Mountain Bike Light Update

Back in 2008 I researched and bought some cheap mountain bike lights from DealExtreme. The TrustFire TR-801 lights worked fine, no complaints.

Then a few years later the lights got brighter and a few of my friends got some. For climbing and flat riding the brighter lights didn't make much difference, but for long downhill runs I noticed my lights didn't shine far enough down the trail so I'd slow down.

I finally bought a 1200 lumen (more like 1000 lumens) light for the handlebars. It cost me around $80 and came with a 4 cell battery pack good for 2.5 hours on 100% brightness.

SingFire SF-90 Cree XM-L T6 4-Mode 1000lm White Bicycle Headlamp - Silver + Grey (4 x 18650)
This thing is crazy bright. I can't outrun this light with my moderate DH skill. When I finish my ride, pack my bike in the car and drive home, the car headlights look dim and twice now I've stopped to make sure they were both working. I've had this light for a few years and I haven't had any trouble with it, although I have lost a few of the o-rings that mount it to the handlebars. I recommend tethering the o-ring to the light with string. I bought a pack of o-rings from Harbor Freight for replacements.

Now an equivalent light (with battery pack, charger and accessories) is only $32. Stunningly cheap.
UPDATE: The light is even cheaper on Amazon, only $21. And some riders prefer to use this wide angle lens to change the beam from a round 10 degree spot to a 10 degree tall by 30 degree wide-angle pattern.

The bike light section of DealExtreme is a lot bigger; now there are pages of lights.

This light looks nicer - a real battery pack with rubber straps. $75 is a fair price.
MagicShine MJ-808E HA-III CREE XM-LT60 3-Mode 1000-Lumen LED Bike Light Set (4x18650)
And for those who go warp speed, or for some reason need more light, there's this 2000 lumen beast:
UltraFire D88 3 x Cree XM-L T6 2000lm 5-Mode White Light Bicycle Lamp - Black + Silver (4 x 18650)

Or how about 2700 lumens:
SingFire SF-530 3 x Cree XM-L T6 2730lm 4-Mode White Bicycle Lamp - Silver + Black (4 x 18650)

Yeah, you can go nuts with lights these days. I feel for most riders 800 - 1000 lumens is enough.

So with the brighter light on the bars I've got plenty of light. I still wear the TR-801 on my helmet so I get light where I look, which is helpful for switchbacks and spotting low branches. This setup works OK but the TR-801 looks dim compared to the handlebar light so maybe I'll upgrade the helmet with this 350 lumen light:
FandyFire 2100 CREE XP-GR5 1-Mode 350-Lumen White LED Flashlight with Strap (1 x 18650 / 2 x 16340)

If you want to try night riding, there are a lot of bright lights available now for not much money.

Goaltimate Hoop for Under $30

I built a goaltimate hoop (arch?) out of hardware store parts for under $30 and thought I'd share the details.



Back story: For a little over a year I've been playing frisbee with a group at work at a nearby park. We play Ultimate Frisbee most days but have been adding in some variations like hotbox and Goaltimate (usually because not enough players showed up). I like that frisbee games focus on skills and "spirit of the game" rather than lots of rules that often detract from game play. Lately we've been playing more Goaltimate and I decided to try my hand at building a goal.



I started with these instructions for building a goal (this drawing was also helpful). Works fine but I wasn't able to find a store that would cut down the belled, female-end pipe and only charge me for the 50" length out of a 10 or 20 foot length of pipe. Standing in the hardware store I came up with a way to build a goal from two 20 foot lengths and one 2' length of pipe. Here is the materials list:

QtyPriceSubtotalDescription
2$6.80$13.601" PVC Schedule 40 pipe, 20' long with bell "fitting" on one end
1$2.60$2.601-1/4" PVC Schedule 40 pipe, 2' long
2$5.00$10.003/8" steel rod, 3' (36") long
$26.20TOTAL

You may also need PVC pipe primer and cement, if you don't already have some. My primer had dried up so I just used cement and it seemed to work OK so if you really want to save a few bucks you could just get a can of cement, but I recommend the primer as it cleans and preps the surface of the pipe so the cement sticks better.

Tools:

  • Saw to cut the pipe (you may be able to use shears, just make sure they don't distort the ends of the pipe so they won't go in the female fittings).
  • Mitre box - optional but cheap and healpful for cutting the pipe square
  • Sand paper
  • Tape measure and pencil or other marker

Instructions:

These steps will produce eight 4' lengths of pipe that can be fitted together to make a 32' long goal arch.

  1. Measure 50" from belled end of the 20' lengths of pipe and mark and cut both pipes.
  2. For the remaining length of pipe, measure, mark and cut 48" long.
  3. Clean up cut ends of pipe segments, remove burrs so end slides cleanly into the 1-1/4" pipe and bell end.
  4. Take the 1-1/4" pipe and measure, mark and cut 5 pieces 4.75" long. This will make 5 couplers. Clean up the cuts ends.
  5. Take 5 of the 1" pipes (NOT the bell ended ones, in fact they are done so put them aside) and measure and mark 2.25" from end. Lightly sand this end of the pipe so the cement sticks better.
  6. Lightly sand 2.5" inside one end of the five 1-1/4" couplers.
  7. Before gluing, double check that this will produce 5 pipes with couplers, 2 pipes with bell ends, and 1 pipe with no coupler or bell end (just a straight length of pipe).
  8. Apply primer to the sanded ends of the pipes and inside of the couplers. See can for application instructions.
  9. After primer has dried, apply cement to ends of pipes and inside couplers, don't use too much. See can for application instructions.
  10. Allow cement to dry and that's it.

I also cleaned the oil off the steel rods. I left mine bare but Matt primed and painted his. I may paint mine too if they start to rust (probably will).

Follow-up Notes:

I've used my PVC goal 3-4 times now and it's worked well. Here are good instructions for setting up the field. We've played "full court" Goaltimate (two goals) a few times and I think it's more fun that regular "half court" Goaltimate - the fast breaks on turnovers add a new dimension.

I was a little concerned that the 1-1/4" couplers would be too loose and might fall apart if a player ran into the goal, but they've been hit several times and have stayed together. Since the assembled poles are bent into an arch, the flex helps the joints stay together.

The 3/8" steel rod stakes are holding up OK but are getting bent. I can straighten them with a hammer easily. But perhaps 1/2" rod would be better. Some people use rebar and they report it works fine.

I was tempted to try 3/4" PVC pipe but it felt too flimsy in the store. Now that I've built the goal from 1" pipe I can attest that this is the right size. Even 1" sways so 3/4" would have been too floppy.

The poles are a cumbersome to carry so I bought a tent pole bag (60" long, $10) to hold everything. Old golf club or ski bags may also work.



Tres Mesas

This weekend was the Tres Mesas trip. I had to get back for my niece's (Katlyn) farewell today so I missed Gooseberry so only got two mesas.

Most of us drove down Friday morning and rode the Hurricane Rim, Goulds, JEM loop in the afternoon. Such a fantastic desert ride. I made it up the steep section of Hurricane Rim with the rock garden, a first for me. Bombing down JEM is as fun as ever.

We made camp at Guacamole and told stories and jokes well into the night. I haven't done Guacamole for a few years, such a good trail. Here's Tom doing the loop-de-ledge.





And here's Chris hitting it.


I made it on the 4th try.

Here's the group scattered at the Holy Guacamole junction.


There's a new loop farther south that skirts the south rim. I think it's called Salt on the Rim.






It also features several spots of riding narrow rock hallways. It may be my new Guacamole favorite.

After lunch we drove over to Little Creek and rode about 2/3 of the trails. I finally got to ride all of the north rim trail (ran out of daylight once, snowed out another time).


I hung out for while at camp, ate dinner and sang along as Alex played the guitar. I headed home at sunset. I hear everyone enjoyed Gooseberry today.

Fall Moab 2012 - Late Edition

My interest in blogging is waning. But I should record a few things, like Fall Moab 2012, because it was fantastic.

Cori and I hitched a ride with Steve and Doug at 6 am Friday morning. It was a little tight in Steve's Subaru but we managed.

We met the rest of the guys (Kenny, Paul, Elden and Bob) at Klondike Bluffs, which used to be just one ride but is now a fantastic trail network. Here we've regrouped at an intersection.


For the record, our route was: EKG, Mega Steps, Little Salty, UFO, Baby Steps, then the old Klondike Bluffs trail out to view the actual bluffs, then back down Baby Steps and Dino Flow back to the cars. The only new trail to me (since riding this area in the Spring with Jolene) was UFO, which is a good trail.

Once we got into the rocks, Bob turned into a kid in a candy store. It's fun to see Bob light up as he spots a new stunt and makes a run at it. Here's a sample:

Check out this insane obstacle course that most of the guys rode (that bridge rock on the left was wobbly):


Moab demands sacrifice and Elden kindly stepped up to make the first offering.


The weather forecast wasn't the best, and we did get a little rain.


After the ride we settled into the Aarchway Inn and Elden cooked up his notoriously delicious brats which we ate on Kenny's equally infamous bread.


On Saturday we rode a variant of the Magnificent 7, a route of seven phenomenal trails starting 5 miles west of Gemini Brides with the Bull Run trail, then Great Escape, Little Canyon, , Golden Spike. Here I am going up a rock ramp.


There's Bob crossing a wash on Great Escape.


And climbing up the other side.


I try and try to get up this ledge on the Gold Bar Singletrack. Finally made it after around 6 attempts.


Dear [Deity of choice], bless that we may ride well, and not die out here. Actually this was the lunch stop.


After traversing the Gold Bar Rim on the Golden Spike trail we headed down the legendary Portal trail. Yes, there is a trail there.


Regrouping at an overlook on Portal.


Me descending one of many, many technical sections on Portal. I crashed on the first attempt, made it this time.


I'd heard so many stories about Portal that I braced myself to hate it, but I liked it OK. Sure I walked a lot, but the stuff I could ride I had fun doing so.

Elden had left his truck at the bottom of Portal so he and Kenny drove back up to get the Zen Van while the rest of us rode back to town, during which it snowed on us for 10 minutes. Nothing a soak in the hot tub wouldn't fix. Then dinner and a movie (Skyfall).


Sunday over breakfast we seemed all agreed that it would be best just to head home, but slowly the idea of one last ride on the way out of town took root. We stopped at the Brand trail system and rode EZ and  Deadman's Ridge. My legs were shot and anything the required power ached deep in every muscle. But it felt good to get one more ride in, even with the skiff of snow.


I didn't know how much I needed this trip until it was over. Mountain biking makes me happy. And getting out and riding with the guys lifted my spirits. I'm ready for Winter now.

Also read Fall Moab 2012 reports from Doug and Elden.

Cheap Mountain Biking Sunglasses

I don't buy expensive sunglasses because I'm a klutz and scratch, destroy or loose them - usually within a year, especially mountain biking sunglasses. So, yeah, I'm a gas station glasses guy.

Several years ago I bought a pair of Pugs at a hardware store in St. George and really liked them.

The orange tinted lenses block just enough light so I'm not squinting yet add sharpness like yellow lenses. And they make the sandstone of Moab and the Fall leaves look even more colorful. The only thing I don't like is the Pugs logo etched on the left lens.

The frame is light yet pretty tough (tested by me many times). The arms have the right amount of curl to hug around my ears and they don't pinch my head. And the rubber nose pads stay put on my nose.

Last month I scratched my good pair but haven't found a replacement at the few gas stations I checked. Fearing that this model may be retired, I checked the Pugs website. Relief, they still sell them. So I bought 3 pair from the Pugs web store, and saved 30% with the code SUNNY30 I found here. My total after tax (free shipping) was $38. Not bad. Let's see if I can make them last more than 3 years.

Park City Anniversary

It's our 23rd wedding anniversary. For Jolene this means she's been married half her life. To me. Poor woman.

To celebrate we stayed at the Silver Moose Ranch bed and breakfast in Park City. We've gone to Park City several times for our anniversaries. It's just far enough from home that we feel like we're away, but not so far that it takes hours to get to. And there's lots to do and see in Park City.

We used to stay at the Old Miner's Lodge bed and breakfast, but it closed more than 10 years ago (strangely the website is still up). We tried a few other places, some were OK, a few were bad.

The Silver Moose Lodge is pretty nice. Nestled back against conservation land, the setting is excellent with two duck ponds and a stream running right by the house. The omelet breakfast was good, the hosts friendly, and the hot tub out on the deck was relaxing. Our only complaint is the very firm bed, we didn't sleep well.

OK, back to the story.

We arrived in Park City Friday morning, parked at Park City Mountain Resort with the plan to bike up Armstrong and the new Pinecone trail. We were enjoying the climb up Armstrong...



...then it started to rain. Which was OK because the trails were very dry and dusty and it was hot. The rain drops were like little bombs sending up smoke-like plumes of dust upon impact. But then it started to hail. We took shelter under what trees we could find. Here's some video:



Fortunately the hail only lasted a few minutes.The rain slowed so we kept going. But then it started up again and we waited under a pine tree.



Two guys came down Pinecone from the Crest and told us it was dark, grey clouds to the west as far as they could see. There had also been some lightning and thunder, we decided going higher was not smart. So we stayed lower by taking Mid Mountain south and riding Johns 99, Empire Link, and Tour de Suds down to Daily Canyon. Finished off with Daily Bypass and lower Sweeney.



Back at the car we cleaned the mud splatters off us best we could then drove the short distance to the B&B, took a shower and went over to The Canyons and enjoyed a free concert, The Chickens.

After the concert we ate at Nick's Greek Cafe. Jolene had Slovakia and I had the the Gyro platter. Good food and sizable portions (we were starving and couldn't finish it).

Back at the B&B we relaxed and had a soak in the hot tub.


Since we got rained out on Friday, we decided to give Pinecone another shot. Climbing Armstrong was OK, but we could tell our legs weren't fresh. But the trail was nice, tacky dirt with no dust, thanks to the rain the day before.



We made it to Pinecone. Jolene liked the first part. (In this photo I like how it looks like Jolene's front tire is disappearing, like she's entering another Narnia.)



Somewhere near the middle of Pinecone, still doing OK.





About 2/3 up we stopped to eat in the shade under a pine tree.



We got going again, but cold legs into the steepest section (in the deep pines) was a little harsh, and Jolene shows how she feels about it.



Made it to the top.



Yep, there's the top of Puke Hill.





We sat down to enjoy the views, watch people grind up Puke Hill and eat a little. A few minutes later Jolene spots a tall rider who had just come up Pinecone and says "that looks like Andy". Sure enough it was, and Rhonda arrived a few minutes later. We had a good chat with them and got caught up on what they've been up to. Fun to run into them up there.



We finished off the ride by going down Puke Hill (feels weird to go down that beast that before Pinecone I had only suffered to climb). Then we took the Scott's Pass single-track down to the Shadow Lake trail then down Keystone, Two Step and Steps. Next we took Mid Mountain north to Crescent Mine Grade (CMG) down then Eagle and finished with lower Spiro, which was deserted because the middle part of Spiro was closed.

We loaded up the bikes, changed, got a slushy at Maverik then headed to Midway for lunch at Tarahumara where I had Chiles Rellenos and Jolene had a taco. Then we drove back home.

The rain Friday put a little dent in our plans, but overall we had a good time. I enjoyed spending time with Jolene. I'm so lucky to be married to such wonderful and adventurous woman.

Catching Up

It's been a while since my last post. Time to catch up.

This Spring a pair of Robins built a nest in our playhouse and laid some eggs.


They hatched about two weeks later.


The chicks got big and two weeks after hatching they flew off.


We've been mountain biking - together, with friends and solo. I still hit the foothill trails but this time of year the high mountains are better.


Fun to get out with the guys now and then.


We had a family reunion at Palisades State Park. It's a nice place. The swimming and fishing were good.


I went with Todd S. to see his FPV (First Person View) quadcopter fly over Stewart Falls.




I did the MS-150 with some cyclists from work.


Two weeks ago I pedaled up Armstrong and the new Pinecone trail to the Crest. Wednesday I did a loop starting at Guardsman Pass going down Dead Tree (shown below), Apex and CMG to Mid Mountain then up Armstrong and Pinecone, and finally down Puke Hill and up Scott's Bypass.


Nice view from Dead Tree (Jupiter Lake below).


Yesterday Jolene and I did the Ridge / SFDC loop.


She went home while I took Timp Perimeter, Battle Creek, Curly Springs, Dry Canyon and BST back home.


The loose rock of upper Battle Creek.


Pretty good Summer so far.