I Can’t Help Myself

I have two road bikes that are fully functional and much nicer than I really need.  I have a cross bike that may not be exactly nice, but if definitely works.  I’ve been complaining to myself that I need to get rid of the cracked and broken bike frames that are collecting dust in my basement and yet despite all this I couldn’t help myself.  I bought another junk frame.

I was thinking about how I would like to seriously test a DIY carbon repair and I just got the idea to type, “broken carbon frame” into ebay.  That search returned no results, but ebay suggested some frames for me.  One of them was a Raleigh R2.5 carbon frame that had been sanded down to the bare carbon and looked like maybe it had been dragged around under a car.  I was immediately intrigued. On further inspection I noticed one of the drop outs said, “Cervelo”  now I was really intrigued.

The Cervelo R2.5 has a terrible reputation.  Apparently a large number of these frames were recalled because the lugged carbon tubes would become unbonded.  The recall effected serial numbers greater then the one listed so I thought maybe it was safe.  Besides the frame the auction also included a Ultegra Crank and 105 front and rear derailleurs.  The opening bid was 40 bucks.  Shipping a bit over 40.  I couldn’t help myself, I bid 40 bucks more as a laugh.

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Well now I have this bike, and the frame is of course cracked.  I’ve never seen a frame shipped like this.  The seller just wrapped it up in foam and bubble wrap then shrink wrapped the whole thing, before finally taping it all up in brown tape.  It would have been much easier and cheaper to put it in a box.  It took 15 minutes of cutting to get it out of the cocoon.

It didn’t take me long to find a crack.  It took a slight squeeze on the rear drop outs to hear the sound of crackling carbon and about 5 seconds to see the big crack on the seatstay.  The auction was “as is” but the seller didn’t indicate the frame was cracked, honestly though I wasn’t the least bit mad, in fact I was kind of happy, this would give me some carbon to repair.

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First I took a dremel tool and ground out the material around the crack down to about one layer of carbon.  Then I sanded alot, I sanded down around two inches in both directions from the crack.  Next I cut about 4 pieces of carbon each one about half an inch smaller.

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I cleaned everything up with alcohol then I mixed up a big puddle of epoxy and smeared it all over the frame.  With plastic gloves I began laying up the carbon patches and smearing them good with epoxy.  Once completed I wrapped the entire area up  as tightly as possible in electrical tape.

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It looks terrible, but it’s very strong and doesn’t crackle anymore when squeezed.  When I sand it down it will not match the original weave pattern since my carbon is not weaved, but who cares.

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Honestly I won’t be confident riding this bike if I ever get around to building it up, especially anywhere hilly.  I won’t be that worried about the seatstay I repaired, if it breaks it will be at the edges of my fix and I think it will crack, but I wouldn’t want to risk it on a 30 mph downhill.  I’ll probably build it up and ride it around slow on the rail trail and look really closely for cracks.

What I’m really excited about it painting it up all crazy modern art style like Dario Pegoretti does.

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Finding Some Form

Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding 47 hilly miles with my pal Ryan.  This is awesome because here in the Heartland we’ve been dealing with rain almost every day.  This weekend is sunny and warm.  Well kind of warm.  It was about 50 degrees when I met Ryan in Eddyville.

I got out of the van wearing full legwarmers, a long sleeve undershirt, a wool jersey, and a vest.  Ryan was standing there with a shorts and short sleeves.  I had checked the weather before I left, 50s for the first hour or so, and the high was only 62, oh and it was spitting rain, though that was expected to clear up.

“Umm, Dude, are you cold?”  I asked.

“Yeah but it’s going to warm up quick,”  he replied.  We took the Eddyville blacktop towards Golconda, one of my favorite stretches of road in Southern Illinois.  It’s hilly, twisty, and out in the woods.  I thought back to last year when I was touring and tried to ride this road but was turned away because of a deadly shootout taking place between SWAT teams and a armed fugitive.

The route started with a massive downhill and I was instantly cold, even with all my wool.  I’m sure Ryan was freezing.  Of course the downhill is followed by a massive climb which Ryan attacked like he was going for a mountain top finish line. He was nice enough to wait a few minutes at the top of the climb.  I found 160 beats per minute and kept it there.  A few weeks ago I was having trouble riding at 160 bpm but even in this early stage of the ride I was feeling OK with that effort.

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I hit  50.8 on the Flick Hill downhill, which I’ve been told is one of the fastest downhills in Shawnee, it’s got the perfect combination of steepness, length and road quality to hit high speeds.  We decided to ride a couple miles out of the way down to Golconda to see the river, which made for a nice spot to hang out and take a break.

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We continued on 146 to route 34 and rode it to Herod.  Ryan basically pulled this entire time at a very rapid pace.  The section of road is constant rolling hills which were not enough to dislodge me.  Any time I went to the font to pull he would drift back because he doesn’t like to draft so I just hung on to his wheel and made the most of it.  We covered the 10 miles in seemingly no time.  By this point my clothing choices were proving far warmer then I needed, but Ryan was nice enough to carry my vest and leg warmers in his huge saddle bag.

At Herod we turned to face out greatest challenge of the ride, Williams Hill.  Last time I had climbed Williams Hill I felt horrible, I couldn’t seem to get my heart rate up.  Today I was feeling great.  Of course Ryan rode away from me early, but I don’t think he’s used to hills this long, not to mention he just pulled the last ten miles.  I was slowly closing back in on him.

Recent storms had littered the road with limbs and sticks, and I tried to ride around them as best as I could.  I started thinking how funny it would be if I rode over a stick and crashed.  About that time I bumped over a big stick and heard a “clunk”  my camera had bounced out of my pocket.  I probably lost a minute stopping to pick it up and make sure it stilled worked, as well as zipping up my jersey pocket.  About two thirds of the way up I caught up to Ryan, he was standing by his bike with it’s chain off.

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It would be prudent to tell you a bit about Ryan’s bike.  It’s a classic Italian steel Basso, with Campagnolo components.  Every part of it gleams and its one of the best looking bikes I’ve seen.  It’s a classic ten speed which means it’s lowest gear is about in the middle of my cassette, and of course this is well before computer designed cogs.

I went by him and feeling even stronger and upped my pace a bit more.  Soon I was seeing 180 beats per minute, which I haven’t seen in a long time.  I was swallowing air as fast as possible and even though my lungs and legs were burning I was feeling great.

Perhaps the running I’ve been doing has helped, or maybe it’s just accumulated fitness of the last few weeks of strong rides.  Maybe I was just feeling good?  We finished up the ride on Route 145 and again Ryan pulled most of the next 5 miles.  I’ve been riding with Ryan nearly every weekend and it’s definitely upped my game, because I won’t ride anywhere near as hard by myself.

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Matt’s Jogging Log

After a dismal showing at the first time trial of the year I decided to mix things up a bit and start jogging again.  Haven’t jogged in a couple years.  Here’s my log so far.

Friday 4/21
1.2 miles 19 minutes.  15.8
It’s late, long day at work, it’s dark.  It’s kind of cool and windy.  Put on my hiking shoes and leave my front door.  Jog for a few minutes.  Feet feel like they are being pounded by sledgehammers.  Heart rate at 150.  Must stop.  Walk for a while.  Jog some more.  This sucks, why the hell am I doing this.

Saturday  4/22
2.5 miles in 41 minutes. 16.4
It’s raining.  I put on my jacket and drive to rail trail.  God this sucks.  I try to do a few minutes of jogging with a few minutes of walking.  Mostly just walking at the end.

The next morning I wake up with extremely sore ankles and certain muscles in my leg that are stretched way out of shape.  Ride a 60 mile killer gravel route and have the time of my life.  Riding is 1000x times better than jogging. 

Tuesday 4/25
1.9 miles in 30 minutes 15.8
Shauna and I go for a walk on rail trail.  I jog, run into Elam on his bike.  Am very jealous.  He follows and talks to me while I try to talk back while sucking in liters of air.  Running sucks.  Feet still hurt, but new running shoes feel much better than hiking boots.

Thus 4/27
2.6 miles in 41 minutes 15.8
Well its 60 degrees, guess I’ll run again.  Leave from house.  Concrete sidewalks are hard.  Jog the first mile straight thanks to a powerwalking girl up ahead that I wanted to try and catch.  Mission accomplished.  Time to walk.

 

 

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Repairing Aluminum Frame With Carbon

Back in early 2014 I fixed a crack in my Ksyrium Elite rear wheel by wrapping it in carbon.  3 years later I still ride those wheels and probably have put at least a couple thousand on them though they are currently on my spare bike.  The repair shows no signs of failure yet.

Repairing Aluminum with Carbon Fiber

Aluminum Wheel Repair with Carbon

A while back I was riding my JAKE THE SNAKE, and I could hear some strange klunky noises on big bumps.  After the ride I saw that the seat tube had cracked.  Actually the seat tube has had a tiny crack in it since I bought the frame on ebay.  The frame has a small dent and in the middle of the dent was a tiny little crack.  I rode it for 3 years like that.

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Since I was riding gravel Sunday morning I decided to attempt a carbon wrap around the tube.  I didn’t waste time trying to carefully remove the paint.  I just ground it off haphazardly.  Next I drilled holes in the ends of the crack which now wrapped around the tube.

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I treated the frame with aluminum treatment so epoxy would stick and I haphazardly begin wrapping epoxy smeared carbon around the frame.  Once I’d wrapped it twice I wrapped the whole section tightly in electrical tape to flatten and squish out the epoxy.  The next morning I rode the bike on 60 miles of intense gravel hills.  It seems fine.

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The center of a seat tube on a bike is very low stress.  right…

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Not Performing Well

I rode the first Time Trail of the Little Egypt Time Trial Series the other night.  It did not go well for me.  I was unable to get my heart rate up and attempting to force it made me feel like my left arm was going to squeeze off.  Riding this Spring has not exactly been going well and I’m sort of at a loss for what is wrong.

More and more often I feel incredibly weak at the beginning of exercise, almost as if my body is trying to convince me to quit.  My heart rate is not really that high, and when I try to raise it I get this tight feeling in my left arm like there is a tourniquet around it.  If I work into exercise slowly and warm up well then it’s less likely.

Thursday night I went into the time trial with no warm up.  In less than a minute seconds Moe, who had started probably 20 seconds behind me, blew by like I was standing still.  After a few miles when I hit honker hill I quickly found myself in the lowest gear just struggling to keep the bike moving.  On the return leg my body was screaming at me to stop and get off the bike, and I was unable to really do more then just ride at tempo.

The data from the ride is telling.

spillway comparison

My maximum heart rate for this attempt is lower than last year’s average heart rate.  It looks like I wasn’t even trying and to be honest when I finished I really didn’t feel like I had, even though I was trying to get my heart rate up and was unable to.

If this was an isolated incident than I wouldn’t be all that worried, but it seems like far to many of my rides have been like this.  I just have felt like crap.

Thanks to Strava some obvious answers present themselves.   Just looking through my rides in the last year I have ridden one 76 miler almost a year ago, and one 60 mile ride 8 months ago.  In the last 8 months I’ve ridden only a handful of rides that go over 40.  Besides the lack of miles I have far less hours of activity, very few walks, no runs, just really a whole bunch of 30 minute rides on the trainer where I may have worked hard for 5 minutes here or there.

In short I suck.  I’m out of shape.  I’m chronically dehydrated and not getting enough sleep.  Or I have congestive heart failure, which I kind of doubt.

I’m planning on riding this course again next week and see what happens.

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Brown County and Nashville Indiana

Shauna and I weren’t able to do our normal routine of a trip to the Smokey Mountains for Spring Break this year, but we were able to get away for a few days to Brown County Indiana.  The ideal trip for us is a place where I can get in a nice bike ride and Shauna can shop and look at  stuff, and we can get a scenic hike in. Eli told me that Nashville Indiana was the shopping capital of the region and that he guaranteed she would like it.  Of course for me Brown County State Park has the best network of mountain bike trails in the lower Midwest.  When  I told Shauna my idea she was a bit skeptical at first, but when I started reading off the names of the some of the stores, like Sweatea’s Tea Shop, and The Crystal Sources Rock Shop she was all in.

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Matt contemplates fire.

 

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Boiling eggs for breakfast

Getting to the Bloomington area from the South used to be a bit of a hassle and required driving two lanes through towns.  Now interstate 69 from Evansville makes the trip way faster.  We were there in just a bit over 3 hours.  To save some money we stayed at Yellowood State Forest.  Indiana State Parks are nice, but have expensive entry fees for out of state visitors, Yellowood State Forest was free to enter and 13 dollars to camp.  We had a great night camping and a great hike on the well maintained trails.  I got to play with my MSR stove which is always fun.

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The next day Shauna dropped me off at Hestitation Point Cycles which is less than a mile from the Brown County Trailhead, this saved me from paying to drive into the park.  The guys at the shop have no problems with people parking there to ride and they have all kinds of stuff that you might need.

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Recent rain meant this was the wettest I’d ever ridden Brown County, which doesn’t mean much since I’ve only ridden it three times.  99.9% of the trails were dry with just some wet spots here and there.  The Trails at Brown County are like a dream, they flow, and flow and flow.  I was just riding at a casual pace and taking everything in and covered nine miles in an hour.  I had told Shauna I would be back in 3 hours but it was nearly 5 hours, I was in trance.

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A standout trail that I have to mention is Bobcat, which I hadn’t ridden before.  It is handbuilt and has some super narrow benchcut.  It drops way down into a steep hollow and just clings to the edge in places.  It requires you to stay 100% focused or bad things will happen.

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Back in Nashville Shauna was having a great time checking out all the stores, despite going to the State Park which is only 2 miles away I’d never actually been to Nashville.  There were tons of shops and things to look at. It wasn’t that busy, but it wasn’t dead either.  We stayed right downtown at a little cabin which was super nice and cheaper than most hotel rooms I’ve stayed.  The owner said the president of Trek Bikes had stayed there once.  Another highlight was Big Woods Pizza and Brewing Company.  It is right across the street from where we stayed and offers some of the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had.

So in conclusion we highly recommend Nashville Indiana, Yellowood State Forest, and Brown County State Park for a fun getaway!  There’s something for everyone.

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New Bike Day

Yeah, I should say, New to Me Bike Day, see awhile back Luke gave me his Scott Scale frame because he didn’t have room for it and last time he tried to sell one of his bikes the prospective buyer gave him a hard time about it’s condition, “Did you tie this bike to your bumper and drag it to the trailhead.”

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See in the Shawnee bikes are for riding, not polishing and looking at, and when you ride a bike in the Shawnee everyone knows it.  This Scott frame is in excellent shape for a Shawnee bike, Luke really took care of it.  It had only minor paint damage and the fork is very smooth, yeah that’s right, I got a fork too!  Even cooler this is the bike he did the Tour Divide on, it’s a collector’s item!

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I built the frame up as a 1×9 this morning, with a selection of parts that were also given to me by Luke, Eli or Snake.  I did buy the crank from ebay, but that’s it.  I don’t know what it weighs but it was definitely easier to hang on my rack.  There are very few things as exciting as taking a new bike you just built up on it’s maiden voyage.  It’s important to have a multi tool and be prepared for bolts you forgot to finish tightening.

I took it out to Gossage this evening and rode some trails.  The smaller bike felt much more nimble than the larger heavier SCUD, and the suspension fork was a welcome relief to my hands, besides that it made going downhill much more fun.  After about 8 miles of trails I took the bike on some gravels and eventually blasted back on the highway so I could make a bigger loop and avoid doubling back.

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I should also mention that my assumption last week about Strava’s fittness numbers proved true.  By riding mild 30 minute trainer rides I was able to keep my fitness level up while at the same recovering fatigue.  My current fitness is 51, just a 1 point gain from last week, but my current form is up 30 points to 26.

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