Monday, November 22, 2010

Trek MOD ified Big Drift Bigwheel

Back in September I reported the progress on the search for a new bigwheel supplier.  The Big Drifts looked awesome but I knew the rear wheels were going to be a problem and so did the manufacturer below is their response after I reported the results of my test run that melted the wheels off.

Our legal adviser advised us to tell you that our Big Drifts as is shouldn't be used in such a high speed (30 or even 40 mph) as you said.
As you already know, our structure (particularly the rear wheel) is not made for such a high speed and abuse.
Attached please find our "Assembly Instructions", which includes "Warning", which specifies that the maximum speed is 20 km (12.5 mph).
If you go over our maximum speed, please retrofit or re-enforce it enough to endure that kind of high speed and abuse at your own risk.
We're telling you this for your own saftey.
Thank you for your understanding of our concern.

What is the point of living if you can't exceed the 12.5 MPH speed limit! 
Randy had new axles made for the Big Drift that will fit the Trek MOD wheels and now (at my own risk) I am updating the maximum rated speed to brown-out minus .5 MPH.  As long as you can control your sphincter feel free to go as fast as you like, you have my permission. 

I have a limited quantity available in Red, Orange and Yellow they are $350 (Modified axle and Trek wheels included) and I will ship free to the lower 48.  If you want one for the kids to tool around in the neighborhood $250 will get you one in the stock configuration (the wheels will only melt off if they go really really fast) 
Be a Hero this Christmas
Give me a call if you want me to send one out 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 3 Drive It Like You Stole It

While Allyson and I were dating she called and wanted advice on buying a new car. She was at Chatwin Motors in Provo talking with a salesman. She told me that she was going to trade in her Rabbit on a Toyota Tercel. I told her that they would probably inflate the price of the car by $500 and then turn around and give her $500 for the trade. I told her that she would be better off just keeping it and selling it privately if she really wanted to get rid of it. She finished up the paperwork and drove home in her new car leaving the Rabbit at the dealership. Later that night she went back to the dealership after they closed and picked up the Rabbit.

A few years later I was cleaning out some old files and ran across the paperwork from when she bought the Tercel. Curious as to what kind of deal she got on the car I started looking through it. One line item really stood out to me. It was the one that said trade in and had a $500 credit for a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit. I added up the figures just to make sure I was reading it right and sure enough the price of the car had been reduced by $500 for the trade in value of the Rabbit.

I called Allyson into the room for a little explanation. The conversation went a little like this.

Me “Looks like the dealership gave you $500 for the Rabbit”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But you still have the Rabbit?”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But they gave you $500 for it”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “How does that work?”

Allyson “I don’t know”

Me “How did you get the Rabbit back?”

Allyson “I just went and picked it up after they closed”

Me “You stole the car?”

Allyson “No I had a key. I just went and got it”

Me “But you traded it in”

Allyson “Yeah?”

We went back and forth with this for a while and in the end we both stood our ground.

Me “You stole the car”

Her “No I did not”

To this day she denies stealing the car.  I know that she didn't intentionally do it.  It was just a little misunderstanding between her and the dealership.   But that being said it’s a fun little story that I will hold over her head for the rest of her life.

Well it was pretty obvious that the dealership really didn’t want this car and I am pretty sure they never reported the theft to the police. Since then I have been pulled over a couple of times in it and never had any problems so I guess she got away with it.

Tonight the Rabbit went to a new home, not including Chatwin Motors this is its second owner. This is probably something that I should have disclosed prior to selling it but hey if you can’t live with it being stolen bring it back for a full refund.
Warning not as innocent as she may appear
Love You Sweetheart

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 2

I worked for Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale California right out of school. They hauled both of our cars and all our belongings down there on their dime. It didn’t matter that the freight bill was more than the cars worth. It was amusing to see the faces of the movers when it came time to load the car.

After a year it became obvious to us that we would never be able to buy and pay for a house in the San Jose area so we made the move back to Utah. I filled a moving van and trailer with all our personal belongings and a 55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. There was just no room for the Rabbit, we left it behind. I thought hard about getting rid of it at that time since I was fairly confident that it would not make the trip home under its own power. It had a blown head gasket and was overheating.

I was feeling lucky and had a fool-proof backup plan in the form of a 1988 Bianchi road bike strapped to the back (It has downtube shifters how can you go wrong with downtube shifters?). I figured between San Jose and Salt Lake there are no towns farther than around 100 miles from each other and knew if I needed to I could abandon-car, ride to the next town and buy a Greyhound ticket. The perfect plan…

I bought a one way plane ticket and headed out. From the airport I took the train to the station nearest our old house and walked the last few miles. We still had a couple of days on our rental contract so I slept on the floor and woke early to start preparing for the trip. I bought seven gallons of water and a roll of duct tape from the grocery store and a couple new coolant hoses and hose clamps from the parts store. My last stop in San Jose was Taco Bell. I always order a 7-Layer and a bean burrito. I try to stay away from the meat there.

One eye on the road and the other on the temperature gage I made my way East. Slow and steady. I left the cap on the coolant tank loose to bleed off the excess pressure that was blowing by the head gasket and filling the coolant with exhaust gasses and oil. I had to hit the sweet spot on the cap not to tight and not too loose kept the coolant in and let the pressure out. I played a mechanical balancing act with the car until the temp gage approached the red line at which point I would pull over and refill the radiator with the life giving water (approx every 40-50 miles) and resume. It was like we were working as one, I was intimately connected to the car I could feel its pain. I could feel where I could push, where I needed to ease of and when I needed to give it a rest. It was a mentally exhausting trip, instead of listening to the radio I listened to the motor. I refilled my gallon jugs of water at every town as we limped our way through the Sierra Nevada’s and across the Nevada desert. When I couldn’t take any more we stopped at a rest stop and I spent the night sleeping in the driver’s seat.

When the sun rose the little diesel miraculously sputtered to life. I was like Cramer driving on empty; never had man pushed the limits of a machine as far as I did that day. As we passed through Wendover then across the salt flats I got a little misty eyed as the Wasatch came in to view. This is my home and I had been away far too long. I felt whole again, everything was going to be ok.

Tonight prospective Buyer #2 came to test drive the Rabbit, I like this guy, like me he enjoys working on cars and knows and appreciates the beauty that is just a little more than skin deep on this car. While he was out on a test drive I got a call from a lady who found the car on KSL obviously by searching by the maximum amount she could afford. She had no clue what it was. She asked if it would be a reliable 50 mile a day commuter. My response, “Absolutely not, one thing that I can guarantee is that something will always break on this car.” And that was the honest truth. The good thing is that it is cheap and easy to fix when it does and all the hard stuff has already been done.

Buyer #2 returned with a smile on his face. He took it to a buddy of his who is a professional Volkswagen mechanic and told him what I already knew and that it was a JEM worth every penny of the asking price. He is going to come and take it tomorrow.

I think I am going to be ok.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rabbit Stories

While I was in college I saw a guy who ran his Diesel Mercedes on waste vegetable oil from restaurants. When it comes to cars dull normal is just not my style.  I bought a book and spent a month gathering parts from eBay and the hardware store then assembled everything together to make a second fuel tank and heat exchanger system for my alternative fuel system.

At the time it was a $500 car if I broke it by running doughnut oil through it I would just haul it off to the junk yard and collect my 50 bucks. No big loss.

The problem is that it worked. How much simpler would my life had been if it had seized on the side of the road never to run again.

I started working early one afternoon putting all the parts together. Everything was going great I was in the zone. After working for a month on the project I was buzzing with excitement. I finished and looked at the clock, 2 AM, I couldn’t not try it out.

I pulled out of the neighborhood and headed down the road to heat up the heat-exchanger. After about five minutes I determined that old doughnut oil from the Provo Bakery was ready to run through the engine. As I flipped the switch I thought “Allyson is going to be pissed when I give her a wakeup call to come get me because I blew up her car doing something stupid and spent a bunch of money we didn’t have doing it”

I drove up the Alpine Highway, turned on to the Highland Highway and headed for the freeway back to American Fork. When I got to the 5th East exit I got of and headed back home. I flipped the switch back to Diesel, drove home and went to bed.

This is the first in a series of posts entitled Rabbit stories. I just posted my baby up for sale and this is my way of coping with the loss. I know it is a little off topic for my blog but hey it's my blog and I can do what ever I want here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

For Your Own Safety

I have been working with a new supplier of Bigwheels and I must say that they are very promising.  I ordered four of them in to see how they would work out.  On the fourth run down Squaw Peak the rear wheels melted off of the axles and fell off. 
I reported my findings back to the manufacture and got the following response back. 

Hi, Ryan:

Our legal adviser advised us to tell you that our Big Drifts as is shouldn't be used in such a high speed (30 or even 40 mph) as you said.

As you already know, our structure (particularly the rear wheel) is not made for such a high speed and abuse.

Attached please find our "Assembly Instructions", which includes "Warning", which specifies that the maximum speed is 20 km (12.5 mph).

If you go over our maximum speed, please retrofit or reenforce it enough to endure that kind of high speed and abuse at your own risk.

We're telling you this for your own safty.

Thank you for your understanding of our concern.

The good news is that they if we can get through the language barrier they are pretty good to work with and are actually going to work on making rear wheels with bearings to solve the whole melting the wheels off of the axle thing.  With bearings in the rear wheels these things are going to kick the Trek Mod's trash.  I have a work around for the time being to retrofit the mod wheels on it. 
Three left $250 any takers?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Leadville Trail 100 Race Report 2010 Part 1

All About the Family
This year I talked the family into spending the summer vacation in the little town of Leadville Colorado.  Early on there was a little grumbling and a reminder or two that we still have not made it to Disneyland so my main goal was to do my best to find things that the family would enjoy doing.  I didn't want this to be the vacation they talk about in 20 years, "Remember when dad drug us out to that podunk town in Colorado for a bike race instead of Disneyland".
As it turns out I have an the best family on planet Earth.  We spent the week in a 100 year old cabin with crooked floors, no TV, computer, swimming pool, or hot tub, and if you wanted to turn up the heat or cook you had better be prepared to start a fire. 

It forced us to unplug and spend time together it was perfect.  Prior to the race my work and training schedule were all consuming.  We needed some time to decompress and smell the flowers.
Shortly after arriving Calvin and Maizy started exploring, Calvin found some nails and pulled a hammer out of my tool bag, he quickly whipped up a sail boat.
One sail boat lead to another and pretty soon they were in business Maizy set up a desk with a phone and started taking orders.
No respectable business man would ever let his product out the door without rigorous testing so we drove over to Turquoise lake to shake out the design. 

The boats sailed fantastically the business took off like a rocket and the kids tried to keep up with orders but quickly had to start reporting to customers that it was going to take a couple of weeks to get to their order.  Life was good. 

We spent some time looking through the antique shops on main street and had a great time custom painting mugs so that we would have something to remember the trip by.

We went to the store and bought pre-made cookie dough, then went to the cabin and started a fire in the oven.  It took about an hour and a half for the oven to preheat to 350 degrees.  My cookies were either burnt or doughie but I still consider my first experience with a wood fired oven a success since we ate the cookies anyway.  Sure made me appreciate my oven at home.

We went to the Pasta dinner before the race, Calvin and Maizy had fun posing for the camera.
I am so grateful that they all had fun, even Allyson said that she was looking forward to going back out next year.  I don't know how my luck will be next year with the lottery, regardless of whether I get in or not we will be back to race or volunteer and to be honest I don't think I even care which.  I have had great experiences with both
Stay tuned for the actual race report.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Spots Are In Place

Every spring I watch my favorite sporting event which consists of a bunch of spots racing across my screen, it takes a month for them to get from the top of my monitor to the bottom.  I watch riveted all month long.
Tomorrow morning the toughest mountain bike race in the world commences.  2700 miles from Banff Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico, 200,000 feet of elevation gain and completely self supported.  I love pulling the race up on my monitor and stalking the racers from a distance watching their spots travel insane distances across the map each and every day and listening to the daily racer call-in reports.   
Good Luck to all the Divide racers you are going to need it.
Here's to loads of junk food and saddle sores.

Monday, May 10, 2010

White Rim 2010 Version 2.0

My wife has the ability to get a life story out of complete strangers in a matter of minutes. It’s not uncommon for her to come home and make a batch of cookies for the checker at Target because she is going through a difficult divorce. So when she came home from the doctor and said, hey Dr Bell said that they are going down to ride White Rim this weekend and said that you could go down with them if you wanted to it was no surprise. Over the three years Dr Bell has been my doctor I have been in to see him twice, once for a scout camp physical and once for a broken ear drum. If it weren’t for my wife I would have never known he even rode a bike.

A couple of days later I got an email from Dr Bell telling me that he had arranged a ride down for me with his neighbor. Shortly after that said neighbor called to arrange the logistics of picking me up and driving me a total stranger down to Moab to ride the White Rim in one day sight unseen. What I would give to have been a fly on the wall in the doctors office that day and heard exactly what my wife said to convince Dr Bell that I would even be able to handle such a ride.

The first time I meet Steve was at a park-n-ride, I threw my bag in the bed of his truck, loaded my bike on the rack and we were off. Steve introduced me to his brother Mike and said we have two others to pick up. We drove to Kaysville to pick up Lane then to Salt Lake to pick up Jeff. These guys were willing to pack five in a truck in order to accommodate me, a total stranger.

From the conversations going on I could tell instantly that these guys were tight. After about an hour of listening to all four of them talking and telling stories I knew that there was a special bond between them , then I heard a sentence that helped put it all in perspective, it went something like, “Remember when Dad did …” Then it all made sense, Brothers, they were brothers. Never in my life have I meet four brothers who got along as well as these guys did and all four of them get were willing and capable of riding their bikes for a hundred miles through the desert. This is really cheesy but man that is special, I am not sure that they realize how unique their family is but I would really like to meet their parents and take notes cuz you know they have done a few things right.

We got to Moab late, pulled off the road and slept in the dirt. The next morning we got ready and headed up the road to meet up with the rest of the group. I made my best guess as to which one in the group was Dr Bell, (it had been nearly a year since I had last seen him for a broken ear drum, I was in and out within ten minutes and had only seen him one other time a year prior to that) I remember my wife telling me that he rode a Scott and thankfully there was only one guy on a Scott. I am pretty sure he didn’t recognize me either when I approached to thank him for inviting me down and finding me a ride. A couple minutes later we were off and riding.

The first 10 miles went by in a blur, I pulled a #2 out of the hat which meant I would be driving the support truck from mile 10 to 20 which happened to coincide with the Horsethief descent. Shortly after Horsethief I rolled up on our first mechanical, rattled loose and missing chain ring bolts. We were able to steal bolts from the middle ring to make a complete set for the big ring and removed the middle ring completely. I sure do like the new designs of cranks and bottom brackets, back in the day we would have needed a crank puller to get the bike up and running again but all the new design needs is a 5 mm allen, easy. The ten miles in the truck went as quickly as the first ten on the bike and I was off and peddling. I knew the mechanical had put us quite a way back from the main group so I went out hard to catch up. It was comforting to know that if needed, there would be a truck that I could jump in to at the end if I bonked. I figured I would see how long my legs would hold up if I pushed the pace and after a while I had closed the gap and caught the lead group. A few minutes later after taking his turn driving Jeff caught up and I rode with him for most of the day. He is a really strong rider and it was challenging to try to hold his wheel. It was really nice to have a pacer who pushed me harder than I probably would have pushed myself. There were a lot of strong riders in the group, I had a blast riding paceline style through the dirt with a fairly equally matched group of riders. I love the hollow sound the tires make on the dirt when you get a large tight group together at high speeds.

We made a few stops for lunch and breaks which was nice. I packed all my food and water and only cheated slightly by pulling a diet coke and water bottle from the truck during lunch. I just really wanted to build my confidence and experience in long self-supported rides. I was happy with the food and again my energy level only dropped slightly a couple times during the day but came back quickly when I stopped to eat. We finished strong, there was quite a bit of pain and suffering but it was tolerable and overall I would have to say that I had a really good time. I am really happy with where I am at, I owe my wife a huge thanks for bending over backwards for me this year so that I can get in as much riding as possible and even setting up a White Rim trip with relative strangers. Also thanks to the Caldwell’s and Dr Bell for rolling the dice with me and allowing me to join their group for the trip, hopefully this will be the first of many. It was really nice to find some good riders in Davis County, finally!  Thanks guys.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

RAWROD TT 2010 Trip Report

It is hard for me to put words to paper that even come close to expressing what riding the White Rim is like. I will make an attempt but I am sure it will be inadequate.

At 8:00 everyone lined up on an imaginary start line and headed out. That was the last time I would see Kenny or any of the other fast riders. I was still standing by my car when they left and headed out less than a minute after the main group. I rode most of the day solo which turned out to be a good thing.  Sometimes it's nice to just be alone.

The White Rim is an enormous place with absolutely breath-taking views. I felt extremely small against the towering cliffs and trail that disappears on the horizon in both directions. I don’t listen to music while I ride so I am left to live in the moment. There's the sound of tires on dirt and the occasional motorcycle or Jeep but for the most part silence. The trail has many smooth flat sections where you can just cruise and allow your mind to wander but there are also sections that go for miles and miles where the trail firmly holds your attention. Your world stretches to the horizon one minute to the 10-15 foot stretch of dirt and rock in front of your tire the next.

I passed a lot of riders going the other direction, but there is one that will be hard to forget.  It probably has something to do with the banana hammock thong and pink halter top he was wearing.  I just wonder in a situation like that do you just smear the shammy butter directly on to the saddle?  I didn't stop to ask and sorry I didn't get a picture. 
My bike ran flawlessly throughout the ride. The only mechanical I am aware of was on Elden’s step-son’s motorcycle. Just after coming by me at the 50 mile point he threw a chain. Luckily he had the tools needed to fix it, the 50 mile mark is the absolute worst spot to break down. Really it was just like an overgrown bicycle and we had the chain back on and running in no time. I'll have to be honest it really scared me at first and the pit in my stomach did not go away until he fired it up and took off. Since he had the proper tools it turned out to be a very minor issue.

Here is the view looking forward at the 75 mile point. The Shaffer Trail snakes up the cliffs to the top of the mesa.

It is true that for the most part the trail is flat, but there is still a substantial amount of climbing to be had.

At the top

The final 20 miles consist of smooth road, 10 miles of pavement slightly uphill followed by a buffed out 10 mile slightly downhill dirt road, a perfect way to finish when you're tired.  The perfect ride, thanks to Kenny for pulling it together.

Lessons Learned

I like real food. I ate white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and Pringles which was a perfect choice as far as my stomach was concerned. The only problem with this food is that every 15-20 miles I had to stop and get it out of my Camelbak. The time it takes to stop this often really adds up over the course of the day. It makes me wonder if I should start looking into and experimenting with gel or shotblocks which take up less volume and would be easier to access and eat while riding.  Anybody have any tips on this?

I wish I had more time to explore and take pictures.  Everywhere I looked was a picture, I had an almost overwhelming urge to stop and take pictures or just stop and take in the views.  For the most part I resisted in favor of pushing through and trying to make a good time.  I wish I would have been able to stick around for the slower paced group ride. 

This was a good confidence builder, my first self-supported White Rim trip. I still have a long way to go but I think things are going in the right direction. It is going to be a fun season.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

RAWROD Twentyten

A few weeks ago I got an invite to Kenny’s RAWROD (Ride Around White Rim One Day) ride. I did this once with him back in 2001 and it kicked my trash, took me 11.5 hours to finish and I came in dead last. There were about 10 of us riding that year and it has grown exponentially since. I was planning on doing this ride last year until I found out that my son’s Pinewood Derby was scheduled on the same day. The decision was obvious, I stayed home, a decision I will never regret.  We had the fasted car and won the "Best Design" award.  Apparently they don't give awards based on finish time to avoid hurt feelings.    

A few days after Kenny posted the details of the Twenty Ten RAWROD I got a knock on the door from my son’s den mother with a flyer and a Pinewood Derby Kit, and of course across the top of the flyer was the date, April 24, 2010. They did it again. I am out for the supported group ride on Saturday but there is another option. Here is a short expert from Kenny’s email.

With such a large group, the ride tends to spread out with greater and greater distances between the faster and the less-fast-but-still-awesome riders. Some people act like this incredible group ride isn't a group ride at all, but is instead a race.


To address this problem, I've added a non-supported, ride-at-your-own-pace-and-at-your-own-risk ride on Friday, April 23rd, for people who want to see how fast they can ride the loop. You must carry everything you need for the entire 100 miles, including everything to repair basic bike failures and all the food and water that you will need to finish the entire ride. The ride takes me between 6 to 7 hours. I carry two tubes, a patch kit, a pump, a chain tool, and a multi-tool. I need a 100 oz bladder and two water bottles and about 1200 calories of food. You should know your own needs and plan accordingly.

Pain and suffering will occur.


The supported ride will be on Saturday, the 24th of April. If you choose to come on the supported ride, you are accepting the fact that this ride goes slowly. We will stick together. We will only be as fast as our slowest rider. I do not want to discourage people who want to try to complete this ride. Many riders, myself included, have started a 100 mile ride not knowing if they would be able to complete it. That's one of the things I love about endurance riding - pushing yourself to discover what you are physical capable of doing.

Looks like I will be doing the Fast Ride on Friday. I have to admit that I am a little scared. If something goes wrong I could fairly easily find myself in a life threatening situation. White Rim is about as remote as you can get, no cell coverage, no water, no food and no shelter. Once you start the loop you are fairly committed to finishing it, there are no shortcuts or pull out points. I thought about doing this ride last year but did not trust my bike or my body enough to take the risk. This year I have a new bike and I feel much stronger. I think I will be able to pull it off without too much trouble.

The last time I rode the White Rim was a supported trip, I didn’t have to carry all of my food or water and I knew that if I had to I could just hop into the Jeep. Something about knowing that if you are ill prepared you could die has helped me be a little more motivated to prepare this year. I have been riding a lot and have a few high mile rides under my belt this year with good results.

On Friday I took a practice exam to see how I would do on the final. I loaded up the Camelbak with 100 ounces of sugary syrup, and dropped two additional bottles of water in my jersey pockets. I packed a large bag of peanut butter M&M’s, four granola bars and headed out the door. I rode out to Antelope Island and did the same loop I did last week, ran into four Buffalo that scared the crap out of me and another rider named Mike (I think, I am really bad with names) seemed like a pretty cool guy, I invited him to the group ride I am starting on Tuesday nights.

After the ride I was planning on doing it again but was too freaked out by the Buffalo so I rode up to the BST in Kaysville. The BST in Kaysville is only 3.5 miles from one parking lot to the next, it seems so much farther. I rode 21 miles on this trail and passed the same hiker six times it was a little maddening. I was running short on daylight so I cut the ride a little short and made my way home with a total of 90 miles for the day and a pretty good representation of the White Rim trail.

So how did I do? I wanted to focus on keeping my stomach happy and the energy level up so I was very cautious about how much and when I was eating. I had to force myself to eat and drink and for the most part I was successful. My stomach was happy until I finished and my legs stayed with me the entire time, no bonk. It was a fun day. I think I will be able to pull off the Fast Ride with out too many problems and still make it back to the Derby on Saturday if all goes to plan.

Wish me luck…

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Short Ride"

I worked a half day on Saturday and wasn’t really planning on going for a long ride. Since the mountains to the East are still muddy from our snow storm last week and I didn’t have much time I decided to head out on the road toward Antelope Island. I had three hours and ten minutes, my plan was to turn around after 90 minutes giving myself a ten minute buffer.

Did I happen to mention that I was on my new bike and that it’s FAST? I rode for 90 minutes at which time I was exactly 25 miles from my house and exactly ½ way through the figure-8 single/double track loop on the island, the natural turn around spot.

My wife has been incredibly understanding about letting me get out and ride lately and I know that making her late for a dinner appointment with one of her girlfriends would not go over well. To make it home on time I would have to travel the same distance in the same time plus my ten minute buffer.

Everything was going smoothly until I hit the east side of White Rock Bay Loop where I had a bit of an incident a couple of weeks ago.  Four Buffalo were grazing just off the side of the road. Normally I would have just blown by them but for some reason that just didn’t feel right so I took a little bushwhacking detour up the hill and just out of sight. As I crested the top of the bluff I ran right into the rest of the herd, so I split the difference and took the middle ground between the two. As soon as I felt I had gotten enough distance I made my way back to the road without incident.  I picked up a slight tail wind and drained the tank on the causeway and farm roads leading back to my house.

Total ride time was 3 hours 16 minutes.  I was 6 minutes late, but after many years of short rides turning into long ones 6 minutes was a very acceptable margin for my wife.  Thanks Sweetheart.  I felt like I was going to vomit a lung for the rest of the evening. 

I think I found my new favorite "training" ride, a couple of laps and it comes out to a cool 100 from my front door, if only someone could do something about those pesky Buffalo.

When I was a kid I had a terrible fear of dogs. I got over that. I now know when faced with an angry dog there are three options, out run, punt or make friends. I have never lost employing this strategy. As an adult I have a well founded fear of Buffalo and I think I need a new strategy for dealing with it. Any ideas?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trek Top Fuel 9.8

Thanks to Randy at Mad Dog Cycles, I am getting my first new bike since 2002 possibly tomorrow.  It is a 2010 Trek Top Fuel 9.8 and it shipped out on Tuesday.  I mentioned that I was getting a carbon bike to some of the Composites Engineers that I work with and they all wanted to know if I was nervous riding a carbon mountain bike. I am not. This will be the second carbon Trek for me and the last one held up to lots of abuse with no problems what so ever.
I remember the Trek reps would brag that most of their engineers came from the aerospace industry. It was an excellent selling tool; after all it doesn't get any better than aerospace, right? Fast forward a decade I find myself working for one of the leading aerospace composites companies as a Quality Engineer and I am fully convinced that Trek has the best Composites Engineers on the planet.

The funny thing about aerospace is that the price for failure is often in the billions of dollar range and in many cases results in loss of human life. In this type of environment failure is simply not an option. Designs are overbuilt, conservative and rarely cutting edge. The mantra is build it exactly like we did the last time because the last time... it worked. Pushing the envelope of a design in aerospace is taboo. Don't get me wrong the accomplishments that have been made in the aerospace industry are quite simply amazing, especially considering the complexity of the systems when compared to a bicycle. But there is a big difference when designing a product where failure is not only an option, but in some cases can be desirable. My guess is that many of Trek's designs are built to fail under the most aggressive or abusive riders. Riders that are able to induce the type of stresses that would cause a failure are few and far between. The vast majority of riders will never put the frame through enough cycles to cause a fatigue failure and don't have the cahones to push the bike hard enough to induce catastrophic failure. The benefit for the rest of us is an extremely strong light weigh bike that performs flawlessly for 98% of us, for the other 2% Trek has an excellent warrantee. The best way to find a flaw in a design is to see someone break it, a luxury we do not have in the aerospace industry.

*note I have no science or data to back up my numbers this is just a WAG.

A little less travel and a lot less weight than my current bike, this thing should scream.  I can't wait to get it dirty.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When Buffalo Attack

Saturday morning I decided to go for a longer ride than usual so I left from my house and rode out across the causeway to Antelope Island. 

I have talked about this road before, look at the size of that shoulder, perfectly flat and very few cars.  Put your head down and go.

Once you hit the Island there is plenty of wide open space to get your tires dirty.

The Island has a good balance of hills, flats and technical double and singletrack

The soil on the Island is porous and drains extremely fast, great ride in the early spring when everything else is soggy. 

View of the Great Salt Lake, you get a feel for its size once you are out there.

The starting point, you can see my house from here.
Here is where the ride gets interesting.  As I am riding toward this herd of Buffalo a wide-eyed runner passes me going the opposite direction.  He stopped me and said "If I were you I would turn around and go the other way.  The Buffalo are agitated by something; they ran me up a rock and tried to kill me."  I have ridden within a few feet of Buffalo lots of times.  They usually respond the same way cattle do, in that either they just stand there and look at you or they run off, no big deal, but in the back of my mind I was a little scared.  There was another way out but this was the quickest and funnest way and I really did not want to miss a fun super fast downhill so I rolled the dice. 

Two things of note in this picture Buffalo and rocks

Turns out when someone tells you that they just got chased up on to the top of a big rock by a herd of Buffalo you should listen to them.  He is a picture I took from the top of the rocks after I ditched my bike and ran from the charging herd.  I pulled my camera out only after they had backed off a little and had quit pawing at the dirt and snorting at me from the base of the rocks.  The two in the picture were the most aggressive; they looked to be adolescents to me but still weighed well over 1000 lbs.  I could feel the base from their grunts and snorts bouncing around in my chest cavity and the musky smell of their breath was equally as intimidating.  I was pretty sure that if they really wanted to they could have scaled the rock I was standing on.  Luckily they didn't and after a minute they started to back off. 

These rocks saved my life.

I waited for a while and when they had backed off the trail a little ways I climbed down, grabbed my bike and walked ten feet when the herd charged for the second time.  Back up on the rocks, fast.  Three Buffalo charged to the base of the rock and again started pawing at the ground grunting and snorting.  I stood there and tried to look BIG.  This time I gave them a good solid 20 minutes before climbing down from my perch and when I did come down I circled down off the other side of the hill just out of sight to make my pass.  I was terrified as I was bush whacking the long way around the herd.  I was afraid that they would come charging over the hill and this time there would be nowhere to hide.  Luckily they didn't and when I got a safe distance past the herd I circled back around and picked up the trail.  I had been riding for three hours by this time but with the adrenalin pumping I stood up on the pedals and got the hell out of there.  As I picked back up on the pavement I was tempted to swing by the restaurant on the Island and order a big fat juicy Buffalo Burger, instead I just put my head down and hammered my way home. 

Here is a link to another story of a guy who was not as lucky as I was.