Interestingly enough, the Ironman in Boulder is this weekend. Almost exactly one year since my Hillbilly Ironman in 2013. If you are getting ready to hit up Boulder, here is my take on the experience on many of the same roads for the bike.
Since I really want to have a sold documentation of a first point recovery, I needed to add another post. And likely will add more as the year progresses.
I feel pretty much 100% most of the time, however it is definitely not read for full on soccer type activities. I played 3 hrs of soccer with the kiddos a week ago and it was sore for 5 days. It felt a bit loose and odd. I didn’t notice it most of the time, however when I did it was a good reminder that the last few percentage points of healing will take some more time. I will revisit soccer occasionally and see how it reacts as I go to see how it heals. I skipped my weekly run last week to let it recover. I guess I will see how it feels this week and if it is back to normal when I run midweek. I haven’t felt any pain or discomfort at all in my knee when running, so I hope this is still the case. If it feels bad, I’ll know that I really pushed it way too far a week ago.
The on the bike news is good. I had my first ride where I felt like my old self on Sunday. So the legs and lungs are starting to come back. I am almost to the point where I might consider entering a weekly crit or something crazy…
My last update on my MCL, hopefully. It’s now been nearly 11 weeks since my injury and I hitting my stride (literally and figuratively).
As of this weekend I am clear to do whatever I want, at least from the Doc. My lovely wife isn’t quite there on soccer and certain criteriums.
The knee feels better than before I injured it, which leads me to believe that I may have had a partial tear for a long time. I still have random pains in my MCL area and other spots around both knees. I think a lot of it is breaking up scar tissue and my support ligaments/muscles getting sorted out. My knee is stiff if I don’t move it a lot and every so often my knee feels odd.
I can run 6 miles pain free. I can ride my bike pain free. I can play tennis with my kids. I can swim all the different strokes without pain. I have full range of motion, with some tightness on the quad stretch.
Am I healed? No. It can feel loose sometimes and have strange pains. I suspect I will have occasional pains and a lot of work to do strengthening the support for my knees for a while. However, as an active person, I don’t know what it feels like to not have little pains on a regular basis. So, I suppose it is back to business as usual. Just got to work on the wife about the soccer and those crits.
I completed my first Bus Stop ride of the year last night. As I have mentioned before (http://everydayracer.com/2012/05/03/redemption-at-the-bus-stop/) this ride is pretty intense and is a good way to gage fitness.
This is only my 9th or 10th ride since hurting my knee, making it my 9th or 10th ride in 3 months. Since we had all the flood damage, the ride has been changed quite a bit and the route was still in debate at the beginning of the ride. We ended up going down 36 to St. Vrain road, then 75th to Hygiene and back again. The loop is pretty easy, except the climb on St. Vrain, which is where I departed the group. I usually have a hard time there when I am fit and only stay with the top 10 guys or so that make it over that climb when I am at my best. I ended up hanging in longer than many on the ride and felt very comfortable. The new bike was quite quick on the front, which took a bit of getting used to in a group ride setting. I’ll have more of an update on the bike to finish my series on the S3 frame once I get a few more miles in. My legs (including my knee) and lungs felt fine. They weren’t too tired today and I was able to run 6 miles around the reservoir this morning. So overall – a good outing for my first time in a group since my injury (really since February due to my lack of time on the bike this year). I think the group went pretty slow and easy, which was perfect for me to get back out there.
My frame building partner in crime, Brent, received a request for some photos from a bike component manufacture. Lucky as I am in life, my wife happens to be a great photographer and we hooked up a photo session to highlight some details of a few of Brent’s builds. Here are some of my favs. Enjoy.
After finally getting the brazing figured out I was able to get the finishing started. This did not go as planned. I was up for the work, but I didn’t realize I would be so bad at it that I would actually kill off some of my tools. I broke a file, broke the transmission on my dremel and wore out so many tips that I had to reinvest in my whole sanding/grinding system. I must have refinished my welds at least 10 times each joint. Talk about inexperience really coming into affect. The enemies of a good finish are:
- Low spots. This took me way to many times to figure out.
- Pin holes. Contamination and too much flux seem to cause these issues. The great thing about pin holes are that they like to magically appear right when you think the joint looks perfect. If these aren’t remedied, they can make your welds look pot marked. No bueno.
- Out of proportion. Keeping the welds looked balanced and proportionate is an art. It actually pretty fun to sculpt the joints. However if you get this wrong its do over time.
- Not enough brazing laid down. Got to have enough material to make the joint strong and to work with to sculpt.
As you can see I eventually got there. I developed some nice calluses in the process.
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.
- First time using my torch
- First time on S3 tubing
- First time fully brazing a whole bike
- 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.