Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Red Gate Fire Road, Stanley, VA

My interest in Red Gate Fire Road started as I was looking at the Rose River Falls hike that starts from Skyline Drive.  I noticed a scraggly line that appeared to lead down to the valley floor from the parking lot on Skyline.  From there, I looked at it every time we went hiking in the area.  I was intrigued, but never really ready to commit to the 2 hour drive to get out there, just to see if the road went anywhere.

Well, today, I finally mustered up the time and energy and had a great ride. Starting in Stanley, VA, I rode my mountain bike up through Mauck, VA to the intersection of Kite Hollow Road, Fox Hollow Road and Red Gate Fire Road...and started up the rough pavement.  These first two shots are 1/4 mile from the bottom.  A gentle 2-5% gradient and mixed chip seal.  Road-bikeable to here.

This is one of the more scenic switchbacks on the climb.  A really nice view of the road - down on your left, up on your right - and the cascading creek at the apex of the corner.

I could hear water running down this ravine (which is steeper than it looks) but I couldn't see any.

This is a panoramic shot of the downhill side.

A panorama of the uphill side.

Proof I made it to the top.  A little under 1 hour, with several stops for pictures along the way.  It was 47 at the base, but MUCH colder at the top.   The sun had gone behind a ridge and it was getting late.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shimano Dura-Ace 8S hubs

If these hubs aren't the greatest hubs ever produced...forget that....this design *is* the greatest hub design ever.   These are the original Dura-Ace 8s "freehub" design that came with the first-gen Dura-Ace 8-speed Shimano Total Integration ("STI') shifters.  These hubs came in "UniGlide" and "HyperGlide" styles.  I don't have pictures to illustrate the difference, but they are minor, compared to the revolutionary axle design of this hub.  Since the introduction of this design, Shimano has never varied from the design elements that make this design so important.   Modern 11s Dura-Ace hubs employ this same design.  They may have updated the materials and/or made the hubs lighter, but the "free hub" is still there.

What makes these hubs so cool (and so revolutionary) is the placement of the traditional cup-and-cone bearings.  Prior to modern free hub designs, the individual cogs (the gears that contact the chain and drive the bike forward) were connected to a "freewheel" that had its own, separately removable ratchet mechanism.  The freewheel (as a free-standing whole of cogs and ratchet bearings) would then thread onto the aluminum hub via large threads that mated the steel freewheel threads to the aluminum body.  Not only was that problematic (soft aluminum and hard steel do NOT like one another), the design had major flaws.  The inherent disadvantage of the freewheel design is that it meant the axle bearings had to be located where the aluminum hub body ended, with a long section of axle left over to extend *through* the freewheel body before the axle hit the dropout on the bicycle frame.  This created (creates) a huge leverage point where rear axles break under stress.

Moving the cup-and-cone to the ends of the axle GREATLY reduce broken and/or bent axles and also made changing cogs much easier.

In the above picture you can see the first freehub design.  On the left is the free hub itself (removed from its aluminum hub for servicing) and on the right is a separate free hub secured to the hub, ready to have the axle re-installed.  If you look closely at the aluminum body on the right, you can see the bulge in the hub body that houses the securing-screw on the freehub (the threaded extension on the left part.)

This picture shows the outboard side of the free hub itself.  You can clearly see the bearing-race on both free hubs.  Notice that the bearing races are on the OUTBOARD SIDE of the freehub design.

This picture shows two things:  1.  How the threaded extension on the freehub body screws into the aluminum hub, and 2, that the aluminum hub has no bearing races.  The large threads secure the freehub to the hub.  With the bearing races on the outboard side of the freehub, it effectively moves the bearings a full inch (or more) towards the end of the axle - as demonstrated in the next picture:

Here you can clearly see the complete hub/freehub and the axle I just removed from it.  Notice that the bearing cones on the axle are as fully-outboard as possible for the axle.  The bearing placement removes a huge weakness for standard axles.  Each of my two pair of Dura-Ace 8s freehubs have *at least* 20,000 miles each and are well over 24 years old.  I have never broken an axle, never replaced cones or bearings, and they're still as smooth (or smoother) than the day I bought them.

In contrast, look at this picture:

On the left is the Dura-Ace free hub axle, with cone placement indicating bearing placement.  On the right is the freehub assembly (missing the axle).  In the middle is the axle from a 2014 Mavic Crossmax SLR rear wheel - Mavic's top-of-the-line cross-country MTB wheelset from 2014.  The aluminum axle is broken in a VERY familiar place:  It's broken exactly where the drive-side bearings provide a leverage point for the hub bearings.  Mavic goes to great lengths to disguise from people that their hubs employ a hugely outdated technology.  Sure, their hubs *look* like the employ a "freehub" design, but they don't.  Mavic employs a quasi-modo hub design.  Their hub design uses a freehub - in the sense that the cogs are NOT attached to the ratchet and drive mechanism.  BUT their bearing placement design still has all the drawbacks and weaknesses of the very old-school bearing placement from the freewheel era.

Given a choice I will NEVER purchase a subset with the archaic freewheel-style bearing placement.  My Dura-Ace hubs are *ancient* by cycling standards. They've been THOROUGHLY abused by me over 24+ years.  They are as solid as I could possibly hope for:  Reasonably light, easy to work on, reliable and tough.  My Mavic axles, on the other hand have less than two full seasons on them, and I've already managed to break an axle.  Not a great track record.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

This is so cool.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My favorite view in Europe

It means dear friends are near.

How to Destroy America in 1 easy step:

Turn more and more Americans into beggars by addicting them to "disability" checks: 

Never to work again.  Subservient to the federal leviathan.   And you wonder how Obama won?


El Desayuno en Madrid

Mercado San Miguel

Durumzade in Taksim, Istanbul

Monday, February 04, 2013

This.  This.  A thousand times this.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well, they got what they wanted...

Our President has succeeded in "fundamentally transforming" America from a society that - in general -rewards productivity to one that - in general - rewards entitlement. 

Twenty years from now when the quality of medical care you receive today is impossible to find, and your local doctor's office is overrun with patients exhibiting the aggressively entitled welfare mentality that permeates the current underclass (no work ethic, no personal responsibility, no behavioral control), and the amount of money the government spends on administering healthcare has skyrocketed - in short - when the medical system has completely ceased working for all but the most politically connected and the richest among us, you will be able to look at the period from 1/21/2008 to 6/27/2012 as the tipping point when Americans collectively ceased believing in freedom and liberty and decided they'd rather be peasants and beggars than free men. 

And finally, I don't think I can properly convey how ironic it is that America's first black president is the man who used the perceived moral authority of his status as a descendant of slaves to convince Americans to willingly surrrender their rights as a free people in order to enslave themselves to the Federal behemoth.  How far the United States have fallen.