Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mud And 'Skeeters!

<=== I rode my OS Bikes Blackbuck at a new-to-me place yesterday. Click on the pic to see the mud up close!

Captain Bob has always suggested to me that I go on up just north of Waverly to Cedar Bend Park and check out the trails up there. I have had that thought in my mind, but never acted on it until yesterday when I thought I'd give it a go and see what this place had to offer.

So, I loaded up the Dirty Blue Box with the OS Bikes Blackbuck and an extra pair of wheels for testing. I pointed the car north and drove for about half an hour to the trail head.

The trails here are all "double track wide", or in real terms, "ATV width" as that seems to be the vehicle of choice for county park maintenance. That's okay, because it didn't detract from the fun that these trails have on offer. I started out not having a clue as to where I was going other than a vague memory of Captain Bob's descriptions. (Getting lost, or kind of lost, is fun I think!) Anyway, I found myself on a trail going mostly down hill to the rivers backwaters. Of course, this was all underwater not two weeks ago!

Well, there is a mighty muddy section of the finest black silt you can imagine right there. It was sticky beyond belief and I ended up with tires twice the size they should have been. I walked out of there and got up on some higher ground within about 20 yards. I scraped off a whole bunch of black goo with my gloved hands and continued onward.

The trails are shortish sections and spurs for the most part. They are all pretty fun and you can string a bunch of this together for a longer run if you want to. I was still in exploration mode though, so I didn't get around to doing that, but I could see how one could do that. Many short to medium length climbs with roots and some embedded rocks are to be found here. In fact, not much of this is flat at all, which is a refreshing change from most riverside trails in Iowa. Stairs that are cut into the hill sides for hikers and capped off by wood edges are all over the place. You can ride down these, but there are several of the stairs that have a smooth dirt path alongside too.

All in all it is an enjoyable place to visit for a couple of laps or three. That might take you an hour and you will have ridden everything here three times going pretty fast. You would get quite a workout too. The climbs in some spots are deceptively tough.

<=== The Blackbuck features a split shell type eccentric bottom bracket shell.

I went back to the Dirty Blue Box after explorations were complete to switch out wheel sets and run my Vulpines. The cog on the Industry 9 wheels was one tooth smaller than I had on before, so I had to adjust the chain tension. With the Blackbuck it is an easy chore. The split shell eccentric bottom bracket is super easy to operate. Why more companies don't use it is beyond me. Within minutes I was set up and ready to go again.

Of course, the 'skeeters were having a hey day out there. Hardly any wind, high humidity, and overcast skies were perfect weather for those devils to be out. They pestered me to no end, but I escaped with no bites, again! Better bring some repellent where ever you go in Iowa this year as the standing water is providing more breeding ground than ever for those blood suckers!

<=== One short run and I went back home, but I'll be back!

The bummer was that I found out the Industry 9/Avid BB-7/On One Carbon Superlight fork combination doesn't get along with each other. My rotor was positioned in such a way with this combo that I couldn't adjust the caliper over far enough to keep the caliper from scraping the rotor. I made one shortish pass to get a feel for what the tires were doing and packed it up and went back home. Intermittent rain showers helped hasten the decision to go too. The sound of gentle rain on the tree canopy is really cool though, I will say that. It's weird to hear it and not feel a drop.

So I came back home and showered off the mud with the thought of going back again real soon. It isn't a long trail system, but it is unique and according to Captain Bob, ride able when most other trails are not. I'll be back again and I'll most likely bring the single speed too. It makes the trail that much more fun.

As for the Blackbuck, I couldn't be happier with it. It rides so smoothly and fits me really well. The bike has that "steel feel" in spades and handles the trails smoothly. Climbing is great, descending is controlled. The chain tensioning is a no brainer and it can handle a two tooth change without breaking the chain easily. I'm well pleased with this bike.

This weekend is the 4th of July weekend so happy trails to all of you who will be vacationing or traveling places. Ride on!

No comments: