Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hmm...sneaky moves

Interesting move from the local electric company (Mountain View Electric Association)... In the past two years, they have increased the "grid access" fee from 13.95 to 29.95 while reducing the kWh fees. Why are they doing this? To increase their fixed fees in response to the governmental requirement to source a certain percentage of their energy from renewable energy resources.  See here for their nice PR spin on the whole ordeal.

So, the average user gets zero increase in their bill, but someone with a grid intertie solar system (like me) gets a significant increase in their annual costs. My electric costs have risen from $167.40 a year to $359.40 (a 115% increase). Consumers like myself essentially bear the financial burden of the electric company's government mandated requirements. So much for that return on investment calculation from 2 years ago...

I suppose this kind of behavior shouldn't come as a surprise, since customers like me are more of a financial burden than a boon to the electric company.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.  Policies like this certainly won't attract more renewable energy customers, which is exactly what the electric company would prefer.  On the other hand, I wonder what their financial penalties will be for not meeting their quota.  I'm sure some bean counter has it all figured out to the advantage of the electric company...

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Year, New bike!

It's been abnormally warm and dry here in Colorado, so I've gotten out for a lotta rides. I'm already up to 22 outdoor rides this year, which is a healthy amount for the 30th of January.

Since Salsa's announcement about 1.5 years ago, I've been jonesing for a Salsa Spearfish. I'm convinced that 29ers make a difference for me, and the lure of a full suspension 29er has been strong. Well, Bikeman has a closeout deal on last year's Spearfish frame, with a Rockshox Reba RL and a nice headset for $1199. I couldn't resist!

Here are the build specs:
18" Salsa Spearfish frame
Rockshox Reba RL fork
Cane Creek headset
Carver MyTi handlebars
Titec titanium seatpost
WTB seat
Magura Marta SL front brake
Avid BB7 rear brake
RaceFace Dues crankset (22/32/42)
SRAM cassette
SRAM Attack shifters (9 speed)
FSA PF30 bottom bracket
Stan's 355, WTB Laserdisc Lite wheels
XT front derailleur
XT rear derailleur
Geax Saguaro tires

Total weight is about 27.5lbs. I think it'll be closer to 26lbs when I mount up my Racing Ralphs and run tubeless. I'll probably drop a little more weight when I get my rear BB7 switched out for my rear Marta SL. The Marta SL brake hose is too short, unfortunately.

I've had the bike out for two rides so far. First impressions are that it is smooth and fast. I had forgotten how a full suspension allows me to pedal right through rough stuff, oftentimes seated. The Spearfish really seems to climb nicely. Much better than I remember my Tomac 78 Special climbing. The Spearfish allows more of a point and shoot approach to riding. I can be much lazier with my line choices (compared to riding my 29er hardtail).

I'm encountering quite a few more pedal strikes. It may be due to a lower bottom bracket, or may just be due to the fact that I'm pedaling through stuff that I would have coasted through in the past.

I still have some niggly adjustment issues to work through, but overall I'm very pleased with the way the build turned out. I think the full suspension 29er will help reduce fatigue on long endurance events and just be fun to ride in general.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ring the Peak Plus

So, I had a great time on the Ring the Peak Plus trip. Nick and I rode over 82 miles and climbed more than 13,000 feet. The first day was brutal, with over 7000 feet of climbing. I didn't realize how heinous the climbing was 'til I saw my GPS capture of the climb.
No wonder I was soooo spent at camp that night.

We found a perfect campsite, with a view of the lower slopes of Pikes Peak. My Golite Shangri La performed flawlessly during the crazy overnight thunder and lightning storm. No bears pillaged our food, which was a concern of mine after Nick's bear encounter from 2 weeks ago.

We woke up to a beautiful day and got off to an early start.

After about an hour of spinning up hill, we encountered some guys doing the RTP trail in a day. We let them pass and shortly thereafter I was surprised to catch back up to one of them. Unfortunately, my bike started acting funky. I thought it was chainsuck, but it was much more. A broken chain and twisted derailleur hanger. Not sure which came first...

I stopped, fixed the chain, straightened the hanger, then hopped back on. I started riding up to catch Nick, then realized I couldn't shift. @$!@#@#$? Singlespeed for another 50 miles? Argh! Whatever, it'll still be fun. I figured my brifter had given up the ghost and hiked up the trail, eventually getting back to Nick.

Nick smartly pointed out that maybe I had just broken a shifter cable. Sure enough, that was it! And, even better, Nick had a spare in his kit. Additionally, he had a tiny screw driver which allowed me to change the cable on my Shimano brifters. Lesson learned...next time around, I'll have a spare cable, derailleur hanger, and Leatherman that has a tiny screwdriver bit. While I fixed my bike, another few riders came by. They too, were doing the RTP in a day. Actually, they were GPS'ing the route for the RTP race in October. Nice guys and gal to chat with while fixing things. :-)

I got the bike back in order and we took off to the Crags. Both Nick and I were feeling well and made good time. We saw the RTP guys again at the Crags and then again at the Cripple Creek KOA, where we all hung out for a chat and some lunch.

Nick and I left the KOA feeling pretty good and just kept on hammering. We hit Gold Camp Rd, then continued the massive climb up to 376.

I got caught in a big thunder/hail storm while Nick pulled away from me with his 1x9 gearing. I hunkered down in some giant pines and put on my rain gear. Once the storm passed, I continued the awesome climb / hike-a-bike to the top, where Nick was relaxing in the sun.

Nick pointed out that we were going quickly enough to finish in 2 days, instead of 3. We'd continue to ride and see how things went. Both of us felt great, pushing through the next massive hike-a-bike section,

then continuing through an awesome thunderstorm in the incredible Jones/Pipeline downhill all the way back to Colorado Springs.

I managed to have a spastic wipeout on Captain Jacks, sliding about 10 feet off the edge, hitting a couple trees. No significant damage, but a reminder to keep it safe for the last 5ish miles back to Nick's house.

We finished early on the second day, probably around 5pm. It was an excellent trip with excellent company. I learned some valuable things for future bikepacking trips. Thanks Nick!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ring the Peak Bikepacking Trip Prep

Getting ready to Ring the Peak with Nick. We plan to take a fairly casual 3 days to complete the trip.

I've done a few bikepacking trips in the past, but used old school racks and panniers. For this trip, I've significantly updated my setup. I have an F3 Designs seatbag, a Revelate Designs Tangle bag, a Revelate Designs Sling and drybag, and two Salsa Anything Cages with dry bags attached. In addition, I'm carrying a Wingnut Hydration pack.

I've tried to keep the amount of gear on my back to a minimum and I think this configuration will do that. My Wingnut only contains the things I'd take on a normal ride (water, snacks, tools, rain jacket, etc).

I've had the bike out for a couple test rides, including a decent amount of singletrack while fully loaded at lunch today. The setup seems very nice. Certainly way nicer than a rack and panniers. The bike behaves in a very normal, unloaded fashion, only requiring a slight bit more input for small directional corrections.

Pysched to get out and hit the RTP trail!

Oh yeah...Huge bear in my yard today! Tess, our mottled mutt, chased the bear off. I was worried the bear would take a swipe at her, but the bear just turned tail and meandered off down to the barn and then across the road to the neighbors' property.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Still having fun at +20 hours!

Well, I think my race season is done... I did (part of) Vapor Trail last week and 24 Hours of Colorado Springs this weekend.

Vapor Trail was a bust. I had a chest/head cold leading up the race, but it seemed to get better in the couple days prior to the start. Guess I wasn't quite ready, as I suffered mightily while breathing heavily at high elevation. My pace was way slower than expected and, at about mile 65, I noticed that my throat/chest were wheezing or whistling with every deep breath. Pulled the plug at Monarch Crest, about 75 miles into the race.

Lessons learned...
Vapor Trail is wicked hard. Major sections of hike-a-bike.
Listen to your body, and don't try to push things when sick.
I need to figure out how to better dress for changing temps and conditions.
All that insane hike-a-bike may (just) be worth the massively fun descent from Granite Mountain

After VT, I got off my butt and went to see the doctor. I should have done this earlier, but for some reason, I have an aversion to seeing the doctor. Anyway, I got on some antibiotics and they gave me an inhaler for my breathing issues. 3 days of that, and I was feeling good enough to go out and give the 24 Hours a shot for fun. I brought the giant trailer, some brews, and 3 bikes. I expected to turn a few laps, hang out, go back out with a different bike, and just have fun.

Well, all was going to plan until I ran into some friends spectating on the course after dusk. I was feeling normal (i.e. I could breath) and was just churning out the miles. One of the guys said I was in second place. Well, that was great and all, but what about the beer back in the fridge that needed to be tended too, as well as the 2 hour nap I was planning?

OK, change of plans...keep riding as long as I'm having fun and I'm feeling ok. On the next lap, I stopped by the top-o-the-hill campsite for a chat, a swig of wine, and some trail mix. Thanks guys! I made it another lap and a half before I started feeling really spacey and cold. Warmed up in the trailer (a godsend), had a cup of coffee, made some soup, and rode through the night and all the way to the finish. Hammered the very last 3 miles of the race with my friend Nick, who pulled off 174 miles, on a SINGLESPEED! Go Nick!

I managed about 160 miles and 3rd place. Very happy with that! Even more than podium finish, just the completion of a solo 24 hours is a goal I've had for a long long time.

Back in '96, I rode Canaan as a member of Team Pyeweed. I couldn't believe there was a 4 person team entered with 4 John Stamstads. Back then, I thought riding for 24 hours was insane and unachievable. As the years have gone by and I've gotten more and more experienced, I thought, "I wanna do that." Well, goal accomplished!

Thanks to my wife and kids for putting up with all the necessary time spent training, as well as the support at the race!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fresh Tracks!

Got out with Nordby and Keller for some incredible new trail riding. Woohoo! Nice to see the continual development of opportunities in the area.

My technical skills are feeling really good right now. Feeling a bit like the good old days, when I could roll through just about anything. I'm hoping that with some tapering, my endurance will feel the same way in about 13 days.

Had some stomach issues on today's ride, which doesn't bode well for fueling at Vapor Trail. Not sure what is up. I switched to Perpetuem from Sustained Energy a couple weeks ago. Not sure if that is the issue, but my stomach was feeling pretty sour by the end of yesterday's ride. I may have to switch back to Sustained Energy if I can't get it figured out. I know my stomach is fine on that for 18 Hours. I do find Perpetuem easier to drink, though...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Change of plans!

Well, my original plan to race at 24 Hours of Colorado Springs is looking unlikely (surgery in the family requiring travel). So, I got looking around for other ways to put my training to good use. One week earlier than 24 Hours of Colorado Springs is a race that I've always wanted to to, but haven't managed to plan for or train enough to consider, the Vapor Trail 125!!! So, I pinged Absolute Bikes and they actually had a couple spots still open and I'm in!

I'm pretty psyched to have the opportunity to participate in the race, especially since I feel fairly well prepared. The VT125 is known as one of the hardest endurance races in the US. 125 miles, most of it at high altitude, with 20,000 feet of climbing. Whoa! Looking at the course description and elevation profile is a bit scary.

Tpak did this race the initial year and says it is awesome. Much better than going around in circles for 24 hours. :-) The race starts and 10pm. I'll ride through the night and, most likely, into the next evening. Maybe 16-20 hours on the bike. Lots of hike-a-bike mixed in with riding. So, I need to make sure that whatever shoes I wear are good for long hikes.

Lots of planning and route research to do between now and the 11th. Hopefully I can get out there over Labor Day weekend and scope out a bit of the course.