Sunday, August 28, 2011


A dozen or so cyclists from our local area made the trip out to Deerfield, Mass to ride the Deerfield Dirt and Road Randonee, aka the D2R2. This ride is known for its challenging climbs, narrow twisting dirt and gravel roads, scenic overlooks, and believe it or not, great food and drink. Organizers this year added a 115K route to the customary 100K and the 180K loops. I have done the 100K ride several times and i wanted to try the all new 115K ride. Stacy, Liz, Abbie, Brad, Seth, Mark, Tom, Chuck aka Q, Art and i all felt the 115K was the correct ride this year. It was a good choice.

The ride is organized as a Randonee, which means its timed, but its not a race. The challenge is to stay on course by following the detailed cue sheet and to simply finish. Believe me, just to finish feels really good. The 115K route was significantly different from the 100K and it road more like 150K because of all the elevation changes. All the rides start from a 'start chute' that allows all riders to start at their own schedule within a 30 minute window. Simply line up in the chute, sign the book with your start time, and then you are off. Art, Q, Stacy and i were all off and navigating the course at 8:02, two minutes into our start window. The route started easy enough with some road sections through the picturesque Town of Old Deerfield. Soon we were onto dirt and pace lining along South Green River Road, a cool undulating dirt road where you could easily average >24 mph. The Keltic train swept us up here and we picked up the pace. Better than the swift pace was the scenery. The river water flows crystal clear over a rocky bed that parallels the dirt road. Cairns can be spotted here and there if at 24 mph you can take your eye off the wheel in front of you. After a quick stop at the water stop, we were back into the woods and a completely new section for D2R2. This was a 'jeep road' that was steep, rocky and muddy as any MTB trail i've ridden. It took all my energy to clean this section. And then we climbed some more. At the end of a long grind, i came across Q napping at a T intersection on a sun filled patch of grass. Gee, was i that far behind? We climbed some more, descended and then climbed some more.
The cue sheet is interesting reading enough by itself. Notes of caution like, "left at Cowpath # 40", "livestock often in road", "a hard dirt climb", "a very hard dirt climb", "a super-hard dirt climb". The word "climb" shows up all over the cue sheet and is not wasted on small elevation changes. If it says "climb", believe me, you are working very hard. At about 30+ miles, we started a gradual descent on sketchy roads back to the Green River Road area for lunch. Lunch was awesome. 3 or 4 different kinds of subs (grinders for the New Englanders), PB and J, cookies, salads, bananas, energy drinks, soda, and more. We sat and ate. It was remarkable how uncrowded the lunch stop was. Riders came in and out on their own schedule and there never was a crush of people, as the organizers have really spread out the riders with the start schedule.
We left the lunch area (oh, i failed to mention that the lunch area is in a grassy park on the River next to a covered bridge, very cool) and immediately started climbing again. This section of the 115K had three major climbs... the hard, very hard and super hard. The Pennel Hill climb was notable for me because i had to dismount and walk! I was completely gassed. I was spinning in a 36 (front ring) and a 27 tooth rear cog and i could just barely turn over the pedals. If i stood up, the rear tire would spit dirt and gravel and i would be almost balanced at a full stop. I alternated between standing, trying to smooth out the pedal stroke and then sitting to maintain forward motion. Eventually, i lost. The dirt, gravel, and % grade, won out over me, my poor fitness and lack of balancing skills. I got off and walked until my heart rate was back to recognizable numbers. I glanced back down the hill and saw Artie still pedaling up the hill! What an animal. I was to learn later that i was simply hallucinating and he was off the bike too. He told me that he looked up the hill and saw me off the bike walking and thought to himself ... "Holy crap, i should turn around now and go home". Now with Pennel Hill etched into my brain forever, we regrouped and limped towards Patton (the super-hard) Hill. This hill is part of the 180K loop also and has quite the reputation. I was determined not to walk. The Q recharged somehow and was up the hill ahead of me. I road with 4 guys from BHCC. Good company. One asked me if this was the infamous Patten Hill. I blurted out "yes" in between gasps. He asked me how much longer is this hill? Gee, i don't know. We had been climbing for what seemed to be days. Its my first time up the Hill. I have no idea how long. I thought i should stop, pull out my cell phone, call Q, and see if he reached the top yet and then report back to the BHCC guy. Yikes, i was losing my mind. I replied "I don't know". I did make it without a dismount, and at the top collapsed at the final refreshment station. These folks now how to reward riders. They had watermelon, water, energy drinks, fruit, brownies, and more cookies. Yum. We re-grouped and headed off on the fourth and final leg. The cue sheet listed this final leg at 11.9 miles with 1100 feet of ... of course... climbing. Some of this was recognizable to me from previous years. One rocky downhill section was a hoot, with tennis ball and bowling ball size rocks everywhere. The cue sheet called it "gnarly". Yes it was.
Eight, nine or ten miles later, we were on pavement and the BHCC boys decided to behave like the lead out train for Mark Canvendish. My legs were screaming, so i sat in and used every trick and excuse i know in order not to contribute. Finally the tents came into view and i could smell the food. Checked-in, changed, and immediately went to the Berkshire Brewing Company beer truck to get my pint glass and redeem my ticket for a special Franklin Land Trust IPA. The food was great... BBQ'd chicken, ribs, salads, fresh organic grown green beans, and more. What a finish. We re-grouped again under the tents, ate, drank, traded stories, and then packed up all before Hurricane Irene made her appearance. I'll do it again. I want to conquer Pennel Hill.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gluing up some new tires on some old wheels

I developed a technique that I describe here that I think is a great way to remove old glue from an aluminum rim.

This week, I glued a new pair of Challenge Grifo Cyclocross tires onto a set of Mavic Ksyrium SL aluminum wheels.  The first step, of course, was to stretch the tires onto a old set of rims. I then pumped up the tires to about 60 psi and let those sit for several days. I also add some sealant to the sidewalls while the tires are stretching and the sidewalls are still nice and clean. I then went about removing the old Grifos from the wheels. The front tire came off with the usual amount of prying and tugging. The rear tire took a bit more effort and I had to use a bicycle tire lever to pry up the tire. I then I slid the lever under the tire, between the tire and the rim to further work the tire off and use the leverage of the tire iron to get the tire off. It eventually came off.
I was now faced with an ugly view of old glue on the rim and I needed to find the best method of cleaning the old rim, prior to gluing the new tires.

I had seen and read about several methods of removing glue online. One method involved heating the rim, a section at a time with a hair dryer to loosen the glue, and then pick off the glue with a dull butter knife. That method proved to be rather inefficient. Here is a picture of a small section of the rim after heating and picking glue off.
This effort took me 15 to 20 minutes to complete.  For 20 more sections on my Ksyrium, it would conservatively work out to be 300 minutes or 5 hours of work per wheel. 10 hours of painstaking heating and picking for two wheels. Not to mention the many Band-Aids for all the nicks and cuts on my fingers and hands.
Others recommend scraping just the big chunks off and then coating the rim with some fresh glue. The idea being that the new glue will fill in the voids and irregularities of any old glue still on the rim. Many blog entries say that its never necessary to remove all the old glue. Others recommend removing all the glue with chemicals, such as acetone.  The problem in my mind with using chemicals is the risk of any chemical residue left over from the cleaning will compromise the new glue that needs to be applied. Besides, Acetone is really toxic, so I was not going to use acetone.
I remember seeing some pictures online where someone used a grinder of some sort to grind off all the glue. That gave me the idea to use a portable electric hand drill with a wire brush to remove the old glue. Here is what I did. I used a wire brush as pictured here:
Remember, I am working on aluminum rims. NOT CARBON! With the wheel positioned on a piece of wood on the floor, and one half of the rim held between my knees, I used an electric drill with the above brush attached, to scrape off the glue. The outside edge of the brush fit nicely into the curvature of the rim. I also found I could regulate the pressure applied and get nearly all the glue off the small section of rim in seconds. The result looks like:
I cleaned the entire wheel in about 5 to 10 minutes. What I also discovered was, with the brush spinning at such a high rpm, it would simultaneously heat, soften, and remove the glue. Depending on how long i kept the brush moving on the rim surface, I could actually leave a very thin layer of glue on the rim. The rim surface looks clean but there remains a very thin layer of glue. I am thinking that this will be a good thing. I would think that if there is any dirt on the rim, the dirt would absolutely have to come off. In my case, the rim was not contaminated with dirt; it just had a lot of chunks of old glue.  I was  careful not to grind down to bare metal. As you can see from the picture, the original paint from the rim remains. What is not apparent from the picture is the surface is very smooth to the touch and ready for a couple of thin new coats of glue.
I would like to hear people’s opinion on this method. Are there any flaws in what I have described here that I am not aware of? What do folks think of this method of cleaning old glue off of rims in preparation of gluing on new tires?