Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Flower Power

I took the Ellsworth ultra-cross country MTB bike out for another mid-length (77-mile) cruise yesterday, which I must say was nearly a perfect day (temps high 70's) except I had headwinds in 3-directions of travel. Can anyone explain to me how that is possible? Maybe God has a sense of humor watching me or maybe He is just providing me with some additional resistance training (but we all know I don't train because that would be work). Anyway I just put on a smile and rode into the wind happily because it was a great, sunny day and I was happy to be out pedaling.

My ride was on dirt and gravel roads since there is still too much snow on my favorite trails. Some of these "roads" are far beyond rough compared the the smooth trails I ride. How bad can some of these roads be? They are so rough that your butt screams for mercy even on a full-suspension ride, your hands go numb from continuous jarring, you look at your ultra plush front fork often to see if it is even working anymore, your teeth rattle if you don't keep you jaw clinched, you pray you can continue to maintain 20-25mph speeds to help smooth out the ride some, and ultimately these roads fatigue every part of your body to a point of full-body exhaustion which makes you realize what suffering is all about. Good thing these sections are not too long (5-miles or less).

It was great to see the flowers are finally blooming up at the mid-level elevations - still quite late for around here, but they are always an uplifting sight. If fact I think wild flowers have special powers that stimulate and elevate my inner soul...it seems I can never get enough of them.

Hmmm...what's this stuff? I'm still finding many of my routes blocked by snow. I rode and trudged through some and had to back-track out on most. Again very unusual for this to go on so late in the year around here. I have no choice but to be patient and wait for the melting to be done.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tubeless 650B

The Ellsworth Truth went full tubeless today after I made some time to build up a tubeless 650B front wheel last night (I've had the parts for a while, but I've been a tad busy it seems). While I was at it I built up another tubeless rear wheel (yes I love tubeless wheels). On the front I mounted a "spare" Pacenti NeoMoto (truly a great all around MTB tire - a 10 on a 10-scale in my opinion, which is all that matters here). On the rear I put a Bontrager Revolt that I had laying around = fast tire, but cornering in loose stuff can be a real eye-popping experience.

So new wheels are like any new bike or bike part to me, which means it's thrash test time. So I jump on the Ells and start riding towards Asotin Creek with the intent of riding Asotin Creek Trail (some rather sweet single track). For the first 20 miles up Asotin Cr Rd. I typically ride fairly hard because I have a very strange obsession with timing myself from my house up to the S. Fork Asotin Cr. Rd...one of my many personal time trials (yes I'm weird). So I get up there and look at my elapsed time and pop a little grin after seeing I just cleared this section 2-minutes faster than I ever have. Hmmm...that one will be hard to top in the future.

Onward to Asotin Creek Trail I ran the new tubeless wheels through everything - even chased a bear down the trail for a short ways...I slowed a bit when my brain realized that the running rug which was nearly being shaved by the Pacenti 650B tire's ultra biting, burly knobs was indeed a bear that could realize at any moment he was running from a snack on wheels. OK enough of this I thought so I headed back the other way since the bear was not wanting to leave his grub rich little canyon area.

Back at the trail head I decided to see how far up the snow line was this week and proceeded up S. Fork Asotin Cr Rd. Near the top I never did find the actual snow line because the road became so muddy that it was deem impassable by me. No big deal...back down I went then up and back down Campbell Grade (for fun) before heading home.

After 72-miles everthing about the new tubeless wheels was perfect. Today was an easy test (mostly because the snow is taking it's time leaving this year). I'm still deviously planning the ultimate thrash test for this entire bike and I will be putting it through that test of all tests in the near future.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Turned Back by Snow...Again

Another well intended ride loop turned into an out-and-back due to an unforeseen circumstance...aka snow and plenty of it. The warmer weather here has me salvating to do one of my longish, super-duper-climbing-fest-mountain-bike loops, but it seems that I will have to wait a bit longer for the snow to melt. Last year in mid-March there was much less snow up there than now...evidently it was a banner snow year in the higher country this past season.

So instead of the planned 70-mile loop I had to settle for a 60ish mile ride to see some snow (actually I rolled in it some leaving an Eric angel riding a bike).

Nothing to complain about since it was the first day this year that I've been able to ride in shorts and without sleeves all day! Plus riding my Ellsworth Truth with the Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B tire up front is beyond your wildest pleasure to ride all day.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Gunnar Continued

The Gunnar Crosshairs has been getting the gentle loving break-in (aka super-duper all out thrash-testing) that I give every new bike I come aquire. The results thus far after 3-rides (226 road miles) in sun, rain, and even some snow have left me with big smiles and some tired legs.

(Please wipe the slobber off your computer screen)

The Salsa bars I'm using are nice, but they are still the typical and stupidly "traditional" road-type bars that have very little ergonomic design built in which makes my long-ride comfort somewhat less than desirable. I may yet change these out for some On-One Midge bars...a rather odd (and old) design that my hands and wrists seem to like for the most part.

I also have been having some fun revisiting canti-lever brakes again...they're always more interesting to set-up properly. The Paul's cantis are a fine piece of equipment and work well, wet or dry, so far.

Speaking of on the road...I like a little road ride now and then, but I still find road riding much less interesting than a back road (gravel grinder) any day. Hmmm...I will have to expand the testing to dirt some time soon, but I'm in no hurry since I have several capable gravel-grinder monster-cross bikes eager to take on the task at any time.

At this time I am running the drive train in the big ring (an all-around 48-tooth) since I am not sure if I really need a front derailleur yet. On the road the 48t combined with a 12-25 cassette seems to be plenty for both climbing and flat speeds, but I'm sure that once I hit some of those steep gravel ginder hills that I will be begging for that small ring. Overall the bike is still in rough draft form and I'm sure a few more changes (parts) are in the works (some sooner, some later)...I have not even put on my final bar tape since I am am still fine-tuning the fit for that perfect sweet-spot I seek out on every bike.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gunnar #2

It seems that my obsession to own-and-ride-every-bike-ever-made continues...meet Gunnar #2, a Crosshairs (that means it's a cyclocross bike that I intend to use as an all around ride).

Why #2? Because this is my 2nd Gunnar, my last one was a 29er mountain bike that a guy named Felix now owns.

This sweet steel frame arrived recently and of course I immediately built it up into a rideable condition. I ordered the frame with a Gunnar steel fork that Brice (owner of B&L Bicycles in Pullman, WA) talked this semi-weight weenie into because it provides "a better ride than carbon on the rough roads and other stuff" according to him. Well all I can say about the steel fork is WOW!!!...it provides a ride that beyond smooth, beyond belief...THANKS BRICE!!!

Even though I have extreme lustful bike desires for many bikes out there, I must admit that they have slowed to a near halt lately because of pure satisfaction with my current rides and this one is no exception.