Archive for Sports

Bleeding Avid Elixir 3 Brakes

Avid Elixir 3 Brake Bleed

Over the past couple of years I’ve tried to bleed the brakes of my Hayes Elixir 3 hydraulic brakes several times. I’ve had some OK success but rarely was I able to do a really good job. I watched lots of videos on YouTube, read the instructions, searched for posts on internet bike forums, and talked to wrenches at bike shops. The videos and instructions make the task seem easy, the forums and bike mechanics make the task seem difficult. It turns out that what is really needed is patience and perseverance, which I’ll give a bit more detail on at the bottom of this post. These were two things that I’ve never seen discussed on instruction videos or manuals.

To bleed Elixir brakes you need only a few tools, most of which come with the Avid bleed kit. You use two syringes, a brake block for keeping the brake pistons separated, a torq wrench for the bleed port and a few other odds and ends like cloths and some kind of strap for holding your brake lever closed.

Here are a couple of videos to check out:
https://youtu.be/IoaPUw5DliA
https://youtu.be/bZylrZvICrY
https://youtu.be/pxTZ2QTPc2w

Here is the manual: https://www.sram.com/sites/default/files/techdocs/e1_e3_service_manual_rev_b.pdf

And finally, here is the advice that you need to be successful. When you go to bleed the brake lever, you have to keep working at this for a long time. The Hayes design is such that a large amount of air will get trapped in the lever and unless you’re very patient and careful, you’ll think you’ve finished the bleed job prematurely. This is where I got caught over 1/2 dozen times. I would bleed the lever until virtually no air bubbles were being produced and stop. This always gave me a soft/bad result. The last two times I did it though, I kept pulling on the lever syringe with a lot of force, even though it looked like I had gotten all the air out. Sure enough, a few more huge air bubbles would eventually pop out.

Prior to the above, I was being super careful with following the instructions: making sure the lever was 75mm from the handlebar, etc. However, it all came down to keeping pulling on the lever syringe pretty much as hard as I thought I could without pulling the plunger out. So if you’re having problems bleeding Elixir brakes, maybe it’s time to try again and really be patient with the lever bleed. Good luck!

Windsurfing – It’s Back

So I’m sitting there, wondering about kiteboarding. I’ve heard that the equipment is easy to carry around, it’s pretty easy to learn, and you can kiteboard in all sorts of wind from weak to strong. I had been thinking about kiteboarding for while, mostly since I saw some people do it on the beach north of Puerto Vallarta two years ago. It seemed like a great vacation sport.

How much does it cost to get gear? How often would I use it? Where would I go? And then it hits me. I’m a teacher now. Summers off. And there are consistent winds up at Squamish during the summer for windsurfing and kiteboarding and I still have all my old equipment. Now that my kids are getting older, I can leave them at home and take off for several hours. So after about 18 years of not sailing, it dawned on me that now was the time to start again.

Before I went to Squamish for the first time this year I wondered if my equipment would work. I figured my sails might fall apart, maybe my board would delaminate, who knows what could happen. I also wondered if other windsurfers would be older than me, younger or around the same age. My guess was they would mostly be older. I checked out my gear and everything thing looked to be in good working order, in a 1990’s sort of way.

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My first trip to Squamish was on a Tuesday. I get there and it’s a lot busier than I thought it would be. It was sunny, the place was full of kiters, and it was WINDY. When I first arrived, I spoke with a fellow that just finished his day on a 5.3 sail. He was heavier than me but advised that it would be an ok size. I was looking for advice because I hadn’t really had to judge wind speed for a very long time. The anemometer read 23 knots with gusts to 26. While I was trying to rig my sail, I noticed it getting windier. 20 minutes later my 5.3 went back in the van and I was rigging my 4.7. By the time I had all my gear ready and wetsuit on, the anemometer was saying 27kts with gusts to 30. I was getting a bit nervous. Squamish has a few unique features that make it a great place to sail but also a tricky place. First, the launch is on a very long and narrow spit that sticks into Howe Sound at the mouth of the Squamish river. If you launch a windsurfer on the lee side of the spit, you can get a big wind shadow. If you launch on the river side you have to deal with a strong current that flows downwind. This current forces your board straight upwind. It’s very difficult to “beach start”, because you can’t hold your board across the current, it will flip over. As well, if you get the clew of your sail in the water, the current will sweep over your whole sail. You don’t want to spend too much time in the water because it is only around 6C I think (glacier and snow melt fed river). On the plus side, the Squamish Windsports Society has decent facilities there to help with rigging and fixing up the launch areas, and they have rescue boats if you get into trouble.  Kiters all launch on the lee side of the spit since they don’t have to worry about the wind shadow from the spit itself.  They also would have problems launching with an onshore wind, which there is if you launch on the river.

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I decided to launch on the lee side of the spit and I didn’t have any problems getting enough wind. I was pretty nervous entering the water because I knew it wasn’t going to be some leisurely sail. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that I was way over powered. My older sails don’t have as much range as newer sails, so my 4.7 works best in maybe 23 to 26 knots. Newer sails work across a much wider range of wind. I think if I had a modern day 4.5 sail it would have been perfect. I’m guessing that a new-ish Sailworks Retro 4.5 would work 2.3 to 30 for me.

I only sailed out and back a few times. I didn’t make any of my jibes (turns), of course. Each fall results in a bit of swimming and maneuvering, and fighting with the rig. It all takes its toll on arms that haven’t done much exercise in 18 years or so. With the strong winds and not having my rig tuned properly, I was pretty exhausted after only 45 minutes.

All in all it was a good day. I had likely gone faster on my board that day than I’ve ever gone in the past, it’s a fun feeling. By the end of my short session I was getting my gear tuned a bit better by improving my harness line positions and mast position. I returned to Squamish 2 more times last week and each day things went smoother and smoother for me. I sailed on my 4.7 these days as well, in winds from 23 to 26. It was pretty much the sweetspot for me and that sail.  It’s been a good total body workout for me too, much different from running and cycling.

I’m hoping to get up to Squamish at least 5 more times this August, but the more the better.

New Bike Gear

PumpGlovesI’m another one of those periods again where some of my sporting gear is wearing out.  Most of that nice, quality bike stuff that I bought 16 years ago is slowly being replaced. Yesterday’s damage came to $150 at MEC.  I needed to get a new chain ($10), some new cool weather gloves ($60) and a new bike pump ($50).  The bike pump was strictly needed, I still have my old Silca pump.  The Silca continues to impress me – I’ve never even replaced the rubber gasket that clamps to the tube valve.  I just shove the the end onto the valve and pump away.  However, it is getting harder and harder to get a good seal with the Silca.  On top of that, I’m not every confident in the accuracy of the pressure gauge anymore.  The kicker is that new pumps have ends that automatically adapt between presta and schrader valves.  Since I’m often pumping my kids’ tires, this is a welcomed feature.

The chain was a different matter.  Last week I decided to replace the chain on my commuter bike. I measured the stretch to be 1/8″, which typically means that the cog likely needs to be replaced too.  I was fine with that, since I wanted to try running a 20T cog on the back instead of an 18T.  My commuter bike uses the Shimano 8 spd Alfine internal hub, and using the 18T cog I almost never went into gear 7 or 8.  So I figured I would get better use with the 20 T.  Anyways, I went to a LBS (local bike store), Bikes on the Drive.  They sold me a BMX chain which they said would work fine on the Alfine.  On the back of the packaging the chain was listed as being good for BMX and single speed, so their recommendation seemed reasonable.  After using the new chain for a week though, I noticed some pretty big problems. I don’t actually know what exactly was happening, but every 3 minutes or so the chain would feel like it was skipping or catching on something.  A couple of times it really seemed to jam.  I looked into things a bit more and measured the chain – it was a 1/8″ width chain.  A few searches on the internet suggested that 1/8″ on the Alfine is too wide.  The Alfine needs a 3/32 chain.  That matched my observations – I thought there seemed to be a lot of play with the chain.

Long story shot: put a 3/32 chain on the Alfine.  I now have a SRAM PC-830 and I hopefully it will get the job done.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Barefoot #2

All of the advice that a person will read on the web with regards to running barefoot is to take things slow when first starting out. I figured that I had spent the better part of the last few months in flip flops and I had already converted to a forefoot strike, so I wouldn’t need to ease into things so much. It turns out that two days after my run, at around 3pm, the left underside of my left foot started throbbing with pain. The pain was pretty strong for two days and caused me to limp a bit. I thought it was pretty funny though, and I’m taking it in stride ha ha.

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