More Bike Stuff

I have an idea for a new bike.  It started as a casual conversation.  After a quick post on Google+, it has snowballed into a possible used bike purchase.

What is it?  Rando-bike with dyno-lights.  That’s the general idea.  The specific bike that is for sale is a 650b wheel-sized, low-trail, front-loading bike.  We’ll see where this goes.

I’ve been riding the Big Dummy a lot around town.  Today, I needed to ride the recumbent due to a sore neck.  My brakes needed adjusting, so this evening, I was working on the bike and discovered a broken spoke on the rear wheel.

I’ll be riding the Big Dummy again and hauling the wheel from the recumbent to the bike shop.

The single-speed is out of commission for now.  In addition to needing a rear wheel and crankset, I’ve now damaged the stem and handlebars while trying to switch back to the original bars.  I’m going to hold off spending money on it for a bit to put into other projects.

I’m supposed to go bike camping this Saturday.  It’s going to be cold.

I’m nervous as hell about this years Gravel Grovel.  I’m not in shape.

Technology Is Killing Me!

I make my living working on computers.  I had an emergency run into work yesterday to fix an outage.  There’s goes part of the weekend.

I was supposed to clean house this weekend.  Instead, I’ve been working on problems on my home laptop.  I need my laptop functioning properly for my GPS, my phone, and my tablet.

Maybe I’ll just go back to a dumb phone and paper maps.

Bike Polo

Today was a busy day.  After work I gave blood at the Red Cross.  After that was Car-Free Happy Hour, which happened to coincide with the local bike polo group playing at the same bar, Barret Bar.

I’d watched bike polo before, but it seemed a tad too dangerous for my liking.  I was goaded into trying bike polo on a borrowed bike.

What is bike polo?  Ummm… you ride bikes around a small enclosed area with one hand.  Your other hand holds a mallet that is used to knock a ball around, and in theory, into the opponents goal.  Generally, polo bikes are single-speed bikes with a disc on the front wheel, and narrow handlebars.  If you have to put a foot down, then you can’t hit the ball until you “tap out”, ride to the center and hit the fence with your mallet.

The rules are simple.  To put them to use is not.

I’ll say this.  I scored one lucky goal.  My team lost.  I never actually crashed, but i did drop the bike a couple of times.  Some players will aggressively block your bike, or even run into you.  “Sorry, not really” they say.

I played a two-on-two game.  Here’s a video of a one-on-one game:

Later, people noticed the Big Dummy cargo bike I was riding.  They asked to borrow it.  So two guys on one bike (not me!) rode around the polo court.  They didn’t have any opponents, yet still had real issues maneuvering the large bike around.

http://youtu.be/DpeBHASQRv4

It was a ton of fun with a variety of people.  I’m considering setting up a bike for polo.  I must have lost my mind.

Evolution

Most non-cyclists, like I was in 2008, would cringe at the thought of wearing skin-tight lycra.  I have even more reason to feel that way, since I’m still technically obese.

Most non-cyclists would cringe at the thought of shoes that snap into pedals.  You have to remember to unclip, by rotating your heel outward, or you’ll fall over when you stop.

I bought lycra bike clothes and clipless pedals a few years ago.  I found the comfort of bike clothes for longer rides is a necessity.  I’m still on the fence about my clipless (SPD) pedals.  I currently only have them on one bike – the Fargo, where they seem to work well.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered my first two pair of bib tights.  Bibs, whether shorts, or longer, don’t have a waist band.  They have straps the go over your shoulders.  They’re still made of the skin-tight lycra, but better.

I don’t know why I waited so long!  They may look stupid when I’m not wearing a jersey, but they’re comfortable.  They don’t roll down (an issue when you have a big gut).  Your ass-crack won’t show when you’re bent over the handlebars.  They’re great!

I avoided them for years due to the strange look.  No longer.  The jersey covers the strange look, so I only I have to see my bare chest with the straps.

Still Riding

I’ve had less time, so I haven’t been posting here much.  I tend to post small snippets on Google+, as that’s much quicker than writing a full blog post.

My geek side is going to make a quick appearance.  I’ve installed Linux on my laptop.  I still have Windows too, and can use which ever I need.  I’m hoping to get where I don’t need Windows anymore, and can dedicated the whole hard drive to Linux.  Bicycling has complicated that a little, as my GPS software runs under Windows only.  I’ve found a replacement that will probably do the job.

I am back to riding the bike every day.  I spend many of those days on the recumbent, as my neck is bothering me again.  On Friday, I rode the Big Dummy to work, then out for beer after work, and I hauled two growlers of beer home.

Saturday morning, I rode with Tim, on what was supposed to be a “spirited road ride”, but I didn’t get the memo, and I rode the Big Dummy.  That’s totally the wrong bike that kind of riding.  I worked hard, I went slow, and I held Tim up, but it was good to get out.

After we parted ways, I ran some errands, and ran across this couple with three children with their new Madsen cargo bike.

Madsen
Madsen

I ended the day with 25.8 miles.

Today, Sunday, Tim picked me up for a mountain bike ride at Waverly Hills Park.  I had ridden there once before with him, but I didn’t own a mountain bike, so I borrowed his too-small single-speed Monocog.

Trail
Trail

This time, I had my Fargo.  I’m out of shape, and the climbs were killing me.  The descents were amazing on the Fargo.  The handlebars on that bike are great for off-road use.  I grab the drops and can brake and shift without worrying about letting go of the bars.  The only problem with the bars is it’s not comfortable to ride that way.  My wrists kept hurting.  I may have to try rotating the bars to a different angle, but then I’m worried I won’t be able to be comfortable riding the hoods on the street.

Fargo
Fargo

I only truly fell once.  It was soft dirt, and didn’t hurt.  I did get rather dirty.

Good Morning!
Good Morning!

I still have doubts about my fitness for Gravel Grovel.  This ride really winded me and was only 9.3 miles.  Granted, it’s much rougher terrain than most of Gravel Grovel.

 

Priorities?

Focusing on priorities isn’t easy, but it’s straightforward.  At least if you know what your priorities are.

I’m struggling.  I don’t have my priorities figured out.  The confusion carries though in many areas of my life: work, relationships, bicycling/fitness, food, alcohol, finances and so on.

When I was young and poor, and had a family to support, the priorities were straightforward.  I always knew what I had to do next.  That’s no longer the case.

I can make a goal, but that means achieving it… and then what?  Also, what goals are most important?  I need to prioritize them taking into account things I want in my life.

I never thought that having a decent job, living in a decent house, and having a fun hobby would be so taxing on my mental health.

The Salsa Fargo – The First 140 Miles

I’ve now put 140 miles on the Fargo through various conditions: paved roads, city streets, gravel roads, steep climbs, rough “not roads”, creek beds, and heavily forested land.

I’m not a mountain biker.  The technical stuff scares me.  I’ve ridden a few medium trails and fell a few times doing it.

I needed a bike capable of longer rides on gravel and other rough terrain.  I raced Gravel Grovel last year on my Surly LHT, which has since been sold.  I want to race again this year.

I bought the Fargo 2, which is the “racier” version.  The Fargo 3 is more for touring.  The frame is the same, but the components are different.

My Fargo 2 has a SRAM 2×10 drivetrain with brifters.  This is the first bike I’ve owned with brifters, and it took a little getting used to them.

After a few in town rides, and one suburban ride, I took it out Sunday for a gravel ride with Tim and Asher.

DIY Kickstand
DIY Kickstand

The bike handled the fast descents on rough gravel wonderfully, even with my lack of skill on rough terrain.  What would have been a sketchy white-knuckle affair on the LHT was a very fun confidence-inspiring bombing run on the Fargo.  The Avid BB7 brakes are very good at slowing down the bike when necessary.  I have two other bikes with the same brakes, and I’m happy with them all.

When the going really got tough, grabbing the drops on the Woodchipper bars and edging myself backward over the rear wheel improved the handling and gave me great control.  I was still able to shift and brake from that position, although it wasn’t comfortable for long periods.  I’m hoping to adjust the bars to fix that.

The cockpit on the Fargo is pretty high up.  This is partially due to having a 20″ frame, which is probably bigger than what would be recommended for me.  I need the bars up high for my neck.  This seems to work.  I was quite comfortable on the bike, although after a 50-mile ride I still end up with a stiff neck for a few days.  That’s due to my body’s failings, not the bike.

The 2.2″ tires with some knobs on them were perfect on the gravel.  I was a bit slower on the paved roads.  On fast descents on pavement, I’d run out of high-end gear at just over 30 mph, so I don’t see any 45+ mph descents happening on this bike.

The low-end gearing is about 22 gear-inches, which while quite low, may not be low enough for loaded touring.  I’m not planning to do much loaded touring on this bike, so it should be fine.  I didn’t have to walk any hills on Sunday’s ride.  I did walk the bike through thick underbrush and through a creek though.

This is a big bike, but it’s not terribly heavy.  It’s not light either, as it’s a steel framed rigid mountain bike with drop bars and can be set up for touring.

I left the bike stock.  I only added a rear rack and bottle cages.  I used a trunk bag to carry gear and mounted lights and GPS.  I’m normally not a fan of the saddles that come on bikes.  This one is tolerable.  I’m going to keep using it for a while.  This bike is equipped with a Thudbuster seatpost.  I intend to buy a different seatpost at some point and sell this one.  I have two people interested in buying it, but I’m going to leave the bike as-is until after Gravel Grovel.

I did manage to damage my chain early on.  I stopped the bike, due to a traffic incident, without fully shifting.  I didn’t realize it, and stood on the pedals to get going again.  I managed to damage several links in the chain.  I was still able to ride the bike home, where I replaced the chain before riding the bike again.  Is the 10-speed chain more fragile than the 9-speed chains I’ve been using?  I don’t know.  I’ve broken some 9-speed chains over the years also.

I really like this bike.  I’m sure it’ll serve my riding on the textured stuff just fine.

Gravel Roads and “Not” Roads

Tim, Asher, and I went out to New Castle Kentucky on Sunday for a mixed-terrain ride.  Asher and I are riding Gravel Grovel, so this is a training ride.

Tim, Timothy, and I rode some of the same roads almost a year ago.  This time, it was a shorter route of about 47 miles.  We still had the creek crossing to deal with, but it would be near the end of the ride instead of the beginning.

We arrived in New Castle just in time for a nice sunrise.

Kentucky sunrise

It was quite a cool morning, but I was dressed for it.  It took a while for the sun to burn off the morning fog and mist.

Morning mist

I hadn’t had time to load my GPS with the route ahead of time.  Tim had his GPS and navigation duties.  It also helped that he’s better at remembering roads than I am, and we’d been to most of these before.

What didn’t help, is he hadn’t charged his batteries, and I had to loan him mine.  I was then unable to track the route.

Lonely gravel

My new Fargo is the perfect bike for this.  On the fast descents on large chunky gravel, the bike was rock solid and inspired confidence.  I’ll write more about the bike later.

Salsa Fargo

Although I absolutely bombed downhill, I struggled on the climbs.  I’m out of shape and too heavy.  I’m really going to have to work on this for the upcoming Gravel Grovel.

The bike is geared low enough, and I never had to walk a hill, but it was close.

Tim and Asher goofing off

As the Fargo doesn’t have a bike computer yet, and my GPS had Tim’s dead batteries in it, I really had no idea how far along we were.  I also had no idea what time it was.

I suffered.  I stopped for breaks several times when the other two were ahead, over a hill, and I couldn’t see them.  They’d eventually wait for me, so I always caught up.

We eventually came to the “not” road.  This is a stretch of land, heavily grown, with a creek running through it.  It’s shown on every map we can find as a road, but in reality, it’s trees, underbrush, thorns, and the creek.  In other words, it’s a blast!

Last time I was here, the temperature was about 30 degrees.  Now it had warmed to almost 70.  I was much less worried about getting wet.

After walking/carrying/pushing my bike through thick underbrush, over logs, and through thorny patches, ripping my tights on the way, I reached the creek.  Rather than take off our shoes to avoid frozen feet, we were able to simply walk through the water.

I was wearing my clipless SPD shoes, so walking on the slippery rocks underwater was a careful affair, but it worked well.  We played near the waterfall a bit before lugging the bikes back up on land and returning to an actual road again.

You can lead a bike to water…

We had another five or so miles to roll back to Tim’s car.  Most of that was on a wonderful gravel road.  The last stretch was a busier paved road.  It would have been fine, but I was tired and ready for the ride to end.

I finished the ride with 47 hard-earned miles.  I needed a nap later.

Tim’s write-up is here.  Be sure to check it out.  He has better pictures.

S24O or Quickie Overnight

An S24O is a sub 24 hour overnight bike camping trip.  Tim, Patrick, and I took off Friday evening after dinner to go to Jefferson Memorial Forest.

I did the same thing, with a similar group back in February, but I was quite uncomfortable last time due to a neck flare-up and not being equipped for the cold.

I packed up the Big Dummy and headed out to meet the other two.  I carried minimal clothing, despite the chance of rain.  The temperature was mild, but not really cool.  I packed a soft-sided cooler with a growler of Atomic Dust from Apocalypse Brew Works.

Loaded Big Dummy

I didn’t yet have a rear rack on my Fargo, so I used the Big Dummy.

Tim’s Rawland

This is Tim’s latest machine.  It’s a Rawland Sogn.  I really like the color.

Patrick’s Fargo

Patrick has his Fargo set up for touring.

It was getting dark by the time we were heading out.  I had the best lights, so I usually stayed behind to act as a “bumper” to keep us visible, or at least take the first hit from a car.  It was Friday night and we travelled busy roads.

The decision to take the main roads (New Cut Rd in particular) was that there would be better sight lines for us to be seen.  They are straight, mostly flat roads to get out of town on.  Being multi-lane, we could easily take the right lane and not hold up traffic.

We stopped at a convenience store for snacks, and I grabbed a package of Red Solo Cups for the beer, and for giggles.

After getting off the main roads, wandering up to the park office to get the paperwork, then climbing Holsclaw Hill (which I pushed my bike up most of it), we rolled up to the campsite.  Tim had arranged for the site.  He paid the fee (Patrick and I reimbursed him our portions).    Yet there was already a tent in our spot.

Upon approaching, a young man popped out, and after some gesturing we figured out he was deaf.  After some awkward “conversation” on paper, we determined he had squatted there.  We just wanted him to move over to where his car was.  It was less than 30 feet away, and still technically in our site, but he was reluctant to do so.  He seemed to get emotional, but eventually pulled his tent over by his car.  He was a quiet neighbor.

It was dark, so we struggled to set up our tents by headlight.  Once set up, Patrick had fire duty.

At that point, it was just three guys camping.  We talked shit.  We drank a little.  We (Tim) farted a lot.

Being old farts, we soon climbed into our tents and went to sleep.

 

Cloudy Moon, or Moony Clouds?

There had been a chance of rain all day Friday, Friday night, and Saturday.  During the night, it didn’t rain.  Although the temperatures dropped into the 50s, I was comfortable curled up in my sleeping bag.

I didn’t sleep well.  I usually don’t while camping.  Whether it’s noises of critters (two or four-legged), the hard ground, or my cramped tent, I tend to wake up a lot.  At least I didn’t wake up cold each time, as had happened in February.

We rose at about 6:45am.  Patrick made coffee (he’s so domestic!) while we packed.  It was quite cool.  I had some warmer clothes i could put over my bike clothes, but they weren’t good for riding in.  They were fine for staying warm while packing.

Stuff packed, coffee consumed, we rolled out.  Once we hit the road, we had a nice fast downhill (the one I had walked up the night before).  I was back to wearing only shorts, short-sleeve shirt, socks, and sandals.  I didn’t even have gloves.

I knew I’d be cold.  I was right.  The 30mph descent was absolutely frigid, but it only lasted a few minutes until we got to flat ground, slowed down, and had to pedal.  Within a few more minutes, I had warmed up and was comfortable.  I still saw no sign of rain.

We took a similar route back to the start location of the night before.  Being fairly early in the morning, traffic was lighter.

Patrick and breakfast

We arrived at Twig and Leaf for a hearty breakfast and more coffee.  We then parted ways.

Tim

While riding home after breakfast, it had gotten cloudier and the temperature had dropped again.  There was an extremely light mist.  The short ride home was rather chilly.

Tim wrote up rather flippant remarks about the trip here.  I like when he writes like this, even when he makes fun of me, as in the quote “Dave walked, as expected.”

This is Friday’s route:

Download

This is Saturday’s route:

Download

I was really glad to have the opportunity to do this trip.  It was short, but yet packed in quite a bit of fun.

The total mileage is actually more than what is shown here, as I rode to and from the ride start.  I also ran errands before the trip to get beer and other supplies.

I still need some better camping gear.  I want a tent that packs down smaller, yet is longer so that I can stretch out.  I need a warmer sleeping bag.  My current gear is more than 12 years old.  Tim suggested I could not drink beer for a week and buy the camping gear.  That’s only a slight exaggeration.