Sunday, July 29, 2018

Dirty Sheets

I got a bunch of work done on my bike last week and needed to give it a good shake down. I'd just been talking to Glen about the 75 mile Dirty Sheets route that I'd come up with, but never actually ridden, so that sounded like a good idea Saturday morning. I felt like doing it bikepacking style too, so I downloaded maps into my bulk-monster GPS, mounted it on my stem and otherwise prepared for Adventure.

One of the things I'd had done the previous week was swapping the fork. When John upgraded everything he owned to 29 (like 6 years ago) he had two spare 26' Fox forks. Both had been used, rebuilt, and Push'ed. He had no use for them, so he gave them to me. I'd been riding one of them for like 6 years, and it finally gave out last week. It can probably be rebuilt, but in the mean time, I got Glen to throw the other one on. He did, but it still needed to be adjusted. So, I put some air in it, and started fiddling with the compression damping and rebound. Turns out if you turn the rebound knob all the way one way, and one of the damping knobs all the way some other way, they will get locked together. The damping knob gets stuck and while the compression knob will turn, it doesn't do anything. According to John, the solution is to take the cap off of the damping knob and turn the shaft with a pair of pliers, which can give you more grip on it. I figured I'd run by Glen's shop and do it there. If I broke it, I'd leave it with him to fix, and his shop was on the way to the trail.

Turns out, yes, that fixes it, and after hanging out a bit, I was finally on my way. It was 2 hours later than I'd wanted to get started, but I still had plenty of time.

When I got to the parking spot, I changed my pants, got ready to change my shoes, and realized I had my road shoes in the back of the truck. My mountain bike shoes were on the floor in the garage.


Almost exactly 1 hour later I was back in the parking spot, with the correct shoes on, ready to roll out. I still had enough time, maybe, if I didn't mind finishing up in the dark.

The first few miles alternate between pavement and gravel, and run right along the Chattahoochee River, though you can barely see it with all of the brush on the side of the road.

The Hooch

Then you pop out in Campbellton at a bend in the river and Charlie's Store is right across the highway. From there it's more pavement and gravel until you get to Cochran Mill Park.

My chain started skipping somewhere in there, and I kept having to adjust my shifter. Considering that the cable had JUST been replaced, that seemed really strange. I figured maybe it was settling in, but it was so persistent that I finally stopped and examined the cassette. It was super loose, as if the lock ring hadn't been tightened at all. This also seemed really unlikely, considering that Glen has been doing good work for 20+ years, and on my bike, in particular, for at least 15. I suspected that the ring was stripped, but I had no good way to be sure. Fortunately everything was kind-of captured in there, and did actually work, mostly, especially when I was in bigger gears. I was mainly the bottom 3 that were sketchy.

I felt like I had decidedly crossed the border from managing Adversity to "forcing a ride" though, and almost turned back before turning on to the singletrack at Cochran Mill.

I'd been sniffling all morning, and when I started climbing the singletrack, I had zero energy. It wasn't because I was well into the ride either. This was classic for fighting some low-grade illness. I could sit back and grind it out, but I couldn't carry anything, and it was pretty miserable.

A mile from Henry Mill Falls I felt my back tire pinch, and though it didn't go flat immediately, I could feel it getting soft.

I made it to the falls though, and crossed the creek there.

Henry Mill Falls

There was a guy relaxing in the woods on the other side who I didn't see until I was climbing up off of the rock. He was very surprised to see me cross the creek.

A minute later my back tire was too flat to keep riding.

When I pulled the wheel out to fix it, the cassette exploded into all of its various pieces.

Exploded Cassette

I put it back together, got the lock ring finger-tight, swapped tubes, and aired it up. Unfortunately, I didn't get the full 20 oz of CO2 into it, and the tire was still a little soft after fixing it. It wasn't going to get any worse, but that was the last straw for me. Too many problems and not enough value in continuing to push through them. When I got back to the lot, I checked to see if anyone had a floor pump. There were 2 other sets of mountain bikers in the lot, but nobody had one.

On the way back to the truck, the lock ring worked its way loose again, only this time it was 10 times worse. In any of the bottom 3 gears, I couldn't pedal 3 times without the chain skipping. After a few miles, that'll drive you crazy.

When I got home and tried to figure out what the problem was, it became even more mysterious. Neither the lock ring, nor the hub were stripped. If I tightened it down, it would get tight, but if I tightened it too much, it would pop completely loose, without stripping any threads. I can't imagine how that's possible. I half expected the hub to have a crack in, but if there was such a crack, I couldn't find it. I eventually ended up putting on a lock ring from an older cassette, with a wider flange, that would presumably create more friction and hold better, and tightened it until it was "good and tight" but not as tight as I had tried to get the other one.

We'll see... I intended to shake all of that down today, but I got up feeling sick again, and didn't want to force another ride. I'm feeling better this evening, so maybe I can get in some miles tomorrow afternoon.

Fingers crossed.

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