Velocity Blunt Tubeless Success

This past weekend I successfully mounted my tires tubeless to my Velocity Blunt Rims. I had been planning on doing this since I got the rims but They were running fine with the tubes so it wasn’t a priority. However, the dry trails have had me wanting more grip that running lower tire pressure can provide. I had everything I needed and since the bike needed a good cleaning and I had some free time on my hands and was a bit too tired to ride I figured I’d start the process.

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I followed most of the instructions that I found on the mountainbikefaq.com website. They specifically have a post dedicated to converting this rim to tubeless. The items I needed to perform the conversion were a set of Bontrager Rim Strips (symetrical) and valves, some Stan’s Sealant and some Slime Sealant (for the 70% stan’s and 30% slime homebrew mixture) and of course an air compressor. After watching the Stans Instructional Video posted on mountainbikefaq.com a few times I was ready to go.

I had been running tubes with the tires I was going to re-mount tubeless for about 6 months so they were pretty worn in but still have plenty of life/tread in them. I have a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 for the front and a WTB Wolverine Race 2.2 for the rear. After installing the rim strips I mounted the tires. I wish I would have had some metal levers because I’m pretty sure I almost broke my park plastic levers. I had a hell of a time getting them on but was able to. After mounting them I wanted to see if they would in fact inflate without any sealant just to make sure the bead would set on the rim. This is where I ran into trouble because for some reason my compressor will not work with presta valve adapters. I’m gonna have to look into getting a new head for my compressor to work with the presta adapter but since I was planning on riding the following day I needed to get these tires filled up. I had a few CO2 cartridges and I thought I could go that route but they didn’t quite provide enough air and the tire quickly deflated before I could fill it in time. So I figured I’d push my luck and I threw in the sealant and stood the tires up in my car and drove down to the gas station to try out their pump. At the gas station I had good luck. I was able to fill the tires no problem. I probably looked pretty goofy shaking the sealant through the rim in the parking lot but I managed to do just fine.

After my sucess at the gas station i went home and proceeded to wipe the rim/tire with soapy water to look for bubbles which would indicate small leaks. With the tire holding most of the air I was able to make minor adjustments with a floor pump and work out any slow leak spots. After keeping an eye on the tires and working out the slow leaks for about 15 minutes they were all sealed up. I mounted them back on the bike and was ready to go. In the morning I checked them and they didn’t lose a pound of pressure! It looked like they were gonna be good so I threw the bike on my roof rack and headed out to Palos for the morning.

Once I got to the trail I dropped the pressure down to just under 20 lbs and was ready to go. After a 25+ mile ride the tires held their air. The trails at palos are pretty smooth and hardpack so I probably would have been ok with a higher pressure but My local trail (saw Wee Kee) is pretty loose and rocky and lower pressures over there have paid off greatly. It’ll be interesting to see how this setup holds up in the months to come but I was relatively surprised by how easy these tires were to seal.

Dekalb Gravel Metric, Hot Hell Ride

Last weekend North Central Cyclery in DeKalb held the Gravel Metric, a 62+ mile ride on mostly gravel and dirt roads. Over 200 riders showed up to compete in the non-competitive ride. It was more of a competition against the 110 degree heat and headwinds.

Dekalb gravel metric 2012 start.

There were probably around 10-15 singlespeed riders and I only saw 2 other fixed gear riders besides myself. I was hoping to finish in around 4 to 5 hours but it ended up being over 6 hours. Even without the heat I don’t think I could have done it in 4 hours on a fixed gear. I chose to run about a 73 GI gearing and something in the mid 60s probably would have been a much better choice.

I was riding with another fixed gear rider I met on the course and he went down pretty hard in the loose gravel. Quite a few people ate it on the creek crossing and several people crashed in the first few miles of the course due to difficulty with the gravel. This was not your typical crushed-limestone type gravel that you see on most bike paths. It was more like the loose chunky stuff people used to put down in their gardens in the 80s. The dirt roads were dry and hardpacked but had deep narrow ruts.

I once read an article in Dirt Rag that described 2 types of rides. There are rides that are fun when you are riding, and there are rides that are horrible when you’re riding them but fun the days preceding the ride. This was the latter type of ride. I was hurting bad from heat exhaustion the day of the ride however, after resting, eating, cooling down, and returning to sanity I’m able to look back on this ride and appreciate it with a smile. Looking forward to next years ride and knowing that with cooler temps, knobbier tires, and a lower gear choice I should be able to beat my 6+ hour time no problem.

More details on the ride can be found here

Teko

Teko, originally uploaded by rPawela.

Here’s a shot of Teko from My Canon G7. I did some color adjustments with photoshop got a pretty good light burst by blocking the flash a bit with my finger.

Unfortunately in April Teko was having some health issues and we found out she had cancer in her liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs. It was too late to do anything so we had to put her down.

Rest in Peace Teko. We Love you so much.

Iguanas in Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant”

Recently saw Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call. Here’s Werner Herzog Talking about the iguana scene.

There’s the misconception that this is Herzog’s attempt to remake the 1992 Ferrara Bad Lieutenant featuring Harvey Keitel. Here’s what Herzog had to say on the subject:

It is not a remake. I’ve never seen Bad Lieutenant; I don’t know [Ferrara], and I’ve never seen any of his movies. So I think that’s off the table. One of the producers owned the rights to the name Bad Lieutenant, and he thought it would help the profile of the movie to give it the same name. I tried to stop that, but I did not win. Once it was decided that we would not shoot in New York but in New Orleans, the compromise was to call it Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Ferrara has a right to be angry, but this is not a remake. It has a life of its own.

Read more: Werner Herzog on Bad Lieutenant, Singing Iguanas, and Prop Cocaine — Vulture

They Eat Horses Don’t They?

Several groups are pushing to renew the slaughter of horses in the U.S., possibly starting in Oregon.

Proponents are pushing Congress to introduce a bill to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspecting horse meat for human consumption. Until two years ago, as many as 100,000 horses were killed annually in the U.S. for meat for foreign markets. A federal court ruling in 2007 closed the nation’s last horse-processing plant — Cavel International in DeKalb, Ill. — on the heels of two Texas closures resulting from a state decision to enforce a 1949 ban on horse-meat facilities. interesting debate on this subject can be found here

Canon G7 and the CHDK firmware

Just installed the chdk firmware for my Canon G7 and I feel like I have a whole new Camera. The firmware upgrade offers expansions such as Shutter Speed overrides, Time Lapse Video Shooting, the ability to add a battery life indicator on the viewfinder (something I was surprised to find that Canon didn’t automatically include), scripting capabilities, and what I find most useful, the ability to shoot in raw format.

Raw allows users a wider spectrum for editing image color, exposure, and balance. One of the reasons I like editing in Raw is that you can make photos overdramatic or almost appear to look surreal or blended with a painting.

Here’s a few photos I shot and processed from raw images. Most of the processing on these images was made using a few tweaks in Adobe Camera Raw. Click the images to view larger versions.

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Installing the CHDK firmware was a little confusing. There are detailed instructions on how to do so on the chdk wikia site. Another thing worth noting,   I couldn’t open my raw .crw files in photoshop straight off the camera so I had to batch process them into digital negatives (.dng files) using DNG4PS-2, a free raw converter utility that can be downloaded from google code. The files were converted I was able to edit them in Adobe Camera Raw and then bring them into Photoshop.

Big Run Wolf Ranch

Last weekend, we drove out to Lockport to check out the open house at the Big Run Wold Ranch, a non-profit, federally licensed, educational program which specializes in education and conservation of North American wildlife. Most of the animals at the ranch have either been rescued or orphaned. All of the work staff is volunteer. They have many animals including several wolves; both adults and pups, a Canadian Lynx, a cougar  sheep, donkeys, ponies, turkeys, a skunk, some raccoons, a possum, and a black bear. Below are some photos I took at the open house. For More information on the Big Run Wolf Ranch, check out their website.

Nashbar Cargo Trailer for Bicycles

I make a lot of trips to the grocery store on my bicycle and can only fit so much in my messenger bag or a backpack.  I wanted to be able to carry more groceries without having all the weight on my back. Also, I wanted to start getting into doing more multi-day rides and haul my own camping gear, supplies and food. So last summer I decided I’d get a trailer. You can spend anywhere between $1,000 to $100 for a trailer. If  you have the right equipment you can even weld one yourself. I didn’t want to go the homemade route but I wanted something as cheap as possible.  I found one at Nashbar for just over $100.  It is made out of chromoly steel and looks pretty sturdy.

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The assembly of the Trailer was fairly simple. There wasn’t too much to it. All I really had to do was put the wheel, fender, and reflectors on. There’s also a flag that comes up. At first I didn’t think the flag was necessary but After I took it out on the street and realized how much length was added onto my bike with the trailer attached, I figured the flag would probably help cars see me. I also added a blinky to the back of the fender just as a precaution. Most cars aren’t used to seeing a bicycle pulling a trailer so anything you can do do be seen will help.

After several rides with the trailer you’ll notice a few things that differ from regular riding.

  1. It’s harder to make sharp turns. You need to account for the extra 5 feet or so in length that the trailer adds
  2. It requires more braking power to stop. You have the momentum of the trailer from behind pushing at you when you hit the brakes.
  3. When you are stopped and off the bike, standing the bike up against something can be difficult.

The trailer has a 50 pound weight limit and of course I had to push the weight limit to the max on my first trip to the grocery store. If you throw a storage bin in the back of the trailer you can carry quite a bit of groceries in the back. Essentially I was able to pull the size of approximately 4 standard grocery paper bags. The only issue was that the 4 bags I loaded up were a bit on the heavy side if not over the 5 pound max. Probably not a good idea to stock up on pop, canned foods and liquids. Save the heavier stuff for lighter trips. I think I had too much because the bike felt really unstable like my rear axle was going to snap or like if I leaned too far to one side the bike would topple over. I noticed it is also quite difficult to accelerate with a full load.

Last summer I took the trailer on a short bikepacking trip to test it out for carrying camping gear. I was able to pack a sleeping bag and pad, medium sized tent, tools, a small stove, food and water, and extra clothes and raingear no problem. Pulling the trailer for 30 miles didn’t even seem to be a problem. There’s a 80 miles one-way trail that I am going to try and tackle next.

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Arapahoe Basin and Montezuma Bowl

Just got back from skiing in the Rockies. It had been a couple of years since I was able to do some skiing out there. Most of my recent trips out to Colorado have been during the summer to do some mountain biking. It was nice to do some Big Mountain skiing again.

Me and my girlfriend managed to score some pretty good lift ticket discounts from Liftopia.com. I was able to get a 2 day ticket for Arapahoe Basin for 75 bucks! Not too bad.

Arapahoe Basin has always been one of my favorite places to ski in Summit County. The base and summits of the mountain are a little bit higher than most of the other resorts so the snow tends to hold better late season. The terrain is pretty rugged and has some of the Steepest Runs in Colorado. The mountain is littered with rock faces, windblown cornices and tight tree chutes. I was especially excited because last year A-Basin opened up the Montezuma Bowl and added a chairlift on the backside of the Mountain expanding their in-bound terrain by an additional 80%.

Arapahoe Basin Montezuma Bowl

The terrain was pretty sweet.  For those familiar with the old A-Basin the terrain is more of the same which I will never grow tired of.  Can’t wait to head back out there next season.

Illinois State Parks Stand a Chance.

Now with Rod Blagojevich out of office, Our state parks which were closed stand a chance of being re-opened. Newly appointed governor Pat Quinn who led petitions to keep the parks open will look at the possibility of reopening these parks. Now Quinn will have the opportunity to prove whether his concern for the parks was genuine or simply a means to gain public approval. Blagojevich said the closures were due to budgetary issues but local officials claimed it was for political reasons. From the looks of Blagojevich’s time in office and the way he handled money, I wonder what he actually meant by “budgetary issues”?

…Read More at WQAD.com, quad cities news channel 8.