De Beque

Sometimes when I’m standing back in my corner of the shop, spilling black DOT fluid out of an Elixer master cylinder all over my hands, I catch a little of the front counter conversation.

“Yeah, really good down there, nobody around.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” says whoever is up front, not quite as interested as I am.

“Hey, where’d you say that was at?” I yell as the customer turns to leave. But by that point, they’re on the way out, not gonna stick around and share much more information.

“De Beque.” Just a town name, then they’re out the door. But that’s enough to start digging with.

And going out and getting lost to find some new stuff is almost always worth it.

Colleen and I tracked down about 10 miles of good singletrack- a mix between fast twisty stuff, and cool slickrock. And there’s a lot more down there.

The hard part was figuring out where to start.

After we got that straightened out, sweet riding until the sun went down.

I’ll be back down there soon. It’s really good, and there isn’t anyone around.

Sidewinder

I was riding with a guy from Telluride yesterday.

“How's the snow over there?” He asked about the valley where I came from.

Way to much. That's why I'm down here. “Oh, good man. The ski hills are open already,” I said. It's not cool to complain about snow in a place that hardly gets enough water.

But I don't want to stop riding dirt. Fortunately, it's not especially hard to drag out the season with a different climate zone 90 miles away.

I heard about Sidewinder for the first time last week. It's a fairly new piece of trail- cut in four years ago through the Gunnison Gorge.

And it's excelent- just the right mix of rocky and fast. I could haul balls through some sections, and barely cleaned others. It's a 36 mile out and back, and the whole thing would be a big day. I had time to hit 28 miles before the sun went down.

Solid day out there.

Up in the Desert

I’d been looking at this spot on the map for a while- it’s kinda far back, so an overnight seemed like it’d be the best way to get there.

Matt (also a recent Carbondale transplant, from Leadville by way of Cincinnati) and I loaded our bikes and started the climb up the moonscape.

A few hours later we made it to the Atheists and Freethinkers’ adopted hiway- right across from a section adopted by the bible church. I have a feeling the people in the earthship with the giant radio tower (which I assume was an NPR repeater) up the road had their hands in this.

Otherwise, that was a bad section of paved, windy, flat road. Too much like the divide.

But life was good again before long.
 
We set up camp as the sun was going down, and picked up some sticks to burn. Dead juniper burns forever- the little fire lasted way longer than our tiny bottle of whiskey.
 
And then it got cold. At least I was able to sleep for at least two hours at a time before I woke up shivering.
 
 
The next morning we were almost out of water, so we found an oasis. Counting on finding water somewhere in the desert is a little risky- but at the right time of year, if you can cover enough ground, it seems like there’s a good chance of running into a puddle somewhere.
 

Just gotta have a way to zap the bugs out of it. Giardia isn’t fun.

 
We dropped down towards the canyon I wanted to check out. There are so many of these in the area- I need to go back with some more time.
 
 
Haven’t been there until you’ve peed there.
 
And then it was back down the moon, and back to the mountains.
 

 

Some notes:

-70 to 20 degrees

-four liters of water per day

-half a bag of nuts and granola, one oatmeal packet, two poptart packs, a bag of salami, one ramen per day

 

Gettin it While it’s Good

And man, it’s been really good:

Everything was riding well in October, up high and down in the desert.

Colleen and I did a quick overnighter on Kokopelli’s Trail last weekend, and rode some of the singletrack around the trail for the first time.

Which got me thinking, there’s a better way to do that route.

Skip the 4×4 roads and hit all the trails. There are a maze of them down there, from buff to chunky. And they’re all way cooler than the official route.

Kokopelli:

Not Kokopelli:

I know the Kokopeli is a classic, but maybe now that the age of the bob trailer is waning, it’s time to update that sucker.

Looks to me like there are more fun ways to ride to Moab.

Yard Sale

End of the season, time to clear some stuff out. If you're interested in something, leave a comment or grab my email from the about page. Spanks.

Surly Pugsley, size large. With Revelate Framebag- $1700

Specs:

  • Rear wheel: Shimano Alfine 8 Internally geared hub, Marge Lite rims, Sapim Race spokes. Hand built
  • Front wheel: Surly Ultra New hub, Marge Lite, Sapim Race spokes. Also hand built.
  • Tires: 120tpi 4.8″ Bud front, 120tpi 3.8″ Nate rear. Both setup tubeless
  • Brakes: Avid BB7s with Paul Love Levers. New pads
  • Crankset: Surly Mr. Whirlly with 38t E.13 Guide Ring. New bb will be installed before sale
  • Fork: Salsa Enabler
  • Saddle: WTB Volt, Ti rails
  • Stem: Thompson X4
  • Bars: Raceface Atlas
  • Grips: ESI Chunkys, brand new! And orange.
  • Rotors: Formula

Dynamo Wheel- $200

 
 
 
  • Shutter Precision PD8 hub, Velocity Blunt 35 29er rim, Sapim race spokes. Hand built
  • Includes 180mm Formula R1 Rotor
  • Pretty great condition- bearings are good, conections are clean, and wheel is true and tensioned
  • Will work with tires from 45c to 29+
  • Taped up and ready to set up tubeless
Shimano Saint Pedals- $60
  • Never ridden on singletrack (just 1500 miles of dirt road), bearings are perfect

Kona Honzo Frame, size medium- $200

  • Sliders for SS or geared setup. 44 headtube fits all current forks.
  • Ugly rattle can paint, but no dents at all (this frame is pretty indestructable). If looks matter, a proffesional powdercoat is $70, then you'll and have a brand spanking new looking frame.

Thompson 31.6 Elite Post- $50

 

5.10 Cyclone, size 11- $50

  • Super low miles, great for commuter bike riding or shredding the gnar

Rock Shox Reba RLT Ti, 120mm travel, dremeled to fit a 29+ tire- $150

  • Tapered Steerer, 20mm thru-axle
  • Enduro seals, super smooth. Fresh oil and seal change before I took it off my bike

 

 

 

 

Outerbike

Last weekend, the shop went down to Outerbike in Moab for some bike testing. Three solid days of riding a ton of bikes back to back on the same trails was really informative. End result- All bikes are fun, but I still like my bike best.

But here are some thoughts on all the other stuff.

Suspension on fatbikes

Don’t like it, don’t like it at all. And I was expecting to love it.

I rode Salsa’s Bucksaw full suspension fat bike thing, and it felt about as nimble as a pregnant walrus.

Slowest and most exhausting lap of the entire weekend. No surprise, but I did at least expect it to be fun in a silly way. It wasn’t. The thing is a total pig- planted to the ground and encourages the rider to squish around in the saddle shifted into the lowest gear. When I tried to stand up and throw the bike around, it just wouldn’t move.

Everything was hard- climbing up on boulders, dropping off ledges, cornering, climbing, accelerating. It didn’t matter what I did, the bike just soaked up every input, both from me and the trail.

The bikes with the new Bluto suspension fork (like the Rocky Mountain Blizzard, and Borealis Echo) were a little better, but still not as fun as a rigid fatbike. The Blizzard’s handling was pretty rough because of the Vee Rubber tires (massive self-steer at every speed, I was fighting the handlebars constantly), but the Echo rode nice with Surly tires.

And the Bluto, apart from being really wide, isn’t too specical compared to other current forks like the Pike. It rides a lot like Reba from 2009.

I like riding fatbikes in the summer becasue they’re simple, bouncy and dumb. With suspension, they turn into slow, heavy, hardtails with medicore handling. And for winter riding, suspension oil gets so thick that forks hardly work anyway.

So unless you’re doing something like riding around on a volcanic scree field in Iceland, I don’t get the point. But that’s just me.

Rock Shox Pike

Best fork ever. I don’t know why anybody bothers with anything else.

Not Moab, but this post needed more pictures

27.5 wheels

I rode these things into with an open mind. And didn’t like them, but also didn’t hate them. With all the excelent handling 29ers out there, I guess this is just another one where I don’t see the point. I was on a range of travels from 100mm to 155mm.

The only time I could tell I was on smaller wheels was when they started to get hung up in rocky sections. Cornering and accelerating, wheel size made way less difference than suspension design.

Actually, in terms of how a bike rode, here’s what mattered in order- geometry, suspension design, tire tread pattern, bottom bracket height, brakes, bike booty stiffness, paint job, wheel size, weight.

Wheel size almost last, because all other things being equal on a suspension bike, 27.5 vs 29 doesn’t make that much difference. Except in rocks. Where small wheels go slower and get hung up on stuff. But a really flashy coat of paint can definitely mitigate that disadvantage.

Low bottom brackets

Low bottom briskets where everywhere, on every wheel size and travel length. One of the worst trends ever. I don’t care if they feel better on a machine built flow-bro trail. For mountain bikey mountain biking, with stuff to ride over, constantly smashing pedals sucks. And having to coast through rock gardens is slow.

Niner’s ROS9 and ROS9 Plus

Both really swell bikes. I was on a Honzo for a year and the ROS9 feels just like that. I really dig short chainstay 29er hardtails for short hard rides, but over 50 miles bikes like that beat me up. A short back end is great when you’re on top of things, and really harsh when you aren’t.

The ROS9 Plus didn’t feel different than my Krampus, and since that’s the best bike China has ever welded, great. Both are 4130 tubing and have the same geometry. The ROS Plus comes with a thru-axle tapered rigid fork for extra rigidness. I liked that.

I saw some new 29+ tires in the Niner van, and even gave them a squeeze.

They look really good, but since the Niner guys were acting like taking pictures of those tires was worse than selling nuclear launch codes to the KGB, I guess I won’t say anything else. They should be out soon, and they’re Italian.

Why does it matter if someone in the market for chubby tires knows that another option is on the way? I don’t know. The bike industry is weird. They must think they’re developing iPhones, or some other shit that actually matters.

After the demo, Colleen and I hung out for a few more days in town. I rode Ahab again. It’s still one of the best trails ever made.

Then I rode up the Moab Rim Trail, misjudged a ledge move, and nailed my crotch so hard with the stem that my satan sword started to bleed.

Nothing like a good blunt chunk of metal in the balls to keep a man humble.

Making Hay

The aspens are turning gold, and it’s the last push through September. One more bike tour to guide, a few more days in the shop, then I should have some days to myself.

Not that I’m complaining.

Taking people bike riding isn’t a bad way to make a couple bucks. Funny contrast to the Columbians I had last week (these guys were from Philly). Everytime we hit pavement, the Philly guys fell into a paceline, rode techy stuff without drama, and went to bed early. I couldn’t keep the Columbians from swarming into oncoming traffic, yelling in resturants, and wandering off into the middle of the woods. Cultural differences. Both fun groups though.

I can see my house from here. To the left of the middle shrub, second ridgeline:

And another funny thing about people from Philadelphia- actually mostly just about this particular girl from Philadelphia. Last week when we were at Whatever USA (or Crested Butte, if you want to be stodgy), Lagunitas threw a counter party in a somebody’s back yard. It had a nice view of the swinging pirate ship.

A little blond girl in a pink tank top walked up to us, asked where we were from, Carbondale, asked where we were really from (becasue hardly anybody is actually from the mountains), Pittsburgh.

“Oh, I’m from Philadelphia. We hate people from Pittsburgh. We really hate you. I’ve always wondered, do people in Pittsburgh feel the same way?” she said.

Pleasant way to open a conversation.

“Yes, I fucking hate you too.”

“Wow, that’s so funny! We really don’t like you,”

I glared at her. A guy with a blue rubber arm hanging from his neck walked up. The little blond girl went over and fondled it. Graceful way to exit. At least she’s dropping it.

Then she was back. “Yeah, so we really really hate you,” she said. Jesus.

 

Colleen found a decent spot by the river to do the ceremony thing next year. I’m looking forward to that.

I’m also looking forward to getting some big rides in, becasuse two months after the Divide, I’m finally starting to feel human again- I can even perform the previously impossible task of squeezing a set of nail clippers with my left hand. Victory.