Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back To Riding A Bicycle Again

The last few days of giving my opinions on the latest from Saddledrive has spurred a lot of interest on the blog here. But today I am giving you a run down of a ride I did instead. Hey......I can't be Mr. Entertainment every day, ya know? Suffice it to say that I'll be making more observations once I learn more, (and hopefully ride), some of the latest hardware from Salsa and Surly.

Yeah...we got yer roots and rocks.
Of course, I rode up at The Camp again. It is hard not to when it has so much that is good so close to home. There are other great places to ride in Iowa, but they would be 6 hour round trips for the most part, and the Camp maybe eats up an hour of travel time max. A no brainer when gas prices are as high as they've been lately.

I also bugged out at about 9:30am to beat the increasing heat. It was forecast to be brutal Wednesday, and I wasn't up for being zapped by the heat. It was in the 80's as it was, and the South wind was promising a heater of a day ahead.

The sled on deck today was the Fuji SLM LTD carbon hard tail 29"er. Say what you will about carbon fiber, but there is something to all the hoopla surrounding the use of this for frames and components.  It's stiff where it needs to be, (assuming it is designed correctly and all), and that translates to a definite "scoot forward feel" when you stomp on the pedals. The material can also be shaped in weird ways that metal can not be. (Hydro-forming comes close) This really helps in the torsional area, where 29"ers often feel like the front and rear wheels are tracking independently of one another. The carbon Fuji just rockets forward.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that this rig is decked out in XTR parts. Oddly enough, they picked the trail version of XTR for the braking duties. Finned pads and all.

The wild paint scheme almost acts as camo in the woods.
The neatest thing about the components on this bike is the Shadow Plus rear mech. If you haven't heard, this rear derailleur has a clutch mechanism making the cage more stationary during riding which cuts way down on, if not completely eliminates, chain slap on the frame.

This feature renders the Fuji as quiet as a single speed in most riding. Sure, I got the derailleur to move on some bigger hits, but the major clatter is gone. Besides, I probably could tune out all the noise by adjusting the clutch torque on the cage.

Now back to the ride. Here's a story illustrating how speed is your friend. I got out there yesterday to find another car in the grassy lot. I recognized it as being the rig of Eric, a guy I had just loaned the Milwaukee Bicycle Company single speed rig to for a test ride. Oooo! A "carrot" to chase!

I didn't know how long he'd been there, so I blasted off to chase. The loop comes back close enough after the initial few loops to see the lot again. When I looked, his car was still there. I committed to the chase. Further on I verified he was there by the Michelin Wild Race'R prints I saw. No one else around has these tires that I am aware of, so it had to be Eric on my loaner rig.

Fuji bike captured by a Fuji camera. Weird.
I went pretty fast throughout the loop. I was a bit conservative in the corners. I had the WTB Bronson on up front, and the trails were a bit blasted out. Many corners were pretty much covered in a fine, hour glass grade sand. Makes for really sketchy cornering.  That and those flexy knobbed Bronsons are not a good match. I did a preemptive strike though. I aired down the Bronson to about 18psi. This helped tremendously.

To keep the momentum high, I tried not to ditch off into the inner ring of the 2X10 crank. I was just fine with that too, motoring right up the climbs and steeps out there. I think I may have jumped to the inner ring once going out of the bottoms, but that was it. This let me go about as fast as I've ever gone on the South Camp loop.

Once I started getting past the flowy section, and Karmen's addition, I could see the parking lot again. The car was still there! One loop over to Eagle Lodge and maybe I'd catch him. But by the time I got to the trail head, his car was gone. Drat! Must have just missed him. That was okay though, as the speedy loop left me feeling really good about my riding and fitness so far.

So I rested a bit, downed a bottle of water, and headed out for a more leisurely lap. Took some images, (which you see here), and did a lazy loop. At one point, I decided to kick it in up a longer grade and while it wasn't near as fast as earlier, the result wasn't pleasant. I pinged a tree with my left side of the handle bar, which ricocheted me off to the right. I thought I could save it, then I dead headed a big ol' tree instead, which stopped me cold in my tracks. No harm, no foul, but it ticked me off. My lack of speed and concentration made me crash. Going real fast, and being "up on the wheel" made it so this section wasn't even memorable. 

As they say- "speed is your friend", especially when you are mountain biking!

1 comment:

grannygear said...

Ah...I look at it this way..."Momentum is your friend, but speed kills."