Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mountain Bike Mania

So lets see... it's been a decade since I've actually rode as a mountain-biker. In the nineties, I spent a lot of time up in Big Bear riding the trails. I rode the pro-course up then Skyline, then bouncy-bouncy around all the singletrack. Downhill Bob was the guy a rode with. Cool guy that I wish I could keep up with!

Anyway, at one time, it was a lot of fun. Then life happens, and I don't really have time to go up anymore. Actually sold my beautiful Bridgestone MB-2 that I bought new.

I get the hankerin' for a bike ride today, but unfortunately it's 100F outside by the time I get around to leaving. Normally I don't like taking my bike for a drive in order to go riding, but today I had to get somewhere that was cooler. Hmmmmm, what's the weather like in Angelus Oaks, 45 min away? 83F. I think I know how to spend the afternoon!

I have only been here a couple times in the past, but remembered where to park and mostly how to get to the trailhead. But then the trail forked. Oh what the hell, lets go down. Good choice! Miles of singletrack ahead. I mean just zoom-zoom rolling downhill, wide switchbacks, smooth and fun.


Then it happened. I got lazy and slacked off. All the downhill lulled me into forgeteting about shifters and pedaling! I came on an abrupt up hill right after the trail has a minor washed out section. BIG rock wall to the right, kind of steep rocky drop off to the left. And me two chainrings to the right of where I should be. Stalled out and flopped over to the left. BAM! Right onto the rocks below. Luckily my brain said "Relax and roll with it" which I was able to do successfully. A couple barrel rolls later, popped out of the pedals (not used to SPDs either, which contributed) and there I was looking at the pretty blue sky.

Anything broken? No, I think I can move everything. How do I get out of these rocks... and what is this pretty green plant with the three leaves I'm laying in. Yep, poison oak. Oh goody, my bottles and phone slid down even further into it.

So five-ten minutes later, I'm collected, and finding the parts to my cool Avocet linear measuring guage, and notice that my bar-end shifter is totally yanked out of the bars.


I'm guessing I was gripping it so hard trying to downshift when I fell that I yanked it out with my superior human strength. Hmmmm, I have tools, but that would mean stopping and fiddilng around with them. I guess I'll just wrap it around my brake cables and go.
crash yanked the shifter right outta' the bar end.  too lazy to fix trailside so wrapped it up and kept on keepin' on

The rest of the ride was wonderful and uneventful (but a lot of annoying gnats that caused it to suck just a bit). Long climb out of the valley along Middle Control Rd. but I enjoy that part as well. Lots of cuts and contusions on the legs and back. A huge charley-horse on my quad where I think the bike landed on me. Minimal dings to the bike, just some scratched paint on the top tube a bit and a new gash on the side of the saddle. I'll fix the shifter tomorrow (needed to re-wrap that side of the bars anyway).

Lessons learned: Don't zone out while riding singletrack! Mountainbiking is a blast!

knobie dof

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly dose of reality...
Unfortunately, a must read.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres follow up

First flat!
I haz a sad
But wait, there's more: It's not the tire's fault! It was from a goathead!!!!!!
I spy, with my little eye
For a primer on the foul devil-seed, go here:

I picked this one up while riding up Alessandro (goathead hill) where I pulled up 10 or 12 large plants last month. Lots of little buggars around there.

It was quite a relief to see that it was a goathead! I felt the tire going soft the last mile or so on the way home and was bummed, but flats close to home aren't that big a deal :-) Got the wheel off, pulled the tube, and found the cause.
the culprit
Nothing I want to ride withstands goatheads. Marathon XRs or Specialized Armadillos might be ok, but yikes, not fun at all to ride. Up to now, I've been riding on Panaracer/Rivendell Ruffy Tuffies, and those have had their share of goathead punctures. Pasela Tourguards do as well! I think the Col de la Vie 650b tires were the worst for me.

All that said, I have about 100 miles on the tires and am immensely happy with them. Have done maybe 20 of those miles on dirt, and no problems. As mentioned in the initial write up, the tires do great on dirt. The float over the loose sandy stuff pretty good, hold a line on singletrack, and best of all, really seem to give me more traction on technical climbing. On asphalt they role really quietly and seem to have incredibly low rolling resistance.

I think they're keepers!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres - Initial Impressions

upside down
To start, let's get this straight: My "handle" on the internets is just a play on words. I know it's not French. That's the point. Sort of like Mr. Sheldon Brown's "Derailer." You know what else isn't French? Grand Bois tires. They're from Japan and that's fine and good.

What also is kinda' a stretch of truthiness is the whole allusion to being a randonneur. 50 miles is about where I top a good ride out at. 30 is better. 70 can be done, but usually not very much enjoyment in it.

And did I mention that I'm pretty slow?

One of the things I am pretty good at is riding on trails on inappropriate bikes. Fire roads, double-track, Jeep-track, whatever you want to call it. I can mostly pick a good line and climb through the rutted stuff, and keep the front end from washing out on the downhills. Whenever I go for a ride, there is usually some dirt involved with it, and I love it.

Most of the time I ride Panaracer Paselas, either 32mm or more common now, 35mm. I also have a lot of miles on Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy tires. They're 28mm wide, last a long time, and are fairly puncture resistant. I've had problems with their tread cracking.

OK, so now you know where I'm coming from and my biases. Here's my quick-impression review of the 30mm wide Grand Bois Cypres: THEY'RE GREAT! Really, these tires just feel perfect. Nice and soft/supple, but plenty fast. Yes, that is anecdotal fast. They just seem that way and you can't tell me otherwise. Blissfully quiet, hardly any vibration transmitted, and they just roll, roll, roll down the street. That's kinda' the opposite of Ruffy Tuffies which have always felt kind of inert, and the Paselas are somewhere in the middle. Remember, this is anecdotal, just my impression of them.

So how 'bout their propensity that you've heard of to self-destruct due to a butterfly flapping it's wings in the Amazon? I purposely rode them on a fairly rutted, rocky-in-places and full-of- tumble-weed (no goat heads though) singletrack section to to find out how they would hold up.

If they couldn't handle that, what's the point, right? The verdict: see above (they're great!). They hold a line on the downhills, even on the center crown of rutted double track. Maintained traction on the few sections of technical climbing I did. Flew through the hard pack, whether uphill, downhill or level.
linear line lined up in a line
And they have that Ninja-silence to them on the asphalt. That has to translate into more efficiency over time. I won't turn that down in a product, but it wasn't the point in getting these tires. I wanted the fattest tire I could get that would fit my frame. 30mm actual is about it. The Cypres fit the bill and I'm quite happy with them right out of the gate. Remember, this was the first ride, and I haven't been out to the garage to see if I have any slow leaks from it. I'm hoping for the best, and hope these turn out to last a long time as I have to get my money out of them!