Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday's Ride Report

<=== Tiger Lillies and a Blackbuck

The regular Wednesday ride took me back up to Cedar Bend Park this week to ride my Blackbuck single speed. There isn't much for single track up there, but there is a climb here and there. In fact, some of them are pretty dang steep and tough on the 34 X 22 gear that I am running on the Blackbuck.

Cedar Bend also hasn't got more than 3 feet of flat that is ride able right now, so you are always going up or down, which is a great thing on a 29"er that is running a single cog out back. I think it is a fun little park to ride.

<=== They got a lot of rain up this way

The recent round of thunderstorms has put the Cedar River back up again. Since Cedar Bend has a lot of riverside trail, much of it was underwater yesterday. I even found a bridge on the trail, (which somehow I missed last time I was there) that has sort of "caved in" on one side, leaving the whole structure listing at a 45 degree angle or so. I didn't try crossing there for obvious reasons.

<=== Beginning of a steep, grunt climb.

Here is what you'll typically see out there, a grassy double track that leads into a steep climb straight up the river bank. The climbs typically are either sandy or are filled with broken up bits of limestone. Sometimes it is loose on top too, making the climbing that much harder.

The climbing is fun and gets you worked over, but really, the trail layout here is not good. Going straight up fall lines is a recipe for disaster, trail speaking, and it shows in different spots here as erosion on the trail surface. The trails could be really stellar out here with some re-routing, ala what MORC has done at Lebanon Hills in Apple Valley, Minnesota. I'd wager that Cedar Bend and Leb are about the same area in size, yet Leb has three times the amount of trail distance because of the smarter use of space there. Anyway, it would be cool to see what could be done here to increase the sustainability of the trails and get more out of what is there.

A couple of notes on equipment: I am really liking the Blackbuck as a single speed. What a hoot to ride, and it fits me rather well. Climbing is great, and descending is pretty smooth for a hard tail. It does have that steel feel for sure. The H-Bar, (Titec version here) wasn't my favorite bar when I used it on my Raleigh XXIX+G and it didn't work out at all for me with gears. As a bar on a single speed it is fantastic. Climbing is enhanced, descending isn't compromised at all. (Some folks say descending on an H-Bar isn't good, I say "What?") By the way; Ergon grips are fantastic with the H-Bar. Try it! I am spinning 170mm cranks on this single speed, which is counter to what all the SS pundits would think you should do, but I am really liking it. I had no problems with leverage going up climbs and spinning like a whirling dervish was accomplished much more easily. Racing Ralph front tire: It's pretty good. Corners well. Braking traction is right there with the best. Rolling resistance is low. Floating over sand- a no brainer. Traction in loose over hard pack.....meh! Not so great. At least when the "loose" part is anything gravely.

Okay, that's it for today. I'll have another ride report up from the weekend, hopefully. And also, I'll be switching out forks on the Blackbuck......stay tuned!

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