Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Bikes in 7 Days

How does this differ from Seven Bikes in Seven  Commutes?  Well, most obviously the sevens (7s) are numeric instead of being spelled out.  The other difference is that the days were consecutive so I could have also tied it to a week although it was a week that ran from Thursday to Wednsday.  The order was changed too.

Thursday: The Cross Check came out for a post rain foggy commute.   For something different I pounded my self through the trails for the ride home.

Friday: I took the Viva Sport for an easy road commute before my 5K, so easy in fact that I put it in the back of a car for the trip home.

Saturday: I took the Sensor 9er for a 8 mile ride as a warm-up for my 5K which seemed to work pretty well because I got a new PR of 22:41.  After that I drove to some sweet single track that made me feel good about my riding skills which was followed by some technical single track that made me feel like "YOU SUCK".

Sunday: Wesley and I went out for a few miles.  I took the Pugsley, he beat me on foot.

Monday: Rainy days are made for bikes with big fenders - The Bridgestone AKA, The Tank

Tuesday: Despite the chance of rain I took for CR1 for a speedy ride both to and from work with an average speed of 20.3mhp for both rides with only slight dampness.

Wednesday: The half a week of rain made this not the best day for a mountain bike ride but I was already at 6 bikes in 6 days so I had to.  Actually, I didn't have to on the way in because I carpooled so I wouldn't show up to work a mud ball.  The ride home was muddy but not too bad.  There would be an action video here:  ---  If my phone battery wasn't stone dead.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mountain Biker's Best Friend

We just got a rescue pitbull/boxer mix who's around 1-3 years old and likes to run. I've never biked with my dogs but this one is so good off leash and needs to burn off a lot of extra energy. At first I was taking it easy but soon realized that unless it was a smooth downhill I couldn't get away from him if I tried.

I think this will become a regular thing.  I'm going to need to work on sit-and-stay so I can get some better pictures of him trailside.

Monday, May 13, 2013

El Choco Loco - Dominican Republic: Iguana Mama Review

The thought of biking in another country has always intrigued me, the idea of getting my bike there and back has always stopped me.  Luckily, Iguana Mama offers guided tours with good quality bikes.  The front suspension Fujis were well maintained and they had and XL size for me.  We did the El Choco Loco Tour.

The first part of the 44km was on the road.  After the look of terror wore off my wife's face she looked like this when we stopped for the (included) drinks for our ride.  Notice her teeth are still a little clenched.  The roads in the Dominican Republic are a little scary to say the least but riding a bike on them was less frightening than driving in a car.

When we left this bodega we turned into the road that lead to the park.  The first part of the ride was the most difficult but far from technical.  At one point we had to ride past a big black bull in the middle of the trail.  Not knowing the temperament of this particular bull, I didn't stop to take any pictures which I now regret.

The ride continued on the jeep trail for a few miles, turned onto a paved road for a little bit and then back on a red dirt road which continued to the top of the El Choco national park. 

The height of land was about in the middle of the trip and then we started descending through some sparsely populated and poor areas.  Our guide Alejandro was quite willing to give us information on anything we were interested in and answered all our questions.  

 A little further on we stopped to take some pictures of a baby donkey, very cute.  Until we were "chased" away by a Dominican woman for reasons I'm not entirely sure of.  Alejandro said she was asking for money which isn't uncommon for these poor areas.

The ride continued through rolling hills and beautiful scenery  for about 10km.  At some point along here we stopped to buy some more drinks for the rest of the ride.  Although the temperature was around 85F and fairly humid it didn't seem too hot.  Probably because we were coming from a climate where 35F was the normal high and anything else seemed great.

The road surface changed form dirt to a packed stone (actually coral) which went on until we got to the paved road which we rode for approximately the last 10km.  

Overall:  the trip was a great way to get our into the heart of the Dominican Republic at a level that could never be achieved by car.  The difficulty was technically easy but required some endurance to get through the ride.  I ride 25 miles daily and was tired but not exhausted by the end.  We completed the trip in about 4 hours.  Out of the 44km I'd say about 1/3 of it was on paved roads getting too and from the park.  Our guide was excellent in all respects and we were glad to give him a tip at the end.  If you are looking for a real mountain bike experience I'd recommend looking into one of their more technical rides but for a ride that I could share with my wife, this one fit the bill perfectly. 

We also took the 27 waterfalls tour through the Iguana Mama tour company and had a great time on that too.  Everybody we spoke to from their company was helpful and accommodating.  I would use them again.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Seven Bikes in Seven Commutes

As a followup to "How Many Bikes..." I decided to ride them all back to back.  I've got them, might as well ride them.  For all but one this was the first ride of the year or the first ride of the year without studs.

  • #1 My 29er was freshly back from the shop with a working shock so I took off the studded tires and took the trails to work.
  • #2 I took the Cross Check.  Nothing special here since it's been my goto bike for every commute for weeks.  Or is it something totally special because obviously this is the bike of choice?
  • #3 I let my friends on MTBR choose which of my 7 bikes I should ride.  The participation was a little lower than I expected but they chose the CR1 with the runner up of the Pugsley.  It was fun to get the fast bike back on the road again.
  • #4 I decided I'd take the runner-up from the interactive commuting experiment and also formed the idea to ride a different bike every day.  This was my first trip out on the fatbike on non-winter singletrack.  I like it.  The bouncy ride isn't friendly to my back but that's not to say it wasn't fun.  The 7 miles of riding on the road with this bike were actually not too fun.  There, I said it.
  • #5 With rain in the forecast I decided to take the last mountain bike in the lineup before the trails got muddy.  The FS 26er remains my favorite trail bike.
  • #6 A rainy day with a ride to a meeting at the end of it calls for "The Tank".  
  • #7 Time to bring out my old friend.  Viva la Univega!

As it turns out, I enjoy riding them all.  Right now if I had to get rid of one it would be the 29er and if I got to keep only one it would be the Cross Check but luckily I don't have to.  I enjoy riding other bikes better than the CC but it's just so damn versatile.

Friday, May 3, 2013

How Many Bikes Is Enough Bikes

For me I think that number is 8.  It's actually 7 or maybe even 6 depending on the 29er experiment but I think "8 Is Enough"  I get a lot of raised eyebrows over the number of bikes I own but in terms of hobbies I think I get my money's worth.  A single snowmobile, boat or motorcycle could easily approach the $8000 I have spent in bikes over the last almost 30 years.  The difference is that those toys take gas to have fun and my toys save me gas.  If fact, in the last 5 years my bikes have saved me over $2500 in just gas or about $7300 in vehicle miles.  Every bike I own that was bought in the last 2 decades has been used or a closeout.  My goal is 50% of retail for any bike I buy and getting technology that is 1 year old isn't really the end of the world.

In order of acquisition and the price paid.

Univega Viva Sport: ($405)
Steel, 12 speed, vintage & sentimental.
Used for: general road riding, long trips, commuting, around town, group rides.
Functionally, this is the bike I could give up.  Between the steel cyclocross bike and the carbon road bike this bike isn't really needed.  Sentimentally I've been riding this bike for all of my bike riding life and it's worth more to me than anybody else.  That and I still love to ride it.  Participating in a group ride with a 30 year old bike and hanging with the leaders is just fun.  I'll probably keep and ride this bike forever.

Bridgstone MB-3 ($800)
Steel, 21 speed, ridged, sentimental & still highly functional.
Used for: foul weather commuting, family rides, errands.

My only mountain bike for about 15 years turned commuter.  This bike and I had a deal, I wouldn't do it any permanent damage in return for the same.  We've traded scratches but so-far-so-good.  It did send me skimming across the pavement a few months ago but I might have been somewhat at fault there.  My road rash has almost totally healed and the new pedals should be on my doorstep.

Scott CR1-Comp ($1200)
Carbon fiber, 18 speed, light, & snappy.Used for: fair weather commuting, fast group rides, races and feeling fast.  Truth be told, this bike isn't much faster than the Viva Sport...but it feels faster.  The light wheels make it accelerate quicker (and decelerate quicker) and make the climbs a little faster (and the descents a little slower).  But it sure feels fast.  That said, I don't really feel the need for a lighter road bike.  Sometimes enough is enough.

GT Sensor 1.0 ($1600)
Full Suspension, 27(ish) speed, Cross Country  Cushy & Fun.  Used for: trail riding, trail commuting, winter trail commuting.
A full suspension bike opened up a new level of riding on harsh trails.  Taking the Bridgstone through the woods now seems a little barbaric.  Of course the fenders clattering away don't help that much.  The thought behind getting a full suspension bike was it would be easier on the old bones, now I just ride harder.  I'm 100% sold on FS technology. 

Surly Cross Check($800)
Steel, 24 speed, comfy & versatile.
Used for: road riding, mixed dirt road riding, light trail riding, touring, commuting, racing (for now)
If I had to settle on just one bike I think this would be it.  100 mile road ride, it will do that.  Riding through 4" mud, it will do that.  Fast cruising down fire roads, it will do that.  Blasting down rocky trails, well maybe not blasting.  This bike is the proverbial Jack-of-all-trades.  It's not a lightweight road bike, it's not a competitive cyclocross bike, it's not a full suspension mountain bike but it can do them all.

GT Sensor 9er Expert($1400)
Full Suspension, 20? Speed, Cross Country, Comfy & ???
Used for: trail riding, trail commuting, winter trail commuting. (sounds familiar)
When you realize that your most fun bike can spend a month in the shop you go kind of crazy, especially when you were starting to ride it more.  When you purchase your mountain bike and the 29er craze goes into full swing you have to wonder what you are missing.  This is the bike to solve those problems.  Meh, I can see the benefits of the 29er but so far I prefer the nimble handling of it's 26" cousin.

Surly Pugsley ($1450)
Fat Tires, 27 speed, Rolls where others can't
Used for: Winter trail commuting where others fail, maybe some beach riding, probably some general trail riding.  It seems like everybody that owns a fat bike loves their fat bike.  This evidence can't be overlooked.  There are also days that I'd love to ride the trails in late winter when they are too soft to ride on a regular mountain bike.  I can't say that I'm going to cast my other bikes aside in favor of this one but it does fit into my riding quite nicely.

Cyclocross bike (TBD)
Cabon fiber, 20 speed, light competitive.
Used for: Racing, Training.
The Cross Check will do it but it's not really a race bike.  Besides, stripping the fenders, cages, lights and packs and putting them all back is a pain.  If cyclocross racing becomes more of a habit this bike is a must.  At once a year the Surly will do.  But if one of these crossed my path at a price that cant' be beat I would buy it.

Although it may sound like a lot of bikes there are whole categories I haven't included here.
Downhill & Freeride bike: I don't need to pay to take a chairlift to the top of a hill to break bones on the way down.  I can break bones under my own power.
All Mountain: I may trade one of my trail bikes for an all mountain at some point.
Hard Tail: For the trails around here I'd rather carry around the suspension.  Again, in the future I could trade one of my trail bikes for a lightweight hard tail but it's not on the radar.
Recumbent: Haven't found the interest yet.  They just look silly to me.  No offense all you bent riders out there.
Folding: If I were going to go this route I'd probably go with a conversion for a full size steel steed. Since I don't travel with my bike it makes no sense now.  If I did travel with my bike it would probably be a mountain bike anyway.
City: I live in the country so I don't need a basket.
Single Speed: I use to have a single speed bike...When I was 12.  The hills sucked then too.
Fixie: See Single Speed - Except worse.
Internal Gear: So far my derailleur has kept me going through the snow.
Tri-bike: One CF road bike is enough.
BMX, Hybrid,  Track Bike, Freeride, Time Trial, Cruiser, Utility....Nah
Antique Bike:  Oops, I guess technically I already own one of those even if it isn't functional - 9 is enough? 

Awww Heck. I might as well shoot for a perfect 10!