Part 1: First Road Bike Crash - Update
I have not blogged since May 26th. I have not had the heart to write an update to the Road Bike Crash that occurred on May 22nd.
Here is a link to my last blog about the crash:
This story has gotten ugly. We are talking about incompetent insurance adjusters, the other party changing their story, 8 weeks of physical therapy, continuous pain, lawyers and a lawsuit. I am now undergoing serious physical medical rehabilitation.
My right ankle has no discernible stabilizing ligaments. If I am not careful, my right foot just rolls under my leg and I stumble. My neck throbs all the time and my right shoulder has pretty much seized-up.
To make matters worse, I officiated in 43 high school football games this season. These games were assigned to me in April, which was over a month before my bike accident. Every second I spent on the field was agony. Aleve painkillers became my best friend. Just when I thought the season was over, I got tapped to do two playoff games.
I have over 15 years of experience as a football official. There is a shortage of officials at every level, for every sport. Even though I was injured, I couldn’t dump any games and leave my crew high-and-dry. Working football games showed me how badly I was hurt. On the football field, I had to move to in uncomfortable ways to cover the action as plays progress. There are certain signals that require shoulder movement, which hurt. A “ref” has to keep their head on a swivel. My neck pops and cracks when I turn my head. I got “rolled” several times. “Rolled” is the term for getting clobbered by a player. Due to the pain in my wobbly ankle, I was just not agile enough to get out of the way. Half way through one game, I got clobbered by two monster linemen and got my left knee sprained.
Officiating football is not a really cardio-vascular exercise. The bad news is I gained 20 pounds because I have not been able to do much running. I managed to fight off 10 pounds, mostly by bike riding.
Part 2: White Lightning Is Repaired
After the accident on May 22nd, I ended-up paying for bike repairs myself. My LBS (“Local Bike Shop”) did a complete crash assessment. The carbon front fork checked-out okay. The LBS managed to straighten the bent wheels. They realigned the brakes, shifters and handlebars. They re-wrapped the bar tape, and changed the bent rear derailleur hanger. They also had to tune and adjust everything on the bike.
The bike took a fearsome blow!
I bought a new Specialized Echelon helmet that was just like the one that was destroyed in the accident. The old Echelon helmet was broken and dented. I suffered one heck of a concussion. But my head is still in one piece.
Part 3: First Ride After The Accident – Sometime I Scare Myself
I took the newly repaired Allez to Green Mountain where there are dedicated concrete bike paths. In other words, there are no cars. I really was not ready to deal with cars, yet.
Here is a shot of the Allez prior to ride.
After $400 in repairs the bike is as good as new.
I rode around the parking lot and tested the shifting and handling. The bike felt good. I took off down the path. There were no other bikes around me. I pedaled easily and the bike picked up speed. I know this makes no sense, but as I neared 20 mph, I got irrationally scared. When the speedometer hit 20 mph, my heart raced in my chest and I felt panicked.
I then scared myself even worse; I purposely unfocused my eyes. I call this my 1,000 yard stare. The visual image is akin to a wide-angle movie camera. My eyes fed my panicked brain the blurred image of the tall brown grass on both sides of the path speeding by. I had the sensation that my bike was stationary in space and time while the world rolled underneath me.
Whoa! I came back to earth, refocused my eyes, and hit the brakes! I then cruised slowly on the smooth path trying to get control of myself. On this warm June night, with the gorgeous path all mine, biking conditions were perfect! But I rode back to the car and racked my bike. I was fighting fear. And I lost.
That ride was six months ago. I have not been on my Allez since.
Now, I have no problem riding my other bikes. I have since blasted through Moab, Utah on Ultra-Stumpy; taken my Surly Cross-Check on lengthy adventure touring outings; flew down twisting single-track trails with Little Cam; honed my skills on my personal trail system with Little Stumpy; and railed snowy trails with The Beast!
Part 4: Happy Thoughts - Why So Many Bikes?
“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Although my Allez sits quietly in the garage, I have no shortage of great bikes to ride. A handful of Aleve, washed down with Red Bull, can keep the pain in my neck and right shoulder down to tolerable levels. Clip-in pedals keep my wonky right ankle from exploding.
The following are descriptions, or rather excuses why I have a relative large number of bikes.
Part 4a: Sophisticated, Fast and Comfortable: Ultra-Stumpy
Here is a nice picture of Ultra-Stumpy.
Ultra-Stumpy is a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Expert FSR 29er mountain bike that is designed for endurance trail racing. Ultra-Stumpy is blazing fast. Maybe just a little too fast. About a month ago, I lost my mind and installed tubeless Maxxis Ardent tires on Ultra-Stumpy to lower rolling resistance. My dubious goal was to top 50 mph on level dirt. I am not so sure that is a good idea. Ultra-Stumpy accelerates like it is shot out of a cannon! Fortunately, Ultra-Stumpy has the brakes, suspension and stability to handle high-speed. Unfortunately, I am not so sure I have the nerve to handle high-speed.
Part 4b: Flexible and Fun: Surly Cross-Check
My Surly Cross-Check is an odd steel frame multi-purpose bike that handles dirt and pavement equally well.
Although my Cross-Check is a 2013 model, all Cross-Checks made by Surly since the beginning of time are essentially the same. The Cross-Check is not a quick bike, nor a fast bike. The Cross-Check is a fun and forgiving bike. I must be getting soft in my old age!
Part 4c: Quick and Dangerous: Little Cam
Little Cam is a highly modified 2012 Specialized Camber Comp FSR 26er mountain bike that is optimized for technical trails.
Little Cam has an odd-ball geometry that makes the bike lightning quick, extremely agile and terribly unforgiving. Little Cam spends a lot of time in the air. This bike has an extremely raked-back 74 degree seat post angle, short wheelbase and very short chainstay length (i.e. distance from crank to rear wheel). This unique geometry makes Little Cam unbalanced fore-and-aft. When you are sitting on the seat, Little Cam is tail heavy. If you lean backwards the front wheel comes off the ground. But if you lean forward, the back wheel comes off the ground. I have no other bike that can do wheelie, or front wheel-stand while not moving.
Now you get the idea why Little Cam is so fun. Little Cam does not just roll down a trail. Little Cam leaps down the trail. Little Cam does not turn just around corners. Little Cam ricochets around corners.
I plan to write a geeked-out blog detailing how I managed to shave 5 pounds off Little Cam and installed a new high-tech suspension system. Little Cam has been transformed from a pleasant and somewhat dangerous little sucker, into a sophisticated trail bike and really dangerous little sucker!
2012 was the last year Specialized made the Camber with 26” wheels. In 2013, the Camber was dumbed-down and given 29” wheels and a lot longer wheelbase. I rode one of these 29” Cambers, and It was okay. The Camber was intended to be an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike. The evil, wicked, mean and nasty 26er was not well suited for novice mountain bikers. The 29” Camber is tame and easy to ride. The 26” wheel is rapidly becoming a thing of the past on higher-end mountain bikes. The big new rage is the 27.5”wheel size, which some biking pundits are claiming will replace both the 26” and the 29” bikes. I hope not.
Part 4d: Easy Rider: Little Stumpy
Little Stumpy is a 2006 Stumpjumper Pro Disc hardtail XC Racing bike that was only sold in Great Britain. Somehow, this strange machine ended-up in a bike shop in Lakewood, Colorado.
When I ride Little Stumpy, I have to remember that the brake controls are backwards. The front brake is on the right hand side, which is just the opposite of my other bikes. I have been tempted to switch the brake controls to the North American standard. However, I think the strange brake set-up is charming. Little Stumpy is somewhere between Little Cam and Ultra-Stumpy in stability. The fun part about Little Stumpy is the bike can do a wicked front fork rebound hop. I have been sorely tempted to replace Little Stumpy with a newer hardtail Stumpjumper. But there is something about the unassuming little blue bike that makes it a lovable little character.
Part 4e: One Fat Bike to Rule Them All: The Big Orange Beast (“Bob”)
The Beast is a custom-built 9:Zero:7 high-performance racing fat bike. The Beast is amazingly capable in deep snow and ice. I had the pleasure of specifying every component for the Beast, which included a light hydro-formed 9:Zero:7 frame, Shimano XT brakes, 2 x 10 XT shifters, XT Shadow Plus derailleur, Race Face Turbine crank, Turbine seatpost and Turbine stem. I later added a Race Face Next carbon handlebar and Specialized Phenom seat with titanium rails. The wheels are custom made with Hope low friction Hubs and Surly Holy Rolling Darryl Rims. The tires are Surly 26” x 3.8" Nates with 120tpi ultralight casings. The tires have been converted to tubeless cutting 3 to 4 pounds off the bike.
When I bought the Beast, fat bikes were the prevue of small “boutique” companies. Now mega-companies like Trek and Specialized have introduced fat bikes. You can even order a fat bike from Walmart.
The Walmart fat bike has a single speed and is very heavy at 50+ pounds. However, this Walmart one-size-fits-all Mongoose fat bike has the virtue of being really, really cheap at $199! Just the Race Face Turbine Crank for my Beast was $364!
Part 5: Why Good Bikes are so Expensive
In a recent letter to Dirt Rag magazine, a reader complained that high-end bicycles cost more than many motorcycles. This is true. Here is a price comparison between one of my Honda dirt bikes and new Ultra-Stumpy.
List Price for a 2014 Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29 is $6,500
List Price for a 2014 Honda CRF230F is $4,170
Why does the Mountain Bike cost so much more? The Stumpjumper is built with the high-precision components made from carbon fiber, high-strength titanium and aircraft grade aluminum alloys. The Stumpjumper’s is made with the same materials and precision as Formula 1 racing cars, or aircraft pylon racers. The Stumpy is completely hand-built to exacting tolerances. The bike also very light at 20 to 22 pounds.
The Honda CRF230F is made of steel, iron, aluminum, rubber and plastic; and tips the scales at 260 pounds. To make up for all this low-tech weight, the engine turns out 20 horsepower.
What is the horsepower of the Stumpjumper? One human power equals 1/10 horsepower! That means if humans were magically turned into horses, we would be a horse about the size of a house cat!
The Honda has a top speed of about 60 mph. How fast is the Stumpjumper? I have managed to hit 46 mph on Ultra-Stumpy on flat dirt. Not too shabby for a pitifully small horse!
Sorry for the ramble. Thanks for reading my blog.