Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First ride...

I love building myself a new bike. I love it even more when the bike I'm building will soon be a bike that I can sell with my own name on it. This was the case recently when I built my new "cross" bike. It's not exactly a cyclocross bike because it has two sets of water bottle bosses, clearance for 45c tires, and it's not light like a 'cross bike. I kind of like to think of it as my do-all bike. It's perfect for the area where I do a bit of road riding to get to the trails. The 45c knobbies are a bit buzzy on the road, but boy are they comfortable. However, they absolutely shine on smoothish rolling dirt!

Like I mentioned, this is a frame/bike that I'll be selling as a Black Mountain Cycles brand. I'm working with a factory in Taiwan to develop the frame (along with some other frames). First rides are always fun and this was no exception. However, there was one minor glitch.

My plan was to ride Highway 1 about 10 miles south, jump on the Randall Trail up to Bolinas Ridge, and then ride Bolinas back to Sir Francis Drake and then back home on the road. All was going along splendidly until I paused at the bottom of Randall to raise my slowly sinking seat. Should have followed my first instinct and use some carbon paste.

So I loosen the clamp, raise the seat, tighten clamp. Maybe I should give the clamp that little extra twist to make sure the post doesn't sink while I'm on the dirt. POW! That's the unmistakable feeling of aluminum threads being completely stripped out of the clamp. Well, that didn't work out so well.

Looking up the trail at what's in store.

I'm now left about 10 miles by road or 12 miles by dirt to get back home. Figuring it's much easier (hah!) to climb/descend out of the saddle on the dirt, I continue on with the seat flipping around like a weather vane.

This seems to be a good spot to rest the back.

After about an hour of this, I'm over the heroic effort of carrying on sans seat on my ride and I really want to sit and pedal. Where Bolinas Ridge Trail empties out of the trees into cattle grazing pastures, I see a piece of hay after stopping to get through a gate. As I see the hay, my mind thinks , "Hmmm, hay, tubular, fibrous, pretty tough stuff. What would happen if I took a piece and as I slide my seat post into the frame also fit the piece of hay in as well, kind of like a wedge."

Well, after pounding on the seat to get it down to my seat height marked by a piece of electrical tape, I can finally rest my weight on the seat and pedal. The seat still spins, but doesn't sink. A fine, fair trade-off, me thinks. And it gets me home without any more stress on my back from standing.

Shim firmly wedged in place.

Looking towards home.

Back in the shop, I go to remove the post and put on a proper seat clamp and it takes me 15 minutes to get the hay out. I designed the frame with an oversized 31.8 seat tube (I like the feel at the bb with the oversized seat tube and with the oversized top and down tubes, it fits right in) and a custom aluminum shim so I can run a standard sized 27.2 seat post. The hay has made the shim one with the seat post and when I try to pull out the seat post, the shim comes out too. Bummer. Fifteen minutes of hammering, pulling, and yanking (trust me, I'm a bike mechanic) and everything is separated and back together in the frame with a layer of FSA carbon paste. No more slipping.

But most important, I dig this bike. I do believe I've nailed it! And I really dig the British Racing Green color. I've never had a green bike. Can't believe I've waiting this long.

Monster cross with a little photoshoped decal work.