Vanishing Point

A site about climbing, bikes, and peculiar travels

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A bikey jaunt through the mountains

Posted by Eric T. on November 17, 2010 at 12:27 AM Comments comments (0)

Whoo! It's been a long time since my last post. A lot has happened, and it's difficult to keep this website updated sometimes. Starting with this one, I'll post all the interesting stuff that's happened since August.

 

I bought a Surly Pugsley with the savings I'd had since last year. Although it was a lot to spend, this bike rocks, so I'm quite happy with it. It's first trip was back in August or September, somewhere around there, from Molas Pass back to Durango. The original plan was to stay on the Colorado Trail the whole way, but due to weather restrictions I took a detour down onto the Hermosa trail on my last day. Overall, a spectacular trip.

 

The first day which proved to be absolutely beautiful. The loaded pugs ready to rock and roll!

 

The scenery was almost unreal for so much of the ride. Beautiful.

 

Day 2. One of the best camp spots I've had. I had a 270° view stretching from the Dolores river valley to the West, all the way to Missionary ridge to the East.

 

Sunset...

 

Day 3 proved to be stormy and I had no interest in going over Indian Trail Ridge alone. I backtracked a little to Salt Creek trail and rode(?) 6 miles to get to the Hermosa creek trail. Actually quite a fun little detour.

 

Salt Creek trail was... bushy.

 

Great little trip. Hopefully I'll be taking similar overnights this winter on the Pugs! I can't wait to ride the thing around when the snow really falls.

 

A teaser for next post: the Grand Canyon!

A tandem of my own

Posted by Eric T. on August 10, 2010 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Building a tandem is a great little adventure in making stuff. I've been telling my friends I want to build one up for months now, and I finally went for it. No one was excited about it, and I was worried I'd have to ride it around alone, but when they saw the finished product, everyone was excited. Haha!


Making a tandem at home poses several interesting problems:

-Finding two frames that are both shitty enough to chop up and weld but also sort of nice because you don't want it to suck, but also are the right size and fit together when you match them up.

-Getting the drivetrain right. Setting up a synch chain, tensioning it, and making sure it doesn't interfere with the main drive chain.

-Setting up handlebars for the stoker without paying for one of the expensive tandem stoker handlebar stems.

-Cabling it up without paying for extra-long $10 tandem cables.

-Finding someone who's ok with touching your butt to grab the handlebars in back and also won't wiggle around while you figure out how to drive the thing.


After all is said and done, it's a friggin blast to ride around town with someone else. Can't beat it for showing couchsurfers around town. At first I just wanted to ride around town on it, but now I think I'd like to set it up nicely and do a little bit of touring with someone. It's a really fun bike to have.


Everything's functional except the synch chain, which rides on 52 toothers. Since it's so damn big I can't fit a ghost ring in there, and plus the main drive chain rubs on it when I try to shift to higher gears in the back. It doesn't throw the chain unless you go over a particularly shaky bump. I'm working on finding some smaller rings.


I used Sheldon Brown's (who's page inspired this thing in the first place) toptube-seatclamp-stem contraption for the stoker's handlebars. Works great until I find a 1" threadless stem.


Let the cutting begin!


This is the front donor frame. I hacked off most of the stays, and sanded her down for welding.


The only modification to the rear frame was hacking the headtube in half. This would fit onto the seattube of the front frame. Luckily, they were both similar-era Schwinns and the headtube and seattube angles were the same.


A few messy welds later, and it's starting to look like something!


This is the frame flipped over and a new tube welded in between the bottom brackets. That's it! the frame is done.


Built up and ready to ride. You can see the synch chain on the 52s on the drive side of the bike. Could

Silverton to Lake City and back

Posted by Eric T. on July 30, 2010 at 6:46 PM Comments comments (1)

Here are some pictures of the mountain bike overnight I took a week ago. I left from just outside Silverton and over Cinnamon pass, through Lake City and then back over Engineer pass. It was all on jeep roads, so I had plenty of company for most of the riding. Some people would open their window and cheer me on, others would just look at me like they wanted me to get a job or something.

 

Anyway, it was pretty fun for just an overnight trip. When the weather's a little better I'd like to do a longer one.

 

 

I came up the valley and began up the pass just below here. Below me is Animas City.

Approaching the summit. 4x4s seemed to come in packs.

Woo! This is a nice picture of my setup. Old steel Rockhopper, framebag, sleeping bag on handlebars, tent and sleeping pad under saddle, and the biggest fucking tires I can fit into that frame.

The other side of Cinnamon. Let the boneshaking begin!

I hung out with an old friend in Lake City for a long morning, then attacked Engineer pass. This is out of town a ways, with the climbing about to begin.

This pass just goes up and up and up and up...

It was overcast and about to rain. It was also incredibly beautiful.

Interlude: Sometime after that last picture was taken, I was approaching the summit when an electrical storm began. After deciding that I wasn't turning back, I thought the safest thing to do was not to put my feet on the ground, and let my tires insulate me. It just about killed me, but I got over the summit in record time.

Looking down the decent back into Animas City.

Cool (steep) roads.

This is what some of the roads looked like. It made for interesting riding.

Self portrait. That sign says "if you can't keep it clean, STAY OUT!"

Overall, a really fun trip. It was mostly climbing up absurdly steep hills with a little regular biking thrown in. The total elevation gain over two days was 6400'. Not bad for a first trip.

A short winded ride

Posted by Eric T. on November 4, 2009 at 11:41 PM Comments comments (0)

This post has a lot to do with bottom brackets. It's the assembly at the bottom of the bike frame that the pedals and cranks revolve on. Check out the link for Sheldon Brown's description.


We left Thursday morning (the 22nd) to a beautiful day and high spirits. Noah, his mom and brother, and my dad and I (and a long lost friend named Joey) had breakfast and toasted Noah and my departure. Things were going well, and we left town in the middle of the day.


We spent most of the beginning of the ride talking about shifting, cadences, and things of that nature. It was kind of funny, having the singlespeed rider on the front taking charge of shifting. Our riding went well, and we were out of town and at Durango West shortly. That was where we discovered the front bottom bracket.


The cup on the left side had worked its way loose, and Noah had been pedaling on it most of the time. Knowing this was a pretty big deal, we discussed our options, and decided to return to town. We kept our attitudes positive, since if we both got bummed, we were in trouble.


In town, we went to the excellent folks at the Durango Cyclery and they lent us tools so we could investigate the problem.



When we got the crank off, it became apparent that the bottom bracket was done. The hard steel of the loose cup had worked its way into the soft aluminum of the eccentric BB shell, and the threads were toast. We decided to replace it with a special cartridge BB designed for stripped threads, and ran into a whole slew of things that slowed us down. Random little things were going wrong, but we were incredibly determined to get this done. Eventually we got the new BB in, and by that time it was 5:00.




Noah didn't want to leave again until the next day, and suddenly I got hit with a huge wave of unmotivation. We were already leaving 4 days behind schedule, and being on a time constraint, I was getting dissapointed more and more with each passing day. The week before I came down for this trip, I had reached a "what do I do now?" point in my life. I had recently lost reason for being in Fort Collins, but I didn't know where I should go instead. I didn't have any substantial goals, so I was just floating around looking for meaning in life. It was weird. Naturally, I thought a bike trip would help, so I fled to Durango.


I guess the stress from the rest of my life carried over to the tandem trip. Since it was already something that was going to call upon traveling and improvising skills, as well as my patience, my already weakened mental state continued to deteriorate. I hitchhiked home that night, having a hard time thinking about leaving the next day.


The Universe's final message to me was waking up the next morning with swine flu. I could barely swallow, my body ached, and I felt terrible. I stayed in bed until Noah called and told him my condition. We made a few decisions, and it was clear I wasn't going anywhere. Noah would continue as he had originally planned, alone. He left that day and vanished into Utah.


I contentrated on healing, and the rest of my time in Durango turned out to be absolutely fantastic. I built a trebuchet with some good friends and esteemed collegues, earned up some money and helped out in an awesome photo shoot. One of my best friends, Dakota, got the gears turning in my head finally and I've decided what I'm doing with myself. The short story is that I'm moving back to Durango to earn money and ski, and I'm going to try to get to Europe in the late winter/spring with my bicycle.


More to come later, but I'll be back in Durango by Thanksgiving.

Finally ready to leave

Posted by Eric T. on October 22, 2009 at 1:01 AM Comments comments (0)

Gah! We finally finished everything we needed to do on the tandem. After the build on Monday, we still needed a new rear wheel, and Noah wanted to chop the frozen seat post in the front and set up something taller so he could actually fit on the front of the bike. We also needed to add bottle cages, racks and everything that makes it an actual touring bike.

 

 

The seatpost for the captain(front rider) is frozen in the seat tube, so we hacked off the top of it, and made a clamp out of an old seat cluster from another road bike. It also makes the rear handlebars more adjustable, the top tube from the donor bike being the same size as the handlebar clamp. We were rather proud of this little fix, I think it works better than either of us would have guessed.

 

 

We ride out in the morning. I'll try and update as soon as possible, but from my previous attempts at doing such, I can't promise much. The weather's been a grey gloom the past 2 days, so hopefully the sun comes out tomorrow.