Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fatbike as Mountain Bike

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.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Swap Meet (Trek 620), and a few Playgrounds

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.

I didn't intend to bring Henry along, but he asked about the swap meet when he saw it on our white board calendar, and of course he wanted to come along. "It'll just be four hours of sitting at a card table," I would tell him, but he was not to be discouraged. I figured he would end up spending most of the day on his iPad. As the day got closer, he just got more excited. At bedtime last night, he was thinking about how we should arrange our table: cheapest stuff on one side, progressing in price across the table. He was more excited than me!

We loaded up the car and got to the fairgrounds an hour early to set up (this also cleverly gave me an early chance to scope out deals). The WBC was running a bit behind, so we helped them lay out tables and chairs in our building. In no time at all, we were ready to go:

Business started off slow. In the first half hour, we managed to only unload one free tire. Net proceeds: -$12. One fellow spent a good five minutes examining a frame pump I had for sale. Can it work for schraeder valves? Is it made in the US? (yes and 'of course not' (though I didn't say it that way), respectively). A lot of thought went into a four dollar pump that he ultimately decided was not for him. Maybe he found a better deal on an American made pump at another table, but I have my doubts.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

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

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 enough about the whole fat bike thing after my last ride that I wanted to invest in some better rubber for it. The stock Vee Missions might be good... somewhere... but not anywhere you need traction. Since the BEM is currently my only mountain bike, I wanted something with some more bite. I was happy to pick up these On One Floater NIB from an mtbr forum member, since On One recently changed their shipping policy--it now would have cost me $65 to get these shipped these days.

They mounted up quickly and easily, nothing special about changing fat bike tires:

(I tossed the stock inner tube liner that came with the wheels at the same time, saving a few precious grams on my ~35 pound bike). I quickly headed out to the Avery woodlot trail:

It's not overstating things to say that these tires transformed the bike. No self steer on the pavement, traction was much better through the corners (although still sketchy, it is snow after all), and when I did leave the packed part of the trail, I was able to keep churning forward.

Three cheers for the Floaters!

Today (Sunday), though the weather was predicted to be nice in the afternoon, the only time I had for riding was early in the morning. Full winter gear back on, I headed out on ye Olde Trek 650B in the sub freezing weather. I headed through the Metro Park, stopping to admire the frozen pond created by this beaver dam:

There were warning signs about ice on the trail--yesterday's snow melt now frozen across the bike path. I negotiated these slick spots carefully and successfully... until I didn't. A patch of ice on a (very slight) downhill corner caught me, throwing me to the pavement and slamming the back of my helmet into the ground. I feel fine, but the hit was hard enough that I tossed my old Bell helmet into the trash and picked up a new Specialized model at Bike Source this afternoon. I only looked briefly at the AWOL while there...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow Biking Again with the Gravity Bulls Eye Monster

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 fat tires did fine on this packed surface, of course, but so did my regular tires when I came back and rode it on the ERB (why not on the Razzo? It's been sold). If I diverged from the packed line, progress quickly ground to a halt in the ~7" deep powder on the sides.

Clem Again

Regular reader(s) may recall that I journeyed up to Ann Arbor to buy a Rivendell Clem Smith Jr last summer. That particular bike ride didn&#...