Thursday, September 29, 2011

Milltown Cycles Fall Gravel Tour

Plans have been finalized for three fall gravel tours this year.  They will be 45-50 miles in length, self supported, group rides.  Bring water and food for yourself, know your ability level, and bring adequate maps or GPS type devices.  We will mark the courses well, and maps and cues can be printed off using links below.  We will not provide maps or cues at the start.  You can ride the routes as fast or slow as you like.  It should be a good time for riders of any skill level.

The basis for these rides is centered around the idea of having fall cycling events that are not races.  Good roads, good routes, good people.  It's as simple as that.  All you have to do is show up, ride your bike, and have a great time!

Each of these rides will show riders unique areas of southern MN riding and terrain.  They are all moderate distances, long enough that you'll know you went for a ride but not long enough to kill you.  The rides will all start at 12 noon and they are all on Sundays.  This should give anyone in the metro and south metro area time to go to church, sleep in or whatever and still make the start time easily.

The Haymaker.

The first ride is call the Haymaker.  It will be on Sunday, October 9th, and will start at noon in Red Wing.  We will meet at the Mississipi National Golf Course off of Highway 63.   Parking will either be in the lot if they are okay with it, or along the road leading to the course parking lot.  We'll be there early and will be conspicuous. The link to the course map and profile is below.  We will not have course maps available, you'll want to print your own in whatever format you'd like.    This will be the method for all three rides.

The Rawland Route.

The second route is on the traditional course of the Rawland Fall Tour.  This ride will be held on Sunday, October 23rd.  This is the route we've done in years past.  It is a glorious tour of Sogn Valley.  There are great views, hills to die for, and a bunch of classic churches. Again, this is a self supported ride, and will be marked on course as to the route. Bring maps and cues from the link below if you'd like them.  We will have obvious markers out on the course for directions.  We will meet and start from the town of Dennison MN.  It is a tiny town.  Find a place to park, (not at the gas station,) and look for a bunch of folks in lycra.

The Henderson Holler.

The third ride in the series is the Henderson Holler.  This ride will take place on Sunday, November 6th.  It starts in Le Sueur MN and strolls north through Henderson.  This will be a premarked, self supported group ride.  We will have obvious markers out on the course for directions.  Starting point for this ride will be in Le Sueur near the river, and will determined shortly.  We will be updating info here and on our Facebook Events Page.

We hope you can join us for one, two, or three of these rides.  They promise to be really great days on the bike. We'll see you there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tuesday Night Ride

With fall's chilly weather here, it's perfect weather for a longer gravel ride.  Tomorrow night we'll be meeting in Northfield at 7pm in front of Blue Monday for a night gravel ride.  We will be doing two loops, first a hilly 25 mile loop, then back through Northfield and the start of a flat 20 mile loop.  Those of you with time constraints can simply ride the first loop then head home.  Those looking for a longer ride can do both loops for a 9:30-10pm finish.  We will likely go out for some refreshing beverages afterward. 

Bring lights front and rear if you plan on coming.  We shouldn't need much to actually see, but you'll want enough of a light to be seen. 

Hope to see you there.  It should be a great ride!

Friday, September 02, 2011

This week's gravel.

This week I've gotten some killer rides in out and around Valley Grove and just north east of Northfield towards Cannon Falls.  Some rides I've been solo, others have been with Jerry of Monkey See, Monkey Read in Northfield.  With the exception of a few spots of crazy sketchy fresh gravel, the roads are in great shape.  Things have been dry for a while so dust is a bit of an issue if the wind is down.

Jerry and I got out on a fine little ride this past weekend.  We headed out towards Cannon Falls under lightly overcast skies.  High Plains Trail is one of my favorite roads in the area, and it didn't disappoint.  The road is aptly named.  It winds along one of the little plateaus between Northfield and Cannon Falls, but is mostly flat.  It's pretty little field country and it's really quiet.  The day started out quite chilly.  52 degrees had me in wool and knickers and Jerry in long sleeves.

In the middle of the valley just over the hills from the Carleton Windmill we were chased by a legitimately three legged blue healer.  It was surprisingly fast.  Good dog.

Did I mention it has been dry lately?  I love the fine dust build up on the brakes, particularly the straddle wire and hanger.  The cable has it's own thickness of dust on it, and it's actually built up to a point.  The dust on the hanger is also similarly layered.  I am making short work of getting this bike filthy.  It's fun.

Jerry had to break away at about 9am.  I lazily headed home to discover I had locked myself out of the house.  Rather than wake up my lovely waking wife I decided to head out for another 25 miles or so.  I headed out for some hills and some hang out time at Valley Grove Church.  The roads up here are just about dead white gravel.  It's great looking and super fast.

There is a great little road that runs along the upper rim of the valley.  Looking down at the idyllic hay bales make me really want to live out here.  Who wouldn't want to wake up to this every morning?  I love it out here.

The subtle clouds over the rolling corn fields were really cool.  There's a huge tree down in the center of the fields.  I'm sure it was impressive looking in it's day.

It's hard to beat Valley Grove for picturesque country church scenery.  There are a whole bunch of churches in the area.  Might be a good theme for a ride someday.

With that it's been a great week of riding.  Mr and Mrs Guitar Ted will be making there way up here this weekend.  I very much look forward to riding with both of them.  It should make for more great photos and a bunch of saddle time.

Happy Friday all, have a safe and happy weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Mukluks and 4.7" tires.

There has been a lot of talk lately online and in our shop about fitting the new 4.7" Big Fat Larry.  The new tires will easily fit into the fork on any rim currently made.  The rear presents a few challenges.

We have found a currently available solution that will allow the use of the larger tires on stock 2011 and stock 2012 Mukluks with little modification.  The 2011's are a plug and play, as they come with ISIS bb's, the 2012's require the purchase of a ISIS bb and crank arm set.

There is a crank made by Origin 8 that allows the use of the larger tires on 80mm rims in the rear of a standard alloy Mukluk with some drive train modification.  It's offset is almost assuredly less than the MWOD, (Mr Whirly Offset Double crank,) but is a much less expensive and the Q factor is almost an inch narrower.  We have these cranks in stock now.

Interestingly enough, this crank was introduced in 2009!  Guitar Ted even reviewed it!  (Photo credit to Guitar Ted, 2009.)

Up front one BB spacer should be installed on the drive side of the FSA bb.  On the rear one cog needs to be removed and replaced with a spacer behind the largest cog of the cassette spacing the gears slightly outside of their normal position.  This results in 2-3mm of clearance between the chain and tire in the low gear position.  Removing 2 gears would allow for more comfortable clearance.  I have run my bike with similar clearances all year now with no issues though.Once this is done chain line in even the 22/34 stock set up, or 22/36t set us is quite good.  You still retain most of the gears in the rear.  We have tried this with a FSA Platinum BB, I have not yet tried with with the Truvativ BB.

I have not tried these with 100mm rims as I do not have any here.  I suspect it will allow for the use of at least 6 gears in the rear, as the chain has a fair amount of clearance with 7-8 cogs installed with 80mm rims.  On the 2012 Mukluks you'll of course need a ISIS splined BB, and 22t and 32t cogs if you wish.This is of course all doable with a MWOD, these are just available now, are less expensive, and will require less changes to stock Mukluks to make this work.

So to sum up, modification and some careful mechanical adjustment are required, but it'll work well once dialed.

We are also playing with the new tires on both Mukluks and Pugsleys.  Curtis has been running the Black Floyd's on his Pug for several days now.  Curtis's impression of them so far is that they roll very well on pavement.  When leaning into corners they do tend to pull into the apex, meaning a little counter steering is required.  Anyone who has ridden motorcycles will feel immediately at home with the feeling.  This tendency is reduced at higher pressures, but that of course makes the ride harsher.  As far as looks go these are to die for.  I can't wait to see the cruiser customs that will surely sport these things.  I don't see these are really having a purpose other than being really really cool.  Any fat biker worth their salt will want a pair of these!

We've also installed Nate's on our 17" Mukluk demo bike and have been ripping things up with them.  They really roll better than you think, and the traction is simply other worldly.  It feel a bit like my old 1x1 with Large Marge's and Nokian Gazzoladdi's installed.  That bike would simply plow through, over, and on top of anything you pointed them at.  These tires feel like that, but are so much more.

They rumble on the road something fierce, but are quite quiet on dirt.  Offroad they just grip beyond belief.  I am continually trying to find stuff to push their limits, and I've not come close to finding that yet.  These are a tire that truly changes things.  Think Larry's on crack.  It won't be a good winter tire, it's just too aggressive for that.  I think for summer, early spring and wet fall these will be amazing.  They will really push the limits of where we can ride now.  The knobs, it's all about the knobs.

Big Fat Larry's are next on the list to test out.  I'll hold specific judgement on these until I have some more time on them, but these are cool.  They are bigger by far, and are much lighter than the 27tpi Larry or Endomorph tires.  That's right, I said they are lighter than the 27tpi tires.  Ones we've weighed have been 150-200gms lighter!  That's a big weight savings for two tires of nearly a pound, while being larger.  These are going to be really really cool.

All for now.  I'll update as soon as possible on all of these topics.