Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pic from today's ride...

I think I'm going to take a couple of days off from riding. I'm feeling a bit over-trained. Ey-nee-ways... here's today's ride pic!


Mikesee from MTBR added this trail video: The epidomy of Passion. Check out the traildog going for it, too! It also looks as though Mike has a nice 29er wheel lacing business.

Delightful. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a pic from today's ride...

A little windy - my lungs didn't take to it so nicely. But, it was a fine ride all the same.

The 29'er, honestly...

I've been riding a 29'er for the past year and honesty, I was attracted by the common sense behind it more than the claimed "science" people are posting about on internet forums. Not only that, I'm willing to try any quirky (I guess you can say "trendy") style of bike that becomes popular.

I never was hardcore into MTB until this year, anyway. I mean, I rode maybe a few times with my brother and maybe once or twice a year around here, but it wasn't until I discovered my local playground, Santa Teresa County Park, that I became dedicated to the knobbies. In addition, just like I became disenchanted with dealing with asphalt, cars and traffic with motorcycles, the trend went that way with bicycles for me. My "re-introduction" into mountain biking was via the Motobecane Outcast 29'er.

The Outcast is cheap, cheap, cheap... but, like Adam Carolla says, "There's no better time in history to be poor." You can get this bike for $349.99, shipped, no tax; and boom, you legitimately have yourself a 29'er. Now, it's not a looker, nor are you going to be scoring any numbers from members of the opposite sex, but the all-alluminum rigid single-speed can be pointed in any direction and you just go. I rode this bike all over Santa Teresa County Park and up and down UCSC/Wilder in Santa Cruz. It just went where I wanted it to go.

I did improve that bike with some upgraded parts, but it essentially stayed in it's stock form. I also flipped the rear wheel over and rode it fixed for a short time just to see how fixed gear mountain biking was.

There was a crossroads in my 29'er experience and here's where the change happened. I ordered a White Brother's Magic 80 fork from Wiggle a couple of months ago with the intent of throwing that on my Outcast. Wiggle advertised the fork as being equipped with both v-brake and disc brake mounts (the Outcast only has v-brakes and no mounts for discs). However, when it arrived from the UK, the fork only had disc brake mounts. It sat in my office for a week or so while I was torn between sending it back and getting a refund, or building a new, steel, 29'er around it. Of course, I went the way of the latter.

Introducing my single-speed On-One Inbred: a beautiful steel frame with a definite improvement in stance and geometry over my Outcast. The Outcast has since been fitted with platform pedals and will affectionately be known as "the camping bike". The Inbred, weighing in at 26.8 lbs is my preferred bike out of ALL my bikes.

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let's get into the nitty-gritty. I'm not going to get into the claimed "science" behind 29'ers, because that's argued enough on the Internet, as I said previously. What I will get into is the feel of riding a 29'er, as that is subjective and purely my experience. Things may be different for you.

The first thing I've noticed with the 29'er is its "rollability" (is that even a word?). Not only does it seem to crawl over obstacles a little easier, it just seems to have some inertia behind it. Some "experts" say that's the bigger wheel lending toward a flywheel effect and the contact area helps getting over obstacles, but again, I'm just telling you how it feels. For example, on my local trail I will crank on my 26" and coast, but the time between having to crank again on my 29'er seems longer. Of course, that can be attributed to my tires and terrain, but this is a consistent feeling.

The 29'er also feels more stable and not as twitchy on the faster stuff. Yes, geometry has a lot to do with this, but again the "experts" say that the extra 3" of wheel helps in this category, as well.

The greatest improvement I made on this bike was that I went tubeless. I'm able to run MUCH lower tire pressures (at my weight, 32 psi seems proper) and the feeling of crawling over things like a monster truck is great. The tires grab and hold on to the technical stuff. Remember that White Brothers fork? It's equipped with an internal mechanism they call "IMV" which keeps the fork from bobbing on climbs. And it actually works! I get 80mm of travel without having to mess with a lock-out mechanism like I do on my 26" bike.

The down side to my On-One Inbred is that I don't take it when I ride with my brother, who is way more fit than I am, and at this time I need gears for the climbs we have to tackle. On the descends, however, I'm really jones'in for my big wheel. This made me consider throwing on a 1X9 set-up, but I've committed to building my fitness on the SS so maybe next year, I can ride that bike more frequently with my bro.

I'm not going to boast incredible science or gains from my experience with the the 29'er, after all, it's the rider, not the bike, right? People are always trying to find the magic pill in sports, but I always believe that sweat and a big heart is the only antidote. What I will say is that I'm impressed with the small advantages I feel with the big wheel, and for guys like me, I need all the help I can get.

It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we just had a good rain... I'm going riding.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Ride in Nisene Marks State Park

Today the bro and I rode Nisene Marks. He was aboard his SS Titanium DeSalvo, and me, of course, used all the gears I needed for the climb up. It was a pleasant morning and, although pretty damn cold at the bottom, got warmer as we climbed the 2500' of elevation.

I knew that going up would be a spin-chore for me and a mash-up for my bro, so when he met up with a fellow CX racer, they hauled up and I sat and spun until I met with him at the top. Another CX rider got into it and boldly said, "Meet you guys at the top!" and my bro quickly destroyed that noise.

The sign that says "Top of Incline" is pretty much a lie... you really don't get to the overlook until much further beyond that. You know, my "cheapo" Motobecane Fantom Pro Ti bike is really holding it's own to my abuse. It climbs and descends beautifully, and going tubeless made it even better. I did make it into a mystery bike by removing the stickers. Time to go with some custom UGLY! Pads decals!

When we got to the top, there was a handful of all-mountain riders. We did see two of my brother's team-mates on the fire road, and "Rib-Eye" Rob was on his Giant CX bike at the benches. It seems the all-mountain crowd really owns the place with their long travel suspension, and descending Buddha and Westridge trails, I really discovered why. Tubeless - PLEASE DON'T FAIL ME NOW! I'm thinking a full-suspension, all-mountain frame may be in my future. The little inside joke between my bro and I when we see big suspension bikes is we both yell out "EXTREEEEME!".

Photos never do these type of views justice, and this is a prime example. This was absolutely breath-taking, and was seen from an incredible single-track. Now... I have to be honest. I was sketched out a little on the fast descend. I'm unfamiliar... and when I'm unfamiliar I white-knuckle it; something I have to get over. At about mid-way going down, I set my groove and I picked up a good rhythm. Seeing the jumps, berms and wallrides going down... no wonder why that place is so popular among the EXTREEEM! crowd.

We popped out at the Buddha Temple and rode the pavement back to where we parked. All in all, this ride was a great way to spend a Thanksgiving morning. One SC Heckler rider said, "It'd sure be nice if you could time Thanksgiving Dinner right after the ride!"

That, my friend, is an understatement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great Videos Depicting "Cyclists"

My Stable

I really do ride everything. Everything? Well, almost. I do have to say, though, that if it isn't listed in my current stable I've probably owned it before. The only style of bike I haven't owned is a trials bike, neither bicycle nor moto.

The type of bike that I probably will never own again falls under the moto category: a sportbike. I used to be really into sportbikes, up until the point where I was a dedicated track rider. I finally came to my senses and realized that a 170HP, 350lb. motorcycle is just overkill and can have you staring at mylar balloons in a split second.

Anyhow, here they are. First the Motos:
  • 2008 Suzuki DRZ-400SM
  • 2007 Honda CRF250X
  • 2001 Suzuki Intruder Custom Bobber

And now, the bicycles:

  • Motobecane Fantom Pro Ti 26" MTB
  • On-One Inbred 29'er single speed MTB
  • Surly Pacer Road Bike
  • Motobecane Messenger Fixed Gear
  • Fly Tierra 20" BMX
  • Eastern Traildigger 26"
  • Vintage Rockhopper Fixed Gear
  • Felt El Guapo Beach Cruiser
  • Un-Bike
You're probably wondering "What the hell is an un-bike?". It's basically a one-wheeled trick bike made from a 20" fork, wheel, stem, handlebar and pegs. Check it.