Sunday, December 7, 2014

Locally Global Big Fat Bike Day

I forgot Saturday was the Global Fat Bike Day until Regional Headquarters contacted me through the underground fat bike channel.  See what happens when you neglect to check in at the FatBike forum at for a month or so.  It's an annual thing, the first Saturday in December, so I don't have any excuse really, but I had other plans with Debbie.  Which I was promptly able to wiggle out of.  Others in the group of 12 or so weren't so fortunate.  It's tough to get everybody together so some went there own ways, and 3 of us - Eric, Pat and myself - were able to coordinate schedules and meet at Antoine Peak's West Trailhead at 11am.  

I woke up early to the sound of heavy rainfall and checked messages - anybody going to be the first to bail?  Friday night's forecast said the rain should clear out by 10, and when I checked the radar map early Saturday it, it was going to stop after 8.  That was a good sign, and it appeared we were on.  I packed a little bit of everything and headed out.

From the North Side, the trailhead is a straight shot from Francis to Bigelow Gulch and I arrived a bit before the others.  I expected mud, but the forest/service road from the trailhead was covered in a thin sheet of ice even after the rain a mid-30]s temp.though the temp.  Not promising.  Eric and Pat arrived and we figured we'd give it a try since were there already, and didn't know if our backup Riverside Park would be any better.

Trailhead pic stolen from Pat - this is after we were done
Surprisingly, the bikes rode easily over the ice and we headed up the peak.  We were well prepared - each of us had our own flask. We climbed up the peak, and had a blast on the way down. And great brew at 12 Strings Brewery afterwards to top it off.

A few pics, more over at 26InchSlicks.

Eric and Pat
i was going for the burly fatbiker he-man
pose, and missed it by a mile or so

this is what happens when you a) don't take the time to transfer a rear rack
from one bike to your fatbike to fashion a mudguard out of, and b) then
don't wear your plastic pants you brought along.
a little gopro vid


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Black Friday/Sunny Sunday rides

a few lazy notes about last weekend's rides before it gets too long past to post them:

Friday morning I woke up feeling a little off, and wondered do I really want to bike the Black Friday Ride?  Then I thought about it - I'm lucky enough to have the day off, and I'll feel better if I go ride (thanks, mom - that sounds like something she would tell us when we were kids - go outside and play!).  Besides, I had my Pugs Neck Romancer all ready to go.

I biked from downtown to the start at the Scoop on the South Hill.  The temp was in the 40's, but the wind was brutal cold, and I had second thoughts about my choice of clothing - 3/4 shorts, long-sleeve t-shirt and light base layer.  Real glad I threw some arm warmers in my bag before I left.  I made my now traditional (ok 2 years in a row) stop at the Rocket Bakery at 14th & Adams for a latte and no-bake cookie to fuel the ride.

There were five of us - 3 mountain bikes and two fat bikes. Let's see, John, Glen, Justin, me, and um, a strong rider on a Pugsley.

Either the wind died down, or I got used to it, or the trees on the hill protected us but it quickly got warm and off came the arm warmers and wool beanie.  The High Drive bluff trails are fun to ride, and I don't get up there often enough.  

No pics, didn't feel like digging the phone out of the zipped up pocket on my shorts.

Turns out I didn't have to toss the heavy Pugs N/R across the creek - we modified the route a bit from years past and skipped the creek crossing.  It was a most excellent ride.  I posted it at garmin connect - take a virtual ride here. Finished with some well deserved brews at River City brewing.

Sunday rode to the YWCA to meet my wife then over to the Backyard on Broadway (formerly the Broadway Bar and Grill) for breakfast then back home. Took the long way there, went on Gov't Way and then when I was crossing the Sandifur Bridge, a heron landed in one of the pine trees across the river.  Another I-should-carry-a-better-camera-than-the-phone-but-smaller-than-a-DSLR-moment. Something small with a good zoom, decent quality pics and can fit in a Revelate Tangle or Feedbag.

hint: above the brownish trees in the lower middle lower of pic

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fatting around Riverside

Took the Pugsley N/R down the Merkel Trail to Riverside State Park on Sunday. Haven't been out on it for awhile, but immediately remembered why it's the perfect machine for Merkel and Riverside.  The fat tires keep the bike on the trail in the loose stuff, and roll easily over the jagged edges and lumpy, bumpy rocks and stones.

some pics, starting off with a shadow selfie:

okay, have to walk this section

I took a meandering route from the Bowl and Pitcher -  Trail 25 to 7-Mile then a trail going west, eventually turning back towards and crossing 7- Mile Rd, to Deep Creek parking area, down State Park Drive then back across 7-Mile Rd to a Trail that leads back up to Inland Rd.  I think it's one of those Trail 25-but-not-Trail 25 trails.  I'm going into some detail so I can remember, because this time, before I reached Inland Rd, I saw a trail off to the left I hadn't seen before, heading down the ridge.  A new to me trail. Looked promising so I took it.

It petered out in spots, and I almost lost it under the pine needles.  A fun ride down.  Crossed 7-Mile Rd yet once again and rode the real Trail 25 back to the Wilber Rd trailhead, then to the Bowl and Pitcher.

Coming back from the B&P campground area, I can never decide if it's easier and/or quicker home to ride up to Merkel, or to ride Aubrey White to Downriver golf course.  Sometimes I haul the bike up a the side of the hill on a trail near the water treatment plant up to NW Blvd. I opted to do that, and found yet another new to me trail that was less steep than my normal one.  Ended up not being quicker as I came across a herd of deer that I waited for, not wanting to spook them.

might be able to make out a deer in the middle of the pic,
cautiously eyeing me.
Finally made it back home after waiting them out.

<insert abrupt ending here>. it's late.

Monday, November 10, 2014

new pedals for me Vaya

finally ditched the $25 Redline pedals I've had on my Vaya since I got it.  they were cheap and got the job done, but were getting slippery.  With the rain in the forecast and winter coming on, figured it was time.

Replaced them with the VP Components VP-001, same ones I have on the Fargo. VP calls them an Urban Flat Pedal so they may not be intended for heavy duty trail riding.  But I've been happy riding the Fargo with them on trails, pavement and gravel wearing Five Tens. They're light, thin and grippy with adjustable pins. Available in black, silver, gold, red, green, blue, magenta, pink or turquoise, I went with basic blue.  Getting a little too matchy-matchy with the blue-themed Vaya, think I will pick up another color for my Marin Muirwoods which I have back in the rotation for winter.

VP says they are 345 grams - I don't know how that compares to other pedals - and 109 x 97 x 16mm. Towards the ends they measure around 14mm.

I feel more secure now with these on the Vaya, and my feet aren't accidentally slipping off the pedals anymore.

Gratuitous pic of our dogs in the wild:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Another Martin Rd Ride-about

Let's see, a week ago last Friday, I took another jaunt out to Martin Rd Trailhead.  I'm kind of embarrassed how long I was out there, so I'm not sure if I want to link you to the garmin track. But my purpose was to write down the street signs and turns, so I did a lot of stopping and noting down with pen and paper and make a cue sheet for this route I'm working on.  I guess that's what's garmin, maps and computers are for, but when you get out there with tires on the ground, it turns out the road signs call a road one name and the maps/garmin call it another. (I don't know how emergency crews handle this area.) I'd been thinking about putting a group ride together and wanted to get a cue sheet made.

Oh what the heck, I was out there for 5 1/2 hours. 47 miles. 8.5 avg speed, but top speed 29.7 woo hoo! Here is the Garmin Connect page. I was trying to get a 50 miler in, but cut it short since I was getting tired of being out there on a bike.

The plan was to go on the ride I planned on doing in August but ended up cutting short (Martin Rd Bikexpedition) because I got sidetracked. Go down Cree, to Stoner/Swift, to Dewey, then Cordell and down Belsby past Rock Creek, to Hole in the Ground Rock past Pine Creek circle back to Belsby, back up Belsby to Mullinx, then a little different route than the way down to Reed to Spuler back to Cree Rd.  All gravel/dirt roads. I ended up skipping Spuler Rd (aka Reed Branch Rd #2 or #1 and another name I forget) on the way back and taking Reed Rd up to Martin Rd. Otherwise I think I have a 50+mile route.

Took a few pictures with the phone, and was surprised a couple turned out pretty nice if I may say so myself. I started at Cree Rd again and after 1.98 miles came to Swift (aka Stoner) and went right.  Cree goes left, but it might also be called Elliott Rd on maps here before it becomes Cree Rd again. And maybe Elliott road again. Saw some bike tracks on Swift Rd - might've been the same ones I saw last time - so there are other bikers riding these roads.

this is not one of the really nice pics. didn't have to rustle
cattle on Cree this time.
About 13 miles in, the turn from Dewey Rd to Cordell Rd.

I always like the ride down Belsby to Rock Creek, but it's tempered by the fact you have to ride back up:

A most confusing intersection - Hole-in-the Ground, Stephen Rd and Kenova Rd:
After looking around I found Kenova parallels Hole-in-the Ground and took a 180 degree turn onto Kenova here.
Kenova Rd
bridge over Pine Creek
Kenova, like Hole-in-the Ground, crosses the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.  Thought about taking the Trail back to H-i-t-G (I have the permit but didn't have it with me, but don't think it would've been a problem to hop on the JWPT), but it looked like Kenova would take me back to Belsby, which it did eventually:

Let's just skip to the nice pic.  Riding back to the trailhead on Martin Rd, I saw some deer crossing the road up ahead so I hung back and waited as what turned out to be a herd cross.
And more deer, would've been good to have a better camera with zoom:

These are my notes I'm committing to the interwebs before I lose them.

Start: Cree Rd
1.98 mi - right on Swift/Stoner Road sign is Cree/Swift. hard-packed dirt, rocky, weedy in spots.
4.15 - left on Wiltzuis. Sign: Wiltzuis/Swift
6.25 - left onto Dewey. Dewey/Wiltzuis
8.90 - Stay right on Dewey. Dewey/Cree
10.2 - Stay left on Dewey. Dewey/Gibson
11.2 - Stay on Dewey. Dewey/Munson to the right.
12.8 - left onto Cordell.  Dewey/Cordell. soft dirt
15.2 - right. Reed/Reed Branch #1
15.7 - right on Mullinix. Reed/Mullinix
16.7 - left.  J. Henderson/Belsby. (took wrong turn here and went right, had to backtrack total 1 mile so rest of mileage numbers below are 1 mile less than garmin). Garmin has a few different names for the road in this stretch.
18.5 - stay left on Belsby. Belsby/Miller Place
24.2 - right onto Hole-in-the Ground. Belsby/Hole-in-the-Ground
26.3 - 180 degree turn onto Kenova. Stephen/Kenova and Stephen/Hole
29.1 - left onto Siegel. Kenova/Siegel
30.1 - left on Belsby. Siegel/Belsby
38.1 - Henderson/Belsby - continue straight (garmin said Henderson I think thought I was still on Belsby) to Mullinix. GPS had a few different names on this section - Miller, Henderson, Whitman.
39.1 - left onto Reed. Reed/Mullinix - I took Reed to Martin Rd, but the plan was to turn off Reed:
??    - left on Reed Branch Rd #2 - should become Spuler
??    - Right onto Dewey
??    - Right on Cree

 Abrupt ending to blog post here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Tires - Freedom Ryder

I know you're all extremely interested in what tires I'm running on my Vaya. Been wanting to switch to slightly narrower tires than the Clement MSO 40c tires for a few reasons, one being better fender fitment.  I've seen reports of SKS P55 fenders fitting the Vaya with the MSO's, but I've had a little trouble getting my front clip-on fender just right with the front rack on there, too.  Another reason for switching: the Clements are oriented more towards gravel riding than commuting.  Also, after 1200 miles or so, there's good wear on the rear tire I bought last November.  Not too bad, but I'd like something longer lasting for the city.

So I finally bought some new ones.  I went for cheap and heavy - the Freedom Ryder 700 x 38 at 665 grams, $26.  I like the 38c size for the Vaya - it's a good combo of width and grip for the pavement, urban single track, gravel streets I find on my way home, and other off-pavement rides, but will fit fenders easily.

Chief Tire Inspector Dash
The heft is noticeable - could be my imagination, but when I lift the bike I swear it feels 5 pounds heavier.  They have a tread pattern similar to the MSO but less knobby. I'm pleased with the smoothness of the ride at 60psi compared to the MSO's, but they're not as sure-footed.  I get a little worried on those slight downhill turns where there's debris and gravel in the street, but part of it is I just need to get used to the quicker handling.

I considered a few other tires in the 38c range before getting the Freedoms. We have Pasela Tourguards on Debbie's blue Redline cross bike and I like how smooth they ride.  But Universal Cycles was out of the 37/38c size TG/PT's and I don't like the tan sidewalls for looks (too grimy for one thing) and think the Vaya needs black sidewalls.

The Resist Nomad 45c tires were tempting at only $22 a pop but I think I'd have trouble getting even clip-on fenders over them for the rainy days.  They do make them in 35 but I'm stuck on something a little wider.

I considered the Schwalbe Little Big Ben 700 x38, $40 from RivBike.  Not sure about the tread pattern, might be too much.  Compass Bicycles has broken down and now offers a wider 700c tire - Barlow Pass 700 x 38, $59 380g but with tan sidewalls, and $78 for the extra light ones at 327g.  Some report the Compass tires are long lasting, others reports quick wear and flats - probably the difference in opinion is same for any tire.  I'd read the new ones might be running smaller than stated, so that was a negative.

So in the end I gambled on the Ryders since they were less expensive than many other tires.

I only have a few commutes on them but I like them. I don't notice the extra heft while rolling, and they're quicker and smoother than the Clements. The Clements have an edge when rolling over cracks in the street.  The Ryders  have what is billed as an "Urban Barrier" for flat protection, but I don't have much faith in any tire's protection against the debris in the streets.  Hoping they're better than the Clements in that regard.

The true test of the tires for me was how they handle the dirt trail at the end of Nettleton Street before NW Blvd, because the Vaya is not just for city street riding.  I was surprised that even at 60psi they had grip in the loose dirt/debris and were close to the Clements in handling.

An aside: 38mm is a good size for city riding, but I'm starting to think 2" mountain bike tires with minimal tread would be perfect. Every once in awhile I ride my Fargo to work, and it just rolls over any cracks and holes in the pavement without a care. Plus it handles the trail below Gov't Way with ease if I want to got that way home.

Another aside: tire pressure. I'd been running the Clements around 50psi to smooth out the street bumps and cracks.  I recently had it in the shop for service, and it came back with the tire pressure higher around 65-70. I noticed that while running over cracks there was a sharper jolt, but it was quicker, and the tires didn't sink into the crack.  Hard to explain what I mean, but I'm finding 60psi is a good compromise - not too high to still have some cushion, but not so low so that the tires squirm in the corners or sink into the cracks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Passing other bikecyclists

I don't ride real fast to and from work, but I like to keep a good pace. I'm definitely not part of the slow bike movement. I bike fast enough to catch up to another biker every once in awhile on my commute, and I hesitate to pass them.  I feel kind of bad zipping by.  Maybe I've got a faster bike, maybe I'm in better shape and I don't want to show them up.  So instead I'll usually slow down for a bit, then turn off on a side street and take an alternate route.

It's the bikers in regular clothes that I don't like to pass - if they look like they're on a training ride, I'll zip on by without any qualms and give a small wave or 'morning'.

It's funny, but once in awhile I get passed by someone from out of nowhere, and I don't like it. I'm tempted to keep up with them and engage in some CAT 6 racing.  Or if I notice someone behind me, I'll kick it up another notch in an effort to not get passed.

The guy in the picture above - I slowed down and debated about passing, or turning off, or maybe even being sociable (me?) and make a little small talk.  Eventually, I turned off at the next intersection.  It seemed rude to pass going uphill.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Downtown Bike Pics

Hold tight it's another exciting edition of Downtown Bike Pics (best if internally voiced like that old song "One Step Beyond"!).  Downtown gets an interesting mix of bikes from the everyday-garden-variety to the unusual, and here are some from the last few months.