Monday, February 15, 2021

How times change, and motos!

 Hello world.

Yes I am riding Dave's bike. :)

Year two of quarantine is rapidly approaching, and so is summer. I'm bored so I am here trying to write and record life tidbits again.

Whats new on the pedal front:

the AL remedy is gone; replaced with a carbon remedy 9.8 last year. an additional $1500 only netted me 1.5lbs weight reduction so not real amazed with that but the increased performance of the higher spec components is fantastic!

Road bikes remain the same: Cronus CX carbon

trials bikes remain mostly the same: Th Norco Evolve now has poorly functioning disc brakes and the Pitbull has flat tires.

So 2021 is hopefully forming up to be an action packed summer. Possibly another visit to Colombia (if borders are open and world pandemic situation is on the mend). Possibly another yacht racing summer. But the big trip I have spent the last week or two on is a motorcycle tour of Colorado highlands!

As of right now the plan is a week+ of dual sport riding from Silverthorn to Ouray, then SE and back up through Gypsum to Dillon. A large loop of 100-150 mile days and camping. I have my trusty Honda CRF250 Rally, and Dave is purchasing a brand new CRF450L. We will clearly need some prep work and shakedown adventures to prepare.

As of this moment the Rally is taken apart in the shed out back: I am trying to fit a different shock without spending $1000. One of my major gripes about the Rally is how poorly the suspension performs when you start pushing a bit. I have dynoed the rear shock from my bike, as well as done surgery on a free CRF250L shock to figure out how they work and things do not look good at all, out of the box.

Other plans for the trip:

GiantLoop Coyote soft saddlebags+duffle

Seat Concepts comfort seat

Larger footpegs

Handlebar protectors (barkbuster style) hopefully with LED markers

New Dunlop 606 tires before we leave. The rear for sure, not certain on the front yet.

Another goal is to reduce the weight of the bike significantly if possible.

The published weight of almost 350lbs is a real kick in the pants for the 22HP engine. It is also a lot of weight to handle on narrow technical riding and singletrack. Lots of small bits like plastics, emissions equipment, exhaust, but I fear that the majority of the weight is in the steel frame and there will not be a done to be done about that.

With the Ice riding I have been doing this winter, and the intro to singletrack trip me and Dave did last spring, I have a desire to get the overall weight of the bike down to a more managable number. Under 300 at least. Step one is obviously to get the bike on a scales to get a real world weight before getting to carried away on particulars.

More to come later on all fronts! hopefully before 2 years from now!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Whistler, baby!! Yeah!

I watched Austin Powers on the flights home, can you tell? :D

Whistler Bike Park 2019!

Seriously, that word pretty well sums up the park, the trip, and the experience!
I just got back from Whistler, BC and wanted to capture some of this to share, as well as to capture for the next time I go there!
Brief summary:

Flew from Minnesota to Whistler. 5 days in early September, so late season at the bike park.
Three days of riding at Whistler Bike Park, with and easy travel day on both ends.
Rented fleet DH bikes.
Stayed in Whistler Village.

The slightly longer version.

So my coworker Bryan and I had thrown around the idea of going to Whistler last year when we got back from a trip to Trestle in Colorado. I didn't think much of it since I don't feel up to the task of hitting big gnarly stuff and that is what Whistler is known for. Fast forward to a couple months ago and we had not organized a Colorado trip this summer thanks to hectic work schedules. I stopped by Bryan's desk one day and said; "Hey, lets go to Whistler" to which he responded "OK!" and so the planning began.
We really only had one week that worked, the week after Labor Day, in early September. Not ideal as this is approaching the end of the Bike Park season and trails are in worse shape the later in the season you go. Fly and Ride was always the plan, as driving from Minnesota to the west coast really rather sucks and would take about 3 days, one way.
A quick look at tickets and we settled on one-way MSP to YVR for about $550. A little on the expensive side if you are used to flying to Denver for half that, but no layover meant optimizing a travel day.
Lodging was a little more complex thanks to the sheer number of options available. Everything from overpriced hostels to overpriced uber-lux boutique hotels. From the foot of the chair to down the road in Squamish. Eventually we decided a place with two actual beds and a kitchen were the right combo; Stoney Lodge Lagoons ended up being our home away from home and it was great! Two bedrooms (one bunkbed so three would have been cozy but doable), a full kitchen, two baths, our own hot-tub, and underground parking is included. It ended up being right across the street form the grocery store so I was happy. At around $1200CAD for the whole time, again, very manageable. We booked through the Whistler resort website so we were able to bundle with our bike park passes, saving a tiny amount. Those were around $200CAD/pp.

Rental cars, for some reason, are incredibly cheap in Canada versus the US. The whole 5 days was only $115 for a "standard" car from Alamo and we only drove up and back which burned $34 in gas. A hell of a bargain! Again, if you had four in your party the $10/day upgrade to a small SUV probably would have been a good idea. Both me and Bryan travel with giant Klim gear bags so we need plenty of luggage space.

This left the bikes. This is where having a little local knowledge would have really helped. When you are scouring the internet looking for deals; all of the fleet DH bikes look the same. The difference is in quality of servicing and customer service. We ended up renting from Whistler Sports Rental/Gateway Bikes. They were cheap at $97CAD/day for three days. While I was not disappointed with Gateway and their Norco fleet, over the couple of days riding I think I will try somebody else the next time I go, unless they send me a coupon or something. We rented 2x Norco Aurum bikes, which come from Norco with Magic Mary bike park tires, which we thought would be good since they are Schwalbe. Turns out; Magic Marys are total garbage when they get wet. This wasn't a thing until the last day we rode and it decided to rain. Bryan was so dissapointed in the tires he made me swap bikes for a minute mine had a Maxxis Minion DHF on the front) just to make sure he wasn't imagining things. About 100 yards down Creekside and I low sided into a berm, low speed. Yup, those tires are garbage in the wet.
I can't really blame Gateway Bikes for this, I'm sure that is the way they get them from Norco, but how has nobody else every complained about it?! Weird, and noted.

This isn't a very easy reading blog post and I suppose it's not supposed to be. It's a collection of thoughts, to share and keep for later. Here is a little prose though:
Whistler Bike Park. What can I say about this place? Not much actually. If you are reading this you probably have watched youtubes and read pinkbike articles about it already. I had high expectations and this place and this trip blew them out of the water. It is such a good place to ride that all I will tell you is to go and experience it for yourself. It's worth it. Most of the people we met on the chair were from somewhere way further away than the Midwest: Latvia, Austria, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There is a reason they come to Whistler. It is amazing.

Costs in USD:

Flight: $230 (plus miles)
Baggage $60 for both ways
Rental Car $146.30 (includes gas)
Condo Rental for 4 nights (includes 2x3day bike passes) $1116.15
Bike Rental $434.26 (for two bikes)
Top of the World Ticket $18 $52
Food $146
Beer $18
Bylaw Ticket $75 (youll have to ask)

Pro Tips:

Customs/Immigration is easy for US Citizens. I even asked for a Canadian stamp and the guy gave me one! On our return flight we connected through Seattle, but you go through US Customs at Vancouver airport! This made our worries over a short layover in Seattle a non-issue.

If you ever wondered why there are no women MTB riders in your area I can tell you why: They are all at Whistler. Seriously. probably 20%+ women riders. Sexy foreign accents, beautiful whips... All healthy and into breathing crisp mountain air and willing to take chances. Seriously, what am I doing in Minnesota still?

For your first trip to the Bike Park, here are my pro tips/life hacks:

  • Rent the resort bikes. They looked super nice and didn't cost radically more than the bikes we got which were just ok.
  • Stay in the Village. Its just too convenient and cost is okay, plus you can book lodging and bike passes together for a tiny discount.
  • Don't worry about the resort being outrageously expensive. If you flew here you have enough money to eat and drink as you normally would. My food budget included buying groceries and lunch sandwiches as well as having a Tim Horton's double-double in the morning.
  • Check the Photographer location board in the morning. Getting one or two professional photos really does make you feel like a rockstar. Worth it.
  • Pads/Armor. This is a sticking point from some people. Coming from Trestle where they pretty much demand that you wear an armor vest, Whistler didn't care. Most of the young guys bombing A-Line appear to be wearing knee pads, pants, and a T shirt. (and a helmet of course) The more serious ones had Leatt braces. Otherwise I just wore rental knee and elbow pads, fox DH shorts and armored chamois, and my EVOC CC Race 3L. I saw a few folks in full vests, but I would say the majority of riders were just rocking the pads and thats it.
  • Take a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. Everywhere in Whistler accepted CC, debit, and several would take USD or CAD. Cash change is always in CAD. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 bicycle events that I might show up to!

All my reading last night got me a few event listings and series websites.

general 2017 Twin Cities events:

MN Mountain Bike Series

Lake Superior Gravity Series

Dirt Cup Mountain Bike Sprints @ Three Rivers Parks

Thats all i've got for now.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

recouped and back in the saddle!

well, nearly a month later and I am back to the blog as well as the bike! Not too shabby.

First off I just saw this beauty and I want one so bad! Not that it is at all useful but it is awesome.
Other than that it has been a rather Trialsy month. Bryan and myself got out twice or three times. I got the Norco Evolve back in riding shape, only to mess up one of the pedals, but we will get to that.

Riding with Bryan and Zac was awesome as they worked with me to develop my "climbing" skill and I now feel closer to getting up faces. We also did a bunch of side drops and wheelie drops as well so I feel like this summer might be the summer I make some serious inroads on the Trials skillset.

A few pictures here.

Yesterday I also got the Trek back out and met up with a few guys from work and rode Elm Creek singletrack for the first time this season. The advanced section, aka Grizzland, has a few more dirt-jump style lines in the works, which would be cool if I was confident on them! Parry, a coworker, is quite the wild one so I made him hit all the drops and jumps that I'm not comfortable on. Good fun.

Unfortunately the Enduro saga continues. I ended up running Jagwire replacement hoses on both the M985 Shimano XT brakes and I gained very little at the rear caliper. So I purchased a euro orientation brand new Shimano XT brake from Chain reaction Cycles in the UK, along with some trials parts, and installed that.
Unfortunately that rear brake feels nearly THE SAME! total squish, no grip till the very end of the stroke. Cannot lock up the rear wheel on asphalt.I plan to take the bike out for a ride with this brake before I throw it all away. :)

Because of that I have not had the enduro out for a proper ride at all yet! I still have to try out the spring fork and these brakes to know if it is worth even taking to Spirit Mountain. Very disappointing.

As I mentioned earlier I have put quite a few parts into the Norco Evolve to get a ride-able "urban" trials bike. In the last month or so I have bought:
-a nearly new front wheel.
-a new set of Try-All crank arms
-a new Neon HD bashring
-a new set of RaceFace Chester pedals
Lots of effort going into this thing but I really like it so I feel like that is okay.

Sorry for a lot of text with few pictures. I still have not mastered this blogging thing after all these years. :) I also have not done any youtube videos either which makes me sad. but tomorrow is monday so I have little to worry about for another week :/

Oh, and I am considering buying a brand new road bike.

Friday, April 14, 2017

AZ road trip 2017!

Hey everybody!
I know I have been neglecting my blogs lately, very busy at work and with other life things getting in the way.

I just returned from my AZ Road trip last week and thought I would throw something together to share with the blogging world.

I left MN on Friday morning, the 31st of March at about 6am. Returned to MN the following Saturday at about 7pm.
3732 miles driven, 63+ hours on the dash counter.
Total miles rode on the Trek Rumblefish was probably only in the 50 miles range. Which does not sound like much but the South-Eastern AZ trails are pretty awful for good riding so i blame them for my shortcomings. Sadly I did not bring and GPS so you will have to trust me on my guesstimates and crude GoogleMaps.

I B-lined for New Mexico so that I could make it to the Trinity Site while it was open. I just barely squeeked by, maybe an hour to spare. Though I did sit in line for 45 minutes to get checked in.
After Trinity I drove to Silver City, NM. In the morning I woke up early and rode the Big Tree Loop in Arenas Valley which was great riding. I did make a detour onto the Petroglyph trail which sucked and I ended up getting an explosive puncture on some of the sharp rocks on that trail. Still cool. The bike shop in Silver City hooked me up with a cheap rear tire as I wasn't sure how the old tire would last with a puncture right in the middle of the carcass.

Then I drove down to Bisbee and spent a couple of days hanging out with my dad and riding a little in the Mule Mountains, as well as an attempt at the Stronghold Loop.

Southeast AZ has very steep mountain pockets that are very rocky and gravely. This means the few posted trails are mostly hike-a-bike material and very exhausting in the sun and heat of the desert mountains. If you are into personal fitness and conquering a few trails and the personal satisfaction then give them a try. If you want flow trails and gravity goodies, steer clear! Though the downhills are pretty awesome when you get them.
In Bisbee (Mule Mountains) I hiked up from where we were staying and rode up to the antenna cluster on Mule Mountain which bigG says was about 4 miles up, and when I returned I descended down Brewery  Gulch (Wildcat Canyon) which was pretty cool, till I had to ride back up to High Road. If you go into Google Earth and look at this area you can see both the elevation this covers and in the aerial photos you can follow the paths I took. The descent down Wilcat/Zacatacas/Brewery Gulch was very rough with grapefuit size rocks and gravel most of the way. Would have been better on my enduro, instead of the 29er trailbike I was riding!

The Stronghold Loop in the Dragoon Mountains was also very difficult, and with the washed out trails I encountered I would not suggest it to anybody. You can't ride up it and you can only ride down some of it. And the other half is all graded gravel roads in the mountains. Pretty awful for riding in my opinion but the scenery is INCREDIBLE!

I also did some hiking around Bisbee with my dad that was fun, as he knows the area very well.

On the way home I stayed in Santa Fe and busted out the trials bike in the morning as there was a small skate park across the street from the hotel. I clearly have no idea what I am doing there so i made a loop around some government buildings and then checked out and headed north.

The Rift Valley Trail, outside Taos, NM, was a nice easy ride. It has a few good climbs but everything is very brief. Awesome views of the Rio Grand rift valley and the mountains around Taos.

After that i pushed north through southern Colorado. More epic scenery there. I sadly did not stop to get enlightened in CO, though I wanted to. :) I made it almost to the Nebraska border before stopping at a rest stop for a few hours sleep. the next day i pushed all the way home, I looked at MTBProject a few times but in the Midwest the trails are so spotty, or just a single trail off by itself that hardly warranted stopping at. :(

Overall a good trip that was not terribly restful but enjoyable just the same.

The Route down:

The Route up:

I rented a Dodge Caravan through Enterprise, it fit two bikes, my bag, a cooler and I still had room to sleep in the back as needed. It got great fuel economy, 28ish MPG even doing 80mph down the interstate.

$461 for 1 week and 2 days of rental minivan
$288 in gas
$99 in food receipts, though my dad bought food and drink a couple of days, plus the odd cash meal.
$318 for two nights in hotels. (definitely over paid here)
plus less than $200 in cash.

Total: around $1200 for a week on the road. Definitely more than it should have been but I do not feel like I stressed myself or was operating way above or below my means for the trip.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Bike day! 2011 Specialized Enduro Comp

Yep! you read that title right: its new bike day. What is the flavor today you ask?

2011 Specialized Enduro Comp

So...those of you know know me in person will attest to the idea that I am a cheapskate: I never buy brand new when it comes to significant purchases like cars or bikes. I really want that brand new all carbon 29er enduro but at the end of the day I simply cannot come to terms with spending the better part of $10,000 on a car, let alone a bike!

Me and eBay go way back though. Way further than craigslist could hope to go! I have bought vehicles and paintball gear and all sorts of useless chinese junk through ebay and now i have bought a complete, albeit used, bicycle!

Of course this idea comes with lots of unknowns and puts a LOT of trust in the seller. This is not always well founded trust.
But it is usually enough of a good deal to me to take that risk and worry about the details later. This bike was one of the "worry about the details later" moments just like the Porsche adventure was.

I did get a complete bicycle and not a box of rocks, so at least I have that going for me. I ended up paying about $950, once shipping was added on, for a well abused 6 year old bike. maybe not the best of gambles but it should be fun to ride once I spend a bunch more money on it!

This is what she looks like assembled and out of the box. 
Per the ebay ad I already know the following:
  • Rear triangle was replaced with a piece from a 2012. Gives the bike a 12x142 rear axle.
  • Rear Easton Havoc wheel has a pretty big dent in it.
  • Lots of paint scuffs and chips.
  • Thompson Elite seat post
Now for the things I have discovered since unwrapping and setting it up tonight:
  • LOTS of scuffs and paint chips. Way more than anticipated and clearly from trail use not just "from the cheap bike rack I used" stuff.
  • Tires are original, and full of tubeless goo, and have bent presta valves. But do take air and appear to hold at least for a few minutes!
  • Handlebars are from BlkMrkt. Hubba hubba!
  • Seat is an old Bontrager junker...will probably replace with the WTB Speed on the old hardrock.
  • front brake master cylinder is shot. pushes fluid out of the gasket somehow.
  • Shock needs a rebuild. oil comes out when pumping the pressure up.
  • Cranks are badly beaten and at least one is bent.
  • Rear derailleur hanger is bent, possibly from shipping as pictured above. Hard to tell if the derailleur itself is bent.
  • Fork should probably be rebuilt while I am at it.
  • Should probably replace the suspension bearings while I am tearing things up.
Thats all I have so far.  Looking forward to some, hopefully, easy wrenching and tuning!

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2013 Trek Rumblefish

So I wanted to do a little bike check to tell everybody about what I have been riding this year, for the most part. I have wanted a full squish pretty much from the get-go but until this last season I have not had the drive or resources ($$$) to make it a reality. I definitely do not see a full squish as a starting point for beginning riders, but once you have the basics down the compliance of full suspension sure is nice.

2013 Trek Rumblefish
So I bought this bike used from a nice talkative guy on the south side of the cities. there were a few mods that he had done that I thought were useless to me but I also thought that they showed that the bike was not beat up by him. Unlike me using a bike...

So we agreed on $1100 and I took the bike home. I didn't even know how to remove the QR15 front axle that day so I tried to fit it inside the truck cab and that wasn't even close so i ended up flopping it in the back. It has since rode many miles in the back of the ole Chevy!

I took the riser post off of the fork and the silly flame grips off and returned the bike to a mostly stock configuration. I checked the pressure in the shock and fork and rode around the yard until I thought the ergonomics felt good.  I took a few bits apart to grease and check the condition of bearings but for the most part everything was in good shape if a little dusty from sitting in the guys garage for a while.

First Ride.
Myself, Bryan and our coworker and former classmate Shawn met up to ride some trails non of us had hit before. We hit up Carver Lake Park, which is awesome with great technical features for the more trialsy riders. then we went down the road to Battle Creek trails area. This was an area none of us knew and we parked at the top where there is poor trail signage. There are some wicked narrow and technical descents and sure enough I got caught out trying to keep up with those two ya-hoos.
I hit a little kicker along a bank thinking the guys had hit it and as soon as my front tire came up I regretted it, panic braked and when I came down the bike stopped and I went OTB and the bike tumbled down the trail. Unknown until a week later I bent both the handlebars and one of the saddle rails in this off.

I didn't get significantly injured, besides my pride, so I considered it a good day.

I also rode my first MTB race at Elm Creek on this bike over the summer. I didn't finish very high but I still had a blast doing it. I can see doing lots of XC on this bike but after riding it at Spirit Mountain a few times, and my experience at Battle Creek, I am not sure if I will keep it for the long haul. I will likely post a new update once that fate becomes clearer...