Friday, April 18, 2014

New sneakers, new stoppers

I guess I've been slacking on updating the blog, to my six followers, I apologize! 

I have been riding a mix of the road bike, RIP9 and the Fatboy pretty regularly. All good fun! We had a beautiful weekend to ride last weekend and I took full advantage doing 4 rides in 2 days. 

The tires on my road bike had dry rot on the sidewalls, they are 18 months old so I guess that's good life, though I really only had about 1500 miles on them, I would have expected more miles out of a pair of tires on the road. If this was my mountain bike I'd ride them until failure, or more evidence of impending failure. The road is a different animal though, I started to think about those sidewalls on every downhill - a tire failure at 50mph would be pretty dramatic, in a bad way. 

I figured I'd swap out the brake pads at the same time, wow glad I did, the old ones were really worn down. 

I got some new tires for the bike, they were $45 each, which doesn't seem so bad compared to the average cost of a mountain bike tire, but when you take that road tire out of the box and see how little it weighs, let's just say on a dollar/pound basis these things are expensive! I didn't take any pictures of the road bike tires, lets face it one slick tire looks an awful lot like any other one. 

I was really surprised I noticed a huge difference on a short ride yesterday, I expected to notice the brakes with much better stopping power. I was surprised how much of a difference the tires made, the bike is so much smoother. I wouldn't have thought one slick tire would feel different than another.

Speaking of expensive tires, they finally release the Specialized Ground Control tires for purchase on the Specialized website (and to dealers) - $160 per tire - yep PER TIRE! There must be some gold in the construction of that tire somewhere! I love those tires, but I thought for the summer season I don't really need 4.6" tires and considering how the rocks and stuff wear out tires I figured I'd be better off getting some cheaper tires for summer. I had been running On One Floaters on my old FB-4, so I went there again for the new bike. They now have some colored versions of these tires and they're even cheaper than the black tires. I wish they had red to match the rest of the accents on my bike, but orange will have to do. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Winter is over!

I think I can safely say that winter has left the building. I suppose there's a chance we'll see a bit more snow before it really starts to warm up, but cold rides on frozen ground are done for the season. I feel like a psychic buying a fat bike this past fall, perhaps the best winter for riding that I can remember. I am certain that at least some of those rides would have been fine on a regular bike, but there were some that would have been impossible and most would not have been as much fun.

Specialized just released the tires that are on my fat bike for sale individually, tires are a consumable and you know you're going to have to buy new ones eventually. The tires on that bike are $160 a piece! They are great tires, but I could put four tires on my car for the price of two bike tires? Crazy. I ordered some cheaper (though still stupid expensive) tires for summer use. I figure riding in snow doesn't do much to wear down a tire, so if I only use these in winter they should last 2 or 3 seasons. The new ones I ordered are a bit narrower too, I don't need 4.6" of tire for summer riding anyway.

I took a ride on my Niner yesterday, it was great to get out and push a bit. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, riding two hours at a pretty good pace did not seem hard at all, even after doing 30 miles on the road bike the day before.

So I guess its on to Spring time, warmer weather and all the great things that come with it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What do you look forward to?

I went to a retirement party this week for a former colleague who is basically my age. He's got younger kids and a wife that brings in enough money that he doesn't absolutely need to work. I was talking to another friend at the party about how much I was looking forward to retirement, an obvious topic of discussion at a retirement party.

He looked at me very seriously and said "you can't look forward to retirement, you have to live NOW!". It really stopped me in my tracks and made me think hard about it. I really try to seize the day whenever I can, whether its a ride, climbing, playing music or just hanging out with the family.  I need to realize how special those moments are and make sure they happen more and I cherish each and every one of them.

My friend's comment made me realize that while I'm very active in my life, I need to let the little things go more and really challenge my overall view on life.

This is it, take every moment.

This same kind of thing came up yesterday when we were having lunch with our daughter - she was commenting how cluttered (bordering on messy, ok it is messy) our house is. We could spend all our time cleaning up and making our house a museum or we could go climbing, riding or play music. Judge me on the cleanliness of my house if you want, but I won't judge myself that way.

I had a great ride this morning on snowmobile trails in Union. It was a fast crank for 12.5 miles, so much fun flying into the corners - lots of ups and downs to play on. I absolutely love that new fat bike, its so much fun.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shoulders and more zipper riding

I've had this nagging pain in my shoulder for the last 2-3 months. I've been using the age old remedy called "ignore it and hope it will go away". That worked great for a little while, but its getting worse, I think I need to get it looked at. I'm hoping its just a strain and backing down a bit from climbing and biking will let it heal, but I guess I need an MRI to rule out any damage before I go down that road. I hate being injured. Right now biking and climbing (and physical exercise in general) is a huge part of my life. Obviously I know I can live without it, but psychologically I'm in a much better state when I get out in the woods and get my blood pumping. More to come on that I guess.

I got out for a solo ride at Case last night - once again I could ride on top of the crust, it made for a great ride just cruising among the trees, I had to ride some trails which were very bumpy, that definitely did NOT help the shoulder situation.

First band practice tonight in 3 weeks, I can't wait.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Riding the zipper at Case

I spent the week cooped up in a conference center in Florida, sometimes those things are OK for a break from work, but its quite another story when you're one of the presenters. I did seven presentations in 4 days and countless meetings. By the time departure time rolled around last night I was sleep deprived, protein deficient (I'm a vegetarian and while there was plenty of food without meat there was very little with protein!) and bloated. Free beer is great, until its not, I'm not much of a drinker so even having 2 or 3 beers for four nights in a row is radically different than my normal intake. 

I took Friday off, and pretty quickly got crabby at my wife, it didn't take long for her to insist I get outside and get the cure for my surliness. 

I have this new Fatboy and it was time for a proper ride. 

I had heard via various social media that conditions were getting really good, so I was psyched to get out on the trail and see for myself. We have about 8" of hard, compact and frozen snow on the ground, you can ride just about anywhere, even where no one has packed it down. In fact most of the packed down trails are so post-holed that riding them is a filling loosening experience. 

I did 11 miles of goodness today - about 80% of it was off trail, today the woods were my skate park.

There were a few places that were just plain ice, but not many and it was pretty easy to spot them (I only went down twice). This was one icy spot, but with a straight on approach it wasn't bad at all. For reference in the summer this is a pretty intense roller - less than half the riders I ride with will ride it. The snow makes it a lot more benign, though the ice added a little difficulty to it. 

A little shadow play

I had planned on taking a lot more pictures, but I forgot to charge the camera and with half charged batteries, it didn't last long in the cold temps. 

I'm getting more medicine tomorrow morning, I can only remember 3 or 4 times in the last 25 years of riding where we have snow you can ride on top like this, its really fun. About 30% of the time I was zippering through the top layer, meaning a regular bike probably wouldn't be able to sit on top at all. I only spun through the top layer 3 or 4 times in 11 miles of riding.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New bike in the house

As anyone who has read this blog knows I love my fat bike, and this winter has been really good for a fat bike with fat bikeable snow on a quite a few weekends where a regular bike just wouldn't work. I also rode it quite a bit before the snow came, having quite a few excellent rides on dirt.

After a few months I couldn't help but think how much better the fat bike experience would be with a lighter bike, just to be clear "couldn't help but think" is a synonym for "obsessed about". I considered upgrading parts on my bike bike, but it just didn't seem like a good investment to put expensive parts (fat bikes are stupid expensive just because they are fat?) on a cheap frame. The frame is actually not that heavy, though there are surely lighter frames out there.

I had pretty much decided to build a bike based on a China direct carbon fiber fat bike frame. None are available yet, but I got an email from a manufacturer saying they would have frames available in June or July. I researched and searched for parts and even bought a few. I posted a few questions up at MTBR and someone suggested that I could buy a pretty nice bike for about the same amount. While that's true, I think you could probably end up with a lot lighter bike.

I can't say why, but I started calling some Specialized shops in the area asking if anyone had the Fatboy in stock. Its been a very hard bike to find apparently, but the bike shops are starting to get them in. As I called around all the bike shops told me they had customers who had deposits down, but no bikes incoming. Eventually I called Family Bike in Agawam, MA and they said they had two on the way that were unspoken for - one was a Large.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty cheap and I don't spend this kind of money on a whim. After talking to Dawn and thinking about it overnight, I called the bike shop back and told them I wanted the large.

This week I was traveling for work and I got a text from the bike shop with a picture of my new Specialized Fatboy. I got the chance to take a ride this morning, conditions were great for the first hour while temps were below freezing.

I was seriously concerned that this fat bike would be just like my other fat bike and I'd have buyer's remorse, even though the bike looks awesome and its about 8 pounds lighter than my other fat bike.

I had nothing to worry about, the bike was awesome! The 4.6" tires were a great improvement over the 4" ones on my old bike. So much more control and traction, there were definitely hills that I didn't expect to make up that I made no problem. I like the geometry and the lighter weight is definitely noticeable. I would love to know the weight difference between the old and new wheels - it really seems like this bike accelerates a lot better than the old one. Conditions are so much a part of fat biking that its hard to say too much, but so far so good. By the second hour the temps got above freezing and things started to get kind of mashed potatoe-y. Great morning out on the trails.

Monday, February 17, 2014


We got 3-4" of snow Saturday night, so Sunday I took the skis up to Crandalls. I missed out on several other opportunities with friends, but it was a somewhat hectic weekend and I had a limited window of time to recreate.

Conditions were as good as they get in the woods here in CT. The breakable crust was under enough snow that it didn't impact the skiing at all - nothing but smooth sailing no matter where I skied. I skied around off trail looking for the best hills and tracks through the trees. It was a good time, but breaking trail for 2 hours is quite a workout!

I did get to follow the snowshoe path for a bit, when I hit this it was like jumping onto a super highway, so fast and smooth compared to breaking trail.

That's it, sorry I didn't take more/better pics.