Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Goals

This past little bit, I have felt somewhat adrift in my everyday life. I have so many things going on (work, band, motorcycling, bicycling, handyman projects, life in general) that I often found I was doing nothing, since I just couldn't focus. Plus, I am getting pretty out of shape, since I don't put the focus on cycling that I once did.

So, I am trying a little experiment with bullet journaling, to try and keep things in focus. (If you don't know bullet journals, do a Google search, and be prepared to go down a rabbit hole if you like Moleskines and such...)

One of my goals to check off each week is to bicycle commute at least three times a week (and another is to blog at least once a week, by Wednesday night). Hopefully, the commuting will give me a subject to blog about, if nothing else.

I have two days under my belt, this week, and I plan to pedal, tomorrow, as well. Thursday, I have to go in at 5:00 AM and get everything rolling for the certification class we do each month, at work. So, I will ride the motorbike, that day.

Speaking of the motorbike, I bought a used Thruxton seat for it, last week, and ended up finding a used black and gold seat cowl for it, too.

 I got the seat because I know from having owned a Thruxton that this seat is more comfortable (and looks better) than the Scram seat. I got the cowl just because I thought it would look cool. I wasn't entirely sure that the cowl would be appropriate on the Scrambler, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I like it, particularly since it is a little beat and that matches the bike as much as the black and gold scheme. I may re-stripe it, and I may not.

Progress is being made toward going into the studio with Skull Full Of Blues, and all kinds of things are on my bullet list.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Bikepacking Trip on the Adventure Bike

I started building my camping bike back in March of this year, after I finally bit the bullet and gave up on trying to modify a standard frame to do what I want. (See the post here.) This past weekend, I finally got a chance to use it for what it was intended. Up to then, I had merely commuted on it and run errands in order to get my position on the bike dialed in and test the various bags I had mounted to it.

I got up early on Saturday morning and loaded the bike into the Chick Magnet, then drove to the Ride-Share lot at the I-70  Morrison exit to meet Danny Mac. We were headed up to what he had described as a rough cabin, sometimes used by hikers and hunters, on public land somewhere near Breckinridge. I brought my hammock, bivy and tarp just in case it was too tumble-down to sleep in or already occupied when we got there.

Once Dan rolled up, we loaded my bike onto his bike rack and took off to the west. As we drove, I became more and more excited to be on a camping trip. I counted it up and realized that it had been at least five, maybe six years since I had slept in the woods.

Once we parked the Rover and got the bikes off of the rack and loaded up, we took off. The initial part of the ride was up a pretty well-maintained, yet rugged, Forest Service road open to vehicular traffic.

There were a number of people camped in the designated spots along the road, and we began to worry that the cabin might be occupied when we got there. Even though it is a spot known to a relatively small number of people, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for some of that group to have beat us to the spot, or for someone else to stumbled upon it.

As we climbed, the road got rougher and the density of campers decreased, somewhat. Once we turned onto the trail (gated against motor vehicles) that actually led to the cabin, we were beginning to relax about being beat to the punch. We saw no tracks, from foot or tire, along the trail and figured we would be alone in that neck of the woods.

This is a lot steeper than the photo indicates!

Once at the cabin, we were relieved to see that no one was there. I was impressed with the outside appearance. I was anticipating something much rougher than the Spruce Lodge turned out to be.

Inside, it was quite nice ... more so than Danny even anticipated. The floor had been replaced since his last visit, and few niceties such as the chairs in this picture had been added.

We stowed our food in the cooler (more to keep the mice out than to try and keep it cold), threw our sleeping bags inside, then...

...popped open a couple of beers. Riding in had been thirsty work.

After a bit, we decided to hike around the area surrounding the cabin. Danny wanted to show me the neighborhood.

 This is more the condition I was seeing in my mind's eye, but with a roof, when Dan described the cabin to me.

As we hiked, I spotted some bear scat on a log. As you can see, it was quite fresh. We kept an eagle eye out for our ursine neighbor, after that. It was obvious that he was not too far away!

A view from the hillside above the cabin.

After awhile, we headed back to the cabin. We could see storm clouds gathering in around us, and we wanted to get back and get a fire started before it was too wet.

I wanted a nice campfire to sit around, if it wasn't pouring down rain (in which case the wood stove in the cabin would have to do), if for no other reason than to enjoy the bottle of Law's Four Grain Bourbon that I had recieved for finishing the long course at the inaugural Golden Giddyup, last
September. I had saved it for a special occasion, and I figured that this trip qualified.

One of those things I pride myself on is my ability to build a fire, quickly and efficiently. So, I gathered up fine tinder and started the process.  But, as they say, pride goeth before a fall.

I have never had as much trouble starting a fire, in my life. After a week of rain, the normally moist ground and wood in the area was soaked. The ground in the fire pit was so wet that even after I resorted to burning pages from my pocket notebook to start the kindling, steam would come up out of the wet ground make the paper smolder, rather than flame. (Next time, I'll start working on a piece of aluminum foil, or somesuch, to avoid that problem.)

Then, it started to rain. Not a drenching downpour, but a steady shower.

Finally, after much huffing and puffing (and way more matches than I ever thought I would use at once), I got the fire started. Danny split wood as I worked, and I added his splits onto my burning starter, and we eventually had a roaring fire

The rain moved on, and we settled into the evening. Dinner was cooked and eaten. Whiskey was opened and drunk up. We wandered up to the mining road/trail we had ridden in on and watched shooting stars for awhile, then moved back to the fire for more story telling and whiskey drinking.

Late in the evening, this little scamp ran into the cabin, then came back out. Not long after I took this picture, the fox returned and stole some food we had foolishly not secured well enough. It was a lesson well-learned, especially considering the bear scat we had seen earlier!

About midnight, we moved into the cabin. I shoveled some of our campfire coals into the wood stove, and added a few sticks of wood. By the time we went to bed, the inside of the cabin was toasty. I actually had to get out of my sleeping bag, for a while, in the middle of the night!

I got up at about 6:30, the next morning, not feeling particularly good. I figured it was the whiskey and the late night, so I  set about starting a fire in order to make some coffee and breakfast. The fire starting was a lot easier due, I think, to our previous night's fire drying the ground out under the fire pit. The tinder was still damp, but I have dealt with that before.Within a half hour, I had a mug of Kaladi coffee in my hand, and Danny came out of the cabin as I started working on coffee for him.

Camp coffee in my camp mug/whiskey glass...

Keeping my coffee warm as I cook...

I had shelled a half dozen eggs and frozen them in a plastic jar, for the trip, and they had thawed overnight. The yolks didn't really want to blend with the whites as I scrambled them, but they tasted just fine.

I knew something other than the late-night carousing was affecting me, though, when I was unable to finish my breakfast. The spicy deer-meat chorizo sausage that Danny brought was delicious (I ate it the next night, for dinner), but I had no appetite once I had eaten some eggs. It finally occurred to me that what I was suffering from was a classic case of altitude sickness. I haven't spent that much time over 10,000 feet elevation in years and, combined with a slight dehydration from riding and drinking, I was feeling the effects.

So, we packed the bikes and made a reluctant farewell to Spruce Lodge. As we rode back to the car, I was impressed with how the bike handled the baby-head rocks and water bars on the closed trail, and the off-camber dirt of the Forest Service road while still pretty heavily loaded. The bike had impressed me already, on the climb, but the speeds were pretty low on that leg of the trip. The 3.25" tires soaked it all up and allowed me concentrate on the beauty of the forest, rather than having to white-knuckle the ride like I imagine I would have on 2.35" tires.

The Gorilla Cages and bags on the fork worked excellently. Even though they had a quick-release feature, they remained rock-solid for the whole ride.

Once in the car and headed down from the Eisenhower Tunnel, I felt progressively better as we dropped in elevation (though I was quite sleepy). By the time we got back to town, I felt fine.

Danny and I parted ways, and I headed home. After a shower and a nap, I unloaded all of my gear and stowed the bike away, as I started planning my next trip, in my head. I can't wait!


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Summer Vacation - Day Two

The last time I saw my dad before he passed away, 7 years ago this month for both instances, I was packing the bags on my bike, getting ready to leave, as he watched. He had a look on his face, not his normal look of disapproval, but something else. Quizzical, I guess is a good word for it.

"What?", I asked, as I cinched down a strap.

" Motorcycles mean a lot to you; don't they?" he said.

I looked at him for a moment, then answered, "Yes, Daddy, they do. Motorcycles are a big part of my life."

Then, someone else walked up and the conversation took a turn. Daddy and I didn't speak of it, any more.

A couple of weeks later, I was flying back to Tennessee for Daddy's funeral. As I sat on the plane, drinking a vodka tonic, I thought back to that conversation. In truth, I wondered (and still do) if it actually took him over 35 years to realize that my love of motorcycles was not a "phase". Or, was there some deeper meaning behind it that, due to the interruption, I will never learn?

You see, Daddy and I never really got along.  He constantly disapproved of everything I did, and let me know what a disappointment I was to him. To the day he died, if he saw me with a guitar he would say, " Nice guitar. You should learn to play one, some day... "

So, as I thought about his motorcycle comment, I was trying to figure out some negative context for it. But, I could not. I have to hope and believe that he did, indeed, just finally figure out just how much the motorcycle means in my life.

I was thinking about that as I crossed the state line from Kansas into Iowa, this morning. I was heading to Des Moines, where I planned to turn toward Grand Rapids on US 6. The miles were going by smoothly, overcast skies kept the temperature down to a comfortable low-80s range, and the scenery was knocking me out.

I live in a place where majestic mountain vistas are easy to find, and I love it. But the Midwest farmland I was traveling through, today, has a majesty of its own. The green fields of corn flow across the landscape like waves on an ocean. One hundred fifty year-old farmhouses appear around every turn, and lead me to ponder the history soaked into the walls and floorboards. Do the descendants of the original owner still live there? How many doorframes are marked with progressive heights of generations of kids, now grown old or ... dead for decades?

Travelling slowly and forgetting to get in a hurry; those are my goals on this trip as much as getting to my various destinations.

I stopped alongside the road to snap a picture of this tank which guards the entrance to an RV park.

And, I pulled off the highway and explored the small town of Lucas, Iowa, just because the old architecture pleased me.

I ended up getting to the motorcycle museum, in Animosa, 45 minutes before closing time. The gal at the entrance gave me a two-day pass so that I could take a quick look, today, and return tomorrow for a more thorough visit.

I had a great ride, today. Rain sprinkled me outside of Des Moines, but not enough to worry about. The bike is running great, and I'm feeling good.

Motorcycles do mean a lot to me, and today reminded me of that at every turn.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017 - Day 1

In June of 1974, I got my first motorcycle, a Suzuki TS-100 Enduro. I immediately started dreaming of riding to glances far-flung. For the most part, until I was in my late 30s, those dreams went unrealized. About as far as I ever rode was from Memphis to Nashville, to visit my uncle.

In 1998, my wife and I separated and I was, for the first time in my life, a single adult male. I answered to no one, and I could make whatever plans suited me. The next year, I rode from Denver, Colorado to Savannah, Tennessee, on my GSXR-1100, to visit my parents along with my sister and my nephew's who drove down from Pennsylvania. That was the first of many trips back to visit the parental units, via motorcycle. Probably the best of those included riding my 1996 Trident straight through, 1238 miles in 20 hours, back to my apartment in Sherman Street.

Nowadays, I limit the mileage to 500-700 miles per day. I'm no longer young and flexible enough to randomly throw down 20+ hours in the saddle.

Today, I rode about 610 miles in 11 hours, from my house in Denver to Cameron, MO. Along the way I stopped at a motorbike museum in St. Francis, KS, and rode past the prettiest cornfield I have ever seen (what wasn't corn was mowed and manicured like the fairway on a golf course). I've seen that field before, and it always looks like that. It's impressive, but also a bit puzzling...

Speaking of corn, I noticed that for every 100 miles I rode toward the east, the height of the corn in the fields increased by about a foot. I figure the corn in Pennsylvania will be about 15 feet tall once I arrive!

Riding alone, with no music or conversation, I always realize how much I miss just sitting and thinking in my day to day life. I want to hear the bike running, and the traffic around me, as I ride, do I don't wear earbuds. That leaves me alone with my thoughts, for long periods, just like the old days before constant internet connection made idle time and daydreaming obsolete.

I love it.

Weather as perfect (sunny, peak temps in the high-80s), except for a bit more wind than I care for out on the plains. But, it's always windy on the plains.

The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. I hope my luck holds.

Time for bed, now. Tomorrow, I Head for Iowa and The National Motorcycle Museum.

(For  some reason, Blogger won't let me post photos from my phone. So, no pictures, today...😕)


Friday, June 02, 2017

The Faux Surly

Every now and then, I attempt a project that doesn't pan out. One of those was to build a 650b/27.5+ bike from a standard 29er frame. I first tried it with my old Bikes Direct 29" aluminum frame, but it was lacking in tire clearance. So, I purchase a cro/mo frame off of Amazon for $139.00, thinking I might be able to massage the steel chainstays into accepting a 3" tire. (I looked on Amazon, yesterday, and those frames are on sale for $59.99! Of course they waited until after I bought mine to drop the price!)

Unfortunately, that did not work out and I ended up purchasing a bike in order to satisfy my Plus-sized requirements. But, that left me with an extra frame, which I hate to have hanging around, so I purchased a few parts, pulled a few parts from my parts boxes, and built up what I intended to be a 27.5x2.3"-tired "standard" mountain bike.

 Here it is with the 2.3" tires.

But, after a few days, I thought, "Why not put that 3-inch tire on the front? The Surly fork will accept it, and that will give me a bit more bump-compliance on the trail..." So, I put the 3" tire on it, and rode it back and forth to the coffee shop. The big front tire felt good, but now the 2.3" rear tire looked out of proportion in comparison.

So, a quick search for an affordable larger tire, which would fit into the frame, led me to purchase a Maxxis Minion in the 2.5" width (a considerably wider tire than the 2.3" Pacenti, due to the size of the knobs and the construction of the tire). The Minion is a downhill-racing oriented tire, and a bit heavy, but it suits the bill on this bike.

Here is the bike with the new tires, after a commute home from work, this week.

As sometimes happens, the "let's use up an extra frame and some random parts" bike ended up being much more than the sum of its parts. I pretty much fell in love with it, and it's the only bike I have ridden for the past couple of weeks. Looking at how it worked out, I sort of feel like I could have saved the money I spent on my camping rig by building this bike up like this and using it for both trail riding and bikepacking. But, I have both bikes now, so it is an embarrassment of riches, I suppose.

I call the bike the "Faux Surly" for a couple of reasons. First, the fork is a Surly Karate Monkey fork I bought used off of eBay, and it has Surly logos on both legs. Secondly, the green paint on the frame looks very much like the green paint that Surly has used on a few of their frames, through the years.

But, mostly, the frame looks very similar to a Surly Ogre frame, in construction. It has the same headtube gussets as the Ogre, but lacks the nice Surly dropouts. (The dropouts on this frame are massive, though, and it looks like you could cut them out and replace them with the Surly items, if you wanted.)

Here is an REI catalog photo of the 2013 Ogre. Look closely and you can see the reinforcement on the toptube, as well as the gusset under the downtube.

Here are the gussets on my frame.

The Faux Surly lacks the curved seat tube of the Ogre, but otherwise seems identical at a glance. I'm afraid, when I am out on it, that some owner of an actual Surly is going to think I am trying to counterfeit his bike!

I'm considering getting some decals for the downtube that say "Not A Surly"...

Parked in my cubicle, at work...

I think that I could possibly get a 2.8" tire in the frame, but the Minion seems plenty big enough, right now. I'll wait until it needs replacing before I worry about trying to go bigger.

This is the first bike I have built for myself, in quite some time, with an upright bar on it. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but it suits me on this bike. The width is massive (740mm), and I think that may be why I like it. It really feels natural on this bike. I think I'm going to like it on the trail, particularly when climbing.

Now, if it will ever stop raining here in sunny Colorado, I am ready to hit the trails and get this thing dirty.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Hey, Jon ... Why Don't You Have a Suspension Fork?

There's a question I hear more than a few times a year. And, I understand why.

The current State Of The Art in mountain bikes includes not only a long-travel suspension fork on the front, but equally long travel on the rear end of the bike. According to the pundits, you simply must have the springs if you are a "serious" mountain biker.

So, I guess the easy answer to the question of why no "sproinger" for Jon would be that I am not a serious mountain biker. The problem with that is that I do, oddly enough, consider myself serious about mountain biking. What I am not serious about is mountain bike racing.

 How serious am I about racing? This is the bike I used for the Golden Giddyup Enduro, last year...

Regardless of what the bicycling industry and press might lead you to believe, suspension components are not a necessity for enjoying a mountain bike on the trail. They are only necessary to stay competitive in racing.

But, you say, suspension allows you to ride farther with less fatigue. And, that is somewhat true. I personally think that subtracting the added weight of the suspension components, on climbs, removes a bit of fatigue from the ride, as well. Fatigue is part of riding off-road. If your riding partners are suspended, and wearing you out, then you are back into the racing mentality of keeping up with others. At that point, yeah, you need to buy some plushness. Or, maybe, ride with other people...

I know that a lot of my old group no longer even considers inviting me along for rides, since I don't have a "serious" bike. They feel that I won't be able to keep up with their rigs. The truth is, I wouldn't keep up with a lot of them, on any bike, just because I have slowed down quite a bit, these last few years. 

As I tell people, my brake levers slow me down a lot more than my rigid fork does. I just don't have the desire to experience (or ability to recover from) high-speed crashes on the downhills, any longer. My collar bone has been broken enough for one lifetime ... or two.

That's why bikes like this appeal to me so much, nowadays. This bike is all about getting away from pavement and enjoying the ride, not about getting somewhere in the shortest time possible. The big tires allow me to ride though conditions that would leave me pushing the bike with 2.3" tires, and they also take up a lot of the small shocks you encounter on the trail, alleviating a little of the fatigue. (Of course, they add back the weight I lost by eschewing suspension. But, you can't have everything.)

If I want to ride (relatively) fast, this is the bike I reach for, currently:

Actual upright bars! Speedy 650bx2.3" tires!  Chromoly steel frame and fork!

You have to realize that when I started mountain biking, in the late 1980s, there were no commercially-available suspension forks available, and we rode our bikes off-road just as seriously then as now. It amuses me when people comment that my rigid bike is probably just fine for the more mellow trails. I wonder where they think it is that all of the "serious" trails came from. The majority of the trails in Moab and Crested Butte and any other long-term mtb destination site you can think of were built by guys on rigid bikes, with 15 or 18 speeds and crappy brakes.

 When I started working in a bike shop, in 1993, we all would sit around and debate the need, or lack thereof, for suspension forks. I maintained then, as now, that you only "needed" suspension if everyone else had it and you wanted to compete with them. That got me labelled as a "Retro Grouch" by the group.
I wonder what they would all call me now!

During my tenure working in shops, however, I did run suspension; at first on the front, then on both ends of the bike. I was, at that point, fairly serious about racing, even though I knew I would never win a race. Still, I wanted to be competitive. Plus, as a shop employee, I needed to promote the products we were selling.
It's somewhat telling that, toward the end of my time working in shops, I mostly rode my cyclocross bike on mountain bike rides, with 700x35c tires. That was about the time that I started realizing that I enjoyed "under-biking" more than I enjoyed keeping up with the mtb arms race that was ramping up, even then.

I graduated to Monstercross, eventually (700cx2.0" or bigger tires, with drop bars on a rigid bike). Nowadays, Monstercross has morphed into, simply, drop-bar mountain bike, since 29er (700c) wheels are now the norm for mountain bikes. Most of my bikes, now, fall into that old Monstercross setup, but are now what we call, simply, drop-bar mountain bikes. Twenty-nine-inch tires have become the norm for mtb, so 700x50-60c (2.0-2.3") tires are no longer considered large cross tires but, rather, normal mtb tires. And, old-school 26" and 650b/27.5" tires work just as well with the drop-bar setup, for me.
Budgetary constraints come into play, as well, of course. The cost of a decent suspension fork, on the aftermarket, nowadays is more than the cost of any of the bikes I currently own. The only way to affordably get a decent fork is to invest in a new bike, which would cost at least 150 to 200% of my current most-expensive bike. Even if I wanted to add the complexity and maintenance to my ride, I really don't feel like it's a good investment, anyway.

So, why do I not not have a suspension fork? Basically it just boils down to not wanting/needing one enough to spend the money and time it takes to buy one and set it up.  For those of you who do run them, rock on! Build up and ride the bike that works for you, and I'll do the same.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Perfection Is An Elusive Moving Target, and I have Just Fired Yet Another Shot At It

 Recently, Chris at the Pondero blog built up a new bike, which he referred to as related to his vision of the perfect bike, which he had formed in the 1970s, and Adventure Bike. Read his post, and check out his bike here.

Over the years, I have had more than one distinct vision of what would make the perfect bicycle. When I was 10, I wanted a bike with 26" wheels and a basket. I t was my understanding that big wheels would be more efficient than the 20" wheels on my Sears Spyder Bike Stingray clone. The basket would allow me to carry some food and water for all-day excursions. I got that bike, and it was perfect ... for awhile. Then, I started feeling the need for variable speeds, and better brakes, and the ability to ride through the woods and on gravel roads. The 10-speed road bikes of the day would not suit for that. Basically, I wanted a mountain bike.

But, in 1971, there was no such thing, on a commercial scale. Oh, sure, there were a few outside-the-box thinkers around the world who had married Schwinn 3-speeds and cantilever brakes into "woodsie" bikes, and such. And, the buffalo soldiers made their famous cross country trek in 1896, but there was nothing remotely like a purpose-built mountain bike available in the early 1970s.

John Finley Scott's "Woodsie Bike" from 1953

Eventually, bicycles took a backseat to motorcycles, in my world, and I only returned to pedaling through riding a 10-speed Triumph bicycle in college. Then, one day in 1985, my wife and i were at a book store when I spied the cover of  The Mountain Bike Book, by Rob Van der Plas:

The bike on the front cover of that book spoke volumes to me. It looked like human-powered dirt bike, to my moto-centric way of thinking. The mountain bike looked like the perfect bike, to me, at that point.

Not long after, I had my first mtb under me. It was an inexpensive Motiv, from Sam's club, and i loved it. From it, I moved to a Cannondale SM800 Beast Of The East, thence to a Specialized M2 Stumpjumper, with a Manitou 2 fork on it. Perfection was morphing from a standard, rigid fork and frame mtb, to suspension fork, then full-suspension, equipped machines.

In the late 1990s, my image of perfection took an odd turn toward the cyclocross bike. Drop bars and 35c tires on wide 700c wheels suited me just fine. This setup was a lot more efficient on the road, and still allowed me ride off-road and on gravel. The "perfect" combination of attributes for a bike.

Then came the 29er revolution, and the advent of drop-bar "monster-cross" bikes; essentially 29" mtb's with lower bottom brackets and off-road-oriented drops or variations on the mustache bar. They were not quite as easy to ride on the road (if you ran knobbies), but the ease of off-roading was greatly improved over that of the cyclocross bike.

In 2010, I was approached by my friend Darryl Funk, a custom bike builder, about what I thought would be the the "only bike", the one bike someone could own and not need another. In other words, the Perfect Bike. My list of attributes:

Titanium, due to its longevity more than any weight consideration. 
Disc brake equipped for easier wheel-size swapping
Clearance for fat 650b tires, 29" mtb tires (and the ability to run cross or road tires, of course)
Late-1980s mtb geometry with a road bike bottom bracket height
Loads of rack and fender eyelets, just in case

In exchange for drawing up a design, Darryl agreed to sell me the prototype frame at a fraction of the retail cost. So, I drew it up, and he built it:

 The Funk Bicycles "Daily Grind" prototype frame

I made a slight miscalculation on the bottom bracket drop, which resulted in the bottom bracket sitting about an inch lower than I had intended, so I run 165mm cranks on this bike in order to avoid pedal strike. I honestly think it adds to the "perfection" of the ride, but plans were made to raise the bb height up for production. However, no more examples were ever built, and I ended up with the only one of these in existence.

This bike maintained its "perfect" status for a number of years, I rode paved Century rides, gravel Centuries, raced 24-hour solo mtb events, took it to Fruita and Moab for desert fun, commuted and ran errands on it.

Now, it is slightly less than "perfect" due the advent of Plus-sized tires: 27.5 x 3" to be precise. It doesn't have the clearance for these oversized tires, and that limits it, somewhat, at this juncture, when it comes to being the do-everything bike I want it to be. (I dismiss the lack of 4" tire clearance, as I think of that style of bike as being a bit too specialized to be included in the " all-rounder" category).

 This brings us back, at long last, to Pondero's Adventure Bike. He is running 27.5 x 2.8" tires on a sorta-drop-bar set-up. Some of you may recall that I have been experimenting with that size, trying to use an existing frame to create my own Adventure Bike. But, I have consistently been stymied by the lack of adequate clearance for a 2.8 to 3" (my preference) tire between the chainstays.

Chris solved this problem by commissioning a custom frame, sized to those wheels and tires. Unfortunately, I can not afford to go that route, hence the reason I have been trying to modify 29er frames to work for me.

So, I went in a slightly different (180 degrees "slightly different") route and ordered an alloy Plus-sized bike from the infamous Bikes Direct web store. Many people look down upon the BD bikes but, for me, they make a good inexpensive starting platform from which to build what I want. My first 29er frame, which I still have, was a BD frame, and it has served me well for close to 10 years, now.

Here is the bike, as pictured on the website:

Alloy frame, chromoly fork, hideously cheap and crappy bottom bracket and crank ... but it has the bones of what I want: 27.5 x 3.25" tires and room for 26 x 4", if I decide I decide I also need a full-on fatbike, once again. It's basically the BD fatbike, with the now-obsolete 170x135 hub spacing and 100mm bottom bracket, which has been fitted with the 27.5Plus wheels and tires.

Once I received the bike, the modifications began:

The first things to go were the crappy Suntour bottom bracket and crank, along with a really flexible front derailleur. In their place, an LX derailleur ($6.35 on closeout!), and a SRAM X-5 external bearing bottom bracket/crankset. Plus, some cool VP pedals. (I have used this model pedal on a couple of bikes, and I really like them.)
A new 40-degree rise/80mm stem holds one of my Surly Open Bars, with Ergon grips. I left the stock shifters in place, to see if they work out. I've not used below the bar click-shifters on any of my bikes, in the past, but these SRAM shifters seem kind of nice. The brake levers will go as soon as I happen upon some nicer levers at an affordable price.

My old Syncros seat post went in, topped by my Brooks C-17. The bag I already had.

So, there it is, almost complete. I have a tubeless conversion kit I am going to try out on these wheels, and a SRAM X-9 rear derailleur to replace the X-5 which is currently on there. I also want a nicer cogset, but again am waiting to find a decent deal on what I want.

Total outlay, thus far, is less than $800. If I actually ride this bike enough to justify it, I may eventually buy a nicer CrMo frame and swap the parts over, but not this year. That would, at the very least, double my financial investment in the bike.

So, it it "perfect"? Not by a long shot. But, it is serviceable. And, after all, as the ancient Persian rug makers used to say, "Perfection is the realm of Allah."