Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday Fargo Adventuring.

I've often thought it would be fun to ride from Northfield to the Lebanon or Murphy trails in the cities on gravel. Sunday was a great afternoon for just such an adventure north. The humidity was dropping, and the wind was out of the northwest. This meant an into the wind out and back, with a nice tail wind all the way home. With the wind direction, I figured Murphy would be the goal for the night. I left Northfield at 4 pm figuring that about 6 hours of daylight would be enough for a ride there and back.

Heading in the general direction of Murphy, I set off to find whatever gravel roads I could going north. I left pavement just north of the Northfield Hospital and rode into the wind. I looked at a map a bit before I left, but it's pretty hard to get actually lost. On the west side of everything you have Interstate 35, and on the east side you have Cedar Avenue or Highway 3. With these rough boundaries, I figured if I just rode northwest I'd eventually get there.The gravel roads were in really good shape. The recent rains have kept the dust down, but the surface was plenty dry and quite hard. Parts of the route verged on what Gnat has dubbed Hero Gravel. Even into the wind, the miles seemed to just clip along. The route I took followed some winding gravel with nice rolling hills. My legs felt great, the gravel passed easily beneath my wheels.Speaking of wheels, the Crests laced to 240's make for an impressive combination. The build seems plenty stiff for the smooth roads I'll be riding. They spin up wonderfully and seem to just roll. I generally find myself in a few gears harder than I was used to riding on the XT/Flow/XDX wheel set and these certainly coast better. I set up a set of Race Kings tubeless on these and I'm very happy with their performance. They were east to set up with a floor pump, the are holding air well, and they roll very well. They seem to grip very well, and I've heard that they wear like iron. After about 180 miles on this setup I'm sold. Fargo at rest.I really like riding without a plan. Especially on new to me roads, it allows for a huge sense of freedom I think. Without a set route to think about there is no need for a pace. There is nothing to think about in terms of getting anywhere at a set time, and there are no points of reference to look forward too or to strive towards. I had the singular goal of getting to the Murphy Hanrehan Park, and getting home before 10 pm.

I knew beforehand that the trail system would be closed when I got there due to rain. I had no intention of riding when I got there, I only to see how it best I could get there and to use the facilities. There was one slight flaw in my plan of not looking at a map. It turns out Murphy is a pretty large place. I ended up on the wrong end of the park. On the southeast corner of the park, there is only trail access for horse and walking trails. They are pretty explicit on intended use with no biking signs posted very clearly.

Looking at my iPhone map this was actually a bit of a problem. I would have to back track quite a bit to either get to the northeast side of the park, or to get to the road on the southwest side that runs up to the mtb portion of the park. As this trail access point did not have bathrooms, I needed to make it up to the mtb trail head. There was a trail that made it's way to the gravel ring road. It was about .6-.7 miles based on my rudimentary map reading skills. With no real option, I just ran it. It was kind of a nice break from the saddle and semi tired muscles.The park is really beautiful on this side. It's a mix of broken, rolling prairie with tufts of woods thrown in. I love looking at the tall grass waiving in the wind. As a midpoint break during the day, this was about as good as it gets. I have to admit that I did ride my bike through a few places that were submerged with water, or where horses had left presents all over the trail. I gotta say, I was again happy that I had fenders installed in both of these cases!The gravel road bordering the park is a pretty low key affair. It's flat on the south side and really nicely rolling heading north on the west side. There were some unmistakable WTB Vulpine tire tracks along the dusty shoulder. These are not terribly common tires other than on XT Fargo completes. Perhaps another Fargo had recently been through.Horse traffic on the road. I got off and walked past them, but the horse still freaked out a bit. I definitely give these animals a ride berth. I've spooked horses in the past on bike, it's not a pretty sight. Thankfully there were no riders on them when it happened, but it's something I'd like to avoid.The rest at the trail head was really nice. I took the chance to down a few Clif bars, stoke up some fresh Nuun bottles and to stretch out for a bit. Though the shade was a nice break from the sun, I didn't have long to stop. It was 7:15 at this point and I had at least 30 miles to get home.

Given the time constraints, I did look at the map to get me back to Lakeville's Airlake Airport as quick as possible. That's where the gravel starts again. The ride past the Burnsville Mall, Buck Hill, and Crystal Lake is actually pretty nice for being the suburbs. Traffic is quite light along the whole route, and even for tar it's quite pretty. A portion of Highview Avenue has a nice bike path along most of the busiest sections of the road. With the wind at my back and smooth rolling roads, I clipped along nicely. Truthfully this was on a slight downhill with the wind, but I was in the flats just cruising along. The route transitions back to dead calm gravel just behind the airport. I only saw one car on the road from Lakeville back to the north edge of Northfield. Even with tiring legs, the gravel and wind combined to make for a very pleasant roll home. The sunset at about 9:10 that night was just gorgeous. I was very glad to have been out in the country with an unobstructed view. It was a great reward at the end of a very rewarding ride.Have a good one. Get lost somewhere.

Friday, June 25, 2010

For Wally.

When are you coming up? All this is less than 10 miles from my house.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trek Absorbs Fisher Brand.

I'm sure you all hvae heard this from one legitimate source by now, but Trek has officially absorbed the Fisher bike line. The bikes themselves will largely remain unchanged. They will be known as Trek bikes from the Fisher Collection. This is a really smart business move for Trek, and it will benefit us as dealers as well. Check out Trek's website for the full 2011 line up of the Fisher Collection.

Here's my favorite, the new Sawyer Cruiser. Sliding, belt drive compatible dropouts, geared configuration stock, really cool frame and fork, and $1400 msrp. It's going to be a killer bike. I've already back ordered several for the shop. If you want one of these, let me know now. With the internet buzz these are already getting, they bikes are going to likely be hard to get. I am totally in love with cruisers. I'll be getting on for myself for sure.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sad News

We were just informed that a second young person in less than a year has died in a bike related auto accident in Faribault. Blake Beske was hit by a car while riding on a busy road in town. He was not wearing a helmet. We will post up more information as it becomes available. Our thoughts go out to the friends and family.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Flowers

The flowers in bloom last weekend were awesome. Here's some of the better shots. Wild flower fields. Gated Columbine. Orange.My favorite, wild Iris.Happy Friday all.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

CAMBA Trails Ride Weekend.

Last weekend I joined some friends up in Cable WI to ride the CAMBA Trail Network. The were up there for the Festival of Trails. I had to work on Saturday, so Meg and I joined them on Sunday afternoon for a few days of riding and relaxation.This was my first time up to these trails. I don't know why I waited so long to get up there. We really only had a day and half of riding, so I only rode a few of the trails. The ones we rode were nothing short of stunning. We rode the full Rock Lake Loop, a bit of the Wilson Lake trails, and some trails off of the Seeley cluster. Of these the classic Rock Creek loop was my favorite. The Hildebrand Lake Loop was just awesome. The high point of the loop for me was the Wall Street rock section. I fell on the first attempt, but cleaned the second. For a rigid bike, I thought that was pretty good! I neglected to take any pictures of the section, but there is a low quality cell phone video proving the attempt. It was awesome.This was also the maiden voyage for the new fat front, Larry tire/Salsa Enabler/Rohloff equipped Karate Monkey freak bike. First off the Larry tire rocks. To say it's a game changed for fat bikes is an understatement. I loved rocking the rigid fat front on this trip. The Larry tire took everything I could throw at it. It is very easy to hold a line. It serial crushed anything in front of it. I was really missing the Woodchippers by the end of the trip though. even the 17 deg Salsa bars are not doing it for me anymore. I know that I hurt in ways I would not have had I been riding my favorite bars. I'm still working on the Woodchipper/Rohloff compatibility thing though, and it wasn't going to happen before the weekend.I brought a 29er wheel built around a Surly hub laced to a Gordo rim to compare the Larry/Large Marge to. It simply doesn't even hold a candle to the traction, control, and comfort the fat front set up provides. With the Larry I found myself pushing hard into corners carrying a lot of my weight forward centered over the bars. I rode very much like riding a motorcycle. I only once broke the Larry's traction bad enough to fall. That was more due to a outside corner soil change to suddenly very loose than the tire losing traction. I thought that the larger tire would be harder to ride, or that I would feel the very obvious weight difference. Neither of these things proved to be true. In a straight line over even ground you would certainly notice a difference, but through the woods over rocks and with ever present corners, it just didn't seem to matter. The fat front was obviously the clear winner through the single track.

The weekend was also my first ride on Salsa's new Enabler fork. I love it. Combined the stout wheel builds and symmetrical spoke lacing, the wide set legs made the bike handle incredibly precisely. The steering responsiveness was very noticeable and made technical and rock sections a joy to weave through. While the fork was plenty stiff laterally, it was also very compliant. This is one of the forks to utilize Salsa's new Kung Fu tubing. They claim that the fork ismore compliant than the older OX Platinum models, and I believe it. I've always said that I think Salsa offers the most comfortable rigid for the money out there. This weekend only confirms that this fork stands up to that belief.I also have to admit that I am totally in love with fork leg mounted bottle cage mounts. I find grabbing the right leg bottle easier and more intuitive than the standard down tube position. Only once did the bottle cage get in the way on the trail, and that was totally my fault. I clipped a low hanging log on the inside apex of a corner. It did bend the cage a bit and I got a little roughed up. Neither I or the equipment was really any worse for the wear though.Monday proved to be stunner of a day weather wise. We rode most of the day in 73 deg full sunny weather. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the air was not humid at all. After riding Rock Creek in the morning, we took a midday outdoor pool break to refresh, then rode at the OO trail head in the afternoon. It really was a near perfect day of riding. I think if all my days of riding could be broken up by a nice dip in a cool pool I could die pretty happy!A huge thanks to Soupboy and crew for inviting us up to join them this weekend. It was a great trip. I got a lot of riding with great people through some incredible places. That's about all a guy can ask for. This was the perfect warm up for the Fargo adventure ride and Salsa Sol Session rides as well. I'm finally feeling ready for those events. A few more days of riding and I'll be back in CAMBA territory. It'll be great to go back!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Assembly not included, thankfully.

Curt and I saw this at Menard's yesterday. How many things can you see wrong with it? Also, new shop coffee grinder, yay. Makes a guy wonder.... or not.
Happy Friday.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Another step in the right direction.

After being absent for some years, higher end accessories and components are finally making their return to our shelves. We have been without a lot of the premium crafted, elegantly beautiful, and superbly performing bike jewelry that we all like to run on our bikes. Even if you are not in the market to buy such things, at very least we are getting some nice stuff to look at.

Bringing in these items again marks a turning point for us. After a few really bad business dealings, followed by a year of recession, this is it. Things are back on track towards normal, and what better way to celebrate than with pretty, functional bike parts?

Here's where we start. The Hive is a newer company that offers some pretty innovative products. Their Fifteen G cranks are a great example of what they do. Machined in the US, the finish and quality of these cranks is stellar. They are offered in SS configurations with a 32t or 34t chainring, and a geared option with 44-32-22 ring set up. They are quite light, with a claimed weight of 666gms fr the crankset with rings. The Matching bb is not very heavy either. The cranks us a huge 30mm alloy spindle, and a unique lobed crank arm attachment. Price for the SS with the BB is $280. That puts it at about the cost of a Shimano XT crank. It's a nice alternative to the norm, while not going too far out on a limb. Very crisp machining and a nice combo of matte and polished makes these really pop.
Unlike a lot of the larger mass market cranks in this price range, these really jump out at you and scream of quality. The fit and finish is excellent. They just look like nice cranks are supposed to look.
So there's the beginning. We will have a selection of nicer components around from now on. These will likely include some nicer head sets, a few premium hub sets, quality skewers, and other things of the same ilk. I'm very excited to finally have these things around again. Stop by and check out what we have to offer.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

New Project

So I like Rohloff hubs. I really like Rohloff hubs. In my opinion they may be the ulitmate bike geek part. Rohloff hubs are so German it hurts. There is so much going on inside of one of these it's staggering. The numbers are pretty impressive too. The hub spans a 526% gear range, with 14 dead even steps of 12.6% along that. So it has a lower low and a higher high gear than a traditional 27 speed drive train. All of this is accomplished without any gear overlap.

I bought a Rohloff a long time ago for project that never materialized. I sold it, and I have been waiting for the opportunity to ride one ever since. That opportunity presented itself last night. I bought this bike. I like everything about the bike. It's the right size, it has the right parts, it has the right look, it's all there. I am not sure yet about what I am going to do with the bike itself, since the hub was what I really was looking for. For a used bike, it is built darn near to what I would have built for myself anyway. In any case it will be a fun project to play around with.

Happy hump day all.