Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A case of the Mondays on Tuesday and the Case of the Too Short Mukluk Rear Brake Cable

Happy Mukluk!!!
Last Monday was a federal holiday so I got the day off therefore Tuesday became Monday.  It was a balmy 42 degrees on actual Monday in the morning so Winston and I headed down to Sylvan Island to do a little fat biking (different from other types of biking because it is).  We spent an hour zig zaging our way around the island until the sun started to "de-thaw" the trails creating about 1/2 inch of greasy mud which made it very slick.  We headed back to the car and I noticed the wind had picked up quit a bit. 

By 5:00 p.m. it was a full on rain storm turning to snow with 30 m.p.h. winds.  I looked at the weather and the temps were dropping to the single digits with 25-30 m.p.h. winds gusting to to 40 for the morning commute on Tuesday.  I packed my Ortlieb panniers and put a little extra air in the tires after this weekend's stomp on the banks of the Mississippi.  I did this in spite of being being ill.  I was planning on going to the clinic in the morning when I got to post and I figured that I would be sick whether I drove or pedaled.  Then I went to sleep. 

Tuesday (which had the feel of work Monday) morning came and sure enough it was single digits with a 30 m.p.h. wind as advertised.  I decided that I would go ahead and man u,p so I got dressed and left the house.  There was a little bit of snow, only a couple of inches at most.  However it turned out that it was a little dusting on the surface.  It was a perfect start to a Monday (actually Tuesday.....)and the word of the day was ICE. 

The challenge was to stay upright.  It would have been a perfect day for studded tires.  As I rode I noticed that right brake lever would not return to its starting position after I released it.  At one point the lever would not return so I pushed on it and the cable was forced out of the lever.  Based on the cold, wind, and ice I decided that I would have to fix it later.  At least I had another brake, I would just have to remember to start slowing a little sooner.  It is funny how conditioned a person can become,  I don't know how many times I pulled the rear brake with no response from the caliper. 

When I got to work I was coughing so hard that I actually threw up.  I called my wife for a ride home at the end of the day. 

Thursday night as I prepared to ride on Friday I decided to investigate what was causing the cable to stick.  In the warmth of my not so warm basement everything worked fine.  I adjusted some spring tension in the disc caliper.  Friday the cable did the same thing with the exception of popping out.  So I further investigated.  Here is what I found.

Problem #1

The cable routing on the earlier Mukluk frames have the cable on the downtube and coming up to the rear caliper (this was changed on recent models).  It creates something that looks like a P trap on a sink.  It was performing the same basic function.  I cut the cable ties and pointed the cable down.  I then blew through the other end and out came a significant amount of water.  Bam...the water was freezing and the caliper didn't have enough power to pull the cable back through.

Problem #2

It turns out that that with the routing and full length cable housing, a standard MTB brake cable is not long enough.  It didn't even come out of the end.  I did a little research and apparently some earlier Salsa blogs discuss this.  I guess you don't know unless you try.  I had already cut the frayed end of the cable off and put it aside for front use later so it was to short.

According to their blog which contains great seat up tips that I clearly didn't read:  "A standard length front and rear shifter cable is plenty long (usually 2000 – 2300mm), and a standard brake cable (usually 1700mm) is good enough for the front brake. Only the rear brake is a concern. Most cable manufacturers now offer a ‘mountain mechanical’ rear cable that is made for mechanical disc brakes (these are usually around 2500 to 2700mm). If you can’t nail down one of those, just go with a ‘tandem length’ rear brake cable. Buy two and keep the spare in your parts bin." 

Monday, I rode in with one brake.  Again it is hard to remember the brake lever is useless.  Hopefully today I will be able to pick one up because we are in the midst of a major snow storm and it would be nice to have another brake.  Yes, I would ride with just one if I have to.

I am going to get an extra cable to put it in a repair kit for the future.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I run with a friend of mine from work several days a week.  I ride most of those days and lately I have had a lot my mind.  The result of this is that I have been less than enthusiastic about running at lunch. Once he prods me into getting out there we do well. I am in the Army and we have very effective ways of motivating people to do things; the most common is to insult the person, call them mean names and humiliate them until you get your desired result. It is very effective and he usually resorts to that.  They are mostly social runs vs a race, discussions range from politics to politics.  On the past few runs he has been suggesting that we run an ultra marathon. ultra marathon, we run about 3-4 miles on average and you want to jump to 60+ miles in some exotic location or extreme condition.  I am not that fond of running but his reasoning is sound; while we may not be as fast or trim as we were when we were young we are still in very good shape.  In fact I would venture to say that while I may not be as fast as I was (or as trim), overall I am physically stronger and more capable than I was when I was 19.  While I may not recover as quickly or bounce as well, mentally and emotionally I am stronger now than I ever was.  
I have decided that while I am still young, I need to challenge myself more.  There are a number of events I would like to try, mostly casual but there are a couple of races.  I have missed out on some of the event registration so in an effort to continually challenge myself, I have made a list of events I will participate in, some hard and some not so hard.
May:  Spring Tailwind Century--I did the fall version of this.  I don't recall that it was a ton of fun but it is a great concept.  The QCBC has a number of routes pre-planned.  The night before the route is chosen based on the most favorable tailwind.  Again, I did the fall version a year ago, not so favorable wind.
June:  TOMRV--I am told this is a heck of a ride.  A two day ride with 106 miles the first day and 90 or so the second.  I am told that there is a lot of climbing and that most are challenged because it is early in the season.  I have been cranking a lot more this year than in the past.  I don't think I will suffer as much as those who don't ride all winter.
July and August going to have no scheduled activities due to other stuff.  Household 6 would probably flip out if I scheduled anything during those months. 
September:  Buffalo Bill Century Ride--Looks good to me, I really know nothing about this. 
October:  Tour de BBQ in Kansas City--This 62 mile ride with BBQ stops looks great but the cost could become prohibitive.  I do have four kids to feed.  I will have to do some research on this as it gets closer. 

As a long term goal, I would like to try a longer gravel race.  I am looking at the Dirty Kanza for 2014 while I am still living in the area.  This fits into our lunch time run discussion.  I am not getting younger but at least I am not getting worse...for now.  I need to do some stuff while I can. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Place of Solitude During Times of Stress

A bad day of fishing is still better then the greatest day at work!
It is way past my bed time. I have to get up very early. I am tired but I have a lot on my mind. Challenges with my work and family (not the Tsunami, I am mostly immune to their challenges). These are all things that will wear on a person. Normally I don't worry much past what I can control. Right now there isn't much I can control and the stress is there.

So here I am tired and having the thoughts that tomorrow is going to be a really long day and wishing that I was riding through the mountains or floating down a river.  No, I am in the Quad-Cities in February.

When it gets like this my brain seems to go to a default memory. While I don't remember the exact date, it was spring.  Maybe late March or early April.  It was a gorgeous spring day and the temperature was perfect for a stone fly hatch on the Bitterroot river. A good friend of mine and I were floating the river, I was rowing and he was fishing.  We came to a braided channel, a perfect place to pull the raft on the bank and we could both fish the braids. I had been rowing all morning and happy to do so as long as K caught fish, if he wasn't producing it was his turn to row.

K went to fish the channels I didn't really feel like fishing so I decided to soak up the sun.   I layed down on the tube of my raft which had dark green and material had been absorbing the warmth of the sun on that nice spring day.  I vividly remember how nice it felt on that afternoon.  Using a life preserver as a pillow I drifted in and out of consciousness.  I could feel the heat of the sun on my face and the refreshing sound of water running. I lay there and listen to the birds and the water, a little piece of heaven. 

K was surprised that I chose not to fish.  I am glad I did not because I know that had I fished, that day would have blended itself with every other day on the water.  Each fish caught that day almagamating with every other fish I have caught in life.

Instead I have a totally different memory, one separate from any other day.  One that has brought me comfort throughout life.  When the conditions are right or I feel the warmth of the sun, I find myself transported back in time to that place with the warmth of the sun and my raft and the sound flowing river. 

These have brought me comfort countless times and will do so as far into the future.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Embrace the Suck: Riding in crazy January weather.

Monday was a pleasant surprise, the weather was improving from Sunday's ice storm. I was able to run 3.5 miles at lunch and ride home in shorts with the 40 degree weather. Tuesday was flat out amazing. The high was 60 degrees and since I drove (my kids schedule isn't always conducive to riding) I went for a 4 mile run at lunch. Down right amazing for the end of January. 

Then we got a dose of reality. Wednesday I woke up to an odd situation; rain in the morning turning to a major snowstorm and 37 mph winds by the end of the day. What was I to do? Drive or ride? That is an easy question.....I opted to ride.   Warm in the morning and freezing at night, two very different scenarios in one day.  The challenge was clothing.  

For the morning commute I decided some Pearl Izumi tights with a water proof front would be a great option.  They also have some insulation so it would be a little warm in the morning but just right for the ride home.  This turned out to be a failure of near epic proportion. It began to rain so hard that the water merely ran down the front waterproofing and filled my boots with water.  One great thing about the Mukluk is that with the fat tires I get a lot of stability on a variety of conditions, on the flip side, the Endomorph on the rear is similar to the stern-wheel boats that once travelled the Mississippi I ride along.  
Stern Wheel Tread Design

This meant that the non-water proof side of the tights worked like a Sham Wow and absorbed most of the water thrown by the tires.  There was a lot of water and since goretex does just as good of a job holding water in as keeping it out and by the time I got to work my feet were sloshing around in my boots.  I spent the day trying to dry them out for the ride home in the blizzard.

While sitting at major intersections, I got a lot of odd looks.  I am all right with that, even though I was somewhat miserable, thanks to the Army I have learned to embrace and enjoy the suck.  The hard part is getting wet, once the boots are full of water you have no choice but to enjoy life anyway.....or be miserable.  

I think there are a lot of miserable people in this world.  I am not one of them.  

Then came the snow....and the wind.  Ruthless wind.  

Fortunately for me all of my stuff was dry after spending hours in front of fans with constant rotations.  While the ambient air was not that cold, the wind and blowing snow was a challenge.  The remainder of the week was just flat out cold, lows in the single digit negatives with wind chills taking them further down.  Not to mention a miserable head wind.

 What happened to nice happy 60 degrees?