One month later, down days continued

Yea, so a month has gone by with me practically wearing out the couch. I have finished off Command&Conquer, Red Alert, Civ2, Theme Hospital and the best part of Age of Empires 2 (that’s a damn hard game, by the way), and have now started with Red Alert 2. That’s about as fun, or not, as my life has been.

In the mean time we have had the weirdest winter ever, scary snowpack and 75 dead in avalanches in Europe so far. In Sweden there seem to have been a few truly fantastic (but oh so sketchy) days and between them lots and lots of crappy riding. If I got to choose one winter to not be able to ride, this one is a good candidate.

Today I was at the hospital (again) and the latest word is that I might suffer from post myocarditis. In pure English, this means that I may have had a light inflammation in the heart muscle (not as bad as it sounds) and now my body is healed but cannot really believe it and gives me all kinds of symptoms (way worse than it sounds).

Good or bad, at least for the first time I have some kind of educated guess about what is wrong. And the good thing is that it’s not dangerous, just tedious. And I think i just maybe possibly might be on the way towards recovery, today I even managed a proper walk in the sunshine. I cannot stress enough how good it felt after not being able to drag my bum off the couch for more than a month. YAY!

Ice and sun, on my own two feet!

Ice and sun, on my own two feet!

Down days

All quiet here, I’m sorry about that. The reason is that I have been mostly lying down for the last weeks, some weird post-Spain bug caught me and rendered me completely useless.

It’s times like these that make me realise how important good health and strenght is, and how often I have just taken it for granted. Waking up in the morning and not spending a second doubting that the body will cash whatever checks the mind has written, that is luxury. I hope to be back there soon.

In the mean time I read about snow science, bike suspension dynamics and play old computer game from the ninties.

Command and Conquer, state of the art 1996

Command and Conquer, state of the art 1996

Long term report, what works and what breaks

Etiketter

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After a fall season of more or less daily riding I have gathered a few impression about what seems to hold up. As a disclaimer, I am not a heavy guy. I am not a freerider either, even if I do the occasional jump or drop. What I am is a guy that rides lots, in big, rocky terrain. And when I decide to hit a line, I don’t think about possible bike damage. If I think I can do it without hurting myself, I do it. No consideration to bottomed out suspension, sharp rocks or big impacts is taken. And sometimes I run out of talent, leading to all kinds of damage-inducing events.

...and a bit of me!

Possibility for damage

Allright, with all that presentation out of the way, I will just tediously go through the specs piece by piece. If I by the end of this post have any readers left, maybe I will post a funny youtube video or something as a prize. So here goes…

The only pic I had of the bike with up to date spec

The only pic I had of the bike with up to date spec

Frame: Stumpjumper evo carbon. Yea, still in one piece (sort of). The upper headset bearing race is an aluminium affair glued into the carbon head tube. At some point it decided to let go of the frame and do its own thing.

I noticed by the paint cracking in a perfect circle a couple of millimeters below the top of the head tube, right in the intersection between carbon and aluminium. I glued it back with the strongest epoxy I could find and it seems fine, but time will tell…

Tubes and epoxy, trying to make head tube and headset race happy together

Inner tubes and epoxy, trying to make head tube and headset race happy together

Otherwise there is not much, a bunch of scratches in the once shiny paintwork, and that bent downtube is very prone to catch all sharp rocks flung up by the front wheel, which brings me neatly to…

Frame protection: Rockguardz. Brilliant piece of kit, 35quid to save my oh-shit-are-you-serious-priced frame. One smashed to delamination in three places, went on top of a new one that is now also showing signs of delamination in one spot. As I said, brilliant kit, but next time I will ask for a dh strength version. They are made to order, so it should be possible. The only niggle is that they don’t protect the stupidly routed cable underneith of the down tube, but on the other hand the cables are easily rerouted under the top tube and on the chain stays instead.

Rock fodder, the sensible choice in rocky terrain

Rock fodder, the sensible choice in rocky terrain

Squishy bits: Bos Deville 140mm forks from beginning of 2011 season, still going strong. Changed the seals for the second time in October, service is super straightforward. And in my opinion it is still better damped than all the shiny Pikes people tend to show up with these days. The Fox rear shock showed signs of tiredness and got replaced by a Monarch plus, and my impressions are very positive. No more compression spiking, and a rebound damping that actually does its job. More words in another post, this will be long enough as it is and is supposed to focus on longevity and not on performance.

Drivetrain: It seems like my Shimano SLX rear derallieur get sloppy in the clutch after a certain amount of rattling down rocky trails. I put a fresh one on before coming down to Spain in August, and replaced it mid October. It had developed a slop that no amount of clutch-tensioning seems to solve. It is the first time I actually wear out an RD before smashing it to bits, it has to say something about Shimanos clutches or my line choices. When it comes to the wear bits in the beginning of November I replaced the Mavic 10s chain I had been running since spring, and the brand new (xt) chain still meshes perfectly with the XT cassette, the Wolftooth 42t cog and the 32t N/W Raceface front ring. However, the OneUp 16t cog seems to be made of cheese, showing notable wear and not meshing with the chain even though it is the most recent addition to the drive train. Luckily it can be flipped, effectively doubling its short life. It messes up the shift ramps, but changing gear is still smooth enough for me. Anyway, a steel 16t cog would be better.

Clean and shiny with new chain and flipped 16t cog made of cheese

Clean and shiny with new chain and flipped 16t cog made of cheese. Somehow I managed to break a tooth of the big sprocket, but it does not seem to impact performance.

Upon coming home to Sweden, I flipped the front ring over since the teeth were showing some signs of wear. Double life again, I hope.

Brakes: I got my Saint brakes in September, and they have been perfect ever since (except for the rock that punctured the down tube routed hose, but I can’t blame the brakes for that). Pad life has been impressive to say the least. I changed the front pads in the beginning of November, after two solid months of riding, the rear ones are getting thin but do still work. On the front the new pads I mounted were some third party affair that seem to wear a lot faster than the real, expensive Shimano deal. Next time I will buy originals.

Wheels: Replaced the bearings in the old Hope front hub once this season, as I do every season. Old style Flow rim still holds up, front wheels in general seem to last well for me. On the rear I have the original Roval Traverse whatever wheel with DT hub internals and stupid straight pull spokes. I had to replace the rim with a Flow EX after a couple of months, the original one was just done. I chalk it up to wear and tear, I don’t suspect the Flow will last significantly better.

I snapped a couple of spokes during the season, but all was crash related. I truly detest working on that wheel, the aluminium (yes, that is how it is spelled dammit!) nipples always get a bit of friction in the threads and the spokes then turn in the hub instead of the nipple turning on the spoke, really annoying. If I ever go straight pull again, I will get bladed spokes so there is at least something to hold on to when the spokes start to spin. DT Swiss hub internals have been solid, just as expected, but I do miss the pickup of my old Kings.

Fresh Flows, partly worn french rubber, mint view

Fresh Flows, slightly worn french rubber, mint view

The other stuff seem to have made it just fine. The RaceFace Half Nelson grips seem to wear very slowly, as long as one uses proper bar end plugs (I have Hopes). Bottom bracket is still smooth, so are the headset bearings. Cranks, bars, stem and all that have made it, a bit scratched up but still solid. Anything else would be cause for serious internet bashing I guess. Even the pedals, E thirteens immensely grippy but expensive lg1, have made it with just a bit of chipping in the plastic and a little bit of play, not bad.

Time to hold on tight to those grips

Time to hold on tight to those grips

I serviced the KS Lev seatpost when I came home, since it was getting a little bit spongy. Now that I have done it a couple of times it is a painless and relatively quick procedure to replace the fluid and make sure the air is only in the right places. It is now back to being as smooth and solid as ever. It seems to be another one of those ”once in a season” things.

The Michelin WildRokr2 rubber has been holding up allright, even if especially the rear lost a bit of edge hold on loose surfaces towards the end of the stay in Spain. After two months of riding, I think that is fair.

To those who made it all the way, good work! Your boredom threshold is impressive indeed. Here you go, how about a picture from my current home turf?

Andrea catching me on one of my lunch ride trails

Andrea catching me on one of my lunch ride trails, small bike and everything.

Still not happy? How about a kitten so small she fits in my hand?

Little girl holding on tight with claws and everythig

Little girl holding on tight with claws and everythig

Memory lane, a bumpy ride

Etiketter

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While roaming the internets this morning I came across this:

It really made me think, and memories from last february came back. Many key factors from the tragic accident in Montana were the same as we had. We also had a touchy snowpack, were in low angle terrain, and I too triggered an upwards propagation that ultimately fractured way above us and brought half the hillside down. Therefore, I can truly say that this last accident in Montana could very well have been me. I lucked out, and for that I am grateful. I am even more grateful that Andrea and Maria made it out in one (admittedly quite badly beaten up) piece.

Spending all autumn doing skids and wheelies in Spain gave me some time to reflect, both on that specific incident and on life in general. In my naiveness and hurry to get back on the horse I thought that after the first weeks of introspection I had found closure and I had learned my lesson from what happened. It turns out, not very surprising, that there will probably will always be reason to go back to what happened that day and learn new lessons.

For now, I have realised that we should not have been where we were, even if I still believe that given our being there, we did most things right until we let our guard down. However, by going on that exploratory mission we put ourselves in an unnecessarily difficult situation, calling upon acute on point observation and decision making. In effect, by going on exploration instead of just heading to known terrain when the snow was touchy and visibility was poor at best, we put all trust in our ability to make the exact right calls in spite of difficult circumstances.

A more conservative approach would have been to head over to more familiar terrain. If we knew every little cliff, dip and rise in our surroundings, our decision making would still be just as crucial, but much easier to execute.

With this in mind, I hope to never forget about that day, when I nearly lost two friends (and myself), and that I will still learn new things from that experience for a long time.

I can only begin to imagine the feeling of shoveling out your touring partner from almost 2m depth after seeing him or her getting swept, and my heart goes out to everyone involved in the accident at Henderson Mountain. I cannot exaggerate my selfish happiness and gratitude that when I was in that situation, my friends and partners Andrea and Maria made it out, thank you so much girls!

Team AMM picture from the Bonneville salt flats, UT. Courtesy of David

Team AMM picture from the Bonneville salt flats, UT. Courtesy of David. There is nothing like a salt desert for making all pics look like album covers. Except for our funny faces, that is.

A wee trip to Motril

Etiketter

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To kill my ongoing cold I decided to tag along on a trip down to Motril, a little more than an hour’s drive away from Monachil. The plan was to check out the downhill track, do a couple of laps and just have a good time.

It turned out that some riding was just what I needed. (Surprise surprise!) In the morning I felt like roadkill, but the further the day went the better I got. The track was really good, dusty and flowy with good jumps and drops, and a couple of steep sections thrown in as well. Like La Zubia, but more technical, steeper and more fun. I like! I managed to grab a couple of pics of parts of the gang, thanks for letting me come along!

Mainly jumps and dust

Mainly jumps and dust

A bit of climbing

A bit of climbing

A bit of air

A bit of air

A bit of steep

A bit of steep

...and a bit of me!

…and a bit of me!

And the new shock? So far, promising. No spiking, controlled rebound, lots of traction. No harsh bottoming out, but I did bottom it with 33% sag. It was well deserved though, landing and g-out. I will elaborate more on the subject when the jury is back in.

Finally, some new toys

Etiketter

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What is black, chubby and fully user serviceable?

Fat vs skinny, black vs gold

Fat vs skinny, black vs gold

To give just a little bit more stick to this dead horse, I was never quite happy with the stock Fox ctd factory trail adjust boost valve kashiblingbling (puh) shock on the Stumpy. A wallowy but yet spiky compression feel and a rebound that felt either too fast on big compression or too slow in the beginning of the stroke, supplemented by severe heating issues and more or less lockout in midstroke during longer descents have me suspecting that it might need service or something. I did an air can service, including new seals, but to no avail. It will be interesting to see if a proper service and Push tuning can sort it out. I refuse to believe that everyone can ride with such crappy performance without complaining. Or am I just overly sensitive? Might well be, I’m used to big downhill shocks or Bos, maybe I am just spoiled.

Anyway, after a lot of looking around at last I got my hands on the very elusive Rockshox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir 2015 (seriously, who comes up with these names?) with the silly proprietary Specialized mounting system. For under 350€, it seems to represent very good value indeed compared to the competition; The Fox Float X is north of 700€, and so is the Bos Kirk (and out of those two, I know for sure which one I would blow my money on). The new Marzocchi 053 S3C2R (seriously? That must be the worst name for a rear shock ever, or at least since the Roco that everyone misspells as the name of a sing long retired old male adult film contributor with a very specific niche) is around 500€ which is right in between, but reliability is unproven, availability is nil and performance unknown.But it looks sharp.

Not that any of this matters, since for us stuck with Specialized and their proprietary mounting there is only the choice between a Float CTD, the Monarch+ or trying to bodge together the CTD with a stock FloatX, apparently Mojo can do it but total price is like two or three Monarch+, so why bother.

There we go, Monarch Plus it is. Mounted on the bike, and with 11 13 bars in the air can (160 188 psi for those of you who are still imperial) I get a nice 33% sag. (I had to edit the pressure figures, as it turns out that the negative chamber is huge and by the time they had equalised and everything was in balance I had added air four times in half bar increments). The car park bounce test in the open setting suggests a lively feel with nice progression towards the end stroke, but of course extensive trail time is needed to say anything proper. If I can just leave my cold behind and become a proper functioning person again, I might even do some back to back tests with the ctd to see what is what. Maybe tomorrow…

Golden sunset emergency photography…

Etiketter

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…and the results? Another ”Olive branch in front of some clouds and a setting sun” pic. Sorry about that.

Clouds and olive branches smothered in golden light, almost as common as poorly edited gopro videos nowadays

Clouds and olive branches smothered in golden light, almost as common as poorly edited gopro videos nowadays

I can try to compensate by adding a bunch of other pictures.

Hold on buddy!

Hold on buddy!

Fruits, sky and hills

Fruits, sky and hills

Golden hills in golden light

Golden hills in golden light

Weird composition, but for some reason I like it

Weird composition, but for some reason I like it

A mixed bag of fall and summer

A mixed bag of fall and summer

As a treat for all of you who made it all the way to the end, how about a dog making a funny face?

A dog that just ate a fly

A dog that just ate a fly

Sketches of Spain

Etiketter

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Just a couple of pics of what I did the other day when I had the day off and all to myself.

Morning mist greets me

Morning mist greets me

The sun rises above the ridge to my right, autumn colours are starting to show

The sun rises above the ridge to my right, autumn colours are starting to show

Big views at the end of the (first) climb

Big views at the end of the (first) climb. Granada lies far down in the valley

Oooh, that ridge looks nice to ride

Oooh, that ridge looks nice to ride

The stumpy enjoys being up there

The stumpy enjoys being up there

Follow the ridge...

Follow the ridge…

Rocky trails in the woods to finish off

Rocky trails in the woods to finish off

I guess it was a total of around 1500m descending, and of course the same climbing. Just a wee loop in my backyard really. And for those of you who have not figured out the title yet, think about Miles!

Trying to be a bit artsy

Etiketter

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We had a day of low hanging clouds and rain today. Not very common around these parts, but the trails will be better for it. Tomorrow it will be all tacky hero dirt goodness, and I will be out for a big day in the hills. Another great thing with the clouds is that they bring a fantastic sunset, and having been sitting still sending out job applications all day I was eager to grab the camera and stretch my legs a bit. The results are maybe not the best, but at least I did try.

Just more of the same?

That is not dirt on the lens

The hills have never looked this spectacular before

The hills have never looked this spectacular before

Mist and clouds still lingering after the rain

Mist and clouds still lingering after the rain

Olive branch and water droplets

Olive branch and water droplets

Golden hour table tennis

Golden hour table tennis

Living the dream

Etiketter

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After a few hectic weeks we finally have a couple of down days, and I thought I would grab the chance to show how I live…

This is where I live, behind the olive tree and underneath the figues

This is where I live, behind the olive tree and underneath the figs

One of my neighbors, all very friendly

One of my neighbors, all very friendly

My backyard for the time being

My backyard for the time being

Way down there is Granada, as seen from my home

Way down there is Granada, as seen from my home

…and bits of my workplace, which is also my playground

Cycle lane climb with jagged limestone peaks as a price at the horizon

Cycle lane climb with jagged limestone peaks as a price at the horizon

Small sample of how my office usually looks

Small sample of how my office usually looks

Racing the sunset home

Racing the sunset home

Dream job, in a dream place for sure! Riding full days 5 to seven days a week can be hard on the equipment though. These past days I have rebuilt my rear suspension, changes seals on the forks (to be honest, that was due already when I came here) and smashed a Rockguardz downtube protector.

Cables smashed, Rockguardz saved the frame

Cables smashed, Rockguardz saved the frame

I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am that I had the guard, otherwise i am fairly certain that I right now would be searching for a new frame. One frame per season is enough I think. Take care out there and mind the sharp rocks, Sierra Nevada is full of them.

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