Convinced Kristin to sign up for one of the social-paced rides on the BBTC calendar last night. David, a friend of mine, was leading a ride at the Tokul West trails, just a few miles outside of Snoqualmie. A really fun trail system with some decent climbing and plenty of fun, swoopy singletrack with intermediate tech. David had about a dozen or so signed up for the ride, which is more than I typically like to ride with, but there were some women also on the sign-up sheet and a few newcomers to BBTC so I thought it'd be a great ride for Kristin.
The plan was for me to hop onto the Moots at 5pm and ride down to the meeting spot. Kristin would come home from work and drive the truck down at 5:30. At least this was the plan until I noticed that my rear Chris King hub is loose again. Again! For those keeping score at home, I've had these wheels since April, 2007 and aside from having to give the hub a complete tear-down and rebuild just 2 months after purchase, I've also now had the rear hub come loose on me an average of every 3 months. And, better still, the problems with the freewheel that forced the complete disassemble-and-rebuild last June are resurfacing.
I'd be apt to call this a lemon hub, but the thing is that everyone I know with CK hubs is having the same problems. One friend had to DNF at the Cascade Creampuff last year on account of a siezed hub. I had to DNF last year because of the freewheel issue. Another friend's hubs are constantly loosening just like mine. And then last night, yet another guy with CK hubs came up to me ask if I ever had the freewheel problem with the hub because his was acting up constantly. Yes, yes, and yes!
My Giant NRS came with Deore hubs, yet I never had a problem with them in the 3 years I owned the bike. The CK rear hub cost more than the entire wheelset on my Giant and it's given me nothing but headaches.
Oh, sure, it looks fantastic and it makes a cool noise when you're coasting. That is, assuming the damn thing isn't rattling itself off the bike!
I'm ready to put the Chris King hubs right alongside the Crank Bros Candy pedals as the only bike products I've ever bought that completely, absolutely, regretted. I went through 3 pairs of Candies in a single summer, after never having had a problem with any other pedals in 10 years of mountain biking, and now the Chris King hubs are following suit. Not a single hub-related problem in years of mountain biking. Except for these. And how's this for irony -- these CK hubs are on the bike that I've taken the best care of out of all the bikes I've ever owned. I don't ever even let them play in the mud!
Anyway, but back to last night's ride. As much as I like to forget sometimes, I did have the singlespeed to ride so I jumped on that and spun myself out riding the 9 miles or so of rail-trail down to the trailhead. The group ride went great. Kristin did fantastic on the long climb up Pink Ribbon trail and was able to hang within sight of the group for the road portions. We descended Steakouse, climbed Outhouse, and then came down Outback to Full Bench. I rode nice and slow just in front of Kristin and helped coach her through the descents. I heard her hyper-ventilating once or twice (she gets nervous above 5mph) and she did fall a couple of times, but she actually did pretty good. Boot Camp obviously helped, now we just got to work on getting her out of the saddle so she can balance better when going over roots or rocks.
The group did have to do a fair bit of waiting at the bottom of the descents for Kristin, but I told her not to worry about it. It was a social-paced ride and she was doing fine. Besides, there are few people who come to these rides that I haven't spent some time waiting for on one ride or another (or another and another) so this is just an opportunity for them to repay the favor. And I say that in the nicest way possible. We won't show up every week until she's a little bit faster. In the meantime, I'm hoping she can start attending some of the LunaChix beginner's and women-only rides so she can ride with other people of her skill level with some good support and instruction... and without those pesky Y-chromosomes fouling it all up with our thirst for speed.
One last mountain biking note. The weather forecast for the Cascade Creampuff 100 is bright sun and 96-degrees. I'm still a bit annoyed to not be able to go, but I can say with near-absolute certainty that I would not have finished it anyway. 100 miles with 14,000+ feet of climbing would have been a very, very big challenge for me right now under perfect conditions. And 96 degrees in a hot, dusty environment is anything but perfect. Not to mention, the plan was to bring the dogs and camp the entire weekend -- we didn't have reservations at "puppy camp" and Kristin and the dogs would have likely had to stay home. Which meant, I would have been unable to come home until Monday -- three days away from work are three days I definitely don't have to spare.