Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Little Jaunt On the Scrambler

...or, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation"...

I hit the road at 8:15 AM, last Monday (the 15th) after stopping by the DMV to renew my registration. I always do so online, but I noticed on Sunday, as I packed the bike, that I had somehow missed it. Due to my late start, I took the quick route past Ft, Collins on I-25, then west to 287 to Laramie, Wyoming. A hundred miles of I-80, then I turned north and went through Lander.

That's "The Bike Mill", one of the bike shops in Lander, in the background. Make the picture bigger and check the top of the grain elevator.

 After I left Lander, I noticed that the odometer was about to roll over on 20,000 miles, so I stopped and took a picture when it did. Of course, the bike actually has an additional 2461 miles on it, which I put on before swapping out the speedometer. Still, I like to see those 4-zeros numbers when they roll by.

Eventually, the Tetons came into view. Not long after, I turned north and reached the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. I paid my $40.00 admission fee, and rolled onward toward Yellowstone. I was unsure if I would have to pay, again, to enter Yellowstone and I was relieved to find that my 7-day park pass gave me access to both parks.

This is the gorge, alongside the road near the South Entrance. It was pretty impressive, but it was just a preview of what was to come.

I got to Grant Village, where I would be staying with my sister and her family while they were still out in the park. I decided to wait for them at the General Store/Souvenir Shop. I parked up near all of these bikes. I think that most of them were traveling together, since i saw a bunch of them riding together, the next day.

Isa Lake, which sits astraddle the Continental Divide. Each end of the lake drains to a separate coast. The east end drains to California, and the west end drains to the Mississippi.

Oddly (to me, anyway), I crossed the Divide 4 times on the way to Yellowstone, at elevations lower than 8,000 feet, and not in the mountains. All of my experience with the Divide, previously, has been in Colorado (10,000 to 12,000 feet elevation, in the middle of the Rockies).

This is a trail down to the bottom of a waterfall which most people see from the man-made overlook above. The nephews and I, of course, just had to climb down and check it out from below.

It was well worth the scramble.

Kyle, climbing up to a small cave he had spotted from riverside.

The view from inside the cave.
Once we climbed back up, Joy and Steve pointed out this beetle in the parking lot. Pretty impressive antennae!

Old Faithful Inn, built in the early 20th Century.

Inside the lobby of the Inn.

I loved this fireplace and chimney.
One of the hot springs, in the geyser field. I found the springs mesmerizing, for some reason, maybe because they offer a tantalizing look under the surface, but you can't see far and it adds some mystery. I actually found them as interesting, if not more, than the geysers.

The Inn, from across the geyser field.

Old Faithful. Can't go to Yellowstone without taking a picture of the world's most famous geyser...

Over Steve's shoulder is the view from the second floor veranda of the Inn, looking directly at Old Faithful. This would be an awesome place to watch the geyser erupt, vodka tonic in hand!

The weight-driven clock on the chimney was awesome. (I should have been an anthropologist or archaeologist, instead of a geologist. I'm always fascinated as much by the man-made structures by the natural wonders I encounter.)

The grand Prismatic Spring was huge (200 feet across) and really colorful.

These red dragonflies were visible throughout the park. I had never seen them, before, and finally manged to catch one at rest so that I could get a picture.

Goofing off.

There were some fires burning in the north end of the park, close to the West Entrance. At one point, the smoke was blotting out the sun.

Bison on Parade. This was common, along the roads.

There is an Osprey nest on top of that rock spire, with a juvenile Osprey sitting in it. As we watched, one of the parents flew in, dropped off a fish for Junior, ythen took off again.

My Matthew Brady phase of photography.

Kyle found this Bison wool (it builds up on their necks and they shed it, eventually). We really wanted to take it home, but, National Park regulations don't allow. So, we left it for someone else to enjoy.

On Thursday, I got up and left before breakfast, but still didn't get on the road until, once again, 8:15. But, since I wasn't on a schedule, I decided to take the scenic route home (which is also the slow route), down through Grand Teton, then Jackson and, eventually, to Vernal, Utah, where i would turn east and head home through Steamboat Springs.

Photo ops abound, along the way.

Highway 191, just south of Jackson, had an 8-mile "No Passing" zone which consisted of curve after curve after curve, alongside a nice little river. I enjoyed that stretch enough to make the slow route worthwhile, on its own.

Just north of the Wyoming/Utah line, the road overlooks some pretty impressive scenery.

The road takes you through Flaming Gorge Recreation Area, which is beautiful, and may well become a destination for a future trip.

After turning east, I was plagued by strong crosswinds, worse than the already bad wind i had fought, off and on, all day. Then, 5 miles from Steamboat, the rain I had been skirting all day finally got me.

At sundown, i was gassing up in Steamboat, with my rain gear on. I was a little nervous about heading toward Kremmling at that time of day. There is a lot of wildlife which likes to cross the road, in that area.

 The trip to Kremmling was uneventful, but there were two separate stretches of highway, south of Kremmling, where the pavement had been completely ripped out, in preparation for repaving. So, 11 hours into the ride, I was riding on mud. In the rain. At night. On a loaded motorbike.

Fun, fun!

I stopped in Silverthorne, and put on all of the warm clothes I had packed for mountain riding, then took off, again, into the rain. The temperature in Silverthorne was 35 degrees F, but it was actually about 5 degrees warmer at the tunnel, so I wasn't concerned about hitting snow.  And, yes, that is a possibility, even in August.

The trip to the tunnel, and down to Idaho Springs was a fairly scary ride. But, as it always does, eventually, the rain let up and i cruised on into Denver on dry roads.


At the end of the day, I was on the road for 14 hours, and I covered 690 miles.

I'm already looking forward to my next trip!

The next day, I took this picture of all of the additional clothing I had on between my regular riding gear and my rain suit: snowboard pants, hoodie sweatshirt, knit cap, winter gloves and arm warmers just barely kept me warm, But, they did keep me warm enough to ride until I got down to a lower elevation.

On Friday, I rode the mountain bike down to the coffee shop, to work some of the kinks out. It was a nice change. Kinda makes me want to do a big bicycle ride, too...

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Tire Clearance Issues

When I put the Plus-sized tires on the old Motobecane frame, I knew that tire clearance was going to be something of an issue on the rear.  The chainstays curve in very close to where the meat of the tire sits. The smaller diameter wheel, which allows the added height of the 3" cross-section tire moves the tire farther back in relation to the chainstays.

It helps that the frame has sliding dropouts, as that allows me to push the wheel farther forward. Unfortunately, the aluminum dropouts have been deformed, somewhat, under the fixing bolts. If you slide the axle forward, the bolt wants to work its way back into the depression in the dropout, moving the wheel back to the original location.


If you look at the drououts, from behind, there is plenty of room to drill new holes, and allow the wheel to move forward quite a bit more. I had planned on doing just this, until I realized that it really wouldn't work.

While there is plenty of the room for the wheel to move forward, the quick-release axle would then be behind the stationary part of the droopout (the frame, in other words).

So, I did manage to get the maximum forward adjustment which is available with the droupouts, by torquing  against the wheel with my foot as I tightened the bolts. Now, the wheel is as far forward as possible, but I have to trove the WR nut completely in order to get the axle past the rear derailleur pivot. 

I suspect that there is a new frame in my future, but I am waiting to make sure that I put enough miles on the bike to justify the expense. 

I sold my tubeless b+ wheel set and tires, over the weekend. Pretty much got back what I had in them. So, I was happy with that. 

Today, the motorbike is loaded up and ready to roll. I'm on my way to Yellowstone, for a few days. Puctures, etc, later. 


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Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Tale Of Two Fat Front Bikes

I got my last bikepacking bag for the "new" mountain bike, yesterday (the Bikes Direct Motobcane frame I have owned for 6 years, now). So, now, I have the sling-style handlebar bag, a frame bag, a "gas tank" bag and the big seat bag.

The sling bag has a piece which mounts to the bars. It holds a dry bag, which allows you to pack and unpack without having to undo the fixing straps. The dry bag is a bit small for my existing sleeping bag, so I will either have to get another sleeping bag, or a larger dry bag, eventually.

 The frame bag is the same model I have on the Surly 1x1. It is not as rugged as a Revelate, or any of the "name" brands, but it cost less than a tenth of what those major brands sell for. I think it will work fine, for the the use I will put it to.

 The tail bag was on sale for 50% off, when I bought it. With that discount, the cheap frame bag and the inexpensive Giant Bicycles branded handlebar sling, I bought the entire setup, including the small "gas tank" sitting on the top tube, for about the price of a Revelate frame bag. That was about all my budget would allow...

Now, I am trying to decide if I want to swap forks between the Surly and the Bikes Direct frames.


This head-on shot of the two bikes, side by side, shows why I am considering the swap. The 80mm rim on the Surly spreads the tire bead out and allows the tire to run at its full 4" width. The 50mm rim on the Motobecane actually rounds the tire out, cross section-wise, and reduces the width to 3.5"

So, why this talk about swapping the forks? Why not just swap the wheels?

Well, the fork dropout spacing on the Surly is a standard 100mm, while the spacing on the Framed fat bike fork on the Motobecane is 135mm (the old fat bike standard). In order to swap the wheels, I have to swap the forks.

I am considering this swap because the Surly is essentially a commuter bike, running on the road full-time, while the Motobecane is my off-road bike. It makes more sense to have the larger, higher flotation tire on the front of the off-road bike. It also would allow me to mount it on a standard roof rack, if I ride with someone else on the way to a trail. I don't really need that ability to carry my commuter bike.

But, I sort of hate to take the Surly fork off of the Surly bike. It's silly, but I like the "Surliness" of that bike (Surly frame, fork, seat post clamp, chain tugs, rim, handlebar and fork), and I hate to detract from that.

Still, I'm thinking about it...

 
 In this shot, you can see the difference in rim width, between the two bikes.


The frame bags on the two bikes are the same size. The Surly is a size large bike built for standard 26" mtb rims, and the Motobecane is a size Small 29er. The Surly is too big for me to ride off-road, with the big tires. I have less than zero inches standover clearance with this setup. Not a big problem on my commute, but could well be a problem on a rough trail.

I also got lights, a frame pump, a multi-tool and a spare tube for the Motobecane. I plan to commute on it, a few times, and I've been riding it to the coffee shop and back in order to fine tune the setup. I was having to swap tools and flat repair stuff between the bikes, before. Now, the bikes are all self-contained.

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Monday, August 01, 2016

More Mountain Biking, and Other Stuff

Two Fridays ago, Brad and I took a little jaunt up to Breckenridge in order to meet up with Chris Johnson, whom we have known for several years as Pondero, on his blog. Chris was in Breck for business, and stayed an extra day in order to enjoy a little recreation time in the mountains. he invited us up, to finally meet in person, and maybe cruise around on bikes a little.

So, Brad and I loaded up his Rambler and his MB-3, along with my Funk, and headed uphill. Once in Breckenridge, we found Chris and set about having a really nice day.

After lunch, we decided to take a bike ride. Thinking that Chris, from roughly 800 feet above sea level, would only feel like a casual cruise, neither Brad nor i had brought helmets, or serious mountain bikes. Of course, Chris wanted to explore some local singletrack, while it was available to him.

Who can blame him?

So, uphill we rode, past the ski area to The Peak Trail, which connects Breck to Frisco, by way of a rocky, rooty singletrack. The last time I had ridden this trail was roughly 15 years ago, with Shawn Bohrer, while we in Frisco to work the Campus Cycles support tent for The Courage Classic (I think) bike ride.

Chris has a really nice write-up, here.

 Brad and Chris on Ski Hill Road, heading up to the trail...


...and on the trail (along with my Funk) 

Chris mentioned, in his blog post, that the conversation between Brad and me was pretty much nonstop. He had just met us, so he didn't know that we are gabby bastards, and the constant chatter is pretty normal.
One of the things we talked about was the preoccupation cyclists tend to have with finding the optimum tire for certain conditions. I pointed out that Chris was on old-school 26" Continental Town and Country tires, Brad was on 650b Bruce Gordon Rock and Roads, and I was 700x35 Schwalbe CX Pros, inflated to 80 psi, and we were all having a ball on the trail. Sometimes, it's best to just stop thinking about it and ride.

It was a fun ride, and the second mtb ride for me within 7 days. I felt pretty good about that.

We ended up hanging with Chris until almost midnight, before heading back to Denver.

The next night, I played with Skull Full Of Blues at Herman's Hideaway. Then, on Sunday, I played a 3-hour solo gig at Fermaentra. By Monday, I was a little relieved to go back to work, so that I could get a little rest!

 My setup at Fermaentra: I played my 4-string cigar box guitar for slide, and my 1966 Harmony H-72 for the standard-tuning songs, both through a Peavey Classic 20 tube amp.

On Monday afternoon, I came home and mowed my front yard, then my jungle-like back yard. After I got through mowing, I wheel-barrowed the 48 bags of soil I had brought home from work, the previous Thursday, back to my collapsed well, and tossed them in.

The 2000 pounds of rock and soil filled the hole about 3/5 of the way to the top:



After the busy weekend, and all of the physical labor on Monday, I was bushed.

Bushed, I say.
 
But, on Thursday, I decided that I wanted to go ahead and clean up the 12 years of accumulated broken bike frames and rusty wheels that I had piled up around my property. So, I called a roll-off dumpster company, and had a 20 cubic yard (22'x8'x4') dumpster delivered on Friday.

By Sunday evening, I had cleaned up all of the derelict bikes, trimmed my trees, torn down the old dog pen and removed a pile of lumber that I had gotten 12 years ago, when I moved into the house. I loaded all of that up, with some help from Carol, in two and a half days.

I thought that I was bushed, last Monday...

I am whipped, today!

But, the yard looks a lot better, the back porch is usable, again, and I have a pile of yard-sale merchandise to sell.

I had originally planned to have a yard sale, this coming weekend, but I don't think i can get my ducks in a row by then. So, I think I will have it Friday after next ... then play at Fermaentra on that Saturday for a bottling release ... before I jump on the motorcycle on Sunday and ride to Yellowstone...

Have I mentioned that August looks a bit busy?

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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!


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