28 February 2015

Stardate 2015.162


Winter Returns

After a nice January thaw sporting low 60-degree temps, normality returned. The following pics are from a recent stroll up Waterton Canyon.


Snowcatcher is at work doing her thing.

Waterton Canyon's mouth

The eerie mouth of Waterton Canyon beckons us on.

Fat bikers exiting Waterton Canyon after a wintery ride.

Riders on fat bikes looked a bit frosted as they went by. It is a good day for a fat bike. Fat bikes are relatively new; they are mountain bikes that sport very wide wheels for enhanced buoyancy on mediums like snow. We thought about taking out the mountain bikes, but changed our minds at the last minute.


A field of icicles hanging from a leaky water pipe. There is a constant drip here during the warm months, as well.

South Platte River

The South Platte River

Waterton Canyon

The higher realms of Waterton Canyon are in silent mode.

South Platte River

Colorado Fish and Game fish squeezers try to maintain a fishery in the canyon. The rocks create some slackwater. As you can see, the structure performs kind of like a weir. It's not a gabion. It's a very leaky check dam. It would be interesting to see it functioning with higher flows.

South Platte River

This is the same stream structure as above.

Go ahead Denver Water, take our fun away!   :)

Too bad, it's definitely a good day for a swim.

South Platte River as the snow picked-up again.

The ice was building fast in areas of slackwater.

The lower reach of Waterton Canyon and the South Platte River.

It's common to see bighorn sheep through this reach, but not today. The walk out is a bit chilly. While warming in our car, we bid farewell to Waterton as another day's light slowly fades.

Until next time...

21 February 2015

Stardate 2015.142

An early autumn snow blankets the higher realms of the West Elk Mountains.

Ride The Rockies Dirty 30

Day 4 of this year's Ride the Rockies has an option. In addition to the normal State Highway route between Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado, riders will have the option of riding over Ohio Pass (10,033 ft), dropping to Kebler Pass (9,980 ft), then further dropping to historic Crested Butte.

The Castles are in view most of the way up Ohio Creek.

The Ohio Pass option — "Dirty Thirty" as it's called — should be a jewel. The route up Ohio Creek begins about 3 miles north of Gunnison. The ride up the creek is a very scenic roll through numerous working ranches. Better yet, the Castles will be in view a good portion of the way.

The Anthracite Range at sunrise.  Ohio Pass (not in view yet) crosses this range in several miles.

About 18 miles up Ohio Creek, give or take, the asphalt gives way to dirt and gravel. During the fall, this region can be immersed in colored foliage. Ohio Pass is still several miles ahead. The rocky grade increases significantly as the route begins its climb over the eastern shoulder of the Anthracite Range.

The Ohio Pass road not long after leaving dry pavement.

I've spent a fair amount of time on Ohio Pass and Cottonwood Pass, the other dirt leg of this year's ride. Cottonwood has the elevation, but Ohio is more narrow and rocky. More than a few wheel rims will come off of Ohio Pass with war wounds.

The view looking back down the pass, a mile or so from the summit.

This pic was taken just below the summit of Ohio Pass.

From the summit of Ohio Pass, it's a short, easy, dirt descent to Kebler Pass. West of Kebler Pass, the road remains dirt. However, the tour will descend the east side of Kebler on relatively new asphalt.

A carpet of golden fern caressing quakie boles, Anthracite Range, Colorado

Mount Crested Butte is peeking over the ridge at sundown.

The Kebler descent will deposit riders in the heart of Crested Butte.


16 February 2015

Stardate 2015.129

Ram enjoying the warm day.
I think this guy was half asleep as he ambled along the rock face.

Waterton In Shorts!

I took advantage of 60 degree temps, by taking an afternoon mountain bike ride up Waterton Canyon to the beginning of the single-track and the Colorado Trail.

Starting up Waterton Canyon

The Denver Water service road is 6 miles of easy spin along a historic rail-grade.

Ewes scrounging for grub

Up above me, ewes were doing what ewes do best - eat.

Start of Trail 800 (Colorado Trail) single-track

I pedaled mostly dry ground to the start of single-track of the Colorado Trail. This segment of trail is also known as Trail 800.


I traveled up the trail for 100 yards, then turned around. Many of the snow-less segments of trail were still too muddy to ride. It's easy to trash a trail when they're this soggy.

Pike National Forest

Welcome to northern Pike National Forest.

Snowy single-track

The snow was melting fast, for February.

The narrows never sees any sun.  It's usually packed snow into March.

The road is usually snow- and ice-packed through the narrows. In fact, I don't think sunlight even reaches this segment around the winter solstice. The remainder of the ride was invigorating. It was nice to be in shorts again. However, that will change, I'm quite sure. Our snow month is March, and it's right around the corner.


10 February 2015

Stardate 2015.112

Kit Carson Mountain, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Great Sand Dunes14,165, 14,294 and 14,197 feet

2015 Ride The Rockies Route

What can I say; the 2015 route is a beaut. I don't think it will top the 2010 route, but it will be close. It does contain several awesome climbs. The Grand Mesa will be a whopper. Don't let the sub-11,000-foot summit fool you. This climb hurts. Cottonwood Pass is a whopper too. Its summit sits above 12,000 feet. Yes, air molecules have a lot more space in which to dodge each breath you take.

Sunrise on Monument Canyon

Day One will be a short, stiff climb, followed by a cruise over the top of the Colorado National Monument. A jaw-dropping landmark adjacent to my home town, the Monument has seen my wheels countless times. Being biased, it is one of the best rides in the state - pure and simple. Another 20+ miles can be added to this 45-mile loop by riding the farmland north of Fruita and Grand Junction. The Alphabet, as it's called, is the zig-zag linking of the east/west roads that happen to be lettered instead of numbered (north/south roads are numbered).

Grand Mesa

The start of Day Two will will twist and turn through the numerous vineyards and orchards of East Orchard Mesa and Palisade. After a short ride up Plateau Canyon, the road ramps up significantly, just below the town of Mesa, then the hurt begins. Huff, Huff, Huff... I guaranty it, no matter how fit you think you are! After a fast descent, 98 miles later, you'll limp into Hotchkiss.

The Raggeds reflect in Paonia Reservoir

Hotchkiss is a delight. This is a small ranching, farming and coal mining town. Some orchards and vineyards exist as well. It's rural Colorado at its finest. It's a picture of what the majority of Colorado was not too long ago. I miss living this lifestyle. Hotchkiss also is a gateway into the West Elk Mountains. It's easy to let yourself disappear in these mountains.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Day Three will be a 78-mile ride to another favorite town, Gunnison. In fact, we've thought of retiring in this town. It still has a wild and wooly air to it.

Purple Mountain (12,958 ft), point 12,314 and Cinnamon Mountain (12,293 ft) rise above the Slate Creek headwaters; Elk Mountains, Colorado.

Day Four is yet another of my favorite towns, Crested Butte. There are two options for this day, a scenic 27-mile all-pavement route along the Gunnison, East and Slate Rivers; or, a very, very scenic, 35-mile, pavement-and-gravel ride up Ohio Creek to Ohio Pass (10,033 ft). From Ohio Pass, the route drops down to Kebler Pass (9,980 ft), then continues its drop into Crested Butte. Except for some hide-a-ways in the San Juan Mountains, this is about as good as it gets!

Taken with SmugShot on my iPhone

Day Five will be another distance jewel. The 102-mile route leaves Crested Butte for Salida. The only thing in the way is a twisty, gravelly, pot-holed road up to Cottonwood Pass, which rises a measly 12,126-feet above the sea. This will be a leave-early-and-hope-to-beat-the-thunderstorms-over-Cottonwood-Pass day. Cottonwood Pass to Salida is downhill for the most part.

Canon City Sunset

An easy 66-mile jaunt down scenic Arkansas River Canyon to the Royal Gorge is in store for Day Six. The tour will cross the Royal Gorge Bridge and into Cañon City for the evening. Cañon City is another small authentic Colorado town. In fact, part of our afternoon will be visiting quilt/yarn stores.

Humboldt Peak14,064

The last day bids farewell to Cañon City and heads southwest into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It'll be a tough climb back up to Westcliffe via Hardscrabble Pass. If you drop off the left side of the above ridge, scamper to the bottom, and head northeast several miles, then head north, you'll find Westcliffe. The above photo is of the summit of Humboldt Peak, touching the sky at 14,064 feet. There's also a marmot stylin' for a photo. Humboldt is the 38th highest Peak in Colorado.

Thanks for reading!
All photos, except Crested Butte, courtesy of Snowcatcher - thank you!


07 February 2015

Stardate 2015.104

Top O' The Day To Ya!

Spring-like temperatures adorn this region again. It's time to pull on some SHORTS and take a bike for a roll. I pointed the bike toward Deer Creek Canyon for a nice little climb. Icy conditions are abating and most of the road is dry of runoff. No cold, wet butt cheeks today.

Four more turns deposits you in the small hamlet Critchell, several miles yet, from the top.  Yes, I stopped on a hill,  but only for some blog fodder.

I stopped toward the top of High Grade Road to shoot a photo. In four more turns, I will be in the small hamlet of Critchell. Good, my legs could use a short breather. However, I still have several miles to the top. Yes, I stopped on a hill, but only for some blog fodder — seriously!

The snow was melting fast on top.

Despite clouds drifting in, it is very warm for February, even at an elevation of 8,500 feet. On top, the snow is rapidly melting.

One had to watch the sand on the descent.

The descent requires a little care. There is a lot of sand on the road, and the curves are kind of exciting.

Looking east down the steepest part of High Grade Road.  This short segment is probably 12- to 15-percent grade.

I ease up on the gas while descending the steepest part of High Grade Road. Once again, lots of sand lions hanging about. This short segment is probably 12- to 15-percent grade.

It's a delightful cruise down Deer Creek.

It is a delightful cruise down Deer Creek, especially since the sun is shooing away the clouds.

Heading east through the hogback portal onto the plains.

When I reached the bottom and shed a layer, I took this photo of the hogback portal onto the plains.

This is my favorite cottonwood on this route.  In the summer, its shade is oh so inviting.

This is my favorite cottonwood tree on this route. In the summer, its shade is very inviting.

That's it for now. See ya soon!

04 February 2015

Stardate 2015.096

This is an 8- speed (16 total).  I prefer 9 speed.  10-speed is okay, it just doesn't last like a 9- or 8-speed.  IMHO, current 11-speed, is overkill.  Gotta like that Campagnolo finish on the hub.

Steel Is Real
Part II

Hi folks, welcome back to Colorado and my Serotta rebuild. First, I must say, this bike was a workhorse and fun to ride. I recorded my fastest cycling speed on this bike — 63 miles per hour. I did this descending the north dam of Horsetooth Reservoir, outside of Fort Collins, Colorado. The Serotta descended as if it was on rails — it was awesome! In recent years, I've been into the 50-mile-per-hour range quite a bit, but that's about my comfort limit on light carbon bikes. The Treks just aren't as stable at speed. I think it has to do with their ultra-light weights and some geometry differences, albeit Trek geometry is similar to the Serotta. Moreover, when carbon decides to die, it just breaks; there is no initial deformation to catch in a once-over. That is always in the back of my mind when speeds start to get serious.

Time to check the wheel bearings.  The rear hub pawl race looked good.  Ball bearings drop into a  race behind the yellow seal.  I miss the simplicity of older hubs.  Drop-in the bearings and go.  No need to press-fit anything.  Remove, clean, repack.

Let's continue on to the wheel bearings. The rear hub pawl race looked good. Right side ball bearings drop into a bearing race behind the yellow seal. I like the simplicity of older hubs. Drop in the bearings and go; there's no need to press-fit anything, just remove, clean and repack.

Instead of dry and cracked, the old greasy was almost a liquid.  The pawls and springs just fell out into my hand.  Bearing cone looks worn, but in good shape.

Instead of dry and cracked, the old grease was almost a liquid. The pawls and springs just fell out into my hand. Bearing cones looked evenly worn and were in good shape. You probably already know this, but notice how the pawls are spring-loaded. This keeps them engaged in the hub pawl race (see previous pawl race pic) while pedaling. When coasting the hub keeps spinning while compressing the pawl springs. Hence, the buzzzzz noise when not pedaling.

After their bath...

Everybody cleaned up nicely after a bath. When working with loose ball bearings, always keep an eye out for different size bearings. Label each side as you remove the bearings. Be careful; they like to drop into and hide in a hollow axle during disassembly. The above example shows smaller bearings on the drive side (right side). The non-drive side has larger bearings. Moreover, bearing quantities can differ. Above, the drive side has 10 bearings, whereas the opposite race holds 9.

If you lose a bearing, just go shoot yourself because it's all over! At least that's how I've felt in the past. Just go to a good service shop and purchase what you lost. In general, common old hub ball bearings tend to be 1/4- and/or 1/8-inch balls. Use a micrometer to make sure. If your bearing cones are shot, buy new bearings with the new cones. Identical bearing cones may be hard to come by over the counter. However, a shop can probably order what you need.

The little tool holds in the pawls while you drop the free hub into it's bay.  It took a few tries.  The good part, only one way works, so you know when it's correctly installed.  I made a mess with grease trying to get the pawls where I wanted them.

The little tool compresses the pawl springs while you drop the free hub into its bay (race). It may take a few tries. Make sure the O-ring seal doesn't hang up outside its groove as you slide the hub into position. The good thing is only one way works; you will know when the hub is correctly installed. I made a mess with grease trying to get the pawls where I wanted them. A wire tie can be used in place of the shown tool.

Wall- LAH!

Viola! After the drive side, I cleaned and packed the non-drive side, adjusted bearing play, and called it a done deal.

Clean cogs are happy cogs.

Clean cogs are happy cogs. Since you have to remove them, you might as well degrease them. I got to reminiscing here. The Serotta's gearing is 53/39 up front, with an 8-speed 12/23 cassette on the back. The numbers refer to the number of teeth on each chainring (front) or cog (rear). Back in the day, this was the gearing I always used, even when climbing. Now I run a compact 50/34 up front with a 10-speed 11/25 cassette on the back. I've become fat and lazy or wise and less macho — hopefully the latter. I'm even thinking of changing my current 11/25 to an 11/28 (the limit of my rear derailleur).

I was a bit disappointed in this wheelset. The braking surface had a ceramic coating to facilitate better braking in all conditions. Eventually, it started peeling off. Hopefully, this is only a weak spot, as the peeling doesn't appear to be occurring elsewhere.

No more handling the bike with greasy hands, time for some fresh bar tape.

Since handling the bike with greasy hands is now minimal, it's time for some fresh bar tape.

Here's some nice lug work at the intersection of the seat-tube, top-tube and seat-stays.

Carbon layering of the forks doing funky disco stuff in the camera flash.  You ought to see it in the sun - very cool.

The carbon filament winding of the Wound Up fork is doing funky disco stuff in the camera flash. You ought to see it in the sun - very cool. The Wound Up fork is not original. The below paragraphs summarize why I have this fork. Carbon was still relatively new in cycling when I purchased the fork. Wound Up had won a "fork shootout" in a cycling mag, so I ordered one. I loved it. It actually enhanced the Serotta's ride. Wound Up Composites are a part of Advanced Composites, Incorporated, an aerospace company.

This segment of wall is the vicinity I hit some ice and shot into the wall, trashing my forks in the process.  I was lucky and came down on top of the wall, still grasping the handlebars.  Thankfully, the bike was on the good side.

About 8 months after acquiring the Serotta, I was taking a Thanksgiving morning ride over the Colorado National Monument. It was cold. There was snow on the ground. Better yet, there was snow on all shaded areas of asphalt. Most of the snow was packed well, with lots of embedded sand. There was the occasional non-sanded patch of ice too, it goes with the turf. In a nutshell, I could ride most of the snowpacked asphalt without too much trouble, if slow and careful. Well, slow and careful put me into the flagstone security wall lining scenic Rim Rock Drive. Beyond the wall, several feet of desert shrub was followed by several hundred near-vertical feet of Wingate Sandstone. The above video screen capture is in the area where I hit the wall.

After hitting the patch of ice, I managed to instantly click out of my pedals, hit the wall at an angle, and manage to sprawl myself out flat on top of the wall. Seconds later, my bike was on the wall's safe side, I was still holding onto the handlebars with a death-grip, and I was cursing myself for being stupid and/or cocky. My steel forks were a mess — bent asymmetrically backward. My front wheel wouldn't spin between the brake calipers, so I had to perform some easy brake surgery. I rode the next 25-miles lopsided, and without front brakes. Moreover, I still had to descend off of the top of the Monument. I didn't own a cell phone yet, I didn't have any change for a public phone, and I didn't want to mooch. It was what it was!

The above video screen capture (near where I hit wall), shows how precarious Rim Rock Drive can be.

Finished left side

Here she be! Left side...

Finished right side

...Right side

As for the remainder of the bike, cleaning and lubing the brake calipers was not a problem. Cleaning and repacking the front hub bearings was a no-brainer as well. Everything was in good shape. Perhaps a bit grease/oil-thirsty is all. Tires are starting to weather, but not bad. I did install new tubes. Ergo shifters appear to be ratcheting as good as can be expected. The front derailleur is ready for action, whereas the rear derailleur is tired and is going to take some finessing to adjust well.

All said and done, the steel Serotta Atlanta weighs in at 21.5 pounds. For comparison, my carbon Trek Madone 5.2 Pro, weighs in at 16.5 pounds. In addition, my aluminum Giant 29er hardtail mountain bike, weighs in at 23 pounds. Changing to a carbon Wound Up fork on the Serotta lowered its weight by at least 2 pounds.

Thanks for reading!

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