Friday, October 3, 2014

Keepin' Busy

Another two months have zoomed by, and summer has turned into fall.  Looking back it seems that I was both extremely busy and missing out on doing a lot of stuff I wanted to do.

I have been doing a bit of extra work, and while it hasn't taken up huge chunks of time it has pared down the amount of free time that I have available.  Of course there is a flip side to having extra work and that is having some extra money.  Some of it went for a new GoPro Hero, and a bit more went for fixing up my bike a bit.  The GoPro ( a Hero White) is a huge improvement over my old GoPro, which was one of the early non-HD versions.  This new one takes great video and photos, and even has decent sound.  I'm still figuring out what to do with it, but I'm betting that I'll get in at least one mtb and one kayak video before fall is over.

As far as the improvements on the bike, I need to step back in time a bit to get the whole story.  My wife bought me a new bike for Christmas a couple of years ago - a very nice Gary Fisher Mullet.  This thing is a heavy duty ride, perfect for a guy who likes to ride a lot and doesn't baby his gear.

Me with my Mullet at West Branch State Park.
I used the bike pretty heavily for a couple of years, putting on lots of singletrack miles as well as hundreds, probably thousands, of pavement miles.  And it served me well - only a couple of broken rear derailleurs in over two years. I took that bike on rides all across Ohio and western Pennsylvania - West Branch, Beaver Creek, Moraine, Kennerdell, Quail Hollow, Bavington, Royalview, Findlay, Hogback Ridge, Allegheny National Forest, and I'm sure others that escape my memory right now.

The week before vacation, in early June, I took it to my local bike shop, Thumm's, for some work on my rear brake cable (more on this problem later).  I'd also noticed some weird noises coming from the area of the front derailleur, and asked them to take a look.  I got a call the next day saying that the frame was broken right under the front derailleur clamp - terrible news.

When I got down to the shop to check it out I couldn't believe my eyes.  The post was broken the entire way around, with small chunks missing.  The fact that it was concealed totally by the front derailleur clamp was puzzling, but the fact that I was able to ride it with a break that bad was amazing.  More on this later as well...

I was surprised to find out that the bike was still under warranty. Then the owner of the bike shop told me that he'd been on the phone to Trek and they'd be sending a replacement out in time for me to have it for vacation!  I could hardly believe my luck - things like that just don't happen to me.  But, alas, a snag - when the owner at Thumm's had talked to Trek they hadn't clarified exactly what was being sent as a replacement.  Thumm's believed it was a whole new bike, but Trek was talking about only sending out a replacement frame.  That would be a problem, as it would take a while to build up  the new frame, and I was leaving within a couple of days.

Then Augie, the owner of the shop said not to worry - I was a valued customer and he'd make it right.  He kept the replacement frame for a shop build, and gave me a brand new Gary Fisher Marlin off of the floor so that I'd have a bike for vacation.  Another amazing happening - a small businessman taking care of his customer with the cost coming out of his pocket.  The new bike isn't quite as good as the Mullet was when it was new, but it's still a heck of a bike and I'm loving it.

So when Trek agreed to warranty the frame they wanted to make sure that the old frame was actually not going to be used any longer.  They could have paid for the shipping to have it returned, but instead the bike shop just took a video of me sawing the frame in half and sent it to Trek.  Pretty good evidence I'd say.  Notice the break on the bottom of the seat post.  And I got to keep the two halves of the frame, and all attached parts.

The end of the Mullet

Some of the extra money from doing the side job I've been working on went to upgrade the Marlin a bit.  I switched over the better wheels from the Mullet, as well as the disc brakes.  Now the bike stops on a dime.  And I had them add a rear rack, so that I can carry my chain saw for doing trail work.

I also asked them if they could do something about my rear brake cable.  In the two months I'd been riding the new Marlin I'd noticed a recurrence of a problem that I'd had on the Mullet - the rusty rear brake cable.  The cables are partially exposed on both bikes, and run below the top tube of the bike, where they go back into the cable sleeves to head to their respective destinations.  That leaves a tiny opening for moisture to get into the ends of the cable sleeves and cause mischief.

This probably wouldn't be a problem for 99.9% of people but for me it was.  That is because I 'perspire freely' - that is I sweat like a lawn sprinkler when I exert myself.  And with the opening of that cable sleeve directly in the drip line I was constantly introducing salt water to the cable as well as the sleeve end.  Within a month of getting the new Marlin I was experiencing the same problem - the cable was rusting and binding inside the sleeve, so the rear brakes were working poorly.

On the Mullet I'd had the sleeve replaced and put in a teflon coated cable to help avoid the problem.  And I upped the maintenance of this area in an effort to keep things working smoothly.  But on the Marlin I wanted to eliminate this problem once and for all.  So the shop put on a one-piece sleeve that covers the cable from the handle bars all the way back to the rear brakes.  Problem solved!

My Marlin with new wheels, disc brakes and rack.
But this leaves a question unanswered - why did the frame on the Mullet break so badly?  Augie said that in his over 30 years of selling bikes he'd never seen a frame break like that.  Everyone that looked at it was puzzled over what could have caused such a failure - but I have a theory.  Galvanic corrosion.  Yup, the process where two different types of metal are in contact with each other and form a weak galvanic current, which takes metal from one side and deposits it on the other.  The frame is aluminum and the derailleur clamp is steel - two metals that can cause galvanic action when in contact.  And from what I've read the presence of salt water (or sweat!) acts as an electrolyte and accelerates the corrosion.  And all that sweat just runs down the top tube, then down the seat tube to the derailleur clamp.  Amazing.  I'll be rinsing off the new bike with warm soapy water after every ride in order to keep this from happening again.

As far as outdoors adventures go, things changed from the first half of the summer.  The pattern of weather that brought rain to us every three days has changed, and although we aren't dry by any means there is enough time between rains for the trails to dry out some.  Of course that means the creeks are too low for kayaking, but I'll take what I can get.  I've been able to get in several rides on my local trails at West Branch State Park, plus some rides over at Moraine in Pennsylvania.  Add to that a bunch of rail trail riding, several trail work days, and a camping expedition in the rain with Diana and things start to look a little busier.

Diana braving the mist at Seneca Point overlook in Cooks Forest, PA.
My brother and I even got out for a mountain bike overnighter down at Mountwood Park, outside Parkersburg, West Virginia.  This is an incredibly well developed county park, that features camping and mountain bike trails.  The main campground is a mile away from the trails, but we thought we'd try to get one of the seven primitive lakeside camping spaces if we could.  Turns out that no one else camped down by the lake while we were there, so we had a sensational campsite right near the trails, with no noisy neighbors.

The morning view from our campsite at Mountwood Park, WV.
The trails were really nice as well. There are a bunch of different sections,with a fairly wide variety of difficulty.  There are a bunch of hills, so there were definitely long sections of hike a bike for me, but balancing that off with the nice flowy parts, the tech sections, and the lightning fast downhills provided us with some great riding.  This place is just over three hours away, which is close enough to guarantee that I'll be back.

Two tortoises that were hanging out right on the trail at Mountwood Park, WV.

Boardwalk trail at a fern gully in Mountwood Park.
There have been lots of other adventures as well since my last post.  The Oxroast Car Show over Labor Day weekend was really good this year.  There was an excellent spread of cars and motorcycles there, varying from antique restorations to muscle cars to rat rods.  I look forward to this show every year and I certainly wasn't disappointed this year.

A Packard hot rod.
The fall colors are starting to really show now - my favorite time of the year.  I'm hoping the weather will cooperate enough that I can get in some nice singletrack rides, a couple of kayak trips, and at least one more camping trip with Diana.  There's a lot to do before winter gets here and the snow flies!

Western Reserve Greenway in Ashtabula County.

No comments:

Post a Comment