Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stupid Things Found in Mountain Bike Action (January issue)

I've had the latest issue sitting on my desk for a few weeks, but it wasn't very inspiring to make this post--just not too much stupid stuff in this issue, I guess. Perhaps they've already run out of 27.5" stuff to test?

Still, I can't let my little series die off after just two installments, so let's take a look:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Niner + Knard = NiKnard

Yesterday was unseasonably warm but very rainy, which made it a good day to spend some time in the garage with my help, building up my 29+ project. I tried fitting the Knard on my existing rear rim (a 23.5mm wide IRD Clyde), where it measured 65mm wide at the casing. It actually had enough clearance to turn, but it rubbed slightly at the chainstay where my wheel was a bit off center and out of true.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Aside from seeing a movie with the family ("Frozen", slow start but then it improved), I spent much of today finally lining up some parts for my next build. After my experience with the Krampus, I've been kind of 29+ obsessed lately. Finally, here was something new and different that I could sink my teeth into: not just a lighter widget, like my idea for a carbon frame, but a bike that truly made a difference in riding. Fun but also low tech, a good combination.

After some internal debate between a Krampus frameset and Carver Gnarvester, I settled on the third choice: see what I could do with my Niner SIR9. I won an auction today for a never used pair of Knards, almost two for the price of one, which set off my chain of buying:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Global Fat Bike Day and the Krampus

In the rush between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think many people overlook the other holidays, such as today's celebration of Global Fat Bike Day. The guys at COMBO had scheduled a meet up at Alum Creek P1, and our friendly local Trek store was there with some fat bike demos. I had previously demoed a Moonlander at last year's COMBOween, and pretty much hated it: slow everywhere, ponderous to turn, and did I mention slow? But when I saw the Trek store would have a Krampus demo, I kissed the kids goodbye and was out the door.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A History of My Road and 'Cross Bikes

Time for installment #3 of my bike history (full sus bikes here and 29er hardtails here)

Update: hardtail 26ers here.

My road riding started on my pop's hand me down Schwinn. Typical early 70s bike boom, with Ashtabula cranks, steel rims, etc. But I'll start this history with the first road bike I actually bought:

1. 1991 Bridgestone RB-T

(not my bike pictured). I was heavily influenced by reading Grant Petersen's Bridgestone catalogues throughout college, so when I went road bike shopping, a quick spin to the Bike Gallery and this RB-T was mine. Must've been the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Washington. The Suntour drivetrain never shifted very well, but otherwise this was a great bike: good clearances, a nice frame, good geo. They're actually still quite in demand today, and I wouldn't mind finding one now. Mine was a 59cm, probably too small for me, though.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stupid Things Found in Mountain Bike Action (December issue)

Yes gang, it's time I finally got around to the second installment of "Stupid Things Found in Mountain Bike Action." (the first edition is here) I've had the issue sitting here on my desk for a few weeks:

** The December issue continues their relentless push of all things 27.5". The best stupid bit was their "riding techniques for 27.5" wheels" article (page 56). It's a primer on how to switch from 26" or 29" to the in-between size. Coming from 26" wheels, they claim you'll "follow a wider arc", and can "take a rougher line." Sure.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter is Coming

With the twins at my parents place for the night, Henry and I enjoyed some father/son time on Sunday with a quick bike ride. I let Henry set the course, and we mostly wandered around the 'hood, stopping to throw rocks in a pond. We eventually practiced some more "mountain biking", hitting the cross country trails behind the high school. We came across what looks like the rear end of a very old tractor:

I was riding my fixed gear Cross Check, which turned out to be less than ideal when riding slowly on bumpy grass:

Although it was sunny, with a strong wind blowing, it was COLD.  Our bikes and playground outings may be winding down for the season.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Earlington Park (again)

Way, way back on post #1, we mentioned visiting Earlington Park. I was still just thinking of this blog back in those sunny days, so Earlington only got a passing mention with no pictures. With nice weather this past Sunday (for early November), the twins and I headed out post-Blackbuck sale to take in a few parks.

Kate showing her midriff is cute now, won't be so cute when she's 13:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chinese Carbon Bike Frames

This post is a work in progress. If you have additional info or corrections, please leave a comment or use the contact form. If your favorite generic Chinese frame isn't included here, let me know the details and I'll add it. Maybe someday I'll get to the full suspension frames, but don't hold your breath (they don't really interest me that much)

There's now a community of people talking about Chinese carbon frames, this will also be a good source of information for anyone interested in these frames. You can see it here.

Apr 12, 2014: added info on the IP-256SL frame

Jul 20, 2014: I actually bought a carbon frame! Of course, it was none of these. See here.

Sep 9, 2014: I actually bought one of these frames! See here.

Oct 5, 2014: And now it's for sale. 

Oct 25, 2014: And now it's sold.


After my very recent good time on board the Trek Superfly 9.8, I find myself seriously thinking about a carbon frame instead of YASH (Yet Another Steel Hardtail).  Since the Superfly is SuperExpensive, and I'm cheap, I'm drawn to the Chinese carbon frames of the mighty thread. Problem is, with over 6,000 posts on that thread, it's hard to find any information without committing several days and several beers to read through it. Instead, I'm hoping to gather up some basic info on the major frames (major, in that they interest me) in one spot. And I'll try to include some basic background data, such as what the different weaves look like. Let's start there:

Trek Factory Demo, Niner and Gryphon, Selling News

Quite a bit of bike action over here in the B&P world this weekend. Friday, Sam and I rode to a playground and made a grocery run to Kroger:

Saturday morning, I hit P1 with my Niner. Considering our torrential storm on Halloween, just two days ago, the trails were in pretty good shape. I, however, wasn't feeling great, and did only one lap. But I did take a few better pics of my SIR9 when I stopped for a breather:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mohican State Park ride

Sunday was maybe the last Big Ride of the season, heading to Mohican State Park for the 25 mile loop there. I've only ridden this once before--about six weeks ago, buddy Marc and I hit it, and that time I sailed through the trail without feeling broken and old by the end. Things weren't so smooth this time around.

We had a group of four riders. Kelly, Chris, and Peter were all Mohican newbies. Sunday was clear but cold, with the temp about 30F when we started riding at shortly after 9:00 am. The trail starts off with a long, steady climb. In fact, much of the first eight miles is mostly climbing:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ways to Build a Surly Cross Check

My Surly Cross Check is the longest serving bike in my fleet, coming in at almost five years old--that's ancient in my skewed world. I'd been looking at getting a CC for quite a while, and finally gave up on waiting for some miracle deal and paid full pop ($420) from (RIP). Through the years, I've been consistently impressed with the design that went into the CC. Some may complain that it's too heavy, or that the tubing is too stiff (or flexy), or something, but the smartly designed flexibility is something that I've really grown to appreciate as other pretenders to the Cross Check throne have come and gone from my garage.

My initial build is still one of my favorites:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Singular Gryphon Rises Again

What do you get when you cross a Singular Gryphon with an OS Blackbuck? I've had both my Singular Gryphon and my OS Blackbuck framesets for sale for quite some time without much action. Both bikes had some things I like (Blackbuck: handling, Singular: looks and ride), so I wondered if I could get the best of both worlds?

I thought about calling this "Project Pheonix" to fit in with the Gryphon theme, but WTB already has that name, so I'm going call this project "SingBuck":

Sunday, October 13, 2013

S24O to Stealth Spot

When I was out running around with the kids this summer, I kept my eyes open for spots that offered the potential for some stealth camping. I expect if I were to check the Dublin city code, it would prohibit overnight camping on city lands. But I'm not going to check, because I want an alternative to trekking to Alum Creek and paying $28 to sleep on hard ground next to noisy neighbors with an RV.

After a summer's worth of planning for this, we had an unusually warm Saturday night forecast, so Henry and I headed out about 4:00 pm. We made one detour on the way there, to pick up the Riverbox at Amberleigh park:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trail-a-bike Twins

An evening spin tonight to hit a few playgrounds and enjoy our last few nice days of fall. Mostly, I'm making this post to show this picture of Kate:

Both twins are starting to ride the Burley Picolo trail-a-bike and really enjoying it. Sam's hair just doesn't flow dramatically like Kate's does:

Now the question is, how to hook two trail-a-bikes together?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stupid Things Found in Mountain Bike Action (Nov issue)

Despite the fact that I get too many magazines, for some reason I recently subscribed to Mountain Bike Action. I got the November issue in the mail a few weeks back:

After reading through the issue, I thought I would start a (likely) semi-regular feature of my blog, "Stupid Things Found in Mountain Bike Action." Sure, there's the usual stupid stuff, such as their insistence on weighing everything in pounds and ounces (true weight weenies are metric, except for complete bikes and maybe wheelsets and forks), and their use of "feet/crank rotation" to measure gearing (which is logically better than the commonly used gear inches, but everyone uses gear inches, so "feet/crank revolution" is thus a worthless benchmark). But I'm going to focus on the stupid stuff specific to this issue.

Here we go:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

Today was IMBA's official "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day." Although Henry has a few trails under his belt, now that he's a big ol' seven year old, I figured it was time for him to hit a real trail. Besides, there was supposed to be free stuff.

We got some rain on Friday (no doubt due to the President's Cup being in town), but the trails were still in good enough shape for riding. We loaded up Saturday morning before swim lessons and headed out. We got there right at the start, and the COMBO guys already had their tent set up. Henry was excited to get a number plate:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Henry

We had Henry's 7th birthday party at Scioto Park. Henry had been campaigning hard to have a pool party at the Dublin rec, but the cost and logistics of that steered us towards the city park idea. In the event, the weather was great and I think it was our best birthday party yet (last year: fire station; year before: pumpkin farm).

Between Henry's classmates, neighbors, and cousins, we had about 20 kids and probably a dozen adults show up. The party started at noon, and by 11:55, Henry was at his station near the parking lot to receive his guests. Most of the kids came in a rush right about noon, but even after they all ran to the playground to play, Henry stood by to greet the rest of the kids. No one asked him to do this. I was very proud of my responsible seven year old!

The playground was a popular place all afternoon:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Drop Bars on the Cross Check

So after flirting with Soma Oxford bars for a while (both upside down and right side up), yesterday I changed my Surly Cross Check back to a drop bar, geared machine:

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Brief History of Rawland Bikes

Last week, someone on the Rawland Cycles Owner's Group email list asked for information on past Rawland models. Since I've had a number of Rawlands, and need ideas to fill blog space now that my quest is done, I'll take a shot at it here.

Rawland was started back (I'm not sure when) by Sean and Anna Virnig. Sean was inspired by the all around usefulness of the later steel Bridgestone models. For a while, they used the tagline, "Choose Your Own Adventure":

which I guess indicates that Sean and I are both children of the late 70s.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

S24O: Mansfield to Mohican State Forest

This past Saturday buddy Charles and I finally got to our first joint S24O this year. Rather than the usual meet and ride the short hop to Alum Creek SP, we had something new in mind. We started by driving an hour north to Mansfield. Our plan was to take the Richland B&O rails-to-trails as far as it extended towards Mohican State Forest, then make our way the rest of the way on roads.

Our first challenge was finding a non-sketchy place to leave my car. This turned out to be difficult in this part of Mansfield (no offense to Mansfieldians). We finally ended up in the parking lot of Mansfield High, ready to roll:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Belvedere Park, again

Way back at the beginning of this blog, we visited Belvedere Park just across Brand road but failed to take any pictures. Tonight was our chance to set things right. Sam was very excited to be here again:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bike #67 Intro: Niner SIR9... YASH!

Yet Another Steel Hardtail... someday I'll either get it right, or just give up and go try something else. Anyway, I was browsing through one of my secret shopping areas (the pacelineforums classifieds... mostly this is a roadie forum, so the mountain bikes seem to go a little cheaper) and came across a good deal on a Niner SIR9 that had been lingering on there. The seller was pretty slow in shipping it, but almost three weeks later, it finally arrived here on Monday. I was planning to ride on Tuesday after work, so I put together a quick single speed build:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

650B revisted

I went to a trail work today at Alum P1. We did a lot of cleanup on the beginner's trail for next week's race. This week's work day was sponsored by local bike shop roll:, so they had some demos on hand of some of their new models. Since lunch wasn't ready, I was the first to hop on an Anthem 27.5 3 (MSRP $2250) for a quick demo after work was done:

They had just built up the bike on Friday night, so I was the first to really ride it. It was a size Large, too small for me, but the biggest they had in the demo fleet.

I only rode for a mile or two, so take this with a grain of salt:

One more playground: Glacier Ridge Metro Park

Both my playground visits and my blogging have really tapered off since we finished our summer goal. But last night, with Henry and Kate at my parents' place, it didn't take much campaigning by Sam to get me to agree to take him to a playground.

I actually felt sort of fast with only one kid back there:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Best and Worst Parks in Dublin

Drumroll, please, for the moment you've all been waiting for: Bikes and Playgrounds First (and maybe last) Annual Best and Worst Parks awards. Let's jump right in:

Best Community Park: Amberleigh:

This is about the only park that Henry has been asking me to go back to: "can we go back to that firetruck park?" (the twins mostly want to go to ANY playground). Between the village play area and the musical instruments, it has a lot of unique features. I would like to see more shade trees, though, and it's quite a haul to get there from our place.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer in Review

Our quest is done, the twins start school this week, so it seems like a good time to kick back and look over what we did this summer.

My original goal was to hit all 56 parks by bike with the kids. In the end, we had to visit five parks by car, and I visited another five (all open spaces, no playgrounds) by bike without the kids. So, 46 parks with the kids by bike. I'm happy with that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

DONE! Dublin Spring Park and Karrer Barn

Today was the day. After our dinner of taco slurry, we headed out for our final two parks. Our first stop was #18 Dublin Spring Park. We headed down the steps under the bridge:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kiwanis Riverway Park by Surly Cross Check

About a week ago, I drove around with Henry to try to find the parking area for the #32 Dublin Kiwanis Riverway park. We finally gave up that day and ended up going to the Toy Barn to look at exotic cars (this was Henry's request, I was so proud again!) When I got home, I studied the map and realized we should have turned into the River Quarry development off Riverside Dr. Early Saturday morning, I headed out on my fixed gear Cross Check to check this park off. Even early in the morning, I don't want to bring the kids in a bike along Riverside Dr, so this was a solo trip.

Near the Dublin Rec, I noticed something new along the bike path:

Henry goes Mountain Biking

On Tuesday, I was able to rearrange my schedule at work a bit to take off early in the afternoon for the "meet the teacher" day at Henry's school. Teacher met, we had the afternoon free to decide what to do with. The twins were with my folks, Jodi had gone shopping. I asked Henry what he wanted to do: "Let's go mountain biking!" I'm so proud!

I had earlier mentioned to Henry that the trails at Wellington Park looked like a good place for him to practice. We saddled up and rode the few miles over there. On the way, we notice something new at Avery Park:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A History of My (Many) Hardtail 29ers

(reference: my history of full sus bikes, road bikes, and 26er hardtails)

I was a reasonably early adapter of 29ers (for Ohio), starting back around 2006. That spring, I saw a guy on the trail with a white On One Inbred--the first 29er I'd seen in real life. I tried to meet up with him later for a demo ride, but it just never worked out. That didn't stop me from taking the plunge, though, and I built up my own 29er that summer:

1. Voodoo Dambala

A decent frame, super versatile as were most of the early 29ers (disc or rim brakes, single speed or geared). I had a Marzocchi Bomber fork on there, which was adequate. But, it just felt kind of slow and unwieldy on the trail. I blamed the 29er wheels, but I also had some medical issues going on that summer which likely played a bigger role. I sold it and went back to my Specialized Epic... for a while.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

S24O to Alum Creek, Or So I Thought

I had nothing major planned for this weekend, and with the forecast looking great, I decided to take Henry camping to Alum Creek State Park. On Saturday, I figured I might as well take Sam with us--my niece Marli was staying over, so Kate would have a good time with just the girls at home and wouldn't miss us. Sam has never been on a bike trip with us, but he has been camping, so I figured he would do all right.

I was a little worried that my two man tent would be too small, or that I would struggle up the hills with the extra weight of Sam and his gear. Turns out these weren't the right issues to worry about.

We set out about 4:00. I was riding my newly converted 8 speed Novara Buzz, with Henry on the Picolo and Sam and gear in the trailer:

Novara Buzz Update

I've had my Novara Buzz for a few weeks now, and I've already rebuilt it. Not that the initial, er, buzz has worn off, but the stock setup wasn't that useful for me: 42x16 gearing was too tall for me knees, and all those white components... blech. Plus, I needed some gears to pull the kids around.

Here's how it stands now:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Soma Double Cross vs. Surly Cross Check Comparison

This summer, I ended up with a Soma Double Cross and a Surly Cross Check at the same time. Many people shop these two against each other, so I thought I would put up some thoughts between them.

Here's how they were built when I took my comparo photos:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Avery and Woods of Brighton Park

#3 Avery Park is another of our "home" parks (along with Westbury), since it's very close to our house. Of course, we've been there several times this summer, and I did mention it back here, but this evening I brought the camera so it became all official like.

There's a small trail in the woodlot at Avery Park where Henry is learning to mountain bike:

I've also been known to do a bit of comparo riding here. And there's a bunch of sports fields and stuff. Yawn... but our main attraction is the playground:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Westbury Park

Just a quick ride last night. We first headed back to Wyndham Park, because Kate wanted to ride her bike somewhere further than Avery Park. From there, we backtracked to #53 Westbury Park. This is one of our two "home parks," because it's only a stone's throw from our house.

I'm starting to appreciate this playground more. It's divided into two sections, with a little kids side:

and a bigger kids side:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rigid 29er Smackdown Part Duex

In my last installment of some comparison riding, I rode the Blackbuck vs. the Soma Juice. The Blackbuck won that one--evidence being the Juice has been sold, but the Blackbuck remains. Today I took the Blackbuck out for round two:

It's the Blackbuck vs. the Singular Gryphon. I just headed out to my local guerrilla trail in Avery Park. It's short, maybe only a 1/3 mile figure eight, and flat, but it does have a few logovers, and some anonymous (ahem) but community minded person has been keeping the trail clear of fall downs and brush.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Surly Cross Check to Campden Lakes, Hutchins Open Space, and Bryson Cove

Beautiful weather here for a busy weekend. On Saturday, I ran the Warrior Dash with a couple of buddies from work. I'm not a runner by any means, but it's fun to climb over stuff "Survivor" style:

(this picture was after I washed off)

 Saturday night, I fulfilled an earlier promised to the kids and we camped out in the backyard.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wellington Park and Amberleigh Park

My new playground posts are getting further between. With only a handful of parks left, I'm pretty much limited to weekends to head out to a new park. But on Saturday, we got the gang together after dinner and headed out.

Brian and his boys were joining us again. Our first stop was #52 Wellington Park. We entered this park through the woods off Brandonway road:

Which, as a side note, I think will be a great training ground for Henry to practice "mountain" biking. I had thought this was only an open space, no playground, so I was happy to round the corner to see this:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Henry's Trip to Virginia (guest post by Jodi)

Last weekend, while I played single dad with the twins, Jodi took Henry on a plane trip to see her friend Michele in Virginia. I asked her to make a write up of their trip. Here we go:


Henry and I (Mom)  flew to Reagan Airport on Friday, July 27.  It was Henry's second plane trip - the first one was to here 2 years ago.  He likes planes (as any little boy should) and likes airports too.  He is quite the nice traveling companion. :)

Mom's friend Michele, along with her son Christian, picked us up and off we went to explore DC.  We had flown over DC on our way to the airport and saw that the Washington Monument was being repaired - apparently, it has been closed for 2 years due to an earthquake and structural issues.  So, we parked close to it which took a while with the parking situation there.  I was glad Michele drove the entire trip - not only because she knows all the roads, but because she is accustomed to the aggressiveness of not just the other drivers, but the pedestrians who regularly put their lives on the line while crossing the streets.

Our first stop was the Smithsonian Museum, which is excellent and like most museums in the area, is free.  It has such a great dinosaur exhibit which little boys like. :)  We also saw lots of bugs, an African exhibit, lots of rocks, and even the Hope Diamond.

Them's the Brakes

I've mentioned earlier (and repeatedly) that I wasn't happy with the rear brake on my Rawland Nordavinden. After today's ride, I started thinking about all the flex I was feeling in the lever. What, I wondered, would happen if I put on a lever with less flex? My current road levers are typical run of the mill Shimano aero levers. Shimano usually makes good stuff, so I'm not sure how much better other road bike levers would be. But I did have some Dia Compe flat bar levers in the parts bin.

Here is my super elegant test mode:

The result was significantly improved brake performance (if not appearance). I could now skid the rear tire, at least.

At this point, a more rational bikie would start thinking about upgrading brake levers. But that's not my way. I'm still in my downsizing mode. Them's the brakes!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kate's big ride

This past Sunday, I took the twins out to the back yard to practice with their pedal bikes. Our back yard is slightly sloped, so it helps keep them moving, and is grassy, which is useful when they stop moving. Sam quickly grew frustrated and threw in the towel, but Kate, our little star athlete, started pedaling pretty quickly.

Later that evening, she talked me into letting her hit the side walk:


Monday, July 29, 2013

Bike #66 Intro: REI Novara Buzz One

Update: you can see some changes to my Buzz here.

July has been an especially busy bike month for me. Just this month, I've sold three frames (Soma Doublecross, Soma Juice, and the Globe Vienna), and have bought one (the Singular Gryphon). Er, make that two: late last week, someone on the Rivendell Bike email list mentioned that REI was blowing out single speed bikes for "nearly free!". Well, it wasn't quite free, but I've bought wheelsets that cost more. My willpower, never strong to begin with, erodes rapidly when I see that "half off!" signal. Amusingly, when I went to the REI website, I already had this bike in my cart from the last time I looked at it, during REI's 20% off sale. Glad I waited.

The bike is the REI Novara Buzz One, their attempt at a hipster fixie single speed whip (ugh):

I'm about as far from a hipster as can be, but I do enjoy riding a fixed gear, and I saw a lot in this frame that I was looking for:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Emerald Fields, Wedgewood Hills, Wedgewood Glen, and the Zoo

We had a beautiful morning today, so the twins and I first headed out to the zoo. We got there shortly after opening, so we managed to see Asia Quest before the crowds hit:

Up to North America for a train ride, but by 10:30 all the twins could see was a wall of people's backs, so we headed out to hit some playgrounds.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Darree Fields (and some notes on the Soma Oxford bar)

We finally got a break in the rain this afternoon, so after dinner the twins and I headed out to knock off another playground. Our destination for the evening was #16 Darree Fields, tucked away on the far western side of Dublin.

Darree has two playgrounds, so we stopped at the northern one first:

Billie Bar Review, with bonus Pine Tar Soap review

I placed a Rivendell order the other day to try out a few new products. My main purchase was a new bar for my Fuji. The Billie bar is an evo...