Been a long time since I rock and rolled, mmm-mmm

Hello poetry lovers. I haven’t blogged in a blue moon, but since there actually was one a couple of nights ago, it’s time!

So much is new… let’s start with the bike:

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It’s a 23″ Carver Gnarvester. I pirated the 29+ wheels that Mike C built for my Pugsley and re-laced them to some hope hubs. Running Sram’s cheapest 11 speed (X0?). Cable discs of course, but not the old standby! Using TRP Spykes which beat the old BB7s hands down. With carbon fork, the bike comes in at about 29 pounds.

Turns out my surly frame bag fits passably. I’ve chucked the anything cages, they were too fragile. But I am trying out the Blackburn cargo cage on my down tube. My tent fits under there! (Except poles, which are in the frame bag.) The old Viscasha holds my clothing. The top tube bag is a new addition. It was made by Greg Wheelwright in my home town of boulder. Check out his stuff, it’s top-tier.

More to come…

Knard-ly

I aired up the Knards yesterday but not before weighing them. FWIW, one weighed 966g and the other, 1000g. At first this seemed like a huge variation but as a percentage of total weight it’s only about 3%.

Started looking online for a “lightweight” spare tire to carry on tour this summer. I know, everybody is going to tell me not to carry a spare, but since I’m touring solo it would be a real drag to destroy a tire 50 miles from anywhere, alone (and the sidewalls on the 120tpi Knard are mighty thin!). It looks 29×2.4 tires are 800g+, so I am either going to bite the bullet and carry a spare Knard, or else carry something much lighter (like a Schwalbe Racing Ralph @628g), that I’ll never use except in dire emergencies.

I was going to try to ride the new hoops this weekend but I don’t have disc rotors yet. I thought about pulling the rotors off the LM wheels but the prospect of moving rotors around does not appeal to me — when I’ve tried to do so in the past I end up with rotors that aren’t flat. So I’m just going to wait until Wednesday, when my new rotors are supposed to arrive. Will change the pads at the same time, as they are really needing it! Stay tuned…

Psyched!!

Well, lots of activity around here lately. My ex is taking the kids on a 2-week trip right after July 4th, so that gives me two weeks to hit the Divide! I’m planning to drive from my home in Boulder, CO to Butte, MT. From there either I’ll ride north to Polebridge, circle back to Columbia Falls, and rent a car back to Butte, or else I’ll rent the car at the beginning and do the same route in the other direction. It would be somewhat easier to navigate the route N-S because that’s how the map narratives are set up. The advantage of going S-N is that if I find myself running short on time, it’s easy to cut the trip short. Would hate to have to rent a car twice, once at the beginning and once at the end. Still pondering that one.

Incidentally, I may have to change my blog name, because I might not be as “Phat” as originally planned :-). Just this very evening I received these bad-boy hoops from MikeC

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Yes, those are genuine Rabbit holes, laced offset for the Pugs, and folding Knards. MikeC is one of the only shops that has all these goodies in stock and ready to go!

I’m going to try these out for the next few weeks to see if I’d rather do the ride on these. I suspect the answer is going to be “yes”, but anything is possible. I’m anxious to see if these will roll as smoothly as the fat wheels. I haven’t weighed them yet, but I’m pretty certain I will save at least 2 pounds per wheel vs the LM/Larry donuts that I’m using right now!

I’ll report back after I’ve aired them up this weekend!

Cyber Monday

Hope everybody had a great turkey day (and black Friday)!

I just wanted to pass along a great deal that is going on through Monday, November 26. Bikewagon.com is offering 20% off everything (except complete bikes) using coupon code GTWS. And free shipping! I decided this was the opportune moment to pick up two items that I’ve been on the fence about for a long time: a Revelate Viscacha and a Surly MWOD chainring set.  I’ve been wanting to try the Viscacha for a long time but I could not see spending $135 for a seat bag. With 20% off of Bikewagon’s normal $122 price, it ended up costing me less than a Benjamin.  That I can handle.

Still waiting for some snow here on the front range of Colorado…

Salsa Anything Cage

After receiving my Salsa Anything cages, I scratched my head for awhile trying to figure out how to mount them on the Pugsley’s fork. I was intending to clamp them on with hose clamps, but I discovered that on the right (curved) fork blade, I couldn’t find any orientation of the cage that would put all three of the mounting holes in contact with the fork blade. I didn’t want to stress the cage unnecessarily, so I posted a question on mtbr.com in the fatbike forum to solicit ideas. A forum user named JR Z came up with this one: screw an old rack strap (the flat kind, with a 90 degree twist on the end) into the canti boss and the lower rack mount. A picture is definitely worth 1000 words, so here’s the result of my first try:

Salsa Anything Cage on rack strap

Mounting the Salsa Anything Cage on a rack strap attached to the cantilever boss and the lower rack mounting hole.

This shows the cage after I drilled the rack strap but before I put the two additional bolts into it.  Subsequently, I inserted the bolts through the cage holes and screwed them into locknuts on the back side of the strap.

You have to bend the strap a bit at the top where it connects to the canti boss, and drill out the hole to be large enough. I haven’t done the curved fork blade yet, but I expect that all that will be different is the the top end of the strap will have to be bent a bit more.

The mount seems really solid and you don’t have to scratch up the paint on your fork. If you don’t have any rack straps lying around, you can order them from Universal Cycles.

A big shout out to JR Z! 🙂

Gear thoughts

A few things I’ve tried lately, or am about to try.

First, I tried out a Vredestein Bull Lock tire as a “lite” alternative to the Surly tires.  The Bull Lock is billed as 26×2.35 but is widely (ha-ha) considered to be one of the fattest non-DH tires out there.  It airs up nice and plump on the Large Marge rim — close to 3″.  Here’s a photo of it on the Pugs, right next to my Stumpjumper with Cane Creek wheels.  Quite a difference those rims make!

Vredestein Bull Lock

The Vredestein Bull Lock 26×2.35 tire on the Large Marge rim and on a Cane Creek XC wheel.

The tire rode reasonably well on the Pugs.  The main problem with it was that it had a diameter of 27″ vs. 29″ for the Endomorph that it replaced.  This lowered my bottom bracket by about 3/4″.  I changed my seat angle to compensate, but I still felt like I was riding a Schwinn Sting-Ray at times, and I did strike a pedal once in a corner.  Plus, it just wasn’t as plush as the Surly rubber.  It wasn’t bad, but not what I was used to.

Having said all that, I think that this tire has a place as an emergency spare on a tour. It weighs half of what a Larry weighs and it’ll certainly get you to the next town competently enough.  Think of it as one of those 50-mile spares that you get with most compact cars nowadays.

(Note: OTOH, I really dislike this tire on my racing wheel.  It has a “lightbulb” cross section on this wheel because it is so much wider than the rim.  It flexes like crazy under cornering loads, and I’m afraid I’m going to rip it right off the rim if I get too aggressive.)

The next item I want to waste your time talking about is the innertube I used. Big deal right? Well, what if there were a fat tube that weighed half of what the Surly tube weighs? There is: it’s the Avenir 26×2.40-2.75 tube. I got it at my LBS. (Searching online, I can only find the schraeder version of it. When I search for “Avenir presta 2.75” I get lots of pages that claim to be selling it, but the picture is definitely nota picture of this tube.)

Comparison of a standard MTB tube, the Avenir 2.75, and the Surly tube.

The Avenir tube, when flattened, is nearly the width of the Surly, but it weighs 210g less.  This is a huge difference! Although I’m running tubeless, I still have to bring spare tubes on tour in case of a loss of tire pressure. (Can you imagine pumping up a tubeless Larry with a hand pump?) Two of these weigh a full pound less than two Surly tubes.

I’m running one with a Larry on my rear wheel right now to see if it holds up, and so far, so good. I will of course give it a good look-over when I remove it to put in the Stan’s sealant to make sure it isn’t getting ready to blow out.

On to gear that I haven’t tried yet but will any day now.  I’ve decided that to haul my stuff, I’m going to use a pair of Salsa Anything Cages on my front forks. I should be able to put my tent in one of them and my sleeping bag in the other. No, I don’t have a magic way to attach them, I’m going to use hose clamps even though it’s butt-ugly. Remember, I’m just doing a few short tours this summer. If I find that these are as great as everybody says they are, maybe I’ll spring the money to have bosses brazed onto my fork for next summer. I sure wish Surly would get with the program and offer an offset Pugs fork with the braze-ons already installed!

On the back, I’m going to install a Bontrager rack that I picked up at a LBS on sale. The rack itself it light, about 500g; the attachment hardware is a boat-anchorish 200g more! So I went to the hardware store and bought some P-clamps, which I will use to attach some lightweight rack stays that I pirated from another rack (total weight: about 60g). I realize you probably can’t visualize what I’m talking about, but I’ll post pictures once I get around to installing it.

On this rack, I’ll try to get all my clothing to fit into my 20L dry bag, otherwise I’ll have to use a set of panniers that I have lying around. You might think, 20L of clothing? What the hell? Well, the thing that I’m concerned about is a spare pair of shoes.  At size 15, they take up about one entire pannier, or most of the dry bag.

As an alternative to a spare pair of shoes, I might try to get by with my Keen Commuters as my sole (ha-ha) pair of shoes. Although they don’t feel quite as efficient as dedicated riding shoes, and they aren’t quite as comfortable to walk in as dedicated walking shoes, they do a reasonable job of both. In fact they’re by far the most comfortable riding shoes I’ve ever worn. I’d be leery of setting off on a through-ride of the GDMBR with nothing but these, but I think that they may be just the ticket for the shorter rides that I have planned this summer.  I may find that they are all that I need when I tackle the rest of the route.

Then of course, there’s the Revelate frame bag. I’ll be carrying a 4L water bag in here, along with food, tools, you know, the heavy stuff.  I am not planning to carry a water filter, as I think they’re a pain-in-the-ass. For dire emergencies I will use chlorine dioxide tablets. They’re cheap, they’re small, they weight nothing, and everybody thinks they’re great. The only thing they can’t do is get rid of sediment, so the water might look gross, but it will be safe to drink.

In addition, I just received a pair of Revelate mountain feedbags. I’m currently using them just for water bottles. I’d like to put a camera and other sundries like sunscreen in one of them, but I don’t know if I’ll have enough water capacity. We shall see.

One last thing, I have a Titec J-bar that I’m going to try out. I’m just waiting for some thumb shifters that I ordered to arrive ’cause grip shifts just won’t cut it on these babies.