Rocking the Gossage… Mountain Bike Ride

The last time several of us met up for a big ol’ mountain bike group ride it didn’t go so well.  There were flats, wrecks, and a few of us got lost.  Yesterday we had one that was just the opposite, everything went right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had ten riders and trail conditions that stellar despite the recent heavy rains. Everyone on the ride was a strong rider and for the most part I was the only bonehead that went off the front.  Everyone stayed together and it was a real gentleman’s ride.  Not to say the pace wasn’t good; we averaged around 7 miles per hour.

One of the riders present was a special guest from Kentucky, Glenn, who is probably the most impressive rider I’ve ever seen.  I’ve seen riders that can kill it climbing, and I’ve seen guys on big bikes that can annihilate the downhill, but Glenn can do it all.  He rides a Niner RIP, and his handlebars look like the command center for a airplane with lots of switches and buttons, “Give me technology, if they had a 50 speed bike I’d be riding it,” he said.

One long rocky and super steep trail was only climbed by Glenn while everyone else walked up.  The few times I followed him he would allow a big gap to open then on a downhill section go incredibly fast and smooth through some corners that had me with locked wheels sliding and unable to keep up.  He would ride crazy lines for fun, bunny hop big trees and ride off big rocks.  This was probably the one ride of the year I should have brought my GoPro.

There was fantastic fun to be had other then watching Glenn ride, like when I went over the bars in a creek and got completely soaked.  Perhaps some of the most fun was riding near the two Seans who would lay down a hilarious commentary track about everything going on.  I suppose I should mention just for the remarkable nature of his travels, one rider that was with us had just completed a run in Hamburg Germany a couple of days ago.

It goes without saying the ride was lead expertly by the Gate Keeper of the East, Eli.  He kept an excellent temp pace that was fast enough to keep everyone together but not so fast that no one got left behind.  Not to mention that Sergeant Ellis kept the breaks short with 5 second countdowns to launch.

It also goes without saying that the Shawnee is beautiful right now, kind of like summer without the ticks, poison ivy and oppressive heat.  Now is the time to get out there yet we didn’t encounter a single other person.

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Going for the Trifecta

After a pretty dismal week in terms of physical activities I tried to make up for it by slamming them today.  Sunday was the only day I had completely off all week and I knew I had to make the most of it.

6:00 AM alarm goes off.  Leap out of bed with levels of energy that can only mean that I don’t have to deliver mail today.  Poptarts and caffeinated beverage are ready in minutes.

6:30 AM Out the back door with skates on.  I take a different route then usual and end up staking down a 4 lane highway as the sun is coming up.  Being Sunday morning traffic is non existent and I can skate where ever I please, right down the center of route 13.  Got in a 8.5 mile skate in 45 minutes and most importantly didn’t crash. Wish I’d taken some pictures.

7:30 AM Eli calls and informs that there is in fact a mountain bike ride today at 1 PM  I pledge my attendance.

8:00 Call Dad and find out Mom and Dad are going riding this morning.  I’ve been wanting to ride with them so I ask them to take a short 20 mile ride.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9:00 20 mile ride with Mom and Dad .  Got to talk to Mom and Dad and enjoy a good ride, they’re in great shape and ride nearly every day.  I got to wear my 2500 dollar Pedal the Cure wool jersey.  Let me tell you it’s worth every penny, it was warm but super breathable.  It began to sprinkle rain and the wool performed great even when a bit wet.

11:30 Lunch with Shaundo

12:30 Meet the gang for the mountain bike ride.  Despite the recent rain the trails were in pretty good shape, not muddy at all.  Eventually it begins a light rain, but with the temperature hovering around 65 degrees a little rain is not a problem.  A few miles in we encounter a huge group of friendly horseback riders.  One of them offers me a rain poncho which was nice, but I would get so hot under a plastic rain poncho that I’d be soaked.  It begins to rain pretty hard and the trail surface is getting pretty slick, the rocks even slicker.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe misty wet forest was fantastic to ride in, I’d much prefer to ride nice dry trails most days, but it’s a very unique experience and really fun.  We finished up with a single speed super spin out on roads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6:30 Supper with Shaundo, she has produced some excellent Belgian style waffles which I eat entirely too fast.

7:30 Start blogging

10:00 Projected time when I pass out from exhaustion.

What a great day!

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Ringo at the Fox, No Great Pumpkin

I should be about 10 miles into the Great Pumpkin ride in Evansville Indiana right now and not in front of my computer, but we all had other things to do.  I’m actually not that surprised that I didn’t go, it’s an excellent ride, but road riding hasn’t really been on my plate much this summer.

So since I’m not at the ride I’ve got plenty of time to blog about Ringo.  My wife loves the Beatles, I kind of like them too.  We’ve seen several different Beatles tribute bands, but this was our first chance to see an actual Beatle.  I’ve been to the Fox Theater in St. Louis a couple times, but my wife had never been and it’s really a sight, like the name says, it’s Fabulous.

Ringo and his All-Star band currently contains

  • Ringo Starr – vocals, drums, percussion, keyboard on “Don’t Pass Me By”
  • Steve Lukather (Toto) – vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
  • Gregg Rolie (Santana and Journey) – vocals, organ, keyboards
  • Todd Rundgren (Nazz, Utopia and The New Cars) – vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, bass guitar on “You Are Mine”, percussion on “Bang the Drum All Day”, harmonica, keyboard on “Love is the Answer”
  • Richard Page (Mr. Mister) – vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar on “You Are Mine”
  • Warren Ham (Bloodrock and AD) – vocals, saxophone, percussion, keyboards
  • Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth)– drums, percussion, backing vocals

I haven’t been to a concert since 2001, but there were strict rules about cameras and recording devices in every show I went to.  Some of the venues even patted every down to make sure they weren’t packing.  I guess with ubiquitous smart phone that isn’t an issue anymore.  So I got to take some pictures.  We also went by the Science Center and the Zoo.  The Science Center oddly isn’t nearly as fun when you’re not 10 years old but the Zoo is always awesome.  An Orangutan came up to see us.  Here’s some pictures from the Science

Center, the Zoo and Ringo.

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Niner One 9 29er Review

IMG_0433A very attractive bike has been floating around among a few of my riding buddies and it was my turn to take it for a spin yesterday.  The bike belongs to The Bike Surgeon and they graciously loaned it out as a test bike.

We took the bike to The Ruby which is one of the premier trails in all of the Shawnee, It’s get technical rocky sections along with fast and flowy; it’s guaranteed to test man and machine.  Drew, Joe, Barry, Amy, and I were the crew.

The One 9 is as the name implies a single speed bike.  It’s made of Scandium aluminum, this is the 2013 model in the tangerine color option.  Aesthetics of a bike aren’t usually a big deal to me, but I have to say this bike look amazing, the color combination, tube shapes and the graphics make this bike a real head turner.  Even though it’s a aluminum the welds are so clean that it could be easily mistaken for carbon.

IMG_0441There have been some changes to the Niner lineup in the last couple of years, the One 9 is no longer available in aluminum, only the carbon RDO model, but this frame can be found selling for around 800 bucks new.  The parts spec on this particular bike is pretty awesome, XX Sid fork with remote lockout, XX SS crank, and American Classic wheels, it’s the lightest mountain bike I’ve ever ridden coming in around 20.5 pounds.

I raised the saddle a couple times early in the ride, and never really thought I could get the position right.  I later realized that a big part of the problem was slippage.  I sometimes have problems with slipping posts, but not usually with a big 31.6 Thomson post.  The Niner seatpost collar looked slick but it wasn’t  up the challenge of Gholson.  The handlebars we’re a bit higher then I normally run and bit wider as well.

IMG_0449But enough of all of that, how does it ride?  First off the frame is stiff, maybe too stiff.  I’ve never ridden a bike with a tapered head tube, but this bike reminded me of my Cannondale road bike, it feels like riding a rail.  The tail end was bucking off the trail when  I stood up and started kicking.  The steel frames I’ve been riding have much more mild mannered characteristics, especially the Bandersnatch, but even the Niner SIR 9 with similar geometry feels a bit laid back compared to this.

I was never very happy about how the bike turned, which could have been partly riding position, but I also think it had something to do with that tapered head tube.  It was just really quick and so stiff the bike responded to steering changes way faster then I was used too.  The wider bar made it feel like I was doing a lot more steering.  I would have liked to to pair up the wider with with a shorter stem, which I think would have tamed the steering issue.  Later in the ride I realized that the quicker and more direct turn in wasn’t a bad thing when I dodged a sharp limb that was jutting into the trail.

The Sid fork was neat, the lockout button would completely eliminate fork bob when I stood to pedal, but with the gate setting it would still give you a bit of suspension over the rough.  The fork worked so well, and had such smooth travel that I often forgot I had a suspension fork on the bike.

IMG_0434It was kind of nice to have brakes that really work.  The XT brakes had tons of power, tons of modulation, and really neat looking brake pads with heat sinks.  The eccentric bottom bracket started creaking on me shortly in the ride, and the chain looked a tiny bit loose near the end but I never had to stop and tighten it.  I’m sure that some greasing would shut up the eccentric, but I’m starting to wonder about these things.  Bolt down sliding dropout seem to be the simplest solution.

IMG_0436I thought I was sold on single speed, but I was wanting gears alot on this ride.  There really isn’t much climbing on the Ruby, but there are many technical, short and steep climbs that are much more fun with gears.  I didn’t make too many of these climbs and when I was uncomfortably pulling and torquing all over the bike trying to get over some of the steep climbs I kept thinking, this would be way more fun with gears.

IMG_0443So a slipping seatpost was the only real problem I encountered with the bike.  Last weekend Adam did the entire ride with his post about 4 inches lower then normal and it didn’t seem to bother him much, but I was constantly worried about my saddle position.  If I was looking for a race bike then I would look no further, the One 9’s weight and super quick handling made it an ideal candidate for racing.  For the more laid back kind of riding I do it’s it a bit too quick, though I ‘m sure with a few cockpit changes and a beefier seatpost clamp I’d been perfectly happy on the bike.

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A Mostly Smooth Shawnee Mountain Bike Ride

IMG_0431Well after last Sunday’s misadventures we deserved a good ride this Sunday, surprisingly we got it. I spent a little time fixing up the Bandersnatch and this illicited some questions from the others since I had been riding the Niner single speed so well. We came to the conclusion that I can’t stand riding a working bike without issues. The real answer is suspension. After 3 mountain bike rides last week my hands were bothering me a bit so I put a suspension fork on the Bandersnatch.

Broken GT Peace, this bike was thought indestructible.

Broken GT Peace, this bike was thought indestructible.

Joe, Tom, Adam and I left from Dog Pen trailhead where another unknown group of riders had parked. This is odd because it’s not a very well known place to ride. About 3 minutes into the ride Adam said his saddle broke, upon closer inspection we found it was the frame. The triple triangle GT Peace failed. The problem was that I had been running the seatpost to high for awhile and Adam just finished it off. The post was well in below the max line, but has I’m discovering bikes with inches of seattube extending past the toptube need much more post in the frame.

Luckily we shoved the post way way down into the frame and it worked fine. Adam was able to finish the ride, the only problem was a saddle height about 4 inches lower then normal. Somehow me managed to not only keep up but ride exceptionally well.

Petticoat junction is always easy to find.

Petticoat junction is always easy to find.

After a long and stout climb up the 493 we took the super flowy descent on the 497 to Bluehole. This was the scariest part of the ride for me. Tom took the front, he’s a veteran of many races and when the trail opens up to the point where it’s possible to ride fast then he rides very fast. I was unable to keep up with him on the downhill. I simply couldn’t corner the way he could and was working hard to gain time back between braking for the turns. When I tried to corner with more speed my front tire freaked me out by feeling like it was going to wash in the the loose dry dirt.

Bandersnatch was hitting on all 6 cylinders.

Bandersnatch was hitting on all 6 cylinders.

We eventually encountered the other mountain bike group at Bluehole and chatted with the three of them along with some horseback riders. A girl wanted me to meet her horse, gator, and pet him. I think the horse could smell the cyclist in me and wasn’t too interested. The other group of riders said they just randomly found the Dog Pen and hadn’t rode the trails there before, but were really enjoying it. If more people knew how good the riding was here we’d probably have to start charging. The riders were heading our way but didn’t follow us directly and we never saw them again.

The final climb back up to the Dog Pen is a long one, good benchcut with a some techy spots here and there, Adam took the lead and kept a very fast pace. He stood to power his broken single speed over some tough rocky climbs near the end while I geared down and spun up with ease. When Adam had nothing left to push, Tom passed us both and dropped the hammer for the final climb, it was all I could do to hang on and it left us both so winded that we couldn’t hold the speed to the end.

15.5 miles with a 7.4 average, that’s pretty fast for us and really for any Shawnee ride.  Adam is pretty sure a bit of welding and a longer seatpost is all the Peacer needs, and everyone was pleasantly worn out at the end getting all the miles they wanted.  It’d be nice if everyone group ride could work out like this.

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Look What I Got at Goodwill #3

IMG_3224Big day for me at the Goodwill; couple of real nice finds.  I was perusing the clothing and I saw a shirt that I knew had to be special.  I’ve never heard of the brand, Jam’s World, but when I saw that it was made in Hawaii I knew I’d found something.  Jam’s World shirts sell for 100 dollars each, so I guess getting this used for 3 bucks is a pretty good deal.  I doubt I’ll ever actually wear it anywhere, but who knows, I may turn into a beach bum one day.

 

 

 

IMG_3225In the long sleeve shirts I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across a Merino Wool cycling jersey.  It’s got some dopy graphics, Pedal for the Cause is an Cancer Charity ride in St. Louis.  I did some research, this jersey is the reward for those participants who raise 2500 dollars or more to fight cancer.  I kind of doubt anyone would buy a tightwad like me even participating in a one day ride that costs 125 dollars and requirement to raise at least a 100o dollars.  Though I feel I’d be completely justified to show up with this jersey and act like I own the place.

 

 

IMG_3228I also received some new shorts today.  I’ve been dealing with a rather disturbing problem, all of my shorts seem to be wearing out at the same time.  My ultimate favorite Castelli shorts suffered a catastrophic chamois failure last time I rode them.  In fact every time I’ve washed my bike clothes lately I’ve found stray peices of a foam rubber that have fallen out of various chamois pads.

I got these bib shorts on ebay for 19 bucks new.  They aren’t exactly legit, in that I mean they are Chinese knock offs.  These are the kind of shorts you actually buy direct from China, but someone in the USA was selling off several pair.

 

IMG_3227They seem to fit and the chamois is coolmax and looks good,  I have my doubts about longevity but we’ll find out.

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The Joys of Riding Alone and with Others

Great ride food.

Great ride food.

Mountain bike riding is like most things more enjoyable with others, usually.  Often times the larger the group the more opportunity for fun, and the more opportunity for folly.  It’s a real crapshoot.  Take Sunday for instance; ten riders meet up at for some riding around One Horse Gap.  No beginners in the group, this group contained some of the most experienced and accomplished riders in the area.  No reason why this ride shouldn’t have been smooth and yet it was an unmitigated disaster.

Tom heading up One Horse Gap.

Tom heading up One Horse Gap.

One rider got left behind, a pedal broke, some crashes, then 3 riders got lost, flat tires, found, then lost again.  Nothing was going right for the group as a whole, though a few of us lost riders were doing OK.  In fact Lee brought cookies, they were great, so yeah I mean I was doing OK.  Unfortunately several riders came out and had a time in the woods, time better spent riding was spent waiting for lost riders.

So this morning I went off on my own and got in 15 awesome miles around Petticoat Junction.  Riding alone was great, I enjoyed riding at my own pace, I stopped and adjusted my saddle without slowing down the group.  I stopped to consider trail options and then went off in search of some unexplored singletrack without worrying about others feelings.  It was a great ride.

The Bandersnatch hanging out near Bluehole.

The Bandersnatch hanging out near Bluehole.

Yet no one was there to congratulate me when I made the entire 493 climb top to bottom without unclipping, there was no one to photograph so I had to take another picture of my bike leaned against something, there was no one around to laugh after I went over the bars when  giant boulder jumped out in front of me on a harmless fire road, and no one was there to congratulate on a ride well done when I rolled up to my car.

In short, I’ll ride alone when I have to but I’m already excited for the next group ride.

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