Saturday, April 23, 2016

Risky Bikeness

Well, it wasn't that risky but I couldn't pass up using the title.

A couple Saturdays ago (yes it's taken me that long to post this), I loaded the Fargo onto my truck and drove down to the heart of darkness - the Marengo/Cow Creek section of the JohnWayne Trail.  Well ok, nothing Conradian or epic about my trip, just a little hyperbole.  This section has an adjacent landowner known to be unfriendly towards the trail, and some have had unpleasant encounters with him.

I wanted to check out routes around the missing Cow Creek Trestle.  I wanted to finally see the famous missing (where'd it go?) trestle that Pat, Eric and I bypassed a few years on Pat's trip across the state.  I wanted to search for an alternative to the bypass we took - I don't want to repeat that day again.  I also wanted to test my Fargo's tubeless tires on the trail.

My first road to check out was the dirt road that leads to Thavis.

(another patented wileydogsnapcha)

I stopped my truck after where Cow Creek Rd crosses the trail to look at my map, and saw a car approach from the ranch.  I pulled out of the way and got out of the truck, when they - a woman and daughter I think -  pulled in front of me.  I said Hi and explained I wanted to bike down to Thavis and looking for a spot to park my truck, trying to figure out what is public and private land.  Nodding  towards Thavis, she said it was private land.  "Their"  land. There are no signs that say it's a private road, though, and she didn't say if the road was private (I'm pretty literal minded).  I said I know Cow Creek Rd is public but that it kinda peters out, and she didn't say anything.  She said I couldn't park by the silos but I could park by the trail,  just "don't block his gate".  She was pretty polite, and I'm not sure if she had some sympathy towards me wanting to bike out there or she was just  letting me know where I was welcome. Which seemed to be just on the JWPT.  I was going to show her my map, and have her show me which roads were private, but decided not to keep her any longer.  I think the ones past the house are private but I'd like to research it. Didn't see them on the County Roads list. 

I abandoned the plan to ride the road to Thavis, and headed east on the trail instead. Just off the trail, I came across this 4-slice toaster.
i got nothing
The first unofficial barbed wire gate I came across. Glad I brought a Leatherman, as it was tightly wired shut. Lesson learned: always make sure you're on the same side as your bike after you wire the gate back shut.

Eastern Washington's version of Uluru/Ayers Rock.  Search
ice age floods to see how these were formed.
Trail conditions were typical EaWa JWPT and varied from a little gravel, to mostly dirt with hardly any rocks, to rocky. Still fairly easy riding.

I turned around at the Columbia Plateau Trail intersection.
And discovered there was a headwind.  There's always one on the way back. I stopped at the truck for a snack, then headed west towards the old trestle section.  A group of deer ahead of me split up with most going right, leaving a couple on the left of the trail. I waited a bit for a them to rejoin their friends on the other side.

just to the right of the middle pole you can make out one
At the former bulkhead of the east end of the trestle.

Right on cue, a truck appeared on the road across the valley.

I wondered if it was checking on me, making sure I didn't scramble down the rocks and stray onto private land, but it kept on driving past the creek.

you shall not pass!
In the past years I've come across reports of people who have crossed here climbing up and down the cliffs without incident, and from here is a detour a guy took on the same dirt roads past the Ranch I've been eyeballing.  But you should read Mr. 26InchSlicks report before venturing anywhere off the trail.

Anywhoo, the Fargo rode pretty good on the trail.  Better than hauling the BoB trailer like last time I was out here, and with less worry of flats.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Et tu Vaya? Tubeless!

Last year you may recall I tried to set my Vaya up tubeless. I had the tools - the Stan's 29er conversion kit specified for the DT Swiss rims, and the Prestaflator.  But I didn't have tubeless tires.  I tried without success to set up the Clement X'Plor MSO's and Ryder Freedom (or is it Freedom Ryder? I can't keep it straight) tires.  In January, I tried setting up the Clements again and came close by pressing down on the tire behind the valve stem, but the Clements fit too loosely on the rims to get them close to sealing.

Then suddenly there are 40c Tubeless Ready tires available - Panaracer GravelKing, Maxxis ReFuse, Kenda FlintRidge and maybe a couple others.  There are more in the 35-45 range: Schwalbe is coming out with the Marathon Almotion 38c someday, and Clement has the 36c MSO on the way.

So after debating, I settled on the FlintRidge.  It has more knobs than I need for mostly street riding, but it looked like it would last longer than the ReFuse and roll smoother than the GravelKing.  Yup, going by looks alone.  I thought it was less expensive, but at $46 from Universal Cycles, it's in between the GravelKing ($42.49) and ReFuse ($51.20)

Setup was fairly easy. I kept the stock rim tape on the rim and can't remember if I had Stan's yellow tape on under that from last year.  I don't think so.  The tires were tight to fit on the rims - sorta like putting on studded tires.  Had to use some muscle.  I didn't read the Stan's kit directions again and forgot about the soap and water, but I got them on without too much difficulty.

The information tag that came with the FlintRidge said not to use a compressor, but a hand pump didn't work.  I tried the compressor without sealant in the tires first, and by golly it was going to work!  The front tire held pretty good without sealant, but the back was leaking steadily.  Put the sealant in, and same story, but the back tire held overnight above 20psi.  Pumped it up some more above 50psi (I read afterwards that Stans says don't go above 40 for mtb tires and 55 for cyclocross tires) and could hear air escaping in one spot.  Let them sit some more.  Thought about putting in more sealant, but haven't yet.

I test rode the bike down to REI yesterday and was pleasantly surprised the tires held air and didn't flop off the rims.  This went too easy.  But I'm not ready to go bombing down Alberta Street on my way to work at 30mph with 2 lanes of traffic next to me.  Maybe in a week or two.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Are New Tires More Prone to Flats?

Discuss amongst yourselves or self.

Or comment below or wherever you prefer.

Got a flat on my way to work Monday on the new Big Apples (the good news is I saw at least 4 other bicyclers in the rain along Belt Street). It's not real unusual to get a flat, but I remember getting a flat on new Panaracer Pasela Tourguards a few years ago. Maybe the rubber n new tires is a little soft and hardens up after awhile.

Just wondering.

Thanks for listening!