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A Few of My Favorite Things

Monday, December 01, 2014

Part 1: "I would just DIE!"

I had just stepped into the elevator in the lobby of the building where I work. I saw a young woman slowly walking across the lobby heading for the elevator that I had just boarded. She was furiously texting. The doors began to close. I realized she was not going to make the elevator.

I reached over to the control panel and hit the "door open" button. She never took her eyes off the screen of her phone. She absently-minded walked through the partially open doors, and leaned against the back of the elevator.

I asked, "Floor"? She came out of her text-induced daze and stammered, "Uh, eight".

After the elevator had past a couple of floors, and out of sheer orneriness, I asked the intexticated young woman, "What would you do if you lost your phone?" She looked up from her phone. Her eyes got big. She said, with a horrified look on her face, "I would just DIE!"

I got off on the 6th floor. I left her in peace to continue her texting.

Part 2: There is No School like the Old School

This is photo of a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T and has nothing to do with the topic of this blog. The only point is this car is 45 years-old and looks a lot better than most new cars. This car will also out perform all but the most exotic new cars. And "No" this is not my car.

On the flip side, my iPhone 4S is now horrible obsolete and is less than a year old. I don't download apps or music I don't even know where the darn thing is most of the time. Besides phone calls, I only use this techno wonder to alert me of upcoming meetings at work.

My children have told me that technology is wasted on me. I take that as a compliment.

Part 3: Favorite Things

A lot of young people would list their smart phone as one of their favorite things. Since my brief encounter with a texting addict in an elevator, I got to thinking about my favorite things.

This blog is about things I own that give me pleasure, or things I own that satisfy my overly meticulous nature. Or things I own, that for no good reason, I just happen to like.

Favorite Thing #1: My House in The Rocky Mountains

I live in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at 8,040 feet on purpose! I like the forest, mountains and wildlife. Sometimes the weather is cold, snowy and windy. For me the harsh climate is a bonus. I also let Mother Nature take care of my "yard".

My house has 2x6 walls for extra strength and insulation. The heating plant is top-notch with hot water baseboards. The garage is also insulated and heated. The windows are double pane with insulated frames. Since our furnace is a boiler, we never run out of hot water.

My house is in the middle of some of the best skiing, mountain biking, trail running, hiking and camping in the world. The trout fishing is not bad either.

Favorite Thing #2: Crawler Snowblower

Snow gets deep where I live so I bought a very powerful snowblower.

I have rebuilt this machine a few times. The cool thing about a crawler snowblower is that there are triggers on each handle that allows the operator to precisely steer the heavy machine. This bad boy has an electric starter and can chew through 3 feet of show in one pass.

Here is my wife running the snowblower. She actually likes to use this monster. The snowblower does all the work.

Favorite Things #3: Mountain Bikes

I got my first mountain bike in the early '80s, which was a truly horrible Huffy with 15-speeds, steel frame, ugly splatter paint, rim brakes and friction shifters. However, the Huffy was a more capable dirt bike than my old Schwinn Typhoon "Fat Tire". The old Schwinn had seen it's share of dirt.

In 2014, mountain bikes are amazing hi-tech creations employing technologies and materials found in Formula 1 racecars, high-performance airplanes and spacecraft.

I own a lot of mountain bikes. Each one is different.

MTB#1: Fast Bike - Ultra Stumpy

I have a mountain bike that is scary fast. This bike is mostly made from carbon fiber, magnesium and titanium. I call this bike Ultra-Stumpy. In actuality, the bike is known as a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29er. Ultra-Stumpy is a trail bike with 130mm of suspension travel. Even with 29" wheels the bike tips the scale at 27 pounds.

This bike is was designed for long-distance trail races such as the Leadville 100. If I want to ride a long distance on moderately difficult terrain, Ultra-Stumpy is my choice.

MTB#2: Quick Bike - Little Cam

In 2013, I bought a left-over 2012 Specialized Camber FSR Comp 26er. I got the bike for $600 under list price. This bike was one of the last enthusiast-level 26ers available. I call this bike "Little Cam". This bike is not fast. With 120mm of suspension travel, Little Cam is competent trail bike. However, this bike has a short wheel-base and can change direction in a heartbeat. Cooking down a winding trail, Little Cam spends about half the time airborne.

This bike is pure fun. I really heavily modified this bike. The only parts I did not replace are the stem and seatpost clamp. I have some plans for additional modifications.

This bike has an aluminum alloy frame and weighs 28 pounds. I think I can shave some more weight by going with tubeless tires and a 2x10 drivetrain. These mods are not just for weigh loss - but will improve traction and acceleration.

MTB#3: One Bike to Rule Them All - Santa Cruz Bronson

My most recent acquisition is a 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C 27.5" with XX1 Kit. I bought this bike at a huge discount since the 2015 bikes had just hit the shops.

My Bronson is optimized for expert terrain that includes large obstacles, tight switchbacks and massive drop-offs. This bike has 150mm of suspension travel and is designed for speed and stability on fast descents. The Bronson is a both a thrill and chore to ride. This bike is a real chore to pedal up steep hills. However, the Bronson is a thrill blasting down steep technical terrain. Knee and elbow pads are not optional!

MTB#4: 9:Zero:7- Fat and Furious

My fatbike was built to my specifications. This bike has Race Face Turbine 2x10 crank, stem, handlebar and seatpost. Brakes, shifters and derailleurs are Shimano XT. The seat is a my favorite, which is a Specialized Phenom Expert.

With pedals, this bike tips the scale at a tad under 30 pounds. That is pretty light for a large frame fatbike.

Favorite Things #4: Bike Maintenance Stuff

On the rare instances I ride on concrete or pavement, I have noticed that my bike stays nice and clean. Even after several long rides, the chain is still shinny and lubricated. Shifting remains flawless day-after-day.

However, over 90% of my riding is on dirty, muddy and rocky terrain. After every ride, my mountain monsters need cleaning, adjustment and lubrication.

Over the years, I have tried a lot of different bike maintenance products. My favorite products are affordable and effective.

Bike Maintenance Stuff #1: Keep it Clean

I find it really hard to beat Finish Line products for value and effectiveness. I also like Park Tool, Pedro's and Spin Doctor bike repair and maintenance products.

Finish Line Super Bike Wash can be used with water, or without. This stuff melts mud, gunk and grime from wheels, tires, frames, and moving parts.

To lubricate clipless pedals and derailleurs I like Finish Line One Step.

I use the spray lubricant sparingly and make sure I wipe-off any excess.

I like the Park Tool Chain Gang Kit for cleaning the chain, cassette, and chainrings.

This kit cost $35 does a great job. Dirt, grime and mud can ruin drivetrain components. The SRAM XX1 X-Dome 10x42T Cassette on my Santa Cruse Bronson cost $425. The Bronson's SRAM XX1 X-Horizontal Rear Derailleur goes for $305. The Bronson's SRAM XX1 GXP Crankset costs $519. The SRAM PC XX1 HollowPin Chain seems like a bargain at $68. Given that to replace the Bronson's drivetrain would cost $1,317, the $35 Park Tool Chain Gang Cleaning Kit is a good investment.

I have a good set of cleaning and maintenance brushes.

I like the Easy-Pro Brush Set made by Finish Line that cost $18.

I also really like the Pedro's Drivetrain Brush.

This brush is perfectly designed for cleaning derailleurs, cassettes and chainrings.

I like citrus degreasers. These "organic" degreasers work well, smell like oranges and won't make you sick if you breath the fumes. Some harsh chemical degreasers are dangerous.

After the bike is clean, the chain needs to be lubricated. A properly lubricated chain makes the bike pedal easier, shift better and last longer.

For dry and dusty conditions I prefer a dry Teflon chain lube that does not attract dirt.

The downside of dry chain lube is that it has to be applied more frequently than wet chain lube. However, wet chain lube, such as Pro Gold attracts dirt like a magnet.

Bike Maintenance Stuff #2: Keep it Working

I have a quite a few things that allow me to repair, replace and adjust mechanical bike components. My excellent Spin Doctor Bike Repair Stand is one of my favorite things.

I also have a lot of really good bike tools.

Before deciding to go to college, I worked as a professional auto mechanic. I am reasonably handy with tools. I also have a 6th sense for mechanical things. I call this gift "The Touch".

Last, but not least, is my Topeak fork and shock pump.

This little pump is accurate, well made and easy to use. An error of 5 pounds can make a difference in suspension response. Typical air pressure on my front fork is 150 psi. The rear shock the air pressure is 220 psi. An error of 5% to 10% is intolerable. I pack the Topeak pump with me so I can really dial-in my suspension based on conditions.

Favorite Things #5: Hiking and Camping Stuff

Sometimes when I post photos of some gnarly trail I rode with one of my mountain bikes, I get comments like "I would never ride a bike over that, but I would hike it!" I totally understand such comments. Even though the terrain may be rough, the mountain scenery can be spectacular! Dropping like a meteor on a mountain bike over treacherous terrain doesn't allow much opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Hiking #1: These Boots are Made for Walking

Surprisingly, I do a fair amount of hiking and backpacking. So if you are going to go where angles fear to tread, you need good boots. I have some great Keen Ketchum boots that fit my wide feet perfectly.

I use heavy Smart Wool socks with these boots. The fit is perfect. These boots are waterproof with great traction. These boots are comfortable and relatively light. What is the catch? List price is $170. I got the boots on sale. I have worn these boots for 3 years. and they still look new.

Hiking #2: Marmot 3 Person Tent

My wife bought two backpacking tents at REI a few years back. These tents are light, easy to setup and well made.

We buy a lot of camping gear from REI. REI only stocks good quality items.

Favorite Things #6: Running and Biking Apparel

I enjoy running. I am currently undergoing my 4th round of rehabilitation from my life-changing bike-car accident in May 2013. I still run, but I run a lot slower and smoother. In my humble opinion, no other exercise has the slimming effect as running. However, I enjoy mountain biking slightly more than running. I am a trail runner. I only run on hard surfaces under duress.

Active Apparel #1: Shoes

Due to the shape of my feet, Nike Pegasus are my favorite running shoe.

The Pegasus is a neutral cushion shoe, has great padding and is reasonably priced.

For mountain biking I really like the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek V.

With my rather mangled right foot, these lace-up mountain bike shoes are great. The cleat is deeply recessed so walking on these shoes is very easy.

These are an "Enduro" style shoe, which means these shoes have great traction so you can carry your bike through rivers and other impossible terrain.

Active Apparel #2: Shirts and Jerseys

I like to run in a 100% cotton shirt. I have a few tech shirts that are fine. But my favorite shirt is the Russell Athletic cotton sleeveless shirt.

Weather permitting, I don't like anything on my arms or legs. My favorite running shorts are Nike Dry-Fit with a 9" inseam.

These shorts are comfortable and wick moisture away.

Socks are sometimes overlooked by runners. I tried a lot of running socks. My favorite socks are Thorlos Light Padded Mini-Crew style.

These socks cost a little extra but I have never had a pair wear out yet. I bought my first pair of Thorlos over 5 years ago.

For mountain biking I like Pearl Izumi, Royal Racing and Fox apparel. For hot weather, I like the Fox Racing Air Cool jersey

This Jersey has great ventilation. I also like Fox Reflex Gloves and Fox Ranger Cargo shorts.

I like short finger gloves.

These Fox Ranger Cargo shorts are very rugged with lots of zippered pockets. Mountain bikers make a science of mismatched outfits. My grey camo shorts coordinate with absolutely nothing! These shorts include a removable gel chamois inner liner. I can wear these as regular shorts - minus the chamois liner.

My favorite biking socks are Smart Wool products.

These socks are thin, breath well; and offer great padding. These bike socks are way different than running socks. These bike socks offer padding on the upper surfaces, as well as on the lower.

Favorite Things #7: Dirt Rag Magazine

Here is my parting shot. Dirt Rag magazine provide articles on mountain bikes and beer. Dirt Rag doesn't care who they offend and tells it like it is.

The cover on this issue states, "Riding With Death, What Doesn't Kill You - Makes You Faster!"

I like that attitude. Thanks for reading my blog.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Bruce, I love your house and although I live in Florida now, I grew up in Idaho and used to trout fish with my dad. You are so knowledgeable! I don't ride bikes, but I always enjoy reading about yours. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog too.
    1556 days ago
  • GHK1962
    Nice blog dude!

    I liked the favorite things theme. (By the way, I will need to remember that word - "intexticated" NICE word!

    By the way, the house and location looks freakin awesome. And I am sooooo lusting over your snow blower! We don't have anything near that kind of snow here ... but that's no reason to not get me one of those right?

    And how did I know all the bike stuffs would be on your list. Though it was cool to see some run stuffs too!
    1564 days ago
    Like your list of favorite things. I knew the bikes had to be in there somewhere and realized as I was reading that bikes and accessories for bikes takes up much of the blog LOL! One of my favorite things is my computer. I have a lot of others too. And my smartphone but not so much for texting. I remember the days before cells phones when my kids were teenagers or younger and would call me when I needed to pick them up. Of course I had to stay at home to get their phone call. When I got my first cell phone I didn't have to do that anymore! Course they were older by then and a couple were out of state. At that time I had a very limited plan for calls on weekdays but unlimited nights and weekends so I could call those out of my area for free then! What a plus it was. And I'd only had it a week when I broke down on the highway out of town and it really saved me! So it is important but I do hate texting and don't do it often.
    Thanks for sharing your list with us. Your house looks awesome!
    1565 days ago
  • BILL60
    Nicevariety of likes.
    1566 days ago
  • -RUBIES-
    Wow! You have an interesting list of your favorite things. Thanks for sharing. I like your well insulated house and I really like your elevator story regarding the young woman that was "intexticated". Great word.
    1566 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Great Blog! Thanks! I found it interesting and like seeing and hearing why you like certain things. Unlike you, I'm not a fan of the cold or thin air your habitat offers but it certainly looks like you make the best of it and use its bounty. emoticon
    1566 days ago
    I'm going to have to come back and finish reading this, lots of good reviews of your favorite stuff! But I love the word "intexticated" priceless! emoticon
    1567 days ago
    LOVE this blog! Your house is GORGEOUS. I'm hating winter more and more every year but that is GORGEOUS!

    I used to be that woman getting in the elevator, well not quite that bad but close. I've detached myself in the last five years. Just watching people around me not paying attention to their surroundings has turned me off of staring at my phone.

    I would love that car!
    1567 days ago
    Those are some great things. My first car was a 69 Dodge Dart Western Sport Special. I loved that car. But I also love my iPhone.
    1567 days ago
    I love that every favorite thing on your list is related to the great outdoors. I knew Ultra Stumpy and Little Cam would be on there!!
    1567 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/2/2014 5:13:46 AM
    it's good to have a mind reset - i enjoyed reading about your favorite things! we have similar trails and nature here in washington's methow valley. while mountain biking is not our thing, we are avid hikers. so lucky to live in a place like this! and the cell phone (and texting) don't work - and you don't even miss them…
    1567 days ago
    I like that attitude too.
    Believe I said that before, that I'd love to hike some of your awesome bike trails. The Rockies are amazing. Great stomping grounds.
    In general though, you can keep the snow. Not a fan :) Brrr.
    1567 days ago
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