Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4th Training Ride

I got out to the island today hoping for some snow but it held off until I was ready to leave. Go figure!

Current setup: Aluminum 31.8 On-One Mary handlebar, ESI Chunky grips, SRAM X9 shifters, and Truvativ 110mm stem

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exploring Credit Island

I did some exploring at Credit Island today and altogether I got about 10.5 miles. Trails are too squishy from the snow melt so I had to improvise. Found some sand, some muck, and some peace and quiet. Oh and a tank.

Tech: I've been using a chromoly steel On-One Mary handlebar for the last month and it is a revelation. Loads of leverage and so much easier to handle and lift the bike. I've got 27TPI Surly Nate tires on the front and rear also. I've never known such traction!

The better half gets a fat bike!

She couldn't resist, she had to have one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First real snow of the season!

We finally got a good snow storm here in the Midwest with roughly 5-7 inches here in the Quad Cities. What's a guy with a fat bike supposed to do with all that snow on the ground?! Grab a buddy and go ride!

A fellow fatbiker by the name of Ray took the day off work to hit as many trails in the area as he could. He conquered Sunderbruch Park this morning and we met up at Sylvan Island this afternoon. The island is a great place to get your bike dialed in for the snowy conditions since you're never very far from the parking lot if you need tools, a tire pump, or a first aid kit.

Since this was my first real snow ride, I had a lot to learn. Here's a few notable characteristics of snow biking I discovered today:
  • Off-camber? You will slide or drift.
  • Attempt to lean into a corner? You will slide or drift.
  • Try to stand on a climb? You will slide or drift.
Ok you get the point. Snow biking seems to be all about sliding and drifting. If you're riding with Ray and I then you can throw giggling and a jolly good time in there too. 

Now there is a few things I learned to mitigate some of the slide/drift tendencies of the snow bike. First, put your seat up so you can get a full leg extension. I couldn't climb very well at all because as soon as I tried to stand up just a little bit for some extra power, the weight shift to the handlebars took too much off the back wheel and it would just slide. With the seat up, I could get good power while still keeping my weight on the back wheel. Also, be persistent when climbing. The back wheel grips pretty well with the right tire pressure(4psi for me) and a lot of weight on it. Second, don't even bother leaning unless you're intentionally trying to induce a drift because that's exactly what you'll get into. I keep the bike up, take it easy, ride slow and have fun. If you're an experienced mountain biker, you'll get the hang of it after a couple miles of fresh powder riding.

Where's the pics?! Oh here they are!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Day Ride!

What a difference a day makes! New Years Eve temperatures were nearly 50° F, but today was much more wintry around the freezing mark with 50mph winds! 

I layered the clothes on and made it out to Sylvan Island for a 7.5 mile ride. Some trees were down due to the wind, but the trails weren't too bad even though we got some rain over the last week.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Shoes!

With winter here and the ground turning into an unpredictable sloppy mess, I decided it was time for some new shoes. On my first fat ride at Sylvan Island, I got stuck in the mud and had to hop off and haul the bike back to solid ground. My shoes were an unholy mess and some of the muck got up and over the collar and inside my shoes. My socks were ruined and the rest of the ride wasn't as fun as it could have been.

The new shoes would have to be a boot of some kind for sure. The warmth and ankle support are desperately needed as well as the ability to block rocks and other debris from getting in. I knew I wanted a boot of some kind, but it would have to be light and flexible like skate shoe. I checked out the Tradehome shoe store at the mall but I couldn't find anything that suited me well. After looking through their Merrell catalog, I found what I was looking for...

The Merrell Eagle Origins

These boots weigh about 4 ounces less than the pair of Merrell Chameleon 3 that I've been wearing for the last year. They are warm and the ankle support is great! Also, the soles are very grippy on any surface and the pins on my flat pedals really dig in keeping foot placement more secure and allowing me to ride more confidently.

I ordered mine from where they were on sale for $89.95 ($109.95 original price) and I got free shipping! Google is your friend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First ride at Sylvan Island

I got the Mukluk out to Sylvan Island at lunch today. The weather was decent for late December and the trails were fairly well packed even though we got a little rain yesterday. The soil at Sylvan is really good at draining and it's very resistant to rutting.

I haven't ridden the island in a few months. Honestly, I haven't been the biggest fan of the island so I have been avoiding it. However, after today's ride, my opinion of the island has changed considerably.  The island is the only place to ride without messing up the trails right now, and that's probably how it's going to be for the next few months. With all the leaves off the trees and the plant life dormant, the trails are much easier to follow and you can link a lot of the trails together and get some good loops going. In the summer time, I couldn't get any flow going.

I got a little overconfident and made an attempt to ride the beach on the west side of the island. I managed to ride the sandy portion effortlessly but when I reached the silt my back tire dug in and I got stuck. I had to jump off the bike into ankle deep mud and pull the Mukluk out and back up to the sand. This was one of the many giggle moments of the ride.

Much of the difficulty in riding the island comes from the terrain. There are random bricks, large roots, railroad ties and tracks, rocks, and bridges. The Mukluk makes riding this terrain way more fun! It just plows over everything!

Some quick tech: Yesterday, I managed to install my new SKS Grand DAD and Grand MOM fenders to keep the mud and water off me as much as possible. They are working splendidly and installation was a breeze! I also picked up some SRAM X9 trigger shifters to replace the stock SRAM X7 grip shifters. I just can't use the grips shifters effectively. The triggers are way easier to operate and it's fast!