Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just Another Nothing Ride

Lately I've been riding just about every bike I have except my Supercal 29er, which is almost back together again after I robbed parts off of it to get my Ellsworth Truth going. The Supercal is waiting for its crankset to be returned from the Ells as soon as it gets a new crankset...let's just say it's in the works at this time.

Today though I wanted to ride the 650B Ellsworth Truth in an attempt to do my Cape Horn loop. Everything started out well...The first 20-miles of the ride up Asotin Creek I usually ride as fast as I can (time trial you could say) just for fun - yes I am sick since I think that such a thing is fun. Anyway, I was curious to find out how the 650B Ellsworth would compare to my past times on other bikes (including the Ells setup as a 26" only bike). My fastest time ever was on the my Supercal 29er this summer at 1:08, but that was with a smokin tailwind (cheater), otherwise my fastest time was 1:12 on the same bike. The 650B Ellsworth suprisingly rolled through in 1:13 today...yes I was shocked a bit since it was cooler (typically slows me down some) plus I have been riding much less and hogging down plenty of not-so-health (very sickly fattening) holiday yum - which translates into decreased fitness and added weight (which I'm just sure has mostly resulted in massive fatty deposits on the inside of my arterties...aka future heart attack). I'm still pondering my result, but one thing is clear - my tire choice (Bontrager Jones ACX Tubeless - rear and Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B - front) is fast even if my ass is feeling fat.

After the first 20-miles I ran into soft road conditions (mud) and then the road transitioned into these incredibly slick ice fields that were quite interesting to ride. The tires I had on did a good job of maintaining traction and I stayed upright through it all. Then came the soft snow over the ice...hmmm that was even more fun to slip-slide though.

And finally above the 3000' elevation level I ran into hard crap-crust snow - a cursed snow crust that is very difficult to ride though since it is so hard crusted, but not so hard that you can ride on top of it...end result is a huge amount of resistance to forward motion which tranlates into slow, time consuming, and high effort riding (good training stuff, but I'm not training). This stuff was only a few inches deep, which was just enough to make riding through it difficult. Several miles into the crap-crust I bagged my attempt to do the Horn since it became obvious that I was going to run out of daylight due to the slowed forward progress. The trip back down was a frigid, white-knuckle blast - stayed upright though. In the end it was a 60-mile trip to nowhere with a wee 3700 feet of climbing just for fun.

On my way up Asotin Creek I did see another rider on a cross-bike coming down...this was the first time I've ever seen anyone else riding a bike on this road (see tracks very rarely). He gave a wave as did I also, but I wanted to stop or turn around and talk to him, but I was on a mission doing an I'm-not-training-time-trial. Maybe I will see this person again sometime, maybe not.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Riding Experimental 650B Truth

The Truth experiment using a 650B front wheel (that's a 27.5-inch tire) is revealing much better results than I ever expected...actually I was not sure how it would ride or handle even though I spent an abundant amount of time designing this thing (I knew a total flop was possible and just part of the risk that goes with bike experimentation).

I put a lot of miles on the Truth as a 26"-wheeled only bike so I already had a feel for it's handling and biases in different situations. Since putting the 650B wheel up front I have put a the bike through a few "gentle" thrash tests...the ride results thus far are truly amazing in comparison the the 26" only wheels. Just to be sure I was not on some euphoric new-bike high I swapped the front wheel back to the 26" a few times and found that the 650B wheel up front was the only way to go in everything I rode through.

My test have mostly been at Hells Gate State Park - a place I am beyond familiar with that has a huge variety of trail conditions and geograghy...i.e. twisty-fast single-track, an uphill with some obstacle laden switchbacks, a steep downhill that is always full of rocks and sometimes slick muddy patches, short-fast rollers (some with 90-degree corners and off-camber turns), big-ass endo rocks, ruts galore, deep sand patches, billions of horse-hoof divets, small (but deadly) rock gardens, weeds, and sometimes snow. So far the 650B front wheel has me smiling big on everything...

Soaking up trail-noise: The 650B-wheel really made a difference in soaking up the smaller trail noise similar to what I have found riding 29ers. Trail noise in this riding area are horse-hoof divits, which have a tendency to rattle your teeth a bit even with the finest forks. But the larger front wheel really shined in this stuff. I rear suspension of the Truth works so well that I never really notice the bumps transmitting from the rear wheel...hmmm once again dare I say it works as Ellsworth advertises.

Endo testing: The 650B-wheel also proved to be much more endo proof - I actually tried to endo in my favorite deep V-shaped rut and couldn't make the bike do it with the 650B-wheel, but with the 26" wheel on front it wanted to endo every time.

Cornering - WOW is all I can say...I was appoaching these well-known-to-me turns just as I have thousands of times before (i.e. brake just before the apex then let up and rail though), but I started noticing I could take the corners faster and faster until I was not braking at all - a scary-thrill to say the least. Again, just to be sure I was not on some sort of super-human high I rode the Truth with 26" wheels and one of my 29ers through the same stuff and could not come anywhere near to speed in the same corners, then I did it again on the 650B Truth and was again railing through at unchecked high speeds. A large part of this ability I would say comes from the tires - the Pacenti Neo-Moto grips remarkably well, yet it is a nice large volume, fast rolling tire...a rare combination.

Rocks, ruts, and sand: The 650B rolls over the worst of it with ease...let's just say that there is a huge difference between the 26" only Truth and the 650B Truth and say enuf said.

I even took it out at night and rode the entire place (including the Devil's Slide) after it snowed - again I must say that the Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B tire is beyond impressive for traction...I did not slide out or ever loose control on the worst of it, I popped in/out of ruts with ease, and basically rode to the limits of my lights (which was stooopidly fast since I was doing this alone). The only problem I encountered was a face-to-face near death collision with a set of terrified running antlers attached to a wild-eyed deer (I'll bet I was a little wild-eyed at about the same time plus I was screaming as I was braking hard).

I'm still planning more "tests" (rides in disguise)...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

650B Truth?

650B tire size? Let's see now, mountain biking wheels come in the oldish standby size that supports 26-inch diameter tires (the so-called standard), then along came the 29er stuff (29-inch diameter tires), and now there is a new (actually quite an old standard) size that is 27.5-inches that has long been dubbed 650B (not to be confused with 650C).

Hmmm...this new-old 650B idea really peaked my interest since I have been seriously looking into the concept of building or buying a full-suspension 69er (that's a large 29er front wheel and a small 26" rear wheel on the same bike). Why?...I have tried several 29er full-sussy bikes and just never felt at home one. On the other extreme I found I have a preference for 26" full-sussy bikes, but I also found that I dislike the small front wheel (it's much more prone to endo action and I really hate going over the handle bars). So the whole bigger wheel in front and smaller wheel in back on a full-sussy bike made sense to me and I wanted to find out if it would be the ultimate super-butt squish ride for me.

So I was drooling all over Trek's new top Fuel 69er (actually I still am - yes I want one) when Kirk Pacenti alone had a real 650B mtb tire made - that man has some serious faith in the 650B tire size to pony up the $$$ to have one mass produced (yes it takes money to make a tire mold). After many obsessive "research" hours spent looking over the whole 650B thing I decided I was going to build a FS bike of my choosing and drooling that was like the Trek 69er, but built with a 650B tire up front vs. the overly large 29er tire up front.

My Ellsworth Truth is the bike I chose - you may recall that in earlier posts I said the bike was a rough draft...well that rough draft has come much nearer to completion with a Pacenti Neo-Moto 650Bx2.3 tire mounted to a Velocity Blunt 650B front wheel laced to a DT Swiss 240 disc hub (HOT!!!) that I just built up. I also enhanced the rear wheel with a Bontrager Jones ACX tubeless tire mounted onto Stans Notubes ZTR 355 rim laced to a DT Swiss 240 disc hub. More enhancements are still planned so I have the say the bike is still in draft form.

The ride with the 650B front wheel is better than I had hoped...more testing (time trials, long hauls, and pure sufferage) as weather permits, but so far all I can do wonder in awe...Is this a bike I will actually keep longer than a few months? Any bets?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Beyond Words - The Ooohhhh-Aaaahhh Ride

Well, I rode the Ooohhh-Aaahhh bike today on some sweet single-track and I must say that the Ellsworth Truth (25-lb. rough draft version) has a ride quality that is beyond words. I was in awe riding it over the last 2-days on trails in the Spokane area.

This bike provides the smoothest, butt-friendly ride ever...let's just say that I can recall very few (like one) full-sussy bike that was this smooth. In addition to smoothness the suspension is essentially BOB free and provides amazing traction up ulta-steep, super-grunt climbs. So it works perfectly - dare I say it works exactly as advertised (something of a rarity in these days of over-hyped advertising).

Now that I have gently broken in this bike (180-miles of thrash testing) I am itching to do ride comparison with a Fisher HiFi 29er...I'm just not sure how to do that without a Fisher HiFi...hmmm...anyone want to lend me a HiFi to use for some gentle, thrash testing?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Ooohhhh-Aaahhhh Factor

Here is the "rough draft" version of another "I-must-own-and-ride-every-bike-ever-made" obsession...maybe this one will end that...



Meet the new stealth, all-day enduro machine
The ride? One word - Unbelievable!!! And this is the rough draft version?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meanderings Through Fall Color

Yes, my posting freqency on this Blog is still lame, but I've been busy doing other things (like feeding my complusive habits of biking and bikes and...well what else is there). Anyway just thought I'd share some more fall biking adventure pics with you all - fall is by far the best time of the year to ride around here.

As the weather has cooled, more of my rides are on my ultra-cool Gary Fisher Ferrous steel-framed 29er that I run as a single-speed (Fisher designed it so that you can change it to run with traditional yuk-gears or as a sweet single-speed). Let's just say that it is by far the best riding hard-tailed bike I've ever owned - smooth is a good word for it. I just can not believe that more people around here are not riding this bike (there seems to be plenty at B&L Bicycles).

For me this bike is a keeper (a rare thing for those of you that really know me).

Even though I am totally loving my Fisher Ferrous SS, that doesn't mean that I have lost all my temptations...hmmm

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Riding = Manic Rest

Yeah, yeah...I've been a bit lame on putting anything up here lately. I'm spending too much time researching and drooling over (obsessing about) new bikes and equipment coming out, not to mention working (so I can pay for this obsession) and yes riding what I have. Plus I constantly fiddle with changing things on my bikes just so I can experience another new idea my continous-motion mind has created. It's terrible to be me and having a mind that never seems to rest. Some people would say that I have a manic disorder of some kind, but the truth is I am really just another left-handed, analytically-possessed, right-brained genius who is being supressed by a lack of invention, that in our society is dependent on left-brained idiots who think they're analytical geniuses.

The one thing riding a bike ride does for me is calm the continous information flow in my mind. Heck if it weren't for riding I'd probably be entrapped by the scientfic society (like Einstein was) to solve everything we really don't need to know.

Anyway the pics here are from a rare, but always fun, ride with the SeanMan. This was just a typical trip filled with interesting sites to see - few of which I ever capture with a camera.

We went up on the Idaho side for a trip up McCorrmack Ridge then over to Flat Iron to complete a lolli-pop loop.
I have yet to understand why it's call "Flat" Iron because it is not flat. This 55ish mile ride has 6000+ feet of climbing. Good enough to call it a real ride.

It was a nice ride even though the SeanMan was a bit slow (a rare thing). I found out later that he was a little sickly for a few days which explained his lower motivation that day. He's better now as ever.

This was the second MTB ride I had done in a week with someone other than myself - a new record for this area. I'm not sure why people don't find riding mountain bikes for 50-100 miles's much more fun and entertaining than riding a road bike on (yawn) paved roads that far. Anyway, several days earlier I had ridden a 60ish mile dirt-road MTB loop with a young man named Jacob who will be very fast someday I assure you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Crisp Air Rides are Starting

Today was another awesome day with hints of fall in the morning air. Fall, with its crisp cool air, is my favorite time of the year around this country. I usually get excited about riding again after the hot days are cooled down with the change of seasons. Today I did a nice little ride up Weissenfels Ridge Rd. to the Anatone area and back on Meyers Ridge Rd...a ride that covers 58-miles, with 5000-ish feet of total climbing, and takes a bit over 4-hrs... although I think I could do it in less than 4-hrs if I pushed it some up the Weissenfels Ridge Grade (steep to say the least).

Anyway I was psyched to ride today and can only say it was all fun. The Gunnar proved once again to be a sweet ride - I am really liking the flexibility that the steel provides vs. the aluminium bikes I have been riding in these areas. And the really cool thing about the Gunnar it has the capability to mount a rack on the back...hmmmm I wonder where that idea will lead me?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gunnar Steel MTB (Anticarbonism Continues)

I am never sure how these things happen, but a nicely equipped (decked-out) steel Gunnar 29er mountain bike showed up in box on my back door-step a few days ago...the price was incredibly right I must say and I am weak when a good offer is "sent" to me. I have been chomping at the bit to get on it, but I of course had to work some this week (got to pay for these things somehow).

It went out for it's maiden voyage with me today and as usual my first "test" ride on a mtn bike is nothing short or easy. The Gunnar took me on an 87-mile backcountry tour with 9K of climbing over some serious pain inducing grades. The day was spectacular, the bike was flawless, and I found that this steel frame provided serious forgiving flex (as most steel does) which made todays torture test tolerable.

I'm sure there will be things I will change as I tinker with it over the next few weeks. First up I'm pretty sure the Avid Juicy-7 brakes will have to go...they are nice stoppers, but have a tendency to not retract the calipers consistently, which means brakes drag, which means they slow me down, which makes me angry, which makes me want to pull them off mid-ride and throw them in the ditch, which could later lead to a crash because I was going too fast down a hill and missed a corner, because earlier I ripped that brakes off my bike and threw them in the ditch, because I was in a raging mood, because the stupid things were just slowing me down for no reason....

Here are some pics I took with a red-orange landscape backgound courtesy of an arial slurry bomber that dropped fire retardant...

The reason for the fire retardant drop...the place was a blazin recently...

Nap time after snack time...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Anti-Carbonism - The Revolution is in Me

Introducing my latest "project" that I've named the Super-Bee for obvious reasons.

It is an early 1970s vintage steel Motobecane (that's Moto-bee-con) and it is by far the least expensive bike I've owned plus it's a blast to ride. The bike came with gears (ho-hum, yawn) that I found annoying to even look at so I stripped it down to the single-speed (SS) level. The large ring had a wobble which made it useless to sell so I shaved it down into an outer ring guard (hacksaw, file, a beer and some time does wonders on custom projects).

Someone recently stated to me that the reason I ride SS is because I am not smart enough to shift...well maybe, but more likely the reason is that I just enjoy SS with its simplicity and challenges...

I'm still trying to decide what to do with the narrow, funky handle that yellow bar foam though... I had a saddle sitting around that is perfect for the Super-Bee scheme the bike has going for it...

And in case you didn't notice, this bike is 100% anti-carbon...

In the last year or so I've been struggling with carbon and steel frames...carbon is super light, has some give on rough roads, and makes me drool plenty. Several weeks ago at B&L Bicycles I put my hands on a new 2008 Trek Madone super-bling, made-me-drool-all-over, ultra-light carbon road bike. I was instantly wanting this thing and still do to some extent. But, after a few weeks of pondering my bike situation (i.e. I've only ridden my carbon road bike (Trek Pilot) 280-miles since the 1st of the year) I realized that I have unknowingly developed a preference for steel framed bikes.

I have been much more apt to get on my LeMond Poprad cross bike and ride the road than on my Trek carbon bike. And then there was the other night when I was riding the ancient Super-Bee SS with some friends... somehow I was leading and I took one of my usual routes on roads close to the of the group on a carbon roadbike came up to me and stated that they never ride this road since it is so rough...I honestly never noticed it, but then again I was riding a yellow & black steel tank. I pointed out to him that he was on a carbon bike and shouldn't it ride smooth on this chip-seal??? He grumbled something. Hmmm...I started thinking again that maybe steel is really that much better.

As far as my single-speed mountain bikes I have not once ridden my Fisher Rig (an aluminum frame) since getting the Fisher Ferrous 29er (a steel frame).

Why has this happened??? I can only say that the steel frames provide such a nice ride that I have developed a blind preference for them. I've always heard that with time steel becomes the frame material of choice for rigid frames for most riders due to it's comfort (it flexes), value, and longevity. Titanium probably would be a top choice if it was not so blasted expensive (the typical Ti frame runs $2800-3500+). The Poprad and Ferrous steel frames have changed my outlook on bike materials and have lead me to my current anti-carbonism. I can not stop the anti-carbon revolution within me...more to come on this I'm sure...

Beyond my anticarbon antics I still get out now and then for a ride in the local's the profile of a short little dirt/pave road ride I did the other day on my Poprad up Couse Creek Road to Edeburn Gulch then down Weissenfels road. Edeburn Gulch should be renamed Thorn Gulch because there were thorns everywhere on that steep so called (goat-path) road. Once again for the locals' reference, Critchfield Grade are the little bumps on either side of the profile...another easy riden on a 100-degree day...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some HOT numbers

Just another day's numbers...

89 miles

7 hrs 20 minutes of ride time

10,400 feet of climbing

8.5 liters of fluid intake (4 liters more at home after ride)

104 degrees F with a blast furnace like wind...

The burnt climb up George Creek...

It looked like the whole country side had burned up recently...a lone tree survived here...

Aahhhh...pure clean water...the essence of life on a day like this...This is Seven Sisters Spring - It's the first time I've been to this well hidden spring. The water is cold and tastes great!

The profile...the first rather steep pitch is the George Creek grade (a real grunt). The ride tops out at just over 6100 feet. Lots of steep ups and downs along the way which overall adds about 4000 more feet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back to 100 in Hell

I just got back from a longish visit with the many friends and family we have in Montana and North Dakota...I had a great time but was kind of a whirlwind tour. Spent some time on the Sperry Horse Ranch (wife's cousins) who have over one-hundred horses. The Sperrys are 100% pure country...they are true and some of the best people I have ever known. It was amazing that so many of the people out there were coming up with places for me to ride a bike, but I didn't bring a bike on this trip. Instead I rode many horses...that's not a typo - I have a horse-crazed wife who owns 6-horses and my past is loaded with a fair amount of horse riding and training...yep I have a soft-spot for horses too.

I came home disappointed that nothing has changed...the Idaho redneck Hickabillies still think it's fun to run me down with their monster trucks (2 times on this ride these Idaho butt-winks forced me to the very edge of the road - an this was in Washington)...beyond that, the L-C Valley still smells like Hell, looks like Hell, and is hot as Hell. With the 100+ temps I am convinced this demonic place is truly the Gateway to Hell (just like they proudly advertise here).

With the sub-inferno temps further parching the already ultracrispy-ready-for-a-massive-friggin-fire-sun-bleached landscape I ventured out to higher cooler ground.

I drove to the Asotin Creek Trailhead in the Subi...yeah I shamefully drove the 20ish miles of treeless-hot-convection-oven-canyon that I normally ride...believe me it was worth the gas for the ride through the cool forest that waited.

The scenery is almost fall-like up near the trailhead...I typically don't see this kind of color until the latter part of August (early fall)...just another indicator of how crispy-dry it is out there.

I rode up another new route around Cape Horn that I have been wanting to explore.
Hmmm...looks like I found the Dead-Horse Trail ....

A few bighorns keeping watch on a very hot slope (can you say "stooopid")

At the 5100-feet elevation only a few flowers are left to provide some happy color to the dry bleakness...