Gore, Knog, Fatbikes, Local Bike Shops.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday night was the Winter Clinic at North Central Cyclery.  It was a night of bliss for the author of this particular blog.  Why?  Soooo Muuuuch Gooooodness.

Demo Beargrease (like the one I rode a couple of months ago, also at NCC).

Demo Krampus.

Krampii.

Brand-spankin-new Ti Warbird.

Delectable S’mores made from energy waffles endorsed by now besmirched cyclist formerly known as ’7 time tour winner.’

They were so energy packed, that Chad came in clean-shaven, had one bite, and instantly grew a beard.

And there was Peter.

PBR.  Like a moth to a flame, I tell ya…

There was a dinglespeed TI Muk wearing Big Fat Larry’s on 82mm rims.  I took these pics to show that there’s plenty of room for Lou’s in the rear.

And there were oodles and oodles of people.  Over 60, not including the sponsors.  For a winter-riding clinic, that’s pretty exceptional.

Lots of cool products to ogle…like the entire line of Gore clothes.

Wolvhammers

An array of Knog’s latest and greatest lights, including a couple of models with nifty features like USB recharging.

Mattias found something pretty in pink…

And then decided to find out whether Gore-Tex is really waterproof or not.

It is.

No, really.

GoreTex Works–North Central Cyclery Gore Demo 11.1.12 from Lawfarm on Vimeo.

Not kidding.

And lest you think that pink was the only questionable clothing choice of the evening…

Yeah.  There’s that, too.  The belt really completes the outfit.

BPaul tried on approximately 435 coats.  I’m pretty sure he ruled out at least 3 or 4, and he’ll probably settle on a final choice right around the time the national debt gets paid off.

In the realm of demo bikes to ride, they had the aforementioned Beargrease and Krampii, and a host of fatbikes from XL Pugs, Neck Romancers, Moonlanders and Mukluks, all the way down to a 14″ Pugsley.  You can’t help but smile.

Beth…you really need that bike.  It is sooooo you.

And if you had questions, they could be answered by none other than Salsa’s own E-Fred:

Or you could hear about how the fuzzy lining on the inside of Windstopper is made from the hair of shaved, free-range Unicorns from Brendan Gore-Cik.

Or maybe you have a light question for Knog’s Brian Mark…

So yeah, a night full of awesome.  New products to ogle, information to learn, things to see, things to try.  I can’t convey all of the information received, but here are a few Gore highlights:

The gore membrane used in Windstopper and Goretex are related fabrics.  The Windstopper is a bit more porous, but still waterproof.  Windstopper doesn’t have taped seams, so they don’t market it as waterproof…and it’s more breathable than straight Goretex.

They had a demo where you’d get your hand wet, and stick your wet hand in a goretex gloveliner.  You’d then put your wet hand, in the glove, in a bucket of water.  You would then move your hand around vigorously.

I kid you not…when you pulled your hand out, it was dry.  I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it.

Seriously.  Moving your hand generated heat, which turned the water on your hand into vapor, and the Goretex transferred that vapor away from your hand, directly into a bucket of water.  Ridiculous.

Brendan used a great metaphor for Goretex…he said it’s like a chain link fence.  On the outside, water is the size of a softball, and thus cannot get through the fence.  But on the inside, sweat vapor is smaller, like a golfball, and can pass through the fence.  Makes sense, and was a great analogy to consider.

I kind of feel like I’m rambling right now, but there was so much information to learn and absorb.  It was truly a great evening.  I ride outside a lot, and have read a ton about Gore clothes…turns out, I haven’t scratched the surface.

I cannot emphasize enough how awesome it is to have a local bike shop able to pull together events like this, and get experts and information like this.

 

 

 

 

 

About these ads

Cyclocross, Superfish Style.

Tomorrow, I’m entered in a CX race on a course that has some more technical features, off-camber areas, etc.

It’s also pretty wet in the area currently.  Not muddy…just soft.

Enter Superfish, all dudded up for CX.

What does all dudded up mean?

I pulled the taillight and Garmin mount.  Oh, and I dropped the seatpost 3/4″.

BILTO: Manbearpig

BILTO = Bikes I’d Like To Own.  That’s a new RATG acronym.  We’re big on acronyms here.

Today’s BILTO is a bike that appeals to me on some very basic level.  Since I have the Vaytanium, I’m not building up this bike.  But if I didn’t have the Vaytanium…

I find this build intriguing because: 1) it’s a collection of nice components; and, 2) it shows how incredibly versatile Salsa bikes are.  This particular La Cruz happens to be a steel frame.

The Manbearpig is stolen from MTBR, where it was posted by rroeder.  (And by stolen, I mean fair use.)  Pics:

Uhh…wait a minute…

That’s better.

Build Specs that I can discern from the pics:

La Cruz (steel)

SRAM X7 Rear derailleur, Shimano 105 Front derailleur.  SRAM Brifters (look like Rival, perhaps?)

Stan’s ZTR Arch.  Looks like Schwalbe Smart Sams (maybe 700 x 40c?  Or are they 29×1.75?)

Thomson seatpost and stem.

Not sure what bars (perhaps Salsa Bell Lap?)  Man, those brifters are waaaay up there in the mounting.  Probably for single track controllability.

Anyhow…it’s a nice build spec–reasonable budget for a highly functional bike.  It’s probably equally at home on single track, doubletrack, cross, gravel…maybe even light touring.  The owner indicates that it’s “1/2 cross, 1/2 mtb, 1/2 graveler.”  Sounds about right–that would mean 150% awesome.  Manbearpig…it’s a BILTO.

2012 Barry Roubaix on Fatbikes

Yesterday, I rode in the Barry Roubaix.  On the Schweet Mukluk.  Details and pics to follow.

Introductory note: I’ve come to realize that cycling is, for me, often about friendships.  As we were riding home after the Barry yesterday, Chad and I were talking about all of the amazing things that have happened in the previous 365 days.  How we were much stronger riders, much better friends…how our circle of friends had grown.  Most of the pictures below come from Anna, the wife of Big Paul (from the School of Spearfish trip)…Paul, Chad and I all rode in the Barry.  All on fat bikes.  All from North Central Cyclery.  So many thanks to Anna for her photojournalism.  And thanks to my friends for all of the great rides and great memories over the past year.

Ok…warm and cozies aside.  Let’s talk bikes.

Chad and I loaded up the official vehicle of RATG with a couple of fatties, and headed east to Michigan.

I monitored the rear-view to make sure that the bikes were hangin’ in.

 

We hit torrential downpours on the way to Michigan, and had dinner at a wonderful local restaurant Denny’s.

We then proceeded to the Kalamazoo Red Roof Inn.  Sleep was had.

In the morning, we rolled out early and, fueled by some of my wife’s great gluten/dairy free apple muffins and hard-boiled eggs, headed north to the race.  For travelers from the south/east/west, Kalamazoo was a great spot to stop.  We were about 40 minutes out from the race in the morning, and it was an easy/pleasant drive.  For some odd reason, I found an amazingly perfect parking spot, right by registration and the start/finish line.

We set up the RATG tool stand, and prepped for the race.

That’s my Schweet Mukluk, Chad’s OG-style Mukluk with hydro brakes and a few tasty upgrades, and Paul’s Necromancer.  We used the bike rack as our work stand, and got everything tuned for the race.  We even staged a “finish line” picture.

Then, we headed off into the race.

I took a few pics during the first mile of the race, and then put my camera away to focus on riding.

The peloton:

The Chad:

Yours truly, haulin’ the mail, and smiling all the way:

Leading the pack:

Chad and I were pretty much neck and neck at the finish, and Paul was right on our tails.

Chad did his best Captain Morgan impression.

Post-race:

And the aftermath…

Apologies for lame parking lot pics.

Race review comments:

Race was awesome.  36 miles, 2040 feet of climbing.  I averaged 15.6mph according to Barry-Roubaix timed race results, and 15.5 on my GPS (which I started just before the start).

Top speed of 36mph.  On a fatbike.  With Big Fat Larrys.  (uh-huh).

The course was very well marked and well planned.  At every road crossing, there were police controlling traffic–I didn’t have to stop a single time, at any road crossing.  The route was also very fun and challenging.  I’m glad that the Fatbike category was 36 miles…had it been 62 miles, it would have been really, really killer with the sand and climbing.

What Went Right:

Bike prep was spot-on.  I was running 15psi up front and 18psi in the rear–and with BFLs, that was about perfect.  The Loop bars were also perfect…on numerous occasions, I would “get aero” by grabbing the front loop with my arms close together, and getting into a tuck.  With as upright as the riding position is on my Muk, getting into a tuck really, really helps.  I highly recommend the loops…or heck, even some aero bars.  I had a ton of compliments from other riders, during the race, about how well the Muk was outfitted, and what a cool bike it is–kudos to NCC for the awesome parts spec.  It was perfect for the race.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  If you don’t want Loop bars, you can get in the drops like Chad.

With the routes that were set for the race, I decided to leave my spare tube, pump and tools back at the car.  That was a good idea as well…they add a few pounds to the bike, and not having those extra pounds was appreciated on the ride, with the climbing.

My training for the past year has also helped.  A lot of the gonzo rides that we do (B-roads, mud, 50 mile fatbike rallys, etc….they all totally prepared me for this ride.  There were a lot of areas on the sandy paths that had huge water puddles (6-12″ deep) in the middle, with bypasses around the side.  Sometimes, the bypasses were faster…and sometimes, bombing through the middle of the puddle was faster…much to the chagrin of one fellow rider in a very lovely white jersey who was splashed by muddy water spraying off of my BFL.  (Sorry.  But it is a gravel race).  But I knew exactly how the Muk would handle in sand, mud, water, gravel, and road.  I could push it into a loose gravel corner and know how the BFLs would respond.  I was ready for the race.

I’m also happy with my pace.  I could not have ridden faster–this was full out for me, for this ride.  I finished and felt as if I had not held anything back…I had given it my all.  I finished in the top 10 in my category (ok…a field of 20-something fat bikes…but still.  They were hauling), and was very pleased with that result.

Incidentally, I was very surprised by how competitive the 3 of us were with the skinny tire cross bikes around us.  On the road and climbs, I expected to be dropped like a rock.  Not so…for the most part, we hung on.  The last 2-3 miles of the race were on pavement, where the cross bikes should have left us in the dust.  But at that point, the riders must have been tired–we hung on, and passed many.  Yes–fatbikes on asphalt, passing cross bikes.  I even held out for a sprint across the finish.  I do wish I had a picture of that, but I don’t (at this point).  (Anyone…anyone??)  It was really fun to see someone on a cross bike, and then rumble up behind them on BFLs.  I had a couple racers think I was a car as I was approaching.  (Insert smiley emoticon here).

Other riders were very friendly and supportive–that was also great and much appreciated…and rider support was everywhere.  I accomplished my goal of riding my race.  Once the race started, I only unclipped one time (to stop when a rider fell in front of me in the sand).  I did not stop for any other reason.  I did not accept any outside support, or even food or water at the rest stations…just rolled past.  I focused on riding at my optimal pace, regardless of other riders.

On that note, riding a fatbike in a field that was predominantly skinny tired cross bikes was fun.  They had no idea or expectation as to what I should be doing/how fast I should be riding…it didn’t feel like a competition or direct comparison between my riding and theirs.  I was able to ride my race.

And of course, in the sand, mud, etc., the Muk killed.  Ki-LL-ed.

What I can do better:

I need to manage my eating better.  For the first 20 miles, I didn’t eat anything.  I genuinely believe that had I started fueling a bit earlier, I would have ridden stronger.  Thanks to Chad for asking if I had taken any calories in–he reminded me to keep it together.

I also need to get to the front of the pack before the start.  More on that below.

What Barry Roubaix can do better:

Again–the ride was really well organized, and there are very, very few things for me to gripe about.  These are intended purely as constructive criticisms to make a great race even better.

  1. Let fat bikes start in their own ‘mini-group’.  We started in wave 4…everyone hung together for the first few miles of pavement, and then immediately turned into gravel and sand, for a good climb.  That was an area the Mukluks should have shined…but there were cross bikes stacked up in front of us, constantly wiping out and walking, and we slowed to a crawl.  If we had started as “3B”, between 3 and 4, I think we would have had a much better ride in the sand, would have cleared it several times faster, and would have had more fun.  The sand is one area where the fat bikes have a clear advantage over skinny bikes…but we couldn’t exploit it because of the backup of skinnies.
  2. Walkers to the right.  Everywhere there was mud or sand, many riders would lose it, and start walking…everywhere.  They would walk 3-4 abreast, leaving no clear line for riders to pass.  BR should pass and enforce a rule that walkers on the course have to ride to the far right, regardless of terrain, and leave a clear path open to the left for riders to use.
  3. Ban cars on the sand sections.  It is completely inexplicable to me, but there were spectators who had driven a Jeep and a Subaru down one of the sand paths, nearly getting stuck, and causing a complete biker bottleneck.  This wasn’t a road, and wasn’t someone doing something official…it was spectators being unreasonable.  And instead of waiting for riders to get through, the cars completely blocked the path.  Anyone who was around me at that time may remember me shouting, at the top of my lungs, for the cars to get out of the way so the bikes could get through.  Again…fatbike opportunity to haul through a sandy spot was impeded.  B-R did a great job of having support staff at every entrance to the sandy areas…I would suggest that they work with local government and get permission to block car traffic on the sandy stretches during the race.  (There were no driveways or private property that would be blocked/impeded by such actions.)

That’s it.  Just those changes.  Suggested changes.

Overall…ride was awesome, fatbike category is where it’s at, and I had a great, awesome, splendiferous day.  Keep riding.

Supernatural Snowbike Adventure Epic.

This morning, I mounted up on the Mukluk and headed into the great, untamed wilderness to take advantage of Illinois’ second real snowfall of the season.  I’ve never been so excited about 4 inches of snowfall in my life.  The ride started out with ChadQuest climbing mountains on his Mighty Muk…

And with the plow pile conquered, we headed into the wilds.  I had brought with a fair amount of survival gear based upon the dangerous territory that we headed into, being prepared for potentially dangerous winter moments like this creek crossing:

That’s Tobie from North Central Cyclery, putting his Pugsley through the paces, and risking life and limb on thin ice.  I was ready at the creek bank with a rope and emergency blanket, in case he fell through.  After seeing that he was going to be able to safely cross, I looked up to the mountains in the distance and took a moment to thank God that I live in scenic Illinois.

Full disclosure time: those aren’t mountains.  I know, I know.  They look like mountains…but they’re not.  It’s actually the back of a retail store.  In DeKalb.

I had posted a while ago that adventure is where you find it.  Rides like this morning continue to convince me of the truth of that statement.  It was a great group–Tobie, Chad, Nevdal (the origin of the verb, ‘to Nevdal ™’, as used here), Mattias and myself.  We were all on fat bikes (Chad’s custom frankenMuk, my Schweet Muk, Tobie’s Barney Pugs, and Mattias’ snow-blind Pugs) other than Nevdal, who was sporting his seriously beautiful, new Ti Salsa El Mariachi custom build (mechanical BB7 brakes and 1×9 drivetrain for simplicity, White Brothers carbon rigid fork, etc.).  We didn’t climb any mountains or set any records, but we went out and rode on a day when sleeping in seemed like a better idea, and we had a great time.

We had some nice, wooded single track:

I looped around on my Big Fat Larry’s:

We rolled some creek banks:

Including some kinda-hinky off-camber action:

And even conquered the power line trails between here and there.

After a morning of churning snow, we were all a bit hungry, so we headed to a small, locally owned grocer and picked up some provisions for a late-morning snack.  While the parking lot was pretty full, we managed to find a spot to park:

And we picked up some chicken sausage, corn tortillas, a dozen eggs, and some related provisions.  But how to transport such delicate items back to NCC to cook?  Ahh yes…my Porcelain Rocket-made booster rocket seat pack.  As I’ve said in the past, I’ve been using it as my go-to bag for the Muk…because I can carry a huge fatbike spare tube, a pump, some CO2 and tools, spare warmer packs, an extra hat/gloves, snacks, and whatever else.  Or, I can carry some groceries.

Yup, that’s how we roll.

This may well be the last ‘real’ snowstorm of the season–and that’s depressing, because it really wasn’t a real snowstorm.  On a brighter front, even after the snow melts, the Muk will still be pressed into regular service for rides of all sorts.  It will also be pressed into service in the fatbike category at the upcoming Barry Roubaix ride in a few weeks.  We’ll see how well my training this winter has served me…and how well I can manage nutrition on the road.

Fun ride.  Not because of great scenery, or epic conditions…but because of great bikes and even better friends.

Favorite New Frostbike Products

Just a quickie, about a few of the products shown at Frostbike that I think look really interesting.

Salsa’s Full Suspension Fatbike:

Looks like a really sensible build.  (Did I just use sensible to describe a full suspension fatbike?  Wowzers).  I’d looooove to give it a test ride.  I think it really shows some forward thinking, and a willingness to try new ideas, and I’m curious to see where it leads.  My guess: Salsa’s 2013 product catalog will have a full suspension fatbike, with 82mm Rolling Darryls, 80mm rear suspension travel and 100mm front suspension travel, and the same basic suspension design shown above (shared with Spearfish and Horsethief).  Bike weight will be in the low 30s.

HED’s New Wheels:

Can’t find a pic of these at the moment, but HED was showing some new 700c wheels that don’t have a brake track on them; flat black finish.  Lighter weight than my Velocity A23s on the Vaytanium.  With the new growth in disc brakes, and with the coming full hydraulic road disc brake setups, it completely makes sense to start developing more rims that are trackless.  What am I looking for?  How about a lightweight, aluminum, trackless 700c UST wheel, so I can update the Vaya with something as durable as my Velocitys, but lighter and stealthier, and tube-less-er.

More Whisky Parts:

(Photo courtesy of North Central Cyclery)

I’m excited about some of the flat black carbon bits coming out of Whisky these days.  I think they’ll work smashingly good on Inigo Montoya, if he gets the green light.  It’s nice to have some American companies to select from (acknowledging overseas production).

Foundry’s Complete Builds

The build above is their Ratchet road ride, built up with the new SRAM Red group set and some spiffy Zipps.  I have to say…I’m a sucker for the flat black carbon aesthetic.  If I wasn’t head over heals about my Ridley, I’d be giving that a look.  I’m hopeful that Whisky’s product line expands enough that Foundry can use Whisky seat posts, stems and bars…that would be most excellent.

I’m also quite interested in their Auger, full carbon, disc friendly cross/gravel bike.  I’m really curious to see how they tuned the frame’s ride quality, and if it is as compliant as I’d like for gravel bomber runs.

Note the Whisky, disc-friendly, carbon fork.

45NRTH’s Studded Husker Du

(Photo from Fatbike.com)

Factory studded fatbike tires are a very, very positive trend.  I’m curious to see some more pictures of the tread to see how the studs are placed…and I’d really like to see a higher volume studded fatbike tire (that doesn’t require DIY).  But this is obviously a step in the right direction.  Now if they’d only do a BFHD.

Dry Cleaning. (Bikes).

A little tech update…

I’m borderline A/R when it comes to bikes…and one of the most bothersome parts of bike maintenance is chain maintenance.  I’ve yet to find a cleaning/lubing protocol that I really, really like.  If you really clean things, then: 1) you’re taking the lube right out of the parts that need it; and, 2) lube it and hit the gravel and it’s all undone–insta-dirty.

Cold weather complicates this even more, as your bike gets dirty, but it’s too cold to wash outside.

In doing some research, I’ve found some interesting ideas.  There are a number of people who suggest ‘dry cleaning’ bikes–cleaning with a dry towel.  And the gents at This Bike is F&*#$@ have recently suggested both dry cleaning and cleaning your chain with oil, instead of solvent.  So this past weekend, I undertook a bike cleaning experiment.

Before:

Note: I had tried a ‘wet’ petroleum based lube on the chain, and really, really don’t like the results.  Back to dry/wax based lubricants for me.

The cleaning method I’d normally use would be to get a wet rag, use some water to wet down big dirty areas, spray mud with a little highly diluted simple green, and wipe down the frame.  Then, use a Park Tool degreaser bath machine on the chain, followed by a spray with degreaser on the cassette and chainrings, followed by brushing those chain areas with a stiff-bristled brush.  Get everything clean, then wipe down the dirty areas of the frame (those that got dirty during chain cleaning) with a washcloth wet down with simple green.  Then, lube chain…let sit overnight…and then wipe off excess lube.

The cleaning method I tried this time was different.  I started with a dry cloth rag, and wiped off the worst dirt and mud.  After that, I wet a cloth rag and wiped down the whole frame.  Then, I wiped down the chain with a rag that had been lubed with oil, which took a lot of the grime off.  But try as I might, I couldn’t get the chain and drivetrain clean.  So I tried a new method: compressed air.

Using my air compressor, I carefully cleaned off each chain link and the cassette and chainrings.  Then, I relubed the chain and drivetrain.  Results?

After:

I’m very, very happy with the cleaning results.  We’ll see how well the cleaning holds up.  I’m well aware that the compressed air could blow lube out of the chain, and tried to avoid that.  At the very least, I’m pretty darn sure that the compressed air would not force contaminants into the roller pins, like a degreaser bath could.  The overall bike cleaning went pretty well, although it’s a lot easier to wash a wet bike than it is to wash a dry bike.  For example, if you look at the last picture, you can see areas behind the chainring that I couldn’t/didn’t reach.

We’ll see how it goes…I’ll post an update in a while, after evaluating how this holds up.