have older model Salomon Pilot bindings.  The boots I scored were newer Salomon tech so I needed to mod the bindings a tad.  According to the guy at the nordic center its a fairly common mod and I love saving money and tweaking stuff in the shed so I went for it.  All that was required was cutting out a small notch in the binding to accommodate the second rail on the boots.

 Pre mod, with notch marked

notch cut out with hacksaw and cleaned up with an exacto-knife

boot mounted post mod

The boots I got are what are called "combi" because they can be used with classic or skate set ups, all I need to do is make sure I get Pilot bindings with the two rail slots on any skate skis I eventually get.  I am pretty pumped to see what I can get myself into with these as well as getting in lots of additional cardio with a skate setup.

I'm thinking something along the lines of this is in order.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gargantubehemega Day on Cannon

In case it is not obvious I made that word up.  Gargantuan, behemoth and mega had a love child on Monday at Cannon.  When all was said and done the resort was claiming 28-31 inches of snow and I shredded every last flake.  Well not really but as much as could be jammed into about 7 hours of non stop riding.

It is really hard to put a day like yesterday into words.  I'm still trying to quantify how big of a deal it is that I was able to take advantage of those conditions.  So many things can conspire to keep you off the mountain that hitting a day like this is really amazing.  I can pretty safely say that I have never skied snow that deep.  I had one pretty big day at the Canyons in '98 but I was only 16-17 and didn't really know quite how to ski stuff like that back then and I'm still not sure that day was 2ft plus.  I doubt that it was.  Making this the deepest most ridiculous day on snow I have ever had.

The snow was so deep that it brought you to a dead stop on anything but the steeper features.  You could easily carve into drifts and disappear, literally.  We lapped the Front 5 all morning for the steeper grades and better visibility.  Easily waist deep all morning and screw face shots, the stuff was flying up and over my head and not because I flipped it up with my tips or purposely hit a drift just the right was everywhere.

We also got a few runs over at Mittersill and one into Kinsman.  Kinsman was a bit gnarly, deep but just deep enough to hide features that you could still hit.  As long as you guessed right it was pretty epic but a few wrong guesses caused some issues but nothing major.  Mittersill was really beyond explanation, I love the terrain over there and you add 2+ft of snow and forget it.  Complete awesome induced brain meltdown.  I think the highlight was probably Candyland.  Its just hard enough to find that most people miss it but accessible enough that you don't waste much time getting to it.  I was able to hit Candyland a few more times today and no one had found it since our runs yesterday and I was the only one in there today.

Not a whole lot more ways to convey the awesome so I'll let some of the pics do the talking.  Per usual they don't do the day complete way pics are going to come out perfect in a blizzard and extreme props to Bill for even trying to get some.  It was cold and taking a glove off for some pics would not have been high on my list.

 I think this is one of the best shots for actually showing some of the depth

 Shredding AKA trying to not get stuck

(i love captions that only two people will understand) 

 Hip-Deep-Hurray for powder!

gonna see a lot of us this season. Ruff Ryders!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

So Sick

I was really sick this morning and decided to stay home from work to get some rest. Surprisingly, I slept for maybe another 10mins and got up feeling great.  With no plans for the day I decided to check my phone for the snow report from Cannon.  6in overnight on top of 4 from yesterday?! Imagine that!  Seeing as how I had bounced back I decided to go get some pre-Christmas powder.  Seemed like the prudent thing to do.

I had thought this little system coming in was a bit under the radar for the masses but apparently a lot of people read FIS now.  Got crowded fast, more so than on mediocre weekend days.  I got there early enough and was up for first chair though.  Visibility was pretty poor up top.  Made things really interesting early.  You just had to point and go and trust that the force would steer you accordingly.  Worked out all right and the snow was amazing.  Very cushy and bouncy, it almost felt inflated in a way.  Irwin and I took a few warm ups off the Peabody waiting for Bill to get suited up then we did laps off the Front 5.  Visibility was much better over there and there is nothing like ripping those steeps in about 6-8in of powder.

We were even able to duck into Snow Maker's and Whiskey Jar for a run or two.  Still some junk under there but mostly awesome.

Bill's camera is back in effect

Unfortunately all the powder has obscured my purple pants, but I'm over it.  I have been digging this year so far.  No real big epic days yet but this was close and all the other days have been good and its been real consistent.  No wishy-washy thaws and freezes just slowly but surely building up the awesome.  Looking forward to '11

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Soylent Green

This bike is people

Made it a tiny bit farther with this build as well.  Got the rim tape needed to get my old road wheelset back in action as well as some Kenda Kwick's that Shaun bequeathed to me when they didn't fit on his Langster about 400 years ago.  They've been hanging in the shed waiting ever since....until now.

I also have a new front derailleur on order as well as the fork.  Went with the Surly Cross Check, decently cheap and I like Surly's rep for robustness and I have never had an issue with anything else Surly in the past.  Once those parts arrive, hopefully over Holiday break, I can have this ride all set and cabled (except for brakes).  I am really interested to see how the fit works out.  I think I am going to have to do some experimenting with the front end to see what feels the best...or who knows maybe my guess that it would be better to have this frame be a bit smaller was right and it will be perfect.  I did manage to guess on a perfect chainline when building Blue up SS, maybe I'm developing that unteachable bike wrench 'touch'.

I am still trying to decide what kind of canti brakes I'm going to go with.  I don't have much experience with canti's and I don't want to shell out too much $$ but at the same time I want something that will be manageable.  I have heard canti's can be a nightmare to get adjusted just right.  Gonna put my wrenching 'touch' to the test.


My latest parts order arrived yesterday so I was able to get a little more done on this ride.  Got the front end all fitted and installed as well as cabled up the derailleurs.  All it needs now are some brakes...that I still need to purchase, and it will be 100%.

So tonight I installed the new Surly fork, as well as the old cockpit setup from the monster cross.  Luckily I guessed right with the sizing of the frame and the old stem gave me a perfect riding position with just the one spacer with the cable stop for the canti brakes.  I was able to set the crown race on the new fork following some internet wisdom.  A legit crown race setting tool can run you $30-60 and for some reason I just don't feel like spending that much for that particular tool.  I have spent that much on bike tools that I don't use very often but this particular tool is basically a pipe you hit with a hammer...I'm not paying $60 for that.  Instead I bought a 10ft section of 1.5in PVC for $4 and cut off a 16in piece and hit it with a hammer.  Bingo. God bless the internet.

I ran into a very slight issue with the front derailleur.  I have come to realize that I really hate derailleurs...using them, installing them, cabling them, trying to buy the right one.  Top swing? Bottom pull? High clamp? Low Clamp?  My issue was created because I thought low clamp front derailleurs were only needed for new fangled FS frames that don't have a lot of room to mount the FD due to the linkage for the suspension.  And I have read that high clamp are 'better' due to better leverage, durability, etc.  So I thought high clamp should be good right? sure! trigger pulled.  Turns out not so much.

Ended up having to mount the FD just above the bottom cage bolt on the seat tube in order to get the thing positioned right.  Hilariously I found a cage that could still be mounted as long as I used a slightly longer bolt on the bottom.  Does it look stupid?  You betcha.  Does it work?  Yup.  Moving on.

I probably won't rock the three bottle cages all the time I just wanted to see it loaded to capacity.  It's just like the monster...but way more svelte.  Going to make it a bit easier to commute more consistently I'm sure as well as more efficient to take longer rides around the house.  It's also nice to have a legit tourer that if I actually bought racks for could really go to task.  I might even be able to do some cross races for fun on this bad boy.  We'll see, I still really don't feel like getting into the whole USA cycling thing and buying more licenses to race.


Just need some bar tape and I am riding Soylent Green!  And if I hadn't goofed while pulling the front brake cable back a bit to trim the housing I would be able to ride it now but I accidentally pulled it completely out of the housing and couldn't get it back in without removing the bar tape (and ruining it, never buying that kind of tape again...adhesive on it SUCKED) and removing the housing to thread it back in.

I had some issues with the brakes but not the issues I was anticipating.  I figured getting the canti's properly dialed was going to be a huge pain in the ass.  Surprisingly once all was said and done that was the easiest...although I probably just got a bit lucky.  The worst part was getting the damn things cabled and figuring out the right way to get the cable hangers set up properly.  The high rise stem in the front created a tight fit with the headset hanger.  But I got that one cabled decent after getting physical with it.  The hanger in the rear was another story.  I was trying all kinds of hilarious jerry rigging to get it just right and it was just not happening.  Turns out I was using the wrong ferrule cable stop.  I really lucked out and found the right one in my 'parts jug' (when I went to look for it it was sitting right on top, I didn't even have to dump it out).  Once I was using the correct part it actually cabled up relatively easily, go figure.  More lessons learned and another bike to the stable.

I kinda like the way the black of the raw bars looks with this ride so I may just end up getting black bar tape.  Not usually my style but I plan on riding this bike in all kinds of crap so black is probably the prudent choice.

I see Blue!

and he's glooooorious!

got the go, now I just need the stop

Stopped in to Rhino the other day on the way home from Cannon to pick up some random build parts, among them the additional headset spacers I needed to get the cockpit on the new winter bike dialed.  Came together nicely and is actually kinda light!

I think this could be a really fun winter bike with these massive Prowler 2.3's I have on there now.  Just got to let some air out and they will be golden on anything but sheer ice I would imagine and I still have my homemade studs I can throw on this bike if needed if I ever pull off a lake ride.

All that is left now is cabling up the brakes and this thing is ready to ride.  I am thinking I might try and get it completely finished off at some point soon so I can take it out on its inaugural ride over the Holiday break.  There are some flurries in the forecast and I'm pretty sure I would have a blast riding this in 2-3in of fluff


Brakes are cabled! This bad boy is ready to go.  There is still no snow in Sanbornton so I have the unique capability to shred both Cannon and local trails hard.  I have heard local singletrack is still riding great.  Rock hard and FAST.  I had forgotten how bad the pads were on the brakes I installed on this bike.  Took me quite a long time to get things dialed on the stand.  Got them workable but they probably won't last long.  I have one replacement set in the shop as well as some I could steal from the old monster cross brakes (I think the BB5 road versions pads work in the long pull version...)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frozen Shed Session

Gina had a NH Humane Society Holiday party tonight so I figured I would freeze my ass of in the shed and get started on yet another massive parts swap / build as well as do a bit of maintenance on the good 'ole nothin but troubles.

I'm not sure why I continue to bother with those skis.  Edges are burred to complete worthlessness but I suppose every little bit helps...cant get any worse I guess.  They will hopefully be phased out a bit soon anyway.  Once everything fills in and those damn bindings I got a deal on actually ship I will have some fresh fatties to break down to nothingness.

The real action of the evening came with my latest parts swap and bike birth / rebirth.  I can't seem to build a bike and just leave it.  At least some of my bikes anyway.  I was very pleased with my monster cross bike, I thought it was a good build and it performed well at the NH100 last year but when it came down to it it was just too damn heavy.  Sure technically it could do anything / go anywhere but it required so much more energy to do it that it just wasn't really working for me.  I want to commute more next year and my commute is not an easy route and if I want to really get into it a bit more I will need something a bit lighter and more suited to that task, plus a light tourer might allow me to more easily dabble in cross next year? hmmmm

Soooo I scored yet another cheapo Nashbar frame (touring variety this time around) and I am cannibalizing most of the parts from the monster for use with the light tourer and using spare parts to turn the monster into a burly winter SS since my old ice bike has since devolved into parts.  Seemed a decent compromise and the additional investment needed to make it happen is going to come in very low so it made sense.

 so much for the monster

I felt bad stripping the monster down, but I am excited about the two bikes that will emerge from this process.  I had hoped to make it a bit farther this evening but my hands were starting to get pretty cold and working with cold metal tools/frames wasn't helping.  I ran into a few incompatibilities and parts that I thought I had but didn't so I had to table a few things until later.  I should be able to get the burly winter SS back online with just a few more headset spacers.  I thought I had more than I did and I came up about 10mm or so short.  Once I get the spacers I can get the fork mounted again, finish the cockpit and I'll be good to go.

 as far as I could get tonight

Drive train is finished at least.  Running 32-20.  And yes Shine, the zipties are back.  I'll be running my old Thomson stem from the Kona as well as those carbon bars.  Should end up looking pretty sweet and working pretty well as both a decent winter bike and a poor weather / loaner / backup SS.

I also started throwing parts on to the touring frame.  Cranks, pedals, derailleur, seat post, saddle, headset.  Some from the monster some from the parts bin.  Unfortunately the front derailleur from the monster has a clamp diameter that is too small for this frame so I'll have to get a new one.  I still need to buy a fork at some point as well as some rim tape for the wheelset I plan on using.  I am a little worried that I should have bought the 58cm frame but hopefully I can make the 56cm work.  I always felt a bit stretched out on the monster so I thought I would try sizing down but looking at it on the stand it looks small.  Fingers crossed.

I love me some cheap builds

Once I get the parts needed I will start separate posts for each of these builds as I complete them.  Gonna have to figure out new names for each...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Shredding and Some Perspective

Got days two and three on snow racked up this weekend and the 'true' start to the season which I gauge as the first time the riding is hard enough to thrash my lower back.  Happens every year no matter how much core work I do in the gym to prepare.  But its out of the way early this year so that's good.

Jomo and I got up to Jay Saturday to try and snag some of the leftovers from Tuesdays dump.  We were able to find some deep stuff in pockets in the woods but the cover was still very much in the extreme sketch zone.  Lots of obstacles still need to get buried, we were hitting all kinds of stuff and I lost a ski a few times due to getting snagged under a downed tree or root.  I also took a real sweet digger into a exposed muddy drainage while attempting to traverse back to the resort from Timbuktu.  I am happy to report that my gear performed quite well and I stayed dry and was able to wash the mud off with it never happened.

Even with all the junk still exposed in the woods it was still great riding for early Dec and we got as much vert as we could handle.  My body still needs a few hard days of riding to get up to full speed.

With an impending thaw barreling down on us in the forecast we decided to also hit Cannon early on Sunday before things went south for a few days.  Met up with Shaun and Joe and got right to it.  Conditions were pretty good but after an hour or two of riding we all got a solid dose of reality shortly after getting on the Zoomer chair.

We heard several people a few chairs up yelling back to get patrol to the cat track that cuts across the bottom of Zoomer just a few hundred feet up from the base.  Everyone was relaying the message down and up the mountain from chair to chair so that someone could be radioed in.  You could tell there was an urgency beyond someone tweaking a knee.  We probably only missed the crash by a minute or two and a few seconds after first hearing the call we were passing over the scene.  It was hard to tell exactly what happened, his skis were 20-30ft up the hill from where he was laying at the edge of the woods.  To spread out your gear like that there had to be some speed involved.  He was laying motionless and a bit twisted, obviously unconscious and as we passed over head we could see a pool of blood starting to form underneath his head.  It was hard to tell how severe it was from the height we were at but at the time we thought maybe he just double ejected and hit face first...maybe a concussion and a broken nose.

It turns out a 19 year old kid died from his injuries that day.  Incredibly sad and sobering.  Hearing the news this morning was tough.  Really makes you think about stuff in your own life, especially for me having recently crashed hard at Jay two years ago.  My thoughts go out to his family and friends.