Saturday, August 30, 2008

Out Of Order (a bit lengthy)

Well Fellet Brazing is out of order for the next 6-8 weeks. Due to a dumb mistake in a training mtb ride - at Castlewood of all places - I've managed a wipe out hard enough to snap my left clavicle in two.

It was to be a nice easy paced ride of ~4 hours or so, just to get in some good off-road miles in preparation for the 12 hour race. But I met up with a nice guy - whom, after the adrenaline wore off, I can't remember his name. (Jeff maybe?) With company to push the pace a little, and me finally getting the hang of the new steed, I was getting ahead of myself with the downhill velocity. A fast, loose terrain was being well managed with new found confidence, until a small (newly assigned) log was in the path. Not a problem, just pick the bike up a bit, stay loose, and let the tires tap and float over like they always do. This time it was different. The log had rotted into a few still-hard sections, which after contact with my tires, went tumbling along with me. One section got quite intimate with my rear wheel, bouncing, rolling, and re-directing it more and more. I tried to shake it loose, but to no avail. I was finally sent over the bars, crashing into rocks and brush with more velocity than I cared for.

After catching my breath, I noticed my left arm didn't function properly. That's when it hit me harder than the granite had. I broke my collarbone. A quick check confirmed that while it hadn't protruded yet, it wanted to. After using my spare tube as a sling, Jeff(?) walked my bike out, and I walked myself. Thanking him for his help, my new friend put my bike in the car, and waited to make sure I would be OK. Driving to St. Mary's, I decided many of our St.Louis roads could use a fresh coating of pavement. Once there, the triage nurse couldn't understand the pulse-by-finger-clamp machine, until she verified the old fashioned way that my pulse was 46 bpm. The look on her face was priceless until another nurse asked if I was an athlete. After explaining yes, and that 46 was possibly a tick low, but not enough to worry about, we got on with the process. I got to see the new digital X-ray machine (which the tech was happy to show off), got my million dollar arm sling, and drove home in a gown. (Well after waiting at Wallgreens for some fancy Ibuprofen)

So now, I wait. Wait until I can ride again. Wait until I can build again. Wait until next year, when hopefully I will be getting ready for a 12 hour race. Sorry to all this will affect, the list still remains. The blog won't say much about my building for a while. But, if I come across anything interesting, I may still come up with something to talk about. Take it easy, and good luck to those who will race. And if you get a chance, head out to check out / support the Gateway Cup this weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My bike is cooler than I am!

So even though it rained yesterday, and it was supposed to rain today, when I woke up, it looked like there might be a quick window of no rain for a mountain bike ride. After waiting this long, I couldn't take it anymore. So I suited up and headed to Castlewood to break in the new stead. It has been a while from the last time I actually had a mountain bike (let alone rode one as such), and I was going at it alone. So, I decided that would be an easy trail to brush the rust off the fat tires.

I changed the geometry of this frame to make her a bit more aggressive, and that she was. It took a trail or two just to figure out that she really wasn't my old frame. But after that, I started to push the corners a bit more, and charge through the more technical sections. Which (due to being so rusty) got me into trouble. I had a few near misses, and a couple good crashes. I meant to beat her into submission on our first ride, but she let me know I wasn't the one with the upper hand. So now I've accepted that we'll just have to figure out each others' strengths and weaknesses, and learn to work together.

By the end of the 17 miles I ended up doing, the frame was getting splattered with mud as brown as my darkest tan, and I was getting bruised as red as the new paint she got. And as our colors merged, I was beginning to get the hang of her and the new geometry. Even though we never became one together. It was good enough for her first ride. Overall, she was just as laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant as I would have hoped for. And I think once I find my new bike handling limits, and dial in my fit, this new mistress will be my most favorite thing to ride. I mean, I love you Melissae.

I tried to take a picture, but my batteries died. So no eye candy today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


It is done. (well, done enough to ride. New wheels to come.)

More later.

Now I ride.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Progress and Regress

The mountain bike frame just went out for paint this morning. Good old Les over at Powder Coat Specialists said he could get it to me by tomorrow. You don't get that kind of turnaround anywhere else. (I should note that I don't get a deal through him, nor am I affiliated with him. He's just a good guy who works for a living.) All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. And I did *solve* the alignment issue from being too hasty before. I brazed a small bit inside the dropout, filed a bit, and now the wheel is held where it should be. I think the solution worked out pretty well, and unless I said anything, nobody would have known. But of course it would be much better to have gone through the steps ahead of time, and not had to 'fix' anything. Again, yet another lesson learned, and why I'm not taking orders quite yet.

I also put out a big order to build this baby up. And I will say that this will probably be the lightest, and pricey(est), mountain bike (possibly any bike) I've owned yet. (more posts and pics to come) I just figured I've been putting together dream bikes for enough friends and customers that I wouldn't mind sharing the fun. Now for the next couple months, I've got to flog this thing over every dip, burm, rock, rut, and mile that I can to get ready for the 12 hr "Burnin' at the Bluff" race.

On the negative side, I noticed while doing the last steps, that my welding hoses are leaking. I don't know how long that they've been going, but it's another $58 before I get going again. Luckily, I'll have time to get things situated before I'm ready to start any torch work on the next one on the list. A lugged road bike for my Florida buddy Mike. (I still need those fit details man!)

More pictures here:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Comes least I hope it will be a wicked ride. If it all works out, it should be.

I just realized I've got about two months to get ready for the 12 hour mountain bike race, and I haven't ridden much this year. That's what happens when I get caught up with working at a busy bike shop, and then building bikes when I get home. The whole fun of being into this sport tries sneaking out the back door. So these next two months are going to be dialing in this new steed, and getting some serious miles in to get ready for it. I put in 50 miles in yesterday and I can feel the long nasty winter in my legs. So I've got to keep up with it, or I'll be hurting in October.

The parents came over for a nice visit this last week, but I still managed to get some work done. Finished up the seat stays, as well as the disc mount. Brazed those up, and now it's just a couple bridges, braze-ons, and smoothing it all out. I will admit I skipped a step, and now the rear wheel won't be held perfectly strait. That's what I get for being in a rush to get this done. But hopefully it shouldn't throw off the handling enough to mess things up, and it's definitely a lesson learned.

Here's a sneak preview of my (hopefully) race-worthy mountain bike:

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