Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tour De Santa Teresa County Park

This past week I was asked to host a "tour" ride through Santa Teresa County Park and I committed to yesterday. We had 14 riders show up of all different skill levels from "first time riding in ____ years..." to "I race...".

It was one helluva time with awesome people and happy faces. Brett (Leopold Porkstacker from MTBR) and Larry (BigLarry, also from MTBR) helped me out with lead and sweep. Brett took the faster, stronger riders out with more challenging routes (such as Joice Trail Climb) and Larry kept the newer riders from getting dropped off the back. I cruised the middle to be sure the group stayed somewhat together.

Nobody crashed (a few tip overs on Stile Ranch Trail) and nobody got left behind. Highlight of the day was when one very pissed off rattlesnake stopped ten MTB'ers in their tracks. One rider (not with our group) used his bike to push it off, while it hissed, rattled and struck at his bike.

Here are the pics, courtesy of BigLarry.

Start of the ride at Harry Rd. and Camden Ave.

Up we go!

Dan51 getting to the top...

Regroup!

Shiloh (The Law from MTBR) showed up...

Andrew (Cool_Man from MTBR) was BRAND NEW to mountain biking and this was his first trail ride aboard a super sweet Niner bike. Good job, man!

Hitting Norred Trail

The faster group missed the turn, so I had to go back and get them. Unfortunately, I had to climb that steep ass grade to backtrack. Here's Brett jamming to the top.

How do you stop 10 mountain bikers on a descend dead in their tracks? Throw an extremely pissed off rattlesnake in the middle of the trail... that's how!

One rider (not with our group) finally pushed it along with his front wheel. The rattlesnake did not give up without a fight: it rattled, hissed and struck at his front wheel about 5-6 times before going off in defeat.

Dude, Snake... take a chill pill. We're just trying to ride our bikes...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surly Pacer is a Road Bike Again and a New Leader is Elected

A few things have occurred since I last posted: the first change is regarding my Surly Pacer. After some deliberation, I decided to throw on a real 50/34 Shimano compact crankset. Since I'm on a tight budget, I went with a Sora which slid right on to the existing bottom bracket. Still with the mountain bike handlebar set-up, I did my normal road loop and found the new crankset to be wonderful with a small exception: I needed a better selection of gears.

Since I already had Shimano 9 speed bar-end shifters and a few pairs of Easton EA70 road handlebars in the parts bin, I figured it would probably be best to toss on the road drops, a 9 speed cassette (which I had on my Gary Fisher SuperCaliber) and the bar-end shifters and make it into a regular drop bar road bike once more. After finally getting my new silver and white cable housing and new space-age bar tape from FUBAR, I put it all together and this is what I came up with:



After the gearing changes I took it out for my road loop once again and absolutely loved it. The mountain bike handlebar was great, but I could feel the difference in the more aero position of the road handlebar. Plus, there is nothing like getting into the drops on a descend. The bar end shifters are a little cumbersome, but it makes gear selection a very conscience decision: in other words, I'm not fumbling between gears trying to find something that's "right".

The 11-34 9 speed was also a good decision as there is a 30t cog in there that my 8 speed cassette didn't have, making my climbs a little less grumpy. I haven't had to use the 34t cog yet, but I'm sure there will be a steep hill that it will require.

As far as styling goes, this bike has no color on it except some small graphics on the handlebar and wheels.



Next up, is my new Leader 510 H MTB Frame.

I stumbled upon this when I went "cheap frame shopping". The Gary Fisher SuperCaliber is just too big: I barely clear the top tube when standing over it. Plus, the way I put it together just felt weird in handling. I decided to take the parts I had on it (with the 9 speed cassette going to my Pacer), pull whatever I had in my garage and put together a nice 1X8 cross-country 26" bike.


The 6061 aluminum frame cost $70 off blueskycycling.com. I pretty much had everything here to make it what it is with the exception of new tires, a 27.2 seat post, SRAM 8 speed shifter (1:1 SRAM is NOT compatible with Shimano!), and a zero-stack headset (standard 1 1/8 headsets do not work with this frame) - in the end I had to add about $150 of parts to build it. I felt a little stinky about having to purchase a new headset, but oh well.

I took it out for a loop yesterday and had a blast - it rode exactly how I expected it to ride - firm, compliant and quick. The 1X8 suits the types of rides I want to do with it, but the Stile Ranch Trail climb was a bit of a haul between the gearing and rigid set-up. I look forward to taking it up Rocky Ridge, but I know this bike, without suspension, has its limitations.

Stay tuned, interwebberz, for the 3 month review of this build. I'm sure there are other hard tail lovers out there curious about this incredible internet deal. $70 for a frame is hard to turn down, and inspecting the weld and build quality, I just don't know how Leader can possibly make money off these units unless they are just desperately trying to unload them.