Monday, September 26, 2011

Feeling Sheepish

Well, while many parts of the country are seeing Autumn come in with cold nights and frosty mornings, we in So Cal are still in the 90s and hoping for a feeling of Fall.  It really does not begin till October-ish, but the other morning did offer us a deep marine layer (fog or low clouds) and right about 50 degree temps and misty-ness.  Now in the Midwest that would be tank top weather, but here, well, it is an excuse to break out the wool.  Now I really did not need the wool, but it felt good to wear it anyway and pretend.  And maybe, just maybe, the donning of spun animal fur will encourage the onset of Fall.

Ya never know.

Sheep's clothing courtesy of Buff Headwraps, EWR jersey, Ibex 3/4 bibs, and Swiftwick socks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The things you see...

...when you are on the road.

Brothels, legal ones.  I find the whole idea both odd and disgusting all at the same time.  The whole concept of pulling into a parking lot, walking in, and pulling out the VISA card to pay for jolly time, then going on your way....well, that is just bizarre to me.  However, there were always cars in the lot.  Wonder if they would like their pictures on the net?  Likely not. 

John 3:20

New International Version (NIV)
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 

But if that is not enough, there is always a museum for the kids.  Yes, there was a tour bus there and tourists.  Amazing.  But not quite as much as the transvestite hooker on the hotel elevator in Vegas.  Imagine Nicolas Cage in a dress and wig.  Oh yeah.

So with that, I will leave you and leave the road trip with this pic that has to be the best sign for the Ladies Room that I have ever seen.  Beatty, Nevada, you crack me up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Lonely Road

I am drawn to them like moths to flame.  I see them, winding off valley floors into hidden canyons and high mountain passes.  Often just barely there, suitable for horse drawn wagon, foot travel or a good bike, they seem to ring back through time with the sounds of jangling team harnesses, mining rigs, lumberjacks.

Lonely roads.  They inspire me and intrigue me.  I want to go there, wherever 'there' is.  Let them take me on a journey that few others bother with now in our modern and fast paced lives.  Sadly, I am all too often one of those hamsters on the spinning wheel of life.  Lonely roads require time and a conscious disconnect from the tyranny of the urgent.

We need lonely roads and unseen places that call to us, if not in our lives, at least in our imaginations.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Living the elevated life.

I was standing in the coffee shop behind a middle aged woman in shorts, Teva sandals, and a fleece sweater.  Her calves were killer, shaped and sculpted from years of hard efforts in one sport or another.  The couple at the near table in the Columbia jackets were reading the local rag and having a hot tea, but looked like they had just come in from a run in the morning showers.  A shaggy beard there, more fleece and down vests over in that corner, tan skin, little fat, no make up.  Helmets on the hat rack.  Organic coffee and a tip jar for the local Barrista who just may be a budding wanna be pro snowboarder waiting for the next flurries to begin.

Mountain towns.  Gotta love 'em.  Man I miss that vibe.  It is the same in many towns I have traveled through.  Any place that offers that combo of outdoor life style and elevation seems to draw in a similar class of folks.  It is hard to tell the stratum of wealth as they all seem to dress the same.  Patagonia clothing here is not just a statement of a Gold Card, it is a practical choice.  Only when the parking lot shows a Range Rover or a busted up Subaru do the layers of money show. 

In the coffee shop though, all caffeine seekers are equal.  The parking lot snobbery can wait a bit.  Fresh scones and rainforest approved beans first.

I could fit here quite nicely.  Durango.  Crested Butte.  Tahoe.  Idyllwild. 

I could live the elevated life.  I even liked the coffee.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pedaling Uphill

After the lift assisted madness of the previous day, one of the guys I was with suggested we opt for some XC stuff instead of popping for another lift ticket fee of near 50 bucks.  Well money, pedal uphill, ride new trails that are not part of a big, sculpted gymnasium?  I am all in.

So that idea spread and we put together a series of trails that were just perfect for what we were looking for.  Some of the boys were hurtin' for certain due to the cruel elevation that steals the power from your legs, but they made it happen anyway.

We began in sagebrush and pedaled into a lakeside camping area and waterfall.  My fav day so far.  Real mountain biking IMO, even though it was not all that epic.  It was sweet though.

After that we broke for lunch and then went back to the high desert on the other side of the highway in search of a trail that dropped into a deep canyon.  We never found the trail head, so it turned into a sand fest of desert roads that ended up pretty much nowhere.  Demoralized from all the sand and running out of time and energy, the group headed back to the cars and called it a day.  Of note was my 29er with the big 2.35 tires at 25psi.  I barely even noticed the sand and it really got me thinking about a fat bike as my next acquisition.  I really think that would be a fun scoot and would open up areas like this to biking.  Sand?  What sand?

The next day will see me pointing toward Vegas, but I plan on getting there on some back country roads.  Time to see some more new countryside.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Ticket To Ride

It has been years since I was at Mammoth Mtn and the bike park there.  Likely the late 90s at best and more likely the mid-90s.  And I do not huck.  So, the thought of getting into the lift ticket thing had me a bit nervous.  I do not even own a set of pads (well, I do now, but that was an apres Mammoth acquisition).

So here I was, pinning a ticket to ride on my FSR, the biggest travel 29er I have at 5.5 inches F/R, and getting ready to 'session' the mountain.  I had mounted some new tires I was testing, some 2.3 Geax Sturdys, that looked burly for the pumice covered trails, and that was about as much as I had going for me.

I took the gondola up and the ground dropped from beneath me.  I am not all that crazy about those gondolas.  I actually prefer the lift chairs that are more open.  Maybe it is the enclosed feeling, but I get the impression that they would bounce and roll nicely back down the mountain if they fell off the cabling.  At least the chair would just wad up like a big lawn chair with me in it and get it over with.  More dignity but less style points I guess.

The first trail was a pretty easy run off the top of the mountain which still had snow on it and was 45 degrees and windy.  Off the backside, the trail wound down toward warmer climes but was, well, kinda boring but scenic.  I suggested that we up the ante a bit and was pointed toward another trail for the next lift run.


I should have kept my mouth shut.  Now I am a pretty decent technical rider for an old XC guy, but this was an eye opener.  I would be pulled to the side looking at an oncoming trail feature and have two grommets pass me and cruise down it like it was flat.  Well, nuts!  So I made it and some of it was really fun, but also scary.  I was using ALL the travel the bike (and me) had and then some.  I felt kinda naked and I think a bit burlier bike and some body armour would have helped me feel better about things.  Still, it was interesting.  It was also a chance to catch up on my daily prayers.

A bit of grace here was appreciated.  Thank you.

The next run(s) were on trails that split the difference between too easy and too hard.  The Momma Bear trails were awesome and the Sturdy tires on the FSR were killer, floating and digging in.  Big wheels are such a great help in poor trail surfaces and the combo of big wheels and wide, aggressive tires was made for the day.

I know I need to get back up there and do that some more as I need to push and stretch myself a bit every so often.  Trails like this will do that for ya.  And I have to use those new pads I got.

Maybe I do huck every so often, but I would not want to earn a living that way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Road Trip 2: Riding begins

We stopped on the doorstep of Mammoth Lakes and rode/shuttled the Lower Rock Creek trail.  8 miles of downhill trail creekside in Aspens and such.  Pretty sweet.  This trip I brought the FSR 5 incher with some new tires that I hoped would float over the pumice of Mammoth (old volcano, 'ya know).  So, it begins.  Time to pedal and go "wheeeee!".

Phil, the mad scientist organizer of the trip.

2.3 inches of crazy 29er rubber.  Geax Sturdy.

Old guy looking somewhat stunned and less than intelligent.  Pretty much normal for me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Road Trip

Hitting the long road to adventure, then Interbike.  Hwy 395 bids me welcome.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Finding the sweet Spot

Lately I have been riding this bike almost exclusively.  The Spot folks sent out a test bike sporting the latest iteration of the Gates Carbon Drive system, that being the new CenterTrak.  So far the belt has been trouble free and solid except for one minor but annoying issue, but I will save that for later.

This is about steel.  Nice steel.  Nice steel tubes.  Nice steel tubes as used to construct a bicycle frame.  It is not secret how I feel about steel 29er singlespeeds.  A cursory search of this blog will bring up a few missives on my thoughts about that.  However, it had been a long time since I had been on a really nice steel frame, that 'nice' as it is used here, meaning a more expensive blend of higher end, thinner, lighter, and more manipulated steel tubing.  I have been on a few $500.00-$600.00 dollar retail frames and they have been just fine.  Sure, they are kinda heavy, but they do the job pretty well, well enough that I was not sure if spending twice as much+ for a frame like the Spot would really be worth it.

And after riding this for quite a few hours now, I think it is.  I think there is enough benefit to make it worth the step up in duckets for a frame like this. 

Now that phrase, "worth it", is, I admit, controversial and vague.  No one needs a $1500.00 steel frame unless they are truly unique in size or conformation and custom is the best option.  So really, what we are talking about is not really proof of worth, but rather a reasonable return in performance over and above the lesser priced brethren I have been pedaling.

After all, it is not half as heavy, twice as stiff, twice as smooth.....etc.  It is only twice as expensive.  So what do I think I have gained?  Well, it is just a little bit stiffer at the BB, just a little bit lighter on the scale, just a little bit smoother over the trail, and just a little bit spunkier when pedaled hard.  Just a little bit.

But I will tell ya' that "little bit" goes a long ways when you actually ride it.  The end result is enough of a gain to make each ride 'that' much nicer.  Nothing dramatic, but noticeable, and in a world where we spend $300.00 dollars on a saddle or agonize over the latest linked suspension design and whether it solves the mysteries of the universe, a simple steel bike with one gear and just a bit nicer overall ride is enough to make me smile and wheel it out of the garage, choosing it over more than a few other fancier scoots.

It is indeed, a sweet Spot.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Is 120mm the new 100mm?

Well the Ibis Ripley that I mentioned in the last post sure has been controversial.  There are lots of folks boo-hooing about the steepish geo of the bike once the numbers were released.  The 71* HT angle seems to mark it as a long legged XC bike more than a Heavy Trail/AM thing like a Mojo might be.

It seems that Ibis has focused on keeping this a bit tighter than that long awaited 'Mojo 29er' was imagined to be.  That, and the non-Ibis looking design will keep this out of the hands of many Ibis loyalists I bet. 

So what we seem to have gotten is a swipe at the Tall Boy more than anything, but this year there are more and more bikes coming out with 120mm F/R travel.  The Tomac Diplomat, the Trek Rumblefish, the Specialized Camber (at 110mm), the Salsa Horsethief and I am sure many others.  I opined a year or so ago that 100m was the sweet spot on 29er FS bikes, the point where you could do almost anything in moderation and have a balanced bike through it all.

But with the light and likely good pedaling Ripley, well, maybe we are seeing the needle swing towards 120mm as the new sweet spot.  Maybe.  We shall see. 

Either way, the choices for 29ers is getting pretty wide now and there should be something for everyone here pretty soon.