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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bleeding Hayes HFX-9 Disc Brakes

I bought myself a "previously enjoyed" mountain bike that has disc brakes.

This is pretty standard now on mountain bikes. The stopping power is pretty awesome, and they aren't sensitive to rain and muck like standard rim brakes. However... with new technology comes new challenges! I inadvertently squeezed the fluid out of one of my brake calipers and had to replace a piston on the other (I broke it).

To get the brake pressure back, you have to do what's called "bleeding". This is simply pumping in new fluid and getting the air out of the system.

What You Need

My brakes are Hayes HFX-9's, so I bought the Hayes Bleed Kit. It's about $20 online.

This great video and the Hayes Bleed Kit Manual got me started, and they're an absolute must before you start!

Rather than go through the whole procedure, let me talk about where I deviated from their instructions.

My Tips
  • When you start squeezing in the fluid, you have to let the bottle suck out the air as it returns back to form. Do this a bunch of times until all the air is out. It also helps to tap the calipers with a wrench to release any air stuck in the caliper.
  • When the bubbles look like they're gone and you think you're finished, apply pressure on your bottle, and sloooowly squeeze the brake. Release, squeeze more fluid in, then repeat. I did it 3 times, until I felt a bit of resistance and all the bubbles were out. This was critical (and NOT in the video!)
  • My first couple of tries, the brakes were squishy and didn't work. Tapping the calipers seemed to help get more air bubbles out, squeezing the brake lever helped... one other trick I saw (and tried) was to re-plug the master cylinder plug before tightening the bleed valve, and squeezing just a bit more fluid in. Try, try again...
  • My bleed valve on one brake was leaking like an S.O.B. when I would squeeze in fluid, and it seemed like air was getting in through it. I removed it entirely, taped it with silicone thread tape, and screwed it back in. That solved the issue, and I had much better success after that.
  • DOT 3 and 4 fluid are interchangeable, and you DON'T need the overpriced Hayes stuff... go to any autoparts store and you can get a liter of DOT 3 for like $10. It'll last you forever.
Have fun... and if you get yourself in over your head, just go to a bike store! $20 a brake and you're good to go.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DNS... ouch!

Yup, I got a DNS. Did not Start.

I signed up for a 10 mile race in Whitby... mostly to keep me motivated through the dreary fall months.

The day before the race, I was doing some plumbing repair. Long story short, I burned my hand pretty badly. Welcome to Plumbing Amateur Hour, population: me!

Ah well, if there's any time of year to miss a race it's now. I'm far from peak form and am pretty well settled into the off-season. Oh sure, I took on a 90km bike ride last week, but it was more just for fun than anything serious! (This is the way endurance addicts relax... LOL)

Next race: Peterborough 1/2 marathon, late February. I'll start run training in earnest mid-December, bike training first week of January (on the trainer). Until then, just poking out when I feel like it for as long as I feel like it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Victoria Rail Trail (Lindsay to Haliburton, Ontario)

The Victoria Rail Trail is an abandoned railway which has been transformed into a 90km recreational trail.

The main section runs from Lindsay to Haliburton along the former Victoria Railway right-of-way. There is another southern section that runs from Lindsay down to Bethany.

Along the way the trail crosses old railway trestles, goes by abandoned stations, and there's even a model railway museum in Kinmount. It's neat stuff if you are a train geek!

As a cycling challenge, it's not especially difficult - the trails are mostly hard-packed gravel, and the hills are all gradual. The distance is long, and much of it is far removed from civilization (plan for emergencies wisely!). It's not suitable for road bikes, but anything else could get the job done.

Ken Brown has put up some details and pictures on his web site.

I have done everything from Bethany up to Kinmount. I suspect the most interesting sections are further north, so next year... to Haliburton!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Uxbridge and Durham Trails

I found this awesome map of trails in the Uxbridge area:

Shows parts of Durham Forest, and how they connect to many other trails and areas, including parts of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail and the Trans Canada Trail.

Speaking of the Trans Canada Trail, here are some Durham-area maps:

We rode the Greenwood section and the parts to the north of it over the weekend. If you plan to try Greenwood, avoid the northwest corner like the plague... leash-free area!

For more specific maps of Durham Forest, you can't get much better than Mike's Maps... especially if you're on a bike.

Have fun!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New York Marathon

Today is the New York Marathon.

It looks amazing... running through all 5 boroughs of NYC, with tens of thousands of people.

And in 2011, I will be there! Can't wait.

Three ways to get in:
  1. Be ridiculously fast and qualify
  2. Buy an over-price tour package
  3. Enter the lottery and pray... and if you lose 3 times in a row (which I have), you get a guaranteed entry in year 4!
So if you're not that fast and cheap (like me!) then you enter the lottery and 3 years later... you're in! I have my 3 strikes in the lottery, so I'm guaranteed for 2011. Can't wait!