Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wow, Did I Take The Wrong Bike

And my clavicle agrees.

I was about 1-1/2 miles from my house and 50' down the trail when I realized that I'd brought the wrong bike.  I was 100' down the trail when I laid the bike down the first time.  At this point I almost made the decision to ride back and get a bike with studded tires... but I was late.  I had opted for the fat bike because the trails had been so soft and their condition was unknown.  Ultimatly I decided I could do it and I'd just be careful.  It turns out a nice aggressively studded bike would have been an ideal bike for the day.

The lake crossing was fine, a little slick.  The climb on the other side, I walked, I probably would have anyway.  The trails after that were slicky and tricky with the ice laden overhanging trees grabbing at my helmet light often. 
Ice Laden Overhanging Trees
 At one point my front wheel was sliding down an icy rut and I looked to my left to see my rear wheel trying to accelerate past me.  A fallen tree grabbed my shoelace and came along for the ride until I'd had enough so I set the bike down, laughing.  Then a bad thing happened, the trail got better.  And better trails mean higher speed and more confidence, wrong!  So then I crashed.  It wasn't a terribly spectacular crash but I'd say it was a pretty hard one.

As I was on the ground collecting myself, trying to asses the damage I though "Shit" I just got a whole bunch of new cycling gear and I hope I haven't mangled myself too much to use it.  After a minute or so I was back up, picking up the pieces of my rear light and pressed on.  I even decided to cautiously take the trails the rest of the way.  I did say that they got better, and it's hard to pass up good winter riding.

Taking off my riding gear was a chore.  (It was about 12 degrees and 2 layers of sweaty jerseys don't come off that easy).  Looking in the mirror confirmed that my shoulder was F-ed (Fouled) up.  I spent the morning thinking it was dislocated.  I even tried a few things to put it back in - I stopped that pretty quick.  A trip to quick care revealed the real problem.

Stop Skipping Ahead to the Pictures, I'm Not Real Happy About This

I'll be off the bike for a few weeks and probably off slippery trails for a few more.  Shit.

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Over The Lake Commute

I set out on Saturday riding the bike with the new Ice Spiker Pro Evo tires and a backpack full of skates and an ice axe (AKA roofing hammer).  Of course, when I say full, I mean 2 'cause they're big.  The lake had sections of ice that had been frozen for a while and sections that had just frozen within the past few days.  The old ice was plenty thick.  The new ice was the kind of pure black ice with no bubbles or cracks that makes it look like open water.  At first rode around the old sections on the bike surveying the situation.  On the back side of an island I traded my bike for skates and started hacking test holes in the pure ice.  I found a good 3" of pure black ice in every hole.
Skating and riding was PERFECT.

After some skating around I traded the skates for the bike again and rode my normal route across the lake to make sure it was all solid.  I must say, the Ice Spiker tires really bite into the ice.  Sharper turns would produce some slippage but overall they gave an extremely confident feel and that totally satisfying sound that they were clawing into the ice.

Unfortunately, my reconnaissance mission was necessary because 24 hours later the lake was covered with a foot of snow.  Determined to get out and try my other new set of tires on the Pugsley (More on that some other time when conditions allow for a good evaluation )  I took the lake route on Monday anyway, knowing I'd be pushing my way across the lake.  I was not disappointed, I had to push my way across the lake.  The camp roads were a pleasant packed powder until I got to treated roads that covered me with a sloppy salty grime.

Mmm Hot Coffee,  My Pants & Jacket Looked Similar.
Those keeping track will notice that I've spent the equivalent of a BMW payment on bike tires.  Good thing all our cars are paid for and they're not BMWs.  Priorities!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Determination, or something like that.  After yesterday's slightly disappointing, maybe just enlightening fatbike ride I decided to do it again.  I'll save the charts and graphs.  The temp when I left was 1F.  Today I had my own packed path to follow as well as some tire tracks in another area so the ride was faster.  Of course the best part was the sunrise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fatbike Vs Studded 29er

You would think that a fatbike would be the tool to take on a snowy ride.  Again, I don't agree.  I want the fatbike to be as fun as everybody makes it out to be, I really do.

Stock Photo, this isn't even the 9er and there isn't this much snow yet.

Same trail, about the same temp, about the same snow conditions which are about 3-4" of unconsolidated snow over bare ground.

Yesterday: GT Senser 9er w/Nokian extreme tires.  I'm not going to say it was an easy ride in but I only had to put my foot down once (OK, maybe twice if you count getting thrown off the trail by a frozen rut).  Even through the going was hard the skinny tires cut through the snow and the aggressive rear tread gave enough traction to get up the hills.  The biggest downside was that the tire would cut through the snow to the invisible ruts and knock you off course.
Not an easy ride but I managed 6.1MPH.

Today: Surly Pugsley with a Larry/Endo combo inflated so there was slight sidewall bulging when riding on pavement.  How many PSI?  I'm not sure.  My pump said about 2 but it's old and the scale goes to 200.  I'd guess around 8psi.  If felt like the front tire was plowing more snow than the 2.1" Nokian.  For the uphill sections the Endo would loose traction and spin out far sooner than the aggressive tread on the studded tires.  On the spots that had been packed at all this bike floated over the snow better where the skinny tires had a tendency to dig in and wash out.

Seemingly a better tool for the job, 5.3MPH
So the data clearly shows that I was faster on the non-fat bike.  Somehow I don't think Strava's power calculations took into account that I was riding through snow covered trails.  61 Watts, jeesh.  Looking back to rides before the snow I usually manage about 9MPH on this section of trail.

Fat-bikers, please comment.  I really want to get the most out of my fat-bike.