>>=-DJI Spark!-=<<

The drone, quad, UAV whatever you want to call it as arrived! The DJI spark is what I consider an entry level hobby aircraft, its very easy to setup, stable to fly and includes more "look at me" features, than "get the best shot" ones. DJI was running a good sale over the holidays, and as much as I have had my eye on the Mavic for a long time, the Spark was a lot cheaper, and I had seen some very good footage produced with it. My intentions were only youtube/social media footage so I was ok with the compromise in camera specs. The Spark only records in 1080P/ 30 Frames per second, as in that's it, you can not change it. The resolution is adequate but I have found myself wishing for 60fps, this would allow me to slow down the footage and it retain its smoothness, which is part of the learning curve of learning to fly cinematically, and not for "fun". I have gotten some really good footage so far, but it has been seriously cold and my hands were going numb flying it! Check back soon as I have more content planned for this little sparky spark.

10/1/2017 Muddy Tire XC Race by Race Awesome and Brands Cycle and Fitness A Recap

If we start at the end, it would seem like a OK result, I would finish 6th overall and 1st in 30-39 Men in Cat3. If we look at the start, it could have gone much better.

The day before the race our local trail advocacy group C.L.I.M.B. would host the annual Fat Tire Festival at the same location as the race, Cathedral Pines Park. I had signed up a while back to lead a intermediate group ride, which as a first, I had joined plenty, but never led one. The official course was now marked off and a few riders were also planning on racing the next day, everyone seemed to be ok with a full lap including the new cut trail that was added. We headed off and it turned out to be a great ride, the new section proved to suck the life out of your legs, it was actually reverse direction so there wouldn't be a crossover during the race, and we hit a few of the hills with no run up, that with soft ground led us to a nice long break while we re-grouped.

Day of the race I got the bike setup and went out for some warmup, it had rained on and off throughout the night so I wanted to see how slippery the roots would be, the trails here are mostly hard packed, but littered with roots crossing the trail, much of the time in the middle of turns. I also wanted to see how sloppy the new section was, I rode about a mile in and went into the new loop, it was in good shape, and I tried to just turn onto the fire road to cut back into the main loop and head back to the start, but I would end up 2 miles off in the wrong direction. This may not seem like a lot, but I knew the race was starting soon, I was going way about my warmup pace trying to get back. Having left my phone in the car, and not had the map running on my garmin, I didn't have a easy point of reference, so I back tracked the way I came in. I eventually found the loop and got to the start, which was very crowded.

I tried to creep up the front, but there was no cutoff from the Cat2 riders until their gun went off, and they had to work through the early bird cat3 racers, you would think someone would ask the later racers to stay behind a certain spot. I slid in a few racers back from the line, but started to realize that there were few kids in front of me, and some very non-serious looking bikes, I got worried about getting around them cleanly at the start. Turns out I was right, after the gun went off, racers stormed off all around, I could see a group going around on the very wide right side on the grass, so I tried to move over and made up a few spots, but we had to funnel down a bit into a short road section, then hang a right back onto the dirt road. Once back on that road I spun up the RPMs and pushed over 20 mph to get past probably another 10 racers, I could see though quite a few had broken away.

Knowing that I could do this whole trail at a high level of effort, I wasn't conserving too much effort, but was feeling short of breath more than anything. We drop into the trail and the line was going over this technical section with a wooden bridge on it, they were bunched up, and there was a clear, easy line that skipped it. I had walked over to watch the Cat1 guys start and no one took the bridge, so I knew it was fair game, I dove in and cut into group , I brake checked a younger rider who had gotten onto the line before I got there, I didn't want to force anyone off the trail. Another rider on a fatbike had also skipped the bridge and was fighting for the same line I had, I must have annoyed him because he chose a shitty spot to pass me on the inside of a steepish climb a few hundred feet later. This turned out to be bad for me, because I couldn't get around the rider in front who was slowing me down.

It took another 2 miles or so and the 3rd steep/loose climb for me to finally come around the guy holding me up, he actually dismounted having caught up to someone who had to walk, I was on his wheel, so ran into him, had to dismount myself. When he went to jump back on his bike, I was already back on the pedals, and I just motored past him and the other rider yelling out "passing, passing on the left" I had enough.

Next up I caught the next two ahead of me, and wouldn't you know it, fatbike guy was now holding us up on the climb, I knew this was the last punchy climb for a while, so I dropped it into the 36t and just kept spinning, we both passed him near the top. I didn't get around the other guy at this time since I was out of air again, and I just held pace an recovered. It took until the new soft section and I called out for a pass, but just sped up a bit, a little later he crashed into a small tree. I got up to the next racer, and we had to make our way through some cat2 traffic now, and he ended up crashing on a technical section, I had seen it the day before and knew people would be going down there, so I backed off and watched it unfold, he seemed fine.

Finally out in "clean air" there was still at least 1 rider to pass per mile, they all seemed to be cat2 riders just doing their own pace and none gave issue giving some space. I thought I saw the lead group through the trees at one point, and I wanted to catch them. The last 1/3rd of the course had the best conditions, the turns weren't damp, and the ground was more packed, looking at my pace compared to the 2nd place rider I pulled back 2:20in the last 2 miles, but it left me 2:25 behind still, and even though I chased down a rider around the second lap of the road, it would turn out he was another cat2 rider, and 5th place was still about 20 sec ahead.

In the end, that's racing, and racing in what is considered sport in most places, you have to make the best of the scenario, I do feel that if I had gotten out to a better start I could have paced with the leaders and been in the fight, but that will have to wait until next time.

The first blog here @MikeLikesTrails is going to cover the SRAM Guide/DB5/Level overheating and locking up issue.

I counted between 3 of my riding friends and myself, we have 10 sets of SRAM brakes, and so far 7 of the 10 need service. We encountered this issue almost 2 years ago and could not find any info on it, so when chain reaction had DB5s on closeout for $50, we bought up a few, swapped then on, and seemed to be ok. A year later, same issue happened.

What happens? One day your brakes feel fine, and then you let your bike sit out in the sun and you go to pull the lever and it compresses, but fails to retract, or retracts slowly, hmmm. Put it in the shade, and it seems to start working again.. hmm.. dump ice on the lever, and wow, its fine! Somewhere in the process SRAM has a bad batch of either pistons or levers, or both, but if you take apart a handle, there is a white piston that slides in the bore on two o-ring seals. This part starts to rub internally because after exposure to DOT5.1 it swells, heat then makes the aluminum swell slightly creating even less tolerance, and then things bind up.

SRAM is well aware of the issue now and is warrantying tons of brakes.