Monday, January 5, 2015

A flurry of snow

Glen at Riverside State Park

Yesterday it snowed all day: excellent light powdery snow. Glen, Joe, and I took a spin around RSP. My plan was to wake up early this morning and do some x-country skiing around Manito. But after gearing up and opening the door, it's clear the snow is now on the way out. It's like 40 degrees out there. The snow is mushy and wet and shitty. Shoulda taken the ski option last night.

Instead, I'll post some pics. There has been much Pugsley'ing over the last week or so.

Maddie was at Schweitzer with her cousin for a week of snowboarding. Liza and I went up and hung for a couple days. I brought the Pugs to try out the Nordic trails there. It was not rad. I think mainly this is because I rode the trail after a bunch of snow dumped on it and before it had been groomed. The views and scenery were beautiful, but I'm wishing I would've just skied.

Liza: bringing a gun to a gun fight.

I also broke a chain while out in the wild. It was a brand new SRAM chain. As I had in the past, I was carrying the trusty CT-5 chain tool. Which, again, saved my bacon and provided an opportunity to wallow in smugness... all for about $12. What a value!

The best part of the Schweitzer trip was riding down the 9-mile descent from the resort to the valley. I left at about 9 in the morning, so there was essentially no traffic going down the hill. There were approximately 1 million cars going up the mountain at that time though. There were patches of snow and gravel and ice and all sorts of funnery on the road down.

The road has a handful of serious switchbacks. I'd like to report that I railed into those turns at speed, but with the stream of traffic in the opposing lane, I figured it wouldn't be a good thing if I missed the line or drifted through the turn into (or under) a luxury SUV. So I played it cool.

And then there was yesterday's happy fun snow time with Glen and Joe. This was great because it was driving snow. Generally, I like the Pugs for dirt time more than snow time. But the conditions yesterday -- about 4-6 inches of freshly fallen snow -- were pretty much perfect for low-pressure, fat cruising.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pugsley'ing Saltese

Glen, Pat, and I took a lap around the Saltese Conservation area this morning. I rode out there for the first and only time about a year ago. At that time, we didn't do the full lap. It's not a huge lap. Map is here. I'm guessing it's about a 6 mile loop? It was a 45 minute ride: you ride generally up most of the time, then you descend back to the trailhead. That's my kind of ride.

But the ascent was a beautiful thing. I'm thinking the total elevation gain is only 400 feet or so, but the trail is so moderate and perfect. We're all wintery and out of shape, and the climb is perfect for that. And if a guy was in good shape, the hill would be a great climb on a CX bike: standing and slowly grinding the pedals for a nice clip up the hill.

I sort of had a religious experience climbing up that hill this morning. For one: xmas holiday this year has been a bit rough for a number or small reasons. Overall: life is good for sure. And climbing up a hill like that in the dense fog with a couple of my best friends really forces right and good thoughts into my head. And the fog was so great. Visibility was about 75 feet. So climbing up the twisty turny single track, I'd glance to the right and see a cyclist in a spot that didn't make any sense as far as I could figure. This happened a bunch. And of course it was Pat or Glen. But it was sort of trippy and surreal and happy time for me.

Jamming down the hill was fun too. Glen and I are pondering the handling characteristics of the Pugsleys. Our consensus is that the tires make for great XC-style descending, but the front-ends of the bikes fight against predictable and normal handling behavior.

Pat is on his new Bucksaw and pretty damn happy with that. I rode it for a hundred yards or so and found it to be frigging sweet. Pat remarked about how the Bucksaw just stays glued to the ground. I'd have to concur.

I think a guy could make the Pugsley into a good-enough XC mountain bike by putting a suspension-corrected fork on it. This solution is not my invention. According to Pat: lots of guys have done this. Putting a big honking tall fork on there would pivot the bike on the rear axel and slacken out the steepish HT/ST angles (70.5 degrees and 72 degrees, respectively), into something that should rock the descents much more effectively.

In fact, about 4 years ago local fat bike guru, Mr. Nelson, let me borrow his Pugs. Interestingly, he had a suspension fork on his bike. I want to find that fork. And I want it on my Pugs. And I really need to bite the bullet and put some hydro brakes on that sucka.

Monday, December 8, 2014

HD stroll

Light was right and weird warm winter make for nice colors and misty fog.

For years I mostly rode the trails on a cross bike. But in the last year or so,  I've pretty much ridden the HD trails on mountain bike or fat bike only. Obviously the riding is totally different. Mainly the hydro brakes, front suspension, and fatter tires make the descents really fast and fun. Climbing: not so much.

Taking the cross bike out again after a year of crashing through the trails made for an interesting ride. On the curvy switchy descent by the power lines I blew through two turns when my brakes didn't respond as I'm used to. I've also really gotten used to the fat contact patch of the mountain bike and the fat bike tires when cornering -- as a result, the way I approach, rail, and exit corners is totally different than it used to be.

On the cross bike, I have to be much more deliberate in my steering, leaning, and correcting. It's fun in a different way, but right now I'm enjoying mountain biking more than ever.

Maddie likes oysters. We're going on a bike trip next summer. We're aiming towards the oysters. Via Highway 20. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interim bike

This bike popped up on Craigslist last week. It's a Novara X-R. This is the third configuration I've seen this bike in.

I bought one years ago -- 700c, fillet brazed, Tange tubing, with LX components, crazy track bars and bar-end shifters. Then I saw one a couple years ago at the bike swap -- even more interesting: 26" wheels, fillet brazed, etc.

Turns out that Glen sort of perked up with these bikes too -- he ran across one a few months ago and bought it (the 700c track bar version). If I didn't have a bunch of bikes and a couple similar bikes that I don't ride enough, I would have pestered that one out of him. Instead, it's hanging in his shop, awaiting its fate.

This version (the third that I know of) of the X-R is much different than the others... and older maybe by 8 years or so. It's basically a mid-80's mountain bike with drop bars. Japanese. Lugged. Tange Infinity. Shimano DX, shimano barcons, Araya rims. There's a little sticker on it that says it was "Designed by Scot Nicol." That's the Ibis guy.

So, when Glen saw this little bike on Craigslist, he bought it and he decided to make a few changes to it and let Maddie ride it for a while. This will be Maddie's bike until next spring when we figure out the next bike. She's outgrown her righteous Grape Bike. And we're talking about some multi-day (week?) road touring next summer, so we'll need to figure out that deal.

He put some old chestnut wheels on there. These are Mavic MA-2 rims laced to Shimano 600 hubs. But these aren't just any old MA-2s. See the Bontrager sticker? Mavic did not make these rims in 559 way back when. But mountain bike racers wanted this style of rim. So Bontrager had a business (in which Glen was a cog) rolling down and re-welding the 700c rims to 26". 

Sugino Maxy crank with Mavic rings. Another chestnut from Glen's stash of cool old shit.

Click for big and dig that crazy-ass lacing on that wheel. Glen didn't have a story there.  He also put some sweet rubber on there: Schwalbe CX Pro.

Modern Ritchey drops and a stubby stem. In true 80's mountain bike style, this bike with a 48 cm ST has a 57 cm TT.  Glen also swapped out the weird-o Shimano friction barcons with some 8-speed indexed versions.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Black Friday -- the 5th year

We're on again for the Black Friday ride.

The plan:
  • Leave the The Scoop at 9 am
  • Do the first chunk of the NW passage +Mega-church section of the river trail.
  • Land at River City Brewery at around 11:30

That's it. You can read more about this ride by browsing the commentary from past years' rides

I think we'll see some fat bikes this year. I'll be on my mountain bike, which is a change -- as I've always ridden a 'cross bike. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Parts and stuff

You wouldn't know it by reading this blog, but I do still ride a bit. I don't have a lot to say about my riding, because I feel like I've said it all before a few times. And I'm not in the mindframe of late to talk about policy stuff. So that pretty much leaves gear discussion for the time being.

Lately, I've been into the mountain bike. It's a fall/spring thing I guess. Glen told me a couple weeks ago that he had some tires for me. I finally picked them up today: they are Schwalbe tires -- Rock Razors - 650Bx 2.35".

I've only got one High Drive ride on them so far, but I immediately noticed the cushy volume difference compared to the 2.10" Maxxis I had on there before. I liked the Maxxis, but I was drifting a bit too much on the wet trails this past weekend and was looking for a bit more grip as the moisture settles in for the season.

You can see the big honking knobbies on the edges of tire -- this is what Glen liked about them and after an hour of farting around on the wet trails, I can see his point. As noted, I also really appreciated the volume - they've got reasonably soft sidewalls for a mountain tire, and I like that. The center has a bunch of small knobbies -- sort of Thunder Burt-ish, but a bit bigger and more spaced out, knobbie-wise. So they roll good-enough on smooth trails and pavement.

Take note of the sparkly white bike. That's not just picture-clean. That's the new John... Glen sort of busted my ass about wanting a white mountain bike since I'm not known for fastidious (or any) post-ride wipe downs. But that's the old John. The White Elephant will always be white. Disclaimer: the new John approach to post-ride fussery does not extend to other bikes btw... that's just too much work.

Fenders went on the Legolas. And by fenders, I mean a rear fender and a front coroplast fender. This is a temporary state. I sold the Purple Elephant to fund the parts for the incoming stock NFE. When the new NFE comes along, the Legolas will go back to normal mode. Great bike. Notice the platform pedals on there. That's another gear change that I'll discuss in a future post. It's a big change for me. 

The sharp observer will notice that the orange saddle pack is becoming the standard tool bag on my bikes. It's a cheap, just-big-enough solution for carrying the basic tools/tube. I like it because it's tiny and holds tight to the bottom of the saddle and doesn't encourage me to bring the kitchen sink, which I am wont to do with my previous solutions.

This bag change has actually been precipitated by my saddle changes. I'm done with Brooks. I have one on my beater bike, but otherwise -- I've decided not to care about saddles. I want cheap and plastic. And it's liberating. The saddles on the Legolas and the White Elephant are both XLC -- which is the cheap knock-off Seattle Bike Supply house brand. I dig them.

I just cleaned my workbench about 2 weeks ago. I cannot keep it managed for the life of me. I may change my saddle, tool bag, bike-cleaning ways, and pedals, but I can't seem to get the trashed bench thing changed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some pictures and updates

I'm riding home from EWU three times a week. I usually ride my pink Elephant. But about 25% of the time, I ride the Rory Lego Cross bike. 

The normally soul-sucking ride is made good this year. On Mondays and  most Weds, buddy Stine, rides home with me. Here's a picture of us hitting the FLT wall. Of course we had to turn around and go back to the road to get through it.  It's times like this that I really miss the old FLT.

But the FLT still shows excellent fall colors.

Glen is knee-deep in the stock NFE project. These are about half the fork blades.
Batch 1 is on track to ship in December. Batch 2 will likely go in early spring. 

I've had a handful of productive mornings up at the river.

And a lot of blessedly unproductive time.

I'll be getting a stock NFE. So this beauty is on the block. I think it's sold already. I don't like turning around Elephants that quickly -- I've only had this a couple years -- but I have sell this off to finance the parts for the disc NFE.

I often roll the Pugsley on the HD trails on the way to the S. Shop. This super sweet hunk of sculpture showed up there one day. 

Lovely Liza.