Monday, January 23, 2012

Randonneur Cycling?

Ever heard of randonneuring in a biking context? I hadn't, but I stumbled upon this guys site called Rando Montana yesterday. Very interesting. Riding long road distance, loosely organized, non competitive. Of course it is a Euro thing going back to some very old roots of cycling I am sure. In my search for good ways to get motivated and train for the Butte 50 again, these type of events would be pretty good. Only problem is they aren't on a mountain bike! I have some routes in mind for rides like this that would incorporate a significant amount of dirt, and would need to be done on a more off road setup. The concept is great though. I may need to try some of the rides this guy has planned. Nothing like a good reason to go out and ride a bike all day! Also check out RandonneurUSA site for more good info. I may just have to give this a try this year. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cheap-Ass Hardtail Beater Bike Love

Take one 89 dollar hardtail frame from Price Point.
Buy a new headset, one tire, some tubes, and some derailleur and brake cables.

Add spare parts and parts from older decommissioned bikes.
Result: Instant sub $200 training/beater/winter/dirt-road/nonracing mountain bike.


     I keep it in good enough tune to shift okay. The wheel bearings need help. Brakes pretty much suck. But after riding a lot of full suspension, nothing feels like hopping on the hardtail and pedaling hard and going nothing but forwards. So fast! It feels like this bike pedals itself up the hill compared to my now shelved 6" travel, 32lbs Santa Cruz Heckler.
     As a sidenote, I actually think some of the 29er hype is due to guys like me coming off years of riding 6" travel AM rigs, and getting a hardtail 29er and thinking it is magical, when the real magic is not the wheel size, but the newly discovered efficiency of a hardtail while pedaling. In fact, I suppose there are people who started mountain biking on full suspension and have never even ridden a hardtail. This would of course make the hardtail experience dramatic regardless of wheel size. I just don't really want to have multiple wheel sizes to take care of. Maybe some day.
     If it is between November and June, I run fenders on there to keep the crap off me. And a light if I have one that is working.

     Bar ends were added pretty quickly after I built it. Also there is a tube and tire lever strapped to the down tube, and a pump attached to the water bottle mounts. I run two bottle cages when I don't have the light on there, which means I can do a good ride with no camelbak in the summer. (I have become anti-backpack if at all possible.) It is great to have a bike that you really don't care about, that you don't have to baby, you don't have to wash if you don't feel like it.

     I figure as I replace parts on my nice bike I can give the hand-me-downs to this bike and it will be slowly upgraded over time. I like that the suspension fork is on there, as I like the more upright position the taller front end affords. But I have been thinking I may get a rigid fork to simplify the bike further. As long as I can find one with the axle-crown length close to what it is now I will do it.
     Then I will end up with Dual Rigid 26er, which isn't too hip these days, but about perfect for off season riding on dirt roads around here. My dad has been riding these types of bike with a vintage twist for years in Maine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fringe Bikes

     Sometimes I think about bikes. Okay, a lot of the time I think about bikes. I always play the "what bike do want now" game in my head. Doing research online, checking different stuff out. It changes over time. I have a road bike and it is perfectly great for road biking. It is a nice bike, and I love road bikes because you hardly have to maintenance them compared to mtn bikes. They barely get dirty ever. I love that. So I never think about road bikes.
     I am always thinking about mountain bikes though. I have 4 of them. But am continually interested in different ones than the ones I have. Lately I have been thinking about two different kinds.


     My dad got a Pugsley over Xmas and I got to ride it around some. I even did a 12 mile road ride on it. On snowy-ass crappy-plow-job Maine roads. It was fun as heck! I was incredibly surprised at how well it rode. I figured I would go twice as slow as on a normal bike, but I think it was more like 25% slower. And it makes up for slowness with the fact that it will ride over damn near anything you can pedal it on. I want one.
     There is a rapidly growing movement of folks who love these bikes, and ride them on snow, sand, and whatever else a normal mtn bike sucks on. Heck you can ride them on normal trails and I have a feeling they would be super fun there too! I think the Northern Midwest and Northern New England is ideal for these bikes. These areas usually have tons of snowmobile trails around, and the snow is often dense and hard. I am not certain I would get a ton of use out of it here where I live, as the snow we get in the mountains here is deep, and super low density. All the snowmobile trails are up in the mountains. There aren't any that close to my house. Yellowstone Park would be epic on a fatbike in winter, but for some stupid reason aren't allowed in the winter season. If that should change I think it would be game on. I mostly ride dirt roads in the winter in the valleys, which are usually fine for a normal mtn bike. I like being able to ride out my door during the week.

And for that I think I might like to try a:

Singlespeed rigid 29er.

     Speaking of dirt roads in the valleys....I think this type of bike here would be great for them. Super simple, reliable, dirt road cruiser. Back to the roots of mtn biking.  Most of the valley roads are fairly flat which may make it okay to ride singlespeed. Also, this would be a cheap platform to check out the 29er situation, of which I am still somewhat suspect but very curious.
     Not that I need another bike. But that's beside the point. No one ever NEEDS a new bike. But when you wake up at 4am and need something to do, sometimes you think about bikes. At least I do.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Finally A Night Ride

Good to get out last night. Did about an hour of uphill. It was 40 out and windy, pretty warm really. My feet didn't even get cold. I haven't been riding at night cuz my old light crapped out on me and I am waiting for a new one. I borrowed the Cateye commuter light off Steph's town bike, and had a headlamp on, and it worked just fine. Two cars passed me on Swingley, which is roughly paved for about a mile, then dirt. There is no snow in Livingston now, just a few drifts in the ditches. I will keep riding till we get some real winter conditions. The mountain snowpack is really poor, and 3 people died in avalanches last weekend so I think the splitboard is staying home till things improve out there.