Thursday, February 28, 2013

all the kids are jealous

There's just too much cool shit out there, with the National Handmade Bike Show pics floating around all over the interwebz you can't help but oogle all the cool stuff. While most of it will never see mass production some really cool stuff is created and not just left as an idea on a drawing board. Fat bikes were all the rage from what I understand and from the looks of the pics I can see that was true. The one that really caught my attention was the Moots IMBA RCR trail work bike, complete with a 6er for those hard working trail gnomes. I really need one.

I even saw a downhill fat bike with a triple crown fork, crazy stuff. I can't, not mention Specialized's new 29er Enduro, while technically not the first, definitely one of the cooler, most well designed 6" travel 29er's. Of course there was some of the anti 29er crowd calling it stupid but come on why waste your breath. You know it was gonna happen and it won't stop there. 29" wheels are here to stay, so are 650b and fat bikes and whatever else the engineers/artists can dream up. Why would you want it to stop with 26? There will always be someone out there trying and building new things, if there weren't, this sport might become stale. I say if you don't like 29" wheels or fat bikes that's fine with me but keep the negativity to yourself.

After my post about the Club Ride Apparel I noticed another company, Zoic has jumped into the fray with their version.

It seems to be geared more to the cold weather gear line up but I'm digging it just as well. With the looks of our weekend's weather forecast I could use one of those flannel shirts to ride in. At least they're not calling for rain and snow. I'm ready for some warm, dry riding weather. This is the most time I've spent off the bike in a long time and I'm done with it. Wait.... I'm pretty sure I've said this before, recently.

My newest edition of Bike Mag came in the mail yesterday and when I reached the Bike Review section the first sled I saw was the Transition Kunker, it was glorious! I love that bike even and while the testers made fun of it in a round about way when comparing it to today's modern bikes they both agreed it was the most fun they've had on a bike in a long time. Both made immediate plans to obtain one for their own quiver. For once I felt a sense of pride, I have something they do not.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

what to wear

Normally I don't do product reviews but after yesterday's ride I certainly feel compelled to do so. Maybe because I'm hoping some of the LBS crew will read this and take note.

For Christmas I put a Club Ride jersey, on my wish list and Melinda got it for me. I've worn it around town a couple of time but since it's short sleeved yesterday was the first day I've really had a chance to try it out on a ride. I loved it, definitely a pricey jersey but if you stop to think about the fact that it's made in Sun Valley Idaho, not a Chinese sweatshop and it can double as a nice shirt for a pub crawl or to dinner with the misses it's not a bad deal.

Other than looking really cool it felt really comfortable unlike some form fitting jerseys I own. It does have 2 zippered pockets on the lower back and 2 breast pockets though I didn't use them. I never felt constricted in it and I'll definitely buy another one soon, maybe next payday but soon enough.

I know some of the racing kids will probably think the look is dumb or silly but anymore I ride to have fun and I get compliments on it everytime I wear it, on or off the bike. This year I'll probably shift more to the baggy side of clothing unless it's scorching hot. Sometimes I feel the full lycra kits look silly, especially when your out on a big fun ride with the crew.

I know this isn't a proper gear review breaking down the jersey in fine detail but frankly those bore me. The bottom line is, the jersey was comfortable and the fit and look were spot on.

Friday, February 22, 2013

harlem shake?

What is up with all these stupid Harlem Shake videos? Will someone please explain this to me? They're everywhere, in an attempt to figure what this craze is all about I asked Melinda if she had any idea. Her response, "Is it like a shake you drink?" I explained to her what I'd seen and she looked at me like I was crazy. Just last night I hit the You Tube app on my "smarter than me" phone and without doing a search I counted 9+ different "Shake" videos. It's so popular old folks homes are doing it, swim teams, celebrities, and even some of my local businesses are doing it. I'm not sure why but I feel like I'm always out of the loop on the newest Facebox trends. I guess I don't spend as much time on there as Melinda says I do.

I'm ready for this yo yo weather to get warm and dry and stay that way, my allergies are having a fit and I'm ready for the trails to stay dry longer than 2 days. It seems the best days to ride lately are the days I'm at work. The one good thing about this weather is it's easier to get trailwork done, not that I need a reason to do it. I'm actually a bit obsessed with it lately. Creating a new trail the way you have always wanted and then getting to ride it is a waaay better feeling than cleaning a technical section you've been trying to clean for years or winning your first race. Why is that? Well cause the glory of a trail finished with your handy work lasts indefinitely, that is unless you're building illegal and someone finds out and tears down your trail.

The only bad thing about my obsession is the fact that I tend do it more than I should. My lower back does not like this nor does Melinda when I let it get in the way of things that need to be done around the house. Luckily there are a few local guys who seem to be as obsessed with it as much as I am, some even worse, but don't tell them I said anything. The folks who ride our trails and never lend a hand far out weigh the trail gnomes.

Maybe if I made a Harlem Shake trail gnome video that would change? Nah

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

klunking ain't free

I've been debating on writing here for a while, blogging is time consuming. Maybe if I wrote shorter pieces more often I wouldn't have as much to say when I finally get around to writing. Good thought, maybe I'll keep this thing for a bit longer. Facebox has definitely killed the blog but I'd flood it with posts if I said everything I wanted to on there.
Anyways, on to more important matters, Klunking, one of my new favorite things to do.
Damon and I made the inaugural ride last night at our monthly Bays Night ride. Not really the type of ride this bike was suited for but it's a slower paced ride meant for beginner night riders that I figured would be a good time to get my feet wet. I had more fun riding that bike than I've had in a long time.
Needless to say I was a bit sore after pushing the 36x18 gear, normally I run a 32x20 on the FROG but I had a blast and pushed it less than I thought I would. Once you get that thing rolling a few stomps of the pedals and you're up the hill. The hard part was keeping that flow going when the geared folks are downshifting in front of you.
I thought that between the gear I was running, the wheels being 26" and the frame fully rigid I would struggle but not so. The only thing I ran into trouble with was learning to ride coaster brakes on singletrack. You really have to anticipate when you need to brake and make sure your pedals are in the proper position. I need to work on my power slides and jumping on flats, I suck at both. Damon on the other hand was a  natural with his BMX background.

One thing I did learn, a proper tool for bolt on hubs is a must from now on. I forgot if you drop a chain you have no brakes, Damon dropped his 5 or 6 times during last nights ride and it was scary, luckily not collisions with trees. Neither of us had anything to tighten the rear hub bolts.
My next ride, I'll focus more on riding downhill and trying to hone my skills a bit.
The only blood shed last night was me, trying to jump the Klunker and forgetting I wasn't clipped in. My BKB sock took a bit of damage too but they're tough and don't bleed.

Another first last night was my new Kali helmet with it's built in camera/light mount. The helmet came with a grab bag of mounts but unfortunately Cygolight wasn't one of them. A bit of drilling and I was able to make it work but I do need some fine tuning to make the fit more precise.

Monday, January 28, 2013

this weather blows

Man this weather SUX, yeah you know it too. The last couple of winters here in the south have been warmish and dry, spoiling us and allowing us to pretty much ride comfortably all year round. Riding year round even in the cold is not unheard of, I do it every year and have plenty of cold weather gear to combat the temps but this cold, wet weather is really taking a toll on me. The trails are a soggy mess and are pretty much unrideable right now. With 100% chance of rain on Wednesday it doesn't look like much will change anytime soon. Too warm to snow and too cold to dry out before the next round of precipitation.

I've been very tempted to get back out there and start running again but I'm not gonna lie when I say I'm scared too. If I don't get in some sort of ride in the next 2 weeks I'll be forced to test the waters.

Even the past 2 trailwork days have been cancelled due to the sucky weather, we're getting behind on a ridiculously full work schedule and it's driving me crazy.

Alot of progress has been made in the way of trail sign production. Joe and Daniel have been cranking them out left & right from the dry confines of their garages. My end of the deal though, painting the signs, is starting to stack up.

In all my down time I was doing a bit of reading lately, bikes of course but a topic about beer cellars and aging beers caught my eye. After reading about where the best place to store beers that you're aging is a dark basement with a steady temp range of 50-65 degrees I realized the potential my basement has. A few days later I was strolling through the high gravity beer aisle at my local package store when I noticed a new shipment of Sam Adams brew specifically created for this aging process. I figured this must be a sign so I bought my first two and promptly deposited them in the basement hoping I won't be tempting to crack them open early.

Speaking of fine aging, Ocho is growing like a weed and becoming a fine dog. He's definitely a smart one, I wish I had the patience to train him properly. Unlike Moonshine when he does get to ride in the cab of my truck he sits very still and is calm. Moonshine can't and won't do this, even in her old age, riding up front is too muchexcitement for her, she whines and paces constantly. As soon as things dry up I plan to start teaching Ocho the way of trail riding.

With no opportunity to ride I have had plenty of time to do a bit of bike maintenance. Another new handle bar was ordered, this one for the FROG, a matchy matchy Niner Green one. I honestly wasn't planning to go with the green but there was a killer sale and the only color choices were green or orange. I thought hard for a minute about the orange but decided a little too much matchy matchy was better than the orange.

It's a sharp looking bar and I was really tempted to remove all the shifty bits from the handle bar space and make the FROG an SS again but again I held off with my lower back in mind. I'm pretty much pain free but I don't want to push my luck.

Our 2013 calendar is filling up quick, almost too quick, luckily it's all fun bike related trips and adventures. A recent invitation to join a local racing team was extended and while it was tempting I'm standing firm as of now with my decision to pass in favor of keeping my summer free to do rides that are all about the fun factor.

I may throw my hat into the racing ring later this year but as of now I have no race plans on my agenda.

Monday, January 21, 2013

spilling the beans

It's really no secret, I'm not good at keeping quiet when it comes to new bikes. I'm like a little kid at Christmas all giddy with excitement.
A few weeks back, at a ride I missed out on or some sort of adventure in the woods probably involving a couple of beers and idea was spawned to have a klunker build off and ride by this spring. An announcement was made of sort via the Facebox and I immediately jumped on the bandwagon.
About this same time Transition bikes debuted a new bike the "Klunker" an ode to the pioneers of mountain biking. 26" wheels, steel retro look frame, singlespeed, coaster brake and no suspension. All the newest, latest and greatest technology was throw out the window for a straight in your face good time the old school way.
Originally I had planned to build up a klunker like everyone else in the build off with a real old school frame salvaged from where ever you could find one. The more I thought about it the more I was leaning toward buying the Transition, even though I knew I would take some heat for it.
As I weighed out the pros and cons of the 2 different routes I realized I would probably spend on the higher end of the $200-$400 spectrum of building an old school bike. A bike I knew would only be ridden a handful of times and would likely break by the years end due to off-road riding it wasn't designed for. This happened back in the original klunker days hence the start of some of the most famous bike companies in history.
Enough of the history lesson, basically I decided to go ahead and buy the Transition because I knew it would last and in all honesty get ridden more. I don't fully expect to ride it every week but hey the complete bike it cost less than some wheelsets I've purchased in the past.
I almost missed the boat in scoring this one, I looked vigorously online for one and ended up grabbing one at the Hub in Brevard NC. The entire first run of these sold out before they hit the bike shops, I got very lucky.
I guess I'm a member now.
Buying a bike with 26" wheels was something I thought I would never do again. I've heard the argument made that 29" wheels make mountain biking too easy. The same argument could be said for gears, big suspension travel, hydraulic brakes, carbon fiber, seatpost droppers etc....
I know this bike won't quiet the naysayers, I didn't buy it too. I bought it because it's gonna be fun as hell to ride. I'm really not the anti 26er person everyone thinks I am. I might lead a few to believe that online but that's mainly for my own amusement. Call me an instigator if you want, I know I am.
Where will I ride it? I've got a few ideas, I doubt I'll be doing any big xc rides on it. Most of the rides this bike will see will consist of pushing up hill and riding down and a handful of urban assaults, CRAWL anyone?
It came with a 44x18 drivetrain but I knew that was silly for my taste and ability so I swapped the front chainring to a 36, still a bit steep for anything with much incline but I'll manage or push it.
For now my plans are to rock it with flat pedals and my old school bmx helmet, I never rode bmx but it made for a great snowboard helmet. Anything else just seems silly.
Oh yeah, I wasn't alone when I made this purchase, there might be another Tranny Klunker lurking in the Tri-Cities but I'll let that individual spill their own beans.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

what do I plan to do with 2013?

1360 and some change, that was my off-road mileage for the year and as usual I have no idea what my road mileage was, those miles don't matter. At first I was certain that this was less than what I rode last year but after a bit of research I realized I beat my 2011 mileage of 1342. Hot damn I wasn't a slacker after all.

I set the goal of 1500 early in the year but then quickly decided I needed to focus on being more physically fit all around than just a stronger rider. With that I began lifting more weights, which obviously didn't stick once the warm weather kicked in and I also focused on running more which stopped all together once I started experiencing lower back pain again. After a couple months of ice & ibuprofen I decided it was time to let my body rest and start searching for an alternative to healing. Through a friend I found a book on how to make lower back pain a thing of the past, all without the help of doctors and modern medicine. Seven quick and easy exercises that I do regularly even when I'm not experiencing pain have help me become mostly pain free over the past couple of weeks. For a while I was living off of ibuprofen and I didn't like the idea of relying on medicine to help me get through the day, now I don't have to and I feel better about it.

So my goals for this year? To continue or should I say pick up where I left off in being more fit all around for one, I really have my work cut out for me. Will I start running again? I'm not sure. Also I plan to focus more on giving back to my local trails and cycling community. This year we have more opportunity to build and revamp existing trails than we have ever had, so much opportunity that I don't see us getting it all done in the next 2 years. That my friends is a good thing. Not getting it done won't be because of a lack of trying, we'll be working hard at it every month. The real question is, who will come out and join us?

In the past year we've really seen a growth in new fresh faces showing up to the trail workdays. Yeah we don't see huge numbers like some of the bigger cities but we are seeing double the amount of participants coming out to lend a hand. The cool thing is that most are excited about doing the work and some complain when we are forced to cancel a workday due to weather. That right there makes me smile and very proud of my fellow singletrack friends.

Am I satisfied with what we've accomplished? Yes but don't expect me to settle for it, I will continue to push for more, and I will continue to encourage people to come out and lend a hand in creating one of the best areas in TN for mountain biking. So here's to the new year, better health and new trails to ride, chock full of roots, rocks, berms and jumps!

See you at the next workday!