Saturday, July 26, 2014

Digging the Pugs

I've not posted much on the Pugsely since Glen got it for me. Of course, I don't post much about anything anymore...

The Pugs is a great bike. The virtual ink that is spilled about the Pugs, and fatbikes in general, tends to be of the extreme (ya know, epic) types: guys rolling across deserts or through the snow of Alaska's winter or along the remote shores of some far away place. That's sweet stuff for sure. And there's a part of me that would love to do some long weird journey on that bike.

But I've really enjoyed letting the Pugsley sort of wiggle its way into my non-epic lifestyle. Last winter there were a bunch of snowy days where I loved rolling down the hill 3 miles to my bus stop. At 6 AM on a quiet morning with fresh layer of snow, the Pugs was the perfect fun way to start the work day. Not surprisingly, the Pugsley makes a great snow commuter.

Glen and I took a few rides in the dirt out at Riverside, where the monster knobby contact patch of the Nates allowed me to rail into fast corners in a way I've not done on any bike. The familiar trails I've ridden a bunch of times on cross bikes and mountain bikes were transformed into a whole new experience on the Pugsley.

And this summer, I've been bringing the Pugsley up to the river. As expected, it's been a perfect roller for cruising down the dirt road to the beaches beyond our spot. But the last few weeks I've been putting the Pugsley to work and it's probably the most satisfying of all the experiences I've had on the bike.

The fishing has been rough for the last few weeks. My normal spots are skunking me out. I have a couple bucket panniers on the Puglsey that I load up with fishing stuff, beer, food, and other crap. Until recently, I just treated the Pugsley like a car: taking the roads to my favorite holes.

But a couple days ago, after getting skunked, I was ready to saddle up and ride back. I was frustrated. I wanted to go further around the bend on the river, away from the road. I've walked through there before but it's a long walk on round boulder-y rocks, and walking sucks and takes forever. Then duh... it hit me -- the Pugsley was made for that shit. I took a bunch of air out of the tires and started pedaling up the river. And it was glorious.

I rode through sand, mud, rocks, and through shallow sections of the river. I rode up over the edges overlooking the river -- these were curvy sections of the river far away from the road. I still got skunked the whole way. But it opened up a huge set of possibilities.

There are a bunch of places on the river that I've fished before by floating/hiking, and that's fun, but it's a commitment because I end up miles from home and with a long walk back or reliant on coordinating a ride back. But with the Pugsely, I can keep all my crap on the bike and just ride it out. It's silly how long this took me to realize this.

Some folks call it a Sling Blade, I call it a Kaiser Blade.
The other thing I've been doing is using the Pugsley to cart my trail-blazing equipment. It's the same deal: I've got to cross a lot of forests with tall bushes and grass, lumpy forest floor, and a bunch of small deadfall. On the Pugs, it's fun and easy. I've got one trail about 3/4 finished and another in the hopper. I'm motivated.

The Pugsley makes a great workhorse.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SH-80 is back in business

I stole the rear wheel off the cycle truck a few months ago when the Kogswell showed up.

Alex recently gave me a rear wheel for the cycle truck. Then a couple days later, Justin showed up with a forgotten gem: the original rear wheel from the old tandem. The great thing about this old wheel is that it is threaded for a drum brake. The even better thing about the wheel is that it's super old 6-speed and only spaced at 135mm. So bam... I spun the old Araya drum brake on there and crammed the whole outfit into the SH-80.

When Alex made the cycle truck, he included a parking braking under the chainstays: a u-brake deal that is actuated by a downtube shifter. The fortuitous thing about using the u-brakes is that the brake mounts are drilled for a derailleur cable, so cable routing to the rear arm on the Araya drum brake came for free! Stuff never works out like that for me. I'd like to think Alex had that planned out.

By using a shifter to work the brake, I can use the brake as a drag for long descents with lots of weight -- and it won't overheat. Admittedly: this is an over-wrought and mostly unnecessary feature for how I use this bike, but I'd like to think I may find myself at the top of Sherman Pass someday with a full load to deliver down to the river.

Mileage-wise: this cycle truck has always been the trailer by a long shot. But measured by quality of rides, this bike is right up there. It's a great fit. And loaded up, it's just effortless to roll around on. I strapped the monster Wald on there and made a store run this morning. Lemon-squeezy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Bats were out in force a few nights ago. I took a bunch of pictures. Here are two that have bats. 

Click for big, then squint.

Not my best work. But it's hard to top this one. I shall press on.

Eberly took a bunch of pics too, hoping to capture the elusive, photo-shy flying mammals. While I can't find any bats in his photos, he did get an action shot of Pat Rick smacking a mosquito:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Pats and Eberly

I rare treat... Pat Rick, Pat, and Eberly at the river for a couple rides.

Beth and Mike: if that's not great, I don't know what is. The MortBorns were here for a day too. Beth woke up at 5 and took a ride to the sandy beach. Mike rode down there at about 8 am and found her asleep on the beach. 

The Pats, Eberly, and I took a ride on one of my favorite loops. It's about 19 miles. Most of it is climbing. With a great descent.

It's frigging hot up here. We all wanted Pat Rick's hat. He was riding Pat's bling Elephant.

Eberly. Post-descent.


The river trike: doing triple duty.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fishing, rivering, and such

Since school ended a few weeks ago, I've really been lucky to be able to jump into summer with both feet. I'll be doing some work now to build up the bank, but there are still a number of long weekends and a couple weeks of summer adventuring in the hopper.

The Kettle River is in prime mode ride now. We spent a few days up there: swimming and fishing mostly. We also did a couple chill bike rides. There is more riding to be done up there... I've sort of drifted away from the longer, super epic day rides and now I favor shorter rides that take a couple hours instead of all day. There are a bunch of 20-30 mile, super scenic loops out there with lots of road surface options and excellent climbs.

"Entering Ferry County"

Sisters Betsy and Tracie foolishly trusted me to pick a "shortcut" home one morning. This looked a lot more like a road in real life.
More "road." With a half day of work this old right-of-way could be cleared into a ridable shortcut. It cuts a few miles of highway riding off by crossing public FDR Recreation land. Win-win.

I took the lasher rack off this bike. I shouldn't have done that, since the lasher makes a great fishing pole holder.

And the monster Swift bag makes a better day fish tripper than this little Ostrich.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Readying the Pink Elephant for summer

About a month ago, I bent the crap out one of my front racks. Dig it:

See how the rack is really a lot out alignment with the front tire... all of those lines should be parallel. I run things pretty willy-nilly by most bike nerd standards -- or really, any standards, but this kind of wonkery is even too much for me. The amount this thing bent was way out of proportion for the little wreck that caused the bending...a brief explanation of how I did this is here. But in technical terms: there was a lever involved to make the bending really pop.

Anyway -- the Pink Elephant is moving into summer mode, albeit a bit behind schedule. One part of this transition --  an important part -- is to get this rack back on it.

So I asked Glen if he had a bit of time to day to unwind this rack. He did. So I went down there and the rack fix turned into kind of a mini overhaul.

To wit:

- Glen straightened out the rack and welded a broken seam back together
- He realigned the rear triangle, caused by an event where I may or may not have gotten in some kind of minor wreck.
- He fixed the shifting in the rear by replacing some housing and lubing stuff -- whoa! what a difference!
- He inspected and repacked my rear hub, which is rather notchy. He spun the rear wheel and told me to hold the pedal as the wheel spun. "Feel that?" he asked. There was a solid, notchy vibration coming through the hub, into the frame, into the cranks and into the pedal. "Maybe?" I answered.

Turns out the rear cone on the non-drive side of the hub was well-pitted. Looking at the tiny, irregular little pitted spots on the cone, it didn't seem so bad to me, but Glen assured me that it was as bad as he's seen. This wheel has been around. I bought it new -- the whole wheel -- from Rivendell over 7 years ago. It first lived on the Hairy Garyized Trek 520. I think it went on Liza's RB-1 conversion after that. Then my orange Elephant. Now this one.  It's seen a lot of hard miles. I've probably repacked it once during that time... during my "it's important to maintain your hub phase" of aught nine.  Glen didn't have a proper replacement cone, so I'll get one and put it in there.

And while he had the bottom bracket removed, he drilled a drain hole.

Earlier last week, I removed the fenders and swapped out the slicks with knobbies.

Word. The Pink Elephant is ready for summer riding and exploring.

In other news -- look at this kid climb this hill:

It's hard to capture the steepness of a hill in a photo, but this is a good little grade that goes for about 1/4 of a mile. Apparently, walking is not an option.  

 This is my old campus bike -- Maddie has commandeered it. It's your basic cruiser gearing, which is fairly large and in-charge if you're evaluating it in the context of hills.