Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How To Ride Nirvana

This is a short video taken by Chris (thanks Chris) of Shane, showing us how to ride the double drop down that we built on Nirvana a few months ago.

You WILL note that he does not use the "dribble the front over the first drop" technique that 98% of people who ride it use!

Here is the "erosion avoidance" technique....

I'm off to get some practice in......

now where did I put those oversized goolies....?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Bike Is Back

I had a call on Friday to say that my R1 was ready to be picked up after the leaking battery incident, so off to the local Yamaha dealer I went.

It certainly was nice to have her home after 7 weeks in the shop. Once in the shed a closer inspection of the swingarm revealed a very nice respray job.

With the bike approaching 30 000km (18 750mi) I decided to replace the swingarm bearings as well as the chain and sprockets while she was away in a disassembled state. I could feel a much lower resistance from the chain as I pushed the bike into the shed.  Unless I have beefed up a bit?

Yes, I pushed it because there was no way I was putting another one of those RoadStar batteries in my bike! I was happy to wait for something else to come back into stock.

Interestingly, the previous week I had given the old battery that wouldn't start the bike over 3 months ago to a mate. He has one of these fancy C Tech chargers and put the battery on the "recondition cycle" over night. I fitted the battery to the bike and it started it straight up! This from a battery that wouldn't start the bike 3 months ago after spending all night on my old school charger!

I used the old battery to ride back to the bike shop the next day to pick up the new one. It is a Lithium-Ion jobby, looks like a Lego block and is featherweight. I thought I might throw it on the cook's best kitchen scale to see what the difference actually was between the new and old.

984grams = 2lbs

---- = TOO HEAVY!

So it was off to the bathroom scale with the old lead-acid battery. It proved to be too light to get a measurement. By standing on the scale with and without the Exide, I was able to get a weight of 3.8 to 3.9kg (8.58lb)! Over 4 times the weight of the new battery! Woo Hoo, I can eat more pies and that can't be a bad thing!?!

It does look like it would suit a Kawasaki a little more than my Yammi, but who but the most farkle obsessed owner would be worried about the colour match?

 At least it can't spill sulphuric acid all over my bike. Everything else is going to lithium batteries and it comes with a 5 year warranty so I guess I will see how it goes.

Now to find time for some of this.......

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Busy Weekend

This weekend was a very full one.

Saturday morning was another trail care day on the Nirvana trail and we had a pretty good turn out of volunteers. The guys from For The Riders were out in force to help us build some quality rock features. Unfortunately for us, they have a bike shop to run so they had to bail out after two hours. Huge kudos to all of the guys though. They punched out a couple of hours of solid trail building, then had to bust their arses to get to the shop on time. Thanks guys. Thats above and beyond the call.

This left just five of us to try to complete the alloted work. To say this was a bridge too far would be an accurate assessment. Pushing wheelbarrows of rock and blue metal half a kilometre along Daisy Hill's most technical track was gut busting work. Then we were down to four. I had been planning on taking it easy with the wheel barrows this weekend because I was racing the single speed on Sunday. That plan soon was out the window!

We managed to finish all of our planned work, bar one section which we will have to come back to.

It was four very knackered and thirsty amigos that dragged their butts up the trail for a few sausage sangers and a cold drink at midday. Apart from the grub all I wanted to do was to lie down on the ground as I didn't have the core strength remaining to sit. The other guys were all absolutely shagged as well. I have never seen them so tired and it seemed, disheartened(my opinion only). We can't carry on doing this work with so little help, hoping that the word will spread. Something has to give.

After a great nights sleep I was up bright and early Sunday to prepare for the Karingal 4 Hour race. Well, I slept well but I wasn't feeling too much like racing. My knees were so sore from yesterdays wheel barrow shenanigans that I could barely walk down stairs. I moped around for a while so that breakfast had time to kick in and slowly my interest level picked up. Throwing the single speed and some water bottles in the car it was time for the short drive out to Karingal.

Well, in short I was bloody glad I did. The 25mm (1in) of rain we had overnight was just what the Race Director ordered! The trail was in primo condition with no mud, just hero dirt everywhere.

Knowing my lap times from previous years I was hoping for 7 laps today. I started steadily, trying to keep my heart rate low. Stopping at my "camp" after lap one for more water and a bite to eat helped with this slow and steady philosopy. I strung laps 2 and 3 together without a break. Prior to lap 4 I topped up with water and food again. While I didn't feel like eating I forced myself so as to keep the system going.

With an hour to go I thought "well, that means just two more laps". To my surprise, I managed to get two more laps in before the 4 hour time limit was up! So, after a drink and further food I headed out for a leisurely last lap. All race long the dynamic duo of Sara and Karen were cheering the riders on and now on the last lap they were handing out shots of beer. I oblidged them by downing a couple before the final blast down to the line. Thanks ladies!

At the finish line I honestly felt I had a few more laps in my legs, just not at anything like race pace. In the end I managed to punch out 9 laps which was waaay better then I was expecting for the day. That worked out to 60km (38mi) and 1800m (5900ft) of climbing. Woo Hoo!

As far as results go, I maintained my standing in the world of MTBing. Last in single speed category! If I was in Sport Category I would have won it by a lap. Man, I'm getting sick of being bloody ordinary on a mountain bike!

But I had a hell of a lot of fun. The track was in the best condition I have ever seen it and the nice cool weather was a godsend. Sorry, no photos as I was solo today. 

A huge thanks must go to the members of the South Brisbane Mountain Bike Club that didn't get to race, who gave their time so that the rest of us could enjoy the day. Your efforts are valued only just behind the two champion girls handing out free beer!

Cheers.....I need a sleep.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feelin' Fine

The man flu has gone just as quickly as it came and I am feelin' way too damn good...

I have managed to roll about 100 km (62 mi) of trail under the wheels since Sunday which is probably too much considering I want to race this weekend. But who cares? The weather has been great and I am healthy again!

We have some trail care this weekend, then Sunday is the annual Karingal 4 Hour which is always a fun day out, as long as I don't overdo it. I will try to take it easy like last year.

Bring it on......

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The One Motorcycle Show

This looks like my kind of bike show.

Perhaps our Oregon connection is free in February and would like to give us Southern Hemispherians a first hand take on what goes down? Apart from the pints.

Pinched from Good Fortune Lucky Toolbox.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Man Flu Blues Equals Cunning Plans

All plans for much riding while on holiday are scuppered by:
1. no motorcycle and 
2. having a cold.

Yes, the R1 is still in the shop for a swingarm respray after it's battery split and new swingarm bearings while it is pulled apart. It has been six weeks now since I dropped it in but to be fair I was away for four weeks so wasn't pushing to have it fixed.

The cold is even more frustrating as the riding weather is perfect at the moment. Not too hot and very dry. It makes for fun, drifty corners.

It is giving me some time to think about my next bike packing trip though, as I haven't had the chance to get out since waay back in June

I managed to pick up a new sleep system while in the US. The AMK Sol Thermal Bivy is a lightweight waterproof, breathable bivy bag that can be used as a sleep system on its own in warm weather and I can use it over my sleeping bag come winter. The best bit is that it only weighs 252 grams (8.9oz) and was about $30 from REI. For summer bike packing I should be able to leave the sleeping bag behind and just use the bivy, saving quite a bit of weight. However, before I blast out into the middle of nowhere with this thing as my only sleep option I am planning on doing a "local" overnighter to test it out. I can hit up some of the fun trails around here at a convenient time, then "stealth camp" before sampling some more singletrack fun the following morning.

Also while in the US, I got to cross paths with the Tour Divide Route at Pinedale and again near Flagg Ranch on the southern entrance to Yellowstone. It gave me a chance to see the sort of countryside that riders are up against and let me tell you viewers, I was more than a little concerned about being out there on a pushy! 

That was some seriously spectacular, mountainous, bear infested (in my tiny mind anyway!) country. Did I mention the thunderstorms? Oh, yeah, the mountains were covered in them as we drove by Pinedale. 

The Tetons were spectacular at just on 14 000 ft high. Even the flat bits in these pictures are at 7000 ft above sea level, so that Grand Teton at the centre is sticking up almost 7000 ft. That is as high as our highest mountain!The TDR winds it's way just to the north of these to Flagg Ranch before turning south toward Pinedale.

As this panorama unfolded in our windscreen, I mentioned to the boss how I would love to be able to work month on and month off for a while, so that during the off month I could come over and do some sections of the Tour Divide Route. You know, rather than trying to ride it all in one hit like the racers do? Surprisingly I received a green light to the idea! The reality of doing it though is very different.....I just have to hatch a cunning plan, as I have all of the gear now.......

Just to get you into a bikepacking frame of mind, here is Chris Miller's(from Gooney Riders) view of the Colorado Trail Race this year. Riders that finish the CTR are hard as nails. You can see how knackered Chris looks toward the end.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's He On?

One thing he is not on is Nike's payroll........

Courtesy of Drunkcyclist.

What a mess.........

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fleet Week

After returning our RV in Vegas and spending one last afternoon surfing the "outlet mall", we were lucky enough to jump on a jet to spend five days in San Francisco, a place I had never been before and had been keen to visit for years.

Now, our holiday had been organised with military precision for the most part. 

A small west African country's military that is, so we arrived just in time for THE busiest weekend of the year. 
 They were hosting a whole heap of events this particular weekend. There were people everywhere and after spending the previous two weeks in national parks and rural areas it was a bit in-your-face for me. The city itself felt a lot like Wellington, New Zealand with it's hilly, bayside location. Well, a Wellington on the juice. I liked it. A lot.

One of these attractions was Fleet Week. I had heard of it and seen footage of what is probably the best military aerobatic team in the world, the Blue Angels. Flying at 50ft across the bay, amongst the boats and towing a shockwave as in nudges up against the sound barrier

Like this......(turn your sound waay up for the full effect)......

No matter how anti-airshow, anti navy, anti war, anti whatever you are, you cannot fail to be secretly impressed by the sheer power of these machines when they shake you to your core as they blast past.

So, we had the double pleasure of checking out the Fisherman's Wharf with a couple hundred thousand of our best buds while an airshow took place overhead, in front of us and sometime almost below us!

Starting it off on the Saturday was the B2 bomber. We were looking in a souvenir shop as this thing did it's first pass. It wasn't low. It wasn't loud. In fact you could have heard a pin drop as the street went silent. This stealth bomber, whose lineage goes back to flying wings in the 50's, looked like something from outer space. Certainly, everyone else thought the same as the only sound was hushed voices saying "OMG"!

It was eerie and just didn't look real.

A few displays later was this formation. A WWII vintage P-51 flanked by an F-16 and an F-22 in perfect formation. You could hear the throaty growl of that Merlin over the (throttled waaay back) roar of the jets.

The F-22 later put on a display, doing things that an aeroplane just should NOT be able to do. It simply defied the laws of aerodynamics. Very impressive.

The Patriots. Spontaneous clapping and cheering broke out as these guys flew serenely by streaming Red, White and Blue smoke. It wouldn't happen at home and made me think of all the South Park and Simpsons parodies that I have seen over the years. Don't get me wrong though, I think us Aussies are just as patriotic. We just don't openly cheer about it.

United Airlines had a VERY large presence. 

A very low fly-by indeed.

The Blue Angels support Hercules got in on the action as well.

We just so happened to be out on the water at 3pm. Just in time to be right under the main performers.

Oh yeah, we were in amongst the other performers. The America's Cup racing was under way at the same time, on the same bit of water. Talk about a busy day on the Bay!

How low do you wanna go? (spot the F-18)

The F-18 with the smallest frontal area was coming straight down at us and looked very impressive during it's pull out.

Probably the best free airshow you will ever see all set against the beautiful backdrop of San Francisco bay. The only down side to the day was trying to get out of the wharf precinct. There were people everywhere and it was only topped by the following day (Sunday) when we hired bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge, then caught the ferry back from Sausalito and tried to ride against the flow of the crowd back to the bike hire shop. Yes, the airshows ran from Thursday to Sunday. Interesting experience with two kids and a non-cyclist wife in tow!

So, San Francisco? Another place that I will return to for further exploration. Just at a quieter time of year.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Zion Zen

Well, I have just survived 8.5 hours traipsing around Disneyland and I just couldn't face the next 4 hours of even more "Zippity Doo Dah", so thought it was about time to write this walk up, which Lucy and I did about a week ago.

We spent a couple of nights at Zion. Well, technically not at Zion, but one night in Virgin (how appropriate) and the next in the RV park at Springdale.

Now the RV park at Virgin was very pretty and despite the Red Bull Rampage being right next door, it was still 15 miles down the road from Zion. The park at Springdale was tidy, if not very inspiring, but it was at the entrance to Zion and Springdale would have to be my favourite place so far in the US.

It is on the doorstep of a mindblowingly amazing national park, has some funky restaurants and coffee shops with easygoing, fun staff that genuinely make you feel welcome. And the view! Any direction you look, you see huge red rock cliffs, just begging you to get out there and explore.

And it had more than one place that made decent coffee. Unfortunately, we have found Starbucks to be our "go to" place for coffee over here as they make consistently good coffee. Totally the opposite to home, but there you go. Most places over here have zero idea how to make good coffee.

So Springdale ticks soo many boxes and I haven't even hopped on a mountain bike yet!

After the above coffee, Lucy and I jumped on the shuttle bus into the park. To cut traffic on the narrow roads, the National Park Service locked out cars from the main canyon and set up a bus service to all of the popular trail heads about ten years ago (or so the audio said on the bus). It works very well with a bus every 10-15 minutes with the added bonus of being able to take in the view along the way.

Due to logistical issues (finding coffee and the bus) we didn't get to the trail head for the Angel's Landing walk until about 10:30am. It was starting to warm up in the sun, but the high canyon walls were helping keep the heat down with copious amounts of shade. This would actually be a very cold place come Winter. But the shade would only last so long this morning. We hit the trail after a quick comfort stop. I was again shocked to see that even though we were in the middle of nowhere, the restroom had a sensor activated tap in the sink and a sensor activated hand dryer. At home you would not even have running water at such a remote location. I have to keep reminding myself that even though it is quiet (early Fall here) there are still 3 million visitors per year through this park.

The Angel's Landing walk is one of the more strenuous walks in the park, even though it is only 4.8 miles(7.7km) it is a steep climb of about 2000ft. The other interesting piece of the climb is the trail itself. In the last half mile it clings to cliff faces and scrambles along a razorback ridgeline that is in places only about two metres wide. Yep, 2 metres with a 1400ft sheer drop on either side! I figured that Lucy was up to the climb and would get a lot out of it but I wasn't willing to watch two kids on this one, so Willy had to hit the shops with his Mum (sorry, Mom).

That is where we are heading. Right to the top. It was nice and cool in the shade. Lucy even wanted to put her jumper back on for this section but I managed to convince her she would warm up soon enough.

We were soon into a whole bunch of switchback climbs that gained a lot of altitude very quickly and being in the full sun at around 5000ft above sea level some rest stops were definitely needed. Luckily for us the scenery was begging us to stop.

Moving toward a narrow canyon, chilled air was spilling down onto us. It was so enticingly cool we picked up the pace just to get into that shade.

At the end of this straight section was another series of switchbacks that gained several hundred feet. They were blissfully in the shade and we enjoyed watching numerous Chipmunks scurrying along the trail.

Suddenly we were on the last half mile of trail. The half mile along the razorback, with the drop-offs. Holy crap it looked steep and trecherous! The photos don't do it justice!

That is a 1400ft drop on either side. Gulp! 

I asked Lucy not to fall off because if she fell off, I would have to throw myself off after her as her mother would kill me anyway. I don't think this made much difference as her sense of self preservation was severeley overridding! Yay!!

Scrambling along, one guy remarked "youngest so far today" and I was again wondering if this was a stupid idea?!

At least there was a chain to help in the most difficult areas.

Nothing to see here.....gulp!

Once past this section there was a plateau of sorts at the top, the "landing" I guess and there were quite a few people sprawled out enjoying the view. So, who do we ask to take a conquest photo for us? Two Aussie girls, one of whom is from West End here in Brisbane! Small world?!

It was a beautiful, still day so we sat for a while quietly munching on some museli bars and watching the Chipmunks. They were extremely friendly, no doubt knowing that they can get an easy feed from the many hikers. In fact I will need to shake my CamelBak out before I pass through quarrentine back home just to make sure I don't have a little hitch hiker tucked away in there.

I usually dread the hike back down more than the way up but this time around the way down seemed easier for the most part. There was the odd section of trail that felt like we were climbing off the edge of the world though.

Before long we were on the relatively easy section of the trail. It all seemed very routine after the "Holy Moly" sections higher up. My pardner was running out of steam as she had packed as a trail snack the highly edible, but with dubious nutritional value, popcorn. This was of course gone after about 15 minutes of walking and 2.5 hours later her legs were flagging somewhat. My museli bars were not appealing enough so we progressively got slower and slower on the descent. Oh well, more time for photos.

Much resting was required and I was copping some flack for "making" her do the walk in the first place. Funny how kids get all out-of-whack when they are hungry and tired. Anyway, we sorted this by jumping on the bus and then jumping off at Zion Lodge, which had a fully functioning cafe'. Here we ordered Cheeseburgers, fries and Coke. Coke normally being totally off limits made it all the more special and without a word of a lie within 10 minutes I had the normal, sane Lucy back with me. We sat on the lush green lawn of the Lodge underneath some cool Cottonwood trees and reflected on our achievement for the morning.

It was another great reminder for me of how sensitive kids are to food intake when out in the bush. I should not have allowed popcorn to be her trail snack and insisted on something tried and true. 

We had a great time with so much of the flora and fauna being totally unfamiliar to both of us that I was seeing it as if through Lucy's eyes as well. It is great being a kid again!

Zion is on my list of places that I must visit again and spend a respectful amount of time. This trip, as much fun as it was, is only a taster of the delights that await a full-blown visit. Wading through the slot canyons sounds bloody interesting.