Reflection, Reparation, Repentation, Rejuvination, and Recreation

Reflection, Reparation, Repentation, Rejuvination, and Recreation
My 2013 Transition TransAm 29

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

You got what stuck in where?

don't let this happen...
Some of you may remember my saga of last winter involving my seatpost getting stuck inside of the seattube of my cherished Redline D460. Not just any seatpost but my Cane Creek Thudbuster. It seems that maybe in my lust for my newfound love, my Transition TransAm 29er, I  was neglecting simple maintenance on the Redline ( I guess I should come up with pet names for my bikes, that would make typing easier, but I'd have to think too hard about that... Ok how about Tranny and RL...?)  Maybe I'll insert a link to that story but I'm sure you could find it to the right abit*.
Anyways, it must be that time of year again. The Thudbuster that I bought for the Tranny was stuck when I went to check it. Now, you understand, I do check my seatposts for this problem every 3-4 weeks. Yep, seatposts.. All of them. My prized Ted Wojcik ( ok, Teddy), my Gary Fisher HKll, Panasonic Mountain Cat from 1988, the wife's Miyata of the same vintage, and the Schwinn 3speed Speedster from my paperboy days. And various other bikes that may be lying around. I even encourage Stephen to check his Stolen Cherry ( yep thats the brand name ) BMX 'whip'....
NONE of them has EVER had an issue with a stuck seatpost.
So, imagine my horror when this happened again to the Tranny. Last year, I pulled and pulled and twisted and it finally broke free. This time, it wouldn't budge. Initially, that is. So I wrapped a cloth towel around the seattube just below the collar and gave the 'post some penetrating oil, and let it sit for a few hours.
Tried pulling, twisting, banging with a mallet, swearing at it. Nothing.

So I laid my Tranny down ( perverts! My bike! ) first with the drive side up, on the rubber mat surface that I have in my cave. Pedal and handlebar firmly planted, I stood up half-naked on the seattube and downtube in my bare feet, swearing abit, and twisted. Flipped my Tranny over and tried the drive side down, taking care not to have the derailleur touching the ground. Same position, twisting, hoping not to damage the seatpost or the rails, FINALLY!! Abit of a twist! Other side again, again, until I could twist it all around in there. Then I stood my Tranny up and got behind and PULLED and PULLED and PULLED and TWISTED  again, with enough back and forth motion, until finally it popped out.
After a quick cigarette and some quiet reflection, I began to wonder-- WHY, WHY, WHY?? ( just kidding--cigs are nasty, kids )
Examining the shaft and wiping off some brown stuff (rust, kids) I rubbed it until it was clean and dry. I flipped the Tranny upside down to make sure there wasnt any water in there....I then inserted a towel into the seattube and twisted it all the way in and about until it was dry.
Then, after lusting again over the beautiful Transition Bikes paint job, and really looking at WHY the seatpost got stuck a second time, I began to look at the lines of the seattube. It occurred to me that, unlike my older bikes, the tube wasn't exactly straight, but  designed to be slightly bent, in order to make the tire fit and stuff. I checked with a straightedge, Viola! It makes that turn just at the bottom of the weld with the top tube......Very slight, but bent just enough....there's even abit of corrosion-like scaling on the 'post where the seattube, not being snug with the 'post, allowed air and moisture to start doing its thing with the unpainted interior of the 'tube
So, the first thing that comes to mind is to simply hack off the last 3 inches of post that I will NEVER use. I say hack, but I will carefully slice with my steertube jig, and then file/sand the rough edges until buttery. Then lube it up nicely and slide it in.
Ask me in about 3 weeks how easy my 'post comes out. Or didn't.

( *note: since I wrote this I looked for an article I may have written about the Redline post removal. I guess I never actually wrote that story but referred to it in Stuck Again? )

Friday, November 7, 2014

Le Buzz de Winter

(This is an older article that I had published in the FoBH rag--just stumbled across it and thought it was time, again...)

Winter Buzz

When the temps go low and the ground gets slippery and/or snow-covered, I put my mountain bike away….generally this means I while away  January and February on my indoor windtrainer trying not to be bored… The windtrainer is a contraption that allows me to turn my bike into a stationary bike. If I keep up the regimen a few days a week, I’m feeling pretty good come spring and ready to bust out of the cabin full speed ahead….

But it IS boring. And many of those days are glorious sun-shining winter days, bringing back memories of when I used to try to ride all year-round, when  I was younger. Ironically, and finally(!)the new Blue Hills  Resource Management Plan in place now allows mountain biking year-round in the Blue Hills, with the exception of the March ‘mud season’.

The past few winters I’ve discovered snowshoeing. I would say re-discovered, as I did start a collection of old-school wooden rawhide-laced snowshoes back in my early 20’s while living in Vermont. But those old-school ‘shoes needed lots of care and the leather straps generally didn’t last more than a couple of years, before crumbling away…. The last time I used my old Canadian ‘shoes, I used old bicycle tubes as bindings, to hold them on to my boots. They worked, but were cumbersome, and in most situations, the 42” length was way overkill.

As the snowshoe companies moved into the modern age, some of my friends were bragging about their new, lightweight designs that were easy to put on and didn’t fall off after every 100 feet down the trail…So I went shopping. I found the selections at my local ‘outdoors’ store varied enough—and all seemed well-made….

That was 3 years ago. Now, I own two pairs of modern snowshoes that will take me just about anywhere I want to go. Trail or no trail, the built-in crampons bite into the slippery stuff. They are light enough to strap onto my hydration pak if I find I don’t need them.

As I began to enjoy the slower pace of winter-hiking, I fine-tuned what I needed for clothing layers. Most of my bike stuff works fine for moisture-management, and an on colder days, extra outside layer gives me a place for the camera, cell phone, GPS, and snacks.

I also discovered Micro-Spikes, an ingenious invention that stretches over any boot and gives instant traction on ice with ½” stainless-steel spikes. These also pack small and light, I now consider a necessity on almost every winter hike, when snowshoes aren’t needed. Good insurance against falling on cold hard ground….

Oh yeah, and the most important thing to take care of is my feet. I wear a pair of insulated winter boots, with toe warmers. You need to keep your feet happy!

Now that I’m prepared for winter actually I look forward to it. As much as I love my mountain bike, I find that I can create a similar workout in about the same time, hiking with snowshoes or Micros.

 On a typical winter day, I can hike any of the Skyline Trail. Climbing is the most fun, and the Blue Hills vistas are always worth the effort. Rattlesnake Hill is challenging on a dry day, even more so in the snow… Deeper snow even better, to cover up the rocks and roots and allow for some ‘flotation’.

One of my favorite snow-hiking areas is Tucker Hill. Athol Path, and/or the Green Loop, mixed up with following deer tracks, it’s a good workout and gets me out there for at least 1.5 hours.

Another of my favorites is to try to follow old heritage trails such as the Great Dome Trail, which was officially taken off the DCR map a few years ago. Some un-named sections still exist, but you really need an old map to find it in its entirety. I usually don’t promote off-trail use, but when there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground,  it can’t hurt….

When there’s less snow down here, Gunstock or Cranmore areas have some great climbs…

I found myself so enthralled with winter trail use that I started a facebook page, Winter Buzz. Look it up and catch the Buzz!


By the time you read this, with luck we’ll be knee-deep in the white stuff. If not, it’s back to the mountain bike(yippee!) or windtrainer….

Steve Cobble



Thursday, October 23, 2014

NEMBA's official statement on the subject of E-Bikes

NEMBA's official statement on the subject of E-Bikes

E-Bike, Schmee-Bike!!

(Following is my current response to questions asked of me on my knowledge/feelings/actions I know/have/have done about their recent appearances on local trails.)
I haven't heard much about them, yet. I haven't even seen one in real life, yet....I can only imagine that since they are not solely 'human-powered' that they would not be classified as bicycles.....and would have to adhere to the rules and laws regarding motorbikes. I'm sure there's way too much grey area there for the DCR lawmen and other land managers to interpret yet, it's still early in the game. We on the other hand, know exactly what they are. My gut feeling is that the bike industry as a whole will have to move on this, and not support any e-bike designer, manufacturer or distributor. And/or they will have to paint very distinct lines between us and them. For instance, sure, make them ROAD-worthy and subject to road laws regarding motorized. And sell them for that purpose. I don't have a problem with that, if people really want to compete with cars and trucks--they may actually promote more awareness on the road and inspire more bike lanes. NOT that I would want that either, as a sometimes road biker and as I am pedaling to the trailhead.... It's a tough call. And of course, fueled by the uncontrolled tsunami of cheap electrics and clones from China bent on taking down all legitimately built, safe, UL-listed electric products that support OUR economy....
That's all I've got right now.
Steve Cobble