Saturday, November 12, 2022

My Bike Addiction

Addictions can be good or bad...I have yet to determine if my habitual bike buying/selling addiction is good or bad. Some people seem very content with one bike forever...not me, I want to try the newest stuff all the time. I've spent both time and money discovering what works for me and what is plainly useless for me...I found I hate the so called "gravel" bikes; I still prefer a mountain bike and flat bars on gravel any day (just as I have been doing since the I started riding mountain bikes in the mid-1980s. I've also found that my preference in fat bikes is narrower fat tires (yes that is paradoxical) and I prefer very a specific geometry (which most manufacturers don't make). 

In the last few years major increases in pricing has definitely forced me to choose bikes and parts that I would want to keep long term vs. try them out. I thought I was on a roll with my Chumba bikes...I was rather determined to make the titanium Chumba Stella a long term, do everything ride...

But then I "needed" a steel Chumba Sendero for single speed only use and during my wait for the Sendero and older Engin custom steel frame pinged the radar and so it ended up in my shop. 

Then the Sendero arrived a few months later. 

Everything was good, I was all set for a long time with what I had, but the radar pinged again on a used Funk La Ruta 29+ for a decent price (something I've wanted since 2016 when I first saw one but the frame price was always just too much for me to buy one). And as expected the La Ruta hit my shop. 

Then the radar pinged once more and a Waltworks custom steel fat bike showed up at my shop. BOOM...I went from some sort of self control and contentment to over abundance. 

My poor wife can't keep up with what I have and sometimes starts looking a little google eyed at me when a box is delivered or something appears amiss in the colors hanging on the "bike wall" or when her bike is in a new position. 

The Engin arrived in March and is a super smooth dreamy ride for a rigid bike. It has an older geometry with I am partial to for gravel and forest road/trail riding. I smile every time I ride it and in fact started choosing it over my titanium Chumba Stella since the Engin is waaayyy smoother to ride. The Stella has a lot less "give" due to the thickness of the titanium tube it is made with (not all titanium tubing is friendly to ride compliance). The steel Chumba Sendero also had a nicer ride quality than the Stella but I was not overly happy with the feel of the Sendero geometry. 

The La Ruta ruined everything...a short travel full-suspension, light weight titanium frame that can be run as single speed and take up to 29x3.0" tires hit every possible interest for me. I set it up as a single speed with 3" tires...I wanted to hate it because I told myself that the Chumba bikes were all I needed and I was sure the rear suspension on the La Ruta would prove to be just as awful feeling as almost all of my past full suspension bikes. I've never kept a full suspension bike very long since with few exceptions they either feel inefficient or actually ride like a slug due to poor design.

Riding the La Ruta was dreamy smooth, pedaling is efficient even without the rear suspension locked out, it's light, corners well, goes up and down badass stuff amazingly well...I could not find a single dislike except that I would have designed the geometry a little different (like tuck the rear wheel in a bit more and slightly shorten the top tube). It made both Chumba bikes feel harsh and after a few months of debating with myself I sold both Chumba bikes and I'm currently very happy with what I have. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022


This week passed 2-milestones: 1) It’s been 2-years since I survived a brain stem hemorrhage, 2) I turned 60. 

I still have a few (permanent) side effects from the hemorrhage but nothing that stops me from living a good life. 

And as far as my age… well I certainly don’t feel 60, but to be honest I had a lot of preconceived false ideas of how the age 60 should be and feel. 

I still prefer a single speed bike and mostly I opt for a rigid fork. I read about a lot of other people my age or less going the opposite way with age (more suspension and bigger gears or e-bike) which is fine…maybe I’ll trend that direction when I feel a need to (like when I’m almost 100).  A few years ago I was faced with the reality of a near death experience…I’m happy to be here and I’m still willing to work for every moment I have left (just be aware that most if not all of my “work” is my enjoyment of life here). 

My single speed e-bike…no suspension, no dropper post and powered only by me…

Friday, December 31, 2021

CHUMBA - Ice Biking the Year End

 On December 1st I was riding in shorts over paths growing green grass (the deer and elk were happy) and my flowers were still blooming at home.

But around here one thing is predictable: Snow will come...It did and has not stopped.

So the logical solution is snow tires, studs are even better considering the ice under the snow. I don't own a fat bike this year (only because the whole supply system is a little messed up and politicized on to top it all off) so there is no option other than my CHUMBA Stella. I've found it works quite well on the ice roads.

Today's temps are 60 degrees cooler than at the beginning of the month. Gone are the December flowers, green grass, budding trees...winter has arrived as expected. I hope that the new year will bring a little more "normal" back to this world, but I'm not counting on it considering the political situations worldwide. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Single Speed - I can't get away from it

Single speed (SS) has been part of my biking life since I was a kid when by dad fixed up this old fat tire Schwinn. At first I was disappointed that I didn't get a smaller wheeled bike popular in the late 60's. Then I discovered that once I got that thing wound up that it was a rocket ship. No one could touch me on the famous salmon pink super cruiser. 

Fast forward to the early 2000's when on a whim I bought a Gary Fisher Rig SS 29er. That bike changed everything (again) and I've not been able to break away from single speed bikes since (even though I attempted to several times, I just keep going back). 

I successfully raced SS against geared bikes for quite a few years making many people whimper as I passed them with on a one geared wonder. I've had a lot of single speeds...I get rid of one thinking "I'll be faster on gears," or "Ooh Ahh, I need that (geared) bike..." only to go back again and again to SS. Well now I'm convinced that geared bikes can be fun and have a great place, nothing is better for me than a SS.

This last summer I build up a Chumba Stella Ti as a geared bike, but after a few months it morphed into a SS, then a rigid SS and I can say I've never been happier. 

How does this happen I ask and why does SS make me a happier rider? Why are my average speeds in hilly terrain faster on the SS? I don't know, I've pondered this many times and I still don't have any good answers. The simple truth of the matter is that I love riding one geared bikes and I have no intention to stop any time soon.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Just when I’m sure…

Just when I’m sure it’ll never be “better than this” it does get better…or so it seems. I’m always in awe of the beautiful country that surrounds me, even a burned out forest. 

When I first saw the entire forest gone for miles I was initially sad that one of my old favorite riding areas was forever gone…gone as I had always known it until this day. I have ridden this area hundreds of times when I lived nearby and it was always green as far as the eye could see....this is the same area 11-years ago...

But after sitting there for a while and riding forward some more miles I found some strangely unique, incredible beauty in the disappointingly charred landscape. 

Several times I found myself sitting still scanning every detail, every charred tree, animal bones, and heat cracked rock….the intensity of this fire must have been something. Fire is truly amazing. 

I’ll return in the future to further explore my old riding areas and for now I’m thankful that my local, close to home riding areas are still a live forest. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Unpredictables of Life

 It's been a while since I've posted anything here for several reasons which none are really worthy. But all said and done I'm lucky to be here (as we all are) and I appreciate things a little differently now than last year. I'm not talking about the goofiness of this politicized pandemic, but rather a life altering event that I had no way of preventing, predicting, or controlling. 

Last year I spent some time visiting a Neuro-ICU for a spontaneous hemorrhagic stroke (aka Subarachnoid Hemorrhage or more specifically a perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage). Well anyway I had a very large amount of blood invade my brainstem which is a person's command and control center essentially. To say the least I am lucky to be alive and able to walk, talk and have only minor deficits now. As an ER nurse I've sent out dozens of these cases and I've never seen one come back alive or without being severely disabled. Oddly, I had a calmness about me when it was happening and I knew exactly what was happening the moment it started...I was strangely ready for the worst outcome. 

I couldn't drive for several months due to visual distortional impairments, but I could ride a bike (slowly). My first ride was only 2-miles and it felt like a hundred. I was tippy and felt very drunk feeling on that 1st ride, but it lead to more over time...

Soon 14 miles felt like a century ride, then 20, then...well you get the idea. Just over a year later and I still get crazy fatigue and require naps on a daily basis. I wake up every day feeling severely hungover and I don't drink alcohol anymore for obvious reasons. I'm up to working 2-days a week which is sometimes like running a marathon. But it's all good...I'm alive and functioning. 

Winter came and went...

Then...A few weeks ago...

I rode in the Butte-50 that I signed up for a few year ago but was postponed like everything was in 2020. My victory would be only to finish. Which I did...this was no easy task at 56-miles with 8600-ft of elevation change. With a lot of suffering and determination I did finish, not last but a long way down in the lineup. My secondary goal was to ride it in less than 8-hrs. I finished with just over 8-hrs of ride time, but I did spend a few hours resting along the way due to my fatigue issues and some moderate dehydration problems (it was hot). Still I won, total victory, I finished.  I vowed to never do that race again since it was so hard...

But a day later I started getting terrible urges to do it on a single speed bike (I have such a weird passion for single speed bikes - feel so comfortable on them). My broken brain is convincing me that with all the hill climbing it would be a lot easier with the right gear ratio. Well for now I have some months to really think those crazy thoughts over a bit more. 

In the meantime I'm totally having fun just riding and enjoying my life, my wife, and my goofy dog.