First bar end tool: complete.

11 08 2018

After a total redesign, I got to the point where I had to decide how I was going to mount the quick links to the shaft.

I had reasonable luck with ‘plunge’ milling the side of the shaft on a previous iteration, if I kept the tool close to the point at which it was bolted to the cross slide tool holder. I augmented this with a G clamp and kept my fingers crossed.

It worked well enough and I then cross-drilled the job for the quick link ‘stubs’.

I then took the shaft down to the same diameter as the flats of the quick link mount area and skimmed off a wee bit of material here and there (nearly wrecking it in the process – but that is another story).

End cap on, Dynaplug tool in place and boom! it is done.

I learned a lot. Not least that there is significant variation between different bars and so this is truly a one off type of tool. Yes, I could make more, but my hope that with different O rings you could adapt it to different bars is extremely unlikely to come to fruition. As such, this will not be joining the DeWidget as a dRj0nbagworks offering….oh well!

The next project is a bar end plug for the Chain Barrel by Clever Standard and then the one after will be a bar end plug that will accept a PVC tube holding C6 bits for a bit driver hex key tool. I *may* adapt a pivoting hex key that would utilise the PB Swiss magnetic bit holder that mounts to a 5mm hex key and thus the whole thing will go in the bars. We’ll see.

The PVC tube idea is lifted from Industry 9 – whose MatchStix is a great inspiration. Ok for now.


31 07 2018

A few months ago, I bought some extra insertion tubes for Dynaplug tubeless repair tools. I had been inspired by Nathan Riddle, who had been experimenting with a One Up EDC steerer tube tool kit and fitting in some Dynaplug parts.

I usually carry a Genuine Innovations Mountain Pipe pump. It is a great pump! it uses a small CO2 cartridge as the pump handle, but it can also accept this into the pump head which then works as an inflator. If I threaded a section of aluminium bar to screw into the CO2 canister female threaded hole in the pump, then drilled and tapped it to accept Dynaplug inserts, I could use the pump as a tubeless anchovy driver too.

Eventually, I found the correct Tap and die combination and went to it.

The first iteration was hand made with and a bit squint, but it worked. The second was more accurately made, on my then-new lathe, and I knurled the handle, which I made a bit longer than previously so I could use it on its own or in a pump if needed.

Recently, I was travelling so I wanted to add a quick link to my 11 speed Shimano chain. I had some KMC links, but had bought the Shimano ones, because I thought they would probably work the best. After a beast of a time fitting them and then 4 rides where I could not get it to bed in without a stiff link, I fitted the KMC. Nevertheless, I did buy the One Up chain pliers for their EDC tool as a ‘carry along’ option. Small and neat, they do work well, even though the leverage is diminutive.

In the kit, One Up also send a tiny adaptor to – wait for it! — thread into a CO2 canister female threaded hole and this is then drilled for One Up’s own anchovy fork – reminiscent of the Genuine Innovations one. I suspect they had seen what Riddle was doing and a light bulb came on – just like it had for me.

My next lathe project is some bar end plugs – similar to the Berts-a-like ones made by Menhir Cycles for a Concours de Machines project – also covered on Pinkbike from Eurobike (where I have taken the following picture from) read the article – it’s an interesting beast!

I’m *hoping* to get hold of a Clever Standard chain tool to mount in there as well….we will see if they come back into stock soon!

I’ll be back once I have made some progress.

Surviving the Marji Gesick ~ practical elements.

18 10 2017

Can you tell it’s still on my mind?

I have not written up my experiences on my personal blog or on the team blog (Velo Club Moulin) because we are working on an article for an upcoming issue of Cranked magazine. Until then, I have decided to focus a little on how to survive the race. I would *like* to say how to finish the race, but perhaps that would be presumptive. So, I am going to split my thoughts into several posts: practical, physical and mental.

For me, there were several big issues I had to contend with. Firstly, I had to fly (solo) with my bike from the UK to Michigan and as a result, I was somewhat limited in what I could bring by weight allowance.

My bike choice was easy – my Vertigo Cycles Kraken. Fat tyres, good suspension, super reassuring in the technical terrain and comfortable for long rides.

I do not own a full suspension bike, but I would encourage a budding contender to consider using one if it is an option. The trails are highly technical in places and there is so little recovery that anything you can do to reduce getting beaten by the rocks and roots for the best part of 17 or more hours is going to help.

Plus tyres are a win. One thing I did do was bring a spare Maxxis Rekon, despite my limited weight and space. I usually use a lightly treaded tyre on the rear of my bike and rely on the volume to supply traction but I wanted to have a slightly more aggresive option as well as a spare. In future I might use a more robust casing on the rear as I ran a higher pressure than usual, reducing the cush-factor, in order to deal with the sharp rocks. Pine Knob, I’m looking at you.

On the front, I have a Maxxis Highroller II 3.0 and that was perfect. A trimmed tread DHR n the rear would be my choice in future.

Tubeless, naturally. Which takes me, quite neatly, to spares I carry on the ride.

I carried 2 tubes – Bontrager 2.5-2.8 26″ 48mm valve stem (with removable core). This has several benefits: it is a robust tube, the valve is long enough for my deeper section carbon rims and the core being removable potentially allows sealant to be added. The downside? they are relatively heavy at the best part of 280g (iirc). I use Backcountry Research straps (Gristle and Mutherload) to hold these to my saddle and top tube. I also use a Super 8 for a waterproof and some food, but at the last minute did not bring a jacket to the Marji as the weather was so hot.

I used a Revelate Designs Gas Tank Bag to hold food. I saw a *lot* of folk running these top tube bags and I was shocked how few were running a Bentley Components DeWidget to mount this painlessly to their stem ;-)~ .

Food was a matter of Granola bars, Mike n’ Ikes, Smoked Turkey slices, Baby Bell cheese, jerkey, sandwiches and Clif Bars. Pizza slices stashed in the drop bag (more on that later) were not eaten, but were good for insurance.

The community supplied *so* much at various points along the course (thank you!) it was amazing, though of course you cannot count on having access to any one thing at a given time.

I did use a dropper post (9point8) and would not give this up if I was doing the race again. You have to have fun where you can and some of the descents deserve to be railed.

GPS is essential for the race. It is well marked, but as with every big, back country race I have done, if some ornery asshole decides to remove a sign or two, particularly at dusk, you could be stuffed. In my case, I used an eTrex 20 with my iPhone, using Gaia, as a back up. I use lithium batteries in the eTrex and it lasted easily long enough. Gaia would have been absolutely fine, detail wise, but you would want a waterproof case.

I had a Niterider Lumina 1100 on the bars and this is something I would change. My old Minewt was in my drop bag just in case, but I was actually surprised by how much light I needed to use. This was not the length of time, but the lumens. Normally when i night ride *alone*, I use around 200 lumens. This is fine, once your eyes adjust, if no one has brought the stadium light to over power you from behind. However, perhaps due to the density of foliage and vague trail under rocks, leaves and roots in the dusk., I used higher settings for a good while. The battery was *just* enough to get me through but in future I would carry another light on the bike for the latter half of the race.

As for riding kit: Giro Terraduros – lots of hike a bike, Endura riding kit – the best, Oakleys with Transitions lenses for the tree cover and the likelihood of being out in the dark. Wooly warm arm warmers and a windproof gilet. I wore, old worn out lightly padded Giro gloves.

One of the biggest decisions I made was to not use a hydration pack. The race is self supported, with a drop bag accessible at ~70 and ~90 miles with a total distance of around 103-106 miles (I have seen various strava etc figures). I know I can ride a certain distance on a certain amount of fluid in a certain time and at a certain temperature. The forecast for the U.P is generally 60-70°f at this time of year and not too humid. As such, the 3 bottles on my bike (2x26oz and a 24oz) would be good and I had decided to start with a 22oz bottle in my ‘High Above‘ hip pack.

Unfortunately, the weather threw a curveball with 92°f and high humidity after a colossal thunderstorm the previous day. As a result, riders were tending to suck through fluid pretty quickly. This is not quite such an issue if you have a support crew – which numerous racers did – but as a solo, you have to get it where you can.

There is a garage at Lowes accross the freeway that could act as a supply, but it is early in the race distance. I have no doubt there are other, similar, options near enough to the course to allow a detour and re-join.

In Scotland, I tend to use a steripen on long rides to sterilise water I find along the way if I am dubious about the source, which works well and I had this with me for the Marji. Nevertheless, after pre-riding some parts of the course, I found most of the streams in the early part of the race so I did not bring it wth me and instead, relied on provenance. I also knew that as long as I could get to my drop bag I would have more fluid.

In practice, this could have been extremely difficult. The impromptu community and Terrene Tyres aid stations around the South Network trails saw me refilling at least 2 bottles and The Wurst Aid station put on by the awesome Quick Stop Bike Shop crew had me with at least another 2 bottle fills and a bottle of Gatorade chugged. I filled my own bottles from 3 litres of water I had at the drop bag and also had coke and cans of starbucks espresso with milk I had in my bag. In total, I went through 16 24/26oz bottles, a 500ml coke, 2 300ml coffee and 2 bottles of Gatorade. Without the help from the locals, I would have been one desiccated bloke.

I had my tool kit in my hip bag, along with a wee bit of food, a Genuine Innovations pump and tyre anchovy kit, my Dynaplug tyre repair kit (punctures were on my mind, eh?), a wee pot of chamois cream, some Squirt Lube, my iPhone, car keys and a puppy mascot my wee girl made me. I did not carry a camera in the interests of weight saving, but did have some money and some tyre booting material (same thing!).

Because I was a solo visitor to Marquette and the race is uphill from there to Ishpeming (a 35minute drive away) I had to arrange my own transport back. Riding is an option, but another 1.5 hours would be tough after a long day. I was very lucky to meet a constable from the Ishpeming police who let me leave my car at the police station the day before (cycling back through the afore mentioned thunderstorm along the Iron Ore Trail) but that also meant I needed to make my way to the start of the race by bike, with my drop bag. This is only a ~5 mile cycle, but along with the 40 minutes of riding around it took me to locate the police station at the other end in my deranged state, my mileage was a little over the usual race distance. Depending on how you intend to go, this is an important consideration. It is doable, but takes some character and a good alarm clock.

Ok, from a practical standpoint, I think I have covered my thoughts. If you have any specific questions, fire away.