Another Weekend of Great Riding!!!

This past weekend was another fun filled weekend of riding. As you have read some of the previous posts from the other MtnBikeRiders’ staff, we’ve all had a fun filled weekend on two wheels. This past Saturday I took my friends, who I have been riding with on most of my Saturdays, to my backyard trail called Skyline trail. I’ve written a ride report in the past describing Skyline. It’s a six mile grind to the top, where we will branch off to another trailhead where we will descend back to our car. This downhill trail is called Skinsuit, which is 2.5 miles of steep and flowy downhill run. It’s has nothing technical…just steep. Imagine taking 6 miles to get up, then descending back to the car in just 2.5 miles – that’s a quick way to get down!

The group met at JensonsUSA’s parking lot in Corona as 14 of the 16 guys riding haven’t been to Skyline. From here we caravanned to the trailhead.
one of the easier parts of our cimb

Going up Skyline was a tough climb. Majority of us, if not all, had 6” travel bikes. Climbing up to 1300 feet was no easy task on a long travel fork. Along the way up, we took several breaks to regroup and take a little breather. We also passed another popular DH run where many Pro riders frequent. As a matter of fact, there were quite a few of them getting dropped off on our way up.
Getting closer to the top

Just a little over six miles later we reached the trailhead for Skinsuit. We took a few minutes to gather ourselves and strapped on the minimal armor we carried. After a brutal climb, now the fun begins!!
Just before the trailhead, we stopped at our landmark – the giant golf ball

FAST – is the best way to describe it. The trail snakes down the mountain through solid dirt with some small loose gravel in certain areas. Now the last two times I’ve ridden down Skinsuit, I crashed, which one was an OTB (over the bars). I was a little timid coming down, but could not pass up the good pace we were riding. We regrouped a few times to let the others catch-up or if when a steep section was just ahead. We did this to warn the others guys who haven’t been here before. One of my friends was also riding a singlespeed and had the least travel on his bike. Although slow on the descent, he was riding most of the steep sections.
Some of the guys looking back at a section we just came down on

Somewhere towards the middle of the descent, we approached another section where we needed to slow down. There were four of us upfront that were leading the pack. The first three started slowing down. It appeared that they started to bunch up; not wanting to stack-up behind Myles (3rd guy), I veered to the left a little bit. At this point, I must have hit something because OTB I went! As I was going over my bike I heard my front tire lose air. Fortunately I landed on some shrubs but I rolled on my left arm/elbow which pressed onto my ribs. I laid there for a few minutes to gather myself. I checked myself and my bike… all was good. Added air to my front tire with CO2 cartridge and off we went to finish the ride. Below is a video of my crash. All in all, it was an epic ride. There were two of us that went OTB, but we finished the run to laugh and talk about it. The long ride was rewarded with an awesome lunch at a buffet!
Steep section towards the end of Skinsuit where most of us walked

On Sunday, Val and I headed back to one our favorite downhill spots. For about a month we’ve heard that it has been closed down… well we wanted to see for ourselves. Sure enough it was still open; no indication of the contrary. One thing that I wanted to do was look for the 3ft ladder drop on one of the runs. On our first run down we took a wrong turn and missed it, but were still on a cool run. This particular run ended at a playground at the bottom where there were jumps, doubles and berms. Sweet! Too bad I don’t know how to ride them yet 🙂
one of the practice runs

On our second run we found the ladder. We stopped and examined it for a few minutes, trying to motivate ourselves. In reality, it was nothing, but there’s something about leaving the ground with both tires… yikes. Also if you’re like us who don’t normally jump things – 3ft is pretty high! Apprehensive but driven at the same time, we decided to make a go at it. Val went first and I wasn’t too far behind him. Having the video camera rolling, we were now committed… gotta do it! In total we hit it 4x. To tell you the truth, after going over it the 1st time, my fear quickly went away. The FUN-factor kicked in!

On our last run, Val and I went through the same section but hit every single jump along the way. Approaching the ladder, we flew over it as if it wasn’t there 🙂 During this ride, I was was using my Intense Socom DH bike where the two tires were the DIY ghetto tubeless. Safe to say it works!!! These last two days of riding were totally awesome!!! I can’t wait to go back to either of the trails.

DIY Ghetto Tubeless Tires – It Works!!!

A few weeks ago RL and I hit one of the secret DH trails in LA. RL’s bike, the KHS Lucky 7, was equipped with his Do It Yourself (DIY) tubeless tires, aka ghetto tubeless.
2011 jersey 2
Having a set of UST on one of my bikes, I am a true fan of the tubeless system. In our last two trips to Mammoth Mountain, several of the guys pinch flatted as we hit the rocky sections of the mountain.

Always willing to try something new, I decided to give RL’s DIY tubeless a shot. His “How To” video, located at the right of this page, walks you step by step on what to do and what you need. Already having some tubeless sealant leftovers from my UST tires, all I needed was a pair of smaller tubes to use as rim strips / liners. So one day after work I stopped by my LBS and picked up a pair of 20” tubes.

Installation was a breeze. It took me literally less than 15 minutes for each tire. On one I had difficulties getting the bead to sit on the rim but with patience and the air compressor 🙂 all worked out well.

First ride on the DIY Tubeless Tires was a pretty mellow ride. My son and I rode around the Back Bay in Orange County. Relatively flat as this place is more of an extension for roadies from the river beds and also utilized by hikers. First true ride was this past Wednesday at the Fullerton Loop.
Night ride at the Loop. Kenda Small Block 8 on the rear.

How did it work – perfect! I have them mounted on Easton Havoc wheelset. Front tire is a Panaracer Fire 2.4” and the rear is a Kenda Small Block 8 2.35”. They are currently mounted on my Intense 6.6 but I’m planning to use them on a more aggressive bike such as my Intense Uzzi. Yesterday I rode at Whiting Ranch which hosts a more rugged terrain than the Fullerton Loop. I mounted a camera on my downtube to see the front tire in action. In the video you’ll see the excess of 20” tube I used as a rim strip/liner sticking out between the tire and rim. It’s ugly, but I didn’t want to trim it down yet until I knew for a fact that the tire was holding air.
Panacers FR 2.4s + Easton Havoc… DIY Tubeless System

What your Service Manager doesn’t want you to know: “Chem and Lube”

Here’s another “service” that Service Managers have come up with. But all it is taking money out of your wallet.

“Chem and lube.” This is a stupid service where they use fancy words like, “degrease, lubricate, moving parts,” and my favorite, “bicycle specific chemicals.” They may charge anywhere from $7.00-$15.00 to get this service done.

But what you don’t know is, once they take your bike to the back where you don’t see what they’re doing….all they really do is spray some degreaser on your cassette, chain, derailleur and chain rings. Wipe it down, drop some lube in the nooks and crannies and then spray some sort of bike wash or polish once they’re done.

Anyone can do this themselves in their own garage or under a tree while sipping some lemonade. Ghost Rider shows you how you can easily do all that jazz yourself…with pictures too!

So rather than paying someone to do this one time “service” for you, just use that money, get some degreaser, lube and bike wash and you can do this through out the whole year. To me it makes more sense to have the capability to do this chem and lube thing when ever you want because in reality, the cost of the chemicals you buy should last you about a year.

Thursday Tech Tip: How to make a truing stand

Yes I know its not even close to Thursday. Given that it is Turkey Day this Thursday, I doubted that most of you will be visiting the site since you’ll be enjoying the effects of tryptophan.

So here’s my latest How To. I’ll be showing you how to build your own truing stand with an old Thule wheel mount.

The first thing to do was to measure points on the mount where the exact rim positioning would be for 26″, 700c and 29er wheels. Once I had it marked, I drilled a few holes on both sides.
how to make a truing stand

I then inserted some 2″ long screws into the hole. This was for the 26″ wheel. I placed nuts on both sides of the screw to make sure I can get it tight and adjusted.

You’ll notice that I have one screw of the mount in place. I put that there to prevent it from moving. I used a C-clamp to hold the stand. I would have used both screws, but I wanted the option to remove the stand if I wasn’t using it.

You can see that it will fit front and rear wheels in either 26″ or 700c.
how to make a truing stand

700c wheel. A 29er wheel would have fit, but I didn’t have one handy in my garage. Notice the second set of screws on the stand. That’s for the larger wheels.

This stand has to be the cheapest option I have in getting a truing stand. Minoura makes a home mechanic stand for about $45-50…not a bad deal. But I had this wheel rack sitting in the garage unused, so I basically didn’t spend anything and it only took me about 10 minutes to build.

Now if I can just get my truing skills honed…

Thursday Tech Tip: Lubing your shifter cables

A few weeks ago, I tried out Lance’s super sweet Santa Cruz only to find out that the shifting was pretty bad. I had suggested that he try to lube his cables to see if that will help. So after finishing our after-ride breakfast, I showed him how to baby his cables. But the photos shown below are from my garage this morning.

First step is to shift to your biggest gear in the back.

Next is to make sure that you don’t spin the pedals, then down shift your shifter to the smallest gear.

Once you’ve down shifted, you’ll notice there is slack in the cable. Remove the housing from the cable guide. Then slide the housing to expose your cable.

Apply some lube on the cable. I’m using White Lighting just because I like it. Shimano makes a great cable lube called “Special Grease.” That stuff works like magic on cables. However, it’s pretty hard to find, you can try to see if your LBS can order it for you, but be ready to pay the price…a small tub that looks like a stack of 2 Oreo cookies is about $15.

Don’t forget to do the same thing through out the rest of the cable that the housing was covering, just slide and lube.

After you’ve lubed up your cables, go try it out. It should feel WAY better than before.

Thursday Tech Tip: Balancing

Learning how to balance on your bike will come in very handy while you’re out on the trail. One of the things that helped me get this skill down was riding my fixed gear bike. As I would wait at a stop light during my commutes to work, I’d do a track stand. The cool thing about a fixed gear is that you can pedal backwards. While I wait for the light to change, I simply get off my saddle, use my pedals to either pedal very slightly forward or backwards. The biggest factor in balancing is moving your weight side to side. Yes the front wheel will help, but once you start practicing balancing, you’ll notice your hips/butt and shoulders move side to side…kinda like a trials rider.

Just watch Trials Rider Ryan Leech in this video.

Here’s a picture of me from last weeks Santiago Oaks ride. You’ll see that my shoulders and hips are compensating for my weight. This was a drop that basically didn’t give you room to have a running start. I had to get on my bike, clip in and roll all within a foot.

Balancing will also help your descending skills. While you’re going down a rock garden, you’ll be moving your weight in all directions in order for you to not fall over.

It’s true that this tech tip isn’t necessarily a mechanical thing you do on how to fix bikes. But this tech tip will help you learn how to handle more technical trails that you’ll be riding. So get out there and start practicing track stands on your bike. The longer you can do it, the better…just like sex. 🙂

Thursday Tech Tip: Having a tough time shifting?

If you’re having to put way too much effort in going from gear to gear, then consider replacing your cable and housing.

First step is to get a derailleur cable and housing. Most bike shops sell a cable for about $3-$10 (depending on brand and type). Housing is around $2.00 per foot. Best thing to do before going to the shop is measure how much housing you need. Obviously the rear derailleur will need more, I usually guestimate about 3-3.5 feet of housing for my bikes.

Don’t forget to buy some cable ferrules. Usually derailleur cables are 4mm thick, so that means get a 4mm ferrule.

You’ll also need some caps to prevent your freshly cut cables from fraying. Those will run you about $.10 a piece.

All you’ll really need for tools is a good set of cable cutters like this one from

Other than that, just follow the routing of your old cable/housing, cut the housing to the same lengths as the old ones, place your ferrules at the end of each portion, add a bit of wax lubricant to the cable before inserting it, and you’re all set.

Thursday Tech Tip: How to tighten a threadless headset

First step is to loosen the pinch bolts on the side. Turn it counter clock wise. An easy rule to remember is, “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty.”

Then tighten the bolt on the top cap clock wise. But make sure you don’t ever tighten it or else it will compress the bearings making it hard to turn your handle bar.

Once you’ve got it at the right tension, simply tighten the pinch bolts and go out for a ride.