Monday, August 28, 2006

Specifications changed without notice

For the x60 generation of cassettes, Shimano cut the notches for the final gear shallower and terminate the cut at a right angle instead of beveling them. This can be observed in the picture above. Note that the notches are cut deeper, and the terminations are beveled, in the x50 series gear on the right.

The change do not affect users of Shimano rear hubs. However, other hub (DT, Chris King, Ringlè) users quickly discover that their cassettes remain loose no matter how much they torque down the lock ring.

The remedies are:

1.) Purchase either a 0.5mm spacer from Chris King or a 0.3mm (preferable) spacer from Wheels Manufacturing, Inc. The spacer will go on first, and then the cassette is installed. You will know if the spacer is too thick: the chain will rub on the seat stays in the smallest gear no matter how much you adjust your derailleur.

2.) Fabricate a spacer with tin snips from a soft drink can.

3.) Substitute the gear with one from the previous generation. I.e. a x50 series cassette.

4.) Very carefully file down the splines on the freehub. If you have nerves of steel, you may use a dremel. Of course, it goes without saying that this option is only viable if the freehub body is made of aluminum.

It is worth nothing that some riders who chose option 1) or 2) obtained a Chris King cassette lock ring. The Chris King lock ring has more threads of engagement than Shimano's. Sometimes the spacer can reduce the threads of engagement so much that the lock ring will strip before the specified torque (40 Nm) is achieved.

I used a combination of 3) and 4) for my Ringlé rear hub.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I am seriously contemplating removing the hair on my legs. As I am neither partial towards shaving (it would leave stubble, which would catch on my tights), nor waxing (hot dripping wax. Umm... S&M not in to I am.), I am probably going the route of depilatories.

Why shave / wax the legs?

1.) Cycling tights, knee and leg warmers are easier to don and doff.

2.) Less mud and horse crap cling to your legs when mountain biking.

3.) When you crash while road biking, the road rash is less severe as there are no hairs to catch on the asphalt and rip patches of skin off.

4.) Wounds are easier to clean, keep clean, and heal faster (no hairs in the way).

5.) Removal of bandages is less painful as there are no hairs to yank off.

6.) For long rides, the hairs on your legs increase aerodynamic drag (though it is miniscule).

7.) Bare legs feel cooler during warm weather as there is no hair to impede passing airflow.

8.) With no hairs to get yanked or pulled, it is easier to massage the legs after hard rides.

9.) Without hair, sunblock, insect repellent, deep heat pain-relieving creams go a long way.

Homophobes and men insecure about their sexual identities / preferences should hold their tongues with regard to this post. If hair follicles are the defining mark of masculinity, then Sasquatch and Chewbacca the Wookie must be history's epitomes of the alpha male.

Interesting poll here.

Picked this up tonight.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fog & Night

Went for a night ride at the Marin Headlands.

Barry Baker Tunnel.

View from the top of Hawk Hill (920 ft): the Golden Gate Bridge partially lost in fog. (In the day.)

It was dark. Wind gusts occasionally knocked me sideways. My bar ends were slick from condensation. The whistling wind, lonely and grateful for company, played counterpoint to my ragged breathing as I climbed into the night.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Black Mountain Dawn Ride

Why there are perks to bouncing out of bed at 4 in the morning:


Looking back at final climb up to the summit.

Close up.

A peak at dawn while climbing up.

Waiting (and listening to the whispering wind).

Sunrise at 2800 ft (853.7 m).

The first rays of the sun hitting the summit rocks of Black Mountain.

Close up.

Solitude at dawn.

And the open trail...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


'Got round to replacing the handlebar bent from the Bolinas Ridge Trail Ride II crash:

The casualty: X-Lite's 540 titanium handlebar, 3 degree sweep. No, it's not "Mad in England." The "e" rubbed off over the years :-P

Red circle denotes the bulge when the bar bent.

The replacement: a Litespeed titanium handlebar.

The Litespeed handlebar is 2 inches (5.08 cm) wider than the X-lite bar. While I appreciate the added room in the cockpit (for more lights, gizmos, etc.), I wonder if it will increase the risk of hooking hanging vines, branches and bushes on tight singletrack.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bolinas Ridge Trail Ride II

Bolinas Ridge Fire Road in summer. Refer to the first ride report for more comprehensive trail directions.

Map and route of Bolinas Ridge Trail. 250 track points laid by the GPS unit.

TOPO!'s elevation profile.

Trailhead by Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Frankly, I prefer it when the grass is green in winter.

The 1st climb.

Looking back just before the 1st cattle gate. Mount Vision to the left. The body of water is Tomales Bay.

First posted sign: follow the main trail uphill to the right. I think the peak ahead is Mount Barnabe (1466 ft) in Samuel Taylor State Park.

2nd climb.

A rider on his way down.

2nd cattle gate.

Elevation 1080 ft. Looking back.

Wider view.

Just before entering the forest. Met another biker here, Jeff. We rode together until the end of the trail from here.

Amid the redwoods. What it looks like when there's fog.

Taking a break.

Leaving the forest. Here's Jeff.


Elevation 1500 ft. Southern trailhead of Bolinas Fire Road. It intersects Bolinas - Fairfax Road at its highest point. The northern end of West Ridgecrest Boulevard also accesses this trailhead.

Here, we parted ways: Jeff had a long way to ride back to his vehicle at Azalea Hill parking lot, while I am to double back the way I came.

Elevation 1604 ft. Looking west at Bolinas, Bolinas Lagoon, and the Pacific Ocean.

Pine Mountain Ridge. In the canyon between the two ridges (I'm standing on Bolinas Ridge) lies Kent Lake.

Closer view. What Bolinas Ridge looks like from Frisbee Knoll.

Close up of Pine Mountain. A view of Bolinas Ridge from the top of Pine Mountain.

Back in the forest.

The climbs that tormented earlier now become fun descents, with roots serving as launching pads.

A trio of hikers were walking their Great Dane puppies in the forest. Both dogs are only 9.5 months old. They do not reach their full size until they reach 2 years of age. I just love dogs :-)

Leaving the forest.

Back on open grassland.

The cows have been let out to pasture.

Closer look.

Continuing the descent. The peak to the right is Black Mountain (1280 ft).

A wider view.

Final descent towards Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (left of the middle).

Before this, I had a spectacular crash on the way down. I was pursuing another biker when my front wheel went into a hole. The guy in front of me, having 100mm of travel in front, and 80mm in the rear, barely made it. My vintage bike, with 63mm of travel in front, didn't have a prayer. The next thing I knew, I was vaulted over the front handlebars as my bike performed an endo. There wasn't even enough time to touch my brakes or unclip from my pedals. I only had time to instinctively retract my arms to my body.

It was strange. The first couple of thoughts I had after impact were:

1.) My medical insurance deductible is US$5000.

2.) I don't have helivac (helicopter evacuation) insurance. Check out francois' cool pictures of his helivac experience.

The outside of my right knee took the brunt of the impact. Check out the contusion where the blood is flowing down. It eventually grew to the size of a golf ball. This is yet another reason why you pack painkillers in your first aid kit, young padawan.

Right elbow.

Small scruff on my left arm. I still have no idea how I could have scrapped this side on my body as all my other injuries are on my right side. I do not remember tumbling.

Under my jersey, bruised ribs. Under my cycling shorts, bruised hip. Still, I think I got off lightly for hitting the ground at 28.1 mph (45 km/h).

Note to self: when riding a hardtail, do not chase a guy on a full-suspension bike down the mountain :-P

Total distance: cyclo-computer 22.5 miles (36 km) / GPS 22.45 miles (35.92 km) / TOPO! 22.50 miles (36 km).
Total elevation climbed: Altimeter 3300 ft (1006 m) / GPS + TOPO! 3317 ft (1011.28 m).
Temperature range: 68 F to 78 F (20 C to 25.6 C).
Fluids consumed: 56 fl. oz. of Gatorade, 20 fl. oz of water.