Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dusty Trails, Fatbike Camping Adventure!

Whoa, been over a year since anything's gotten posted here. Oddly enough, I've done quite a bit of mountain biking this last year.

In the interest of kicking off the dust, here's an excellent Fatbike and Bikerafting adventure write up.

Barely Legal Bikerafting

Not only does fatbiking look like a total hoot, fatbike camping sounds like even more fun!

There is a rather good chance that my next bike will be a fatbike.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Welcoming the Norco Shinobi

Got in my first extended ride on the new Norco Shinobi in Nisene Marks State Park. 

Overall I had a fantastic ride and was both faster and more comfortable across the entire ride. Whatever speed I lost on the climbs (not as much as I thought) was more than made up for on the descents. 

I have no major complaints about the bike. It climbs well, really well considering the big wheels and active rear suspension. It does take a bit more muscle to power up and over obstacles at slower speeds. But things that would stop me on 26 inch wheels were no longer stopping me. And that's both better for flow and just plain more fun.

The slight loss of low speed maneuverability was also more than overcome by the increased traction and rollability of the big wheels. And the suspension made bombing down from my top out (about a half mile from the '89 Loma Prieta earthquake epicenter) fun and fast.

It isn't perfect, obviously. It is a bit hefty but not badly so at all. And it'll be fairly easy to shed some of the most egregious of that extra bulk in going tubeless. Rotational mass is like some freaky extra dimensional thing, losing it returns more gains than the simple grams lost. And the brakes, while not as craptastic as the Avid Elixir 1's aren't a whole ton better. Upgrading them will be nice!

Also, the Conti X-Kings aren't really up to the kind of riding I generally do. I spun them out several times climbing roots, once while still seated. Looking at replacement treads now, Hans Dampfs, Ardents, and open to other options (going to be hard dropping $90 on some Hans Dampfs). Update: Looks like On One's Smorgasbord and Chunky Monkey have won out, excellent price and great reviews equal buy!

Bars, damn these big bikes like their wide bars! Not used to it, don't think I'm going to get used to them. Yes, they're fairly nice on long, high speed descents but they kind of suck for tight, through the trees singletrack and I'd much prefer to NOT hook a bar through trees. I believe I'll be taking an inch off each side before too long and seeing how that feels. Might end up taking two full inches off each side. And yes, I will be putting on stubby climbing horns. I need more than one position to put my hands. And I like being able to grab on and launch up hills. I've run Nashbar shorties for years and have little complaint about them but I'm going to go with the newer ergo ends that extend below the bar as well as forward (I think Cane Creek makes the most well known version of these).

Shifters: I still shift the wrong way as often as not. Trigger shifters are just so damned unintuitive to me. I don't like them very much and will look to replace them but they aren't the tops on my list of stuff to add/replace.

I think part of my issue comes from the 2x10 drivetrain. It lacks a true granny and I find myself hunting for the proper gear quite a bit more than I'm used to. I'm sure that'll improve as I get more time on it but, for now, shifting isn't as smooth as I'd like it and I have to switch front rings often to compensate for the cassette's lack of applicable range.

Some concerns to note: Moderate chain slap during root-y descents, brakes go south after a few miles of hard(ish) use, front brake chatter makes the front end feel a bit skittish when combined with the X-King treads, sometimes still feel a little cramped in the cockpit and I have no more leeway to slide my saddle back, might consider a slightly longer stem.

The upgrade list looks something like this:
Tires - new tires on order, went with On One's Smorgasbord and Chunky Monkey.
Dropper post 
Stan's Tubeless conversion
Saddle - need input here
Pedals with straps - mock all you want, I'm still gonna ride with them.
Bar ends
Gripshifts
Brakes - XTs 
Stem

Overall, I have to say that I love my new bike. It is responsive, fast, a tractor when I need it and comfortable as all get out. I'm still tweaking the fit for maximum comfort at maximum pedaling efficiency but we're getting close. My and my Shinobi are going to enjoy many fun miles together!

Grade: A- (B if none of the aforementioned upgrades come to pass)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beach Cruising Done Right!

Have a great weekend, I'm hoping to fill my weekend with trails and stand up paddleboarding. I'm sure there will be some chores in there as well but with epic weather on tap, it is my civic duty as a Californian to get out there and enjoy it as much as I can.

As much for my snow-bound brethren as for my own exercise-fed soul.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

2013 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival is Nearly Here!

It is almost that time again!

Just about time for the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival in Aptos, California this weekend, April 13th and 14th! The festival is free to attend!

This is an awesome event for the whole family to enjoy. There will be short track races, pump track races, dirt jumping (the best jumpers on the planet!), demo rides, food trucks and delicious BEER! Oh and raffles of some pretty awesome bike schwag!

My kids are stoked up for Sunday's 11:30 am Kid's Fun Lap/Race. They did it last year and it was a blast to have all those kids out there pedaling and grinning and parents enjoying it and everything. Truly a great time!

I'll be taking photos again for the club, not quite sure what my assignments will be this time around but I don't really care, there's so much bike-y awesomeness everywhere that you really cannot go wrong!

It is going to be an awesome bike focused weekend!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dusting Off for a Petition to Stop Discriminating Against Mountain Bikers!

Petitioning The U.S. Senate U.S. Forest Service: Stop Discriminating Against Mountain Bikers


 Recent proposed or actual closures in Montana, California and Colorado point to a disturbing trend in Forest Service management policies indicating a discriminatory bias towards mountain biking, but that may encompass other user groups in the future. (Link: trail-access-for-southern-california-mountain-bikers-under-threat(Montana Closure)
The most common reason  put forth by the Forest Service regarding mountain biking restrictions involves environmental degradation. But the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has referenced numerous scientific studies that assert that mountain bikes create similar environmental impacts as hikers, and less impact than equestrians. (Link: Environmental Impacts of Mountain Biking: Science Review and Best Practices

I went and signed the petition and want to do what I can to try and get the petition spread as widely as possible. Trail closures do not prevent mountain bikers from riding, they merely prevent mountain bikers from riding legally.

And I'm sick and tired of cyclists in general being discriminated against. We're tax paying people too, we deserve to engage in our chosen pastimes without fear of persecution from car bumper or trail closed sign.