Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sylvan Island Mountain Biking with Kids: Flooded edition

I found these pictures while going through my camera.  These were taken in March/April.  It has been a long cool spring and the only place to ride off road was Sylvan Island.  I am fascinated by this place.  I love watching how nature fights back against man.  Aside from random chunks of metal/Rebar, bricks, and mysterious holes in foundations, it is a great place for kids.   

There is a great mixture of nature and man.  If you look at the left and right you see where the concrete walls are and that this is actually the base of an old factory building.  This particular foundation is a mind bender.  When approached from the other side, it looks as though it drops off.  It is a test of it has a nice ramp with logs to prevent the crushing of chain ring.

At first Digga wanted nothing to do with it.  He stopped and looked over the edge.  I did it so he could see that it was possible.

Reluctantly he did it and found it was not at all scary.  He also noted that it was fun.

No issues from the Chick.  She barreled over it without giving it a second though

And they did it again......
and again.........
and again.....all told they probably did this section about ten times making continuous loops.  Finally I was able to convince them it was time to go explore.

The Mississippi had been over it's banks in Davenport but I had not a clue it would submerge the western half of the island.  The trails were open, which is to say that the trails that were not underwater were dry.  So we turned around.

Again, we were foiled in our attempt to bicycle around the island.  It was fun just the same though.
The now closed for safety reasons bridge with a very high water level.  

I will most likely not get a chance to ride this again before we move on.  It is an amazing place to ride and I will miss it.  Especially since it tends to stay open when other parks are closed to MTN Bikes.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mountain biking with kids: Digga at Sunderbruch

Digga and I have been doing a lot of riding lately.

Big and Small:  1UP USA rack will fit a fat bike and a 20" wheeled bikes.  It is a great investment.  If you are looking for a rack, stop and get one.  They have a roof mount option as well.

There is finally some green.  Digga rides like a champ.  There are some challenges and occasionally he has to walk his bike but what mountain biker hasn't.

He has an amazing amount of energy.  He found a gear that worked in all situations.  He may spin out on the flats, but he is a motor.

They have closed the bridge to Sylvan Island so we spend a lot more time at Sunderbruch Park.  The green rated trails provide a little challenge but do not overwhelm him.

OK, maybe a little overwhelming.  This was a blue rated trail.  We probably should have avoided this path but it is a decent route back to the parking lot.

He struggled through the mud and it through him off.  Father of the Year award goes to me for taking pictures before helping.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Old Man Mountain Sherpa Mukluk/Fat Bike Retrofit for the Surly Ogre

This is something that I am really excited about.  I was pleased to find out that Old Man Mountain racks made a specific rack for my 2011/12 Salsa Mukluk, aka, The Panzer.  I like it when things are purpose built and don't require a lot of manipulation, another word for bending. 

As the winter came to a close I decided it was time to break out the Ogre for commuting.  I love the Panzer it is everything you would want in a bike......except speed.  I loved having a rack and panniers on it.  It made packing simple.  I could take uniform, boots, running shoes, running clothes, lunch, and extra layering for winter stuff.  The Surly Ogre was purpose built to accept just about any accessory made for a bike so finding a rack that would fit was not an issue.  The issue is that I hate to spend a bunch of money on duplicate items.  As a side note, I would have it necessary.

In comes Old Man Mountain.  I e-mailed Channing to ask him what the best solution was: to use longer bolts for my Mukluk Sherpa or just by a Cold Springs rack.  He could have easily said buy a new one, but he didn't.  For $21 he made me a new lower fit kit that had a spacer welded on and sent longer bolts.  All I need was to take off the Mukluk fit kit and put on the Ogre specific kit.

Old Man Mountain Fat Bike Edition

The lower fit kit had spacers to make up for the fat rear end of the Panzer
Sherpa for Mukluk with Ortlieb on Surly Ogre
 Old Man Mountain Sherpa rack for the Mukluk with a fit kit to fit a Surly Ogre with Panniers on

 From the side

retro fit with new OMM Fit Kit
From the front with panniers

Amazing, it required no manipulation.  Maybe a little wider than necessary but hey, it gets the job done.    In the fall I will swap fit kits and throw it on the Salsa Mukluk. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Off Road Ride with the Tsunami

The other day I took the Chick and Digga to Sunderbruch Park for a little off road action.  As stated before, I would like to do at least three times the mileage however it is essential that they enjoy life.    The kids were playing with their friends so I figured my suggestion would meet a little resistance.  Digga was in from the get go.  He got a new bike and he loves it.  As soon as the Chick found out it was going to be on dirt she quickly agreed.  

The weather was perfect and the trail conditions were great for this time of year.  I think that overall the trails at Sunderbruch are better for a beginner.  There are less bizarre hazards like random bricks and rebar protruding from the ground. 

  The only thing I don’t like is that there is a little more to the climbs, including big roots on steep ascents.  This is a big challenge for little legs.  Not much more climbing (on the green trails) but more than Sylvan Island.

Vance is a motor.....he took off and just kept cranking.

 The Chick struggled a little, though most of it was mechanical.

Her chain was rubbing and skipping which caused her a lot of frustration.  This is completely understandable.  Also, I purposely purchased a bike that was a little big for her, knowing she would grow into it so her ability to throw it around is limited.  I am toying with the idea of putting on lower profile tires and switching her bike to a 1x9.
Getting them to understand gears and shifting is an ongoing process.  I always talk to them in advance and emphasize that this is supposed to be a fun activity and to work as hard as possible.  I reiterate that even the best have to get off and push sometimes.  I also have to remind them that they need to give the person in front some space.  This is important for two reasons, one is that if the other person falls down you don’t crash into them.  Two is that if the other person struggles up a hill or obstacle you don’t lose momentum and do the same.  These all pretty much fall upon deaf ears.  They will learn…..or crash into each other. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I think Summer is Here

Until last week, when I walked outside, I assumed that it would be cold and windy.  That has been the trend all spring, give us a really nice day than drop to a high in the 40s and low in the 30s for the rest of the week.  Miserable.  Psychological torture is the best way to describe this. We have managed to get some occasional nice days in before the drops in temperatures.

As far as my riding, I had all sorts of goals to ride.  In my mind it would be hundreds of miles per week.  Yeah......that worked.  The kid's activity schedule has picked up with piano, band, swim team and swim meets.  House Hold 6 is the PTA president and has meetings and activities planned in addition to the kids stuff.  Of course I have work requirements in addition to supporting all of the above listed things.  As a result my mileage has suffered.  So goes life.

In Irish Tsunami regalia.....years from now the Chick will regret her sock choice!
Considering the few days we had this spring, I decided that instead of me taking off and leaving everyone, I would take kids.  I have really enjoyed this even though it means slow and short rides.  I love spending time with them.  They certainly enrich my life.  

On a good note, Nater learned to ride without training wheels.  House Hold 6 wanted me to make sure everyone know that she taught him to ride.


I taught him the "freedom" victory cry.  In the past we have had problems going a couple of miles.  We do three or more routinely with no issues whatsoever.  He is a motor.  Anytime I ask if he wants to ride, there is no hesitation.  The hard part is keeping track of him.

Digga got a new bike for his birthday and he loves it.  I spend a little more on their bikes.  I teach them to take care of their equipment.  It is worth it in the long run.  We have one Giant kids bike that will easily make it through three kids.  Unfortunately for the younger kids they don't get a new bike.  Oh well, so far no one has complained.

 He was very happy with his birthday present.  

 Taking a break by the Mississippi.

 Duck Creek Parkway....Good Old Reliable

Rock Island Arsenal...a hidden gem in the Mississippi.  Nater running free.

I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity to get out and ride with the kids.  Life goes by pretty quickly so I try to capture these moments whenever possible.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I feel defeated.  Maybe frustrated is a better word, however, defeated keeps coming to mind.  Part of it was due to an unexpected flat the other part is due to my failure to prepare.  This resulted in me having to call home for a ride.  I failed to ride 20 miles on the first really nice day of the year.

Yesterday, I was riding home from work and I noticed that my rear tire was feeling a little squirrelly.  I am trying to get as many miles in before a century this weekend so I was taking the long way home.  I don't know what caused it to leak in the first place, no punctures or debri stickng out of it.   I put this together a month or so ago and it is been holding air, so I am not sure what caused it to start leaking air.  I guess it resulted in the seal breaking along the bead.

I stopped by a gas station and was happy that I put a presta to schrader adapter in my bag.  I dropped a quarter in the slot (no free air these days) and added a bunch of air but found that the bead was not sealing.  I found myself on the extreme opposite side of town examining my wonderful tubeless tire watching sealant bubble around the rim.  I sat for a few and watched sealant bubble in numerous spots on the tire/rim.  I contemplated just breaking the bead, putting in a tube and riding home.  I checked my stuff and realized that I didn't have a tube so I figured I would tough it out.  I headed back to the bike path and checked it again, I was loosing air.

So I called home, sat in the shade and waited for a ride.  I played with it last night, got up this morning and there is still little bubbles.  There is only a finite amount of time in life. Subtract sick time and work (in this case I can count years that I have lived behind wire and concrete....not prison) the amount of time that a person can get out an enjoy life is pretty limited.  I like to maximize my free time and enjoy it as much as possible.  While the eternal optimist may find something great about sitting on the road by a casino......I could not.

Even today I am really frustrated.  I spent a lot of time and effort getting those tires to seal, so I could sit next to a casino and watch bus loads of old people arrive so they can blow their social security checks.  I will always carry a tube from now on and I will probably just revert back to the good old inner tube for that wheel.  Man...I feel defeated.