Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Step in the Evolution of My Mountain Bike

I have become somewhat embarassed by the number of changes I have made to my mountain bike, and all of the posts I have made documenting those changes, since I haven't even ridden it for the past two seasons. The last iteration I posted about, the 27.5+ tubeless wheels and tires, actually kept me from riding the bike, as a matter of fact.

I am aware of the fact that tubeless is the "modern" way to go, but I just don't like it. The tires are just too difficult to mount or remove, and I really don't see any benefit to the system that makes up for that. I just can't bring myself to get too far away from the trailhead on tires that I can't easily repair in the case of the inevitable flat.

So, those WTB tires and wheels are now for sale, and I have a new (and, I think better) setup on the bike.

My Surly 1x1, with the fat front setup has worked out so well that I decided to go to that on my mountain bike. I found the fork from a FRAMED brand fat bike, for cheap, on eBay. I also found a 27.5x3.0 tire from the same company.

I installed the fork onto my frame, and mounted a Vee Rubber V8 26x4.0 tire on a fat bike wheel with a 50mm rim. On the rear, I mounted the 27.5x3.0 tire onto my old rear wheel, with a standard rim. It mounted up easily. The tube has 2 oz. of Stan's in it, as well.

I told my friends who had seen the bike after I built it up, last week, that I wasn't going to post anything about it until I actually went on a ride. So, Sunday morning, my buddy Danny came by and we loaded the bikes into the Big Damn Dodge and headed for Mt. Falcon to ride some of the loops on top of the mountain.

Danny brought his Surly Krampus, and while the 29x3.0 tires are pretty large, the 4-incher on the front of my bike, even on the relatively narrow rim, is noticeably wider. I was hoping that the fat front would allow me to roll over the rough stuff, while the Plus-sized rear would make for easier accelerating/climbing than a full fat bike.

We started out on the Parmalee Loop. Here's Danny descending,

And me, a little farther along on the trail. So far, so good! But, it was all descending, to this point. How would the bike climb?

We stopped where the trail traverses the slope, high above US-285, and snapped a few photos. This is at the top of a pretty strenuous climb. I was very happy with the uphill performance of the bike. The slightly narrower/lighter rear wheel helps on that, I think, while the big front tire allows you to take some less-than-optimum lines through the rocky spots and still continue rolling. Jeff Jones knew this, years ago. It just took me a while to figure it out...

The rear tire just barely has enough clearance in the frame. And, I get some chain/tire interference in the granny gear. Right now, I can live with that. If I actually become a mountain biker, again, and the bike becomes the limiting factor (rather than my fitness), I will start shopping for a frame with more rear tire clearance.

This frame is a 6-year-old 29er frame, with sliding dropouts. I have the dropouts all the way forward, or the 3-inch tire probably wouldn't be usable, at all. The geometry is great, though, for the fat front tire. It doesn't have the ponderous steering feel that most of my fat bikes have demonstrated.

The Walker House ruins are always an interesting stop...

...especially when one of the local residents comes out to say hello. I wish that I was quick enough on the draw, with my camera, to have gotten all of him in the picture! The snake was about as big around as my forearm, and 6 feet long. Pretty cool!

On the way out to the truck, on the Meadow Trail, we came across these fellows slack-lining. Pretty cool, as well!

So, the proof of concept ride for the bike went well. I think that the setup is as good, off-road, for me as it has been on my commuter. Now, I need to start gathering some bags and such to use for some bikepacking trips, as well as just going out for some singletrack cruising!


Thursday, June 30, 2016


when i went to Pennsylvania, it rained quite a bit. So, no bike riding was done there. After I got back, I was plying catch-up at work, so I rode the motorbike to work in an effort to conserve my energy for working. It worked out that I never even got on my bicycle until Bike To Work Day.

On BTWD, I rode the fat-front single speed. I had swapped the 16 tooth rear cog for an 20 tooth, because the 16 was just a little too much gear for my rides around Denver. The 20 is a little too low, as I found on my ride in. So, I have an 18 tooth cog on the way. (I find that, riding a freewheel single speed, I can't push the same gear as I can on a fixed.)

I rode to work, a couple of days ago, and I found myself doing the bmx bike thing where you sprint up to 18 or 20 mph, then coast until you get down to 15, then sprint again. It's fun, but a little tiring.

I really dig the Surly 1x1, but i wish my frame was a medium, rather than a large. It rides great, and I am very comfortable on it. But, with a 3-nch tire on the rear and a 4-inch on the front, the standover height is just a tad high for me. It isn't bad enough to make the bike dangerous, but I would just like to have a little room between the top tube and myself!

I have been ruminating on my mountain bike situation, a bit, lately. I need to get my thoughts in order, and write a post about that.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my front-yard-buddy I was hanging out with, this afternoon:


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thirty One Days On the Bicycle

Today marked 31 days in a row, every day in the month of May, on which I rode my bicycle. I never did a long ride, but I did ride 349 miles, total (according to the National Bicycle Challenge calculator, where I logged my rides).

I commuted to work and rode back and forth to the coffee shop, etc. Call it "utility cycling", or "transportation cycling", if you like. I'll call it a challenge successfully undertaken.

I'll probably miss riding, the next couple of days, as I am heading to PA for my nephew's high school graduation. The dog sitters/house sitters are lined up, and I fly out of Denver, tomorrow. When I get back, though, I will likely continue riding to work on a regular basis.

Who knows, maybe I'll go on an actual recreation ride, or two...


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wildlife and Bike Rides and Busy Days

Well, I have been on the bike, at least for a few miles, every day in May. Twenty one days of bicycling, in a row, has been great ... especially after the lazy months leading up to it.

There has been some rain, some cold temps (relatively, anyway, for this time of year) of 35 degrees on the way to work, and 40 on the way home. But, there have been some really nice days, as well.

Springtime in the Rockies...

Monday, as I rode through Garland Park on the way home from work, I saw probably 25 goslings hanging out with their parents. This family happened to be the closest to  the spot where I like to stop and take photos. Mom, Dad and 7 kids. 

I call them the Laudemans, because Steve and Martha have 7...

Yesterday, on the way home from the coffee shop, I cut through the DU campus. There, I spotted this Kestrel hanging out beside the water. I couldn't get real close, so the picture is a bit blurry.

And, just a few minutes ago, I was sitting on my front patio, and happened to glance over to the kindling pile. This guy was emerging from the pile. He eventually crawled off into the shrubbery to help rid the world of mice (I hope).

The everyday riding is a bit more of a challenge than it was the first time around, and not just because I'm 7 years older. Band practice and a different schedule at work have conspired to make for some long days. Thursday, for instance, I got up at 3:45, left the house at 4:25 AM, ran a class all day, rode home, had band practice, then went out for a beer, afterward. Twenty one hours after I got up, I went back to bed.

Got a good night's sleep last night, though, in preparation for playing a show at Herman's Hideaway, tonight.

Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Bicycle Challenge Time

A few years ago, I was feeling a bit down about how little I was riding my bicycle. So, I challenged myself to ride to work, every day, in May (since that's my birthday month). I ended up riding to work, every day that I went to the lab, for a little over 4 years.

Fast-forward to now. I am, once again, feeling down about my lack of bicycling, and my fitness level.

 You might say I'm feeling a bit flat...

My 55th birthday is around the corner, and I am feeling every one of those years. So, I am going to do the "every day in May" challenge again, this year.

I don't think I'll end up doing 4 years of daily bicycle commutes, this time, but I hope to at least get comfortable with both myself and the bike.

Now, if it will just stop snowing!


Another Guitar? Yep!

Last week, I went down to the local Guitar Center, to check out their used-guitar racks. There, I spotted this:

It's a Gibson SG Faded, a guitar I have been looking for for about a year. I could find them, here and there, on the internet, but I do not like to buy a guitar that I haven't test-driven. Plus, they tended to be a bit pricy for me.

This one was priced reasonably, even more so since I knew I could trade in a couple of my extra amps. And, that's what I did. I ended up with about $60.00 out of pocket, and now my list of Gibsons that I want has another checkmark on it.

Now, to find a buyable (for me ) Explorer and an RD Artist...


Monday, April 25, 2016

A Month Since I Last Posted?

Life has been pretty busy, but I was really surprised to realize that I had not posted in four weeks.

The weather has been, well ... Springtime in Colorado.

 We had two full days of wet, heavy snow falling.

 A day of rain/snow mix in the morning, with a little buildup of snow on my jacket as I rode the Scrambler to work.

  We also had sun, and highs in the 70s,

which the woodpile snakes seemed to enjoy.

Today is a 72 degree day. Rain, snow and cold air is supposed to move in, starting tomorrow, and the wind is gusting to 45 or 50 mph, at my house.

Tomorrow, I go to pick up something I bought, last week. Had to wait a couple of days to bring it home. I'll try to blog it, tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a bit more interesting than this post.