Sunday, November 29, 2009

One More Ride For The Holiday

Sunday afternoon opened up enough to allow for a 3 hour window of riding. JeffJ and son Ted came along for the ride and I was eager to show them an area they had never ridden before. The wind was up and in our faces a bit, but the climb is favorable to singlespeeds and nice and sandy, so I took the Jabber. We climbed for a few miles and then dove into some singletrack for a bit.

The views were exceptional and there was the first snow of the season on the distant Tehachapis.

Autumn is solidly in place at this elevation. The Oaks here change color and drop their leaves, unlike the Live Oak that grow at lower elevations and stay green all winter. It may not be Aspens, but I will take what I can get.

I took the SS out since it had been ignored lately due to a combo of a sore knee, tire testing on the Lev, and the Epic Marathon requiring my time for review purposes. I missed it, that simple, steel singlespeed, and it was good to get back to one gear again before I resume the testing duties. It was a great end to a holiday weekend - friends, bikes, good times, tired legs. And, better still, I think is one more piece on pumpkin pie waiting for me at home. Sweetness.

The pumpkin orange Jabberwocky, looking like it belongs in autumn leaves.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Epic Ride, Epic Bike.

It seemed like fate, that an epic ride (or close enough to epic for my fitness level at this point in time) would come onto the calendar just as I took delivery of the Epic Marathon 29er.

The organizer was jeffj, ringmaster of the Dirt bags, a local riding group. The course was in the semi-nearby hills of Ojai and consisted of an 8 mile paved climb to the beginning of Sisar Rd, then around 9 miles of pure uphill fireroad, first along a running creek under the Sycamores, then on open mountain side, a few more miles of faster ridgeline fireroad, and then around 7 miles of downhill singletrack, twisty, loose, narrow, rocky So Cal singletrack. 31 miles and around 5ooo feet of climbing. Sweetness.

There were several of us...9 all total...and the weather was perfect with temps in the 60s to the 70s with no wind. Once the pavement connecting part was out of the way, we hit the dirt and began the climb along a running creek under the canopy of sycamores and poison oak.

There were two water crossings before the real climb began and they were just deep enough to be a concern for wet feet.

Chuck is worried his new Giant will shrink to 24" wheels.

Todd goes for shrinkage happened.

From here, it was head down and pedal...and pedal...and pedal. maybe two hours? Not sure. The Epic is a superb climber. I am an average climber. The bike is light enough and all that, but the Brain shock, combined with a lock-out on the Reba fork make for a hardtail-ish experience that is the real deal for long climbs like this. But, the rear shock will open up and take all the sting out of any roughness in the uphill path unlike a true hardtail. Niiiice. Then, for all that hard work, ya gotta stop and enjoy the view.

That arrow is pointing to islands off the coastline of Ventura, CA.

Can you hear me now?

We hit the saddle and took a well deserved break. Much past here my camera batt expired so I cannot show the singletrack, but it is typical So Cal stuff: Narrow, sloughy, off camber, switchbacked, loose, rocky, covered in oak leaves, brushy, fast in places, and steep. The Epic was all I could have asked for. I really expected it to be a bit of a nervous race horse, but not so. Very competent and more.

jeffj (aka circus bear on a bike), stage left.

The Epic in repose.

Smile for your close-up.

Singletrack zoomage.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Scooter in the 'Hood

OOOooo! Going riding tomorrow. More to come.

Much to be thankful for.

Today, as a day of thanksgiving, prompts us to reflect on our blessings and or lives. That is a good thing We spend little time being grateful, just plodding along with our heads down, heading through the day. But each day is a gift to be treasured.

Truly a gift. I thank God almighty for all I have for I cannot do anything on my own.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I get the 'rigid' thing. Finally.

In my mind, front forks are supposed to squish. It is a bumpy world out there and I am darn sure that technology is there to help us overcome things likes rocks, ruts, and trail irregularities. But, that can be said for gears as well, in that gears are the technology that helps us overcome changes in terrain and elevation.

So, I never got the 'rigid' thing. But, 29ers helped me see a hardtail as a viable alternative once again, something I would never say about a 26er. Singlespeeds helped me see past the limitations of one gear in that, technology, while a benefit, can also be a distraction; derailleurs, shifters, etc.

Riding with Ed the Tall the other day, him perched on top his stunning new Selma SS, he remarked that, after moving from a rigid XXIX to a hardtail with a Reba fork in the Selma, he understood that there was a symbiotic thing going on between an SS and a rigid fork to where it almost makes sense. And lately, I have come to see that appeal as more than a luddite's dream, but actually a somewhat logical progression.

However, where I live seems just over the top for me and I cannot quite bring myself to ditch the sussy fork for a harder, sterner choice. I see pics of Midwest singletrack and the buffness makes me think that a rigid fork is a natural there, but here in So Cal? I know I would love the way it would climb...hey, what XC rider does not want to shed 2 lbs of fork weight? But I fear that aging wrists would ache and I know I would have to slow down in sections that would ping me around like a pin ball at the arcade.

I don't want to slow down as I like going fast.

Yet I might enjoy slowing down if I try it. Maybe I would like going slower?

It is, as the King of Siam said, "a puzzlement".

I am not over the edge yet, but at least I get it now, even if I don't go there myself.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Horizons

Well, it has been way too long since I rode someplace new. It used to happen all the time, but I have been spending more time locally as the needs of life and such corral my spare time. But on the schedule is a fine ride post Thanksgiving Day that will be in over new horizons at last.

As well, it should be on a new bike if Fed Ex treats me right. The Epic Comp 29er is something I am very excited to ride. Past spins on this bike (or a Marathon, the up-scale version) have been pretty good.

It seems that most of my creative energy has been reviewing and writing product stuff lately for The Cyclist and

I have been wearing the Specialized Defroster shoes quite a bit and while I still have more time to go before I pronounce them blessed, I have had enough rides to know that they are making a difference in a good way. I needed a better solution to fall through winter riding that did not involve plastic sandwich bags and cold toes. I am not sure if the guys in North Dakota would find them adequate, but I bet the Lake boots would be way over the top for my So Cal needs. Definitely worth a look of you are looking for something better than a mesh toed shoe.

As well, the Specialized Vice helmet is a winner in my book. It is definitely a snug, full coverage feeling helmet but I am liking it.
I also have been running around on some new tires, the Wolverine 2.2 29er tire from WTB. More on that here.

So, new bike, new gear, new trails, and hopefully a new sense of discovery to go along with it. Have a great Thanksgiving Day. Go ride a bike if you can.

Friday, November 13, 2009


CORBA holds a Fat Tire Festival in my area once a year and I cruised over to see what was going down, fat tire wise. There were bike demos and product displays, Poker Rides, raffles, games, food, etc, all for a good cause. Some pics.

Yes, this is Ned Overend. Deadly Nedly. The Lung. I saw him race in his prime 'back in the day' and he is still one fit old dude. Go Ned (even if you do have to work on your own bike...well, at least he knows how).

What a bunch of hoodlums pretending to be looking after the welfare of the festival goers. Hah! I ride with these guys and I know the truth! Just look at those smiles...they are up to no good, I tell ya.

There were all kinds of demo bikes.....

Don't those Leftys all look odd, lined up that way? They sure work great though.

Niner had a carbon SS 29er there that was practically light enough to float away. Amazing to pick that thing up. I bet my road bike weighs more.

Giant had this tri-thing or time trial bike or something. Talk about an instrument of, but does it look fast or what?!

But, they also had this Cross bike that just was dead sexy and fast in another way. I bet I could burn up some dirt road on that.

I decided to take the Jabber for a cruise around the course. Don't it look like it belongs next to all that rusty steel stuff? Sho' 'nuff.

Along the way I saw a group of young folks, like a Scouting org or something, actually saluting the flag. Huh. In this day and age, too. Maybe there is hope for our young people.

There were a couple of dads out working especially hard to bring along the family. Good Job, dad.

There were games for the little ones as well, as one of A.Coley's boys shows on the teeter totter.

I have heard of single speeds and dingle speeds (two gears, no shifters)..but a tringle speed! Very cool and on a vintage Ti frame as well.

There are family events all around the country like this one, mostly to benefit various organizations, sometimes just cuz. Make it a goal to get to one in 2010 and, if you are able, take the kids along before they grow up and the chance is gone.