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.

 

Running the Columbians

We just got the first snow on the top of Mount Sopris, the little lump to the west of town. Supposedly that means the monsoons are over.

It also means I need to figure out if I'm going to migrate or freeze.

 

 

Last week I took a group of Columbians on a week-long tour.

It's the first time in my life that anyone's complained I'm too punctual. South Americans run on a different clock.

One day when I had everyone loaded up in the van to go to the trailhead (an hour late), the last Colombian said “all right, yes yes I'm ready.” Then he walked in the bathroom and turned on the shower. Which made us an hour and 15 minutes late.

And then we were in Crested Butte, on the night that Anheuser-Busch proved that money can buy anything, including the pride of the “last great Colorado ski town.”

They do serve beer in hell, but it has less flavor than an armpit (not that I make a habit of sampling armpits) and it won't get you drunk.

Next day we was dahn tahn, an none a yinz was there.

Great group though, and now I have some leads on some routes in the other America.

But there's still so much riding to do here, and it's going to be shut down by snow so soon. Need more days.

Don't need more cats.

 

Cruising along

I left the cabin yesterday with some big idea of doing a big loop to Crested Butte, over Pearl Pass to Aspen, and back home.

It didn't work out. Two hours in, my legs were totally fried. It's been almost a month, but I guess I'm not still not recovered yet

But I did find some roadside panties:

Old Melancholy Mahokey would be proud. These panties were two firsts for me- first Colorado roadside panties, and first roadside panties smaller than size XXXL.

A few miles later, it started to sprinkle. Since I've been back from the divide, I've been caught in the rain on trails twice (the first time was after I asked Colleen to get hitched- how romantic).

A little bit of rain is a scary thing out here. The trails immediatly turn into clay that would great if you were making some pottery, wheels lock up, the bike becomes a muddy anchor while gloop builds up into huge balls around feet. Every step forward is a huge struggle, and then you slide half a step backwards.

I wasn't willing to put myself through that again, so I beat it out of there as soon as those first drops hit my helmet. I think I'm going to stick closer to town until monsoon season ends in a couple weeks.

But it was still a good ride. That's the swell thing about this place- it's alway pretty, even when it's threatening to trap you in the mud.

 

Tour Divide Gear Stuff

For a typical Tour Divide year, I might have been packed a little heavy. But for the weather this year, I was pretty dead on. I used everything I had, and never wanted anything extra (except for a stove and some coffee in the morning, but there was no time for that, becasue bike race).

All my stuff was carried in an Oveja Negra bag setup- really great, well thought out stuff.

My sleep stuff, all packed in a drybag on the handlebars, was a Tarptent Double Rainbow, Thermarest Prolite pad, and Big Agnes Horsetheif SL.

A full tent was great- especially the first week, when I set up in the rain almost every night. Since I practiced before I left home, I was able to get the tent up, pad inflated, and bag unrolled in about five minutes. That beat the hell out of hunting around for the perfect place to string up a tarp, or suffocating all night in a bivy.

The Big Agnes bag is rated for 35 degrees, and unlike most overly-optimistically rated bags, it's actually warm at that tempurature. I was able to sleep naked every night and dry out my ass, which helped helped heal my saddle sores.

By the time I was in Wyoming, the rain let up, so I was just using the tent as a ground cloth and sleeping out in the sage brush.

My rain gear was Outdoor Reaserch's ultralight Helium jacket and pants. The stuff was really swell until it broke- which I really don't blame OR for. Ultralight stuff isn't intended for riding 800 miles in the mud.

I wore a giant hole in the seat of the pants by the forth day, and zipper broke on the rain jacket right before I descended a long pass into Basin, Montana at night in the rain. Because all my layers got soaked on the descent, that was one of the three nights I spent inside durring the race.

My other clothes were a wool top, wool tights, a Club Ride button-down, a pair of light polyester baggy shorts, a Mountain Hardwear synthetic bubble goose, two pairs of thick wool socks, and two pairs of wool boxers.

I don't wear chamois anymore, because I think that having a dirty sponge on my ass all day is nasty. Since I was able to sink wash a pair of underpants everyday, I didn't have nearly the saddle sore problems that some racers did (some people had some seriously gross stuff going on down there).

I carried a bunch of spare bolts, brake pads, and all that stuff all the way to Fleecer Ridge. After blasting down the ridge like I had somebody to impress, even though there was nobody around for miles (it's one of the only hard descents on the entire route) I was rewarded for showing off by tearing a big hole in my back tire on some sharp shale at the bottom.

The Stan's wouldn't seal the hole, so I plugged it with a Genuine Inovations tubeless tire plug. That little plug held for the next 2,000 miles. I wish I would have know about those things earlier- they would have saved me so many races over the years.

I was so excited about the plug that I hopped back on my bike, and rode away from my bag of tools.

Which later led me to the discovery that A&D ointment works as a chain lube.

My Krampus was solid- I had to replace a bottom bracket in Steamboat, but other than that I didn't have any mechanicals. I didn't even go through a set of brake pads on my Shimano XTRs- which might have something to do with braking technique, becasue a lot of people around me on the exact same brakes were blowing through pads like crazy.

The 29+ Knard tires were heavy, and they definitely slowed me down sometimes. I was using the 27tpi wire bead version, becasue the 120tpi tires I bought before the race were messed up- they grew some big tumors in the sidewall when I installed them.

When I rode with Alice, she coasted away from me everywhere. Gradual pavement descents, flats, washboard roads. It didn't matter. Her Moots on Schwalbe Racing Ralphs just rolled faster.

The Krampus was super comfortable, and I never regretted riding it (it's my all time favorite bike), but the current tires just aren't race quality. The casing is too thick and slow rolling for divide racing (touring, I wouldn't think of using anything other than the Knard though).

I really wish Surly would make the Knard with a folding bead and a 60tpi casing. That way it would roll well, and wouldn't be super fragile like their current light-weight tire.

Other parts were Jones Loop Bars- I love the sweep, and the loop is a great place to mount a light and dry bag, gearing was 36×22 (works out to about 32x19ish on a bike with shorter 29er tires), and my saddle was a Chromag Trailmaster. Thompson stem and post, Shimano SLX cranks, Industry Nine single speed hub- all stuff that works.

I'll go onto more detail on this stuff in a later post, but I ran an Exposure Revo light, and charged my iPhone with a Shutter Precision hub and Sinewave USB charger. I couldn't believe how well these electronics worked.

Even after being constantly submerged, the hub kept on chugging. The Sinewave USB charger was flawless- it put out constant power, even in the rain, as long as my speed was more than six miles per hour. There were a lot of other models of dynamo chargers out there, and a lot of riders having problems with them.

I used the Gaia GPS app on my phone, and it made following the route pretty stress free. I never had a problem with GPS reception, and never had to buy batteries. I also used the phone to play music and take pictures- really slick to be able to do everything with one device.

As a back up, I carried cue sheets and had a cycling computer.

There were times I wished I had some aero bars, but there were more times I wished that I didn't need aero bars. So overall, I was happy with my setup. It ran real good.

 

Tour Divide

I haven't been able to sleep- every night I wake up, thinking that I still have more miles to ride to the border.

“No, Colleen already picked you up, it's over,” I tell myself. Then the sun comes up and my legs are rubbery.

Tour Divide was monstrously hard. I thought that I understood how difficult it was going to be- but based on my past experience, that just wasn't possible.

I always thought “Yeah it's a long ride, but there's hardly any singletrack. It's all dirt road. So it's probably not that bad.” I was so far off.

We had the worst Grand Depart conditions so far. It was 45 degrees and dumping rain in Banff, and it stayed that way almost until I made it to Wyoming.

The first two days I rode like I was in a cross country race. Dan (who eventually won single speed) and I were cruising. Gotta pass people, gotta make time. My knees are a little cold, but I don't have time to stop and put on my tights. We're bike racing.

By the third day, my knees were destroyed. I couldn't pedal my bike uphill.

The next day, it was excruciating to spin on flat pavement. The pain swirled around both patellas, like someone was trying pry my kneecaps off with a hot screwdriver. I was going to have to drop out and go home.

I started walking up the pass outside of Swan River and almost cried. Becasue I'd always just assumed that I would finish the Divide, and now I was breaking. My right achilles creaked. And the rain kept falling.

I walked and soft-pedaled another 70 miles to the Hungry Bear barbeque at the base of Richmond Pass. I ordered a burger and coffee at the bar.

“It looks like we're going to have early spring-like condidtions for the rest of the week, with temperatures 25 degrees below normal, and snow in higher elevations,” said the TV weather girl.

Oh god. Everyday I told myself the weather would break tomorrow. And now there it was- the five day forecast. Little cartoon rain clouds that were certain that everything would stay horrible. I had to escape Montana. Better get moving.

I start walking up Richmond Pass. A few hours later, check the GPS, looks like I'm almost at the top. People kept talking about this thing with such forboding. It hasn't been so bad.

I start pushing through the snow. The sun sets. I click on my headlamp. The rain turns to a wintery mix. I stomp along the steep off-camber slope, my heavy bike sliding in the snow, occasionally knocking me over. Still not too bad. I should be over this thing pretty soon.

Then I make a turn at the top, and the trail disappears. Gone. Absolutely no sign that a trail ever existed.

The purple line is still on my GPS, a friendly little path. I look up, the weak beam of my headlight overpowered by the heavy rain. Nothing in front of me but a dark, wet, steep scree field.

I pull out the damp ACA cue sheet. “Occasional downed trees and rocks in trail durring next 3.8 miles; use extreme caution in slide zone at point where road has failed.”

At point where road has failed. The understatement of the trip.

I start shuffling along the slope, 60 pounds of bike and gear trying to push me down into whatever is a few hundred feet below. I throw my bike over a wet log, it clatters and bounces, I try to stop it from sliding down into the void, it pulls me. I dig the handlebar into the mountain side. I trip, fall into the damp rocks.

Check the GPS, still on the line, sorta. My bike falls on me again, knocks me down. I start to panic. Don't panic. I'm wet and freezing, but my knees are on fire.

Keep moving forward. The bike knocks me over again, I slide into a pile of snow. Don't panic. The rain snow falls harder.

Suddenly saving $20 by renting a spot tracker without an SOS button seems like an unwise decision.

“Just fucking let me off this fucking mountain!” I yell into the void. The rain drowns the echo.

Don't panic. Forward. The only way to end the nightmare is to keep moving. My bike slips on a wet stick and knocks me over again. Stand up, walk. Follow the line, keep moving.

Almost an hour later, I stumble off the scree slope. Back on a trail. Thank god. I push downhill through the snow, the snow piles start to shrink.

Then I'm on a gravel road, hood covering half my head, jacket zipped, doing 40 miles an hour down the pass in the rain, shivering and thinking of anything warm, coffee, Colleen, our cat. Think warm, be warm. The wind screaches through the vents in my helmet.

Miles of dark descending, then the road flattens. I roll off to the side of the road, set up my tent, pull off my soaked clothes, and crawl into my clammy sleeping bag.

Three hours later the sun rises. I pull on wet socks, muddy rain gear, eat a crushed Mrs. Freshly's cherry danish, and try to find the sweet spot to sit down in between saddle sores.

Every day of riding Tour Divide was crushing- and at the end of the day all I had to look forward to was a damp sleeping bag and some neosporin on my ass. And I really, really looked forward to that.

After Richmond Pass, I bought Crank Brothers flat pedals in Seely Lake. Then I rode 130 miles to Helena, where I bought a pair of hiking shoes. I sent my clipless shoes and pedals home, and my knees slowly started to get better.

By the fifth day of riding in the mud, I'd worn a giant hole in the seat of my rain pants. The zippers on my framebag were clogged and starting to seperate.

When I hit the top of the pass before Basin, Montana, it was still raining, and the sun had just set. I yanked on the zipper of my rain jacket. It split apart. The only thing that was keeping me warm and dry. Nothing to do but keep moving forward. I stuffed a garbage bag into the neck of my puffy coat and started the 15 mile descent.

In Steamboat, the Crank Brothers pedals where already falling apart, so I replaced them with some Shimano Saints.

By the time we were in Wyoming, Klaus, Alice, Max and I were riding together a lot. We'd try to drop each other occasionally (mostly Max or I would try to get away), but it never stuck.

But eventually the gang split up- I left Klaus in a Mexican restaurant in Del Norte with an all you can eat buffet and the World Cup on TV. Max rode into a mud hole outside of Pie Town, took four pedal strokes, and ripped his derailluer off. And Alice, who was way faster than all of us the entire race, got a hotel room in Silver City, while I rode on into the night.

After Dan rode away outside of Lima, Montana, I spent the next 2,000 miles trying close the gap with him. Never happened, but it was great to have someone to chase. He stayed a half day ahead the whole time.

I heard a few people say “Once you get out of Montana, you've made it.” Totall bullshit. It never gets any easier. In New Mexico, where I expected to be warm and dry, Alice and I got caught in a monsoon. It was the second to last day, and the hardest ride of the trip.

When there weren't passes to climb, headwinds pinned me down to five miles per hour. Sometimes for eight hours straight. I don't usually have to wear sunscreen, but even with SPF 50 on, skin was frying and peeling off my arms. I put a piece of tape over my bike computer, becasue looking at the odometer was too depressing. My mouth turned raw from all the processed sugary crap I had to eat.

And the last 10 miles into town, thinking about hot food, were always the worst 10 miles of the day.

The Divide isn't something you can do as a personal challenge. You have to truely love being on your bike to finish. The race seems to spit out people who don't pretty quick.

It was the most painful, best thing I've thing I've ever done. The route is harsh, and the mountains don't care. It's really beautiful.

I can't wait to recover enough to get back out there. Maybe next week.

I don't think I would race the Divide again. There are too many other places I'd like to check out, and too much cool singletrack to ride.

But at the same time, with what I learned out there, I think I could cut a lot of time if gave it another shot.