If there is a perfect day to start a 9 month saga of preparation for [insert race here], it was today. Eric and I took the weekend off from 'cross racing to focus ourselves and get pointed in the right direction (up) before winter. Today's episode of that process went as follows:
1) Make Eric's bike work
2) Ride mountain bikes until Eric is tired
3) Make Eric's bike work (again), and try to stop the bleeding...
Eric's bike is a 2003 Yeti Kokopelli, which is nearly identical to the current ASR Alloy if you pulled off the 100mm fork and replaced it with an 80, then dropped about a pound of lead shot down the seat tube. (It's actually a lot more subtle than that, but I have a whole article brewing about the evolution of MTB geometry, and I'm not going to spoil it on the 5th post.) The bike is pretty thrashed in an, "I'm not really broken but nobody has loved me in a very long time and it shows" sort of way. In keeping with history, we only took care of the most pressing problem, a ground-to-death granny ring, before we went out to play.
After spending far too long wrenching on this crankset, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank TruVativ for thinking an aluminum granny gear on a mountain bike was a good gram saving solution. The chain didn't only sharkify the teeth on the ring, it honed them down on all four sides, leaving a chain-shaped wavy groove all the way around (see first pic). Light weight on a budget--until you're buying replacement rings in lots of a dozen. Fortunately, we were able to go down to the LBS (shout out to Cat at ACE Wheelworks) and hooked up a shiny new steel replacement (Shimano Deore). Which one of these is not like the others? (above-right)
At last we got everything sorted and off we went with our buddy Seth in tow. As it was a Saturday afternoon, and 61 degrees in November to boot, we decided we'd ride a little something called the "Triple Distilled" loop, which, in a nutshell, is a 2 hr ride compacting all the technical sections from the three main loops that we ride at our local park into one spectacularly fun time. Eric was on his game, for a roadie, sessioning some small drops and big steps with ease. Seth was throwing it all out on the table as well, with somewhat more mixed results, but they both nailed this guy (left + right), which points pretty much straight down and has a nice a 60 degree turn at the bottom between two trees.
After 2+ hours of grinding through the woods, one flat and no permanent injuries, we popped back out into civilization. On the way home we decided to practice a little balance with this pretty awesome 100' long curb (left). To look at it you'd think it would be no trouble at all, I mean it's almost three tire widths across, smooth, and perfectly straight. But it takes some pretty intense concentration to keep from checking your balance more than a tire-width in either direction for a hundred feet. Eric did a thorough job of proving the point that it was not, indeed, easy by sending his bike off one side of the curb and his person off of the other, managing to bend the bejeezus out of his brake rotor and peeling skin off of three fingers, which brings us to the subject of today's post: