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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leadville Training Plan

On August 14th I am going to race my bike off -road for 100 miles in the high altitude town of Leadville Colorado. A fairly ambitious undertaking to say the least, I will need a training plan and probably should have some goals to go with it. So here is my plan.
I am going to ride my bike where and when I feel it. I plan on logging a lot of miles but I am not going to focus on the miles, the focus will be on my body, the flow of the bicycle and having fun. I am not going to wear a watch, computer or heart-rate monitor. I am going to completely wing it, listening to my body and letting it tell me how fast or slow I should be going. I will not let the preconceived notion that riding your bike long distances is hard or should be tiring. From now on long rides just mean that I get to play in the dirt longer than I normally would. I will not allow my training plan to become regimented or feel like it is a chore that must be done. I am not saying that it won’t be hard and that I will not suffer, I will, but from now on I will enjoy the suffering. As the season progresses the suffering to fun ratio is shifting and is already heavily stacked on the fun side. I fully anticipate this trend to continue as my fitness level continues to increase.

My Expectations

I will ride as quickly and smoothly as my body and mind will allow. I want a belt-buckle. And in my opinion as far as belt-buckles go bigger is always better. I don’t know if I will come in under nine hours but regardless of my finish time I will work the crowd at the finish line with the most spectacular wheelie Leadville has ever seen.  And there you have it, a goal is not a goal unless it is written, right?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bike Peddler Spring St George Trip

Feeling less than confident in my mechanical skills I opted out of driving 300 miles on an engine that I had just finished rebuilding.  I made a call to Josh McCarrel, feeling like kind of a looser I asked if he knew if anyone who would be willing to let me tag along to St George with them for the annual Bike Peddler spring trip. Turns out he was riding down with Nick, a buddy of his from the shop, and they had room for me in the truck.  This was a good move, I am sure I would be dead on the side of the road near Scipio if I would have attempted to drive the Rabbit. 
It was really good to get to know Josh and Nick, we know a lot of the same people and had a great time trading stories back and forth.  The riding in St George was phenomenal.  Friday we rode Barrel Roll and another trail right next to it that I forget the name of.  Both trails were fun mostly smooth single track that would be great for novice riders.  Saturday morning we rode the Slickrock Swamp trail, had a great time playing around on the rock.  Around lunch time a storm blew in so we stopped by Dairy Queen loaded up on some grease and headed to the hot tub to wait it out.  After the storm blew past we headed out to ride Prospector followed up by worship services at the Zen trail on Sunday morning.  All in all it was one of the best road trips I have ever been on.  Great riding, caught up with some old friends and made lots of new friends.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Yep it Rocked