Monday, November 26, 2012

The Best Reasons to Ride

The other day I was dropping my poodles off at the kennel and I noticed that I was a couple of miles overdue for an oil change.  I mentioned this to my wife and she said that is has almost been a year since it was last changed.  I could not comprehend this because I try to change oil every 3-4 thousand miles.  I stated that cannot be right, it had to be more miles and we debated this for a little while when it was settled after she said it was changed when the dealership replaced a seal for my window nearly one year ago. 
The point of this is that in during a 1 year I will have put less than 4,000 miles on my car.  I typically ride 4 days per week and it is amazing how many miles are saved by riding a bike.  Not only the 16 miles (round trip) every day but the additional miles I put on as I go to a bike shop at lunch or drive to the store for something to eat or drink.  I am much less likely to just kill a lunch hour by driving around and I can walk the ½ mile to get my munchies.   
I then told my wife to think of all of the money I have saved us.  Then she became Debby Downer and pointed out that everything I think I had saved on gas went into bicycles.  While it is true that I increased my fleet by two during this time period and also bought numerous tires, inner tubes, brake pads, wheels, chains……I think the important thing is that I would have probably bought random bike stuff anyway.  Therefore I saved money!!
I am not sure that I help the environment much; I consume tires, inner tubes, chain lube, and peanut butter w/honey sandwiches like they are going out of style.  What I have noticed is that my overall attitude, mental health, and physical conditioning have improved.  Those are the best reasons I can think of to ride a bike. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Surly Ogre: On the Trail

I finally got around to putting disc brakes on my Surly Ogre so I can run 29er mountain bike wheels/tires in addition to my 700c wheels.  The original set up was geared for commuting and I ran 700x45c tires which fit great and had plenty of clearance with the front derailleur.  This would also be true for single speed setup if you are into that kind of thing (I have decided I am not). 

I have been wanting to take the Olive Drab Roller for a spin in the woods so I borrowed the Avid BB7 disk brakes and Salsa Semi 29er wheels from the El Mar.  Adding these wheels with the larger tires required me to install Surly Monkey Nuts (included with the the frame) to get the additional spacing required for the tire to clear the front derailleur.  This meant that I had to get a new chain; I should have set it up with the Monkey Nuts in the first place as it would have made no real difference in performance and saved me $25 last week.  I am also considering dumping the 48 tooth chain ring if it gets in the way.

Live and learn I suppose.

Winston and I took it for ride and I was extremely pleased.  Again, it is based on the Karate Monkey and it is a tried and true frame design which I had considered buying when I was ultimately seduced by the beautiful El Mariachi.  I am not a professional bike review guy so I am not going to use fancy words "spry" or "nimble" or "fast" to describe how it handled, mainly because I am not so therefore the bike will never be.   I will say that I love the feel of a rigid steel bike and with the Jeff Jones Loop Bar, it made short order of climbs and technical spots on the trail.

I have some Maxxis 2.10 CrossMark tires on it now, but I am going to test the Surly "Fatties Fit Fine" with some out of production WTB Weirwolf tires that measure in at 2.55 (I don't know if that is actual or exaggerated as tires often are).  I love those tires, the came on the El Mar but there wasn't a lot of clearance in muddy situations.  I can run them with tubes at 20 psi and not flat.

I am pleased with the purchase, it served me well riding 500 miles across the state of Iowa with 700x32c Continental GatorSkins and it will serve me well on the trails.  As for reducing my bike fleet by one, I think I have a new plan for the El Mariachi to keep it fresh and relevant.  More on that later.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Missed Opportunities

This week has been the most painful shifts in daylight savings time I have ever had.  Between the cool fall weather, shortened days, and the "gain" of an hour I have found myself missing opportunities to ride.  I try to ride to work at least three times a week.  This week, the kids and household 6 had activities every night which more or less hijacked my riding.  On Tuesday I brought a bike as my Tuesdays get really long.  I figured I could cut out a little early and hit the trails.  It had lightly rained for a few hours and at 3:30 I found myself making the following excuses:

1.  By the time I change and get to Sylvan Island I will only have 45 minutes to ride.
2.  I don't want to get my bike muddy and spend hours getting Mississippi JB Weld (I am convinced you can use this mud to fix anything) from all of the nooks and crannies of my Anthem X29er.

These were two very pathetic excuses and translate to missed opportunities to ride and enjoy life, even in it's cold, dark, muddy glory.

Well today I had to seize the day.  It was 72 degrees and although there was a bizarre spattering of rain while the sun was blinding, the Chick and I took Winston and headed to the slough.  When we got  there we found that the Chicks helmet didn't make it into the car.  Sounds like another opportunity for an excuse so we rode sans helmet.  I know another nomination for father of the year! 

I have stated before that Sylvan Island is an amazing place to start kids mountain biking.  There is not a lot of elevation change but the small hills provide my kids an opportunity to learn to ride down hill with out gaining to much speed and freaking out.  

Riding off of the old steel mill foundation.  I love how nature is reclaiming an industrial area.

Winston loves to get out and run.  He stays close and out of the way for the most part.

The Chick is riding a small 26 inch mountain bike and sometimes it looks huge.  She is learning to control it.  Right now I am trying to get my kids to look ahead and anticipate gear changes.  Small hills and mounds pose a problem because she doesn't shift in time and stalls out.  We will get there.

For some reason this picture makes look and feel old.  It is hard to believe that my Mukluk has the same rim size as the Chick's Giant Yukon.    

This turned out to be great opportunity to enjoy some time with the Chick.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Never Ending Tinkering

The Ogre (aka Olive Drab Roller; ODR)

I have a bunch of bikes.  I use them a lot.  I use them hard.  I have mentioned all of this before with my hopes of someone sponsoring a serious commuter and enthusiast to help offset the costs.  At this point I am an unofficial spokesperson for QBP, the folks who own Surly and Salsa (combined I have four).  The best I have received from them is a stem and a handlebar which were awarded for my literary talents and desire to get a tin sign of their logo half way around the world with out it being destroyed.  I have been riding the Muk to work a lot.  My boss calls it the Panzer, I think it is fitting.  The other day, I was trying to get out of the office so I could assist with taking one of the strap hangers to the dentist.  I literally couldn't get past people with the Panzer.  They blocked my way and asked questions, people are fascinated with the size of the tires on the Mukluk.

If you are considering ordering or purchasing a fat bike I will warn you right now; people will inquire, stare, make comments in passing, and ask you what it is for......the questions are endless.  I haul this thing up a flight of stairs and keep it behind my desk (when it is not nasty out) and I will have someone come to speak with me and the whole time we are talking the person is looking over my shoulder at my bike.  One of the people I supervise is completely distracted by it.  He stares and than mid-work related statement says "I am sorry, I can't help it, those are the biggest tires I have ever seen."  They speak to others and their relatives, it is amazing.  Great PR for the Quality Bike Parts.

Today for no great reason I cannibalized my El Mariachi for some wheels and brakes.  I suppose will not ride it again this year.  I have wanted to do some off road on the Ogre but wanted some decent stopping power.  I have it geared towards commuting with a 48 tooth chain ring, but this will allow quick wheel change outs to some wider rims and big rubber.  I have been wanting to do some single track on it, now I can!  I missed a great deal on some disc brake calipers, two sets for $50.  This would have been amazing because I now need (want) Avid BB7 brakes on two bikes.

I also did a night ride last weekend in the freezing cold.  Just before, I switched handle bars on my Giant Anthem X 29er for a Salsa Low Rise bar with 17 degree sweep.  I won that bar and if felt great on the ride, I am fond of a bar with some sweep and with just a little more tweaking on lever position life is good!

On a final note I do not like to post random stuff from bike part companies and their product announcements, but this is special because it takes me back to my 1994 with my GT.

There was a time when I was riding in purple anodized bliss.  Anything I could get in purple was on that bike.  You name it:  chain ring bolts, bar ends, caps, binders, skewers.  At one point I took the rear derailleur apart to replace the mounting bolt with a purple break away variety.  By the way, that can be a nightmare if you disassemble wrong, tension springs can be a pain.  In fact a friend of mine was doing the same thing and he called me to tell me not to remove X piece.  I thanked him for the advice as I crawled on all fours looking at springs.  Thanks again Dan.  But it was worth the hours of reassembly for that one more accent of  Purple. 

Then it seems Purple died off, but not my love of it.  Great times.  If I had the coin this would be the time to get the hubs and headset.  I wonder if it would look good on the ODR?