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Showing posts from 2015

Enter the Monkey

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As I was doing my usual daily internet bike check a few weeks back, I came across a great deal on a Surly Karate Monkey frameset. I jumped on it, even though I need yet another steel/rigid/single speed/29er not at all. I had an idea that I might be able to cram a 29+ in the rear of the Monkey, potentially obsoleting both my Mukluk and my Ritchey.

Turns out, even with "Fatties Fit Fine" clearance, it's just a bit tight back there for a 29+ tire. My Knard would spin, but it was very close. Since the Dirt Wizard is measured to run a bit smaller bead to bead, I traded my Titec H bar for a new DW, only to find that while the casing may be smaller, the big cornering knobs rub on the chainstays.

This setback really took the wind out of my sails. I had grand visions that I could possibly dimple the chainstays a bit more to get the clearance I needed, but I don't think there's enough material back there to make this feasible (I also had an idea to cut off the stupid looki…

Rolling Along (and the Privateer)

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The big news in our neck of the woods is that our kids will get redistricted next year, changing up their elementary school. Under the current plan, they would go to Wyandot Elementary, so a few weekends ago, I took the kids there on a playground familiarization trip:

I was riding my Camargue, which is handily squashing my idea to have the New Albion Privateer take over its role. Better tire clearance, longer chainstays, and I like the handling better. It's too bad the NAP is a little handier to pedal.

Bloggers Get Together with Fatbikes, no Beer is Drunk

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A few weeks back, fellow Buckeye bike blogger Cody posted up on mtbr.com looking for other fatbikers to ride in the Cincy area, or maybe up to Caesar's Creek. Since Caesar's is roughly between Columbus and Cincinnati, I said I'd be there for a ride at Caesar's. This weekend, our schedules were both clear for a ride, so we set a rendezvous at 8:30 at Caesar's.

The theme for this ride turned out to be "old school." Caesar's Creek is one of the oldest mountain bike trails in Ohio, and it still has some fall line trails and tight. bumpy corners to keep us on our toes. Further, between our fat tires, abundant leaf cover, and relatively dry trails, we were able to do some bushwhacking, beach riding, and exploring:

New Albion Privateer

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Sometimes my bike builds are occasioned by my parts bin. In this case, I have had a somewhat rare Soma Champs Elysees low trail fork sitting above my work bench for some months. These forks are rare because Soma has (so far) only made one batch of them, which turned out a bit longer than spec (about 10mm off, from what I've read). I've had my VO for sale for some time, and I've been looking for a replacement. I ended up getting a 60cm New Albion Privateer, a somewhat budgetish frame from one of Soma's sister brands. It arrived last week, and I got it built up and some miles down this weekend:

It's my typical crossy kind of road bike frame. Like my old Crosscheck, it has long horizontal dropouts for running single speed, but in this case I have it set up for eight:

Fall Weekend Riding, and a Quiz

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Fall is the best season for riding in Ohio. In addition to enjoying the beautiful trees, the trails are usually in pretty good shape, I'm usually in pretty good shape, and the weather is often ideal, cool and no bugs.

For various reasons, I haven't done any mountain biking in the past month, so I set out to fix that this weekend. Saturday after soccer, we were talking about what to do for the rest of the day, and Jodi asked, "why don't you go riding?" No need to ask that question twice, I headed out with the Ritchey for my first lap of P1 this year:

P1 was quite a mess all spring and summer, so I've been avoiding it until now. It's a nice change of pace, and nice to get back to, but man is that a bumpy, rooty trail! Almost, I was wishing for full suspension, but I'm not there yet. After all, I still have my fatbike:

This Post is Actually About Bikes and Playgrounds

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This evening, we did something we didn't do much this summer: we hopped on our bikes and went to a playground. Sure, the eldest child was whining about leaving, about being drug out of the house on a beautiful fall afternoon to get outside, but once he spotted the playground, his mood improved.

We headed for Park Place:

Recycling Old Bike Boxes: Henry's 9th Birthday

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The end of September, and Henry's birthday has rolled around again. We've had his last two parties at Scioto Park, but wanted something different this year. Henry initially talked about a game truck or a laser tag truck, but when we priced those out, the laser tag truck came to something like $300 for 12 kids for two hours. Ouch! Too rich for my blood... I figured for less than half of that, I could do something better.

It started with a big order of Nerf guns, darts, and safety glasses from Amazon:

So I Bought a Rivendell

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I've been a Rivendell fan for a long time. I had the classic Bridgestone catalogs that I picked up (new) in college, and found out about Rivendell back around the time of Rivendell Reader #3. I've watched Rivendell develop from a purveyor of NOS parts and classic bike aesthetics to where they are now, with their own line of Silver components and and some rather unique frames.

Despite this interest, I've only ever had one Riv frame, a Romulus that I never really meshed with. Until last Sunday, that is, when I came across a frame of interest on the rivbike mailing list. I slept on it, decided I still wanted it on Monday, and I finally made the purchase from the seller as I was boarding a flight to Atlanta on Monday afternoon. Smart phones are cool. He was super quick about shipping it, so when I came home from my business trip Thursday evening, there it was in the hall. Along with my lovely wife and three super kids, AND the new issue of Bicycle Quarterly... it made for a ni…

Underbiking

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Last Sunday, I broke out for a pretty big ride (for me). Rather than meeting the guys for some mountain biking, I was cracking the garage door before 8:00 and wheeling the Raleigh out. My destination was Alum Creek, almost 20 miles out, and my plan was to ride the Raleigh for a lap around the P2 mtb trail when I got there.

I rolled north, stopping at the Home Road bridge for a quick picture over the Scioto River:

Fleet Update, Weekend Riding

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Lots of riding this weekend, but mostly I wasn't carrying my camera, or didn't want to stop for pictures, so not much in the way of pictures. Still, I'm trying to keep my blog chugging along with at least a post a week, so I'll just leave a few notes about my bike fleet and what they did this weekend.

As is my new practice, bikes are shown from my current favorite to least:

Ritchey P-29er:

Several rides in, and I still love the way this frame rides and looks. Sunday, I took the Ritchey to Chestnut Ridge for a ride with a small group of friends. This was a decidedly mixed group, with some experienced riders that haven't been out much lately, to some younger guys that didn't have much experience, to one fellow who had never been on a trail. Er, I probably should have picked an easier trail than CR if I had known. Sorry. So I mostly had to putter along at the group's pace, but whenever I had a chance to open it up, the Ritchey sprang to life and I could charge d…

Salsa Mukluk Update

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I haven't written much about my Mukluk since I picked it up earlier this spring, which is mostly due to me using the limited riding time in this very wet summer on my Twin Six, and more recently on my Ritchey. Also, the Muk had some shifting issues that I was struggling with. I made a few changes over the last week that got it back ready for some trail time:

Going Slow

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This summer, I've been doing a lot more biking with the kids on their own bikes, and a lot less where I drag the kids around in the bike train. This has good and bad points: it's satisfying to see the kids gain confidence on their own bikes, but I may miss this extra strength training when I hit a big ride like Mohican. One thing I have noticed is that the Albastache bar on the VO isn't ideal for going slow with the kids--the main hand position, up in the forward curves, is a little too leaned forward when I'm going slow. Sliding my hands back on the bars brings me more upright, but that position doesn't have any brake access. That's not ideal when I'm riding with kids who stop randomly and frequently.

As much as I like the Albastache bar, after Kate's S24O last weekend, I was out in the garage changing things around. This isn't what I started with, but I ended up with this:

It's my Surly Open bar paired with (carbon fiber!) bar ends on the forw…

Kate's S24O

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Up to now, both boys have had a solo overnight camping trip, but Kate hasn't... and she hasn't been shy about reminding me of this fact. Friday was the annual Persied meteor shower campout at Blues Creek Nature Preserve up past Ostrander, and I decided this would be Kate's trip. I got home from work, we had dinner, threw our gear in the trailer, and hit the road:

B&P Vacation

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I had a quiet, efficient, and comfortable early production lot 2016 Pilot, with one touch second row seating and a nine inch Blu-ray DVD player, reserved for a long weekend, so I took a few days off work and we had a small road trip. Jodi and the kids headed out a few days earlier to spend time with her folks, and early on Thursday morning I headed out to meet them. I parked the new Pilot next to our old one at her dad's place:

Yes, the new one is better in every way, please see your friendly local Honda dealer. From this base in New Philadelphia, we improvised a vacation that had a lot of playgrounds, and a lot of bikes.

The Best Looking Bike Ever

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Being an engineer, most of my bike buys are actually rather carefully planned and thought through. This geometry, that tubing, those features... this usually ensures I have competent bikes, but sometimes they're missing that little spark. There are frames out there that have caught my eye, but I've always demurred because of cost, or practicality, or overlap with the fleet. And then sometimes, there are exceptions.

Last weekend, after I got home from a ride on my Twin Six with some friends at Chestnut Ridge, I was idly flipping through my usual bike sites. I surfed over to Wiggle.com to check out their prices on some hydro brakes, and as I usually do when I come to bike shopping sites, I checked their "frames" section. Turns out, they had a frame that I've always admired, half off, available in only 15" and 21" sizes. Once again, it's nice to be tall. I hemmed for a bit, hawed for a moment, and then ordered it like I knew I would. Ordered on Sunday,…

New Bikes and an S24O

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When I bought Henry's 24" Specialized Hotrock last winter, I hoped it would last through at least this summer. But recently on a whim, I asked him to try a throw a leg over Jodi's 26" wheeled Trek to see if it would fit, and he hasn't stopped riding it since. Since Jodi wants her bike back, I spent some time scouring Craigslist for Henry's next bike. Bike shopping is an onerous task, but it's something I can finally put my well honed skills to use for. A week or so later, we landed here:

It's a 26" wheeled/13.5" frame size Giant Boulder. It has a lousy suspension fork, but Henry finds the trigger shifters easier to use than the twist shifters on his old Hotrock, it's in good shape overall, and he likes the colors. For $100, I think we did pretty well. And it's even steel... though so grossly oversized, it looks more like aluminum. I don't think it's ever going to "plane" for Henry.

The Paths to Single Speed

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Riding buddy Chris, after moving here to the flatlands of Ohio, is starting to see the light after some drivetrain issues and has asked me about singlespeeds (I can relate: after finally getting a dry spell, I was able to ride Chestnut Ridge yesterday where my geared Mukluk had all kinds of shifting issues. Good thing I had also brought along my single speed Twin Six, but I digress). For Chris's education, I'm making this quick guide to singlespeeding. There are four things he'll have to learn:

1) Gearing: 32x20. Done.

2) Frame material: Steel. Done.

3) Suspension: No. Done.

4) How to tension the chain: well, that's a longer story.

Without a rear derailer, you need some way to keep the chain taunt so it doesn't fly off. Most single speed frames have some sort of gizmo to adjust the distance between the crank and the rear hub, so this length can be adjusted to compensate for different gear combinations while keeping a tight chain. Single speed message boards are fil…

Everything But Mountain Biking

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This has been an endlessly wet summer here in Central Ohio, setting rainfall records left and right. As a result, I haven't been mountain biking at all in the last month due to the wet trails (our soil is all clay around here, and the idiots who ride in the wet destroy the trails for the rest of us. Go on, ask me how I feel about them). Anyway, without weekends spent mountain biking, I've been doing what I can to get out.

Over shutdown break, I took the chance to take Sam to his summer school reading program via bike. This means Sam had to get up about 15 minutes earlier for his already early 8:15 start date, but he wanted to do it. Henry and Kate rode with me to pick him up one day, but the ~3 mile trip there wore Kate out and she didn't want to pedal home. My solution:

I wasn't carrying motorcycle tie downs in the trailer by accident.

Speaking of kids riding bikes, Sam has finally determined that he is ready to ride his bike:

The $25 Technium

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I've been riding my $25 Raleigh Technium a bit more since I bought it a few weeks ago. So far, I have to say I am very impressed with it. Perhaps because I am coming from a spell of riding my Camargue as my only road bike, but the Raleigh just feels super lively. The Camargue isn't bad, but loaded down with bags and racks and hampered by its thicker tubing, it doesn't have much zip for me... at least compared to this Raleigh.

To recap, the Raleigh looked pretty good when I bought it (did I mention it cost just $25?):

But I only did one ride stock before I started in on the changes:

Iowa Vacation, Again

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When we asked the kids what they wanted to do for vacation this year, the twins started chanting, "Great Wolf Lodge! Great Wolf Lodge!", but Henry just quietly suggested that we should go visit Great Grandma Daume. My Grandma isn't getting any younger at 96, so figuring she would enjoy some time with her great grandkids, we loaded up our comfortable and efficient Honda Pilot and headed west.

Since Iowa typically isn't the most amazing tourist destination, we tried to add some fun activities on the way there. We only did a short drive on Friday, stopping at Indianapolis so we could visit the children's museum on Saturday:

Vintage Bike Days

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Back in the day, buddies Marc and Brian and I would regularly ride our motorcycles up to Mid Ohio each July for the Vintage Bike Days. We would check out the swap meet, the bike demos, and the racing that looked pretty fast until it was compared to the Indy races a few weeks later. These days, we're all grown up and pretty much motorcycle-free, much to our quiet desperation, but we still enjoy our bicycles. Well, at least Marc and I do.

But back to the vintage theme. I regularly trawl my local Craigslist, and in the last week I've come across two deals that were too good to pass up. The first was a vintage Specialized Stumpjumper, backward seatpost and all, for just $119:

This Post is for Greyson

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My nephew wants to be a car engineer, bless his heart, so I thought he might enjoy some of these pictures I took from my last trip to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in Virginia. I was there for a workshop on their new child seat usability rating system, which was a pretty interesting topic if you're both a car guy and a dad.

If your name isn't Greyson, might as well skip this one.

One of IIHS's newest tests is a small overlap test. This simulates a car hitting a narrow object, like a light pole. Because the object often misses the main structure of the car, it can do terrific damage to a car. Here's a Chevy Equinox that did pretty well:

And here's a Mazda CX-9 that did poorly:

Velo Orange Camargue: One Year Review

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I've had my Camargue almost exactly a year now--I remember it well when I bought it: we were on our summer shutdown vacation and I was awake before the rest of the family in our hotel room. As I was flipping through my iPhone in bed, I saw the Camargue was now available. I quickly made for the bathroom where I could turn on the light without disturbing anyone, and ordered it there off the tiny screen on my phone.

It's a lot bigger in real life:

YASH: Twin Six

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Some time ago, I pronounced that my next bike would be steel and 29+. Since then, I've picked up a Mukluk that can fit 29+, sold off four frames in the May Purge, and lately I've picked up this steel Twin Six frame off ebay:

It's simply Yet Another Steel Hardtail, not 29+ capable, so my prior idea of steel and 29+ apparently didn't have to be the same bike.

Of course, by now you may be asking, what is Twin Six? They're primarily a clothing marketer, but they are branching out into frames. This frame was apparently a prototype made by Waterford in Wisconsin. Since it was made by the folks who also make Gunnars, I was ready to deal with a slipping seat post and chipping paint. I ended up having issues with both of those areas, but not quite in the way I expected.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction (Trek Stache 9+ Demo)

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With money burning a hole in my bike fund, I was eager to hit the Trek factory demo this morning at Alum Creek. I've been looking forward to try the much ballyhooed Trek Stache 9+ models, and they were well represented in the demo fleet. The Trek Store had everything set up at the P2 parking lot:

I filled out the iPad form, and quickly had a Stache 9 29+ in my gloved hands:

The May Massacre

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It's been an eventful month for my bike fleet. Early in the month, I sold the ERB to a fellow in Arizona. The spring concept was interesting, and maybe faster, but it finally wasn't significant enough that I was willing to compromise and go back to 26" wheels for it.

Goodbye ERB:

I sold the ERB as a complete bike, mostly to help clear out some space in my parts bin, but also to get these super swanky Bontrager scandium wheels out of the garage. As long as they were around, it was too tempting to pick up a 26er frame to go with them... only to realize I'm a 29er guy these days... but the wheels are soooo light.... Now, no more temptation.

The ERB was just the beginning.

New Bike Parts and Ice Cream

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When I got my new blingy wheels for my Mukluk, I realized they didn't come with skewers. Coincidentally, a fellow COMBO member had a pair of Hope fat bike skewers for sale for just $20. He lived in nearby Powell, so I arranged to meet him up there on Friday evening.

Because I try to be a good dad, I arranged the meeting at Graeter's ice cream:

Work Free Wednesday

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I've been trying to take a three day weekend for a few weeks now, but things always kept popping up at work until I last I ended up taking Wednesday off this week. So instead of a three day weekend, I only have to deal with a pair of two day work weeks--not a bad trade! In the end, Wednesday was a great day to head out riding.

I started my day off with some pre-breakfast comparo riding between the Surly:

and ye Olde Trek:

My intention was to do four laps of my Avery Park extended loop, two miles each, alternating between bikes. My hope was that it would help me decide which of these two very similar bikes I liked better. But that wasn't quite what happened.

Trek: Fixed, and 650B

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I was getting closer to selling off my 650B wheelset, but decided to give it one last go. If I'm riding solo on the road, that usually means I'm on a fixed gear, or want to be on a fixed gear, so even my previous Trek single speed conversions haven't really given me a fair comparison to my ever faithful Cross Check. This time, it would be different: earlier in the week, I pulled the welded freehub off my beater 700c rear wheel, and fixified my 650B wheelset. I don't usually enjoy cracking into hubs, so I had been putting this job off, but it was actually pretty easy and satisfying to do. It was a good excuse to break out my cone wrenches, at least.

6:30 this morning, I was ready to hit the road to get a ride in before the soccer games started:

There's really not much to see here, but this freehub is welded shut. No longer free then, I guess... I shall deem it the fixedhub henceforth:

2015's First S24O, and a Carmargue Update

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Sam has been asking me for weeks, if not months, when we can go camping ("Sam, it's snowing outside...") Finally, we had a beautiful forecast for this weekend. I asked Sam if he would like to go camping, and he was so excited he ran right over and gave me a big, long hug. This made my restless, allergy filled night worthwhile.

We had some dinner, threw some gear in the trailer, and hit the road. Sam was happy to be out:

Happy Birthday Mom

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Go past the break to see your birthday message!

Accesorizing

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I've heard some women buy handbags to match their shoes (I'm not sure if this is true, or else my wife would have a huge collection of black leather handbags with chunky heels), but us menfolk like our shoes to coordinate as well. For instance, my everyday shoes:

possibly inspired my latest frame purchase:

Westbury Park. Again.

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Last night, with Henry out at my parents' place, the twins and I decided to enjoy the fine weather and head to a playground. Lately, this always involves a minor bit of conflict: they want to go to nearby Westbury park in hopes of running into their friends, while I want to go someplace further away to get more riding in. Our new deal was that we would ride past Westbury: if they saw some friends, we would stop; if not, we would keep riding.

I got a chance to sit and enjoy the evening air at Westbury park while they played tag with their buddies:
I also had time to admire my Camargue for a while:

Fatbike as Mountain Bike

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We've had enough dry days in a row here that one of the local riding spots, Chestnut Ridge, was open this morning. Since the Gravity Bullseye Monster is currently my only mountain bike, I threw it on my Accord this morning and headed out. This would be the first time I had any real saddle time with the fat tires on a non-snowy trail.


How did it go? A bit surprisingly, there was more good than bad.

Swap Meet (Trek 620), and a few Playgrounds

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This weekend, the Westerville Bike Club put on a swap meet down at the Franklin Country fairgrounds. Looking though my growing piles of bike stuff, I realized it was probably worthwhile to put down my $10 (plus service fee) to get a table and try to do a little spring cleaning. I started on a swiftly growing pile of handlebars, wheels, tires, and bar ends. In a fit of downsizing, I had a thought to streamline my fleet down to only 700c bikes (and, er, the fatbike), so I stripped down the ERB and converted ye Olde Trek back to its stock 27" wheels to ready them for sale.

With a week to go to the swap meet, second thoughts began to creep in. Looking at the ERB, and the superlight 26" scandium disc brake wheelset, I decided that combo was worthy of more saddle time, so it came off the pile... along with a pair of 26" knobbies to go with it. That left the Trek still on the bubble. Selling it would leave me at just four bikes, a number I haven't seen in quite some time.

Spring is (Almost) Here (Cross Check, Bulls Eye Monster, Trek 620)

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I'm going to make up a fact right here and say that February was the coldest month on record. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but it sure felt like it. Which made this weekends temps in the 40s feel positively spring like. I still had to wear most of my cold weather gear, but not quite all of it, and that was good enough.

Saturday I took the Cross Check on a quick library run on hopefully one of my last rides with snow in the background:

I'm still enjoying the Soma low trail fork. It would be nice to cut down some of the steerer tube, but after struggling at the limit of the stock fork's 300mm steerer for so long, this fork is getting nowhere near the miter box saw. Actually, it would be really nice if the CC came with a ~220mm head tube and a top tube with some slope, but I'm not a road bike purist that needs a level top tube.

As I rolled into the driveway coming home, the mailman was there with a box for me. New tires for the Bullseye Monster:

I was feeling good e…

Snow Biking Again with the Gravity Bulls Eye Monster

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You might have the impression from some of my previous posts that I'm not feeling much love for my new cheap fatbike. That was largely true: I haven't cared for the fat tires, not seeing any advantage on soft surfaces, and just being slow everywhere. I've headed out to the garage on a few occasions to convert it back to stock so I could sell it, but I've held back, mostly with the thought that I need to give the fat tires a little more time to try and understand their capabilities better.

Yesterday was cold but clear, and feeling a bit stir crazy after being inside for the last week, I decided to head out again. I added some more pressure to the fat tires (how much? I don't know, since my floor pump doesn't seem to read below about 20 psi or so), and headed towards Avery Park. The added air pressure really helped the bike move along--it no longer felt like I was dragging an anchor behind me.

Someone helpful person had packed down a path through the park:

The fa…

Heart of Steel

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Last weekend, we had a break in the weather: dry and temps in the 40s. It felt like spring after what's felt like weeks of temperatures in the teens. Saturday, I took the Camargue on a library and beer run, and Sunday I headed out for one of my favorite loops on ye Olde 650B Trek. The roads were nicely cleared, but some of the smaller trails I'd planned to ride on hadn't been cleared:

I had to push it up this icy hill, then continued to push for probably another half mile along this icy bike path:

Gravity Bullseye Monster Update

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I've had my Gravity Bullseye Monster fatbike out for a few rides so far, venturing out to the local parks in both the snow and the dry.


If I had to sum it up my fatbike experience so far, I would describe it in just one word:

Slow.

Geocaching with Henry

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Last week, Henry had a presentation in his class about geocaching. After that, he was all fired up to give it a try, so on Saturday we loaded up some local cache points in my iPhone and hit the road.
To the uninitiated, geocaching looks a lot like someone out for a walk:
I had loaded up five points nearby, but the first two were a bust. Things weren't looking good, but we had better luck with cache #3:

Getting Fat Over the Winter: Gravity Bullseye Monster Intro

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I've finally decided to dip my toes in the waters of the fat bike world. These big tired beasts are one of the few categories of bikes where sales are expanding, but my previous fatbike experiences have been decidedly mixed: my Moonlander demo was 15 minutes of awfulness, like attempting to ride a beach ball down a flight of stairs, while my more recent experience on a too-small Pugs was better, but hard to get a final read on due to the medium sized frame. But mix in too much time reading the mtbr.com fat bike forum, a positive balance in my bike budget, and a beer or two, and a week and $500 after ordering, I got this:

I generally prefer to build my bikes from the frame up, but fatbikes take enough unique parts that this would have been an expensive proposition. Also, I'm curious how my knees will get along with the wide bottom bracket, so I didn't want to make a big investment if it wasn't going to work for me. Finally, I've never seen a strong correlation betwe…

New Fork Weekend (Razzo and Cross Check)

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I've been looking at a new fork for my Razzo for a while now. I wanted to experiment a bit with something a little longer than the 465mm Fargo fork I had on there. Plus, I wanted something that blended a bit better with the Razzo's oversized head tube. $78 later on ebay, and I had this 485mm X Lite aluminum fork:

My quick demo ride was a bit uninspiring: the front end felt higher, even though the bars were in the same position relative to the saddle, and the steering wasn't great. But since it was dark and about 7F out, I didn't go too far. I planned for a longer ride today, hoping that would give me a better understanding of the new geometry, but in the event, that didn't work out the way I expected.