Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bike paralysis by analysis

This is a complete and total stealing of a blog idea from anniebikes blog. Miss Annie writes about the ideal bicycle out of her stable and I am going to write the same post here instead of blog-jacking her nice site with the sort of nonsense that bounces off my keyboard.

The premise? Can you reduce your bike stable to just one ideal, for you, ride???

Spoiler alert....If you don't want to keep reading....I don't think you can get to one perfect ride.

Now, many of you ride along on the one bike you own and you are perfectly happy with that. I understand. You have a purpose for your riding and your bike fulfills that purpose and all is right with the world. I maybe could use some of that singular pleasure and fulfillment in life. But noooo, I find a need to muddy the waters with choices!

Here we go!
I have three bikes and I actively ride all three. I have one more bike, the 1979 Univega that I rebuilt and gave to one of my boys to ride. He enjoyed it and rode it as a commuter for almost two years. He recently got himself a 29er and the Univega came back home in need of some tune-up help. Not sure what I will do with this bike so it is not included here.

In no particular order:

My touring bike

Pack it on, load it up, does not seem to matter to the bike. The rider (Me!) just has to pedal it.
Close to the ideal bike. It is very comfortable, easy to ride. Steel frame with 38's for tires gives a road absorbing plush ride. Can double as a commuter because I can put one bag on the back rack and bring my workout stuff and lunch for the work day. It has tire size that can handle rolling along pavement or you can get more aggressive with the tred and it will handle dirt, forest service roads. I have this set up with the albatross bars for a very upright touring posture, seat and bars are on the same plane. I really did get this bike to be a bicycle tourist and it has served me well for that purpose. Every summer I have been out somewhere as my vacation time has allowed, tours around Colorado and down into New Mexico along with some simple overnighters. Laying the groundwork for a future in some years ahead that includes retirement and some longer multi-week tours. My idea of an ideal bike has to perform this function This bike is the equivalent to driving a Suburban in the car world.
The downsides???? OK, it is heavy and a bit slow a foot, especially if you are used to a super light road bike. I would not want to attempt any single track on this bike although I am sure it could do it as long as it is not too extreme. Which leads me to bike #2


Not sure what to call this bike yet!

I only have had this bike since August this past summer. It is still growing on me. Why, this bike? I have some friends that do not ride out on the road and I was thinking I sure would like to join them at times. But I am honest with myself and I will never enjoy some real single track crashing around. Smashing around tree roots, rocks, bouncing off trees and bailing out into bushes or the grassy knoll does not really appeal to me. What does appeal to me are rides on forest service or country dirt roads. Gravel grinding is the popular term that is used today. I wanted a ride that can step it up and go beyond the roads that I am comfortable taking LHT on. I did not want to subject LHT to some of the pounding and beat down that can be present on FS roads. Ogre handles this with ease, sorry to say, way easier than this riders off road bike skills. I am the first to admit I have more bike here than I deserve and/or my skills/talents can justify. That said....it sure is nice to have the bike under you when ever the terrain gets tough.
XXL steel frame, Headpost extension with a short stem, (this accommodates my crazy t-rex arms that don't match my overall height!) and Surly open bars to give me an upright touring position. My ultimate goal with this bike is participate in some off pavement touring. The before mentioned FS road tours, rails to trails, and ultimately, a big dream of mine, The Great Divide Route. 29er size rims with 29x2.1 stock tires that came with Surly's complete bike kit. My thinking is, the ideal tour will combine pavement, country gravel, a little single track, just an enjoyment of touring with no road condition limitations. This could be the bike for that!
The versatility of this bike is only contained by your imagination. This bike has so many braze-on attachments for racks, fenders,anything cages.
 If you look at the Ogre build thread on Mountain Bike Forums there is every version you can think of. Guys build them as single speed town bikes, 1x9 bombers, 3x climbers like mine, Roloff hubs for ultimate touring. Guys have them set up with frame bags for super light bikepackers. With trailers for grocery grabbers or set up as kid haulers up and down urban bikepaths.
This is pretty close to the Ultimate do-all ride.
The only drawbacks?????  Like the LHT, it is a heavy ride, a bit clunky on pavement, although more nimble footed than you would expect. It is actually more nimble than LHT as an around town commuter. As I ride this bike more and get to know its ride.....this may move into #1 on my list as the one bike to have if I had to have only one.
That said.....I am agreeing with my bike friend TJ.Comstock. As I ride this bike on pavement I look down at those wide tires and wish for my more pavement friendly 38's on LHT or the 32's on my roadie which leads us to bike #3


 Yes, this is the Jim version of a road bike. Why this bike?? Well, After having the LHT I found a desire to get involved in riding some of the charity rides that were one day events of different lengths. I belonged to a little online group of bike riders and there was an appeal to ride with them in events like the Santa Fe Century ride. This called for some type of road ride that was a bit lighter and more nimble than LHT. I found this bike from an old friend who had bought it in the XL frame but he found it too big, so he gave me a wonderful price on a bike that had about 100 miles on it. It is an aluminum frame. I modified it to get it to a more comfortable upright ride that I liked. Headset extension and shorted stem like my other bikes. Triple chainring, I ride mostly in the mountains so the gearing is important. All my bikes have triples. Brooks Imperial saddle. I run a handlebar bag on this bike.....I know, added weight but the tourer in me likes having my stuff with me for every possibility that may occur. I will never be a super fast rider that a super light, wonder road machine would pay dividends. If this bike had not fallen into my lap, I would probably be riding a steel version of a road bike. I just like the ride that a steel frame gives me. I just upgraded the tires on this bike from the 25's that came with it, to 32's. I am glad that there is room for the 32's to fit in the frame. This really smoothed out the ride for me....it is pretty nice! Slower??? Probably, but like I said, I'll never be fast, so I might as well be comfortable. The whole idea of this bike was have a road machine that I can sit on for a century....eight hours on the saddle for me folks at my pace....and I have achieved it!
This is my go to bike when I want to put in some miles on a ride. Whether I am getting ready to ride a road ride event or I am getting ready for a tour, this is the bike I put miles in on. It is fun to ride and very comfortable even when the miles and hours pile up. Yet, this would be the last choice if I had to just pick one to have forever. I need that versatility of packing my stuff on the bike and heading out on a tour. I love the daily commute and the just riding and putzing around town on bikes but I always have a tour in the back of my mind that I am pointing towards.

Those are my three rides. Are they the best or most expensive bikes out there??? Not even close. But they are set up to fit me and I am very happy with how they all work for my riding and purpose.

To add on to this post, I got the real first ride of 2014 in this last Saturday. My truck had to go to the dealership in Loveland for some warranty work where they had to keep it. It was a pretty nice day for us so I decided to pack the bike and just ride back up the mountain.
 Lets Go! Get this year going!

Back up there where the wind monsters reside. Obligatory Longs Peak picture!
A nice cruise back through neighborhood streets in Loveland. I rolled through old town Lovland and stopped for second breakfast. I was down to just one layer and no beanie under the helmet. Luxury riding!!

Made my way back to the narrows of Big Thompson canyon and....oh yeah...it might still be winter.
Traffic was surprisingly a bit heavy. I guess people still want to be looky-loos to see flood damage. Kiewit is still working cleaning up piles of tree and flood debris and they had one lane closed for a section. The super nice flag girls let me ride through by myself!
Most of the canyon you had to pay attention and not wander off the shoulder too far!!
All in all a good first ride. A bit ambitious but that is how one gets ready for Santa Fe!!

Is there one ultimate ride??? Yes, for many of you there is. For me?? I am so lucky to have found the bikes that I own and thus I don't have to make that choice. My choice is; what bike do I ride today!!

Safe rides and tailwinds everybody!!
Thanks for reading!@

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter rambling

I am questioning whether age is starting to affect my mental processes. It is winter and while I accept that I live in the mountains of Colorado and it is supposed to be winter......Does it seem it gets worse every year????
I used to snicker at the "old" people who complained about the winter, the wind and the cold and the snow. I always thought; "Go south you snow-bird wimps. leave the nice winter and skiing to us younger crew!" Do I desire to now be one of those snow-birds??? I don't think so. I like winter less than I did, probably because I used to make a living on my skis and just enjoyed it so much. I only ski now about four or five days a winter now. I do still enjoy it so much, maybe I need to invest a few more days in that activity so I appreciate winter again.
Activities that I do enjoy involve my bikes and this winter it has been downright nasty to maintain any connection to outdoor bike riding. During a normal winter there are days that come along where you can throw on a couple of layers and get a winter fix in on a bike. So far, this has been one of those stretches that it seems when it warms up......the wind gets really cooking.....or when it stops blowing then it snows. We have had snow on the ground since the week before Thanksgiving and I am not really complaining, just observing. In the past, snow on the ground was welcome, looked forward to it. So, I maintain with daily "rides" on the spin bike at the local health facility. I am one of those personalities that can go in and grind out an hour on that machine and be just fine. Put some tunes on and let my mind wander through the corners where the weird stuff lays tucked away in the cranium.

What else??? Basketball. I really enjoy my connection to kids through the basketball program. It is the winter activity that really motivates me to study and work on planning a program so the boys have a chance to enjoy the game in practice and the games. It is my belief that the work we do as a coaching staff improves these kids high school experience and along the way we teach them something about being better prepared to be men in their future lives. This is another area where age  has popped into my head. I am not too old to be a Coach but, our staff is the oldest in our league. Our head Coach is a young guy and I know that Rene (He is two years older than I) and I bring a maturity of age and experience (we both had boys go through the program) to help him deal with parents and teenage boys. I also see the day out there when youth must be served and it will be time to step aside to allow a younger generation lead these young men into adulthood. I find it is healthy to recognize this and just know when in some future years it will be time to step aside. For now, I get so much from having a connection to High School kids through a game I played and have loved for so long.

Winter Blahs.......That is what is prompting this post. Let me tell you, all my friends out there, facebook and elsewhere.....your posts on your rides or working on bikes from Ryan and Hugh, really keep me going. I really enjoy them. Richard, you and I have talked about writing another post on the "same old ride". But believe me, they are a "warm breeze" for this winter bound cyclist! Ryan, I still need to find a project to put in the stand, always a good distraction waiting for riding weather to return.

Whew!!! I already feel better.....blah,blah,blah! Off we go for another session on that spin bike.
Everybody have a great week!!