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Once the miters are all good and the geometry is the way I wanted, the welding commenced.  Braze welding is an art and I was starting from a big disadvantage.

  1. First time using my torch
  2. First time on S3 tubing
  3. First time fully brazing a whole bike
  4. First time using this type of flux and brass

Most builders would rightly start out on some cheapo tubing set and then move upwards to finally getting to S3.  I have a slightly different philosophy and mush less wise one.  I like to learn on what I plan on building with and know that if you can do the hardest stuff, then you can do the easy stuff if you want to later.  I also acknowledge that I may have to redo and start over a lot in order to figure it out. I did a decent amount of practicing with some old tubes before I started.  This was obviously needed just to get used to the setup, heat control and to learn how the brazing material behaves.

I did have one advantage, my buddy at Rabid Frameworks has popped out so many bikes with the setup I am using that he has a lot of lessons learned to share.  He also was able to be a resource for me to bounce questions off of and to brainstorm solutions together.  We actually were able to do some late mods on the frame late into the build together.  Another advantage – I was in no hurry.  The frame ended up taking 4 months to build because I wanted to use this build as a prototype and to take the time to learn.

I have attached a variety of my welds as I went.  As you will see they were pretty pathetic.   I am confident in their strength, but the finish was awful.  I kept having contamination from the torch due to build up and incorrect settings on oxy vs propane.  I also didn’t have a good sense of how to create a consistent depth.  I also didn’t understand the finish process and had to keep going back and redoing joints after finishing them up and not liking the results.  Eventually I was able to understand more about how to build up the brazing to create the finish affect I wanted.  But the heating and reheating caused a lot of warping of the steel and probably isn’t the best experience for a steel frame to go through.  I was able to get it all back to where I wanted and to finish it off in a professional way, but I got there the hard way.  (No surprise based on my philosophy of trying to race with the pros as soon as I decided to race a bike.)

One thing that happens a lot with this kind of tubing is that it warps. Things like the head tube ovalizing or the bottom bracket bananerizing or the seat tube bulging seem to be quite common for amateurs.  I learned how to avoid this and how to fix this as I went through the process.

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Next step was to begin the design process.  Up to this point, I have been using good ol’ AutoCad.  In my efforts to be a bit more professional, I used two programs (rattleCAD and BG101) to create my design and set up the jig.  Maybe I will post more detailed descriptions of these programs later, but safe to say they provide a ton of data and give you the jig setup, not just the bike geo.

 

As usual, I like to do something different with my builds than the standard bike.  What is the point of building custom frames if they are the same as any other?   I decided to go with an integrated seatpost (more on that later) and a ever so slight compact geometry.

 

Since S3 tubes come in some crazy shapes (only the seat tube and head tube are round), the miter templates were not terribly useful.  I am crazy about getting miters correct and I was pleased that I could really get a perfect fit.  A good bike jig is really helpful for miter fit. You can put the bike together without a single weld and check the miters.  I was able to refined the miters through this process and definitely get them spot on.  I was also able to check the geometry in this process and make design decisions as I went.  For instance, I was able to think about where I wanted my seat stays to connect to my seat tube with the bike put together and not have made any commitments on welds yet.

As you can see, this steel is paper thin.  Once I get in to brazing, I’ll talk more about working on such thin tubing.

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I have been wanting to build a new steel road frame for a long time.  Instead of a traditional lugged frame, I decided to go with a full brazed bike.  I have been doing a bit of brazing on all my bikes for certain joints, but this would be 100% brazed.  This look provides a near carbon frame appearance and gives the builder a much larger amount of leeway when choosing build options.   I also wanted to build a cutting edge frame, so I chose True Temper S3 tubing.  Instead of getting all custom with tubing choices, I decided to go with the full S3 build and trust True Tempers engineering.  Another big difference with this build is that I used the Anvil Journeyman Jig, lent to me from Rabid Frameworks.  Pretty crazy setup and it makes things SOOO much easier.  However, I would find out as I went that the jig is just a tool and like any other tool, the builder has to really know what they are doing to get the most out of the tool and get the bike right.

 

Poppa's Gotta Brand New Jig

Fitness In June

If anyone out there is looking to build in June, here is a bit of perspective that I find myself in again.

One of the most difficult things to do in any sport is enter the season midstream and perform. I always dreaded the when one of my athletes had an injury at the beginning of the season and had to get back into racing in June/July. It is very difficult to replicate game/race intensity in training. Additionally, there is a rhythm to get back into of how the bike moves, how the race plays out, etc. Then comes the first few races for the athlete, where they find themselves suffering and not placing well.

So this is where I find myself. I discussed my training camp to kick it back in and I have now been consistently getting on the bike. I raced last Tuesday and had mixed results. I didn’t finish last, but I didn’t finish 1st either. The race is on a course that I have had plenty of success and I haven’t finished out of the top 10 in a long time, years. And I often have contended for the win or won. This week I finished out of the top 15. Two days later I hit up the Bus Stop ride and did a bit better, winning the intermediate sprint and getting 2nd in the final sprint. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many super fast folks on the ride, so those results are with a grain of salt.

I have a lot of holes right now in my fitness.
1.Endurance : I would say my endurance is at a 7 out of 10. I have good tempo endurance, but not as big of a base as I should have this time of year.
2.Climbing: 8 out of 10 (which is like a 5 out of 10 for most folks). I am climbing well for me, but that doesn’t really help me out too much in my racing.
3.Speed: 6 out of 10. This is a big weakness right now. I just don’t have the high end. It is an odd feeling because this is usually where I am strongest. I love the 53×11 roll and I am struggling with how uncomfortable I am when the pace is high.
4.Sprinting: 7 out of 10. I can almost always uncork a fast sprint, no matter my fitness. However, repeatability is quite low. I have 1-3 good sprints in me on a ride. I need to both improve my speed and my ability to recover quickly. Another previous strength.

So what am I doing about this? For one I am completing a balanced training plan that will have me overreaching and playing with overtraining. I will be working on the endurance and speed portions on the list the most. Long rides, extended race pace efforts, and repeating high intensity efforts. The balance of pushing myself, and not going over the edge, in an effort to improve to quickly will be the difficult part of the equation.

There is also the mental portion of this, I have to have confidence I’ll get there. It is so odd to have the elements that are usually your go to strengths not be there in June. One advantage of being a “seasoned veteran”(code for old guy) is that you have been there before and there isn’t too much panic. I know that if I put in a solid month and do the critical training that I will be at 9 out of 10 quickly. I’ve simply gone through it enough times.

Just excited to get something posted on my new road bike. I’ll get in to depth more when I get some time. Summary: Best riding bike I’ve ever ridden.

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I am trying to keep a set interval for posting about my knee since when I looked for any information there wasn’t much out there that was first person. Sure, I found plenty of 8-12 weeks for _____, but not much from the patient side. Since I am a huge believer in patient directed care, having some independent research is always a good thing when talking with the Doc and other providers.
So here I am, at 43 days in and feeling MUCH better. I can now run a bit without any pain and I can ride my bike pain free. I was able to play tennis with the kids without much of an issue. I will say, my knee definitely gets sore after most any activity outside of biking. It feels very stable and just has a sharp pain every now and again, often not even around my MCL area. I think my knee is beginning to figure out that it is back in action and the little muscles and other support mechanisms are getting back up to speed.
I still have trouble sleeping. Anytime it is in one place for too long it gets sore. So I have a fare amount of pain at night and have to move quite a bit to keep it from getting too freaked out. The more activity I have had that day the worse this seems to be.
My range of motion is about 80% without any pain and 90% pushed. I think the last 10% will be hard to get to, but I suspect it will come naturally if I stay active.
Where would I say my recovery is? I would say I am about 80% as good as I used to be with that knee. It still limits my activity and I wouldn’t be able to play a soccer game if my life depended on it, however I can get out and play around with the kids with confidence. I think that if I could train hard that I could be back racing my bike pretty soon. My knee doesn’t seem to be the limiter there, more my fitness. Although the most I have ridden is about 2 hours. The cool thing is that my knee feels the best after a bike ride. It seems to get everything moving quite smooth in there and really frees up the motion. It feels the worse if I don’t do anything or if I stand still for a long time (working on building bikes.) It seems to have mixed reviews from tennis or any other running/jogging. Sometimes it feels great, others it is sore. Swimming is actually a great strength workout for my knee and it can feel pretty worn out after swimming. That seems to be the most strenuous, but not impactful activity I do.
My gut is telling me that soccer is out for the summer, but possibly back on in the fall. I think I could be riding pretty far pretty soon if I can get my fitness back up. I also think that I could mountain bike now since it feels quite stable. Running long distances seems a bit much now and I think I’ll have to start running very slowly at first to see how that feels.

As I mentioned, my magician massage therapist (www.rainingfaith.com) recommended no ice for my knee. I did a bit of research and found this which is much closer to my personal beliefs. (movement is better than immobilization and exercise is an important part of recovery) The website I pulled this from is: http://www.caringmedical.com/sports-injuries/meat-vs-rice-treatment/

MEAT vs. RICE Treatment

MEAT Treatment vs RICE TreatmentTraditional modern medical treatment for acute injuries, such as those that occur during active sports, usually receive the RICE protocol. In fact, it’s become a standard for sports injuries and pain management. RICE, by the way, stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. A “P” is occasionally added to the equation. It stands for Protection, and consists of bracing or taping the area. In addition, most injured individuals are also encouraged to take anti-inflammatory medications. Unfortunately, in order to help heal injured ligaments and tendons, there couldn’t be a worse approach. Read on to find out how the RICE protocol came about, why it’s counterproductive to healing and why the MEAT (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Treatments) protocol is the best way to heal weakened and injured ligaments and tendons.

The RICE protocol
Ligament sprains are often accompanied by quite a bit of painful swelling, also called edema. A key premise of the RICE treatment is that this swelling is harmful to the tissue and needs to be minimized. In fact, sports medicine specialists and athletic trainers have fallen into the trap that muscles are like tendons and that tendons are like ligaments. Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. Understanding the difference between ligaments and muscles is crucial to understanding why the RICE treatment is totally inappropriate for healing tendons and ligaments.

Comparison of Muscles and LigamentsMuscles, because of their good circulation, heal quickly and rarely cause a long-term problem, whereas ligaments, due to their poor blood supply, often heal incompletely and are the cause of most chronic sports injuries and pain. And while the accumulation of fluids, or edema, can in fact be harmful to muscles in the form of compartment syndrome, this does not apply to ligament and tendon injuries. Compartment syndrome occurs when swelling due to an injury places pressure on the muscle tissue, which decreases circulation and healing, which cause further swelling due to fluid accumulation, which decreases healing even more. This vicious cycle can lead to permanent muscle, nerve or circulation damage, which is why the RICE treatment has become an established protocol for muscle injuries, but unfortunately has inappropriately been applied to ligament injuries as well, which operate under an entirely different set of circumstances.

Ligaments are the small and mighty bone binders – they bind together bones at the joints. They are made of collagen, one of the strongest substances in the human body. Ligaments normally receive blood vessels from small arterial plexuses from the joints, but they themselves have essentially no blood vessels. If the blood vessels from the small arterial plexuses are sheared as the result of an injury, the limited blood supply that ligaments get is completely cut off. Furthermore, the blood supply to the ligaments is the poorest at the point where the ligament attaches to the bone, called the fibro-osseous junction. This point is also the weak link in the ligament-bone complex, and the area most commonly injured during sports and responsible for most lingering sports injuries. And this is the exact site where Prolotherapy is administered! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s briefly review why the RICE protocol is inappropriate for ligaments.

Why RICE prevents healing
MEAT vs RICE treatments chartAll of the components of RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation – are designed to decrease swelling, and pain, by decreasing the circulation to the area, which is exactly what ligaments need to heal faster. Rest, compression and elevation, that is, immobilization, is extremely detrimental to joints and ligaments. It lowers the metabolic rate in the area. Ligaments heal slowly by nature, and they take twice as long to heal if immobilized. The fibro-osseous junction, the principal site of Prolotherapy treatments, heals even more slowly. Ice has a similar effect. And while lowering the temperature of an area is critical for certain surgeries and limb-salvage operations, where a lowered metabolism can mean the difference between success and failure, this is not so for injured ligaments. Ice leads to lower temperatures, which leads to lower metabolism, which leads to slower healing! And to make matters worse, injured athletes often continue their activities after getting “relief” from RICE, making themselves susceptible to further injury. Here’s why. The colder a ligament, the less force is needed to deform it, which is one of the reasons many athletic injuries occur in cold weather. In summary, anything that decreases the metabolic rate or blood supply to ligaments, such as rest, immobilization and ice, will further promote the decline of the ligaments, and profoundly delay their healing.

The MEAT protocol, and why it promotes healing
The more conservative, and effective, treatment for acute injuries to ligaments and tendons is the MEAT protocol. As mentioned earlier, MEAT stands for movement, exercise, analgesics and treatment. While immobility is detrimental to soft tissue healing, movement is beneficial because it improves blood flow to the injured area, removing debris. One of the effects of movement is the generation of heat, which increases blood flow. This is why the application of heat is also recommended for ligament and tendon injuries. Gentle range-of-motion exercises also help improve blood flow to the injured area. Natural analgesics, or painkillers, such as proteolytic enzymes, which break down proteins, aid soft tissue healing by reducing the viscosity, or stickiness, of the extracellular fluid. Examples include bromelain (from pineapple), trypsin, chymotrypsin and papain (from papaya). Reduced viscosity of the extracellular fluid in turn increases nutrient and waste transport from the injured site, reducing swelling, or edema. In other words, natural analgesics decrease the painful swelling of soft-tissue injuries but do not stop the natural inflammatory reactions that lead to healing, unlike anti-inflammatories, which can actually hinder healing.

Narcotics such as codeine may also be prescribed short term for very painful injuries. In the short term, they are very helpful because they relieve pain without interfering with the natural healing mechanisms of the body. In fact, our bodies produce our own narcotic, called endorphins, which are released in response to an acute injury to reduce pain. Other options for pain control include pain relievers that are not synthetic anti-inflammatories, such as Tylenol or Ultram. They help relieve pain without decreasing inflammation, a critical part of the soft-tissue healing process.

And finally, treatments are used to increase blood flow and immune cell migration to the injured area that will assist ligament and tendon healing. Treatments include physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, ultrasound, myofascial release and electrical stimulation. All improve blood flow and help soft tissue to heal. If the treatment has not healed within 6 weeks, more aggressive treatments, including comprehensive Prolotherapy, should be considered. Of course, we treat many athletes at Caring Medical where time is of the essence. In these circumstances, we utilize comprehensive Prolotherapy as an effective treatment for acute pain, particularly in the case of acute sports injuries. In summary, the MEAT protocol is more effective and expedient than the RICE protocol when it comes to healing ligament and tendon injuries.

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