Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where has all the carbon gone...

...should I "mourn its passing" me by?  I see lots of carbon 29er hardtails on the horizon and ready to roll down the trail....with gears on them.  How about the pure singlespeed versions?

Personally I have little use for a geared hardtail.  I have said it before that if I am going to bring all that spinning shifty stuff with me, I might as well bring a rear shock too.  But an SS is another thing altogether.  There I find the hardtail matched to an 80mm fork the real deal.

I have no real issue with steel SS frames and I am likely to stay in that camp for a long time to come. They can ride really nicely, but are heavy in the moderate $$ price ranges.  Ti calls to me with soft syllables of seductively spoken stuff but needs to be pretty expensive to have a tubeset that is worthy of SS use.  Alu is making big strides but so far has been a bit harsh riding and/or flexy.

Carbon faces the same stiffness VS. value challenge as carbon is usually noodly.  But a distant ride on the Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon geared hardtail left an impression on me that still beings to mind a stout BB, very decent ride, good trail manners, and light weight.  I think the unique properties of a carbon lay-up can produce the ultimate SS frame.

I wonder who will come up with the first carbon frame that is not trying to be the lightest thing on the planet that rolls in the dirt (Superfly), is durable enough to be taken seriously by someone like me, tapered HT, BB30, some kind of tensioner like the Hey Swinger/Alternator set-up or a split shell BB, and cost in the range of a high end steel frame....maybe it exists now and I just missed it.

It seems that carbon 29er frame costs can come down in time.  Just look at carbon road frames.  Maybe the numbers that will come from Europe when they get their collective heads out of the sand will make that feasible.

Meanwhile, still waiting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Need a new mini pump?

Well, how about a 'Midi Pump'?  I have been airing up on the trail with a pretty shiny and cool pump from Lezyne as well as a new multi tool and CO2 set-up.  Man, Lezyne has lots-o-stuff to offer.  I love the all metal look of the pump...very retro to the days before plastic was in vogue.  More info here:  Review on The Cyclist Site.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bikepacking: S24O to Cienega Cyn.

Took a trip last night to "The Wilds" of a nearby canyon; part gear refinement, part me refinement.  S24O stands for Sub 24hour Overnighter and is designed to just get ya out of the the house and into the hills, but back at home the next morning.

Sweet stuff.  Feels like a mini vacation.

Film at 11:00.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The 'Other Office' - God's Cubicle

Somedays ya' just gotta ride to work and, as luck would have it, this week was ride to work day.  Trouble was, none of us felt like working.  So, we decided to ride to the 'other office' and spend some time in the bigger cubicle where the only 'office dividers' are set by your ability to pedal and endure and the skills you need to survive.  In that way, the limits are set, not by fabric covered panels with pics of faraway places on them, but the desire to move yourself to the faraway places you see in front of you...the next summit, the distant valley. Near and far horizons beckon tired legs and sore backsides.

Yesterday that was just part of the 30-ish mile, 4 hour loop that three of us celebrated a mid week Thursday ride with.  We met at Ed The Tall's extravagant hacienda and guest ranch;  Jammer on his new Specy Epic Comp 29er, myself on the Epic Marathon, and Ed pedaling the Dos Niner 'Awesome Inch' softtail 29er.

I was trying out some new skins, the Schwalbe Rocket Rons, a new 29er tire, and I had the Osprey Raptor 18 hydration pack ready for duty, filled with Elete Electrolyte Add-In treated water....and oatmeal raisin cookies.  Ok..a Snickers bar too.  Ah, and those little cheese filled cracker packs.  And a banana.

Across town, bike path to surface streets, playing 'chicken crossing the road' with the commuters heading to the voluntary cubicle confinement of another kind, and then the foot of The Beast.  OK, not that terribly bad as climbs go, but it always makes me suffer for some reason.  Anyway, over the saddle and then to a LA County Fire Camp 9 where we could see the valleys below, over the Santa Monica Mtns,  and, if it were not for fog, the ocean in the distance.

It was windy, too.  Santa Anas were raging, a warmish, dry wind out of the north was alternately pushing us along or pounding us into shifting two gears to keep going, depending on the direction of travel or the whim of the wind gods.  The goal, besides just riding for the sake of riding, was a little used singletrack that I had never been on, but had heard of.

Ed the Tall had ridden it and KT the Man, but I have never heard anyone else mention it.  Weird.  Ed said it was "typical San Gabriels type trail" and that could mean you need to pay attention.  What a gem it was!

Did I just ride that?

"Yes, Jammer...", says Ed the Tall..."and there is more"

This trail was worth the time to get there, but I can see why not too many ride it.  It is not in a place that makes for an easy loop from town.  Still, it was sweet...under the canopy of pines and oaks, not too techy at first, then the trail would slough off a bit and get to a few inches of tread with a dropoff to the left that would hurt...a lot.  Peeler log drops, tight switchbacks, swoop and dive, brake and pedal.

The delicate dance.

My commute vehicle in it's cubicle for the day.

Back up to Camp 9 on the pave', then more dancing down a steep and winding trail to a creekbed singletrack under the Sycamores.  Yeah, nice day at the office.

The wind opened up the can of 'whoop-you-know-what' on us on the way back across town, but by then we were just hammering, Ed the Tall standing out of the saddle and defying the wind to 'do it's worst', teeth bared in a symbol of his disdain for this paltry attempt at nature to deny us an easy passage (or his lips had blown back and were stuck on dry gums...not sure which).

Rolling back to the carefully manicured lawn of the Ed the Tall estate, we were spent and laid there like so much debris the Santa Anas had blown in;  bits of paper and dry, crackly leaves collected in the corner.

A typical day in the other cubicle.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Osprey Raptor packs

Lately I have been hydrating myself from some of these packs...

So far I have been enjoying the latest from the Hydraulic-Raptor series of packs from Osprey.  The Raptor 6 (on the right) is the baby bear and the Raptor 18 (on the left) is the poppa bear.  I think there are a few niggling things that needs to be addressed, but my fav so far is the Raptor 18.

The pack making experience of Osprey shines thru and I cant wait to get the 18 out on a big ride.  Last nights 2 hour ride showed it to be stable and well fitting.  The shove-it feature can swallow a ton of clothing.  Full test reports to come.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mad Skittles...

Da' little girl has some skills.  Someone needs to get a jersey on her someday.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I finally have all the parts to do up the new SS wheels.  JeffJ aka circusbearonabike is going to lend a hand and walk me though my first wheel build.  Cool.

I wanted to blend the classic with the modern, so I went with the old style freewheel type hubs, in this case White Industries disc hubs and an ENO freewheel, Stan's Flow rims for eezy-peezy tubeless-ness and a wide sidewall support, and they will all be tied up with DT Swiss butted spokes and alloy nips.

Ooooohhhh....purple.  It's gonna be sweet, just like the good old days...only better.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cienega Loop- Solo gear, solo ride.

 I had a day off during the middle of the week and none of the usual cast of characters could come out to play, so I set out on a solo day over a pretty big loop riding from home and then out into the back canyons of the National Forest.  It was looking like it might rain, so I packed a few layers of clothing into the bigger pack I have, a Camelbak HAWG NV, saddled up the SS Jabberwocky, and started pedaling.

I love big loops, even if they are not the 10 hour stuff that other riders are up for.  5-6 hours still feels nice to me, but I do want to get into some more 8 hour rides.  Until then this will do nicely.

Cienega Cyn is a unique area where the creek actually flows down the concreted floor of the narrow canyon.  Absolutely cool to ride through there.

The wildflowers are pretty happy too and the green is hanging around for a while longer.  The dry winds of summer will be here soon enough and all this will dry up and fade to brown.  It gets crazy hot in here in the summer time. 

Yeah, its nice in there.

Lunch time.

Color is where you find it.

Sometimes it is everywhere...

...and sometimes it is tasty.

5 hours and 30 minutes later, riding all the way back into a headwind that almost made me pedal going downhill, I arrived back home.  Singlespeeds, big backpacks, hard to get to places, time is all good.

Lights, Camera, Action.

 I have joined the digital age of social media for sure now.  I am finally equal to, but not as obnoxious hopefully, to the scads of pimply-faced kids with video cameras and out of the closet wanna-be-cinematographers that have made YouTube the morass of videos it is today.

Presenting the grannygear's video channel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Video to go.

Been playing around with one of these lately.  I wanted to begin to do some video reviews, interviews, etc for 29".com and The Cyclist and the You Tube channels for each one (click on the links and see what we have been up to).   Besides that use, the idea of a rugged, small, HD video camera appealed to me for family vids on stuff we do, vacations, group hikes, etc.

The Kodak Playsport is waterproof to 10' and that means pretty darn dust proof too, so I do not fear the out of doors and it killing the camera.  It shoots in 720p HD and holds an hour of video on the memory card I bought for it.

For $150 dollars and some extras, it is a pretty sweet camera.  I shot all the vids on the two channels for the blog-zines and just began a grannygear videos You Tube Channel (coming soon).  I recently took it with me on a big, solo loop and shot some footage of the ride.  Yeah, kinda narcissistic, but it was just to see how it would all work and, with a small tripod, I could even stage it so I could film myself riding by, etc.  Really a neat thing to have in the tool kit.  I think I have a way to body mount it to shoot video of rides in action.  It has some built in image stabilization and I am going to give it a try.

Meanwhile, I have been dropping the clips into iMovie and editing them.  Video editing is a lot of fun.  I used to use Final Cut Pro, but the latest iMovie is pretty darn good for hacks like me and my needs.  Now, with Garage Band, iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie all working together....well...what can I say.

Macs rule...PCs drool.  And I have the video to prove it.

Sat Mornin' wid' da' guyz...

Not a big ride or adventure, but still a great ride.  Made a nice loop out of the forest roads and trails, some climbing, some singletrack, some fireroad, some hike-a-bike.  Just a typical ride with some buddies on a typically nice spring day in So Cal.

I was riding the Epic Marathon, soon coming up on its 6 month anniversary.  As always, it was a fine companion for the day.

I was kinda pushing the limit of the smallish Osprey Raptor 6 hydration pack, but it did the job for the three hour ride, carrying snacks, 70oz of a water/Elete blend, and a windbreaker + tools, etc.  Nice pack. More on that in coming posts.

MTB riders are multi-talented people.  Here, Navy Mike demonstrates the proper technique for arm-farts while wearing a LS jersey.  A good trick!
Tony the Tiger approves of this masterful display and laughs heartily....Ha Ha Ha. 

We did a bit of hike-a-bike through a tight canyon trail to end the loop.  Spring is so nice out here cuz soon all this will be dry and brown.  Nice end to the ride...that and the qt of chocolate milk and cheese flavored tater chips.