Thursday, May 31, 2007

29er Tubeless Wheels

I've been starting to look into a tubeless wheelset for my Niner, since I swear by tubeless on my Reign and DHi. I'd also like to have two wheelsets so that I can keep one with my town nearly-slicks, and one with my trail tires. I am fairly adamant about UST as the tubeless system. I've used Stan's rim strips before and think they suck. Bontrager might be ok, but why did they not do UST and create yet another mechanism - I don't like that kind of thing. I heard Mavic will have 29er UST wheels/rims soon. I checked in with Speedgoat on things, and here's what they had to say.

No, the Stan's rims are not UST-compatible. Neither are Bontragers. There are currently no UST-specific 29er rims, and, given your weight, you'll potentially experience bad times trying to run a converted regular-tire/sealed up rim setup on a 29er (hope you don't ride on rocks). Mavic will be releasing a 29er wheels fairly soon, and it does look pretty damn nice. We may well start seeing 29er UST tires, too, though they'll be from the like of Hutchinson and Michelin only, and will probably weigh over 1,000g each.

Best to wait on the Mavic then, or go with an Industry 9 Stan's Flow wheelset. The I9 stuff is amazing, but we've never had a single order for their hubs alone. Everyone wants the wheelsets, and with good reason. They're just plain excellent, but again, they're not UST.

So yes, I'll be waiting for Mavic. Normally I also only run true UST tires, so it'll be interesting to see what comes out there. I've run a lot of converted tires, but they don't work as well usually, so I've gone with only UST. In 26" wheel land, there are plenty of UST choices in the 2.3-2.5 (and upwards) range these days, so it's no longer a problem. But in 29er land, it may be a challenge for a while.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cycling Podcasts

I just found the Crooked Cog podcast, courtesy of the site. Haven't listened to it yet, but looks like it has potential. I've listened to a couple of Specialized's podcasts. What others are out there that are at least halfway good?

I should note that I'm familiar with VeloNews, Bicycing magazine, Zipp, and various other more commercial entries, but haven't been interested in those. Obviously everyone's taste varies, but if you have ones you really like, lemme know!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Oakridge: Middle Fork Ride

I gathered with 14 other riders for a ride setup by the Disciples of Dirt, which is Eugene's very active mtb group (which mostly amounts to a slew of folks on the same mailing list, who do a lot of riding, and a lot of trail maintenance!). Two of the folks, Andy and Megan, had driven down for the weekend from Seattle. Andy was probably one of the best riders of the group, and Megan hung just fine (and was a Daily Distraction to boot). This was a "Slow Boyz" ride as the DoD group has a few self-classified sub-groups (others include the "X-Men" who are the hardcore guys that are out to win the Creampuff (which makes the death ride look easy), 3 of which we came across going the other way, as they did the 50 mile variant of our ride, primarily on single speeds).

The ride was aptly named Slow Boyz. There were some good riders, but it was a bit of a party ride - each stop was a bit longer than at least I (and a few others) would like, but that's also par for the course with 15 people on a ride! The people were all very friendly and nice, and it was a nice mix, likely age range from about 30-50 (I know one guy was 50). The courtesy level was very high, and the DoD hosts were great about keeping everyone together and ensuring folks knew where to go, etc.

We rode the Middle Fork trail in Oakridge. This is a great trail. There was still snow at the top so we put in a bit lower (Chuckle Springs), but overall got in 22 miles of 100% singletrack! We were out riding for 5.5 hours. During that time I kid you not, we must have done 20 creek crossings, about half of which were not really rideable, and also went over these awesome log bridges (probably a half dozen of them - killer views of the river while walking across - wish I had my camera). The trail was primarily flat/rolling - even with 23 miles, we only did 1100' of climbing, and 2600' of descending.

Not as technical as I'm used to, but I got the impression that it was on the more technical side for the area(?), as there aren't a lot of rocky trails there (technical = rocky, for me). It sounds like the more technical or harder trails there tend to be super steep stuff. I plan to get out to "Heckletooth" and "Larikin" (sp?) soon. Also Tire Mountain and I think it was Black Bear or something. I've ordered up the super sweet laminated Tread maps of all this stuff. And then there's Willamette Pass, which is a small ski area, but does the lift-served stuff in the summer, and puts on a bunch of DH races, etc. I will be hitting this hopefully, as I hear it's quite good. There is also Oregon Adventures ( that does shuttle and guide service. Randy and his crew sported two vans to shuttle us up to yesterday's ride. This was very cool, and I plan to use that service again for sure (as well as possibly some guided rides, so I can learn the trails faster).

Anyway, the trail is a river trail, meaning we followed the river the whole time, crossing back and forth a few times. I rode my rigid Niner (to the disbelief of nearly everyone on the ride - there were a couple Nomads, a few other Santa Cruz's, a Turner, two Reigns, and then a couple hardtails, etc.). The Niner performed superbly! I am absolutely sold on the bigger wheels acting like a form of limited suspension. I won't say it was a plush, but the thing just charged that trail, and I love it. I am fairly beat today - my feet are sore, and my shoulder is sore from all the bike portages over creeks and bridges (I usually hang my saddle on my shoulder, which isn't overly comfy to begin with). I also ran out of water with over an hour of time to go.

After the ride, we hit the Trailhead Coffee Shop, for beers and dinner. The whole thing with at least the Slow Boyz is very social, and it was a fun time. Nice that folks are so welcoming and friendly. THC has got to be making a good half of it's revenue from mountain bikers, as 100% of the folks in there at dinner were post-ride, and we met there in the morning as well, where some folks were grabbing breakfast, we got coffee, etc. Anyway, finally drove home, and rolled in about 10pm. A pretty long day given that I'd met the carpool folks at 8:30am. All in all a lot of fun, and I'm psyched to see the various other trails. I definitely plan to ride with the Slow Boyz again (the Creampuff is not my idea of fun).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ridgeline Ride Today - Lots of Off-shoots

I rode the Ridgeline trails in Eugene this morning. It's a small place, but boy are there a ton of little off-shoots! I really need to spend some time with the GPS there and map stuff out - so many interesting looking little chunks of singletrack. Today I did the main drop down towards Amazon Parkway, but at a fork at the bottom I went left. This took me over to W. Amazon which lead back to Fox Hollow, which I then rode back up to the park and did another loop on the main trail. Quick and fun.

This was also only my second ride on dirt on the Niner. Definitely still getting used to lack of suspension (I nearly ate it on a relatively mild rooted descent). The bike rolls so nicely though, just have to learn how to ride it better in the rougher terrain. Tomorrow's ride at Oakridge (never been there) ought to be interesting :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ordered: RockShox Lyrik 2-Step Air Fork

I bit the bullet tonight, and ordered up a new fork for my Giant Reign. My Nixon has failed too many times, and is being sent back again. They hopefully will send me a brand new fork, that I can then just sell and be done with.

So, ordered a RockShox Lyrik 2-Step Air Fork. These things are grossly expensive, but, uh, well, uh, ok, I have no way to rationalize it. Why did I choose this fork, especially given that I've stayed away from RockShox for soooo long now? Basically, it had the right mix of things for me: 20mm Maxle (didn't have to be Maxle, but 20mm axle is the only way to go for me), adjustable travel, and adjustable under 160 where the fork performance is not diminished/altered, ok weight, not a Manitou, etc. Fox 32's don't have 20mm, and I didn't want to go with a Fox 36. Marzocchi doesn't have a 20mmm axled for that fits the bill either. Maverick could have been interesting, but I guess I didn't trust them in terms of how it'll hold up.

This weekend, since my Reign has no working fork, I'll be riding the Niner at Oakridge. This is my first time to Oakridge now that I've moved to Eugene, and I'm quite excited to get out there and see what all the hubbub is about! We'll see how badly I want my Reign back (or not!?) after riding the fully rigid Niner.

Avid Matchmakers

I recently installed some Avid Matchmakers on my Niner. These things are great little widgets. Short story: if you have Juicy brakes, and newer SRAM trigger shifters, get some Matchmakers and unclutter your bars! In addition to uncluttering, the other big win is that you can take the brake and shifter off without removing grips (you could do this with brakes before, but the shifter clamp was single bolt). Sure, I use lock-on grips, which make this easy as well, but the whole thing is just a nicer overall setup. I highly recommend them.

Also, for those who may be wondering - there is some adjustment in terms of how the two levers are positioned in relation to each other. The shifter mounts to a bolt on the brake lever's clamp. This bolt fits within a hole that gives you rotational movement, allowing you to rotate the shift lever either all the way up against the brake lever, or maybe as much as half an inch away. I run mine nearly right up against the brake lever, so it's a non-issue for me, but I suspect the range would suit nearly everyone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Bits and Bobs

I've returned from a week of travel, and am very eager to be back on the bike. While I was gone, I received a new Syncros FL Stem, and the Panaracer Rampage 29er tires. This weekend I'm planning to head out to a local, small trail system here in Eugene, with my GPS and maybe camera, and map it out. The trail map I have shows it as a simple line, but in fact, it's at least a loop, and has several off-shoots. Nothing spectacular, but as a fun exercise I'll go map it out and try out the Niner with some real mtb tires and such.

I may sport the Endura Humvee 3/4 shorts again too. I'm still mixed on whether I can pull off the nicker variant, but I like these things a lot. They're nice and light, the cell phone pocket works very well for me for town riding (unlike the review I read - but super fit messenger boy probably gets more movement out of it than me :) They're an ideal town riding short/knicker.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I've Forgotten How To Ride Casually

I realized today, as I pedaled around town, that casual riding feels completely foreign to me. I've ridden in such a serious, competitive, or hard core way for so long now, that I can't get on a bike and not want to go hard, wear the full gear, etc. I can't seem to bring myself to get on a bike and not be wearing a $100+ chamois, gloves, cycling shoes, and so on. Not wearing a helmet is out of the question (and should be required for anyone whose brain is worth saving; if you think you don't need to wear a helmet...).

Anyway, so I'm relearning how to ride "casually." How to ride at a pace where I don't break a sweat, to fully enjoy the scenery, to ride with no intention other than to be on a bike and out enjoying life, ride for transportation, or whatever. It's been fun getting back to this. Don't get me wrong, I am still going to be hammering whenever I can, but this adds a new dimension to my cycling life, and I love it.

Today I actually hit the grocery store as part of my ride. Picked up a few things for dinner. It was the first time I've locked up a bike (other than on my car's rack), probably since college!

The next phase in this process is to ride into town and work a few hours in a coffee shop (Wandering Goat probably) once in a while. Luckily the big hills are always on the way home, so I can coast and soft-pedal it down to the shop, then get the workout on the way home. This way I also won't be stinking out my cafe mates :)

Schwalbe Big Apple 29x2.35 Tires

Got a chance to put in some good time on the Schwalbe Big Apple 29x2.35 tires today. What a blast. They're basically a nearly-slick cruiser tire - big volume, great ride. I did an all-pavement, town ride today. Goofed around on and off sidewalks and other urban areas, powered up some solid climbing, ripped some very fast descents. These things are just so fun. They provide some much desired extra suspension on the fully rigid Niner, and I'm looking forward to the Panaracer Rampage 2.3's that are on the way for off-road duty.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Great 29er Shirt

I am pretty tempted to order this shirt: 29 Inches and Rigid.

A Fully Rigid Transition - Rich's Take

One of my Team Baggy buddies, Rich, had some great words in response to my first real 29er ride, so consider this a guest entry:

I think you're on your way to becoming a fully rigid 29er singlespeeder and you just don't know it yet! Not quite, but I do think you will ride that bike more, and come to love it, perhaps more than any other bike you are currently riding. Here's why, in my own experience, I say that: First, it is a simple bike and will always be ready to ride right out the garage with no fuss. ( That aint no NIXON Fork on there ) and second you will be riding this bike right out the garage, whenever you want, on your own schedule, for whatever pupose your heart desires. In other words this bike will bring you back to the true freedom of the wheels that our first bikes brought us when we were kids. You will get to know the lay of the land in your new community looking over the front end of this bike and so, in a way, it will become your best friend for exploring the local rides available to you. And, I've discovered this for myself on the monocog, because the bike is fully rigid you don't want to load it up in a car and take it to Grouse Ridge. That's a good thing because what it means is that this bike is aching to rock out on the "trails in the hood"! Give me buff dirt roads, give me swoopy "easy" single track near town, give me mixed dirt and road rides that I'd never even looked twice at before on my road bike or my F.S. mtn bike....You'll be out on the niner for short "workout" rides close to town and you won't need to spend an hour prepping the bike, drive anywhere, or scare up a ride buddy, just plug in your i-pod and go ride for an hour or two. A month from now your fitness level will be way up and the sky is the limit as to how far you want to go with challangeing yourself in this regard. Monday, after getting back from Moab, I looked at my tired, muddy, sqeaky, loose pivot linkage, Blur and said "thanks for all the great rides in Moab" and then turned my back on her ( instead of spending two hours cleanaing her up for the next ride) and rode the moncog to Nevada City and back on a variety of dirt roads and pavement. I bought a beverage in N.C. and sat on a bench and watched the middle aged shopper hotties strut their stuff between botique shops ( thinking, "thank God she's not my wife!") before hopping back on my ride and dissapearing into the wooods on the "backside" of town. I'm glad I had the Blur to ride in Moab, but for the close to home stuff, I love the monocog. I think you'll even come to love the fully rigid bit of it. It will force you to re-think your riding style as you've already noticed. You'll find yourself out of the saddle looking for the sweet line that "flows" Once you start riding like that, and you happen to go our for a "real" ride on the Reign, you will be amazed at how well you climb and fly over obstacles in ways you never even considered before. You will be more effecient and fit and ride with a new sense of "flow" and it will all be better than ever before thanks to that rigid 29er of yours! just a few thoughts and predictions from my own experiences....Rich

Initial Review of Pearl Izumi Alp-X Mid Shoes

I picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi's Alp-X Mid shoes, mainly as a "town riding" shoe. My intent was to have a shoe that could use clipless pedal cleats, but also be comfy to hang out in while sitting in a coffee shop for a few hours, and also not look too dorky. I've had a few hours on these shoes now...

First, fit is great, very comfy shoes. They also are light weight, and seem to breathe well. Most of my riding buddies think they're ugly, although they've only seen the online pics. I think they're pretty nice actually, and they're slightly more subdued, and less space-agey than the web site picture.

These shoes will definitely rock for riding around town: comfy, easy to walk in, and most folks probably won't even notice they're a cycling shoe, and will just think they're trail running shoes. But, they are NOT shoes to use for serious riding. They're more squishy in the foot-bed overall. So while the shoe sole/shank itself is stiff, they feel squishy when you stand up and hammer on the pedals. If you're spinning, you don't notice it at all, and they're simply nice.

Thus, so far, they definitely satisfy the goals I had when I bought them. And, I may even use them for various mtb riding as well, we'll see.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

First Real Ride On 29er

Today I did what I'll call my first "real" ride on my new 29er. By that I simply mean it was of decent length, and involved trails (even if it was a small chunk of the ride). There are two very short trails within town, so decided to see what it was like to ride over to one of them from my house, ride it and come back. The quick of it:

Distance: 13.7 miles
Time: approx 1 hour 45 mins (of which about 20 mins was on dirt :(
Ascent: 2300'

The trail, Ridgeline, was quite buff - with scenery/surroundings that made me think a lot of Skeggs/El Corte de Madera in the Bay area: shady with tons and tons of trees, lush, buff trail with a few small rooted sections. It was actually the perfect intro to a dirt ride on the rigid 29er. It is going to take some getting used to to be fully effective on a rigid bike! The thing rolls really well, and it climbs quite well. But, I did a small little drop off, and wham, uh, ya, there'd be no give at all in the rear end :) Interestingly enough, it's really the rear suspension that I miss/notice the most. I think the front is more obvious, and I'm lifting the front wheel as needed more. I will most definitely be getting some fatter tires for mtb riding (and I already received the Schwalbe Big Apple 2.35 mostly-slicks for town riding). The bike definitely rails the buff singletrack, very direct-drive. Any way you slice it though, it's a fun ride, just have to re-train my brain a bit. One note... I haven't played with tire pressure much on this bike yet I was running the tires pretty hard, mainly cuz I've been riding on pavement a lot. For real dirt riding, I could go lower pressure, plus, as said, I'd use something bigger (I'm riding the WTB Nanoraptor 2.1's, will likely go with some Panaracer Rampage 2.35's).

The ride overall was nice, mainly because I got out for a couple hours on my bike in beautiful weather, and got to be on some dirt (even if it was weak). About 30 mins in I was pretty hurtin' and just bummin' over my fitness. But, by the end, cranking up some seriously steep hills, I was enjoying it a lot, and much more positive. Hopefully this ride, and some others will become a multi-day per week event going forward. Working at home again I'm feeling I'll be able to do that.

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