To the Airport, by Bicycle.

I recently read an inspiring post over on The Urban Country’s blog, about the author’s exploits in commuting to the airport via cargo bike.

Long story short, he left the house at 6:40pm, covered about 17 miles (in about 2 hours), and made it through security for a 9:35 scheduled departure.

I’m not sure if I’m more jealous of his ability to ride a bike to the airport, or of the fact that his airport security is rational enough to permit arriving at the airport only an hour before flight time.

Pic from his blog:


Fatbike Fenders. In Carbon.

Wow.  I just saw what Dustin Mustangs posted on MTBR regarding his home-brew carbon fenders for his sweet 2012 Salsa Mukluk.  They look amazing.  (And they fit a medium Salsa Mukluk 2….hmmmmm….).

Great attention to detail–and amazing carbon fabrication work.  They look incredible.  Great job Dustin!

I’d be a little concerned about the length of the rubber mud flaps, and the strength of the carbon bits themselves (not that carbon isn’t strong…but those will not last against real mud…heck, real mud would tear the braze-ons right off the Muk, or break the allen screws)…but these look pretty trick nonetheless.  Perhaps perfect for fatbike commuting.

XX1 In The Flesh.

I haven’t ridden it…but I’ve seen it.

That’s a 10-42 tooth cassette.

For comparison, here’s a 11-21T cassette.

XX1 Type 2 Derailleur.

Lockout button for easy wheel changes.

New Linkage.

It’s hard to show in a picture, but the new linkage moves on a different arc than a standard rear derailleur…it’s really noticeable in person.

The cassette is a beautiful piece of machining.

32T chainring.

My, what big teeth you have…

Relatively normal looking trigger shifter.

Size comparison to a PHOTOBOMB. standard MTB cassette.

Hard to tell here, but the chain is palpably thinner than a standard chain.

I knew it would be big, but I’m flatly amazed at how HUGE a 10-42T cassette is.


I’ll be curious to see how it looks on a bike.  Not my bike.  But a bike.

Cold Weather Riding, Revisited.

Riding in Illinois means you either have a short riding season, or you adapt to riding in crappy weather.  And as I’ve just been reminded by Brendan Collier, we don’t have mountains, either.  Yes, Illinois kinda sucks.

Actually, with the constant headwinds, I guess you’d say it blows.  But that’s not what today’s post is about.

Last year, I was dressing for winter biking how I’d dress for all winter activities.  That is to say, I was dressing warmly enough to be able to be outside in the cold.  That’s a mistake.

I’ve been told that for winter biking, you should be cold when you start riding.  That is absolutely correct.  I now dress for moving, and accept that I’ll be cold at the start of the ride.  It’s a far superior modus operandi.

For example, last year on a fatbike snow ride, temps were about 30 degrees, it was snowing, and I went out to do a low speed snow romp with friends.  I was wearing bib shorts under tights under Gore Fusion GT AS pants, on the bottom half.  Up top, I was wearing a tight tech-fabric long-sleeved baselayer, a long-sleeved jersey, a vest, my Gore Phantom windstopper jacket, and my Fusion GT AS jacket over that.

A low speed snow romp on the fatbike generates more body-warmth and less windchill than a comparatively high speed road ride.  And yet when I went out for a ride on Saturday, temps were around 25, mild wind, and we were riding at road speeds…but I had on far less clothing.  Just bib shorts, a pair of Gore windstopper tights, a Gore singlet, long-sleeve jersey and the Phantom jacket.

Note in the picture above, that the jackets are unzipped.  On that ride, I started off warm, got hot, got sweaty, unzipped, and ended up damp.

On the Saturday ride, I started cold, warmed up, rode in perfect comfort, and ended dry and comfortable.

As good as Gore products are, when you overdress with multiple layers, even they cannot get rid of all of the sweat you generate.  The moral of the story?  Listen to the guys who say you should start cold.  Resist the temptation to add more layers.  I’m revising my temperature ratings for just about all of my gear.  If it’s an actual ‘go out and ride’ bike event, I’m wearing a lot less clothing, in comparatively colder weather.  If nothing else, it keeps you motivated to keep moving…

Downtime, Uptime.

I’ve had a few days off the blog, and off the internetz in general. No writing, no forums, no bleh.

Ok, a little Facecrack, but that doesn’t count, does it?

The time off was motivated by a few things, not ranked in order:

  1. I was feeling a little meh about blogging, in part due to some recent over-blogging, and in part due to ongoing existential blog angst.
  2. I wanted an unplugged holiday.  Time that would have been spent blogging was instead spent playing games with a particularly smart 4.9 year old.
  3. Ride more, type less.

Pretty simple, really.  That said, I did get in some great rides.  Thanksgiving Eve saw the second annual Ridiculous Fatbike Ride of Northern Illinois.  Last year, we rode powerline trails through mud so deep that the Mukluk wouldn’t shift, on the Burrito Repeato.  Post ride, it looked like this:

And of course, last year, there was a Narwhal siting…which is pretty hard to beat in the Midwest.

But we set out to ride, nonetheless.  It was a ride of many surfaces.  There was a little spattering of pavement, a good hunka-chunka gravel, some mud, some railroad tracks, some railroad embankments, a creek, a pond, powerlines, a forest preserve, chisel-plowed fields, soybean fields, ditches, bridges, grasslands, prairie, walking paths, and a few other improved and unimproved surfaces.

Chad didn’t learn from participating last year, so he was back again…

Joined by BPaul “I am Ironman”, the official Goretex Model of North Central Cyclery

And Chad “the Beard” Biketographer, who was baptizing his new orange Mukluk:

And there was Aaron…who was riding his new Beargrease so fast, I didn’t catch him on the bike.

Riding railroad tracks was amusing, albeit slightly jarring…

Riding Chisel-Plowing was also jarring, but less amusing.

Riding bean-stubble was more fun than I had remembered.  Sporting my Husker Düs, I had no problems with flats, even riding across some pretty tough, frosted bean stubble.  I was running about meh psi up front, and a hair more than meh in the rear.  Handling was perfect.

The ride reminded me of the glory of fatbikes.  Ride anywhere, on any surface.  Not particularly fast, not slow…but ride in any direction.  On anything.  Including ponds.

Saturday morning, I hit the regular Road Ride at NCC, where we were joined by BPaul’s 70-something uncle, who had brought his Speshy road bike down from Minnesota to ride with us, eh?

Disappointingly, he did not have an accent, eh?

That was the only disappointment.  I hope when I’m 70, I can ride like he does.  I hope when I’m 70, I do ride like he does.  It’s nice to have a ride like that–where I can see that my cycling career has decades and decades to go.  It was cold (25), but not windy or raining, and the miles just kind of poured out of us.

I did a little bit of other riding and bike tweaking over the weekend, but nothing too memorable.  Laid-back week, laid-back rides.  Winter’s here, Holmes.


I need to convince Chad to do some crazy massive ride soon.


Stan’s Crest / Bontrager CX0 Update

I posted a few days ago about the buildup of my Stan’s Crest rims, Sapim CXRay spokes, and Bontrager CX0 700×38 tires (tubeless), by Hand of Midas at NCC.  Here’s an update.

I’ve run a lot of tires on the Vaya.  The most miles were on Continental Cyclocross Speeds and Schwalbe Marathon Mondials.  The Speeds are 35s, and the Mondials are 40s.

The Speeds, at 35c, weigh 350 grams.  These CX0s, at 38c, weigh just under 370 grams.  They’re pretty true to size, too (while the Speeds are a bit under 35mm).  Here’s the skinny on the CXOs thus far:

  • The CXOs roll just as fast as the Speeds on gravel or pavement.  I notice no greater rolling resistance, even with the wider tires.  They’re fast on hard surfaces.
  • With my light weight, 35c tires are plenty for the vast, vast majority of gravel riding conditions…that said, there doesn’t seem to be a penalty to running 38s under ‘normal conditions’, and when the gravel is soft, the 38s have a clear edge.  I’m impressed.
  • With the Speeds, I was running tubes and typically around 50psi.  If it was going to be a road-ish ride, I’d run 65psi.  The CX0s, tubeless and larger, are interesting in the pressure department.  I’ve settled (for right now) at 37psi in the rear, and 30-32 in the front.  With the rear weight bias of the Vaya, that works well.  Yes.  That is low pressure.  But tubeless, they roll FAST, even at that pressure.  I’m very, very pleased with tubeless thus far.  And of note, even though the CX0s weigh 20 grams more per tire than Speeds, without tubes, the CX0s come in lighter.  The lowest pressure I could run with the speeds was 40psi.  That was only in very soft conditions, when there were no pinchflat concerns (e.g. wet limestone path).  The CX0s, even at 30psi, have not had any problems with burping.  That includes singletrack expeditions on roots and ruts.
  • In the realm of unfair fights, comparing the Speeds to CX0s on singletrack just isn’t fair.  The CX0s do much, much better on soft ground.  At the pressure I’m running, it’s like riding a 29er on skinny tires.  In mud, the more aggressive side knobs on the CX0s do a good job of providing significantly more traction than the Speeds.  In other word, the CX0s are just as good on hard surfaces and better on soft surfaces.  I love my Speeds…so that’s saying a lot.
  • That note aside, I’m absolutely, steadfastly convinced that the CX0s will wear much faster than the Speeds.  I’ll keep updating on the wear…I only have a handful of rides on them thus far.

This next point has been made by many, and it is one that I strongly agree with: the single best upgrade to a bike is better wheels and tires.  The drop in rotating mass and increase in traction on adverse surfaces, coupled with the greater comfort at lower pressure running tubeless…it’s amazing.  I’ve always loved the Vaya.  This is like falling in love all over again.

It’s a great build, and they ride swiftly.