Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Decline of Western Civilization Part III - The Lard A$# Years

For those of you that remember the Heavy Metal movement of the 80's (and I mean METAL - not Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, but metal - Priest, Maiden, Slayer, W.A.S.P.), you'll remember a film made by Penelope Spherris called The Decline of Western Civilization Part II - The Metal years. Basically a documentary about the excess of the 80's and how metal played into it and sometimes caused it, and was this going to be the downfall of our country.

As we all know, it wasn't the end of society as we know it (although looking back on some of the stupid sh^* that people did - myself included - I wonder how some are still alive).

Now this morning, as I was out running, I noticed something, that while really struck me as more "wow, some people are really lazy" than "I'm pissed at whoever lives here". We had 3-4 inches of snow in good old FDLWI on Monday. My wife, bless her soul, went out and shoveled our drive and both side walks (as we live on a corner), so I wouldn't have to when I got home. When it boils down to it she actually owes me from all the shoveling that I did last year when we got well over 100 inches of snow for the season. She used some excuse about being pregnant so she could shovel. What a bum!!!! (Just kidding mama).

Anyway, so I'm running along and I get to some areas of sidewalk that haven't been shoveled. Today is Wednesday. I know some runners get really pissed when people don't shovel. I've letters to the editor in the local paper that express this anger. Personally, I don't think it's any reason to get angry. It is a reason,however, to revisit my theories that the laziness and dumbing down of the country as a whole could be a reason for a great number of problems that this society has today. The one thing I noticed that really got me going again was that fact that one person, who was so lazy but yet still so concerned about their sidewalk being clean, went out and actually sprinkled road salt on 3-4 inches of snow in a vain attempt to completed rid their little section of the city of snow. They didn't shovel and then salt to stop a ice buildup. They JUST SPRINKLED SALT. Wow.

When you make the choice to live in a city, there are certain social codes of conduct - also known as LAWS - that one must follow to become a productive part of society.

Example #1: Dogs should be kept on leashes. I've seen dogs chase cars, people, other dogs, cats, rabbits, all because their owners don't care enough about not only others but they don't care enough about the dog itself to leash it so it doesn't get hit by a car. In most cities this isn't just a courtesy, it's a law.
Example #2: When someone says "Hello" or "Good morning" to you, you reply with an actual response (acceptable responses would be "Hello" or "Good Morning"), not with an "ugh" or just a blank stare. This is called manners, and while most places on earth don't have laws to enforce manners, they probably should. This is a matter of either poor up bringing or just plain poor attitude.

Now I'm probably starting to sound old. "You damn kids get out of my yard" old. But honestly guys, I don't remember things being this bad 10-15-20 years ago. There just seems like there is no pride for community, no pride for family, no pride in the job that you do, and no pride for one's self. I know I'm going to do my best to instill those values in my daughter as she grows up. Sorry for ranting, but I think I was due.

Here's an idea. Let's end this post on a positive note and list some things we're thankful for. I'll start. I'm thankful for my loving wife and everything she does that I don't appreciate the other 364 days of the year. I'm thankful for my daughter who is truly a miracle in every sense of the word (if you guys don't know the story, ask and I'll post it sometime). I'm thankful for having a job, a house, and food on the table, because I know allot of people don't have any of those things these days. I'm thankful for the support of friends and family. I'm thankful for you - my readers - who actually visit this site to read my stupid posts about a fat guy and his bike.

Who's next? Let's just go around the table. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Joe Update

Hope this finds everyone happy and healthy. I got three more pieces to the puzzle that is Crazy Joe on friday at the end of business.

I purchased a bontrager stem, handlebar, & seatpost for a smokin' hot deal. All three for $21.50. Can't go wrong there. Here's the update of where I stand so far as costs go.

“Crazy” Joe’s Cost Comparison

Item/MSRP/Paid – (Shipping)

Specialized “Rockhopper” 21” Frame/$120.00/$25.00 – ($25.00)
Suntour XCR Front Suspension Fork/$160.00/$52.00 – ($14.00)
2008 Cane Creek S8 Headset 1-1/8"/$70.00/$26.00 – ($8.00)
Bontrager Race Modified 620 Handlebar/$30.00
Bontrager Race Handlebar Stem/$50.00
Bontrager Sport Seat Post/$20.00/$21.50 – ($10.00)

$450.00/$124.50 – ($57.00)

Next step is to build the repair stand, update the Trail Dog Tools blog, and start puting this front end together. I did my first stationary ride in a LONG time over the weekend. Put 9 miles on before the "fam" woke up. Better than nothing I guess, especially seeing we got 3" of snow overnight here in FDLWI.
Nothing else to report for now. I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seasons End

With the sudden winter weather of yesterday afternoon, it pains me to admit to myself that the 2008 biking season is over. The fact that this mornings temperature was 12 degrees is not enough to make me throw in the towel. The fact that the roads were still covered with snow in some areas this morning is noit enough to make me throw in the towel. Alas, it is the very thing which is used to make it safer for all of mankind in a situation like this, which forces me to hang the Maestro upside down on his perch in the garage like a hibernating creature. Yes, salt my friends...salt.

Road salt. Melter of snow and ice. Purveyor of safe roads and sidewalks. Eater of bicycle frames! I've seen to many pot mark ridden frames (mostly motorcycles) to allow any of my two wheeled friends to be exposed to the dangers of road salt.
What does this mean for the Trail Dog? It means that, as much as I've been fighting it for the last few weeks, I will be resigned to using goes...........indoor stationary. I know, I know, I know. All you guys have been telling me that there's nothing wrong with using the stationary bike in winter. Especially when you need to train like I do just so you don't explode from lack of activity. I'm not in a financial postition to purchase a "pugs" (Surly - Pugsley model) so I can ride in off road winter terrain (although a boy can dream can't he?). So I guess my only option is stationary and continue crosstraining (running).
Please note the new and inproved Trail Dog Ticker on the right hand column of this page. It will keep track of ALL miles (ridden or ran) separately and then totaled at the bottom. Probably more for me than for anyone else, but a good way to keep track none the less.
That's all for now from Wisconsin. Still trying to figure out another rider for the 12 hours of GEARS race in May and trying to plan out next years "Big" rides. Want to keep riding with Jonny, although his work schedule will dictate when he can come out and play. Also need to get with the Big Cat for some rides. I'm actually contemplating going to Austin, TX in October and riding 100 miles in the LiveStrong challenge either with Team Fat Cyclist or on my own. Need to get the logistics of that one figured out yet but I'll know for sure by next week. Maybe if some of my readers want to join me we can get Team Trail Dog together.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reasons & Comparisons

I remember when I first decided to do this bike build, Jonny K asking me, "why don't you just buy another (completed) bike?". My reply was, "when you build something up from scratch, you become more intimate with it, and almost create a relationship with it." That's how I approach the structures that I design as well as a good many other things in my life, so It would stand to reason that I approach my newest "addiction" (biking) the same way.

After I made this point to Jonny, I thought to myself "sh%t, what if he's right? I'm not made of money, but what if building this bike is actually going to cost MORE that just buying one. After I purchased that frame, I began to research what the next step was going to be. I was shocked to see that although I could buy all the parts I needed at very reasonable costs, I could blow my entire budget just getting the tools that I need to get the job done. I was rather dejected for a couple of days, but purchased the fork anyway.

I researched some of the tools online and thought, "I can't, and I won't pay that much for a tool that I may only use once!" I conferred with Scotty (some of you may remember him from my first ever post as Hill Killer) about some of these tools, and we both said, "hey, most of these things are so simple, somebody could just make the tool too!"

So it is after much thought that I decided to start another blog devoted to the tools that I make to help in the "budget build" of my bike. All of the tools on there will be tested on my own bikes, and I will provide the specifications so readers can purchase materials and build the tools themselves. (I'll also offer my services at for folks that don't want to make them).

So after all this thinking about whether or not I was doing the right thing, I thought I'd better prove to myself that I am following the right trail. Being the analytical person that I am, a cost break down and comparison was in order. I will update this as I get new parts. Note that I purchased a new Cane Creek headset as well as I figured the moving parts would be better off new if possible and it was a good price.

“Crazy” Joe’s Cost Comparison

Item /MSRP/ Paid – (Shipping)

Specialized “Rockhopper” 21” Frame/ $120.00/ $25.00 – ($25.00)
Suntour XCR Front Suspension Fork /$160.00/ $52.00 – ($14.00)
2008 Cane Creek S8 Headset 1-1/8" /$70.00/ $26.00 – ($8.00)

$350.00/ $103.00 – ($47.00)



Monday, November 10, 2008

Crazy Joe's Fork

Crazy Joe's fork showed up on Friday afternoon! Brand new Suntour XCR front suspension fork.

Here's the specs for all you bike geeks:

Travel-80 -100 mm
System-Coil spring
Lower-New magnesium monocoque
Design-Leading axle
Dustseal-Metal inserted type
Leg Color-Matt black, Metalic silver, white
Integrated HD-Semi-ID type / 44mm
Stanchion tube-STKM
Right Side-Coil spring
Left Side-Coil spring
Steerer tube-STKM
Lenght ( w / o thread )-255mm
Crown race diameter-30mm
Wheel size-26"
Brake-Disc (Post mount type: for 180mm rotor) & V-type
Preload adjuster-Yes
Note-Disc only type bottom case available
max. disc diameter-185mm

Only a few more parts to go to get the front end completed. The lower and upper head tube cups came with the frame, but I'm not sure if you can just buy the remaining pieces of the headset, or if I need to purchase a new one to get the rest of the components. At any rate, the headset needs to be installed along with the handle bar stem (which I need to get yet), and more than likely, a fair amount of spacers (the Maestro has a good number of rather large spacers and that height is perfect for my 6'-4" frame). I also need to set the "star nut" into the fork (or have somebody do it for me). If any one has any insight into assembly of this front end, or component recommendations feel free to jump in here. I'm new at this, so any ideas are welcomed.

I got a pretty cool plan to BUILD a repair stand rather than buy one. I figure with the going rate of a stand somewhere between $100-$200 (depending on brand and options), I can build one for $30-$40. Not a bad savings, which means I can put better components on Crazy Joe, and make some off road touring upgrades to the Maestro.

November has been a pretty horrid month as far as riding goes so far. Between some of the weather we've had (precipitation being the problem, cold weather doesn't bother me), and seasonal illness setting in on baby and mama (hasn't gotten me yet), I've only managed to squeak out 10 miles. I have been sticking to running during the week, and have added more distance to my morning jogs. I sure hope that I can get some more miles in on two wheels before the snow pack is here to stay and I'm resigned to the stationary for the majority of the winter.

What do you guys think about cold weather riding? Let's get some banter going here. Share some thoughts or stories or something to do with cold weather riding.



Friday, November 7, 2008

Introducing...the players

For all of you that voted, here are the two wheeled characters in my life, renamed to mirror their "Seinfeld" counterparts.

Uncle Leo (formerly known as "Murray" - I don't have a pic of the actual bike but here's the add from 1992).

Bob Cobb "The Maestro" (formerly known as Gary)

"Crazy" Joe Devola (I think I may even get "Sic semper tyrannis!" somewhere on the frame for those of you that are Seinfeld nuts like me).
So there you have it, the cast as it stands for now. Kind of a stupid little post, but it passes the time on a November morning with pending cold weather headed our way. Hope it gives everyone a little chuckle.

Monday, November 3, 2008

October Revisited

Another month has passed us all by and I figured I'd wax nostalgic for one of my favorite months in the year.

As far as training went for the month:

Cycling miles: 119
Running Miles: 18
Stationary Recumbent Miles: 0
Weight on October 1st: 276
Weight on November 1st: 276
Total weight loss since the "grand revelation" : 29 lbs.

At the beginning of the month I proved my dislike for meteorologists to myself once again. I also had my first cold weather ride in years (which just happened to be in a small deluge thanks to a meteorologist).

I did my first MTB "race" (even though I wasn't really competing with anyone but myself). I realized that I need to train harder and in more places than just paved trails and city streets. 25 miles around town doesn't mean much when you're staring down the barrel of 5 miles of single track.

I completed another trail in it's entirety. The Peebles Trail. That now makes the Peebles Trail, the Prairie Trail, and the west leg of the Mascoutin Valley Trail. Three more trails to go in the county and then I'll have to start looking elsewhere for new adventures.

The first piece of my winter project arrived. This is a new challenge for me to help me keep the cycling mindset through the winter months. I hope to have the rockhopper completed by May, so I can use it exclusively as my racing bike.

We said hello to the Big Cat and NorthwoodsGuy as followers to the blog, and hope to continue conversations and relationships with them. We also said goodbye to Jonny K as a person that I see on a daily basis, but hope to continue conversations and relationships with him.

Followers voted...and my two wheeled friends will be named after Seinfeld characters (more to come in another post).

Let's hope November is just as interesting!