Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time Flies and Jerseys In Stock!

You know the feeling when one day turns into a week and then the next thing you know a month has passed and then you've got to buy a new calendar?  Yeah, that feeling.  Nose to the grindstone, building bikes, replacing chains on folks burner bikes, trying to make sure I have enough 700c tires in the 30-45mm range...normal bike shop duties.  

But, I did manage to get jerseys and shorts done.  There was a pre-order window a while back and I want to thank all the folks who ordered through the Voler portal to get exactly what you want.  I tried to figure out what to order to have in stock here at the shop at the same time.  I kind of blew it by not anticipating how many medium sized jersey and bibs I would need to order, so those sizes are pretty much gone.  

As of today, here's what's available.  There's links in the item description to Voler's page describing the item.  If it says "race" in the description, it's a race cut fit.  If it says "club" in the description, it's a club cut.  I'm pretty stoked on how they all turned out.  Big thanks to Ken at Kenji Designs for incorporating my sketches into a great design.

Until I get a site upgrade with a proper store, ordering is as easy as emailing me or calling me.




SM
MED
LG
XL
2XL
3XL
$105
M


3
4


$90
M



1
1

$90
M

1
2
4
2
1
$90
W


2
2


$80
M


2
2
1
1
$100
M

1
2
1


$100
M

1
2
2
1

$95
M
1
2
3
3
2

$115
M

1
3



$130
M


1










(What's playing:  The Who You Better, You Bet)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Your Bikes

Most of the new bikes shots I put up are of bikes in the stand as they leave the shop.  This post is dedicated to your bikes as you have them set up and ride them.  

The shots below show Arthur's bike and the northern tour he undertook last year.  While my cross bike is not a touring bike, one could undertake moderate, lightly packed tours as Arthur did.



This was shot by Rob Perks of Ocean Air Cycles as he was driving (he was probably stopped) through the streets of Ventura.  A keen eye, Rob has, in that he recognized a Black Mountain Cycles bike in the wild and had the quick thought to take a picture and send it to me.  This road bike is owned by Chris.  Chris also sent a photo of his bike leaning against the gate to Black Mountain Ranch outside of Ojai, CA.  Chris rode up there to wave the South African flag as the Tour of California race rode by.


This is Scott's bike.  He came over from Davis and picked up the frame and wheels I built for him.  Scott was a customer of Pacific Coast Cycles way back when I worked there.  We reminisced a bit and soon sent the shot of his completed bike.  

Jeffry sent this photo of his MUSA cross bike while he was in New York.  This summer, I'm seeing photos of his bike from his adventure in Alaska - such as the shot below.

Anarchy in AK

Dan sent the two shots below from his off-road adventures somewhere in the coastal Southern California hills.  Where's the orange bike?


Sometimes I get the thought process that went into a customer's build via a superb graphic image.


Mike from Texas liked his cross bike so much, he got a road frame as well.

Bill from Maine built up this beauty of a green cross bike and did something a little extra to make the front Nitto rack fitment better.  Check out his woodworking website.  The boats he makes are beautiful.  www.billthomaswoodworking.com







If you have a picture of your Black Mountain Cycles bike in the wild, send it on in and I'll include it in future posts.  Huge thanks to everyone who has let me set you up with a frame or bike.

(What's playing:  The Rolling Stones Soul Survivor)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WTB

I've had a long standing relationship with Wilderness Trail Bikes.  In the '80s, I was either using parts they designed for other companies or I was using their parts.  About 30 years of using their parts, I'd reckon.  I'm not sure what part or their design I used first - maybe it was the Araya RM20 rim.  I know I started running WTB designed Specialized Ground Control (name contributed by Jacquie Phelan) tires soon after they came out.  I do know that sometime in '87, I installed a set of WTB drop bars on my Salsa with WTB "sausage link" shift adapters for Suntour shifters.  Then it was roller-cam brakes, pumps hidden in seat posts, Grease Guard hubs, toe flips for pedals...  In the '90s and up until 2007, when I was the product manager for Haro, I spec'd a lot of WTB parts on bikes we produced - tires, rims, hubs, seats...and a fair number of the Koski branded parts (seats, stems, bars, seat posts, brakes) WTB was developing for Koski.

One of my favorite all-time tires came out in the late '90s.  Introduced as the Nanoraptor and available only in 26" x 2.1" (imagine one tire size!), it became a favorite of mine because it suited my riding style perfectly.  I like to ride fast and the Nano helped me do that.  When descending, I go as fast as my comfort level allows, but I don't push boundaries nor do I push the bike hard in corners.  The Nano's shallow knobs work perfect with my riding style.  It was only a 2.1, but it was a voluminous 2.1.  Then it became "the" tire when it was launched as a 29" x 2.1" tire in 1999.  

When I started to develop my own cross frames in 2008/9 that would fit 45mm+ tires, I contacted Mark Slate at WTB and told him they needed to do a 700x45 Nano (I still think a 45 would be awesome).  At that time, it was met with a bit less than feigned enthusiasm, but as it turned out these gravel bikes started becoming popular and the demand for 38 - 45 sized tires increased.  Fast forward to 2015 and WTB releases their Nano 40 and became an instant hit.  One of the key factors a tire manufacturer uses to determine if they'll create a new tire is the OEM demand.  In 2009, there was no OEM demand besides my paltry amount.  Today, there is OEM demand and it makes financial sense to produce this tire.  And that's good.

After all this WTB history of mine, I was pretty stoked to hear from Will Ritchie at WTB this spring when he asked if I would be in a photo shoot for the Nano 40.  Will was kind enough to send over a set of ChrisCross i19 TCS rims, Nano 40 TCS tires, and a sweet carbon railed Silverado saddle.  Wheels built, tires, and seat installed, I met with Will and Abner Kingman one late afternoon on a day that saw rain earlier, but the post rain clouds were moving out and there was a good chance of good late day light.  We weren't disappointed as we rolled back and forth on Bolinas Ridge getting shots of the tires, and terrific West Marin views of Black Mountain and Tomales Bay.  





All photos by Albert Kingman.

So, what do I think of these parts?  The ChrisCross i19 rims are a really good choice for folks who want a good affordable ($75), tubeless compatible, rim brake rim.  As a wheel builder, one of the features in the WTB rims I like is their 4D spoke hole drilling that properly angles the nipple to the spoke so undue stress isn't placed on the spoke threads at the spoke/nipple junction.  

The Nano 40 TCS tires seated tubeless on the rims with only a floor pump.  Even after a small sidewall puncture a few weeks ago on a big ride, the rear tire only loses a few psi if the bike sits for several days.  The front, however, would lose almost all the air overnight.  I never really investigated why because it would hold all the air very well during any ride and reinflating was never an issue.  That's changed within the past two days and the front now is holding air like the rear when not used for several days.  I'm running these tires at about 30 psi rear and 29 psi front - give or take a few depending if I'm wearing glasses or not when inflating and trying to see the gauge.  This works perfect on and off-road for my 165 lb. weight, and they also work very well on the road too.

Wheels good.  Silverado seat, uh, not so good.  I generally really like all of WTB's seats.  I've spent years riding their SST saddle from the '90s.  I rode the ProLong seat they designed for Specialized.  I took off a well-worn WTB Rocket V to replace it with the Silverado on my cross bike.  It worked fine for 2-4 hour rides, but it was the 8+ hour ride that did me in.  It just didn't have any flex in the saddle and by the time I hit the 6 hour mark, it felt like it was sitting on an board.  I started thinking about looking for hills to climb so I could get out of the saddle.  The shape was good and if it had more flex in the shell, it might still be on my bike.  It will find a home on a bike I ride for shorter rides.  If I had a full-suspension bike, it would be a good bike for the Silverado.

There you go.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rolled A Big One

As my friend Cameron noted, I "rolled a big one" on Sunday.  I knew it was going to be a big one.  I figured I had all day, so what the heck.  It's rare that I have a day, an all day day, that I didn't really have anything to do that would limit a ride to X hours.  Sunday was the day of the Western Weekend parade in town and that pretty much shuts the town down for several hours.  I used that as an excuse to close the shop and ride.

Part of the inspiration to ride all day came from seeing and reading about rides friends post on the internets.  Hundred mile gravel rides.  Back-country rambles over several days.  And most recently the Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel race won (by 1 second) by area local Yuri Hauswald - click the link to read Yuri's story of the 13 hour survival-fest.  I kept looking at these longer rides and races folks were doing and thinking "I need to get out do that too."   So I plotted a route.  

I had a general idea of where I wanted to ride.  I didn't know, however, how many miles or how much climbing there would be.  I don't ride with a cycle computer, GPS, Strava, or even a watch.  I generally know how long certain routes take based on time of departure and time I finish.  I have, over the past year, started plotting routes on Map My Rides to get an idea of mileage and cumulative climbing elevation to get an idea of how long it will take to ride.  Data points entered for this ride and find it's 72 miles and 8100' of climbing (route link).  Yeah, whatever.  Most rides I do seem to have around 1000' of climbing for every 10 miles, so this was within parameters.  Somewhat within parameters.

The one aspect of longer rides I do worry about is being able to bring enough calories with me to keep me going.  Most of the time, I'm not near a store to buy food if I run out of energy and I can usually bring enough calories in my jersey pockets for a 4 hour ride.  I could have carried all my food in pockets this day too, but I wouldn't have had any room to stash arm/knee warmers once the morning chill wore off or any thing else that I might need/want.  On went a Revelate Tangle frame bag.  Smart storage that's out of the way and still allows me to carry two big bottles on my bike.

Of course with any new addition to your bike, you're going to miss something.  My "miss" was forgetting to throw a pump in the bag.  Since the pump I keep on my cross bike is a full sized frame pump, it didn't easily fit in the bag.  It probably would fit just fine in its normal position with the bag strapped below it, but my plan was to stop at the shop on my way out of town the morning of the ride and throw in a smaller pump while I picked up a couple of Clif Bars.  Got the Clif Bars.  Forgot the pump.  I remembered that I forgot the pump about 5 miles into the ride.  Not going back to get it.  I hardly ever get flats and I was running tubeless and had confidence in their ability to seal punctures (that would be put to the test later).  Continue on.

Bolinas Ridge Trail
This is the spot on Bolinas Ridge where I realized I didn't have my pump.

Tomales Bay and Inverness Ridge from Bolinas Ridge
Looking back to Pt. Reyes Station and Tomales Bay on a fine morning for a bike ride.

Black Mountain from Bolinas Ridge
Black Mountain in the distance.

Bolinas Ridge
The northern half of Bolinas Ridge was dry.  The southern half was soggy, wet, muddy, slippery from the fog rain it continually receives.  This steam coming off a wet patch in the sun caught my eye.

I made it off Bolinas Ridge and on to Ridgecrest where I got a bit caught up in chasing down roadies.  I kept telling myself not to burn out any matches because I had a long way to go, but...they just kept slowing down dramatically on the rises and weren't fast descenders.  Okay, I left a couple matches on Ridgecrest, but I was still feeling good.  Off Ridgecrest and down to the Pantoll Ranger Station to fill bottles before heading down Coastal View Trail into Muir Beach.

Lunch Stop
Trailside lunch spot on Coastal View and the blueberry scone I brought from the Bovine Bakery - that would not have fit in a jersey pocket.

From Muir Beach, I climbed Diaz Ridge Trail.  It's a super fun trail up or down.  It was foggy and cool on Coastal View and on Diaz, but the sun and heat were soon to break out.

Green Gulch Farm
Green Gulch Farm from Diaz Ridge.

Tam from Diaz Ridge
Mt. Tam from the top of Diaz Ridge - soon to be climbing its flanks.

Fog over Miwok Trail
Fog as it spilled over Miwok Trail.

From Diaz Ridge, I took Miwok Trail over to Tennessee Valley and then pedaled on the road into Mill Valley.  By this time, it was getting hot.  I usually only ride with water for hydration.  Today, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up some electrolyte replacement at Tam Bikes on my way to Railroad Grade and the long climb with a lot of southern sun exposure.  That was a wise decision.  It was a slog of a climb, but I knew there was water at the top and I'd stop for a bit to rest my feet which were becoming quite uncomfortable in my 15 year old shoes.

South Marin from Railroad Grade
Southern Marin and San Francisco from Railroad Grade.

I decided to descend Eldridge Grade (not fun on a cross bike - at least the top part) because it was the shortest way to get to Fairfax where I planned to stop for a beer and sandwich at Gestalt Haus.

Eldridge Grade
San Pablo Bay from Eldridge Grade.

By the time I got to Fairfax, I was ready to be done.  After a sandwich and a beer, I pulled my bike down off the hook and the rear tire hit the ground and immediately didn't feel right.  Out on the sidewalk and, yep, it's flat.  Oh well.  Quick spin down to Sunshine Bikes to use their pump, inspect the tire, and make sure it's ok.  There was a small sidewall puncture.  Air in the tire, slosh the sealant around and it sealed right up.  In fact, it's still holding strong today, four days later.

At Sunshine, Cameron was just leaving as I was pulling up.  While he was basically questioning my mental stability for riding down Eldridge on my cross bike, I was calculating how much it would cost me to ask him to give me a ride back to Pt. Reyes Station.  But, that never got verbalized and after some chit-chat, I was back on the bike for the 17 mile road ride back home.

There were a couple of things I learned on this ride.  Mainly, the Silverado seat that WTB floated me for a photo shoot recently was great for up to 3 or 4 hours of saddle time.  Not so great for 8+ hours.  My bony ass couldn't quite find the sweet spot after 6 hours.  I'll be reinstalling the old WTB Rocket V I pulled off.  And my 15 year old Shimano M-180 shoes sucked for pedaling all day.  My feet were a hot mess of pain at the ball and smaller toes.  I have a hard time finding the right shoe because my foot's something like a double A width.  My hands, on the other hand, were fine with a pair of ancient styled, lightly padded, leather and crotchet gloves.

By the time I got home after being on the bike all day, I was glad to be done.  Hurting, tired, and thinking about when I can do it again.

(What's playing:  John Coltrane Countdown)