Monday, August 27, 2007

The IF Versus Mt Spokane

The IF got some mileage on it and I got a chance to see if my choices were good ones. Since there are so many small factors that go into putting a bike together it is difficult for me to pinpoint the degrees of effectiveness for companants but I can say what how my riding feels different.
Mt. Spokane is a rounded nob of a hill that rises to 5800 feet from the 2000 foot countryside around it. A paved road goes to the to the top during the summer and Ben, Drew and I took advantage of that fact to get a couple of shuttle runs down the mountains Southwest flank. The 6-7 mile long downhill starts off fairly steep with lots of root drops and narrow trees. For the first time ever I felt comfortable negotiating this section. In the past I felt as though at any minute I would dive over the handle bars against my will. The new sense of balance I am attributing to the new frame geometry. It was easier for me to ride behind the seat so I could not only get my weight back but also down a bit.
On the second run down we went through a freshly cut trail that chicanes through some tightly spaced young pines. Either due to complacency or fatigue I managed to catch the outside of my barend on a tree while trying to slalom through. It is good to get the first wreck out of the way and aside from a sore place on my side, it was pretty harmless. The accident made me think about how wide my bars really are. The Surly Instigator bar is a whopping 26.2 inches long with a 20 degree bend. This is not the best choice for tight singletrack but the rest of the time I was loving the comfort of the scorcher like steel bar.
After a good sleep with some fresh alpine air, I biked out to my folks for a family reunion. The three hour ride with a full back pack was a good test for the bikes comfort factor. All signs point to yes. I was happy to stroll along into the wind with my hands out at the end of the bars, pushing my 34x17 at 14-15 miles an hour. Later when the wind got behind me I could keep a reasonable cadence and roll at 18 mph.
Without a doubt I could not be happier with my new bike. I have no doubt that it will keep me happy for a long time to come. I was additionally pleased my Dad looked the bike over and said,"looks like a normal bike". I have had one or two flashy bikes in the past and never felt at peace with them. This black bomber may not be fancy looking but that is a good thing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

...and there was joy.

I have a new bike. What I don't have is a camera. My beloved Sony is not feeling well so pictures of the new steed will have to wait. What won't wait is riding. I have been doing some shakedown riding the last 24 hours. Tonight I am planning a full scale night ride and then tomorrow I am heading to Mt Spokane for a couple of days of up and down on freshly moistened trails.
My impression of the new set up is that the bars are too high and the seat not far enough back. I committed myself to staying with the prescribed set up for at least a couple of weeks. I could see how this bar position could help my hand problems but it may be at the expense of my ass.
I had some confusion with the disc brakes. Being a bit of a Luddite I have been reluctant to get on the disc program but lack of brake posts on suspension forks has forced my hand. Everyone talks about how easy the Avids are to setup and how powerful they are. I set them up and got zero power. After some consultations I got the lowdown on pad break-in. A quick lap around the neighborhood while squeezing the brakes and now they stop like champs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Idaho Sweet Idaho

I have been doing some research on the Iron Horse trail. The 300 mile rail trail crosses Washington and finishes up just south of Spokane. The thing is the more I learn about the route the less I want to do it. Sand, sagebrush, poorly maintained sections and miles of scenery that can only be described as scablands. Then I find out about the Idaho Centennial Trail, a 1200 mile route that goes border to border on the North-South Axis. The course appears to be chock full of singletrack. I have done hiking and biking in several of the areas it crosses and know the trails to be extremely challenging. The state park's website has a thorough index of map PDF's. I will definitely have to put this on the to-do list but after the GDR.
In other Gem state news...
Despite doing my growing up elsewhere I have always considered Boise a second hometown. Though I have not been back to the city of my birth since I raced the Boise Banzai years ago, I imagined that things were pretty much the same down there. I am wrong. I heard talk of Boise's Urban Cycling scene growing huge. Now I have some solid evidence. This alleycat race video shows an impressive turnout and an unfortunate bike/car misshap.

As a bonus I include a nearly successful over-the-road jump in the hills below Bogus Basin.

Monday, August 6, 2007

s24o: Sandpoint Road Loop

After work Saturday I packed a very basic overnight kit into a back pack (17 pounds total weight) and headed north. I followed Highway 2 to Sandpoint (80 miles). I originally thought that I was going to spend the night on the beach but favorable wind got me into town early so after having some coffee and pastries I continued on my way. I went south on Highway 95 across the Long Bridge. A full belly, late day sun and a bike lane that is wider than the highway it is coupled with made for some happy riding. I made it to Athol (110 miles) by 9:00 p.m. and really wanted to keep going but I realized that if I didn't stop I would be tempted to just ride home rather than sleep in the bushes. Since the point of the trip was to get an overnight in, I headed East into Farragut State Park to poach a piece of ground to sleep on. I cruised through the campground loops and was surprised to see that new bathrooms have been built since I was at Farragut last. The bathrooms have private rooms with free showers. No shower for me I was just interested in filling my water bottles. The bathroom sinks are too shallow to do the job so the showers came in handy.
I did not have a alarm clock so I found a big open field with the theory that the early morning light would gently wake me. The field was across the road from a campground loop and set back behind some trees and boulders. It seemed ideal. I was not expecting that the sound of trucks and cars would be coming and going ALL NIGHT LONG. Diesel engines idling, brakes squeaking, horns honking. I was amazed at the racket.
It wasn't dawn's early light that woke me, it was the sound of automatic lawn sprinklers. It seems that the field that I was in, despite it's lack of grass was some kind of activities area and was watered nightly. I moved fast and was able to pack up and get out before the water cycle began in my part of the field. By 5:00 a.m. I was back in Athol having coffee and eating a croissant egg sandwich from the deli case. Helpful Tip: Don't eat croissant egg sandwiches from gas stations in Athol, Idaho. I wasted some time trying to find Diagonal Road. I should have looked at the map a little closer because I ended up back on Highway 95 through one of the deadliest stretches of highway in the area, Luckily it was early and traffic was non-existant.
I made it home (180 miles) by 9:00 a.m. had a shower and enjoyed some real breakfast. When the ride started I was disturbed by the amount of discomfort my pack was putting on my right shoulder. Later my arse began to throb and then my hands started to show the effects of riding with no gloves and ultra thin handlebar tape. I never worry about these things much because I believe in Pain Attention Disorder. I get distracted by a striking sunset, nasty roadkill or by a newer more interesting pain and forget about what seemed like an important bodily protest.
What I learned on this ride: need to eat more food that is not high sugar content, to sleep soundly in farragut you must go way off the beaten path, Chrome bike pants rub my junk the wrong way after 100 miles, Even on quick trips some extra bag balm would be handy, when wearing thin socks the tongue of my Sidi's rub my foot, I need to commute with more weight in my pack.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Componant Commtiment

It's a done deal. The parts are on the way. I am not used to putting this much effort into buying bike stuff. For the last ten years I have been buying lower mid level off-the-rack bikes and rotating them out after several years. There is a certain pleasure in hand picking components but it was hard to make the final commitment.

freewheel ACS 17t
Front Brake Avid bb7 frt brake
Seat Koobi PRS Enduro
Brake Levers Paul LPZ 2.5 silver
brakes Paul Motolite z brake
Headset Chris King Silver
Nipples Dt Swiss Competition
Spokes DT Swiss Competition silver
rims Dt Swiss Tk7.1
hub Phil Wood SS frt disc 32h
Phil Wood SS dst 32 h
crankset Raceface Evolve XC SS 34t
Fork Rock Shox Reba Race 29er
chain whitestar connex
Handlebar surly torsion
seatpost 29.4 Thomson Elite
Stem Thomson Elite 110mm 10deg
tires WTB Nanoraptor 29 pair

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Frame In Hand

My new frame is in hand and as beautiful as it is, it won't really be worth getting excited about until the parts are on and it can be put to use. My best guess is by the end of this month it will hit the dirt.