Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Like Open Bars

Rusty wheel-less Huffy inexplicably locked to a bike rack
in front of NYC Velo
The 30 minutes were almost up on our Citi Ride bikes, so we checked them into a lower Manhattan bike station. Maybe we'd find a bike shop, I sort of had in my head that I might buy a set of Surly Open Bars if I could find a decent price. I had a hard time swallowing the $60 online price so figured I might at least save on shipping.

At NYC Velo I asked the proprietor if they carried Surly.

"Yes" he replied.

"Would you happen to have any Open Bars" in stock" I asked. Fat chance.

"Yeah. As a matter of fact I do" and he produced a bundle of them from under the counter.

My pulse quickened. I didn't particularly want to lug a set of handlebars around Manhattan for the rest of the day, but what the heck. "How much" I asked, figuring the New York City markup would bring it close to $70.

"Twenty dollars" he said.

Holy shit. "I'll take it."

Fast forward to today when I rode The Double Bonus loop with the new bars installed. The bars are amazing. The substantial sweep puts my wrist in a natural position and the flexy steel takes the sting out of the full rigid ride. Combined with the fact that I have recently figured out how to tune the "self-steering" out of those Vee Rubber Mission tires (it's totally a tire pressure thing), the bike is starting to get dialed-in.  It's closer to an eleven. The wrist doesn't hurt. The bike rails turns without any inkling of self steering.

But before you run over to NYC Velo for your $20 Open Bars, be advised that it's a 25.4mm diameter (not 31.8mm like most mountain bars) so you'll need a different stem. I pulled one off Sara's bike. It's heavy and has more rise than I would like, but it will keep me going until I can find the one I want.

Remaining upgrades for the fat bike:

  • Replace large ring with a bash guard (convert from 3x9 to 2x9)
  • Lighter tubes (saves like a pound of rotating mass)
  • "Hog out" the rims (Rob's words)
  • Change calipers to BB7 (no rush)
  • Remove the dork disk


"It won't make you ride better, it will make you ride more, and that will make you ride better."
     -- Nippleworks ad

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spare Square

So today I rushed home early after work so I could go running with my favorite distance runner. Well, actually, she would do the running and I would be riding but the point is we'd be doing it together.

We decided to ride from The Cheater Lot so I could show her some new trails. My plan was to ride ahead, stopping at each intersection to wait for her and point her in the right direction. It turned out I did not have to do much waiting, because she was pretty much on my tail until the mid-point.

This is where the story actually starts.

I was waiting at an intersection, a little surprised that she wasn't still on my wheel. It was at the top of a good climb and while I definitely have the advantage on downhills, on uphills she had been right there with me. After a minute I doubled back only to find her in some distress.

I will spare you the details, but suffice to say she was "relieved" that I came prepared with some emergency "paper supplies" in my backpack for just this sort of emergency. And best of all, we now have a another named section of single track, aptly dubbed "Turn Number Two."


"Can you spare a square?"
     -- Elaine Benes

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Just About Perfect

The air was warm and silky. The dirt was smooth, fast, and tacky. Twenty of us rode for almost three hours at a good pace. Fast enough for an occasional burn, but slow enough to avoid any risk of a season opening blow-up. It was a long steady draw-down of the tank. EXACTLY what I needed to clear the cobwebs from a tough winter.

Watching the train of bikes ahead, snaking through the woods, was sublime. It was one continuous train, with each bike hooked to the one in front by an imaginary bungee cord gently pulling each rider along. The bungee cord was made by mother nature from the love of riding. It was perfect.

That's not my knee, that's where the top
tube smashed the inside of my tibia.
Well, almost. I rolled up behind a pileup in the chunnel and chose a bad line (there were no good ones left). Thankfully there was about a foot of water running through the culvert so as my tire slid out on the slimy algae coated metal sidewall of the culvert, my left pedal was filleting open my shin and the top tube was smashing the inside of my tibia and my leg was bathed in refreshing bacteria-infested farm runoff.

Back in the lot after the ride, Susan hit me with some sort of disinfecting spray. She said it was "for kids." The irony of that was not lost on me and I wouldn't have it any other way. "Perfect" I said.

Every year we have one of these rides. You never know when or where it's going to happen. But it's the first perfect ride of the year, and you know there is a full riding season of them ahead of you. And that is one pretty incredible feeling.


"There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so worthwhile as simply messing about on bicycles"
     -- Tom Kunich

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scene of the Crime

Scene of the crime, we will never be able
to look at that spot the same way again.
February 19 was the Chinese New Year, celebrated with parades and fireworks. April 11 was the local Mountain Biking New Year, celebrated with bikes and beer and jocularity and just a pinch of debauchery.

There is nothing like that first FHHR of the year, tying a bow on the workweek, welcoming the weekend, and looking forward to the months of Fridays to come.