Sunday, April 21, 2024

Rock Lake Cable Wisconsin IMBA Epic Plus

Honestly this was a long time ago and I guess I meant to write a post. Something must have come up.

But Many, MANY years before this I came to the area for my first MTB race.  Thinking shorter was better for me, being pretty green and all.  You see I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota and MTBing was in its infancy.  You heard about races from word of mouth, from other riders, bike shops, but mostly from reading about them in the magazines.

The Chequamegon 40 in Hayward Wisconsin, was a biggy in my neck of the woods, but still a haul.  Silly Green me drove all the way out there to do the first day of short track on the bunny hill and got smoked in the grass.  Dejected, but some how still wanted to pursue racing.  

My second race wasn't much better....

That one was in Redwing Minnesota, Nothing close to the Twin Cities of course. It had rained the night before and the clay was making bricks on my narrow seat stays and power cam brakes on my Cannondale Mountain Bike.  So much so, it forced the bike to stop and me to dig out the clay bricks.  LOL  It took so long to complete my pre ride that I missed the start.  The clay had dried enough that they started the race.  Crazy.  So dejection number 2 was in the books.  But I did learn the importance of seat and chain stay clearance.  Oh the memories.

Some years after that, my friend Steve (he was born and raised in Wisconsin) and we managed the resources to get to the Chequamegon 40.  That was a big deal for us at the time.

Having no Strava or Garmin files from that era, just memories.  No camera phones back then and I can't remember when I last knew where the photographs were. 

So it is nice that I rode the IMBA Epic that would all these years later jog my memory and let me recall those early early days of mountain biking for better or worse....

Strava File:

Sunday, March 10, 2024

BCT Back Canyon Trail North of Black Canyon City



I exclaim every time I go near that....THAT CURSED river!   Why? you ask.

Well let me tell ya a story;

To tell the truth 90% of the ride was fine and dandy.  Uneventful lets say.  
If you're like me, you like loops as opposed to out and backs.  So I started in Black Canyon City and took the Maggie Mine gravel road to Crown King Gravel road, Past Bumble Bee almost to Cordes before pointing south off of Antelope Creek road onto the BCT, the Black Canyon Trail.  Now a gravel road is well, a gravel road and not that damn interesting and 25 miles of it gets old, so maybe an out and back would be better.  The BCT itself was mostly fun well executed single track and miles and miles of it so it was very nice.  Not too polished or buff, not to gnarly.  I have to say, that I am also not a fan of shuttles, I believe you should earn your descents, but this trail is a definite candidate for shuttling.

Now all would have been well and good, except for one almost fatal flaw in my judgement.  This trail had been so well built for 25 miles I assumed it would continue that way back to the trail head and I would make it back before dark. If only I had ended at Soap creak and took the road back to the trail head (insert shaking my head emoji) 

The first 50 miles took like 6 and a half hours (6 rolling) that last 8 miles extricating myself in the failing light took almost 3 hours (only 1.5 rolling). 

So I continue on, in my ignorant bliss.  The trail gets a little less buff, less well marked and more fire roadie.  "Did I miss that last marker?" Lets check my down loaded track. "Glad I down loaded this area before losing cell coverage."  "Looks like I'm still on course." I come to a fork and it seems I should go left, but there is no marker, "What's the harm in a little adventuring, Right?"  So down the hill I go, to wide area along the river. With no discernable trail. The river is raging.  I see a house on the other side of the river, it's lights pointing out that dusk is settling in.  No bridge across and no way out but the way I came down.  Check the GPS again.  I am off the purple line.  Must have been the right at the fork.

Now I should have turned back then and there....

No not me, I carry on, even find a bit of trail and a marker, all be it ambiguous.  It leads back to the river Further upstream, I think, I see MTB tire and cycling shoe tracks Heading up what may sometimes be a water fall.  And I am dead on the purple line, man.  I climb up and see some down trees across a raging river.  There was no way I was risking that in the near dark, with not guarantee that I would have to come back across in even less light!

I had to turn back and make the most of what twilight was left.

I was making my way back at a reasonable clip when total darkness fell.  I pulled out my phone and rode by its flash light, at a much reduces pace.  That only lasted so long before I was in the dark again and almost going off the trail in a not so forgiving spot.  

So Hike-A-Bike it would be... 

...At long last I emerged onto the last fire road that I had crossed.  I could see a very bright light, perhaps over a school athletic field or municipal building.  I plipped back in and started down the fire road, navigating as if by Braille, butt further off the back than probably necessary, keeping the front wheel light in case of an unforeseen pothole.  The whole time ready to react to whatever force that was transmitted from the front wheel, up the fork through the stem into the handlebars.

Then a sigh of relief as I glide onto a concrete wash crossing now visible in alternating shadow and dim light.  Wait what's that ahead Head lights.  Great! meet at an intersection, they turn left in front of me and I scurry to get behind and use their beams to help me scan the road for trouble.  Soon I was back in civilization and back to the car.  

Pressed the I'm OK button on my Spot tracking device, letting the wife know I was alive, if not long over due.  Plugged in the phone and got into dry clothes.  Started home the 2 hour drive.  Another one in the books.

Failure list.
Not starting at the crack-O-dawn.
No light for the night portion of the ride, unexpected though it may have been.
Assuming that the trail was stayed as nice as beginning.
Not researching that water crossing. 


Friday, March 8, 2024

Black Oval chainring, Crank Breaker?

    So, eight years ago, when my 3x9 was wearing out and 1 bys were becoming all the rage, I opted for the Shimano XT 42-11 cassette and needing a no drop chainring I got a 32t from Black Oval. 

See hear for the install:

Yes, I kept the package for Eight years!

My First ride on this set up was May 24th, 2016.  And While I did not ride much after May 2017 Strava says I logged 212 rides on that set up since.  I am not prepared to do the data mining yet for the miles and elevation gain, LOL!  Needless to say, it was a lot. I did replace the chain in October of 2019, when I got back on the horse to ready myself for some friends that were visiting in February.

So, as I was JRA anticipating getting my single speed together going up a short steepish climb in the 32/21 I believe and bang, I thought I broke the chain, not so lucky, while the chain did get twisted a bit, I looked down to see a mangled mess of twisted chainring.  Thinking to myself that’s odd, but I have more at home.  But before I could contemplate the walk out to the road, I realized a much bigger shock, three of the ears that held the chainring on the crank had completely snapped off!!!! and the 4th was ripped open?  This is an XT crankset and yes, I have put umpteen miles on it and I tipped the scale at 240+ pounds and my legs were getting strong after a few months on the bike (After 4 years off) and lifting many kegs at work, but jumping Jehoshaphat!  Me and My buddy just stood there not quite comprehending what had happened.  My friend, who worked in a bike shop for quite some time said, "That's a new one" and between us we thought we had seen broken or broken ourselves, everything on a bike.  I also worked at a bike shop for several years and one of my friends wife use to call me "everything is broken Man"  

But I digress.  So was it metal fatigue, was I too fat.  While my friend rode to get the car and I walked to the nearest trail head, (we were halfway through a 14-mile ride) I had time to ponder and wonder if the Black Oval chainring, which was light weight (maybe too light) and the material around the bold holes got nowhere near the lands on the crank was the culprit.  All the bolts were still tight in the threaded chainring holding on the three ears from the crank, suggesting that the chainring fold/twisted under the load and twisted off the ears of the crank.

There was a silver lining though, we thrashed that evening and converted My Lynskey with a Black Sheep fork, back to its single best destiny... a 

Single Speed

Saturday, March 2, 2024


  I have been gone for a while and oh so much has changed  I pulled a Forrest Gump about 7 years ago and just stopped riding.  Yea no one saw that coming not even me.  About 4 years ago My Friend TK was doing a training camp at Mc Dowell MT Park in February so I did Ride for a few months so I would not completely blow.  But then Covid hit and I did the opposite of everybody else and stopped riding.  Besides I hadn't adapted to summers in the Valley here in Arizona yet anyway Yada Yada Yada.  Fast forward To November 2023 when my buddy George came to visit.  We had no plans to ride.  But my seeing him was the spark I needed.  I proceed to break my Powertap hub at the gate, so we hiked.  I had  laced up a wheel several year ago, so I tensioned it and we were off to the races..... Whoa slow down, man did I blow Ha, Ha, Ha.  After of course setting up 7 year old new tubeless tires.  Boy was I out of practice!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Colorado Trail Durango Segment 28

Well the description on says "Drive (or ride) approximately 18 miles up Junction Creek Road to the junction with FS 171N. This intersection is well marked with a sign to the Colorado Trail."  Well challenge accepted!  I had been going a little further up FS 204 (Junction Creek Rd) each week or so, at least up to where the snow hadn't melted yet.  Then I put it off another week, as a visitor from Thailand, of all places, came to Durango to ride Kenebec pass, which he was told was still snowed in.  Looking at the map, I was not sure which section of the Colorado trail that was on.  I did some killer rides up at Hermosa creek in the mean time.

I hit the Forest Service road for a little threshold training at the beginning of the couple hour HC climb.  I keep riding up past the upper trail crossing of Log Chutes 2, (last ride this is all I had), gaining 2000 feet in about an hour, past the Animas overlook, ( a common drop into unnamed single track for me).  I continued up past Log Chutes 3 and Downhill trail head, past Rand's Point and Cape Horn.  I caught a glimpse of Kenebec pass, (as pointed out bu a local I meat on the Extended ridge trail over looking Durango) and if I understood him correctly, it still looked snow locked to me.  But I never seemed to get above it and actually started to descend a fair ways to 171,

which climbed a little to the Colorado trail Crossing.

While the Strava file shows mainly a descent (Lower Kenebec, not the pass) for some time it seemed like there was a lot of up and down even before the last brutal climb to high point.

There is a beautiful waterfall about 2 miles down:

Followed by a smaller falls that you rode right along, about 3 miles down:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

one by eleven

While I have original flavor SRAM Red on my road bike now, I am mainly a Shimano guy.  XT is my "Go To" on a mountain bike, I have used 105 on a road bike and drool over DI2 for either.  Even so I covet that SRAM 10 to 42 tooth cog.  My 9 speed is getting a little long in the tooth sic, the last chain I put on had to be "Ridden in" some before all the gears worked.  I recently tried to repeat this feat and she was just not having it.  Well it has been two years (I have ridden my single speed and road bike a fair amount of that time).  I have ridden my 9 speed straight through the existence of 10 speed.  The last chain that rode in was around when XTR released 11 speed and SRAM was introducing a second level, all boo koo bucks.  Fast forward to today,,, Finally durable, affordable, raceable XT was came along and now that I need it, it is high demand of course.

I am concerned that 32/42 will not be low enough in the the long High mountains of Durango,  I have been practicing using a similar low gear, which showed promise.  On the flip side I am wondering if I will miss that high gear inch that the 42/11 rolled out.  I am from the old school when the standard CR was 48-38-28 with at 12-28 6 speed cassette, but I never road that in the actual mountains.

I finally sourced all the parts, but had to get an XTR shifter, due to availability.  I hope the pretty carbon parts hold up to my abuse.  First ride tomorrow, here are some pics of the parts old and new.

Out with the Old

In with the New and Uncluttered
Trio of Shimano goodies
Add in the Ablolute Black Oval Chain Ring
Derailleur, Good in a clutch!
Big as my 160 brake rotor
The Oval Office
Hope it makes up for that low gear I will not have
All Shiny and ready to Rock

Doing this on the cheap meant using my perfectly good old 104 BCD XT 175mm crank.
I am running a SRAM 1190 chain, until it wares out, then will probably switch to KMC as they seem to take for ever to stretch out.

Dialed in the chain length and B tension and everything seems ready for a real world test.

I like the threaded chain ring bosses on the Absolute Black, time will tell if it holds up.  But I got to go back to steel bolts.  I used the long ones from the old granny ring.  I was using aluminum CR bolts and nuts so I could use an Allen wrench on both sides.  Mute point now.

The Derailleur cage is stiff with that clutch on, I have been drooling over that since I got my 9 speed shadow derailleur just before the clutch came out.  We will see if the clutch and the Narrow Wide CR actually keep the chain and reduce chain stay slap, on in the conditions that I ride in, rough and rigid.  That 11t is still really close to the chain stay.

I am so looking forward to not having a front derailleur.  I can now move up my rear wheel in the sliders and not drag rocks across a derailleur.  And of course you loose the weight, the shifting and the shifter. 

I took this opportunity to use a lock in to limit the inward movement of my grips.  Even wire tied they migrate in, I hope this solves this problem.  Lock ons are to thin in the cushion department and not work on my bars anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gudy's Rest Durango Colorado

Pretty cool Lolly pop, the handle starts from the Colorado trail TH just inside the San Juam National Forest with Dry Fork and Hoffheins as the loop.  Very nice, single track follows Junction Creek for a few miles and then up some serious switchbacks to Gudy's rest(which you get to go down on the way back).  Mostly climbing until you either go down Hoffheins to  an up Dry Fork or visa versa.  I did the former and the Dry forks descent was pretty fun and the climb back up Hoffheins was not to bad.  The description from described it going other way and I saw several riders going that direction.  I will have to try it that way, but I like getting most of the climbing done in one chunk.  So climbing Dry Fork last would give a break in the climbing.  Judging form the going down Dry Fork, the climb up would be a doozy and the DH on Colorado Trail would have a lot of root drops that would feel like stairs.